The God's Child
30 Minutes Prior To Yuki's Battle:
“I can’t believe I left them!”
Rika couldn’t shake off the guilt, not when Yuki had looked at her that way, like she had betrayed her. Not when Emi had gotten so upset she had fallen to the floor sobbing. She wanted to turn back and tell them everything would be okay. But she knew that couldn’t happen. The guilt she felt now would be nothing compared to how she would feel if Takuya was killed off and she had done nothing to help. That thought alone pushed her forward, ignoring the wails she could still hear.
Luckily there were other noises to distract her from Emi’s cries. To her great discomfort, even when she was a human she had kept her canine sense of hearing and smell. This had been a minor thing to process when she was still in the countryside. It was a completely different issue here in the city, where sounds seemed to be coming from everywhere. Ever since she had entered the police station, she had been bombarded with different sensory overloads, from the strong coffee smell that lingered in the air to the many clicking sounds of officers typing reports.
And now her ears were hearing other noises too, the conversation between Haruto and Takuya…
“You know you have some nerve attacking me like that!” Haruto complained haughtily.
“I’ll shoot again unless you tell me how you found us!” Takuya gave a heated reply.
“You’re quite the trigger happy fella aren’t you?” Haruto remarked, not concerned with the threat.
“Just answer the question!”
“Patience isn’t really one of your strong suits is it? Of course, I find that trait isn’t common in many of Aphrodite’s kin.” Rika could hear Takuya’s heartbeat quicken as Haruto continued, his voice dropping into a sly purr. “Isn’t that right, Ta-ku-ya?”
The blonde gave a mirthful laugh. “Oh you should see your face right now! What’s wrong? You didn’t think we were only here for Emi now did you? This is God we’re talking about. Did you really think you could hide from him?”
“Yamamoto!” Rika had heard a punching sound, Takuya’s painful gasp and then a loud thunk as his body hit the floor. She heard glass crackling as Haruto took his time walking over to where the officer had landed.
“Trust me friend, it’s better this way.” She could hear Haruto’s words. “Why spend all your life in hiding, always wondering when God will set his gaze upon you? Believe me, that life gets old really fast.” She heard him pick up Takuya’s gun off the floor. “It’s better just to give up and accept that there is only one almighty god” She heard the gun get cocked. “….and your mother isn’t it.”
Haruto aimed the gun at Takuya’s head, but found there was now another head in the way. Rika had thrust her head through the doorway, lips pulled back into a ferocious snarl as she stared straight at Haruto. An enormous grin split his face.
“Oh goodie! You came back!” He said, clapping his hands together.
Rika’s ears dropped down in confusion. “What are you yapping about?” Beside her, Takuya groaned, picking himself up and leaning against Rika’s neck for support. Blood dripped from a cut above his eye and he had many other small scratches and bruises covering his body.
“Why you of course!” Haruto replied brightly, giving his hair another flip. “It’s only natural to take an interest in you. After all…” He pulled out a diamond pendant, almost identical to Rika’s ruby one. “You and I are of the same breed!”
Rika stared at it, not sure what to think. It made sense there would be more gemstones like hers, since Takuya had explained he also had one. But why would one of God’s minions have one? It seemed Haruto could sense the questions going through Rika’s head.
“Hmmm by that confused look, I imagine there’s still a lot you don’t know about that piece of jewelry around your neck.” He perched himself on the table, crossing his legs comfortably. “Where oh where to begin?”
“Why did the gem give me these powers?” Rika found herself asking.
“Rika! We need to get out of here.” Takuya whispered, lips barely moving. But Rika ignored him, wanting to know more about these strange powers and why she was involved.
“Oh cutting right to the chase, aren’t we?” Haruto grinned, twirling his pendant on his finger. “Very well. To keep it simple, these gemstones hold spirits in them. These spirits are designed to choose candidates that are willing to protect anything holy. Such as… I don’t know… a child of a god?”
“So this wolf is a spirit?” Rika wondered, finding the thought rather bizarre.
