Chapter 6; Names
AN; this chapter is dedicated to lostfeather1 who made me laugh and brightened up my day with her review. Thanks.
"Hey Kazuma, check out my new wheels! Not-too-shabby, huh?"
"Ooh, Kimishima, I'm so impressed!" Kazuma crooned, clasping his hands in front of him like a love struck girl. Kimishima stuck his hands in his pockets, looking extremely proud of himself.
"Yeah, I'm kissin' the poor life goodbye!" he laughed. The two friends laughed together, Kazuma throwing back his head as he let loose a deep chuckle. Kimishima didn't even see his friend's expression shift until he'd been grabbed by the collar and dragged into a headlock.
Kazuma snarled, "How much of my hard-earned money have you been skimming off the top, huh? And here I'm worried about how we're gonna make it through the day; what the hell are you thinking?" He wrestled with his friend, pulling at his arms and grabbing him behind the neck while they argued.
"It's all in our contract!"
"No, really! How many HOLD members' asses do ya' think we've kicked so far!"
"Everyone says your stingy!"
"Everyone, even Kanami says it! Akira points it out too; regularly!" he paused, thinking of the missing girl he'd just mentioned. He let go of Kimishima, who tumbled to the ground out in a heap, and stood, running a hand through his hair. Where are you 'Kira? He thought, sighing heavily.
"Man," Kimishima brushed himself off as he stood up, "I didn't know everyone thought so little of me. If I did maybe I wouldn't keep showin' up here with jobs for you." He grinned evilly, turning away from the brunette. "Maybe I should just leave instead of giving you this high paying job I have lined up~…"
"What!" Kazuma snapped out of his reverie, grabbing Kimishima again. "Don't go! I need to money! We're totally broke; you don't want us to starve do y-?"
The two boys looked up to see Kanami standing on the front steps, holding her broom in one small, pale hand. "We aren't completely broke, Kazu-kun, but we're pretty close."
Five minutes later the two boys were standing in front of the table in the main entryway, Kazuma looking awed at the amount of money Kanami had hidden in the wall behind a painting. Thousand and five hundred yen bills, as well as hundred yen bills, fewer of them; so many bills that had been put away just in case. Kazuma gaped at the stash while Kimishima rubbed his sore jaw.
"If I didn't do anything, Kazuma-kun would go out and spend it all so I put a little aside whenever I can." Kanami rocked back on her heels cutely as she spoke, looking over the money laid out on the bench.
"Uh, that's a lot of money, right?" Kazuma asked.
Kimishima sighed, still rubbing his sore jaw. "Can't you remember the value money?"
"It's no use." Kanami replied, her usually light and cute voice taking on the slightly harder tone it did whenever she spoke about Kazuma's habits. "He's such a loser; he's always skipping. Maybe if Kazu-kun cooked or cleaned things would be different." Out of the corner of her eye, Kanami looked up at Kazuma, who bowed his head and slumped in defeat.
"Oh, I know; he's such a loser you gotta feel sorry for 'm." Kimishima tilted his head from side to side, trying to get rid of the ache. Kazuma glared at him.
"Alright already, I get the point…"
"Hey; gotta face the truth!" Kimishima smiled brightly.
"What the-" he snapped, grabbing his friend by the shirt for the third time today. "Why I oughta-!"
Footsteps sounded from outside. Kazuma looked over Kimishima's shoulder, his expression suddenly serious. Stepping away from his partner-in-crime, he put his arm in front of Kanami. "Kanami, get outta here." He whispered. She was about to say something but he spoke again. "Go on, hide." The little girl nodded and ran down the corridor into the house. Kimishima stepped back behind Kazuma, looking wary.
"Kazuma, d'you think it's HOLD?"
"I dunno," he raised him open hand towards the slightly open door. "But I've got a bad feeling about this…"
The door creaked open slowly, noisily; Kimishima slipped behind the wall as Kazuma readied his Alter for combat, clenching his fist tightly just in case. A thought slipped into Kazuma's mind. What if it was Akira, back from wherever she'd gone? What if she was hurt? He clenched his fist harder; he didn't know that for sure. So he waited.
There was a moment of silence as the door opened, and then a man fell through the open door, crashing to the ground.
Stepping out of the black limo that had pulled up outside of the city hospital, he held the door open politely for the young woman with white hair who slipped out behind him. She nodded at him and he continued up the steps while she closed the door and addressed the driver. Following him quickly, skipping up the steps after him, she fell into step behind him.
"So, why're we here, Commander?" she asked, looking around the bustling hospital.
"One of our Alter Users who had a run in with that NP3228 was admitted here not long ago."
She looked up at him, her icy blue eyes blinking in surprise. "I thought all of those Alter Users were comatose; in HOLY research custody. Didn't Kazuma destroy their Alters?" They stepped into the elevator after the Commander flashed his card at the receptionist. Pressing the button for the fourth floor, the doors closed and he looked down at her.
