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In Pursuit of God (Fury)

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Eiji had first heard about the destruction of Telerian when he had been on his way to the fallen city. He had come into a great windfall after a job when his employer had tried to kill him; and he had looted the wealthy mans estate. After fencing off the pilfered items, he decided that he would buy an airship; and Telerian was well known for the high quality of their vessels. On his way he had stopped at a tavern and struck up a friendship with the barkeep. During the course of their conversation, he had mentioned where he was headed, and the other man had told him of the cities destruction. Disappointed, he had squandered most of his newfound coin on women and booze before putting what was left in his personal savings. 

Now fate had seen fit to find him finishing the journey he had started years ago; but this time he wasn't alone. Beside him was Shi Ku, one of the Minari of the Kanshi branch of the clan. Despite his low rank, the man was qualified enough to have been at least a Shinobi, or maybe even a branch head. The man made no bones about the fact that he was only there because he was being paid, and that was fine. As long as he had the resources of an empire behind him, he was sure that he wouldn't have to worry about someone else buying the mans services out from under him.

The desolate streets were quiet save for the occasional far off screech of a wyvern, or the creeks and groans of ruined buildings settling. Eiji and his companion had made the journey in silence for the most part, but now it was time to fill him in.

"We're here to acquire a powerful airship known as Godfury. If we go straight to the old docks, we would encounter too much resistance; but I've heard tales about survivors still living underground. They know how to navigate this city better than anyone, so I'm hoping they might know a better route. We just have to find them."

@Praetorian @Twitterpated

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Shi follows behind Eiji, not for any tactical reason, but because the whole situation has him feeling lackluster at best. Eiji has proven to be a terrible conversationalist, the scenery is largely boring, and the sounds are about as intriguing as a bullfrog croaking outside his bedroom window at 3 am. Although, at 3 am he would probably set the grass on fire to shut the frog up. In the instance of wyvern screeches, well he isn't overly sure what it would take to shut one of those up... probably stabbing it a lot. While pondering the feasibility  and economics of stabbing a wyvern into silence, Eiji finally speaks.

"Godfury, huh?" Shi's head tilts back as he looks off into the sky. "What makes this particular airship noteworthy? And considering the state of the city, why assume it hasn't been looted yet... or that it is even serviceable?" Within any luck, Eiji has more evidence than a rumor or hunch. If not, well Shi is getting paid for the boondoggle nonetheless, so it didn't really matter. Although, if a leader is prone to wild goose chases, it might be wise to find a better employer. "Also, what kind of resistance? And why should we trust the survivors? We are outsiders, with nothing to offer them, potentially eating up their resources. Depending on what kind of resistance might be near or around the docks.... well I might rather deal with that than backstabbing two timing, double crossing cannibals with a sob story."

Although going underground would maximize Shi's combat effectiveness, his preference in this situation is to take the high ground. There is a good chance that a building or tower, of significant height, is still standing. From the top of that they would be able to survey their surroundings, maybe even catch sight of whatever this resistance is..... but no, going underground into the unknown is an excellent choice too. "Just so you know, I'm not particularly fond of subterranean mazes or sewers. I had a bad experience with a sewer once. Methane explosions are nasty things."

Stopping at a manhole cover, he looks down at it and shudders. "Plus the smell. It's the worst." Internally he gags a little, the memory the cover stirs up comes with its own unpleasant smells. "Anyway, how do you propose we find these hidden survivors?" He finally looks at Eiji, expecting a real answer.

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As Shi bombarded him with questions, Eiji considered that perhaps he should have tried to engage the other man in conversation on their way here. Now that he had the chance to speak, the questions just kept on coming. Seeing no sense in trying to break in and answer any of the myriad queries, Eiji would wait until he stopped before answering. He was at least somewhat glad that the Minari was showing some interest in the job. An inquisitive mind was a good trait for someone like him.

"To answer those questions in no particular order," he began, "I suspect my contact used the term, 'underground,' in a figurative sense; the survivors are said to live in the abandoned buildings, though they are said to travel using the old sewer network. The streets are filled with undead, vampires especially, and dragons and wyverns patrol the skies. I never said I trusted the survivors; but we might have more to offer them than you think. As for Godfury itself, the ship is huge, at least twice the size of similar airships, and heavily armored. It is said to be exceptionally well armed. You are right of course that it could be gone, though my intel suggests otherwise. Even if it is gone, there were a great many airships there, each of them exceptionally well made. If we get there and Godfury is gone, we shall simply take one of those."

