[FFML] [fanfic][Sailormoon] Moonshadow, chapter 17 (rough beta)
mythrilmoth at sbcglobal.net
Thu Mar 4 12:05:41 PST 2010
Here we go. Warning: This is VERY MUCH the Tarantino chapter of Moonshadow.
C&C welcome. Usual disclaimers apply.
Four girls gathered at the main exit of Ueno Park shortly after nine in the
morning. All four looked uncharacteristically grave.
"Hino-san, Mina-san," Usagi greeted. "You haven't met Mizuno
The two girls in the uniform of Mugen Gakuen hid their surprise--and
discomfort--well, nodding respectfully to the bespectacled girl, who nodded
"So, Hino-san, you said you have a lead on finding Kino-san?" Usagi
"Hai," the raven-haired girl replied. She reached into the pocket of her
skirt and withdrew Jupiter's henshin bracelet. "An unwelcome visitor called
on me at home this morning, and gave me this. Though I have never seen it
before, and have yet to meet Kino-shi, I knew immediately what it had to
Usagi accepted the green bracelet from Rei, face dark. "Un, this is
Jupiter's bracelet." She pocketed it, then asked, "The person who gave this
to you...you know them?"
"Unfortunately," Rei replied, scowling. "His name is Aritsuka. He
is...extremely disreputable." She hesitated for a moment, then elaborated,
"He is closely associated with a certain...ignominious segment of society."
"That is less than helpful," Ami replied. "With that alone, this man could
be anything from burakumin to a child pornographer. Would you please be more
Rei's lips thinned in disapproval, but she nodded. "Aritsuka is involved
with the yakuza."
Usagi groaned. "Yakuza?! Oh, this just gets better and better."
Mina looked at the three girls in confusion. "Yakuza? I'm...sorry, I'm
afraid I don't know that term." She blushed sheepishly. "Sorry."
"It is alright, Mina-san," Rei said. "The yakuza are Japan's society of
"The Western equivalent would be the Mafia," Ami added.
"Oh." Mina's eyes widened. "OH." She looked decidedly alarmed. "What the
hell would the mob want with a Senshi?"
"It is unlikely that Kino-san's abduction by the yakuza is related to her
alternate identity as Jupiter," Ami said. "We have learned that Kino-san
supports herself through...less than ideal illegal means. This situation is
most likely a consequence of her clandestine extracurricular activities."
"You mean one of US is a...gangster?" Mina squeaked, paling.
"Iie," Usagi replied, looking sad. "We found things at Kino-san's apartment
that led us to believe she may be a prostitute."
The blond gasped. "A..."
"In a way, that is a relief," Rei replied, frowning. "I did not relish the
notion that Aritsuka might be aware of my having become Mars. Or any of his
associates taking an active interest in the Senshi. As I understand it, we
have enough problems without having to guard ourselves against the yakuza as
Usagi sighed. "You realize that in order to rescue Kino-san, we'll need to
go as Senshi. We'll be *making* the yakuza our enemies."
"Then we will simply need to exercise extreme caution in retrieving
Kino-san," Ami said, adjusting her glasses.
Mythril Moth Presents
Adapted from "Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon" by Takeuchi Naoko.
17: Without Honour Or Humanity
*The Senshi have a lead on Jupiter's location. They're cutting class to
*Hmm. And what are you doing to help?*
*Princess Serenity asked me to arrange a distraction to keep her and Mercury
out of trouble with their teacher...*
Ikuko stared at the morning news programme, mouth agape in horror.
//--urging citizens to remain calm, and under no circumstances to approach
the premises until authorities have captured the animal. To repeat, Tokyo
Tower is currently closed to the public after an escaped panther was sighted
on the premises...//
"Oh kami-sama...I hope Usagi isn't caught up in that..."
"The problem is, Aritsuka is not likely to be directly involved in
Kino-shi's abduction," Rei explained as the girls waited for a train. "His
involvement with the yakuza is, at least so far as I know, mostly related to
"A go-between for businessmen and corrupt politicians?" Usagi guessed.
"Hai." Rei paused. "He may know exactly who has Kino-shi. He may not. It is
difficult to say for certain."
