A/N: Next chapter up. I hope you all enjoy. This also took longer than expected, though that seems to be a frequent thing, I apologize. I was in a little fender bender. I'm back now.
Chapter 16: A Brother's Worry
Minato struggled to take a breath. He felt a heavy weight on his chest, stopping him from taking a full breath. Minato flailed back and forth trying to break the unknown weight off himself. His eyes shot open and he realized what the weight was. He let out a half sigh, still having trouble finding breath, when he saw that there were a pile of women on top of him. Minato smiled a little to himself before he growled to the women.
"Okay, it's morning, get off." He grunted, trying to throw them off, but they refused to budge. There was a shifting as a few of the girls started to stir. Minato felt movement as the girl with her arms wrapped around his to the right awoke. Yomi opened her eyes and smiled at Minato. After a moment, she seemed to realize that her face was only a few inches from Minato's. She squeaked and started struggling to move back. All she ended up doing however, was positioning herself even closer. She stopped and stared at Minato, her beat red face so close that she could feel his breath. She could feel her heart beating in her throat, and for some reason, Minato wasn't freaking out like she was. He seemed... different. She briefly wondered what had happened the previous day with Uzume. Her thoughts were interrupted when her attention was pulled back to the faintly tinged face of her ashikabi right in front of her. Her breath seemed to catch and she started to lean in a little bit closer. Just when their faces were only millimeters apart, there was the sound of the door sliding open, and Yomi's heart clenched in fear at the sudden killing intent in the room.
"Oh my. I was coming to wake up Minato-san, and I find this. I thought I'd made it abundantly clear that I will not have illicit relationships take place in this house." The sleeping forms all seemed to awaken at once, feeling the danger.
Nursing a few new bruises he had gotten during the stampede to get out of his room, Minato sat at the disconcertingly quiet dining room table eating breakfast. As he glanced around, some faces were apologetic, specifically Kuno, but most seemed content with having sneaked into his room. At the head of the table, Miya ate calmly, but there was a feeling of pressure throughout the room. The only ones who didn't seem to notice were Yukari, who seemed amused at the whole situation, and Ku, who was trying to feed Minato little bits of his breakfast. A little ways down the table, Shiina looked a little disappointed that Ku had gone back to sitting in Minato's lap instead of his own. He did smile however when he saw her having fun with the man.
"Well, it's about time for us to head out." Yukari stood and spoke, breaking the tension that filled the room. She motioned for Shiina to follow and walked out of the room. Everyone else sat in shock at her flippant attitude. Minato jumped to his feet and ran after, catching her at the door. He slowed to a stop in front of her. For several moments, they just looked at each other before Minato spoke.
With a serious look, he said, "Be careful. I know that you say not to worry, but I'm your older brother. Of course I'm going to worry. So please, just promise that you'll stay safe." After he spoke, he smiled. Yukari smiled back before punching him hard in the shoulder and laughing.
"Don't worry bro, I'll be fine. Might wanna be careful though, don't want your sekirei thinking you're a siscon." She winked and passed through the doorway, leaving. Shiina quickly followed. Minato frowned after her for a short time before sighing and closing the door. He walked back to the dining room and took his seat once again. He sighed another time and Ku sat on his lap once again. Suddenly, a thought struck him. He turned his gaze to the other side of the room to a silver haired figure in a white dress shirt.
"Kagari, it's probably dangerous on the way, would you mind watching over Yukari on her way to the contest. Don't interfere in the actual battle, just... keep an eye on her." Kagari's brow scrunched up before he nodded. He quickly went up stairs and changed into his trademark black outfit and followed after Yukari. Minato, feeling a little better at the thought of Kagari guarding his sister, relaxed.
A few blocks away, Yukari was walking beside Shiina. She thought back to her brother's worried face and smiled. He was really and truly worried for her. She let out a laugh, startling Shiina. He gave her a strange look, which she just laughed off. She lowered her head and smiled again. Then her face fell and she sighed. Though she put on an unbothered persona, she really was worried. What if there was someone stronger than Shiina? She didn't even know what type of battle it was. She prayed that it wouldn't be a battle royale. With a deep breath, she looked to the horizon. It was time to go to work.
