CHAPTER 7

Mon sighed, slumping down on a bench. "Is there anywhere to eat in this town?"

Thatz rolled his eyes as he sat next to her. "We just passed somewhere."

"I saw a Linker in there!" Mon argued. "Probably you know who."

"Drachma" Thatz corrected. "Well, what do you plan to do?"

"You can help me explore" a voice beside them piped up.

"Not now Fitz" Thatz muttered, then his eyes widened, making the connection the same time as Mon. Both bolted upright and stared down at the end of the bench.

"Fitz?!"

Hand's behind his head, with an all too cheeky grin on his face, was Thatz's younger brother.

Caught off guard, Thatz did the only thing he could think of. Throttle him.

"Fitz!" he hissed, grabbing the boy so their faces were inches away. "What in Deign's name are you doing here?"

"I wanted to come!" Fitz pleaded. "Bandit told me it was dead easy to stowaway on boats, so I decided to try it."

"Lord, mum is going to kill me" Thatz muttered. His head snapped up however, at the sound of someone laughing.

It was Mon. Apparently, the arrival of Fitz had set her off.

"Oh . . . oh god. Could you two be any more. . . different?" she laughed. "You'd rather die than disobey your parents Thatz!"

Fitz nodded eagerly. "Ye-up, everyone says I'm the outgoing one!"

Seeing Mon laugh calmed Thatz down, and he released his hold on his brother.

"Well, you're still in serious trouble Fitz, but I guess you can stay a little while. But you're on the next boat back, you hear me?"

Fitz rolled his eyes. "Yeah yeah. Now, lets see what's around here!"

Mon giggled. "Yenna. Lets go Ticul."

"Ticul?" Fitz asked, frowning when Thatz hid a smile. "What's that mean?"

Thatz patted the boy's head. "That's for us to know."

* * *

From the other side of town, hidden in a doorway, the man who had talked to Drachma stared at the three, slowly walking towards them. When they passed, he hid his face, and the Linker and her friends passed him without a second glance. When they were out of sight, he looked out the doorway at Mon's disappearing figure.

"Is that her?"

"Yes Henna" the man replied, turning back into the doorway. A girl dressed in the same clothes, with a small black Hokoi in her own forehead stared back. He hadn't even realised she'd arrived.

"I am sorry I am late father."

The man waved in her direction dismissively. "Don't worry about it. Just keep that Linker in sight. We must get that Hokoi."

The mans face darkened.

"Or there'll be Hell to pay. Literally."

* * *

"Are you sure this is the right way?" Thatz asked, as the three walked into a less crowded area of town. "There isn't much here."

Mon nodded. "Well, I followed the directions that guy gave us. There should be a restaurant or something around here."

They turned the corner, to find themselves in a completely abandoned street. Well, almost abandoned. A figure dressed in black was leaning against a boarded up window. Its eyes opened as the gaze turned to her.

"The Velos Hokoi" it stated, in a clearly feminine voice, blue eyes boring into them. Thatz grabbed Mon's arm and the collar of Fitz's shirt in an attempt to run, but quickly stopped when he realised the way was blocked by five of the black clad figures.

"Your Guard isn't going to rescue you this time . . . "

Mon's head whirled back, to see a man walking past the female figure. This one she recognised.

"You . . . you're the guy from before!" she shouted, recognising the sash around his waist.

The man ignored her, and nodded to the men behind them. One immediately jumped to Fitz, restraining him with ease. Two more held Thatz with a little more difficulty, whilst one restrained Mon, as the last kept a watchful eye on the street past the corner.

The leader revealed a knife, and placed it to Mon's throat. "Now, we'll try this again. Give. Us. The. Velos. Hokoi."

Mon stared back weakly. "I don't know what that is."

"Don't start with that," a voice interrupted. Mon realised it was the girl they had first seen.

"You have it, so give it to us" she explained. "It's a simple as that."

Mon roughly shook her head, being careful of the knife at her throat. "If I have it, then I don't know what it is. Believe me I . . . "

Mon stopped as she heard someone cry in pain, quickly followed by a thump, indicating something heavy had hit the ground.

"Don't you think you're a little old to be bullying kids?" a new voice asked.

* * *

Thatz felt his captors grip loosen, and he twisted around to see the figure who had knocked out one of the men.

The man wore a long white trench coat, and gauntlets on his hands. There was new stubble on his chin, but his hair was that of a Linkers.

"Who are you?" he asked.

The Linker just ignored him.

The leader growled. "Stay out of this Linker. This is not your business."

When the man started walking towards him, it became clear he was NOT going to stay out of it. The leader growled, and motioned to the girl near his side.

"Henna. This one's yours."

The girl nodded in agreement, and swiftly ran in the mans way.

"Leave willingly, or in pieces" she warned.

Eyebrows raised. "Are you challenging me?" the Linker asked.

Henna smiled, and took the pose of a skilled street fighter.

"No, I'm just stating a fact, stranger."

The Linker smirked, not bothering to take a stance. "Come and get me, Hella."

"It's Henna."

With that, the black clothed girl lunged with incredible speed, a gloved hand already ready for a vicious uppercut. Two seconds later, and she found her hand rammed into the mans own hand, easily overpowering the girl. A second try with her other hand ended with a similar fate.

Henna snarled, and used the hold the man had on her against him, lifting herself up and kicking against his chest. In the shock, her opponent let go of the girls hands, letting her drop to the floor, which she turned into a graceful flip, before going to her knees, using her legs to try and knock the man to the ground.

But the Linker wasn't going to be beaten that easily. When he realised the girl's next move, he leapt up, missing the girl's kick, and did his own spin kick, hitting the girl's neck, and sending her flying across the ground.

* * *

Henna groaned, prying her face from the dirt. Damn, that guy was good.

Suddenly, she felt someone's foot on her back. Seconds later, she was in a hold, and she had to bite her lip to stop screaming. He would break her arm if he kept up this kind of pressure.

Her opponent stared up at the man who had ordered the girl to attack.

"Get out of here and the kid keeps her arm in working order" he warned.

The leader just stared back.

"You won't do anything" he replied, deciding to call the mans obvious bluff.

All emotion left the Linker's face, and he smoothly pulled his back with force. A decidedly final 'crack' could be heard, and the muffled cries of the girl on the ground echoed with surprising volume.

He let the girl go, walking away but keeping his eyes on the leader. Without being asked, his men had let go of the three, and were watching the man warily.

The leader's eyes flickered to the girl on the ground. She was slowly getting to her feet, but one arm hung limply at her side. He'd told her to attack for a reason. If she could not defeat him, then it wasn't likely any of them could either. Linkgun's were only useful against demons or the Linked.

Almost immediately, the voice of the one he was linked to echoed through his head, giving him orders.

The man frowned. "Fall back."

The men had gotten the same message, and slunk away, disappearing with surprising ease. The leader was the last to leave.

"We'll meet again my friend," he warned. "And I always keep my word . . . "

With that, he ran in the direction the girl had gone.

Fitz sighed, and turned to the Linker. "Hey thanks a-"

But the man was nowhere in sight.

"What the?" Fitz shouted, looking around. "Where'd he go?"

"He's as fast as those guys are" Thatz mused. "Do you think that was-"

"Maybe" Mon answered, cutting off the question she knew Thatz would ask. "Maybe not."

The Linker stared up at the sky, her beads clinking as the wind pushed them together.

"We'll find out soon enough . . . "

.

To be continued . . .