The directions that Saki gave him were fairly vague, but he could not fault her since she had been trying to escape from the place. Based on the description and the general location, Ayumi narrowed it down for them. The entire area was quite lacking much life at all with most of the buildings being abandoned or only used for storage. It made a perfect location for them to use their powers without being seen by the public. However, it could also be a perfect setup for a trap, a matter that Ayumi attended to now.
Yuki watched from a distance half distracted as Ayumi searched the area in advance. His mind weighed heavily on Saki and what she had to go through from this assassin because of him. ‘I said I would make him pay, but that’s said so easily. Can I actually do it? My power doesn’t work on command…’
Ayumi walked back to Yuki having completed her task. “Everything is clear now. There were a few traps, but they were poorly done. Let’s go.”
“Right...” Yuki pulled at his leg dragging it forward to follow up by Ayumi’s side as she marched onward. He could still feel the aching thump in his heart spreading through him like a spider laying a web. ‘…Saki…’
Chapter 19 – Promises
Hiroshi returned to Yuki’s house knocking on the door expecting to see Yuki. However, when the door opened for him it was Jun standing vacant and distant as he usually did. “Hey, little man! I’ve got some bandages and ointments for Saki’s injuries.” He lifted up his bag of supplies to show Jun. Jun stepped out of the threshold to the side of the door nearly hiding behind it. Hiroshi walked through into the living room hearing the door shut behind him.
When he searched the room there were no signs of Yuki or Ayumi anywhere in sight. He looked back at Jun seeing him walk around to Saki’s side. “Hey… Where’s your brother Yuki?” Jun turned to look at Hiroshi and paused for a moment long enough to get a few words out. Then he turned back, remaining silent the entire time.
He turned his head slightly away sweating a little not certain what the look was supposed to mean. ‘What’s with Yuki’s little brother. I don’t think I’ve heard him say a single word the entire time I’ve been here.’ Hiroshi scratched his head a little puzzled and tried again with only the same results. “…Hmm… This is getting me nowhere.”
“Jun doesn’t speak…” Saki said slowly as she opened her eyes. She pulled herself up from the couch looking a little better than she had before. ‘You won’t find Yuki, though.’
“Hey, should you be moving like that?” Hiroshi dropped the bag and came over to Saki’s aid.
Saki pulled the blanket off of her, dropping it onto the couch as she stood up on her own feet. She was tired of being an invalid that needed to be tended. “I’m fine. I’m feeling a lot better now.” For reasons she didn’t understand, the stinging long left her. Only fatigue tied her down, even that faded.
“You don’t look it,” He gestured generally to her appearance of a torn and dirty school uniform. All of the dirt on her face and body had been washed off, but it left the bruises that she had taken in order to get out. There was even blood soaked into her clothes from the glass.
She looked down at herself. Shifting her body gave her a good look at her state. The movements were not slow or pained like she had remembered before. ‘Probably not perfect shape, but I can do what I must like this.’ Saki looked up at Hiroshi, stepping towards him. “I’m fine. I look worse than I am.”
“You need to lie down.” Hiroshi put his hands on her shoulders pushing back to the couch. He searched around the room trying to figure out where Ayumi went, who was supposed to be keeping Saki from doing anything stupid. Hiroshi struggled with Saki in getting her to sit on the couch, but managed to succeed eventually. After panting from the effort, Hiroshi bent down and picked up the bag showing it to her. “See, I’ve got medicine for you. It’ll make you better.”
“I already told you that I’m fine. I don’t need it.” Saki looked at the bag quickly noting that there seemed to be an excessive amount of bandages. ‘I’m not that badly injured. Come on, Hiroshi. Use that small brain you got to think.’
Hiroshi dropped the bag on Saki’s lap staring down at her. He gave her a completely serious stare, which was a little atypical coming from him. “Listen here. I’m not letting you go anywhere. This is the police’s job, not yours. And besides, you’re injured. If I can beat you in a contest of strength then it’s clear that you’re in no condition to be moving.”
Saki stared down at the bag having listened, grudgingly, to Hiroshi's argument. She narrowed her eyes, becoming frustrated with her condition. “Fine…”
Yuki and Ayumi stared at the door of the warehouse. Yuki had been trying to open it and look a little more useful, but made no headway. Stoic features held for her, even if it started to embarrass her to watch. She waited until he gave up and slid down the front of the large sliding door that was meant to let in trucks for unloading. “Done?”
Yuki glared back at Ayumi not liking the tone in her voice. “Looks like it is locked from the inside.” He stood up facing the door getting a few steps away while lifting up his hands straight at the door. “Guess it’ll have to be taken down. HA!!” He tried to summon up his power thinking that he could blow apart the door.
Ayumi had come to her limits of humoring him. She marched forward knocking him on the head with her hand. “Stop your screaming. You need to stop reading that manga of yours. We’re trying to get in quietly and not alert the enemy to our presence. Which we probably lost by now.”
A bit of disappointment washed over him when a ki blast or other form of energy attack didn’t miraculously pop out of his palm. So much for clear images like she told him. The expression quickly changed to narrowed eyes and wrinkled brow. “But the door’s locked. We can’t get in. And wouldn’t he already know that we’re here with how long we’ve been standing around? Why do we need to be quiet?”
