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Rated: 13+ · Campfire Creative · Novel · Dark · #2007086
Smoke conceals. Cities hold. Controversy Spreads.
[Introduction] Part 1: Introductions of sorts

Kurie was not sure she had made the best decision. A few brief moments ago the man she was shaking hands with had left her for dead after shooting her with an arrow. However she saw some level use for him. He was in a very similar position to her own. Both of them were fugitives from the government. This is what she kept telling herself, but she knew there was another reason. She was scared. Not of him, but of herself. She had killed so many in the past years, and it was getting easier. By keeping him alive she was preserving whatever humanity she had left.

Kurie attempted to stand, only to be reminded of her injury. The arrow she had been hit with struck the side of her abdomen. while it barely pierced the armor, it had left a painful bruise. Atarashi attempted to support her when she stumbled. Kurie pushed him off her and stabled herself.

“I'm... fine. I can walk. I should be anyway.” Kurie assured Atarashi

“Sure, but we could at least take it easy for a while. We need to lie low anyway. It's no good lurking in an area where the authorities can monitor us easily.” Atarashi replied.

Kurie saw sense in it and decided it was best. Atarashi checked outside the building they were in to check for guards, luckily they had moved on, believing they had gone further ahead. He knew Kurie couldn't continue a chase in her current state. The arrow wasn't that bad of an injury, however she had taken a beat down from the guards before he pulled her onto the roof. He was sure the adrenaline was masking those injuries, and there was no way she could run for long like this.

When night came, They fashioned themselves a sort of makeshift cloak out of some sheets that were discarded in the corner of dank room. They hid their faces under them and quietly made their way out of the building onto the streets.

“Do you have anywhere to go?” Kurie asked Atarashi.

“I used to, but I gave it up to come here. I know I can't go back.” He replied

Kurie decided it was best not pester him, something had clearly happened. Atarashi knew all too well though. He left his assistant Hatsumeika vulnerable by leaving. He was hiding at the time but knew he couldnt miss a chance to find his father. Atarashi was discovered while leaving a building and the guards entered it afterward and captured Hatsumeika. He was sure Hatsumeika had given a tip to the government to save himself from being kept in the high security areas. Atarashi knew who they kept there. “It” was hardly even human, and the guards themselves feared it. It was a commonly known rumor, but he heeded it as true. As he was always careful.

“There are some places I picked up on while in prison, we could hide there and plan our next move.”

“What do you mean next move?” Kurie inquired. “Do you have some sort of justice planned out?” Kurie knew that Atarashi was pursuing something, she knew the look. Kurie wore it on her own face. She didn't know exactly who or what it was he was searching for, but she felt inclined to help him.

Atarashi interrupted her train of thought saying, “I'm pursuing a myth, My partner explained his theory to me. Before the law caught up with him he created a plan to prove his theory, I plan to enact it.”

“This partner of yours sounds like one of those 'conspiracy theorists.' What makes you think he was right?” Kurie asked

“He wasn't some run of the mill psycho, he was smart, he made things, he knew things. Through the time I knew he was very calculating. He didn't do things without careful planning. I knew he was onto something when I... left.” Atarashi began to fade off thinking about his rash decision.

Kurie couldn't see his face, but she knew he was feeling remorse. “So I assume this plan involved both of you. You need a second person, that's why you saved me.”

Atarashi nodded to her, confirming kurie's suspicions. “So you will help me?” Kurie nodded back to Atarashi to show agreed. They smiled at each other and continued walking.

“What exactly are we doing?” Kurie asked.

“Breaking into prison.” Atarashi responded. He had never seen what they kept down in that high security block, but Hatsumeika said it was the key. Atarashi just hoped he wouldn't have to face Hatsumeika himself.
Cheese
Part Two: Another Introduction

Akemi stood on the roof of a tall building. The moonlight made her platinum blonde hair shine as if it were a part of the moon itself.
She looked down upon unsuspecting soldiers which she was preparing to attack. She took a sword she had acquired earlier, due to unfortunate circumstances, from the hilt she had strapped around her waist.
As Akemi prepared to jump down and attack the two soldiers, they suddenly fell to their knees, and then onto the ground...dead.
Akemi gasped, her knuckles white as she gripped her sword and crouched down low.
She slowly crept towards the edge of the roof, and as she did, she heard a clinking noise behind her, and watched as one of the faded blue shingles sailed off of the roof and landed on the ground.
Akemi turned around and saw Itatchi standing there, a chain spiraled up his left arm and the metal ball attached to the end dangled behind his neck and over his right shoulder.
Akemi stood up, relieved and upset at the same time.
"Itatchi! What are you doing here? I've already told you, this is not your fight. I had it under control, anyway." Akemi turned, placing the sword in its hilt and crossing her arms.
"I know you did. You always do." Itatchi said.
Akemi spun around to face him again.
"This is the last time I say it. This is MY fight! Not yours! Don't end up killing yourself because of it." Akemi said.
"I won't." Itatchi said, reaching over to place a comforting hand on Akemi's shoulder.
Akemi stepped back, a look of disappointment spread across her face.
She turned and with one hand slid down the gutter of the building, landing firmly on the ground.
She looked back up at Itatchi before she dashed into the building.
Itatchi climbed down the building, and secretly went after Akemi. However, when he went inside, there was a long hallway before him with many, many doors.
"You! Stop!" A guard came out of no where, surprising Itatchi.
Before he could react, the a door swung open and the guard was violently jerked inside. There was a loud crash and yelling, and then silence.
Itatchi slowly crept towards the door, preparing for the worst. To his relief, Akemi stepped out, closing the door violently behind her.
"I had it under control." Itatchi said, half mockingly.
"No, you didn't." Akemi smiled, running outside.
Itatchi ran outside, but only made it in time to see Akemi silhouetted against the moon, disappearing across the roof tops far off in the distance.
Itatchi smiled, but was confused at the same time. Where did this girl come from? And how is she in such a big fight?
Itatchi stood there wondering to himself, looking up at the moon and stars illuminating the night.
Atarashi and Kurie: Bristol or Bust.


The pair continued walking on for some time. They avoided showing their faces to most people, knowing they may be recognized an reported. The streets were mostly abandoned at night, but more people came out as the sun rose. Kurie and Atarashi kept up a steady pace to get out of the city before all the guards started their patrols. The city they were in was locked down on all sides, with a checkpoint to the west and south. They were heading towards the south checkpoint. Kurie knew that a new wave of soldiers would be released today, and most of the veteran soldiers would pile work onto them. Allowing them an easier escape route from the city.

“You haven't explained to me where exactly this prison is.” Kurie said.

“Hmm? Oh sorry... I uh, i'm thinking.” Atarashi responded. He had been very deep in thought thinking about how exactly he was going to do it. Hatsumeika had explained the his plan, but most of it revolved around Hatsumeika, as he was the one who actually designed the prison.

“It's in the city of Bristol, I was imprisoned there myself for a while. They hold people there who conspire against government, which is why we are breaking. Someone is there who knows something.”

“Knows something about this myth of yours?” Kurie asked.

“Yes, I'm sorry if I've been vague, I don't know much about it either.” Atarashi told her.

The two finally arrived at the south checkpoint. They waited until the guards were switched out with the new recruits, which took a good couple of hours. The guard who checked the papers had been switched out with someone aged around 21-23, which was the average age for initiates. Kurie approached him first with Atarashi tailing close behind. She kept her hood pulled over face to prevent recognition of her face.

“We'd like to pass through to Bristol, if it's not a problem.” She told the guard, attempting to sound innocent. Though, it proved more difficult than she would have liked.

“Yes, as long as you are properly authorized, miss.” The guard answered.

“I'm... afraid I don't Mister uh.... We want to visit our sun but the city was put in lock down.” Kurie responded.

“I can't allow that, but I may be more tempted to trust you if you were to remove your hood...”

“N-no! My face, it's maimed and I would prefer not to show it.”

“Hmm, well that's shame. Really. I'm sure your son will miss you, Kurie.” The guard said as he jumped over the table with a knife in his hand.

Kurie was not a fool how ever and was prepared, as he jumped over the table she stepped back and lunged the top of her spear into his chest and threw him to the side. They weren't recruits at all, just made to look young. Kurie and Atarashi had been tailed the moment they left the building, and were expected to appear at this time. Guards began pouring out of every crevice in site. Atarashi pulled his crossbow out from under his cloak and fired arrows at anyone coming too close. Kurie assembled the two pieces of her spear began running through the checkpoint, only to find her self blocked by multiple guards wielding swords.

She ducked under the first slash and hit him with the back end of the spear. She impaled the next guard running at her, then swung over to slice the other. She ran past the guard on the ground and entered into the maze like structure of the barricade set up. She avoided combat with most guards, blocking most guards as they slashed at her from the sides. While she ran Atarashi was following into the check point, some distance behind her though. She quickly faded out of sight as she began navigating the maze ahead of him. The guards were lightly armored, allowing the arrows to pierce their armor fairly easily. However they were moving quickly ducking behind and jumping over the clutter in the street. He darted into the maze and was quickly cut off by a guard. Atarashi hit him in the stomach with the back of his crossbow, then pushed him away and landed an arrow into his eye-socket. Then proceeded to keep running. Luckily most of the guards were distracted chasing Kurie, so he was able to escape the maze with little resistance.

As Atarashi left the maze, he was quickly met with a sharp blow to his side. A guard had been waiting for him and stabbed in the side. Atarashi reached took up his knife and blocked the guard from stabbing In the heart, but then his hand was kicked to the side. The guard stepped on Atarashi and raised his sword to kill him, but then a short-sword was stabbed through his head. Atarashi looked over to see Kurie pulling the sword out of his head and pushing him off.

“Get up, there are more on the way now!” Kurie said as she pulled Atarashi up.

Kurie threw him over the back of a horse she had stolen from a guard. Then she pulled herself up and threw her leg over the side of the horse. More guards came from the checkpoint and on horses from other areas. She spurred the horse with her shortsword and took off.

“Atarashi, are you ok?” Kurie asked, exhausted.

“I'll make it, let's get somewhere, now!” Atarashi exclaimed, holding his wound with one hand. Wrapping his other arm around Kurie to stay stable on the horse.

Atarashi's vision began to fade, the blade had struck deep. It was causing immense internal and external bleeding, but he knew they couldn't stop. Guards were closing in from all directions. Kurie was focusing on her escape towards Bristol. She could feel Atarashi's grip inconsistently loosening around her. So she tied an end of the reins around his arms.

“Don't waste your strength holding on, just stay awake. We're gonna get there!” Kurie assured him. Though it was easier said than done.

Kurie had used her shortsword to slice the legs of the horses of the other soldiers, causing them to slow down. Finally all the soldiers had either given up pursuit, or their horses fell down from their injuries. Atarashi seemed deathly pale,and she was worried he would pass out on the horse. So finally she stopped after an hour to ensure no guards followed. Then she roughly tended his wounds, and tied him down to the horse.

“Which way to Bristol Atarashi?” Kurie asked as he began to lose conciousness.

“F-follow the sun” Atarashi responded in a weak voice.

Kurie set a path for Bristol, hoping to find better medicine there. She rode hard, through the day and night, until she finally reached Bristol. It was a large city so she did not want to enter. Kurie made her way to a nearby town. She traded in the horse for a room and carried Atarashi to it. He was layed on the bed where she tended to him better, but not perfectly.

“Rest, when you wake up. Explain this plan of yours to me.” Kurie told him in an attempt to be reassuring.

Atarashi just looked at her blankly. He was scared, and was questioning whether or not he should even pursue this. whether or not he should bring Kurie into it was up for debate In his head as well. He was tired of feeling oblivious though. Hatsumeika knew something was happening, and Atarashi knew that he had lost his mind chasing it. Atarashi didn't want to admit it but he knew he had driven him to that, and while he still retained his sanity he had to finish it for Hatsumeika.

“Okay, we'll start tomorrow.”
Chiyoko stood, waiting in the hallway of a strange building. She and the triplets were looking for more information.
"Creak!" The metal gate in front of the air ducts swung open as Roku, Etoku and Mizuki climbed out.

"Did you find anything?" Chiyoko asked anxiously, hearing footsteps down the hallway.

"Nothing." Roku answered.

"Not even a hint." Etoku said.

As the footsteps became louder as they came closer, the soles of the shoes tapping against the floor.
Mizuki had a cold grin on her face as she pulled a pistol from a strap in her hip. Chiyoko looked for a moment.

"Not now." She said, gesturing for her to put the gun away.
They turned and ran down the hallway,disappearing through the opened window.
As they landed on the ground, Chiyoko came face to face with a familiar sight.

"Akemi?" She said in astonishment.

Akemi was just as surprised to see Chiyoko, and the triplets, since she had never met them before.
Akemi collected herself, standing up straight and saying, "What are you doing, Chiyoko?"

"Don't worry. I haven't hurt anyone. Yet." Chiyoko said.

"What, were you doing." Akemi demanded.

"None of your business." Chiyoko said coldly.

"You better not hurt anyone over your stupid search.

"Stupid search!? I'm trying to find the person that killed my parents before I ever knew them!" Chiyoko said angrily.

"I know!" Akemi snapped, "But considering what happened to those innocent people in the school, I'd say you can't handle this."
Chiyoko quickly drew one of her knives out of her pocket, holding it up to Akemi's neck.

"That, was an accident." She said, shakily.

Akemi bit her tongue. "Chiyoko, you need to talk like a civilized being instead of hating everyone. You are not the only one who has had bad things happen to you.".

"I don't have time for talking." Chiyoko grinned.

"Chiyoko, you know I won't hurt you." Akemi said.
Chiyoko withdrew, placing her knife back and scowling.

"Just stay out of my business." Chiyoko said.

"Killing innocent people is not your business!" Akemi said.

"Then why don't you stop me!" Chiyoko shouted.

The two had moved closer to one another, so close that if they moved any closer, their heads would bump.
Akemi stepped back, shaking her head.

"I'm sorry, but if you kill one more innocent citizen, then ill have to, put an end to your search. Permanently." Akemi said sharply.
Chiyoko turned around, and then unexpectedly twirled around, sending one of her knives hurtling towards Akemi's head.
In one swift movement, Akemi had moved out of the way, the knife sailing past and sticking into the wall behind her.

"Just keep that in mind." Akemi said, turning around the corner and leaving.

Chiyoko shouted, and then turned around, angrily walking away.
         it had taken two days for Atarashi to come to. However he seemed to be making progress. The moment he woke up he had called Kurie to him, and he began explaining his plan. Most of it did not revolve around the actual break in. He needed many things arranged properly before he could even begin to formulate a proper plan for the prison. He found himself fairly clueless in the long run of things, since he didn't have Hatsumeika to guide him through it.

"Bristol is a very active city." Atarashi began. "The people are very supportive of the government that rules over them, mostly because they keep the populace pampered. In return they use their wealth to push out propaganda, and raise funds for the military."

"I'm aware, I've participated in herding the citizens myself." Kurie told him. Causing Atarashi to remember she was ex-military.

"Anyway, we are recognized fugitives. Not to mention we look like street trash." Atarashi continued. His clothes were mostly old cloth, soaked in blood and sweat. He was sure what Kurie was wearing was once some kind if recognizable dress, but it had been ripped in multiple areas exposing armor. Also the recent run ins left it encrusted in blood, and parts of the dress to become nothing but tattered rags in some areas. "I need you to get us something, more of what a nobility might wear. We can hide in plain sight, and look like nothing more than arrogant aristocrats."

"I can see logic to that, I'll see what I can scrounge up from around here." Kurie assured Atarashi and laid him back down.

"But that's not all we need. My partner, Hatsumeika was the one who designed the prison itself. I'm sure he has some kind of groundwork for it." Atarashi told her

"Well where can I find him?" Kurie asked him

"You can't , that's not an option anymore. He was incarcerated. However I'm sure the guards would have taken his plans somewhere secure. Work on finding out where that is..."Atarashi's voice began to trail off.

"Just rest, I'll handle it from here." Kurie reassured him. Then she grabbed her makeshift cloak and threw it over her shoulders

         At this point she wasn't exactly sure where to start. The dress she had on was out of date even when she first put it on, so it was safe to say she had no sense in current fashion. She left the building and began to walk down the street. They were holed up in a small town west of Bristol, so they didn't place themselves too close. She had traded off the horse already so getting around was slow. She also had no money, or connections for that matter. Nowhere to get anything they needed.

         Her train of thought began to fade off as she noticed a group of people moving in the corner of her eye. There was nothing particularly strange about them, but it seemed off. She began to tail after them. The two men talked for along a while, mostly about politics and the dilapidated state of the city around them. It became harder to pick up as they walked through the square. The other noises around her began it drown out their conversations, she could only hers little whispers from them about strange things, like the "fugitive children." Suddenly they darted left into an alley and broke into a run. Not wanting to arouse suspicion on herself, she attempted to keep a distant eye in them as they appeared on the other side of alleyways.

         finally they stopped appearing, and Kurie went through the alleyway she had last seen them. She slowly stepped out and looked around. She saw them on the opposite sidewalk stepping into a building and whispering to eachother. As she began to step out further she noticed everybody on the sidewalks was completely motionless, and staring at her. Wanting to avoid their attention she moved briskly across the street and knocked on the door to the building the men had entered. She heard a slight click from behind the door, and held her ear closer to try and hear what was going on. Suddenly the door was flung open and she was pulled inside.

          There were 6 people in total in the room. One large man was holding his hand over her mouth with his arm around her neck. One stepped forward and shined a lantern near her face, revealing his own features as well. He was very tan, and had an unkempt beard covering most of his face. His eyes were obscured by darkness allowing only his mouth to be seen.

"Why were you following us? Miss Kurie." The man asked her. He was very calm in his tone. As he asked this the man lifted his hand away from her mouth.

"I'm... In a bit of trouble you seemed like you could solve my problems." She answered. The man responded by pushing and switchblade against her throat.

"Why would I want to solve your problems?" He asked

"I don't know, that's for you to decide. I would be willing to pay however."Kurie told him

         The man moved the blade away from her throat, and orders the larger man to release her. She was then offered a seat in front of a dimly lit table, which she reluctantly accepted.

"We're not necessarily interested in money, and we understand you're not in a fantastic financial situation. So we can come to something better." The man said as he sat across from her on the table. His council of five others surrounded him. "So, what seems to be this trouble your in?"

"I need access to Bristol, An identity and clothes more specifically. In other words, I need to blend in." Kurie told him. She didn't want to tell him everything, but if he could get her what she needed...

"That's all? Shouldn't be too hard to put together..." He said but was cut off.

"And I need information, I'm looking for the work of a now imprisoned man named Hatsumeika." She quickly blurted to him, making sure that was included in this deal.

"Now that, may be a little more difficult. What exactly do you need of it?" He said in his scratchy voice.

"I need plans, for a building... A prison. I plan to deliver them to a client." Kurie told him. This was a lie of course, but she didn't want him to know.

"Alright Madame. I understand, the criminal world really took its hold on you. I'll get you those plans and the identity, but what do you plan it give me?" The man said, smiling and revealing his teeth. Kurie noticed they were not crooked or yellow, but we'll straightened. Meaning he was nobility of sorts.

"You said you're not interested in money, so you have something else in mind?" Kurie asked accusingly.

The man scratched his chin. "I think we were meant to meet Madame Kurie, you see I just so happen to want someone contained in that very prison. With the plans I'll get you, it should be easy, Well relatively easy. I'll get you in the city and arrange for all your expenses to be paid, I'll leave the plans for you inside a suite I prepare for you. Before you leave the city however, you must deliver the girl to me, or I may be forced to waste your potential." He told her ominously.

"I understand, Sir. Or shall I refer to you as Lord?" Kurie said

"So you know I'm rich eh? You're a smart one, that's why I hope you don't make me kill you. It would be a waste." He grimaced and stood took the lantern with him while he stood up. "Look for us again in 1 week, everything will be set up for you." As he said this a loud banging began to sound from the door.

"Open the door, official business!" A voice outside yelled.

"Oh my, you don't seem to be the only person who followed us." As the bearded man said that Kurie felt a sharp blow to the back of her head. "Don't let this mean the deal is off, you're just reassurance that we'll live to see the end of it. You're capable aren't you?" The man turned and ran with the rest of his party and left out of sight.

         The guards outside broke the door down, they seemed disappointed to find nothing but Kurie's disabled self on the floor. There was one female soldier, and one male. The two seemed very attached to eachother. They searched around the room talking and laughing between eachother and recounting the day.

"Looks like we lost them, but we don't have to go back empty handed at least." The female soldier said gesturing to Kurie.

         Kurie was mostly recovered at this point by now, but lying limp so she could surprise them. The male soldier reached down to pick up her body. He was looking at his associate as she talking leaving him distracted. Kurie wrapped her leg around the soldier's and knocked him down. Grabbing her sword from under her dress as he fell then catching him. She held the sword against his throat. The other soldier froze completely, terrified that her friend would die.

"L-let him go..." She said nervously frozen in place. Kurie said nothing and continued staring at her.

         The soldier in Kurie's arms suddenly fell limp in an attempt to pull her down. The other soldier reached to unsheathed her sword. Kurie slammed the male soldier's head against the table, then kicked the table over into the other soldier. This disoriented both the soldiers allowing Kurie it make a break for it. The still street she had seen before was now abandoned, she thought it was strange. However she flushed the thought away for later, and focused on running. It seemed the guards were not following. She knew they were recruits and were far too terrified to chase an armed fugitive. Kurie made a confusing path of twists and turns in attempt to lose any wandering eyes from her location and finally arrived at the hotel they were staying at.

         Kurie went directly upstairs to check on Atarashi. He was still asleep, and didn't seem to be in any better condition. She didn't want to tell him about the help she had gotten yet. Once she was sure he was safe and no guards had followed, she settled onto her own bed. Resurfacing the questions from earlier. Who was the man she had followed, and what had happened to the street. She also had failed to confirm who exactly this "girl" was. As the questions raced through her mind, she slowly drifted off to asleep...
Situations

Itatchi didn't care what Akemi said. If there were a group of people chasing her, he was going to help fight. Although, this was more than a group. She had a whole organization of soldiers coming after her.

Itatchi walked down a dirt path through a forest. He was headed toward Everend city, which was a few miles west of Bristol.
A few feet ahead of him was where the forest ended, and in the distance was the city gate.
Itatchi stopped in his tracks, recognizing the uniformed man at the gate. How could that be? Why would they be here.
Itatchi was pulled between two decisions. He could tell Akemi of the news and ask her why the soldiers would be in Everend city, or he could interrogate the man at the gate.

Itatchi had a feeling that Akemi would be upset with him if she knew he was still trying to fight with her.
But, what if the man left soon. Itatchi casually walked up to the uniformed man.

"Can I help you?" The guard said.Itatchi realized he hadn't thought this through well, and didn't know what to say. Itatchi acted on impulse, taking a long bladed knife to the man's throat and pinning him up against the wall.

"What are you doing here!?" Itatchi demanded.

"I--" The man made choking sounds and Itatchi loosened his grip.
The man took this to his advantage, flinging the knife out of Itatchi's hand and blowing a high pitched, strange whistle around his neck.
Suddenly, a bunch of other soldiers came from all directions. Now, Itatchi was the helpless one. He swung his spiked ball off of his shoulder and gripped the chain in his hand.

He swung it towards one of the soldiers, but he withdrew a long sword, catching it on the chain and ripping the weapon from Itatchi's grip.
Now defenseless, Itatchi didn't know what to do.
The soldiers had him flanked on all sidses and were closing in on him. "Put your hands behind your back." One of the men said.
Itatchi did as he was told, although he didn't have much of a choice. It was either that or die. They put a stiff, which wrist lock around his wrists and stood him up.

"Let's take him to our leader at headquarters. Well see what he thinks of this snoop." The first man said.

"Oh, no!" Akemi gasped from her hiding place in the forest.
She knew she had to do something, and she knew exactly what she was going to do: follow the men to headquarters, rescue Itatchi, and see what comes up next.
Atarashi and Kurie:Beautiful(ish) Bristol

         it had been 3 days since Kurie had met the man. She had avoided being around when Atarashi was awake, so it would seem she was hard at work. She also didn't want to tell him of the man she had met, not yet anyway. However, guards were becoming an increasing problem, so she was in the room now.

         Atarashi had attempted to walk earlier today, and she did not want to leave him alone where he might injure himself. So she sat against the wall thinking. Yesterday she had come to a conclusion, she and Atarashi were searching for a person in the prison. The man also was searching for a person, or more specifically a girl, held in the prison as well. Considering how valuable Atarashi made her sound, she realized they may have a competitor. A lot of new questions began arising after that. the man wanted Kurie to follow him, and he seemed eager to make the deal. Usually a little negotiating was required for things like this. She was hoping Atarashi would clear the questions up when she told him.

"Kurie..." Atarashi began to sit up in his bed as he said this.

"Hmm? What?" Kurie retorted, being pulled from her train of thought.

"I think I can walk, I just need a... Crutch, or cane." Atarashi told Kurie.

"Why the sudden determination? We don't want to risk your health." Kurie said and walked over to examine him.

"I need to make sure I can walk, in case we need to a break for it." Kurie had not actually considered this. She hadn't been wearing her armor, just cloth under the tears.

"I'll see what I can do, but for now..." Kurie trailed off as she walked towards the foot of the bed. She broke off one of the bed posts, and handed it to Atarashi.

         Atarashi's first attempt at walking went as expected, and he nearly collapsed the first step. He continued trying for the rest of day, eventually making his way to the door, Albeit slowly. As the days progressed Kurie only left for food, staying near Atarashi as he attempted to walk. Eventually he began to pick up a bit of speed. He could at least stay ahead of a pursuer for a short while. At least until Kurie supported him. She just hoped it wouldn't come to that.

         Finally the sixth day was approaching, Kurie knew she would have to tell Atarashi. He limped over to Kurie sleeping on the floor and nudged her with his cane. Causing Kurie to instinctually roll away. After realizing it was Atarashi, she sat up and looked at him.

"Why'd you wake me up?" Kurie yawned.

"Wanted to discuss some things." Atarashi told her.

"Yeah, me too." Kurie stood up and walked to the small table against the far wall, and took a seat. Atarashi sat across from her, and set his cane against the wall.

"I feel bad, making you go out there by yourself." Atarashi told her, still squirming in the chair getting comfortable.

"I've been alone for most of my adult life, it's not a problem." Kurie responded.

"I suppose so.... What did you want to talk about?" Atarashi asked

Kurie hesitated for a second, then finally responded, "I struck a deal 6 days ago. I met a man while wandering and he agreed to smuggle us into the city."

Atarashi swallowed information for a second. "Okay, what did you give him in return?"

"He wants a girl from the prison. I'm beginning to think it may be the same person we're after. We cannot leave without delivering her." Kurie told him.

"So we have competition it seems. Well he's getting us into the city, that's good. We can plot our counterattack later." Atarashi scratched his chin thinking out a plan.

"Okay... We should tread lightly though. I can't figure out anything about him except that he is from a noble family." Kurie told him. "We have to meet him tomorrow."

         Atarashi nodded. He pulled a notepad from his pocket, the corner had been soaked in blood from his injury. He began writing notes and drawing some diagrams. Kurie couldn't make sense of any of them, and most of the writing was illegible. She took advantage of the situation and laid on the bed. She watched the sky outside, and slowly drifted off. She hadn't slept properly in weeks, and for the first time in while she had a comfortable sleep.

         Atarashi was focused on his notes, he was thinking of the layout of Bristol, and how he could escape the town without encountering resistance. He wasn't sure Kurie had made the best decision, but he knew it was their only option now. He saw Kurie asleep on the bed, she was straining herself. He didn't have he heart to move her so he just stayed in his chair. Hours passed and Atarashi had sketched a map of the escape routes of the city. Time seemed it have flown by, as it was already sunset. Atarashi slowly out his head down on the table, realizing he had essentially wasted the day. Kurie was still fast asleep on the bed, so he closed his eyes and fell asleep. He thought about his family and his father, hoping they were ok. He lost track of both them long ago.

         the pair slept blissfully until sunrise, the light in her eyes caused Kurie to snap out of her sleep. She sat up in the bed and saw Atarashi collapsed over the table asleep. She felt guilty for pushing an injured man out of the bed, but at the same time she felt great. She hadn't slept on a bed in a while. Kurie rolled out of the bed and tried to push her hair down, Which proved unfruitful. She sheathed into their places under her skirt. She woke up Atarashi and he went through a similar morning routine, only he seemed to care less about his hair.

"We need to get moving, I don't wanna miss the meeting." Kurie said, not wanting to think what would happen if she failed to meet him in the first place.

         They nodded to eachother and threw their makeshift cloaks over their shoulders. The pair stepped into the street. Kurie tried to recall her steps, hoping she would see the men along the way. She passed through the market square once again, this time some thing caught her eye. She saw a paper reporting the capture of " Itatchi," who had threatened a gate guard. She would have simply overlooked it, but his face was odd. Half of it was missing it seemed. She took the paper with her, and proceeded forth.

         Kurie stopped recognizing the area around her. She had gotten lost. When she came through here at first she focused on the two men, not her surroundings. She mentally slapped herself for making such a stupid mistake. Kurie and Atarashi walked down the empty street, hoping for signs of the men. No luck however, not a single person.

"Where is everyone?" Atarashi asked

Kurie hadn't thought about it. "I'm not sure, it seems to be a common phenomenon though, streets empty themselves a lot here."

"Hmm..." Atarashi thought to himself. Suddenly he saw somebody run by in a nearby alley. He moved closer, and suddenly.... Darkness.

