Halo Nine: Henshuubyou:
[I am Henshuubyou, the paranoia dragon. Don’t mind the many eyes all over my body. They are there to keep watch over everything. I have been trapped in Tartarus since the fall of the Woman in Red. When she was sealed away in the Land of the Dead, my brothers and I were sealed lower than Hell. Many a night, I dreamed of flying in the skies of the Living World again.
Today, I get that chance again.]
-Celty and Shinra-
“[What does your father plan to do with Mikado and them?]” Celty typed on her PDA.
“He still won’t tell me,” Shinra said on the couch. “I asked him again this morning and he told me I didn’t need to know. I reminded him that I was already involved in this case. He still won’t tell anything.” The doctor paused when he saw the worried looked on her non-existent face.
“Don’t worry, I won’t let dad or Nebula do anything extreme to them,” he promised.
“[They’ve already been through enough,]” Celty typed. “[I don’t blame them for not trusting us.]”
“I’ll see what I can do for them,” Shinra promised.
[She doesn’t really believe him. They’re all just children in her eyes. Horribly abused children who are suffering again at the hands of cruel adults. Speaking of which, I see actual children walking around with orange paper lanterns at night. They have been told it will keep the demons away from them. Their families and teachers warned them not to walk around alone at night. If they have to, the lanterns have to lit and by their side at all times. The lights make me think of Obon and Halloween mixed together.
Only those children can see me. My eyes follow them wherever they go. The adults are starting to take the children’s demons sightings more seriously. The demons want to do many things to them. Eat them. Sprit them away. Kill them. Terrorize them. I don’t have any interest in children. Their bones are too soft.
What I want is to be reunited with my brothers and fly through the skies just like in the old days.]
-Aoba, Kururi, and Mari-
Aoba, Kururi, and Mari sat in the kitchen. Her royal highness Kururi was texting on her phone. Mari sat at her laptop, typing away. Aoba looked between the two women. He thought about saying something, but the words fell flat in his brain. He still hadn’t figured out a way to get Mairu back. He still needed to know how she died before her birth. In order to do that, he would have to suck it up and do the impossible for himself.
Aoba looked at his phone. Come on, you bastard. Get here so that I don’t have to talk to you anymore.
The three people around the table looked up when they heard the door open.
“I’m home,” Izaya said. Kururi jumped out of her seat and raced over to the doorway.
“Nii-san!” she said in a happy tone. Izaya walked into the kitchen doorway. Kururi ran over and gave her brother a big hug.
“I miss you so much, Nii-san!” she said. The information broker smiled to himself.
“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “I missed you too.” Aoba tried to look about from the public display of affection. Ever since Mairu was erased, Izaya and Kururi had become a little too… close. Did he have to have his hands on her ass? Aoba’s “girlfriend” giggled as she nuzzled him on the neck. Mari looked away as she cleared her throat. Izaya removed his hand from Kururi’s behind. He happened to look up and see Aoba sitting on the table with judging eyes.
“Hello, Aoba,” he said. The younger boy waved his hand.
“Hi, Izaya,” he muttered. The girl he was supposed to love was the only one who was keeping them civil. Could she at least stop hanging all over him like that? Izaya looked over at Mari at her laptop.
“How are you coming work?” he asked.
“Good,” Mari said. “I still think I want to die.” Izaya gently pushed Kururi off and walked over to the programmer.
“How far have you gotten?” he asked.
“I finished the beginning,” she said. “Thanks for that information you gave me yesterday.”
“I do keep my word,” Izaya purred in her ear. Mari tried to back away. The whole time, Kururi stood near the doorway, glaring at the intern. Aoba rubbed his forehead and sighed.
[The boy wishes things could go back to the way things were before his girl’s sister was erased. His girlfriend has turned into a slave driver and he is her tool. This does not sit well with him. Whether he wants to admit it, but he’s lost power. The miniature king has been dethroned.
It makes me sad in a way.
My brothers and I used to rule the skies. Our bodies were big enough to block out the sky. Unlike my brothers, I didn’t pay much attention to the screaming below. Humans feared us. Personally, I don’t see why. We have never interacted with them while we were in the sky. Sure, they felt the effects of our powers influencing them, but we never did anything to them directly. Only adults seem to be afraid of us. The children stare at us with wonder and curiosity.
They aren’t the only ones who can see us, though.]
Mikado. Mikado. Mikado!
Mikado froze and looked around his room. Masaomi was sound asleep in the futon.
“Who’s there?” the tadpole boy asked.
It’s only me.
Mikado made a strange face. “Emily?”
Talk to me with your mind. Focus on me and try to talk.
The tadpole boy closed his eyes. Like this?
Could you speak up some? I can barely hear you.
How about now?
Yes, I can hear you are.
What do you want? How are we talking to each other like this?
I don’t really know yet. I just needed someone to talk to.
Are you okay?
What’s the matter?
