Ch. 33: "Retreat"
Disclaimer: WK does not belong to me. Neither do the lyrics that proceed each chapter- they're taken from various songs from the "Queen of the Damned" soundtrack. Any songs from different sources will have a disclaimer at the bottom. Don't sue. =pp
When the world ends
Collect your things
You¡¯re coming with me
Schuldich's warning exploded in Farfarello's mind, scattering his thoughts and blurring his vision so that he stumbled and crashed into several dustbins.
"Niisan!" He was dimmly aware of Verrat pulling on his arm, trying to help him up. Dazedly he pushed himself to his feet, shaking his head. "Niisan, what's wrong?"
Farfarello ignored the question, cupping her elbow in his palm and guiding her down the alleyway at a fast pace.
Rosenkreuz is coming.
Kuso... when he had smelled the Vampires, he had brought Verrat to her room, and slipped out the window. Down the fire escape, into the street below, where he'd brought her around with a few sharp, controlled slaps. He'd assumed only Vampires had been outside the room- but his gut instinct had told him to run. Now he knew why.
Rosenkreuz was onto them. And now they had Schuldich.
He gritted his teeth, picking up the pace and scenting the air for nearby Vampires. Only a couple- scattered. None of them dared take on the Berserker alone. He tried to speak in Schuldich's mental link, but it was gone. Kuso. It had to have been the Fourth if the mental connection was broken.
Now what? This was going to ruin all his plans. Where could he put Verrat where the Vampires wouldn't get her? The safest place would be back at the flower shop, with the other Talented. But that would fuck everything up. He had wanted to plan carefully how he would bring 'Verrat' into Abysinnian's life. But he was rapidly running out of choices. Damn it!
"Niisan," Verrat whimpered, stumbling a little as she tried to keep up, "What's going on? Who was that woman? Where are we going?"
"She was an assassin," Farfarello said shortly. "We're going somewhere safe."
"D-demo.. what about Schu-san?"
"He can take care of himself." Bullshit. Not if Rosenkreuz was there.
Think think think! How was he going to pull this off?
The American glanced up from where he was sitting on his bed, pulling off his shoes.
Nagi stood in the doorway, frowning. "The link is down. I just tried to reach Schuldich, and there's nothing."
Crawford looked at him for a moment, then threw out a thought. Nothing. He pushed his shoes under the bed, his tone calm. "Are they back yet?"
"Farfarello and Schuldich? No. That's why I tried to call- I haven't heard from either of them. Do you think something's wrong?"
Crawford began unbuttoning his shirt. "Give them another hour. If we don't hear anything, then..."
"Oiii," Omi called from the stairs, "Farfarello's back."
Nagi turned and left. After a moment Crawford sighed and followed, shirt still half unbuttoned. What an annoyance.
He almost ran into Aya in the hall, and glanced down at the katana he was carrying. He arched an eyebrow in amusement at the younger man. "Polishing your knife so late at night?"
Aya glared up at him. "Get out of my way, and wipe that fucking smirk off your face."
Crawford reached up to push his glasses further up the bridge of his nose, still giving a slight, patronizing smile.
Aya brought up his katana suddenly, holding the edge to the American's throat, his teeth clenched. "Get out of the way!"
Crawford chuckled quietly. "Are you always angry?"
Aya made a disgusted sound in his throat and lowered his katana, trying to shoulder past. Crawford reached out suddenly, gripping the young man's chin in his strong fingers. He jerked the startled man's face up so that he was looking at him. He wasn't grinning anymore. "Don't you get tired of being angry at everyone?" Crawford asked calmly.
Aya stared up at him for a moment, then abruptly pulled away. His cheeks were slightly flushed. "T-teme," he snarled. "Don't touch me!" He shoved past and stormed downstairs.
Crawford smirked to himself and followed.
The others had gathered around Farfarello in the kitchenette. Nagi was asking him, "Where's Schuldich? What happened and why is the mental link down?"
Farfarello was standing by Ken, arms folded over his chest. "Rosenkreuz has him," he said simply.
Nagi and Crawford exchanged a quick glance.
Yohji's mouth tightened. "What happened?" he demanded.
Farfarello shrugged. "The Fourth surprised us. We were with the female Hunter and he came with two Vampires."
"And you left Schuldich behind," Nagi accused, his voice quietly angry.
Farfarello shrugged and said nothing.
Omi looked towards his lover anxiously. "Who's 'the Fourth'?"
Nagi took a deep breath. "He's the fourth member of Rosenkreuz- Souma. His telepathy is much more powerful than Schuldich's. He's probably the one who broke Schuldich's link to us."
