Chapter 39:

A Covenant of Ruination and Damnation

X = Y

Inside the hospital, near the Tekafumo branch, Rei walked out of the ward, past the nurses. They began staring at him, confused by his presence and the atmosphere he generated. He wished to be engulfed by the shadows, away from the eyes of man, yet he was conspicuous. Two police officers were waiting there, and one of them approached him.

"Why are the police here? For that other guy who killed Kanda, but why is he walking towards me? Screw it!" Rei thought.

Intimidated by the police, Rei adorned a brave face, courage flowing through his body, expressing anger, emanating confidence. Attempting to remain innocent, they approached him, and he looked up at them, stopping.

"Where are you off to?" the first male officer asked.

"I'm going out. I've recovered, and I don't need to stay here." Rei responded boldly.

"We can't let you go like that. Like the other one in there, we have to keep on both of you." the second male officer responded.

"Yeah, but I'm working on the investigation with the detectives. You can ask them yourself." Rei rebuked, becoming agitated.

"Where're your credentials?" the first officer replied.

"Why do you care about that now? If a detective were with me, then you wouldn't question it. We're this close to finding the guy who doing this all. Now let me leave. Please." Rei argued. "They're pushing me to the edge...Calm down...calm down..." he thought.

"We can't do that. The department told us that you've hospitalised about thirty-six people. They're either dead or near dead, except for the leader who's at the Tekafumo precinct." the first officer replied.

His fuse had blown, his tolerance already exceeded critical levels, as Rei dashed away from the officers, who began running after him. Aiming for the stairs, he ran past people, avoiding them with ease. The officers grabbed their walkie talkies, communicating to the nearby units in the area.

"We have a runner exiting the building. He's wearing a jacket with a hood, and he's going to run outside the building. Catch him. He's the one who hospitalised those criminals yesterday." the officer spoke into his walkie talkie.

Making it down the stairs, Rei ran out of the hospital amidst the confusion. His only priorities were to hide from the police and find his brother.

"Screw it! I'll run as far as I can! I need to lose them somehow." Rei thought.

At the precinct in the Akugawa branch, Kei parked his car, exited the vehicle taking Kanda's notepad and laptop, and walked into the department. Extremely hectic, officers were scurrying around, gathering reports, and units were moving in and out.

"What's happening here? Haven't they sorted out the explosion that Yasuhide told me about? Is he even here?" Kei questioned.

Officer ran past and ahead of him, and his bewilderment enlargened, piquing his interest. Kei made it to Yasuhide's office and knocked.

"Come in!" a familiar voice said, not belonging to Yasuhide.

Kei opened the door and found Shigeki Takishita sitting there, searching through the database.

"Shigeki?" Kei stated, sitting down on a chair.

"You remember my name. That's nice to know. If you're wondering why everyone is up in arms, then I'll tell you. The noise is irritating me. I'm trying to fix it. First, we have the explosion that happened, killing all the gangsters and witnesses, and a bunch of officers." Shigeki spoke informatively.

"Yeah, Yasuhide gave me a brief run down. Tell me later." Kei responded.

"The second thing is that Yasuhide was right. This entire time, someone's been stealing our information from the database. A hacker did it. They left viruses, trojans, worms and all sorts. The police are recollecting the evidence from previous days and gathering everything physical they have instead of using the system. That's why they found out about the escort mission and where the van was going. I can't seem to trace them..." Shigeki added.

"This entire city and Machira Town use Tatashi Industrial's network..." Kei realised."

"Maybe it wasn't the private investigator who gave away our information...They already had it from the beginning..." Kei pondered, snapping back to reality.

"Here, take this. Search through Kanda's laptop. There may be more clues somewhere." Kei stated, placing the laptop on his desk. "Are you the only hacker here that works for the police?" Kei asked.

"No, but because of Yasuhide, I'm on this now. I came earlier than usual. The department has already called on other network engineers to fix this. Do you know where he is? I've been waiting for him?" Shigeki asked.

"Yasuhide? Oh, you don't know..." Kei said, becoming sympathetic.

"No, what happened?" Shigeki inquired curiously.

"He got his leg shot, and he's in the hospital most likely." Kei responded.

Shigeki's concern increased ten-fold, his palms became sweaty, and he felt a cold sensation run down his entire body. His brain was comprehending what Kei said, and he entered a state of shock.

" he okay?" Shigeki replied.

"Yeah, he's fine. He was talking to me on the phone before he left. Thanks to him, we caught Yasaburo, but he's in the hospital too." Kei added.

Abruptly, the door slammed open. Superintendent Tatsuoku Koedan entered authoritatively, his eyes beaming at Kei, who turned around to look at him.

