NOTE: Okay, for starter's I just want to say sorry that this chapter is so poorly written. I don't have much time on the PC to really work as much as I want to when it comes to my stories, so it's all kinda slapped together. Spelling wise, I think it's all good. I have Spell Check on my PC LOL Corections are always welcomed, though. You and also view it on my deviantART account, here. I would suggest reading it there, as I actually took the time to Italize the text and such, making it more proper looking. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it, even though I know it's very cheesy, haha. Â» 1. The Unexpected Encounter Shekari cursed out loud when a sudden blaze of fire hit his shoulder. Having his cloak would have spared him the pain of the heat, but praise the Old Man up-stair's he left it with one of the young children who got lost during the evacuation, otherwise the weight from the water-soaked cloak would have just slowed him down. Having raced over to the city plaza without hesitation right after receiving an unexpected message from his sister, Shekari didn't really prepare himself for this kind of work. He didn't even know why his sister had requested his back-up -- not until he had noticed the bright red flame's and the dark cloud's of smoke raising from the middle of the city, that is. Now Shekari found himself on the fourth floor of the now-burning Harben Mall, drenched in water and muddy ash. That didn't bother him, though. In fact, this was his job. Five years' ago Shekari and his younger sister, Karey, started up their own organization. They called it "The Blue Moon Gang" (Though an organization, Shekari strictly demanded that they call it a gang.) The "gang" was set on helping those in need, whether it be exterminating demons or cleaning out the fridge. Though the gang was mostly known for the "exterminating" part -- that bit due to Shekari's great enthusiasm in anything to do with combat -- they mainly did small jobs, like repairing broken appliances and running small errand's that their client's are less than capable of doing. Or, in this case, saving people from burning building's. It was all a part of job. During some of Shekari and Karey's longer mission's -- something he nick-named the job's to make them feel more professional -- they met with a couple of people who seemed to "stick out" more than usual, and over the years they gained more member's; all whom shared Shekari and Karey's wishes to help everyone and anyone they could. It was his desperate need to save that kept Shekari from running out of the danger he was in. Many would call him insane, searching aimlessly through a burning building believed to be empty that could cave in atop him at any moment, but he didn't care about that. This was right; every part of his soul told him that. Someone's still here. A spasm of frantic emotions ran through him. Yes, there was someone left. He couldn't explain it, not even to himself, but he could somehow feel it, deep inside. Then he felt great pain all over his body. The thick, hot air cut the edges of his skin as if a thousand, invisible pieces of glass were brushing against him. His stomach felt empty, like his whole inside's had suddenly disappeared from within him and he was now completely hallow. His limbs were numb and cold despite the heat around him; cold sweat dripped from his face and the back of his neck. But the pain was nothing, not compared to what he had felt all night. It was the excitement. Pure adrenaline rushed through his veins like hot medal and pushed his body forward. It felt like free-falling in a strange way; an odd anxious, tingling feeling in the pit of his empty stomach, the world passing by in a blur while he fell with abnormal speed. He had never felt more alive! It was as if someone had just injected him with solid happiness and energy. He felt unstoppable. Invincible. Shekari knew it was a foolish feeling that was probably due to the large amount of smoke he had inhaled during his work, messing with his brain and causing him to hallucinate. But the feeling still ripped inside his body and he couldn't ignore it. This wasn't the first time Shekari had felt like this, either. A long time ago, someone else made him feel this way as well... Wiping off the small bit's of ember's that had burned his not-so-brand-new-anymore shirt, and ignoring the fact that his eye's were about as dry as raisins now, he continued his search for whomever or whatever it was that set such hysteria in the atmosphere. He abandoned any attempt's to explore anywhere besides the exit halls. Various clothes and accessory stores were now completely engulfed in flames and that made it very difficult for Shekari to do anything but choke on the smoke. His Spherica was strong enough to keep most of the heat and smoke from entering his lunge's and harming him, but even in his "invincible" state he could only take so much. Shekari ran up what felt like over a thousands flights of stairs until he came to a door with thick, yellow word's printed "F5 - PARKING" on the door. It must lead to one of those giant parking building's, he guessed. He taped the medal nob quickly with his hand, and was relived to find it wasn't boiling hot like the others he had tried to touch earlier. The fire hadn't spread as bad to the fifth floor. Shekari swung the door open, the cool night air immediately brushing over his body like a tidal wave. He didn't have time to enjoy the sweet taste of the fresh air in his lunges, though. The hyper adrenaline in his body pulled his leg's forward like someone had tided them both to a speeding jet. The parking was unusually empty, considering it was Friday and the Harben Mall was about the only tourist attraction in the whole city, but that was really of no importance. The lack of car's only allowed Shekari to speed much faster down the spiral parking. The lower he ran, the hotter it became. Once he hit the third floor, even through the cold sweat and numbness, Shekari felt like his body was on fire. His heart hammered against his ribs, breath ceased to properly fill his lunges, and at