- Chapter 1-
A New Threat
Kai entered the front door of his house and smiled at the sight before him. Kanade and Hibiki were parked in front of the TV watching cartoons, clearly absorbed in them. The two were virtually identical except for their eye color: Kanade had the same pale blue eyes as their mother Diva, while Hibiki had the same dark red eyes as their aunt Saya. The two were wearing dresses that matched their respective eye colors.
The twins turned at the sound of the door closing, and they beamed at the sight of him.
"Kai, you're back!"
Kai had just enough time to brace himself before Hibiki and Kanade jumped to their feet and flew at him, both simultaneously catching him in a tight hug that nearly knocked him off his feet. Kai chuckled and gathered the two up in his arms.
"Where'd you go?" Hibiki asked.
"I went to see your auntie again," Kai replied. "I hadn't been down there in a while, so I figured I'd make it up to her."
"Well, that was very thoughtful of you," said an older female voice.
Kai turned just as Julia Silverstein entered the room, rubbing her slightly-swollen belly. Standing next to her was her son Robin, a little boy around Kanade and Hibiki's age with Julia's eyes, but the same blond hair as his father David.
"Thank you for agreeing to babysit on such short notice, Julia," Kai said as he gently deposited Kanade and Hibiki on the couch. Julia smiled and waved her hand in dismissal.
"It's no trouble, Kai," she said calmly. "Things have been pretty slow at the clinic. I was happy to have something to do."
"And I was happy to have an excuse to come over," Robin added. He had become good friends with the twins.
Julia ruffled her son's hair before nodding in Kai's direction. It was time for them to go home.
"Miss Julia?" Kanade asked.
Julia turned towards her. "Yes?"
Kanade looked away shyly, blushing slightly. "Before you go, is it okay if me and Hibiki feel your baby?"
Julia smiled. "Of course, sweetie."
Julia gently took Kanade's little hand and rested it against her belly, and Hibiki quickly followed suit. After a moment, they both felt a little bump and giggled happily.
"I felt it move!" Hibiki squealed. Kanade nodded, equally excited.
With that, the twins took their hands off of Julia's belly. Julia gave them a smile and took Robin's hand.
"I gotta get going, Kai," Julia said. "I'll see you later."
"Bye!" the twins shouted simultaneously, waving. Robin turned, smiled, and waved back before walking out the door with his mother, leaving Kai alone with his nieces.
Kai looked at Kanade and Hibiki. Saya, Kai, and the rest of the Red Shield were in agreement that the girls were to be kept in the dark about the blood-soaked history of their ancestral lines and the war between their mother and aunt that had lasted for over a century, at least until they were old enough to know the truth. He remembered the night they were born. Saya had finally slain Diva, and was about to commit suicide and take the babies with her out of fear that they would be used as weapons if they lived. Fortunately, Kai and Haji had managed to convince her to live on and spare the twins' lives. To think that something so beautiful could result from something so ugly, he thought.
Kai would never forget it. Kanade and Hibiki were conceived that horrible night when Diva raped and killed Riku during the attack on the Red Shield HQ. He had hated Diva since that night, but knowing the pain and suffering she had endured, Kai just couldn't help but feel sorry for her. All Diva ever wanted was to be loved and have a family like Saya did, but fate clearly had other plans for her. If only the first Joel Goldschmidt hadn't treated her so horribly, Diva would have been able to be here and be happy.
Kai pushed those thoughts away and sat down between Kanade and Hibiki on the couch. The twins automatically cuddled up to him, with Hibiki resting her head in his lap. Kai smiled as he put his arms around them. He was so happy right now, and only wished that Saya could be here with them.
"Honestly, you two can't be left alone to do anything!"
Collins' two assistants could do little more than cower in fear as he unleashed his verbal fury on them. He was waving a newspaper in front of them. The headlines screamed, "Mysterious Disappearances Continue - Eight Have Vanished." Collins slapped the paper down on his desk and rubbed his eyes in annoyance, knowing exactly who they were. The eight missing individuals the press mentioned had been taken by Collins and his flunkies to be used as test subjects for their Delta 67000 experiments, and Collins was anything but pleased that the disappearances had gone public.
"I gave you little maggots specific orders not to target locals!" Collins screamed, pounding his fist on the desk. "You told me that those people were vagrants, criminals, and out-of-towners. You weren't supposed to take people who would be reported missing!"
One of the assistants, a young man wearing glasses and clad in dark denim, opened his mouth to say something, but Collins cut him off.
"The experiments may be progressing better than expected," he said, his eyes starting to flash red, "but how do you expect our plan to run smoothly if we were DISCOVERED?!"
The denim-wearing assistant was scared speechless, but the other, a young woman with long black hair, was made of sterner stuff.
"What's done is done, Dr. Collins," she said. "Besides, so what if the Red Shield find out? With Saya hibernating, they're no threat to us."
