A/N: Yours truly has been working on his thesis experiment these last few months. The cool part is that it involves video games. The not so cool part is that it soaks up all my free time. Plus Skyrim. Anyway, to keep all you doubters out there from…doubting, I guess, I am NOT abandoning this fic. I WILL finish it come hell or high water…although I would prefer it not come to that. Anyway, back to the fic.
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: DMC owned by Capcom. DOA and NG owned by Team Ninja and Tecmo.
Dead or Alive 4: The Devil Factor
Chapter 40: Lies, Bullets, and Demons
Groggy and dry mouthed, Kokoro sat up from her futon and let out a jaw creaking sigh and stretched out the stiffness in her joints. She took a long drink from her glass of water that she always had next to her bed. She flung off her covers and shambled to her feet. The sunlight seeped through the slits of her blinds. The wooden floor was cool underneath her bare feet as she walked to the window, opened the blinds, and let in the blinding golden light.
"Good morning." She yawned to herself. She could see that the day was beautiful. Cherry blossom petals fell like a light dusting of snow from the trees in full bloom. The garden was buzzing with butterflies and bees and the coy pond babbled with crisp water. A perfect day that cured her morning blues. Humming an old geisha song her mother taught her, she danced into her bathroom, shedding her pajamas and readying a hot bath with scented soaps. Normally she would just grab a quick shower, but today she felt like pampering herself a little.
As she slipped into the bath, something grazed her mind like a paper cut. Hatred. Pain. Darkness around her. Guns and swords and…it was all too muggy. Maybe it was just a dream she had last night. A nightmare maybe.
She settled into the bath, letting the warmth envelope her and melt any trace of tension she had. Her eyes fluttered closed.
Another flash. This time her half-sister, Helena, was there grabbing her hand and running from…from…it was gone again. This was too weird. Scraps of images and memory came and fluttered away before she could fully grasp them. Whatever it was, it must have been one hell of a nightmare. Odd that she could not remember it, usually they stick with her for a while, like zombies chasing her or the worst, going to school in her underwear.
She followed her usual bathing routine, washing hair with her special shampoo, scrubbing her scalp with the tips of her nails. Rinsing it in lukewarm water and then reapplying the shampoo. Lather, rinse, repeat. A code she lived by with her hair that her mother said was the embodiment of her Japanese heritage. She closed her eyes as she dunked her head into the tub.
The flash that came next was far more intense than the ones before. An explosion. Hot metal shards pelting her, stinging her bare skin. A woman standing, holding a smoking weapon. Her hair was shimmering silver. Christie, from the Dead or Alive tournament.
The images ended when she shot out of the water, dizzy and confused. Her stomach tumbled and she felt like all the blood was being sucked out of her head. She leaned on the wall and slowly relaxed back into the tub.
What was that? A panic attack? Just what did she dream?
Stop thinking about it, she told herself. Just keep going on with the day.
She returned to her routine, another shampoo and rinse followed by her body wash. After that, she lingered in the tub for a few more minutes, willing the cold knot in her stomach to go away. She emerged from the water, dried herself with a towel, wrapped herself in it, and went to the mirror and wiped away the steam.
Something suddenly charged her in the mirror, a hulking figure. Decaying armor. And bones. A walking skeleton. She shrieked and jumped back.
The thing was gone; instead she saw her own reflection, frightened and pale. Another hallucination? This time it was like she was there. But where…it was all coming back, her half-sister, Russia, demons, and her mother and…
"Mother!" She gasped and dashed out of the bathroom. The towel fluttered to the ground.
She ran down the hallways, her bare feet pounding the polished wood. "Mother! Mother, where are you?" She called out. She tore open the door to her mother's room. Empty. Her futon looked like it had not been slept in. She continued down the hall to the dinner room and burst through the door. Empty as well. In fact, she had not found anyone else in the mansion, no maids or servants or her fellow classmates. In fact, how did she get home? Better yet, why was she running through her home stark naked?
She ran back to her room, threw on her navy blue robe, and resumed her search. The house was eerily empty and quiet, yet everything looked like it was where it was supposed to be. Her room, the kitchen, the library, even the geisha students' rooms were like they were when she left.
Voices reached her ears as she past by the door that lead into her mothers' personal gardens. She almost ran through the door to get out and navigated the maze of flowers, streams, and plants to locate the voices. In the center of the garden, on the small, wooden bridge over the babbling stream that snaked throughout the garden, she saw her mother talking to a man in green…the man in green…Gentleman.
"Mother!" Kokoro called out and raced to her parent. "Keep away from him!"
"Kokoro." Miyako startled. "You're…you're up."
