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Affiliated RPs (-18):
Affiliated RPs (-18):
- Chapter 15: The Prodigal Son:
The Task Force’s quarter inside The Agency’s headquarter;
Undisclosed location, Tokyo
“I thought we could trust him, now …. We’re on our own.” Fujiwara lamented as Mansfield watched him.
“So your superior doesn’t care about us .. In no time, the task force will fail and Shinohara will get away … It’s going to be like that all over again.” Mansfield said. “Do you know what’s your boss is up to?”
Fujiwara remembered the threat Tsushio made and that in the years have passed, Tsushio has done things Fujiwara did not expect. “No .. I don’t know.” He lied after the reluctance has stopped from him from telling the truth.
“It’s clear that it’s not about just getting Shinohara, to your superior, it’s more than that for whatever reason it is, and he’s making a big mistake. We have to strike before things go worse, the task force will be abandoned and by then there’s nothing we can do.”
“What are you purposing?” Ask Fujiwara concernedly.
“We get Shinohara into our own hands, we’ll get everything he knows and use it to negotiate with your superior.”
“That’s dangerous …”
“It is, and you should know it better than anybody. Are you in?”
Fujiwara took a moment to contemplate before answering, “Yes.”
Mansfield lifted his head back in wonder and said, “I know you’re a strong-willed man, a patriot. But this, this is throwing your life and your career away if we fail …. I’m not sure what makes you agree to do this.”
“Now that even my superior has turned us … We don’t have much choice, but this. Yes, the choice is now, not then, not tomorrow. We have to act fast …”
Mansfield said no more, but he was satisfied with what he heard from Fujiwara.
However, with that reasoning Fujiwara has told, there was another thing that was stuck on the tip of his lip and he eventually gave up and refused to say it. Fujiwara refused to admit it.Day 34
Tougane’s Aparment, Tokyo
The flight landed in the middle of the night, tiredly, Tougane dragged himself to his own apartment where he stayed in less than hotels or someone else’s house. He did not have the energy to go on and troubled someone he knew so he could jump in their bed to keep his night less lonely than it would be in his apartment. But that was not the only reason he went straight to his apartment for a rest, there was more waiting in his week. He chose to continue his dance with the devil. The next step for him would be attending one of Shinohara’s associate birthday party, but Tougane was not going to attend it just to wish the man a happy birthday. These social occasions were perfect for hiding their shady business, he had to go there because Shinohara would introduce him to his business partners. As he went deeper, he started to feel he was alike to these people.
But Tougane did not bother worry about what was going to happen ahead of him, all he wanted to do was to have a few glasses of whiskey and crashed his body on the bed.
As always for Tougane, his days had potential to get a little more tiresome than he hoped them to be, and for today, it greeted him before he even opened the door.
A note was slid under his apartment door, ‘Call me at once’ it said with one of the names belonged to Fujiwara. Tougane called Fujiwara, he was told to meet up at the bar they frequently visit. Fujiwara’s voice was stressful even he tried to hide with it with small talks. Maybe it was because of the task force Fujiwara was working on, especially with the progress and the situation within it. But that did not comfort Tougane, he felt something was odd, or bad.2359 hoursTougane was sitting by the bar, he preferred his drink to reach his hand as soon as possible. He took the liberty and went ahead.
A certain bar in Minato, Tokyo
The privilege of going to a decent bar, ‘at least the bartender has a clue what you want to order!’, 500-yen and other cheap bar’s bartenders often time had no clue about making drink, they were just college students working part-time who studied how to make drink from a lackluster manual. Tougane did not have that kind of faith in them to get his drink right as he ordered.
Essentially, he gave a toast with people with pints of beer which was the nighttime equivalent of Japanese tea , drank martini in fancy occasions or luxurious places, and rinsed himself bourbon when he was alone. But this odd and queer situation fell to none category he was familiar with, the certainty of it was this was no occasion for him to indulge. May he have a drink, yet he ought to stay aware, which the familiarity of the setting and the taste could obscure. It was a mental adaption ever since he walked into the bar, he thought differently and observed, he drank a different drink, all to keep himself from delving deeply to the point he was not aware. Thus he named the ‘revolver’.
The ‘revolver’ was kind of an odd choice for him. It was made from bourbon, coffee liqueur and orange bitters, served cold with orange twist. Mixing alcohol and coffee sounded oxymoron to him, even for just the taste. Stimulant and depressant did not go together. But he reckoned oxymoron and such thing were common in the society he lived in, he just had to live with it, and at least he had this drink to drink and cope with.
Bitterness, it was familiar taste he delved in though it did not feel exactly the same once. It kept him around and he kept taking it.
“Not beer, not overly-sophisticated martini, and not bourbon … Are you still the same man I know, Tougane?”
The ironic voice belonged to Fujiwara, Tougane could tell without turning to see him but he did. A smug on Fujiwara’s face, Tougane registered that a pretense and it went against his distrustful glare looking towards Tougane’s existence once Fujiwara took a seat across Tougane. Another two men took their seat afterward at each end of the bar, the man who sat within Tougane’s sight had his hand stuck in the hand warmer of his jacket, there was a bulk and Tougane doubt it was not that he was happy to see Tougane. It looked like the silhouette of a subcompact revolver hidden in there. Tougane felt the presence of hostility coming from Fujiwara as he learned that he had to have a company on this occasion. It felt even less of a friendly encounter.
“I knew you know your drinks, but I didn’t think you would go astray and do such thing … Like ordering the drink you’re holding in your hand. I know you could, but I just didn’t think you would.”
“The context is different.” Tougane swiftly and confidently replied, he lifted the glass and took a sip as a break from Fujiwara’s uncomfortable gaze.
Their words may have not been straightforward, but both knew exactly what they were talking about.
“I agree.” Said Fujiwara, though noncommittally. “You don’t stay home much after a force leave, do you?” There was a note of suspicion in his tone which breached the fine line between wonder and doubt.
“You know me, I have trouble in staying my own bed.”
Tougane realized that Fujiwara may know what he was truly up to.
“Because I know you, that’s why we are here.” Fujiwara looked disappointed to say that. “You don’t drop things too easily, that’s what Tsushio likes about you. You’re still in the picture after all, I was a fool to believe your suspension is stopping you. Tsushio sent you to continue the work, didn’t he?”
Tougane slid his eyes away, he could not keep a straight face while trying to lie to a friend. Finding that it was inevitable, he said “If it has been this far, I trust you know the answer.”
“Two. British agents gone M.I.A which I thought the mole exposed them …”
“The mole, Takada, admitted he informed Shinohara of the second agent, but not the first. That left me with the question who was responsible for the first one ..”
“Takada gave us Shinohara’s dirty business front man, Tsushio had the front man killed after we milked everything from him. Strangely, I found no need in doing that, just giving the information is suffice. The front man admitted that he was running operation to fund Shinohara’s scheme which he was oblivious to it himself, he exposed some contacts and associates. Since he was killed, Shinohara would find a replacement for that role, he wouldn’t use someone whom was exposed by the front man. And your name came up … That’s when I realized Tsushio planted you inside Shinohara’s sphere. Tsushio burned your file from the archive, so you couldn’t be traced. He killed the front man because Shinohara would replace you as the front man. That bastard Tsushio always has a plan that goes behind our back.”
“Is that why we are here? You’re not happy with his decision?”
“He wants to continue your rouge operation. I and the task force disagree.”
“Since when you became their bitch? You know I’m doing the same thing you are trying: stopping Shinohara. But I do it better than you and clowns you work with combined.”
“I always despise your arrogance even I neglected it. That’s rich coming from you. You are responsible for those two agents’ death. You’re killing the people on your side.”
“It’s necessary! You wouldn’t get here without me. I did that to gain Shinohara’s trust and to expose the mole. Why am I not hearing any compliment now, Fujiwara? Why you started to care the dead agents? Isn’t stopping Shinohara’s scheme more important?”
“But it didn’t have to be that way. Those two dead agents fought for the same cause, they were good men. Because of you and Tsushio, now they’re dead. You don’t have the right to decide their fate because Shinohara doesn’t have faith in them to do their job. Stop being his tool. You’ve gone too far this time.”
“Since when you’re motivated by morality? That is getting us nowhere.”
“Always, ever since I joined the navy. Maybe you haven’t noticed, you thought I was the same as you. This is not a game, lives are at stake here. It’s not about just us or Tsushio’s blinded ambition. You’ve done enough it’s time for you to stop.”
“Stop? What the hell do you mean by that?”
“The British can’t stand Academy City’s bureaucracy, as long as Shinohara can manipulate people from the city and our organization, we’re not going to be able to stop him. With or without the approval from Academy City, the task force is going to snatch Shinohara.”
“That’s not going to stop his plan, what if catching him doesn’t stop his plan to use that bio weapon and will activate the plan sooner than we can prepare? Who’s going to be responsible for that? Right now, we still know too little, he’s very careful about letting who to know his plan.”
“You’re right, we know too little. And because of that, it will be too late for us to stop him if we don’t do this now. We delivered him enough blows in his plan; Hong Kong, India and his man. We stalled him enough. It’s now or never.”
“I’ve seen the weapons, he still has them elsewhere. We’re not doing enough to dismantle his plan at once. I need to go deeper. You’re ruining my chance!”
“Just as you and Tsushio ruined ours! You think you’re the only one in this, the task force is working as hard as it can to stop Shinohara, and each time it was you who stalled it. If there’s anyone to blame, two of you should be for taking the matters in your hands. It’s not just my decision, Tougane. The task force decided, and that’s it. You have to back off now, or you’ll be caught in this.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t.”
“Sorry? You’re going to help Shinohara and run things to ensure his terror plot reaches the fruition, that kind of sorry?”
“I have to do that because of you and your task force are incompetence!”
