Chapter 6:

Time to strike! - Realisation

Jet Black Rock

Back at the stairwell, Yami and Aurora open the door to the basement. It screeches as it’s old and hasn’t been maintained well. It’s one of those doors with a hydraulic pump, so it closes right after they enter. Aurora flips the light switch and some dim lights turn on. At first sight, the floor seems rather empty. Here and there are some shelves, pallets, and crates, but nothing in the ordinary. It seems like a regular storage facility.

As they continue to make their way through the stock, Yami is becoming uncertain. “You think the guard was speaking the truth, think she’s here?” Aurora replies that she’s pretty sure that the guard didn't lie, as his situation was too grim to take the risk.

They venture deeper and hear the door screeching again. Someone decided to follow them. “I’ll stay here and keep our backs, you just search for Akari.” Aurora says. Yami agrees and continues through the shelves, finding himself in a narrow corridor. There are marks left behind in the dust like something or someone was dragged along the floor. One of the shelves has fallen over and some of the boxes have been moved to the side as the dust in the same outline is gone in some places. Someone definitely came down here recently.

Following the marks in the dust, Yami ends up at a wall where they suddenly stop. He looks around but doesn’t see anything in particular. “Aurora? I think there’s a secret room here! Can you come and help me find the opening?” It’s quiet. “Aurora!?” He repeats. Tap tap tap tap. Someone’s steps echo through the corridor, and they’re coming closer. There’s a figure coming toward him, but Yami’s unable to make out who exactly it is. “Aurora?” Ge asks again more softly.

Walking through the dim lights, the figure comes into view. And with a soft energetic voice, she responds. “Close! It’s me, Ari!” It’s the woman wearing the police uniform they met earlier in the stairwell. “What did you do to Aurora?” Yami asks angrily while readying his fists. For someone who specializes in covert ops to be taken out silently, this woman is dangerous. “Sheeee’s fineeeee!”- She answers a little annoyed-” She’s just taking a nap.”

Assuming the worst, Yami throws a punch, extending his arm by quite a distance, but Ari is able to dodge. “Jeeez!” She goes as she unbuttons the pouch on her hip, taking out a pistol with an unusually long barrel. She dangles it in front of her, showing it to Yami. “See!? It’s a tranquilizer gun! She’s fine, honestly! She’s just busy having a beauty nap.”

Yami is cautious. “Then, what do you want from us? Are you not working for Kumoda, here to take us out?” “No, sweety! That guy is horrible, I would never team up with him. I told you earlier that I’m here to talk!” Yami lowers his fists “Okay fine, let’s say I believe you. What do you want to talk about that’s this important? I’m here to save my sister and I don’t have time for this. My friends are out there fighting and we’re wasting precious time!”

Ari holsters the pistol again. “You’re right, my apologies.” She says sincerely. “I should’ve considered your feelings more. Actually, the reason we met in the stairwell is that I found out about your sister and came to rescue her.” She starts walking towards the wall, passing Yami and showing her back to him. “We can talk about what I’m here for after she’s safe. Just promise that you’ll listen carefully.”

She caresses the wall, stopping on one of its stones. “There’s air escaping from the joints around this one.” She says as she presses it softly. The stone goes in and the wall opens just a little. Yami pushes it open further and a bright room is revealed. In the corner, there’s a girl with long black hair, sulking with her head behind her knees and her arms crossed.

Yami enters. “Akari?” The girl lifts up her head, she had been crying. “Brother!” She jumps up and hugs him. “I was so scared!” She says while crying. Yami puts his arms around her. “You’re safe now, we’re getting out of here.” They walk back out of the room and pass Ari, who was patiently waiting against the wall. “Thank you.” Yami says to her. Ari nods and follows them along the corridor.

On their way to the exit, they come across Aurora, who’s unharmed and quietly sleeping on top of some cardboard boxes. Yami picks her up gently and carries her in his arms. “Who’s the girl?” Akari asks a little jealous. “A good friend.” Yami confirms. At the stairwell, Yami’s communication mod stutters. Right, they have to report the success of the operation.

Yami calls in. “Sen! We have her! Akari’s okay!” “Yami!?”- Sen responds-” Oh thank god you’re safe! I was trying to reach you but no matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t get through! I thought the two of you were…”- She hesitates-” never mind! There’s trouble and Haiiro needs your support! They’re fighting someone at the auditorium on the ground floor, someone strong! He needs you there right no-” Yami interrupts.

“I-I can’t! Aurora is unconscious and I’ll have to get her and Akari out of here first! I can’t lose them again!” Ari intervenes. “If they’re fighting who I think they are, then they really do need your help right now. Otherwise, they won’t survive. If you want, I can bring your sister and your partner to safety. Just promise me that you won’t die yourself. We still have to talk after all.”

Yami’s unsure as he doesn’t fully trust Ari yet and he’s reluctant to part with any of them right now, yet he has no choice but to give in. “Fine”- He sighs and notifies Sen through comms-“ I’ll go back up Haiiro and Rocco right away. Meanwhile, a friend in a police uniform will escort Akari and Aurora to the van, you’ll get them out safely right?” “Of course!” Sen confirms.

Reaching the ground floor, Yami puts Aurora on Ari’s back and kisses Akari on the forehead. “I’ll be right behind you.” He says softly as he pats her head. He walks off to the auditorium and Akari watches him leave. Ari grabs her hand. “He’ll come back for you, don’t worry.” She says with a kind smile. “Hu!” Akari yells cheerfully while leaving with Ari.

