(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Neku shot another blast through the Horde, hand steadying his shotgun. Behind him, he could sense Shiki picking off the Infected one after the other, Beat whacking away at the masses with his skateboard and Joshua firing into the crowd, double pistols going off one after the other, simultaneously; either way, they worked as fast as his snotty mouth as far as Neku could be concerned. Within ten minutes, the Horde lay on the ground, decimated, gone. Neku reloaded one last time and sighed.
"That was a nice distraction," Joshua quipped. "Still, we need to do better than that, Neku."
It was an unanimously accepted fact that Neku was leader of the ragtag misfit group of Survivors. However, that still did not stop Joshua from getting on his nerves. Deliberately. As if to prove his point, a high-pitched scream/laughter/screech of "3.14159265" emanated from some location; a black mass hurled itself at Beat and began riding him about.
It would have been funny if not for their dire situation, coupled with Beat managing to ram into everything that could and would harm him. It took three shots to aim at and kill the... thing without the possibility of blowing Beat's brains out.
Neku shook his head as Beat recovered from his recent ordeal. They, as much as he hated to admit it, definitely need to do a lot better than that.
It quickly became evident that Beat seemed to be the cause of their troubles that they were not supposed to have. Special Infected tended to target him, Hordes came after him, and that was because half of the time, he was the one setting off the whole place. It still brought a pained smile to everyone's faces when they recalled the one time he alerted the Horde with his sneeze.
To that extent, Neku decided to try and introduce him to a gun. Shiki tagged along and gave tips, Joshua merely giggled amusedly and walked off to at least cover the group. At first Beat made quite a number of protests – he could kill zombies quick 'n' easy with his skateboard, thank you very much – after Neku yelled at him that their odds of survival could be so much higher should he just listen and learn how to use the bloody gun already, he quietened down.
It was going well, at least until he emptied several shots into a blinking car.
Neku swore to leave Beat to his own devices, and just that.
A week after their meeting, it was pretty set out for them what to do.
They were currently in a safe-house at Cat Street. There was several more in Shibuya – Towa Records, Molco, AMX, 104... However, the hotspot was at Pork City, where the last helicopter was scheduled to pick any remaining survivors up in around two weeks. That gave them a bit of time, but honestly? The faster they could get there, the better it would be.
Not to leave out the psychological pain. The Jockey – that was what the group quickly termed it – turned out to be Minamimoto-sensei after close inspection, something Shiki quickly excused herself from. They had run into the mayor of Shibuya, deformed and almost unrecognizable save for his suit and shades – they called his kind 'Smokers'. Classmates and acquaintances were shot down; strangers were often easier to deal with.
However, there too were some added benefits – coming in the form of hopes and goals. While Neku merely spurred himself on for his own survival, Shiki and Beat were looking for someone – namely a best friend and a sister, respectively. He did not know about Joshua, but he really could not care less. The effeminate boy could just... go screw himself.
After establishing their route to safety, they set out of the cafe they had barricaded themselves into, and into the district known as Shibuya.
As fate would have it, their first encounter with Witches turned out to be simultaneous with their second. It was not too much to say that it was not a pretty sight. Not at all.
Beat turned the corpse around and came face to face with-
Shiki quickly took a look at the other.
"Thank god it wasn't Eri..."
But before they left the area, Shiki dropped a pin over her body. A salute and a small bow later, and they left Ms. Konishi and Eiji Oiji's disputably number one fan behind.
They met Eri at Molco.
Shiki had cried with joy and hugged her; Joshua and Beat warmly welcomed her into the group. Neku merely shrugged and told her, "as long as you don't pull us down."
It would have been a happy ending, had Eri not started to convulse before leaving Molco.
"P-Please," the voice was high, breathy, racking with sobs – Neku did not want to hear. "Shi...ki... kill- " The last syllable shot up into a half-sob, half-moan. Her red eyes pleaded with Shiki's brown, her pink hair spread out on the floor like an unholy halo.