         Kurie saw Atarashi being pulled into an alley with a sack on his head, and bag was soon pulled over her own head as well. She pushed back, but two men had both her arms. She kicked one in the shin and attempted to run, but she was tackled before she could escape. She felt a needle piercing her neck, and she began to ,ode consciousness

#####

         Multiple hours had passed, Atarashi was dragged across the ground into some kind of vehicle. He could feel it kick into motion. The duo had failed tranquilize him, not knowing they hadn't pierced his leather collar. He fell limp in an attempt to fool them. As they rode on in the vehicle, he heard the rustling of clothing next time. It went in for about 10 minutes before going quiet. He felt the hands begin to move towards him, and soon discovered his clothing being removed, he tried to avoid making movements unless something happened. After that he felt clothes being pulled back over him, they were dressing him? He couldn't make sense of it, But sat still.

         After 3 more hours of traveling, he felt the vehicle come to a stop. The bag was pulled off his head, causing him to spring up. He saw 2 men in suits in front of him. They were not making moves to stop him. To his right he saw Kurie, her clothing completely. Rather than her torn satin blue dress that she normally wore, she was wearing a red dress. It was velvet, with a black stripe up the middle to her neck. She had a high collar outlined in black and yellow, the sleeves were puffy with frillage around the outside. She had black gloves that rose up to the sleeves, with the fingers being red. The dress rode down just below her knees, it connected to boots that were plated in metal on the shin and toe. There White stripes around the rim of the skirt and sides of the blouse. Her hair was tied into a ponytail with strands hanging over the front. She was still unconscious from the sedative.

         his own clothing was nothing it be scoffed at either. He could feel armor underneath it, and it was mostly blue. He wore a black buttoned up shirt with a long tailed jacket, embroidered in gold around the edges. The pants were blue also, though basic. Just leading down to his steel toed shoes, which he could feel reinforced at the shins. He wore black leather gloves. He saw new jewelry around his wrists and rings on fingers.

         One man reached over and injected something into Kurie. She jumped up gasping for air. She was breathing heavily and panicking, but the men held her down. Atarashi reached over and out a hand on Kurie, calming her down. Atarashi figured it out, these were the smugglers. Kurie made a similar revelation, but noticed the man she had met before was not present. One man handed her a key, then opened the door of the vehicle. Atarashi stepped out of the vehicle, he now recognized as a buggy, followed by Kurie. The two approached the building ahead of them. Kurie took in her surroundings, the city was filled with huge gothic structures. She could see the stained glass windows of a cathedral down the street. The building hey were approaching was impressive as well. Easily six floors. As they entered the lobby, they saw the seal on the wall. It was a shield with a bear's head in the corner, with the opposite corner containing an "L." She noticed the same seal was on her shoulder. Then noticed she was in something completely different, despite not changing. She saw Atarashi was also in different clothing, which caused her to blush. Atarashi noticed and reassured her.

"A bag was Over my head, i didn't see anything." Atarashi said, which only made her blush more. She was now embarrassed that she had been seen blushing.

         The attendant noticed the seal on their clothing, and rushed over to them.

"Please, this way, quickly my lord." He said bowing and guiding them to a box with buttons along the wall. He pushed them and pushed the one in the top. Then he left bowing again.

The Doors closed causing Kurie to panic. "Hey! W-wait!" She began to fall to the floor as the box jolted into upward motion. Though Atarashi seemed rather calm.

         finally it stopped on the sixth floor, opening to a single door. Kurie slowly stood up, and exited the box with help for Atarashi. The box's doors closed and a bell rang causing Kurie to jump and let out a short high-pitched scream. She was pale and terrified of the box, Atarashi could tell getting her back down would be troublesome. Kurie regained her composure, and unlocked the door. They both stepped in and shut the door behind them. Kurie seemed excited and ran off to explore the room. Every once I a while she would shout that she found something new, Atarashi however seemed stressed. He sat in a chair and put a hand on his head, deep In thought. Kurie walked over to him and smiled.

"You ok?" Kurie asked him cheerfully. She was clearly happy with the whole, "5-star suite" experience.

"Fine, I'm great. Just tired." He told her.

"Ok good!" Kurie seemed to have a complete personality change, and ran off into one of the bed rooms.

Atarashi sat back In his chair. "Hatsumeika Lenere..." He thought to himself. "Quite a nice building you made us."
Akemi was squatting behind a bush, watching as the men handcuffed Itatchi.

They pulled him down a path to the far left of the gate. Akemi followed stealthily.

The men stopped by an old, weathered looking horse drawn carriage.

The men threw Itatchi into the back of the carriage and climbed in with him, while one of the men climbed into the drivers seat and snapped the reigns.

He was pushing the horses at a great speed as the carriage thumped along the road.

Akemi knew she couldn't keep up with the carriage at that speed, even if she could manage to be stealthy while doing it. She turned and started running down the path until she came to the gates at Everend city.

Stopping for a moment, she devised a plan in her head. She needed help. She knew someone, but he

was in the next city over. She turned down the path and headed for Bristol at a fierce run for as long as she could hold up.

#####

Akemi stopped a fair distance away from the Bristol gates. She walked up to one of the guards, keeping her cool as she asked for admittance.

When she was in the city, she tried to remember which way to go. As she walked along, she noticed it was beginning to get dark.

She knew she would have to find somewhere safe to stay for the night, if she didn't want to be caught by the men after her.

As she walked along a path lined with stands selling fruit and jewelry, she noticed a white paper blowing across the ground, and as it tumbled, she thought she saw a familiar picture on the front.

She stooped over and picked the paper up. She flipped it over and read it: Itatchi, a young crazed man, recently attacked a guard at the gates of Everend city...

Akemi stopped reading, looking at the picture of Itatchi printed on the front. This was a lot worse than she anticipated.

"How, did the news spread to this city so fast?"

Akemi said, confused. She stood in the street for a moment, thinking, not noticing the people around her giving her strange looks.

Akemi snapped back into reality, hearing a sudden noise. Looking towards the noise, she saw a cage full of pigeons swinging on its chain as the pigeons flew frantically around behind the bars.

Akemi walked along, feeling tired. She looked desperately for a place to rest. Taking a small bag of money from her dirty clothing, she walked to an old, worn out looking inn which stood in great contrast to the other buildings in Bristol.

Akemi rented a small room for the night. As she entered, she closed the door and collapsed onto the bed without a moment's hesitation.

Akemi woke up in the middle of the night to a loud banging noise. It was coming from her door.

"What is going on?" Akemi thought to herself.

She walked to the door. There was no way to see who was outside without opening the door.

Akemi slowly turned the lock on the door and felt the door slam into her, knocking her backwards. She scrambled up just in time to see ten soldiers running into her room. They were wearing the same uniforms as the men after her.

Akemi turned and dove over the bed, taking cover on the other side as gun shots went off.

Akemi took a gun out of a strap on her leg and loaded it with bullets. It held six at a time.

She waited for the gun shots to cease, and took the opportunity to do some firing of her own.

Rolling out from behind her bed, she shot one of the guards in the middle of his head before taking shelter in the doorway of the bathroom.

The nine men that were left carefully crept around, trying to get a vantage point to attack Akemi.

Akemi fired another shot, hitting one of the men in the chest. He fell to the floor with a loud thud.

Akemi pointed her gun around the edge of the doorway and felt it fly out of her hand as one of the in the chest. He fell to the floor with a loud thud.

Akemi pointed her gun around the edge of the doorway and felt it fly out of her hand as one of the men shot towards her. Akemi slammed the door shut and looked for another way to defend herself.

She found a fairly long wooden beam supporting a small shelf. She ripped the beam lose and snapped part of the end off, leaving a jagged shred of sharp wood in its place.

Akemi slowly threw th door opened and stayed out of sight. One of the men slowly crept into the room. When he did, Akemi slammed the door shut, plunging the wood into his heart and ripping it back out before the man could react. She could hear nervous whispering among the men. She picked up the gun that the man was using. Empty. She searched for bullets but found none.

Akemi held her hand on the door knob. Seven. She counted in her head as she took them out. She opened the door and peeked around the corner, quickly reclosing the door.

The men were all grouped up by the front door, while two of them stood on either side of the bed.
Akemi swung the door opened, throwing her wood into the face of the man on the right side of the bed with deadly force and accuracy.

She dove over to the left side of the bed, sweeping the man off of his feet with a low kick and slamming a nightstand into his head with brutal force.

She took his pistol, seeing that it was loaded, and shot two of the men by the door in one quick motion. Three. She looked over the bed, shooting another man and then heard a click, telling her that the gun was empty. She tossed it aside, quickly and unexpectedly diving over the bed, ripping the wood from the man's face and knocking one of the standing men off of his feet.

Akemi let out a small scream as a searing pain went through her shoulder. She took out the final man with the wooden beam and collapsed to the floor, clutching her right shoulder.

She felt it and looked at the blood on her fingertips. She quickly ran downstairs and outside, walking along the streets which were barely illuminated by the moonlight. She felt herself becoming light headed, and fell to her knees. She pushed herself up into a dark alleyway, and then, nothing.
Atarashi and Kurie: State of the art.

         Atarashi was trying to keep his strength up. He was on his way to a full recovery from his stab wound. Since they had been staying the suite, he had been able to move around without his cane. While he couldn't quite sprint yet, he was making good progress.

"So we're in the city, now what about the prison plans?" Atarashi asked Kurie. Who was still running around opening things.

"They should be here somewhere, that was part of the deal." She said as she leaned over a counter to open a cabinet.

         Kurie found what seemed to be a wine rack. It contained two bottles. Kurie took one out, it was extremely light. She noticed it had no liquid in it, but instead a rolled up paper. She gestured over to Atarashi, and he came to see what she had.

"I think I found the plans, but I'm not rightly sure how to open a bottle." Kurie said attempting to pull out the cork.

"Let me have it." Atarashi said, holding his hand out. Kurie put the bottle on his hands, then went to pulling out the other bottle. "Why don't you know how to open a bottle?" Atarashi continued as he pulled a corkscrew out of a drawer.

"I don't know, never had to. I entered into the military around 12. From there I wasn't allowed to drink." Kurie said. "Of course I was more of a maid at first."

"12? Why so young?" Atarashi questioned, pulling the cork out of the bottle.

Kurie shrugged. "I don't know. My parents were very insistent. I wonder how they feel about me now." She said staring at the bottle in her hands.

         Atarashi finally managed to get the plans out of the bottle. He dumped them into his hand and walked over a counter. He spread them out over the surface. Kurie walked over to him, holding the bottle in her left hand. She put her other hand on counter and leaned on it.

"So, what are we looking at?" Kurie asked him.

"I think the plan should be easily applicable. They have surprisingly little security around the outside layer. From there we should be able to work our way further in." Atarashi explained, pointing and gesturing to the outside of the prison.

"Okay, I feel like your making it sound easier than it actually is." Kurie told him.

"I am, give me a couple days to think out our plan of action." Atarashi said scratching his chin.

"I thought we already had a plan, what exactly do you need to think out." Kurie inquired.

"Getting out of the city, getting this person out of the prison is only half the battle. I think our contractors want the same person." Atarashi told her.

"As far as the actual break in goes..." Atarashi continued. "We will go in through the delivery bay, then we will make our way to the wardens office, here." He pointed on the plans where they would go. "He has a lockdown switch in his office, we will enable it. Allowing us to roam the prison without soldier intervention for 12 hours. After that, we'll just work through the cell blocks until we reach here. The maximum security cell. That will be the hard part. "

"So how do we get in?" Kurie asked him eagerly.

Atarashi swallowed. "I'm not sure, there's only two people who know that. One of whom are inside."

"They keep the guard inside the cell?" Kurie asked, confused.

Atarashi shook his head. "No guards go there. The prisoner figured out how to open the door. Anybody he came close to the cell was killed. Now they just guard the block exits."

"Well what does she eat? Somebody must go there!" Kurie exclaimed. Atarashi just stared at her, and Kurie pieced together the answer. "That's awful, how do you expect us to get close to her?"

"The promise of escape will calm her down. Also what you've got in your hand may help." Atarashi gestured to her bottle of wine.

         Kurie was scared, her childlike joy from earlier had faded away. She wouldn't admit it to Atarashi though. She just nodded her head slowly, and gave the bottle to Atarashi. She walked into the center of the room and sat on a chair. "Just stay close to him, he knows what he's doing." She thought to herself. She was deep in thought, and slowly drifted off to sleep in the chair.

         Atarashi got out his notebook, reviewing his escape routes. He didn't have a lot of faith in any of them. He was suspicious the men would slit their throats as soon as they got the girl. He hadn't met them in person, which didn't help his confidence. Kurie didn't give off the most positive description either. That's when he made a breakthrough. He would have to break into tonight. He would break in without informing anyone on the outside. That meant not locking down the prison, which could cause problems. However he knew he couldn't let these men have the prisoner. Atarashi ran over to Kurie, who had fallen asleep in the chair several hours earlier.

"Wake up Kurie! We're doing this now." He told her as she opened her eyes.

"Now, what happened? Is someone after us?" Kurie lazily asked, still waking up.

"No, but they will be. That's why we're doing this now." Atarashi said. His crossbow had not been transported, as it had been left back in the alley they were sedated in. However a search of the room revealed a locked cabinet, containing a military rifle. It wasn't as quiet. But it would do.
         Atarashi threw he gun over his shoulder, then took a knife and sheathed it under his coat. Kurie had both her halberd's halves stowed under her dress, and her short sword in it's sheath. She had searched her old clothing to find the letter opener, and she stowed in her blouse. Making sure she was armed in case the worst happened. Atarashi led the way into Kurie's now second biggest fear, the moving box. Which he called an elevator. She stood tall this time, though she was clearly pale. It was easier because it was the second time, but also scarier because it was falling.

         They made their way onto the moonlit street. Atarashi climbed onto the roof, and helped Kurie climb after him. They made their way across the rooftops. Kurie noticed one of her biggest fears, the towns she was hiding in before were poor. They could not afford to arm many of their guards with guns. She could see the patrols in the streets, all well armed. Atarashi noticed this too, but he was used to urban gunfights at this point. He was ready if things went poorly. Finally the two arrived at the prison. Atarashi gestured to the delivery bay, which was elevated and led to a large door. They climbed down from the roof, and slowly approached the door.

"Why are their no walls?" Kurie quietly asked.

"There are, they are just around the city instead. The prison itself is hard enough to break out of anyway. The walls were removed from the design to make it blend with the surroundings more." Atarashi answered.

         Atarashi used a tool Hatsumeika had assembled to open the door. It sawed off the lock, allowing the door to be slid open. Atarashi held the door open and allowed Kurie to slip under. She held it on the otherwise and Atarashi slipped under as well. Kurie let the door down slowly, and they looked into the dark hallway. There were no guards, and no lights were on. Atarashi was suspicious, and gestured to Kurie to move carefully. As they moved towards the warden's office, they discovered more of the same thing, Dark, empty hallways. Atarashi slowly opened the door to the office, and saw a man staring at the wall. He was completely motionless. Atarashi aimed his gun at him and told him not to move.

"I will shoot, do not make any sudden movements!" He told him. The man remained completely motionless. Atarashi slowly approached the man. he tapped the man on the shoulder, provoking a reaction.

         The man slowly turned around. His eyes were completely black. Black streaks flowed down his face, and his face was severely unkempt.

"Get on your knees, and put your hands on your head." Atarashi yells at him and aimed the gun at his head. The man didn't seem to react to the gun. He stared off into the distance with his blank eyes, saying nothing. He opened his mouth, revealing he had his tongue removed. This caused Atarashi to step back.

"What happened to you?" Kurie held her spear directly at him. The man could not say anything. instead he held up his hand, on it were the words "I TALKED." It was burned onto his palm.

         Atarashi was deathly pale, as the man looked in his direction. He got one knee, and held up a key. The words "help me" were written on the ornate key. Atarashi reluctantly took the key, and the man retracted his hands. Afterwards he curled into a ball and began sobbing. Leaving more black streaks on his cheeks.

"Atarashi, let's go." Kurie put her hand on his shoulder, and two left the office.

         Atarashi led the way to the cell blocks. He was shaken up by the sight he had just seen, while Kurie seemed to soak it up rather well. She didn't say so, but she had seen the treatment before. They had dyed his eyes and cut out his tongue for revealing information the military did not want released. Atarashi found the entrance to cell block A and unlocked the door. As it opened a chilling air went over him. The cell block was silent, no guards in here either. He slowly stepped in, to and made his way down the block. The deeper they went, the more graphic things became. Few cells had prisoners in them, they were cowering in corners. Other cells had their doors open, they were either empty or filled with a dismembered corpse. Their clothes lacerated and their bodies barely discernible as human remains. The tried opening one of the doors to help a prisoner, only to be greeted by screaming. He quickly ran to the door and slammed it shut. Kurie and Atarashi were shocked, and surprised to see the doors unlocked. They kept moving forward, ignoring the bodies strewn about. The smell began to get stronger, above them bodies were hanging from hooks, causing blood to drip around them, piles of corpses were stacked in corners. Some of the, had their tissue picked off to the bone. Some bodies were of guards, while others were just more prisoners.

         Kurie heard chains rattling above them. She put her back to Atarashi and held her halberd up. Atarashi saw the notion and put his back to Kurie's, and aimed his gun. They moved forward slowly and finally reached a large metal door. It was opened upwards like a garage door, and the smell coming from inside was absolutely rancid. They could hear flies buzzing about in the pitch black room. The two gulped at the same time and stepped inside slowly.

"Hello!? W-we're here to offer you escape! D-don't hurt us!" Atarashi shouted nervously. He realized that this may not be the best offer, considering there were no guards positioned anywhere.

"We have wine!" Kurie added. She seemed much more confident then Atarashi, but no less scared.

         A loud screech sounded suddenly, and the door slammed shut behind them. The smell became ever more severe. A quiet giggle was heard from nearby. A quiet buzz sounded quietly, and a light came to life. It shone on a small metal table with 4 chairs around it. The sound of dragging chairs became loud, and a figure was seen approaching the table. She was obviously female, and sat in one of the chairs. Black Hair hung over her face, obscuring her facial features. The faint light revealed her in a long straight jacket hanging down to her knees. It was filthy, with dark spots all over it. Rather than being closed, scissor blades and makeshift shiva hung off the clippings. Each rusted and covered in a dark film. She put her bare feet up on one of the chairs, one had a chain attached to it with a metal bracelet. She tilted her head back, showing her smiling mouth, darkened by her "meals."

She tapped the table, and a loud tap echoed through the room. Atarashi noticed her nails were sharpened, and as stained as everything else. she opened her mouth revealing her sharpened teeth, and brushed her waist length hair back and said." I like wine."
Chiyoko and the triplets: nighttime stroll

Chiyoko sat up on the edge of her bed twirling a knife in her hand. The triplets were all sitting in chairs by a table against the wall. Tired from the days search, Roku and Etoku were half awake.

"You're not going to go to sleep, are you?" Roku asked, half asleep, rubbing his eyes and shifting in his chair.

"Dunno. I might." Chiyoko answered. She had many thoughts racing through her mind. She didn't even know where she should start searching for files on her parents' death. There was no trace of them in any government building. She had looked through police stations, big businesses and other places that could possibly have some kind of clue or lead.

Etoku was already asleep in a chair, his head resting on his hand. Roku was nearly asleep, and Mizuki was wide awake.

Etoku's head slowly fell down to the table. Chiyoko and Mizuki were the only ones awake. Mizuki sat in a chair, fiddling with an old spoon that had been laying on the table, oddly covered in rust and scratches.

"Well, I'm going to go walk around outside, as usual." Chiyoko said with her wide smile.

Mizuki jumped up and smiled the same smile. She gestured towards Roku and Etoku, both asleep on the table. Mizuki stood up, waving the spoon and dropping it on the floor as she walked over to Chiyoko.

"I'm coming, too." Mizuki grinned.

Chiyoko smiled approvingly as they headed for the window. Chiyoko opened it, climbing down a metal pipe on the side of the house. Mizuki followed close behind. There was a space between the house and the pipe that was barely big enough for Chiyoko and Mizuki to fit their fingers around and slide down.

They began walking along the moonlit, cobblestone street. Chiyoko saw a man in a dark suit and tie, with a sort of bowler hat. He looked up at Chiyoko and began running away. Chiyoko didn't even know who he was, but she had to find out why he was running away from her and Mizuki.

Chiyoko and Mizuki chased after him, slowly catching up to him. They cornered him in a pathway that had been blocked off with wooden crates. Chiyoko and Mizuki stared at him, wide grins spread across their faces.

"Please, don't hurt me!" The man said, terrified, as he cowered against the wooden crates.

"Who are you, exactly?" Chiyoko asked, intimidating the man by speaking in a deranged tone.

"Uh... I'm just, a, uh, shop owner." The man said.

"A shop owner? Wearing a suit and tie like that?" Chiyoko grinned, taking one of the knives from her belt and holding it between two fingers with a chuckle. "I'm going to need the truth from you."

"I..." the man stopped talking.

Chiyoko held the knife to the man's throat. "Tell me who you are, and what you do. Now!" She yelled angrily, brandishing the knife at the man.

The man winced and then began to speak, "I work for a secret agency." Was all he said.

"Who do you work for, and what agency?" Chiyoko shouted.

"Mr. Neham. I work for the People Protection Program." The man said, in a terrified tone that sounded odd for a man.

"What does this program do?" Chiyoko asked.

"Keeps track of all files of death. Then, the files are erased from every other place except for this agency." The man answered.

"Files of death? All deaths? Why does this program of yours hide the files in one place?" Chiyoko grinned, sensing that this could possibly be a lead.

"Well, if someone wants to know who the killer of, let's say a family member, is, then they can not find that person to kill them. Our agency, however, searches for them and locks them away." The man said.

"Any other reason?" Chiyoko demanded, reminding him of her knife.

The man hesitated. "Because, Mr. Neham doesn't want certain deaths to be known. I mean, look at all of the people you've killed." The man stopped, realizing he had said something wrong.

"How do you know I did that?" Chiyoko shouted, furious that he knew her.

"Well, hehe, funny story..."

Chiyoko pressed the knife harder against the man's throat.

"He made me spy on you. Everyone is watching you." The man said.

Chiyoko scowled at the man. She was furious that he had been spying on her, so furious that she didn't even think about what she was going to do next. She tightened the grip on her knife, pressing it harder against the man's throat, narrowing her eyes at him as he cowered, squirming a little as he winced. Chiyoko could see how afraid he was. It was all over his face, in his eyes, his shaky breaths. Chiyoko yelled as she flicked her wrist, slitting his neck open and walking away as he fell to the ground.

"What are you going to do now?" Mizuki asked.

"I'm going to find this protection program and get some files on the death of my parents. Then, I am going to kill whoever killed them." Chiyoko answered.

Chiyoko and Mizuki walked back to the house and climbed back up to the window. This proved to be much more difficult than it was to climb down.

"Hey!" Chiyoko said, shaking Roku and Etoku awake.

They sat up sleepily, moaning and rubbing their dreary eyes. It took them a second to blink into reality. When they did, they stared, puzzled by why Chiyoko and Mizuki were standing in the middle of the room, strange expressions on their faces, but more so by the traces of blood on Chiyoko's dress, face and hair.

"What happened?" Roku moaned.

"Guess what?" Chiyoko said.

"What?" Etoku asked.

"I've got a destination. A place where all of the files of deaths are." Chiyoko said.

"How did you do that?" Roku asked.

"She killed someone." Mizuki chuckled, brandishing the spoon she just picked back up off of the floor. "I like this spoon." She said with a strange chuckle and grin.

"What? How conspicuous can you be?" Etoku said.

"Aw, lighten up." Chiyoko grinned.

"What! Lighten up? You just killed someone!" Roku yelled, standing up and making fists as he argued with her.

"Hey, now. He, and like, this agency, have been spying on us." Chiyoko said, waving her blood covered knife with her head cocked to one side as she grinned at the two boys.

"Well, where do we need to go, then?" Etoku asked, a hint of sarcasm in his voice.

"Some sort of People Protection Program." Chiyoko answered.

"Well, that's more than a lead this time, then." Roku said, leaning back in his chair, satisfied that they might actually have a useful destination.

"Right. Can I go back to sleep now?" Etoku asked, resting his head on his hands as his eyes fell closed.

"Whatever." Chiyoko said.

Chiyoko and Mizuki sat in the windowsill, discussing their next plan of action. If there was a file on her parents death, there may be a name, or at least a clue of who killed her parents.

"Well, I think I might finally get my revenge." Chiyoko said.

"Yes. I think you will." Mizuki grinned, twirling the rusty spoon in her fingers.
Atarashi and Kurie: Less than smoothly

         Atarashi and Kurie approached the table cautiously. The girl's expression seemed to change to a more serious one. Her psychopathic happiness faded, leaving just normal psychotics. Neither of which were comforting. Kurie looked at one of the chairs, the seat was darkened, but Kurie was relieved to see it was rust and not blood. She sat down, followed by Atarashi. The girl's eyes followed their movements from under her hair. No words were spoken for a good 10 minutes. They all sat under the buzzing light, surrounded by flies. Finally the girl spoke up.

"I was promised wine. if you don't give me any, your blood will be nice supplement." The girl spoke with a soulless voice. It sent chills through Atarashi and Kurie's spines.

         Kurie reached under her skirt and took out the bottle of wine that had been strapped to the inside. She held it by the top and offered it to the girl. She eyeballed with a smile, before grabbing it into her own hands. She went through a similar experience to Kurie, trying to pull he cork out. Eventually she gave up pulling and set it on the table. She wrapped her teeth around the rim of he bottle and bit down, shattering the top half of the bottle. Small fragments of glass spread across the table, with a few small pieces hitting Atarashi and Kurie. The girl spit out one large shard covered in blood. Then she put the jagged top of the bottle to her lips and began drinking out of it. Some red liquid leaked out of her mouth, but Kurie and Atarashi couldn't tell if it was blood to wine. Finally she put the bottle down and sat up in her chair.

"I like you two, don't make me mad please. That's a very nice bottle of wine." She smiled and licked her lips, showing cuts on her tongue. "What do you guys want, if I knew I had company coming I would've cleaned up." She said as she looked into the bottle checking for more liquid. "You guys want any?" She offered the bottle to Atarashi. blood was dripping down the bottle, making the offer less than appetizing.

"N-no, I'm fine. It's f-for you anyw-way." Atarashi managed to stammer out.

"Suit yourself." The girl said as she began to suckle on the broken bottle.

"I believe your bleeding, miss." Kurie stated to her, trying to keep Te girls mind from wandering.

         The girl looked at her hands, then down to her tongue. "Yes, it looks like it." She nonchalantly stated and took the bottle out of her mouth. She proceeded to leave the table, crawling in a sort of primal manner. She grabbed some kind if bowl from a pile, and crawled back to her seat. She then proceed to pour the contents if the bottle into it. She then threw the bottle into the pile of junk she had against the wall. It landed with with a loud crash, signifying the breaking of the bottle. She followed this with some kind of some kind of hysterical laughter. "I think it broke." She seemed to have trouble forming words, and continued to laughing to herself.

         Atarashi and Kurie sat paralyzed and pale, the girl in front of them was completely unpredictable. "That's a nice pile. Where do you collect those things?" Kurie began asking questions to continue distracting the girls from becoming violent.

"Y-yes, very nice." Atarashi added. he found it hard to articulate, as he noticed many human amongst the dishes and junk.

         The girl rolled her head and stared at Atarashi. She sat there for multiple seconds, before grabbing Atarashi's shirt and pulling him close to her face. "Why are you scared, do you not like me. Even after I said I like you." She said as she turned her head, posing it as a question.

         Atarashi loosened himself from her grip and fell back into his chair. Kurie straightened herself, as she had prepared to threaten the girl grabbing Atarashi. The girl turned away from him and towards Kurie. "It's stuff that's just lying around. I found this in one of the people boxes on a little tray." She said as she gestured to the bowl full of wine. "I find all this too." She suddenly took one of her scissor blades hanging from her jacket holding it close to Kurie's throat. "It's very sharp, I like it a lot."

Kurie swallowed hard before continuing, keeping her calm tone. "I'm sure, I believe you."

The girl suddenly seemed to turn very angry. She clipped the blade back onto her jacket. She then threw the bowl off the table. It was metal so it didn't shatter, but the wine was lost with the blood in the floor. "You're both scared. I know you are. You didn't come here to talk to me, nobody does. What do you want from me?"

Atarashi cleared his throat, working up enough courage to talk. "I believe we put the offer out Before. we wanted to offer you escape from here. In exchange we were hoping you could give us some information."

"Leave? Leave..... I could do that.... I could leave. That's.... Hmmm." She rolled the thought around in her head. She crossed her arms and leaned forward on the table, which caused Atarashi to leap back.

"Why haven't you left?" Kurie asked interrogatively. She was holding her resolve much better than Atarashi, she didn't fear death that much anymore.

"Left? I haven't left. I-I leave, I don't. That's...." The girl curled up in her chair, taking it into deep consideration. Her overbearing presence seemed to shrink.

Kurie thought over the circumstances, and leaned towards the girl. "You're scared to leave." Kurie said. "Why is that?"

"I'm..... I'm not..... I'm not...." She said and began to cover her ears. Suddenly she sprung up, sending the chair barreling behind her. She threw the table towards Atarashi and Kurie as they stood up, causing them to stumble back. "Sh-shut up! I'm not scared! S-stop!" She began screaming and backed into an empty corner, And collapsed.

         Kurie aimed her spear at the girl, being afraid she would do something else unpredictable. Atarashi followed suit, aiming his gun directly at her. When he had his weapon drawn, he seemed much more confident. Atarashi walked closer to her, with his gun pointed directly at her. The girl continued sitting in the corner, curled into a ball.

"You're coming with us! Stand up and open the door. If you approach us I will shoot!" Atarashi yelled at her. The girl did not move. She didn't make any aggressive moves towards the two, as Atarashi expected her to. Instead she was.... Sobbing, muttering something under her breath.

