The Case of Haru Oshiri

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CHAPTER 1

“..up.” I felt a sharp sting on my cheek. “Wake up, damnit!” Someone was shaking me.

I rubbed my eyes, still feeling groggy. They let me go. “I’m awake. I’m awake. Has it been fifteen minutes already?” I sat up and looked out the window. We were in a parking garage underground.

I didn’t recognize my human alarm. “Who are you? Where is Tanaka-san?” I was awake for real now. I’d never seen the person next to me. A young man, possibly in his late teens or early twenties, judging by his appearance.

I caught a glimpse of several piercings in his right ear. His wavy, shoulder-length hair was midnight black from the root fading into a neon royal blue at the ends. He wore tight, black leather pants, an orange V-necked top and an ornate black leather choker with inlays of tiger eye stones. He turned back around to face me. He was Japanese also, possibly Japanese-American, with luminous-golden skin. But I was most drawn to his unusual light blue-grey eyes; defined by soft, arched eyebrows, one partially hidden under his locs. He was beautiful enough he could pass for a woman, if not for the somewhat strong jaw.

I repeated my question. “Who are you?” He pursed his full lips and frowned, frustrated. He handed me an object and pointed to his ear. I repeated, this time in English, “Who are you?” He shook his head. I looked down to see what he gave me. It was an earbud. I removed the wrapping and placed mine in my ear.

“You may refer to him as Omega-kun. He has instructions not to speak to you unless instructed to.” A voice modified by a changer spoke into my ear. “You too will follow my instructions to the letter or Tanaka-san will be killed.”

I held the building anxiety and anger back and focused on staying calm, rational. Breathe. I told myself. Just breathe. I didn’t bother with the usual ‘do you know who I am’ or ‘what do you want from me’. I simply asked, “What do you want me to do?” My words sounded steady. Good.

“I brought the three of you here for a purpose, Alpha-san. Each of you committed some transgression and walked away unscathed--but I know what you’ve done and you are going to pay for it.” Becca, I thought. Is this someone who knew Rebecca? I bowed my head and looked at my hands. I didn’t have the will to refuse and Tanaka-san may be in danger. I’ll do what he asks for now.

The Voice continued. “But before we get to that, you are going to make yourself useful…” He paused. Omega-kun stirred suddenly and turned his back to me. He held his hands behind him, the rings on his fingers clicked as he balled his fists. The Voice droned on. “Remove the handcuffs from your lower left pocket and place them on Omega-kun.” I did so. “Make them snug. This one is a bit of an escape artist. If you need to readjust them, the key to the cuffs are in your lower right pocket.”

He cleared his throat, “Good. Now, step out of the car and walk around to the driver’s side, take the object handed to you.” I continued to do as I was told. The driver rolled down the window and handed me a black, satin sack. She was wearing a white kitsune fox demon mask in contrast to the all-black uniform and hat.

I nearly opened the bag on reflex but stopped myself because I hadn’t been told if I could do so. “Open the bag. There are three objects in there. Place the card with the magnetic strip into the top, right pocket of your suit jacket. Replace your watch with this one.” It was a diamond and platinum Rolex. I briefly wondered if it was the real thing.

“Place the mask over your face and hair and walk back to the left passenger side of the vehicle.” It was a red demon mask complete with an attached black wig. It had large, fierce eyes, thick black eyebrows and a terrifying grin complete with fangs. It resembled the Namahage, an ogre who would punish slackards and naughty children.

“Open the door and take the Omega to the elevator behind you.”The voice commanded.

I opened the passenger door as instructed. The young man flinched and shrunk away from me on sight. I lifted the mask slightly. “Don’t worry, it’s just me.” I whispered.”I have to take you to the elevator over there.” I gestured to the blue door behind us. He relaxed a little and scooted awkwardly out of the vehicle. I held onto his arm and tugged him out while protecting his head.

“Thanks Alpha-san,” he whispered in unaccented English. He wasn’t afraid of me now but he seemed resigned to whatever fate had in store. He sighed and lowered his head as we proceeded to the elevator.

“Place the bag over the Omega’s head.” Again I made to follow the curt instructions. Omega-kun gasped but didn’t struggle as I completed the task. I wondered at how the mysterious person knew we were following their instructions, was there a hidden camera somewhere?

“From this point on, do not talk to each other--even in hushed whispers.” The Voice commanded, it sounded vaguely amused. One or more cameras and a mic was likely hidden on my person as well as the young man next to me. “Remove the card from your pocket and swipe it to activate the elevator. Once the doors open, the two of you will step inside.”

Moments later, we stepped inside and the doors closed. There were no floor buttons in the elevator but it was moving upwards. “Alpha-san, we can talk now.”

“But the voice said not to.” I protested.

“That’s just bullshit.” When he wasn’t whispering, Omega-kun had a pleasant counter-tenor voice. He spoke in barely accented English. “No signal can get in or out of this lift once the doors close. Shit, I don’t know how I’m going to get out of this. This shit is so surreal.”

“What do you know about our current situation?” I asked. I loosened my tie and rolled my neck around. The elevator was suffocating and the fan above us only circulated hot air.

“We’re in Las Vegas, beyond that, I don’t know our exact location. There is this exclusive club of wealthy Alphas. It doesn’t have a fixed location, it moves from place to place around the world.” He spoke hurriedly. “They trade everything from drugs to weapons to people...Three days ago, I hacked into a member’s account and discovered all this by accident. Yesterday, he was killed in a car crash. At least it‘s what was reported in the papers. I got the hell out of my apartment and went to sleep on the streets last night, but they still found me…” He banged the back of his head against the side of the elevator in frustration.

