"Heroes aren't always good people. They are heroes because they kill the bad guys." - Kuroko Tamaki
The Royal City was unusually quiet and deserted, especially at this time of the day. And then again, it had been that way for the past five days, and the soldiers of Teiko have been getting pretty nervous, as the rebels—Phantom, have been suspiciously silent, with not a hint of activity from them.
There have also been whispers amongst the soldiers within the Royal Guard and even the main Guard—that the rumours are true. And that the man whom they'd been serving and committing atrocious acts in his name for the past four years is a fake, and not the Crown Prince whom they'd sworn fealty to when they've first became a soldier.
A soldier who had been guarding one of the outposts within the Royal City yawned loudly, and his companion whacked him on the head with the sheathe of his sword, a disgruntled look on his face.
"Will you stay sharp?" he reprimanded. "What are you doing—yawning in the middle of the day like that? Not enough sleep last night?"
"I can't help it." The soldier grumbled. "Even as boring as guard duty is, there is always something happening in the Royal City. But now, we would be lucky to even see a mouse in the streets."
His companion was silent for several moments. "Do you think that it's true?" he asked at last. "About the rumours, I mean. And that the King…is a fake?"
"Watch your mouth." The soldier scowled at him. "Those are just rumours. He is the King; there is no doubt about it. The citizens have no right to doubt him, not after what he'd done for us."
His companion stared at him as if he'd grown two new heads.
"Interesting way to put it." A soft voice interrupted them just then, and both soldiers turned around, one hand on their swords, only to see a familiar teal haired young woman dressed in a white shirt with black cargo pants and boots, with a black coat. Next to her is a young man of similar age with messy dark orange hair and dark eyes, also dressed in a similar fashion. Kuroko Tamaki had a cold look in her eyes. "So you mean to tell me that the chaos and terror that he'd wrecked on our kingdom for the past four years is all for our good?" She questioned coldly.
"Traitor—" The soldier never managed to draw his sword out, as a blade appeared in his chest just then, being impaled through his body from behind. Choking on his own blood, he turned only to see his companion's cold eyes, hands grasping onto the sword currently impaled through his chest. "You…traitor…!"
He then collapsed to the ground, dead.
"To be a traitor means that I have to first give my loyalty to the one on the throne." Kasamatsu Yukio hissed in unbridled fury even as he tugged his sword out of the body. "I have never sworn my loyalty to the Red King. The one that I'd sworn my loyalty to is the real Crown Prince!"
Kuroko Tamaki sighed even as she nudged the body with her foot, turning it over so that the dead soldier is now lying face down on the ground. She exchanged looks with Shigehiro who nodded, pulling out a flare gun from his pocket and fired off a green round into the sky.
"It's been a long time, Kasamatsu." Tamaki greeted the man who nodded to her solemnly.
Kasamatsu sheathed his sword, clenching his right hand into a fist and tapping it against his chest—where the heart is. "Welcome back, Commander." Kasamatsu said solemnly. "It's been two years."
"That it has." Tamaki sighed. "So? Who can we trust to be on our side?"
Kasamatsu sighed, looking very tired. "Well, you can trust most of the main Guard to flock to your side, especially if you have the Prince with you," he stated. "As for the Royal Guard… As there aren't that many of us to begin with—especially with the few that have defected not long after you did, there isn't many that we could trust."
"Who can we trust then?" Shigehiro asked, narrowing his eyes.
"From the Self Defense Forces, apart from myself, it is only Moriyama, Hayakawa, Kobori and Nakamura." Kasamatsu answered reluctantly. "Nearly the entire Protection Unit had defected when Commander Midorima died, and from what I'd heard, they seemed to have gone to you." Tamaki and Shigehiro both nodded. "And from the Security Unit, it seems to be only Okamura, Fukui and Lui."
"Himuro?" Shigehiro questioned, and Kasamatsu looked conflicted.
"I'm not sure where he stands, to be honest." Kasamatsu admitted. "He had been the deputy to Murasakibara in the Protection Unit, and there are things that he does that sometimes make me believe he might be sympathetic to our cause, but there are also things that he'd done and said at times that makes me think that he might be loyal to the Red King."
"Out of the entire Royal Guard, only eight soldiers, huh?" Shigehiro sighed in dismay. "How pathetic is this? Even if we manage to win, our recovery process is going to be very slow. We will be in big trouble after that if rival countries decided to attack us. The Royal Guard are supposed to be the guardians of the kingdom. How can they…?" He trailed off slowly.
