Tatsumi ga Kiru!
Arc II: Chapter 5
"Back in Business"
The morning had come and Tatsumi arrived to find Bulat in the training ground. His body was working like clockwork, muscles and arms swinging with wooden polearm in hand. His movements were strong and swift, easily cutting through thick logs like they were nothing. Judging by the glistening sheen on his skin, he had likely been training for quite a while.
'I never noticed it before, but Aniki really is impressive.' Tatsumi thought as he leaned against the wooden beam next to him, watching as Bulat continued his training, still unaware of his presence. Or he likely was and didn't seem to care. 'His stance barely has any holes. And he can easily counterattack. His brute strength is pretty much his biggest strength.'
And also his greatest weakness. Tatsumi likened him to a tank. Powerful, but not quite slow. He was pretty fast. Not as fast as Akame, but still fast. However, an opponent with enough cunning and power, such as General Liver who had more than a few tricks up his sleeve, could find a way to penetrate such defenses.
Didn't make him any less of a dangerous opponent. Especially with sheer willpower and determination at his disposal.
He was the strongest guy Tatsumi had ever known. Someone he admired and looked up to. Someone he honored the memory of with Incursio. Or rather Imperius now, he should say. Speaking of which, he needed to figure out what else there was to learn about his new power. So far, he learned that it enhanced his senses drastically, as well as increase his physical attributes. He was also still capable of creating Incursio's armor. Other than that, though, he didn't know much.
If he was going to be fighting the Empire and succeed in preventing Purgatorio from being released...then he was going to need to learn everything there was to know about these powers.
He refused to let the tragedy happen again. He will stop Purgatorio's release. No matter what. He will ensure that his friends will live to see the Revolutions success.
With a herculean swing, Bulat spun in a 360, slashing straight through every log around him. Dust kicked into the air with such a swing before it settled. Then the logs fell over, cut down straight through the core. With a heavy sigh, Bulat ran his arm over his forehead, wiping away the sweat. "Now that was a workout." he said before he looked over at Tatsumi, proving he had noticed his presence, and smirked. "What did you think, Tatsumi? You in love with these muscles yet?"
"I am, but for a whole reason." Tatsumi smiled back. "Nice form, by the way. How long did it take you to get so ripped?"
"About a decade's worth of training, courtesy of my old general." Bulat paused for a moment, putting a hand to his chin as if he were in deep thought. Then he turned back to Tatsumi. "Is Akame or Leone up yet?"
Tatsumi shook his head. "Nope. Akame's out like a light and Leone is watching Sheele so she doesn't burn down the base."
"Ah." A glint passed through the 100 Man Slayer's eyes before an excited grin formed his handsome face. "Say, Tatsumi...how do you feel about a spar?"
"I thought you'd never ask." The brunette grinned in anticipation, grabbing a practice sword. Bulat nodded. Tatsumi leaped unto the training feet, feet pounding into the earth before he turned. "What are the rules for this match?"
"Not going all out, for starters. It'll be a simple spar between us men. Secondly, whoever scores first blood wins. Third, no dirty tactics. Hand to hand, however, is allowed."
"Don't all assassins use dirty tricks, though?"
Without warning, Bulat closed the gap between them. With his heightened senses, Tatsumi blocked it with ease, slamming his wooden blade against the polearm. The dirt around them was kicked up into the air from the resulting shockwave from the impact. The burly man was pressing forward, yet the unstoppable force met the immovable object.
"...this is just a regular spar between hot blooded men! Now let's see your fightin' spirit, Tatsumi!"
A feral grin formed across Tatsumi's face, green eyes shifting to red. "With pleasure!"
He broke off the blade lock and swung at Bulat's throat. The former soldier intercepted and parried the strike before countering with his own. Tatsumi sidestepped out of the way and dropped to the ground at an attempt for a leg sweep. Bulat jumped over it and followed up with an overhead strike. Deftly, he twisted his body at an angle, avoiding the polearm before Bulat landed on his feet, going in for a elbow strike to the throat. Tatsumi retaliated by blocking it and pushing him back with his foot. He needed to be careful, however. Unless he controlled his strength, he could accidentally kill the poor man.
And it would've been counterproductive to his cause.
Bulat skidded across the ground before recovering and charging back into the fray. With a spin, he struck at an angle, bringing the polearm down on his shoulder. Were it not for Imperius toughening his body and he already hardened by battle, the blow would have demolished his shoulder. Instead, it was a nuisance to him and shrugged it off, retaliating by slamming the butt of his practice sword into Bulat's gut. It served to disorientate him before he went in for a final blow, bringing his sword behind him and going in for a straight swing.
Bulat, however, would not back down so easily.
