AN: FINALLY! I know, chapter two!! It took me a while due to the fact that, I wasn't sure anyone was reading this! But now I'm back, and am already starting with chapter three. Incase you missed it, I re-posted chapter one, adding a lot more to the end, so you might want to reread that before continuing on with chapter two. Thanks for all the wonderful comments so far! It's really gotten me to get up off my ass and continue on with this! And as always, I don't own any part of Gasaraki, although Saito and Takehiro are my made up characters. Please R&R, lemme know what you think and what you'd like to see happen! Dreams of another I finally found that Which had been missing A lone, silent path of the mind I now must hurry Shadows It hadn't taken long before the entire world had received news that the JSDF, or parts of, had been disbanded, following a paranormal event which was obviously being covered by the story that it was a military practice. The fact that both friends and foes of the Japanese knew this and neither had acted was for a good reason. There was no validity to the claim, despite what the Japanese government said.
Spy reports came back with evidence that the FAKES -or what the Japanese were calling Tactical Armors, TA's- were being held in large warehouses, known only to those who hid them, a few of the higher-ups in the government, and, of course, those who were interested and successful enough to find them. But weather it was true, they were in storage, or it was merely a cover-up to hopefully draw out the enemies of the Japanese, was anyone's guess.
It was a fifty-fifty call, and he was not even sure the plan would work.
Takehiro sighed, tugging at the edge of hard, cuffed sleeves. It was a strange deal, which seemed to only benefit himself and his specially assembled group of spies, saboteurs and scientists. SYMBOL, the mysterious group, which was not known, nor wished to be well known, seemed to have the upper hand in all of this. The plans, information, and even most of his men -although he knew of most of them, and simply threw in a few of his own men for protection- seemed to be handed to him.
Although when Takehiro Hirokawa had asked for more, he had been replied to with silence by the mysterious, tightlipped leader of SYMBOL.
"I'm not liking this," Captain Saito, his Second in Command, grumbled, his binoculars wavering not once from their target.
"It's not for us to like," Takehiro replied. He was used to his Second_'s sudden, usually pessimistic comments. It seemed to keep Saito and himself focused.
Below them, in the sudden valley of a cutaway hill lay one of the warehouses which held the JSDF's TA's. Not all, by any means, he was sure. Even the JSDF was not that careless.
Two lone patrolmen walked their rounds, each covering two sides. Tall flood lights mounted to each corner of the building and to some of the surrounding ones, bleeding the night surroundings with harsh, unnatural yellow light. Neither of the patrolmen made a sound as their boots moved acrossed the concrete pad, one way, then another, and the only sign that he could see that would raise a question to their alertness was when the taller of the two yawned. Even without binoculars, Takehiro could see the man stifling it from his position.
"Manns here. Second team is in position. Confirmed that Firestorm has reached destination with no interference," an American accented voice crackled over the receiver in Takehiro's ear.
He watched in silence as Saito flicked a small switch on the binoculars, swinging them to just north of their position to another small rise just beyond the building. A moment later, he nodded.
With a final tug on the sleeves, Takehiro covered the mouthpiece of the radio headset with a hand. "Good. All teams, ready on my mark." He glanced down at Saito. The Second took another look down at the guards, then nodded. "Firestorm, go!"
No sooner had the word escaped his lips when five, quick moving metal bulks pounded their way over the hill. As they planted high-tension cables into the hilltop, they slid down its steep bank down to the concrete pad below.
The patrolman nearest that side of the hill yelped, radioing in something. He swung a pistol up from his holster. He didn't even clear a shot. The first of the FAKEs had reached the pad, the large, metal arm raising a gun which sang out a dozen shots a second. The man fell to a bloody heap without a chance.
By this time, the second guard had rounded the building. From here, Takehiro could see him saying something, most likely a curse, before he too was cut down. He, at least, had made an effort to run.
All around, blaring warning klaxons went off, echoing madly off the surrounding hills. All five of the FAKE's gathered at the south wall. Each Ishutar carried a large, automatic cannon attached to its left shoulder. With a small burst of smoke and flames, the Ishutars let loose a volley of shots that ate away through the concrete wall. Within seconds, the wall crumbled to dust beneath their feet.
With mechanical, stomping sounds, the FAKE's entered the large warehouse, disappearing from sight within.
"Reinforcements," Saito announced in a monotone voice. From around all ends of the buildings, armoured military trucks, piled with men and their guns and sub machine guns mounted to the trucks pulled up. Men began to jump from the vehicles and charge inside, most likely unawares of their imminate deaths.
"Five seconds," Saito announced again, lowering his binoculars into a pouch at his side.
