Author Topic: Worldly Affairs of the Outside World Chapter 10~ 02/03/12 Update  (Read 5414 times)

Anunsew

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Chapter 1


[Reality as perceived by humans is flawed. Humans derive their concept of Reality from their five senses, which can become impaired by many circumstances. For example, someone suffering from extreme paranoia believe that someone is always watching her. Her senses tell her that she can "hear" that person walking behind her, "see" that person watching her from the corner of her eye?or at worst cases,"smell" that person's perfume...or sweat. Even if it resides within her mind, her senses tell her that it is real?therefore, a Fantasy of the mind becomes a part of her perception of Reality, at least to other people who will regard this person as mentally unbalanced.]

[If that's the case, then Reality is perceived differently by people according to what their senses tell them. The only reason that people can call a certain standard of Reality, what I can call a General Reality, is because that people generally share the same culture and beliefs within a span of an area. The chances of a person having a mental disorder also diminishes as the area becomes smaller, but mental instability constitutes only a small part of the deviants that attempt to undermine the General Reality of the greater population. The number of deviant minds from that General Reality is relatively small, but?]


Maribel Han sighed as she put down her pen as she paused in writing. The sun was setting, and the room's window was facing to the west. The orange sunlight was lighting up the usually dark room, which was furnished with queer pots, statues, and other trinkets of some strange ethnicity. Other than that, the room was quite normal. It was neither big nor small, but it was roomy enough for the two people sharing this clubroom.

"Mary, are you done yet?" said the person sitting on the other side of the table. Lying facedown on her arms, Renko Usami gave a snort that showed off her boredom with tone of magnificence.

"No, sorry," Mary replied. "It's a long essay, you know." Renko gave another snort, but she didn't say anything else. The room was quiet as usual, though Mary could hear the rhythmical ticking of the wall clock behind her. Finally, Mary spoke and broke the eerie silence. "Didn't you have plans this afternoon?"

Renko groaned. "Well, the UFO sighting last night was a hoax. It was actually an experiment by the geeks at the Chemistry class." Renko sat up and leaned backwards on her chair, rocking herself back and forth as she spoke.

"Well, I guess there's still that ghost sighting from last week. They say it appears in the floodplain at night but..." Renko threw a glance at the window. "...sundown is exactly 67 minutes and 32 seconds away. Gah, I'm bored."

Mary closed her notebook. "Well, the floodplain is a long walk from here, so we better get going then." Renko gave her a strange glance. "What? Did I say something strange?" Mary asked her tentatively.

"Not really, it's just that you're not this enthusiastic as often when it comes to Ghostly Field Club activities." Renko answered back. "Well, I guess it's not too bad." Renko stretched her arms, relishing the feeling as her circulation reached her tired muscles from sitting for so long. "Okay, let's get going!" Renko exclaimed with a sudden burst of energy.

"You're energetic all of a sudden..." Mary pointed out with a sigh. "Just don't get us into trouble this time."

Renko smiled back like a girl who got a new dress for her birthday. "What are you talking about? If you only ran faster, that undertaker from last time wouldn't have caught us, you know?" Renko put both hands on her hips with a confident air around her. "I just know?this time, we're gonna find something big."


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


The floodplain was always quiet at night. It was a superb place for a romantic hang out, especially at the moon's sixteenth night. Sometimes, you can even spot a fisherman throwing a line across the river, hoping to catch a big one. There was a legend among the nearby residents that a big fish lived in the river, a guardian that protects the creatures that live inside the river. Nobody has ever seen the fish before though..

Well, since legends are a source of pleasure for the Ghostly Field Club, it's not much of a problem. And certainly, romance is not in the air when they are around.

"Look, those couples are going away..." said Mary. Couples who were enjoying each other's warmth on a cold night caught sight of the two and started to pack their things and leave. "Er...why are they going away?"

"Who knows? You know humans can be a strange lot," Renko answered quickly. She tweaked her hat in a carefree gesture. "It's better if we can work around the floodplain without being disturbed."

"...and now they're giving as scared glances,? continued Maribel. ?Renko, did you do something to these people?" Mary looked nervously at the couples as they hurried away from the floodplain. Soon enough, only Mary and Renko were left by the floodplain. They were only accompanied by the quiet, rhythmic croaks by the river.

"Not really," Renko casually replied. She kneeled on the grass and examined the ground with a small flashlight. "Oh come to think of it, I was here a few nights ago..."

"Our club is getting negative feedbacks lately," Mary reminded her. "I don't want to stand in front of the university board if ever we get into REAL trouble." Renko did not pay much attention and nodded off Mary's words on reflex.

Mary sighed at her friend's inattentiveness. "If the university decided to close us down for being a bunch of troublemakers, I can't really say anything to your defense, you know."

"Sure, sur?oh look at this Mary!" Renko stood up and held something small between her fingers. She raised it to her eye-level and pointed the flashlight towards the object with her other hand. "Hmm, this looks like a small piece of Aurum..."

Mary approached her to take a closer look. "Aurum? You mean gold?" The small object was a shiny shapeless lump, barely bigger than a small bug.

Renko nodded while she continued to examine the small piece. "It might not really be gold though, it could be a painted rock or something. It's strange to find something like this though. This river doesn't have any gold deposits, else there would've been mining prospectors going around. Unless somebody put this here..."

Renko put down the flashlight, and in doing so, Mary caught a glint through the taller grasses upriver. "Hey, I saw something over there," Mary walked towards the source of the glint without waiting for Renko to catch up.

"Wait up, Mary!" Renko called out, but Maribel was already within the tall grasses. These tall grasses were planted deliberately and designed to hinder the erosion of the floodplain in case of heavy rainfall. Renko followed her friend through the tall grasses, pocketing the small trinket for later inspection.

Mary suddenly froze. "Hey, Renko! I see something over here!" Renko caught up with her and nearly dropped the flashlight.

There was a young girl lying facedown on the grass. Her clothes were slightly torn in some places, and numerous cuts and bruises at her arms and legs. On impulse, Renko checked the girl?s pulse. "She's alive. It's best if we get help immediately." Renko looked around to see if there was someone nearby they could call for help, but the floodplain was already devoid of people except for them.

"There's a nearby clinic that I know," Mary replied. "Let's take her there."

Renko nodded in agreement.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Renko carried the girl at her back as they entered the clinic. The clinic was nearly empty except for a couple of old people waiting at the lobby. Some nodded slightly, taking a nap while waiting for their number to be called. An old man stood by the counter, and was talking to a young long-haired girl, probably no older than a high school student. Renko looked around the clinic to ask for assistance and the girl approached them.

"She's unconscious and injured," Mary told the girl. "Is there a doctor around?"

The girl nodded, gesturing them to follow. She led them through a hallway and then into a room with two unoccupied beds. "Lay her on the bed. Miss Satsuki will attend to you shortly."

Renko laid the unconscious girl carefully on the bed. She didn't have a good look at the unconscious girl at the floodplains, so she was surprised to discover the injured girl was barely a child, probably someone in her middle school years. The girl's clothes were not badly damaged, but they looked as if it was caught with a sharp object while she was running; probably from a bush or a thorn. The cuts on her arms and legs confirmed Renko's suspicion?as they are injuries of someone who tripped and fell while running very fast.

Renko's thoughts were disturbed by the arrival of the doctor. The doctor was a woman in her early twenties, dressed plainly in a white medical uniform. However, what startled Renko wasn't the doctor's youth or her dress?it was her presence. From the moment she entered the room, it was as if a warm fireplace was lit inside the room. Her presence calmed their nerves, like a child being carried by its mother. The doctor walked placidly towards them, neither showing hurry nor slowness. Time seemed to slow down as she approached. Maribel and Renko were entranced by some unseen mesmerizing force as she approached.

"Meimu, bring me a bottle of povidone-iodine and some bandages," the doctor said. Her voice broke the spellbinding enchantment that fell on Maribel and Renko. They both blinked in surprise, and both were speechless by the whole experience. However, the girl named Meimu seemed not to take notice of anything strange, and went out of the room to fetch the needed items without as much as a nod.

The doctor faced the two university students. "My name is Dr. Satsuki," the doctor introduced herself with a gentle voice. "What happened to your friend over there?"

"Er...we found her by the floodplain a while ago," blurted Renko. "We don't know anything about her, but she looked hurt and unconscious so Mary and I took her here."

"I see," Rin started to examine the unconscious girl as Meimu reentered the room with a bottle of Betadine and a roll of badages and handed it to Rin. Rin took them and started treating the girl's wounds. Meimu turned to the two university students.

"Miss Satsuki is going to treat her now. It would be best if you wait in the lobby for a while," Meimu told the two of them. Gesturing at Renko and Mary to follow, she led them out through the door and back into the lobby. Meimu offered them a seat in an empty sofa.

"Would you like some tea or coffee while you wait?" Meimu asked the two girls.

"Tea please," Maribel answered. Meimu nodded and left. Renko sighed audibly.

"I didn't know there was a clinic here.? The lobby was already empty, and the old people were gone. She looked around the lobby and found it a bit desolate.

"It's newly opened," replied Maribel. "I've only been here once before." The lobby of the clinic was sparsely furnished. Besides the sofa they were sitting on there was only another sofa across them. Aside from the small wooden counter beside the hall leading to the patient's rooms, those were all the furniture inside the clinic?s lobby. The walls of the lobby were painted white, as well as the other rooms in the clinic, but it only added to its bareness.

Renko blinked. There was young girl barely visible behind the counter. She read a book silently and paid them no attention. She did not notice the girl when they first entered the lobby, and she only barely noticed her now when she was looking directly at the counter. The girl's eyes suddenly lifted up from her book and returned her puzzled look. Realizing that she was staring, Renko looked away.

"I must be tired," Renko muttered under her breath, but Maribel heard her and laughed softly.

"Say, did you notice anything strange about the doctor?" Renko asked Mary. "She seemed a bit too young to be a professional doctor."

"Hmm, haven't you heard of her before?" said Mary. "She's Dr. Rin Satsuki, she's a word of mouth in the medicine industry until some time ago." She folded her arms as the cold air conditioning of the clinic started to creep under her clothes. "She gave a lecture in our university last year."

"Dr. Satsuki?" repeated Renko. "I may have heard of her...or not..." She closed her eyes and knotted her eyebrows as she tried to remember. "...wait a minute, it's her?"


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Renko remembered a story in the news, though she can?t really remember when.

It was about a doctor who was able to revive a young boy who was involved in an accident. The boy was hit by a truck while crossing the street in a busy part of the city. The truck driver was in a hurry and did not notice the young boy until it was too late. As luck would have it, the truck's braking system also failed, and the driver wasn't able to avoid the boy who was blissfully unaware of the incoming danger.

It was a gruesome scene. There was blood everywhere. His arms and legs were bent at odd angles. Pedestrians watched the horrible scene as they struggled to get their phones out to call the emergency hotline. Innocent bystanders rushed to try and aid both the boy and the driver who ended up slamming his truck on a nearby lamp post.

However, before a paramedic could arrive, a young woman introduced herself as a doctor cut through the crowd and rushed to the boy's aid. She checked for a pulse and performed mouth-to-mouth, and suddenly the boy stirred and opened his eyes as the paramedic arrived and took over.

The paramedics were amazed. The boy lost more than twenty percent of his blood but he was breathing normally and his heart rate was normal. When the bystanders told their story, the paramedics were even more puzzled. By all accounts, the boy should have died instantly upon impact with the truck. If he could even be revived, it wouldn't have been done just by simple mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

But the boy was alive. He was immediately taken to the hospital. The boy complained only a little, and his fractures were surprisingly minor. That would have been the end of the story if it wasn't for the other thing.

The truck driver was pinned between the steering wheel and his seat because of the impact of his collision with the lamppost. The truck was nearly a wreck, and the driver was wedged in the deformed mass of metal in front. The paramedics wasted precious time trying to get him out of the truck, until the fire department arrived and sawed off the metal frames that trapped the victim.

Then the paramedics checked for a pulse and found that the heart had stopped beating. After trying to defibrillate him in vain, they were already setting up some calls to the morgue when another person intervened. It was the same young woman who revived the boy earlier..

She introduced herself as Rin Satsuki MD/PhD. The paramedics could only stare at the young girl in disbelief as she approached the dead truck driver. Before they could stop her, she was already performing chest compressions in an attempt to revive the clinically dead person. Suddenly, the driver suddenly gasped, and Rin demanded to a nearby paramedic to cancel the morgue appointments and call for another ambulance.

Both the driver and the boy were able to recover fully in the hospital and were back to normal in less than a week. Rin Satsuki became the subject of public interest after her 'miraculous' rescue of two lives in one night. However, she gave little comment about the accident and her contributions. She did get an award and a lump of cash from some big medical-oriented organizations. However, she requested it to be donated to a couple of small charities.

She became  a subject of intrigue by the media for some time, but the hype soon died down. It was barely remembered by some people now.
 

★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


When Meimu returned with the tea, Renko was already excited about the young doctor. "Hey, is she really the Rin Satsuki?" she asked her However, Meimu only replied with a puzzled look.

"Er...I don't really know what you're talking about, but I guess you can say yes," Meimu replied tentatively. "Is there anything else?"

"Yes, can I ask you a couple of questions?" Renko asked the young girl. "Are you Dr. Satsuki's assistant? How long did you know each other?"

Meimu replied with a smile, but she looked uneasy at Renko's bullet-fire interrogation. Maribel decided to intervene. "Renko, you're being too rude.?

"It's okay," Meimu replied, sighing gratefully at Maribel?s rescue. "Miss Satsuki is a bit popular around here. We do get a couple people who like to ask questions about her."

A small voice suddenly interrupted their conversation. "You're too accommodating, Meimu," the voice told them. "You should tell clients off from time to time." The voice came from the girl who was reading behind the counter. She was looking at them above the pages of her book, giving them a nonchalant stare.

Meimu waved her off. "And you're just brimming with happiness, aren't you Kiyuu? You're supposed to be a receptionist, but you scare off most of the patients away." Kiyuu did not reply, but sank back to her book instead.

Realizing that the two were watching the exchange, Meimu bowed apologetically to Maribel and Renko. "I apologize for my little sister's rudeness. She's just bad at dealing with people."

"It's not like they pay us you know," Kiyuu cried out from the counter. She did not lift her eyes from her book.

"It's more of a charity work, really," she continued, not noticing Rin as she exited the hall beside the counter.

Whack.
Renko winced as Rin smacked Kiyuu behind the head with a small notebook. "How many times do I have to tell you to be more polite?" Rin sighed in exasperation. "Working for free doesn't give you the right to be rude to other people."

Rin turned to the two university students. "You two, I need to talk to you about your unconscious friend."

Renko and Maribel followed Rin back into the patient's rooms and ignored Kiyuu's indifference and Meimu's exasperated sighs.


(Next: Chapter 2)
well, duh.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Omake
Renko Edition


Renko here, member of Ghostly Field Club, and holder of at least fifty percent of the club's internal affairs~
Today, I bring to you a report about a REAL (as opposed to rumors of someone who saw something...I got the person who actually SAW it.) ghost sighting by the floodplain LAST NIGHT!

*clap* *clap *clap*

Anyway, it supposedly appears at night by the floodplain, and tonight we will see if there is any truth to it. Too bad Mary is too busy to join tonight, so only Usami(mi!) will be advising you tonight.

"Excuse me, miss? Can't you respect some privacy?"

Er, who are you?

"My girl and I are just spending some quality time here, we would appreciate it if you can turn down the noise down a bit."

Who's noisy? Heck, I'm not even using my megaphone yet.

*feedback noise*

Everyone at the floodplain, listen up!

"Hey, turn that thing down? What time do you think it is?"

It's 11:43:20 (and counting!) my good sir. This time check is brought to you by Renko Usami(mi!).

"GAH! Don't point that megaphone at me while you're talking! SHEESH!"

Anyway~ All people spending lovey-dovey time at the floodplain, can you please do you affairs somewhere else. Hey! I see you over there! NO PDAs allowed! Yes, I see you there, the guy with the brown shirt. Kiss your girlfriend somewhere else, this is public property!

"You there, with the megaphone! Stop making noise! Hey, aren't you that Usami girl from the graveyard a few days ago?"

Crap, the police is here already. Damn, I'm popular.
Looks like I have to cancel this Usami(mi!) special for tonight, gotta run fast! Gotta burn those calories from that candy bar three hours, twenty-two minutes and thirty-three seconds ago!

"Hey! Get back here!"


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Omake
Kiyuu Edition:


There's a lot of old people around the clinic lately. For some reason, they seem to hang around the clinic even though they don't need medical attention.

"Excuse me, little girl, can I have a cup of tea?"

I'm not a little girl and er, didn't you have three cups already?

"Oh, did I now? Sorry for asking then."

That's why I hate old people. Just because we're a charity clinic doesn't mean they can hang around here all day, asking for tea.

"Excuse me, little girl, can I have a cup of tea?"

I'm not a little girl and no, Mrs. Yokomoto, you already had five cups tonight.

"Oh did I now? Sorry for asking then."

I wonder if Meimu's tea has some narcotic in it? These people seem to be rooting for the stuff.

"Excuse me, little girl, can I have a cup of tea?"

What's up with you people? You people keep calling me little--I'M NOT THAT LITTLE!

"Hey Kiyuu, are you shouting at the old people again?"

No Meimu. I am not shouting. I AM RAEGING!

"What?"

Never mind, you'll never get it anyway.

"You should stop reading weird mangas, you know."

They're not weird. And this book I'm holding happens to be a novel, thank you very much.

*door opens*

"She's unconscious, is there a doctor around?"

*shuffling sound of feet*

Huh, it's not often we get REAL patients.

"Excuse me, little girl, can I have a cup of tea?"

OH FOR THE LOVE OF--
I'll get you a cup already, stop bothering me.

"Thank you, little girl."

FOR THE LAST TIME, I'M NOT THAT LITTLE, OR SHORT, OR--
..whatever, just wait here.

*footsteps*
*clinking of porcelain cups*
*clicking of an electric kettle*
*pours*
*mixes*
*footsteps*

Here you go.

"..."
"..."
"...er"

It's tea. I made it, so stop bothering me.

"This tea tastes a little bit strange, don't you think?"

I just mixed random leaves and poured hot water on it. Isn't tea just like that?

"It tastes awful."

I have more, if you'd like to try.

"..."

*puts cup down*
*shuffling footsteps*

Anybody else who would like to try some?

*shuffling footsteps*

"Hey Kiyuu, did you see where the bottle of Betadine--hey, where did the old people go?"

Oh, they went home for the night.

"Really? I hope they don't catch cold on their way home--hey, who used up my jar of spearmint? I just bought it today."

Meh, I don't know.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Anu corner:

So I managed to compile this neatly after all that trouble. :3
it's just the first chapter, and my head is spinning already. :ohdear:
Hopefully, my attention span will not fail me when I'm writing. Oh well, I can always imbibe a copious amount of coffee...

Most of this probably doesn't make any sense. I hope it starts making sense soon enough. At least, I hope it does to me. :ohdear:

Anyway, comments would be welcome. As well as point-outs and criticisms (braces self).
« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 02:03:23 AM by Anunsew »

Kips McKipzerson

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Re: Worldly Affairs of the Outside World
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2011, 02:12:31 PM »
Seems pretty good. I lol'd at Kiyuu and renko's omakes :V

Re: Worldly Affairs of the Outside World
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2011, 01:48:10 AM »
The story is really good. You should keep on writing it! There were some misspelled words, but nothing too major. 

Crow's Dumping Ground of Art

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CS

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Re: Worldly Affairs of the Outside World
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2011, 09:00:18 AM »
Can I have a cup of tea?

*switches on megaphone* Can I have a cup of tea, little girl?

This story's pretty good, and I think the omakes are really good too. Really well written but yea, like Immaterial Crow pointed out, there are a few spelling mistakes but overall it's really good
Madness?

Anunsew

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Re: Worldly Affairs of the Outside World
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2011, 01:34:27 AM »
Thanks for the comments!

I'll try to be more careful about the spelling in the future; since I only use Wordpad when typing (opening .rtf in a slow PC is faster than .doc; don't ask how slow...).

Also the omakes are supposed to fill in parts of the story that aren't that important (like why the people at the floodplain flee at the sight of Renko) but I tried to make them a little funny. :)

Anunsew

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Worldly Affairs of the Outside World Chapter 2
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2011, 05:23:28 AM »
Chapter 2


Despite its barren and unfurnished appearance, the Satsuki Pediatric Clinic is remarkably clean. Its white walls are always kept dust-free by Kiyuu and Meimu, and the lobby is spacious enough to accommodate a fair number of patients. It's certainly bigger than most clinics, although the lobby's furniture consists only of two long sofas which can easily hold five people each, and a bare wooden counter (painted white, of course) beside the long corridor leading deeper into the clinic.

"So, what do you think of them?" asked Kiyuu. She was still reading intently behind the counter. The counter itself has nothing on it, except for a pen and a piece of paper with some names on it. Kiyuu was comfortably seated on a wooden stool, while Meimu leaned on the counter and waited for Rin to call her for assistance.

"Them? You mean the new patient?" replied Meimu curiously. "Well, it has been awhile since we had a patient who isn't past their fifties. I mean, we live in a place with mostly elderly people, after all."

Ironically for a pediatric clinic, the SPC is situated in a district whose residents consisted mostly of elderly people who are living alone. Either because they did not marry or because their children have moved out of the house and started their own families, the elderly people in this district are lonely old people who were mostly forgotten by their children. So despite being a pediatric clinic, its patients are usually elderly people suffering of rheumatism, or depression. However, Rin also claims to be geriatrician (along with a dozen other fields of expertise) and had an ample experience with problems of elderly people, so she doesn't seem to have any problems dealing with their cases.

In fact, despite Rin's youthfulness, she is very popular with her elderly patients. She doesn't charge a coin for their medicine, and her methods are very effective. Aside from that, the clinic is also famous for its tea, much to Kiyuu's chagrin.

"Anyway, it's good to know that we're still a normal clinic," said Kiyuu indifferently. A short girl at her early teens, Kiyuu had gained an unhealthy reputation for being the clinic's thorny receptionist. As the clinic receptionist (and a bad one, according to most of their patients), she often treated newcomers as an annoyance, and had to be constantly reminded by both Rin and Meimu to be more accommodating.

In contrast to Kiyuu's coolness, most of the elderly patients find Meimu's company to be relaxing and warm. As the source of the clinic's abundant supply of good tea, Meimu is popular with the clinic's 'regulars', or elderly people who often visit for teatime. A graceful girl in her adolescence, she is known as the hard-working clinic assistant and (according to Kiyuu) mascot.

Both Kiyuu and Meimu are under the care of Rin as their adoptive guardian, and they practically live inside the clinic with Rin. Both Meimu and Kiyuu were abandoned by their real parents, and they somehow wound up with Rin as a pair of adopted sisters. While Kiyuu and Meimu are unrelated by blood, they know each other closely to pass off as real sisters. In fact, only a handful of people know that they aren't even real sisters.

"I do wonder what happened to that girl though," said Meimu thoughtfully. "She doesn't seem to be from around here."

Kiyuu just shrugged. "Well, glad to know we still treat people, because there's hardly been a real patient for weeks. I?m getting tired of serving tea and coffee to the elderly. And we dare call ourselves a children?s clinic," Without another word, she went back to reading her novel, paying little heed to anything else.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


"So, can you tell me how you found her?" asked Rin. Her tone was serious, arms folded as she watched the two with keen eyes.

The girl is still unconscious in her bed. Rin is sitting on the chair beside her bed while Maribel and Renko told her about the story of finding her on the flood plain.

"You found her while you were doing club activities?" Rin said thoughtfully. She paused for a moment and tapped her pen idly on her memo pad.

