Moon Phase: Waning Half Moon
Naoki glanced up at the small church. It was apparently one of the oldest churches in Tokyo and so he had come here Sunday morning, hoping to scope it out during the service and discover if the angels were using it as a base.
A few stragglers were still entering the church. Naoki pulled up his hoodie, now with extra padding in the back so the horn didn’t poke through it, and came in behind them.
He’d never actually been in a Catholic church before. Plenty of time beating up Catholic, or at least Christian, angels, but never actually coming into a church.
He had to admit it was pretty at least. Light filtered through the glass, illuminating their gods and idols on the floor. A choir sang gently while people found their seats. Several were already kneeling in prayer.
Naoki stood in the back, trying to stay in the light so any residual glow the makeup couldn’t cover remained unnoticeable.
He continuously scanned the room, not even fully aware that he understood the latin the priest spoke in prayer. No strange people. No strange movement. No angels.
“Disappointed?” a voice whispered beside him during one of the songs.
Naoki turned sharply to his right. How had he not noticed this person? One blue eye and one red eye stared back at him, blonde hair pulled back to make sure they were fully exposed. The man leaned back a bit, a small smile dancing on his face.
“You know the answer, fiend who is not a fiend.”
Naoki felt his throat close. “The child and the old man,” he gasped.
The man bowed. Light reflected off his dark purple suit. “I am Lois Cypher. A pleasure to finally introduce myself properly.”
“Lois Cypher? As in…?”
Cypher grinned. “And you are Naoki Kashima, better known among some as Hitoshura, the human Asura, the demi-fiend.”
“You know your stuff.”
“Naturally. Now, what brings you here? Seeking religion?”
“My brother.” Should he tell Cypher everything? This was probably the one being who could help him, but it was also the being who had drove the magatama into his eye and changed his life so completely. He may not have cause the Conception, but he had certainly played around with Naoki during it quite happily. He also might actually know something.
“Your brother? Does he seek religion?”
“It seeks him.” Might as well. Besides, Cypher probably knew already. He seemed like the sort of being to have his hands in everything. Naoki leaned in closer. “About a week ago Metatron took my brother.”
“Metatron? Now that is interesting. He doesn’t usually stoop so low. Must still hold a grudge on you for taking him out.”
“Probably, but what does he want with my brother?”
Cypher motioned Naoki to follow him outside the main sanctuary. Wander off alone with this being wasn’t exactly on Naoki’s to do list, but he went ahead and walked out to hallway.
“That I don’t know, but I have sensed the presence of angels within Tokyo. Not a long angel here or there, but a congregation. Perhaps there you can find your answers.”
“A congregation? So they’re planning some big then?”
Cypher nodded. “Be nice to know what, but I try not to cause a stir.”
Yeah right. “Where are they?” Okay, so this was going to end up being another case of him being used to someone else’s gain. If it got his brother back he could accept the trade.
“St. Mary’s Cathedral in Bunkyo. It’s in the shape of the cross, and a center of Christian power in Japan, such as it is.”
“Does it get crowded?”
“Packed, but it has a noon service you could still make it to if you wish.”
Naoki nodded. The service would make a good chance to get a lay of the building and confirm the presence of angels. They were pretty unlikely to attack him in the middle of their own service.
A warm hand on his face. Naoki jumped just as Cypher pulled the hand away. Some makeup came with it.
“I see. That could prove difficult.”
“I don’t know how to hide it,” Naoki admitted.
“I never expected you to fully awaken again. Interesting. The horn as well?”
“Yeah. I had headaches before too, and I can feel the magatama squirming. I think there’s several in there.”
“Be careful. They don’t generally like each other and may even eat one another if kept together too long.”
“Not sure what to do about it. I think they’ll die if they’re left outside.”
Cypher nodded. “Come back after you have explored St. Mary’s Cathedral. We can discuss your findings them and I will see what I can do about the magatama. If the angels are being this pushy you may well need your full abilities.”
“Why help me?”
“You impressed me,” Cypher admitted. “And now you continue your war on the enemy with no hesitation. That seems deserving of something at least.” Another song began. “You should go before this mass ends.”
“When should I come back?”
“After you have done what you need to do. Even as early as tomorrow I should be ready for you.”
“I am nearly always here, and will undoubtedly become aware of your presence when you enter. Failing that, offer a prayer to me and I will come.”
“A prayer? To you?”
“Oh, don’t sound so sarcastic. Plenty pray to me without even knowing it.” Cypher bowed one more time. “Until we see each other again.”
Naoki half-heartedly returned the bow.
Okay, Naoki had to admit that St. Mary’s Cathedral looked impressive. It practically glowed from the sunlight and was, quite frankly, huge.
He wondered how many angels could fit in there.
He’d made it about ten minutes ahead and so decided to take a look around the grounds. They weren’t particularly impressive, but walking around the building made him aware of just how much space the giant cross took up. What an ostentatious display of steel and concrete.
His opinion of the building went up a bit when he entered the back of the main cathedral. All that ostentatiousness seemed to finally get somewhere. A cross shone down on the chapel, made of simple sunlight. It felt elegant yet simple to Naoki, a basic light trick to convey the supposed holiness of the structure. The people sitting and standing throughout the cathedral added to that sense more than any light tricks though. Some simply seemed to watch from the back, others bowed their heads in prayer, and some seemed completely awed by the lovely building.
