Chapter 7:

Case 7 - Tactical Strike

The Dejected Detective

Three Izumi members, three targets. Higuchi Narita, Hado Tenkichi, Mizutama Ritsu, these three had become the first to survive Takehaya Danzo’s magic, a spell that contorts and strengthens the magic of others. They were escorted from the lab to one of the unused rooms in the estate to rest and prepare for the next encounter. That night, they were taken to a meeting with the boss and SoichiroBookmark here

Hisashi was making a telepathic call to his branches in the south and the east, something to do with an attack that required as many heads as possible… and should any of them decide to ignore the boss’ call, those heads would roll. Once the summit-like conference was concluded, his full attention was on the new members.Bookmark here

“In two days we will attack the WWO headquarters, and steal every single spell they hold in the Arcane Vault.” The boss announced. The three would’ve shown their surprise, if the pressure of this room wasn’t weighing them down so heavily. “I will not accept a loss, therefore I will be leading the lines for this.”Bookmark here

The boss hardly ever left his estate, let alone take on missions. It was he who gave out orders, he was not the one to follow them. Yet here he was planning to lead his troops into battle.Bookmark here

“There is something I require before this mission is to begin. Though I believe that the WWO is no match for our family, I would still prefer a decimation over a back and forth battle. I want to walk through those doors and watch them squirm, I don’t want to see a fight… I want to see a murder. Therefore, you three have been assigned with a new part to play, that has the deadline of the end of tomorrow.” Bookmark here

Soichiro reluctantly activated an incantation and placed his hand on the head of each of the three one after the other. Once he did, they saw an image of a set of agents: Hattori, Eiichiro, Ryusaki. Murata and Prisma. Kagari and Minagawa. Bookmark here

“Each of you will target, and kill the faces you saw. You WILL accept this, and you WILL succeed. Do so, and you will be rewarded for your accomplishments. Should you come running back, tail between your legs, I will personally watch your slow, agonising deaths. Do I make myself clear?”Bookmark here

The three bowed so low they risked smashing their heads into the floorBookmark here

“Good. Soichiro, get them out of my sight.”Bookmark here

Once they had been ushered out, Soichiro had planned to go check up on Danzo then get some rest, however as he took a step towards the door…Bookmark here

“It’s come to my attention, Soichiro, that I do not have many more years left at the head of this table.” Bookmark here

Soichiro stopped in his tracks and listened to his boss’ message before opening the door. Hisashi was admiring the carvings on the table. Hand chiselled by an artist that had been close to the head of the family a number of generations ago. “No elderly men have kept control of this family nor should they. New leaders are always the sons and daughters of the previous boss. However, I am aware that in my current situation this is not possible and should this mission fail, that fact becomes even more assured. But I need you and Ren to understand one thing, you may assume that when I step down one of you will take the mantle. If this mission does fail, neither of you will ever so much as gaze longingly at this haori… and not only that, there will be no bars or agents that could protect you.” Bookmark here

Just downstairs, the three newest powers of the Izumi set forth into the night knowing that within the next twenty four hours either they would take a life, or someone would take theirs.Bookmark here

“What would Takehaya even do with a list of missing spells?” Minagawa asked as he took his seat beside KagariBookmark here

“That’s what I’ve been thinking. If anything, it’d be top secret, held by the boss himself” Okazaki responded, once again replacing his migraine patch. “Makes you wonder what Takehaya is to the family”Bookmark here

“I understand that the info we got is important to the family, and that it’s bad for them, it being with us and all. But, is it really such a surprise that Danzo had them? He is a member of the family after all” Kagari asked the pairBookmark here

“It boils down to trust. See, from what knowledge we do have on their boss, Hisashi. He’s not the trusting type, in fact I’d be surprised if he even trusted his two closest tools. Yet, for some reason, some random family member had information on stolen spells? I’d understand if it was similar to the documents Murata and Prisma pulled from the Fuma, at least they had reason to have those sorts of records. But this just seems so left field it screams foul play”Bookmark here

