The boy was starting to think this had been a bad idea. He wondered and dragged his feet through the thick underbrush of the woods, feeling the weight of his body pulling him down. He'd been walking like this for days now, and everyday he got tired more quickly. Not to mention he was running low on what food he had bought, and his body ached from sleeping on the good, merciless earth by a fire that he only sometimes managed to start. His clothes were dirty, ripped, and torn through days of hiking. Not to mention he reeked of a person who hadn't bathed in days.
After arriving at the airport, and converting his American money into Japanese yen, the boy flagged down a taxi outside the gate. And it was only then that he truly realized the problems with going to a foreign country and not being able to speak the language. As he sat down in the taxi, he told the driver the direction he wanted to go, but the driver only responded with a raised eyebrow, which meant he either didn't speak English, or did but wasn't willing too do so out of some grudge against foreigners. Only after waving some money in his face and pointing in the direction he wanted the driver to take him did they finally get somewhere. Together they drove for what must have been hours until finally, one some random spot on the highway, the boy ordered the man to hit the brakes. Then, throwing a fistful of cash that was probably more than the actual fare, he climbed over the divider and into the woods.
As they passed this part of the highway, the boy had felt that sensation tugging at him and telling him to go this way, so that's what he did. That had been four days ago, and the boy was no closer to what he was looking for than before. Hell, he didn't even know what it was he was looking for. Perhaps he should've stayed at home with his parents after all. Maybe he should have told him about these feelings he had and maybe they would have told him it was nothing to worry about. But just as he had those thoughts, he easily dismissed them. His parent's wouldn't have been able to help. They didn't know what was wrong with him anymore than he did. All they ever did was send him to doctors who always offered they same excuses for why they didn't know anything. In the end, it all came down to the same thing in the boy's mind.
His parents were ashamed of him.
Despite their reassurance that they didn't care what he looked like, he knew better. He knew why they always made him where a hat when the three of them went on any family outing. It's why they rarely had any of their own friends over for dinner. It's why he always noticed the looks they gave him when they figured he wouldn't notice. But he did notice. He noticed the looks everywhere he went. At home, at school, and even here he noticed them. So no, his parents couldn't help him, because he didn't belong with his parents. Which is why he was chasing this phantom feeling. He felt, at the end of it, he would find some place he belonged.
And again, his thoughts went around in circles. Every time his journey felt like too much or overwhelming, when he was thinking about how much a bad idea this was and considering going back, his mind would remind him of these exact things. And his determination would be renewed, until his stomach growled from hunger pains or something of the like. And around and around it went on a never-ending cycle.
The boy was pushing a particular thick brush of wood, feeling the branches scratch his arms and legs. He pushed one branch aside, but his hand slipped and it came swung back toward him, giving him a small cut on the cheek. The boy gritted his teeth and pushed through the branches in anger, not caring if they torn, bit, or scratched at his flesh. Thankfully, as the boy came through the branches, he found himself in a wide clearing. It was far wider and bigger than any clearing he'd ever seen, and it must've stretched on for miles. He felt like he was in one of those crop circle things that conspiracy theorist often associated with UFOs. He looked all over the clearing, turning his head in one giant circle and examining it from one end to the other. The sensation he'd been following was leading him to this very spot. Yet as far as he could see, there wasn't anything here accept trees and grass.
Ok, what's this all about, he thought to himself. Now he was more confused than ever. Had he missed something? Had he not understood what he was supposed to do? Or, could it be, that he was right where he was supposed to be? That this stupid "gut feeling" of his had lead him out of America, across an ocean, into a foreign country, made him track God knows how many miles in the woods, just to lead him to a forest clearing? He didn't even want to consider that terrible option. If that were the truth, he just might end up putting himself out of his misery.
So, desperate to find meaning in all of his, the boy searched again and again, painstakingly going over ever minor detail of the clearing, unaware that what he was looking for was right beneath his feet.
