14 – Smoke

The next day, Askasa woke up late. 11AM or so. He felt weak, tired, and lightheaded. But as he pushed himself up from the mattress, he realized his hands were healed. And that was all that mattered. He looked around the house, the floor creaking beneath his feet, but could not find Opal. He soon gave up and left the home to venture outside.

Outdoors, it was hot and smoggy, the smell of something burning permeating his nostrils. Askasa didn’t think much of it, as the pollution from the main city always blew down into the slums. He simply covered his mouth, breathing through his fingers while he tried to find Hirun.

He managed to retrace his steps back to the alleyway Hirun and he used to call home. There was a tent there as well as Hirun’s hat, but no body. Askasa tilted his head in confusion.

“Hikari?” He called. No answer.

“Hikari?” He tried again later a few feet under an abandoned overpass, one of their old hideouts.

“He’s not here,” a rasping woman’s voice answered.

Out from the shadows peaked a teenager with pale skin and a head of short, thinning red hair. She smelled like rotting flesh.

Fortenra tightened the grip around his mouth and fought the overwhelming urge to puke while he somehow managed to ask the girl where his friend was.

The zombie pointed toward the main city, and for a brief moment, he thought he saw the girl’s intestines through her skin.

He quickly said his thanks and trotted off in the direction the zombie girl had pointed. Once he was out of her sight, he gasped for air. In comparison to her stench, the polluted atmosphere was like heaven in his lungs.

He walked swiftly the rest of the way with his hands by his sides. It was maybe thirty minutes later when he finally found Hirun, who seemed to be in some sort of argument with a boy named Buzz.

“You don’t understand, Hikari!” Yelled the short, dark blue-haired boy. “The Phoenix can’t die! She’s a God now! And she’s destroying half the city!” The boy pointed back to where a pillar of smoke was coming from.

Hirun had the harshest scowl that Fortenra had ever seen on his face, his green eyes seeming to glare through Buzz’s soul. His arms were crossed over his chest, his coat replaced by a ragged black sweater with the sleeves pushed up to his shoulders.

“I don’t care if she can revive herself a million times, Buzz. I’m not not risking anyone to go join her, or whatever it is you say you want.” Despite Buzz’s obvious frustration, Hirun still managed to stay calm. He spotted Fortenra standing near and began to turn away from Buzz.

“It’s over, just leave it alone,” he mumbled.

As Hirun turned away, Buzz clenched his fists and began to shake. Fortenra lifted a brow as a faint, high-pitched buzzing noise could be heard.

“You never understand!” Buzz screamed, pointing an open palm toward Hirun, who immediately doubled over.

The ground began to shake, and Fortenra covered his ears. Now he only heard ringing. Temporary deafness? Fortenra could see Hirun’s mouth moving, but it was as if they were in a soundproof room. Hirun grit his teeth and rolled out of the direct path of Buzz’s beam of sound, which was easily distinguishable by the craters it made in the ground.

In no time at all, Hirun had got up behind Buzz and had him in a choke hold. For a second, Fortenra’s hearing came back. But only for a second, as it was quickly taken away by the blue-haired boy emitting an extremely low frequency from his body. He’d become a subwoofer, and Hirun’s nose began to bleed in reaction.

Fortenra could only imagine what sort of beating Hirun’s internal organs were taking from this. Regardless, Hikari continued to tighten his grip. Finally, Buzz could take it no more and stopped his emissions as his face turned red and his arms went to Hirun’s.

Fortenra’s hearing was back now, albeit muted. As Buzz came closer to the point of passing out, Hirun started to show sympathy. He finally let go, Buzz falling to his knees and gasping for breath.

“Next time you attack me, I’m not gonna let go,” Hirun barked, wiping the blood from his nose with his arm.
He gave Buzz a light kick in the gut with his boot. “Get the hell out of here.”

Buzz scrambled to his feet, wheezing as he ran off, almost tripping over himself.

Once the boy was out of eyeshot, Hirun fell to his knees and started to puke.

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