For One Last Embrace by carlsojos

Chapter 6

Thank you for your application, and welcome to the Hunter's Guild! Go ahead and take a seat in the bar, and a recruiting officer will be with you in a moment. Rika walks over to the chaotic bar area, and takes a seat in the corner, slightly wary of the rough-looking men who make up the majority of the Hunters.

As she gently sings to Rui to keep him quiet, she hears the sound of a pair of heavy boots walk up. She looks up, and sees a grizzled man take a seat opposite of her. He looks at the infant. Cute kid. Yours? Rika nods. Why the flying fuck do you want to be a hunter, then?

She looks back at Rui, My son's father was murdered, and I want to see his killer brought to justice.

Shouldn't you be at home cooking food for a new boyfriend, babe?

The Numan glares at the hunter. I have fought and killed many biomonsters in the past. I am willing to do anything for Chaz.

The recruiter scratches his chin. Chaz, eh? So you're that bombshell with those wicked claws that used to come here! I heard the two of you got married- I was too wasted to go to the reception, though. The old man stands up and downs a drink in one gulp. Well let's get you some gear. I notice you don't look too comfortable in that tight bodysuit.

Rika follows him, baby in hand, through the bar, then past the stage where some exotic dancers were performing, and directs her into the changing area. He steps further into the back area, and returns carrying a bundle of equipment. Here, try on whatever fits you. When you've picked out your reds, meet me by the entrance.

As Rika fastens closed a loose-fitting shirt over the jumpsuit she was issued, she looks in one of the mirrors and stops to inspect herself. Something seems a little strange about her appearance... On a whim, she extends a claw, and expertly swipes it at herself, letting a good chunk of pink hair fall to the floor. A second strike shortens the other side, and she takes an elastic band from the dresser, quickly tying the last long bit into a ponytail to keep it from getting in the way.

She gives little Rui a small bauble to keep him entertained, and looks at herself once more, amazed at the stark difference from how she looked like a mere month ago... Wearing the red and white uniform of the Hunter's Guild, she can't help but remember how Chaz looked when she first laid her deep blue eyes on him; how the young man in the jumpsuit looked back in a unique way she had never felt before or since... The memories of their life together force their way back into the Numan's mind, and she rests her forehead against the mirror, tears rolling down her face. Chaz... Chaz, please, why didn't you listen to me when I asked you not to take that job?

Hello? Rika hears a feminine voice call out to her, and she looks over to a blonde wearing an almost impossibly skimpy outfit, a concerned look on her face.

The Numan does her best to swallow her emotions and responds, Yes?

Is there something wrong?

Rika shakes her head, No, everything's fine. I'm right as rain.

There is no way the dancer could be deceived by Rika's words, but she decides not to press the issue. Well, alright. Feel free to talk to me if you change your mind. I'm always ready to listen to a story.

Rika thanks the woman, and takes Rui up in her arms as she makes her way back to the front of the Guild.

About damn time, woman! Why do you girls always take so long to change? The recruiting officer is impatiently waiting in the bright afternoon sun as the Numan made her way through the crowd. Once she reaches the veteran hunter, he spits at the ground. C'mon, let's go.

He leads her around the large building into a small alleyway behind the Hunter's Guild, completely desolate save for a few old boxes. Put the damn kid down someplace safe, he states as his fingers quickly undo the peace bond on his sword.

Rika complies, and steps over to the man who was still facing away from her. Now, miss, you need my signature on your application before you can become a hunter. I don't think you will cut it here, but this is your chance to prove me wrong. Hit me if you can, and I will sign it. I don't give two shits whether it's a glancing blow or nearly fatal, but I bet you can't do it. You can have as many tries as you have the stamina for.

Rika lets her claws slide into place, but before she could ask any questions, the old man becomes a blur of motion as his sword smashes into her chest. While only the flat of the blade actually connects, the fact that she is nursing means it may as well have been the sharp edge, and it takes the mother a few moments to realize she's laying face-down on the ground.

After a minute to will away the excruciating pain of the unfair strike, she slowly stands up and raises her twin claws in a defensive gesture. The hunter happily accepts the invitation and charges, doing his best to knock the Numan back to the pavement.

Despite a little rust lingering on her skills, Rika manages to parry most of the blows, and when the veteran finally overextends a slash by a mere inch, she lets the sword slip between two blades on her claw. She uses a flick of her wrist to twist the weapon out of his hand, and holds up the momentum to lead into a sweep to knock him down. Her right claw retracts as she falls onto the man, and he discovers exactly how hard she can punch him in the face.

The man throws his attacker off him and rolls to his feet. As Rika was about to charge at him again, he holds up his hand. Enough! You've proved your point. Head on in and I'll have your application filled out in a minute. Rika, still fuming, picks up her child and walks off to feed him and relieve the pain she feels in her chest. Her acute ears pick up one final aside from the recruiting officer before she rounds the corner, Great Light, what a wildcat! It's a crying shame I can't get a piece of that!

Next chapter

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