“You know what, you may want to have some time to think.” Fujiwara said hopelessly. “We’re going to stage a kidnapping at the party he’s attending along with a few others, we have everybody believes it’s terrorists, and that way the city and nobody are going to stop us. If Shinohara doesn’t show up or the party is cancelled, I’ll know it’s you and I’ll tell them. The Brit aren’t going to like that fact that you run around and kill their people. Stay out of this, don’t go there. As a friend, this is a courtesy call. As a friend, I’m asking you to stay out of this.”
“Friendship doesn’t solve anything in this line of work, only professionalism does.”
“You owe me one at Jinan. I never asked you to repay me in any way. But right now I have to … Brother, don’t get in the way,. ”1979
Military black site;
“We have to move out now!”
“Taneda’s still stuck. We have to get him out!”
“We tried. There’s no time, we can’t let anything compromise our mission. We have to leave him. Don’t let our comrades die in vain, they got us and the HVT here. We have to move!”
He heard those voices in an argument amidst of the thrashing and raining storm and the alarming siren.
He felt something slapping on his face, he opened his eyes and just realized he was unconscious earlier.
It was Fujiwara’s hands holding his wet face.
“Are you still with us, Taneda?”
At loss of words, he just nodded.
In the middle of the canal bridge with cars turned over and scattered all over around due to the pushing storming and waves from the sea swashed up on the bridge, behind Fujiwara were another man in tactical gear, his commanding officer, and the HVT his squad was sent to break out from the Chinese black site prison. They were the only people who made it during the escape, his squad was almost wiped out.
All their worry on their face brought pressure upon him after leaving the state of unconscious dizzly.
He could not move anywhere, his lower half was stuck as the side of a car was pressing him against the sturdy metal rail of the concrete bridge he was on. He looked out to the sea and there was no horizon as the storm was thick.
He just remembered he was hit by the car as the remnant of his squad was trying to cross the bridge. The storm was so strong that it pushed the car at speed he was not able to avoid in time.
He pathetically tried to push the car from him but no avail. The fate seemed inevitable, he made his mind, he lived on the battlefield long enough to know that a day like this could happen any time.
“The extraction is here, we have to move!” His CO yelled over the storm.
“I’m not leaving him.” Said Fujiwara indifferently.
“Fine, I’m not going to compromise our mission. I’m moving the HVT to the extraction point!” His CO grabbed the HVT and started vaulting over the blocking cars in his way, leaving them.
“You should go, he’s right. It’s too late for me. They need you.” Though, deprived of strength, he tried to say to Fujiwara feebly.
“Don’t be silly. They don’t need me, you’re the one that needs me. The extraction is close, they can make it. And you, brother, you’re going to make it without me.” Fujiwara’s tone was derisive at their fate.
“We’re brothers now? I’ve never liked you. Haha-” He faked his laugh after he confessed the truth.
“Me too, I’ve always thought you’re a murderous sociopath.”
“You’re not wrong about that.”
“Hey, at least you tried to save our brothers back there even they wouldn’t make it, and at least you told me to go and save myself. I’m going to get you out of here, you deserve that chance.”
He looked around, in front and behind of the car that was pressing him against the rail were not enough space to move the car out of the way, they were blocked tightly other cars. Fujiwara could not push the car forward or backward, only sideway.
Fujiwara went to the driver seat, he released the handbrake and turned the wheel to the side he had to push to help him turn the car.
“They’re coming, hold them off for a while.” Fujiwara handed his handgun to him.
He looked back at he saw soldiers approaching in fast.
Fujiwara got in the narrow chasm between the rail and the car and began to push. “HHHHNNNGGG!” Fujiwara cried out as he overly exert his force.
He fired his gun at the opposing force to slow them down.
“It’s not moving, for fuck sake!” Fujiwara cursed.
He dumped a magazine after another, the opposing was too overwhelming. He ducked his head from incoming fire as he was trapped helplessly between the bridge rail and the car.
The storm became more aggressive, its spit from the sea plunged and washed up on the bridge, it turned and flipped the cars over in the air as the sea water thrashed through.
“Get out of there!” He yelled at Fujiwara.
One of those cars was flying at the speed that could crush Fujiwara in the collision.
He stretched his arm and pulled Fujiwara over the hood of the car that was trapping him in. Out of the way of harm and in nick of time, Fujiwara missed the flying car. They both panted as they avoided their close call. In amidst of raining storm, he had no idea how much he has sweated.
The flying car went and busted the rail, causing it to break and bent. With a little more space, he could squeeze himself out of confinement.
The raging storm kept the opposing force at bay, they could not move through the bridge safely at this time.
“That bought us some time, hang on!” Fujiwara began pushing the car again, widening the chasm. Fujiwara finally pulled him out and carried him on the shoulder.
He looked at his CO and the HVT as they tried to cross the bridge, the storm slowed them down as much as it slowed the opposing force.
He looked back as Fujiwara was carrying him away and there were no ones chasing towards them.
“Something’s not right.”
A rampant sound roared like thunder but there was no flash in vicinity. A mass travelling at high velocity blasted down from the sky and on the bridge. ‘Btooooom!’, hitting on behind them, sending shockwave and exploding the cars on impact.
It was an artillery strike.
The blast knocked them down from behind.
He covered his head and duck down as the blast sent debris everywhere.
There was a scream of pain, but it was not his.
“ARRGGHHH!” Fujiwara fell down to his knees, he tried to push himself on the hood of the car but he collapsed over it.
On Fujiwara’s back, there was a dark red hole above the hip and near the spine.
Fujiwara was struck with a piece of debris at the speed that it penetrated inside him.
“Are you alright!?” He said as he held Fujiwara in his arms and rested against the car, but his limping legs could not afford to carry both of them to cross the bridge.
“I can’t move my legs, I don’t feel them- FUCK!” Fujiwara yelled over his struggling breath.
Once the opposing force realized they could not cross the bridge, they tried to bring down the bridge before his CO managed to extract the HVT they broke from the prison.
The bridge started to crack where it was impacted, then it crumbled and fell apart after the artillery strike weakened the structure.
The gravity started to pull down the part of the bridge they were on. Cars slid on the tilting surface towards the lower water, including the world they were resting on.
They crashed into the water inescapably.
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
- Chapter 16: Forever is none (The Begining):
- Day 38
Shinohara’s associate’s chateau;
Tougane felt the drink poured down his throat. On the inside, he wished to drown himself in alcohol, but now was not the time. It was not a bar he was in, and the drink in his hand was not the revolver, and he was not sitting across the friend he knew.
The cocktail party for the host’s birthday was taken place at extravagant in European-style three-storey chalet uphill with an area vast enough on the third floor for the party to take place, typically built with woods and had a swimming pool to amp things up. It was the only place with lights in the surrounding woods. He came mildly armed and dressed in a dark and lustrous blue three-piece suit and a champagne-color tie to signify his business status to Shinohara’s associates, the reason he had to come here because it was beginning of journey to the underworld led by Shinohara. Shinohara and his evil friends dressed alike, so should Tougane. Once again he had to blend in this illusive situation.
Though he attended the party he was told not to, against Fujiwara’s warning. But he has yet to weigh the options, he has not warned anybody about the incoming threat despite knowing full well which that had him worried.
That explained why he was drinking medium-dry martini from champagne goblet at the bar while having the blasting tango music from the party played to him in the meanwhile before Shinohara and his associates gathered in the back room and started their little conference.
“You’ll stop him, won’t you?”
Rie, Shinohara’s wife, was the one who sat beside him, raspy spoke under the loud music, it was almost tempting if he was in the mood.
“You’ll even kill him?” She sneered and sounded awfully happy for saying an unpleasant thing.
“Someday, perhaps. If necessary …” Tougane looked at her doubtfully, “You’re that eager to have him killed?”
Rie did not answer that question. “How far would you go to have it done?” But that pretty much confirmed she indeed was eager to.
“I’d do anything to make sure it happens.”
She grinned after she heard that answer that pleased her.
Tougane looked at her and hated to make that smile disappeared, yet he did. “But not now, I haven’t known what I came to look for.”
Rie still forced that grin on her face, it still trembled at the corner of her mouth as she spoke. “I’ll just have to have the faith in you that by then you won’t be corrupted by him.”
“You think I’ll turn?”
“You don’t look half the cavalry as you make yourself to be.” The smile on her face eventually faded as she stated what she thought to be a fact. Rie looked more disheartened and discouraged. “He’s the kind of person who rewards one anything if you follow him unquestionably. If you’re just a gun for hire, what guarantees you won’t turn to the highest bidder?”
“Money’s not what I’m motivated by.” Tougane reassured her. “If you want it done that much, why don’t you just do it yourself?”
“You don’t understand how it feels to sleep next to him every night, knowing what he is.” Rie averted his look and placed her eyes on the party guests, becoming more disappointed what she was surrounded with.
“I couldn’t imagine. It must be tough for you who is living off his paycheck.” He said it sarcastically and drank the martini in his hand.
Perturbed, with an unbelieving look on her face, she responded, “He’s a live hand grenade. Sitting on top of it is always frightening. Can’t you tell that I’m scared?”
Tougane did not notice any trace of that so far. “No, you must be so well at faking that I couldn’t tell.”
“Hahahaha.” Laughed Rie. There was a brief moment of vulnerability in her, oddly, it showed amid of her dry laugh, a slow nod and gasping, her eyes narrowed. Once she calmed it, she gazed at him, at what she had to put up with. Perhaps he failed to sympathize her? Maybe she wanted more than just getting him to help her, getting out of her husband’s life was not the only thing she sought for?
But whatever that was, Tougane knew enough what trouble he could get in for being attached, the deal between he and Rie was just doing each other favors for the mutual benefit. He did not have to be that nice and caring, and he was sure she knew it too. And acting this way was a reminder to both of him and her.
