Halo Nine: Shizuo:
She touched down in Narita Airport at seven in the morning. A woman in a short brown coat looked at her phone. Etsuko would be meeting her about 7:30 a.m. The woman stretched her arms above her head and moved her neck from side to side. After her nap on the plane, she did her research. This was a very special patient. Needles broke at the contact of his muscles. He didn’t feel pain. He survived getting shot and hit by a truck—twice. He could pick up whole vending machines and throw them long distance. The thought of Heiwajima Shizuo sent excited shivers down the woman’s spine.
The woman dialed up her host on her cell phone. “I’m here. Where are you?” She listened in for a few seconds before nodding.
“Understood,” she said. “I am on my way.” The woman hung up and made her way through the airport. She spotted Etsuko near the airport coffee shop. The Japanese doctor turned her head and happened to see her colleague. She flagged down the woman in the short brown coat. Her guest looked up and walked over to her. Etsuko stood up.
“Welcome, Yashin-sensei,” she said. “Are you ready to get to work?” The woman in the short brown coat smiled as she peered through black sunglasses.
“Why yes,” she said. “When do I start?”
“Follow me,” the Japanese doctor said. She led the woman out of the airport.
The work day was supposed to have been over. Shizuo, Tom, and Vorona were out at the bar enjoying a simple evening. The trio thought they would just grab a drink and head home. Nothing too big. But then, Tom got a call on his cell phone.
“Excuse me,” he said. The call didn’t last long, but already the dark-skinned man was frowning.
“Hello?” he asked. “Oh, boss. What? Oh, him again? Fine, I’ll do it right now. No, it’s fine. Okay, thank you. Goodbye.” Tom sighed and rubbed his forehead.
“Is something wrong?” Shizuo asked. His old friend turned to him, hiding the slight inconvenience on his face.
“I apologize. Another job came up,” Tom said.
“Who is it this time?” Vorona asked.
“Kita again,” he said. Despite Tom trying to keep a low tone of voice when saying the name, Shizuo still heard him. The body guard broke his glass in his hand as he gritted his teeth.
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Tom insisted. “Vorona and I can take care of it really quick.” In truth, he didn’t want a repeat of last time. Kita made the mistake of talking shit about Shizuo’s brother under his breath. Something about him being a pussy or something to that effect. In short, Shizuo went into one of his infamous rages. Kita would’ve been dead if Tom hadn’t stepped in time.
Best to deal with this as quickly as possible.
“Are you sure?” Shizuo asked as he tried to calm down. The bartender in front of him looked freaked out.
“Yes,” Tom insisted. “You just stay here and relax for a bit. Vorona and I won’t take too long.” Shizuo settled back into place.
“Fine,” he muttered. The bartender calmed down and went back to work.
“We’ll be right back,” Tom said. “Let’s go, Vorona.” He paid the tab and the two left the bar.
The whole time, a woman with an obvious red wig watched him. She had done her research on Shizuo for three months now. The fact that Tom and Vorona had to deal with a deadbeat couldn’t have played more into her favor. But still, the bar was full. The fake redhead would have to wait until the patrons were winding down. Lucky for her, patience got along with her so well.
As the night wore on, more and more people started leaving. Tom and Vorona seemed to be taking longer than expected to get back. Meanwhile, the woman in the red wig saw her opportunity. She whispered something to the bartender. She pointed over at Shizuo as she spoke. The bartender nodded and fixed up a drink. The bodyguard himself noticed her as well. Who was this woman? What did she want with him?
“Excuse me,” the middle-aged bartender said. “That lady down there just bought you a drink.” He pointed down to the woman in the red wig. She tried to pretend not to be looking at them.
“Why?” Shizuo asked with an eyebrow raised. The bartender shrugged.
“She said that you looked lonely,” he said. Shizuo frowned as he took the glass. What with that woman? She didn’t even try to pretend not to be looking at him. He could’ve sworn that she gave him something as they were talking. Shizuo couldn’t sure what she gave the bartender. Now, the woman pretended to be on her phone. Despite this, he didn’t want to come off as rude.