"Hino-san," Ami began, "Precisely how and why are you on such familiar terms
with a professional criminal?"
The miko carefully schooled her expression, but nobody present missed the
dark emotions which flashed through her eyes. "My apologies, but that is an
extremely private matter. I will say only that Aritsuka is a blood relative
who has been disowned."
"Fair enough. Please pardon my intrusive question."
*Ami-san...apologising?* Usagi cleared her throat. "So, Hino-san, since
you're the one most familiar with this person...what do you suggest?"
Rei frowned. "The only course of action open to us at this time would be to
interrogate Aritsuka. At the very least, we should be able to find out who
has taken Kino-shi, and why, and with luck, where she is being held."
"And once we know that..." Usagi trailed off, sharing a meaningful glance
with the others.
"So do we go in as Senshi, or...?" Mina asked, brow furrowed.
"It'd probably be a bad idea for four regular schoolgirls to start poking
around in places we shouldn't be," Usagi pointed out.
"Precisely," Rei nodded. "Although I would not favour approaching this
situation in our Senshi forms from the outset. At the very least, we would
be endangering Kino-shi if we openly alarm her abductors."
"So what do we do?" Usagi asked.
Mina rubbed her chin. "I think I have an idea..." She reached into her skirt
pocket and pulled out her phone...
"Disguise?" Artemis raised an eyebrow as he spoke into his mobile.
//We're going to be running into some pretty scary people,// Mina's voice
issued from the small speaker. //Gangster types, if things are the way we
think they are.//
"Yakuza?" the mage replied, feigning surprise. "Jupiter's been taken by the
//Rei thinks so.//
"That's definitely a problem. Hmmm..." After a momentary delay, Artemis
traced a glowing silver sigil in the air with his free hand. "Tell Princess
Serenity to hold out her hands and catch."
//Huh--oh. What the heck's that?//
"It creates disguises. It's pretty powerful, so the effect should last all
day--just be sure to leave it in moonlight at night to recharge it."
//Okay. So how does it work?//
"Everyone who needs a disguise should touch it and concentrate on what they
want to look like. It's as simple as that."
//Cool. Thanks. We'll be in touch when we find out anything.//
Four young women stepped off a train in an upscale business district. The
leader of the group was a teenage girl, barely fifteen years old if that,
dressed in a deep violet kimono with a blood-red obi. Her long raven hair
shone in the morning sun; her violet eyes were hard and sharp.
Keeping two paces behind her were three taller, slightly older-looking
women: one, almond-skinned, brown hair tied up in tight, round buns atop her
head; she wore a pearl-white cheongsam which clung tightly to her slim,
toned figure and was slit high along the thigh. The second looked much like
any office lady one would find in any city; a navy blue suit with matching
high heels, short, bobbed dark hair, and small rimless sunglasses; the
expression she wore was cold and forbidding. The third was a tall, tanned
foreigner with medium-length, fiery copper hair which fell into her face;
her attire consisted of tight black leather pants, high-heeled suede boots,
an unbuttoned black gakuran, and a sarashi which left her midriff bare and
afforded a distracting glimpse of cleavage.
"Ano...Mina-chan..." the cheongsam-clad woman spoke softly, "I'm sorry,
"I fear I'm probably to blame for...*that*," Rei said, keeping her gaze
straight ahead. "I introduced Mina-san to late night anime, and..." She
"Well...at the very least, it will be easy to pass her off as an enforcer,"
the office lady said, shaking her head.
Mina laughed, her faux copper hair falling across her face. "I couldn't help
myself," she said. "I figured why not have some fun with it?"
Rei sighed. "I suppose your optimism is encouraging, Mina-san..."
At the rear, Ami whispered aside to Usagi, "Not that it is any of my
business, but...does their friendship seem highly improbable?"
Usagi shrugged, laughing softly. "You know what they say...opposites
Ami fell into a contemplative silence at that.
Luna rumbled satisfactorily to herself as she scaled the iron framework of
the ridiculously huge tower the humans had built right in the middle of an
absurdly congested city. *These humans...they are truly puzzling.*
Although she was forbidden to hunt humans for prey, and did not need their
energy to survive so long as she was bound to the accursed moon mage, she
could smell their terror at her antics; it filled her with a heady pleasure.
