A/N: Here I am with my monthly update of Into the Void. There isn't much more to go before the end of this series but I'll have a short sequel to it that everyone might enjoy. Hopefully it will answer all of the questions left at the end of this series. After this is completed, I'll go about revising it and hopefully it will sound better to others who want to come back and read it or who have read it for the first time.
This will end in about 35 chapters, so after this, I have six more chapters to go! Thank you all for sticking with me on this work! Please read and review and I'll see you next month!
Into the Void
Episode 29: Regret
By: Melissa Norvell
"What's that?" Rubio asked.
"Since by busting the coffin, you defeat me. I have no choice but to give you the full extent of the magic that I had promised you," Carbunkle explained to the ex-terrorist. He had beaten him fairly and so he was to receive a special gift.
"You've received magic from Carbunkle?" Valentino glanced over towards the silver-haired man in question.
"Before you do, I want to know something," Rubio gave the bird-like spirit a serious stare as the spirit listened silently before the man continued. "Why did you give me the power on your own so easily?"
"You would have never defeated me on your own," Carbunkle explained the cold, hard truth of the situation. "The physical world cannot penetrate the paranormal without aid from outside forces or scientific devices. Everyone who comes in here gets a fair chance and you have proven yourself worthy of my power. Our battle is over. Come to me."
"Why?" Rubio was a little hesitant to go to the spirit. He was used to being screwed over. What would make him think that Carbunkle was any different than any other opposing entity that came across his path? The man gave Carbunkle a protective look as he walked over to Valentino and wrapped his arms securely around the man.
"I will not go back on my word. I am going to give you your full ability," the spirit advised. Carbunkle may have had a bad legend about him regarding his forest and the ability to rip human souls from their bodies but he always kept him honest words. He knew that no living creature could defeat him, that's why he aided those who stood a chance.
It was a rare instance when someone came across him that had the potential that Rubio possessed, so it was not a question of worthiness to Carbunkle. The spirit just wondered if he would accept his gift.
"You won't do anything to Valentino?" Rubio was a little leery of Carbunkle. For all he knew, the spirit could be planning to get him away from Valentino so he could recapture him.
"I won't. He does not belong here."
"So, you were going to let him go?" Rubio wondered about Carbunkle's true objective. It didn't seem like him to say that about those who resided in his forest.
"Not unless someone came for him."
Valentino gazed at the black-clad man beside of him, and though his look was mechanical in structure, the inner workings of his mind were constantly turning as he thought about the situation for a moment. 'Why did he come alone… ?' The assassin looked down to his side, which had been leaking blood. 'He's injured and it's pretty bad too…'
The black-haired man felt the other's arms loosen up and slide from his form as Rubio turned to face the spirit fully. "Okay, let's do this."
"I will now awaken the powers that lay dormant within you. Are you ready to receive your powers?" Carbunkle asked the man if he was certain that he wanted the responsibility that he was about to bestow upon him.
Valentino sat atop of the busted casket and watched the events that were about to unfold before him. Suddenly, streams of fog-like matter swirled around him and a warm sensation overcame Rubio's body, causing the man to close his eyes as a strange, gentle wind caressed him and caused his hair and clothes to dance in the winds. Everything around him glowed in a pale green color as an intricate magic circle appeared below his feet and the streams of fog were sucked into his chest.
Then he fell to his knees on the ground and hung his head as the magic circle disappeared. Rubio looked up to see the spirit before him.
"If you need to summon me, simply call my name. Hurry and leave this forest before your souls are separated from your bodies," Carbunkle advised them. In his forest, time was of the essence and if they didn't leave soon, there would be no turning back.
Rubio arose slowly and stood in silence for a moment before reaching back and grabbing the other male's wrist, pulling him up from the casket. "Come on, let's get out of here and head back to everyone. They don't even know that I'm gone." He told the assassin as they both ran through the forest as quickly as they could.
The experiment glanced at Rubio with slight question in his blood red eyes. "You came here alone?"
"Well, they wanted to wait until tomorrow but I couldn't wait. I wasn't about to let you die. If we would have waited, then you might not be alive, not that you care. You wanted to be dead when we came and got you. You would have liked that, you psycho," Rubio glared as the two kept pace with each other.
"Thank you…" Valentino closed his eyes and tilted his head downward as his long, black, messy hair waved in the wind.
"Huh?" Rubio was confused by his statement. What was he being thanked for? Valentino was actually thanking him for something?
"For once, you are my hero," the black-haired assassin opened his blood red eyes and looked at the silver-haired man just as emotionlessly as he always had.
