Hayate came back after a few hours. He sneaked into the campus to connect the Intelligence department database to our servers so we could find our targets easily.
“Lock the searches to sudden abnormal high-pressure areas near chakushoku schools,” I ordered.
From our last encounter with those Shinigamis, I’m sure they are either hunting down Ariel Andrada or finding Sir Hideo’s daughter.
We started preparing for our mission and thank goodness Kana has finally recovered from her injuries. She seemed calmer now and I guess sharing the burden she was feeling about her clan helped a lot.
I still couldn’t believe how a single humdrum managed to hide from Erityians. We were sure Ariel Andrada is a humdrum but he just seemed too skillful that I’m having doubts.
“But why is Ariel Andrada in your village?” I asked and her shoulders tensed.
“I don’t know his motives or why he had to involve himself in this mess, but one thing is for sure, he shares the same crime of murdering hundreds of innocent people and I will never forgive him for that.”
I see. Kaya pala gano’n ang reaksyon niya noong nakita sa cctv sa una naming case si Ariel. She had been tracking her the moment she got in the FBI but that guy was always one step ahead of everyone chasing him.
“May I remind you again,” biglang sabi ni Hiroshi habang ina-adjust ang salamin niya. “Don’t turn on any of your communication devices. The Technology department might track us and with our limited resources, I won’t be able to hide our location.”
While the search was ongoing, we readied our weapons and started dividing our tasks. Hiroshi would be our brain and backup while Hayate would act as our eyes, fully utilizing his sixth sense. Kana and I would be the frontliners, and somehow, I felt happy that we were finally becoming a real team.
We wore the contact lenses that directly projects the readings on Hayate’s program and headed out. Malalim na ang gabi at paniguradong mas mahihirapan kaming kumilos pero mas magandang ngayon na kami umatake kaysa hintayin pa namin ang umaga.
“So, you can finally fight without holding back,” I commented while we were running through the buildings.
She smiled. “I guess.”
She was holding back her real strength for a long time and I only saw that twice—when she was facing some Shinigamis. Having a dependable partner would definitely give us a boost.
Habang tumatakbo kami papunta sa mga lugar na maaaring magbukas ang Black Dimension ay hindi mawala sa isip ko si Ariel Andrada. He was there during the annihilation of the Hansen Clan. He was with the Shinigamis, and that means they were allies. Yet, a few days ago, he almost revealed the existence of our race that pissed off two Elites. He was also an international criminal due to his terrorist acts, mainly murders by explosives and illegal trades in the black market, yet even the Shinigamis, who are known to eliminate unnecessary people, couldn’t touch him. Why?
‘Your thoughts are leaking out, J,’ Kana suddenly said. ‘Oh. Sorry. I wasn’t—’ ‘But I, too, have the same questions as you.’ ‘I mean, he’s just one middle-aged man and he seems like the type who can’t win a physical confrontation. I wonder how he survived both the FBI and Shinigamis.’ ‘He must be really smart, then,’ Kana paused and turned serious. ‘Or he has been deceiving us with some kind of trick.’
“Be careful, you two,” biglang sabi ni Hayate sa earpiece namin. You’re entering a high-pressure area.”
As if on cue, I felt the stillness of air in the surroundings and eerie silence of the night. Even Kana halted and reached for her weapon.
‘Someone’s here, isn’t it?’ tanong niya.
I nodded. ‘Yeah. I can feel its presence. Be careful. The Black Dimension might open anytime.’
A sharp, prickling sensation crawled onto my skin and my blood felt boiling that I almost passed out. The only time I felt this exhausted while tracking the Black Dimension was when Elites and most probably Royals came out of it.
My body moved on its own and the next thing I knew, Kana’s sickle was already against someone’s sword. I almost cursed when I saw who it was. His menacing smile greeted us as he easily disarmed Kana.
"He's here," I mumbled, alerting Hayate and Hiroshi.
Kana immediately stepped back and went beside me as Takeshi, an Elite, stood in front of us. Truthfully, I didn't expect to see him here. We thought we'd be confronted by Reapers but it turned out the higher ranks of the Shinigami tribe were also starting to move.
"I've been looking for you, Hansen," he said and that made Kana's shoulders tense.
According to Kana, Takeshi was the commander of the attack in their village. Nakita rin namin siya sa memories ni Kana pero noong huli nilang encounter ay hindi siya nakilala ni Takeshi. They were focused on finding the heir and Ariel Andrada, the humdrum who suddenly almost revealed the existence of our race. Kana was also already unconscious when they appeared in front of us.
How did he know about her this time?
"Keep the line open," rinig ko kay Hayate sa earpiece ko. I silently concurred.
"Yutomu," Hiroshi said. "They probably investigated the death of Doreen Doras and saw the same clues."
Kana's rage immediately reflected on her eyes.
"I didn't know there was a survivor. I made sure everyone wasn't breathing anymore when I left that piteous village."
His words were enough to drive Kana into madness. She charged into him but he immediately disappeared in the Black Dimension and a second later, he materialized at her blind spot.
