Ch. 11: Kill or be Killed

Whoo! Inspiration struck at last and just in time for Christmas! I should warn you, there's a rather intense fight in this chapter, but I think Mira can win. I should also mention that I don't own Mira's opponents. All the same, enjoy!

Several miles away from Central Park, a lone brownstone apartment sagged on its foundation. None of the floors were occupied; the building was not considered safe for living in and was due to be torn down and rebuilt in time. However, the building was not unoccupied.

Down in the basement, by the glow of candlelight, a lone hand sprinkled powder over the dust of long-dead creatures. Handsome features twisted upwards in a cruel smile as the dust became solid masses of bone, muscle, and bone.

"For the good of the human race, I raise thee," the man whispered. "Now go."
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"That one. Over there."

"I see it. Alright, watch this." Narrowing her eyes, Mira focused on a small rock about five feet away. Pointing her claws at it, Mira thrusted her hand, palm outward, toward the solid mass. At once, black flames sprung up around the rock and it quickly developed into a puddle of molten goo. James laughed and applauded.

"You're getting really good at that, Mira." The half-demon grinned at him.

"Thanks. I think I've really got the hang of this now." Mira was glad; before speaking with John, using her fire power (inherited from her southern land-dwelling father) had been a gamble at best. After a week or two of hard practice, however, Mira had managed to not only harness the fire, but to use it however she pleased.

The door behind the two friends opened and Centipede and Miss Spider stepped out onto the deck. Centipede blew a ring of smoke off his cigar.

"You still meltin' rocks? The joggers'll thank ya, Mira."

"Hah hah," Mira replied, but grinned all the same. She had a feeling that Centipede, having been present when John told her about Christoph, understood her desire to master her demon side the most. After all, if she mastered her demon blood, perhaps it wouldn't master her.

Miss Spider smiled at Mira before turning her attention to her son.

"Come now, James. It's time for bed."

"Oh, okay," the boy agreed. "Bye, Mira."

"See ya, James."

"Night, kiddo," Centipede said, ruffling James's hair. He waited until Miss Spider and James were out of earshot before turning to the half-demon. "You.. doin' okay?"

"More or less," Mira said with a shrug. "Landon and his pack have been a huge help; I've managed to stave off my berserker phase while training with them, but maybe it's also because I knew my life wasn't in danger."

"Bein' tag-teamed by a bunch of werewolves an' you don't feel like you're in danger? Wow…" Mira flicked her tail.

"Well, I've managed to throw Landon into- what was that?"

"What?"

Mira started into the surrounding trees of the forest, her senses on high alert. There was something in the shadows and she was certain it wasn't human.

"I heard something!"

"Earthworm, there are tons of people in the city and it's a warm summer night. A good number of them are probably in the park right now."

"Hold up," Centipede called into the house "Mira hears something too!" The half-demon had jumped off the deck and was standing on the lawn, sniffing the air. Behind her, Mr. Grasshopper, Mrs. Ladybug, and Earthworm stepped outside to join Centipede. Miss Spider was, obviously, still upstairs with James. This was good; Mira had a bad feeling about whatever was lurking in the dark.

"Show yourself!" she called, extending her claws.

"Mora, don't aggravate it!" Earthworm wailed, but Mira's challenge had not gone unheeded. Something came shuffling out of the shadows and sat crouched on the ground , only a few feet away from the half-demon.

Mira stared at the strange creature. He had pink-tinted white hair and an effeminate face. His sea-green eyes were blank and he released a soft breath, the sound akin to a death rattle, his noxious breath heavy with the reek of death.

He… he smells lifeless. And the air. It's so cold around him. Mira tapped a foot against the ground, feeling the hair on the nape of her neck prickle. The creature cocked his head, his eyes fixed on his quarry.

"Mira, is that a demon?" Mira heard Mr. Grasshopper ask.

"I- I think so. But… I think it's a dead demon."

"What?"

"Some one raised this thing from the dead and I have a pretty good idea who it was." Mira tensed as the creature released another rattling breath and charged. Mira jumped out of the way and as she did, she saw the dent the creature left in the ground.

