Trials of the Junsuikaoni: Rise of the Junsui Hunters (Book 2)

Following a painful betrayal, Noah has succumbed to the pull of his demon side and as a result, he has become emotionless and indifferent to the world. He's determined to become stronger and unlock the full potential of his demonic powers, however as he does this, he's pulled deeper into darkness and further away from his humanity. He will struggle to decide if he will push himself to his max at the sacrifice of his humanity in order to face his brother Judas or if he'll stand with his friends, who've gone through changes of their own, as they rise to become an Elite Junsui Hunter team and rid the world of hostile Bakemon one monster at a time. This is the second chapter of Noah's journey to stop the hands of fate and change his destiny.

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2. Metamorphosis

“No, stay away!” A young woman, around the age of 22 runs through the alley, desperate to find a way to the main road. She’d just left her friends after a long night of drinking at the local pub and didn’t think she’d encounter any problems taking the short walk to the air bus line, but then she found herself being approached by two men from behind. She had attempted to enter a small shop and find help, but seemingly by magic, she found herself in the back alleys and the two men now had her surrounded. These men looked like humans, but as they got closer, their faces become grotesque, looking something like jackals. They swiped at her with their clawed fingers, but she avoided their strike and ran, putting her into this current situation.

            “Don’t run sweetheart, we wouldn’t want you damaging that pretty face of yours now. We don’t like bruised meat.” They chuckle and continue the chase, gradually picking up speed.

            “Just leave me alone, please!” She pleads as she runs, but her luck is only getting worse. She reaches a dead end, which she finds quite strange as she’s certain she saw streetlights in the distance. “What is going on? How do the surroundings keep changing?” She’s completely confused and hearing the men’s footsteps, she starts to panic.

            “Looks like there’s nowhere to run now sweetheart. So be a good girl now and let us have a taste of that pretty skin of yours. Don’t worry though, we’ll make it nice and quick.”

            “No, please, no!” She raises her arms up in defense and prepares for the worst as one of them grabs her arm, but then she suddenly hears him scream in pain and release her arm.

            “What the hell! Goran, are you ok buddy?” The woman peeks out from between her arms to see one of the men run over to the other man’s body, which is now slouched over on the ground. “Goran, Goran! What did you do you bitch? I’ll kill you!” He charges her.

            “No, I didn’t do anything! I didn’t!” She shields herself once again, but just like before, she hears him yell out and a thud. She opens her eyes to see him lying limp on the ground. “What…what’s going on? I don’t understand!”

            “They were Jackal Demons, and you got caught in their maze. It’s how they capture their prey and play with them before they devour them. They’re quite sinister. You got lucky.”

            The woman looks up to follow the path of the voice she heard and up on the fence just above her sits a man with vibrant green eyes. He’s dressed is some sort of uniform, which must be dark as it’s difficult to see in such little light, his collared button up blazer is trimmed with a green that matches his eyes and there is a patchwork emblem on the top right that she can just make out. “J…H…F?” He jumps down off the fence and lands in front of her with a smile.

            “Junsui Hunter Force at your service.” He extends his hand and she looks at it with precaution, unsure if she can trust this man. However, somehow his kindness shines through his eyes and she finds herself willing reaching up to take his hand. He helps her to her feet and just as she starts to thank him, she sees a shadow approach him from behind. “Look out!”

            One of the jackal men swipe at him, aiming right for his neck, but the man doesn’t even flinch. She starts to scream thinking that he’s about to meet his end, but then there is a momentary sensation of heat and a flash and suddenly the jackal man is backing away screaming. She can see that he’s completely inflamed and after several more seconds of screaming, he falls silent and collapses to the ground. “Don’t worry, it’s already handled.”

            The woman looks at the jackal man who’s now been burned to a crisp and finally succumbing to the stress of the night, becomes light headed and starts to collapse, but the green eyed man catches her. She looks into his eyes and finally asks, “Who are you?”

