A note from Aimz: DO NOT READ/REVIEW THIS CHAPTER YET. PLEASE CHECK THE NOTE AT THE BOTTOM FOR THE REASON!
Chapter 8: Double Shot of Darkness (Part 1)
"There he is!"
The shouts went by unheard to Ikuto, who continued to bound and leap from tall building to tall building, down to the occasional smaller building, then back up again. His mouth was set in a determined line, and his eyes stared straight ahead at any oncoming walls or rooftops. Only the heavy sound of blood pounding in his ears could be heard to him, and nothing more. He was focused on only one goal: to escape.
Landing on a slanted rooftop he paused to catch his breath. He looked over his shoulder, and saw tiny specks moving at a quickly towards him. The sounds of sirens and screeching tyrescomplimented the distant shouting voices. He turned away, knowing that while he hadn't lost them, the police squad had fallen behind him in the chase. Still in his character change, he propelled himself forward once more. The hat and glasses disguise had long since fallen off, not that it would have made much of a difference.
"Ikuto-nya! I need to tell you something!" Yoru yelled to his owner between cupped paws. Ikuto quickly glanced back, but what words he would have spoken were cut off by a loud whirring sound behind him. Covering his cat ears and holding down his wind-disturbed hair, he watched open-mouthed as a small helicopter soared over him. At the helicopter's door, a man clad in cap and earmuffs sat crouched on his knees with a camera resting on his shoulder. Next to him, a professional-looking woman stood with a microphone in her hand.
"And we're coming to you live from Newscopter 5 as we follow the Victoria Police pursing long-time criminal, Ikuto Tsukiyomi..."
Ikuto didn't hear the comments made about him, nor would he have wanted to. Instead, he sprinted forward to the other side of the building and jumped.
"Ikuto, this is important!"
"Later, Yoru!" Ikuto answered, yelling over the sirens that increased in volume. Again, he kicked against the surface, propelling himself forward over the large gap that separated him from the rooftop opposite. He landed with ease, and immediately started moving forward towards the other end of the building.
"I can sense that samurai chara-nya!"
Ikuto stopped. "Where?" The chara pointed a pawed hand towards the far edge of the building. With one more sideward glance at the now-distant helicopter, Ikuto sprinted in that direction, leapt high into the air, and fell down into the alleyway below. Without a second thought he ran towards the main street, half-expecting to find Kairi somewhere out there. He stopped before he stepped out; those now familiar sirens were getting closer, growing louder as the seconds flew by He rested against the cool brick wall, body tense and ready to move.
Ikuto turned around to face Kairi, who was running towards him. He wrinkled his nose; the closer he got to him, the stronger the stench was. "Kairi? How long have you been here for?" he asked. The younger boy looked dishevelled, his once-neat appearance now stained and untidy.
"N-Not very long ..."
"Doesn't smell like it!" Yoru piped up. Musashi looked ready to say something in return, but instead he reflected his owner's emotions and gave him a weary glare.
"Where's the kid?" Ikuto asked.
"You mean Keen? I lost him. I told him we should stay together, but he ended up running off." Kairi paused to let out a frustrated sigh, and to swipe at a few flies that were buzzing around him. "If only he had followed the plan—"
"Shortly after you left us, Ikuto-san, we were discovered by more police. They chased us both down the main street, until we found a hiding spot in a dumpster. It was his idea to split up, but it went against my plans. I tried to explain, but before I could in much detail, he left and ran off."
Ikuto nodded, and then turned away. He didn't say anything. Kairi walked over to where he was standing and looked out as well.
"You didn't tell me that Tadase was also looking for you."
The question halted Kairi's train of thought. He blinked twice in quick succession, too confused to respond.
Ikuto didn't avert his eyes from the busy street, nor did he repeat his comment. Kairi remained silent, before pushing his glasses further up his nose. "H-He is, but it isn't of a greater importance than your case." He let a shaking hand touch his leg, where the burn would still be, where it will always be. "He wants to find you more so than me."
Ikuto's eyes flickered back onto Kairi. "We need to get out of this country and back to Tokyo. Now."
