Chapter 40:

Sought After For Salvation

X = Y

All the while, Rei was running away from the Tekafumo police department, with six officers and two police cars pursuing him. Avoiding people, swerving around them, and causing distress within the public, people were as appalled as they were terrified by the ensuing chase. Turning a street corner, Rei became confounded by the flames that burst from the factory, spewing embers that assaulted people on the streets.

Soul shattering screams reverberated from further downtown, insinuating fear and disseminating hysteria amongst the public. Standing there, dumbfounded by the exposure of fire, he turned around and regained composure, realising an opportune moment predominated. He heard their walkie-talkies go off, and he dashed away, using the oncoming mob as a guise for escape.

"Fire down in the abandoned factory. Get any civilians out of the way. All units nearby, over."

"We'll stay on him. You guys go get anyone in there to safety." the police officer originally from the hospital spoke commandingly.

"Yeah. He was assigned to us. Take the cars there with you too. We'll be on foot." the other officer said.

The two police cars pursuing Rei stopped near the police officers, picking them up as they entered the cars, driving off to the blaze that burnt, seemingly for eternity.

Having lost the police officers by running into the abyss: an alleyway and hiding behind a wheeled bin, Rei jumped out, surveying the streets. The endemic of fear, and paranoia diffusing through his muscles, caused them to twitch stiffly, irking Rei.

"Where can I hide? Do I just stay here?" Rei thought to himself. "The Eternal Ruler...was he the one who set that place on fire? If I go there, I may find him, but the police are going there too." Rei evaluated his position before shortly committing to a new plan.

Running the other way, intent on finding someone he recognised, Rei joined the mass of people flocking away from the fire. Weaving through them all, he inadvertently began running towards the outskirts of the city, not knowing the city layout nor who he could contact for assistance. Bereft of a phone, he used the skyscrapers and enormous buildings perceivable in the distance as anchors, guiding him towards the unexplored. Marking them in his mind, he sprinted extemporaneously from one to another, formulating an improvised plan within the scape of his mind.

In his car, driving perilously, accompanied by the sirens blasting from his car, Kei received a phone call. Distorted by the sounds of wind grazing his ears, aside from the rush of vehicles hurtling down the road, Kei heard the ring, answering the phone on loudspeaker.

"Hello? Detective Kei Hirojima, speaking." Kei answered formally.

"Kei! It's Shigeki! How far are you from the Tekafumo branch, and the hospital?" Shigeki exclaimed.

"I'm about half an hour away. I'm rushing down with my lights on." Kei answered.

"I found it! After searching for an hour and a half! There's this huge log of messages between Yasaburo and the Ruler. The thing that took the longest was decrypting the messages. Kanda decrypted some of them which saved me time. Long story short! Go to the outskirts of the city! There's a factory there used for power generation that went defunct. They talked about it being their meeting place in the evening." Shigeki exclaimed, his fingers individually acting on their own, slamming against the keys like a hammer against steel.

"The evening? I'll go check it out for clues. What's the address?" Kei asked.

"I'll give it to you. But beware. Our phones use Tatashi Industrial's network. They can probably hear this and see the message I'm sending you, and I made the call knowing they may. Be careful." Shigeki ended the call there.

"Yeah. I will." Kei responded.

"So Eien Shihaisha is there. But I need to find Rei too, otherwise, he's going to be imprisoned. What can I do in this situation?" Kei mused.

In his car, Osugitachi drove down the roads, with mass panic driving the people to safety, incessant and unabating. The herd mentality was prevalent, and even those with misconstrued recognition of the crowds ran without dawdling about the trivialities of thought.

Malaised from the austere and unyielding actions of Eien, Osugitachi drove sagaciously through the roads, ensuring the police were not pursuing him. The ripe feeling of apprehension, coupled with the sense of keen eyes glaring at him, noting his movement, produced a fickle cold sweat that became warm, fluctuating between two extremities. His phone began ringing, and the sudden vibrations seized his entire attention, suspending him for a brief moment. It startled him, breaking the engrossed element of concentration veiling him. He picked up the phone quickly, discerning the number.

