AN: Once more, this story involves characters of Kate's and mine. Thanks go out again to Kate for letting me use her characters. Please e-mail all comments to FrankMayn@comcast.net
Frank and Neko-Chan flew down the glass covered walkway as fast as their legs could carry them. Both the demoness and the Persona User skidded to a stop, only to watch a hysterical Kate trying to open the double doors at the other end.
"Tellka!!!" Kate said hysterically. "It... it won't open!!!"
"Stand back!" Frank said as he ripped his shotgun from his back.
Tellka pulled Kate away from the doorway. Noticing that the door was locked permanently, thanks to someone removing the lock switch, the Persona User leveled his shotgun at the center of the doorway. Without saying anything, Frank quickly pulled the trigger on the Remington M870, sending a flurry of silver pellets from the barrel of the gun. The two woren and the catgirl demoness immediately covered their sensitive ears from the loud blast, considering that the blast was a few decibels louder thanks to the cramped area that the four were in.
With a quick pump as the recoil sent the gun flying upward, the spent shell flew from the shotgun, bouncing off the glass, and finally off the concrete floor, filling the hallway with an eerie echoing sound. Frank glanced at the door and noticed a gaping hole now in the center. Slinging his shotgun on his back, Frank charged the doors and let out a kick. Feeling the doors shudder behind the force of his kick, the Persona user tried once more. This time, Tellka was helping him by kicking the other door. With the applied force, both doors shuddered, and collapsed into the other hall, finally making the shortcut usable.
"Wait..." Tellka said as she did a mental head count. Immediately, the older woren's tail began to flick impatiently.
"Where are the others?! That's a WERETIGER we're dealing with!!!"
Frank looked Tellka straight in the eyes. "I know what we're dealing with! Some of us don't! You couldn't have possibly expected us to stick together!" The Persona User said hotly.
"I don't believe this..." Tellka grumbled. "So where is everyone else?
Frank pulled his girlfriend and the catgirl demoness behind him as he began to run. Tellka was doing her best to keep up with them.
"Ellie and Diane were the last two out... I told them to meet us in the receptionist office back in the first floor..." The Persona User said as the group rounded a corner. "I saw Yuki, Janet, and Brad tearing down the stairs as well..."
Tellka just shook her head. "You know..."
"Believe me..." Frank replied as the group skidded to a stop in front of the elevator. Kate was there, frantically pushing the call button as she had seen the Persona Users do earlier.
"I know... That's the worst thing we could have done...Tellka..." Frank said quietly.
"Oh... come on... open up! PLEASE!!!" Kate said as she frantically pounded on the doors. Every so often she'd look back with a haunted look on her face. Frank immediately noticed that she was crying as well.
"Kate, calm down!" Frank said as he held his girlfriend.
Kate didn't. She looked up at Frank with tear filled eyes. Both her ears were drooped, and she couldn't hold her tears back. The Persona User held her close to him.
"Kate... We'll be okay... I promise you... We'll all get out of here alive... okay?" Frank whispered into his girlfriend's ear as he ran a hand through her hair.
Kate just looked up at him with those clear blue eyes of hers. "Promise?"
Frank nodded. "I promise." With those words, the elevator doors opened.
"Myah! Frank! Kate! Tellka! Our ride's here!" Neko-Chan frantically said as both her tails began to wave around spastically.
"C'mon you two!!! We've got to get going!!!" Tellka said as she was spinning her staff.
Both Frank and Kate nodded. Frank hustled his friends into the elevator car, being the last one in. Immediately, The Persona User smacked the door close button and the first floor button, hoping that the stops in between floors because of the wacked security system wouldn't ultimately be their demise.
While Frank and his group were busy with the elevator on the fifth floor, Diane and Ellen were tearing down the spiral staircase that took the group up to Guido's office in the highest floor of the building, which happened to be the fifth floor.
Both teenagers streaked down the hallway, not even bothering to look back.
"Diane... where do you think he is now???" Ellen asked the woren.
"I dunno, Ellie... If we're lucky..." Diane said as they ascended the staircase back up to the second floor. "He may still be tearin' that guy apart... Ellie... ya sure yer okay? I mean that man shot ya in the back and yer still alive..."
Both teens continued to tear through the maze-like hallways. "I'm fine... the vest stopped the bullet, Diane... though the force of the impact left me hurting, which is why I downed a Ripobitan." Ellen said as they found the ascending staircase and quickly bolted up it.
"Third floor... if anything, by now..." Ellen started.
