The older man tapped his chin as information trickled in from Jana's exploits. So the soul vein to the south was certainly the go, but with the group he had assigned himself, admittedly somewhat hastily, it would mean that head-on battles were certainly a no go. While Takuto's magic would fare particularly well, and Jana had some combat capabilities, their leader, on the other hand, had very limited combat prowess. He would have to rely entirely on his gun.
So that meant they would have to stick to the back alleys then. But even that posed some serious issues. If they were to be attacked, then close confines and Takuto's magic could prove troublesome. Gah, where was that imbecile when he needed her?
One deep inhale followed by an exaggerated sigh later, and Hector had made up his mind.
It was time to head outback it would seem.
Gesturing for Takuto to follow him, the duo weaved their way through a series of maze-like alleys. Despite their seemingly troublesome navigation, Hector seemed to be leading Takuto through them at a rapid pace without making a single wrong turn. He had already memorized all the potential routes, whether they be on the main roads or the hidden ones, while he had waited for his squad. He was a man that despised surprises and was a meticulous planner.
He was definitely the type to pack two weeks' worth of crap for a two-day trip.
Only once they had been traveling for roughly seven minutes did he finally stop, raising his hand and gesturing to Takuto to be silent. About five meters ahead of them was a hulking creature that was roughly 7 feet tall, which seemed to be like a fly, with octopus tentacles and tiny wings which seemed several sizes too small. There was no way around it, they would need to fight. However, it hadn't seemed to notice them at all yet...
Meanwhile, in the air, the situation was changing rather rapidly. Clouds seemed to be gathering at a rapid rate in the air the dark city. The breeze was starting to pick up, becoming stronger as the thick scent of moisture soon filled the girl's nostrils. A storm was settling in, becoming worse and worse at a startling rate as if it too was affected by the distortions. Just as the thoughts of landing would appear in Jana's mind, a creature, if one could even call this monstrosity that, swooped down from above at her.
It was a strange combination of a disfigured blob of living flesh, with five massive eagle wings, 4 stumps that looked to be arms that ended in blades of bone and looks that not even a mother would wish to be alive and viewed by others. All in all? A typical looking Zero Time monstrosity coming to attack the mage. It even went to waste its chances of a surprise attack, an unintelligible scream coming from its mouth, which by the way was located on the side of its head.
Cassius looked down at the Enishi, his features unchanged from his scowl as the girl seemed to be swearing fealty to him. "I won't require the services of a mere vassal."
Cassius almost instantly dismissed the girl with a wave of his hand. As amusing as this was to him, was this really the time and place? They had a job to do, and he a point to prove. Besides, he was only a branch family member. As much as it pained for him to admit, he wasn't really in the position to take a vassal like an Enishi. They served the main family after all."Issumachi? Tch. That means it's heading towards Rikimaru territory."
There must be a soul vein in Rikimaru territory attracting the monster. But wouldn't it be heading towards the far closer one to the south? This entire situation was a little bizarre in itself."Girl, make yourself useful. Circle round in front of it and stop it from proceeding."
Indicting to Kizuna, Cassius frowned, thinking for a moment. Unlike the other two, he would have to travel by foot so he would be the last to the scene. All he would need is to hope the two proved useful enough to stall the creature till he arrived.
The closer Maya got to the massive glowing creature, the more distorted things seemed to become. Even just random buildings and street signs were warped out of shape, some pixelated to the point where no one would be able to guess what it may have once been. But perhaps more importantly, the more monsters seemed to be gathering around this glowing pixelated mass. By now, there was at least half a dozen buzzing over the top of its head as it crashed through a hotel, knocking the large, forty story building to the side as if it was from a Kaiju movie. Had it always been this big? No...now that she was this close, she could see the throbbing vein on what one could only assume was the beasts back. With every throb, the glowing seemed to intensify and the creature swelled in size.
"Hahaha..ha...it's fine. Really Elliot."
The strained smile and the fact she was stuffing the report into her leather purse in a panicked rush certainly said otherwise. She seriously would be terrible at poker, or anything of the sort. At least everyone would know when she was lying or not.
Relieved that no-one else really seemed to be questioning it too much, besides a comment here or there, the group was soon on the move. After meeting with Artemis, Whina would shortly thereafter hold up the pouch from her pocket. The little blue, gemstone-like rock on the end soon began to glow brightly as a similar sensation soon pulled at them.
Whina seemed to grimace, the girl feeling sick to her stomach. Honestly, it felt like she was aboard a small fishing boat in the eye of a storm. She went a little pale as she almost threw up her dinner, but luckily the sensation soon faded before such an event could occur. Entering Zero Time had never agreed with her no matter how many times she entered. Thankfully, it was just the equivalent of really bad motion sickness....but still, it was an unpleasant inconvenience.
Saori as well would feel a little worse for wear, a similar or worse sensation washing over the older woman.
As the group got their bearings after entering Zero Time, Whina, in particular, taking a few moments to settle herself before hastily pulling out a small orb from her purse. Fumbling, the girl nearly dropped the delicate machine about four times before finally getting a grip and pressing a small green button on the side.
A detailed layout of their surroundings appeared as a hologram projected above the sphere, with several pulsing dots, amongst several other smaller flashing white dots. Each white dot was moving one way or the other, some in clumps of ten or more or others by themselves. The sphere seemed to be showing them the layout and location of monsters in an immediate 3km radius from where they were."Um...so this here is the one we need to capture first."
