Chapter 2:

Case 2 - Prime Suspects

The Dejected Detective

It had been a full 3 days since the incident. Finally, Minagawa opened his eyes. They were met with a blinding ray of light glaring off of the glass and onto his face. This was definitely not the hard concrete floors of the WWO offices, nor was it the abyssal darkness of his apartment… it was pure, bright and clean. He slowly scanned the room, though his neck was still sore from the attack so a searing dull pain hit him every so often making his eyes water and his body twitch.Bookmark here

“Pathetic”, this voice was familiar, but it was no ally. No one had entered the room. No, this voice was not just familiar to Minagawa, it was one he had heard throughout his life, his own. “What would the old man think about us getting thrashed around? I bet he’d be disappointed. He always said, we needed to be stronger” Minagawa did not move a muscle, his face calm yet it held torment. Bookmark here

“Shut it. I let you in and I let you take control and all it did was lead to pain. Your voice is not mine”. The voice contorted as its laugh echoed in the agent’s mind “oh I am you. The real you, you can try and cover it with a fresh coat of paint. But in the end, you… we will always be that which you hate. Don’t forget where you came from” the knock at the door snapped Atsushi back to reality. The door opened to a more friendly, yet mentally draining voice. “Finally awake?” The captain asked as he poked his head around the now open entrance; his forehead covered with the patented migraine gel he wore everywhere. “Planning on working your agents even in the hospital, Okazaki?” he questioned with a grin. Bookmark here

Oh please, you’re just looking for a reason to laze around with free food and sleep.” The two were caught in something alien to their conversations… an awkward silence. Okazaki took a seat and twitched at the pain in his head as he tried to decipher his thoughts and create a clever quip which he soon gave up on.Bookmark here

“What happened, Atsushi? I can’t imagine someone just waltzing their way into the WWO without no one spotting them… and, even if the rumours have some worryingly fair points, I find it hard to believe an aimless airhead like you would plan such an elaborate murder”. Minagawa struggled but managed to sit up, his boss tried to offer a hand to assist but the agent did not reach out. “Got me there. Of all the ways I’d kill someone… hand through the stomach is a tad extreme. How’s the Kouhai doing? He was the one who found me, right?” he asked, trying to not show his worry for his partner.Bookmark here

“He’s patrolling on his own at the moment. You and that kid are the biggest oxymoron I’ve ever seen”, Minagawa furrowed his brow “that’s not very nice…” the captain did not laugh at his agent’s attempt at comedy, “Look, I didn’t tell you this, but the kid’s broken. He’s blaming himself for not being there, for you getting hurt. So much that a lot of people assume he’s the one who tried to take you out. After all they do say the killer always returns to the scene of the crime” Okazaki was stern faced, he did not like to make assumptions of his staff, let alone suspect them of such an act.Bookmark here

“Really? The kid? That’s who those morons think is the prime suspect? There’s more chance of Ougi being the killer..” Minagawa announces as he rolled his eyes at the thought of Kagari plotting and scheming, it was like a kid trying to be intimidating with an evil laugh. “Oh? Now that would be an interesting twist” Okazaki’s phone began to ring, the tune so formal that Minagawa was taken aback “ah sorry, I gotta take this one” he explained, he held his hand up to apologise and left the room, with Minagawa still bamboozled by his boss’ choice of alert “even his ringtone’s stuffy”.Bookmark here

Akagawa was knee deep in his current mission. It was an attack on some recently excommunicated Izumi family henchmen, in the entertainment district. Its once fun, colourful, innocent aesthetic, was drenched in a river of red.Bookmark here