Kokoro put herself between her mother and the demon and assumed a Ba Ji Quan stance. The…thing stared at her like a gargoyle with a horrendous grin on its face.
"The princess awakens from her slumber." The demon practically sang in Japanese. "And I see you enjoyed a nice warm bath. I hope it was to your satisfaction, I made everything here from scratch."
"From…scratch? What are you…?" Kokoro panted, pumped with adrenaline. She took a quick glance around and noticed that while she could see sky and sun, there was no horizon. Instead a thick cloud hung around the complex like a moat of fog. This was not home.
"I'm afraid this place is still a 'work in progress' as you can clearly see. But all your necessities have been provided. Food, water, electricity, working bathroom facilities." Gentleman cupped his chin in thought. "Perhaps an orchid with apple trees and such. A 'Garden of Eden' approach."
"Perhaps we can talk about this another time." Miyako stated firmly.
"Mo…mother." Kokoro said in bewilderment. "What's going on?"
"It's…" Miyako turned her eyes away, unable to look into her daughter's eyes. "It's…complicated, my dear. I…" Miyako tried to keep the choking emotions down. "You don't know the full extent on what's happening. Your sister doesn't even know."
"Know what?" Kokoro asked, knowing that she might not like the answer.
"This isn't just your sister trying to take over her…your father's company. There's this man…a powerful man. He wants even more power and he's willing to literally damn the world to get it. I…I wanted to make sure you were safe."
"Mother." Kokoro said in disbelief. "What are you saying?"
"I…made an…arrangement. To ensure our…your safety."
"My safety?" Kokoro almost yelled. "What about Helena? Or Christie? Or Dante? And the students and staff at home? They were…they are our family too! What about them?"
"We…we can't save everyone, dear." Miyako replied in a more rigid tone. "I made the choice and you are the most important person in the world to me, everyone else…everyone else isn't."
Kokoro shook her head, utterly floored by what she was hearing. "This…this isn't you, mother. You would never do something so…so cruel."
"I did what any worthwhile parent would do. Ensure the welfare of her child." Miyako's cracking voice betrayed her resolve.
Kokoro's jaw tensed as she tried to force words out, but nothing came, she was too amazed and angry to speak.
"This is obviously a family matter, so I'll take my leave. We'll resume our discussion at another time." Gentleman bowed.
"Wait, I want some answers from you." Kokoro stabbed a finger at the demon. The demon faded away, leaving behind his creepy smile in Kokoro's mind.
"This was the only way, dear."
Kokoro did not turn around, her framed heaved from heavy breathing. This was a nightmare, a very real and heart wrenching nightmare. She would wake up soon and be at her real home with her real mother. She slapped her checks and clenched her eyes.
"Wake up." She whimpered. "Wake up."
Miyako cast her eyes down and prayed for forgiveness.
Helena's private jet
Helena wore the mother of all scowls as she tapped at her keyboard with a single finger. The tension in her body seemed to have seeped out and now poisoned the entire room. Even Christie found herself unable to break the awkward silence. Dante on the other hand…
"Hey does your chef do buffalo wings? Extra spicy? I haven't had wings in a while."
Dante sat in one of the fine chairs against the wall, feet up on an armrest. "What?" Dante asked as he scratched the top on one wolf's head while the other gnawed on the T-bone from Dante's steak.
"Do you really have to keep those…things?" Christie asked cautiously.
"Hey, I killed their former master, so I would like to think that looking after 'em would be the neighborly thing to do and it would be cruel to let these majestic creatures go without someone to take care of 'em." The wolf Dante was scratching turned its head so Dante's fingers could work on its ear.
"Well can't you…make them go away for a little bit?"
"What's wrong, are you afraid of the big bad doggies?"
Christie snarled and bared her teeth. Dante smirked. "Don't tell me this is gonna lead to one of those 'talks' is it?"
Christie kept her glare for a while. She hated dogs, usually because the ones she usually encountered were guard dogs. Snarling, barking, biting, annoying guard dogs. She was willing to overlook some of his other…foibles, but dogs were something she wouldn't accommodate. She'd have to train that out of him. "Anyways we-"
Helena suddenly snapped to her feet and violently swept the computer, and everything else, off her desk. The equipment scattered on the ground in broken plastic and computer chips. Christie nearly jumped out of her chair, a learned reaction, her eyes popped fully open. Dante's smile fell like a hammer
"Get rid of the dogs." Helena said in between angry pants. Her hair covered her eyes. "Now."
Dante paused for a moment before he snapped his fingers. The dogs morphed into balls of light and shot into Dante's chest. "If you hate dogs so much, all you had to do was tell me."