“You think Takehaya stole the info? Bold claim, but what would he even gain from that?” Minagawa inquiredBookmark here

“That part is still a bit fuzzy. It doesn’t make sense, him having those details is a huge risk. If his boss found out, he’d have a hard time holding onto his head. There’s no way he could think that knowing where a few spells are would be good enough blackmail, and he’s not dumb enough to think using them could protect him. So why would he have them?” Okazaki pondered the reason. But it seemed as though Minagawa had reached the hypothesis firstBookmark here

“You don’t think?” Minagawa paused.Bookmark here

“…what?” Kagari asked expectantly. Bookmark here

“I don’t know why I didn’t notice it sooner. When we arrested Ougi Shun a little while back he kept muttering about someone snitching… about how we got there so quickly. How did we find out about Ougi in the first place?”Bookmark here

Kagari took a swig of the last drops of his coffee “someone called in, tipped us off. They didn’t leave a name but just said that there was a suspicious guy at the port” Bookmark here

“And yet, despite that, no one else was there. No one showed up at the port, from the moment we got out of our car to when we got back in I don’t remember seeing anyone. Surely if you were worried enough to report something like that you at least keep an eye on it… unless it wasn’t just some passerby. What if the person that gave us that info was someone in the family, what if it was Danzo himself?” Minagawa added. Bookmark here

Okazaki sat back, pondering the idea. “It’d mean that Takehaya felt confident enough to give us details on the family. There’s only two reasons he would do it, either he was so terrified he was being targeted that he needed us to trust him, or he had permission to do it. There’s no way this isn’t a trap if it is Takehaya.”Bookmark here

Minagawa overworked his brain trying to explain each and every possible outcome, it didn’t work and his already fried brain started to steam.Bookmark here

“Look, you two. I get that this is big and you want to get the upper hand, but we just don’t have enough to go on. It’s getting late, go home and when you’ve had a chance to rest then we can start planning this all out” Okazaki suggestedBookmark here

“You’re right, we need sleep.” Minagawa remembered the mattress that had been calling his name all dayBookmark here

“I didn’t mean you. All you’ve done for the past few days is sleep.” Okazaki snapped. Bookmark here

The rest of the office staff had left already at their usual time while the boss and his team Oxymoron brainstormed for way too long. Okazaki switched off the lighting spell and locked the doors. Minagawa and Kagari took their seats in their cruiser and offered their boss a ride. On their way to the first stop, Minagawa’s dwellings, they continued their conversation from before but nothing really came of it. It became apparent that they really didn’t have enough to go on. Their journey flew by and before they knew it, Minagawa was crawling out of the cruiser and up the steps to his apartment. His key was in the door.Bookmark here

“Oh, Atsushi.” Okazaki called from the car catching Atsushi’s attention “sorry, with all that’s been going on I forgot to mention.”Bookmark here

“If this ends up with me working overtime, I’m putting a complaint in for bad management”Bookmark here

Okazaki laughed sarcastically “last time you did that they gave YOU a slap on the wrist instead” the boss respondedBookmark here

“Damn board of directors”Bookmark here

“It’s about Dojima” Minagawa jolted as the words left Okazaki’s mouth. “She’s finished her trial in the capital, should be swinging by tomorrow. If she does keep an eye out, we both know how much of a headache that one is!” He advised Kagari to drive on. Minagawa stood rooted for a few moments. Bookmark here

“Who’s Dojima?” Kagari asked.Bookmark here

“She’s an agent, been away on bigger issues for a while. Dojima Otoha, you might’ve heard her name before?”Bookmark here

“Can’t say I have. But when you mentioned her, senpai looked at a loss for words…”Bookmark here

“I’m not surprised, they used to be an item”.Bookmark here

The moon was high in the sky, bathing the streets with an eerie glow. The witching hour had begun. Roars of the crowd erupted from the Izakaya nearby in the entertainment district that had lovingly been nicknamed Nyx due to its… well, darkness. Bookmark here

