Description: Unknown hitmen target a gang of youthful delinquents. Honoka and Zach Glenn come across the grieving Darkstalker, Shira Hebi. They take her away from the pain and suffering, and the seeds of a new friendship are planted. Shira also absolutely ruins a Denny's buffet.
A normal night in the slightly seedier end of Tokyo. The nightlife is going strong, with night clubs, bars, and less legal forms of entertainment going strong. Love is gained, lost, and the seeds of such are planted in many lives, both fighters and otherwise. And yet, tragedy lurks in the night as well.
Just as the night starts to wind down for most club-goers, down an alleyway, there's the sudden crack of firearms and screams. Grunts and other sounds of violence. They go on for a good two minutes as the rapport of weapons clash, before finally things go silent. Boots hit the ground, and a single unmarked black sedan roars to life outside one club, with masked figures leaping in. The car squeals its tires as it takes off.
Out from the dark alleyway, barely lit from the moon high in the sky, comes a young man. He's fit, handsome, if a little dirty that speaks to juvenile crime and wearing the colors of a small, local gang. He clutches his chest before falling to the ground, moaning. The young man can't even see anymore, so on the brink of life and death is he. Deeper in the alleyway, a shadow leaps from above.
The young man calls out as his vision grows dim.
"S...save big sis! Somebody! Please! Nnnngh! J...just save big sis and Cutty!" He mumbles, blood leaking from his chest.
"...Wake up. Wake up. Wake up." Comes a flat voice, hints of feminine and a blunted, desperate plea in her voice from deep within the alleyway.
Zach Glenn was enjoying the evening. He had, through an insane match, earned a belt in the recent Phoenix Championship series. More importantly, he was on a date with /Honoka/. The first one since Sudo pretty much demanded that Zach cut the vacation short. The pair leave a nightclub that Honoka had brought them too; Zach didn't know the night scene in SouthTown all that well yet.
"Are you /sure/ you're okay," Zach asks, concern and amusement sharing equal parts of the tone of voice. "We could call a-"
And then the young man stumbles out of the alleyway with a serious chest wound. Glenn immediately places himself between Honoka and the bleeding man as he shrugs out of his jacket. "Call an ambulance," he says to Honoka quickly, rolling the man over to get a better look.
Honoka was dressed for a night out on the town -- a short dress in dark violet, a stylized dragon pattern in a lighter shade slithering across it. A matching purple jacket rests upon her shoulders -- though it's not being worn properly, suggesting that she's been dancing. Simple pumps with flat heels make for some fun dance moves without adding much to the woman's height. And from the sound of it, she's had a bit to drink tonight, which gives the background for Zach's comment. "Geez, am I not allowed to get a little tip, tip... tipsy?!"
It takes her a few moments to realize that Zach's not even really listening to her, or that he's not -beside- her any more. "What the..." The second psion scrunches her forehead, trying to force some clarity into her mind as she gets a more precise picture of what -exactly- is going on here. Fleeing figures. Dying figures, in pain. One hand reaches to the smallish purse hanging around her shoulder, though as she realizes Zach is standing guard, she hesitates.
Call an ambulance, she's told. Honoka frowns, grappling with the thought itself. A unique opportunity has presented itself... and she opts to hesitate. On purpose. "What... what is it?"
Zach rolls the young man over. It's not good at all: a double tap straight through the heart by the looks of things and how much blood there is. He doesn't have very long at all. A weak hand tries to shove Zach away, then points to the alleyway. Thug or not, this little gang is built on loyalty.
"Guh...hah hah...too late for me. If..if...Big Sis and Cutty are okay...then...worth...nngh!" The man shudders, curls slightly, and then goes limp as spirit and body give out.
Honoka doesn't get a verbal response from the man as he finally sheds his mortal shell. But to the psychics in the party, there's something far more important. Amidst those whispered words, there's also /feelings/ deeper in the alleyway. They're muted, oddly so for a person. But they're still there. Pain. Despair. Mourning and loss. But it doesn't take a psychic to figure that much out, as slowly there's the sound of someone walking out of the alleyway. A body is cradled in the malnurished, slightly stretched, white-haired visage of the Darkstalker, Shira Hebi. Her dress-sweater is stained with the blood of a black-haired woman, limp and unresponsive. Shira's face, usually so impassive, has her large eyes narrowed to thin slits and tears streaming down them. But there's a spark of life, at least, in those eyes for a moment as she spies the two.
"...Ah...you two..." Comes the monotone voice of the woman. She pauses.