"Anyway, your little friend here is quite lucky. She didn't have any serious injuries, just some minor scratches and wounds, nothing permanent. But she's very weak, and she's showing signs of moderate dehydration,? Rin told the two in a professional tone. Her voice was melodic, but her seriousness barely showed the amount of experience she had compared to the two university students.

"Will she be alright?" asked Maribel tentatively. Maribel glanced at the sleeping girl, and she suddenly felt warm compassion rushing inside her.

"Of course she'll be alright. That's why you brought her here, right?" answered Rin with a confident tone. Maribel sighed visibly with relief.

 "Regardless, she has to stay here for the night so I can continue examining her, but she?ll be alright once she gets her strength back when she wakes up,? Rin added.

"Is it okay for her to stay here? I mean we have to contact any family members she has," Renko chided in.

"I can't contact her family since we don't even know her name," Rin shrugged. "If it's okay with you, I'll be listing you two as her temporary guardians, just for the record. You don't have to agree though, I'm just asking since you two were the ones who found her."

The unconscious girl stirred in her bed while Mary and the others were talking. Her eyes slowly opened, unfocused and hazy.

Rin leaned over the girl. "Oh, she's awake. Thank goodness," said Rin. The girl heard her voice and looked at Rin.

A look of bewilderment crossed the child's face. "W-where is Mizuuya?" she asked tentatively.

It took almost five seconds before anyone could answer.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


The dark man ran as fast as he could. He ran through the city streets like a madman, wheeled past alleys and homebound employees, and ran like a track athlete in his championship lap. Grunting with exertion, he could feel the effects of his punishing pace on his whole body. His lungs were about to burst with every breath he took, and his legs were threatening to fall off. But he wasn?t even thinking about stopping, not even if his legs were torn off. He?d crawl just to get his message through.

And a messenger he is, and a damn important messenger. Less than three hours ago, he was in a middle of the worst bloodbath he?d ever seen.

Shima had struck again.

Three hours ago, some of the leaders of the Katsugane and Edomae group were meeting up about a simple issue of theft. A package that was supposed to be delivered by the Katsugane group to the Edomae group at a rendezvous in the southern part of the city was intercepted by an enemy and the escorts have been all reportedly killed. The package wasn?t recovered, and it was suspected to have fallen into enemy hands.

Now which enemy did it?

That was supposedly the agenda of the meeting. The local heads of the Katsugane and Edomae group were discreetly called out of their usual routine business in order to brief and reanalyze the current situation. The bosses of the two groups and some of the leaders weren?t able to attend due to other important matters, but the number of those who attended still numbered around a dozen. They met up at a private suit in a hotel accompanied by lots of armed guards. The courier was one of them, just a common hired thug among other thugs, not privy to any important exchanges made by their bosses or even honored enough to sip their sake. It?s what probably saved him; he was the only guard outside the suite?s door. His job was to discourage any civilians from sneaking around, and turn away the hotel?s maintenance staff for the sake of utter secrecy.

Screw secrecy, thought the courier. If their group was so secretive, how come did the Shima guy knew just when to strike?

Shima is an unknown face in the city. Nobody knows his real name, his real address, or even his real face. They didn?t even know if he was just one guy or a group. All they knew was that he was an ice-cold killer, but it doesn?t take a genius to figure that out.

Shima appeared out of nowhere a few months ago, and one of their business brokers ended up dead. They could have dismissed it as a usual business loss; the broker wasn?t important, and dead people turned up all the time in the city.

But when they learned that the broker?s corpse had no tongue and no eyes, they knew that somebody left them a hard message. The broker also bore a burn mark on his forehead, as if it was branded with white-hot iron embossed with the image of a closed eyelid.

The Closed Eyelid. It would become Shima?s name for the group for the days to come.

Another member turned up dead after a few days. It was a small-time loan shark employed by their group this time. He raked about a few thousand yen a month, a small figure compared to the net income of the group. Despite of this, he was still a member?and an earner. The Katsugane group became even more concerned when he turned up armless and legless in the floodplains one morning. On his chest was the same burn mark, the same closed eyelid. On his shirt?s pockets was a note which was later taken by the police as evidence. The note read, ?I am Shima. I will be delighted to consume you all.?

A full-scale war was declared. There where thugs everywhere who kept an eye out for suspicious people. There were various shakedowns, hard interrogations, and many of their employed informers were pressured to get more information about Shima. And everybody said that nobody saw a damn thing. How can you miss two murders in your own turf?

Things easily turned from bad to worse when Shima struck again. Informers suddenly turned up dead. Some died by poisoning, while some were discovered chopped into pieces miles away from their home. All of them bore the mysterious stigma somewhere on their bodies. The Katsugane group?s hired investigators were puzzled, and can gather no clues about how and why Shima did it. Even the police were baffled by the series of murders, and blamed it on their group and organized crime.

When the news of Shima first reached the local boss of the Katsugane, he was enraged at the killer?s arrogance more than the murders. He barked orders to the group heads employed under him. In turn, the heads barked orders on their thugs and urged for a solution before the matters reached the other bosses. The politics of organized crime is vicious. It only takes one mistake for a boss to be replaced?or killed. The current boss in the city is anxious to secure a higher position in his group, and the news of Shima would do little to help his promotion.

It then came to pass that the local boss realized that drastic measures were needed in order to eliminate Shima and secure his position in the group. To this end, he realized that he must buy an alliance with another group bordering their territory in the city.

Buying an alliance from another group is never easy. For one thing, relationships between groups are always testy, as their thugs always resort to street violence when territories are being claimed. Still, the local boss of the Katsugane group decided that he needed a desperate gambit in order to find and eliminate Shima.

The Edomae group?s territory is located in the southern end of the city, while the Katsugane owned the north. Together with the Katsugane group, they rule the underground network of organized crime in the city. They are at a neutral stance to each other, by order of both Family heads themselves. However, street violence is unavoidable, and no less than a hundred soldiers from both groups have been killed last year alone.

In order to acquire the Edomae?s oath to help eliminate Shima, the local boss of the Katsugane group decided to lend a very valuable item; a treasure of the Katsugane group called the ?Kintsuchi?. It was this item that was being escorted to the Edomae  a few days ago, and it was this package that was stolen at the cost of the lives of all its escorts.

And now, the news of this theft led to the deaths of the leaders of both groups. Now both the Edomae and Katsugane are tethering at the edge of a collapse, and only the running courier can save the Katsugane group from further humiliation.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


The courier saw the building of his employer.

I knew I should?ve bought a bike, he thought. If I knew I would be running this night, I would?ve bought a damn bike.

He suddenly thought of the bike gangs and wished for a motorcycle. He felt his legs threatening to cramp, but he knew he wouldn?t stop.

Twenty feet above him, two shrouded figures watched his efforts. They were standing atop an office building, savoring the night breeze as it blew its chilling breath.

?Should we let him escape, kana?? said one. She had a young, girlish voice, genuinely amused at the courier?s pace.

?The killing tonight was grand, though I was a bit rushed,? said her companion. Her voice was also that of a young girl, though unlike her companion, her voice was collected and calm. She looked at the streets with a calculating glare and pondered her next course of actions. She watched as the courier knocked over a woman with some groceries. The woman shouted angrily at the courier who did not even stop to apologize.

?At this rate, he?ll probably make it to his boss,? said the first girl. ?Though it?s still according to plan, kana??

The second girl watched the courier disappear into the crowd. ?We should go back,? said her companion. ?Master would be worried if we get back late.?

Her companion sighed. ?We?re not going to kill that guy, kana? ? The first girl hiked a thumb towards the general direction of the courier. ?That guy is scum. I bet he?d already killed some guys before.? She was genuinely put off by the fact that they?re letting a target escape.

The second girl turned her back on her companion and started walking away. ?It would be good if that courier reaches his boss. His message would strike great fear upon their ranks, and they will rally their troops in a desperate effort to try and kill our Master.?

?And when they do, that?s when we kill them all in one strike, kana?? the first girl said excitedly.

?Like lambs to the slaughter,? the second girl replied reassuringly.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


?So what?s new on Shima?? said a senior officer in the Criminal Investigation Bureau. He was one of the task force designated to track and hunt down Shima. ?This guy is good. His killings are very graphical, but he delivers his messages loud and clear without compromising his identity.?

So far the Shima Task Force has only six members, but the workload was passed around like gravy. Each of the members is busy studying the reports from the coroners and their own set of informers. They were all sitting around a table full of information that would eventually lead to Shima?s arrest.

Or at least, that?s what the Shima Task Force wants to attain.

?It seems the Katsugane group is in a quite of a fix,? said the other guy from across the table. He sipped his coffee while reading a report that just came in. His eyes suddenly bulged and nearly spat out a mouthful of coffee. ?OH SHI?take a look at this!?

He passed the paper around, and each of the members of the task force broke out in cold sweat. More than thirty kills in one night. No apparent survivors. There were only sounds of gunshots that came from one of the hotel?s suites that alerted the hotel staff and prompted them to investigate. They only saw the mangled bodies of their clients, no sign of Shima or any other possible suspect. All bore the signs of cruel torture along with Shima?s signature eyelid.

The victims were all known to be members or linked to organized crime networks in the city, and at least five of them are wanted by the police. No suspicious people were found around the hotel, no suspects and no witnesses. The room is still being processed by the crime scene operatives, but it is expected that no results pointing to Shima is forthcoming.

?How does this Shima does it? He kills around thirty people and gets away with not as much as a single witness. Killing that many people within a short time period, you?ve got to have at least some blood stains on you, right? Heck, this guy doesn?t even leave fingerprints or footprints. This guy?s like a ghost.?

The youngest of the task force, and the only female in the table, could only break out in a sarcastic laugh. ?This guy is no ghost; he?s like the angel of death.?

The head of the task force leaned back on his chair. ?Well, he?s an angel I?m determined to put behind bars.?


(Next: Chapter 3)



Anu Corner:
Well, that certainly took some time. It took one month just to write the draft. :/
Things are going to get darker soon. XD

Oh yeah, some stuff for clarification:
Katsugane and Edomae are families. In organized crime, they are groups that handle the control most crime activities in their respective territories.

A family is lead by the Family Head, a position inherited from parent to child. The Head commands the bosses which enforce the Head's rules in each of the cities handled by that group. The bosses split their command on the local leaders which handle the streets with their thugs.

The courier is just a thug while those who were killed by Shima are Captains, just to enumerate some examples. The one that the courier wants to meet is a Boss. The Boss answers to the Family Head and his council.

This hierarchy is fictional, done quickly by me with aid from some research about Yakuza's activities.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2011, 12:48:50 AM by Anunsew ng Sampaguita »

Re: Worldly Affairs of the Outside World (June 12 Update)
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2011, 05:42:02 AM »
There's a vigilante on the loose! Now I have to wonder what things may happen to Renko and Maribel in the future. Your exposition made me much more interested in the story.

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Re: Worldly Affairs of the Outside World (June 12 Update)
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2011, 09:12:54 AM »
Someone is replicating Kira! And doing a much better job at it too (by giving them such painful and torturous deaths) :ohdear:
Can't wait for the chapter 3. Wondering if Ren and Mari will be okay...
Madness?

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Worldly Affairs of the Outside World (July 9 Update)
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2011, 01:29:56 AM »
Chapter 3



?Mizuuya?? Renko asked with a puzzled voice.

 ?Where is Mizuuya?? the girl repeated. Her eyes flitted across the other three people in the room, widened due to both fear and curiousity.

?Can you tell us your name?? asked Rin in her gentlest voice.

?Name??? repeated the girl. She paused in a moment of hesitation. ??Mizuuya.?

?Mizuuya?is that your name?? asked Rin. A concerned look crossed her face. She frowned as a rumble of thoughts rolled in her mind, though the change in her demeanor was lost to both Renko and Maribel.

The girl nodded in answer and Rin wrote the name in her memo pad. ?Would you like something to eat?? Rin asked the girl. Mizuuya nodded again.

Rin pushed a button sticking out of the wall just above the bed. A few moments later, Meimu was in the room and was told to bring water and some soup.

Both Renko and Mary were ushered out by Rin, telling both to wait in the lobby. As the two walked out of the room without another word, they nearly bumped into Meimu who was carrying a tray with food and water for Mizuuya. They heard Rin say a few words to Meimu before she also left the room, leaving Meimu to tend to Mizuuya.

Moments later, Rin resumed her talk with the two university students in the lobby. Kiyuu was still in the lobby who regarded them with keen disinterest.

?I just realized that I haven?t asked both of your names,? began Rin with a warm smile. ?Can I ask your names??

?It?s okay, I guess,? said Renko. ?My name is Renko Usami and my friend here is Maribel Han??

?Maribel Han?? Rin interrupted before Renko could finish. ?The name seems familiar.? She glanced at Maribel who nodded in reply.

?Yes, I was rushed into your clinic sometime ago. I fell unconscious while I was walking down a nearby street,? explained Maribel. ?It happened a few weeks ago though. I thought you wouldn?t remember.?

?You lost consciousness?? asked Renko with a concerned look to her friend. ?You didn?t tell me anything about it.?

?Well, it was actually the time when you were out of town for a seminar,? Maribel explained. She absentmindedly put a finger on the side of her mouth, and cocked her head to one side as she struggled to dig up some memories. ?I was taking a walk here since I heard that there was somebody selling authentic antiques in this district. I was asking around for directions when I suddenly felt dizzy and lost my consciousness. I was already at this clinic when I recovered.?

Rin snapped her fingers. ?Heatstroke. I remember now. Your face was kind of familiar, and your name is quite uncommon,? said Rin. She nodded to herself as she confirmed her own thoughts.

?Anyway, about being Mizuuya?s temporary guardian, it?s not going to be anything demanding. I?ll just need some way to contact you?a phone number would do the job. I?ll just give you two a call about her welfare and when we?ve contacted her family,? Rin told them.

Renko mulled it over for a moment though Mary already made up her mind before Renko could even think it through. ?Sure,? Maribel told the doctor. ?I don?t mind. In fact, I?d rather know if and when you find her family.?

Shrugging as her friend made lead, Renko added, ?I?ll give my number as well. Mizuuya?is kind of our responsibility now, isn?t she??

As the two young women gave Rin their numbers, she told them, ?I?ll give a call to the police and ask about any news of a missing girl. I?ll call you two tomorrow if I ever dig up anything.?

And with that, Mary and Renko left the Satsuki Clinic with some gentle farewells from the kind doctor.

The late night is deepening even more.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


When the three members of the Shima Task Force arrived at the scene, the police had already processed most of the evidence. The whole floor was taped off, and the tenants were hounded away for questioning. The mangled, dismembered bodies were already wrapped for the morgue, while most of the items inside the hotel suite were already gleaned for possible evidence.

What was left was the generous amount blood splatter across the room, throughout the floor, and throughout the ceiling.

Kurein, the only female in the task force, was the only one who wasn?t queasy at the scene. A veteran investigator of serial murders despite her young age, she had seen enough murder and butchery than she?d care to recall. Nothing of course, that compared to this room?s butchery. Even with her experience, she wrinkled her nose when she entered the room.

The other members of the task force followed suit as they surveyed the butchery. An officer handed a report to Kurein and then proceeded to give the other members of the task force their own copies. The task members read the report as they started to process what?s left of the crime scene to scrape off more evidence that the preceding crime scene investigators may have missed.

?Looks like a bloodbath here,? said Kanto, their most senior member. With more than thirty-five active years in the force, he wasn?t someone you would expect in a serial murder case. He was just a few years from retirement, someone you?d certainly expect to be doing more desk jobs and office work. But Kurein knew that he?s much spryer than he looks, and his mind is a lot sharper than the young?uns (as he calls the younger officers). Kanto already had three grandkids, and his own children were already telling him to rest in retirement, though he would usually laugh it off.

?I can?t believe that this is a work of a single person,? Kanto continued. The report told them that the victims had firearms, all of them were sidearms and small guns. Some of them were fired, but no bullet holes or bullet cartridges were found on the scene, much to the puzzlement of the crime scene investigators.

?We don?t even know if it?s just a single person,? replied Kurein. ?Nobody?s ever seen Shima in action and lived to tell about it.?

?Then what about the ?Running Man??? asked Saburo. A much younger officer than Kanto, he was the second youngest officer in the group. Though he looked like a fresh rookie, he was sharp for details and usually spotted things that eluded his teammates.

?Hmm, the report did tell that some of the tenants heard screaming, followed by someone rushing towards the fire exit. The tenants who saw him are being interrogated by Mashida right now,? Kanto read from the report. ?Well, at least we have a lead of some sort.?

Kurein was squatting down, examining the various bloodstains on the floor, taking pictures for evidence. ?What?s bothering me is that Shima let somebody get away,? she told her comrades. ?This is the first time Shima attacked in a crowded area.?

?His violence is still at the same level, though he is becoming bolder in choosing his targets. He started with single victims, now he?s targeting them by the dozen,? Saburo added. ?From this much blood, I?d say he really likes using bladed weapons. From how he plays around with the bodies, and we?ve never come across a body he?d disposed whole?I?d say he is enjoying it.?

Nobody in the room doubted him.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


The courier was panting heavily when he delivered the message to his boss. No paper, no memo can outweigh the brevity of his words as he spoke. The boss, as he heard the words of doom from the courier, dug his face into his palms. He was speechless for a moment, but he managed to dismiss the courier without his voice breaking.

The boss was alone in his hotel suite. The hotel belonged to him, and he could have called for some company; women, drinks, or anything he wanted. But he didn?t need any of those now, most certainly not at this moment. The situation needed a clear mind to think through, and a clear strategy is called for.

How could this happen?

In the span of a few weeks, he not only lost the one of the most valuable treasures of his group?the Family heads will probably roast him alive for that?he also lost many of his captains to the hands of Shima.

Who?or what the heck is this guy?

To have the guts to challenge the Katsugane group, Shima was indeed a brave soul. But to have the guts to single-handedly kill?no, kill is too honorable?massacre all the captains in one room?how?

He recalled the courier?s report.

I was outside when I heard the shouting. In alarm, I disobeyed orders and unlocked the door. But the door was jammed, so I had to ram it with my shoulder until the door gave way. When it did, the first thing I saw was the mangled body of Captain Hikari by the door. I think I fell back on the floor in shock. That?s when I saw a hooded person standing in the middle of the room.

Oh damn, I would never want to remember that room again.

There was blood everywhere, and some of the captains were sprawled on the floor and groveling, Some of them were dead, and then some bodies were?no, I think I?m gonna be sick again?

Before I could do anything, the hooded figure saw me. He moved so fast that if I blinked, I would?ve thought that he suddenly appeared in front of me. He talked to me, but his voice was strange, like a chorus of many people. He told me to tell you that this:


?Katsugane and Edomae will burn.?


And then before I knew it, I was running away.


The boss stood up and approached the open window behind him. If he was a lesser man, he would?ve the mind to jump down and end his misery. But he knows the hole he has dug, and the eternity of damnation he had earned. Certainly, if he will die, then he?d make sure that the Shima bastard would burn with him.

But it?s not too late. The Edomae group is now also Shima?s target. Perhaps they would also wish to make an alliance against Shima?if everything goes well, of course.

The boss returned to his chair and started scheming. He buried his face on his palms again, and he started drawing out plans and contingencies within his mind. He did not move for many minutes. He sat so still that one might think he was suddenly stricken dead.

And then, an inspiration. He suddenly had an idea, but his face became sour as he thought of it. Certainly, he was desperate, but he was loath to call him in.

But he would be a perfect match for Shima. Someone as ruthless and as deadly.

But the boss wouldn?t send him just to target Shima just yet. He would need gold to buy his services, something that is lacking for the boss at the moment.

If only that damned Kintsuchi was here, I wouldn?t worry about the money, the boss thought.

The Kintsuchi, or more properly named as the Gold Hammer, was a treasure that was guarded by the Katsugane group for many generations. It was an artifact, a ?magical? artifact, which could turn any type of metal into pure gold. An alchemist?s dream; imagine turning a chunk of copper into solid 24K gold. It had been the secret of Katsugane?s rise in power in the underground. With an unlimited funds at their disposal, only a few can rival Katsugane?s power and influence.

Of course, a normal person would regard it as pure horseradish, but the boss had been the caretaker of the Kintsuchi for almost a decade. He?d seen it in action, and he was honored by the Katsugane Family Head to guard and maintain its secrecy from the public. Of course, other groups such as the Edomae group know of it through their numerous spies and underground intelligence networks, but they?re another matter.

The Edomae group asked permission to ?borrow? this Kintsuchi in exchange for their arms and soldiers to fight Shima. However, during the delivery, the Kintsuchi was stolen and all its guards were killed. The boss suspected treachery from the Edomae group, though all his spies within the group said otherwise. The Edomae group was also enraged by the theft, and vowed to take measures to find the thief.

Deep in his heart though, the boss knew who attacked the escort and took the treasure.

Shima.

He was the only one with enough gall to bump an elite group like the Katsugane, and provoke another group like the Edomae. And since Shima?s goal was apparently to cause damage to the Katsugane, the act of stealing their treasure fitted perfectly into his motives.

The only thing that bothered him was that no escort bore the mark of the Closed Eye, but the mangled remains of his guards said otherwise. All of the bodies were disposed by the Katsugane and Edomae, and numerous bribes and threats have been given out in order to cover-up the massacre.

The boss rose up from his reverie and grabbed the handset of a nearby phone. He needs help in tracking down the Kintsuchi, and he certainly knows who could do the job.

And when the Kintsuchi was retrieved, he?d have him eliminate Shima and send him to damnation to all eternity.

The boss chuckled when he heard the line click.

?Good evening,? said the voice at the other line.

The boss could barely suppress his excitement. ?I have a job for you,? he said through the phone in a gruffest voice that he could manage.


(next: Chapter 4)



★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Omake
Maribel Edition


Maribel Han here, though ?here? is not exactly a specific place at the moment.

Where am I? I can?t seem to find the street I?m supposed to go to?

I?m sorry, I didn?t mean to ignore you like that, it?s just that I?m kind of concerned that I might probably be lost. Or maybe more than probably.
I?m supposed to look for an antique shop here, it has been rumored that they sell authentic stuff. It has been a hangout of many relic collectors, but it also has been said that they rarely sell anything to just anybody.

For my part, I don?t really intend to buy anything; I just want to see if the rumors are true. Also, there might be some interesting items there, I would certainly like to know and see them.

However, it would seem that I?m a likely victim of a nurikabe. Goodness that it isn?t night, or in a middle of a forest, or I might really consider my earlier statement as a truth.

Anyway, I have been walking for hours in this district, asking for directions from the elderly people around. They all told me various ways to get to the antique shop, but so far, I always end up inside a dead-end alley. I walked out of the alley and started walking?somewhere. Who knows where I?m going?

Hmm, maybe it?s because the antique shop can disappear at will? Is it sensing my weary spirit, and considers me unworthy of its presence?

Oh dear, what should I do? I don?t have the luxury of attaining Nirvana at the moment. Hmm, maybe if I try some breathing exercises?

?♫~I walk a maze of moments, but everywhere I turn to begins a new beginning, but never finds a finish~♫??

I heard a girl?s voice singing from around the corner ahead of me, which I thought was strange, since every person I?ve seen since morning were the elderly.

?You know, you like singing weird songs, Wakana? another voice answered. This voice was rather high-pitched and bratty, compared to the melodic voice of the former.

The two girls were talking aloud, probably unmindful of their surroundings.

?It?s not weird,? the first voice, probably Wakana answered. ?I like these kinds of songs.?

When I stepped around the corner, I decided that I would ask them for directions. Hopefully, they?d give me clearer directio?

?Whatever you sa?OOF!~!?

Suddenly I felt something bump into me, and I felt my knees fold underneath me. I suddenly felt my consciousness fading like a dying candle.