Inside this Izakaya, no one occupied the simple, old school bar or any of the tables. The front entrance was vacant, but downstairs was a completely different story. The place was by no means small yet just moving around was a tedious affair. The moonlight could not reach this seedy place, but the nauseating lights on the wall were enough to show the horrors of the centre of each patron’s attention. The middle of the room housed an octagon, raised slightly and surrounded by barbed wires. Inside, two bloodied brutes smashing into each other as the onlookers made their bets and washed their worries away with the bright green liquid in their cups. The drink was so powerful it caused hallucinations the moment it touched your skin, leading to fights all around the room. Bookmark here

This place was the delineation of the word cesspit, Danzo thought to himself on first inspection. This was not the place for a man of class such as him, though his new friend Akagawa seemed to fit in quite well. Bookmark here

“Sir, I understand your desire to utilise your new magic, but I do not see how fighting in blood sports will help you” Danzo was pleading, hoping that they could leave this horrendous place.Bookmark here

“I think you might have misunderstood, Takehaya. Blood sports are official, they go on until one cannot go on.”Bookmark here

The taller fighter pulled his opponent in close, he was tiring and hoping that if he could hit this next big shot, it’d be his win. This idea vanished however when his opponent sprouted spines like a terrified blowfish. The spikes lodged in his chest, abdomen and all the way through his skull. Once the spines were retracted, and the corpse fell, the blood flowed like a river… the crowd cheered loudly once againBookmark here

“This isn’t official, these are death games.” Akagawa explained, Danzo could not respond as his eyes were glued on the body that just now, was moving full of life. The terror hit so hard he almost passed out and stumbled, Akagawa lifted him back up and pushed him against the wall so that he could stand. Bookmark here

“Stay here Takehaya, cowards like you do best at watching the action”. Akagawa hopped onto a nearby table, catching the attention of some of the surrounding regulars. Bookmark here

“No rules! Any magic you want! I call for an all out war! Last man standing earns himself every coin I own!” Bookmark here

For such a young looking man, he was reckless. His words were grating, it was like he was taunting themBookmark here

“…or are you too scared to join the fun?!” Bookmark here

He was definitely taunting them, and the cheap shot to the man standing nearby didn’t exactly calm the situation. Waves of former convicts bounded across the thick wooden tables and splintered chairs, swinging wildly but not one could connect. One man activated a talisman, conjured a portion of his magic in his hand and attempted to grip Akagawa’s face; he dodged effortlessly, spinning to the side. With no wasted motion his blood became a whip and followed his motion, destroying a good portion of the bar and taking all who had missed out for the count. The participants who lagged behind staggered back, stunned that someone so young could take down so many in one fell swoop. Akagawa smirked at the mass who had lost their appetite for violenceBookmark here

“Sorry boys and girls. There was no back out clause in that offer. I’m afraid your only option now is to die!” Bookmark here

The fear in their hearts became adrenaline, pushing them forward with reckless abandon. Three circled him now, the first dropped a shoulder to change direction explosively, attempting to catch Akagawa off guard. The second jumped high and swung a long piece of string, cutting through everything on its path towards the target. The third used the concrete beneath to anchor him to his spot. None of it mattered. Akagawa simply shot out a thin blade of blood, taking out Mr Concrete, loosening the grip. He dodged the incoming punch and dropped down, using both legs to trip the martial artist up, straight into the incoming string. As the next red thread ripped through the air, he shook his head, and the string stopped. Midway between him and the user, the trail of blood from another victim lifted up and coiled around the wire, stopping it from propelling forward. The user couldn’t believe his eyesBookmark here