He brought up he shaft of his weapon to block the strike. He then let the attack roll past him putting him in striking distance. Slamming his foot for some extra umph, he rammed the polearm into Tatsumi's chin, nearly causing him to bite his tongue. The power behind the strike was enough to make him stagger and disoriented. He shook his head as Bulat came in for the deciding blow. Lifting his body into the air for a little extra power, he twisted his body around and twirled the polearm and sync. Simply put, his body was spinning in mid-air and was going for an overhead strike that would cause his head to bleed.
Tatsumi was not to be underestimated. His eyes flared and he soon retaliated, intercepting the strike with a swing of his sword. Bulat was surprised when the brunette had managed to recover so quickly, but before he could think of a way to get out of this situation, Tatsumi closed the distance between them. He let his sword drop and grab hold of the polearm, tugging on it and dragging Bulat forward. Then he slammed his fist straight into the man's handsome mug and sent him flying.
Bulat crashed to the ground before he rolled up on his feet. "Ow..." he groaned, rubbing his face. "Damn, Tatsumi... I thought you nearly broke my nose for a second."
"Shame. I would have scored first blood."
"Well, it's unfortunate you had not." Rubbing his nose, Bulat smirked. "So, Round 2?"
"Sure." Tatsumi replied, kicking his sword up into the air and grabbing it before he wagged his fingers. "Try to keep up, old man."
"Hey, hey, I'm not that old you cheeky brat."
With friendly banter out of the way, the two charged at one another once again.
"So it ended in a draw, huh?" Leone remarked as Night Raid gathered in the main hall. "That's a shame. I would have hoped Tatsumi got cut at least once."
Tatsumi smirked back at her. "Still mad about having to spend the day with Lubbock?"
"Yes, actually. And beware that one day, Tatsumi you handsome and cruel bastard you, I will have my revenge."
Najenda had called them up, though Tatsumi had a pretty fair idea as to why. It was either about Esdeath or Zank. Time travel was still so confusing, but he read enough books and manga, a few of which he borrowed from Lubbock, that usually there was a few consequences. Namely, events being delayed, changed or sped up. For all he knew, Esdeath would return to the Capital much earlier than anticipated. Or Zank would have already been stopped. It was one of the many reasons why he was so nervous. Something that Akame noticed as he shifted about uncomfortably and in anxiety.
"Are you okay, Tatsumi?"
"Yeah. Just a bit antsy about whatever Boss has to tell us."
The doors leading into the room were thrown open and Najenda entered, her face gaunt and serious. Already, Tatsumi heard warning bells going off in his head. "Welcome back, Boss." Lubbock greeted his obvious crush. "What's on the agenda for today?"
"As much as I would like to say I have good news, I'm afraid I don't." the woman replied grimly. "I just got word." She sat down on her chair and proceeded to light a cigar, which she took a long whiff of before blowing a large cloud of smoke. "The Northern Campaign has concluded... General Esdeath is on her way home."
Yep. He fucking called it. Esdeath was coming back to the Empire early.
'Ah, great...' he mentally groaned whilst everyone else looked alarmed. 'This should be fun.'
"But that can't be!" Leone shouted in dismay, clearly disturbed by the fact that the most cruel and sadistic general in the continent returning home. "There's no way she could be back this early!"
"If it were anyone else, perhaps." Najenda conceded. "However, Esdeath is quite powerful. Honestly speaking, that took longer than I thought it would. She's expected to return to the Capital within two weeks. We have until then to complete our more urgent requests. Once she's returned, we lay low for a while whilst undertaking on jobs with less risk. Is that understood?"
No one rejected the idea. They all knew better. Tatsumi wasn't really worried about laying low. He could do that. What he worried about was what he was going to do when he met Esdeath again. While he liked to think himself rather manly, there was no preparing for the sadist yet beautiful and surprisingly soft woman that was the Ice Queen. When they first met, Esdeath had more or less fallen in love with him because he wasn't from the Empire, he had a winning smile, was younger than her, and wasn't in the military.
With the whole incident with Purgatorio, more of her positive traits began to shine through. Don't get him wrong, though. She was still sadistic...but overall she was more like a comrade to them.
To Tatsumi, though...she might have been a little more. Much like the rest of the women in his life.
'Who knows? Maybe I can convince her to join the Revolutionary Army this time around?' Tatsumi thought optimistically before it turned sour. 'Yeah...fat chance of that.'
There was absolutely no chance of her defecting the Empire voluntarily. In the Empire, she was able to indulge in her sadistic nature through torture or fighting powerful foes through conquest.
There was no way for her to walk away from all of that to join the Revolutionary Army.
He tried to do that once. It ended with a slap to his face and Esdeath apparently wanting him even more for his naivete. The idea that he could make her leave now with this second chance was pretty much stupid. The only real way to get her to leave the Empire would be for Purgatorio to be set loose again, and it was going to be a cold day in hell before he ever allowed that.
