thoroughly unconscious. He'd been exhausted, yes, but... he just
assumed the nervousness of sleeping next to Rakashi
would have kept him from moving. At all.
were less than coherent thoughts on the edge of waking. He'd felt
the bed shift as she'd pulled away, forcing him to roll a bit. Maybe
more than a bit. It was upon realizing that he'd gotten close enough
to feel the chill as she left that really
woke him--then kept him stock still.
genuinely didn't notice, or consciously gave him the benefit of
pretending not to. The first rays of sunlight had just touched the
window, and as far as she was concerned there wasn't time to do much
more than splash a bit of water on her face, eat, and leave.
Truthfully, she'd slept a bit longer than she'd actually planned, but
her body clock was still mostly reliable.
bathroom door close, Rean decided that perhaps it was safe to open
his eyes. Safe enough, at the very least. He felt strangely
compelled to get out of bed as soon as possible, throwing his legs
over the side and then coming to a rather solid stillness when he saw
the envelope containing the "secret message" on the
scale of everything
finally hit him, with force. One life had already been taken away
from him as an orphan, and another one lay recently collapsed. It
left him with what felt like even less than he'd had before.
The bathroom door
opened. The footsteps on the wooden floor were hesitant. Maybe she
sensed his mood, or even worse... maybe she understood it completely.
way, there wasn't time to wrestle back control over himself. There
was rage bubbling up in dark places that he'd never even known to
exist within him. It came on quietly at first, his voice gaining
momentum and intensity. "How can you just... keep going? When
you only know some things, but... far from everything... when
everything you were working for is gone? How is it so easy for you to survive?
The Tower... battle...
killing people..? How can you just keep going
It was the anger
of a long-building frustration, she knew that. She'd encountered
worse on the battlefield. Men going mad... "Stop looking to me
for answers, Rean." She responded softly.
It hadn't been a
harsh tone. Rather a gentle one, actually; but it didn't calm his
emotions any. "Then who am I supposed to look to?"
know." She admitted, not shying away from honesty even if it
wasn't quite what he wanted to hear.
Rean stared at
that envelope again, sort of wishing that he were a more violent
person. At least then he could have gotten some of it out,
could work himself down to near-exhaustion so he'd be too tired to
think about it anymore...
"And I don't
know about you," Rakashi continued, "But I'm going to use
this freedom we have now to find answers." Answers to questions
they may not even know yet, or never wanted to find to begin with.
After slipping her boots back on in silence, she merely opened the
door and went downstairs to find out about those other supplies.
He remained there
on the bed, just thinking. Not of anything in particular, really,
but the anger had waned considerably as the stairs creaked with her
decent. It was quiet without her...and the room was cold because it
was only dawn. With a sigh, he decided that breakfast was in order
since he didn't want to just get in the way... not to mention, he
wasn't terribly interested in the idea of being anywhere near that
bar again. He'd just be morbidly looking to see if the blood had
been cleaned up.
thought aside, the idea of a cold sandwich first thing in the morning
wasn't the most pleasant... but he was hungry. And,
maybe--no, certainly, he'd been much too harsh. Especially
considering Rakashi's patience. Seeing as how both of the sandwiches
were the same, he set one aside to "warm up" a bit. The
other was devoured slowly as he waited.
It struck him as
he heard someone coming back up the stairs that he had no way to tell
just who it was. That was just slightly terrifying at the moment,
the only thing standing between him and a potentially
life-threatening situation was a pistol that might in itself be much
more threatening to him than any would-be killer.
When it was quite
doubtlessly Rakashi who opened the door before closing and locking it
again, he could only be so relaxed. Particularly because there were
entirely too many things to apologize for. "About earlier..."
"I get it." She answered easily,
map in hand. Settling back onto the other side
of the bed and unwrapping the sandwich as though she'd just left it
there herself, she unfolded and smoothed out the paper. "Nothing
to worry about."
"I'm not worried..." Rean
assured, not quite certain of why he was
pushing the point. He could have let it just fall away and be
forgotten so easily. "It's just... courtesy. I'm sorry, this
is all just..."
