Alone with Malik... It was definitely in his Top Three list of places he would not like to be. Malik's temper (and to be honest, sanity) hadn't made a good first impression on him, and he was not keen on another meeting with either any time soon.
Of course, Malik seemed to be the least of his concerns – as well as determined not to get too near him either. If what Isis had been saying about the daevas focusing on the gods to the exclusion of everything else was indeed true, then it was probably best that he didn't get too close, not if they wanted to actually achieve the purpose of this little mission.
At least he had Black Shuck with him to keep him both company and safe. The huge shaggy beast wasn't nearly as friendly as Gwyllgi, so maybe it was just as well that Gwyllgi was back in Annwn with Mokuba while Shuck was here with him. The temperaments fit, and Mokuba was a whole lot friendlier than he was.
In the pocket of his coat, he heard a phone ringing shrilly. Bakura had insisted he wear one of the coats against the damp weather of southwestern England, and Amane had presented him with a small cellular phone. "There's no sense in you having to keep an ear out for what Malik is thinking," she had explained. "This should solve that problem: keep you two in contact, while still allowing you to keep an ear out for the daeva."
He didn't think he was ever going to get used to these gods and their almost casual relationship with the modern world, the ones of them that actually associated with it anyway.
"Hello," he answered as soon as he got the thing on and to his ear. There wasn't really any doubt of who it could be; only a few people actually had this number, according to Amane, only one or two of which were likely to be calling right now.
"I spotted a few daevas a couple of blocks from where you are," Malik stated without preamble, instead cutting directly to the point. "It's a small café near the tourist office. There are three of them that I can see so far."
The phone disconnected with a very definitive click, leaving him with silence until he flipped it closed and slipped it back in his pocket.
This was it. This was what he had been brought here to do. Suddenly, it all seemed a lot more immediate than it had even half an hour ago when he had first come back to here from Annwn – and a lot more terrifying. After all, these were creatures that seemed to terrify the gods; they were certainly doing a good job of killing them; and he had the audacity to think he was going to try to spy on them?
The café near the tourist office... It could have stood to be a bit more descriptive, but then it was Malik, so what exactly was he hoping for? Especially considering the man – god – wasn't even supposed to be here with him? He wasn't even too sure how far away from him Malik was, just that he was close enough to be his backup if it came to that. Bakura wouldn't have let him leave if he wasn't going to be reasonably safe.
Anyway, he had a fairly good idea of where he needed to be focusing, which are and which building, so now it was just a matter of figuring out how to listen in – and if it was even going to be possible. He really had no idea what he was doing, but... but...
But this wasn't about him. This wasn't about him at all. This was about Bakura and the other gods and the world and...
What he was hearing wasn't any language he knew, that much was for certain. It didn't sound like any language he had ever heard of, for that matter. The time he had spent with Gouzaburou had given a few to choose from, and this resembled none of them.
A word at the time, the meanings began to become clear. It was no great surprise that they were planning an assault on Annwn, to be launched just as soon as they found the entrance. Glastonbury Tor, the place Bakura had mentioned as a way in, wasn't in the list of locations they were throwing out as potential paths. He tried to make note of all of the places they mentioned, so that Bakura and the others were aware of where they were looking: Saint Michael's Mount, Bardsey Island, Hadrian's Wall, Grassholm, and a few others.
It was almost reassuring. Maybe they were falling off the scent. If the daeva were moving on to new locations for the entrance to Annwn, then maybe they were in the clear. He didn't want to jump straight to hope, though. Hope was a dangerous thing. If they gave in to it and started to believe they were in the clear, then if the attack did ever come, they would be unprepared.
Plus it wasn't like he was a naturally optimistic person. If anything, he was everything but optimistic.
Either way, though, it might have been a moot point. The conversation was shifting.
As casually as he could, he flipped the phone back open and dialed Malik's number back. Suddenly he was glad that Bakura hadn't come with him after all, if only for his own tenuous grasp on sanity. He wouldn't have been able to stand hearing what he was hearing now about Malik if it was regarding Bakura instead. And that, he supposed, was probably why Bakura hadn't wanted him involved.
Two rings... Three rings... Why wasn't Malik picking up? Had they already gotten to him? Was he too late?
No more than a split second before the other number's voicemail would have picked up, an annoyed version of Malik's voice demanded, "What?!"