"Detective Hirojima? I'm glad I found you. There was a request at the Tekafumo branch to detain a runaway from the hospital. When I caught wind of it, I thought it was your brother. He hospitalised about thirty-six people and caught the boss. He matches the description to when Yasuhide tried arresting him. I saw a report on the system before we shut it down entirely, because Yasaburo Toyoda was caught. The people at Tatashi Industrial are working with us to clean the system and get rid of bugs." Superintendent Tatsuoku Koedan spoke earnestly.

Kei became surprised, but he was steadfast, standing up, embodying courage and bravery.

"Rei? I'll go see to it. Have you told them to stop?" Kei questioned.

"No. The entire communication system is down at the precinct. Walkie talkies work but only for officers in the same precinct. I can't contact them now." the Superintendent added.

"Shigeki! Can I have your number? If you find anything in Kanda's laptop, then tell me. Here, let me write it down." Kei stated, taking the pen from the desk, scribing his phone number.

Shigeki took the pen and wrote his number on the paper, ripping it off and handing it to Kei.

"Here, take mine." Shigeki said, handing the paper to Kei, who slid it in his pocket.

"Thank you, Superintendent. Both of telling me, and not revealing Rei's identity." Kei spoke gratefully.

"The time will come when he has to reveal himself. I'm giving him a choice. Now hurry before they detain him, and you miss your chance. I have to deal with this commotion and the burial of our comrades." the Superintendent replied.

Kei ran out of the precinct quickly, leaving Kanda's notepad on the desk and entering his car hastily.

"It's a two-hour drive across the entire city! Please, let me make it there!" Kei believed, hoping that his brother evaded the police.

Meanwhile, Eien ran to the very outskirts of the city, tired, breathing heavily, and ravenous. His bloodlust was evident, and his desire to become Iroha's saviour reached its pinnacle. His eyes darkened, the sclera surrounding his pupils rested, and the irises relaxed, signifying the arrival of the Eternal Ruler. A large abandoned factory, colossal in stature, compared to his rendezvous factory, towered over him. To the eye, there were steel pylons, pipes, large towers acting like funnels, and other machinations a typical factory would possess.

There were many disreputable figures, sitting there, laughing maliciously, drinking and tormenting one another. They stopped, and Eien glared at them all, and the atmosphere he created was mortifying. Instantly, they knew who he was, as he seized their attention, and breathing under such calamitous pressure was perilous.

"Who are you?" the boss asked, walking with pride and confidence, smiling despicably.

"Me? You're right...I don't exist. I am the Eternal Ruler. Eien Shihaisha." he said, smiling callously.

"Eternal...Ruler..." the boss repeated, terrified by those legendary words.

From his pocket, Eien took a match out of a matchbox and lit it, striking the side of the box smoothly.

"Wait! Eien! I thought you weren't real! But we know Osugitachi, and Naruki!" he exclaimed, petrified by the fire.

"Is that so...Then tell me...Who would rebel against the Eternal Ruler?" Eien questioned them, smiling heinously.

"Rebel? Oh yeah! We know him..." the boss said.

"No...This wasn't supposed to happen...Why did they go off on their own? They're not even part of our gang! They riled up everyone together to find and take down the infamous Eternal Ruler of all the gangs, and he's apparently here!" the boss thought to himself.

"Are you going to tell me who he is?" Eien said, smiling.

"No..." the boss said, cackling, having a sudden change of heart, smiling evilly like Ein. "The Eternal Ruler doesn't exist! Kill him now, men!" he exclaimed.

The twelve other gangsters ran away from the fight at first, deceiving Eien. He stood there watching, and they came back with metallic pipes, spiked wooden bats, and wooden batons they had gathered, dispersed around the factory floor.

"This is your territory...I don't expect any less...You shall no longer exist..." Eien spoke sinisterly.

The gangsters were smiling grotesquely, and Eien ran into them, activating his Eternal Rule, throwing the matchstick on the ground.

