Halo Eighteen: Tsukumoya:
"Now, tell me again what happened," Vanessa said. Miiko took a deep breath.
"Shinra came into the lobby," she began again.
"Okay," the manager said.
"I erased the name off the judgement list," Miiko said. "We couldn't have him dead. So, I called Kishitani-sensei to the back with me." Victor stood behind her, matching. The receptionist lifted her head.
"We decided to you the Book of Osiris to perform the resurrection ritual on the doctor," she said.
"No, you decided that!" Victor said. "I said this was a bad idea!"
"Victor, please," Vanessa said. She turned back to the receptionist.
"Walk me through what happened," the manager said. "What all did you do?" Miiko closed her eyes for a moment. She drew another breath and opened her eyes.
"I had the book translated," the receptionist said. "Got all of the ingredients from the garden in the back. I had two people translate while we performed the ritual."
"And then?" Vanessa asked.
"I sent him along," Miiko said. She paused, waiting. Vanessa eyed her with an eyebrow raised.
"What all did you use?" she asked. "Do you still have the list?"
"Yes," Miiko said.
"May I see it?" Vanessa asked. The receptionist handed her the list.
"Thank you," the manager said. She read over the list. Miiko waited with bated breath. Victor walked up next to her. Vanessa lifted her head.
"Come look at this," she said. Miiko and Victor crowded around her for a better look. Vanessa pointed to the bottom of the list.
"Tell me what that says there," she said. Miiko narrowed her eyes.
"Nightshade?" she asked. She turned to Vanessa. The manager booked out the Book of Osiris. She had it open with the spell in question. She pointed to the last ingredient on the page.
"You were supposed get oleander," Vanessa said. "Why didn't you get me to translate this for you?" Miiko lowered her head.
"We didn't have time," I said. "The veil was going to be thick in a few days. We had to act fast in this war!" Vanessa gave her a calm smile as she patted her on the head.
"I understand," she said. "But you have to do some things properly." Miiko's lower lip trembled.
"I'm so sorry," she whimpered.
"You should've come to me for help," Vanessa said. "But we can't focus on the past right now." She walked over to her desk and pulled open the drawer.
"What are you doing?" Miiko asked. The manager turned with a brush and ink.
"We are going to fix the problem in person," she said. "You and Victor are going to come with me."
"Yes ma'am!" Miiko and Victor were quick to say. They came on either side of Vanessa and held her wrists. The manager closed her eyes and began chanting a spell under her breath.
The trio vanished into thin air.
-Six Days Earlier-
Mari sat in the basement typing away on her computer. She didn't like where the Diss Program was going. The more she decoded the program, the stranger things got. It's the supercomputer in the basement seemed to have a mind of its own. Mari couldn't shake the feeling that the computer was watching her. Right now, the programmer shivered.
"What is the matter?" Yoemon's voice asked over the speaker. Mari tried to ignore him.
"Why would you talk to me?" the voice asked. The programmer kept typing away. She would have to find a way to crash and shut down the program before it was too late.
Suddenly, she turned around when she heard the doors slide open. Etsuko stood in the doorway. Mari gave her a strange look.
"Asato-sensei?" she asked. "What are you doing here?" The doctor walked over to her computer.
"How are you coming with Diss Program?" Etsuko asked. Mari didn't turn around.
"Good," she said. "Everything is going good." The typing became slower on the keyboard.
"Not having any problems lately?" the doctor asked.
"No," Mari said. She forced her eyes onto the screen.
"Tell me something, Mari," Etsuko said. "Are you familiar with The Odyssey?"
"Yes," the programmer said.
"Cunning Odysseus angered Poseidon for not giving thanks for the victory in the Trojan War," the doctor said. "And as punishment, Odysseus ended taking ten more years to get home to his beloved wife and precious son."
"Okay…" Mari said. "Where are you going with this?" Etsuko waved her hand around as she talked.
"Meanwhile, his wife Penelope had to fend of countless suitors staying in her palace waiting to take Odysseus' place," she went on. "To stall making her choice of who her second husband, Penelope started waving a tapestry and every night she would undo her weaving to make the process longer than it needed to me."
"What are you saying?" Mari asked. Etsuko leaned down to the younger woman's ear.