"What the hell are we?" She practically screamed. "Huh?"
Christie knew a rhetorical question when she heard it. Dante on the other hand…
"Team awesome, baby." Dante said, utterly straight faced and raised a single fist into the air.
Helena snapped her head to Dante, teeth clenched tight and eyes focused in sheer anger. Dante slowly lowered his fist.
"We are worthless!" She spat. "My little sister, my only family, was snatched right in front of us!" She gripped her hair with rigid fingers. "And we did nothing. NOTHING!"
Ok, this was new. Christie was used to the haughty, uptight, and whining Helena, not…this. She kept herself seated and hoped this little meltdown was just more of her drama.
"This is unacceptable! We lost the safe house and my sister and we runaway. No more running, no more hiding. We hit back. Now! We get Kokoro back."
"How?" Dante asked. "Where?"
Helena jolted like she had been dumped in an ice bath. "It…I…" she struggled.
"The…icebreaker Donovan bought, the Ondatra." Christie said cautiously. "That's our only lead."
Helena's breathing calmed as she mulled the idea around. "Then that's where we're going."
"Cool." Dante said. "What's the game plan?"
"We…" Again the French Soprano stumbled. "We invade. Take the ship over."
"Well shoot," Dante snapped his fingers in an 'ah-shucks' gesture. "I left my Jolly-Roger flag at home."
"Your idea does sound…extreme, Lady Helena." Christie felt like walking on eggshells. "Perhaps we should-"
"Don't you start, you salope!" Helena suddenly slipped into French and practically foamed at the mouth. "Me faut retourner à la pute qui m'a accouchée!"
Christie found herself in a position she had never been in before, rendered speechless.
"Ok, I don't know French, but I know a freak out when I see it." Dante stood and placed his hands on Helena's shoulders. "Let's calm down before-"
Helena whipped around and swatted his hands away. "Ne me touchez pas! Je sais où ces mains ont été, dans toute cette ... cette .. salope britannique!"
Dante backed off cautiously and turned to Christie. "What she say?"
"Um…It's best if you didn't know." Christie eyed Helena cautiously.
"Alright, we don't have time for your temper tantrum, princess." He seized her by the arms. She struggled and cursed in French. "Yeah, yeah, I know, you're pissed. Whoopdee-fucking-doo. Pull yourself together before-"
Helena slapped him. A tickle to Dante, Christie surmised, but it was the act that was her statement, not the pain.
"Don't you dare think you can touch me because we…" Helena snapped a quick glance to Christie. "Nevermind."
The assassin let out an amused sound. How cute it was for her to suddenly have a foul mouth but get shy when it came to sex.
"Ok, fine, get testy and reckless." Dante said angrily. "I'm done." He spun on his heel and made for the door.
Funny, the French brat slapped the demon but she's the one with the reaction, gapping mouth, terror stricken eyes. She reached for Dante who was already out the door.
Better than a soap opera. Christie thought, letting her smirk show.
Eliot ate carefully, unsure what to expect. He doubted that she put broken glass or poison in his meal, but still, he was in the lair of a demoness, being precautious was just common sense. His fancy plate with gothic decorations, held an odd heap of meat hunks in a blue sauce.
"What's wrong?" Marller asked in her 'sweet' tone or the closet she could get it. "Don't you like it? It's a dish from my world. Megalodon with my special sauce. Very tangy." She poked a thin knife-like utensil into a hunk of glazed meat and popped it into her mouth. "Mmmm. The flavor is just exquisite."
"Megalodon? The giant shark?" Eliot asked. "Haven't they been extinct for millions of years?"
"In your realm, yes." She answered offhandedly. "In ours, they're just swarming our oceans…when they aren't being eaten by bigger things." She grinned as she chewed.
"Ah." Eliot said, staring at the plate. "Interesting."
"Interesting?" Marller repeated. "Not very engaging dinner conversation. You need more experience talking to girls."
"So I hear." Eliot said as he tried to spear a piece of meat. Every time he pierced a chunk, it split apart.
"Sorry, I forgot that you aren't familiar with demon cutlery." She smiled apologetically. "Here." She held up her own knife-thing with a chunk of meat impaled upon it, dripping in sauce. With her hand underneath it, she offered it like a loving wife.
Eliot just regarded her with cold eyes. "Just what is it you're trying to do?"
"Feed you, silly boy." She chuckled. "Open wide."
Eliot's mouth remained clamped tight.
"Now, now, don't act like that." She scolded softly. "Or you won't get dessert."
"What do you want from me?" Eliot burst out. "Stop playing house and tell me."
Marller sighed in defeat and popped the fish into her mouth. "Honestly, I'm not sure. Boredom, maybe."