“Let’s not dispute between us, we’re in the same boat now.” Rie stretched her hand to his resting arm on the bar.
“One with holes on the hull.” Tougane dully said.
“Frighteningly accurate.” She dryly chuckled before looking other way and still kept her tender hand on his.
“How’s life lately?” Tougane digressed.
“Nothing much but doing things that please him. You?”
“The same, unfortunately. At least I’m not the one who has to sleep with him.”
“But still, we shared the same bed, most of the times.”
They had the same uncanny smile for their peculiar fate as they looked at each other, that everything between them just revolved around one man.
“He likes you, you know?” Rie abruptly said.
“Pardon me?” Tougane was unexpected.
“He talks about you to me more than you could’ve imagined.”
“Really? What does he say?”
“Clever in what you do, competent, ambitious.”
“I’m flattened, most of people I know never complimented me this much.”
“He once asked if he could trust you.”
“And you said?”
“He could, but you’re rather young and in need of guidance, and that he needs to instruct you carefully.”
“Why would you say that?”
“The thing is, people around him, he bought or got them with money. An unfortunate truth which I too was. He would trust someone who doesn’t come off as those people, and from the story I heard about you even he told it figuratively, you headed off with a good start. If you get on his side as a disciple or something more, not as an employee, you’ll gain his trust, because that’s not something he can buy with money.”
“Why do you think it’s going to work?”
“Satoshi himself was raised under a mentor after he lost his parents, his world was shaped by that. He often talks about his mentor, I’m sure he has once told you.”
“His mentor must have been a lame lad that he created such a man like your husband.” Tougane blabbed.
“Who knows? I’ve only heard of the good sides of his mentor.” Rie shrugged. “You know when someone’s important to you when you start to talk about them all the time, so his mentor means something him. And that sounds like he would become one himself if he has a chance, believe me, this is a perfect lure to get him enchanted.”
“Sounds like you can do my job better than me.”
“Say something that makes me laugh.” She swiftly said, without any context.
“I love you.” For how abrupt it was, he thought it was funny to say.
And that made she laughed like a well-timing joke, even though it was not.
“He’s behind you.” Said Rie.
He turned back and found Shinohara back among the crowd, Shinohara was now not looking at this way, but presumably he did earlier since Rie’s instruction.
“That was to make him believe we’re having a friendly and healthy conversation.” Rie spoke. “Just so you know, I offered to spy on you for him, to see if you’re trustworthy. But we all know what the deal really is about.”
“This is kind of getting messy.” His words explained how the whole deal looked. “Rie,” his tone became more serious, “something’s going happen here, I want you to drink a little more than you should and go tell him that you are sick and you want to go home.”
“What is it?” She looked profoundly confused.
“You needn’t worry. Just do it.” Tougane grabbed her arm and pushed her, even lightly, it came off as shoving her away.
As she was leaving, he kept his eyes on her to make sure she did exactly as he told her. He did not want to, but he could not help himself worry about her getting caught in something that was about to happen here.
His eyes met Shinohara at the far side of the room, he came into conclusion he still needed to go deeper, which disregarded Fujiwara’s warning entirely. He accepted the following consequence and admitted it was too late to bail off.
Now he had to wait until the attack happened and try his best to save Shinohara.
He could not tell him earlier, that would come off suspiciously.
The way he had to do it sounded dangerous that he himself did not expect to succeed. But that was the only way he had to do.
Tougane navigated through the crowd, despite the glamorous environment and setting of the lavish party, it felt like heading to mouth of hell, the moment he went into that room with Shinohara, he would become a man like Shinohara and as his associates, the type of man far from what he was right now.
But suddenly as he walked, he was grabbed by his arm. He traced along the moderately long and bare white arm belonging to a woman, then beautiful neckline over her light blue ribbed sleeveless polo neck.
“Doctor Moreau?” What the hell was she doing here? Thought Tougane. “Fancy seeing you … here?” He dragged his voice a little higher than usual at the end of the sentence. Cleary, he did not expect to run into her in this place, the occasion and the upcoming situation.
Standing beside her was a Caucasian man, older than himself and her. Mid 40s? He thought. That man dressed in a brown tweed sportcoat with a sloppy Windsor knot, he looked befitting a college professor, he seemed to be her colleague of some sort.
“I did not expect to see you here.” Lea said. “I can’t imagine why.”
Tougane would laugh if he had the heart to do, he could only smirk awkwardly. “I can’t imagine why you’re here too, doctor?”
“Professor Goldfarb here,” Lea gestured her glass of wine towards the man beside her, “he is a very good friend of mine, we got the invitation. Spending all day working in the office is dreadfully dull. Even though this is a birthday party, its vibe is as if a charity funding raise.” She cheerfully spoke as she seemed to be already tipsy. “Glamorous people gather to have fun time and-”
“That’s what they do, don’t they?” Tougane interrupted.
“What about you?” She asked.
“You what I do for a living, doctor.” Tougane brusquely said. “I’m here for a business deal.”
“What …. sort of deal?” Lea inquired.
“Something that has to do with …” He puffed. “… agricultural hardware.”
Lea let a small giggle out as if she knew what he said was a load of bull. But in a sense and a certain perspective, he did not lie at all.
Tougane’s eyes dismissed mildly drunk Lea and looked at the Professor. “You mind if I borrow your girlfriend for a moment?” He enfolded her around her with his arm by her shoulder.
“She’s really not my ….” The professor muttered. “But of course.”
“Very nice to meet you by the way, perhaps we shall find another time to talk each other.” Said Tougane.
“The same.” The professor replied.
Tougane dragged her across the hall where party was to lonely and secluded balcony outside where they could have a quiet chat and away from blasting music. He closed the glass door behind him after he shoved her out.
“Arghhh!” She moaned as her drunken body landed on the rail, spilling all of her wine into the vast swimming pool two storey down below, the red wine blended and dispersed in the powder blue of the pool. Nobody was down there, nobody in the right mind would not swim in the winter, but the pool lights themselves were still on.
“What are you doing here?” Said Tougane. “I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that you show up here just in the moment before something goes down.” His voice was low, he did not flinch once as he laid out his words and approached straight away before grabbing and clenching both of her upper arms.
She looked at him straight in the eyes, glaring, without fear against his physical contact. “I don’t know.” Lea said displeasingly.
“You have to try better than that.” Tougane rejected. “I know some people in my organization sent you to keep an eye on me. But following me around suspiciously well-timing is beyond the boundary.”
“Is that what you think of me? An eye candy as a snitch? It’s beyond the boundary but it’s not, it’s you.” Said Lea. “I don’t know what this is about, I’m just coming along with my colleague, and I can assure he has nothing malicious as you suspect us both. It can be true as you said, that it’s not a coincidence. But I can guarantee you that it’s out of my knowledge. It’s you and your paranoia that’s got beyond the line.”
His palms and fingers clenched tighter, she lifted her face and breathed uncomfortably.
“You don’t trust me?” Asked Lea.
His silence was an assurance, the eye contact was everlasting and cold, his eyes gazed and strained.
“I’m not even sure who you really are anymore …. What will you do then? You’ll hurt me until you get what you want? That’s what you do for a living … You hurt people to get what you want.” Lea dishearteningly lashed.
“You think I will?”
“That’s how my father looked at my mother before he hurt her-”
“Then don’t make me do it!”
“My father was too blinded by his own thought and his judgment was clouded, so are you!” Lea berated him. “You think you can hide your insecurity and defection under your imposing dominance? It’s just that you don’t have the guts to admit you are wrong and you don’t trust my words because you are too paranoid. That’s what the life you lead makes you become, too scared and paranoid of everyone. If you look me in the eyes, no matter after how much you lay your hands on me, you’ll know I’ve told you the truth. Go on, prove it.”
Tougane flicked his head lightly once and loosened his hands but still kept his eyes on her, like a light impact to boulder, it only moved a little. However, it trembled and cracked on the inside.”
“I don’t have to care about you, but I do.” She said, he did as she asked and he could not disapprove of her compelling words. “I don’t know what you’re up to, I wouldn’t know. But it clearly shows how the world you inhabit in is destroying you, my father lived in a world similar to yours. Heading and delving deep down in it only ensures one outcomes which we both wouldn’t want to see.”
Tougane softened his demeanor and backed off a little, it appeared she had her hands clinging on to him as well. His silence and the lack of answer was not ignorance against her, it was an acceptance to her criticism.
“What about your father? What becomes of him?” Even he referred to her remark, it was a comparative question asking if he still had the chance.
“He backed off before it was too late for him. Naturally, he’s a good man. He was just driven by his own demon. What he did for country and for a living corrupted him.” She became emotional as she said, her cheeks reddened as blood pumping through. He felt the beating on his chest but it was not his, it came from hers. “He stopped in time, will you?” She asked.
He did not answer, he was only staring, but she realized it was not her he was staring, it was what was behind her.
“They really did send you to stop me … or stall me.” He muttered as he slowly bent his head away from her and looked down the balcony. “Even you are aware of it or not ….
With confusion and the lack of his attention, she asked, “What do you mean?”
“They know I would be distracted by you. Fujiwara, you bastard ….”
Down below the balcony and steep staircase besides the pool was a parking lot, he saw a van came in, dropped some people and circled out. But instinctively, he knew it was not the guests. He looked further in the surrounding woods, he felt presences lurking in there.
This was what Fujiwara told him, it was about to happen. The task force was going to raid in and snatch Shinohara.
Tougane was certain Fujiwara sent or managed to get Lea here to become his obstacle, making it harder for himself to focus. It was fortunate that he realized it before the chaos arose, he thought.