Tomo watched the boy on the security monitor as he frantically searched for the JERICHO entrance. Tomo snickered to himself. The boy wouldn't find anything. He was a simple civilian, and JERICHO was a well-funded military organization, so he was certain they'd be able to hide their base, and security cameras well enough that some random city slicker wouldn't be able to find them. He could of course let the boy in, but Tomo was taking a certain satisfaction in watching the boy squirm. He laugh and chortled as he continued to dangling what the boy was looking for just out of his sight. But soon, he lost his enjoyment in leading the boy on and decided it was time to let him in.
Open the main door, Tomo ordered one of his mind controlled JERICHO diclonius. Mindlessly they obeyed, entering the code that trigger the unlocking sequence. There was a small rumble as a piece of Earth rose out of the ground, much to the boys shock, revealing a elevator shaft. There were two ways to enter JERICHO base. One was through the hanger bay door, which was as big as the whole clearing. The second was what JERICHO referred to as the "main door." It had primarily been used to transport large number of soldiers to ground level, as well as many of their armored vehicles, which they had been forced to abandon in the wake of Tomo's takeover.
The boy stepped forward, examining the elevator with great trepidation. Finally, he came to a decision and stepped inside, to which Tomo gave the order to bring him down. As the elevator door clanged shut and the piece of Earth slowly sank back into place, Tomo walk out of the viewing room and headed for the entrance, eager to greet his first arrival in person. He waited patiently by the elevator door until, there was a soft 'ping', and the doors lowly slid open to reveal a very apprehensive looking boy. He stepped out into the hallway, examining his foreign surroundings, so intent that he didn't even notice Tomo at first.
Welcome, Tomo intoned, doing his best to sound like a gracious host greeting a special guest. The boy tripped over his feet in surprise, falling with a hard thud on his side. He looked up now to finally look Tomo in the face, looking more scared than he was a moment ago.
"W-W-Who are you?" he stammered. Tomo smiled warmly at him, though in his own mind it was a humorous smirk. The boys fear was so apparent he might as well been wearing it like a sign. Tomo reached out his hand to help the boy up. He hesitated for a moment, then took Tomo's hand as he pulled him back up to both feet.
I apologize for surprising you, Tomo said with a bow, My name is Tomo, and I am the one that summoned you here. Tomo turned to walk back down the hall, gesturing with his hand for the rooted boy to follow him. Together the walked down the hall, and boy looking and turning every few seconds at the walls, ceilings, and floor. He looked amazed, but not the excited amazement that Lucy and the others most certainly had when they were first brought here. No, this boy was smarter. He looked suspicious and wary. Deep down, he must have known something was peculiar about all this.
"A-Are the more? You know, people like us?" the boy asked. They had yet to run into any other diclonius since the boys arrival. Tomo had sent out a order through the Source to keep all diclonius free of the path they were following. If they boy was already this suspicious, then brainwashed looking diclonius would only confirm those suspicions. Not that the boy could do anything about it now, but Tomo didn't wish to take any unnecessary risks. Not at this stage in the game.
A few, he answered, keeping his gaze forward, but more should be arriving soon.
"S-S there are m-more coming?" the boy asked, sounding both surprised and a little bit relieved. "Why? What for? What's all this about? What is this place? How did–"
The boy was shooting off all the questions that were plaguing his mind so fast the sentences melded together. Tomo had to raise a hand up to silence the boy.
I will answer all questions soon enough. But not here. First I must show you something.
From that point on, the boy was content to walk in silence. Tomo laughed internally. He had no intention of answering any of the boys questions. Soon he'd have no need for them. Apparently, the boy shared the same weakness Lucy suffered from. Far too trusting. A weakness he planned to cure both this boy…and Lucy…and all diclonius for that matter of very soon. After a long while, they arrived at the door to the destroyed command center. As they approached, the doors automatically slide open and the two stepped inside. The boy looked around and took in all the rubble and destruction around him.
