Tokyo Haneda Airport

It’s not that hard to spot Max Black and Vesta: even though they’re far from being the only foreigners at the airport, the African-American and the redheaded Amazonian beauty are hard to miss. Kari Zel is waving excitedly at them, almost bouncing on her feet as she walks towards them.

-It’s so good to see you guys! You have no idea how much I missed you!

-We talked like five minutes ago – Max answers.

-That was the original Kari, Max, this is one of her duplicates – Vesta explains.

-By the way, can you please tell the real me to catch up every once in a while? I know there’s hundreds of me all over the world, but she could at least call. Or create a duplicate to call me.

-Yeah, ‘cause that wouldn’t be weird at all – Max comments.

-Kari, if you don’t mind me asking, what exactly have you been doing in Japan? – Vesta asks.

-Oh y’know, the usual stuff. Studying the culture, learning new martial arts, sleeping around, keeping an eye on Leiko. She’s been busy lately, I think she’s planning something.

All of their cellphones ring at the same time: the latest J-pop hit, the theme song from Captain America’s cartoon and a very antiquated ringtone.

-What’s that from, the 90s? – Max mocks Vesta.

1824, Symphony No. 9 in D minor – the cellphone answers; the caller is identified with the picture of a black raven with the Ø symbol on a wing.

-I meant the ringtone, not the… why am I arguing with a bird?

-O.D.I.N, have you identified the location of our target? – Vesta asks the artificial intelligence.

Indeed I have. The plane is landing just now; I will direct you to its location.

-Perfect. Kari, this guy’s pretty dangerous; can you keep the civilians away? – Max asks her.

-Why do one thing when you can do two at the same time? – she replies, showing him the content of her backpack shaped like a pink kitten: her Myridian armor.

 

Null Tower, New York City

Noriko is watching the footage of the security cameras, which show Vesta flying towards the landing airplane. She’s sitting on the couch, with one of the ODIN holograms perching on her shoulder. Todd Slate and Torn are standing behind her.

-Be careful, Vesta. The Japan Self Defense Forces have already been alerted – she warns.

-Efficient – Torn comments.

-We did send two superhumans in a foreign country – Todd adds, seemingly ignored by both.

The door to the Operations Center opens to reveal two newcomers: the original Kari and a teenage girl with red skin, who’s wearing a yellow hoodie and ripped jeans.

-Hey guys, look who’s back in action! – Kari introduces her, but Laceration’s face doesn’t show the slightest amount of interest.

-Daughter – Torn greets her, nodding slightly.

-Father – she nods back.

-C’mon, you haven’t seen each other in weeks, don’t you have anything to say? – Kari objects.

-No – Torn answers honestly, while Laceration raises a hand:

-I have a question. Why do human females periodically bleed out of their…

-Aaand I suddenly remember why you guys never talk much – Kari interrupts her.

 

Tokyo Haneda Airport

The plane has already landed when Vesta approaches it; the personnel ready to unload its cargo are understandably surprised to see her. The Vanguard is universally recognized at this point, so they know exactly who she is, though they didn’t expect her to speak Japanese.

Actually she doesn’t know the language, but luckily as a goddess one of her powers is to be universally understood by mortals.

-Please don’t be alarmed. Someone very dangerous is hiding inside the plane, I’m here to help.

The workers are not sure how to respond, but they don’t have much time to react before one of them finds himself tied up by a red lasso that came out of nowhere. Vesta hurries to free him, opening herself for a sudden attack: someone covered head to toe in grey tatters jumps out of the plane, breaking through the roof as if it was made of cardboard, and throws a sword at her.

The only reason the sword doesn’t hit Vesta in the back is Kari, who’s wearing the purple armor that completely obscures her features: she tackles Vesta to move her out of the way.

The sword embeds itself deeply into the ground; at this point the workers understand the situation is way out of their league and run away, while the demon is surprised to have missed Vesta.

He blinks and finds himself facing Quantum: he’s holding his finger less than a inch away from his face, sizzling with electricity.

-One chance to surrender, creep. You know I can’t miss this time.

-ڹت يۆۇر ېنېمي. دۆن’ت نۃرفېرې۔.

-What’s he saying? – Quantum asks to Vesta.

-I have no idea. I don’t understand the Demon language. Torn, are you there? – the goddess asks, touching her ear to activate the Neural Transmitter.

He said that he’s not your enemy and that you shouldn’t interfere – Torn translates remotely.

The demon tilts his head, as if he’s trying to figure out something.

– تۆڻ? وحي ىرې يۆۇ ۀرې?

How did he… Quantum, take him out, immediately!

-What? What’s going on? – Quantum asks, looking up in the sky at the sound of something approaching. Sure enough, there’s a man in a white costume flying towards them.

-White Star. Japan’s sending its own superhuman agent – Vesta recognizes him.

-سۆ تۆڻ س ثې سۆۇرcې۔ شې ولل وىنت تۆ نۃرڤېنې.

