Chapter 9 — What's in Kyoto? (6)

Red flashed across multiple screens, as the technicians tried to unload the system. A set of numbers appeared on the screen. "That's... Astrid's distress code!" Someone shouted, pointing at the largest screen mounted in the center. A couple of murmurs passed through the room as the technicians answered her call. At first, all they heard were static and loud noises in the background. "Hello? Is this Agent Astrid?" The technician leaned into the microphone and asked. An ear-piercing shriek rang throughout the room, followed by even more static.

The doors to the control room slid open, and a young girl walked in, just in time to be greeted by the scream. She responded with a startled scream of her own, nearly dropping her silver tumbler. "Taka-sama! Are you okay?!" One of the technicians asked, leading her to the front. "That was Agent Astrid's call. All we could hear were static, loud noises and the scream. I think she's in trouble."

Taka rolled her eyes. "No shit, Sherlock," she said, pulling her strawberry blonde hair into a ponytail and tucked her silver highlights behind her ears. The technician fumed silently and watched as she pushed someone out of the seat and began furiously typing away on the keyboard. She noticed him standing behind her and shoved the tumbler into his hands, glaring at him. "Make yourself useful, and make me some coffee," she said. He shuddered and rushed to the pantry. Although he didn't like being told what to do by someone younger—a girl, no less—those cat-like golden eyes were very intimidating.

He shook his head. What kind of backwards thinking is that? She earned her spot as lead technician through hard work, there's no denying that. Once he was done, he placed it on the small tray beside the panel. "Thanks," she said and took a sip. A tiny smile graced her lips as the warm coffee made its way down her throat. Warm and creamy, just the way I like it. I should remember his face, he makes good coffee. She stole a glance and resumed her work, attempting to access the camera files.

But no matter how hard she tried, the files were locked. Groaning, she turned around to address the room. "Focus on making the audio files clearer, and hack into the Palace's CCTV. I'm sure they installed one in every room. I need to go check on something," she said and power-walked to the exit.

Usually, she would just leave the files be and just inform the higher-ups, but security was breached the other day and she, as lead technician, already got an earful from them. She didn't want to see those assholes, yet. Plus, Astrid's known to be pretty efficient. Even if she failed a mission, she'd still manage to cover her tracks and retreat unscathed. She stopped in front of a panel on the wall and swiped the card around her neck against the panel. Lights flashed and it scanned her face, and the words 'ACCESS APPROVED' appeared on the screen.

"Welcome to the research lab, Operative Taka Kuramoto." A feminine robotic said. She nodded at the panel and entered the room.

Choruses of greetings sounded throughout the room. She nodded in acknowledgment and held up her fist, silencing everyone. "Where's Taro?" she asked. The scientists exchanged nervous glances. She narrowed her eyes and her fingers formed a small gun at the ceiling. A beam of laser shot out her fingertips, shattering one of the numerous lights in the ceiling. "I said. Where's Taro?" she demanded.

"H-He went to check up on Astrid," someone said meekly.

Her eyes widened. She muttered a string of four-lettered curse words under her breathe and left the lab. That dumbass!

Kenji heard a loud ear-piercing scream from Yonezu's room and rushed towards her chambers. He saw something whizz past and realized it was Shojiro once he reached and saw the blond standing beside her door. He slammed open the doors and found Yonezu sprawled on the ground. A girl with strawberry blonde hair and two locks of silver hair framing her small face stood over her, a jewel-encrusted dagger in her hands. She saw the two boys and sighed, dropping the dagger.

"Before you assume anything, it wasn't me!" She cried out in alarm, and slowly backed against the wall.

Yonezu saw Kenji's legs twitch and held up an arm, stopping him. "Kenji! No! This is Taka Kuramoto, friend of House Tsuruoka!" He flinched when he heard that name—Tsuruoka was a clan of powerful Seedlings, and one that Yonezu was actively trying to befriend. Him, on the other hand, absolutely detested that clan, as all he saw were a group of pompous, over-glorified Seedlings with too much wealth on their hands.

She got up and grabbed the dagger, practically shoving it in his face. "You've become blunt, Kenji. How could you not recognize this dagger?" It was made out of obsidian with golden carvings, with a golden hilt. Precious stones decorated the blade, and a large ruby was attached to the hilt by a gold chain.

"It's one of Tsuruoka's daggers," Shojiro said once he saw Kenji's blank face.

Yonezu nodded. "She asked me to help her find someone with my scrying abilities. This is a scrying blade," she said and jammed the tip of the dagger into Kenji's stomach, startling him, but he relaxed once he saw no blood. "It's blunt, and not meant to cut. It's used to strengthen one's scrying abilities."

"B-But we heard you scream—"

Yonezu rolled her eyes. "I fell, boy! Must you make me say it?" He looked away, embarrassed. He grabbed Shojiro's shoulders and steered him out of the room, bowing in apology and gently closing the doors. She turned to Taka and handed her the dagger, a sweet smile on her face. "Now, child, describe the man you are searching for."

