Chapter 11:

Approaching Death

White Parasite

"What do you want, senhors and senhora? I still don't know what's going on here!" Natalia screamed behind the duo. Her desperate clawing at the net slowed when she heard a series of gunshots, and judging by the onslaught of bullets and the last of the policemen leaving before her eyes, they weren't for her.

"All clear!" a brunette gunner declared from the top of a building on Natalia's right. For a moment she swore he was a skeleton from Finados (Day of the Dead) due to his prominent cheekbones and partially sunken eyes that made him meld into the cover of darkness.

The woman glanced back to where her opponents had been earlier, but what was left of them were misshapen pillars of bone, blood and sinew on one side, a puddle of shining silver liquid on the other.

Was it him who did that? Him, on the roof? She had moral standards when it came to slaying enemies, but certainly they were too high for even this...maniac.

Before she could continue hacking at the net with her sharp, manicured nails, she was hoisted into the air, involuntarily causing her to let out a yell.

"I do believe you're aware of the rift in dimensions created by a certain Genji Takeda?" the lifter - whose visible features could only tell Natalia this was a older teenage male of Asian descent - asked as he chucked her trapped body over one shoulder and climbed up a ladder leading up to the gunner, supporting his haul with his left hand. "He was investigating Luna when the magic-granting snowfalls started to appear, and since you were the first magician, you would be an ideal choice." Dumping her body with absolutely no grace, the teenager let her sit up before he crossed his legs and gazed into her eyes, as if he wanted her to spill all her secrets.

Minutes passed and the air became cooler, the sky darker. Pinpricks of light popped into existence in the darkening night. The woman began to shiver, and the teenager stripped himself of his black jumper (she noted he was a bit chubbier than the lean gunner). He was about to offer it to her, but then with one glance of the net, he put it back on.

"...I got my powers five years ago. There is no way I would still remember a man I met then," she turned her face away from his gaze and told him.

"Does this turtle remind you, then?" the gunner, a hunting rifle slung across his chest, slid forward an enclosure made of more rifles and removed the top ones to reveal the tortoise from earlier, who took this opportunity to spin out of the trappings it had gotten itself into.

"I told you, I'm a tortoise," it complained in a monotone while it flew with the momentum of its spinning...straight off the edge of the building roof.

"Shousuke!" she screamed, finally managing to make a hole in the net and conjuring an orb to save the reptile without thinking. When the tortoise got caught in it, she hauled it back to her with a relieved sigh, only to find the boys staring at her.

"So, you know the tortoise's name," the dark-haired boy plucked the struggling creature by the shell from the orb as he continued the conversation. "What do you know about his father, then?"

"I swore I'd never tell anyone about what I'd learnt of Master Takeda except Master Takeda himself," she smiled a secretive yet plantive smile at this. Vincent turned his gaze away when he realised the woman's English had improved markedly - she must have been using the Portuguese terms to disguise exactly how much English she knew. His gaze refocussed on her when she told them, "However, if I could bring his son back through the portal from which you came, maybe then I could tell you about him."

Down below, the mess made by Vincent with his guns had mysteriously disappeared. Both Luna and Christie walked out of the alleyway without a scratch.

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