         Kurie slowly lowered her spear. Atarashi noticed her face changed from an angry one, to a sorrowful one. Kurie set her weapon on the ground, and began to approach the girl in the corner. She continued sobbing, she was not even looking in the direction of the two. Atarashi reached a hand out to stop Kurie, but she shrugged him off. Kurie could make out that the girl was repeating the same phrases from before. She kept repeating "I'm not..." quietly. Kurie was finally within arm reach of the girl in the dark corner. Kurie crouched down, and extended her hand. She took the hand of the girl into her own and held it. The girl looked up, her hair pushed aside. Kurie saw her green eyes for the first time, her eyes were blackened under the eyelids with dark tear streams down her face.

         Kurie and The girl continued staring at each other for a while. The girl tightened her grip around Kurie's hand, and pulled it closer to her. Atarashi still had his gun pointed directly at her. Kurie realized her was terrified of her, everyone was. She was made out to be a monster, so it is what she became. Kurie looked into her pathetic face, and felt pity instead of fear. The girl reached for Kurie's other hand, taking them both close to her chest. Kurie began to stand, pulling the girl up with her.

"Do you want to leave?" Kurie stared into her eyes and asked the girl.

"We.... We can't." She whimpered. "W-we're stuck. We can't leave."

"Why? We'll protect you." Kurie reassured her.

The girl sniffles, and looked at Atarashi. "I... I D-didn't close the door."

Atarashi immediately lowered his gun. He turned and ran to the metal door. He began pushing on the door, followed by banging on it with the gun. He looked and saw his guns coated in a sticky liquid, which he wiped on his coat, then proceed to take off. Atarashi stepped back from the door, falling back into his metal chair. The girl pulled away from Kurie, Curling back into her corner.

"I'm sorry.... I'm.... I..... Sorry..... I'm...." She began fading off into her own little world. "Now you're going to die." She said and continued sobbing.

Kurie started panicking, and ran over to the door. She began feeling around for a switch, or some kind of opening mechanism. No luck. She used her spear to feel along the ceiling, touching around the corners and sides. She found a small patch of gears, which she wedged her spear into. She tried rotating the gears, but to no avail. Finally she resorted to yelling for help and banging in the door with her spear. No sounds came from outside, let alone any help.

##########

         After multiple hours of this, Kurie finally gave up. She threw her spear on the ground, and sat next to Atarashi. The girl had been trying to make amends to her behavior, every once in a while she would bring Atarashi some strange item from her pile. Sometimes a ring or fancy dish. As Kurie sat in her chair, she discovered silence. It was horrifying to her. She was trapped and there was nothing they could do. She put her hands on her head and leaned on the table. She didn't care much for her own life, but she didn't want to end Atarashi's. She also realized she couldn't help the girl they had found. She wanted to help her, but now she couldn't, and it overwhelmed her.

         Then here came a tapping from outside. As if from a cane. It sounded as though a blind man were making his way down a hall. That's when Kurie realized they had a blind man in the prison. The tapping became louder gradually, as the warden approached. Eventually he came and tapped on the door with his cane. Atarashi stood up suddenly, and ran to the door. Kurie followed right behind him.

"Yes, yes! Please open the door!" Atarashi began yelling. The girl came up behind him, also anxious.

         The sound of a lever mechanism could be heard, and the door began to spring into motion. It slowly began to open, accompanied by a screeching. Kurie and Atarashi hugged eachother out if happiness and relief, before their celebration was cut short. The sound of a make scream echoed through the room. It the sound of an old man, and they realized it must have been the warden. They let go of each other, and appeared mortified as the door began to slowly close. Every once in a while, the door would spring up a bit. The warden was still holding on, but Kurie knew they would never for under the crack of the door. She fell to the ground, pale as a ghost.

"N-no! Let us out! Please!" Kurie stuttered, unable to think properly.

         The girl cast off her pitiful persona, and appeared as she did at first. She quickly crawled under the door, her lower body stuck underneath. Another scream was heard, this time younger. The girl returned under the door holding the prisoner in her hands. His upper body poking through the door. She held a shiv to his throat, and put her mouth close to his ear. She whispered something in audible into his ear. Afterwards she began running the shiv down his arm, leaving a long incision. She followed up by removing the tendon on his wrist, which caused the prisoner to scream in pain. She leaned down and whispered to him again, then flipped him around. Suddenly the door began moving up again, now with a big enough space to fit through.


         Kurie quickly stood again, seeing her opportunity. She slid under the door, and Atarashi followed. Kurie looked under to make sure the girl came with them. The girl crawled underneath, pulling the prisoner along with them. On the outside, the putrid smell had become less severe. Kurie looked to the chain the prisoner had been pulling. Next to it was the warden, who had been cast aside. Kurie crawled next To him, and sat him upright against the wall. He looked into his black eyes once again. he was still breathing, but not for long. The warden pulled a locket out of his pocket, and have it to Kurie. His hands fell and he began convulsing, Kurie backed away as the blood spewed out of his mouth. After he had finished, Kurie closed his eyes and stepped away.

"Let's go." Kurie said blankly. Atarashi nodded and the trio began to leave.

As they approached the doorway, the girl pushed the prisoner against the wall. "This is your fault. I lied, you don't get to live." She said to him, and raised her shiv one side. She sliced his neck, leaving a deep gash clear across it. The man dropped to the floor, gurgling.

         They wanted to distance themselves from the prison, they ran out the door. They were glad to see no sign of soldier around the prison. The sun was rising the left. Atarashi pulled out a notebook, and began reviewing his routes.

"This way, we need to get out of here now." Atarashi said and began leading the way down the street

         Kurie nodded to him, and led the girl with them. They made a zigzag pattern through the city streets. They avoided guard patrols by darting through alleys and staying on low activity streets. Usually staying very close to the city walls. They had one close encounter with a guard patrol, but the girl proved more than aggressive. So they proceeded forth.

"There's a building, it was used to smuggle illegal goods in and out of the city. I think that's our best bet." Atarashi told Kurie, who was having a lot of trouble getting their new companion to keep up.

"M-my feet. They hurt!" The girl had been saying. She had no shoes, so it was understandable, but she had been walking in a pitchblack prison for years. So Kurie was very insistent for them to keep going. Her eyes were also having trouble adjusting to the the light.

         Atarashi led the group to the back entrance of the building. He silently opened the door, and gestured for them to enter. Kurie drew her short sword, and prepared for assault. Luckily nobody seemed to show up. Atarashi checked the front windows, which were boarded up mostly. He saw a few soldier roaming around outside the building. He noticed something odd, one of the soldiers seemed to mean over and whisper something to an alley.

"They suspect us, come on we need to move." Atarashi guided them to to the back, where he revealed a large cabinet. He pushed it aside showing a hole in the wall. He led them inside. Along both sided were clothing racks, all completely filled. They were noble clothes, very high quality in creation. But dusty. They made their way down the long corridor, finally reaching the end. Kurie noticed some of the clothing was not dusty, had it been moved? Atarashi moved a large palette on the ground, revealing a large concrete ground.

"W-what!? Where's the tunnel?" Atarashi began to ask in a panic.

         Suddenly, people began to jump out of the clothing. They were all wearing black suits, and rather large. One lunged at Kurie, but she thrust her sword his chest. She pulled it out and followed it up with a slice across the face. Atarashi quickly aimed his gun down the corridor, he fired two shots, one hitting a man in the chest. The other reflected off one man's armor. The men aimed their pistols down the corridor, and prepared to fire. Kurie grabbed one of the clothing racks and pulled it over, crouching behind it. Gunfire began to sound off, the wood of the rack began splintering all around her. The girl was stuck to her leg, shivering. Atarashi dove behind another, firing a few shots over the side. Few of them were affecting the men. Their armor was blocking most of the impact.

         Suddenly all gunfire stopped. The three stood there, all they could hear was their own heartbeats. One if the men rammed into the clothing rack, knocking it over onto Kurie, who barely dodged it. A large man tackled Kurie, wrestling her to the ground. She could see the girl being wrestled as well. Though she managed it stick a shiv in one's neck. Though she was quickly restrained by two more men. Atarashi had 3 guns pointed at him. he put his gun on the floor and surrendered, but was assaulted anyway. One guard hit him across the face with his gun, knocking him over. Two more immobilized him. He could here footsteps coming down the corridor. He struggled to get free, but the men best his head against the floor.

"Madame Kurie, how could you." she now recognized him as the bearded man from before. "You tried to leave, and in such a predictable way too." He said as he began loading a small revolver in his hand. "You did deliver the girl though, so I think I'll let you live." He said as he rubbed Kurie's head. He walked over towards Atarashi, and lifted his head. "You however. Why would I pass up the opportunity to kill my treacherous partner?" He said as he pressed the revolver against Atarashi's head.

"H-Hatsumeika... I had no choice! You were going to sell me out!" Atarashi yelled at him. Lunging towards him, but was still restrained.

"How nice, you remember my name. It's rather amusing." He said, then proceeded to hit Atarashi across the face. "You call me the one at fault here!?" He grabbed Atarashi's shirt and began to hit him repeatedly. Leaving most of his face covered in blood. Finally he let him go, letting him fall to the floor. Hatsumeika wiped the blood off his knuckles with a handkerchief. Atarashi laid on the ground, barely breathing. Leaving Kurie nearly in tears.

"Stop... Please. That man saved me." The girl said, restrained by 3 men.

         Hatsumeika walked over to say something back, when he was interrupted by a loud noise he had not noticed before. He turned around and listened to the rumbling outside. Then one of the men ran in yelling.

"They.... There is something outside sir! It looks like some kind if giant cannon!" He said

"I see, bring the girl. Leave...." Hatsumeika began to say but was cut off.

         Kurie reached down to pull the letter opener out of her blouse. With it locked in her teeth, she sliced the man holding her down in the eye. As he let go, she dropped the knife into her hands. Then proceeded to stab Hatsumeika in the kneecap. He fell to his knees in pain. Kurie sprung up and grabbed her short sword. She hacked her sword into one man holding the girl. Then pulled it out landing it directly into the other man. Causing them both to fall. She grabbed her up and brought her ways from the men who were aiming at her. Atarashi stood up slowly, grabbing Hatsumeika under his arm. He used him as a shield so the men wouldn't shoot. As they all stood there in a standoff, a large bang sounded loud outside.

"Kurie get back!" Atarashi yelled as he threw Hatsumeika forward. Suddenly the entire room became loud. The wall beside them cracked and the pieces began fly towards them. Atarashi covered himself avoiding the debris, inadvertently running forward. The rest if the room followed suit as the floor began to peel up like wave before shattering, sending splinters everywhere. Clothes began to combust and fly up everywhere around Atarashi, some flew into the men, killing them. Finally the the last shockwave came from the explosion, throwing Atarashi against the wall, shattering the clothing racks behind him. Kurie was thrown backwards, holding the girl in her arms. The concrete filled tunnel was burst open, throwing Kurie into it. The following rubble and debris caving the entrance. Atarashi lay immoblized against the wall, splintered with wood, Hatsumeika's men were dead, and Kurie was nowhere to be seen by any of them. He looked around and examined the ruins around him, the entire front if the building had been obliterated, leaving a circle of destruction around him. Atarashi slowly saw darkness approach.

"Kurie... Good luck."
Akemi: Help of Sorts

Akemi blinked her eyes opened. She remembered what had happened, and expected to see the cobblestone road of the alleyway. Instead, she saw walls around her, decorated with a sort of gold trimming, with many pictures hung here and there.

In front of her, there was a doorway into what must have been a living room. There was a fireplace and a few chairs. It seemed strangely empty, but not completely. There were some pictures of young people on the wall, supposedly a couple that lived here? There were a few stray candles and decorations, but that was about it.

Sitting up, Akemi realized she was in a bed. She didn't know how she had gotten there, but she was there. She shook her hair out of her eyes, and looked down at her arms. Her wound was completely expose, a few traces of blood trickling down her arm and staining her clothes.

There was a clumsy thumping sound as, what Akemi could see, the heels of two big, heavy boots, landed in one of the chairs in the living room.

Akemi figured someone must have propped their feet up on the chair. Knowing now that there was someone else here, Akemi hesitated before speaking.

"H-hello?" She managed to stutter out.

There was a moment of silence before the boots disappeared from sight, only to be seen again coming around the corner of the door way. Wearing the boots was a tall, big man who looked to be in his forties. He was wearing a brown jacket over a white shirt, and long black pants that oddly stopped short at his boots. He was wearing a big, brown hat, keeping his head down which prevented Akemi from seeing his face.

"So, you're awake, then." The man said, turning to face the fireplace, "Ive been waiting for a while. Almost got bored a couple of times, but, I think I'll manage."

"I'm sorry, but, uh, who are you? And how did I get here?" Akemi asked cautiously, not knowing who the man was or if she should trust him.

The man was silent for a moment. "I brought you here. You were unconscious in an alleyway. As for me, well, let's not be too hasty now." The man said, disappearing around the corner.

Akemi sat in the bed, confused. Something about this man wasn't right, or maybe she was just being paranoid.

The man reappeared, this time sitting in a chair by the fireplace.

"Uh, this is a nice place you have, here..." Akemi said, trying to lose the awkwardness.

"You shouldn't say that." The man said.

"Huh?" Akemi whispered.

The man suddenly let out a strange chuckle, "I don't live here!"

Akemi looked at him concerned. "I'm sorry, uh, I had better get going, now. Uh, thank you, for the help."

"Well, go on then." The man said strangely.

Akemi stood up and slid off of the side of the bed. Suddenly, there was a strong pull on her arms that stopped her, followed by the rattle of chains. Akemi looked back in fear. Metal cuffs were attached around either wrist, a chain connected them to two pieces of metal which were bolted into the wall on either side of the bed.

Akemi looked at the man, a mix of confusion, fear and anger spread across her face.

The man threw his head back and laughed. He stood up facing the fireplace, and then, he suddenly threw the chair across the room. Akemi couldn't see where it had landed, but a loud crashing sound followed it.

The man walked out of sight again, and Akemi heard a scraping sound.

Akemi heard the man's voice, but still couldn't see him, "You know, the life of an assassin is not an easy one." He said with a laugh.

"Wh...th...Huh?" Akemi gasped, terrified.

The man came close enough to the doorway that Akemi could see one of his boots.

"When that man told me that none of his idiotic soldiers could take you out, he hired a professional. Me. It was made even easier for me when you got shot and I found you passed out in the alleyway. Well, I have to get going very soon. I believe I told you earlier, this isn't my house." The man said darkly.

Akemi watched as a sharp blade of the man's knife appeared around the corner with the man. He walked and stood at the foot of the bed. Akemi could now see the man's face. He had a dark brown eye, and the other was solid black. There was a scar running down the top and bottom of his odd eye. He had a crooked nose that looked as if it had been broken a couple of times. His mouth was long and thin as he smiled widely.

Akemi watched and waited for the man to attack. She stepped back to have slack in the chains to search for one of her weapons, but found none. She looked and saw them lying on a table on the other side of the room.

The man walked up to Akemi and swung the knife down at her. Akemi yanked the slack out of the chain, catching the knife in one of the links, preventing it from touching her.

The man drew back, "Ah, I see we have a smart one here." The man took another lunge towards her.

Akemi decided to try to use the chains to her advantage. She grabbed the middle of the chains and used them to swing herself across the bed to the other side.

The man scolded at her as he dove over the bed. Akemi didn't have slack in her chains, so she didn't move fast enough to avoid getting stabbed in the leg. She winced as the man yanked it back out, but quickly stepped backwards.

The man tried again, but Akemi yanked the chain upwards and snapped the knife out of the man's hand. Akemi kicked it as it came down, landing it in the opposite wall.

Akemi choked as the man grabbed her throat, pinning her against the wall, preventing her from breathing.

Akemi gasped, trying to get free. She clawed at the man's arms trying to tear them from her throat. The man narrowed his eyes at her.

Akemi took her arm and wrapped the chain around the man's neck and tightened it, causing him to choke and let go of her. The man pulled at the chain now constricting his throat, but it didn't help at all.

Akemi repeatedly yanked on the chain, tightening it around his neck with each pull. Suddenly, the man stopped and kicked Akemi off of her feet. Akemi fell to the floor, kicking her leg up at the man and hitting him sharply in the stomach.

The man stumbled backwards a little as Akemi stood up. Before the man could attack again, Akemi kicked him off of his feet and as he fell, Akemi grabbed his shoulder and slammed him into the wall. Akemi saw that his boots had sharp metal attached to them, probably for his use as an assassin.

Akemi ripped one of the pointed blades off his boot, the razor sharp edges sunk into her fingers as she did so. She quickly wrapped the chain around the man's throat again, threatening to choke him if he moved.

"You are going to unlock these cuffs from my wrist and let me go." Akemi said.

"I will not. No matter what you do to me, I will NOT!" The man assured her.

Akemi scolded and plunged the razor sharp steel into his side, and twisting it as she ripped it back out.

The man winced and tried to hold his side as he shut his eyes tightly.

Akemi winced as well, each movement caused the handle-less razor piece of metal to cut her hand open.

Akemi yelled as she took the razor and shoved it into the man's neck until she couldn't see it anymore. The man laid there choking, the blood spewed from his mouth and throat. The blood soaked Akemi's shoes and clothes.

Akemi slowly stood up, crawling to the other side of the bed and sitting on the floor. She looked at the metal around her wrist. 'i've got to get these off.' She though to herself. She looked down at her fingers which were now cut opened in many places. The blood was sleeping out of them, dripping onto her already blood stained clothes.

Akemi climbed back over the bed, ripping the jacket off of the man, his limp body rolled over as she pulled. She then sat back on the other side of the bed, ripping a clean sleeve off of the jacket. She wrapped it around her still wounded arm. She ripped the other sleeve into two pieces, wrapping them around her hands. However, it was a thin jacket, so the blood still seeped through somehow, but it helped prevent it from flowing as fast.

Akemi sat up against the wall, hugging her knees up against her body and resting her chin on them. A hundred thoughts raced through her mind, making her very uneasy. She suddenly lost it, screaming in agony and anger at the same time, sending unexpected echoes through the high ceilinged house.

Akemi suddenly heard a muffled sound, like somebody trying to talk, but couldnt get the words out. The was a scraping and thumping sound as well.

"Hello?" Akemi said, preparing for the worst.

There was a muffled, "Mmm...hmmm!"
Hatsumeika and Atarashi: Big Guns and Small People

         The entire room was blurry. Atarashi's face was swollen and throbbing from the beating he had taken. The entire room was still crumbling, debris of all kinds fell from the ceiling. Hatsumeika's body laid next to his own, with a large splintery beam piercing his shoulder. Atarashi attempted to stand, only to discover more splitting pain, causing him to fall back to the ground. It seemed to up set the fragile structure, making a few rocks fall 3 feet in front of him.

          Soldiers began entering through the gaping hole in the front of the building. There were three groups, each with four soldiers. One group went towards the back, while the other two went in opposite directions. One group made its way towards Atarashi to check the bodies. Atarashi began to panic, his heart beat picking up substantially. They started on the far end, pulling Atarashi's men out of the rubble. They dug the bodies out, tagging them each with a number. The bodies were then transported outside. They began making heir towards Atarashi, when a loud noise sounded in the distance. A large rock had fallen some few rooms away, begging the attention of the group.

         Atarashi exhaled feeling relieved. Then he felt a hand on his leg, and looked to see Hatsumeika. He gestured to the beam Atarashi was leaning against. Atarashi understood the gesture, and shifted his weight onto the beam. Large rocks began to fall from the ceiling onto the soldiers in front of them. One rock hit a soldier on his exposed head, incapacitating him. Most of the other simply minority injured the soliders, however it created a cloud of dust. This gave Atarashi a chance to move. He used all his will power to pushing him self off the wall, causing the beam to collapse entirely. It landed stop one of the soldiers, immobilizing him. The other two remaining soldier rushed to help him. The distraction allowed Atarashi to hide behind a half destroyed wall. He peeked over the side to see the four soldiers leaving, calling in the other groups to take their place eight men soon filled the destroyed room. Each keeping a wary eye on the pile of bodies.

"H-hey... You guys missed!" Atarashi heard someone yell from behind. He saw Hatsumeika struggling to reposition himself, and cough down half his words. Then he noticed a slight head movement to the left by Hatsumeika. Atarashi looked down and noticed Hatsumeika's loaded revolver, still with Atarashi's blood on it.

         One of the soldiers walked closer to Hatsumeika, and began to laugh at him. The other soldier soon joined in on the laughing, and began to crowd around an injured Hatsumeika. While he had their attention, Atarashi inched closer to the gun. It was only a few feet away, but it seemed like miles as he slowly reached. Finally he took it into his hands. The guards were the the right of Atarashi, who had turned a corner to avoid their sight. One guard pulled a pistol out of his holster, and pressed it against Hatsumeika's forehead. Atarashi's ears were still shot from the explosion, so he couldn't make out what they were saying to eachother. Atarashi aimed the revolver at the guard. The guard pulled the hammer back on his gun, and prepared to fire. Atarashi kept aiming, though he didn't fire. He thought to himself how he could let Hatsumeika die, and escape easier. He had to get to Kurie and the girl, but he couldn't leave Hatsumeika there to die. So without another thought, he fired a shot into the soldier's temple. Killing him instantly.

         All the soldiers drew their rifles. They looked in all directions in a state of confusion. Atarashi popped around the other side of the destroyed wall and fired two more shots. One hit a soldier in the shoulder, another hitting a soldier in the throat. All the soldiers turned to Atarashi's position and fired madly. Atarashi collapsed against the wall. His injuries were catching up again. The adrenaline only stopped half the pain. One of the guards continued firing at Atarashi's last position, while the others positioned themselves. Hatsumeika sprung up, holding a splintered board in his hand. The firing soldier swung around, but was hit over the head before he could react. The board shattered in Hatsumeika's hand, leaving his hand severely splintered. The other soldiers the swiveled around following the noise, giving Atarashi another opportunity. He sprung up and fired two more shots. His arm felt screeching pain, causing his second shot to miss. The first one hit a soldier in the back, causing him to crumple. The small snub side revolver clicked, meaning it held only 5 bullets. So Atarashi ducked back down. The three remaining soldiers in the room took cover behind a half destroyed clothing rack. Hatsumeika walked over to a lone support beam, and kicked it over. Causing the ceiling to collapse over the soldiers. Atarashi ran over to confirm their deaths, two had died from impact, while one had tried to crawl away. His bottom half had been crushed. Atarashi reached down and took the soldier's gun. the soldier began struggling and grasping at reaching at Atarashi. So he aimed his gun at the soldier and shot him the head.

         Atarashi panted, he saw Hatsumeika was also out of breath. Both were severly injured, but they had it keep moving. The rumbling of an engine came from outside. Hatsumeika and Atarashi looked down the street to see a huge machine. It was a dark brass color. It had two large treads on both sides of it, and a large plow in the front. The top was a large platform. multiple soldier were atop it, but that was not all. In the middle was a large cannon. It was far bigger than most cars, and three times as intimidating. To both sides of the cannon, there were two mounted guns. Which were being aimed at the building.

         Atarashi darted out of the building, Hatsumeika following close behind. He knew two more routes out of the city, so he decided that would be the best idea. He darted left into an alleyway as the guns began firing rapidly. They kicked up the the concrete all around Atarashi as he ran. He began running in zigzags to avoid the gunfire. Hatsumeika stumbled as he ran. His injuries were affecting him much more than Atarashi, as he was actually impaled on his shoulder. Atarashi darted across more streets through alleys. From the sides, guards were firing at him. In the distance he could hear the large machine coming after him. Atarashi came to a dead end, and Hatsumeika gasped to a stop behind him. Atarashi then jumped up onto the wall and began climbing. After he reached the roof, he reached back fine time help Hatsumeika, and the two continued. The chase went on for a while, as the two made their way towards the gate. Shots were being fired from everywhere, and they did their best to avoid them.

         They jumped from roof to roof, climbing across wires and balconies when necessary. They were approaching the wall at great speed. When Hatsumeika began to trip and fall, Atarashi heard this and quickly spun around to help him. He ran to him and out Hatsumeika's arm over his shoulder. The to keep up the pace. As they neared the gate, the growling of the engine became very loud. As the two turned a corner, they were once again greeted by the huge cannon. A loud bang sounded and they saw a shell of sorts coming towards them. Atarashi acted quickly, throwing Hatsumeika off the roof to the street below. Behind them the shells exploded, blowing a huge hole in the roof. Atarashi kept running, he made his way around to another side of the wall, only to be greeted by the machine standing in the same place. Instead if running out this time, he hid. Hatsumeika leaned into his shoulder, and they found a building it take refuge in. Lucky for them, it seemed a lot of this portion of the city was abandoned. He helped Hatsumeika inside, then shut the door behind them.

Hatsumeika made a few steps then collapsed onto a table in the room."That went.... Agh..... Well I suppose. Wouldn't you agree?' He grunted out as he tried to steady himself. After a few attempts he succeeded in standing.

Atarashi remained silent. Walked over to Hatsumeika and stared him in the eyes. "That's one way of putting it..." He Said, and the two remained silent for the longest time.

"Well maybe you could help..." Hatsumeika began, but was hit across the face by Atarashi.

"I should've left you to die! You have nearly killed me for the last time!" Atarashi grabbed Hatsumeika by his throat, pushing him against the table. He counter attacked by jamming his thumbs into Atarashi's eyes, causing him to rear back.

"You think I'm in any better shape than you? What do you think i have? I watch my machines roam the streets, assisting the very people I wished to see burn." Hatsumeika said, steadying himself.

"You made me into a murderer! The way I am now, it's because if you!" Atarashi yelled at Hatsumeika.

"I did it? What were you before we met? An escaped prisoner and a thief! With a deadbeat father and a helplessly pathetic family." Hatsumeika said getting out his switchblade. Atarashi was enraged and charged at him. Hatsumeika lunged with his knife, only to be blocked by Atarashi, who tackled him to the ground and began beating him. Atarashi continued until Hatsumeika's face was as badly beaten as his own, then slowly stepped off.

He managed to pant out, "Were not going anywhere fighting like this." Hatsumeika slowly stood up, steadying himself on the table once again. "Once were out of the city, we will part ways."

"I couldn't do that, I still need that girl." Hatsumeika said, wiping his face if blood.

"Neither of us have her, and I doubt either of us will be able to find her."Atarashi explained.

          Both finally nodded in agreement, they had to leave the city before anything else. Atarashi helped Hatsumeika tend to his wounds, and to his own as well. Both were mostly covered in bandages, and rags. Hatsumeika stood up, and stretched his arm in a circle. Atarashi questioned Hatsumeika about the machine in the street, and his they would stop it.

"It's my own design. A mobile platform was its intention. However it proved to large and excessive for commercial use. The military seems to like it though." Hatsumeika explained.

"So, is there an off switch? Or self destruct function?" Atarashi inquired.

"No, but I don't think we need it destroy it." Hatsumeika continued. "I can get inside of it and drive it. That'd leave us with an escape vehicle, and any route we choose."

Atarashi thought for a while, and finally agreed it the plan. "It seems like the best way." Atarashi said and extended his hand. "Allies? At least temporary ones?" He asked.

Hatsumeika extended his hand and shook Atarashi's. "Nice to be working with you again, fruit thief."
Itatchi looked up at the man hovering over him. These people had him tied up to a wooden beam in a musty, wet room, which Itatchi figured was a basement, of sorts. It had a dirt floor, stone walls, and two small windows where the wall met the ceiling. There were some cardboard boxes and a few piles of junk lying around, but it was mostly bare.

Itatchi wondered who this strange man was, and why he was just standing there, looking down on him.

The man suddenly nodded at an officer, who then left the room, closing the cobweb ridden door behind him.

The man paced back and forth for a few moments, twirling a strange, sharp, twisted piece of thin metal in his fingers. He put his hand on his chin as he thought to himself.

Itatchi kept quiet, looking down at the floor and the new mud stains on his pants. Not having his chain and spiked ball wrapped up his arm ready to attack, made him feel quite helpless.

Suddenly, the man stopped pacing and stood in front of Itatchi, saying, "What were your intentions the day you attacked one of my guards?"

Itatchi looked up at him, "I..." He looked back down, gritting his teeth as he thought.

"I know you had some intentions. You're obviously not an assassin of any sort, so, it makes me curious."

Itatchi looked up again, saying, "What do you mean?"

"Ha! An assassin wouldn't march up to a city guard in broad daylight and attack him, and I can not think of any other occupation in which one might do that, so, tell me, What were your intentions?"

Itatchi was quiet for a moment as he adjusted his position and shuffled his feet, deciding on what to say.

"It was, a simple mistake. I was looking for, someone else." Itatchi said, hoping the man would buy it.

The man chuckled and began pacing again. "Oh, we do all have our mistakes, don't we." He said, turning towards Itatchi again and stopping, "But, unfortunately, that's not the case for this matter." The man said, stabbing the twisted piece of metal into the pole right above Itatchi's head.

Itatchi flinched, and then said, "I, was going to question him."

"Well," the man said, pulling the metal out of the pole, "thank you for being honest. However, you do deserve to be punished for attacking a guard like that."

Itatchi slightly gasped, looking up again at the man, wondering what might happen.

"Hm... well, due to recent circumstances, I don't feel like punishing another man. You see, all of this can go away. It will nearly be like it never happened, if you'll promise to do just one thing for me." The man said with a sly grin.

Itatchi wondered for a moment. "Wh...what do you want me to do?" Itatchi asked.

"Well, we have been experiencing troubles in finding, someone, a young girl, named, Akemi. Akemi Natsuka. Have you, heard of her?" The man asked.

"I, uh... NO! I would never hurt her!" Itatchi shouted, jerking at the ropes which bound his wrists.


