Chapter 16: A Much-Needed Rest
"FUCKING BITCH! MY EYE! THAT FUCKING HURTS, GODDAMMIT!"
Minene Uryuu clutched the entire left side of her face as the needle went straight into her left eye. Her remaining eye darted from the platinum haired woman far across her to the teen laid out right at her feet, all while she screamed all sorts of profanities in her agony. And all the while, her blood flowed freely from her ruined eye as she yanked out the needle that had punctured it, before tossing it aside to the dirt.
That… was unexpected…
Though he was still sore everywhere from leaping down from the roof – and then getting thrown violently to the ground – Yukiteru remained conscious enough to observe that things hadn't gone quite according to plan. On one hand, he'd executed his part perfectly, starting with that aerial assassination from the roof mere seconds ago. It hadn't worked, not that he expected it to; given that Uryuu had clearly known about his Assassin training, he'd anticipated that she had made the necessary preparations. To be more precise, he counted on the likelihood that she was wearing some sort of armor underneath her outfit that could ward off at least a hidden blade, and thus foil his attack.
Of course, that would leave the terrorist open to Minerva's own assault. To wit, just as she punished Yukiteru's aerial assassination by throwing him to the ground before her, Minerva capitalized on the opening. The tranquilizer needle she'd fired off using her Phantom Blade had been intended to find its mark either in the enemy's head or in her neck, in order to neutralize the immediate threat she posed without killing her and setting off her dead-man's switch in the process.
Funny how that turned out, though…
"Nice work there, kid," said a voice.
"You've got balls, that's for sure."
Both Yukiteru and Minerva looked towards the newcomer. A tall, grizzled man had crossed the threshold into the school, and judging from how he was clad in a navy blue suit underneath a bulletproof vest, he was probably one of the policemen who had come to resolve the situation. And at the moment, he had a pistol leveled straight at the maimed terrorist's heart.
"Give up already, Uryuu," he warned the terrorist as he audibly disengaged the safety on his gun. "Even you can't fight your way out in your current condition."
Given the grievous injury she'd suffered, both Yukiteru and Minerva – as well as Itachi, who continued to watch events unfold from his view on the roof – were fully expecting Minene Uryuu to surrender and come quietly. If not that, they wouldn't have been surprised if she made another threat to blow the place to smithereens out of spite. Needless to say, her reaction was probably the last thing any of them ever expected.
It started out as a chuckle, one soft enough that only Yukiteru could hear. Eventually, though, it increased in volume. And before long, the terrorist had thrown her head back in a fit of crazed, manic laughter, even as her left hand continued to cover the entire left side of her face.
"DON'T MOCK ME!"
At those words, the entire courtyard was suddenly covered with a thick blanket of smoke. Both Yukiteru and the law enforcer squeezed their eyes shut.
"Good luck catching me with my Escape Diary!"
As the voice rang out, Minerva switched to her thermal imaging mode, before scanning the area in a vain attempt to locate their enemy. Not that it made any difference, though, as the smoke cleared within seconds.
Yukiteru – having gotten to his knees in the meantime – looked around him to see where the terrorist had gone, but it was as if she'd disappeared. Indeed, all that was left of Minene Uryuu was a small tablet computer that occupied the spot she had been standing in.
Looking at it as he slumped face first into the dirt, Yukiteru saw that the tablet was what she had been using to monitor and control her bombs and explosives. More importantly, the brief glimpse he got of the screen told him that she'd deactivated all bombs in the area. It made sense, really. In doing so, she could focus all her efforts on escaping, without having to worry about setting off one of her own traps.
Still, how'd… she get… away…?
Unfortunately, Yukiteru lost consciousness the instant after his mind formed those thoughts, his vision fading to black as the last of his strength left him and the rush of adrenaline gave way to utter exhaustion.
When he came to, he found himself in a nice, comfy bed, in what looked like his school's satellite infirmary.
"Oh, good, you're awake."
