Chapter 4:

Case 4 - Old Wounds

The Dejected Detective

The moonlight seeped through the small cracks in the walls. The tension was palpable. The agents glared at the man in the centre of their enemy’s stronghold, yet he didn’t seem to care either way. “Atsushi. Well colour me surprised, back in the day a place like this would be an absolute no go for you. Congrats” Sosuke taunted. He continued to rummage through some of the documents he had laid out on the desk. Bookmark here

There was no response to his teasing remark, only anger. “So, what are two agents of the WWO doing here? They plan a field trip?”Bookmark here

Minagawa stormed over and gripped Sosuke by the collar “you know damn well why we are here you scum!” Minagawa was practically steaming with rage. His sudden, jarring lunge caused Sosuke to drop the documents on the ground and spill out. “Four days ago, you appeared at the office. That same night someone broke in, killed an inmate and attacked me. We start to suspect agents on site for a possible traitor, and now here you are. At the centre of an enemy base crawling with thugs, nonchalantly scanning documents!”Bookmark here

Sosuke cracked a smile “and what? You assume that was me, is that it?” Bookmark here

“If the shoe fits” Minagawa leered at his former partnerBookmark here

“Starting to sound like the boss more and more each day. I hope you know how hurt I am that you’d suspect your former partner” he jestedBookmark here

Minagawa pulled him in closer, his forearm at Sosuke’s throat. “Don’t you even dare. The amount of hell I went through because of you was enough to strip you of that right. So don’t act like we’re friends now that your back is against the wall!” With each word his clutch got tighter. Sosuke’s smirk faded, becoming a glare. Bookmark here

Minagawa felt pressure hit him hard, like a bullet, forcing him to lose his grip and pushing him away. When he looked back at his former friend, there was a white wall in between the pair that quickly retracted into Sosuke’s palm. The former agent stared angrily at the ground, he couldn’t even look at Minagawa. “Oh, because you were such a good friend, weren’t you? You lazed around all day. If there was work to be done it’d be me doing it while you dozed off for the umpteenth time.”Bookmark here

Kagari felt like he was watching a drama, back and forth between former friends that he didn’t feel he should stick his nose into. Sosuke continued “Should’ve known better when Okazaki asked for one of us to arrest that scumbag that it’d be my burden to bare. I should’ve forced you along but I didn’t. You were curled up in bed while I was doing the work. Just what did that get me, huh Atsushi?”Bookmark here

The pressure had never been more blood soaked than this moment. Kagari felt like the weight of it was anchoring him to the ground. Sosuke lifted his head, staring daggers at Minagawa, “It got me a dead kid and a dismissal!”. Sosuke suddenly lunged towards Minagawa. He clenched his fist, and his bone cut through the top of his wrist, making a dagger-like appendage. He swung at Minagawa but the seasoned agent moved back to dodge the incoming weapon and jumped over the next attack which was aimed at his legs. Bookmark here

Minagawa leant forward, covered in golden energy, and disappeared. He reappeared just behind Sosuke, who quickly swung his blade behind him but Minagawa read this and blinked away again. Each time he appeared he would hit Sosuke hard before once again vanishing.Bookmark here

Sosuke was getting visibly frustrated, “quit squirming around! Once a coward always a coward eh Atsushi?!” He never looked away from Minagawa, watching exactly where he aimed his flash step, hoping to predict the final position but he could never gauge the distance or time it right. “Fight me like a man!” He growledBookmark here

Kagari had seen his senpai in action a few times, but never for this long. With each flash step use it made Minagawa more and more drowsy so for almost every fight they had been in, he had used his magic twice at most. Now, here he was, using it to pester rather than to deliver a crucial strike. It spoke volumes of how tough Sosuke really was. Bookmark here

Minagawa stopped a few feet in front of Sosuke, his momentum meant that he kept moving despite the sudden stop, and he used this to push him forward slightly quicker without using his magic. In his left hand, a talisman, he chanted quickly and once the parchment turned to ash, the ground beneath his feet shot him into the air. All his momentum, into this axe kick. “Lights, out!” Once it connected, Kagari heard the blood curdling noise, of bones cracking. Bookmark here

Saigusa and the vault staff had been working nonstop for the past 3 hours. Cataloguing every single spell in the vault, from transmutation spells that could ruin the economy to resurrection spells that could revive the dead, though they would be less human, more empty husk without a living soul. There must have been hundreds of thousands, maybe even a million spells all stored here. Saigusa finished the row she was examining, marked her findings in her report and wiped the sweat from her brow. “How many’s that?” She asked, deep down hoping that someone would tell her they’d finished and she could go home to her dramas, a good cup of coffee and to her adored kittens Salem and Jinx. Bookmark here

