See Chapter One for Disclaimer Born in darkness,
Reborn in fire and blood.
Savage innocence bringing death,
Deeds of horrible wonder wrought with trembling hands.
Behold the coming of the one who was fortold.
--Translated from Scrolls discovered near Wuhan, China
Dated to 2,575 BC
Scott had been momentarily stunned by the impact, despite the seatbelt that had kept him more or less in his seat. As soon as he was able, he fumbled frantically at the release, yanking at the door handle with his other hand. Someone inside the building opened fire, and he ducked low. Please, god. Don't let them hit anything yet.
The seatbelt finally clicked open, and he rolled out of the door and onto the ground. His gun was somewhere in the passenger-side floorboard, but there was no way he was going back for it; not when he knew what was in the back seat of that car, and what it was going to do as soon as someone put a bullet back there.
That thought spurred him on, and he crawled away from the car as fast as he could, then came up onto his feet and ran. The two guards who had been manning the door opted to run after him, apparently intent on taking him alive. Hey, alive works for me. Not that I plan on getting caught.
Off to his left and right he saw the others driving forward, only a little late. His pursuers saw them too; he glanced back and saw the two men slow down, then stop, staring in confusion as seven different stolen cars barreled out of the night, each heading straight for the Citadel. They split up, each heading for a different part of the brooding structure, slowing only slightly as they bounced and jolted over curbs, through long-dead flower gardens, and finally up and over the low steps that surrounded the building itself. In a closely timed maneuver, each slammed into the building, crumpling to a sudden stop, and doing absolutely no damage to the thick concrete walls.
They did, however, serve to thoroughly and completely block shut the heavy steel fire doors that were, except for the front entrance, the only exits from the building. Those doors opened outwards, but nobody was going to be using them anytime soon. Not unless they first removed the cars, which would prove difficult. The drivers were climbing out of the wrecked autos now; though some of them looked a bit shaky after their ordeal. Each carried an automatic weapon, courtesy of the men Faith had dealt with that morning at the hotel. Each also had a plastic gallon jug full of gasoline, with a road flare attached. With a quick movement, the flare was ignited, and the containers were flung into the front seat of the car, engulfing it in flame and ensuring that no one tried to drive it back and out of the way to clear the doors.
Scattered gunshots sounded as Scott's people exchanged fire with members of the Storm. Fortunately, nearly all the bad guys had been inside, watching whatever was happening with Faith. Unfortunately, they would all come pouring out through the front entrance in just a few seconds, unless something happened to ignite the twenty plastic jugs of gasoline in the back seat of the car he'd wedged in that entrance.
Seeing the two men that had been chasing him turn and start running back towards the building, Scott sprinted back that way, too. He had to link up with his people and assign positions so that every exit was covered. He only hoped that he found a gun before someone started shooting at him.
* * * * *
Taryuu had expected Faith to take advantage of the distraction to make good her escape, but she didn't. In fact, she didn't even look at the partially blocked doors, or upwards to where Dai was again taking aim, only instants away from releasing a bolt of mystic death. Instead, the dark-haired girl hurled herself across the floor and away from the car lodged in the entrance; covering an impossible distance in a long, flat dive. It was almost as if she feared that the car might- Oh no.
He saw the soldier fire a burst from his weapon, raking the vehicle with bullets even as he and his fellows ran forward. Sparks flew, and there was a momentary flicker from inside the car just before the men reached it, and then--
* * * * *
Gina watched as the fireball climbed into the night sky over the low buildings. Even from three blocks away, the rumble was impressive, and she grinned nervously. That explosion was her signal, and she braced the heavy shotgun across the roof of her car. Taking aim at the cylindrical power transformer on the telephone pole across the street, she fired. The first of the massive solid slugs only punched a hole through the metal shell with no other visible effect, but she wasn't worried. She had four more rounds in the magazine, and a box of shells sitting on the car roof right beside her. She took aim, and pulled the trigger again.
* * * * *
Faith had barely made it to safety, the dive carrying her into a roll and then to her feet just as the car bomb detonated. The concussion sent her stumbling back as flaming gasoline sprayed the entire front half of the huge room, and the shrill screams were of the people on the ground level who had been too close were terrible to hear. At least twenty of the soldiers were flailing blindly, burning like human torches even as they fell to writhe on the concrete floor. She looked away, unwilling to watch, but the strangest thing was… she knew it when each of them died.
Her headache-that-wasn't, the strange, intense pressure that had been inside her skull ever since she had approached this place, had suddenly vanished, and she gasped with a mixture of relief and shock as something else took its place. Inside her mind a door opened wide, and Faith was aware.
She knew the position of every person in the room; she could have closed her eyes and pointed to any one of them. More than that, she knew which of them were the most dangerous, even which ones were currently focused on her, and not the fire. It was almost as if the inside of her head had become a radar screen, with each of her enemies registering as a glowing presence. The average soldiers were just barely visible in her perceptions, but the chief up there, along with his head goons, they were all showing up bright and clear. Even the room itself seemed different. She'd always had a good sense of where she was in relation to everything around her, but now every detail of the area, everything she'd even glimpsed since she walked in was etched into her brain like a three-dimensional map. It was weird, and wonderful, and more than a little disconcerting. It was even possible that she was hallucinating the whole thing; her mind had certainly had enough stress applied to it over the last couple of days.No, I think it's real.
