Chapter 9:

Case 9 - See you again

The Dejected Detective

The front entrance exploded, throwing stone and mortar in all directions. The terrified visitors and front staff scurried away, terrified. Anyone who tried to stop the threat were eviscerated instantly, gone, like they never existed in the first placeBookmark here

“(Prolonged Sigh) this is gonna be a cakewalk without any agents…” Akagawa complainedBookmark here

“Why are you so disappointed? Were you asleep when we planned this all out?” Soichiro askedBookmark here

“No, but I thought they’d at least put up a fight.” Akagawa took a seat near the entrance and put his feet up “I think I’ll keep an eye on things here” Bookmark here

Hisashi stared at his right hand man. “I ordered a full scale obliteration. Do you plan on disobeying my commands, Ren?”Bookmark here

Ren didn’t move “no sir. The way I see it, I’ll be more useful here anyway. Have the lackeys kill the weak ones, I’ll stand guard and take out anyone those morons you sent missed.”Bookmark here

This was not a direct disrespect, but it was damn near close. Soichiro tried to step in but Hisashi held his arm ahead of him. “Suit yourself. However, Ren. For someone who prides himself on punishing the disobedient… you really like to sit on the line. I must ask you to practice what you preach”. The group continued into the office leaving Akagawa, grinning as always. Bookmark here

The grip of the vine slipped slightly and Hado managed to activate a mana blade, slicing through the other restraints. The landing was perfect, allowing him to roll forward and swing his blade a inch away from Dojima’s face. His backswing was blocked. Cutting through the branches and vines that got in his way, he got closer and closer to his new opponent, his luck magic allowed him to close the gap as her magic failed to activate but that next attack failed as the flash stepping Minagawa knocked him back. He landed on his feet, luckily, and pounced for his next attack.Bookmark here

The swing caught the after image of Minagawa, and Dojima had taken her chance to retreat. The blade flickered but regained its form and Hado turned back around, Dojima was face to face with him which caught him off guard, he was unable to act quick enough to block the pixie dust she blew at him. It luckily missed his eyes but he breathed in a good amount and he coughed heavily. Bookmark here

“What kind of cheap trickery is this?!” Hado continued to cough it up and team Oxymoron made their move. The dust cleared just in time for Hado to see both Kagari and Minagawa riding on top of outstretched branches, surfing them as they propelled towards the trickster. Any attack he could muster was avoided quickly, the pair moved in random directions at different speeds, curling in the air and switching trajectories without a second thought. Minagawa’s branch switched again and was aimed directly at Hado. He shot a mana bolt but Minagawa avoided with a flash step, taking him behind Hado. Bookmark here

The attack had been set perfectly. Minagawa turned and shot a mana bolt of his own, the branch approached as quickly as ever and Kagari’s flew above Hado, allowing him to jump down and swing his mana blade straight at their target. Bookmark here

But he managed to react in time to dodge the bolt, Kagari missed the target and was pulled towards Hado…Bookmark here

The unstoppable branch pierced through Kagari. Right through his chest, Minagawa screamed out in horror and Dojima covered her mouth. Kagari’s eyes rolled back and his body went limpBookmark here

The branch returned to the sobbing Dojima as Hado cackled. “Ah, finally one down! I told you! No one can defeat me! I AM THE GREATEST MAGICIAN IN THE WORLD!” he held his head high. Bookmark here

“Luck, is truly my ally” Hado’s mind told him, and as he continued to cackle. The sound slowly became quieter, and quieter… until no sound was heard, and Hado stood still, unable to move or think. Minagawa walked past him and waved his hand in front of HadoBookmark here

“No matter how many times I see it, still freaks me out. This mirage spell of yours, Otoha”Bookmark here

The scene of Dojima blowing the pixie dust into Hado’s face plays once again. But this time, Hado does not move at all. He is rooted, dazed and believed he was actually still fighting. Bookmark here

Reo was rushing to the office, hoping that there might still be a chance to save Hattori. If there was, it’d be at that office. His call with Ryusaki was still connected though she had not spoken for a few seconds, Reo understood the reason.Bookmark here