"We found them. There at the old factory, at the power plant near the end of the city." the voice statically spoke.

"Is that all?" Osugitachi responded sternly.

"They're wiping us out of the Tatashi network. They got a hold of our location. These guys are insane, and they reverse traced the hacker gang. From what I can see through the messages and calls we intercepted, another group is coming for you." the voice said, breaking apart.

"Thank you for your services, after all this time. Those who rebel against my liege will feel the consequences burn like fire." Osugitachi said candidly.

"Working for you wasn't so-" the voice cut out abruptly.

"They got them...Everything's falling apart because of that kid we left that night...Kei Hirojima. And the other look-a-like I saw that night at the hotel apartment..." Osugitachi pondered.

His phone began ringing again, and he answered brazenly.

"Eien?" Osugitachi replied confusedly.

"Yeah! I'm running towards the other gangs! They're going against me, but I'll kill them all before they can." Eien exclaimed, running with the phone in his hands.

"Listen! I'll meet you at the factory where we meet at night. They're all there. The rebellious gangs that want to kill you. Wait for me. Where are you?" Osugitachi asked.

"Me?" Eien replied, looking up.

Eien passed the last skyscraper before reaching a vast, deserted area, where eroding establishments and abandoned facilities stood. Peering around, he immediately noticed a skyscraper standing, robustly adorned with a blue hue and a plethora of glass layering the outside. The sun reflected off the glass, blinding him, burning an image onto his retina.

"I'm near a huge blue building, and I can see the factory in the distance. I'm heading there, Osugitachi. Get here quickly." Eien spoke forebodingly, hanging up curtly.

He pivoted on his feet, turning in the direction of the factory that he considered another residence.

"Then it's time for them..." Osugitachi thought, glaring at his phone once more.

Down the streets of Toshi City, Rei ran with haste and knew that mere afterthoughts or an insufficient amount of focus would be his downfall. Avidly keeping his senses acute, he could see the last of the skyscrapers, but his perception was deceitful. He was a considerable distance away but became disillusioned by the illustrious magnificence of clear blue skies. His lungs were pumps, rapidly delivering oxygen, and his heart was working overtime, causing his arteries to flex and the veins in his neck to pop fruitfully.

Audacious, his well-being was always plausible to trade for the goal he pursued, even if he ran towards infinity. The feeling that he was close, the images of triumph and the relief he would feel, was the motivation propelling him towards destiny.

On the same street, turning into another that lead deeper into the city, Kei took a glimpse at the road whilst driving.

"That can't be..." Kei thought to himself, staring into the distance.

Ahead, he became thunderstruck by the delineated figure perfectly resembling his brother, matching the clothes he wore. Peering shrewdly, Kei kicked his brain into a higher gear, intuitively turning the car around and performing a U-turn efficiently. Streamlining down the road in his car and lowering the window next to him, Kei examined the figure, as its focus was stalwart and robust.

"Rei! Hey!" Kei exclaimed, his eyes switching between the road and Rei.

Surprised by the sound of a voice semblable to his own, Rei turned his head, and his pupils widened. Expressing relief, he ceased running and pivoted to face the car. Kei stopped on the side of the baren road, devoid of cars.

"Kei! The police are after me. I need to get out of here." Rei exclaimed.

"Get in. The Superintendent told me about the call. The network for the police is down. I'll get you out of this, but we have things to do. I know where Eien Shihaisha is going." Kei said.

Rei quickly ran around the front of the car, opening the passenger seat and sitting down.

"Really?! Go there then. Tell me everything that happened while I was asleep." Rei said, taking his seatbelt and snapping it into the buckle.

Walking desolately, Osugitachi and Eien arrived at the factory. Walking slower and slower towards their destination, walking and walking. The roads were barren, but something mysterious happened. Exemplifying the end of the world, like Ragnarok bringing havoc and devastation, the epitome of a new era was soon approaching. Gangsters began appearing on the streets following behind Osugitachi. The Eternal Ruler and his eternal fist proved fearful.

