"Why are the police here? I didn't do anything!" Blackrose began to panic as she heard the sirens. "I didn't do any major crimes. Well, there was that one time... Blackrose began to shake as she relived the horrifying experience from a few years ago. Trembling as she thought that she caused a man to kill himself.
"Calm yourself down, Blackrose. Just light yourself a cigarette." She said to herself, grabbing a piece of paper and taking some grass out of her pocket. As she lighted it, she heard someone coming up the stairs. As they came into the room Blackrose drew her knife, shouting, "Who the hell are you?"
Rezetta couldn't help but groan as Lily shot Myrddin and then rushed over to the warehouse's door. She spun around once, twice, unsure of whether to get behind Lily like she told her, or to go after the sword that had spun across the floor. Instead, she stood where she was and fixed her eyes on Rin as the woman shouted at her. Zetta had the vague notion that she could probably just grapple Rin to the floor when she and the wizard disappeared. For the best, really, she told herself with a shake of her head. Not like I would have been strong enough to do that, anyway.
Zetta took a deep, shaky breath and looked back to where Lily was. "Rin and Myrddin are gone," she announced, once more reaching up to rub at her temples. She grimaced, wondering how long it would be before they'd be able to get somewhere safe and relax. "She gave us a very lovely death threat too, pretty much," she added.
She paused then, unsure of whether to go stand by Lily or go for the sword. There seemed to be somebody just outside the warehouse, and with their luck it would turn out to be another enemy. As for the sword, it was just by the crates where the invisible children were. And one of them's a kitsune, she marveled, staring at the gleaming blade. That must be the thing that was attacking me earlier. The same boy who threw out those flares and told us not to trust Rin, I guess? Her lips twisted into a wry smile as she began to make her way over to the sword on the ground. That warning of his came a little too late, I think.
Maya was relieved to watch Rin and her assistant vanish; after hearing what she had said about her and Takeda she had decided that the woman must definitely be a bad person, however kind she had acted earlier.
Does that mean these demons are good? she thought to herself I've never heard of a nice demon in stories, but maybe there really are some?
She was brought back to Earth by Takeda's reassurance to her, which from her point for view didn't make much sense.
"But that's silly; you don't have to keep a promise to a nasty woman who makes you kill people... I wouldn't!"
The small girl didn't wait for a reply though, as Excalibur landed with a clatter only a few feet away from where she was hiding. She crawled out on her hands and knees, looking furtively around despite her invisibility before reaching out for the sword. She cautiously gripped the metal handle, which felt a lot warmer between her palms than she had expected. As she held the blade a faint tingling feeling went up her arm and she tried to wave it about in a swinging motion, though the heaviness of the weapon meant she barely lift the tip more than two inches before letting it crash back onto the ground.
"Come and see this, Takeda!" she excitedly called back to the kitsune "It's really..."
She was cut off however as she noticed one of the demon-women was approaching again, forgetting that she was still invisible she stared up wide-eyed at her whilst clutching the sword, unsure whether to flee or to stay.
Lily listened to the boy shouting, and turned around in time to see the two balls of flame flying towards her. She quenched them in mid air, but felt a blast of hot air hit her. "Can you put it off for five minutes?" She called back "I can probably get you out of it if you tell me the specifics of exactly what she made you say. She made a big mistake in her research" before turning to the new arrival, the gun lowered. She gestured that he should put his hands down with her free hand "OK, I can't imagine this is ever easy to break to someone, but the world you know is just the surface, there's a whole lot more to see, and none of it makes sense if you've stopped believing in Santa. Anyway, two seconds for damage control" She said, holding up a finger. "Leave the girl, she's scared and she could be dangerous if cornered." She said to Zetta, still being careful not to use names in case this new man had some connection to the police. "No offence, kiddo" she added for the little girl's benefit. "So. What part do you want explained first?" she asked, smiling to the man.
"I'l say stuff's wonkey. It positively reeks of demon in here." Gabriel said, quickly lowering his arms.
