The eleventh chapter of Tengoku Senshi, one of three stories that I posted on my blog. It is meant to be a placeholder till I finish preparing the story I have planned for this site.
Chapter 11: One Quick Shot
Coiling around a hill like a snake around its prey, an iron beast moved along a track with steam billowing from its horn. With a whistling roar, it alerted the people who stood on a platform to its slowing approach, and with a screech, it came to a stop as the doors came open. As people began to disembark from the train, Sakuya walked up to the platform with her group close behind. In their eyes, as they stared at the train that was almost ready for its new passengers to board, there was a hint of hesitation, and unspoken words in their throat.
“I don’t want to,” Sakuya said, still a bit hesitant as she fiddled with the ticket she had slid into her pockets. “But we can’t risk walking. Even if that Annalin woman keeps her promise we have no reason to think that she can’t fail.” She said as she thought back to what she had learned when she found her distraught allies on the universities stairs.
“It may be for the best that she found us though.” Lloyd spoke out, trying his hardest to convince someone of something. “If anyone knows whereabouts the other members of that group are, it’s her, and since Aeriane did so well we can at least half-hope she’ll hold them back. “ He said, but all confidence faded from his voice as he realized his attempts were futile.
“Lloyd,” Sakuya replied. “Don’t be so hard on yourself, had you not told us about Tasou it would be in a worse condition than it is in now.” She smiled and Lloyd nodded, even though he realized her attempts were futile as well.
The call of a conductor drew their attention to the train, and joining the queue that lined up, they prepared to get in. One by one, each person was aboard the train, till finally Sakuya and the others boarded and headed to their place of rest. It was a small compartment, barely big enough to hold all five, but with little difficulty, they squeezed in with Sakuya at the door. She looked upon her friends and allies with a bit of disdain as she acknowledged the discomfort the quarters put them in, but resolved that it was for the greater good as she recalled her plan in her mind. First, they’d board the train and stay on it till it got to Satsugano, the city where the Court of Irra set up its Hokutaga base. The ride would be short, no more than a day, but till then Lloyd would stay in the quarters, remaining as much out of sight as possible. Aeriane and Takeshi would stay in their too, till night fell and then they’d patrolled in shifts. Till then, Sakuya was going to be the most mobile as she would look out for any threats.
“Um…” Jasmine raised her hand and Sakuya became alert. “Could I get something to eat?” She asked and Sakuya laughed to herself as she realized food had slipped her mind.
“Of course. Everyone should tell me what they want and I’ll have a cart brought back here.” She said and without restraint, orders were dealt, and Sakuya submitted them to memory as she left the compartment and closed the door behind her.
The hallway was gold and red set, golden walls lined with lights that danced as the train chugged down its tracks, and red carpets with golden finishes. It swallowed the sound of her footsteps as she followed her nose to the dining cart, and just briefly felt the rushing winds blow her hair as she stepped between the carts and slid open the door. She shivered a little as she closed in behind herself, and then smiled at nostalgia as she remembered her first time in this kind of room. The smell of different assortments of food, and the subtle sound of people talking. She had found someone aboard the train to play with, and as her parents chatted with that child’s parent, she was running back and forth. It warmed her as she thought back to her youth, and how that was the first trip they had taken together, then let her smile fall sullen as she shuddered at it being the last. For a moment, she stood there, trapped between the throws of happy nostalgia and eventual sorrow, before she realized she had to continue and moved through the room. Once more it was gold and red, but this time white joined it as she saw people sitting at white tables on red plush. She took a seat on a stool at the counter, and smile to the man behind it as she gave him a nod. To her left a gruff man was sitting, chin stubble carelessly ignored, and a light brown over coat falling from his back. His brown eyes had found a target of interest as he flirted with a woman behind the counter, making her laugh with every cheap line as Sakuya nonchalantly watched him set her up for a question.
“What would you like, young miss?” The man behind the counter asked and shocked her out of her eavesdropping.
“I don’t suppose I could have a cart of food brought to my room?” She asked and a nod replied as the man smiled a pulled a clipboard from under the counter.
“Room number and order please.” He spoke with a pen at the ready and Sakuya prepared to speak, before a flyer fell onto the table.
“But enough of that chitchat, I can’t keep any of those promises if I don’t get my job done.” The man next to her had spoken and she tried to glance at the flyer, half hidden by his resting arms. “Have you seen this man?” He said as he held the flyer up to the woman, and once more Sakuya found herself trying to take a glance.
“I’m afraid not.” The woman he spoke to replied.
“May I see?” Sakuya asked, and with a bit of hesitation the man turned the flyer toward her and watched her eyes go wide.
