March of the God
Chapter One: Naked Shuffle
Your friendly internet stalker is back with a crappy new story! I must say I have had fun writing this so far, but it really isn't my usual humorous idiocy. I got bored on an airplane when I created this so… yeah. WAIT! DON'T LEAVE!
Anywaaays, there are going to be about 27 chapters in this, in fact I've got it all planned out.
This story switches between points of view often. It might be first. It might be third person. Of course this was inspired by the Boogiepop novels. (I am not, however, going to go out of chronological order.) There will be several obscure references to those awesomeful (word?) novels in this story. The most confusing one that I have at this point is a mention of 'Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg', which is simply a piece of classical music Boogiepop whistles at times. Someone needs to shoot me for being a Boogiepop geek.
Disclaimer: I do not own Konjiki no Gash Bell, or anything else I may mention in this story. I own all the OCs, though.
The girl's eyes were rolled into the back of her head, and her body was limp, lying on the dead grass. The girl did not move, nor did she seem to breathe.
Naoko Takamine would seem quite dead to any onlookers who would chance to be in the middle of the Siberian wasteland, but she was not dead. Instead of dead, Naoko Takamine was the next best thing. She was not breathing. She had not been doing so for quite a while now, which was a little under a month. Neither had the girl eaten in this time, but, despite all logic, Naoko Takamine was alive, her life itself trapped within her due to magic, which created an idleness of the body. In this idleness, the body simply shut off without being quite dead. If Naoko Takamine had indeed been dead, she would no longer be useful to the mamono who had kidnapped her.
Naoko Takamine was your ordinary ten-year-old Japanese girl. Aside from Naoko's mother being a pop-star, she led a regular life. It was hard to imagine what a 4,029 year old demon would want with anyone like Naoko Takamine.
It happened to be nine-seventeen at night at that time in the Siberian wasteland. The demon, who had abducted the girl, and force fed her the potion that caused the state of idleness had gone to Siberia with Naoko Takamine crammed into a rather large coat-bag. She had acquired several bumps and bruises from being dragged behind the demon, and her out-of-service lungs were more than likely filled with water from when the mamono had to swim from Japan to get to mainland Asia. The rest of the demon's journey, he either hitchhiked or traveled on foot, always dragging that conspicuous coat-bag alongside him.
At nine eighteen, the demon straightened out Naoko Takamine's limbs out and laid her on her back, as it was such a nicer, more respectable position than sprawled on the ground as if she had just been dumped from a bag, which she actually had been.
So many, thousands of years, although to the mamono it didn't seem like such a long time, after his book had been burnt in one of the once-a-millennia battles, the demon was setting his plan for ascension the throne of the Makai into motion. Naoko Takamine could read his spellbook. He had asked and tested her personally before knocking her out and putting her into the coat-bag, which had been stolen from a Laundromat near the Takamine residence. She would play a big role in his plan.
The mamono took a book, white with a slight blue tint to it; from inside the darkly-colored robes he was wearing, and tossed it at the girl. Naoko Takamine did not react to this, though the corner of the book's hard binding struck her forehead before falling beside her head.
As nine nineteen came around, the demon began to chant softly, and the book he had stolen so long ago began to glow. The illumination spread to the intricate runes cut into the lawn, until the entire field was shining. When it stopped doing so, the front of the girl and the book began to crack, and a light of a different sort than that the field had emitted came from the breaks. The glow illuminated the feild, swallowing it up in an unimanginable brightness.
When all the light was gone, the feild remained the same, but all the markings cut into the lawn had vanished. The mamono, whose size had decreased to that of a ten-year-old girl's, collapsed onto the ground, laughing faintly and femininely as the 'shells' of Naoko Takamine and the book crumbled into dust, which was carried off in the wind.
The first step of the demon's plan had succeeded.
I guess I thought I was going crazy. That made me delusional, in the least, I suppose. I guess I also suppose that to this day, I don't know what to think of Babylon Angel. I'm really not so sure of anything.
Even if I wasn't going nuts, I still was a pretty screwed-up kid. Firstly, due to taunting about an almost non-existent weight problem by my parents, I had begun to throw up after every few meals. I really didn't consider myself fat at all, but couldn't bring myself to break my nasty habit, though I did think I smelled like vomit. No matter how many times I brushed my teeth, washed my hands and showered, I couldn't get rid of that stench. I always kept at least two bottles of cologne or perfume on me at all times, so no one else could smell. I knew that my behavior was strange, but that never stopped me.
