Chapter 19:

The Warriors Who Smash The Darkness: Part 1

Yu-Gi-Oh! :Another story

       The unsettling silence felt like it was about to crush Hanoa. Unlike the last time that she had walked down the path to her home with her friends, there was no laughter or joking. It was like she was walking to her execution. How was she going to explain this to her friends?             The truth would be hard for them to understand. It was extremely complex and detailed, even to her, but... she couldn’t lie anymore. Not only was it simply dishonest, it was now pointless. They’d only think that she was trying to fool them for some nefarious purpose They hadn’t been totally fooled by her fibs and deflections before, so they would surely see right through her if she tried to keep up the act. They were too smart for her and doing anything but leveling with them would destroy any small chance Hanoa had at staying friends with her five classmates now that they had seen her for who she really was.
        Were they already scared of her? How had their thoughts about her changed? Normally, she could read people’s emotions almost as if she was reading their memories or thoughts, but she was too worried and edgy for that ability to work at the moment.
         Her friends had seen her hacking what looked like a small child to death with a sword. They’d seen her unnatural abilities that defied all scientific knowledge and common sense. She’d been covered from head to toe in blood until she had switched off her battle transformation and turned back into a cute young girl wearing a frilly pink dress. They had witnessed firsthand the destruction and violence that she was capable of. This was exactly how she didn't want people to see her!
      She was also quite sure that they had now connected the dots at last between her and the girls who had saved them in the alley the night last week. Soon, they would surely come to the conclusion that her siblings had to be in on whatever she was caught up in. It was only a matter of when they would realize that the kids were like her, not if. Their cover would be totally blown. Even if that didn’t happen…Hanoa sighed inwardly. Even if the five kept her secret to themselves, she knew that her relationship with her dear friends would be damaged. In the best-case scenario, things would become awkward and tedious between the group. In the worst case scenario, Hanoa might have just destroyed her sibling’s lives and their chance to have a peaceful “normal” life outside of their home. Her family may end up needing to move to another city, or worse, another country!
        She opened the door carefully. “Try to be quiet, okay?” she whispered. “The littles are probably in bed already and it’s late. I don’t want to draw anyone attention. I’d like to avoid explaining what happened to the older girls until tomorrow.” The others nodded wordlessly as they all slipped in the door. The house was dimly lit by a few small lamps and nightlights, so they all stumbled as they entered. “Lets go to the room where we studied last time.” Hanoa whispered.
      “Onee-Chan?” A small, sleepy voice asked as they passed the staircase. Hanoa looked up. Kobi had woken up, for whatever reason, and was leaning, half-awake, on the banister of the second level. Her hair was in a thick, messy braid, and she was wearing a baggy summer nightgown made of pink lace and silk that had slipped down over her right shoulder. She had on a single sock and had a faux-fur blanket thrown over the left side of her body. 
       ‘Shoot!’ Hanoa though in annoyance. ‘Well, I guess better her than Tama or Ruki. Actually, Kobi shouldn’t be an issue. She’s pretty much dead to the world during the night hours. She’ll listen without any questions, and she won’t bring this up until late tomorrow afternoon when she gets up to stay up, if she even remembers this tomorrow at all.’
       “Hey, Kobi-Chan? Sweetie?” Hanoa asked quietly, hoping that Mei and Yuki were sound asleep for once and unable to overhear them. “Can you do a favor for me real quick? It will only take a second, and then you can go back to bed, okay?” “Sis?” Kobi asked. “Did something happen? Jonouchi and Honda look like they’re hurt. Are you okay?” Hanoa was slightly annoyed with her sister’s observant nature, but was also grateful for the young girl's concern. 
       “It’s kind of hard to explain right now because it’s so late, but we got in a bit of trouble. Don’t worry, though, okay? It was easy for me to take care of. They just have a few scrapes and stuff. I’m okay, though. Could you please go get the first aid kit from the small classroom? The one in the cabinet with all the dried stuff?” Kobi nodded demurely and turned around.
Luckily, Kobi hadn’t been able to fully process the fact that she had been sent to get the first aid kit that contained items for dealing with poisonings from low-level monsters. She also somehow totally missed the fact that Honda and Jonouch were barely even half-conscious and being held up by Anzu and Bakura.
       “Hey, you remember where the back room is, right?” Hanoa said, turning to her friends. “I’ll wait for my sister here, why don’t you guys get those two settled?” Yugi looked at her skeptically. “Hey, Hanoa? Are you sure they are going to be okay? They don’t look real good, but you’re acting pretty casual about all this.”
