Chapter One: Matt
Matsumoto Sakuraba, the 16-year-old lead singer of his band, the Last Minutes, was walking home from a busy school day. He had sighed twelve times... Yes, he'd counted. It was only a Monday, and it was all just too miserable. But somehow, he managed to keep his head up until his friend Daisuke came happily running up to him.
"Hey, Matt!" He called.
Matt (Matsumoto) looked at his childhood best friend with sparkling, yet fading, ocean-blue eyes. His light brown hair blew in the gentle, warm breeze.
"Yo," he simply said.
Daisuke looked Matt over, abruptly concerned.
"Are you okay? You normally don't use 'yo' as a greeting and you seem kind of... I dunno, down." Daisuke observed.
"Maybe. It just feels like I've been dreading something...,” he remarked, glancing up at the clear blue sky.
"Really?" Daisuke said sarcastically.
He put a hand to Matt's forehead.
"You are not running a temperature. What's up?"
"I don't think it's anything important. I think I'm just tired." Matt told him, running a slender hand through his hair.
Daisuke raised his darkish-blonde eyebrows as he looked ahead... They were almost to his house.
"Well, I hope you don't get sick or anything. We have that concert Wednesday, remember?" He said.
"Oh yeah," Matt remembered.
"You should probably lie down for a while when you get home." Daisuke said before turning onto his block.
"Right, I'll see you tomorrow." Matt said, waving him off.
While Matt slowly but gracefully walked to the front door of his parent's huge house, a pair of mysterious eyes watched him from the bushes. The eyes were the color of crimson, and belonged to a strong girl with golden hair. She was supposed to be watching him, to see if Grande Hayate would ever make his move and show himself. The girl was from the clan of Akahana, or red rose. Her leader, Daichi, had a premonition that this boy would be targeted by the creatures whose only motive is power; the Hideshia of the Underworld. She was there to make sure that the balances between her world, his world, and Grande Hayate's world stayed in place.
However, she doubted that they would not be in balanced for much longer. She decided that she would speak with the boy personally, to give him a heads up; he would need one if Grande Hayate actually showed up. She knew that the boy would be helplessly powerless against his pursuer, after all.
While she thought this over, Matt had finished his homework and had already eaten supper. Explaining to his parents how tired he was, he went up to his room for bed early. His room was up four flights of stairs, so it took him a while to reach it. When he reached it, and looked out the opened arched window, he saw bright stars that were already dotting the evening sky. The view of his window faced the side where there were no buildings, so he could see the stars at night. Matt liked it, and he thought it gave him inspiration for his music.
While he was in his big walk-in closet getting pjs, the girl from outside quietly snuck in through the opened window. When he came out of the closet, he didn't see her at first becaue he was so tired. The girl felt almost insulted when Matt walked right pass her, yawning a big yawn. Luckily she stopped him before he crawled into his bed. She put a hand onto his shoulder.
Matt jumped almost three feet in the air and fell to the ground with a small thud. Dazed, he looked up at the girl with crimson eyes and golden hair. She stared back with a fiery, determined look on her face. Matt blinked at her with an obliviously tired expression.
"You, child of Earth, are the target of a grave enemy-"
"Who are you?" Matt interrupted.
The girl's muscular shoulders tensed. Matt could almost see steam bursting from her ears.
"I, Akira Fuu of the Akahana Clan, am here to warn you of grave danger!" She nearly shouted, trying to stay calm, but failing.
Matt still only stared blankly at her, confused and tired.
Chapter Two: Akira
Matt looked up at her blankly. Akira had her placed on her hips. She stared down on him and watched as he scrambled to his feet.
"What are you doing in my room?" He asked, suddenly tense.
"I just told you: to warn your cute little head of grave danger!" She told him.
"Oh..." Matt muttered.
"'Oh! Is that all you have to say?!" Akira blurted, "You should be grateful."
"Well, what's the danger?" Matt asked, getting frustrated.
"Grand Hayate, of course; he's been targeting you." Akira explained.