"Yeah." She finished quietly when
it became clear that he had nowhere to take
that thought. Despite her voice sounding completely uninterested,
she was watching him closely. "Did you want to look at the
Such a... mundane
question. He wondered if he was just imagining things, or if that
was really her way of asking if he wanted to go on with her. He
wasn't sure that he wanted to know. "Yeah. Did you find
The change of
gears was subtle but astounding all at once. "I'm running
partly on instinct." She prefaced, pointing out what she'd
managed. "Nova, Pavelin, Jant, and Serafem. They could be
four corners, except that they aren't quite set up that way."
Tilting his head,
Rean supposed that he could see they were askew. They could still
make a diamond-shaped box if connected... "What are they,
Drawing with her
finger, there was the slightest grin on Rakashi's lips. "If you
take the fact that Nova and Pavelin are in a line, here, and that
Jant and Serafem are off to either side but much closer to Nova...
it's a giant arrow."
That was too
obvious. Too ridiculous. "It reeks of Demi."
"Of Sarah, as
well." She informed with a quiet laugh, finally taking a bite
of food as she thought about it. "The woman could be quite evil
that way. Taking that knowledge, I'd bet it points the wrong way."
went about studying the former general rather than the map. "Are
The shrug probably
wasn't reassuring. "There was a battlefront outside of Kender. We had
absolutely no reason to be there save the Tower's need to get
rid of us for a little while. It was after the war with no
actual fighting in sight, so... Sarah decided she would keep the
troops from getting bored. All it took was a little white paint and
some reversed arrows on the official orders. Kept everyone busy and
confused for several weeks, and the best part was that the Tower took
the heat for it."
weren't the kind of war stories he expected. Particularly with
Rakashi treating them as though they were just common daily anecdotes
over her sandwich. He really had to laugh a bit, in spite of
himself. "I guess that makes sense, then."
so." She agreed, studying the map again. "On the other
side of that arrow is Feres, and they've got an enormous train
station. I'll bet we've got another message waiting for us somewhere
Creepy, the way it
all fell together... but he hoped the theory proved true. Even then,
he wasn't quite sure if he was ready to confront Demi. How many lies
had the man told him with that careless smile? Was all of the joking
and the laughter completely fake? "Can I ask now... what kept
you in the military?" he found himself asking a bit timidly.
Particularly when her gaze turned back to him, seemingly trying to
divine the meaning of the question. "I just remember... you
said you had a reason, and... well, I wondered what that was. I
mean, I don't expect an answer, but..."
Well, it wasn't as
if she had a reason to either lie or completely hide the truth. "I
always suspected that something was 'off'... I just had no idea that
it was to such an extent."
They both might
have laughed in any other situation. Rean tried, but his
breathing was off and his heart definitely wasn't in it. Thoughts
again turning to times before, times and places he'd once thought
were "safe", he suspected that they both felt like the
Tower had been a bit of a prison. The general more so, he was sure.
Control Room knew." She nearly growled at that
knowledge, at the memory of slamming the Captain into the wall,
demanding answers. She still didn't have all of them, but she was
determined. "Maybe they destroyed the Tower themselves to hide
something, or opened up the front doors and let something in. Either
way, I'm certain they weren't ignorant of the destruction."
Well, that was an
added terror he didn't quite need to think about. Even so, it had to
be asked, "Can you be sure it's destroyed? Just because...
Andrew said so..."
Rakashi gave a
quick nod, feeling her gut wrench just a bit at the thought of how
many people she'd been working right next to had managed to fool her
so completely. Not that she could have known, she supposed,
but that was no comfort. "Regardless of the rest... he was
telling the truth."
Rean prompted lightly.
steered me wrong yet." She answered with simplicity. A lot of
other things had gone horribly wrong, yes, but her instinct was
always something to listen to.
His mind was still
moving, though, still diving for explanations and trying to figure
out how everything could have started to go wrong. "Was...
well, could Sarah be a spy?"
"No." It was a word spoken with
And possibly just
a little too quick for his tastes. Maybe it was just that the former
general didn't want to face the idea since they did seem so close,
but... "Can you really be sure?"
There was a
measuring sort of look before Rakashi stated, "Completely."
He had to pause
then, pondering if he ought to continue to push. He might have
simply let the subject go before then, but... "Can you at least
tell me why?"
