- "To my sister,
I am writing this to you while I still can. Before anything else, I ask that you forgive me. I have failed, both myself and others. But worse than that I have fallen. And I did not realize how far I had strayed until it was too late.
Hikari, there are certain things in this world of which you are yet unaware of, and it is likely that you won’t believe much of what I say to you here. But make no mistake: I am not here to make excuses for myself, I am here to explain how I failed, and what I did to deserve my fate. Although I can’t tell you everything, I will tell you all that I know, while I still have time. It is my hope that you will avoid making the same mistakes that I did, that you will choose to walk a different path.
It is evident that life is about choices. Some we will regret, some we are proud of. And some will haunt us forever. For this reason choices must be calculated, and made carefully. For me, I chose to follow the darkness, and it swallowed me. It swallowed all of us. And it began first with the death of our father. The road I took then gradually became steeper, until I had lost myself almost completely...
It was then that the rift opened above Osaka."
- Osaka Bay, 50 km offshore
The sea was unusually calm that night. As always, a stiff breeze was pushing against the stern of the sturdy fishing craft, but they cut through the waves without much resistance. The water was glassy and deep, and dull black as they made their way out of the bay and towards the open sea.
Kabuto, the ship’s navigator, drank deeply from his thermos of coffee as he stared bleary-eyed out the window. It was well past sundown, and not a shred of light could be seen on the horizon. Only the charcoal smudges of clouds were visible, barely caught in the illumination of an emaciated sliver of moon. Kabuto took another sip of coffee as he readjusted a dial on the panel. The lights in the dim, closed room shone off his skin eerily, casting a strange orange pallor over his face. He was not one for night fishing, but the fish were, and catches were always larger after midnight. That is how he found himself here, in the middle of the sea, and as usual, he would have preferred to stay on shore.
No one on the ship noticed it, but 1,770 meters above the surface of the water, the high winds were beginning to coalesce into a tight knot, followed by the crushing together of some unnamable force.
It was as if the sky itself was folding in on itself.
Without warning, without a single precipitous tremor, the sky burst outwards at that singular point of pressure. A black line cut across the canopy of dark blue, and from it a wave of unknown mass slammed down on the barge, pushing it further into the water and causing the navigation panel to scream. But Kabuto was no longer there to monitor the dials. Like everyone he saw it, and like everyone he rushed out onto the deck to stare up at the sky with open eyes and mouth.
Whatever calm there had been before was now completely forgotten as the wind screeched and howled all around them: its origin the rift above. Light poured from the fissure in strange, linear patterns. The colors of bright blue and purple and green mimicked the most spectral beauty in the natural world, but this was obviously not natural. Whatever it was there was something sinister to it, and an inexplicable primordial unease settled in the pit of Kabuto’s stomach. Narrowing his eyes, he thought he could see black movement against the light. A writhing of cephalopodic limbs reaching out to touch the sky.
“What the hell is that?” someone shouted above the noise of the wind, the groaning of the ship under pressure. Like the blotting of black ink, dark figures dropped from the sky. Kabuto watched their descent, and observed rather distantly as one of them crashed into the deck of the ship. The impact sent the entire craft reeling side to side, far enough where water spilled over the tall steel sides of the ship.
But none of that mattered now.
Kabuto’s eyes had locked with those of the monster. They appraised him evenly for a moment, glowing dots of red set within the amorphous black shape of its head. It seemed to Kabuto as though there was a flash of blue as it split open its jaw, in the toothy grin of a predator. And in that instant, he knew he was going to die.
Vaguely, he was aware of the other sailors screams as another monster appeared, this time emerging from the water to wrap serpentine steel coils around the body of the ship. The entire craft was pulled against its will, slowly, painfully, it was dragged beneath the water, offering little resistance as the hull began to buckle and fold.
Kabuto himself was rooted to the bridge, and he could only stare as the red eyes of the monster rushed towards him to pull him in...
To drown him in teeth and blood.
Only a few minutes later, the sea had returned to its former state, only one spot of black darker than the rest of the water to mark where the ship had even existed.
But 1,770 meters above the surface of the water, light and pressure still emanated from the black rift. For an instant the split seemed to draw its own forces back into itself, and the sky became still for a brief moment, in the stillness that came before death. Then there was an explosion, a violent outpouring of power, and its keen shockwave could no doubt be felt even in Osaka, some 50 kilometers away...
Michiyo tossed and turned in her sheets, unable to sleep. It could have been nothing more than the complaining of old bones, but she did not feel as though that were the case. At last she turned over onto her back, and staring at the ceiling thought: Perhaps some fresh air will do me good. With that resolved, she got up and went down the stairs to the kitchen, which was located at the back of the shop. There was a deep silence over the place that sent chills running down her spine. A few, soft blue lights shone over delicate flower sprouts, and the faint glow cast strange, dark shadows on the wall. Michiyo first poured herself a glass of cool water— her throat had suddenly gone dry, and then stepped out the backdoor to breathe in the fresh night air.
Salt from the sea was on the breeze that night, and the atmosphere was warm, calm, and almost balmy. Still, for whatever reason, she felt slightly ill at ease. Looking south towards the horizon, she drew in her breath suddenly, and the glass she was holding slipped and shattered on the concrete below.
Like the Garganta that heralded the arrival of demons from a hollow world, a black split had appeared in the sky. Strange lights were pouring from the fissure, and it was clear that the rift was miles away, and yet it was large enough to be seen clearly even from here, on the back patio of the Ikebana Shop. But what had startled her the most was the sudden wave of pressure that had slammed into her, throwing her back against the side of the building.
“What on earth?” she murmured.
Now fully alert, she could hear snatches of sinister howling above the wind. They were not the sounds of Hollows, of that she was certain, and yet they were no doubt similar. Narrowing her eyes, which were still sharp even after seventy-two years, she scanned the sky for signs of movement. Sure enough, black dots had appeared, making steady progress towards the shore— gaining steadily closer.
“Hmph,” she frowned deeply as she mused to herself.
It seemed a storm was coming.
There was a heavy sigh as the glass door rattled, its frame shuddering under a less than gentle closure. Kōhaku looked in at the darkened lobby of the building he'd just left. Dim lighting fed a shady and uneasy atmosphere over the vacant halls and desks, though it was a power saving measure, it always gave the young man a feeling of ominousness. A hand pressed against the muscles in his neck, lightly massaging at what had become stiff and sore after a long day of discussing statistics and marketing tactics all the while looking at poorly made PowerPoint slideshows.
"Long day Morimoto-san?", asked a guard that had stepped into view, likely on his route around the perimeter of the building. "Hehehe, yeah", he replied. "If I close my eyes I can still see the pie-charts".
"Best hope you don't dream of them too, unless its normal pie, mm?", the guard joked in response.
"I think I'd settle for some onigiri instead, I'm starving", as if right on cue Kōhaku's stomach grumbled fiercely. He hadn't eaten anything all day, apart from a couple of bites of an omelette that morning. "Ah, we got some rice bowls and a few strips of eel cookin' in the guard station, feel free to dip in and have some".
"Oh, thanks, you have a good night Kamiki-san", Kōhaku, delighted by the offer was quick to start making his way towards the guard station which sat at the edge of the large skyscraper his company occupied in Ikeda. "You too, sir", said the guard just within earshot of the white haired businessman.
It was thirty minutes later, not too long after midnight, that Kōhaku was walking the streets, he lazily counted the street lights as he passed under them, as he did every night in order to pass the time. Dancing around the area, his eyes saw only the splotches of white made up by the numerous lampposts and the surrounding darkness of a rather thick night. The street was empty aside from the occasional passerby. It was quiet, and dull. That was until he felt a palpable twist in the air around him. What was previously calm and breezy had rapidly become incredibly dry, the atmosphere twinged with a sense of impending dread. Something called his attention upward and his eyes widened in shock when he saw it.
There was a hole in the sky. As if God himself had lanced the world.
What followed were twinkles of sinister lights that Kōhaku could barely make out. "Good job, Kōhaku, forget your glasses today of all days, right?", he complained to himself. The streets weren't so dull after that, the air was positively alive with the howls of beings unnatural. "Oh... shit", he muttered, suddenly bringing his voice down to a dull roar.