As he marched on with a crooked smile, causing havoc with each footstep. Danzo followed sheepishly, praying he was not the next to suffer the young wolf’s wrath. “Sir Akagawa… we’ll be late to the meeting. Let’s leave these dogs to die on their own” Danzo tentatively suggested as he tried to shake off the blood from his shoes. “You can go ahead.” he responded, he continued to search for any last breath of life to stomp out of this cruel world. “Sir, I’m afraid I must insist. These meetings are held bi-monthly, for Sir Hisashi to call such an irregularly timed summit must mean the topic is paramount. We must not miss such a happening” Akagawa, much like a viper, snapped at Danzo, grabbing his collar and lifting. “Quit your whining! I’m not going because the boss doesn't need me there. But you wouldn’t realise if you were needed or not. The only reason you show your coward face around the table is to save it. And what did I say about copying your old man?!” He pushed Takehaya away, and he was knocked off his feet once again. “Your old man was a boot licker who only cared about this family when he asked to care. Taking food off the table without the decency to put anything on like the fat oaf he was.”Bookmark here

 Danzo was so focussed on Akagawa, he didn’t notice he had fallen onto a pool of blood that was now soaking into his suit. When he did notice, he shot back up and tried to find a magic within him to rewind time, Akagawa didn’t say anything, instead choosing to toss him a magical talisman half heartedly as he walked away. “Clean yourself up. Always remember Takehaya Danzo, we are the necessary evil. Next time you forget that the blood in that suit will be yours” the young man disappeared into the next room, screams of agony followed his every move. Akagawa’s threat rang in Takehaya’s head, he used the talisman, its green light surrounded the stains and removed them from the stupidly expensive jacket. His fist tightened and his brow furrowed. As he left the foyer, the first henchman he made eye contact with became his victim, slamming his head into the concrete repeatedly as a red mist covered Danzo’s vision. Bookmark here

Minagawa stood at the entrance of the hospital, recently discharged. His mind was stuck on the voice from before, it wasn’t the first time this voice took over, he had torn away the memories that it gave him last time it was present. But that was many years ago, for it to come back now… Kagari walked around the corner, he noticed Minagawa and smiled. “Already out, Senpai? I’m glad”. The two had gotten into the cruiser that the order had temporarily loaned to Kagari, taking their usual seats. “You know Senpai, I read that if you lie down for too long you’ll develop painful bed sores. Are you sure you shouldn’t sit up?” He advised. Minagawa didn’t budge “sores like that are medals of honour”. Bookmark here

The two were quiet for a while on their journey as they listened to the radio. The quiet, uplifting sounds were heaven to Kagari, to Minagawa it was an annoyance keeping him awake… something Kagari knew, but he followed Okazaki’s orders to a T, even if it was to mess with his own partner. “That night…” Minagawa started but did not finish. Kagari knew what was coming, so he turned their radio off. “I know what you’re thinking, senpai” Kagari said, it was strange hearing his voice this quiet, it was wavering like he was struggling to get the words out “When I was a kid, I’d get home from school and turn on the tv, Undeterred Protector King Tora. It was a silly kids programme about a masked vigilante risking his life to protect the innocent. I was hooked, the first job I wanted was to be a hero. Whenever I saw firefighters, police or doctors I saw them as masked heroes risking it all to protect those too weak to protect themselves.”Bookmark here

Kagari recalled his former squad in the police force. The people he happily helped on a daily basis. “That’s why you became an officer. Why you joined us, right?” Minagawa asked. “There are two ways you become an agent. Either cause a ruckus and are given that choice or lose your birthright power. Or you are recommended and willingly join up. When they first asked me I was sad, because I wouldn’t get to take on bad guys with the people I loved dearly. But I knew that I could do more here, save more. Yet here we are… I couldn't even save my partner, some hero I am, huh?” Minagawa tried to find the right words, but the seconds ticked by and no sound left his mouth.Bookmark here

“I know people think that I attacked you and killed Ougi…”. “But you didn’t” Minagawa interrupted. “I didn’t believe that from the beginning. You’re too dumb to plan something so intricate” Minagawa replied, turning onto his side to face away from Kagari. “I don’t care about that.” The newbie detective snapped. Minagawa’s ears pricked up “I don’t care who suspects me. That night… I…” his partner smiled sorrowfully, “I’ll need you there next time, partner”. The young detective’s tears flowed “yeah”…Bookmark here

