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[X] “... make sure I don’t lose myself.”
I harden up, chew the inside of my bottom lip.
IIn truth, their first place was compromised.
Seeing that their part of the district was seemingly lost, word got out and they all managed to get away.
They moved base to a copy building in caves lesser known, while Hoshiguma destroyed where they’d been hiding all along.
Now they celebrate...
Having avoided the worst.
A blind satori stands unseen outside their doors, a god reaching out past her shoulder—
[ ♫: http://youtube.com/watch/?v=YOwSrPzT8qg ]
And the doors fire open.
▓▓▒▓ ░▒▓▒ ░░ ▓▒░ ▓▓▒ ▒ ▓ ▒░ ▓ ▓ ▓▒░▒▓
Gold. Flame. Lights.
Wood splinters and burns off my knuckles.
Koishi hid me until this moment, and with sounds of a fiery song beating fast through the air, I slip past her into a storm of tinted rays.
The guy who was on watch flinches at the chaos, I rush in taking a count of the eighteen or so people in there and start flashing toward one. In three—
I stop in front of the first horned girl I could see.
She realizes, and throws a punch.
In one—... I flicker out its way—
Bring up my left hand and throw it to her neck—
Push her into the wood flooring, breaking it apart.
I make a fist, and bring it down in an instant on her teeth. With spit flying over my fingers, I ask the only thing I want to know:
“Where the fuck is my sister!?”
... It turned out Yuugi made too much of a mess. When Koishi said she found this place, apparently they were talking about having hoped it wasn’t me; how they were glad they’d had a plan for me in this sorta worst case. Picked too early to celebrate, but you know oni: too impulsive, and not the best with secrets.
Now I’m here, and I studied their backup floorplans from the spider too.
Everyone’s starting to realize what’s going on, though they were having a good time ten seconds ago. The things I need from these guys are “keys”: real ones to cages in the basement, and ones in theory—the ways to take down the seals and barriers. And yeah, I know where the cells are... but not Shion. Thinking, I grasp the oni’s collar from under me and pull her nearer to my face. She’s not bleeding, but it looks like that punch with my rings made her teeth ache.
“My face look familiar?” I ask while spotlights switch across it, hardly piercing through my shades. “I’m a Yorigami. I’m pretty sure you’ve got something that belongs to me.”
This adult-sized bruiser spits on my cheek, and that just sets me off—just as all Hell breaks loose.
I turn into an inferno while other oni start heading deeper inside the building or stand their ground in the clubroom or at the bar. I lift my fist again, a golden tornado turning around it while I eye this girl’s face, and a piercing high sound signals me to fuck off.
I move, pushing off the girl’s body into a front flip and spotting some sort of laser firing over her chest, through where I just was, I look to my left and see a bald, uneven-horned guy pointing at his eye and looking at me. Well, alright then. The others – seven left, it looks like – start making bullets.
In the scene of bassy, rapid music and intense, rave lights, Koishi comes bowling in with the lookout, blasting him out of a rosebud from the doorway into a pair of slavers, making them all fall over. I take the tornado coiled around my forearm and slam it downward. It beats the air, swells, and pushes out with glass-shattering force and singeing heat. That wrecks the place, and in the confusion, I take a page out of Yuugi’s book.
I start darting toward whoever I can, headbutting, elbowing, and clocking whenever I can manage. Whenever they try piling on, in a brief half second of red light I’ll spot Koishi’s purple veins catching their arms and waists before they’re yanked out of my way. I end up hardly thinking, and feel a kind of Zen exhilaration. Like this is right. Like I’m going to wipe this whole place out.
Even when I get hit across the face.
Even when I get jerked up and slammed into the floor.
Even when the room fills with even more colors than the clubhouse lights, small and large shaped of danmaku crowding wherever I move.
I exhale sharp.
I get back on my feet.
And I start using the golden flame to make them lose track.
It’s pain: hot, mind-wiping pain, whether I’m the one taking hits or giving them out.
I’ll thrust the bone of my arm into a throat and shove someone’s head into my knee (numbing it), only for three new guys and girls to yank me back and pound my ribs. I’ll throw people over my shoulder, feeling that shoulder strain, and catch a fist before it hits Koishi’s cheek, finding her behind me whenever my body and brain start to waver.
In a whirlwind of sweat and heat, surrounded by bodies, the two of us hold steady at the center of the room, bruising and beating, back to back. After several straight minutes of throws, jabs, haymakers, powers—soon enough, there’re just two oni left. Only two left... Without a word we decide: she takes the man, and I take the woman.
The little oni standing at the door next to their bar: at the iron and steel bulkhead before the blessed cattle. She’s my height, with tall horns and long hair. She whips her hand out and before I can react I feel my left arm tug. I look at it, and between the flashing colors I spot the shine of strings. My arm starts waving without me, until my bag starts to slide off it.
In that moment I reach for it, but out the corner of my eye I see her throw her hand out a second time and feel a stopping in my right leg. It jerks down, throwing me off and letting my bag drop. Then, she starts pulling me apart.
Like my skin is searing, and like my insides are splitting: that’s what I start to feel, and she’s trying her best to get rid of me in no time. She’s dragging her claws apart in a mirror to my body’s stretching, floating in the air. I can’t reach my bag or throw anything, and even if I slip down to the purse, she’ll likely catch me again anyway. Instead of that I hold onto the first thought I have: I put my right thumb between my teeth with the nail on the bottom row, and I bite down ‘til it breaks.
FFFuucking hurts, but I stay focused, flick the blood towards her, and when it splatters on her face I teleport in front of it, socking her down without missing a beat.
She gets up with a hook that I catch. I throw my fist into her face another time.
She buckles and tries to string me up again. I burn, and crash my blazing head into her skull.
