The street lights and the house lights were all that's left in the town, barely reaching out to the stars. Red eyes lit open in the shadows, observing their surroundings. Some looked up to the sky and saw only darkness. One by one, each creature emerged, each larger than the next. All walked towards the large beast raising its head up above the buildings, ignoring a helicopter flying by towards the valley, and unaware of the tiny flashing lights above the rooftops.
Mrs. Saito watched the creature through her night vision goggles on top of the hill at the shrine, where Nemo made a hand out of mana took them from her. She heard the crowd scream as the people witness a nightmare unfold. The communication radios throughout the shrine blared reports from on the field Society and Clan members.
“These things are eating people's mana.” A man said over the radio with the mayor, high ranking society officials and the Elders listening on.
“What?” The mayor said as Mrs. Saito approached them. “My town. How could this happen?”
“It's not your fault.” Mrs. Saito said and Nemo stood behind her. “We never heard of these Nocturne creatures before, and with Madam Mayweather unconscious, we've lost our advantage.”
“We were to slow to respond.”
“No.” Nemo said as Ren landed before them. “We got as many of your people here as possible and many others to safe areas.”
“But these things are attacking now.” The Mayor pointed his finger at all of them. “I want an explanation.”
A high ranking official handed the mayor a file marked classified. He turned to Mrs. Saito and cued her to begin.
“Fourteen years ago, I met a man named Soren Kynder. He was a soldier from the Byakko Universe. He said he was in a battle when his mana went out of control and he woke up here in our world. He wore armor he called iridium. It was smelted by metals orichalcham and vermillion. Nether metals exist on our universe. You cannot find it in the periodic table. Our scientists in the society examined and determined that we can actually smelt our own metals. Tests began and succeeded. We soon discovered the orichalcham and vermillion poisoned the mana. At first we thought this was a trick, but it turned out that in actuality, the metals reacted differently to our mana's environment. Unsure of the possibility of more people arriving from Soren's universe, the Society agreed to bring this to the Clans attention and together we sealed this information. We gave Soren amnesty and allowed him to stay until his death nine years ago. He left behind a wife and daughter.”
Mrs. Saito took a deep breath, closing her eyes. She opened her eyes slowly and crossed her arms. “We know that all of our records regarding this was kept under classified. From what Alysia and Megumi said in their statement, their souls brought orichalcham and vermillion here and eventually gave them to Mayumi and Emi Akamatsu. We were able to locate their mother and briefed her on the situation.”
Just as the mayor opened his mouth, Nemo spoke. “Did you get all that Ren?”
“Yeah, that was deep.” He took a puff of his pipe. “A shame the Society and the Clans did not share this information sooner.”
“This is not the time!” Elder Kiba said. “The Neko Clan and Kinomoto family are on the enemies side, and we're trying to keep the other Clans from leaving.”
“The society is fighting both of them as we speak and the Nocturne's presence is overwhelming us.”
“C.C. come in!” A woman over the radio said and Mrs. Saito answered.
“We read you.”
“The mist. It's coming into the town.”
“What?!” Mrs. Saito said as the crowd reacted.
A crow flew towards Ren and landed before him. He whispered into the elders ears and his eyes grew wide.
“So its' true.” Ren said getting everyone's attention. He looked at Mrs. Saito. “Those who are not Magi like you are starting to see mana now.”
“Are you sure?” Mrs. Saito said and Ren nodded.
Kiba spoke. “I don't believe you Karasu.”
“Believe what you want.” Ren spread open his wings. “But these… Arcadians, are changing everything in our world and we have to stop all of this.”
Ren flew off into the sky and Mrs. Saito turned to Kiba. “Let's ask around before we dismiss anything. If it turns out to be true, we can find a solution together.”
Mrs. Saito stared right into Kiba's eyes and he nodded.
“Hopefully,” Kiba said. “we won't be too late.”
Satoshi stood atop the hill and watched the impure mana roll along the streets. He observed all the fighting happening in the city. The sound of explosions, lights from spells, Nocturne screaming allowed, and a pair of spells isolated above the rooftops flying back and forth. His eyes fixed in place when a memory flashed in his mind. A shadow image of a man. He growled and climbed the hill through the trees. The night acting as his cover. He was at the shrine grounds. The injured residents carted to a nearby triage.
“How is Madam Mayweather's pulse?” Satoshi heard and he ran towards the doctors. Slowly crawling towards a large tent. There were no guards and the doctors walked away. “We can't notify the next of kin. The communications beyond the town are blocked.”
Despite his large size, Satoshi was able to fit into the large tent. Lying on the bed was Madam Mayweather with the heart monitor. He looked over her face as a breathing tube helped her. She opened her eyes and stared without a care.
“You're not my husband, but…” Mayweather placed her hand on the cat's face. “Why do I sense his soul?”