"We need to hide somewhere, that's what we need to do." Kairi looked down the street and spotted a large, plain-looking building that people seemed to be constantly entering and leaving on a regular basis. The majority of these people carried a shopping bag or two. Seeing this gave him an idea. "Why don't we hide over there, in the mall?" he said, pointing towards the area. But when he turned to look back at Ikuto, he saw that he had already gone ahead of him and had started to make a dash across the road.
Kairi opened his mouth to protest, but stopped himself. From what he had come to known about Ikuto in such a short time, he knew that nothing he could say would change his mind. Reluctantly, he made sure the street was free of any police, before dashing out of the alleyway after him.
The two Guardians had been trying to follow Ikuto as quickly as they could. They had long since lost sight of him, but still they kept looking for any sign of him as they manoeuvred their way through the crowds. Nagihiko, who had long since abandoned the hair-tie that made up his Nadeshiko disguise, was jogging up the street not far behind Kukai. As he ran, he noticed various passer-by's pointing at them and shouting words of encouragement and admiration.
"Over there, Fujisaki!" Nagihiko looked over at where Kukai was pointing: an intersection that was completely surrounded by a barricade of police cars.
They stopped running altogether once they turned the corner. Further down the street, Nagihiko could see that there were many police officers surrounding the front doors of a shopping mall. Some were wandering around aimlessly, others were speaking into walkie-talkies or loading their guns, and the remaining few were urging the exiting shoppers to get out of the building with quick haste. Sirens were ever-blaring around them, while panicking people ran through it all and curious locals watched on; it was a caricature of chaos.
Over at one of the police cars, the young chief that had been chasing Ikuto earlier was enjoying the scene around him. He sat himself down on the boot of the car, and looked around in wonder. "Wow... this is just like in the movies," he said as he nudged his female colleague playfully in the ribs. "We're going to get him, I can feel it!" She ignored him and looked away.
"They are blowing everything out of proportion ..." Nagihiko muttered under his breath, before catching up to Kukai, who had proceeded ahead towards the commotion.
"Fujisaki, will you be able to talk to them?" Kukai said as they walked.
Nagihiko looked at his friend, and gave him a reassuring look. "I know enough English, Souma-kun. I'll handle this." Kukai simply nodded and smiled. They approached a nearby officer, whose weathered face brightened on seeing them.
"Ah, welcome Guardians. What service can we be of for you today?"
Nagihiko stepped forward and smiled up at the older man, while preparing the English words mentally. "Hello, sir. Is Ikuto Tsukiyomi inside?"
"He is. We have chased him to this location, along with another criminal."
"We are on orders to claim him. May we please enter and do so?"
"Yes, of course. Go right ahead."
"Thank you." Nagihiko bowed his head, and then gestured to Kukai to follow him. They left the crazy ruckus behind them once they stepped through the automatic glass doors.
Now out of the public's earshot, he sighed. He rubbed the area between his eyes and frowned. "I don't like doing that. It never feels right."
"It'll be all over soon, Fujisaki. Once we get Tsukiyomi, then we can all band together and save Tadase."
Meanwhile, the young officer watched the two boys enter the shopping mall. Despite his wildest dreams coming true around him, his mind remained elsewhere, in the midst of deep thought. The voices of his fellow friends and colleagues melted into each other, as the words–a translated order–made itself clearer to him.
"My Guardians will be travelling to your area to help in the search ... while they are there, I want you to watch them, and make sure they follow my orders."
Yes, he had to do that. Ever since he joined the force as part of his dream, from his spontaneous recruitment three months ago to now, he knew that whatever King Tadase said was definite; true. No one had to question him, and the very few that did always had to pay. He knew was doing the right thing by catching the criminals, he wanted nothing more than to be loyal to him and to serve to the best of his ability, to please. And if that was what he wanted to see, then maybe—
"Oi, earth to Nathan!"
Hearing his name, the young officer snapped back to reality. "Y-Yeah?"
"If they show any sign of defiance ..."
"What's the next order?"