Taka nodded. "I'm looking for my brother, Taro. He has short brown hair and the worst haircut," she said, scrunching up her face as she pictured him in her mind. She gestured to her eyes. "We have the same eyes—but his are smaller—and he has monolids. They're supposed to be sexy, but all it does for him is make him look asleep half the time. Oh, and he is very, very lean, and very, very pale since he spends all his time in the underground lab. I don't understand the appeal—heck, I don't even understand him half the time!" She finished with an eye-roll. "But yeah, that's Taro. Ah, and he hasn't shaved in a while, so I think there's some stubble going on."

Yonezu smiled and took the dagger from her. She sounds like she's scolding him. She pressed her index and middle finger against the tip, shut her eyes and channeled her energy into it, encasing it in a soft blue glow. Taka watched her face scrunch up and twitch with amusement. All of a sudden, she threw the dagger against the wall, forming a small crack. "Found him!" she said loudly, the blue glow faded and the crack repaired itself, forcing the dagger out and onto the ground.

She turned to Taka. "He's in Kyoto. But he's somewhere with plenty of Seedlings, since I sense a large force of energy. A beacon, perhaps. However, there's also darkness gathered in that location," she said. "It's also located on the top of a hill, maybe—"

"The shrine!" Taka squealed, running towards the doors. "Thanks, Yonezu!"

"How did you—?"

"A beacon, right? The Kawasaki shrine is considered a beacon, too!"

Yonezu held out the dagger. "Taka-chan, the dagger!"

"Keep it!" Taka shouted.

Yonezu smiled and tucked it in her robes. At least she got an expensive dagger out of this.

"...I don't think we should do that."

"This is not the time to think about her feelings, man."

Everyone sounded like they were submerged underwater, and Ingrid struggled to make out what they were saying. It sounded like Kei and Isei were talking beside her. She heard a third voice. Feminine and clear like a bell. She couldn't make out what she was saying, much less recognize the voice. Then a fourth voice chimed in, and she picked up on the word 'Astrid.' Her older sister. How did they know her name? She tried to speak, but she couldn't feel her jaw. She opened her eyes slowly and flinched, attacked by the fluorescent light directly above her.

"No! You can't— Wait! Look!"

Although still submerged, she could make out the blurry shape of a girl with white hair and green eyes. Ayano...? She inched closer towards Ingrid, and her relieved face blurred into view. She clasped her hand around Ingrid's. "Thank heavens! You're awake!" A teardrop rolled down her cheeks, followed by a waterfall. She buried her face into Ingrid's stomach and started bawling. Ingrid took this time to access her surroundings. A small room with wooden walls and floorboards—most probably somewhere in the shrine—with an IV tube connected to a small bad above her.

Kei, Isei, Ayano and another man were in the room with her. Is he the doctor? He had short brown hair and his eyes reminded her of a cat's. He was holding a small tablet and tapping at it with a stylus. "She looks fine," he said, and the three of them turned to look at him, tears still streaming down Ayano's face. She grabbed his hands, startling him and making him drop the tablet, and cried out something within the lines of 'thank you doctor', but Ingrid couldn't really understand what she was saying.

After they managed to calm Ayano down, the doctor walked towards Ingrid and held out his hand, dangling a familiar necklace in front of her. A thick black thread looped through a hole in the middle of a Danish coin. That's... Astrid's! She snatched the necklace and glared at him, snarling, "That's my sister's!"

"We're colleagues—"

"She works in an accounting firm," Ingrid deadpanned. "You're a doctor. I don't see how."

He clicked his tongue and produced a card from his coat. "We're from the same company, kid. C&R is a huge company with expertise in many different fields. While I work in medicine, she works in accounting," he said, handing her the card. "Since she's a foreigner, she was constantly sick and often came to me. But not that she's over that hurdle, she's got something new to overcome."

She raised a brow questioningly even after receiving the card. "Why should I trust you?"

Isei leaned forward and whispered, "He's a Seedling, Ingrid. Apparently, your sister is one, too. So that also makes you one."

The doctor held out his hand and a small tornado formed above his palm. Not strong enough to make a mess of the room, but enough to make Ingrid hold onto the necklace. The wind died down a few seconds later, and his Seed—with grey Nectar filled to the brim—appeared. "Do you believe me now? In fact, you should be thankful, I came all the way to find you!" He dismissed the Seed and turned to face her. "Now, if you're over your paranoia, Astrid is on the verge of death in the ICU."

"D-Death?" Ingrid asked, eyes wide.

He nodded. "Yes. Death. A very powerful Seedling is looking for you. Her name was... Eae, I think—"

"Wait, Eae?" Ayano asked. "I remember reading something in the library. Eae is one of the names given to a Seedling's guardian. But that doesn't make sense, they wouldn't hurt Seedlings, they are sworn to protect us! That's why they're a carbon copy of their Seedling!"

He frowned. "But... she had white hair, and red eyes. She looked nothing like Ingrid!"

— Chapter 9 End —

A/N: I'm going to take a break from FP, and writing in general. Don't worry though, I'll still stick around as a reader, but that's it. Have fun folks!