Black Swan Wonderland


Halo Twelve: Taida:

Kadota’s phone buzzed beside him the next morning. He grumbled to himself as he pawed around for it. Who the hell was trying to call him this early? The man finally picked up his phone. But it wasn’t a phone call. This was a text. Kadota didn’t recognize the number. Now normally under a situation like this, he would’ve deleted the number. But since this was early in the morning, the man tapped the screen.

A puzzled look came over his face.

“Huh? What the hell is this?” he asked. The text was filled with numbers, coordinates to be exact. Then there came a knock on his door. Now what? More knocking on the door became a motive for him to get out of bed. The man didn’t come unprepared for this, however.

“Who is it?” he asked.

“This is where Kadota Kyohei lives, right?” a woman’s voice asked.

“Why?” he asked. There came a pause.

“Did you get the text too?” the woman asked. That was enough for him to open the door. A woman with a short black ponytail stood outside. Beside her stood a young man with short dark hair. The woman shifted on her feet. Right away, Kadota remembered their names.

“Hifumi? Norio?” he asked. Hifumi took a breath of relief.

“Good, you remember us,” she said. “We don’t have much time. Get dressed and come on!” Kadota started to speak but Hifumi stuck up her hand.

“Don’t talk! Just get there!” she shouted. “We don’t have much time!” Kadota put up his hands.

“Alright,” he said. “Alright. I’m going.” Kadota turned back into his apartment. The two tadpoles followed him inside.

-Rampo Biotech-

“Thank you for the watch,” Kitano said as he looked at the bag. He stared at the detail under the plastic.

“You’re welcome,” Daichi said with a bow. Osamu bowed his head. Kitano looked up at his colleagues.

“Osamu, could you see me after work hours?” he asked. “I need to talk to you about something important.”

“Me?” Osamu asked.

“Yes,” Kitano said. “Meet me in my office.”

“Alright,” the gruff man said.

“Good,” the therapist said. He turned and walked over to the now-glowing altar. Kitano opened the bag and dropped the watch into its rightful spot. A low hum came from the mini-altar. A cold smile spread across his face.

“Perfect,” he said. “Only three more to go.”

“We’re heading back to work now,” Osamu said.

“Alright,” Kitano said. The men bowed and walked out the door. Once they were gone, the therapist pulled out his phone. He smirked to himself.

He would be watching the news around five.

Emily stared at her phone panting. Twenty-eight missed calls. All from a blocked number. But she knew who it was.

The first call was just heavy breathing on the other line. Emily stared at her phone when she got home.

“What the heck?” she asked. She didn’t have to listen to all of the messages to know what they were. Blocking the number didn’t help. The calls would still keep coming. Heavy breathing at first. The calls would last about ten seconds before hanging up. She did tell her homeroom teacher what was going on the day.

“Have you gone to the police yet?” she asked. Emily shook her head.

“Emily, this is not good,” the teacher said. “You could have a potential stalker on your hands. You have to stop this before it escalates.”

“But what do I tell them?” she asked. “I can’t prove that it’s them. I don’t even know who it is.” That last part was a lie, of course.

“That’s no excuse,” her teacher said. “You are a victim of a crime! You can’t let it get worse.” Emily’s eyes shifted away from her.

“Do you want me to call the police with you?” the teacher asked. The tadpole girl finally nodded.

“Okay,” the teacher said. She pulled out her phone and made the call. Emily’s stomach turned. Already, she had the feeling that they had already made a big mistake.

“Tell me again what’s going?” Kadota asked. Hifumi glanced over her shoulder.

“Basically, some deities are coming into the living world and are fighting to unleash their powers,” she said.

“The fuck?” Kadota asked.

“You’ll have to see it,” she said. Norio glanced over his shoulder once before turning back. Kadota looked at him phone again.

“How far are we going again?” he asked. The trio walked through neighborhoods that they didn’t recognize. In fact, some of the houses looked abandoned. Kadota didn’t remember ever seeing this place before.