Naoki closed his eyes. Cypher had been right. He could feel the angels here.
He opened his eyes again when the service began.
The angels were watching him. He pressed against the wall. He wasn’t here for a fight, not yet.
For a while the service went similarly to how it had in the first church. Then, the light grew bright and, to Naoki at least, harsher. The congregation gasped in awe, an armored and winged figure now floating above the altar. The priest fell to his knees.
A voice, Metatron’s, echoed through the chapel. “Devout ones, those who cry for the love of God. Those who seek only to better this world. Among you is a sinner, a true demon like none you have ever known.”
Was he really going there? Naoki stretched, drawing the attention of those closest him. It may not have been the right response, but he didn’t care. Sounded like he was about to get called out anyway.
Sure enough, the light moved to Naoki. All heads followed it. The angel, an archangel, pointed at him.
“There. See how it defies us. Now rise up to show your love and your faith. Destroy this monster.” Many of the people stood up, many others looked around nervously.
Naoki began hopping from foot to foot, finding his balance.
Angels appeared around the room. “Purify the land. Purify the air. Purify the soul.”
Naoki stepped forward, pulling back his hood. “Come and get me then, if you’re so tough, but leave others humans out of it.”
“You are no human.”
The room got very, very bright. Naoki could feel it washing away his soul, cleaning him like a razor. It hurt, but he managed to hang on. He’d been through worse. No matter what they did to him today, he’d been through worse.
The angels came at him.
Just breathe. Reach out. Feathers. Clench hands tight. Swing.
Naoki spun himself around, one angel in each hand. They screamed, ramming into their companions until the force made them limp. They dissipated before they hit the floor.
Naoki clapped his hands twice, kneeling slightly, like a man calling his dog. “Come on.”
Way too much time around Dante.
The archangel charged forward, sword leading. Naoki jumped to the side, grabbed the trailing arm, and pulled down. One punch to the face and the angel fell.
“Seriously, Metatron. This is all you’ve got?”
“Attack him, holy ones. Strike the monster down and be not afraid for you have God’s love and guidance.”
The westerners in the room charged first, but once they got going the Japanese and Koreans weren’t far behind.
How could he fight them without any fatal accidents? Escaping didn’t feel like an option, not without more information, but he didn’t actually want to kill anyone.
Would have been better if Metatron had just accepted his second beating.
Well, if back wasn’t an option might as well move forward. How often had he learned that the hard way?
Naoki set himself to running. He could outrun any human…probably.
Turned out the problem wasn’t outrunning them, but getting away in the first place. The cathedral seating three hundred, but held over a thousand and had, apparently, been pretty full. At this point everyone simply rushed him.
Still, numbers could be dangerous, even numbers of the weak. He couldn’t push through without thinning.
“You’re despicable,” Naoki called out. Then he punched one of the men coming at him. He jabbed a woman in the stomach with his elbow. Swing and kick. Two more down.
Naoki had gotten into plenty of fist fights before. Chiaki had a knack for always saying the wrong thing and Isamu tended to take every insult personally. Naoki had always provided the punches to back up those sad personality traits.
He could feel blood on his fists. Bloody noses and knocked out teeth. He felt fairly apologetic, even if they were being idiots and did attack him first.
Then a little old lady swung her purse at him. It likely held a year’s worth of supplies and reading materials, and it hurt. A moment later a man knocked him over the head with a bible.
Seriously? Did they want to die?
No, don’t think that way. Don’t kill anyone. Don’t lose your cool. You’ve been through worse. He continued to push through the crowd.
They began to grab at him. Any one arm could be knocked off, any one hands pushed away. People pushed at him from all sides, worse than Shinjuku station. Worse than New Year’s at a Shrine. And these people meant to hurt him.
His makeup began to rub away under their grasping hands.
He had to find Metatron. No matter what they’d been told, or by who, this didn’t seem right.
Someone grabbed his hair, pulling his head back.
Up there, in the center of the cross of light, Metatron watched over everything.
He had to get higher then. He had to fly. Or just gain suitable height. How?
Naoki slammed his head forward, freeing his hair and head butting a man in front of him. He shoved his arms forward to the next person, a healthy looking man.
“Alleyoop,” he called, using his arms and the hands which grasped to get onto the man’s shoulders. Now the trick would be not getting tripped. “You ready, Metatron?”
Now to move fast. Naoki began to run over the crowd. They tried to grab him, but many were too confused to accomplish much, and the kids couldn’t even reach him.
“Sorry. Excuse me. Coming through. Sorry for the bruise.” Naoki would have been lying if he’d claimed he wasn’t having fun with this.
One final leap and he had jumped passed the altar and onto the stage. Since everyone had come down to grab him it remained clear. The angels began to move in.
Time to climb.
Naoki leapt up to one of the angels, grabbing its wing and use it as leverage to make it to the next one. If they insisted on surrounding him he could get up there.
The wind grew harsh and fast.
Yeah, go ahead with your wussy wind attacks. He could use them for more leverage.
Almost there. One final leap, just hoping to make it through.
A gust of wind forced him sideways and through the stained glass. He landed hard on concrete, rolling through the church parking lot until a car stopped his progress.
Naoki opened his eyes. He could just make out a pair of black boots and the tails of a red coat.
“So, you really did want to wind up in a dumpster. Should have just said something.”
Dante. Oh thank goodness it was Dante. Relief washed over him.
Naoki blacked out.