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Strange Chemistry

Discussion in 'Creation Station' started by Red Starr, Oct 4, 2015.

  1. [Full title being Strange Chemistry: Crisis at Azuma Island!] My newest writing urge that has made it past chapter two. A miracle? Maybe. Just maybe. 

    This is fully canon. 

    Beaten and with the weight of humiliation forced onto her shoulders, Emma Isokoski feels her entire world and understanding crumble. Fragmented memories that haunt her every night began growing clearer and more terrifying with it's obscure and ominous undertones, and soon enough she found herself beginning to lose control. After speaking to Starr, Emma finds out about an island that has been shown to melt away grievances with ease. And so the vampiric huntress leaves her post in The Cult to venture out to Azuma Island, promising her mistress and best friend that she was to return some day.

    But Azuma Island was far from being a paradise. It has been plagued by increasingly tense racial clashes and beliefs that pressed down a Novice Captain, Hisao Susumu, who took grave concern over the decay of his society. The rather social, bubbly, and highly charismatic Captain resolves to fix his society with small deeds, hoping to one day make a meaningful impact. However, a vampire was due to arrive and shake up the threads of Society.

    Memories obscured by magic, faces that stare and judge, and the innate fear of the beasts. Azuma Island runs the risk of collapse once two powers and times collide.


    ~Chapter One: Detach From Nature

    ~Chapter Two: Hisao the Unlucky

    ~Chapter Three: Periscope to the Soul

    ~Chapter Four: Azuman Ragtime

    ~Chapter Five: Lost my Heart in Soyokari

    ~Chapter Six: Ride Along the Fate

    ~Chapter Seven: The Man with 3 Names

    ~Chapter Eight: Night Kaleidoscope

    ~Chapter Nine: Paint him Red

    ~Chapter Ten: The Differing Tempest

    ~Chapter Eleven: Reemerging Wounds

    ~Chapter Twelve: Show me you Understand ​

    ~Emma Isokoski: A woman in her early 20s escaping the confinements of constant battle between her humanity and "beasthood" due to being vampiric. Corruptive nightmares constantly plague her along with obscure images of her past. This amnesiac lives within a constructed reality put there without her approval, however when she travels to Azuma, her true history will finally resurface.

    ~Hisao Susumu: 30 and quite charismatic about it, the Novice Captain of the ASC Wareme, a nuclear submarine, is the second main character behind Emma. Not too much is known about him, but he is said to be a rather bold and selfless man who spends lots of his time doing many things like drinking, skidding across waters with his manipulation of tension, and tap dancing.

    ~Takao Susumu: Hisao's younger brother and Zuiun self-pilot who serves as Hisao's voice of reason at times.

    ~Henri Borghild:

    General comments are welcomed and encouraged. Pls
  2. Chapter One: Detach From Nature

    Each second passed with beams of cor's sunlight phasing down the lone figure of a woman standing on the beach side. Hair fluttered against the breeze with each kiss of sunlight branding the single strands of long black hair, giving the impression that this woman was part of nature. Not entirely wrong, she was. Her entire soul was free to do as it pleased, free to follow the wind or the birds making their way from tree to tree. However, a lone and almost tired look reflected off her violet eyes in a way that showed there was something draining her of her freedom. Defeated, the woman gives a sigh and looks back momentarily at the staggering building poking through the dead winter forests of her temporary base. Under the light the silhouette of the building towered over her form as if overtaking her existence in a dominant gesture. Again, it wasn’t far from wrong.

    Emma’s thoughts staggered a bit while examining the building from her vantage point, feeling it almost difficult to rip her attention away from it. Lips puckered then slacked. The woman thought to herself

    “This building took all I got and shattered it with chaos..” then she turned her head to meet the glare of the sea. “..Am I even sure about this? What if they need me back there?"

    There wasn’t any turning back, though the guilt danced in her mind a lot harder than one would expect. Abandoning the group in times of turmoil was disgraceful, but how was she to ever take a break? This group constant had troubles and Emma had been constantly thrown into these problems head first. Because of this group…she thought her purpose was to sacrifice what she wanted and desired in order to help others. There was a tender intention in her heart that made her gravitate towards the most broken, the most in need for help. Hard complexions may fool some, but her heart was too big to go unnoticed and ignore those who needed such support. Though over the recent rollercoasters of life running her down mercilessly she had finally gotten sad enough to leave for a while. Emma exhales and steps onto the wooden docks well-constructed by the Grenian settlers. Her eyes drag up to meet a megalith of a ship. Her ride has arrived.

    A yell from a man pierced the atmosphere like a dagger to the heart.

    “Emma! Emma wait hold on!”

    And Emma gasped in surprise and felt a sort of excitement press upon her chest. She didn’t recognize such voice calling out to her, and because of that her mind immediately snapped into attention and recognized the voice as Henri's. Emma gave a surprised blink upon seeing him.

    “Henri? Huh?”

    Emma turned back while some crewmen leaned over the edge to get a better look of the two.  It was strange enough to pick up some dame in the middle of nowhere, but to see someone else other than her piqued their curiosities. “Off to see big sister head out?” Emma joked, however her tone seemed a little sad.

    Henri gave a shrug and took a moment to take a breath and continue. “How come you didn’t tell anyone you’re leaving?”

    “More importantly, why?” Henri asked.

    “…I…” Emma struggled to find a way to give Henri a satisfying lie. In reality she just felt under-appreciated, worthless, tired. But could she ever let Henri know about that? Her only brother? The shame she felt when considering it just made it harder for her to share her sentiments. Emma had to guard them jealously. Not like anyone would care.

    “Ms. Starkey spoke wonders about the place I’m heading to—“

    Henri interrupted. “Oh so this was /her/ idea! Humph! That explains some of it! Coming from the queen of beers and crying!”

    She couldn’t help but laugh at her brother’s way of pointing things out and coming to conclusions. Henri was so free-spirited and upbeat that it almost made her envious. Inside herself she wished to be as resilient. Not having much of a choice between shutting up or lying, she gives a small chuckle and places her hand on her hip. “It’s not like I am being sent away or something. Think of it as a vac—“

    “How could you think of a vacation /now/ of all times when we’re pretty knee-deep in trouble, sis?” Henri inquired, not entirely getting her intentions. They were rather worrying.

    Emma decides to give a cough and a reassuring smirk. “…I just need to go….”

    Henri sighs and gets closer but Emma steps back. His hand hangs “is that because you were defeated…? Ego?”

    Emma opts to not answer. To her luck, the crewmen began calling out to her in reminder about the trip. The girl gives a nod “A-Ah! Sorry for the delay, I’ll be up there right now!” She then looked back at Henri and pulled him close for an embrace. Henri hugs back hesitantly but then increased his grip, feeling as though he were to never see his sister again.

    “Don’t stay away too long, Emma…” he whispers. Emma hugs tighter as the sadness of departing began to hit her like a train.

    “…I can’t ever leave you alone for long. I’ll return…love you..”

    There she stepped out into the sunset to be consumed by the megalith of the sea,

    Navigating towards a break.
  3. Chapter Two: Hisao the Unlucky

    Sitting himself down with only a bag of peanuts in his grip, Hisao Susumu, the self-proclaimed wonderman of the Azuman navy shifted around a couple of tickets in his pockets. Some for parking infractions, others from lotteries he had entered weeks prior. Reading each fine print, soaking it all in.

    “Parking infringement notice: Placement not allowed…” he whispers, then reaching inside the bag for a peanut to pop into his mouth. Though the station car heading to downtown was not expected to arrive for another 30 minutes, Hisao felt uneasy enough to stand up and walk towards the curb of the street, putting up one hand to look ahead for signs of his ride coming.

    “It’s beyond my ability to understand how someone without a car can get a transit ticket for parking infringement.” Said a decorated naval officer sitting on the same bench Hisao was on.

    Hisao’s face wrinkled, then slacked as he sighed. “Color me unlucky then, Takao. I don’t care.”

    “Oh-ho? You don’t, do you?” Takao places his hands on his laps and pats once. “Let’s look at the possibilities here. Risks and consequences: You got a ticket for being in the wrong place in the wrong time.”

    Hisao looked back at the man who seemed rather concerned. Tall and trimmed, he wore a white uniform buttoned up to his neck to show officially. His eyes reflecting the color of the sea itself would make any woman fawn over him, however this was his brother he was staring at. Takao pauses and gives Hisao a weirded look, then Hisao snapped right back to looking for the station car.

    “Told you not to sit down to eat peanuts on the only car stationed on a toll spot. So that’s your consequence. Now, what are you going to pay that with? You don’t earn enough money for these kinds of things, Hisao. Not with your bar hopping and shit.”

    Hisao snaps right back to Takao and furrows his brow. “What are you trying to get at, otouto?”

    “Heh…HEH! Fufufufufufu.... Okay are you seriously this dense, Hisao?”

    Confused over his laughing, Hisao tilted his head.

    “How am I supposed to know what you’re trying to get at if you don’t /tell me/?”

    Takao wanted to just spit out his displeasure towards his older brother’s irresponsibility and needless spending at bars, though for the sake of not rocking the boat with his brother as always made him just wave his hand to the side and mutter a “never mind” to end the conversation.

    Hisao grumbled. “Alright, have fun with your boring life and whatnot, I’m walking home.”

    “Oh you mean the bar? Alright!” Takao stood up and placed his hands in his pockets. Hisao growled and began to speed walk away past the increasing number of pedestrians walking down the street. Takao took off his hat and ran his hands through his thick coffee brown hair. He decided to add in a little extra to annoy his older brother. “Just tell me which bar and I promise to pick up your party ass!”


    Takao wittily answers back in a yell as his brother walked away. “NO, I’M NOT A CARRIER NOR DO I NEED ONE! THANKS, THOUGH!”

    Angrily stomping off at that point, Hisao didn’t even bother to look back at Takao. He looked ahead and stopped at the end of the street and rapidly began pressing the crosswalk button. Hisao thought back at Takao’s talk and did realize he had a point with the whole bar situation. Unfortunately Hisao had an addiction to lively places all his life. It started off with wanting to make friends at play places as a child to going out to concerts as a teen. Now as an adult, he intended to satisfy that need with bars and clubs. Being a captain was nothing to him as it did not even prevent him from having his fun.

    Hisao proceeded to organize his plan for the night. He knew he had to rush over to Azuma island’s popular Kisama bar before anybody, namely his annoying landlord, could ever get a hold of him about something. He was to drink himself to a blissful state, then sing along with the choice swing band of the night. Hisao takes a moment to look down and lift his foot slightly to make sure he had his tap shoes on—which he did, then look back as the crosswalk sign lit up to blue as a sign that he could cross. Just as he was in the process of getting to the other side of the street, he saw a station car buzzing by the corner of his eye.

    Hisao literally jumped and shoved his way past a man before breaking out in a sprint. “Oh shit oh shit OH SHIT DAMN ME! OF COURSE!”

    As the night advanced, the novice captain ran after the station car.
  4. Chapter Three: Periscope to the Soul

    Over the next few hours Emma kept herself busy on the top deck of the ship with the intent of not succumbing to immediate boredom. She was used to running around lush fields and leaping the trees as one of her nature would. It has been said in the south that a free person is not free unless they could step wherever they pleased, knowing that nothing could prevent them. Emma wasn’t like Vale, not as impatient or antsy to be out in the wild, but the enclosure of her small room in the ship did not help much in easing her tension. Up ahead, the vampire glanced at the sea pensively with a hope that the environment were to inspire her somehow.

    Emma leaned on the guardrail and crossed her right foot over her left. “I’m not even sure how long I’ll be staying in this island. Though hopefully…I don’t get carried away.”

    She suddenly paused and gave an amused laugh. There was an island waiting for her, why would she not stay there for a period of time? This thought was entertained for a moment, then she continued talking to herself.

    “Heh…though..” Emma darted her eyes down to look at the ship cutting the ocean and creating a massive break of water flying behind it.

    “…if it happens, it happens….I can’t just stop by for a day or two, return, and expect myself to feel good again.” Emma said to reason with herself and justify leaving.

    Then a person came up behind her and gave a cough. Emma looked back to spot a humble woman, short and thin wearing a white apron over her button up teal shirt, though not having it long enough to go past her tan pants. Emma gives a curt nod at the woman to not seem rude, but does not say anything to her so that she could go on with what she wanted.

    The woman placed her hands behind her back and shook her head. “You’re our only guest tonight but you haven’t even tried out the food.”

    “We want you to feel comfortable since you’re Pricilla’s friend and all…believe me, any friend of the Emperor’s daughter is treated greatly by us Azumans.”

    Emma’s fingers meandered over the rails much like her thoughts were at that moment, but she manages to speak. “I feel comfortable right now…seeing the sea. And I’m not hungry.”

    Feeling a little bad with the last comment, she waved her hand a little. “But I’m sure your food is great of course…but no thank you. It isn’t necessary for me at this time.”

    “Ahye, I understand….heheh, it’s always the same with the younger ones…all they want to do is stare at the sea, feeding it all the thoughts she could hold….knowing inside themselves that the dreams they are entrusting the sea with were ones they could never keep. Or am I wrong?”

    Emma’s attention finally began to shift towards the woman more properly. Her eyes widen slightly under the truthfulness of her statement, but who did she think she was? The vampiric huntress felt rather awkward having this conversation. Here was this woman speaking for her, eyes wrinkling with overwhelming kindness that it felt foreign to her and disgusting to a degree. This felt almost scripted. As if—

    “Let me take a little chance with this,” Emma’s face turned hardened as she did not feel like hearing out the woman.

    “Ms. Starkey told you about me. Told you to cheer me up or something? No thank you. If she did then that’s her business but not yours.”

    The rude statement took the woman back a few steps, shocked. Though she kept her ground.

    “I do not know what you’re going through at this time, and I admit it isn’t in my power to know, but the way you’re staring at the sea tells me a lot of how your thoughts are weighing on you.”

    “A little advice at least….” The woman gives a bow. “New lands don’t require baggage. Have a good night.”

