Part Ten

Masters of your own fate
You must act now before too late
Masters of your destiny
Develop your humanity

A blinding flash together they stand
Stepping forth with an open hand
They have a given task in mind
As friends to help and lead the way
Beings that were once our own kind
This is what they have to say

    Thousands of years ago, a great battle took place. In the end, it was the empires that were victorious, while the Myrr were few in number and scattered over the vast world. Many were picked off as time passed. Those that lived took to hiding in the high mountains, forming a closeknit group. They depended on each other to keep the blood pure and the magic going. Their close breeding, however, wore down on the purity of their gift until they could cast only simple spells. Their diminishing power led to the shortening of their lives

    For thousands of years, they waited and hid from the world, drawing themselves away. They prayed to their fallen goddess for the chance to seek vengeance against those that had killed her and sent them out as outcasts. For thousands of years, they did nothing but pray.

    As years passed, the world changed around them. They were among the only races to survive the change of the old world to the new. The others that did were reborn Star Mages, called back to life by their mother stars and conceived in wombs of normal humans. These people also prayed for someone to guide them through the world.

    It was Ara'miza that answered.

    It was Ara'miza that told the Myrr what to do, told them how to reawaken her. The Stars caught wind of what was going on and sought to revive the two they viewed as leaders. Through the years, the Myrr planned and watched, searching for the body that would be their goddess's shell, searching for the one that would strike out against the world that had scorned them.

    Thousands of years have passed since they lost their place at the top of the ruling chain.

    Now they've found a way to get it back.


    The Myrr gathered on the roof of the hospital. A'betar motioned for the others to set down the board carrying the reborn lady. They did as he ordered, and he knelt on the rooftop beside it. He reached out, carressing a cheek with one hand. "I can feel your power, m'Lady," he whispered to her. "I know you can feel it. Your body, which has laid in rest for so long, is ready to reawaken."

    He smiled when her hand twitched, then lowered his own to briefly squeeze hers. "Soon," he promised her. "Very soon." With that, he rose. "Form the circle," he barked, tone switching from respectful and soft to harsh. The Myrr scrambled to obey him, gathering in a circle around the board. "Where is Mar'mat?" he asked.

    "She was rear guard, scoping out the rest of the hospital," one of the younger boys answered.

    "Hn." A'betar's lip curled in disdain. "She'd better hurry."

    Suddenly Wa'tori materialized in front of the Myrr leader. He collapsed to the roof, weak with the use of so much power. He was deathly pale from the overdose, and his trembling was visible. "A'betar," he managed to choke out, "I watched the Stars as you ordered."

    "And?" For Wa'tori to use such a gift as transportation, the news had to be bad.

    "They have two captives with them and are on their way to Higo-sen. One is nineteen."

    There was a ripple of alarm across the circle. A'betar's eyes narrowed dangerously. As he opened his mouth to speak, however, Mar'mat vaulted over the side of the roof. She strode forward.

    "A'betar! I believe I have found him!"

    All the Myrr turned to her. Her face was shining with an almost unholy glee. "Found who?" A'betar asked.

    "There is someone on one of the lower floors. He is killing some nurses and ranting against a God." She bowed deeply to A'betar. "It could be Sainan, his hatred for the holy Ara'miza carrying over through his reborn state."

    A'betar thought this over before a wide smile spread on his face. "That could be him. You four, go with her and find him. Bring him to the stage. The rest of us will go to the Stars and catch their hostages. If this one and the one of theirs are the reborn stars, we must have them ready for Ara'miza's sacrifice. She will enjoy the gift and the pleasure of killing Niko twice."


    Ken was distantly aware that he was being jolted, and that he was highly uncomfortable. There were voices, lots of them, but he didn't recognize any of them. His body felt as if someone had taken a cheese grater to it, and the further awake he became, the more pain he picked up on. He groaned softly. ~If it hurts being awake, I want to go back to sleep.~


    It was a quiet voice, a familiar one. Yohji?…Against his will, one of Ken's eyes slid open. Yohji was across from him. They were in the back of a truck. Yohji was bound tightly so that it seemed any movement would be impossible. There were some burn marks on his face, and holes in his clothes from where that triangle barrier had seared straight through to bare flesh. Ken had a feeling he didn't look much better.

    He opened his other eye. "Where are we?" It was hard to get the words out. It felt like someone had stuffed wads of cotton in his mouth, an after-effect of the electrifying barrier.

    "I don't know." Yohji's eyes turned towards the four Stars who were standing by the tailgate of the truck, talking quietly amongst themselves. There was a tense air to them. "They're not happy," he told Ken, keeping his voice down. "They don't know where their twin stars are, and the ceremony is drawing near."

    "So that's one cult who's had their plans foiled so far," Ken muttered. "Now there's just the Myrr."

    Their murmuring caught the attention of one of the Stars. The man scowled at them and moved over. He pulled the rope belt off from its spot around his waist and knelt in front of Ken. "You two be quiet," he snarled at them.

