Halo Two: Shinra:
Shinra sat asleep in the chair when he felt something poke him in the side.
“Huh?” he asked. Celty stood in front of him. She had on her usual kitty bike helmet on.
“Oh, it’s you,” the doctor said. “How long was I asleep for?”
[About two hours,] Celty typed.
“Two hours?” Shinra asked. He looked around the lab.
[Yeah, you just dozed off,] she typed. [I wanted to wake you up but your dad wouldn’t let me. He told me to just let you sleep.]
“Heh,” was all her boyfriend said.
“Oh good, you’re awake,” Shingen said. “Come over here and look at this.” His son and Celty walked over to the table. A large leather book sat in the middle surrounded by Kanji in white chalk. Charms sat around it as well.
“What is that?” Shinra asked.
“The Book of Enma,” Shingen answered. He turned and opened the book with thick gloves on his hands. Shinra’s stomach turned.
“Are you sure you should be doing that?” he asked.
“I had it warded as the higher ups instructed,” his father said. “Plus, I have these gloves too.” He turned to the first page.
“Take a look,” the older doctor said. Shinra and Celty walked over to the book.
“There’s nothing in it,” the younger doctor said.
“Exactly,” Shingen said. He flipped through each page with care.
[Why was this given to me?] Celty typed.
“My guess is that it would be safe with you,” Shingen said. He closed the book.
“Why is it blank like that?” Shinra asked. “Is it supposed to be like that?”
“Yes,” his father said. “We do not know anything about it.” Shinra and Celty looked so confused.
“What?” Shinra asked. “What do you mean?” His father sighed.
“No one else can get close to it,” he admitted. “We can’t even get any of the staff to even get in the building.”
“Oh…” Shinra mumbled. He noticed his father’s gaze fixed on him. The younger doctor frowned.
“Wait…” he said. “You want me to…?” He could see the worried look on Celty’s non-existent face.
“Oh, no!” Shinra was quick to say, shaking his head. “You are not pulling me further into this mess!”
“You don’t have a choice anymore,” Shingen said. He grabbed his son by the wrist. “I asked you to help and now you have a target on your back. They will come after you. You know too much now. You have no choice but to go further down this rabbit hole.” His words were enough to make Shinra tremble.
“Dad?” he asked. Shingen didn’t have to speak. Shinra sighed and dropped his shoulders.
“Fine,” he grumbled. “What do you need me to do?” His father handed him a second pair of gloves.
“We are going to be here all day,” Shingen told him. Shinra nervously laughed as he turned his attention to Celty. She too would have to stay with him for this book research.
Around three in the morning, a woman in her mid-thirties walked down to car park near her apartment. She had on a hoodie and a dark pair of jeans. Her hands were stuffed into her pocket as she looked around. The woman trembled as she kept her head down. She shuffled across to a black SUV at the end of the car park. Her right hand pulled out a small plastic bag. The woman started shaking as she stuffed it under the cover of the right front wheel.
She had done it. But her penitence wasn’t over. The woman looked around and hurried out of the car park.
Kitano finally sent out the memo. The inner circle and a small number of interns sat waiting in a conference room. They all knew what this was about. Eighteen minutes later, Kitano walked into the room. He took his seat at the head of the table.
“Good morning,” the therapist said.
“Morning,” everyone said back. Kitano didn’t need to mess around.
“We need to find the last gate,” he said. They all agreed. Yui slowly raised her hand.
“We have been looking but we can’t find it,” she said.
“How many dolls are left?” Aya asked. The interns counted up on her fingers.
“132,” Yuzuru said in a quiet voice. Yui turned her head.
“Yeah,” she said.
“We have been destroying the dolls as fast as we can,” Mei added. “Even the ones that aren’t warded.”
“I am afraid that isn’t enough,” Kitano said. “We will have to double our efforts.”
“What do you recommend we do?” Junko asked.
“We will have to suspend some of our projects until we can locate the gate,” he said. Silence filled the room.
“Which ones?” Daichi asked.
“The main ones will go on as usual,” Kitano said. “Angel, Tadpole, and Heaven will be fine. We cannot work on any side projects. No blood knight training. Your interns have to help destroy all of the dolls. If you have threats to the main project, don’t act on them. Observe them for the time being. This will not be up for debate. Do you all understand?”
“Yes,” everyone said.
“Very good,” the leader said. “That is all.”
“Yes,” the others said. Everyone bowed and departed out of the room.
Izaya frowned at the computer of his second apartment. No one got hurt in the blast. Kururi was at Aoba’s apartment at the time. Namie was dead, of course. That was beside the point. There brave fools that tried to kill him before. Hell, he even died before.
But this was different.
Izaya had no leads. The number from that mocking text came back to a disposable phone. They were good, he would give them that much. However, this wouldn’t be the last time they would pull something like this. Who was trying to kill him this time?
His money was on Kitano.
“What’s wrong, Izaya?” Kitano asked around ten in the morning. The information broker tried to look like his usual smug self.
