Caged Wonderland

Aftermath

Halo Seventeen: Aftermath:

-Itori and Saori-

The woman with the long red had just woken up in her basement apartment with a jolt down her spine. She rolled over in bed as she heard footsteps running towards the abandoned hotel over her. The woman sat up as the footsteps. She already knew what was coming next. A woman with two long braids appeared in front of the dust-covered bar. Her light pink jacket looked crooked over her light yellow dress. The red-headed woman rolled her eyes.

“Hello, Itori-chan,” her guest said.

“How did you find me?” Itori asked. “You can’t use your powers on me.”

“I didn’t,” the woman said.

“Huh?” the redhead asked. Her guest pulled out her phone.

“I used my phone to track you down,” she said. “I used your last known address in Roppongi. Your landlord said that you moved out. You didn’t even pick up your things from your apartment. Then, I did some thinking. Where would you go to get away from us? It took a while, but here I am.” She walked over to the bed and sat down next to Itori.

“Don’t worry, I didn’t tell him where you were,” the woman said.

“Saori!” Itori said, groaning and throwing back her head.

“Don’t you ‘Saori’ me!” Saori said with her hands on her hips. “You can’t keep doing this to him. Avoiding him will not make the problem go away. He’s really worried about you.” Itori frowned as she stood up. She walked over to the small bathroom in the corner. Saori listened as the shower cut on. She knew this would happen. Still, she couldn’t give up on Saori. She pulled out her phone. He pleaded with her to tell him if she found Itori. Saori frowned.

“Sorry, Yukio-kun,” she said. “I made a promise…” Saori looked up when she heard the water cut off. Itori walked over of the bathroom cover in a towel. She frowned while drying her hair.

“You didn’t come all this way just to try and guilt me to talk to him, did you?” Itori asked. Saori lowered her eyes.

“You know me that well, don’t you?” she asked.

“Spit it out already,” Itori said. She walked over to her closet and started picking what to wear for the day. The other tadpole closed her hands in her lap.

“They’ve done it,” Saori said. “The sixth gate has been opened.” Itori froze went a white top and burgundy skirt in her hands.

“You’re kidding,” she said.

“I wish I was,” Saori said. She could feel her stomach turn again.


-Sixth Gate-

“Enough,” Hecate said. “There is a faster way to do this.” She held out her hand and closed her eyes. A quick jolt ran through her body.

“This is a gate,” she said, opening her eyes.

“See?” Kai asked.

“Can you please be quiet?” Hecate asked. Kai put up his hands.

“Fine,” he said. “I’m done here anyway. Have fun, ladies.” Kai jumped up and vanished into thin air.

“Who was that?” Yui whispered to Yuzuru. Her fellow intern shook her head.

“Who cares? Let’s just get this over with,” Lucy said. Hecate already walked up to the sculpture.

“Hey, wait for me!” her sister yelled. Lucy ran to the other side. Both women touched the letters at the same time and closed their eyes. An intense amount of power where into the sculpture, making it glow bright red. Suddenly, the ground shook intensely. So hard that it could be confused with an earthquake. Hecate lowered her hand and smiled.

“One more gate to go,” Lucy said. The nightcomers vanished when the ground stopped. Yui and Yuzuru headed back to Rampo Biotech.

Meanwhile, the sky turned a bright red for only a second. Silent howls filled the city. Both went by so quickly before everything went silent. But, it wasn’t over.

The effects were strongly felt by the tadpoles and Chiharu.

Kai sat on the roof of the Tokyo Hands building and smirked. He held up five fingers and began counting down.

“Five… Four… Three… Two…” he said. The demon rose to his feet.

“One!” Kai shouted. The demon vanished into thin air as the storm began.


-Demon Caravan-

More demons are coming into Ikebukuro. These were not like the others from before. They were much stronger. These demons aren’t just looking for bodies to possess. They want more than to cause mischief and destruction. Some of them are even out for blood.

More and more people can see these demons now. A drunken man was stumbling home in the middle of night when the air became colder around him. He could see his own breath as chill ran up his spine. The man turned when he heard a light flute sound. A parade of people came dancing down the street. Only these weren’t people.

Their faces looked like demonic Noh masks. They had a glowing light around their bodies. Except for the bamboo flute that the leader played, the parade was silent. The drunken man stood with his eyes wide open.