“Tell her thank you,” Shizuo said. The bartender nodded and went back to work. Shizuo waited for a few seconds, looking around. Most of the people had left for the night. Only he and this woman were at the bar. Maybe he was seeing things and this woman wanted to buy him a dream. She didn’t do anything to try and approach him after all. He didn’t want to come across as rude either. Shizuo took a sip of the mystery booze he was gifted. To his surprise, it had a sweet taste. Well, that wasn’t a bad surprise. Meanwhile, the woman further down the bar glanced up as Shizuo was drinking the drink that she ordered for him. A small smirk came across her face.
The last thing Shizuo could remember was everything going black.
She was once of the most predominant therapists in Moscow. Doctor Yashin took pride in her unsound and unorthodox methods. Her bosses were willing to ignore protocol in favor of the results that she delivered. Her patients seemed to get better, but at what cost? She didn’t play by the rules with her clients. Her treatment of choice? Doctor Yashin chose to engage to “animal therapy”.
Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.
Shizuo awoke grumbling. His head felt like it was underwater. The pain matched the ringing in his ears.
“Urgh!” he muttered. He slurred out something to the effect off where he was.
“Oh good, you’re awake,” a woman’s voice said. She sounded like a Russian woman who had been smoking cigarettes all her life.
“Huh?” Shizuo asked. The footsteps walking towards him made his ears ring. He heard a match being struck. A woman towered over the seated man being held in place with zip ties. She looked so pale in the candle light. Her black tube top and vest held her chest in place. The black shorts showed her bony hips. Her boots made her look taller. She looked at her “patient” through her sunglasses. Shizuo noticed that bright red wig.
“It’s you…” he mumbled. The woman gave him a devilish smile.
“So nice that you recognize me,” she said. The woman took off the wig, revealing her black hair up in a ponytail.
“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Doctor Dorothea Yashin,” she said. “I am a psychiatrist and I you are my latest patient.” Her raspy voice said like a phone going in and out of reception. Her face looked like a Noh mask in the dark.
“What?” Shizuo asked. He looked so drunk as he stared at Dorothea. She took hold of his chin.
“Ah yes,” she said. “You will be my greatest work.” She didn’t make any sense to him. Shizuo tried to push himself to his feet, but his legs felt like jello.
“Whoa! Easy there,” Dorothea said. “You’re still under the influence of my little cock I gave you earlier. That’s right. I slipped you a little something in your drink while the bartender wasn’t looking. What did I put in there, you ask?” The therapist grabbed Shizuo by the hair.
“Well, I will tell you,” she said. “I have been studying you for months now. You are quite fascinating. You don’t feel pain. Nothing kills you easily. You are able to throw whole vending machines. I had to admit, I didn’t know how it would take to drug you. I did manage to get a blood sample from you from a colleague of mine.” Dorothea smirked.
“You do have some abnormalities,” she said. “It took me days to get the right amount to get you in this state.” The whole time, Shizuo still looked out of it and didn’t know what she was saying. Her voice sounded so sounded down to him. Dorothea smiled and let go of his hair.
“Oh, my pet, I’m not done with you yet,” she purred. The therapist walked over to a giant lamp-type bong. The outside frame was painted a brass color while the glass was a faded pink. The body itself looked like an hourglass with a hole at the bottom. The top looked like an open flower. The top came up to her waist. She rested her hand on the top.
“This room is perfect,” Dorothea said. “We’re in a basement bar underneath an abandoned hotel. Nobody knows where we are. You can make all the noise you want, but no one will hear you from outside. It’s just going to be us.” She pulled out his cell phone.
“Cell phone use will not be allowed at any time,” Dorothea added. The therapist turned off Shizuo’s phone. She went ahead and turned off her own phone as well.
“There, now no one will bother us the whole time,” Dorothea said. She put her hand on the bong.
“I brought along my dear old friend to help out our session,” the therapist said. “It’s a special drug that I developed years ago in Mother Russia. I have perfected it over the years and used it on countless patients. You will be the latest addition.” Dorothea gave her victim a cold smirk as she struck a match.