"I though there might be trouble. I am not asking you to hurt her, I am merely asking you to take me to her, so I can confront her, face to face." The man said.

Itatchi thought for a moment. "You'll let me go?" Itatchi asked.

"Ah, I would do a lot more than that. However, if you fail the task, things would get very bad for you." The man smirked.

"I...I...uh..." Itatchi considered the situation carefully before giving his answer. "I'll, do it..." He said slowly.

"Wonderful!" The man said, quickly cutting the ropes with his weapon and keeping it in a close range to Itatchi's throat as he led him up the stairs into a living room, and out the front door.

"Remember, I hate it when someone betrays me. Go find her, tell me where she is, and you will be free." The man said, turning back towards the door and leaving Itatchi alone.

Itatchi broke into a run down the narrow forest path. He still didn't know what to do. He was so over whelmed, so many thoughts ran through his mind, he felt confused.

He couldn't quite remember, but he thought he had last seen Akemi in Bristol. He headed in that direction, hoping he wasn't being followed.

He ran down the forest paths until he reached the gate to Bristol. He approached the guard and asked for admittance.

The guard looked up from his paper and gasped. "You!" He said pointing to Itatchi.

Itatchi stood confused and worried. What did this man mean? Should he be worried. These questions were answered when he the paper in the man's hand had a picture of Itatchi on it.

Itatchi immediately knew what was wrong and tried to get around it. "Uh, they let me out, it was all a, misunderstanding." Itatchi hoped it would work.

The guard suddenly stood up straight, tilting his head and sighing in relief. "Oh, I just thought... I'm sorry, go on in." The guard said, allowing Itatchi to pass into the city.

Itatchi walked into the city, getting strange looks from the citizens. Itatchi put his hand on his replacement for an eye. The metal was strangely cold when he touched it. Itatchi sighed as he let his hand hang back down. He didn't care if he could see out of that 'eye' or not. He hated it.

He kept his head down, looking for a way to disguise himself. He came to a small roadside shop. It had a variety of hats, scarves and other attire.

"Hello?" Itatchi said, peeking over the counter.

An old man stood up, a needle in one hand and thread in the other.

"Can I help you?" The old man asked.

"I would like to purchase these." Itatchi said, handing the man a thin, black cloth scarf and a wide brimmed hat.

"Ah, very well." The man said, "that'll be ten." The man smiled.

Itatchi handed the man the money and then he walked around the corner into a dark alley. He wrapped the scarf around his eye, sort of like a makeshift eye patch, and put the hat on, tilting it low and looking down as he went.

As he looked around the city, he never saw one trace of Akemi, not even a clue. He had no idea where she could be, which worried him slightly.

He stopped in front of an inn as the sun was setting on the horizon. It was a quiet evening, which Itatchi was grateful for-profit less people to suspect him of something.

Itatchi walked into the inn, keeping his head low as he asked for a room. The keeper seemed extremely tired and unwary as he slowly checked Itatchi in and handed him a key.

Itatchi trudged heavily up the stairs and unlocked the door to a small room. He went in, sat on the bed and put his face in his palms as he sighed heavily.

He laid down on the bed in a clumsy manner. As he did, he saw something on one of the four bed posts.
He sat up, and looked. It was a dark blue cloth. It looked exactly like the color and texture of Akemi's clothing.

Itatchi gasped, picking up the cloth and noticing that half of it was stained heavily in blood. He stood there, looking at the cloth in horror.

The cloth slipped from his fingers, and he could feel the feeling of worry building up in him until he felt sick. He fell down onto his hands and knees, scared to death and breathing quickly.

He got up and walked into the bathroom, and gasped in horror at what he saw: dead bodies, piled into the bathtub and on the floor.

He stumbled backwards out of the room, covering his mouth and falling backwards into the bed frame, violently shaking the bed.

Itatchi got up and ran out of the room, worried about what might have happened in that room, and if Akemi had been in that same room before he was.

He ran down the stairs, past the sleeping inn keeper and out the door into the moonlight outside. He kept on running until he didn't know where he was. He seemed to be in a strange, run down part of the city.

The houses were broken and seemed vacant. Vines twirled up and around the walls of some of the houses, and some windows and doors were boarded up.

He stood in the middle of the street, wondering where he was and what he should do, but mostly, wondering if Akemi was ok.

Itatchi suddenly felt sick as a thought passed through his mind: had he been followed and whoever was following me beat me to Akemi? If Akemi had even been in that room. But what about the dead bodies?

Itatchi's stomach knotted as the thoughts raced violently through his mind like a river of fear.

Itatchi slowly walked along the moonlit, cobblestone road, hoping that the worst was not true.


Kurie and Suzikiya:Endless Tunnels

         Keeping the footing and he oace was Hard. The uneven floor of the tunnel made running nearly impossible, but they couldn't slow down. The crumbling ceiling behind her made tremendous noise, and it caused her heart to beat faster every time a rock fell. Kurie could feel the sweat forming on her brow, which only acted to constrict her vision. There wasn't much there anyway, the tunnel was nearly pitch black. She wasn't quite sure where the small amount of light was coming from, but it had to be ahead somewhere. The girl wasn't in that great of a condition herself. Her footprints left a black imprint of blood with every step. She was used to this however, as she spent a long time in the dark walking around barefoot. It worried Kurie more, who feared an infection. A large crack formed directly above the two as they ran, causing the ceiling to collapse on top of them. Kurie day led under it, with it just tapping the back of her boot. The girl lunged forward to avoid, consequently falling over. She regained her balance quickly enough, and they continued running.

          The cracking above and behind them became less frequent. So Kurie began to slow down the pace. The walls around became smoother was well. Originally it seemed like concrete, but now it looked more like Limestone, Much smoother than before. Water had flowed here once before. Luckily, the water level fallen quite a bit. She studied the walls as they walked, enjoying the respite from from the collapsing ceiling. Eventually they came to an open area of the cave. Similar to the room before, it was lined with clothing racks. Suitcases were half opened and strewn about limestone cave, and there was a small stage in the middle of the open room. The walls were shiny, and their color was a mix of dull green and black. Kurie approached the small circular stage in the center of the room and sat along the edge. She put her face into her hands, for the first time in a while, she felt bad. She had lost Atarashi. it was possible he was alive, but it was unlikely.

         The girl began crawling around he room and looking at the clothing racks. She had reverted to crawling around on all fours, and was exploring what the clothes looked like. They seemed like show-costumes. The girl couldn't tell though. She was amused by everything she found. Most of the outfits were extremely extravagant, and downright ridiculous. She found a dress that looked like something that would be worn by a queen in a play. It was unnaturally puffy and large. The girl stepped back and looked at herself. Her blackened straight jacket was the exact opposite of the dress. She turned and crawled over to Kurie, who's hair hung over her face. Her fingers shown through her locks of red hair, and she did not move. The girl looked under her hanging and saw her absent look. Kurie's eyes darted over to the girl as she came into view. The girl lifted up Kurie's hair so she could see her face better. Kurie slowly looked back, regaining her grasp on reality.

The girl stood up on both her feet and cleared her throat. "I... Want to wear one of these." She slowly said.

Kurie lowered her hands to her lap, and straightened her back. Kurie rose to her feet. "Which one?" She asked in the most comforting tone she could.

         The girl jumped forward and grabbed Kurie's hand, pulling her towards the racks. Kurie watched her sift through the various things hanging. Some of them were for men, and others were too silly wear anywhere. One of the more interesting ones were completely yellow, and the skirt was far too long to fit anyone. Every once in a while, the girl would pull one off and laugh at it. She didn't think it was funny, but she wanted Kurie to be happier. For she had formed the confused image that the two people who saved her were married. Of course, it was one of the few things she remembered from her childhood. It was successful though, Kurie seemed to actually understand the joke about the clothes The girl didn't mean to make.

         Eventually. She came across a few things she liked. She brought one of the extremely puffy dresses to Kurie, who proceeded to laugh at it. The girl assumed this meant it wasn't good. So she handed over the other one. She actually found it one of the open suitcases. It was a dark navy blue, and made of silk. There were floral patterns scattered all over the dress, with a sash tied into bow in the back. Kurie looked it over. she still wasn't to up to date fashion, but it looked nice. She helped the girl out of her straight jacket that she wore, which she ended up putting quite a fight up when taking off. Then she slipped the dress over the girl's head. It went on ok mostly, but she had trouble with the arms. The scissor blade she held ended up tearing one of the puffy sleeves of the dress, but her arm went through. The dress seemed to fit okay, but one if the sleeves were reduced to rags while she put it on. She also found a pair of dress shoes and black socks, given it was he only thing she could find. She also helped the girl put these on. Kurie retired the sash, and let the girl look at herself in one of the dressing mirrors. The girl froze as she stared at herself. The only feeling she could think of was, fear. She scared herself, not realizing what she had devolved into. She stepped away from the mirror. She didn't want to look at her darkened mouth or blackened eyes.

"Is that m-me?" The girl asked shyly.

Kurie saw she was troubled, and approached her. "Yes, but I think we can clean you up." She smiled at the girl, hoping it would comfort her.


She smiled a bit, and gave Kurie a hug. "Can you make me look pretty like my mom?" The girl asked her.

Kurie was a bit taken back by this. she gulped it down and told her, "If she looks anything like you, it won't be hard." She nodded to the girl. "Let's start by getting this tattered thing off." She said as she tore off the sleeve of the dress.

         She used to the tattered cloth to wipe off the girl's face. She started by cleaning off the girl's dark mouth. After it was (mostly) clean, it revealed a small mouth with thin lips. Her face gave off a look of pure innocence when like this. She tried to straighten the girl's hair, revealing her bright green eyes and long eyelashes. Next she cleaned under her eyes, allowing her whole face to show pale. She proceed to wipe off her hands, and feet. After she was done, she brought the girl back to the mirror. The girl's reaction was much more positive this time, getting a wide grin out of her. Then she frowned.

"What about this thing, now there's only one." the girl said, gesturing to her puffy sleeve.

Kurie thought it over for a second, and proceeded to rip off the other one. "I've got an idea." She walked over and picked up the girl's straight jacket. It was stained black, that wouldn't change. However, it could be cleaned. "Water is In this cave somewhere, why don't we find and wash this off? We could cut it into a little jacket."

The girl smiled, "that sounds good."

The two walked from the room, and continued through the cave. "What's your name?" Kurie asked the girl.

"It's.... Um...." She pondered it for a second. "Suzikiya. What about you?"

Kurie realized she had neglected to tell her own name. "Kurie, my name is Kurie."

         They exchanged smiles and walked forward in the dimly lit cavern. Both happy, and distracted from the tragedies before them. They didn't speak much more to eachother, and walked forward in silence. The girl was having fun walking In her new shoes. Kurie heard a noise off in the distance, perhaps running water? As she listened, it change from a slight background noise, to a loud rumbling. Kurie braced to run, and the girl did the same. Suddenly she heard a loud crash, another explosion above them?

"Run! Run now Suzikya!" She shouted and broke into a sprint. The ceiling began to crack above them. The girl ran back towards the stage room, but Kurie was too busy running the other way herself to notice they were heading in opposite directions. The ceiling burst above her, releasing a slew of water on top of her. Rocks and debris dragged Kurie down as she tried to swim up. Her foot became wedged between two rocks, and she desperately kicked at it. It unwedged itself, and she swam to the surface of the water. She gasped for air and struggled to stay above water with her armor on. The explosion and revealed a pocket of water, which was empty now and below her. Above her a small hole had formed with light showing through.

"Suzikiya!" Kurie shouted. No answer. She swam towards a shallow part of the pocket. The water began draining through the tunnel, she was wondering why it was taking so long. It must have meant the path was blocked. She went back down after the path had cleared. "Suzi!?" She shouted again. This time she was met with a loud yell. Kurie ran towards it. Back towards the stage room. She ran through the now brighter cave, only to find a wall of rocks. That wasn't the worst part though. She looked down to see the Suzikiya's leg, bent into an unnatural position, and stuck under the pile of rocks.
Akemi and Kamaniri: Confusion and Heartache

Akemi took the razor sharp piece of metal and wrapped cloth around it to prevent herself from being cut worse. She began prying at the bolts holding the chains into the wall. They began to loosen up and formed cracks in the wall.

She gave a final tug and the bolt slipped free, landing on the floor with a small ringing sound as the metal landed on top of it.

With one of the bolts out, she began working on the other one. It seemed to be a bit harder than the first one, but she managed to get it loose. Now, she just needed to get the chains off of her wrists, but she could do that later.

She walked into the living room, holding her sharp piece of metal to defend herself if there was any further attack.

As she walked into the room, she gasped, seeing someone tied up in a wooden chair that was bolted to the floor.

It was a girl, a little older than Akemi, with short black hair and bright green eyes. She looked at Akemi with a look of shock and sadness.

Akemi looked at the girl, barely daring to believe her eyes. She went and untied the gag from the woman's mouth and freed her from the chair. They both stopped and looked at each other, surprised and confused at the same time.

Akemi's lips trembled as she began to speak the name she hadn't spoken in a long time.

"K...Kamaniri?" She said, still trembling.

"Akemi." The girl said, throwing herself at Akemi and hugging her. She was still taller than Akemi, but only by a little.

Akemi hugged her back.

"But I, I thought you were..." Akemi didn't dare say the word.

"Dead? I know, little sis. I made it away from those people who kidnapped us, but, I was the only one." Kamaniri said.

"So, Mom and dad, are..." Akemi frowned.

"Yes."

Akemi and Kamaniri looked around, then looked at each other and left the house.

Kamaniri looked down and notice that Akemi's hands were bleeding.

"Akemi! You're hands! We need to get that cleaned up." Kamaniri said.

"No, ill be fine. We need to get somewhere safe, in case there is anyone nearby who might be our enemy.

Suddenly, Akemi saw a shadowed figure moving in the darkness along the side of a building.

She hugged the wall of the opposite building, pulling Kamaniri with her.

"Shh..." Akemi hissed.

The shadowed figure stopped and tried to open the door to the building. Akemi took the opportunity and quickly but quietly dashed up behind the person, getting a grip from behind and throwing them both into the moonlight.

Akemi looked at the person's face and recognized him immediately.

"Itatchi?" She said, getting up and letting him go.

"Akemi!" He shouted, jumping up, "You're okay! Giddiness, I thought that you were...hurt." He paused looking down at her bleeding hands.

"I'm fine." Akemi said, holding her hands together behind her back. "We have to get out of here before someone spots us again." Akemi said.

Itatchi turned his attention to the shadowed figure walking towards them. He stepped in front of Akemi protectively.

"Itatchi! No! She's not a threat!" Akemi said.

"Akemi, who is this?" Kamaniri said, stepping into the light.

"This is my friend, Itatchi. Itatchi, this is my sister, Kamaniri." Akemi said.

Kamaniri seemed to be drawn back at first, but knew she had to be nice for her sister's sake. They shook hands firmly, but sort of cold. Itatchi seemed to warm up to her right away, but Kamaniri had her doubts.

"Come on, let's get out of here. I have something serious I need to talk to you about, Akemi." Itatchi said.

They walked down the cobblestone path and stayed in the shadows, moving quickly but stealthily to one of the inns.

They rented a room for a night. In the living room of the small inn room, Itatchi, Akemi and Kamaniri were discussing important matters.

"So, these guys after you, Akemi, had kidnapped your whole family? But just you two, the two children, were the only ones who weren't kidnapped?" Itatchi asked.

"No, Kamaniri was kidnapped, which is why I thought she was... well, anyway, yeah, it's just me and her." Akemi explained.

"I escaped the day after they kidnapped me, but, our parents weren't so lucky. They weren't small enough to sneak away, so, they told me to run, no matter what. So, I did." Kamaniri said.

"Yeah." Akemi stared at the floor for a moment, "well, anyway, what did you need to tell me?" Akemi said, and the. She suddenly looked up at him, "And how did you get out of that, place?"

"See, that's what I wanted to talk to you about. The man that seemed to be in charge of the whole thing threatened to kill me if I didn't tell him where you were. Of course I told him no, so he made a deal with me. If I bring you to him, he would set me free. So, I agreed, but the fool was easy to deceive. There is no way I would betray my best and only friend!" Itatchi said, looking down, "So, anyways, as long as I'm with you, you're in danger. He will hunt me down when he realizes that I'm not going to bring you to him.

Akemi and Kamaniri looked at Itatchi, wide eyed, mouths agate, in shock.

"Itatchi, I warned you not to get involved in my fight!" Akemi shouted, getting up and pacing the room, "Now, they are going to be hunting you, too! They will kill you as soon as they find you, along with whoever is with you! Oh, why did you have to go attack that guard, anyway! I mean, really!" Akemi slumped down on the floor.

Kamaniri ran over to comfort her sister.

"Akemi, he wasn't a guard for the city!" Itatchi said.

Akemi looked up, "What?"

"Under his disguise, I could see his soldier clothing with the same symbol sewn into to it as the men chasing you. Apparently, they want to guard that city and keep you from getting in or out." Itatchi said.

"Itatchi, I wish you had never gotten involved I this. It would just be me who they were trying to kill. Do you know how hard it is to live when you know your best friend has taken part of your burden? Knowing their in danger that they never would've faced if you had never told them what as going on! I should have never told you anything!" Akemi shouted.

Itatchi looked down at the floor. "I know. Maybe I should have. But, I couldn't stand not helping you. You're so innocent, but they're trying to kill you!? So, I honestly don't care if I did, as long as you get out of this mess."

Akemi lied on the floor and her body began to move up and down tumultuously with each breath she took. She began to make panting, huffing and hiccuping sounds.

Itatchi looked surprised. Akemi? Crying? Like this? "Akemi, I'm sorry!" Itatchi said, not knowing what to do but trying to help cheer her up anyway.

Akemi sat up, looking at Itatchi and Kamaniri. She stopped crying, but her eyes were still red and her face was wet. "Both of you, promise you'll be careful and stay out of this as much as you can. If I lose you like I lost my parent, then..." Akemi stopped, still facing her friend and sister.

"I promise, sis." Kamaniri said.

"It's ok! I promise!" Itatchi said, trying to calm Akemi down.

They all picked a place to sleep and slept that night.

Atarashi and Hatsumeika: A beating heart

         It was a relentless cycle. The machine roamed the streets incessantly, tracking them down like a bloodhound. Everyday, the two would wake to the sound of a roaring engine, and the smell of burning diesel. Black smoke spewed out of the chimney, leaving a thick film above the city. They would run, hide, and sleep. When time permitted, Atarashi would find food in the market, and Hatsumeika would think. Each left to do what they do best. Plan and steal. Hatsumeika was practically disabled, everyday his leg looked worse. Atarashi transported him from place. While Hatsumeika listed everything out, Atarashi would observe the people around me. He identified the smart, the oblivious, the keen, the loyalists, anyone who could be assigned a title. They circled the clocktower in the center of Bristol. Everybody ran on that watch. It was the heart of the city. Atarashi would watch it tick, and learn where each person was. Atarashi willed his heart to beat with the clock, as he watched the people flow through the veins of the city. Obeying the clock.

         Atarshi settled near Hatsumeika as he sat by his papers. They had just shifted to their “12th hole.” Thus far they had marked 27 holes, and lost 12. Hatsumeika would mark new ones everyday. He could barely walk anymore, Atarashi would carry him most of the time at this point. Atarashi laid a few misshapen fruits In front of him, and Hatsumeika reluctantly consumed them.

“It's all I can get a hold of, we can't complain.” Atarashi said, as he started nibbling at his own.

“I know, I fear I'm a bit spoiled.” Hatsumeika took a large bite of the foreign fruit, juices running down his bearded chin.

“How close are we to taking that platform?” Atarashi inquired, he'd avoided asking. He knew the answer would only disappoint him.

Hatsumeika gulped. “Not well. It's completely erratic in its movement. No patrol, no pattern, it just roams about, following the whispers of people.” He scratched his head. The city plans were so marked up at this point, it was becoming difficult to make out what they originally looked like.

“I'll keep bringing you what I can. The people all seem like nothing more than decoration.” Atarashi Input. He finished the edible part of his fruit, picking out the seeds in the middle.

         Hatsumeika did not speak, bitterly keeping to his own thoughts. Atarashi threw his ornate cloak over his shoulders. Normally, he would not want to wear something so obvious, but it actually made him blend more here. He stepped back, pushing through the back door. He shut the gold latch behind him. Turning left into the marketplace. It was a populated area. Hiding in plain sight was risky, but effective. He focused his hearing, listening to the ticking of his heart. Focusing on stray conversations. He purchased newspapers from a vendor. They were propaganda focused, morphing news stories into fear. Two of them featured Atarashi himself, others featured stories of kidnapping in the street. It was made out as if a woman had kidnapped in the dead of night, because he was out past curfew. It was a subject of interest of him, so he tabbed it. Discarding the other governmental newspapers.

         He observed the familiar beating of the system. Each person returning to their positions, indicating the time. The thick black smoke could be seen, and the diesel mixed with the various market smells. Mostly perfume from noble people's. They would need to move again soon, not good new for his injured friend. Atarashi wandered past the market, taking interest in a couple moving against the flow.

“Zip! Right off the street! Nobody saw him after that. We had him spying on our intrusive subject, but she seems to have caught him.” One man spoke to the other.

“It seems Bristol has attracted more than its fair share of attention. I told you not to outsource labor.” The other man spoke, the pair was then joined by a woman,

“It's a pesky situation. Those ‘People Protectors’ are as underhanded as any. They'll probably be charging you for their lost man.” The woman laughed at the first man’s statement.

“You're the one paying, not me. I've come for my promised drinks. I don't mind pumping bullets into a few people either.” She said maniacally. The last part was too cold for comfort.

“Well you know the names Jarene. We've been waiting.” The man answered grumpily.

“I have been too. You owe a considerable amount of money to me you know.” She pushed close to him as she said it.

“You know I can't pay you until the lockdown is lifted. All accounts are frozen.” He grumbled.

         The idle chatter continued on for a while. Each Japing about the severity of the situation. Finally they stopped outside a bar. the first man opened the door for Jarene, and the two men followed after. Atarashi slipped in, sly as a fox. He listened to the time, marking when they entered. Noting all the people Inside. the bartender was marked as oblivious, as were most patrons. After he took a mental note of the establishment, he left. Returning to his abode with Hatsumeika. He had passed out on the table. Atarashi went to the makeshift hammock the had hanging in the corner and slept. Normally he would let Hatsumeika have it, but he fell asleep on the table. It was his tonight. He slept, and woke. The daily cycle kept repeating.

         Atarashi returned to the bar everyday, ordering a drunk so as to not look suspicious. The group did not reappear that day, but they did the next day. Just the two men, looking depressed as ever. Atarashi was being very generous with drinks, he had to move two times in the past two days, and the intoxication would help him sleep.

“A bit down eh? I know the feeling. Three drinks for us.” The second man joked at Atarashi. The bartender brought out the drinks, setting once in front of each man, and one for Atarashi.

“This whole situation is taxing us all, I find myself visiting this place more than I'd like. I haven't seen you much around sir, name?” The man asked, kicking up small talk. In this, Atarashi saw opportunity.

“Mables. At least it's the name I've picked up.” Atarashi told him, sipping slowly. He hoped to get the other men drunk before him. Then he may get some names.

“Mables! Good name! Simple, and slightly dull. But good.” The second man gulped greedily, nearly taking in a quarter of the liquid in the glass.

“Aye. Yorren here. And this is Liqqhui (Lee-Kee). He's a foreigner here, but useful nonetheless.” The first man, now known as Yorren, said. Finishing his first drink, and ordering another.

“I should hope your paying for this Yorren, the lockdown is leaving me a little underpaid.” Atarashi said, sliding in information from yesterday,

“You'll have Liqqhui to thank for that! Foreign accounts are still flowing.” Yorren said, drinking more.

Each man continued drinking his fill, until their cheeks became a rosy color and each laughed at the sight of their own hands.

“I can barely see straight Yor….Yorren. It's a fantastic feeling.” Liqqhui bumped into Yorren, and laughed toward Atarashi, whom returned it sarcastically.

“I found….” Atarashi hiccuped falsely. “Span article the other day, it said someone got taken off the streets.” Atarashi forced a laugh out. “What's the real beef with that Liqqhui?”

Liqqhui looked grim for a second, before returning to laughing. “Just some troubling underhanded things. Chasing down uh…. What was her name Yorren?” Liqqhui turned to Yorren, whom handed him a list. Liqqhui laughed. “That's right! It's not terribly important. Just a few kids out after dark!”

         Atarashi was dissappointed with the answer, but shook his head. He proposed a false toast to his drunk compatriots. They drank until they could no longer sit up, and passed out on the desk. The bartender clicked his tongue, and took their glasses. He placed a tab into their passed out hands, and went to cleaning. Atarashi slipped in and read their list. No names he knew were on it, but he knew the would be useful. He copied them down, and slipped the small parchment into its original position. He left some money between the two money, feeling bad for making them pick up the whole tab. He strode into the dark streets, a bit drunk himself. He began stumbling back to his abode. Not noticing how close the platform had come….
Akemi: A Dangerous Confrontation

Akemi woke up early the next morning. Very, very early. She could barely sleep, anyway. The thoughts in her mind churning, burning like a fire. She threw her blanket aside and got up, quietly slipping her shoes on and exiting the inn room, closing the door very softly behind her. She was planning to take a walk around the town. Perhaps that would help her clear her head.

She walked down the squeaky wooden steps which led to the lobby. There was no one there. No one there, except for an old man sitting by himself. He had his hat pulled low and the collar of his jacket upturned, hiding his face. A messy, grisly gray beard could be seen. What really caught Akemi's attention was the badge he wore- it was the same as the badges that the men chasing after her wore. The same shield and dagger pattern. Akemi almost decided to run away, but she froze. She stood there for what seemed like ages, trying to figure this out. Had he been waiting there for her to come down?

There was a paper poking out of his jacket pocket. Was it important? Was it about her? Akemi decided it was worth a shot. She silently tip toed towards the sleeping man, barely daring to breathe as she reached towards his pocket, pinching the corner of the paper. She slowly started to pull it out of his pocket.

The man starting moving and making moaning sounds, and then he stopped. Akemi took a deep breath and yanked the paper out. She unfolded it and straightened the page out. At the top of the page, their coat of arms was printed, showing who it belonged to.

Akemi began reading. It was a list of some sort. A list of names, dates, places. Some of them were crossed off, or marked dead. Akemi ran over to the lobby counter. She took the pencil and a piece of paper off of the counter and quickly scrawled the contents of the list onto the paper. She froze when she read her name. Akemi – Bristol. They knew where she was. When she had the names scrawled onto another sheet of paper, she folded the original list back into its original state, and tucked her copy deep into her pocket.

Silently, slowly, Akemi walked over to the sleeping man and tucked the paper back into his pocket, and then silently slipped away. She left the inn, walking briskly down the empty, morning road. When she was a fairly far distance away from the inn, she relaxed, and took the paper out of her pocket, slowing her walking speed. The list was sorted by location. Akemi read all of the names that were by Bristol. There were three. She started with the first name, which was Yuzuki – Bristol. Prison was listed as a possible location for this person.

Akemi tucked her paper into her pocket and began walking towards the prison. Her shoes tapped on the cobblestone road in sync with the ticking of every clock around her. She kept walking, keeping her head low as she arrived at the outside of the prison.

She silently walked around the outside, looking through the barred windows at the movement inside. She stopped at one of the windows. She could hear a soft crying sound. Akemi stepped closer towards the window, her heart pounding like a drum.

“Hello?” Akemi called out in a shaky breath. The crying immediately stopped and there was silence. The only sound she could hear now was the wind yelling. Her hair flipped around, and she brushed it out of her face as the wind stopped.

“Hello?” The voice form inside finally answered. Akemi froze. She didn't know what she was going to say. She looked in through the cold, barred window into the mostly dark room. She could see the shadow of a figure in the corner, but nothing else.

“I-” Akemi took a deep breath, “I am looking for someone. Someone who might be here. Do you think you could help me?”

There was a shuffling inside and Akemi could see the shadowed figure move out of sight. She thought she could hear her giggling, but, wasn't sure.

“Perhaps. If you gave me a name, I might be able to help you,” The person said. Akemi could assume by now that it was a girl, judging by her voice.

“Yuzuki,” Akemi said. The shuffling from inside the room stopped. There was a soft sound that sounded like a piece of glass hitting the floor. After a moment of silence, there was a scraping sound, like the glass was now sliding along the concrete wall.

“Yes, I know the name. I would tell you more, but, what will you give me in return?” The girl said, the shadow of her head moving past the window quickly. Akemi hadn't thought of this. She took a moment to think.

“Well, what-” Akemi paused, thinking of the possibilities of what could happen, “What do you want?” Akemi continued, looking in through the window. She could hear the girl laughing again. This time, she was positive that the girl was laughing.

“I want you to bring me something. It belongs to me. They took it away from me before they put me in here,” The girl said.

“What is it? Where is it?” Akemi asked.

“What it is, doesn't matter. I can tell you where it is, though,” The girl said, “but, you must promise me, you won't look inside the box.”

Akemi thought for a moment. Was taking this risk really worth finding the person on the list? She decided to, for the possibilities of this ending well. “I promise,” Akemi said.

“Very well. Now, the guards have sent my belongings to a vault somewhere on the other side of the city. If you manage to locate the vault, my belongings are in a rather small, red box. It should be locked with a chain,” The girl said.

“Okay, I will try,” Akemi said.

“Go now. Hurry,” The girl said, disappearing and reappearing in the corner she had been sitting in in the first place.

Akemi turned and began walking towards the other side of the city. She knew there was a building with many vaults in it. However, the security was very heavy, and she wasn't sure she would be able to get very far. She decided to try, though. She needed all the help she could get, even if it was from a psychotic prisoner.

