Halo Twenty-Four: Michiko:
I never wanted to get too many people involved. But now it is too late. I don’t have time to ponder what went wrong. I have to end this game before it gets worse.
Unlike Makoto-san and his wife, I still have my memories. I remember every round, every death, and even the first time Tandeki reached their goals. I still have my magic too. Though it’s not as strong as it was when I was dragged into this game. I can’t worry about that now.
I looked at the small crowd of people in Noriko-chan’s apartment. I hadn’t expected Mikado to be here but given what happened last night, it can’t be helped. I have to end this game before the city is swallowed in ruin. Fuck.
“You aren’t going to leave, are you?” I asked Mikado.
“No,” he said, shaking his head.
“Figures,” I said under my breath. Well, fuck. I rubbed my forehead and sighed. Right.
“How much do any of you remember?” I asked. Makoto, Noriko, and Mikado were quiet for a moment. I frowned.
“I remember the time I was at Chou Mori,” Mikado spoke. I raised an eyebrow at him.
“Anything else?” I asked.
“I don’t know where to begin,” he said.
“That’s good enough for now,” I said. I turned my attention back to Makoto and Noriko. I needed to stop screwing around here.
“Have any of you noticed something off lately?” I asked.
“Off? Off like how?” Makoto asked. Mikado lowered his eyes.
“I kept seeing fog around last night,” he said. We all turned to him.
“Does that count?” Mikado asked.
“What kind of fog?” Michiko asked. He tried to think about his answer.
“Really low?” Mikado asked. “There was no reason for it.” I thought about what he said.
“That could be something,” I said. It was a pain to get everyone calmed down to speak at this point.
“What are you doing here?” Noriko asked. Mikado turned his head.
“Do you know these people?” he asked.
“No…” she said, shaking her head. Makoto looked hurt hearing that. I grabbed his hand.
“It’ll come back to her,” I whispered.
“Can you tell me what’s going on?” Mikado asked. So here we are. I didn’t think I was getting anywhere with this. I needed to change tactics since time wasn’t on my side.
“I probably should start from the beginning with this,” I finally said. I hated this part. I’ve lost count of how many times that I had to tell this story. But I didn’t have any choice.
“What is going on?” Mikado asked. I took a deep breath. I rubbed my forehead and started again with the basics of the story.
I awoke to someone kicking me in the back. I winced as I tried to pull myself into a tighter ball. Another kick came to my back.
“Get up!” he barked. “We have work to do!” He never saw me as his daughter. I was just a tool to make money. My powers were natural even at a young age. I think it came from my mother. I never met her. He told me that my powers came from her.
That’s the only truth that he’s told me.
I learned not to ask questions. I just had to be his little puppet for the gathering crowds in every city we went to. We did make a good amount of money. But most of it went to food and his drinking. Never did we try to pay for whatever room we stayed in. We would leave in the middle of the night before the staff could be any wiser.
I hated him for that. I hated him for many things. He ruined my life. I never had a minute of normalcy. Even at a young age, I knew something wasn’t right.
“Get moving!” he yelled. “It’s time to go!” I had no choice but to follow. I’m just his little show dog after all. I wished for a way out.
“Does the name Kitano Katsuhiro ring any bells?” I asked. The color drained from Mikado’s face.
“Why?” he asked. “What did he do now?”
“Not do now,” I said. “What he’s planning to do.” Makoto kept his blind eyes out and away from me. I looked at my audience. But Mikado and Noriko had nervous looks on their faces. He’s already began his work on them.
“Listen, he may speak the truth but don’t let him fuck with your head,” I said. It didn’t sound like much to comfort to them, but I needed to get it out there.
“I am a player in the apocalypse game,” I said.
“Apocalypse game?” Mikado asked. His tone revealed that he wasn’t that surprised to hear me say that.
“Yes,” I said.
“So why are you playing this game?” he asked. I looked down at my hands.
“I don’t really know,” I admitted. “It just happened that way.” I tried to push down the memory of when I first met her. She started my troubles. Now she wouldn’t let me go.
“What does Kitano-sensei have to do with this game?” Mikado asked. I lifted my chin.