He could feel the eyes of whatever was out there were already on him though.
Kalyn may have appeared to be a pretty gem straight out of a noble household at a first glance, but she was a tomboy at heart. In the garage of her small, two story house near one of Ikeda's larger neighborhoods, she was kneeling next to a rather large red and black motorcycle, her face and clothing dotted with black oil marks as she tightened a bolt on one of the bike's inner rods. Tools ranging from handheld size to table sized were littered about her in a disorganized fashion, indicating that this had occupied most all of her evening. The bike's design was sleek and nearly futuristic, but appeared to be made with nothing but speed in mind.
"Phew, almost done." she muttered lowly to herself as she finished tightening the bolt and setting the wrench down next to her. She stood up and stretched her back briefly, yawning at the same time. "Well, that certainly didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would." she said as she turned around to grab a mirror from the desk behind her. Upon seeing her numerous marks she acquired while working on the bike, she sighed, her lips forming into a pout as she set it back down. "Great, now I have to spend all night trying to get this crap off of me..."
Slipping her boots off, she stepped towards the door of the garage that led to the rest of her house and went inside. Her house was plain and clean, a stark contrast to her own appearance. The lower floor appeared to consist of just a kitchen and a living room with a front door leading out into the street and a back door which led to the yard behind her house. Heading upstairs, which held two bedrooms and a bathroom, she made her way towards the later, yawning again as she did so. The bathroom contained a window that gave her a nice view of the city and partially the ocean beyond, and it was here that her evening would take a dark shift in mood.
She stepped into the bathroom only to slide and stop, groaning slightly. "Ugh, I forgot to get some towels from the drier." she mumbled, turning around to descend back down to the ground floor, but she had to stop once again. Her eyes briefly sparked green as she turned back around to look out the window of her bathroom. Upon seeing the hellish maw that had opened in the sky, she seemed to freeze in place for several seconds, but was able to quickly snap back to reality. Immediately, she ran back down the stairs and into the garage, frantically putting her boots on and throwing on a leather jacket that was on her work desk, before opening the garage door and hopping into her maroon colored car. The screech of her tires would wake up the entire neighborhood as she sped out of her driveway and towards the shorefront, more specifically, the gaping hole in the sky.
"Those assholes won't be able to reject this story..." she smirked as she flew down the streets, towards her new late-night destination.
The night had brought such a nice evening; soft winds blowing through the houses of many while the darkness tucked everyone to their restful sleeps. Almost everyone. Not all are enjoying the nice evening where the breeze blows through the windows and fills the entire room with cold and nice air. Some may be busy with their respective businesses, some may be busy with their work, some may be busy finishing up their jobs for the night. And one particular person was enjoying the silence of the road that was bathed with such fresh and chilling breeze.
Footsteps were heard throughout the night ever since the sun sets and darkness falls. They were still, bringing the essence of clarity as the soles touch the ground. Smooth, yet elegant, and they were set to an even pace, where the footsteps continuously roam around the roads, suggesting the one exercising possessed enough stamina to keep up the entire pace without stopping, for hours at that. The girl kept on jogging, passing each house with clarity and silence, well, without the footsteps, anyway. Still, the footsteps themselves were soft and clear unlike many whose footsteps are heavy and intimidating with every step they take, suggesting the girl possessed a humble and gentle persona as well. Her messed up purple hair jiggles by every step she takes.
Ran enjoyed the night with such a soft and excellent jogging exercise; it is what she cherished, after all. Her prominent leg muscles pop up with her veins constantly appearing around her calves with every step she takes, her shoes being the pair that she loved the most. The beauty of her features were rather fresh and kept well, without any signs of sweat dripping or sliding down her features.
The beauty of the night soon came to an end, however, as Ran expressed both fear and surprise as her warm brown eyes focused upon the sudden appearance of a ginormous maw ripping through the skies of the city that left her open-mouthed for quite some time. Her reaction was exactly the same when she encountered the beast that killed off both her parents a long time ago. All soon came back into reality when her eyes blinked once.
Her peaceful jogging was abruptly interrupted, though in exchange, she is now running in danger, her heart thumping as if it was ready to jump out and run as well. Sweats now drip over her clothes and covered her sideburns, her leg muscles popping up constantly without any signs of end any time soon, and her hands were shaking.
"Ooh, brother," she said with a steady tone. "This late?"
Juro Kageyama gazed out the window. He had never been the best at concentrating, and at the moment the idea of finishing his maths homework didn’t really appeal to him. He sighed. He was so bored lately. It was a strange thought for a member of a secret organisation, who also possessed supernatural powers to have, but it was true. He fiddled with the bracelet on his left arm. Where he really wanted to be was at Xstence HQ. He liked the feeling of being around people who, he felt at least, understood him. He'd even felt distant from his sister and his parents lately. But he was doing this for them, so they could be safe, not just his family, but for the entire human race. Sighing again, he resigned himself to doing his homework, when something caught his eye. He got up from his desk and went to the window. He stared outside from behind the pane of glass, before opening it to make sure it wasn't a trick of the light. There was no mistaking it. There, in the middle of the sky, was a crack. It bore a resemblance to the Garganta used by Hollows, but somehow Juro could tell it was different. It didn’t seem as deep, and he couldn’t hear any Hollows, though this made his situation no less threatening. Suddenly, from nowhere, a shockwave blasted into him, knocking him flat on his back. Getting up painfully, he heard his parents shouting up to him, “Juro? What are you doing up there?” Scanning his mind for an excuse, he shouted back down, “Oh, that. Yeah sorry, I just fell off my chair.” After this incursion, his parents apparently lost interest as they pursued the matter no further. For Juro however, his mind was racing. What was that rift? And the shockwave? If it wasn’t Hollows then what was it? All these questions passed his mind. Five minutes later, his mind having been made up, he shouted, “Mum, Dad, I’m going out!” Without even waiting for a response, Juro grabbed his hoodie and jumped out the window.
He scouted the entire town, but he found nothing. He stopped in a down own area of Osaka. Although he felt alone, and the streets were empty, he felt as though someone was watching him. Putting his hood up, he quickly checked his pager. Nothing. Quickly turning on his heel, he took to the roof tops, leaving a flicker of green light in his wake. He was going to get to the bottom of this.
"Five, Six, Seven, Eight!" A youthful voice shouted in a very spacious room to herself. She first brought her hands over her head holding them high into the air, then dropped them to her side and allowed them to hit her thighs. Kicking her leg very high into the air, the held her left hand out and her foot made connection. Bringing her foot back down to the floor she leaped into the air with her legs spread out kicking the air. As she headed back to the ground instead of landing to her feet she landed in a perfect executed split. Standing back to her feet she clapped her hands together, and a large smile emerged across her face.
This young blonde-haired girl was none other than Sterling High School's varisty cheerleader, Amaka Yoshida. Amaka was the most popular student in her school and liked by nearly all, especially the young men attending the school. While such fame would probably lead most people of her status to follow the "status quo" Amaka instead distanced herself away from them while outside the walls of her school. It wasn't the fact that she didn't like the people, because in actuality she did. Frequently Amaka would help out with many of the things around the school need it be; picking up trash, painting the school walls, serving lunch in the afternoon. Whatever the situation called for, she was there. However, she bore a somewhat dark secret that she didn't want those within the school to necessarily discover without her being ready to tell them.
Now down with her nightly routine, Amaka walked over to her desk which was filled with stacks and stacks of paper. Picking up a very unique writing "pen" she continued to write on an existing sheet of paper. As the continued writing, a chill flash throughout her entire body. She quickly looked around her entire room searching for intruders. Though there was nothing. Stepping from her desk and hustling over to her window she stared into the sky. It seemed blank, as if it were gone or something. It was. In the sky sat a crack. Reaching to the speaker like object on her desk she pressed the gray button on it. Talking directly through it she states, "Mother, Father, I'm heading over to Xavier's!" A masculine voiced shouted back, "Be safe." Amaka reached for her cheerleaders jacket, and swing it around her shoulders swiftly putting it on. Heading to her room door she shot down the stairs of her very large home and out the front door. Getting into her corvette like car, she sped off.