"Who's that?" Matt asked. He was totally lost.
"Grande Hayate is a monster that belongs the Hideshia Clan, a group of more monsters that only want power. And they want you, for some reason..." She said.
Matt blinked and sat on his bed.
"So, where were you sent from to warn me?" Matt asked.
"The Akahana Clan of the 7th world, Hina-Chie," Akira replied proudly.
"Okay, wherever that is." Matt remarked.
"You mean you humans... Ah, of course you don't know! I'll have to explain it to you then. So then you'll understand the situation you're in; even if only a little. Anyway... There are thirteen alternate dimensions in your 'solar system'. I'm not going to tell you all of their names, but each one has their own superior Clan. Grande Hayate, the leader of the Hideshia Clan from the 3rd world of Haruka-Genji, is on the verge of taking over all thirteen worlds. To do that, he must take the most powerful thing from the worlds he conquers." Akira explained quietly.
"So then, that must mean... That can't be right!" Matt said, shocked.
Akira crossed her arms.
"Yes... No matter how absurd it may sound to you, you must know the truth. You must accept that your world has the weakest vessels. Grande Hayate is after you, so that he may destroy this planet's core of existence with your power after he consumes it. After all, the Absolute Law states that the only power that can destroy a planet is itself. That's how it sustains itself, even when the vessel dies naturally. It passes on in the same generation. We're lucky Grande Hayate's held off this long..." Akira said, narrowing her eyes and looking out the window.
Matt took the chance to think... It was all too sudden, he thought. He had a normal life, until now. Could it be a joke? After all, the girl looked to be a human too. How could she come up with all of that stuff?
"I know what you're thinking... When I first learned of it, I couldn't believe it either, when Daichi told me..." She said, almost to herself.
Matt clapped his hands together and crossed his legs and stared out into the darkness of the shadows in his room.
"What do I do now?" He asked.
Akira glanced out the window again. The sky had a fiery red color to it, but it was blue near the horizon. Purple streaks could also be seen across the starry sky. It was almost morning. Now the kid was going to be even more tired...
"Now you should rest. In the meantime, I will be watching you closely. I will not come into your house again unless it's an emergency. Oh, and lest I forget," Akira said.
She put a small green gem tied to a bright blue silk string onto his hand.
"It's a Contact Gem. I can speak with you through mine if I'm not in the same area as you." Akira explained.
She showed him hers; a red gem with a black string.
"Okay..." Matt agreed. If his life was in danger, he would try to trust this girl who seems capable of helping him.
"And if Grande Hayate comes, don't worry." Akira said, giving him a reassuring wink.
With that, Akira disappeared out the window and into the fading twilight.
Chapter Three: Shadows
The next morning, warm, crisp sunlight illuminated Matt’s room with rays of bright light… However, he himself was feeling quite the opposite way as the weather. He felt miserably tired and wished that last night would’ve been merely a dream. But the day, he knew, invited him to a rather crude reality check.
Why? Matt thought, Why did it have to be this weekend that this all happened? Matt snatched his pillow and put it over his head. Why?
He knew that Akira was watching him somewhere; he knew the event was not that of a dream. Besides, Matt still had the Contact Gem she had given him as factual evidence. Speaking of, he’d forgotten where he put it. He gave a sharp gasp. He frantically glanced around; feeling around his neck, but it was bare. He looked until he saw it on his nightstand.
He grabbed it, jumped out of bed and threw on some clothes; faded jeans, light blue jacket that looked like have a kimono and went about to his knees, and black shoes. In his pocket was a full wallet and chewing gum. He didn’t comb his hair though. He was so tired; he just stared at himself in the mirror for about fifteen minutes. When washing his face failed to wake him up, Matt went finally downstairs.
His parents had already gone and left for work. Yes, even on a Saturday! Sunday was the only day they got off. Therefore, he was alone a lot. Meaning maybe having somebody looking out for him would not be so bad… at least he hoped it wouldn’t. It would definitely take some time getting used to it.
