"Alrighty, kid, who in the hell are you?"
Aeneas was seated in a rather cozy coffee shop, as his three… rescuers sat and stood around him. They'd taken him on a rather roundabout route that ended with them coming out of a manhole in a backalley just around the corner from the front of the shop. The girl had made four cups of coffee, in silence, as they sat there.
"I'm… Aeneas," He said, slowly, as he stumbled over the words in Japanese, "I'm from…"
"America." The girl interrupted from where she leaned against the countertop. "We guessed from that horrible accent of yours. Now, why are you here?"
He nervously wrung his hands, letting his hands drift around the room. He didn't know these people! They could be cannibals, and without his Dad or Mom…
I'm no better… A familiar thought, a memory, began, but he quickly smashed it.
"I was… here with my Father." He began. "We were here to see…"
He rattled off the address, and said the name of his father's friend. He flinched as the girl stood straight up.
"Kuzen? That was Yoshimura's old name…"
"Then that man, this boys' father," The silver haired man said from where he sat across the room, "Was the American that Yoshimura told me stories about. The Death's Head Demon. His kakuja fits the descriptions."
"Then… Kuzen is Yoshimura?" Aeneas asked, as their eyes turned as one back to him. "Where is Yoshimura?"
At the threes downcast looks, he knew that something was wrong.
"Yoshimura hasn't been heard from for a couple of years, he was most likely killed in a raid."
"But my Dad spoke to him only a few weeks ago!" It took him a moment, an embarrassingly long moment, to notice that he'd exclaimed in English and not Japanese. He quickly repeated himself. "At least, he thought it was him…"
The three spoke quickly, far quicker than he could follow, in a language that he barely understood. Finally, they stopped, seeming to have come to some kind of a decision.
"Did you bring anything with you? Clothes, supplies?" The slim man asked.
"They're at our hotel in Shinjuku."
The girl rolled her eyes.
"What kind of Ghoul would be idiotic enough to get a hotel there?" She said, looking down at him, taking a sip of her coffee. "Give us the hotel info, and we'll get what we can. Sending you out into the world will be dangerous enough from how we've seen you move around."
The three dispersed, the slim man heading out into the street, a hood pulled up over his head. The man went into the back room, while the girl stayed with him, sitting on the bar with her hands in her own hoodie.
"Oh, god…" He groaned, thinking of what he was going to tell his Mom, if he could ever get word to her. How could Dad be dead? And who in the hell was the Death's Head Demon?
"He really is dead, you know." The girl said from her seat. Aeneas head whipped up, as anger gripped him. "The Doves don't mess around. And you two fools ran right into a raid lead by high ranking Doves at that. You're lucky to be alive."
"There's a chance he…" He said hopefully, more for himself than for her.
"No. There isn't. Your Father is dead." She looked away when she saw the tears running down his cheeks before continuing, "I know how you feel, they took my Father as well. But you need to accept it, now."
He covered his face with his hands, fighting the sobs that were threatening to erupt.
God, how did this all go so wrong? Why did this have to happen?
He didn't even notice that he'd fallen asleep, until the shining light of the next day woke him. Looking around, he saw that they must have moved him to a room above the café. The couch he slept on was hard and uncomfortable, but the pillow under his head was soft, at least. Sitting up, he saw a pair of familiar suitcases by the little room's door.
Going to his, he opened it and found most of his things. His passport was gone, though, as was most of his money. Taking out a clean shirt and pants, he quickly undressed, using the small attached bathroom to clean the dried blood from his body and hair. There was a note attached to the small mirror, pointing towards a neatly folded uniform.
A waiter's uniform?
When he walked out into the hallway, he found the silver haired man waiting for him. He simply nodded towards the stairwell at the end of the hall, and gestured for Aeneas to follow. To where customers were already seated and conversing.
"Yo, Ace," The slim man greeted him at the bottom of the stairs, "I'm Nishiki, by the way. Did you get all your stuff?"
When he asked about the missing passport and the other minor items, he shrugged.
"The Doves got there first. Place was ransacked. I grabbed what I could."
"Well… thank you." Was all he got out before the girl appeared.
"You're going to work here until we figure out what to do with you. So go start scrubbing dishes."
Looking towards the sink, he saw that there was already a rather respectable pile forming. The girl had already walked off to greet a group of customers.
"Wow, Touka doesn't like you." Nishiki said, chuckling. "Well, you better get to it. Renji, mind grabbing some more bread from the back?"
And that was how his first day went. He stood at the sink, scrubbing vigorously, as plates and cups and silverware made their way back to him. Towards the end of the day, he looked up as a group of several ghouls entered, conversed with Touka and Nishiki, and then departed. When he asked Renji, who had joined him at the sink to help, he'd simply gotten a blank stare in return. At some point, Nishiki's nickname had stuck as well, because, as he put it, his actual name was pretty stupid.
When the café closed, he was allowed a cup of coffee, and then was filled in by the trio of owners on what had happened.
"There's a gang moving in on our territory," Touka said, watching his reaction, "They've been trying to move against us for a few years, but we've always kicked the crap out of them. But it looks like they found some new friends."
"And you want me too...?"
"We'd like you to come with us." Touka said. "Since there will be a chance for you to feed, if you're hungry. We don't have enough supplies right now for all of us."
