Halo Eighteen: Don’yoku:
I am Don’yoku, dragon of greed. Yes, all that glitters is gold on my body. I have missed my brother so much. I almost feared that I would never get to see them again. When that gate opened, I rushed forward and escaped back into the living world.
My brothers bowed before me.
“Brother!” they said. I closed my eyes and smiled.
“I am home,” I said. Henshuubyou, Fukan’yo, and Kyoei ran forward and embraced me. I nearly fell over as I stumbled backwards.
“Hey!” I shouted. “Be careful! You’ll knock me over!” My brothers looked up at me smiling. It felt good to be home.
“We just missed you,” Henshuubyou said with tears in his eyes. I patted him on the back of his head.
“I missed you too,” I said.
Down below, the humans could feel our reunion.
Kitano had just walked into Room 608 when he noticed something odd. The Heartseed plant was glowing a light pink.
“Hm?” he asked. Kitano reached into his coated and pulled out his small leather brown book. He flipped it open and started looking through hi notes.
He never kept his patient information or any data on the Tadpole project on any computers. The therapist had a love-hate relationship with modern technology. Due to his… arrangement with Vozrozhdeniye, Kitano keeps everything on paper.
Kitano’s finger settled on the note “Oyamatsumi= pink”. Ah, yes. He remembered it well. The therapist and Etsuko all gave the test subjects small plastic cups of pink liquid for a course of thirty days with the other drugs in the project. Kitano looked at the Heartseed plant glowing pink.
“So I see,” he said. “What will my little pets experience next?” Kitano shoved his book into his coat and took a sample of the heartseed’s juices.
Megumi sat in her living room with a pissed off look on her face. One. Ten. Twenty-four. Thirty-five. Forty-five. Practically every bottle of alcohol she had in her apartment. She gritted her teeth.
“Why?!” she shouted. “Why?!” Megumi threw an empty bottle of sake across the room. The glass hit the wall and broke into pieces. She panted as the rage started taking over. Megumi whipped her head around as her phone rang.
“What?!” she snapped after answering it.
“You okay?” Shingen asked on the other line.
“No!” Megumi snapped. “I can’t get drunk anymore!”
“Ah, you’ve noticed the changes too, I see,” he said.
“What changes?” The tadpole sighed as she rubbed her forehead.
“We were looking at your blood sample this morning and found little pink crystal-like bubbles forming at alarming rates.”
“Enzymes in the blood, right?”
Megumi groaned and rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Damn it. Do the others know?”
“We ware informing them as we speak. There is something else too.”
“Something else?” she asked.
“There is a high amount of white blood cells in your blood now. We don’t know what it means yet. It could be good, it could be bad. We don’t know yet. We will keep doing the research.”
Megumi dropped her hand by her side. “Are you saying that we can’t get sick anymore?”
“That seems possible,” Shingen said. The tadpole flopped back onto the floor.
“I can’t get drunk or get sick,” she muttered. “Great… There goes another thing that I love so much. I can’t fuck anyone without killing them and now I can’t get drunk anymore. Lovely.” Megumi looked at the pile of empty cans and bottles on the other side of the room.
-Kitano and Izaya-
“What did you do to Shizuo-chan?” Izaya asked in Kitano’s office. The therapist didn’t look up from his computer.
“Nothing,” he said. The information broker turned from the window to face the therapist at his desk.
“Then how come I haven’t seen or heard from him lately?” Izaya asked. “Don’t get me wrong, I despise him. But it’s been quiet around Ikebukuro lately. Too quiet.”
“Hm…” Kitano said. Izaya frowned. He had all of the information in the world at his fingertips, but this therapist was like an iron fortress. Izaya couldn’t get information on the Tadpole Project itself. The only thing he could get his paws on was Aida Satoshi and Kubuishi Azusa’s files. Kitano gave him those just to appease him long enough to keep him from asking any more questions. Every time Izaya got close to a lead, the therapist seemed to change it to keep the information out of his reach.
“I have been seeing Tom-san and Vorona-chan walking around the city without Shizuo-chan as of late,” he went on. “Sure, Vorona-chan can hold her own. But, I am starting to hear rumors.”
“Rumors?” Kitano asked. He didn’t look fazed at all.
