Wings of Unity
I found myself in the same green fields I was before with Itsuko, surrounded by a giant forest with a few cherry blossom trees – except this time, the sky was dark and there were storm clouds above.
I could hear the sound of thunder rapidly approaching from a distance.
“To believe that the guardian of Danketsu continues to be nothing but a cunning, idiotic brat such as yourself is a disappointment,” a deep voice said to me.
I turned around and found a man in crimson-red samurai armor. Scars littered his face and he walked towards me, stroking his long, black beard.
“Wh-who are you?” I asked. “Where am I?”
“Fool. Is my voice not recognizable?” he asked. “Itsuko-chan, remind this fool of who I am.”
I heard a sharp gasp for air near me and I looked over, seeing Itsuko appear out of blue light.
She coughed and fell to the ground onto her knees, clutching her chest as she struggled to breathe.
“Ki-Kitaru-dono…” she slowly brought herself up and shook her head, before looking at her hands in wonder. “We’re inside of the Leviathan’s being…”
“Utter fool,” the man in crimson-red armor spoke. “You believe that the Harvesters are some type of undead species?” He laughed. “No. Be afraid. They are more than what you believe. Majutsu is more than what you know.”
“Shichirōji Yokumoto…” Itsuko gritted her teeth. “Kitaru-dono, that’s him. I never believed that even after my death I would face my killer once more…”
“And yet here we are,” Shichirōji heavily chuckled as his eyes turned red and he drew a katana. “Are you ready to die once again, Itsuko-chan? This time, I won’t be making the same mistake of stabbing you with Danketsu – I’ll send your soul into eternal oblivion.” His voice had fused with the voice of the Leviathan, sounding demonic in its tone.
“Kitaru-dono, if I die here, my soul will be forever damned. I will no longer reside within Danketsu,” Itsuko stated with a grave look on her face.
“Itsuko-san,” I narrowed my eyes at Shichirōji. “I won’t let that happen.”
“You’re dying in the real world, Kitaru-dono,” Itsuko said to me. “You need more energy if you’re going to cast Unity’s Reach.”
“But… But how? How do I get more energy?” I asked her.
She looked at Shichirōji then turned to face me and whispered sharply. “You must kill this entity of Shichirōji Yokumoto if you are looking to regain your energy, and for us to escape from here.”
“Ah, jeez…” I shook my head. “You know, Itsuko-san, if I never snuck into the Divine Weapon room, I wouldn’t be in this predicament right now.”
“Then everything would be lost. Take this as a sign of fate, Kitaru-dono.”
I looked at her and nodded. “Will you be with me?”
She drew a katana and gripped onto it tightly. “As much as I can.”
“Then, let’s go!” I shouted.
The two of us charged at Shichirōji and I fired majutsu blasts from my free hand, which the former deflected with ease as he slowly walked towards us.
“Majutsu won’t save you here, boy,” he grinned.
We reached close enough where I lunged at Shichirōji and Itsuko jumped into the air for an attack from above. Shichirōji summoned a second katana and blocked both of our attacks, sending sparks flying into the air from the clash of our katanas.
I gritted my teeth and pulled Danketsu away, before going in for a quick slash at Shichirōji – which he blocked instantly. Itsuko and I took turns swinging our katanas at Shichirōji, locked into a block with every attack we made.
After what seemed to be seconds of every failed attack, Itsuko slid under Shichirōji’s feet and came out from behind him, kicking him in the back and sending him towards me, allowing myself to stab him with Danketsu.
He groaned in pain and Itsuko stabbed him from the back with her own katana.
Well… that was easy!
Shichirōji’s face turned from that of pain to a sinister grin. His katanas vanished from thin air and the skies above us began to boom with thunder. Rain started to pour down from above and he grabbed onto our katanas with his hands, slowly sliding them out from where he was stabbed.
Wh-what? There’s no blood…
“Did you really believe that I would have made it that easy?”
“Ye-yes!” I stammered.
“Fool!” He shouted.
A sudden burst of air that came from his feet sent Itsuko and I flying in separate directions.
“Gah!” I shouted as I landed on my feet, seeing Itsuko on the other side of the field. “Itsuko-san!”