“Listen to me,” He grabbed her again, not with aggression but with alarming panic this time, “something is going to happen here, it’s going be a chaos.” His serious face and tone horrified her. “I think it’s too late to get out now. I need you to find some place to hide. A chalet like this must have a wine cellar, somewhere of this sort. I need you to get in there and hide until this is all over.”
“Are you going to be alright?” She innocently asked.
“Just go. You needn’t worry about me.” He slowly pushed her away as he did to Rie.
He pulled out his Walther and checked the chamber if it was loaded. He looked at it pathetically for being outgunned and overpowered, but it was what always he used and it helped him many times. Little faith in the way he was used to, but still believing in it. He put it back before he went in and through the crowd which was unknown to the imminent threat.
“Bloody hell …” He cursed to himself after Lea had left, he hated dragging someone into the danger he was facing. Tougane despised the method of using Lea to manipulate him in this situation, but it very well was a tactic he would use. He grew worried for her, but he could not let that compromise what he had to do, that was the very purpose she was used against him.
The noise of rich talks among the crowd did not go through his ears, he only heard her words flowing inside his head over and over again, it came at the perfect moment, too perfect indeed. If his corruption were to come, this was likely where. If he became Shinohara’s front man, he would stand against the authority himself, against the task force. Everything would become more dangerous, this was it.
Her warning came at the last straw, before everything went worse.
If there were his parents among the crowd, he would be truly convinced that this was his calling before he got himself deep in the distress. What would they say to him? He wondered. What would they do to stop him? They were never the parents he wanted them to be and they were taken away from him before they could become that.
But anyway, it was too late for that sort of thing, he could not afford to step back.
“Haven’t seen you around for a while, where have you been Taneda-kun?” Said Shinohara, whom Tougane only saw once since the arrival at the party, he was holding a lit cigar between his fingers. Likely, Shinohara was doing his usual thing he did at parties. For Shinohara’s gist at attending this kind of occasion was about making an impression through socializing after all, whilst Tougane’s was different. “We were having a great deal of fun back there with baccarat, you should have joined.”
“I think I’d pass anyway.” Tougane rejected with a polite gesture.
“You don’t gamble?” Shinohara asked and took a puff of smoke.
Poker was his kind of game, but things like roulette and baccarat were not his sort. “I do, I’d just prefer something that relies more on skill rather than luck. I wouldn’t do too well in a game of luck.”
Shinohara frowned, but then nodded acceptably for his reasonable answer. “But you know, Taneda … In reality, both kinds of gamble don’t really differ.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Either relying on skill or luck, men who gamble often bet blindly because of overconfidence, hunger or desperation, throwing everything they got to win. You win, you lose, it’s a typical thing that happens naturally. But these men don’t accept of which is factual, losing everything is the end of them.”
“It sounds like words from someone who despise gambling.”
“Yes, you could say so.” Shinohara admitted. “It’s a lesson I don’t want to learn from the man whom I loved and respected, because to do that, I had to see his downfall. He threw everything in, trying so hard desperately, just expecting it would work but it did not. Essentially, he was gambling, he knew the risk and everyone warned him, he was just ignorant.”
“Then why do you gamble yourself?”
“Back there, at the table with those people, it’s a game for entertainment. I don’t gamble for a living, I don’t gamble in real life situations. I know when to back off. In real life, I invest, I don’t gamble.” Said Shinohara. “But for you ..” His voice was raised, it was a thin line of saying it maliciously or saying it playfully. “You’ve been gambling for half your life? Your time as a triggerman for the government … Running around, risking your life almost every day in life-threatening situations, I’d say it’s a mixture of both skills and luck you were relying on. Tell me, is it worth it?”
Posture became stiff as glued, his eyes rolling around but ignorant of presence, Tougane stood there with the lack for answer as simple as ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
“I don’t blame you for not knowing, you couldn’t have known. Because you spend your life doing that you come to believe it’s your whole life. It’s not wrong, that’s why you make a great soldier for them who need young people to die on their behalf to make changes, when in fact changes barely occur. It’s the way of the world, isn’t it?” When silence fell, Shinohara watched the smoke curled upward and dispersed. “What you used to do is a dangerous way of thriving. It’s also a necessary evil needed in this world, but damn sure it’s not healthy for the man himself. War is spectators’ sport, but it’s life or death to someone who participates in engagement. You won’t last long out there, I trust you know that inherently, even you accept it or not. It doesn’t offer you enough.”
The stench of cigar was closer to his nose as Shinohara lightly held Tougane by his shoulders like a don to his subordinates. “I’m offering you to get out of that kind of world you’re living in, to become a spectator, an investor, to flourish on what you deserve and have been robbed of on the game you were being played. The moment you walk into that door, sign the papers and give a toast with my associates, you’ll get all of that, you’ll get whatever you want. I may have said I’m using you as a straw man, but to me, you are more than that, I can assure you and you’ll find out when you’re committed to it.”
Through the hands that touched upon him, Tougane felt the tremor that shook him on the inside. The fear came when he had to decide.
“Are you ready?” Asked Shinohara.
Without noticeable reluctance in his tone, “Yes.” Said Tougane.
“Don’t feel too overwhelmed, we’re just introducing you to these blokes, clowns. We’re telling them there’s a young, ambitious guy, clever, just need support. With my assurance and some gifts, you can start up your own business.” Shinohara said, before he led Tougane to the tall door behind him and the long corridor separated from party area before there laid the door into the conference room.
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
- Chapter 16: Forever is none (CONCLUSION):
Whilst still having the awareness of the incoming threat, Tougane followed his concierge to the underbelly into the room, a back room used for the business conference which was illegal and concealed from the eyes of others behind the closed door, decorated lavishly more than necessary. It looked like a dinning room in its own right with a long rosewood table in the room, oxblood leather quilting and gold trimming on the large windowpanes, glossing over by dim lighting. As for the seven men sitting in there, it was joy glazing over their face, carousing like typical Japanese workers who end deals in nightclubs or bars rather than the office they go in earlier in the day.
He looked out through that large windowpane, it was dark outside as there was no moonlight, befitting the current nature as of now, he thought.
“Gentlemen,” Shinohara waved his hand in the air as he entered the room and pronounced, “you may want slow down on boozes. We’ll only have to talk about businesses for a few minutes before you go back to party, drinking and banging mistress.”
There came a subdued chuckle from Shinohara’s associates.
“Bloody very well, we finally get down and over the current mess we are having.” A man interrupted, he was not laughing and looking overly happily like others, he was merely sipping his drink and not even looking at Shinohara as he said it.
“Takeda, you look oddly mad like a bull today. What’s wrong with you?” Shinohara’s tone was still modulated even he began to grasp the man who interrupted, Takeda was unpleasantly rude.
“What’s wrong with me? It should be ‘what’s wrong with you all?’All you minions here are drinking and partying like nothing happened while we’re being attacked and suffering setbacks! I’ve done on your behalf more than you people and none of you give a damn. Now you’re asking why I’m mad .. This is why I’m mad!” Takeda stridently shouted.
“Would you remain calm for a second, Takeda?” Shinohara nicely asked. “I know you’re concerned about your pocket right now but-”
“You don’t order me, Shinohara. I don’t work for you, I work with you. You’ve got nothing on me.”
“I think that’s a big misunderstanding. Do you not have any respect for our friends from the government sitting in here? Be professional, so we can talk.”
“I’ll say whatever the hell I want. Shinohara …”
As leaning on the table with his two hands, Shinohara brushed off his smug and began to walk behind Takeda. He pressed on both shoulders and leaned closer to Takeda’s ear. “Might I remind you anyone can be replaced, and you’re not that special. You know it well what happens to people who exit prematurely and incidentally. So act nice, and we’ll talk about your part, actually the very reason why we’re here is to fix that problem. Calm yourself down, let’s pretend it’s alcohol that is driving you mad.”
Takeda’s rage has gone cold as silence resumed.
“Anyone hears from 'Tenzai'?” Shinohara turned his head left and right to people in the room as he asked.
The name got Tougane’s attention, it was the first time he heard it, he had no clue who it was.
“He’s not happy that your front man got exposed and eliminated, it’s bad for our business.” Another man sitting across replied. “He doesn’t think you’re careful enough.”
“I’m always careful. That’s as far as the task force and the Agency can go, they don’t have any lead on us, getting the front man was merely scratching the surface. Tell PARAGON that there’s nothing to worry, I worked out on that, we can continue our operation as soon as of now.”
“How are you going to do that?”
“You see that man over there,” Shinohara pointed at Tougane, “He’s replacing the previous front man.”
“How can we know we can rely on him?”
“As you know we’re being under heavy surveillance from the task force, our last front man was sloppy that he got himself killed. We need someone who’s able to operate under that situation, a greedy businessman like him wouldn’t do. We need someone who can predict and evade the authority.” Shinohara moved his eyes on Tougane, he looked at him proudly. “Taneda Mori has that kind of experience, he served in the naval intelligence and in the last weeks, he’s spent time plugging holes in our operation, he intercepted the task force’s attempt at getting us. In term of an intern, I’d say he’s doing very great.”
“So you’re asking us to approve of him? A man we know nothing of.”
“Since when do you care?” Shinohara said sarcastically. “Wasn’t you the one who brought our previous front man in? See how it turned out now? I’ll choose my own man to run my own business and resource.”
“You’ll still need our backing, you can’t just get us to approve him right away …”
“The deal is we have to do it now, this moment. Not tomorrow, not next week.” Tougane spoke up and interrupted the conversation. “You have no idea vulnerable you all are. I’ve spent weeks keep an eye on the task force. Yes, they’re desperate, they know you are careful about limiting vital information among each other. That’s why they killed your front man, because taking that man in and interrogating him would do no good, he doesn’t know enough, they killed him to stir you up, to cripple your operations to buy themselves more time. And the more time we give them, they can get back at us. The sooner we put a man in the position and proceed on with the operation, the better it is for us. We need to move faster than they can follow.”
