Chapter 8:

Once I've Sunk My Teeth In (Part 1/2)

Spirit Containment Team 1201


Drake blasted down the fifth floor hallway, his arms out to brace him against anyone unfortunate enough to be in his way. Luckily, most of them had the sense to move when they saw him coming. He skidded to a halt just in front of Allicity's office, throwing the door open.

"Drake? What are you doing here?" She asked.

He put his finger up, giving her a look that seemed a mix of excitement and genuine insanity. His breath was coming in ragged, uneven pants, which was understandable considering he had likely run from the second floor to the fifth.

"The Aevator... I'm going after it." He said.

Allicity bolted up from her desk, pale and shaky from his words.

"How do you know about it?" She asked quietly.

He looked at her for a moment, then tilted his head away from her. His veins were bulging from his neck, pulsing in sync with his heartbeat.

"My blood has been boiling for two weeks now... I know it's an Aevator... and I want to be the one to kill it." He said.

"Drake... it took six of us to take down the last one... you can't bring an Aevator down on your own." She said calmly.

Drake moved forward, closing the office door behind him and slamming his fists on the table.

"I'm going, I wasn't asking for your opinion on my chances..." He began.

His arm began to glow with a light blue light, then moments later, was clad in Khione's armor. The thick iron made his arm look three times its actual size. But it seemed that, even with its added weight, he had no problem hefting his arm up high and bringing it back down on the desk, making both it and Allicity shudder.

"...and unless you're looking to go toe-to-toe with me... you aren't stopping me." He finished.

Allicity gave a huff, retrieving a few slips of paper from the floor and arranging them atop her desk once more.

"Do you even know where it is?" She asked.

It seemed that she was deliberately attempting to avoid his gaze, but found it difficult.

"Shinjuku Gyoen. Just below us in Tokyo." He said.

She sighed, turning to her computer monitor and tapping away at the keyboard.

"Well... since it's just you... if I let you fight an Aevator on your own... I'll definitely get fired... but... it just so happens that a certain Princess Lillian Shaithe-Hemdon is currently perusing the gardens in Shinjuku Gyoen... and her sister DID make a formal request that you be her escort... and I can't very well disregard a request from the Queen of England, now can I?" She said.

Drake considered things for a moment, a wild, lopsided grin forming on his face.

"So... I go to the gardens, under the auspice of going to be with Lillian... the Aevator just so happens to pop up there without my knowledge... and I take it out before a team gets dispatched." He said.

Allicity beamed at him, nodding her head slowly.

"That's right... look... I understand your tenacity in this moment... and part of me actually DOES think that you can beat it, but my more experienced side is hesitant to let you go... your Mom will kill me if you don't come back in one piece... hell, she'll probably kill me anyway." She said.

She gave him a wave, opening her mouth to say something else, but stopping short. Drake gave a wave in return and bolted through the door.

Rather than take the long way down, Drake slammed his fist against the window directly opposite the door, sending it crashing out of its housing and down onto the ground below. A number of students had amassed near the door, drawn by the noise he had made. Said students gasped with a mix of worry and wonder as Drake leapt from the window, careening straight towards the ground.

His arms shot forward, hands pointed to the ground.

"Gaia!"

At his words, five large pillars of earth burst forth from the ground below, the first coming to catch him as he fell, and the rest acting as a staircase of sorts to help him get to ground level. He hopped down to the earth beneath him, and continued his run.

He darted through large swaths of students, weaving in and out of groups with ease. Some stopped to follow them with their eyes, others did their best to ignore him.

He ran to the edge of the small dimension, screeching to a halt as he reached the cliff. A pit of pure darkness sat there, motionless and seemingly unending.

Gaia's voice rang out from the ether as she spoke.

"Are you certain that this is a good idea?" She asked.

"Khione... will I be okay?" He asked.

"Hmm... I think you'll be fine." Khione responded.

"I'll be fine, then." He said.

Without another word, he leapt from the cliff, hurtling down into the endless abyss.

A pinprick of white light appeared below them, rapidly growing as its source quickly closed in. A bright flash poured over them, washing them in light and making it impossible to see. Eventually, however, the outline of a city formed beneath them.

Flipping over so that his back faced the ground, he crossed his arms over his chest, balling up as he hurtled toward the ground below. The dimension had dumped him out well over five thousand feet above the city, and he seemed to increase in speed every second.

"Gaia, get me towards the Garden." He barked.

A flash of green light erupted from his side, sending him spiraling horizontally through the air. It was difficult to judge exactly how far he had moved, but from sight alone, it was obviously a considerable distance.

He remained silent for most of the remaining descent, only speaking as the ground came within feet of him.