Eiji stopped by a lamp post and examined it, "As for how we shall find them, your answer is here."

Scrawled into the lamp post was a crude drawing of a house with an arrow pointing west.

"The survivors use these to navigate the city. Keep an eye out for them. We head west for now."

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 Shi listens intently, picking what he thinks is relevant from the conversation. Evidentially, huge and well armored are desirable traits in an airship. The notion seems laughable at best. Big, slow, easy to hit things are never desirable, especially when they are exposed to near infinite angles of attacks. Although he isn’t aware of the exact equation, the assassin understands that there is a direct correlation between weight, speed, and energy, and the more something weighs the more energy it takes to get it moving, and the slower it’ll go. This is even more true for aircraft, which are at a larger disadvantage. Armaments and appreciable armor meant that this particular craft would probably need to be huge and have a lot of open spaces, spaces that couldn’t be used for anything. It being struck by enemy fire would undoubtedly be an inevitability, a factor in its design. However, as a matter of personal preference, the assassin would rather not be caught thousands of feet above the ground in a craft that is intended to wade through anti-aircraft fire with meaningful way to avoid it. Tanking hits is the dumbest of strategies, something he’s made a career by capitalizing on.

“Well, I’ll certainly help you find this deathtrap.” He finally replies. “However, you can’t pay me enough to ride around in it.” He pauses, momentarily while looking at a crude drawing of a house on the side of the building and another arrow pointing down an alleyway. “I don’t suppose you know how to pilot an airship?” Another pause as he turns in place to look down the alleyway. “You know. Vampires and many manner of undead retain human levels of intelligence. Some exceed human levels of intelligence.” He turns back to the crudely dawn house. “I don’t think it would take much to figure out what these symbols mean. It also wouldn’t take anything at all to reproduce them, in order to guide cattle to the slaughterhouse.” He finally turns to Eiji and extends his right hand to gesture him down the dark side street. “After you boss.”

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His clansman's relentless pessimism was beginning to grate on Eiji; even more so because none of what the man said was necessarily untrue. While he had never been a great believer in the power of positive thinking, the persistent negativity was exhausting. There was also the implication in his words that he was smarter than his employer; and perhaps he was. But working with someone who always made sure you knew how little they thought of you was irritating. Still, he hadn't hired the man for his personality. Shi was good at his job, and he intended to make full use of them.

"I do know how to fly one actually," he replied," and you're point about the intelligence of vampires is well taken. The survivors are aware of it too. It's why there are multiple symbols, many leading to quite literal dead ends."

Eiji walked past his sarcastic employee and followed a series of arrows until they reached a burnt out shopfront. From the street it appeared empty, but that didn't mean anything in this place. Turning to face Shi, he made the same, "after you," gesture as the assassin had made before.

"If the signs are right, this is an outpost. Please be so kind as to scout it out."

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Whatever misgivings Eiji has about Shi’s line of thought, are entirely fabrications on his behalf. The current situation is a product of Eiji failing to frontload the assassin with relevant information, leaving Shi to play catch up. Stuck with a mind that relentlessly over analyzes everything, the situation at hand fails to meet his standards for preparation. Presumably Shi is being paid to do his job, and to do it well, and part of doing his job well requires him to dissect the situation and account for as many variables as possible so that he can successfully execute countermeasures to ensure success. And while pessimism might very well be annoying, the truth is that it is more useful than optimism. Expecting and planning for the worst, makes a person more prepared than someone who simply expects the best. Optimism is for fools, and fools end up dead.

“Well, that’s really unfortunate. Guess we will have to conscript someone that knows how to fly one.” The comment is made with all of the same stoic emptiness as before, suggesting that he is isn't bothered by the fact that Eiji is sending him into a potential deathtrap.

Lacing his fingers together, he extends his arms out in front of him, and rotates his hands so that his palms face out. A series of cracks ripple through his knuckles as he steps over shattered glass and the remains of a door. The distinct crunch of crumbling debris beneath his feet echo through bleak and predominantly empty space. Although streams of light are able to writhe through cracks and holes in the wall and ceiling, the space is largely an abysmal void.

