In complete silence, the elevator door slid open. In its wake, a room unlit revealed itself in full: cages stacked on cages. A Shinigami occupied each space, begging for release. It wasn’t something Leyim had the heart to display but it was necessary in the eyes of The Hunters. Without captive Shinigami, the cadets could not be trained to defeat them in the wild, there was no equivalent.
Only a select few top-ranking soldiers had clearance to enter the room and the two Hunters tagging along were not included in that exclusive list. Leyim, with her concealed weapon and ever-evolving strategy, had finally concocted a plan. She hoped that, upon seeing this mess, the Hunters would fall back to her. She was not above lying to save the lives of her soldiers, young and impressionable, it was not a difficult task.
“The Envy isn’t planning on utilising The Hunters. You were trained to combat the Shinigami if ever you were needed and now, you’re bowing to one,” they stepped out into the room, bewildered as the monsters stared with yellowed eyes and hides streaked with inescapable fluids. They were starved, shivering with hunger pangs like orphaned dogs. “You can see it for yourselves, he’s raising an army of Shinigami to destroy you, and everybody else.”
“And what do you want us to do about it?”
The Captain looked around as the automatic lights finally detected human motion. Behind the furthest set of cages was a bed of brushed steel and a mobile of medical equipment. “Hiro, get Shinji on that. The machine will do what it can once it’s ready to administer the EDEN.”
It was painful to watch a man place his best friend on what would’ve felt like his death bed. As the man reacted to the icy touch of the metal, Hiro asked the only question Leyim could answer. “What’s it going to do to him?”
“It’ll scan his body and figure out the best solution. Then, it’ll sew the wound, administer painkillers and a dose of EDEN to ensure that everything heals up smoothly and within hours. He’ll be standing before you know it.”
“His arm isn’t going to grow back, is it?”
Strictly speaking, it should have been possible. “No,” she told him, “Shinigami are naturally the pinnacle of regeneration, almost to the point of immortality. They can regrow their limbs after battle or organs after failure, even the brain. It takes a matter of minutes for a Shinigami to regenerate it’s torso as long as the brain is kept alive.”
“So, if it hasn’t already happened…”
“Shinji’s Shinigami Lord sacrificed itself to release the Shinigami into the world. He absorbed Valafar’s energy but without his presence it seems his power has strict limitations.” With a quizzical look, Hiro stared deep into Shinji’s wound. Only a fragment of his arm remained and what was left ended in a perfect, flat edge cut diagonally like piping. The blade had sliced through bone as though it was nothing at all.
Blood still oozed and Leyim could see signs of anguish on the man’s face. He was no longer asleep and the pain was beginning to sink in once again. “We have to get moving before he wakes up properly, we don’t know what might happen.” She forced him out of the way, stamping eight fingers down on a keyboard and attacking the stiff buttons. She typed nonsense strings of delicate information into an ancient monitor which sat embedded in the medical machine. [RETURN] was the final keystroke and, with that, the ceiling bound mobile began from the top of Leyim’s strict, flowing formula.
It was going to be a long procedure. Pain killers were the first to be administered and the wound had been cleaned but nothing could continue until the magnificent machine had carefully excavated the remaining bone. As that began, the captive Hunters were becoming agitated with the Captain’s stare. She made it clear that she was aware of their every move so they made sure to keep well away from everything living, especially Leyim.
“Captain Rossi,” the girl began, pointing behind herself in a childish manner, unsuitable for any cadet. “What’s behind the door?”
The door in question was enormous and built out of a dull, black metal. It was more fortified that one might assume necessary to solve an escaping Shinigami problem. They weren’t mindless creatures, of course, but they were going to win any awards for intelligence. It was unclear and questionable and the silence had proved too much for the two, young hunters.
Leyim left the question unanswered as she had each and every time beforehand. It could never be mentioned, Leyim remained one of the only people to know the contents of the room. Two items pursued by Atticus Kazuhiko himself, he ordered them to never be revealed until his blessing was given. Even then, Leyim wasn’t sure they could be released without dire consequences.
The Hunter raised her weapon in response, “tell me.”
A little information couldn’t hurt, “look around you, where are you?”
“A medical bay.”
“Bingo.” The Captain returned her gaze to Shinji who was no longer struggling. All signs of pain had evaporated with the introduction of the anaesthetic. The machine continued to work its magic with a collection of vicious looking tools and the intolerable Hunter had moved closer to the door, specifically, its keypad.
A specific code was needed, an important birthday: Leyim was aware of it, The Envy could probably guess it, Verentine built it and the Hunter in question, a cadet with little to no field experience, did not know the pass code. “If you press the wrong sequence,” Leyim told her, “even once, the machine will electrocute you.”
