Chapter 8:

Case 8 - Blue Rose

The Dejected Detective

The fog was thick, but Prisma’s blade cut through it, giving the duo a chance to breath and escape the vicinity. Any plant life in the gas withered and melted away. Murata gathered his thoughts but started coughing heavily, he covered his mouth with his hand and noticed drops of blood. He had accidentally breathed in some of the gas, even if it was only a small amount, it was still bad news. Prisma offered his hand to his partnerBookmark here

“I’m alright.” Murata assured as he stood up. “Where’d the freak go?”Bookmark here

The gas started to dissipate and Higuchi reappeared amongst it. He leant back slowly then quickly back again, shooting out another batch of the gas, this time more concentrated, focussing more on distance than coverage. Murata clapped his hands together, an electrical field stopped the oncoming poison in its tracks. The two split into two opposing directions, past the buildings. Murata reached Higuchi first thanks to the lightning in his step, the mana bolt flew over Higuchi’s shoulder and he ducked under the oncoming blade behind him and shot more toxin into the air. Both his targets stood out of its area of affect. Higuchi changed his miasma of choice and chose a blast of oxygen to not only push the poison closer to both agents but also to propel himself away. In the air he smashed his jaw together making a spark that lit small particles of gunpowder in the air and flowed down and ignited the poison, lighting the entire area up. As the flames seared in the air and rapidly approached, Murata starred up, terrified and unable to move. “You’ve gotta be kidding…”. Just before it hit, Prisma used his magic to shield his partner with iron bars that melded together on impact. Bookmark here

Team oxymoron were not faring any better. Minagawa shot a mana bolt which was easily avoided. Kagari followed up with a punch imbued with mana but he tripped on a crack in the pavement. Hado drove his cane into Kagari’s back and threw him forward. He would have fallen onto a part of the car that had broken off awkwardly, making it jagged. Minagawa caught him with a shoulder charge, however, and the two landed spike free. They stood once againBookmark here

“My, you two have fairly bad luck. Imagine having to face me… what misfortune” the trickster laughed as if he had already won. Minagawa launched a surprise attack, launching a broken metal spike at Hado, which he easily blocked with his cane. “Come now, cheap tricks are not in a gentleman’s arsenal. You must have more tact than that!” Bookmark here

Minagawa vanished, startling Hado. He appeared again behind the showman, who tried to hit him with his cane but Minagawa disappeared again. Now he was in front, then to the left, to the right, ABOVE! Hado swung above his head wildly but once again Minagawa was an after image and for the first time Hado was hit, Kagari followed up with a wicked right to the side of his face, launching him into the airBookmark here

Minagawa returned to Kagari’s side but the damage and his use of the flash step dropped him to one knee. He stopped himself from falling, placing his palm on the ground and gasping for air. The trickster stood back up, holding his face. The pain angered him but the fact that such a person would think to even touch him almost made him vomit. Especially in such an underhanded manner! How dare he! Hado’s usual upbeat, frankly annoying attitude faded away. Now, his face was that of an angered soul. He noticed a thin bead of blood running down his chin, he had been in many fights in his time but the sight of his own blood was a rare one. In fact he couldn’t even remember the last time something scratched him. Hado wiped the blood off with his sleeve and took in a breathBookmark here

“Not many have managed to defeat my defences, I must congratulate you. However I cannot reward you, for it will be the last time you manage to do so.” The giddy trickster persona vanished, now he was serious, goading his opponents into the next phase of their encounter. Bookmark here

Ryusaki was having a rather peaceful day. She had decided that, with her day off, she would go into town and pick some stuff up. It was a successful day. She had picked up a few new dresses and some “instant grow” roses from the flora store, and though she had been stopped a few times by men from model agencies or just plainly asking her out, it didn’t dampen the day. The sun was shining so brightly and the rain from the night before made everything seem as though it was sparkling. She found herself at a cozy cafe with a sweet drink and a charming pastry, the smile never left her face, she exhaled contently. Bookmark here

“I should do this more often. Working as hard as I do has its limits, days like this are necessary” she muttered into her cup, watching cars come and go, imagining what kind of lives each passerby lived. She took another sip and put her head down on the counter, relaxing her pained muscles. In walked another customer, Ritsu. She had headed straight for Ryusaki after incapacitating Hattori. Bookmark here