The ex-terrorist smiled a little and closed his eyes. "Let's go home."
Zidane, Aeris and Bosnia sat on the floor of Ryouzonia's old home. It was quiet and empty without the elder around and the group missed her calming presence. Aeris held a small, white tea cup with both hands and gazed down into the swirling blackened liquid with a crestfallen expression on her face.
After a few moments of silence, she finally spoke, "Zidane, it's been a while."
"Hell yeah it has," the bald man puffed gingerly on his cigarette. "How have you been?"
"Missing you," Aeris slowly looked up to him. Being there killed her, and knowing that he was with her, killed her even more. Nonetheless, she would endure, no matter what the obstacles were and no matter who stood in her way. Aeris was a pirate after all.
Zidane blinked a little, astounded that the pirate had him on her mind so much. "You've been thinking about me this whole time?"
"Yes," the black-haired pirate closed her eyes.
"She has," Bosnia backed up her captain. "She wondered about you all the time when she was on board the Night Wind."
The scar-faced man looked to Aeris, who averted her eyes to the tea once again. "So…you came here with Ionna." It was now or never. Aeris figured that she might as well bring up the subject now and the pain would be less late.
"We've been together a while," Zidane replied. It was just the answer that she thought she'd hear.
"Oh…" The pirate replied sadly.
"Why? Does she bother you?"
"No, not at all," It was the truth; Ionna didn't bother her at all. It was who she was with that bothered her.
"You know, the two of you look just alike in a lot of ways. Almost like twins." That was a poor subject for conversation matter, but at the same time, she knew Zidane just couldn't keep his mouth shut and spoke his mind, no matter who it hurt.
"I don't want to look like her," Aeris muttered lowly with slight look of irritation on her face.
"Well, there are obvious differences but you both wear dark make-up and have long, black hair and pale skin. You both have beautiful eyes as well," Zidane explained.
"She's far better…obviously…" She did have him, the one object that the captain desired.
"Don't say that capt'n!" Bosnia blurted out as she looked worried. "You're the best to me!"
"Then why do those I love, leave me for another?" Aeris shot coldly.
"You obviously mean me, right?" Zidane had done more then got the hint. Aeris was hurt and it was because of his relationship in the past with Ionna that made her that way. Bosnia looked to him in question. The mint-haired girl was confused at the whole situation but wanted to be as helpful as she could. The bald man knew that he would have to do some explaining to the young girl as well. "Ionna and I broke up a long time ago. She decided that we should just be friends."
"You still love her, don't you?" The question was a dreaded and sad one. In a way, Aeris didn't want to know the answer, but a small light in her had hope.
"Nope, not at all. These feelings are gone. I'm single and free."
"What?" Aeris raised her head in question as her eyes widened. Could she truly be hearing what she thought she was? It sounded convincing enough to her, anyway.
"I plan to stay that way for a while. You can still try if you haven't given up on me. I can tell you haven't," Zidane looked into the woman's purple eyes, still filled with the pain of love. Aeris still loved him, and there wasn't a doubt in his mind that she wouldn't still try. In some ways, he still wanted her to and in others; the man wished that she'd give up. "I'm willing to give you a try, Aeris. You've always been there for me. I like you too…to be truthful. I liked you more then I liked Ionna but I couldn't bear to cheat on her, besides…" The scar-faced man looked over to Vincent, who had been talking to Agata and lamely hitting on her. "She likes someone else now. I just don't want to break anyone's heart if I die. I've had to watch kid's parents die as well as other's spouses. It seems like it would be far too sad to leave like that. I drug myself into this mess and I'll get myself out, even if it means going down alone."
"That's a very honorable thing of you…and kind," Zidane was still the same person that he'd always been. That quality in him was one of the many reasons that she loved him so deeply and would forever be faithful in loving him and only him.
"I'm not no kind. I just tell it like it is," the scar-faced man replied simply.
"Sorry if I got kidnapped. I probably made everyone worry," Aeris' apology was low.
"It's okay, you couldn't help it."
"If I only would have-" The pirate began but was cut off by Zidane's words of wisdom.
"Spare it. People always say stuff like that and the fact of the matter is that you didn't. You're only human and you can't expect to fly through life on would haves. So don't start beating yourself up. Just learn from your mistakes." This gave Aeris a good dose of medicine. She knew that he was right. The pirate did like to hang onto the pain and beat herself up mercilessly for mistakes that she had made in the past that endangered her crew, even if they were not her fault.