“Seems like a cushy gig right?” Haruto asked, holding his diamond up to the light. “You suddenly find yourself with immense power at your fingertips, all you have to do is play bodyguard for some spoiled demigod.” He let the necklace fall back onto his chest, blue eyes turning cold. “That is till you realize just who you are fighting against.”
He turned to Rika, still smiling despite the dark expression that lingered on his face. “Let me make one thing clear to you little wolf. God is relentless. No matter who you fight, no matter how many battles you win, God will eventually send someone that will be much stronger and faster than you. So unless you’re willing to fight for the long haul, I would just give up now.” He extended a hand towards Rika. “So join us instead. I think we can have a lot of fun together!”
Rika stared at his hand, unmoving. “Can I ask you something?”
Haruto grinned. “Of course!”
“What happened to that demigod you were chosen to protect?”
A hush fell over the room. Haruto’s smile faltered, but continued to stay in place as he answered. “I let God have his way with her.” He tucked the pendant back under his shirt. “It was only a matter of time after all. God gets what God wants. The sooner you realize that…” He jumped down from the table. “The happier you will be!” Once again, he held his hand out to her. “So do we have a deal?”
“I don’t understand…” Rika felt red hot fury bubbling inside her, ready to burst. “I don’t understand how you could let the person who trusted you...who needed you…” An image of Emi’s smiling face hovered in her mind. “HOW COULD YOU LET THEM DIE!?” Rika roared, flames bursting from her mouth.
“DON’T YOU IDIOT!” Takuya lunged at Rika, holding her snout shut. Flames licked through her teeth, singeing his clothes.
Rika felt the fire boil in her mouth. She tried to swallow it back up, but it was like trying to hold back vomit. Her head bucked, bringing Takuya off the ground. Haruto flew back, chuckling. Rika finally couldn’t take it anymore. With great lurch, she snapped her mouth open, a stream of black smoke filling the room.
“Come on!” Takuya pushed Rika’s head, forcing the great wolf out of the entryway. They heard Haruto’s shout of dismay just as they ran down the hall.
“Why did you do that back there!” Rika demanded, her mouth still smelling of smoke.
“Why do you think?” Takuya snapped, clutching his side painfully as he ran. Rika realized he probably had a broken rib somewhere. “We’re inside a building! Use just one of your fire attacks and this building will go up in flames, along with the people in it!”
“Oh…” No, she didn’t think of that. “Yuki’s right. I have to think ahead more. Especially with these powers.”
They ran down an old stairwell that looked like it hadn’t been used for a while. Not stopping until they entered a deserted corridor, with many locked up offices. Rika glanced around, confused.
“How big is this police station?” Rika asked.
“It’s one of the bigger ones in the area, due to the many departments the building occupies.” Takuya explained, looking up the stairwell to make sure they weren’t being followed. “This floor is the basement and is where the forensics work. Since it’s so late, everyone in this department has already left for the night.”
“You don’t have to worry.” Rika reassured him. “I can’t hear or smell Haruto anywhere near us.”
Takuya crouched to the floor, his tense body relaxing. He glanced up at Rika, asking. “Where’s the kid?”
“I left her with Yuki. They should be outside the building by now.”
“You should have stayed with her! You’re the one who has powers. What if there are others like that Haruto guy just waiting for an opportunity to strike?” He jumped back up, banging his fist against the wall as he glared at Rika. “You’re an idiot for coming back to me!”
Rika’s fur stood on end as anger pulsed through her. “Oh okay! Says the guy who literally was about to get his head blown off before I got there! But yeah, you’re right I’m an idiot. An idiot for coming back to save you!” She turned, stalking away from him. She heard him following behind.
“We need to stop by my Dad’s office first.” Takuya said, breaking the tense silence. “I need to warn him about Haruto. If it’s true God knows about me, then my family could be in danger too.”
She twitched her ear, not looking at him. “Fine, which way is it?”
“2nd floor. One floor above where the interrogation room is.” He moved ahead, but then suddenly collapsed to the floor, clutching his side.
“Are you okay?!” Rika asked, anger momentarily forgotten as she worriedly crouched down closer to him. He stubbornly pushed her black nose away from him.