The sigh was a bit
unexpected. As was the answer. "We were involved for a time. Very
The world seemed
to grind to a little bit of a halt right then. "You and..?" No, that
was... dumb and rude and many other things that were
jumbling in his mind, causing a bit of a pile-up before anything
managed to make it to his mouth. "Does that mean you're--" He managed
to stop himself cold the instant he realized what
he was about to ask.
Rakashi laughed. "Not
that you are in need of that information, Mr. Coi." She not so secretly
delighted in his blush. "But no, it does
Leaning back, he
simply covered his face with his hands in sheer embarrassment. The
woman's occasional chuckle while eating didn't exactly help, but
somehow it made everything just a little less pathetically awkward
and more like... "normal."
of them descended the stairs and simply left the
back way, not wanting to bother the man who'd been kind enough to let
them stay and arrange their transportation... even though he'd most
likely been paid handsomely to do it. Well, that was how these
things worked. Sure enough, they were greeted with a pair of
horses--which Rakashi did actually check the mouths of, not to
mention hooves, backs, and then searched every pack and blanket
attached to them for supplies.
most circumstances, Rean would have called that rude. Considering these,
desire to be careful.
Still, it brought up just a bit of teasing. "Assessment,
snorted quietly. "Healthy horses, decent shoeing, rations,"
she made a slight face at that, "Several blankets, some camping
kits, plenty of water, and what looks to be one of those impossible
to construct tents."
was... thorough. "I guess we're ready then, huh?" Those
horses looked awfully big while he was on the ground...
smirked, but didn't comment about his expression. Instead, she
busied herself with getting the hood of her raincoat up. "The
rain should let up before we hit Feres, at least." And from
there... well, she didn't bother to guess at exactly where they'd be
heading. Someplace dryer, with any hope.
followed her lead, buttoning his coat tightly and putting the hood
up. "How long until we get there?"
hours or so, I'd imagine." She answered easily.
hours on horseback... that sounded unpleasant. The former general's
chuckle was pleasant enough, but it still made him frown.
pass like nothing once you learn to go with your horse's rhythm." She
stated, failing to be completely reassuring. "Watch."
unexpected order got him to blink, realizing almost too late that she
was demonstrating how to mount a horse. Well, it... looked easy
enough... until he planted one foot in the stirrup and wasn't
entirely sure what to do next.
just like a step." Rakashi attempted to instruct, sounding like
she'd done this before. "A very high step, but... step up,
swing over, and you and the horse will be fine."
seemed so easy for her to say from her vantage point. Rean held in
any complaint that threatened, trying to take her advice. It was
awkward, and he definitely landed more heavily than he'd intended
(not too painfully, at least), but he couldn't help a mild
feeling of accomplishment.
didn't comment, though her grin said enough. Even so, she
demonstrated how to hold the reigns. "It'll become natural
after a bit."
wasn't even entirely aware of what he mumbled, though it became
clearer that he was not much of a morning person. He wasn't sure if
he was a horse person either, but it was a little too late to be
her tongue, she managed to get both of the horses moving. "Know
what to do if your horse gets spooked?"
really the conversation topic he wanted as the animals started
trotting, hands very tight on the reigns. "No..."
away from the hooves, curl into a ball, protect your head and hope
for the best." Rakashi was watching him out of the
corner of her eye, trying not to let her ever so slight amusement
show. Too much.
helpful. At all. Rean had the distinct impression that was on
purpose. It didn't comfort, exactly... "I'll do my best, sir."
wasn't quite as bad as Rean had feared...
though he had the lingering impression that muscles he hadn't even
really knew existed would be a bit sore for a while. The horse was
well-behaved, though; at least, as far as he was concerned. It
didn't veer off or do anything terrifying, so he was just fine with
of the animal's behavior probably had to do with Rakashi. She rode
with confidence and ease, clicking her tongue in ways that got the
horses to obey instantly—and he was suddenly trying very
hard not to let Demi-like thoughts invade his head. It was as if he
was trying to over-correct for the lack of the idiot's comments.