"You kidnapped me because you were bored?" Eliot almost choked.
She shrugged. "It happens. Demons kidnapping humans to break the humdrum. Although it usually revolved around a male demon and the fair maiden and…well you can put it together."
"Rape. How lovely." Eliot said flatly. "Is that what I can expect here?"
Her smile relaxed. "No, I'm a different type of hunter. I prefer the prey to come to me." She drank from a silver goblet that looked ancient. "Willing partners are so much more…enjoyable."
"But why me?"
She licked her lips thoughtfully. "You…you're something I haven't encountered in quite some time. A blend of disciplined warrior and naïve boy. Confident, but humble. Predator…" Her hand brushed his bangs, causing him to lurch back. "And prey."
"I will not play your sick game, lady." Eliot firmly replied. "No matter how beautiful you look on the outside, I know what you are and I will not…"
Eliot had seen Marller in action before, he had seen her speed. It was obvious that she held back during her invasion of his home. Or perhaps he was still not back to his old self. The demoness jumped and pinned him before his learned reflexes could even fire in his brain synapses. Eliot struggled in vain. Her grip was like iron cuffs and her nails stung his flesh.
"You will break, boy." Her face a mixture of ecstasy and rage. "All men break. All of you are slaves to your desires and urges."
Eliot could see that fighting back physically would be futile, so he tried another tactic. He stopped struggling.
Marller sported a victorious smile. "Good boy, you're getting it." She loosened her hold and ever so gently slid her fingers down his arms. He could feel the dagger-like nails through his clothing and when she reached the buttons, her fingers moved deftly, undoing the first button with ease. "Now relax and let me…"
Eliot grasped her hands, gently, stopping her movements. He briefly wondered how she could manipulate his buttons so expertly. Also he suddenly realized that he was not wearing the same clothes when he fought her. Also he had not showered since his capture, yet he did feel…clean. He dared not try to reason it all out in his head.
Eliot scooted out from under her, put at least a good meter between then, turned around, sat in the Lotus Position that Master Gen Fu taught him, and closed his eyes. Lesson one: A warrior must know when to use power and when to not use it.
Marller made a sound, a choke of astonishment. "Really? What are you…?" Her words died out.
Eliot meditated. He focused on the anguish within and turned it, morphed it into something else. Focus. All a warrior needed to keep calm was focus. Lesson two Master Gen Fu taught him.
"Oh, I see." Marller purred. "Trying to give me the cold shoulder, eh? Well, let's see how cold you are after a few days without food." She said with as much spite as she could.
He did not hear another word from her. No doubt she had disappeared and took lunch with her. Or was it dinner? It was hard to keep track of time without a watch or clock. It did not matter. He had fasted before during his training. A warrior must learn how to hone and control his body. Lesson three.
Every warrior has his trials he must complete. Eliot thought. I guess this is mine.
Before he could begin the breathing exercises, a voice pierced the silence, high in pitch and the words were almost like lyrics in a song.
"Good afternoon, my good boy." Eliot opened his eyes to see a man in green. "May I have a moment of your time?"
Helena's private jet
Sunday 1:02 p.m.
Picking through the jet's cramped cargo area was like a scavenger hunt. Most of the time he found boring junk like fancy plates and weird looking plastic stuff he never seen before, but after some patience and some torn containers, jackpot. Whiskey, single barrel, real high end stuff. He plopped down on a metal box stamped with Russian letters and propped a leg up on another. He leaned his back against a support beam with a small fire extinguisher hanging from it.
Dante wondered if he took it a bit far this time. He was getting sick of Helena's breakdowns. The French corporate queen did suffer some big hits during her life and she was going cold turkey from some powerful…well let's call them pharmaceuticals. He hoped that his stunt would snap Helena out of her cycle of rage and get it focused on what was important. But the truth be told, he was getting annoyed looking at her when she flew off the handle…or maybe he was seeing himself from a long time ago. Someone he never wanted to see again.
The heavy door swung open followed by the clacking of heels against the hard metal floor. "So here's where you've been hiding, luv."
"Yep." Dante said and popped the top of the cubed shape bottle. "How's Frenchy?"
Christie closed the door behind her and sauntered in. "I've never seen anyone be so pissed off and utterly helpless at the same time." Christie smirked and stood next to Dante with folded arms. "Bravo."
Dante sighed through his nose. "Not one of my better moments, I'll admit." Dante took a swig. "But she needs to get her head in the game and get over this 'poor me' bullshit that's clouding her judgment." He offered the bottle to the British assassin.
She took the bottle and had the mouth centimeters from her lips. "And you wanted to teach her that by storming out like a child not getting his way?" She drank an equal amount that Dante took.