“You have my Satoshi's soul.” Mayweather's hands struggle to channel mana. “Give me back… my husb—”
Mayweather's hands dropped and the heart monitor let out a long beep. Satoshi slipped outside, jumping into the bushes. The doctors and nurses gathered inside the tent. Satoshi slipped further into the forest and ran. He ran fast using his nightvision to navigate when smelled a person nearby. Unaware of his surroundings, a ball of light glowed and a woman appeared before him. She wore armor around a leotard with long boots and gloves. At first he thought it was the twins until he took a second look.
“Test subject 001 Yukito, and test subject 002 Satoshi Hamasaki…” Victoria said walking around the cat. “…Soul Transference Project observations.
Satoshi struggled to attacked her but his body shivered in her presence.
“Subject 002 has become self-aware within the body of subject 001. It reacted to its spouse as she lay dying.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Subject 001 however, is unaware of the soul of subject 002 and is struggling to understand its situation. It may be a matter of time before the memories lost from death will return to subject 001.”
“Death?” Satoshi eyes grew wide. “World War II.”
Satoshi saw in his memories, his body lying dead as planes dropped bombs above, landing on the wooden houses down the hill. Victoria stood before his corpse with a ball. Satoshi realized it was not his own memories, but the soul's he was looking at. Victoria knelt down and pushed the ball into his body and he woke up.
“Due Subject 001's lost memories from lack of oxygen in the brain, his decision to take the name Satoshi was due to the soul's mana energy resuscitating him. This experiment proved successful and I've expanded upon it with Subject 003, Alysia Perez and Subject, 004 Megumi Miyazaki-Perez. With Valdegaurd's help, their souls were removed and placed through time into inanimate objects called shrines to act as goddesses. I have discovered that the younger the soul the stronger their awareness is and ease of control over the subjects.”
“You humans… you're an abomination to nature.” Satoshi growled and ran off to the town, leaving Victoria behind.
Despite the town lights, the nightsky made it difficult for Keiko to see where the shrine was. With Rumiko leaning on her back, they girls found themselves surrounded by magic spells everywhere. With helicopters now flying above striking down the Nocturne, the action started to overwhelm them. Rumiko slid off of Keiko's back and gained her footing. She turned around and watched the twins in the distance fight each other.
“I have to fix this.”
“Don't start Rumi-chan.” Keiko turned around to watch. “This is not your fault. What your mother did to you was wrong.”
“Mom.” Rumiko growled under breath and she curled her hand into a fist. “I'll make her pay for this.”
“Hey.” Keiko stood in front of Rumiko. “How about we get back to the shrine and see a doctor. There's nothing we can do now. Look around you.”
Rumiko shifted her head to the side, wanting to ignore the action around them, but she channeled her mana and her magic circle appeared. “KUNAI STORM!”
Knives flew out of the circle and struck a nocturne at the edge of the building. Keiko immediately aimed her staff at another Nocturne. “FIRE WAVE”
A tsunami of flames slammed into the creature, lighting it on fire. It fell below where Keiko and Rumiko followed. They saw from the fire below impure mana seeping around the building.
“No way.” Keiko said.
“It's everywhere.” Rumiko saw people in the windows watching on. “CLOSE YOUR WINDOW AND STAY INSIDE!”
“We have to stop all of this.”
“HEY!” Akane called from the distance and got the girls attention.
“Over there.” Rumiko pointed at the giant crows flying in the sky. There were flashlights waving at them and headed toward their direction. Keiko and Rumiko stepped aside as the crows all landed.
Akane and the gang all gathered around, everyone shared their information. It was brief, and everyone was quiet watching their friends fight each other. Akane shook her head in dismissal of what had happened. She hopped on the Karasu with her wisp in hand ready to fly.
“I have to tell them.”
“My mother and the Neko Clan are out there. They'll kill you without a plan.”
“I don't care. I have to do something.”
“Wait.” Keiko said hoping on. “All we have to do is tell Mayumi and Emi the truth. Rumiko, go back to your mother and draw your family away from the twins.”
“We'll come with you Rumiko.” Hideki said with the Cooking Club and Sayako behind him.
Mayumi flew through the air, chasing Emi's orichalcham pulled her up toward the stars. The vermillion armor shifted allowing her to turn. She made her magic circle appear with mana channeled from the armor. The magic circle locked onto Emi and she cast the spell.
“Gale Blast!” A burst of wind flew at high speed. Emi sense the wind approaching her and spun her body dodging the spell. “How?”
“I'm not telling!” Emi said as she positioned her body and stretched her arms out. “Darkness Shockwave!”
Mayumi flicked her hand, making her circle deflect the spell. She picked up speed and her hand grabbed Emi. Mayumi pulled her sister in and punched her in the stomach. As Emi coughed, Mayumi formed a ball of air between her hands. Just was she was ready to throw, she felt Emi's forehead bash into her forehead. The spell dispersed as she nursed the wound. Emi appeared behind Mayumi and wrapped her arms around her sister.
“Listen to me Mayumi! We have to stop this.” Emi looked below and saw bother pure and impure mana mixing with each other. “That mana below is going to kill people.”
“I must save the city.” Mayumi used her strength to pushed Emi's arm apart. “Why don't you understand that?”