Okazaki had travelled back to the office. His staff had been informed of an impromptu meeting, but the reason why it was being held was information they were not gifted. Okazaki closed the door to the meeting room, dark and closed off to the rest of the office. This meeting room, more like a press room. It held four rows of two long desks with a walkway through the centre, all facing a large desk at the far side slightly raised higher. This room once held the most important meetings in the city and at capacity, this room held up to fifty people.Bookmark here

The WWO logo was painted on the walls, white washed, with the full glory logo placed on Okazaki’s desk. The captain took his seat at the head of the table, took his tablets and readjusted his cooling gel strip which was fraying at the ends, just barely clutching to his forehead. “Let’s get this over with. 3 days ago, someone found a way through our HQ and managed to attack an agent and kill a felon that was due for questioning on a major case. This trespasser then managed to escape without anyone in the building seeing or hearing anything. Do remember that this was late and a lot of staff had gone home for the day. They still remain suspects, however for now it makes more sense to run through the faculty on site during the attack”.Bookmark here

The crowd nodded in agreement and small pockets of whispers are heard around the room but die down before it becomes distracting to the meeting. “In total, there were 29 members of staff here at the time of the attack, one captain, 7 current agents, one former and 20 office staff. Due to the nature of the attack. Please allow me to name the agents, and their magic.Bookmark here

In alphabetic order, we start with: Eiichiro Reo” Reo sits at the edge of the room. Overweight and snacking away mid meeting with not a care in the world. He gave the room a glare whenever any of them stared too long. “Magic: can manipulate the muscles and fats in his body to extend and expand a chosen part.Bookmark here

Second, Hattori Osamu”. Hattori stood atop his table grinning like an idiot “Tis I! The Iconic Intellect himself! Fear not, I shall find this menace and give him a piece of my mind!” Boos erupted around the room “Sit down!” Okazaki demanded, the sudden burst of sound reverberated through his head and he twitched at the pain. “(Clears throat) Magic: Can transfer his own knowledge to another, whether it be the truth or falsified info.Bookmark here

Next, Kagari Shoto”. Kagari’s ears pricked up and the whispers returned though they stuck around for a considerably longer duration than before “Kagari does not possess a granted magic that we are aware of. He’s known to use perception spells on a regular basis and has some offensive talismans in his arsenal.”Bookmark here

As the murmurs continued, Okazaki was getting more and more agitated; he looked over at his next agent to see that the lethargic entry was zipped up in his sleeping bag. “Next!” He screamed after getting up close to the source of his anger, his voice with enough force to startle Minagawa, causing him to fall off the table he attempted to sleep on. “Minagawa Atsushi. Minagawa was the agent who was attacked and has recently been cleared by the hospital. His magic allows him to travel short distances at rapid speed in quick succession… despite him being a lazy ass” he mutters. Minagawa shakes as if he is hit with a sudden chill and sneezes. Bookmark here

“Next up is our resident electrical specialist back from his mission in England. Murata Jin” Murata was fiddling with a plug socket, but stopped like a mischievous child who’s been caught by his parents. “Magic: He can store electrical currents and use them as weapons” Jin sat next to a staff member and casually gave them an electric shock, he giggled to himself as the recipient of his prank jolted up angrily.Bookmark here

“The silent agent Prisma Chikara is next. Magic is magnetism, he can meld metals into his plaything” Prisma nodded silently. The awkward silence hit like a brick.Bookmark here

“Uhh… next. Thank god this is almost over. We have Ryusaki Homare. The self proclaimed lady and… uh, femme, fatale?” Homare fanned herself with a bright pink sensu, covered in fur and cherry blossoms. She could be smiling but the fan covers so much of her face it's hard to tell. “Magic: she can enhance her speed, strength, flexibility, balance…” Okazaki seemed to have finished “Beauty…” Homare adds. Okazaki just looked at her, his expression almost asking her if she was serious.Bookmark here