this point even raisin's had more moisture than his eye's did. But he still kicked open the door to the third floor exit -- knowing very well he would regret it tomorrow -- and continued his search... Â» Enter Kretsia Higarashoon She was just a simple girl of eighteen years old. She did her home work, made her bed and brushed her teeth. She obeyed her mother and showed compassion on others, always helped the needy, only ever listened to romance, classical or soul music, and didn't break any mirror's or walk under any ladder's for fear she would be cursed. She even ran a fund-raiser once at school for a children's Hospital. She never attempted to do anything bad, whatsoever. And yet bad always seemed to do something to her. She should have known the day -- and possibly her life -- would end like this when she woke up this morning and read her daily horoscope on WeSeeTheFuture.org, one of her many favorite websites. It read, "Sometimes Sunshine has to say goodbye and move away... Next thing you know a Storm Cloud becomes your new roommate. So make sure to bring a rain coat!" If she had known that this is what it really meant, then Kretsia would have locked herself in her room and waited until the horoscope had changed at 12:00 PM before she would even step a foot outside. Instead, she took the reading seriously. In fact, it was because of that stupid horoscope that Kretsia went racing to the mall right after school to go buy herself a rain coat that very day! Little did she know that a rain coat was the last thing she needed... Her face was so close to the map that the tip of her nose was almost touching the paper. She was concentrating hard, narrowing her eye's in a fail attempt of reading the small's word's that were suppose to tell her were she might be in this concrete jungle. A small ball of flame was sizzling on the top of the map, and had nearly burned her eyebrows straight off before she actually noticed it. She jerked backwards, head hitting hard against the wall, and she threw the paper far down the stair's. Kretsia now sat curled up in a small ball on one of the flight's of an Emergency Exit staircase of who-knows-what floor in the Harben Mall. She hid her head in between her knee's to keep the smoke out of her eye's, and breathed slowly through her mouth. She sobbed silently in dismay, her hope for escape slowly burning away like the little piece of paper. She wiped her eye's and nose on her sleeves, surprised that she was even able to produce tear's when she felt as though all the moisture in her body had melted away. Kretsia raised her head and try to look around, but heat and tears blurred her vision and the smoke made it impossible to see anything in front of her. She heard a faint sound above her, a strange thud noise. Kretsia looked up at the only door she could see up the stair's next to her. There was another thud, this time louder, and she could actually see the door shake with the impact of whatever it was pushing it on the other side. What on Earth was that? she thought to herself, narrowing her eye's so she could see through the thick smoke. The door shook again, causing her to jump. Kretsia suddenly gasped, breath sticking in her throat, and her heart begun pounding in her ear's as she imagined exactly what it was behind that door. Is it a monster!? She had once heard this story about devil's that snuck into small city's disguised as human's and destroyed countless thing's simply for the joy of it. Maybe this was one of them, the one that started the fire! She knew the likeliness of it being a firemen was not likely. Harben's public services were extremely low. Any public service in the city would either be handling the chaos outside or trying to clear the fire. Kretsia didn't have time to theories the whole situation before the door smacked open. She screamed and cowardly hid her face back between her knee's, too afraid to see the possible hellish creature. There was a muffled sound of coughing, then something shouted over the roaring flame's. "Is anyone down there!?" it asked, a small hint of victory and disbelief in it's tone. Well, it sounded human enough, not all raspy and rigid like she thought a mass-murderer with sixty set's of teeth would sound. But Kretsia still kept her head down, arm's wrapped over it like something was about to fall on her. For all she knew it could change voices too, and it was only using the voice of a human it had ate earlier to coax her into looking up at it's hideous face before it chomped her head off. No, thank you! She would rather spend her last hour's of life imaging sweet tree frog's and summer rainbow's. She heard footstep's, more coughing, then it spoke again. "Hey, kid, are you alright?" Something grabbed both her arm's. A bazaar tingle ran through out her body -- probably a spasm of fear at how suddenly close the thing was to her now -- and Kretsia screamed and pushed it away. "Whoa, wait, wait! I'm here to rescue you, for crying out loud! Don't freak out!" What, rescue? Someone was actually here to save her? Shock and disbelief caused her to finally open her eye's. Her heart burst with relief at the sight of a man before her, not a psycho creature. He was keeled down in front of her so that they both were at head level, his hands slightly raised -- no doubt for defense just in case she accidentally attacked him. He was somewhere in his early thirties, she guessed. Ash stained his skin heavily, making it hard to see any of his face feature's besides his crimson-colored eye's, making them both pop out like flashlights against the dark ash. Long, back, sweaty hair fell over his shoulder's, and fringe-cut banes spiked over a red band wrapped above his eye's. Dead ember's rested on his was-white -- or gray? -- button down shirt, and his faded black jean's were horribly ripped and burned. Despite the creepy eye color and ashy make-up, he looked 100% human! "Are you hurt or anything?" he said to her, slightly breathless. For moment, all she could do was stare. "N-no! I'm just fine," she stuttered, really unsure whether or not that was true. Her body felt too numb