"His name is Tachibana; Asuka Tachibana. He wasn't on a mission to capture NP3228 at all; in fact his orders were to protect our medical team while they were on an expedition to one of our work camps." Martin explained, his hands clasped behind his back. "He had a run in with that Kazuma when he took one of the medical team as a hostage for some reason. I'm not quite sure of all of the exact details of why, but I know that Tachibana failed in apprehending NP3228, and while his Alter was destroyed, he remained conscious. So, he was admitted to hospital."
"So, we're here to question him for further details then?" The girl asked curiously. Why would Kazuma do something like-?
"No." Martin Jigmarl smiled in amusement as the door opened with a small 'ping.' "We're here to inform him of his forced resignation from HOLY."
"Our territory was completely destroyed…my friends were caught…a-and my…" a weak multi-coloured flash flitted around the warehouse. "See that? They did something to my Alter power, it's gone!" Kazuma shook his head from where he knelt beside the injured man. He'd been pretty worse for wear when he'd stumbled into their house, but he was going to pull through. Kimishima and Kazuma had helped him into a nearby warehouse where they'd wrapped him up and bandaged him. The man was more than a little hurt.
"HOLD is doing all this?" Kimishima grit his teeth.
The man's visible eye narrowed. "It was HOLY; they came in by themselves and did this."
Kimishima gaped. "Are you sure?" There was silence in the abandoned warehouse, all but the sound of the crows in the distant trees. Kazuma felt a chill go down his spine, despite the searing afternoon heat.
"Like Kobashi," the man began, "he was defeated within a second." There was a small silence and the man shook his head, his eyes going wide as he looked at the boys. "Don't you understand! Just thinking about him is scary enough, but I can't let go of that image! The Alter shaped like a human; dark eyes…and those two antennas!"
Recoiling, Kazuma bit his lip. Shaped like a human with antenna…and dark eyes. There was no doubt about it; that was Ryuhou and his Alter. That snake. His fist tightened against his leg and Kimishima looked at him out of the corner of his eye. "It must be him then," Kazuma growled.
"Tell us, how far have they invaded?" Kimishima's brow was furrowed in worry, his hands fisted against his folded knees.
"I don't know, it's like they're all over!" His voice was getting more and more strained by the minute, his chest convulsing slightly under the bandages. His breathing was laboured. "We're not safe anywhere, it's just a matter of time before they find this place!"
Kimishima stood up, looking around the sun-stroked warehouse. He looked down at Kazuma. "They're serious; and they don't care if it's Alter Users or normal people." He blanched. "Kazuma, if they're really heading this way, then Kanami may be-"
"I will NOT let them!" Standing, the brunette Alter user stalked towards the warehouse door, leaving Kimishima and the injured man behind.
"Hey!" his friend called after him, concerned.
How could I have let this happen? He thought. This is insane…they're coming for us and it's all my fault! If only I'd been stronger I could've defeated that guy and this guy…these people wouldn't have been hurt! He shook his head, his shoulders square and tense. Kanami…Kimishima's right, what if Kanami were to get into their path? Or Akira, even! His eyes widened. Akira! I don't even know where she is and now this s going down…oh no. If she gets in the way of this fight…
Kazuma stopped, his mind spinning. "It's a fight now, Kimishima; they threw the first punch. They're left me no other choice; they're only one thing to do!" His shoulders started to shake with suppressed rage, his eyes sharp and cold as he looked back to Kimishima. "I'll accept their challenge, and I'll destroy every one of them!"
Kunihiko gasped, recoiling for a moment, before he hurried after his friend. "H-Hey, where're you goin'?" Kazuma shoved the sliding doors open just as Kimishima grabbed him from behind, stopping him from going.
"To find and destroy HOLY! That guy and I have a fight to finish!"
"Not alone! They're bringing they're entire force; all you could do last time was run!"
Kazuma pushed him off, his steps determined as he walked away. "Rah, don't care!"
"W-Wait a second! I'll use my connections! I'll gather as many Alter Users as I can! You can't do this by yourself!" Kimishima ran in front of his best friend, pressed his hands flat against Kazuma's chest, pushing him with as much force as he could back towards warehouse B27. It was no use. Kazuma glared down at him with a defiant, cold look in his eyes that made Kimishima stop short. Kazuma was more serious than he'd ever seen him. He thought quickly. "But it'll be up to you to take care of that one Alter User, alright? Alright?"
Kazuma shook him off, continuing down the road. Kimishima shook his head, knowing it was futile to try and go after him. He called out, his hands cupped over his mouth, "Promise me you won't go gallivanting in there alone! Don't fight them by yourself! You won't win!"