“Reo…” Ryusaki whimpered finally.Bookmark here

“I know. I’m going back to base, maybe Okazaki’ll know a way to fix it. Just, don’t lose hope Homare, there may still be a way to bring him back.” Reo assured. Bookmark here

“What happened to him?” Bookmark here

“I’m not really sure. His skin was, well, it looked like gold. He didn’t move, didn’t breathe, it was like he’d turned into a statue…”Bookmark here

The people he passed whispered and stared, Reo assumed this was just due to his reputation. When he had finally reached the street where the office was situated, he then realised what the whispers were for.Bookmark here

“W- what the hell is going on?!” He shouted out. “Homare, I need you to come to the office, quick as you can.”Bookmark here

“Reo, what’s happening?”Bookmark here

“There’s Izumi here, they got small fry around the entrance and I’m guessing it’s a lot worse on the inside. I won’t be able to call the others in there so, try and get them over here as well. I’ll try and thin the herd for now.”Bookmark here

“Reo… I” she was cut off, the sound of the phone dropping to the floor and Ryusaki’s startled scream, lead to the call disconnecting. Bookmark here

“Homare? Homare?! Damn it!” Reo bellowed into his phoneBookmark here

Midway through her sentence she felt something touch her and her instincts took over. She spun quickly with a spin kick that connected with Ritsu’s face. Ryusaki felt her jacket get heavier, then noticed that it was slowly turning to gold. She took it off promptly and it dropped to the ground with a heavy thud. Ritsu slowly stood up, nursing the large cut just above her eye. The blood covered half her face and leaked into her eyes, blinding her.Bookmark here

“Who are you…!” Looking back at her jacket she realised exactly who she was facing.Bookmark here

“That magic… you did this. You’re the one who attacked Hattori! Weren’t you!?”Bookmark here

Ritsu continued to try and rub the blood off her face and out of her eyes. She didn’t pay much attention to Ryusaki, who stormed over and punched her in the face.Bookmark here

“Answer me!” She howled, Ritsu once again got back to her feet and tried fruitlessly to get the blood out of her eyes. Suddenly, the glove Ryusaki was wearing turned to gold. “Bad idea.” Ritsu responded. Bookmark here

Ryusaki struggled, but just about managed to free herself. By that point Ritsu had got back to her feet gradually, still blinded by the flowing blood.Bookmark here

Ryusaki continued to stare at the golden glove, trying to think of a workable solution to the issue at hand. In the meantime, Ritsu dusted herself off and stood. Any particles that fell from her shined in the remaining sunlight, turned to gold dust. Bookmark here

“What are you?” Ryusaki asked. Ritsu simply smiled which angered Ryusaki, she picked up the golden glove and threw it at Ritsu and it hit her between the eyes. Ritsu reeled in pain and Ryusaki used the chance to fire long distance mana shots. They were an effective tool for nowBookmark here

Reo considered his options, he could try and find Ryusaki, or he could take out the threat at the office. He was conflicted, on one hand he was the only available agent. But he was worried about Ryusaki, each side had its ups and downs but he finally made up his mind and ran towards the officeBookmark here

“Sorry Homare, but I got a lot of trust in you. Don’t make me regret it!”. Bookmark here

He shot up the steps, three at a time and rushed through the hole in the wall. The entrance was completely empty. Any furnishings that he knew of were displaced or demolished. Even the desk that you saw first as the door opened, where Ayame would be seated, she would look up and greet guests then continue on with her work. All that was left of it were some scattered fragments. Luckily, he didn’t see anyone at the front, it meant that either they weren’t hurt or managed to escape further into the building. He had to hope that most of the damage was done to the entrance and that going further in, there would be less carnage. He pushed on, or at least tried to before noticing someone lied on one of the sofas. Bookmark here

They didn’t seem to be bleeding, and there was movement. Strangely enough their face was covered by a book, maybe they were sleeping? Crazy! This was no place to catch beauty sleep!Bookmark here

Reo shook the person’s arm “Oi, get out of here while you can” the book fell from his face, it was the face of a known criminal… a known Izumi, Akagawa Ren. Reo was taken aback, and Ren’s eyes opened slowly as he regained consciousness. Bookmark here