It takes Shi’s eyes just a moment to start adjusting, his pupils gradually dilating to consume whatever sparse light is available. His gaze drifts from right to left, working over amorphous shadows that gradually become vague shapes, and eventually materialize as semi-familiar objects. Crushed display cases, bits and pieces of tables, section of ductwork, and mounds of rubble from a variety of locations all litter the ground without rhyme or reason to their distribution. And although he can neither feel nor taste it, there is an undeniably viscous quality to the air that is laden with distinctively earthy staleness.

Venturing further into the darkness, his trek takes him to the near dead center of the room, where the ground opens up into a large pit. He can barely make out the shape of a busted waterline, and the lack of sound indicates that it has long since dried up. Nudging a pebble with his foot, sends it tumbling down the side; however it’s so dark at the bottom of the pit that the only hint to its destination is a barely audible splash.

Dropping to his haunches, Shi retrieves a larger rock from the ground and then stands back up. Turning in the direction of the display case remains, he chucks the stone. A second later and the silence is replaced by the rock shattering the glass, and the ever-distinctive pattering of shards cascading into and across the ground. The silence returns almost immediately, but is abruptly interrupted by the dullest of whines.

“Saaaaaaaaave me, please.”

Shi rotates in place, aligning himself with the sound.

“Please, save me.” The call, nothing more than a whimper, is louder than the last.

“I don’t want to be alone, save me.” The voice gets louder, its pleading tone and higher pitch suggesting a child.

A door in the back of the building swings open and then closes, soft and irregular footsteps pitter across the ground. From around the corner of the cashier’s counter, a small child no older than 2 or 3 stumbles out. “Please….. help me.”

A mop of dirty blonde hair conceals her eyes, leaving only tattered clothes and marred skin as the other noticeable traits that are readily observable.

“Please mister.” The child stumbles toward Shi, its arms held up, reaching out for aid. “Pleeeeeeease.”

With the child now halfway to him, Shi starts to walk toward her, only coming to a stop at arm’s length. Extending his left arm out, he places his palm against the top of her head and then locks his elbow. “They say that Drekavac, disguised as children, are death omens.” The words are spoken as Shi drops into a crouch, leveling his face with the child. “But you should know ….” His wrist flexes causing a sharp click. From beneath his forearm a hollow metal spikes slides forward, dressed in gold and silver lattice, and punctures through the front of the child’s skull and then out of base of its neck. The child’s body writhes and smokes, the white skin and dingy clothes peeling away to reveal a pinkish purple leathery hide. The illusion concealing its face melts, revealing a gaping jaw with jagged teeth, oversized compound eyes, two slits for a nose, and segmented horns. “You should know that I am death.”

His hand withdraws from the creature, the spike sliding back into place as he does so, and the drekavac’s body drops limply to the ground.

Taking a few seconds to study it, there are a few additional notable characteristics. Its hands have three clawed fingers and an opposable thumb. Its legs have reversed knee joints and terminate into a singular claw. And, by all accounts, it is genderless.

Coming to a stand he wiggles his foot under the body and then punts it over the edge of the pit, sending it to water and dirt filled grave.

“Seems empty.” He finally calls out after a second of waiting. If there are more of them, they aren’t coming just yet. “How far do you want me to go without you?”

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It wouldn't have taken a person with Eiji's enhanced hearing to eavesdrop on what was happening inside; but he decided to let Shi handle it his way. Whether the being turned out to be a human or a beast he would learn something from the mans reaction. From what transpired he learned that the Kanshi was both perceptive, and decisive. Playing along with the Drekavac's ruse long enough to close in and strike the killing blow also showed a keen tactical mind. The one liner about being death showed that he was either confident no one could hear him, or simply didn't care. Either way, the clan head chuckled quietly before heading in. 

"Sounds like you're earning your pay, Death-san," he said before heading to the door the creature had come out of. 

When he opened it he was immediately reminded of a slaughterhouse. It wasn't just the fact that there were numerous human corpses, and blood and other viscera coating every surface. No, what triggered that memory was the way that the bodies had been hung upside down; throats cut, torsos opened up to allow the internal organs to spill out. The scent of blood was thick in the air; and the few candles lighting the room cast eerie shadows on the walls.