I also have to admit that I'd been thinking about killing myself at that point in my life. My faults were not funny, but my parents did not seem to think the same thing. I was being pushed and pushed... I wanted them to shut up; I wanted my parents to leave me alone. I always considered sleeping to be a very nice way to pass my time. Death was probably like a very long sleep, right? Even at the time, I was ashamed of thinking about things like that. But slitting my wrists or jumping off the top of a building or something like that would more than likely hurt, so I didn't. Besides, I believe in God. Always have, always will. I really don't want to go to hell, but that's just me.
I was stupid. I was fat. I wasn't any good at sports. I lost my temper easily. My long hair wasn't ever combed properly. At times, I had pimples. I forgot small details easily. I was both physically and emotionally weak. I wasn't very good with my hands, and had no extraordinary talents. My grades were unacceptable.
All these things either put my parents into hysterics, or got me in huge trouble.
It was driving me mad.
My life really didn't suck all that much. Aside from having a very stupid name, which would be Aston Martin (yes, like the car), I'm really just a normal kid. Well, the bulimia thing, but that was little, right?
I was a thirteen-year-old girl with a rather ugly shade of auburn hair and rather dull grey eyes. My music tastes were somewhat out of date (ever heard of Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg? I thought not.), and my fashion sense sucked. I would up and start crying for no reason. I never stuck with anything, and didn't have much of a personality.
Anyhow, my life changed for the more interesting one night, past my bedtime, while I was sitting outside my house, crying my eyes out because I was a brat, with only a can of Pepsi for comfort. It was summer, too warm for the long cotton shirt and pale blue military style vest I wore. I really didn't care about how warm I was; my face was already hot with the tears of an emotionally weak little girl.
I couldn't shake the smell of vomit from my person, no matter how much perfume I put on. Because I'm picky with food, I hadn't even eaten a dinner to throw up… so why?
"You do know I could hear you crying three yards down, right?"
Immediately, I made an attempt to choke back my sobbing, which actually succeeded. My face was still red.
I looked up at the speaker, who was higher up than I had imagined, and was in fact sitting, well, squatting on the garden fence. That speaker was an Asian girl, about nine or ten, with short brunette hair. Her long bangs parted above her left eye, and on the same side, a small braid hung just in front of her left ear. And, yet again, on the left side, a strange symbol, like either a dilapidated heart or a skewed the letter B, marked her cheek.
I continued to stare at her in observance as her long white skirt and the collar of her white polo shirt ruffled just slightly in the wind. She balanced perfectly on the fence, carrying a pale pink book. I wasn't too surprised by her sudden appearance because I thought I was going crazy. Either that, or I had fallen asleep, but I hadn't really been tired.
"Do you want a vacation?" the girl asked, smiling. She spoke in a language I had never heard before, yet I could understand perfectly. "I'm sure your crying was caused by something in this environment." She paused a moment. "I know humans have been warned against going with strange people they meet on their fences, so this indeed may be a bit risky, but I am asking you," the girl paused again and swallowed, "Do you want out of here?"
"And you are?" I asked the girl, even if I had decided she wasn't at all real. I'd completely decided on going, figuring since it was my imagination, it couldn't do anything that wasn't already floating around in my head. Still, following some chick you found sitting on your fence to God knows where is pretty damn stupid.
"Moi?" she asked. It was clearly in French. Everyone knows 'moi' is French.
"I am Babylon Angel," she proclaimed, proudly. "I will need the help of you and a few special others to carry out my plan!" It sounded like she was doing a cold reading off of a script. "And, my plan," Babylon Angel continued, "Is secret for now! The only thing I'm telling you is that it includes luring out and killing someone!" She laughed girlishly and rather innocently for one who spoke of killing somebody.
Not very detailed, was that plan of hers…?
"Well, who're you?" she asked, leaning forward just slightly, maintaining perfect balance.
"Aston." I didn't give her my last name. She'd probably laugh at me.
"Well, Aston," she said, "How about it? That is," she paused, "if you can read this book." She dropped her pink book in front of me. "First page!"