“What the hell…?” he whispered. One demon in a white kimono stood and turned their head. The kitsune mask was enough to sober up the man into fear. The man turned around and ran down a narrow alley. The demon in white moved with in one step. Its prey froze as the predator appeared out of nowhere. The man didn’t get a chance to scream. One slash to his throat and he was dead. The body fell to the ground with a thud.

The demon disappeared and reappeared back in its place in the parade.


-Angels and Tadpoles-

Opening the gate led to a new sensitivity with the tadpoles and Chiharu. Mikado was on his computer when a sharp pain ripped through his head. He felt the side of his head as he screamed.

“What’s the matter?” Masaomi asked as he rushed to his side. Mikado to speak, but he could barely string together a coherent sentence. Anri crawled over to him.

“Get it together!” she cried. Mikado tried to catch his breath through the pain. His vision began to blur.

“What should we do?” Anri asked.

“Um… get him some pain killers!” Masaomi shouted. “Quickly!” Saika’s mother jumped to her feet and raced to the bathroom. The leader of the Yellow Scarves rubbed on his friend’s back. Suddenly, Mikado froze. He slowly lifted his head. All of the color drained from his face and blood ran from his nose. Masaomi drew back his hand.

“Are you okay?” he asked. Mikado slowly shook his head.

“Something bad has happened,” he said in a hoarse voice. “I just felt it.”

“What do you mean?” Masaomi asked. Anri came back into the room with the painkillers.

Mikado? Mikado?

Mikado froze. Nami?

Did you just have a headache? A really bad one?

Yeah. Did you feel it too?

I did. This isn’t good.

I know.

“Mikado? Mikado?” Masaomi asked. He tried to shake his friend to get his attention. That little shock of Azusa’s power run through his body after touching his bare arm. It took all of Masaomi’s self-control not to kiss his friend again.

“What’s going on now?” Anri asked. Masaomi shook his head as if to say, “I have no idea.”

“You guys,” Mikado said at last. “The city is in danger.”

“What are you talking about?” Anri asked. “Why is the city in danger?” Mikado began trembling.

“This is bad,” he said. “This is really bad.”

Mikado and the other tadpoles weren’t the only ones to feel it.

Chiharu’s pain increased the second the sixth gate opened. Hers was so bad that she threw her body against the wall, screaming.

“Chiharu?” Tatsuya asked as he walked into her room. His eyes widened as he saw his sister throwing herself around the room, screaming.

“Chiharu! Chiharu!” he shouted. Her brother ran into her room and grabbed her by the torso. She wouldn’t stop screaming.

“Chiharu!” Tatsuya shouted. “Calm down! Calm down! It’s me!” Suddenly, she went quiet. Her whole body went limp. Her brother rested her onto the floor.

“Chiharu?” he asked. “Can you hear me? Chiharu? Chiharu?” His sister looked up at him.

“Aniki?” she asked.

“Are you okay?” Tatsuya asked. The girl shook her head.

“No…” she said. Chiharu tried to get up, but he pushed her back down.

“Don’t get up,” he said. “Just stay down.” She looked up at him with tired eyes. Chiharu could tell that he was starting to think that something was going on.


-Mika-

-7:00 a.m.-

Mika looked in the mirror.

Her right eye began throbbing again. She knew that her nightmares weren’t just that.

“It’s happening again,” Mika murmured to herself. No, this was different. Tandeki had gotten more advanced than they have in the past. Michiko’s plan to slow them down wasn’t working.

“Mika?” she heard from the bedroom. “Are you okay in there?” His girlfriend took a breath. She’s been keeping him in the dark about what’s going on. At this rate, she will have no choice but tell him the truth. She didn’t know how he would handle it. He already started to suspect that something really bad happened to Namie. Mika did her best to assure him that his sister was alright and that they would find her soon. But, she knew that was a lie. Mika didn’t have time to dwell on that with the pending end of the world racing for them. As long as Seiji was safe and didn’t know what was going on, everything was fine. But now, the situation has changed.

