Halo Zero: Game:
The following is a record of events leading up to the final gate opening. The first three days would set the stage to the next round of the Apocalypse Game.
“I’m sorry, brother,” the amanojaku said in the sky. His brother glanced over at him.
“It’s fine,” the other demon said. “We’ll get him next time.”
“But you lost your vessel,” his older brother said.
“I know,” the younger demon said. “There are still plenty of vessels walking around down there.” He gestured to the city below. “Just as long as we don’t run into that creature again.” The amanojaku looked puzzled.
“What do you mean?” he asked. His brother frowned.
“That girl who licked up the blood from the ground,” he said. He shivered as he replayed the events in his head. “What the hell was that? I have never seen anything like her. She gives me the creeps.”
“Are you serious?” the amanojaku asked. “You do know we are demons, right?”
“I know that,” his brother said. “But what is she?” The older demon didn’t want to admit it, but his brother did have a point.
The scene on the roof started breaking down. Masaomi was about to run over to Chiharu when Seiji made things worse.
“He called you a tadpole,” he said to Mikado. “What does that mean?” The tadpole started to panic. All eyes fell on him. Mikado looked ready to run away. No… Don’t look at me like that. I’m not a monster. Please… Don’t…
While, Satoshi stood off to the side, smirking.
“And so it begins,” he muttered to himself. “What are you going to do now, Chirin?”
Masaomi didn’t know whether to tend to his best friend or Chiharu first. He looked between the two friends.
“Wait… Mikado… are you a tadpole?” Walker asked. The founder of the Dollars tried to calm and think out to get out of this. He gulped and dropped his shoulders.
“Yes,” he said, defeated. Masaomi looked at him, wide-eyed. Nobody said a word. Well, it was out now.
[I don’t think that we should be staying here,] Celty finally said with her shadows. [We should get off of the roof and continue this later.] Relief washed over Mikado.
“Yes!” Masaomi agreed. Oddly enough, not one seemed to question it.
“What about her?” Kadota asked, nodding his head over at Chiharu. The smile on her face was creeping everyone out.
“We’ll take her home,” Masaomi said. He and Anri walked over to the strung-out girl. Picking Chiharu up was like picking up a sack of iron. The whole time, she had an empty look in her eyes. Mikado said nothing as he followed behind with Noriko. No one else said anything as they left the roof. Just as she made it to the door, Michiko turned behind her and looked at the sky.
“Something wrong?” Shingen asked.
“No,” she lied. The girl turned and walked ahead of him. Michiko couldn’t tell them the truth. Not just yet anyway.
Around two in the morning, Mikado and Masaomi made it back to Chiharu’s apartment. The tadpole had the girl on his shoulder.
“That’s not hurting your shoulder at all?” Masaomi asked.
“No,” his friend said. “She’s pretty light, actually.” The leader of the Yellow Scarves gave him a strange look.
“Are you serious?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Mikado said. Earlier, Masaomi and Anri thought their shoulders would break under the weight of Chiharu’s dazed body. It didn’t help that she was moaning the whole time here.
“Must be nice,” Masaomi mumbled to himself.
“Not really,” Mikado said. The boys looked up when the door opened. Tatsuya stood in front of them, rubbing him eyes and grumbling.
“What?” he asked. The man looked and saw Chiharu on Mikado’s shoulder. “What the hell is going on?” Mikado and Masaomi looked at each other.
“Listen to us, Hashimoto-san,” Mikado said. “Something bad has happened to Hashimoto. Really bad.”
“What is going on here?” Tatsuya asked. “What happened to my sister?”
“It’s a long story,” Masaomi said. “Just let us in.”
“Okay, okay,” Tatsuya said. “Come in.” The boys walked in with Chiharu.
Celty had been uneasy since she and Shinra got home. She tried to piece together everything that happened tonight. If Seiji could be a target of demon possession, who could be next? Plus, what about the one that tried to kill Mikado? More demons could go after him and the other tadpoles. If Celty was near them when or if a demon decided to attack, they couldn’t defend themselves. It was lucky that Anri said something just in time. Next time, though…
“Are you okay?” Shinra asked. She didn’t answer.
There were the strange people that Celty encountered while on her jobs. That woman with her baby. The man with the fox ears who disemboweled himself. Plus, that woman in front of my apartment. They just appeared to her and then left just as suddenly. Who were they? Why did they come to her? What did they want?
