Out of all the things Emmanuel hated about IDK04, the wind was the worst. It was fast, it was brutal, it was dumping the sand from the desert in the city by the bucket-load.
It was also really starting to piss him off.
He yanked the scarf higher, hissing through his teeth at the smell of it. He couldn't remember the last time it was washed. Obviously a long time ago.
"So where is this guy?" He muttered, pulling a comical face when the scarf hooked onto his mouth. He pushed it back down and was rewarded with a whiff of fresh air and a mouthful of sand.
"Well, technically, it's not exactly a guy." Kira's voice crackled back, the distance between them making it sound tinny. "It might not be a girl either. Technically it's neither, or maybe it's both, you know, like whatever you call them, those ones - "
Emmanuel fought back a sigh at the other boy's ramblings. "Kira." He warned, knowing if he didn't stop him right then the guy would never shut up.
"Right!" Kira snapped back on track hurriedly. There was the sound of keys clicking and he spoke again. "He, she, whatever, is currently lounging around the markets which is about, um...a few miles to your right. It's on the other side of that giant lump o' sand in front of you. It's kinda unmissable."
Emmanuel glanced to his right at the huge sand dune, wincing as another gust of wind slashed against his cheek. "Okay."
"You all right to get there yourself?"
"Sure," Emmanuel held his breath as he pulled the scarf back up, "I'm pretty sure I can spot a huge marketplace against a plane of nothingness."
"Good, great, let me know when you get there 'cause I'm totally kickin' Rei's ass at this game."
There was a piercing click and then nothing. It was quiet and he was alone.
He swore as a particularly vicious puff almost sent him head over heels. At least the markets would offer a bit of shelter. The sooner he got there the better.
"Your grace." The young intern lingered in the doorway, a skittish bag of nerves. "Uh, Kira sent me to err, tell you that he needs to see you in the um, the control room."
Somewhere beneath the pillow Serenity groaned. She'd only just lay down. Couldn't they leave her alone for five minutes?
She sat up, pushing the massive pillow to the floor, giving the intern an icy look that caused the kid to shrink back in fear.
"Fine." She said harshly feeling a small surge of satisfaction at the intern's terrified expression. "Tell him I'll be there in a sec."
The kid squeaked and bolted, getting out of there as fast as his legs could carry him. Serenity couldn't help but smirk. She felt better already.
"This had better be important, Kira." She growled stalking to a stop at her Chief of Staff's desk.
Kira swung around in the clear chair to face the Guardian. "Just lettin' you know that Emmanuel's going to the markets."
Serenity stared at his face, horrified. "You...you woke me up just to tell me that?" Her shocked voice quickly turned into an angry hiss.
"Just thought you'd want to know." Kira said innocently, his impish grin not matching his tone at all.
Serenity's eyes narrowed into furious slits. After a moment she sighed and massaged her temples. "Remind me why I haven't fired you yet."
"Because," Kira answered smugly, "I am your god."
Serenity snorted and Kira turned back to the center monitor, watching the words scroll down the screen. Serenity examined his desk with disgust. It was a mess. Bits of rubbish littered the glass, empty food packets and scrunched up balls of paper strewn all over the place. The only clean space was taken up by the five keyboards, each connected to the five monitors floating above the desk.
"Have you ever thought about cleaning this place up?" She picked up a bit of paper, her insides turning. Kira tapped a key a few times, his brilliant silver eyes glued to the screen.
"Yeah it crossed my mind a few times. But you said I should never listen to the voices inside my head." He added slyly. Serenity just shook her head, giving in.
"Oi," Emmanuel's voice sparked over the intercom. "I'm at the markets."
"Awesome." Kira switched the 2nd monitor on and a detailed map of the marketplace appeared. He turned to the appropriate keyboard and began typing until the red dot that represented Emmanuel came up on the outer streets. "Gotcha. Hi there."
Serenity tapped his shoulder. "Let me know when he gets back. And keep an eye on the situation in FRE02."
