Beat 5: Cloud 9

Welcome to Soal City! We have a variety of fun attractions to do throughout our city. We aim to cater to everyone's needs be it business, entertainment, or education. There's always something to do here in the Capital of Auroras.

A secondary voice came on, not as cheerful as the first.

"Soal city is split into 9 districts for ease of travel and location." A map of the city appeared as a hologram. With each indication, a light shined to show which district was being mentioned.

"The northern Ichipun district is home to dozens of markets and young residents. Be sure to stop at the historic Hitoshima Fountain for a lovely stroll through our natural garden."

"The central Nipun district is our corporate and downtown area. Here thousands of workers are doing their hardest to make sure every day in Soal City is a day to remember!"

"The southern Sanpun district is where creative minds and urban life collide. Sports are big in the Tolomuere stadium."

"The Northwestern Chisen district is a myriad of theme parks and entertainment. You'll never be bored while traversing the many roads of the Senten area."

"The Western Gosen district is Soal City's port and harbor bay. Not feeling up for the water, then take flight at the International Gosen Airport!"

"The Southwestern Rokusen district is a beautiful board walk of dreams. Come enjoy the many beaches, resorts and hot springs and lounge the whole day away!"

"The Southeastern Shichigo district is home to Soal City's largest community of night clubs and adult entertainment venues. Leave the kids at home and come have a good time, all night long."

"The eastern Hachigo district is the largest Industrial landmark in the entire world. From metal works to powering all of Soal City, the hard workers of the Hachigo district aim to please!"

"Lastly, the Northeastern Jungo district is the academic light of Soal City. Dozens of schools, museums, and libraries line the hills overlooking Soal City including the prestigious Ritazuchi High and Ivy League Olivoa University!"

Standing in front of the interactive map was a well-built man with spiky silver hair. He held his gray jacket slung over his shoulder. He wore a sleeveless gray vest and dark jeans. The man scratched his scalp and shook his head.

"So that's it, huh? She really did it." With a sigh, the man turned and began to walk down the street. He tossed a paper into the garbage. As the man walked away, the paper blew to its side. On it read Monster Beat Agency.

Sanpun District, Monster Beat Office…

The Monster Beat office was silent, save for the tick of a clock that sat in the waiting area and one other metronome. Yuna was laid out on the coach, a magazine over her face as she snored loudly. It was becoming a habit of hers to do absolutely nothing while the others were off at school. She wouldn't admit it, but she missed having the brats around all the time.

Bzzt. Yuna jumped up and looked around startled as the buzzer rang. She grumbled under her breath about being awoken from a wet dream, and trudged over to the door. Looking at the small screen, she didn't see anyone standing in front of the building.

"Damn pranks…" She mumbled, turning to resume her nap. However, a knock on the door to the office woke her completely. 'Who the hell?'

She made her whip appear and faced the door.

"Who are you? How did you get in here?"

There was no response. Then the lock on the door turned and the knob began to turn. Yuna's eyes widened. As the door slowly opened, she slung the whip forward…and was surprised to see it stopped between two fingers.

"Is that anyway to greet me, Yuna?"

Yuna's eyes dilated. "Wha…Van?!"

The man with silver hair released her whip and winked. "Been a while hasn't it?"

Several Minutes Later…

The pair had moved to Yuna's office after a short while. Yuna was caught in between shock, happiness, and worry. Van just sat in front of her, waiting for her to ask the questions that were sure to come.

"Wha…when?" She just couldn't put together a logical sentence. Van chuckled and crossed his leg.

"I undid it. It took a while, but I finally did. I didn't think you would actually do it though."

Yuna looked down sadly. She knew what he was talking about. "We had no choice, remember?"

"Hey, it's too soon to be talking about this depressing stuff. We've got some catching up to do!" He pulled a bottle of wine from his jacket. Yuna sighed but smirked anyway.

"Same old Van. Always one to prolong the important stuff." She stood and walked over to a large cabinet. She pulled out two wine glasses and handed them to Van.

"So, how's the business going?" Van asked as he handed her a cup of the red wine. She swirled it for a second before taking a sip.

"Do you even need to ask? We're still in this dump of an apartment as you can see. People just don't call about monsters like they used to."

