I am back, people! So some people have been asking me about the pairings. If there is any pairing involved in this story, depending on how I take this story, it'll probably be a love triangle: Riiyu/Shiraishi/Yukimura. I'll leave it to your imagination to think of the why. Also, as this story is under the tragedy genre, be ready for many character deaths to happen. Also, in case anyone had forgotten, Riiyu entered high school a year earlier than her peers, so she is just a year level below Yukimura, and in Ann's class.
Warnings: AU Universe. Non-canon. Murder. Gore. Character deaths.
Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis or any of the characters, but the OC characters belongs to me
Chapter Two: Broken Shards of a Memory
"Is this the answer that you've been searching for?"
"We are Hades. Would you like to come with us, little one?"
"…What is this place?"
"Is everything that we've done meaningless?"
"What took you so long?"
"Who are you trying to fool?"
"Because this is our duty."
"You are the source of all evil."
"This isn't the world that we wanted!"
"Darkness exists in everyone."
"The Angel Syndicate… Just what are they?"
"If it's one lesson that I've learned, it's this: Live for nothing. Die for something."
"It's not over yet. It's not over yet!"
"Let's go together."
At that time, none of us realised just what it meant…to go after the Angel Syndicate…and Tenshi. The second battle… The second war… It is unlike the previous one from over a year ago. The second battle will be the last one. And probably, the final battle of our lives.
Three Years Ago
Echizen Riiyu knelt down by the ground, fingering the soot from the remains which just a few hours prior, was a happy and peaceful village. The dark haired pre-teen glanced up and over the remains of the village.
Every single house in the village was wrecked, and dead bodies laid everywhere, with some losing a few limbs. The small fires that hadn't been extinguished yet could be seen in nearly every area of the village.
Riiyu closed her eyes and stood up again, her hands clenching into fists by her sides. "Takeru… What have you done?" she whispered.
Her cellphone vibrated in her pocket just then, and she fished it out, answering the call with a crisp, "Hello?"
"Riiyu, he seems to be heading west." The voice of her partner, Shiraishi Kuranosuke echoed in her ear. The normally stoic teen sounded a tad bit worried as he did so. "He's heading towards the direction of the capital city. Stop him before he gets there."
"I know," said Riiyu with a sigh. "You go after Yuuta. I don't know if he knows something about this. But if he does… You know what to do."
Shiraishi sighed on the other end of the line. "I know. You too. Be careful."
Riiyu closed her eyes briefly as she placed her cellphone back in her pocket. This is madness. Are those two truly in league together with the Angel Syndicate? The syndicate that they've been chasing after for some time now? The same one that had so many people killed with all the drugs and arms operations that they've been performing, along with nearly every single black market transaction that had ever existed?
The youngest Number of the Hades organisation really doesn't want to kill her own comrades herself. But then again, she is a Number, and she knows her duty.
"Sorry, Takeru," she whispered at last, touching the hard steel of her handgun by her side. "But if you've indeed fallen to this, then the least that I could do is to give you a quick death." She bit on her lower lip. "If you are indeed a traitor, I don't intend to capture you alive. I'll send your body to the organisation for disposal." Her eyes hardened. "Hades has no place for traitors."
'In the end, I'm just a hypocrite, aren't I? Now… I'm just doing what Takeru had done back then. I just didn't do it myself. What should I do?'
The honey blonde haired teen stared back stoically at Exilia, the Number XIII of the Hades organisation. The dark haired pre-teen had her gun trained on him, a nonchalant expression on her face.
"Riiyu." Takeru replied coolly, as if he hadn't just been responsible for all the destruction and carnage all around him.
There was silence for a very long time before Riiyu broke the silence. "Takeru… Why?"
It was just two words, yet it conveyed lots to Takeru. Echizen Riiyu always had that ability: to convey lots with just a few words. The tone that she had used conveyed betrayal, and also the want to know why. Why now? Why him? Really… Is there really a need to explain it at all? She of all people should know why.
"Is it not obvious?" Takeru hissed bitterly.
Riiyu wasn't paying full attention to him, as her eyes were scanning the carnage, that just a few moments ago, had been a bountiful fishing village. Dead bodies littered the ground, and it reminded Riiyu of the 'reaping' that members of the Angel Syndicate carried out each time a town or a village rejected their request to cooperate with them. That particular piece of news hadn't been released to the public so far so as to not cause panic.
"Takeru…" Riiyu nearly whispered, turning her eyes towards one of her old friends. "Just what have you done?"