"They are here. They know you're here." It took an effort to keep his breathing steady and his voice level. Yes, it was definitely a good thing it was Malik and not Bakura. Whatever cover they still had was thanks to the fact he had not yet blown it by getting pissed off hearing his lover spoken ill of.
"I know." Though he had to say, he did not like this too calm tone of voice he was hearing from the god on the other end of the phone. "They're coming this way. Hang up and go back to Annwn. Get out of here. Let the others know what their plans are."
There was a click and then silence from the other end of the line. For a split second, he was too shocked for any kind of reaction, then it was only remembering that he was in public that kept him from throwing the phone.
There was no way – no way in hell – Malik was going to suicide on his watch. What did he think he was going to: play at being the vanguard that holds off the enemy to let the others escape to safety? Hell, no. He was going to--
What was he going to do? If all the gods in the world were being killed off by these creatures, what did he think he was going to do? And it was all happening so quickly...
The creatures before him barely looked human at all any longer, if they ever really had to begin with. Something in his mind sort of... slid as he tried to think of how to describe what it was he was seeing. All he could say for certain was that they were something that could only be described as both alien and not fully formed, like a lump of strange clay that had not yet been completely given shape. It was at once hideous and disgusting and almost more than his mind could handle – so he let himself look away at last.
Given the circumstances, Malik was slightly more appealing to look at. Every movement fluid and almost unhurried, he held two oddly shaped blades in his hands, calmly standing his ground against at least three of those creatures.
But then this was a god of war, he was gathering, who was completely in his element: fighting. And something told him that Malik would keep fighting until either all the daeva here were dead or he was. And how many other gods of war, completely in their element, had been overrun by the daeva?
And there wasn't anything he could do to help. All of his abilities seemed to be limited to hearing things normal humans couldn't. That would be of no help in a fight.
Why weren't people reacting?! They were walking around, going about their days as if there wasn't a battle going on around them. They were going out of their way to avoid the area where the fighting was going on, but it all seemed to be subconscious, like they were doing it on reflex, sight unseen. They probably were, he realized with a start. Just like his own mind kept shying away from the daeva and their currently hideous guise, these poor, simple, normal people just couldn't possibly comprehend what was going on. Their minds were simply having them move on as if nothing was there.
No wonder the daeva had been able to exist this long. You could go mad trying to stare at them too long, so it was just best to ignore them, subconsciously at least.
"Shuck!" Malik's voice, suddenly dark and commanding, shook him out of his daze. "Get him out of here!" Before he could even open his mouth to object, oddly luminescent purple eyes fixed on him. "Tell Bakura what you found out." All he could do was nod in agreement, words oddly stolen from him. "And tell Amane--"
That was all he was able to hear before he felt powerful jaws seize the back of his shirt, and the world disappeared around him. No, not disappeared: blurred. They were moving, faster than anyone or anything had any right to move.
This was not right. Black Shuck wasn't so tall as to be able to manhandle him like this. And there was no way any animal of Shuck's size could move so quickly.
And they were leaving Malik behind, alone to deal with the daeva. It wasn't right.
But maybe it was the right thing to do. The others needed to know what they had found out. If both he and Malik died, there would be no one to pass the information along.
No, it definitely wasn't right, but it was what had to be done.
30 December 2013
So... yeah, this chapter has actually been done for more than a year now. In fact, both of the chapter I'm uploading tonight have been done for more than a year. I decided to delurk and post them... and I don't know why. There doesn't seem to be a lot of interest for this story or my writing in general anymore, and I think the only reason I'm bothering is so that I can have content when I update my Dreamwidth with what I've written for the year.
If you are actually still reading this story or any of my others, you will note that Endless Loop is gone from FFnet. I'm rewriting it for publication at last, after talking about it for years. I hope to have the rewrite of Color of Life for sale by my birthday. The rewrite of Blood and Sacrifice I would like to have for sale by late 2014. The first of the superhero stories I've been finishing up will probably come out between the two of them, if Scrivener and Word will ever agree to my changes and edits.
If you are still reading this, leave a comment or something, so I know you exist. These are very dark times for me, since I've moved states for a job in August, lost said job in September, and have been unemployed ever since. I have internet solely because I still need it to apply for jobs. My roommate is working a job that she is more or less losing money at for us to be able to pay our bills, and I've borrowed more money from my mom than I can ever repay. I will not survive another year like this one, and I don't think the world will miss me much. So, yeah...
Anyway, one more chapter coming up. Later.