            Before he can answer, she hears another voice. “Yo Guns! What’s the big idea leaving me behind like that? I should’ve let that jackal claw your ass, then what would you do?” Another man, wearing the same sort of uniform, but lined in red jumps down from a rooftop and lands effortlessly next to them. His red hair and eyes have a radiance, almost like the sun. “I should’ve known, if your natural born chick magnet doesn’t bring them to you, your babedar always leads you to them. You’re too charming for your own good dude. Who is she anyway?”

            “I knew you’d catch up Nik, surely you aren’t doubting your impressive speed?”

            “Ha, as if! I’d out run you any day. It’s just about the principle dude.”

            “Sorry Nik, I would’ve given you more warning, but I heard her screams and I knew there wasn’t any time to waste. Also, I don’t know who she is yet, but I’m about to find out.”

            She realizes that they must be those special soldiers that hunt down those Junsui demons she’d learned about back in school. However, she never knew that other monsters could exist. She decides to ask them and get an explanation of what just happened. “Um…my name is Mei and thank you for saving me, but I don’t understand, what exactly were those men and why are the Junsui Hunters after them? Are they a new type of Junsui demon?”

            “Why do you even care? Simple humans like you shouldn’t involve yourself in the world of the Bakemon. So why don’t you just go back home and curl up with your puppy and leave the dangerous stuff to us. We aren’t going to save you every single night.”

            “Hey, don’t be so rude Nik, she didn’t ask to be attacked and you know it.” He turns to Mei. “Sorry about that. Nik is a jerk, but he means well. That’s just his way of showing concern. It really is dangerous for a young lady such as yourself to wander these streets alone, even if it’s just a short distance. I’d be happy to escort you home if you wouldn’t mind.” His voice is gentle and comforting and his smile makes her feel safe and as if she can trust him.

            “O-ok. If you wouldn’t mind.”

            “Not at all, I couldn’t send you off alone again in good conscious. Oh, I’m Gunther by the way. Also to answer your question, no those were not Junsui demons, they were a different type of demon known as Jackal Demons. They were just one of hundreds of different species that make up the Bakemon, which are a race of supernatural beings that include Junsui demons. We’re a special Hunter Force that not only targets rogue Junsui Demons, but all the hostile Bakemon that threaten Hokkaido and the surrounding districts outside the city. Despite learning of this, I really hope you will continue to live your life without fear. Now, shall we go my lady?”

            Mei takes his arm that he so generously extended out to her and says, “yes, of course.”

            Nik scoffs and then says, “Guess we won’t wait up for you then. Be safe Guns!” Nik grins as Gunther looks back with a closed-eye smile that shows Nik that he’s gotten the double meaning of his joke and is telling him to “cut it out.” Nik just chuckles and then looks around.

            He looks at the Jackal Demon burned by his fire and smirks. “Guess your luck ran out.” He starts to jump back to the rooftop to meet up with the others, but then he suddenly remembers something. “Wait, weren’t there two of those guys?” Just as he says this, he hears shuffling coming from a side alley. Unsure of what he might be facing, he wields his bow and an arrow from his quiver, setting it as he walks slowly towards the source of the sound. A figure slowly comes into sight and it appears to be eating something. “JHF, identify yourself!” The figure doesn’t pause even for a moment, completely ignoring Nik’s command. “Ok then, maybe you’ll respond if there’s an arrow through your neck!” Nik shoots his arrow dead center towards the neck, but almost effortlessly, the figure catches the arrow and stands, its face now clear. “Noah?” Noah walks towards Nik. He’s in his human form, but his mouth is covered in blood, which means he had just been feeding. Looking at the body lying on the ground, Nik realizes it’s the body of the second jackal and that Noah took advantage of the situation to replenish his revolting dietary need for human flesh and blood, which he’s able to do just as easily by using a Bakemon who’s recently fed on humans as a vector. It’s his way of sticking to his vow of never feeding from human directly. Regardless of that vow, it still creeps Nik out every time. “Gross man.”

            “The same could be said about your face. Anyway, if you thought that measly arrow was going to do a thing, you’re much stupider than even I’d have believed. If I was any other Junsui Demon, you’d be dead right now. Next time, skip the small stuff and jump right to the big guns.”