Dipping the brush in the quivering blob of paint resting on her palette, Marie carefully began filling out the canvas in front of her with seasoned practice, biting her lower lip as she watched the sketched image come to life.
Stretching her lips in a large smile as she watched the painting in front of her gain all the colors of the rainbow, Marie took a few seconds to look out through the window in her atelier and down onto the buzzing city of Kyoto. She sighed in content as the warmth from the evening sun bathed the entire room, letting the temperatures rise. Small smudges of paint littered her face and the front of her dress, slowly drying up and cracking as she continued working on the canvas, with even a few splotches drying in her hair and making the dark strands stick together.
Suddenly a wave of ice-cold air swept over the atelier, despite all windows being closed, and immediately Saki froze, her brush barely hovering an inch over a blank spot on her canvas.
The sensation that something was wrong hovered in the air around her, making the young woman shudder for a few seconds, before she abruptly stood up quick enough for her chair to fall backwards.
Even over 55 kilometers away she could feel it spread, the horrible sensation of something being wrong just creep its way through the atmosphere and Saki shuddered inwardly.
Quickly washing off her palette and brushes she opened a window to let the room air out before hurrying out in her hallway. She fumbled with the shoelaces on her sneakers for a brief moment, her finger clumsy and awkward in her hurried state of mind, before finally succeeding in making a small, neat bow on both shoes. She grabbed her trench-coat and made her way out of her door, locking it behind her with quick, motioned movements, before practically flying down the stairs in her apartment-block.
Tetsuo did not leave the dojo until ten-thirty that night. It was the last Friday in May, with only a thin crescent moon in the sky, and a light breeze was pushing against his face as he walked down the deserted streets back towards home. Hikari was already asleep, no doubt, and Tetsuo wished he was as well. He had a splitting headache, the result of an accidental fall on the dojo’s hard wooden floor, and felt chilled despite the fact that he was wearing a light jacket. It was ironic. Most of his colleagues would probably experience the same symptoms in the morning, but from an entirely different cause. Tetsuo swung his knapsack to his other shoulder and buried his stiff hands in his pockets. Although the night was pleasant enough, he kept feeling tiny electric shivers run down his spine. Perhaps he had landed harder than he thought.
But no, something was off.
The air suddenly felt thick around him, a sticky pressure pushing down on his shoulders, and without warning a blast of wind slammed into him. It was accompanied by a spiritual pressure so intense it threatened to suffocate him. He looked to the horizon for an explanation. Fortunately he stood on a hill slightly elevated above the surrounding the streets, and could catch a glimpse of the harbor. What he saw there caused his pulse to quicken, he could feel as the blood began to rush through his veins. There was a rift in the sky, and an aurora of light poured from its depths. But what was the most threatening was the myriad of silhouettes moving across the sky—black shapes that were headed straight for Osaka. Although he could not determine exactly what they were, he could determine that they were not here with peaceful intentions. The threat was tangible.
Without another moment’s hesitation Tetsuo took off at a fast pace, heading north-west and away from the main mass of buildings that was Ikeda. The small town of Hōnara was located a short distance from the city proper, and that was where the old, abandoned school building that served as Xstence headquarters resided. He increased his speed as he neared Hōnara. There was a base modulator there at the school and if he could reach that he could alert the other members of the group, at least the ones within reach of Hōnara. They needed to regroup and form a plan of action as quickly as possible. An emergency meeting was in order.
A half-hour after the rift had appeared a message was paged to all local Xstence members:
"Emergency. Meet at HQ ASAP. Do not engage unidentified beings. Repeat. Do not engage."
With that, he hoped urgently that the other members of Xstence would receive the page. They too had most likely seen the hole in the sky, and would want answers. Tetsuo did not have those answers, but Michiyo probably did, and at any rate, he could venture a fairly accurate guess as to just what had emerged from the sky.
Speeding through the streets going about sixty miles per hour, Amaka rushed to the hole in the sky. When just a few miles away she heard a beeping sound coming from her glove department. Reaching to the handle of the glove department while also trying to watch the road, she grabbed a small beeper that had been blinking. Looking at the screen of the beeper she read the message to herself. "I can sense a few of the others as well. If I pass them by, I guess I'll give them a lift." Smashing her feet on the break, she drift turning her small corvette all the way around, and headed towards the Xstence HQ.
Juro gazed out over Osaka Bay. The rift was still hanging in the air over the sea, a blemish on the otherwise unmarked sky. As far as Juro could see, nothing was happening to the rift and he was happy so long as it stayed that way. The problem was, how did it get there? And how could he get rid of it? He was contemplating this, when, out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of several black figures flying at high speed emerge from the vortex, before heading straight towards Osaka town. "Shit...." he thought to himself. The figures had not spotted him, and hadn't done anything yet, but he could tell that they sure as hell weren't friendly. Raising his suddenly armored left arm, he gathered shadows to his fingertips, ready to release the darkness as a razor sharp spear. Just as he was about to fire at one of the figures, his pager finally pinged. Checking it with his free right hand, he read the message three times. Muttering under his breath, he discharged the shadows harmlessly. "Do not engage". Sighing he turned his gauntlet to a nearby corner. Shadows bubbled and swirled, until they rose up from the ground, forming a humanoid shape. Next, it took on a physical appearance, until it was almost indistinguishable from Juro himself. The shadow copy understood immediately what to do. Nodding to its creator, it ran off back towards the direction of his house. The last thing he needed was his parents worrying about him at a time like this.
When the clone had disappeared from sight, he himself began to run in the direction of the Xstence HQ.
In one of Ikeda’s deserted streets, empty due to the late hour, there was a faint, humming vibration in the air and, without warning, a sphere of energy phased into existence. It was Michiyo, who had teleported to that location using her Fullbring. Stepping out of the faintly glowing orb, she made her way quickly to the back of a small apartment building. Emi was probably asleep, but then again she was young and wild, so Michiyo could not be too sure. She paused when she came to the door and thought for a moment. Tetsuo had just sent out a message, and they needed to reach headquarters as soon as possible. That boy. She shook her head. Overreacting as usual. But the fact that spiritual beings were streaming towards the city put her on edge. She did not have time to dilly-dally. By pulling on the soul of the air beneath her feet Michiyo was able to rise up to the level of the window of Emi’s apartment, and she tapped gently on the pane of glass, waiting for the young woman to respond. If she did not, more drastic measures would have to be taken.
“Hmph.” Michiyo exclaimed irritably as she waited.
Marie stepped out of her small Honda as the moon shined down high above her, clicking the 'lock'-function as she absentmindedly walked over the edge of the water and stared out over Osaka Bay.
"The feeling is stronger down here by the water," she mused, her fingers playing with her car keys in her left pocket as she continued staring out over the water.
A soft buzzing in her right pocket caught her attention. Quickly pulling out her phone, Saki frowned as she stared down at the message displayed on the glowing screen.
"Do not engage? What the Hell?" Marie muttered before she skimmed over the rest of the words, "Well, if it's HQ where he wants us to go, HQ it is then..."
Marie turned around on her heel and swiftly made her way back to the small, white Honda, unlocking and starting the car before she sped off into the night.
It took only a moment for the quiet ominousness to transition into a tempest of tensions, the air rippled with the powerful trampling of foot steps as Kōhaku found himself in the charging path of what he could only describe as a monstrous rhino. A shadowy bipedal mass with several serrated horns on the front of its face stormed towards him.
It took a few moments for the shock to wear off before the young man could throw a hand into his pocket in order to withdraw his e-cigarette, but by then the danger had already passed. There was a glass shattering screech of a pulse as Emi Tenka appeared from seemingly nowhere. Her arm encased in an alien steel, and her fist embedded into the face of the rhinoceros-like creature, veering it off course and sending it careening into a wall.
"Your hero has arrived", she said confidently, pride welling up in her chest at the successful maneuver she had just pulled off. "W-wha-, well then, a-alright", Kōhaku was further taken aback but decided not to question it. They looked onward to find the beast emerging from the rubble it had been thrown into looking no worse for wear, either.