“We are going in the right direction,” Hifumi said. The gangster frowned to himself. That didn’t answer his question. Norio didn’t talk the whole time. Kadota shoved his hands into his pockets. Maybe he should call Erika or Saburo.

“Don’t do it,” Hifumi said. Kadota looked up at her back. He had his phone in his hand.

“They can’t help us,” she said. “It has to be just us.” Kadota opened his mouth.

“Please don’t argue,” the chain tadpole pleaded. “Just don’t call them.” The gangster hesitated at first before letting go of his phone.

“Thank you,” Hifumi said, breathing out. Kadota didn’t like where this was going. How long had they had been walking? They started in ten in the morning. By now, it was close to one. Were they leaving the city?

“How much longer do we have to go?” Kadota asked.

“We’re just about there,” Hifumi said. Norio nodded once in agreement. The gangster looked behind them once before following with no more questions. Not once did Norio say a word.

Emily finally made it home. The police promised that they would investigate. She didn’t have any high hopes for that.

“I’m home,” the tadpole said to herself. Her mother would be working late tonight. Emily shivered at the thought. She hated being alone now. She felt her body being pulled backward and pressed against a strong body. Taiyou hugged her and wouldn’t let go. Emily slowly reached up for his arm.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“Are you okay, Emily-sama?” the familiar spirit asked. The tadpole shook her head. She sank to her knees.

“Can you just hold me like this for a while?” Emily asked.

“Yes, Emily-sama,” he said. She breathed out heavily. Tears filled her eyes.

“What am I going to do?” she whispered. “I’m so scared.” Taiyou rested his chin atop her head. He felt like a tight security blanket.

“Now hold still,” Etsuko said. “You will feel a pinch.” The poor receptionist tried to nod her head. The doctor pulled out her needle and stuck it into the side of her face. The receptionist shuddered. Etsuko started draining the puss. This was going to take a while. The doctor happened to look up and see Roc heading out the door.

“Excuse me!” Etsuko shouted. “Where are you going, Segawa?” The intern turned his head. He had an eerily calm look on his face.

“I won’t be going too far,” he said. “Just out. I will be back, I promise.” Then Roc headed out the door. Etsuko didn’t get a chance to respond. Still, she couldn’t leave the patient next to her. The side of the face started to go down.

“How are you doing?” Etsuko asked. The receptionist nodded.

“You will have a bit of a scar at best,” the doctor said. “But you will be a happy woman after this.” In the back of her mind, Etsuko had to talk to Kitano about Roc’s behavior.

Just as the sun was about to set. Kadota and his group made it to the woods. He had a puzzled look on his face.

“This is it?” he asked.

“Yes,” Hifumi said. Kadota felt himself frowning. This had to be a joke. This had to be. A heavy gust of wind blew by. The tadpoles looked up as if on instinct. Kadota looked up as well.

There she was.

The pale ninja woman stood on a branch looking down at them.

“Yo!” Kadota shouted. “Why did you call us out here?” The woman looked down at her targets. She didn’t say anything as she jumped down from that tall tree. She didn’t even make a sound as she landed. The woman reached into the thin air and pulled out a small tablet. She started typing on the screen.

[I am so glad you made it.]

The trio read the screen. Kadota blinked. She was just like Celty. The woman started typing again.

[My name is Taida and I am the deity of sloth.] She typed more on the screen.

[You and I are to duel for one hour. The whole forest is our battleground. No one is going to disturb us. You will not have to worry about damaging the trees. There is a barrier around the whole forest.] Taida pulled out a yen coin from her top and chucked it towards a tree. The coin pressed against the tree and landed back into her hand. The trio watched in silence. Taida began to type on her tablet again.

[You will get three questions before we begin.]

Kadota stepped forward. “Who sent you?”

Taida began typing again. [No one. We all came here due to being drawn to different people.] Kadota frowned at her answer.

“How many of them are you?” Hifumi asked.

Taida started to type again. [Seven. Four of us are already here.]

Kadota narrowed his eyes. “Are you after the Dollars?” At first, the deity of sloth looked confused. She started typing away her answer.