Sitting up in his bed, Yukiteru found that he wasn't alone. Seated on a chair to his right was Minerva, who gave him a look of relief, pride and joy, all at the same time. At the same time, the detective from earlier stood right at the food of his bed. And when he looked to his left, he saw Yuno laid out on another bed, looking peaceful and serene in her sleep.
"Yuki-kun," Minerva began tentatively, "How do you feel? You passed out on the field earlier."
It didn't take long for him to remember what happened. Infamous terrorist and mercenary Minene Uryuu had shown up here at school, apparently having been hired to take him out as well as Yuno. She'd riddled the whole campus with bombs, too, in the process taking the entire school as her hostages. And of course, he remembered the makeshift plan he'd thought up…
"She didn't… get away, did she?" he inquired, wishing in the next instant that he'd never spoken. Given the somber looks shared between Minerva and the detective, the answer to his question was obvious.
"Sorry, kid," said the latter, his stoic expression betraying just a hint of frustration at their lack of success in apprehending the terrorist. "We couldn't stop her, not without risking that her dead-man's switch was still online."
Yukiteru's insides burned with frustration. On one hand, it was obvious that simply assassinating Uryuu was out of the question, considering how she'd all but turned herself into a living bomb trigger. Indeed, it was with that knowledge that he'd designed a plan focusing on downing the terrorist with a tranquilizer and not other, more lethal solutions. And yet despite all that, he couldn't beat back the strong sense of guilt that threatened to consume him.
"We'll get her, kid, don't worry," the detective reassured him. "My Diary was built precisely to help against her kind."
His Diary? So that means…
"Detective Keigo Kurusu, at your service," he introduced himself, smiling, as he held out his hand to Yukiteru.
"Yukishiro told me of your help yesterday, thanks for that by the way."
And as the two of them shook hands, the detective leaned in close to whisper something in the teen's ear that ended up getting his attention:
"Come by the department tomorrow and bring the girl with you. We've got a lot to discuss. I'd like to stop whoever thought of this screwed-up Survival Game before things go to hell, and to do that, I need your help."
Upon hearing those words, the teen decided he'd take the detective up on his offer.
The world isn't split into good people and Templars, after all…
And as he made his decision, Yukiteru took comfort that however horrible the day had started out, at least it could only get better from here.
Later that day, as Minerva drove them home…
"You feeling better now?" Yukiteru asked as he addressed Yuno, who at the moment was in the back seat.
The wide, radiant smile on the rose-haired girl's face was an answer in itself. More importantly, she certainly looked a lot healthier, too, in stark contrast to her pallor earlier this morning, right before Uryuu's attack. "I'm feeling much better, thanks, Yukki!" she replied, beaming.
"Still, it might be best if you sleep over at our place tonight," interjected Minerva even as she kept her eyes on the road. "We've got lots of rooms, after all. And really, it's not good for a beautiful young lass like you to be home alone all the time!"
Neither she nor Yukiteru were surprised when Yuno perked up at the offer. "Really, for real!?" she asked, practically bouncing up and down on her seat at the prospect. "Sure, why not?"
"Bene," Minerva nodded approvingly at her enthusiasm.
"Excellent, Yuno. We've got family over, so you can get to know them as well!"
Looks like I was wrong.
Today just got a whole lot worse.
Yukiteru rolled his eyes as he resolutely stared outside the window while the two women took the chance to get more acquainted with each other.
It was Lorenzo who greeted them at the door when Minerva rang the bell, having parked the car in the garage beforehand.
"Oh hey, Minerva, Yuki-kun. So, who's the young lady you brought over for this evening?"
"Evening, uncle Lorenzo," the persocom responded. "This is Yuno Gasai, Yuki-kun's classmate and special friend," she added emphasis on the last word, winking at him while nudging the youth with her elbow. "She'll be staying in the guest room beside his room."
"I see," the older man nodded as he smiled down at the girl in question. "Come on in, then! You're all just in time for dinner!"
Yukiteru's face was bright red as Lorenzo led them through the halls, towards the dining area where they were going to have dinner tonight. According to his sisters, their uncle had invited some guests of his own as well, though Yukiteru had yet to actually meet them. From what he'd heard, though, it was his latest lover as well as her own younger sibling, who she'd been raising as a surrogate son of sorts. Oh, well. They'll become family eventually, I suppose.
