Prolog: The Brotherhood
A cold chill runs through me as I sit on the back of my motorcycle, staring up at the night sky. The beginning of March—not cold enough for snow anymore, but definitely not warm enough to go out in just a t-shirt and shorts. Even the black leather jacket I'm wearing doesn't offer much protection against the last few bites that winter has in store. Holding back a shiver, I zip the rest of my jacket up, and bring my hands to my face, breathing life into the cold joints.
The night is still; it's just me and the flickering lampposts around me. It's well past midnight now, so if anyone were out on the streets, at this time of the night, I would be more than a bit surprised. These dusty, darkened streets are silent and still, with not a single soul in sight. It's not really 'peaceful'; nothing is ever at peace. But the solemn, somber breathing of the night, while all the world is lost in its dreams, is just a wonder that few get to behold. Though, the cold does take away from it a bit.
Sighing, I close my eyes and flop my body forward, over the handlebars of my bike. Why was I even out here, at this dreadful time of the night? My nights are mostly spent at Hayate's bar, singing with my band for the entertainment of Hayate's customers. If I'm not there, then I'm over at Katsuo's house, playing Generation X, or some other post-apocalyptic, first-person shooter game, with the rest of our gang. Honestly, why would I even want to waste such a perfect night like this one by sitting on my motorcycle, in the middle of the road, and in the middle of the night?
My answer comes in the form of a sharp shriek, coming from several dozen meters behind me. Instantly I snap up from my former position of hanging over the handlebars and smirk, a fire burning in my eyes. "Well it's about time," I announce, turning back on my bike as I start the engine. "I was starting to think you weren't gonna show, you big, ugly son of a bitch!"
The 'thing' behind me shrieks again, louder, and bursts out of an alleyway further down the road. I smirk as I get a good look at my opponent; twelve feet tall, probably weighing in at six-hundred pounds, and filled with pure, unadulterated rage. Its body is anthro-reptilian, with thick, pale-yellow scales covering its body and coming up to jagged edges on its shoulders, arms, and legs. Atop a thick, stout neck sits its head, shaped like a Komodo Dragon's, but with ram-like horns sprouting from its temples, and a beard of short spikes growing from its chin. Its back is covered in a coarse black fur, that I can tell even from where I'm at hasn't been cleaned in years, and similar fur grows around its wrists and ankles. Finally, molting and broken raven-like wings flop to either side of its body, with a long scorpion-like tail swishing behind them menacingly.
I smirk back at the beast as it hisses angrily again, and cup my hand around my mouth. "Hey ugly!" I shout, smirking, "You want me? Then come and get me!" Laughing, I slam my hand down on the gas and belt out, down the street. The beast roars, livid with anger, and soon the sound of his feet slamming into the ground as he charges after me reach my ears. Smirking, I lift my hand to my ear and send out a call.
"Hey, guys! Big boy's taken the bait, coming up right behind me on Twentieth!" There's a beep from the other end as I say this, and soon Hiroto's voice picks up on my headset.
"Nice job, Shiki! Lure him down to the Ten'nohashira Building at the intersection of Seventy-Fifth and Thirtieth! We'll be there to take care of him!" I nod at his instructions and rev my bike up some more, aiming for the next right turn.
"So what are we dealing with, Boss?" Katsuo asks through the headpiece.
"It looks like we've got a Rampage on our list right now, guys," I reply, leaning in as I take the next turn and shoot down Sixty-Ninth Street. The Rampage behind me shrieks again, and I hear its claws scrape across the asphalt as it rounds the corner after me. There's a sigh on the other end, and I recognize it instantly as Reigin's.
"Seriously? Another Rampage? Wrath must really be trying hard to take Japan, this is the fifth one of his cronies that he's sent here, and we've had to squash!"
"It would explain why there has been so much gang-related violence around here, though," Takuma replies, and I can almost hear his calm smirk on the other end. "Hopefully, once the last of these Demons is taken care of, the streets will be a bit more peaceful."
"We'll ponder over that later, Professor," Hiroto shouts, "For now, let's ice this Demon!"