“So you know this man, huh?” He asked and Sakuya’s eyes narrowed as she stared at the 30-something year old who held the paper up. The paper that taunted her so easily, smelling and looking like a poster, from Bastion no less. On it, with a face that told her he had no idea what the picture would be used for, was Lloyd, and written under his name was “Wanted: Alive,” and a 50,000 lyril bounty.
“Yes…” She gulped and the man smiled as he took to his feet.
“Thanks little lady, my names Kirk Hemmings, look me up when we get into town and I’ll pay you for your help.” A name was given as the man patted his low cut brown hair.
“Follow me.” Sakuya said as she stood up. “I’ll take you to where I saw him.” She said, and Kirk smiled as he followed behind.
Footsteps once swallowed by the volume of the carpet, were now louder than anything in the room was, as Sakuya led Kirk through the dining cart. Each step thundered like a drum, deafening the chatter around her, as she stepped down, and stepped up from the red carpet with Kirk right behind. The click of the opening door crackled like lightning and once more she felt the brisk breeze as she stepped out the cart and stood there for a second, waiting, till she heard the click of the closing door. With that, something snapped inside her and quickly Sakuya swung her leg around, missing Kirk as he ducked, then grunting as he jumped forward and pushed her into the wall.
“Come on little lady, I’ve been a bounty hunter for seventeen years now. What makes you think I wouldn’t be able to recognize a bodyguard when I see one?” He said with a smirk on his face, as he held her there.
“You may be able to recognize one…” She said as her eyes met his. “But you’re no good at recognizing disadvantageous, are you?” She smirked and Kirk’s faded as he tried to comprehend her words.
There was a sudden shock through his body as Sakuya’s knee crashed into his stomach, then a sting to his face as her fist swung around. Dazed, he fell to the side and grabbed a ladder, then quickly pulled himself up it as Sakuya kicked forward and he watched the railing bend. He ran across the trains top and looked toward Sakuya as she joined him on top it, and let out a sigh of exhaustion.
“Come on girly, I can see you aren’t a bad person so don’t make me have to do this.” He said and Sakuya shook her head.
“Funny, I was going to say the same thing.” She replied and Kirk sighed again.
“Okay, so you know how to fight. But do you really think I don’t?” He asked and Sakuya nodded.
“No I don’t, but I do think you don’t know the benefit of discipline and more than that…” She said as she swung her arms and from both bell sleeves, daggers fell out. “I know you’re unarmed!” Her conclusion was as sharp as the blades held in her hands.
“Hunh… Well I needed a new overcoat anyway.” Kirk said as he pulled his overcoat from his body, and let it get carried away by the wind.
Under the coat that had all but hidden his wear, was the type of simple outfit Sakuya expected a man like him to wear. Black pants, and a black shirt so simply worn, so futile to protect him against the knives she’d swing. With haste, she was off with her daggers held behind her, and as the distance was closed, she swung them around and missed as Kirk stepped back. She dipped as his left fist bolted forward, and ducked as his right swung around, tearing into his side in his lapsed defense and watching blood splatter onto the carts top. Pulling herself right, she dodged as Kirk’s knee came up then, rolled as his elbow came down. Rising to slash the back of his neck, she felt a powerful blow hit her side, and stalled long enough for another to hit her face. One, two, three, she could only count as the pain left her halted again, and she felt the hits come in, first to the right jaw, then the chin, and then the left to top it off, all before Kirk’s mighty leg swung up and she was forced to withstand it all. Like a mountain Sakuya stood as Kirk’s leg crashed into her, and she watched him pull the obviously bruise limb back as he realized his attack did no good. He shuddered as he had to let his weight onto it, and only barely turned as Sakuya jumped forward, swinging her dagger out. Blood sprang from his right cheek as a scar opened up, and he wondered when in that split second did the blade touch his face. His wonders were soon slain as Sakuya turned and swung her dagger up, but this time Kirk gained some distance and stared at the blades again.
“What is it…?” He accidently said aloud, and Sakuya’s sharp stare gave him an answer.Nothing you’ll notice soon enough to change this battle.
A sharp stare turned into sharp movement, as Sakuya charged once again, and Kirk watched, not sure, if he could actually see her move. He punched out when he was sure she was upon him, but instead of hitting anything, he felt blood stream from his arms as three scars opened up. He turned as he heard Sakuya’s feet behind him, but felt a thunderous blow before he saw her as a black-clad-leg swung around and knocked him off his feet. As he flew, something suddenly occurred to him, and helplessly his hands flailed out as the train continued down the track and left him behind. He crashed and rolled with nothing else to do and roared in pain as he hit the rails before finally overcoming the pain. Staggering, he rose to his feet and took a look toward the train and Sakuya, whom he could barely see, standing on top of it.
“Great, that didn’t go well.” He grunted as he tried to imagine how many bones that fall had broken. “And I had a date too.” He grimaced as he looked back toward the platform, and wondered if he’d get to it before the pain knocked him out…