Having escaped the fiery explosion, Rei and Takashi made it to the other side, breathing sighs of relief that they were able to survive the blast.
Time did not waste, nor was the unpredictable world ready to be merciful. The flames' heat they felt brushing against their skin, was soon replaced with a cold shock as another undead man grabbed hold of Takashi, pinning him to the ground as he felt its grip tighten around his collar.
The helmet that Takashi's attacker was thankfully wearing, persisted as a barrier as Takashi was fortunate enough to endure a mere headbutt. Had the zombie not worn the helmet, the results could have been much more grotesque. He could feel the pain from the headbutt throbbing in his face, but he mustered all of his strength to keep it away from him
With its teeth clacking and its eagerness for Takashi's flesh restless, it groaned as it continuously pushed itself closer and closer to Takashi's face
Those groans, however, grew silent as it fell limp, its helmet oozing with blood as Takashi saw Rei holding a now slightly damaged concrete panel in her hands.
Exhaling slowly, he shot Rei a nod after he gently pushed over the now lifeless body off him, relieved to have been freed from the additional weight that hung over him a few seconds ago.
"Takashi." Rei held out her hand. "Let's get out of here."
"Right." He exclaimed, standing up on his feet as she pulled him up.
"You okay?" Rei asked, putting her arm around his back for support.
"Yeah…" Takashi groaned as he let out a cough. "I'm good. Just need to calm down a little. I still a bit of the rush."
"Alright, let's just keep walking…" Rei sighed.
"What's on your mind, Rei?" Takashi asked.
"I…just wish he was still standing here with us. It just all happened so fast." Rei quivered as she masked her sadness with an extended exhale.
"I know." Takashi grumbled as he clenched his teeth. "I know. I don't want to talk about it. We've gotta get to the city!"
"No matter what Rei, we've gotta find the others! We've gotta keep going no matter how painful it is!
"We've already lost two-"
"REI! It's just us now, nobody else! Its what he'd want us to do. We can't stop now!"
"Okay…" Rei exhaled as she brushed her eyes with her sleeve. "But Takashi, are we really just going to walk all the way to the city?"
"If there's no choice then…yeah." Takashi stopped for a moment to look down a grassy hill that they were approaching. "Wait a minute. That guy we just ran into a few minutes ago. He had a helmet, didn't he?"
Both Rei and Takashi's eyes widened with excitement and relief, bewildered by the fact that there was an intact orange motorcycle resting at the bottom of the hill for them to potentially use.
"Alright…I'm gonna go get it. Sit tight." Takashi said.
"Right." Rei nodded.
In just a few moments, Takashi grabbed the motorcycle by its handlebars and adjusted himself to the weight as it stood up on its two wheels. Slowly, he pushed the motorcycle up the hill and back up to Rei. Getting on, he started it up to test its engine. It roared lightly Takashi gently squeezed the throttle.
"Do you even have a license?" Rei asked.
"Getting the ticket is the least of our worries right now." Takashi shrugged. "Come on, get on!"
The street was quiet, and the sun had finally set. The only contrast between the dark blue sky were the low hanging, functional city lights hanging over the city, still brimming with life when the former people he'd encountered along the way had lost theirs.
At the sight of his house, he was greeted with the faint sound of the ocean's water flowing onto the empty sands of a nearby beach. Akio sighed as he stepped up to the front porch, reached into his pocket to feel for a key, and used said key to unlock the door.
Opening the door to the familiar sight of the small living room, he quietly scoped the place as he closed the door. As the silence continued to persist, it was nearly suffocating to be surrounded by darkness and silence as Akio grazed his fingers against the wall, feeling for a light switch.
He took a breath as a dim lit was turned on, spreading its warmth across the room with its bright white light. Walking in, he slowly made his way inside the living room, sat himself down on the small couch, and leaned forward as he crossed his hands together and took slow breaths.
Akio's mind was a standstill as his many thoughts came to a halt, united under a crossroad. He asked himself, what should be the next appropriate course of action. Asking this question in his mind brought forth a similar sensation he'd previously felt hours earlier on top of the school: regret and anguish.
"Mizuki is gone, my son. I am sorry."
"I couldn't save her, father…what are we going to do? We can't let him shroud this world in his darkness. How can I stop him when I couldn't even save her?!"
"My son. Please…I know you tried."
"But a Jedi doesn't try. They do things."
"And that is a reality that we're no longer responsible for. I am very sorry to say this, but it's too dangerous to resume your training."
"For your own safety, I want you to come downstairs into the basement with me, so we may bury our ties to our Jedi traditions."
"But who will stop him father?"
"I'm afraid that at this point in time, it is not up to us. Akio, my son…I understand the pain you are going through right now, but we cannot risk anymore lives against our foe. I've already lost your mother all those years ago and I cannot bear to lose you a second time. So please, I beg of you my son! Take your lightsaber, take Mizuki's, and store them away and hope for the best. When and if the time is right, you may yet hold that weapon again some day."
Those feelings of regret and anguish subsided, eagerly replaced with an eruption of motivation and anger. Akio controlled his anger as he walked over to the wall and flicked the light switch off, once again allowing the shroud of darkness to embrace him once again.
Feeling his blood rush through his body as his heart rate rose, he made his way to a door, pulled it open with haste, and walked down the rigged steps, hearing the wood creak in each step he descended further and further into the house's basement.
As he stepped closer and closer to the end of the dimly lit basement, he kneeled downwards towards a large wooden chest peacefully resting on the basement floor, formally concealed by a rug.
Reluctantly, he unlocked the old chest, remembering the moment he'd closed it two years ago after his father instructed him to store it away. The first thing he spotted, was an old photo resting on top of the neatly stored robes that lay inside, in addition to a glowing green crystal necklace.
Astonished and yet saddened by the sight of these items, he picked up the photo and necklace, hastily placing them on the side for the time being as he felt around for the rest of the contents that lay within the chest.
He picked up his dark colored robes that he'd have worn as a Jedi, sighing as he placed them on the side. The final three pieces of content that were stored inside the chest were two lightsabers and a small telescopic storage tube.
The lightsabers that rested at the bottom of the chest were his own and Mizuki's. He picked up his own weapon, remembering the words his father said to him when he finished making it all those years ago.
"This weapon is your life. No matter what anyone says, you must protect it and care for it with all that you are."
Gently placing his weapon beside his robes, he picked up Mizuki's lightsaber, beginning to sob as he had to accept that the life that once cared for and wielded this weapon, was gone.
"Argh! I'm never going to be as good as you! Akio, I can't do this!"
"No, no…please. I want you to try again. I will help you, don't worry. It's not about who's better, its about growing and developing together!"
"I'm…I'm sorry. I want to be better, but you've always given me a hard time and-"
"That is something I too regret. Mizuki, I promise you this…if we're ever in a tight predicament, we're going to face it together!"
"But…" Akio quivered as he placed her lightsaber down and gently picked up the photograph.
Unable to hold back anymore, he sobbed at the wonderous sight of himself and Mizuki a few years ago, smiling at each other as they stood underneath Fujimi Academy's cherry blossom trees. He plucked the photo closer to his chest and sighed, understanding that there was so much more that he needed to do alone.
He couldn't give up. He wouldn't give up. It was time to fully embrace who he really was.