"...Make Big Sis wake up. Please." To someone like Zach, he might recognize the hint in her voice, and even mind: shock. The snake-woman, barely into adulthood, is in physical and mental denial of the dead bodies around her. As the moon rises a little higher, it reveal the corpses of more men and women, twelve in all, dressed in similar colors. All professional shots through vital areas.
Not mere gang violence. This was a professional hit on these young delinquents. They just missed the odd one.
"He's been /shot/," Zach says, "In /Japan/. I thought gun laws were crazy strict around here. I can't close him up now, it'd-" And then the man makes his last request.
Zach /feels/ it when the man dies at his feet. He tenses up, both physically and mentally when the person comes out of the alleyway with another body. He takes about a half second to realize what it is he is seeing here, to recognize Shira if not exactly for what she is, then to at least be able to ballpark it.
Zach's right hand is out to his side, opening and then closing as if gripping something.
Honoka knows pretty much all of these signs: the mental walls going up, the posture, the readiness of Zach's body to launch into action. Tonight, though, she gets something new: there is an image in Zach's mind that is as clear as day. A sword. One Honoka has only see on very few occassions as Zach has gone out of his way, as a concession to her, to keep out of her sight.
Shot, in Japan. The juggler's boyfriend sounds so -surprised- at this -- as if the illegality of firearms in Japan is any impediment to their use by criminals. How -else-, she asks, are talentless criminals supposed to deal with people who can wield chi as a weapon?
Her thoughts are conflicted, though -- aggravated by the last gasps of the man at Zach's feet. Almost immediately, Honoka rushes forward to comfort the man as his life force ebbs away. Kneeling before him while she notes her boyfriend tensing up, the woman with pink highlights in her hair has an advantage that the darkstalker does not: there is effectively zero chance of Zach turning that sword on her.
Belatedly, she senses the fortifications raising, and her closeness to the man allows her insight that she wouldn't have for many others. Exhaling sharply, she closes her eyes and reaches out to roll the man's eyelids shut. He will not be needing those open any more, she senses -- it all happened too quickly.
The filter that normally interposes itself between her thoughts and her mouth is diminished by the alcohol. With death present all around her, patience is at a minimum. There's two people hurting here, darkstalker or otherwise. Her voice drops nearly a full octave -- her emotional will honed to sharp intensity. "... What the hell are you doing, Zach...? You heard them both -- quit messin' around and help her!"
Shira might not be the most experienced in the world, but she /does/ know a thing or two about fighting. Her muted, nearly empty heart gives her something of an advantage in this situation. She's in the greatest emotional pain that she's ever experienced, that she can barely conceive of, and yet her muscles clench. Her too-long tongue pulls out a knife from her arm-holsters to dangle oddly. Her hand slips lower to something on the dead young woman's belt. A large knife, not unlike a butcher knife. The handle is touched, but most of her attention is on keeping the body in her arms safe.
The snakess is a coiled serpent, wary, ready to strike, but not stupid enough to simply lash out. At least, not yet. Sorrow and pain are tinged with an animal-like survival instinct. Fight or flight is growing in her mind as those slitted eyes burrow into both Zach and Honoka.
Shira looks down as Honoka closes one of her friends, one of her /family's/ eyes. More tears stream down. A toe pushes at the man. Again. Then stronger. It's a simple gesture, even as her arms and body tremble. Wake up. She whispers it again. Wake up.
And then, the snake turns her eyes to Honoka, and they widen. She seems to make a choice, and passes the body to Zach and Honoka, setting her down gently.
She's already dead, by at least ten minutes. There's the slightest traces of chi still fleeing from the body, but the two are far too late. The Darkstalker falls to her knees, weak, hurting, and utterly hanging on the words and abilities of both before her.
"Hikari. Her name is Hikari. Can you save her?" She finally just asks, voice growing colder by the second as she feels something in her dieing.
Zach does not turn away from the Darkstalker, but his eyes /do/ move to Honoka's at the tone of her voice. It's enough of a shock to allow Zach the moment he needs to apply logic and critical thinking to the situation.
The woman, the /alive/ woman, is wearing colors similar to the dead people. She doesn't have a gun on her, and while she could have easily ditched the firearm, most Darkstalkers Zach has encountered have little use for the tools.
Glenn closes his eyes and forces the fight or flight instincts down with a long exhalation. "Sorry," Zach murmurs to Honoka as he makes his way over to the body of the woman, who is very clearly dead to visual inspection. Zach checks for a pulse with two fingers at the carotid artery, then leans his head over the woman's mouth and nose to listen and feel for breathing. That movement puts his eyes right on the pair of bullet holes in her shirt, and the blood stains.