Kōhaku manifested his Fullbring with a nonchalant flash of light, and took to clasping the dynamite that manifested between his fingers, ready to throw them at a moment's notice. Both of the young Fullbringers and their opponent entered a brief stare down before the rhinoceros gave off a derisive snarl and faded away into the air.
"Aww, I was lookin' forward to dukin' it out with a rhino", Emi complained in jest, while Kōhaku took to evening out his breath instead. He never liked horror, and he certainly didn't like it when Lovecraft started to bleed into the real world. The scares weren't over yet though, as a pair of beeps began emerging from the pockets of both individuals suddenly, causing Kōhaku to briefly jump.
"Damn it, why does this have to happen to me?", he cried.
"Oh, boss-man wants us to meet up at the school", said Emi taking to ignoring Kōhaku's whining.
Kōhaku stared at her for a moment, a half-angered look on his face as he hoped to garner some form of sympathy from her. But minutes began to pass and all he'd gotten was an amused look in response. "L-let's go, maybe Momo-kun knows what's going on", with his attempts failing, the poor young business man decided to simply change topic.
"Agh, what's to know? We punch 'em, they die", Emi responded though she had clearly began walking in the direction of the school, and Kōhaku wasn't long behind.
The flash lasted for simply a couple of seconds before green mass of luminescence light engulfed Ran's legs that then took the form of colorful pair of boot-like equipment which shines upon the light of the moon.
With all of the effort she gave in order to complete her Fullbring, she knew this was the perfect chance to show off her true speed. She readied herself with a stance similar to a person ready to run, and within the blink of an eye, glowing luminescent light sparked behind her as she dashed as fast as she could towards her house. In this late hour, she wouldn't be the one worrying about others observing her Fullbring.
It took a mere second for her to check her devices for any urgent messages from either HQ or her friends and family, as well as to bypass all the black masses that form terrible beings without actually touching them. The words "Do not engage the unidentified beings." had given her such a pain, but maybe there is a good thing or two for not engaging them.
She flashed towards the direction of an old and abandoned school, moving through several places carefully with unrivaled speed, leaving all the blackness she encountered to linger by themselves, and of course, she knew she would be one of the first ones to arrive.
Michiyo, in the meantime, had phased through the window, scouring the apartment for any sign of Emi. She shook her head as she took in the sight before her. The girl had obviously just left, and now Michiyo had no idea where she was. But taking stock of the exorbitant amount of clothes and other various items lying scattered across the floor, a light came into her eyes. Scooping up armfuls of the junk, she piled it all on top of the bed before covering the lumpy mass with the covers. It was enough to completely fill the space, although it barely made a dent on the level of clutter in the room.
At that moment, she sensed a shift in spiritual pressure. It seemed Kōhaku was about to fight, and he was close by. Perhaps Emi was there as well? But without warning the sensation died away. What on earth are those two doing? She wondered. Well, she would simply have to find out.
Flying back out the window and using a few, flickering movements to glide through the air, she soon spotted the pair and came to land on the street behind them.
“Ah, there you two are,” she said. “I see you’re headed for the school— you weren’t just about to fight one of those creatures now, were you?” she asked, somewhat rhetorically.
"About to?", Emi replied, her chest puffing up with pride as she continued to flex her arm made ever more evident with the clattering metal of her manifested Fullbring. Kōhaku looked at her and everything about him drooped, Is everything a fight with her?. "One of them attacked me, Mrs. Tanaka, if it wasn't for Emi I might've been a smear on the wall", said the young man, explaining what had happened in an attempt to make it less malicious, or stupid. "It retreated as soon as it recovered from the blow, I'm not sure whether it was running or gauging us though".
“Hmm, I see...” Michiyo murmured and fell silent for a moment, staring off towards the horizon as if suddenly losing her train of thought. “It was from that hole in the sky, wasn’t it?” she asked, seemingly to herself. She turned back towards the two other Fullbringers and the corner of her eyes crinkled slightly as she extended her hand.
“Hmph, well now. We’d best see what it is that boy wants before chasing after any more of these monsters. Why don’t you two come along with me then.” It was a gentle enough suggestion, but there was a firm tone to her voice that made the request seem more like an order. Those creatures, could they be... She began to puzzle over the nature of the monsters, and gradually came to a conclusion. There was a small, confident smile in the corner of her mouth, although it was grim. This would not be easy, by any means.
The echoing of footsteps through silent halls was the only sound that could be heard as Tetsuo made his way through the abandoned school. He held his flashlight out in front of him, but still the faint pool of light did little to chase away the dark. He had just come from the control room where he had checked to make sure all the cameras were in working order, as well as disabling the electric fence. Now, the darkness closed around him, constricted him. He stepped around the debris and rubble that filled the floor, moving carefully around the wreckage. How the school had managed to avoid the destruction its condemnation had warranted for so long, he still did not know. But for now it was home, as dead and shadowy as it may be.
On the fourth level of the main building was the meeting room, and when Tetsuo entered the room he immediately went to the window to wait for the other members, who should have been arriving by then. He frowned and, pulling out a small notepad, began to draw up graphs and calculations.
Then he sensed as the first member arrived, and felt somewhat relieved. At least someone was here. Although it might have been unrealistic to expect a response in the middle of the night, what Tetsuo had in mind required more than few people, and he began to grow anxious.
At the end of the hall, the figure slowly moved through all the debris and the piles of rocks that were scattered around the floor. She lingered in the darkness with her hood obscuring the entirety of her facial structures, her hands well put tightly inside the pockets of her jacket. She had hoped this to be a warm and cozy night, uneventful, to be exact, but what was happening was polar opposites. It gave chills down to her back just to think about the otherwise would be an uneventful night.
She also had hoped that she isn't the only member coming, but only time could tell, and just as she thought, she was the first to arrive. Her legs walked in her normal pace, slightly slower in fact, showing that she wasn't in the mood for this. No one should be, who would expect such nice evening to turn out into a monster festival? At last she found herself within a room, with a different atmosphere. Her eyes instantly took notice of the person by the window.
“Hello Ran,” Tetsuo said, addressing the girl in a familiar manner. “I’m glad you are here, we will need everyone we can get for this.” he paused to glance once more out the window, then gestured for her to come over. “If you could come and keep a look-out for the others, it would be much appreciated.” He said. In the meantime he went over to the large rectangular table that filled the length of the room and pulled out a map that he had brought with him from the control room. It detailed the area around Ikeda, Hōnara, and the bay, and he poured over the terrain, placing markers here and there on seemingly random locations. Although he worked calmly enough, he was steadily becoming more and more anxious. Where were the others? He needed them sooner, rather than later. They did not have much time, after all.
Rolling into the abandoned parking lot, Saki cursed as she disabled her malfunctioning GPS and threw it at the seat beside her own, glaring at the small, offending machine as if it had personally wronged her.
Marie stared at the seemingly abandoned school from inside of her car, biting her lower lip as her eyes darted from one side to another as she took in the surroundings.
Someone was in there, other Fullbringers most likely, and slowly her lips parted in their trademark wide smirk.
"Momohara better have a decent cup of coffee ready in there," she muttered as she pocketed her car-keys and stepped out of the vehicle, "I have paintings waiting at home."
She started jogging towards the entrance of the building and, when inside, quickly began navigating the corridors simply out her sensing the reiatsu signatures far above her. She jumped over the holes in the tiles that she stumbled upon and finally made it to the stairs leading to the next floor, wrinkling her nose as she watched a small patch of puss from the ceiling drizzle down.
Continuing up to the fourth floor, Marie hurried down the corridor until she finally reached her destination.
"Momohara, Kobayashi," Marie greeted as she opened the door and stepped into the room, tugging her trench coat closer around her middle, "My GPS broke down, the damn machinery wouldn't work," Marie grunted, wrapping a lock of hair around her finger as she walked over to the table, "You got any coffee?"
Juro pushed open the door, breathing heavily. Even shadow walking hadn't gotten him to the HQ quickly enough so he had to rely on his high speed movement to get him there. Regaining his composure, he walked, hands in pockets, into the building. It had seemed rather gloomy and decrepit at first, but he had grown to like the old school. It made him feel safe. Making his way to the meeting room, he sensed the others were already there. Entering the room he nodded to the members present already. "Sorry for being late. I got held up. I had to take a detour around those things. Having said this, he found the darkest corner of the room and leaning there, hands in pockets. He wasn't sure how many others were going to respond at this time of night, so for now he would just have to wait. In any case, he hoped Tetsuo planned on giving him a good explanation pretty soon.
