||Chapter 9||
"Die Another Day"

The Berserker was loose.
Judging that he would be weakened by the absence of blood since his capture, the guards at his door got cocky and careless. One got too close to the bars, only to have strong hands shoot out and capture his throat in a grip that crushed his windpipe in an instant and suffocated him. His companion fled down the brightly-lit hallway screeching for assistance.
Back and forth went one hand, bringing blood cupped in a calloused palm from the dead guard to the mouth on the other side of the door-- over and over as loud voices approached.
The guard was released abruptly, and the hands withdrew. When the backup arrived, they kicked the body aside angrily and wrenched open the door, ready to beat their prisoner into submission.
He sprang from the shadows of his cell like a wildcat, fluid grace and silent death. Those in the forefront screamed in fear and agony as he ripped chunks out of them with his bare hands, baring bloody fangs and emitting a savage snarl. Guns snapped up in the confusion, but he darted through them, dodging the wild shots. Five of the twelve went down, and then a stray bullet struck the overhead light.

"Contain him, god damn it!" Everyone in the control area jumped as the chief of security's fist crashed onto the steel table, freshly scrubbed clean of blood from an earlier interrogation. "Idiots!"
Orders were shouted into radios, and on the monitors they watched as guards poured down the steps on the way to the cells to intercept their prisoner.
"Get those damn lights on," the chief bellowed. "Don't we have emergency lights in that hall?"
A pale woman turned in her chair to the control board before her and hastily began flicking switches. All eyes were glued to the screen with a view of the hallway outside the cells. Bright red lights began flashing abruptly, eerily illuminating the sickening scene.
"Oh god," the woman groaned. She stumbled to her feet and bolted from the room to be sick. Most of the others blanched, or looked away. The chief's eyes narrowed, his lips tightening as he surveyed the Berserker's carnage. All twelve men had been slaughtered; torn to bits. Their blood painted the walls, black in the sporadic crimson lights.
Farfarello was nowhere to be seen.
"Where is he?" the chief barked.
Immediately the technicians tore their eyes from the gruesome sight and began searching the other monitors frantically, suddenly aware that if the Irishman managed to give the other guards the slip, he could very well find his way to their station.
"There," one of the men shouted excitedly, pointing up at a corner screen. "He's not out of the prisoner area yet-- he's heading for B Block."
"Tell a squad to get down there," the chief roared. "And for crissakes, tell them to shoot anything that moves. I want that thing brought down!"

Adrenaline and bloodlust pumped through Farfarello at an alarming rate. He noted with some detachment, as he crouched in the shadows behind some conveniently placed transformers, that he hadn't felt like this in quite awhile. The lack of blood, the rage, the imprisonment... It was enough to push the limits of his sanity.
He methodically lapped the quickly-drying blood from his fingers, using the edges of his teeth to scrape it out from under his fingernails. A single golden eye flicked left and right, ears tickling as he strained his senses for any hint of an approach or ambush. The place was a fucking maze. After he'd killed those idiots who had come to his cell, he'd fled down the hallway without any thought or consideration. As he crouched in the darkness, fighting down his irrational insanity, he berated himself silently. He had no idea where he was, or how to get out of this madhouse. He was completely lost, still in the prison area. He had been unconscious when his captors had brought him here, and he had seen nothing but the inside of his cell since then.
His captors.
He bared his fangs in a near-silent snarl. How dare they show their faces here. His body ached with the desire to tear them apart.
His thoughts flitted to his human lover, and a twinge of uneasiness helped to calm the raging storm inside of him.
They couldn't have killed him-- he was sure he would have felt the loss of his partner on some subconscious level. Feeders and their Masters were linked in that way. Was Ken a prisoner here, too? What if they were interrogating him, torturing him for information? What if he was huddled in some torture chamber or cell, near death, wondering if Farfarello even cared?
His snarl turned into a strange strangled noise as he sprang to his feet, casting a wary gaze down the cooridor. He wasn't going to escape and leave Ken here to rot. If he was a prisoner here, Farfarello would find him. That meant that he would have to be a little more cautious. He couldn't afford to get caught. He could play chancy games with his own life; but not with Ken's.
He started off down the hallway at a silent lope, casting out with his senses for any hint of his short-tempered lover.

