Alma gently laid Ryuuko on the ground. She was still unconscious, sleeping soundly without a care in the world.
Her uniform was in tatters, her whole body covered in blood, and her face were stained with tears as they rolled down her bloodied cheeks. Yet, she was sleeping so peacefully.
Alma got down closer and carefully wiped the tears from her eyes. Looking at the young girl, a feeling long forgotten swelled inside Alma.
It was weak and small, like the last kindle of a tiny flame.
This girl, Takatora Ryuuko, has given Alma "hope".
It was strange. To feel such a thing after so long. After so much pain, so much suffering. And For a brief moment, Alma genuinely smiled.
"Not yet." Alma whispered as their usual emotionless look came back. "Not until the last of this lie is destroyed. I will have my revenge."
"Prepare yourself, oh false god." Alma solemnly swore while looking up at the dark red skies, eyes burning with hatred. "We're coming for you..."
"Now then...," Alma slowly stood up. "They're finally here."
An unsettling grin slowly spread across their face.
"Let us begin."
Blood poured out of the monster's neck as Takuya slit its throat. It fell to the ground with a sickening splat as it laid dead on his feet.
"Phew..." He breathe a sigh of relief. Discarding the broken knife, he looked to count how many he had left. 5, in total. Not enough.
"This isn't good. We're running out of time and weapons. Prez, what do we do now?"
Kenjirou crushed the skull of another monster under his foot. Blood burst out and splattered across the ground. Takuya was right, they're in a bad situation.
The three of them moved as fast as they could after they got prepared but the time dilution of going through a channel did not guarantee they would arrive on time.
What's more, Juntaro told them that the girl's signal had suddenly disappeared.
"Mitsuhide, any luck?" he asked to his phone.
"No good. I'm searching, but it's as if she just vanished."
"Then that means... we're too late. Prez..."
"Kenjirou, I'm sorry."
Kenjirou cursed underneath his breath. He clutched his fist so hard his brass knuckles dug into his skin and bled. But he could not feel anything. Yet again, he has failed.
Takuya placed his hand on the president's broad shoulders and shook his head.
"There's nothing else we can do. We have to go, before more of these things appear."
Kenjirou could only hang his head in shame.
"Let's get out of here..."
Suddenly their phones vibrated.
"Wait! Kenjirou I'm-I'm picking up something. It's really faint but- "
The two boys snapped out of their slump and quickly looked at their phones. A signal. It was weak but without a doubt, it was a living being.
"Hideyoshi, let's go!"
"Right behind you Prez!"
The two quickly ran toward the signal.
"My god..." Kenjirou exclaimed as he laid eyes on Ryuuko's unconscious body. She was lying in the middle of the dark streets, on a bed of flowers.
It was strange, eerie even, as if she had been placed there waiting for them to find her.
"Her right arm...all that blood. Is she still...?" Takuya asked fearfully.
"My readings indicate that she's alive, although barely. That blood isn't all hers."
The two boys sighed in relief.
"It must be from the monsters. Then she too, she's unfortunately been infected." Kenjirou stated.
Takuya nodded his head and forced a smile.
"She really is one of us now. To lose an entire arm... ha ha... I don't know if we should consider her lucky or not."
"How the hell do you consider that lucky, Takuya? It's all bad regardless." Juntaro snapped.
"Well, she could have ended up like you senpai."
"Oh, for crying out loud. Anyway, retrieval complete and all that. I'm sending you coordinates to the nearest channel."
Kenjirou nod his head as he carefully carried Ryuuko on his back.
"I hope she'll be okay. It's going to be hard explaining everything to her" Takuya said, scratching his head as they got ready to leave.
"We'll deal with that as it comes. For now, let's focus on getting out of this place."
"I found one! 40 meters from here, to the north."
"40 meters, alright then. Let's go."
"It shouldn't take that long. Just keep moving and-... oh, crap!"
"Kenjirou, Takuya, get the hell out of there now! A large horde of those monsters are converging on your location! Run!"
"T-they just appeared out of nowhere. I couldn't even detect-, GO! GO! GO! RUN NOW!" he screamed at them.
"God dammit! You had one job senpai! What the flying hell?!"
"Kenjirou, you tell that deaf bastard that if he could've done a better job, he can go fu-"
"JUST MOVE!" Kenjirou yelled as he and Takuya ran for their lives.