Though Maya didn't want to make Dr. Strauss even more upset, she really didn't want to go back to Rin again either. Since Lily's plan seemed less scary she took her hand unsurely whilst still looking pleadingly at Alec hoping he would tell her more about her mother. She was used to being with one parent who always knew best, several apparently nice adults who all had different intentions for her was confusing. Though she wasn't consciously aware of it, the small girl was trembling a little.
After a moment's pause the voice returned.
"The closest a human tongue could produce to my name is Y Ddraig Goch, I would come closer but I'm too large to land on this house. Incidentally from up here I can see your friends by some sort of dwelling to the east and the woman Rin as she calls herself now is there too, though they don't realise it yet. I would help them, but then she'll realise I'm here and that wouldn't be good. You might want to get there quickly, though it might be too late for you to avoid those uniformed humans I see approaching this house. Perhaps I should have mentioned that first?"
Dr. Strauss fell face-first onto the grass and lay there for several moments without moving. He wondered to himself if it would just be easier to end it now. It probably would but... he had no way of knowing if the disease would truly end with his life. After a few moments he stood up again and looked at Lily.
"I've had that coming for a long time," he said without any trace of emotion in his voice or expression, "What do you suggest then? How do you pull one over on someone who can travel through time?"
As soon as Strauss had left with Maya, Blackrose had been searching through his mind, looking for what caused him to leave suddenly, and what she found, she didn't like. She saw a note, from Rin, telling him to bring Maya with him, and to get rid of Lily, who'd just gone out to get to Strauss. The main thing that worried her was the images of Strauss's dead family that kept coming, showing her that he'd been lying to Maya. Blackrose immediately knew she had to get out there, rushing to get to the group, dropping her cigarette and knocking the food and drinks to the ground.
As she rushed outside, she saw Lily knocking Strauss to the ground, and rushed over. As she came up, she heard Strauss asking a question. "How do you pull one over on someone who can travel through time?" He said.
"Well, to stop them from coming back through time, wouldn't you just have to kill the original?" She said, pulling Lily close to her so she could whisper in her ear. "Hey, you might want to get out of here soon, I think Rin might be trying to kill you." She whispered.
Alec had the most retarded expression on his face when Maya said that this dead lady was her mother. What was he supposed to say? Lie, or upset the girl with truth? He chose a little bit of both.
"I'm so sorry. Your mother...she's severely sick. She said that she wanted me to look after you if she doesn't make it. She's still in China but she's being looked after by a great hospital. They say that she might make it but she also might not. I think it would be best if we just try to get somewhere safe for now. Let's go back to your house instead of following Strauss, he's disturbed . "
"I suggest we find her and kill her before she can do anything to us, but that hinders your chances of... Retrieving your family, so we may want to evaluate as much as possible, make a logical plan and do the opposite. Rin can predict the future, and plans for every eventuality she can, so by choosing the least likely options, we have a better chance of catching her off guard" Lily said, pausing as Blackrose whispered in her ear.
"Hey, you might want to get out of here soon, I think Rin might be trying to kill you." She stopped for a moment, and let out a laugh that was bordering on hysterical.
"Do you remember what she sent you to my friend's uncle's house with the intention of doing?" she asked "Getting the sword and killing anyone who stood in your way." Lily clarified, turning back to Strauss "Now, what she won't be expecting, is an alliance between us. So I figure that gives us our best shot. Now I can hang back while you sort out your family troubles, but the moment something goes wrong, I'm stepping in."
Maya could barely contain herself as Alec's revelation sunk in, she let go of Lily's hand forgetting the continuing dispute between the woman and Dr. Strauss and bounced a few steps closer to him. Numerous questions entered her head, which she said aloud as quickly as she could think of them.
"Is that why Mummy didn't come back to me... because she was sick and had to go to hospital?" she asked Alec, before adding "Why is she ill? Can I go see her? What is she trying to make?"