The group of guards he encountered farther down the hall was not expecting a bold head-on attack.
He slaughtered sixteen of the twenty before backup arrived and they managed to bring him down.


Omi's panicked cry for help had exploded on the telepathic web as Ken was leading his group out of Schuldich's apartment.
The younger boy's frantic thoughts were so jumbled with horror and fear that Schuldich had to dig past the actual words to get the picture behind them. Once it was clear that someone had apparently left Yohji's grisly remains at the back door of the Koneko no Sumu Ie, they were jumping into their cars and heading for the shop at breakneck speed. Crawford got to his car first, but Schuldich was peeling out of the parking lot ahead of the others, a high, dark wall surrounding his presence on the web.
Crawford's car pulled up behind Schuldich's just as the German was slamming the car door. The telepath had obviously managed to get a grip on himself, and Aya was vaguely impressed that he managed to turn an unimpressed look on them, hands in his pockets.
"Glad I didn't eat today," Schuldich noted.
"Get the fuck out of my way," Ken snarled furiously, shouldering past and rushing alongside Ran towards the back door. Aya hurried after them. Schuldich strode after them slowly, looking carefully bored. Crawford was right behind him. The Jackal hesitated by the cars, unsure if they would appreciate his intrusion on such a delicate manner. Ran probably would have ordered the Irishman to come with them, but he'd forgotten the other man entirely in his fear for his blond teammate.
Omi met them at the back door, flinging himself into Ken's arms and shaking with sobs. "Ken-kun! Please tell me it's not him!"
Ken looked over the small boy's head, arms wrapped around the slender body in comfort. Nagi was standing in the doorway, looking pale. He pointed silently to the side, and Ken's eyes darted towards the folded garbage bag that was obviously covering something lumpy on the grass. The corner of Yohji's favorite leather jacket peeped out from underneath the improvised tarp, and Ken had to swallow back a rush of bile. Yohji couldn't be dead. He couldn't.
Ran crouched by the bag and reached for it, then hesitated. His fingers twitched towards the cover, then curled away. He stared dumbly at the lump, torn.
"Aya-chan," Crawford murmured, "why don't you wait inside?"
Aya thought of protesting, then nodded jerkily. To hell with bravado. She didn't think she would be able to handle seeing whatever was underneath that shiny black garbage bag. Just the smell was making her stomach churn. She hurried inside. Nagi followed her.
Ran's jaw twitched as he clenched it in preparation, and his slender fingers captured the edge of the dark cover, twitching it aside to land wetly on the grass. He stumbled hastily to his feet, and for once didn't protest when Crawford's hand went out to steady him.
Ken took in a sharp breath and looked away instinctively. Oh god.
With a firm appliance of will, he forced himself to return his gaze to the mess of entrails and other indistinguishable chunks. Jesus... His stomach twisted in horrified protest, and his mind was whimpering at him in denial of what he was seeing.
Schuldich stepped forward suddenly, his movements almost violent; he bent, snatching up the golden curl atop the mess before straightening quickly and holding it up to the light. His face was icy, and he glared at the bloodied hair for a long moment in silence. Finally he turned stiffly and thrust it towards Ken.
"Well?" he demanded, his voice cutting.
Ken hesitated before taking the lock of hair from the rigid German. He laid it in the palm of his hand with trembling fingers and studied it. Taking a deep breath and holding it, he crouched by the mess on Yohji's jacket. Fighting back the rush of nausea, he reached out and placed his fingertips lightly on top of the assembled carnage. The slick, slimy feeling of blood and organs almost made him lose it right there, but he forced himself to remain still, to keep his hand on those cords of intestine, as he dipped his subconscious into the faint shadow of death that hung over the pile.
It was too much. He couldn't keep back his disgust at the scent, the sight, and the feel of it. His mind screamed at him in a rush of frenzied horror, and his stomach turned inside out. Rolling away, he lowered his face to the grass and noisily emptied the contents of his stomach.
He puked until he was sure he must have burned a hole in his throat with all the stomach acid. Finally he was finished, and wiped a shaking hand across his mouth. He noticed belatedly the steadying hand between his shoulder blades, and glanced up quickly into Ran's pale, shut-off face. The other man was kneeling beside him, his lips a thin line. "It's him, isn't it?" he murmured.
Ken took a few ragged breaths, and coughed, spitting out the aftertaste of vomit and acid. He wiped his mouth again and closed his eyes. "No," he whispered hoarsely.
Slender fingers dug into his back in a sudden spasm of surprised hope. "What?" Ran's voice was taut.
Ken took another careful breath and shook off the hand. He sat up slowly, wiping his nose and carefully avoiding looking at the jacket and its contents behind him. He looked up at the others, shaking his head once. "The hair was Yohji's," he confirmed. "But those can't be his.. remains."
"Honto??" Omi gasped desperately.
"Why not?" Schuldich asked sharply.
