Saturday, 27 June 2009

Zokusho: Crystal Blade Chapter 4

This is why I should never try to gaurantee updates. I never actually manage to stick to them. I fully blame people who are not me. I am working on something, or, more precisely, several somethings, which don't exactly make things easy. For now, here's part four of Crystal Blade, in which a very fateful meeting occurs.

Jon and James left the junk shop via the rear exit. Jon had transferred all the important files from his computer to an emergency disaster recovery back-up facility, in other words a memory stick, and had gone to James’ apartment. It wasn’t very big, which is why they never held meetings there, but at the moment it seemed as if they had no choice. Jon showed his friend what he had found, which got James very excited. It was always easy to tell when James was excited, since he said man even more than usual.
“Man, this is it man! This is what it’s all about man! We are in man!”
“Whoa James. Calm down. We don’t know what we’re on to. This is Guild stuff; we could get ourselves iced over this kind of thing.”
“But man, this is big stuff man! We gotta do something about this man!”
“No, we have to wait until D gets here, then we can decide what to do.”
James had just opened his mouth to retaliate when his phone rang. He picked it up and answered in his usual manner “Huh?”
“It’s Lya; I have some work for you.”
“Nah, it’s not Lya. I’m James. You must have the wrong number.” James said and hung up. The phone rang again.
“James, go to Lya’s place. Now!”
“Okay.” He hung up again and turned to Jon “Yo, Shiro man I gotta go. This girl wants me to go around her place for some reason. Wait for D to show up man. Oh, and don’t eat the blue cheese in the fridge.”
“Why not?”
“Because I’m saving it for a special occasion. Oh, and I think it used to be yellow.” He said as he left. Jon looked around James’ small apartment a little, then decided he was hungry and proceeded to eat the blue cheese in the fridge. He then spent the rest of the day in the bathroom puking it back up.

Mike stared at his mystery opponent. After the first lunge, which he had parried almost effortlessly, they had begun to circle each other. The Samurai’s feet barely made a sound as he moved, which struck the Swordsmith as rather odd. The samurai took another lunge, which Mike once again parried. The Samurai spun around though, and swung at Mike’s head. Mike hopped back, whilst simultaneously parrying the blow. He had been taught when younger that the best way of avoiding an attack is to both dodge and parry at the same time, just in case. However, a samurai is hardly the same as the thugs he had just fought, and Mike found his opponent had expected the move and followed.
The Samurai opened up with a fast flurry of blows, all of which Mike managed to deflect, but only barely. And he was running out of space to dodge into. Mike concentrated all of his efforts on gaining the upper hand, but his opponent was too skilled, and he continued his offensive. Mike tried to step to the left for a surprise attack, but he slipped on the third thugs, ahem, parts, and landed heavily on the ground. He looked up to see the Samurai swinging his sword downwards for the final blow.

Rachel asked the new waitress for a fourth cup of coffee. She had been waiting for well over ten minutes now. She was watching people pass by on their ways to work. She liked to entertain herself when waiting by making up life stories for random people. For example, the man across the street wearing a sleek, pinstriped black suit and fedora (A type of hat, I’m not wholly sure on what it looks like myself) with a blue shirt and electric blue tie was probably a very boring man. She imagined him to have a desk job similar to Harvard, and was trying to appear more exciting than he actually was. When she noticed that he was dragging what looked like a dog-sized demon behind him however, she abandoned this particular hobby.
A shame really, because she missed the rare treat of seeing three men, bleeding profusely from where limbs should have been, run past. Rachel was checking her watch instead.
“One coffee, with extra milk and four sugars.” Sheridan said as she placed the mentioned beverage in front of Rachel. She hung around a little bit longer than a waitress normally does, and Rachel became slightly unnerved.
“Is there a problem?”
“Oh, no! It’s just, well. I’ve never seen anybody with ears like yours before.”
“What? Really? You can’t have lived in Interplanes very long then. They’re rather common.” Rachel’s green eyes blinked in the comedy way that anime characters eyes do when surprised.
“If you don’t mind my asking, how did you get them?” Sheridan held her tray to her chest tightly; worried that she would upset her customer.
Before Rachel could reply though, Simon’s booming voice called out “Table four ready!” Sheridan excused herself and scurried away. Rachel decided it was time for her second favourite hobby. She leaned in close over her coffee, and twitched her ears until she could clearly hear what the couple at the next table were saying.
“I’m telling you honey, I don’t find her attractive!” the man said. Rachel sighed deeply and cursed Mike for being late. If her only subject was that bad at lying, then she’d have nothing to entertain herself.