"Yes Lily, I realize this. The thing is, I don't really trust Strauss right now. Also, if Rin comes here to try and kill you, she might try and kill me as well. And I have a feeling it wouldn't be that pleasant." Blackrose said, irritated at Lily's near hysterical laughter. "Also, what do you think is taking your friends so long? What were their names again? Gabriel and Zatta?" She asked.
"The police, of course. Because today couldn't get any worse." Zetta entwined her fingers into her hair, resisting a great urge to try tearing it out. Seeing that Gabriel still hadn't said anything, she dropped her hands and motioned to wear Takeda's body still lay on the floor. "We'll have to leave my uncle; here's hoping he won't be mad enough at what I brought to this house to rat us out. We'll have to take Takeda with us, though."
Zetta bent down to scoop up the body, making sure to rearrange the coat over it so it wasn't visible. "Well, thanks for the warning, whatever you are," she said to the ceiling as she walked out of the kitchen. "C'mon, Gabe, back door's this way. We need to hurry."
"Yeah, okay." Gabriel said, staring at the ceiling as if hoping it turning transparent and showing the origin of the voice. "I guess telling the lot is out of the question anyways, right?" He glanced at Maurice and mumbled a 'sorry' even though the man was unconcious. They both exited the kitchen and were about to move down the long hallway when the silhouettes of two of the bobs appeared through the warping glass in the door and the doorbell rang. The all-too familiar sounds of sirens still sounded faintly in the distance.
"Quick, out the back." Gabriel said, pulling at Zetta's shoulder.
"Even if we had a decent story and proof, they'd take one look at me and toss me in jail. Demons aren't held in high regard here." Zetta spoke quietly as she led the way to the back door, waiting for Gabriel to open it for her since her hands were full. "Let's go, before they try around back themselves," she said as she heard somebody hammering at the front door.
Zetta took a moment to orient herself and then headed eastwards, hoping that her uncle would be smart enough to concoct a story about simple burglars or something when he woke up. After a few minutes, she spotted Maya, Lily, and the three others whose names she'd forgotten in the grass in front of a small cafe. "There they are! Maya, Lily, are you guys alright?" She stopped beside the others, awkwardly shifting Takeda's body around in her arms as she tried to make it look like she was carrying nothing at all suspicious. "Look, we've got to get going. I believe Rin's around here somewhere."
Dr. Strauss was snapped out of his momentary trance-like state when pain shot up his left arm. He snarled in pain as he hurriedly ripped the layers of gloves off of his left hand. As he did so, his arm felt like it was melting apart... yet as he removed the final layer of gloves, he saw that his left hand had stiffened, seemed as hard as wood, and had a distinctly charred look to it. He screamed in pain and horror as the realization came to him. He doubled over and hid his arm from the others.
"Forget Rin..." he said, straining to get the words out, "We... have a... bigger prob...problem. I... I need to run tests..."
He passed out.
"Uuuuuuuum, your mother, she uh, she left because she didn't want you to worry too much about her. She planned to return quickly but underestimated her illness and was stuck at the hospital much longer than she hoped. Also, I have no idea what she''s making, care to tell me where you got the idea from?"
"Okay..." Maya replied, what Alec had told her seemed to make sense, before adding accusingly "You said that she was going to make it or not make it but you haven't told me what she wants to make and..."
She didn't finish her sentence though because at that point a man's shout came from behind her and she turned to see Dr. Strauss bent over clutching his arm in pain. For the first time she noticed that Zetta and Gabriel had returned, both looking a little out of breath, she ran over to Zetta to give her a relieved hug around the legs whilst avoiding looking at the bundle the woman was holding. As she did this she continued to stare with deep fascination at the doctor's pained expression.
Strauss's odd behavior and collapse to the ground warranted a visit into his mind. The nightmare that he was going through almost made Blackrose leap out of his mind in sheer terror.