Ran helped Ken to his feet. "They came from a woman," the necromancer explained. "A woman who's been dead almost forty-eight hours. That's why they smell so bad." He hesitated, glancing towards where the Jackal was standing by the cars, hopefully just out of hearing range.
Schuldich snatched up the fleeting thought. "It's his sister's shitpile," he sneered. Thankfully he was quiet about it, and the Jackal didn't hear.
Ken nodded silently. Ran's eyes widened a little, and he shot a quick glance towards the Jackal. Some of his defensiveness towards the boy evaporated. Ken almost smiled. Nothing like big brother syndrome to pull two men together.
Schuldich looked down at the lumpy pile with a sneer. All the tenseness had gone out of his frame, and his forced nonchalant attitude dissipated behind the genuine relief that was evident in his sudden revert to sarcastic bastard. "Idiots. I guess they underestimated Dr. Frankenstein over here."
"Dr. Frankenstein?" Ken repeated, mildly offended.
"They don't know," Crawford said suddenly, frowning.
The others looked at him blankly, and he turned his piercing gaze on Ken. "They don't know you're a necromancer. It makes sense if it's Rosenkreuz."
Ken tilted his head with a slight frown. "What do you mean?"
"Those Vampires you told us about- the ones that betrayed Farfarello. You said you weren't really surprised by the first attack, other than the boldness. It was the other one that you weren't expecting. He was loyal to Farfarello, wasn't he? And you said there was something wrong with the way they acted and thought." Crawford pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose. "The second one thought you were a Vampire. Why would he think that? All of Farfarello's followers know you're his human Feeder."
Schuldich caught on swiftly, his eyes narrowing. "But Rosenkreuz doesn't," he said softly.
Crawford gave a small nod. "Did the two who attacked you know you're a Necromancer?"
Ken blinked. "I doubt it... Farfarello and I try to keep it pretty quiet."
Crawford gave the hint of a satisfied smirk. Ran looked irrationally annoyed at the man's smug self-importance. "If Rosenkreuz is behind this, and if they're the ones who turned those assassins against you, that would explain why these assassins thought you were a Vampire when Farfarello interrogated them. Souma would know you were alive from those Vampires' thoughts. Rosenkreuz would assume that the only way you could have survived Farfarello's attack in Agammedo's caves would be to become a Vampire yourself. They would ignore the fact that these Vampires assumed you were human, because nobody really knows what you are."
Ken's eyes widened.
"That's a lot of 'ifs' and guesswork," Omi pointed out. "What if it's not Rosenkreuz?"
Crawford shrugged. "You have a better explanation?"
Schuldich suddenly looked at the older man sharply. "Hold it. Remember when Iragadachi Erased a few minutes from," he jerked a thumb at a bemused Ran, "this retard, and you told him he'd been smacked upside the melon with a trashcan lid?"
"What?" Ran's stared at the German angrily. "What are you talking about?"
The other two ignored him. Crawford's eyes narrowed slightly. "Aa," he murmured.
"Then let's be all hypothetical here," Schuldich said, eyes lit up in excitement at his idea. He gestured towards Ken, then the Jackal, still hanging out of earshot. "The Jackrabbit or whatever his name is, he didn't see anything, right? He came back, saw Hidaka surrounded, his sister dead, and a bunch of Vampires he didn't know. All the images in his head are pretty jumbled. It was dark, he rushed in, grabbed soccer punk, and made a break for it. Didn't really get a good look at anyone that I recognize."
He paused, eyes unfocusing slightly, and Ken winced as the man dug impatiently and painfully through his mind. "O-oi! That hurts, damn it!"
Schuldich ignored him, triumphant eyes focusing on Crawford once more. "Vampire Bait over here has pretty hazy memories, too, even though he was in the middle of it all. Vampires surrounding the American Lord, other ones that attacked Farf and knocked him unconscious, and then Coyote showing up to save his ass."
"It's 'Jackal'," Ken pointed out weakly. "And just what are you trying to say, anyway? It was dark. Things happened fast. You expect me to have memorized everyones' face?"
But Crawford was frowning thoughtfully. "You're saying," he said slowly, "that Iragadachi could have wiped or warped Hidaka's memory of the attack."
"But why bother?" Omi demanded, shaking his head. "Why not just kill Ken-kun? Or capture him? Why go through the trouble of erasing the fact that it was Rosenkreuz- if it was -when they could have killed him instead?" He crossed his arms over his chest. "We have nothing to go on. We don't even know if those two from Rosenkreuz are here in Tokyo. Or if they're even alive, for that matter. We can't base everything on the assumption and the theory that they could have done this. What reason do they have to do all of this? It could be that Vampire-" he looked to Ken for the name.
"Malachi," Ken said with a grim look. "I did recognize some of the Purebloods there as those loyal to him. He could've set the whole thing up. I've been wondering if it was him, because no one's been able to find him since the attack."
"We'll have to keep our options open," Crawford noted calmly, pushing his glasses further up his nose with a finger. He nodded to the messy pile behind Ken. "Tsukiyono, have Nagi dispose of that, and tell Aya she can come out now." He turned a look on Schuldich. "I want you to dig as far into the Jackal's memories of last night as you can. He might have gotten a glimpse of a face that we might recognize."

