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K21 - Soulless Faith

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This article is a part of the K21 Squared story.

This article belongs to Tomj8937. Please do not edit this article without their permission.


WARNINGSTRIPESWARNINGSTRIPES

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

This article, K21 - Soulless Faith, is still being written by its owner Tomj8937. They apologise for the inconvenience.

A prequel set in Sector III, K21 - Soulless Faith follows Andrew Sol in the events that lead to his departure from Japan.

Chillstep - Blackmill - Evil Beauty (Changing Faces, NuKid & Alicrity Remix)05:17

Chillstep - Blackmill - Evil Beauty (Changing Faces, NuKid & Alicrity Remix)

Cast
K21LOGOV2.2

Prologue:

The first thing I knew of the blade sliding into my flesh was a cold sensation, sliding through my skin, before unbearable pain, the likes of which I had never felt, assaulted my senses, making me insensible to anything.

"YOU STUPID FUCK!" The soldier; the princess, if she was who she said she was, bellowed into my face.

She continued to rant and rage into my face, her fury boiling over "ruining everything" and the reward she was going to give me, but I couldn't focus on them, her words drowning and fading away from me as my own heartbeat began to grow louder and louder in the confines of my mind.

Her face twisted into a sickening grin as she twisted the knife in the wound she had opened up, the shock of the impact making me staggar back, leaning to the wall for support as my strength left me. As, I fell I saw what remained of her knife, and in my horror all I could see was the handle. The blade was still embedded within, no doubt cracked and split into dozens, maybe even hundreds, of ceramic shards, swimming through my bloodstream to cause untold internal damage.

"YOU'RE NOTHING BUT A SELFISH BASTARD!" The soldier screamed into my face, breaking through the muffled barrier of my hearing before delivering a sharp kick to the stab wound she had opened in my stomach, sending me sprawling on the floor, coughing with the agony.

Yes I am.

In a bizarre moment of clarity, I had to agree with her, I had been inexorably selfish to allow this to happen. If I had just waited, just allowed for diplomacy instead of acting like the self-righteous executioner, he might of been captured.

Better yet, if I hadn't raged into my quarry's unconscious form and stopped acting like this was some story, where I was a hero, maybe he would already be dead.

If I had been quicker, maybe William wouldn't of died by Li-Pau's hand, and he would still be alive, my friends might of still been conscious and we would all be at the bar, listening to Jack rant and rave about media bias or Danielle complain about bringing Flow along with the hunt.

If I had researched before I left with Henri and the gang, maybe I wouldn't of orphaned Arianna, and she wouldn't be with the random family using her as a status symbol, she would be with her Dad, being truly loved by a caring parent.

If I hadn't been so quick to leave Japan, then maybe Melissa...

No. Don't go back.

But even as I sought to stop myself drowning in the memories of a past I had done my best to suppress, I found myself drifting back to my past life as my vision grayed and consciousness fled my body.

Part 1:

As I walked through the rain slicked streets, the bright purple neon fizzing just on the edge of my hearing, my mind wandered back to the events of the past few hours.

"The PDC will stop them. They're idealistic fools, don't you ever listen to the news?"

I felt a twinge of guilt at the idea that it was partly my fault. My parents were very patriotic and loved their country, talking them into moving away from Japan in the wake of the RWA's atrocities was like asking a stream to travel uphill; it's just not going to happen.

"If you wanna leave, then get out of my house!"

The pack on my back felt heavier as water began to soak through the thin nylon and into the clothes. I had filled my bag with my books and clothes and walking out the front door.

Could of at least waited till it was a nice day to storm out.

I turned a corner and shirked through the watery alleyways before I was confronted with my final destination.

A simple block of flats, its walls whitewashed and hastily sprayed with illiterate graffiti. Most of the windows had lights shining through while 2 of the windows were boarded up with rough plywood, the door was a made from thick metal to act as a rudimentary fire escape and to make it more easily defended from the RWA if the fighting spilled over into Koga.

Next to the door was a metal box festooned with small black buttons and a speaker grille. Shuffling to place the rucksack over my head to keep the rain off, I removed my phone from my pocket and read the most recent text from Kenji:

'Sucks to hear your not getting on, come and crash at my place. It's the first flat on the second floor, number 21.'

Smiling, I replaced the mobile into my pocket and pushed the button with 21 marked next to it. The speaker gave a low buzzing noise before a familiar voice (albeit distorted and tinny) emitted through the intercom.

"Hello?" She said.

"Melissa?" I asked, confused.

"Akira?" She sounded surprised but pleased to hear from me. "How are you? Your brother was expecting you. Come on in I'll buzz you up."

A muted beep rang through and the door's locks crunched open, sliding slowly open. Slipping through into the dull purple neons of the ground floor, I noticed a tramp sleeping in the corner. I was careful to shut the door quietly, he looked peaceful enough. I mused on giving him some money as I climbed the long flight of concrete stairs.