As she looked around, she saw people around her dropping to the ground, dying from horrific diseases, their skin dissolving, holes appearing on their skin. As Blackrose looked around, she saw Strauss looking at four bodies that were lying on the ground. As she went over to inspect them, she saw them quiver, then rise off of the ground, and walk over to Strauss. The three small children then began to form a circle and dance around him, singing,"Ring-a-ring-a-roses, A pocket full of posies; Ash-es Ash-es! We all fall down." While they danced around him, the woman walked up to him and whispered in his ear, as he pulled a scalpel out of his pocket, and pulled it across his throat.
As she opened up gasping, Blackrose felt the cool feel of grass underneath her hands as she pushed herself up off of the ground and over to where Strauss lay.
"Hey, can you guys help me get Strauss up? I think he's starting to wake up." Blackrose said as Strauss's eyes started to open and look about. She crouched down with her hand outstretched to help him up.
As Blackrose crouched down to help Dr. Strauss, two police cars drove up to the cafe and parked on the verge. Several officers got out and marched determinably towards the group, their hands stroking their holstered guns. Though the windows of the halted vehicles were tinted, it appeared that each still had a figure in the driving seat.
"Stop, c'est la police, nous vous avons entouré!" their leader barked, the uniformed men forming a semi-circle behind him "Mettez vos mains en l'air et descendre sur le terrain dès maintenant!"
As they approached Maya nervously clutched onto Zetta's legs again, she had no idea what language they were speaking nor what they wanted from her or the others.
"Woah, um. Okay." Gabriel said, backing away and keeping his hands visible.
"Nous .. euh, nous ne cherchons pas à faire ... euh ... mal, monsieur." He said hestitantly, desperately thinking back to the high school french lessons.
"Does anyone speak froggy properly?"
Lily groaned inwardly at Gabriel. Revealing you weren't French was a bad enough faux pas but going on to insult the nationality of your arresting officers? Not helping at all. She raised her hands and knelt down, complying with their orders
"Officiers!" She called" "Aide s'il vous plaît, cet homme est très malade. Ne le touchez pas, mais nous avons besoin d'aide" she said, gesturing towards the prone form of Strauss. If anything, he'd give a distraction that could help Lily and the others escape. He certainly hadn't done anything to warrant anything further after trying to steal Maya twice unashamedly, once to hand over to Rin of all people. She slowly reached out telekinetically to the officer's guns, and with great care, ensured that the safety catches on their weapons were in place and would firmly be so.
The leading officer's mouth twitched slightly when Gabriel spoke but otherwise didn't respond to his insult. After Lily spoke he made a brief hand gesture and barked something, one of the vecihles slowly drove closer. At closer inspection it appeared to be a small ambulance car, a couple of the policemen backed away and opened the boot, taking out a foldable stretcher which they began to take closer to Dr. Strauss.
"L'enfant et l'Amérique, vers la gauche, les autres vers la droite"
The officer briefly looked down a piece of paper he was holding before gestured with his hands to show to those who couldn't understand what he said that he wanted Maya and Alec to stand to the left of the fallen doctor and the others to stay on the right. The small girl relunctantly let go of Zetta's trouser leg and moved close to Alec, though she didn't take a hold of him. The officer then pointed at Gabriel, Lily, Zetta and Blackrose, motioning for them to kneel down.
"A genoux maintenant, vous êtes en état d'arrestation!"
As Blackrose knelt down next to Lily with her hands behind her back, she rummaged through her bag, feeling around for her two weapons. She got a grip on the weapons and started to slide them out, making sure their handles weren't in view as she leaned over to Lily.
"Hey, which would you rather have? A knife or a sledgehammer? I'd like to have the sledgehammer, but I might not be able to even swing it once. So, what's your choice?" She said, getting ready to leap at the officers at a moment's notice.
Zetta barely had time to say hello to Maya when the police showed up, roughly at the same time Strauss collapsed on the ground. Zetta turned to regard him for a moment, then turned her eyes to where the police were. "Great," she muttered, awkwardly shifting the bundle in her arms around as she tried her best to look unassuming. Were these the cops who were at her uncle's house and somehow saw her and Gabriel slipping out back? Or was this something else.