After scanning the text on the page, I nodded to her. "Yeah, I can." I had never seen the language, yet I could read that one word. Zerukeru.
The rest of the book, however, was filled with strange symbols I couldn't make sense of to save my life. Not a single character seemed to bear any sort of semblance to the ones of the first word.
The girl whistled an abstract tune, composed entirely of three or four different pitches of whistling. It had no musical sense to it whatsoever. When Babylon Angel stopped, she said, "So, are you ready?"
"What if I resist?" I asked her, looking up from the pink book.
"Why, I'll abduct you, and when I get back to my super-special evil lair with you, I'll mess with your mind, of course!" she exclaimed, as if it was the simplest thing in the world. You could tell she wasn't lying. But then again, I thought I was imagining her. She could do what I thought she could, including take me away from that house.
"Okay, okay." I said, shrugging. "Let me go get my shoes."
"I'm sure we have more shoes," she said, smiling, wiggling her own bare toes. "We'll be there a few minutes after we start out."
"Well, sure. Where are we going, anyways?" I asked the figment of my imagination that was standing on the fence in front of me.
"I think it's called Siberia," Babylon Angel answered. "Now… I we need to find a place where I can get a running start…" Babylon Angel trailed off.
Siberia. Wow. Just… wow.
"Oh, hey, Aston," Babylon Angel asked, jumping off the fence and turning her back towards me, "I'd prefer to be referred to as male, okay? I know the body is female, but I was born a guy! Ah, I'm going to fix this… eventually!" He whispered something under his breath, and a knife formed in his hand out of nowhere, and slashed something into the fence.
"Forget about my gender! …If you're wondering, I'm leaving a mark," he explained, motioning towards the cut in the fence, which looked a great deal like the symbol on his cheek. "I want to make sure the King of the Makai knows that all the disappearances are related to me. Heck, I burnt the symbol on the King's brother's back when I attacked and coma'd him… and abducted his child. Not for any creepy reason, though!
"Basically, I want to be traced. I've already told my whereabouts to someone who the King is acquainted with… so it really shouldn't take too long for him to come out of the protection of the Makai once I really get going… I must have lost you, haven't I?" Babylon Angel said, after I yawned slightly, getting tired.
"Oh, it's fine," I said, stretching and getting up, pink book in hand. "Perfectly so."
Babylon Angel smiled. "Let's go out onto the street. I'm going to need a head start in order to fly quickly."
The Japanese boy sat with his back to the wall, and lit his cigarette. He was only fourteen, far too young to buy cigarettes. He always managed to get his hands on them by some means, though.
He disposed of his butts, boxes and used up lighters at the local gas station, inside of a plastic bag. He brushed his teeth four times a day, and used mouthwash frequently so no one could smell it on his breath. The boy had been told smoking was the most honorable form of suicide by a girl he had a strange feeling he was in love with, but outwardly, he disregarded her words.
The boy had considered quitting smoking a few times, because she disapproved of the habit. He never got around to it, however. Maybe if she had lived near him, in the same town, country or continent, he would have quit. But the boy lived a good deal away from the girl he saw mostly as a very close friend. She was in France, he was in Japan.
Today, as he puffed on his cigarette, sitting just outside his house, Sawao Takamine was eavesdropping. Just on the other side of the wall, Kiyomaro Takamine, Sawao's father, had something to talk about with his 'old friend' Gash Bell.
If Sawao had asked, his father would have probably allowed him to sit in, but he didn't want to interrupt the conversation. Besides, he really wanted a smoke, which he could not get with either of his parents around.
Kiyomaro and Gash were probably talking about something related to the disappearance of Sawao's younger sister, Naoko. It had been around a month since Naoko vanished, and after much searching of her room which she had headed up to for the night when she was last seen, the police could only find a strange symbol that bore a semblance to the letter B carved into the wall. They had not turned up any signs of a struggle between Naoko and the kidnapper. Her bed was made perfectly, the pillows arranged in the perfect fashion Naoko put them in when they were not being used, so it was highly, highly unlikely she had been taken while asleep. There was no trail the kidnapper could have taken. The window had been open, but Naoko's room was on the third story of the rather large house, and there were no footholds the escapee could have used, or, for that matter, any sort of footprint in the dirt below the window. The kidnapper could not have gone through the house, seeing as he would have to pass the bedrooms of Sawao, his parents and his grandmother to get to the door, and at least one of them would have heard or seen something. In the same way, it was impossible for her to run away. It was a total mystery where the ten-year-old had gone.