He stands back up, and doesn't look at Hikari or the darkstalker. He does something else, something he's normally loathe to do.
<<She's gone,>> Zach thinks to Honoka. <<Stay here with the girl while I go check something out.>> With that, the former Marine heads into the alley to start inspecting the bodies.
Intoxication is not the kindest to psions, especially not ones who rely on the subtle extrasensory information to provide a clearer picture of the world around them. If she were completely sober, she may have been able to sense the difference between the recently departed Hikari and the person holding her so tightly. She stares back at the snake, reading the emotions painted clearly upon her face, and offers a respectful half-frown. It's not disapproval, in this form, but rather an expression of sympathy.
One glance is spared towards Zach as the one more predisposed to healing gives his verdict of the situation. She looks back down to Hikari. And draws in her breath, fighting down the urge to gag at the scent of all the fresh blood.
And despite knowing nothing of the darkstalker, she knows that -- regardless of what's happened -- she sees only a young woman in need of support. There's a chance that the stranger could lash out, could strike back at her. But Honoka is well aware of her own psychic abilities, both conscious and subconscious. And in Honoka's own experience, if she remains calm and nonconfrontational, her abilities tend to spread that sentiment to those around her.
If Shira allows it, the Twilight Star performer will wrap her arms about her, pulling her into a close embrace. Honoka does not address the question -- she has a feeling the snake knows the answer. "I'm sorry."
No reaction at first from Shira. She vaguely watches the man walk past her, but then she's gazing at the fallen woman, and then up to Honoka. Slitted eyes remain there, hope dying in her eyes and in her heart. She's always been cold, but the events of this night are swiftly burning her human portion to dust. Her mouth is open, fangs dripping gently. She has half a mind to plunge them into her own arm with the deadly venom. That tongue drops the knife, and licks her own.
It's much the same in the alleyway. The gunfight was sudden, several of the young gangsters caught from behind. Small arms fire, neat and clean. So taken, they barely had a chance to fight back. The alleyway leads to a small, abandoned warehouse. The door's open. Likely from where reinforcements came.
Not a single one is alive. But there's plenty of shell casings. And a single dropped firearm near a blood splatter. Perhaps one of the gangsters managed to hurt the assailants?
Shira's eyes never leave Hikari's fallen body. But the darkstalker doesn't at all resist as she's drawn in. Right now, she's defenseless. And for a woman like HOnoka, completely vulnerable to her. A horrible event. But an opportunity.
Shira buries her head in Shira's shoulder. She goes limp in the other woman's arms.
For a good five minutes, she gently shudders and sobs, grief overcoming the snake's innate dullness. Her human portion takes over, as she openly cries, taking comfort in another's presence and warmth.
And then, just as quickly, those eyes dull, serpentine yellows peering into Honoka's own. That large blade is in her hand. Yet, there's no intent to harm. She holds it like a treasure, the slightly dirty, odd, malnurished delinquent's face turning to stone. And purpose.
"...Gone." She says simply. Then, she pulls away.
"I want to find who did this. And cut them." She says, hissing.
And then she peers back to Honoka. "Can you help me?"
Zach's eye flick to the bodies, to the blood, to the weapon laying on the ground. This wasn't a fight so much as a slaughter. He and Honoka can /not/ stay here. Not for very long. He's not sure what he is thinking when he scoops the gun up in his jacket, but Zach quickly makes his way out of the alley.
"We need to /go/," Zach states quietly but emphatically. "We can talk about this somewhere else, but we can't stay here. We can call in an anonymous tip when we're clear of the scene." Zach thinks for a moment.
"Not my place, either," he reckons. "Too far from here." He looks to Honoka, his concern evident.
In another time, in another place, Honoka might have a completely different answer for the snake-woman. But it would certainly share some similiarities: the comfort, the confidence, the reassurance. The scene is a grisly one, and reporting it as Zach had originally suggested would have worked out to be a disaster.
Honoka -hates- talking to police officers, for one. And being present at the scene of a crime where twelve lay dead is... well, that'll be one real downer for what would have otherwise been a great night. Not as if this itself isn't, but.
Honoka meets the young woman's eyes. And nods quietly -- mutely. Her reassurance is communicated clearly, even without words, even without her expression betraying anything. The psion doesn't -need- to speak to make her intentions clear.
Honoka squeezes the young woman's shoulders as she looks up to Zach, knowingly. She nods once to him. And without another word, she releases the woman, letting the fingers of her right hand linger for just a moment more -- an unspoken suggestion to follow.