[Dollars? We have no interest in your gangs. We just want our powers back.] She reached up into the sky and pulled out a long steel blade. She got right into fighting stance. Kadota put up his fists. So it would be that kind of fight. Hifumi drew her chains from her hands. Norio pulled out his needles.

Who was going to make the first move?

Taida leaped up in the air. The trio didn’t get a chance to see where she went.

“Huh?” Kadota asked. “What the hell?” The deity came down with her blade pointed towards him. The man managed to jump out of the way in time. Taida looked up at him and grinned. A shiver ran through his body. He liked her better with a stoic look on her face. Kadota took a swing. Taida moved before had a chance to blink. Damn, did she have to be that fast?

Norio looked around at what they had to work with. He spotted what looked like a dirty old sock doll. The tadpole rolled to the side. He tossed out one needle. It landed right on the forehead. The little creature twitched around in the grass before it stood up. It picked up two blades of grass threw them towards the deity. Taida looked down in time to sail to the left. That put her in Kadota’s line to punch her in the right cheek. She didn’t scream out. Taida stepped back into place. No emotion on her face.

Kadota figured that his best course of action was to knock out this deity to declare a victory. He’d fought quite a few tough girls before. Those were the ones that didn’t mind taking a punch to the face. Taida seemed to be no different. The biggest obstacle was how fast she could move. He just needed a way to slow her down long enough to fight back.

Hifumi kept her eyes on the deity swinging her blade around. It all came down to timing. She held her chains in hands. I just need to get this chain around one of her ankles. Kadota dodged Taida’s blade again before launching another punch to her face.

“Damn, you’re good,” he said. She gave him a smirk before aiming for his right shoulder blade. The gangster didn’t move out of the way in time. He clinched his teeth but he didn’t scream. Taida pulled back her blade for another attack. This time, Kadota wouldn’t give her the chance. He dodges out of the way in time before moving behind her and grabbing her by the waist. The deity whipped her head around. One or both of them were going to hit the ground. She used her right foot to kick herself out of his grasp. He would not let go so easily. Neither said a word in the struggle. Kadota kept down the pain to the best that he could. He felt worse. The only thing to hope for was that the blade didn’t have any poison on it.

Taida finally managed to kick herself out of his grasp. Kadota fell over onto his side. She came at him with her blade again. He managed to roll out of the way in time. Taida pulled her blade out of the ground and sailed after him. Kadota managed to land a punch to her throat. Norio’s sock doll pulled out more grass blades and threw them like spears towards the deity’s feet. The tadpoles frowned as they realized a huge problem.

“She keeps going too fast,” Hifumi said.

“I know!” Kadota shouted. He dodged the sword in time. The man got nixed on his right cheek. He gave Taida an uppercut shot as a result. She flew backward before she got her bearings back.

That’s when Norio heard a buzzing noise behind him. He turned to see a small black hole opening up in the dimming light. A black and glowing object came floating out. The needle tadpole tilted his head as it clicked at what he was looking at. He reached out for what looked like a small stun gun. Norio didn’t feel the small burn on his hand. Still, it didn’t take him long to figure out what should come next.

“Kadota-san!” Norio shouted.

“Huh?” Kadota asked, caught off-guard. Taida got him in the right shoulder blade again. This time, the wound went deeper. He clenched his teeth as she pulled out the tip. Kadota had to split his attention between Taida and Norio. The needle tadpole rose to his feet. He tossed the stun gun to the gangster. Kadota caught it from a long distance. The deity didn’t even try to attack. She looked rather perplexed.

“Where did you get this?” Kadota asked him. Norio shrugged. The gangster frowned. It didn’t feel right for his style to actually use a weapon. But this case was the exception. It had to be due to Taida coming towards her with blade again. She didn’t say a word. As if on instinct, Kadota aimed for the chest. The weapon made a loud crackling noise. Taida’s body went stiff with wide eyes.

“There!” Hifumi shouted. She used her chains to wrap around the deity’s right ankle.