    Emma looks down and then up, utterly confused at the entire situation, but opts to keep silent and continue scanning the seas to take her mind off of things.

    It wasn’t any surprise that she was feeling this sour. Even enough to abandon her post at the Cult to ground her before things went south. Emma pulled back her sleeves and saw the burn marks she had sustained from a past fight with Zaiek. She was weak there….but managed to survive. Then another fight months later. One where her rapier was shattered in an attempt to shame her more for her defeat. Emma tightened her grip with the memory that stung her like acid in her eyes with every moment her mind dwelled in it. She remembered how angry she was…how hysterical she was. Screaming, consumed with rage upon being shamed as a warrior. What was her point, anyway? Why was she playing a part she clearly wasn’t fit for?

    The vampiric huntress suddenly ripped out a silver star hairpin off her black hair and angrily tossed it out to the sea.


    And she closed her eyes.

    But then the sound of her pin hitting something shook her to open them quickly. Emma, confused as could be, leaned over the rails and looked out to sea again.

    And there she saw it. A brief flash of the dying sunlight bounding off a circular piece of glass hugged by a night black metal with a long neck concealed by the sea. A periscope.

    Emma immediately backed off and felt her body tense up, watching the periscope slowly sink back down and get consumed by the waves. There was an air of mystery to that periscope upon realizing that it was watching the ship, maybe even Emma herself. Her paranoia stuck to her main thoughts with each step she took back.


    She began to mentally question what she had just seen—no, it must’ve been an actual periscope. What else could it have hit? Emma didn’t know if she should alert the crew, though maybe without any solid proof she would end up looking foolish. In the end, Emma rushed herself back inside and locked herself in her room as the night soon overtook the skies.

    Soon they would arrive in the Euthorica Islands sea territory.
  5. Chapter Four: Azuman Ragtime

    Life is always pinned between situations where one should either run away or towards the thing one wanted the most. Hisao was no stranger to this. He ran and he ran furiously. Who would have thought that a station car could go so fast? Either he was not fit enough to run fast or the driver is outright bent on leaving someone behind. It’s not like Hisao wanted to be left behind anyway, away from his possible night of distraction at the bar. Regardless of the widening distance, Hisao kicked it up a notch while dodging the masses left and right. No matter what, no matter what. His ticket to downtown was gliding away while he fought the winds and people like a hero in order to hop on. Hopping on seemed like a great alternative to paying. He remembered how deadly expensive station car tickets were. Giving a puff of air, he kept going with determination in his eyes.

    Hisao sidestepped and then launched himself from the curb right onto a car. Nothing was missing a beat, not his heart, not his soul. The casual and careless captain took his adventure to the extreme side with one thing in his mind. “Like hell I’m walking to downtown! Hup!”

    Passerby’s stopped where they were walking momentarily to catch a glimpse of this officer hooligan leaping from car to car. Some in awe, some in utter disappointment. Weird occurrences with super powered people were almost commonplace in Azuma, but having some normal human jump around cars, defying traffic itself, wasn’t ordinary. It was disturbing to the citizens, especially the cars swerving from left to right, nearly colliding with each jump and hard thump Hisao made to their roofs. To Hisao they were nearly invisible to him, their opinions need not matter nor the horns honking at him. The good captain could get away with it. Hisao could feel the accumulation of tension increase on his leg joints like he wanted. Though the tension was not normal.

    Each spring off a car produced a small dent that only grew larger with his will. A slight shine in his sea blue eyes sparked off, causing a massive buildup of tension from his legs to release and propel him up to the sky.

    “Who the heck?”
    “Oh no!”
    “Look, Sae! People these days!”

    Their faint comments were meaningless against the ruthless humid winds hitting Hisao’s airborne form. Air ate away the unnecessary noise and isolated Hisao into a world where he was at the center. A rush like no other, one he quite enjoyed, being free. The novice captain looked ahead of him and reached out for a horizontal flagpole sticking out of a brick, just barely grabbing hold of the flag itself and tearing it apart for his landing on the street.


    “….” Hisao stared back in an awkward silence.

    People stopped to look at Hisao. The novice captain looked back and then put out his hands to his side. “What? You need something from me?”

    A loudspeaker on the station car just not too far away blared out“/Stopping at General Zanhan Station! All aboard! Next stop is Nyua Station, downtown!” /”

    “Ah! Well! Look at that convenient timing—“Hisao began to run backwards before turning.



    The blunt end of a clarinet connected with his face while he turned back and smashed his nose right in. Hisao’s body launches back and while freefalling in this embarrassing result of not paying much attention ahead of him, he could hear a cacophony of plugged trumpets and trombones, a banjo…and was that a flute among the roaring sounds of the city? Time seemed to have slowed down with Hisao giving off a dumbfounded look, then he fell to the ground.

    “Shit!” One of the trombone players stopped playing and put out his hand to pull up a very annoyed Hisao. The captain, though, chose to stay down and stare at the group for a moment to identify them.

    “Lucky that we caught him here but…not so much with hitting him. You think our pay would be cut—“

    Hisao narrowed his eyes and grumbled loudly to interrupt the band of idiots. “…My brother hired you guys to follow me, didn’t he? You all seem familiar—ah, yeah, especially you, tubby.”

    The trumpet player interrupted his playing quite similarly as if someone were to suddenly slide off the needle from a record player and placed his trumpet on his chest, deeply offended by such comments.

    “Oh come on, don’t give me that look.” The trumpet player furrowed his brow. Hisao shrugged and looked away. The entire band did not seem to like what he had just said. “…Lets not lose our sense of humor here.”

    The banjo player stepped to the side and picked up Hisao. “Mock us all you want, but our services are straight forward: We get paid, we follow, we play whatever tune the person who paid us wants. It’s good manners to just suck it up and let us follow you with ridiculously cheesy music.”

    Hisao gave a grunt and a roll of his eyes. “Yeah you told me this a week ago, too. Such a dedicated guy aren’t you?”

    “H-Hey it’s protocol, I—“ The banjo man blinked, realizing that Hisao had immediately sprinted on out of there. He looked at the trumpet player with interest and gave him a nod, then looked at the rest of his band. Wordlessly they nodded in unison and all smirked maliciously while positioning their instruments into their proper holding form. All of them formed a single file line and followed right after Hisao, playing a sort of silly Dixieland fast-paced tune towards Hisao’s and the station’s direction.

    Hisao finally saw the station within reach. A simple arching sun cover and some little benches, a ticket booth, and a trash can all situated next to the rails. What was there to do to kill the last few seconds of running? Hisao had an idea, grumbling while tightening his fists. “Ugh when I get home….ohhhh when I get home….”

    The novice captain stops and grips his hat with comedic ire and stomps on the floor. “I AM GONNA—“


    Hisao froze in place. Not really realizing it he was in front of the ticket booth. The blood flowing within him flooded his cheeks and then his face with utter embarrassment. Hisao hesitantly answered. “M-mm, yes..?”

    “Are you heading out somewhere?”

    “Ehyeh, yeah just….one military discount ticket for ‘town, please—“

    [Doot doot]

    Roaring sounds of trumpets and clarinets became increasingly louder. At this point Hisao just didn’t care anymore. Why fight the bad luck?

    “…and some tickets for these guys too.”

    [Toot toot]

    The trumpet player honked as he and the band stuck to Hisao’s side. Utter confusion plastered all over the ticket master’s face, though he had to comply with the customer’s order. A few tickets were handed to Hisao in exchange for crystal coins. “..here you go.”

    Hisao nodded and then whispered. “…Please don’t assume I’m insane. My brother Takao sent these guys to bug me. Just shh.”
  6. Chapter Five: Lost my Heart in Soyokari

    The eyes of the most curious stared in this jam-packed station car at the most unusual sight ever seen for some. Others recognized the 6 men with instruments and Hisao awkwardly sitting across from them, the later trying to avoid eye contact with anyone. Groans, growls, and insults ensued in reaction to the band, who then began to softly play a tune.

    “Ugh…not this again…”

    Hisao looked up. The anxiety of having so many people look at him weirdly gave him an extra nudge of energy. Tapping his foot, he grumbled to himself while feeling the head of a banjo prod against his flushed cheeks.

    “Derrgh! Seriously?”

    The station car began to move forward with one jolt. It wasn’t much in the high standards of technological society that surrounded the small island nation. It’s neighbors, masters of science and technology, laughed at Azuma island’s lack of advancement. Station cars running on a connection of mana and eon paled in comparison to teleportation waypoints. A tiny car holding on dearly to a flimsy piece of saezer metal wire was nothing compared to what limits the other nations had been pushing. Society acted as simple as it tried to look. Here in Azuma, everyday citizens were at least conscious and autonomous. Even emotional enough to get riled up by a hired band disturbing the peace inside of the car.

    Hisao prodded the banjoist sitting next to him with his elbow very lightly. “Hey—hey err—“

    “Great, I thought my day couldn’t get any better! So annoying!”

    “You know what else is annoying, your face! Shut up!” Hisao growled back at the random passenger challenging him. It was a challenge, right? To the captain it was.

    Raw ire filled the passenger’s face as he spat out “Why don’t you tell those dipshit band members of yours to shut up then, /Snake pest!!/”

    Hisao and the band’s face went blank. Hisao more than anyone felt the jab of that specific word penetrate an imaginary wall of self-control. No. These people, he thought. They didn’t know shit.

    “I’ll play this nicely but /listen here./ A racist mind is a racist kind. Showing that shit around here, labeling people who don’t look or act like you insults me and our nation. You think you’re hot shit by being all brave with those hateful words now don’t ‘ya?” Hisao then stood up from his seat and walked over to the balding man who had insulted him, shoving his hand straight at a pole next to him and leaning down. Eyes fiery and narrowed.

    “We all start somewhere. It’s my job to make sure our roots aren’t cut. /That/ is bravery.”

    Terror slowly overtook the man’s face. He had nothing to say.

    Hisao backed off with his eyes barely showing with his hair blocking them. “Don’t let me hear that again….and think twice before spewing out garbage.”

    “You all: Have a swingin’ night.” Tensions in the station car were high after such an out of place confrontment like that. Racial tensions weren’t entirely commonplace back in Mantua, the motherworld. But pinning that fame against a colony nation such as Azuma Island would be futile at best. Humans, some smuggled in from others in the Fatherlands* (Original Euthoran Countries), had recently began shaking up the social tranquility Mantuanese people were known for. Most held high ideals about them being the “original ones” since their lineages were easily rooted in Euthora. Most saw Mantuanese immigrants and their children as invaders at best, thus fueling an increasingly hot fire of internal fear overtime. Hisao couldn’t consider himself “used” to these ideals and displays of hate, and he couldn’t be entirely impervious to them either. A true fact was that Hisao Susumu was Euthoran himself, but his heart fully gave itself to the Mantuanese. Hisao admired how close they were from the solidarity each citizen showed on important issues to how entire towns dedicated their best to protect each other and help everyone grow. “Snake pest” was one of the few insults he took personally. To him, it was an attack to what he tried hard to defend. It was beyond his scope of emotional and mental control for him to imagine his society crumbling like that under internal bickering and fear mongering. Accepting such words already spelled an easy defeat for Azuma.

    Hisao waited for the station car to slow down before jumping off. The thoughts swirling in his mind made him angrily enough to want to abandon the ride off to anywhere, so long as he had the fortune to not see that man’s face again. If he were to stay around him, who knows what could happen. Hisao felt his stomach turn a bit as he stepped off under the shrouds of night, taking in the view of the city’s port and vast ocean ahead.
    The sea. The seemingly never-ending blanket of death and wonder for Hisao that he loved staring at when his fun has been ruined somehow. Was he the type of person to actually have his fun killed? After tonight, though, Hisao knew he had to take it easy. Something about how the sea never ends fascinated Hisao to no end. The waves clashing against the rocks and rocking the flimsy wooden dock side to side provided the captain with a comforting feeling. To tame this sea. To tame the unknown and the comfort was to taste victory. Hisao Susumu, the Captain of the ASC- Wareme, joined the navy because of that.

    “…What in the name of Rae overtook me earlier..?” One bare foot of his lifted itself off the water to create a splash for distraction, then the other foot dipped right down. Under this insane humidity, thinking while dipping your toes in the cold water never hurt some.

    Hisao sighed to himself. “…give a guy one bad moment and it ruins his dancing night, tch…”

    Then an idea. Hisao retreated his feet from the cold waters and stood up. One by one his nimble fingers fiddled around with his coat’s buttons to undo them to sate his wish. Hisao looked at the sea with hungry eyes begging for excitement and distraction. It had been forever since he had taken a dip. Or was he going to? The coat flies off his body, then his undershirt and pants. For a man of his ripe age of 30, his burly and defined body was a reflection of the sea. Strong, stoic, natural. Hisao walks over and rolls up his clothes in a ball and holds it under his arm.

    “Heh, Takao expects me to be at the bar all night so m’yeah, I think I have a little time for a lap or two.” A lap? A quick look to the sides from his sea blue eyes showed there was nowhere to run unless it was up and down a short strip of the docks. Running on land was not in his mind, though. Hisao Susumu was unlike other humans, as cheesy as he would make it sound in his immature mind. Senses heightened by forces unknown to the powerless felt everything that built up force around the area. From the inside where his muscles built up strength to then release for movement to the waves clashing with each other and creating tension. Hisao sat at the edge and inched his body over the edge slowly to make sure his toes were to taste the salt water once more with caution. A ring of light blue appeared in his irises as a command for the sea. The moment his toe touched the water it did not sink. Rings in the water began emanating from the point where his toe touched, then his foot, then his feet. Hisao put in more effort in the tension formed between him and the sea once he pushed off his body to literally stand on it. Like a leaf blower hose operating inside waters, the waters around his feet were spewing outwards to their sides as he stood. Hisao gave a smirk and willed his body in a forward glide and gracefully began to cruise out into the bay.

    Hisao gave a smirk, then pivoted and cruised in a circle for a while. “This sure beats thinking about that nasty shit I heard earlier….if he could see me now, I doubt he’ll have the guts to say anything bad about me.” The captain sped up like a water ski cutting through the ocean. “I belong here.” He said.


