Echoes of a Distant Demon

by Sailor Doc

~ Chapter Four ~

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Author's Note 1: A big, happy 'Thank You!' to all those who have read, enjoyed and then told me about it! You are the ones who keep me going.

Author's Note 2: Just a friendly heads up! Although this is based on PGSM, the violence in this chapter is not like that seen in the show. Be warned!

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The concert had been a fabulous success.

The entire stadium had rocked out through three solid hours of first rate entertainment. Several of the elite a-list performers of the day had given their all in spectacular performances that their adoring fans would talk about with excitement for years to come.

Everyone from the performers, to the fans, to the backstage hands had been treated to a fantastic time, and everything had gone off on time and on schedule without a single hitch.

Minako was flying on the wings of a personal all-time high.

She couldn't have been happier with the way things had turned out. Her performance was right up there with the very best. The early box office figures reported a figure that would well exceed 18 million, and there had been no problems reported at all from the security team. The so called 'terrorist group' had never made an appearance, and she personally breathed a sigh of relief that it was all over.

With a wide, happy grin, she waved goodbye to her dance troupe, vowing to see them later at the post performance party at a popular local hang-out. Then, with Hibiki and Souma at her side, Minako turned for the parking garage to head home and hopefully catch a couple of hours sleep before she met the other performers for dinner and dancing later that evening. The paparazzi would be there in force, and she wanted to look her best for her fans.

Passing quickly through the labyrinth of passageways, Minako was again impressed with the double row of security guards, armed with their trademark white nightsticks, which lined the walls along all the corridors of the stadium. It seemed Souma had been correct in asserting there was nothing their security team couldn't handle.

Turning once again, this time into a shorter stretch of corridor, Minako stopped as one of the security guards stepped away from his post at the wall, raising one white gloved hand with a smile.

Politely, Minako returned the guard's smile. "Good afternoon, officer. Is there a problem up ahead we should be aware of?"

"No, no! Not at all, the guard reassured them. "The problem, you see, is standing right in front of you."

"Excuse me?" Minako said, a sinking feeling beginning to form in the pit of her stomach. She felt Hibiki and Souma stiffen at her sides. With her peripheral vision she could she eleven more of the 'guards' step away from the walls and begin to close in around them.

"Please!" the man continued. "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Nakano Tohma, and I am leader of The People's Coalition to Restore Traditional Family Values. Perhaps you've heard of us?" he asked, a bright, inquisitive look on his handsome features.

At Minako's stony silence, he continued, unperturbed. "Well, no matter, I guess," he said. "Did you, perchance, receive our letter last..."

"Yes, Minako cut him off in mid-sentence. "We did receive correspondence from some deranged individual last week, threatening both this concert and myself. That was you then?" she asked, staring directly at the man in front of her.

"Deranged?" The man seemed genuinely hurt. "That's a bit harsh, don't you think? I mean, hey! I'm your biggest fan! Can you really blame me for wanting to get to know you on a much more personal level?" he asked, openly leering at her, his eyes raking over her form with raw lust.

"Is this your idea of 'traditional family values?" Minako asked. Her chin lifted in defiance and she refused to back away as the man moved into her personal space.

"Ah, boys will be boys, you know! I just love being able to mix business with pleasure, don't you?" he replied practically salivating at his close proximity to her. Not getting the fear and intimidation he had so hope for from the pampered idol, who merely continued to look at him as if he were a bug, he had continued on another tact. "Besides, it was the perfect opportunity to grab some really big cash to promote our cause," he added with a truly evil grin. "I really must thank you properly for your most generous 22.5 million dollar contribution! That was the final count, right?" he asked a nearby associate, who nodded in the affirmative. "So, if you'll just come along with me, we can conclude our business in a much more private and pleasurable setting," he said with a self satisfied smile.

Without breaking eye contact, Minako continued to stare up at the man towering over her, so very confidant in his mastery of the situation. She smiled back grimly... a split second before she drove her knee just as hard and fast as she possibly could into the crotch of his pants.

It was all a blur after that. She was vaguely aware of him hitting the ground and throwing up all over the cement floor as she caught the next man by surprise, and with a powerful kick, drove him back into the wall he was suppose to be guarding. As she faced off against her third opponent she heard Hibiki and Souma join the fray, grunting and yelling in satisfaction as they waded into the remaining guards like bulls in a china shop. The fighting was vicious, hand-to-hand, and loud enough that soon real security guards, along with the reporters who had been hoping to catch Minako before she left, began to arrive on the scene, drawn by the noise of the confrontation. With the help of the additional security forces, Minako's group quickly regained the upper hand. Until a single gunshot rang out, echoing loudly in the short corridor.