“Uhh… about 4,000. I think… lemme see how the other room is doing” one of the helpers responded, sounding as dejected as Minagawa.Bookmark here

“Please don’t, if I hear we have more left to do I might start crying”. She dropped down to a seating position and breathed in heavily. As she took a rest she looked across the room at all of the contained spells. “Makes you wonder how all of this magic got here”Bookmark here

“Well. Usually we get reports of problems caused by those with birthright magic. Depending on how they act, they're either arrested or escorted to their local branch. If they could be useful and pass the exam they can be agents. If not, their magic is extracted and put here.” The staff responded as they continued their work. Bookmark here

Saigusa raised an eyebrow “I know that at least. It’s how they got me. It’s just… the reports are the only way the order knows about birthright magics, there’s probably hundreds of people that got away. Yet here we are, with this many quarantined spells.” Saigusa looked around once more, all of this magic taken and storedBookmark here

“How do they even get here anyway? I’ve heard the rumours but so has everyone else. Do they really do surgery?” She askedBookmark here

“I had a friend who’s kid got theirs removed. Apparently it’s some sort of ritual, I heard it’s another birthright spell that’s needed to take the power” one of the staff responded. They continued their chatter while searching. With a deep breath, Saigusa got to her feet and turned the page on her section of the catalogue. It lands on spell 616, not in use.Bookmark here

The break of bones. Minagawa couldn’t believe his eyes. What was in front of him was not his former partner, but a white shield, thick and as tough as a boulder. The axe kick had chipped it slightly but it held firm, but the pain hit his leg hard. Sosuke’s blade trained itself at Minagawa, however it sliced only in the air. As he landed, his leg gave out for a second and he winced in painBookmark here

Sosuke retracted the shield. “You think you’re the only one who’s improved? I learned some new tricks too”. Minagawa pushed forward, using his blink to put more power into his strike but this too was blocked by the bone barrier. This time it remained in one piece.Bookmark here

Kagari decided that he needed to step in but Minagawa advised against it, “I can handle it, kid. This isn’t your fight”. This wasn’t just a spar, this was war. Minagawa grabbed two talismans from his inner coat pocket, one in each hand and concentrated on the chant needed. This was a first for both Kagari and Sosuke, Minagawa wasn’t one to use these gifted magics very often, due to his flash step usually being enough to deal with opponents, but this was different. The first burst into flames and as the second began to spark he ran towards his opponent, just before he reached the shield, he emanated a super bright light, blinding both Kagari and Sosuke. The bone shield-clad villain flailed his guard wildly, hoping to catch his opponent. When his vision returned, Minagawa was gone. Not left, not right, not in front, not behind. Bookmark here

Above! Sosuke locked eyes as Minagawa had released the levitation spell and crashed down on him. The shield was too slow, but it didn’t matter. It covered his entire body like an armour. Bookmark here

The two continued to try and catch the other with one pinpoint hit but both were too well guarded. Each time Minagawa got in close, all he would find was dense armour and a swinging blade trained on his head. Sosuke knew he was well guarded but it was like fighting an annoying fly. Bookmark here

“You keep running away from your problems, soon they’re gonna catch up and bite you in the ass!” Minagawa stopped just before Sosuke’s blade, it crashed down into the ground in front of him and Sosuke smirked, knowing he was slowly catching up. Minagawa blinked further back, his eyes were heavy due to his side effect. “I hope you know you were the inspiration to this armour, I knew I could never keep up with you. Now I don’t have to, you’ve got amazing speed but no power. You can blink around as much as you want, you’ll never break me no matter how much you try!” Sosuke was getting more and more confident.Bookmark here

“Then I guess I should be honoured.” Minagawa smirked as he struggled to keep his eyes open. He was running out of options, and only one seemed solid enough to work, but it wasn’t without its risks. Still, this needed to happen, he needed to be caught. “Kagari, do me a favour. I’m probably going to pass out after this, so you need to arrest him when it’s done” Bookmark here

“This is gonna suck” Minagawa thought. Sosuke tried to predict the next move. Kagari nodded “you got this”. And like that Minagawa was gone and the air around Sosuke whipped up into a mini storm. He swung his bone blade around but it didn’t change anything. Atsushi continued circling around his opponent, the floor beneath him was hit with so much friction that it started a fire. The fire caught the wind and enveloped Sosuke in a flame tornado, he coped with this but he couldn’t move.Bookmark here

The constant flash step use was taking a heavy toll on Minagawa; he used short blinks rather than constant for the most part due to it using up less energy and having less of an inverse effect. The more he used his magic, the more drowsy he became. Bookmark here

