Chapter 31: Last Words
That was all she could sense as it singed and nipped at her skin like an open flame.
A colossal yellow fireball rose from the depths of the island, sending forth a burst of energy that ripped through the foliage and across the overpass, snapping Rin into consciousness. That was how she found herself covered in beads of sweat lying spread eagle on the asphalt of the Ashinaka Bridge, thoughts muddled and eyes unfocused. Rin could feel the gravel quiver beneath her palms as the bridge shook and swayed in the aftershocks. The blast had exploded across the bay, sending large waves of water spraying into the air and crashing against the concrete pillars that hovered above the turbulent water. Pebbles rained down onto her cheeks and chest, but the thick stone columns and steel cables held firm.
Rin pushed herself into a sitting position, throwing up a hand to cover her eyes as her vision swam for a few moments. The Black Dog had been none to gentle with her as he had dragged her limp body back to safety. Twigs and dirt peppered her hair, and a large, dark stain was beginning to crust on the left side of her jeans.
A high-pitched buzzing sound filled the air, and for a split second Rin wondered if the explosion had permanently damaged her hearing. However, it didn't take long for her to notice the massive beam of energy being emitted from the center of the forest. The giant jet of light gave off a heat unlike anything Rin had ever felt before. It crackled from the electric current; a enormous blast of pure, raw energy.
Beside it, the unfamiliar sword of Damocles shimmered for a moment before breaking apart into a million microscopic pieces. The huge column of lighting and fire absorbed it within moments, leaving no trace behind of, what Rin could only assume was, the Colorless King.
All at once the giant column ceased its constant stream of energy, satisfied by the offering it had received. Steam rose from the woods of Ashinaka, and Rin could only imagine how barren and wasted it must have looked. An eerie silence stretched out across the island and onto the bridge, but the air was still tense and crackled with electricity.
Rin dared not take a breath, for up in the sky, split completely in two, was Mikoto's sword of Damocles. Bits of stone and steel crumbled then evaporated completely, and Rin knew it was only being held together by the last remnants of his Weismann level and sheer stubborn willpower. She knew if it were to drop, the next few hundred miles of Shizume City and the surrounding countryside would be obliterated in seconds. It was as if she sat against Death's door itself.
The blast had been enough for the Black Dog to release her from his grip. Rin was a low priority in his eyes, and his attention had returned to the girl he had been carrying who was slowly beginning to wake in his arms.
It was all the time she needed.
Scrambling to her feet, knees and palms scraping against the asphalt in the process, Rin sprinted towards the direction of the island as the sinking feeling in her stomach grew and grew.
The light around Mikoto's sword began to flicker, sending sparks of red and gold into the air, before fading entirely. Now ashen and faded, the once fierce dagger hovered in the air for a moment, before plummeting toward the Earth like an anvil. A great rumbling sound, like an avalanche cascading from a mountain's peak, thundered across the open water raising goosebumps on her arms.
Tears streamed down her face, and Rin willed herself to run faster… faster… as if she could somehow outrun the inevitable. Here she was, again, too late with too many words left unsaid.
The tip of the sword disappeared into the tree line, and Rin closed her eyes.
She cracked an eye open.
Mikoto's sword still hung in the open air, although, from what Rin could tell, it seemed to be only a few meters off the ground. The tree line hid most of her view, but the fact that she and the rest of Shizume had not been incinerated was a good sign.
For one small moment, hope blossomed in Rin's chest.
Then her vision began to tint red until the entirety of Ashinaka Island and beyond lay in various shades of burgundy and crimson. The tattoo on her neck burned white hot, and a warmth settled on her shoulders, spreading across her shoulders like a thick blanket.
You were never too late.
Tears welled in her eyes and her knees gave out from under her. Her chest felt tight with emotion. The words rolled across her skin like velvet, more of a feeling than something to be heard; familiar and safe, with just the hint of a smirk.
I always knew.
As the last remnants of stone and steel began to crumble from the Red Sword of Damocles, the wail that had been building up in Rin's chest finally released itself. She screamed as if her very insides were trying to escape her, and her ribcage felt as if it were slowly shattering inch by inch. Her nails cracked and bled as they dug into the asphalt, trying to center herself in her grief. She thought she might lose herself completely in it until a faint chorus of voices drifted into her haze of the thoughts.
"No blood… no bone… no ash."
Picking herself up, albeit slowly, Rin staggered to the guardrails at the side of the road. Hunched over and arms shaking, Rin scanned the dark grounds for the source of the chant until, at last, she found it.
"No blood! No bone! No ash!"