was their destination itself, lit through honest sunlight
through parted clouds, that mercifully distracted such
thoughts into silence. The spires of the city of Feres should have
been famous. They were immaculate stone towers, turning the entire
city into something enchanting rather than just an old converted
course, it was an illusion that had to be questioned when they rode
into the city proper and witnessed how very many... "ladies of
greeting" there were along the main road. It's not that they
were scantily clad, not really. It was just a look. A smile,
a walk, slight tempting gestures that had Rean staring straight ahead
and hoping that wherever they were going was close. At least he
could focus on the architecture and the slightly more legitimate
for the former general, she was ever so slightly annoyed when there
was no clear place to go. They'd passed a couple of pubs already,
but nothing about either of them had grabbed her attention. The
shops were all open, the streets were well maintained, the people
seeming genuinely friendly--and while all of it was appreciated, it
gave her less of a clue as to where to go. There was less to notice
and hold onto when everything was so perfect, coming into the town
square and finding that everything was easily marked.
the horses came to a stop, Rakashi's mild look of annoyance
recognized, Rean couldn't really help but ask, "Now what?"
gave a light snort, having been wondering the same thing herself.
"Now... we try not to look like we're searching for a clue as to
where to go next."
didn't sound like an easy task at all. Nor terribly hopeful. "Have
you been here before?"
her head, she admitted, "In the area, but never here." And
such a shame from how nice it was. "I'm not sure what we ought
to be noticing. If we're supposed to be looking for--" Stopping
abruptly as her eyes caught something, there was a little
smile in the corners of her lips. Well, that did seem like a clue.
"Numerology." Without explaining herself, she dismounted
and approached the small building.
stared at her questioningly, trying to get off of his own horse
without falling and breaking anything. It was just a little more
difficult than he'd hoped it would be. "You think Numerology
has something to do with this..?"
no." She admitted, waiting for him to walk up beside her. "But
take a look at the number below the numerologist's sign."
183. In large, gold numbers.
"Well, that seems like a good start."
short laugh spoke of Rakashi's agreement. "You stay here with
it didn't really seem like the kind of place where someone ought to
go in alone. "Are you sure? I mean, this looks like a
nice town and all..." He really wasn't certain if he was more
concerned for the woman or for himself.
still have that pistol, you'll be fine." She teased with a
be fine." She assured. "And so will I. Either way, this
won't take long."
had no idea why he was worried about things right then, of all
times... "And if you do take a long time?"
little sigh might almost have been called impatience... and it might
have actually been, had Rakashi not mentally acknowledged that these
concerns were more than appropriate. "If you hear gunshots,
take that horse of yours and leave. Find a safe place. Otherwise,
I'll be right back."
far into the negative in terms of being assured, Rean finally
relented--on that point. "Is it really safe to stay
laugh was more assuring than anything else had been. "You'll be
fine, dammit. I'll be right back." And with that, she opened
the door and slipped inside with only the sound of the hinges and a
soft little bell above the door.
it was like any random "fortune teller's" establishment. Dark, smelling
of rich herbs, warm and somehow humid, candles giving
glows and reflections off of various baubles and beaded things. She
paused for a moment after closing the door behind her, letting her
eyes adjust so she could pick up any movement. She didn't feel
like this place was a trap, but that didn't mean she couldn't be
venitar." Came a soft, feminine voice from behind a sheer
curtain. The light from the candles came just short of showing
anything but a blurred silhouette.
venitar." Rakashi repeated. It was a greeting made to "strip
the sins" off of a person, to cleanse them before entering
somewhere sacred, a sanctuary. Always a funny thought to her, and
particularly after recent events, but tradition was tradition. "Do
we speak the same tongue?"
believe that we do." The laughing voice responded. "Please
do venture further... but you'll need to leave your pistol outside."
started, slightly. Too many possibilities here. "Why would you
think I have a pistol?"
have skills beyond number reading." Was all that was offered.
former general allowed herself to think this through fully before
responding. It wasn't as if she couldn't defend herself without a
weapon... but fists and legs against a pistol in the wrong hands were
not very even odds. Taking a breath, she prepared to take a step
back and make for the door if she had to--
the woman behind the curtain noticed. "Ah, Rakashi. I know who
you are, you have nothing to worry about."
that the words set her at ease... Still, there was no sense of a trap
so much as the fact that she still didn't know what
situation she was in. That was enough to keep her defenses up. "Then
why do I still feel worried?"
