Chapter 22:

Known To You Forgotten By Others

X = Y

Running away from the demons that began to haunt them, Rei held Abe tightly in his arms, and he stopped in front of the police station in the city. Inspecting the area for any villains that could ambush them, he pondered for a second, assuring that no one was following. Twisting his head desperately, Abe was watching him with a face of uncertainty. She began looking around, trying to impersonate Rei. However, she was looking around to see if anyone familiar was nearby.

"It seems clear," said Rei, slowly putting Abe back on her feet. "I'll go in with you."

"Here. Before you go," said Abe, after taking her phone out of her skirt.

She tapped the screen and brought something up. She handed it over without equivocation. "The passcode is all nine numbers, then zero at the end. Find Meya, Kanda and anyone else. Remember to return it to me." she said with a light smile warped by her fear.

Rei stared at the phone, weighing his options. He took the phone Abe kindly handed to him, and he glanced over the screen. It had Meya's address on it, with a map that would lead him to her.

"Thank you," Rei responded with a combination of happiness and surprise. "Let's go inside, quickly."

"Make sure you don't snoop around too. I'm trusting you, Rei." Abe added with a playful smirk. She turned around and began walking inside the police department.

"This isn't the time to be joking around," Rei said, reverting to his serious nature.

They entered the police department, and there was no one in the waiting room except for a receptionist. They approached the desk she was sitting at, which had a massive pane of glass to protect her, with caution and haste. She had pointy glasses, wearing a black skirt that went up to her knees, black heels, and a black blazer.

"What can I do for you?" she said with a suspicious look at Rei.

"My story may sound unbelievable, but listen. Get all the police here to find the students that attended Metagawa Highschool. They should have graduated in 2018. The explosion that happened, we were there. They're targetting Abe. Keep her here." Rei spoke speedily, and his words became muffled by his scarf.

"I'm sorry. Is that true?" the receptionist responded in disbelief.

"Yes!" Abe responded with vitality. "I'm Abe Arisu! My apartment was blown up. I can give my identification. Please!" she said with fear that the receptionist understood to be genuine.

"I'm leaving, Abe. The police are too slow to move. They're not reliable. Just work with them." Kei said, jogging away.

"Kei!" Abe exclaimed with concern. Rei stopped and turned around to see her face concerned and worried. "Make sure you come back safe."

"Kei?" Rei thought to himself. "I can't promise that. You focus on staying safe." Rei said. He immediately left without hearing her response. Abe turned around and went back to speaking to the receptionist at the desk.

Running wildly, possessed by thoughts rampaging in his mind, Rei swerved through the crowd, running past even the police. Without caring for himself, his judgments were altruistic. Glancing at the phone whilst running, Rei's endurance and speed seemed not to deplete, and his well of strength kept him going. The streets were sparsely populated, which allowed him to travel readily, eventually reaching his destination.

The torrential rain forecasted for the day began to pour down on him. Like the sins committed in the world, they continued to pour on him, burdening him with all of them, tasked with righting their wrongs. He stood there, breathing heavily and exhaling, causing his breath to manifest into a white, smoky cloud before dissipating.

After examining the house the phone led him to, Rei noticed a light in the window. He began looking around to check if anyone followed him. He stood there, with the phone in his hand and his hands in his pocket, with his head down.

A girl emerged in the window, wearing a denim jacket, a short-sleeved blue top, pump shoes, and trousers. She was about to close the curtains when she saw his figure persisting there. Rei lifted his head to look up at the window, intending to show her his face, and he accomplished his mission.

"Is can't be..." The girl in the window thought to herself.

She disappeared from her window, and after a few moments, she opened the front door promptly. Staring hesitantly at her, Rei stood there, envisioning what to say.

"Rei?" Meya exclaimed, shocked and fearful.

She began walking up to him, and she closed the door behind herself. She went up to him as he looked into her eye.

"It is you, Rei," Meya said, with tears settling in her eyes.

"It's not safe here. Listen to me. You heard about Kazunori, right? They're going to come after you, Meya." Kei spoke sternly, with a determined look. Meya's face became encased with confusion. "What, Rei? Is that really you? It is...I know it's you." She was in disbelief about the entire situation.