Shiki closed her eyes and pulled the trigger.
They ran into Kariya after a day or two. The irony was that he was moving more than he usually did, performing parkour as if he was born an acrobat.
The unfortunate part was that he was Infected.
Neku winced as he tended to the scratch marks left by Kariya's frenzy, Joshua covering him albeit with an onslaught of sarcasm-laced insults. It used to be Shiki, but Shiki was…
She acted too much like Eri, in the short time that Neku knew her. All that was needed was an appearance switch.
Frankly, Neku was unsure of whether to be uncomfortable, or… uncomfortable.
Shiki finally broke down at 104.
"What's the point," she had said, "Eri's gone. Mum and Dad's gone."
"I've nothing left."
Beat had been unsure of how to react or comfort her. Joshua had stared at her with something akin to disappointment in his eyes.
Neku had knelt down and told her straight out that Eri wanted her to survive, so get yourself together. He was not sure what he said or whether it was making the situation better or worse, but he had to do something.
When Shiki hugged him and whispered a 'thank you', he breathed again.
Beat found his happy ending in the elevator of Pork City.
'I'm fine, Beat. I'll meet you soon. R.' had been scratched onto the ceiling, noticed by Joshua who coincidentally had his nose stuck up in the air. Or at least to Neku's opinion.
Why. Why. Why?
It had been going fine. The crane makes a lot of noise – big deal. Clear out the Horde and just keep on driving it to the edge so that everyone use it as a ramp to get onto the helicopter Pad that had been isolated by earlier survivors who didn't want zombies to attack them when they were boarding the helicopter. Then… then…
Have someone go back down to drive it away so that Mr. Higashizawa won't be able to clamber up and pound them into mince-meat.
Why didn't he think.
Dull blue and pale violet met across the span of the roof. Shiki was crying not again Beat was being held back by Neku watchu thinkin' Phones prissy-boy's gonna Neku was just looking at Joshua, not believing he won't do this
They all watched as he doused himself in bile and threw himself off the roof of Pork City, bringing the Horde after him.
(And no one said anything as the helicopter came.)
So, the Special Infected are: Sho as a Jockey, Megumi as a Smoker, Konishi and Uzuki as Witches, Kariya as a Hunter and Higashizawa as a Tank. Or Charger. Whichever is scarier.
Joshua takes up Bill's role - I had the final scene in mind, but it didn't turn out the way I expected. Oh well. Shiki's scene was... rushed. Sorry, Shiki.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
"I heard there was a nasty bug goin' 'round lately."
He clipped a stray lock of hair up to allow himself easier access to the parts to be cut away. The customer continued talking, after an encouraging reply of 'mm'.
"It doesn't look like any summer flu, either. You get the sniffles and the coughs then but now? You get, I dunno, boils and warts and pustules, but it ain't pretty." He paused for breath. "Y'think it's serious?"
Sota lifted a lock up with a comb and snipped the tips of the hair off in short, sharp movements. "No idea, man. Central or side parting?"
"Up to you, you're the guy cuttin' my hair."
Side it was then, Sota decided. He managed to snip off a few more locks before the customer opened his mouth yet again.
"I haven't heard of a cure yet." He sucked in a sharp breath. "I mean, the folks 'round here are just poppin' pills down their throats and crossin' their fingers that it'll go away and leave no scars, and some are even rakin' in cash over this - but I haven't seen anyone yet, you get me?"
"I think you're over-thinking, man," he replied as he rubbed some gel into the hair. "It's just a summer flu. They'll call it 'warts flu' - we had swine flu, bird flu, fish flu, how will this be any different?" He was impatient to finish up - Nao-Nao was waiting for him at Molco and he did not want to be late for his date again.
"Yeah, you're right," the customer agreed after a few moments. "What's the worst that could happen?"
He clips up a rather long lock of hair, allowing access to the ones under. The air is heavy with the smell of sweat and blood, but overpowered by the scent of ramen bases and garnishes.