"Speaking of urgent missions, we have a new one." Najenda broke the brunette away from his thoughts, looking at Night Raid's leader. "There have been reports of serial murders happening in the Capital. According to sources, the victims all had their heads chopped off. And if eye witnesses are anything to go by...the killer in question was Zank."
Tatsumi scowled slightly. "The executor?" he asked, even if he already knew the answer. "The guy who went nuts cutting off heads for a living?"
"So you're well informed. That's good. Yes. He worked in the prison executing prisoners by beheading them. Due to the Prime Minister, there was no sharotage of prisoners on Death's row. Eventually, he grew to love beheading people." Najenda nodded.
Mein wrinkled her nose in disgust as she folded her arms. "I've heard he even went insane from cutting off so many people's heads. I guess he wasn't satisfied with chopping off death row inmates."
"How do we deal with him?" Lubback inquired. "If the reports are accurate, he doesn't stay in one place. He's constantly on the move in the Capital."
"Indeed. And the fact he stole a Teigu from the prison Warden makes him even more of a threat."
"Do we know which one?" Bulat asked.
"We are unsure as if yet."
But he did. And it was going to be a pain in the ass. Thankfully, his senses would make up for that optical illusion of Zank's. He wasn't going to catch him off guard by taking on Sayo's appearance again!
'Sayo...' The brunette then remembered something vital, nearly slapping his forehead. 'Right! I still need to check up on her and Ieyasu!' He made a mental note to drop by the clinic and hope they would recover soon. He didn't want to lose his friends. Not again. Still, the thing with Zank came first. With that in mind, "So how do we catch him?" Tatsumi asked. "Ask around discreetly or wait for him to come to us?"
Najenda smirked. "Funny you should say that..."
"So we got partnered together, huh? I wonder if this is fate... Or maybe just karma for you, Tatsumi~"
Tatsumi rolled his eyes. Time had changed again for him. Instead of Akame, he was with Leone and currently investigating the Capital. Or more accurately, they were acting as bait. He was unsure how things would go down this time, as he was partnered with the brawler of the team instead of their strongest assassin. Not to mention he is unsure how Leone could handle against Zank. Akame was able to handle him because she was not only quick on her feet, but also because the man had underestimated her. He tried to use Kurome's image against her. The idea that she couldn't harm her dear sister. He was wrong. And it costed him. More so when she had defeated him even when he knew what her moves would be. Tatsumi could barely recall that battle, though it was still engraved into his mind among many others. A testament of how a battle between two Teigu users would end.
Leone was a full-on brawler. She fought with her heart on her sleeve. That could be used against her. More important was the fact that Zank was a fighter who read his opponents like a book, in no small part because of Spectator. He could also use someone from her past to hinder her, but off the top of his head, Tatsumi couldn't think of who that would be. As far as he knew, she was just someone from the slums who got scouted because she kicked the asses of a bunch of nobles bullying children for sport. Perhaps there was something more there, but what he didn't know.
As for him... Fuck, it could have been anyone from his life. If he were being honest, he was a tad bit afraid of fighting Zank. Mainly because of what the man might dig up inside his head.
If worse came to worse, he'd have to introduce the man to the overwhelming terror that was Imperius.
"So boring..." Leone groaned. "Why can't we just hit up a bar before we actually start our job?"
"Do you want Boss to chew you out while creaking her arm?" Tatsumi asked her, causing her to glare at him and stick her tongue out at him. He smiled, noting how nostalgic this felt. Of course, it also made his heart ache, knowing what kind of future might lay in store for them. "Hey, just bringing up the fact. Plus, I think you'd want to be sober when we fight Zank."
"Well, we don't know what Teigu he has, so it's better safe than sorry, right?"
"Yeah, I guess...But waiting around is soo booooooring...~" She whined.
Tatsumi shook his head. He couldn't really say he missed this aspect of Leone though. It was just who she was. A thrill-seeker at heart. And, if what Lubbock implied was of any consideration, very wild when with a lover. Not that he would know. And he was pretty sure Leone was still a virgin. Unless she had someone she used to fancy, but he doubted it. If anything, it would be more like a one-time fling. And she even told him that she hadn't had anyone she considered "lover" material until him, evident by her marking him. On that note, he rubbed his ear - the spot where she had given him a small nibble and where she laid claim to her territory.
He wondered what she would be like if she was ever fully fused with her Teigu, and not just partially. Hell, he wasn't even entirely sure if he was fully fused. After all, he had been partially merged with it when he forced Incursio to evolve back at his execution. Then it was forcibly evolved and revealed in its truest form in the final battle against Purgatorio.