"Dun say it..." Diane replied to the Persona User as they continued to run.
Ellen was going to say something, when a thump and a snarl stopped both girls in their tracks. Slowly turning around, both Diane and Ellen noticed a weretiger ascending the staircase, still with blood caked around its jaws.
"Aw CRAP!!!" Diane yelled.
Ellen made the biggest understatement of the year. "This is definitely NOT good!"
"RUN!!!" Diane yelled at the Persona User. Both girls put more effort into running, since a snarling, feral weretiger was now giving them chase.
While they were running, Ellen was pulling some of the huge potted plants that lined the hallway down behind them, praying to God that it would buy them some time to get away from her now berserk boyfriend. Her plan was working, but unfortunately, it wasn't slowing him down enough.
As it was, both Ellen and Diane could feel the hot, musty breath from the weretiger's mouth on both of their necks. In no time, he would be upon both of them.
"Ellie! Make a sharp turn right!!!" Diane yelled to her brother's girlfriend.
Ellen didn't even respond. Both she and Diane quickly banked right around a corner. As soon as both girls were around, the Persona User took a quick look behind her, only to notice that Alex/weretiger had pounced at them.
My God!!! If we didn't make that sharp turn...
The Persona User watched as her transformed boyfriend flew through the air gracefully, only to make a not so graceful landing in the wall. Upon collision, a cloud of dust and debris kicked up from out of the wall, leaving a noticeable weretiger shaped hole in it. Both Ellen and Diane wasted no time in leaving the scene.
"Think that slowed him down???" Ellen asked as both she and Diane ran up the stairs to the third floor.
Diane just gave Ellen an odd look. If she weren't busy trying to outrun her transformed brother, her tail would be waving impatiently.
"Slow 'em down... yeah... but stop him..." Diane paused for a second as she leapt a few stairs on the way up. Ellen was close behind her, doing the same. "It's gunna take much more than tha'..."
Ellen and Diane continued to tear down the maze like halls, making sure to bank sharply at every turn that they could. Noticing that WereAlex had no traction whatsoever on the tiled floors of the hallways, they both used that to their advantage. Whenever the weretiger was closing in on both of them, all the two girls had to do was to bank sharply at a turn. By the time both had reached the first floor, there was a noticeable number of weretiger shaped holes in the walls in both the second and third floor.
Both girls stopped for a split second in front of the staircase leading to the other end of SEBEC.
"How... how did..." Ellen panted before walking up the staircase with Diane in tow.
Diane chuckled lightly as the two made it back up to the second floor. "I am his sis, ya know... There are these things that ah have t' know about him..."
"Right, I guess... Anyhow, Diane, I think we..."
Both the Persona User and the weretiger's sister stopped in their tracks. Ellen and Diane turned slowly, only to see an angry weretiger stalking both of them.
"Crud!!!" Diane muttered under her breath.
Ellen quickly looked at her surroundings. Noticing a bright red Coke machine along the wall, she quickly processed an idea.
"Diane! I'm going to need some help!" Ellen said as she edged toward the machine slowly. Noticing what Ellen had in mind, the woren quickly made her way to the machine.
Both girls struggled to tip the heavy machine over onto the floor. When the soda machine fell, it was not a moment too soon. WereAlex was in mid pounce when the machine fell onto his head, sending metallic cans flying into the hallway.
This little maneuver actually phased the weretiger for a moment or two. Diane and Ellen took the time to slap each other five before making their way carefully around the various cans of soda in the hallway. As soon as they were clear from the wreckage of the vending machine, both girls took off running down the hallway once more. Ellen turned her head when she heard a snarl from further back down, which was quickly replaced by a growl of surprise and a thudding into the wall.
"Musta slipped on those odd little cans..." Diane said to Ellen as they ran up the staircase.
Ellen looked to her friend. "True... true..." She started as she ran down the hallway. "But I really don't think that will slow him down for too long."
The Persona User wiped her brow as they rounded another corner.
"Ellie! Ya okay???" Diane asked in concern.
"Not really..." Ellen said as both of them banked around another corner. "I'm getting tired... Not used to running this much... I wasn't a track star back at St. Hermelin... much less a part of the team... What about you, Diane?"
Diane waited before they banked around another corner to answer Ellen's question. "Jes fine, actually. I'm pretty athletic, I mean if ya've evah seen me in P.E...."
"I get the picture, Diane..." Ellen said with a chuckle as they banked around yet another corner.