I am told, you are 'simply like that.'" The voice returned
playfully. Sarah's words from many occasions. "Ay, General, no
worries. I'm still the hired lady of a Mr. Dulce, paid good money to
sit here and wait for the woman who would not give up her pistol."
was a bit stunned. "And what would have happened if I were
would feign innocence and pretend I was just coming out of a vision,
of course!" A giggle followed. "Fortune tellers and other
hired company aren't all that different, are they?"
to herself, Rakashi stepped forward--but still didn't step through
the curtain. Hired lady or no, the rules of this place were still to
be respected... and there was no way in hell she was dropping that
pistol. "Might I ask what's waiting for me here, then?"
hand emerged from the curtain, holding an envelope; then the rest of
the woman's body followed. A lovely girl, svelte and elegant in her
stance and motions, though her eyes spoke of an intelligence beneath
that most of her clients probably didn't recognize.
woman was trustworthy because she'd been hired to be. That was all
that Rakashi needed to know. Taking the envelope with a nod, she
asked, "Might there be a train in the near future?"
might be." The woman smiled. "But you are a bit later
than expected. Your train to Cheres leaves in twelve minutes."
a grin, the former general had just enough time to bow in thanks,
turning and leaving with a bit of money fluttering behind her. Already
having been paid or not, good service always deserved a bit
more outside, door closed behind her, Rakashi gave a light smile to
Rean before mounting her horse again.
he prompted when it became clear that she wasn't going to explain on
hold on for dear life." She suggested. "We've got a train
it did kind of feel good to let the horses
simply run. Signs along every road made it quite clear that
the train station was on the other side of the town, Rakashi leading
them through some slightly less crowded avenues to get there (as it
likely wouldn't have been looked upon kindly if they managed to
trample anyone on their way).
they arrived at the station later than they'd hoped to, it turned out
that they actually had plenty of time to spare due to one modern
miracle: technical difficulties resulting in a late departure. That
meant they had time to get the horses on board with them, a bit of
dumb but so very appreciated luck, particularly when the full delay
was less than half an hour.
was a bit of a... bathroom issue, however. As in, there were none on
board. As in, Rean had ridden a horse for some time, while consuming
a healthy dose of water every so often, and was suffering.
Rakashi seemed to be of no help at all. "Just go off the side." She
suggested. "Belt yourself to a hand rail, open up a side
door and go."
was horrified at the suggestion. A person didn't just do such
a thing... until she recounted a tale of a Captain Sirquest who'd
done something similar from a low-flying plane. The man had never
lived it down, apparently, because he'd managed to relieve himself at
just the wrong moment, while he was over his own men.
was at that point in her tale that Rean had given her a long,
calculating look... and continued to try and hold it. "Besides,"
he argued, "I mean... you're here."
turned away before her expression betrayed her. She'd always known
that the boy had never been to war, of course, but that was just
another reminder that things were very different for him. Something
to... protect, maybe. If she could. Not that she particularly
favored the idea of being near anyone while they were taking care of
personal business, but one got used to it rather quickly on the
field. "Well." She commented, taking an obvious look at
the nearby door. "Your belt will hold fine if you decide to go
that way. Just double-check the hand rails."
managed to ignore her advice, and the fact that she'd wandered to the
other side of the car, for almost twenty minutes. That proved to be
entirely enough as he decided that taking her advice would be for the
best for so very many reasons. He knew better than to complain about
the lack of toilet paper and the ability to wash his hands, but they
were still on his mind as he cleared his throat behind Rakashi.
was graceful enough not to say a word, more or less trying to hide
her smirk as she lead them in comfort to their seats. They'd
both wondered at first if it was Demi's doing to get them an entire
car to themselves... but then the train seemed mostly abandoned to
begin with. Maybe it just wasn't a day to travel.
like that one were what prompted the former general to stare at the
envelope that she'd been given before arriving at the train. There
was nothing written on the outside, no signs or seals or indication
of who or where it was from. What was inside was thin, another
single sheet of paper. Something about her wasn't quite ready to see
what was inside even as she slowly tore it open. The possibilities
were staggering. Almost painful.