Matt usually didn’t eat breakfast, so he went to a little café down the street and got a glass of hot herb tea with a bean roll. He breathed in the warm steam, and his nostrils happily cleared up and his brain slowly awakening from its slumber. He simply wasn’t ready to meet Akira and her fiery attitude this early. He remembered that, and her golden hair and crimson eyes. Speaking of, he thought he saw here in the back of the café from the corner of his eye, sitting in the shadows with her head resting on her hands. He wondered how long she’d been waiting there. He turned away and looked again, but she had disappeared. Matt shrugged his shoulders and decided to move on.
Then he walked to the Strip, a section of town where all the stores were and all of the kids hung out on weekends. There was a theater, arcade, video game store, clothes stores, etc. Matt’s ocean-blue eyes calmly skimmed the streets and sidewalks as he strolled down it. He saw one his best friends from school sitting on a bench. Matt was about to call him, but saw he was talking to a girl with long black hair and brown eyes. She listened intently as he spoke to here, leaning forward.
Guy Dylan was his name. He had spiky orange hair and bright green eyes. The girl’s name was Amaya Hitomi. From what Matt knew, Amaya was a shy girl with a dark way about her, and she was a straight ‘A’ student. What would a kid like Guy be talking to her for? While he pondered over this situation, someone crept up behind him. The first thing Matt saw was a long shadow looming in front of him on the ground.
His eyes quickly glanced over his shoulder to see a tall man wearing a black robe and carrying a long katana slung over his slender back. The man had long, graying hair tied back in a pony tail. His unrelenting, dark eyes coldly stared down upon him. Matt’s jaws dropped at the sight of him. The man towered maybe six feet over him, with heeled sandals on his feet in addition.
“You, Matsumoto Sakuraba, owe your life to my Clan.” The man remarked.
Matt was speechless. He could only stare with his mouth slightly open.
“MATT!” a girl’s voice screamed.
Akira came sprinting toward him, wearing a rather tight pair of red pants and an orange shirt with hoops on her ears. Her golden hair trailed behind her as it bounced on her shoulders. He looked over at her, coming back to earth, and wished he had not. The man behind him scooped him up underneath his arm. Matt gasped as the wind was nearly knocked out of him by the man’s pure strength. Akira skidded to a stop in front of him. Matt struggled to free himself from the man’s grip, but his effort was futile.
“Tatsuo let him go!” Akira demanded.
The man called Tatsuo soullessly gazed at down her golden head.
“What Clans are you from and why of all places are you here? These people can see you if you make contact with him you fool!” Akira whispered loudly, punching the air angrily with her fist. Tatsuo looked around at a few bystanders who were watching with their mouths dropped open.
His dark hair fell into his face, blocking his eyes.
“Then let us go to a private place.” He remarked.
“Will you let him go?” Akira asked as she nodded toward Matt.
Tatsuo slowly released Matt, who was stunned and dumbfounded. The man had just appeared out of nowhere! The only thing he saw was a shadow.
They had retreated into a lone alley.
“Now answer my question.” Akira demanded.
“I am Tatsuo Atsushi, of the Hajime-Daiki Clan of the fifth world Jun’Ichi.” Tatsuo explained.
“Oh, as if that’s supposed to explain everything.” Akira said sarcastically, protectively standing in front of Matt.
“Well… what else would you expect after thirty years? I’m one of the last Core Rank.” Tatsuo said.
Akira stared at up at him with a stunned look in her crimson eyes.
Chapter Four: The Soul Pawns
The Core Rank… Those words rang in Akira’s pointed ears. She stared up at Tatsuo.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” She exclaimed.
Tatsuo paused before he spoke.
“I do not ‘kid’…,” he said flatly.
Akira shook her head in disbelief.
“Why would one of you guys be here already? I’m doing my job right, aren’t I?” Akira demanded.
Again, Tatsuo paused. He looked at Matt, who was speechless.
“We need you to come with us and see if you’re really the Core Rank’s missing link of the Divine Sephiroth.” Tatsuo explained.