“I have the high windows opened. And I have built up immunity to my own drug,” she said. “It took me years and small doses of exposure over time to get to this level I wanted to.” Dorothea lit up the bong. She walked over and picked up a bar of small red liquid she had sitting on the bar. The therapist made so many batches back in Moscow and had it sent to Japan ahead of them. She was going to make this long session with her special “patient”. Dorothea uncapped the liquid and poured it into the tray over the fire. Instantly, said liquid turned into a heavy steam. The therapist smirked in the candle light.
“Let us begin the session,” she said.
Dorothea and Etsuko had known each other since 2000. The Japanese doctor was the one who found her back when the internet was still evolving. It started with the news articles. Dorothea won many awards in the world of psychology. That was all during the late 1970′s to the mid-1990′s. But then, she disappeared. Etsuko had to find out why.
-One Month Earlier-
Etsuko pulled out her cell phone and made another call.
“Hello,” she said. “I know it’s late over there in Moscow, but I have a personal request for you. I think you’re going to love this one. I’ve always known you to enjoy a challenge. I have a good one for you here. Will you hear me out? Excellent.” The doctor looked out the window of her second lab at Rampo Biotech.
“I have a particular patient for you,” she continued. “He’s what I would call a minotaur. You are familiar with our game, correct? I thought so. Saves me time explaining everything. We see this minotaur as a vital threat to our game. What I want is for you to tame him with your ‘special’ training. I’ve heard that you’ve improved your techniques since last we spoke. Good to know. Anyway, I call you because we will need your skills. I am out of my league to handle him because I am a doctor of the body and not mind, as you already know. Kitano-sensei and Otomo-sensei could do it, but their focus is better spent on their respective branches. If they took time to deal with the minotaur, who knows what could blow up behind their backs? Saying that, I do trust our interns, but we haven’t told them what we want them to do in case something goes wrong. So, this is where you come in. Keep in mind, he’s not like your previous patients. He’s quite strong. In fact, we all call him Ikebukuro’s strongest man. Are you still up for the challenge?”
Etsuko’s lips curved into a little smirk.
“Excellent, that’s what I wanted to hear,” she said. “Your new patient’s name? Heiwajima Shizuo.”
Shizuo awoke on the streets of Ikebukuro. Only… It looked slightly different. The old stores came back from the dead.
Where… Where am I?
Shizuo turned when he felt a head on his shoulder. Kasuka leaned on his side as if he was going to sleep. But, he looked like a child. Shizuo turned his head and looked in the shop window next to him. He and his brother were little kids again. The boy backed up with such shock on his face.
“What the hell is going on?!” he asked. Kasuka about fell on the street, jerking himself awake.
“Nii-chan?” he asked in a dull, half-asleep voice. “What’s wrong?” Shizuo was about to speak when he looked up at the bakery and saw that kind lady being attacked by Aozaki’s thugs. She looked scared as the men cornered her. Young Shizuo’s mind sprung into protection mode. The boy raced over to the bakery. He made his way inside and attacked in his blind rage just like he did before.
When he was done, something wasn’t right. Where did all of this blood come from? Against his better judgement, the boy looked up. The bakery was in ruins. Among the broken glass and wooden were bodies. Everyone, including the lady who ran the bakery, lay in pools of blood. Shizuo looked down at his little hands. He screamed at the blood stained on his hands.
“Yes, you killed them,” a woman’s voice purred. Shizuo trembled as he turned his head. Dorothea stood behind him smirking. She patted a traumatized Kasuka on the head.
“You are a murderer, Shizuo-kun,” the therapist said. “You killed all of those people including her.” She motioned over to the bakery owner covered in glass and blood. The look of terror in her eyes sent the young boy falling to his knees. Kasuka was so frozen in fear at his brother. Shizuo could already hear the voices in his head.
“What a monster.”
“He murdered that innocent woman.”
“His parents gave birth to such a terror.”
“Evil little monster.”
Dorothea leaned down to young Shizuo’s ear. “You brought this on yourself.” The child shivered with his back to her. The therapist breathed in heavily as she added more of her special drug to the small heated tray in the bong.