            “Well forgive me for wanting to have the decency to be sure that you were going to be hostile. Would you have me shoot first and ask questions later? That’s how innocents die.”

            “No one in a dark, abandoned alley like this at this time of night would ever be innocent. Let’s go.” He says this quite plainly as he wipes his mouth with cloth from the jackal’s shirt. Tossing it down, he runs and jumps up to the rooftop in just microseconds and is on the move. Nik hops up, following his path, but he can’t quite match his speed and lags a bit behind.

###

            “No, please don’t hurt my daughter! I’ll get your money, I swear, just please stop!” A middle aged man lies on the ground pleading as another man pins him down with his foot.

            “Yea, I know you’re gonna get my money, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re late on today’s payment. So now, I’m going to make sure your daughter pays for your failure. Your wife was just for the fun of it.” He chuckles with a hiss sound and then continues his assault. “Now, let’s see what goodies you’ve got trapped under here little girl.”

            “No!” A girl, no older than 13 screams out as a large man rips open her shirt. She tries to wriggle free, but he’s got her pinned down by sitting on her legs and holding her hands above her head as he tugs at her bra. “Papa! Papa! Papa!” She cries out for her father as tears start to fall.

            “Lori! I’ll save you. It’ll be ok. Somehow I’ll-.” His words are cut short when the boot holding down his back moves to stomp on his head, knocking him unconscious and a man says,

            “Listen to him lie to her. As if he could’ve done a thing. Couldn’t even help his wife.”

            “Papa! Papa! Hearing her father’s sudden silence scares Lori, as she fears they may have killed him. “Is he ok? Please, is my Papa ok?” She suddenly feels a hard slap across her face.

            “Papa, Papa! Oh shut it you annoying brat. Maybe you ought to worry about yourself a little before you worry about him. Now, I’ve seen what’s up here, why don’t we take a look down here in your honey pot?” He snatches her pants off and leaves her completely exposed.

            “No, no, no! You can’t! Only…only Papa can, you can’t! No!” She pleads desperately.

            “Oh, what’s that?” He examines her more closely and feels around. “Well, color me surprised! Seems like her old man here wasn’t so much concerned about her virtue, but rather someone else soiling what he’s already claimed. Here I was thinking I’d be blessed by a virgin.”

            His accomplice that had been holding her father down chuckles and says, “violated by her own father yet they call us monsters. Only a truly sick person could stoop so low.”

            “Well, who are we to judge. Humans and Bakemon clearly live by different values. Anyway little girl, this should be nice and easy for you then since you’ve had plenty of practice.”

            “No, please! No!” She continues to beg as pulls down his pants. However, just as he prepares to grab it and guide it in, he feels something grip it at its base.

            “Huh?” He looks at the girl’s hands to see both are still in the grip of his other hand and so he looks down to see just what it was that had taken hold of his precious member. Wrapped around it was a spiral cord, something like a whip. “What the hell?” just as he says this, he feels excruciating pain as spikes suddenly protrude from the cord and in less than a second, his member is ripped clean off and now sits in his outstretched hand. He stares at it in his hand and with the pain and realization finally setting in, he lets out a monstrous roar. “Ahhhhhh!”

            He drops it from his hand as the wound starts spouting blood and he falls back, clutching his hands over it. He continues screaming as someone stands over him.  “Doesn’t feel so great to hold it in your own hands does it?” He sees a young woman wearing a leather one-piece blazer uniform lined with pink trim. Her long pink hair contrasts against her tan skin and her pink eyes are filled with fury. At her side is a whip, which is now wound and hooked to her uniform.

            “JHF? You’re the Junsui police, why the hell are you coming after us. How could you do that to me? What am I supposed to do with my life now? Have you no mercy? Dammit!”

            “There is no mercy for monsters that can do such a terrible thing to a young girl.” He can feel the bitterness and resentment behind her words and is suddenly terrified for himself.

