It was quiet. Everything looked normal around me. It was the calm before the storm. I took a deep breath. Yu taught me how to control Xykoss. I knew what I was capable of doing. Whatever happens, my concentration couldn’t break. I needed to stay focused.
“Xykoss. Devour those who stand in thy way.”
My black tensha earring lit up in a black light. The pressure increased dramatically. I could feel his presence behind me. Without another thought I started running towards the direction where the first explosion would come from. Takaki-san’s Paroxys was capable of rewinding a specific amount of time. The catch was that he loses his memories of the past 24 hours every time he uses his attribute. I looked around to see if the guy who was reading the book was still around, but he was nowhere to be seen. Maybe he had escaped and was no longer in the mall. The sequence should play out as it did before. I turned the corner and saw Ohta. He was facing a large man in a black suit. That was the guy who would hurt him.
“Xykoss, that’s your target.”
I charged in and got to Ohta while he went after the man. Yu told me to give Xykoss simple commands and that he should listen to me. I was relieved that it actually came into reality.
“Ohta, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
Xykoss was brawling with him, and they were exchanging blows one after the other. The man in the suit let out a laugh and grabbed him by his neck. He proceeded then to smash him into the floor. The ground rumbled and cracks appeared. What was happening? The man flexed his muscles and ripped his suit apart. He was bulky. Like too bulky.
“Let’s play. It’s your Paroxys isn’t it, missy?”
He looked over to us with a grin on his face. Goosebumps were covering my entire body. A big scar was covering his face. His yellow eyes were piercing into my soul. This was not intimidation. It was pure terror that I was feeling. His long, dark blonde hair was swaying in the wind.
“Xykoss, stand up and fight!”
It was a desperate scream from the bottom of my lungs. The man laughed again.
“Barbichar. Seeth ev'rything and leaveth nothing.”
A yellow light engulfed his face. He closed his eyes and another third eye opened up. It was staring at us from the middle of his forehead. Xykoss tried to attack him from behind but was smashed into a wall by a fist that appeared out of nowhere. It was the man’s fist.
“If I have seen you once, I constantly know where you are and what you are doing. Meaning, I will know about your little schemes and tricks. My Paroxys lets me then teleport anything I want to my prey. Be it a fist or a chopstick.”
A bright yellow slingshot materialised in his hand with a chopstick. He pulled the rubber band back and let go. The chopstick that was flung into our direction disappeared into thin air. I instantly felt something go into my left thigh in that moment. I looked down and saw a chopstick piercing its way into my flesh. My scream was loud but Xykoss’ howl was louder. Ohta caught me before I could fall to the floor. I grabbed the chopstick and broke it in half. If I would pull it out, I would probably bleed too much and either lose consciousness or die. I saw Sayuri running towards me from my peripheral view. She was hiding in one of the shops nearby.
“Sayuri, don’t come close!”
I was too late. The man teleported and blocked her way over to us. He grabbed her by one of her braids and lifted her up in the air. Ohta whispered something into my ear and let go of me.
“What do you think would happen if I fling her around in the air? Will the braid come off first or her head?”
The man was smiling from ear to ear. I ran towards him. My hand was made into a fist, and I stared him down.
“Let go of her.”
I swung my fist into his direction. He looked pleased when he realised that it was actually Xykoss who had punched him in his stomach. Sayuri was released from his grip, and I caught her in my arms. But we were not done yet. Ohta appeared from behind Xyoss. He jumped into the air and shoved several bombs into the man’s face. I made Xykoss carry all three of us and jump from the second floor to the ground floor of the mall. Several explosions went off behind us.
“Sayuri, are you hurt?”
Her legs were shaking, and she could barely stand. She had tears in her eyes but still nodded her head. We met up with the rest of the group. Ueto-san had filled Takaki-san in on what was happening and told him that he had used his Paroxys. Nina and Haruto were surprised to see that my Paroxys was behaving. Sayuri wanted to heal me but there was no time for that. The bulky man jumped after us and landed on the ground floor right in front of us. The ground rumbled. It felt like an earthquake had hit us. The dust cloud was vanishing when we saw that he was holding Ueto-san by his head.
“How did he get to Ueto-san?”
Ohta got his bombs ready, but it was too late. In the blink of an eye, Ueto-san’s skulls was crushed and pulverised by that man’s hand. Sayuri screamed in horror. I was grinding my teeth. My jaw was locked tight.