"Much like with the commanders of the Royal Guard, the soldiers of the Royal Guard are the Red King's ears and arms." Tamaki reminded Shigehiro. "Much like how we have been once. It is of no surprise that they've fallen for his mind traps and had their psyche twisted to Seiki's liking. Honestly, the fact that we even had eight soldiers from the Royal Guard on our side is nothing short of a miracle."
"I'm assuming that you've come to kill them then?" Kasamatsu asked quietly. "The Red King. Murasakibara. Aomine. And…Kise?"
There was silence for a long time before Tamaki sighed. "I'm sorry," she said. "But it is something that we have to do if we want to protect Teiko. Murasakibara. Aomine. And Kise. They aren't the people whom I used to know, and would bleed and die for. They've long lost sight of what they believe in, and what they're fighting for. They're nothing more than traitors now—puppets dancing to Seiki's tune. To rid Teiko of the disease that is the Red King, they have to die."
Kasamatsu looked conflicted, but he sighed, and nodded. "…I understand," he said solemnly. "I knew what I'm getting myself into right from the start when you asked me to keep a lookout for those that could still be saved and turn them to our cause—just like when Commander Midorima knew what he is getting himself into when he offered to be your insider when you'd first left with the rest of your division. All of us knew what we're getting ourselves into right from the start, and we were all prepared to die."
"Tamaki. We don't have time. Save the pleasantries for later." Shigehiro told Tamaki. "Shogo is waiting for us with the Prince."
Tamaki nodded before turning back towards Kasamatsu. "Sound the alarm, Kasamatsu. Get those whom you'd named onto our side. Seal off the Royal City with their help. And leave the rest to us."
Kasamatsu closed his eyes briefly. "Roger," he replied. "And Commander?" Tamaki paused before she could go running off to meet up with the rest of the rebels—no doubt that they've already gotten into the Royal City via one of the several secret entrances that they've used over the years to get into the Royal City for supplies or even to meet up with their informants. Tamaki turned back towards Kasamatsu with a raised brow. The usually quick-tempered soldier smiled at Tamaki. "It's good to see you back."
The plan that Tamaki had came up with, and had gone through with the rebels numerous times over the past five days had gone like clockwork.
Tamaki had taken advantage of the current large numbers that they currently have within their forces to throw the soldiers into complete disarray. And it only took Tamaki and the rest of the former soldiers one glance to know that those soldiers must be newly enlisted soldiers. And if so, the training in recent years must have gone severely downhill. Is this what Seiki is aiming for—to weaken the kingdom?
Thus, it wasn't too difficult for Kiyoshi and his group—the Uncrowned Generals to target the gates leading to the palace with their own groups as diversion attacks. And the small group that make up of Tamaki, Shigehiro, Haizaki, Takao, Nijimura, Sakurai, Kagami, Akashi and Momoi have taken advantage of the diversion to slip into the palace via one of the side gates that used to be the duty of the Protection Unit to guard. But now that their commander is dead, and the remaining soldiers of that particular unit have long fled the palace with the death of their commander, no one is guarding the side gates.
The small squad had separated into small groups the moment that they've entered the palace, with Tamaki heading with Shigehiro, Haizaki and Akashi; Kagami had gone with Momoi; whilst Nijimura and Takao had gone with Sakurai. Whilst the normally meek brunette is a doctor, it doesn't mean that he doesn't have some decent combat skills. After Tamaki had saved him from being executed two years ago and he had joined the rebels after that to repay Tamaki for her kindness, the teal haired girl had made sure that Sakurai at least knew how to fight.
Hence, this is why Kagami Taiga now found himself facing none other than the Panther – Aomine Daiki in one of the numerous silent hallways of the palace, with Momoi Satsuki by the redhead's side, glaring at her childhood friend with contempt in her eyes.
"Aomine Daiki…" Kagami hissed, his right hand closing over the hilt of his sword by his side.
Next to him, Momoi tightened her jaw, her eyes hardening even as she laid eyes on her childhood friend. Gone is the cheerful and kind boy whom used to defend her from the bullies in their hometown just because of the colour of her hair or even that she had blossomed a lot sooner than most girls. She searched his face for any sign of that mischievous boy that used to pull pranks on her by hiding frogs in her shoes and lunchboxes, but she failed to find any sign of the boy that Aomine used to be in his childhood.