Yami is nearing the auditorium. Bam! Crack! Rumble! Loud noises are coming from inside. Boooom! It’s as if someone is tearing the place down. Yami opens the door and through the rubble, sees Haiiro, exhausted and on one knee while leaning on his rifle. A little further in is Rocco, barely standing and covered in blood. In front of him, there’s a muscular figure with long blonde hair, standing tall and smiling.

The figure spots him and dashes forward immediately. He almost instantly covered the distance and is now in front of Yami. He strikes down one of his fists from above, but before Yami can react, Rocco had already intercepted him, bracing the attack with his arms crossed. A shockwave bursts out from the impact and Rocco crouches down a little, leaving cracks in the floor. “Careful kiddo! Don’t let your guard down” He says to Yami.

The giant smiles wide and widens his arms like a gladiator stirring up the public. “So this is Yami! The one who ate an entire stone and survived?” He puts his fist in front. “I can’t wait to see what you can do!” Bzzzmt! The giant tilts his head, dodging the beam that Haiiro tried to shoot him with. “I’m glad your friends were here to give me a warm welcome”- He says calmly-” but now they’re just getting annoying.”

His voice is becoming more and more annoyed as his mood changes and he walks toward some of the rubble. He grabs a big piece. It seems ponderous, yet he lifts it up without too much trouble. Since the size is massive, he can barely hold it, but with a single spin, he twirls it around his body and lobs it at Haiiro. “Incoming!” he yells tauntingly.

Several pieces are coming loose but most of it is still in one piece. Like mortar coming his way, death when hit seems certain. Yet Haiiro does not seem too concerned. While the rubble was being thrown, he had already changed the magazine of his railgun and took aim at the biggest piece. He had to, as his leg is hurt and he’d be unable to dodge everything in time. Bzooooom! An explosion destroys the incoming rubble and what was once like a boulder is now only like a few pebbles.

Haiiro had covered his weak points with his trench coat and came out okay besides a few scratches. Brrrrt! The railgun unwinds and the magazine pops out. It’s glowing orange, smoking and sizzling as Haiiro puts it down and puts his hand on his hip, patiently awaiting an opportunity.

“Ho?”- The giant goes-” Even though you’re exhausted and are clearly no match for me, you’re still going to take me on?”- He scuffs-” How entertaining!” He walks towards another piece of rubble and continues talking. “I commend your spirit and recognize you as a worthy opponent! As a warrior, I should follow the proper etiquette and introduce myself.”

Meanwhile, while the giant is occupied with his monologue, Rocco, who's unable to move after enduring that last strike, whispers to Yami. “As soon as he prepares to throw another volley, tackle him and give Haiiro an opening. He’ll be sure to follow up.” Yami looks at Haiiro, whose eyes are burning with resolve.

“My name is Grant, Zane Grant. I was born in Banff, a village in Canada. Just like you and the big guy behind me, I too am a vessel for Jet and have trained in it.” He clenches his fist and tightens the muscles in his lower arm. There’s a tiny bit of black damp coming from it. “Even though I only received a small dose, I spent months strengthening myself, reaching limits I first thought unimaginable.” Relaxing his muscles, he looks at Haiiro. “But that’s enough about me, let me hear about you as well.”

“Furukara Haiiro. I’m just a researcher helping out his friend, nothing more to it.” Zane waits for a little while expecting more, but Haiiro is done talking. “I see…”- He bends over to pick up a boulder-” it truly is unfortunate that we have met this way, but keeping you two alive would be troublesome. I just need the boy for now.” Zane lifts up another piece of rubble.

Yami sees his chance and dashes forward. As he tries to tackle Zane, his opponent notices the ambush and in return, generates a black fleshy wall on the side of the impact. It acts as some sort of armor, a cushion. And even though Yami had a running start and tried with all his might, Zane faltered only just a little. Zane had dropped the rubble and used it to balance himself.

Yami’s not giving up, screaming as he struggles. His arm is starting to turn black and a string-like substance is coming out. “H-Hey! Kid!” Zane is surprised by the sudden Jet activation and has to physically resist being pushed over. Some of the springs are penetrating Zane’s body, slithering under his skin. He starts slamming Yami’s back with his underarms in an attempt to be released from his hold, but Yami’s not letting go.

Haiiro sees the opening and unsheaths a thin sharp object from the side of his hip. It’s almost like a dart or maybe more like a tiny spear. Its metal is pitch black, yet there’s a red shine coming from the middle. There’s a liquid inside, flowing back and forth in the tube. With a smooth motion, he hurls it at Zane, who’s still trying to get Yami off him.

Zane is preoccupied and doesn’t see it coming. The dart hits him in the neck and the liquid that was inside is spewing out, disappearing inside of his body. Ah! “What’s this?!” Zane yells. The armor he had built up is slowly lessening in size. Haiiro responds. “That’s B469-E, an experimental drug that can suppress Jet for some time, usually it takes a few minutes but I see that it’s already taking effect?” “You bastard!”- Zane yells angrily-” And here I thought you’d fight me like a real warrior! You coward!”

Rocco grunts as he stands up and slowly starts walking toward Zane. “Hey, everything goes in a brawl! Besides!”- He points-” It’s you who picked a fight and now it’s over. Your time is up.” Hah! Zane laughs. “You say my time is up?! Far from it!” His arms are starting to darken. “You think you took away my time, but all you took was my mercy! As long as I can still feel Jet flowing through my veins, I can give it my all! The only thing I need to do is to take all of you out before the drug takes full effect!”

He gestures, inviting them to try him on. “Now come!”