“Just the usual like Shizuo-chan just arrested and put in jail in another district,” Izaya said. “Or that somebody finally did him in.” He all but laughed at the latter.
“I checked every morgue and jail in Tokyo. He isn’t in either one,” Izaya added. “Even his brother doesn’t know where he is.”
“Go on…” the therapist said.
“I did a little thinking,” Izaya added. “Whenever someone turns up dead or missing, nine times out of ten, you are involved.”
“And tenth time?”
Izaya ignored his quip. “What did you do to Shizuo-chan?”
Kitano glanced up at the information broker. “I told you I didn’t do anything to him. Talk to Asato-sensei. I just merely gave her permission to handle him.” He noticed the unsatisfied look on Izaya’s face.
“Look, Orihara-san,” Kitano said. “I do not control my inner circle. They act to help influence this game. It is true that I do my parts, but they act on their own. I just grant them permission. Anything else?”
“No...” Izaya said. Kitano straighten up his black-framed glasses.
“Now let me ask you something,” he said. Izaya looked puzzled.
“What?” he asked. Kitano’s face resembled a demonic Noh mask as he stared the information broker down.
“You wouldn’t do something stupid like spy on me for the Russians, would you?”
“No,” Izaya said. Kitano raised his eyebrow.
“Vozrozhdeniye may be giving us money to work on the Tadpole Project, but it is not wise to trust them so freely,” he said.
“Is it wise to trust you?” Izaya asked.
“Your choice,” Kitano said. “Just know that once you make your decision, you can’t turn back.” Izaya clicked his tongue. After hearing this man speak, he started to like him even less.
-Itori and Yukio-
“Why did you come here?” Itori asked.
“I had to find you again,” Yukio said. He took off his shoes walked over to her bed.
“How long are you going to keep running away from me?” he asked. “You can’t keep do this. It’s not going to go away.” Itori lower her head.
“I am not Satomi-chan,” she said.
“I am not asking you to be your sister. I just want you.” She gave him a sad smile.
“But that’s the only reason you try to hang onto me, isn’t it?” she asked.
“That’s not true!”
“You aren’t a good liar, you know that?”
A sweat drop formed on the back of Yukio’s head as he nervously laughed. “It’s not like that, I swear it!” Itori frowned at him.
“It might have been the case in the beginning, but I really do love you. I loved both of you since we met. So please quit running away from me. I want to help you.” Itori gritted her teeth.
“I am not a broken little lamb for you to fix,” she growled.
“I know,” he said. “But you must have felt it too.” She went quiet as she lowered her eyes.
“The others will be coming here and those bastards are at it again.”
“No...” Itori said. Yukio pulled her into his arms.
“We have to find our brothers and sisters,” he whispered in her ear. “Please, you have to help us. If not for me, do it for Saori-chan and them. They don’t deserve this nightmare anymore. We lost Satomi-chan, but we can save the others.”
“You are an asshole,” Itori said in low voice.
“I can live with that,” Yukio said. Itori glared at him. Why did he have to be so charming? It annoyed her at times.
“What is all of this?” Masaomi asked as he looked at the big box on the coffee table.
“My parents had been looking into information about Chou Mori for some time now,” Tatsuya. He took a seat in front of the boys.
“Ma was an activist for mental patient rights,” he said. “Chou Mori was her great white whale.
“She and your dad were murdered because of it?” Mikado asked.
“Yes,” Tatsuya said. He pulled out one file and set it in front of them.
“From 1993 to 2007, there have been a string of mysterious deaths,” he said. “They are starting up again. I added the latest ones myself.” Mikado took the file and started reading. Masaomi leaned over for a look.
1993: Thirty-five-year-old man found dead in parking garage. He was bound and gagged in the front seat of his car. No visible injuries. Culprit was never caught.
1995: Forty-one-year-old man found beaten to death in his bed. According to police and friends, he said that someone was following him. His doors were nailed shut from the inside and he slept with a bat by his futon. But, the kitchen window was left open. Culprit was never caught.
1998: Twenty-nine-year old woman goes missing. She was last seen in the parking lot of a closed 7-11. Her pager was found in the trash and had been wiped. Woman’s friends and mother said that she had no known enemies. However, they said that she had been stressed out at work. Her boss said that she wanted to run away, but her mother said it didn’t sound like her. Woman still hasn’t been found.