The last thing I heard was the voice called Wakana saying a weird name.

?Kiyuu!?

And then I remember nothing more.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anu Corner:
As a point out to a mistake, the last Anu corner specified that the ones killed in the hotel were bosses. They are actually "Captains" or the area leaders commanded by a city boss. The said Anu corner has been edited for corrections.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2011, 12:49:35 AM by Anunsew ng Sampaguita »

Re: Worldly Affairs of the Outside World (July 9 Update)
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2011, 02:44:56 AM »
Yes, more hooks! Keep going, keep going!

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Worldly Affairs of the Outside World (July 26 Update)
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2011, 05:42:06 AM »
Chapter 4


[The Universe is governed by laws?something that is often mistakenly compared to the laws of our Physical Science. Abstractly speaking, the Universe can be more accurately compared to an organism. It is composed of its aggregates?the stars, the planets and the like?though they are often isolated by huge distances. However, if we look at the Universe as a whole, its aggregates aren?t isolated at all. Each of them is organized into their own part?systems, galaxies, and clusters?each of them follow an unspoken rule of the universe?the gravities and the orbits, for example.]

[However, our Universe is also an organism of Chaos. When its aggregate parts have outlived its natural cycle, they are thrown off the Order of the Universe?in which cases they are usually disposed with impressive catastrophic destruction, if not by dwindling into eternal silence.]

[For our case, the humans are an even smaller part of this Universal Order?but this does not excuse us from being exempted from it. Nay, just as Sun will eventually die?our race is fated to die from extinction. It?s just a matter of when and how?and both of these things are affected by our actions, and the will of the Universe.]


?It?s rare to see you writing, Renko,? said Maribel when she entered the clubroom the next day. She immediately pulled a seat and sat down beside the busy Renko.

?Don?t say that,? said Renko while she wrote. ?I always write proper essay papers for my classes.? She barely took her eyes off the white, unruled paper. Her forehead was dappled with drops of sweat, but Renko ignored them and concentrated on the work at hand.

?Did you get Dr. Satsuki?s message?? asked Mary. ?I?m going to pay a visit to Mizuuya after our club activities.?

Renko replied with a small grunt. ?I might follow you later, I?m kind of busy. This paper is due tomorrow?our professor had the wonderful idea of giving us only one day for a three page essay.?

?So, no activities today?? asked Maribel. She glanced at Renko?s serious and focused demeanor. It was a rare sight for Maribel to see Renko in such a state. Most often, Renko would be bouncing around the room whenever they have club activities.

?Unfortunately,? replied Renko. ?Academics still come first, you know. I do have an intention of graduating?? Renko ended her sentence with incoherent mumbling as she sank back to deep concentration.

Maribel sighed. Well, reality is harsh.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


When Maribel arrived at the clinic, the first thing she immediately noticed was the absence of patients. The lobby was empty except for Mizuuya who was having an energetic talk with Meimu. The receptionist desk was empty, and there was no sign of the snappy, little girl, Kiyuu.

Mizuuya stared at Mary as she approached. Meimu also saw her and greeted her warmly. ?Miss Satsuki is at her office, second door to the right. She told me that she was expecting you.? Mary only nodded in reply, and then caught Mizuuya?s stares.

Mizuuya stared at Mary intently and then opened her mouth slowly to speak. ??thank you for yesterday. Mizuuya is very grateful for your help,? she told Mary in a soft voice.

Maribel smiled. ?Don?t mention it. Do you feel alright now?? However, Mizuuya did not answer, and instead turned very red in the face. Maribel then realized that Mizuuya was kind of shy.

Mizuuya only answered with a slight nod, and Maribel excused herself. Maribel entered the hallway beside the receptionist desk and started to look for Rin?s office.

For the first time, Maribel noticed the extreme bareness of the clinic as a whole. Yesterday, she thought the clinic was a little unfurnished, but she now noticed that most of the clinic also followed the same bareness of decoration.

While the lobby itself was furnished by two sofas and a counter, there was a remarkable absence of any decorations in the rest of the clinic. The hallway was as bare as it could be?there were only three wooden doors in each side of the hall and another door at the end of the hallway. No vases, or flowers, or any d?cor that you?d usually find in a small clinic. However, Maribel is also surprised at the cleanliness of the clinic?the tiled floors were squeaky clean and no trace of dust could be seen. The walls were sparkling white.

The three doorways at the left of the hall were closed?probably locked. Maribel remembered that Mizuuya was taken into one of these rooms. Two of the three rooms at the right side were open. The first door opened into a small pantry where a small kettle was being boiled for hot water. The second room led into Rin?s office where Mary saw the young doctor immersed in a thick, hard-bound book. She sat on a swiveling chair behind her heavily-cluttered desk, and as Mary knocked at the open door, Rin looked up from behind the messy pile.

?Good afternoon, Miss Han,? said Rin warmly. She pointed to an empty chair in front of her desk. ?Feel free to take a seat. Tea is still being prepared though, I hope you don?t mind the wait.?

Maribel took the offered seat. Rin?s office was small, far smaller than Mary?s clubroom. Her office only had a single window, while the two other walls flanking Maribel were occupied by big shelves that were filled with books about human anatomy and medicine. Rin?s desk was stacked with notebooks. Some of them were open, and Maribel saw hurried scribbles in its pages. A fountain pen was perched precariously at the corner of the desk. It wasn?t a very organized office.

?Your friend isn?t with you today?? asked Rin. ?I mean, Miss Usami.?

Maribel shook her head and shrugged. ?She?s too busy with her academic papers. She told me that she might pay a visit to Mizuuya later.?

?Is that so?? Rin put down her book over her open notes and leaned back on her chair. ?I just wanted to talk about Mizuuya?s condition. I will be frank with you?she is a very special case.?

?Special case? Why? What?s wrong with her??

?Nothing?s wrong with her?it?s just that she has told me of some?disturbing things when I asked about her family,? said Rin. She took a deep breath before continuing. ?Apparently, Mizuuya has no family. She has never seen her father, and her mother was apparently killed some years ago.?

Maribel visibly blanched at the doctor?s frankness. Rin?s face was hard and it betrayed no emotion, and her eyes seem to be penetrating into Maribel?s thoughts. Their gazes locked and Maribel felt uneasy. Even so, Maribel told her to continue.

?She told me her story just this morning,? continued the young doctor. ?Frankly I?ve had some thoughts about withholding this information from you. But you are her guardian, so I?m giving you the benefit of the doubt. It?s up to you whether you want me to continue or not. I would?ve also offered this to your friend, but since she isn?t here, I?ll take it up with her later.?

Once again, their gazes locked and Maribel felt her uneasiness grow. The young doctor?s eyes seemed to observer her, as if they weren?t just reading Mary?s thoughts?it was as if they were also reading the deepest recesses of her soul.

?If you don?t want me to continue, I will not burden you with Mizuuya?s life. You can step away, now. If you refuse to hear her story and decide to back away, I will forget that you ever received a message from me to talk about Mizuuya. I will also forget you ever went in this clinic today. Afterwards, I will highly recommend that you don?t ever come into this clinic ever again.?

Rin paused, just to let her brevity of her words sink into Maribel. She leaned towards Mary and set her arms over her messy desk. ?However, once I tell you her story, I cannot guarantee anything?not her safety, nor yours. I can assure you, you will be dragged into a dark world you?ve never even began to imagine, and your life might turn into constant danger. You might not be able to see your family and friends, and your future might become blurred. If you agree to listen to what I want to say, you will have to agree never to speak of it with another person. Also, once you give your decision, it cannot be revoked?I will not give you another chance to change your mind.?

She paused once more before continuing, ?Think wisely, Miss Han. Your future will depend upon it.?

Coming to a complete stop, Rin leaned back on her chair and stared at the young student who was still absorbing everything she just said. She swiveled her cha around ir to face the window behind her. Past the glass panes of its white frame, the clouds hung lazily in the sky. Rin watched them silently as she waited for Maribel?s answer.

Maribel was silent for a full minute. She contemplated her decision, and weighed her position. She could back away now. Mizuuya was just a girl she found a night ago, a chance encounter that could?ve happened to anybody else. She can back away now, and she doesn?t have to bother with her ever again. Becoming a busybody will put her in danger, and Maribel has still many plans in her life. To finish her studies, learn more about the paranormal, and to see that hidden paradise: Gensokyo.

To put that on hold, perhaps forever, would be an unreasonable thing to do. She had her own life, and Mizuuya had her own. But Maribel could also remember Mizuuya lying unconscious, possible unspoken horrors just lurking within her. She also remembered the fearful glances Mizuuya gave her when she woke up the first time, who knows what frightening things she imagined in her mind?

More than that though, there is a mystery begging to be discovered, and it filled Mary with a strange excitement. It was the same feeling she felt when she first saw Gensokyo in her dreams, but now it?s something more real. A sense of adventure, and a dawning sense of something unnatural and unusual?this, this is what she wanted more than anything else.

?I would like to hear Mizuuya?s story, regardless of the danger.?


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


The young doctor turned her chair to face Maribel. She nodded once, and then continued her story. ?Mizuuya?s mother was murdered by a group called the Katsugane some years ago.?

?The Katsugane? Aren?t they kind of like the Yakuza or something??

?You?ve heard of the name before? Good. They?re a nasty lot. They?re an organized crime group that?s very infamous around here. Many of the elderly people here have been victims of their loan sharks, but I?ve also heard that they stoop to even lower acts like drug trafficking, human trafficking, and bribery. Their members have been wanted by the police for sometime, but they seem to always avoid arrest.?

Maribel could only manage to nod, and Rin continued Mizuuya?s story.

?Apparently, the Katsugane group was keeping Mizuuya as a prisoner for years. Mizuuya didn?t know why these Katsugane killed her mother, but they seemed to be intent on keeping her alive but under their supervision. She didn?t know why they kept her so, but there you are.?

The young university student was speechless as Rin continued the little girl?s story. ?Just recently, Mizuuya was supposed to be taken somewhere?Mizuuya didn?t know where?when this Emi appeared. Mizuuya was inside a metal box at that time, it was locked so she couldn?t run away. People from the Katsugane were transporting her box, shipping her like an animal. That?s when a person Emi showed up and helped Mizuuya escape.?

Rin looked at Maribel who seemed to be dazed. ?I don?t have to continue, Miss Han. I just want to impress how?special?her situation is.?

Recovering from her shock, Maribel managed to reply, ??how she talked yesterday. She always referred to herself in third person. Is that a result of a psychological trauma??

Shrugging, Rin shook her head. ?Probably, but psychology isn?t my specialty. I?m good at treating the body, but the mind is a different thing. Mizuuya had been running and hiding from the Katsugane for two days. She hadn?t eaten and hadn?t slept in a proper place at least since then. She probably collapsed from hunger and exhaustion when you found her on the bank yesterday. She was very lucky to be found by you.?

?So now what do we do? Do we call the police?? asked Maribel.

Rin shook her head again. ?It?s better not to do anything else for now. Mizuuya is still getting her strength back, so she is still going to stay for the clinic for some days. And there?s something else that bothers me??

?The Katsugane??

?Right. If the Katsugane group is looking for Mizuuya, they?ll expect that she?ll turn up through the common channels like the police, social welfare, or the media. They may have some people lurking around, searching for her. At least she?s safe in this clinic?nobody knows anything about her except for you and your friend, and us three in the clinic.?

Maribel leaned back on her chair, digesting everything she just heard. ?So this Emi person, what happened to him??

?Emi is a she according to Mizuuya?s accounts. She appeared during the time Mizuuya was being transported in her box. She then killed everybody except for Mizuuya. She just opened Mizuuya?s lock, introduced herself, and then told her to run away or she?ll kill her too. That?s how Mizuuya escaped. Mizuuya didn?t remember anything else?Emi was wearing a hooded cloak which hid her face and Mizuuya only remembered her voice?that?s why she guessed that Emi was a female.?

?So Mizuuya was also a witness to a massacre??

?Yes,? replied Rin, not waiting for Maribel to finish. Suddenly, her voice became full of compassion and warmth. ?She?s been through a lot, Miss Han. But Mizuuya is a strong girl, and we?re determined to treat her the best way we could?the Satsuki way.?

Maribel sank back to her thoughts, digesting what she just heard. She was shivering, both with anticipation and fear. ?So what now? What do we do with her??

?As I told you, I can?t contact any public channel without endangering everyone who knows her secret. You must also promise never to tell anybody else about what I just told you. Not even your friend Usami?unless she also agrees like you just did. Only four of us knows the secret?you, me, and my two faithful attendants.?

?Meimu and Kiyuu?? recalled Maribel.

Rin nodded. ?For now, Mizuuya will be under our care. We will provide for her basic needs. You are free to visit her as often as you like. However, I will also advise you to be very careful. If you suspect something out of the ordinary?anything?tell it to me at once. You know my number, right? Good. I?m always available in this clinic?unless of course, something really bad happens. If that?s the case, I?ll give you a call first, and of what to do.?

Maribel was trembling, but she tried her best to hide it. ?You seem to be always anticipating the worse case scenarios,? she told Rin in a shaky voice.

?You have no idea, Miss Han,? said Rin. ?But I have ample experience when dealing with the likes of the Katsugane. I?m already endangering your life by involving you in this,? To Maribel?s surprise, Rin?s face broke into a sly grin. ?Don?t worry Miss Han, if they touch you, I?ll do everything in my power to protect you?and Mizuuya.?


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


?So, you got the latest edition of ?A??? asked the young girl.

?Of course,? replied Kiyuu. ?I?m always updated. I?ve acquired the latest releases of the Purple Beansprout doujinshi as well. They?re quite hard to find these days, but there are many selling collectors in forum boards in the Internet. Although they?re much more expensive, it sure beats waiting in line for three hours in Comiket. And I hate crowds too??

The two girls were walking side-by-side in a busy district of the city. Kiyuu glanced at the shops as they passed by. Some of the owners are already preparing to close for the day. Kiyuu wasn?t interested with the wares of the local groceries and commodities?she looked at them due to pure curiousity.

?So where are we going now?? asked Kiyuu?s companion. She was around Kiyuu?s age, but much taller?although she is just of average height for her age, much to Kiyuu?s chagrin. Wakana is Kiyuu?s classmate and her best friend, though Wakana always jokes about being Kiyuu?s only friend?because it?s true.

Both of them were wearing their school uniform, the only proof that Kiyuu was not an elementary kid. For the most part, they were dressed exactly alike, except for Kiyuu?s very ornate ribbons and gloves. While they made her stand out, she always wore them everyday. Aside from that, the two friends looked the total opposite of each other. Wakana?s energetic personality was in stark contrast to Kiyuu?s testiness, and there?s the height difference as well.

?Tut-tut. You?re so impatient Wakana,? replied Kiyuu in a sly tone. ?You should know by now that being an enthusiast is all about patience in finding the right place, to get the right stuff.?

As Kiyuu spoke, they turned towards a deserted alley beside a closed barber shop. The alley was empty, flanked by two high walls and poorly lit. At the end of the alley was a small structure that looked an old, wooden warehouse. Kiyuu entered the alley, and Wakana followed suit.

They stopped in front of an old wooden door marking the entrance of the building. On the door was an engraving of a grotesque face that resembled a tengu?s mask. Its mouth was ?biting? on a rusty knocker, which Kiyuu used to rap the door three times. She was answered by an audible creaking which echoed through the empty alley.

?Er?okay, this looks very weird,? observed Wakana. ?Are you sure that this is the right place??

?Of course,? said Kiyuu. ?All the good stuff can be found in the weirdest of places. They?re hard to find, but it?s worth it.? The creaking stopped, and was prompted by a loud click. The door slid open through the use of an unknown mechanism?there was nobody behind the door.

Behind the door was a dimly lit antique store. It was filled with various things, like weird wooden masks, ornate clay pots, and wooden statuettes. They all looked genuinely antique, and generally not what you?d find in an ordinary shop. The wares were neatly organized in numerous shelves which filled the room. At the back was a small wooden counter where a pale girl stood by.

??an antique store?? asked Wakana. Curiously, she approached a nearby shelf where a small trinket caught her interest. It was a small face mirror encrusted within a golden frame. However, Wakana noticed that the mirror was jet black and did not reflect anything at all. Wakana was about to reach for it when a quiet voice startled her.

?Don?t touch,? said the pale girl in a soft voice. She was standing beside Wakana who nearly screamed in fright. Wakana did not hear or see her approach, and she was nearly scared out of her wits. The girl?s paleness did not help either?the dim lights made her light complexion even more ghostly, and her soft voice complemented her physical appearance of a wandering spirit. She also wore an old-fashioned kimono, which she carried with utmost grace.

?That mirror is cursed. If you look into it, the mirror will suck out all your good luck for a month,? she told Wakana with her characteristic soft voice.

Kiyuu glanced at the two. ?You shouldn?t display such dangerous things, Akari. Why are you even selling these??

The pale girl threw a glance at the little girl and laughed softly. ?Father tells me that we should still keep the antique store. It?s a family business, you know.?

Looking at her two companions nervously, Wakana managed an uneasy laugh. ?For a moment there, I thought you were a multo,? she told Akari.

?Don?t be stupid, ghosts are dead. Akari is pretty alive, you know,? said Kiyuu. Turning to Akari, Kiyuu told her what they want. ?Anyway, we?re here for the good stuff. I heard you have new deliveries.?

?Hmm~? said Akari in amusement. ?Follow me, the stuff is upstairs.?


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


In stark contrast to the dark antique shop downstairs, the second floor was brightly lighted by fluorescent lights. The room was filled with bookshelves of obscure manga and doujinshi, and Kiyuu almost squealed in delight as she disappeared between shelves. Wakana was dumbstruck at the sight; each shelf for her was equal to a treasure trove.

?Pambihira?to think that a place like this could exist?? mumbled Wakana. She approached a nearby bookshelf and nearly burst out in happiness. ?Detective Girl Rin: First Issue! This stuff can?t be seen in manga stores today, how did you get a hold of this stuff??

Akari laughed softly. ?I?ve been collecting this stuff for a long time; some of them are quite rare. I have even more stuff at the basement, but I only bring them out by request. I have a figurine collection as well, but they aren?t displayed to maintain them in perfect condition. We have other stuff like bookmarkers and keychains?as well as branded clothing.?

?Really?? asked Wakana, her excitement rising. Both Wakana and Kiyuu are enthusiasts of manga and other works. Kiyuu is a hardcore collector, even going as far as checking out obscure places for copies of obsolete work. Wakana isn?t as hardcore as Kiyuu, but share her general enthusiasm in checking out new stuff. ?So you have more stuff like these?? continued Wakana.

?Hey, do you have a copy of Nakagawa?s new release?? Kiyuu?s voice shot through the maze of shelves. ?I?m also looking for some stuff from AM. I?m itching for retro-stuff recently.?

?Coming,? said Akari. Immediately, Kiyuu launched into a short speech about the strengths and weaknesses of various doujin circles, and Akari would often counter with some of her own. Wakana was left alone in the ?Mystery Corner?, looking through the names of mystery novels and manga?some of which she just knew through rumors, and some that she did not even know existed.

After spending a good part of an hour or so, Kiyuu and Wakana went down the wooden stairs of the shop carrying a couple of books and other stuff. Kiyuu also bought a bunch of doujin game CDs, packed neatly inside ?jewel cases?, much to Wakana?s amusement.

?You have weird tastes,? Wakana pointed out. Kiyuu ignored her as she was too busy carrying her stuff, a neat pile on her arms that were almost half her size.

When they arrived at the counter downstairs, Akari wrote a receipt and the two girls paid up. As Akari packed their things, she talked to Kiyuu in a casual manner.

?So, how?s the stuff going at the clinic?? asked Akari. ?Anything new going on??

?Nothing much,? said Kiyuu coolly. ?Just the same old stuff.?

Akari nodded. ??I see,? she answered softly.

?Rin wants a delivery of the old stuff,? said Kiyuu. ?Though you can send it anytime you want.?

?What kind does the doctor want?? Akari finished packing all their stuff in two separate paper bags.

Kiyuu shrugged. ?Preferably ones that don?t break easily.?

Wakana was lost in the exchange between Kiyuu and Akari. ?I didn?t know that the Miss Rin is acquainted with this place too,? said Wakana. ?So she likes antique stuff??

Laughing, Akari waved them off. ?Oh no, half of the stuff Kiyuu just bought is for Miss Satsuki.?


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


?Er?so the doctor is an enthusiast too?? asked Wakana as they walked towards the train station. Kiyuu only shrugged in reply.

?Eh?she?s hardcore too. You should?ve seen her in the last summer convention. She had me and Mei dress up as shrine maidens. It was really uncomfortable to wear, Rin made the costume from heavy textile cloths.?

?Cosplaying too, huh,? said Wakana wistfully. ?I?d never go that far.?

Kiyuu shrugged again, but said nothing. They arrived at the train station, and the two girls parted ways. They lived quite far apart, and they had to ride on different trains. Wakana took an outbound train, and Kiyuu was left alone to wait for hers. Kiyuu glanced at the deepening night sky and sighed.

Earlier in the morning, she was present as Mizuuya told them her dumbfounding testimony. Since then, Kiyuu became troubled, both for the safety of the clinic, and for the safety of her family.

Kiyuu became an orphan when she was young. She spent a good amount of time in an orphanage, though her memories of it were something she would like to forget. When the orphanage burned down because of faulty electrical wiring, she nearly died and was only saved by the good grace of Rin Satsuki. Since then, she had been living with the young doctor ever since. A cold, cynical girl, she was in stark contrast to most girls of her age. Meimu often remarked about it, and often told Kiyuu that her coldness was the reason why she had no other friends besides Wakana.

Unlike Kiyuu, Meimu was an abandoned child. Her parents left her in the mountains when she was a baby and was found by an old turnip farmer who lived alone. There she was raised by the farmer until a strong typhoon hit the mountains and destroyed their home. Meimu was separated during the ensuing flood, and was found by Rin and Kiyuu wandering alone, hungry and cold, in the mountains. She was nursed back to health by the two, and helped her find the farmer who took care of her. Unfortunately, the house was utterly destroyed, and they never found the old farmer. Since then, Mei had been living with Rin as faithful helper and housekeeper?both activities that Kiyuu was certainly not fond of. Unlike the cool Kiyuu, Meimu is warm and helpful, and easily one of the most popular girls in their school. Meimu is older than Kiyuu by a few years, but circumstances often forces Kiyuu to chase off Meimu?s admirers?especially when Meimu is besieged by love letters, and occasionally, stalkers.

The two of them, Kiyuu and Mei, became as close as real sisters. Both of the treated Rin like a real mother, and a best friend. They were a little family?although they were certainly not the most normal one you would find.

Kiyuu sighed. She thought of the dangers that Mizuuya will bring, and the fact that Rin would do everything in her power to protect the little girl. However, Kiyuu has enough trust in Rin?she knows that Rin can protect them from anything. However, Kiyuu is suspicious of the two university students that brought Mizuuya into their care.

Maribel Han and Renko Usami. Kiyuu was more concerned about the one named Maribel Han?she is trouble, Kiyuu thought. Though she can?t point it out, there was a certain aura of supernatural that enveloped Maribel, and Kiyuu is uneasy in her presence. She didn?t show it of course, Kiyuu is a master of facades, and it was a simple matter to look uninterested while Maribel was at the clinic.

Still, her suspicion is still unfounded so far. Kiyuu knew that Rin would give the two girls their choice. As far as Kiyuu is concerned, Kiyuu would rather have nothing to do with Han and Usami. However, if circumstances force them into Rin?s care?

?Hey! You?re Kiyuu, right??

Kiyuu was suddenly startled out of her thoughts when she heard someone call her by her name. Looking around, she saw the weird girl with a bowl hat approach her?Renko Usami.

