"Hey Rissa. Hey Rissa. Hey Rissa. Hey Rissa. Hey Rissa. Hey–"
"Jet, I swear I'm going to punch you in the face one of these days," I growled, slamming my book shut. I'd been on such an intense chapter, too. "What do you want?"
He grinned at me, his crimson eyes dancing. "Nothing, I just wanted to say hi."
"I hate you," I muttered, opening my book again as he frolicked away. Quickly, I found the paragraph I had been on. The main character had to choose whether to sacrifice her little brother, or save the man she'd fallen in love with. Urgently, I turned the page. Who would she choose?
"And the passengers are here and ready to board, so you need to go do your job," said Jet, his head suddenly right next to mine.
I jumped in surprise, dropping my book which Jet caught easily, marking my page with his finger. "Go on, go on," he encouraged, shooing at me with his hand.
Muttering a long string of ways I could murder him, I walked back to the first car. I smiled when I saw Via had already changed it to a passenger car. At least someone was being nice today.
"Thanks, Via," I whispered as the doors shuddered open. One by one, the passengers filed onto the train.
"Welcome aboard the Leviathan. Tickets, please," I said, a fake smile plastered over my face.
With a grumble, the passengers handed me their tickets. The group was smaller this time, with less than a dozen passengers this time. I was about to have Via close the doors when I saw one last passenger being escorted onto the train. The passenger was short, with a black hood pulled over his face. Heavy shackles were around his ankles and wrists, keeping him tightly bound. The two lesser demon guards held him by the shoulders.
"Is the maximum security car available?" one of the guards asked, tightening his grip on the prisoner's shoulder as he handed me the ticket with his other hand.
"Yes, right this way," I said quickly, leading them to the back of the first car.
"Come on, Via, you heard them. We need a security car," I murmured, running my hand along the door. "Come on, buddy, be good today, please."
"Ma'am, is everything alright?" asked the other guard. His face was wary, as if he thought I might start spouting nonsense at any moment. I have no idea why he would think that. None at all.
Before I got the chance to answer, I felt the door pulse beneath my hand. But even then, it didn't open. Instead, I heard the hiss of its locking mechanism unlocking. After a tense minute, the door was silent and fully unlocked. With a murmured thanks, I opened the door, leading the guards and the prisoner back into the security car.
The car had only one chair that had several restraints built tightly into it. The guards sat the small prisoner down, chaining him tightly to the chair. But when they removed his hood to clasp a shackle around his thin neck, I flinched in surprise.
The prisoner was only a child. He looked no older than eight, with curly blond hair framing his pale face. He stared up at me with wide, unblinking blue eyes, then the hood was drawn over his face again.
"Is this some sort of mistake?" I asked, looking from one guard to the other. "He's only a child, why is he in a maximum security car?"
"He may be young, but he's a powerful demon. We're not taking any chances. Check the ticket if you don't believe me," said the first guard, peering at me with concerned violet eyes.
For the first time, I glanced at the ticket in my hand. 'Name - Claude Raimes. Species - UNKNOWN Demon. Disembark - Gate 1-S. Additional note - Prisoner is capable of great violence, keep in maximum security. PRIORITY CASE.'
"Is your name Claude Raimes?" I asked, looking at the prisoner.
"Yes," he answered, his high-pitched voice muffled by the hood.
"Ma'am, we should be going, and so should you," said the second guard, who was still looking at me as if I was crazy. "He's a priority case, so you should head immediately to gate 1-S. We don't want any trouble to break out on the way."
"Of course. Thank you," I said as we exited the maximum security car. I couldn't help glancing back as the doors shut with a hiss, locking themselves tightly. The two guards exited the train, and I returned to the engineer's workplace.
Jet barely glanced up when I walked in. Instead, his eyes were glued to my novel, which he still held in his hand. He spun his conductor's hat around his other hand. "I can't believe she allowed her own brother to die, just to save this guy she'd known for less than a year! Seriously, who would ditch their own family member for him? I mean, yeah, she said she's in love with him, and her brother would've died from whatever disease he had anyway, but still... Writers these days. I can't believe this. What did you think of it, Rissa?"
"I wasn't there yet," I said, not even bothering to snatch the novel from Jet's outstretched hand.
"Oh, sorry," he said quickly. "Just forget I said anything, alright?" He paused, taking in my face. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," I said, frowning. "Why?"
"I don't know," he said with a shrug. "Normally you'd be making death threats by now."
I laughed quietly, snatching his twirling hat off his finger. "We're ready to get going. We have a priority case this time, so we're heading to gate 1-S first this time. Got it, Via?" I asked, tapping lightly on the train's wall.
"You heard the lady. Let's get a move on," said Jet. As usual, at his words, the train began to lumber forward, steadily picking up speed.
