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Shingma set down the two buckets of water she was carrying and sat next to them on a large rock. Her long brown hair fanned around the left side of her face as she looked at her rare bamboo shoes and sighed. She had the same pair of shoes for the last two years and they were falling apart. A side from the normal work she had to do in the day, all these spirits coming to take avenge on those who forgot about their family has worn her and her shoes out. With another sighed she stood up, grabbed the buckets and walked on. She smiled at the little kids that helped their mother in the garden, wishing she could have done that when she was small. Her parents were killed when she was three by some punks who thought it would be fun to mess with the village and they happened to pick their house because their house was the first house in the village when coming in from the Mainstream. Needless to say the village didn’t take that well and beheaded the punks who shot her family. Shingma still has a scar from her shoulder to the edge of her side from where they grabbed her father’s sword and threw it at her when she tried to run and tell someone. Since then she’s been living with the village leader like she was their own child. No one speaks of what happened, but she’ll never forget. She looked down and took a step back just as a small white ball rolled toward her. She looked up to see a little boy ran toward her. She grinned and kicked the ball over to the boy.
“Thank you Shi-Chan,” the boy waved with the ball in the other hand, then ran back to his friends. Shingma grinned and walked up to a small building and walked in. The smell was great, for it was one of their best restaurants in all of Kyoto. Every once in a while the village would all people rom the mainstream to come and eat there. Shingma went into the back room and set down the water, and walked out back out side.
“What to do now.” She looked at the sun, her dark blue eyes glinting slight, and sighed. It was almost that time. Twilight. This was the time the souls started to come out.
“I guess I should get my stuff.” She said softly and walked toward a house that was slightly larger then the others. She walked into her room sat with her knees folded under her. In front of her was a small shrine that she made for her parents. By her left side was a bow and a quiver full of arrows and on her right side was a sword that was in a purple sheath that was about four feet long.
“Mother, Father, please forgive me about not being able to talk to you for so long. I’ve been busy, but of course you know that. It’s almost time again for me to fight and protect, like you tried for me. I promise I will bring more food. I’ll even make your favorites. I love you . . . ” Her tears fell on her white shirt that was tucked into her red kimono pants. She stood slowly her weapons in each hand. She placed the quiver and bow on her back and her sword on her side, higher then the usual katana, so it wouldn’t drag on the ground, since she was so short. She opened the door then ran out into the night. She took the back ways of the village and crossed the imaginary line that separated the village from the Mainstream. After a mile of running she hit the town. Even at night the streets were crowded with those who were looking for a club. She looked up to see cars hovering above her head and that she will never get used to. She sensed so many souls, and it wasn't even O-bon yet. It wasn't going to be for three more days, but now a days the souls have been getting more impatient. With a sigh and walked into a getomono bar; one of the few traditional restaurants that Kyoto, well really, the whole island of Japan, had left. In the bar was a man sitting at a table by himself. Once Shingma walked in the man stood and faced her. His right eye was covered by a black eye patch with an intricate silver design, but Shingma didn’t seem to care.
“Shingma.”
“Maten.”
The tension in the room was as high as can be, each gripping their sword. In a flash both had completely changed position. Both blades were drawn, and crossed over with each other, the tip of the sword pressed against each other’s neck. The owner stood frozen staring at the two, seemingly not to breathe. After a few seconds both the man, Maten, and Shingma smiled then died out laughing. They removed the blade from each other’s neck and sheathed them. Maten waved over the owner, who brought the two some sake. The man grinned and pushed his black bangs from in front of his red eye and sat down across from Shingma.
“So you’re hunting them as well, Shingma. I would think after what happened to your parents you wouldn’t come near the spirits.” Maten sipped his sake slowly.
“What would thugs have to do with the spirits?”
“Thugs? What are you talking about? You parents weren’t . . . oh . . . heh, never mind.” Maten frowned and began to chug down his glass of sake.
“What do you mean they weren’t? They weren’t what? ” Shingma banged her first on the table, basically glaring a hole into Maten’s forehead.
“You can glare at me all you want, I’m not telling anything else. Now come on, we need to go. I can feel a Fushimon near by and I brought some darts filled of the antibodies. We need to get busy, and sorry but since the boss hasn’t been able to make the antibodies stay on a sword, and need to use a gun type of thing.” Maten reached into his long green cloak, moving the electric blue tips of his hair out away and pulled out a gun type of weapon. The gun looked just like a vantage hand gun from 2006 but instead of bullets it’s just a dart with a blue fluid on it.
“I don’t even know how to use a gun, more or less kill a Virus with it.” Shingma took the gun and studied it carefully, her hand trembling at the cold, lifeless steel that seemed to be sucking the life out of her.
“It’s quite simple. You point it like this,” Maten picked up the gun, pointing it at Shingma, “Then you pull this, called the trigger,” He slowly began to pull back the trigger. Shingma’s hair stood on end and she ducked down.
“You didn’t think I was going to shoot you with it. Not like it would do anything to you.” Maten grinned but then changed into a puzzling look.
“You have too many mood changes. Now, how are the souls coming so early, I thought the portal wouldn’t open until the day of O-bon?”
“Well you must understand that souls control the Realm of the souls. They make the rules. Now back when there were monks, they used to be able to keep everything under control, but now, even with Assatishita, there aren’t enough monks to even take this on the day before O-bon.”