“Now, now, the fun is just about to begin,” Shichirōji’s katanas appeared back into his hands. “There are two of you, yet only one of me. Does that not seem a bit unfair?”
“Damn you! There’s no such thing as fairness when you’re out here trying to kill all of us!” I said.
“Hmm. Oh, Hanzō-san, Mitsu-san. Help me clean up this mess.”
Next to Shichirōji, two spirits appeared. One of them was a woman dressed in samurai armor, wielding a matchlock. The other was a man dressed in ninja garments. The two of them appeared to be bloodied, with their eyes being pitch black.
“Hunh…” the two of them moaned in unison.
“Ha-Hanzō-dono… Mi-Mitsu-dono…” Itsuko said as her eyes began forming with tears. “I-I’m…”
“Itsuko-san, he’s just playing with your mind!” I shouted to her, but Itsuko appeared to be frozen with fear. “Damn it, Itsuko-san! They’re not really who you think they are!”
“It’s no use, mortal. Her mistakes in her past life haunt her, and it is finally about time it has caught up to her. Seismic Dome,” Shichirōji said and the ground began to shake. “However, you and I have our own business to attend to.”
Red, see-through walls formed, trapping me with Shichirōji. I watched as Itsuko was trapped on the other side of the fields with the spirits of Hanzō and Mitsu.
Itsuko shook her head, raising her katana in defense against Hanzō and Mitsu. “I’ll be fine, Kitaru-dono! They’re… They’re not real…”
“Tragic, your deaths here will be all but a replay of Itsuko-chan’s death before, except hers will be at the hands of her comrades.”
“You won’t kill us here… not while I have Danketsu with me!” I said.
“… Then I will pry it off your dead hands.”
“Gah!” I charged at Shichirōji with Danketsu.
Our katanas collided and we engaged in a duel where we took turns in attacking one another and blocking said attacks.
It ended once Shichirōji used his strength to slide Danketsu out of my grip, where he used his free hand to punch me across the face to send me stumbling backwards.
I felt my face begin to bruise up and I shook it off, charging at Shichirōji once more.
“Hachiman’s Armor!” I shouted and an overcast of blue armor appeared over my own, giving me an extra defense to combat the entity.
“Things haven’t changed at all since I was last alive,” Shichirōji said as he swung his katana at me, which I dodged in a quick fashion. “Those who hold the most powerful Divine Weapon known to man… still don’t know how to utilize it to their own strength! You. Are. WEAK!”
“Why!?” I shouted as I deflected another attack. “Why are the Harvesters so interested in annihilating us!?”
“Your kind is the only kind who have proved defiant to the Harvesters mission,” Shichirōji gritted his teeth. “I’m simply a humble servant who has seen that even before when I was still alive! The Harvesters are humanity’s salvation… you prove to ignore that!”
“Salvation!?” I screamed. “They’ve destroyed more than half the planet, turning the rest of us into mindless corpses mutated at their own will!” I lunged at him with Danketsu. “They’re not our salvation… They’re our extinction…”
“And so it must be, for the universe to continue its course,” Shichirōji smiled and blocked my attack. “Once I kill you, humanity will ascend to a life beyond death! A life that is created by the will of the Harvesters.”
“I won’t let that happen…” I asserted.
“Enough talk. Forsaken Cross.”
His arms were enveloped by a red fire and my eyes widened. Shichirōji pushed me back with his katana and he continued to attack, which I began to block as fast as I could. His attacks grew faster with each passing second and my armor made of majutsu began to crack with every successful attack he landed on me.
“G-gah! ITSUKO-SAN!” I shouted.
“Kitaru-dono!” Itsuko said as she pushed Mitsu and Hanzō off of her, running to the red wall and began trying to break through it, to no avail. “NO!”
My armor shattered, leaving me defenseless and as I tried to swing Danketsu at Shichirōji, I felt a pierce in my side.
“Ug-ugh...” I mumbled as I felt blood begin to drip down from my mouth.
I dropped Danketsu to the ground and fell onto the grass, seeing a puddle of blood beginning to form underneath me.
I looked over at Itsuko and saw her stabbed in the back by Hanzō and Mitsu, letting out a scream as she fell to the floor. The red walls vanished and I watched her prop her elbows up, showing she was still alive.