“Well Marie, it’s good that your GPS isn’t functioning, since you are only supposed to bring your pager with you to headquarters,” Tetsuo said, fixing a pointed look on the young woman before turning back to the map. “And no I do not have coffee.” he added absently a moment later. Juro had entered a short while afterwards, apologizing for being late, but Tetsuo assured him it was fine. Everyone else arrived soon after, with the exception of three members, one of whom was vital to the meeting.
“Did anyone see Michiyo on their way here?” Tetsuo asked, but everyone responded in the negative.
Just then, with a flickering luminescence a glowing orb phased into existence in mid-air, and a second later the field was dispersed. Michiyo, Emi, and Kōhaku appeared, conveniently having teleported directly to the meeting room.
“Oh, well now this is a surprise.” Michiyo said as she stood there and blinked. “Good evening everyone.”
“I’m glad you’re here.” Tetsuo stated, “Now we can begin.” He straightened up to address them as a group. “I’m sure you’re all aware of the rift that has appeared in the sky. While I have no good idea as to what it is, according to the Reiatsu detectors I’ve stationed around town, it has effected the level of spiritual pressure in the area, warping it and drawing it into itself, although it does not appear to be a Garganta.” he paused, then continued. “It also seems to be the point of origin for the... creatures that have appeared around the town—”
“Yokai,” Michiyo cut in. “They are Yokai, I’m almost certain of it.”
There was an uneasy silence, then someone asked:
“What are those?”
“Hmph,” Michiyo said, crossing her arms. “Who can say for sure? They are beings formed of the negative energies that exist between the worlds, born from the void and of the void. At least, that’s what my husband told me,” she said, almost as if she would trail off. “I have only ever seen one in my life before, but one thing is clear and that is that these are most certainly not Hollows.” She nodded with a certainty at that statement.
“Indeed,” Tetsuo mused. “Are they dangerous, do you know?”
“Hmph, the one Tomoya found wasn’t, although it was in a weak state and almost dead on its own.” she said, “Not unlike me.” She added playfully, which simply caused Tetsuo’s face to lose its color slightly. “Ah well, I’m sure not all of them are so mild in nature. They do bear a sinister nature, and if we decide to do something about them...”
“We will be forced to exercise extreme caution.” Tetsuo finished, to which Michiyo “hmphed” in agreement.
“In that case, I suggest we split-up.” Tetsuo said. “We will divide into pairs and spread out over town in order to find any of the Yokai that might have already landed here, and attempt to determine their intentions. If they are hostile, we drive them out. However,” he frowned, “I am going to investigate the rift. Perhaps I can find something useful regarding its nature and as to why it is here.” He turned to Michiyo, “You’ll come with me?” he asked.
“Hmph.” she nodded.
“Good. Since that’s been settled, I need volunteers. We have north sector, east, west, and south.” He looked around at the Fullbringers standing in the room. “I’d suggest picking an area that you are more familiar with; you’ll need to cover a lot of ground.”
Entering through the door Otoya carefully hid the bouquet he'd brought just for his chosen one behind his back. He'd been on his way to the headquarters either way, the time had come to make the greatest of all proposals, to put even Romeo and Juliet to shame, for the time had come at last. At least, it was supposed to be today, but then that rift had formed and then the genocide.. oh god, all those poor people.
Uh oh, his bottom lip was starting to tremble, he couldn't cry now, he had to be strong! For their sake, he'd get to the bottom of this, he was a hero now, one of the do gooders. Bravely wiping away the tears that had already begun falling from his cheeks, Otoya steeled his resolve and spoke loudly and with purpose, a bit too loudly perhaps. He had to be the first one, that'd impress his angel, his angel of logic and.. logic.
"I Kurogane Otoya volunteer to take the east sector, it's the area I'm most comfortable with, the make-your-own-teddy-bear store lies close by, it does, sir!" He had to wipe away a few more tears, this tragedy was overwhelming. How could these creatures do this to all those helpless people, he'd get them, he really would. Oh no, the trembling lip again, not the trembling lip, he couldn't do this now. He was all fired up now, burning like a wildfire, no amount of tender tears could douse these flames of manly rage!
Except tears of defeat that is, he took a moment to give Michiyo a short stare. He would not lose to her, his Nasty Accountant would reign supreme, what would his mother have said if he lost to some weird old baa-chan? Regaining his composure, Otoya stood straight as an arrow, body barely unmoving like a statue erected in the honor of the dead, he thought. This would surely get him the attention he craved, yeah, no way it couldn't.
"I can take the north," Marie said, fishing out a small booklet and a worn-down pencil before she absentmindedly began sketching in it, "Last I heard there was a new artistic store that opened, it might be worth checking out when it's sunnier outside... when I'm finished patrolling, of course."
She nodded towards Otoya as another grin stretched her lips, "I can give you a ride to your designated sector if you want to... if you do, I hope that you don't mind peppermint or loud K-pop."
Ran wasn't the fastest when it comes to thinking, but she knew where should go now; she opened her eyes while raising her hand, before her throat cleared up. With the slight sound of her cleared throat, all attention came to her. "I would like to accompany Saki-san to the northern sector," she said wisely, her eyes glanced upon the artistic woman before winking at her. "Perhaps you could take me there, Marie-san, if that's alright with you."
Marie shrugged and turned her smiling face at Ran, "Of course not. I can take one more to drop off somewhere, but not many more. My car ain't the biggest in the world."
"I don't mind covering the East with Otoya-kun", said Kōhaku piping up. The loud clack of his shoes on the echo-y floor trailing behind his every step as he moved across the room. Once he stopped, there was a single puff withdrawn from his e-cigarette. In times like these when tensions ran high and stress reached a breaking point, he could always feel the urge to return to smoking. He had promised himself he'd quit at least three times now, and each time had been a failure. A second puff of aerosol rose from the plastic imitation. C'mon Kōhaku, you can beat this, he managed inwardly.
Emi, who had taken a seat atop an empty desk while Tetsuo explained their plan, had taken to tapping a finger across the solid wood. Her tapping was muffled under the sounds of voices, and other forms of movement but quickly became the only thing filling the air once everyone stopped. She'd been contemplating which area she would investigate, the East and North were taken care of leaving West and South. She wasn't picky, and didn't much care, her only problem was a lacking memory. She had always been terrible with directions, she could remember her way to work one day, but not the next. Michiyo could vouch for that with how often Emi turned up late at the store.
"Ah... I'll take the West, I guess", she said, flinging her arm into the air with an apparent motion of defeat. She didn't wait for a partner to be assigned however, and already began making her leave from the room. Though there had only been one more member present at the time. "I'll handle this one solo, find Juro a partner to cover the South instead", her voice trailed off as she exited into the hallway.
Otoya fought back an unmanly sniffle, Marie-chan was so nice, it'd be like they were friends. No, not friends, they were pals, wait, super pals! "Thank you, Marie-chan. I love K-pop, it's a type of candy right? Those little brown chocolate covered orbs, yeah?" This was so exciting, he'd crushed on Saki before, now he could see why, she was so awesome.
Oh dang, bottom lip again, that darn lip. Hiding his face in his right hand, while he still clutched the bouquet of flowers in his left, Otoya furiously blinked back his tears, not now, he had to look cool in front of his crush. No, not crush, the person he had an intense admiration for, the person who pushed his manliness to new heights, yep. Right! Before he'd go, he would do what he originally came here to do. After all, this might be his last chance as he heads off to war!
Tightening his belt, Kurogane took three steps towards Tetsuo before handing him a modest bouquet composed entirely of purple lilacs. He made no effort to hide the blush that crept across his cheeks in that moment, and he did his best to suppress the urge to twiddle his thumbs. The boss would not refuse such a manly gesture, he was certain. How could you refuse what was potentially his last gift?