“Yes,” she said. “I was just using the bathroom. “I’ll be out in a minute!” Mikado and the other tadpoles probably felt it too. He would safe in Anri and Masaomi’s hands. There was another issue that Mika started to remember. Now that there was only one gate left. The tadpoles would be drawn to each other. But, demons would be drawn to them too. Mika held her breath.

They are coming for you and the others. Please be careful.

She turned and walked back to the bedroom with a smile on her face. Mika’s too aware of somebody watching her.


-Saki-

-8:00 a.m.-

Saki had another vision of her death.

This had to be sometime in October. Saki was alone in the apartment. Kida was out somewhere at the time. Where wasn’t important to the story. She had just finished eating dinner when there was pounding on the door. Curious, Saki slowly walked over to look out the peep hole.

“Who is it?” she asked. A boy about her age stood outside dressed in a grey hoodie. He paced around as if he was trying to hide from an invisible force chasing him. Instinct told Saki not to open the door and call the police.

“Can I help you?” she asked. The young man outside bit on his hand.

“I… I… I need your help,” he said.

“What’s the problem?” she asked. Her cell phone had to be all the back in the room she shared with Masaomi.

“Please!” the young man yelled. “Let me in! I need your help! They won’t let me live if you don’t!” Red flags rose up in her head. It didn’t help when the young man tried to open the door.

“Let me in! Let me in! Let me in!” he shouted. Saki took in heavy breaths. Something told her that this was going to be it. But, she didn’t try to run and hide. Suddenly, she heard a clicking noise in the door knob. He sounded like he was trying to pick the lock. Saki looked around for an escape. The only way out was through the front door. She wouldn’t be able to reach her phone in time. Masaomi-kun… Masaomi-kun…

It didn’t take long for it to unlock. The door opened and a hand reached in and unlocked the chain. The young man had a shotgun pointed to her chest. Saki backed up with her hands up. Her would-be assailant had tears in his eyes.

“I’m so sorry,” he said. “But I have to kill you.” Saki stared at him with no emotion on her face.

“Why do you need to kill me?” she asked.

“Shut up!” the young man yelled. Saki slowly backed away with her hands up.

“I am not afraid of you,” she said.

“Shut up!” he shouted. “Just shut up!” The barrel of the gun never left her. She took slow steps backwards as her would-be killer walked closer. He trembled with tears streaming down his face.

“You don’t want to do this, do you?” she asked. The young man shook his head but kept his gun on her.

“Just shut up!” he shouted. “I don’t want to do this! They are making me do it!”

“Who’s making you?” the girl asked.

“Shut up!” the young man in the hoodie howled. His voice sounded choked up with pain. His grip started to loosen on his gun.

“I am not afraid of you,” Saki replied. “It is you who is afraid.”

“Shut up!” the young man shouted one last time. She couldn’t remember what happened next. The seconds felt slow, but the time zipped by. The last thing Saki was saw her dead body with giant holes in her chest and face.

Did this already happen? Was it something yet to come? Why would anyone want to kill her? Either way, the vision made Saki shuddered.


-Tatsuya-

-10:00 a.m.-

He wanted answers.

“Tell me what is going on,” he said. “Why is Chiharu acting like this?” Tatsuya had his eyes on Mikado and Masaomi sitting on the couch. The boys looked at each other at first. Chiharu’s brother used her phone to invite them over with a text.

“I don’t think you can understand what is going on,” Mikado said in a low voice. Tatsuya folded his arms across his chest.

“Try me,” he said. Mikado pressed his lips together.

“Chiharu has been poisoned,” Masaomi spoke up.

“I figured that much,” Tatsuya said. “I had a nice little talk with her scumbag doctor. I want to know why.”

“She’s being experimented on,” Mikado muttered.

“What are you talking about?” the older brother asked. The tadpole boy looked him straight into the eye.

“She’s like me,” he said. “We’re being experimented on by this group called the Tandeki Group.” Tatsuya paused.

“Did you say the Tandeki Group?” he asked.

“Yes,” Mikado said. The color drained from the man’s face.

“Hang on,” Tatsuya said. He turned and bolted out of the living room.

“Tatsuya?” Masaomi asked. Tatsuya came back with a big box of files. He set it down on the coffee table.

“Where do you want to start?” he asked.


-Don’yoku-

-Noon-

Henshuubyou, Fukan’yo, and Kyoei floated around in the sky when they felt the excitement running through their hearts.