"Just cut it short and quick, kiddo," Ken Doi tells him. "Don't want any hair in my ramen - I have a reputation to keep."
They laugh shortly, lapsing into silence after a few moments. There isn't any reputation left for anyone, not with the customers wanting to bite your head off and the critics literally wanting to bite your head off. Sota is grateful he has some semblance of his previous life with easily accessible hair on his fellow Survivors' heads. Ken is grateful there are people eating his ramen, even in the middle of an apocalypse.
"That's all, gramps," he sighs and put his scissors and wet comb away. Ken gets up and heads for the mirror, an appreciative sound issuing out of his throat when he sees himself.
"Not bad, kid," he praises, and Sota feels a rush of pride. He is, not was, good at his job, and intends to stay good at it. "Now for your bowl of ramen..."
Sota joins the rest at the counter, where they are devouring their own bowls of ramen. Crackers and preserved food will never taste as good as fresh and steaming bowls of ramen, and they need all the energy they can get. Ken quickly passes him a large bowl of shoyu ramen and he enjoys.
"Are you sure you don't want to come with us, Mr Doi?" Mina asks. Yammer echoes the same statement throughs mouthfuls of noodles and Rhyme, ever vigilant, keeps a lookout. The zombies were still lumbering about outside and one can never be too careful. Ken shakes his head.
"I'm staying in Shibuya. Who knows, there might be others like you who needs a good meal to keep them going." He smiles good-naturedly and they can't help but to smile back. "Besides, an old man like me will only pull you down."
They all share a moment of silence and Yammer asks for seconds. And for a few moments as they laugh, they forget the zombies and live.
He slowly slotted a screwdriver into place, turning the screw with utmost precision. Modding pins was an art unto itself (as he read somewhere) and he revered it like a ten-years-old revering Tin-Pin Slammer.
...wait, that didn't sound quite right.
His rapidly crashing train of thoughts was disrupted by a door banging against its frame and the thundering of footsteps up the staircase. He quickly hid any and all evidence of fiddling with pins, precision be damned, and turned around just in time for Shooter to burst through the door.
"Yammer! You ready for our daily rematch..." Shooter's opening statement was interrupted with a series of hacking coughs that made it even obvious to oblivious kids that he was less than well. Yammer frowned and got up, mindful of the pins-in-progress to walk over to his rival.
"You sure you up to it, Shooter?" he asked, with only a bit of taunting in his voice. He had heard that people were getting sick, but he never expected the Tin-Pin champion to fall to the illness.
Whatever. It only proved that Shooter wasn't inpincible. (Haha, get it?)
"Yeah, man!" Shooter exclaimed, oblivious to his rival's devious thoughts. "I'm always ready for a Tin Pin match!" He sat down on Yammer's bed, dragging the worn out table they always used ever since they had started slamming. "Besides, Gramps already gave me some weird bitter mixture of his medicine, yanno?"
Yammer didn't really know, but he nodded anyway with the experience of a thousand years old sage versed in the art of Slamming pins. He sat down on the opposite side of the table and they began to slam.
As Shooter left later that evening, victorious but looking worse for the wear, Yammer thought nothing of it and returned to his pins.
Yammer quickly rifles through the shot-down zombies for any pins he could salvage. Behind him, Rhyme efficiently covers him, her blue eyes glinting steel as she shoots down zombie after zombie with her shotgun and pistols. He shoves them into his modded Tin Pin launchers and rejoins the fray.
The first pin he launches with a flourish, the hammer swinging out and catching several zombies smack in their foreheads. He ignores the blood, convincing himself that it is but a video game, one he played with Shooter two lifetimes ago before they got into Tin Pin. The pin clatters onto the floor, crushed, and he knows he cannot reuse it.
He then shoots out several heavily spiked pins, crushing in some foreheads. His shots are limited to headshots to be truly effective, or has to be close enough to penetrate the heart. He grits his teeth and drives some back, and shoots them when they are down.