“Use your head for once. We don’t know where all of the people that he’s kidnapped are. Blowing up the door could get them injured or killed. And I don’t want to be broadcasting our entrance to him, even if he does know where we are. Being quiet is better.”
As his military superior, he couldn’t deny the logic. He hadn’t considered the consequences. “Well how do you plan to get in without making noise? You going to pick the lock?”
“No.” Ayumi positioned herself in front of the door and closed her eyes. A blue wave pushed away from her feet. In addition to snow appearing, her clothes transformed. The red dress was painted over with white. A brief flash popped the dress into a pale blue and white kimono, but rather than fully reaching to the snow it cut off shortly after the waist. White shorts covered the rest of her thighs with simple boots for protection.
The snow field expanded around her, filling out into the grass covering it all in a few centimeters of snow as well as the door in front of her. The snow covered and went through the door finishing in an arc that equaled the range of her field.
She pressed her hands up against the hardened snow and pushed it through what used to be a solid metal door. The snow cracked and crumbled around her arms that pierced the wall. Her arms pulled out with her hands taking some of the snow with it leaving a gaping hole. Soon after she placed her hands back at her side as the cracks in the snow grew from the weakness that she created causing it all to crumble into a pile on the ground producing a wide archway into the warehouse.
Once it was over Yuki pulled his jaw back up, closing his mouth and ran around to Ayumi’s side turning glossy eyed at her. “Wow, Ayumi! That’s so cool! Didn’t know you could do that!”
Ayumi sighed in disbelief at his reversal in attitude. “Creativity. Remember that.” She stared at him for a moment realizing that little was getting through his head from being so excited by tearing down the door. “Come on. Let’s go. The enemy is somewhere inside.”
Ayumi marched cautiously inside scanning side to side.. No interior light limited her sight. Only the windows and hole she made provided light. However, all the cells Saki reported being occupied were now empty. All of the cells on the far side of the warehouse were left with their doors open. ‘What’s going on here? Where are they?’
Yuki snapped out of his excitement when he caught up to the changing events. He rushed inside with Ayumi stopping well in front of her looking around the room. The view in the warehouse made it difficult for him to scan the room making it nearly impossible for him to find the assassin that was responsible for everything. “Ayumi, where’s the people that Saki talked about?”
“I don’t know.”
“I let them go,” a muffled smooth voice said from the far end of the warehouse. The man approached from the shadows protected by the darkness.
“What do you mean?” Yuki still didn’t understand this assassin’s motive. He gave up his leverage.
The man slowly marched closer to them. His footsteps started to ring clearer. “There’s no need for them when I found what I was searching for.”
“What were you searching for? You knew where-“ Yuki was suddenly cut off by a sudden blur in front of him that became Ayumi standing between the two of them.
“What were you doing with the people you took?”
The man came to stop at the edge of the light only letting the sun’s rays travel up to his waist highlighting his white pants. “Hmm? Oh…Ayumi is it? Changing your name, huh? I didn’t know you cared about these strangers?” He caught the thin glaring eyes of Ayumi nearly letting out an amused laugh. “Alright. You took out the advanced scouting team before they could report back on their location. So I was sent out to find you and let them know.”
“What?!” Yuki leaned around Ayumi as she seemed to take everything directed at him. ‘Advanced scouting team? Does he mean those two assassins?’
“Seems giving them the orders to kill and report back if impossible, proved to be a mistake on the higher-ups part. You proved to be more trouble than we planned for.”
“Enough wasting time, what were you doing with those people?” Ayumi stepped back into the conversation not wanting to be ignored. The angered expression on her face was something new unseen before by Yuki.
“I was getting to that. So impatient…Ayumi…” said the man, getting an amused tone again by saying her name. “I interrogated them for information.”
“You raped their minds!”
“Tsk…such a crass word. Memories don’t lie like people do. It is the most certain way to learn the truth. I let her escape when I found her memories. That scared little girl proved excellent bait to deliver your friend to me. Seems like I calculated correctly. She ran back to you and brought you to me without needing to leave.”
“You let Saki go?!” Yuki said surprised that it was planned out. He started to become angered by the casual manner that the man talked about what he had done to Saki and the others.
The man turned a smile at seeing the reactions that he was getting. “Of course. You think I would be that easily escaped if I wanted to keep her. I just had to make it look convincing enough and here you are now.”
“So there’s no one but us in here?” She had been holding herself back the whole time, but could not stand to listen to the self-important man anymore.
“Most of them at least. Some of them were too afraid to leave.”
‘Damn…it’ll have to do.’ Ayumi stepped forward bringing her field into contact with the man seeing that it battled part way to him. ‘His field’s already up.’ She knew that she had to end this quickly, but his powers were unknown to her. It would have been beneficial to have meant him, knowing his Law set.
His advantage appeared to be at range, given how Saki described him. Such a target would be difficult to eliminate. She needed to learn his style to build a plan. ‘I need to see his mental strength.’