"W-What is this place?" he said, his voice quaking with rising fear. Tomo walked until he stood in the middle of the debris. A throne of destruction that he had built for himself. He sat down on one of the broken computer monitors, crossed his arms, and then set his glare upon the boy.
Do you believe in fate? Tomo asked the boy. The boy looked taken aback by the sudden question.
"I'm not sure I understand what you–"
Answer the question, Tomo spat at him. The boy shuttered and shielded himself behind his outstretched arms.
"N-No, not really," the boy finally answered.
Well I do, Tomo responded, I believe very much that we all have a fate that is assigned to us even before our very birth. And no matter how hard we may fight it, no matter how hard we may struggle…no one can defeat it. There is no choice, only the illusion of choice. We are all slaves to fate. You, me, everyone. And those stupid enough to fight it…they end up dead.
Tomo sent out his mind within the boy and could hear the beating of his heart inside his head. From its fast rate, Tomo could only surmise that his fear was becoming more intense. He could also feel the boys mind twist with rising panic, and see the sweat pour down his nose. And it was good.
"Ummm…I…uhhh." The boy did his best to try and speak, but no words left his lips. Tomo stood up from his throne of broken glass and torn metal and slowly began approaching the boy.
And I used to believe the fate of creatures like us were to suffer. To add balance to the chaotic world of the humans. But boy was I wrong. Tomo inched closer and closer, while the boy's fear made his legs immobile. In my death, I have seen the true fate of not only diclonius, but of the world entire. And I plan to see it carried. Tomo now stood above the boy, Kosuke's tall frame towering over the pitiful creature as he shook violently. The boy looked up to meet him, and for a moment their eyes locked. To Tomo, he looked very weak and insignificant. He raised his hand and placed his palm to cover the boys face. He never even put up a struggle. And you are going to help me, whether you know it or not.
And with a single blast of his mind, Tomo blew the boys consciousness into oblivion.
"So what now?" asked one of the officer sitting at the counsel table. In one of the meeting rooms of JERICHO's secondary mountain base, the surviving officers all gathered with Bishop to try and plan their next strategic plan against Tomo and his new diclonius army. Bishop lifted his head from his palms and again, sadly took in the number of officers who had managed to escape. Every time he did, the number seemed to grow fewer and fewer. Bishop folded his hands before his mouth and rested the tip of his nose on his fingers. He wracked his brain for any answer to that question, but nothing came. He felt under attack beneath everyone's expectant stares. Luckily, someone else spoke before he could voice his lack of an answer.
"The number of soldiers we have at our disposal has been cut nearly in half," said one of the officers, sounding near panic stricken.
"Not to mention that we had to abandon most of our equipment, and everything here is either out of date technology, second-rate, or completely worthless," added another. It was true that this base had been poorly taken care of. In fact, it was less of a base and was more a glorified storage unit. Anything JERICHO equipment that either became obsolete or was hardly ever used was placed here.
"The private quarters and food rations are pitiful," another chimed in. With each complaint, Bishop felt the weight inside his head grow bigger and bigger until it threatened to crush his senses.
"And the best part is we can't even get in contact with the main office or ANY of the higher ups," the officer to Bishop's right said. With that final "comforting" bit of information they turned to face Bishop again, as if he might have some miracle plan to get them out of this mess.
Oh sure, Bishop thought, I got a plan all right. Let me just pull it out of my ass, along with my magic pot of gold!
"In other words," Bishop said, "We're up shit creek without a paddle." There was a soft collective groan of defeat among the gathered officers as they all bowed their heads. Bishop quickly looked from one to the other. As he did, he could sense a deeper despair the further he examined. And the more he looked, the more he knew what his duty was in all of this. It was clear to him now that HE had to be the one to inspire hope in these men. They were all officers, yet they were all looking to him. Regardless of how hopeless their situation was, the fact remained that he was still leader of JERICHO, and as long as that fact remained true, neither he nor any of his men were going to give up or give in. With that in mind, Bishop stood up from his seat so fast he set it falling of its legs.