Minagawa once again used two talismans, one to levitate above and the other to push the ceiling above him down. It stretched out at a rapid pace, falling towards Sosuke. Minagawa was using it to propel himself forward, so once again Sosuke switched his armour to the shield.Bookmark here

“Gotcha”. Minagawa disappeared, and the piece of ceiling passed through Sosuke altogether. Behind him, Minagawa. One short blink to add more force into his punch, enough to send Sosuke hurtling into the wall, smashing through it entirely. Minagawa would collapse soon after, and cling to his consciousness.Bookmark here

“Illusion magic, new to the market” Minagawa explained as his eyes begged him to allow them to close. Sosuke was still awake, but standing was an act he couldn’t accomplish at the moment. Kagari rushed over to his senpai. Bookmark here

“Are you out of your mind!? If he saw through the fake he’d have sliced your head off!” Kagari shouted as he lifted his partner up to a seated position.Bookmark here

Minagawa chuckled “might’ve been an improvement”. As the junior checked on his higher up, Sosuke struggled like hell to get to his feet, using the broken wall to aid him. Kagari looked over but didn’t seem worried, the rogue agent looked like a bout with a calm breeze would knock him over again. Bookmark here

“We aren’t done here, Atsushi. Stand up, fight me!” Sosuke’s barked orders fell on deaf ears, ignored by the pair. This enraged Sosuke, he took a step forward, almost falling to his face in the process. But one step became two then three. Kagari stood between his partner and the approaching enemy but something seemed off, he couldn’t quite put his finger on what though. Everything seemed normal… but, in the moonlight there was something missing. Bookmark here

Minagawa jolted, “Senpai?” Kagari asked, wondering what his partner had seen. “He’s…” under Sosuke’s feet, the moonlight was unchallenged, “he’s got no shadow…”. Both Kagari and Sosuke checked the evidence of this statement, it was correct, and when they looked back up, it was there. The shade returned. Bookmark here

It faced the two agents but didn’t seem all too interested and after staring for a few seconds it turned around and approached the wounded lone Wolf. Sosuke swung his bone blade but it slipped through the shade’s head like it wasn’t there. That was the last of Sosuke’s energy, his armour and blade vanished into his body and he slumped over. But instead of kissing concrete he was caught by the walking shadow. Kagari and Minagawa watched with bated breath, wondering what this enemy was planning, but it simply started to walk out with the injured former agent. Bookmark here

Realising that it was attempting to rescue the man they aimed to lock up and question, Kagari rushed over. But any attempt to attack simply faded through its body, and it returned the favour tenfold, whipping its arm like a hammer towards Kagari who leapt back to avoid it. The shade continued to leave the vicinity and Kagari again tried to follow, but he was stopped, “Kagari!” He turned back, Minagawa was still trying desperately not to pass out. “You can’t beat that thing with normal magic. Leave it”. But Kagari was an upstanding officer, allowing two criminals to escape was a fate worse than death! “But” he couldn’t even finish his retort before Minagawa’s blade-like shout cut it out. “If you fight that thing you won’t be waking up in a hospital bed, you won’t be waking up at all! Just leave it.” Kagari battled with his inner justice fanatic, and eventually complied with his senior’s wishes. “I know how you feel, letting that traitor go is killing me, but neither of us can take that thing on. We’ll get em next time…” Minagawa’s voice faded at the end of his statement as the fatigue got the better of him and he passed out. “Senpai?!” Kagari rushed over as Minagawa slumped over, but as he got closer he heard a calming sound of snoring. Kagari was relieved, “good work, senpai”. Bookmark here

“What are you…” Sosuke muttered in his sleep as the shade carried him into the darkness.Bookmark here

The night had ended. The agents had completed their raids, but only received a single piece of information. Soon, the sun had risen and a new day began.Bookmark here

Prisma and Murata arrived back at HQ, they had assumed they were the first, however Ryusaki was there to greet them. She was enjoying the sun, sat under a sakura flower shaped parasol with a oversized straw hat and a colourful beverage beside. “Ah, good day! Beautiful weather today, wouldn’t you say?” Her ever present fan, waved in front.Bookmark here

Prisma bowed, and Murata looked ticked off at bumping into his colleague. Still he passed by “must be fun having no work to do”, the sly comment was heard by both partiesBookmark here

“My my, it seems someone is still angry about the last time.” She teased, Prisma could see the vein pop out of Murata’s forehead and decided it’d be best to leave them be and keep moving. As he entered the HQ, the argument erupted. Bookmark here