No, they can't be the ones from Maurice's house, she thought as Maya moved away from her. Zetta grimaced, kneeling down on the grass beside the others and carefully laying Takeda's body down beside her. That would be too many cops to handle an investigation at one house. Must be Rin's fault. Again. She titled her head down and fished for her contacts as she did so, managing to slip them into her eyes quickly. Hopefully, the cops hadn't noticed anything.
"Telekinesis or no, is fighting that many men with guns a good idea?" she whispered as she heard Blackrose speak to Lily. "I'm still too tired to make a suitable distraction, too."
Dr. Strauss's dreams were confused and blurry, but filled with the agonized screams of the dying.
He started muttering in his sleep.
"No... why me?" he cursed, "Is this all I can do now? No... I can't... can't let this happen... need... a cure..." He passed out again.
The leading officer nodded with approval as Zetta and Blackrose joined Lily on the ground, though he gave them suspicious looks when they whispered to each other. He and his subordinates glanced briefly at the bundle containing the kitsune's body but oddly didn't show it much interest, instead focusing their attention on Gabriel.
"Sur le terrain maintenant!" he repeated, a little louder this time, making hand gestures so it was clear he wanted Gabriel to sit down on the grass.
Meanwhile the two policemen carrying the stretcher cautiously lifted Dr. Strauss onto it with gloved hands whilst very evidently avoiding skin contact with him. By the worried looks on their faces it appeared that they were aware of the risk they were taking. Once they had placed the doctor inside the car they returned, one roughly began pushing Alec towards the parked vehicle with a scowl on his face. The other knelt down by Maya and muttered something inaudible to her in a reassuring voice then took her hand and gently started leading her away. The little girl turned her head and gazed pleadingly in wide-eyed confusion at her companions who remained on the grassy verge.
"Well, I just can't stand sitting here and have them force us around the way they want." Blackrose whispered, as the police took Alec, Strauss, and Maya towards the ambulance car. "So what do we do? Try and take down the three that are watching us while we hope that the others just try and run away in the car?" She said, worriedly glancing up as Strauss, Alec, and Maya got further and further away from them.
The officer gave Blackrose an icy glare as he looked over his shoulder to check how far his comrades had got. Satisfied that they were far enough away, he motioned for the four to turn around as a couple of the policemen reached for shiny metal handcuffs whilst he absent-mindedly stroked his gun again.
Meanwhile Alec had just been pushed into the small ambulance by the angry officer who joined him inside the vehicle. A dismayed-looking Maya followed behind and she called out in a panicked voice just as the second officer closed the car doors.
"Wait! I don't want to..."
It was too late as the doors had already been shut before she could finish her sentence. Maya tried pulling on the handle but it had either been locked or simply didn't open from the inside. Behind her the only officer inside was injecting something into Dr. Strauss whilst muttering to himself, Alec was slouched dejectedly on the other side.
They're going to put me prison!
This thought made her start breathing heavily and almost without thinking about it the cool feeling of invisibility swept over her. The relief this brought was short-lived however as the officer looked up from the doctor in confusion at the empty space where the girl had been standing, then stumbled towards her his large hands outstretched. His fingers brushed against her hair and she sunk her teeth into his palm, making him curse and step-back heavily. Still invisible, she kicked at his shins and pushed past him to the front end of the cramped space to find looking through a grill the last face that she wanted to see.
"Come on now dear, you know I can see through your little mind tricks even if he can't. Settle down and I promise we'll have you safe and sound in no time at all, unlike your friends we left behind!
Rin laughed cruelly and then winked as the ambulance sped away further and further away from the grassy verge where the others still kneeled.
As the ambulance car sped away, the remaining police began to draw out their handcuffs and start walking towards the four. Blackrose began to panic as they got close, and as they were feet away, she leaped to her feet and tackled the officer nearest to her, drawing her knife out and holding it to his neck.