I tried to reach for Danketsu and before I could grab it, Shichirōji picked it up from the ground, gazing at the Divine Weapon.
“‘They who hold together as one, endure’. Funny how centuries later, it’s another failure,” he said with an evil grin upon his face.
“Kitaru-dono…” Itsuko muttered as she slowly tried to crawl over to me. Hanzō and Mitsu stood over her, refraining themselves from finishing her.
“Itsuko…” I whispered as I reached my hand out to her. My vision grew blurry and I exhaled, turning over onto my back and staring at the rain that poured down from above. The rain suddenly stopped and the clouds above began to drift away, showing the blue skies behind it. I saw a white owl soar by. “Mo-mom…?”
“You aren’t finished yet, my sweet Kitaru,” I heard my mother’s voice say.
I saw the white owl dive down towards me, striking Shichirōji across the face before he could hit me with the final blow. Shichirōji winced at the pain and dropped Danketsu to the ground, focusing on the white owl.
I grabbed Danketsu and felt a resurgence of power in my veins. My eyes lit up and I hovered above the ground, striking Shichirōji through the back. He gasped for air and I leaned in close.
“You’re finished,” I gritted my teeth in anger as I shoved Danketsu deeper into his back.
“Hmph… Well played…” Shichirōji uttered as he fell to his knees and shattered into multiple crystal fragments.
I looked over at Hanzō and Mitsu, watching them shatter as well.
Itsuko and I shared a look with one another before exchanging a nod.
I closed my eyes and fell into darkness.
I opened my eyes and found myself staring back at the Leviathan, who stood there in all its monstrosity. But it was as if it was asleep, as it was doing nothing but staring back at me with blank eyes.
I touched my face and felt the bruise from Shichirōji’s punch and touched the side of my stomach. I brought my hand up and saw blood on my hand.
So it was real…
The next thing I knew, the Leviathan’s eyes turned red and fire shot out from all over its body.
“MORTAL! I WILL HAVE YOUR HEAD!” its demonic scream sent chills all over my body. “You never should have made it out of there alive…”
“And here I stand!” I shouted back. “Your plan? Whatever the hell your Harvesters plan to do? You’re going to get nowhere. YOU HEAR ME!? NOWHERE!”
“Your soul will be mine. You dare defy me, mere mortal?”
“You’re nothing but a beast!” I shouted. “You sought out to destroy the Haven? Well, I’m going to stop you!”
“Hmph. You may be the one who is powerful enough to face me… Your weakened allies are not,” it said before it breathed out fireballs into the sky.
I braced myself for the incoming attack but it flew past me. I turned around and saw the fireballs descending – heading straight for everyone else on the ground. My eyes widened and the Leviathan struck a few buildings with its claws, sending rocks towards them as well.
“NO!” I screamed.
“Let us witness if they’ll be able to block all of that.”
I watched helplessly as the rocks and fireballs joined together as one gigantic attack. They collided with the shields of the Black Wolves, but I watched as there was one enormous explosion that sent the ground shaking beneath me.
“YUSA! SENSEI! BLUE TEAM! NOOO!” I wildly screamed.
“Sen-sensei!? Akiyama-san!? Sasaki-san!? YUSA!? ANYONE!?” I shouted into the radio.
I could hear nothing but static over the radio. I panted and I could feel my eyes begin to well up with tears.
No… it can’t be. They can’t be gone… This beast. This undead pile of trash. He killed them.
“You… You sick bastard… I’ll KILL YOU! I WILL KILL YOU!” I screamed.
“Mind your tongue, boy. Just because you possess the power of the so-called ‘ultimate Divine Weapon’, it doesn’t ensure that your fate won’t be changed!” the Leviathan’s eyes glowed bright red. “YOU… WILL… PERISH!”
“No… You’re going to perish…” I whispered. “AGH!!!”
I ran up the long, scaly arm of the Leviathan, digging Danketsu into its thick skin while I ran that left behind a trail of cuts into the Leviathan. It growled in pain as I ran before it used its claws to slap its shoulder, sending a wave of air that pushed me back to the rooftop, finding myself on my back.
“You may have defeated an apparition, but you will not succeed here. You will die today. Accept fate and join your comrades.”