"As if you can't tell." Takeru snorted. "You should know the reason why as well, Riiyu. We are just nothing but tools to the king, and to the guy that calls himself the Superior! Our deaths mean nothing to them! Nothing at all! You should know this!"
"What are you talking about?" Riiyu demanded, though in her heart of hearts, she knew what Takeru is talking about. She had often thought the same. And she isn't the only one. But Takeru is the only one who actually had the guts to actually act upon his feelings.
"They took Mii from me!" Takeru snarled dangerously. "They killed her! Why can't we be allowed to exist? Why must we always hide in the shadows?"
Riiyu closed her eyes briefly. "We can't do that. Because if we do so, it would mean political outrage of the likes that we have never seen before. A civil war might even break out. Takeru, you should know this."
"No!" Takeru snarled. "I will listen to no one no more! I will bow to no one from this day on! From now on, I'll take charge of my own life! No one can dictate what I can do or can't do!"
"Then all the carnage and destruction?" Riiyu questioned, trying to keep a hold on her temper. "Why must you do this? Just how much are you different from us, from the Angel Syndicate? In fact, you might be even worse."
"Don't lump me together with you lot!" Takeru snarled. "I am different! I'll walk my own path, no matter the price that I have to pay! And while we're on that subject, what about you, Exilia? You're one of Hades' best. One of our best killers. Tell me something then. How much blood have you spilt? Just how many people have you killed in the name of Hades? In the name of the king?"
"That's the way that this world works," said Riiyu hesitantly. "I don't like to kill. But even I know that it is necessary sometimes. True justice doesn't exist after all. That's why Hades is created; so that we can do the job that Justice cannot."
Takeru laughed bitterly and scornfully. "Justice, huh?" he sneered. "Pretty words of a loser. Those are just excuses, and you know it! I had enough! I'll recreate this world the way that I want it! So that no one will suffer like how we did! Like how Mii did!"
Riiyu was silent for a very long while before she trained her gun on Takeru once more, a sad look entering her eyes for a brief moment before it faded away again.
"The person that I see standing in front of me…I don't know who he is," said Riiyu, her voice shaking slightly before it took on a confident tinge. "Kurama Takeru. Former Noix of the Hades organisation. I now place you under the charge of murder and massacre, alongside the committing of terrorist acts. And the sentence…is death!" Riiyu's eyes hardened. "Goodbye, Takeru. Let's meet again on the other side."
A gunshot echoed out.
Takeru's eyes were of surprise as a blood patch appeared on his white shirt and started spreading, even as he started to fall backwards.
Riiyu cracked one eye opened blearily only to see Tachibana Ann trying to shake her awake, an annoyed expression on her face.
"Ann?" Riiyu muttered, rubbing at her eyes. "What is it?"
Ann sighed. "If you're so tired, why did you even come to school today in the first place?" She wanted to know. "More importantly…" She jerked one thumb over her shoulder where a smiling sophomore with rather untidy hair stood outside their nearly empty classroom, seeing as how it is currently lunch break, waving at Riiyu. "Chitose-sempai is looking for you."
"I've found him," said Senri Chitose, the moment that the both of them were gathered at the emergency stairway of the school – not too far away from Riiyu's classroom. He grinned as he handed a brown manila envelope to Riiyu. "The one that you call Kaidoh is somewhere in Izumo, running a delivery business."
Riiyu managed a small smile. "Delivery boy, huh?" she mused. "Sounds just like him. What about Shiraishi?"
"Your old partner? Took me nearly two weeks just to find him. He's good at hiding himself. Just like you." Senri sighed. "You wouldn't believe just how near he is. He's in Shinjuku. As a mercenary for hire. He's with the Guild."
Riiyu frowned. The Guild. An organisation that is comprised mostly of civilians who usually take on tasks and jobs for a fee from the general public. There is a branch of the Guild in almost every city or town, and that makes them easily accessible to the public.
"You got his address?" Riiyu asked. "Both of them."
"Naturally," said Senri with a nod. "I won't ask why you're gathering your old team back together, Riiyu, but even I can tell that something's up. Just be careful."
Riiyu nodded. "I will."
Kevin scowled and exchanged looks with Choutarou.
Now he understood just why Riiyu is so pissed off with the Superior and had actually stated that she'll rather die than return to Hades. He understood his old friend. The Angel Syndicate had been her original mission before that particular mission had killed nearly all of those involved. And if he knew his friend, he knew that Riiyu rarely leaves a mission uncompleted. He is surprised that Riiyu had gone this long without interfering with anything relating to the Angel Syndicate and Tenshi.