?Oh, you?re the nosy girl from yesterday,? Kiyuu replied. She recalled Renko?s inquisitiveness about Rin. ?Fancy meeting you here.?

Renko was about to scowl, but held herself in check. Kiyuu?s cool demeanor almost made Renko forgot that they weren?t even acquaintances yet. The train arrived, and the two of them boarded the same car. The train was nearly empty, and Kiyuu took a seat near the train entrance. Renko followed and sat beside her.

?So, you?re not with the other weird girl today?? asked Kiyuu coolly. Unlike with Maribel, Kiyuu feels alright with Renko. She doesn?t give off the same vibes like Maribel?Kiyuu just thinks that Renko is weird for hanging out with someone like Mary. ?Are you on your way to the clinic??

Renko chose ignore the rude remarks from Kiyuu. ?Mary went ahead of me, since I had some stuff to do. I?m on my way to the clinic now.?

?Is that so?? replied Kiyuu. ?University students often have a lot of stuff to do.?

Shrugging, Renko only answered, ?Well, middle schoolers have a lot of time in their hands compared to university students.?

Kiyuu frowned at being referred as a middle schooler. ?I?m in high school.? Well, Kiyuu thought, at least it?s an upgrade from being called an elementary school kid.

?Oh, sorry. I just assumed?? Renko started to apologize, but Kiyuu cut her off.

?Don?t assume until you?ve got your facts straight,? Kiyuu scowled. With that, the conversation came to a screeching halt. They spoke no more until they arrived at the next station.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Pachin-do. The way of the coin. When you flip a coin, there is only a binary choice. Either you guess it right, or you guess it wrong. A perfect 50-50 chance.

?So, which of you bastards feel lucky today?? Takino told his opponents. He smirked, and his opponents felt their blood run cold. He held the coin inside his fist, waving it around like a maniac.

His opponents, numbering around a dozen, were pointing their guns at him, but were all afraid to shoot. Takino, on the other hand, was armed only with a single gold coin. A normal bystander would think the situation as a grave matter for the fool named Takino, but this is not a normal situation at all.

A single coin toss will dictate whether somebody would live or die. Takino? No, he?ll live no matter what the chances are. The toss was for his opponents.

?You know the rules?heads and you?ll lose yours. Tails and you go free.?

Takino opened his fist, and he grinned from ear to ear. Then he laughed like a maniac filled with an ecstatic frenzy. ?HEADS!?

One of his opponents suddenly felt blood trickle through his nose. Then his vision turned red. Next thing he knows, he was on the floor, gurgling in his own blood. One by one, his opponents bled from the inside, dying like miserable dogs. One had the temerity to fire at Takino before he fell to the ground, but the bullet missed, and he died without the satisfaction of vengeance.

Seeing that all of his opponents were dead, he leaned on the wall beside him. Takino took out a cigarette and his lighter. Moments later, he was puffing out smoke rings. He pocketed his gold coin and took out an ornate lighter and lit his cigarette. He took a few puffs before walking away.

?Well, that was pathetic,? said Takino to no one in particular. The police will probably find the bodies later, but Takino wasn?t too concerned.

Takino is a well-known hitman?a professional assassin by trade. He was known for his accuracy, efficiency, and flair for spreading terror in his targets. He was often employed by various people, but recently, he has been hired by the Katsugane group. The mission was simple enough?he was to locate and retrieve the thing called Kintsuchi from an unknown person or group.

He got the call from last night, and he had been hard at work since then. He knocked on the doors of various informants, but he got little information that he needed. He then ruffled up the feathers of some local groups, which resulted in an attempt to kill him for being too nosy. He just disposed of the third group sent to kill him.

So far, he didn?t have much leads about the Kintsuchi. An artifact that can turn anything into gold, supposed to be turned over to the Edomae, intercepted by an unknown person (suspected to be Shima), and haven?t been seen ever since.

If Takino had half the sanity of a normal person, he?d have given up already. But the Katsugane boss offered him a hefty price, and that?s something Takino cannot ignore. He took out a photograph from his coat pocket, and looked at the picture of the Kintsuchi.

?Heck, who knew an artifact could look so cute?? Takino mused. He puffed at his cigarette a few more times and then dropped it on the ground. When the light of the cigarette vanished, Takino melded into the darkness and vanished from the eyes of men.

(next: Chapter 5)




Anu Corner:
I..uh...posted a chapter that was longer than expected.

Anyway, as a recap, I'll be posting the character profiles here for reference.

冴月小児科医院
Satsuki Pediatric Clinic

冴月麟
Rin Satsuki

Occupation: Doctor

Ah, our well known kirin that got cut in EoSD. In this story, she's now a doctor in the city (probably in Kyoto, but that's a rough guess). A pediatrician that also excels in almost every aspect of medicine, she runs a small clinic in an elderly district of the city. Though it's ironic, most of their patients are old people who are suffering from athritis. Rin still treats them though, and never charges them a dime...or yen. Whichever works.

Despite having a clinic of her own, Rin would often travel around the country and treat people in need of medical attention for free. Kiyuu and Meimu would always accompany her, as a result, the two young girls have a good knowledge of Japanese geography.

She's also a hard-core otaku, and loves cosplay. Often dresses Meimu and Kiyuu with various costumes and ushers them into participating in anime conventions. Has a large hidden collection of sentai figurines, along with classic kaiju figurines like Godzilla, Mothra, and Destroyah. Only Kiyuu knows where they are hidden.

Also an avid follower of live-action series, and has a penchant for martial arts films. Idolizes Stephen Chow.

Now where does her resources for her hobby come from, I wonder?


博丽冥夢
Meimu Hakurei

Occupation: Doctor's assistant/Student

A well-known OC whose birth  was propagated by Reimu losing in a now-forgotten popularity contest--but I don't care about that.
In this story she is Rin's faithful assistant in all the affairs of the clinic. Quite the hardworker (*coughnotlikereimucough*) and very perceptive about other people, though I haven't given her any chance to show her character yet. Very famous for her tea, a drop of her brew will bring you to Nirvana (so they say). Maybe people in the outside exaggerate too much.

She goes to the same school as Kiyuu, and very popular. Often receives love letters from admirers and stalkers, but you didn't hear that from me.

She was found abandoned by a turnip farmer in the mountains when she was still an infant (if you get the pun, kudos to you). There she was raised by an old man who taught her the ways of the world. The farmer got Meimu's name from the embroidered kanji in her baby cloth when he found her. From then on, Meimu grew up to become a hard worker in the farm until a catastrophe struck and destroyed her home and seperated her from the old man. Rin and Kiyuu rescued her, and helped her find the old man. However, the farmer's house and farm was utterly destroyed, and there was no trace of the farmer. In Meimu's grief, Rin took Meimu into her care, and became Kiyuu's surrogate sister.

She doesn't share Rin and Kiyuu's hobbies, but she often likes watching martial arts films in her free time. Also likes soap dramas, but she only watches them when Rin and Kiyuu aren't around.

As for her surname, I shall leave it to your speculations why it's like that. I'll probably reveal it later though, but I might get lazy.


映実希由
Kiyuu Eimi

Occupation: Otaku/Doctor's Assistant/Student

Finally, a real OC. A (very) short girl with a sharp tongue, the well-known "thorn" of the Satsuki clinic.  An orphan at a young age, she was saved by Rin in a burning orphanage when she was young. Rin would often travel around the country, and she brings Kiyuu with her. A bookish person by nature, Kiyuu has great love for printed works like books and manga--though her interests were heavily influenced by Rin.

Often rude, sometimes cool and cynical, she only speaks normally to Meimu and Kiyuu. Doesn't have any other friends besides her classmate, Wakana, who is also an otaku like her. Contrary to Meimu, Kiyuu is quite unpopular and people in her school generally avoid her and her icy attitude. Also dubbed the Ice Guardian, after shoving a broomstick up the bottom of one of Meimu's stalkers who was harrasing her sister. Her height is something you shouldn't laugh at as well, she is known to harbor grudges for a long time.

Very protective of Meimu and Rin, she suffers no abuse against these two important people in her life. However, she is also a recluse and hates taking social trips, unless her hobby is involved.

Oh yeah, she's also a fan of sumo wrestling, especially the yokozuna. But she never tells anybody about it.



That concludes the profile of the weird family members of the Satsuki household.  Of course, the profile is incomplete, and there's gonna be a lot of changes as the story goes on--but enough about that. Next chapter, I'll introduce Mizuuya, Wakana and Takino's profiles~

DISCLAIMER:
Anunsew does not know Japanese, or anything much about the Japanese culture for that matter. Anunsew is a stark, raving lunatic, and as such, the tales woven by him is not to be trusted. If you are a witness to Anunsew's ravings, and have lost valuable amounts of time listening and/or believing him, please feel free to bind him up with duct tape, and ship him off to the nearest recycling center for processing. However, Anunsew is not liable for any lost time and/or productivity due to your belief in his tales.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2011, 12:50:04 AM by Anunsew ng Sampaguita »

Anunsew

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Worldly Affairs of the Outside World Chapter 5! (August 04 Update)
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2011, 02:10:04 AM »
Chapter 5


“We’re to arrive at the next station at 6:00 pm,” said an electronic voice. The train doors closed with an audible whirring sound. "Please maintain inside the train at all times during the transport."

“I wonder if this train is haunted.” Renko asked absentmindedly at Kiyuu. The train didn’t pick up any passengers in the last station, and they were the only occupants of their train car. Renko remembered stories about trains being haunted, and she wondered if this train was one of those in stories. The stories always warned about riding in empty trains, because those trains usually are possessed by evil spirits, ready to whisk away its unwary passengers into a horrible nightmare.

Kiyuu ignored her, which Renko deemed as usual. People don’t usually answer questions about trains being haunted in a serious manner. Renko’s hobby has always been about discovering the paranormal, and to know and prove the existence of other worlds is her ultimate dream. Unfortunately, her beliefs deviated from most of the people in the university, and so far, only Maribel had been the only person to go through with Renko’s antics.

Renko had already tried ghost-watching, alien-hunting, spirit-summoning…as a matter of fact, the Ghostly Field Club is officially an occult club, though it had rather become rather unpopular in their university for being involved in a handful of minor mischief. However, what really sets Renko apart is the fact that she can always tell where she is and what time it is, as long as she can see the sky. She’s like a human GPS, and even Maribel can’t explain how and why Renko’s intuition was always so accurate.

“It’s just past six, and the sky is dark already,” Renko sighed to herself, throwing a glance at the dark sky. The next station was their stop, and Renko was about to get up and prepare to leave when she noticed that Kiyuu had left her seat. She was standing in the middle of their train car, looking around the seats and windows.

“Hmm, now this is annoying,” Kiyuu mumbled under her breath. ”I knew I shouldn’t have gotten on this train.” She continued to look around, pacing to and fro across the car and mumbling to herself.

Puzzled by the girl’s strange behavior, Renko was about to ask what’s the matter when Kiyuu blurted out in a rude tone, “Hey, hat-girl, do you know what time it is?” Kiyuu was knocking on the windows with her small knuckles, making a noisy ruckus.

“What are you doing?” asked Renko, finally losing her cool with Kiyuu’s rudeness. She stood up and started to approach the girl. “You’re acting like an idiot—“

“You’re the one who’s an idiot,” interrupted Kiyuu crossly. Turning away from the windows, she faced Renko and stared at her in an accusing manner. “I asked for the time, and you didn’t answer.”

Renko was put off by her attitude, and she glanced briefly at the sky outside their car. “It’s just about 6:05 pm,” said Renko. Kiyuu visibly blanched when she heard her. “Why?”

“Haven’t you noticed anything strange?” said Kiyuu in a half-whisper. “I thought normal humans are stupid, but NOT this stupid.”

She was about to reprimand the girl when Renko noticed something different. The train was moving fast, but they haven’t even arrived at the station yet. In fact, they should have arrived at the next station five minutes ago. Renko looked at the windows and saw nothing strange, as far as she is concerned. The train was visibly moving. Only, they can’t seem to arrive at the next station. There was no electronic voice telling them that they are about to arrive in the next station, and Renko noticed that they slowed at all since their last stop.

“I should’ve known,” Kiyuu sighed. She settled on a nearby seat and seemed to be deep in thought, ignoring Renko who was visibly shaking.

Shaking with excitement, Renko could hardly restrain herself. A real, first-hand haunting! Wait until she tells Renko about this! She’d heard of trains being possessed by evil spirits before, whisking away unwary humans into oblivion, never to be heard of again.

Of course, Renko wasn’t too concerned about being whisked away into oblivion, rather she was exhilarated that she was in an experience that no normal human could ever imagine. She was glued to the windows, looking as the scenery passed by.

“A few seconds after 6:06 pm, we’re gonna be toast,” said Kiyuu aloud mostly for Renko’s benefit. “Just my luck.”

Renko was about to ask her what’s about to happen when she realized that the time was already 6:06 pm. Precisely speaking, the time was 6:06:05 pm, or rather, five seconds after 6:06 in the afternoon.

A second later, the train began to rumble and shake. Renko was thrown off-balance and landed on her bottom on the train floor.

“Come on, newbie,” said Kiyuu, She stood and easily retained her balance despite the train’s shaking. She offered her Renko a helping hand. “I don’t want to be a main course meal for a locomotive,” she said impatiently.

Renko took the offered hand awkwardly. “What’s happening?” she asked the little girl, barely hiding her excitement. She was breathing hard, adrenaline pumping in her bloodstream. The train was still shaking, and the two of them propped themselves on the seats to avoid losing their balance.

“Hmm, we’re about to get eaten by Ayakashi Express Liner No. 666,” said Kiyuu with a very straight face. Happens all the time, nothing to get worked about.

“She usually doesn’t eat humans, but we climbed inside during her dinner time,” Kiyuu continued.

“An Ayakashi Express?” asked Renko. Though she heard of possessed trains, she didn’t know about them having specific names. And Kiyuu called the train a ‘she’! Lots of peculiarities were happening all at once, and Renko could hardly keep up. “Wait until I tell Maribel about this—she’s been smug about seeing Gensokyo in her dreams, this story is gonna set the score even.”

Kiyuu glared at the overexcited girl for a moment, before letting out a big scowl. “You’re not gonna tell anyone ‘anything’ if you become a Renko souffl?. Now come on.” With strength that Renko did not expect from someone so little, Kiyuu grabbed her with her gloved hand. She latched onto Renko’s arm and started marching towards the back of the train. The train’s rumbling became more regular, like it was beating or pulsating.

“Oh yeah, here comes the good part,” Kiyuu said aloud, glancing at the train’s ceiling briefly. Suddenly, the train gave out a one big heave, and the two of them were nearly thrown onto the floor. The train’s interior suddenly changed before their eyes. The clean white interior of the train was transformed into a hideous fleshy substance while the seats sunk into the walls of the train, leaving the train’s interior looking like an—

“Welcome to the intestine,” Kiyuu announced in a matter-of-factly manner. “Well, I guess it’s a good thing we did not sit near front of the train.” She said the last in a humorous tone, but the humor was lost on her companion.

The train’s interior did look like an intestine, or at least how a normal person would imagine it. The fleshy pink walls now covered the whole interior, and it looked like they were inside the innards of a giant man-eating monster. However, there were regular gaps at the sides of the fleshy tunnel, and the windows were still visible.

Kiyuu could see an easy escape to the outside…along with the fact that they’re traveling at nearly ninety miles per hour. Any escape out of the train at those speeds was dangerous and suicidal.

“This is the colon of a ghost train?” said Renko in an incredulous tone. She looked around, and suddenly noticed that the walls were now emitting a slimy yellow liquid. A noxious odor assailed her nostrils, and she nearly sneezed. “Hey, are we going to get digested?”

Kiyuu snorted derisively. Weird college students and their ideas, Kiyuu thought, what a load of... “Oh no, the train is gonna invite us from some cake and tea. Also, this isn’t a ghost train,” she sneered at Renko.  “I can’t imagine how you got past high school without that basic knowledge in biology, or the basic difference between a living and non-living organism. If this train was a ghost, what business does it have to need an intestine?”

Renko decided to ignore Kiyuu’s snide remarks. “Anyway, how do you suppose we get out of here? And what is that smell?” The bad odor became stronger and Renko covered her nose with her free hand. Kiyuu was still firmly holding her other arm.

“I don’t know about the smell, though I suppose we can get out through the old-fashioned way,” said Kiyuu. “We can always go out through the back of the train.” Kiyuu sniggered at the thought. “Get my idea?”

“Ah, just like in an ordinary human digestive—“ Renko paused as the thought sank in. Then she suddenly felt weak, and her face turned slightly green. “No way. Uh-uh.” She almost puked at the thought of going out of the train like fecal matter, but Renko believed she was nauseous because of that terrific odor.

Kiyuu shrugged. “I was just saying. On the bright side though, that option will lead us to jumping off the Ayakashi Express at say…a hundred miles an hour—judging by how fast this train is going.”

Renko was wondering at Kiyuu’s regard for jumping off a train at breakneck speed as a ‘bright side’. But who cares? They were about to be digested by a train!

This is awesome! Renko avoided spilling her guts when the train suddenly took a sharp curve, and she was torn between excitement and nausea.

The train’s fleshy walls began to ripple, and Kiyuu tugged at Renko. “Let’s go. I know another way,” said Kiyuu. She dragged Renko who was still a bit green, but rather enjoying the adventure.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Takino knew that there was no way he’d find the Kintsuchi by himself. He was a hitter. An icer. Not a stone-cold killer, but the stone-cold killer. He was the best one in the block, and can do it with just a flip of a coin. He had a 100% success rate, and never let any of his clients down—though there were many cases of collateral damages, but that’s not his problem. You’re supposed to tremble at his presence, and all his clients admired and feared him.

He wasn’t suited for this kind of job. Slinking around the wiry streets and alleys, passing through the hobos and winos, ignoring their pleas for some spare change—this ain’t his style, dammit! Kurohito should’ve have gotten a bloodhound for all it mattered, not him! Takino took a look again at the photograph of the Kintsuchi on his hand, the only clue he had about its existence.

So far, his day wasn’t very productive. He cursed Kurohito, the Katsugane boss in the locality, and the one who phoned him last night. He wanted a job done, and wanted to have it done quick. No problem about collateral damages and such, Kurohito only wanted the Kintsuchi at his hands by the end of the week. The only clue he could give was the Kintsuchi’s physical appearance, and last known location.

Of course, the first place that Takino checked was the road leading into a tunnel at the southern part of the city. The place was dark, and the street lamps were busted—just how the local gangs like it. The road was flanked by steep inclines, one leading upward into the city complex, and the other leading downward into a nearby river floodplain. There was plenty of room for forty people, and the darkness made it easy to work undisturbed.

S~t, thought Takino, no wonder the escorts were easily ambushed and killed. I could’ve done it without breaking a sweat.

If someone stole the Kintsuchi, Takino thought that the most obvious way the escapees would take was the decline towards the river below. However, the river was quite long, running through many parts in the city—they would have been able to get off the riverbank at any point, shaking off any scent.

With this knowledge, Takino sought the knowledge of various informants in the area. These informants worked for various gangs, doing their share of information gathering for the highest bidder. However, to Takino’s expectations, they offered little help in the matter. They’ve never seen anybody running or acting suspiciously recently—except for Takino, of course. Takino had a keen disdain for informants.

Takino rang the doorbell of the house. The house was neat, with a nice little garden behind the front gates. The house was painted white, and the roof was painted blue. There was a balcony at the second floor, facing the front gate. It’s the typical residential home of an honest, industrious citizen.

A feminine voice answered through the radio above the doorbell. “Who’s there?”

“It’s me,” Takino said to the radio, trying not to sound too despondent. “I need some help.”

The door promptly opened, and a woman in her late twenties greeted him. She held a lit cigarette on her left hand, and blew a generous puff at Takino’s face. “Nice to see you again, freak,” she said coldly. “I didn’t expect to see you again.” She said that with a tone that told Takino that she meant it.

“Don’t be like that, Maya,” Takino told her, trying to put warmth in her cold-blooded demeanor. “I have some work for you. Something that pays.”

Maya scoffed at his pretentious attitude. “Just drop it, and tell me what you want,” she told Takino in a stern voice. She glared at him with sharp black eyes, and Takino felt like they were drilling into his soul—if he still had one.

“Won’t you invite me in your house first? It’s kind of tiring standing and explaining outside your door, and frankly, it’s a long story,” Takino grinned freshly.

“No. Either you tell it now, or get out of my sight,” Maya replied sharply. She stuck her cigarette between her lips, folded her arms, and glared some more. She’s not gonna budge an inch.

“Fine,” said Takino, dropping the stupid grin. “I need some information, and I need it bad. My client will pay lots for the information.”

Maya took a few puffs from her cigarette before she answered. “Seventy-thirty. Since I’m the one getting the information, I want seventy percent of the share. And you have to give me a down payment, right here, right now.”

Takino’s jaws twitched, but Maya ignored it. “Sixty-forty, or no deal. I’m gonna find the information anyway, I just thought of saving myself the trouble of ripping this city apart, but hey, I enjoy this job.” He hated Maya and her cigarette smoke. Takino’s choice of smokes smelled much better. Maya was just the typical chain smoker.

“Fine, sixty-forty. My fees are the usual, just put them in my bank account—same number,” Maya said in a rehearsed tone. It’s business as usual. Takino gave her a photograph—a copy—and Maya examined the photo with interest.

“So, I’m going to find this little lady?” Maya asked curiously. “This will be a piece of cake.”

Takino shrugged. Everything was a piece of cake with Maya.

“My client wants the one on the photo. He would pay a lot for her, and he wants her alive,” Takino told her.

Maya took out another cigarette and offered it to Takino who turned it down. Maya shrugged and lighted it up with her dying stick. She dropped the old cigarette on the floor and snuffed it with her one-inch high heels. “I work when you pay my down.”

“No problem. It’s going to be in your account first thing in the morning,” Takino promised. He’ll just phone Kurohito later about the payment.

Maya puffed out a generous cloud of smoke. “Nice working with you again,” she said dryly.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


“Meimu’s tea is delicious,” said Mizuuya, giggling. She held the cup between her little hands, sipping the green tea slowly.

“Of course it is,” Meimu replied proudly. “I’ve studied picking the right leaves, and the proper boiling time and temperature. Though, I have to settle for using a normal stove, normally I’d prefer a specialized heater for making tea.”

“Specialized heater?” Mizuuya asked with curiosity. “Mizuuya has never heard of a heater for tea before.”

“It’s a special type of heater,” Meimu explained patiently. “It’s made out of materials that channel the heat in the teapot properly, allowing the tea to be boiled in the proper manner.”

Mizuuya answered her with a confused look. “So, making tea is very hard?”

Meimu answered by shaking her head. “Not really. It’s easy once you get the hang of it. I might teach you tomorrow,” she said with a smile.

The little girl’s eyes lit up. “Really? Can Mizuuya make delicious tea too?”

“Of course you can, all it takes is a little practice.”

They continued their emphatic talk about tea and its subtleties, but Meimu’s mind was on another matter entirely. As she studied the little girl beaming beside her, Meimu found it hard to imagine that Mizuuya was in the middle of a tight web woven by selfish adults. She was present when Mizuuya told her story early in the morning, and she almost wanted to go out into the night and hunt down the Katsugane bastards one by one. She kept it to herself though, but she was really pissed that someone would be so inconsiderate to a young girl.

She heard a door slam, and she stopped talking to Mizuuya. The two of them turned their heads toward Rin and Maribel who were walking towards them. Rin winked at her, and gave a thumbs-up, indicating that Maribel was now in their circle. Maribel approached them, and stood in front of Mizuuya.