Tomás shifted impatiently from where he was standing by Schuldich's car. He strained to catch a hint of what his reluctant companions were talking about, but he couldn't quite make it out. He could move closer, but then he would be eavesdropping, and they were already suspicious of him. Best not to push it. But the fact that they glanced back at him several times was starting to unnerve him.
He sighed, running his hand fretfully through strawberry blond hair. This was not going well at all. He looked blankly up at the gray sky, thinking morbidly that the dark clouds matched his mood.
He should be back in Ireland now with his sister, listening to her talk to her advisors about the strange Lord of Tokyo who had turned down his birthright as Ireland's Lord just so that he could pull together the ragged remains of the Vampire community in Japan, remain with his Human Feeder, and avoid the dark memories his birthplace represented. Tomás missed his sister so much it hurt. He took in a slow, deep breath to stop the hollow wail that churned in his gut.
But things were not going as planned, and there was nothing he could do to change that. His sister was dead, Farfarello had been abducted along with Ryan Park, and now he would just have to deal with these strange, suspicious men that his sister would have wanted him to ally himself with. He resented it; he did not like them, and wanted nothing to do with them. The redheaded swordsman didn't trust him at all, Hidaka was still mourning over the disappearance of his damned lover, and the others barely seemed human. That American and the sarcastic telepath seemed as cold and cruel as many Vampires he'd met. He wasn't sure about the two young ones- he hadn't properly met them, yet -but the blond seemed too innocent for this, judging by the way he'd clung to the redhead; and his dark-haired companion looked pale and emotionless.
Only the woman- Aya, the one he was to protect -seemed to be so full of the life and kindness that he cherished in humans. He had been around Vampires for far too long; their aloofness, their arrogance and cruelty, had worn down his spirit over the years. Not all of them were like that, but the majority of them were.
Aya-san was... a breath of fresh air. He would not mind guarding her. Despite her apparent knife-throwing skills, (he smiled wryly) she would need protection. It was her brother that got on his nerves. How was he supposed to protect her if that idiot wouldn't let him near her?
He was sorely tempted to just leave them and seek out revenge in his own way.
The telepath and the American started towards him suddenly, and he straightened, battling internally. To stay, or to leave?
The back door opened, and Aya-san stepped out, looking pale and hopeful as she turned to her brother, no doubt inquiring about the grisly remains. Her brother answered her, and her face lit up in a smile of relief. She turned to share her joy with the others, and her gaze flicked towards the Jackal; for a moment their eyes held.
Tomás swallowed hard and tightened his fingers on his arms from where they were crossed over his chest. He couldn't leave. He couldn't just abandon his duties and leave her without an official bodyguard. He had watched one woman die already.
He would not let it happen again.

Author's Notes: *smirk* Gotcha. ^_~
No deaths.. yet.


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