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Shift - Chapter 51 - Black and Blue

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The very air that surrounded Yuki seemed to be unsympathetic to the problem that was weighing on him. It pressed against his shoulders keeping him from rising from the street. He had no will to stand at the moment. His head just held down brushing the side of his face with his dark blue nearly black hair. The streetlamp above him cast a heavy light that darkened his eyes until it just seemed like there was a void present.

Yuki’s mind was stuck as memories of the past flooded with the present with one being transposed over the other. ‘I hit Saki…’ His eyes widened when he heard the words in his mind. ‘But she…it wasn’t like…’ Even with his eyes closed he could still clearly see the moment replaying in his mind. ‘I didn’t…no…I didn’t…wasn’t me…’ He held his hands against his head trying to snap out of the images that were torturing him. However, there was nothing that he could do to escape the endless looping that worked to break his sanity. His eyes were darting around quickly in his attempts to lose the hold feeling his body start to go numb.

“A pathetic sight…Yuki Hayashi,” said a distant voice that rang clear through the air. A man slowly walked out of the shadows of the night into the pool of light from a streetlamp. He stared across the street at the turned away Yuki. His blue eye held an almost disappointed look while his other remained darkened with a brown eye patch wrapped around his head.

Chapter 51 – Black and Blue

The words did not reach him, but the voice seemed to tap into the corner of his mind that was still listening. He had a sudden uncontrollable fear pass over him that covered him in sweat. ‘What’s going on?’ he thought as he was beginning to be pulled away. Yuki stared at his shaking hands not understanding why he could not stop them. He tried to warm his own body that had run cold as ice. ‘This feeling is so familiar…why?’

“Come…face me, Yuki Hayashi,” said the middle aged man once more from the light.

Everything was violently ripped away from him as Yuki heard the words spoken to him. His mind was completely blank with fear. Now the fear was understood. ‘Another assassin already?! Ayumi just killed one! Are there that many after me?’ Yuki slowly turned his head over his shoulder catching a look of the man that was beckoning him forward. His eyes grew wide when he was able to confirm that it was an assassin. The man worn clothes like all of the others, that Ayumi had called their military uniform. However, there was something different about this man, age notwithstanding. Yuki felt compelled to turn and stand on his feet to face the man as though deserved it.

There was a look in the man’s face that seemed to recount innumerable experiences within each wrinkle, yet the man did not seemed weighed down by age. In fact, the man looked to embrace his life with a tall and proud stance. He towered over Yuki by more than a head, but it was not the height that made him look like he was superior.

‘His shirt thing is blue… I’m not sure if I like that significance,’ he remarked to himself as he continued to try to judge the man before him. ‘Why did he announce himself and just wait for me? He doesn’t even have his field up.’ Yuki flexed his fingers trying to keep himself from getting stiff and break the paralysis that he had over his body. ‘Damn, my Kasou-ryoku won’t respond… This guy doesn’t seem like the rest that have come after me. I won’t survive without it! Come on work!’ The fading hope was falling through his grasp tightening the tension that strung around his neck and limbs.

“I’m glad to finally meet you.”

Yuki raised an eye confused by the formal feeling and somehow casual speech from the man. ‘What’s this man’s angle? Is he not that strong after all or maybe he’s not here to kill me?’ He held his lips shut, partially from fear, uncertain what to say and if saying the wrong thing would make him a target. The uneasy stare between them left Yuki feeling as though he was being told to answer back. Hesitation held his words longer drawing the awkward silence out. “…Who are you?”

“I haven’t introduced myself have I? I am Demosthenes Alexander.” The declaration had a strong air of pride in it. He stepped forward keeping his eye on Yuki.

‘He introduced himself? This is the first assassin to greet me and give me his name. Why?’ Yuki took a half step back seeing the tall foreigner walking slowly towards him. “What do you want?”

Demosthenes came to a stop out of the light, disappearing slightly in the curtain of night. “I’ve come to see what the trouble is able about. Thus far I’m disappointed.” He began to walk again until he entered the light that Yuki was standing under. His head tilted down looking at Yuki, but not making any further advances.

Yuki took another step back feeling the urge to flee, but sensing that it would not make any difference. “Do you always greet the person you’re going to kill?”