The b-like symbol, which had been seen in several kidnapping cases worldwide after Naoko's disappearance, had no clear origin. Most people theorized it belonged to some sort of cult who abducted people for a type of ritual or something of the sort.
It had been hard on the Takamine family, loosing Naoko. What made it worse was that Sawao's mother was a celebrity, a pop star, to be exact (even though she was almost thirty), and the tabloids of course were all over the story. Sawao had complained to his friends at school that the press was 'one huge pain in the ass.' One of these friends, Misuzu Mizuno, had joked that the paparazzi and stalker-type journalists might be watching and listening in on him, ready to make 'SCANDAL: Megumi Takamine(Oumi)'s Son is Fourteen, and Says Ass like a Normal Kid!' a headline for some magazine circulating out there.
Sawao knew Misuzu had a crush on him. He didn't particularly care for her in that fashion, she was simply one of his better friends amongst the crowd that followed the son of the pop star around. (Coincidentally, Misuzu's guardian, a second cousin of hers, Suzume Mizuno, had a crush on Kiyomaro while they were in school together. Misuzu had a feeling her 'Aunt Suzume' still did have a thing for the man.)
And a pain in the ass the tabloids were.
The tabloids had really gotten carried away with Naoko's disappearance, almost more so than they did when Sawao's parents, Megumi and Kiyomaro, had (after much, much, much etc. talking) decided to get married at the age of fourteen. They realized it was unbelievably young. (It also gave Kiyomaro a chance to use his genius, hurry up and finish his schooling by skipping several grades, finally getting his J.D. degree from Tokyo University at age eighteen. This earned him a few worldwide newspaper headlines, needless to say.)
Sawao was born when his parents were both fifteen. Naoko was born when they were nineteen. Ten years later, at twenty-nine, Kiyomaro and Megumi were still married and incredibly happy together.
Sawao could hear the chairs moving inside the room, being pulled out from under the table so they could be sat upon.
His father's voice sounded. "It's been about a month, now, huh? Tio's been doing well?"
"Yep, she sure is!" The cheery voice of the Makai's king, Gash Bell, answered Kiyomaro's question. "So, how's Megumi?"
Sawao groaned slightly at this, though it wasn't loud enough to be heard through the wall. The adults small-talked for awhile, but then Kiyomaro stopped it by asking what brought Gash to Ningenkai.
"The last time I was here it was because of Naoko, right?" Suddenly, Gash the king got distracted. "Is that lamp new?"
"Gash!" yelled Kiyomaro, "Stay on topic! It's hard to believe you're twenty one at times…"
Gash laughed at this. "Kiyomaro still thinks of me as a little kid!" he exclaimed to no one in particular, definitely sounding much younger than he really was. "Aaaany-waaay, I was here after Naoko vanished, right?"
"Right," said an agitated-sounding Kiyomaro.
Gash often sent messengers to deliver his notes to and from Kiyomaro. (It was not at all unusual for Sawao to walk downstairs in the morning to see his grandmother, Hana Takamine, serving a mamono breakfast for his work.) Sometimes, Tio, Gash's wife and the Queen of the Makai, would visit. Gash was often too busy to visit for himself. Gash must have heard word of Naoko's disappearance through the messengers, because not even fifteen minutes after one of them left, the King had burst into the living room, shouting and jumping.
"Well," Gash continued, "shortly after then, a total of seventy-nine mamono, and seventy nine books have vanished from the Makai, right under our noses. That number now includes my niece, Rue." The King gulped.
"It's reached seventy-nine? That's six more than the amount totaled in the note you sent me just last week! About your niece, Rue… I—" Kiyomaro started, possibly trying to somehow condole the blonde demon, but was cut off.
From what Sawao could hear, the King of the Makai was shaking slightly as he spoke. "Well, when Rue was taken, Zeon… my brother, well… he apparently caught the kidnapper in the act, and they got in a fight. Well… Zeon got hurt, really badly. We found him covered in bruises, burns and cuts, nearly dead." Gash sighed. "He's in a coma."
