Disclaimer: I make no claim to the series, ideas, or characters of Full Metal Panic, nor do I make claim to William Blake's "The Tyger"
Author's Notes: I want to say that I am very sorry for such a long delay on updating this story. I suddenly realized that my original idea wasn't going to work out entirely, and didn't know quite where to take it. So, I started work on a different story, "Defining Normalcy," and decided to wait for inspiration to strike me before I tried to continue with my story. Months later… and inspiration still has not struck me. So, I took an idea and went with it. The story is developing again, so I hope it will be good. Now, we're bringing on the action. (I have watched far too many martial arts films to not include action in any of my stories.) I will now part with a tip to all of you writers out there: If you wait for inspiration to come to you before you write, you will never get anything written. The muse doesn't just come to us; we have to drag him/her out. I want to thank everyone for all of their reviews, and thank you all for being so patient. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy.
Chapter 12: The Eye of the Storm
By Adam Lakewood
Kaname was not surprised that there were so few people there. It was to be expected considering the circumstances and who he was, but it still made her feel horrible that there were so few people that would mourn his death.
She, Meredith, and Kevin had just walked through the door. Kurtz and Melissa were sitting in one of the middle rows. It took a second look for her to notice that the man with short, blonde, hair was Kurtz. It seemed as if he had decided to cut his hair before he came. It was also kind of odd for her to see him in a tuxedo; it just didn't fit with what she had previously seen him wear. Melissa was sitting next to him. She turned around as soon as she saw the door open and smiled at Kaname. She would have seemed to be just fine considering the way she was smiling if only her eyes weren't red and swollen. She threw up her hand and motioned for them to come have a seat. Kaname held up her finger to signal that she would take the seat in a moment.
She looked around the room to locate Tessa. She was sitting in one of the front rows between Kalinin and Mardukas. Tessa was sitting uncharacteristically slouched over in the chair. She was grasping a handkerchief between her hands.
Kalinin turned around to see who had just come through the door. His eyes soon settled on Kaname as a familiar face. He nodded his head in greeting. He looked over at the girl sitting next to him; he figured she would want to know that her friend was here. He raised his hand and moved it over to touch her on the shoulder. He hesitated for a second before he actually commenced to get her attention.
Tessa immediately looked up at him quickly when she felt his touch on her shoulder. His mouth moved a little bit, letting out a few whispered words, unheard to all but her. He motioned with his head toward Kaname while he continued to say the unheard words. Tessa looked over in surprise at where Kalinin was motioning to. She saw Kaname and smiled. She got up from her seat followed by Mardukas and Kalinin. The three readjusted the chairs and starting making their way over to the group who had just walked in. Kaname took a step forward to meet the three on their way over.
Kevin beat her to it. He was already three steps ahead of Kaname as soon as she took the first step. He purposefully stepped in the way of Kaname and Meredith's path to ensure that he would be the only one to encounter the three first.
Something had been bothering him from the second he, Meredith, and Kaname had arrived outside the church. His troubles were now heightened since he realized that Captain Testarossa was there. There were no guards stationed outside as there should have been, and there were no guards in here as there definitely should have been.
He nodded his head at the three in greeting as he approached them.
"Greetings, Captain Testarossa. I'm glad you could make it. How have you been?"
Tessa smiled as she looked up at the tall man towering over her.
"I suppose I'm alright considering the circumstances. Thank you for asking, Father."
"Kevin is fine, Captain."
"Then you may call me Tessa."
"Tessa it is. I hate to ask you this now, but I did not get an exact count from you earlier. Exactly how many visitors did you bring with you? I would hate for there to be an insufficient amount of seating in case there is a large number."
Tessa lowered her head slightly.
"I'm sorry to say that Sergeant Sagara will not be having many visitors; only Lieutenant Kalinin, Lieutenant Commander Mardukas, Sergeant Webber, Sergeant Major Mao, and I came."
Kevin tried his best to hide his worried tone and expression. He had no idea how well he was doing on that matter, though.
"I see. If there is such a shortage, any guards or soldiers you may have brought along are welcome to attend also." he said, still trying to keep hope that if something were to happen, he wouldn't be the sole line of defense.
"Thank you, Kevin. But, the five of us are the only ones who came. We did not feel as if the situation called upon my needing to bring guards with us. As Lieutenant Commander Mardukas pointed out, there isn't much of a chance that there will be trouble at a church. Even if there was, I've heard that I'm under the best protection available while I'm anywhere within a mile's radius of you." she said with a polite smile.
Kevin had to resist gritting his teeth and clenching his fists. This was not how he had planned. This would put him alone guarding everyone now. For the first time, he actually almost swore.
"Thank you, Tessa. I am quite flattered that you think so. It has become aware to me that you and Miss Chidori are well acquainted. I will not keep you any further. If you will excuse me…" he said as he politely bowed his head to her.
