Chapter 27:

Those Unneeded Are Replaced Apathetically

X = Y

The day was going strong, and the night would come like a bulldozer ploughing its way through Toshi City. However, that time was not yet. At the precinct, the four gangsters walked out of a single police car, cuffed and cowardly. Walking in, with their heads hung amongst stigmatic hatred for what they were — gangsters.Bookmark here

Inside the department, all four gangsters were taken to a room, seated, with Rei and Kei sat opposite to them. The unnamed police officer who arrested them stood there diligently. Kei had his laptop out, typing expeditiously, his eyes fastened to the screen.Bookmark here

"We have all the information we need. All the evidence we have is conclusive. In the court of law, they'll probably call me for a testimony. You can do nothing else but plea bargain and plead guilty to a lesser charge. That's the way of the law. You will never get away with murder. Especially when there are people who cared for them." Kei said, pointing at them.Bookmark here

"However. If you help us, then I can reduce your sentence. To comply that easily with me suggests you were forced into this. Your records, even before this incident, are not clean." Kei said, stopping abruptly.Bookmark here

"They know this. Listen to what I have to offer. Tell us where the generals or whatever they're called are." Rei rudely intervened.Bookmark here

"This is my case. I'm dealing with this." Kei spoke, putting his foot down, admonishing Rei. He turned his head back to the four.Bookmark here

"What would have happened if you didn't follow orders?" Kei inquired. All of them gulped, betokening unfavourability and trauma inflicted upon them if they spoke.Bookmark here

"We would be dead. Prison means no freedom, but you can't have freedom in this world if you're dead. We'll give you the location." Shu Kurachi conversed timorously.Bookmark here

Abruptly distorting the atmosphere, someone knocked on the door, reintroducing a sense of uncertainty, unfamiliarity, inducing tremors of angst within everyone, excluding the officer. He opened the door, and another officer stood in the doorway.Bookmark here

"Kei Hirojima. Two girls are looking for you. They said their names were Abe and Meya, and they wanted to give you information on the incident." the second officer said.Bookmark here

Kei and Rei looked at each other, signalling the end of the interrogation. They stood up, Rei walked past the officer, and Kei went up to Shu Kurachi. Kei revealed a notepad and pen from the inside pockets of his trench coat and placed them onto the desk.Bookmark here

"Write the name of the location here." Kei said, pushing the pen into the notepad.Bookmark here

Meya and Abe were waiting for the boys to meet them, sat in front of the main desk in the waiting area, on the rows of plastic chairs.Bookmark here

"Do you think it was a good idea to see them now? Kei's busy with his case, and Rei seems so lost. That boy really needs some direction in his life!" Abe exclaimed to Meya, making wild gestures with her hands.Bookmark here

"Maybe if they see us safe, they'll be happy, and their sadness will go away." Meya spoke with high spirits.Bookmark here

"Hey...Meya...No. I can't ask that...but I want to. Wait, let me think. " Abe speaks shyly. "We're going to have a funeral for Risa, right? I'm so lucky to have survived..." Abe's speech was breaking up, and she covered her mouth, crying.Bookmark here

Meya moved closer to Abe, hugging her, trying her utmost to comfort her.Bookmark here

"Yeah, we will. With everyone from Magaki, Abe." Meya said sweetly, marshalling a smile.Bookmark here

Rei, walking down the corridor and into the waiting area, noticed Abe sobbing, catching his attention immediately. In his mind, Rei wanted to avert the situation, avoiding any confrontation with her. Knowing how useless he was and the deplorable regret he directed towards himself, witnessing her cry previously, was the reason he never wanted to behold her sadness again.Bookmark here

"Why am I running away? Did I run away when I had to fight my Master? Did I run away from the demons in my life? Yes, but only to get stronger and destroy them with my fists." Rei thought to himself.Bookmark here

Charismatic and heroic, he walked up to Abe and Meya, who discerned his scarf, identifying him effortlessly.Bookmark here

"Rei..." Abe said, staring at him fondly.Bookmark here

Kei began walking out of the room, and the cuffed gangsters went with the other police officers to the jail cells upstairs. He noticed Abe, Meya and Rei talking and hid around the corridor corner, wishing not to disturb their relationship.Bookmark here