Speaking of which, was it just his imagination, or was Leone wearing perfume? She smelled...nice.
"Nope. Not wearing any. But thanks for saying that~"
Crap, he said that out loud, didn't he?
"Sorry." he apologized. "Didn't mean to invade personal space."
Leone grinned as she waved him off. "Oh, it's fine! Really." she insisted. "Anyway, Tatsumi, I've been meaning to ask you something." For some reason, that mischievous smile on her face unnerved him. What she said next nearly made his heart stop. "Are you a virgin?"
"W-what?" Thankfully, he hadn't raised his voice. Unfortunately, he was still flustered. 'Dammit!' he cursed himself. 'I should know by now I can never be prepared for this crap!' "W-w-why are you asking?"
"Just curious. You've got a handsome face, a nice personality..." she paused briefly before her eyes turned lecherous, practically undressing him with her sight alone. "And a rocking bod, if what I saw in the springs means anything. Not to mention a nice sexy ass."
Tatsumi shuddered, suddenly feeling violated. He had thought Lubbock was bad as a pervert, but obviously he was wrong. He should have known by now that Leone, when she wanted to, could be much worse than he was. She made that much perfectly clear just now. He still felt as if he were being undressed. Strangely, however, he felt his body starting to grow hot. Was it just his imagination, or was there something else in the air? It smelled sickly sweet, almost like honey. And it was flowing from Leone.
He took a moment to compose himself and tried to calm himself down. "I'm...still a virgin." he admitted. "Back home, there was never a girl that caught my interest. And the closest thing I had to a girlfriend - that is, a friend who was a girl - was Sayo, and she was more like my best friend. Same with Ieyasu."
Leone blinked. Then her face morphed into something like disbelief. "...are you serious?" she asked in almost a whisper. "No way. I've seen what you're packing."
"And you are making my opinion of you more and more low, Leone."
The blonde brawler grinned as she folded her arms beneath her ample bosom, causing them to bounce. Tatsumi's eyes drifted to them for a moment before he looked back at his friend. "Oh, come on. Call me Big Sis!"
'Big Sis.' That was what he always used to call her back then as a newbie. Back in those innocent, youthful days. He wasn't going to lie. He wished he could go back to those days. But that was a fool's wish. Such days were dreadful nonsense. It was impossible to go back to them. Especially with what he knew. What he came back from. What he was trying to prevent.
"I don't think it's really appropriate for me to be calling you Big Sis." Tatsumi told her. "Even if you are older than me."
"Then what do you want to call me?"
A lot of things, but none of which he could say out loud. He was thankful that they were now straying away from their previous topic.
"Actually, never mind. Let me change the subject. Who's got a more hot bod? Me, Boss, Mein or Sheele?"
...oh god dammit. Was she the one with Spectator and not Zank?! He swallowed a lump of saliva, trying to rack his brain for an answer. Squirming where he stood, he racked his brain for an answer. That sweet smell from Leone was making it very hard to focus. Leone seemed to notice how flustered he was and grinned, almost victoriously, as she took a step forward. As a result, her assets bounced. This time, she caught him staring. Her smirk grew wider.
"Pretty big, huh?" she asked as if she was proud of the rather stout size of her melons. "I'm not as big as Sheele or the Boss is, though. I'm just a few sizes shy from Sheele and Boss is a G." Tatsumi choked. A G?! 'No, wait a minute! Evil thoughts, begone!' he all but screamed in the hopes lecherous thoughts wouldn't take hold. Leone, however, was making it very difficult for him. "And they're nice and firm, too~ Of course, the last guy who tried to cop a feel ended up losing his hands. You?" She giggled, taking another step forward. Now she was merely centimeters away from him, her chest almost touching his chest. "I think I'll make an exception."
'W-why is she doing this?' Tatsumi thought, startled while his mind was slowly being pulled into a haze. 'She was never this forward before, was she?' No, she definitely wasn't. Also, was it just his imagination, or was her breasts much bigger than he remembered? He could see the bustline and the void that laid within. Slowly, his eyes drifted down to her slender waist, which only gave way to the wide and curvy hips that she had absolutely no shape in taunting. Then to her slender, meaty long legs that could probably crush a man's skull when in between her thighs and then to the only article of clothing keeping her private area hidden. Then he looked at her face. Heart-shaped with cheeks dusted in red, eyes slightly misty with a grin that seemed off.
Then Tatsumi finally registered what the smell was. And his brain began to short circuit.
"You know, it's weird..." Leone said rather huskily. She took one last step, her body bushing up against him. A jolt of electricity ran down his back, causing him to shudder. Her slender and surprisingly soft hand then began to rub against his chest, feeling up the impressive muscles he had developed beneath his shirt. "I'm not usually so open, but you have this... scent on you. I'm not sure what it is." Her face drifted to his left side, lips so tantalizingly close to his lobe. "Right here. So sweet and familiar. It kinda makes me want to make you mine, you know?"