"Listen! Believe me! Abe was nearly killed, and I carried her to the police station! Nowhere is safe!-" Rei spoke with frustration and worry.

He stopped speaking abruptly and saw movement in the corner of his eye. A small beam of light, which gleamed off a shiny surface, entered his eye, reflecting the street lighting. He grabbed Meya's arm rashly and ran nimbly towards the end of the street. Disoriented and frightened, she let out a scream.

"Rei! What's happening?" Meya exclaimed, overcome by fear.

Reaching the end of the street, they took a turn and stopped running. Rei kept Meya behind her, turning his back towards her. At that moment, three men in black covering their faces, carrying knives, appeared around the corner, running towards Rei.

"Stay behind me," Rei said sternly.

Meya's expression was aghast, and her mind and body overflowed with dismay. "Rei..." she only had the mental strength to utter his name.

"I'll protect you, Meya," Rei spoke from the deepest recess of his heart.

He sprinted towards the armed men. They flew at him, the first lunging with his knife in his right hand. Dodging effortlessly, Rei avoided the first attacker's knife and hit him in the liver with a left hook. Succesful, he staggered the attacker and proceeded with a right overhand punch, knocking him to the ground, unconscious.

The second attacker stopped after his eyes met Rei's gaze. Hesitant, his body started shuddering madly, suspended in consternation. Taking advantage of the situation, Rei performed a Yoko Empi Uchi (Side Elbow Strike), with his right elbow, into the attacker's lungs. Whilst staggered, Rei succeeded it with a Dollyo Naeryeo Chagi (Downward Roundhouse Kick) with his left leg, smashing the attacker across his entire face into the ground, unconscious.

The third attacker lunged into Rei with his knife in his right hand. However, beautifully avoiding his thrust, Rei clutched his arm and collar, securing him in place. Rei performed a Kansetsu Geri (Joint Kick) against the attacker's knee, upsetting his balance. Then, Rei threw him with a one-handed shoulder throw onto the floor. His back, meeting with the floor, created an unearthly thud. Without guilt, Rei struck the attacker on the floor with a Naeryeo Jireugi (Downward Punch), causing him to gasp for air whilst suffocating on the floor.

Meya witnessed what was approximately five seconds of combat occur in a display of Rei's new strength. Astounded but feeling safe, Meya began walking towards him. Rei ensnared the choking attacker by his clothes and shook him incautiously.

"Who hired you?" he exclaimed indignantly. "Tell me! Why are you going after us all?"

"I...I don't know who! Don't kill me!" He spoke after coughing up a storm, despair rioting through his eyes. "I swear! We're a gang hired by another gang! We don't even know who the top dog is!" he exclaimed.

Rei acknowledged he spoke the truth. With his mind still unhinged and the threat shaping itself within his mind, Rei began to fit a piece into his mental jigsaw.

"Rei...what was all that...when did you learn all of that?" Meya, in a troubled tone, spoke.

Sirens blaring in the distance alarmed then, and Rei swiftly swept Meya off her feet, running down the street and holding her. They ran back where they came, with Rei's thought process a haze for Meya.

"Where are you taking me, Rei?" she exclaimed.

"Somewhere safe. Do you have your phone with you?" Rei asked profoundly.

A police car drove past them at alarming speeds, but it pulled to the side after witnessing Rei, who looked like a robber, running with Meya. The policeman ran out of the car and began chasing them.

"Hey, you two! Stop!" he exclaimed. He began speaking into the communication device on his vest. "The gangs around the corner of the street I'm on. Proceed to arrest them. I'm dealing with something else."

Rei stopped and turned around.

"Yeah, I do," Meya responded.

"There's your way to safety. Call everyone we know, and tell them that gangs are after them to kill them. They should find somewhere to hide or someone to protect them." He added.

Rei turned around and began running towards the police officer. "Officer! I need you to listen to me." Rei commanded.

The officer stopped with a perplexed look on his face. "Why are you carrying that girl with that black scarf around your face?"