When he turned away from her, it was apparent by his expression that he was not pleased. He wasn't displeased with Tessa, just displeased with current amount of trained professionals there were, or the lack thereof. He quickly made his way for the door at a hastened pace.
Meredith looked at Kaname with a smile. They were both probably somewhat relieved by what was said. There was very little chance of what Kevin feared happening, but neither had liked his previous plan.
Kaname turned around to face Tessa.
"Hi, Tessa." she tried to say in a happy voice, but it still sounded sorrowful.
"I'm glad we're able to meet again, Kaname. I only wish it were under better circumstances." she said as she turned her gaze toward the casket lying on the large, marble up-rise at the front of the room.
"Yes, I know."
Tessa turned her gaze back towards Kaname.
"Kaname, I'm so sorry. I know this has to be hard for you." she said in a shaky voice.
Tessa walked up and gave her a light hug of comfort. It may not look good for her being a captain, but at the moment it didn't matter. When it came down to it, she and Kaname were friends. And, friends weren't afraid to show they cared.
Kaname pulled away and motioned towards Meredith.
"Tessa, as I'm sure you know, this is Sister Meredith." she said while looking towards Meredith.
Meredith held out her hand to Tessa.
"I'm glad to meet you, Captain Testarossa."
"You too. I have really…"
"Damn it!" boomed the voice of Kevin.
Everyone jumped in surprise as the exceptionally loud voice echoed throughout the large room in the church and almost stopped a few hearts.
Everyone jumped again when they heard the large, wooden, front door swing open and slam against the walls with tremendous force.
They all looked at Kevin as he quickly made his way back over to the group with a worried expression on his face. Kevin immediately held out an extended finger toward the back of the church.
"Meredith, get everyone down into the basement of the church immediately!" he commanded.
Tessa gave Kaname a strange, worried look as she did the same to Meredith who did the same to Kevin. Meredith stuttered a few syllables from the surprise of Kevin's uncharacteristic shouting and commanding before she was able to find words to speak.
"Why? What's going on? Why do you want us to go down there for?"
The questions came at a hastened pace for fear of not being able to get them out in time.
"Go down where?" questioned a casual voice from the large doors of the church.
Meredith turned around in surprise when she saw Kevin do the same. She immediately saw a long, blonde haired woman dressed in tight leather clothing standing in the doorway of the church leaned up against the support beam. Meredith had never seen the woman before. Sure, she looked out of place, but she didn't seem like the kind of person who would get that kind of reaction out of Kevin. But, could she possibly be the one Kevin and Kaname had been talking about?
Meredith turned around to question Kaname. Her question was answered for her when she saw Kaname frozen in fear as she stared fearfully at the woman in the doorway. Meredith immediately felt a tightening in her stomach as a reaction to the tense atmosphere.
"Too late." muttered Kevin with a sound of quiet exasperation in his voice.
Ace first took in the expressions of Kevin and Kaname, and then she finally turned a smile toward Meredith.
"You're Sister Meredith, right? No need to answer; I already know." she said before turning her head to stare at Tessa.
"And, I suppose that leaves you as being Captain Testarossa?" she asked with an expression which implied she needed no answer. "Good. That means I'll be able to kill three birds with one stone!" she said with glee.
Kevin was shocked when his mind quickly pieced together what was implied by her statement. He snapped a glance towards Tessa, the third bird, who was looking around having no idea what was going on. Kevin was falsely relieved to see that Kalinin and Mardukas had come up to where their captain was, and Kurtz and Melissa had likewise done the same. His mind immediately began working through several different strategies as well as what the weakest parts of the church walls were in order to make another quick exit from the church. If worse turned to worst, he saw at least four meat-shields in the immediate vicinity. Five including himself.
Tessa immediately took offense to the woman's implied meaning. She had probably never met anyone so disrespectful, disgraceful, arrogant, and curt in her life. She approached in a hastened pace up to the unknown woman despite the hands of her advisors trying to hold her back.
"Who exactly do you think you are?!" she commanded to know.
"Have you no respect or understanding as to what is going on here?! Do you have…"
Tessa stopped short when she was looking at the bottom of a leather boot which she could only guess was on the foot of the woman who was standing in front of her. She immediately went wide-eyed, sure she had been kicked at the speed of light since she hadn't even blinked her eyes and still didn't even see the woman moved. She managed to quickly take a step back from the kick so not to be hit. She stepped back quickly enough to be able to see that Kevin had a firm grip on the woman's leg, thus, having stopped the kick before it could connect with her.
In the quick second that followed, the woman used Kevin's hold on her leg to her advantage as she smirked, pulled down with the leg which Kevin's grip did not budge from which made sure she did not fall while her other leg was off the ground, and rotated her body around in a flexible way so to be able to deliver a solid, powerful kick to Kevin's head. She was quite surprised when Kevin let go of her leg just as quickly and grabbed the other before it could connect. He grabbed hold with his other hand and used the momentum of her previous spin to his advantage, spun around once with the flow of the momentum of the monstrous kick from Ace, and released his grip on her leg which sent her hurtling towards the wall.