"This is recent," he said, sniffing the air a few times to be sure, "The blood is still fresh. Your friend must have been dressing them when we arrived."

Moving forward, he saw laid a hand on a few of the bodies and their warmth confirmed his guess. Looking down, he noticed footprints leading to a plain section of wall; and more inspection revealed a humanoid handprint on a particular brick. Pressing it caused the section of wall to shudder and swing open, leading to a dirt path lit by torches. Kneeling down he inspected the footprints left in the soil.

"Not more than a few hours old," he said, rising, "If we hurry we might catch up. There could be survivors."

He knew it was a longshot, but it was the best plan he had right now. Besides, if he was being honest with himself, he couldn't just leave anyone left alive to their fates. Trusting Shi to fall in behind him, he took off down the path.

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As Eiji crosses the threshold and is consumed by the growing darkness, Shi cants his head to look at him. “Anata wa Shi o imi suru.” (あなたは死を意味する) The correction is made with all of the enthusiasm that Eiji might have come to expect from him. Although, even if it didn’t show, he is nonetheless amused by his own word play. Unless written, Shi is verbally indistinguishable from Shi , and either equally suit his needs.

Following Eiji into what he assumed to be a storeroom or breakroom, Shi finds himself surrounded by human remains. “Supposedly,” he stops talking to press his fingers into a chunk of hanging thigh, causing it to rock back and forth along its suspensions. “the drekavac are the product of a child dying, its soul damned and unable to pass on.” His hand withdraws from the thigh, his fingers pressing together and then withdrawing from one another as he estimates the viscosity of the blood. Independently he reaches a similar conclusion to Eiji.

“I concur.” Although the immediate situation and the recency of it are little more than trivial matters, Shi finds his mind wandering through a darker path, looking into the extreme ramifications that are the most probable based on the available data. His ultimate conclusion is grim, and when Eiji opens a hidden door, it only gets grimmer.

Wiping his fingertips on the wall, he follows behind Eiji, stopping shortly after. His head turns from right to left and then back. The door could be left open, ensuring they have an escape route but permitting all manner of creature to stumble in. Or it could be closed, pretty much locking them in but also preventing them from being flanked. Ultimately, he decides that he’d rather be trapped than ambushed, and pulls the door shut. Only after the locking mechanism clicks into place does he chase after Eiji.

A few moments later and he’s caught up, his footfalls, although unnaturally soft, announcing his arrival seconds before he is within view. Matching pace with the other, no longer trailing behind him, he offers the slightest bit of expression. Although subtle, the contours of his visage and shape of his brow hint at concern. “So, I was thinking.” He pauses just a moment to organize his thoughts. “Lesser undead congregate into hordes due to mutual attraction. Vampires have their families and will hunt together. Lich usually have lesser undead with them.” The implication is obvious, there is almost never just one. “I don’t think I brought enough silver.” Although he is admitting that he isn’t properly prepared for the challenges ahead, Shi doesn’t blame himself. Rather, the lack of preparation is due to a lack of information, which is wholly someone else’s fault. And although the false face emotes something other than confidence, his voice might as well have been that of a monotoned history teacher reading a list of dates from a textbook.

The winding tunnel opens up, and with the increased space there is a noticeable reduction in light. Stopping at the last torch hanging on the wall, Shi retrieves it and then ventures forth into the cavern. From the faint glow of the flickering light, shadows dance and quiver across a shanty town made of rotted boards and repurposed trash. Pointing the flaming end of the torch toward a tightly packed bundle of buildings, Shi offers up the following, “We could set it on fire and see what comes running out.” If he is joking or not isn’t immediately obvious in tone alone. “Although, I suppose we’d suffocate if I did.”

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"Last part seems pretty likely," he agreed, "Low ceiling, little ventilation, and the fire could cut us off from any escape routes."

Slowly, Eiji advanced into the shanty town, footsteps almost silent as he moved along the dirt path. The silence in the cavern was eerie, and he could hear water dripping from the ceiling to collect in pools scattered around the camp. His left hand moved to his sword; pushing the blade just slightly out of the sheathe in preparation for battle. That was the one thing he was certain of as he made his way deeper inside; they would be attacked. Just because he couldn't yet sense the vampires that had attacked this place didn't mean that they weren't there. 