"M'first explaination would be 'What the hell', but I guess I'll have to settle for 'Who are you people' and 'What's going on here.'"
He tilted his head slightly and grinned weakly.
As Alec entered the, room he was shocked to see a girl threatening to stab him....already...after like five seconds!
"Calm down! I'm here to help you escape the police! I don't know what you did, but the police already surrounded the building! If you cooperate with me, we can get out of here safely. However, don't think that you'll stay with me forever, I got to find something and bring it back here, I'm sure you would like nothing less than to go back to your home. The reception should be keeping the police outside right now, but they cant hold out much longer, we must get Mr.Ling."
A deep and serious scream was heard downstairs.
"Open the door right now, or we start the warnin' shots!"
Another voice was heard
"I'd like to see you try n' pull that trigger!"
"That makes everything so much easier." Lily replied, letting out a protracted sigh. "What this is, is a set up. The nutty cow who shouted at my friend is a nutty cow who's getting an invisible young girl and a boy whose age I can't be sure of to attempt to kill us. The boy is bound by some form of magic to kill us, but I think I can get him out of his little contract, and if you can tell a demon from someone not descended from a fallen angel, then you can help with that. Until then, we need to calm down the girl, because she has a sword that I assume is imbued with phenomenal amounts of power, and I don't think anyone will like the consequences if something goes wrong." she gushed all in one breath. "'kay?" she finished, adding a wry smile.
Takeda crouched in cover again and hugged his knees as the adults talked. What Lily was saying sounded rely intriguing, and he wondered if she would actuaally be able to help him. I really don't want to kill them, but I promised Rin. Even if she lied I can't break a promise . . . not without dying.
He looked over as Maya called to him. She was still invisible, so it looked like the hilt of the sword was levitating in the air. But more importantly to him was the demon woman standing nearby, looking at the sword with her disturbing white eyes.
Takeda rushed over to stand next to Maya, putting his hand on her shoulder for a moment, then he lowered the cloak of invisibility and stood in front of her protectively. He stared at Rezetta with his arms crossed, trying his best to look intimidating but not having the effect he wanted at all in his guise of a young boy.
"I promised I would kill you both." he said straight-faced, flicking his gaze between Lily and the woman directly in front of him. "But I really don't want to . . . how do you think you can help?"
"Listen, I didn't do jack sh-"
"What the hell!? Did they just shoot someone? What does this f***ing company do?" Racing over to the door, she grabbed her backpack and shovel that were just by it.
"Hey, I'd recommend that you two get down here, won't be long 'fore they get here."
"I'm going to assume that's Mr. Ling, now come on." Blackrose said, practically jumping down the stairs. "By the way, name's Blackrose, and I don't plan on leaving this city 'til I get some answers."
Alec followed Blackrose to the first floor silently. When they got there, they saw that one of the scientists that worked in the building was shot in the leg, and was on the floor bleeding a pools-worth of blood.
"Oh my god! They already started shooting!"
Alec forgot about Mr.Ling and decided to improvise his own escape to save time. He grabbed hold of Rose's arm and pulled her into the company's parking lot. He saw a small black car parked in the second parking space from the entrance to the building, and began hijacking it. First he broke open the window to the drivers seat, he then pulled out a small knife and jammed it into the key slot, starting up the car after Blackrose got in.
"Hold on, this is going to be one hell of a ride!"
Zetta had stopped just a few feet away from where the sword was levitating off the ground. She knew where the girl was now; if she wasn't so exhausted, she would have tried to peer through the invisiblity. Instead, she was about to turn and walk over to Lily when she said to leave the girl alone. Before she did, however, Takeda revealed himself in front of where Zetta knew the girl stood.
"So you're the one who rammed into my legs, huh?" she asked, the corners of her mouth upturning slightly. She said and shook her head, glancing over to where Lily and the new arrival stood. "Honestly, I've no idea how she can help. She seems to know a lot more about this kind of stuff than me anyhow, so..." She paused, then took a few steps back and looked over to Gabriel again. "By the way, how'd you come across this place? I mean, if there's a chance somebody else can crash this party--namely, people in uniform--we might want to hurry this up or something."