When she’s on her back foot I crack into her face again, she’s pushed to her knees and I lunge at her once I see that, pressing my left hand down on her chest. And I think, fuck this girl. I think, fuck Yorigami Joon.
For being down here.
For getting into all this shit.
For what they did, and what I let happen.
I find myself mashing over and over on her face, cracking it, splitting it, making her bleed and bashing out teeth until—
“Joon, don’t forget Shion!”
I hear that, and get back to myself. I stand from the oni, who’s still alive.
I look toward the ceiling, breathing hot and heavy while what looks like black drips, drips off my knuckles and rings. The blood sizzles off my hand under the golden fire, and my heart starts to slow.
“... Alright,” I breathe out. Looking back at my girl, I say “... Thank you.”
“We better hurry up,” she insists with a determined look on. I’m still breathing heavy and surging with adrenaline, but goddamn she’s cute.
[ ♫: http://youtube.com/watch/?v=MDsq9PTQkaY ]
The music changes. I look toward a corner of the room. What are they playing that on, anyway?
I spot what looks like a stereo system and a record spinning on a table. It’s just playing on without any DJ. I feel myself getting chills. In the atmosphere just after a brawl, this kind of song... a brutal and dark synth: I like it.
“Hey, let’s keep that song on. I’m digging it.” I propose to Koishi, pointing at the record and smiling. She keeps that serious look on her face.
“We have to hurry up, Joon,” she says, and I sigh, looking off for a second. Like, I know... I think I’m getting nervous. My emotions just went haywire after all.
“Sorry...” I tell her, looking her way. “Yours still awake?” Mine’s broke and bloody after all.
“I’m keeping him wrapped up! Try getting him to talk and then knock him out!”
I step her way while saying, “This is where an opened eye would be useful,” and she frowns at me as I’m walking past. The olive-skinned oni wrapped in my girlfriend’s embrace looks pretty shaken after I did what I just did. I take a glimpse at the short, sharp horns on his forehead, just a little more obvious with his baldness.
“You’re... the golden god, huh?” he growls at me.
“Where’re you keeping the case of keys today? You move it around, right?” I glance backward and spot my bag under the flurry of colors. I guess the lights are running automatic too. I check them hanging off the ceiling while I grab the purse. “Koishi,” I say, “give him an arm.” I pull out one of the blueprints I received and add a warning: “Try anything dumb and I’m taking pieces of you off. This flame can burn youkai, too; don’t forget.”
I push the map toward his face while a grip of skin-rope open at his side. He cautiously lifts a finger while glaring at me. Stiff, he points at one of the basement rooms. I look at where he poked and confirm, poking it myself, “This?”
He nods. I singe the paper on that spot. I follow up with, “How about Yorigami Shion? Do you know where she’s kept? She’s a poverty god.”
He looks confused, I grimace.
“You don’t know?” I ask.
He opens his mouth, and closes it. I look over at Koishi, and she shrugs with her hands. “I don’t know if he knows,” she says.
I answer back, “Seriously, open your third eye already.” She pouts and grumbles. Hmph... “... Alright, I guess you don’t know,” I speak while looking over the map. “But do you at least know if there is a poverty god here?”
“We weren’t... Boss said we shouldn’t get near her, so...”
I feel like a jolt of electricity ran through me hearing that. I can’t hold the smirk off my lips. “... Last question:” I start, meeting his eyes through my sunglasses, “how do I break the seals?”
“Only Boss knows that.”
“‘Boss’, huh...? What’s this Boss’s name?”
“You said that was the last question, Gold God,” he answers fast. I feel my face drooping down, mostly in repugnance.
“H-Her name is Tenryoushin no Kobari!” he gets that out quick.
“Kobari...? I don’t know a Kobari...” I mutter. That pisses me off. She must be an oni, right? What kind of oni’s that deceptive? She managed to hide her operation that long while I was trying to sniff her out... What was she doing? Or more like... what’s the deal?
Is she really an oni?
I mull this over a bit before telling him, “Thanks. But listen, if you lied about any of that,” I hold up a gold and blazing fist, grinning, “after I put you out here, I’ll be making sure you don’t get up again.”
“We oni never lie!” he swears. I huff. Yeah, I guess that’s mostly true.
“Right...” I say, and I strike him across his left cheek so hard the wall to the left of us shakes, splinters, and gets indented. His eyes go white, and when he starts drooling Koishi lets him go. While I roll the map back, I speak up, saying, “Koishi, stay out of sight, out of mind until... until you ever feel like ya shouldn’t.” Koishi blinks, not saying anything with her eyes or mouth. I feel my own lips turning miserably, “I’ve got a gross, bad feeling... You can tell, right? Well, I’m not going to let you get screwed over while I try to unscrew someone else... someone I let go... Alright?”
Koishi walks up to my front and I straighten my back. Without looking at me, she rests her hands between my chest and stomach. When she speaks, she looks up at me with her half-empty eyes to say, “I’ll be right with you, the whole time.”
I feel like my heart’s being shielded. I put my arms around her and hold her as close as I can while trying to remember her while she starts making herself forgotten. I really... really feel apprehensive. Before she vanishes, I feel a kiss on my cheek. I grasp there gently, holding on to the feeling, then open my palm in front of my eyes. I squeeze it closed, reassuring myself. It’s hard... real hard to not start freaking out. I want to wait and make sure I’m in the right mind, but... she was right: there’s no time for that.
I flash to the steel and iron door, put my hand to it, and start heating it. It glows yellow and starts to melt off its hinges, falling molten to the floor and bending the wood. It’s a shimmering, searing pile after a minute, leading into an unlit stairwell. Knowing Koishi’s at my side, I descend.