With that strange encounter out of the way, Kitsune made her way to the building where she had sent Dianzi and Criana. Now that she had eaten, she decided to test what the soldier had said. Finding a patrol, she hid behind a corner and called out, “Hey, any of you seen the Countess?”
In uncanny unison, the soldiers responded, “Pretenders fall at the sight of royalty.” Kitsune came out from her hiding place. “This and the neighboring blocks of the city are the Countess’s. You’re your friends to leave your hiding place, we take that area tonight. You are against the Doctor, so we let you live. If you are against us, too, you will die. Go. You have one hour.”
“How far do we need to go?”
“When you think you’ve gone far enough, keep running. We expect the Doctor’s new creations will make an appearance.”
His new creations? Kitsune continued leaping to the hideout. The Doctor always created counterparts to the ones who escape. Kitsune had Doreiku, a flier Kitsune had known, Sora Koku, had been matched with a Native American archer. Both those last two were dead. Sora Koku had been shot by the Native American, who Kitsune killed afterwards.
These new creations were probably two or more of that kind. Dianzi, Criana, the Countess, and Pernixa still lacked counterparts to Kitsune’s knowledge. Of course, she might have just not seen the Countess or Pernixa’s yet. She wasn’t sure how long they’d been out.
She arrived shortly before the hour was up. There were heightened patrols around the hideout, but it didn’t look like they knew about it. Kitsune managed to leap to the roof without alerting any of the soldiers, and then slipped inside through a hole in the roof. “Dianzi?” she hissed.
“Over here,” he replied. Kitsune walked over. “What are the soldier doing out there?” he asked, “Are they looking for us?”
“No, unless they’re getting sloppy. They’re just patrolling the streets. Listen, a rogue faction of soldiers is going to attack very soon, and we need to leave.”
Dianzi paused for a few seconds, seemingly listening to something else, and then said, “No, the soldiers are brainwashed to serve the Doctor. It’s not possible for them to go rogue.”
“It’s a new player, the Countess. She’s somehow controlling them. Now, come on. Where’s Criana?”
In answer, Criana came running up. “There are even more soldiers coming into the streets around here,” she said.
“It’s starting soon, come on!” Kitsune urged. Criana ran back to wherever she was watching from.
Dianzi paused again, listening. What was he listening to? “How do you know about the attack?” he asked.
“One of the soldiers told me at the behest of the Countess.”
Still not moving, Dianzi said, “Why?”
“I don’t know, but could we please get going? New creations are expected in the battle. People like us, only on the Doctor’s side.”
Thunder! The battle had begun. Kitsune could outrun almost anything, so she could stay as long as need be, but Dianzi and Criana were too slow. “Why are you stalling?” Kitsune asked through grated teeth.
“The voice in my head told me to,” he said, smiling.
Kitsune rolled her eyes, and noticed Criana running up again. “The soldiers are fighting each other,” she said.
A sound that puts gunfire’s thunder to shame roared out as a section of the wall a few yards away shattered, followed closely by several dead soldiers and a chunk of metal. My reflexes got me out of the blast radius, while Dianzi put out a green bubble that blocked the debris from hitting either him or Criana.
Shortly after, there were several red flashes from outside and occasional cracks formed in the wall. Kitsune jumped up to the roof and carefully looked along the streets. Soldiers fired with obvious paranoia, who’s to say the soldier next to you isn’t one of the rogues? But that wasn’t what drew Kitsune’s attention the most. What she noticed were the two new creations.
They were the counterparts to Dianzi and Criana. One seemed to be formed from rocks themselves. He shrugged off gunfire like it was nothing, and knocked soldiers aside indiscriminately. The other was in a black cloak that reminded Kitsune of a warlock’s, and it had glowing, red runes all over it. The part that really connected him to Dianzi was his power—red energy blasts. Pair up the defensive against the offensive.
Kitsune wondered if the Countess would make an appearance, and then remembered that she was still trying to help Dianzi and Criana. Why was she trying to help them? She guessed it was her reverend’s voice in her head telling her to help those in need. She leapt back down through the hole.
She had obviously missed something. Criana was backed against a pillar, fear present in her tears. Dianzi seemed to be concentrating on something else entirely. “Criana?” Kitsune asked softly.
She looked up at Kitsune and said, “The Rock is my dad.”