"Sounds like my kind of plan," I reply, hitting the gas again and turning left at the next intersection and onto Thirtieth Street. The Rampage behind me bellows again, the rage in its call dripping down onto me. I smirk back at the beast and cup my hand around my mouth again. "Come on ugly! Is that the best that you can—"
"—do?" I finish, the words coming out softer and weaker than before. The Demon howls again, its claws digging into the ground as it leaps forward, blood-red eyes flashing menacingly. Instantly the two broken, molted wings on either side of its body snap out, the tips grazing over the ground. Bellowing, the beast leans forward and tucks its head in, quickly gaining more and more speed. Shit, I think, turning back to the handlebars and pumping the gas again, I think that might've worked a little too well!
Grimacing, I look up the street as signs flash past me. Just up ahead is Seventy-Fifth Street, and right on the corner, standing as tall and proud as ever, is the Ten'nohashira Building. All the lights are blazing within it, making it look like some enormous pillar or beacon in the middle of a foggy night. I frown as I grow nearer, and look up at the tops of the buildings, looking for the others. "Come on guys!" I mutter, "Let's move, come on!"
I can hear the Demon's breathing now, its dry, raspy panting as it continues to gain on me. Grimacing, I lean into my motorcycle, pull myself into my bike as much as possible, and keep my eyes trained on the towering building just ahead of me. "Come on," I mutter under my breath, "Just a little bit further!"
The next few seconds happen in a blur. The Demon, only about half a meter away from by back wheel, snaps its arm out in a violent lunge. Instantly the bike spun out of control, the back wheel broken. I don't even have time to shout for help before the bike skids into the road again and begins rolling over the rough asphalt, with me barely hanging on. I grimace and let go of my ride, tossing myself away from the wrecked bike as it slams into a lamppost. I tumble away from the wreck, groaning to a stop on the sidewalk just under the Ten'nohashira Building.
Moaning, I push myself back up onto my feet, throwing my left arm across my chest. I can't feel my right arm, can't even twitch my fingertips; probably broke it again. My chest is heaving, I feel like someone drove a semi over me, so I probably broke some of my ribs. It's a wonder I'm not bleeding a huge stream of blood, and not just this little trickle down my right arm. Grimacing, I look over at the mangled mess that was my motorcycle. The machine is warped and wrapped around the lamppost, the front wheel still slowly spinning. Well, no saving that one, I think bitterly. Looks like I'm gonna need to buy a new bike…again…
Slowly, I turn back to the Rampage. The yellowy Demon grins a cruel smirk at me, letting its wings flop back onto the pavement. It slowly steps towards me, clenching and releasing its fists in anticipation of tearing its prey apart. I scowl at its smirk and stagger back, quickly looking around at the rooftops of the buildings around me once again. "Aw, come on guys! Give me some help here!"
My plea goes unanswered, and the Rampage gives me another eerie grin. The beast pulls its cracked and scarred right arm back, and already I can feel the pain the attack will bring. Scowling again, I clench my eyes shut and wait for it to be over.
My eyes snap open again, and I can't hold back the grin on my face as the Demon's vicious attack is stopped before it can even begin. From somewhere up above, an arrow made completely out of pure white light soars down on the Rampage, sinking down into its shoulder. Instantly, the shaft of the arrow flashes brightly, releasing dozens of thick chains and cords that wrapped around the Demon's body, arms, and legs, before sinking into the ground at odd angles, like support lines for a circus tent. The Demon's eyes widen in surprise, and the beast bellows again as it struggles against its binds. The chains jangle and shake, but despite the Rampage's efforts, the bindings stay rooted in the ground.
"Heh," I smirk, leaping back from the struggling Demon. "Nice timing, Hiroto!"
"Well, I try, Shiki," my blonde-haired friend says, flipping off of the top of the Ten'nohashira Building and landing softly right beside me. Smirking, he lifts the large, white sniper crossbow he's using, and notches another arrow of light. "Sorry if I took too long. Needed to wait until I could get a clear shot."