Another thought crossed her mind about the packages she kept picking up. Four weeks have gone by and no one has contacted her to claim them. She had even looked inside the duffle bags either. Sure she was getting paid rather handsomely, but still…
“Celty. Celty!” Shinra yelled. His girlfriend looked up to see him staring at her.
[Oh,] Celty typed. She started to type more on her PDA but froze.
“Celty?” the doctor asked.
[Actually, Shinra,] the dullahan typed. [There is something I have to tell you.]
“What?” the doctor asked. She hesitated at first and then started typing again.
[There is something that I have to show you,] Celty typed. The doctor gave her a strange look.
“What would that be?” he asked. She led him over to the closet. The dullahan didn’t need to see the look on Shinra’s face to tell that he wasn’t enjoying where this was heading. She opened the door. The doctor looked down on the floor at the two packages sitting there untouched.
“Are these…?” he began to ask.
[Yes,] she typed. Shinra knelt down for a look.
“Your client still hasn’t come to collect the goods?” he asked.
[No,] Celty wrote.
“What’s in the bags?” her boyfriend asked.
[I don’t know,] she wrote. Shinra shrugged and unzipped the first bag.
[No, don’t!] his girlfriend said with her shadows. She spoke too late. All of the color drained from Shinra’s face.
“No…” he murmured. The doctor got up and bolted out of the apartment.
[Shinra!] Celty’s shadows shouted. The dullahan ran after her boyfriend.
“We have to tell my dad!” Shinra yelled. “Things have just gotten worse. Grab the bags with you!”
[Shinra, wait!] her shadows yelled. Celty had no choice and grabbed the bags. They met up at Shooter and sped away.
Kitano sat in the in his office in the darkness. His group had a new task on their hands. Six gates to the Apocalypse had been opened. It was amazing that actually came this far this time. But it wasn’t enough.
Yui and Yuzuru couldn’t find the final gate. So many dolls had been destroyed and still nothing. What were they missing? What were they not doing right? Kitano told the members of Tandeki that finding the seventh gate was the top priority for now. They could all still work on their projects in the meantime.
Speaking of which, Tadpole and Angel were going great. Now that she got F back, Junko could really kick her work into high gear. She had plans to turn more normals into angels. Kitano already saw her list the day before.
“Just be careful how you carry this out,” he warned her.
“Yes sir,” Junko replied. Project Heaven was developing well. They were getting a new shipment in the morning. Excellent. And Project Tadpole’s progress?
Suddenly, Kitano heard his phone buzzing from desk drawer.
The therapist opened the top drawer and reached inside. A new text, huh? It was from Etsuko this time. Either this had to be good news or bad news. Kitano opened the message.
“Come check the Heartseed,” she wrote. The therapist smiled to himself. He got up and walked across the room. Kitano pushed in the access code and walked inside. And sure enough, the Heartseed started to glow a light green. The glass around it seemed to vibrate. Kitano felt a childlike need to touch it. He was quick to snap himself out of it.
Which drug is that again?
Kitano pulled out his leather notebook from his notebook and looked through the pages.
“Let’s see,” he said. “What is it? What is it?” His finger went down the page. After a little more searching, Kitano found the right drug.
“Oh yes,” he said. “Nio.” He remembered it well. Each test subject was given the giant green liquid capsules over a course of five days. It took some force of getting the patients to swallow them for it work right. But now, this should be interesting to see how this all turned out.
“Ah, this should be interesting,” Kitano said to himself.
Mikado sat in front of his computer, frowning. He hadn’t been to sleep since he got home. The tadpole lay in his futon wide awake. No matter how hard he tried, he could not go back to sleep.
Can’t sleep either?
Mikado closed his eyes in his futon. No.
It’s happening again.
I know. Are you alone tonight, Naomi-san?
Not really. We all are awake.
Mikado frowned. I see. What do we do now?
I don’t know. Keep up with these changes.
What’s the matter?
You seem upset about something. Mikado heard silence for a good few seconds. Naomi-san?
I had a vision last night. Naomi hesitated. Ikebukuro will burn!
Mikado sat up in his futon. He too could feel the same foreboding that his tadpole sister could feel. What can we do?
Survive. Survive until we find a way to fight back. Her words did little to put him at ease.
“I’m never letting you out of my sight again!” Mika shouted as she hugged Seiji’s neck. Her boyfriend said nothing. She looked up at him with a concerned look in her eyes.
“Seiji-kun,” Mika said. Seiji glanced down at her.
“Hm?” he asked.
“What do you remember after I told you about Namie?” she asked. Her boyfriend shook his head.
“I don’t remember anything,” Seiji said. She rested her head on his chest.
