Monday, March 30, 2015

MMnTB Chapter 10

"Noboru . . . Shou?" Takeo said, staring at the grinning Hibiki Natsuiro who wasn't Hibiki Natsuiro right now.

"That's right," he said with a deep, exaggerated bow. "Allow me to introduce myself once more. How do you do? My name is Noboru Shou. I am a rival, good friend, and admirer of Satoru of the Yasabou Clan. Or at least I was before he abandoned his place in the Yasabou and changed so drastically that I can't even recognize him anymore. He's really let himself go, turning into some kind of teddy bear."

"What the hell is it that you're after with all this weird crap?" Takeo demanded to know. "What? You want to bring that teddy bear bastard back home? Is that it? So, it's all his fault?"

He was starting to lose control. A lot of heat was gathering and the only way he was going to be free of it was through some venting.

"Takeo-san!" Michiko warned, but it was much too late.

Suddenly, there was a blur of motion and Hibiki Natsuiro was in front of Takeo, his nose just a centimeter away from Takeo's. His face was several times darker than the night.

"I really don't like your attitude," he said. There was a dangerous glint in his eyes. Light bounced off those wild pupils, giving him the impression of a demon. "But then again, that just goes to show how far Satoru has fallen."

What the hell? Takeo couldn't move. It was as if he was frozen in a block of ice or something like that.

"You don't have to test him!" Michiko cried out, making Takeo flinch. "The other members of the clan are doing that as well, so leave outsiders out of this!"

Suddenly, he was on her now. She flinched and took a step back away from Hibiki. Although staring at him with fearful eyes, she never broke eye contact.

"Please, those fools never understood Satoru before! How could they ever adequately test Satoru? But I'm different. I know him inside and out. We both share the same dreams. And for those dreams to be realized, I need him to be at the top of his game. He will face trials of my design, all custom-made to allow the dreams we have for the future realized."

"And h-how do you intend to test him?" Michiko managed to stammer out.

"How, indeed?" said the person possessing Hibiki. "Well, how do you test a meddler? By getting him meddling of course! This might come to you as a surprise, but your brother was quite the busybody back in the day. Although he seemed aloof to everyone else, he had been butting in on a lot of affairs that were really, even in my opinion, none of his business. Actually, when I noticed this, I first felt sick to my stomach that a guy like him would be my superior and rival. But after seeing the results, that just made me all the more in awe of him."

"So, you're going to keep pulling innocent bystanders into this?"

"There seems to be something you're misunderstanding, future Yasahime-sama," said Noboru Shou. "This person here, (Hibiki, was it?) has way worse problems than you think. I'm just giving things a little push so he can get the help he needs."

"And why would he need help? He's already got you, doesn't he?"

"Hm?" went Noboru, glancing back. "Ho~. I'm impressed. You have more resilience than I thought."

It was a real struggle for Takeo to move at all. But he managed to break free of the paralysis that the prick put him under. Still, his back and forehead was drenched in sweat. His breathing was ragged. And his hands wouldn't stop shaking.

"Haven't you been paying attention at all? No, I suppose not. This is supposed to be Satoru's test. This world needs meddlers like Satoru used to be. And helping out while getting him back on his feet is like killing two birds with one stone."

"Oh, I'm sure Natsuiro really appreciates you hijacking him like this," Takeo growled.

Noboru laughed. It was a loud, unrestricted insane laugh.

"You seriously have no idea what he's going through," he said. "Well, I suppose I should have expected this. Say, you know that story about how this guy put the leader of a gang of ne'er-do-wells in the hospital?"

"What about it?" Takeo spat out.

"Well, it really is true that it's this guy's fault that the leader's in the hospital, but that's really not all there is to it. Since this is Satoru's first test, I'll be a nice guy and give him a hint to solving this case. So be sure to pass along a message for me, 'kay?"

Takeo clenched his teeth and fist. He really wanted to hit the guy, but Michiko cut in.

"You have a deal," she said. "Now tell us."

"Look into the leader of the gang prior to Hibiki Natsuiro's reign and you might understand just what is making this poor guy suffer. But you better hurry. The longer it takes, the more wild this little trinket is going to make him. And who knows what'll happen to him."