Ace gracefully went into a back flip, landed in a perched position with both feet against the wall, adjusted her sight to Kaname who was furthest from Kevin, and kicked off the wall towards her with her legs.
Kaname shrieked when she saw the woman lunge at her from her position on the… wall. Ace threw a punch at Kaname as soon as she was within striking distance, fully intent on the blow being the first and last to the girl. To her surprise once again, the priest was a lot faster than she remembered him being from their previous encounter.
Kevin, with a speed matching Ace's, placed himself between Kaname and the quickly approaching Ace. He grabbed Ace's hand as she threw the punch at Kaname, ducked down into an agile supportive pose and expertly and gracefully circled himself around Kaname once again taking Ace around with him using her momentum to his advantage before coming to a stop in front of Kaname once again with her pressed slightly against his back.
Ace immediately realized he was going to try the same thing again. As she and the priest circled low around her previous intended prey, she planted her foot firmly on the ground before the priest had the chance to discard her again. She spun around on the pivot of her heel, likewise using the previous momentum to her advantage. The priest was getting annoying… again. But, this time he seemed more at the game than he had been before. She did not know why and she didn't want to bother taking the time to find out. She was still much more advanced than he was, so there was really no need to worry. Regardless, she would take him down quickly with her next death move.
As she spun around, she brought her fist across Kevin's face with the force of speeding vehicle and the expert precision of a sniper. Her mind immediately screamed 'success' when she saw the sweat fly off of the priest's face from the sheer force of the blow as it quickly turned to the side with a jerk. Oddly enough, she felt as if the punch did not contain nearly as much impact behind it as it should have. The priest spun around and down to the ground… but he wasn't unconscious.
Kevin rolled with the great force of Ace's blow. It still rattled his jaw, but it even surprised him as to how little it actually hurt. She seemed to be moving so much slower than she had been before. Or… maybe he was moving faster. It didn't matter as long as he was able to protect God's Gifted. He feinted unconsciousness as he spun around from the force of the blow. He once again skillfully used the circular momentum of the blow to his advantage as he placed one hand on the floor which let out a loud rubbing, screech against the marble floor as it revolved along with his body while giving it balance. He then planted the other hand firmly on the ground to stop his upper body from spinning, exerted his muscles in his waist in order to add more momentum to his lower half as he brought both feet off the floor and aimed them at Ace's chest.
Ace actually gasped in surprise as she saw the priest's counterattack. The attack came fast. It was so fast and unexpected that she had no time to dodge out of the way of it: only block it. She brought both hands up over her chest in the shape of a protective 'x'. The impact was harder than she would have ever imagined. The sheer force of the double kick actually rose her up off of the floor and sent her through the air before she actually lightly landed on her feet in a crouched position several yards away. The priest almost executed that attack as quickly and strongly as she could! How was that possible?!
Kaname stood like a statue. She feared that she may disrupt or be disrupted by Kevin's movements if she were to accidentally get in his way. So, she stood there as still as possible while he maneuvered his way around her with Ace in a very intricate dance. She also stood still for fear of what may happen to her if she were to get in the path of their fractal waltz.
She watched in amazement with her mouth hanging slightly open as Kevin came up out of his kick with both feet straight up in the air and instantly leapt with his hands back to his feet in a standing, defensive position. Whatever the priest was doing, she knew it was impossible for a human.
Her daydream state was interrupted violently when she heard the continuous reign of gunfire sing through the air like fireworks on a holiday. So many bullets flew through the air at their potentially dangerous target that it almost gave her the impression that she was standing before a miniature firing squad.
Kurtz, Melissa, Kalinin, and Mardukas had quickly brought out their concealed weapons and began executing with a prejudice like no other. All seemed to be very surprised when they saw the blur of the woman's arm shift through the air. If their perceptions hadn't been heightened by a certain degree due to time spent on edge in the field, none of them would have even caught the slight glimpse they did. They were even more surprised to see that she was unscratched and there was no chipped marble anywhere in the room to indicated they had missed.
Ace smiled at the group when she saw their confused looks. She loved toying with her prey. She loved it. Her hand opened slightly to her group of unwitting prey before her to reveal to them the answer to the mystery of where their ammunition had went after being discharged from their weapons. Her pride presented her with an heirish smirk once she saw everyone's astonished expressions. Or, everyone at least for the priest; he seemed to have been expecting it. Or… could he have seen it?
She didn't want to find out the answer to her question. She feared that the priest may actually have been somewhat of a threat to her completing her mission. She aimed with expert precision, thrust her arm holding the bullets forward, and returned the bullets at the five bodyguards at almost the same speed they had exited the guns. She doubted, however, that the priest could dodge bullets. She knew for a fact that none of the four with the weapons could either.