“And that’s the list of current agents. For the most part they have their alibis, some with witness statements, but I’m not ruling anyone out. And that includes this man” Light emerged in the centre of the room, the talisman in Ayame’s hand, Okazaki’s assistant, burned away in the blue embers. It formed an image of Kishou Sosuke.“Bookmark here

Some of you may not recognise this man’s face. Six months ago he was involved in a manslaughter case. Killed a young man while chasing down an Izumi family member. He’s been in isolation ever since, now that his trial is close we have been advised to cut him loose, this was done a week ago. He came by that night to pick up some mementos”. The image fell apart once again, setting the room in an ambient darkness.Bookmark here

“Interesting time to get sentimental, don’t you think?” One of the staff members noted. This set off the whispers once more. “It is indeed. But that’s why he is on the list. Like we all are. Everyone in this room is a suspect. Of course, it's possible that this was the work of this B.M.M group that’s been on the rise recently, or just the Izumi crime family. Either way we are taking every precaution, we will find the criminal and do what we do best.” The chatter continued, and Okazaki looked down at the notes on his desk.Bookmark here

“One more note. Before we leave to do our actual jobs. The day that Minagawa was attacked they had reported that Ougi Shun had been trying to pass on an item to his higher-ups. This item just so happened to be a granted magic that manifested in a hospital bed-ridden girl. We were the ones who took that spell when she had asked us to remove it. I think you all understand what this means, correct?” The room had gone silent and the agents looked on in horror. Minagawa couldn’t believe his ears. “This spell was in our possession and now it's not. It was stolen from the Arcane Vault. Now I don’t think I have to explain the seriousness of this if it is correct information. But I’ll explain anyway, if this magic twisting spell really is the one that the Izumi have a hold of now… it means that we have a leak in the Vault. I have some of the archive team searching through the vault, cataloguing it and making sure nothing is missing at the moment.” Saigusa and a few other members of the office staff are currently in the vault; she drops another box of thick books. “Should that spell be missing, that means that whether the shadow cloaked assailant is real or just a cover up story, doesn’t matter… it means that we have a traitor on our hands”Bookmark here

Kagari and Minagawa are in the parking bay. Their cruiser had been assessed during Minagawa’s hospital stay, searching for any evidence of a plot against the WWO. Kagari had been using a spare vehicle but he too was watched by an agent handler from the WWO head office run by Okazaki’s bosses. Their cruiser rounded the corner, Minagawa’s eyes gleamed as he thought of the back seat, his second bed. Kagari’s tears flowed like a waterfall as he thought of the third member of their team, back once more. The agent who had brought back Car-san parked up and handed the keys to the pair, they took great pleasure taking their spots once again and driving away. “Say, have you ever driven before, senpai? Since I started you insisted I take the wheel” Kagari asked curiously, “Once, but I fell asleep at the wheel so I was forbidden from sitting in the front seat” he responded, Kagari laughed awkwardly as he could see such an incident happening. Minagawa got comfortable, sleeping soundly as was accustomed. Kagari shook his head to the rhythm of the music. Minagawa recalled the conversation in the meeting room. “Currently, the plan is to use the agent we have at our disposal to target known Izumi bases. It probably isn’t the best plan to send suspects into these places but our other agents are either out of the country, on important missions or unable to provide help. For now this is the best play we have” Okazaki declares, the memory retreats. Bookmark here

The agents followed up with their orders, and they took to their transport of choice with their partners. Murata and Prisma found their way to their frankenstein’d abomination of metal, both using their magic to force the crying machine to move. Reo fit himself into his monowheel, completely encapsulating his lone wolf persona, or attempt at conveying that at least. Homare relaxed in her pearl-like chariot, drawn by three thoroughbred stallions, all decked out in beautifully gaudy gemstones and furs. As she took off she laughed at the others like a snotty noble laughs at commoners. The others just looked at her like she was a lunatic… they weren’t exactly wrong. Hattori had chosen a different approach, he was not trusted with a vehicle, he took the subway, trying to look like a genius all the way while his eye twitched at the thought of being looked down upon. Bookmark here