"Sir, with all due respect, you of all people should know that once Riiyu had decided on something, she rarely changes her mind, if at all." Choutarou interrupted the Superior in mid-rant. "It's a miracle as it is that she had actually agreed to listen to us in the first place. I'm not surprised that she wouldn't return, if what she told us was true." Choutarou narrowed his eyes dangerously.
The Superior frowned. "I don't care what her reasons are. I want her back. And I don't care what methods that you use to bring her back. Just bring her back. And I want her back now."
Kevin scowled. "Do I look suicidal to you?" he demanded. "Riiyu is not happy with us. If we try to bring her back by force…" He trailed off. "I don't think that I have to tell you what she'll do. You won't like the results if you force her into a corner. You can go ahead and send others to bring her back if you desire her return so much. Just don't expect them to come back alive, if at all."
The Superior narrowed his eyes dangerously. "Is that a threat?"
"No. It's the truth, and you know it." Choutarou interrupted. "Kevin is right. You know what Riiyu is capable of, and what she can and will do if she is ever forced into a corner. She isn't our best for nothing. She and Shiraishi-san both made up one of the best teams in Hades. If you push them into a corner, they'll retaliate. And trust me, sir, you don't want either of them as your enemy. They are content enough to leave us alone for now. But if you do anything to them at all, they won't hesitate to declare us as an enemy. They don't need our help to take down the Angel Syndicate. They can do it themselves easily. And it is easy for them to destroy Hades as well. And you know perfectly well that the Royal Guard isn't that fond of us, especially Reiko-san. If you give them an excuse, they won't hesitate to move to wipe us out, no matter even if the country needs us or not. From what I've heard from Reiko-san, the king isn't amused at the circumstances that forced one of the best teams in Hades to spilt apart. And he isn't pleased with what you've done to Riiyu and her team over a year ago."
"And trust me, sir." Kevin added in his input. "You won't like having Riiyu or Reiko on the warpath after you. You won't survive it."
Three Years Ago
Echizen Riiyu gritted her teeth tightly, trying very hard to keep a lid on her temper, and to prevent herself from using her gun on the idiot in front of her.
"With all due respect, sir, I know how to do my job!" Riiyu finally snapped. "I have been an assassin in the Hades' organisation far longer than you have been the Superior!"
The underlying meaning is clear: you don't dictate over me.
"And I know the rules!" Riiyu snarled out. "Traitors don't return alive to Hades. So what the hell do you want me to do? Just stand there and let Takeru kill me?"
"Still, you should have brought him in alive for questioning." The Superior stated with a frown. "He is a mere Noix, whilst you are a Number. There's no way that he can beat you."
Riiyu gritted her teeth. "Have you even been listening to me?" she growled. "His rank is just a matter of naming. His power is equal to that of a Number! He specialises in demolition, sir. What do you think that he is capable of? I trained with him. I know what he can do." She then spun around and walked towards the door.
"We are not done talking yet!" The Superior called out to her.
"We are most definitely done here!" Riiyu snapped back. "I'm not about to waste my breath on you! I'll submit my report later. As well as another report to the Royal Guard as usual."
She then stepped out of the room and slammed the door so hard behind her that the walls actually shook. The dark haired girl leaned against the door and took in several deep breaths to bring her temper down, fighting the urge to go back in and kill the idiot.
Riiyu then blinked when she saw her partner leaning against the wall opposite her, his arms crossed over his chest. "Why do you listen to such an idiot?" Shiraishi wanted to know.
"And what about you? Why are you always so carefree?" Riiyu shot back, immediately feeling guilty at taking her temper out on Shiraishi.
"It's not that I'm carefree," said Shiraishi without a care in the world. "I just don't think too much. I believe that as long as you've given it your all, you won't leave behind any regrets."
"Such an easygoing guy." Riiyu shook her head, and Shiraishi smirked.
Echizen Riiyu sighed as she looked at the door that she is currently standing in front of. The apartment complex that she is in is owned by the Guild, and is mainly used by them to house their members, though rent must be paid for, naturally.
Finally, the dark haired girl raised her fist and knocked on the door twice. It almost seems like an eternity to her before the door swung opened, and her old partner stood at the doorway, looking older than his age of seventeen.
Shiraishi Kuranosuke had an expecting look on his face as he glanced at his old partner. The teen was currently dressed in a black T-shirt with designs of skulls on it, along with tattered dark blue jeans. He then sighed and opened his door wider, inviting her in.