"Again, not one of my better moments." Dante saw the look in Christie's eyes. "Look, I'm not a councilor here, okay? And I didn't grow up in an environment that encouraged expression of one's innermost feelings? Where I grew up, being soft meant either being used or being dead."
"Preaching to the coir." Christie passed the drink back.
Dante took another drink, longer than his last. The stinging liquid conjured up memories that he had thought obliterated by alcohol. An irony for sure.
"I'll talk to her." He said and offered the bottle to Christie again. She raised her hand in a 'no thanks; gesture. "It's not a good idea to keep the boss an emotional wreck."
"True." Christie watched him down the last of the bottle. "But I can't help but wonder if perhaps you're getting a bit too…attached to her."
Dante leveled his eyes at her. "What are you getting at?"
"Oh, don't get me wrong, I think its darling to see the French princess fall for the American knight. For a while I didn't think she knew that what was between her legs could be used for more than just urinating." Dante rolled his eyes as she continued. "It's just that I'm not so sure if she sees you as a bed warmer or something to walk down the aisle for."
"I'd like to think that we both know that first loves never last." Dante pitched the empty bottle behind him.
"First love?" Christie said, amused. "Are we talking about her or you?"
"Don't be cute." Dante sneered in annoyance. "Neither of us is looking to buy a home and shop for baby clothes. Besides, she's married to her job, it seems."
"Pity." Christie said mockingly. "And here I was thinking you two were doing so well."
"Why? So can play me against her?"
Christie did not reply, impressed more than amazed.
"Did you really think you were the first girl to try use your 'feminine wiles' to control me?" Dante used a dramatic tone when he said feminine wiles. "No offense, but I've seen better attempts. And for future reference, you kinda oversold it."
"I see." Christie became amused again. "Well, I'll try to do better next time."
She was not going to quit. Dante knew it. She would try something else, probably something more drastic. He would have to keep his attention extra close to her.
"I think I'll take a nap. Catch up on my beauty rest." Christie arched an eyebrow. "You do realize that you're sitting on top of a container of over 90 kilograms of C4, right?"
Dante looked down at the container, trying to see the words for C4 in the Russian letters. "She brought explosives on a plane?" Dante asked, flabbergasted.
"Nope. She didn't." She said with a wink and putting her finger to her lips. She left with a spring in her step.
"Ok." Dante said to himself. "I'll pay a lot more attention to her." He eased himself off the crate and walked to the door, looking over his shoulder, memorizing the wording on the container.
Marller appeared in the human's cavern of science gone amuck. She took in some sights while she let Eliot think about his actions. The Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, the Empire State Building. The humans had made some impressive things while the demons were away.
Hopefully a day or two alone and hungry would make the boy rethink his priorities.
She spotted Donovan and Vergil near the professor's, what did he call it, holo-tank. They were studying a map of an island that they said housed the Temple of Redemption. Donovan leaned against the tank's metal frame with both hands, his head dipped in weariness. Vergil had his rigid posture with Yamato behind his back and clenched tightly in his hand with the weapon that used to be Doku hanging off his belt.
Vergil was a bit too reserved for her liking. Too cold and detached. Trying to get into his icy husk of a heart was nigh impossible. She hoped to find a way in, but his greed for power blinded him to everything around him. A very fatal flaw.
She was surprised the professor was still awake. Donovan was a rather odd duck, even for a human. His sleeping habits were…sporadic. In fact she could not remember the last time she saw him asleep. Not that she cared it was just eerie.
One of the human's creations, a clone it was called, approached her with a tray of tea in a beige ceramic cup. She waved off the soulless thing and walked forward. "Hello boys, what interesting thing are you…"
The men snapped around, unpleasant looks plastered on their faces.
"Uh…" Marller suddenly lost her calm. "Don't tell me that this place just became 'no girls allowed'."
"You." Vergil pointed at her with the handle of Yamato. His eyes were lasers of pure ice drilling into hers. "Failed."
"Why darling," Marller trembled. "Wh…what's wrong?"
"You brought us a fake." Donovan spitefully accused. "A worthless trinket. So either you're trying to undermine our efforts or you're a gullible idiot who can't tell a rare demon gem from a wax bauble."
Marller could actually feel the blood leaving her face. "What? N…no. I brought you the Jewel of the Forsaken. It was hidden in that Japanese woman's hair ornament. Her clan was visited by your father, it all fit."
"And yet, we don't have it." Vergil spoke coldly.
Marller opened her mouth, but did not speak. She had nothing to offer and she was not sure what Vergil would do if she kept bumbling and apologizing. He was not the type of person to appreciate groveling.