Mike opened his eyes when the final blow he was expecting seemed a little late. To his astonishment, the Old Man had intercepted the blow with his walking stick, and was currently engaged in head butting the mysterious samurai. It may not be apparent, but a samurai (particularly ones from Terra Raiga) are trained in sword-fighting, and so are unaccustomed to being head butted in the nose. He staggered back, clutching his broken sniffer.
“You should not have involved yourself Old One.” The Samurai said. He probably meant for this to be intimidating, but since he had to stop halfway and spit blood out of his mouth, the effect seemed somewhat spoiled.
“I will not stand idly by while you kill the boy I helped raise. Either fight me to get to him, or leave with your dignity. I leave the choice to you.” He had shifted his grip on his stick, holding it almost as if it were a sword he was about to unsheathe. The Samurai also shifted his grip on his sword.
“As if I would ever cower before a blind man!” He yelled and subsequently charged. The Swordsmith gripped the handle of his stick, and unsheathed the Crystal Blade. Mike caught the scabbard when the Old Man let go of it, and he noted the strange rune near the hilt. It was unlike anything he had ever seen, but it paled in comparison to what was going on before him.
The Samurai had lunged at the Old Man, flying through the air. He thrust with his sword, being careful to make as little noise as humanly possible. It didn’t help. The Swordsmith parried the thrust with ease, and sliced a deep cut along the Samurai’s shirt. The Samurai twisted around in the air, at one point he was upside-down directly over the Swordsmith, and he swung his sword towards him. Mike watched in astonishment as the sword hit what looked like empty space, but sparks flew as it scratched along the Crystal Blade. Mike’s eyes were as wide as they could go, but they found somewhere when the Samurai’s sword snapped in two. The Samurai also seemed shocked at this, but he didn’t let it distract him. He effortlessly rebounded off of the wall and landed some way away.
“What kind of a sword is that?” He asked.
“One you will never see again.” The Swordsmith snatched the scabbard away from Mike and dramatically sheathed the Crystal Blade. The rune on the scabbard glowed white for a second, and then they were gone. The Samurai looked around the empty alleyway, utterly bemused as to what had happened. He couldn’t remember anything past charging the blind man. He went to sheathe his sword, only to find it had been shattered. So, it was like that was it? He turned smartly on his heel and left the alleyway.
Mike watched the Samurai leave. He too had lost all memory of the battle past the point the Swordsmith had saved him, but he certainly wasn’t going to complain. The Old Man turned round and stared at where he assumed Mike was lying.
“Well, are you going to lie there all day, or are we going to get moving?” He said, whacking Mike with his ‘walking stick’. “I told you not to take a shortcut through an alleyway. But would you listen? Oh no! You thought you could take anybody. Bloody youngsters.”
Mike stood up, shook his head to try and get rid of the fuzziness inside it, then followed his old master out of the alley.

Gethin was frantic with worry. He had answered a routine dispatch for a stabbing victim in one of the less-reputable areas of Interplanes, but had found his older brother lying in a pool of blood. The officer had done a good job bandaging the wounds, and they had gotten Harvard to hospital in record time, but he was still worried. As he sat outside the hospital, he pulled his mobile phone out of his pocket and phoned one of his younger brothers. It rang for a while, until it was answered.
“Aster, tell mum we’ve got a problem. Something’s happened.”
“What? What’s happened?”
“It’s Harvard, he’s hurt. Just come to the hospital and I’ll explain.” Gethin hung up. He didn’t feel like explaining anything over the phone, especially not to Aster. Gethin hung his head in his hands. He looked up again when he heard someone collapse nearby. As he did, he saw three men staggering up the steps to the hospital. They had lost various body parts and were bleeding heavily. The one who had collapsed was missing his entire arm.
Gethin conjured up some bandages and rushed straight back to work.