I was about to lunged at their direction but Kana's instinct saved her. His ambush failed and Kana grazed his face as she slashed her sickle into the air. Takeshi winced and Kana's eyes looked more intense under the moonlight.
"I'll make you pay for your crimes, murderer," she growled.
Takeshi brushed the cut he got from Kana and stared at her. "No, kid. You will pay for the crime of your clan. You will tell me about the heir. That's—!"
This time, I was the one who initiated the attack. His words made my blood boil. Kana had to go through a miserable and tragic life because of him. I won't forgive him for mocking the lives of her clan member . . . of our own people.
He chuckled ominously. "I guess I'll present two heads to Lady Rin tonight."
The atmosphere instantly changed when he turned serious. His presence became too overwhelming that it almost suffocated me. He gripped his sword backward and the next thing I knew, he was already right in front of us. Had I not put my twin swords in front of me, my head would probably be rolling on the ground right now.
He retreated to the Black Dimension and I heightened my senses to track his movements. With our backs against each other, Kana and I waited for his attack.
'Sorry for dragging you into this mess,' she suddenly said. 'Well, this mess is actually a graduation prerequisite so we do not have a choice.'
She snickered. 'Right. I don't—' 'He's coming.'
Before I could react to his presence, Kana was already pulling me away from our position.
'What are you—' 'Bomb!'
Pagkarinig ko no'n ay bigla na lang may sumabog malapit sa amin. The explosion caught Takeshi's cloak and it could have damaged his limbs if he hadn't moved back to the Black Dimension. Napatingin ako sa paligid dahil wala naman akong naramdamang Shinigami bukod sa kanya.
"I thought that would end the three of you."
Sinundan ko ang pinanggalingan ng boses at napanganga ako nang makita ko ang isang pamilyar na mukha. However, I didn't expect him to just reveal himself.
"You're Ariel Andrada, aren't you?" tanong ko habang hindi pa rin makapaniwala sa mga nangyayari.
"Keep talking to him," biglang sabi ni Hiroshi.
"We're on our way. Don't let Takeshi and Ariel get out of there," dagdag ni Hayate.
Ariel Andrada still looked like his wanted poster from years ago. As someone who's labeled as an elusive criminal, I couldn't believe he just casually walked into this skirmish.
"You . . ." Kana snarled as she glared at the humdrum. "You were there. You, too, killed everyone!"
It was hard to keep an eye to the three of them, especially Kana, since she was on the verge of getting overtaken by her emotions.
I couldn't quite understand what was going on. Takeshi wanted Kana to tell her about the heir because he learned that she was a Hansen member. Hindi ko rin alam kung may alam ba talaga si Kana at hindi niya lang sinasabi sa amin pero nasa kanya na 'yon kung ano ang magiging desisyon niya. After all, that was her clan's legacy.
Then, Ariel Andrada came into the picture. He was with Takeshi and the Shinigamis when they annihilated the Hansen's village. After that incident, he became an international criminal and got the attention of FBI and CIA. He was chased for how many years yet nobody was able to touch him.
All people involved in that occurrence were all here.
"What do you want?" I asked Ariel while being wary of Takeshi's sudden attacks.
He smiled and I don't know if my eyes were playing tricks on me but I could see sadness and exhaustion in his expression.
"Peace of mind," he said as another explosion set off.
Bigla namang lumabas si Takeshi sa Black Dimension. I thought he would charge at us but the arrival of Ariel made him change his target.
"We're nearby," sabi ni Hayate kaya nakahinga ako nang maluwag.
"Where are you?" I mumbled. "It's getting dangerous here."
"Assist him," Hiroshi said and that made my brows furrowed.
"What the hell are you saying?" Kana grumbled. "Assist who? The person who killed—"
"That humdrum was used by the Shinigamis as scapegoat. I'll explain everything later. We need to bring down that Elite right now."
Napatingin akong muli sa direksyon ni Ariel at nakaramdam ng pagkamangha. He didn't have any sixth sense, yet he was able to keep up with Takeshi's attacks by using his own explosives and set of weapons.
'Kana, calm down,' I said, trying to keep the situation under control. 'Trust those two. They know what they are saying.'
She scoffed. 'What choice do I have? Even though I hate their guts, I know that their plans would always succeed.'
Napangiti naman ako sa narinig ko. 'Yeah. I'm sure they have their reasons.'
I took a deep breath and readied my weapons. Kana did the same. I lurched at Takeshi's direction and confronted him with my swords. When he was about to attack, Kana appeared behind him and grazed his arm with her sickle. By the time he looked at us, the ground where he was standing blew up and the impact propelled him against a tree.
Even Ariel was dumbfounded when he realized we were trying to help him but nobody said a word. We couldn't lose our focus because our enemy is one of the strongest Shinigamis out there.
With the three of us in front and those two as our brain and eyes, I was feeling a little hopeful. Now, it's time for the lone hunter to be hunted.