I am worried about how we are going to deal with this in long run. How many more experiments will they have deal with? I don’t know how long I can keep Taiyou a secret from Mama any longer.
It’ll be okay if we stay together.
Are you sure about that?
Her question gave him pause. He began to remember Azusa at Ikebukuro Station. Her face stained with tears. He tried to offer her help. Shingen and Emilia could’ve helped her make sense of her powers and maybe control them. Mikado’s heart sank when he saw the tadpole girl’s death on the news.
He didn’t even know her name before she died. Mikado was just looking up information about her again when Emily contacted him.
He closed his eyes. I saw one of our own die three days ago.
Mikado dropped his head. Masaomi and I were down at Ikebukuro Station. I was in the middle of an episode. Masaomi and I were about to fight when I sense another one of us nearby. You remember that suicide on the news, right?
Well, that was our “sister” as they would call her. I tried to get Kibuishi-san not to jump and let us help you, but she jumped in front of the train anyway. Mikado buried his head in his hands.
I couldn’t save her.
When were you going to tell us, Mikado-san?
Mikado lifted his head and gulped. I… I don’t know…
This is what I am talking about. How can you say that we have each other when you won’t tell us when you run into one of our own and can’t help them?
But I didn’t even know her name.
That doesn’t matter! She was one of us! You can’t keep something like this to yourself! That’s it! You’re going to tell everyone tomorrow!
Mikado froze at his computer. Emily…
I don’t want to hear it! You have to tell the others! They need to know about Azusa!
He sighed and dropped his shoulders. Fine.
When did you get this pushy?
When you said that we have each other to survive.
Did I really say that?
Yes. Yes you did.
Tetsu didn’t know how this happened.
Midori narrowed her eyes. Have you told your partner yet?
How long do you think you can keep all of this from him?
Tetsu lay back on his bed next to Taichi. I don’t know. I’m scared of how he’s going to take it. What if I end up scaring him away? I already had a time getting my fire powers under control enough so that I could touch him again.
And keeping this a secret from him makes this any better… how?
He frowned as he puffed up his cheeks. It doesn’t.
Then, you’ll have to suck it up and tell him. I can understand you not trusting those Nebula guys, but your boyfriend is not part of Nebula. And you are going to need somebody to ground you when things get worse. Mikado has Masaomi to do that for him. It is okay for Taichi to do the same for you.
Do you really love Taichi?
Of course I do!
Does Taichi love you the same way?
Then, you should have nothing to worry about. Just gently tell him the truth and show him your power. Since he loves you so much, he will accept you for who you are. What they did to us is not our fault.
[Those tadpoles have every right to be worried. They don’t see it yet, but their lives will get harder as the End of Days draws near. They are being made into godlike beings just so they can see the end. They cannot revert back to what they were nor can they control the changes in their bodies. The next one is coming for them and they can’t see it.]
-Aoi and Satsu-
Satsu leaned on her girlfriend’s shoulder. “Babe, what is it about this Kitano-sensei that drove our professor mad?”
Aoi glanced up at her. ”Our professor?”
“Yoemon-sensei seems like an interesting fellow. Nice, normal middle-aged man with a good, stable job at Tokyo University and happily married to his wife for twenty-three years. He begins his video lecture series for the university that he works at. Then one day, he goes to a conference and meets this mysterious Kitano-sensei.” Satsu nuzzled Aoi on her left ear.
“The real story is what turns him into a paranoid conspiracy theorist with a grudge against cell phones. And what is this Apocalypse game that he keeps talking about? Who are Tandeki, Vozrozhdeniye, and Mam?” She pulled her girlfriend closer to her chest.
“Spine-tingling stuff, wouldn’t you agree?” the brunette asked. Aoi shivered.
“I guess,” she said. “You do make it sound that way.” Satsu giggled.
“I can’t wait to see where this all takes us,” she said.
[And you will find out real soon, my dear. My brothers will join me in the skies once again. In fact, another will be by my side again in a few weeks’ time. It makes me happy because I have been so lonely up here in the skies I call my kingdom.]
-Hikari and Izaya-
Hikari leaned in close with a huge grin on her face.
“You’re going to die again,” she said. Izaya didn’t look impressed.
“What else is new?” he asked. The possessed girls floated as she kept up with the information broker.
“We’re taking bets on how you’re going to die this time,” she said.
“Would you like to know what my bet is?”
“You’re going to tell me anyway, aren’t you?”
The possessed girl broke into a huge smile. “Secret!”
Izaya turned around and nobody was there. The information broker frowned as he began to ways to exercise Hisan from that girl’s body once and for all.
-Kitano and Etsuko-
Kitano and Etsuko looked at the Heartseed plant in the glass. Azusa’s stem almost sank into the rest of the plant. Kitano turned his attention his partner.
“Let’s see what happens next, shall we?” he asked.
“Yes,” Etsuko replied.
[I can’t wait to see what happens for myself too.]