Detective Red waited on top of the police station. It was an unlikely place to wait for a wanted criminal, but that’s why it was so great. Carr was getting an earful from the police chief about reaching a dead-end with the Nebull case, but the chief just liked shouting, so it wasn’t anything serious. Red turned when he heard footsteps behind him, and was unsurprised to see empty space.
“You’re behind me, aren’t you?”
“I’m always behind you Detective.”
“How did the mission go?”
“Badly. Look at this.” A sword clanked onto the roof at his feet. It had been cut clean in two.
“I thought I was hiring the best.”
“You did, there were just some, complications. I underestimated the boy.” The samurai stepped out from behind the shadow. He was a good 6 foot 6 inches tall, with blond hair tied into a ponytail. His samurai robes were jet black, but he wore a white undershirt which was clearly visible at the collar and cuffs. Despite his height, Detective Red was still slightly taller, with long unkempt red hair framing his rock-like features.
“You didn’t think the Dragon Cult would hire an amateur did you? Long have they been a thorn in my side. It’s about time we crushed those old fools.”
“You can rant all you want later, just pay me what you owe.”
“Owe? I owe you? You didn’t kill the boy. I owe you nothing!” At this, the Samurai took offence. He withdrew a wakizashi and charged at his employer. Red, however, was too quick for him. The Samurai stared down the barrel of Red’s pistol. Silently, he sheathed his blade.
“I have another job for you.” Red said, holstering his gun.
“What kind of job? It’s not like I have a sword anymore.”
“A simple arson gig. A friend of mine has some secrets he doesn’t want anyone else to know, but someone does. The Shiro junk shop, tonight at midnight. I’ll be accompanying you. Maybe you’ll even be able to get yourself a new sword while you’re at it.” Red smiled a wry smile as he turned away from his employee. By the time Red had even reached the door to the stairwell, the Samurai had gone.

Rachel was messing about with the games on her phone. She was bored. As you may have noticed, Rachel didn’t take boredom well. Her mood was not improved when the battery died. Luckily she looked up out of the window and saw Mike running towards the cafĂ©. She hastily paid the bill for six coffees and ran outside to meet him.
“Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for over an hour.”
“Sorry, but someone got us lost.” Mike said, panting heavily. The Old Man whacked him around the head with his walking stick.
“Don’t talk bad about your elders.” He harrumphed “So who are you?”
“Rachel Dent, Private eye.” She thrust her hand out for him to shake, but he ignored it.
“Whatever.” He harrumphed “We need you to do something for us.”
“Do you know of any places that sell dispelling weapons?” Mike cut in.
“Why would you want a dispelling weapon? Interplanes isn’t exactly crawling with fiends you know.”
“Madame Nebull was a fiend.” Mike pointed out.
“She’s the exception. And from what you’ve said, she must’ve been a pretty high-level fiend to have been able to hide here. You won’t be needing a dispelling weapon. Trust me.” She thumped her fist against her chest.
“But what if we ever have to leave Interplanes?”
“Good point. I know this little shop just around the corner, they sell just about everything. Follow me.” Rachel started off across the road once more. Mike followed, being careful to guide the Swordsmith in the right direction. Rachel stopped next to a battered-looking Mitsubishi Warrior in chrome black. She reached into her pocket, causing her shirt to crumple in ways Mike found annoyingly pleasing, and pulled out a pair of black sunglasses. They didn’t look like normal sunglasses though. Due to her fox ears, she had had to have them specially made to fit. She pushed it through her short orange hair and struck a pose.
“Well, this is my little mover. What do you think?”
“Who cares? Let’s just get moving!” The Old Man harrumphed again as he whacked Rachel with his stick. They bundled into the vehicle and drove off; leaving some very confused onlookers behind.

Lya Lorne waited in her apartment. She had phoned in sick. There was no hope in making it to work on time anyway, and she had to speak to James too. This was her chance. If James could get evidence that Miah Faradays was having an affair, she would make the front page. Bolstered by this feeling of optimism, she paced around her living room. When the doorbell rang, she practically fell over herself in her rush to answer it. James wandered in, the usual blank look plastered over his face.
“Hey man, what’s up?”
“I have something great for us tonight!” Lya nearly screamed at him. When a giant grin spread across his face, she instantly corrected his assumption. “And by that I mean my career. I have something great for my career that you can do.”
“Ah man! Just when I think I’m gonna get some. What do you want me to do then man?”
“I need you to take some photos with me tonight.” The grin returned, so Lya had to correct his assumption once more “I have a lead on a story, but I need you to take some photos and get the evidence. Meet me at this address at midnight tonight.” She handed him a piece of paper and practically shoved him back out the door. After a deep sigh of relief, she started writing her article on her computer.