He's strong! Landing lightly on her feet, Mira kept her back to the Trotter family and kept her eyes fixed on the demon. The creature's mouth curved upwards in a blank, but extremely devious grin.

"Are you alright, Mira?" Mrs. Ladybug called.

"Stay back!" Mira called. Something was wrong, she could feel it. But where…

"AHHHHH!" The ground behind her exploded upwards. Something bright flew upwards and right through Mira's torso. The half-demon fell forward, feeling her blood pouring from the wound.

"Wha-what?"

"Mira!"

"I'm fine! Just don't get involved." A low chuckle answered as the shiny figure took shape. It looked like a snake with two arms that ended in scythes. Its head was an exact replica of the larger demon, but its eyes sparkled with intelligence. The thing daintily wiped its lips with the edge of a scythe.

"Ahhh, the blood of a female," it said in a distinctly male voice. "And of a half-demon, no less. My thanks."

"What IS that thing?" Mira clearly heard Centipede yell. The creature lifted its head to stare at its audience.

"I am Kageromaru. I was lying dormant in my brother Juromaru's belly. But now that there's fresh meat at hand, I am more than eager to claim my share." The larger demon tilted its head and smiled, hissing once again. Mira struggled to her feet.

"Juromaru and Kageromaru, is it? Well, I'm still here, so you'll have to get through me to harm anyone." The snake-like monster chuckled again.

"Brave words for such a little thing. But if you insist… Juromaru!" At the sound of his brother's voice, the larger demon sprang forward and Mira barely dodged the heavy blow.

"Mira, behind you!" Once again, Kageromaru came flying out of the ground, but this time Mira managed to jump out of the way and only received a minor slice on her leg. The half-demon paused, gasping for breath and hissing in pain.

I'm in trouble. These guys are tag-teaming me; if I don't do something quickly, they're going to bring me down. And then… Mira had a sudden mental image of all the people she knew lying dead on the ground, cut to ribbons and partially eaten. At once, the fierce demon blood in her veins began pounding and her vision started to turn red.

No! No! If I go berserk now, then I'LL be the fun my friends will have to fear. Mira fell to her knees, glaring at Juromaru through slitted eyes. He was grinning again, just like he had when…

That was it! Mira stood up, still swaying.

"Mira!"

"I've got an idea! Stay back!" Mira charged straight toward Juromaru, claws bared.

I hope I'm right! Juromaru hissed, opening his mouth. His maw was shining and with a flash out light, Kageromaru burst forth, scythes bared.

"I'll slice you to bits!" he roared.

"Go back to where you came from!" Mira shouted. At once, black flames sprung up from her claws and both demons burst into flames as the half-demon sliced them from head to foot. With a final scream, the dead demons vanished into a pile of dust, leaving only a bloodied half-demon behind.

"Got them." Mira murmured, slumping back against a tree. "And this time, I hope they stay dead."
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"Don't worry, I'll be fine tomorrow."

"Mira, you have a hole in your torso. Even if you do have remarkable recovery powers, it still needs to be cleaned."

Mira chose not to reply; Mrs. Ladybug was taking the fact that she had been pierced through her middle a lot better than Mira thought she would. The half-demon winced as Mrs. Ladybug rubbed some sort of antiseptic cream over her back.

"In the meantime, you can stay here tonight, Mira." Mira raised her eyes from where she was lying face-down on a clean sheet in front on the Trotter's fireplace. Mr. Grasshopper was pacing around the living room. "You've lost a lot of blood tonight; you're not strong enough to travel home."

"He's right, Mira. I don't need to stitch your wound, but I'd rather you not move around a lot until this hole heals itself." With a sigh, Mira dropped her head back onto the pillow she had been resting on.

"I'm not going to win if I argue with you, am I?"

"No. But you already won the more important of the battles."

"Yeah, well, there are gonna be more of them. Christoph put innocent lives in danger tonight; if he hasn't been kicked out of the Crusader order yet, he's expelled now."

"Which will make it easier for you find him, if the other Crusaders will want him gone as well. When you heal, Mira," Mrs. Ladybug added as Mira made yet another attempt to get up.

"Alright, I give. I'll stay right here." Despite the whole situation, Mira was glad that she had such good friends whom she could not only help, but who would help her as well.