She supposed in a way it was similar to what humans felt when they smelled
flowers such as those in her master's garden.
As she bounded up the girders toward the highest level accessible to the
humans, her nose twitched in irritation. *Something isn't right...*
The wind shifted; a sudden gust carried a stink to her nostrils which was
all too familiar. Her eyes widened. *No...that's not possible...*
And then, she felt the distinctly uncomfortable sensation that she was being
Deciding she had fulfilled the mission given her by the Princess, Luna
angled down from her current perch, diving headlong into a pool of shadows
some fifty metres below. As soon as her forepaws touched the darkness, she
Let the humans waste the rest of the day chasing a phantom cat that wasn't
there. She had more urgent business to attend...
"Irrasshai! Welcome t--"
"Aritsuka. Which way to his office? Answer now."
The young, plain-looking receptionist blinked at the kimono-clad girl
standing before her, eyes hard and angry. "Ano...sumimasen, but Aritsuka-san
The redhead had reached around the raven-haired girl and grabbed the
receptionist by the throat. "She said tell us where the fuck that prick
Aritsuka is! You got that?"
"H-hai!" the girl squeaked, terrified and gasping for air.
"Now now, Lina-chan. Manners."
"Right, sorry." The foreigner released the receptionist, then leaned close,
staring her right in the face. "So, where is he?"
The trembling girl pointed a shaky finger down a hall to her right.
"Th-third door on th-the l-left..."
"Thanks." The group turned and stalked off in that direction. The redhead
paused long enough to toss over her shoulder, "By the way. Call the police?
And I promise they'll be scraping your pussy off the ceiling."
The girl fainted dead away at her desk.
The Chinese-looking girl and the office lady turned beet red. "Mou, was that
'Lina' shrugged. "So I let myself get carried away. Big deal."
"Just...don't overdo it, okay?"
"Sure thing, boss!"
Sighing, Rei rapped on the indicated door. She waited four seconds before
opening it and stepping inside.
"Dammit, I said no disr--Rei-chan?!" The shocked middle-aged man at the
lavish desk within exclaimed, staring openly at the kimono-clad girl.
"Aritsuka," Rei intoned harshly. "My associates and I must speak with you."
"I...sure. I always have time for you, Rei-chan. I don't believe I've ever
met your fr--" His eyes widened as the group spread out, covering both sides
of his desk, and the cheongsam-clad girl stepped forward, staring directly
into his eyes.
"You...gangster are?" she spoke, her flawed Japanese tinged with a lilting
Aritsuka blinked. "Wh--whatever gave you th--"
The office lady withdrew a small stun gun from her skirt pocket. "You will
answer the question."
The middle-aged man gazed around at the four girls, sweat beading on his
forehead. "Rei-chan...what the hell's going--"
"Speaking you not at my bitches! Speaking you is to me!" the Chinese woman
screamed shrilly, slapping her palms on the desk. Aritsuka jumped.
Rei bowed her head. "Sumimasen. My Mistress is a rather harsh and impatient
woman." She then flinched, as though expecting to be struck.
"SPEAKING TO ME YOU IS I SAID!"
Aritsuka shot to his feet, a vein cording on his neck. "HORA! SHUT THIS
CHINESE BITCH UP BEFORE I--"
The redhead picked up a stapler from the desk and swung it at the
middle-aged man's temple, stunning him. He dropped back into his leather
chair like a stone, eyes wide. "Shut yer fuckin' yap or I'll shut it for
Rei coughed. "Aritsuka, I present my mistress, Xie Len. I should warn you,
she has very little tolerance for Nihonjin. She only puts up with us because
it's easier for natives to manage her affairs here."
"Her...her what? Rei-chan, what's going on?"
Xie Len lapsed into a long string of muttered, angry-sounding Cantonese. She
then leaned forward and grabbed Aritsuka by his tie. "You is listen, you
stupid, stupid Jap. We know you is punk Yakuza trash. No is care what you is
doing, stupid Jap mob no is worth my time. But you is do some bad to my
bottom bitch." She unclasped her small silk purse, and withdrew a glittering
emerald green bangle. She held it under Aritsuka's nose, knuckles white and
fist trembling. "You no is fuck with my bitches. You is fuck with my
bitches, you is fuck with me. Nobody is fuck with Xie Len and live.