Rei put Meya down and stared directly at the officer with hatred swelling inside him. "This is Meya Sonui. She's being targeted by a gang. They're at the end of the street. Take her to safety. We don't have much time."

"Okay..." the officer responded.

At the police department, Abe has been speaking to the receptionist for five minutes. They quarrelled with each other, and two police officers approached them.

"What's going on here?" one officer said.

"She wants to see the Superintendent of the department." the receptionist responded, irritated by Abe's attitude.

"We're busy with the explosion that happened. What's your name?" the other officer asked.

"Abe Arisu! That was my apartment that blew up!" she exclaimed, irritated and restless. The officers instantly, with shocked faces, knew who she was.

"We got a call from a detective called Kei Hirojima, and he mentioned you. He said he was on his way here. We've already sent units to each of the addresses he sent us." the first officer said.

"Come with us, and tell us everything you know, miss." the other officer said.

"Gladly! Hmph!" she responded in annoyance.

Abe walked away with the two police officers. Suddenly, another officer came running out of a room.

"What's the call?" said the police officer with Abe.

"I got a call from Akashi. He said he's with a man protecting a girl who was a target. The gang members were all knocked out by someone. I'm going there for backup. The other squadrons were given new commands to protect the other possible targets in the city." he said.

"Who was the girl?" Abe questioned.

"Meya Sonui." he responed. "Sorry, I have to go now." He ran off wildly.

"Meya. I know her. She was my classmate, and we graduated in 2018!" Abe exclaimed frightfully. "If only I had my phone! I can't regret my decision now...Rei...protect them all..." Abe thought precariously to herself.

Abe's phone was buzzing in Rei's hand, calling to his friend Kanda. Meya, Rei, and the officer were around the corner of the street, and the officer had the assailants, who were lying on down, cuffed. Standing beside the car were the three. Someone picked up the phone on the other end. Meya, tapping away at her phone, sent a text message.

"I've messaged everyone to see if they're safe. I told them the police are coming." Meya responded.

"Hello? Kanda?" Rei exclaimed into the phone hastily.

"Kei? Why are you calling with Abe's phone?" Kanda responded confusedly.

"Are you safe? Listen. Gangs're going around after us. They want to kill us because we saw them destroy my house. Everyone in our class isn't safe! You heard about the hacking, right?" Rei spoke aggressively.

"What are you talking about? Yeah, I heard about it. They stole everyone's data." Kanda responded, but a wave of realisation hit him suddenly. He became astounded. "Wait...Kazunori died this morning..."

Police sirens began booming towards his house. He turned around to look at the window of his bedroom.

"You're being serious? Wow! I'm going to believe you, detective. I'll go with the police." Kanda responded.

"Stay safe...friend," Rei said with bitter sadness, hanging up the phone. He stared back at Meya. "Go with the officer, Meya. Call Risa and everyone else. Tell them to go with the police. They've probably targeted a handful of us today."

"Where are you going to go?" Meya questioned Rei, considerably concerned.

The officer, who was with them, began walking back after communicating with other police officers.

"I suggest you come with me, and I'll get the department to protect you. The police received a call from a detective, and he's coming here. He gave us addresses to go to with suspected targets, and we've covered nearly all of them." said Akashi, the police officer.

"Kanda's safe. Has anyone responded?" Rei questioned.

Meya looked at her phone and was scrolling through the replies. "Yeah, except for Risa. But people in this city, in Toshi City, said the police were at their house. The others outside the city are inside their homes or outside."

"Officer, take us to Risa's house. I'll give you the address," Rei spoke sternly.

With Kei, he was back in Toshi City, driving in his unmarked car at high-octane speeds, with his lights on.

With Rei, he and Meya were in Officer Akashi's car, and the three armed men were arrested and put into the backup police car dispatched by the Toshi Police Department.

Rei and Kei — both harbouring the intent to find more evidence, were now looking for the ringleader of the gangs who orchestrated a vicious attack on their peers — they were now entering the bleakest of worlds, devoid of humanity or emotions.