Realising that the fighting had apparently come to an end and that Takeda had revealed himself, Maya decided it was safe to remove her invisibility. Her arms and then the rest of her body reappeared within a couple of seconds, faster than the previous time she had knowingly discarded the effect. She peeped round the boy's legs to get a better look at the smiling demon-woman, who now seemed a lot friendlier than before. Despite this the little girl was still glad that the kitsune was standing in front of her as she wasn't entirely sure she trusted the two women yet, especially after what had happened with Rin. Working up her courage, she called out in a quiet voice to the nearby adults before nervously ducking behind her friend again.
"Don't worry about Takeda, he's a nice fox-boy really, he just had to do that because Rin stole his ball and wouldn't give it back unless he promised to kill you!"
Maya lifted Excalibur up and then banged it down onto the floor with a clang to reinforce her point, as she did so a few bright sparks shot out of the end. She yelped but clung onto the sword regardless.
"I'unno lady." Gabriel said to the red-head after nodding to the rapt explaination of the other one. "I just wandered in here 'cause I heard gunfire, but I can't imagine anyone being around a here this early in the morning."
He saw the tiny fox-boy appear from whatever shadows he'd been hiding in, and the small asian looking girl from thin air.
"Snap, it's a regular convention of us people in here."
As they peeled out of the parking garage, Blackrose heard gunshots being fired from the windows up above. As they were speeding away from the Tao Zheng building, she heard the sound of metal piercing metal, and felt the piercing pain of a bullet hitting her shoulder. As she felt blood run down the back of her jacket, she felt the bullet still lodged in her shoulder. As the Tao Zheng building went out of sight, Blackrose decided it was time to start asking questions.
"Alright, you better know how to get a bullet out of a shoulder. Now what does that company do? Just what the hell is going on? And I'd like to at least know your name."
"OH SHIT! I don't know what to do about that bullet! Just keep your head down!"
Alec drove through a highway full of speedy cars, where most of the cops crashed trying to keep up. He then gave his phone to Blackrose and a business card.
"I need you to call this number! We're in deep trouble right now, and I have no idea where the restaurant I need to get to is!"
Lily listened to Maya and nodded. "Just as I thought." she said, turning to face Takeda again "From what your little friend is saying about a ball, I'd wager you're a kitsune, or some obscure derivative that I'm unaware of, but I'd assume works by the same rules." she said, gesticulating with her hands vaguely, subtly positioning herself in a more approachable posture. "And if you're a kitsune, you're bound to hold that promise on pain of death, so it's nothing personal, but..." she waved a hand and brought Takeda to his knees, pinning his hands to the ground with invisible bands. "Believe me, I hate to do this, but I need to be safe while I try to figure this out. Now tell me exactly what she said to you from the moment she held the ball."
Takeda yelped and pulled against the invisible binds as he was drawn to the ground. He didn't know how it was happening, but one of the women had him in a very vulnerable position.
"Uh . . . y-yes, I'm a kitsune." he said meekly. He wracked his memory for all the things Rin had said to him. "She said that she knew what I was and that I had to keep any promise I made in return for the ball. She told me about you two, that you were demons that would lead to her death soon. She said that she had forseen that there was no way I could fail, and then made me promise to try and kill you."
Rezetta made her way to the wall by the warehouse's door, lowering herself carefully to the floor. "I wonder if this whole thing with Rin and her followers has anything to do with the explosion and fires we witnessed earlier," she remarked. She dug into her pocket to get her contact lenses again, tilting her head back in order to put them in. As she was doing so, she listened closely to what Takeda was saying and couldn't help but chuckle. "Rin really isn't as clever as she made herself out to be," she said with a smile. Two demons, huh? I guess we won't have to watch our backs for a murderous little fox boy after all. She rested her head back against the wall, keeping an eye on the others and deciding to let Lily break the news to Takeda.