One of the gangsters holding a metal pipe swung it at Eien, but he dodged, bending his back, keeping his eyes locked onto the gangsters. Counter-punching the gangster in his face, he grabbed the pipe, smashing it into his face, knocking him out. [1/12]

Two more gangsters came running with wooden batons, and Eien lifted his arms, creating a guard that the bats smashed against, breaking into pieces. He clasped both of them by the head, shattering their skulls, slamming them into each other, then performing a Tornado Kick with his right leg, smashing the gangster on his right into the other one, both falling unconscious. [3/12]

Two other gangsters, taking advantage of Eien's engagement, then ran around him, both on either side of him. Using an overarm swing, the gangster's spiked bats penetrated Eien, but he quickly lifted his arms beside him, like claws, protecting himself. His clothes ripped, but he remained apathetic, with the gangsters removing the spiked bats. He glared at the gangster to his left, grabbing him by the collar, throwing him into the spiked bat of the third gangster that appeared. [4/12]

He swung, and Eien threw, and the spiked bat penetrated the back of the gangster's neck and head, falling to the ground, weighing the third gangster's bat down. The one to his right swung again, but Eien dodged, performing a Liver Punch with a Left Hook, then a Haymaker to his face, staggering him. Eien grabbed the gangster's left and right side with both hands, pulling him back, falling on his knee. At the same time, the third gangster retrieved his bat from the body of the fallen gangster and swung at Eien. However, he missed horrendously, and Eien performed an Uki Otoshi (Floating Drop), flipping the gangster over. His back, destroyed by the force of the bat, the spikes penetrating him, blood splattering onto the floor. [5/12]

Eien crushed the gangster's head with his foot and turned to his left, glaring at the one who killed his gangster friend. In a single step, then jump, Eien performed a Khao Yao (Muay Thai Knee Bomb) to his stomach, staggering him as he stumbled backwards. Immediately, he followed with a Khao Trong (Muay Thai Straight Knee Strike) into his gut, rupturing his stomach as he fell to the floor, the acid melting his inside. [6/12]

Three more gangsters, empty-handed, began running into him. The far-left gangster tried kicking him, and the other two tried punching, but Eien locked his eyes onto the far right, shifting quickly to the right, side-stepping, evading them all. Lining up his techniques, he performed a Mat Wiang Klap (Backfist Strike), staggering him, then immediately following through with a Sok Klap (Spinning Back Elbow Strike) to his jaw, knocking him out. [7/12]

Eien performed a Thrusting Sok Tat (Horizontal Elbow Strike) against the face of the gangster in the middle, then a Kradot Sok (Downward Jumping Elbow Strike) against the gangster on the left, knocking both out. [9/12]

The four remaining gangsters, including the boss, were frozen in fear, unarmed and unwilling to sacrifice their lives.

"You're...a monster...the Eternal Ruler..." one of the gangsters said.

"What the hell...I thought you didn't exist...They're all dead..." the boss stated, engulfed in terror.

Eien grabbed another matchstick from his pocket, igniting it against the box. He smiled, the blood from the craters in his arms pouring down, dropping loudly onto the ground.

Drip, drip, drip.

Eien, walking away from the blaze he set, deluging the factory in a sea of flames, like an inferno from hell, all galvanised by the heat, burning sanguinely. The thought of Iroha never left his mind, but he savoured the moment, and in his mind, Iroha was an incarnation of the flames that stood there providing warmth, nurturing him with love. Lifting his head, smiling negligently, he began sprinting away, revering the deed he committed, reminiscent of him adulating the flames when he was a child.

The officers around the area were alerted by the presence of fire, burning eternally, and the smoke billowing into the sky, implying that doomsday was quickly approaching. A massive cloud of ash intermixed with the pure white clouds, ostensibly like cumulonimbus clouds, reprimanding the earth with its lightning.

Concurrently, Osugitachi left his office. The building he was in was only two stories high. The interior was white, and instead of a wooden floor, it was blue carpet. There were sofas and flowerpots down the corridor, with frames showing the achievements the firm he worked at obtained.

On his lunch break, he gazed out of the window, only to witness an eruption of flames, conflagrating buildings in the distance, unable to discern what was burning. Torrents of fire spouted into the air, rampaging through massive funnel-like buildings. Encased in shock, he became unhinged, glaring at the unfathomable scene that tormented his being.

"What? The only person who would do this...Is my that house, he burnt that building down...I need to stop him before he gets caught. But what if it isn't him?" Osugitachi thought.

Other employees saw him pondering, and he began walking hastily to the reception. The receptionist, a female with black hair in an upward bun and black eyes, wearing a business uniform and skirt, wondered where he was going. She was sitting down behind a desk with a pen holder and other documents, waiting for collection.

"Junya? Where are you going?" the woman addressed Osugitachi.

"Me?" Osugitachi turned around, facing Katsue Mura, the receptionist.

"Are you going on your lunch break?" Katsue asked playfully.

"Yeah. I'll be back soon." Osugitachi replied, leaving the reception.

Katsue began staring at the ringer on her right hand, situated on her ring finger, admiringly.

"Ms Sekimachi...It has a nice ring to it...but only if he'd ask me..." Katsue thought to herself.

Osugitachi gripped the phone in his pocket, dialling the number of a significant person and holding it to his ear.