“I’m fine….” Takuya grumbled, already trying to get back up. He faltered, falling forward. Rika stuck her neck out, catching him midfall.
“Maybe you should ride on my back?” Rika suggested.
Takuya shook his head. “No, it’s too risky. You shouldn’t even be in this form right now. It’ll cause a lot of unnecessary explaining if someone sees you.”
“I’ll be able to smell anyone before they get close to us.” Rika reassured him. “Plus I don’t think anyone will come. I can hear some sort of commotion up front? I’m not sure what’s going on though.”
“I’m sure it involves Haruto.” Takuya growled, putting his weight against the wolf’s side. “I just hope no one is hurt.” Rika’s ears perked. She felt the fingers clinging to her fur shaking.
“He’s worried.” Rika observed.
Without a word she moved away from him. Before he could protest, she dipped her head between his legs, lifting him up into the air. He gave a surprised yelp as he slid down to rest on her back. “Bend down as low as you can go.” Rika advised. “Don’t want you to hit your head on the ceiling.” With that said, she raced up the stairs forcing him to cling on tight.
As she walked, she felt Takuya lower his face close to her ear. “Hey...I’m sorry for calling you an idiot earlier.”
Rika’s ear twitched as her tail swished side to side awkwardly. “It’s fine. I’m used to it.”
She felt his fingers tighten on her neck fur. “No it’s not. Look I know I shouldn’t have snapped at you. It’s just…” He paused, as if trying to find the correct words. “It’s just...you’re so young, not even out of high school. Yet, you’re out here fighting battles you have no part of. I just don’t want you to get involved anymore than necessary. Coming back for me just puts yourself at unnecessary risk.”
Rika paused as they came to the 2nd floor landing where large windows gave a view of the city lights. She was honestly surprised that the young officer was that concerned about her. “Yamamoto.” She replied, using his surname for the first time. “Look at me.” The reflections of a large white wolf with a young man riding her stared back at them. “There’s no denying that I’m involved. Whether you and I like it or not doesn’t really matter anymore.”
She twisted her head back so she could face him. “ If it makes you feel better, I chose to get myself involved with this war when I protected Emi.” She walked away from their reflections, her expression growing somber. “I feel more sorry for people like you who had no choice in the matter.”
Takuya was silent for a moment, taking in what Rika said. “You know...I think I would rather Police-kun than you using my surname. It sounds odd coming from you.”
Rika’s tail wagged. “How about I just call you Takuya instead? After all, I did save your life.”
She felt him shift awkwardly on her back. “I guess...that’s fine.” He finally mumbled, sounding embarrassed.
Rika was about to take a step forward when Takuya’s voice suddenly called out to her. “Rika?”
The white wolf stiffened. He had never used her name before. “Yes?”
“Thanks….for coming back for me.”
Rika felt her fur grow uncomfortably hot as she mumbled a quick “Your welcome.”
They both fell into an embarrassed silence until Rika suddenly paused, ears perking up. Takuya looked down at her. “What is it?”
“I hear something.” Rika replied, neck fur rising nervously. “Whatever it is is coming towards us. “It almost sounds like….squeaking?”
“Squeaking?” Takuya repeated, confused. “Like a mouse?”
As if on cue, a horde of white demon Doberman-sized mice rounded the corner. Rika and Takuya watched in horror as their squeaks filled the hallway, getting louder as their little paws bought them ever closer.
“Quick! Which way is your dad’s office.” Rika asked.
“Take a wild guess.” Takuya answered, pointing in the direction the mice were coming from. Rika groaned.
“Okay, hold on!” Rika roared, charging straight at the mice. She plowed through the horde, her jaws snapping at any rodent that dared to come close. Even with her size advantage, the sheer number of the mice was enough to overwhelm Rika as they started to fight back. She let out a painful snarl, as several of the mice clawed up her side, biting into her flesh.
“Back off!” Takuya yelled, kicking at one of the demon rodents that had attached itself to Rika. It fell to the ground, hissing angrily.
“Thanks!” Rika panted, her paws swiping a mouse that tried to snap at her. Her ears picked up a soft chiming sound, as if a bell was ringing. The mice paused their assault, moving as one up the walls and into the ceiling through a ventilation duct. Takuya jumped down, pulling his gun out of his holster but none of the mice remained.
