As you may have guessed, I am now off my hiatus and am finally concluding Chosen. Thank you all for your generous support and kind reviews and criticisms, as well as waiting for so long… Many thanks to waterlit, lupyne, Chocolate and caramel and Souldin for their review on the previous chapter!
And I am so sorry, it appears I uploaded the wrong conclusion to the wrong story! Ah, the perils of working with similiar titles... I apologise!
The entire Chomesuke story is only a part of a greater arc. Hopefully, time permitting, I will be starting up a new fic or entire series on this greater, overarching storyline.
I think I must admit – I spelled Sachiko as "Sakicho" a few times while writing. Ah well.
Meanwhile, thank you all once again for your support, Diclonious57, Kyuu333, waterlit, Pika318 and Chocolate and caramel, as well as 0Infinity0 and Holly-Batali! Special thanks must go out to lupyne and Souldin as well... Even for those who just read the fic, your support is really appreciated!
As always, please do feel free to comment and leave constructive criticism.
Thank you all once again –
Chosen – Chapter Seven
They stood no chance. After Lavi had challenged the Earl, the present four Noahs, and the countless Akumas, a single Noah had casually defeated him comprehensively. The Earl wasn't visible where she was, but Chomesuke was positive she heard a snicker.
Actually – Tyki Mikk hadn't defeated Lavi yet – but was merely toying about, feeling bored and looking to vent his frustration. The Noah had actually courteously allowed for Lavi to stand up each time he got thrown into a roof, wall, or ground – and Lavi was quickly tiring of the game.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Exorcists didn't have it easy either. At the Earl's command, thousands upon thousands of Akumas fused together, being drawn into an impossibly large shape. The Combined Akuma surveyed its surroundings, then let out a bestial yet mechanical roar.
"Whaa –" "That's nothing!" brushed Bookman, although he was clearly as surprised as everybody else. "Those idiot machines just joined together to form a bigger idiot machine! Take it down!" Krory clapped his hands, running the tip of his tongue over his dry lips – the taste of Akuma blood, finally! He bared his fangs and leapt into the air, followed quickly after by the small figure of Bookman…
Chomesuke, as one of the "idiot machines", laughed softly. Plucking Timcampy from her head, she shook the golem playfully, even though she quickly felt her energy draining away from her. Retrieving Bookman's present, still wrapped in the cloth, she felt its light weight, and then unwrapped it slightly to expose the present within.
The pale light glinted on Bookman's Innocence-laced needle as she held it in its cloth. Even through the cloth, as weakened as she was, the very presence of the needle made her left hand go numb. She laughed inwardly: how weak she had become! Shaking that aside, she picked up a couple of metallic bottles, and then placed the needle on her right wrist.
… and as predicted, the combined efforts of Bookman, Miranda and Krory had virtually no effect upon the gigantic Combined Akuma. All their attacks were shrugged off as it hit the lower parts of the Akuma's legs, and meanwhile behind it congregating clouds of Akuma started to create more Combined Akuma.
Meanwhile, the one they were currently engaged in opened its large mouth, a purple circle materializing in front of it. Raising its arms in a grotesque fashion about it, a hoarse guttural voice drawled slowly. The Akuma croaked: "Evil – Star – Gita…" Faster than any of its actions to date, a gigantic purple circle appeared behind it, with a pentagram inscribed on it: from its points spiralling beams of destruction trailed, lashing the Edo landscape, leaving the once-picturesque view of Edo in tatters. Chomesuke's safehouse narrowly avoided destruction thanks to Miranda's Time Out ability, but only just.
Lavi jumped as the attack struck, the neighbor of the house he was on being torn apart violently by the sheer force of the attack. Meanwhile, Tyki Mikk descended upon him again, taunting him in a low drawl. Lavi raised his hammer to block, but it was no use – one flare of light later, Lavi found himself half-buried in the rubble of a wall. Bookman yelled at him.
"Idiot – I thought you said you were going to beat the crap out of him?" "I could say the same for you, Gramps," Lavi deadpanned as best as he could, while trying to pull himself out of the ruins of the wall.
"He's one person – we've this big idiot machine!" yelled Bookman. "That's no point for comparison… the only weak point is his head, and so far all the highest we've gone is to skin his knee!" Before Lavi could retort, there was an unexpected interruption in the form of Chomesuke's calm voice.
"I'll fly you up to the top of his head." Lavi and Bookman immediately stopped, turning their heads to look at her. Lavi spoke first – "Chome…" but Chomesuke cut him off, a vein throbbing visibly in the forehead, her eyes completely black.
"I don't have much time left anyway… I've made it much further than I ever thought I would, cho. I guess I should deserve some applause for sticking with it all the way to the end…" Miranda teared, sobbing into Lenalee's shoulder, who quickly wrapped her arm about the older Exorcist. At the sound, Chomesuke mechanically jerked her head, walking over to where the two were.
"Pass this to the old vampire, will you cho?" she smiled, and although it looked frightening on her face with the black eyes, they couldn't help but smile back, if only a little, on the edges of their lips, with tears still running down Miranda's face. Chomesuke ran her fingers over the ornate decoration on the outside of a small bottle, then passed a small basket containing a few bottles over to the Exorcists.
Level Two Akuma blood – not as tasty as a Level Three's, presumably – but it'll help him nonetheless, thought Chomesuke, grateful for her long-sleeved kimono to hide the growing wound on the right wrist.
Turning back to the three Exorcists, she nodded. Suddenly shedding her human façade, leaving the monstrous form of the Akuma behind, Chomesuke beckoned them to leap on board. With Lavi, Bookman and Krory perched on her shoulders, Chomesuke mock-saluted the rest of the group, then kicked off into the air.