"This is a disaster." Donovan fumed and ran his hands through his steel colored hair. "The Mugen Tenshin Clan was our only lead."
"Well if it is our only lead than I guess we'll have to cancel everything." Vergil said in a tone that could only be barely called sarcastic. "Unless we make sure it was our only lead."
"What are you suggesting?" Donovan adjusted his glasses, nonplussed on Vergil's comment.
"We take it from the top." Vergil said. "We go back to the woman who had the jewel."
"I…I don't know where she is." Marller barely got out.
Vergil was with Donovan a good fifteen feet away from her and in an eye blink his face was a millimeter from her face, startling her. "Then I suggest we find her."
"Yes." Vergil said like she was hard of hearing. "We."
"Ok." Marller said, regretting her rather bland response.
This is…good. She thought to herself. Some alone time to dig into his mind.
With a smile and a twirl, the Obsidian Mist enveloped them both.
Helena's private jet
Sunday 1:02 p.m.
Helena was not used to crying. Even at her mother's funeral she did shed a tear. Instead she was just numb, dead inside, unable to grasp what had happened to her. It was not until when she got home and had to go through her mother's things did it hit her. She cried, for hours. After that, she never shed a tear again. She never went back into her mother's room again. But now…now she was laid out on her bed, trying her best not to have the tears come out.
"I…won't…cry." She said through clenched teeth and gripped sheets. "Not for him."
A hard knock came from her door.
"S'en aller." She said, trying not to choke. "I do not wish to be disturbed."
"It's me." Dante's voice came from the other side of the door.
She shot out of bed. Her heart raced. Her mouth went dry as she struggled to find the words she wanted to use. "Fuck off." She said, much to her own horror.
"Ok, I suppose I deserved that." Dante said as entered the room.
"I said get out!" She spat and threw a pillow at him. Childish perhaps, but she was too angry to care. The pillow harmlessly landed on Dante's face.
"Look." Dante tossed the pillow aside. "I wanna clear the air alright?"
"I don't want to hear it." Helena muttered and turned away. "I have nothing to say to you."
"Ok. That." Dante pointed at her even though she was not looking at him. "That right there. That's the reason I walked out. You're acting like the spoiled brat Christie makes you out to be. You put on airs about being this total domination queen, but when things don't go your way, BAM, you crawl back into your spoiled little girl shell."
"You said you were loyal." Helena's voice trembled with rage. "You said you'd stay by my side through all of this." She turned around, almost snarling. "And then you just walked away. You word obviously means nothing and I have no patience for men who don't honor their obligations."
"Honor their obligations? Who talks like that?" Dante shook his head and continued. "Look I wasn't really quitting. I mean, I'm on a plane, where the hell am I gonna go?"
Helena's face softened, only slightly, her anger was still there.
"If we're gonna rescue your sister and all that, we need you to be the leader you're capable of being, alright?" Dante said sternly. "I ain't leader material. Hell, most of the people who hang around me just do whatever the hell they want to. My business is just as organized as a drunken bachelor party."
"I…" Helena's anger drained, replaced by the look of a lost girl. "I know that but…" The tears came welling again. "Dieu ce qui est difficile." She whispered before continuing. "I don't…I feel so…dazed. I can't concentrate, I feel like I'm half asleep sometimes." She shivered and hugged herself. "I feel sick, but…I don't know."
"It's the withdrawal. Sounds like its getting worse." Dante muttered and scratched his head.
"Plus the stress of…this." Helena motioned around and laughed sadly. "Oh, so much is wrong and I…I feel nothings going right."
"Yeah, you get those moments." Dante mused. "I call 'em weekdays."
She laughed at his bad joke. The tears came and she placed her hands over her eyes. A few moments ticked by in almost silence except for the occasional sob from Helena. Dante did not know whether to stay or go.
"Dante." She said through sobs. "Please don't stand there like a statue. Come. Sit."
Dante shifted his feet a moment before taking Helena up on her offer. He plopped down next to her, causing the bed to shift slightly. Helena let herself tip over and rest her head on Dante's shoulder.
"I used to have my job down to a fine science. But…I don't know if that was really me or…the pills." She whispered. "Now everything seems like a struggle."
"Yeah. I know." Dante said like he just heard a painful story. He put an arm around her waist. "It'll get better with time."
"Really?" Helena asked softly.
Dante looked around the room for a moment, unsure of what to say before he answered. "Well, some things get better."
"That's what I thought." Helena somberly replied. She closed her eyes and leaned further into Dante, her head now comfortably against his chest. "I was so used to being alone. Even with maids and employees and…her I was by myself." Dante knew exactly which her she was referring to. "I thought I could handle it, but now…" She nuzzled his chest. "It's your fault, you know, making me feel this way."