       Hanoa smiled wistfully. “I know I have a lot of explaining to do, but please trust in me for the moment, okay? This is sort of my specialty. It will be really painful to them because they are unused to this sort of thing, but I can treat it quite easily and they will end up no worse for the wear. I just need that kit.” Yugi nodded at her and turned to help Bakura drag Honda to the back of the house. Hanoa could tell that he had a lot that he wanted to say, but that he was holding back for the sake of his friends. To be honest, she hoped that their willingness to trust her to help the two boys was a good sign.
       Kobi came stumbling down the stairs with a small wooden box. “Here you go.” She said in exhaustion as she handed the item over to her sister. “Thanks, Kobi-Chan!” Hanoa said, patting her on the head. “You can go back to sleep now, sweetie, okay?” Kobi nodded and slipped her arms around Hanoa’s waist. “Night-night.” Hanoa smiled and returned the younger girl’s squeeze. “Good night. Slept tight, okay?” She kissed Kobi’s forehead and her sister waddled off back to bed.
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        “Wow! I feel so much better!” Jonouchi-Chan exclaimed as Hanoa finished up rising his injuries with water. “What was in those pills that you gave us?”
         While the injuries on their hands still hurt horribly, the wounds now felt more like second degree burns. The pain still made Jonouchi and Honda slightly dizzy, but it was nowhere near what they had experienced earlier. Back when they received the injuries, the pain was so intense and indescribable that it was almost like they had been having an out-of-body experience.
         The first thing that Hanoa had did upon joining them was to give them each a neon green capsule to swallow. The boys had gulped them down without even thinking about what could be in them. After about ten minutes, they had returned to their right minds and were more or less regular burn victims.
          Hanoa smiled as she turned and grabbed some alcohol and more clean towels from the box. “I’m glad to hear that! That was a capsule for getting rid of unnatural poisons in the body. You know, the kind that comes from…well… Monsters and stuff? Supernatural poisoning?” No point in beating around the bush. She could explain more in-depth after she finished fixing her two friends up.
          “ Anyway, most normal humans are affected in some sort of way by encounters with creatures like that. Those were Animas. They appear in areas with strong emotional energies, like accident or murder sites. They are entirely formless themselves but they can change their void- that’s the place it sucked you into; it’s basically a tiny dimension slip- to reflect the energy of the place it opened an entrance into. If I had to guess, a school-girl was the victim of some sort of attack that killed her. She either died there or her dead body was dumped there after-“           Hanoa stopped abruptly. She was so accustomed to talking about the unnatural world that she got engrossed in talking about it without realizing that her explanation wasn’t helping with what her friend had wanted to know. All he was worried about the medications she was making him take, not the thing that had nearly killed him; he was still alive and just wanted to make sure that he stayed that way.
          She blushed as she poured alcohol over the towel. “Sorry for babbling. Anyway, my point was that some Animas can be poisonous to humans. Their poisons have no effect on people like me but regular humans can be poisoned by them just by walking through the area where a closed Maze entrance is. They are literally created from toxic emotions tied to the area they appear in, but it's typically up to a combination of the particular residual energy and chance if they are poisonous or not. Those pills I gave you two are meant to negate the effects of unnatural poisonings. There’s nothing in there to worry about, just a bunch of different minerals, vitamins, algae, stuff like that. There’s a lot of… special…plants and herbs and odd stuff in there, too, but it’s all stuff that has healing properties. It’s dissolving all the poison in your body. You'll probably have some flu-like symptoms lingering for a few days, but you’ll be alright. There’s no threat to your lives at all. Those burns on the other hand…” Hanoa trailed off.
         “Well…they will hurt like no tomorrow for a while, but they’ll heal. They are just extremely bad burns. It was how the poison got into your system in the first place. The plant-like thing burned you first and then released it’s poison into your bloodstream. You were already in shock and agony from the burns so the poison was able to do a number on you rather quickly.”
        Suddenly nervous and awkward, Hanoa violently pressed the damp towel to Honda’s burns. “AAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!” He screamed so violently that Hanoa jumped. “S-s-s-sorry! I’m so sorry, Honda-Chan!” Her face burned and tears gathered in her eyes. She wished that she was anywhere but here right now. “Ah…damn…shoot…!” He groaned. “It’s okay. Do what you’ve got to do, just give me a heads-up first if it’s going to hurt, okay?” “Y-yes…sorry.” Hanoa apologized as she picked up the towel in one hand and Honda-Chan’s left hand in the other and began gently wiping his wounds down to kill any overlooked bacteria. His body seized up and his breathing grew heavy. Clearly, her friend was in pain, but he was holding himself together as best he could.
         Hanoa’s heart felt heavy. One, no, two, of her dear friends were in horrific pain, and it was all her fault. She had endangered them enough by spending so much time with them, but the only reason they had the near-fatal misfortune of being sucked into an Anima’s Maze in the first place was because they had ran into it’s range to find her. She kept playing it over and over in her head. where had she gone wrong? How could she had stopped this? If only she had not gone to that stupid party. If only she had just left the party when the girls were bullying her. If only she had ran to her friends instead of from them. If, if, if…
       She finished disinfecting both of Honda-Chan’s hands, then moved on to Jono-Chan’s. She could feel the other three's eyes on her, watching her every move with concern for the two boys. They hadn’t talked at all since Hanoa had begun working on Honda and Jonouchi.