"These flowers, they symbolize the first emotions of love. Momo-nii, I just wanted to tell you, before I head out to war, that whenever I see you, you make my manliness rise!" He uttered his confession loud enough for everyone to hear, he'd been lead astray before, but this time, it was fate. Oh no, bottom lip, time to run.
Juro sighed in his corner and watched Kurogane's antics with an expression crossed between mild amusement and annoyance. "I'll take the South then. I know the area well and I should be able to cover it fairly quickly. I don't mind taking it by myself but if anyone wants to come along, then they're welcome." With this he followed Emi out of the room and set about his task.
Marie looked at Kurogane with raised eyebrows before sighing, "Kurogane-kun, K-pop is music, silly. It's not chocolate candy, as nice as sweets would be right now since someone didn't bring any coffee," she finished, looking pointedly at Tetsuo.
She let her pencil finish the last few details on her drawing before putting it away. She then headed for the doorway while pocketing both booklet and pencil in her trench-coat.
"I'm leaving now, c'mon people!" she called on her way out, stopping for a moment to look at Tetsuo over her shoulder, "Best of luck to you, Momohara!"
Tetsuo only blinked at the proffered flowers, and slowly, painfully, he rolled his eyes to stare at the ceiling. He had wondered, with mild curiosity, who had been the newest hapless victim of Otoya’s unwarranted affections, and now he knew.
“While I appreciate the sentiment, Kurogane-kun, now is hardly the time or place, as we need to focus on the mission at hand.”
Michiyo, on the other hand, seemed keenly interested in the sizeable bouquet. “Syringa vulgaris,” she pointed out, “Quite an interesting selection young man. No doubt you intended them as a representation for the springtime of love,” she said with a warm smile, and raising her finger she added, “Did you also know that some cultures consider them to be an omen of death? A harbinger, if you will.”
Tetsuo cleared his throat. “It may be best if we avoided discussing such a dark subject matter.” He said while lowering his gaze and giving the old woman a hard look.
“Ah, but of course.” She nodded once more towards Otoya. “A particularly excellent cultivar, nonetheless.” She said with a knowing wink, as she of course recognized their origin.
“At any rate, if that’s all been settled, there is no longer any excuse. We should move out at once.” Tetsuo said, appreciative of the few members who had already done so. Inwardly he was somewhat distressed. There had not been as many Xstence members present as he had hoped, and as such their numbers were rather stretched. He had hopped Kōhaku would have been able to come with him and Michiyo, but now that was obviously not possible, and at any rate would have been an impractical request. These and other factors only served to add to his unease, and he found his gaze straying uncomfortably towards the dark purple lilacs.
A harbinger... he mused, before promptly discarding the idea. Premonition only served to dilute rational thought, and he knew that whatever was behind the strangeness of the night must have a reasonable cause. He would find that cause. It was only logical, after all. So he ignored the instinctual fear that was lurking in the pit of his stomach and slowly spreading, eroding his insides like a virus...
It was nothing. He assured himself. Nothing at all.
Slip of Time
Ran put on her hood once more before the small Honda car. The otherwise uneventful night had given her the chills that run through her spines like a dozen of crawling spiders. Well, at least she wasn't alone in this mission; she had Marie alongside her, which should be a very exciting trip, considering the fact that Marie is a very lively woman. One small chatter should get things going.
"Nice car you have here, Marie-san," a smile that brought warmth to her body thoroughly was reflected upon her face as Ran's eyes were focused upon the small car.
"Nah," Marie groaned as she stepped over to the driver's seat, "This old piece of shit needs to see a mechanic... I think I'll need to clean it soon as well, 'cause that peppermint-smell is starting to get on my nerves and my CD-player is getting scratchy as well..."
Marie let her eyes slide over the surroundings of their surroundings for a few moments as her lips stretched into a thin smile, "This area should be perfect to train my Fullbring, there are loads of materials I can use!"
The woman's hood eclipsed over the entirety of her eyes as her rather thick lips form an evil smirk of sorts, making her figure feel somewhat aloof and gloomy, although whatever she was thinking could not be as dark as she looked just now. "You know, Marie-san," she spoke. "Your car should also be perfect to train my Fullbring."
"Really, huh?" Marie chuckled, playing absently with a lock of her hair as she shot the other woman a curious glance, "Any reason as to why that would be, Kobayashi? My interest is peaked now."
Juro walked out into the cool night air and inhaled deeply, before turning around to see if anyone had taken up his offer and decided to follow him. Seeing that they had not, he sighed and ran a hand through his hair, before letting it drop to cover his eyes. The nearby shouting of his fellow Fullbringers brought them to his attention. He glanced at their car wistfully. Truth be told, he couldn't wait to start driving. He wasn't sixteen for another couple of months, and he had already been recieving a few practice lessons. Tearing his gaze disappointedly from the car, he focused on the task at hand. At his side, his bracelet drew in darkness from the surrounding area, before expelling it outwards to cover his fore arm. Feeling the shadows coiling, ready to do his bidding, he drew them in close. He may not be able to drive yet, but until then.... Giving his teammates a slight wave, he scattered the shadows, reforming them in a back alley in the south of Osaka. He kept himself hidden by keeping the shadows tight to his body, but took a look around the alley. He had hoped it would be deserted at this time of night, but he was wrong. Two dark figures were standing by the entrance, discussing something in hushed tones. "I tell you what Okami, you near as dammit botched up that last one, you did."
"Stop going on about that will you? I fixed it didn't I?"
"Yeah you did, but the idea of mugging someone is to take money off them".
"How was I supposed to know he was the chief of police?"
"He had a badge which said Chief of Police and he was in full uniform".
Juro heard all of their bickering and smiled. At first he had been worried. They could have been Yokai or Arrancar, but they were just normal Human muggers, and by the sound of things they had about half a brain cell between them.
"Hey Okami, you see something?" One of the muggers stopped arguing with his accomplice and stared into the darkness at the back of the alley. "Shine your torch over there".
Stepping from the shadows and deactivating his Fullbring, Juro allowed himself to be caught in the light of the torch.
"Hey kid, who the hell are you?", the one called Okami asked.
"Oh me? I just work in the shop next door," Juro said with a smile.
The other mugger frowned. "Shop? Which shop? There are flats on each side of us." Finally realising the lie, the mugger said in a sinister voice, "Okami, now you can make up for the last one. Rough this kid up a little".
A grin spreading across Okami's face, he stepped towards Juro. Sighing, Juro took a step back, away from the advancing man, mockfear across his face. He kept backing up until... He felt the wall on his back foot. Kicking of it with explosive speed and power, Juro's leg caught the man in the chest, driving him backwards. Not letting up, Juro then jabbed him in the throat, before unleashing a short, brutal kick to the man's knees. He went down hard. Juro stepped over him, towards the next one. The momentary look of shock on the man's face turned to a smirk. "Fancy that. Okami being taken down by a child. Typical." He snorted, before reaching into his jacket to withdraw a flip knife. He pointed it at Juro. "Alright kid that's far enough. Hand over everything you have, and I'll think about not killing you". Despite the weapon, Juro was unfazed, continuing his path towards the man. "Fine. You asked for it", thrusting with the blade towards Juro's stomach. Grabbing the man's hand by the wrist, Juro then twisted it back sharply, causing a grunt of pain from the man. Snatching the knife from his hand Juro then pointed it at the man. "Get towards the back of the alley. Now". As the man did so, Juro hefted the knife in his grip. As the man reached the end of the alley, he said "Turn around". The man was hesitant but did so. Balancing the knife in his grip, Juro flung it towards the man with strength that could only have been delivered by a Fullbringer. The knife struck the wall right next to the ear of the man, the blade biting deep into the brick work. As the green light dissipated, Juro turned sharply and walked out of the alley, and onto the empty road and began looking for any signs of spiritual activity. Behind him, a faint whimpering sound came from the man, and a dark stain began to spread across his crotch.
It was then that the darkness on the edge of the alleyway began to draw in towards itself, and a figure materialized from the blackness. Two pinpricks of violet light glowed from the intangible mass, and slowly he began to shift, his body solidifying into a humanoid form.