And, she was right. The priest couldn't dodge bullets. He simply didn't have to. He could block them. With an object not on hand to top it all off. She thought that she was the only person who could and ever would be able to do that.
The sounds of crunching and splintering wood filled the air as one of the church benches was brought up between the five people and the path of the deathly, accurate, thrown bullets. The bullets entered into the sturdy oak of the bench Kevin had brought up in less than a split second. He surprised even himself at what he did. Actually, he was astonished. But, he couldn't let Ace know that. He had to make her think he was capable of everything he had done the entire time. Everyone watched in complete astonishment as he twirled the twelve foot long bench above his head and brought it behind his back in attack position with relative ease. … With one hand.
Ace stared at him, studying his posture. It actually sent a shiver down her spine. He shouldn't under any circumstances have been able to do any of the things he had. She was impressed by his uncanny ability when she almost wiped him out in Colorado. But, now it seemed as if she were actually trying to kill him and was having a hard time doing it. It seemed as if the priest might actually be a challenge for her. She was nervous, but she couldn't let him know that. She had to make him continue thinking he didn't have a chance against her. She looked around the area with a faked casualness to take in her surroundings: something she had never had to do before. She realized that the room was large, but was still constricting to her maximum movement. The priest had an advantage which could end up making this an even battle in these confined spaces. But, by no means could she let him know this. She would have to play this off to her advantage.
Ace took on an impish smirk as she casually rubbed a scuff on her leather boot.
"Rather impressive, Priest." she said with a smile. "I was just going to simply kill everyone and get this over with, but it seems as if you may offer me a novice challenge that I wasn't expecting."
Everything had happened so fast that Kurtz and Melissa, as well as Kalinin and Mardukas only now had time to react again. Not to mention they were momentarily stunned by the concept of Kevin being able to stop bullets with a several hundred pound church bench. They immediately stepped in front of their captain and glared at the woman with such a look it seemed as if they could turn her to stone. She spared them only a moment of her glance before passing them off as nothing of concern. She turned her gaze back to the person who had her complete attention.
She looked at Kevin and gave him an innocent, sweet, smile that he imagined only Lucifer himself could have given.
"I absolutely love the idea of a challenge, but it seems as if I took you by surprise and you're at a disadvantage in these closed in spaces. I'll give you two minutes to meet me outside. Prepare however you wish, but do not even think about running away." she said as she dropped the smile from her face like a hot potato. "Or, I will make all of you suffer when I catch up to you."
Ace turned around and slowly walked toward the front door whistling an off-key tune, hoping she didn't get surprised from behind. She silently congratulated herself on sounding so convincing. Acting seemed to be something she could add to her huge repertoire of skills.
As soon as Ace was outside and had shut the doors behind her, Kevin finally gave in to the pain. He dropped the bench on the floor with a loud clatter and fell down on his knees with a groan of pain and grasped both of his throbbing arms with his hands. He hissed in pain as he tightened his grip on them in a vain attempt to sooth the pain. Everyone immediately flocked over to him. Meredith, Kaname, and Tessa immediately kneeled down next to him. Meredith lightly and reluctantly placed a hand on his leg, not knowing if the pain only stopped in his arms.
"Kevin! Are you alright?" she asked, still amazed by what she had just seen him do.
"My arms… legs too... I overexerted my muscles… they feel like they're on fire." he finished with another hiss of pain.
Kalinin politely motioned for Kaname and Meredith to move aside so he and Kurtz could help Kevin up. They lifted him, one by each arm, and sat him on one of the benches. Kevin relaxed into the bench with a pained groan as he held the thigh of his leg.
"Father Jacobs, who was that?! What does she want, and why does she want to kill these three?" Mardukas said, dropping all formalities as he motioned his hand toward Kaname, Meredith, and Tessa.
Kevin held up his right hand which was trembling from the excessive use of his muscles. He grabbed onto it with his right hand and gave it a hateful look as if to still its shaking with force and intimidation.
"Kevin. My name is Kevin. Her name is Ace. I don't know what she wants, nor do I know why she wants to kill them. The only connection I can make is because they are all three G… Whispered." he replied. "Kaname and I have already had the pleasure of meeting her once. She is not a person which can be stopped."
Everyone was silent for a moment, pondering what was just said and what they had just witnessed. Kaname, Meredith, and Melissa were busy attempting in vain to rub the pain out of Kevin who almost seemed as if he were only half conscious. Mardukas was occupied with trying to comfort Tessa who was still thinking about how lucky she was to still be alive. Kalinin's mind immediately occupied itself with coming up with calculations on the best forms of escaping. Unfortunately, none of the ideas had a very high percentage of any of them getting out alive. And, he didn't want to chance anything considering the last words Ace had said before she went outside to wait for Kevin.
Obviously, the scenario was getting too tense for Kurtz Weber.