"Chaos Sphere."

A thin, red sphere began to bloom outwards from his body. It quickly overwhelmed him, covering him in its entirety. It brought him to a halt about three meters from the ground, then held him there.

With a snap of his fingers, the bubble disappeared, letting him fall the rest of the way, straight down onto his feet.

A thick red brick wall before him took up most of the area in his field of view. It was the Gardens, as he had requested. He walked to a small automated admittance kiosk, looking at it for a few moments.

"What is it?" Pandora asked quietly.

Without a word, he began fishing in his pockets, pulling out a bluish-green card, which he then slid into the kiosk.

*BEEP*

The light accompanying the kiosk's card reader flashed from red to green, shortly followed by the turnstile inside unlocking.

"You paid?" Pandora asked.

"Well, you're supposed to." He said with a shrug. "Besides, it was only twenty credits."

He pushed the turnstile forward, slipping inside the walls.

"Ah... I had planned to make a trip down here once I had some time off this week, the cherry blossoms in this place are always gorgeous." He said. "Guess I got to come early."

"Do you know where we're going?" Gaia asked.

"I have an idea of where we're headed, yeah." He said.

With that, he moved along the winding path, flanked on both sides by a number of colorful, sweet smelling plants that made the atmosphere rather calm, especially considering his reason for being there.

The path snaked through the gardens, winding in certain areas and splitting into forks in others. Still, he seemed, at the very least, to have an idea of where he was going. Either through intuition, or simple dumb luck, the lone figure of a young girl could be seen in the distance.

As he closed in on her, it was clear that she was clad in a white Ivoria uniform, denoting her status as a First Year.

Drake grabbed her by the back of her collar, jerking her into the air with a grunt. She yelped in kind, spinning around with a look of abject horror on her face. Her eyes were white, and lacked any sign of iris or pupil, instead being entirely white. Her gaze softened as she recognized Drake, her mouth tilting into a smile.

"Hello, Mr. Drake." She said.

"Don't you fucking "Hello" me." He snarled, using his free hand to gesture at the sky towards the city center. "Ya hear that? It's an Aevator Alarm... which means that YOU" He said, pausing to jab his finger into the bridge of her nose. "Should have evacuated already." He finished.

Her head tilted to the side, listening for the sound he was referring to. Her face reddened as she realized that she could hear it.

"I... I..." She stammered.

"You were too wrapped up in the scenery to notice." He guessed.

"Yes..." She murmured.

He dropped her, and she gave a sigh of relief, only to be swept up again in his arms.

"Your sister asked me to take care of you, and I didn't know where you were. Do you know how badly I wanted to freak out when Allicity told me where you were?" He asked.

His voice had a pleading edge to it that made Lillian undeniably regretful.

"Sorry." She said, wrapping herself around him as much as her small arms would allow.

He let her go after a second, letting her drop back to the ground. Drake wasn't exactly tall himself, being only just five and a half feet tall, but even then, this girl was incredibly short, being almost a head beneath him herself.

The moment she touched the ground she jumped forward, slipping herself underneath of his chin and nuzzling herself against him.

"You gotta go, Lil... the Aevator will be here soon." He said.

She pulled away, spinning on her heel and giving him a pout.

"What about you? You're coming with me, I hope?" She asked, her English accent bringing a smile to his face.

"Hell no! You think I'm gonna pass up the chance to fight an Aevator?" He laughed. "Now go on... it'll be here any minute." He said.

Any minute, however, happened to be right that moment. A loud *CRACK* roared from a few dozen feet from them, making Lillian jump straight back into Drake's arms.

A large oval-shaped split in the space near them had torn open. It was pulsating with a mixture of both white and black energies.

"Ah, shit..." He groaned.

His eyes darted back and forth along the garden, searching for a place to hide Lillian.

"Ah... fuck it!" He said.

He pushed himself against her, knocking her into the flowerbed behind her.

"Stay there, I'll be done in a bit." He whispered.

Her reply was drowned out by the hum of the tear, which looked as though it were shivering. He moved in a little closer, ready to spring back if something shot through.

It remained loud, but other than that, it was unremarkable. With a shrug, Drake dropped onto his backside, crossing his legs and rocking back and forth with impatience.

"Khione, put an ice wall up around us, I'm bored." He said.

A round wall of white ice grew around him from the ground up, leaving only his face from eye level visible.

He yawned, pushing himself against the wall and leaning to the side slightly.

"Is THIS thing the Aevator? Mom never told me what they look like... I really hope it isn't." He said.

Five minutes passed.

Then ten.

Nothing.

In fact, so little had happened that Drake had nodded off to sleep. His head was fully slumped to the side, and he was snoring lightly.