“Because I thought the same thing.” Emi found herself pushed back and Mayumi turned around channeling her mana. Emi vision blurred, and sharp sting struck her heart. “No…”
“You were right Emi.” Mayumi said regaining her breath. “The people need to be saved. Look how far the goddesses are willing to go.”
“But not like this… no… I was wrong. I WAS WRONG!” Emi channeled her mana and stretched her arms out. She felt the wind gathered around her armor, but it became corrupted by the impure mana. “WINDLASH!”
The air turned into a whip. At a high speed, it slapped Mayumi in the waist. The sting made her jump to the side out of reflex. Mayumi looked at her arm and saw blood. Her eyes glowed red and channeled her mana. It became as intense as Emi's channel. The twins flew towards each other with fists raised. The struck each other and burst of wind cracked the sky with the sound of thunder. It startled them at first, but they retained their focus and increased their channeling.
“Aerial Blade!” Mayumi threw a air shaped javelin at Emi, but her sister was too fast for it to connect.
“I'm faster than you.” Emi flew right up into Mayumi's face, and cast a spell. “Shadow Strike!”
The attack connected, pushing Mayumi back, but she only rubbed the pain.
“You may be fast, but you're physically weaker than me.”
In the distance, Keiko and Akane rode the giant crow high above to avoid the spells. They saw ninja below channeling mana to stop the girls, but a burst of magic exploded pushing the off the building. Akane saw their friend circling around distracting the Kinomoto family.
“Get out of here?” Emi said watching the crow circle the sisters.
“Listen!” Akane said. “I met Alysia and Megumi. They are here.”
“They are?!” Emi said.
“They are?” Mayumi said as Akane continued.
“This is a setup!” Akane said. “Alysia and Megumi had their souls ripped out by a magi named Valdegaurd. She took their souls here and placed them in the shrines.”
“What?” Emi said and she looked at Mayumi.
“They caused this?” Mayumi's eyes trembled.
“The goddesses are Alysia and Magumi's souls. They are under Valdegaurd's control.”
“They were supposed to help us.”
“Mayumi!” Emi said. “Think clearly. Akane said they were captured.”
“They betrayed us!” Mayumi clutched her shoulders. “What did they do to us?”
“She's losing it.”
“Mayumi!” Kariko said. “There are bigger enemies at work here. We need to help Alysia and Megumi get their souls back. That's how we win.”
Mayumi's eyes glazed over as everything that has happened blanked out her mind. She looked at Emi thinking of all the struggles she had went through to protect her, to save, to purify her. Mayumi never even noticed her sister struggle to maintain balance, all she could see was the memories. Tears fell down her cheeks and her mana channeled into sheer heat as the wind gathered around her armor.
“Emi…” Mayumi took a short breath as she resisted crying.
“It's okay.” Emi winced in pain as the impure mana enveloped her. She struggled to control her channeling.
“I must purify you.” She whispered.
“Come on.” Emi reached her hand out welcoming Mayumi into her arms. “It's over. We won't give them what they want.”
“You're in pain Emi.”
“The poison is hurting, but I'll be all right when we return to the shrine.”
“Something's wrong Keiko.” Akane wince her eyes and she noticed mana for a brief moment intensifying. “I see mana.”
“What?” Keiko eyes grew wide as she saw the mana pouring out of the sisters. “Emi, Mayumi your overchanneling!”
“We're what?” Emi looked up at her friend and found herself wrapped in Mayumi's arms.
They felt the pressure of the mana crushing their bodies. Emi screamed in pain, as the spell was cast. As the magic circle slid over her feet, she felt the impure mana change within her. She recalled what happened to Koi when Mayumi purified it in the field and in a panic she strengthens her channeling to resist the spell.
The orichalcham and the vermillion reacted glowing bright. A shockwave pushed the crow back and he retreated to the nearest building. Everyone in the vicinity watch as Mayumi and Emi were enveloped in a ball of light.
With their knees to their chests and arms hugging their legs, they provided intense energy and heat for the metals to melt and slid off their bodies. The alloys coagulated mixing the pure mana and impure mana together turning it grey. The light close shrunk and disappeared with Mayumi and Emi leaving only the lump of metal with grey mana seeping out of it. Everyone stood in horror as their friends vanished with the light. Rumiko landed next to Akane and Keiko as everyone else stayed on the crows.
Upon impact, a plume of grey mist shot up over the buildings. The impure and pure mana below mixed with the grey mist. Like a surging flame caught in a back draft, all of the mana turned grey and rose up in the sky like a tsunami. Everyone, except the helicopters and crows above, were engulfed. The buildings were coated. The grey mana stretched outward across the town. Domes made by the kami covered their natural shrines throughout the region. It made its way out into the valley and beyond the town limits where the pure mana rested. There were screams booming over the city; from the people, to the animals to the Nocturne, all covered in grey mana. Then silence. Soon, two pillars of light shot out of the sky. One in the valley and one in the town.
TO BE CONTINUED...