“Damn it!” He cursed, running to look up at the ducts. “What were those things?”
“Better question…How do you still have that gun?” Rika asked, limping over to him. A trail of blood drizzled down her shoulder, where a particularly bad bite stood out. Takuya glanced at the wound, scowling.
“If we don’t stop that bleeding, it’ll be an easy trail for an enemy to follow.”
“No, it doesn’t hurt much!” Rika replied in a falsely cheerful voice. “Thank you for your concern!”
Takuya’s lips twitched, almost as if he wanted to smile. Wordlessly he took off his jacket and wrapped it tightly around the wound. Rika watched him work, curiosity eating at her. “Can I ask you something?”
“As long as we can talk and move. My father's office is just around the corner.” Takuya answered.
“Why do you always have such a harsh attitude when talking to people? Like with Yuki! It’s like you're purposely trying to get people mad at you! I mean Yuki gets mad pretty easily to begin with, but you don’t really help either. It’s obvious you’re a kind person. Without knowing anything about us, you fed us and already risked your life multiple times to help us.” Rika paused and she saw Takuya do the same, his back facing her.
“Would it hurt to be a little bit more honest with yourself?”
She walked past him, not expecting an answer. An office door stood before them, completely scratched up by what looked like tiny claws. Takuya grimaced, tracing the marks with his fingers. “This looks like the work of those demon mice.”
Rika nodded, sniffing the air. “Yes they were definitely here.” She froze, another smell wafting into her nostrils. “Blood? A lot of it and…” Her eyes widened as the scent of Yuki and Emi came over her. “No….don’t tell me they’re…”
Takuya glanced at her, noticing her tense up. “Hey, are you okay?” He found himself suddenly jumping back as Rika ripped at the door with her claws, the sound of scraped metal filling the air.
“Hey! You know I have a key!” Takuya exclaimed, pulling out a small key. But his words fell on deaf ears as the giant wolf continued to attack the door. “At least change back to a human! You're not going to fit through the…”
The door flew open, barely hanging off its hinges. “....door.” Takuya finished, slapping a hand to his face.
Frantic, Rika stuffed her head through and found herself face to face with an odd sight. A sapphire colored harpy stood before her, ready to attack. Clinging to the back of her neck was Emi, safe and unharmed. Whether it was twin intuition or some other mystical force, but Rika instantly knew the harpy before her was none other than Yuki.
“Then where is that blood smell coming from?” Rika did a quick survey of the room and her sharp eyes almost immediately fell on the form of a gravely injured man, sitting against the wall. Her heart dropped as she realized his face looked almost exactly like Takuyas’. “Oh, no…”
An annoyed voice called out from behind her.
“I told you, there’s no way a giant lump of fur like you is going to fit through here.” Takuya grumbled, pushing his way past Rika. He froze, staring from Yuki to Emi. In one smooth motion, his arm came up aiming a pistol right at Yuki’s head.
“What are you doing?!!” Rika yelled.
“You can’t tell me she’s not suspicious!” Takuya yelled back, not moving his gun away. “Plus she has Emi!”
“I’M YUKI YOU…..” Yuki suddenly stopped herself mid insult, looking uncomfortable.
“What’s with you?” Takuya asked, scratching his head at her odd behavior. It was then his eyes noticed the blood on the floor. Time seemed to grow still as his gaze followed the trail of blood that led to where his dying father sat. His gun fell to the ground with a loud clang.
Takuya lurched forward, running to his father’s side. Yuki silently flew down, landing next to Rika. Emi flung herself on top of Rika’s head burying herself into the white fur. Both sisters shared a sorrowful glance as they listened to father and son’s last words together.
“Dad….why….what happened?” Takuya demanded, clinging to his father’s hand. Unfortunately for him, his father’s life was fast draining. The chief’s eye’s fluttered, coming in and out of focus, as his breathing grew fainter.
Takuya nodded, his voice breaking. “Yeah...it’s me.”