Ren rubbed his eyes with his forearm, stretched and yawned loudly. “Mmm? How long was I out? What time is it?” He asked. When no response was made he looked up and saw Reo.Bookmark here

“Yo! You’re an agent right? Thanks for waking me up, I didn’t get much sleep last night thinking about this job. But sleeping on the job is one thing, being caught by the boss is a death sentence” he laughed. Ren sat up.Bookmark here

“Oh, I didn’t know there was something Akagawa Ren feared” said Reo nervouslyBookmark here

“Everyone fears something. Duty, Insects, Pain, Death… for me, it’s missing out. Don’t get me wrong, fighting a bunch of jumped-up suits is a favourite pastime of mine, but jumped-up suits with no magic? Nah, not exactly my cup of tea, that’s more to my boss’ liking. Me? I like challenging myself against people like you, at least I hope so. If you aren’t strong I dunno what I’ll do.”Bookmark here

This man’s face was plastered around the walls of the training centres. He was a newer addition to the Izumi but he was arguably the strongest member. Whenever his name was mentioned, it was followed by “run on sight”. This man was not someone you could simply tackle and throw cuffs on, not even the elites in the WWO would mess with him… “and now here he is” Reo thought. Bookmark here

An idea popped into Ren’s head and he jumped out of his seat, Reo of course was startled by this and backed off, assuming a defensive stance.Bookmark here

“I got it! I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you a free shot! No, two!” He held up two fingers to symbolise this. Reo didn’t quite understandBookmark here

“Guess that doesn’t make much sense? Don’t take this the wrong way, you don’t look too tough, but then again you are an agent. If I give you two free shots I’ll get an idea how tough you are. Whaddya say?” Ren held out his hand and smiled.Bookmark here

Reo simply cuffed the outstretched hand. At first Ren was surprised by the choice of action, but once the second cuff was secured he was disappointed. His blood magic cut through the cuffs like they were butter. These weren’t regular cuffs either, they were specialised wardstone cuffs that stop magic use but for some reason, Akagawa managed to break through and use his magic. The whip-like blood lashed out and cut through Reo’s left eye. He screamed out in pain and dropped to his knees, clutching at the wound that was pouring blood. Bookmark here

“I said, shots. The idea is to hit me, not try to restrain me. Do it again and I’ll take the other eye. Now then, you got one more chance, hit me as hard as you can!”Bookmark here

Reo grimaced and prepared his last freebie. His hand was outstretched so that his fingertips touched Ren’s chest. All of the fats in his body rolled across to the opposite side of his body, and then whipped backBookmark here

“Improved One Inch Punch!” Bookmark here

Every fibre of his being went into that punch and it his so hard the shockwave cracked the ground, Ren flew into the back so hard he completely destroyed the wall and fell outside, into the building next door. Bookmark here

The excruciating pain in his eye flared up again, he tore off a piece of his sleeve, activated a talisman that acted as a salve and then bandaged it. Once the wound was covered he checked to see if he could see Ren.Bookmark here

The Izumi’s executioner stumbled out of the building and back to his feet, he coughed out a hefty amount of blood but started giggling to himselfBookmark here

“Very nice! Had this wall been reinforced I’d be in a hospital bed with a broken back. Unlucky for you!” He explained. Reo grimaced and threw another punch in the air, his magic activated and the fats inside stretched out, when they landed, his form returned and he rushed over to try and get another hit. The blood Ren coughed up earlier moved under Reo and formed a prison cell. The bars were thin but he soon noticed they were also sharp.Bookmark here

“Now now, I said you could have two freebies. Sure you only got one but you wasted the other one, not my fault. From here on out, big man, I’m on the offensive. I’ll take that cell away but you’ll have a second at most to kill me, after that, game over. Try not to disappoint”.Bookmark here

Hado was loaded into the cruiser while the agents chatted. His face was still blank as his consciousness remained in a dreamlike state. As the two experienced agents chatted, Kagari was left a little confused.Bookmark here

“So wait… I’m sorry you’re going to have to explain again. What just happened?” Kagari asked bewildered. Bookmark here