“You mean the Core of the Divine. Who suspected that?” Akira asked.
“General Moric Heng,” Tatsuo replied.
Akira clutched her fists.
“I’m going to kill that retard Moric! I hate that guy…” she muttered to the shadows.
“Well, that ‘guy’ is trying to save us all before it’s too late.” Tatsuo told her.
“Oh really, how do you figure that? What good is it to take him away? What’re they going to do, experiment on him?” Akira questioned.
“Only DNA-Blood tests- just simple procedures.” Tatsuo assured.
“I refuse to let you take him!” and just as Akira said this, there was a crashing noise coming from outside the alley they were hiding in.
The three of them rushed out to see what had happened. What they saw was an impressive sight. There was a giant gap in a department store that had been slashed effortlessly. Smoke escaped the gap and flowing into the darkening sky. Akira glanced around until she found the source of the slash: Soul Pawns…big ones.
“Matt, stay down. And whatever you do, do not move!” Akira ordered.
With that, she charged out into the light; a large scythe burning with flames appeared in her hands. Tatsuo gave him a menacing glare, one of which Matt thought meant the same thing as Akira’s verbal order. He cowardly hunched his shoulders and went back into the shadows.
“Tatsuo, we’ve got to slay these Pawns or else these people’s souls will be eaten!” Akira warned.
Tatsuo gave a single nod.
One of the Pawns finally noticed Akira and Tatsuo. They looked like long, black snakes made of shadows and fog. Their heads were a skull that featured eyes, nose, mouth, and fangs. Its hands resembled the arms and claws of a T-Rex. The leader reared its ugly head back and signaled to another Pawn. It was suddenly heading…towards Matt.
Akira grunted in disappointment and ran to the Pawn, stopping it in its tracks.
“Pawn of the Devil’s Left Hand, I command you to stop!” She shouted.
The Pawn looked down at her and cocked its head blankly. Without considering fighting her, it continued toward Matt. It was time for Tatsuo’s turn.
Tatsuo disappeared and reappeared by a smoky fog in front of the Pawn. Then he appeared on top of the Pawn, confusing it. He slid down the Pawn’s back while slashing it with his long katana. It screamed in pain as foggy human-like figures escaped the creatures’ back, scattering everywhere. As they did, the Pawn’s skull disintegrated and the whole monster disappeared. Matt, whom was still watching from the shadows, wanted to fight as well. But he didn’t know how… How did they think that he was the strongest one of all yet he didn’t have a clue about how to unleash his ability? Just how is he supposed to live up to what they allegedly expected out of him? As all of these questions flew through his mind, Matt suddenly became very outraged.
He began to shake in dissatisfaction and disturbance at himself. For the very fact that he could not believe in himself was going to end, and it was going to end now… so, unbeknownst to Akira and Tatsuo, whom were still fighting, Matt began to glow a bright blue color. The dark and murky alley way was vibrantly lit, with Matt’s suddenly released power. Around him, the ground shook. He stared in astonishment at the power that was being emitted… Was he truly releasing all of this energy and pressure? No…
Suddenly, another foggy, human-like figure emerged from Matt’s body. His body, meanwhile, was suffering from intense and persistent pain, but he couldn’t scream, not even make a little peep. Somehow, he thought he heard himself shout for Akira, who heard him and stared. Tatsuo also looked, and his dark eyes widened in utmost fear.
“Matsumoto-kun…?” Tatsuo gasped with visible fright.
“Matt!” Akira yelled while running back to him.
“What’s- happening to me?” Matt thought.
Suddenly he was out in the battlefield. Actually, he and someone else were. They looked exactly like him… What was going on? Matt thought. If he wasn’t in his body, how could it be moving? Moreover, how could he do all of these moves while fighting?
One of the Pawns charged at Matt. He saw it, but the other part of him was quicker. The quicker one winked at Matt and charged back at the Pawn. From what Matt could see, the other he had an interchangeable weapon; it looked like a long staff with a lengthy blade at the end. The weapon had intricate details, and it looked like there was some type of letters on the wooden part of the staff.