1999: Eighteen-year-old girl goes missing. She was last seen leaving a friend’s party. Her car was left abandoned on the side of a mountain road. Nothing had been taken and the keys were left in the ignition. None of the windows were broken. Pager was found in the bushes with no battery and had been wiped cleaned. Mother said that she received strange calls after her daughter’s disappearance. Police believed it to be prank calls. Girl still hasn’t been found.
2003: Couple dies in car accident. They were leaving an all-night bakery. The wreck took place at a stoplight. Upon close inspection, it is revealed that the brakes had been trampled with. There was no sign of the other driver in sight and the footage from CT cameras was grainy. There other car which was totaled looked like it was ridged to drive itself. Culprit was never caught.
2007: Fifty-two-year-old woman was found strangled and beaten to death in her home. Nothing was taken from the home and the place was ransacked. One suspect was caught three days later. He was a local heroin addict who had been in and out of prison over the past ten years since he was fifteen. Suspect had been left in a holding cell overnight. The next morning, the police found himself hanging from the bars. Police came under scrutiny for letting the only lead commit suicide on their watch. Even so, some still found the death to be suspicious and that the suspect might not have been the real culprit. Case remains open.
“Here’s one more for you,” Tatsuya said. “You will know this one.” He slid the newspaper article over to Mikado and Masaomi. The boys immediately recognized the headlines. It really didn’t take much when they saw Fuchigami Mariko’s picture by the text.
“That’s the nurse that was murdered last August,” Masaomi said.
“Are these all connect to Chou Mori somehow?” Mikado asked.
“Yes,” Tatsuya said. He pointed to Mariko’s picture.
“She was nurse there from 1997 to 2006,” the man added. “Except for my parents in the car accident, everyone of these were therapists, doctors, nurses, or orderlies at that damned hospital.”
“Are you saying they were killed to cover up something?” Masaomi asked.
“Yes,” Tatsuya said.
“Can we have copies of these?” Mikado asked.
“Of course,” the man said.
“Thank you,” the tadpole said.
The queen bee has everything she wanted. Many boys ogled her while many girls wanted to be her. Thanks to her older brother, she had information on everyone around the city. The mean girls of the school became part of her posse. Aoba was her boyfriend and she was banging Ran on the side. Couple that with good grades and her charm with words, Kururi was the princess of her junior class.
That’s probably why her latest scheme came into play.
“Orihara-chan,” the teacher said one day after class. Kururi turned her head as she walked out the of the classroom.
“Yes sir?” she asked.
“Can I see you for a minute?” the teacher asked. Kururi turned back to the desk.
“Is something wrong?” she asked. The teacher shook his head.
“No, I just need your help with a particular student,” he said. Kururi raised her eyebrow.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Her name is Noda Chiyomi,” the teacher explained. “She’s shy and doesn’t seem to have any friends. Some of the teachers think that she’s being bullied here. I tried to talk to her this morning, but she seems too afraid to speak up. I have seen cruel things written on her desk over the past two weeks.” Kururi gave her teacher a strange look.
“Okay…” she said. “What about her?” The teacher took in a deep breath.
“Could you just be a friend to her?” he asked. “It doesn’t have to be a long-time thing. Just until she has her confidence up.” First, Kururi gave him an odd look. Then, she shrugged her shoulders.
“Sure,” she said. That’s how Chiyomi ended up hanging out with Kururi and posse. Now, Chiyomi seemed a little bit awkward compared to her new prettier “friends”. She would sit alone on the edge of the table across from Aoba. Granted, the girl looked pretty cute. Her light brown hair was tied up into two pigtails on the sides of her head. Her deep green eyes looked lovely. She didn’t talk much but seemed pretty nice.
Kururi’s posse wasn’t having it though.
“Why does she have to hang around with us?” one of the girls asked.
“She’s too weird,” another said.
“She’s kind of gross,” a third said. The complaints went on around Kururi’s head. Aoba was half-listening to them. Chiyomi lowered her head as if she was ready to cry. The queen bee shushed everyone in the group. Her posse eyed intently. Kururi leaned in close to the girls.