He's right. And while she doesn't know what the survivor's intentions or allegiances are, she has an expectation that this might turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Her fingers reach to the purse at her side again, extracting a cellphone. She keys in her lock code, and then makes a few more button presses as she walks -- giving the survivor one more hand gesture to follow.
A half a block away, another black van rolls into view, keeping to the shadows as it draws to a stop. The door slides open -- and Honoka is walking straight towards it.
Zach is a prophet, or at least he knows how the justice system works. Southtown's finest are on the way, judging by the sirens from some ways off. Enough time to get out of the area, at least.
Shira is good at non-verbal communication. Actually, it's usually for the best. She pauses, leans down, and mimicks Zach's motion for the dead woman. Lingering just a moment, she leans in, and kisses her forehead.
"Going." She adds to the pair.
And then she's running along, keeping up both with her odd zig-zag, slithering motions more like a serpent than a human. Her eyes are those of a fighter and an animal, if inexperienced, but sharp. She keeps an eye out for others tailing them. Anyone who might get too close out of the civilians? There's hunger and bloodshed in her eyes tonight, and it's enough to scare them off running alongside her appearance.
Into the van she goes, sitting down inside without a question. She's committed, even as she turns to her saviors.
"...Shira. Shira Hebi." She finally offers. One final shiver, and she relaxes into dull detachment. Her tongue tastes the air, and generally waggles outside of her mouth. If one of the two are near her? She'll lean on them, exhausted, physically and mentally.
"Big sis said I should be nice to people who help. Thank you." She adds as an afterthought.
Zach nods once as he climbs into the van first, turning to help the other two people into the vehicle. He gives Sudo a nod of greeting. "Enjoying a night on the town, Sudo," Zach asks amiably. He had to be, given how quickly the van got here. Or else this was business? Hard to say, and even moreso to know.
"She-Shira needs to stay low for a while," Zach says quietly to Sudo. He quickly, and accurately, describes the scene to Sudo. "Whoever the shooters were, they had skills. If they know she survived, they may come back for her."
Honoka is pleased, at least, to know that the fleeting thoughts of striking down the darkstalker have been pushed out of Zach's mind. If there's one thing that the fresh-faced performer would like people to remember her for, it's compassion, and not cold-blooded murder -- or supporting someone who did.
Not to say that her -darker- personality would mind, but... that's not a side she's willing to show Zach. Not yet. Though he may question exactly how she was able to reach her personal bodyguard so quickly, when the pair wasn't dropped off by said bodyguard.
Sudo himself gives nothing away. "Was," is his succinct reply, as he keeps his eyes on the road. He has to: to make sure that no one is keeping a watchful eye on the group. Likewise, the other Twilight Star security personnel -- folks that Zach would have shared drinks with, folks who abandon their seats for the three incoming personages -- are scanning the alleys for anyone else who might keep an eye on the group. "On it," affirms Sudo, doing his job.
As Shira takes a seat, Honoka takes the now-empty seat beside her. She reaches down, withdrawing a bottle of water from the mini-fridge she knows to be there, and hands it over to Shira. "Honoka," offers the juggler with a reassuring smile.
The door slams shut, and one of the security personnel slips into the van's shotgun seat. After a moment to place the vehicle in gear, the van slips off into the night.
Honoka remains quiet with the vehicle in motion, closing her eyes and exhaling slowly as she sets her cellphone and her purse beside her -- two items left within Shira's reach.
<< Just keep a lookout for now. We all need to catch our breaths. >>
Thankfully, no one seems to follow Sudo as they pull away. Not long after, the police are on the scene. Evidence is tagged, bagged, and bodies carted off. The investigation will prove next to useless: no fingerprints, little usable dna that isn't the victims. Likely to be swept under the rug of Southtown's legal system.
The bodyguards, including Zach, all get eyed. Shira looks them each up and down, before finally getting the measure of Honoka. Shira lets out a few breaths, fatigue catching up. When that water is offered? She sweeps it up with her tongue, cracks off the top, and starts sucking down the water fast enough to crumple the water bottle into a little deformed square.
She then spits out the cap and square thoughtlessly. Snake-throats are weird, and she doesn't exactly have good manners.
"Mmm. Tasty." She mutters. Then her stomach growls loudly. She hasn't eaten in three days. Her gaze looks to Honoka's, then Zachs. Does she even need words?
"Honoka. You're nice. Like big sis." Starts Shira, nodding to herself. Then to Zach.
"Big. Strong. Protector? You keep Little Sis safe?" Honoka now has a nickname.