Maya blinked with surprise as Lily used her power to bring Takeda to his knees. While she wasn't sure whether the two women or the newly arrived man as well, were really demons, this confirmed they must have magic like her. As the boy spoke she realised that he was being held against his will, she gasped with indignation and scampered up to the kitsune to put her arm around him and give the offending adult what she hoped was a mean look.
"Hey! Leave him alone, I said he's nice! Its not Takeda who wants to kill you, that's Rin!"
Trembling slightly, she scraped the sword she held her other hand along the ground in front of her defensively, giving out a few more bright sparks. The tall woman scared her but she stood her ground, quietly hoping that Takeda would forget her earlier cowardice and not decide that she was a baby not worth being friends with.
As they continued speeding down the road, Blackrose dialed the number that Alec had told her to. As she reached the restaurant, she shouted out in a panic.
"Wait, what street are we on? I can't read Chinese!"
"Here, just give me the phone." Alec said, grabbing the phone from Blackrose.
"What's special about the restaurant we're going to? And why were the cops going after that company?" Blackrose asked, not caring if Alec was talking to someone important or not.
"And, young lady, I hate to do this" Lily said, delegating to solve the more immediately dangerous problem first. "But Rin is working through him, against his will. Now, Takeda. Did she tell you our names specifically?" She asked. Getting no answer, she assumed that was a negative. "And is it also safe to assume, that she was unaware of the fact, that Rezetta and myself, are not a pair of demons?" Takeda looked visibly surprised by the revelation. "Rezetta is only a half demon, I myself, have no demonic blood in my veins, and our new friend here has..." Lily said, pausing to contemplate the best term for describing the feeling different specials gave "The chemical tang to his scent" She decided upon "Of a magical conduit, not the fiery, spicy one of a demon, and I can hardly tell you what the scent of someone like myself or your friend, who just happen to have good breeding. Probably lettuce or damp cats." She said.
"But I'm, getting off track. None of use here make up two demons, but what Rin tricked you into doing... Into trying to murder two innocents she kidnapped. That is truly demonic behaviour, and her dearly beloved warlock, I don't believe has survived as long as he has through natural means, and they are the ones deserving to be executed by Rin's hand." Lily summarised. "And so, fair spirit. I have presented my case, and release you from my bindings. Do what you wish, that you may hold to your promise" she said, stepping back as she let the force dissipate, holding her arms out wide and looking into Takeda's eyes, open and unjudging of whatever he chose to do next.
Alec took the phone back and put the card back into his pocket.
"Mr. Kimura, the cops are chasing Blackrose and me, I hijacked a car in your parking lot sorry and one of the officers shot her! The bullet is in her shoulder but I'm a little concerned if the wound will get infected. I'm on the way to the east outskirts of Jinan to find Rin by the way. Can you give me directions on how to get there?"
"Alec... I thought I might hear from you again soon... "
The voice on the other end was weak and groggy. After a pause it continued.
"Wait.. who is Blackrose? Isn't Dr. Strauss still with you?"
Alec racked his brains for a while trying to figure out where Dr. Strauss was.
"I have no idea where Dr. Strauss is, and don't you know who Blackrose is? She's one of your patients!"
When Alec said the name "Dr. Strauss", a large amount of static was heard from Mr. Kimura's end of the phone.
"I'm afraid I can't help you with Dr. Strauss, and as for this so called "Blackrose"... I don't know every individual processed by my company, after all I no longer experiment directly myself, not after the fiasco last time we used the sword..."
Mr. Kimura coughed for a few moments, then spoke again.
"To get to the restaurant go to the centre of the city, find the TV station and turn right at the nearest crossroads. It should have a red and gold painted sign out front. I'm a little disturbed by apparent trouble with the law enforcement Tao Zheng is having, but frankly it isn't the first time thats happened and my associates knew who to... eh... send a bit of money to make the problem go away, if you know what I mean. Any more questions?"