Danzo had returned to the Izumi stronghold a few hours prior and had just woken up. His new office space was more like a dungeon, hidden below the mansion above, dark and damp. He was permitted into some of the rooms in the mansion, however he would have a follower if he did leave his space. Now that I have this spell, I’m less of a family member, more like a tool, he thought. The spell coursing through his body was invaluable to the Izumi, and there was no way they were letting it slip away from them. But this place did have its perks, for one he didn’t have to worry about the order here, if they found him then that’d mean the entire family would be done for. Another perk was that this room was under his control, only he and the boss could have say over who could come and go, for now he was safe from Akagawa and his unexpected visits. It was a safe space, but he was trapped there.Bookmark here

Footsteps echoed loudly whenever someone started down the stairway, it was the boss’s other close aide this time, Soichiro. Both he and Akagawa worked under only Hisashi, no other family member could order them around. Soichiro was the left hand; he made sure all of the cogs turned in the system and for that he was seen as next in line to lead. Akagawa, was the merciless right hand, he was tasked with making sure everyone from the commanders to the recruits knew their place, if they stood out of line, it was his job to show them the errors of their way. The commanders did not take orders from Soichiro or Akagawa; however they were still judged by them, and were classed as lower ranked. This meant that if one of the commanders thought that the world sat in their palm, it would be up to Hisashi himself to cut that arm clean off.Bookmark here

“It’s time, Danzo.” Soichiro reported. Those words were followed by the dread Danzo had known he would feel. A few others followed the left, one being Takehaya’s uncle. Danzo gathered his courage and followed along.Bookmark here

He finally saw what had been partitioned off from his work space; a large octagram took centre stage, circled and surrounded by various ornaments. Danzo had no idea what they were all for but asking about it wasn’t really top priority in his mind. Soichiro gestured with his head to get in the centre and Danzo asked no questions. Once he took his spot, the others took theirs, one at each star point.Bookmark here

“Before this begins, you need to understand that there’s no going back after this. Only the Order has the spell to take this away. Other than that, the only way you lose this, is when you die. You understand?” Soichiro reported. Danzo was reluctant to answer, however he knew this needed to happen. He nodded and Soichiro prepared the spell. “This’ll only take a few minutes.”. Bookmark here

The room was silent, but soon a ringing sound filled the emptiness. The darkness soon dissipated as the magic circle enveloped in a blaze of teal fire. Danzo could feel the heat, but this pain was nothing to the next. Those in the ritual began chanting, these were of the old language known only to the devoted few and Danzo was not one of those people. Soichiro had a hold of a clear container, inside was the magic flowing around, itching to escape. It’s deep green colour enchanted Danzo who followed its every movement. The latch was unlocked, and the magic was loose, floating in the air before Danzo’s eyes. Bookmark here

This was the crucial moment. The magic would be controlled into its new host, but this control was difficult, but Hisashi did not hold Soichiro in such high regard for no reason. The eight moved erratically and Soichiro guided the spell to Danzo. As it reached him, it flowed into his body… causing excruciating agony. Now, the chants were drowned out by Takehaya’s screams. Bookmark here

Finally finished arguing. Prisma and Murata reached Okazaki’s office, however only Ayame was there. “Oh, the captain is in the surveillance room. He should be back in a moment” she advised. The pair bowed as she walked out but Jin had noticed the red under her eyes as she walked out.Bookmark here

As the pair ventured to the surveillance room, they heard rumours floating about, one of the female staff members had seen Ayame crying in the backroom, but when they asked what the issue was she simply smiled and avoided the question. Bookmark here

Okazaki was putting together a report of the footage. Letters formed in mid air and placed themselves down on the document he was creating. When he heard the door closing behind him he glanced to his left but did not turn around.Bookmark here

“Ryusaki’s report was: it was awfully drab, this Izumi family needs to teach their members etiquette. No signs of anything damning. Finished the search and had a spa day. End quote. Eiichiro’s statement just said bored and hungry, and all Hattori handed me was public transport invoices. Not to mention that Sosuke showed up and barely escaped. Unless it’s good news, please don’t say anything. I don’t think I can handle a bigger headache today” he quickly replaced his patch as it had dried up. Bookmark here

Prisma casually walked over to his boss’ desk and dropped the info they collected in front of him, the loud thud caught his attention. Okazaki thumbed through the pages, with his other hand placed before his face, he chewed his index finger slightly while reading. “Where did you get these?” Okazaki asked as he continued to readBookmark here

“The base we raided was practically gutted already. Half the rooms we went into were completely empty and all of the goons we fought knew only the minor details. That right there, came from a desk marked Fuma. Hidden side panel. Figured they’d use a ward or something to hide it a bit better, guess they were in a rush or something” Murata reportedBookmark here