Then, another nod. "...You're too clean to be like us. Not a gang. Ah. Where am I going to live now?" Her question turns in on herself. She has no answer right now. Her head tilts, reptilian and confused.
Zach is doing just as much to keep an eye out as the other security people when Shira asks her question to Zach. He chuckles a little bit before jerking a thumb at Sudo. "That's more his job than mine," he says with amusement. He turns back to Sudo.
"Looks like we're going to need to get some food in her first," Zach offers to Sudo. "Time for Denny's. The one in Kichijoji. I'll treat."
Zach spares Honoka a glance before sending another thought her way. He's not sure if Sudo and the others will 'hear' it; his control of such a thing is spotty at best. <<This is still a dangerous situation, and the only thing we know about her is that she is definitely not human.>> Zach mentions to Honoka. <<Are you sure about this?>>
Honoka had been concerned before -- the alcohol had taken the edge off, but without actual threats of violence, the performer feels she has enough martial arts prowess to hold her own against the snake woman. Especially with a darkstalker-wary boyfriend at her side. But the concern had bled off once she'd stepped into a position of familiarity and control...
The anxiety comes scrabbling right back to the forefront once the water bottle is practically consumed. Eyes widen, and Honoka's jaw hangs open. There's drinking water, and there's -what Shira just did-.
Simply -hearing- the stomach growling is an understatement. She can feel the hunger -- she can sense the reptilian eyes on her, and the intentions as they turn towards Zach.
Honoka is quite aware of Zach's current orientation against darkstalkers. After defending the last bastion of humanity against hordes of transformed monstrosities, it's unlikely that Zach's concept of a 'good time' could include spending a van ride locked with them. Which is why Honoka remains kind of quiet at first -- she's busy sending good vibes over to Zach, to reassure him that they're really not in any danger from this woman. And, for the moment, they're -not- taking her to the circus -- the Denny's in Kichijoji was her idea. It's far enough out of the city that they can spot tails if need be, and close enough to public transit that they can make an escape if need be, even at this hour of night.
<< I know, Zach. It'll be the best meal she's had in her life, a gift from two total strangers, and then we go on about our business. Maybe with a new friend. Just don't get stabby on her, 'kay? >> She offers a friendly smile to Zach, with a brief but playful glint in her eye.
All that transpires in a couple moments... as she turns back to Shira with a reassuring smile, as the police reports start filtering across in the background: the person riding shotgun had turned on the police scanner. No need to call the police, it would seem. "... One step at a time. You're safe now, but... the next priority is food."
She calmly reaches into the mini-fridge for a second bottle of water, in case Shira is -still- thirsty after all those tears.
The man's practiced build, and his words about Sudo are met with a nod. Shira can be a bit simple at times, and she simply takes it at face value.
"I see. Little Sis has strong friends and protectors." She offers in that deadpan voice.
Denny's. Food. This will most certainly be a treat for the young gang-snake. She's used to rooting around for food, or stealing it for her friends.
Shira wipes off a little drool. Her stomach makes itself known again. "Nice people. Very nice people." A glance to the purse.
"Won't steal." She finally adds. Nod nod. These people are helping her with her predicament. And they're /feeding/ her. The snake's mind quickly makes measures, and then, attachments. Food and safety. More than enough to get her interest. Shira is a bit like a stray cat, after all.
The psychic discourse is, of course, lost on her. She's utterly without that talent. She'll keep to her inhumanity and poison-chi.
That water bottle gets taken, and again, it's sucked down with tongue and jaws. Her arms are tired from holding her far larger Big Sis, after all. The movements are just natural to the snake, and she clearly has no fear of being mistaken for not human. Her gang had been accepting, after all.
Food. Definitely offering food. Her head tilts.
"Safe. Food." She echoes.
And then both hands rise, and reach out...to pull her stoney, cold face into a 'smile'. It's debateable if she can't produce a real smile, or if she can't feel enough to do it.
"...Big Sis said I should smile. 'Less creepy'. Hard. Not sure what she meant." There's definitely fangs in that mouth, and sharp pointy-teeth that look like they could do horrible things.
Snap. She lets go. Hands go to her side bonelessly. The tired snake then curls up on her side, and sleeps fitfully the entire way to Denny's. She calls out names many times, nightmares plaguing her.
She might not be rested, but the pair find out two things after the Denny's 'experience':
#1: Snakes, even Darkstalkers, swallow their food whole.
#2: A young, teenaged darkstalker can flat out ruin a buffet. They may or may not be banned from this one thanks to Shira.
Log created on 18:44:58 01/10/2016 by Shira Hebi, and last modified on 22:49:31 01/10/2016.