"Hey! I don't know about her not being able to be stopped! You seemed to be doing a pretty da…" he paused, taking in exactly where he was at. "… darn good job at stopping her just a little while ago! Man, how were you doing that stuff you were doing just a little while ago?! It was amazing! I'd say you'll probably mop the floor with her!"
Kurtz quickly looked around him as if on guard to parry whatever attacks from Melissa may have been provoked by his recent uncalled for burst of enthusiasm. Oddly enough, and very much to his liking, there was no need for him to go on the defensive. She actually seemed to let something that almost looked like the cracking of a smile fleet across her lips. Kevin let out a humored grunt at Kurtz's remark.
"Honestly… I have no idea how I did it. Every reaction just seemed to be good idea at the time, and to my surprise, I was actually able to pull the most of it off." he said with an exhausted sigh. "I'm confused. During our last encounter, I didn't stand a chance against her, but now…" he concluded, not bothering to finish as he rose from his sitting position on the bench.
A loud crack sounded from his back as he bent slightly to the side with a wince. He immediately let his trenchcoat loaded with all of his assorted melee weapons fall to the ground with a loud 'thunk.' The shedding of the large leather trenchcoat revealed the soaked, white shirt clinging tightly to his body. It clearly showed the outline of the bandages under it which seemed to bring a contemplative look to his face when he actually noticed it. He pulled the adhesive-like shirt away from the bandages and carefully pulled it off over his head. He dropped the shirt on the marble floor where it landed with a loud, wet 'splat.'
Meredith winced when she saw all of the painful looking bruises which were starting to form all along his chest and back. She started to protest when he started to pull at the bandages wrapped around his ribs. Unfortunately, he let out a loud growl of frustration and spoke before she could.
"Would someone help me out of these things?!" he unintentionally snapped at whoever was around.
Kurtz, Melissa, and Kalinin immediately moved in to assist him in getting off the binding contraption.
"Wait! Kevin, your ribs are broken! Those bandages are the only things protecting your ribs if you get…" Kaname started to protest before she was interrupted.
"I don't care if I'm at risk of falling into pieces! These damned things are hampering my movement. If I have any hope of increasing our limited chances of survival, the last thing I need is something to get in the way of me being able to get out of the way!" he said, raising his voice in general frustration.
Kurtz looked around at Kaname and gave her a shrug. He then pulled out his pocketknife and began cutting off the bandages as Melissa and Kalinin did the same. No more than half a minute later, the final bandage was removed from Kevin.
Kevin did a few stretches to assess the total damage to his ribs and found them to be in a satisfactory working order. He took in a few deep breaths before split-stepping around and doing a few seconds of shadow boxing in order to limber himself up. Or… perhaps it was just to attempt to get his adrenaline working a little bit. If the situation had been different, he would have been excited about his new found abilities. But, excited would have been the last word used to describe him considering the circumstances.
He walked over to his trenchcoat and studied it carefully before finally reaching down and grabbed a piece of steel sticking out of the top of it. He rose up after grabbing it and started to pull it out. It was a bo staff made of a stainless steel. He twirled his chosen weapon around in the air to make sure he still had the feel for it before turning to walk towards the door. He stopped before he got to the door and spoke to the small crowd in the church. But, he dared not turn around to face them. He was currently in… that stage.
"I would command everyone to make a run for it, but I fear it would hold no result. Also, I would not like to test her last threat to find out if she were telling the truth. But, if I fail, Go… the Whispered must be protected at all costs. Mr. Mardukas, Mr. Kalinin, Ms. Mao, Mr. Weber… if I fail…" he paused to let out a sigh, trying to choose the bests words.
"… protect them as I would."
He said nothing else as he opened the door and walked out into the pouring rain.
"Be careful, Kevin." Meredith inaudibly whispered to herself. But, Kaname heard her. Or, perhaps she was unknowing saying the same thing.
"How are we looking?"
"Better, but still not good enough. Let Jacobs do his thing."
Rain poured to the point that it almost hampered vision. But, Kevin could see clearly. Yes, he could see. He saw her. The threat, the threat to all he believed in. The rain pelted harshly off of her leather clothing, and her long, blonde hair stuck as tightly to it as it did her body. Even he would have found her to be… appealing… if he had not known who she was. So, to him... she was the most wretched thing he had ever seen. … Second to himself, of course. But, that much was granted.
Ace turned around when she heard the large doors of the church slam shut. She looked around at the empty parking lot which seemed to have very small streams running along it with a huge puddle in the very middle of it where it dipped. She loved the setting. It seemed to be something straight out of a movie. She held up her hands to see them shaking. She squeezed them tightly into fists as she turned her gaze towards Kevin. She could still feel them shaking.
She hadn't been this excited in a long time.
Her attention was momentarily diverted to him due to her perception revealing that he had partially stripped. Despite the cold rain, he was going to sacrifice comfort so he could fight her with his all. How nice of him. The rain seemed to be repelled sharply by his well-formed bare chest and shoulders, his pants clung tightly to him due to the rain, the heavy rain beat violently against the metal pole he was carrying with him which seemed to make it sing its own melody in the air of the night, and his eyes blue eyes glistened with a never ending depth in the pale moonlight.