She eventually arrived at the building. As usual, the security was very tight. No one got in or out without identification. Akemi decided she would wait until dark, as to have a better chance of not being seen.

When night fell, Akemi returned to the building and looked around the outside. Guards were standing at every possible entryway. Akemi wondered what ind of things they were guarding in here. That didn't matter right now, though. She just wanted to get in and out as quickly and subtly as possible.

So far, it didn't look like there would be any opportunities to get inside, until she spotted an open window on the top floor. She slowly worked her way around the edge of the building, staying in the dark shadows. She stood there, wondering how she would get up to the window. That problem was solved with a nearby tree. She silently made her way tot he tree and climbed it, walking out on one of the branches. As she did this, she broke one of the smaller branches out. It fell to the ground, grabbing the attention of a security guard, who walked over to investigate. He sneezed a couple of times as he left.

Akemi sighed in relief, watching her footing now as she reached the window sill. This branch allowed her to reach a window which was closed, so she jumped over, landing on the edge and grabbing whatever she could to hold on. She slowly scooted towards the edge of the sill, grabbing the brick wall between the two widows, and swinging herself in through the open window, landing softly in the dark room.

Silently, she found her way to the door, slowly turning the knob and opening it slowly. Men and women were walking up and down the hallway, carrying lanterns. Akemi waited for it to clear out before she left the room.

She slowly made her way downstairs. This room was full of people, and lit brightly. There was no way she would be able to sneak through here. She looked across the room from her hiding place and saw an open door. She could barely make out a rail. That must be a staircase. The men were talking and laughing among one another. They had some sort of gambling table set at the far wall. One of the men there got excited, shouting “I won!”

This grabbed the mens' attention and everyone crowded around the table, their backs to Akemi. Quickly, Akemi slinked across the room towards the open door and flung herself inside. She nearly tripped down the stair, and grabbed hold of the railing. She slowly made her way down in the dark, feeling along the wall to help her find her way. The light from upstairs barely lit the room at all. As her eyes adjusted, Akemi could make out several vaults along the wall. She was surprised that there were no guards down here.

Akemi looked at the vaults. None of them appeared to have a lock. She twisted the handle on one of them and the door slid open with a screech. The men upstairs would have heard this if they weren't being so loud in their excitement. Akemi looked around for a box, remembering the description that the girl had given her. Since the color wouldn't help her in the dark room, she looked for a box with a chain around it. None of the boxes in the vault had a chain around it, so she went to the next one. This one had one box with a chain around it, but when she brought it into the light, she saw that it was blue. She wet on to the next vault, which was almost completely empty. She found a box with a chain around it. It was pretty small, too. She brought it into the light and sighed in relief at the color red. This was the first time she had every been happy to see this color.

Now, she just had to make her way out and back to the prison. Holding the box tightly in her hand, she walked slowly up the stairs and peeked out into the room. The men were still distracted by whatever they were doing at that table. Akemi slowly walked towards the staircase, thinking she had made her way out.

“Hey! Who are you!” A man shouted, running at her down the stairs. Akemi stepped back. All of the men now had their attention on her.

“Oh, no,” Akemi said. The men pointed their guns at her.

“What are you doing here?” One of the men shouted. Akemi quickly looked around the room. There were multiple doors, but she didn't know where any of the led. One of the men cam out of a room, leaving the door open. The light from his lantern gave Akemi just enough time to see the oil drums in there, wondering why they would have those in here. She quickly ducked under the man's arm and rolled into the room, grabbing a lantern as she went. She opened one of the drums and kicked it over, spilling the oil onto the ground. She held the lantern above her head, the flame flickering like anger. By the time the men got to her, they froze.

“One step, and this place goes up,” Akemi said. The men slowly backed away.
The men still had their guns pointed at her. One of them slowly stepped towards her.

“Stop!” Akemi shouted, shaking the lantern.

“Wait, no!” The man shouted. It was too late. The lantern had slipped from her hand. Everybody was running away, busting windows open and trying to get out of the building. Akemi jumped over the oil and ran out of the room as the lantern landed, exploding into flames and igniting the oil.

The next thing Akemi knew, she was being pushed forward and flames leaped out at her. She landed on the wooden floor with one of the men over her. He had lost his gun at some point, and was prepared to attack her with his bare hands. Akemi kicked his leg out from under him, knocking him over. The fire spread quickly across the floor.

Akemi stood up and ran upstairs, fleeing from the fire. She found a window and kicked it out, but something under her gave way to the flames, and she felt herself falling. There was now fire everywhere. All she could see were the angry flames. She was back on the ground floor, surrounded with no way out. One of the wooden beams collapsed, causing a whole section of the ceiling to fall over her.

Akemi griped for a way out, pushing through the rubble as she went. The rubble had fallen on the fire, making small place for Akemi to get out. She tripped over the rubble, running quickly as the flames swallowed it up. She jumped forwards, barely making it across without getting burned. She found a small window and broke it, swinging herself through it. She still had the box in her hands. She began running away from the building into the night of the city.

She ran down the cobblestone road towards the prison, wasting no time in her attempt to reach it as soon as she could.
Kurie and Suzukiya:When it's nice to see the sun. (Now with less typos[I hope])

         The cloud of dust clouded her head, not helping the panic of the situation. A deafening screeching was enveloping everything. Steam blasts could be heard, but Kurie ignored it. She had to dig through the rocks in front of her. Kurie wrapped her fingers around each large stone, pulling it from the pile. She kept at it, pulling out chunks of concrete and rounded stones alike. Small rubble and pebbles were acting to pack in the stones as she went in deeper. She could see Suzukiya’s leg twitching underneath the rocks, she was trying to move. She twisted her body, bending her leg even worse. It seemed like the entirety of her lower leg had been detached. The bottom bone could be seen pushing against the skin. The flesh had become a sickly greenish black. Veins could be seen thickly blue and red. Suzukiya kept moving, tearing up the tendons inside. Kurie tried to halt her, but she seemed insistent. Suzukiya's face scrunched up as she reached up to help Kurie dig. She seemed to soak in the pain.

“ Suzukiya… Stop… You're going to ruin your leg!” Kurie begged as she clawed at the buried stones. Suzukiya did not take the advice, and kept turning and digging. Her knee was nearly facing the opposite directions of her toes at this point. The flesh was stretching so thin that Kurie could see the bones underneath.

“If we don't finish, we both d-die…” Suzukiya struggled out.

          Nobody came to investigate the formed hole, in their luck. Metal moved overhead, filling the cavern with the awful smell of oil. The various pipes spurted steam as it went by. A rounded hatch passed over, too fast to take in. Kurie was horrified looking at it. it cut off the light to her, but she kept digging her nails into the pile. Relentlessly grasping and pulling at debris. The platform metal mass finally moved over, leaving a spurt of exhaust behind it. Kurie looked at her scratched hands. She was missing two fingernails, and another was cracked. Her worn hands held up pretty well against the stones, but a few cuts appeared in the cracks of her fingers. As she turned over a few more stones, she saw a sock. It was pulled mostly down, allowing her to see the scraped, block skin. Suzukiya pulled her leg away from the wall, causing a few stones to topple down onto the two of them. Kurie reached in and dislodged another stone, and Suzukiya yanked again. Kurie yelled at her to stop, but she didn't listen. With a cringing crack, her foot yanked out of the pile. It hung limp from the end of her leg. the shoe nearly destroyed, and pieces of Suzukiya’s foot jutted out. The girl gave nothing more than grunt and began crawling out of the light. The vibrations calmed, and the sound of the engine faded away. Kurie went to support Suzukiya, and wrapped her arms around her. The lower leg had been reduced to nothing more than hanging flesh.

“Suzukiya, are you ok? Can you see straight?” Kurie held her hand over Suzukiya’s forehead. The she felt along her heart, and checked her breathing. Then she waved her hand in front Suzukiya’s face to make sure she reacted.

"There were bad people up there, I needed to get out of the light.” Suzukiya responded nonchalantly, looking over her severely injured foot. The shoe had burst open, and was hardly holding on. The crunched shape of her foot was apparent, and Kurie did not want to look any closer at it. She felt a little nauseous already from looking at the leg.

“We’re going to have to slow now… That leg is...” Kurie eyed Suzukiya's leg warily, fearing it may need to come off.

“Is it that bad?” Suzukiya twisted her leg around funnily, watching it flop around.

“S-stop that! You're going to tear up your nerves!” Kurie shouted, thinking there may not be any left if she couldn't feel it.

“Sorry mom…” Suzukiya muttered quietly. Kurie barely heard it, but she could make it out.

It left Kurie a little dumbfounded, but Suzi still fiddled with her leg. “I said stop twirling your leg Suzi!”

“I did… Don't yell at me.” Suzukiya said meekly as she scratched across Kurie’s face with her nails. Suzukiya used her good leg to push herself up as Kurie reeled back. She used her useless leg to take step, but the misaligned bone did not support her. It stabbed right up through her calf, colliding with her knee. Suzukiya paused for a moment, but kept trying to walk away.

Kurie touched her face, it didn't seem to be bleeding. “Suzukiya, you're going to ruin that leg! Stop now!”

         Kurie rose to her feet, and tried to restrain Suzukiya. She hissed at Kurie, and dug her nails into Kurie’s sides. Kurie fell to the ground in pain. Blood was drawing. Suzukiya climbed on top of Kurie, and began scratching at her. The sharp pain made it very difficult to think straight, but she kept her hands up to try and keep Suzukiya from hurting her. She was in a blind state if anger, and flailing her Charlene's finger nails at Kurie.. The broken leg flailed behind Suzukiya as she used her other to put immense pressure on Kurie’s chest. Kurie gritted her teeth and pushed up against Suzukiya’s face. She responded by leaving deeper gashes in Kurie's face with her nails. Kurie wretched back, and tried to throw the girl off, but she couldn't.

"S-stop....” Kurie managed to spit out of her torn mouth. She pressed her thumbs into anywhere she thought it would hurt, but the girl didn’t react to anything. She could feel blood dripping from the gashes in her neck. “D-don't hurt…. Your mother….” She knew it wasn't true, but it had an effect on Suzukiya. She pulled her hands back, and slowly crawled off Kurie.

          She calmed very slowly. She rose to her feet, hobbling on her one foot to where Kurie was. She had a apologetic look to her. The bone had pierced through her backwards leg, blood was leaking out of the side.

“Im sorry… Kurie.” Suzukiya looked down to her leg as she spoke. “Do you need help?”

Part of Kurie wanted to spit in her face, and run a spear through her chest. The other half was a bit more sympathetic though. “Im fine, just a couple scratches. I've suffered far worse.” Kurie admitted. “We need to realign your leg before it tears it self up anymore.”

          Suzukiya nodded, and started twisting her leg around. Not feeling the pain she should be. She then started pressing her knee down over and over, trying to put it on like a shoe. Kurie crawled over to her, and stopped her reckless action. Kurie pushed rep he jutting bone back into the leg, and felt for the others. Warm blood from her face dripped onto the shoe, but it didn't bother her. She felt sorry for Suzukiya more, and focused on her work. Once she had identified the end of both bones, Kurie wrapped one arm around Suzukiya’s thigh, and used her other hand to line up the calf. She felt the bones creak together, making her cringe. They didn't line up well anymore, but it would do.

“Stay still, don't let that slip.” Kurie ordered. Suzukiya leaned both hands against the wall, still as a statue. Kurie took a lighter out of her pocket, and lit it. She let the tip heat up. She located where the bone had poked through, and closed it with her fingers. The heated lighter acted as a soldering pen, and closed the wound. It left a white burn, but Suzukiya did not twitch. “Why don't you feel it?”

Suzukiya put her chin on her hand. “Should I?” she stabbed her nails into her hand, and watched the blood drip. “I don't think Ive felt in years.”

Kurie secured the lower end of her spear to Suzukiya’s leg with some of the ruined clothing from earlier. It managed to become a makeshift brace. “Nothing at all?” Kurie inquired. Suzukiya shook her head.

“People have done a lot of things to me… I don't like people much.” She cryptically replied, attempting to move away as Kurie secured the brace. “Except for you…”

“D-don't! You still can't walk on this.” Kurie desperately replied, holding her leg still. “But… That's sweet.”

          A loud pop echoed through the cavern. The crack of a gun deafened Kurie, but she wished it would've blinded her instead. A bullet exploded in a rose through the chest of Suzukiya, covering Kurie in her blood as the bullet landed in her lap.. Kurie’s eyes widened in shock, the muffles shouts slowly began to materialize as her grip loosened in Suzukiya . Suzukiya fell over and curled into a ball, slowly pooling up in blood. A huge hole opened in her back, full of tender flesh. It was a shot through the heart, no mistake. Kurie ignored the soldiers with guns and slowly crawled over to Suzukiya's body. Her gasping breaths made ripples in the pools of blood. Kurie had trouble comprehending, and tried to hold back everything. She couldn't do it thought, and she felt it moving out. Tears welled up in her eyes as she looked up at the soldiers coming down to pull her out. She couldn't see them clearly with the tears dripping from her eyes. the blurred figures grabbed her, and started pulling her away. Kurie defiantly kicked and tried to crawl back toward to Suzi, she was still gasping for breath. More soldiers flooded into the hole, holding Kurie, and inspecting Suzi. As they pulled Kurie out of the hole, she saw the guards stand over Her friend, and shoot her again. All of her twitching stopped, and the guards laughed.

###########

          The guards identified her, and cuffed her arms. Kurie was still bleeding, her hands were scuffed, and she wasn't sure how much of the blood on her she actually owned. Guards pushed her into the back of a vehicle. She could see out the window as they dragged out the body in a bag. She had no more tears, only bitter rage. A man in the vehicle grabbed her by the chin gently, and turned her head to him. He took a rag out and started blotting up the blood. His attire would indicate he was a doctor, not a soldier. Once he found the cuts under the blood, he went to work on sewing them up. The prickling pain of a needle was one she was used to, and mostly nulled by the swimming adrenaline Kurie had. He felt around her body. she didn't particularly care, when she would normally kill someone for trying. She guided his hand to the place where Suzi had dug her nails, and he went about sewing that too.

“These are deep cuts, you're lucky we were able to pull her off you in time. Rather savage looking. We should be able to cover the scars with a bit of…” The doctor said, being cut off by Kurie.

“You killed Suzi…...” It was the first thing she had said in hours. Her voice was raspy, and hoarse. She hardly was able to squeak it out.

The doctor laughed to himself a bit. “I didn't, I took an oath. I can do no harm. She seemed like she wanted to kill you though. Or did these claw marks come from a wild bird?” The doctor told her sarcastically. Though Kurie didn't detect a mocking tone.

          Kurie thought about the statement. She could kill him, her letter open pressed against her skin in its sleeve. She just gulped down her words and sat there. She didn't have many places to go. She could keep running, living for the people she had killed. Kurie realized she didn't care about them anymore. They were dead, and so was Suzi. The doctor finished his work, and straightened up. He put away the bloody needle, and gave Kurie a sympathetic look. He sat on the opposite side of Kurie, and pulled out an extraordinarily clean bottle full of little capsules. He dumped one into his hands.

“Swallow this. It will stop infection.” The good doctor handed it to Kurie, but she didn't not eat it. “They're not from the government, I made them myself. If you're worried about poison.” Kurie kept glaring at him. “Well, die then. I will not end your suffering, I can do no harm.” Kurie thought about it for a moment, and popped it into her mouth. She swallowed it, and relaxed.

“I will live at least one more day.” She thought to herself. “I have a new reason to live… Revenge.”
Chiyoko and Itatchi: Tensions

Chiyoko was never one for a calm conversation. If she wanted something, she would take it. She always went straight to the point, leaving out the details. Roku and Etoku were the exact opposite of that, but stuck with her to watch out for their sister, Mizuki. They knew they couldn't always be there for her, but, they would try as long as they could.

Chiyoko stood at the window of a nice, warm house. Who the owners were, she didn't know. No, she didn't care. She had smashed the window open in her previous rage. Ever since her adopted parents had told her about the murder of her real parents, she was mad at everything, and the fact that she couldn't find any criminal history records related to her parents kindled her rage. The wind blew in through the open window, blowing papers off of a desk beside her. Roku, Etoku and Mizuki were off in another room, exploring the house. Chiyoko stooped down, picking up the old, weathered papers off of the floor and straightening them back on the desk. She looked at the paper on top of the stack. Her eyes grew wide and her hands trembled. Her eyes flicked left and right, soaking in the words on the page, stopping as soon as she read the name Matsumoto. The last name of her birth parents. Skimming back to the top of the page, she found a description of the murderer. There was no name, but, whoever he was, was the person who had killed her parents.Before she could read the description, Roku, Etoku and Mizuki came in. Chiyoko gripped the paper tightly in her hand, hiding it behind her back as she turned towards the triplets.

“Chiyoko, are you okay?” Roku asked. Chiyoko didn't respond for a moment. She wasn't sure what she was going to say to the triplets. She hadn't planned on keeping them around, but they had grown close to her.

“When-” Chiyoko paused, closing her eyes for a moment. She took in a deep breath, “When was the last time you three saw your parents?” Roku, Etoku and Mizuki exchanged glances of shock.

“I, don't know,” Mizuki said.

“A month or two ago?” Etoku said.

“I want you to go, see them. It's about time for you to go, anyway. This is about to get pretty, dangerous,” Chiyoko said. Mizuki waved her gun sarcastically.

“We don't know how to get back home, anyway,” Roku said.

“I do. Which is why, I'm taking all three of you back home. Now,” Chiyoko said sharply.

“But-” Mizuki started, but was cut off by Chiyoko.

“Don't try to argue. Nothing will sway my decision,” Chiyoko said.

“You found the murderer, didn't you?” Etoku asked. Chiyoko clenched her teeth and nodded.

“Come on, guys. I know the way home,” Etoku said. Chiyoko didn't want to see them go. They felt like siblings to her. She turned around as to not see them as they left. She shut her eyes and leaned against they window sill, knocking glass off of the edge. It clattered to the ground outside, shattering worse and filling the empty air with a moment of sound. Chiyoko faced the window for what seemed to her like hours, but was really only a couple of minutes. When she turned around, Roku, Etoku and Mizuki were gone. Chiyoko regained her composure, bringing the paper back into view. Suddenly, a clanging sound resonated from the next room over. Chiyoko stood there, looking blankly into the room. A few moments after, and old man came walking in. His eyes were gray and lifeless, and his beard was a color to match. Chiyoko just stood there, looking at him as the wind knocked remnants of glass out of the window sill.

The man stopped, not looking at all surprised for some odd reason. He looked at her, then walked over to his couch and sat down. He picked up a cup and sipped something out of it. Chiyoko stood there in wonderment.

“I had a feeling you might come some day,” the old man said. Chiyoko looked down at the paper in her hand, and then back at the old man.

“You, know who killed them, don't you?” Chiyoko shouted.

“Well, yes. He was just a boy at the time, though,” The man said, putting on a pair of spectacles and turning his gaze back towards the intruder, “yes, and it was my fault. Don't punish him now for what he did.”

“No, I've been searching much too long to quit now. I'm going to find him, and, when I do,” Chiyoko made a violent motion in front of her neck. The man stood up and came closer to her.

“Please, he, is my son. It was me that provoked him. At the time, I didn't see wrong in my actions. Now, I do, and I see what that wrong has caused. So much pain it has caused to others,” The man said, putting his hand on Chiyoko's shoulder.

“I don't care. He is still the one that killed them and left me there in my cradle to be found by who ever passed by,” Chiyoko said.

“Yes, I'm sorry. So sorry,” The man took his hand off of her shoulder and looked down. He opened his mouth again to speak, but when he looked up, Chiyoko had left. She walked angrily down the street, gripping the paper so tight that her knuckles turned white. Smoke rolled across the street, being dispensed from its nearby factory, filling the air with a scent of iron and burnt rubber. Happy children ran along up and down the street. Chiyoko couldn't stand to look at them, though. They only reminded her of Roku, Etoku and Mizuki. An awful, high pitched whistling sound filled her ears as she passed by a small building. She didn't notice, though. The ear splitting pain didn't exist in comparison to her confusion and rage. She had already memorized the description of her parents' murderer. She pictured in her mind what he could possibly look like. As she fumed along the streets, she suddenly walked into someone, causing both of them to fall back.

“Hey!” Chiyoko shouted as she stood up, calming down when she realized who it was. “Akemi? What are you doing here?”

“I- uh, nothing. What are you doing?” Akemi asked.

“Nothing,” Chiyoko answered, looking at the red box in Akemi's hand. “What's that?” She asked, pointing to the box.

“Nothing. What's that?” Akemi asked, pointing towards the paper in Chiyoko's hand.

“Nothing,”Chiyoko responded.

“Then we have nothing to talk about. Good bye,” Akemi said, waving her hand at Chiyoko.

“Bye,” Chiyoko answered. As they passed each other, Akemi reached around and snatched the paper out of Chiyoko's hand.

“Hey!” Chiyoko yelled, spinning around towards Akemi. Akemi was already reading the paper. Chiyoko snatched it away angrily, scowling at Akemi.

“You found the murderer?” Akemi asked.

“Well- uh, yeah,” Chiyoko answered.

“Good for you,” Akemi said.

Chiyoko was going to say something smart back to her, but then she stopped, “Wait, what?”

“Good for you. Finally found him after all this time,” Akemi said.

“Oh, uh... Yeah. Perhaps, you've seen him around?” Chiyoko asked, showing Akemi the paper.

Akemi read the description. Her eyes grew wide and she gasped. “I- Itatchi,” She said under her breath.

“What was that?” Chiyoko said.

“N-nothin. I've never seen him,” Akemi answered.

“No, you said a name!” chiyoko looked down for a moment, playing Akemi's word over and over in her head like a broken record player. “Itatchi!”

“N-no! That's not what I said!” Akemi shouted.

“Yes, it is. You know him. He's around here somewhere, isn't he?” Chiyoko asked, looking around.

“No!” Akemi shouted. Chiyoko turned and ran. Directly in the direction of the Inn that Kaminiri and Itatchi were staying in. Akemi looked down at the red box in her hand. She was so close. Looking back towards Chiyoko, she decided to go after her to save her friend. She broke into a run, barely able to keep up with her agile and quick prey.

“Chiyoko! Don't!” Akemi shouted. Chiyoko was already in the Inn. Akemi gasped, seeing her and Itatchin fly out of a high window in the building. They landed on the ground below and disappeared out of sight.

*********

Chiyoko and Itatchi tumbled down into some sort of underground drain. It was old and crumbling. Chiyoko was flying at Itatchi with all the strength she had. Suddenly, The stony floor underneath them gave way, and they fell ten feet deeper into the drain. There was mud, water and debris everywhere. Both of them were pinned under the stones, mud and debris, their bodies sunk halfway into the muddy water. Itatchi worked to free himself, but to no avail. Chiyoko's lower half of her body was buried deep in the rubble, but she didn't try to free herself. Instead, she grabbed whatever large rocks and pieces of concrete she could find, and hurled them at Itatchi, hitting him several times. Itatchi sighed in relief when the girl was out of things to throw at him. He worked at freeing himself, and Chiyoko did, too. Neither of them could pry the densely packed rubble away, and the water only mad it harder to move.

“Who are you? And why are you doing this?” Itatchi yelled, gasping from his exhausted attempts to get free.

“You, killed my parents!” Chiyoko screamed, trying to wriggle her way free. Her legs were stuck under the wreckage, unable to move. Itatchi was in a similar position. They struggled for several minutes, until they heard a voice from above.

“Itatchi!” Akemi shouted, “Chiyoko!” Her footsteps could be heard up on the cobblestone street.

“Akemi!” Itatchi yelled, taking another rock to the head, which was delivered by Chiyoko. Rocks tumbled down into the hole on top of them. Akemi followed soon after.

“Itatchi! Are you okay?” Akemi asked.

“Yeah, fine,” Itatchi said as Akemi began digging him out of the rubble. The water level seemed to be rising, and all at once, began rising faster and faster. Akemi looked for the source of the water. There was a pipe on the far wall, spurting water out. It's exit was plugged by the rubble. Akemi began digging faster, ignoring the sharp pain of the gravel working its way under her finger nails. With each pile of rubble she removed, a bigger pile seemed to fall into its place. The water level was now right under chest level. Akemi was ducking under water to dig Itatchi out, barely coming up for air. When it was obvious she wasn't going to be able to dig him out, Akemi kicked at the dirt in front of the water's exit. Eventually, it loosened up, and the force of the water finished the job, creating a vacuum that sucked the dirt in. Akemi couldn't swim against the current. It was dragging her in, too. She managed to grab onto a metal pipe along the wall, though. As the water flowed, it washed the dirt away from Chiyoko and Itatchi's prison of rubble. They grabbed onto whatever bricks and pipes they could to keep the water from dragging them down.

“Akemi!” Itatchi shouted, but received no answer. Akemi was under water now, and couldn't hear him. Suddenly, she lost her grip as one of the large pieces of rubble slammed into her, forcing her to go along with the current. She swam up as high as she could, but still received no air for her desperate lungs.

“Akemi!” Itatchi shouted again, desperately looking for her through the mass of dirty water. As the pressure died down, Itatchi and Chiyoko could now walk freely in the water. Chiyoko went right back to attacking Itatchi, starting with a kick in the ribs. Itatchi yelled in pain, and then delivered a blow right back to Chiyoko, causing her to slip and fall under the muddy water. Unable to see her now, Itatchi backed against the wall, trying to find his way back up to the surface. Chiyoko surfaced and grabbed Itatchi by his leg, yanking him back, causing him to slam into the wall. Now the water level was going down quite a bit, and the hard floor could almost be seen. Chiyoko drew a blade out of the silky bow on her dress. How she had managed to keep it there through all of this left Itatchi in amazement. Itatchi's weapon had been left back at the Inn. Chiyoko brought the blade up in front of her face and waved it, smiling widly. Itatchi managed to dodge most of the attacks, but ended up with several cuts in various places. Itatchi finally managed to grab Chiyoko by her middle and flip her over, causing her to slam into the ground. She lied there for a moment, not able to get up.

Itatchi found his way over to the ledge, which was where they had come from. He managed to hoist himself up, but still couldn't reach the last ledge to get out. Chiyoko stood up and hoisted herself up after him. Itatchi took a running jump up the wall and grabbed hold of the edge. He pulled himself up and over, rolling out onto the streets of Bristol. He lied there for a moment, almost laughing at the groans coming from Chiyoko's attempt to reach the high ledge. He knew she eventually would, though. He got up and rand down the street, aiming for a safe place to hide, and keeping eyes and ears out for Akemi, not knowing where she was, or how far from him she was.
A sudden stop of the heart

         The world was not upright, per say. Atarashi had sparsely made it inside, let alone to a comfortable place to sleep. His head throbbed, and he felt sick to his stomach. His drunken venture from last night had not entirely left him. He could still feel a little buzz in his bloodstream, disrupting his natural rhythm. He had made to frequenting different pubs nowadays. Sometimes he would bring back some for Hatsumeika to drink away the pain of his leg. Atarashi ruffled his hair, lifting his skull from the hard tile floor. He had trouble standing on his two feet, missing the first time he tried to line up his second foot. He finally placed his two feet on the ground, and straightened his back. He stretched his arms in all directions, having to regain his balance once or twice. The apartment smelled retched, though it was the best they could do. He preferred the little building by the market. It gave him access to food, and information. It had beds, that was the main kicker. There was knot in Atarashi’s spine, and it had not left him in the entirety of this whole venture. Hatsumeika was nowhere to be seen, he had taken to walking in the recent mornings. Atarashi did not mind, the platform had not been seen in quite some time anyway. Hatsumeika’s maps were splayed out on the table, more scribbles were visible than he remembered. They were down to very few hiding spots by now. At least, risk free ones.

         Atarashi strolled toward the detached living room, all the poorly chosen spots to sleep making their voice apparent. His pulse filled his ears, muffling most other sounds. Atarashi threw on his usual outing garb, and made his way toward the front door. He leaned his shoulder against the hard oak door, and turned the brandished handle. Hatsumeika was directly outside, to the left. He was leaned against the wall, one hand held firmly on his cane. His eyes were glazed, and his mind seemed absent. He rolled his head toward Atarashi as he exited the building. He blinked some of the wear out of his eyes, and turned back to the street.

“The streets are silent today.” Hatsumeika muttered to nobody in particular.

“That's normal around here. Most people just eye us lazily around here.” Atarashi told him, remembering the general habits. The clock was set around noon, most people were working.

Hatsumeika yawned. “It is a boring street. I wouldn't mind giving them some tired glances either.”

Atarashi jokingly punched his arm. “I'm going to go find breakfast, any requests?”

“Ever eaten rats? They're not that bad.” Hatsumeika grumbled. He was not in a good mood.

“Can't say I have, or wish to.” Atarashi told him straightly, it was not an appealing thought.

         Hatsumeika opened his mouth to respond, but shut it just as quickly. The while they had spent there had left his spirit broken. Atarashi was sure a great many things contributed, but exhaustion was definitely a key suspect. Atarashi walked away from the building. He would make a usual circle back to the marketplace, hoping to run into his new friends. Yorren was definitely against his interests, but his hands in Liqqhui’s pockets were very helpful. Atarashi had not pulled any more information out of them, or even tried for that matter. He did not run into their female associate either. He was mostly thankful for it. The two men had not been able to recognize his face, but he was certain someone paid to off him would make the connection.

         Atarashi turned the corner out of an alley into the downtown market. There were very few people wandering, and most stalls were left unattended. There were no papers today, Atarashi noted. Curious, he went to look at the single cards that had replaced it. A clock face was drawn on the front, similar to the huge one towering over everything else. The drawn clock depicted the ornate hands on 3:00. A ghoulishly silver font underneath simply read. “DON’T MISS.” It sent a bad omen to Atarashi. He folded the little card, and tucked it into his pocket. Two angry voices echoed from down the street a ways.