Danzo had arrived at the Izumi HQ, always fashionably early so as not to miss the opening ceremony. He was allowed through the giant double doors and into the huge estate, his gaze was immediately stolen by the wonderful artwork hung on the walls, works by the greatest painters in history… all here. It became apparent that to the boss of the Izumi, money was not a concern. He had so much of it, there were stories of him throwing away money like it had the worth of the dirt he stood on. So many people tried to stick to him, hoping that his overflowing bank account would somehow grace them with some of its surplus. Each one of them was seen as a scum that valued their own interests over that of the family. Instead of gold, they received lead… through the head.Bookmark here

One of them just so happened to be Takehaya Ieyasu, the boss proceeded to take Danzo into his arms, with his father’s blood still on his hands. Danzo took a further step in, placing his umbrella in the basket. He took a seat and marvelled at the majesty of the place “so this is how the top 1% live..” he muttered to himself under his breath. As he looked around he saw the others in the next room. A who’s who list of criminals. From the small time business men like Danzo, all the way up to the veterans who only answered to the boss. One noticed Danzo, someone that he knew well. As he smiled he quickly walked over and the two embraced. “How are you nephew?” the man asked, the two distanced shortly to within arms distance. “I am well, Uncle. It is so good to see you. How is the North treating you?”. It had been a number of months since the two remaining members of the Takehaya family had met, and they cherished these moments. “It was a rough start, but it's been getting easier. You should drop by sometime, we could use another solid mind, all I have are bootlicks and morons” Danzo smiled, “I’ll consider it.” One of the higher ups walked through from the next room as the rest were moving further into the estate. “Mori, Takehaya. We’re starting.” The man stated, he walked back to the meeting room quickly. “Let’s continue this another time, Danzo”, His uncle followed the man from before. Danzo soon copied the Mori leader. Bookmark here

As the leaders of various parts of the country sat down at their seats, it became clear how many strings had been pulled for this to happen. These were top class criminals from around the country, if the blood spilt by this corrupt clique followed them, this estate would become a river… maybe even an ocean. At the centre of it all, the head of the table Izumi Hisashi. He was balding, and growing slightly portly. This was the second time Danzo had met his boss’s boss, the last time was when Hisashi had the blood of Ieyasu on his hands.Bookmark here

Danzo could see that the years had not been kind to the old man, but then again, a lifetime of murder, booze, smokes and drugs’ll do that to you. His silky white haori was a gift from the previous boss, passed down through the generations. It was similar to a crown in that regard, Danzo theorised. It’s mere presence told others to quiet down and watch their tone, but it didn’t bring fear, perhaps that is because the only rules that the leaders of the Izumi were given included never shedding blood while wearing it. It was a peaceful garment, a ritualistic robe.Bookmark here

The leader had not looked up at his company, choosing to focus on the reports on his desk with a brooding expression that he often wore, “gentlemen, ladies. I thank you all for attending at such short notice. This was all set up after I had received some concerning reports, do forgive me.” No one spoke out of order, they knew that this was not the time to open their mouths. “Firstly, I would like to congratulate Mr Mori. He has managed to connect us to the Cartel in the dead zone, this will open up more avenues for expansion. For your contributions to the prosperity of this family I offer you the title of commander. This will grant you a voice at this table, and you will take orders from only me.” His voice seemed to carry tripmines, hoping to catch someone dimwitted enough to speak out, but his forces were taught well.Bookmark here