I stepped into the small grey hallway that led to most of the rooms on the second floor, and eventually reached a white door with 21 stenciled on. I knocked twice and waited, and was confronted by a familiar face seconds later.

Her long red hair was placed in a plait at the back of her head, her black glasses framed her deep brown eyes. She was in a knee length skirt in deep brown and a black sleeveless top. She had been living with Kenji for the past few months, I was still unsure why, though when I asked she was always trying to avoid the question.

"Come on in." She joyfully welcomed me. "Were just about to have dinner."

I looked around my brother's flat. Clothes were left in the corner, while plates were stacked in the sink like a precarious janga tower. A sofa was placed against one wall while opposite a large TV dominated the other.

My brother was reclined on the cushoned chair watching a show and turned my head to see me.

His hair was scruffy and brown, short but nevertheless matted from neglect and he wore parachute pants, torn at the bottom from wear.

"Hey Akira!" He smiled. "Long time no see dude."

Their happiness was infectious and I couldn't help but grin.

"Hey guys." I said, walking over to place my bag next the sofa and sitting down. "Its been too long, hows things?"

"Alright I guess." He replied. "Just got back from the patrols. The RWA are apparently planning something. You hungry?"

"Yeah, I left before they made dinner, cheers."

"Noodles okay?" Melissa asked. I nodded and she walked over to the kitchen, pulling noodles from a large, soot blackened pot and placing them on a plate.

"By the way, you wanna drink?" She offered.

"Uhh, Sure."

She turned went to the fridge and removed a silver and white can.

"Catch!" she told me, throwing it, I instinctively caught it, its smooth surface icy with condensation. I cracked open the ring pull and began to take a swig of the bitter liquid.

She walked over to the sofa and handed me the plate with a fork and reclining next to me on the sofa with two more cans, handing one to my brother and pulling one open for herself.

"Thanks." I said, starting to consume the nutritious foodstuff. Until then I didn't even realize how hungry I truly was.

"So, What happened Akira?" Kenji asked, curious.

"I keep telling them that we should get out of Japan while we still can." I told him. "I know it sounds stupid and I'm not saying the PDC can't handle it, but I don't wanna take chances after what happened a few months back."

He seemed to muse on this for a few seconds, before he spoke again. "You've got the right idea, to be honest. Everything's hit the fan since Tokyo. I'm guessing they don't take kindly to leaving Koga then?"

"You know them." I sighed. "Its like they consider this place sacred. They made it certain that they were born here, so they'll die here, in defiance of the RWA."

"Mm, know what you mean. Your welcome to crash here on the sofa till things get sorted."

I smiled. "Thanks man."

After that the conversation began to fade down, until all 3 of us eventually ran out of things to talk about and instead decided to flick through the channels on the flat screen in front of us. Sat on a sofa in a small flat with my brother and his friend, one thought kept playing in my head:

This is the life.

Part 2:

I woke up on the sofa at about 11:42, my eyelids felt sore as I opened them and I had the dull headache of a hangover. The migraine pain made me recall the last night, I had almost forgotten we'd all drank.

I sat up and quietly laughed to myself, rubbing my gummy eyelids and standing up in the middle of the living room. As my senses began to become less groggy I began to hear the sound of someone washing up, and I turned towards the kitchen to see Melissa cleaning dishes and cutlery.

"Morning Melissa." I said happily.

She turned from the sink. "Morning Akira." She said. "Did you sleep well?"

I stretched to dispel my fatigue, twisting my neck until it made the distinctive crick noise. "It was good, thanks. Whats up?"

"I'm just trying to clean this place a bit." She smiled kindly.

"Oh, ill help you if you want." I said. "I mean, if I'm here I may as well help."

"Well if you want," She began. "You can grab some of the clothes in the corner, throw then down the chute."

"Alright." I scooped up the bundles of scrunched up clothes in my arms, carrying them to the laundry chutes and pushing it into the narrow vertical corridor.

"Is Kenji out?" I asked.

"Mm. He was called back to the base. Should be back by tonight." She trailed off.

"Ah. Hope everything's okay."

We continued to tidy up the place and make it look somewhat presentable, hoovering the floors and wiping the tables until the place looked presentable. Finally after an hour of tidying we sat down on the now clean sofa and turned on the TV, flicking absent mindedly over to the news.

It rang with the usual topics, political struggles, tensions between sectors and vitriol justifiably thrown at the RWA.

"Question" I suddenly ask.

"Mm?"

"What do you do. Like as a job?"

"Oh I write and photograph for a newspaper, the Koga report. Its only small but the pays ok. Its why I'm living here to be honest, my office is based a few streets away."

"Oh." I said. "I always presumed you and Kenji were..well...you know... going out."

She burst into laughter. "Your cute when your nervous, anyone ever tell you that?" She said, before descending into giggling. "I'm only 16, the age gap would be too weird."

"I see, uhh then how long have you known my brother?"