"A clear shot?" I challenged, frowning. "The street's wide open, man! You had a clear shot the entire time!"
Hiroto shrugs and turns away. "I wanted to be sure, Shiki," he replies, his arms flashing as the two white gauntlets protecting his arms re-absorb the crossbow of light he had been using. "Couldn't let our 'oh so fearless leader' take the plunge yet, could we?"
I scowl at his words and turn back to the still-struggling Demon, the fruitless wrestle it was having with its binds calming me for some reason. "Shut up, you cocky bastard," I groan, lifting a hand to my earpiece. "All right, Takuma, Hiroto's got the Rampage in position. You ready, man?"
"I've got it all set up, Shiki," my indigo-haired friend calls back, and in an instant he appears directly above the Demon, his long, black, locust-mounted staff held gingerly in his black gauntlet armored hands, the locust carved in its head aimed down at the Demon and glowing a menacing purple. "Just give me the command, and I've got it!"
Smirking, I nod and pull my left arm back. "Go ahead man, nail it!"
The taller teen smirks back at me and nods. Suddenly, a wispy purple aura surrounds his body, travelling down the length of his arms towards the locust on his staff. A strange, humming sound fills the air, and Takuma's eyes flash for just a second before he pulls back his staff and swings forward.
"First Plague; Twilight Corruption!"
Instantly the purple aura around Takuma surges down the length of his staff, washing over the Rampage. The Demon opens its mouth to roar or protest, but it can do nothing as the strange aura swarms into its gaping maw and slithering through. It groans, nearly choking on the strange energy, before falling forward, gasping. I frown at the Demon's actions, and turn over to Takuma, who lands beside me as well, smirking.
"What the hell did you do to it, Takuma?" I ask, nodding my head towards the moaning monster. Takuma smirks and leans forward on his staff, raising a hand to adjust his glasses.
"Combination of Tuberculosis, Swine Flu, and Leukemia. Its bones, internal organs, and muscles should all turn to liquid within the next few moments, rendering it helpless for when we exorcise it and send it back to its cell in Hell, where it rightfully belongs."
My eyebrows quirk upwards, and I scratch the back of my head awkwardly. "Damn, you certainly aren't playing around today, are you, Takuma?" Seeing the indigo-haired senior shrug, I sigh and turn back to the writhing Demon. "Well, you heard Takuma! This is our chance guys—give it Hell!"
"Got it, Boss!" I hear Katsuo shout through the earpiece, just before flying out of a nearby alleyway. I catch the smirk on the spiky-haired, red-head's face as he thrusts his red gauntlet-covered arms forward, his palms open. "You're gonna be sorry you messed with us, Demon! Blader's Paradise!" Bursting through a flash of bright red light, Katsuo lunges forward at the Demon, now carrying two enormous battle axes, and with several dozen more blades flying behind him, like a fleet of fighter jets.
Roaring with excitement, the teen begins spinning like crazy, the enormous blades in his hands carving away at the bound Demon. The floating swords and axes whirl around the Demon with Katsuo, slicing up the beast in a terrible whirlwind of blades. The beast bellows in rage, shaking as hard as it can as it tries to break free of its binds. Katsuo just keeps whirling around him, though, the eager look of battle trained onto his face.
Hiroto smirks over at his red-headed friend and looks over to me. "Katsuo's really going crazy with it, ain't he?" I smirk and nod back, grinning as the shorter teen continues his endless barrage on the Demon.
"How soon until you can exorcise that thing?" Takuma asks, folding his arms as he slips into thought. I shrug at his question and look down at my right arm.
"Dunno…I'd say about a minute longer for the arm to heal. Why?" Takuma frowns, and his eyes narrow at the battle just across from us.
"Because we're seriously going to need that thing gone, now!"
Before I can question him on the urgency of the situation, the Demon shrieks once more, and does something that surprises everyone watching, including Katsuo. The monster pulls its arm back with as much strength as it can muster, breaking the chains on its body as if the bonds were made of paper. Roaring, the Rampage throws its fist forward, aiming the punch right at Katsuo.