Staring at his advancing figure brought about an unreasoned reaction. She suddenly remembered what exactly he was about. He was a man of his so called 'God.' She thought him to be a fool, but he was far more advanced than any man could ever be. Perhaps he did have the power of some sort of deity? It startled her to even think about the unexplainable sciences which were going on.
He advanced… like an avatar sent to smite her. And, perhaps in his mind… he was. His glistening blue eyes alone shone like a fire which threatened to burn everything in its path. The pathetic words she had once read in a poem came back to her with the force of a hurricane's festive winds.
Tyger, tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night.
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
Kevin advanced toward her at a quickened pace as he twirled his staff around his shoulder and behind him. The staff threw and repelled the rain with such a force that the path of its circular movement could be seen glistening in the air with the falling rain.
Ace let out an enraged yell as she hesitated no longer in bull rushing Kevin. Obviously she took him by surprise when she dashed forward and threw her strongest punch at his face. The impact hurled him immediately to the ground. Ace pounced on him like a cat on the mouse and began bringing her fists down on him in rapid succession.
She smiled what seemed to be a sadistic smile as she pounded away on Kevin. But, unknown to whoever may have been looking, it was actually a smile of joy. So, the priest wasn't a threat to her! She had overestimated him. To her great delight, she had him straddled and was beating the Hell… or Heaven out of him.
She had positioned herself to where his staff was pinned underneath her while she was sitting on top of him. To her surprise, the staff slipped out from under her after the third hit. She didn't think much of it at first until it knocked her hands out from under her while she was leaning over to strike him again. She fell against his chest with a grunt before she felt the sharp blow of a knee to her stomach. She was raised up slightly from the weight of the blow and was immediately raised into the air by a harsh knee under the chin.
Unexpectedly, she was thrown several feet into the air by the force of his knee. As she tried to spiral herself back into a proper position for landing, she saw the priest spinning around before she was met with a pain which exceeded all pain she had ever felt in her life.
Kevin immediately stood when he kneed Ace off of him. To his delight, his simple knee to the chin actually sent her into the air and he was able to stand much quicker than he had ever imagined. He took it to his advantage that she was still in the process of falling back down even though he had already stood. He spun around quickly to gain force and momentum behind his blow as he snapped his metal staff outward at the end of the spin, aiming it directly at Ace's side.
Ace saw what looked like waves in the rain as the priest spun around quickly. The metal rod hissed out a melodic 'zing' as it cut through the rain with such force it made waves and a rather beautiful pattern in the rain.
The staff connected with tremendous force. The blunt rod would have easily cut a regular person in half, but Ace wasn't like any regular person. … It still hurt like hell.
Ace soared several feet through the air before landing and skidding across the parking lot and even skipped over the puddle of water in the middle of the parking lot like a skipping stone. She came to a halt on the other side of the huge puddle. She didn't do much in the way of moving, and instead held on firmly to her side, withering in pain. To her surprise, she had underestimated the priest. He wasn't just a mild challenge; he was deadly. Not to mention he was highly adept at using that stick of his.
She stopped rolling around just in time to see Kevin soaring high in the air. She thought for a second he was able to fly, but realized that he was only jumping as he started to land. Then, horror struck her when she realized that he was about to jump on her. Even worse, he had that stick raised into the air like a javelin. It seemed as if he had every intention of impaling her with that thing as if it was a national flag and she was unclaimed territory.
She rolled out of the way just in time. The staff stabbed into the concrete, sending pieces of rubble in all directions as it wedged itself firmly into the ground. To her liking, it seemed as if he had missed his chance to claim new land in the name of Spain.
That surprisingly… was Kevin. He pulled up on his staff once more, but to no avail. He had driven it at least three feet into the solid concrete, and it wasn't coming out.
Ace took her opportunity while Kevin was distracted. She placed her hand on the ground to push herself upward. She flew into the air to where she was head level with him. She was still lying as flat as she was on the ground and used this to her advantage. She shifted herself in midair to where her feet were facing Kevin's head. She brought her legs apart in a cross-scissor like motion just as he turned a surprised glance her way. His eyes spelled anger but his face spelled horror. Ace closed her legs first kicking him in the neck and the second to the back of the head. It should have broken his neck, but it didn't. Instead, the force of it sent him into a forward flip to where he landed hard on his back. Ace then placed one leg on the back of his neck, kept the other on the front of his neck, locked her feet together, and began to squeeze. Surprisingly, he still wasn't dead after the immediate pressure on his throat. She was starting to believe that he may have been made out of the same material as his staff.