I couldn't get that prisoner's eyes out of my mind. He had looked so frightened, so sad. He was only a child, and yet he would have to spend the rest of his life in a torturous prison. Many condemned prisoners would choose execution over being in 1-S. And now I would have to send a child there.
"Rissa, are you sure everything is okay?" Jet asked.
"I told you already, I'm fine," I said, glancing over at where he lounged in his favorite chair. "Why do you keep asking me that?"
He sighed, rolling his scarlet eyes. "I don't know, maybe because you've been staring at the emblem on my hat for the past minutes without speaking a single word. Or maybe because your facial expression keeps alternating between 'about to cry' and 'going to throw sharp objects at unsuspecting people.' Maybe that's why."
I threw his hat at him, my voice growing rough. "Or maybe I act that way because I know that there's a creepy white-haired demon who's been staring at me for the past few minutes, gauging my facial expressions. Ever thought of that?"
"Well, it's mildly entertaining. You make the strangest expressions when you're thinking about something. If I didn't know better, I'd think you were insane," he said with a shrug, a grin tugging at the corner of his mouth. He tossed me my book and I barely caught it. "Besides, there isn't much else to look at around here."
"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked, narrowing my eyes at him. I hefted my book in my hand, preparing to throw it at him in case he answered with something ridiculous.
"Look, I didn't mean it that way," he said, raising his hands defensively. "Just tell me what's been bothering you. Or don't, it really doesn't matter that much to me. I mean, I don't really care all that much," he added hastily.
I glanced away from him, sighing in frustration. He could just be so stupid sometimes. "The S-class prisoner is just a kid. He's tiny, and he just looked so scared and sad. This has to be a mix up somehow. How could a child commit a horrendous enough crime to warrant being shipped to gate 1-S? It just isn't sitting right with me."
"Rissa," sighed Jet, his voice getting a serious tone for once. His usual smile was gone as he pulled his revolver form his holster and began to polish it methodically. "He's not just a child. He's a demon. There's no guessing what he's capable of. Worrying about this won't get you anywhere, you'll just stress yourself out. Now just relax. I'll handle unloading him, if it's bothering you that much."
"I just can't get his face out of my head!" I growled, cutting of Jet. "What if he's not the person who did these crimes. We could be sending him away for crimes that he didn't do."
"What are the odds of that happening? Seriously, think about it."
"It happened to me," I said quietly, glaring at Jet.
He sighed, slipping his gun back into his holster. For a moment, he was silent as he thought about what to say. "Look, Rissa, I know that it happened to you. But there haven't been any cases of this magnitude that they'd make such a foolish mistake on. Just try not to think about him."
"Who's to say it didn't happen again. There's a possibility he's innocent, so I'm going to do my best to figure out if he is or isn't. You can stay out of it, though," I said quietly, straightening up from where I'd been leaning against the wall.
Jet sighed, shaking his head. But he didn't do anything to stop me as I walked back into the main car.
I strode through the car, ignoring the curious glances of the passengers. I went to the back, and tried to open the doors to the maximum security car. They wouldn't budge.
"Come on, Via, I need to get back there," I muttered, pressing my weight against the door. "Via, please," I said, tugging on it again. Still, it wouldn't move an inch.
I slammed my fist against the door and heard Via's angry hiss in reply. Yet still, the train wouldn't open the door.
"Curse you, Via, you idiotic train," I growled, ignoring the concerned stares of the passengers.
"Don't blame Via, I'm the one who told him not to let you in," murmured Jet, who had snuck up on me once again.
I wheeled on him, my green eyes blazing. "Just let me do this. It doesn't affect you at all. If I get hurt, it's my problem. I just want to get this sorted out so it won't bother me for the rest of my existence. Now let me in. Please," I added as an afterthought.
He sighed. "I wish you wouldn't do this, but I guess I can understand why you feel so strongly about this. Do you want me to go with you?"
"No, I'll be fine. It'll be better if someone stays out here," I said, a smile slowly spreading across my face. "Thanks, Jet."
"Yeah, whatever," he said, pressing his hand to the door. I heard the door begin to hiss as the complex locking mechanism began to unlock. Jet still looked upset, and he reached for his revolver restlessly as we waited for the door to open. "Be careful, alright? I don't want to lose my only engineer."
"Yeah, I know, then you'll actually have to work. I'll be back in a minute," I said, slipping into the security car once the door finished unlocking. The door closed and locked behind me.
"Are you doing alright back here?" I asked the hooded form.
"Yes," he answered, but I could hear an undercurrent of emotion in his voice.
"Hey, Claude, talk to me," I said, glancing down at the ticket I held in my hand as I leaned against the wall, staying close by the door just in case something went wrong.