Alec looked at the cop still following him, and saw a bullet wound appear on his head. The car crashed into another one and soon the road behind Alec was completely blocked. The police officers stopped tailing Alec, and decided to have another go the next day. He looked up above the fiery pile of crashed cars, and saw a small black helicopter.
"Oh, I see. Now all I need to know is how to take care of Blackrose's wound."
"Take her to a doctor after you've found out where Rin lives, don't risk trying to treat it yourself. It shouldn't take more than an hour to remove if it isn't serious. Anyhow, thank you again for saving my life yesterday, I hope you like the charm I gave you, the creature inscribed upon it is a kitsune, a mythical Japanese spirit. Funny story how I got it actually, when I..."
Suddenly, Mr. Kimura's voice tailed off. Alec heard the sound of a door opening then silence before the man made one last remark in a trembling voice.
"Oh my... it's... it's you."
"OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD! DUCK, HIDE, PRAY! DO something...too late."
Alec prayed, and prayed for Mr. Kim's survival, and then made a turn to the center of Jinan. It was an hour and five minute drive to the restaurant.
Alec turned to Blackrose:
"I am supposed to retrieve a sword for the Tao Zheng Bio-logical research company. I have found out that a woman named Rin is in possession of it. This restaurant is where she was last seen."
Takeda picked himself up off the ground as he felt the force released from him. What she had said all made sense, and he was willing to believe it after all that Rin had said was a lie.
He looked between all the faces in the room nervously before meeting Lily's gaze. "You're not demons," he said softly, "The deal wasn't to kill you. So we can get along, I'm sorry for what I tried to do."
The young boy smiled optimistically, putting his arm around Maya's shoulders. "Thanks," he said to her, glad to see that she had tried to stand up for him.
"That's OK" Maya replied, smiling happily at her friend's compliment. Finding that the sword was feeling increasingly heavy for her short arms, she carefully placed it on the ground in front of the adults. She was relieved to find out that the two women weren't demons after-all, and now wondered to herself what they really were, as well as the strange man who was hanging around nearby. She supposed he might be a friend of the women.
"I'm Maya and you're lucky that Takeda doesn't want to kill you, because yesterday he beat over a hundred bad guys!" the small girl said crossing her arms and taking on a serious expression. "I helped get a few too, but one of their dogs bit me." she added modestly, holding up her bandaged right arm.
"After that we went on TV and were famous but then I got sick and Rin found us and took us to her home and gave me medicine, and then she brought us here to fight you. And that's how we got here!"
As they sped along the road, Blackrose waited for Alec to hang up his phone. Before he did, she heard a loud scream, and once he hung up, he turned to Blackrose, and talked about a woman named Rin.
"Alright, I really hate to be asking all the questions, but what's so special about that sword? And what was up with that scream? How long till we get to the restaurant?" Blackrose asked Alec, wondering who was on the phone. "Oh, and what does that company do that made those cops show up?"
"I was just speaking on the phone with Mr.Kimura. He USED to work at Tao Zheng. I do not know if he is okay. Dr.Yang might have killed him or something. I cannot explain too much while I'm driving, please let me park fir-!"
Alec had crashed the car into a trash can that broke the windshield, and was spilling trash onto the man's face.
"Ew! Please remind me to avoid driving in the future."
Alec carefully "re-parked" the car into a safe location.
"Come on, we're here. The restaurant seems open, lets go check inside."
The former geologist stumbled into a restaurant similar to the bar he slept at. There were 3 people sitting in front of a bar-tender, another 4 sit at a separate table. All 7 people look strangely the same.
As Alec and Blackrose entered the restaurant, a bulky woman approached them moodily holding a small tattered notebook. Her white apron was sparklingly clean however, as was the rest of the establishment, it was evidently a place where those had a bit of cash to throw around came. The few customers who had come to eat this early in the day were neatly dressed in business suits and quietly discussing in Chinese whilst smoking expensive cigars.
"You American? You want reservation for evening, yes?"
She stamped her foot and glared at the two westerners as if by not immediately replying they were wasting her time.