Down below, there was a terrific rumbling as explosions went off inside. Emerging out with the billowing smoke and flames came the five Ishutars, the only visible damage being black scorch marks on their chests and sides. Cries of gun fire echoed around the area as the Ishutars responded to the threat. Men cried as they were cut down. One of the trucks exploded as its fuel tank was ruptured and sparked. More men died. More rounds were fired. And all the while, the building behind them, carrying two platoons of four TA's each exploded and burned.
Takehiro and Saito both knew the job was finished, was successful. The TA's HAD been in storage; no one was intending on using them. Grinning, Takehiro slid down the opposite end of the hill, down to the roadside where a car waited for him and Saito.
Without wasting time, the two men jumped into the car as another agent of SYMBOL made it pull away. Already, the whompwhomp of the Ishutar's helicopter pickups could be heard overhead.
Takehiro opened up a case that laid on the floor next to his seat. Inside the small, portable communications center, he radioed a signal to the man in charge at SYMBOL of operations. "Firestorm was a success. Pickup is already on their way. What is the status of the others?"
"Phoenix team has just reached their target, no opposition as of yet."
"And Raven?"
The other end was silent for a second. "Raven hasn't reached their destination point yet. They did confirm their radio silence until the operation is over with."
Takehiro closed the brief back up and tugged on a sleeve. "Everything is working out perfectly," he finally broke the silence, watching as the car slid by a line of trees.
"I wish something had gone wrong," Saito muttered, looking out the other window. "Nothing is perfect."
"My friend, you are too much of the pessimist." Takehiro smiled. "There is still opportunity for your 'mistake' to happen, although I hope for our sake it doesn't. There is too much at stake for even a single thread to break."
Saito shook his head, continuing to look out his window. It was much too perfect. But Takehiro was right. There was yet time for that one mistake to happen... 'And nothing is perfect...' ________________________________________________________________________
Kahoru gritted her teeth as Rin turned the jeep sharply around another curve. If she didn't know Rin's driving skills any better, Kahoru was sure that one of these times, the woman would tip the vehicle over.
"Okay, where do we go now, Captain?" Rin asked, a bit of teasing in her voice.
Kahoru gave the other ex-captain one of her cold looks. "There should be another left up ahead somewhere here." Rin nodded, keeping her eyes on the dark road ahead.
For a moment, both women were silent, the only sounds being the growl of the engine as Rin continued to roar beyond the speed limit. Deep in her thoughts, Kahoru pondered what could have gone wrong over at the Gowa's. Something that Yushiro must have sensed. But how? 'How had he sensed anything?'
Yushiro always did seem to be attuned to everything around him. Even to possibilities and outlets that seemed impossible or even unimaginable. Yushiro...so young, so caught up in matters which were beyond even her comprehension...
"Hey, you thinking about him?" Rin asked quietly, all the joking out of her voice.
"Wha... no." Kahoru blushed, thankful that it was dark inside the jeep.
"I am. I wonder what's happening? Poor Yushiro. Why does these things always have to happen to him? I hope it's nothing too serious. Hey!"
Kahoru jumped from her thoughts, looking out the window. "What is it?"
Three average sized, black military trucks dashed by them on the road. Kahoru scanned their sides, unable to catch any military insignias on them.
'Odd. Why would unmarked armoured trucks be driving down this way at this time of night?' It wasn't that hard to figure it out. They could only be after one thing.
"You don't think...?" Rin began.
Kahoru nodded. "I do."
"Well, this isn't turning out to be such a boring evening after all then." Rin grinned as she fell back enough to follow the trucks, but enough not to be caught following them.
________________________________________________________________________
Yushiro had the door open to the car even before the driver brought it to a full stop. It almost seemed as if nothing could be wrong. The night sky, although a bit chilly now, was deep and full of stars. Night creatures cried their songs over each other, the night blooms giving off their various perfumes. All around him, everything sat in its place, at peace. For a moment, he wondered if it weren't all just a dream, a passing, paranoid thought.
No, it wasn't.
A sharp pain sang through his head, and he knew he had been right. The nights peace was suddenly shattered and he remembered what he was doing.
Rushing inside the main entrance, he ran down the left hallway towards the guest rooms where Miharu had been staying with them. The floors made a hollow echoing sound of his boots as they pounded against the solid planks. Outside, he could still hear the night things, and the light, tinkling movement of water as he passed over the large koi pond that rested below the hallway.
He walked quickly over the tatami mat hallway, not caring that dirt and other things rested on the soles of his boots. Up ahead, he could see the faint glow of candlelight seeping from the shoji walls and the open door.