Soichiro had sent his sparrows around the city, using his magic to see through their eyes and scan for the agents. These sparrows were concentrations of mana, swirling around, keeping their shape. “Agent Ryusaki Homare located” The boss and Akagawa stayed close to keep up with the situation. The boss sat calmly and courteously as always, it was beat into him for so long that it became second nature. Akagawa was less proper however, lying prostrate and munching on whatever treats had been placed on the table next to himBookmark here

“Do I really have to be here?” He asked. The boss did not bat an eyelidBookmark here

“Quiet, you’ll throw off my concentration” Soichiro replied. Akagawa clicked his tongue and got up. “This is dumb. I’m gonna go have some fun”. He opened the sliding door, “I don’t remember saying you could leave, Ren”Bookmark here

Akagawa stopped and stared at his boss. “Are you planning to ignore my orders? Do you wish to disrespect me?”Bookmark here

Akagawa sat back down and bowed to his boss “Apologies, sir. It won't happen again” Bookmark here

Though he didn’t even see the scene, Soichiro chuckled “Quite the pup aren’t you, Ren. Normally you would’ve stormed out.” Bookmark here

“Quit your yapping, I respect the boss, you I tolerate. Just because you aren’t ranked lower than me doesn’t mean you are above me either, So-Nii” Bookmark here

“Both of you, need to shut it. What’s the situation, Muramasa?” Hisashi asks, forcing the argument to ceaseBookmark here

Ritsu stands behind Ryusaki who is still relaxing on the bar. She reaches out slowly, millimeters from her hair, but she is startled by a phone ringing. She backs up and Ryusaki answers her cellBookmark here

“This had better be good, Reo.”Bookmark here

Eiichiro is on the other side of the call. He is wandering the streets looking for treats and the other agents… in that order. “The boss asked me to find you and Hattori. We’ve apparently found the spells that shadow thing took, needs all of us to go take a look”Bookmark here

“Ehhh?! I’ve had this day booked off for months…” She grumbled as she pouted.Bookmark here

“Doesn’t matter. You think I wanna waste my time on this dumb stuff?”Bookmark here

“Well yeah… you’re at work…”Bookmark here

“Where are you, right now?”Bookmark here

She sighs loudly “I’ll come to the office. I better be getting paid overtime for this”.Bookmark here

“Alright, I’ll meet you there once I’ve found the faux genius. You haven’t seen him today have you?”Bookmark here

“Eh, Hattori? No idea, wasn’t he at the office this morning?” Bookmark here

The call went quiet for a few secondsBookmark here

“I don’t have a good feeling about this” Eiichiro respondsBookmark here

On the other side of the city, Higuchi’s devastating explosion blew through buildings and anything else in its wake. Once it died down, the area was engulfed in embers. Anyone in the radius of the blast was now either severely injured… or dead. Murata had been pinned down by some of the debris, metal beams that Prisma had used to shield him. He looked for his saviour, who was unconscious, heavily bleeding and not breathing. Murata’s heart dropped into his stomach and he tried frantically to free himself, reaching out an arm to his friend, his tears gathered and fell. His leg was cut as he freed himself but he didn’t even notice. He rushed over to Prisma’s side Bookmark here

“Oi! Chikara! Wake up!” he hit Prisma’s face slightly hoping to wake him up but it didn’t work. “C’mon! Don’t do this to me! You’re alright!" Bookmark here

Prisma was bleeding all over, a lot. His partner panicked, trying to figure out where to start. With each glance at each wound, trying to sort them in a severity order but with each one it just got worse. He started to tear up.Bookmark here

"Get up! Write something dumb on your sign! Chikara!!” He held his friend in his arm, but when his grip loosened, it flopped back down to his side. It felt like being shot, he placed his head on Prisma’s chest, wailing. "Chikara... please... please just open your eyes."Bookmark here

Nothing. Murata's face tensed, "OPEN YOUR EYES!" Bookmark here

Higuchi walked through the smoke, towards the distraught agent. “Please do forgive me, but are all you agents so stupid?”Bookmark here