When they reached the center of the makeshift town, a sort of impromptu town square, he realized why there had been no sign of anyone on the way in. Corpses were stacked in a haphazard pile. Kneeling not far away were around a dozen people, mostly women, bound and gagged. Their eyes were wild with panic, and they were attempting to scream something through their gags.

That was when a chorus of ear piercing shrieks rose from all around them, and dozens of vampires appeared on the rooftops around them. One jumped down and charged Eiji, who grabbed it by the throat and slammed it to the ground. As it writhed in his grip, his eyes went black, his teeth lengthened, and claws sprouted from his finger tips. With a roar, he ripped the creatures head from its body before crushing its skull in his hand. Looking to the rest, he issued a roar of challenge, and the horde responded by charging.

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Shi watches the scene unfold with a morbid interest. Not because Eiji’s ‘transformation’ is particularly noteworthy or because of the particular level of brutality employed in dispatching the vampire, nor even because of the ease at which he did it with. Rather, it’s because he is torn between what he wants to do and what he believes he is suppose to do. Eiji is the perfect distraction… and should by all accounts enable Shi to do whatever he pleases, including picking off vampires that aren’t paying attention. However, Eiji is also his employer and if his employer were to die, Shi would no longer be employed. And if there had been only one or two vampires, Shi might have very well been inclined to just let Eiji do as he pleased. But, even if he outclassed them in every regard, the numbers simply weren’t in his favor. The vampires didn’t need to be stronger or faster, they just needed to be lucky, and the volume of them ensured that probability is on their side. It isn’t a matter of if one of them will land a lucky blow, but when.

“Cover your eyes.” Although it probably comes off at a command, it’s little more than a recommendation.

There isn’t a clear obvious moment that delineates when Shi was no longer standing in place away from Eiji and when he is standing directly in front of him. In fact, in that single moment in time, he might have very well occupied two points in space. However, what is certain is that before the rest of the horde can reach the leader of the Shokan, Shi is there with his forearms in the air, pressing them together.

Although the sleeves of his outfit conceal the marks on his arms, the proximity of the two halves of the kanji connect as his internal energies leap across whatever microscopic gap exists, uniting the formation. With the symbol complete and a charge released through it, a literal wall of light swirls out from the assassin consuming him, then Eiji, and then the horde. The light, whose lumens are too many to count, is accompanied by a near searing heat that is reminiscent of the hottest day’s at high noon in the Terran wastelands.

The hemi-sphere of light grows exponentially, until it starts to quiver and then bursts, bathing the entirety of the cavern in a solar prominence that would have very well momentarily outshined the noon sun. A brightness that is so extreme that even with closed eyelids the light overloaded the vampire’s senses. And while not a single undead creature caught aflame, they all reeled back and cowered, completely overwhelmed and blinded for the moment.

“Follow me, we need to bottle neck them.” It’s a common strategy when facing overwhelming odds. Limit their angle of attack as well as the number of targets that can effectively attack at any given time.

Shi bolts forward, the metal stake, latticed with silver and gold, popping back out from beneath his forearm as he drives it into the chest of a vampire immediately in front of him. The creature ignites into flames for less than a second before crumbling into a pile of smoldering ash at his feet.

His sprints just far enough to not only breach the encirclement, but to reach a point elevated enough to constitute the high ground and narrow enough to keep them from being able to flank. It is a conveniently located outcropping in the cavern wall, with a recess that goes about forty feet back and has a diameter of just less than seven feet.

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The assassin speaks, and then appears in front of Eiji seemingly before he had finished uttering the words. Even a slightly slower person wouldn't have had time to comply with the suggestion even if they had heard it over the clamor of the approaching vampires. Doing as requested, he closed his eyes, and was instantly glad he did. With his eyes closed, it still seemed as though he was staring directly into a bright light; so he had no doubt that he would have been blinded if he hadn't. The vampires weren't so lucky, and their pained, terrified screeching rang off the walls of the cave. When he opened his eyes, he saw the assassin charge forward toward a strategic chokepoint; almost casually staking a vampire as he did so. 