Blacked out cars began parking on the sides, gangsters wearing suits bare-fist were walking beside them. An amalgam of terror was marching down towards the factory. Along with an impregnable force and his general, they would soon meet with another gang.

Inside the factory, a horde of gangsters was waiting, ready for the moment where the Eternal Ruler would suffer and feel anguish they had all these years since serving him. An all-out battle ensued, and Eien ploughed through all of them, punching and kicking those who stood before him, reprimanding them for their betrayal. His strength served as a testament to why he was crowned the Eternal Ruler. There were still many gangsters left, and Eien abandoned them, entering the underground sector that had his throne.

Sprinting into the throne room, a man sitting there, his legs crossed and his cheek resting against his arm, smiled cruelly.

Despair inundated Eien's entire mind. His eyes broadened, and he expressed horror as dread seeped through his very existence. His heart began beating faster than lightning, and it became strenuous on his ribs to contain, crackling under immense pressure. The thumping sound emanated through his body, rushing into his ears, making it unbearable to hear.

His consciousness was struggling to remain intact as that sound was producing cracks, splitting it asunder. He was sweating profusely. The terror he experienced became more prominent and potent with each drop, formulating and trickling down his back. The back of his throat felt vacuous, and he felt a crippling sensation within his chest. The cavity created by his ribcage, protecting his organs, was set alight.

"Hey..." Eien mumbled, fright filling his eyes, rising to the top.

Iroha Hasaka. The woman who took in Eien when he was alone was crying, tears rolling down her face. She smiled, staring brightly at Eien, her mouth puckered. She was held at gunpoint by another gangster standing beside her.

"So...Eternal Ruler! How do you like it now!" the boss spoke irreverently.

"Eien...are these the people that were after you?" Iroha said, smiling kindly yet crying, reassuring Eien.

"NO! DON'T DO ANYTHING TO HER..." Eien screamed, expressing shock.

"You can't do anything now! The Eternal Ruler! You do exist!" the boss exclaimed, laughing hysterically. "Any last words?!"

"NO! DON'T!" he exclaimed, suppressing his fear, expressing anger.

"No!" the boss exclaimed.

A moment passed, and nothing happened, but then the bonds of destiny unravelled, tieing them all together.

"Shoot." the boss said slowly.

Eien's eyes fixated on his lips, and then he looked at Iroha in despair. She was smiling and crying, and her mouth moved once more, spelling out her final message.

"I love you...Eien..."

The world froze. A loud gunshot sound pierced his ears, reverberating for a seeming eternity. Blood flew outwards, and Eien felt pure unadulterated sorrow. Grief and anguish erupted from his heart and crushed it entirely. The memories of her, and the love he showed, were obliterated at that moment. They all flashed in front of him and made their presence known, breaking his mind.

Iroha fell over slowly, her tears flying through the air and her smile stuck on her face. Her hair flung out, covering her face. She lay there. Still. Eternal.

"NO YOU FOOL!" the boss exclaimed, now enveloped in terror.

Another gangster appeared from behind the metallic throne, pointing his gun at Eien.

"That signal wasn't for you!" he exclaimed.

Immersed in his perpetual anger, Eien ran up to the gangster behind the throne, grabbing his arm before he could react and crushing his wrist. The gun fell from his hand, and Eien looked down at the boss, activating his Eternal Rule. The other gangster shot, standing beside Iroha's body, but Eien moved out of the way as the bullet pierced the boss's heart, killing him instantly. Eien glared at the gangster ahead and grasped his collar, throwing him at the gangster who shot, colliding and falling over.

He ran to the gangster he threw and threw him against the wall, banging his head and incapacitating him. To the gangster on the floor, he stomped on his head multiple times, killing him. In an utter rage, Eien grabbed the dead boss on the throne and threw him away. His limp body collided with the wall. Lifting the heavy iron throne, he hurled it at the gangster, crushing his body, blood splattering everywhere.

Descending into his sorrow once more, Eien slowly walked towards the body of Iroha Hasaka. He sat down, crossing his legs, gazing with his head down. Now realising that Iroha Hasaka, the person, who he loved but could show no love to, was dead.