Mr. Yamamoto gave a feeble smile. “Takuya…I’m sorry. I never wanted to hurt you.”
Takuya shook his head. “Dad don’t, save your strength…” He blinked back tears, as his father’s hand suddenly reached out to caress his cheek.
“Son...I just wanted you to know...You were never a bargaining chip for our family. Remember that…. You are my son and I’ll never regret having you.” Takuya ducked his head, his body shaking with suppressed sobs as his father’s hand went limp, falling to the ground.
“Damn it! Damn! Damn! Damn!” Takuya pushed his fist to the floor with each curse.
Rika’s ears fell back, sorrow overwhelming her. She felt Yuki’s wing brush against her and saw to her surprise, her twin fighting back her own tears. She felt Emi shifting on her back, her breathing falling into a rhythm. “She fell asleep.” Rika realized. “Tonight’s events must have been too much for her.” She worriedly wondered how much the toddler was able to comprehend of the situation. “I have to keep an eye on her.”
Takuya abruptly stood up, rushing over and grabbing Yuki’s wing much to the shock of both sisters. “Hey, can you fly while carrying a person?” He asked frantically.
“Ummm...I’m not quite sure.” Yuki answered, unnerved by how close he was to her. “This form is still new to me.”
“Yes or no!” Takuya demanded, squeezing her wing and making the harpy flinch.
Rika gave a low growl. “Takuya! That’s enough!”
Takuya released her, just as Yuki gave her sister a sharp glance. Rika’s lips curled slightly, just enough to show the tips of her fangs. “I know you’re upset but you need to control yourself!”
“There’s no time!” Takuya yelled, voice rising in panic. “I need to get home as soon as possible. If my father was a target, my mother and little sister could be next!”
“Then let’s go.” Rika replied, backing out the door. “I’ll take you.”
“Wait! You can’t go out like that!” Yuki exclaimed. “Think of the commotion a giant wolf running through the streets will cause.”
Rika turned to the nearest window, the lights from the tall buildings so vibrate compared to the dark countryside she was used to. It would be far too easy for someone to spot her on the streets. But maybe…. She glanced down at her paws, wondering if it would work. She was just as new to this body as Yuki was to hers. But the only way she would know is by trying.
“I’ll use the rooftops.” Rika declared determinedly, watching Takuya who seemed hesitant with the plan.
“Do you think you can manage jumping that far with your shoulder?” He asked, resting a hand on her neck.
Rika nodded, trying to stay confident. “Let’s do it!” She turned to her sister, with apologetic eyes. “Do you mind watching Emi a little bit longer?”
“It’s not like I could really stop you.” Yuki answered, crossing her wings. Despite the answer, Rika could hear the warmth in her twin’s tone.
Takuya took a step out of the office. “Rika, are you able to tell if the mice or Haruto are still in the building?”
Rika sniffed the air, trying to detect any enemies. Yuki interjected. “The mice should be gone. I took control of their leader, so they should be heading back to where they came from.”
Rika nodded at Takuya. “She’s right. I don’t smell or hear them anywhere in the building. I’m not so sure about Haruto though. His scent is mixed with the other human so it’s a little more tricky to pick up on.”
“As long as those mice are gone, we can go.” Takuya said, lifting himself up on the wolf’s back. “I doubt Haruto will cause harm to anyone in the station not connected to us.”
Rika turned her head to face Yuki. “Head outside with Emi. We’ll meet up after we check on his family.”
“There’s a park next to my house.” Takuya said. “We can meet up there. I’ll send you the address.” Yuki nodded, clutching the sleeping child clumsily with her wings. “Let’s go!”
Rika pelted through the doors that lead to the stairwell and raced up the stairs. She felt her muscles pulsing with adrenaline, almost as if her body anticipated what was to come. Her tongue lolled out her mouth, as they finally made it to the roof of the station. A cool gust of wind pelted them, reminding Rika all too clearly of the enemy they left behind.
Takuya pointed towards a large building, whose neon brand name sign stuck out amongst the other businesses. “Head in that direction. Beyond that building is an older neighborhood. My family’s residence is over there. Do you think you can handle it?”