She headed back to her room, her long midnight black hair swishing from side-to-side as she walked.
"Where's the target?" Emmanuel's tone grew impatient. Kira couldn't blame him. Nobody liked being stuck on IDK04. He punched in the right keys and a purple dot materialized on one of the many back streets.
"One of the back streets, around behind the cafe." Kira reached over and grabbed the can of SLURP!."You might want to grab shim before he, she, it, reaches the intersection. Try to keep it away from the public. We so do not want chaos, as amusing as it is."
"Yeah, sure, whatever."
"Awesome. See you when you get back. Lemme know if you want anything." He turned the monitor off and sat back in his chair, turning his attention back to the earthquake in FRE02.
Emmanuel observed his surroundings dispassionately. The marketplace wasn't one of his favorite places. He hated everything about IDK04. Lucky for him he rarely had to visit the desert planet. Usually that was Matthew's job. It would've been that day too if Matthew hadn't gotten in the way of a particularly nasty demon and busted up his ankle.
The market was as busy as always, the maze of streets crowded with hundreds of different species of, well, everything. The markets was celebrated for having everything a demon needs, from food to weapons and everything in between. Emmanuel made his way through the streets, running a hand through his sand-caked hair. Another thing he loathed about IDK04.
Most of the creatures populating the markets knew who he was (it was almost impossible not to) and the sensible ones cleared a path, staying far away and watching him fearfully until he passed. The other ones, while they did get out of the way, stood back and jeered at him threateningly. He ignored them. He knew none of them were stupid enough to start anything right there. In the markets a single one-on-one fight could very quickly escalate into a full-blown mass frenzy. It just was not the best place to try anything. Thank god everyone knew that.
The cafe wasn't far and he glanced at his watch, sidestepping a little kid with giant bones jutting out from his spine. Seven years ago that would've scared him to death.
It was getting toward evening. He hoped this wouldn't take long.
The cafe was a small white building made out of jagged rocks that were almost impossible to break. It was quite a popular cafe, Emmanuel had gone there once out of desperation but had left rather quickly when he discovered what was on the menu.
"So am I close?" He slipped into the narrow alleyway between the cafe and an abandoned building. The alley was so narrow he could barely fit and he had to scrape himself over the rocky walls.
"Yeah, yeah, should be up in the street right behind the cafe. Seems to have stopped for a bit of a rest. Probably needs it too, after all that rampaging and slaughtering."
"Yeah," Emmanuel grimaced as the back of his skull hit a very sharp rock. "I hear that's pretty tiring."
He let out a sigh of relief as he squeezed through the end of the alley and into the dusky, grim-looking street running behind the cafe and eventually linking up to one of the main roads.
Emmanuel stuck to the wall, his palms pressed against the cold slimy cafe.
There it was.
A fully-grown U13, a mass of arms and soft gray skin, complete with a tiny head and anywhere up to 16 eyes. A tiny mouth full of rows of jagged teeth that was, thankfully, too small to do any real damage.
Kira was right; it appeared to be resting. It had its back to him and, if he wasn't mistaken, he could've sworn it was snoring.
His hand went to his side, he gripped the long thin sword, a trickle of sweat tickling his forehead. He could hear the wind hitting the outer market walls.
'Just make this as quick and easy as possible so I can get the fuck home.' He thought, moving away from the wall and facing the demon, slowly unsheathing the sword. He advanced slowly, the gravel crunching under his boots.
A few feet away, he raised the sword high above his head. The sun caught the blade, sending a brilliant flare of white light through the street.
The demon turned, its many eyes opening in unison.
"Great. Just great! You had to wake up didn't you?" Emmanuel snarled, stepping nimbly to the side to avoid one of the arms that shot out to grab him. Fortunately the U13 wasn't known for being very skilled. It was slow, stupid and weak.