    "Get away from me!" Ken tried to lash out, but none of his limbs could move. He tried to lurch his entire body, but it was fastened tightly to the truck. They had known what they were doing when they tied him.

    "Get away from him!" Yohji snapped. "Let us go!"

    The rope was shoved at Ken's mouth. He clamped his teeth down. If he couldn't dodge, he could refuse to be gagged. The prickly material of the rope scratched his face, but he refused to open his jaws and let it be stuffed in his mouth. The Star scowled at him. "You stubborn little…"

    A finger touched Ken under his ear and power exploded in his mouth. He yelled in pain, a yell that was cut off when the bristly rope was shoved in his mouth as a painful but efficient gag. He choked on it, trying to twist his head and spit it out. There was plenty left over in the back to be knotted, especially when it was pulled tight enough that Ken thought it hand to be touching the backs of his teeth. He vainly pushed at it with his tongue, but it didn't even budge.

    He heard Yohji's cry, and when the Star in front of him moved, Ken saw that Yohji had been gagged as well. The two assassins glared at their captors defiantly.

    ~I'm going to choke on this…~ Ken thought, trying to force his jaws to relax. His gag reflex did not like having something crammed that far back. He looked over at Yohji when the Stars rose and drifted back to their spots. The older assassin looked as if he felt the same way. He looked like a horse with a bit in his mouth.

    A very bristly bit.

    Ken closed his eyes. ~Aya…Where are you??~ The only good thing that would come out of this was if the Stars were talking about something that had to do with their plans. Maybe they were, maybe they weren't, but they were being really quiet about it.

    Then something happened.

    It was something that Ken couldn't describe, if he'd wanted to. Words could never fully catch what came over the small caravan. He felt like he was suddenly in the ocean, being pushed at by the waves. Except the waves were burning hot…And they were strong. They crashed up against him, sending pain through his entire being. His eyes shot open, meeting with Yohji's wide ones. The golden haired man's gaze was blank, and Ken realized he was experiencing the same thing.

    "It's them!" someone shrieked. "That's them!"

    Fuumi suddenly leapt onto the cabin of the truck. How and from where was something Ken never did figure out. "They're on the stage!" she yelled for all to hear. "They're on the stage at Higo-sen!!"

    ~Who's on the stage?~

    Before anyone could react to Fuumi's words, the air was suddenly full of people dressed in beige outfits. Fire erupted all over the trucks, and Ken gaped when he realized the flames were coming from the new arrivals. He felt extremely dizzy. People who appeared out of thin air and shot fire?

    ~Damn! We're in over our heads on this one! Why the hell did Manx give us this mission??~

    "Abandon the caravan!" Fuumi screamed, leaping from the cabin top. "Get out!"

    Ken and Yohji could only watch as the Stars tried to flee. Power flew back and forth- flames from the new people, who Ken guessed to be the Myrr, and white balls from the Stars. Panic seared through his mind when Ken noticed something.

    He and Yohji were being left behind.

    He cursed through his gag, trying again to struggle free. The air was full of crackling electricity and the smell of burnt clothes and flesh. Screams and war cries mingled. When Ken realized he couldn't get loose, he tried instead to tuck into a ball and hide. He did _not_ want to come to these new people's attention. He closed his eyes tightly.

    ~Don't see us don't see us go away go chase the Stars.~

    Finally there was silence.

    And then…The truck shifted as someone or several someones landed on it. The hair on the back of Ken's neck stood up when one of them moved close to him. He heard rustling of cloth, and something brushed against him. Then a cool hand touched his chin and tilted it up. Slowly, Ken opened his eyes.

    He was gazing into the face of a boy who looked to be his age. The boy had silvery hair to his shoulder blades and calm gray eyes. Something was…wrong about his eyes. It took Ken a moment to realize his pupils were slits. His own eyes widened.

    ~Not human…~

    Yohji made a strangled sound. The boy in front of Ken turned, and his movement made it easy for Ken to see his friend. Yohji's eyes were elsewhere. Ken followed his gaze and his heart stopped in his chest. A board was being set down. Lying on top of it was Aya-chan.

    ~Aya-chan?? Why her? Aya!!! Do you know they have your sister?~ He made a small sound of despair.

    The silver haired boy turned back to him. "You know her, don't you? You think you do, anyway." He smiled, tracing his fingers along Ken's cheek. Ken felt disgust for the touch curl in his stomach and glared at the boy. "We've been watching you and your friends since we saw those symbols in your shop. We know all about you now. We know about Weiß. We know about your Kritiker. We know about her." He tilted his head in the direction of Aya-chan.

    "But we're not interested in anyone except you and the lady." The boy leaned in closer, pressing a cheek against one of Ken's. "You are nineteen, Hidaka Ken," he whispered, his mouth almost touching Ken's ear. "I'm willing to bet you're who the Stars were looking for."