Sprinting to catch up, he could feel the enemy ranks closing in on the narrow path to the outcropping. Eiji lashed out with his blade and fists in equal measure; slicing, smashing, and tearing his way through the creatures. Of course, he couldn't avoid every attack, and he was soon covered in cuts and gashes; but he never stopped. Nearing the passageway, he was confronted by a particularly large vampire; one that towered even above the clan head himself. But he was moving to fast to stop, so he put his shoulder right through the monster and carried it off its feet and into the passage.

Planting its feet, the large vamp was able to halt the charge, and then threw the other man into one of the narrow walls. It lunged, aiming to sink its fangs into its prey's neck, but was met with a kick to the gut that shoved it back into the opposite wall. Planting his sword in the ground, his surroundings being too narrow to effectively use it against his current opponent, he rained short, sharp punches into the beasts torso. After landing a particularly powerful blow, the vampire doubled over, and Eiji took the opportunity to grab it by the head and slam it twice into the wall. He followed up by bringing his knee up to smash in the beasts face, and then rammed it into the wall in front of it, crushing its skull with a spray of blood and skull fragments.

Now that the larger creature was dispatched, Eiji realized that its diminutive brethren had been slowly trickling past them and towards his assassin. Grabbing one by the leg as it crawled above him, he slammed it to the ground, and then plucked his sword from its earthen sheathe before stabbing it through the head. Turning to face the advancing vampires, he greeted them with a series of thrusts that soon left the entrance partially plugged by the corpses of their fallen. 

Though the bloodsuckers kept coming, the flood had slowed to a trickle. The pair wouldn't have to hold out much longer.


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While Eiji is busy enjoying a good brawl, Shi remains out of the fight. Rather than trying to defender the opening, he allows the creatures to swarm in. In fact, as far as he’s concerned the more of them that are able to cram into the opening, the better. Unfortunately, and probably because he didn’t articulate this to Eiji, his boss had other plans.  Within seconds, Eiji has started to poke his way forward, aggressively assaulting the invaders with a strategy that Shi respected, but regarded as massively inefficient.

Pressing his right hand against the cavern wall connects the yari kanji with the rock surface. His internal reservoirs of energy are tapped into and molded into a meaningful code that is transcripted from his palm and infused into the fundamental particles of the cavern. A fraction of a moment later the cavern ripples as the stone composing it condenses in on itself with all of the mailability of clay and then juts out as slender jagged spears.

A spiral of stone spears travel from wall to ceiling, to wall, to floor, and so on in several tight circles. The corkscrew of death swirls past Eiji, partially pinning him between rows of spears that intentionally pass along the gaps of his body, before impaling through mounds and walls of vampires. While not every stab results in a killing blow, the end results is dozens of writhing bodies so thoroughly skewed from multiple angles and directions that even the most enthusiastic of them can do little more than wiggle and groan.

Removing his smoldering hand from the wall causes the spears to crumble, leaving what remains of the vampires as hole ridden flesh bags that can easily be dispatched with a handful of well placed stabs. Regardless of how powerful they might have been, a body doesn’t work when the bones, joints, and muscles are pulverized or broken.

Walking forward, Shi shoves the burning end of the torch into the wailing maw of one of the vampires. “I think I dislike vampires.” He comments was he watches the creature turn to ash.

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By the time the fight is done, his muscles burn, his breathing is ragged, and there's a smile on his face a mile wide. Accepting the Emperor's invitation to join the Omagatoki had been the best decision he'd ever made; but it wasn't without its compromises. While he was technically free to maintain any cover he so pleased, at the end of the day he was a spy; and spies don't often get to experience pitched battle very often if they did their jobs right. His position as the head of Clan Shokan was the perfect compromise. As clan head, he was right in the middle of the political heart of Datsuzoku; but he was also free to head into battle without anyone batting an eye. It was the duty of a Clan Head to bring glory upon his house after all. 

Dropping out of his enhanced form, he flicked the blood off his blade before returning it to its sheathe. At his subordinate's comment, he replied with a wry chuckle.

"I can't imagine why."

A noise caused him to snap his head in the direction of the shanty town to see people emerging from their improvised shelters. The clothes they wore were little more then rags, and some of the adults were almost skeletal. But there was a look in their eyes that spoke of the determination it took to survive in this hell. An old woman led them, and she stood before Eiji and Shi.

"I don't know who you are, but you've saved our lives," she spoke, voice raspy, "We don't have much, but we would repay your kindness however we can."