"Come in. I knew that you will come sooner or later," he muttered before turning around and walking back into his apartment.
Riiyu followed him in without a word, and was surprised to see an unexpected visitor in Shiraishi's sitting room as she did so.
"K-Kaidoh?" Riiyu gasped, blinking owlishly at the bandanna clad teen sitting on one of the couches in Shiraishi's sitting room.
Kaidoh Kaoru grunted and nodded to Riiyu simply. Riiyu translated that small action as Kaidoh-speak for 'nice to see you again' and 'you look well'. The guy rarely speaks in the first place, and mainly hisses all day like a snake. Like Shiraishi, the past year or so hadn't been gentle to him, and he looks older than he really is. Who is she kidding? Riiyu sighed to herself as she took a seat. She is the same way too.
"If you are here for the reason that I think that you are, the answer is no, Riiyu," said Shiraishi simply. "I'm not returning to Hades. And neither am I suicidal enough to tempt Fate. Though I'm surprised at you. I would have thought that you'd be the last one to agree to return to Hades. You nearly came to blows with the Superior that time that if it hadn't been for your influence within Hades and with the Royal Guard, the Superior would have executed you on the spot."
"I hadn't even stated what I'm here for." Riiyu sighed with dismay. "Stop jumping to conclusions. And I'm not even on their side. Call me a mercenary for hire." She sighed. "I really should have listened to Reiko back then. Things wouldn't have come to this if so."
"So what are you really here for?" Kaidoh spoke up for the first time. "I've heard rumours about the Angel Syndicate and Tenshi running around once more. That's why I came to find Shiraishi. Our last job from before… I want to finish it."
Riiyu didn't say anything for several moments before she looked up again. "Kevin and Choutarou came to find me about a week ago," she said at last. "The reason for their visit… Half of it has to do with the Angel Syndicate."
"The other half?" Shiraishi raised a brow.
Riiyu sighed loudly. "There is a coup happening within Hades itself," she answered, and the eyes of the two boys in front of her widened. "And so far, over half of the Numbers are implicated. I have no intention to assist in the coup, but if it gets out of hand, it might worsen matters with the royal family, and with the situation with the Angel Syndicate."
Kaidoh gave a sarcastic bark of laughter. "Really now?" he stated sarcastically. "Really, why should it bother us? Hades had it coming, with the way that they treated their people – like tools to be used and thrown away." He growled low in his throat, balling his hands into fists on his knees. "If it weren't for that coward that calls himself the Superior, Momoshiro wouldn't have died!"
Shiraishi placed a hand on the angry teen's arm. "Kaidoh, I understand how you feel, but you have to look at it from another point," he said quietly. "Riiyu has a point here. If this…coup goes out of hand, we might face a civil war here in Japan. It is only due to the king and Reiko-san, and in effect, the Royal Guard, that we were able to live our lives out peacefully for this past year. We owe them at least this much to put a stop to the coup, and end the situation with the Angel Syndicate. That had been our original mission after all. We have a score to settle with them."
Riiyu sighed. "That's why I'm gathering the old team back together again," she said. "And now, all that we're missing is Sengoku."
"And pray tell, just how are you going to get him out?" Kaidoh raised a brow. "Last that I'd heard, he's locked up in Hades' lockdown – the jail cell. All of us have a hit on sight order on all of our heads. Shiraishi actually had a kill on sight order."
Riiyu sighed. "Well, I have an idea, but I'll let you know about it later," she said. "Anyway…" She looked from one face to the other. "Don't take this the wrong way, but both of you… You have nothing to do with the coup, right?"
"Definitely not!" Shiraishi said firmly. "I don't even want anything to do with Hades any longer! Why the hell should I even involve myself in a Hades matter?"
"Well, I didn't really think that you guys have anything to do with it, but I just wanted to be sure." Riiyu muttered.
Silence fell among them once more.
"The Angel Syndicate." Kaidoh broke the silence, fiddling his fingers together with the nervous habit that he always had. "They're moving once more. And judging by the patterns, they're serious this time."
"Probably, they heard about the coup happening within Hades, and decided that it is their best time to strike." Shiraishi shrugged. "I mean, Hades is nearly in shambles. They lost nearly an entire team to that disastrous mission from over a year ago. Two of their best Numbers have deserted. Two of their best Noixs are missing in action, with one actually locked up in jail. And now, with this coup that had more than half of their Numbers implicated…" Shiraishi trailed off. "Well, if I'm Tenshi, I would choose this time to strike as well."