"I think you are Penelope," she whispered. "The Diss Program is your loom. I know that you have been deleting some of the chord after hours. It would be in your best interest to stop doing that. But you wouldn't be doing something so stupid like that, would you?" Mari froze. She didn't answer and she didn't show a reaction. Etsuko stood back and smiled.
"Of course you wouldn't," she said. "Because you know how important this is for all of us. Keep up the good work." The doctor turned and walked out of the basement. Mari's stomach dropped as she her the door slide closed.
Mari sat on a hotel bed, trembling. Somebody had to have told on her. But who would do such a thing? She was careful not to erase the codes on the supercomputers in the Rampo basement. It had only been on her personal laptop. Only she had access to that. She never used net cafés or library computers for the Diss Program either.
That thought alone led to a sobering realization. Mari looked over at her laptop bag sitting on the bed. She hadn't touched her computer since yesterday. But would that be enough to slow down the process over the internet?
Mari didn't want to think about that scenario.
Walker has been in jail for three weeks. He started to remember everything that happened after he got arrested. This had happened before. They booked him the night he was arrested. Since then, Walker had been in his cell.
Strangely, he's been so calm. Walker couldn't explain it. Maybe because he had his ear to the ground. The guards and inmates talk. Boy did they have some juicy things to say. Mostly about the Dante Killer on the loose. But there was some other creepy things happening in Ikebukuro. Walker had a feeling it had something to do with the deity that he fought weeks earlier. Speaking of which, Walker had the feeling that wasn't going to be the last time he saw him.
Last night, a new inmate was placed in the cell next to Walker. The otaku got a good look at him. This newbie was about his age. He kept his head down. The otaku watched him being placed in the cell. Curious, Walker had to have a look. The guards uncuffed the prisoner and walked off.
"Hello?" Walker asked. There was no response at first. The otaku drew his knees to his chest and waited.
"Hello?" the man said back in a soft voice. Walker turned his head.
"What are you in here for?" he asked. There was a pause. The otaku walked over and looked out of the bars. Something about this guy held his attention.
"Don't want to talk about it?" Walker asked. The prisoner didn't answer. The otaku leaned against the wall.
"Okay, I will tell you why I'm here," he said. "I beat up a guy over manga. They say I tried to kill him."
"Did you?" the newbie asked. Walker shook his head.
"I don't know," he said. "It just happened." There came another pause.
"Are you dangerous?" the newbie asked. Walker kind of chuckled to himself.
"That would depend," he said.
"On what?" the newbie asked. The otaku smirked to himself.
"Are you an enemy?" he asked.
"No?" the other prisoner said. Walker lay down on the floor.
"Then, no," he said. "What about you? Are you dangerous?" At first, there was a long pause. The newbie mumbled to himself.
"Hm?" Walker asked. He managed to catch the answer that he heard before.
Walker could tell where this was going.
Mikado stood outside of the 7-11. His talk with Charlotte was enough to push him to do what he needed to do. The tadpole was at least going to be doing this right.
Alright, this was awkward.
The tadpole boy drew in a breath. Mikado walked up the glass doors. He just hoped that many people weren't inside.
Lucky for him, there only about four five people in the store. Good. Mikado breathed out in relief. He just needed to grab what he needed and get out. Don't talk to anybody and don't make any eye contact. It was good thing he looked his age.
Mikado made a B-line to the family planning aisle. He didn't dare to look up. Only Naomi could help him out.
"You want me to do what?" she asked. Mikado looked away with a bright red face.
"Can you make me enough money to buy a lot of condoms?" he mumbled out. Naomi raised her eyebrow.
"Why do need condoms?" she asked. It sounded like a dumb question to ask out loud. Mikado show her his wrist. Naomi winced at the red and scratched up skin.
"What happened to your wrist?" she asked. Mikado's cheeks burned bright red.
"I got poisoned by Yokubo when she bit my wrist in our fight," he said. "I think it's starting to take effect on me."
"Effect like…?" Naomi began to ask.
"I can hear them whispering from hell. Sometimes, I see the shadows following me from the corner of my eye," Mikado explained. The older blinked before it sank in.
"Oh!" she said with relief. "It's just that." Mikado narrowed his eyes but brushed off the thought running through his head.
"Anyway, can you help me?" he asked. Naomi quickly nodded.