He was hungry, and so he ended up sloshing through a sewer, heading down into the underworld. The others, including who he thought were the Ghouls who'd visited the restaurant earlier, were masked. They'd given him an open faced motorcycle helmet that barely fit, a pair of goggles, and a bandana that he used to cover his mouth.
Touka took the lead as they exited the sewer.
"Ace, now's your chance to go feed." Nishiki said when he got out. "There are some guys down the street that should be pretty easy."
He nodded, and then watched as the group disappeared onto the rooftops. Putting his hands into the pockets of his only remaining jacket, he walked slowly down the street, doing his best to stay out of the pools of light spilled by the lampposts. It was as he approached another alleyway that he heard the sounds of a struggle.
"Stupid bitch, what in the hell do you think you're…"
Ace turned the corner, finding a pair of men groping a woman they'd pushed against the wall. He nearly spoke, but the smell of blood and the stench of a Ghoul assailed his senses. The two men slumped to the ground in pieces, their blood pooling.
"Well, hello there." The woman said, licking the blood off her lips. She wore a short, tight dress, revealing a large amount of her cleavage. She looked at him from under her slightly messy red hair. "You're new around here."
Ace didn't say anything, simply stood there, ready to run.
"It isn't nice to stare, why don't you come enjoy a meal with me, since these two won't be enjoying anything anymore." She held out a severed hand. "And I think you'll be a better date than these two turned out to be, anyways."
Carefully, he took the hand, stepping back away from her. Removing the bandana from his mouth, he ate in silence, never taking his eyes off of her. She watched him with her black eyes, just as he knew his own kakugan were staining his eyes. As he ate, the hunger that the shock of the last day had hidden asserted itself, and he ate voraciously.
"Who are you?" The woman said as she nibble on one of the men's fingers. "I've never seen you around here, and I've seen most Ghouls in the area. You wouldn't be the Ghoul seen with the Death Head's Demon, would you?"
He stopped eating, eyes narrowing.
"Who is the Death's Head Demon? I heard that name for the first time today."
The woman actually giggled.
"You're definitely that Ghoul." She said, sitting atop a body, her legs splayed revealingly. "Strange you don't know about the Death's Head, though. He popped up here decades ago, caused quite a ruckus when he started appearing in random territories. Rumor has it that he was a visiting American. Sort of like you."
"He was my Father." He didn't know why he was admitting anything to a stranger, but it felt good to speak to someone who didn't admittedly declare him an idiot. "And now he's dead."
"Death is such a horrible state of things," She said, smiling a sad smile, "Well, I seem to have lost my appetite. It was nice meeting you, American, I think we'll see each other again. You should come visit me sometime, here's where you can find me."
She removed a business card, taking a moment to place a bloody kiss on the back. He took it and pocketed it.
"I get lonely sometimes," She said, walking out onto the sidewalk, "So don't take too long."
Then with a wink, she was gone, and he was left alone with a pair of bodies. The strange, strange encounter with the lady Ghoul seemed to dissolve as hunger once again overtook him. Finally, after his hunger was sated, he took the card out of his pocket.
Helter Skelter? He read. Maybe…
He began to walk back to the manhole they'd come out of, but found it still standing open, the cover pulled to the side as it had been. Stopping and listening, he thought he could hear something in the distance, but the buildings closed in around him and muffled sound. Even his sense of smell was deadened, since all he could smell was blood from his meal.
He took off at a jog, the way they'd gone, straining his ears to hear anything that'd help him. That help was forthcoming, as he heard a massive crash and found himself having to skip over a body that had just appeared on the ground in front of him.
Skidding to a halt, he turned, and seeing that the body wasn't one of the people he'd been with, went to check on the fallen Ghoul. He wore a bug-eyed mask, making him look some kind of horrific science experiment. When he moved closer, he could see that he was she, and that she was still alive.
Shakily, she stood, looking at him.
"So… hungry." She said, sounding half mad. Her kagune, a massive tail-like appendage that burst from her lower back, swept towards him from the right, but ended up taking out the alley wall to Ace's left when he leapt over it, his own kagune manifesting.
He stabbed and stabbed, until the girl was unmoving. And then using his rinkaku, ripped the helpless Ghoul apart.
The sounds of battle were growing louder, and he soon found himself involved in a wild melee. An ukaku wearing the same bug-eyed mask as the first woman he'd killed fired shards at him, but most shattered harmlessly on his arm-shields. He retaliated with his rinkaku, a pair of the tentacles spiraling through the air towards the offending party. They were blocked by a muscular man, with a massive whale-shaped bikaku, which sent his own tentacles into the ground. Retracting them, he took a moment to look around.
"Hopefully you got enough to eat, idiot," Touka said as she, Renji and Nishiki came up beside him. The others were there as well, forming a circle in the middle of the apparently abandoned street, "Because we have bigger problems than feeding now."
They were surrounded, with dozens and dozens of figures appearing to line the sidewalks and the rooftops.
"This is even worse than we thought." Nishiki said, hand trying to cover a gaping wound in his shoulder that had yet to heal. "Who thought that Orca of all people would have joined the Flyswatters."
"Doesn't matter." Touka replied. "Now it's just a matter of survival."
Ace had his doubts about their chances, as the gang attacked.