There’s no way they’re dead. They… They have hope for me! They’re still alive, they have to be!
I stood up and thought about those who died today, those who sacrificed their lives to get everyone else to where we are today. Then, my mind shifted to those that were still alive, holding their hopes high for me.
The Void Clearers…
The Blue Team…
I’m going to do this for all of you.
I felt my veins flow with majutsu and I glared at the Leviathan.
“UNITY’S REACH!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
It was as if I lost control of my body. I felt myself slowly float into the air and my arms sprung out. Blue flames poured from my heart to the rest of my body and I looked up, seeing the skies above me.
My vision extended past the skies and into space, where I could see the stars begin to line up together, and for a brief moment, the planets aligned.
I leveled my head and faced the Leviathan, who fired fireballs at me. I slowly hovered towards the Leviathan, seeing the fireballs explode on top of me, but I wasn’t harmed. The Leviathan tried again to blow me away and swipe its giant claws at me, but I used Danketsu to cut its hand off of its arm.
“IMPOSSIBLE!” the Leviathan’s voice had turned into that of a desperate one.
As I finally reached the Leviathan, a few feet apart from it – I dived Danketsu into where its heart would be – hearing the Leviathan screams of pain echo in my ears.
“It ends here,” I declared.
I could see the power of Danketsu slowly transcend through the Leviathan’s veins.
“SHICHIRŌJI! RAAAAAAGGGGHHHH!!!” The Leviathan roared as its mouth and eyes became enveloped in Danketsu’s shining blue light.
I pushed Danketsu deeper, finding myself screaming wildly as I did so. I felt myself lose control of my body, feeling emptiness and numbness as I screamed.
“I… I… I need more power! ITSUKO!” I screamed.
“I’M WITH YOU, KITARU-DONO!” I heard her voice shout and saw a blue figment of Itsuko appear next to me. A katana appeared and she drove it into the heart of the Leviathan, where I saw a red figment of Shichirōji appear.
“YOU SIMPLE-MINDED FOOLS!” Shichirōji shouted as he created a burst of majutsu that sent Itsuko and I away from the Leviathan.
I took deep breaths and held Danketsu tightly as Itsuko and I floated in the air side-by-side. I looked at her and I felt my mind begin to go blank, with only one thing on my mind – to kill the Leviathan.
“Itsuko…” I voiced to her. I saw blood drip onto my armor, coming from my nose. I tasted blood in my mouth and wiped it away with my armored sleeve.
“We have one chance, Kitaru-dono,” she nodded.
I returned the nod and we braced ourselves.
“UNITY’S REACH!” We shouted in unison, and I lost control of my body.
We soared through the sky towards the Leviathan’s heart, where Shichirōji and the Leviathan held their positions firmly. The Leviathan shot fireballs from its mouth towards us, which we dodged and cut into pieces in a swift fashion.
“THIS IS FOR THE FURIOUS FIVE!” Itsuko screamed.
“WE BRING LIGHT!” I screamed.
We dug our katanas into the heart of the Leviathan, and I watched as Danketsu’s energy coursed through its veins, lighting it blue. The Leviathan screeched and shot fireballs into the skies in agony.
Itsuko and I screamed as we pushed as hard as possible, seeing the energy of Danketsu reach the Leviathan’s eyes, turning its red eyes into blue. Beams of energy shot out from the Leviathan as it looked down at us – with Shichirōji’s figment beginning to crack.
“You…” the demonic voice of the Leviathan began to fade away, along with Shichirōji’s figment.
I became enveloped in the glowing light before there was an explosion of beams. The Leviathan before me had exploded into the same black flakes that summoned it before.
That’s when I felt the majutsu power escape from my body. I felt nothing but the air as I began descending to the ground – alone, as Itsuko was no longer with me.
I… I can’t move…
I couldn’t move a muscle.
Was this it?
I could only watch as I fell through the air.
“Kilo 9-1… Pickup… Now!” what seemed to be Yusa’s voice over the radio.
Tachibana-san… We did it…
My eyesight grew blurrier and I could feel myself losing even more consciousness.
“We’re here! Let… Let’s go!” Kilo 9-1’s voice said.