It had been a long, long time since he had last set foot in the world of the humans. In the tumult of what could be called thoughts he recalled at least that much. It was the scent of the place that was familiar to him. Life swelled here. Timid and frail. He drew in a taste of the atmosphere around him, and instantly picked out a concentrated point of spiritual energy somewhere nearby. Very close by. And in the same moment that he recognized this fact, he realized another, and that was that he was hungry.
“Shi shi shi shi,” he whispered to himself as he began to follow after the shadow of the boy on the street. He crouched on the ground for a moment, drawing power into himself as black smoke rippled in an aura across his skin. He could feel the human’s heartbeat beating in the night, young, vibrant, full. “Shi shi shi shi…”
It didn't take Juro long to realise he was being followed. Perhaps it was the nearly percievable whispers that drifted to his ear. Perhaps it was the chilling sensation that ran down his spine. But these things aside, the thing Juro could not deny was the way the shadows coiled and writhed around his arm. Aiming his armour-clad hand behind himself, Juro turned on the spot, ready to fight. What he saw surprised him. A smoky black figure, with violet eyes. Slowly lowering his gauntlet when he saw the creature did not attack him, he said softly, "So you must be a Yokai. Tetsuo told me about you." He raised his hands in the air to show he was unarmed, if the creature understood such a concept. "I'm Juro Kageyama, with Xstence. Who are you and why are you hear?" Having said these words he watched the creature's reaction to see whether or not it could understand him.
“Shi shi shi shi,” the creature turned its head to the side and rotated it, farther than what should have been possible, and seemed to blink as it eyed him curiously, perhaps even cautiously...
And then it disappeared.
It remerged in the sky directly above Juro, and a small black orb had crackled into existence, held lightly in the curl of his hand. Without pause it rushed downwards, arm extended, the snapping of dark energy coupled with its constant whispers in an eerie shriek. At the same time black chains had crawled up from the ground around Juro’s feet, glowing softly with violet light and threatening to wrap around his limbs in order to trap him, to pin him to the ground as the black orb was thrust forward towards its target.
Juro's eyes widenend as he watched the oncoming black orb, before noticing the black chains that tried to pin him down. Acting on nothing but instinct, he leaped back, green light flickered around his feet. Realising it wouldn't get him away quick enough, shadows wrapped around his body, before dissipating and reforming on the other side of the road, depositing him on his back on the pavement, Quickly getting to his feet, he watched the attack smash into the ground where he had been standing, causing a shockwave to ruffle his hair. Fine. I tried negotiating. Don't say I didn't warn you. Gathering shadows as he did so, he aimed his arm to wards the figure in the sky, before unleashing it as a barrage of countless arrows of darkness. Each arrow on its own was not very strong, but all of them together were capable of doing large amounts of damage. This was not Juro's purpose, however. At the moment he had no idea what the creature was capable of, other than, like him, it seemed be a shadow-user, and it was capable of teleportation. His first attack, more than anything, was deisgned to test it's capabilities.
The creature simply turned his head and watched as the volley of shadows flew towards him. His eyes seemed to flicker, perhaps a trick of the light, and the next instant the shadows tore through him. Pelting into him like black rain and tearing trailing holes of dark matter from his chest and abdomen.
“Shi shi shi shi.” He did not seem to pay any heed to the damage, as his wraith like form simply reconstructed, closing the gaping voids until he was once again whole.
Then he crouched down, holding his arms crossed against his chest, and with a scream threw them out to the sides. A crescent blade of black and soft purple light streamed through the air, no doubt intending to cut through the Fullbringer where he stood.
Juro cursed as he watched the grotesque scene unfolded before him, the creature regenerating the chunks his attack had torn out of it. Just his luck to get a regenerator. He had seen them before, though they were fairly rare outside of Hollows. He knew the trick to them though. As they could simply regenerate any damage against them, the trick was to destroy the whole body, quickly. A long drawn out fight would favour the opponent, who would not suffer as a result of injuries. Quickly leaping to one side to avoid the blast of energy which ripped a hole in the building behind him, he switched his strategy accordingly. He sent out streamers of shadows, with the intent to surround and crush his enemy.
But as the shadows curved and enveloped the creature, his form began to waver and shift and suddenly he disappeared altogether, having most probably teleported to some unknown location. But there was no sound when he moved, no indication that he had moved at all. It was if he had slipped through the fabric of the air, but there was no disturbance. What was left in his stead was a floating black orb of dark energy. It pulsed and seemed to rotate, drawing in energy around it to feed itself, and glowing with light that was not light. As soon as the shadows contacted its surface the orb expanded rapidly before imploding, caving in on itself. In the aftermath of the explosion a shockwave hit the street, a wall of pressure great enough to push one of the cars parked near the sidewalk back several meters. At first there was no sign of the originator of the destructive orb, but then the yōkai shimmered into being once again and crouched on top of the streetlight.
“Shi shi shi shi.” He seemed to have some intelligence, or at least the ability to analyze and process information. If his prey could manipulate shadows, he would simply drown out those shadows. Perhaps that was his reasoning as he reached down and ripped the light from its socket, leaving that particular section of the street in relative darkness and without a source to cast hard shadows.
Juro picked himself up off the street, breathing slightly from the impact of the blast. He had shielded himself from the impact using the shadows, and they had bourn the brunt of the blast, but he still ached. When he saw that the light had been extinguished his entire body tensed. He could manipulate darkness instead of shadows, but there was a reason why shadow users like him didn't go around manipulating darkness haphazardly. Darkness was thicker than shadow, denser than shadow, stronger than shadow. And he felt it. As he raised his hand once more, he felt his gauntlet start to crush his forearm. He winced as he began to gather darkness into his arm. It swirled and writhed under his control, like a wild animal. He compressed it into a single needle-like shard, before reaching out with his spiritual awareness to find the Yokai. It had a strange spiritual power, dense and empty. He concentrated before realeasing the shard towards the spiritual power, a thin trail playing out behind it as it flew, connecting the shard to his hand. He needed to end this quickly, before the darkness broke his arm.
The demon’s violet eyes flickered as he sensed the incoming projectile. He leaned back, coiling the strength of his limbs as if preparing to throw himself forward. The shard shot through his chest, and in that moment the Yōkai slipped from sight. He followed the stream that had tailed the weapon as he leaped from one location to materialize in another, this time standing right in front of Juro. The entire action had occurred within a second, in the single beat of a heart. The Yōkai seemed to sense the gauntlet was becoming dangerously unstable, for that is what he aimed for next, bringing his arm around in a sweeping strike. The smoke-like matter that composed his form shifted and shot forwards like a blade, of the same density and composition as the being’s previous attack. He was only a few breaths away, and there was now very little time to react to the blow that threatened to be fatal.
Reacting in an instant, Juro reached out to the generic ability, inherent in all Fullbringers. The ground beneath his feet flickered green, and in that moment, Juro may as well have been standing on his own, localised trampoline. Kicking off the ground with surprising speed, he flipped his legs round and over the creature, the rest of his body following suit, until he was executing a flipping motion of some sort over the demon. The trail from his last attack dissipating back into formless shadow, the surrounding darkness seemed to once more be drawn into his arm, before firing again. Directly above his opponent, presumably off-balance from his previous attack, the roiling blast of apocalyptic night surged in an instant to the Yōkai.
It had been ten straight minutes of walking before Emi found herself out of view of the old high school that Xstence used as a base. Her surroundings were typical enough, a flat cement road with head high walls flanking either side of her. It was suburbs as far she could see, rows upon rows of houses. The walls served to make the street look somewhat labyrinthine in nature, especially with the shadows of the night casting beyond the scope of the street lamps scattered about. There was an eery air to the atmosphere though it did little to budge the comparatively dull expression resting on the red headed girl's face. The prospect of fighting these so-called Yōkai had gotten her excited though. Fighting street punks was hardly exhilarating when she knew that a single punch would send any ordinary human to their knees and Hollows had been surprisingly rare around Osaka these days. It was nice to have something new to focus on if the old stuff was going to dry up, in that way she was thankful for the arrival of these Yōkai. In any other situation she would have been positively giddy, grinning from ear to ear like a psychopath. But the way the Yōkai showed up, a literal hole in the sky, prevented her from getting worked up. She wanted a fight, sure, but even she was against the involvement of others. Something like this was too open, too grandiose and it threatened the innocent bystanders, most of which couldn't even see these things more than it did anyone in Xstence.