“Can you feel that?” Kyoei asked. His brothers’ eyes lit up.

“Brother!” they said. And low and behold the sound of light thunder drew their heads out to the skies. The dragons took on their human forms as a man dressed in a golden kimono with black hair tied back into a ponytail. His golden eyes stood out from his pale skin. Henshuubyou, Fukan’yo, and Kyoei fell to their knees at his feet.

“Brother!” the dragons said. The oldest dragon closed his eyes and smiled.

“I am home,” he said. The skies grew darker for a moment and then cleared as the four dragons started flying around again.


-Chikako-

The cold kept following her around since last night.

Chikako couldn’t focus on her work. The coroner had to force herself to smile and crack jokes like she normal did around her co-workers. But, her mentor could see through her mask.

“Is something wrong, Nakata?” Hirose-sensei asked.

“No,” Chikako lied. Even though her mentor knew of her past, the coroner couldn’t tell him the one thing that she forced herself to keep secret.

She’s been able to see ghosts ever since she was a little girl. This morning autopsy reminded her of her father from her childhood. Her father was surrounded by a darkness that Chikako couldn’t put into words. She always saw him with a bottle in his hand. His eyes were red with heavy bags under his eyes. Her father couldn’t stand the light. He would sit in the living room in front of the TV during the night. Things got worse when her mother left.

“Are you sure?” Hirose-sensei asked. Chikako sighed and looked out the window.

“Do you remember when my father was arrested?” she asked.

“Yes, what about it?” he asked. The younger coroner sighed.

“Before that, I saw him walking around with a woman on his shoulders,” she said. “I haven’t told anyone until now.” She looked up at her mentor. Part of her hoped that he would call her crazy or say that she was imagining it. Instead, he kept his focus on her.

“Was it that prostitute?” Hirose-sensei asked.

“Yes,” Chikako said. She looked down at her hands.

“What else have you seen?” he asked. His protegee took in a deep breath.

“Where do you want me to start?” Chikako asked.


-Worry-

The opening of the sixth gate brought a new wave of worry over Masaomi. He looked down at his phone.

“Go and see Saki,” Mikado told him. The blonde boy looked up to see his friend sitting on his futon staring at him. Masaomi shoved his phone into his pocket.

“I can’t,” he said.

“I will be fine,” Mikado said. “I’m not going to break down. I have Anri here with me. I will be fine.” Masaomi tilted his head.

“Are you sure?” he asked. Mikado stood up and walked over to his friend. He took him by the hands.

“I will be fine,” he insisted. “Saki needs you more than me.” Masaomi stared at him with big eyes. His friend had a point. He looked down at his phone in his pocket.

“At least let me stay with you tonight,” Masaomi pleaded. “It will make me feel better.” Mikado let go of his hands.

“Sure,” he said. Masaomi pounded his head.

“Thank you,” he said. The boy pulled out his phone and dialed up Saki.


-Itori, Saori, and Yukio-

Itori and Saori froze when that old chill ran down their spines.

“Is that him?” Itori asked. She sighed and flopped back onto her bed. Saori looked down at her.

“You can’t keep running from you, you know?” she asked. Itori paused up her cheeks.

“Yeah, yeah,” she mumbled.

“So this is where you have been hiding,” a man’s voice said. The women looked up to see Yukio standing near the old dusty bar.

“Hello, Itori-chan,” he said. Itori sat up, staring. All of those years of pain started to fill her chest again. Saori stood up.

“I will leave you two alone,” she said. The dark-haired woman walked past Yukio.

Don’t hurt her. She’s been through enough.

Understood.

Saori walked up the stairs and headed out of the bar apartment.


-The Shamed Ones-

A group of women in dark cloak stood in the middle of the streets. Nobody seemed to notice them. Impossible to see how with black cloaks and creep-looking masks. What do these women want? Why are they here? Why can’t anyone see them?

Give it time, their meaning will become clear. The sixth gate allowed it to be so.


-Kitano and Satoru-

Satoru came across Kitano-sensei stabbed in the abdomen. The young man narrowed his eyes.

“You!” he shouted. How did Kitano-sensei end up like this? We will have to back up to when the fourth dragon reunited with his brothers in the sky.

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