Then he fainted.

"Hey!" Takeo cried out. He caught the guy before he could hit the ground. Hibiki soon stirred and pushed Takeo away before getting back on his feet. 

"Hey!" Michiko protested. "Is that anyway to treat a guy trying to help you out?"

"I don't remember asking you for help," Hibiki said. "Who are you?"

"By the way you're acting, you're not that Noboru bastard, are you?" Takeo surmised.

"Who?" Hibiki said with a confused look in his eye. Then he shook his head and brushed the two off. "Whatever. I'm out of here."

"Hey!" Takeo stopped Hibiki before he could reach the street.

"What?" Hibiki said. "Want to fight? I'm not in the mood, but I will take you down if that's what it takes for a peon like you to stop bothering me."

"Rumor had it that you sent the boss who took you in to the hospital," Takeo said. "That true?"

"Is that all?" Hibiki said, a crooked grin forming on his face. "Yeah, that's right. I'm the one who got the boss, probably the first person ever to show me some genuine kindness, get hurt so bad that there's no way anyone would be able to walk again after experiencing what that idiot went through."

"You-!"

"Now if that's all, I really got to be going now. I got an inheritance with my name on it, and I want it to stay that way."

He gave Takeo and Michiko one last condescending look and disappeared into the night.

"Tch!" went Takeo. "Damn obnoxious bastard."

"Which one?" Michiko asked.

"Does it matter? Damn it. Well, we found out what we had to. Let's go home already."

"Hold on," Michiko said, pulling out her phone. "I have to call Onii-sama."

No sooner did she push a button, thunder roared above their heads along with light flashing so bright that nighttime turned to day for a good ten seconds.

**********

Winding back to a few minutes ago . . .

The color drained from Satoru's face. 

"I see we are finally on the same page," said the robed man. "I don't need to tell you what he is capable of. You experienced the full of his power firsthand."

Noboru Shou was the only one who Satoru ever struggled with in a sparring match. During the course of their rivalry, the two had become something like friends, but there was something about the way he always seemed to look at him reverently that disturbed Satoru.

"Now, I have nothing more to say of the matter," the robed man said. "As much as I despise the idea we must now turn to you, traitorous scum, to rectify the situation that was your fault, I have no choice. We have no choice."

As he spoke, tendrils of energy formed around him, coiling upward and spreading. This energy was different from before. Much darker and of a completely different nature.

Satoru and Katsumi backed away. A globe of wind formed around Satoru's clenched hands. Katsumi called for flames.

"Let us begin the test!"

He suddenly charged at them at full speed. Fire and wind clashed against him, causing a sonic boom that spread throughout the entire district. It was mostly unnoticed by the ordinary folk, but the magical beings were sure to notice.

Katsumi grabbed Satoru by the hand and then flew with him to the night sky.

"EEEEEEEEEH!?"



*Courtesy of Avatar Factor App


"Will you please stop screaming like that?" Katsumi askes as they continued to shoot up to the heavens. "You used to do the same thing to me when we were kids."

"That was a long time ago!" Satoru cried. "And it wasn't this high!"

"Ugh! You really have gone a little soft."

"Katsumi! Behind! Behind!"

"Huh?"

She looked down and paled.

Like a rocket, the robed figure had launched upward, propelled by a constant spewing of energy at his feet.

"No way!"

They swooped around in the sky, using dizzying maneuvers. No matyer what moves Katsumi made, she could not shake off the robed man. She threw fireballs at him, but he just dodged the with jerks and loops.

"Is that the best you can do? I suppose I shouldn't have expected much from a member of that clan."

"Hah?" went Katsumi. Satoru thought he heard something snap in her. It looked like a vein throbbed at her forehead. "What did you say?"

Her pause could have gotten them killed. Satoru quickly extended a hand downward and fired off a blast of wind.

Satoru suddenly pried his hand free and dropped down toward the robed man who veered up to chase after them.

"HAAAAAAAAAAA!"

He brought his fist down against the robed man who twisted just in time to change the target from his head to his chest, which he protected with his arms crossed over it.

He crashed down into the ground near the children's playground, creating a huge crater. But even after such a fiery impact, the robed man got up. Though it was a struggle.