Before they have the chance to ask Torn to translate, White Star is already floating above the Vanguard with his arms crossed in a menacing pose and saying to Quantum:

-Sir, please step away from the suspect. The JSDF will handle the situation.

-Null, it’s your call, what do we do? – Quantum asks through the Neural Transmitter.

-گىۃوىي… فرۆم…

DON’T LET HIM FINISH! – Torn shouts telepathically.

-ۀلل!!!

Quantum’s electricity hits the demon while he says the last word; White Star reacts with a kinetic blast that forcibly separates the two, but the damage is already done.

A red line appears on the ground, cutting through it like it was nothing. Then a second, a third, until there’s a 20 feet wide pentagram spewing fire.

-This doesn’t look good – Vesta says, ordering the fire to stay away from the plane.

 

Null Tower, New York City

When Torn orders Quantum to attack, Noriko jumps to her feet and yells at him:

-What the f##k are you doing!?

-He recognized me. We have to leave, now – Torn answers, grabbing her wrist and pulling her away. She winces in pain: she knows he’s strong enough to break her bones like twigs.

-Let me go! You’re hurting me!

While both Kari and Todd try to stop her father from dragging Noriko out of the room, Laceration is staring at the video feed. It’s hard to tell with her red complexion, but she’s turning pale.

-Father… was that the…

A red line cuts across the room. It bounces on the wall and the ceiling several times, drawing a pentagram in a few seconds.

-Gateway From Hell. They found us.

Then of course the pentagram shoots fire in every direction.

 

Tokyo Haneda Airport

Quantum has never met White Star before. He knows he works for the Japanese military and that he’s wearing a super-suit based on the technology created by Abyss, but that’s it.

Since he just hit him with the kinetic equivalent of a knockout punch, he also knows that he really doesn’t like him.

-Who are they? – White Star asks, looking at the two demons in front of them. The latest arrival isn’t hiding under tattered clothes like the first one: his demonic red skin is exposed, and he’s big. If he went on a hunger strike for a couple weeks he might pass for a bodybuilder; his biceps are larger than his head.

-Bad news, I imagine. The first one tried to kill Null in Australia, we’ve been following him.

-You should have alerted the authorities. Do they speak Japanese?

-وې رېپرېسېنت ثې سېڤېنث رcلې ۆف ۀلل – the new demon says.

-Dude, I have no idea what they speak.

-Hello, do you speak Olympian? – Kari joins in. Confusingly, she’s talking in her native language, but due to Vesta’s proximity Max hears her in English and White Star in Japanese.

-Little. We from Hell. I is Ravage, he is Torment – the first demon explains.

-We mean no harm. The fugitive is being taken out as we speak; we’re done here – the second demon adds. White Star doesn’t like his words and threatens them with glowing fists:

-You will follow us to the nearest military base and surrender to the Japanese authorities – White Star answers, threatening the demons by pointing his glowing fists at them.

-Stay away please. رىڤىگې? – the first demon says to the second.

-سڟiروىي تۆ ۀلل! – the second shouts, creating a red energy sword and using it to strike the ground. A second and much smaller pentagram appears, swallowing the larger demon. At the same time White Star’s blast hits the first demon, knocking him several feet away.

Everything else happens in a few seconds. Quantum and Kari follow the demon through the portal, while Vesta flies towards the first demon: this time she moves too fast for him to react, and remembering what he did to Noriko she doesn’t restrain herself when she punches him.

When the pentagram disappears only Vesta, White Star and the demon Ravage remain; Quantum and Kari are nowhere to be found.

 

Null Tower, New York City

The Operation Center is in flames; the sprinklers have been activated instantly, but they’re not doing much since the floating pentagram is still there and still on fire.

Todd Slate has trouble seeing what’s going on: the only thing he can gather is that a woman has stepped through the portal and is standing inside the flames.

-Agony – Torn greets her.

-Torn. Laceration. It’s time to return to Hell – she replies.

-Just wait a freakin’ minute here – Noriko says, walking towards the woman. She’s tall: six feet four at the very least. She looks down at Noriko both figuratively and literally.

-You can’t barge in, set fire to my house and kidnap one of my men!

-Torn is not your man. He is already married and your genitals are not designed to…

-It’s alright, Null, I’m going with her – Torn interrupts.

-What? Why!? – Noriko objects.

-Laceration can’t go back home unless I return. If I surrender myself, my daughter will be free.

-Father, you don’t have to do this – Laceration says.

-Yes I do. I am sorry, Null – Torn apologizes, hitting Noriko on the back of her head hard enough to knock her out instantly. Kari is ready to attack him, but the Demon woman renders her unconscious.

-We need the Myridian for questioning. What about the human? – she asks, looking at Todd.

-He doesn’t know anything. Leave him alone; I owe Null that much – Torn asks.

-Torn, you can’t do this. You’re a member of the Vanguard – Todd tries to dissuade him.

-I am also a member of the Seventh Circle of Hell. There are rules even Demons must follow.

The three demons leave through the portal, carrying the unconscious bodies of Kari and Noriko.



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