Sari walked up to the three and made herself known. "Can I ask you a question, Captain Aeris?"
"What is it?" Aeris responded and looked to the girl in question.
Sari's gaze hit the floor as she looked a little downtrodden and held her bicep with her left hand. "When you were there, were there any people from the village there?"
"There was a woman there from the village but they executed her," the pirate replied.
It was semi-hopeful for the girl, so she continued to ask questions. "Did she have the same color hair as me?"
"Yes and she said something about seeing a girl named Sari."
"That's me…" Sari sniffled as her green-blue bangs covered her eyes and tears rolled down her cheeks. The once spunky girl's voice was shaky and filled with mourning for her parent's deaths. "So…they did kill them…This is just great. Just fucking great! I knew this would happen…I couldn't save them…after all that…after how far we've come…"
The one thing that she had been trying to so desperately accomplish ended in failure. Her parents were dead and she could never know the joy of seeing them or telling them how she felt one last time. Her parents were dead and gone, and there was nothing that the girl could do about it.
'Sari…'Hisamichi thought to himself as he witnessed the bad news and hung his head. The red-head wanted to go and comfort the girl but he was very shy. The boy had to fight his feelings constantly and normally ended up giving in to his unsure objectives.
"Now Valentino's gone and who knows what else," Sari muttered as he placed a hand to her forehead signifying her high stress level.
"Rubio is gone too," Zidane informed.
"We have to worry about someone named Carfunkle."
"I don't give a flip what its name is."
"Damn…This is bad."
"Do you not want to adventure with us anymore?" Bosnia knew that the sole reason Sari even traveled with them was to find out if Ibuki had her parent's captive and whether or not they were even alive. Now that she had found out her answer, she might not want to adventure with them the rest of the way and that worried Bosnia.
Sari balled her hands into fists and looked at the girl with determination and anger blazing in her eyes. "I do want to keep on. Are you crazy? I have to kill those bastards who murdered my parents…They'll pay for this."
"It's their fault that my brother is dead too," Yaritza spoke up strongly as she held up a fist. "This time, it's personal."
"Sari…" The spunky girl heard Hisamichi speak She turned and asked him 'what' as she was swiftly pulled into his chest and hugged tightly. The red head had finally swallowed his fears and decided to actively comfort the girl. "I'm sorry that everything's so hard right now. It seems like it won't get better much, does it?"
"I hate this," Sari's voice cracked once again as the tears resurfaced and the girl turned, crying into Hisamichi's chest.
"We've got each other, you know. That makes us like our own family," the ninja tried to chide her. Now that he had swallowed those shy feelings, it was his turn to be strong.
"That doesn't mean that I don't miss my real family," Sari replied.
"We'll get through this together. Don't worry," he smiled. "You'll be fine."
Sari looked up at him and gave him an unsure smile. The most she could do was smile for the one person who was trying to cheer her up and comfort her. "Of course I will. I'm tough."
"See? That's the Sari I know!"
'Too bad I have to fake it to get her to come out,'the aqua-haired girl thought to herself. Sari knew that it was wrong but she didn't want Hisamichi to worry.
Valentino and Rubio stood slightly behind Hisamichi with saddened expressions that were directed away from the group. Both of them knew that they would catch hell for being so risky and jumping to conclusions. Rubio had hoped to show them wrong by saving Valentino but he knew that someonewould complain. They always did. Valentino, on the other hand, was too ashamed to look anyone in the eye. He was nothing but an abomination and he definitely wasn't worthy of associating with anyone in his team.
"You're back," Hisamichi made their presence known as he glanced over his shoulder at the two.
Yaritza placed her hands on her hips and looked irritated. "Yeah, you left us."
"You bastard! Why didn't you wait? We could have gone to see Carfunkle!" Sari griped. Rubio needed a good griping session. It had been a while since she'd given him one and it was great stress relief. Not to mention the fact that she really wanted to see Carbunkle.
"Carbunkle," Zidane corrected her again.
"I had to do this alone," Rubio replied. It was much more to him and his honor, as well as his own feelings towards the assassin then they could ever imagine.
"I'm sorry," Valentino closed his eyes. He knew that he was defeated from the beginning.
Suddenly, he was pulled forward by the part of his cape that buckled underneath his chin. The man's eyes widened slightly as his gaze went to an angry Sari face. "You'd better be. It's your fault that we're mad! If you hadn't been locked in that casket then we wouldn't be like this!"
The assassin looked down sadly, silent.
"Fine time to be silent," the girl snapped.