“Where is our backup? Why haven’t they arrived yet?”
Haruto grabbed Takaki-san’s collar. His hand was trembling, and you could clearly hear the panic in his voice.
“Kids, that was not very nice what you just did.”
The man tossed Ueto-san’s limp body to the side. Some Rookies started running towards the windows and tried to smash them in with whatever they could find. They tried to escape but they couldn’t.
“What is this? Why can’t I get out?”
A girl kept crying out loud while striking a strange wall. It had a strange black tint to it. Was this what Takaki-san meant that we were trapped?
“Ah, Dimitri, you really have bad taste in how you kill people. How many times do I have to tell you that the brains need to stay intact?”
“Oh, is that you Hitomi?”
A woman with short, white hair was sitting on the stairs that went up to the first floor. A pink flower was sitting behind her ear. Her eyes were rose coloured and one of them was covered with a white eye patch. She was wearing a white sundress with some matching white, lace-up high heels.
“Neriumax. Consume and poison their minds.”
We were already high on alert but seeing the pink light escaping from one of her eyes made us jump back. Her eyepatch disappeared and where an eyeball should be was emptiness. A black hole. Creepy, crawling noises were echoing through the mall. The woman stood up and walked over to Ueto-san. She bent over his corpse and something slimy fell out of her empty eye socket on to his dead body. It had several legs and wings attached to its tiny body. More and more were escaping the woman’s eye. They wriggled around and entered his body through any openings they could fine. His mouth, eyes and ears. I had to look away. My stomach turned around and I felt sick.
“See, I told you. He is useless now.”
The man laughed out loud, and the woman looked at him displeased.
“I guess I have to do it myself.”
The woman turned around to face us. My whole body shuddered.
“Xykoss. That woman is your next target. Attack her.”
He immediately sprinted towards the woman but was kicked to the side by the bulky man.
“Ayumi, keep attacking the man. I’ll figure something out about the woman. Haruto and Sayuri back us up while we are on the offensive. Ohta, I want you to help out Ayumi’s Paroxys but keep a safe distance at all times from that man.”
Takaki-san gave us instructions and pulled out two talon knives. I had seen them in videogames before but never in real life.
“What about me and the others?”
“Nina, I’m sorry but try to not get in our way and keep a safe distance from the fight as well. Regarding the others-“
He stopped mid-sentence. There was no need for him to finish. They all were either frozen in place or passed out from fear.
“Let’s do this.”
We ran towards our designated targets. I gave Xykoss new instructions and Ohta was throwing his bombs whenever there was an opening. But no matter how we attacked the bulky man, he would not budge, nor did he get wounded. How tough can a human being be? Or was it because of his Paroxys? Takaki-san was engaged in a fight with that creepy woman. Sayuri had called out the true form of her Paroxys. Haruto and her were trying to help as much as they could. Multiple screams interrupted my train of thoughts, and the bulky man was able to get a good hit on Xykoss. He flew to the other side of the room and through the wall.
“What is happening to them?”
The colour from Ohta’s face was gone. The other Rookies were screaming in pain. Their bodies were twisting.
“Oh no. You were too occupied with me that you didn’t notice my babies crawling their way over to them. Let me fill you in on what is happening to them. My parasites crawl through any hole they can find to get to their brain. Then they slowly eat away at it until they lose control over their own bodies. They become mindless zombies which are controlled by my babies. Oh and did I mention that they are poisonous. If you don’t get them out, they will die for sure.”
Sayuri and Haruto ran over to Nina who was trying to get the parasites off them. I wanted to help them too but instead was caught by the bulky man. He kneed Ohta in his stomach and grabbed me by my throat.
“You’re not going anywhere. Tell me one thing. Why aren’t you using your Paroxys properly?”
I was struggling to breathe. My punches were too weak, and my legs were too far away to kick him. I was slowly losing my strength. My vision was getting blurry. I could make out a shadow above us. It was only a whisper, but I knew that he could hear me.
“Xykoss, destroy him.”
It felt like another earthquake had struck. His claw pushed the bulky man into the ground. The grip on my throat loosened up. I pushed myself away from him but wasn’t quick enough. The floor beneath us crumbled and the three of us fell through.
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