“It’s probably for the best,” Mika said. The color drained from Seiji’s face. He could remember what happened to him over the past few weeks. The boy confused boy hadn’t noticed that he was tremble. His girlfriend frowned.
“Are you okay, Seiji-kun?” Mika asked. Seiji quickly looked down and shook his head.
“Nothing,” he lied. The boy looked into her eyes as she stared at him.
“What?” Seiji asked. She hugged him as tightly as she could.
“I have been trying to protect you from everything going on,” Mika said. “I didn’t want to tell you that your sister died.”
Seiji held her tight in his arms. He could feel her shaking. “Mika…”
“What?” she asked. At first, Seiji didn’t know how to come out with this. Mika would do anything to keep him by her side. She wasn’t afraid to go to extremes to do it. If a girl was willing to have plastic surgery to look like Celty’s head, she would probably go even further.
“What will you do if I get my memories back?” he asked. Mika froze as she started to look grim.
“I don’t know,” she said in a quiet voice.
“Would you try and erase my memories in some way?” Seiji asked. Mika lowered her eyes. She mumbled something under her breath, but he didn’t catch it.
“What did you say?” Seiji asked. Mika let go of him and started backing away. The color drained from her face.
“Mika?” he asked. She turned and walked down the hall. Seiji was left standing alone in the living room. The door closed down the hall.
Shinra paced around in the hall of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals. He tried to ignore the disembodied voices behind him. The cold spots had gotten worse lately. Half of the staff didn’t want to come inside anymore. Even Celty started to feel the effects.
[Can you tell me what’s going on?] she typed on her PDA. Her boyfriend ignored her. How long had she had those bags in their closet? That first bag told him how desperate things had gotten.
The couple looked up when they heard the door opened. Shingen poked his head outside. His son ran over to him.
“Well?” Shinra asked. Shingen would have a serious look on his face behind his mask.
“It’s just as we thought,” he said. “Where did she get this?”
[From the dock, if I can recall,] Celty typed. Shingen took a moment to ponder what to do next.
“Have either of you two opened the book?” he asked.
“No,” Shinra said. “We looked inside and brought the bags here.”
“Oh, good,” the older doctor said. “There is still time.” He opened the door further. “Come inside.” Shinra and Celty followed behind. The younger doctor caught a low hissing noise in his ear.
“You will not win.”
Shinra turned his head. But there was no one else there. Those words filled him with dread.
“Are you coming?” Shingen asked in the lab. Shinra turned back to the open doorway.
“Oh, yeah, yeah,” he said. The doctor hurried into the room.
Kururi made her way down to the pachinko parlor hidden away between the shops in downtown Shinjuku. She wasn’t looking to play. No, she had something bigger in mind. The queen bee pushed open the door and walked through.
The stares from the middle-aged men and smoke in the lobby didn’t faze her as she walked to the back door. One man even whistled as he stared at her ass. Kururi stuck up her middle finger as she walked by. She finally came to the heavy metal door and knocked. The girl pushed it open and walked inside.
The smell of smoke made her nose curl because of how strong it was. The chatter in front of her stopped when the door closed behind her. A group of boys her age, maybe a little bit older, looked up from their cards, smokes, and chatter. The looked like delinquent boys with their baggy clothes, facial piercings, and dyed hair. The leader raised his eyebrow.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Princess Kururi herself,” he said. “To what do I owe the pleasure? Surely, you are not here looking to score. That’s just beneath you.” Kururi frowned as she eyed him.
“Spare me, Ikki,” she said. “I want to talk business with you. I have proposal for you.” The thug boy leader’s ears perked up.
“Oh?” he asked. Kururi stepped forward and pulled out her cell phone. She pulled up a picture of Chiyomi smiling.
“This is Noda Chiyomi,” the Queen Bee said. “She has a crush on you. She told me this morning.” Kururi passed her phone to Ikki. He took a look for himself with the picture.
“Hm, kind of cute,” he said. His friends took a look and smirked. Kururi took back her phone.
“She may a little plain, but she’s really sweet,” she said. “And she’s a virgin.” She had his attention now. Kururi smirked as she added the finishing touches to her plan.
“I can set it up for you,” she said. “All you have to do is to say the word.” Ikki sat up with a smirk.
“What all do I have to do?” he asked. Kururi’s lips curved into a little smile.
“Be her boyfriend,” she said. “You are free to do whatever you want with her.
“Done,” the leader thug said with his hands in the air.
“Excellent,” the Queen Bee purred.