    Was that a ship’s horn? In the dead of night? In a state of disbelief, Hisao came to a complete stop to observe what was coming in to the bay at that hour. “A…no…..a ship..? Nobody uses these docks…” Hisao subconsciously willed himself to backtrack towards the docks again. It wasn’t a surprise for someone living in this island to live their lives not expecting anyone to come there in a ship that size. Those of the fatherlands never dared to inch themselves near Euthorica, for rumors always filled the air about how vicious and isolated they liked to be. An eastern fleet was nearly impossible, so Hisao had to mentally cross that out as a possibility. No Euthorican nation was allowed to trek too far east because of a peace treaty preventing them from doing so. So the confusion went on as he finally arrived at the docks and the ship came closer and closer rather quickly. A street lamp above him lit up in anticipation for the ship to arrive, then with a better look he saw an insignia of a golden serpent on the ship’s tower.
    Hisao widened his eyes in realization.

    “…A-A Royal Imperial Ship!!!”
  7. Chapter Six: Ride Along the Fate

    “I can’t believe a Royal Imperial Ship is docking in this city….I haven’t really seen that for—wait,”

    Hisao scratched his head to try and focus himself on ridding that false memory. He’s never actually seen a ship of that size or importance ever come from the east. In fact, rarely did a vessel ever use these docks anymore. At one point in the young island’s history it did have established trades with the Grenian settlement just across from them, however their brotherhood had gone sour. Ships would meet with heavy cruisers and dreadnaughts the moment they near the boundaries of the east leading towards the Fatherlands. Nobody was to leave.

    With the fame of the royal family influencing everyone as a celebrity would do, an unknown anxiety activated in the back of Hisao’s mind. He felt the grand need to look presentable for the ship’s arrival. What if the Emperor was in there? Even worse, his daughters and wife? What would such a high being think of a lowly human, whom he already has a distaste of, without any pants and standing alone at night at the docks? Hisao dropped the pile of clothes he was carrying onto the ground and reached down to put on his pants. “Ah shoot! Right, right, the pants. The paaaants!”

    “Don’t want people yelling at me. Got enough shit from Takao as it is.”He muttered to himself with the horn of the ship going off again. It was incredibly strange that no dock workers were present for this arrival. This made Hisao tilt his head in confusion.

    “….this is so unprofessional” Hisao grumbled as he zipped on his pants and moved on to put on his black coat and shoes. “...could lose my job if they see me /this/ disorganized.”

    The arrival was upon him. In the empty docks of East Soyokari, Hisao looked ahead at the approaching ship with curiosity and suspense. Unknown to him, there on board of the ship was one that would challenge his world as he knew it. Tear it down piece by piece, impact it. There leaning on the nose of the deck was her.

    Emma had her eyes stuck on the sparkling horizons of cityscape and towers blanketing the dark island with it’s bold glow. Civilization. This was civilization. It had been so long since the concept of civilization gave Emma the chills. The surreal feelings swirling in her mind and heart in disbelief that this magnitude of high society was in this world. Trees replaced by homes and people, cars and shops. Everything. It had been so long since she had to socialize with anyone outside the fighting sphere. What should she say? Should she say anything? Thinking these things and more made her head spin faster than the world. Up until this point she had only focused on training and fighting. But now a different challenge was upon her. Her civility was to surpass her bestiality. For a vampire was never designed to be among them, but there wasn’t any choice for her to not try.

    Though, this place felt much more different than what she had known back home. It was like she was standing inside an oven with a fan in it. Humid winds tossed around her silky hair like a ragdoll with Emma occasionally pulling It away from her face. She was sweaty. How could this place be so hot at night? It made zero sense.

    “Ma’am, once we dock you should wait a bit until we tie the ship down and lower the ramp. Are you okay with that? Should we also bring down your luggage?” interrupted a man standing behind Emma.

    Emma cut in. “No need for that, thank you. I wasn’t carrying much to begin with.”
    It was strange. For a moment Emma had remembered what the elderly woman had told her in their short encounter earlier. Given some time, she didn’t feel so sour about her advice yet she couldn’t accept it. It was pride, yes, but the feeling of being so rude to someone bothered her secretly. She spoke up without any hesitation. Voice nearly as soft as she may allow it.

    “Thank you, sir, for this cruise.”


    “Thank you for joining us~ We’ve arrived in Soyokari bay. Please do be careful on your way down. I---, I do believe Ms. Starkey told us that you didn’t want any escorts to your place of stay, correct?”

    Emma nods and looks down momentarily at the reflective twilight sea. “That’s right. And I chose not to stay in that mansion either.” She pauses. “What good would staying in an empty big house do for me?”

    “Can you manage, ma’am? Where will you stay? All the good resorts are located on the other side of the island. Plus, most hotels in Soyokari are filled up all year round.”
    Sighing, Emma puts up her hand as to confirm that she would be okay.

    “I can manage to pay my way into something. Ms. Starkey gave me money to last me a while.”

    “As you wish, ma’am. We’ll lower the ramp for you shortly.”

    Hisao took a few steps back to allow the end of the ship to comfortably enter the small dock. Curiousity slowly morphed into suspicion. There was that same realization of literally nobody being there to receive a royal ship. Normally there would be servants everywhere ready to cater to the royals but why not now? This time the strange fact only fueled the awkwardness further. Hisao felt a little cold from the situation. How could he feel happy right now? Emotionless on the outside, the novice captain decided to not risk anything when it came to appearances and entered a salute. He expected the mystery passengers to walk down the ramp they were lowering at any time now.

    Any time now.

    At any…..time.

    Then a woosh sound cut the air. It was as if time itself had the grace to slow down into a beautiful sequence of events. Hisao’s drying hair flinging downwards as he looked up towards the sound, ocean eyes barely blinking with the reflection of a feminine figure claiming the gloss his eyes had. He saw it. The fluttering black hair barely kissed by the street lamp lights and a fair complexion. Pale as snow face, button nose, lips splitting and violet eyes barely visible. It was unreal. Hisao couldn’t even control himself stepping back and uttering out a “WHAT—“

    Emma lands gracefully on the wooden ground and looked up to meet the surprised stare of Hisao’s. Hisao blinked and looked back at the ship, then back at her. Confused as can be

    “Did you—have you…..you jumped off from a ship?”

    “…” Emma stays silent. Something about the shock in his eyes caught her attention, but there wasn’t much point in engaging in idle chatter with a stranger. Though, he did deserve an explanation. It was only polite. A million things and a million ways Emma could break it down for him as to why she jumped. She was anxious to get off. She was anxious because she felt horrible and that’s why she’s here. Though her eyes squinted lightly as she gave off a light sigh.

    “I always do this.”

    Hisao tilted his head in confusion. He doesn’t push further. Clearly she was weird. “…Ah, yeah, yeah….jumping off….ships…..always.”

    Hisao coughs to break the silence, though his eyes scanned Emma’s form to see where she was from. Coming from the East—well, it was obvious that he wanted to know how society was over there. Clothes usually tipped anyone off. Though she was weird wearing a long black shirt and no pants. Hisao puckered his lips at the pants part. “Eh-EHEM. Where are my manners, sorry sorry…Welcome to Soyokari. We’re primarily a lax people and believe me…I’m kinda surprised anyone sailed up to here.”

    Was he trying to prod Emma for reasons why she was here at the dead of night? Emma places her hands behind her back and observes the man herself. He was wearing a uniform. Was he an officer? Clearly one with ranks were to be respected, so she gave her full attention to him. “I’ll go anywhere so long as I have a smile or two.”

    Emma suddenly flinched. Mentally she cursed at herself for that outburst. She was giving way too much information to this stranger. But something about his almost casual and easy behavior made him not too hard to speak to. At least she felt comfortable.

    Hisao mindlessly stepped an inch closer, curious now. “A smile? Plenty. Don’t worry about that here, there’s a lot to do in Soyokari….I should know, I live here.”

    Emma blinks at his awkwardness as Hisao then pauses and gulps. “/Okay that was pretty stupid, there../”

    Though Emma decides not to point out or entirely react on that weird outburst. She had a feeling this guy was incredibly awkward. “Great...if you live here then maybe you can help me find a place to rent? I heard from a man on the ship that getting a room here is very hard.”

    Takao’s voice suddenly echoed in Hisao’s head. “/Don’t invite her to your place. Be a gentleman…be a gentleman./”

    Hisao shakes off the thought and gives a curt nod. “Sure. I wasn’t planning on leaving someone out here alone at night to scour the city. Consider this a welcome gift since nobody else came here to see you arrive—but before so, can you tell me something?”
    Emma pauses and looks up at Hisao, directly staring at him. Hisao coughs. “Why were you on a royal ship?”

    She couldn’t tell him. Not even a bit. If she were to openly brag about being friends with the Emperor’s daughter, this man is bound to want something. Emma decides to put in something she had observed about Hisao for a while now to lead him off her tail.

    “Why is your zipper down?”

    And there it was.
  8. Chapter Seven: The Man with 3 Names

    It wasn’t like any other feeling of embarrassment or regret. No. This one was different. Hisao felt his existence burning up in a blazing vortex around his form. It was becoming difficult to breathe with a tightening knot in his neck preventing him from calming himself with deep breaths. /The/ Captain, Hisao Susumu, found himself in an awkward position with a pretty interesting girl staring down to his underwear exposing through the zipper hole without a wince to give or a care to express. Shameless, one might say. The cheeks and top of his ear turned into a bright tomato color while his hand slowly went down to grab the zipper and pull it back up. It was the hand of a defeated man slowly trying to solve the situation before it got more awkward. Hisao whispered and muttered a couple of nonsensical things under his hot breath. None in which actually helped ease the awkwardness.

    Soon as the zipper went up, the man suddenly leaned on a small concrete column mean for ships to be tied on most of the time. “..Dergh…..excuse that hiccup….I was out swimming earlier and seemed to have forgotten about my pantaloons’ zipper….I swear it’s the first time my memory fails that way…”

    “Um—normally we Azumans are not this flimsy—“

    “Hehe….” She breaks out in a very small smile. “I wouldn’t stress about that if I were you.” Emma dragged her eyes away from the man to meet with one of the sailors holding up her briefcase of clothes in front of her. Politely, the Vampiric woman gave the sailor a thanks and looked right back to Hisao. “/Poor man…/” she tried to justify the screw up, but deep down inside she found it highly entertaining. However she paused when she mused over Hisao’s choice words. “/Swimming? He looks completely dry….how is that possible?/”

    Hisao looked back up and coughed to his side, then fixing his collar. “Good. All set….is that all you’re taking with you? Lucky you for coming here to this beautiful island with the least amount of valuable goods. Gotta’ name?” Hisao winked.

    Emma’s mood suddenly went south.

    “…Emma.” She spat out and looked to the side. Saying her name gave her a sour taste in her mouth with the memories of her utter uselessness as a fighter. The name carried an inkling of shame by each syllable, but she couldn’t do anything about it. Emma’s face visibly wrinkled a little, though she tried her best to direct herself away from the curious gaze of the man. The novice Captain asked and she had to comply even though she didn’t have the energy to humor anyone.

    Hisao felt the tension building up in her being—an emotional backlash?—and switched his tone a bit. “Emma? That isn’t such a bad name at all—“ Emma rose her brow at the statement but Hisao immediately continued.

    “—Hey, hey it’s a nice name. I don’t think it’s ugly or anything, if that’s what you’re worried about.” Hisao said in an effort to comfort Emma if she were in need of one. It didn’t take much to notice how uncomfortable she felt, though for someone even as dense as Hisao…just noticing how Emma disliked her name was pretty big in his mind. The Captain took Emma’s surprised expression and forced silence as a cue to continue with the introductions, though he kept it short under the twilight consuming the skies even more. It was starting to cool down the island.

    One hand went out towards Emma, though causing her to flinch slightly but allowing it to happen. Hisao then inched his hand to point at himself. A smirk then painted his tanned face. “Azuman Sea Command. Captain Susumu Hisao Kitadōro. “

    Emma blinks. /Dear Malkarrys who goes around with three names…?!/ Though she couldn’t help but utter her confusion to a particular issue out in the open to Hisao’s surprise.
    “Sumoomoo?” she stutters, not entirely getting how the pronunciation worked. Hisao cut in immediately to correct with a tinge of annoyance in his voice.

    “Susumu. Su-su-mu.”

    This wasn’t clicking well. Emma gave a nod and thought for a moment. This “Sumoomoo” was complimenting her shameful name. How kind of this man. She felt like a favor was due for a return, so she puckered her lips and tilted her head a bit while struggling to put it into words. Such a silly name.

    “It’s a nice name too, Mister Su..Sususu.”

    Hisao lifted up a finger and tilted his head, almost ready to yell but letting the mispronunciation slide. “Actually….that’s my family name. My first name is Hisao.”

    Emma opened her mouth with slight surprise and realization. His identity is backwards! The fact that these people used their surnames in the place of first names was incredibly odd. It did not register in her mind even after being told up front about it. So was that how they carried their pride? Calling themselves after their family? “Oh--! I’m…I’m very sorry, Hisao.”

    Somehow hearing her say his name did pave over the annoyance a little bit. At least he did not feel resentful. Hisao shrugged his shoulders and gave off a light chuckle, then looking around before pointing to his right. There was a set of stone stairs leading up to a higher level towards the street. It was poorly lit at best which concerned the Captain a little. What if Emma fell? Such a slap to the face for a gentleman to lead a woman of her…stoic being, fall because of him. The moons were covered by thick clouds holding in their load of sea water to unleash down below to the island, thus not that much light could be provided. Hisao spoke

    “Not a problem! So—you know, we should head out now. A lady with your….wardrobe…” Hisao tries not to have his eyes wander too much at Emma’s…lack of pants. Though Emma immediately catches on with what he’s about to imply. Her brow began to furrow.
    “--Shouldn’t be out late at night like that! It’s best we move towards downtown and have you find your way there.”