"You slut!" Nakano screamed. Barely on his feet, and bent slightly over at the waist in pain, the enraged man held a 9mm Glock tightly in his big hand. "You are so-o-o going to pay for this!" he yelled in fury, raising his gun and pointing it directly at Minako. Momentarily paralyzed, she stared directly into the barrel of the gun. But, even as she heard the shot go off, she never saw the muzzle flash. All she saw was a rush of black material across a familiar wide set of shoulders as Hibiki threw himself directly in front of her.

"Hibiki!" she called out in horror.

With a heavy grunt of pain, Hibiki fell to the floor in front of her, blood already beginning to spread rapidly across the front of the white shirt he wore under the jacket of his suit.

"Hibiki! Hang in there!" Minako said, kneeling quickly beside her fallen bodyguard.

"A-Aino-san?" he gasped out, looking up at her in pained confusion.

"Sh-sh-sh, she comforted him. "Don't try to speak, Hibiki-kun. We're getting help; just hang in there, okay?" Tears started to run, unchecked down her cheeks as she cradled the big man's head. There was so much blood, and more seemed to be pumping out with every beat of his heart. Souma was trying desperately to stop it, but nothing they could do seemed to even slow it down.

"Ai-Aino-san, all right?" Hibiki whispered, his voice much weaker than it had been before.

"Yes, Hibiki! I'm fine! You saved me, Minako said as Souma looked up at her helplessly.

Smiling gently, the big man said, "Good then. That's good." And with a last soft breath, he died.

"Hibiki!" Minako cried, while Souma held his friend's hand and openly wept.

"Now that I have your attention, damn you, come here, Nakano growled at her from across the room.

"Or what?" Minako asked, still holding Hibiki's head in her lap. "You'll kill me too?"

"That's a given, the enraged terrorist said.

"So, why should I go with you now?" she asked defiantly. "If you're going to kill me, fine! Do it here!"

"That would be too easy, the man sneered. "Besides, you're my ticket out of here. No one will dare attempt to stop me if I have you in front of me."

"I won't go, she said, glaring at him in anger.

"Oh, all right then. If you feel that strongly about it, he said, his confidence returning. "I won't kill you." Raising his gun, he pointed it at Souma. "I'll kill him instead."

Standing, Souma clenched his jaw and deliberately stepped away from Minako, drawing the barrel of the gun even further away from her. "Fine," he said grimly. "Do it."

"No!" she ordered. "Don't shoot!" Gently placing Hibiki's head on the floor, she rose to her feet. Looking at the crazed man with his raised gun she said, "You win. I'll go. Just don't kill anyone else."

"No, Aino-san, Souma said. "Let me handle this!"

"It's okay, Souma," she said, placing a gentle hand on his arm. "Please, just keep the others here away, all right?

"Come here," Nakano demanded once again.

This time however, Minako complied. Sharing a brief look with her last remaining bodyguard, she walked slowly toward the armed maniac waiting for her at the end of the corridor. As soon as she was close enough, Nakano pulled her in front of him, using her body as a shield. With the handgun still clinched in his right fist, he kept ridged control of the unpredictable idol by holding the blade of a lock-back knife against her jugular with his left.

"So glad you could finally see things my way, he whispered in her ear, and she involuntarily flinched away in revulsion at the feel and stench of his breath against her cheek.

Laughing at her discomfort, he turned back to where Souma still glared at him across the room.

"Just in case you decide to be a hero," he began, and then shot the man in the kneecap.

With a scream of agony, Souma fell into a heap on the floor.

"Souma!" Minako cried out as Nakano began to drag her into the next corridor, the knife pressed more firmly against her throat.

"Shut up, he sneered. "I didn't kill him! He's probably going to wish he were dead for about a year or so, but I didn't kill him!"

In stony silence, Minako refused to rise to the bait. The rest of the short journey to the parking garage passed without a word exchanged between them. She could hear the crush of people behind them, following at as safe a distance as they felt they could get away with. Some, she knew, wanted disparately to help. The others to try and capture the drama unfolding in words and pictures. But she was not concerned with them at the moment. She could feel Nakano beginning to unconsciously speed up as he neared his escape vehicle just ahead.

Rounding the last corner, they both stopped abruptly, frozen in shocked surprise at what waited for them there.

She stood there like a vision from the ancient past. In her vivid robes, the Shinto priestess was a stark contrast to the dark and ugly parking facility her presence now dominated. Motionless, the achingly beautiful young woman stood like a statue, her powerful presence heightened by the long graceful bow held firmly in her left hand. An arrow was already drawn to full extension, its feathered end resting just pasther ear. Its point... Nakano felt the icy finger of fate run down his spine. Its point seemingly aimed at the dark heart of his very soul.

"Let her go."

The low voice echoed in the cavernous parking garage, colored with just the slightest hint of the fury hidden underneath the priestess' deceptively calm exterior.