I heard the sound of engines as I continued to fall, feeling the wind push even harder against me. The sound of the engines grew closer to me, it was as if it was right there next to me as I fell.
The black flakes of the destroyed Leviathan fell to the ground with me and I couldn’t move a muscle at all. It was as if I was stuck falling.
“Ozaki, hang… There!” Yusa’s voice began to become distorted in my ears.
I began to see the faces of the Blue Team in my vision, smiling at me.
I knew you were all okay. I’m sorry, everyone.
Then, Yusa’s shining golden-yellow eyes and flowing silver hair appeared.
Tachibana-san… What was it you were going to tell me?
A white owl flew past me and I felt myself smile as my eyes began to close.
I’m glad to… Have met you all…
“Get… Now!” Kilo 9-1’s garbled voice said.
I felt a pair of arms grab onto me tightly and pulled me closer to them. That’s when my eyes finally shut – seeing nothing but pitch black.
“Ozaki…” Yusa’s voice whispered to me. “I’ve got you… I have your back.”
My eyes opened and I saw Yusa’s face hovering over me.
Her dirtied, but flowing silver hair.
Her tired golden-yellow eyes, worried written all over them, but they still shined to me.
“You’re alive,” she simply said with a smile, and I noticed that her face had a few tears rolling down her cheeks.
“I… I’m alive…” I said to her, “You guys… are alive too…”
“His vitals are returning to normal,” I heard Sayaka’s voice say, followed by the sound of a light beep. “Your body definitely took a beating, senpai. You’re going to need some rest.”
I brought myself to sit up, feeling numbness all over my body from my injuries. I found the Blue Team all standing around me and past them, Troopers were around – either helping the injured or finding the time to rest.
“Aheh!” I looked at Ayano to see her wipe her eyes. “We definitely thought you were gone there, senpai! And for us? There’s no way we’d go out that easily! Zenko-sensei and the Storm Ravens used as much majutsu as they could to destroy the boulders as soon as they got close enough. Even Yukino here did some damage!”
That explains the explosion… You guys did it.
“Ye-yeah…” Yukino sniffled, her gray eyes filled with tears.
“I, for one,” Tatsuharu muttered as he covered his eyes. “Did… Did…”
Out of nowhere, Tatsuharu began to bawl. I looked as Mika patted his back slowly.
“We don’t know what we would’ve done if you were gone, senpai. It’s a relief that you’re alive,” Mika smiled, her own tears in her eyes.
“It’s good to have you back, sir,” Nobu nodded as he wiped his eyes.
“It wasn’t your time,” Erika said, her face blank.
Shadow nodded in agreement.
“Back from the dead!” Tomoko’s voice cheered, her face littered with teardrops rolling down her cheek.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I laughed.
“Uh… Well…” Sayaka nervously smiled. “You were dead.”
“WHAT!?” I screamed.
“For three minutes and twenty-eight seconds,” she added.
“Well…” I mumbled as I rubbed the back of my head. “That explains the tears… There was a chance I would have died.”
“You did, technically, idiot,” Yusa smiled.
We did it, Itusko…
“We’re all alive, thanks to you, senpai,” Yukino said. “You saved us.”
“No… You’re alive because you all did your best,” I corrected with a smile. “We faced the odds and won.”
“Might as well send us straight to the Void!” Ayano exclaimed.
“Be careful what you wish for,” I heard the voice of Zenko say. I turned my head and saw him walking towards us, along with the Void Clearers and Sergeant Eizo.
“You kicked ass out there, kid,” Sergeant Eizo said. “More than what all of my tanks combined did!”
“Well, I’ll be damned, he’s alive,” Ren said before turning to Kenta. “That’ll be four-hundred credits.”
“I have no idea why I always gamble against you,” Kenta grumbled. “I should never base my odds on statistics.”
“You… You betted that Kitaru-senpai was going to be dead?” Mika asked, her face filled with confused anger.
“On if he would stay dead,” Sergeant Tomasu said as he held his hand out to Kenta. “Pay up, naysayer.”
“Well, that’s a bit rude…” Sayaka said.
“I knew that medallion would bring you luck, Kitaru,” Sergeant Tomasu said to me.
“Sensei,” I looked at Zenko. “What’s going to happen now?”