Nathan didn't need to think about it anymore. He mumbled some sort of request to stay on guard outside, and followed the male Guardians into the building. The officer spread what he was told to the rest of the force, while Nathan's two older colleagues–the ones that made up his trio–followed after him without question. A low growl of thunder rumbled in the clouds above them.
"... Well, you know what to do."
"Wow, this place is bigger than the mall back in Tokyo!"
"It does seem grand ... but we can't focus on this. Let's just try and find Tsukiyomi-san, Souma-kun."
The large, multi-levelled building was empty. It was unusual to see such an area completely bear, despite stores still being open and lights still shining grey tones through the area. Kukai took in the sights around him. For a brief moment he wondered what his four older brothers would think of this place, had they been there with him. Where were his brothers, anyway? He hoped that they were somewhere safe and not in trouble.
And what about her?
"Kukai, isn't that your phone?" Daichi said over the ringing tone, but his owner had already thrust his hand into his jacket pocket.
Nagihiko walked out into the middle of the floor and looked up at the many floors above him. A clock hanging overhead caught his eye; it was an oversized, well-kept pocketwatch. As the second hand slowly moved to point skyward, a small Australian-themed marionette seemed to slide out from behind the clock, and a slow melody began to play and fill the entire building. The tune was relaxing, but it was in the least of Nagihiko's interest.
"Where is that cat?" he said aloud to himself over the music, in a tone that mimicked frustration on the brink of tiredness. He looked above at the ceiling, which seemed to spiral up above him in a glass cone shape. A brick tower aged with time stood in the middle of the complex, reaching up towards the distant roof.
Temari, sensing her owner's thoughts and feelings, came out of hiding from behind Nagihiko's hair and hovered at his side. "He's around here, I can sense his cat-chara," she said.
"Me too." Rhythm said. "But it's faint. Don't give up, yeah?"
Nagihiko didn't answer. The two charas looked at each other, both sensing something wrong, but nothing needed to be said to understand what that was. Temari flew back into her owner's hair, knowing that he didn't want Ikuto seeing her.
As the tune started to come to an end, he noticed that Kukai wasn't with him. He turned around. "Souma-kun, are you okay?"
Kukai looked up, the light coming from the mobile phone's screen reflecting faintly in his eyes. "Yeah?"
He's distracted again, Nagihiko told himself. It was obvious that his mind was somewhat preoccupied by thoughts of her; it must of irritated him that he couldn't contact her with the phone that only accepted calls, not made them. Kukai had confided in him on the plane trip about it, and he felt sorry for his friend.
"Who was it?"
Kukai put the phone back in his pocket. "Just another message from Tadase, as usual. He's gonna phone us later for a mission update."
Nagihiko was ready to query further, until echoed footfalls cut across his unspoken words.
They knew that voice. Nagihiko turned around, his eyes falling on a small figure running towards them. "Sanjou-kun!"
"Long time, no see!" Kukai said as he jogged over to Nagihiko. Kairi met up with the two boys and sighed in relief.
"I didn't think we would meet again so soon." Kairi said.
"We're glad to see ya, buddy!" Kukai laughed light-heartedly as he messed up Kairi's already messed-up hair.
"Please, I would rather you not do that …"
"What have you been doing? Have you found anything that might help us?" Nagihiko asked.
Kairi shook his head. "Not quite. To be brief, I've been in this country for the last two months. We can explain everything to you on the way home, I suppose."
"We? What do you mean?"
"I'll explain it all soon. Why are you both here though?"
"Tadase told us to come here. Apparently Utau's older brother is here, and he wants us to bring him back to Tokyo." Kukai said.
Kairi blinked his eyes, before speaking. "Ikuto-san? He's here, with me."
"Where is he?"
"He's hiding ..." Kairi looked around. He wasn't sure where Ikuto had disappeared off to; the last time he saw him his head had been bobbing in and out of the hordes of people evacuating after an announcement from the police played throughout the entire centre. "Ikuto-san! Please, show yourself! I have some good news!"