"What are you doing here." Rei spoke dolorously.Bookmark here

"We're here to see you and Kei." Meya said kindly.Bookmark here

"Why were you crying?" Rei inquired with a severe tone.Bookmark here

"Oh, it's nothing! Really." Abe, smiling deceitfully, was sympathetic for Rei.Bookmark here

"It's dangerous out here! Even here! Why are you here!" Rei shouted angrily, garnering the attention of everyone in the waiting area.Bookmark here

The air filled with tension and suspense. Like time froze, every single second felt like an eternity, and no one could talk; everyone was breathless, craving for the nourishment oxygen would provide. Crushing down like a hammer against the earth, the density of this fabricated atmosphere only increased. Abe's face, stunned beyond recognition. Meya's face was fixed on Abe, wondering what she would do. Then, like a wooden board snapping, someone had to break the unendurable tension.Bookmark here

Abe, stunned by his words, stood up, trying to push Rei. Her hands were against his torso, and she closed her eyes, pressing against Rei in one impromptu motion. Rei took a simple step back, not faltering at all. Abe opened her eyes, looking up remorsefully, staring directly at his eyes, his face covered by his scarf, tears steadily flowing down her face. She ran away, and Meya stood up, running after her, with Rei taking note of the direction she went.Bookmark here

"Abe! Wait!" Meya exclaimed.Bookmark here

Kei, who watched everything unfold, walked up to Rei, placing his hand on his shoulder. Rei looked back with disgust, but for himself, comprehending the mistake he made.Bookmark here

"What do you want to do? Sort this out, or go after the general?" Kei spoke empathetically.Bookmark here

"I'll straighten my priorities first." Rei said, walking away, his hands in his pockets.Bookmark here

Abe took a left out of the precinct, and close by was a beautiful garden surrounding a park. She entered there, sitting on the grass, with her head in her knees, sobbing. Trees surrounded the vicinity of the garden, and there was a fountain in the centre. Small flower beds were planted sparsely around, with benches and a path encompassing the enormous fountain.Bookmark here

"Abe!" Meya exclaimed, finding her sitting here.Bookmark here

Approaching her gently, Meya walked up to her, and she sat down beside her.Bookmark here

"Abe...Rei was trying to look out for you. Like everyone else. Kei would do the same thing." Meya tried explaining to Abe.Bookmark here

"But Kei wouldn't shout like that!" Abe exclaimed.Bookmark here

"The police are going to come to find us either way. For our own safety. Abe. You just need to talk to him. Don't give up." Meya said.Bookmark here

"How can I talk to him when he's like that. I've thanked him, and he doesn't care. He doesn't listen to me. That night was the worst thing ever. The explosion, my apartment, everything. Risa went, and now all of our friends could go too!" Abe's speech was broken by her puckered lips quivering.Bookmark here

"All of us are with you, Abe. You still have us. I nearly lost my life too that night. Rei saved me, and he saved you too. So did Kei. Without Kei, we wouldn't have the protection we have now. My family are safe because of him. Without Rei, both of us wouldn't be alive today." Meya said.Bookmark here

The grass, crunching beneath his feet, alerted Meya and Abe. Walking and sulking, he wished to never be in a position such as this. Behind him, Kei stood at the entrance, slowly walking with the police following suit. He spoke to them and obeyed his command, waiting for their departure to commence. Standing tall was Rei, with his eyes still vividly exasperated.Bookmark here

"I'm going to find the general and stop the people attacking you and everyone else. If you want to kill me, then go ahead. My only goal now is to find the person who burnt my home and my parents, and I want to make him and everyone who took part and wanted it to happen to feel what I felt. I'm not going to kill. Someone I know made me realise that it's wrong. I'm sorry too." Rei spoke sympathetically. "If there's anything you should take from this, then stand on your own two feet, Abe, without my help." Rei spoke for a lengthy period, which allowed Kei to make it to them.Bookmark here

"Hello, Meya. Abe." Kei spoke in a light-hearted tone, with a smile.Bookmark here

"Hello." Abe responded, the tears disappearing from her face.Bookmark here

"Hi, Kei!" Meya reciprocated his feelings with a smile.Bookmark here

"We have to go now. Go with the police, and we can talk another time. Sounds like a plan, right?" Kei spoke, defusing the situation.Bookmark here