There was no immediate reply, the whole room was just silent, with only eyes staring at him.
Tougane did not feel startled at all, either side he has been always had these moronic people which were hard to deal. He felt if he stayed silent, he would look like Shinohara’s boy more than a man of his own, and if he looked so, would good would it be?
“He’s right you know.” Said Shinohara. “Why does it take so hard for you to be convinced? We wouldn’t want to wait until you find out what he has said is true. So let’s sign the bloody papers, shall we? Anybody has something to say?”
Shinohara took silence as a confirmation, with a flick of finger, someone came and handed Shinohara a leather folder. Which then Shinohara walked triumphantly towards Tougane and handed him the folder. “Congratulation, you have your own company to run.”
Tougane opened the folder and read through the papers.
‘…. to proceed on as a managing director, the effect is immediate.’
And at the right corner, where his would be signed, it was written with ‘Mr Osato Shuji.’
“Don’t forget how to sign that name, you’ll be signing that a lot.” Said Shinohara.
Tougane signed it for the first time swiftly and then handed back the papers. Here it went, his commitment, he thought to himself. From then on out, he would do the devil’s work, he would become something like these men.
“Why you all look so down here?” Shinohara joyfully pronounced. “Shan’t we give a toast for our business partner?” Shinohara raised his own champagne glass in the air, the rest of the men rose up and followed suit.
“To prosper future, and to your health …”
Tougane was viewing a sincere smile from Shinohara, one which was not cynical nor sinister, one which he gave as he raised the glass towards Tougane, it was welcoming Tougane to his world.
Compelled by the moment, Tougane had no second thought and raised his own glass all the same.
The champagne glasses for the toast came in contact as they clinked with one another.
‘CLINGGGG!!!’ Then came the sound of the shattering glasses, rather than colliding lightly, the faint glasses broke apart.
It was not their glass of champagne falling and breaking but then it soon became after they saw what was coming crashing through the windowpanes.
Three armed black-clad and masked men rappelled down and breached through the windows, guns totted at people in the room as they landed on their feet.
“Don’t move.” One of them gruffly spoke through balaclava.
Tougane became alarmed as the intrusion began and the threat emerged, but his only response was cheekily lowering his champagne glass and putting it down on the table before he slowly raised his hands in defeat. He was waiting for it to happen, it was inevitable from the point he noticed them entering the chalet, his ‘hunch’ was not enough of convincing reason to others, it would compromise his cover as his involvement were to come into question. They would have acted anyway if he tried to alert Shinohara prior or not.
“Everybody, keep calm. We’ll work this out.” Shinohara calmly spoke despite of the alarming situation. “What do you want?” He asked the armed man that was approaching him.
Not responsive, the armed man closed up and pounded his submachine gun at Shinohara’s stomach.
“Urrrgh!” He growled in pain as he fell to his knee.
Tougane almost reacted and rushed into rescue as he flinched, but the other armed men totted their gun at him and had him reminded what would happened if he did. Tougane could only stand there with hands in the air and watch Shinohara and another two men being taken into captive.
One of them opened the door and the other two dragged their hostages out, the only armed man stayed in the room and watched the people in this room to ensure they would do nothing as his teammates were stealthily exiting. Besides the men in this room, nobody would become aware of the situation as the loud music playing in the party was cloaking the intrusion noise.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, the alarm started loudly. It appeared it was the man behind Tougane who engaged the panic switch under the table.
Gunfire erupted outside the room and panic among party attendees ensued as evident by the scream, it appeared the alarm noticed the guards in this chalet and there started a firefight.
“What the fuck?” It was clearly in English that the armed man spoke, he raised his gun and started approaching. “What the fuck did you just do?” He threateningly aimed his gun at the man who hit the panic switch, it was rage rather than a situational response, he fastened his pace. He walked past Tougane and started bashing that man viciously for making the situation worse. Assuming he was the man with the gun, nobody would dare doing anything.
But that had been wrong since he turned his back on Tougane.
In a prompt moment, the champagne glass was whipped against the table, causing it to break, and then the sharp-edge stem drove in the neck of the armed man, leaving him choking on his overflowing blood. Tougane struck swiftly with his free hand pulling the gun of the armed man from behind to prevent it from hitting anything and anybody as it went off due to recoiling after suffering an attack that caused the armed man to flinch his trigger finger. He jabbed with the sharp object a few more times until the body in his arm was laying still and then he put it on the floor.
Tougane took balaclavas off the masked man, beneath it was a face of Caucasian man, he was an operative under the task force, partaking a rouge operation without a sanction by Academy City, therefore it was staged as a kidnapping. And this indeed was what Fujiwara warned him to stay out off. His loyal had been being tested, but the moment he killed one of the operatives marked him as the enemy of the task force all the same as Shinohara and his associates, if he chose to stay out of it, he would have not come or stand still and watch all of this happened.
What Tougane and the task force were endeavoring was to find out what Shinohara’s scheme really was, their way differed. Tougane chose to infiltrate Shinohara’s organization to expose his plan. As desperate as they were, the task force chose to take matters into hand and squeeze every bit of the scheme out of Shinohara himself once they got their hands on Shinohara. Shinohara’s people in the upper echelons have been trying to prevent the task force from succeeding in getting Shinohara by normal measures, as the fact that there was a mole in the Agency trying to cover up after Shinohara, which forced Tougane to go undercover and the task force to take the rash action, both beyond the knowledge of the organization they were held accountable to.
Taking Shinohara in and torturing him did not ensure that he would give up and disclose the information nor was he the only mastermind or the entity behind this scheme. If there were his people in Academy City, they would eventually get Shinohara out of the mess and leave the task force empty hand. To the task force, this was the last resort, it was a risk they were willing to take. That was how far Tougane knew they were going to go for. The worst outcome out of that was Shinohara would get silenced before he revealed anything, and that was not just the failure for the task force but also for Tougane whose attempt and progress became nothing, and therefore was forced to start over, and that may not be in time to prevent the threat.
As of now, the rash action of the task force has come into Tougane’s way, he was now forced to go against it as it would compromise his own plan. This decision to oppose the authority was his own discretion without official backing, but still he believed it was the right choice.
But now, none of the reason backing his action or the task force action mattered, they only had to kill each other to prevent the undesired outcome. Either to him, Shinohara was really the enemy, but to prevent which he was tasked to do and ultimately succeed, Tougand had to save Shinohara at all cost.
So here stood he who must defend his method and fulfill his task.
Tougane looted the submachine gun left behind by the dead task force operative, he bashed out the door and chased after the other operatives who took Shinohara along the narrow corridor, to where the gunfight between the operatives and security details here raged on in the distance.
Panic awaited behind the door in front of him as screams came to his ears, he waited no more and breached the door in with his foot kicking it as hard as it could break the door joint. Two operatives carrying hostages as they engaged on the security details who rushed into the room full of panicking party attendees on the far side which they all dropped dead as soon as they made it through the door, no match for specially trained operatives.
Tougane quickly took aim as he spotted the threats, but at disadvantage of being the one who entered the room blindly, he was greeted with a burst of bullets. Seeing the brief muzzle flashes, he swung his body back to cover like a door panel in the strong wind. Then the rainstorm of bullets sprayed and grazed on the door frame, spitting wood fragments in his face.
The fire ceased, he quickly turned and readied his submachine gun, the operatives and the hostages they were carrying started to flee away, he took aim at them carefully.
But then burning hot sensation came in contact at his foot as something rolled and hit on the tip of his foot.
It was a grenade canister.
Without thought, he rolled and hurled himself forward as he slid the canister back with his foot but it bloomed in flame almost immediately as he was still in range.
He was only engulfed in flame for a second, but the fire started to catch on the place and it was burning quickly on the carpet and the curtains, people flooded out through his way, leaving no window at taking the shot.
Tougane recovered and there was no sight of them, the more he waited, the only things he saw were a burning room and the victims caught in this crossfire. The fire caught on woods which made up this chalet gave a scent of him being baking in an oven. He chased after the path they seemed to disappear into but soon found they burned the path to trap him from pursuing them, he turned back into the room and the way he came in now became as torched as the other staircase he could take down.
The path of fire would greatly slow him down, and these operatives would move quickly as they planned out before getting in, Tougane would not be able to keep up in time.
Pieces of this place began to crack and crumble, falling apart as fire devoured it, where fire did not consume began to narrow quickly. He looked around for the way out. The pale light glimmered through the windowpanes, and he followed what sparked in his mind.
The powder water in the pool two storeys down below looked shallow, if someone were to jump, then he would break his legs if they did not pierce out his skins, it was illusion of depth, but the luring sight had him worry if the pool was deep enough.
But the room submerging in flame reminded him he had to make a rapid fire decision. Right now there seemed to be just either mashed or roasted.
Submachine gun in his hands spat a few rounds, punching holes in the glass and cracking the whole pane. He then threw the heaviest mass at hand he could find out of the window, himself, into the pool.
It rained a man and shards of glass into the water.
The room he jumped off was spitting fire like a volcano mouth as he emerged from cold water. He did not stick long to swim in the winter, it would be stupid to do. Tougane pulled himself out of the pool, the wet suit, jacket, vest and trousers became overabundant weight on him as he moved.
Party attendees fluxed out of the chalet and rushed down the steep staircase to the parking lot, the operatives held their hostages close in their hand and moved down the staircase, heading for the getaway van.
“Get off of me, you don’t know who I am and I can do!” Shinohara angrily lashed while he was being dragged down the stairs, he was held tight by the collar. The operative who took him captive made no response to any word Shinohara said.
A single gunshot was fired.