"There is also that small chance that the Angel Syndicate might even be behind this coup." Kaidoh pointed out, and Riiyu nodded. That had been her initial suspicion when Kevin and Choutarou have first told her about it. "Ever since the Superior had taken office about five years back, none of the guys back at headquarters have been very happy with him. Takeru is just the only one with enough balls to act on it, only he's taken it a little too far." He trailed off, his eyes glazing over at the thought of the fate of one of the best Noixs in the Hades organisation.
"And not to mention Yuuta." Riiyu pointed out. "And probably, one of those involved in the coup this time might be Fuji. He has never really been happy about what the Superior had ordered for his brother. He never blamed Shiraishi, or me, as he knew that we're just carrying out orders. But he has never really forgiven the Superior for giving out that order in the first place."
"So we're all in then?" Kaidoh asked quietly, and both Shiraishi and Riiyu nodded. "What of Sengoku? And Hades?"
"I'll think of something regarding Sengoku," said Riiyu with a frown. "As for Hades…" She trailed off before sighing. "I'll prefer it if they keep far away from me. We'll deal with the Angel Syndicate on our own. And knowing just how Hades work, they'll only get in the way."
"So no interfering with the coup then?" Shiraishi questioned, only to receive nods in return.
Silence fell once more.
"I was thinking." Riiyu broke the silence, staring at her interlaced fingers. "I was thinking recently ever since Kevin and Choutarou have paid me a visit. Thinking about the past." She glanced at her old teammates. "Dreams of the past have been haunting me a lot lately. Along with what Reiko had told me all those years back when she had first found out that I'm in Hades." She bit on her bottom lip. "Maybe if I had listened to her back then, things wouldn't have come to this."
"Come on, it wasn't your fault." Kaidoh said soothingly, and Shiraishi nodded. "You wouldn't have known what would happen."
"The battle with the Angel Syndicate… This will be the last one," said Riiyu, almost as if she hadn't heard what Kaidoh had said. "The Royal Guard, the Guild, and even Hades… All of them will be involved in this. I visited Reiko occasionally throughout the past year. And each time, I watched the members of the Royal Guard spar against each other. From morning until the sun had gone down." She took in a deep breath, exhaling out again. "I just visited Reiko two days ago, when I told her what Kevin and Choutarou have told me. I was there at the Royal Palace the whole day. I watched the members of the Royal Guard sparred against each other in the dojo." Kaidoh and Shiraishi exchanged looks. "And I know…" Her voice shook. "I know that it's probably not going to be enough to save them. Any of them. Half of them are going to die. That is a fact. Probably even all of them. Probably even my own sister. My only living family. Am I selfish? For wishing that Reiko will keep out of it?" Riiyu didn't wait for an answer. "And when I watched them, and when I talked with Reiko, I wonder… And I wondered again as I'm making my way here…"
Her voice shook with emotion.
"I wonder… Just what did they die for?" Riiyu questioned, her voice trembling. "Momo and the others… Just what did they die for? Just what did we suffer for? All the fighting…just what is it for? All the sacrifices…is it all for naught? What did they die for? What good did I do by killing all those people throughout all these years? Why did they even have to die?" Her voice was growing louder with each word. "What use was all that death…all that pain…all those…those wasted time?" A lone tear dropped on her hand. "What good was it for, when we didn't even manage to save our friends? When we didn't even manage to stop the Angel Syndicate, stop Tenshi for good? Just… Just what are we fighting for?"
Shiraishi and Kaidoh exchanged looks before turning back towards Riiyu. They've both nearly forgotten that even though sitting in front of them is the best assassin that Hades and the world has to offer, she is still a girl who is barely even an adult.
"We were fighting for the sake for a better future." Shiraishi said at last. "A future where no children will end up making the same mistakes and choices that we did. We were fighting, to ensure the world a future. We were fighting, to ensure that the world in the future is one without war."
"But we failed." Riiyu stated, speaking what was on the minds of both the boys. "I failed."
"Are you sure, sir?"
"Are you questioning me?"
"No sir," said the man hesitantly. "But if you do that, Exilia will probably—"
"She'll get the message." The Superior interrupted. "She'll return to us without a doubt after this." He missed the angry glare that the man across him shot at him which only lasted for a brief moment. "I want you to go and assassinate that friend of hers. The boy by the name of Senri Chitose."