They loaded in horseback, yards behind a row of people also on horseback. The people in front of them were dressed in tatami, or what looked like tatami. It reflected the moonlight of the dark blue material, helmets gleaming as well. They were part of a larger group storming on somewhat tall cement building.
Samara slowed up.
“Fuck this,” she said, jumping off the horse, leaving behind a cloud of black smoke behind. The horse she rode in on got spooked and took off between Dana and Ekundayo.
A flare went up. It exploded, lighting up the whole sky. A siren rang out from the building. Like a flash, dozens upon dozens of the Dogs ran out of the building, armed with heavy machine guns and covered head to toe in heavy armor. The group of horse riders spread out, bullets causing little bursts of friction on an invisible shield around the riders and horses. Riders with swords sliced at armor, trying to reach for weak points around the torso. A grenade fell on to the field, blowing up horseman and Dog alike. A Dog was strapped inside a heavy machine, firing off another grenade. As Dana and Ekundayo rode up, Ekundayo jumped off his horse, sacrificing it to the blast. A big, painted mask appeared on Ekundayo’s face and he started shrieking, piles of dirt coming up from the ground and throwing itself at the heavy machine.
A cloud of black smoke danced its way onto the field, becoming a whole Samara right in front of a Dog. She grinned and spat on the Dog’s helmet, the material melting away. The Dog started to scream as the spit came into contact with his head. She laughed and whisked off as bullets zoomed by her. Dana kept riding on the horse, following one of the group that had broken off to get inside the building. The rider looked back and hurried forward.
“We don’t have much time!” they called out. Dana blinked.
“Shouta, that you?”
“NO. TIME,” he yelled back at her. A door was sliding close.
“THERE,” he called out, guiding his horse toward it. Dana followed close behind. The door couldn’t close at all; it was jammed. Shouta and Dana jumped of their horses and ran inside, the alarm still ringing loudly. Dana covered her ears, Shouta was unimpressed. He took the left, Dana scrambling behind him.
“What are we looking for?” Dana asked, trying to keep up. She just noticed he was holding Yetunde’s sword.
“We’re looking for a computer,” he finally answered as they went up a flight of stairs. “It might have information.”
“About what?” Dana asked, following him onto the 3rd floor and opening various doors, looking for the computer.
“The Dogs.” The sirens were few and far between on this floors. Dana’s ears were grateful. It wasn’t until they got to the 5th floor where Shouta found the computer he was looking for. He pushed the chair aside and forced it on, typing away furiously. Dana peered over his shoulders.
“How do you know all this?” Dana asked, looking at his face.
“What are you talking about?”
“When I was here last, there weren’t any computers.”
Shouta smirked and glanced back at her.
“I knew I wasn’t going crazy. Everybody was saying that we’ve always had these things, but something felt off about it,” he said, going back to the typing.
“How did you get that sword?” Dana asked. Shouta stopped typing for a moment, before resuming, a bunch of windows popping up.
“In there,” he whispered, taking off a necklace that was actually a small USB drive. He turned to Dana was he waited for the download to finish.
“Your body wasn’t there. But her’s still was. A week had come and gone. So I followed the way she always takes to see the Elders. She just… Laid there. It was like her body was perfectly preserved. No one touched her, not even an animal. She just laid there.”
Dana watched Shouta’s face, his eyes a little more wet. She just noticed the full beard he had, his short hair from before now a long ponytail. He was very handsome.
“My people said not to trust you, but I know better.”
“It’s just a feeling,” he said, smiling.
“Shouta, how long has it been?” Dana finally asked.
“Since I last saw you? Almost 5 years.”
The computer binged and turned itself off. Shouta grabbed the drive and rushed out the room.
“Ohhhh, nope nope nope nope,” he said, pushing Dana back in and closing the door. Heavy boots from the Dogs came and went. Dana opened a window. An explosion where Samara and Ekundayo were went off.
“Oh fuck,” Dana said, looking around. “There’s no way to get down!”
Shouta grabbed Dana by her waist and jumped. Dana screamed. Shouta started to chant. There fall turned into a slow float down. Shouta set Dana down. She punched his arm.
“At least let someone know!”
They weren’t far from their horses. They took off back toward the field. Ekundayo and Samara were making light work of taking apart the heavy machine.
“Hey, y’all! We got what we came for!” Dana said, riding up to them.
“Oh, thanks for letting us know where you WENT,” Samara said, pulling apart a sheet of metal from the machine, the Dog inside screaming.
“I mean, it’s not like you didn’t enjoy this whole battle, so don’t get salty now, Samara,” Ekundayo said, pushing up his mask. He winked at Dana. She smiled.
Once Samara pulled the dog up from the machine, she stared at them. The Dog started speaking in some language. But Shouta understood.
“Put ’em down,” Shouta said, pointing to the ground. Samara tossed them. The Dog started pleading with Shouta, crawling on their hands and knees, pulling at his clothes. Shouta shouted, sending the Dog flying back a few feet. The Dog whimpered, still trying to talk with Shouta. His body started to glow a fiery yellow, his eyes red. Shouta started to chant. The Dog started crying. Dana and her friends watched on.
With a nod of his head, Shouta picked up the Dog with no hands at all. The Dog floated in the air, tears running down their face, no sound coming out their throat. Shouta’s lips moved, his eyes locked on with the Dog’s. Silently, the Dog died getting their limbs pulled apart by forces unknown. Shouta waved a hand, the body parts flinging themselves out of his view. He said a word and took off back toward the building.
“Shouta!?” Dana called out. “Get on!” She called to Ekundayo, extending a hand. Samara turned herself into a wisp and took off after Shouta. When they were on him, he was a big ball of blood-red now. He stood there, chanting to himself.
The power flickered in the building, the siren going in and out before it stopped completely. Sparks from computers went up, a fire went off somewhere. The building shook as it, too, started to glow red. Shouta was yelling his chants now, the wind picking up. Millions of tiny whispers and giggled swirled around the building, manifesting into little black wisps, similar to Samara. They floated through the building, finding every last Dog and suffocating them with their own body. The fire spread throughout the building. Shouta let out a roar, and the laughter turned into a high pitch scream. The building started to collapse. From the inside out, the fortified building turned into dust in a matter of seconds.
The screaming stopped. Shouta was turning back to normal now, his eyes still red, not from his powers; But from tears.