       ‘Thank you God,’ she prayed silently as she grabbed some bottles and a stack of cloth bandages from her kit. ‘My friends could have died, but they didn’t and we had everything that I needed to treat them on hand. I’m very grateful to you that everyone will alright.’
         She dabbed some oil on their burns to dull the pain and reduce the potential for scaring. Next, she slathered her friend’s hands with some weird smelling blue goo. It was another one of her healing concoctions, basically the equivalent of triple antibiotic for burns received from unusual sources. She wrapped their hands thickly in the bandages and tied them off. Finally, she gave them some more pills to take and began cleaning up.
       “Just so you know, those are regular old painkiller tablets.” She said softly. Now that Honda-Chan and Jono-Chan were fixed up, they were all going to focus their attention on her and what had happened earlier. As foolish as it was, she tried in vain to find some way out of it, but she knew she couldn’t run anymore. She also felt very hungry and weak. Between the fight at the party, the battle with the Anima in the alley, and just the emotional stress of the whole situation, she was already worn down. Then she had spent a great deal of her power to make sure that her friends heeled quickly and painlessly; she didn’t want to sit and hope that the drugs would work when she had a way guaranteed to heal them. She wished that she could have just completely healed them directly, but they were already freaked out enough as it is. And, with the way she was feeling right now, she might have passed out from the exhaustion had she used her powers. Just using them was draining enough, but she had to release them gradually and subtlety so that the others didn’t pick up on her actions, which took even more out of her than just doing everything at once.
         “Hey, guys?” She asked timidly. “If…there’s anything that you need to know…well…I’ll-I’ll do my best to tell you everything, okay? It’s just…I-I don’t feel so great right now. Can I go get something to eat real quick?”
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        Hanoa greedily chomped down on a sandwich. She felt slightly embarrassed, but she needed to replenish her strength if she wanted to make it through this. She had made herself a sandwich, reheated a bowl of noodles, and brewed a big pot of tea to from herbs meant  to help counter the effects of rapid power loss. Her friends stared at her as she shoved down the last of the sandwich and she figured that it was time to get the torture over with.
       “Okay so…w-w-where do you want me to start?” She asked timidly? “Well, explaining what’s going on with you would be a great start.” Anzu suggested. “Who and what are you, and what the heck is going on in this city?”
          “Well…I’m a Seitachi, an Earthbound-Saint.” She started. “This-this won’t be easy, but I’ll do my best. That means that I’m a guardian of this world and everything in it. I’m human, but not entirely. I’m something else. People like me, Seitachi, are a special, rare race of humans. We are born with strong powers and skill sets. The kind that most people think only exist in stories. We are basically born able to do what you would consider magic, but not entirely. Real magic is a whole other story altogether. For us, it’s science. It’s just who we are. It’s in our DNA. We can do things other people can’t. There is a limitless range of skill and powers. Some things, like super speed, or heightened senses, or the ability to defy the laws of gravity, are things that every Seitachi can do. Some things are very specific to the person, and some are downright rare or restricted to a particular geographical area. For example, two Seitachi can be skilled at sword fighting and use a sword as their main weapon, but one of them could just have an aptitude for it for whatever reason, and the other one could have developed their swordsmanship skills because they have the ability to materialize an endless number of swords. Another example is that most people who have the power to manipulate water are strong swimmers who grew up in a tropical reason. It just depends on the person. There typically is no limit to what a Seitachi can do, but some skills will be inherently strong and some weak, no matter how much you work on them. Also, there are some things that a given Seitachi just can’t do because it isn’t in them. For example, I can’t summon ice or water. If I tried to do that…well, I might end up learning how, but it would be very bad, like a curse. It’s hard to explain because this stuff is written into our genetics. You just know what you should and shouldn’t do, and your body and mind often react without needing any help or thought on your part. While it may be hard to see or describe, there is a clear line between being Setachi and witchcraft and magic. Both of those are bad and flat out immoral; it’s written in our DNA to not do certain things that will lead us down that path. It’s also bad for regular humans, people with no Seitachi blood, to try to learn to do things that defy reality. Magic and Occultism…are horrible!” She clutched the skirt of her dress tightly in anger.
          “Humans are so stupid! Some people are born with powers to see the future or move things with their mind, even though they are not Seitachi. Being a Seitachi…is just something that you know and feel because it’s in you and it resonates with other Seitachi and draws you together. People who were born with no unusual powers who go seeking them or messing around with that sort of stuff…they are just calling on dark powers! They let more evil in the world and that’s why everything is so horrible and why the Seitachi are needed!” Now Hanoa was so fired up that tears were rolling from her eyes.