"Dai-chan…" Momoi murmured almost sadly.
Is this how Tamaki had felt? It must have been a thousand times worse for her, as she had trained with the current commanders, and have gone through several trials with them throughout their time in the Academy, and then when they were apprentices.
"Stop right there." Aomine drawled, a smirk on his face even as he studied the two standing before him. "I don't know who you are…" He drawled lazily, eyes landing on Kagami before dismissing him as someone of no importance. He then turned his eyes towards Momoi. "Satsuki. It's been a long time. Nearly four years, I guess?"
"Yeah. Around there." Momoi replied, not letting Aomine's words get to her. She recalled what her best friend had said to her once. They're not the people whom they used to be anymore. And Tamaki had been right. He isn't the Dai-chan that she knew. He isn't him anymore. Standing before Momoi now is a monster. "Four years… Saying it is only one word. But living it seems almost like an eternity."
Aomine's smirk almost deepened. "I will like to play a game of catch-up, but my apologies…" His eyes darkened before he drew out the sword by his side with such speed that Momoi could barely follow the movements with her eyes. "I will have to ask you both to die here."
"Not if I can help it!" Kagami snarled. "I'm going to make you pay for what you've done!"
"Kagami-kun, cool your head!" Momoi reprimanded. "Have you forgotten what Tamaki-chan had said? You have to keep your cool against…Aomine-kun."
Kagami glared at Aomine in response, but Momoi's words seemed to have the effect to calm him down. Probably precisely the reason why Tamaki had sent her best friend with Kagami.
"And you are?" Aomine drawled, looking at Kagami with an expression on his face reminiscent to that of seeing the dirt beneath his shoes.
"Kagami Taiga." Kagami scowled.
"Kagami? Never heard of you before." Aomine drawled. "But if you want to die so badly, be my guest."
His eyes glinted, and the next moment, both Kagami and Momoi sprang apart as Aomine slashed at where they would have been a moment ago if they hadn't moved. Not to be deterred, Aomine turned around, slashing his sword at his old childhood friend.
Eyes narrowing, Momoi immediately drew out her twin blades from the sash at the back of her waist, thus parrying Aomine's blade with both of her own—stopping the blade just a hairbreadth away from her neck. The pink haired young woman gritted her teeth as she pushed the blade away, her arms trembling as she did so—especially since the strength that Aomine had been applying on his sword is insane!
"Heh." Aomine had a dark smirk on his face as he applied more strength on his sword, with the two fighting for the supremacy of strength. "You had never shown such skill before, even back when we're in the Academy, Satsuki. And even after that when we'd joined the Royal Guard."
"Of course." Momoi glared. "I'm in the Intelligence Division. Have you even recalled any soldier from that division showing off what they can do? Tamaki-chan's one rule in that division is merely that we don't show more than what we have to. That's the one reason why you would never be able to beat her or anyone from the Intelligence Division. And that's also the problem with bastards like you—you underestimate us too much and overestimate your own abilities. That's what even started this stupid war in the first place!"
"I don't get what you're so upset about." Aomine barely dodged one of Momoi's blades even as she swiped the blade in her right hand towards Aomine, and he leaned out of the way, with just a deep gash visible on his right cheek. "The King is just making this kingdom stronger than it had ever been. Screw what those rumours are saying. He is the real King. And even if he isn't, so what? He's been there for us for all these years, hasn't he?"
"I think that you need to get your head checked!" Momoi snarled even as she ducked, thus losing a few strands of pink hair as Aomine slashed at where her head would have been a moment ago, and still in her crouched position, she slashed at Aomine's chest with both her blades, thus succeeding in slashing Aomine across his abdomen and his upper left thigh. "He's turned this kingdom upside down! Everyone had been living in fear for the past four years! Why do you think that Tamaki-chan, Ogiwara-kun and all of us have even left in the first place? We could no longer stomach what we've been ordered to do! This isn't what a soldier's duty is!" Momoi parried her swords with Aomine's. "We're supposed to protect this kingdom and the citizens! Not hurt them!"
"The King is protecting this kingdom by making it strong!" Aomine snarled, a look of fury on his face for the first time ever since the beginning of the fight. "The one who is mistaken is you! And Tamaki! We are strong! The winners are the ones in the right!"