She hesitated before speaking again. "He was a good friend of my mother's for ages. She was RWA too. But personally, we only really met a few weeks back."

"What..um What happened to her?" I reluctantly asked.

"I'd rather not talk about it if thats alright." Her smile faded and I saw a flash of upset in her eyes.

"Ok, I understand." I said, backing away from a subject that was obviously painful for her.

Before I could ask anything else to fill the pregnant silence my ears picked up on the final broadcast of the news:

"And finally, a skirmish between RWA forces and the PDC soldiery have broken out in the city of Koga, specifically in the Ibaraki district, resulting in the death of 4 soldiers and 9 citizens."

The Ibaraki District. I thought. My parents live there.

My heart began to race and a sickening lurch of dread began to settle in my stomach. I forced myself to keep calm.

If my parents were dead me and Kenji would've been told.

The next line from the newsreporter stole any hope I had.

"RWA collaborators and supporters were found in a number of houses, resulting in the military execution of Okarin Akihiko, Kizu Itari, Tezumaro Iba and Haru and Yuka Taiyō."

"No." I practically breathed the word, but inside I practically screamed the word over and over again.

No, no, no no, No No No NO NO NO! NO! NO!

"This can't be right." I said in shocked disbelief.

"What?" Melissa asked, genuinely confused.

"No! This can't be right! It cant be!"

"Akira, calm down."

I turned to face her, worry and concern plastered on her face. "The people executed, did you... know any of them?"

Tears began to form at the edges of my eyes, rolling down my cheek.

"Haru and...and Yuka Taiyō."

"I'm sorry." She tried to comfort me. "Were they good friends of yours?"

"They...They..." I managed before bursting into tears, even as I hated myself for my weakness. In response Melissa hugged me close in an attempt to comfort my grieving.

"They were my parents." I finally cried into her shoulder.

"What?" She said, in disbelief.

"Haru and Yuka were the names of my parents." I wept.

She hugged me tighter and her face softened further still as she attempted to console me. "It'll be ok. Shh, don't worry."

It was only later I found out she was weeping.

Part 3:

"I always come here." Melissa told me. "It helps when I'm down."

It had been 3 weeks since my parents were executed, and I had done nothing but hide away from the world around me, enclosing myself in the flat.

I stared out over the park, the bench I was sat on providing little comfort. The grass, clear of rubbish and cut no higher than the soles of my trainers, was the bright green of healthy plant life. Trees dotted the areas near the paths, creating an almost Utopian feel, while peace gardens dotted with polished stones broke up the sea of green with a patterns of grey within islands of desert yellow.

As we sat on the bench, Melissa and I spoke. We had gotten closer in the past couple of weeks, she was helping me through my grief. The sun was setting down in the horizon, already partially obscured by the masses of skyscrapers dotting Koga, and the buzzing of neon tubes being powered was just perceivable as an irritating feeling on the back of my neck.

"I use to come here, a long time ago." I told her finally.

"Oh?"

"Yeah. This place reminds me of when I was younger, before Kenji left to fight with the PDC. We use to walk through here, enjoying the tranquility of the park."

I turned my head and saw her face, a mix of concern and sympathy flashing in her eyes.

"I'm...I'm sorry." I said. "It doesnt really matter and I'm just rambling on about..."

"No its fine." She stopped me. "I understand what you mean."

I saw her shift nervously as an awkward silence permeated the air, both of us unsure what to say next.

"Have you heard from Kenji lately?"

He still wasn't back. The patrol route he was on has escalated into a full blown conflict between both the RWA and PDC, with neither side giving even an inch of up for the opposing side. I felt a twinge of selfish guilt; Kenji was fighting for his life and the lives of many others whilst dealing with our parents death, and I was sat in a dark flat, moping about how it wasn't fair. Sometimes I disgusted myself.

"No. Still no word from him. He's probably having a tougher time than I am." I sighed.

"okay. Maybe tomorrow we should go to the base and see him." She offered.

"Sure."

An almost agonizing pause ensured after that utterance, both of us unsure as to what to say. Finally after what had dragged into over a minute, Melissa spoke.

"You know what, lets get back to the flat. This place isn't exactly nice at night even without the White Armies on the prowl." She began to get up from the bench.

The sky was navy blue by now, the parkway still illuminated by dull streetlamps releasing a harsh yellow glow and the excess light given out by bright purple neon signs, colouring its surroundings magenta.

"Yeah okay then." I agreed, lifting myself from the smooth wooden park bench I had sat down on for the past hour. I slowly began to walk alongside Melissa, pushing the heavy iron gates of the park wide enough to let us both out, before bashing them back together with a distinct lack of grace.

An awkward silence permeated the walk back to the flat before we ended up in the familiar dark alleyway, the bare steel door halfway along allowing for a back entrance into the block of flats. Once we got into the small dwelling I removed my shoes from my feet, dragged myself over to the sofa and sat down heavily.