        “S-s-s-sorry. My bad. Sorry I’m getting angry at stuff you don’t Understand.” She apologized sadly, rubbing her eyes with her fists. “It’s okay” Anzu said softly. While she had no clue what was going on, she could tell that her friend was getting upset over something for the right reasons. Even though her closest girl friend had always been hard to read and even though she now knew that Hanoa had been hiding things from them…she didn’t think there was any evil intent behind it. Once they had gotten to know each other, her sense of Hanoa was that, even though her actions may have seemed odd or rude, she was a very caring individual. She was just a very awkward and easily frightened young woman, so her actions and words often came out opposite what she had intended them to mean. She didn’t understand how to deal with people, but she cared very much and seemed to be easily moved by the pain and suffering of others. She had been nothing but kind to them, almost like a child playing with older children, and Anzu had seen often enough with her own two eyes how deeply Hanoa loved her younger siblings and wanted to keep them safe. She was certain that, whatever Hanoa was, whatever she could do, she wasn’t a monster and she wasn’t a bad person. She was still Hanoa Atsuka, her friend, no matter what.
       “Hey.” Jonouchi asked darkly. “There’s something I want to know. What is your power? What can you do?” Hanoa felt scared. She sensed acceptance from Anzu-Chan, and nothing in her other friends emotions was particularly concerning yet, but she sensed Jonouchi-Chan’s rage. He was holding it in as best he could and didn’t want to hurt her, but he felt betrayed and uneasy. Normally, Hanoa found it funny when her friend was all angry and worked up, but it was absolutely terrifying to be on the receiving end of his extreme emotions for a justifiable reason.
     “I’m…I have f-fire powers.” Hanoa stuttered. She blushed as her friends looked at her. She didn’t want to be seen as a monster, but she forced herself to close her hand silently. She focused her thoughts. ‘Burn’, she ordered herself in her mind. She stared at her hand, then turned her fist so that her fingers faced down. After a moment, she swung her fist up and opened her fingers. Above her outstretched palm, a beautiful lily formed out of flames burst into existence and hovered above Hanoa’s hand. “Oooo!” It’s so pretty! Bakura exclaimed. ‘Of course,’ Hanoa thought to herself. 
       'Of course Bakura-Chan would think that this is cool. I definitely shouldn’t have worried about him. Once no one was in danger of dying, he went right back to thinking this sort of thing was fun. Even though nosey people like him are why people like me need to be around to fix the screw-ups of humanity, I’m glad that he isn’t the type of person to be disgusted or judgmental to people who are weird.’ As everyone stared in awe at the flower floating in her palm, Hanoa silently assed the situation.
        She was sure that Bakura-Chan, being who he was, was totally unperturbed by this. She could tell that Anzu-Chan was confused and hurt and, yes, a bit scared, but it didn’t seem like her fear was directed at Hanoa directly. She was scared of her powers, but she was more upset by the fact that that sort of power and unnatural things existed and that they had been right in front of her all along than she was horrified by Hanoa herself.
      Yugi-Chan was clearly conflicted. He might have issues trusting her and might end up being a bit nervous and worry around her, but she didn’t think that he was so disgusted and angry that he wouldn’t want anything to do with her at all. To be honest…she had had this feeling for a while that he had been suspicious of her. Not necessarily in a bad way, but she got the feeling that his sixth-sense was particularly strong and that he had picked up on her odd aura more than anyone else in her class and that he'd been aware something was off from day one. His reaction wasn’t all that unexpected or uncalled for.
        Honda-Chan and Jonouchi-Chan on the other hand…Hanoa gave them a sideways glance. They would be the real issue. They were the sort that got angry easily and held grudges, especially when their trust was broken. She’d already figured out that she would likely have better luck with Honda-Chan; he disliked people who acted untrustworthy, but he was also much more sympathetic and willing to forgive. It would take her a while to earn his total forgiveness, but she would have a chance. Jonouchi-Chan on the other hand…
         He was clearly pissed beyond all belief. Hanoa couldn’t tell if he was mad at her for being what she was and hiding it from him, or if he was angry with her lying to them, or if he was mad at the whole situation the five had ended up in, or if he was upset about getting injured and blamed it on her, or if it was something else or all of those together. He was a good person at heart but he was also very…well…unpredictable would be the best way to describe it. He was one of those people were very protective of others and easily angered when they were hurt. She honestly wasn’t sure whether he would ever forgive her or not, especially now that he and Honda-Chan had gotten hurt so badly.
          As her stomach growled at her, Hanoa turned her flames off and looked longingly at her bowl of noodles. “Please excuse me for a moment.” she asked.

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