The operative’s head wrenched sideway as a lead round tore through the air and penetrated through his head, then his whole body plunged down the staircase, with his hand grabbing Shinohara by the collar, Shinohara was dragged and whirled along violently down, crashing at anybody standing in the way until they landed on the bottom.
Tougane shot and killed the operative who was holding Shinohara to free him, but after the operative was killed, his partner ditched the other hostages and prioritized on solely taking Shinohara as he returned fire to where Tougane was and headed for Shinohara, forcing Tougane to evade the fire and lose his sight on Shinohara for a second.
As Tougane got up and with gun readied, the operative was using the fluxing crowd as cover as he moved himself and Shinohara to the parked van, Tougane did not have a clear line of sight, but liability of time left him no choice but to follow up, as waiting for the shot was not promising.
Instead of wasting his time on the steep and dense with people staircase, Tougane jumped from the balcony and landed down on the car, knocking him off his feet and landing him harshly on the hard concrete floor after he made his impact on the car’s roof. He felt pained and strained on his both legs, but stamina and strength were still sparked, he got on his feet and chased after.
The operative with injured Shinohara in his arm moved to the straight path leading out of the place, the getaway van drove off from its parking lot to pick them up.
Tougane started opening fire on the van as he ran after, dumping an entire magazine out at it, he then lost the submachine gun to gain more mobility and drew out his Walther.
The operative slid the side door open and threw Shinohara in the van as he duck and avoided the fire, the driver already gassed and the wheel started spinning, he stepped his foot on and was about to get in, he was forcefully tackled and knocked over into the van which started to head the hell out of here with a considerable speed.
Tougane was riding over the operative and having his pistol jammed under the operative’s neck, ready to fire. The driver pulled his sidearm out and aimed for Tougane. Tougane fended and knocked the gun and the trajectory off of his harm’s way with his left hand. But as Tougane lost his focus, the pinned down operative struck his elbow at Tougane’s flank whilst pushing the gun off his face, and overthrew Tougane to the back of the van, upturning his situation.
The operative tried to draw his gun in tight space, but it took too much space to encircle and align the sight, Tougane blocked before it was aimed at him by grabbing the wrist. And as Tougane tried to aim, the operative countered in the same manner.
Both struggled against each other to gain the aim and avoid the line of fire by bending his muzzle on one another and one another’s muzzle away from himself.
Tougane overwhelmed in force as he pushed his muzzle closer, he pulled the trigger once the muzzle closed at the ear of the enemy he was facing, the loud crack deafened and disoriented the operative but the bullet went off the muzzle and hit the driver in the head, causing the car to sway while stepping fully on gas pedal.
As the operative lost his balance and concentration, Tougane mercilessly finished him off with one round in his head.
Tougane headed to driver’s seat as the van sped up frightfully, disregarded of Shinohara lying in the way, to attempt regaining control of the van before it spun off and killed every passenger on board in a crash it was likely to happen.
It was a sharp downhill turn ahead as he looked through the windshield, he pushed the dead man’s foot off the gas pedal, stomped harshly on the brake and pulled the handbrake before the van went ahead off rail in the turn. The tires screeched loudly due to friction as they grazed on the concrete road before it eventually stopped.
Tougane sighed in tiredness for all that happened in a sudden, he just threw his gun over the dashboard and sat still, taking breath for a second until he had enough.
Yet, they were not out of danger, Tougane knew he had to move to safety as soon as possible, he pushed the dead driver out of the van and onto the road, and he then drove the van downhill carefully as it was the only way he could head to safety.
“Are we safe now?” Panicked and pained, Shinohara sounded so as he asked.
“I don’t know yet, there might be more of them on the way. We need to move away from here as far as possible now.”
The van drove through the murky woods on the hillside, its headlights were the only things that illuminated in this dark place and situation.
“Thank you.” Said Shinohara, short but adequate. “You didn’t have to do this much to save me.”
Tougane looked back at Shinohara via a back mirror, he saw a fatigued face which was inexperienced in this sort of situation, but in that he also saw a glimpse of relief that looked back at him sincerely. He noticed a stern and unshaken expression of himself, even that was still what could not be suppressed running wild inside, a face of himself in the face of danger, a face which became synonymous with danger. “That’s what I do, no need to thank me.”
Shinohara blinked once in accordance, both became a man of fewer words than usual, they did not speak of which was unnecessary.
“You know who’s behind this?”
“It’s probably the task force, I had a look at one of the operatives, he was British, perhaps from the intelligence service.”
“Of fucking course, it’s them. But what the hell were they doing? Did they just get guts in all of sudden … They never even made any physical contact with me.”
Why? Tougane understood it well before things went down back there, but he only knew, there was nothing do from knowing all of that, knowing it became a burden.
“They’re going to pay for what they fucking did!” Shinohara lost his cool and temper, in his face was pure rage without any calculation.
The pair of lights broke through and blinded them from the side as the van drove passed the crossroad, the blinding lights swarmed and moved at them with great speed before they could what it was, there was a rampant roar as the pair of lights leaped out of nowhere like a tiger in the bush hurtling for a prey and collided at the van’s rear, spinning and throwing it off road. The van gained overwhelming momentum, it veered uncontrollably and crashed against the tree.
There was a roasting and hissing noise coming from the van’s engine after the front of the van was crushed against the tree, nothing in the van moved as the figure behind the wheel and the pair of lights that projected onto the crashed van could see. That figure was the wielder of the force that came into halt after the collision, he drove a car and ambushed the van as it crossed path by ramming at its rear, but at the cost of executing that, the car became disabled as the front suffered a considerable damage.
The car parked behind the crashed van, its door swung opened and came down another two masked operatives dressed in black, only the frame of the balaclavas around their eyes was not consumed into darkness of the surrounding. The operative who got down from the passenger seat stood by the car and covered the ground as resting his gun on the opened passenger seat’s door and taking aim at the van, the other, unscathed, he walked to the crash van, he took a peek at the driver with pistol readily aimed, seeing the driver was motionless and drenched in blood all over his face, the operative pulled the side door opened and dragged the conscious man in there out with him. The operative laid that body on the ground and held that face up to him, verifying it.
“Is it him? Alive?” The operative who stood ready by the car yelled out.
“It’s Shinohara. He’s still breathing.”
The operative who stood the ground watched his teammate grabbed Shinohara by the lapels and lifted the man up. Suddenly, he caught the flash of light gleaming behind his teammate’s back and rattled loudly as fire cracker. His teammate winced in pain and fell down over unconscious Shinohara.
Without their silhouettes obscuring his sight, it revealed a dark shadow leaning from the front seat of the crashed van, holding a small piece of midnight-blued metal with reflected on the illuminating headlights.
The piece of metal rattled fire again from its muzzle, landing its shot on the window of the car door he was standing behind, the operative ducked down reflexively as someone returning fire at him. The caliber was not powerful enough, the slug only cracked the glass but yet to shatter it apart, the window glass saved him from taking the bullet.
The very same gun rang twice and landed its round on the same cracked window glass, the fire stopped as the gun clicked dry.
The operative saw the opportunity and returned fire, suppressing as he moved behind the crashed van, smacking his body on the back doors as he took cover. He reloaded for a fresh magazine and turned to where the firing came, seeing no one was there now. The operative held his handgun straight, he peeked his head slightly to see the front seats, there was nothing. The door on the other side was not opened, he was certain he was not being circled around, leaving one possibility, that man who fired at him was still in the van. He braced himself before he took point on the opened side door.
The operative quickly turned to the opened side door, and nothing was in front of him. He swapped his gun into the left hand to expose himself lesser as he peeked his hand inside the back of the van and started firing blindly to corner the man in there.
But then the side door started closing clamorously, with his left hand caught in the way, the gun in his hand was knocked out onto the van after the door chop on his hand.
The bones in his left hand were shattered into pieces inside, he felt as the pain pinched him. The door swung hard on his hand and threw him on the ground as he was deprived of balance.
He lost his weapon, he crawled out to his dead teammate speedily and picked up the gun that was dropped, he turned back and fired as the side door was being swung open again. He ran entire magazine out to keep pinning the man inside the van, he searched at his dead teammate for another magazine to reload, but only came across an incendiary grenade canister hanging on the tactical belt, hesitantly as he was still in the blast radius, he pulled the pin and threw into the van.
The grenade bounce on the van’s panel and fell to the floor, giving Tougane a clear look how doom he was, beneath the blood covering on his face was an expression of fear. He thrashed himself out of the van through back doors and knocked himself on the concrete road without thinking.
The grenade went off and blasted pressured flame through the glasses, blazed the van up in fire.
A forceful jab from the tip of foot swung to Tougane’s chest as he pushed himself up, forcing him down on the floor for the second time, he rolled himself over and found the operative was stomping his foot on him. Tougane caught the foot with his both hands and twisted it, hurling the operative down to the ground.
They rolled away from each other and recovered on their feet, holding their guard out and ready to charge in.
Tougane was the first to charge in, throwing fists left and right. The operative was not frightened to move in, he plunged in and parried those fists away, getting too close than Tougane could draw his fists again, the operative slashed with his arm on Tougane’s chin, sending a severe force up in his head and shaking the brain inside the skull. Dazed, Tougane was grabbed and wrestled into the hood of the operative’s car.
The operative lashed down his right fist on Tougane’s face repeatedly, knocking him against the hood that it was dented. Tougane tried to recover his sense back each time he was struck, as it came back, he saw the incoming fist striking his head, he dove his head away and the fist dented on the hood. Tougane chopped the ridge of his palm on the operative’s clavicle on the side which was delivering striking fist, causing the operative to blowback. Tougane clutched by the man’s neck and head-butted as he pulled the man’s head down to his, he struck the operative’s knee his leg, crippling his balance.