"What do you need?" he asked quietly.
"Is this true? Are you really an S-class criminal? If this is a mix-up, you can tell me. I might be able to get someone to reexamine what happened, the crimes they say you committed."
He shook his hooded head as much as he could with the heavy shackle around his neck. "I can't help you, I'm sorry."
"Hey, kiddo, it's okay, you can talk to me," I encouraged, dropping down so my voice would be at his level.
"It's not that I don't want to help you, or myself," he stated, his voice wavering. "It's just... I don't remember the crimes they say I committed. But then, I don't remember anything about the days the crimes happened. I just know that I was found, surrounded by corpses that had been strangled to death. I couldn't defend myself in the demon court, since I have no memory of what happened. There's nothing I can do, other than accept my punishment."
"I can help you," I said urgently. "Don't say things like that. Maybe if Jet helps me, we can get in contact with someone who can look over what happened again. Don't give up, Claude. No one in their right mind would ever believe you strangled people. I mean, look at the size of you! I'll get you out of this mess, don't worry."
I heard him sniffle and begin to cry, although he desperately tried to hold on to his composure. For a few moments, he didn't make another sound, but the shaking of his shoulders gave him away.
"Hey, buddy, it's okay," I whispered, taking a step closer to him. Carefully, I pulled the hood from his head, pushing back his tousled blond curls. "Everything will be alright."
"I know. Thank you," he whispered, glancing up at me. His blue eyes were wide and a last tear trickled down his cheek. But slowly, a smile spread across his face.
At once, every muscle in my body seemed to tense. I took a step back against my will. My legs were moving on their own. I couldn't control my own body.
I tried to move my mouth, I tried to call for help, but all that came out was a muffled grunt. Jet wouldn't be able to hear me. I was in serious danger now.
I couldn't tear my eyes away from the child's icy gaze. Slowly, my hands moved up to my own throat, gripping the tender skin there. Slowly, they began to tighten, choking me so that I couldn't breathe.
I tried to struggle, I tried to get my hands to release their death grip on my neck, but everything I did was in vain. The child's frigid eyes would be the last thing I saw.
Suddenly, the train shuddered violently, almost sending me toppling to the ground. At first, I thought the boy was controlling the Leviathan, but then I realized what had really happened. Jet might not be able to see my plight, but Via could. Via was trying to warn Jet that something was wrong. The train shuddered again, and I heard its engines growl.
My vision was blurring at the edges as my jaw flopped uselessly. I tried to breathe, tried to scream, but I could do neither. I would die, choked to death by my own hands.
"Rissa? Rissa, what's going on in there? Answer me! Rissa!"
Jet's shout came from the other side of the door, and I could hear the thud of him throwing himself at the door, trying to force it open. The locking mechanism hissed, and I knew the door was beginning to unlock, but by the time it was fully unlocked, it would be too late.
Sounds started to blend together, but I still clearly heard a sound I would never forget. It sounded as if Via were being torn asunder by a huge clawed monster. Behind me, I heard the wall split open, and I felt Via shudder with pain. The boy's eyes narrowed in fury, but they never left mine.
"Rissa!" shouted Jet, running to my side. He grabbed at my hands, but even he couldn't get them to lose their tightening grip on my throat.
"What are you doing to her. Stop this or I swear I'll shoot you," Jet growled, and I could barely see him press the barrel of his revolver to the boy's temple.
The boy didn't flinch at Jet's words. He just stared into my eyes as the grip on my neck grew tighter and tighter. "Shoot me, and I assure you that she'll die as well," he said, with a strange hissing voice.
"What are you doing to her? Answer me," snarled Jet, and his fist cracked across the boy's face, sending his head snapping to the side.
For a split second, my hands relaxed and I fell to the ground. The boy had turned his attention to Jet now. He had him locked in that icy gaze. Before I could stagger to my feet, Jet had his gun pointed at me. His eyes looked pained and afraid, and I knew that he had no control over what he was doing.
"Stop it," I shrieked at the boy, the demon. "Don't do this! I only wanted to help you. Please, Claude."
He turned his attention to me again, his eyes leaving Jet's for a split second. But it was enough. I grabbed the hood and yanked it over his eyes, then fell to the ground, gasping for breath.
Jet holstered his gun and swooped to my side, easily hoisting me into his arms. He dashed through the torn up wall and carried me into the engineer's room, where he laid me carefully on the floor.
"Rissa, talk to me. Can you hear me? Clarissa! Answer me!" Jet's voice was low and intense as he grasped me by the shoulders and shook me carefully.
I took a deep, gasping breath. "I'm sorry," I whispered in between gasps of breath.