"L-Leone?" he gasped. He hadn't realized he wasn't breathing right. And why were his hands shaking. "A-are you-" He yelped as the blonde proceeded to then gently bite down on his ear lobe. Just hard enough to draw blood.
"Being so close... Fuck, Tatsumi." Leone panted. "You have no idea how close I am to just dragging you off to a hotel. Actually, scratch that. I just might drag you to the alley back there and make you mine. I don't know if I can handle that raunchy smell of yours~!"
'She's not the only one!' Tatsumi bit the inside of his mouth. He could feel something rising in his chest. His body was getting hotter. And his pants felt tighter. There was something in the back of his mind screaming at him. Telling him to take her. To mark her. But he resisted such thoughts. That wasn't right. This whole situation wasn't right! He really needed to get away from her. Any sooner, and it would be HIM taking her.
"L-look, why don't we-"
Then the sexually charged atmosphere faded almost instantly as a new smell registered in both of their nostrils. One that immediately put the two on guard and step away from each other. Leone's muscles tensed and raised her arms, Teigu roaring to life while Tatsumi brandished his sword, pupils becoming cross-shaped slits.
There was blood in the air. Lots and lots of blood. Stained upon rusting metal.
"I think..." Tatsumi said. "We found our man."
Leone nodded in agreement, smiling viciously. "I think we did too."
"Oho? And who do we have here? A couple having lecherous thoughts? A couple hunting after me? How absolutely delightful~" A male voice echoed through the night. Stepping into view was a large man, muscular in form and his clothes doing little to hide it. Messy blonde hair with ear mufflers strapped together, joining together with the bizarrely shaped head equipment on his forehead, resembling a closed eye. It was right on the mark, as it was none other than the Imperial Arms known as "Spectator." In each of the man's hand was a silver blade, sharp yet showing signs of rust. The madness reflected in the man's eyes also demonstrated how...unstable he was, coupled with the manic grin on his face.
It would be a cold day in hell before Tatsumi could ever forget the face of this man.
"Zank the Executioner, I presume?" Leone asked as she cracked her knuckles. "We're Night Raid. Case you don't know. And we're here to kill ya before Esdeath comes home."
Zank laughed. "Is that so?" he asked, tilting his head. "Then please! By all means! Come and take my head!" A pause. Then he showed movement. In seconds, Tatsumi reacted and repelled him, closing the distant in the blink of an eye and blocking his blades from even reaching Leone. "Just give me your head as compensation!"
Scowling, power coursed through Tatsumi's body. Unknown to him, scales started to form along his arms. "Back off!" With a shrug, he threw Zank away, leaving the man to fly through the air. Much to his disappointment, though, he landed on his feet like an expert acrobat and raised his head, face reveling in madness as Spectator's eye opened, shining bright green. Tossing his sword away, Tatsumi allowed even greater power to form. "Awaken! Imperius!"
Familiar heavy armor encased his being. Emerging into his hand was a bloody red blade, larger than himself. Leone rushed past him, claws sharpened and ready to take Zank's head as she leaped into the air and reared her arm back, ready to deliver a blow. Zank, however, had dashed her hopes and defended against her by crossing his blades, intercepting her claws. Sparks flew between their faces before Leone was forced back when Zank kicked her in the stomach. As she skidded back, ignoring the pain in her abdomen, Zank lunged and swung his arm straight at her head. The blonde ducked to all fours, letting the blade fly straight over her head before pushing herself unto both hands and swing her legs upward like an arrow.
Zank pulled his head back, quickly stepping away. Then he looked up to find Tatsumi in mid-air, hands grasping Neuntote with both hands. With a primal roar, Tatsumi swung. "Die!"
The madman just barely managed to bring up his defenses in time, blocking the attack. The force behind it, however, caused the blades to crack and throw him straight off his feet, hitting the ground with his back and sliding away. Once he stopped, he flipped himself up to his feet and found Tatsumi and Leone standing together, ready to come at him again.
"Hahahaha! Incredible! Such bloodthirsty thoughts!" Zank laughed. "You two really are like me, aren't you?!"
Leone frowned in distaste. Such words were quite insulting. "I don't see how we're alike. You just murder whoever you feel like. You got a fetish for chopping off heads or something that we should know about?"
"Oh, you know me so well~ I've gotten off on the adrenaline I get when I sever someone's head from their shoulders. I see into their expressions and wonder what they were thinking as they died. It just makes me so happy~ That curiosity~"
Tatsumi scoffed. "You really need a new hobby."