Rachel found a parking spot in record time, mostly by shouting. Mike hopped out of the car, and gazed around in a state of awe and wonderment. The street was positively lined with shops selling magical wares. He recognised the sign at the end of the street which said ‘Surly Dragon’ in big and imposing letters. The shops also had imposing signs, proudly proclaiming ‘Finest Magic Items’ or ‘Fillian’s Magicks’ or even ‘Jerry’s Hand-Crafted Magical Antiquities’.
While he was staring, Rachel prodded him in the ribs “Leave your coat and hat in the car, these guys don’t co-operate well with detectives.”
“But didn’t you used to be a cop?”
“They don’t need to know that.” She said, swiping for his hat.
“The hat stays on.”
“What’s the matter? Embarrassed about your hair?” She playfully took another swipe, but Mike slapped her hand away.
“No, it’s not that. It’s just that I, uh, have an embarrassing scar.” Rachel narrowed her eyes, but her Empathic abilities told her he was telling the truth. She decided not to press the issue.
“What are you young’uns yammering about? We don’t have all day you know.” The Old man whacked them both with his walking stick. Mike dumped his coat in the car and they entered the shop with the ‘Fillian’s Magicks’ sign. Rachel glanced in the window before they entered.
“Uhhh, they sold the deep pockets coat. I wanted to buy that.”
As they entered, a bell above the door made a pleasant tinkling sound. The effeminate looking shopkeeper looked up from his book, and spread his arms nearly as wide as his smile.
“Rachel my dear! You never visit. And who is this lovely young man?” Fillian glided past Rachel to take Mike’s arm. Fillian looked Mike up and down, and then started measuring him. “Oooh, you have a lovely figure young man. I’m sure I have just the thing for you. A strong build like this just screams leather to me. Oh, I’d love to put some leather on you.”
“We’re not here to buy clothes.” The Old Man harrumphed his loudest harrumph yet. Fillian looked at him with obvious distaste.
“Oh, I don’t like you. I don’t like you at all.”
“Good. I don’t like you either. We’re here to buy a dispelling weapon.”
“Oh Rachel, the old prune reminds me. I got in a box of dispelling bullets which would fit that pistol of yours perfectly!” Fillian glided back behind his counter and placed a box on top of it. He opened it slowly, as if to increase suspense. Inside it were twenty finely-crafted bullets. They were pure white, with a small band of what looked like scribbles around the tip, but on closer inspection appeared to be tiny runes.
“Normally an entire box of twenty would be over a thousand credits, but since it’s you I’ll round them down.” Rachel’s eyes had focused on the bullets; so much so that she didn’t notice her sunglasses slip off her nose.
“They’re beautiful! I’ll take them!” She handed Fillian a wad of cash and clamped her hands around the box. Once Fillian had finished counting, he turned back to Mike.
“So, what kind of dispelling weapon are you after? I have knives, swords, axes, hammers, halberds, bullets or arrows! You name it, I’ve got it.”
“Just a dagger will do fine.” Mike was feeling strangely uncomfortable around this man, but he had no idea why. He would later describe it as a strange but familiar tingling sensation in his ears. Even later he would realise why the sensation was so familiar, but now’s not the time for that.
“A dagger.” Fillian rolled his eyes “Everybody just wants a dagger. Nobody ever wants any big dispelling weapons, just the small ones. When you’re fighting for your life surrounded by hundreds of fiends, then you’ll wish you had a bigger weapon! But if the customer wants a dagger, then the customer wants a dagger.” Fillian ducked under his counter again, and when he came back up he had several small blades in his arms. He placed them on the counter, each with the point facing Mike.
“I’ll inspect them!” The Swordsmith said. He lightly tapped each of the blades once with his finger. After doing so, he picked up the one at the far right. Unsheathing it, he listened intently to the shing as the wakizashi met with the air. He ran his fingers along the edge and then spun it round once or twice. Fillian scratched his pointed ear with impatience.
“Are you going to choose or practice?”
“I’ve chosen. We’ll take this one.” The Swordsmith sheathed the wakizashi again. “What’s it called?”
“It’s a dagger, it doesn’t have a name.”
“All swords should have names. It’s only respectful.”
“Fine, name it what you will! But that’ll be 2000 credits named or not.”
“Rachel? Is that a good price?” The Swordsmith turned to look at the girl, but she wasn’t listening. She was busy placing some of her new bullets into a gun clip. She stopped when she was whacked with the walking stick. “I asked if 2000 credits was a good price.”
“What? Oh, yeah. 2000 sounds about right.” She hastily got back to her task. Mike handed Fillian the money, and they left without further comment. As they did, Fillian turned back to his reading, muttering something about how Elves shouldn’t have to put up with prunes like that.

Officers Blake and Buddy returned to the station in order to write their reports. Blake was not looking forward to how much paperwork he had before him. First were the standard papers for requesting medical assistance. He also had to write a statement about what had happened and his role in it. Then there was the form covering why he saw fit to leave his police vehicle unattended, then the form for removing his police badge and showing it to someone, then came the declaration to follow up on the progress of the victim, which was standard in all mugging cases. Once he had finished that, he had to do most of it all over again in order to request a new uniform since his old one had been damaged. And after he had finished that, he had the paperwork for the witness interrogation to look forward to.
And once he had finished he had to help Buddy wade through all of his.
By the time Blake had a chance to get out, it had already turned dark. Therefore he and Buddy played no further part in the events that happened that day, but it’s nice to know what kept them busy.

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