With an effort, Collins managed to compose himself.
"You underestimate them, my dear Megan," he said calmly. "You're right, of course. With Saya in her hibernation cycle, there isn't much they can do to stop us. However, I do not really want those insects buzzing about and being a nuisance."
Megan nodded, before Collins turned his attention to her partner.
"Derek, you and I both know that the Delta 67000 project will make us famous," he said. Derek nodded. "Please be more discreet when choosing test subjects. It would be unfortunate if I had to do anything... drastic to your little girl."
Derek and Megan both visibly tensed at that. In order to ensure their total compliance to the Delta 67000 project, Collins was holding their eight-year-old daughter, Rebecca, hostage. If they tried anything, he would surely kill her.
The Delta 67000 agent was an enhancement of Delta 67 in every way. Furthermore, it was every bit a powerful virus; while ordinary chiropteran queens could only transform humans into chiropterans through mouth-to-mouth blood transfusion, those infected with Delta 67000 could transmit it to others through bites, scratches, or transmission of body fluids. However, the infected were prone to volatile mutations, much like the Thorn that once plagued the Schiff. For now, though, it suited Collins' scheme.
Even as they left Collins' office to continue the experiments, both Derek and Megan were begging both Rebecca and God for forgiveness.
Kai was awoken late that night by the sound of his cell phone going off. Irritated, he answered it.
"Not Omoro," he grumbled, irritated at having been woken up at this hour, "because Omoro has gone to bed, and why the hell haven't you?"
"Kai, it's Joel,"
"Question answered," Kai said, managing to wake himself up a bit more. "What's going on?"
"We're having a meeting at Julia's clinic. We need you there right away. It's urgent."
"Isn't it always?" Kai asked. "Okay, I'll be there soon."
Kai pressed END on his phone and pulled himself out of bed. He dressed quickly and, after a moment, decided it would be best to bring Kanade and Hibiki with him. He didn't know how long he would be gone, so he carefully dressed the sleeping twins, gathered them in his arms and walked to the hospital.
When Kai entered Julia's office, he saw that David, Julia, Lewis, Okamura, Lulu, and Mao were already gathered there. Everyone was bleary-eyed and visibly tired. Obviously, Joel had phoned them and woken them up just as he had done with Kai.
"You guys mind explaining what the hell is goin' on here?" Kai asked as he gently deposited Kanade and Hibiki in an armchair and covered them with his jacket. The twins stirred a little before settling back down.
"No idea," said Lulu, running a hand through her purple hair. "Joel just called us and said it was urgent."
"And it is," came the voice of the Red Shield leader.
Everyone turned to see Joel wheel himself into the room, but what really surprised them was the man behind him. A man whom they all thought to be dead.
"Haji?" Julia said in surprise, cleaning her glasses. "Is it really you?"
Haji just nodded.
"I can't believe it," Lulu said. "Kai was right. You're not dead!"
"We can discuss that later," Joel cut in sharply. "Right now, we've got more pressing manners. Haji, if you would."
Nodding, Haji proceeded to describe the reappearance of Aston Collins and his subsequent tailing of the mad scientist, as well as his experiments on live humans and chiropterans.
"Collins is behind the disappearances?" David asked. "And here I thought we'd seen the last of him."
"All this talk about the birth of a new world..." Julia muttered. "Whatever Collins is up to, it can't be good."
"That's just the beginning," Haji said in his typical monotone. "There's only one person who has the power to stop Collins, and we all know who that is."
Kai nodded, realizing what Haji was getting at. "Saya."
"Whoa, whoa, time out!" Okamura cut in. "Are you saying we've gotta wake Saya up early? Don't you remember what happened the last time you guys tried that?"
No one answered; they didn't have to. Okamura was referring to the chaos that occurred back in December 1972, when the Red Shield forcibly awakened Saya prematurely in Vietnam in order to fend off a chiropteran outbreak. Unfortunately, Saya woke up in a mindless rage and went berserk, butchering humans and chiropterans alike and mortally wounding David's father before returning to her hibernation. It was during that fateful night that the hibernating Saya was entrusted to the care of their father George, who was with the US Army at the time and witnessed everything.
"He's right, Joel," Kai said. "Don't get me wrong, I wanna see Saya again more than anything, but if we force her to wake up, she'll just go on a psychopathic rampage and butcher us all alive like she did in Vietnam. There's gotta be another way."
"Kai, we don't have a choice," Joel replied. "None of us can possibly hope to stop Collins' chiropterans as we are. We need Saya."
Kai opened his mouth to protest again, but Mao put a hand on his shoulder. After a moment, he nodded.
"Okay," he sighed. "I guess there's no other way around it. Let's go get the cocoon."
Now the real story begins.
Next chapter: Saya's long-awaited return!
Please R&R. Until next time...