"Maybe." Zank chuckled before his eyes settled on him. "You, though... I get this feeling you're like me. No, maybe more than that. Tell me, do you hear them?"
"The voices. The voices of the people you cut down. Their final words to you in their last moments." Zank looked up at the starry night sky, his eyes growing distant for a moment before they turned somber. Then crazed. Then somewhere between the two. "I hear them. Even when I block them out, I can hear them. Screaming. Damning. Cursing. It's also so maddening...but also so beautiful." He then returned his gaze to Tatsumi, a toothy grin on his face as he tilted his head. "I saw some pretty interesting stuff in your head. So much death. So much blood. Surely, you hear them too!"
For a moment, the brunette was quiet. Leone looked at him, about to tell him to ignore Zank's mumbling before he responded. "...I don't hear them. But every time I close my eyes, I see them. Not the people I killed. They're people I'd kill over and over again if I had the chance. What I see...are the people who died. The people I called my friends." He took a deep breath, the grip on Neuntote never failing. "Every time I close my eyes, even when I blink, I see their dead bodies on the ground. They're burned into my mind. So no, I don't hear the voices of the people I've killed. I see the faces of the people I've failed."
"Is that so...?" Zank murmured before laughing. "Ah, oh well. It doesn't matter! I'm curious about what thoughts you'll have when I take your head!"
Leone scowled. "So he reads minds. Fucking fantastic." she growled. "Any ideas, Tatsumi?"
"'Well, one idea is to overpower him and kill him before he has a chance to react', is what you're thinking, right?!" Zank proclaimed.
Tatsumi was not amused. "Well, that was what I was thinking." he admitted, with much annoyance. "But I got a better idea."
"Forget thinking. Just go with your instinct. Run wild."
A growl escaped his throat. His felt something primal rise up from the back of his mind. His body ached, his throat ran dry. Something inside of him wanted something. He knew what it was. The beastly part of him that was starting to emerge. And he would be more than happy to let it run wild.
Leone blinked. But soon her smile turned almost sadistic, matching even Esdeath in measure. "Music to my ears!"
Rather than thinking their way through and strategizing, the best option to take on a mind reader is to do the unexpected.
Both assassins rushed forward in a frenzy.
Zank was startled, unable to hear any of the two's thoughts. Just the same primal roars of their respective Teigu's influences taking hold over them. The first to reach him was Leone, who came at him like a tiger after her prey. He dodged to the left, evading her but unable to see Tatsumi coming at him. When he did, he barely had enough time to react by throwing himself to the floor, leaving Neuntote to bury itself into the ground. Tatsumi nearly lost his grip as he skidded to a stop, whipping his head around at Zank. The executioner quickly scrambled to his feet when he saw the assassin grab his sword with both hands and pull.
'He's swinging the sword, even though it's buried in the earth?!' Zank thought in shock. 'His Teigu's physical strength must be insane!' Quickly, he jumped back. It didn't save him from being scraped in a few places by the flying shards of debris, however. He then saw Leone charging at him with her claw's brandished. He moved his upper body to the right, avoiding the strike, only to find her hand coming up to his head and holding it firmly in place before she pulled him in and slammed her knee in his face, smashing his nose in the process.
He felt the cartilage buckle as blood fished out. Before he could cry in pain, Leone grabbed his head and slammed it to the ground. The ground cracked beneath it. He felt his bones creaking. Gritting his teeth, he swung his blade at her, slicing open her cheek and causing her to move back. As he stood up, he rubbed his neck and rolled his head, cracking the various cricks in it. "They really are relying on instinct..." he muttered, almost fascinated. "I don't hear anything from them!"
He returned to reality when he found himself hidden in shadow. Looking up, he found the source: Tatsumi coming down right above him, bloody sword primed to run him through. He hastily leaped back to avoid being bisected.
"And they're movements are so sporadic, I can't tell their muscle movements!" As he touched the ground, he looked up to find Tatsumi already on the move, his sword brandished once more and charging at him at full speed. "In that case, let's see how you handle facing the person you love the most!" With a wicked grin, Spectator's eye burned.
Tatsumi's vision blurred. For a moment, he felt his body fail to respond. However, it was only brief and barely even lasted a second. Suddenly, Zank was gone from his vision. Instead, in front of him, was a beautiful woman with aqua blue hair that fell down past her shoulders with a beautiful set of similar colored eyes, garbed in a white military uniform that exposed her cleavage and showed off a demonic insignia.
General Esdeath. The Ice Empress. The Strongest General, second only to Budo.
For a moment, Zank had thought his victory was guaranteed. After all, who could cut down their loved one? Certainly not anyone he's met so far. They've always hesitated at the last moment and he's always claimed their head.