A shudder from the tear made the ice ring vibrate, but the young man asleep inside it didn't seem to notice.

"Um... Drake... I think it may be here." Came a squeak from Gullveig.

His eyes shot open, hand shooting out and smashing straight through the ice. He jolted upwards, standing and focusing on the tear.

It gaped wide, pulsing even more intensely, almost as though it were breathing.

"Yeah... it's right on the other side... I kinda want to reach in and grab it." He laughed.

Luckily, he didn't have to wait long. A small orb pushed itself out of the hole, which promptly closed behind it.

The orb was about six inches across, and had a checkered pattern of black and white squares. Its strange coloration and shape gave it the illusion of being flat, but as it began to pulsate itself, the illusion was quickly broken.

It slowly expanded, its sides rippling as they changed. In a mere thirty seconds, it had gone from an orb shaped object to a living, breathing, humanoid creature.

Standing at the exact same height as Drake, it had a thin, wiry body, covered in flesh bearing the same checkered pattern of black and white.

Its only clothing was a large assortment of wrappings that seemed to have a similar consistency to bandages. These wraps began at each ankle, extending up the entirety of the torso and the arms, ending at both wrists, as well as its neck.

Its body seemed to lack any features, save for its face, which was still rather androgynous. There wasn't a single wrinkle or bulge where one might expect.

The only noticeable feature was the three strips of black hair adorning its otherwise bald head.

Its black eyes focused on Drake, and its mouth opened, revealing a voice that was decidedly male.

"Hmm... I'd been told that humans were aware of the threat that we pose... but I had expected that to mean that they would send a larger group of warriors... not a smaller one... why is it just you?" It asked.

Drake gave another shrug.

"Well, I'm sure that you'd have plenty of people here waiting for you if the situation was normal... but I requested to fight you alone." Drake explained.

"Alone? Strange... I was told that even rather powerful humans feared us immensely. You don't seem to be so shaken. Interesting."

Its voice was cool and deep, but its face and eyes expressed just how intrigued the creature was.

"Although... there are two of you here... did you get scared and bring backup just in case?" It purred with a mix of glee and mockery.

"What? Her? No no... she'd just get herself killed if she tried to fight you. She's... ah.... more or less my excuse for being able to come down here alone." He said.

"An excuse? I see... still, only a single fighter? You must have a death wish." The creature mused.

Drake disappeared in a blur, reappearing an instant later in front of the Aevator. He reached up and wrapped his hand around its neck.

"You've got it all wrong! You see."

*SLAM*

With a grunt, Drake forced the creature into the concrete path, leaving it both stunned and shocked.

"I'm the most powerful person to ever live. Having others fight alongside me would just be a nuisance." He laughed.

He jumped away as the Aevator struck out in response.

"Hey! By the way... you have a name or something? It feels a bit odd referring to you as a "thing"." He asked.

"Balance. Balance is my aspect. We don't use names like you humans, so just call me Balance." Balance responded.

"I'm Drake. Second Year student of the Japan Branch of Ivoria. Nice to meet ya, even if you'll be dead real soon."

Two black pits opened next to Drake, both filled with a mass of writhing tendrils that shot out towards him, snaring themselves around his ankles.

"Hmm... strongest human, eh? You sure let yourself get caught easily." Balance laughed.

"Caught? Wait... these things are meant to keep me in place?" Drake asked.

He snapped his fingers, smirking as the tendrils jumped off of his legs. Their tips were covered in a thin coat of ice.

"Khione, armor up." He said.

His body was immediately encased in a thick, blue armor that covered everything but his head. Ornate and well made, the armor looked hefty, but it didn't seem to add any sluggishness to his movements.

The tendrils darted back towards him in an attempt to bind him once more. As they closed in on him, however, the halted, unwilling to actually touch the armor.

Drake exhaled a few times, breathing against the armor. His breath hardened as it touched the metal, freezing and rolling off onto the ground.

"I know you're probably not familiar with the laws of thermodynamics, but the temperature on the outside of this armor is zero kelvin, or... two hundred and seventy three... point one five Celsius? I think that's the number... anyway, in a phrase you can understand... if this armor touches you, you'll be frozen in place until I decide otherwise." Drake said with an admittedly sinister grin.

He disappeared once more, popping back into place beside the Aevator. With a motion one might use to knock on a door, he tapped his fist against his adversary's forehead.

Balance was motionless, its eyes following Drake as he moved back to where his ice ring had once been.

"Now... I'm going to take my time with you... well, I will once I've sunk my teeth into you fully." He laughed. "Lemme show you something cool." He added.

He held his hand out to the side.

"Khione, Equalizer: Frostheart."


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