    “By myself?” Emma questioned with a bit of a confused tone. Hisao tensed up a bit and placed his hands into his pockets. In the back of his mind he was making sure all his things were there. They would need an ID to purchase basic items, should she stay for a bit of time like she’d implied.

    There was a slight hesitation from Hisao’s part upon a realization. The man had just met this mystery woman and he was already all on her like a fly. An offer to escort. Find a place. Get acquainted with the city. Like it or not, this was a bitter sign of the tactics some scumbag men would use, and that didn’t sit well in Hisao’s stomach. She needed breathing room. By now she may already find him a little annoying. But was he? “No no no, I’ll definitely take you to downtown and tell you where to go and where NOT to go. I know this city inside and out, including the nests of scumbags who take advantage of tourists. “

    Emma gave an ‘ah’. “Ah so you have a vehicle to take us there? How far is this downtown?”
    Hisao froze. “….”


    /This wasn’t what I thought at…all…/ Emma thought while she felt her form be squished even more by two men sitting on both her sides. Lack of car? Ridiculous. Why would Hisao imply such a thing? What kind of Captain not have enough money for a car? Well, Hisao didn’t actually clearly explain or confirm the ‘lack of car’ assumption. Though his excuse for using the public station car was to “show the beauties of Soyokari through the eyes of a Soyokarite. In slow motion”. Almost convincing if it weren’t for the fact that the excuse was so hastily presented to her. This was definitely slow, so Hisao had that detail right. Emma gave a light sigh as Hisao leaned against a pole in the station car, occasionally looking out the open windows to see where they were.

    Strange streets being called out by this person called a “Station Master” escaped his lungs loudly with each stop. Nearly every 4 blocks this station car stopped itself in front of neon lights hanging by the sides of buildings, shopping malls, markets. Hisao gave a look towards Emma to gauge at her interest in the supposed tour, though he noted that she was growing a bit tired. Maybe it was time to lighten up the mood a bit a’la Susumu. Hisao leaned in towards Emma who looks up at him rather tiredly.

    “Say, this isn’t really ‘painting your picture’ fun, is it?” He inquired with a slightly upbeat attitude. Emma looked down. What did she do to really earn this, anyway? It was absolutely odd being in this place where the threat of battle was nearly nonexistent. She felt like being on edge for /something/ but who can fool her? There was nothing to be on edge about. Emma felt a little guilty about the entire ordeal….she went on to get beat up almost to death yet…here she was staring at the neon seas of Soyokari. The vampire spoke up, resolving that there was no point in putting her mood down further.

    “It’s…it’s interesting in it’s own way….though I’m a little tired…” she says with a sigh. Hisao gave a nod and looked back out the window. Thankfully the timing was right as his head met with some hats of some locals walking besides the station car. Among some insults, he looked ahead and spotted a huge intersection where four crimson wooden “gates” towered on each side. Hotels, motels, clubs, inns.

    “Downtown Soyokari-Seiku!” The station master yelled out. Hisao put out his hand to grab Emma’s and pulls her off the seat to immediately set themselves out into the concrete jungle.
  9. Chapter Eight: Night Kaleidoscope

    Emma’s hand wiggled between Hisao’s grip with some surprise under his bold and proactive move of pulling Emma out of the station car himself. This man had quite the confidence for doing so. She could see it in his posture- the way he walked tall and the way his eyes overflowed with assurance and gleam. The novice captain easily navigated through the masses by giving some lighthearted “hellos” and waves at strangers who eyed him. Emma almost felt jealous at how simple society seemed to him. Hisao has a smirk plastered on his face when Emma decided to divert her attention away from his eyes, then turned around to allow Emma to step onto the sidewalk before speaking. “You said you had money, right? Some of the hotels here can be a little pricy-- you sure you could manage? I don’t want you without a roof around here..”

    “Ah...yes, yes I could manage...if I can’t then I’ll figure something out..” Emma gave a nod and a quick glance around a crowd of people flocking towards the edge of the street, waiting to cross. The intersection was filled with black automobiles and bicycles waiting for the mana crystal lights to signal them to go. How similar to the south this was. The concept of traffic signals seemed to be universal for any society no matter how plain looking or low grade Soyokari seemed to be. Hisao looked above him to see what street they’re on, then looked at Emma with a smile. Dear Malkarrys, she thought to herself. This man seemed awfully positive and incited feelings of trust within her. She thought about the money he asked about for a moment, but it was best not to let Hisao know. This stranger might try something stupid after all.

    Hisao took a moment to look around. “Hmm…ah, Oboro street is that way, some nice inns and stuff—Let’s start our search in that historic street!”

    “Oh? Historic..? Well? ” Emma prodded with curiosity while retreating her hand away from Hisao’s warm fingers. “What kind of significance does this street hold? It looks kind of lovely from here.” The vampire took a moment to observe the street from her vantage point. Already within a second her violet eyes caught the immense illumination emanating from the street. Two flag poles decorated with a familiar golden insignia's of a sky serpent overlooked and guarded the residents with patriotic pride. /Beautiful….these azumans clearly do show pride in their roots like Starr said….their flags and lights…they look so pretty when they are hanged side by side on string….so pretty…../

    Kids with their fathers came in and out of the street with bags and smiles, a vision that was nearly foreign to Emma’s conscious memory once her eyes happened to lay on them. The child in question was happily swinging his and his father’s hand while singing to himself. The father had a proud look in his eyes for his son. Proud. Proud….what did that feel like? The question stirred a subtle burning feeling in her heart. It was not one of passion nor happiness, but of something else more profound. It was a sinking feeling that followed which squeezed her stomach and pulled it down where the world’s abyss was waiting for it. There was a flash-- then the world blurred to distort the father and son into wavering forms and then shapes that converged and separated before morphing into that of a father and daughter. Emma’s heart pounded and roared like thunder and thoughts slowing down like a stream blocked with trash. /…./

    Among the never-ending seconds of triggered flashbacks, a small voice called out in her head. /….”Am I the prettiest girl?”/

    Then the loud but calming voice of Hisao chimed in, not even showing hints of awareness over Emma’s awkward silence or shivering body. Emma gave a blink, then two, to clear up her vision. /What...was that…? That voice-- who…? No-- No no, I have to keep calm. I must’ve been imagining things../

    “. . . At some point when the humans began establishing themselves here, some brought a form of trade system with them. We didn’t have an established economy at all, and ‘ya know we gotta have one. So they introduced their own that centered on money. Neat, eh?” Hisao proudly explained off the top of his head. Yes, this was the culmination of 13 years worth of schooling right here, according to Hisao. There was a brief exchange of glances between Emma and the child, then Hisao softly pulled her across the street by her hand to reach Oboro.

    “Emma?” He asked with a lingering look.

    “Y-Yes, oh...uh….sorry about that-- I was just...paralyzed by the sheer beauty of the place. This...city of yours is quite alive….which is sort of hard for me to process at the moment, Hisao..” Emma gave a forced chuckle and patted Hisao’s hand with her free one as a way to mask the fact that she was distracted by something.

    When they had arrived on the Oboro street curb, Emma tried composing herself and focusing a little more on her surroundings all while Hisao remained quiet and alert for whatever changes around him. It wasn’t like she didn’t like him taking the bold road to lead her around town or that she was bored. In fact, she needed that. She needed his direction around town and distraction from the weird imagery plaguing her mind. Emma’s distracted look yearned for some direction She gives a sigh and takes another look around while they traveled deeper into Oboro street.

    It didn’t take long until the wafting scents of pastries immediately filled the lungs of the vampire, who didn’t consider herself much of a fan of breads and waffles until now. It was a lively street that was two lanes wide filled with carts of food and candy. Emma’s eyes gleamed with slight joy— “Is that peppermint?” Emma asked herself softly, but Hisao immediately caught it and stopped suddenly. He looks at Emma and tilts his head to catch Emma’s expression lighting up a bit before composing herself.

    “Oh! Look at that” Hisao exclaimed playfully, grabbing Emma’s full attention. “The little lady has interests!”

    This made Emma look away and cross her arms. “What..what do you mean by that?”

    “Heheh, you haven’t shown any legitimate interest in anything here so far but with peppermint….you love that?” Hisao asked with interest.

    Emma gave a short nod and smirked a little. “…it has an interesting flavor…but I really do like it when I could get my hands on it....”

    That was all Hisao needed to hear for him to jump into action. Emma stood in front of him as this rather reserved individual with a look that suggested something was very wrong with her. With the way her eyes narrowed and wrinkled slightly every now and then while she was in deep thought, nothing had gotten past his observant stare with the woman. Hisao was absolutely fascinated with the thought of a newcomer in his city, but this interest leaned more towards an innate feeling in Hisao's chest that commonly made him help out anyone, should they need it. Emma's silence may deter some, but with personal experience, silence was all he needed to hear. The candy stand was just a short walk away for him. Hisao reached into his pockets while biting his tongue while looking for something. Every moment or so he would pull out a coin or two, making Emma immediately open her mouth in protest.

    “Okay," Hisao said in between light chuckles, then turning his back on Emma to face a candy cart just across the street. Hisao looked over his shoulder and put his hand up and waved it to the side. "Wait here, teacup*" [*Teacup: Slang for “Worthwhile woman”]

    “Wait! Wait, Hisao! I have enough right here!”

    “What? Can’t hear you! ‘Must be deaf!” Hisao teased and stuck out his tongue.

    There wasn't any time for Emma to protest against the gesture that had suddenly presented itself. Hisao skipped off the edge of the curb and walked across the street towards the stand filled with an array of hard candies. This complete stranger seemed fully ready and willing to spend money on her. And did he just call her a teacup? What does that even imply? Emma felt some pressure on her, most likely out of helplessly watching a stranger spend money on her. But he was a captain, right? Maybe he could afford it.

    Hisao slightly bowed his head down in order to slip under a plastic cover shading the candy stand and it’s elderly owner. With a smile given to Hisao, he puts up one finger and looks back to see if Emma was still where she was-- in which she is--, and then looked back and began hovering his fingers over each section of candy divided by flimsy planks. “Mmm, I’ll take a ‘claw of peppermint rods ‘ere.” Hisao then paused and reached into his pockets. His hope was to find a few more coins to afford a neat little box to put them in, but frowns at only feeling some wads of lint in them.

    Intrigued by the sight of such an...exotic looking pale woman, the stand owner placed his fingers under his chin and tapped Hisao’s shoulder. “Hmm, that’s quite the choice bit of calico ain’t she?”

    “You’re on the trolley with that one…” Hisao began saying with a mildly distracted tone. He hadn’t known her for long, but if it weren’t for the stand keeper saying that, he wouldn’t have begun staring at Emma a little differently for a moment--

    Though Hisao definitely paused and handed the man the coins for the candy. “If it ain’t too much of a yank, you mind putting those mints in a nice box?”

    “Oh-ho, tryina’ impress the lady are you? I commend your guts, kid. She looks new--” the stand keeper coughs and tries to clear up what he was trying to convey after Hisao gives him a confused look. “--Clothes and age wise. You sure she isn’t under-aged?”

    Hisao gave a nod. “Under-aged girls don’t travel alone by boat. Ever. I’m sure she’s a grown woman and she would have told me by now if she weren’t-- not...that she actually needs to….she barely knows me.”

    He gave a hum to himself after hearing Hisao’s last choice of words. “Ahh, well let me help you get in the hot mit* [*Hot Mit: Slang saying for winning a woman’s heart] with this box, free of charge-- Hah…..” Hisao smiled but then rose a brow.


    The aged stand keeper handed the box over to Hisao and sighed. “This sounds an awful lot like something out of "Night Kaleidoscope" where the main character instantly found his heart flying for the first woman to even look at ‘em funny.” Hisao suddenly widened his eyes and waved his hands around, nodded no, and gave a chuckle before looking back at Emma and then back at him.

    Lowest and softest as he can say,

    “Shh….don’tcha say that….nobody likes spoilers….” Hisao narrowed his eyes and then looked to his sides. “...haven’t read far into Night Kaleidescope to know that….but I love it. /Tell no one/”

    Then with a wave, Hisao said goodbye to the stand keeper and marched back to Emma’s side, thrusting the box of peppermint at her. Emma’s eyes lit up with the sheer touch of the box and the soothing smell of it all. Hisao took the reaction as one of thanks and put his hands behind his back, then motioning for Emma to follow him deeper into the street to find any available hotel rooms.

    “Since nobody gave you anything when you arrived, I thought it was in my obligation to do that.” Hisao said. Emma flashed her gaze towards the captain and reached for a peppermint stick to begin chewing on.

    Suddenly Hisao stopped Emma.

    “I uh….know I’m being a bit sticky around you--”

    Emma cut in, confused. “Sticky?”

    “Yeah, yeah. I mean that I’m being quite rude with following you around, buying you things, but I want to let you know that I do this because I want to.”

    Emma remained silent, taken back by the sudden seriousness in Hisao’s tone and eyes. He continued. “You look a bit roughed up and you barely speak…its irresistible for me to not pass up-- you know..” Hisao began walking again, Emma following closely behind with intrigue.

    “Us military Jarheads aren’t just jarheads-- we’re nice people too. Time and time again I always see people judging me as some sort of harsh authority figure just because I don this uniform. But believe me….fighting and defending is not all me. No need to be so clammed and tense around me. I have this need to help...I want to see smiles on everyone’s faces. And although I barely know you and you aren’t from around here, I feel obligated to help you too.”

    Emma’s eyes widened under the sincerity that Hisao was displaying. The man gave and an awkward shrug and smile and looked away almost shamefully. It started making a little more sense to her now. To why he’s sticking around. To why he bought her something. To why he’s respecting her, a mere stranger, with such a tenderness in his actions. The man wasn’t there to harm or take advantage of her. There was an aura of caring, of simplicity, of nobility. The small gestures he showed were because he felt like it was his job and he enjoyed it. Normally Emma would ignore her grievances until they went back to where they came from, but Hisao was unintentionally forcing her to pay more attention to them by showing humanity and goodness. Had he been mean to her, Emma wouldn’t have been realizing how much she has been hurting inside, much less yearning for a kind word or two.