Pausing for a moment he took in the sight before going over to kneel next to his mother. The candle tossed old, yellowed shadows over everything, his mother Yukino's slight movements reflecting a delicate dance as she attended Miharu. Not a twitch of emotion touched her face, and she could have been caring for a doll for all the world knew.
Laying on a futon beside the candle lay Miharu, still in her clothes from earlier, a thick, red blanket pulled up nearly to her chin. Her eyes were closed, face silent and passive, the only thing giving away that something was wrong was the faint line of dried blood his mother was still wiping clean with a warm cloth and a large, bruised bump laying at the edge of her hairline.
"Miharu," Yushiro whispered, moving towards the girl, touching that delicate cheek. Something in him burst, a flood of relief and worry washing over him. She seemed to be okay, especially if his mother hadn't felt it necessary to call an ambulance. Not that she ever touched matters of the new age, being a traditional house wife, confined to all matters of the house. Sometimes he wondered if that's what made her so cold towards everyone.
"She will be fine, and will need lots of rest." She wiped lightly another bit of the dried blood off, returning the cloth to the pinkish water at her side to rise it off again. "Your sister is missing."
"Misuzu." Fear caught him in a cold embrace, cold sweat springing up his back. Standing up, he made his way back out of the room. He had to find Misuzu. Something was wrong, and he thought it had all come from Miharu, but no. Something far worse was wrong with Misuzu.
"Yushiro," his mother said sharply.
He stopped and turned. His mother rarely talked to him, and they few times she did were with words without warmth or care.
"Misuzu... The night sings a sad note tonight. A loss."
The enigmatic words rolled over him a moment before he hurried back out on his way. 'What does that mean?' He wondered, trying to think of what to do.
Misuzu was missing. Where would she go?
It didn't take him long, without thinking or light, other than the faint glow from the house, to find his way to the weather wheel. The air sang of Misuzu's presence, as it always did. It was her favorite spot, standing beside it, turning its heavy stone and loosing herself to its blurred spinning. Spinning, and spinning, and spinning...
He was quickly broken from his reverie as a sound alerted his senses. Yushiro held his breath, listening...
From the front of the residence, there was a crunch of gravel, and a light snap of a twig as something, or someone, carelessly stepped on it. There was more than one person. More than two. Sneaking around...
Heart suddenly pounding quickly in his chest, Yushiro ducked back into the house, running back the way he had. He was weaponless, and if they were intruders...
Who knew what they were after? 'Miharu?' He suddenly wondered. It wouldn't be the first time. If it was people after her, he wouldn't let them take her. But they would most likely have weapons, right? And at the moment, he was weaponless.
Without thinking, he turned towards the back of the house, running down the hallway that ran around the outside until he met where the wooden planks gave away to more solid tatami mats. He paused for a second outside of his fathers master bedroom. He had only been in the room a few times, and that was as a child, and no one had been inside of the room since Daizaburou's passing away. The memories of that evening, of his father being shot down, of everything that happened refreshened the fear in his heart. With that, he dashed in.
Against the far wall, he could remember, lay the rack which held his fathers ceremonial weapons, the sheathed tanto, wakazashi and katana blades. Although he had been told by one of his brothers, long ago, that his father was a practiced swordsman, he had never actually seen his father lay a finger on their delicate scabbards. The ever-present spirit of his father lay thick in the room, trying to swallow him up in memories best forgotten, at least for the moment. There were other, more important matters at hand. He needed to protect Miharu and yes, his mother, and still had yet to find Misuzu. 'Please, be all right, dear sister,' he prayed as he reached for the top scabbard, the one that held his fathers katana.
Yushiro was sweating now, damp, brown hair falling into his eyes more from the fear and adrenaline than from the heat. He pushed back the wet strands when he rounded a corner...
A came nearly face to face with one of the intruders. From beneath the black, inhuman mask that hid his face, Yushiro could hear the man curse.
Just as the man brought his pistol up to fire a shot, Yushiro had dropped to the ground and rolled away, the still sheathed katana gripped tightly in his hand. The shot illuminated the small hallway for a second, the bullet ripping through the thin, paper wall where Yushiro had been standing just a second earlier.
He had never used a katana before, nothing more that a small knife, but he wasn't using it for fancy moves against another swordsman. Ripping it free of its sheath, he swung it out in an arch.
A scream poured from the man as he collapsed to his knees, another shot exploding down the hallway. Yushiro felt warm, thick blood spill onto him, and winced.
Climbing back to his feet, he grabbed the man's dropped gun before continuing down the hall, a silent, painful moaning following behind him.