“Do you feel all right now, Mizuuya?” asked Maribel. Mizuuya nodded a little shyly. She was still uncomfortable with Mary.

Maribel laughed softly at Mizuuya’s shyness. “Don’t worry, Miss Satsuki told me about your story.” Mizuuya’s eyes widened, but Mary patted her on the shoulder. “I’ll do everything to protect you from the mean people, with Miss Satsuki’s help of course.” She threw a glance at the young doctor at her side.

“Just Rin will do,” Rin told Maribel. “I don’t like being called Doctor Satsuki, or Miss Satsuki. It sounds so uptight and stuffy.”

Mary nodded. Rin continued to talk. “Anyway, just keep everything I’ve told you in mind. Mind you, we’re trying not to arouse suspicion, but we’re trying to be secretive about Mizuuya too, so it’s better to be careful about handling this situation. If something suddenly comes up, we’ll call you. Otherwise, you should do the same.”

Mary nodded again. Mizuuya looked at the two of them curiously, not really understanding what they were talking about. What she understood though, was that the bad men will never bother her again.

“It’s getting late,” said Mary, suddenly glancing at her watch. “I wonder what’s keeping Renko?”

“I’d say,” Rin chided in. “Kiyuu is late too.”


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


“Well, one thing we know now is that Shima might not be working alone,” said Kanto. He read Mashida’s report which contained all the testimonies of the witnesses in the area of last night’s murder. The whole floor was closed off for police investigation, and the angry tenants were voicing their opinions about their eviction. Still, law was law, and the tenants had no choice but to obey. Saburo, Kurein and Mashida were sitting in a room adjacent to the crime scene, and it has become a temporary base of operations for the current case.

The room was small and simple. They sat on a large bed while they read the reports stacked on the nearby coffee table. Only the three of them were still up, and they haven’t slept for nearly forty-eight hours. They all felt tired, but they were too compelled about the evidences that they have gathered.

“A few minutes before the killing, a young girl asked about the room number of the victims,” said Mashida. He was a little older than Saburo, but he was green—as green as an asparagus, as Kanto once told him. He had no stomach for murder cases, and he’d never entered a crime scene for that matter. However, he is a glib talker when he wants to be, and he really shines in interrogations and often coaxes the information he needs from the witnesses and informers without appearing as threatening.

“The girl’s name was Emi,” cited Kurein, reading from the reports. “The hotel receptionist recalled that she entered the hotel and asked for the suite number, claiming that she has an urgent message for the Katsugane group. Of course, the receptionist was paid to keep her mouth shut, so she did not tell her anything.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” exclaimed Mashida, now really puzzled. “If this Emi did not get any information about the victims, how can she possibly be implicated in this case?”

“Tsk-tsk,” was Kanto’s only reply. “You’re still thinking like a rookie, Mashida. Just think, the receptionist was paid by the victims to keep quiet about the meeting. So you’d think that since this is so secret, only the invited would know about the meeting.”

“Of course,” replied Mashida, hurt by being called a rookie by a senior. “But what are you getting at?”

“Since only the invited know about the meeting, how did this Emi know the meeting in the first place?” asked Kanto. “Two things come to mind; either she is working for the Katsugane, or she is fishing for information against the Katsugane.”

Saburo decided to butt in. “Emi can’t be with the Katsugane. If she was working with them, you’d think that she’ll know about the room number. The Katsugane gang isn’t stupid, they are pretty systematized in their operations; that’s why they can get away with most of their modus operandi. But she asked the receptionist, probably looking for a reaction to her question.”

Shaking his head, Mashida chided, “The hotel receptionist is a typical all-smiles girl. She’s an easy read when I interrogated her. If somebody asked her a question, and she was thinking of lying, she’d pause for a moment before answering. If that’s the case, Emi would’ve caught on easily.”

Kurein snorted. “You people are complicating matters. If this Emi is really involved with Shima, then she’d be a good reader of people. But it still doesn’t answer how she and Shima knew about the meeting venue.”

“Maybe a mole?” said Mashida. “Someone in the organization selling information?”

“Probably,” agreed Saburo. “But too many things are still vague about this case to consider that as a fact. All we know is, Emi appeared before Shima attacked. Few minutes later, Shima appears inside the room, through some unknown manner. Nobody saw Shima enter or exit the building. From this carnage, Shima must’ve brought a weapon of some kind. He might’ve been wounded. The guns had their safety switched off, and there were recent gunpowder residues on the guns. The other tenants heard the shootings. But there are no bullet holes, so it probably went inside Shima. But there are no bullet cartridges as well, and we still can’t explain that.”

“But nobody saw someone suspicious during the whole affair,” said Kurein. “No wounded person besides the victims, no man carrying a weapon. There’s not even someone with blood on his clothes, except for the victims. If Shima used a melee weapon, or if he was wounded, he’d have blood on his clothing.”

“I doubt that would stop our Shima. If he was wounded, he couldn’t have gotten far. And this isn’t the first time Shima went against multiple armed opponents. No, I’m more concerned about the ‘Running Man’,” Saburo told his companions. “So far, the people’s description of him matched up with someone in our case records. He is most likely a person named Gakito Fukuyama, he was once nabbed when he was a runner for drug pushers and spent some time. But he was released for good behaviour.”

“Issue a warrant,” said Kanto. “We’ll need to find this Fukuyama; he might be our only link to Shima and the Katsugane.”

“If he’s still alive, that is,” countered Kurein bitterly. Nobody had any answer to that.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Kiyuu examined the wall where the train doors where supposed to be. “I think this should do.”

“What are you gonna do?” asked Renko. Kiyuu was squatting in front of the fleshy and hideous wall, poking it gingerly with one finger.

“I’m gonna get us out. Now stand back.” Kiyuu stood up, and began stretching like an athlete. Renko backed away, still massaging her other arm. Kiyuu’s iron grip left some visible welts on her arm and wrist.

The train was still pulsating, in rhythm like a heartbeat. Every now and then, they could hear a groan coming from further in front of the train. The odor still made Renko woozy, but she’s doesn’t feel nauseous anymore. Her initial excitement had died down, and she was now curious of Kiyuu’s cool demeanor in the whole affair. The girl acted and talked like she knew what was going on. Renko was determined to know what, but she decided that she can ask Kiyuu later, after they have left this ghost train, or Ayakashi Express, or whatever.

“Okay, here goes. I guess I’ll try this spell,” said Kiyuu to no one in particular. Her back was turned towards Renko, who was still looking at her curiously.

A spell? Renko wasn’t sure she heard Kiyuu properly. Kiyuu began to chant in a monotonous voice, and Renko tried hard to listen to the words, but she wasn’t sure she heard them properly.

“Using namespace Kiyuu; call from Class Kan; public PHYSICAL_LAYER_1 method_Kan.commence_Analysis(arg void); return to Kiyuu.self.physical_address_buffer,” Kiyuu chanted. Kiyuu’s voice became totally flat and devoid of emotion as she chanted these words. Also, a sudden change came over Kiyuu. Her posture became totally rigid, like she was a stone statue. Renko felt tingly, like a static current came and went through her body, and she felt uneasy as Kiyuu continued her weird chant.

“Call from Class self; private method_self.decompose_physical_address_buffer(arg &self.physical_address_buffer); return to Kiyuu.Queue_Update,” Kiyuu continued chanting. Renko heard of magical chants before. They were supposed to be used by sorcerers and priests during the ancient times, using their spiritual powers to achieve things that cannot be done by normal means; like turning water into wine, or changing the weather. However, what Kiyuu was doing was certainly different from what she heard about magic spells. For one thing, they didn’t sound like ancient language. Number two, it certainly sounded like something out of a cheesy programming language in a computer.

“Call from Class self; private method_self.Update(arg &self.Queue_Update),” continued Kiyuu. Now Renko suddenly heard a keening sound coming from nowhere. It had a high-pitched sound, like a nail scraping a blackboard. Renko tried covering her ears, but it cannot muffle out the sound. Instead, she tried to ignore the sound, and focused on Kiyuu, who seemed to be glowing with an enigmatic, inner light.

Kiyuu stretched her left hand towards the fleshy wall, touching it with the tips of her fingers. She remained perfectly rigid for a few seconds or so, whispering more chants that Renko couldn’t hear.

Suddenly, Kiyuu spoke in almost a shout, her voice was tense, as if she was frustrated and venting it out. “Call from global Class Kiyuu; Kiyuu.World.Flip(arg void); return True!” she shouted. The keening sound stopped, and Renko removed her hands from her ears. And then she saw it.

In front of Kiyuu, where a fleshy wall once stood, there was now a black patch of—Nothing, for the lack of a better word—that  Renko could hardly describe. Kiyuu stuck her arm through it, and Renko saw that it was hollow and empty. Its edges were jagged, like a broken mirror, and Kiyuu looked at these edges gingerly before regarding Renko with her usual snarky demeanor.

“Here’s our exit,” Kiyuu announced with a tone of finality.

(Next Chapter 6!)




Anu Corner
So, here's a continuation of the profile list~

水宇野
Mizuuya

Occupation: ?

A young girl found by Maribel and Renko at the river floodplains one night. She is an orphan, and is under the care of the Katsugane gang until a girl named Emi helped her escape. Her father died when she was still young, and her mother was killed by the Katsugane for unknown reasons. They kept her under close scrutiny for many years, possibly to keep her quiet about her mother's murder.

That itself is suspicious, don't you think? Why would the Katsugane let her live, under their supervision?

Also talks in third-person, but hey, talking in third-person is fun.


たきの
Takino

Occupation: Hitman

I did not run out of Kanji to use for his name. It just so happens that I also like hiragana~

A famous hired killer for gangs and organization, boasting a 100% accuracy and a hefty price. An obnoxious b~tard with no sense of morals, he will kill you if he thought he'd earn something from it. Likes money, dislikes pollution and littering. Huh?

Also has the ability called [Coin Flipper] (er...what? More details coming soon, I hope).


林和夏奈
Wakana Hayashi

Occupation: Student/Part-time Otaku

A classmate and a (only) friend of Kiyuu. Cheerful and likes to tag-along with the bad-mouthed girl, she also has taken a liking with the otaku culture. Often comes around the clinic with Kiyuu for Meimu's tea.

Like the two above, not much is still revealed about her, but she seems to be a normal person.

赤理
Akari

Occupation: Store Assistant

The daughter of the store owner of the Alley Antique Shop. She is pale, and looks a lot like the ghost girls in horror movies, but is actually very much alive.

She is the assistant in their family's Antique Shop, but her real job is selling collector's edition goodies at the second floor of their shop.

She's too familiar with Kiyuu, Rin and Meimu, and they're not exactly the most normal people around.


Anyway, that's some of the OC's covered.
I might do the Shima Task force profiles next.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2011, 12:52:01 AM by Anunsew ng Sampaguita »

Aya Squawkermaru

  • "You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war." - William Hearst
  • Relevant quote is relevant.
Re: Worldly Affairs of the Outside World Chapter 5! (August 04 Update)
« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2011, 05:25:01 PM »
This is very good! The switch from past tense to present tense can be a bit confusing at times, but it's still an enjoyable read.

It'll be interesting to see how Renko reacts to Mizuuya's story.

Anunsew

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August 24 Proofreading checks!~
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2011, 01:17:48 AM »
GAH!
I just finished proofreading the first five chapters and I nearly cried at the obtuse quality of my work. :(
Chapter 1 alone was full of weird grammar errors that escaped me during the drafting stage, and I had some trouble spotting all of them. Since I write 1-2 chapters a month, I think I should dedicate some time correcting my own errors when I'm not in the mood to write new chapters.

As of now, all five chapters have been corrected (both in grammar, preposition, and in context) though some things may have escaped my notice. I'm writing Chapter 6 in my free time, and I might be able to release it before the end of this month.
:P


Since I'm not adding any new chapters right now, I might as well add some new profiles.

伊藤暮音
Kurein Itou

Occupation: Shima Task Force Member

Age: You shouldn't ask a woman those kind of things

Youngest member of the Shima Task Force or STF. As a member of STF, she is assigned to investigate, gather evidence, and track down the operation of the serial killer, Shima.

Even if she is the only female in the task force, she has proved quite capable of keeping up with her other comrades. Known for her intellect, logic, and bitter humor, she is one of the "thinkers" of the task force. Kanto, the most senior officer, often looks at Kurein for any logical connections in the case.


中村寒土
Kanto Nakamura

Occupation: Shima Task Force Member

Age:  I'm your senior, boy.

The most senior officer in the STF. As the standing leader and reason of the task force, he is respected and considered wise by his members. Although he is almost at retirement age, he can keep up with the active pace demanded by the task force. He doesn't tolerate insubordination, but it isn't much of a problem with the STF.

Although he isn't as smart as his members, he is experienced and very perceptive of other people. I guess it comes with the age...


林和三郎
Saburo Hayashi

Occupation: Shima Task Force Member

Age: I'm still single...

The second youngest in the force, slightly older than Kurein. Though how they knew that since they're not telling their ages is beyond me. Maybe there's a collective "don't-tell-other-people-about-our-ages" agreement in the police force.

A keen observer and a good spotter of details, he is an invaluable member of the STF. Though he never told anybody about it, he has a nearly photographic memory and he can remember and reconstruct crime scenes even if he just saw it once. Unfortunately, his memory isn't perfect and he usually forgets details that are more than a month old. Well, he is still normal, I guess.

Though he isn't as good with logical connections such as Kurein, his detailed observation always helped Kurein in getting the proper information in which to base her deductions on. Kurein and Saburo are the "killer-pair" of the task force, and Kanto secretly respects the two youngest officers.

Oh yeah, if you haven't noticed, Saburo shares the same family name as Wakana. It's because Saburo is Wakana's older brother. I guess he is the third son or something...lame pun. XD


Holy crap, how far am I from Gensokyo right now?
It's hard to create an "Outside" fanfic since I only have two canon characters to spin around...
I have to settle with OCs to populate the story. >.<
« Last Edit: August 24, 2011, 01:20:31 AM by Anunsew ng Sampaguita »

Anunsew

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Chapter 6 (August 31 Update!)
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2011, 02:31:30 AM »
Chapter 6



Renko dumbly stared at Kiyuu. Then she looked at the malevolent hole in front of them.

?We?re going through this?? Renko asked her. She approached the crack created by Kiyuu?s spell and cautiously eyed the jagged edges of the hole. She tried to peer through it but the interior of the jagged hole was pitch-black and its dimensions were impossible to measure. It was like a doorway into another world.

A real spell! Renko?s excitement is reaching new heights, even after just discovering that they?re inside a haunted train. If Kiyuu used a spell, then it must mean that she is some sort of a magician. Renko was determined to ask her about magic later. If she?s lucky, she might learn a spell herself! Renko couldn?t wait to see Maribel?s face when she tells her about Kiyuu.

?So is this some kind of portal or something?? Renko asked the little girl behind her. But Kiyuu had other ideas.

Renko felt Kiyuu?s hand on her back. ?In you go,? said Kiyuu gleefully. With a push, Renko fell through the hole and vanished.

?Whoa!?

Renko was falling inside the pitch black tunnel. She flailed her arms out of reflex, and hit something soft beside her.

?Hey! Don?t do that!? said Kiyuu with a shrill voice. ?We?re going to hit the ground soon, so stop moving.?

Ground? Their fall seems to be accelerating, and Renko suddenly became worried. ?Are we going to be okay if we hit the ground??

?Of course we will,? said Kiyuu. ?I?m going to stabilize our physical address now.?

Suddenly, Renko felt the falling feeling stop and be replaced by a floating sensation. Then, a brilliant light burst through the darkness and dissolved it into a brilliant white luminance. Renko blinked at the sudden brightness, and then found herself face first on a grass ground. With a grunt, Renko tried to get a sense of her surroundings.

Renko smelled moss and felt dampness, and sat up. She looked around and spotted a river nearby. The place was familiar, especially with the fact that Renko had been here twice before. They were near the spot were Renko and Mary were supposed to do their ghost stakeout the day before. She heard cars as they passed by on the road above them, and she could also hear the sounds of residence in the distance. Renko looked at the sky, and confirmed her thoughts. It was 7:00 pm by the floodplain, just a few blocks away from the Satsuki Pediatric Clinic.

?Now I?ve got mud on my dress,? she heard Kiyuu complain beside her. She was sitting on the grass, trying to get wipe the mud off her dress. Kiyuu lucked out and landed on a muddy puddle beside. Renko landed on a drier spot, but Kiyuu?s clothes were soiled, from her dress up to her gloved hands. ?Help me up, will you??

Renko got up and helped the little girl get back on her feet. Taking hold of Kiyuu?s muddy arms, Renko pulled her up without much difficulty. Kiyuu was as light as she looked.

After getting back up on her feet, Kiyuu tried to clean herself up without much success. She tried to wipe off the mud from her blouse and skirt, but she only ended up spreading the stains around her clothes. Renko watched her, and was a little amused by the comical appearance of the girl.

Kiyuu saw Renko?s looks, and stopped her futile efforts. ?Well, at least I?m glad to get out of that train,? Kiyuu muttered under her voice.

Kiyuu suddenly cried out in pain and clutched her left hand.

?Hey, are you okay?? asked Renko, alarmed and surprised at Kiyuu?s sudden outburst. Renko knew that it was a stupid question, but she was unsure how to approach the little girl. Kiyuu kneeled in pain, clutching her left hand within her chest. Blood began to flow out from within KIyuu?s left glove, creating small red droplets on the grass as they fell. Renko tried to approach her, but Kiyuu pushed her away with her other arm.

?Stay back!? she yelled at her. ??don?t come near me!?

Kiyuu was breathing heavily, and Renko was about to try getting some help when Kiyuu stopped her. ?Wait,? she told her between gasps. ?In my right skirt pocket?some bandages?hurry.?  Renko kneeled beside Kiyuu and slipped her hand inside her right skirt pocket and pulled out a roll of bandage.

?Give me your hand,? said Renko. ?You want me to put this on your hand right?? Kiyuu opened an eye and gave her a long, hesitating stare, but she offered her left arm to Renko without saying anything else. Renko pulled off the dirty glove, carefully avoiding the muddy spots to avoid soiling her hands and bandages.

While Renko isn?t a health specialist or a paramedic, she knew basic first aid. She knew how to treat simple wounds and cuts, and knew what not to do so that the injuries will not get infected. However, what she saw within Kiyuu?s left glove was something outside her experience, including her ride inside the Ayakashi Express just minutes before.

Kiyuu?s left arm was heavily bandaged beneath the white, mud-stained glove. The bandages covered all of her forearm up to her palm, and were tied by a knot near the elbow. The bandages were moist with blood, and Renko was shocked at the rate of her bleeding. Renko decided to take off the old bandages first in order to avoid infection and the replace it with the clean roll Kiyuu gave her.

When Kiyuu saw Renko?s hand move towards the knot near her elbow, she slapped Renko?s hand away with her right arm. ?Put?the new one over it,? she told her through gritted teeth. She seemed barely conscious, and her breathing was turning into rapid gasps. ?Don?t?take?off the old?wraps...?

Renko nodded, but was puzzled by the request. She unrolled the clean bandages and started to wrap it around Kiyuu?s bleeding arm. As she did so, she noticed that strange letters and words were written on the clean bandages. She was curious about it for a second, but decided to put it off later.

She carefully wrapped the bandages carefully over the old wraps. Kiyuu flinched as Renko fixed the clean bandages around her arm, but she didn?t say any retort or quip. The labor was long but not hard, and Renko finished the task after a few minutes. Kiyuu looked much better after the bandages were secured.

?Give me back my glove,? said Kiyuu after Renko finished tying the securing knot of the fresh bandages. Renko handed her the muddy glove, and Kiyuu slid it over her bandaged hand. Kiyuu?s gloves were long enough to reach near her elbows, and it neatly hid the bandages.

?What happened to your arm?? asked Renko. She looked at the little girl as she adjusted her glove, but the girl did not reply at once.

?It?s none of your business,? Kiyuu answered at last. ?The clinic is nearby. It?s getting dark, and I want to change into something cleaner.? She finished adjusting her glove and gave Renko an enigmatic stare

Renko wasn?t about to be put off by Kiyuu. ?Of course it?s my business. I almost became Renko souffl? for a locomotive, saw you make a portal using some spell, and fixed your arm which started to bleed for no apparent reason.?

Kiyuu saw Renko?s determined face. She gave Renko a strange and exhausted sigh and said, ?Fine, if you really want to know, I?ll tell you.?

★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


?You?re a what?? Renko was walking beside Kiyuu on the lonely street, two blocks away from the clinic. ?An chounouryokusha[/b]??

?Kind of,? said Kiyuu. ?Do you know of a place called Gensokyo??

Gensokyo.

?What did you say?? Renko asked the girl. Her voice was quivering. She did not know if it was excitement or anticipation. Probably both.

Gensokyo! The land of dreams, where reality and phantasmagoria exist in a single place! Renko and Maribel had been researching all about it, looking for proofs that it really exists. They have pored through ancient texts and scrolls. Renko had scarfed the Internet for any information about Gensokyo, but her efforts were futile. Little or no information was to be found about Gensokyo, except for weird sites that have utterly no semblance to what Renko and Maribel were looking for.

Gensokyo was once seen by Maribel through a dream. However, it was not an ordinary dream because it felt so real, and Maribel remembered everything. Gensokyo was a place filled with mystery, populated by mythical beings and creatures beyond any human comprehension. Though they have no clear proof that Gensokyo really exists, Renko was sure of Maribel?s intuition. Maribel?s dreams and stories about Gensokyo were so realistic; it was as if Gensokyo was challenging them. Find me if you can.

So far, only Renko and Maribel knew of Gensokyo?s existence. Any reference they could find bore no information about that mystical place. No man, book, or text could help them. But now, this strange girl beside her is asking if she?d ever heard about it.

?You know about Gensokyo?? blurted Renko, utterly surprised by Kiyuu?s question. ?What do you know about it??

?Huh, so you?ve heard of it,? Kiyuu shrugged of Renko?s shock and surprise, and totally ignored Renko?s questions. ?Anyway, I want to do a little history lesson. A few hundred years ago, around the Meiji era, there was a secluded place called Gensokyo. It was populated by some humans and youkai who were happy killing each other back then. Fun times.?

Renko couldn?t reply as Kiyuu continued her speech. She was more concerned memorizing everything as Kiyuu talked.

?After the first decade of the Meiji era, the government begam cutting off supplies from that area. I think it was part of some ?project? or something. I forgot. Regardless, the government withdrew their support from Gensokyo and told the residents to move because they?ll be industrializing the area. Anyway, the residents didn?t want to move, so they made a magical barrier around it, so no one can get in.?

?Er?is that what really happened?? asked Renko.

?Hmm?unfortunately, after Gensokyo was sealed off by the barrier, many of the youkai who lived outside of Gensokyo began losing their powers. I think it was because of ?earth?s chi? being redirected or something. I?m not really sure. Anyway, since the youkai outside Gensokyo felt themselves weakening, they banded together into a coalition in order to research ways how to preserve their powers. The youkai need to preserve their powers because they?ll stop existing when their powers disappear. Kind of like dying, except there?s no heaven or hell to go. That?s when a celestial thingy appeared and offered them a solution.?

?A celestial thingy??

?Uh?I think it was a qilin, not a celestial. I?m forgetting my lessons, sorry. Anyway, the qilin offered the youkai coalition a celestial orb bearing celestial powers. Using the orb?s powers, the youkai can continue existing as they like. However, celestials are the natural enemy of youkai, and many of the youkai did not like the qilin?s offer. In the end, many of the youkai resigned from the coalition and chose to prey on another source of power. Youkai can consume the souls of humans in order to become stronger, and preserve themselves. Unfortunately, many of the youkai became too greedy and fought amongst themselves, trying to get a larger share of human souls.?