Lack of sleep can lead to being lost in your thoughts. Mikado was learning this the hard way as he sat at his computer during his second sleepless night. He started to remember more things. Not just the nightmares and torture at Chou Mori either.
Mikado cringed as he remembered being in many other beds. Many other beds. Granted, most of the girls were ghosts from Purgatory. And Limbo. And the Living World. Mikado grabbed his hand, wanting to throw up. What have I done? It didn’t help that Masaomi and Anri were already sound asleep.
Suddenly, a pair hands rubbed on his shoulders. That smell of heavy cinnamon and rose perfume told him who was with him.
“Good evening,” a woman’s voice purred in his ear. Mikado’s body went stiff as he glanced out of the corner of his eye.
“What are you doing here, Cheri-san?” he asked. She smiled like a hungry fox.
“I heard you aren’t a virgin anymore,” she said. His eyes widened as he remembered all of his wild nights in bed.
“Don’t,” Mikado said, pushing Cheri away. She pretended to look hurt as she gave him a little pout.
“Aw, what’s the matter?” she asked. “You can’t undo what you did. This wasn’t the first time you took her flower; you know.” Mikado frowned as shut down his computer and turned to her.
“Don’t remind me,” he muttered. “Why are you even here?”
“Aw, yes,” Cheri said as she rose to her feet. “First as you have seen, there are demons that are trying to kill you.” Mikado looked up at her, frowning.
“Is that it?” he asked.
“No, there will be more,” she said. “Just be on your guard.”
“Thank you,” Mikado said in a low voice. Cheri still stood in front of him, grinning like a hungry cat. He sighed and dropped his shoulders.
“Go on, spit it out,” the tadpole boy said. Cheri repressed a giggle.
“You know me well, don’t you?” she asked. She leaned forward, tucking her light purple hair behind her ear.
“I know you are still green, but darling, your technique in bed could use some work,” Cheri said in a low voice. Mikado’s face turned bright red.
“That’s okay, I can help you,” she said. He frantically shook his head.
“No way!” Mikado shouted. “You are not going to try that one on me again.” Cheri just waved him off.
“No, no, I’m going to do all of that,” she said. “Just turn on the computer and I will show you.” The tadpole boy gave her a strange look.
“Why?” he asked.
“Just do it,” the madam told him. The intent look in her eyes told him that he had no choice. Mikado turned and booted up his computer.
“Allow me,” she said. Cheri leaned over and brought up the internet browser. She started typing away in the address bar.
“What are you doing?” Mikado whispered. Cheri grinned as hit enter. A black site with a giant pink heart appeared on screen. “Are you 18 or older?” the page asked. Mikado could already see where this was heading.
“Cheri-san?” he asked. She didn’t listen as he hit “yes.” Instantly, a woman with long black hair popped up on the screen dressed in a black and red lacy gown. Mikado’s face tuned bright red. Cheri patted him on the back.
“Relax,” she said. “She’s not naked.”
“That’s not the point,” Mikado said under his breath. The madam put her arm around his shoulders.
“This will be your homework assignment,” she said. “You just have to watch some porn videos. Don’t worry, it’s nothing hardcore. I picked out all of the vanilla stuff for you.” Mikado gave her a blank stare.
“Uh…” he said. Cheri gently covered his mouth.
“Don’t talk,” she said. “Just watch these. They aren’t really close to reality, but you will learn the basic idea. You are a fast learner now, after all.” Mikado just lost all words as Cheri started to browse through vanilla missionary videos.
What is happening?!
In the early hours of the morning in Shinjuku, Izaya was heading home for the night. The atmosphere in Rampo Biotech seemed to have changed. Everyone seemed more focused than ever. He heard the whispers of the seventh gate and trying to locate it. The information broker knew that time was running out. If his employer didn’t give him the next move, it would be his next on the line. Izaya shook his head.
“Why did I get mixed up in this shit?” he muttered to himself. If only he had deleted that damned video and blocked his e-mail…
Izaya walked up to his apartment and unlocked the door. Just when he turned the knob to open it…
A huge explosion threw Izaya backwards. He landed against the wall and hit the floor. The information broker didn’t get a chance to piece together what was going on. By the time he opened his eyes, one of his phones buzzed. Izaya reached into his coat and dug around for the right one. When opened it up, he had one new text.
“One down, two more to go!”
The little smiley faces let him know how serious this game was getting.
It would only get worse for him.
Another day rose in the fragile atmosphere in Ikebukuro. Who was going to be the first ones to tip the balance?