I began to lose myself in thought, my mind replaying the events of the past few weeks.

They died accused of being RWA supporters!

I would of laughed at the irony if it wasn't so tragic. My parents? The Asian patriots? RWA collaborators? The thought left me disgusted.

Looks like you left at the right time, Akira.

The thought troubled me. By blind luck I had chosen that day to leave, and by doing so I had avoided a skirmish between RWA and PDC forces, and my potential execution.

Gutless. You abandoned them in the final hour of need. They raised you and you repay them by leaving them to die?

Shut up. My hands were shaking now and I had to hold them together to keep them still.

Remember what you last said to them?

I froze and my heart sank, suddenly feeling like it was full of wet sand, as I recalled the final line that I said.

"If you wanna stay and be shot by those bastards! That's fine by me, but I'm not dying in this place because your too stubborn to consider survival over your family history."

My chest twinged with regret and I felt like I had swallowed a lead weight that was now resting uncomfortably in my stomach.

"If we don't leave, our family history ends here! In Koga, and the final line of our family history will be marked with a bullet wound!"

I was out of order, I knew it then, and I know it now. If I had taken another approach, tried being diplomatic instead of blunt; maybe, just maybe, I could of convinced them to escape and they wouldn't be dead.

"Akira?"

Melissa's concerned voice brought me back to the present. It was only then I was aware I had been crying, the tears dripping from my face onto my pale hands. I quickly wiped my eyes and tried to compose myself.

"Shh." She tried to comfort me, hugging me close. "Its okay."

Suddenly anger began to curdle inside me, provoked my Melissa's words. How could she say it was okay? She wasn't in my head, being tormented by the memories of my words.

"Its not okay." I muttered solemnly.

"What?" She released me from her grip. "What do you mean?"

"I mean it's not okay!" I said louder, feeling my anger start to swell.

"A...Akira..."

"NO!" I cut her off and she stepped backwards at my anger.

"None of this is okay! My parents are dead thanks to a government they were stubbornly patriotic about, I haven't heard from my brother for nearly a month, fighting the reason my parents were executed and I've been left in the dark so many times it's small wonder I can see when the sun comes up!"

My anger burned so bright it eclipsed all rational thought, I barely cared that tears were running down her cheeks, causing her makeup to run in black smear marks.

"And all you keep telling me is that 'Its okay, I understand your pain'. Well, if you do, then how? How could you possibly understand how I feel?"

As I finished my final utterance, rationality returned to my thoughts and I realized what I had done. Before I could say anything, Melissa ran, sobbing, into her room, slamming it shut. As if to finalize that I had made a huge mistake, the bolt clicked as it locked her bedroom, and the only noise throughout the flat was the crying of Melissa Miyagi.

Part 4:

Her parents...

Or more specifically, her mother, was part of the PDC. And as I kept thinking about it, our every conversation I had with her about relatives, she had always used the word "was". Her family, or at the very least her parents, were dead.

I am a stupid fucking arsehole.

She didn't deserve it, that much was clear, she had only ever tried to help me with my grief and pain, and this was how I repayed her.

Dick move, dude. Dick move.

She had locked herself in her room for nearly 10 minutes now, occasionally I heard her crying. It was almost painful for me to bear, knowing I had caused her disposition. However what was worse, was the silence. For minutes at a time the only sound in the entire flat was the ticking of a clock, slowly counting down the seconds, usually a background noise to be ignored, but now oppressively loud in the otherwise deafening void.

I mulled over my options as I sat on the sofa with a heavy heart. I could just wait for her to leave my brother's room, but it didn't seem right that I did so. I felt I shouldn't just try to casually apologize and instead try to make an effort and go out of my way to actually make amends with Melissa.

It almost felt like duty. At least, whats what I told myself as I pushed myself from the old sofa pushed against the wall.

With great reluctance, I walked through the hallway, keeping my footsteps light to try and...

What? I had no reason why I was walking with excessively quiet footsteps. Was it so I didn't sound angry with a heavy thud of my boots slamming onto the wooden floor? Was it to not disturb the peace of the place? I decided on the former, the silence was oppressively distracting.

I refocused on my thoughts, realizing I had stood outside my brother's room for nearly 10 seconds, pondering the finer points of my body language. I knocked on the door twice quickly and quietly.

"Uh...Melissa?" I reluctantly started, unsure what to say.

"Go away." Her voice was heavy with anger.

"Look, I wanna apologize for what I said, I'm..."

"Go Away!" She cut me off, practically screaming through the door.

I hesitated in response to her hatred, before trying to be reasonable with her.

"Look, I'm sorry for what I said to you. You're a great person and you've been there for me the entire time whilst I angsted like a whiny little brat."

As I went to continue, the words almost stuck in my throat before I tried to go on.

"I...I know you've lost at least your parents. You've helped me in a time when I've needed help. Your a good person and I've just been a total cunt towards you simply because I couldn't piece together facts."