Meya and Abe both stood up.Bookmark here

"Yeah. We'll see you two later. Stay safe, for everyone else's sake. You two are part of the class that needs to be protected, right?" Meya said.Bookmark here

"Yeah, I'll make sure of it." Kei responded.Bookmark here

Rei began walking away towards the police, taking his hand out of his pocket to wave goodbye.Bookmark here

"Goodbye..." Abe whispered, waving her hand with a lack of effort.Bookmark here

Meya grabbed Abe's hand, smiling thoughtfully, her eyes sparkling, causing Abe confusion. Knowing Meya, she joined in, smiling, striving to remain positive.Bookmark here

"We also have places to be!" Meya stated.Bookmark here

With the sun setting slowly, the sky became adorned in an orange tint, and twilight was nearing. Arriving at an abandoned warehouse, surrounded by desolate ruin, damaged gates and broken locks with rusted metal encasing the building itself, they strolled incautiously. The police, who escorted Rei and Kei, was nearby, establishing a temporary base of operations, residing in an adjacent warehouse.Bookmark here

"This was the place, right? Do you think it's rude to enter uninvited?" Kei questioned sarcastically.Bookmark here

"Yeah, if it actually belonged to anyone. We're here for one reason. Remember." Rei responded satirically.Bookmark here

They walked in with a swagger, pretending to be movie heroes. The brothers persisted, remaining shrewd, resolute, courageous, mettlesome, and wary of what could develop. They were preparing themselves mentally and physically for any antagonistic conclusion. Vacant, they strolled in, surveying the area perspicaciously, jointly looking for inconsistencies and irregular activity. Only boxes stacked up on metal shelves that towered above them and metal frames were left inside. Any movement they were capable of detecting.Bookmark here

"There's no one here." Kei whispered to Rei.Bookmark here

"No, there is. Listen. Closely." Rei whispered back.Bookmark here

Realising too late, an entire battalion of gangsters pounced out from behind cover, unleashing themselves from the shadows, restrained like wild beasts now released from their shackles. They were elephants stampeding, exaggerating their power by generating sound, giving a false narrative of aptitude.Bookmark here

The enemy, wearing completely black suits, surrounded Rei and Kei. Another silhouette, wearing a fabulously black kimono, slowly appeared. The sunlight, scantily passing through the rusted metallic doors of the warehouse, making his face perceptible as he entered the light, basking in it, professedly savouring the process of revealing his identity.Bookmark here

"Hello there, detective. Kei Hirojima, is it?" he spoke heinously.Bookmark here

"How do you know my name?" Kei responded tensely.Bookmark here

"I don't know who this masked clown is. But you know a lot when you have information, right? How did we know you would come? Well, that's a mystery you have to solve, detective." he responded.Bookmark here

"You think this is enough to scare us? I've been through worse, friend." Rei retorted.Bookmark here

"Who are you anyway?" Kei responded.Bookmark here

"Did they not give you a name? Sooner or later, I knew the gangs we hired would give us away. They are truly pitiful. Like a snake wrapped around a human's neck, they are humans after all." He retorted, laughing snidely, cynically in fact.Bookmark here

"In this digital world, everything can reach a person on the other side of the world instantly! You have to give it to hackers, but the police should have found that out! Who's supplying them with information?" Kei thought to himself, the connections he attempted to make dissipated like stardust.Bookmark here

Kei quickly grabbed his lapel, but the man wearing the kimono threw a knife from his pocket, wielding it quickly like he was a master of Iaido. It flew past Kei's body but fell flat shortly after passing him.Bookmark here

"YOU!" Rei screamed, filled with anger.Bookmark here

"Ah ah ah! One wrong move, and we all die! You see these boxes, what do you think they contain? What do you think we've been hiding?" the man vilely spoke and grinned. "Call for backup, and everything goes nuclear. Figuratively!"Bookmark here

"Isn't the voice communication automatic?" Rei whispered.Bookmark here

"Voice-activated? No. It's manual." Kei whispered back.Bookmark here

"We'll take them down. You somehow defeated those guys with knives before, so you can do it again." Rei whispered back, assuming a stance, his back to his brother.Bookmark here

"So you were paying attention." Kei whispered back.Bookmark here

"Are you two done whispering there?" the kimono wearing man exclaimed, angry from being disregarded.Bookmark here