His voice echoed out around the empty area briefly, but there was no response. Kairi surveyed the area again; where was he?
"Kairi, if it is of any help, I can sense his chara."
The chara pointed towards the tower. Kairi's eyes followed, only to see that he was right; the catboy could be seen looking down from the tower's top.
Kairi wasn't sure if Ikuto could see him; he was so high up that he and the others would be the size of specks from that height. He must have been able to hear him though; it wasn't long before Ikuto jumped down, and landed in front of the tower's base.
"Yo," said Ikuto. He didn't know who the long-haired guy was, but he felt he knew the other one. "Aren't you Utau's friend?"
"Uh, yeah, you could say that! How did you know?"
"Utau sent me a picture of you two together."
Kairi was surprised that Ikuto knew who Kukai was. He thought that this would be the first time Ikuto had met his friends.
"Anyway, my name's Souma Kukai."
"And I'm Fujisaki Nagihiko." Much like Ikuto didn't know them, the only things they knew about Ikuto was what they had heard from Tadase, back when everything was normal.
Ikuto studied the other boy up and down. "You look familiar, Nagihiko."
"Have we met?"
"No no, of course not!" Naghiko said with a frantic wave of the hand. He had hoped that Ikuto wouldn't remember the incident in the elementary school's home economics room all those years ago. "This is the first time I've seen you, except for when we had to save you, haha."
Ikuto gave Nagihiko a strange look, and looked at the two boys again. "So... you're Tadase's friends?" he asked.
"Closest ones to him!"
"Hotori-kun has told us a lot about you, Tsukiyomi-san."
"I'm sure he has."
While Nagihiko and Ikuto continued chatting, Kukai glanced over his shoulder, and caught three pairs of eyes watching them from behind. Crap, he thought. Isn't that the police? But why are they here? Not liking this, he nudged Nagihiko in the side.
"They're watching us..." he whispered.
The other boy stopped talking and looked at Kukai with questioning. "Who?"
"Those officers. Quick, maintain character."
Nagihiko nodded, dreading his next words to Kairi and Ikuto. "Sorry, but under order of King Tadase, you have to come back with us."
"It sounds sillier the more I hear it." Ikuto said, not taking his words seriously. However, Kairi had noticed the change of tone in his voice.
"Tsukiyomi, because you are wanted for theft. And Sanjou, because of disobeying the royal order."
Kairi wasn't sure what to say; what had brought on this sudden change of character? "G-Guys, what are you—
"Just go with it, ok?" Nagihiko cut across him, his voice suddenly urgent. "Until we are safely seated on a plane out of here."
The three police officers were hiding behind a nearby column. They were watching the interaction between the Guardians and the criminals, and according to Nathan, it was not going to plan. Why was it taking so long to catch them?
Perhaps the King's Guardians weren't following his orders, just as he had warned him about?
He couldn't take any second-guesses. Wordlessly, Nathan held up his gun, which was now radiating a dark glow; it was only necessary when those circumstances arose. He aimed at one of the Guardians' backs, and placed his finger on the trigger. The female officer saw this. "What are you doing?" she whispered.
Two loud shots rang out, but it was too late; with a startled gasp, Kukai and Nagihiko flinched, before falling down to the ground with a thump.
"Fujisaki-san!" They both kneeled down to get a better look at the fallen boys. Kairi started searching for any sort of blood wound, until something he saw made him gasp. Kairi stood up, catching Ikuto's attention.
"What is it, Kairi?" And then Ikuto noticed the something small, black and moving on the back of Kukai's shirt.
Kairi's face paled slightly, his eyes never leaving the glowing blob of black energy on Nagihiko's back. "I-Ikuto-san—"
He was cut off by three screams; all coming from charas.
"Ack! H-Help us!"
"I-I can't move!"
"My egg!" Ikuto looked up and saw that the boys' charas were going back into their eggs. Daichi tried putting himself in-between the two halves in order to stop it from closing, Rhythm tried holding the top half of the egg up, but it was no use. As swiftly as it had started, all three charas were encased inside their respective eggs, and immediately darkened.