“Weak. Throw more string! ten, no, twenty! Ah to hell with it! Hit me with a hundred!” Akagawa had a crazed gaze that thirsted for challenge, for more bloodshed. It wasn’t the look of a human, it wasn’t even the look of a hungry, desperate carnivore. This was the aura of death itself, driven only by its love for suffering and death. The fear broke the string user’s mind and he let out a blood curdling scream, tears flowed down his face and he summoned a tornado of unstoppable strings . It seemingly devoured Akagawa, and the string user's laugh was filled with relief… as Akagawa appeared like a red mist behind him. Danzo saw the moment a human heart goes from happiness to the purest fear… and the destruction of a soulBookmark here

The bar was silenced. Only the radio upstairs that had been left on filled the room with some form of noise. It was an ominous noise now, like the souls that had been separated from their bodies were cursing the two, tormenting them with their disconnected cries. Danzo soaked it in, worrying if karma was indeed real and what an occurrence like this would do to his. But Akagawa looked like he was enjoying every second. He grabbed Danzo’s arm and pulled him towards the entranceBookmark here

“C’mon Takehaya, the night’s still young!”. The two would travel across Nyx, Danzo would find a corner to cower in, and Akagawa would bathe in the split blood. It was a night of hell indeed.Bookmark here

The next day soon arrived however. The morning was dulled by heavy rain and the autumn chill was more than noticeable, especially for Minagawa who, at this time of year, would find solace walking around in his sleeping bag, bouncing around like a deranged rabbit. This year however, as punishment dished out by the boss, he was unable to use it much. The line Okazaki had lovingly put together was “You’ve done nothing but sleep lately. If you so much as blink for too long I’m burning the bag.” Though tired and cold, he marched on, giving his all to save a loved one. Bookmark here

Luckily the office was nice and heated, as were the cruisers. At the front entrance, a makeshift meeting between a hodgepodge of agents. Murata and Prisma didn’t like to miss anything so of course they were in attendance, and Reo used the office as his own pantry of free goodies. It wasn’t surprising that Hattori and Ryusaki were absent, they had people to wow on the outside, Ryusaki with her “beauty”, Hattori with his “genius”. At the centre, Okazaki, Ayame and Saigusa. Kagari had been around for a while.. First one in, his work ethic often made Minagawa’s head spin so fast he started to understand Okazaki’s misery. Bookmark here

“Strange, you actually did decide to show up” Ayame was the first to hurl the insult, something that wasn't the norm when the boss from hell and the violent bird brain were around.Bookmark here

“Ah, apologies I have not followed my own standards, I shall return home” Minagawa opened the door again before Saigusa pushed it closed.Bookmark here

The meeting began, “While you are all here, I thought it best to update you. As you all have been made aware, we have had a leak from the Arcane Vault, this was perpetrated by the Izumi via either a double agent or someone skilled enough to get by us easily. What they are after from there is unclear, we have made the assumption that it was the twisted magic spell as thankfully, no other leaks have occurred since. We know this due to our constant surveillance on our staff and the vault itself, but of course this surveillance would most likely be the reason no more leaks have been recorded. A few days after the incident involving Ougi Shun, we had our archive team scan through old records and the vault itself to make a note of what the damage is. More than a hundred and sixty spells were reported missing. That's not all either. Recently, our raid on the Takehaya compound yieled us a book of the very spells we had reported stolen. When this was investigated further, we noted that Mr Takehaya had helpfully jotted down rough estimations of where these spells were”Bookmark here

Ayame handed each of the present agents a booklet. “Street names aren’t enough however. So we analysed it a little deeper, wouldn’t you know it, the creative cretin entangled everything important into a spell, locked up with Ydin runes.”Bookmark here

The mere mention of those runes… ruined their day. These were no child’s first cipher… no, these were ancient writings that only those with an abundance of patience and skill could unravel, something that was lacking in a group consisting of: a moron with heavy eyes; an electro-maniac; an enthusiastic airhead; and a guy who doesn’t talk. They knew it was a lost cause when Eiichiro seemed the best option, even though at that moment he was focussing solely on the box of sugary treats at the front desk. It was akin to giving oil to a man on fire, to put it out…Bookmark here