Especially not stupid Jap. Wakatte me you?"
Aritsuka swallowed nervously. "Th--that..."
"You attempted to present this to me for my birthday," Rei said coldly. "It
was stolen from an associate of the mistress. Therefore, your nakama are
responsible for her disappearance." She paused. "You do not want the sort of
trouble we are willing and able to bring down on your head, Aritsuka. It is
in your own best interests to cooperate."
The middle-aged man fixed disbelieving eyes on the kimono-clad girl, face
terribly pale. "Wh--who the hell ARE you people?" he asked in a quavering
"I believe you know precisely who we are," the office lady with the stun gun
"Stupid Jap is stupid," Xie Len snarled. "We is from gangster in Hong Kong."
Aritsuka's eyes widened, and the remaining colour drained from his face.
"Do you now understand precisely how screwed you are?" Rei asked calmly.
Even as she said this, the redhead cracked her knuckles, and the office
lady's mirrored glasses shone white in the reflected fluorescents.
"This is our offer," the office lady spoke in her cold, flat voice. "Tell us
everything you know about the rightful owner of the bracelet. Who has taken
her, where she is, and whether or not she is still alive. Tell us what we
want to know, you live. Refuse..."
Aritsuka snorted. "Please. If I talk, they'll kill me. I'm dead either way."
"No dead if they dead first," Xie Len said.
"We intend to kill everyone involved in our nakama's abduction," Rei added.
"With the sole exception of you, *if* you cooperate. They die, you live, we
get our friend back. That's the deal."
Aritsuka swallowed nervously. "I...I just can't believe...my own daught--"
He trailed off in a rasping gurgle as Rei clamped a hand around his throat.
Fire danced in the raven-haired girl's eyes.
"Address me that way again, and you will never speak another word so long as
you live. After all, you don't need your voice to tell us what we want to
Aritsuka nodded, eyes wide as saucers, face faintly blue. Rei released him,
and he collapsed back into his chair, wheezing.
"Now talk," Xie Len snapped harshly.
Several blocks from Aritsuka's office, once the Senshi had discarded their
"Triad" disguises, Usagi turned to face the others, face down and blushing
furiously. "Ano...I just wanted to say I'm sorry for...you know..." She dug
her toe into the ground. "I mean, I said some really nasty stuff back there,
"You were performing a role, acting as a character," Ami said dismissively.
"As were we all. None of us take offence to anything 'Xie Len' said."
"Yeah, don't sweat it, Usagi. It's cool." Mina paused. "Although...I *do*
kinda wonder where the heck you picked up a mouth like that. You hardly seem
Usagi's crimson flush deepened, and she covered her eyes in embarassment. "A
friend of mine is addicted to Hong Kong gangster movies. I get roped into
watching them a lot. I don't like them that much, but..." She put a hand
behind her head and laughed. "I guess it came in handy today, huh?"
Mina laughed. "No kidding. You should be in the drama club."
Usagi shook her head. "The only club I'm interested in is the
As they walked down a side street, headed for a train station, Mina walked
closer to Rei, and leaned toward her ear. "Rei," she whispered, "that
jackass back there...is he really...?"
Rei scowled. "He was stripped of the family name by Jijiue after the death
of my mother, when we discovered his yakuza connections. He is ronin trash."
Mina winced. "I'm sorry I brought it up."
The miko shook her head. "I don't like to talk about it, but I suppose it
was unavoidable after that scene in his office."
"So he gives you stuff to try to get you to stop hating him?" Usagi asked,
having overheard the conversation.
Rei flinched. "He knows he isn't supposed to come anywhere near me, but he
can't seem to give up on trying to win me back. It has become...tiresome."
The girls lapsed into silence then, waiting for the train to arrive.
Makoto closed her eyes and set her jaw angrily as two yakuza raped her. She
refused to give them the satisfaction of crying out. *Just act like a
corpse, dead to the world...like Motoki...*
Inwardly, she seethed. She vowed to herself that every single man who had
"visited" her since her abduction would die in the most painful manner
possible...just as soon as she could grasp that spark of power deep within
*Dammit, why can't I...just...FOCUS...*
One of her assailants suddenly let out a pained yelp and fell on his ass.