Murata did not answerBookmark here

“His sacrifice will amount to nothing. You could not defeat me when it was two against one, and now, you are heavily injured. He will have given his life to save you for mere moments. What a fool”Bookmark here

Murata’s head whipped around and he fired a bolt of lightning from his palm that just missed the stunned Higuchi. It missed, but the power behind it was incredible… and the predator-like glare petrified him. Murata wiped away his tears and gently took Prisma’s blade from his hand, readying himself for the fight to come. His eyes opened once again, with determination in his heart he swung the blade despite being way out of range, but a bolt of lightning followed the swing and raced towards Higuchi. He narrowly avoided the electricity and used his oxygen blast to push him towards the agent who swung the blade once again and missed. The poison breath was cut through and the follow up punch was evaded as Murata spun out of the way and swung his blade mid rotation, catching the serpent in the armBookmark here

Higuchi clutched at the wound and a red mist escaped the wound. He was slow to react to the following swing, he barely avoided losing some hairs but then slipped under the next swing. Lightning shot down from the handle and sliced through his shoulder. As it stabbed into the ground, Murata used it to hold his weight, shifting into a spin kick that landed in the midsection, and Higuchi was sent flying. While he was still airborne, Murata landed and charged his mana into the sword, then launched it at high speeds. It ripped through Higuchi.Bookmark here

The heat from the explosion before brought the rain, and thunderclouds along with it. “I’m certain I’ve seen this in an anime before… ah well, I can’t fully control it either. But I can at least give it a target”. Higuchi stared up at the clouds above, they darkened and spewed out energy at random. It stopped, storing energyBookmark here

“I really do hate cheesy one liners. But you have no idea how much you’ve taken from me. So no, I won’t hold back, I’ll make sure there’s nothing left of you!”Bookmark here

Murata clicked his fingers and the lightning bolt fell in slow motionBookmark here

“Begone, with the thunderclap”Bookmark here

It hit the ground, digging a massive crater and shaking the ground. The explosion of sound destroyed any glass within a mile radius and any building in its immediate vicinity was reduced to ash. Higuchi could do nothing but stare as it hit him. Murata was sent flying back from the impact, however his injuries from this were minor.Bookmark here

Ryusaki left the cafe in a hurry, from the very seat she was in previously, Ritsu watched her go. She had her phone to her ear but the call would not connect. The phone she dialled rang out to the side of its golden owner. “Where the hell are you?! I swear if you’re goofing off somewhere I’ll kill you, making me worry…” she berated her phone. She put it back in her bag and power walked her way down the street. Her destination was the office, hoping that Reo had located and knocked sense into Hattori.Bookmark here

Murata’s thunder was heard by Minagawa, Kagari and Hado. They were still in a tense standoff. Any move made ended in the same situation. If Hado rushed forward to attack either of his opponents then the other one would hit him from his blindspot. Had Kagari or Minagawa moved first, Hado could predict the movement and counter with enough time to avoid the oncoming second. It was an awkward situation and they had been stuck in it for a little while now. Bookmark here

Kagari got restless and ran in first, using his talisman to fire a mana bolt which was easily jumped over, Minagawa followed up with a flash step punch aimed high. Hado managed to flip mid air and land perfectly thanks to his luck magic but Kagari follows it up with a jab to the back and Minagawa can land a kick to the face, it’s blocked partially, taking some of the impact but Hado is still knocked. He landed face first into a puddle which just angered him even more. He screamed out and launched his staff at random but it ricocheted and connected with Kagari’s head, stunning him. Minagawa caught the staff before it landed and swung it at the prone owner who blocked it with his forearm. It snapped in two and Hado palm thrusted the broken end into Minagawa’s hip but it only grazed as the agent skillfully deflected with his arm. He lifted a knee straight into Hado’s face, he coughed up blood and teeth. Minagawa pulled the trickster up by the collarBookmark here

“Give up now and I won’t rearrange your face more than it already has been. Although, I’m not sure you could really complain, I’d say it's a big improvement”Bookmark here

Hado coughed up more blood and gasped for air as he started to chuckle “Dear sir, you can’t seriously think this is all over. I haven’t made you beg for death yet!” Bookmark here

Kagari struggled to stay on his feet and used the wall nearby to keep him upright. He too gasped for air, the pain forced his head down as he massaged his aching arm.Bookmark here