Emmanuel ducked to avoid another long thin arm and dropped to the floor, rolling under the flailing limbs. He rose to his knees, plunging the sword into the demon's soft side as he did so. The demon screamed, and Emmanuel yanked the sword out, snarling again as the dark bloody splattered him.
The demon stumbled back, wailing horribly, blood riveting down its leg. It charged him, apparently not giving up and Emmanuel swung back, thrusting the sword straight into its stomach. The long silver blade tore through the flesh and came out the back. The demon stood stock still, its face frozen in pain and shock.
Emmanuel gritted his teeth and swung the sword sideways. It ripped right through the skin and the demon fell to the ground, blood cascading from the huge gaping hole in its side.
"Son of a bitch." Emmanuel growled, sheathing the sword and wiping the bloody from his pale face. "I hate this job."
"You all right man?" Kira's voice was muffled, like he was eating something.
"Fine." Emmanuel grimaced at the bloody carcass with its arms splayed out in the puddle of sticky blood. "Can I come home now?"
Kira laughed. "Sure. Hang on a sec."
Emmanuel sighed, exhausted and annoyed. He was tired, his ankle was still aching from the other night and now he was covered in disgusting demon blood. He couldn't wait to get some sleep. He turned, scratching his neck absently. He froze at the body cradled between a wire fence and the wall.
'Probably one of it's snacks.' He edged closer, curiosity getting the better of him.
When he got a good look he stopped dead, his jaw slack and eyes wide.
It was a boy.
Laying on his side, facing the alleyway, his eyes closed. He was completely naked, his tanned skin blotched with hideous purple bruises and webbed with gashes. He looked young, probably only a few years younger than Emmanuel, his brown hair matted with knots and what looked like mud. There was a single black string around his dirty ankle.
"Oh." Emmanuel breathed, kneeling before the boy. He was still alive. His breathing was weak and uneven but he was alive. A dried track of blood was caked onto the skin between his nose and his upper lip.
"Kira." Emmanuel cleared his throat. "I uh, I think...I think I found another one."
"Another U13? Strange."
"No. Another human."
There was a pause. "Really? Are you sure?"
"Yeah." Emmanuel looked over the boy. "Definitely human."
"Wow." Kira was just as surprised. "I'll let Serenity know." He turned and grabbed the first intern that passed. "Oi, go tell her highness that we've found another kid."
"Yes sir." The intern hurried out and Kira faced the monitor, stroking his chin thoughtfully.
Emmanuel swallowed, impatiently waiting for a response. He reached out, hesitating before touching the boy's shoulder. He quickly recoiled when the kid's eyes shot open.
"Um...hi." Emmanuel said weakly.
The boy jolted upright, his green eyes widening dramatically, bare chest heaving wildly. "Where, who, w-where am - "
He gasped, panicked, scurrying back until he hit the fencing.
"Calm down, I'm not going to hurt you, I swear." Emmanuel said softly, slowly rising to his feet with his hands raised so the boy could see he wasn't a threat.
The kid glanced at his sword, back up at his face, panting. He was obviously terrified. He gripped the fence between his fingers and pulled himself to his feet, wobbling unsteadily on shaky legs.
"Who...where the hell am I!? Who are you!?" He cried shrilly, his eyes darting around.
"Here." Emmanuel unclasped his cloak, keeping his eyes averted, and held it out to the boy.
He stared at it, confused.
"Take it." Emmanuel urged gently. "Trust me. I won't hurt you."
The boy looked at his face, utterly perplexed and frightened.
He extended a trembling arm and quickly grabbed the cloak, yanking it to him as if he was afraid Emmanuel would try to take it off him.
"Now put it on." Emmanuel coaxed, watching from the corner of his eye. The boy wrapped the cloak around his shoulders slowly, pulling the ends together so that he was completely covered.
"Good." Emmanuel swiveled back around to face him. "My name's Emmanuel. We're gonna get you out of here, okay?"
I hope it wasn't too crappy. It'll get better as I introduce more characters and the storyline and things, so please stick around. And it'd be great if you could review and tell me what you think.