The Mori leader was in awe, he stood up and bowed as low as he could, “You humble me, sir. I promise to not disappoint you, or my brothers at the table” his comment got a few nods of approval, but the boss did not move a muscle. Mori took his seat once again. The boss continued “The North has been settled. From what I am told by Mr Eguchi and Ms Kamiki, the South and the East are quiet. And I currently have Akagawa covering the issue in the West. But, it seems our biggest issue currently is from within our borders here. Namely, the WWO.” He slid the records in front of him across the table, “In just the past six months, they have raided twenty of our strongholds across the city. Upwards of eighty of our children rot away behind bars, in warded cuffs.” Most will die to keep our location hidden, but to kill the issue we must aim for the head.” He explained, one of the other leaders stood. “We don’t have the firepower to take on the order currently, but that will change with two plans. Number one, relates to our new partnership with the shade. An insider at the Order HQ. We’ve managed to set up an agreement, this means we now have our hands on the Spell Manipulation Magic. This does require a host to work, but we have already decided on who will be the wielder.” The room remained quiet but a sense of anticipation filled the room.Bookmark here

“Takehaya.” The boss said nonchalantly. The higher ups whipped their heads to face him, Danzo was in a daze. “You will take the mantle, won't you, son?” The boss lifted his head finally, his gaze like a beam of light, forcing Danzo to look away. “F...For the family…” he answered nervously. “Good. We will get started in a few days. I will have my girls escort you to your new lab.” Danzo bowed hesitantly. The tension dissipated and the next plan of action was at the forefront of their minds. “Once we have these twisted magics, we will have the upper hand, which leads into the next step… we will lay low for two weeks, then? We will acquire contraband magics, we raid the Arcane Vault”.Bookmark here

The door opened, “excuse me, sir” Ayame walked into Okazaki’s office. He was smoking away, with no time to hide it, she looked at him disapprovingly. “I really wouldn’t like to see what your wife will do when I tell her” she growls as her arms cross, Okazaki panicked “Y'know Ayame-san you’ve been working so hard recently, why don’t I give you some time off” she nodded at the suggestion. Okazaki cleared his throat and the mood. “So, what do you have?” Ayame remembered why she ventured away from the front desk and handed her boss the papers in her possession. He read them quietly before leaning back in his chair with a long sigh. “This is the real thing, right?” he asked, already pretty certain of the answer “fresh from the chief. We’ve found Takehaya Danzo’s compound.” She answered confidently. The captain takes a second to gather the data in his head. “Call in the chief. We attack at nightfall”. Bookmark here

All was peaceful. The weather outside was perfect, with the aircon it was the perfect temperature. Kagari hummed along with the music gleefully as he diligently drove to their destination. Minagawa slept, but as he fell deeper into his slumber, the darkness grew and the nightmare returned. The voice inside his head appeared once more, a memory of a murky past: “This life is like the ocean. But the justice you seek doesn’t float in the sun or sit in the dark abyss. Be careful how deep you dive into the grey for your justice”. Bookmark here

As everything faded to black, blood fell like rain. Slowly at first, but quickly it transformed into a typhoon. A young boy ran in a panic trying to find shelter. He rushed from person to person, hoping to find help but they walked past him or pushed him away. He grabbed one man by the arm, but he was shoved away hard. He fell to the floor, in a puddle of blood, and as he stared into his own reflection it is clear that this boy is Atsushi. Bookmark here

“None of them! None of them can see it!? What is this?!”. The twisted laughter returned “Oh course they can’t see it! This blood was spilt by us, by our hands! Drowning in your sins is the price you pay!” it shrieked. The blood was not draining, and now, it was getting deeper and deeper. Atsushi couldn’t run from it though he tried while he screamed out in terror. “I’m sorry” I didn’t mean for this to happen!” his legs gave out and he covered his head with his hands. The blood rain was mixing with the tears running down his face. “It’s all my fault… it's all my fault…” Silence. “Help me”.Bookmark here

The rain stopped beating down on the young man’s head and he looked up wondering what had happened to the torrent. The rain continued to fall, the translucent umbrella kept the boy safe. “are you okay?” The stranger asked. Minagawa sat trembling in tears, curled up in a ball trying to hide away from everything. He stared at the man holding the umbrella, from where the warm sounding voice originated. The man was Okazaki.Bookmark here

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