The stunned operative was pulled toward and thrown on the hood as he was grabbed and swung against, Tougane then pinned him with left arm and struck his right hand at the operative relentlessly. Overturning the situation, Tougane began to bombard with his strike.
Tougane felt a sharp pain stung in at his left flank of the stomach, his blood flowed out like a leaking pipe as the sharp object was pulled out, he staggered back.
In the injured and beaten operative’s hand flashed a knife with drops of blood dripping on it, the knife which was pulled from leather holster strapped on the side of his boot. There was a red glare in both eyes staring back at Tougane, in aguish. Those eyes of the operative looked at Tougane as if they recognized him. They opened widely as if it was dumbfounded or struck with realization. And then those eyes were filled with sorrow.
The operative lunged in and dove the knife in Tougane stomach, slowly carving across his belly, the pain sent him on his knees. But yet Tougane struggled to get with his left hand, in response to his persistence, the operative stabbed the hand against the hood of the car, pinning and nailing his hand, it followed a bash that knocked his head against the bumper of the car.
Tougane was swelling pain and daze, there was a hissing noise in his head. Strength leaked out with as he bled, he resisted to fall over as his body became heavy. Tougane sighed to the depth of his lungs, breathing difficultly. He stared back the operative, he saw reluctance in the man after attacking Tougane, the man did not proceed to finish him off.
“Stay there!” Said the masked man standing in front of him, it was hoarse from tiredness and pain coming through the balaclavas, it was not as clear as it should be due to dazedness Tougane suffered. It was spoken in Japanese, Tougane was half glad that he would die at the hand of a fellow man rather than those foreigners. “I want Shinohara, but not you. Keep clutching your wound and you might make it, don’t force me to kill you.” The masked operative said bitterly.
“Why don’t you just finish me right now? You know I won’t let you get him by any account. You’re making a mistake.” Tougane retorted in his tired breath.
“We wouldn’t want more deaths than necessary, would we?” Said the operative. “I think it’s your mistake. We know who you are, Tougane Masaru, you caused us messes. We warned you to stay of this.”
“Should I be flattened that I’ve become popular among you folks …. If you know who I am then you know you are ruining what I’m trying to do …”
The operative dryly chuckled once. “Not at all …. Not at all. He’s going to disappear after all the things that happened to him, keeping low profile until his plan comes into fruition, leaving his minions who know nothing like you to carry out his process in the meantime. By then, it’ll be too late for any of us to stop it.”
“It’s a better chance than yours, I don’t think he’s going to tell you anything. He’s got people everywhere, he’ll slip of out of your hand.”
“Then we’ll kill him, which will stall his plan, we’ll pursue the remnants of his.”
“You’re so wrong!” Tougane reproved. “That’s going to set everything back even further, not one of us is going to learn his plan and be able to stop him.”
“That’s the kind of chance my people are considering to take, unlike yours. You work for him, for god’s sake, who do you think are helping him to succeed, you are one of them. The people I answer to don’t take that kind of chance you’re taking, actually, they think you’re bent and they want your head.”
“Are your people lawful? I don’t think they’re authorized for this.”
“No, but neither are you. This is the choice we make outside the legal and political boundary, we both know how it is.”
“So you’re taking him in anyway despite what I said …”
“Yes, unfortunately, I’ve made my mind already. So did you, if you hadn’t, you wouldn’t be here, you wouldn’t fight us, I don’t think anyone could convince you to get out the way, you didn’t even listen to your friend, and frankly I don’t think I could convince you myself. You won’t listen to anything now. So don’t fight it, this is as much as you can do, don’t make it harder than it already was. Despite of what I think of you and what you can achieve, orders are orders. You’ve got to commit.”
The operative walked to the unconscious Shinohara, he dragged the man out the dead body of his teammate that was laying on top of him.
“You’re going to have to get over my cold corpse first, if you want to get him!” Tougane yelled after.
“I wouldn’t do that, I’m not a monster. I did enough.” The operative said without turning back to have a look at Tougane, he only treated Tougane as just a noise in the air.
“What does it take you to stop?” Asked Tougane.
“As same as you, nothing.”
The operative pulled the radio out and lifted to his face.
“I’ll kill you if you call it in. I don’t want to kill another man like you, I’ve killed too many already.” Tougane interrupted before the operative could press the button and spoke through.
“Then I guess you have to kill another, you have to kill plenty more for what you want. You understand it well, I know.”
“You wouldn’t want to find out if I have to.”
“Exactly, my friend.” The operative replied. “Exactly.”
If there was still humanity in that man …. Tougane did not care whatever was holding that man back from finishing him off, the man knew well letting him live now would compromise his objective, if the man would not kill him, he would kill the man then. He valued what he had to do more than any life standing in his way.
The operative lifted the radio up and spoke, “Come in, I’ve secured the package.”
As they both made up their mind and were committed to what they needed to do.
“We’re at-” The operative cut off his sentence prematurely, “-arghhhhhhhh!” he ghastly wailed and then gasped for air against the pain struck on him.
Tougane had pulled the knife out of the sheath of his fleshes: his hand pinned on the hood of the car. Holding by the tip of it, he calculated and threw without any more hesitation.
The knife punched through the fleshes just below the neck from behind, the operative let go of radio in his hand, he struggled to keep his feet on, as he was almost to fall, he stepped another foot forward and repeated the process, he looked like he walked aimlessly. But he could not keep it going on forever, he crashed down eventually.
Tougane dragged his bleeding body over to Shinohara who still remained unconscious, he checked the man if he was still okay.
“Come in. What’s your current location?” A voice spoke through the speaker of the radio. “Come in, Fujiwara!”
Tougane froze and shivered in cold as he heard that. He hurried to the body crashed onto the ground.
“No, no, no .. It can’t be.”
He lifted the head closer to him and pulled the balaclavas off that face.
It was him, Fujiwara, the very face he knew for years.
“What the hell were you thinking? Why didn’t you tell me it was you …”
Life started to fade away from Fujiwara’s face, but his lip still could move, even lightly and faintly, the dying voice came out of that …. “Would you still kill me if you knew it was me?”
In dazedness, Tougane still could not recognize that voice.
Tougane knew the answer but he did not reply, he was afraid to, he was afraid to even admit to himself.
“I thought I knew you. But seeing the things you’ve done, I’ve started to think otherwise. It’s kind of bugging me, I was wondering if you were as I always thought, and you’re not. It comes at a high cost to know the answer. I should’ve killed you … But it didn’t seem even remotely easy, I guess I just couldn’t … I’m not like you after all, that’s why your dear Tsushio didn’t like me as he likes you. I wouldn’t able to live on knowing that I killed you. Would you Tougane, would you be able to? Wasn’t I making it easy for you to decide when the moment came? I just realized now I didn’t care about these things after all, orders, whether whose order it is … I don’t have anything in life waiting for me …. The things we do take our humanity away, I could only think that I still have it more than you … Knowing which you think is a truth turns out to be a lie or a misunderstanding is painful, isn’t it?”
The lip gaped slower the more Fujiwara had spoken. The blood that bled from his wound felt like a river running through as it poured on Tougane’s leg, it was more than enough to kill him.
Fujiwara took one final look at who he thought was a close friend before closing his eyes and waded away into the next world that awaited him.
Last edited by Tougane Masaru on Sat Aug 13, 2016 8:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
- THE UNPARALLELED CHAPTER: The improper passenger:
- Day 108
The control room of Typhoon-class submarine;
30 meter under and 16 nautical miles from Chiba to the center of Northern Tokyo bay
The tension grew eerie in the low light surrounding in the control room lit by the monitors. Apart from the rest who were dispatched to other sections of the submarine, there were only two armed men who strutted in the control room, and a personnel on submarine control, Shinohara was arching behind the man as he toyed with an iron baton left by the former worker on this submarine.
“Sir, one of our torpedoes was manually fired from torpedo room.” The goon at control pad reported to Shinohara as he read the monitor before him.
“Bloody hell, the navy fleet will pick our location when the torpedo makes it to their radar. How soon can we be ready?”
“30 seconds, sir.”
It would be in time to launch the missiles before the naval fleet arrived.
“You two, watch the door. He’s coming.” Shinohara told his armed men as he gazed worriedly at the door, knowing what was coming.
The metal door swung open and the men fired in that direction before the intruder got an opportunity to strike.
Though the bullets did not get the intruder, instead, one of the bullets has hit a red long canister object that flew toward them into the control room.
It was a fire extinguisher, and since the bullet has ruptured it, it spread white smoke all over the room.
Two armed men were distracted from the threat as they encountered asphyxiation and coughed violently.
They had not known that their cough would be so deathly, the intruder fired twice blindly to the sound of their difficult respiration, freeing them from the trouble.
Tougane, the intruder, the improper passenger, stood before the doorway to the control room, his white shirt and dark blue suit trousers soaking wet. He had a tie wrapped tight over the wound on his thigh.
He endured pain and exhaustion, but he knew better he could not let those weigh him down. So the gun in his hands was raised.
Tougane carefully watched for hostile and he stepped his first foot into the room with fading white smoke. The Browning High Power in his hands swept for possible danger as he looked ahead.
The clinking clatter rang as he felt both of his wrists wrenching down, the metal rod of baton swung vertically down on his gun, causing it to fall off his hands.
The swinging baton arm pulled back and, this time, slashed horizontally at his face.
Tougane ducked down and leaped into the room as the baton missed and struck a resonating clack on the rim of the doorway.
It was Shinohara who held that baton and obdurately persisted. He stood with his stick ready to fend off Tougane who was on his knee. “Launch it!!!” He yelled at the personnel on the control panel before he rushed to strike at Tougane again.
Tougane waited for the rushing madman with a baton to be in his range and then spun down in with his leg sweep-kicking Shinohara’s leg to disrupt his balance.