            He looks to the side, in the hopes that his partner would be coming to his aid at any moment, but just as he does this, he can see him clutching his throat, which is oozing blood. He collapses and continues to bleed out. He realizes that this woman’s whip must have gotten him too, slicing open his neck. He turns back to the woman who smiles in a devilish delight. “What kind of monster are you?” She doesn’t respond with words, but rather with her hands as she grabs him by his shirt. “So you’re going to kill me then? Fine, I’ve got nothing left anyway.”

            “Any last words?” She holds up her hands, as she prepares her attack.

            “Just so you know, I wouldn’t have been the first to violate her. Her father had gotten there before me, so perhaps you’ll punish him too since your so righteous. Stupid bitch!”

            “Dually noted.” With just swift a motion of her hand, she ripped the air from his lungs, causing his lungs to immediately collapse and leaving him dead instantly. “Rest in peace.” She drops him to the ground and as she does, his body transforms, revealing his true form. It’s a lizard-like snake with a forked tongue and scales all over its body. “A Kanima huh?”

            “Lori! Oh my baby! You’re ok! Thank goodness!” The girl’s father had regained consciousness and made his way over to her. “Oh, thank you so much-.” Before he could finish his sentence, he suddenly found a whip around his neck and was flying towards a wall.

            “Papa!” Lori calls out to her father, who had just been thrown against the wall. She sees the woman who saved her walk over to her father and grab him like she did the other man. “No! Don’t kill him!” The woman turns to her with a confused expression.

            “Why? He violated you didn’t he. For many years didn’t he? Don’t you want me to?”

            “No! It wasn’t like that. He did it because he loves me. He just wanted to show how much he loves me. He’s not like that man. He wouldn’t hurt me like that. So please….”

            The woman looks back at the man who has now started crying. “Are those tears out of guilt for what you’ve done or from hearing how messed up you’ve made your daughter as a result of your selfish lies? Do you feel shame? I can end this. I can make all your pain go away.”

            The man looks into her eyes and he suddenly feels as though everything is too much. That he would be at peace if he were dead and Lori would be much happier. “Yes, I want it to end. Please release me. I’m a monster who would violate his own precious child. I’m sick.”

            “No, Papa! What are you saying? You’re not a monster. I love you! Papa, please don’t!”

            “You heard him say it with his own words Lori, this is what he wants. It’s better this way.” She puts her hand in position as before, however just as she prepares to swipe, she hears,

            “Lili no!” Lili turns her head to see a woman dressed in a similar uniform with blue lining and matching hair in a long braid to the side. Her eyes are an icy blue and sparkle against her dark skin. The handles of her two Katanas can be seen behind her back. “Stop it Lili.”

            “Mai…Why are you interfering? This man violated his daughter. He deserves to die. He even said it himself. So why are you trying to stop me? He’s a sick, disgusting monster!”

            “You and I both know those aren’t his words. Tahno’s told you many times before hasn’t he? You’re not to abuse your mind controlling abilities unnecessarily. Especially not against humans. Humans are outside our jurisdiction and cannot be killed unless in self-defense. We have to leave it to the enforcers now.” She walks next to Lili and extends her hand. “Let’s go.”

            Lili looks at Mai in contempt, angry at her for getting in the way, but she finds herself letting him go and taking her hand. She starts to tear up and wraps her arms around Mai, resting her head on her chest as Mai returns her embrace. “I’m just so angry Mai. It makes me sick.”

            Mai’s voice is no longer stern, but gentle. “I know, but you can’t let your anger cloud what’s right or wrong. He may be a monster, but there’s nothing we can do, especially if this girl doesn’t want to be saved. If she’s content with things as they are now, then we can’t interfere.”

            “If you say so Mai.” Even though Lili isn’t satisfied and wants to make that man suffer, she won’t do it because Mai asked her not to. If it had been anyone else she wouldn’t have hesitated for a second, but if it’s Mai, she will never say no. She will never defy her for anything.