"What floor are we on??? Ah mean... Ah lost count after the last set o' stairs we came up..." Diane asked as she glanced at Ellen.
Ellen was looking around. In the distance behind both of them, she heard a snarling weretiger.
"Back on the fifth floor, finally... See... there's the walkway... Huh?" Ellen said.
Both girls slowed down when they noticed that both doors were now laying flat in the hallway. Diane looked at the wall across from the doors and noticed that many silver pellets were imbedded within.
"Musta been Frank... Don't he use silver in his shotgun?" Diane asked the Persona User.
"Yeah, he does, Diane... Wonder why he had to blow the doors off if Alex was..."
WereAlex finally caught up with both girls as they were investigating Frank's handiwork with the walkway doors. Without even looking back, Ellen and Diane skidded around another corner before going down the hallway once more. The weretiger thumped into yet another wall as both the Persona User and the weretiger's sister floored it down another set of stairs. Oddly enough, they came to a stop in front of the elevator on the fourth floor.
"Diane..." Ellen started. "I can't go on anymore... I'm gone..." The Persona User was trying to catch her breath.
"Dun say that Ellie! If we wait here any longer, we'll both become..." Diane stopped short as two things happened. One, the elevator binged and opened up. Two, WereAlex came around the corner at full charge.
Frank peeked out the elevator when the doors opened. Upon seeing Diane and Ellen, he was relieved. But when he saw a vicious weretiger charging at his friends...
"SHIT!!! ELLEN!!! DIANE!!!" Frank yelled as he pulled his still shocked friends into the relative safety of the elevator car. As soon as both of them were in, he slammed the doors close button, catching only a glimpse of a graceful cat form flying by as the doors shut. Once more, the elevator began its slow trek down. Ellen and Diane slumped down onto the floor beside a shivering Kate.
"Hey... you two okay???" Frank asked his friends.
"We're fine, Frank... just winded..." Ellen said as she rested.
Frank just shook his head. "I hope the others are okay..."
Back on the fourth floor, the weretiger was snarling since he lost his prey. However, his sensitive nose picked up yet another scent. The weretiger bounded down the stairs and into a stretching office on the third floor.
Just moments before Diane and Ellen began their trek through the hallways of SEBEC, Yuki, Brad, and Janet began theirs.
On the third floor, Yuki stopped the group. Without a word, the Japanese teenager yanked a door open and led her group into an extremely long office space, littered with desks, both normal standing and overturned, normal office equipment, and papers strewn about.
Brad looked up at the flickering lights. "Jeez... the lights give this place an spooky feeling..."
At that moment, all the lights decided to go out in the office. The only things lighting their way were the computer monitors and the eerie glow coming from the mist covered windows.
Janet shivered, despite the fact that she was wearing a jacket. "Damn... can't hardly see a thing in here... It's like the fog is creeping into the room..."
"Shimata..." Yuki muttered under her breath. When Yuki begins to curse in Japanese, one can usually tell that she is not pleased at all.
Brad extended his spear while Yuki drew her throwing razors. "Just what we needed... near darkness and fog... Hey Yuki! Where's this supposed to lead to anyway?"
"Back to the other end of SEBEC, I believe. I noticed this on our way up to Guido's office... Along with the other door on the other side. This should be a snap!" Yuki replied to her friend.
"As long as we stick together, right? Ladon... I can barely see in here..." Janet muttered.
"Stay close, then. I know it's a straight shot, but still... with all these desks overturned..." Yuki started. She began to walk forward, knives at the ready, with Brad and Janet behind her. By now, Janet had drawn her Beretta and kept it pointed at the floor, in case of a surprise attack by demons. Brad was looking around wearily for anything unusual.
The only sounds that could be heard in the room was the light breathing coming from the three teenagers and the constant humming from various computers within the office. Janet caught herself staring at an angel screensaver on one of the iMacs in the room. She was shaken from her thoughts though, by an odd noise.
"Brad? Yuki? Did you two hear something?" The Windian asked nervously. The light coming from the monitor shone off of the sweat on Janet's head as she darted her eyes around.
Yuki looked around as well. She heard something crashing into something else within the room. "Janet... I... I..."
"LOOK OUT!!!" Brad yelled as he tackled his two friends to the ground. The Persona User just barely got them both to the ground as a snarling weretiger flew over him, leaving a rip in the varsity jacket that he was wearing.
"Kami-Sama!!!" Yuki yelled from the ground. "Brad! Janet! Are you two okay?"