"Alright men listen up," he commanded, feeling like a leader for the first time since they got here, "There's no getting around the fact that we're in deep trouble. But that doesn't we ain't going to meet this challenge head on. We're not like other military organizations. We're JERICHO!" Bishop gave a small pause for effect, taking in the others reactions. He could see the small seed of hope planted within them. Good, he thought with a smile, now time to water that seed. "We can most certainly expect Tomo to know where we are and that he come to finish us off. And when he does, we'll be ready for the worst." Bishop turned to the man on his left and gave the order.
"You, I want you to go through all the personnel files we have on hand. If we don't have any, interview soldiers in person if you have to. Just find out our total number of soldiers and their rankings. Let's see if we can't replace some of the officers we lost." Bishop then turned to the man at his right. "You, I'm putting you in charge of coming up with a defense plan. Taking inventory on any weapons or tools we have and figure out how we can best use them." Finally, he turned to face the rest of the officers. "The rest of you, I want you to get this place running like clockwork. This is a JERICHO base dammit, and it looks pathetic as it is. If this place is to be our grave, then I at least want it to be spotless. Do I make myself clear?"
"SIR, YES SIR!"
All the officers stood as one as gave the JERICHO salute. Bishop looked round the table and saw the steadfast determination that he prized in these men. It made him proud to call himself their commander.
He watched as they all left the room one at a time until he was left alone. Once by himself, Bishop sank back into the head chair and heaved an enormous sigh. He wished he was as confident or as brave as he sounded. But he needed to keep up this front for his men. If he wasn't brave enough to lead, how could he expect his men to follow? At the very least, he thought that if this was to be their end, then they'd be sure to give Tomo as much trouble as humanly possible. And Tomo would find out that humans were capable of causing a LOT of trouble.
It had been years since Lucy felt this much anger and hate, yet what scared her the most was how simple it had been to return to such emotions. Since their arrival at the new JERICHO base and her less than friendly encounter with Bishop, she'd been avoiding everyone, even Kohta. In fact, if she were being truthful with herself, she'd say especially Kohta. She had not at all appreciated how he had refused to take her side on the matter of the twins Yuka and Nyu. The one time she absolutely needed him more than nay other time, and he couldn't be there for her. Well fine, she thought. And ever since then, she'd shut herself in her shack of a private quarter. She had barely eaten and hadn't slept in days. If she didn't calm down, she might drive herself crazy. But Lucy didn't want to calm down. Sitting in her room, half clothed in darkness, Lucy was starting to have the scary thought that her anger might have been what kept her alive. It was only after her attitude change that all this suffering started to happen. Back in the old days, this never would've happened. If anyone like Tomo, or RAVEN, or anyone suspicious crossed her path, she'd have killed them then and there and be done with it. Maybe she'd become too soft after all these years? Maybe on some level, and it pained her to admit this, Tomo was right?
Lucy sat alone in her room as she stared blankly at a plate of food that had been delivered to her room as these thoughts swam in her mind. Sitting on the stiff bed, the lights only halfway illuminating the room, Lucy stared at the food that didn't even entirely look edible, whatever it was. Even if it were, she wouldn't have felt much like eating. She was taking out her anger and frustration out on herself, starving her body until she felt pain from the hunger. Not the healthiest idea, but it was the best outlet she had at the moment. There was a loud banging on the door that caught her attention.
"Lucy?" came the familiar sound of Kohta's voice from the other side. "Will you please open the door?"
Lucy rolled her eyes and turned her gaze back toward her plate. Kohta had been trying to talk to her for days now, and Lucy had done all she could to ignore him. She didn't feel much like talking. How could she when she knew he'd wan to talk about things she didn't want to think about? There was another series of loud knocks.
"I know you're in there Lucy. Please talk to me?"