Rhyme cries out for help, and he whips around and pulls the trigger to the skies. The pins rain down and she dives for cover in time, shooting along with Yammer and decimating the Horde. Something beeps, someone shouts 'grenade' and they all scatter as the beeping grows more frantic and the zombies gather to their deaths.
And it blows with a bang and that was the end of that. The stragglers were picked off and the street cleared.
Yammer returns to picking out pins from the mounds of dead bodies, pretending that the stench and too real gore was a part of a well simulated game. Mina reloads just to be safe, and Rhyme sits down in exhaustion as Sota covers them all.
Yammer cannot help but think it is all just a game to spur him on, but he revels in the feeling of being alive, a sensation sweeter than any game has to offer.
"...so that concludes our meeting," their head seraphim, Shiki, ended. "Any questions?"
Their meeting spot at Molco was abuzz and filled with anticipation for their plans. To send the Prince a get-well card (bless him) was already quite exciting, but it was not enough to go against their rival club. However, Nao-Nao had the most fabulous (F-her, they imagined the Prince would say) idea to perform a dance routine to one of his songs, post it up in a video on Nico Nico Douga as a get-well gesture instead of a silly card signed by all of the them.
No one questioned what significance did the dance have in relations to getting well, but that was minor details. Anything to gain an upper hand over them.
While Nao-Nao was to choose which song would best suit the occasion, Mina and Ai were tasked (they volunteered!) with the choreographing. Ai raised her hand, and Shiki nodded at her.
"When is the deadline?"
A collective gasp for no reason at all arose and the murmuring began. Ai slightly shrank down from the supposed peer pressure and Mina squeezed her arm lightly in encouragement.
"Good point, cherubim." Shiki looked thoughtful for a moment before deciding. "A week to plan, a week to practice and a week to put it all together. Of course, the faster, the better. Is this reasonable enough?"
General assent was collected, and they both sighed in relief. The gathering dispersed with a last practiced cheer to praise the Prince and copious amounts of screaming and fangirling, and the two best friends left Molco in favour of Spain Hill.
"Any ideas, Ai?" Mina asked curiously. It was Ai who first put her hand up when Shiki asked, and Mina had followed without hesitation. Ai shook her head, seemingly preoccupied with something else.
Ah. Makoto. They had a date later today, didn't they? Mina smiled and suggested that they meet up tomorrow instead, so Ai could enjoy her date. Her best friend blushed and denied nothing, and Mina laughed.
The green flu broke out the next day.
Mina tentatively knocks on the door of Shadow Ramen, and no one replies. The heavily barricaded door is an obvious indication that someone is there so Mina knocks again and calls out.
There is a rustling on the other side that has the rest on alert, training their guns on the door. Mina takes a step back, fully expecting a Tank to burst out of the shop and pound them all into oblivion because of her foolishness to detour from the planned path; but instead, a thin raspy voice issues from the separator and she drops to her knees.
"Makoto?" she whispers because that is what Makoto is doing. "Makoto, is that you?"
"Yes," it rasps back, "Mina?"
She almost cries in relief, and she has not felt this way after Ai had charged at her with an abnormally long neck and spat bright green acid at her. "Makoto, open up," she pleads. "Rescue is coming at Pork City. Come with us."
There is more rustling, and the door does not move. Sota picks off a few approaching zombies with a silenced shotgun and Mina asks again.
Makoto does not comply.
"Mina," he explains, "I have a better chance in here. I'm sorry, but I don't want to go." Mina sucks in a sharp breath, of blood and sweat and dead remains, and imagines Makoto smelling stale noodles and rotting steaks. She reasons and pleads, but Makoto does not budge.
As they leave for Pork City, Mina cannot stop the tears from falling and hoping for what could have been.
When they first met, they had the most unlikely choices for weapons.
