Halo Fourteen: Rokujo:
Kitano stared at the Heartseed. Emily’s stem had already sunk into the plant. That’s one more tadpole gone. He looked up when he heard a knock on his door.
“Enter!” the therapist said. Etsuko and Aya walked into his office.
“Oh good, you’re here,” he said. “Shut the door.” Etsuko closed the door behind her. Kitano took a breath.
“You know why you are here,” he said.
“Yes,” Etsuko said. “What do you want to do about him?” Kitano moved his arms behind his head.
“Firing him is out of the question,” he said. “I refuse to give him the chance to seek revenge with the other two groups against us. But we can’t let him go free after what he did to Emily.” He turned and looked up at Aya.
“And you want me to be the one to discipline him?” she asked. Kitano pressed his hands together.
“Now, I don’t usually ask you to do your magic because you have other skills under your belt,” he said. “But as it stands, I am at an impasse. The worst thing I could do is nothing. But I do not want to make the problem worse than it already is.”
“So you want me to curse him?” Aya asked.
“Do as you see fit,” he said. “But you have to do it before he does something else that could derail us.” Aya bowed her head.
“Understood,” she said. “I have just the thing in mind.”
“Excellent,” Kitano said.
“When shall we see the effect of Emily’s death in the other tadpoles?” Etsuko asked. Kitano turned back to the Heartseed plant.
“I would give it a few hours,” he said. “Our guest should be coming soon.” The women nodded.
Masaomi found Mikado sitting outside of his apartment. He had a dazed look in his eyes. The blonde shogun’s heart sank.
“Mikado? What are you doing out here?” he asked. The tadpole looked up at him.
“She’s dead,” he said.
“Huh? What do you mean?” Masaomi asked.
“Emily’s dead,” Mikado said. His friend’s jaw dropped.
“What?” he asked. The tadpole used his hands to mimic someone jumping off the roof of a building.
“She thought she was a bird,” his voice trembled.
“I’m so sorry to hear that,” Masaomi said. He walked over and pulled his friend into his arms. Tears formed in Mikado’s eyes. His best friend heard him say something inaudible.
“What did you say?” Masaomi asked. He looked Mikado right in the eyes.
“I am a shinigami,” he murmured.
“What are you talking about?” his best friend asked. The tadpole sniffled.
“I’ve watched them all die,” he said. “Satoshi, Azusa, Emily…” The tadpole trembled. “I was there and they died.” Masaomi took Mikado by the face.
“Listen to me,” he said. “Look at me. Look at me.” His friend stared at him as a single tear ran down his cheek. The blond shogun sighed.
“I had to kill Satoshi,” he said. “Otherwise he would’ve killed you.”
“Wouldn’t that have been better?” Mikado asked in a weak voice. Masaomi frowned.
“I am going to pretend you didn’t say that,” he said. “I don’t ever want to hear you say anything like that ever again man, do you understand me?” The tadpole trembled at first.
“Do you understand me?” his friend asked again.
“Yes,” Mikado whimpered. Masaomi pulled him towards his chest.
“Let’s get you inside,” he whispered. The tadpole didn’t say a word as Masaomi walked him into the apartment.
The Wasteland started to spread to the Saitama region.
It took days for Rokujo Chikage to see it. It started with a text. He got it around three in the morning. He wouldn’t see it under seven in the morning before classes.
“Huh?” he asked. The sender came from a blocked number. Now, any other person would’ve deleted the text and moved on. But Chikage just had to look. He opened the text message. There were no words inside. Just one photo. It looked like one of his boys violently beaten. He laid out in the street with his coat cover in blood. The bike was even smashed to pieces.
Rage built up inside of Rocchi. He started typing up a response.
“Who the fuck are you?” he wrote. The gang leader hit send but the message was unable to send. Rocchi frowned. This wasn’t going to be the last text he got either.
By noon, a woman in armor made her way up to Rampo Biotech. Yep, this was the right place. Time to get this over with. She walked up to the doors and went inside.
By now, the receptionist’s face looks normal again. She still has a little bit of trouble breathing. Her cheeks had some discoloration and a scar where the injection site was. The woman in armor walked up to the front desk.
“Can I help you?” the receptionist asked. The woman in armor gave her an odd look.
“What happened to your face?” she asked.
“I had a reaction a few days ago,” the younger woman said. “Do you want to go to Lab 528?”
“Yes,” the armored woman said. The receptionist pointed to the elevators.
“Fifth floor,” she said. “Use the elevators.”
“Thank you,” the armored woman said. She bowed her head and walked over to the elevators. The receptionist waved.
Daichi and Osamu were already waiting.
“I’ve got this one,” Osamu said. Daichi just bowed his head. The older man walked over to the door as he heard it buzz. He punched in the key code. Osamu stepped back as the door slid open. The red-haired woman stood in the doorway with her armor.
“Welcome,” the older man said. “We have been expecting you.” She sneered and rolled her eyes.
“Can we get this over with?” she asked. She shifted in place where she stood.
“Okay,” Osamu said. “Right this way.” She followed him into the lab. Daichi turned and bowed.
“Hello,” he said. The woman glared at him. Daichi went quiet.
“How can we help you?” Osamu asked. The woman clicked her tongue as she held up her hand. Daichi jumped at what he saw in her hand.
“Whoa! What is that?!” he asked. She waved around a silver .38 pistol in the air.
“Take this thing off of me!” she shouted. “It’s tacky. I can’t use it. I’ve tried tossing it, selling it, and even breaking it. But it always comes back in one piece! I just want to get rid of this damned thing!” Osamu nodded.