"What does this mean?" Aya demanded. "That Rosenkreuz knows you're not with them?"
Crawford nodded grimly. "Souma will drag the information of our whereabouts from Schuldich's mind. There will be Vampires crawling all over this place by tomorrow."
"I'd better call Manx." Omi hurried to the phone.
Yohji was staring hard at Farfarello. "Why didn't you help Schuldich?"
Farfarello turned a single golden eye on the tall man. "Better to have one captured than two," he intoned.
"They'll kill Farfarello if they get their hands on him," Nagi cut in. "Agameddo wants him dead, and Rosenkreuz is trying to keep him happy. They won't kill Schuldich- or any of us, probably. We're the strongest Talented team they've got."
Ken looked around at them all. "Then what about us?" he demanded. "If they know you formed an alliance with us, what are they going to do about us?"
Nagi glanced towards Crawford. "If Souma pulls enough information from Schuldich and he finds out you have Talents, too.."
"They could do one of two things," Crawford picked up in his calm tone. "They'll kill you, or the Second will deal with you."
"And who's the Second?" Ken asked impatiently.
"The Second can erase memories," Nagi explained. "He can wipe out the last five minutes of your memory, or he can wipe it clean completely. They might decide you're useful and erase your memories of.. well, everything that connects you to Weiss. Then you'll work for them."
"Nani?" Aya looked furious.
Ken blinked and looked closer at Farfarello. "O-oi.. your hair..."
The others looked towards the scowling Irishman. The roots of his hair were no longer white, but the color of sunset.
"It's his original hair color," Nagi said with a note of surprise. "Schuldich said once that Farfarello used to have an orange shade of hair, but the medicine drained the color from his hair as well as his skin."
Ken reached out unthinkingly to bury his hand in the spiky ivory hair, touching the reddened roots. Farfarello ducked his head away- a silent but calm gesture, not the violent reaction he would have had in his past Berserker state. Nagi's eyebrows went up, and he shot a glance from Farfarello to Ken.
Ken flushed, lowering his hand hastily, and cleared his throat. "So now what do we do?"
"We'll see what Manx says," Yohji sighed, looking distracted.
"Are you worried about Schuldich?" Ken asked quietly.
Yohji scowled at him, then looked away. "Don't be stupid," he snapped.
Aya turned a stony look on Yohji, but said nothing.
"Hai. Hai. Ja." Omi hung up the phone and turned to his expectant teammates. "Manx-san is on the way. She knows a place where we'll be safe. Pack some things, and put up a vacation sign again. I need to go downstairs and clear the computers' hard drives. I have backups of all our data."
"I'll help," Nagi offered, and Omi smiled his thanks.
"Be ready to go in an hour," Omi told them all. "And be ready for anything. After we get to the safehouse, things are going to start rolling downhill. Rosenkreuz- and the Vampires -have started the war by taking Schuldich. Now it's our turn to retalliate- but first we'll have to retreat to make a plan."
Everything was rushed and hectic when Manx arrived. In the hustle, Farfarello stood in the shop part of the house, mulling to himself as he absently played with a flower.
He had left Verrat at a safehouse Schwarz had rented but never used; it was their nestegg- their hideaway for when the time came to leave Rosenkreuz. She would be relatively safe there, he decided, until the time was right for him to introduce her to the rest.
He glanced down at the daffodil he'd been idly picking apart and tossed it into the wastebin. A moment later Ken popped his head into the shop. "Farfarello, we're leaving."
The Irishman straightened and walked over. "Where are we going?" he asked tonelessly.
Ken led the way to the kitchenette. "Manx has a safehouse set up for us." His eyes flicked towards Farfarello's empty hands. "Don't you have anything to bring?"
Farfarello's single amber eye turned to regard him in amusement. "Only knives... and my pet."
Ken couldn't resist the immature urge to stick out his tongue.
Farfarello arched a brow at him before walking past. On the way he hooked a finger in Ken's shirt collar and pulled him after him. Ken felt his face flush with heat as he stumbled after the pale man. Farfarello released him just as they entered the kitchenette- a split second before Aya looked up at their entrance.
"Ready?" he asked.
"H- hai." Ken bent over hastily to retrieve his bags from by the door, mostly to hide his reddened face. He was frightened and confused by his reaction to Farfarello's possessiveness and teasing.
Yohji was silent and moody as they all trooped out the back door after Manx to the van outside. Ken suspected his thoughts were on Schuldich, but was prudent enough not to say anything about this. As they walked into the driveway, Ken paused for a moment to look back at the flowershop they had called home and hideaway for so long. He wondered suddenly if he would ever see it again.