The brunette stopped for only a moment, looking back over his shoulder. He smirked. "You do what you say you will, and I won't have to fight alone."
"Doctor Toginaga of section #1 please report to triage; Doctor Toginaga to triage."
A young girl in a bright yellow hat walked down the hospital corridor, a wrapped fruit basked held tightly in her arms. She smiled at the people she passed, waving to some. Commander Jigmarl walked past her without a thought, the white haired girl at his side watching her from out of the corner of her sharp blue eyes.
She watched as the girl with the fruit basked disappeared into the room they'd just exited from, her face lighting up with a brilliant smile as she entered.
"Ah, Commander?" The white haired girl asked, slowing. Martin turned, his attention on the HOLY member before him. "I was just wondering if I could have a word with Mr. Tachibana; I want to check on something. Do you mind?" She asked, looking a little apprehensive.
"Of course; just make sure that you're back before nightfall, we have a meeting tonight. Don't be late." He told her, his voice holding the same authority it always did. She nodded, placing her hand over her heart and bowing, the customary HOLY sign of respect. The commander turned and left without a word.
The girl speed walked back down the corridor, passing the girl in the yellow hat again. She looked a little down, but she still had a spring in her step. The fruit basket was gone. The girl watched the young woman again until she entered the lift before she opened the door quietly. She leant against the door frame, knocking lightly three times on the wall.
Tachibana looked up sharply, his wide golden eyes taking in the girl in front of him. The red ball in front of him shattered into nothingness as he blinked in surprise. A touch of fear flashed through his eyes. "W-What are you back here for?"
The girl stepped into the room, closing the door behind her. She shook her head, clicking her tongue as she surveyed the damage he'd done to the arm straps. "We'll have to pay for that, you know." She chuckled. "If you want, I could pay it right now; leave the money on the bed and let you waltz right out of here. Well; let you go out the window, but you get the drift."
"W-What?" He sat up straighter, before he glared at her. "What? How do you know that? And why would I need help from you? I've never even seen you before in my life!" He looked her up and down, taking in her HOLY uniform, before he blanched, shaking his head. "Who are you? Why don't I know you?"
"I'm new." She replied curtly, sitting down on the edge of his bed. "I only got into town a few days ago; the Commander recruited me personally and he hasn't had the time to introduce me to other people yet." She pushed a lock of long white hair over her shoulder, looking into his golden eyes. Tachibana noticed the colour of her eyes as he stared back at her. Bright blue; like ice.
"That girl;" she said after a moment's silence, "the one in the yellow dress, she's your girlfriend right?" She got no answer, only a slight shift in his posture. She smiled. "She's cute. Her name's Cami, right?"
"And your name is Asuka Tachibana, am I right?" She brought her hand to her chin, looking thoughtfully into his eyes. "You look a little worse for wear; Kazuma beat you up pretty bad, huh?"
Tachibana bit the bait; just as planned. "Kazuma? You know about Kazuma?" He leant forwards, his eyes wide and wild. "Tell me!"
The girl chuckled behind her hand. "Alright, I guess I could tell you something." She thought for a moment. "HOLY is going to be initiating the Great Native Alter Hunt tomorrow, beginning with a group that's gathering an uprising on the western side. It's said to be led by Kazuma and that friend of his. I suppose they're gathering all of the Native Alter Users they can in order to strike back against HOLY." She stopped. "If you go there, you may just get another crack at Kazuma, and then…they might just accept you back into HOLY, if I have my say in things. But only if you beat him, that is."
Asuka looked at her, searching those eyes for something, anything. Then he found it. "Who….who are you?" He asked shakily. The girl smiled, reaching out a hand for him to shake.
"My name isn't really of any importance; I suppose you can call me Akira."
Commander Jigmarl looked out the window of his limo at the passing cityscape. That girl certainly was charming, he thought to himself, his face blank. She was too simple; too cooperative; too good to be true. But he supposed she was true.
He had no worries with leaving her alone with Tachibana. She would only help strengthen his resolve in going after Kazuma. The stronger his resolve, the stronger his Alter.
Martin felt a smile break out on his face. He'd found just what he was looking for in that girl; the perfect pawn.
AN: Thanks for all your support and reviews, guys! Just knowing that you guys are reading this is all that's really keeping it going at the moment; it's hard to find the time coming into exams! I hope you like this chapter! I literally JUST finished it two minutes ago, and I'm hoping to have another chapter started sometime tomorrow.
I'd just like to thank lostfeather1, ctiygurl, Princesa de la Luna, Crystal-Wolf-Guardain-967, Twilight Dark Angel, and all those other people who read!
Just as a quick note; I'd just like to mention that the third rewrite chapter will be up something time this month; I'm just beginning to get into my exam block and times though, so I may be a little while! Review! It keeps me going!
Thank you all!