"Yeah, yeah, sure," she said. "Hang on."
"Thank you," Mikado said. He handed her the plastic yen bills for her to work with.
He shoved in boxes of condoms in his basket. If all went right, he would be able to try and stop the spread of the poison. Mikado took a quick look around. Good, no one is looking around. He quickly made his way up to the front desk. The clerk looked up at him with her eyebrow raised. She looked down at the boxes of condoms and whistled.
"Oh!" the clerk said. "Hot date tonight?" Mikado's face burned red.
"Yes," he said in a low voice. The clerk giggled and rang up the condoms. Mikado couldn't hold eye contact with her. He paid the amount total with Naomi's bills. The clerk tried to give him back his change.
"Keep the change," Mikado said in one breath. He grabbed his bag and hurried out of the 7-11.
"Good luck on your date!" the clerk shouted after him. That was enough to make him run as fast as he could out of the store.
-Camera Turns On-
So how does it feel to be called the Dante Killer?
DK shrugged. "What is there to say? It's true, isn't it? My kills look like the circles of hell, do they not? So, it fits."
So who will be your next kill?
"I don't know yet. I haven't had the urge to kill lately. My boss and my mother are dead. I am just relaxed now."
Do you need a new motive?
DK looked out at the person talking. "Like what?"
I don't know. What do you think you need?
She took a moment to think. "You might be right on the idea. I will have to see."
-Camera Turns Off-
I don't look like a murderer. But it's always the ones you least expect. I looked at my phone as I waited for the train. I watched that detective's press conference from yesterday.
"Good morning," he said on the video. "We have a potential lead in the case for the Dante Killer." I rewound the last part.
"We have a potential lead in the case for the Dante Killer." I rewound it again.
"Dante Killer." Again.
"Dante Killer." Again.
"Dante Killer." Again.
I couldn't help but smile. I guess it is true about serial killers. They do like to relive the glory of their kills. But I didn't take any trophies. I can't have anything that will tie back to me. I have been so careful but now I have a problem.
I checked the train schedule. Ten minutes before the next train, huh? I looked out onto the platform. I'm losing the motive to kill. Before, I was stressed and angry. But I took out those sources of stress and rage. The new boss is a vast improvement from the previous fat fuck that made my life living hell over the past two years. Now, I feel so calm. I can just relax.
However, I am not finished.
I still have five more circles to go. I have completed limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, and wrath. I already know what's coming next. Maybe my therapist is right. I do need a new motive to kill. I looked up when I heard the train pull up into the station. I slipped my phone back into my purse and walked into the crowd of people boarding the train.
They won't even notice me at all.
On the surface, Shinra acted normal. He was his usual laid back self. He did his house chores and took care of underground patients like before he was murdered. Shinra wouldn't stop fawning over Celty. Okay, so he did it a little bit more than usual.
"Who knows if I get taken away from you again?" Shinra asked. "I wouldn't be able to take it." If Celty could shake her head, she would've. To be fair, he did get a chance to come back to life.
But something seemed off.
There was this need that time was running out. Celty had this need to stay by Shinra's side. At nights, she would hear whispering around the doctor as he slept. Last night, the dullahan saw a shadowy figure standing over her boyfriend. That was enough to convince Celty of the worse.
The dullahan couldn't keep quiet anymore.
[Shinra, we need to talk,] she typed on her PDA. Shinra gave her a puppy-like pout.
"Why?" he asked.
[Are you okay?] she typed. Shinra looked up at her from the screen.
"Of course I am!" he said. "Why wouldn't I be?" Celty took a moment to think about how she would go about this. She didn't want to freak him out but she had to tell him without sugarcoating it.
[Listen, something is hovering over you in the middle of the night,] the dullahan typed.
"What do you mean?" Shinra asked. Celty started to type again but paused. Something else caught her attention. A little boy in a white gown stood watching them in the doorway, watching them with a scythe in his hand.
"Celty?" Shinra asked. His girl nervously pointed behind him. The doctor turned his head. He too could see the little child. Shinra stood up.
"Hey buddy, are you lost or something?" he asked. The doctor started walking towards the pale child. His girlfriend figured out just what that child was. Celty leapt forward and grabbed him by the wrist. The sensation sent her into shock.
His skin is so cold!