"Yeah, we have! Come at us!" Rei exclaimed.Bookmark here

"Fine then! All of you, deal with them!" the man exclaimed.Bookmark here

He ran away, aiming for the back of the warehouse, when the crowd, roughly fifty in size, began charging towards the brothers, tasked with assassinating them, giving time for their leader to escape.Bookmark here

"Kei! You have a gun. Go after him. I'll create an opening, now go!" Rei yelled.Bookmark here

Nodding to Rei, signalling the start of their assault, the brothers ran towards the kimono wearing man, but their path was blocked, like an iron wall, impenetrable with only two people. Rei, whose power remained untested, blasted through the wall like a battering ram sieging a castle. He punched his way through, callously imposing pain upon them, tossing them around, yet understanding the harm he kindled. With an opening created at the back end, Kei stood behind Rei, eyeing up the chance to run. Hesitant, Rei turned around, staring at his brother.Bookmark here

"Kei! Go, now! Do it!" Rei exclaimed.Bookmark here

"I can't. Something's wrong. The closer I get away from the boxes, the more it smells like gunpowder." Kei thought to himself.Bookmark here

He brought out his gun quickly, quick drawing like a professional hitman.Bookmark here

"Yeah! Take care of this for me!" Kei exclaimed, running away with his gun in his hand.Bookmark here

"After him!" one of the suited men screamed.Bookmark here

Rei, hearing his command, ran behind Kei, blocking their path by himself. They continued running towards it, without care, dismissing his fighting ability, thinking Rei could not win a fight at this calibre, of this magnitude. The sheer notion was ludicrous, insane to a degree. However, Rei was a colossal threat, standing between them and their leader. He continued fighting valiantly — startling them all with his Sovereign Subjugation, attacking without looking owing to his Absolute Authority.Bookmark here

Rei felt their emotions swirling like they were hurricanes, unbound, conceived from the pleasure of freedom they found, received from his True Supremacy. Using all the fighting styles he knew, atoning for the sin of allowing his friends to die, he gallantly fought, wanting to stand as the last person on the battlefield.Bookmark here

The kimono wearing man ran towards a blacked-out car outside the warehouse, the number plate hidden from sight. Kei was giving chase, keeping his distance, knowing a knife could penetrate him within reason if he stayed circumspect. Turning around, the man exclaimed something, throwing knives at Kei from his kimono belt and sleeves.Bookmark here

"Stay away from me!" he exclaimed. "Eat this!"Bookmark here

Halfway to the car, Kei dodged the first and second knife thrown but was unfortunate with the third, piercing his body, where the liver resided. He yelled in agony, falling to one knee, but sagaciously, he aimed his gun at the man, his arm nearing the door.Bookmark here

"Three shots. One to aim, both to hit!" Kei thought to himself.Bookmark here

Kei fired three bullets. Rifling through the atmosphere, rippling the air around them, faster than sound could perceive, the first bullet pierced the car door, shrieking on its passage through. The second bullet penetrated his left gastrocnemius muscle in succession, resulting in his left leg collapsing beneath him, falling over front-first. The final bullet went between the man's legs. In desperation, the man, crawling on the ground, tried opening the car door, leaving blood on the floor like a slug leaving mucus, but met with another bullet shattering the car's frame.Bookmark here

Standing up, pulling the knife from his chest, Rei walked, uninjured, towards the man, lowering his gun, ominously yet profoundly. The man turned around, witnessing this motion, reacting with unadulterated ire. Out of his kimono, he grabbed a metal case and opened it, revealing a single small black button. Astounded, terror hurtled itself through Kei, comprehending what that button would do.Bookmark here

"The smell of gunpowder near the edges! It wasn't a bluff! Rei!" Kei surmised.Bookmark here

"You can all die with them!" he exclaimed.Bookmark here

The man pressed the button, causing explosives to erupt around the warehouse, with the walls toppling down. The entire roof slowly fell, and Kei, devastated by what he witnessed, was filled with calamitous emotions. The police from the adjacent warehouse, running towards the incident, were terrified, but they were too late to do anything, joining Kei in watching the disastrous spectacle unfold.Bookmark here

The destruction of the warehouse portended the end of Rei's life, and his destiny was complete, in the mind of everyone who stood there, in awe, unable to move due to fear permeating within their hearts, oozing out to the world.Bookmark here

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