Tom stood in Shizuo’s apartment with a sinking feeling in his stomach. When he and Vorona returned to the bar, Shizuo was gone. The debt collector asked the bartender where his body guard disappeared to. The bartender told him that Shizuo started looking sick and some redhead dragged him away.
“Did she say anything?” Tom asked.
“Not really,” the bartender said. “She just said that she was taking him home.”
“Hm…” the debt collector said. He tried to call Shizuo, but the operator said the phone was either out of range or turned off. When Tom and Vorona made it to Shizuo’s apartment, all of the lights were off and no one was home.
“Where is he?” Vorona asked.
“I have no idea…” Tom said. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed up the right number for this moment.
“Hello?” Kasuka asked on the other line.
“Hey, Kasuka, is Shizuo with you?” the debt collector asked.
“No,” the actor said in his usual stoic voice. “Why? Did something happen?”
“Oh…” Tom said. “Um… Listen, there might be something wrong. But, don’t panic. He probably got lost somewhere. I will make some calls.”
“Do you need me to do anything?” Kasuka asked.
“No, just stay by the phone,” Tom said. “I’ll call you when we find your brother.”
“Thank you,” the pop star said. Tom hung up and called the police.
Dorothea had been studying Shizuo really closely. She had binders upon binders about Ikebukuro’s strongest man. Etsuko sent it all to her. Dorothea now had a fire to work again. She spent days and nights reading her research. This treatment for her patient had to be perfect. Needle injection wouldn’t work like the others. Judging by how Etsuko described, Dorothea had the perfect animal to turn Shizuo into.
“I will turn you into a minotaur,” the therapist swore.
This time, Shizuo woke up in a bright red room. At first, it looked empty. The body guard couldn’t move because of the zip ties holding him down. He still hadn’t sobered up from the cocktail he had been slipped earlier. That because the last thing he was worried about as he looked up.
Akane was nailed down to a giant black metal cross. She looked like she had been strangled and severely beaten up. Her uniform was torn to shred and her blood blended in with the floor below.
“Akane-chan!” Shizuo shouted in a hoarse voice. He tried desperately to get up, but the zip ties felt like they were crushing down on his wrists.
“Please don’t do that,” Dorothea said. “You’ll hurt yourself.”
“What did you do to Akane?” he asked. The therapist whistled.
“You can speak clearly now, I see,” she said. “As for your question, oh I just crucified the little brat.”
“What?!” Shizuo asked. Dorothea’s pupils dilated as she took in heavy breath.
“She was a naughty little girl so I had to punish her!” she said. Her patient trembled in his bindings. Dorothea patted him on the head.
“Learn your place, monster,” she said in a whisper. The therapist licked him on the ear and took a step back.
“I’ve got a little present for you,” she said. Dorothea moved aside to reveal Tom and Vorona laying on the ground at her feet. Both had been severely beaten and covered in blood. Shizuo let out an inaudible scream. Dorothea smirked as she pulled out a loaded handgun.
“Look what we have here!” she said. “Two precious friends and one loaded gun.” The therapist moved before Tom and Vorona and pointed the barrel between them.
“Sadly, only one of them can live,” she said. “Which one shall I kill?” Dorothea glanced up at her patient.
“Failure to choose one will result in both dying,” she said. “Choose wisely. You’ve got ten seconds.” Shizuo froze. This wasn’t like him. Usually, he would spring to act and be able to save his dear friends. He tried desperately to free himself from the zip ties, but they would not give. His head felt like it was swimming. Shizuo kept smelling jasmines and burning hair around him. Dorothea slowly waved her gun back and forth.
“Eeny meeny miny moe!” she chanted. “Catch a tiger by the toe. If he hollers, let him go. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.” Her gun slowly went back and forth once before stopping.
The bullet buried into the back of Tom’s head. The blood flew up into Dorothea’s face. Shizuo watched in horror. I thought!”
“That was easier than I thought!” she said. “In fact…” The therapist turned the gun on Vorona and pulled the trigger.
“No!” Shizuo cried with a voice above a whisper. Dorothea looked up at him, smirking.
“Monsters get nothing,” she said in a cold voice. The whispers came back into Shizuo’s head.