About what Lucy thought? She knew all too well what he would say. He'd try to convince her that everything was going to be alright, that Bishop didn't abandon their girls, that he did what he thought was best. But she was sick of being reassured. She was sick of being told everything would be alright. Because she wasn't sure of anything, and nothing was ever alright. Not in her life anyway. So she decided she would cling to her anger and her blame. It was the only thing that was worth it.
Kohta continued to pound and beg for Lucy to come out for another thirty minutes before he finally gave up. It almost made Lucy angry that he did. He was so wishy-washy. He hardly ever committed to anything. Even with Bishop to blame for Tomo having captured their children (and for all they knew the twins were dead), Kohta couldn't even find it in himself to blame the man. His ease toward forgiveness, his understanding, the traits and qualities that had caused Lucy to fall in love with him in the first place were now a sickness in her heart.
And worst of all…Lucy still felt guilty.
She knew within herself that she shouldn't feel these things. She had been down the path these feelings took you down for many lonely years, and she did not wish to experience that again. Yet she felt like chains leading into a downward spiral were pulling her, and she felt obligated to surrender to their power. So she did nothing to stop it.
Lucy looked up, turning her head to examine the room. So bare and plain, devoid of anything of any interest. And the silence was so absolute. Lucy had never thought the sound of nothing could be so maddening. Loneliness threatened to overtake her, and in a fit of rage, she picked up the plate of food and hurled in at the wall. The food went flying everywhere, and the plate shattered in a shower of broken glass. If she didn't need the bed to sleep on, she would've destroyed that too. Instead, she buried her face deep in her pillow and let out a loud scream. The pillow muffled the scream, but to Lucy it echoed as if she were in the deepest canyon.
After laying still for a long while, Lucy finally pulled the covers over her body and closed her eyes, trying desperately to find sleep. Luckily, her body was so deprived of energy that sleep came quickly to her. Finally, after days of not sleeping, her body drifted off into cold, dreamless unconsciousness.
"Please Lucy? Just come out!"
Kohta's hands had gone red and raw from his constant pounding on the metal door. Yet with all his begging, Lucy remained shut up in her room. He waited quietly outside her room for a little while longer, hoping he might catch her coming out for food or something else. For a moment, he thought he heard activity in her room and perked up, thinking she was about to finally exit her room. But no such luck. After a while, Kohta finally gave in and decided to try again later.
Kohta couldn't understand any of this. Things had gone from bad to worse, and he still had no idea why things had gotten to this point. But that didn't matter to him anymore. Why Tomo had come back and what he wanted didn't interest him at this point. Let JERICHO deal with him. That was their duty anyway. As far as he was concerned, he wanted nothing more to do with Tomo or JERICHO. All Kohta cared about now was saving what was left of his family from collapsing around his ears. Yet it seemed like he was powerless in that venture too. He couldn't very well save his family if the woman he loved refused to talk to him. Kohta was starting to come to the conclusion that this was all his fault. He had befriended Ray, he had put his faith in JERICHO, he had defended Bishop's decision, and look where all of that had gotten him and his family.
But Kohta was determined. He refused to wallow in guilt and self-pity. He had done that too many times in the past. He was sick of being weak and sick of having to rely on others to pull him up. Kanae, Nyu, Yuka, Lucy, he'd relied so heavily on all of them because he never learned to let go of blaming himself for things he couldn't change. Well not anymore. He refused to be that way. He needed to be strong now more than ever. So he would turn his guilt into determination. He'd keep on Lucy until they talked, they'd work things out, figure out a way to get Nyu and Yuka back, and then go back to their old lives together.
He marched back to his room, determined to get a good night's sleep and try again on Lucy tomorrow, when he noticed Nana and Mayu leaning against the wall outside his room. They must have been waiting for him because when they looked up to see him there, they both ran to meet him.
"How did it go?" Mayu asked. Kohta sighed and shook his head.
"She still won't come out," he told them. The two young girls bowed theirs heads and frowned, as if they too felt blame for what was happening.