"What the fuck?!"
"Oi, Inaba, what's your problem?" the other asked, glancing down at the
"Somethin' fuckin' shocked me just now!"
The other rapist laughed. "What, this bitch's asshole got static cling? Man,
you're fucked up..."
Inaba left; the other man continued his "entertainment." Makoto gave no
outward reaction to either man, as before.
Inwardly, she bore a feral smirk.
*That's one point to Jupiter...*
"The Shitennou are up to something at Tokyo Tower," Luna rumbled without
Artemis looked up from the book he was reading, eyes intent. "You are
certain of this?"
"Yes," the youma replied, dipping her head in a feline nod. "I don't know
*what*; whatever they're doing there is well concealed. But I know they're
doing *something* on top of the upper viewing platform."
"And how do you know this, if you have not seen it?"
"The stink of it is strong, strong enough to pierce their cloaking magic.
There is a substance...a metal, yet not quite a metal, but more than a
mineral. It exists only in the dark place where my kind dwell."
"Bulfecium. I know of it."
"The top of that tower reeks of bulfecium. It does not exist in this world.
The Shitennou have constructed a device there, without question."
"I see. What do you suppose this device is for?"
"There are many possibilities, none of which bode well for the humans...or
for us." Luna paused. "Also, I believe one of my broodsisters is guarding
it. I could not scent her, but I felt that I was being watched. None but my
broodsisters are capable of concealing their presence from me in such a
"Which means whatever they have up there, it must be very important, and
they don't want us knowing what it is until it's too late to do anything
about it," Artemis summed up.
The mage nodded, then returned to his book. "Return to the Princess and
assist her in whatever way she requires. Once the current situation has been
resolved, survey the tower again--without being seen by the general public.
The more information we can obtain, the better."
"This is the place," Usagi said.
The yakuza hideout, strangely enough, turned out to be a warehouse owned by
a scholastic publishing firm. The girls stood under an awning at an office
across the street, regarding the warehouse with caution.
After several tense minutes of silent surveillance, Usagi motioned toward
the mouth of a nearby alley.
A minute later, four Senshi landed on the roof of the warehouse.
"Good afternoon, Mako-chan," Okuda sneered as he sauntered into the room. "I
hope my nakama have been taking good care of you."
Makoto spat at his feet. The gangster chuckled. "Still as feisty as ever..."
He turned to the filthy, pitiful corpse still hanging on the other side of
the room. "I see why you were so fond of this one. I wonder...did you ever
get a piece of this, hmm?" He looked back at Makoto; the grin on his face
was malicious, sadistic, and vaguely alarming. "Well, better late than
Makoto's stomach gave a lurch. *Oh HELL no.*
"What's wrong, Motoki-kun? Can't get it up? That's a shame." Okuda shook his
head in mock pity. "Oh well, your loss." He smiled. "Of course, that just
means more for me. Ne, Mako-chan?" He approached her, hands moving to his
The room suddenly filled with thick, cold fog.
Makoto heard something which sounded like the beat of powerful wings, and
felt a cold band of metal snap into place around her right wrist.
Immediately, power surged through her, every nerve ending singing with
unbridled energy. The haze of pain and drugs fell away from her mind even as
the thick mist began to clear.
Okuda stood in the centre of the room, looking around wildly in alarm and
confusion. Four Senshi surrounded him, expressions grim.
The door burst open, and a half dozen yakuza poured in, various weapons
drawn. Bullets filled the air, a hailstorm of death. The noise nearly
drowned out the pounding rush of thunder filling Makoto's head.
What happened next took everyone by surprise:
Dozens of thick, corded, thorn-studded vines erupted from Makoto's body,
rapidly engulfing Okuda. He screamed as the vines tore through his clothing,
thrust themselves into his mouth, ears, and eyes; blood ran from the
suddenly-empty sockets. Within seconds, the gangster was completely
cocooned. The other yakuza stopped firing, frozen in alarm; the Senshi
watched with horrified fascination.