"Simple enough. Do you know your way to the airship docks? Or if Godfury is still there?"

The old woman's eyes widened in surprise, "You mean that behemoth of a ship? Of course it's still there. The docks are the most infested part of the city, and none of us are suicidal enough to try and retrieve it."

Eiji sighed, "Then I guess I'm the suicidal idiot for the job. Let's go Shi."

"Wait!" the woman cried out, "If we lead you to the airfield, will you take us with you?"

Eiji looked over the crowd that had assembled; no more than a dozen women and children. He knew that the logical thing to do would be to leave them to their fates, but it just wasn't something he was capable of.

"If you make it to the ship, we'll get you out. Fall behind and you're on your own."

The woman nodded and moved to inform the other survivors. Eiji looked to Shi and held up a hand.

"I know."

Then he moved to follow the old woman down another passage.

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Shi stands there for a moment, wondering what Eiji knew. There were many things to be known, what insight was he asserting that he had gained? To which, what did he think Shi was about to say? The logical conclusion was that Eiji thought Shi might object to bringing the civilians with them. However, unlike his employer, Shi’s thought process isn’t weighed down by morality. If saving the civilian population was something that Shi wanted to do in earnest, he would have proposed picking them up after retrieving the airship.

However, their survival is irrelevant to him, and at the moment he is under no obligation to save them. It is for this reason that he looks upon them as sheep to be used to distract the wolves. Having a large contingency of meat to lure the undead with meant that Shi and Eiji could probably sneak onto the airship with minimal fighting. Of course, Eiji might have been planning something entirely different, but without a direct command, Shi had no intention of lifting a finger to save any of them.

Retrieving the snuffed torch, now really just a smoldering stick, from the vampiric remains, Shi follows in step at the rear of the group as they begin to travel through the passageway. As he meanders behind the group, one of the women breaks away from the herd to walk next to him.

“Thank you for saving us.” She offers up her gratitude with an exhausted but genuine smile.

“I didn’t save you. Your rescue and survival was purely luck and coincidence. I suspect your future survival will be due to much of the same.” The assassin’s response is made with both a physical and figurative shrug.

“Nonetheless, thank you. You two were surely sent by the gods as an answer to our prayers.”

“Prepare to be majorly disappointed.” His response is marked with a hastening of his steps as he walks past her, and closes in on the rear of the group.

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Footsteps echoed off the tunnel walls as the group made their way through the winding paths leading to the docks. Conversation was sparse, with no one wanting to alert any listening vampires to their presence. The underground passages were labyrinthine, and Eiji doubted that he and Shi could have found their way through without the guidance of the survivors. He tried to tell himself that this was why he had brought them along, but he knew better. Compassion had swayed his heart, something that he tried not to allow to happen too often. Letting your emotions get the better of you was one of the fastest ways to wind up dead in his business. 

By his count, a few hours had passed by the time they started to ascend to the surface. The tunnel let out into another ruined storefront, and a quick search of the building revealed that the building was empty. Once they had climbed out, they made their way to the street... only to feel eyes on them from the surrounding buildings. A quick scan confirmed that they were surrounded by the creatures; lurking in the ruins all around them, watching but not moving. 

"What are they waiting for..." muttered Eiji, hand moving to the hilt of his sword.


His true name echoed in his thoughts, the voice belonging to something dark and ancient from his families distant past. It hadn't spoken to him in quite some time, but now it chose to make its presence known. Interesting. And worrying.

What is it?

There is a presence up ahead, a Vampire Lord. Old and powerful, like me. It waits for you. 

Why? Why not just swarm us and be done with it?

Because it senses you... and me. It is a show of respect. A challenge.

Don't suppose I have a choice in this? Fuck. Can you loop my subordinate, Shi, in on this conversation?


Shi, this is Eiji. There's a powerful vampire up ahead. It wants to fight me in a duel; don't ask me why. I have no idea if I can win, but we're not going to leave it to luck. I want you to go and get Godfury ready to fly, and bring it here. If I haven't settled things with the bloodsucker by then, we'll use its firepower to blast it back to hell. I'm sending you my knowledge of airships. Oh, and you'll still be payed if I die, so complete your mission. Good luck.

Orders given, Eiji started down the road that would lead to the end of this mission. One way or another.

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