“…if we catch it on the morn, then it's a straight shot. Your status makes us…” Yorren was cut off.

“Makes, me! You'll be stuck here with the rest of them. I'd like it if my entourage didn't get herded with the cattle.” Liqqhui retorted to him. Atarashi approached them at a brisk pace.

Both man stopped their conversation, and turned to him. “The drunken owl returns to us! I might start questioning where you've been for the past few days, and….” Yorren’s cheery face fell. “Never mind it, it's not right Mables. It's not right at all.”

“Then might it be left?” Atarashi questioned jokingly.

“Calm your nonsensical word hole for a moment would you? We are worried in all legitimate ways.” Liqqhui said, though his demeanor remained more level.

Yorren shook his head for a bit. “You're more than you let on Mables. I don't think you've just run into us in a bar.”

Yorren grabbed Atarashi by the collar, and pulled him off the street. Liqqhui shut the door behind the two. “Are your ears clear mables? Ah, they always are anyway. I need you to take every word I say with utmost severity.” Liqqhui sat Atarashi at a table, and sat on the other side. He seemed afraid to speak, and leaned in very close to Atarashi. “Today at noon, the clock froze. It's pendulum stopped swinging and rested in the middle. Ever since then, they have all...stopped.”

“Stopped? What do you mean by… Stopped?” Atarashi felt the omen from earlier creeping up.

“The people, they've all gathered in the center around the clock. All just staring at the face, Yorren almost took to following it, if I hadn't grabbed him.” Liqqhui darted his eyes around. “I'm about to give you sensitive information, do not let it leave your mouth. About a week ago, they pulled to people out of a crater. It lead to an underground network of tunnels. One person they brought to custody, the other… We're not quite sure.” Liqqhui shifted his position, unable to become comfortable.

It did not ring well in Atarashi’s ears. “Two… People? Who were they?” Heat rose under his collar, he knew the answer.

“They won't tell, even I hear nothing of it.” Liqqhui told him, unsure if himself.

“There are whispers though, very special cases…” Yorren muttered.

“Those are buried rumors, I don't deal in them.” Liqqhui darted at him.

“Everything is off here Liqqhui. Everybody we've run into has had something off, even poor Mables here.”

Liqqhui angrily shifted. “Then why don't you off him? No, Mables is the most normal we've met.”

Yorren turned to Atarashi. “Knowledge is the weapon in this country. We need all of it. You need the rumors. Certain people bring things down from the chains. They're saying that they pulled rebels out of the pipes, but they wouldn't make such a fuss. Others keep saying that it was another of the Doctor’s prisoners. Some say one died, but sometimes they say he rose up, Killed everyone, and took to the streets. There was a struggle downtown you know. Fights aren't common here.”

Atarashi did know, he was worried it was Kurie. He had found traces of at least three people in the mud of the cold streets. It didn't quite match up. “Rose up? Maybe they weren't really dead.”

“Doubtful, the people roaming are very careful. I'm sure they're both dead, I have no expectations for either.” Liqqhui licked his lips. “But there's something off about the whole thing, and with the people all herded into the middle…”

Atarashi rose from the table, pushing any thoughts of it from his head. “I need to go.” He started pushing toward the door.

“No! You'll get stuck in the crowds if you get close.” Yorren put a hand on his shoulder to stop him. “At least, take this.” Yorren pressed the broom handle of a gun into Atarashi’s hand.

Atarashi nodded. He grasped the handle, and stuffed it into his coat. Atarashi grapsed the handle of the door, and started to leave. Liqqhui’s voice interrupted. “And one more thing, we've left your things where you need them, Atarashi.”

          Atarashi turned immediately, only to see an empty room. The words “DON’T MISS” were engraved in the table. Atarashi shook his head, and took off into the streets.

==============
“Three. Seven. Nine…. I can't read that.” Kurie read each number. It was becoming increasingly difficult with each lens they snapped on.

“Then, one more…” The good doctor placed another lens over the edge of the glasses.

          it had become the norm for strange tests to be performed at this point. At first, Kurie had refused to do the testing. After so long, she had been placed in the hands of which she simply dubbed the “bad doctor.” The good doctor was able to pull her back into his influence, and she had been much more willing. Each one of the tests seemed extremely pointless. Once, she was asked to stack three cube blocks on top of each other. Each was the same color, and it was not very difficult. The next time, she was asked to stack 3 cylindrical blacks. The circumstances were similar, and completed rather quickly. She was pulled out once again to perform tests. The good doctor gave her two pyramids, and a lead sphere. This time she was not asked to stack, but instead he said “solve it.” She had not managed to much. She scraped some lead off of the sphere, and clasped it in her hand. She had slipped into the bad doctor’s coffee, and she watched him die. It did not bring her joy, but she slept better that night. They blasted the same song every night after that. A violin playing the same note, over, and over, and over…. She hated. After three days, she killed the guard who escorted her, and she broke the player. She dragged the body into her room, and stuffed it into her mattress. The smells made her happy. She didn't see it, or realize it. She was going mad.

“I can't see.” Kurie responded to the good doctor blankly. She rather liked the good doctor. Maybe one day, she would claim him as well.

“I don't want you to look for the numbers, I want you to see it.” The good doctor always gave cryptic answers, Kurie loved to solve them. Picking apart all the little details. She would discuss it with her mattress at night.

“I can't see anything.” Kurie responded again, bluntly. She looked all around. In the blackness she saw nothing, but her own thoughts. She didn't like them. They terrified her.

“Then you haven't looked hard enough.” The good doctor would not give her a straight answer. She had no silver tongue to spare for him.

          The good doctor crouched down beside her. She could feel his breath on the side of her hair. Kurie thought about choking him, and taking him back to her cell. Maybe… He seemed to be more use alive than dead. His hand gently brushed some of her hair to the side. She could not see him, but she could feel it. She hadn't seen herself in weeks. At least, she assumed the timeframe. She hadn't seen the sun either. In truth, she feared herself. It brought back memories of Suzi in the cell. Kurie hadn't thought about leaving either, she loved the good doctor. He was very nice.

An abrupt knocking interrupted her train of thought. “No… I still need her.” The good doctor muttered to someone she could not see it. She could feel him move away.

“It is now. She must bleed at its feet.” A man said, nearly robotic.

“We’ll just bury her, like last time. She's far too useful.” The good doctor said to them. He was defending her. He was a good doctor.

“We buried her last time. That's why we have this new girl. It was messy cleaning up your mistakes, doctor.” The man said. He wasn't nice. He is the mean guard. That is his name.

         The sound of flesh colliding with metal bounced into her ears. Kurie hoped the good doctor had beat the man, but it was not the case. She turned to look at him, and she could see it. The mean man’s blood ran hot orange. She could see his heart pumping, warm and neon. His right arm raised, and brighter than the other. The good doctor lie on the floor, his blood was pooled up around him. The pool was losing color, but the good doctor was still glowing. The mean man must suffer. Kurie rose to her feet. As the mean man raised his metal stick again, she grabbed it. She yanked again and again, and weakened his grasp. He pulled it from his reluctant fingers and hit him across the face. He watched his flowing orange liquid spray from his mouth. His glowing heart beat faster. She hit him again, and again, and again…. He glowed less each time. Soon the outside of him was covered in a film of glowy Orange. She could see his glowy heart slow down, but it didn't stop. So she stopped it. Soon the man stopped glowing, and she turned to the good doctor.

“I saw.” Kurie said. She removed her many lens glasses, and crouched down by the good doctor.

He gave off his form of a happiness, and grasped Kurie’s shoulder. “Then we will go. Madame Kurie… DON’T MISS.”
Akemi: Unexpected Introduction

Akemi finally surfaced, gasping for air, breathing quickly and heavily. Her heart began beating like a drum. She felt tired, beaten and helpless. She didn't know if she would ever find her way out alive. She couldn't see in the pitch black. Some spots of light could be seen- she didn't know where from- coming from gaps and holes in the bricks. She felt her way along the slimy tunnel, looking for a ladder or something. Then, she stopped.

“Oh, no,” Akemi breathed to herself, every slight little sound echoing through the sewers, “The box!” She began making her way back, feeling around in the shallows of the water, hoping that she could find it. After what seemed like hours of searching, she turned around, and began looking for a way out again. It would be impossible to find such a thing in a place like this, especially in the dark. Soon, she came to a place where the tunnels split. She decided to take the right one, hoping it was the right way to go. She felt something underfoot, and she lost her balance and fell backwards into the water, soaking her hair and clothes again. She felt around in the water, looking for what she had tripped on. She found something, and picked it up. Shaking the trash and dirt off of it, she realized what it was. She smiled, amazed and happy that she had found it, relishing the feeling of the box in her hands once again. She stood up, shook her hair a little bit and continued walking. Finding a little bit of dappled light, she found that the box was red. It was the same box. She was so relieved. She continued walking, finally reaching a dead end. She felt around the wall, looking for a ladder, or anything, to help her get out. She looked up, seeing a little bit of light in a ring like shape. She hoped that she would be able to get out there. Finally, she found a ladder,and grasped each rung, eager to get out of the awful smells and feelings below. She reached the light, finding that it was a metal drain plug, and lifted it aside. She came out onto the street, kicking the metal plug back into place. She breathed in deeply, enjoying the smell of the fresh air. She looked down at her clothes. The awful smells they emitted prompted her to change them, along with the awful appearance they now bore. She had lost her gun somewhere along the line, as well. She pulled the paper out of the pocket. It was soggy, and wet, but once she let it dry, it was still readable.

She soon made her way to a dress shop. They had many dresses, most of them too absurd for her to take a liking to. She soon found one that she thought was decent, though. And it fit comfortably, allowing her to move freely. After paying with the little bit of money she had left, she left the shop, wearing her new dress. The neck had ruffles all the way around it, and the sleeves stopped at her wrist, also lined with ruffles on the end. A silk ribbon was tied around the middle, and the skirt was layered in the front and back, the ends of each layer lined with smaller ruffles that the rest of the dress. The sides were split, revealing a reddish orange skirt underneath the layers. The rest of the dress was green gold and some parts of it were a reddish orange that matched the skirt underneath. She also washed her hair out and brushed it, wearing it down. After she was cleaned up, and the awful smell was gone, she began the trip back towards prison, to talk to the girl there about Yuzuki Aoki. When she arrived, she snuck her way back around to the girl's window.

“Hello?” Akemi called through the barred opening. There was a shuffling sound inside, and then a girl's face appeared at the window. This was the first time Akemi got to see this strange girl in light. She had dark grey eyes and dark hair.

“Ah, I see you made it,” the girl said with a grin that could halfway be seen under the locks of hair in her face, “And you made a change of clothes, too?”

“Uh, it wasn't the best of trips, but, here,” Akemi held the box up in front of the window. The girl's eyes widened and her smile faded to a more serious look.

“That's it. You found it. Give it to me!” The girl faded back into the darkness and stuck her hand between the metal bars. Her nails were dirty and broken, and her hands were cracked, and freshly bleeding. Akemi looked for a moment, wondering who this strange girl was. She began to doubt whether or not she should give her the box.

“Give it to me,” The girl said again.

“F-first, tell me where I can find Yuzuki Aoki,” Akemi said. The girl's hand disappeared. There was a moment of silence.

“I AM Yuzuki Aoki!” The girl said, “Is there anything else you must know before you give me my belongings?”

Akemi was surprised. She had not expected a girl like this to be hunted by, those men... whoever they were. She had never figured out a solid name for them, except for, 'them'.

“Why, are you being chased? Hunted? By-” Akemi started, but was interrupted by the girl.

“The Shibboleth,” the girl suddenly said.

“Is- is that what they're called?” Akemi stuttered.

“Yes. It is. How did you know they are hunting me?” The girl said.

“Because, they're after me, too. I found your name, on this list-”

“What list?” Yuzuki interrupted. Akemi hesitantly took the paper out of the place she had made for it underneath the silk ribbon on her dress and held it up for the girl to see. Yuzuki's eyes flicked from side to side as she took it the information on the paper.

“I-” Akemi was interrupted once again by Yuzuki.

“How? I thought that would stop them... How?” Yuzuki disappeared out of sight again, making whining sounds as she shuffled around her dark cell room.

“Wh- what do you mean?” Akemi asked, half afraid to speak.

“Back, in a city far away from here, I faked my death. I even made the building topple down,” Yuzuki said, still hidden in the shadows.

“How did you get here?” Akemi asked, tucking the paper back into the silk ribbon.

“I ran. Ran for several days, actually. Rumors start to spread around, about a 'terrorist' fleeing that building. I was no terrorist, though,” Yuzuki said, “The rumors started to spread very quickly. I was apprehended and put into this place, accused of attempting to murder several people.”

“Why do the Shibboleth want you so badly?” Akemi asked.

“The same reason they want to kill you. It's like a game to them. They're selfish, very selfish. They kill people for their amusement. They make bets to see who can kill the most. The love watching cities fall to the ground,” Yuzuki said.

“Wh-” Akemi was, once again, cut off by Yuzuki.

“I've answered many questions for you. How about, you answer one for me. You never introduced yourself,” Yuzuki said, coming close enough to the window to appear as a shadow.

Akemi hesitated before answering. “Akemi,” She said.

“Your name is on the list, too,” Yuzuki seemed to be saying this to herself. After a moment of silence, Yuzuki came back to the window and stuck her hand out.

“The box, please!” She shouted. Akemi handed it to her quickly. It barely fit between the bars. Yuzuki recoiled back into the darkness again. There were some clanking sounds, which Akemi assumed were the chains on the box.

“What are you doing?” Akemi asked. Yuzuki didn't answer. She kept doing, whatever she was doing. After a few more moments, Yuzuki came up to the window.

“Akemi,” She said, pausing for a moment, “Help me out, please. I'll tell you everything you want to know. If the Shibboleth know that I am here, they could find me, and kill me! I don't want to die. At least, not like this,” Yuzuki begged.

Akemi thought for a moment. The whole point of doing this was to find Yuzuki and see if she could help. “Alright,” Akemi said after some deep thought.

“All I need is a nail,” Yuzuki said.

“A nail? What for?” Akemi asked.

“To pick the locks on the box,” Yuzuki answered.

Akemi looked around the building and found a small nail. “Will this do?” Akemi asked, handing the nail to Yuzuki.

“Yes,” Yuzuki answered. She took the nail and went back to her box. There was a loud clicking sound, and then some more sounds which Akemi could only identify as metal. Soon, Yuzuki came back to the window. Akemi stepped back as she started banging on it. Soon, the bars broke out and flung out onto the ground. Yuzuki threw something out through the window. It looked like a half hammer, half pickaxe thing, with a rather long handle.

Yuzuki grabbed onto the edges of the window and swung herself outside, landing with bare feet onto the ground. Her skin was pale white. She had long, messy black hair, longer than Akemi's, and her eyes were definitely gray. Her dress was long, and torn in most places. She had cuts and scrapes all over her arms and hands. She stood there, looking into the sky for a few moments, then looked back to Akemi.

“You can have that,” Yuzuki said, leaving her half hammer object on the ground. Akemi accepted, because she had lost her gun and had no other weapons at the moment. She picked it up and hid it in the skirt of her dress, as not to raise suspicions of citizens in the city.

They began walking into the city, staying as unnoticeable as possible. Yuzuki managed to find an old, worn pair of shoes, but they fit, and it was better than walking barefoot on the cobblestone streets. Akemi kept glancing around, keeping an eye out for any signs of Itatchi or Chiyoko.

“What are you looking at?” Yuzuki asked, noticing Akemi's frequent glances.

“I'm just, looking,” Akemi said.

“For what?” Yuzuki asked.

“Someone,” Akemi answered. They kept walking down the streets. Akemi still found no signs of Itatchi or Chiyoko. This worried her. She wondered if they had gotten lost in the sewers, or if something worse had happened... She decided not to think about it, and keep an eye out, mostly for Itatchi.

“I have somewhere to go,” Yuzuki said, looking around for something. She seemed to spot it, and headed towards an empty house. She dashed inside.

“Yuzuki, wait!” Akemi hissed, chasing after her. She followed her inside. Yuzuki was pulling something out of an old trunk. She disappeared into a room, and when she came out, shiny silver armor was visible underneath most of the tears in her dress. She went back to her trunk and pulled an unusually long sword out, along with its scabbard. She fastened the scabbard around her waist and slid the sword into it.

“Alright,” She said, walking out of the house. Akemi followed her back out onto the streets. She still found no sign of Itatchi. They walked for a long while before they finally found somewhere to hide. It was a clearly deserted house, with most of the windows boarded up. Yuzuki forced the door open and they went inside, closing the door tightly behind them.

Yuzuki went off into another room while Akemi looked around the living room. When Yuzuki came back, she had a lit lantern, and a bottle which she started drinking from.

“Yuzuki, what are you drinking?” Akemi shouted.

“I don't know. I think it's wine,” Yuzuki said, taking another drink from the bottle. Akemi yanked the bottle away from her.

“I don't think you need this,” She said. Yuzuki yanked it right back and sat the lantern down.

“Don't deny me my drink! Do you know how long it's been since I've tasted some of this?” Yuzuki said, taking another drink.

“You don't know where it's been, though! Or how old it is!” Akemi said, disgusted.

“Yes I do. It's been in the cellar. And wine is supposed to be old,” Yuzuki said.

Akemi couldn't help it. She had a thing against wine and other intoxicating drinks. She gave up and sat down on an old, broken down couch. Yuzuki sat beside her, the smell of wine rolling off of her breath now.

“It's good. You should try it,” Yuzuki said. Akemi turned her head.

“I don't drink,” She said, getting up off of the couch and walking over to a window. Yuzuki thought she seemed troubled, and sat the bottle down.

“It's okay. You'll find whoever you're looking for. You just have to look hard enough,” Yuzuki said.

Akemi didn't answer, but stood, staring out into the evening sky, sifting her thoughts like sand.
Jarene: Private affairs

         The early morning darkness was still hanging over the city. Even in its early stages, th day had gathered more than its fair share of gloom. A gray fog drooled over the streets, mixed with black smoke. It had been 3 days maybe since they took the machinist dog off the streets, but it's smog still hung thick: Leaving a bad reminder of the incessant noise that roamed around before. It made Jarene all the more thankful for the quiet, and suspicious. A quiet day in the mist couldn't be considered comfortable. She kept feeling like the machine would come out at anytime, and she would be defenseless against it. The thought made her shudder, or the cold did. It was stupidly cold, and her weak heart wasn't helping to heat her up. She held her arms in close, in an attempt to get warmer. It didn't help, so she decided to focus on the scenery.

         Most of the windows down this street were stained with color, and impossible to see through. Deformed silhouettes appeared from time to time, but it would be impossible to pick out physical features on a person. Not that it mattered, Jarene had no interest in anybody here. They treated her the same way, and nobody asked questions. Quite a few vaults and banks were kept on this streets, but nobody who lived her owned them. It was just a coverup for higher ups so they could put things away freely. Her companion was guiding her to his own vault; a cold little building with a bigger basement than it let on.

“It's too cold for this.” Jarene mumbled, complaining to nobody in particular.

“Ah, you have better things to be doing?.” The man was a doctor, but he had taken a huge interest in her services some years ago. He had gained a reputation at this point, most simply called him the “good doctor.”

“Sleep, drink, any number of things. Preferably sleep.” Jarene told him. She could still feel the weak strings of flesh on her chest. They hadn't yet merged completely, and it left definite contrast to the rest of her skin.

“How lazy of you. Why would you waste such a….day.” The good doctor inquired. He knocked on the door of the building.

         Nobody came to answer the door. Jarene’s red coat had become notorious in the past few weeks of service in Bristol, and she wouldn't haven't been surprised to learn they saw her coming. She left the good doctor at the front door, and went to circle the building. The windows were barred with metal, supposedly multiple sheets thick. She was disappointed in the lack of other doors, and it made her frown. She ran her hand along the walls, but there was no kind of special handle. She had been searching for a good long while, and a layer of dew had begun to form on her coat. Her skin was cold to the touch, and offered very little to keep the water from condensing. She went back to the front and stood with the good doctor.

“They have to let us in. I don't see any other obvious ways in.” Jarene said. She looked both ways down the fog ridden morning streets.

“Patience. It's one of my favorite things about you. How about you exercise it.” The good doctor was notably irritated. He tapped his foot expectantly.

Jarene yawned, and wiped the condensation from the handle of her pistol. “Is it going to rain?” She asked, trying to kick up something similar to a conversation.

The good doctor shrugged. “That's not my job to know.”

“Oh yes, you're actual job is much better. How long are you going to keep her?” Jarene inquired, concerning his latest subject.

“As long as it takes to get the gates open. I promised to deliver her.” The Doctor was becoming very impatient, and leaned against the wall.

Jarene sighed. “She seemed a little off put last time, what’s wrong with her?”

“She got some foreign blood in her. Partially your fault.” The good doctor told her, and tapped his bottle against the bricks of the wall.

“I didn't have much control of where the blood went. Your men were sloppy.” Jarene rubbed her chest, the thought of the incident made her cringe a bit.

The good doctor laughed. “King’s men, not my men.”

         Something scraped the door, and a tumbler moved on the other side. A large metal bolt fell, as indicted by its sound. The door unlocked with a nice little click. The good doctor pushed the now unlocked door open. It's hinges creaked, as it opened into darkness. Jarene took the lantern hanging outside the door, and stepped inside. The room wasn't nearly as revolting as last time. Smells from the “prisoner” below did not seep through. A large man in a full body black coat shut the door behind them. He moved the metal bar back into place, and straightened his shoulders. His massive figure stood in front of the door. He grunted unhappily, but tipped his bald head to the good doctor anyway. His face was gnarled nightmare, but he was more gentle in his soul. The tower of a man was a good 2 feet taller than both the doctor and Jarene, maybe even 3. The door frame sat below his neck, so he had to be at least 8 feet.

“You were late to the door Dran, what held you?” The good doctor inquired, as he slipped into his white garb from a hangar.

“Kordin was in charge of the door. He didn't want to let you in.” Dran’s foreign accent seeped heavily into his speech, it was obvious he wasn't from here.

“Really? What moved him?” The good doctor inquired, and put his gloves on.

Dran scratched his head. “It wasn't me, if that’s what you mean. Our guest was getting restless, she was missing her doctor.” Jarene wasn't sure if Dran even knew who their “guest” was. Either way, he seemed as scared of her as Kordin.

“Then I won't keep her waiting… Jarene, please keep Dran company whilst I visit her.” The good doctor unlocked the heavy metal Vault door in the back of the room, and stepped inside. Jarene could hear his footsteps descending slowly on the metallic stairs. An eerie sound, but more eerie were the bed springs. She could hear their prisoner underneath start moving, and crawling. Her nails scraped the bottom of floor, sending shivers up Jarene’s spine. She was sure that the girl below could hear the doctor as well.

“Well then, Dran, please sit with me.” Jarene joked, and sat up against the wall. She pulled out a bottle of thick liquid. The doctor would always say it kept her Healthy, but it tasted revolting. She couldn't help but admit, it added some warmth to her body. It wasn't alcoholic in origin, and she had no intention of sharing any with Dran.

Dran walked over and leaned against the wall. He rubbed his callused hands together, and sighed loudly. “It's cold this morning.” The good doctor’s voice echoed through the vents. Most things he said disturbed Jarene, there was certain feeling to it that wasn't quite right when he was with her. “She pulled one of the disposables into her room the other day. I could smell it. I had to pull him out myself, stuffed in the mattress where the feathers should be.” Dran said, and shook his head. “Doc said I should stuff it with more feathers for when she came back. Something ain't right about wanting to sleep on that bed.”

Jarene shrugged, and took a few swallows from the green bottle. “She was normal at some point; pretty at one point. My only worry is that the doctor’s eyes may be a little too keen.”

Dran laughed. “Well what a lady he's chosen, I'll say that much.” Jarene hadn't meant in that way, but he had a point. Perhaps the simpleton had more brains than she gave him credit for.

         The sound of the doctor’s metallic footsteps started rising again. The bedsprings below screeched, showing the return of the cell’s occupant. Jarene heard her start mumbling, talking to herself as she always did. The doctor’s footsteps stopped abruptly, and he opened the metal vault door. He stepped into lobby-esque room, and looked at Jarene and Dran leaning on a wall. Laughter rose up from his chest, and went over to one of the junk piles on the walls.mfro it, emerged a long wooden board. He set it in the center of the room, and went back to pull out 4 long blocks. He set them into the slots on the board, and flipped over the wooden object. It certainly wasn't a nice table, but it was something. He pulled a few more pieces of wood out, and they acted as makeshift benches. Jarene and The doctor sat down on opposite sides, but Dran took to standing.

“I don't think she will bother us again, at least tonight.” The good doctor told them. He undid the top button of his white grab, and pulled his gloves off. “I was hoping you could discuss some of the names, Jarene.”

Jarene pulled out a little list. The penmanship was surprisingly ornate, most likely Liqqhui’s. She had swiped it from Yorren, but it was obviously not his list. “Atarashi is with Hatsumeika still, neither has slit the other’s throat… Yet. He’s been very close to Liqqhui and Yorren, but they don't seem to know him.”

The good doctor grunted, and drummed his fingers on this table. “What about the other names. They seemed to slip in through some unpleasant means.”

Jarene cleared her throat. “I've been able to keep track of most of them. Chiyoko busted in on her files. The reaction was a bit… Violent. I lost track of her following the triplets. She sent them off, probably suspecting them to leave the city.” The good doctor laughed. Jarene ignored it and kept talking. “Akemi and Itachi disappeared overnight. Her sister was still in the inn as far as I could tell. I'm worried about a few things in that.”

“They're children, doc. They shouldn't be be involved in any dirty business.” Dran said uncomfortably.

“Well they are. Every single one has some blood on their hands. And they're sentient. If it is in my power, I will stop them before the clock takes control.” The good doctor rubbed his eyes, and placed his plan on his forehead. “Jarene…. What about Minerva?”

The name sent an uncomfortable shift through the room. “She’s Juno now.” She gulped it down. The name was somewhat cursed to Jarene, and she hated bringing it up. “I thought she was in central lockdown for a time.” The doctor cut her off.

“It was a false scent, a poor girl. I assume she's not even in the city anymore. Her sporadic followers probably carried her out in a basket.” The doctor said, keeping the details vague to Dran. Both Jarene and the good doctor knew what he meant.

“One can only hope.” Jarene let out, a little dazed.

          The quiet of the room was disturbed by a sound. At first, it was quiet. Like it was an octave above human hearing, but it changed dramatically. The ringing of bells echoed throughout the silence, and it was all that could be heard. The glass vibrated in the windows, and tables shook. Dran looked down to his toes and shook, as if something had grabbed him and he was shaking it off. Jarene felt a pain in her chest, and felt like the flesh would crawl right off. The doctor became awry, and looked as though he might faint. Jarene stumbled over to him, her vision being taken up by the sound. It was hard to walk straight, or see straight, or hear. It hurt her head and tender flesh. An arm came up to support the doctor, and she held him up straight. The pain was becoming unbearable, and she felt the urge to fall unconscious. Jarene persisted, held the doctor up, dealt with the ringing in her ears. Then, it all stopped. The world stopped its motion and froze in place. The ringing still persisted, but it wasn't nearly as painful.

“….doctor…….stand up…..” Jarene managed to stutter out. Her voice was shaky, and her muscles were barely responsive.


He rubbed his hands on his head, and started shifting in his seat. “Jarene…. Ready the getaway…… Dran, we’re leaving….. Sear the edges…I'm going to get Kurie.” The doctor started mumbling.

Dran nodded away, grabbing his iron gauntles from his pocket. Jarene had trouble standing, fluid and exhaustion rushed through her limbs. “Doctor…. What was that?” She managed to spurt out. Her heart felt as though it would burst.

The good doctor sputtered blood onto the table from his mouth, and gasped a bit. He popped a capsule out of his bottle, and swallowed it. Amidst his breath, he managed to push out a few words. “Get us to the gate…. Now…..”
Gloom

         Akemi and Yuzuki had finally settled for a while into the house that Yuzuki had dragged them into. Akemi still wondered, but didn't ask about the house, since it was boarded up. They could stay here safely, at least for a while. By the time night fell, Yuzuki had finished the bottle of wine she had found in the cellar. She was still asleep during this thick, foggy morning. Akemi wandered about the chilly house, trying to find whatever she could to calm herslef down. Nothing helped, though. She decided to wait until Yuzuki woke up- whenever that would be. Akemi went back to the only un-boarded window and looked out. She couldn't see far, but she felt at ease when she looked out into the world. Well, what she could see of it. She was startled from her thoughts by a hand on her shoulder. She turned around to see Yuzuki, who didn't say anything. She just, smiled. They forced the old door open again and headed out into the city. The fog helped to hide them from the view of unwelcoming citizens. The only think Yuzuki was focused on was getting away from or stopping the Shibboleth. Akemi was focused on finding Itatchi, which was going to be impossible because of the heavy fog. They walked for what felt like hours.


"I'm tired," Yuzuki said, sitting down on the cobblestone road. Akemi knew that the girl had spent a lot of time in the cell, and understood that she may not have as much stamina as before. Akemi payed no attention to her new, clean dress and sat down on the cold, damp pavement as well, which made whatever dirt was on the street stick to the skirt of her dress.
======

         Fog was thick in the early morning. The vast grayness made it impossible to see more than 30 feet, and the smog from factories didn't help. None of them were running, but smoke still settled for the days before. It kept digging up poor memories of running from the diesel powered platform. Atarashi still hadn't figured out where it had gone, but he was thankful for the newly found sleep. The air was far too cold to get comfortable: It only acted to tingle his spine, adding to the uncomfortable feeling even more. The clock face hung dormant in the center of the city; holding a slight, mesmerizing purple glow. The ticking of the city had been replaced by the sound of feet on cobblestone. His shoes were terrible, and clunky . They were terribly annoying to go anywhere in, but he was just now noticing. He had to see Hatsumeika before the clock. No good news was waiting at either end he feared. He ran for a long while, thinking he was going in the correct direction. He was lost, however. The thick sheet of mist blocked any landmarks from view, except the luminous clock face. It glowed eerily in the sun, still slightly wet. The morning dew still settled on it.