Kevin let out a choked cough as he kicked frantically and in vain to get lose from her vice. He desperately swung his fist down at the top of her leg in hopes he might be able to break it, but Ace easily caught his hand in both of hers. She eased on down to where she was choking him with her knees. She then slid her hand down his wrist and forearm to get him in an armlock. She smiled at her ability and at the struggle she was having with putting this man down. She had never had to actually try to kill a person before. Finally, he stopped struggling, but she kept her grip to make sure he wasn't faking.
Suddenly, her grip slipped slightly from his arm. Not because of him pulling or because her grip gave out, but because his arm muscles had expanded. The muscles pulsed once again as they expanded. Her grip not as much a grip anymore as much as it was just a placement of her hands on his massive arm. She had to wrap the entirety of both of her arms around his just to be able to hold on. She almost shrieked when she felt his other arm violently shoot up between her feet, effectively breaking them from their lock. However, she kept her legs in a vice around his neck. He then brought his hand further up above her legs, grabbed her feet and strained to push them down. He actually managed to push them from around his neck down past his chest and around his waist. He took the other arm which she was holding and violently jerked it to his side. This caused Ace to slide as far up against his side as she could. She still had her legs around him, however, and squeezed as tight as she could with her legs.
This didn't settle too well with Kevin's already broken ribs, but he still managed. He brought both of his legs straight into the air and then brought them down as hard as he could against the concrete. There was a huge splash of water in the puddle as the force propelled him into a backflip. He aptly landed on his feet and only stumbled slightly but managed to keep his balance. Ace was gripping tightly to his left hand, so he tightened his right into a fist. He tightened the muscles in his left arm as much as he could and brought it up with all his might as if to uppercut some unseen foe. Ace, as expected, kept her grip but was brought up and over with his arm. While holding on with all she had, her legs lost their grip on his waist.
Kevin brought his right fist up to meet his left. As a result of Ace still being attached to the left arm like a leech, she was punched on the side of her jaw. It didn't hurt as much as she would have thought, but she was stunned. This caused her to loosen her grip on his arm for a split second, causing her to slip on down his arm before she tightened her grip again. She had slid far enough down his arm to be in gripping reach of the hand on the same arm. Kevin tightly wrapped his hand around her neck. She stared fearfully at him once she realized what had happened.
His eyes glistened with what she could only guess was a pure, murderous intent she had never seen before.
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?
Everyone in the church was gathered around the large window looking out at the fight. They were horrified to see what Ace was capable of and felt helpless, but were astonished to see that Kevin was her equal and felt a twinge of hope.
Meredith, who had known him the longest, was more so enthralled than anyone else.
"How… how is he capable of doing… what he's doing?" she questioned while struggling to find the words at the moment.
Tessa turned a confused look toward Meredith.
"You really don't know?" she questioned in response.
"No, he can't be one of the Whispered, can he?"
"No, that's not quite it. You see, Kevin's mother was a Whispered, but she didn't pass it on to him. However, a slight trigger did get passed on to him." she explained.
"And… what is that trigger?" Meredith questioned further.
"Other Whispered. Kevin picks up on the resonance that all Whispered have and transfers it into power." Tessa responded.
Kaname looked at Tessa, somewhat confused also by her explanation.
"But, I, a Whispered, was with him early this morning when this woman first attacked. I was astonished by what he was able to do, but it was nothing like what he can do now." Kaname informed.
"I understand. But, you see. Kevin's ability is above normal human capabilities without the trigger being present. But, they are doubled when there is a Whispered anywhere within a quarter mile of him. It is doubled again if there are two Whispered. You see, his power is cumulative. Currently… there're three of us. The more of us there are near him, the more his power picks up on the resonance."
Meredith nodded in understanding.
"Does he know this?" Meredith questioned.
"I don't know? What do you think?" she replied.
Meredith smiled slightly in response. The answer clearly came to her as she remembered what Kevin had always told her whenever she interrogated him about some of the remarkable things he could do.
"He gets his power from God… to protect God's Gifted."
Ace brought up her leg to kick Kevin in the stomach but couldn't get it in at a good angle since she was being held around the neck. She held on with both hands to his in order to stop from being choked to death in her reversed role. She desperately kicked him again, but at an only slightly better angle.
Kevin didn't even feel it.
What the hammer? What the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
Kevin smiled manically as he brushed a clinging strand of hair away from her face. It was a tender touch which seemed completely out of place and even morbid. But, to Ace the touch said a million words. Was this symbolic of the priest's willingness to forgive all of God's children? Or, was he just torturing her like she had him and Kaname.
Kevin pivoted around on his heel to where he was no longer holding her above the knee deep puddle of water and instead above the solid, wet concrete of the church parking lot. Without warning, he tightened his grip around her neck and slammed her as hard as he could against the concrete. Her head was the first thing to make contact.
Yes, he was just torturing her.
Ace hit the concrete with such force she bounced. But, to Kevin's surprise, she was not dead as soon as she hit, nor did it seem as if she were anywhere near dead, only wounded. The slightly bounce and release of Kevin's grip from around her neck was enough for her to slap the ground and send herself into a sideways spin. She extended her left leg out as far as it could and aimed it at the temple on the side of Kevin's head. She had to kill him now.