Minagawa monitored his partner, worried about his injuries. “Broken?”Bookmark here

“I’m good. I think it’s just a bit banged up” Kagari responded Bookmark here

Minagawa nodded and his attention returned to the villain before him. “You said your name was Tenkichi, right? You realise the situation you are in right now, correct? If you don’t want to be thrown in with the high security sect at Crucifix I’d suggest talking. Number one, what is the Izumi planning? Number two, Where are the stolen Birthright magics being stored? Number three… who the hell dressed you?” Bookmark here

“Uhh, senpai, that last one is a little unnecessary” Kagari addedBookmark here

The trickster laughed loudly once more. “Well I suppose it is gentleman-like to answer questions addressed to oneself. Stolen magic? I’m afraid I am not privy to such details. If you thought our boss would entrust a mere pawn like me with such information you must be more simple than you look”Bookmark here

Minagawa tensed his fist and a few veins popped out, Kagari panicked in the backgroundBookmark here

“And our plans? I assume that is something you already know. We plan on wiping you agents and the rest of your pitiful organisation, off the map. This is step one gentlemen, take out the agents… every, last, one!” his vulgar smile becomes more haunting the more information he reveals.Bookmark here

The message was heard loud and clear. Ryusaki, Hattori, Eiichiro, Murata, Prisma… they’re all in danger! Minagawa pulled in the giggling psychopath, close to his faceBookmark here

“You snivelling son of-“ Bookmark here

“Aaah, this is getting boring” Hado responded. “I’m tired of you and your friend, all you do is ask obvious questions and presume you have the upper hand.”Bookmark here

“That would be because you’re currently being detained. We figured you out Tenkichi, losers shouldn’t act so high and mighty!”Bookmark here

“Oh I agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly!” Hado’s eyes lit up “but the thing is, idiots who think they’ve won despite the war is still very much being fought… those people are so dumb it just makes you laugh so much you wanna die!” Hado breaks out into an insane cackle.Bookmark here

Silence fills the air after he stops laughing. Bookmark here

“Apologies gentlemen, it seems I’ve had enough of babysitting for today. I think it’s improper to give you a sense of hope only to steal it all away mere moments after, however I dislike you people so I can make an exception”Bookmark here

Hado remembered the conversation with Danzo and Soichiro previously. “This new power isn’t a toy. It’s not a get out of prison card. It’s the last stand. You will only use it when you have nothing else up your sleeves. It is to be used only when you have no other cards to play. These twisted spells are similar to birthright magic in that they both have side effects if overused. However, unlike birthright magic, if you overuse a twisted spell, you will be one of three things. 1. At a disadvantage after a very short period. 2. Crippled or, what we expect is most likely, Dead.”Bookmark here

“My apologies, sir Soichiro. But my pride is worth more than my life” Hado cogitated. His body weight shifted and he managed to tuck his boot between himself and Minagawa, allowing him to push himself free. After he landed, he activated a dark, twisted magic. His hazel eyes turned dark green and the magic that formed around him looked more like a toxin than mana. It didn’t matter if the agents prepared for what was to come or not, this was something not human.Bookmark here

Hado’s stance shifted abruptly, and the magic intensified. “Snake Eyes! Reformed!” Hado’s magic explodedBookmark here

Murata couldn’t walk anymore, but the shockwave had thrown him back far enough that he could just about reach Prisma. He struggled and crawled over, clutching at his partner’s clothing to try and use it as leverage. It took everything just to switch to a seated position, it seemed like a few of his ribs had cracked after the blast, but none of that mattered.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Chikara. I’ll get you back. This might sting a little, but bear with it a while”. He placed his hands on Prisma’s chest and pushed, with each push, a surge of electricity shot into Prisma’s core. After a few minutes of this, Murata was getting tired. Most people would’ve given up at this point, but he kept going… until the sound behind him caught his attention.Bookmark here

From the blast zone, Higuchi crawled out. Blackened by the severe burns, missing a leg and barely alive, it dragged itself towards the pairBookmark here

“Damn it!” Murata cursed, his exclaim was quiet, his weak voice could not convey his feelingsBookmark here

“Y-yo-you… can, can’t kill. Can’t kill, can’t kill m, can’t kill mmmeeeee! Can’t, kill meeeeee!!” Bookmark here