Kiyuu?s story captivated Renko. They reached a pedestrian crossing, and Kiyuu stopped her story long enough to look at the traffic lights. The pedestrian lights were red, but there were no vehicles nearby. They decided to wait until the light turns green.

?During that time though, the industrialization of the government were rapidly growing. The youkai did not like big human cities, so they usually preyed on the small rural villages, usually populated by poor farmers. They kidnapped children and ate them. However, the qilin from earlier did not like what is happening and started to hunt down the rogue, human-eating youkai. Some youkai who were in favor of the qilin also helped her in her efforts, fighting off the youkai and saving the humans, in return for the celestial orb?s use. Around that time, chounouryokushas started to appear.?

?Chounouryokushas? Like the ones in TV and movies??

?Nah. Those are overrated. Chounouryokushas are humans who developed special abilities. The youkai?s attacks on humans have caused their powers to influence other humans. The changes were little at first, but eventually, humans with noticeable powers started to be born. Unfortunately, the humans back then were superstitious, and many chounouryokushas were killed during their infancy, thinking that they were demon spawn. It didn?t help that chounouryokushas were usually spawned in the rural areas were youkai usually attack. Most of the farmers were very hysterical when they discover that their six month old baby can float, or their three year old can talk with animals. Anyway, they usually burned the chounouryokushas alive. But sometimes they pushed them off the cliff, or stoned them to death, or buried them alive. There?s this one girl who was pushed into a deep water well and the exit was covered up with a stone slab. It?s up to personal preference, really.?

?That?s horrible,? said Renko. She remembered the stories of inventors being branded as heretics during the inquisition. Humans can be so irrational. ?The people back then were really superstitious. Some farmers were even afraid of things they couldn?t explain, like the incandescent bulb and phonograph. They thought that the light of the bulbs were fires from Jigoku, and the phonograph machines were stealing their voices.?

?True. Anyway, the qilin became really concerned at the sudden turn of events, and decided to help out the chounouryokushas. She got the remaining members of the youkai coalition and commissioned them to search and help the chounouryokushas, as well as track down any rogue youkai who are guilty of eating humans. As of the present, the group is called Underground Coalition of Youkai and Chounouryokushas* or UCYC. I am one of the chounouryokushas they?ve saved.?

Kiyuu finished her speech when the pedestrian lights changed. Kiyuu and Renko crossed the street without saying anything else. It was a full minute before Renko broke the silence. Renko suddenly became conscious of the cold night wind as it blew across the lamp lit streets.

?So, is Meimu and Rin part of this UCYC?? asked Renko.

?Classified information,? Kiyuu replied abruptly.

?Er?what?? Renko looked at Kiyuu, confusion painted all over her face. Kiyuu returned the stare and grinned.

?Classified information.? Kiyuu repeated. ?I?m not saying yes, or no. Figure it out for yourself.?

Renko returned a puzzled glare at Kiyuu.

Kiyuu brightened up, her eyes twinkling. ?Oh yeah. You?re not supposed to repeat anything I?ve told you to anybody else,? she continued.

?Huh??

?Everything you?ve just heard is supposed to be kept secret. I?m just telling you this because, firstly, nobody will ever believe you if you tell anybody about it. And two, because you?ll probably bug me until I tell you otherwise Also, the train from earlier was kind of unexpected. I may have to report it later.?

Kiyuu stopped walking and pointed a finger at Renko.

?You cannot tell anybody about what happened earlier, and you can?t tell anybody what I?ve just told you,? she demanded to Renko. ?Not even your parents or your friends. Not even your weird friend.?

?Weird?er, you mean Mary?? Renko asked Kiyuu.

?Yeah, that?s right. If you tell anybody, you and I are going to be in big trouble. The UCYC has been keeping the youkai and chounouryokushas secret for more than a century now. Many youkai activities were covered up by the UCYC. I can?t name them though. They?re classified information.?
Kiyuu took a deep breath. ?Anyway, the point is that you can?t tell anybody about it. Got that??

?So?UCYC is kind of a cabal or something? Fine, I won?t tell anybody. But it?s like you said?evenif I go into TV and yell about what you?ve told me earlier, I?ll probably appear in some shady late night TV program at best. Or in a tabloid,? Renko told her, shrugging. Sure she won?t tell anybody, but she?ll probably tell Maribel later, probably.

?Good. I?m glad you understand.? Kiyuu lowered her finger and resumed walking,

?But I have one condition,? Renko called out to her. ?I want you to tell me more about your coalition. I want to know more about Gensokyo. I also want to know about the spell you did earlier, and about your arm. I also want to learn magic, so can you teach me all about it??

Kiyuu stopped for a moment, contemplating her answer. Renko stared at her silent figure. The cold night wind blew again, followed by the light patter of an incoming drizzle.

?You?re a weird person,? said Kiyuu at last. ?I don?t have an umbrella, let?s get to the clinic before the rain gets any heavier.?

They continued walking the last block towards the clinic, talking about things of varying importance.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Renko could hardly suppress her grin when she arrived at the clinic. Mary was waiting at the lobby, sitting beside Mizuuya. They were engaged in an energetic exchange of gossip and small talk. Kiyuu pushed the door open, and was greeted by Meimu?s gasps.

?Kiyuu, what did you do with your clothes?? Meimu pointed at Kiyuu?s muddy appearance. ?What happened to you??

?Long story Mei. I accidentally fell on a mud puddle earlier,? Kiyuu explained, winking at Renko. They?ve rehearsed a script just before entering the clinic.

Renko fell in queue. ?Uh?I found her a few blocks from here. She slipped on a banana peel, she told me.? What a clich? story, Renko told Kiyuu earlier.

Don?t worry, Meimu will believe anything. Kiyuu was confident with the structure of their alibi.

?A banana peel?? Meimu said with a frown. ?Litterbugs are really getting worse these days. They should make harsher laws against littering.?

Renko stared dumbly at Meimu, torn between relief and wonder at Meimu?s guillabilty.

?Anyway, you need to get changed before dinner, Kiyuu.? Meimu told the little girl in soiled clothes.

?I know, I know,? Kiyuu walked past Meimu and entered the inner hall of the clinic. Meimu bowed politely at Renko before following Kiyuu, leaving Renko and Mary with Mizuuya. Rin was nowhere in sight.

Renko approached Mary. She was still locked in conversation with Mizuuya. ?Hey, what?s up??

?You sure took your time,? Mary told her, wincing at Renko?s familiar greeting. ?You?ve missed a lot. Rin wants to tell you a lot of things about Mizuuya.?

?Missed a lot, huh. You don?t say,? Renko said dryly. She remembered her promise with Kiyuu, and as much as she wanted to gloat about her earlier adventure, she needed to hide it from Mary. She prayed a silent apology to her friend. ?Well, I did finish my essay today.?

Mary sighed. ?Well that?s good, I guess. Rin is at her office, I think. You?ll find her there, waiting for you.?

Renko nodded, and started walking towards the inner hall. Mizuuya watched her as she walked. Mary was wondering how Renko would choose.


(Next Chapter 7~nana~)



Anu's Corner
Hurr. What a short chapter (relatively speaking). This one was a bit rushed, but it's too full of information. >.<
Have to avoid that in the future. :P

Anyway, some notes on the weird words:

超能力者
Chounouryokusha

A familiar word if you're a follower of Tanigawa, or a follower of Index...

Chounouryokusha literally means "someone with superhuman ability". An esper, if you want to call it that.

Anyway, chounouryokusha are humans who have developed superhuman abilities, mostly due to mutations (ugh, science fictions...), but in this story, the reason lies within the youkai influence. When a youkai, or a group of youkai, leaves its presence within a location, their powers "leak" to their surroundings like a diffusion lamp. The diffused power is then absorbed by unwary humans. However, the powers are latent inside humans, until their offspring are awakened to these powers due to various reasons (like a life-threatening event, freaks of natural occurences, etc).

It is generally unclear why youkai diffuse their powers to their surroundings. The researchers of UCYE think that this is a way that a youkai marks its territory, but no youkai will ever admit that.

The chounouryokusha has existed in the outside world for decades, but have been hidden from the general public because of the potential unrest that they may cause to the normal humans. Generally, they live under the care of UCYC, but there are rumors of chounouryokusha living normally among humans. There are also chounouryokusha that aren't under UCYC jurisdiction.




超能力者と妖怪の隠れた連合  (hira = ちょう のうりょく しゃ と ようかい の かくれ た れんごう)
Underground Coalition of Youkai and Chounouryokusha (UCYC)


A secret organization led by secret identities. It was founded by a group of youkai who started losing their powers after the creation of the Hakurei Barrier. They exist outside of Gensokyo.

The mission of the UCYC is to create a viable surrounding for youkai and chounouryokusha who wants to live normally among normal humans. They do this by retaining the secrecy of the existence of youkai, using the human science as a perfect cover-up. Since human science denies the existence of spirits and paranormal, the youkai can continue living normally among humans.

Youkai under the care of UCYC do not need to feed on spiritual energy of humans. They use the Continuous Spiritual Stream (CSS) provided by the celestial orb in possession of the UCYC. The CSS provides a steady rate of spiritual energy that serves as food for the youkai. However, youkai that has been living off from CSS lose their tolerance to any type of spiritual power source, thus making them dependent to the UCYC. Thus, many youkai do not live under the care of UCYC, choosing to lead a solo existence, eating other spiritual sources available, like humans.

Because the existence of the rogue youkai (youkai who eat human souls) can endanger the secrecy of UCYC, the organization has created a group dedicated to containing these rogues. They are composed of youkai and chounouryokusha who have been trained to tracking and capturing these youkai, and bring them to the justice of the laws created by UCYC.

UCYC is currently lead by a youkai, who is one of the founders of the coalition. Members of UCYC live among normal human standards, and are responsible in keeping the secrecy of the group. Other departments exist within UCYC, like Human and Youkai Welfare, Spiritual Research Department, etc.

Therefore, Kiyuu is breaking a rule of UCYC by exposing Renko to the basics of the group. However, the existence of Ayakashi Express No. 666 is one of the major problems of UCYC, and Kiyuu is much more concerned about it than Renko's questions about the group.

Also, like Kiyuu said, NOBODY would believe Renko even if she went public about it. Even if the UCYC discovers that Renko knows about the coalition, she doesn't know any members of UCYC besides Kiyuu.




Ayakashi Express No. 666

A rogue youkai that disguises itself as a train. It usually appears at a certain time of the day, but it's good at camouflaging itself like a normal train. When a passenger boards it, the train transforms and brings the passengers to an alternate dimension made out of an endless railway. It then eats the passengers whole.

No. 666 has been a problem of the UCYC for decades. Since they cannot contain it without attracting undue attention to the coalition, this train has been acting rogue for many years. No. 666 has the ability to hide its own spiritual power, thus making it hard to detect. Since it can shapeshift into any type of train it wants, No. 666 can change its train line, thus varying its hunting spots and making surveillance even harder for the UCYC.

This Ayakashi train has existed for many decades, and may be as old as the locomotive industry in Japan. It usually hides among humans, thus making any type of secret containment by the UCYC impossible--even if they knew where No. 666 is currently hiding.



Anunsew

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Worldly Affairs of the Outside World Chapter 6~ (Sept 26, 2011 Updates!)
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2011, 12:58:25 AM »
Chapter 7


When Renko stepped inside Rin’s office, she immediately noticed the general untidiness of the room. Since Rin was a professional doctor, Renko expected some sort of organization and tidiness from her office.

“Good evening, Miss Usami,” Rin warmly greeted. She gestured Renko to sit on the chair in front of her untidy desk. Renko obliged, trying not to ignore the general state of the room.

Rin noticed Renko’s discomfort. “Is there a problem?”

Renko shrugged and shook her head. “No not really. It’s nothing.” The events of the evening still left her a bit unnerved, and her heart was still pounding in her chest. She took a deep breath to steady her nerves.

“Would you like some tea, Miss Usami? You seem a little bit unnerved,” Rin told her with concern. Unlike Maribel, Renko’s pace was harder to read. Rin is still thinking how she would approach Renko

“Yes. Thank you,” Renko answered politely. Rin smiled and got up from her chair. with Mizuuya’s story. Maribel is a pretty straightforward thinker, weighing everything in balance. On the other hand, Rin could sense the inquisitive and adventurous nature of Renko. While this could be favorable for Mizuuya’s cause, Rin wants Renko to think about her decision carefully. Rin fears that Renko might make a rash decision, and join them without thinking about the risks properly.

Rin poured hot tea from a ceramic kettle that Meimu brought in earlier. She filled two teacups and offered one to Renko.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


The living quarters behind the clinic was pretty much the home of Meimu, Kiyuu, and Rin. It is connected to the backdoor of the clinic. It was a small annex, consisting of their bedrooms, a bathroom, a restroom, a kitchen, and a central common room that served as the living room.

Kiyuu was resting in her room. There was a soft knock on her door.

“Come in,” she said aloud. She felt too weak and tired to get up from her bed. Her arm still ached, and her whole body feels like lead. She managed to keep herself together while she was with Renko, but she nearly collapsed when she reached her bed.

Meimu entered the room, carrying a small bag with her. “What happened to you? You invoked the code phrase “Banana peel” earlier.”

The little girl on the bed replied with a snort. Code phrases were natural to Kiyuu. The three of them—Kiyuu, Meimu, and Rin—habitually use code phrases to communicate. It was Rin’s idea; Rin was once engrossed with spy films and detective movies, and decided that they should use secret codes with their everyday talk.

“Seriously, Rin should stop watching those weird movies. I thought the kung-fu flicks were bad, but code phrases are really lame,” Kiyuu told Meimu.

Meimu sighed. “Anyway, the “banana peel” code means you’ve encountered a rogue youkai earlier…did you use that again?”

Kiyuu tried to nod, but her head was still throbbing. Talking was much easier. “Yeah. I encountered the Ayakashi Express earlier. I boarded the wrong train at the worst possible time. Remember to post a notice to the youkai hunters later.”

Ayakashi Train No. 666, the rogue youkai train that has hundreds of human souls on its account. Meimu frowned with concern as she watched the lethargic girl stretch her arms while still lying on her bed. She pulled a nearby chair and sat beside Kiyuu.

“Tell me what happened.” Meimu said in a serious tone.

Kiyuu took a deep breath. “The train suddenly turned into a youkai. I had to use a cleft to escape being digested. I think I overexerted myself. My arm acted up after I got out of the cleft. I added another layer of bandage, but it’s still hurting.”

Meimu nodded. “Let me see your arm.”

“You do it. I can barely move at all,” Kiyuu told Meimu weakly. Meimu inched closer to Kiyuu and slowly reached for her left arm.

Meimu removed Kiyuu’s left glove gingerly. Putting it aside, she started to untie the bandages around Kiyuu’s arm. “How many seals did you break?” Meimu asked the little girl.

“Sixty-four, I think,” Kiyuu answered. “My arm feels like it’s going to fall off.”

Meimu finished removing the bandages around Kiyuu’s arm. She stifled a gasp as she saw the state of Kiyuu’s arm. Black, jagged markings covered her left hand up to her left elbow. They intertwined around her arm, forming grotesque patterns and figures. Meimu shuddered as she looked at them.

“I’ll renew the seals on your arm now,” Meimu told Kiyuu. She unzipped her bag and brought out a long roll of bandage, as well as a sheet of prayer talismans. She laid the talismans beside Kiyuu’s arm.

“This might hurt a bit,” Meimu warned her. “You don’t have to stop yourself if you want to cry.”

“I’m not a kid,” Kiyuu said crossly. “Just finish it quickly, and remember what Rin said. Don’t touch the marks.”

Meimu took a deep breath and started to chant.

★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


“Seriously?” Renko answered more frankly than she intended. She looked at the young doctor who was looked at her with the calmest demeanor she’d ever seen.

Upon Renko’s agreement, Rin told her about Mizuuya’s past and her involvement with the Katsugane group. Renko was torn behind disbelief and excitement.

“Please believe me,” said Rin calmly. “Though I guess my story is hardly credible in the first place. However, be assured that I am saying only the truth.”

Renko shook her head. “It’s not that…it’s just, I think I’ve just seen way too many things today.” Two hours actually, Renko said to herself. Her mind was still racing through all the facts of the evening. She was still determined to find out mysterious clinic. Her guts tell her that both Rin and Meimu know about Kiyuu’s abilities.

And if they know Kiyuu’s abilities, then Rin and Meimu must probably know about that underground society thing.

Her curiosity and impatience were mounting, and Renko considered the prospect of confronting Rin with the events on the train. “Hey, did you know about—“

Renko suddenly found the words die in her mouth. Her throat became dry, and she found that she could not speak. She tried forcing her voice out, but she couldn’t even groan. Cold sweat ran down her neck as she remembered her promise with Kiyuu.

Don’t. Tell. Anybody.

“Know about what?” asked Rin, raising an eyebrow.

Renko gasped as the encumbering sensation left her. “I..uh…nothing,” said Renko, panting. “It’s nothing.”

Renko was chilled by a realization. Kiyuu must have put a spell on her! She cannot talk about the exciting adventure she had earlier, because she made a promise with Kiyuu. Clenching her teeth, she forced herself to calm down. If Kiyuu was really a magician, then this sort of thing should be expected, Renko reminded herself.

Rin poured Renko another cup of tea. “Anyway, I’m glad that you’re on our side. I would have been very troubled had I needed to separate you from Miss Han.”

“Mary? Don’t tell me she knew this already?” asked Renko, a little bit annoyed and hurt. Mary discovered another secret before her!

“Yes. Since yesterday, in fact. She agreed to help us in hiding Mizuuya, as well as keeping her on a low-profile,” answered Rin. “I wasn’t sure you’ll agree, though.” Rin handed her the cup, and Renko politely took her third cup of tea.

Sighing, Renko sipped her tea without saying another word. “So what now? Do we just hide her forever?”

Rin smiled calmly. “Not at all. I’m contacting some friends of mine to help Mizuuya. Just remember what I’ve told you earlier.”

Renko nodded. “Right. I’ll call you if I find anything suspicious, and—“ Renko paused with a sigh, “—not to tell anybody about Mizuuya.”

Rin nodded. “I’m glad you understand.” She gave Renko a warm smile.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Maya’s office always looked foggy. Takino didn’t like Maya’s smokes, nor her office either.

“Found her,” declared Maya. She took a quick puff at the lighted cigarette between her fingers before she handed Takino a folder. “I picked up some of her traces around the riverbank, but they’re about a few days old. She’s probably not dead, since I didn’t find a corpse. Somebody must have found her, probably some people in the area.”

Takino snorted as he opened the folder. It contained a small map of the local area around the city riverbank. There was a large circle around the southern part of the map. Behind the map was a list of addresses and names of the local residents inside the encircled area.

“So I have to look around these places?” said Takino crossly. “I was hoping—“

“What?” Maya cut her off. “I’m a tracker, not a bloodhound. I’m one of the best Clairvoyants around. You won’t have gotten a clue about the girl’s whereabouts if you consulted another Clairvoyant.”

“Fine, whatever.” Takino shrugged as he put away the folder. “I’m going to start looking around that area tomorrow. Meet me there by nine o’clock tomorrow morning.”

Maya puffed a big cloud of smoke. “Now why the heck would I do that? My job is searching for the girl’s traces, not banging on doors.”

Takino glared at the arrogant woman in front of her. “Because, if I don’t find her, I don’t get paid. If I don’t get paid, you get sixty percent of nothing.”

Maya killed her cigarette on a nearby ash tray. “Fine.  I’ll be there by ten.”

“I said nine o’clock.”

“Then wait for me until I get there. You’re not my only client,” Maya spat out.

Takino snarled quietly and picked up the folder and left the office in disgust.



(Next: Chapter 8 )

Anunsew

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Worldly Affairs of the Outside World Chapter 8~ (November 23, 2011)
« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2011, 06:04:40 AM »

Chapter 8


The next day was their day off. Renko and Maribel found themselves inside a coffee shop they usually frequented. It was a decent and quiet place, and they usually used it for club meetings as well as for college activities. The two university girls each sipped a cup of creamy coffee, staring into their cups absentmindedly. It was a quiet, sunny morning, and Mary stared absentmindedly at the passing people outside the coffee shop.

?So, what?s your plan for today?? asked Mary. She looked at Renko who silently stared at her own coffee cup. After a long pause, Renko let out a big sigh.

?I don?t know,? said Renko. ?I?m still thinking about yesterday.? Renko?s mind was still spinning, trying to untangle to jumbled mess of thoughts from the events from yesterday.

?You?re still confused about Mizuuya?? asked Mary. ?Miss Satsuki did tell us to be careful, but it?s useless to worry about it to much.?

Renko winced. ?Oh yes, Mizuuya.? Renko was thinking about something else entirely. UCYC. Gensokyo. Ayakashi trains. Renko sighed again.

?Hmm?? Mary was puzzled by Renko?s unmotivated demeanor. ?You?re acting a little strange today.?

?Strange?? repeated Renko. ?I..I?m just not feeling well.?

Truth be told, Renko felt lethargic since morning. She didn?t feel like getting out of her bed, much less hang out in this quiet coffee shop. Her mind was still trying to sort out the jumbled mess of events from yesterday. Mizuuya, the girl who was held prisoner by a crime syndicate for years is now under their care. The responsibility is starting to weigh down on Renko, but this didn?t really bother her. Dr. Satsuki is very cautious, and Renko trusted the young doctor to handle the matters until Mizuuya is finally safe.

What bothered her was the other thing that happened last night. Renko met an agent of an underground organization of humans and youkai. She confirmed the existence of a place called Gensokyo. Heck, she confirmed that supernatural beings still existed in the present modern-day age; the Ayakashi train that almost digested them was proof enough.

Renko felt...disappointed. She was surprised by her discover, and was very happy about it. However, after the rush of adrenaline dies down, you start to realize something.

The supernatural is now a reality.

Renko learned a subtle truth; the charm of the paranormal is lost when the supernatural becomes a reality. The question, ?does it exist?? holds a charm onto its own. It?s like a gate that is never open, and the curious travelers can only guess what lies inside. However, when the gate opens and you finally see the answer, all of your guesses are vanquished in front of the naked truth. What comes next is disappointment, regardless of whether you guessed right or wrong. Until you find another mystery, the boredom will kill you.

She had read of such a situation before. Once, there was a great detective who possessed a staggering amount of deductive intelligence and logic. Every case he handled was solved perfectly without any mistakes. However, with each case he solved, the more he became engrossed in his work. He wanted more cryptic mysteries, more mind-boggling cases, to the point that a simple closed-room murder became child?s play into him. He dreamt of mysteries in his sleep, and cursed every free moment that he spent away from solving crime. Then came the day that he was wishing the complete opposite of what his occupation stood for; the detective wished that he would come across a murder so vile, so cryptic, so eccentric, that no sane man could ever solve it.

Renko wondered, would I become such a person? Would I be disillusioned of the world after I discover the illusionary world of youkai and spirits, the land of Gensokyo? Mary and Renko had spent most of their activities trying to prove the existence of this illusionary world: Gensokyo. They had gone ghost-hunting, grave hopping, and even done some weird spirit rituals to contact possible souls from Gensokyo. They were sure that Gensokyo existed; they only needed an evidence to prove it.

Now, Renko had all the answers at the tips of her fingertips. She only needed to hang around Kiyuu and Mizuuya, and surely something interesting would happen. However, Renko wondered, what would she want next? After solving the mysteries of the supernatural, what would she do next?

She?d never thought about it before, because frankly, she had doubts that they?d ever find a concrete evidence of the supernatural.

Renko sighed. Maybe I?m thinking about it too much. I guess, what comes next would come in its proper time. Damn it, I should be celebrating! If only there was a way to tell Mary...