"I don't know you anymore!" Momoi almost screamed. "This isn't what you would say four years ago! And it looks like you've forgotten something else. I didn't come here alone, you know?"
"What are you—" Aomine let out a choked gurgle as a bloodstained sword appeared in his chest from behind, and large patch of blood started soaking his uniform. He coughed out blood, turning his head only to see Kagami Taiga standing behind him, a dark look of fury visible in those red eyes. "You…bastard…!"
"My parents are married when they had me, thank you very much." Kagami snarled. "And this is for Tsuchida-sempai and for all those whom you have killed, you asshole!"
"This is what I meant when I said that you won't be able to beat anyone from the Intelligence Division. This is how we of the Intelligence Division fight." Momoi panted, ignoring the injuries on her arms, and even the cut on her cheek. "We attack from the shadows. Tamaki-chan is our commander after all."
Aomine coughed up some blood even as he stumbled backwards, his back hitting the wall behind him as Kagami pulled out his sword from Aomine's body. The two then watched Aomine warily even as the tanned young man slid down the wall slowly, leaving a long stain of blood down it.
"This is it." Aomine choked, coughing up some blood as he did so, dropping his sword with a loud clang. "It…is over." He breathed before his head fell forwards, his chin hitting his chest.
And then, all was silent.
Silence reigned for a long time before Kagami dropped to his knees, breathing heavily, his sword struck in the ground. "Tsuchida-sempai, I've avenged you." Kagami murmured.
A lone tear trickled down Momoi's cheek as she eyed Aomine's prone form.
"I'm sorry," she mouthed to the corpse of her best friend and…her lover.
Tamaki, Shigehiro, Haizaki and Akashi exchanged looks with each other as they eyed the smiling blonde whose smile didn't reach his eyes blocking their way, standing in the middle of the hallway that leads to the throne room.
No one said anything for several moments, and the echoes and the distant sounds of fighting could be heard from where they were. For a moment, Tamaki is worried about her comrades, but she soon shook it off. There had been more than once when she had to send someone to their death, all in the name of victory. It had been something that she had done often, even back when she had still been an active soldier in the Royal Guard. If she takes every death personally, she would have gone crazy a long time ago.
Haizaki was the first one to break the silence by stepping towards Kise, drawing out his sword. "I'm sorry, but can you leave this to me?" he asked, glancing over his shoulder at Tamaki before flickering his eyes back towards Kise. "If things had gone different, I would have killed him when we'd broken out Nijimura-san a month and a half ago."
Tamaki nodded. "He's yours," she said, showing that she had completely no intention to interfere. And by the looks of the remaining two, they don't either. Instead, rather similar to Tamaki, both Akashi and Shigehiro seemed more interested in how well Haizaki is going to fare against Kise—or rather, the other way around.
"It's been awhile, Shogo-kun." Kise greeted coldly. "And what makes you think that you can beat me? I'm one of the Generation of Miracles after all—one of the Royal Guard's command—"
"Shut up already!" Haizaki snapped, annoyed. "I know that you're one of the Generation of Miracles, blah blah blah. You don't have to repeat it every few minutes! Besides, you're only one of them because Tamaki recommended you! You've never beaten her or even me once, have you? Even when we're still in the Royal Guard?"
Kise snarled, narrowing his eyes dangerously at Haizaki before drawing out his own sword and getting into a stance that is oddly familiar to all those present. Shigehiro only raised an eyebrow. "Dance of the Crescent Moon? Are you fucking serious, Kise?" Shigehiro questioned. "You're going to face Shogo with his signature move? That is his family technique! Where is your honour?"
"That's why I think it's going to be pretty ironic if I beat him with his own prized move." Kise smirked. "You aren't the only one who's good at copying moves, Shogo-kun."
Haizaki's eye twitched dangerously.
Within the Teiko Kingdom, there have been clans like Tamaki, Shigehiro and even Haizaki's clans that have signature moves, and even their own unique fighting style that only members of their own clans could utilise. Those clans have been known as the Ten Master Clans—and Tamaki, Shigehiro and Haizaki's clans have been part of them. But with the war with Kamata West a little over a decade ago, the number of members making up those clans have dwindled down to a mere handful, with some clans only having one lone survivor, as the members of the Ten Master Clans have been soldiers for generations ever since the inception of the Teiko Kingdom.
Hence, outsiders who used a clan technique without permission are usually asking for trouble, and there is an ancient law within Teiko that allows the members of the clan whose technique had been 'stolen' by an outsider to challenge them to an honour duel.