was a light, almost nonexistent nudge from Rean, though. It was such
a ghosting of his elbow against her arm that she couldn't be certain
of whether it had been intentional--until she caught him watching her
from the corner of her eye.
was enormously glad for his company, suddenly. Not enough to get
mushy about, granted, but it was enough. With a hesitant breath, she
tugged at the paper within, unfolding it as neatly as it had been
folded. There was a simultaneous ache and flutter in her heart as
she recognized Sarah's handwriting.
you're reading this then you've made it right on time
to Cheres. There's a big ranch a ways outside of the city, called
Si'Terre. Even most of the locals don't know about it, so you'll
have to do some searching. I trust you'll know what to look for when
you find a better map of the area. When next we meet, Rakashi.
woman's signature... followed by a P.S. in a
script that was far less elegant.
happened to bring Rean along. That boy just can't take
care of himself, you know?
notice the immediate clench of her former
assistant's hand as he read that line. At least she did her best not
to grin, instead offering, "Looks like we're headed in the right
that he didn't want to relax, but he was finding natural
pessimism a lot easier these days. "You definitely recognize
she assured, "I had to read over pretty much every note that
Sarah took on the field, including inventories and letters to the
Tower. Her style would be hard to forge. Not impossible, I
suppose..." Rakashi had to stop and take stock of all of the
information that they had. Anything could be a trap, but
instinct swayed away from that possibility. She would still watch,
of course, be careful...
there was something, wasn't there? Not something about the note or
the writing, or even the information they were lacking. There was
something... off. Close-by. Something she couldn't quite place,
like a whisper in the distance...
something wrong?" Rean had noticed a change in her expression,
the woman having gone very still save for her eyes.
don't know." She answered honesty, softly. They'd come too far
to be lying to each other, to try to tell him that everything was
fine. Something felt very much... out of place. She just couldn't
pick out what, or why the feeling was getting stronger. "I
want you to stay here. I'll take a quick look around."
idea didn't really sit well with him. "What if--"
"Rean." She stopped him quietly
but firmly. "Lock this door when I
leave. And the one on the other side. Keep your pistol ready."
still didn't like the idea, but... "You're not a general
anymore." He muttered, already surrendering.
"True." She granted. "But out of
the two of us, shouldn't I be the one
to investigate what feels a little dangerous?"
was a good point. "Good luck, General." He found energy
enough to joke, and even to throw out a mock salute.
earned him a devious smile. "Lock these doors immediately."
"Yessir." He continued the gag,
following her if only to prove that he was
indeed locking the door the moment she stepped out.
a nod before she turned to walk away, she was glad to hear the slide
and thud of the old metal lock on the other side of that door. That
much done, she took a long look at her surroundings--which happened
to be another empty train car. With no one and no luggage in the
way, it gave her a quick chance to admire the landscape out the
windows. Rolling hills would turn into rocky cliffs, if they
followed the tracks long enough. They didn't plan to, Cheres being
somewhere under four hours on a good day. The sky was clear, at
were some bags in the next car, though from the looks of them they
were long abandoned. Likely picked clean of valuables and left
behind... though she wasn't really willing to check. Beyond the lack
of people, everything still seemed normal. Peaceful. That was why
she had one hand on the pistol the whole time she was advancing,
opening the door to the next car.
one was abandoned as well, void of even luggage. It was about the
third step in when Rakashi simply stopped. Without so much as being
aware of why, her footsteps merely halted.
Something did not feel
right. Like the last day of the Tower, like
of the conversations she never quite managed to overhear enough to
make sense of; there was something not completely in place. Something
very integral was... askew.
door across for her opened slowly. To her own surprise, she didn't
panic. Didn't move, didn't blink; only watched.
was a man, on the other side. Stepping through, coming closer.
it was not a man.
looked like a man. It looked human. But it wasn't. How she knew
that so easily, a fact beyond questioning, was something she didn't
understand. Unclear, unknown. But it was as true as all truths
she'd ever come to know.
was... disturbing. There was nothing visually wrong, out of place. No
smells or any other sensory element that seemed off. There was
just something deeply instinctual that was... wrong.
eyes, perhaps. The startlingly clear eyes full of color;
unnatural, shifting, kaleidoscope blue.
voice was what finally snapped her out of her paralyzing thoughts. It
too was human... but something deep inside of her very being told
her that it should not have been so. "Come on, Rakashi. Kill
the boy and come with me."
words themselves prompted her to pull the pistol and back away, the
sheer horror of the idea breaking whatever spell the eyes seemed to
have on her. She couldn't look at them, couldn't even let herself
acknowledge them. There was something... uncomfortably familiar
about those eyes...