"Ken-kun," Omi called softly. "It's time to go."
Ken took a deep breath. "Yeah... I'm coming." Turning his back on the shop, he followed his friends to the van.
Agammedo lazily lifted his gaze from his goblet as his ranks of the favored Purebloods parted to allow a pair of his followers through. They came to a halt a few feet from the dias and uncermoniously dumped a torn and bloody carcass onto the stone floor. The Vampires lining the wall shifted, scenting the air eagerly at the scent.
"Well well.." Agammedo purred, "what have we here?"
One of the Vampires who had brought the prisoner in lapped blood from his fingers before seizing the woman's hair and yanking her head off the floor. "One of the Hunters," he hissed in vicious triumph. "Not quite dead."
The bite-ridden girl at the foot of the throne barely lifted her head to gaze dully at the destroyed woman on the floor. Agameddo ran her leash through his fingers idly, setting the goblet of heated blood aside. "How interesting." He leaned forward. "How are you, my dear?"
For a long moment there was no movement from the limp form, and some of the Purebloods edged a little forward, murmuring to each other in derision.
Finally the woman shifted, opening her swollen eyes slowly to regard the Vampire Lord. Her mouth was tight in pain, her eyes a little unfocused. "Not long now," one of the Vampires sniggered.
"So much for your Hunting days," Agammedo remarked with a chilly smile.
Tatiana's breathing was labored as she glared up at the Vampire Lord. "I hope," she gasped, "that those assassins... and their 'Traitor'.. kick.. your motherfuckin'... asses..!"
Agammedo leaned back in his throne as if losing interest. He waved a hand lazily. "Dispose of her. And find where the Traitor and those assassins are. The weasels of Rosenkreuz want the.. 'Talented' ones alive. For now." He took a sip from his goblet. "Take her away."
Tatiana was dragged farther down the chamber, where she was immediately set upon by Vampires howling in cruel joy. Agammedo yawned, turning to the silent girl by his feet. "Enjoying the show, my unkempt little Feeder?"
The girl turned her face towards him, but her eyes were unfocused and emotionless. She had witnessed too many horrors and too much pain in her young life- she was no more than a doll to look and feed upon for her master. She was a Feeder in every sense of the term: a human kept alive for the sole purpose of food, with no memories and very limited emotions. The crushing mind of the Vampire Lord made her the ideal "pet".
Agammedo studied her for a moment, then lost interest. He rose to his feet to regard the figure who had followed the Vampires and their captive inside and was standing just on the edge of the shadows. "How did the Traitor escape us?" he inquired.
The figure stepped forward from the shadows, revealing herself to be a woman of middle age, thin and tight lipped, the hard lines on her face proof of a lifetime of hardship and work. She looked like a woman who never smiled, in her smart two piece worksuit and her tight gray bun. Her eyes were intelligent and cold behind a pair of small spectacles, and she had the bearing of one who was used to giving orders; one that commanded respect.
"He must have sensed your people and taken that girl away to safety," she said in crisp, businesslike tones. "We told you to leave them behind."
Agammedo's lip curled slightly. "I take no orders from humans." He said the word like a curse. "Not even the.. 'revered' members of Rosenkreuz, my dear.. may I call you Urumi?"
The woman tilted her chin slightly in cold compliance.
"He would not have run if it had just been us," Agammedo corrected smoothly, pacing his dias slowly like a prowling wildcat. "The presence of your Fourth must have scared the coward off." He glanced towards her sideways. "Who is the girl?"
"We believe she is the sister of one of Weiss's members," Urumi said, clasping her hands behind her back. "She is no use to us."
"How entertaining." Agammedo flashed his fangs in a cruel smile. "I would like to have her for myself." He laid a pale hand atop his Feeder's bowed head. "This one is getting a little worn out, you see," he tsked in mock sympathy. "She will need a replacement."
Urumi inclined her head in silent agreement.
Agammedo glanced towards the commotion on the other side of the cavern where his followers were making short work of the Hunter. Her screams had stopped. "It seems time is up for the young lady," he observed brightly. "I'll have some of my men deliver her to her foolish little partner. Or what's left of her, rather."
"Why not just take them both out?" Urumi demanded.
"Because, my dear woman, I like to play twisted games," Agammedo purred. "He must know she went to spy on the Traitor; therefore, when he receives her remains, he will assume Lucifer is the one who tore her apart." He played with a lock of his Feeder's lank hair. "We must throw as many weapons at these assassins as possible. He will be one of them."