A fight between Kise and Haizaki is inevitable at this rate.
It had always been this way ever since they were in the Royal Guard. The two are just too similar and yet different at the same time. They have always been bitter enemies from the first moment when they have clapped eyes on the other. The only difference now is that they are now both willing to fight to the death.
"You dare use my clan technique against me, Kise?" Haizaki snarled, almost hissing Kise's name out with pure venom. "Have you no shame?"
Even Akashi looked furious at this, and Shigehiro looked to be on the verge of entering the fight himself if it hadn't been for Tamaki who had restrained him by placing a hand on his arm. And then again, the teal haired girl looked pissed as well.
It is just a matter of manners and honour for an outsider to not use a technique not belonging to their clan. To even attempt to use a clan technique that isn't their own is bad enough. But to use a clan technique against a member of the clan whose technique had originated from is an insult of the highest degree.
"The Ten Master Clans have been all but destroyed. And with the remaining survivors, there aren't even enough of them to be called a clan anymore." Kise retorted, smirking at the enraged expression on Haizaki's face.
"Be that as it may be, but the remaining survivors still have their clan's name and pride to uphold, as well as their honour and clan prestige." Akashi hissed in fury. "The Haizaki Clan have been loyal soldiers—much like Tsuyu and Ogiwara's clans. That is more than I could say for you! They deserve better than that! You have no right to steal their clan technique and to use it when you aren't a member of that clan!"
"Enough." Haizaki growled, sounding angrier than anyone had ever seen him. For a moment, Tamaki could swear that she could see sparks flying from her childhood friend's eyes, and she sighed, muttering a small prayer beneath her breath for Kise—she is fairly sure that Haizaki will at least hack the blonde into pieces if he isn't already planning to do so. "If I don't hack you into pieces today, I won't be able to face my dead parents in the afterlife."
"You're welcome to try." Kise smirked, even as Haizaki dropped into a similar stance as Kise's.
"You should have died numerous times already, Kise." Haizaki hissed. "First with Tamaki at that village. And if Aomine hadn't been there to drag you away, you would have died at her hands." Kise narrowed his eyes. "And then a month and a half ago, you should have died at my hands if it hadn't been for your backup. Your death has been long overdue for months now. I am here to collect."
"Aren't you confident today?" Kise taunted.
There was silence for several moments before both males moved at the same time.
Dance of the Crescent Moon is a unique swordsmanship style unique only to members of Haizaki's clan. It basically forms after images of the swordsman—fooling their opponent into thinking that there are copies of him. It is basically a swordsmanship style that uses tricks to bluff their opponents and to deal the finishing blow when they aren't expecting it.
"Too slow!" Kise taunted before there appeared 'copies' of himself, all dashing towards Haizaki, the sword raised.
Not to be deterred, Haizaki closed his eyes, focusing his senses. It is his clan technique. Thus, he knew the weaknesses of it better than anyone else. Those copies are just that—after images. They aren't real. There is only one person, and like all living things, they give out auras.
Got you, Haizaki thought to himself as a familiar aura entered his senses, and without even opening his eyes, he swung his sword down—with his sword entering flesh, and there was the sickening smell of blood as he felt something splash onto his hands.
Haizaki opened his eyes once more only to be greeted with the sight of a blood covered Kise Ryota, with Haizaki's sword in his chest. And even as he looked closely, he saw the tell-tale signs of wire wrapped around Kise's limbs that really explained why Haizaki could kill him so easily.
The gray haired teen turned and glared at his childhood friend over his shoulder. Tamaki only shrugged—indicating that she had been the one to plant that wire—most likely during when they were trash talking each other. That really explains why Tamaki had been unusually silent during their 'conversation'.
"He's my former student. I have a responsibility to stop him as well," was all that Tamaki said.
Kise coughed as Haizaki pulled his sword out from within Kise's body, blood spurting out as he did so. The blonde coughed harshly, crimson blood spilling from the edge of his lips as he stumbled backwards, his sword falling from his hand and landing with a light clang on the carpeted ground. He held his chest with one hand, blood spilling over his fingers and landing onto the ground. Kise then chuckled weakly to himself as his back hit the wall behind him, and he slid down the wall slowly into a sitting position.
