5. Death

It was both a name and the thing itself; an identity and an action, eternal duty and ultimate consequence. The final judgement placed upon humanity by one who stood just outside of it. Right now, it was getting violent.

A bleeding moon shone onto Death City, its perpetual grin seeming to mock the events miles below in the damp streets. In an alleyway there was a screech of metal as a warehouse door burst outwards. From the resulting hole a huge figure lurched, a mess of eyes, limbs and cankerous flesh. Any student of Shibusen could have noted it bore the hallmarks of a soul infested by deep insanity, perhaps once human but now mutated beyond all recognition by the consumption of innocent souls. Some Technicians might also point out that it would sorely test the patience of a certain graduate. They would have been right.

"Tell me, do you think this one likes to try my patience?" Another figure watched as the kishin lumbered down the alleyway towards a dead-end. This person was tall, almost unnaturally so, dressed with sombre but impeccable style and, it was hard to miss, total symmetry. In each hand he held a pistol of deep black and oddly polished metal as though there was something a little unreal about them. A voice rose from the left-hand weapon, in a trill of delight; "Yep! Totally! Let's blow him away!"

The second gun was more sensible; "Take it easy. We're in a small space, so lure him out."

The black-clad Technician put his head on one side. "No. I believe there is a neater option."

Leaving the doorway he leapt easily onto the warehouse roof, giving him an aerial view of his surroundings before addressing his quarry, "Excuse me, you there?"

The kishin turned awkwardly and stared up into bright yellow eyes. Somewhere in a brain fettered by madness a slight fear arose; it had preyed upon many souls, but this one was a predator. No normal soul had eyes like that, or the wicked serpentine shadows that gathered like a cloak around the man, more still lashing at the sky and licking the corrugated roof beneath his feet. In the primordial depths of their souls, human and kishin alike could put a name to a figure like that; Death.

"Mister Charles Parish? You are no more than an egg of Kishin, a rotten example of humanity. You disgust me, and for that I shall take your soul." The speech was calm and succinct, and belied the ferocious soul energy that the speaker now gathered around himself. The creature once known as Parish tried in vain to escape the alley. Risking another glance upwards, its many eyes reflected the barrels of the guns pointed with deadly accuracy straight at the gross and tonight very unfortunate kishin. Dark energy scythed through the air, obliterating all that it touched, to leave the alleyway eerily empty.

As his half-life was extinguished, the former Mr. Parish saw an odd sight. In the split second before his soul was claimed, he could have sworn that his executioner's face was nothing but a bare skull…