Minagawa facepalmed and Dojima chuckled. “You don’t have to apologise, mr…?”Bookmark here

“Ah. My bad, I haven’t introduced myself yet!” Bows straight down, becoming a ninety degree angle “my name’s Kagari Shoto! Nice to meet you!” Bookmark here

“My, they sure got you an energetic one this time, huh Atsushi?”Bookmark here

“Energetic? Strange way to pronounce stupid” he mockedBookmark here

Dojima hugged Kagari tightly and pouted “Oi! Kagari is not stupid! He’s fun, to balance out your boring side.” Kagari seemed to want to escape but, his face showed that he was kind of enjoying itBookmark here

“He matches you to a tee, airhead”. Dojima realised how she was pressed against him and let the now red faced junior goBookmark here

“Kagari. This one is Dojima Otoha. Her birthright magic’s called Ceres. She can use plants to her advantage, including the very potent spore of the mirari mushroom. When breathed in it creates powerful hallucinations for up to three hours… I get all that right?”Bookmark here

Dojima puts her hands on her hips and pouts again “actually it’s four hours! I’ve gotten stronger since the last time you saw me” she assuredBookmark here

“Nice. Anyway…”Bookmark here

“Oi! Don’t ignore me!”Bookmark here

“We better move this guy, wouldn’t want him lucking his way out of the holding cell. Trouble is, how are we getting him to the office? I’m not giving up my bed, and since you’ve just got back I’m guessing you haven’t got your cruiser yet?”Bookmark here

Dojima pulls a set of keys from her pocket “I got a spare this morning for the next few days until Homare is back, then I’m in the carriage with her again”Bookmark here

“Then that’s sorted then. We’ll put the creep in your car and head to the office together!”Bookmark here

Dojima crosses her arms to make an x in the air “absolutely not! You’re going to leave an innocent maiden on her own with a beast like that? And you better not ask poor Kagari to take him either!” She barked her ordersBookmark here

“So, you want me to take him? You want me to drive? You think that’s a good idea?” Bookmark here

With every question Dojima nodded her head in approval. “That settles it, Atsushi and the perp in your car, I’ll take Kagari in mine!”Bookmark here

Minagawa sighed, knowing that the sleep he wanted would evade him againBookmark here

Dojima however kicked her feet up in the back seat, contently enjoying the cool breeze and the soothing music. “So… I don’t think I met you when I transferred here a year ago…” Said Kagari, trying to break the ice.Bookmark here

“I’ve been on a mission in Gallus for about 18 months, just got back. Okazaki doesn’t mention us?”Bookmark here

“Us?”Bookmark here

“Really? The agents on excursions. Did you think there were only six agents at head office?”Bookmark here

Kagari did not answer.Bookmark here

“There are a whole lot more. What we call the head office, is constantly sending out reinforcements to different branches. In fact, the first time I went out on an away mission, I partnered up with Atsushi. We were only supposed to be there for three days but came back a full week later because mr snooze was himself”Bookmark here

“Is that where you two became close?”Bookmark here

The question caught her off guard and she blushed. Kagari wasn’t good at wording things, so as usual he was bluntBookmark here

“Uhh, no, no that was, after.”Bookmark here

It became awkward againBookmark here

“Anyways! About those other agents! There’s Izuki in Leif to the west, he’s super powerful but pretty mean, every time he shows up to the office Minagawa tries to pretend to be sick!” She laughsBookmark here

Kagari sits and listens to her stories of old and new agents. Their colleagues and alumni who had come and gone. Their tales of strife and redemption, along with a handful of comedic tales and a few jabs at Minagawa. The two laughed and told their stories.Bookmark here

“It really is amazing though. We grew up as agents, Atsushi more so than anyone else” Dojima added.Bookmark here

“Oh? Senpai has been around the longest?” Kagari asked, interested in learning more about his partnerBookmark here