“The next thing I knew I was sitting in the back of the limo with you after listening to some asshole who told me I was going to pay dearly for not minding my own business and for stealing a hundred grand from some Alpha douche.”

“With any luck, we can both make it out of here alive.” I ventured. “They’ve had plenty of opportunities to kill either of us.”

“Yeah, I know they could have ended me already, but I also know there are worse things than death for an Omega.” He shuddered. “What did they get an obedient Boy Scout like you for?”

Boy Scout? Well, I guess I may seem that way now. I had long since given up my rebellious habits-immersing myself in alcohol meaningless sex when I realized my self-indulgence kept me from my mother’s side when she needed me. I hesitated before answering. “My lover died almost two months ago now, they may be an associate of Rebecca’s. I caused her death--”

“You k- killed your girlfriend?”He stumbled away from me and against the rear wall. Before I could explain further, the elevator lurched and the doors opened.

We stepped out of the elevator into a macabre masquerade. A row of large cylinders extended to either side of us. The ones to the left contained men and women, stripped naked of all but a collar, all Omegas. The ones to the right contained various weapons. The reception desk, in the form of armed guards approached us and beyond them a typical casino bombarding the senses with light and sounds of slot machines and music. Several masked men and women paraded by, each holding a leash for a naked and collared companion. Disgusting. The human pets were in a tranquil daze, drugged into submission, one or two appeared painfully erect.

The instructions began again in my ear. “Do not for any reason remove your mask Alpha-san; among other things, it will dilute the scents of the Omegas around you...Hand the receptionist your card to swipe.” I did so.

“Sir, your member card does not have a high enough balance to enter. Will you be adding cash, coin or collateral?”

The voice in my ear said, “Remove the watch and hand it to him.” Again, I did what I was told. The guard appraised the watch and verified its authenticity.

“Sir, we can allow $95,000 for this. Together with your current balance this covers your entry fee. Please step forward and release your pheromones.”

What? The Voice quickly explained, “The gatekeeper requires you prove you are an Alpha as part of the entry process. Concentrated thoughts of sex or anger will do the trick.” I know how to release my own damn pheromones, thank you very much.

The guard revealed his side arm and placed his hand on his weapon when I hesitated. “Remember, I will kill Tanaka if this does not go smoothly.” The Voice admonished.

Omega-kun must have sensed something was wrong because he slid closer to me. The top of his head grazed my chin. I smelled something from my companion like sandalwood and honeysuckle. It was comforting and arousing at the same time. The scent grew stronger and several people took notice and began walking towards us. I instinctively put my arm around his waist and pulled him closer to me in a gesture that screamed, mine! and I let loose my own scent in warning.

“Excellent sir.” The guard relaxed and covered his side arm with his jacket. Will you be selling your Omega today?”

The Voice commanded, “Nod your head, ‘yes’.” I nodded. “Remove Omega-kun’s handcuffs and blinder.” I fished in my pocket for the key and followed the instructions. The young man bowed his head deeper and his hair fell over his face. “Follow any additional protocol they give you.”

A second guard approached me and offered an electronic collar. “Program this with a four digit pin and place it on the breeder.” I punched in Becca’s date of birth and locked the collar around Omega-kun’s neck over the choker he already donned. Satisfied, the guard handed me a pager. “This will buzz you when the auction had been completed.” The guard escorted my companion down the hallway on the left.

The first guard waved me through. “Feel free to enjoy the complimentary slots or tables. The waitresses can offer you alcohol, party drugs and aphrodisiacs. If you’d like to try out one of the Omegas on display, take note of the number at the bottom of the cage then select one of the unoccupied cabins and punch in their number, they will be sent to you. Penetration is not allowed, oral only--the first three are also complimentary.” He tucked the magnetic card back in my pocket.

I walked around him to the casino area. Oh God, how horrible! I thought, still shaken from what I’d seen. I was glad I had the mask since I would never have been able to hide my disgust. These human beings were robbed of their dignity and treated like chattel for breeding. I remembered his words ‘there are worse things than death for an Omega’ and I wondered at the fate of my companion. “Aren’t you glad you were born an Alpha?” The voice in my ear chuckled. Snapping me out of my thoughts.

“When your pager goes off, follow the signs to the cashier and turn it in. Confirm your acceptance of the winning bid. If they offer you an option on payment, accept whatever is easiest to carry, then take the emergency exit to the stairwell and head to the nearest unlocked floor--floor twenty-three. From there you can take one of the main elevators to the exit. The limo driver will be waiting there.” There was a long pause, before the voice continued.

“Feel free to grab a drink from one of the waitresses and sit and wait in the casino, this will take a while.” I took a glass off a passing server’s tray and sat down at a triple sevens slot. The highball smelled of rum and cola; I placed it in front of me. Still wondering how this person knew about Becca and me and hoping the Voice would leave Tanaka-san alone if I completed the task, I swiped my member card and pulled the lever. I won. I pulled again, I lost. Rinse, repeat.

An hour later, I had accomplished little more than thinking myself into a headache and breaking even on the slots when I felt the pager vibrate. I proceeded to the cashier desk.

“One adult male Omega, under 30, non smoker, no former pregnancies, unmarked nape and in good health. The winning bid was $550,000. Do you accept?” I nodded. “Would you prefer cash (in the form of British Pounds, American Dollars, Euros or Yen); narcotics; gold bars or diamonds?”

I held up four fingers to indicate the fourth option.

“Diamonds?” I nodded.

“Diamonds it is then...One moment sir.” She measured out a weight of tiny diamonds, poured them into a velvet satchel and handed them to me through the window. I placed it in inner jacket pocket. “Please type in the four-digit pin to release the collar remotely.” I did so, and just as I was about to hit ‘enter’ I had the wind knocked out of me.

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