Another of the lesser lights in her new awareness dimmed and went out, and she knew without looking that another of the soldiers caught in the fire had died. I've seen stranger stuff than this. I just wonder if it's a Slayer power I never heard of, or if something else is going on with me?
From here she had a good view of the boss man and his main goons up across the way. Eyes wide, they all seemed to be shouting at once, though with the roar of the fire, plus all the screaming, it was probably impossible to make ones self heard. One of them managed; the older guy in the suit grabbed one of the bodyguards standing behind the big boss, and jabbed his finger in Faith's direction. With a curt nod, the man unlimbered a submachine gun and stepped forward. Uh oh.
Faith thought, glancing around. While the explosion had induced a certain amount of confusion, the majority of the Yakuza remained aware of what was going on, and were keeping an eye on her. A lot of them had pulled out guns, and looked like they were thinking about using them on her. If she made a move towards the edge of the room, a hundred steams of bullets would converge on her. On the other hand, just standing where she was also looked like a good way to get shot full of holes. A warning twinge from her newfound sense prompted her, and she looked back up to the balcony. The bodyguard was about to shoot, and she didn't have anywhere to go. She only saw one way to last until the next part of the plan kicked in; she raised her knife, gathered her concentration and thought one word. Shield.
* * * * *
The main entrance was completely engulfed in a roaring wall of flame, as were at least twenty-five of the soldiers who had been closest to it when it had erupted. The concrete and iron that made up the majority of the building might well survive the intense heat, but thick clouds of choking black smoke were billowing up from the flames, decreasing visibility inside the room and making breathing uncomfortable. Taryuu grimly fought down his unease as he stared at the girl who was somehow responsible for the chaos that had overtaken a situation he had thought utterly within their control. Even as one of Akamori's bodyguards raised his weapon, she looked up at them, her eyes utterly devoid of fear. She even raised her dagger in defiance as the man took aim, and again it seemed as if a distortion made the air around her shimmer slightly. The gun fired in full automatic mode, spewing forth twenty rounds in less than a second.
The faint shimmer that clung to the girl snapped into sudden focus; three translucent panes of light, joined together at the edges to form a golden wall, suddenly hung before her. Circular ripples marked the point where each bullet struck, but none could penetrate that magical barrier. Akamori howled in frustration as the girl flashed them a mocking smile.
"Destroy her, now!" The clan lord's voice echoed through the chamber, and below several of the soldiers ringing Faith lifted their weapons and opened fire. In an instant, the three shimmering planes were joined by others, enclosing the girl entirely in a twelve-sided magical construct of translucent gold. Hundreds of ripples marked where bullets struck it, nearly obscuring the girl inside from view. Not all of the bullets spent themselves harmlessly against the shield. Here and there, a soldier cried out and fell, struck down by an errant round.
Akamori whirled on his two lieutenants, rage distorting his normally handsome features.
"This is intolerable! She is making us look like fools!" He seemed more upset at that than for the lives she had cost them, Taryuu mused. The pride of the young.
He thought. Out loud, he tried to reassure his master.
"Fear not, my lord. Where bullets and magic have failed, the two combined will yet succeed." As one, he and the other man turned to look across the intervening space, to where Dai again stood at the balcony railing. Both hands on her enchanted pistol, she stared calmly down at the softly glowing barrier that surrounded the spirit Warrior. As a wash of bright red energy gathered around her hands, Akamori gave a curt nod.
"Very well. Taryuu; organize your men. We must clear those doors and deal with whoever has dared to-"
At that moment, and without warning, the lights above their heads flickered out.
* * * * *
The lights cut out, leaving the room lit only by the fire blazing in the front doorway. Seen through the faint distortion imposed by the shield, the ring of Yakuza soldiers looked momentarily confused. The number of bullets striking the barrier fell to just a few a second, which was fairly good news. I've gotta get outta the middle of the room; there's no way I can take them all at once.
Not only that, but the shield her knife was generating was a fierce drain on its energy reserves. With all twelve facets of the barrier in place, it felt like nearly half of its stored power had been used up in just the last ten seconds or so. Only problem is, one second after I drop the shield, I'm going to have about twenty holes in me. Now what?
A jab from her new sense struck her, so intense that it was painful. She whipped her head around to look, even as she acted on reflex, concentrating as hard as she could on making the shield as dense and strong as possible. Her eyes found the gun-girl on the balcony above just as a flare of brilliant ruby light lit up the inside of the smoky room like a camera flash.
There was a silent explosion, a noiseless concussion that blew the soldiers back a step or two, and hurled Faith head over heels through the air. The barrier had shattered into a billion shards of glittering gold, sparkling as they slowly faded away. She would have thought it beautiful, if she hadn't been busy trying to keep from hitting the floor headfirst. Kicking and twisting in mid-air as she flew, she still hadn't gotten her feet under her when she careened into the assembled men. Faith had a quick glimpse of surprised faces, and then the three Yakuza she'd hit were all falling back, with her struggling to keep from sprawling on top of them. She found her feet, but not before someone had clubbed her from behind with the butt of their rifle, nearly knocking her flat. She spun in place, lashing out with her fist and driving him back with a shattered jaw. Her other hand still held the knife, though the shock that had been transmitted through the weapon when that bolt had struck had nearly turned her entire arm into jelly. A sharp tingling started at her shoulder and washed down her arm as her body recovered, and sensation returned to the limb.
Just in time, as she had around thirty extremely angry men and women mobbing her, and barely enough room to move. Here's where it gets interesting.
* * * * *