“The Void Clearers are going to stay. We’re going to help with the cleanup,” Zenko said to me. “We’ll see you soon, Kitaru.”
“Cleanup?” I asked.
“This is Orbital Defense Platform Ten, we’re deploying Rescue Troopers and Low-Orbit Shock Troopers via drop pods for relief assistance, standby for reinforcements,” a voice spoke over the radio.
I looked up into the sky and saw dozens of drop pods descending from the skies, heading to areas all over Urasaki. One landed near us and I watched as Troopers in white armor poured out, red cross symbols on their armor. They began to administer first aid to the wounded and took over for our medics.
“Kilo 9-1 will take you to Oshiro. We’ll rendezvous there. Get some rest, all of you,” Zenko said before he and the other Void Clearers walked away.
“Did Zenko-sensei just say Oshiro?” Ayano asked. “As in, the Oshiro?”
“Don’t think I’ve ever heard about it,” Mika commented.
“Ah, it’s beautiful! It’s a huge sphere-shaped ship the size of a city!” Sayaka exclaimed.
“TREATS! FINALLY!” Tomoko screamed at the top of her lungs.
“Ah, technologically speaking, it’s the Oshiro-Class Carrier Hub, outfitted as a docking and refueling station for the entire ASC fleet,” Tatsuharu corrected as he pushed his glasses up. “It’s so large, there’s an actual city inside of it, along with an academy.”
“Soramoto Academy…” Nobu pounded his fists together. “Cocky, self-absorbed, and conceited bastards! They get the state of the art weaponry to train with!”
“And from what I’ve heard, they’re the most distinguished academy in all of the Haven,” Yukino awed. “Their cadets with majutsu capabilities are well-respected for their powers.”
“Oshiro’s shopping district has a store for melee weaponry,” Erika added. “My first objective is to see what they have to offer. Care to join me, Shadow?”
“Might as well hang out with you guys longer,” Morita said as she stretched. “I wouldn’t mind getting a new Frame while we’re there.”
I looked up and saw Kilo 9-1 land a short distance ahead of us.
“Let’s get out of here, Ozaki,” Yusa whispered to me as she helped me up to my feet.
I began to walk with a small limp towards where Kilo 9-1 was waiting for us.
The Blue Team walked ahead towards the Crane, all of them smiling and letting out their sighs of relief that it was now over.
They walked ahead of me and I found myself beginning to stumble.
“Don’t push yourself,” Yusa said with a small smile as she held onto me to support me while I walked.
“Ho-how are you doing, Tachibana-san?” I asked her. “You said to me… that you wanted to tell me something? Right before I took off to fight the Leviathan.”
Her face turned a bright red and she paused for a moment. “I-it’s… It’s… It’s no-nothing important, Ozaki!” she looked away from me. “I was just going… to tell you that… I-I… wanted you to be safe!”
“Ehhh?” I raised a brow at her. “But you already told me that?”
“That was it, idiot!” she shouted.
“I’m glad you’re okay too, Tachibana-san,” I said to her with a smile. “If you weren’t here with me, I don’t know… but, you gave me a lot of hope.”
“And you gave the rest of us hope, Ozaki.”
“I definitely thought I was going to die,” I chuckled.
“Idiot, that’s not funny,” she frowned. “It wouldn’t have been worth it if you did.”
“If I died and I killed the Leviathan, saving you and everyone else would be worth it, Tachibana-san,” I sighed and then looked at her. “Hey, do you like owls?”
She looked at me with confusion. “Random question… but to answer you, owls are my favorite animal. More specifically, the snowy owl.”
“With all white fur?” I asked.
Yusa nodded. “Why do you ask?”
The white owl… Mom…
“I was just curious, Tachibana-san,” I replied. I smiled at her, then began to laugh to myself.
“What’s so funny?” she asked.
“Ah, nothing, Tachibana-san…”
Yusa shook her head, but I could still see she was confused. “Idiot…”
Exactly, Tachibana-san… Exactly…
With the help of Yusa, I continued to stumble towards Kilo 9-1’s Crane.
“We can all get some rest now since this is over, Ozaki…” Yusa said to me.
I took a deep breath as I looked up at the blue, cloudless sky.
“I think this might just be the beginning, Tachibana-san.”
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