'Always behind me, the sound of pain, death and destruction.' He shook his head, trying to clear it of such thoughts. There wasn't time for that now, he had to be focused.
Somewhere in the house, a sharp, breaking sound cracked the silence and solitude, followed by another scream. Blood pounding louder than he could ever remember, he dashed down the halls towards where his sister roomed.
They had already been there. The futon and blankets were scattered, the small items around the room tipped over, some laying broken and shattered on the tatami mats. The intruders had been here, and found nothing.
Quickly, he made his way back to the guest room, hearing men move around in other parts of the house. Yushiro stopped dead in his tracks as he reached Miharu's room.
Lying quietly beside the sliding door was a man, his head resting in a pool of black, glistening blood. Just inside the door, he could see Yukino staring down at the body, a bloodied knife clutched in her hands, pressed against her kimono. Small trickles of it bled down the dress, the whites in her eyes giving her a ghostly, surreal look.
"Mother," he began, reaching out to touch her hand.
Yukino pulled back fiercely, the white of her eyes burning into his. "Go," she hissed, moving back into the room towards Miharu.
Nodding, he ran back down the hallways. There was now two of the intruders out of the picture, so how many more were left roaming the house?
________________________________________________________________________ Rin reached under the seat before pulling into the large drive which led up to the Gowa residence. Her hand touched the small hand guns she always had stashed under the seat. Pulling them up, she handed one to Kahoru.
"What's this?" The woman asked, looking at her, running a hand through short, brown hair.
"Handguns, Kaburagi." Rin grinned, knocking the safety off of hers as she pulled up the drive.
"You know what I meant," the other woman growled, giving her a sharp look.
"They probably have their own weapons. I don't want to be running in there weaponless." Rin stopped the truck a ways away from the house. "We should sneak up on them while we still have the advantage."
Kahoru nodded, getting out of the truck and throwing off her own safety. It wasn't much firepower, even between the two of them, but it was better than dashing in their with nothing.
'What a night indeed,' she thought, grateful that she had decided to follow Yushiro back to his house.
Rin and Kahoru hid along the shadows of the drive. Kahoru had ditched her jacket back in the truck, and the chill of the night was already reaching her. Calm focus from numerous battles and fights kept the fear from her senses, which also made her that more aware of the coolness.
Ahead, both the women could see the faint glow of the house lights from the inside, and in the foreground, the three unmarked trucks parked in a line. Quietly, the snuck in closer, both watching for signs of any movement from any of the trucks or the house.
A scream shattered the night air, and both women froze to their spots. "The house," Kahoru whispered.
"You don't think," Rin asked in a worried tone.
Kahoru didn't answer It was better left unsaid. 'He can't be, he's better than that... Oh, Yushiro, please be okay.'
Just as they were near the entrance to the house, ten men poured out, all dressed in dark clothing and gear, each holding a small pistol in two handed grips. Rin made a move to confront them, the anger on her face clear as day.
Laying a forceful hand on the other woman's arm, Kahoru stopped her. None of them seemed to be carrying anything, or anybody, other than their guns. Besides, they were leaving. At this point, they were still outgunned and wouldn't gain anything by shooting up the place. Or themselves.
Quickly scrambling into their vehicles, the three trucks pulled away with a hail of gravel spinning off the tires.
Kahoru leapt up from their spot and ran into the house, Rin following close behind. Ahead, she could hear the pounding of boots coming their way. "Yushiro?" She asked, raising her gun up a tad.
The pounding stopped but continued to come forwards. Stepping into a dim ray of moonlight that spilled through a nearby window was Yushiro, a small stain of blood on his clothes, hair disheveled, and carrying a gun and a katana.
"Yushiro," she said again, stepping towards him, pocketing the gun.
"It's not mine," he said, implying the blood on him. "Miharu's safe, sh'_s with mother. Nobody else was home."
"We heard screams," Rin began, putting away her own gun.
"Two of their men are dead."
"What about your sister, Misuzu?" She continued to question.
Kahoru shook her head. "They were after her, weren't they? Where is she, Yushiro?"
Yushiro collapsed to his knees, both the weapons clattering beside him as they fell from his hand. A tear trailed slowly down his face as he looked down to the floor. "I don't know. I don't know..." ________________________________________________________________________
Both the Kokuten and Shuten twitched in eagerness, sensing a newer, stronger call. The surge of their own power flowed over the two kugai's.
Neither registered on the sensors hooked up to them, none of the monitors gave off any warning. And none of the scientists were watching as the two kugai's shuddered under their own flow of alien energy...