Then he found blood splashing against his face... But it wasn't Tatsumi's. It took him a moment to realize that it was his own blood and that the left side of his body felt light. Tatsumi was also nowhere in front of him. Had he vanished? His arm felt so warm, but... Why couldn't he feel it?
'...No! It couldn't be!'
He looked down. His left arm was gone and in its place was a bloody stumb. Screaming in pain, he grabbed it and whirled around behind him, finding Tatsumi holding his severed limb, red eyes burning beneath the helm. "H-how?!" he hissed. "You should've seen a loved one in front of you!"
"I did." Tatsumi confirmed, causing the man to gape.
"You didn't even hesitate to cut them down?!"
"It wasn't that I wasn't afraid to cut them down." Tatsumi threw the limb away, spinning Neuntote around before aiming its tip at Zank. "It's that, if I really were fighting the person you just showed me... She wouldn't have lost an arm. She would have blocked me and countered with the intent to kill." The sole fatal flaw of what Zank had showed him. Were it Sayo or Ieyasu, yes, he would have hesitated. But he made the mistake of showing him Esdeath. Someone from the Jaegers. If he had showed him anyone from the Empire or Night Raid, he wouldn't have hesitated in the least, for he had confidence that they would have met him with equal measure. "That was your mistake. Don't you think so too...?"
Zank's eyes narrowed in confusion before he realized he had forgotten someone. However, it came too little, too late, as he suddenly felt his chest being ripped apart and blood burst forth from a gaping hole in his chest.
"D-Dammit...!" He was so preoccupied listening to Tatsumi, that Zank didn't even register the other assassin until just now. He got distracted, and it cost him.
As his body fell to his knees, Zank realized that he couldn't hear anything anymore. He didn't hear his knees hitting the floor, nor the sound of blood splashing to the ground. Even as his vision started to waver, watching Tatsumi disengage Imperius and Leone walking past him, he couldn't hear anything.
Not even the voices. Those damnable voices.
"How...delightful..." He laughed before a smile touched his face before his body fell to the ground, unable to support him any longer. "Thank you...both..."
Then Zank died in peace, finally free of the damnable voices that had plagued him from the moment he took his first life.
"Well done." Najenda praised the two upon the return, Teigu in hand. "Both of you. I'm quite impressed."
"Ah, don't be." Leone waved a hand in dismissal. "Zank was easy~ Though that Teigu of his really was a pain in the ass. I don't like people reading my thoughts."
"That's why we had to be cautious." Tatsumi added. "It's a good thing we were able to just fight instinctually."
Mein huffed. "So you basically just fought like animals." she said with slight distaste. "I expected that much from Leone, but not you, Tatsumi!"
"Oho?" Tatsumi grinned. "Is that your way of saying you want me to be more gentlemanly? Or would you prefer exclusive treatment?"
"T-that isn't what I meant and you know it!"
Sheele giggled. "Ah, young love..."
"IT IS NOT LOVE!"
"But I proposed to you, didn't I?"
Mein's face turned cherry red, unable to spit anything out. She let out a low growl, glaring at the boy while Leone laughed, wrapping an arm around his shoulder. "I swear, you are the only person who can fluster her so bad." she said, clearly pleased by his work. "I've been trying to break that haughty shell of hers! You gotta show me how sometime!" Tatsumi chuckled as he scratched his cheek, but then stiffened when a familiar scent flooded his nose, causing him to internally panic. 'Are you serious?!' "Maybe...in private~"
"Leone..." Tatsumi groused out, trying to remain as composed as possible as to not draw attention. "Be honest. Did you mark me earlier when you bit my ear?"
"Yes I did~"
"Why? We met only a few months ago."
"We did, but like I said earlier..." Leone smirked. "There's this scent about you that I just can't resist. It's strange. It's the first time I've been feeling like this...but that smell of yours. It feels familiar for some reason."
"Familiar...?" He questioned. How was that possible. Technically, he never met her in this timeline until a few months ago. Why would he be familiar to her? 'Wait,' he thought, troubled. 'Is this also because of Gaea?'
"By the way, Tatsumi." Leone continued. "How old are you?"
'20.' "I'm 17." he answered.
Leone pouted. "Damn. Not legal yet." She gave it a bit more thought before she smirked. "Oh well. Just know, on your birthday..."
She leaned in and whispered in his ear, her hot breath causing him to shudder and let out a weak groan.
Then she detached herself from him and walked away. When Tatsumi came back to his senses, he realized that the meeting had already ended. Lubbock and Sheele were the last ones to leave the room, calling out and asking if anything was wrong. 'Oh, something is very wrong.' he grimaced as he looked down, noticing a not-so-subtle bulge in his pants. 'God dammit... I knew there had to be a downside to being part Danger Beast.'