Ayumi raised up her hand as the snow under it drew up to her palm floating just under it. The snow gathered quickly stretching out to the length of her arm and hardening becoming ice. The ice sharpened to a point that launched itself as a projectile towards the man.
The man didn’t move to avoid the attack from Ayumi. He seemed to be confident in it not affecting him. A vine came up from the ground grabbing the ice spear just before it hit the man. The shard was wrapped up completely by the plant coiling around it like a snake and tightening its grip until it shattered to pieces.
“Hrmph. Testing me are you? Glad to see you aren’t underestimating me.” He stepped out of the shade into the light from Ayumi’s hole revealing his vine covered face that Saki had described during her story. He raised his right hand up as a signal that released several vines from the ground that shot out at Ayumi.
The speed of the attack took Ayumi a little by surprise as she pulled her hand back forcing up snow into a thick wall. Vines slammed into the solid with an unseen thud to signal her safety. She exhaled a warm breath in the cold air as she prepared for her next attack. Her hands clasped together bringing her focus, but stopped suddenly when cracks could be heard in her wall.
Ayumi drew her attention down to the ice, seeing green plants crawling over the interior of the ice tunneling through slowly. She had to dodge out of the way as one of the exposed vines shot out at her, narrowly missing.
“Ayumi!” Yuki rushed to her side after seeing the attack. He tried to help her up to her feet, but she pushed him away with her arm. “Ayumi?”
Ayumi stood up with her back turned to Yuki. “Go find a place to hide! It’s too soon for you.” She walked forward breaking down the wall ice. His vines retreated after the attack. They hovered at his feet awaiting a command to strike. “I won’t let you touch him!”
Yuki slowly stepped back. He turned his head down looking at his hands hearing Ayumi charging towards the man. The battle between the two had begun and he was left out. ‘Go find a place to hide!’ Her words pounded against his head knocking him again.
‘I’m useless… All my anger and commitment, empty… Ayumi’s out there protecting me from that man trying to kill me. I-I…’ His hands shook knowing already without needing to be said. ‘I’ve already tried! I want to help, but I can’t! It won’t work! Why’d I think I should have come…’
A pained groan from Ayumi snapped Yuki out of his internal dilemma. He looked up, seeing Ayumi bleeding from her right arm, taking a shallow hit from a vine that she had been unable to cut down with her sword. It did not seem to be slowing her down as she charged forward again using the ice to block vines coming at her as she cut away those she could not.
“Ayumi…” Yuki stepped forward a little, but held himself back when he realized that he could not do anything to aid her. ‘She would only scold me again. Ayumi’s in there fighting and getting hurt because of me.’ He tightened his hands into fists frustrated by his inability to control his power. ‘I don’t want to be helpless. I have to do something!’
Yuki closed his eyes trying to remember the feeling that he had before when he had his power and clear out his mind of thoughts. ‘I must. I’m sorry, but I have to break my promise, mother.’ He focused on when he was desperate before, when his family was in danger. Yuki shouted up to the ceiling in blind desperation.
“Hey! What do you think you’re doing screaming? It’s killing my ears!” a high pitched voice to Yuki’s left said before it kicked him in the face.
Yuki rudely snapped out of his trance and blinked his eyes looking over to what had hit him. “What?!” When his eyes finally focused together the fairy, from before that he had summoned accidently with Saki, floated in front of him looking very annoyed. “What are you doing here?”
“I don’t know you called me.”
“What?!” Yuki widened his eyes and stepped back in disbelief. “No I didn’t! I was trying to use my power!”
“Don’t shout at me, mister!” The fairy kicked him in the face again leaving a second red mark.
“Stop kicking me! If I summoned you, don’t kick me!” He leaned in on the fairly losing any manners of decency that he had before.
The fairy pressed up into his face, not pleased by the loud obnoxious treatment that she received from Yuki. “You can’t order me around. I’ll kick you as much as I want!” Upon which, she kicked him again to prove her point to him.
Yuki held his sore cheeks in his hand glaring at the annoying little fly. “Get back in my mind now!” He grabbed the fairy in his hand and threatened to do exactly that. However, before he was able to do anything Ayumi shouted at him.
Yuki turned his head. The foreigner changed targets away from her. There were several vines flying straight at him and Ayumi was caught up by some other vines keeping her from being able to intervene. His eyes widened in shock as he knew that he wasn’t going to be able to get out of the way in time. All he could do was protect himself with his arms bringing them up to take the hits with the fairy flailing in his hand panicking.
Blood and the slicing of flesh echoed around Yuki’s ears as he was knocked to the ground losing his hold on the fairy, which flew away to safety in the rafters. Yuki took a moment, but realized quickly that he wasn’t hurting. He opened his eyes seeing Saki in front of him with her arms bleeding from being hit by the vines. “Saki!?” Yuki leapt to his feet to get to Saki in time, but she put her arm out stopping him. He was taken aback by her endurance to be standing still.
“Yuki… I made you a promise. I’m not about to break it now!” Saki narrowed her face, staring down at the man in vines ready to challenge him. She wasn’t going to let him hurt Yuki anymore.
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