“No no, that can’t be it. Wards are easy to detect, even camouflage spells can be spotted if they have been there a while and by my guess, those bases were abandoned by the important family members months ago. This isn’t them being sloppy… but, that’d mean either they were dumb enough to think we wouldn’t notice it, or…” the boss pausedBookmark here

“…or?” Murata was perplexed by the pause. Okazaki got to his feet, “or, it was done intentionally. I can’t imagine they would want this out in the wild, maybe… maybe they’re going through the same as us.” Okazaki’s eyes widened, he whipped his head to face Murata, he was slightly freaked out by his boss’s reaction. “The family has a leak”. Okazaki turned back to his work after about a second and the letters formed quicker than before. The page was filled and the paper began to float. It folded until it was the size of a stamp, Okazaki clicked his fingers and the paper disappeared. Bookmark here

“A leak? You got a double agent there?” Murata tried to clear his confusion. “Last guy we had infiltrated into the family, was sent back to us in a lunchbox. That was five years ago. This, this is next level. This means that one of their members is going rogue.”Bookmark here

Okazaki grabbed a few of his reports and used another talisman to make them pop out of existence. “So what now then?” Murata asked with his arms out wide. Okazaki looked at his agents. “Go home, tell every agent you see to do the same. Get some sleep, because tonight, at dusk, we will take Takehaya Danzo’s compound.” The boss left the room in a hurry, Murata and Prisma tried to comprehend what they just heard.Bookmark here

Minagawa had awoken in the office, he was lying down on a set of three chairs, placed together to make a pseudo bed. The room itself was an old meeting room that the higher ups were trying to come to an agreement on what to convert it into, but had left as is until then. The windows were covered and the door, though made of glass, was complete with a small set of closed slats. But even though they were closed he could still see the shapes of the shadows talking outside. Once they finished, the door opened and both Captain Okazaki and Kagari walked in. Bookmark here

“Sorry senpai, I would’ve taken you to your house but I didn’t know where it was” Kagari apologised. Minagawa sat up slowly and rubbed his eyes to try and wake himself up. “How long was I out this time?” He asked, Bookmark here

“Half a day.” Okazaki replied. “That’s not too bad considering you sleep most of the day anyway”. Minagawa remembered the fight with Sosuke, and his escape, it left a bad taste in his mouth and anger in his brow. “No smartass comeback? Now you’re worrying me” Bookmark here

“Would it kill you to put a sock in it for five minutes?!” Minagawa snapped back. Kagari had never seen his partner like this, he was used to the cynical sarcasm, but this was a darker side he did not want to get used to. Bookmark here

“Senpai! That’s no way-“ Bookmark here

“It’s alright, Kagari.” His boss interrupted. “Leave him to me for now. Go meet with the others, you’ve got a mission later on tonight and you need briefing”. Kagari, though reluctant, nodded and walked out leaving the boss and his partner.Bookmark here

It was quiet, much like the last time they spoke privately. “I didn’t see you as the type of person to get heated after losing a fight.” Okazaki said calmlyBookmark here

“I’m not angry about the result, I’m angry about the aftermath. Sosuke IS the traitor, we had him in the palm of our hands and I let him slip away”Bookmark here

“It is likely. The documents he was reading when you walked in weren’t anything special, Kagari brought them in. A few case files and an email from someone using an alias. None of it screams I need to hide this. But, he did get saved by the same person who killed off Ougi. We’ll keep an eye on it but that doesn’t mean that he is guaranteed to be our turncoat.”Bookmark here

“You still think it’s anyone but him?” Minagawa respondedBookmark here

“I have to. 99% sure is not 100%. I’m not letting this happen again. For now, do me a favour and stay here. You’ve got the day off.”Bookmark here

“And Kagari?”Bookmark here

“Important mission. Everyone in the area bar yourself and Hattori are busy. Apparently being a moron and going to the other side of the country by mistake means a break the day after.” Okazaki opened the door ready to leave.Bookmark here

“Cap” Minagawa calls. His boss turns back. Bookmark here

“The voice in my head, it’s talking to me again”. Okazaki flinches.Bookmark here

The moonlight cascaded off of the in-progress skyscraper, falling further down towards the build site that for the past six months had become the Takehaya compound. As always it was teeming with guards: some rested in the makeshift break room; some patrolled the grounds; some were taking the peace as an opportunity to lax their concentration. The two at the entrance disappeared into the night. From that same darkness, Kagari and Ryusaki appeared, followed by: Prisma; Murata and Eiichiro. This was the beginning of the raid on the Takehaya compound, the beginning of the end. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.