No. Not familiar at all. Wrong.
Poisoned. Unnatural, damaged... not familiar.
aimed at his head, like always. Just like always. The military
liked prisoners, but she'd never taken chances.
time, however, she wasn't shooting. That same instinct that insisted
upon how off this man-looking thing was, was also telling her
that it knew something. Intricate... personal... important.
growled to herself, trying to shake the ridiculous thoughts from her
head. He was just some psychopath. Just some guy she might have
seen somewhere, looking for revenge.
she knew that wasn't true. "Who are you?" she finally
demanded, not willing to ask the real question of what he
he smiled--No, that is not a smile. People might mistake it for
that, but it's so far from smiling--she felt her chest tighten,
almost doubling over with a horrendous pain ripping through her
abdomen. She managed to keep the gun trained on him... but he must
have been perfectly aware of how weak her grip had gotten.
his voice was velvet all of a sudden, warm, soft... consuming. He
kept his distance, the voice something that would normally be found
to be beautiful, melting... but his otherworldly stare, his
not-quite-smile, kept her in pain. "You'll never find out if
you're so unwilling to do what must be done."
squeezed the trigger in response, finding it extremely unfortunate
that she missed due to the complete collapse of her legs from
underneath her. Upon trying again, all strength seemed to be bled
from her hands as the gun slipped from her grasp and skittered across
the floor. Winding her arms around herself while that agony crackled
like electricity through her chest and abdomen again, she focused on
trying not to pass out. Rakashi panted, glaring with every ounce of
power she had in her at whatever the fuck this thing was,
digging into consciousness with claws and raw determination not to be
thrown off so easily...
thud. And a damn loud one, at the door she'd come through. Someone
trying to break in... but she didn't remember locking the door behind
very purposeful thud, and the door bent inward with force. That odd
man-thing gave it a look similar to amusement, not appearing in the
least bit worried--then turned to look at the former general again. His
voice was soft, almost too soft to hear--but it resonated inside
of her. "When you're ready to know, you'll find me."
Darkness. Not a world dimmed, but
a world plunged into black. It was a bit
like losing hold of consciousness, but... colder.
Rean. Despite that
knowledge... she wasn't certain if she really wanted to
open her eyes or not. "You ignored my order." She didn't
quite accuse, surprised by how soft her voice sounded.
blinked. He'd just managed to dislodge a fucking locked metal
compartment door to get to her, finding her collapsed on the floor in
front of some really strange guy who quite literally bolted
through the window of a moving train. It wasn't a comment that
he expected. "Guess so."
was that?" she asked out of curiosity, finally aware enough to
realize that she was sitting up slightly, supported only by Rean's
arm. Well. Sweet, she supposed. Sitting fully upright on her own,
Rakashi let her eyes open--wincing when there was still a slight
residual pain in her chest. Maybe the broken window in front of her
said enough about what had wound up happening.
was actually a bit relieved that she didn't sound mad about the
situation. Not that he'd have cared that much. "A feeling, at
first. Then that gunshot..." Though he did fail to mention the
part about not wanting to spend another minute in that empty car,
just waiting. Good thing, obviously. "And... that guy was..?"
shook her head, acute pain shooting through it for only a second as
she tried to picture his face again, his eyes... then gave up for the
time being. There were too many ways to answer that question, and
she couldn't be sure of details. She just didn't know. But... she
was sure, beyond any doubt, that she should have known.
going to need to accept this order at all costs."
was looking away from him. That seemed... wrong. "Y-yeah...?"
words were easier than they should have been. "If I start
acting strangely... very strangely, dangerously toward you... you're
going to have to kill me without hesitation."
was very glad she was still looking away just then. He couldn't
imagine how uncertain and wounded his look of surprise must have
been. "What happened?"
long silence followed. "I don't know." It was simply the
most honest answer that she could give.