“Don’t give in to fear, child. It only weakens you.”

It started to sound as though Yuki was being lectured making his eyebrows twist in confusion. The tone did not approach as an insult, which is what really threw Yuki off. He almost felt like he was been advised. ‘What’s with this old man?’

“Now come! Let’s see if you’ve truly inherited the King’s power. Show me your Meso Presecho!”

Yuki did not like the sudden change that the man had. He jumped back going on the defensive knowing that he could not summon his power as requested. ‘He’s not going to like when he finds out that I’m not able to…’

“What’s the hesitation?” The old man narrowed his eyes as he looked at Yuki reading him. After a moment he leaned back with an expression that had changed to understanding. “I see…I’ll just have to force it out then!” Immediately following his words a blue wave pulsed out from his feet altering the street into grass while leaving the houses alone.

Once the field had been summoned the man was no longer wearing his uniform. In a medium blue, he wore a loose pair of pants and long sleeve shirt tucked in at the waist. The appearance seemed surprisingly modest when compared to some of the assassins that Yuki had seen. However, Demosthenes’ look did not change, keeping with the serious tone it always had. In his hands was a long spear that he held prepared to fight.

Next to Yuki that was a straight long sword stuck in the ground. He looked at it out of the corner of his eye, but knew better than take it. It would serve him no purpose to trying to fight with their weapons as he had learned from the first assassin that attacked him at school. ‘Come on I really need you right now! I’m going to die with you!’ Yuki made his second attempt to bring out his Kasou-ryoku, but as it had been all the times before he was unable to use it consciously. He forced himself to step back to keep distance between them praying that he could hold out long enough on his powers.

The old man straightened out his back standing up fully resting his spear in one hand at his side. “Take the sword. I don’t fight unarmed men.” He did not have to point with his hand as his eye was making it clear to him.

‘What?! Why is he doing this?’ Yuki reached out cautiously with his hand toward the hilt of the sword feeling like it would disappear the moment he attempted to grasp it as a cruel joke at his defenselessness. ‘Is this a game to him?’ He placed his hand on the sword’s hilt finding it to be solid. His fingers wrapped around the sword as his eyes stared up across at the old man trying to understand what he was thinking.

‘You’re weak, Yuki! You can’t control your powers. They control you. It’s no way to fight. So I’m left with no choice but deal with the assassins myself. You’re incapable of protecting yourself.’

‘I’m alone here…’ Yuki recalled her telling him that she had fighting for him. It had been because of him that she had been forced into so many situations. ‘It’s because of me that she had to fight that plant guy and almost dead because of me.’ The images of the fight with the plant assassin came back to him making him deeply remember the events, especially emotions. He just wanted to be able to help, but she had stepped him to protect him. ‘I’ve been useless… She nearly died protecting me from the woman that attacked the school last week too… She’s been taking it all for me…’

He was feeling a shaking through his body that was building his hesitation. Yuki did not know what he should do. There was no chance he had to win against the man without his own power, but fleeing would not work either. His legs weakened under his weight as the sword was becoming a crutch for him. All he could feel was the pounding in his head that threatened to move into his heart as it beat ever slower. ‘…alone…’

‘You don’t stand a chance without me,’ Ayumi’s voice said echoing through his mind from the past.

Hearing what she said made him pull away from the sword clinching his hand into fist. ‘…Ayumi…’ He looked up across at the man who seemed content with waiting. Yuki narrowed his eyes seeing the expression on the old man. He got a weird feeling from him again as though he was gently pushing him towards the sword rather than forcing him. ‘…what’s with him?’

‘All you know how to do is run away. You’ve been running this entire time. You can’t face yourself.’

It felt like she was standing next to him yelling in his ear. His hand was shaking just out of reach of the sword listening to Ayumi’s tirade weakening his strength. ‘…running huh… …yeah maybe… …but…’ Yuki stepped forward pulling his hand forward to take a hold of the hilt. He had quickly removed it from the ground holding it with hold of his hands staring over the blade at Demosthenes still resting. Determination in his eyes had resurfaced with the narrowing in his features. ‘None of that matters right now… I have someone standing before me! I have to take this on!’