“Now!” she shouted. Kadota gave her a quick nod. He delivered one more punch to the deity’s face. She was out cold. It felt kind of dirty to pull a cheap trick like that. But this woman would not go down. He only hoped that he didn’t overdo it. Hifumi and Norio ran over to them.

“Are you okay?” Hifumi asked.

“Yeah,” Kadota said. “Is she dead?”

“I doubt it,” she said. “We can’t really kill her. She’s a deity, you know.” He was about to speak when he caught something out of the corner of his eye.

“Huh?” he asked. Taida made slowly lifted her head. Kadota put his fists up. Instead, the deity looked him in the eye. She only said one thing to him.

“I really enjoyed our fight.”

And then she was gone. Hifumi’s chain fell and broke into dust. Kadota turned to the two tadpoles.

“Now what?” he asked. Hifumi shrugged and shook her head. Norio just shook his head. Kadota was about to speak when his phone buzzed.

“Excuse me,” he said. The man pulled out his phone. One look at his screen shifted his mood.

“I’ve got to go,” Kadota said. He turned and walked back the way he came. Hifumi and Norio looked at each other before watching him leave. It didn’t take them long for them to depart.

She drew back, panting heavily. She looked at her latest work. Her mother lay naked in their bathtub. Fifty-eight stab wounds covered her old wrinkled body. The light in her eyes had long since been snuffed out. She started laughing breathlessly like a madwoman. That old crone won’t be criticizing her anymore. No more looks of disappointment on her face. No more pressures to get married and have kids. No more comparing her to other girls. No more condescending speeches. She was now… free.

She slowly rose to her feet. There was still more work to do. She already had what she needed packed up for staying a few nights away from the crime scene. Speaking of the crime scene, it was time to make the task complete.

First, she needed blood. And lots of it. Good thing she had plenty of it from a rather “generous” source. She counted about twenty-eight bags of blood. This should be enough. Good thing she plugged up the tub before hand. It was annoying enough to get that old bitch into the tub. She was heavy for a woman in her seventies. With that part out of the way, she had to focus on the art portion of her sacrifice.

She couldn’t be half-assed with the details. This was art after all. She opened the first pack and dumped it into the tub. The little bit fills the bottom. A cold smile spread across her face. This one was going to be her favorite. It would take time but she had more than enough of that. They were working from home at the moment until they could get a more permanent boss to run the Tokyo branch of their company. Fine by her. She wasn’t going to complain. Not at all.

Once the tub was filled, she stood up. Now for the tricky part. She ordered some parts off of the deep web. It took her about a day and a half to put this boiler device. She looked over at her mother. The body’s mouth was wide open in indefinite shock. She sneered at the look on her mother’s face. Funny, she never looked so scared and weak in her life. She smirked and shook her head.

“Not so brave now, are you?” she asked. She put the device into the bathtub. It would take a while for the blood to boil. She took a step back and smiled. She had nothing else to say to that evil old bat. But she couldn’t go just yet. The blood splatter could stay where it was. Knives scattered all over the bathroom floor. She added the nice touch of fake plastic guns and toy weapons. She would carry the evidence with her back to Rampo Biotech. It was tempting to burn the apartment down. But she forced herself to walk out of the place she was forced to call home for most of her life. She smirked to herself as she walked away.

So this was what freedom felt like.

Even though she didn’t need to sleep, it still felt good to close your eyes and sleep off some of the pain. Emily awoke on her bed in the evening. Taiyou was sound asleep in the corner of her room. A sense of calm washed over her. It felt good not to think about her misery for a change. She just needed to talk to her brothers and sisters to figure out what to do. For once, it seemed that everything could be fine for a change.

But then her phone buzzed on the floor.

Emily froze. It was too good for that thought to last. Against her better judgment, the tadpole picked up her phone. She had one new text message. The number was blocked. Instinct told her not to open. Sadly, her finger was drawn to the buttons on her keypad. The text only said one sentence. That was all it took.

“Look out your window.”

Emily sat up with a jolt and walked over to her window. The color drained from her face when she looked down.

Roc was standing outside of her apartment, looking. He was smirking at her like a wild rabid animal.

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