Kiyuu?s spell on her was pretty strong. Any thought that led her to say anything about what Kiyuu told her on youkai, chounouryokusha, and their organization resulted in failure. She would be stricken dumb before any world left her lips. She could not tell anybody, heck, she couldn?t even write about it. Her head would hurt a little afterwards, like a petty reminder of her promise with the girl. The binding was too strong to resist by willpower alone.

At any rate, I want to talk to Kiyuu more about her organization. I might be able to coax more about Gensokyo from her.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


The man knocked on the door. Three loud knocks.

Bam. Bam. Bam.

There was no answer. The owner of the house was probably away. However, the man was too experienced to be fooled by such ploys. He was an experienced basher?the guy who gets his hands dirty on jobs like getting protection money, drugs, or even hitting people. Today?s job was collecting dues for Captain Ishikawa, his commanding officer. He had a long list that day, and he had ten more stops to make. His pockets were stuffed with a few thousand yen, and he expected to get at least a hundred thousand before the day was through.

The Katsugane group is an organization that deals in numerous enterprises. Legally, they are owners of many real estate lots in different cities, and their main business are hotels, casinos, and pubs. Bulk of the group?s ?clean? money comes from these ventures. The man?s boss holds at least three hotels in this city alone, guaranteeing a steady, taxable income to keep the government from pouncing on them.

However, the bulk of the Katsugane?s income comes from drugs and pornography. They had various ?studios? and ?laboratories? disguised as harmless convenience stores or manga shops that create the bulk of their income. Some of their money also comes from their ?clients?, or people who request protection from their group. In turn, their group sends some ?soldiers? to patrol the streets at night, driving away street punks and ?soldiers? from rival groups. They earn some money from loan sharks as well, but collection can be a pain.

A pain indeed, the man thought grimly. Collecting from delinquent loaners is messy. Most of the loaners are people at the brink of bankruptcy or homelessness, and he was expected to milk as much money from them. It made little sense to the man, but he wasn?t paid to think.

He knocked again, and threatened to break the door down. The neighborhood was quiet, even if it was almost noon. The people in the neighborhood knew him by face?The Collector. He always makes the rounds and the people in the area cower in fear every time he passes by. The Collector relished the moments whenever they groveled or squealed as he stomped around people?s houses, banging on their doors, smashing windows, or even torching some properties. There was never a police investigation?the Katsugane group owned the area. As such, the Collector had utter control over the residents.

He called the shots, and he liked it that way.

?Looking for someone?? said a female voice behind him.

The Collector turned around to see a small girl, barely a teenager, a few yards away. He growled at the question which was filled with arrogance and sarcasm,.

?Go home kid,? said the Collector. ?This ain?t your business.?

The girl started to walk towards him, and the Collector reached for the gun on his hip. ?I ain?t joking kid. This ain?t your playground.?

?From this point on, this area is under my jurisdiction,? said the girl with a calm voice, ignoring the Collector as he took out the pistol from his hip. ?My voice shall hold the truth, and everything within is bound by my will.?

The sky darkened. Clouds rolled over the sky and concealed the sun. A cold wind started to blow, and the Collector felt the hairs on his back tingle.

?Shut your trap, girl,? said the Collector. He pulled the gun and aimed it at the girl. ?Don?t you know who I am??

The girl stopped in her tracks. ?You are Aizawa, Michikito, age 44, unmarried. You are employed by the Ishikawa loaning firm, specializing in ?human relations? department. However, you are more commonly known as ?The Collector?.?

Her voice was cold and sharp, devoid of any softness that contrasted with her apparent youth.

The Collector was speechless at the girl?s words. So, the punk knows about me. Gives me more reason to ice her. What a waste, she looked cute and all. He pulled back the trigger...

...and the gun fired.

?Funny thing though,? said the girl. ?I even know your birthday.?

To the Collector?s surprise, the bullet halted a few feet away from the girl. It stopped perfectly in mid-air before it dropped to the ground with a gentle plink.

?What...??

?April 28, 1974,? said the girl in a nonchalant tone. She ignored the Collector?s question. ?You were born in a clinic in Nagoya. Your parents were visiting some friends when your mother suddenly went in labor.?

The Collector fired his gun again. And again. And again

It did the Collector no good. All of the bullets fared the same way, stopping mysteriously in mid-air before dropping one by one like flies against an electric trap. The Collector?s blood ran cold.

?What manner of being are you?? said the Collector with a trembling voice.

?You want to know your death date, Michikito?? answered the girl in the same calm voice. She ignored the Collector?s questions completely, and managed to give out a benign smile along with her own question.

Realization dawned on the Collector?s face. He?d heard stories of his ?co-workers? about a serial killer targeting their group. The killer managed to pick them out one-by-one, or kill them en masse without much problem.

?Are...you...Shima...?? said the Collector. ?Impossible?you?re just a girl!?

The girl chuckled, breaking her calm, collected demeanor. ?Hoh, you?re a smart one. Is that a wild guess or an honest hypothesis?? She started to walk along the street in a leisurely pace. ?I was supposed to kill you, but I changed my mind. Why don?t you take a walk with me??

Damn, thought the Collector. I?m dead if I don?t run away! The girl?s back was turned and the Collector took a tentative step backward. He was thinking of taking his chances and run, but the girl spoke up before he could get muster the nerve.

?Come on,? said the girl. ?I?m in a bit of a hurry. Tight schedule and all, you know. Usual business.?

The Collector felt his legs shudder. Every fiber of his being wanted to run, but something in the girl?s calm, nonchalant voice told him that it was a bad idea. The Collector is a veteran. If the girl wanted to kill him, he knew that he?d have no chance. His gun was useless, and the girl appeared out of nowhere and knew who he was. If he ran, she?d find him again.

If she was really Shima, he?s dead anyway.

Well, if she?s just playing around with me, I might as well play along and find out what the girl wants. Maybe cut a deal or something. The Collector?s mind was racing with contingencies.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


?So, you suspect that there are more underground activities than what we have originally guessed?? asked the woman, her head still buried between the pages of the local newspaper.

?Probably. One of our local agents has reported that they have a possible youkai in their custody,? said the man in front of her.

The two of them were inside a clean office, the woman?s office, spending the morning like they usually do. It was one of the smaller offices of the Underground Coalition of Youkai and Chounouryokushas, or UCYC. It was cleverly disguised as a private investigator?s office, which is actually a sideline aside from their real job: tracking down youkai and humans with special abilities.

?Which agent are you talking about?? asked the woman. She looked like she was in her mid-twenties, but the man in front of her knew better. Her name was ?Mayuko?, but the man didn?t know if that was her real name. Agents of the UCYC are very secretive, and only a select few knew of their existence.

?Agent 21,? said the man. ?Along with Agents 2A and 2B.?

Mayuko raised her head from the newspapers. ?Those three? I haven?t heard anything from them since two years ago.?

?They contacted one of our informants using a heavily coded message. If I recall correctly, it was Agent 2A who contacted us under orders from 21,? explained the man. His name was Mataro, a paid agent by the UCYC, and one of the few humans in service to the organization who is not actually a part of it. He is a trusted agent, and has sworn the Oath of Utmost Secrecy to the UCYC in exchange for payment for his services. Unlike the other humans in service to the UCYC, Mataro is completely normal. He has no trace of youkai blood, or even the slightest hint that he was a chounouryokusha.

?Orders,? said Mayuko. ?I want you to check on them. Rendezvous with the contacted agent and if possible, track the three agents. Then report back to me immediately.?  Mataro nodded and left the office and stepped into the busy sidewalk outside.

Mataro checked his notes and started walking to the nearest train station.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Maya and Takino were not talking.

The both of them decided not to, for peace of mind. They both arrived at ten o?clock sharp at the city riverbank, and have been asking people around if they saw a little girl in the area. To Takino?s surprise, most people around the area were elderly, though they sometimes spotted young teenagers walking in pairs.

?Seems like this is a popular spot,? observed Maya. ?This should make our work easier.? She looked around the riverbank and watched a handful of old men talking vibrantly about fishing.

Takino only grunted a reply. He was of little use to this expedition, of course. He wasn?t an interrogator, or a seasoned investigator. He couldn?t ask for directions if he wanted to, his sharp look and cold, rough voice easily scared most of the people. As such, Maya took it upon herself to look for traces of the girl. She went around asking questions, like if they saw anything strange a few nights ago, or if they saw a girl wandering about.

Maya had a copy of the Kintsuchi?s picture. The Kintsuchi, despite it?s name, is actually a person. Maya didn?t ask Takino his reasons for finding the girl, but she couldn?t suppress her own curiosites about the whole affair.

Why is Takino looking for such a young girl? From what she looks like, Maya guesses that the Kintsuchi is no more than twelve years of age.

At least give me a name, thought Maya.

Takino was mum about the girl. He wasn?t inclined on telling Maya anything, especially what the Kintsuchi can do. He decided that it would be better off if Maya didn?t know anything. Besides, professionalism comes first, and professionals only work in a need-to-know basis. Work turns out cleaner that way.

An hour later, they found an old man who recalled seeing two young ladies in the riverbank a few nights ago.

?They drove away the people from the riverbank and made some fuss. Nobody bothered to report them to the police though,? said the old man. ?I don?t know anything about your girl, but driving away people from a public place is pretty strange to me.?

Maya and Takino glanced at each other. They had another lead to follow, and the Kintsuchi?s trail was becoming wider.

(Next: Chapter 9)


Whoa, reborn!

After 2 months of procrastination of writer's block, I finally found the courage to write again. :3

Maybe I'm not really cut out for writing, but I'm too stubborn to stop. :P

Anunsew

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Worldly Affairs of the Outside World Chapter 9~ (December 26, 2011)
« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2011, 09:32:56 AM »
Chapter 9


There was slaughter to be done, and Shima was itching to get to her next target. She heard the fumbling fool behind her, his footsteps echoing hard on the pavement in the empty street. They were in the shopping district, but it was unusually deserted, especially for a weekend.

?So...er, Shima,? said the Collector. ?What do you want from me??

The girl continued walking past the empty shops. She threw some glances at the wares, but she wasn?t interested with the wares of the local groceries and commodities?she looked at them due to pure curiousity.

Aizawa, commonly known as Katsugane?s Collector, walked as casually as he could behind the girl. For the past few minutes, he thought of bolting away from the girl as fast as he can. However, he considered that Shima could probably find him again if she wanted, and running away might put the...er, girl in a bad mood.

Then again, Aizawa wasn?t entirely sure that the girl was indeed Shima. The girl did not openly declare herself as the serial murderer, but she wasn?t exactly normal either. Stopping bullets in midair is unheard of (discounting TV shows, of course), even in the present technological age. What did she use? Voodoo? Charms? Magic?

If they were in Aizawa?s situation, most people would think that they were going nuts by now. However, the supernatural wasn?t really at all unfamiliar to the Collector. He?d lived long enough to see enough?although there are many things he couldn?t explain with science or down-to-earth sense.

Shima is not an ordinary human, thought Aizawa. Heck, she couldn?t be if she killed more than a dozen people single-handedly.

But...stopping bullets in midair...Maybe she is a?

Aizawa shook his head. I must be going nuts, he thought nervously. I can't run, and even if I could, I?m way past the point of no return. No, its better that I hang around where I can see her. I can report to my superiors later, and f? them if they don?t believe a word I say.

If I play my cards properly, maybe I can turn Shima, if she really is Shima, into a potential ally.

Aizawa was suddenly thinking of how the Katsugane bosses would treat him if they knew that he was walking beside Shima right now. The knowledge that the serial killer they?ve been hunting for was just a little girl would shame them to devastation. If Aizawa can bring Shima to his side, then...

If Aizawa could see Shima?s face, the Collector would have been very much disturbed to see the young girl?s twisted smile.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


?What is the meaning of this, kana??

The girl gave her companion a quizzical look. Her companion's only reply was a shrug.

They were standing atop the roof of the penthouse suite of a nearby hotel. They watched the horizon around them like they were ordered to. Their inhuman eyes pierced the heights and distances of the city, and from their position, they can pretty much see most of the city.

In the distance, they saw Shima, their Master, walking with a marked prey, a Katsugane thug.

?What is Master doing, kana?? asked the girl. ?Why is she not killing the scum, kana????

Her companion shrugged again. ?It is not our place to predict our Master?s designs. Already I am confused by her recent...decisions.?

The first girl pouted angrily. ?If it was me, I would have ripped that scum apart to shreds already. I think Master is losing her nerve??

Before the first girl could finish her sentence, her companion threw her a very sharp look that froze the words inside her mouth.

?You do not speak of Master in such a way, in such a tone, Kou.? The words were cold and direct, but the seething rage underneath was unmistakable. ?If you do not wish to incur our Master?s wrath, you would do well to keep your mouth and thoughts in check.?

Kou decided to keep her thoughts to herself. She decided to change the subject instead. ?En, where is Sister Emi anyway, kana? She?s hasn?t been around lately, and she hasn?t reported to neither Sister Aiki nor Sister Shiku for the past few days.?

The second girl, or known as En, shrugged for the third time. ?Sister Emi has been acting strange lately. She seems to be doing something on her own, but we shouldn?t meddle with her. Sister Emi and Master have a strange understanding, and Sister Emi may be doing another assignment besides gathering souls from this city.?

Finishing her last statement, En turned her full attention to their Master as she walked in the shopping district with the Katsugane?s Collector.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Mayuko sniffed.

The smell of lights, prestige, and fame always disgusted her. However, it was a necessary precaution in the changing times. Up ahead of her, Mayuko saw the studio of the Eastern Sunrise Network and grimaced. She generally hated going to the place, but it was also necessary.

A guard hailed Mayuko?s car by the gate and asked for some identification. Mayuko flashed her card which displayed ?Suzuki Mayuko? in front, along with a two by two portrait of her smiling face. The guard flashed a greeting and a smile, and lifted the metal bar in front of her car. Mayuko put away her ID and drove into the studio?s parking area.

Moments later, she was walking down the marble hallways of the studio. She was occasionally greeted by some acquaintances, people that Mayuko did not really recognize. The place was always bustling with people, and Mayuko had to deftly dodge through the crowd of bustling humans as they went with their business.

?Roll the cameras,? she heard one of the floor managers declare loudly. ?Midday news is now on-air.?

Eastern Sunrise Network is a humble TV network of no small fame. While it did enjoy national coverage like its heavier counterparts, it was generally acknowledged as a small-time network. They covered news, variety shows, and reruns of old box office hits. They also have a variety of soap operas, as well as vintage episodes of Doraemon and Maruko-chan. They were a cookie-cutter network, but they are a well-known steppingstone for local journalists and aspiring actors before going for the big national TV networks.

?Ms. Suzuki! It?s so nice to see you.? Mayuko turned to see a young woman wave at her as she passed by. She waved back and flashed a smile but did not say anything in reply. She continued walking and eventually reached an open elevator. She punched the buttons for the top floor.

She was alone in the elevator and felt relief. She really didn?t like crowds but she knew the necessity. Mayuko?s job with the ESN was of the most utter importance. Officially, she was a journalist for the network, specializing on public affairs and criminal news. Her ?job? required her to be in touch with the police and write proper news reports before feeding them to the news anchors. As such, she was well respected by her colleagues, and much is expected of her by the TV network executives.

The elevator pinged at the top floor, and Mayuko walked out of the opening door. In stark contrast to the tumult of people in the floors below, the top floor office of ESN was nearly deserted. Only a select few are allowed to step inside the hallowed halls of the Network Chairman?s office.

Mayuko was greeted by a secretary behind a receptionist?s desk. ?Can I help you, Ms. Suzuki??

Mayuko coughed twice before answering, and the secretary visibly tensed. ?I have a scheduled coffee break with the Chairman.?

The secretary?s face flushed, but she nodded like she was trained to do. ?You seem to have a bad cough, Miss Suzuki.?

?I got it from my neighbor,? Mayuko answered with a snort.

?Bad neighbors?? asked the secretary with a nervous smile.

?No, the good ones,? Mayuko told her.

The secretary relaxed and punched a button beneath her desk. ?The Chairman will see you shortly, Ms. Suzuki.?


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Her codename was Agent 2B. If the UCYC was military, she would be equivalent to a Captain; and if she was still in service, she would be commanding her own company in enemy territory. Reality is harsher, however. While she still has her rank, she is no longer a regular unit of the UCYC. She has no troops; she only has her wits, and her trusty dagger. UCYC wasn?t military; retired agents like her don?t get any benefits.

Her combat gear wasn?t very impressive either. She wore a flannel jacket with long sleeves, a weird fashion choice, but not unusual. She also wore a black skirt, paired with striped stockings and one-inch heels. She also wore a green beret and purple spectacles. She chewed pink bubble gum. To a normal bystander, she?d look the part of a [i[fashionista[/i] or a cosplayer. She carried herself with an air of elite finesse. Not a few heads turned when she passed by.

2B recounted her briefing with Agent 21 and Agent 2A. Surveillance and espionage is not really her specialty, but her colleagues had other problems. Agent 21, 2B?s ultimate superior, is expecting problems with the enemy territory. Despite her retired status, 2B still respected 21?s decisions and commands. When 21 commanded her to infiltrate the Katsugane territories, she didn?t say anything in reply.

Now, an hour later, she?s walking in clothes she disliked wearing, in an avenue she never frequented, acting like a girl she wasn?t. She easily stood out in the crowd, and 2B knew that she can be easily spotted. It was like she was walking in an armed camp carrying a bull?s eye. The street bums and delinquents stared at her like she didn?t belong. 2B liked it.

The avenue was one of the seedier districts of the city. It was a former commercial district whose tenants underwent series of financial bankruptcies. Barred windows and doors greeted 2B, along with the whistles and hoots of the street bums and bystanders.

A sleazy guy ahead caught 2B?s attention. The guy was middle-aged, thin, with a thick moustache and a bristling beard. He carried a lit cigarette and blew smoke rings while leaning on a lamp post. The guy turned his head when he saw 2B pass by.

2B instantly noted that the guy wore a golden wristwatch and not a few gold and silver rings. 2B knew that she found her man. Now...if she could just hook him...

?Hey, cute kids like you shouldn?t be around here,? said the guy. ?You?re looking for a good time??

...that was easy, thought 2B. Too easy for comfort, but 2B was thankful she didn?t have to start the conversation. Still, she ought not to let her guard down.

?You?ve got some ?goods??? asked 2B in a low voice, looking around suspiciously.

The guy shrugged. ?Don?t know what you?re talking about, sweetie pie,? the guy said with a knowing smile. He threw his arms open, as if in resignation.

With surprising dexterity, 2B produced a 5000 yen note. The guy instantly snatched the bills from her hand.

?Nice paper, toots,? said the sleazebag. ?You look like you?re packed.?

2B gave her best scowl in acting. In truth, she was actually nervous. The first contact with the enemy was always the most risky and bloody, though 2B preferred not to think about it. ?Just show me the goods. My boss ain?t waiting.?

?Boss huh?? said the guy. ?Come on sweetcakes, you?ve got to do better than tha??

Before the guy could finish his sentence, he found that he was suddenly staring at the point of 2B?s dagger. ?I have no time for games. Show me the goods, or the deal is off,? said 2B in a menacing growl that belied her apparent youth. ?And like my boss, I hate waiting.?

Footsteps behind her told 2B to put the dagger down. She felt a strong hand on her shoulder. Before she could resist, she was suddenly pulled her away from the sleazebag. The hand belonged to a muscled man with a slight tan. Probably Okinawan, 2B guessed.

?Stop play?n the customers, you darn fool,? said the muscled man with a gruff voice. 2B noted the slight accent. ?If I had the rank, I would?ve cut you m?self.?

2B didn't really want to threaten the sleazebag, but she knew that she had to prove that she's no pushover. However, 2B was also careful not to cross the line of tease and threat. 2B was thankful for her psychological training in UCYC's Net.

The sleazy guy shrugged. ?Just playing with the sweetie pie, no harm done.? He looked nervously at 2B?s blade. ?Not yet anyway. You?re one pretty hothead.?

The muscled guy gave an angry growl. ?Fine, I?m going,? said the sleazebag. ?Follow me toots.?

The sleazy guy led her to a series of dark alleys. 2B counted the turns, memorizing them to heart. She noted the buildings and saw that some of the barred windows look like they were broken into. She knew that the buildings in this area belonged to the Katsugane, in spirit, if not by law. 2B didn?t doubt for a moment that pairs of eyes are looking at her at that moment. 2B sighed and concentrated in maintaining her steel face and cold demeanor.

?Here we are, toots,? said the guy.

He led her to a battered door. The guy opened it and led her to a brightly-lit chamber. The room was dirty and untidy, despicable to 2B?s tastes, but it served its purpose.

Moments later, another man came into the room. 2B smiled grimly.

Enemy infiltrated.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Maribel and Renko decided to spend the better part of the day at the Satsuki Clinic. Mary was surprised at Renko?s passive demeanor, and for once she did not say a sentence with the words ?spirit?, ?youkai?, or ?Gensokyo? throughout the morning. Mary was a bit troubled by it, but Renko was avoidant when she asked about it.

?I think I got the cold this morning,? Renko would say. ?My head is a bit sluggish.? She would then sniff dramatically and sigh.

They arrived at the Satsuki Clinic slightly before noon.

Renko was the first one to notice that neither Kiyuu nor Meimu was at the lobby, and Mizuuya was nowhere to be seen. Rin was waving off a patient, an elderly woman in her sixties, when she noticed the two. She immediately invited the two to her office. There they found Mizuuya, silently reading a thick book. It was a comical sight, looking at Mizuuya while she read a book whose thickness was easily twice her arm?s width.

?She seems to be recovering quite well,? observed Renko. Mizuuya heard her and timidly smiled and waved at the two before going back to her book.

Rin nodded with a chuckle. ?Yes indeed. She seems to have grown friendly with my two girls as well. I keep her away from my patients, so she mostly stays here in my office, if not at the back rooms. She seems to be adapting well, though I try not to stimulate her too much. She?s really a strong child, especially from what she?s been through.?

?Hmm, where?s Kiyuu and Meimu?? asked Maribel. ?Are they away??

?Those two are doing the groceries. Since I have to stay here in the clinic for my patients, those two mind the domestic chores and keep things running smoothly for the clinic.? Rin brightened up. ?I haven?t had our lunch yet. Do you two girls care to join us??

Lunch turned out to be pork katsudon, some soup, and stir-fry veggies at the common room of the clinic?s annex. Rin served the rice in wooden bowls and gave them individual servings of the viands. Mizuuya ate with them, and helped Rin serve the dishes to the guests.

?This is delicious,? said Maribel after taking her first bite of the katsudon. ?Did you make this, Miss Satsuki??

?Call me Rin,? chided the young doctor. ?And no, Meimu cooked it this morning. I?m an average cook, but Meimu is amazing in the kitchen.?

Renko ate quietly, immersed in her thoughts as well as half-listening to Maribel and Rin?s exchange. Without thinking, she suddenly blurted out, ?How did they come to be in this clinic??

She was deftly answered by queer looks by everyone on the table. Renko blushed at her outburst. ?Sorry, I was just wondering how Meimu and Kiyuu came to be a doctor?s assistant. You three don?t look at all related.?

?Oh, that. It?s actually a long story. I adopted Kiyuu and Meimu from an organization that takes care of abandoned children and orphans.?

Maribel nodded in understanding, but Renko?s instincts tingled at the word ?organization?. She remembered Kiyuu?s stories about the UCYC, an organization dealing with superhumans and youkai. Renko grimaced.

Such a tricky lot, thought Renko. There was little doubt in Renko?s mind that Rin and Meimu knew about Kiyuu?s secret power and her involvement in the organization. Still, a doubt is a doubt, and she couldn?t be sure about Rin and Meimu unless they reveal themselves explicitly like what happened with Kiyuu and the Ayakashi Express.