"I just don't know what to do anymore?" Mayu said through sniffles. Nana looked like she was damn near ready to break out in full tears. Kohta sympathized with them, and even understood. He felt the exact same way. But this was no time to be feeling self-pity. They all needed to be strong. And how could he expect them to be strong if he didn't lead by example. Kohta placed a firm hand on each of their shoulders, leaning over to look them both directly in the eye so they could each see how deeply he meant what he said.
"Everything will be ok," he told them, "Lucy just needs sometime, but she'll come around soon. And when she does, we'll rescue Yuka and Nyu, go home, and everything will be exactly like it was before." The girls returned his look. They seemed to perk up a bit, but still appeared somewhat unsure.
"But Tomo," Nana began, but Kohta silenced her with a simple gesture of the hand.
"Tomo is JERICHO's problem, not ours," Kohta said. "All we need to worry about is saving Yuka and Nyu. After that, Tomo will never be able to hurt us again. We'll go back to Kamakura and he'll never find us." Kohta smiled at them in hopes of lightening their gloomy mood. Thankfully, he saw a pair of weak smiles spread across their faces as the wiped away the freshly formed tears.
"Yeah, you're right Kohta," Nana said, doing her best to mimic Kohta's attitude, "All we got to do is stick together like we always do, and we'll all be fine." Kohta smiled at her, then reached down to pat her head, which brought a small blush to Nana's cheeks.
"That's the spirit," Kohta said to her. He then ushered them off to their rooms and watched as they went. Nana apparently was getting over excited about Kohta's uplifting talk, and as she and Mayu walked away appeared to be talking an posing dramatically in the halls, causing Mayu to walk a few steps ahead out of embarrassment. Kohta was happy to see them in such renewed spirits as they turned the corner and vanished from sight. He was proud to see that he had managed to bring them out of their depressive slumps. He was even more proud to find that even he believed the words he had spoken.
They had come so naturally, and at first he thought he only said them to help lift them up. But now that they were gone, he found it in himself that he truly did believe everything would be ok. Sure, he didn't have a plan right now, and another confrontation with Tomo would certainly come. But his steadfast determination not to give into despair was now very real within him. And for the first time in his life, he felt like he had the real power to do something.
With a fire hotter than the setting sun burning in both his mind and his heart, Kohta set off down the hall, looking desperately for Bishop's office.
From the cold darkness of the former JERICHO command center, Tomo stood in the carnage that was once Bishop's main office. The room, and the entire base for that matter, was now filled with a silence that some might have consider overbearing. It was the type of silence that made the true horror of solitude freshly apparent in ones thoughts. Yet sitting there in the silence and darkness, he was not alone. He reached out with his mind and stretched his consciousness into the Source. Once there, he could feel the collective conscious of the Source begin to rumble eagerly for what he was sure would be the realization of diclonius potential.
While there, he could also sense the approaching diclonius as more and more came to answer his call from all over the world. And soon they would all be simple ranks in his army to realize the diclonius potential. And this potential would change the world into something very different.
But most interestingly, he could feel Lucy. He could feel her as clearly as if she were physical here standing next to him. And he knew of her suffering, and he knew of her growing anger and hate. He could feel her slowly turning into the beautiful monster she had once been. The monster he had come to love simply by feeling her within his mind all those years ago. Slowly, she was returning to her true self. Tomo smiled to himself.
Everything was going according to plan.
A/N: And there goes another one. Sorry this one took longer, but I've been busy with home stuff, and there have been some other problems that I won't go into detail. But the important thing is I got this chapter finished and up for you guys to read. I tried to put a bit of hope into this chapter, thinking that I was milking the "angst" a little too much. Anyway, hoped you liked this one.
As Tomo gathers power and diclonius for his army, Bishop and Kohta manage to find hope for the future and success of the coming battle. Their hope soon becomes infectious as the rest of JERICHO answer the call for one last battle. But with Lucy still suffering from her personal agony, and slowly regressing back to her former self, will she be able to get it together in order to aid the others before it's too late? Find out in the next chapter of Elfen Lied: The End.