Far off in the distance, the well dressed woman was already surrounded. Shinji didn’t even flinch as he watched the poor girl accept defeat. Or so, that’s how it looked. In reality, as Shinji sighed his ‘entertainment’ leaned on her cane and took stance.
She pulled from the top of the pin straight black cane and drew from it a long, sharp silver blade; a sliver of the size of Saboten’s katana. She took a long look at herself in the shine of the sword, her hazel eyes reflecting back at her. “Chin up Leyim,” were her words to herself.
She didn’t have much more time to herself before the Shinigami drew closer, soon it would be too late. “You still have a trick up your sleeve, remember?” Leyim assured herself. Her cane switched hands more than once, jolting back and forth whilst its shell dropped on the ground. It was the left hand Leyim trusted more.
The sword itself was quite light when she swung, Leyim could barely feel the impact as the silver cleaved into the skull of the ape-like Shinigami ahead, slipping through its cranium and devouring the fruitless brain.
Her single advantage didn’t induce fear into the unflinching creatures and instead invigorated them. She was enticing the Shinigami to creep closer and then, all of a sudden, they pounced like a pride of lions. She was the innocent gazelle. Leyim wouldn’t accept that. Her mind continued to flash back to that one ‘trick’ she had left and it was time to roll up her sleeve.
Leyim dropped the blade to the floor and, without second thought, thrust out both arms in an attempt to punch away a single, pathetic looking Shinigami. With a flutter, the white ribbons adorning her body flew from behind her and, with a graceful whirl, they bisected the Shinigami fluidly, opening the doors to an escape route.
Even her ribbons were weapons.
Leyim dashed through the gap, grabbing the sleeve for her cane and leaving the ghastly creatures behind her. Now that she was moderately safer, she set her sights on the prize. The reason she had been called out to the town in the first place, the Kanzen Hakujou. Her plan was to leave the white-haired one, as he looked like he could take the largest Shinigami out no problem. Her target was his muscular friend, the Iwa was a dead give away.
“He hasn’t noticed me yet.” She thought. He had his eyes on something behind him instead. He was shouting something, like somebody else was in trouble. And then, it hit her. A beam of dark red light that, despite his block, knocked him far out of sight. “Shit.” She muttered, dodging a similar blast that had been fired at her and clutching her skinny frame against a disgraced piece of rubble. Had one of them seen her? The words “Saboten! Stop!” were flooding the air.
Saboten? That name didn’t match anything from the case file she had been given at the Citadel. No matter now. The problem was staying alive long enough to see this Saboten’s face. The blast that was fired had incinerated the group of Shinigami whom had surrounded Leyim earlier, and she could tell that was nothing for him.
Leyim drew a breath and was silent, she could hear powerful footsteps drawing closer, and an angered breathing followed.
"Saboten!” another voice called, this time a female. “You need to calm down!”
“Shut up.” She heard him say in a deep, harsh voice. The breathing felt nearer as the voice spoke once more, “and who might you be?”
Leyim had no words left, she just gawked into his eyes; both with deep red scleras, both with tri-ringed triangle pupils, both pouring fear directly into her soul. Whomever he was, the young, green haired man had been possessed by a Shinigami Lord. Leyim had never seen this before, but she knew of it from books.
There was no way she could take him on. His head shot around, and Leyim’s followed as they watched the white-haired man pierce the thick skin around the large Shinigami’s throat. It dropped to its knees and collapsed into the closest building where more rubble began to fall towards this Saboten and Leyim.
She tried to dodge, but there was no use, something hit her square in the head.
“Hey, are you awake?”
“Hmm?” Leyim mumbled, her head was pounding something awful. There was a manly voice coming from above her and an uncomfortable feeling pushing into her spine.
“You’ve been out cold for hours,” he told her; the voice was gruff but distorted, like she was on a cell phone with a bad connection. For a second, Leyim thought it was the possessed one, waiting for her wake to strike.
Something about her was different though, she felt much lighter. She was hatless, ribbonless and most definitely caneless. When her fingers twitched, hoping the stick was just out of reach, her visitor spoke again.
“A precaution,” he said. “How are you feeling?”
“Headache-y,” she replied slowly. She had given up reaching for the cane and instead went to inspect her injury. The gash on her her head had already been dressed -rather poorly, mind you- but she had been taken care of. “What about the Cactus?”
“He’s fine. His Shinigami Lord got the better of him, his name is Saboten. He was hit like you were when the building collapsed. It was that damn dinosaur.”
Leyim chuckled. “Dinosaur,” just the thought was ridiculous. Her eyes were still closed and there were specks of blood dotting her face, but even Hideki thought she was beautiful.
“Get some rest.”
“Who are you?” She mumbled.
“I… I’m Hideki,” he stuttered. “Now, sleep.” He ordered out of embarrassment. She just smiled in response.
“Leyim,” a pained, thankful smile spawned on her face. “Leyim Rossi.”
Leyim awoke again a short while later to the sound of battle. Not crashes and bangs, just words as deadly as mortar shells. Her wake up call was; “fuck you, ya’ bastard. You could’ve killed us all.” It was probably the white-haired man speaking, he looked like the type. Leyim peeked open her eyes but nothing around her was familiar; she was laying in a bed built from a row of plastic chairs and a single blanket.