"Yuki! I'm okay! Though he tore the back of my jacket..." Brad muttered.
Janet slowly got up. "Brad... Thanks... Uh... I think we should get GOING!!!"
Yuki and Brad slowly turned, only to see an angry weretiger stalking all three of them. Both Persona Users slowly put their weapons away. Janet looked at both of them and followed suit. Sure, it was a weretiger they were dealing with, but at the same time, all three knew that Ellen's boyfriend was still in there.
"Uh... Janet? How exactly do we stop this thing?" Brad asked as he backed away slowly.
"From what I know? Honestly, nothing... just to wear him down, and pray that he reverts!" Janet replied to the bewildered Persona User.
Brad picked up an orange iMac from one of the desks. Holding it by the handle, he chucked it as hard as he could at the weretiger. The Persona User watched in shock as the computer bounced off, hardly doing any damage at all. In fact, it only made him madder.
"We can't stay! Come on!!!" Yuki yelled. Brad was soon in hot pursuit, with Janet following him closely.
The three teenagers tore down the long, stretching, fog filled office. Janet looked back once and began to scream when she saw the eerie sight of a weretiger charging at them through the fog that was now filling the room. She looked forward once more and noticed that both Brad and Yuki were picking up small objects and tossing them backwards.
The three teens continued running through the eerily lit, fog filled office, throwing paperweights, coffee mugs, staplers, and the occasional iMac at the pursuing weretiger. Nothing was slowing it down, except for the desks which it just barreled through. The only sounds on their minds at the moment were the ones of their feet echoing through the office, the sound of claws clicking rapidly behind them, and the splintering wood coming from behind them. Finally, they reached the other end of the office way. Yuki pushed Janet and Brad through before trying to slam the door shut, only to discover that it wouldn't latch. She left it, and tore down the hall after her two friends. Only a moment later did the weretiger come bounding out after them, sending the door into the opposite wall and turning it into a mess of splinters.
"Holy..." Brad started as he looked back.
"Kami... Nothing will stop it!!!" Yuki said frantically as she looked back.
"Hell... he even shrugged off those iMacs I threw at him!!!" Brad said in shock.
Janet was beginning to panic. The three of them had run into a dead end, with only the elevator doors behind them. She watched in horror as the weretiger began to stalk the three of them. Silently, she powered up a flame spell.
Hell... if I go... I may as well go down fighting...
Yuki looked back as she noticed their predicament. "I can't believe it... I didn't want to go this way..."
"Neither did I Yuki... Neither did I..." Brad said quietly. As he was closing his eyes, the weretiger began to charge at them. The Persona User waited for the final blow, but it never came.
The elevator doors opened behind the three teenagers. Immediately, Frank and Tellka looked out. When they saw the weretiger charging their friends, both the Persona User and the woren grabbed them and pulled them in. Frank was immediately slamming the doors close button once they were in.
"C'mon... C'MON!!!" Frank yelled as he continued to mash the button. Finally, the doors began to close. The Persona User looked out and went wide eyed, since the weretiger was in mid pounce. The elevator doors closed, and finally, a dent emerged within them as the car began to shake. By now, Kate was crying hysterically in the back of the elevator. The elevator began to proceed downward at its usual, slow pace.
"Frank... We owe you one..." Yuki said quietly.
"Hey... I wasn't about to stand here and let my friends get killed..." Frank replied to Yuki.
Tellka did another head count. Apparently satisfied that all of them were there, her tail began to wave. "'Least no one got killed..."
The doors opened once more on the second floor. Brad reached over and slammed the doors close button so that they could continue their trek back to the receptionist office.
"So... Frank? Are we safe yet?" Yuki asked.
Frank got up from where he was sitting beside Kate, trying his best to keep his girlfriend calm. He was about to reply to Yuki when something rocked the elevator, throwing him to the ground.
"What the..." Frank stammered out.
"Oh my GOD!!!" Ellen yelled as she looked up.
Everyone in the elevator looked up at the same time. The top of the car was peeled back like a sardine can, only to reveal a snarling, drooling weretiger who was very, very angry.
By now, Kate had just curled up into a fetal position in the corner of the elevator, and was now sobbing uncontrollably. Instantly, Frank was beside her. Thankfully, the doors at that moment decided to open.
"Everyone OUT!!! I'll be behind you guys!!!" Frank yelled to his friends.
"But Frank!" Brad started.
Tellka smacked the egotistical Persona User upside his noggin. "He said get out! Why won't you just go?"