"So this is it…" Kise whispered to himself. "You traitors… Teiko will rue the day when they had traitors like you as soldiers." He coughed harshly, hacking up some blood. He then looked at Akashi. "You…don't deserve to be the King. With the kingdom under your rule…it will only weaken."
Akashi's eye twitched. "And under Seiki's rule, the kingdom will be destroyed," he countered. "I can see that now. I'll put my feelings as a brother aside if it means that I have to protect my kingdom and my people."
Kise coughed harshly before looking at Tamaki next, and he smirked weakly. "I know…that I can never…beat you…or Shogo-kun…or even Ogiwara…if I only utilise what…you taught me…" he rasped. "But whatever…" He wheezed before smirking weakly. "I'll…be waiting for you in Hell…"
Kise's eyes then slid shut, and his chin fell onto his chest, his breathing having stopped completely.
Neither one of the four said anything for several moments before Haizaki sheathed his sword back into the sheathe by his side, and he sighed. "…It is Hell here too," he murmured.
"Shouldn't you be going out there, Atsushi?" Himuro Tatsuya asked quietly, entering the office of Murasakibara Atsushi only to see the tall purple haired man standing at his window, his back facing Tatsuya, staring out of it, munching onto a chocolate bar. Both soldiers could hear the sounds of battles happening both outside and even within the palace.
"It's too tiring." Murasakibara drawled, not turning around to face his deputy. "Besides, it'll end soon. They'll be dead before they reach the King. Doesn't matter whether he is the real one or the fake one. His is the path that would lead Teiko to greatness. All of us believe that—that is why we follow him. No matter what it takes. If he orders it, I would kill for him."
There was silence for an extremely long time until Murasakibara almost thought that Tatsuya had left his office without him hearing. Until he heard Tatsuya's voice from right behind him, sounding regretful.
"…I'm sorry, Atsushi."
Murasakibara then felt searing pain in his side, and he looked down only to see a blade impaling him from behind. With a loud roar of fury, he turned around at the same moment when he drew his sword, swiping at where Himuro Tatsuya's head would have been a moment ago.
The dark haired young man leapt backwards, but he didn't dodge it fast enough to avoid a long and deep slash across his side, and dark crimson blood splattered onto the ground, and onto Murasakibara's desk. Ignoring the pain in his side, Tatsuya used the desk as a springboard before leaping towards Murasakibara, twisting his body to avoid Murasakibara's sword, even as Tatsuya pulled out his backup sword, swinging it towards Murasakibara's neck, and beheading him cleanly.
The head actually went flying off towards the direction of the wastepaper basket, landing within it.
Tatsuya coughed harshly, crouching atop the desk, feeling warm sticky blood when he pressed his hand against his side, with crimson blood spilling from the side of his lips as well. Through the haze covering his mind, Tatsuya could hear the sounds of battles, and his lips twitched.
"I…have to go…and help…" he murmured in a daze even as the dark haired young man stumbled towards the door, leaving a trail of blood behind him unknowingly, with several dark spots appearing in his vision even as Tatsuya made it out to the hallway.
The world is slowly spinning around him, and Tatsuya felt all his strength leave him even as his back hit the wall beside the door leading to Murasakibara's office, sliding down it slowly, thus leaving a large patch of blood as he did so.
Tatsuya coughed harshly. "…I'm…sorry…" he slurred, not even sure who he is apologising to now.
Is it to Alex—because he couldn't save her—because he is freaking undercover? Is it to Taiga—his adoptive brother, because he couldn't tell him that he had never betrayed his ideals and his honour? Is it to Atsushi—his best friend, because he couldn't pull him back from the darkness? Is it to the real Crown Prince—the one whom he'd sworn to protect and serve when he had first became a soldier, because he couldn't protect him like he'd swore to do?
…Or is it to Kuroko Tamaki? Because he couldn't fulfil his promise to her to come back alive?
Himuro Tatsuya had approached Kuroko Tamaki a mere month before she had defected, along with the rest of the Intelligence Division.
The acts that the Royal Guard have been committing in recent months all in the name of the King had been scaring Tatsuya, and Atsushi's recent behaviour and thought pattern is making him uneasy too. And not just him, but the other commanders as well. In fact, the only one who seemed disgusted and horrified at what they were forced to do is just the only female commander.
"And what do you want me to do?" Tamaki asked Tatsuya after having met him within the archives room of the palace. "You know as well as I do that there isn't anything I could do now. They don't listen to me." She added tiredly. "Not anymore."