“So what are we supposed to do now. Try to get everyone to fight with us, even the Mainstream? No one even knows what O-bon is anymore, what makes you think they can help. Besides they don’t even hold the power to see or sense them any more.”
“Yes, and I doubt anyone would believe us. Not like we could train them in the three days we have, anyway. So what now?” Maten muttered, staring at the table.
“Just knock them out as they come, starting now.” The two stood up and left the bar without paying, but the owner didn’t go after them. They headed into the crowd of people in the biggest Mainstream section of Kyoto. Most people shied away from them, most likely because of Maten’s huge sword that was tied to his back.
“I can’t believe you still have that ratty sword. Lord. Bayon will gladly make a new one for you.” Shingma said staring at the rust spots and chips in the blade.
“There is nothing wrong with Takon. I’ve had this blade since I left Assatishita when I was eighteen. I’ve had it for . . . five years.” Maten stuck his tongue out at Shingma.
“You know what I’ve been noticing? How the Viruses and Fushimon seem to stay as far away from each other as possible. It looks like the Viruses are over taking the northern part and the Fushimon are in control of the south. Um . . . you haven’t seen or sensed any . . . ” Shingma paused, her eyes darting back and forth quickly before she continued.
“Any Moral Devils?”
“No, I haven’t, but the word in the soul Realm is that the Moral Devils are planning on attacking all at once during O-bon. If that really happens, this might be the new soul Realm, and the worse part is we might be part of it.”
“And how do you know what’s going on in the Realm?’
“Not that there is a secret, Shingma.”
They turned into a dark ally where most souls like to hide as live bait pulls the food into them. This was Fushimon territory and they had to be on their toes, since it was almost impossible to sense them before it’s too late.
“You know what sucks about all this? That we are the ones who are doing this all right, and we are the ones who have fight for everyone else, even though it’s their fault.” Huffed Shingma with her arms crossed. Maten was about to say something, but a dried arm wrapped around his neck from the shadows. A mummy looking creature jumped onto hit back trying to pull him into the darkness. Shingma drew her sword and took its head off. Maten stumbled forward and drew his own sword.
“This isn’t going to work. We need a monk. I thought they were supposed to be guarding this area. They know we haven’t come up with anything to fight of the Fushimon,” wheezed Maten.
Shingma was to busy fighting another one to answer him. The crowd of Fushimon closed in on the two. Maten and Shingma were pinned against the wall, dried pruned lips closing on their necks. The breathing of the two became heavy and short quick burst. Suddenly the Fushimon stopped and a sound of a ringing bell echoed through the ally way. Then silence. Once again another ringing sound and the Fushimon retreated quickly, leaving Maten and Shingma to fall to the ground, shivering. The cold that the Fushimon left has been known give any one frostbite; Shingma and Maten were lucky enough to not be exposed to them that long, so the worse they got was just a shiver. The bell sound stopped and Shingma looked up to find seven dark figures with a staff with a golden circle on top and three rings on each side. She gripped her sword tighter, suspicious of the seven nor allowing their faces to be shown. A purple cloak covered they bodies, and a hood shadowed there face.
“Come, now. We can’t keep them off to long so hurry, and sheath your sword, you won’t need it.” The monk said in a soft, almost female voice. Maten looked at Shingma and nodded. They stood up, sheathing their swords and fallowed the monks who turned around and walked back into the Mainstream. No one seemed to notice the seven hooded figures and two dumbfound people with weapons fallowing them. Shingma looked up at the huge building around her in awe. Lights blinked on and off, music played from every door, and people were entering and exiting all at the same time.
‘I swear if I had to live like this I might just kill myself. This is to confusing and complicated.’ Shingma thought to her self staring at one store in particular. It was a fish market that said that all there fish were real. It complete confused Shingma why they need to say that the fish were real so much that she didn’t notice that she stopped walking until one of the monks tapped her on the shoulder.
“Please keep up. We don’t have that much time to fill you in on everything that you need to know.” The monk walked next to her as her eyes darted, still amazed by the sounds and smells of the Mainstream. This was her first time this deep into the Mainstream and she was scared. Everything was so different then the village she lived in. The monks lead them into the “ghetto” section of the town. Gangsters were lined up against the walls staring at the group; there eyes dark with hatred, but no one made a move toward them, like the monks owned this section. Shingma laughed at the idea of Gangsta monk. She could just pictured them doing a pimp walk down the streets, with some someone behind them rapping. She laughed again, making people look at her.
“Shingma, shut up. Any of these people can pull out a bomb and blow us up. Ever since World War III everyone has been getting weapons from the black market. The black market is now surpassing anything that is legal and illegal combined in profit. These people don’t play around. They only reason why they haven’t shot us yet is because they know what is going on and they are willing to help us.” Maten hissed into her ear.
“And you know this how?” Shingma snapped back.
“The head monk told me. You should talk to people more, you’ll find out a lot of stuff. Now hurry.” Maten pulled her up into the middle of the monks. They walked on, and on, and on....and on. Shingma thought that they had to be at the end of Japan before they stopped at the last house. The house was rundown and falling a part. Why would monks live in a place like this. Assatishita had a shrine and a temple for the monks to live, why the Mainstream.
“Heh, Mainstream Monks,” she muttered with a grin as they entered the house.


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