The bed was situated in a small, empty blue room. She was all alone bar her hat which was sitting to the left, it was still ribbonless much like her attire. She slipped off the bunched-up bandages and placed her hat on top of her straight brown hair. Her footsteps were loud as she wandered out of the room, causing the people downstairs to hush. Ignoring the black tape blocking off the tan door to her right, she moved down the creaking stairs to the sounds of Saboten attempting to reason with the white-haired man.
“It wasn’t my fault.” He told him.
“Oh, whatever.” The white-haired man replied, he turned around to storm off like a child but was stopped in his tracks by the sight of Leyim. “Oh, you’re up.”
“Ah, Leyim.” The familiar voice called again, it came from behind the counter of what looked like a quiet, empty little shop. She was quite surprised to see the Iwa wrapped around his left arm, but now was the time to ignore such a thing. “Did you sleep alright?”
“Yes, thank you.” She stumbled between her words like she was a cheap toy with a broken pull string. Leyim Rossi was quite obviously in a lot of pain, while Saboten, who sustained the same amount of damage, was already up and yelling. He had just brushed it off and that amazed her.
“The power of the Shinigami is always impressive.” She thought, taking a mental note of the situation for later. The group in front of her was quite diverse, or at least, that’s how it seemed through her fogged vision. She caved quickly, her knees gave in and Leyim dropped to the floor and into the arms of the group’s only female.
"Are you okay?” she asked Leyim.
"I… I’m fine, really.” The girl’s blonde hair prodded Leyim in the eye as she failed to smoothly lift her; “I’m Ayame,” she said as she displayed a frightening lack of upper body strength.
“Leyim Rossi.” She repeated. It was quite a sight to see, and the occasional clear view of the group would confused Leyim further; such a powerful group of people in such a small shop: Hideki behind the counter, Saboten stood in the center with the white-haired man (introduced as Shinji by Ayame) stood next to him, Ayame stood behind Leyim and a large, muscular man known as Hiro making a ridiculously small cup of ramen in the corner. Leyim smiled to herself at the insanity. Then, she caught the eye of Hiro.
“Oh, my apologies.” He said, “would you like a cup?”
Leyim’s growling stomach answered the question for her.
Set cross-legged, cup ramen in one hand and useless plastic fork in the other, she sipped straight from the cup. It didn’t take Leyim long to feel like one of the group. Nor did it take long for the questions to fire; “who are you all?”
“I think you know the answer to that.” Shinji responded, he had moved back up the stairs to retrieve some things and to pack the group’s bags. He wanted to leave, now.
“Second question, do you know who I am?”
“Leyim Rossi!” Ayame replied, a testament to memory it appeared.
Leyim sighed however, “do you know what I do?”
“You’re part of Scarecrow.”
“Yeah.” She said.
“Fucker.” He scoffed, “what’s stopping us from slaughtering you right here and now?”
“Oi, buddy.” She moaned in an innocent voice, perhaps hoping it would ward him off. It did, but only because it annoyed him. Leyim slurped up what was left of the delicious, mushed noodles. She was waiting for them to make the call, they were Hakujou of course. But, unlike the others they didn’t seem inherently evil. “What’s stopping me from doing the same?” She joked.
“What do you do?” Saboten asked, ignoring her quip which she herself thought was hilarious. In response, she pulled from the breast pocket of her coat a badge. Upon it, a black, metal spider-web sat and, beneath, embossed in gold type read; “NEW EARTH ARMY: HUNTER: CAPTAIN LEYIM K. ROSSI.”
“I thought I recognized your name.” Hideki told her, “I was a soldier in the lower ranks of the New Earth Army at the time. A guy in my squad had your photo in his wallet.”
Leyim was silent, blushing now.
“You didn’t know him, did you?” He laughed as she shook her had, “sorry.”
An awkward silence followed, before Leyim asked; “then you know why I’m here?”
“Well, you did come equipped with weaponized ribbons and a sword-cane.” Hiro said, he was about to continue but Shinji interrupted; “The Hunters,” he called, “are a group of highly talented warriors, specifically hired for the purpose of eradicating the Hakujou population if require. Or, so says the computer Hiro and I used.”
“Hiro and I?” Saboten joked quietly.
“So you’re going to kill us? Even after we saved your life?” A worried Ayame pondered out loud, blaring over Saboten’s humour. She was especially worried of the damage Leyim could do, since she sliced those Shinigami with a Christmas decoration. But then, Leyim shook her head once again;
“Where’s the squad you’re captain of Miss Rossi?”
“Ms,” she corrected Hideki with a smile. An embarrassed look shot over him as he audibly corrected his mistake under a cough. “The Hunters are a very small group. I am captain of the entire legion.”
“See!” Shinji yelled, “she could call them at any time and have them destroy us in seconds. Why is she still alive?”
“Because you are the only one thinking she might do that.”
He was silent after that.
“Leyim,” Hideki stood and gestured with his Iwa-wrapped hand, he wanted her trash but she didn’t understand. “Are you in any condition to walk? If not, you may as well stay with us.”
“Thank you for the offer. But I should leave soon.”
“Then leave when you’re better.” He told her, not leaving any room for her to breath and still gesturing for that damn cup. “There’s a lot of stray Shinigami still out there and I don’t doubt they would kill you instantly in that state.”
“You’re right.” She replied, stumped for any other excuse that would get her out of laying in that blasted chair bed again. “I’ll stay, but I have to tell you this,” she said, “when I return, I will be leaving with you heads.”
“Try me.” Hideki smirked.
As did Leyim.
Thank you for taking the time to read this chapter.
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