Suddenly, Shinra went still. A light mist flew up out of his body. Shinra collapsed to the floor without a sound.
The mist started floating away towards the child. He had his hand out ready to take the soul.
She used her shadows to grab onto Shinra's soul. The mist hung there in midair. The pale child with the scythe raised his little eyebrow.
Please don't take him! I just got him back. I won't let you take him!
The boy looked up at her and frowned. He wouldn't put down his hands. Celty was ready to draw out her scythe to chase off this little reaper.
"That's another!" a woman's voice shouted. Celty and the little boy looked up. A woman in a long black dress walked into the living room. She placed her hand on the child's head.
"You can't have this one," the woman said. "He has to stay here in the living world. We need him here." The child lowered his hands. He vanished into thin air.
"Thank you," the woman said. She turned her focus onto Celty. The dullahan struggled to hold Shinra's soul in place. The hazy mist was trying to fly away and follow the boy. The woman walked up and gently shushed the soul. The mist's struggling stopped. Celty lowered back into Shinra's body. The doctor slowly awoke and sat up.
"Huh? Where did that little boy go?" he asked. Celty put her hand on his shoulder. Shinra turned his head. His eyes lit up.
"Celty!" he cheered. The doctor leapt forward and hugged his girlfriend. She didn't try to push her off. The woman cleared her throat. The couple looked up. The woman bowed her head.
"Good evening," she said. "My name is Vanessa. With me are Victor-sensei and Miiko." A man in a nice suit and a girl in a black kimono came on either side of her.
"Nice to meet you," Victor said. Miiko bowed her head.
"I am so sorry!" she said. "I mistranslated part of the ritual. This is all my fault! I am so sorry!" Shinra gave her a strange look.
[How did you mistranslate the spell like that?!] Celty typed. [He about died again!]
"I'm so sorry!" Miiko said. Vanessa placed her hand on her head.
"There, there," she said. "We are here to fix it." The receptionist went quiet as she stood up. Vanessa turned to Shinra.
"Hold out your hand," she said. The doctor held out his right wrist. The manager drew out her ink pen and the ink. She dipped the tip into the ink.
"This will sting for a bit," Vanessa said. "But it won't last long." Shinra stared at her, silent. Celty came around for a look. Vanessa began to draw really small Kanji all over Shinra's wrist. The doctor winced for a bit but didn't make a sound.
"His soul won't stop leaving his body but it won't go too far," the manager said.
[Are you sure this will work?] Celty typed. Victor read the screen.
"Yes," he said. "Unlike last time, this spell has been better translated." Miiko nervously laughed with a sweat drop on her head.
"You aren't going to let that one go, aren't?" she muttered to herself. Victor pretended not to hear her. When Vanessa was finished, she drew back her pen. Shinra looked at his wrist. The ink started to disappear into his skin. Within seconds, the Kanji was gone.
"Heh," he said.
[Thank you,] Celty typed.
"You're welcome," Vanessa said. "We will keep tabs on him. Let us know if something goes wrong. Contact this number here." The manager handed Celty a small piece of paper. The dullahan took it and bowed.
[Thank you,] she typed again. Vanessa, Victor, and Miiko bowed behind they vanished.
Kururi kissed Aoba on the lips. She playfully tackled him on the bed. The Queen Bee smirked and slid off his shirt. She nipped on his collarbone before licking on the wound. He just let her do as she pleased. Aoba couldn't get into the sex anymore. His body started to reject his girlfriend's libido. That meant nothing to Kururi. If he couldn't get into it, he was just going to be a sex toy to her.
The Queen Bee broke off the kiss and slid her low-cut black top over her head. Aoba's eyes shifted away from her. Kururi turned his face to hers.
"What's the matter, baby?" she asked. Aoba forced himself to smile.
"Nothing," he lied. The boy lay there at her mercy. He could just say no. This wasn't the Kururi he knew after all. This girl was just a sex fiend and a monster. His captor leaned down and kissed him again on the lips. She playfully grabbed him by the crotch. Kururi frowned.
"You aren't hard," she said in a low voice. She quickly unzipped his jeans.
"I will change that," Kururi said. Her hand went right to work. Aoba tried not to look her in the eye. This couldn't keep going. He had to find a way to set the timeline right and get Mairu back. Kururi licked her lips and turned his head back to her.