“I don’t believe you.”
She was sick of the kid’s games now, “Listen here, if the voltage doesn’t get to you fast enough, I promise I will take over for it.”
Hideki stood as one of three points in the centre of a circle built from the bodies of unconscious Hunters. They were preoccupied with a barrage of questions to understand the danger they were in and, as a result, the remainder of Team Karasu agreed to simply knock them out.
Only one was left awake, a coward of sorts who simply ran away when the fight broke out. Who could blame him? He was placed in front of Hideki, uncomfortably close to the man’s bladed fingers. Beneath lunch-break scented breath, he muttered muted protests and begged for his life. It was an interrogation, “how do we get out?” Hideki asked, only inching closer with silence. “Look, all we want to do is leave without bumping into anybody else.”
“There’s no helping it, we’re everywhere.”
“I don’t want to have to kill anybody, we’re not bad people.”
“Tell me that without your fucking knife… fingers to my throat.”
“We want this to be painless,okay?” He stressed that word, painless. Hideki didn’t know much about torture, he refused to take up such malpractice, even in the NEA. He was bluffing, there was bluffing and he definitely wasn’t going to kill the kid. The Hunter, thankfully, didn’t have the time to consider that possibility.
After another threat, the Hunter spoke. “O- okay, look. There really isn’t a safe exit. The hallways are crawling with Hunters because we’re all looking for you. An alert went through the entire building, the exits are covered.”
“What do we do now then?” Saboten shouted, “tell us or… I’ll set you on fire with my mind.”
“I can do it, don’t make me.”
“The exits are blocked, believe me.”
“Do something about it.”
“I’ve been only here for a month, what authority do you think I have? Seriously, the only secure way out is the one you’ve been avoiding,” a finger reaches for the sky, the open roof. “If you don’t act quickly, they’ll be pouring in through the ceiling.” With that, the back of Hideki’s armoured hand met the Hunter’s temple, knocking him straight out.
“All right, now we know what we have to do.”
“We can’t all get up there, Hideki. How do you expect that to happen?” That was the question, wasn’t it? It was simply impossible to get the three of them up there without another tool. It was out of reach and out of the question, unless Hideki could toss them. Ayame, she was light as a feather and Saboten wasn’t far off that. If he really wanted to, Hideki could make it very simple.
The only problem would be finding another way out, the Hunters would be on Leyim’s trail by now so following her footsteps would be impossible. One loose-lipped cadet would take care of that, surely. Hideki would be fine alone, he was powerful enough to take on a group of humans. Saboten was the only obstacle left, he wasn’t going down without a fight and would do everything in his power to keep the three of them together.
“Look,” Hideki began, “I know what you’re going to say.”
“Then don’t even suggest it,” the kid told him.
“We need to do this, don’t you understand? The two of you are strong enough to last without me, hell, I’ll just slow you down and you know it. I’m weaker than you, it’s not worth the struggle.”
“Then you need us, right?”
“I was hoping I’m not that pathetic, Saboten.” He smiled, looking into Ayame’s eyes to catch her attention. “We’re going to split up for a while but don’t worry, okay? I’ll find Leyim if I can’t make it out to Mishima, we’ll be back together before you know it.”
“This can’t happen, okay? We’ll come with you, we’ll fight together.” Ayame put her arm around Saboten’s shoulder, comforting him in his anger. “You’ll be safer with us, we can help you.”
“It’s decided, Saboten. They could be waiting for you, The Envy wants you and that makes it much too dangerous.”
“Shut up, I can help you.”
“Are you ready? Ayame, you can go first. It’ll be great fun,” he smiled an enormous, friendly smile like a parting gift and Ayame took notice. There was something of a plan built in that silence.
Saboten was crying now, “don’t do it. Please, Hideki. Why don’t you trust me?”
“If I don’t make it back,” it was a possibility, he didn’t know what the Hunters had in store for him or what they were trained to do but there was a chance they could put up a fight more powerful than his own. There was an exchange that had to be made, something that had to be done. “Do you remember what I told you?” he asked, grabbing Ayame’s underarm in preparation to throw.
“I- I do. Hideki, you know he’s waiting for you.”
Hideki twisted his body, tensing the muscles required to follow through with his plan. “His name is Sun, Sun Toramaru. If you find him, please, keep him safe.” Ready to through the girl through the open roof, Hideki span. The girl’s hair, it spread from its lengths and wrapped around Saboten. It swallowed his form whole, disappearing between the blonde curls he screamed for his friend.
The weight was nothing to Hideki, he was much more powerful that he had believed and the two teenagers were soon shot through the air at an incredible speed, disappearing from his sight in a matter of moments. They would see each other soon, he promised and with that, he fled.
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