Chapter 20:

Catch us if you can ( 1/2 )

Chaos' Game

A heap of shadows passed underneath the door of the Players' lure. In the living room, where everyone was gathered waiting in tension, it accumulated on the floor. Emerging from it, two human shapes released by darkness.

     Marnie was crouching together with Haru and as the other Player turned to face them, they slowly stood up.

“Bless it, you're both back!” Reisig exclaimed in relief.

“That is how close it was. It is merely thanks to Marnie if we were able to escape.”

     While Koff took a step closer, putting a hand on Haru's shoulder to great him with a grave nod, Woodle and Ling gazed at both, especially at Marnie. Learning that this young girl was none else but Merlish's daughter,… Brought countless questions in their minds. They weren't afraid of her, nor doubting. That was not in this way. The fact is they began to take consciousness of that the crime they suspected the mayor of from the beginning was only the tip of the iceberg.

     Taking back his hand, Koff wide-eyed stared at his fingers generously covered with blood.

“You're wounded Haru!”

“That's… nothing. Don't mind me.”

     The latter tried to smile to his concern, but he barely intended that he lurched, losing his balance. Koff hurried to support him, making him sit on the nearest chair, taking a look at the injury in his upper back.

“Haru!” Mekko exclaimed, getting closer.

“Don't overdo! You've taken a bullet.” Koff added.

     The little girl gazed terrified at the white-haired fellow, fearing for his state. Mekko cringed at the view of the blood flooding to the ground, before taking an inspiration. It was in a soothing voice that she began singing therefore, in a succession of melodic vocalizations.

     The moment after she did so, a slight golden light was emitted by Mekko, and the same appeared not long after upon Haru's wound. Within a while, he regained colours and the blood stopped dropping. His injury progressively withdrew, all thanks to her healing supernatural ability, The Song of the Phoenix.

“I'm sorry… If you hadn't to deal with me, you would be able to fight them back.”

     Bowing her sweet face, guilt weighed down her shoulders.

“Do not apologize. If I wished to I would have chosen to abandon you. Hence, you don't have any reproach to formulate.”


     Haru extended a hand towards her so that he patted her on top of her blond head.

“Moreover, as you can see, Mekko already cared of … this slight inconvenience.” he turned his head to face the latter with a slight smile. “Thank you, my fair lady.”

 “It was nothing… But try to care more about your own body next time, thanks!!” she abruptly replied.

     To what the young fellow addressed not but a quiet smile.

However Marnie was only mid-reassured. She didn't wish to be a source of problems. Was it Directly or indirectly. On top of that, she still had to deal with the truth about her mother identity, the madness in her gaze at her when she tried to strangulate her…


     In a serious tone, what was quite rare of him, the leader stared at the pretty lassie.

“Uhh… Yes?..” she clumsily spoke back, emerging from her grim thoughts.

“I will be straightforward. Do you still want to fight the mayor along with us?”

     His question was immediately followed by a determined gaze.

“There's no point in asking. After… What she said… I have a true reason to avenge from her, as all of you. She tried to kill me!”

     Even if Woodle seemed satisfied with how promptly the young girl replied, Ling instantly added a few sharp words.

“Will you be capable of this?”

“Ling…” Reisig protested.

     Albeit there was no need. For the first time since her arrival among the Players, Marnie turned a half-empty half-determined gaze at the leader's right hand.

“You believe I am unable of this?”

     They exchanged a long glare at each other, as if speaking without words. No other member of the group dared to interrupt that silent conversation.

      Finally, Ling squinted her eyes before closing them. A disturbing smile drew on her face while she slowly lifted an arm. Her hand flat, her fingers' moves seemed to caress the air.

“I suppose I can trust you for now. However, what will you do about Kiseki Idonosoko? You don't even know what he has to say about this.”

“I don't care either. He's not but a stranger to me.”

     To this rude statement, Silver Bullet couldn't restrain a loud laugh.

     Considering this a closed case, Woodle turned his attention to the instigator of the latest trap. Something interpellated him in his gaze.

“Haru, what are you thinking about?”

     The latter lifted his gaze, caught in the act.

“Well… Many things put me at question after what happened. Merlish's soul… Is more rotten than I even expected her to be. But among all, I wonder why she did not use her super ability.”

“Now that you point it out, I watched all the scene but indeed I did not behold her trying to use her ability of ice to escape Marnie's attacks. Is she rusty?”

     Though adding playfully his latest reflection, he also tried silently to figure out the true meaning of this. Or… Did they just overinterpret dull facts?


During the following days, the Players weren't high-profile. It was time to move up a notch, so that every one focused on preparing themselves for the harsh time to come. Woodle analyzed data he had gathered, experimented new gadgets. Ling trained herself together with Haru and Koff, Marnie spent a consequent amount of time apart, dealing with her inner thoughts, preparing herself for the forthcoming gauntlet. Meantime, Reisig enjoyed fresh beers. As for Mekko, well she decided to profit of the lull to chill out and assuage her thirst for manga and her appetite for pizzas, roast meat and, to be fair, most of edible stuff.

     However, the respite which Asperia benefited from was short-lived.

     While Reisig was meticulously building a house of cards, a sudden tremor diffused through the room and the cards, slightly shivering, collapsed at once.


     The synthetical voice of Spider soon followed the peculiar phenomenon, warning the occupants of the sewers.

“Unusual move detected in Area 19. Eradication of the presence initiated. Resilience detected.”

     At the same moment Marnie got back into the hideout, panting, leaning on a wall.

“They are two! Two of them. Inspector Idonosoko and his father!”

     She whisted a while to catch her breath, the members all joining in a hurry the living room. Woodle advanced to the door and turned himself to his subalterns, giving them circular look.

“Ling, Reisig, you come with me. The others, you stay to supervise our place. I count on you.”

     That's accompanying his words with a confident smile that he hence left the lair, followed by the concerned ones.

“You're sure you don't want me to come with you? I already saw them, and what they were doing. The first trap didn't catch them, they destroyed it!”

     Clenching her tiny fists, she did her utmost to appear brave and confident enough. Albeit the answer of the leader came in no time, glancing at her.

“No need to rush, Marnie. Time will come.”

     Although she seemed a bit frustrated, Marnie didn't add any other objection. The only thing she could do for now was to watch the three of them living the place with a sure step, remaining true to themselves.

     As they were progressing through the galleries, they could hear at shortening intervals detonations and loud crashing noises.

     In no time, they rejoined the zone in which the two intruders were currently messing around. Kiseki's father, changed into a manticore froze, roaring menacingly at them. Chops snub, his three-layered set of teeth were visible in the beam of light emitted by Kiseki's flashlight.

Haru Yumera