"So where're the pups?"

"Left for school a while ago. They should be home within the hour." She sighed, remembering why she had been sleeping in the first place. Maybe a visitor every now and then wouldn't hurt. "What about you? Actually, never mind…"

Van just chuckled. "It's alright. I guess no matter what, we can't avoid this conversation, huh?"

"No, I suppose not."

Van sat his cup down and put a hand on Yuna's thigh. "You actually did it…did it haunt you that much?"

Yuna couldn't meet his eyes. She took another sip of her wine and wiped a stray tear away. "What else were we supposed to do? We were young and naïve."

Van nodded in agreement. "It's amazing that no one catches that mistake though. The city goes straight from the Hachigo district, district 8, to the Jungo district, district 10. But I guess that was the whole point."

"So what of it then? If you've unlocked it…"

"Why don't you come see for yourself? I unlocked it a few years ago."

Yuna's eyes widened. "A few years ago? What's happened then? Why didn't you come see me…?" She paused. "Why did you leave me alone?" Van scratched the back of his neck. Then he slowly wiped a tear away for Yuna, turning her face to look him in the eye.

"I didn't do it to scorn you. That's why I want you to come back with me, just so you can see it for yourself."

"But…it's my fault in the first place! They'll hate me…they'll kill me."

"They won't. I promise you." Van stood up, cupping Yuna's face. She looked up into his green eyes in wonder. "District 9 is completely different from what you remember."

Jungo District, Ritazuchi High…

School had resumed, albeit, with more security being placed throughout the building. Ms. Miyano hadn't returned to school, being hospitalized regardless of how she said everything was fine. Shin, Asaki, Saiya, Miyuki, and Ayane all sat on top of the school during lunch. For the most part, everything seemed as if it had returned to normal, however a small strain of tension seemed to linger over the group.

"What do you guys think happened to Ms. Miyano?" Saiya asked, sitting next to Asaki. Asaki's arm was draped over the girl's shoulder as she leaned into him.

"Who knows." Miyuki said with a shrug, though her eyes gazed at Shin for a split second. Ayane was looking down at the ground.

"So what was up with you guys a few days ago? Ayane?" When she didn't get a response she snapped her fingers. "Ayane?"

"Huh, what?" She jumped. "What happened?"

"Geez, did you confess or not?" Saiya stated loudly, making Asaki laugh and Miyuki turn bright red.

"Confess what?" Miyuki growled. Saiya had covered her mouth, not intending to blurt that out loud.

"I want in." Ayane said seriously, facing Shin. Shin sighed and went back to drawing in his sketch pad. Asaki looked over and saw that it was the Snow Fairy from the night before.

"In on what?" Saiya asked.

"On Monster Bea-" She suddenly felt a hand wrapped around her mouth, courtesy of Miyuki. Saiya rose an eyebrow in confusion as Asaki continued to roll about laughing. Shin smacked him with his sketchpad.

"Wait, what's that? What are you guys not telling me?" Saiya pouted, pulling away from Asaki. With a sigh, Asaki pulled out a cigarette.

"We're starting a band and music club and we're calling it Monster Beat."

Miyuki looked at him wide eyed, amazed that he had come up with a legitimate cover up.

"What? Really? And you weren't going to let me in on it? You suck! What type of friends are you?" She pouted and snatched the cigarette from Asaki, taking a hit before flicking it away.

"You owe me for that you know." He called while turning her to face him. She blushed and rubbed her neck.

"Sorry…got caught in the moment." She said silently before she kissed him gently.

"Get a room." Miyuki whined. Ayane chuckled slightly, though she noticed that Shin was looking at her sternly. She frowned and wondered what the matter was.

"Come with me for a second." He said as if reading her mind. She nodded and stood to follow him to the other side of the rooftop.

Once he was sure the others weren't listening, he turned towards Ayane with a serious glare. "You can't tell anyone about us, not even Saiya."

"But she's my best friend! I can't keep something like this from her!" Ayane argued, however, the glare Shin was giving her made her swallow.

"You can and you will. If you tell her about us, she becomes more of a liability to our cause. We don't have time to watch over children." With that, Shin turned to walk back over to the others. Before he could take two steps, Ayane caught his shirt sleeve.