"If you're expecting an apology, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to disappoint you."
Helena did not reply, instead she kept herself close to Dante, feeling the warmth through his shirt. After a while, Dante's hand began to softly stroke her hair.
"My sister…she doesn't deserve this." She said. "Why did I do this to her?"
"Don't start second guessing yourself." Dante spoke. "I know I gave you hard time about it, but you do care about her."
"Of course. She's my family. You're supposed to love your family, right?"
Dante did not answer.
"Where's…where's Christie?" Helena asked calmly.
"Taking a nap, I think. At least that was what she told me." Dante sounded drained.
"Stay here." She said and slipped away from Dante. "I think I have an idea about what we can do about Donovan, I just need to some input from Christie." She pushed herself off the bed and walked away.
"I take it you want to say something to her in private?" Dante cocked an eyebrow. "Should I hide the sharp objects in her room?"
"No. We'll have a meeting together, but it can wait." She turned the lock on her door. "Right now…I need to rest."
She turned back to Dante and went back to her bad, undoing her earrings. The devil hunter did not say anything, wondering what was going to happen next. She placed the jewelry on the nightstand along with her necklace. She moved to the bed and gently pushed Dante on his back. She crawled above him and laid down, half on the bed, half on Dante.
"I don't recall my job description detailing a 'living pillow' clause." He said in jest.
"Just a while." She whispered. "Just like this, please."
She felt his chest heave as he sighed. "Alright." He whispered back and put an arm around her, pulling her close. She relaxed her muscles, letting her body heat meld with his.
She was alone, yes. She was. But now…well it was something she would have to get used to. Something she wanted to get used to.
Sunday 3:43 p.m.
The wind whipped and stirred around the Russian docks. The snow caked buildings that spotted the dock looked like they would collapse under the weight at any moment. The target, the icebreaker, was anchored in port, being loaded with supplies by a line of workers bundled up in winter-resistance clothing.
None of the workers even noticed two ghostly figures slip through the arctic environment as deftly as mice in a field. The figures paused briefly at the door to the barracks, checking to see if anyone had seen them. Leon, his face covered with goggles and a white balaclava, put his back to the wall and carefully cracked open the door. Bayman swept into the room, keeping his rifle up and ready. After a visual survey of the area, he lowered the AK-12, a Russian assault rifle that the Russian army was 'still developing'. Bayman knew the right people to have a few of the guns for 'testing purposes'. The gun, an evolved model from the famous and numerous AK-47 and Ak-74 series, was outfitted with a 60 round casket magazine, ACOG scope, and arctic camouflage.
"Strong winds. Snow flying everywhere. Zero visibility." Bayman said as he peeked out the window, seeing only blurred white.
"Perfect conditions." Leon said as he entered the room and shut the door behind him.
"Yeah." The Russian wiped his nose. "But where are all the fucking guards?"
"No towers, no cameras." Leon took off his goggles and mask. "Over 50 men and not a gun between them."
"I don't like this." Bayman growled. "This is insultingly easy."
"Are you thinking this is a trap?" Leon stood beside Bayman, looking out the window. The Italian handled the Beretta ARX 160 rifle, a weapon from his homeland. The gun, also camouflaged for the environment had only a thermal scope to help see through the snow and winds.
"That or we picked the wrong place." Bayman said without sarcasm and marched back to the center of the room to retrieve the hidden cache of supplies they smuggled in. "Still, we don't know exactly what's inside the ship. Could be an army in there." He opened the wooden chest and removed the false top to reveal ammunition boxes, first aid kits, grenades and other explosives.
"Donovan isn't supposed to arrive until Tuesday." Leon reminded. "It feels like we're jumping the gun on this."
"The schedule says he's supposed to arrive on Tuesday." Bayman retrieved a balanced throwing knife and spun it in his hand once. Satisfied with the weight, he slid the knife into a sheath on his arm. "If that man did whatever the official schedule said he would do, I would have killed him long ago."
"False information." Leon nodded. "Smart. But we know he's coming here, right?"
"We already went over this." Bayman "He'll be here. This is something he's put a lot of time and effort into. There's no way he'll send some flunky to oversee this, he'll come personally to take charge."
"You're awfully sure of this." Leon said. "What makes you so sure that he'll take that risk of being out in the open?"
"I know him." Bayman grimly said. "I've studied everything about him. He'll be here."
Leon did not say anything instead he flipped a switch on the scope on and off. Bayman unpacked a .50 caliber sniper rifle and slapped in the barrel.
