It was probably a testament to how weird the last month had been that he was already used to hearing the sword talking to him and that the sight of Duo with wings didn't really disturb him all that much. If anything was bothering him, it was the blood covering Shinigami. He was fairly sure none of it belonged to the god, but it still worried him.
::Stop mother-henning and concentrate on - Behind you!:: Kuzanagi yelled in his mind.
He whirled, automatically bringing the sword up to parry an attack. Blood washed over him as the God of Death withdrew his scythe from the demon's chest. How the hell was Shinigami so fast anyway? Hadn't he just been on the other side of the room?
Shinigami sent him a triumphant smirk. "Good thing I'm here to guard your back, eh, Ro?"
He nodded his thanks and turned back-to-back with the other god. "I think that one was yours anyway."
He heard the other man snicker softly. "Guess I need to show them not to mess with what's mine." Duo launched himself back into the midst of their enemies. There was an eerie silence as he listened, half-expecting the babbling Duo had done during the war while fighting.
::Hachiman, I mean it. Quit worrying, or I'm coming after you next. That's the God of Death. He'll be fine.::
Almost as one, the remaining five demons before him rushed at him. His arms shook from the shock of taloned hands impacting with the sword's blade, numbing his fingers till it nearly slipped from them. He grimaced and forced himself to hold onto his weapon. "Why did it have to be a sword?" he muttered to himself, moving to block the next attack. "Why couldn't it have been a buster rifle?"
In the back of his mind, he could Kuzanagi laugh, even as they took the head off the nearest demon. ::The better to torment you with, Hachiman.::
The buster rifle wouldn't have been nearly so annoying, he considered. At this point -
::You know I can hear you, right?::
- even a beam saber would be preferable to the talking antique.
::Who are you calling an antique? Are you out to see how long I can kill you? You may be a war god, but -::
And why the hell was it only starting to talk to him now? He certainly hoped it hadn't said anything like it had to him to Usagi.
::Of course not. Right now, I'm a sword, so I was waiting for a war god, one who had full access to his powers, if you're wondering why I didn't talk to you before.:: It made a sound that could have been a mental clearing of its throat, if it had one to clear, and when it continued, he got the impression it was a bit embarrassed. ::Besides, you don't talk to girls like that. Even I know that.::
Great, even the sword had better manners than he did, he thought sourly, as another swing of the sword took the arm off the closest demon. After all, it had been trained into him, both by Doctor J. and Morrigan, till he could practically fight in his sleep, but this was getting into the unusual even for him.
He just hoped it lasted.
A bloodcurdling scream cut through the air, and though it was only one voice, he could swear he heard it twice - and only one of them was aloud. Every hair on his body stood on end, and he slowly turned to face where it came from.
* * * * * * * *
Sneaking had always been hers and her partner's specialty, Haruka thought to herself as the pair slipped from room to room in the huge estate. She glanced to the side at the aqua-haired woman. Michiru's face showed only fierce determination. That was good. The whole situation was rapidly going from bad to worse. Not only had they managed to lose the Moon Goddess and gain a pain in the ass calling herself Amaterasu, not only had they allowed Morrigan to be turned into a demon and eventually be killed, but now they had managed to lose contact with Setsuna, Hotaru, and Quatre somewhere in this maze of a house. They'd lost contact immediately after a huge flash of light, and frankly, that bothered her greatly.
Michiru pulled the door closed to the room they'd most recently explored, and as one, they turned to face the door on the opposite side of the hall. "I've got a bad feeling about this," she whispered.
"Me too," Michiru returned just as softly. "We need to check it though."
Her heart was in her throat as she crossed the hall, her partner at her side and matching her step for step, but she pushed it open slowly and peered inside.
For a long moment, she had to wonder if either a can of red paint had exploded in this room or if someone had gone overboard with the Halloween decorations and just never took them down. It took her mind a moment to realize what she was seeing was not props or paint, but instead pieces of a body or bodies and blood. And in the midst of the gore and horror stood a small woman with long blonde hair plaited in two braids down her back. She wasn't nearly as petite as Usagi, but she didn't clear Haruka's shoulder. Blood streaked up her legs and arms, liberally caking over her boots and red armguards, a few flecks clinging to the dark outfit she wore.
Almost immediately, she whirled, a hard glare in her blue eyes and a sneer covering her face. A thin pale scar ran down one cheek. Haruka didn't have to look hard to see the woman's fury; it was written all over her. "Who're you?" she demanded.
Her words finally broke Haruka's reverie. "Who're you? What happened here?"
The blonde slowly rose from her defensive crouch, fists lowering. "You're not demons," she stated slowly, the faintest hint of a British accent in her words. "You're gods also, aren't you?"
"'Also'?" Michiru repeated, stepping closer. "Then you're one of us."
"Signe," the woman responded.
"Signe," Neptune breathed beside her. "The Elder Goddess... You came."
"That bastard Thanatos is going to pay for what he did" was the blonde's only response.
"Still," Haruka pushed, "what happened here?"
Signe glanced around at the carnage. "I saw a bright light and followed it here. All I saw when I got here, though, was blood and demons." A small but frightening smirk touched her lips. "Then I finished off the demons."
Michiru bent over to pick up a distressed piece of metal. Even in its condition, they could both tell it was part of Hotaru's glaive. "Then they didn't make it. We're down three fighters, and we've only gained one in their place."
"I'm not the only one who answered the call of Amaterasu's and Vritra's rising. Others will arrive soon, I'm sure." She glanced around again then fixed them with a hard stare. "We must make do with who we have for now though. Where is Amaterasu?"
"Upstairs," Haruka replied slowly, "looking for Vritra."
"Then let's hope she finds him and soon. She has not been risen long enough for her powers to have spread as Vritra's has. I'm afraid we are sadly outnumbered."
Haruka gulped and had to speak around the lump in her throat. "How bad is it?"
"At least ten to one and getting worse by the minute."
* * * * * * * *
"Your gods are losing, Amaterasu," the demon god taunted. "You have set them on a path to their deaths."
The blonde threw another ball of silver light at him, frowning when he dodged it. "They all knew the possibility of death existed going into this."
"Did you promise to keep them safe, Usako? Did you promise them it would all be okay?" She was silent, and he smiled. "You did, didn't you? You promised, and now they're dying."
"I did not promise any of them," she finally caved in and admitted.
"None of them, but you did promise someone," he reasoned. "You promised Selene, eh, Amaterasu? What was it?" He seemed to read her silence like a book. "The lives of those two boys back there then. Of course."
"Are you going to talk all night, Thanatos, or fight?" she goaded. "You are becoming perilously close to boring."
"Your promise is about to be broken, Amaterasu-o-mi-kami. One of your chosen is dying."
'No!' a voice screamed in her mind. It almost sounded like Amaterasu's own, but it was too weak and too far-removed. Had anyone else heard it, though, they certainly would have recognized it: Usagi had heard Thanatos' words as well, and she was not happy.
07 October 2004
Wow, the action is finally starting to pick up. I hope the few readers that have stuck by this are still enjoying it. It's really starting to tie up (at last), and I have to admit: I'll be sad to see it go when it's done, but I have a plan for that: there is a sequel planned to Gods that I've already started working on, called Apotheosis. Look for it after Gods is finished!
Let me know what you think. I live for reviews.