    The vampiric huntress felt her face contort without her control to show a smile. She faced Hisao and gave a short bow. /you don’t know how glad I am to hear all of this...I needed this….I needed this…../

    “...M-- m--- I--....” Emma struggled to put her sentiments into words. Hisao gave a soft chuckle and kept walking. They were heading towards the entrance of a hotel. Now, Emma couldn’t leave things like this. She had to at least thank him. Just when she was about to, Hisao opened the door and softly pushed her in.

    “Now,” Hisao said. “your Suikaitana is pretty good. Ask for a room and I’ll leave with some peace of mind. Okay?”

    Emma nodded and resolved to put that first. Right. A room. It was a priority for her. She wasn’t going to be left without a fresh, air conditioned place to stay. Sheepishly she walked towards the front desk with a giant chandelier hovering over it. The woman taking care of the front desk blinked in surprise upon seeing such a strange pale woman approach her. Her wardrobe was incredibly skimpy and bizarre-- was she from around her? And armor parts on some of her body? Suspicions began arising until they blazed out of control when Emma began talking to her in her strange accent.

    “I would like to rent a room for a few nights, please.” Emma requested calmly, then looking back at Hisao who gives a thumbs up at her. She looks back at the woman who is clearly a little tense.

    “I’m-- I’m sorry...your...name?”

    Emma crossed her arms. “Emma A. Isokoski.” And with such a bizarre name, the woman behind the desk furrowed her brow.

    “...We do not serve anyone from the Rosean lands.”

    Clearly with the expression the woman had, Hisao’s brow rose with concern and curiosity which pushed him to walk over to the desk and ask what was wrong. Emma gave him a worried look and almost an offended one.

    Hisao looked over to the woman. “Problem, ma’am?” Giving off a grunt, the woman closed the check in book placed in front of her.

    “We do not serve anyone from the Rosean lands.”

    /Wait….Rosean lands..? She’s from there?!/ Hisao looked over to Emma with some surprise. “...say again?”

    “Emma Isokoski. Isokoski. /Isokoski/ is a Rosean name. We do not serve those savages here--”

    Emma slammed her hand on the desk suddenly, cracking it a bit. “Excuse me? Savages? We are /people/-- you can’t go around saying that!”

    “Take that back, lady!! You can’t say that at someone you don’t even know personally!” Hisao growled to himself. The woman looked away and then back at the two. “Don’t make me call security to take you both out of here. And don’t expect me to shut up.”

    “Emma-- come on, let her stay here--” Emma suddenly placed her hand on Hisao’s shoulder to silence him.

    “...Sorry for bugging you. We’ll leave.” Emma whispers. She can feel her entire mood and energy dip in one moment, causing her to lose interest and walk away with Hisao. Hisao himself did not feel like things were to end after that. Defiantly, he looks back at the woman while walking away and shakes his head in disapproval. Once outside, Emma leaned against the wall with her thoughts weighing on her after being attacked that way. Hisao crossed his arms and looked at Emma for a long moment as if wondering what to say next or even mulling over the implications of an employee of a hotel chain singling her out for being an outsider. Better yet-- a thought nagged at him. She was from the Syelsumoii island colony? How? If she were then she should have entered the island from the west, not east. This whole situation began making Hisao’s head spin, but he opted not to press further into the subject and gave a sigh himself upon reaching some final thoughts about the predicament.

    “...hey, Emma..?” Hisao calls out to her softly. Emma turns at him and tilts her head. “..was that all true..? Are you...Syelsumoii..?”

    There wasn’t any point in hiding that much anymore. Emma looks down and nods a yes.

    Hisao took a moment of silence and bit his tongue.

    “....Ah….if that’s it….then...you can stay at my place….”

    “--What..?!” Emma exclaims and backs off. Immediately the implications that he was coming off a bit strongly [in a bad way] came to Hisao like a train to the face, causing him to nod and wave his hands around as if to swat away the invisible negativity and confusion surrounding them both. “No! NO! NOT LIKE THAT! I-- Trust me I won’t be there! I have a brother to crash with!”

    Then Emma’s body relaxed a little.

    “...Yeesh...please don’t jump to conclusions like that….I’m not /that/ kind of scumbag I’m clearly trying to help you avoid around here…..just...just an alternative if you wish to have it...because if you really are Syelsumoii, nobody’s going to want you in their hotels or inns….and besides...now I feel like I owe you more for exposing you to that racist...I swear we’re not all like this…”

    Emma stood still. She couldn’t process this correctly at all, but what could she really do? Staying quiet was something she actually did not want to do. Something within her made her want to give him an answer. She had to weigh in the options: people can single her out so she wouldn’t be able to live in peace around here for a while. And then there’s this man who’s at least trying to cover and help her. Emma thought long and hard about it…..

    She spoke up “...Show me where you live.” Emma mutters.


    The next few minutes showed Emma some under-looked facet of this island that Starr has described before departing Ustream. She could remember her words in her mind while the duo walked out of Oboro street and past the roundabout into downtown for the station car. They rode past the neon seas that held her gaze, letting the whispers of her fragmented memory narrate her silent journey back to Hisao’s place.

    “Azuma’s a little different than Ustream or your home, even.” Starr said once while fiddling with a pencil, sure of herself. “Lackluster when it comes to tech, but you’ll see how they make up for it.”

    “How, Starr?”

    “Their culture gives off such a warm feeling. If you’re thinking about heading here, I want you to go without that cynical view you have on people. Not everyone is out there to control you. Among many sour faces there’s at least one who will prove you wrong and challenge your views. Azuma is the heart and soul of our philosophy-- it’s the written and unwritten morale that we, the Mantuanese, can be human and compassionate too.”

    /...whatever she meant by that…..maybe she was right.../ Emma thought to herself while staring at the door to Hisao’s apartment. The duo enters the place which was quite small and constricted in space by a long hallway leading to a small living room and kitchen. There were a mess of plants and bookshelves surrounding the area, hinting that Hisao was one of the more calmer types. Maybe. Once Emma sat down on the couch, Hisao walked over to the bookshelf to snatch a book and grabbed some keys off the coffee table and looked at Emma.

    “I’ll give you a condition to stay here, Emma.” Softly he said to her.

    “State it.”

    Hisao tightened the grip on his book a little. “Let me be your guide for the entirety of your journey here.”

    Emma couldn’t help but give a smile. She couldn’t say no. “I can’t refuse-- you live here. But okay...Mr. Susumu.”

    Hisao chuckled and bowed respectfully to Emma before leaving his own apartment. The good deed he had done stirred in his heart with an extra feeling of satisfaction. If karma were such a thing, he would be such a fortunate man. Though...he mindlessly looked back at the closed apartment door, smiling softly, and then pulled the book towards him. Night Kaleidoscope. The Captain gave a satisfied chuckle to himself and flipped the book open to scan it while walking down the stairs.

    “Now...where’s that chapter the man was talking about…”
  10. Chapter Nine: Paint him Red

    Hisao's meek and unsightly office overlooked two towering district buildings divided by the black asphalt of the street. A huge warehouse loomed over an awning where rich folk and clients of nearby law offices waited for the snazzy station can to come sliding down the street for their convenience. It only took them about 5 more coins, or Ta, to ride the faster station cars to avoid the common masses. The courthouses, the city hall, the county buildings were all within a couple of blocks away from the captain’s office where stiff, high-collar officers came and went with boxes or even some spare uniforms to report back to their commanding officers. The newspaper vendor outside would always greet Hisao in his native tongue of Iyoza* [Japanese] and shout out the day’s novelties that somehow made it into mainstream news in that same native tongue. Hisao could see out his window while filing papers the masses of people holding conversations with enthusiasm, perhaps recalling their bout of partying last night at the downtown bars and pubs. Last night was the night he was to dance and drink his troubles away. Like every ritual that were to be respected every time a sailor were to return home. It was utterly skipped for a new-coming woman. The novice Captain gives off a little sigh to himself under the thought, though not feeling too bad about it.

    It couldn't have been more than a night since the novice captain had returned from sea. Sure, to others it may have seemed unfair to have a sailor return to some form of work after being gone for a long time, but Hisao had already internalized the realities of his profession enough to not let it get to him. Azuma had no reason to be at war with anyone, however, it specialized and centered it’s efforts in fortifying defenses as of late. Normal 2-6 year tours, as they called them, out at sea were replaced by clusters of a few month/week periods where every other sailor would vanish from the face of the island to scour the sea territory that pertained to them. The Wareme, though. It was a different tale. Hisao’s soul belonged with one of the 2 nuclear submarines both Azuma and it’s sister island Namine built and used. Unlike other ships, these two were perfect for scouring the seas without any detection and with the tactical advantage of unleashing a nuclear counterstrike from anywhere. Armed with two nuclear AP missiles, the nature of where they went or when was jealously guarded by the Marshal Admiral and the Head of the Islands, thus Hisao and his crew never knew when they would leave or of course, when they would return.

    With the enclosed space around him, suffocating with its jarring blend of mint green and yellow lined walls, the sensation of being out of a submarine did not register to him. Air coming from rusted air ducts almost felt like the real thing by adding some feeling of pressure around him. But who was he to complain? After signing a few documents and placing them in tubes to be transported through an air-powered pipe system to their corresponding superiors offices, Hisao had finally finished his work with the intention of going home to check up on his stay-in guest before a ring of a bell interrupted his path towards the exit. It was the phone.

    Hisao carefully picked up the call from the secretary downstairs who would normally handle most calls before even considering disturbing him for any matter. For what she’s bothering him? He wouldn’t know, but the fact that she is tips off something concerning in the back of his mind.

    He was right.

    “I’m terribly sorry….Some calls from your brother, the good sir Takao, had forced me to come to you for them, Mr. Susumu.” the secretary softly said with some timidness.

    Hisao rose a brow. “Takao? Is this an urgent matter? He never calls here.”

    “I understand that, Mr. Susumu, and it never happens, but…”

    Beating around the bush wasn’t helping. Hisao rose his voice a little. “But?” He pressed.

    “He said he will be in front of the office in little more than 5 minutes to take you somewhere. It concerns your cousin, the one that’s been recently transferred to the general penitentiary for his trial….Go-”

    Hisao’s heart and mood sank. He immediately cuts in. “--Gorro. Alright, thank you Ta-min.”

    Today was a rather humid day with the chances of showers increasing by the minute with the rapid development of rain clouds creeping closer towards Soyokari. Hisao could feel the humidity making it hard to breathe, though perhaps this pertained more towards the pressure of the news he had just received. It was a day like this when he and Gorro had their last event together. A day like this where the storm clouds looked relatively same. Brewing…..ominous…

    The smells were arguably different in each level and flight of stairs he briskly trudged down on. Switching from coffee to waffles, to fried octopus some officers were surely having for breakfast in their offices.  

    Each step down the stairs held it’s vivid backdrop of a memory’s cinematic scenes to cloud Hisao’s mind into auto pilot. The cinematic experience of flashbacks weren’t complete without their musical scores, or in this case for his memories, the sounds of crickets flooding the outskirts of the city one hot summer day.

    The hand of a young man went up to shield his sea blue eyes from the piercing glare of Cor’s light to overlook the basin in which a much smaller city stood. Beads of sweat slid off the chin of the man as he parted his lips to speak upon noticing a burly figure run up beside him. “Hey, do ‘ya think you can get out there, Goro-san?” the boy says in a respectful tone, not to feed into the burning desire within the other’s heart.

    Goro, as he was called, huffed to himself after climbing up such a challenging hill and looked upon the city with hungry eyes.

    “If the serpents can walk, slide, whatever they damn well please, I can too. I will.” Gorro spat. “Hisao, it seems like you’re not into this like I’d ‘aughta expect from you.”

    A young teen-looking Hisao looked down as his face wrinkled ever so slightly. It was obvious he was insecure. “...I’ve--...me and Takao….we’ve only been free and away from home for a week, Goro….and I gotta say that I didn’t wanna spend my first week out the plantation, away from any chance I can meet my momma and my ol’ man to go to ‘ta serpent city...like this….”

    The plantation held Hisao’s mind like a boa constricting it’s prey with the intentions of eating it. Even if such prey were to escape it’s grip somehow, there was no mistaking that it would at least leave imprints of it’s strength upon the victim’s body to remember. The freedom which Hisao spoke was one that related to a darker side to Azuma-- or in this case, the plantation-heavy island of Namine.

    It followed most rules that the motherworld of Mantua had put upon it’s colonies. Rights for all, hard work ethic, and the like. But with the vast nature of agricultural wonder that enveloped Namine and Azuma to an extent, sometimes loopholes found their way into their society and system. The need for workers far exceeded that of what the colonies had at the time before the great war between the motherworld and Syelsumoia began.

    To fill the need of workers, especially during wartime, was fulfilled by exploiting the fears and violence plaguing Mantua by the Naminite and Azuman governments offering Mantuanese residents to move to their islands, work for a period of time, and earn their right to go on to own property and remake their own life in their own terms. Indentured servitude. Though the idea sounded rather wonderful to the alienated people of Mantua, the roving masses coming into the islands by the spaceship-load did not see how cruel such an offer could be. Families were often bound legally to plantation owners to prevent them from ever leaving their grounds. Parents worked harsh hours out in the fields while their children were whisked away at a young age to another plantation to stay along with them and work similarly like their parents until they themselves completed their time. Families would spend years working for their freedom for little to no pay and often subjected themselves to humiliation and abuse in-part by the plantation owners. To the owner's eyes, they were contributors to the local economy. To the families….this was blatant and legal slavery.

    Hisao and his younger siblings were first generation Euthorans to their parents, however, were subjected to similar treatments. His parents and aunts/uncles all moved in bulk from a small country in Iyozake after having the final and bloodiest part of the world war taking place in their region, to Namine in the indentured servitude program. But reality had soon outweighed their foolish dreams.