         Eventually, Atarashi had to rest. His breath was fogging up, even in the thickness of the fog around him. He leaned up against a wall, and stared up at the sky:sunbeams slipped through the dull blanket. He was breathing heavily, there was a pulsing in his ears, and fresh sweat had formed on his face. It had been at least an hour of aimless wandering, and he felt no closer to anywhere. Atarashi pushed off the wall, slowing his breathing a bit. No direction seemed like the correct one, but he started walking off aimlessly down the street anyway. As the pulsing began to fade from his ears, it was too late. He turned to see the approaching footsteps. A huge figure was approaching. It was a good 3 feet taller than Atarashi, and dressed in a long black coat. Before Atarashi could react; The man swung his fists, and collided them with Atarashi's head. A metal clang echoed through the streets, and Atarashi collapsed. He felt himself being hoisted over the shoulder of the huge man, and slipped out of consciousness.

=======
"Wait, did you hear that?" Akemi asked, standing up and looking around the streets. It was the sound of metal against- something. Yuzuki didn't answer, but looked around with an expression that told Akemi she heard it, too.

======

"Is it really necessary to always bring us back a body Dran?" The doctor muttered from his carriage. Kurie was confined in a curtained section. She had given more than ample share of struggle climbing into a confined space.

His red accomplice continuously strode around the carriage, impatiently completing odd patterns. "It's his job and hobby. An immovable mountain will get bored when dormant." The large man had no taste for the compliment.

"I don't like being referred to like that..." The man's foreign accent still hung thick in his speech. It simply couldn’t be trained out of him. He didn’t show any signs of struggle under the weight of the man he was carrying.

"There's no space in the carriage, Dran, you'll have to carry... whoever he is." The good doctor spoke to him. Atarashi's face hung over Dran's back, so it could not be seen. The doctor coughed a couple times into his shirt, and straightened himself back up. "We need to be at the drop soon, our enemies will not wait."

“You could just ditch him. There aren't a wholesome many people to find him.” Jarene said.

The doctor shook his head. “Caution, Jarene. We aren't the only sane people in this city. Any trail we leave will be followed.”

          Akemi and Yuzuki had followed the sound of the noise and soon heard voices. Keeping low and silent, they followed the sounds until they could make out the shadow of a carriage. They silently crawled closer to hear what the people there were saying. It was hard to make it out without getting too close, though, but Akemi was sure she heard several different voices of men there. Without notice, Yuzuki suddenly sneezed, putting her hand up immediately to conceal the sound as well as she could. The men silenced and Akemi wondered if they had heard the sneeze.

         The sound, no matter how light, rimmed around Jarene's ear. As if it was inane reflex, she pulled her pistol from her coat, and fired a shot in the general direction of the noise. The barrel of the gun stayed pointed in the same direction. Dran laid the unconscious body of Atarashi against the wheel of the carriage. He cracked his fists, and moved toward the source.

"We already have one body Dran, please don’t slow us down anymore." The doctor was becoming impatient. Time was of the essence.

"The Red girl hears, I will follow." Dran stated, staying on her tails.

The doctor had to control himself from saying, "she's not the one who pays you..."

         Akemi looked on as the shadow of a mountain man came towards them. Unsure of how to react, Akemi took her half hammer half ax weapon out of her skirt and gripped it tightly in her fist, still startled from the previous gun shot.

"Hello?" Akemi shouted, her voice echoing throughout the streets as the man approached her.

Jarene cocked her head, and signaled for Dran to stand still. "A show of hands would be appreciated.”


Akemi and Yuzuki were shocked, but because the person before them hand the upper hand in weaponry- and outnumbered them- Akemi and Yuzuki Put there hands up, Akemi keeping her weapon hidden in the folds of her dress.

"Who are you?" Akemi said, wondering what these people were doing out here.

"Red, Big, and crazy. We also have a body if you'd like one. I could reflect the question, but I dont really care that much." Jarene said mockingly, cocking her head again for Dran to move within a certain distance. "Why don't you go stare at the clock, i hear it is rather popular today."

"Wh- Why would we go stare at a clock?" Akemi said rather quietly, "Wait, you, killed someone? You, have a, body?" Akemi put her hands down and gripped the handle of her rather unusual weapon.

"What are you doing here, anyway, that would be so important you need threaten citizens with guns and large men?" Yuzuki shouted, taking a step forward.

The good doctor stepped out of the vehicle. At first he rested his foot on Atarashi's head, but Kurie guided his foot to the ground instead. He leaned a vast majority of his weight on her, as he looked rather sickly. "Yes, we have a body, and I'd prefer no more slow us down. Before my aggressive friends give off the wrong intentions, I would like to extend some kind of standard greeting. You have no idea how rare it is to find sane people roaming this city." Dran tried to interject, by pointing out he had in fact, not killed the man, but the doctor kept his words going. "As far as to what we're doing here... I'll want you to answer first."

"Fair enough. What do you require we answer?" Akemi asked, stepping a little closer as to make it easier for her to hear what the man was saying. She didn't want to upset the people, because they were armed and Akemi didn't want them to use that against her.

"I say, the one with the body should be questioned first..." Yuzuki muttered.


"Unless you'd like to become a body, shut your mouth." Jarene focused the barrel directly onto Yuzuki.

"Aggression, it will be the death of us all Jarene. Lower the barrel." The good doctor said. He willed Kurie forward, nearly tripping on her elaborate skirt more than once. Dran once again tried to interject the lack of death in their unconscious body, but was cut off again. "I want you to explain where you two have been. People come and go far too frequently from my eyes."

Akemi paused for a good moment. She hesitated, deciding how to answer the question. "Multiple places of unimportance... and most likely of no use to you," Akemi said, "Perhaps, you could be more specific?" Yuzuki stood there, muttering something to herself that couldn't be heard by anyone else.


The good doctor rubbed his chin. He looked over both girls, and smiled. "Specifics, okay then. You were staying at an inn nearly a day ago. There was a struggle in the mud, and you nearly drowned. The psychotic girl nearly killed your friend, and you disappeared. Now, where did you go, Akemi?"

Akemi was taken by complete surprise. A shiver went down her spine, and she realized this man might be more than she thought he was. "How, did you know that? How do you know my name? Are, you a spy?" Akemi stated this question with a hint of aggression in her voice.


"A spy? no. I am just a doctor. A doctor on his way to cure a disease far more severe than any one person can contract." He used Kurie as a cane to stand up straight. She stood like monolith. "I guess the shadow games are over at this point. I will keep my question, ma'am. Where were you?"

Akemi was still shocked, and took another moment to answer. "I, went-" Yuzuki grabbed Akemi's arm and mouthed the word "Please." Akemi turned her attention back to the doctor, "I... found a place to stay for a while." Akemi lied, trying to keep Yuzuki a secret.



"You did that quite some time ago. You yourself don't seem to like specifics at all. I'm not sure what you know about the city you've entered, but... Jarene! Drop the barrel of the gun to your toes, put it away, i don't care. Just stop pointing it at them!" The sudden outburst took Jarene back a bit, and she lowered the gun obediently. The doctor coughed violently, and cleared his throat. "There is no easy way to leave this city. Once lock down was broken, the walls were sealed. Now, I will call of my companions, and you may run, or leave us dead in the street. But you will not leave this city without my help."


Akemi looked down. She had never heard of the lock down on the city. She loosened the grip on her weapon and calmed down. "Why, do the walls have to be sealed?"


The good doctor straightened his happy face, into one more stern. "To keep her in." The Doctor gestured to Kurie. "And you, and Itachi, and so many others. A beacon was sent out, and you all clamored right to it. There's only one way out now."


Akemi was a little less surprised now that the doctor knew Itatchi's name as well. "You say, you can help us get out? How can we trust you if your, companions, keep threatening us with their weapons?" Akemi said rather sharply.


The good doctor looked to his companions, and waved his free hand in a violent motion. Dran grabbed his belt, and pulled his hands out of his metal gauntlets. Jarene, however, did not holster her pistol. She just kept the barrel pointed at the ground. "Your level of trust with me is not my conern. How can i trust her girl who won't loosen her grip on that little hook she has?" Jarene tightened her grip on her gun, but became visibly more heated in her face. She started breathing more heavily.


"Okay," Akemi began tucking the weapon back into the ribbon underneath her skirt and stood up, showing both of her hands. "See, it's put away. I won't attack if you don't."


"So you did; Jarene...." The good doctor turned his attention to his companion. Her grip on her gun was nearly completely missing. Her face was pale, her legs were wavering, and her eyes were looking to the ground. Her breaths were very heavy, and it was obvious she was losing strength. The doctor rushed over to her, limping slightly without Kurie as a brace. He caught her as she started to fall, and started mumbling strange phrases to her; very few of which could be made out. "....up face, up face, now down. Breath, drink, swallow..... " Kurie kept her eyes locked onto Akemi and Yuzuki.


Akemi looked anxiously at Jarene. "What is happening to her? Is she okay?" Akemi asked, shocked at this strange behavior. Yuzuki stood by, tilting her head to one side and gazing awkwardly at the scene.


The good doctor poured a thick liquid into Jarene's mouth, and tilted her head back. In between drinks, Jarene would breath heavily. She struggled to speak many words. "...D...doctor.... it's loud....."


Akemi hurried over as quickly as she could to see if there was anything she could do to help. Trying to make sense of this, she said, "Is she okay? What is this?" Yuzuki stayed in place, tilting her head to one side the same way she was before. She slowly made her way to Yuzuki's side, not taking her eyes off of Jarene once, not even to blink.


The good doctor gestured Dran over to the pair, and pushed Jarene into his arms. "It's the clock. We've been found. We need to leave. Now. Follow us closely if you'd like to avoid being run over by diesel machinery." The doctor reset himself onto Kurie's shoulder, whom stayed locked onto Akemi and Yuzuki.


Akemi looked towards the doctor, then Jarene, and Kurie. She couldn't help but notice Kurie staring at her. This made her feel uneasy, and she wondered about the girl. "Alright, we'll follow you. How far is it to the exit of the city?" Akemi said, shaking the feeling away.


The doctor laughed as he started limping with haste. "You didn't listen did you? i told you, there is no exit."


"But, without an exit, how will we get out of the city? What do you plan to do?" Akemi asked, shocked. Yuzuki stopped gazing towards Jarene and turned her attention to Kurie's glare.


"A bit of luck, a bit of science, and a whole lot of help. Follow close." The doctor pulled Kurie's eyes away from the two, and had her focus on walking. He started turning down a street toward the clock's pendulum in the center of town.


Akemi and Yuzuki exchanged glances, but followed the good doctor towards the clock. They wondered how a clock could have such a big role in this, but they decided to stick with the doctor and his comrades, at least until they got out of the city.


The good doctor remained between Kurie, and Dran carrying the spastic body of Jarene. They turned multiple times down winding roads, some in better conditions than others. No people were seen on any of the streets, and each one was quieter than the last. The clock would ding quietly, barely noticeable. Its surface slightly illuminated, it was oddly alluring to the eyes. As the party started getting closer to the clock, a silent mob of people were seen blocking the streets. It blocked any further progress to the clock.


Akemi and Yuzuki stopped behind the good doctor. "What's going on? Why is everybody crowded around the clock?" Akemi asked.

"They look, so, mesmerized..." Yuzuki said, staring at the clock's slightly illuminated face, her expression changing to a relaxed sort of look. After a moment, she turned her attention back towards the mob of people around the clock.


The doctor stared at the crowd of people, looking for weak points or cracks. He ruffled his hair, and rubbed his ears. "Do you all hear it?" He started repeating. "That noise, Do you hear it?"


Akemi looked with a concerned expression towards the doctor. "What... noise?" Akemi asked, a little surprised.

"I don't hear anything," Yuzuki said, standing on her tip toes to see over the crowd of people.


"Then... they haven’t found you. They haven't.... i can't walk anymore....It's been ringing in my ears ever since i left.... find a crack in this crowd, get to the middle." The doctor took Jarene to the ground with him, and muttered to her. He coughed once or twice, and just sat there.


"Wait, if we leave you here, will...they... kill you?" Akemi asked, genuinely concerned for the man who was helping her. Yuzuki was holding onto Akemi's sleeve, tugging on it nervously. Akemi shook her hand away and concentrated on the doctor and Jarene.


"They will go through me first." Dran clanked his metal fists together, and stood between the mob and the Doctor.

"Find them in the center.... Don't miss..." The doctor managed to spit out. He and Jarene were being tortured from the inside. "Kurie, follow them."


Akemi looked in shock at the awful scene in front of her, but turned her attention away. She looked at Yuzuki, who gave her a reassuring nod, and they began looking for a way into the mass of mesmerised citizens gathered around the clock. Akemi looked hard and carefully for a way into the crowd, but to no avail. She continued looking harder, with Yuzuki close beside her; looking back every now and then at the silent girl following them. She was still confused, though. Who were 'they', and who was she supposed to look for?


Kurie walked up close to the two girls, and stood behind them closely. The people do not part for the group, and only offer ghastly stares when they come too close. "They aren't going to split for us." It was the first thing she had said today. "We have to find our own way through."


Akemi spun around to see where the voice had come from, a little taken back to find that it was the girl who hadn't spoken once this whole time. She looked back towards the crowd, and then back to her. "Indeed," was all she said as she turned towards the crowd, thinking about how they were to find a way through... or if they even could.


Kurie assembled both haves of her makeshift spear. It wasn't the one she originally came into the city with, but it would do. "I hope you don't mind blood..." She didn't wait for an answer, and stabbed the point in the back of the neck of one of the outermost denizens of the amassing.


Akemi didn't answer. She was used to blood, but it didn't matter anyway. The only thing she was concerned about was the killing. "You... can't just, kill them! They..." Akemi stopped, unsure of what to say.

"Well, it's working," Yuzuki said, not giving Akemi enough time to recollect herself and finish her sentence.


"We tried to get through, and they didn't move. I don't care for their lives. If you want to defend them, come stop me." Kurie did not change the tone in her voice, and continued cutting through the hoard. None of the surrounding people turned a curious eye, or even spoke. Most of the people to the sides of the column she was cutting were soaked in red, but they didn't move.


Akemi opened her mouth to speak, but, thought better of it. The other people didn't seem to even care, anyways... no, they didn't seem to even notice. Akemi and Yuzuki followed Kurie as they made their way, bloodily, through the crowd of strange citizens. It was strange that none of them turned an eye towards the three, which made Akemi feel slightly unsettled. It was as if they were blind... deaf... soul-less... Akemi didn't know, or maybe she didn't want to know. She stopped thinking of it and looked towards the attacking Kurie in front of her as they made their way into the depths of the crowd.


They were about halfway into the crowd now. People started filling the gaps they had made behind them. Dran, and the other two fell out of sight, and were replaced by the longing stares of people. All gazing at the clock. Above the noise of the screamless deaths that were occurring, a foot started tapping. It became gradually louder, as if multiple people were stomping their feet ahead. Kurie kept cutting forward, not particularly caring if the two girls were on her tail or not. As they got closer, somebody above the crowd started to come into view. He was wearing a tan robe, with brown stripes patterned oddly all over it. He was surrounded by multiple of his compatriots, all dressed similarly, but the man in the center was wearing a squared off hood. A deafening loud sound came from the violet tinted clock face, and all sound stopped. Even the squishing of the spear into people's organs could not be heard. All that could be heard in the all encompassing silence, was the man's voice. "People of Bristol, ambassadors of embassies, and nobles of this... country. You are all here today, because you have done wrong. Do you consent?" The people around Kurie gave out a synchronized yes.

Akemi almost stopped following Kurie through the crowd, but had to keep up with the movement. She was listening to what the man said. What was he going to do? "Who is that?" Akemi asked, motioning towards the man dressed in a strange, tan robe.

The man paused for a few moments, and another official looking man came to the stage. His robe was red, and his marked face could be seen. "You are all wrongdoers, and you have all admitted it. You may all bow in regret." The crowd all got onto their knees and looked to the floor, revealing in full view: Kurie, Akemi, and Yuzuki. The man closed his eyes again, and raised his hands. "For your wrongdoings, Minerva has decided, you must all burn." All the men left the stage, and the people in the back of the crowd formed a wall of sorts. Kurie stopped stabbing her way through, and looked back to her traveling companions. The smell of oil filled the air, and Kurie looked up. A sheet of black was falling onto the crowd. Above it, a bright flame, contrasting against the gray fog.
Escape Plan

         There was a brief moment of panic, a brief moment of running, and a long moment of brightness. Nobody moved to avoid it, as the black blanket ignited above the crowd, and fell onto them. There was no chance to run. Even if there was, navigating a crowd of people would've been impossible in time. The world just became very bright, and then it became very hot. Fire engulfed everything around the clock.

         Kurie's eyes widened, and she started to try and dart away from the blanket of heat. She stumbled over the many fallen people, but ended up tripping on many of them. She dropped her spear into the crowd, as fire fell on the group. Instictively, Kurie raised her arms to block at least some of it. Whilst she was blinded by the light, heat, and her arms, something fell onto her that was not fire. It was a literal blanket of sorts, and it was heavy. Something grabbed her from both sides and started dragging her away. The people around her were not so fortunate, and the civilians all started burning. It was only then they got to wake from their trance, but it was too late.

          Akemi stood there, wide eyed, surprised, shocked, and scared. She didn't know why this was happening. What could these people have done so wrongly? And who were the people who were doing this? She turned her head away from the screaming citizens before her, and tried not to listen. Yuzuki didn't seem to respond. She never seemed to have much of a reaction to anything. She just stood there, watching them. Akemi looked back up, looking for Kurie, wondering if she was okay, but found no sign of her. The ruthless flames devoured the bodies around them.

"What's happening?" Yuzuki asked, watching the tortuous scene displayed on the streets.

"What? They are burning to death, Yuzuki! Dying!" Akemi shouted. Yuzuki stared blankly.

"Dying? Why?" She asked. Akemi looked at her, but didn't answer. She grabbed Yuzuki's arm and dragged her with her, trying to find a way out of the flames. After several failed attempts to find a way out of the fire, the flames seemed to be spilling onto the streets in front of them even worse than before as oil spread and ignited. Akemi let go of Yuzuki and put her hands on her head, looking down, trying to ignore the awful scene. Yuzuki followed her, but seemed much less bothered by this than Akemi was. They made their way towards the closs, looking at its illuminated face. Akemi noticed something written on the clock. Don't miss. That's what the doctor had told her before he fell to the ground. Akemi pondered the words in her head for several minutes, looking around for an answer.


         Flames danced around everywhere. Few people were left screaming from their burns. It started spreading to adjacent buildings, and streets. The fire crawled like a slow snake, slowly engulfing the area. the small circle of life in the middle of the crowd, was slowly becoming less and less a happy place to be. The heat was getting progressively hotter. A shadowy figure started approaching, barely seeable through the bright flickers of flame. It was abnormally large, and held an oppressive intimidation. The huge man started coming into view, parting the wall of fire as the bodies shifted aside. The long black coat made it unmistakable, it was Dran. Jarene was grasping onto his back, with her arms wrapped necks. He words a blackened mask alikenable to a primitive gas mask. His entire coat was enflamed, and he was gesturing to Akemi and Yuzuki to follow him. The loud flames and screams made it impossible to tell any words.


         Akemi looked around the flames, noticing the tall figure of Dran, and the much smaller figure of Jarene. Akemi grabbed Yuzuki's arm and dragged her up off of the ground, motioning towards Dran. They slowly made their way to them, nearly being burnt by rolling flames. The sound of the flames made it impossible for Akemi to speak to Yuzuki, Dran or Jarene. She and Yuzuki approached them, unsure of where they would be going as the flames leapt from object to object.


         The people around the outside of the group had melted together, still slightly standing. Getting through them would be impossible without suffering majot burns. Dran looked in all ways, and turned left. He went toward a building, pushing the burning people out of the way. They were too far gone to save anyway. Dran made his way to the door, and tried pushing on it. It didn't budge, and the walls around were ablaze. A stray crossbeam had probably fallen and blocked the door. Dran turned, and pulled the hyperventilating Jarene off his back. He pushed herinto Akemi's arms, and turned toward the door. He started punching it repeatedly, as its wood slowly gave way. Muffled yells came from Dran as he swung. Eventually, the door gave way, and whatever was blocking the door did as well. A large portion of the building simply collapsed, spewing embers out into the faces of the group. After Dran recovered, he took Jarene back, and pushed his way through the narrow openingin the building. It was even hotter in here, but they had to move through.


         Akemi followed closely behind the massive Dran. He looked as if he had no trouble supporting Jarene as they made their way into the house. Flames swallowed the walls around them, and crept across the floor and ceiling in various places. The house seemed like it would cave in on them at any moment. The intense heat was a minor inconvience compared to the quickly spreading flames. Akemi wasn't sure where they were heading, but it didn't look good so far. Yuzuki clung to Akemi's arm, resting a large amount of her weight against her. The worn out shoes she wore couldn't have helped against the hot floor, and the heavy armor she had recently acquired tired her out, as well. They kept going, though Akemi didn't know where they could possibly go in this place.


         Dran pushed forward to the back of the building, and pushed the door in the back open forecefully. It held fast the first push, but the weakened hinges didnt offer much in the terms of resistance. The doorframe cracked above the door, forcing Dran to get underneath and hold it up. He gestured for Akemi and Yuzuki to go through, and dropped it. The building did not hold much structural integrity after they left, and the whole thing nearly collapsed entirely. It opened onto a relatively empty street. The crowd of burning people was to the left, and more burning buildings could be seen across the street. Black smoke covered the street, and rose above the city. It smelled of burning flesh and used oil; enough to make nearly anyone wretch. Dran pushed through the thick smoke, and tried to make his way to more clean air. His jacket still glowed with flames.


         Akemi chocked in the thick, smoky air. It burned her lungs, making them feel constricted. Yuzuki didn't appear to be bothered by it. She was now walking a couple feet in front of Akemi, looking around the city at the burning buildings and smoke. The air seemed to get a bit clearer the farther away they got from the flames, but it chased after them relentlessly. Akemi barely had a sense of direction in the town. Her eyes were clouded. All she could see was Dran, Jarene and Yuzuki in front of her. She blinked her eyes a few times to try to rid them of the burning sensation, but it only seemed to make them worse. She forced them opened, bearing through it as they came to an intersection in the streets. Akemi wanted to say something, but held back, hoping that Dran knew where they were going, and she certainly didn't want to get on his bad side.


         Dran started stumbling, and threw Jarene off his back. She hit the ground somewhat violently, but not enough to injure you. The quieter streets here allowed for them to hear most noises. Dran started screaming incredibly loud, and smacking at the flames on his coat. The noise was bad enough to make hairs stand on end. He started desperately thrashing and smacking in all directions. He ripped his primitive mask off, and started clawing at his burning coat. His face was completely red from the heat, and he was obviously in extreme pain. Jarene was rolling around on the ground gasping; she could barely breathe.


"Take the coat off!" Akemi shouted, trying to rip the burning coat off of Dran, but his flailing body made it impossible. She burnt herself a couple of times before she got a good grip on the coat. She began trying to pull it off of his body, having quite a hard time against his massive size. Yuzuki was on the ground with Jarene, trying to help her, but she was completely flustered and unsure of what to do. The look on her face showed that she was shocked, and scared by Dran's yells.


         Dran could not hear the advice, and just kept thrashing at himself. He nearly hit Akemi multiple times as she tried to help. Jarene kept sputtering, her face was pale. She barely kept a pulse. After more thrashing, Dran managed to put most of the flames on his body, and get most of them onto his hands. He tore his gloves off, and rushed to a drain gutter to stop the remainder. He dipped his hands deep into the small crack on the side of the street, and just laid there. He kept breathing, but it was obvious he was in bad shape. Jarene still struggled to breathe, and kept desperately rasing her arms, looking for something to hold.


         Akemi's attention turned from Dran to Jarene. She quickly stooped down beside Jarene, trying to figure out what was wrong with her. Eventually, she stood up and grabbed Jarene's hand, trying to help her upright. She tried to get her to breathe steadily, and realized the smoke might have been irritating her. By this time, Akemi's eyes had cleared up and she could see Jarene's rapid movements better, which made it easier for her to try to help Jarene.

"What's wrong with her?" She shouted towards the general direction of Dran. She continued trying to help Jarene breathe and sit upright, but it didn't appear to be helping.


         ran slowly raised his arms out of the sewer drain. His jacket had a few holes here and there, but the leather held up surprisingly well. He raised himself up, and his tall figure shrowded over the three on the ground, and he walked over to them. He grunted painfully, and started shifting in his charred clothing. Jarene grabbed onto Yuzuki's arm, and started pulling herself up. She couldn't do it though, and rolled over onto her side.

"Her heart... it beats poorly.... We need to get her out of the smoke." Dran said in his accented, rough voice.


         Akemi looked at Jarene, then Dran, and then around at the city.

"Where is there to go? The whole city could soon be engulfed in flames," Akemi asked, turning her attention towards Dran.


"Robed men, take Mad woman, take Doctor. They ran toward the south wall. If there's any way out, that must be it.


         Akemi looked in each direction, unsure of which direction was which. She had lost her direction in the previous haze, but stood up and faced Dran, his body towering over hers greatly.

"Let's go, then," She said, waiting for everybody to regroup so that they could head towards the south wall. She did what she could to help Jarene as she still writhed on the ground.


Dran grunted, and grabbed up Jarene. He put her arms around his neck, and started walking. This way... i think."


         Akemi was a little unsettled by Dran's statement, but she was sure he knew better than her. They began walking, Akemi walking a little slower than the rest of the group. She stayed a little ways behind on purpose, looking for Itatchi, wondering if he had possibly survived the flames. She hadn't seen him for days, and wasn't sure if she would see him again. She shook the hought away as she kept an eye out for him, making sure not to drag to far behind the group. She slowly caught back up to the group and kept silent for a moment before she spoke.

"How far do you suppose we are from the south wall?" Akemi asked, staying behind Dran.


"It's... that way. It could be close, or far. I can't see that far." He said, as the fog and smoke still blocked his sight. Dran shifted the weight of Jarene, and shook his shoulders. He whispered something very quietly to her, and turned ahead.

         After they had passed beyond the range of the fire's all encompassing noise, it was quiet. The streets looked as though they had been abandoned in a hurry, and many things looked unfinished, half opened, or untouched. It have a Dran a visibly uneasy feeling as he walked. the top of the wall ahead started to come into view. A few buildings still prevented much sight of it, or direct access. It was still quite a ways off.

"You look worried, girl. What is it that has you shaken? Besides the er, fire." Dran inquired awkwardly.


Akemi thought a moment before answering. "Oh, uh, just... there is someone that I lost contact with a while ago. I wonder if he's still alive after all of this," Akemi answered, trying not to drag the topic on too long. She noticed that the top of the wall was a little visible now.


Dran laughed a bit to himself, "And was that the killer, the psycho, the thief, or the priest?" He asked, and bit his tongue. "Not that it's my business, the doctor never used names around me."


         Akemi wondered about this for a moment. She wasn't sure how to answer, because she thought none of this about Itatchi, and wasn't sure who the priest was.

"What do you mean? I wouldn't call him by any of these titles, so, uh... I don't know quite how to answer that," Akemi paused for a minute, "And we don't have a priest." She finished with an awkward chuckle, and kept her attention focused on the wall ahead.


Dran sighed, and tightened his grip on Jarene. Her breathing was much more steady. "Well, I don't know much about them either, I'll say. But... if the doctor was right, the priest just burned the entire population in the square..." He looked back to the brightness around the clock, it wasn't quite as luminously violet as before, and rather just glowed orange with death. Dran cleared his throat, "But hey, we just survived... more or less. I'd prefer not to drone on about who didn't."


"Yes, I agree," Akemi said, trying to shake the awkward tension away, "It's just, he was my friend, so..." Akemi stopped talking and bit her lip, staring at the ground as they walked.


Dran looked on solemnly, and nodded. "I've lost quite a few people, little girly... but if he's any smart, i doubt he wandered into that mob. We're a special case after all." Dran tried to joke, but humor was not fortee. "Erm, anyway... sorry for us holding you at gunpoint earlier." Dran said, hoping to put out bad spots in their relation. He couldn't take care of Jarene by himself, and he needed the two girls. No matter how... small they seemed.


Akemi looked towards Dran, and then quickly back towards the wall. "It's okay. Not the first time I've been held at gunpoint. Everything's good now, anyway, so don't worry about it," Akemi answered, nodding. Yuzuki had managed to stay silent during the entire conversation, without any intentions of speaking.


Dran laughed, "I'm not sure i should be comforted by that. Why are you running around this prison of a city? Don't you have family to be with..." Dran covered his mouth. "Sorry, I don't want to prod." Jarene groaned on his back, and her eyes fluttered to what could be considered a normal position. Though, she still seemed to have no intention of waking fully.


Akemi looked down for a moment and closed her eyes. Then she looked back up, "No..." She said before continuing, "Is she okay?" She asked, motioning to Jarene, not really wanting to explain the death of her family.


"Who? Red here? I should think so. She's survived worse than a clock and some smoke. I swear she's lost an arm before... Could've just been a bad cut. I've seen the girl shrug off more bullets than me is the point." Dran said, trying to keep the mood light with a story.