There was a long silence, still broken by the ticking of a clock I could almost swear was smug in its solitude.

"Can you unlock the door please?" Id rather talk to you in person..."

With that I heard her move from her spot in the corner of the room, before the distinctive thunk of a bolt moving along was heard and the door opened.

The first thing I registered was how much my face stung. My left cheek flashed with pain in a distinctively hand print shape. It took me about a second to realize she had slapped me upon opening the door. My hand moved up to my face and I rubbed the sore skin instinctively. What I noticed next was far more worrying.

Her long sleeved top was a mess, with a wet patch around the neck where I presumed later on she had brought to her face to wipe her still bloodshot eyes of her tears. As I looked down, I noticed that the white fabric around her left wrist was slowly changing from white to an unnerving shade of crimson.

Reacting on instinct more than logic, I grabbed her arm, causing her to wince in pain as I clumsily wrapped my fingers around her narrow, still bleeding wrist and pulled her from the doorway and towards the bathroom.

"Keep pressure on the cut." I told her, watching her as she sat against the wall opposite me.

Opening the mirrored door to the shaving cabinet, I found a small glass bottle of iodine, several rolls of bandages, safety pins and a spool of heavy black thread with a needle poked into it. Unsure, I took out the iodine, the bandages and a safety pin.

Trying to calm myself down, I looked around for a cloth and found a damp cream washing cloth draped over the edge of the bath. I quickly picked it up, squeezed it to ring out the excess water and set it down in the sink, folding it in half.

I then proceeded to empty a small amount of Iodine into the cloth, the blue liquid soaking in and discolouring it midnight blue. Once satisfied id used enough I ran over to Melissa, who was by now deathly pale, her blood dripping from her once clean sleeve. I knelt beside her for a second, taking her hand as gently as I could.

"This is gonna sting like a bitch but I need you to hold it on your wrist for me, can you do that?" I tried to keep the edge of panic out of my voice.

She quickly nodded and I proceeded to place the disinfecting patch over the straight razor slice, causing her to scream in agony as the iodine disinfected the open wound. I grabbed her other hand and Placed it firmly on the cloth, which by now was soaked with her blood.

Running, I took the bandage and safety pin and returned to my position next to Melissa. Pulling her left hand from her wrist, I unrolled a length of bandage and ripped it short with my teeth, before tightly wrapping the evidence of her self harm and finishing my safety pinning the bandage to itself, keeping it firm.

I stood up and lifted her to her feet and she nearly fell over again, so I supported her and walked to the living room area, before sitting her on the sofa and leaving for the kitchen area, pulling a clean glass from the cupboard, filling it with the water from the tap and giving it to her. She took a small sip before placing it onto the floor.

"I'm...I'm so..."

"Don't say it." Melissa said flatly.

"I was right wasn't I?"

I instantly regretted the words as they left my lips, and in the void of conversation that transpired between us I could of cut the air with a knife.

Instead of being hit again for my clumsy mistake, her face contorted, holding for a few seconds, before she burst into tears. There was no holding back the flood of emotion in her, and I wondered for a second if this was what I had been like for the past 3 weeks.

Unsure of what else I could possibly do, I hugged her close, seeking to comfort her in the same way she had comforted me. She reacted in the same way I had, by wrapping her arms around me and burying her still weeping face into my shoulder.

This was completely mad, in every sense of the word. I didn't really know what I was supposed to do besides comfort her in a similar way to how she comforted me. The situation was a total fucking mess.

Slowly her cries slightly subsided from the loud sobbing to an occasional choking breath and whimper, and she lifted her face from my now damp shoulder to lock eyes.

"My Mother." She began, reluctantly. "She fought for the PDC, striking out against those bastards of the RWA."

Fresh tears formed in her eyes, the salted liquid running down her cheeks as she sought to blink them away.

"There was a skirmish." She continued trying to keep her composure. "Not far from Tokyo. As far as the reports went, she didn't gun down a young RWA sympathizer as he tried to escape. They tried her for treason."

The reason she had tried to help me through suddenly became clear, she had suffered a very similar loss and knew well the pain that came with it.

I placed my hands over my mouth in shock. "My god" was all I could say, I could see this was an obviously sensitive topic for her.

"What happened to your dad?" I ventured, sounding as sympathetic as I could through the shock of the revelation.

"My father." She shifted on the spot. "He was...a Japanese patriot and supported the RWA. Every action they took." She said bitterly as her words picked up momentum. "Every action! Was painted as some sort of glorious strike against the government."

She drew a slow breath, realizing she had spoke the words-in anger. "We used to live in Tokyo, we had to evacuate during the massacres. ME and mum were both lucky, but dad..."

She paused, unsure of how to say what had happened, before blurting out the next utterance in anger.

"I saw him cut down by the RWA! The same terrorists he had spent years condoning, and they cut him down without a moments thought."