"A hundred huh?" Gabriel said, leaning against the low table. "It's a good thing we can get along then."
He pulled his legs under him and sat with crossed legs.
"I'm Gabriel, Maya. Hiya Takeda." He said, nodding to the two small people standing next to each other. His gaze dropped to the sword, and something whispered Excalibur to him. He would've started if he hadn't been accustomed to these whispers.
Zetta leaned forward with her elbows resting on her legs, twining her fingers together as she studied the two kids. "Over one hundred bad guys, huh? That's quite a lot," she said mildly. "I'm Rezetta, by the way. Just call me Zetta, though," she added, then suddenly frowned. "Wait a second, Maya. Where did Rin bring you two here from? You're... Chinese, right? Your English is very good. As for that bite of yours, is it okay now?"
Before Maya could answer her, Zetta turned to look over at Gabriel and Lily. "And by the way, what exactly are we going to do with this sword? No doubt Rin and that so-called Merlin guy will be back for it sometime in the future." She then noticed that Gabriel was in fact staring at the sword, and idly wondered what was crossing his mind at the moment.
"Well, we're not going to chuck it into a bin somewhere." Gabriel said. He then tilted his head.
"Who's Rin?" He asked.
Maya was pleased that both Gabriel and Zetta had seemed to believe her lie, and she considered telling another, but couldn't think of anything interesting enough. They asked a lot questions very fast so she looked down and fiddled with her fingers for a moment before answering.
"Rin brought us from Jinan, that where me and Takeda live. She's a lady who pretends to be nice but kills people who she says are demons! She also does magic to make you move places really quickly just by holding hands with you. Though she's a baddie she did fix my arm for me so I'm better now. Are we in America?"
Although she hadn't left the warehouse since Rin's teleportation, Maya guessed by the people she had met so far that she was probably in a country where most the people were white. She knew America wasn't the only country with such people but hoped that she was right, as her mother had always told her about how rich America was and if she worked really hard one day she might go to live there. It seemed almost too good to be to true if Rin had taken her there by pure luck.
I wonder if me and Takeda could buy a house together here? she thought Would we have enough money? Maybe they would give us one?
As they walked into the restaurant, Blackrose smelled the strong smell of cigar smoke, and looked at the patrons. They were all well dressed, but oddly looked similar. As she started to look more closely at them, a husky woman approached her and Alec.
"You American? You want reservation for evening, yes?" Almost immediately after asking, she stomped her foot down in impatience. Blackrose turned to Alec in confusion.
"What is she talking about? And if we do eat here, I don't have any money. I could probably, er, "persuade" some locals out of a few dollars, but we might have to run from the cops again." Blackrose said to Alec, moving her shoulder painfully up and down, to try and keep it movable without a large amount of pain.
Alec considered what it would be like if Blackrose started a fight in the bar, and then decided not to let that happen.
"Save your breath Rose. I'm not here for food."
Alec turned back to the woman.
"I am here to find out about the whereabouts of a woman named Rin. I have been told that this is the last place that she's been seen. Do you have any info about her?"
"Nah, we're not in America." Gabriel said, still occasionally eying the sword on the ground. "I've heard plenty people speak french here. M'guessing we're in Paris or something." He scratched his head. "I'm not entirely sure how I ended up here, but there you go."
Rezetta nodded as Gabriel spoke, confirming his guess. "It's right across the ocean from the Americas," she added, just in case Maya or Takeda weren't aware. "France isn't usually this crazy," she said with a kind of wistful sigh. Zetta couldn't help but feel that if she hadn't gone to eat where and when she did for her late breakfast--something that seemed like ages ago now--she might not have gotten tangled up in this whole mess. Then she thought more on Rin and her powers, plus everything else she'd witnessed so far; it was likely she would have ended up in this situation one way or another after all.
She then turned to face Gabriel and lifted her eyebrows questioningly. "Wait a second, what do you mean you aren't sure how you got here? You didn't somehow get transported from somewhere else, did you?"