The heel of Ace's foot connected fiercely with the side of Kevin's head. He just barely managed to inch out of a killing blow. He immediately toppled to floor, stunned and knowing he wouldn't be able to get back up.
Ace lay still for a moment, breathing heavily and coughing due to the previous pressure on her neck. Not once had she went through one of that old man's training sessions that were anywhere near as challenging or dangerous as the battle she had just had with the priest. Whoever he was, he must have had someone looking out for him in order for him to have survived this long. Not to mention…
She listened carefully to hear that Kevin was still breathing. But, she knew that despite how much he had surprised her, he wouldn't be getting back up.
"You have got to be kidding me!" she practically yelled as she rolled onto her back and slammed her hand against the ground.
She let out a sigh as she rose to her feet and stood above Kevin. She brought back her hand which was shaking from such overuse of her abilities. She firmly outstretched her fingers and pulled back her arm, ready to use her spear-hand maneuver to finish him off.
"Father Jacobs, thank you. I've never had so much fun in my life. Truly, thank you." she whispered to him, almost solemnly as she brought her spear-like hand down towards his back above where she knew his heart would be.
When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?
"Come on! We have to move now! There is no more time! He's about to die!"
"Fine. But, you'll be down and out for a few months after this. Also, I'm taking over or else you'll get me trashed again!"
Everyone watched in fear as Ace brought her hand above Kevin for the killing strike.
"Kevin!" screamed Meredith in a cracking voice as she watched helplessly from the window.
Kaname fell to the floor with her hands covering her face at just that second also.
Everyone jumped in surprise when they heard a loud cracking of wood come from behind them. They looked around, fearing the worst, just in time to see the top of Sousuke's casket unhinge and fall to the floor with a loud clatter. They were startled again when they heard a loud crash. They looked back around to see that the large, oak doors had flown open from the inside, meaning someone had went out. Everyone exchanged confused looks, obviously thinking the same thing.
Kevin weakly managed to look around in time after she had whispered those last words to see his death coming at him.
Suddenly, there was a loud thud sound and nothing more. Ace was no longer standing above him.
Instead, directly in her place was a man in a tuxedo standing up straight with both hands held signature style and stiffly at his side with both hands balled into fists. His brown hair was slicked back, glistening in the moonlight due to the excessive amounts of gel used to fix the once completely unstyled hair.
The young man turned his head slightly to his right as if looking at something, and in the process he revealed a tell-tale cross shaped scar on his cheek.
Kevin knew who it was, but did not understand how it could have been. Somehow, he was more intrigued by what he was looking at. Then, he remembered. Where was Ace?
He looked in the direction that the young man standing before him was looking. He saw Ace tumbling, rolling, and flipping head over heels on the ground far across the opposite side of the parking lot. The force behind the propulsion of her unwanted path was such that it caused her to tear up all of the grass in the straight line that she skidded over the ground, leaving only fresh, bare soil where there was once lustrous grass.
She laid there, unmoving.
Kevin was astonished by the… distance. His attention was diverted back to the young man when he began to speak.
"XLT model 46M2. AI advanced issue P3." he said as he nodded his head approvingly. "Very impressive."
Kevin ignored what he was saying and went about interrogating the man for what he hoped… and feared may be right.
"Sousuke? Sousuke Sagara? Are… are you Sousuke Sagara?" he questioned, despite the obvious proof standing before him.
"Uh… kind of." he replied as he turned around to face him.
Judging from the way he looked, this could only be Kevin's dear friend, Sousuke Sagara. He even sounded the same, and even used the same… verbal tics. But, there was something different about him… aside from the fact that he just sent Ace a football field's distance away from them with an unseen blow. As a matter of fact, he didn't hit her. He just rammed her.
The light caught Sousuke's eyes in just the right position to reveal them clearly to Kevin.
He actually gasped in horror as he saw his eyes.
They were normal. But, inside they contained deep pits of spite, hate, malice, pain, death, grief, and an unlimited urge and need to kill. His eyes were startling. It was like he had just stared into the eyes of the Devil. No, he did stare into the eyes of the Devil.
Sousuke smirked as he motioned his thumb behind him toward Ace who was painfully pulling herself up off of the ground.
"Actually, I'm Sagara's temporary replacement. Right now, I have to operate for the both of us. And right now…" he paused long enough to turn his head to glance back at Ace.
"… she's on our shit-list."
He smiled with delight as he imagined thousands of different ways in which he would be able to torture and kill her.
And, those horrible eyes glistened. Those eyes… which housed a horrible flame.
Tyger, tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night.
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
TO BE CONTINUED
Author's Notes: If there is anyone reading this that enjoys poetry, I would highly recommend you read some of William Blake's poetry. It is simply fantastic. "The Tyger" is one of his most famous pieces.