"You're not going to ask if he's okay?" Rubio saw why he should get griped out, but Valentino could have been hurt. It was only curious to ask of his condition before everyone started chewing them out.
"He's breathing and he's here, so why ask?" That was enough to Sari.
"You-" Rubio glared before he was cut off by Valentino. He was about to give the girl a piece of his mind.
"Enough, it's my fault and I know it. So I have nothing to say," the assassin explained. "Nothing would make it better, even if I did."
"You're okay…" Ionna walked into the room with a hand to her chest and relieved look on her face.
"Yes, I'm fine," her brother told her.
"I didn't know that they did that to you, Valentino," Zidane decided to change subjects. It wasn't much better of a subject but it was a different one, nonetheless.
"You were an experiment too…" Loreli spoke up as well, trying to help Zidane out.
"It's a part of me that I would rather have hidden," Valentino was ashamed of whom he really was. It was definitely a secret that should have stayed one. It was no one's business and just another concern. The assassin hated having people concerned at his condition.
It only reminded him of what an outsider he truly was.
"Well, Shigeki is a bastard like that," the scar-faced man stuck his cigarette back in his mouth, closed his eyes and folded his large arms across his broad chest.
"How long will you stay like that?" Udo knew all too well of the side-affects and time periods of transformations like those. Each one was different and each experiment had its own consequences.
"Until the injection wears off," Valentino noted.
"You were stronger in this form, so why did you hide it?" Agata asked. It would have been a great method to defeat their earlier enemies instead of putting everyone through so much danger. There was a huge strength benefit from it, so what was the big deal? To her, it seemed more helpful the hurtful.
"Because I am a monster," the black-haired assassin told her as he sighed and averted his eyes.
"I thought it was cool," Vincent finally spoke up, trying to help cheer Valentino up.
"You're not ugly, so who cares if you have one wing and claws?" Sari told him. "You still look good."
"I'm different then other people."
"I think you speak in majority on that. No one here is what I'd call normal," Agata told him. They were no less strange then he was, in theory.
"Even you, Agata?" The bounty hunter looked towards the sergeant in question. Agata seemed to be the most normal person out of the whole group. Why would she say something like that?
"We all have our secrets and just because Valentino's has been brought out doesn't mean that's all he's been hiding," the white-haired woman stated.
"That was very incriminating of you," Rubio looked to the woman. She had some audacity to call Valentino out on something like that when even now, she was acting suspicious.
"Especially when no one knows anything about you," Udo stated a crippling fact of her character.
"They are right," Vincent looked as if the idea had just hit him before he turned to Agata. "You never talk about yourself, Agata."
"You'll find out, soon enough."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Yaritza wondered why everything was such a big secret. At a time like this, with so many unknown terrorists around, it was not a time for her to cause suspicion.
"Sounds suspicious to me," Sari stated. Besides, they could all talk to each other freely and most of them did. Agata had not once told anyone anything personal about herself.
"It would hardly be fair to discriminate against me and not be angry with Valentino," Agata pointed out. If the blame was to be on anyone, then it was to be shared amongst the members of the group for all hiding their own secrets. Her previous point still stood.
"She has a point," when he thought about it, it made perfect since to Vincent. Valentino was as much to blame as anyone else. They all shared blame if they were going to hide things from each other.
"Of course you'd think that," Ionna shot sarcastically. It seemed like something the white-haired sergeant would try. She wasn't going to shift the blame to her twin brother this time and Vincent was on her side, as always.
"Huh?" The bounty hunter looked confused.
"You always defend her. Even if she really waswrong, you'd still defend her." The very concept made Ionna sick. It was disgusting how attracted he was to Agata to not see that she was wrong when everyone else could see through her like cellophane.
"I would not."
"I'm going to another room. I'm tired," Rubio dismissed himself as he walked out of the room. He didn't care about their fight, nor did he really want to hear it. Valentino walked over and sat down on the ground, silent.
"So, where do we go from here?" Sari asked, shifting the topic to their next plan.
"We need to rest well. We'll take two days off," Valentino told the group.
"Why?" The spunky girl was a little confused. Why two days? What kind of plan was he hatching in that brain of his?
"Because we're going straight to Ibuki's, so prepare yourselves. Everything comes down to the wire now," the assassin gave everyone a serious look before he continued. The upcoming words would soon affect everyone as soon as they were uttered. "This is what we came all this way to accomplish."
…To Be Continued…
A/N: Sorry to cut it off there but that's the end of that chapter! Sorry that it took me so long to update, this is the last chapter I have out that written, so I'm going to have write another one for next month. See you then!