The tears were running faster, forming two streams down her otherwise beautiful face and I repeated my previous action, hugging her close and allowing her to weep into my shoulder.

There was no holding back her emotions now and she let it all go. I felt something I had not felt in a long time, a certain empathy that I had never had with any other person. While in education I was always the unpopular kid, the one everybody left to do his own thing in the corner, maybe if I had been more sociable with others I could offer more comfort than the inadequate show of sympathy I had given.

Without really knowing why, I began to rock her slowly in my arms, repeating the same mantra of "It's okay." and "Shh, no more tears." as she had used to try and comfort me in the times I had wallowed in blind depression.

After a few minutes the rivers of tears that had ran down her face began to subside and her face one again lifted from its resting place, our eyes locking for a moment as I stared into her hazel brown eyes. In them I could almost see the emotional pain that had wracked her mind.

The eyes are the windows to the soul.

Her lips parted and I expected her to say something. Was she going to tell me some fact she had thought it best not to tell me? Was she going to call me out for using the same condolences I had shouted at her for using merely minutes before? Was she...

She leaned closer and our lips met in a passionate kiss.

For a moment I froze completely. I hadn't expected this at all. I had no idea she liked me, and truth be told I thought she'd hate my guts for what I said only minutes before.

The kiss deepened, her tongue forcing my own lips further open and exploring my mouth. Still unsure what to do, I replicated the gesture. The embrace was delicate but with a subtle hint of urgency. My mind slowly swam with desire for Melissa and guilt at potentially taking advantage of her emotionally damaged state.

However I couldn't deny that I had liked her, her selfless compassion and attitude had caused me to become slowly infatuated with her. And as my mind began to replay the memories of the weeks before, I could see the signs that she had liked me; hugging me close when I cried, actively trying to take my mind off my parents' deaths. Beforehand I had just told myself this was just what good people did for each other, but somewhere in me I knew this was not the case.

She began to lean into me, putting pressure against my chest and forcing me back onto the scuffed sofa. After a few minutes she broke the kiss, her knees resting on the minuscule bit of chair either side of my hips, before she hastily removed her blood stained top, threw it against the wall opposite and returning to passionate kissing. I felt her hands against the back of my head, tangling in my black hair and applying pressure to keep our lips locked. As my passion began to eclipse my guilt I began to take action, my hands reaching around her back to hug her close.

Suddenly I hear the whine of an unoiled hinge opening and 2 heavily fatigued steps. I broke away to find out what now stood in the doorway of my brother's flat, and what I saw made me feel embarrassed and ashamed in equal measure.

Kenji stood against the wall, his clothes torn and coated with mud and his boots scuffed and worn to near uselessness. His face was drawn and gaunt and he had dark rings around his eyes from sleep deprivation. There was a bandage wrapping his upper left arm and across his right shoulder he carried a large backpack. He was breathing heavily, no doubt exhausted from active duty.

His eyes were wide with shock and anger.

Oh...shit. I resignedly thought.

Part 5:

Everything seemed to freeze on the spot, the tension in the air so thick I could cut it with a knife. As reason began to return to me I Tried to remove myself from the compromising position, sitting up, forcing Melissa to move on the sofa next to me.

"Uhh... Welcome home, Kenji." I said weakly.

He simply stared at me for a few seconds, his eyes flitting from me to Melissa and then back again. The weight of my actions fell onto my shoulders like a shroud.

"Hi guys." He said, trying to sound as non-threatening as he possibly could, making his obvious rage all the more frightening.

He walked towards the halls and marched into his room, and I heard the hard thump of his bag as it was thrown onto his bed, before he emerged again.

"Whats happened while I was away?" He asked, his anger barely entering his voice as he tried to suppress it.

"Ummm... not much, absolutely nothing, to be honest... " Melissa smiled, trying to dispel the tension. "We weren't expecting you back so early from your tour of duty... "

"I'm back earlier than anticipated because the Restored White Armies have been detected within the city limits of Koga," he stated bluntly.

"Fucking hell... " I muttered, unsure what else to say.

"So none of us are safe," Kenji calmly stated in a manner that sent a shiver down my spine..

A pregnant silence seemed to permeate everything again for a few seconds, and I was struck with the feeling that I should get out as soon as I can.

Don't say anything. Don't say anything. Don't say anything. I prayed.

"Now given the gravity of the situation, dearest brother?"

"Yes?"

"May I talk to you a second?"

FUCK!

"Uh sure." My head screamed at me as I rose from the sofa and walked towards the door.

He left afterwards, the iron door slamming shut with smug finality. I turned to my brother and the first thing to meet me as I did so was his scarred fist.

The force of impact as his knuckles hit sent me sprawling into the wall opposite. Pain flared in my cheek, skin that was slightly sore from Melissa's own hit minutes earlier had now blazed into new life, causing my eyes to run with tears.

"You cunt." Kenji said after a few seconds.

"I'm..." I started.