"Remember, I'm the one that takes the shot." Bayman
"Right." Leon said.
Hours passed. The shroud of whiteness had turned black when the sun faded away. The workers retired to the barracks. The two assassins had long since slipped back into the cold. They maneuvered their way through the large containers and small buildings. They found a spot a good kilometer away from the main docks that overlooked the main road. Once the professor stepped out of his armored, bullet-resistant glass SUV, his head would be forcibly removed from his shoulders.
Leon had suggested using explosives. Rig Donovan's room and workplace to explode after the ship departed. Bayman shot down that idea. He wanted to confirm the kill with his own two eyes. Leon did not say anything in protest, but Bayman could tell that the Italian had some…concerns about the assignment. Leon was no stranger to personal vendettas, which is why he felt a little uncomfortable with Bayman's. He knew what grudges can do to a man, even a seasoned killer like Bayman.
Bayman knew it too, but he could not go on living with the knowledge that Donovan's betrayal would go un-avenged. It was bad for business and his image.
Wrapped in cold resistant clothes and an anchored down camouflage net, the two men for hire waited for the vehicle in the prone position, laying flat out on the ice and snow. Leon looked through the thermal binoculars, scanning for a heat source that was big enough for a car while Bayman kept his sight through the rifle's scope. Time seemed to slow to a crawl.
The cold became colder. Even their clothes were starting to have trouble blocking out the bitterness of the wind. Leon resisted the urge to shiver. Even under the cover of the weather he knew better than to move when preparing for an ambush.
"Leon." Bayman whispered, breaking their silence. "Look at the snow."
"Yeah, there's a lot of it." Leon growled back. "Shut up so we can…"
"No, it's color." Bayman said more urgently. "It's…green."
Leon backed his gaze out of the grainy white and black thermal image of the binoculars and let his eyes adjust to the real world. His eyes stung from watching a computer screen for hours and saw the snow that was whipping around had indeed turned a shade of green.
"This is…new." Leon blinked rapidly, seeing if the color was due to his eyes adjusting to the bland colors of the thermal binoculars.
"I've never seen snow do this before." Bayman hissed out. "And I've seen a lot of snow."
"Is this natural snow or one of Donovan's harebrained experiments?" Leon asked.
"Believe me, gentlemen." A deep voice laced with Japanese accented English said behind them. "This is as unnatural as it gets."
On pure instinct, both men rolled out from the netting, breaking it apart. They rolled to a crouched position and raised their guns. A large, barrel-chested man with thick arms and a beard that left his chin exposed stood over the ambush point. He wore tattered clothes, but seemed perfectly comfortable with the cold and wind. Another oddity was his skin, grayish-white, like a corpse left in the arctic.
"Raidou." Bayman said as he trained the sniper rifle on the man's head. "Reports said that you were dead, killed in the first tournament."
"A minor set-back." Raidou chuckled. "At least it was for me. For you two I fear it may be a bit more permanent."
Bayman fired. The bullet shattered a portion of Raidou's head. It shattered the man's head, like he was made of glass. The damaged half began to grow back, like ice forming around a water source. Bayman fired again. A slab of thick ice jutted out between the assassin and the former living ninja, absorbing the shot. Leon fired his assault rifle. The bullets chipped away at Raidou's form, but they did no real damage.
Raidou flung something at Leon, puncturing his shoulder. Leon stumbled back and grasped the object. A knife, a kunai, made of ice.
"Move!" Bayman barked in Russian. "We're too open. Back to the docks!"
Leon fired the rest of what was in his clip one handed as he fell back with Bayman who emptied the sniper rifle at the resurrected ninja. The wall grew in size and surrounded Raidou like a fortress.
The men were halfway to the docks when Raidou appeared, seemingly from the wind itself, and struck the two with the backs of his fists, sending them to their backs. Bayman and Leon gathered themselves up and realized that their enemy had their weapons. The guns broke apart in his hands like they were cheap plastic toys.
"Is this really the best you two have to offer me?" Raidou huffed in annoyance. "Guns? And you call yourself warriors?"
"No." Leon smirked. "We call ourselves professionals." He gave the demon ninja the finger, with a pin from a grenade around it like a ring.
Raidou looked down just in time to see the grenade at his feet go off. The explosion showered him in white hot shrapnel along with an explosive force strong enough to rip limps off and turn a normal man's innards into goo. But to Raidou, it was only like a strong breeze hit him.
His annoyance turning into irritation, Raidou used his powers to blow the smoke and kicked up snow away so he could face his prey. They were gone, but he saw the tracks they left and a small blood trail from the Italian leading to the docks.
"Run all you want." Raidou growled. "You're in my element."