The residents of Maison Izumo all sat gathered around the T.V, waiting for any sign that the final battle was about to begin. Suddenly, there was a flash and the television flickered to life. The face of Minaka Hiroto showed on the screen, as ecstatic and energetic as ever.
"Welcome one and all, to the final battle of the third stage of the wonderful sekirei plan! Now, it appears that some ashikabi have chosen this moment to try to escape from our little game here. That is going to make the game a little less fun than it should have been, but luckily, there are still plenty of participants to make this amusing! I do feel that it is necessary to inform you all that the discipline squad has been sent after those who chose not to participate. Bwahahaha. The games will begin shortly, so hang tight!" Minaka cackled in glee. On screen, a camera panned over the area showing a crowd of sekirei and ashikabi. Minato grimaced. Somewhere in that crowd, was Yukari. He swallowed, and the worry must have shown on his face, because he felt someone to his right grab his hand. He looked down at a smiling Kuno. He smiled a little back, when his other hand was grabbed. Yomi held his hand and looked away. Minato could still see the faint tinge of pink on her face. His other sekirei all comforted him in their own way. Together, they sat and waited for the final battle to begin.
When Yukari arrived at the site of the battle, she saw that many of the participants were already there. Some sat off on their own, and others chatted with each other, making alliances and pacts. For several minutes, Yukari and Shiina merely wandered around until the chairman's voice sounded over the crowd on a loudspeaker. He welcomed them all, but didn't begin the match. After the speech, Yukari's thoughts wandered. She had never considered trying to escape from the game. What if everyone in the game refused to play and tried to leave at once? There was no way MBI could stop them all could they? Even if they sent the military, the sekirei could easily overpower them. While she was lost in thought however, she didn't notice a girl approaching her until she spoke.
"Hey there. Another female ashikabi. Not many of us are there? Ummm, if you don't mind, do you wanna work together... I mean, if you want to..." The girl stood in front of Yukari. She had long black hair and was wearing a black dress. She had a black choker around her neck. Behind her was her sekirei. He had short blonde hair and wore a cloak that covered the entirety of his body. Yukari barely held back a smirk. He was nowhere near as good looking as Shiina. Instead, she flashed a smile at the girl.
"Of course! We girls gotta stick together right? I'm Yukari by the way, and this is Shiina." She motioned to the boy behind her. The other girl clapped her hands in glee and laughed in joy.
"Yay! I'm Yashiro and this is Amebane! Nice to meet you Yukari!" They quickly exchanged pleasantries and started telling each other about themselves. How they met their sekirei and what had happened to them so far in the game. Right in the middle of their conversation though, a couple of big men walked up to them, followed by a pair of discontent looking sekirei. They men planted themselves in front of the girls, standing so that they could tower over the group.
"Hey there girls. You pretty ladies shouldn't be doing something this dangerous. Don't worry though, my buddy and I here will protect you." He winked at Yukari, and she unconsciously shivered in revulsion. He seemed to take it for something else however and he smirked to himself in satisfaction. Yukari smiled, but her irritation was written on her face and she got ready to tell the dude off, but she got beat to the punch. Yashiro stomped forward, her face nearly twitching in anger.
"GET OUT OF HERE YOU IDIOTS! YOU THINK YOU'RE SMOOTH?! IF YOU DON'T GO AWAY RIGHT NOW, I WILL RIP YOUR TESTICLES OFF AND SHOVE THEM DOWN YOUR THROAT!" Yukari's eyes shot open and she stared at her new companion in confusion. Where had that outburst come from? She had seemed like such a sweet girl. Apparently the guys were thinking the same thing, because their mouths dropped to the floor, and they only picked them up long enough to slink away. After the thugs were gone, Yashiro turned back to Yukari, another angelic smile on her face. She placed a hand on her cheek and looked apologetic.