"Hey, Lily, translate this for me, would ya'?" She said eying the guns that the officers had been pointing at her. She spoke to Lily, saying, "Alright, we'll be getting out of here cleanly, and you'll make no attempt to come after us. You can grab him from the alley over there once we're gone." She said, motioning to the alley behind her.
The officer who Blackrose had grabbed attempted to struggle his way out of her grip, then feeling the knife against his throat froze. The others looked surprised at the young woman's sudden move and looked expectantly at their leader for instructions.
"Ne pas oublier les ordres de Rin, ils doivent être tués ... tirez pas!"
They all simultaneously drew their guns from their holsters and attempted to fire towards the four, unaware that Lily had forced their safety catches on. The surprise on their faces only increased when nothing happened.
Meanwhile in the ambulance Rin turned to address Dr. Strauss and Alec.
"I apologise for the change in the plan, it was too risky to get you out of that situation any other way. Fortunately I was able to use my powers to collect together some of the more loyal remainders of my human followers and disguise them as the authorities. Rest assured they shall dispatch justice quickly and effectively to those who deserve it. Dr. Strauss, I hope your illness isn't too bad?"
Rin's orders... So I was right; they're working for her. "So much for getting away cleanly." Zetta got to her feet after she scooped Takeda's covered body back into her arms. It was a burden to carry, but she'd rather have her hands full than run the risk of the wrong people finding a dead kitsune. With the way things were continuing to go for her odd little group, there'd certainly be no time to give the body a proper burial. She just hoped they were able to dispose of it safely--and quickly.
"Now's probably a good time to run. And Blackrose, they're working for Rin. Might as well take out the guy you've got there." Zetta spoke quickly as she eyed the fake officers. They were still baffled by the lack of response from their guns, but it wouldn't be long before they checked the safeties. Without waiting for the others to reply, she turned and ran for the nearest building to duck behind the wall.
Best to stay out of sight and out of range until we come up with a plan of escape. Or attack, she thought as she waited to see if the others would follow her.
Dr. Strauss gasped as the strange drug coursed through his veins, he could almost feel the viruses reacting to it... but that would be ridiculous. Dr. Strauss nearly hit his head on the ceiling of the van as he got up. He looked around, and saw Alec... and... a police officer... no, it couldn't be. There's just no way I'd be that lucky.
"Rin, you need to abandon your plans for world domination," he told her simply, "What are you? A comic book villain?" He held up his apparently charred hand, "My condition is worsening. The contaminants in me could go airborne any day now. I need to find a cure. And you're going to help me... not even you could survive this." Then Dr. Strauss realized something that had been bothering him, "Where's Maya? Damn it Rin, what have you done to her?" He nearly shouted the last question.
The leading man who had been pretending to be an officer and his closest assistant continued to stare at their guns with a vaguely confused expression; however the other two were quicker on their feet. One leapt at the still standing Gabriel with his gun held above his head as if it was a club, the other advanced towards Zetta but as she fled instead switched his attentions to Lily, cracking his knuckles and flexing his arms aggressively. Meanwhile a muffled thud came the apparently empty roof of the building that Zetta sheltered by and moments later a couple of tiles tumbled down onto the ground with a clatter, as if something heavy had just landed on it.
As this was happening back in the ambulance Rin grinned toothily at Dr. Strauss.
"There's no need to be alarmed, she's standing no more than a couple of feet away from where you lie now. Amusing how such a simple trick could fool an intelligent man like you, her lack of visibility exists solely inside your head, even when viewed as a photo or on television. Reach out to your left if you don't believe me. As for your illness I can help you, as long as you help me in return... and world domination? That sounds a little dramatic even for me, my plan will have world-wide implications but I'll tell you everything once we're safely back at my center of operations: the Ark."
The woman then turned her attention to Alec.
"I'm glad you've made it here too, even though I had to step in here's your payment for a sucessful mission accomplished."
She took a few bundles of notes and threw them through a small gap at the dazed-looking American.