“We’re on it,” he said. He pulled out the pill bottle from his pocket. The man twisted the cap off and dropped the white pill into his hand.
“You just swallow and you will be a happy woman,” he said. The armored woman wrinkled her nose.
“I don’t take drugs!” she snapped.
“Oh trust me,” Osamu insisted. “You will want to take this. You want to get rid of that useless gun, don’t you?” The woman frowned for a moment. Osamu and Daichi waited patiently. She rolled her eyes.
“Fine,” the woman muttered. “I’ll take it.” Osamu dropped the pill in her free hand. She reluctantly took it. A jolt ran through her body. The gun dropped into the bag that Osamu held open under her hand. He stood up and closed up the bag.
“How are you feeling?” the older man asked. The woman looked at the hand that once held the gun. She flexed her fingers and perked up.
“Wow!” she said. “My hand is free!”
“You’re welcome,” Osamu said. The woman bowed and turned to the door.
“Hey!” the older man called. She turned and looked back as her hand turned the surface of the door.
“Yeah?” she asked. The older man didn’t even wait ask aloud.
“Where are you headed to now?” he asked. Daichi stared at his back. The woman smiled to herself.
“Oh, just a little trip to Saitama,” she said. “I will get him to fight me this time. See you around.” And then she was gone.
Roc knocked on Kitano’s office door.
“Come in!” his boss called. The intern opened the door.
“I’m coming,” he said in a hushed tone. A confused look came over his face when he saw, Kitano, Etsuko, and Aya in the room.
“Uh… What is this?” he asked.
“Come and sit down,” Kitano said. Roc slowly walked over to the chair in front of the desk and sat down. The silence could choke everyone in the room. The intern had a guess to what this was about. Roc opened his mouth to speak but Kitano put up his hand.
“Do you know why I called you?” he asked. Roc was about to speak but the therapist put up his hand.
“Only yes or no will suffice,” Kitano said. The intern drew his mouth closed.
“Yes,” he said.
“Emily’s dead, you know?” he said. “She jumped off of the Tokyo Hands building early this morning.” Roc snorted.
“How is that my fault?” he asked. Etsuko gave him a cold judgmental look. Kitano looked at his intern stone-faced.
“You caused her death when you stalked and violated her,” he said. “You also stole keycards to break into a restricted lab to steal equipment for your own gain. This is all unacceptable.” Roc sat back in the chair and folded his arms across his chest.
“Are you going to fire me?” he asked.
“No,” Kitano said. His intern had a confused look on his face.
“Huh?” he asked.
“Hold out your hand,” the therapist said. Roc didn’t move at first.
“Please hold out your right hand, palm down,” Kitano said. Roc sighed and complied. Aya pulled out a black feather with red jewels on it. The intern’s eyes widened as he figured out where this was heading. Aya licked the sharp tip of the feather and begins drawing on Roc’s skin. The intern refused to scream in pain. He looked Kitano in the eye.
“What is this?” he asked through gritted teeth.
“I will not fire you,” Kitano said without missing a beat. “But your actions will not go unpunished.” Aya tried to keep steady as she drew on Roc’s hand.
“Keep still,” she growled. Etsuko took hold of the intern’s wrist and held him down. Aya was done within seconds. She breathed out and drew back her feather. Roc sat panting. He watched as the lines in his hands disappeared into his skin.
“What did you do to me?” Roc asked.
“Consider it a measure to keep you in line,” Aya said. “I have placed a curse on you.”
“You what?” he asked.
“It would be in your best interest to behave,” Kitano added. “Every act of misconduct will take a year off of your life. You’ve already lost four years already.” Roc gave him an icy look but didn’t say a word. He wasn’t stupid.
“Is there a way to get them back?” the intern asked.
“No,” Aya said. Roc’s facial expression went flat. Figures.
“I am also cutting you pay in half,” Kitano said. “You will make less than the girls. You are dismissed.” Roc forced himself to grin as he bowed his head. He got up and walked out of the office without a word.
“Think that will be enough?” Aya asked.
“Yes,” Kitano said. “We can’t afford to have anymore of our pets dying yet. We still have so much work to do them all after.”
“Shall I prepare the next butterfly then?” Aya asked.
“Why yes,” Kitano said.
“Excuse me,” Aya said. She took a bow and walked out of the office.
“I’m going back to the hospital,” Etsuko said. “Excuse me.” She bowed and headed out the door.
It took three more of Rokujo’s men to get beaten up to track down the culprit. They moved pretty quickly. The texts kept taunting him. For most of the day, it got him nowhere. His girlfriends didn’t know what to do either.
“Have you found them yet?” Non asked. Rocchi shook his head. That’s when his phone buzzed again. Another new message. The gang leader opened up the message. He got another picture in the message. Only, this one was different.
A woman stood in the picture pointing the phone in front of her. She looked like a punk chick dressed in armor and black leather. Her smirk could but ice in a person’s veins. A strange sense of familiarity rushed through Rokujo’s mind. He jumped to his feet from the bed and rushed out the door.
“Rocchi?” Non asked. He shut the door behind him. Worried washed over his girlfriend’s face.
Junko sat back at her desk and smirked to herself.
“And then there were fifty,” the nurse said in the dark. She looked at the fifty remaining dots on the screen. It would be a matter of time before the other tadpoles would get Emily’s power.
“Hey! Hey! Hey!” a tiny voice shouted later in the afternoon. Mikado slowly drew open his eyes. A small face was really close up in his.