You are a beast. You are a beast. You are a beast. You are a beast. You are a beast.
Dorothea smiled and shivered as she added more of her special drug to the small heated tray in the bong.
The new day was starting and Shizuo was nowhere to be found. By now, Tom and Vorona looked worried. Shizuo wasn’t answering his calls. Even Celty joined in on the search.
“Anything yet?” Tom asked.
[No], Celty typed. [Did something happen?]
“I’m not too sure,” the debt collector said. His tone let on that he feared the worst.
Dorothea ran her methods on many patients. She had a well-being job at Moscow State University. Her colleagues and boss respected her. Whenever there was a problem, they came to her. Dorothea basked in feeling needed. The staff gave her free reign to carry her experiments and therapy however she pleased. This would prove to be a huge mistake in the long run.
One case would send it all crashing.
This time, Shizuo awoke in the darkness. The smell of jasmines and burning hair persisted. What was that crazy woman going to do to him now?
When did it get so hot in here?
Shizuo turned his head against his better judgement. His younger brother lay naked on the ground in a daze with Dorothea also naked and on top of him. She threw back her head and groaned. Shizuo felt his stomach turn. How could she stoop so low? Dorothea turned her head with lust in her eyes.
“Are you enjoying this, minotaur?” she asked. “Kasuka is!” The younger brother made a gurgling noise with each thrust. It seemed like his soul was leaving his body. Shizuo tried to get up and scream out, but the zip ties kept him in place. He found that he had no voice to cry out to his beloved younger brother.
At the climax, Dorothea pulled out a knife from her ponytail and stabbed Kasuka in the jugular. Blood sprayed everywhere. She groaned as it hit her face. Shizuo’s eyes widened as it looked like the last bit of his soul left his body. By now, the voices made him dead inside.
You are a beast. You are a beast. You are a beast. You are a beast. You are a beast. You are a beast!
Shizuo slumped down into his bindings. Dorothea had a devilish grin on her face.
Dorothea was fired from Moscow State University because she took her Animal Therapy too far on a rich female client. The woman in question had suffered from depression from years and even attempt to take her own life. None of her previous therapists could help. Desperate, her parents turned to Dorothea. The therapist was happy to help. She used her usual animal therapy on the young woman and made her a cat in her mental state. Usually, this therapy took days. This client took about a month. She ended up going too deep into her feline mental state to the point, her parents couldn’t bring her back. The final straw was when she tried to attack her father when he attempted to bring her home. In the end, the daughter had to be committed to a psychiatric hospital indefinitely and Dorothea was fired. Her license was revoked and she pretty much became recluse. In her time away, Dorothea worked to get revenge on her former patients and colleagues. People associated with Moscow State University started vanishing within a thirteen-year period. There were theories, but none of them could connect back to the disgraced therapist.
That was until Etsuko called her for this job.
Dorothea stood in front of a beautiful site. Shizuo’s eyes looked so empty. His breathing became heavy. His body was covered in cuts, bruises, and blood. (Yes, she turned to physical torture at some points just to test her theory. Dorothea loved the results.) Shizuo didn’t even seem to be making noises that sounded vaguely human. The therapist smiled and shook her head.
“Look at you,” she said. “Must be terrible, huh? All of them gone. Everything good in your life stripped clean from you. What are you now?” Dorothea smiled like a hungry wolf.
“You are just a lowlife beast!” she shouted. “You are an animal! You will be my minotaur!” Dorothea walked over to the bar and out something from behind it. She proudly held up a large hollowed black bulls head.
“If act like a beast, you will be treated like a beast!” Dorothea shouted. She marched over and forced the bull head down over Shizuo’s own head. The broken man made gutter noise from his bloodied, swollen mouth that resembled a wounded bull. The therapist smirked and she broke down laughing. In her madness, she freed the minotaur for her final act.
“Do you want to play? Let’s play,” she said.
After six in the morning, Dorothea lay dead on the floor with a giant hole in her chest and a twisted smile on her face. Shizuo lay slumped against the bar wall, panting and no will left inside of him. He was too far away to see the horrified looks on Tom and Vorona’s face when they found him.