Tatsuya looked disheartened. "…Can't we help them? Save them?" he pleaded. "This…isn't the Atsushi that I knew! That…monster isn't the Atsushi that I knew!"
Tamaki was silent for a long time as she studied Himuro Tatsuya carefully. "…Are you willing to risk everything to help him? To stop them?" she asked at last, and Tatsuya looked at her in surprise. After a long moment, he nodded with determination. "Then if you really want to help him, I want you to do something for me…"
Tatsuya coughed harshly, his vision slowly going black.
"What is it that you're asking me to do?" Tatsuya asked with desperation.
Kuroko Tamaki didn't flinch even as she met Tatsuya's eyes.
"…Be my spy."
Tatsuya chuckled to himself bitterly. 'In the end, I couldn't even keep my promise, or even tell Taiga that I'm sorry,' he thought to himself. 'Okamura and the others… I hope that they at least made it out. I wonder… If I ever meet Alex in the next life, if she will forgive me?'
The dark haired young man still remembered what Kuroko Tamaki had told him, and what had made him determined to stop his best friend from committing more atrocious deeds.
"Himuro-kun, heroes aren't always good people." Tamaki told Tatsuya, a sad look visible in her eyes. She after all understood this better than anyone else.
The Intelligence Division are spies—sometimes forced to play the villain all for the good of the kingdom. They are undercover agents—the best of the best. What she is asking Himuro Tatsuya to do is going to be cruel, but they had no other choice.
He wouldn't be the first person to undertake this role all for the good of the kingdom, and he wouldn't be the last.
"They are heroes because they kill the bad guys." Tamaki said bluntly. "If it ever comes down to it, can you bring yourself to kill Murasakibara-kun?"
Can he kill his best friend?
Back then, Tatsuya had already known the answer to that question.
"But if you're going to do this…" Tamaki looked at Tatsuya in the eye, seeing his resolve and determination within those dark orbs, "then at the very least, I want you to swear that you'll come back alive. There have already been too many deaths. Enough is enough. And then perhaps, someday…"
Tatsuya coughed harshly. "So…this is what you meant, Tamaki," he rasped. "I…won't be the first person to play…the role of the villain for the good of the kingdom…and I won't be the last either…" He rasped. "If they win, then I'm going to die anyway…" He rasped. "Finish…this…" He slurred. "…Live on… Tamaki…"
Just as his consciousness faded away, he distinctly saw shadows approaching him, and then, he knew no more.
Sakurai examined the unconscious Himuro Tatsuya before turning back towards a grim looking Tamaki.
"He's still alive. I can still save him," he said before pulling out his medical tools from his bag. "Leave him to me."
Tamaki nodded before her eyes shifted to Takao and Nijimura. "Guard them both," was all that she said, and both Takao and Nijimura nodded with determination.
"Leave them to us." Nijimura reassured. "The Red King will be yours." His eyes flickered from face to face. "Come back alive."
"We will." Shigehiro promised.
Tamaki's eyes then softened as she looked at the unconscious Tatsuya as Sakurai laid him out on the ground, ready to work his magic. "Rest well, Himuro. You've done enough. Leave the rest to us."
The palace was eerily silent, and not a single guard or even maid was in sight even as the four of them made their way through the halls and towards the direction of the throne room. It feels almost like déjà vu to Tamaki who had probably taken this path a thousand times in the past.
Finally, all four of them found themselves standing outside a pair of elaborate looking doors—golden in colour with silver edges, and it even had silver lion head knockers on it. For a long moment, neither one of them said anything before Tamaki broke the silence.
"The last door…" she murmured to herself, clenching her hands into fists by her sides. "If I step through these doors, will I leave my past behind?"
"Everything for the past four years… It has all been for this moment." Shigehiro stated.
Haizaki nodded, agreeing. "Let's end this," he said.
Akashi nodded. "I'm the Crown Prince of Teiko Kingdom. It isn't a title that I'm giving up so easily," he said. "The throne is mine. Teiko Kingdom is my responsibility! I'll put my feelings as a brother aside if I have to. Too many people have died for my sake. Father once said that the path to good intentions is paved with blood. He is right. The last death… It will be his."
Tamaki nodded slowly. "We've all been waiting for this day for a long time," she murmured, pressing one hand against the door. "Let's go."
And she then pulled opened one of the doors and stepped through it.