"I don't think so!" Katsuo shouts, flinging his arms across his chest in an 'x'. Instantly the axes and swords flash in front of his body, becoming an enormous, bladed shield. The Demon's punch connects with the shield with terrible force, throwing Katsuo back several meters, but the red-head pops up with a smirk, releasing his shield. "Ha, that wasn't so—"
The rest of Katsuo's sentence dies beneath the Demon's howl as the beast lunges forward once more. This time, though, Katsuo's not fast enough. His amber eyes grow wide as the enormous fist sails into his chest with a solid 'crunch', and a pained moan slips out of his mouth as he himself goes sailing across the street, tumbling to the ground in a hapless heap.
"What?!" I exclaim, looking to Takuma in shock. "I thought you said your Plague was going to make it so that his body was rendered completely useless in any attack! What happened?"
"Apparently the Rampage has more fight in it than I first thought," Takuma responds, frowning. "This cannot be good."
"You think?" I exclaim again, frowning. Quickly I snap my attention back to the battle, where the Demon is drunkenly charging at the moaning Katsuo. "Reigin, it's up to you, man! Get Katsuo out of there in one piece, and bring that Demon down for good!"
"Yeah yeah," the albino calls back, slowly stepping out of the shadows of an alleyway at the other end of the road, "you don't need to tell me twice." Frowning as he stares over at the Demon with his one good eye, the other hidden behind his long white hair, Reigin lifts his right arm, the entire length covered in a pale green armor. There's a small flash of pale green light, and the very next second, Reigin is standing at the end of the road, facing the Demon's back, with an enormous, skeletal scythe gripped loosely in his hands. Sighing, the albino runs his left hand through his hair and glares at the beast.
"Let's get this over with—Phantom's Encroachment!"
Reigin's wrist snaps sharply as the words leave his lips, and a bright green wave of light cascades off of his scythe's blade with the sudden, jerking slash. The slash cuts into the road, streaking towards the charging Rampage. Before the Demon can take even one more step, dozens of skeletal limbs tear out of the cut in the ground, snapping up at the beast's legs and skewing its movements. The Demon groans in anger as it stumbles to the ground, and begins to kick at the boney binds. Its efforts are met only with even more limbs breaking out of the ground and pinning its arms, neck, and wings down. Its tail writhes angrily, and the barb on the end starts to draw back in an attack, but even more bones rise up and trap the long appendage against the ground. The beast continues to wrestle against its binds, but the bones simply press tighter down on it. Reigin sighs as the bones settle into binds on the beast, and dissolves his scythe back into his gauntlets.
"There, that should take care of it," he says, frowning over at me. "He's all yours now, Shiki."
I nod back at him and clench both my fists, smirking at the Demon's frightful moans. "Think it's about time to end this," I say, throwing my hands out in front of me. A golden light wraps around both of my arms, and quickly solidifies into two gold and white gauntlets. Another flash of bright, white light surrounds my hands, and instantly I'm carrying an enormous claymore, made completely out of light. My smirk deepens as the Demon's face shatters into a fearful grimace, and it begins to scratch away at the ground and its binds as I step towards it. I pull my sword back, the edge gleaming menacingly, and swing down on it.
It's hard to believe, looking back now, that our lives weren't always about hunting down Demons, fighting off Fallen Angels, and hanging out with Devils. That we didn't always have access to these amazing powers; the Five Sacred Armors. That we didn't realize just how truly enormous our world is, once you peel back all the layers that lie hidden before our very eyes. That we even had a life before any of this was ever revealed to us.
And yet, seven years ago, our lives were just that. We had no clue of the destiny that God had planned for us...or of the torture and torment that Lucifer and his Fallen Angels had ready as well. We didn't know who we really were, or what we were even doing with our lives. We didn't know that we would be spending the next seven years of our lives, and onward into the future, training, growing, fighting, until we were ready to fight in the Apocalypse. We didn't know anything about any of that.
Back then, all that seemed to matter was just surviving school, and all the chaos that came with it. Not knowing that chaos of a different kind was waiting for us.
The chaos of the Brotherhood Archangel.