“Well… not really. But, he was around before a lot of us. When I first joined I was fifteen. I’d wanted to join for as long as I can remember, but unless you were an agent you couldn’t even open the front door, never mind walk through it. It was so fulfilling living how I wanted, and then there was Atsushi. He was a normal looking kid sat in the office. He was there everyday, for some reason it annoyed me that a kid like him was always there, he wasn’t an agent yet there he was.”Bookmark here

Young Dojima stormed over to younger Minagawa and stomped to a holt right in front of himBookmark here

“This place is for agents only! Civilians like you should go home!” She barkedBookmark here

“But, I don’t have a home.” He replied sheepishlyBookmark here

Current day Dojima smiled sadly. “That day I found the solemn side of Atsushi, the side he doesn’t show anymore.”Bookmark here

The mood dipped againBookmark here

“If there’s anything you should know about Atsushi, Kagari. It’s that he acts like he doesn’t care, but he does, more than anyone. And if he couldn’t save someone, it’d eat away at him. He’s very similar to Sosuke, and that terrified him, so he distanced himself, but he knows exactly how hurt Sosuke was and still is. Please Kagari, don’t judge him. Underneath the persona is that little boy weeping in the rain.”Bookmark here

“There’s no need to worry about stuff like that” Kagari responded cheerfully. “Senpai is senpai. I have infinite respect for him”Bookmark here

Dojima smiled brightly. Suddenly the radio blared and Kagari answered promptly “senpai?!”Bookmark here

“Sorry to interrupt, but there’s something you’ll wanna see”. Just down the street they knew so well, the street to the office, which was engulfed in flamesBookmark here

The battle between Ryusaki and Ritsu was coming to its end. Ryusaki’s usual frilly attire had been whittled down to a tank top, shorts and her shoes. The rest were in a golden pile wherever she dropped the, The barbed rose had kept her distance with shots of mana that dealt good amounts of damage, but it wasn’t enough to take Ritsu out. One more bolt fired out and caught the gold one in the shoulder but ricocheted off leaving naught but a small scratch. Ryusaki was dripping with sweat and was gasping for air, she grit her teeth and shot a trio of magical bolts that crackled in the air but once again lacked any real damage. Bookmark here

“Damnit, everything I throw at her is just bouncing off. Just avoiding her is annoying enough, never mind trying to take her out. This isn’t getting me anywhere…” she thoughtBookmark here

“This is getting boring. At least that other guy put up a good fight” Ritsu complainedBookmark here

The comment was followed by a dodge. Ryusaki shot another mana bolt that was slow due to her lacking energy.Bookmark here

“And by other guy, you mean Hattori, you’re the one that did that to him, right?”Bookmark here

“You know anyone else with gold magic? What an idiot” she started to laugh loudly but another bolt flew past her face, cutting into her cheek. This one wasn’t slow, in fact it was faster than everBookmark here

“Stick to the question!” Bookmark here

Ritsu was stern faced, “And if I said it was him?”Bookmark here

Ryusaki’s pain was visible, her magic exploded and she shot up into the air. Her screams were blood curdling, her trajectory had her landing at Ritsu’s feet. But, even though she knew that no one would ever get in that close, her instincts told her that if she didn’t move, magic or no magic she would be done for. She jumped away and Ryusaki landed heel first, digging into the ground and leaving nothing but rubble and a ridiculous crater. Bookmark here

The damage in her attacks, the violence in her eyes, the fact that she didn’t seem to fear her opponent… to Ritsu, Ryusaki was not human, she was death incarnate, trailed by blood and fire. She felt a feeling she had never experienced in her life… fear. Bookmark here

Slowly, methodically, Ryusaki took one step after another. Closer and closer. Her fist tensed and the last of her mana surrounded her arm. Ritsu was dazed, no one ever dared approach her and yet Ryusaki was getting closer and closer. Her left arm reached out to RitsuBookmark here

“Are you dumb?! C’mon then! Hit me and become just like your friend! When I’m done with you I’ll cut you both to pieces and sell you to the highest bidder!” Ryusaki grabbed Ritsu, who instinctively tried to run away, by the throat. Instantly her fingers became numb as they transformedBookmark here

“None of that matters to me. Right now, the only thing I care about, is breaking you”. Ryusaki tightened her grip as much as she could and focused all her mana into her right arm. She lifted her fist high like a sledgehammer, she put her everything into a punch, connecting with Ritsu’s chin. Bookmark here