"Really? I would have never thought of her like that..." Akemi paused for a moment,"Red?" She inquired, looking towards Dran.


Dran looked at her confused; confused for a moment. "Oh, the name Red... Well, she wears red... and she changes her actual name so often, I just take to calling her that... If i recall correctly, your name is Akemi?" Dran questioned, raising one eyebrow as they went around a church like structure. It was abandoned just as anything else, but it acted as a marker. They were getting closer to the wall.
Chapter name

         There was a brief moment of panic, a brief moment of running, and a long moment of brightness. Nobody moved to avoid it, as the black blanket ignited above the crowd, and fell onto them. There was no chance to run. Even if there was, navigating a crowd of people would've been impossible in time. The world just became very bright, and then it became very hot. Fire engulfed everything around the clock.

         Kurie's eyes widened, and she started to try and dart away from the blanket of heat. She stumbled over the many fallen people, but ended up tripping on many of them. She dropped her spear into the crowd, as fire fell on the group. Instictively, Kurie raised her arms to block at least some of it. Whilst she was blinded by the light, heat, and her arms, something fell onto her that was not fire. It was a literal blanket of sorts, and it was heavy. Something grabbed her from both sides and started dragging her away. The people around her were not so fortunate, and the civilians all started burning. It was only then they got to wake from their trance, but it was too late.

          Akemi stood there, wide eyed, surprised, shocked, and scared. She didn't know why this was happening. What could these people have done so wrongly? And who were the people who were doing this? She turned her head away from the screaming citizens before her, and tried not to listen. Yuzuki didn't seem to respond. She never seemed to have much of a reaction to anything. She just stood there, watching them. Akemi looked back up, looking for Kurie, wondering if she was okay, but found no sign of her. The ruthless flames devoured the bodies around them.

"What's happening?" Yuzuki asked, watching the tortuous scene displayed on the streets.

"What? They are burning to death, Yuzuki! Dying!" Akemi shouted. Yuzuki stared blankly.

"Dying? Why?" She asked. Akemi looked at her, but didn't answer. She grabbed Yuzuki's arm and dragged her with her, trying to find a way out of the flames. After several failed attempts to find a way out of the fire, the flames seemed to be spilling onto the streets in front of them even worse than before as oil spread and ignited. Akemi let go of Yuzuki and put her hands on her head, looking down, trying to ignore the awful scene. Yuzuki followed her, but seemed much less bothered by this than Akemi was. They made their way towards the closs, looking at its illuminated face. Akemi noticed something written on the clock. Don't miss. That's what the doctor had told her before he fell to the ground. Akemi pondered the words in her head for several minutes, looking around for an answer.


         Flames danced around everywhere. Few people were left screaming from their burns. It started spreading to adjacent buildings, and streets. The fire crawled like a slow snake, slowly engulfing the area. the small circle of life in the middle of the crowd, was slowly becoming less and less a happy place to be. The heat was getting progressively hotter. A shadowy figure started approaching, barely seeable through the bright flickers of flame. It was abnormally large, and held an oppressive intimidation. The huge man started coming into view, parting the wall of fire as the bodies shifted aside. The long black coat made it unmistakable, it was Dran. Jarene was grasping onto his back, with her arms wrapped necks. He words a blackened mask alikenable to a primitive gas mask. His entire coat was enflamed, and he was gesturing to Akemi and Yuzuki to follow him. The loud flames and screams made it impossible to tell any words.


         Akemi looked around the flames, noticing the tall figure of Dran, and the much smaller figure of Jarene. Akemi grabbed Yuzuki's arm and dragged her up off of the ground, motioning towards Dran. They slowly made their way to them, nearly being burnt by rolling flames. The sound of the flames made it impossible for Akemi to speak to Yuzuki, Dran or Jarene. She and Yuzuki approached them, unsure of where they would be going as the flames leapt from object to object.


         The people around the outside of the group had melted together, still slightly standing. Getting through them would be impossible without suffering majot burns. Dran looked in all ways, and turned left. He went toward a building, pushing the burning people out of the way. They were too far gone to save anyway. Dran made his way to the door, and tried pushing on it. It didn't budge, and the walls around were ablaze. A stray crossbeam had probably fallen and blocked the door. Dran turned, and pulled the hyperventilating Jarene off his back. He pushed herinto Akemi's arms, and turned toward the door. He started punching it repeatedly, as its wood slowly gave way. Muffled yells came from Dran as he swung. Eventually, the door gave way, and whatever was blocking the door did as well. A large portion of the building simply collapsed, spewing embers out into the faces of the group. After Dran recovered, he took Jarene back, and pushed his way through the narrow openingin the building. It was even hotter in here, but they had to move through.


         Akemi followed closely behind the massive Dran. He looked as if he had no trouble supporting Jarene as they made their way into the house. Flames swallowed the walls around them, and crept across the floor and ceiling in various places. The house seemed like it would cave in on them at any moment. The intense heat was a minor inconvience compared to the quickly spreading flames. Akemi wasn't sure where they were heading, but it didn't look good so far. Yuzuki clung to Akemi's arm, resting a large amount of her weight against her. The worn out shoes she wore couldn't have helped against the hot floor, and the heavy armor she had recently acquired tired her out, as well. They kept going, though Akemi didn't know where they could possibly go in this place.


         Dran pushed forward to the back of the building, and pushed the door in the back open forecefully. It held fast the first push, but the weakened hinges didnt offer much in the terms of resistance. The doorframe cracked above the door, forcing Dran to get underneath and hold it up. He gestured for Akemi and Yuzuki to go through, and dropped it. The building did not hold much structural integrity after they left, and the whole thing nearly collapsed entirely. It opened onto a relatively empty street. The crowd of burning people was to the left, and more burning buildings could be seen across the street. Black smoke covered the street, and rose above the city. It smelled of burning flesh and used oil; enough to make nearly anyone wretch. Dran pushed through the thick smoke, and tried to make his way to more clean air. His jacket still glowed with flames.


         Akemi chocked in the thick, smoky air. It burned her lungs, making them feel constricted. Yuzuki didn't appear to be bothered by it. She was now walking a couple feet in front of Akemi, looking around the city at the burning buildings and smoke. The air seemed to get a bit clearer the farther away they got from the flames, but it chased after them relentlessly. Akemi barely had a sense of direction in the town. Her eyes were clouded. All she could see was Dran, Jarene and Yuzuki in front of her. She blinked her eyes a few times to try to rid them of the burning sensation, but it only seemed to make them worse. She forced them opened, bearing through it as they came to an intersection in the streets. Akemi wanted to say something, but held back, hoping that Dran knew where they were going, and she certainly didn't want to get on his bad side.


         Dran started stumbling, and threw Jarene off his back. She hit the ground somewhat violently, but not enough to injure you. The quieter streets here allowed for them to hear most noises. Dran started screaming incredibly loud, and smacking at the flames on his coat. The noise was bad enough to make hairs stand on end. He started desperately thrashing and smacking in all directions. He ripped his primitive mask off, and started clawing at his burning coat. His face was completely red from the heat, and he was obviously in extreme pain. Jarene was rolling around on the ground gasping; she could barely breathe.


"Take the coat off!" Akemi shouted, trying to rip the burning coat off of Dran, but his flailing body made it impossible. She burnt herself a couple of times before she got a good grip on the coat. She began trying to pull it off of his body, having quite a hard time against his massive size. Yuzuki was on the ground with Jarene, trying to help her, but she was completely flustered and unsure of what to do. The look on her face showed that she was shocked, and scared by Dran's yells.


         Dran could not hear the advice, and just kept thrashing at himself. He nearly hit Akemi multiple times as she tried to help. Jarene kept sputtering, her face was pale. She barely kept a pulse. After more thrashing, Dran managed to put most of the flames on his body, and get most of them onto his hands. He tore his gloves off, and rushed to a drain gutter to stop the remainder. He dipped his hands deep into the small crack on the side of the street, and just laid there. He kept breathing, but it was obvious he was in bad shape. Jarene still struggled to breathe, and kept desperately rasing her arms, looking for something to hold.


         Akemi's attention turned from Dran to Jarene. She quickly stooped down beside Jarene, trying to figure out what was wrong with her. Eventually, she stood up and grabbed Jarene's hand, trying to help her upright. She tried to get her to breathe steadily, and realized the smoke might have been irritating her. By this time, Akemi's eyes had cleared up and she could see Jarene's rapid movements better, which made it easier for her to try to help Jarene.

"What's wrong with her?" She shouted towards the general direction of Dran. She continued trying to help Jarene breathe and sit upright, but it didn't appear to be helping.


         ran slowly raised his arms out of the sewer drain. His jacket had a few holes here and there, but the leather held up surprisingly well. He raised himself up, and his tall figure shrowded over the three on the ground, and he walked over to them. He grunted painfully, and started shifting in his charred clothing. Jarene grabbed onto Yuzuki's arm, and started pulling herself up. She couldn't do it though, and rolled over onto her side.

"Her heart... it beats poorly.... We need to get her out of the smoke." Dran said in his accented, rough voice.


         Akemi looked at Jarene, then Dran, and then around at the city.

"Where is there to go? The whole city could soon be engulfed in flames," Akemi asked, turning her attention towards Dran.


"Robed men, take Mad woman, take Doctor. They ran toward the south wall. If there's any way out, that must be it.


         Akemi looked in each direction, unsure of which direction was which. She had lost her direction in the previous haze, but stood up and faced Dran, his body towering over hers greatly.

"Let's go, then," She said, waiting for everybody to regroup so that they could head towards the south wall. She did what she could to help Jarene as she still writhed on the ground.


Dran grunted, and grabbed up Jarene. He put her arms around his neck, and started walking. This way... i think."


         Akemi was a little unsettled by Dran's statement, but she was sure he knew better than her. They began walking, Akemi walking a little slower than the rest of the group. She stayed a little ways behind on purpose, looking for Itatchi, wondering if he had possibly survived the flames. She hadn't seen him for days, and wasn't sure if she would see him again. She shook the hought away as she kept an eye out for him, making sure not to drag to far behind the group. She slowly caught back up to the group and kept silent for a moment before she spoke.

"How far do you suppose we are from the south wall?" Akemi asked, staying behind Dran.


"It's... that way. It could be close, or far. I can't see that far." He said, as the fog and smoke still blocked his sight. Dran shifted the weight of Jarene, and shook his shoulders. He whispered something very quietly to her, and turned ahead.

         After they had passed beyond the range of the fire's all encompassing noise, it was quiet. The streets looked as though they had been abandoned in a hurry, and many things looked unfinished, half opened, or untouched. It have a Dran a visibly uneasy feeling as he walked. the top of the wall ahead started to come into view. A few buildings still prevented much sight of it, or direct access. It was still quite a ways off.

"You look worried, girl. What is it that has you shaken? Besides the er, fire." Dran inquired awkwardly.


Akemi thought a moment before answering. "Oh, uh, just... there is someone that I lost contact with a while ago. I wonder if he's still alive after all of this," Akemi answered, trying not to drag the topic on too long. She noticed that the top of the wall was a little visible now.


Dran laughed a bit to himself, "And was that the killer, the psycho, the thief, or the priest?" He asked, and bit his tongue. "Not that it's my business, the doctor never used names around me."


         Akemi wondered about this for a moment. She wasn't sure how to answer, because she thought none of this about Itatchi, and wasn't sure who the priest was.

"What do you mean? I wouldn't call him by any of these titles, so, uh... I don't know quite how to answer that," Akemi paused for a minute, "And we don't have a priest." She finished with an awkward chuckle, and kept her attention focused on the wall ahead.


Dran sighed, and tightened his grip on Jarene. Her breathing was much more steady. "Well, I don't know much about them either, I'll say. But... if the doctor was right, the priest just burned the entire population in the square..." He looked back to the brightness around the clock, it wasn't quite as luminously violet as before, and rather just glowed orange with death. Dran cleared his throat, "But hey, we just survived... more or less. I'd prefer not to drone on about who didn't."


"Yes, I agree," Akemi said, trying to shake the awkward tension away, "It's just, he was my friend, so..." Akemi stopped talking and bit her lip, staring at the ground as they walked.


Dran looked on solemnly, and nodded. "I've lost quite a few people, little girly... but if he's any smart, i doubt he wandered into that mob. We're a special case after all." Dran tried to joke, but humor was not fortee. "Erm, anyway... sorry for us holding you at gunpoint earlier." Dran said, hoping to put out bad spots in their relation. He couldn't take care of Jarene by himself, and he needed the two girls. No matter how... small they seemed.


Akemi looked towards Dran, and then quickly back towards the wall. "It's okay. Not the first time I've been held at gunpoint. Everything's good now, anyway, so don't worry about it," Akemi answered, nodding. Yuzuki had managed to stay silent during the entire conversation, without any intentions of speaking.


Dran laughed, "I'm not sure i should be comforted by that. Why are you running around this prison of a city? Don't you have family to be with..." Dran covered his mouth. "Sorry, I don't want to prod." Jarene groaned on his back, and her eyes fluttered to what could be considered a normal position. Though, she still seemed to have no intention of waking fully.


Akemi looked down for a moment and closed her eyes. Then she looked back up, "No..." She said before continuing, "Is she okay?" She asked, motioning to Jarene, not really wanting to explain the death of her family.


"Who? Red here? I should think so. She's survived worse than a clock and some smoke. I swear she's lost an arm before... Could've just been a bad cut. I've seen the girl shrug off more bullets than me is the point." Dran said, trying to keep the mood light with a story.


"Really? I would have never thought of her like that..." Akemi paused for a moment,"Red?" She inquired, looking towards Dran.


Dran looked at her confused; confused for a moment. "Oh, the name Red... Well, she wears red... and she changes her actual name so often, I just take to calling her that... If i recall correctly, your name is Akemi?" Dran questioned, raising one eyebrow as they went around a church like structure. It was abandoned just as anything else, but it acted as a marker. They were getting closer to the wall.


"Oh, uh, yes. It is Akemi. And yours is Dran, if I recall correctly?" Akemi said; glancing towards various places around them. Yuzuki seemed to be lagging behind, but quickly sprinted back up to the group.


Dran opened his mouth to answer, but Jarene started squirming on his back. She tried to loosen her grip on his neck, and slide down onto the ground. Dran tried to hold her on, but she seemed insistent on standing herself. She blinked tire out of her eyes, and observed her scenery. The black smoke still hung overhead with the fog, and it was still eerily silent. Her eyes locked onto Akemi, and then turned to Yuzuki. She looked them from head to toe, and turned back to Dran. "So did we win or lose, I can't tell."

Dran scratched his head, not quite understanding the question. "I'm not sure I.... win?"

"Are we on our way out, or have we failed miserably." Jarene confirmed, and got a little dizzy while following Dran. She regained her blanace, and color started returning to her skin.

"It may be a bit early to say. I'll say... you missed the bad part." Dran said, referring the fire from earlier.


"Dran, if we actually do get to the wall, who's to say there will be a way out?" Akemi asked slowly.

"What, if... if there are guards... or someone... waiting there?" Yuzuki asked, a hint of fright in her voice. She cowered behind Akemi, begnning to shake.


Dran eyed both of them for a moment, and thought it over. "If there are guards, we will kill them. If we do not, we will die. If there is no way out, we will burn with the city. If we do not burn, i will die anyway. The doctor pays me in life. We don't have many options, girl." Dran looked ahead to the wall, and shook his head. "There is a way out... somewhere. If there was not, then everyone would still be here." Dran's voice shook a little, his confidence in an exit was not overly bolstered either.


"Yes, that's it, we'll kill them..." Yuzuki said, though she seemed to be saying it to herself.

"Sounds, about right..." Akemi stopped walking for a moment, and then caught back up to them. "What do you mean, by, the doctor pays you in life? Er, uh, if you don't mind me asking..." Akemi said.


Dran stopped, and lost his cheery....ish look. He looked to Akemi, and stood close to her. He towered over her, at least double her size. "Without him, I am dead. For both of us, the doctor put life where there should not have been. At first... i wondered why. For many years I followed him as a cripple, and he never told me...." Dran stared off, and turned away from Akemi. He started walking again toward the wall. Jarene gave off a similarly discomforted look. It was obviously a sore topic of conversation.


Akemi noticed the dismayed look from both of them, and immediately regretted asking the question. "I'm... Sorry," Akemi said, pausing for a moment. "Uh, well, we're almost there," Akemi said, trying to change the topic.


Dran did not try to kick up anymore small talk, and kept his eyes focused forward. Jarene circled around from his left side, and walked over to Akemi. "For consolation, the doctor is a man you can always trust to keep his word... Which is what makes him scary." Jarene patted Akemi's shoulder mockingly, and went back to Dran's side. The wall was close now. They were nearly upon it now, only a couple of buildings stood between the group and the wall. It was still dead silent, no men could be heard from anywhere. Only the patter of morning dew falling from the walls could be heard in the distance, as if the city were sweating from the heat.
=========

         Itatchi ran down the streets away from the screams of the burning people. What had seemed like an hour had only happened mere moments ago. He looked towards the sky and decided to run towards the direction that had less smoke hung in the air. His complete objective at the moment was to escape the fire and Chiyoko. Though, he hadn't seen her since he left the sewer. He ran for what felt like hours, thought it wasn't. He was only stopped when he felt a force ram into him and he fell against someone.

"Gotcha!" A voice shouted, and Itatchi looked up, meeting the eyes of Chiyoko. She held a knife above his head now. Itatchi made a move to push her off, but before he could, she was thrown off by someone diving into her. He rolled over and stood up, barely able to tell who his rescuer had been. There was no way he could ever mistake her for anyone else, though. Akemi. She wrestled with Chiyoko for a few moments, until she was in possesion of the knife, holding it to Chiyoko's throat. Itatchi's attention was drawn to the rather large man behind him. Then he noticed Jarene and Yuzuki. Itatchi was never one to trust anyone, and quickly stood in a battle stance.

Jarene wrestled her pistol out of its holster. Her hand was clumsy, and it seemed her motor skills were still returning. Still, it didn't stop her from lining up the barrel with Itachi's forehead. She snapped over toward Chiyoko and Akemi for a moment, before returning it to Itachi. She lazed her head to one side, and rubbed her free hand over her face. "Standard motions... Hands on your head and whatnot." She said tiredly. It sounded annoyed, whilst still sounding uninterested. She was getting tired of making stops at this point. "Dran, pull the knife from that girl's throat, and tie her hands. If they keep fighting it will slow us down."

Dran nodded, and maneuvered around Jarene. He walked around Itachi warily, trusting his stillness from the end of Jarene's gun. He walked toward Akemi, and leaned down to her height. He pulled the knife down with one hand, and shoved his other arm against Chiyoko to keep her from moving. "We don't have rope Red." He turned his head to Jarene in question.

"What you're doing seems to be working fine. Just hold her there." Jarene muttered in an annoyed tone.

Akemi backed away from Dran and Chiyko and turned towards Itatchi. She dropped the knife and ran over, concerned about the possible future problems of the current situation.

"Itatchi, it's okay. Stop. Please lower your gun," Akemi said, stepping between Itatchi and Jarene, "Let's stop this and get moving now. We don't even know if there will be a way out when we get to the wall. Let's not waste any time."

Itatchi stepped back and relaxed a little, relieved that Akemi was here and okay. Akemi turned towards Jarene and then Dran.

"What are you gonna do about her?" Akemi asked as she approached Dran and Chiyoko, "You can't bring her like tha the whole way."

Jarene Shrugged. "We could shoot her. I don't think it's necessary we bring every criminal they lured here with us." She said. It merited an unhappy glare from Dran. "Do you have a better idea then Biggy?"

Dran looked back at her, then to Akemi. "Doc wouldn't want us to." He thought it over in his head. "We could break her legs." Jarene mocked the unhappy glare Dran gave her.

"Then she'll be burnt up in the fire. It would be mercy to kill her." Jarene said, refocusing her attention on Itachi. "What do you think we should do boy? You don't seem attached to her.

Itatchi opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by Akemi. "Wait! Just..." Akemi walked over and picked the knife back up off of the ground, "I'll take her along, and if she doesn't cooperate..." She made a motion with the knife in front of her throat. She walked over to Chiyoko and looked between Dran and Jarene questioningly. "That will get us moving and keep her from dying," Akemi added.

Jarene cocked her head sideways, and bumped her shoulder on her ear. "The doctor already met you, so I can't shoot you..." She muttered to herself. "Keep her closely in toe. I've watched enough of her antics by now to know not to trust her with sharp objects." Jarene lowered her pistol into its holster. "Dran, you keep him on watch, I'd like to beat the fire to the wall if it's not too much." She turned on her heel and gestured toward Dran to follow her. He nodded his head and obeyed, leaving Chiyoko in Akemi's care. He kept Itachi in front of him as he started to walk toward Jarene.

Akemi pushed Chiyoko in frnot of her and kept the knife gripped tightly in her hand. They all began moving forwards. Itatchi was completely relaxed now, save for the concern about the spreading fire. He didn't know these people, and he didn't know what they were planning on doing. All he knew was that Akemi trsuted them, so they must have good intentions. They came upon the wall sooner than Akemi had anticipated, but surprised her no more than anything else that had recently happened. Keeping a close watch on Chiyoko, she looked around, noticing there was no way over or through the wall.

"Now what are we going to do?" Akemi asked, looking towards Dran and Jarene.

Dran looked up the length of the wall. It shadowed far over everyone in the group. Scaling it was not an option. Jarene looked both ways down the wall. There were no gates, just a large expanse of wall. She walked up to the wall and pressed her hand against the stone. She looked back to Dran with a blank expression. "Sure this was the right way?"

Dran held an unsure look. "No... I'm not. It was chaotic..." Dran walked up to the wall next to Jarene. We could make our way back to the other side... maybe."

Jarene shook her head. "The city will be up in flames before we make it." She laughed nervously to her self as she said it. "Maybe you should just punch it down." She slapped him on the shoulder and started walking off down the wall, running her hand along it.

"I'm not-" Akemi shouted, running up to the wall and slamming the tip of her knife into it, "Going- to- die- in- here!" She screamed between blows. She stopped and hung her arms limp beside her. She had barely made a dent in the thick wall. She turned back towrds Dran. "There HAS to be a way around... over... through... under! I don't care!" She shouted, the knife slipping out of her hands and tumbling to the ground. She turned her attention to Jarene, who she thought wasn't making much of an effort to find a way out. Akemi switched her gaze back and forth between Jarene and Dran before looking back at Itatchi, Chiyoko and Yuzuki.

Yuzuki slowly walked over to Akemi and opened her mouth to say something, and then stopped and leaned against the wall, bowing her head down. Itatchi just stood and stared in shock, and Chiyko was standing there smiling, almost laughing.

Dran started following Jarene. "Tell your prisoner to keep her mouth shut." He darted at Akemi. However, he realized she seemed a bit preoccupied, and just shook his head. Jarene just hummed herself a tune as she moved along the wall. She unholstered her gun from its place. She maneuvered her fingers around the weapon, and flipped it upside down. Every so often after rubbing her hand, she tapped the handle of the gun against the wall, and put her ear to it. She completed the odd action every foot or so, humming to herself. "You're worrying me Red. Do you have something planned?" Dran inquired after her, looking up the wall at what she was doing.

"Maybe. It depends on how well they see..." Jarene said, wandering down the wall; repeating her odd action. "Go calm the children Dran." She said condescendingly, and stopped acknowldging him.

Akemi had returned to her position behind Chiyoko, gripping the knife in her hand once again. Yuzuki was still slumped against the wall, her long hair hiding her face. Akemi remembered the strange pick axe weapon she had kept hidden, and realized she must have dropped it during her previous fight with Chiyoko. She looked back towards the wall, curious about Jarene's actions. At this point, however, nothing could surprise her. She only hope that what she was doing would get them out of here. Looking towards the smoke, she wondered how much time they had until the flmaes reached them. Shaking her uneasiness away, she turned back towards the wall, wondering how thick it could possibly be. Akemi was startled from her thoughts by laughing. She looked up to see Chiyoko laughing.

"Stop that. Nothing here is even funny," Akemi said, annoyed.

"Yes, there are lots of funny things here!" Chiyoko exclaimed, though she stopped her laughter. Akemi thought to herself again. She never remembered Chiyoko being like this. Had she finally lost her mind after all of that searching? She had been searching for a few years with the triplets, and then the three just up and vanish. Akemi wondered if something had happened to them that made Chiyoko go insane. Shaking her head, Akemi looked back towards Jarene.

"Find anything yet?" She exclaimed in a sligtly annoyed tone.

Jarene just looked down the wall toward her. "I can still shoot you." She tapped the wall again, and held her ear to it. A grin widened across her face, as she stepped away.

Dran approached Akemi as Jarene moved about, and leaned against the wall. "We already survived one fire, I think we'll figure something else out." He said in an attempt to raise her spirits, but he knew he wasn't very good. He opened his mouth to say something, but a gunshot interrupted him. Dran flashed his head around to Jarene. Blood had splattered all over the wall in front of her, and the barrel of her pistol was sticking through her palm. Dran stood up in a panic and ran toward her.

Akemi's head snapped up towards the gunshot, and her jaw dropped at the sight of Jarene. Akemi stuttered, but couldn't manage to make any sounds. Yuuki kept her stance against the wall, only turning her head slightly and tilting her head in curiousity when she saw the hole in Jarene's hand. Itatchi stood in shock. He seemed like he wanted to say something, but didn't. Chiyoko stood there, her body beginning to move up and down tumultously before she started laughing again. Akemi walked around Chiyoko and looked at the expression on her face. She was smiling, but her eye brows were raised in surprise, and she looked as if she were trying to supress her laughs. She suddenly fell onto the ground, chuckling quietly and talking to herself. Akemi shook her head and walked over to Jarene.

"Why did you do that?!" Was the first thing she managed to say clearly. Yuzuki approached Akemi slowly and stood beside her, looking at Jarene like an innocent child would.

Jarene tilted her head toward Akemi. She raised her hand up to her eye and looked through it at Akemi. "I did it to save us. Besides, look how happy it made your friend." She darted her over to Chiyoko, and lowered her hand. It left a ring of red around her left eye. "How long have you been in the city Akemi?" She raised her face to Akemi, and awaited an answer.


Akemi suddenly turned her attention to Jarene again. "H-how long?" Akemi repeated, "Why... do you ask?" Akemi asked, unable to hide the nervousness in her voice. She looked for a moment at the hole in Jarene's hand next to the overly amused face of Chiyoko before looking towards the ground.

Jarene lowered her hand to her jacket tail, and twirled the cloth around it. "Well the entire city nearly destroyed itself a few days ago. I'm fairly sure what was running around has the capability to level this entire city." She looked up extent of the wall. "I'm fairly sure it can detonate a gas line rather easily. It just needs something to follow." Jarene looked back over the cityscape behind her. A distinctly different trail of smoke was rising in the distance. It was much blacker, like oil being burned.

Dran stood up to look at it. It smelled like diesel, and brought familiar discomfort. The slight sound of wood splintering echoed toward them, and the smoke trail stopped moving from side to side. "Red.... it's driving straight toward us." Dran ran up to Jarene, and grabbed her arm. The two moved away from the spot in the wall she was standing by, putting a lot of distance between the approaching rumbling.


Akemi looked towards Dran and Jarene, wondering why they seemed so unsettled. She looked towards Itatchi and Yuuki, who seemed just as confused as she.

"What's, going on?" Akemi asked, looking towards Dran. She looked back and forth between Dran and the black smoke uneasily.

         As if in response, a building bursts open in front of the group. It send a dangerous amount of splinters all over the surrounding area. The rumbling of the engine filled the air, stopping all the silence. A huge metal vehicle pulled out of the wreckage, with two men on top of it. One was wearing was suit, goggles, and had a metal brace around his leg. The other was just wearing a dress shirt and dress pants. The one with a brace on his leg ran toward the side of the vehicle, and grabbed hold of some kind of gun, while the other ran inside the rather large and intimidating cannon mounted on top of the whole contraption. Some kind of chain hung out the front of the machine, stiffly pointing toward the blood spot on the wall.

         "Akemi! Yuzuki! Move now!" Jarene said, running away from the machine. Before she could yell anything else, machine gun fire burst out; firing directly at Jarene's spot on the wall. Pieces of stone and concrete flew off the wall in confusing array of inaccurate bullet fire.

         Akemi grabbed Yuzuki's hand and ripped her out of the way, darting towards a nearby building. Itatchi and Chiyoko had already moved far out of the way, watching the strange contraption closely. Akemi and Yuzuki Made it to a safe distance and spun around, watching as the machine fired bullets at the target Jarene had made.

"Oh... so that's what that was," Akemi said to herself. There was a loud sputtering sound and a cloud of black smoke surrounded Akemi. She coughed, waving it away.

         The machine gun fire ceased, showing a huge dent in the wall. Small pieces of it kept crumbling off and falling to the ground. The world seemed quiet in comparison to the gunfire, but the effect faded. It was replaced by a winding sound of sorts, and the engine returned. A bang louder than all the gunfire combined sounded to signify the end of the peace, and the wall shattered in front of them. It engulfed the whole area in shades of orange and red, and sent out a shockwave that knocked even Dran off his feet.

         Jarene coughed a couple of times, rubbing the soot and ash off her face. She rose to her feet shakily, and looked at the gaping hole in the wall. Everyone's ears were ringing, and shot, but it was obvious she was cheering. She kicked her feet a bit, and turned down to dran. She grabbed his arm and pulled hard, getting him up to his feet. They started to turn and run toward the machine, but Jarene hesitated. She turned back toward Akemi and the others, helping them to their feet. They still couldn't hear, but her gestures made it clear that they needed to run.

         Akemi, Yuzuki, Itatchi and Chiyoko began running after Jarene and Dran.

© Copyright 2014 Insanityman, Jacques, (known as GROUP).
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