While in the auto shop Okami was put to work by Jamie's uncle. It was mostly just carry this or pass me that. She didn't mind, as long as she could still listen to Jamie's stories. They were fascinating. He had journeyed all over the traveling world with his uncle, searching for parts for different machines. They even supplied the Mecha department here in Buten, whatever that was, but Jamie's uncle seemed to be proud of that so it was probably a big thing.
“So how often are you on the road?” Okami asked as she helped Jamie lift something.
“Every three months or so,” Jamie's uncle said from under the car. “Jamie show her the map.”
Jamie huffed as they put down a large box of spare parts, “Sure thing, Uncle.”
He ran over to the wall and touched some buttons Okami hadn't even noticed. Two thin mechanical arms extended from the brick and a panel of light shot between them. Okami gasped and jumped back, a little startled at the bright lights. The light blurred and changed colour to form an image of a map.
“Wow,” Okami finally said. She was speechless.
“I know right!” Jamie beamed, mistaking her shock for awe. “My uncle built it himself. Something like this would've cost an arm and a leg. Maybe even two, but anyway here is the route we take.”
Jamie moved his hands over the holographic screen and it shimmered, tracing the road they traveled in red. Okami watched it move all around the map, but stopped when her eyes landed on a dark spot, it had swirling shadows and glowing eyes.
“What's that?” Okami asked interrupted Jamie's explanation of the map.
“Oh, that's an Akuma Zone,” Jamie explained.
Okami stared at it intently. Suddenly just next to the dark patch a flashing red light appeared and a short ping sound played. Okami flinched on the spot, alarmed at the sudden sound. Jamie's uncle approached the board and tapped the dot.
“Hmm, there's been another sighting,” he mumbled grimly, while scrolling through a pop up window. “It sounds big. We'll have to change our route.”
“Uncle's managed to hook up the board to the Akuma live feed,” Jamie explained, noting Okami's frown. “It let's us know where any dangers are and if any new ones appear. It's really helpful on the road.”
“They're appearing more often,” Jamie's Uncle muttered, almost to himself.
There was some silence for a bit. Okami was amazed at how a little dot could affect the mood so drastically. She made a mental note to never find one of those in real life. A sudden shout from the front of the shop broke the tension.
“Hello? Old man Ray, you there?”
“Yes, yes. Come in, we're just at the back. Ah, Sil, I was wondering when you would be stopping by,” replied Ray.
“Yeah, it's lunch time now, so I thought I would pop in,” Sil said as he entered the shop. “Did you manage to find anything I requested?”
“Not everything, but I think you'll be very happy with what we have,” Ray answered, pulling up a wrapped package.
“Lunch time...Wait, it's lunch time already!” Okami exclaimed, startled at the time she had spent in the shop. “I have to get going if I want to see more of the city.”
“Thanks for your help,” Okami said as she waved and ran for the exit. “Come on, Kage!”
“No problem. See you around!” Jamie shouted back.
Kage lazily got up and trotted after Okami. Sil pulled his head out the box, frowning. He hadnt realized that there was someone else in the shop. He stared at a little girl and large dog enter the bustling street. His frown suddenly turned into a shocked expression as he recognized them. He jumped back, alarmed.
“Th-That's the girl!” he exclaimed in a panic. He ran after her and scanned the busy crowd, while hastily searching his pockets. What is she doing here?
“Ah, um, I'll come back later, Ray,” Sil stuttered, while trying to find the girl. “Something, um, important suddenly appeared.”
Sil ran into the crowd, pulling out his two-way radio and changed it to the correct frequency, barely keeping an eye on Okami.
“Znake!” He shouted over the roar of the market. “The girl's out!”
There was some static before the Hebikami answered, “Yeah, we know. We're looking for her.”
“It's Znake's fault!” Haruka shouted from the background.
Sil heard them start an argument in the background, but before it got out of hand Sil interrupted, “I just saw her. She's at the market.”
“We'll be right there!” Znake responded.
Sil grinned. Now all he had to do was keep the girl here. He looked up to where he had just seen her and his smile dropped from his face. Sorrow filled his chest. There was a thump followed by another and Sil felt a hand touch his shoulder. Sil turned around to see Znake and Haruka.
“Well? Where is she?” Znake asked, his eyes dashing around.
“I..I lost her,” Sil said flatly with a blank face.
“Honestly, Sil. How could you let the same little girl outsmart you twice?” Haruka mocked.
“She was right there!” Sil retorted, in frustration.
Znake began massaging his temples. Haruka was about to say something back, but he interrupted her, “Okay, enough! Let's just split up and look for her. She couldn't have gone that far.”
Haruka and Sil nodded and ran off in different directions. Znake turned and gazed at the busy market place and sighed. Honestly, how can one girl be so much trouble?
Okami had finished looking around the bit of the city that was near the hospital and had even met some other friendly people, who were kind enough to give Okami and Kage some food. They were crossing over a field that looked like it belonged to a school, the setting sun’s rays making it a light golden-green.
“Wow, this field is nice. It’s so soft, hey, Kage?” she said as she scrunched her feet into the grass. She had taken her shoes and socks off because she liked to walk bare-feet and put them in a bag she was given by one of the shop owners for helping him catch his escaping chicken.
Kage barked happily and dance around Okami on the expansive field. Okami found a large enough stick and through it. Kage went to fetch it and brought it back. They did this a few times. Okami sighed peacefully, closing her eyes and enjoying the setting sun’s warm rays on her face. It was nice to just relax. She hadn’t felt this content since, well never. This city had truly been a blessing. It was just what she needed to get back on her feet again. Maybe there would even be someone here that could help her. She hadn’t been sure what she was searching for or why she wandered aimlessly, but after the past month the answer slowly surfaced. She needed to find out who she was and why she was different. She thought about the benevolent force she had felt after the first city. Was that a clue? Okami’s concentration was broken by a soft scream.