Gash and his brother had become much closer over the last fifteen years. Gash had even helped Zeon find a girlfriend, who he ended up marrying. Her name was Koruru, and she had pink hair. Rue had pink hair, too.
"You said seventy-nine?" asked Kiyomaro. Sawao figured that his father was now stroking the goatee he had grown over the past fifteen years.
"Damn, I thought I had something," Kiyomaro cursed.
"Well, I thought that if the number of human and mammon coincided, it could have been the same party taking them. According to the 'another one's gone' messages you've sent, the human and mamono disappearances happen in roughly the same time-frame, the human usually just before the mamono. There's eighty missing humans. Unless you count that idiot from Prague who abducted eight school kids and hid them in his basement for four days."
" Nope, I'm not counting him. Well, the real kidnapper could have just not taken one of the humans yet," Gash said.
"No. The humans generally disappear just before the mamono."
"Well, two mamono were taken back-to-back last week, one of them being Rue. To make up for it, two humans then disappeared back-to-back, too, right?"
"Yeah. The man from Venezuela and the girl from England, only the English girl's case wasn't phoned in until just a few days ago. Her parents thought she had just run away," Kiyomaro said.
"If Teo went missing, Tio and I would go crazy! We wouldn't care how he disappeared! Forget ruling the Makai, I'd look for him myself!" Gash said, citing his son, who had never been to Ningenkai.
"I know… Megumi didn't move away from the phone incase news of Naoko came for days…"
"Ooh, Kiyomaro," said Gash, "I forgot to mention this, but when a demon is abducted, there's a strange mark wherever they last were. We found it burnt into Zeon's back, too! We got an artist to copy the image." There was a crumpling noise in the room, as if Gash was taking a piece of paper from the pockets of his robe.
"Hm. Gash, how long have you had this?" Kiyomaro asked, calmly and coolly, referring to the piece of paper Sawao couldn't see.
"Oh, since just after the first six disappearances," Gash said.
"Dumbass!" Kiyomaro yelled, "Why didn't you show me this sooner! This symbol… is carved into the wall of Naoko's bedroom! It's the only proof we have the cases here in Ningenkai are at all related!"
"So, the disappearances in both Ningenkai and the Makai are caused by the same people?" Gash asked, clueless.
"Yes!" shouted Kiyomaro. "We should start researching immediately!"
"Well," said Gash, "There's good news then! I figured you'd come up with something, so I had Kid ask Nazo Nazo Hakase to let us use his big library in America! Of course he said yes, so I used your phone before I came in here and called everyone I had gotten phone-numbers from to come help us!"
Sawao sensed a storm coming. He always worked up a high phone bill, which his father did not like, so Gash calling long-distance would stack it up more…
"Oh. Who did you call?" Kiyomaro asked.
"Well, I got Wonlei and LiYen to come, and Brago and Sherry, although Brago hit the receiver on me a lot when Sherry told him who was calling… Mr. Sunbeam disappeared in Africa with Elle four years ago, so of course I can't reach him... I really hope they're okay..."
"He got a few photographers that were out there to deliver a letter for him to me. They were in Bloemfontein at the time they sent it to me, but had been on the road across the continent," Kiyomaro said.
"What did the letter say?" Gash asked.
"That the two of them were doing well and had discovered a new species of monkey," Kiyomaro said. "They had the photographers take a picture of them. ...They seem to have taken some fashion tips from Tarzan."
"Oh, that's good then!" Gash said. "I couldn't even get a hold of Folgore… his phone was always busy."
Kiyomaro sighed aloud in relief as Sawao sighed mentally. Good. No Folgore.
"I told everyone to rendezvous here on Saturday," Gash said. "I hope you're fine with that, Kiyomaro!"
Sawao could feel his father's anger boiling from outside. When Kiyomaro did yell at Gash for inviting four people over to his home without permission, the entire neighborhood could hear the yelling. Sawao's cigarette, which was now little more than a butt, fell from his mouth. So… loud…
"I'm fine with that," Kiyomaro answered Gash as the sound of his footfalls indicated that Kiyomaro had left the room.
Chapter One: End
Ta-da. Over 4,000 words of suck. I hope it wasn't too bad…
Now, review, or… I'll have to come up with a shiny new threat!