right now to notice any pain. "Perfect, now c'mon, we don't have any time to sit around," Without even bothering to wait for Kretsia to reply, he grabbed her by both wrist and pulled her to her feet. "Can you walk?" "Uh, yeah. I think so," Kretsia replied. She couldn't help but wonder what he would have done if she had said no. It was a funny thought for about five second's until she reminded herself that this really wasn't the time to imagine a complete stranger giving her a piggyback ride. The man didn't say anything back, but he let go of one of her wrist and pulled on the other, leading her quickly down the staircase. Kretsia struggled to keep up with his pace and tried not to lose her feet so that she wouldn't topple over him and knock them both down. "Why don't we go back up?" she asked, her voice shaky. "We can't," he shouted over his shoulder. A piece of rock fell in front of him -- Kretsia thought it much resembled a meteor -- and he pushed himself backwards to avoid it. He looked up at the ceiling, then at the large rock that was now rolling down each flight. "It's much worst up there, believe me. I hardly managed to find you without getting seriously burned." "But aren't--" She paused abruptly when a sudden spasm of coughing stop her from finishing. The man spun around and looked at her. "Are you okay?" Kretsia couldn't answer right away, but if she could Kretsia would have said something to do with the feeling that she should be the one asking that question. When he spoke she could tell he was fighting back the a very large urge to cough his lunge's out, and she could only imagine how exhausted he was by now. When the coughing stopped, she held her hand to her neck and spoke in a small, raspy voice. "Yeah, I'm okay now." He grabbed her hand again, this time a bit softer. "Keep you head low if you can and cover your mouth," he ordered. "At this point it won't help much, but any little bit will hopefully ease it enough for you to get out." Kretsia shook her head and did exactly as he said, and when the man was sure she was alright, they continued down the spiral staircase. The further they went down, the higher the temperature begun to rise, she could feel it, painfully. How in the world did fire even make it's way into a stairway, anyway? Somehow, even though everything here was hard-stone concrete, fire had still managed to burn through the wall's and ceiling. Kretsia didn't remember hearing anything about this mall being built with flammable concrete, so why did it still burn? There was definitely something strange about it, and it filled the pit of her stomach with worry and suspicion. It felt like they ran mile's before they stopped at the bottom of the stair's, in front of another door. Dark smoke leaked through the door frame and rose to the ceiling. Looking up, she suddenly felt very faint and swore her heart had switched places with her brain and was now hammering in her skull. Kretsia put both her hand's on each side of her temple's to ease the pain. Meanwhile the man expected the door. "I can't kick this one open," he said through large pant's. Kretsia could hardly believe he could kick down any door. It sounded too Hollywood for it to be actually possible. Plus he looked like a pretty wimpy guy. If he really was in his thirties, the action would probably break his leg. He suddenly turned to her. "Hey, kid whats your name?" She felt a bit offended by the way he addressed her as "kid," -- He's definitely an old man! -- but she ignored it. "Kretsia," she replied, unsure why a introduction mattered at a time like this. Something in his face changed just then, but she couldn't exactly point out what. He suddenly became brood! He seemed to quickly jump back to normal, though. "Hey, I'm Shekari," he said, then added, "You got anything in that backpack I can use to open this door?" Kretsia raised her eyebrows. "What?" She had completely forgotten about the backpack she had brought. Kretsia had raced over to the mall so fast, she must have forgotten to drop it off at home. When finally acknowledged, the weight of backpack suddenly begun to pull on her shoulder's as though one of the falling rock's had just dropped in it. "Like a shirt or something? Anything I can use to wrap over my hand so that I can open the door?" The answer seemed obvious to him, clearly, for he was looking at her as though she were stupid and his tone was almost smug. She pursed her lip's. "Why would I have a shirt in my backpack?" she said defensively. The man -- apparently named "Shekari", which Kretsia thought was a bazaar name -- rolled his eye's and turned back around. He took a minute to think before he grabbed the band from under his banes and begun pulling on it. Kretsia watched in strange awe as she saw it was really a long headwrap he had spun multiple time's over his head and lightly tied underneath his hair. When it loosened from his forehead and hair, he begun wrapping it over his hand for protection from the heat. Shekari stopped abruptly, though, dropping the headwrap and allowing it to untangle over his hand. Kretsia cringed her eyebrows in confusion, and slowly begun to lower her hand's from her temple's. She didn't like his expression; His jaw was clenched hard, mouth pursed in a straight line. He was looking at absolutely nothing, and yet it seemed his eye's were fixed on something far off, something only he could see. His head was slightly cocked upward on one side, as if he were trying to hear an unknown sound. The atmosphere changed, too. Something thick and heavily filled the air and made it even more difficult to breath, like invisible sap was slowly leaking atop them. Another one of those strange tingle's ran through Kretsia's body and made her shiver, despite the lack of cold. "What's wrong?" Kretsia asked, though she wasn't sure if she really wanted to hear the answer. He instantly jerked his head and looked straight at her, his sharp gaze sending another shiver through Kretsia. Just then she looked into his crimson stare -- seeming so suddenly transparent now -- and saw something she hadn't expected to... "Get back!"