Sizzling arcs of static electricity began flowing along the vines, from
Okuda into Makoto, even as more vines enveloped her nude body. The screams
from within the shell of vines trailed off; the vines themselves rapidly
turned brown and withered, breaking away and falling to the floor.
Okuda's corpse, covered in blood, scratches, and horrific puncture wounds,
lay mangled on the floor.
The chains that had bound Makoto gave way with a deafening snap, and Jupiter
landed heavily on one knee, bracing herself with gloved fists.
"Thanks for the jump-start," she said to the mutilated body of her captor.
She stood, somewhat unsteadily, and faced the yakuza looking on in shock and
horror. "Now, boys...I think we need to discuss the matter of your bill..."
A haze of smoke curled in the still air.
Burning red eyes surveyed the grisly scene with grim fascination. "I guess
you don't need my help after all," Luna rumbled as she emerged from the
Serenity tensed, then relaxed. "It's over, we've got Jupiter back."
"So I see," the panther replied. "Not without one hell of a fight, though,
it looks like..."
The walls of the storeroom were pockmarked with bullet holes. The floor was
littered with shallow pools of water, clotting blood, spent cartridges,
withered brown vines, scorch marks, and several corpses, the visible wounds
telling of a variety of spectacularly painful deaths. Jupiter stood in one
corner, stretching; Mercury was surveying the scene with obvious distaste,
while Venus looked like she was about to throw up. Mars simply hovered above
the filthy floor, eyes unreadable. Serenity grimaced at the array of corpses
and sighed, shoulders slumped.
"What the hell did we just do?" she asked of nobody in particular.
"We just murdered several armed criminals," Mercury replied clinically.
"Each of whom were likely guilty of any number of capital offenses, not the
least of which is sexual assault of a minor." She glanced at Jupiter for a
moment, something dark and troubled in her eyes, before turning away to
examine the walls.
"But...it's not our place to do that," Serenity said quietly. "We're
not...we're not cops, we're not judges. We...didn't have the right..."
"Princess," Luna said quietly, "soldiers are often called upon to do
distasteful things to protect what they hold dear."
"But we're not at war with...with these people," Serenity protested. "Our
war is with monsters and demons, not..."
"These guys were monsters alright," Jupiter spat. "Don't get any funny ideas
about that." Her gaze drifted across the room; Serenity followed her eyes,
The others turned to look as well. Venus let out a scream.
Perversely, in the midst of the carnage, the dead body hanging limply by his
wrists on the opposite side of the room had remained completely untouched.
Luna hissed. "Now *that's* a nasty way to die."
"Who...?" Serenity asked, even as Venus finally lost the battle with her
stomach and dashed for the farthest corner of the room to throw up.
Mercury approached the hanging body cautiously, frowning as she studied him.
"Furuhata Motoki-san, if I am not mistaken."
"Yeah," Jupiter affirmed, nodding. "How'd you--"
"The highest volume of calls on your home telephone's caller ID history are
from this individual, whose last recorded call was dated Sunday evening."
She paused. "Was he the...intermediary for your clientele?"
Jupiter blinked. "Huh?"
"Your pimp," Serenity clarified, closing her eyes and rubbing the bridge of
Jupiter's face drained of colour. "H-how did you know..."
"When you went missing, we sort of broke into your apartment to look for
clues," Serenity answered sheepishly. "Well, after we searched your place,
"It became obvious that you are a prostitute," Mercury said clinically,
continuing to examine the corpse of Motoki.
Jupiter sighed, bowing her head; her fists clenched tightly at her sides.
"Kino-san," Serenity began softly, taking a step toward the taller girl.
"It...look, it doesn't matter. I mean, I won't pretend it doesn't bother me,
but...we're still friends, and I still need you. Just...don't shut me out,
okay? And please don't be angry with me. I think I can imagine how you feel,
Jupiter sighed. "Nah, I ain't mad at you. I'm just...tired of all this shit.
Every time I think I've got a good thing going on, someone finds out I'm a
whore, and everything goes to hell." She shook her head. "But I'm glad you
guys came to get me. Really, I appreciate it. Nobody's ever really stuck up
for me before."
Serenity's eyes welled with tears. "That's about to change, Kino-san. That's
about to change..."
Evening had long since fallen, and Usagi sat on her bed, lost in thought.