“Watch me!” Rika growled, claws digging into the roof as she made a running start. She felt Takuya tightened his grip, his fingers digging into her fur. “Don’t worry, Takuya.” She hunched her shoulders, her paws pushing off the edge of the building as she jumped. “I won’t let you down!”
Time slowed down as her body soared through the air, the wind whipping her fur. The stars and moon hung in the background, almost as if they were watching over her. It was a wonderful feeling, almost as if she was now part of the night sky.
Her feet thudded down on the opposite rooftop, breaking the illusion. She heard Takuya let out a relieved sight. “You okay up there?”
“Just hurry! Don’t worry about me.”
Wordlessly Rika continued to roof hop, gaining speed as she became more comfortable with the jumps. Takuya kept his body crouched close to hers, shielding himself from the cold winds. She could feel his heart beating faster and faster as they neared his neighborhood. “Please, let his family be safe.” Rika prayed.
But as she landed in the deserted street outside of the Yamamoto’s Japanese styled home, the first scent that reached her nostrils was the smell of blood. Before she could say anything, Takuya jumped off her back and ran through the wooden gate. “Takuya wait!” She called, but he had already disappeared into the house.
“There’s no way I can fit into the entryway like this.” Rika stuck her head over the fence. “Even the courtyard is pretty tiny.” She could change forms, but if there was something dangerous still in the house, she needed to be ready. Cautiously, she crawled through the gateway, her belly scraping the ground. Shaking herself, she peered through the nearest window. The common room seemed deserted, with the lights out and the television turned off. She could hear the creaking of someone climbing up wooden steps. Carefully, she sat back on her back legs and peered through the upstairs window. Her eyes widened in horror.
Blood was everywhere. It covered the bed and stained the walls, forming the crude words of “Only One God”. The body of a small petite woman, laid across the floor, her abdomen split open as if a sharp sword had sliced right through her. Her eyes were still open, lifelessly staring at Rika through the window. She clenched her fangs, fighting back a wail.
Suddenly, the door to the room flew open and Rika found herself facing Takuya, his own look of horror matching hers. His eyes gazed upon the destruction of the room, falling on the body of the woman who raised him. Slowly, as if in a daze, he walked over to her, crouching onto the blood soaked floor.
“Mom?” He whispered, brushing a strand of hair from her face. Silence answered his call. “No…” Takuya gave a whispered plea, his hand wrapping around hers. “Please...don’t...be.” He couldn’t finish, his grief too great to bear. Rika felt her own heart shatter as she watched his walls break down, all his composure gone as he held onto the only mother he had ever known.
“I’m sorry.” Takuya apologized, his voice breaking. “I’m so sorry.” He pulled his hand away, pulling with it a silver heart shaped locket that had been stuck in his mother’s death grip. Even in the dark, Rika could see it had the same symbol that was encrusted around her ruby pendant. “It must be the symbol for Aphrodite.” Rika realized. She sadly wondered if his mother had been praying to the goddess up until the very end for protection.
The same thought must have crossed Takuya’s mind as well, for a look of pure rage overcame him. With shaking fists and an angry yell, he threw the piece of jewelry as hard as he could. It soared out the window, hitting Rika’s face.
She bit back a yelp as the necklace almost fell into her eye. It bounced off her forehead, the chain catching on her pointed ear. She lowered herself down, letting it fall to the ground. It landed on the rough stone of the courtyard, opening up with a soft click. Rika gazed down at it’s contents with a saddened heart.
“Oh Takuya…” She murmured tearfully, just as the front door opened. Takuya appeared, his white shirt covered in blood. He staggered out, his body swaying as if the effort of walking was too much to bear. Rika stood up as he paused in her shadow.
“Takuya?” Rika whispered kindly, lowering herself to his level. His head was lowered, his wavy hair shielding his face.
“She’s….gone.” He choked out before an anguished sob erupted from him. He fell forward, burrowing his head into Rika’s white mane as his tears fell. He screamed and screamed, his screams masked by her fur. She watched silently, her heart breaking with every tormented cry.
A bell chimed from somewhere inside the house, signaling the strike of midnight just as a mournful howl split the night sky.