"Oh my, I'm sorry you had to see that. Things like that just bother me. I hope that doesn't bother you." Yukari hesitated for just a moment before she recovered her composure. She smiled hesitantly.
"Of course it doesn't. Thanks for the assist." She chuckled and the other girl laughed as well. In the middle of their laughing, the sound of feedback echoed across the area. The chairman's voice called out in its usual tone of excitement.
"Well, now that you've had time to get acquainted, shall we get the game going?" Suddenly, a large group of soldiers surrounded the probably 3 dozen ashikabi and 3 dozen sekirei. They directed them to a large line drawn on the ground. All the people were lined up on the line, almost like a race in track and field. In front of them, a giant television, probably 20 feet across flickered to life, revealing Minaka's face. His glasses glinted off the light from where he was.
"Now, I suppose that you all might want to know what you're going to be doing eh?" He chuckled and his face faded off the screen. What took it's place was a map of the city. There was a pick X that said "You are here." and a number of small lines drawn where the streets were. On the other side of the city was a similar X that said "Target." The chairman's voice echoed from the loudspeakers once again.
"Some of you may have already guessed, but this is going to be a race! You may take any of the 6 paths to the finish line. The first to arrive is the winner! Simple enough right?" The participants looked toward each other. This meant that no one had to be eliminated? That was phenomenal! Then, Minaka's voice continued for one last statement.
"Of course, if you're the last one standing, being the first one to the end won't be too difficult now will it?" At then end of his words, the loudspeaker cut off, leaving a deafening silence in its wake. Ashikabi and sekirei who had discussing plans with each other in a trusting manner just moments before were now eyeing one another, sizing them up and trying to decide who would win if it came down to it. Yukari looked at Yashiro out of the corner of her eye, wondering if the other girls was thinking the same thing as everyone else. Yashiro just smiled at her however.
"Don't worry Yukari, I don't really wanna win. I just wanna keep Amebane safe so we can stay together. If we both make it to the end, you can have the prize." She smiled cheerfully at Yukari who smiled back and mentally slapped herself for questioning this clearly innocent girl.
"Don't worry, I trust you." After letting the idea that they could win by removing other competitors sink in, the soldiers lined all those gathered up at the starting line. Shiina took his place beside Yukari with their new allies standing on the other side of him. He leaned in close and whispered into her ear.
"Y-Yukari. Are you sure that you trust them? I mean, we did just meet them and all." Yukari glanced at Shiina, but quickly moved her eyes away. He looked so cute when he was nervous. In the end she leaned and whispered back.
"Honestly? No. But we'll be in trouble if we get caught without anyone on our side." She growled to herself. "I wish my brother was in this. I know that we could rely on him here." Catching herself saying that she could rely on Minato, Yukari laughed to herself. When had that happened? Her laughter dying down, she took a deep breath and finished what she was saying.
"Anyway, don't worry. Just keep an eye on them. If push comes to shove, I trust you to keep me safe." She smiled at Shiina who blushed and turned his head away. Out of the corner of her eye, Yukari saw a soldier stride down the line of participants until he reached the center. The loudspeakers sounded out once again, and Yukari couldn't hold back a sigh at the sound of the familiar and eccentric voice that sounded out.
"Contestants! Are you ready! At the sound of the starting gun you will go! Now, make sure to make it fun to watch! Kekekeke." With a diabolical laugh, Minaka's voice faded out for the last time. The soldier standing in front of the line raised a starting gun. Tension filled the air as muscles tensed and eyes flicked back and forth between once allies. The man raised the gun above his head and prepared to fire. He waited 10 seconds. Then 20. After a full minute, some of the people gathered were frantic. Then, he pulled the trigger and a loud shot rang out. Yukari couldn't hear it though because a loud cracking and an explosion drowned it out. Down the line, a huge fight had broken out just at the start of the race. Yukari only spared it a glance before she took Shiina's hand and bolted down the street.