"I see." The brisk woman pushed back a strand of hair smoothly. "Very well. Have your fun. I must go and witness the Erasing of the so-called Mastermind. We will keep in touch; you will know when we have all the Talents under our thumb."
Agammedo waved airily. "Wokkata. Keep me informed."
The Talented woman tilted her head in some semblence of respect and departed, heels clicking on the stone floor. The Vampires who had finished with the Hunter watched her go, but none were foolish enough to attack.
Agammedo lowered himself to his throne with a sigh and stretched out. "Jevara. Jakamo." Twin Vampire siblings leapt forward. Agammedo regarded them from beneath hooded lids, toying idly with his goblet. "You have both had dealings with the Traitor- Lucifer -before. I want you to track him down. Don't let him know you're tailing him. He must be confused by the human emotions a Turned Vampire sometimes suffers- keep your eyes peeled for any of the group that might have caught his fancy. An older brother figure. A woman. A friend." The two siblings nodded smartly. "When you find this 'special person', bring them to me."
"Sire," the female Jevara said in the greatest tones of respect and humility, "what would you have us do with the girl? The one who may replace your current Feeder?"
"Ah, yes." Agammedo took a sip of blood, then made a face at its lukewarm taste. "Bring her, too, if you can. But I'm more concerned with this 'special person'. Understand?"
Both Vampires bowed with exquisite grace. "Yes, my lord."
"Very well. Go now." He watched the two of them lope off, then dumped the dark contents of his goblet contemptuously on the floor. Turning his face towards his impassive Feeder girl, he offered a chilly smile and crooked a finger at her. "Come here, my dear," he murmured.
The girl rose to her feet automatically, like a wooden doll, and stepped over to the throne for her master's Feeding.
Schuldich strained against the cuffs chaffing painfully on his ankles and on his wrists high above his head, where they were cuffed to an overhead pipe.
"Kuso..." He shook his head irritably to get his hair out of his face, glancing around warily. He was in some kind of cold, damp basement. The only source of light was a high grate window in the far wall. His breathing was labored and he was sweating from his furious struggles. He had refused to act like a little pussy when they had awakened him and faced him. His blood had gone cold, and he'd had the childish urge to hide under his chair, but he'd taken it like a fucking man. He had even spit at the First.
Jesus, he must be losing his god damn mind. If Crawford could see him now.
No one spit at Rosenkreuz.
They'd been quick to remind him, too. That bitch Urumi had fucked him over so bad he'd been ready to break. "They're just illusions," he had to keep telling himself.
But Christ, they had been so real...
He had seen things he'd tried so hard to forget....
Schuldich bit his lip hard enough to draw blood, to get rid of the threatening sting in his eyes. He started to slump, but the chains dug so painfully into his wrists that he straightened with a grunt.
With Souma so close, it was impossible for him to sense anyone in the building. It was almost maddening, this sudden dark silence that enveloped his mind. His whole life he had been a guest in peoples' minds, but now...
He jiggled his arms again, a fruitless and weary attempt at escape. He sighed and let his chin sag against his chest, closing his eyes in exhaustion and bitter defeat. The blood from his lip leaked down his chin and tickled his throat.
No one fucked with Rosenkreuz and lived.
But Schwarz was different. Schuldich was different. They were the prize pets of Rosenkreuz; their strongest team. Only the four members of Rosenkreuz itself were stronger Talent-wise.
No, they wouldn't kill him. He knew exactly what they had in store for him. That fucking Iragadachi faggot would wipe his mind like a slate; reboot him. He would remember nothing of Schwarz, the struggle to escape Rosenkreuz, and probably not even his past.
He wouldn't remember Kudou.
He would be just another man to use, eager to use his strange Talent for money.
He mused to himself as he watched the blood from his torn ankles pool at his feet. If Iragadachi erased even his memories of childhood- the horrors that had later led to bitterness...
Would he be the same man?
Without memories of hate, vengeance, sorrow, and regret...
Would he still be Schuldich?
Across the room the door squeaked open, and he shifted his gaze dully toward the silhouette in the doorway.
"Come, Schuldich." Iragadachi's voice was low and full of malicious glee. Triumph.
Fuck you, Schuldich wanted to say. But he'd lost his voice screaming German curses at the basement walls hours ago.
The tall man walked towards him, expensive shoes making little "tap.. tap" noises on the floor. "Time to go, Schuldich," he said, smiling coldly. "Time to become a new man. Any last words?"
Disclaimer: lyrics are from "When the World Ends" by the Dave Matthews Band- off the Matrix: Reloaded soundtrack
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