    Gorro and Hisao were particularly kept away from their younger relatives to work on clearing rocks and digging for carrots in the fields. Their owner in particular was a rough-mannered sky serpent with a deathly glare that often put out his frustrations on Goro specifically, due to Goro’s overall…..strong nature.

    “Shut your mouth!” Hisao heard once while reaching down to pull the leafy stem of a carrot. It was a vibrant green which showed it freshness and desirability, but it soon contrasted by the noise of something striking Gorro down with their foot.

    Hisao’s young eyes widened and froze upon seeing the suited sky serpent in his human form keeping an angry Goro down for disobeying his orders to redo a couple of back-breaking chores he had so poorly done. Hisao could hear the sky serpent spitting out his venomous words out to Goro, calling him useless and weak. How he could never do anything right, how his father was keeping him down and thus Gorro was an added weight as well. How humans were made to be subservient to serpents and dragons. Everything. Hisao tightened his fist but knew better than to outright call out the master in his tirade. He had to keep his head down and continue working. Working...working…..hearing frustrated screams...and chanting from the field’s supervisors, who were the owner’s own mixed-breed children:

    “Paint him red.”

    “Paint him red.”



    Blood red with liquid extracted from a 3 day old pig’s carcass onto Goro as a punishment fit for the highest record of humiliation. Hisao could see workers forcibly grabbing Goro and turning him upside down to face a canister filled with more rotten blood to dip him in. The muffled screaming of the poor Goro shook the being of the young Hisao as he hid for cover. He wanted help. He needed help. Those bastards. Why? But of course he knew better. Hisao had to keep himself away.

    Goro’s tears of shame and frustration melded with the putrid red that had accumulated pieces of dirt and maggots from an after-rumble the children unleashed on Goro. After they had their fun when the sun set, little Hisao carefully walked over to the clearing they left his cousin in and sat down next to him, staring intently and trying to ignore the filthy smell his cousin had. Goro inched his head slightly towards Hisao.

    “I hate ‘em.” Goro spat out. Hisao blinked.


    “I hate ‘em more than I hate my life. Them bastards...I...I wish I coulda’ done somethin’ to defend myself….”

    Hisao looked down, twiddling his thumbs. “But they’re sky serpents….we can’t punch ‘em around or anythin’....imagine ‘em ripping off heads and ‘ta like?”

    “Well if I ain’t a human like I am, I woulda’ put the master in ‘es place a lot time ago” Goro said with some anger in his voice.

    Total silence ensued until Hisao cut in with an apology and a slight smile. “...Don’t care what they think of it….to me you look like ‘ta coolest vigilante someone coulda’ imagine….”

    The business district of outer Soyokari was a small one, not too far from the main fashion district and recreational area of downtown where all the bustle centered upon. It was built along an old railroad until more people came along and re-positioned it into towering rail bridges that provided at least some shade to driving cars below as the noise above had. One yellow line slicing main street marked the boundary of Soyokari and the road to the hills where eventually one would meet the Tunnel that took them to Namine. Hisao stepped outside and proceeded to remove his coat under the intense heat and spot his brother already leaning on a black automobile parked neatly next to the sidewalk. Takao had his hair brushed back, a brown hat adorning his dark brown hair, and a simple two-piece white dress shirt black pants combo. Hisao saw the tension in his brother’s eyes due to Goro’s situation, though he couldn’t add up to the stress he must’ve been feeling about having a cousin be transferred into the general prison population in anticipation for his trial. It had been the second time Goro had been detained and tried for the same thing:

    “Oi, brother…” Takao called out. “You haven’t changed out of your getup since last night.”

    Hisao puffed up his cheeks and swatted Takao out of the way to get inside the car. “Overslept, had to hurry up and get to the office. Gimmie a break.”

    As Takao circled around to get to the driver’s seat, he found Hisao already positioning himself on it. A surprised and almost annoyed look filled his face as Hisao smirked at his little brother, jingling the keys between his fingers like a golden ticket. “Driving now. Get on.”

    Takao groaned and stomped his foot down. “Why do you want to drive, bro? I’m better at it, okay? And we have to hurry up and drive off to the penitentiary if we want to see Goro--”

    “It’s best you don’t go.” Hisao suddenly said in a firm tone.  

    Takao rose a brow in confusion. “..oh don’t start with me. Why?”

    Hisao stared at Takao intently, as if to gauge at his feelings for a moment to back up his suggestion. Takao’s eyes showed that of worry and knowing him, too much worry would begin to hold him hostage. It wasn’t healthy. The novice captain put a key into the ignition and then flicked a lever on the side of the wheel. It glowed a brief blue hue for a moment as the vehicle gauged for mana, then settled. “Goro…..Goro doesn’t need a circus showing up….if we both went there would be such a commotion….it could stress ‘em out...besides, Goro trusts me more...and maybe if I speak to him I could press for some info on why he’s back in jail.”

    Hisao had a point. Unlike Takao, the novice captain had a close relationship with his cousin Goro. They both shared an intense will, a flaming determination to do better, and pride. Takao couldn’t argue much against that. If he did, wouldn’t he sound a bit childish? Takao gives a sigh and see’s Hisao give him a smirk. “Mind if I use your car, then? I may go visit Goro later tonight….I kinda have something to do back at home.”

    /”Fine, go ahead and crash my only car, Hisao. Go.”/ Takao mentally snarks, but composes himself and walks up to the sidewalk where he crouches down a bit to see Hisao through the window. “Ah, seeing that guest you let in your house, right? By all means, don’t let me get in the way of your immoral actions--”

    “--You know sometimes I really want to smack ‘ya upside the head! It ain’t immoral! She needed somewhere to stay!” Hisao roared and then turned the car on. Takao waved at his brother squirming in his seat before driving off in a frenzy.
  11. Chapter Ten: The Differing Tempest

    [Apologies for a poorly-written chapter today. Aside from being short, it seems to have quite a bit of filler. Emotional developments may be there, but this chapter is a precursor to what's to come in Chapter 11. Chapter 10 and 11 may as well be the two last chapters where some form of light-heartedness or filler can be shown, as 12 and onward will finally get to the meat of the story. I.E: Things are about to get real. Anyway, short chapter is short. This was originally supposed to be two chapters long but I thought that, with all the excessive time skips, that this was a good place to stop. Chapter 11 coming shortly. You can skip this chapter as nothing truly substantial happens, however this does dive into how Emma feels so far...in a bit more detail. And Hisao also with the reveal of Goro. So uh, enjoy.]

     The first taste of humiliation came with the grand price of losing one’s previous perception of “worth.” The undying shame—yes, that sinking feeling in her chest was something that even Emma noticed brewing inside her. A tempest bound with a string, barely being held back by an inch of sanity and self-happiness. The event of defeat had finally ate away past a point where even Emma felt uncomfortable and lost beyond the injuries she had to nurse and the identity she had to forgo.

    These thoughts weighed so heavily on Emma’s shoulders. As each time she were to replay the visions of her defeat under the hands of her opponent, each thought would push her down further with the intention of seeing her on her hands and knees. There she was in a foreign world, free to make her own choices. One where she pledged to be strong, to protect Syelsumoia’s future leader, to surpass the Demon of Deveron and thrive under the freedom he helped her achieve that fateful night. Emma once had thoughts that maybe one day she were to find her identity in her strength. The blade she once used and the bow she held dear were her tools in her newfound slate, yet she felt prisoner to a now unobtainable vision for herself. Face pressed up against a pillow on Hisao’s couch, Emma clutched the red surface of the couch sourly….and with great frustration. She felt angry at something, everything. But the reasons, if she could accurately pin them down and explain them, were too blurry for her to list down. There was confusions and feelings she couldn’t understand still. The vampire’s face contorted greatly to contrast the otherwise cheerful and humble abode she found herself in. And so the thoughts went on.

    “What’s…wrong with me….?” Emma whispered to herself, staring at the couch as her hand shook a little. “I know it’s a loss but--- I shouldn’t……….I couldn’t do anything….”

    Emma closes her eyes with anger starting to make her whole body shiver. “…I never had enough…..and Espira knew that….but why couldn’t I..?”
    A rogue thought invaded.

    “I don’t deserve this.”

    And her head buried itself against her bent arm with her muffled voice overshadowing the sound of a letter being slid under the door from the daily mail.

    “…..I don’t……”

    Hisao knew then and there that things were about to matter more now. It no longer mattered about where he would end up after a night of drinking nor if he felt comfortable. Nothing about him. Whether he felt surprised or scared, evasive or embracing, the news of Goro’s trial stirred up things that were meant to be pushed down. Hisao no longer bore the innocent smile he had upon meeting Emma, but a face showing solid concern and anxiety. Nothing like the news of a cousin reaching out to the Susumu brothers to put Hisao back into thinking in the perspectives of others. It was like a glass on the window finally shattering after one too many stones being thrown at it.  
    “Goro in jail again…”Hisao muttered under his breath at a stop signal. He falls back and holds the wheel tightly in concentration until he can hear his own breathing and inner thoughts slipping out from his lips.

    “….Goro doesn’t need to be there…they don’t understand…..but I have to go to him, he needs me.” 

    A honk or two suddenly snaps Hisao out of his daze. The man gives off a nervous laugh as a few drivers decide to swerve around him to keep driving down the main street he was in. As the man began driving again towards his apartment, the mere sight of the quaint buildings that encompassed his neighborhood immediately darted his mind off to Emma, the girl still staying in his place. The man had promised her that he would show her around town. And by the looks of the fair skies today, a walk to the main park or even back to the Soyokari-Seiku district would have been a lovely thing to do today. Unfortunately, the beautiful weather did not reflect well with his inner worries.

    “How the heck am I gonna entertain the Teacup when I’m planning to visit Goro? Tch! I can’t just go “oh hey Emma, I’m sorry but you’ll have to stick around in my home for a few days while I visit my chained cousin because he’s helluva more important than you”.”
    Hisao bites his lip for a moment while slowing down to park in front of the apartment complex. In his little world of inner monologues, his face wrinkles under a following thought to correct himself. “Nah, nah….Goro may be blood—and that’s important, but Emma can’t be overlooked because of this…”

    “Well,” Hisao chimes. His arm softly wraps around the empty passenger chair as he looks at a white colored building in front of him. “Time to figure out how I’ll sort this.”
    A suitcase mocking Emma with it’s contents sat upon Hisao’s coffee table after being lugged out by the vampire itself to be stared down on. Confused fingers had been grazing the lock for minutes on end, and every time Emma were to get a need to open it, she’d stop herself immediately. Emma had already visited the pits of emotions earlier, though this time the uneasiness was flowing out of a different source entirely: The unknown. She was here now in Azuma island. What now? After she leaves, what now? Not even once did the thought of returning to Ustream to confront Gaga or Vale came into mind. Within the contents of the suitcase was the unknown itself, and Emma had enough of it for a moment.

    A swift smack by Emma’s hand knocks down the suitcase to the ground. Echoes of loose pieces of things could be heard tumbling down on the floor before Hisao walked up to the door and heard it.

    And a whimper soon after.

    The Captain held his hand out at the door for a moment and waited to hear any other sign or sound coming from the inside. Surely this was Emma—and what was that noise? What did she drop? And why is she whimpering? Resolving to not make his presence known, the Captain carefully opened the door and took a peak in.

    /--Emma!/ Hisao thought with surprise to see such an enigmatic girl slouched and appearing to cover her face. Though her back was facing the door and the observant Hisao, it didn’t take much of a fool to come to an assumption with the way her shoulders jerked upwards slightly and in intervals. Something was wrong and he could feel it. Hisao softly made his way in and closed the door as quietly as he can, which didn’t work with Emma suddenly flinching and immediately darting her hands down to dust off her leggings with a soft chuckle.

    Emma gripped her knees silently “….”

    Hisao opens his mouth to say something, but then closes it in order to move closer to Emma. The young woman, with her head nearly down, looks away slowly once she felt the Captain’s presence next to her. Then it hit him. One look to her face while she turned said it all. Hisao stood quiet, not opting to voice out what he thought.

    /…She’s….was she crying..?/

    Emma must have felt embarrassed being snuck upon like that. With how her lips contorted to a shaky smirk, Hisao felt his own self being pulled into the cesspool of mystery and melancholy that surrounded this strange girl. Time slowed down for him. He could not explain the lack of words he found himself having—one being so open like he, he would have gone straight to joking around to make someone smile. Emma inspired no such thing. Not out of Hisao’s indifference, which did not exist, but perhaps sympathy or discression to being caught in a possibly embarrassing moment. The captain did not know such details to make her cry, need he not need to know, but Hisao gave off a light hearted sigh and bent down to pick up the suitcase.

    “Silly Teacup,” Hisao chuckled softly as he dusted off the surface of the suitcase to then place it on the table. “I’m guessing you didn’t get any sleep last night?”

    Emma gives off her own dry chuckle while standing up and stretching. Right. Sleep. She barely did that. It wasn’t normal, especially for a human which stood right next to her. She couldn’t really admit that she didn’t sleep at all, but she had to at least come up with something after being walked in on. Did he see her tears? Emma felt a mix of anxiety and her heart rapidly beating because of it. “Only a little…the sounds of the neighborhood were a bit bothersome but I got used to it after a while.”

    “Ah, ah yeah….” Hisao decides to not bring up the obvious elephant in the room, but does snap his finger suddenly to change the subject.

     They had a morning to do whatever they wanted and Emma seemed down about something. Perhaps this could be a good time—

    “How about we go down for breakfast and some window shopping, eh? Could serve you quite a bit to meet the folk around here!”

    Emma blinks. Food. Right, that. She faintly remembers that she still had some peppermint candy sticks left over from the previous night. Though she may feel terrible, Emma had to push it aside for now. This kind stranger was inviting her out for a distraction. She may as well mask herself in civility right now. “Right now? W-Well, I won’t say no to that at all….heh…but I’m paying this time.”