Several other groups had also had the calmness of mind to ignore the brawl and try to go for the win by speed instead of by strength. Just behind Yukari, Yashiro kept pace, Amebane keeping up with an easy lope that betrayed his small frame.
They ran side by side down one road after another. Sometimes, when they saw other competitors in groups larger than theirs, they ducked down alleys and waited for them to pass. To Yukari's surprise, the timid Amebane took the lead and ran at the front of the group, setting an easy pace for everyone to keep up. Suddenly, he slid to a stop, nearly crashing to the ground when Shiina slammed into him from behind. Puzzled, Yukari looked beyond him and jerked in surprise when she saw a pair of familiar face.
"Bwahahaha! You were right, they did come down this way. Nice call man." The giant man stood in the center of the road. He was laughing and applauding his partner in crime. Yukari shivered at the thought of having met these men once again. It was clear that they had searched them out though, and there was nothing she could do but make them leave.
Behind the men stood their sekirei. The looked discontent, almost sad. It just made Yukari even angrier that these men had a pair of beautiful women who had sworn their lives to them, yet they still had hit on her. Disgusting. The man who had originally spoken turned his attention back to the group and sneered.
"Disrespect us will you? I'll teach you to show respect to your betters. Heck, when we take care of those little punks, we'll make sure that we have some fun." He grinned, and Yukari shivered as her skin crawled. She felt a hand on her shoulder and Shiina placed himself in front of her, his face hard and unforgiving. Off to the side, Amebane had done the same, and his cloak had slipped from his shoulders, revealing a small yet very muscular frame. His outfit revealed a lot of skin, yet it didn't feel indecent. It would be just Yukari's type of outfit, but even though he was a very handsome man, he didn't hold a candle to Shiina. The men smirked and jerked their heads in the direction of the group. The two sekirei stepped in front of the men and sighed.
One of the sekirei raised her fists. She was wearing a tight red top that cut off just above her belly button and black shorts. Her black hair was cut very short, and her eyes flashed in anger. She looked ready to take out her anger on her opponents. She placed herself in front of Amebane and started bouncing back and forth on her heels like a boxer. If looks could kill, Amebane would be in the ground by now.
Beside her, the other sekirei approached Shiina. She was wearing jeans and a loose white blouse. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail, leaving a short stream of brown falling down her back. From somewhere Yukari couldn't tell, she pulled out a pair of daggers and lowered her stance. Unlike the other sekirei, she didn't seem angry. In fact, she didn't even seem to care. The first to make a move was Yashiro.
"Amebane! Go and take them out!" With a curt nod, he did just that. He bolted forward, swinging a wide kick at the boxer. She ducked down, dodging his blow without even moving her feet. Before he could recover, she darted forward and assaulted Amebane with a barrage of punches. He stumbled back, barely fending off the gale force wall that was her attack. Yukari saw his body tense to respond, but her attention was called back to Shiina. The bladed sekirei shot forward, her knives flashing in front of her. Shiina's face changed from the anger of earlier to a kind of worry. He didn't hold anything against the sekirei, just the men. He jumped to the side when the sekirei jabbed her knife at him.
The sound of tearing filled the air as the knife caught Shiina shirt, leaving a rip and a small trickle of blood from a tiny cut. Yukari's heart jerked in worry, but she needn't have felt so. Steeling his heart, Shiina walked slowly toward the woman. She tensed and leaped into the air at him. Taking a deep breath, Shiina raised one hand above himself.
"Death flower." A field of greenish energy manifested above Shiina. The other sekirei's knife collided with the wall, and her face contorted with effort while she tried to break through. Shiina looked on calmly, his face straining. But under that straining was a sadness. The woman's face began to show fear when the energy began to wrap itself around her knives and then her arms. The pestilence spread and spread until it began to engulf her whole body. In her hands, her knives disintegrated and she let out a scream that would never be heard. The energy covered her face, blocking the sound. She fell to the ground to move no more. Yukari shivered from the pure power displayed. Shiina fell to his knees beside the defeated sekirei and a few stray tears dripped down his face. He cried for her. He cried for the fact that she didn't have an ashikabi that would treasure her and love her. He looked up when he felt a pressure on his shoulder. Yukari smiled down and him and crouched to pull him into a hug.