“Relax, the runes have been solved. Took a few hours but we managed to crack it” He seemed rather proud, Ayame and Saigusa had a look of bewildermentBookmark here

“We?” Ayame questioned “Pretty sure it was just Saigusa and myself” she added, Okazaki hoped silence would help, his agents looked at him with disgustBookmark here

“Anyway! The runes have been solved. From this, we’ve learned of three locations and we’ve discovered the part of the document that was locked away. There’s two locations listed, one as a temporary storage hut and another being developed to house them. We can’t be sure when the notes were made so it’s entirely possible that either one of these points could hold our contraband”Bookmark here

The agents diligently read through the documents provided. The first location was in the middle of the city named Valryn. The second, off the beaten track, to the south of Edir, into the woods of wonder. It seemed an awkward location due to the lack of proper roads available but then again, that meant less visitors. The woods were dense and filled with silverwood trees. The bone white bark of these trees were used as a base for talisman and the colour shifting leaves had huge health benefits, usually being essential in the medical field. Bookmark here

“Naturally, we can’t just ignore this. But, the lack of agents is slightly irritating. If these locations turn out to be the real deal, they’ll most likely be safeguarded and just two agents each isn’t ideal. Murata and Prisma, you two go to Valryn, Minagawa and Kagari will go to the depot in the woods.”Bookmark here

Minagawa started to shake at the idea of being in creepy woods. “In the meantime I’d like Eiichiro to get in contact with the other two and update them on our situation. I’ll speak to Dojima and ask her for her co-operation. Hopefully we can have four member teams in each area. But for now, scan the areas and stay frosty” Bookmark here

The plan was set out, and the pairings moved out. Okazaki somehow managed to use future sweets as a bribe, it was too good an offer to turn down for Eiichiro just to go out and round up a few weirdos. The problem now was that he had no idea where they were, and he didn’t possess an ability to find them instantly. “If I was obsessed with my looks or my brains where would I go?” Bookmark here

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He realised it!Bookmark here

“Trying to think like those freaks takes a lot of energy, need sugar”. And so, Eiichiro Reo begins his search, not for his acquaintances as his boss asked, but for a bite to eat…Bookmark here

Meanwhile, Hattori had been out buying supplies, it seemed he forgot he had work. Oh, wait, no he just remembered. He rushed over to his apartment on the outskirts of the city and dropped off his bags and grabbed his keys. With his suit ruffled and lying awkwardly on his shoulders due to being thrown on. His mouth filled with thrown together breakfast, he ran down his daily route that he knew like the back of his hand. But he missed the one change to the scenery, a young girl in the gaps between buildings, following, watching him. When he noticed something strange in the corner of his eye he stopped and scanned the area, not seeing anything out of the ordinary. It must’ve been a reflection he thought, and he continued his journey. She watched from the roof above him. Bookmark here

Something similar was on the tail of Murata and Prisma, moving around like a mist. Bookmark here

It was targeting them, watching their every move, but Prisma was a very cognitive person… a sudden change of direction caught it out, Prisma’s blade stretched out and cut through the air above the snivelling target who was more lizard like than human. It walked around on all fours to avoid the metal swinging at its throat. It jumped up and kicked off of Prisma’s chest, launching itself backwards. Murata stood by Prisma as he realised what had begunBookmark here

“Good evening,” it spoke. “I do apologise, but I have been tasked with ending your existence. Please do not take it personally” Bookmark here

“Why do we always get the weird ones?” Murata asked his partner, Prisma took out his pen and board and wrote “no idea!”Bookmark here

“My teachers always taught me it was improper to not introduce myself, my name is Higuchi Narita of the Izumi family. Today I must take your lives”. Narita took in a deep breath and the agents prepared themselves, when the lizard man opened his mouth, a purple fog shrouded the area and the unassuming populace.Bookmark here