“Game master,” Makoto spoke up. We all turned and looked at him.
“And we are the pawns,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said.
“How am I part of the game?” Mikado asked.
“He wants you to be a witness,” I said.
“What does that mean?” he asked. I shook my head.
“How can we stop it?” Mikado asked. I sighed and dropped my shoulders.
“I have been trying to fight to find the answer,” I said. “But can’t do it alone.” Makoto winced when I said that. He has no choice in the matter. And if things are as bad as I think they are, Noriko doesn’t have a choice in the matter either.
“What can I do to help?” Mikado asked. Noriko and I turned to him. Oh, he’s serious. I looked down at my hands.
“Oh…” I said. This happened before too, didn’t it?
“Are you sure you can handle this?” I asked. Mikado nodded at me. The look in his eyes told me everything that I needed to know. I shifted my eyes away from him.
“Okay,” I said.
“Tell me what to do,” Mikado said.
He and I ended up in Ikebukuro. We were chased out of Osaka. (Three guests as to why.) Once again, we were running out of money. Time to get to work again.
I was thirteen at the time.
I didn’t want to do this anymore.
“Are you ready to go?” he asked. I sat in the corner, shaking my head. He frowned.
“What’s the matter with you?” he asked. I didn’t answer. He clicked his tongue and growled.
“Quit playing around!” he snapped. He grabbed me by the wrist. I tried to pull back.
“You!” he snapped. I already knew what was coming next. He continued to try and pull me up. I shut my eyes tightly as I waited for the blows to come.
“I said quit playing around!” he shouted.
His hand connected with my head. I still wouldn’t move. I didn’t want to do this anymore. I had seen too much. I wanted to live in a house and go to school. I wanted normal friends. I was tired of worrying if he was going to be arrested or not. I just wanted it all to stop.
“Get up now!” he shouted. He jerked me to my feet. I yelped when his nails dug into my arms.
“We have to get going now!” he yelled. He then dragged me out of the room against my will.
What he didn’t know was that my powers had been getting stronger. I fought to keep this to myself. I feared what he could make me do if he could get out. Sure, we were surviving on petty fraud. I didn’t want to think about how this could escalate.
Those same powers would be my savior and my downfall within a few days later.
I made it back to the hotel room I was staying in. No sooner had I shut the door, my phone rang. My stomach dropped. Already, I knew who it was. Might as well get this over with.
“Hello?” I asked.
“Konbawa, player number two,” Kitano said.
“What the hell do you want now?” I asked.
“Nice play in recruiting Chirin-kun into your little crusade,” he said. I narrowed my eyes.
“Mikado,” I corrected him. “His name is Mikado.”
“How are you on those Gates of Light?”
I rose but fought to keep myself together. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Come on, Hiroi-san. I know what you are capable of. You don’t think I haven’t been keeping tabs on all of you? I have to say, I am impressed that you’ve managed to keep up your resistance up for so long. Though, I am curious about something.”
“What?” I pressed my back against the door.
“Why?” Kitano asked.
“Why what?” I asked.
“Why do you keep fighting? You and I know how this is going to end.”
“I won’t give up.”
“You think you can change the outcome?”
“Yes!” I paused when I realized how loud I was getting. I took in a deep breath to calm down.
“Amazes me the will of instinct,” he said. “That’s what I like about you. Your determination is the highlight of my day sometimes.”
“Don’t make him into a player like us!” I pleaded. “Don’t do this to him!”
“I’m sorry, but it’s not my call,” Kitano said.
“Please!” I pleaded.
“Sorry, that’s just how it is,” he said. I gritted my teeth.
“You bastard!” I screamed.
“I would love to talk with you more, but I have to go,” he said. “We’ll talk later.”
“Wait!” I shouted. He already hung up. The rage started to build up in my chest. I screamed as I threw my phone across the room. If they go after him, so help me…
My phone rang again. I dropped my shoulders and sighed. I started to understand why Makoto was fatigued with all of this. But I still couldn’t give up. Time is now the enemy.
The next morning, Mikado’s phone rang. He reached over on his desk and picked it up. A confused look came over his face.