It’s magic circled around it. Crimson in colour and vast, too much for someone on death’s doorstep. It shrank little by little, condensing into a small ball that Higuchi then swallowed, it exploded and the fumes seeped out slowly. His aura changed, now it was so heavy and ominous.Bookmark here

Higuchi wrestled his mouth open, “Nightshade, Reformed!”Bookmark here

His body expanded rapidly as if he was a water balloon. He reached the height of the buildings surrounding them, wide enough to block out the sun. Once he stopped expanding, he slowly exhaled out a mist. Everything in its wake… melted away.Bookmark here

Initially, Murata started to panic, but his magic began to fail him and he saw Prisma again. He gave up. Bookmark here

The mist slowly found its way to the broken agent. “I’m sorry Chikara… I promise I’ll make it up to you.” The poison mist also affected Higuchi, he tried to scurry out of its area of effect however the damage he sustained from the thunder strike stopped him from even lifting a finger, and he disintegrated in the toxin of his own creation. Murata simply closed his eyes and took in a deep breath and looked up to the heavensBookmark here

“I’ll see you soon.”Bookmark here

Hado’s snake eyes activated, and an overflowing wave of darkness enveloped him. His cackle became louder and louder. Once the magic slowly died down it became apparent, this was no mere magic.Bookmark here

“Reformed?” Minagawa asked, he had heard of unique spells that did require chants to use regardless of whether it was a birthright or not, but this didn’t seem like a flash in the pan. No, this spelt trouble.Bookmark here

“Well, you will be dead shortly, and I do believe that it would be gentlemanly to inform you of how. You see my luck magic affects myself and a living target. Unfortunately for you, the limitations it once had are now lifted. Like so” he pointed to the tree to the side of Kagari. A bolt of lightning struck it, and the evergreen collapsed. Kagari barely avoided being crushed, the tree went up in flames. Bookmark here

Both Kagari and Minagawa rushed in, hoping that the pincer move would cause problems but Minagawa misjudged the distance of his flash step just slightly and struck Kagari by mistake. As he fell, a pipe underground took on heavy pressure and split, it shot up through the ground like a booby trap. Minagawa acted quickly and blinked forward to catch his partner. A nearby sign malfunctioned, and split away from the wall. It hung onto a wire and swung down towards the agents who just about dove out of the way. The pavement became slippery and Minagawa lost his footing, landing on top of Kagari. The two struggled back to their feet and Hado couldn’t stop laughing. He was almost on the ground rolling around.Bookmark here

Minagawa readied his next flash step use, but the moment his shoulders lowered, Kagari pulled him back. The exact second Minagawa went for Flash Step, a jagged shard of glass from a window above came loose. It landed right in front of Minagawa, it would have cleaved the agent in two. “Nice save” Minagawa gave his praise as he imagined the alternative outcome to that. Bookmark here

“I must confess, Sir Takehaya, this is quite the power up. I must remember to give him and the boss my thanks”. Hado monitored the scene, his two opponents stood on shaky legs and another bout wouldn’t do them any favours. But they were cautious now, they were trying to come up with a plan. It didn’t matter to Hado, no matter what they did, it was all over.Bookmark here

“Since you two are too terrified to even move, I’ll end your suffering.” Hado’s magic flared up once more, but it was so much more powerful than before. The green glow fluctuated around him, then completely vanished. Bookmark here

It seemed at first like the spell had failed to activate, Minagawa started to chuckle to himself. “Seriously, don’t do that to me, I almost had a heart attack”Bookmark here

“Cute. But I’m afraid you don’t quite understand.” Hado pointed into the sky, and the two agents followed the gesture… up above, the building beside them had been crushed by its own weight, it keeled over and split causing a few stories of brick and mortar tumbling down. Minagawa tried to blink away but his foot got caught.Bookmark here

Hado’s magic failed or so it seemed. Sparks exploded from the palm of his hand and he dropped to his knees, clutching his wrist in agony. He couldn’t believe this, brought to these lengths by mere agents. He hadn’t lost! It was his magic, it was drained and now there was no way he could defeat his targets. Above them, the building had stopped moving… there were vines pulling it together somehow. Giant flowers sprouted all around and the building was placed back together and steadied. Bookmark here