    It took Ken several moments for that to sink in, and his eyes widened further. ~They're making the same mistake the Stars did!~ he thought, surprised. Fuumi herself had said they'd first thought he was the one they were seeking. Now the Myrr thought it? But why?

    ~Because the Stars had me?~

    ~Because we're going to Higo-sen?~

    "What are we going to do with this one, A'betar?" someone asked. Ken could see over the boy's shoulder to see someone stroking Yohji's hair. Yohji was glaring daggers at the girl.

    "I don't care." A'betar gave a careless shrug. He leaned back, giving Ken a smile. "You're prettier than I thought you would be. If you do turn out to be a Star…You are probably Niko. When she kills your soul, I wonder if she will grant me your soulless body to play with." He lowered his hand from Ken's cheek to trail down Ken's chest, all the way to the hem of his jeans. Ken felt his cheeks color in embarrassed anger. "Until she gives you to me, I cannot bother your body."

    ~Thank God for small mercies…~

    That was Ken's thought before several people appeared and dumped an unconscious and bloody Farfarello right next to him.


    Schuldich was following the other two assassins down the hospital when a searing emptiness cut across his mind. He froze in his tracks, raising a hand slowly to touch his forehead.




    Schuldich pressed the heel of his palm against his forehead, trying to push away the headache that was forming from the sudden loss. "Crawford," he bit out.

    "What do you want?" Crawford stopped and turned to face him. Aya kept going, ignoring them. All he cared about was finding the people who'd taken his sister.

    "I just lost contact with Nagi." Crawford blinked, surprised. "Damn it!"

    Aya stopped when he heard the words. "Nagi's with Omi," he said flatly.

    Schuldich shot him a glare. "I know that. He contacted me this morning." /Weiß?/ he sent, searching for the young Weiß's mind. /Where are you, Bombay?/

    But he couldn't sense that mind either.

    He shook his head in a negative. "No luck," he said. "They're both gone."

    "Where were they going today?" Crawford asked.

    "They were going to take another look at the stage." Schuldich's eyes narrowed in thought. "The stage could be affecting the connection…"

    "We've got to hurry," Aya reminded them.

    "No shit," Schuldich muttered under his breath. He had barely taken another step forward, though, before another bite went through his mind. This bond was tighter and thicker than Nagi's, and the sudden snap of it sent Schuldich crashing to his knees with pain. He could identify this loss immediately.

    He'd lost Farfarello.


    No answer.

    Schuldich made a sound of frantic anger. /Fararello!! Damn it, where are you?/ he yelled at the blank area that should have been Farfarello's mind.

    "Now what?" Crawford demanded, grabbing Schuldich's shoulder as if to haul him to his feet.

    "Where is Farfarello?" Schuldich scrambled to his feet, shoving Crawford aside in the process. "Where is he?" He whirled first on the American, then on Aya.

    "It's your job to keep an eye on him," Crawford reminded him, eyes narrowing.

    "Verdammt!! I lost him too!" Crawford's eyes narrowed further. "Why didn't you see this coming?" Schuldich spat at the man. He didn't bother waiting for an answer, instead using his speed to race away. He cast his mind out, searching for the last people to see the Irishman. A mortally wounded nurse on the floor beneath them…

    He jumped down the flight of stairs, turning the corner as he was stumbling to get his balance back. He slammed the door open and entered the hallway. There were dead bodies everywhere. Among them, he found the live mind. He was at the woman's side in an instant, straddling her.

    He cupped her face in his hands. "Where is the scarred Irishman?" he asked, voice low and ice cold.

    Her breathing was labored, and it was hard for her to speak. "People…in tan clothes…They vanished, all of them…" She barely managed to lift a few fingers and gesture to a room. "Please…I need help…I'm hurt…"

    Irritated and impatient, Schuldich dropped her head back to the ground. She managed a groan of pain, eyes closing. Schuldich ignored her, getting to his feet and darting into the room she'd indicated. There were three dead bodies of those jerks in the tan clothes. It seemed Farfarello had given them a fight.

    But he'd been taken, in the end.

    "Last train to Higo-sen leaves in fifteen minutes," came Crawford's calm voice from behind him. Schuldich whirled on him, jade eyes glinting with anger. "Bombay's phone is disconnected. The next train out of here doesn't leave for two hours. If we wait for it and take the train, we'll get there at six. If we drive, we'll get there at six-thirty because of the speed difference and traffic."

    "How are we supposed to fight them?" Aya demanded. "They have gifts like yours."

    Crawford glanced towards Schuldich. "I could read their thoughts, not manipulate them," the German said, clenching his hands in frustration, his eyes darting to the dead Myrr again. He wanted Farfarello back. Now. "They have one way shields- I can hear but can't touch."

    "Looks like we'll be using old fashioned weapons, then." Crawford turned away. "We'll go stock up."

Part 11