Taking a moment to look over the mini-map she had pulled out, she pointed to a pulsing dot to their south. It seemed to be located in the middle of a residential sector. A park to be specific. Whina remembered many a time as a young child visiting that park...though now wasn't the time to reminiscent.
Though as the group could see, it was surrounded by around roughly five to ten flashing dots. It was hard to tell as some seemed to be overlapping one another. With the group they had, such a number should be easy so long as they weren't overly strong Zero Time monsters.
At that thought, a loud shrill escaped Whina as the entire area around the group shook violently, knocking the younger girl flat on her butt in her attempts to not drop the valuable machine in her hands. She seemed beyond startled and surprised, hugging the sphere close to her chest as she quickly looked around as if to try and spot the source of the shaking.
Was it Zero Time's unstable state causing this? Or...something else entirely?
With no one seeming to have any objections, Maylis, Dieter, Nass, Rena and Rin made their way out of the room, leaving Alister by himself. As they walked, Dieter reached into his pocket and slipped on some rather ordinary-looking gloves...well except for the magic stones that lined the knuckles. Even Maylis was unclipping the sheathed sword from her hip, though she made no move to draw the katana, instead opting to tap the gemstones embedded in the handle. They were arranged in a particular pattern, each of the seven gemstones a different color. Every time she tapped a stone, it felt like a pulse of magic washed over the group.
In particular, this might annoy or make the two shapeshifters of their little group a little more uncomfortable, but Maylis was doing this with a purpose in mind. Once they reached outside, the stones she had been tapping were shining brightly even as the first drops of rain started to fall around the group."Once we're inside Zero Time, no one leaves my sight. Understand?"
Maylis' tone was like a mother talking to naughty children as the air around them began to shimmer, the stones glow intensifying. "Besides that, enjoy yourselves and look after one another. I'll only look to interfere if necessary."
With a smile, each of them felt a powerful pull on them. It seemed to almost be in every direction, yet no direction at the same time.
While Maylis seemed particularly unfazed, Dieter seemed a little under the weather for a few moments before shaking off the effects as they almost seemed to be dropped without ever leaving the group back into a far darker version of their previous location. Almost immediately, the loud crash of thunder overhead could be head as heavy drops began to fall around them. A powerful, chill-inducing breeze cut through anyone not prepared for its sudden coldness as the weather seemed to become ten times worse in the blink of an eye.
No doubt, they had entered Zero Time.
They weren't even given a moment to take in their changed surroundings before Maylis threw her hands up, a blueish sphere quickly enveloping the group before a group of five monsters crashed around of them, slamming against the barrier that she held up effortlessly as she turned to Dieter, looking at the team leader before the man nodded."Ok, so Maylis will lower the barrier in about twenty seconds so listen up."
The man was already tugging at the ends of his gloves as the stones began to softly glow. "As soon as she does, those monsters will gun straight for her. I'll take the two in front, Rena and Rin take the two on the right side, Nass you take the one from behind. Don't let them even get remotely close is the objective."
Crashing his two fists together, Dieter's mood seemed to switch rather drastically. He was always a serious individual, but now he seemed more determined than serious."Hell, whoever finishes their monster first I'll treat tonight once we're done ok?"
A motivation always proved useful no matter the circumstances, so Dieter hoped that would do the trick for the duo that seemed a little more...cautious about the others. They were a team, after all, a little bit of bonding wouldn't hurt!
As he finished talking, a smile crept across Maylis's features and once the others had gotten into position, she allowed the monsters to smash through and charge towards them. As Dieter had stated, they seemed to be charging straight for Maylis. It was to be somewhat expected if anyone knew anything about these monsters, to them, people like Maylis were like a massive flame luring in moths, or this case monsters.
As the resident shut-in traveled to her nearby convenience store, heavy rainfall seemed to be setting in, the rumbling of thunder overhead signs of what could be in store for later tonight. Luckily it was only a short walk to her designation, but without an umbrella, she would certainly be soaked to the bone before she could reach the location. On her way there, she would pass an alley blocked off by a police car, lights flashing as an officer was tapping off the area, another in the car talking into the radio and shaking his head. Obviously, nothing good had happened or was happening here, but that was hardly her concern or care.
Even if she tried talking to them, the police would just shoo her away after all. They were busy and had no time for annoying passers-by.
Rounding the next corner and she would, at last, find her desired location, the local Seven/Ate/Nine. Once within, a respite from the storm that was beginning to settle in on the city. She wouldn't be the only one inside, though most seemed to be sheltering from the rain, a few customers milled about despite the weather.
Soon after she entered, another person followed suit. They were in a dark cloak, though one could easily see the small frame and stature of the person beneath as it had been belted by rain. Once inside, small, pale hands, presumably from the cold weather outside, reached up as the individual in question removed their hood, shaking loose some damp, light pink-colored hair.
Despite having traveled in that weather, a soft smile graced her doll-like features, the young girl heading straight for the coffee dispenser for a hot drink. The girl was oddly exceptionally familiar, though it was just as tough to place a name to the girl's face. Slotting a few coins in and placing one of the many disposable cups under the dispenser, she rubbed her hands together as she awaited the warm, brown liquid that spewed forth.
Though it wasn't the rich aroma of coffee that followed, but rather the sweet scent of hot chocolate.