"You took advantage of her!" he interrupted me before I could finish my utterance.

"I saw the cuts on her arm! I don't know why she's doing it again, but you were..." He lifts his hand up to me and puts his index finger and thumb up, spaced millimeters apart. "This close to fucking her."

"She...She came on to..." I was interrupted again by a blow to my gut, winding me and causing more tears to stream down my face.

"There are people dying in the streets and you think it's fine to just fuck your housemate? To play on your little problems to get into her pants?"

"No!", I whined, "I swear."

I winced as he punched me in the face again.

"There's a fucking war knocking at our door and if those... those... fucking RWA bastards find you when you're unprepared then they will show no mercy. They will not hesitate to shoot both of you at a moment's notice," he bellowed.

I curled up into a ball, protecting my head and other vital areas as I anticipated another violent assault. Instead he knelt down next to me.

"I can't afford to lose you... I can't afford to lose her... " his tone underwent an extreme shift.

I looked up, wiping the liquid streaming from my eyes onto my shirt.

"I... I... "

"You just don't understand... " he lamented, "you... her... that's all I have left to fight for... "

I didn't like seeing my brother like this. It frightened me to imagine him as being anything other than a brave soldier.

I was speechless. I didn't know how to react to my brother letting down his guard so much.

"Seeing the blood... To see her like that again... I'm sorry... "

"It's my fault," I bravely spoke out, "I... I... think I said something I shouldn't have... "

I flinched as I expected my brother to strike me in retribution for my admission. I knew I deserved it. I'd done nothing but selfishly hurt the only people I truly cared about.

"At least you tried to help... " Kenji's voice was empty, "She never took to the bandages on her own... She wanted to let all of it out... To never have to feel the pain again... "

"I... I didn't know... " I slowly said.

"Just promise me you'll be strong for her... " my brother sighed, "promise me that you won't let her fall to such a dark place ever again... "

Concerned for my brother and slightly disorientated from the earlier attack, I nodded.

"Good." He concluded, before extending his hand in offer of help. I accepted and lifted myself from the floor.

I used the front of my shirt to wipe my face clear of some of the tears, looking back onto it and noticing it was strewn with a bright red stain; clearly Kenji's punch had done more damage than I thought it had. Trying to make myself more presentable and subconsciously placing my hands over my face to conceal the blood slowly tricking from my nose, I opened the door to the flat again and slowly stepped through.

Melissa was in the kitchen area, leaning against a cupboard covered wall. I could tell by her facial expression that she had heard the entire conversation. As I turned to Kenji I saw his shoulders sag as he realized.

"You heard everything didn't you?" He asked Melissa redundantly.

"Yes I did, you could of just spoken to him about it in here." She responded "it concerns us both."

Kenji sighed. "There's no point fucking about with the subject."

He strode out the room through to the hallway and Melissa threw a roll of tissue to me, I caught it instinctively.

"Your nose...it's bleeding" She pointed out.

I removed my hand to check it, confirming her statement before pulling off a large amount from the roll and using it to soak up the small crimson river flowing from my nose. Shortly afterwards Kenji returned from the hall carrying a pair of small handguns and two clips of ammunition. He walked over to me first, handing over the firearm and one clip, before moving to Melissa and doing the same.

"Okay, the RWA are in this city, if anyone tries to enter who isn't me or one of you, shoot them. Are we clear?"

Part 6:

As I stood in the kitchen, cracking open the silver can of lager to ease my overactive nerves, my mind wandered back time and time again to the gun tucked in my waistband, its unfamiliar shape pressing into my skin and creating an irritating patch of cold that dug into my side.

I downed a small measure of the bitter alcohol and stared out over the living room absent mindedly. The majority of the flat was as silent as the grave after earlier, with Kenji returning to combat the RWA forces in Koga while Melissa withdrew into her room, possibly embarrassed over what happened earlier.

I rubbed my eyes with the balls of my palms as if to break through my stress to think rationally, realizing the alcohol I had been drinking was definitely counter productive to that goal.

My thoughts were a complete mess, and had every reason to be that way, but even through the random information flickering through my head several undeniable truths kept resurfacing.

I now had to carry a gun to keep both myself and my roommate safe, and that in itself was the biggest sign that we were in severe danger where we were.

We needed to leave as soon as we could, before things became really out of hand.

But how?

Grimacing at my own thoughts I put my drink down in the kitchen. I went into the hallway, taking a left to get into the bathroom. I closed the door and set to work, pulling the zip down on my jeans and emptying my bladder into the toilet in front of me. Once I was relieved I washed my hands in the sink, before realizing I had left all the stuff I had used out of the cupboards.

I thus began the task of placing everything in its own place, keeping it as organized as I remembered it to be, closing the mirrored door quietly and turning to leave the room.

As I opened the whitewashed door I looked towards Melissa's bedroom at the far end of the hallway.

She's probably just tired.

I wanted to talk to her.