Kagari, who was tense before, fainted. The relief of finally getting the upper hand and stopping Hado let him relax, the fatigue hit him and he fell to the floor. Minagawa reacted to the sound and rushed over to his partnerBookmark here

“You holding up, kid?!” Minagawa asked fearfully, but once he got close he too was relieved. Kagari was sleeping, Minagawa chuckled.Bookmark here

“Oi, stop stealing my bit” he ordered, still smiling at his partner. Behind them, Hado’s whole world was caving in around him. Not only had his luck failed him in the most important moment, but he had failed his mission… that alone was motivation to move what cannot move. He slowly rose back to his feet, grabbing the broken cane to his side. Everything was like it was in slow motion, Hado slowly approached Minagawa who had his back turned. The cane was lifted high and brought down fast.Bookmark here

But the impact felt, odd. It wasn’t the feeling of skin being pierced… it was the feeling of smacking a hard object. Hado opened his eyes, he had closed them while making his swing, the can had smashed into tiny pieces upon the impact of…Bookmark here

“…a tree?”. Yes, a net of branches blocked the assault. Minagawa had turned enough to see the scene in the corner of his eye. Hado tried once more but the branches whipped out and knocked him back before retreating back into the ground. Now something else came between the two parties, a female agent. Her royal blue hair swayed in the breeze and her deep blue eyes took anyone who stared too long into a beautiful ocean. Bookmark here

“W-who the hell are you?!” Hado stutteredBookmark here

“Yo, Atsushi” she ignored the little man. Her voice was familiar, soft and soothing. It was the voice of a girl full of youth. Minagawa turned quickly, confirming his assumptions…Bookmark here

“Otoha?”Bookmark here

She smiled at him over her shoulder then lifted her hand. Roots that ran through the underground ripped through the floor and wrapped themselves around Hado, his broken cane slipped from his hand. Bookmark here

Eiichiro was having similar luck. He had given up on calling and was now trying to trace Hattori’s morning route. He had spoken to Okazaki who passed Hattori’s address along, but there were so many roads he could’ve taken that honestly, Reo was getting ticked off. Bookmark here

It was only after rushing by Hattori’s home that he noticed something odd, something shiny. Upon further investigation, there was an exceedingly thin strand of golden wire on the ground. He followed the trail that ran off into tight alleyways, over rooftops and into underground channels.Bookmark here

“Who the hell designed this place?! It’s a goddamn epic journey just to go to work…” Eiichiro commented. Bookmark here

The wire seemed to be getting thicker as he followed it, bit by bit. He was close to the office; the wire was now closer to the thickness of a pipe. He rounded the corner, and there stood the golden statue. Eiichiro didn’t notice, it looked like some sort of art piece, flashy but, something he didn’t get. Though the wire stopped in the centre of this bottleneck he tried to continue towards the office. When a voice, weak and quiet, whispered into his ear. He turned slowly and realised what that art piece really was. It’s eyes, stared into his soul.Bookmark here

Ryusaki was rushing through the streets, headed into the cityscape. The rumble of her phone took her breath, had they found Hattori? Was there a problem at the base? Was it another annoying sales call? Bookmark here

“Hello?” Bookmark here

“Homare…” Eiichiro’s voice startled her. It was quiet, and burdened. Bookmark here

“Oh, Reo. Where is the little troublemaker, get him on the phone, I want to tell him how much he has ruined my day!”Bookmark here

“…Homare… he’s…”Bookmark here

SilenceBookmark here

“He’s what.”Bookmark here

“I can’t really explain it well but, he’s… he’s gone.”Bookmark here

Her heart sank, any words her brain put together would be doomed to only be thoughts, her voice failed her.Bookmark here

Stood behind her, Ritsu. She reached for Ryusaki’s arm slowly, and connected with the fibres of her jacket. Bookmark here

As the golden magic flashed, another magic exploded. Gone were the doors, and the people inside cowered. In walked Akagawa, wearing his menacing grin. “Time to go to work”. He was followed by numerous Izumi family members, Soichiro and Hisashi were the two leading the lines. Bookmark here

Above the entrance was a sign, the logo of the W.W.OBookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.