She wanted to blurt out and demand details from Rin, but she suddenly felt the familiar sensation rising within her. Knowing that trying to fight against Kiyuu?s promise is futile, she decided against it and decided to play along with Rin?s story.

?Organization? Like the UNICEF?? asked Renko with feigned curiosity.

?Kind of like that, but nothing fancy,? replied Rin. ?It?s actually a local organization. It?s a charity, actually, which takes care of children with special abilities.?

Renko almost choked on her rice as she heard Rin?s answer. She looked at Rin?s smiling face as she told her answer. For a moment, Renko thought that Rin?s eyes were twinkling. Suddenly, the young doctor caught Renko?s gaze and their eyes locked for a moment.

Rin nodded at her and winked. Renko swallowed hard, and nearly choked again on her latest mouthful.

?Special abilities? They?re geniuses?? asked Maribel.

Rin shrugged. ?Not so much that you?d notice, but mostly children with special talents, like those with special interests in arts and academics. Kiyuu and Meimu are pretty average, though they do pretty well in their classes.?

Their conversation immediately turned to small talk, and left Renko in even more deep thought.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


?So, how much do you know?? asked Rin in a sharp voice.

The sharp question caught Renko unawares, and she nearly dropped the stack of plate she was holding. The two of them were alone in the kitchen. Renko was helping Rin put away the dishes as Maribel tucked Mizuuya for her afternoon nap.

?Er...pardon?? said Renko nervously.

?You were marked by Kiyuu. You have a First-degree Truth Blocker in your body. I attenuated the seal earlier so you can talk to me properly.?

Renko was silent, thinking of her options and what to say. ?I...uh...know about the UCYC and about the youkai and chou...cho...whatever they are.?

?Chounouryokusha, or espers and superhumans as science liked to call them in fictions and stories,? replied Rin. ?Put this on that rack, will you?? She pointed at the newly washed cups and started doing the bowls.

?What do you mean by a ?Truth Blocker??? asked Renko. ?Is that a kind of spell??

?It?s a seal. It?s a dynamic seal that detects your desire to reveal the truth. It is employed by priests in the old days to employ secrecy among their followers. Whenever it detects your desire to reveal a truth, it will activate and hamper your thinking and senses. It is nearly infallible since the desire for truth is one of the purest human desire,? said Rin. ?However, a person of the same aptitude as of the caster of the seal can easily alter or destroy it, so it did not have much use outside of very private orders of priesthood. As you have witnessed, I altered Kiyuu?s seal to add me as an exception.?

?So...you are a superhuman then?? asked Renko. ?Like Kiyuu??

?Probably,? said Rin with an enigmatic smile. ?Tell me, why did Kiyuu tell you of our organization? It is strictly forbidden for any member to reveal details to unauthorized people like civilians.?

Sighing, Renko shared the details of the night before. She explained that she was caught inside a youkai train with Kiyuu, which Kiyuu named as ?Ayakashi Express No. 666.?

?A youkai attack? In a public place like a train station, that is most unusual,? said Rin thoughtfully as she finished the bowls. ?Please, do continue.?

Renko nodded and continued her story about discovering that they were about to be digested by the youkai when Kiyuu did a ?weird spell? that helped them escape.

?A spell?? asked Rin. She finished the last bowl and sighed. ?Kiyuu would kill you if she ever heard you call it that. Anyway, it seems that she saved you from being eaten, but it still doesn?t excuse her from telling you about our organization.?

After hearing Rin?s last statement, Renko felt her skin crawl. ?I...uh...what are you going to do with me now??

Are they going to force me to keep quiet? Through violence, perhaps?

Or maybe they?ll use an amnesia-inducing drug?


?You? Heavens, nothing,? laughed Rin. ?With the Truth Blocker in your system, you can?t talk about what you know to ordinary people. Perhaps you?ve tried to tell your friend about it??

Renko answered with a slight nod. ?I...can?t seem to get the words out whenever I try.?

?That?s how it?s supposed to work,? said Rin in a satisfied tone.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Gakito Fukuyama, the courier, could not get any sleep. He was on his umpteenth bottle, but he really didn?t give a damn. The past few days were hellish, and sleep was torture. He wanted to drown in blissful stupor, and tried his best to fall drunk and senseless.

For if he wasn?t, the nightmares would always return. The hooded figure, the inhuman voice, the awful screams of the dying...Fukuyama would then wake up screaming.

He hadn?t left his house since his last report. It was only a few days, but it felt like years. Stacks of unwashed dishes were piled on his sink, and the molds flourished inside his rice cooker. Newspapers were piled behind his door, unread and unopened.

Fukuyama took another gulp, waiting for the stupor to come. It was almost dreadfully exciting. Would sleep come in this bottle? Would I dream of the horrors again? Would I ever wake up?

His eyes rolled around the room, which was now merely a blunder of colors to him. His eyes were unfocused and he wished for sleep to come sooner.

As soon as he did so, an instinctive urge overcame him. He suddenly doubled up and vomited.

?Sheesh, you look like a mess,? said a voice.

Wiping his mouth with his sleeves, Fukuyama looked around in search of the voice. He knew he locked the door...or did he? The past few days had been such a blur...

?Here let me hold that for you,? said the same voice. Fukuyama felt the bottle of strong brandy leave his grasp. He stupidly groped for it, only squeezing air in the process.

?Whoa buster, I think you had enough,? the voice told him. ?I think I need to wake you up.?

Fukuyama?s reasoning was still slow from the copious amount of liquor he imbibed. However, he was pretty sure that he was supposed to be alone in this house. How did she...(Fukuyama was partly sure that the voice belonged to a girl)...get it?

Suddenly, a cold wave coursed throughout his body as he felt ice cold water splashing on him. ?There, you awake now??

Dripping wet and coughing from the suddenness of the attack, Fukuyama wiped his eyes. As his eyes regained their focus, and as his drunkenness began to leave him, he saw his visitor?s face for the first time.

?Good day to you. My name is Emi,? she told Fukuyama.


(next: Chapter 10)

Anunsew

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Worldly Affairs of the Outside World Chapter 10~ (February 3, 2012)
« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2012, 02:02:50 AM »
Chapter 10


Despite being the chairman of the ESN, only a few people have seen the Chairman?s face. The Chairman had been aloof with social affairs and occasions. In the event that the Chairman?s presence is needed, the affair would always be hushed and private.

It?s not that the Chairman is reclusive; it?s the fact that the Chairman?s presence can be quite...unsettling for most people. Mayuko has known the Chairman for a long time, and she alone can boast that she had known the Chairman longer than anybody else. Normal people found the Chairman?s presence unbearable, though most people couldn?t explain it.

Mayuko knew why.

?Ako,? a feminine voice called out as Mayuko pushed the Chairman?s door open. She was greeted by the sight of a young woman in a black suit sitting behind a glass desk.

?It?s Mayuko,? she answered. ?I?ve changed my call name a few decades ago.?

The young woman nodded. ?Mayuko. I?ll have to remember that.? She closed her eyes as she tried to imprint the name into her memory. ?So, what brings you here??

?Accuracy Judgement has reported in, along with her companions Vector Boundary and Space Collapse,? said Mayuko with nonchalance. She pulled a nearby chair and pulled out a small envelope from her pocket. She sat down as she handed the brown letter to the young woman.

?From Accuracy Judgement?? she asked Mayuko as she deftly opened the envelope. Unfolding the letter inside, she read it with keen interest, though she matched Mayuko?s nonchalant expression. ?It?s a while since I?ve heard from 21 and 2A. And I?m beginning to miss 2B?s tea parties as well.?

?Chairman, they seem to have a half-youkai in their custody. It is imperative that we rendezvous with them immediately,? said Mayuko. ?I?ve arranged for a meeting with the contacted agent, the Antique Shop Owners.?

The young woman nodded. ?I see that everything is in order. How about the Katsugane??

?They don?t seem to know about 21?s movements, and they seem to be having other problems lately. It would seem that the Kintsuchi is missing, 21 suspects that the half-youkai in their custody...?

?Metallurgy Touch?? the young woman asked in an enigmatic tone. ?So, those foolish humans and half-bloods messed up and lost their toy. Good for us, I guess.?

?Unfortunately, this leads us to another problem, Miss Chairman,? Mayuko continued. ?Shima.?

?The rogue youkai??

Mayuko nodded. ?We haven?t found much about her, and it is a her from our reports, no matter what other sources say. She?s probably youkai, from how she disposes the bodies. The butchery is just a distraction; Shima literally eats her victim?s souls. From what I?ve seen from the morgue, the body did not have an ounce of spiritual power left in them.?

?Probably youkai?? The Chairman stressed the first word.

?We aren?t sure yet,? answered Mayuko sheepishly. ?The local police are snooping around, and we can?t be overtly sniffy about it until they officially release their files. Unless you want me to sniff more seriously...? she added the last statement with a wince directed at the young woman.

The young woman answered with a sigh. ?You know, sometimes I ask myself why I?m still the Chairman. If I was as smart as 21, I would have given you the position half a century ago.?

?UCYC duties getting to you again?? asked Mayuko with a smile. Her demeanor turned brighter. ?You know, being the Chairman means you?re not the one spending restless nights hunting for rogue youkai.?

The Chairman chuckled at the statement. ?Well, I?m the one spending restless nights thinking how to cover our operations.? Her expression became darker. ?The Katsugane must be routed. The world of humans and youkai must be protected from each other, no matter what the cost.?

Mayuko raised an eyebrow at the order. ?But the rogue youkai Shima is already doing that for us. And Accuracy Marker and her gang are also doing their undercover work.?

?And that?s the reason why the world of humans and our species must be protected from each other,? said the Chairman in a heavy voice. ?I want the Shima problem controlled as soon as possible. The Katsugane is already Agent 21?s problem.?


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


?Do I look pretty?? asked Shima. She gave Aizawa a sweet smile as came out of the dressing room.

The question took the middle-aged man aback. Shima?s smile disappeared and was replaced with a sharp, disdainful look. ?Old men are all the same, no imagination,? she said spitefully at Aizawa.

They were at the female clothes? department, something which Aizawa took unexpectedly. Shima acted like an ordinary girl throughout their trip in the shopping district, and Aizawa began doubting whether the girl is indeed the serial killer Shima.

?That?s a lovely dress, miss,? said a nearby salesgirl. Shima scoffed at the generic compliment and withdrew back inside the dressing room.

?You?ve got a pretty daughter there, mister,? said the salesgirl. Aizawa nearly choked at the salesgirl?s observation, but he bit down any further comment. What is Shima playing at? Aizawa wondered.

Moments later, Shima stepped out of the waiting room carrying a bundle of clothes. ?I?ll take them,? said Shima in a cheery voice.

Aizawa did not speak a word as they checked out of the cashier and stepped into the busy avenue outside the clothes shop. He knotted his forehead as Shima took the lead again, walking through the crowd and nearly disappearing at the next street corner.

For a moment, the Collector thought about running away, but curiosity got the better of him. He still had no closure about the Shima business, and he wanted to assure himself that the girl wasn?t playing him for a fool. Aizawa bit his lip as he remembered about the curious cat proverb, but he proceeded to follow Shima without another word.

Minutes later, Aizawa noticed that they were leaving the shopping district. As a matter of fact, Aizawa observed that Shima was following a path to a certain destination that the Collector did not like at all.

Small-time motels, drinking bars, and other seedy establishments littered the streets. There were some punks huddling in some alley, but they paid the Collector little heed. It was early afternoon and the streets are almost practically empty, though Aizawa knew that is bound to change when the night arrives.

Aizawa brows furrowed as they delved deeper into the heart of the Red Light district. He hastened his pace to keep up with Shima.

?What...are we doing here??

Shima stopped dead in her tracks and turned around. Her face was an emotionless mask, a stark contrast to the cheerful demeanor she had when they were shopping.

?Don?t talk and do everything I say. If you disobey, I?ll rip you apart,? said Shima in cold, monotonous voice. Aizawa was speechless and he could barely give an affirming nod. He felt like he was being strangled, and staring into Shima?s black eyes felt like he was falling into a dark, bottomless abyss.

?Now, let?s see,? said Shima in a more cheerful tone, jarring Aizawa with her two-faced demeanor. ?It should be around here somewhere...?

Shima brightened as he saw a red building at the next corner. She raised her gloved hands and gestured at Aizawa to follow. ?You know that building, right??

Aizawa answered with a nod.

?That building belongs to a guy I really hate, a scum you know as Kurodo Sasaki. He employs a handful of enjou kousai, and I find that really, really annoying. He also has some...valuable merchandise in there, which I want,? Shima told him, her voice was terse and tense. ?We?re going in there and tell the receptionist that you want to talk to Sasaki, and introduce me to him. My name would be...? Shima paused for a moment. ?...Kagami.?

Aizawa nodded, but he was tense with anticipation at seeing Shima at work. He held little remorse for the people inside the building, and he didn?t personally like Sasaki either. Maybe he should be a little more considerate, Aizawa thought in retrospect, since Sasaki is still a Katsugane group member, therefore a colleague.

Still, Aizawa knew he had no chance of survival if he blows the whistle and warn everybody off. He didn?t feel like being heroic anytime soon, and he certainly felt no loyal obligation for the likes of Sasaki. He was a Collector, an honorable job compared to white slavery, especially with minors.

However, one thing still bothered him.

?Why use me to get inside? Can?t you get in by force?? asked Aizawa.

Shima paused, trying to think of her answer before talking. ?Because killing people bores me. I like to play with my food first,? she said enigmatically, her face becoming blank like before. ?Also, the bastard might escape while I?m busy killing everyone,? she added as if as an afterthought. Aizawa looked gave her a puzzled look which Shima pointedly ignored.

?Anyway, blow the whistle, and you?ll be the first one to die.? She raised a gloved finger to emphasize her statement. ?This finger will go through your heart in a beat.?

The Collector shrugged her off, but inwardly he was quite anxious. He definitely didn?t want the girl?s finger piercing her heart, and he didn?t doubt for a moment that she can do what she says, no matter how inhumane her statement might be. Still, the fact that Shima needed him means that he gets to live for a while longer.

Maybe, if I prove useful, I can get her on my side, Aizawa thought.

Moments later, the two of them were stepping inside shady motel and were greeted by short-nosed receptionist. He was a pudgy man who immediately recognized Aizawa as he stepped in. ?Mister Aizawa! It?s a surprise to see you here...? he said in an annoyingly nasal voice.

The pudgy receptionist?s eyes turned towards Shima who was standing silently beside Aizawa. Aizawa?s eyes flitted towards the girl who answered with a nod. A lone guard was at the entrance, watching the whole exchange lazily. Shima glanced at the guard?s direction and whispered in a low voice.

?One.?

Aizawa didn?t hear her, of course. Shima already told him what he needed to do. He cleared his throat pointedly, as if he was trying to touch base with a business proposition.

?I want to meet with Sasaki,? said Aizawa in even tones. He was tense, but he was also a veteran in dealing with people. ?I want to introduce this girl to him. Her name is Kagami, and I believe Sasaki would be very interested in having her.?

Giving the girl a keen look, the pudgy receptionist gave out a snort. ?Kagami, eh? She looks pretty skinny, don?t you think? She doesn?t even look legit to me,? he said in a very factual tone. ?Then again, some people like them young. I guess she?ll do.?

The receptionist grabbed a phone underneath his bare desk and punched a button. ?Mr. Sasaki, you have a visitor waiting at the entrance.?

The receptionist was soon engrossed in an exchange with the phone, ending with inarticulate nods and gestures that looked almost comical.

?Oh yeah, can you hold this bag for me for a while?? Shima suddenly asked from Aizawa. She held the paper bag containing the clothes she bought from the store earlier, something that still puzzled Aizawa to no end. Seeing no reason to refuse, Aizawa took the bag from Shima?s grasp.

Shima gave him a sweet smile, and Aizawa nearly choked at the sight. Despite whom she claims to be, Shima looked like a normal, innocent young girl. She even dressed the part, though Aizawa barely noticed that. Shima indeed look thin and young, and Aizawa was thinking of amending the description of ?teenager? to ?middle-schooler?. Shima even wore white, arm-length gloves, accentuating her youthful look and stature.

?Sasaki would see you now. Room 402,? said the receptionist, putting the down the receiver. ?Just give him a knock.?

Answering only with a nod, Aizawa and Shima stepped into the interior of the motel.   


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


While the lobby of the motel was fairly nondescript, the interior was convoluted and crowded with broken furniture and ill-placed pottery. Potted plants lined the corridors at odd intervals, but the choice design was poor as it only served to eat up valuable corridor space. The corridors were lined with maroon wallpapers, although they have obviously seen better days. The lighting was sparse, and Aizawa nearly tripped a couple of times on the numerous broken chairs and tables that were lying idly around.

All in all, Aizawa did not like the place. Spending most of his time in the worse parts of the city, like the slums, he was no stranger to disorganization. However, the fact that a business establishment (if it can be called like that) is maintained so poorly really disgusted the Collector. What it was used for only accentuated his disgust even more.

From some of the doors, Aizawa could hear some groans and moans; indeed, Aizawa had little doubt what this building is for.

Shima pushed a button at the elevator with a gloved hand. The doors slid open with a metallic thud, and the two of them stepped inside without another word.

Aizawa wanted to ask what Shima?s plan is, but he was explicitly ordered by the girl not to talk unless necessary. The Collector decided that he would see what the girl is planning soon enough.

Moments later, they were standing in front of a wooden door. Unlike the floors below, this floor was carpeted and neatly organized. The doors were adorned with gold-trimmed labels, the one in front of them telling them ?402?.

?VIP Floor, huh?? mumbled Shima to herself. She looked around and four bystanders loitering around.

?Huh, four more,? she mumbled. She took a deep breath and nudged Aizawa at the ribs. ?Knock.?

Aizawa nodded and did as he was told.


★~//~//~//~//~//~//~★


Agent 2B knew that something bad happened. The way the man at the other side of the table was looking at him told her that she slipped up.

?So, you?re telling me that Hikari?s courier?? said the man. He looked at the slab of cash on the table and seemed to be deep in thought.

?That?s right,? said 2B in a calm tone. She was tense, but she can?t afford to show any weakness.

Minutes ago, 2B was introduced to a man named Houjiro, the man sitting across him. He was a known drug pusher, and one of the captains of the Katsugane. She was supposed to buy drugs, but that was just her cover. She was told to use the opportunity to befriend the Katsugane and try to milk out some information from them.

However, the mention of Hikari drove the deal into a very sour path. 2B visibly saw Houjiro?s face darken when he heard the name, and 2B knew that her cover was blown.

?Hmm.? Houjiro sighed. ?So who really sent you, girl??

2B tensed, and two barrels were immediately pressed down against her head. ?I won?t move if I were you,? said Houjiro. ?My boys are really jumpy.?

Taking a deep breath, 2B tried to analyze any advantage she had in the situation. There were five guards, beside Houjiro, two of them are standing right behind her. There are probably more outside this room. Tough luck, 2B told herself.

Houjiro stood up and started to pace around the table. ?Hikari died a few days ago. He couldn?t have placed an order for drugs now, couldn?t he??

?However, that?s not what bothers me,? said Houjiro. ?You don?t look like a junkie, but you look too conspicuous for an undercover police. So I want to know who sent you.?

2B heard the distinct click of pistols being cocked. ?Accuracy Judgment.?

Houjiro suddenly stopped pacing and faced 2B. ?Accuracy Judgment sent you? Then you must be...?

?Vector Boundary. Accuracy Judgment told me to send her regards,? said 2B in even tones. ?She wants to collect a certain debt you owed her.?

Houjiro returned to his chair and gave a slight nod to the men behind 2B. Suddenly, the room erupted in a flurry of activity.

2B suddenly stood up, whirling around as she did so. She caught the two men behind her off-guard, and she immediately drew a hidden dagger from beneath her layered clothing. Stabbing swiftly, she caught one man at the gut as she took hold of the other man?s wrist and twisted it violently with a bone-shattering crack.

She immediately ducked and two gunshots rang across the room. She felt the bullets whiz by. Had she not ducked, she would be two lead bullets richer in the head.

The man with the broken wrist was shrieking in pain, and 2B grabbed his pistol from his limp fingers. She aimed at the shrieking man?s hip and fired two rounds before rolling on the floor to avoid another shot. The bullet ricocheted off the floor with a dull, metallic sound.

2B saw an opening as the three guards tried to flank her around the table. She kicked the table towards one of the guards. The guard reflexively held his hand out to stop the table from hitting him. It was a mistake. 2B fired two rounds at his chest while he was distracted by the table. His mouth was wide with pain and shock, as his eyes lost their animation.

Still on the floor, 2B threw her dagger at one of the remaining guards who caught it squarely at his left shoulder. He fell on the floor, howling in pain. 2B brought her gun around towards the last guard.

2B was too slow to react and she found her left leg erupting in a world of pain. She rolled again, and the following bullet hit the floor where she was moments before. As she did so, she fired three bullets blindly at the last guard, and she was rewarded by a dull groan and the sound of a heavy body falling on the floor.

Looking around her, 2B noticed the door swinging ajar. Houjiro must have fled during the entire exchange, which lasted less than half a minute. The money on the table was gone, but 2B didn?t care much about it. They were marked, anyway.

With her adrenaline winding down, 2B became more aware of the acute pain from her left leg. She sat up and looked at the damage.

She took a bullet her leg, and her pretty striped stockings were becoming drenched in blood. She grimaced at her carelessness, but was glad that the man was a really bad shot. If he aimed a little better, she would?ve been probably dead. The pain was bad, but 2B endured far worse. She can treat it later, someplace safer.

Taking a look around her, the man who took 2B?s dagger to his shoulder was limping away. 2B aimed at his leg and fired. The man dropped on the floor with a shriek.

Grabbing a nearby chair for support, 2B stood up and surveyed the entire room. The man with the broken wrist was groaning and bleeding from his hip wound. The man she stabbed at the gut was also unconscious, probably dead?2B wasn?t really sure. The third guy is dead from his chest wounds, no pulse, though 2B knew she didn?t need to check.

The guard who shot her was also dead, catching 2B?s bullet just below the left eye. The only conscious guard was the man who caught 2B?s dagger at the shoulder. Limping towards the prone figure, 2B leaned over and pulled out her dagger with a forceful yank.

The man cried in pain as his shoulder wound began to bleed out. 2B lifted her good leg and stepped on the man?s shoulder. The man howled even harder.

?Where is he?? 2B asked in a harsh but pained voice.

?I don?t know??

2B promptly increased the pressure on the man?s shoulder.

?Damn you, b?h!? the man swore, but only 2B stepped harder. The man broke into a pained cry. ?Stop! He?s probably heading to the warehouse. He has a safehouse in there.?

2B knew from her briefing that the warehouse was in another district. Houjiro would?ve been escaping inside his own car by now. She grimaced to herself as she kicked the man at the back of the head, knocking the man unconscious.  She limped out of the building and was thankful that Houjiro brought his remaining men with him as he fled. 2B didn?t want to kill anymore men today.

Still, the whole turn of events left her a bitter taste in the mouth. She detested the idea of killing people, but she barely escaped alive. She was a veteran in battle, but she was still human despite her skills. Furthermore, she was only at the age where normal girls would be more worried about their love escapades and heartbreaks. 2B knew she wasn?t normal, but that stopped bothering her a long time ago. Being chounouryokusha agent for the UCYC was something that she never did regret.

However, the fact that the mission failed came crashing down on her like a flood. This mission was of utter importance. Lives depended on its success, and she failed.

2B slumped down on the sidewalk and began to cry. Whether it was because of the sharp pain from her leg, or because of her failure, Vector Boundary did not care.

(next Chapter 11)

« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 02:05:27 AM by Anunsew »