"Wait…" Her gaze was down, hiding her eyes from view. "What about my mom? Will she be in danger now?"

"No. As long as you don't talk about us, then everything will continue just as it is now."

For a second, she could've sworn that Shin had a smirk on his face. But maybe it was just her imagination. She shook the thought away before walking back over to the group. Shin wouldn't lie to her…would he?

After School…

"Yo, me and Saiya are gonna hit the movies. We'll catch up with you guys later." Asaki called as he and Saiya walked away from the group arm in arm. The others bid them farewell before turning to head to the Monster Beat office.

"So…" Miyuki started, glancing between Shin and Ayane. "What about you two?" She asked with a bit of annoyance in her voice. Ayane blushed, knowing what she was implying.

"Stop it. There's nothing going on between me and Shin. I just want to join Monster Beat, is all."

"So you can use your sixth sense, huh. We haven't had anyone new in a while so maybe this is a good thing."

Ayane grew a tick mark. "What do you mean maybe?" Miyuki chuckled at her friend.

"Just joking! Lighten up a bit will ya, I can cut the tension in the air with my finger." She waved her finger with a bit of frost to show her point.

The two gazed up at Shin. The brown haired teen was walking silently alongside them towards the train station.

"What about you Shin? You're the one who wanted her to join right?"

"It doesn't matter." He answered bluntly. Ayane frowned. She had thought that they were becoming closer friends, but apparently not.

"Shin, I understand you want to keep the whole brooding dark hero thing going, but you should really be more considerate to other people's feelings." Miyuki scolded Shin for the first time. She didn't want to see Ayane get hurt by petty things that Shin said. Shin himself stopped walking when Miyuki said that, putting a hand on his head in frustration.

Shin looked up at the sky for a moment before turning his gaze to Ayane. He looked in her eyes for several seconds, gaining a confused blush from the crystal haired girl. He smiled when he realized that he really had wanted her to join Monster Beat. Outside of Yuna, Ayane would be the first human partner he had since Miyuki and Asaki were half monsters. Though he would never admit any of it, he valued them all as partners and looked forward to working with Ayane.

"Fine. I'm glad that you will be working with us Ayane. But try to be a bit more feminine. Miyuki's tomboyish enough for the both of you."

Ayane was about to thank Shin until he suddenly smirked and began to run. A dark aura made itself known behind her and she turned to see Miyuki with ice covering her arms and her hair fluttering though there was little wind blowing.


Border of District 2 and 5…

Darkness bathed the small alleyway in shadows. Two figures silently, but quickly traversed the winding pathway into the depths of darkness, the only sound being the wind blowing past them. Once at a dead end, the figures stopped and the taller one stepped forward.

"Yuna. Are you ready?" Van asked, holding his hand out towards the woman. Yuna nodded and took his hand. Van smiled and touched the brick wall. An intricate array of seals began to appear on the stone wall. It spread until it covered the entire thing and the bricks began to fold in towards the center. Once all the bricks had collapsed into nothing, a dark passageway sat before Yuna and Van. Yuna's heart beat loudly in her chest as she breathed in the cold air that came rushing from the wall. It was fresh air, not the stale air of the airport and city.

Van pulled Yuna forward into the darkness and as soon as they were through, they appeared in a beautiful residential area, the sun shining brightly above head. It seemed more like a suburbia with the tallest building being only 5 stories high. The streets were all dirt, the roads seeming to have eroded with time and trees grew throughout the buildings making the area look more like a forest town than anything. If one looked upwards, however, they could see the construct of a large metal tower surrounding the entire area, spread wide enough to see the entire sky as it was incomplete.

"Van...where are we? Wha-"

Before she could continue to ask questions, Van put a finger to her lips. He smiled at her and motioned towards everything around him. "This is still District 9. We're just doing a few...renovations. The sky was my doing though."

"Stop being so pig headed Van." The voice of a female spoke out as a woman approached the two. She had on a long purple dress with long red hair. A beautiful necklace was nestled between her two large breast and she was pushing along a man in a wheel chair. The man had a head full of gray hair and wore a purple suit with a red tie, complementing the lady behind him perfectly.