    “Right-o, that’s on you, Teacup.” Hisao winks.
  12. Chapter Eleven: Reemerging Wounds

    “Do you mind if I go change out of my work clothes? ” he questioned with friendly intent, motioning to the window where the sun was already invading the home with an increasing amount of heat. Emma gave a silent shrug while her fingers fiddled with the suitcase. She wasn’t even facing him. His sudden arrival did not give Emma enough time to wipe away a single tear that had slid down her now reddened cheeks. And like a coward, her face hid from his.

    Hisao’s face wrinkled but then relaxed with a thought in mind. She is just having a bad morning. Nothing too hard to fix. Hisao knew well that pushing people for attention and answers brought out more stress and anxiety. What should he do to ease her into this new environment—more importantly, to pass on this colorful feeling of appreciation with life Hisao had in his entire being? Maybe if he tried a few things he’d figure it out. Maybe then Emma might not shed another tear because she misses home so much—at least, that is what he came to a conclusion with. Perhaps he just needed some reaction first. Anything.

    “I’ll...just point out the big dragon in the room here; were you crying? I sort of...saw something of that nature...” Hisao asks with a careful and soft tone, not to startle Emma or anything.
    Emma freezes in place and tenses up. /What did he say? He saw?!/ The vampire immediately stomps her foot with annoyment building up to a spot on the side of her head. A vein. She covers her eyes and spits out quietly. “M-Mr. Susumu! You--”

    “--You must--! D’I--! You imagined it!!”

    Hisao snaps and places his hands to hang on his belt, outwardly showing that he was wrong. But deep inside he knew he wasn’t. Emma’s defensive posture stiffened up, a gesture he clearly got the message of. It wasn’t kind for strangers to prod onto the business of others, so Hisao mentally chastised his overstepped boundary there and left it at that. Though Emma’s eyes were closed with her flustered face shifting to match the mood, Hisao couldn’t help but smile slightly.

    “Well, I guess I didn’t see anything...I’mma little tired from reading reports all day, top that with not being able to sleep.”

    Hisao pauses and slightly moves closer to Emma, though still keeping his distance. “Though..”

    Then Hisao stopped and took a respectful bow next to Emma who refused to even look at him. Hisao’s intentions were far from bad. Inside this man’s mind, all the intention he had with Emma was to fix the mysteriously unusual wounds in her being. Inside. An invisible place with invisible cuts and bruises that only he could acknowledge existed. The pure spirit he had within him wanted to reach out as he would with anyone who needed it. Hisao rose back up as Emma kept her back turned on him. Hisao scratched his ear nervously and then muttered out   “…You look better mad than depressed.”

    Emma slightly turned her head towards Hisao with her hair in a total mess, only showing her lips forming a slight, uncontrollable smile. Then Hisao gave off a soft chuckle. “I’ll take and angry spout from you any day if it comes with that smile.”

    What were those words? Ones without judgement and barely an inkling of amusement from catching a girl crying? The sincerity in his eyes and the calming tone of his voice clearly marked him as more than a stranger. Though they’ve only known each other for a few hours. Three, or Klaus, her beloved Klaus….never spoke to her that way. Nor did Ziolang. For one who has been in the middle of constant battle, compliments and heartfelt encouragement were of the rarest kind: Easily ignored, hardly considered. Emma felt her heart dip down to her stomach with emotions she could not process. The way her thoughts chanted about how she did not deserve this after failing to avenge her dead partner and failing to keep her honor. All that she had left which had kept her going simply came crumbling down. Yet this stranger with sea green eyes and neatly combed brown hair stepped towards her with ignorance of her shame and defeat. Emma sensed that this man saw something of worth in her. Maybe it was something superficial like looks-- she was fair and good looking. With all this good happening to her despite expecting a few days of just being alone on a beach, Emma couldn’t help but feel that pit in her stomach being beat on by uncertainty. Paranoia...she couldn’t let her guard down. He didn’t know. Hisao did not know about the girl who has no purpose.

    Outwardly, Emma kept her gaze away as Hisao stepped into high gear with his preparations for this morning’s breakfast run. She could bet that the excitement of having to show a tourist around his beloved city would have the man wide awake and actively rumaging around cabinets for something. Emma rose a brow as her now red eyes casted a glance at Hisao’s direction while he opened up a drawer positioned under the myriad of books on his bookshelf. In order to steer his mind away from catching her crying and catching her awkwardly avoiding his compliment, she composes herself and inquires. “Is there something wrong, Mr. Susumu?”

    Hisao cut in jokingly. “Eh-hey! You got my name right! But Mister makes me feel old!” he then gives a light Aha! and pulls out two things: what seemed to be a tub of some white substance, and a pair of round black sunglasses.

    “Hope you don’t take it the wrong way, don’t wanna have you beating me down like a rented mule here-- eh, since you’re from the Syelsumoii colony...i’d figure you’re not so used to Cor’s natural light, huh?”

    Emma is handed the pair of sunglasses in which she wordlessly takes and puts on. Hisao was somewhat right in that regard. Though not from the colony, which should be near Azuma, she has visited the island before. The Island of New Rosea, an unoriginal name for quite frankly an unoriginal thematic the place had. Several ecological force fields controlled the weather within the island to make it a perpetual winter, so when she had to visit from time to time for her mistress’ book and clothe needs, it felt rather comfortable being in what she felt as a room temperature place. Compared to Azuma, that island may as well be a big floating chunk of ice. Though Emma’s train of thought paused.

    Going back to her previous night with the hotel desk woman, it seemed as though the Azumans had something against Syelsumoiis. Emma could easily deduce that it may have something to do with some bad blood between the islands but if that were it, just imagine Hisao’s reaction...or anyone’s, to finding out Emma was from Syelsumoia herself. The source of imperialism and harsh colonization. Their fame was grand as their tenacity. Emma decides to dispel any chance of tension forming from Hisao’s assumption with a forced soft chuckle and a shrug of her shoulders. “I don’t mind you helping me out with the sun here, Mr. Susumu…”

    Taking the cream, she opens it and sniffs. The strong stench of...vinagar? Pulp? What was this? Did she smell socks in there? Emma’s face wrinkles as she steps back. Hisao moves forward and takes the item away from her scrunching hands.

    “Woah! Uh, Emma please….you’re not supposed to smell that!”

    Emma’s expression contorted again as her voice elevated slightly. “What was that strange thing?! Is that--”


    Hisao scoops up the lotion on his finger and plasters it on his cheek. “It’s sunscreen!”

    Emma’s face blanked. Sunscreen? /Sun...protection, isn’t...it…? Then why does it smell so horrible…? I thought he was playing some sort of trick on me….What kind of stuff do they put in there..?/

    “My Rae you sure are one Teacup who likes to jump rope!” Hisao said in a tone of relief, then turned his back and grabbed a couple of keys from a coffee table. “A-Anyway...I’d like to show you a little breakfast cafe that a Syelsumoii would like-- now, I myself kinda grew fond of it. You ready?”

    Emma gives a bit of a mixed emotions sigh but then nods yes while she made her way to the door. She couldn’t help but ask about the place since the man seemed so sure that she would enjoy it. “You mean they sell potato soup mixed with blubber and mushrooms?”

    “...Eeugh, that sounds disgusting….no, that doesn’t sound breakfasty at all. It’s a bakery with...baked goods and all. You’ll love the stu--”

    Emma and Hisao stop at the door and say in unison. “--Stuffed pirroshki breads!”  the duo smile, moreso Emma upon finding out those triangle breads with fruit filling in them are available here. How long has she not had them? The time without those pastries filled her mind with nostalgia and a bit of excitement with the promise of some. How many would she eat? Should she share with Hisao? What kind of fruit filling does he like? Is it like her--

    A white paper prodding on the bottom of Emma’s vision catches her attention. “Huh?” is all she says to herself before bending down to pick up what seemed to be a letter. Hisao paused and looked at the letter with curiosity and smiled upon Emma handing it over to him. Emma placed her fingers under her chin in thought, half continuing her thought train of breads.

    Hisao turned the letter over to read the inscription on it’s right hand corner to see who it was from. Upon reading the kanji/Sui (Suikaitana script), the captain’s expression began to sink slowly. Emma immediately catches this by the look of his eye losing some of it’s notable shine.

    The letter is extracted:

    “ 12th of Meizhou, 1729

    Department of Social and Judicial Stability
    Azuma and the Commonwealth of Namine
    Mantua Colonial, Euthora.

    Dear Captain Susumu,

    This summons has been the product of a request in part by the prosecution side of Citizens v. Kodotsuta retrial #2. Such request has been approved.

    You are hereby summoned to the courthouse of Shihua in Namine island to testify as a key witness to the murder trial involving prime suspect Kodostuta Goro, in which another key witnessed has named you as an important party of interest.

    You must report to the courthouse within 6 days after the arrival of this letter.

    Our regards.”

    Hisao’s face blanked but his mind immediately pushed the weighing pressure and thought aside by forcing his hands to tuck the letter away in his pocket. It was an automatic reaction after reading such a thing. This morning as he was told that his cousin Goro was back in prison, this letter came around and sealed the fears he had even more. Goro was being accused again..what little family he had was being threatened after Hisao last saw Goro so many years ago. Goro was like a hero to him by the way he stood up for his passions and his resolve that only Hisao wanted to achieve. And they wanted him to testify. Against him? For him? What did he know? Deep in his memories, his mind blocked out most of it but left him a darkened a putrid feeling that whatever he knew was bad...and they wanted to know. Hisao could feel his heart accelerating and pricks of what felt like needles assaulting his upper back and neck out of nowhere. The man’s breathing picked up before he switched to looking around at his house, inspecting certain items: the door, the table, the window, the plants. All and each item taking his breathing down a notch. Emma jolted herself into alert upon seeing Hisao so uneasy about the letter. /...What did he read there…? Out of the blue, this man seems like he might pass out.../ the huntress thought, not really knowing what to do. . /Should I say something…?/

    It seemed that this brief instance of anxiety showed a slight difference in what Emma perceived the man as. Deep in her concerned thoughts, this showed one truth.

    People weren’t absolutes.
  13. Yooooo. Eebit shot me a link to this way back near the middle of November when I first came back for my holiday stint. Nice to see a new chapter up since it's reminded me to actually start reading. :5 I'll do that soon, here, after I know that I have enough time to myself to do so. I'm sure I'm in for a treat, and I'll gladly toss in any constructive criticism I may have.
  14. First person to comment, thanks..! Really means a lot
  15. So I'm digging the story; read through chapters 1 and 2 so far. I think that there are things that I would do differently, but not anything that's outwardly wrong with pacing, formatting, or anything of that ilk, and it's certainly much better than a good portion of my stuff in terms of top-of-the-pot unique plotlines. Obviously I haven't read enough to get a full encompassment on things just yet, but I like where it's going with what I have so far. I promise to read more soon, just have to find the time. Even as I'm outside of school and work, things have a way of keeping me away from my computer for several hours, it seems!
  16. Chapter Twelve: Show me you Understand 

    Hisao held his head in response to the news, worrying Emma a little at how the event was unfolding. What was in that letter? Emma blinked and drew herself closer—that’s what social people do, right?—to Hisao and held her hand out as if she were going to touch his hair but regretted it at the last moment. Hisao held out his hand and placed it against her palm, then tried to play off his anxiety with a playful chuckle in his voice and retreated his hand. “Heh, hey” Hisao started, then grabbing his keys “Look, I’m alright if you’re tryin’ to ask.” By the way her lips pursed and twitched, Hisao could almost read Emma on the spot. But this enigmatic girl still held secrets. He could feel it. Deep down, Hisao felt a little ashamed of breaking his composure. This mere stranger was in his personal space just when a letter for Goro’s retrial made it’s way to him. How embarrassing. Hisao felt the tension in the air. There was no way he could really put all his doubts and concerns on her to sort them out, right?

    Would it be fair to involve this girl?

    Emma stood back and crossed her arms, deciding to dodge the subject. Both were caught at bad moments. They were all in fair game now. “The pirroshkis, Mr. Susumu?”

    “Hisao—Hisao!” Hisao chuckled to himself and rubbed the back of his neck. “Boy you’ve got a lot to learn when it comes to me.” To which Emma chuckled softly to herself, then adjusted her sunglasses. “…heheh….yeah, I guess you’re right…let us go?”

    Hisao snapped and winked. “After you.”

    Throughout the entire drive down the busy streets of residential Soyokari, Emma’s mind shrouded her thoughts and her enjoyment of such a scenic adventure through cultural wonders. Every banner, every person, every smell bounced off the girl as if she were a wall. The thoughts choking her out of any chance of being calm. A slight sadness overcame her as those thoughts about losing once again invaded her thoughts.

    The unworthy…..she was unworthy. /Why should I feel anxious to fight….when I fail at fighting myself…?/ She mentally asked with very little hope of something answering with a positive thought. /I do not deserve this. Not any of this…I didn’t earn any respite….but if I didn’t, why am I even here? My mind is so confusing sometimes..../ Emma glanced at Hisao every now and then, although the glances shot by the vampire went unnoticed with her shades on. She would glance at his posture to subconsciously make sure he wasn’t sad or tense. Emma’s eyes locked on to his face to make out any expressions that may seem off. Something about strange men in an unknown world just glued Emma into an observant state. Hisao’s eyes were wide open. Normal. His nose and ears twitched every now and then. Normal. His lips ran through his top teeth every time he would approach an intersection or make a turn. Hisao really does try a lot, doesn’t he? She thought. It was a random question followed by an assurance that he does indeed try very hard yet….he seemed so...graceful. As if he was comfortable at struggling.

    Emma looked back out the window just in time to spot a familiar script plastered on a plastic banner overlooking a small business. It was in her native tongue, Croitian.

    The excitement brewing in Emma manifested itself in a controlled light gasp. “Ahheh..!” Emma immediately put her hand on the door, making Hisao laugh.

    “Ahheh? Boy, what a cute sound that was! Is that a Saiyel thing? Nevermind-- hold up” Hisao held the wheel and drummed his fingers on it’s surface once and then let go to exit the car. Before heading to Emma’s side of the car, Hisao pats his pockets to make sure he had cash on him. He knew Emma offered to pay, but for some reason he didn’t want to inconvenience her with anything. /This is a Syelsumoii joint, but she’s paler than the clouds...what if they reject her cash too? No, I’ll take a jump. Yeah, that way she won’t think this town is at it with her./ he reasons with himself, then opening the door and inviting Emma into the business.