Kagari’s sudden brake made Minagawa shoot out of his seat. “What the hell are you doing kid?!” Minagawa yelled as he pulled himself forward to be next to Kagari. His Kouhai pointed forward so Minagawa looked ahead. A man stood in the middle of the road, just a few millimetres away from the cruiser. He flipped a coin and predicted the outcome, as it landed in his hand another vehicle slammed through the side of them.Bookmark here

From the broken glass and bent metal, Minagawa crawled out, blood dripped slowly from his nose and from the small cuts on his arm. The glass on the ground embedded in his skin as he tried to push himself off out of the wreckage, but a hand gripped his back and launched him out of the car and onto the pavement. The momentum sent him spinning, picking up more cuts and bruises on the way. When he stopped he looked back at the car and saw the man from before ripping Kagari out of the destroyed cruiser, he placed him down carefully only to wind up a huge punch to the dazed detective. Blood spurted and Kagari landed on his face. Minagawa groaned in pain and turned, catching a glimpse at the driver of the other car, who was keeled over his steering wheel and had not moved since the collision. Bookmark here

“Gentlemen! How nice to see that you arrived on time! I was worried that you may get caught up, but it looks like lady luck was on my side after all!” Bookmark here

The two detectives reeled, but came to their senses and slowly regained their footingBookmark here

“Good! Good! A two on one scenario is usually bad luck, so I decided to rough you up a little first.” The infuriating tone he screeched in was gratingBookmark here

“Who- the hell are you?” Minagawa grilled, his voice was guttural after the impactBookmark here

“Who am I? Good gentleman, I am a humble showman! My name is Hado Tenkichi, new member of the Izumi family and the man tasked with killing you poor gentlemen!” Bookmark here

His smile grew wider, his golden tooth shone in the sunlight. Bookmark here

Hattori reached the halfway intersection, he placed his hand on the fence and doubled over, gasping for air. Before him, two diverging paths: the first was long and arduous through the densely populated city centre; the other, dark and mysterious through the alleyways and haunted walkways. Hattori knew the only choice was to go big or go home… and going home meant hell to pay. He moved a bit more energy to his legs and began sprinting to his doom, followed by his pursuer, the lion, to his gazelle.Bookmark here

With each step his stride was harder to make, his legs weighed him down more and more. Was he really this tired, no… the floor below him shone and stuck to the soles of his boots. When he stopped he finally noticed the one behind himBookmark here

“A stalker? Hmm... “ he clicked his fingers “I get it, you are a fan of mine!”Bookmark here

The girl chuckled “You could not be more wrong if you tried”. She pulled out one of her hairs and threw it at Hattori. He didn't budge but the strand shot past and sliced into his skin. When it hit the ground the sound was more like a needle than a hair. He assessed his cut as well as the strand that caused it.Bookmark here

“Gold eh? That’d make you an enemy. Unfortunately for you, little miss. I can not go easy on you, I must give you a piece of my mind!” his magic activated and the girl saw a future of Hattori changing direction as he ran towards her. When the real Hattori moved she copied what she saw thinking he would mimic the vision but he switched sides and just missed with the palm strike. When he brought his heel down, she blocked with her forearmBookmark here

“So you show people what you are thinking so you can throw them off? Piece of your mind?” She laughed. “Thats a good one, you must love your puns. Hows this one?”Bookmark here

Her hand gripped his ankle, it was fake. A golden prosthetic, and the gold travelled onto his leg. Hattori panicked, trying to free his leg, she stared up at himBookmark here

“You are weak, stupid and now… you aren’t worth your weight in gold!” Bookmark here

The rest of his body turned golden. Hattori, was frozen solid, a golden statue.Bookmark here

In the city centre a young girl, dark blue hair in a ponytail fitted with yellow accessories, hopped off of the railcar. She breathed in deeply. “Back home at last!” She muttered to herself. The driver waved farewell and she returned the favour. The name tag she sewed into her jacket read… Dojima Otoha. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.