"Ouch, you wound me Rose!" Van responded, holding his chest in mock pain. Then he gave a half salute to the man in the wheel chair. "What's up Doc?"

Yuna's eyes watered as she laid eyes on the two. This was a reunion. The original Monster Beat Agency was back together again. "Rose...Juno...It's been so long!"

"13 years actually." Van said, getting a scowl from the woman known as Rose.

Yuna moved forward on shaky legs. She almost collapsed right in front of Juno, the man in the wheel chair. She fell to her knees and took the mans hands into her own. The man only smiled sadly.

"Come now, child, you've no reason to shed tears here. This is a joyous moment, is it not?" His voice was tired, as if there were nothing more for him to say for himself and only for others. Rose moved around the wheel chair and pulled Yuna up before embracing her in a hug.

"We've missed you. I thought we'd never see you again." She whispered into Yuna's ear.

Yuna couldn't reply and it was getting harder and harder to hold in her tears. She took a moment to calm herself down, remembering all the good times she had had with her fellow Monster Hunters and the original hunter, Juno. But she also remembered the reason why they were separated in the first place.

"Juno...Rose...I'm sorry..." Yuna was saying with her head down. Rose put a finger under her chin and made her look up. She smiled at her long time friend and shook her head.

"You've got nothing to apologize for. You and Van did what you thought was best, and in the end saved a lot of people's lives. Stop dwelling on the past Yuna."

Juno nodded at Rose's words and looked at Van. Van was smiling to himself, letting the others catch up as he had already done. After a while, Juno cleared his throat.

"As lovely as it is to see you Yuna, we should continue our conversation back at home. I'm sure there are others who would be delighted to see you as well."

Yuna was a bit nervous about seeing the others, but Van put a reassuring hand on her back. His eyes said that everything would be fine and for the life of her she wanted to believe him. Calming down a bit, she began to follow the others through a path that wound through the trees and came out onto the main street of the new District 9. As she had seen before, it was like a suburbia but with trees growing a lot higher than the houses, making it look like a forest. Once they were at the main street, Yuna saw lots of people going about their lives normally. Cars drove by, children played in small fields and it felt like a happy place.

The group continued to walk through the district until they reached a large gate. Beyond the gate, Yuna could see a small mansion. She remembered it being the place where all of her problems had come to a grinding halt, along with her past. Rose unlocked the gate and pushed Juno through. When Van took a step but noticed Yuna hesitating, he grabbed one of her hands within his own. He smiled at her. She didn't understand why his smiles were so infectious, but she couldn't help but smile back.

Once they had entered the mansion and were seated in a spacious living room area, Rose went to prepare drinks for everyone. Yuna's gaze darted everywhere in the room, noticing lots of old trinkets she remembered but lots of new things as well. She supposed that things couldn't always stay the complete same. Looking at her old friends made that clear. They hadn't seen each other since they were teenagers and now here they were completely grown up.

"YUNA!" The voice of several children drew her attention. A small group of children rounded the corner from a hall and jumped right onto Yuna.

"Wha? What is this?" Yuna called, smiling and laughing with the children. There were four of them, but she hadn't met any of them before. They were far too young.

"The new and upcoming generation Yuna. They're half monsters." Juno explained, making Yuna's eyes widen.

"All of them?" She asked. Juno merely nodded.

"We've heard a lot about you from auntie Rose, Miss Yuna!" A little girl with bright orange hair called.

"Is it true you beat a hundred monsters with a belt wearing a maid outfit?" A little boy who had bright green eyes and short blonde hair asked. The other adult's sweat dropped, while Yuna and Rose blushed.

"...Rose...why did you tell them THAT story?" Yuna's fist shook as Rose suddenly decided that the ground was more interesting to talk to.

The children all gasped in awe though. "So it's true? You're amazing Miss Yuna!"

"Alright now children, run along. We have much to discuss." Juno motioned the children to leave like an old grandfather. The children all groaned but did as told anyway, running out into the front to enjoy the day.

Yuna looked after them with tears in her eyes. They hadn't been able to see real daylight. They were trapped here, in the sealed district 9, and it was all because of her.

"I see it in your eyes, Yuna. This is not your fault. You did what was necessary and nothing more." Juno spoke with the same fatherly authority that Yuna remembered. It made her smile and feel as if she were truly with family again.