With the malicious-looking weapon, he jumped up at least ten feet into the air, dived toward the Soul Pawn, and slashed at various places in one moment’s time. It looked as if he were moving in blurs, so fast you couldn’t really see him… As if he was defying time by all means. Suddenly Matt himself felt the need to jump in.
He literally jumped in, almost copying the other part’s moves. They each landed on opposite sides of the Soul Pawn while it screamed in agony, light escaping the slashed crevices they made.
In about three seconds there were only two Soul Pawns left to sever. Together, Akira and Tatsuo slashed one up after their shockwaves had faded a little. Meanwhile Matt and his counterpart, if you will, sliced and diced the remaining one. They were victorious.
Yet somehow, no one else knew of it. The street that had been turned into their battlefield was deserted; they were alone. Except for one girl named Amaya Hitomi.
Matt stared at her, and she stared back with suspicious, narrowed eyes. It took him a while to figure out that she was staring at until she swiftly ran past him and demolished the last Soul Pawn that they had missed!
Matt stared at her. She wore a black miniskirt and a purple blouse. Her long black hair flowed down her back, blowing in the wind.
“Amaya-chan…?” Matt said.
Amaya deliberately strolled towards him. She almost scared him a little; there was a rumor that if anybody messed with her, as quiet as she was, that anybody was dead. He jumped when she got in his face, but suddenly the other part of him skidded in front of him and Amaya, blocking her.
“Whoa, back off lady!” Matsumoto 2 said.
Akira and Tatsuo marched up to them.
“Who are you?” Tatsuo asked Amaya.
“Matsumoto Sakuraba, you’re positively DEAD!” Amaya shouted in Matt’s face.
Apparently she didn’t hear Tatsuo; Akira instinctively reached for her scythe again, stunned by Amaya’s attitude.
“Me? Wh-what did I do?” Matt asked.
“Don’t play dumb with me!” Amaya told him, shoving a finger in his face.
The other part of Matt swiped her finger away.
“Knock that off! Whatever you think he did, he didn’t! It was probably me.” He confessed.
“No,” Amaya said snottily.
“Amaya,” Matt said softly, “What’s wrong?”
Amaya’s shoulders stiffened at his tone.
“You’re… not scared?” Amaya remarked.
“No. Should I be?” Matt asked.
Unexpectedly, Amaya burst into laughter. Akira, Matt and his counterpart laughed too. Tatsuo just looked confused.
“Why is this particular matter to be laughed at?” He asked.
“Tatsuo-kun, I’ve no idea. Just go along with it.” Akira whispered in his ear.
“Ah, right.” Tatsuo murmured.
“Now, I know what you two are here for.” Amaya said, pointing at Tatsuo and Akira.
“You…do?” Akira said.
“Yeah- him, of course, and whoever that is.” She replied.
They all looked at Matt’s counterpart, who stared back with confidence.
“I guess I must explain myself…” He assumed.
“Yes.” Everyone chorused.
“Well, you see, I am Matt’s, err… well, counterpart. He summoned me whenever he needed aid in the battle, all the while trying to figure out what he was expected to do. Therefore, I came in reply. He summoned me through courage and compassion, as… corny as that may sound.” He explained.
“Oh, that explains it, I guess.” Amaya said thoughtfully.
“Hm… yes, but what shall we call him, for the sake of confusion?” Tatsuo asked.
“Good question…” Akira said.
Matt tapped his foot in deep thought. They all rested their chins in their hands and thought and thought.
“Why don’t we call you,” Matt began, examining him, “Raiden?”
“Raiden…?” He repeated. “I like it: Raiden Sakuraba-sama!”
Matt laughed. “How about we just stick with Raiden for now, eh?”
Akira snapped a look at him.
“Are you serious?” She asked him.
“Maybe,” Matt said softly.
Akira gave a miserable and frustrated sigh.
To Be Continued…