As he got out of the crater, Satoru dropped down and attacked. He lunged at the robed man with wind circling around his fists like ball gloves. A direct hit would send the robed man spiraling into the night heavens.

The robed man blocked Satoru's punches with a sword of black energy rimmed with a red glow. Satoru drew out a sword of wind and the two began a deadly dance. Wind and black energy clashed, meeting again and again with explosive impact.

Satoru could feel heat radiate from his enemy's sword brushing against his face while his back broke out with cold sweat. He could feel himself get pushed back.

"Hmph," sneered his opponent. "Pathetic. Simply pathetic. You should not have turned your back on the clan. Now pay the price!"

While screaming his lungs out, he released a huge bust of energy that threw Satoru back. Satoru's own scream was cut short when his back hit against a tree.

Pain spread from the center of his spine. He had never felt such intense pain before, even when he was still part of the Yasabou clan. It was a miracle that he was still conscious.

"What's wrong? Don't tell me that is all the famed prodigy of the main house has!"

Satoru gritted his teeth. He was really starting to dislike that man.

Determined not to lose to such a character,  he fought against the pain to get up. With a fierce roar, a contrast to his usual demeanor, he sprang to his feet and charged.

The robed man was taken off guard and couldn't move in time when pocket of wind was fired at him like a cannonball. He flew to the ground and bounced several times against the pavement. 

Satoru watched, heaving. His hands shook and his legs felt like jelly. He couldn't believe how out of shape he was.

"Damn you!" The robed man screamed. He got back on his feet but he looked just as terrible as Satoru felt. Maybe even worse. There was the earlier blow Satoru delivered. That had to have taken its toll on him now.

The robed man called for more black energy. But before he could unleash it, he was suddenly blasted against the playground by a huge fireball. More fire snaked around him and caught him in a tight grip. He was lifted off his feet, shaken around a bit, and then tosses headfirst into the trash can.

The trash can toppled with the man in it. His feet kicked around, but because it was a bit of a tight fit, there was no way he was getting out of there without help. 

He rolled down the hill, crashed against a picnic table and went left before crashing against a bench. Somehow, he ended up at the stairs and rolled down that. He didn't stop until he reached the bottom. A foot stepped on it, interrupting the roll.

That foot belonged to Katsumi. She had a wide, malevolent grin on her face and a sinister shadow cast over her wide eyes. At the end of her finger gun pointed upward was a small, but dense-feeling ball of flame.

"So, what did you mean when you mentioned a clan earlier?" she asked with an obvious edge.

The robed man broke out in cold sweat. A feeling of dread filled him.

"W-wa-wait!" He cried.

The night sky was suddenly filled with a scream of agony.

"GYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

*********

A huge sweat drop ran down the side of Takeo's face looking down at the charred man whose leg twitched like a dead bug's. Close by, Katsumi looked up away from the robed man with her arms crossed,  and her cheeks puffed out in a grumpy mood.

"What happened?" he whispered into Satoru's ear.

Satoru whispered back: "Let's just say Katsumi doesn't like it when people belittle her clan."

"Hah," Takeo said in understanding. 

"So, did you two find out anything?" Katsumi asked, deliberately stepping on the robed man's back when she walked up to them.

Takeo and Michiko exchanged uncomfortable looks. After a bit of a private conference between them, they told Katsumi and Satoru of their encounter with Noboru Shou. The more of the story Satoru listened to, the more his frown deepened.

When they were done, Michiko asked of her brother what he planned to do now.

"Hmm," went Satoru, rubbing his chin. "What to do indeed?"

"For a start, we should probably talk with Natsuiro again," said Takeo. "Tell him what happened. Then, we can look into what really happened with the previous leader of Hibiki Natsuiro's gang. What? Why are you all looking at me like that?"

"I-it's nothing," went Satoru. He and the others turned away innocently, which was pissing Takeo off. 

"Still, it's a good idea," said Katsumi. "So let's go with the delinquent's plan."

"Agreed," said Michiko.

"Oi. You just called me a delinquent, didn't you? Oi! Don't walk away from me, dammit!"

<== Previous                                                      Next (Coming Soon) ==>