Between dealing with an aroused Leone who had marked her territory once again and his own arousal, courtesy of Leone not knowing what she was doing, he knew his life would be so much more difficult. Why was this even happening? They weren't animals for God's sake! They were human beings! Granted, Tatsumi was merged with Tyrant now and Leone was partially fused with her own Teigue when activated, but that wasn't the point! Palming his face and walking away from the room, the brunette was sure that his life was going to become so much more hectic. Especially if Leone kept pushing him.
The idea of losing his virginity sounded quite tempting...but there was more important things to worry about. Namely, what was to come with the future ahead of them.
After all, Esdeath was coming home early. And who knows what else was to come? Would the Jaegers also come into existence much earlier? She still had her Three Beasts.
"I guess I need to be prepared for what kind of shit Gaea's gonna throw at me..."
Far to the North, a large number of soldiers were marching forward down a mountain trail. They were great in number, garbed in white and black uniforms with a fearsome insignia branded on their armbands. They were clearly apart of a special militia unit, though the unit itself was not dangerous. Far from it. The true danger lay with the leader. Said leader was guarded by three black-clothed soldiers, each different. One looked quite young with messy hair and wore shorts. Another was burly with an ax strapped to his waist. The third was a relatively old man with his hair tied back into a ponytail. The leader herself was a beauty. Her skin was pale, almost like porcelain, and possessed long blue hair that fell past her shoulders, ending at her hips while a wide-brim cap sat atop her head. Her attire exposed a great deal of her cleavage, which also revealed a mark betwixt her breasts, the same one branded on the armbands of her men. The outfit was primarily white with black sleeves, the hem of her jacket ending at her thighs. Below, she wore thigh-high boots with sharp stiletto heels. One of the heels was stained in red.
"At this pace, we should return to the Capital within the week." the old man spoke, his hands folded behind his back. "I imagine we will be asked to report to His Majesty." Beside him, the youngest soldier sighed, causing the old man to turn to him. "What's the matter, Nyau?"
"I didn't get to add any good faces to my collection." the boy said with disappointment. "Plus, they weren't any good. I thought they said the North was supposed to be resilient. They were a bunch of pushovers!"
The burly man laughed. "I gotta agree with Nyau." he said. "They weren't worth much experience." He then looked at the leader of their group and smirked. "Of course, I'm sure the General was even more disappointed. Numa was pretty much pathetic."
"Indeed, but it was to be expected." the old man said in agreement. "Still, he broke much faster than expected. I would have thought he'd have much more dignity, but it seems he was rather weak-willed." He could not help but sigh in lament. "If only this were back in the old days. Back when men were of much greater stuff."
"You must be getting really old if your reminiscing of the past, Liver." Nyau giggled.
"Oh, be silent."
"You agree with me, right, Daidara?"
"Hm? You say something, Nyau?"
While the infamous Three Beasts continued to speak, the woman remained silent. As her trusted soldiers had said, Numa Seika was pitifully weak. Not even three months and she already broke him, reducing him to a mere shadow of his former self. Stripped of his clothes and forced to lick her boot like a dog. She was severely disappointed with how it turned out. She was expecting so much more, especially with the stories she's been told. Sadly, the man did not live up to the tale.
A shame. She was quite looking forward to a good battle. Her campaign was over and done with, but something was wrong. She still felt...anxious? Tense? How was she to describe this feeling in her chest?
Was she perhaps excited to return to the Capital? There was nothing there. Yes, she had a request to give to the Emperor when she returned, but she otherwise had nothing to be overly excited over. Except, perhaps...that person.
'Ah, such a beautiful dream. I've been having it for months, yet I never tire of it...!'
A battlefield, littered with corpses and flames. A ruined city resembling the mighty Empire in the background, yet it all paled in comparison to the lone individual that stood amidst the carnage. A boy, barely in his teens, that she's never seen before, his back turned to her before he looked over his shoulder and she granted a chance to look at those wonderful, breathtaking, bloody red eyes, bearing down at her like a predator.
Just remembering it caused her heart to skip a beat.
She wanted to see that boy again... No matter what. Was he in the Capital? Was this why she felt so anxious? Because he was there?
Esdeath felt a smile touch her face. One that would have sent chills down her men's spine had they seen it. "I look forward to our meeting... My Love."
-Kill the Discord (Part II): END-
A/N: *cut to a graveyard, specifically in the far back where a tombstone reads "Tatsumi ga Kiru!" rests. The dirt begins to shift, as if something was pushing up. Then a hand pulls its way out, followed by another, clawing its way out before a head pops out from the dirt, screaming*
EDIT: Special thanks go to Daemon of Wrath for helping me with this chapter. Much appreciated.