At this new – if slightly feeble – threat, Evil Star Gita was unleashed again. Chomesuke skillfully dodged the incoming projectiles in the air, looping over and under the continuous purple blasts – for the first six seconds.
A beam tore through Chomesuke's right, ripping off the mechanical arm, Krory narrowly avoided being blown clean off the Akuma's back. Thrown off balance, Chomesuke veered, making herself an easy target for another beam to tear right through her left flank, destroying her limbs on the left. Chomesuke whined as electricity began to crackle about her head, and smoke started to seep from the many cracks in her metallic exterior.
They continued in this way for a few more interminable seconds, before they reached half of the Combined Akuma's height. By this point, the combined effects of the damage dealt to Chomesuke had stretched the Akuma to the positive breaking point, with the metallic covering coming off in rusted and blackened parts. "Go!" she urged them, and with a moment's hesitation, Lavi and Krory kicked off, leaping the rest of the distance up. Bookman also crouched down to jump, but whispered a word to the Akuma which cut through all the noise and the cacophony of battle.
Immediately after Chomesuke felt Bookman's feet launch himself off of her, she gave up the fight and lost altitude, spiraling downwards towards the city. She saw the destroyed city rushing up towards her, but also felt the circuits within burning out and being consumed by the Akuma's attacks, something which would eventually condemn the soul that powered her to oblivion.
Timcampy fluttered about her head as she fell, an expression of concern etched onto his strange face. "Timcampy…" she weakly called out, as her diction blurred and the her vision sensors started to fail.
Even through the miasma, she saw the glistening of her present in Timcampy's mouth, and the questioning expression on his face. The tips of her strange, cracked lips lifted upwards in a semblance of a smile, and Timcampy took it as his cue. Flying straight, he thrust the needle straight, deep into the middle of Chomesuke's head, and flew off.
Chomesuke closed her eyes as she felt the Innocence in the needle course through the remnants of her broken being. At this level, even a single needle would be sufficient to assure her destruction.
Who are you? she wondered about the soul which – or who? – yearned for freedom, and now would finally get it. How thoughtful of Bookman. I hope you'll be happy cho… She tried to grin, bits of metal crinkling and falling off in the process.
And then her world went blank.
Surprisingly, Lavi was right. General Theodore's team arrived soon after, the Exorcists making short work of the rest of the Akuma in the area. All told, it wasn't a convincing victory, for the Earl destroyed Edo utterly anyway, and then inexplicably retreated with the promise of return.
Bookman's present unknown to the rest of the squad, the Exorcists had watched in horror the spectacular demise of a single Akuma whose very existence was arguably a mistake that they had sworn to correct. Still, they found a little piece of their heart shattering – if only a little – and even though Lavi never let any of it show on his face, his heart cringed at the splitting sound of the explosion behind him.
Again unknown to all except Bookman, Chomesuke actually found something she was looking for. Unsurprisingly, all her years of being an Akuma – even Cross' – didn't earn her a single word of thanks.
Many Akuma died that night, but there was only grieving for one.
SA-KI-CHO seemed to be the only word the Akuma knew, as it advanced towards the trembling girl. Sachiko whined inarticulately as the Earl of the Millenium gripped her lightly by her shoulders, forcing her to watch as the metal skeleton lumbered towards her.
"Why did you turn me into an Akuma!" roared the machine, except its human voice quavered and broke on the last syllable. If it had tears it would be choking it back by now – but the Akuma's body jerkily followed orders from the Earl, slowly and mechanically walking across the cemetery grounds towards Sachiko.
"Because I chose to, didn't I?" The Millennium Earl's grin froze for a moment, than grew imperceptibly wider. The girl's honesty – and naïveté – was indeed refreshing; he wondered when he'd find another human like that. How ironic, really: the Akuma had no choice whatsoever. Shrugging a little, he lazily stretched a gloved finger in the Akuma's direction. "You there," he drawled. The Akuma's head automatically swiveled to face him.
"Kill her, and wear her skin," he suggested, holding a petrified Sachiko in his grip. She struggled weakly, but the Earl tsk-tsked and held her a little tighter.
"Eh – wh –" If Sachiko was scared before, she was absolutely terrified now. Fear rooted her to the spot, unable to even react. The Akuma grew closer still, still yelling the same question over and over, and hurling curses every which way, mind unwilling but body moving to take over Sachiko's place, to silently cause her death without anyone else grieving for her at all.
"Why did you – turn me – into an Akuma! Sa – ki – cho!" The Akuma's breath seemingly became ragged, as it reached the spot where the Millennium Earl gently held Sachiko in his arms. Stepping back, he released her from his grip – the result being that Sachiko immediately crumpled onto the floor, her knees buckling from underneath here; while keeping her teary eyes focused on the Akuma.
"SA – KI –" "Because I chose to…" whimpered Sachiko, vision blurring from tears, but even so clearly discerning the metal arm jerkily rising above her head. "SA – SA – KI –" The Akuma faltered a moment, heavy lethal metal arm held high above Sachiko's fragile skull, jerkily frozen in place but shuddering all over.
"Because I chose to! – I chose to!" wailed Sachiko, suddenly leaping forward, not away. Grabbing onto the metal mannequin, she sobbed into the metal as if it were a comforting human shoulder. The cold metal stung her cheek but she didn't care, containing to cry and cry out. Around them, the drizzle exploded and became a positive downpour, rain cascading noisily about them.
The Earl nonchalantly flicked a finger across his throat.
The Akuma came back to life, its metal arm reaching higher and higher in the air, readying itself for the inevitable fatal strike, straight into Sachiko's skull. The girl herself simply busied herself by hugging the Akuma's torso, while the Akuma screamed. "Chose to? Chose to? CHOSE TO! Why! Sakicho! SAKICHO! SA – KI –"