Emptiness and... power. These abstract perceptions, for a moment, were more real to him than the very air and the thrum of the car, Saori's touch and silent wish fort him to be careful distracting the phantom-man so much that he almost let go of the wheel in surprise. There was no emotion behind those reflective goggles, yet surely she'd sensed his reaction.
And then she jumped out of the car, still moving, and the Traveler knew he'd been right when he first saw her. This strange, foreign world did have heroes after all... and he'd found one. A kindred spirit. Someone who could guide him...
... and he wasn't about to let that go.
The car pulled to a screeching halt, backing halfway into an alley between two large buildings before its driver stepped out, pistol in hand. No sooner had he exited the vehicle than one of the dirty cops who'd been tracking them from rooftop opened fire with a rifle, punching half a dozen bullet holes in the hood. Steam flowed from the ruptured engine, filling the air with a thick haze. A figure vaulted out of the white cloud, rolled as he hit the ground, and came back up accompanied by the sharp crack of pistol fire. The rifleman, in his haste to get a good shoot, had left himself totally exposed; his body spun and fell as the first shot caught him in the shoulder and the second punched into his back with a spray of crimson gore. With the quick flip of a lever the six-shooter opened up, vents hissing out jets of steam as it let off excess pressure. Three shots left...
It was too risky to stay out in the open -- there was no telling how many more rooftop gunmen the town might have -- and should the meat-heads wise up that could be all sorts of trouble. The wraith-man's free hand reached up reflexively to the wound from earlier; it was healed now, but its lingering memory was a firm reminder of what these mens' weapons could do. This was no time to take chances. The Traveler glanced over to where "Chiyase" had run off to, seeing only a battered gunman with a broken weapon laying in her wake. The sound of gunfire from the side-street rang out for a moment and then faded; fearing the worst he ducked back into the alley, squeezed past the bullet-riddled car, and looked hastily left and right. No corpse, no blood...
“W…wh…what do we do?! She’s a’ gittin’ closer!”
The shout, followed by a flash of light, drew the phantasm's attention to the right rooftop just in time to watch the Asian martial artist KO another rooftop gunner in dramatic fashion. His shoulders slumped slightly, relieved that his companion hadn't come to harm. Then relief quickly turned to anger. Who were these men, these violent bloodthirsty brutes? He wouldn't let them hurt her, hurt anyone ever again! Something deep inside told him this was a battle he needed to fight, not simply escape from. It was something he'd done in the past -- felt like it anyway, a vague impression rising from the muddled void of the dream-man's lost memories. If these people were so shameless as to attack people just for wandering into their town then maybe those two crow-pecked ruffians had gotten what they deserved!
The psychic tendril of fear slithered in amongst his thoughts like a snake, weaving and hissing softly as it kept low, just out of sight. Yet when you are the embodiment of an idea, a thought given mimicry of flesh, such subtleties are no longer quite so subtle. For a moment his gaze traveled to and fro as if trying to "hear" where the strange whisper into his thoughts was coming from... then, abandoning the search, reached into his coat and withdrew a handful of bullets, gazing down at them in his palm.
But aren't you afraid? You could get shot, stabbed, killed in a thousand horrible ways. Yours could be the next corpse the ravens feast upon, a bloody splay upon the dirt... with no one to remember you. For death has your scent now.
V̋͟͏̰̫̣͇̲o̰̯̦̬͓ͭ͂͌̿͘͝i̜̪̳͙̇͗̐̑̇͢c͔̹̼̦͌̾̃ͣ̌̇͛eͬ̓̀ͬͣ ̶̦̘̘̩̬̥͖̮ͧ͆́͢͝.̸̨̯͐ͩ͂ͨ͂̈̓̂ͨ ̷̶̟̣̬̗̜̃͝ͅM̶̸̞̜̱͊͐̿ͧ̀͊i̝̰̟̗̐ͭ̈͂͌͒ͤ̑͘ͅṇ̴̢͙͐̍ͧ͑d͛̈ͨ ̍ͩ͊̌̂͌͏̞̞̠͈̻͍̬.̡̞͓̫͛͑̎̚͡ ̃̓̈ͮͬ̏̓͏͓̰͖F̽̑ͤ̀̍҉̵͕̪̰̯̩̲̯é̵̟̲̩̬̤̔ͫ͋ͥ͋ä̤̩͙́͊r̷͊͂ͨ ̙͕̯̬̜̺̕?̡̘̪̎̀̚ ̴̋ͩ̕͏̪̞͉͓̗A̙̤̺͎̲̲ͥ̃n̸͖ͦͥ̍ͅg̶̵̼̰̲̤̋͒̋̎̆ē͒ͭ̋̌̅ͦͩ̃͟͟ ̫͚͓̹͓r̴̫̠̲͐ͣ͗̐̽̔͢.̨̣͔̜̬̠͕̂̿ͫ́̈ͬ̀ ̗̥̻͛P̢̛̬̬̜͎̜͎ͨä̺̦̺̮̺́̾̍̃̕͡i̦̻̺̤̮̻̅́̍́͂̚n̝̟̐̃̒̈́̿͒́̀ ͕͇̣̰̣.̴ͨ̄ͣ̒͂͏̝̙̟̖̮͟ ̸̰̳̩̗̻͖͕ͩ͂ͥ̃ͤ̆́̄͂͘͢Ḟ̸̝̳͎͈̦̹̿́̅̎̿͠i̳̝̣̥̦͖̳͖̹͒ͪ̍̂̃n ̤̖̪͑ͩͣ̂͂͠͞d̪ͣͧ̽́̊͡ ̯̘͈͙̙̰̝̰ͬ̀̕y̤̣̰̖̹̻̖̜͍̍ͬ͡ŏ̘͚͈̙͓̇͜u̺̠̯̺̿̄̆̒͜.̾̑̅̊ͤ̓ ̢͍̬͙̩̤̮̈̕͜ ̸̶̡̯̤͙̩̥̗͆̒ͧ̑ͩ̓͊S̷̨͕̮̣͔͖̾͗̇ͦt̸̟̺̉̌̓̀̓ͧ̾ͤo̧̾ͥ͐̿ͪ̑͏̬ ̫̯p̮͉̪̊ͣ̄ͤ̓̚͠ͅ ̼̠̣͚͚͂̐̅͒͋̐́̕͢y̵͖̼̩̥̫̣̤ͭͪ̓̑ͧ͂͜ͅo̵̼̯̯̎̆ͤ͗̽̎̏͜͡u̷͐̈̈ ͇̲͍͉͓͙̙̼.̢͚ͭ͑̓ͬ̄̚
Slowly, deliberately, the Traveler began to reload.