“I have a plan for her,” she whispered. At first, her girls didn’t understand. When the queen bee smirked, it all started to click.
“Ah,” they whispered back.
“What’s the plan?” Tsukiyama asked. Kururi put her hands behind her head and smiled.
“Why don’t you stick around and find out,” she said. Aoba caught every word of that and didn’t like how her plan sounded.
-One Collects Voices-
Mikado and Masaomi left the Hashimoto apartment around noon. They carried the files in their arms. Neither boy said anything. They didn’t even make eye contact. At least, they had a lead to bring an end the Tandeki’s plans.
The boys passed a group of policemen gathered around the body of the drunken man in the alley. Masaomi slowed down his pace.
“What’s going on over there?” he asked. Mikado turned his head. The boys walked over for a closer look. A detective was talking two officers on the scene. The body was already covered in a sheet. Mikado could hear every word they were saying.
“Who found the body?”
“A couple of delinquents in the area. One of them tried to rob the man’s wallet. They freaked out when they that huge gash on the man’s throat.”
“I don’t blame them. Any id on the vic?”
“Murakami, I believe. The Kanji is a little bit hard to read with my eye sight.”
Mikado found himself distracted by something behind the men. A girl dressed in a black dress with long white hair drew back the sheet from the body to reveal the face. She pulled out a long wand-like instrument and held it over the dead man’s mouth.
“Kida-kun, look!” Mikado whispered, tapping his friend on the arm.
“Huh?” Masaomi asked as he looked up. “What am I looking at?”
“You don’t see that girl standing over that body?” Mikado asked.
“No…” his friend said. The tadpole boy turned to him with a confused look on his face.
“What?” he asked. “But she’s right there.” Mikado turned and saw the girl standing over the body with the stick in her hand. She stared intently at her work. A white cloud-like mist floated from the mouth and into the stick. It happened so fast, but Mikado saw it. What was she doing to that dead man? The girl finally looked up at the boys.
“Oh,” Mikado muttered. The detective on the scene looked up and saw them.
“There is nothing to see here,” he said. “Move it along. Move it along.” Mikado and Masaomi left without incident. The tadpole couldn’t help but wonder who that girl was and what she was doing with that dead man on the ground.
There was another memory that Mikage started to have.
Izaya staggered over to the gym covered in blood with injuries all over his body. He pounded on the glass door. Blood streaked the surface.
“Help me!” he screamed. “Help!” Mikage couldn’t hear him at first. She ran over to the locked doors. Before she could unlock them, something or someone stabbed Izaya in the back. One… Two… Four… Six… Thirteen. He fell dead at the doors. Mikage couldn’t see who finished him off. The last thing she could remember was a menacing grin outside.
It didn’t make sense. Izaya was usually so agile and wouldn’t let himself get killed like that. It had to be a false memory. There’s no way he would let his guard down so easily. But she couldn’t shake the feeling.
“What have you gotten yourself into this time, you idiot?” Mikage muttered under her breath. She looked at the number that Mari gave her on her last visit. Time to make another call… again.
Azazeal found his way to Shintomi Nursing Home in Tsukiji. He vanished and appeared in front of the front desk. He cleared his throat to the receptionist on the phone. She about fell out of her chair when she saw him.
“Hello, miss,” he said.
“I’m so sorry, have you been waiting long?” the woman asked.
“No,” the demon said. “I just got here. I’m here to see an old friend of the family. Do you know which room Kurosawa Haruki is in?”
“Sure, hang on,” the receptionist said. She turned to her computer and typed in the data. Azazeal tried to look at her screen.
“Let’s see. Kurosawa… Kurosawa… Kurosawa… Ah, here it is,” she said. “He’s in Room 108.”
“Thank you,” Azazeal said. He bowed and walked down the hall.
“Who was that?” the receptionist asked herself.
Azazeal knocked on the door of Room 108 as he listened. He could hear groaning inside. The demon disappeared from the hall and reappeared in the old man’s room. He found the patient laying up in his bed in a daze. Drool ran down the side of his mouth and his eyes looked so empty. Such a sad sight. Azazeal shook his head and walked over to the bed. The old man didn’t stir. The demon looked down at his target.