“My apartment got bombed last night,” he said in a dry tone. Kitano didn’t even look up.
“Which apartment was that?” he asked.
“The one in Shinjuku,” the information broker said.
“And which one is that?” Kitano asked again. “You have three of them. Well, two of them now.” Izaya just wrinkled his nose.
“I am trying to find out who it was,” he said.
“Ah,” Kitano said. No real reaction. He didn’t even look up. The therapist just kept taking more notes. Izaya frowned. He couldn’t read the old man. That was the worst part about him.
Izaya sat back in his chair. At times like these he wished that Namie was still around. Her deadpan snark at least made him feel a little bit better. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to send her to investigate Kinko Sekai Apartments with those interns last year.
Izaya pulled out his phone and dialed up the one number needed right.
“Hello?” Aoba asked over the other line.
“Aoba-kun,” the information broker said. “Where are you right now?” He heard groaning. Followed by some grumbling.
“I’m sorry?” Izaya asked.
“I’ll be over in a little bit,” Aoba said.
“Very good,” the information broker said. He hung up before his new secretary could say another word. Izaya rubbed his forehead. Aoba was no Namie but it beat being all alone in his apartment day after day. Shinra and Mari seemed to be too busy to call him back.
At this point, Izaya didn’t whether to laugh or cry.
Shinra would have to study the Book of Enma. He couldn’t take it out of the building. That book could not go out of the barrier. Celty had to arm him with a charm from a shrine she bought after one of her deliveries.
[Please… Take this. Just be careful,] Celty typed.
“I will,” he said.
Right now, Shinra stood in front of that empty book. It didn’t look as intimidating as it did when he and Celty first looked in the bag. The chalk and charms took some of the darkness from it. The doctor took a breath and walked up to it. Doing good so far. Shinra reached out for the pages. He stood over the book. Each page was blank. This book couldn’t hurt him, right? Shinra tried to ignore the whispering around him.
“Don’t do it.”
Shinra put on his gloves and touched the first page. Nothing happened.
“What exactly do you want me to find about this book?” Shinra asked over the phone on his way to Yagiri Pharmaceuticals.
“Anything you can?” Shingen asked. “I have looked through it and came up with nothing.” His son frowned.
“What makes you think I will find anything?” he asked.
“It wouldn’t hurt to look, would it?” Shingen asked. The younger doctor rolled his eyes.
“Fine,” Shinra said.
The younger doctor went through each page. Every one of them was blank. The buzzing and whispering circled his ear.
“Don’t do this!”
Shinra still turned the pages. But then he came upon on particular page in the middle of the book. One touch led to a pulsing sensation that ran through his body. The room suddenly felt colder and darker.
The first thing Shinra noticed was the smell of blood. His eyes felt like they were burning behind his glasses. When did it get so hot in here? The doctor looked up when he heard someone weeping. Darkness as far as the eye could see. That was until…
Shinra looked in the distance. Was that… Fire?
The doctor walked over for a closer look. A faint fire burned in the distant. Curious, he had to take a look. The heat in the air grew worse as Shinra walked closer. But he found himself unable to stop. With each step, the weeping grew louder. Finally, Shinra stopped in his tracks.
He stood before a giant black steel door. Flames were bursting out from behind it, giving off an ungodly heat. The fire was so bad that the doctor had to shield his eyes. The black trees surrounding him was the only thing not affected by the heat. His heart started pounding so hard against his chest. He could hear the weeping again. This time, it was loud enough to be in front of him. Through the heat, Shinra could make a figure standing in front of the door.
A woman stood in front of the door. Well, not so much standing, but more like floating off of the ground. Her short white dress stood out from the door. Her long black hair covered her face. The weeping noises appeared to be coming from her.
“Hello?” Shinra asked. “Miss, are you okay?” The woman didn’t answer.
“Hello?” the doctor asked again. But then he noticed her bright red eyes glowing at him. Her jaw opened down to her throat. She seemed to let out a silent scream. Shinra coiled in fear, covering his ears. He heard her say one thing in his mind.
“You shouldn’t have come here!”
When Shinra came to, he found himself around in the lab. The Book of Enma had forced itself closed. The doctor rubbed the back of his head, confused.
“What was that?” Shinra asked. Suddenly, he caught something out of the corner of his eye. When the doctor turned his head, the charm that Celty gave him earlier was floating in mid-air, glowing black.
“Huh? That charm protected me?” he asked. Shinra crawled over for a closer look. He straightened his glasses. His eyes grew wide.
“Her shadows protected me!” he said. Shinra took one more look at that strange book. Someone delivered that to her? No wonder none of the staff wanted to get close to it. Shinra probably should’ve just left it as it was. What was even in the other bag? The doctor probably didn’t want to know. He shouldn’t have agreed to do this. What did his father push him into?
So why was he so drawn to that book again?
Meanwhile, a body lay on the living room floor of an upscale apartment in the richer part of Ikebukuro. It was going to be hours before it was found.