She's almost defiantly asleep, don't bother her.

I wanted to talk to her about leaving Japan for safer pastures.

Don't go in.

I wanted to make sure she was okay.

I began walking towards her door, making sure to angle my bare feet to the points where timber was joined to the frame so as to refrain from announcing my arrival. I decided to listen in for a few seconds, just to make sure she wasn't asleep. I heard the light tapping of a finger on a screen so I decided to knock.

"Come in." She announced.

My head raced as I turned the chrome handle and entered her room.

Her room was small and bare but not without some comforts. The floor was carpeted deep red and in the center of her floor was a small single bed, nicely made on the bare steel frame it rested on. I saw a large travel bag in the corner of the room, no doubt containing clothes and the like, while strangely enough in the other corner I saw a sewing machine with half stitched black fabric still under its needle.

The window was covered by a thick bedsheet that was re-purposed to allow Melissa some privacy at night, though the fabric was still thin enough to be shone through by the pale white light of the moon.

Melissa was sat on the bed, a large set of full ear headphones that were almost definatly drowning out most sound a minute ago around her neck. She held a data-slate in her hands, which she seemed to be studying intently. As I walked through she looked up at me and smiled, though I could see it was awkward and slightly forced.

"Whats up?"

As I tried to say what I had come in to say, my throat closed up. I was incapable of forming the words. What could I say? "We need to get out of here?" No I couldn't! Too direct, maybe I could just subtly...

JUST SAY WHAT YOU CAME IN HERE TO SAY!

"We need to talk." I said finally.

She seemed to take this as a cue and placed her data slate and headphones on the pillow. "Sit down." She said, and I brought myself over to the bed, sitting next to her.

She took a deep sigh before continuing. "I...Uhh..." She stuttered, biting her lip in nervousness. "About the other night..."

My eyes widened as I finally understood what she thought I had come for.

"I like you!" She blurted out, frustrated with tripping over her own tongue. "I really do! That that night wasn't...Ugh...it wasn't just me being..."

She grimaced in frustration as she tried to find the words to articulate herself. I smiled kindly, trying to let her know I understood as I took her hands into my own in a gesture of comfort and care, sighing happily. "I like you too, Melissa. I love you." My face fell to our hands as I began to feel a flush of embarrassment, I realized I was as incapable of properly articulating myself in these situations.

"I... I'm sorry, I'm not good with all..."

"Akira." She cut me off.

I raised my head to look her in the eyes as she placed her lips to mine, her affection intoxicating and contagious and stealing any window for awkwardness to rear its head. Melissa slipped her hands out from inside my own and began wrapping around my back, bringing us closer as I replicated her own actions.

Her firm grip on me slowly drew me onto her bed, leaving us both on our sides as we expressed our affections towards each other. We hugged tighter as an ever increasing urgency took us both.

I felt a sinking guilt as I remembered the words of Kenji, but even that became drowned in the excited energy that was overcoming me. With absolutely no thought towards my original goal of discussing a departure plan, or to my duty to stay vigilant and not become distracted, I fell into her welcoming embrace.

Part 7:

I awoke to the sound of a repetitive noise I could not discern in my hazy state. I opened my eyes, rubbing the heels of my palms into my eyes and lifted myself from the bed, running my hand through my black, knotted, tangled hair. I was still feeling groggy and the origin of the sound that had awoken me was still far from my conscious train of thought.

I pulled the duvet off myself and swiveled to my right, allowing my legs to hang over the edge of the bed as I put my head in my hands, intent to nursing my fogged thoughts.

Wait. I thought the skin of my legs touched the cold frame of the bed and I realized my surroundings.

The floor was a deep shade of ruby red and the bed sheets were white, albeit creased and disheveled.

The bed?

The fact that I was on a bed resting on a steel frame, meant one thing. I looked behind me and I felt my heart in my mouth at what I knew I would see.

Melissa was fast asleep in the bed, her red hair messy and tangled and the covers only half on her, leaving part of her torso exposed as she lay in what I presumed was blissful unconsciousness.

I swallowed hard, turning away from the scene, and returning my head to my hands.

Fuck.

Before I could lament further, I heard the rapid succession of knocks on the front door and my thoughts snapped to finding out the identity of the sound that had woken me up.

I quickly slipped my jeans on, not bothering to find my boxers, and moved over to Melissa's side of the bed, watching her curl up like a small flower. I grabbed the covers, pulling them up to her neck and kissed her forehead, without knowing why, causing her to stir, an almost unnoticeable smile creeping across her face.

I turned to sprint back to the door silently across the padded surface of the rooms carpet, making it into the living room in time to see a letter slide through the door and onto the floor

Part 8:

Sol starts Arms dealing, Melissa becomes a prostitute and more bad shit starts happening to nobodies favorite Japanese teenager.

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Chronology
K21 - Detrimental Adversity · K21 - Soulless Faith · K21 - Impeccable Corruption · ...

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