Shaking himself out of the shock of seeing what he was confronted with, Nakano began mentally scrambling to collect his now scattered wits. "Come now," he began with a slightly nervous laugh. "This woman is nothing more than one more cheap, sleazy idol singer," he said waving the gun in the air as he spoke. Just another disposable pop idol that will be mourned for a day or two, before she is forgotten and replaced by another bimbo with a nice set of legs and a moderately passable voice!" Pointing the 9mm directly at Rei, he smiled and said, "What is she to you, Priestess? I assure you, her life has no value whatsoever compared to yours." Sneering at Rei's impassive face he concluded, "Now, drop your archaic weapon, and back away. Slowly."

"Rei!" Minako rasped out, trying desperately to make eye contact with the angry priestess and flinching as the blade of the knife tightened against the tender skin of her throat. "He's not bluffing! He's already killed one of my bodyguards, and the other is badly injured. Let it go!" she ordered. Seeing that her words seemed to be having no effect on the other woman, she tried once again to reach her, this time on a more personal level. "Please Rei," she said in a quiet voice. "Just let me go."

"Ah! You know each other!" Nakano exclaimed, smiling wickedly. He pulled Minako more tightly to his chest, allowing the flat of his knife to caress her cheek. "How sweet of you, 'Rei-chan, to come to the aid of your little friend here," he taunted from behind his very vulnerable human shield. "But, he added, suddenly glaring at her across that cold, dark space. "She has given you some most excellent advice, and I strongly suggest that you take it!" he concluded, thrusting his weapon at her for added emphasis.

Unmoved, Rei's eyes continued to bore straight through Minako's captor.

"I said, let her go," she repeated. "I will not say it again."

The tension in the room was intense. Seconds seemed to pass at the speed of hours as the priestess and the terrorist engaged in a silent war of wills, neither showing any signs whatsoever of giving quarter to the other. The only sounds in the dimly lit area were the clicking of the many camera shutters as the paparazzi snapped away in a variable feeding frenzy at the drama unfolding before their eyes. Local police and security kept the spectators as far away from the unpredictable situation as they could, virtually helpless themselves to gain any kind of control over what was happening. One thing was crystal clear. Someone was going to die. It was still anybody's guess who it would be.

Finally, Nakano seemed to break first and lowered his gun. "Well, I can see you are a very determined young woman. I admire that, you know?" he said, still shielding himself behind Minako. "It's a shame more young people today can't exhibit such strength of character!" he added to the still unflinching priestess.

"Yes, it's obvious you care for your friend here very much. Enough to even die for her, if you felt it necessary," he added, bringing up the handgun and using its cold barrel to gently place a lock of Minako's loose hair behind her ear in a sickly caressing motion. "But, don't worry," he added, looking back at Rei with a malicious grin as he pressed the end of the barrel firmly against Minako's temple. "You'll both die today, but she's going firs..."

It happened so suddenly that no one had time to prepare themselves for it. For one second, it had seemed as if the terrorist had taken the upper hand by calling the priestess' supposed bluff. By the next, he had suddenly sprouted the shaft and feathered end of an arrow out of his right eye. For that one second in time, even the press has been stilled briefly before coming to life again with renewed vigor. But the principals involved could not have cared less.

Minako was the first to move. Very carefully pushing the knife away from her neck, she eased away from Nakano several steps, then turned to look back at her assailant. He was still on his feet, though slightly bent over at the waist and staring at the ground through his one remaining good eye in total disbelief. As he began to lose control, he released the handgun, which clattered loudly against the cement floor, before he fell to his knees, and looked up once more at the silent priestess. She stood over him impassively. Another arrow was already notched and waiting in her resting bow. An attempt to speak on his part resulted only in a strangled, gurgling sound, and with a grunt, he toppled over onto the floor face first, driving the tip of the arrow out the back of his skull.

The place erupted in pandemonium.

Looking quickly up at Rei, Minako caught her eyes and fell into their dark brown depths, easily able to see the lavender and violet flashes there as they spiked with the intensity of Rei's violent emotions. For several seconds they stood, lost in each others eyes, neither quite able to give up the comfort and reassurance they were receiving there. Alone, together at last, they found each other, if only briefly.

"Reiko," Minako whispered softly.

Coming out of her momentary trance, Rei looked away from Minako and down at the bow in her hand, then over at the crumpled and bloodied form of Nakano. Without another word, she turned and began to walk back toward the crowd and the four beckoning police officers who seemed to be waiting for her.

"Rei!" Minako called after her, not wanting to let her go so soon. Needing her to stay.

A brief pause and a slight turn of her head were the only indications Minako had that Rei had heard her before she continued to walk steadily away.

"Rei!" she called again, more loudly this time. Starting to follow her, she was suddenly surrounded by a crowd of reporters, policemen and photographers, which seemed to roll in on her like an incoming tide. She caught one last glimpse of the priestess as she allowed the officers to escort her away, then she lost sight of her in the flash of the camera lights, and the press of humanity that once more placed her at center stage in a performance she no longer had a desire to be a part of.

END PART FOUR