"I think they're euros, I got my loyal group you saw back there to steal a few bags from a bank at the same time as when they picked up these vehicles. Should be enough there to live off for a while and there will be greater rewards if you can do what I need. So tell me, can you use a corpse to speak with the spirit of the person even after many days have passed?"
"Aw hell no." Gabriel muttered as the gun-would-be-club wielding man-would-be-officer advanced on him. He frantically dug into his pockets, finally emerging with a hand full of dark powder. He threw it in the air right in front of him, and the man flinched evasively. Gabriel quickly pulled his sleeve over his hand and thrust into the air. The man was suddenly covered by a cloud of thick smoke. He dropped his gun, and started to scream, all the while brushing off invisible things off his arms and legs.
"Gotta love spell components." Gabriel whispered quietly to himself as he shook his sleeve, attempting to get the powder off it and eying the two gents that were yet to realise that their guns wouldn't work.
"Voulez-vous vraiment de le faire?" Lily asked the officer, speaking to him and the others around him. "We've already made your weapons useless" switching back to English. Their English should have been good enough to understand her next sentence. "Do you really think we can't make you worse than that? This is your one warning. Vous tous. Run."
The man who Gabriel had thrown powder over screamed and shuffled backwards on the ground rubbing his arms and legs as if trying to remove something. The other attacker glanced between Lily and his floored comrade, looking a lot less sure than he had a few seconds before. A final look at Lily's self-assured expression was enough to make up his mind and he fled from the scene, along with the assistant who had still been inspecting his gun. This left apart from the two followers who had been incapacitated by Gabriel and was Blackrose's hostage respectively just one remaining opponent, the leader of the group. He held up his broken gun in the air slowly.
"Okay... I surrender" he said in heavily accented English "Please let go my friend go and we will go away. Maybe Rin will have mercy and forgive us for our failure." his eyes flicked up to the rooftops above where Zetta sheltered "Don't think this is over for you, I get feeling we all being watched by her."
Meanwhile Maya listened to the conversation between Rin and the others, she felt pleased that Dr. Strauss had asked about her and would have liked to remove her invisibility so he knew she was okay but she didn't want the unfriendly officer to know where she was. She moved closer to the doctor and tugged on his coat whilst carefully avoiding skin-contact.
"I'm here" she whispered "Please don't let the police take me to prison, I'm really sorry I stole lots of things but I would have had nothing to eat if I hadn't. Why is Rin here, does she work for them?"
"I think," Strauss whispered back to the invisible Maya without moving his mouth or taking his eyes off Rin, "they work for Rin... this isn't good."
Then, so Rin could hear, "Rin, damn it. Don't you get it? If my condition gets any worse, everyone will be dead. The viruses and bacteria running through my system could go airborne any day now if my arm is any indication."
"What the...?" Zetta, who had just been peeking around the building to see what the others were doing, jumped as she heard a heavy thud on the rooftop above her. She glanced up in time to see a few tiles fall from the roof and stepped to the side to avoid being hit in the head. Was it another present from Rin?
From back where the others will still standing, she heard the scream of one of the fake officers and the faint voice of Lily and, a moment later, another of the officers. Zetta pursed her lips, wondering if she should go back to them. She looked back up at the roof above her and remembered what happened back in her uncle's house. Perhaps...
"Are you that voice from earlier?" she called out. "Something Goch, right? I don't suppose you're here to help us get our friends back?"
Alec was dizzy from all of the commotion. He was still in disbelief of what just happened. He took the money and talked in a tired voice hoping Rin would
STFU give him some quiet time.
"Yes, I could talk to the dead through their corpses, and I could see unborn children as long as the target has a soul or an almost developed brain. I don't think I have the energy to go through talking to the dead more than once per week and I already did that. Please let me get some sleep, I'm really confused and I just want to get this over with and bring Maya to stay with me."
Alec turned to where he thought Maya was and assured her that he didn't mean it in a creepy way.