“Glad to see you’re ready,” Demosthenes said as he returned his spear back into both of his hands. The expression that appeared on his face was different from before. It was a serious look that he always had before, but now there was a tint in his eye that said that he was focused solely on Yuki with all of his being for no other purpose than to strike him down. And yet the emotion was not hatred or anger coming from him rather almost a warmth of acknowledgement as only two warriors standing before each other could experience. This was the first time Yuki felt a sense that his opponent was not belittling him or thinking less of him, but seeing simply as a warrior. “Now let’s begin!”

Yuki charged forward with his sword in hand meeting the spear with a spark. The longer reach on the spear meant that he would have trouble getting close making him feel like that was done on purpose to put him at a disadvantage. However, he tried to focus his mind as the next swipe from the spear came at him as his jump backwards a step to avoid it. The sword Yuki had was single bladed allowing him to use his off hand to support the back of the sword when he took a strong blow from the spear.

‘He’s got good reflexes,’ thought Demosthenes pressing the attack. The next several strikes were even faster knocking Yuki off balance, but he quickly turned it around rotating to try to bring himself inside reach of the spear to his sword’s range. ‘…and he fast on his feet to think of a way to turn things around…’ The counter from Yuki never made it to the old man as he used the back of the spear to knock away the strike in rotation. He followed up knocking Yuki back with his shoulder. Yuki rolled over the grass to evade the next swings from the spear. While he was on the ground he tried to take a swing with his sword at his legs, but the old man agile body leapt up using the spear thrust into the ground to stop him.

Then as he came down he brought his leg across Yuki kicking him in the stomach. He tried to bring up his spear for a second strike, but Yuki was rolling with his sword against him barely taking the blade of the spear dragging it along sparking loudly. Yuki leapt back up to his feet pulling in his sword breathing quickly to recover himself. Demosthenes returned his spear back to his side in an attack stance. ‘…alright…now I know the child’s skill…’

‘I’m barely able to keep up with this old man… What am I going to do?’ Yuki tightened his hands around the hilt of the sword trying to keep his resolve to fight. The shaking in his muscles was not from fear, but reverberating from the strikes that he had taken. While he looked like he was holding his own each attack at left him nearly dazed only held together by determination.

The next moment the air suddenly seemed to change. Demosthenes’ spear traced through in a motion that left it appearing to skip or jump ahead. All of the movements became faster and difficult to follow. Moving faster than Yuki thought a man his age could he was nearly behind Yuki before he realized it left in awe. Yuki could not even manage a turn before the spear was coming at him leaving him barely enough time to dodge a fatal strike.

Blood sprayed into the air as the spear pierced through Yuki’s side scrapping painfully against his ribs. Yuki stumbled backwards lowering one eye in pain as he pressed his off hand to his left side into the lengthy wound. ‘He’s so fast! I couldn’t even follow him! Is this it?’ The next deadly strike came in with the blood coated spear blade shattering the sword he used attempting to block with in hand. It had saved his life though, deflecting the spear away, but digging its hungry metal into his right shoulder. Yuki could feel the blood dripping down his arm and chest soaking into his clothes. His arm was starting to go numb as the remaining part of the sword fell from his hand.

Yuki did not even know it had happened until he felt a ripping jerk in his chest from the spear that pierced his heart and lung dropping him to the ground quickly bleeding out. ‘What’s happening to me?’ His eyes widened shaking from the shock. He could feel almost no pain, but he could not feel his body either lying in the grass. Yuki could not keep his eyes open any longer. ‘I can’t feel anything! I can’t move! This can’t be it! Over so quick… I didn’t stand a chance… Momoko…Jun and Ken… I can’t leave them alone! No!’ His eyes snapped open quickly as he stretched out his hand trying to push himself back up. Blood was dripping out of his mouth as he coughed. He was so numb that he was not certain if he was moving and simply acted on instinct.

Demosthenes turned looking down at Yuki. “I respect your will to live, but will is not enough to make you worthy of his power.” He pulled the spear back up raising it above his head to bring it down for the final blow to end Yuki’s misery. The blade shined brightly as it sailed through the air spraying blood from the deep wound. The last breath of life was exhaled.

To be continued…

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