When they broke apart, Yukari glanced over to see not only the boxing sekirei lying beaten on the ground, but also the men. Their faces bloodied and bruised. Amebane looked pensive and Yashiro smiled easily. She grabbed Yukari's hand and pulled her. Without a word, they started down the street.
Yukari slowed to a walk. She glanced around at the towering building. They blocked to sun and covered the world in shadow. She and Shiina walked side by side and Yukari could see how distressed he was after the fight they just had. Without a word, she slipped a hand into his. Then, from just behind them came a sound.
"Kekeke, how sweet. Too bad it won't last any longer." Yukari jerked her head around just in time to see Amebane dart forward. His fist connected with the side of a confused Shiina's face. The force of the punch fired him through the air. He crashed into the side of one of the buildings and didn't rise again. Yukari's body jerked and she stared at her two "allies" without comprehension.
"W-w-why did you just do that? SHIINA!" She screamed and her eyes filled with tears. A dam ready to burst. Yashiro smirked.
"Please do y-"
"Shut up!" She was cut off by a shout from Amebane, and to Yukari's surprise, she nodded, meek as a mouse. Amebane placed himself in front of Yukari. He grabbed her chin and looked into her eyes. She tried to speak, but fear blocked her throat. His previously submissive demeanor was gone and malice filled his eyes. He started to speak again.
"Poor thing. You know there can only be one winner, and now I am going to prove that I am the strongest male sekirei. Maybe I'll even play with you a little when I win." Looking into his smug eyes, Yukari's fear started to dissipate, anger taking it's place.
"You tricked us!" She snarled. She struggled to wrench herself free from his grasp, but to no avail.
"Of course we tricked you. It's all part of the game, so please don't take it personally." Yukari opened her mouth to retort, but before she could, Amebane's eyes jerked open and he disappeared, landing ten feet back from where he stood. The place he had just been was filled with a miasma. The pavement began to melt, a warning for what would have happened had he not moved so quickly. Shiina stumbled forward until he stood just in front of Yukari.
"Don't. You. Dare. Touch. Her." He paused after every word to catch his breath. Amebane raised and eyebrow in disbelief.
"Still standing are you? That's quite the surprise. Too bad it won't be for too much longer." And then he moved. He darted around, shooting from place to place faster than Yukari could follow. Shiina's eyes tried to keep up, but they kept losing track. Just when he thought to move, Amebane would appear and deliver a crushing blow, knocking Shiina to his knees. Every time though, he stood back up. He refused to stay down. Tears fell freely from Yukari's face as she watched in terror as Shiina was beaten black and blue before her eyes.
Shiina wobbled back and forth in place, and it seemed that a light breeze would knock him over. Out of the corner of her eye, Yukari saw Amebane making his move. He attacked from the side, and Shiina clearly hadn't seen him. In that moment, Yukari dove forward and wrapped her arms around Shiina. It was then that she felt the fist land. She cried out in pain from the force. Then her mind went blank when she felt her ribs snap. She had no coherent thought while she fell to her knees. Only pain. Pain and suffering.
She thought she faintly heard a voice calling her name. The another. As she fell forward to the ground, she spied a black figuring growing in size as it ran toward her. Then, it all went black.
A/N: And the cliffhanger. And this chapter brings an end to round 3. What did you think? Did you see the betrayal coming? Or did you just think that I was bastardizing those characters and were pleasantly surprised when they revealed their true character? Please let me know what you thought of the chapter. Every review or pm boosts my motivation to continue and make it as good as possible.
On a side note, I have begun Beta Reading a story. It is written by Illuminet, and I have to say that it's really good. It's a sekirei crossover, but please go check it out.
Till next time,