Mars had burned Motoki's body to ash; everyone present agreed it was the
most respectful thing to do for him. The bodies of the yakuza had been left
alone; sooner or later someone would discover the grisly scene, but linking
it to the Senshi--much less their civilian identities--was unlikely, and
they felt it prudent to leave the premises as quickly as possible.
After they had cleared some distance from the warehouse, Makoto had
explained, in brief, her situation. In turn, Usagi and Ami had explained
what they'd seen and done at her apartment.
"The window?" Makoto had said, brow furrowed. "I wasn't even at home when
those yakuza trash got me, though. I was at the arcade."
"That explains why the front door was locked," Ami had nodded. "In which
case, someone else--likely a petty thief--broke into your apartment during
"And emptied out her desk drawer?" Usagi had added, eliciting another nod
"The locked one?" Makoto had asked, alarmed. "Goddammit...I had over 80,000
yen in there..."
Now, hours later, Usagi's mind whirled with the events and revelations of
the day. She was still wrestling with the morality of their actions in the
warehouse; acting as judge, jury, and executioner as they had done gnawed at
More pressing, though, was her concern for Makoto. The girl needed help, and
Usagi was damned if she'd let her keep doing the same horrible things to
support herself. There had to be some way...
An idea came to her, and she reached for her phone, suddenly thankful for
her mother's insistence on adding a certain person's number to her
directory. One ring...two...
"Chiba-san? Tsukino Usagi desu..."
"Konnichiwa, Aritsuka-san," an even, pleasant male voice said. The rough
blindfold was removed from the crooked executive's eyes; he winced as the
bright light stabbed his retinas, sending lances of pain into his brain.
He had been forced to his knees; he looked up and found himself staring at
the back of a plush red velvet chair, beyond which stood a handsome oak
desk. The walls were panelled in mahogany and bore many impressive
certificates and framed photos. A small fireplace burned cheerily in the
corner. Other than the two thugs holding him down, there only appeared to be
one other person in the room: the occupant of the chair. He could only see
the man's pale-skinned, weathered hand; silver rings on the thumb and
forefinger of said hand gleamed as he idly flicked the hilt of a katana in
and out of the throat of its scabbard.
"I trust you enjoyed your ride over?"
"Can't say I did," Aritsuka grumbled.
The man in the chair laughed. "I suppose not, no. But it's only polite to
"Who are you and what do you want with me?" Aritsuka demanded gruffly.
"Straight to the point, I like that. None of this sneaky tap-dancing around.
Good." The katana came to rest in its sheath with a particularly loud snap.
"I'm...a security consultant, you might say. Certain people pay me
considerable sums of money to plug leaks." The hand caressed the sword's
hilt. "People such as your friend Okuda."
Aritsuka stiffened. "Okuda."
"He was killed yesterday," the man continued, in the same conversational
tone. "Damn messy scene. Freakiest shit I've ever seen, and I've seen some
A pause. "See, Aritsuka-san, the thing is...when people buy my services,
they're paying for the best. They're paying for iron-clad protection. So
when one of my clients up and dies under suspicious circumstances, well...it
doesn't do much for my reputation. And if people don't think I can keep them
safe, well...I lose business. I don't like losing business, Aritsuka-san."
"Nobody does," Aritsuka replied.
The man chuckled, thumbing the katana's guard; a centimetre of the blade
emerged, gleaming silver-white. "So when something happens, such as what
happened to your friend Okuda, I have my people go through the various
recordings to see if we missed a leak somewhere." He paused. "Well, it just
so happens we found one great big damn leak, and you're it."
"I don't know what you're--"
"Four girls, claiming to be Triad, forced information about Okuda out of
you," the man interrupted, his tone still calm and pleasant. "Yes, there are
cameras in your office."
Sweat beaded the corrupt businessman's brow. "I...I had no choice," he
"I know you didn't, Aritsuka-san," the man commisserated sincerely. His long
fingers wrapped slowly around the hilt of the sword. For a brief moment,
Aritsuka felt as though the silver skull ring on the man's forefinger was
leering at him.
"I know you didn't...and neither do I."
A flash of steel, and then darkness.
to be continued
More information about the ffml