    There was a small patio in front of the building itself where tables with giant umbrellas were scattered about. Hisao pointed at one of the tables and asked Emma to reserve it. What flavor should he get her? Hisao decided to surprise the little lady with something.

    Though Emma sat alone with her thoughts once again. /I never knew I would be among company upon arrival…/ Emma looked around, trying to shove away the judgmental stares of local customers. If she had a taaiva every time she felt her sins being shot at her by stares, she would buy this joint in a heartbeat. Emma continued speaking to herself mentally. /The things that happen when I just...go along with whims of the moment….I’m starting to convince myself that plans aren’t reliable when things change so much...are my whims and loneliness putting a burden on that poor man..?/ Emma patted her legs almost instinctively at the thought, then looked at Hisao as he sat down and groaned comically upon return.

    Hisao placed his arms around the top of his chair and leaned back a little. Emma leaned forward, determined to tell him that he would fall but Hisao interrupted. “Ahhh, sou….you picked the hottest spot of the joint.”

    Emma looked away and snorted. “Hrmm..I could always move.”

    “Ufufufu, I kid...I kid, Emma.” Hisao waves his hand and sighs to himself calmly. “It’s always nice to put your guard down and play around with a pal, wouldn’t you say?”
    Play around? Well, Emma certainly wanted to say no. But why would she? Something was gnawing at her to say no, to shoot down Hisao and his happy self in an instant to show him how cruel life could be. One could never put their guard down. If they do….

    ...If they do.


    ….If they do….


    ...They will always regret it.

    Emma gives a nod and forces out a stiff chuckle, noticeable to Hisao but he does not pursue any questions on why. She speaks softly. “I wouldn’t say it’s the wisest thing to do, but….but I guess it does feel a bit fine…”

    Hisao places his hand on the table, close to Emma’s. His expression changes into a slightly serious one. Emma flinches and pulls her hand back as he speaks.

    “..Alright, now that one I /felt./” the man tilts his head with concern. His eyes...oh she could swear they bore such an intriguing innocence. “..You know...I...heheh...well how am I supposed to phrase this…?”

    Emma raises a brow. “Hm..?” Hisao hesitates for a moment but then continues with a shift in speaking manner.

    “You spend your minutes with me in constant thought. There are some things I know I cannot ask of you, like to know your past or future-- what you want and so forth. But, I do want to ask: What do you need?”

    Surprised, Emma cannot find the words to respond. Hisao gracefully continues with eloquence.

    “Your melancholy is obvious to me. Whenever I look at you I could /feel/ something shaking your core. Yet you close yourself up because you don’t want the burdens to pass onto other people...or maybe because you think it’s weakness, don’t you?”

    Emma’s fists tighten a bit as she mutters “I don’t think that’s any of your business.”

    “Like that.” Hisao says.

    “...Shut up.”

    Despite Emma looking increasingly hostile towards Hisao and his verbal prodding, the Captain gives Emma a little smile. It’s comfort was...noticeable. “..It’s been awhile since I’ve met someone like you. Don’t you ever believe for a second that there is no sort of understanding….we might be two different people, but I know for one...that pain is the only thing we all share.”

    Suddenly, Hisao’s hand works it’s way to Emma’s shaking fist and covers it warmly. Emma’s lip shivers as Hisao’s sincere smile grows. Who was this man? He could have been killed by this unnecessary conversation. Emma’s thoughts grumble /What does he know?! I bet he’s never had it hard...why’s he bothering, anyhow?/

    “We are not alike.” She said in a low voice. “I don’t know how you could speak about pain in such a way when you don’t even know me. You carry yourself as someone who’s alright with the world and is so well adjusted! So happy! Hopeful! What /is/ pain to /YOU/? What makes yours equal to mine?!”

    Hisao’s smile vanished. Emma went on the offensive.

    “If you so happen to have pain, please...do tell. Show me you know the meaning of this world.”

    Hisao looked down. “...I didn’t imagine you being so hurt. You know, if you feel so strongly about pain, I get ‘ya. It’s your own and I have no right to claim it. But you have to understand that this is how I am….I’m one of those guys who worries about everyone else but never about himself. You don’t know how little of me there---”

    He suddenly stops as the pastries arrive to their table. He’s said too much. Emma’s face goes blank as the atmosphere engulfs itself in a solemn flame. Emma could see Hisao lightly reach for his pocket where the letter was shoved into, thus her mind popped.

    /...worries…./ “...It’s that letter, isn’t it.” Emma says. Hisao can’t help but look up slightly.

    “..That’s your pain..?”

    Hisao gives a slow nod. The gleam in his eyes were gone. “..Yes.”

    Emma pauses for a moment, then leans in. “..Then enlighten me.”
  17. So, I'm reading through this all again. I didn't trust myself to recall what had gone on in the first two chapters I'd already initially read, so I just jumped back to the beginning. I find myself enjoying it even more than I did the first time, from what I vaguely remember of that first time I had read it. What you manage to accomplish in writing is a near-incomprehensible ability to ensnare the reader within your world in a sentence. I found myself pulled into Chapter 1 literally after the first paragraph. Some spots of grammar and punctuation aside (it happens in writing for anyone and I encourage you to not mull over it too much and just keep on with the story before going back one day to loom over it and fix what you can; finding your voice, at first, on your own is something that I very much believe in - although, I can PM/Skype/FB you some creative criticism if you ever desire down the road), interesting characters and a scintillating backdrop make for a captivating read that I would weigh well over the quality of my first couple of stories, myself.

    As I endeavor to jump back into the world of authoring throughout this journalist's spontaneous spurts of articles that he has to quickly jot out and send to the right publications, I find myself pacing myself a bit more, reading novels like the one Krista had gotten me for Secret Santa 2016 (finally), playing through Twilight Princess HD and reliving what I recall being one of the most fascinating Zelda realms to explore, and, of course, posting here on ZEJ. Exploring this bit of fiction here, for me, is kind of like fusing the pleasures of those three general things into one territory. 

    Anyways, I hope that you continue this through the foreseeable future and perhaps even wrap it up, at some point. Exercise dat writin noodle.
  18. Chapter Thirteen: The Great Derby [Part 1] 

    Hisao darted his gaze towards the two individual triangle pastries that now laid in front of them as a way to not really engage in the conversation anymore. It had this heavy feeling all a sudden as if a dragon were thrusted into it and it sat on both their chests. That sinking feeling about the letter was out in the open and Hisao didn’t know how to process it in front of others, let alone a stranger like Emma. He was at a loss of words as his fingers wrinkled the letter in his pocket, providing a slight crunching sound to cut through the silence.

    Emma lightly tapped the table with her finger, knowing well that she had infringed into Hisao’s personal space without warning…just like he was about to do as well. A sympathetic look in the form of a slight frown and a long drawn breath. Lips parted. Hisao looked visibly uncomfortable, confined. Emma remembers the panic attack he had earlier but assured her he was okay. /What if he’s about to have another one..?/ Emma thought with some worry, then finally bringing up the concern.

    “Will you be fine, Mr. Susumu?”

    “Hisao—Hisao, it’s…Hisao.” He tried correcting her again.

    Emma nodded. “S-Sorry….are you sure you’ll be fine…? You had a panic attack merely an hour ago..and--” Hisao grabbed a pastry and fiddled with it a bit until putting it back down and scrunching up his fingers briefly before relaxing. “Just…”

    Hisao smiled tiredly. Those charming pearly whites….

    “Don’t stress over me, ‘aight?”

    Emma looks down and gives off a shrug. Hisao takes a moment to take a bite out of the pastry then looks around. The morning sun was already intense at this hour, producing disturbances in space above the umbrellas shielding each circular table and white lawn chair. It’s bright veil blanketing the sight of skyscrapers at a distance. Today was beautiful, wasn’t it. Hisao couldn’t help but give off a tiny chuckle. “..I’m just ignoring such a perfect day for a stupid letter. I feel like an idiot sometimes.”

    “..oh..? Your letter…it must be pretty bad if you’re not paying attention to what’s around you—or, well, so you’re implying.” Emma continues, seeing if she could prod further without disturbing him. “Why not leave that at your home and focus on today..?”

    Hisao gives off a sigh and pulls out the letter, giving it one long look. He remained silent until the distant sound of a churchbell rung, startling him back into reality. “By the toad’s wart! It’s 11 ain’t it?”

    “11? Huh?” Emma looks around, confused. Not really knowing what he’s suddenly speaking about. Hisao fumbles off his chair and shoves the letter back into his pocket. Emma’s eyes followed it carefully, almost wishfully as if she wanted to know it’s secrets. What made a piece of paper so powerful as to disturb a happy man? The young vampire bit her lip and followed Hisao up, grabbing the pastry in the process as Hisao himself dug around his pockets for money.

    “Nnrgh, 11! 11! Today’s the weekly matball game!” Hisao said with an almost anxious excitement, having completely forgot about this. Emma didn’t know about this matball—in fact this made her even more confused.

    A furious set of hands slammed down the tip full of coins onto the table as he then grabs Emma’s hand and pulls her off the deck of the restaurant and onto the street, breaking into a sprint.  

    “D’aaagh!—Hey! Where are we going?! What’s this matball you’re going on about?! Hey—Hisao!”

    “I’ll explain when we get there—Oh man I’ve shoulda’ remembered! Gotta catch the game before I go!” Hisao says, then opening the passenger’s side of Takao’s car while running in place as if he was in a rush to have Emma step inside and get on with the pace. Emma stutters and stumbles until settling into the car, then hearing the door slam as Hisao slid across the hood of the vehicle and onto the driver’s side. What was even going on? Emma thought. Suddenly things went from depressing to outright strange.

    Soon enough the duo sped down the street, Hisao wildly weaving through traffic with his entire body almost pressed upon the wheel with anticipation. Emma grabbed onto the chair nervously and let out a shaky whine. “H-Huhh?! Gotta go?! Where?!-- Hisao! Slow down! Too fast! What are you—HISAO”

    The car sharply swerves left to avoid a car coming in from the right. Hisao swiped his right hand to the side which made the wheel spin furiously along with it. His left hand hovered above the wheel while grazing it just before slamming onto it and then turning it to the left. Emma could feel the fabric of the chair ripping off with how tense she was. Frankly, she was about to lose it.

    “Darlin’, darlin’ everything’ll be alright okay?” He says in almost a teasing voice. He takes a moment to glance at the frazzled Emma, giving off a brief stare and then a sigh upon seeing the girl’s hair messed up and her face scrunching. /That little nose of hers looks kinda cute all squishy and stuff…/ “OH F—“

    The car comes to a complete stop, causing Emma to dart forward and nearly having her head hit the window…although she could feel her midsection collide with the headboard of the car which easily squeezed out all the air she had. The girl gasps while Hisao presses further down on the brakes until slacking. The man was breathing heavily with a wide smirk on his face, but his eyes showed a sudden…fear?

    “Drrrrghhh…” Emma takes a breath, then balls up her fists. She could feel a burning sensation in her chest, her blood boiling with anger. Her nostrils flared as she then raised her hand and smacked Hisao on the head. “YOU IDIOT!----“

    But the impact was a little too much. Hisao’s head jerked forward upon contact. Emma could see his eyes roll back into pure white as the impact immediately knocks him out of consciousness. The force of the hit echoed even within the pure mess of traffic and car horns. Immediately his head hit the wheel and his eyes were suddenly closed. Emma’s eyes widened immediately, realizing what she had done.

    “Hi-Hisao! Hisao!” Emma cried out, grabbing his broad shoulders and shaking him a bit. The man flopped around like a limp noodle until Emma stopped shaking him and smelled something….familiar.

    It was as if her senses were roaring for something. Like a starving dog suddenly smelling a hint of hot food. Hot blood….it’s metallic aroma invading the air. Emma immediately backed off and closed her eyes, not wanting to process what had just happened.

    Her voice was shaky “I-I….killed him…?”

    Then footsteps walked up to the drivers seat as a man bent down to take a peak into the car. A man with a navy blue uniform and a baton in his hand. His face was both concerned and annoyed for the most part. “Woah there—that’s a pretty big wound there…--“

    Emma was at a loss for words and looked down, holding her arm nervously. The man blinks and immediately stuffs himself through the window in order to reach for Hisao’s neck. Two fingers press upon it and then silence.

    “I swear I told…him to slow down…”

    The man narrowed his eyes and gave off a sigh. “Mighty right you are, miss….you know how dangerous it is to drive at that speed? Well—now you /do/ know, judging by how things ended.”

    “…e-ended…?” Emma whispered to herself. Oh no, did she kill him?

    “You’re all lucky nobody was hurt. And when this bloody idiot wakes up…”

    He pulls out a notepad and begins scribbling furiously while Hisao began groaning. He seemed to be stirring awake now. Emma couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming feeling of relief. The man slaps the paper into Hisao’s face, causing him to groan. “Ah, you. Don’t you freaking speed like that again, or else you’ll be losing more than a bit of blood, you hear? No other officer will take kindly to speeders like you who are a constant trouble around these parts.”

    Hisao opened his eyes and gave off a louder groan, then sitting up and holding his head as the officer tipped his hat at Emma and walked away. Upon closer inspection, Emma saw this officer’s vehicle in front of their car. Hisao was about to crash into it before they stopped. Emma immediately turned to her side and leaned forward, her hands gripping the chair as she gritted her teeth. “Where….”

    Emma’s voice suddenly began to grow louder. “Where the /hell/ did you learn how to drive? Do you even know how?! What the FUCK!”

    Among his painful headache and now the realization that he’s gotten a ticket, Hisao looked at his bloodied hand from holding his head and then gave off….a chuckle. He immediately looks at Emma as if nothing had happened. As if Emma hadn’t hit him. “With talents like mine, I was born a natural at this.”

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