“I know who you are and what you want to tell her,” he said in a whisper. The old man didn’t stir, but Azazeal could see a little life in his half-dead eyes.
“It is not right that you are a prisoner in your own body,” he said. “I am here to free you.” A small choked up gasp escaped from the old man’s mouth. Azazeal placed his fingertips on the old man’s wrinkled and spotted forehead as his eyes rolled back into his head. He chanted under his breath. The old man’s body started glowing a light orange as he gasped. He tensed up before going limp in bed. Azazeal drew back his fingers. Haruki’s eyes moved up to his “savior”. He wanted to speak, but the demon put his finger to his lips. Azazeal waved bye-bye before he vanished into thin air.
One down, one more to go.
-Kitano and Satoru-
Kitano sat in his office, brooding. “Orihara started asking questions again.” Etsuko glanced over her shoulder.
“About the Tadpole project?” she asked.
“About Heiwajima-san,” the therapist said. “Which reminds me, I think that he’s spying on us.”
“For who?” Etsuko asked.
“It’s not from Vozrozhdeniye, that’s for sure,” Kitano said, thinking. “They would’ve made off with our pets and the Dis Program by now.” The doctor turned to face him.
“You think that it’s someone from the outside?” she asked.
“It wouldn’t be the first time someone from the outside tried to sabotage the game,” he said. “All I can say is to be very careful.” Another thought crossed his mind.
“Oh yes, the Oyamatsumi has taken full effect now,” Kitano said.
“Yes,” Etsuko said. “I saw the plant today.”
“Beautiful, wasn’t it?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said. Kitano leaned back into his chair.
“Let’s give the plant three more days before we up the dosages again,” he said.
“Yes sir,” Etsuko said.
On the other side of town, Satoru made it back to his hotel room. It had been weeks and he turned up nothing. Satoru flopped back onto the bed. He tried to chase out the negative thoughts from his head.
No, she’s not dead. Quit thinking like that. You will find her! You just have to keep looking! Thing is, that’s kind of hard to do when you have no leads.
That was until he got a text from a blocked number.
“Huh?” he asked. Satoru opened the message. It didn’t take him long to go running out the door.
Kitano had just walked out of Rampo Biotech for the night. He closed the door but paused. He snickered to himself.
“We meet again, old friend,” the therapist said. “You may try and kill me all you want, but you can’t stop what’s already begun. You can’t stop my pets and their growth. They will bear witness to the Woman in Red’s glorious destruction. Go on, kill me if you want. You can’t stop it. You are too late.”
Satoru walked through the streets with his phone in his hand. If he could get to Rampo Biotech, he would finally have the answers that he was looking for. The directions came across as confusing as he read them about ten times. Still, he was willing to take anything at this point. He just hoped that he wasn’t too late.
After what felt like forever, Satoru finally came across Rampo Biotech. He pulled up the text on his phone and scrolled down. The front of the building looked just like the one in the picture in the message.
“There!” he shouted. The young man ran across the street to the building. Satoru came across Kitano-sensei stabbed in the abdomen. The young man narrowed his eyes.
“You!” he shouted. Kitano looked up as he clutched the wound in his abdomen.
“Who are you?” he asked. Satoru knelt down and showed him the text.
“Are you my sister’s therapist?” he asked.
“Huh?” the therapist asked. Satoru pulled up the picture of his sister on his phone.
“This girl!” he shouted. “Do you know where she is?” He moved the phone closer to the bleeding man. Kitano tried to look through his blurred vision.
“Look at her! Look at her!” Satoru shouted. Kitano chuckled.
“I think I have,” he said.
“Where is she?” the young man asked. “Tell me where she is!” The therapist’s breathing became labored.
“Get me back into the building and I will tell you,” Kitano forced out. “My partner is a doctor and she can help me.”
“Why can’t you call an ambulance?” Satoru asked.
“Don’t have a phone,” the therapist said. “I’m dying here and I can’t help you like this. Just get me inside. Please? I can’t die just yet.” Satoru gritted his teeth. This started to feel like a bust. But, something in him wouldn’t like this go. He puffed up his cheeks.
“Fine,” Satoru muttered. He shoved his phone into his pocket. The young man helped the therapist to his feet and dragged him back into Rampo Biotech.