Rose sat next to Yuna, setting the drinks down on the table at the center of the group. She hugged Yuna again. "Glad to have you back."

"Alright already! Enough of all the doom and gloom! How do you like the tea Yuna?" Van asked when he noticed Yuna sipping it slowly, tears still lingering in her gaze.

"It...taste kind of funny actually..." As soon as the words left her mouth, Yuna's eyes widened. "Wait..."

"Sorry Yuna, sleep powder is the most non violent way we could think of to knock you out." Rose said sheepishly.

Yuna stood abruptly but Van put a hand on her shoulder, preventing her from going anywhere. "Slow down, it'll take effect in a few seconds."

"Why...why didn't you at least put it in a sandwich?" She asked before falling asleep. Rose smiled sadly.

"She's the same Yuna as before." Juno nodded before turning his wheel chair around, going deeper into the mansion.

"Bring her to the lab. Rose, don't do anything rash."

Van picked up Yuna bridle style with a sad expression as well. Yuna had let it happen. She had known the tea was spiked the moment she took a sip. He couldn't understand why she would trust them like that if she knew what was happening. "...Sorry Yuna."

Chisen District...

Asaki and Saiya walked hand in hand through the entertainment capital of Soal City. Dozens of arcades lined both sides of the street as they walked through the Senten area's main road. Shops were open and some haunted houses were just opening for the evening. The area was crowded with natives and tourist, all hoping to have a good time with loved ones and family members. Screams filled the air from people riding roller-coasters in the distance at one of several theme and amusement parks that made up this portion of the city. It was like stepping into a childlike paradise. Saiya rarely came here, her eyes gazing around at everything, pulling Asaki to and from shops in childish glee. Asaki merely walked with a content smile on his face.

Of all the people he thought he would fall for, Saiya may have been the last on the planet. But then again, he loved everything about her, barely even knowing her for a week. He didn't know if it was just the situation or not, but he couldn't deny that Saiya was important to him. Her childish behavior, her devilish nature. She knew how to have fun and she cared about those around her. She was the typical eccentric teen but something about her made him look deeper. The moment she kissed him, he thought that she was impulsive. But the hesitance that she showed after let him know that she was scared. Something had happened to her before, something that made her live in the moment rather than taking time to think things through. She was scared that if she hadn't kissed Asaki then, she would have never gotten the chance again.

"Asaki, look! Isn't it cute?" She called happily, showing Asaki a small plush kitten with black and white fur. It's eyes were dramatically large and teary like.

"Heh. Reminds me of you, ya big crybaby." Asaki walked towards her as she pouted.

"How am I a crybaby?"

"Whining because we didn't tell you about the music club. It was supposed to be a surprise." Asaki took the kitten plushy and placed it on the counter as they walked into the store. Saiya stuck her tongue out at him without him noticing but cheered a little when she saw that he was buying the plushy for her. Asaki handed the store owner the money and turned to see Saiya already across the street at another store.

"So energetic..." He whispered. The store owner chuckled, having heard him.

"She's a keeper alright. It's hard to find a girl like her nowadays. I'm a bit jealous!"

Asaki shook his head in exasperation. "Yeah...I know for certain...I'm already in love with her."

As he said this, Saiya turned around to face him, a beaming smile on her face. A wind blew which made her cringe slightly and her hair blew in front of her face. She moved the hair aside and looked upwards, a small glimpse of sadness showing and her eyes seeming teary, just like the cat plushy he held. She was beautiful...

"What are you up to now?" Asaki called as he walked over to her, several children running by in front of him. She looked at him and smiled again, a small blush on her face when she saw the plushy. He handed it to her and they held hands again as they walked towards the movie theater.

"Just thinking...I'm wondering how great it is that me and Ayane met you and Shin..." She paused, taking a deep breath as they continued walking. "Asaki...there's something I need to tell you...and I hope you won't think less of me because of it."

Asaki didn't know what she could possibly say that would make him think less of her. Unless she said she was really a man. His poor kitty heart couldn't take that. But when Saiya leaned in towards him and began to whisper into his ear, his eyes bulged.

"What did you just say?"

Monster Beat