Brad finally ran out of the elevator after everyone else. Tellka stole a glance at both Kate and Frank, before leaving slowly.
"Kate... I won't let anything happen to you..." Frank said as he quietly picked up the sobbing woren. Kate just leaned her head against his chest and continued to cry, The Persona User ran out of the elevator with his girlfriend cradled in his arms. As soon as both of them were out, the weretiger had finally landed in the car, and was soon giving chase.
Frank rounded a corner, and spotted Neko-Chan waving him on.
"Myah! Frank! In here! Hurry!!!" The catgirl demoness yelled out. Immediately, Frank put on the after burners and floored it into the reception office, strafing in to make sure he didn't bang Kate on the door frame. As soon as they were in, Neko-Chan slammed the door shut, locking it.
"Everyone! Get back!" Frank yelled as he ran away from the door. No sooner than he said that did the door bust inward, revealing a snarling, angry, yet tired weretiger.
"He's weakenin'!" Diane yelled.
Janet looked around at the others in the room.
Feh... no one's doing anything... well, they are in shock... May as well...
Janet launched a flame spell at the weretiger, making it flinch. The Persona Users watched her, before understanding what she was trying to do. Unfortunately, none of them could help. Frank was busy calming Kate, while, Brad, Yuki, and Ellen couldn't summon their Persona fast enough to pop a spell off.
Neko-Chan glared at the weretiger before placing her left hand on her hip and raising her right arm.
"MYAH! ZANMA!!!" Instantly, a glowing orb of All Mighty energy formed above her raised hand before zooming at the weretiger, knocking it back a few paces.
Janet and Neko-Chan continued to launch spells at the weretiger, driving him back into a wall. With two last spells, both the Windian and the catgirl demoness knock WereAlex into a wall, finally making him unconscious. As the weretiger fell, it reverted back into a normal woren by the name of Alex Brandshire. Immediately, Diane and Ellen ran up to the unconscious woren, who was now wearing what was left of his Windia High school uniform.
The woren in question slowly began to stir.
"Agh... My head is killing me... What... happened..." Alex said as he rubbed his temples.
"YA IDIOT!!! WHAT WERE YA THINKIN'??? YA NEARLY KILLED ALL OF US!!!" Diane yelled into her brother's face.
Alex just shook his head, before noticing Ellen. "Ellen! Oh thank Ladon... you're alive! How..."
"Kevlar, love. The vest Frank gave me earlier is designed to stop bullets... Though the impact hurts like anything..."
With those words, both of them embraced.
"Ellie... I thought... I thought I lost you... that's why..." Alex said as he started to cry.
"Alex... I understand... but you've got to... I mean, you nearly killed us... after you tore Tiny apart..." Ellen said as she soothed her boyfriend.
"Ellie... Diane... guys... I'm sorry..." Alex said quietly.
Frank was busy calming Kate, who by now had a sense of calmness in her.
"See? We're okay... I kept my promise Kate... I kept you safe..." Frank said quietly.
"Frank... thanks... Thank you..." Kate replied to her boyfriend. The Persona User set her down gently before giving her a smile. Frank then turned to the window, noticing that many things had changed while they were inside. For instance, all the security shutters were now up.
"Well..." Frank started as he turned to his group. "The agents that were outside aren't there anymore... The fire we started is now out, and it stopped snowing."
"So... where to now?" Tellka asked the Persona User.
"St. Hermelin, Tellka. It's still cold out there, and Alex is in desperate need of a change of clothes. Janet also lost a sleeve on her dress when she got injured earlier, and I promised her we'd go back to the school after leaving this place." Frank explained.
"Oh, jes great! I hope we dun have ta put up with that bald teacher of yers, Frank." Diane said as her tail flicked disapprovingly.
"I hope so too, Diane. Well, it's almost over... three shards down, two to go. The sooner we get to the school, the sooner we can plot our next destination." The Persona User said to his friends.
With those words, the somber teenagers, a catgirl demoness, and one woren warrior filed out of SEBEC, and made a beeline toward the school.
Frank was lost in thought before they hit the streets.
At least it wasn't as bad as I thought... I'm just glad to get the hell out of there...
Kate tugged on Frank's sleeve. "Frank? Are you okay?"
The Persona User nodded. "Yeah... I'm just glad nothing else happened to anyone I care about in that God-Forsaken place..."
Kate stopped for a moment to stare at her boyfriend's back as he walked into the streets of Lunarvale. She shrugged off a thought before running to catch up with her friends.