Ikuto stood up. "What the hell? I don't remember seeing that one," he said, pointing at the egg that had mysteriously floated out from behind Nagihiko's hair.
"Ikuto, remember that chara? That's the one who belonged to that girl that day you—"
"Be quiet, Yoru."
"I have a bad feeling about this ..." Kairi said.
Seeing the fainted boys, the concerned fugitives and the black eggs, Nathan smiled and dusted his hands.
"Was that necessary, Nath?" The older male officer questioned.
"Of course it was. They were taking too long, and besides, the King said to me that if his Guardians showed any signs of suspicious behaviour, then we have permission to attack them with the X-Bullets."
"He told the whole force that." The female officer finished his words with a flat tone that even had Nathan looking at her with surprise.
"It doesn't matter. If what the King said is true, then we don't have to do anything now. Those bullets have negative energy in them; the Guardians and their charas can handle it from now on." He looked back at the group of boys nearby, before turning away. "C'mon, let's get out of here. I feel like rewarding myself at the arcade after today's work."
And with that, the trio left the building, the older officers still as confused as they always had been about what their younger chief meant by "charas" and "negative energy".
Ikuto and Kairi watched as each one of the contorting, black masses of energy, completely absorbed into the male Guardians bodies, leaving no trace of any injury. Kairi's gaze shifted back to the blackened chara eggs, which remained silently suspended on invisible strings. "O-Oh no ..."
"At least they aren't hurt, but what should we do?" Ikuto said.
"I ... I don't know. We don't know how to purify, and we can't exactly—"
Suddenly, both bodies shuddered. Kukai and Nagihiko silently helped themselves to stand again. Both of them looked like they had never been shot.
The only problem now was that their eyes were now darkened over.
"Snap out it, guys!"
Ikuto and Kairi stood, eyes set on the two boys in front of them. It was then that Kairi's mind clicked. "T-This must have been what Keen was trying to tell me ..."
Kairi didn't answer Ikuto's question; his eyes were on Kukai and Nagihiko's empty expressions, as if something inside of them was eating their life-forces. Without an emotion, they looked over their shoulders at their chara eggs. Two of the three eggs bobbed forward; Ikuto could see that underneath the black coating the eggs belonged to the chara with the star clip in his hair and the chara that resembled Nagihiko more so than the kimono-wearing one did.
"I don't think sports are fun anymore. Too many to choose from and too many rules to follow, so how can it be enjoyable? Nah, it's more fun to break the rules, don't you think?"
Ikuto and Kairi looked around. They knew it was Kukai's … but, it wasn't his normal, energetic self; it was quite the opposite of energetic, or anything positive.
"I agree; rules are made to be broken. What's the point in playing basketball if I can't reach my potential? I'll always be stuck, my old rhythm is lost ..."
Nagihiko's voice … it sounded sad. Masked by a hint of regret, perhaps? Kairi wasn't sure.
"You two …" But Ikuto's words were lost before they were thought of.
The eggs didn't hatch; instead, the boys extended a hand out to their respectful chara egg. The eggs followed their senses and obeyed, moving so that they now floated just above their owner's outstretched palm, where they became branded with a huge, white X. In equally hollowed voices, both Kukai and Nagihiko said the words Ikuto and Kairi would never have expected: "My own heart: Unlock!"
An IMPORTANT note from Aimz: Hi everyone! Sorry for the chapterless update, but I couldn't think of any other way to let y'all know of what I've decided to do, without breaking any of FF's rules. Here's the news:
-I'm not dead (or rather, the story isn't dead).
-I'm back to finish this story.
-I'm sorry I left this story in limbo for almost two years.
-The entire story is going to be re-written. The prologue and the first chapter has already received this treatment, and the other chapters will follow. They should be all done by the end of October the latest, as well as a new chapter. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but I feel that I can't continue unless I do them.
I would love it if you'd go and check out the re-writes as they are posted; the summary will be updated as the new chapters are replaced. I promise they'll be just as good as they used to be.
Thanks for your patience!
(Note dated: 12/09/2013)