Jet shook his head in relief as I slowly sat up, still catching my breath. "Are you going to be okay?" he asked, staring into my eyes intently.
I nodded, and he slid over so I could lean against his shoulder. "Thank you," I murmured, closing my eyes as I leaned against his warm shoulder.
Via slowed down, waking me from my near sleep. Jet got to his feet, looking down at me curiously. "Are you okay to get up?" he asked, his crimson eyes wide.
I nodded. "Yeah," I croaked, feeling pain shoot through my throat. Jet extended a hand and helped me to my feet.
"You don't have to come if you don't want to," he told me seriously.
"No, I'll be fine. Let's just get this over with," I muttered, walking out into the first train car.
When I saw the damage done to the divider between the cars, I could barely believe it. The walls were ripped apart as if someone had torn them apart with their bare hands.
"Did you do that?" I whispered to Jet as we stepped toward the carnage.
He laughed quietly. "No, I'm not quite that strong. That was all Via's doing. When he found out that you were in danger, he got my attention. Then when the door wouldn't unlock fast enough, he did this so I could get to you in time. He's the one you owe your life to, not me."
"Thanks, Via," I whispered, then went onto the maximum security car.
The child, no, the demon sat there in silence. "We've arrived. It's time for you to disembark," I said simply.
"Something happened again, didn't it," whispered the child. "My memory is all black again. I remember a lady with a kind voice coming in, and trying to help me. I remember crying, then it's all black. That means... I hurt someone..."
"No, you didn't. Everything is fine, don't worry about it," I said, feeling his words stab at my heart.
"Thank you for trying to help me," he said quietly, and I knew that he had seen through my lie. Carefully, Jet and I unshackled him, being careful not to dislodge the hood that covered his eyes. We both knew what would happen if we weren't careful. The second one of us would meet his eyes, we'd be under his control as he changed from an innocent boy to a fierce, pitiless demon.
We escorted him from the wrecked car and led him to the door. The door slid open with a hiss from Via, and I handed one of the waiting guards the boy's ticket.
"Make sure you leave his hood on at all times," muttered Jet, keeping his voice low as he explained the situation.
I heard the boy begin to cry again as the guards took him by the arms. "I'm sorry," he was whispering through the sobs that racked his tiny frame. I watched as the guards led him away. His voice rose and his whispers became shrieks and he fought against the guards, sobbing and trying to escape his waiting prison. With a shudder, Via began to roll forward. Soon, the boy was out of sight.
Tears began to stream down my face, and I fled to the engineer's room before the other passengers could see. I sunk to the floor, burying my head in my hands.
"I'm sorry," whispered Jet as he got up from his favorite chair. He knelt next to me and offered his handkerchief in a very gentlemanly way. I smiled through my tears and took it, but it went unused when he opened his arms and wrapped me in his warm embrace. I sobbed against his shoulder, my tears dotting the fabric of his black uniform.
"I'm sorry, Rissa," he murmured again as my sobs began to slow. "I should've known better."
"No, it's my fault," I whispered. "I should've realized what was going to happen. It doesn't make sense though. When he first arrived, I looked into his eyes, and nothing happened. Why didn't he hurt me then?"
"I don't think he ever wanted to hurt you," said Jet, looking up at the ceiling. "I think he's just too powerful for his own good, and he just can't control his demonic nature. There's nothing we could've done for him."
"I know," I whispered. "But why do I still feel so bad?"
He was about to answer when Via came to a stop again.
"I'll take care of the rest," whispered Jet. He tousled my hair affectionately and rose to his feet.
Via began to move forward again, and Jet returned to my side. I had stopped crying, and I met Jet's eyes with a small smile. "How's Via holding up?" I asked, concerned.
Jet shrugged. "He's in a bit of pain, but it's nothing that won't heal. I'm sure he's just glad that you're safe, just like I am."
"Thanks, guys," I said, wiping away one last tear. I yawned and curled up on my side, right there in the engineer's room.
"Hey, Rissa, don't you want a sleeper car? I'm sure Via wouldn't mind," whispered Jet as I began to drift off to sleep.
"No, this is fine," I said, listening to the rhythmic sound of Via's movement.
"Alright, if you say so," said Jet with a quiet laugh. I felt him drape his jacket over my shoulders.
"So you do have a nice side after all," I murmured as he tucked the warm fabric around me.
He laughed, but said nothing other a simple goodnight. Via grumbled and roared, and I knew that it was his way of saying goodnight. A smile crossed my face, despite all the sadness that had overtaken the day. "Goodnight, guys," I whispered as I fell asleep.
[A/N: Yay, another chapter! I'm not sure if this is entertaining to read or not, but I really enjoy writing about these three. Thanks for reading! ~DarkHawk]