Emi had begun grumbling to herself about her mixed excitement and frustration when a light brighter than any of the street lamps caught her attention. It was a wide neon sign in three rows of orange, blue, and red. A white square in the center of these massing lines was marked by the logo of a store. "M". How straightforward, Emi thought once she took it all in. The store was part of a chain from Inaba that had been expanding over the years. As far as Emi knew, this was the first to crop up in Hōnara. Seeing nothing better to do, the Fullbringer decided to take a look.
The doors slid open for her, and her entrance was marked by an electronic chime whilst her senses were assaulted with familiar traits. Metal floor-standing shelves aligned as aisles, the scent of processed food and plastic packaging. A frigid breeze from the myriad refrigerators and open freezers about the place. Emi spotted a stand with assorted brands of taiyaki all placed in different plastic wrappers. Nabbing one, the red head made her way to the check out only to realize that the store was inhabited by only herself and a lonely clerk. A young brown haired man with silver-framed glasses and a somewhat studious look to him.
"Graveyard shift, huh?", she asked whilst approaching the counter, "Eheh, yeah, the fatal drawback of working the night rotation", the clerk responded, seemingly having perked up at the possibility of interaction.
"Tell ya what, I'll stick around if the Taiyaki is free", Emi replied in an overly friendly, at least for her, tone in an attempt to bargain with the clerk. That said, the fish-shaped cake had already been removed from its packaging and was steadily on its way towards her mouth.
"I really shouldn't...", he said with deliberation, but mulling it over was a seemingly quick process as he rung up the till for an empty order. "...but what the heck, its not like we usually get any sales at this time, anyway".
Outside the small convenience store a figure staggered down the street, drawing closer to the only light and life in the area. It was a man in a ragged business suit, or rather, appeared to be a man. The face was hidden in the darkness of the night, but if one were to give the stranger a closer inspection they would find that he had no face to speak of. The limbs twisted back and forth in an alien fashion, the fingers curling and twitching as if the being were unaccustomed to using them. And in fact it was. The monster inhabiting the human husk was responsible for the first casualty in the city of Ikeda, and it had only occurred a few minutes before. Warm blood still gurgled from where the neck should have been down onto the pressed white shirt, staining the chest red. The grotesque, headless creature continued to stumble towards the front of the store until it landed against the door, streaking the glass with a red hand print as it slid open and the monster lurched inside. It paused, and the body straightened slightly as if suddenly becoming aware of the absurdity of its entrance, then a slender tendril of sluggish flesh snaked from the opening in the man’s neck and a wide, white-walled eye blinked at the two figures standing at the counter.
“Grrk.” it greeted.
"Nnn?", Emi turned, the taiyaki already hanging from her mouth as she held it with her teeth to see the ghastly humanoid that had entered the store. Her body immediately froze with tension. Ordinarily spiritual beings would be invisible to those without the power to see them. Did that work with these things? Emi wasn't sure, and she really wasn't good at explaining this kind of thing. Her momentary freeze ended with a rapid expansion of her Reiatsu, Humans weren't known for having a lot of it so Emi had gotten lucky in some spiritual gamble or another, but all that mattered to her was that it was intense enough to knock out the poor clerk. It permeated the entire store, a strong and invisible weight bearing down on everything.
"Alright, nasty, let's play", she taunted whilst her left arm shifted into a series of bone-like plates resembling a gauntlet.
The body of the creature began to shiver and twitch at the release of Reiatsu, and then it began to expand. Where before there had only been one eye, another one appeared, and then another. Crawling from the base of the neck, a mouth emerged, and opened wide to reveal the rasping teeth and writhing tongue of some exited predator. Combined with the flesh it was slowly consuming within the body it had possessed as well as the increase in spiritual pressure its strength was rapidly growing, and it wanted more. Before it stood not just a meal, but a feast, the high level of the human’s Reiatsu only serving to increase its desire to consume.
“Grrk.” An appendage began to grow from the top of what could have been called its head, pink and red flesh twisted and wrapped around itself in a tight bundle before unraveling suddenly. Thin threads of timorous muscle and skin extended towards Emi, some branching out to encircle her, thrashing about wildly from side to side and gradually increasing in thickness as they moved forwards. The creature intended to ensnare her, to wrap its revolting net around her and draw her in towards itself, towards the gnashing teeth that were eager to bore into her throat.
Above. That was how she would react. In spite of her straightforward nature, Emi still maintained some sense of tact and thinking. Something inside her always told her that those were necessary for survival, she'd never learned it herself, the knowledge was always just... there. She'd had her brushes with death, her close calls, but they were circumvented purely on the instinctual feeling inside that told her to think. So she threw her body forward, at first it seemed like she was intent on charging straight at the creature in complete disregard of its attempts to surround her with its growing appendages. Instead, she'd pressed forward only to lunge to the side, gripping on to the light metal of the rack that was lined with taiyaki and other food products. She pulled down and the metal bent with her and then she quickly used all of her strength to force herself upward. The metal strained but continued to follow as the red headed girl flew into an assisted flip. Her body clutched downward, but still reached high enough that she could hear and feel her sneakers skidding across the ceiling.
She landed in the aisle right next to the creature, leaving behind only the sound of various snacks falling to clutter the ground where she'd been previously. Her hands were immediately on the metal rack again, feeling out everything connected to it with her power. Sitting next to the creature was a display loaded with cans of soda. And that's when Fullbring came into play. She commanded the sugary liquids to fizz, to become unstable and the cans had the very simple duty of opening the pin. In a moment a fusillade of soda-turned-missiles were bombarding the creature. "Ohhh, that soy bean soda's gotta suck", she remarked with a taunting casualness.
As the stream of soda and more than a few cans hurled themselves towards the creature, it turned one of its eyes to gauge the threat and apparently did not deem it significant enough to dodge. The liquid covered it, and the cans dented into its skin, but where it contacted the new “growth” of the creature’s head the membrane simply seemed to accommodate the impact and absorb the force of the projectiles. But the remains of the human body were not so fortunate. The aluminum bullets rocketed into the chest and legs, and since the linoleum had already been coated in spilled liquid the creature lost what little balance it had managed to assume in human form and its body crashed to the floor heavily. It screamed in feral rage and contracted its writhing appendages, seeming to draw them into itself before shooting them forwards. This time the limbs moved in one accord, growing thick to bore through the thin sheet of metal that separated the monster from its intended meal. It sharpened the ends of the vine-like flesh as they streaked towards Emi, and it was hard to say what it had formed the blades from, perhaps hardened pieces of bone at the end of each tendril. At the same time some of the arms branched out to grab hold of the aisle behind the Fullbringer and pull it forwards, sliding it across the ground with an ear-splitting screech, no doubt intending to pin her between the organic needles and a wall of shelves and foodstuffs.
For a long time it appeared as if Emi lacked an out of this situation. She had sat there, frozen, behind the easily penetrated sheet-metal of the aisle in front of her. There was the faint squelch of broken skin and disrupted blood as the bone-tipped tendrils punctured the outer layers of her flesh. But as the "wall" behind her came closing in, what should have been the satisfying squish of organs and bones being pummeled together, was instead replaced by the whistling of energy and a brilliant flash of light that flew across the floor. An explosion, an invisible detonation of energy blew outwards as Emi drilled her gauntlet covered fist into the ground beneath her. The tiles cracked, then scattered to the four corners in a raucous shockwave. Idle foodstuffs and ill-placed fliers followed suit and so too did the aisles themselves, blasted in either direction with incredible momentum. The one behind her had pulled a complete one-eighty, no longer being pulled towards her but strode outwards, careening into a set of vending machines that found themselves smashed open, broken, and oozing all manner of fluid from various carbonates drinks. The other aisle, that which stood in front, shot towards the creature, a larger, more powerful addition to her previous fusillade had rippled and threatened to sever each of the tendrils that had punctured it, if not from the sharp edges of malformed holes, then from the friction and weight of the moving metal.