"Well, we're here," his uncle finally announced as they reached the dining room. True enough, there were two occupants who were already there: a dark-haired woman, seated right beside an equally dark-haired boy, with striking amethyst eyes, who must have been young enough to still be in elementary school.
"Sit down, you two, I'm pretty sure you're both starving by now."
Yukiteru and Yuno both did as they were told.
And after a few moments of silence, it was Lorenzo who spoke first, gesturing towards the woman and the boy who faced Yuno and Yukiteru, respectively.
"Now that we're all here, why don't I introduce you two? Yuno-chan, Yuki-kun, I'd like you both to meet Sayuri and Rei Mikage."
"…My girlfriend, and her little brother."
Today just keeps getting more and more interesting, doesn't it?
As she hid in the basement of the abandoned warehouse just near Sakurami High School, Minene Uryuu took the opportunity to take a much-needed rest.
I swear, this is the worst day ever.
Wrapping a bandage around her injured eye, Minene reflected that it was a good thing she thought to acquire some basic medical supplies before carrying out her contract. More importantly, she thought, it was a good thing she'd appropriated this place as her makeshift hideout here in the city. While the Mayor and his secretary had repeatedly assured her that she didn't need to worry about getting double-crossed herself, she found it difficult if not impossible to take them at their word. Not only was she a cautious person all the way since childhood, she often found that it was that caution on her part that ended up saving her, time and again.
"Heh… It'd be real dumb to depend on anyone else, anyway…" she muttered as she checked herself; luckily, apart from her ruined eye, she didn't have much else in the way of wounds or injuries. Despite herself, she wished for a brief moment that she'd trusted the Mayor; if she did, it probably would've been a trained professional checking up on her right now, and she wouldn't be trying to treat her own wounds in the basement of some dilapidated building. Then, just as quickly, she dismissed the thought. That'd be absolutely ridiculous, anyway. I didn't get this far by relying on others.
Despite her Japanese name and background, not to mention her fluency in the language, Minene Uryuu had been born and raised in war-torn Afghanistan. She was barely a toddler when the United States invaded Iraq, the fallout of which had certain consequences for the people in neighboring Arab countries such as her own. For that matter, she'd just turned 9 years old when she and her parents found themselves caught in a suicide bombing during a small church service they'd been attending, instigated by a young, innocent-looking boy who calmly walked up to the altar and then blew himself up right there. And of everyone gathered there, only Uryuu herself had survived; the rest, including her parents, had either died from the blast itself, or crushed to death under falling debris.
Everyone's gotta start somewhere, I suppose.
Needless to say, it was that event in her life that had the most profound impact on her, and which would go on to shape the course of her life from that moment on. At 14 years old, where most other youths would have merely just begun their first steps towards adulthood, Uryuu bombed her first target: an Islamic school, which she knew full well to be a secret training ground for suicide bombers like the one who'd killed her parents. She'd since gone on to hit other sites, all of which had a common characteristic as being 'religious' grounds of sorts.
What a joke!
"In this world, there is no justice," she said to herself, repeating the mantra she'd lived by ever since she was a child.
"In this world, there is no God."
"Really?" said an unfamiliar voice that interrupted her monologue.
The terrorist stood bolt upright at those words. And as she did, a young, shaggy haired man clad in some sort of combat uniform entered the room, his face hidden behind a long, flowing yellow scarf. Sizing him up, Uryuu noted that this one was different from the one she'd faced earlier today; nevertheless, he was unlikely to be friendly, if the gun holstered at his side and the short sword on his back were anything to go by.
"You're Minene Uryuu, notorious terrorist, right?" he began in a tone that was friendly enough, though it was spoken in the air of a man preparing for battle. "It's an honor."
"My name's Shouichi Ogami, and my lady would like to meet you as well."
And as the fugitive drew her gun and leveled it at Shouichi's face, he rolled just in time to avoid the gunshot that followed, before answering her challenge with a few bullets of his own…