"You like that, don't you?" she asked. The Queen Bee rolled his jeans and boxers down to his thighs. Kururi moved her head down to his lap. She had to have more of his addictive taste. By now, the resistance was growing harder to keep up. Kururi had to work her tongue into the mix.
Suddenly, there came a knock on the door. The couple looked up.
"Kururi?" a familiar girl's voice asked. A wave of confusion washed over Aoba's face.
"Kururi, what's going on?" he asked. His girlfriend clicked her teeth and rolled her eyes. She climbed off the bed and opened her door. Low and behold, her posse stood in the hallway, waiting. Kurui groaned and rolled her eyes.
"I told you guys to wait until I gave you the signal," she said. Aoba lifted his head. Signal? What's going on?
"We're sorry, Kururi-san," one of the girls said. "We just couldn't wait. This was just too exciting." The Queen Bee sighed and shook her head.
"Whatever," she said. "You're here just in time anyway. I was just getting him warmed up." Kururi stepped aside to let her friends in. Aoba's eyes widened as the girls walked into the room. Some of them were giggling. The former gang leader's stomach dropped as he started to see where this was heading. His fears were confirmed when he noticed Tsukiyama handing Kururi 5,000 yen. The Queen Bee thanked her as she pocketed the money. It was then Aoba tried to desperately cover up his erect genitals. But then, one of the girls climbed on top. She wagged her finger back and forth, shaking her head.
"Uh-uh-uh-uh," she said. "You can't hide from me. We're all going to have a good time tonight." The girl moved his hands from his crotch.
One of the other girls pulled out her phone and hit record.
Kitano, Yuka, and Rumi all stood in front the projected image of a tadpole heart on the giant screen.
"Are you ready to give this another go?" the therapist asked.
"Yes," Yuka said. Rumi gave him a silent nod.
"Right," the therapist said. He took a breath and research began again. This time, the stakes had been risen. Vozrozhdeniye had thrown their hat into the superhuman surviving the apocalypse game ring. The tadpoles had to be more evolved.
Kitano knew just where to start.
The weakness of a tadpole heart embarrassed him so much. For two months, Kitano, Yuka, and Rumi tried to find a solution to the problem. So far, they came into many dead ends.
It was Kitano's idea to try something a little bit different.
"Why don't we look at what's making the heart so vulnerable and work from there," he said. The interns had the same idea in mind. In fact, Yuka thought about suggesting it this evening.
"I guess great minds do think alike," she said.
"Not always, but sometimes they do," Kitano said. The trio dove deep into work with this new angle. The morning started out with nothing. The leveled playing field wouldn't let them back down. Kitano refused to let these sirens and Vozrozhdeniye get the better of him.
The tadpoles would be the true witnesses of the world when it dies.
On the fifth day of working from this new angle, Kitano and his interns found a breakthrough. Yuka happened to load the screen again. At first, the image of the heart looked wavy.
"Huh?" she asked. Yuka pressed the refresh button on the dashboard. The image disappeared and popped back up. This time, the heart came back up. When Yuka took a look at the screen, she narrowed her eyes. The image had black spots all over it. The intern covered her open mouth.
"Sensei! Rumi! Come look at this!" she shouted over the intercom. When she looked back up at the heart, Yuka could see stars in her eyes.
Izaya sat down at his computer. Something really wasn't right. He just needed to see if his suspicions were right.
The information broker logged into his account. Everything looked standard so far. Izaya started to type without a thought.
"What can you tell me about Kitano Katsuhiro?" he wrote. The information broker hit send. Silence. Izaya waited for a few more seconds and nothing. Izaya frowned. He tried another question.
"What can you tell me about the Tandeki Group?" Izaya wrote. He hit send again. Silence. The information broker waited a few more seconds. He tried three more questions and got the same results. Finally, Izaya started typing again.
"Tsukumoya? Are you there? Say something," he wrote. Izaya hit send again and waited. He expected no response again. But then the speech bubble with three dots popped up. Izaya waited and the bubble wiggled up and down. When the response popped up on the screen, the color drain from the information broker's face. He had seen blood, corruption, death, and the ugliness of mankind. Izaya could stare it down without flinching. But those four words made his blood run cold.
"I am not Tsukumoya."