            Mai breathes a sigh of relief at the averted crisis. When Lili, who’s usually very bubbly and kind, is faced with cases like these where rape or sexual assault of any kind is involved, she becomes someone completely different, a loose cannon that reacts with her natural instincts. Fueled by her rage, all she can think of is her desire to make them suffer and kill them. In her mind, it’s a fair price and is retribution for all the years she suffered at the hands of selfish men. In her mind, every time she kills a Bakemon like the guy tonight, it’s like she’s killing one of those men, revenge that she’s wanted for so long, but will never be able to obtain in reality as those men are probably long gone thanks to Tahno. Even though she knows this, it’s not enough. However, killing that father, no matter his crime, would’ve been a big issue. The fact that she used her mind control powers, given to her thanks to her unlocking the rare 5th element of spirit, would’ve only made it worse. They are free to kill Bakemon at that leisure, but if they kill humans, criminals or not, they are at risk of punishment by the council. What that punishment is, no one dares to ask. Only the enforcers can handle human crimes and there is a criminal justice system for those times. In their world however, Junsui and any other Bakemon have no rights and are automatically guilty. It may be unfair, but it’s not their job to question the authority, they just do as their told. “Come on, we should meet up with the guys.” They start to leave.

            “Thank you for not killing my Papa miss. He really is a good person.” Mai looks back at the girl and her father who now looks down in shame. He knows what he did and he’s probably going to suffer from the guilt for the rest of his life. So she chooses to say nothing, simply smiling in response and then walks out the door with Lili and back on to the city streets.

###

            They approach the park, their agreed upon rendezvous point, and as they do Mai can see what looks like the faint outline of a white trimmed blazer. “Oh, I think that’s Noah up ahead.”

            Lili looks too and sees that it is, along with Nik. “Hey!” She has transformed again, back to her normal bubbly nature as she runs over to them. Mai smiles, this is the form she likes best.

            “We were wondering where you two were. We almost wanted to send out a search party, but then we remembered Mai was with you so we stopped worrying entirely.” Nik grins widely.

            “Yea, we had to deal with some pretty gross guys, but we were fine.” She doesn’t get into much more detail, not wanting to call attention to what she almost did. Mai says nothing either, not wanting to expose Lili and files it away as a secret between the two of them.

            “Where’s Gunther?” Mai asks once she realizes he’s not there.

            Nik laughs. “Do you really need to ask? Where else but in a sweet woman’s embrace?”

            “Really? How does he always manage to do that so easily? He doesn’t even try!” Lili still has a hard time fathoming why girls seem to just fall towards Gunther for no real reason.

            “That’s just his charm. He’s a hot guy with a nice build, but he’s sweet. That’s so rare that when girls see it and realize he’s actually not gay despite his feminine charm, they fall down on him like a stack of dominoes. I’m a bit jealous to be honest, not for the girls of course. I just mean that if I could get guys to fall over me like that, I wouldn’t have to watch Noah train.”

            Nik smirks at Noah, trying to get a reaction out of him, but all he gets is an indifferent reply. “Watch me all you want. The shower’s open too. But if you touch me I’ll kill you.”

            “Yea, yea, I know the drill. I’ve got to be the only person to see their crush every day and even be friends with them, when they know exactly how I feel about them and just don’t care.”

            “Well, it’s your own fault for falling for a guy who’s not gay. Not to mention one with such low standards. Why you’d ever fall for me is still the biggest mystery in this world.”

            “Tell me about it, I don’t understand it myself. But I guess it’s something I can’t exactly control. It’s the same with Rachel isn’t it. Don’t you two love each other even if you don’t know why?” He asks this carefully, unsure of how he’d react to it.

            “Love is just a childish emotion. What Rachel and I have is a matter of convenience. We’re both Junsui and we both share the same ideals. Love has nothing to do with it.”

            “If you say so Noah.” Nik knows that somewhere deep in that cold, dead heart of his, he’s still in love with Rachel and he knows by her own admission that she loves Noah. However, they both know Noah’s capacity to express that love or any other emotion is long gone. He’s changed. They’ve all changed from who they were before and developed powers above any other marked child in history. They had a metamorphosis, into the perfect Human-Junsui hybrids.

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