HOMRA's clan members gathered beneath the bridge in the fading light, their voices drifting up so that even the SCEPTER 4 agents, many of whom were busy stoically packing their equipment and filing out, could hear them. Red auras lit up the sky above them, casting shadows that only partly hid the tears streaming down each of their faces.
Rin's hands clenched around the handrails of the bridge as she watched her own skin glow scarlet. A few hundred meters away, she could see the SCEPTER 4 agents piling into their vans. Their tasks had been completed, and they could go home and rest easy knowing their King was still with them and well within control of his Weismann level.
All but one. One blue coat stood slightly hunched next to the very same rails Rin leaned upon. She watched as a faint ball of red light rose from his chest, and then turned back to see her own bulb of energy materialize in front of her eyes and begin to drift upwards and into the night.
Rin wanted to catch it; bring it back down and shove it right back into where it was supposed to be because suddenly she felt as if she was missing a part of her. You might as well have torn her arm off.
However, through her tears, she thought of those she had lost already who were undoubtedly waiting for him on the other side. She thought of how happy Ayami would be to see the man who welcomed her into his arms and life, who gave her a home and a family, who brought her out of that dark pit she had been drowning in for so long, and who had saved her from herself on more than one occasion. She was sure Ayami would find it funny that it was the very same man Rin had called a "punk" the first time she had laid eyes on him.
Tears streaming down their faces, the men and women of HOMRA raised their faces to the sky, unashamed of the marks they bore and the tears they wore openly for all to see. For they were proud to have served a man like Mikoto Suoh. And they'd make it through this, like they always have.
The new SCEPTER 4 Headquarters had been rebuilt to be able to withstand a 10 kiloton detonation. The interiors now sparkled in brilliant shades of silvers and blues, the marble floors disguising any trace of destruction from before.
The majority of the basement levels were comprised of top-security detainment cells, however, due to Munakata Reisi's urging, a new structure had been set up a short distance away just as secure although with a slightly less grim atmosphere. Clouded glass walls and modern, hanging bulb light fixtures brightened the room, emphasizing how utterly spotless the entire place was.
The only flaw in the entire room being the thin stream of smoke curling up from the Captain's lips.
His eyes remained focused on the paperwork in his lap, ignoring the embers that slowly burned away the paper of the cigarette balanced between his thumb and index finger. It had been a few weeks now since the incident and Ashinaka Island, and the entire world of Kings had been thrown into chaos. Rumors of uprisings amongst the Green Clan, the disappearance the Silver King, and the lack of support from the Gold King were all causes for concern.
However, this particular document was in regard to a fair-skinned, alabaster haired Strain who seemed to be experiencing some inconsistencies with her powers. As the Captain of SCEPTER 4, Munakakta had made sure to instruct some agents to keep an eye on her, from a distance at least.
Although, that command had not been made by him alone.
"If I had known a sword to the stomach would have caused me to wind up spending weeks here with you, I might have asked you to aim a little higher instead," drawled a voice to his right.
Munakata flicked the ash off the tip of his cigarette, no doubt earning him a disapproving glare from the various nurses who were hurrying about the ward.
"As the Red King, your Weismann level was out of control and needed to be stopped. However, despite your rather irritating and unwaveringly arrogant attitude, I had no quarrel with you, Mikoto Suoh."
Munakata glanced up at the man on the hospital bed, the white linens boldly contrasting with his flaming crimson hair. Golden eyes held a faint twinkle of mirth.
"Gone soft have we, Munakata?"
The blue-haired Captain let out a sigh of exasperation and got to his feet. His report was finished, and he had no other business to attend to with the former Red King.
"The very air you breathe sickens me, and I look forward to the day you disappear from my sight."
Mikoto rolled onto his back, staring at the golden light bulbs that dangled above him as he listened to the heavy door swing shut behind the Blue King. As he himself was no longer a King, his body was healing at a painfully slow rate. SCEPTER 4 had chosen not to inform the world of his survival until the situations regarding the various other Kings were resolved. In the meantime, Mikoto's thoughts were focused on one thing, one person, in particular.
"As do I."
Author's Note: Well, we made it. Thanks to everyone who has stuck by this story from the beginning (or joined Team Rin midway!). I really appreciate all your support. I love reading your reviews, even years after I have originally posted this story. You all have given me love, confidence, and support. I can't thank you enough!
To be clear, this was the original ending I had planned for this story. I know that Mikoto permanently dies in the series, but I really struggled to let him go. For all those "by the book" fans, please forgive me! I just love him too much to say goodbye yet!
However, I really like the concept for Anna becoming the Red King in Season 2. I haven't watched it yet, but after I finish it I am considering writing a spinoff to Red. Let me know what you think of this idea in the reviews, please!