Rhyme had been passing by Udagawa in hopes of finding Beat. When she entered the store and the clerk shot out at her, she grabbed a heavy chain pendant that looked like what Beat would wear and swung it several had then ran from shop to shop away from CAT's mural splattered in green fluids and blood.
Sota had been on his way to Molco to meet Nao when he was attacked. He grabbed the nearest sharp object on reflex and plunged it into their throats and foreheads. To this day, he swore the rust on his scissors were not just rust, but blood stains he had been unable to wash off. He was and is still looking for Nao.
Mina had been waiting at Spain Hill before Ai had ambushed her with acid. She had grabbed the bottles of ketchup and mustard and squeezed them at Ai's eyes in panic, before running away in hysterics and confusion. She has not seen Ai since.
Yammer had not understood what was happening when they found him fending off fellow Slammers that had turned into zombies. He had been hiding behind an overturned table and repeatedly yelling, "not funny, guys," over and over. It took a lot of patience and Tin-Pin slang before the situation sunk in and he grabbed his pin-modding set.
Rhyme was looking for Beat. Sota was looking for Nao. Mina was looking for Makoto. Yammer was looking for Shooter.
They were all looking for someone and survival, and that was all that mattered.
They pile into the elevator as the metal doors slide open too slowly, Sota slamming his hand against the highest button of the panel. The zombies lurch and charge towards them, and some make it through before the same doors slide shut - and are immediately taken care of with a frying pan to their heads. The lift shudders, and moves up.
Two. Three. Four. Five.
They patch themselves up, Mina first attending to herself before helping Yammer adjust his bandages. "What are the chances of a Horde up there, just waiting for us?" she asks softly. Sota merely grunts in reply, and they lapse back into silence. Yammer excitedly says something about the high chance of a finale and Mina cannot sigh.
Rhyme fingers a needle and reaches up for the only scratchable suface in the otherwise well-furnished lift. She stretches up but can only scratch the tip to make no marks, and before long it bends and breaks. Someone taps her on the shoulder and Yammer offers her a modded pin.
"Here," he says, "you'll have better luck with this."
She takes it and smiles.
Eight. Nine. Ten.
She is still too short, even with a firmer grip and on her toes. She teeters back and forth, almost losing her balance before Sota gently takes the pin and easily poises its sharp edge against the surface. He asks her what she wants and she complies.
Eleven. Twelve. Thirteen.
Mina takes her cardigan off and ties it around her waist, slotting in bile bombs, pipe bombs and pill bottles in the worn out pockets. Yammer touches his modded guns, absent-mindedly rubbing its barrels. Sota slides his scissors into his pouch, grabbing his shotgun from the floor. Rhyme keeps the frying pan.
They are ready.
They are out before the doors fully open, guns up and blazing. The only evidence left of their presence were old bandages strewn all over the place, the remains of corpses pushed to the side; and if one looks up, the roughly etched message left by a sister to her brother.
The door closes with a ding.
Now for explanations.
Why Sota, Mina and Yammer?
I chose Mina because I had plans for Ai - as a Spitter. You've seen how jealous she easily gets, and green acid; so that led to this and a Spitter she was.
Yammer was due to his pin modding skills. Between Shooter and Yammer, I believed Yammer would have a higher chance of adapting and surviving, since he willing to break rules. Shooter's 'red' spirit is very encouraging, but this is real life.
I needed a male to round the cast off, since the Survivors usually comprised of three males and one female. I almost used a shopkeeper until I saw Sota. Nao is not included as I have more background info on Sota compared to Nao.
What about Ken Doi and Makoto?
Ken Doi is a Carrier - somewhat like Virgil, but he simply chooses not to move. Makoto, on the other hand, is the parody of the church guy - he isolates himself because he knows he cannot survive.
Why so different from last chapter's style?
This style parodies the L4D The Sacrifice comic. And a couple of other fics from other fandoms. -whistles-
I hope you enjoyed it!