A row of buildings were blown away in the shockwave, it hit so hard there was uproar three blocks away. Ritsu was gone, disappeared. To where, Ryusaki didn’t care, the gold climbed her body quickly, immobilising her entire body. She lost her strength and fell to her knees.Bookmark here

“Sorry, Reo. I’ll see you soon, yeah?” Her light burned out. All that remained of the carnage was a statue of a crying angel.Bookmark here

The three agents hastily stumbled out of their vehicles and locked the still unconscious Hado in. Any henchmen that had woken up after Reo’s attack were swiftly put back to sleep. Bookmark here

“You two go in through the side entrance, I’ll take the front. We can pincer the Izumi.” Minagawa advised as he rushed up the steps to the front entrance. Kagari and Dojima nodded and they ran off. Bookmark here

Through the blown out wall that was once the front entrance, Minagawa could see pure carnage. The entire room was completely totaled, with cracks and burns on the walls and floor. He didn’t see any bodies as he walked in, but next to the blown out section at the seating area, Reo sat motionless. Minagawa shouted out for Dojima as he ran over to the downed agent, but she most likely was too far away to hear. It was meaningless either way, he had brutal lacerations all across his arms and face and his right leg seemed to be crushed. His breathing was almost non existent. Minagawa took hold of Reo’s hand and shook his shoulder, Reo’s eyes opened weaklyBookmark here

“Minagawa?” Reo whisperedBookmark here

“Reo! You’re okay! You’re gonna be okay! What the hell happened here?!”Bookmark here

“He did, Minagawa. He happened…”Bookmark here

Minagawa was taken aback, “who, Reo?”Bookmark here

“…Akagawa Ren…” the words were daggers, digging deep. Minagawa’s vision blurred and his leg slipped but he managed to catch himself fairly quickly. “We’re done for, Minagawa”Bookmark here

“No… no don’t say that, we can survive this! Don’t give up, please!”Bookmark here

“I feel, tired… I think I’ll rest here a while longer…” His eyes closed slowly despite Minagawa’s screams of disapprovalBookmark here

The scene played again, Reo went for his strongest attack. Full force, every fibre of his being went into the punch that Akagawa simply side stepped. He lifted one finger, and a blood razor wire sliced through the agent’s shoulder. Bookmark here

Meanwhile, Akagawa had gone for a little stroll upstairs, to the offices. The door opened and he grabbed the chair closest to him and launched it through the glass. He gently placed both hands on either side of the table and grinned at the chair in front. “Would you look at this! If my boss knew you were here, I wonder if he would be happy…Okazaki Souji”Bookmark here

Okazaki sat calmly. “That depends what you have come here for, Mr Akagawa, and from what I can see it’s not to sell us cakes or cookies.”Bookmark here

“No, I doubt I could argue that assessment. But what I don’t understand is why you are still here. What? Captain goes down with the ship? Is that it?”Bookmark here

Okazaki chuckled “no, not quite. Think of it more like an angry father watching his children be slaughtered. The more pain you cause, the more I feel personally obliged to pay you back with interest of course”Bookmark here

Akagawa’s face lit up “really?! Oh I can hardly wait! A legendary mage such as yourself should put up a good fight.”Bookmark here

The intense stare off begins. Bookmark here

“Kagari! C’mon we have to get in there!” Dojima urged. They turned the corner, but they were met with a plethora of threats. Worst of all, the wall had been breached… inside, was the Arcane Vault. Henchmen were loading spells by the truckload. When they noticed the two agents they turned to face them, making a ruckus in the process. Dojima and Kagari prepared themselves. But the henchmen took a step back, and Soichiro took chargeBookmark here

“Oh? It looks like our diversion was unsuccessful. Keep loading them up, I’ll take care of the pests.” Bookmark here

Kagari and Dojima, faced their new foe. A man second only to Hisashi Izumi himself. Okazaki and Akagawa stared each other down, and Minagawa continued on deeper into the office, deeper into his worry and his guiltBookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.