“Huh?” said Okami, opening her eyes and turning in the direction of the scream. Kage looked up from the stick he was chewing and perked his ears.
“What was that?” Okami wondered.
Just then Okami heard loud laughter coming from the same direction.
“Let’s go check it out,” Okami said and ran forward, her curiosity getting the better of her.
Before Kage could give a protesting bark Okami was already half way there, so he ran to catch up. Okami came to the edge of a building and she looked cautiously around the side. The scream belonged to a little girl who was standing behind a small boy, both of then not much younger than Okami. The little boy was standing defensively in front of the little girl, she was crying. The little boy had his fists placed rigidly in front of him. The loud laughs came again and Okami peered around the corner more. They belonged to two older boys.
“Aw, isn’t that cute? Come on, kid put those down,” one of the boys mocked.
“Yeah, you’re going to hurt yourself or should I say we are.”
The older boys burst into laughter again. From what Okami could deduce the older boys were picking on the younger two. Okami’s fist tightened and she stared growling. She didn’t like people that preyed on those weaker than themselves. The older boys laughed again then advanced on the little boy.
“You won’t last against us. We’re level ones and you’re not even in the academy yet.”
One of the older boys kicked the little boy in the side and he fell down. The other started terrorizing the girl. They both laughed again. Okami had had enough; she put down her things and walked forward. Her spirit flared, her rage fueling it.
“Wait here, Kage,” she said in a cold voice. Kage looked up at her but stayed where he was.
Znake and Haruka were now tired from searching the entire city and were walking back in the direction of the hospital, with Znake massaging his temples again.
“I can’t believe she just disappeared like that…”
Haruka looked up. “Don’t worry…I’m sure we will find her, Znake.”
“Yeah, but it’s not like she’s just going to jump out in front of-”
“Hey! You two, stop that!”
“Huh?” Znake looked up. To the left of the road was the entrance to the Academy’s courtyard and there was a girl with her back to Znake, she looked oddly familiar, and two older boys with two younger children.
Haruka looked up too. “Ah! That’s Ghost and Chasuki! What are those boys doing to them?”
Haruka made a move to run for the two children but Znake held her back.
“I know, but let’s just see what’s going to happen.”
“Huh? What you say?” One of the older boys turned around and glared at Okami, he faltered a bit at the intensity of her eyes.
“You want to get taught a lesson too, huh?” Threatened the other.
Ignoring their threats Okami said again but louder and more serious, “I said stop that!”
“What you going to do if we don’t, little girl?”
“I’ll stop you,” Okami said simply shrugging her shoulders, like it was obvious.
Okami walked forward to face the two bullies and they left the younger children to deal with her.
“Oh, really? You’re going to stop us, huh?”
They taunted Okami, trying to intimidate her, but she just looked at them with calm gold eyes.
“Znake, please! This is madness, she’s just a girl. She can’t handle two level ones!” said Haruka franticly trying to squirm out of his grip, but Znake remained where he was and didn’t let go of her arm.
The boy behind Okami put a hand on her shoulder.
“Listen, kid, we’re level ones. So don’t even-”
With a growing grin on her face Okami elbowed the boy behind her perfectly in his solar plexus. He coughed, winded, and spat out some saliva.
“What the-?!” yelped the boy in front of Okami.
He then attacked her with his left fist. Okami’s reaction was timeless. She swooped to her left and deflected his punch with a quick movement of her right hand. Then with his abdomen exposed Okami hammered his stomach with a powerful punch. The first boy was getting up so Okami vaulted off the boy in front of her, knocking him to the ground, and back flipped high enough to land in a sitting position on the shoulders of the other.
There’s no doubt about it! That’s her, thought Znake while watching the fight, relief settling over him.
Once on the other boy’s shoulders Okami tightened her legs around his neck and pulled him into a forced back flip which sent him crashing to the floor. Okami landed gracefully just in front of him. She looked up at the two children, they were staring at her, dumbfounded. The little girl was the first to break the silence.
“That was amazing, Onee-chan! Thank-you!”
“Onee-chan? Hehe,” Okami managed as she started blushing and rubbed the back of her head shyly.
“Are you apart of the Academy?” asked the little girl.
“The Academy? I don’t think so…” Okami said while thinking about it, her eyes returning to blue.
“That was still amazing. You’re really good at fighting, Onee-chan.”
The little boy still hadn’t said anything.
“Say thank-you, Ghost,” the little girl nudged the boy in the ribs.
“Thank-you. Ah! Onee-chan, look out!” The little boy pointed behind Okami.
Okami turned around to see the one older boy had a blade in his hand and was winding up to slash Okami. Just then Kage jumped out of the shadows and clamped his jaws on the blade.
“Ah!!” screamed both boys in terror. Kage growled threateningly.
“L-let’s get out of here!!”
Both boys made a run for it, frantically trying to get away like a scared bunch of chickens. Kage trotted up to Okami and gave her the blade.
“Ah! A dog!” said the little girl and jumped back.
“Don’t worry, he’s very friendly,” Okami said reassuringly.
The little girl hesitantly patted Kage and he in turn licked her cheek. She giggled a bit, overcoming her fear of him.
“We’ve been looking all over for you,” said a voice from behind them.
Okami turned around quickly. Znake and Haruka approached them.
“Aniki!” greeted the little boy.
“Aniki...?” Okami repeated, looking up at Znake who was being hugged by Ghost.
What’s an Aniki? She twitched her nose.