As Shinohara landed his flank hard on the metal floor, Tougane closed in and followed with a strike from his elbow in the man’s face, before he seized the iron baton in his hand and headed for the personnel.
The personnel at the control pad had input the coordinate, all he needed to do was to put the launch key in and hit the switch, he pulled the key from the chain clinging on his neck and plugged it in, twisting it. The hinge opened and revealed a red button, his fist lifted in the air and started to pound down for it.
“URRGH!” The man cried out hoarsely when Tougane locked the baton rod by his neck and pulled back harshly before he could hit the switch.
Tougane and the personnel began faltering back away from the control pad in the struggle, the personnel clambered his arms back to hit Tougane as he tried to free himself from chokehold.
Tougane threw the personnel on the floor before he jammed his knee over the man’s chest, Tougane drew back the baton and whacked down on the head even the hard skull felt like a pulp. As he continued to smack, there came a heavy metallic click.
“Hold it right there!” Shinohara shouted as he got a hold of a pistol and used it to point at Tougane, readying to fire, but not before the metal baton had flown in the air and hit his face violently.
Shinohara, flinchingly, pulled the trigger as he fell over behind, the rounds that discharged and hit the ceiling, spit fragments and ricocheted back on one of his leg, causing him to moan painfully.
Tougane got off the dead body he was riding over and went to disarm Shinohara before he sat back in silence with the man crying in pain on the background. He panted in fatigue as he looked at Shinohara, contemplating, with a gun in his hand that has yet to point at any living thing.
He went far, he thought, too far.
It was exhausting.
Last edited by Tougane Masaru on Mon Aug 29, 2016 5:33 pm; edited 2 times in total
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
- Chapter 17: Black that has depth - Midnight blue:
- September 1960
Biology Building of a certain University, Tokyo
A man dressed in black suit like a somber undertaker rather than a happy groom in a wedding stepped through the door into the recreation room. He was neither a lecturer nor someone who worked in this university.
There was something strange about the air around him, even his simple action as inspecting and interacting with the unfinished mug of coffee and the journal, the way he looked at things around was like he had ill intention about them.
“Hmmpf.” He made a sinister sound as he picked up a portrait frame up and looked at it.
“Put it down!” The voice came from the doorway he has just entered.
The man turned to the source of sound, it was Shinohara Satoshi, the very man whom he was expecting, he set the portrait down to where it belonged.
“Lovely, isn’t she?” The man spoke of the portrait.
Shinohara was not in the mood, he abruptly closed to the man and spoke, “Let’s not waste our time here, get what you want and get going.” He went further into the room, to the locker where he kept his belonging.
“Our thought is mutual.” The man commented as he watched Shinohara anxiously stuffed documents into his leather briefcase. “You’re right to come to us. The professor has made a wrong decision to go to someone else, we understand that he’s not satisfied with a certain condition. But he should calm down …”
Shinohara finished packing it, he harshly handed the leather briefcase to the man. “Here, all about the research is in there, all the work that he and I have done, that should be enough.”
The man gladly took it, “Thank you for being considerate. He said with a grim smile.
“Remember, keep your end of bargain.” Shinohara stressed it to the man.
The man did not say anything but giving a look that he has at least heard that clearly. It did not take longer for him to vanish from Fujiwara’s sight.
The uncomfortable atmosphere that came with the man had tensed Shinohara, now that he was gone, Shinohara sighed and let loose of his body.
“Satoshi?” The familiar lovely voice called. “Who was that?”
“He’s the errand guy … Not somebody significant.” Shinohara assumed it was the man from a certain place called ‘Academy City’ was who she referred to. His head turned automatically to and replied to Aiko, it did take a few second for him to erase the unease look on his face.
“Oh …” Her wonder was gone and Aiko came in to set down the lunchboxes for dinner as they sometimes got to do on this couch.
They dined throughout silence but it was mutual, they felt no words would have to be spoken, just the look they had at each other and one another’s presence.
The long sleek hair that draped over little shoulders, Shinohara found it harder for him to take his eyes off of her who sat beside him on this couch.
Aiko was someone who he looked at and would feel comfortable, but today was not so even the sight of her was his blessing, Aiko looked like she had something to worry, and that worried him too.
“Something wrong?” Shinohara simply said. That was all he had to get her to talk, he knew she trusted him.
“It’s … about my father … He’s so stressful lately, I’m just worried.” Said Aiko as she slowly loosened herself to rest on his shoulder.
“I’m sure everything will be fine after some time from now … Trust me.” Even he said it without a stutter, he was reluctant to.
“Yeah … Maybe …” Aiko discouragingly spoke. “But you know …” Came the slight change in her tone, it got more alluring with more light in her tone, her hand gently touched on his thigh. “Seeing you make me feel better … Not like when I have to be around with my father … mother …”
The air went through his raising diaphragm as his heart gradually beat faster.
“I wonder when can I see you again …” She said as she thrust her head closer.
His hand went to stroke on her sleek hair irresistibly. “Why? I’m always here .. You can see me whenever you want …”
She gently pushed him lay down on the couch and he let her climb on top of him playfully. “I’m going to go somewhere for a week tomorrow … I can’t imagine how much I will miss your stupid face …”
“But there’s always time after that, you know?” He slowly groped over her back with his two hands and pulled her a little closer.
“Who’s going to cook your lunch and dinner … You won’t take care of yourself in a meanwhile I’m gone …” She spoke to his face.
“I’ll make sure I survive the week to see you again … Okaa-san.” He jokingly said.
Then she brought her face closer and closer until their mouth touched upon each other and they followed their desire.
But he pulled his head aside and away from her.
“What’s wrong?” Aiko asked the shameful face.
Shinohara pondered for a second, he still could not get rid of the idea what he just did earlier with the man before she showed up. He felt he was taking an advantage of her, he felt bad having done that and now he was having her … But the more he stared into her face, that thought was fading from his mind.
“Nothing ..” He dismissed after he felt too compelled to give up and stop. He pulled her head closer and continued like nothing had happened, he wetted his dried lip with hers thirstily and she followed with excitement.
Their happy giggle slipped through the creak under the door as they were enjoying each other’s company. They let themselves go and let no thoughts to come between them, to relish, to endear, in this moment that they had all the time in the world.8 days ago ......Day 100
The remnant of the task force’s safe house;
It has been three months ever since the unsanctioned operation to kidnap Shinohara, the task force was disbanded after their operation failed and was exposed to the Academy City’s authority. However, the remnant of the task force still continued its pursue for Shinohara from underground.
But the attack has spooked Shinohara off, he was never on the radar ever since the attempted kidnapping. The only lead that was left in his involvement was a certain man called Osato, little was known about him, but his activities surfaced and attracted the task force’s attention during the absence of Shinohara.
Muted blue overcastted sky’s light passed through the window into the hazy room filled with cigarettes’ smoke. It was a small office that could fit a few desks and a large board for presentation. The board had a lamp pointed up against and lit up on the board, the photos pinned on the board reflected glossily. On the left half of the board had photos of the task force’s operatives who have fallen, twelve of them have as the photos laid out across the board on the half left, both British and Japanese operatives.
The last photo on the row was a Japanese, the name written under it was ‘Fujiwara’.
On the right side of the board were pictures of various people spreading across the board, linking with red threads like spider web to signify each involvement to another. The photo of Shinohara was on the top, solely, only linking to one person down below him, though this person was then linked with multiple red threads to other entities displayed on the board.
The photo of him was taken from a far as he made contacts with some known terrorists in a deal, slightly blurry, a man in a blue suit, wearing sunglasses and a brown fedora, obscuring the clear look of his face.
And under his picture, it was written with ‘Osato’.
The phone rang and almost immediately, Mansfield picked it up.
Mansfield listened to the caller very carefully for a few seconds.
“Is he there?”
He was answered with a short reply.
“Good.” Mansfield responded.Day 100
The hum of the turbo private jet’s two engines shrilled down its banshee scream to which was similar to vacuum cleaner’s noise as the jet backed up in the empty hangar. As it stopped, the aluminum ladder hung down from the cabin door.
A brown-skin boy, short hair and posture which suited his age of 14, dressing in an olive hoodie and camo cargo shorts, above his right military boot strapped a knife in a holster on his bare leg, even larger than the boy’s hand. His eyes on the expressionless face swayed left and right out of the jet as his hand tugging behind his back into the pants. Seeing nothing, he peeked his head back into the jet. Further in the interior of the jet was a man in a beige three-piece suit, laying on the soft sofa nonchalantly with his jacket as blanket and a booklet covering his face.
“They’re not here yet.” The boy sounded lifelessly and he spoke, his English accent hinted natural Afrikaans tongue.
“They’ll be here soon. Don’t get too startled.” The man replied, drowsily as he was sleeping earlier. “Do you want something to drink to just to keep your nerves calm?” He cheerfully teased the boy.
“I don’t drink on job, neither should you.”
“I’m starting to wonder who plays the parental role in our relationship …”
The man pushed the booklet away without care, and went into the bathroom to wash his face.
He looked at the mirror and pondered who he was now … It was still a familiar face, but on the inside and the roles he played ….
Was he Tougane?
Was he Taneda?
Was he Osato?
Who was he? How were they different? Which one was good or bad?
From outside it looked the same, but in fact it was not. Like midnight blue, when the light does not touch upon it looks black, but reflect on when it does and therefore reveals its depth.
Would he reflect his depth when the light touch upon? Would he get to know he was not the darkest of darkness?
“Tougane, you should hurry. They’re here now.” The boy shouted at him like when a parent hurries their kid out of the bathroom as the kid is taking too long during the rush hour in the morning.
“Go ahead, Franz. I’ll be there soon.”
Tougane washed away the thoughts down the drain of the sink, reminding himself why he was here and what he had to do, he grabbed the jacket and put it on along with a pair of wayfarer sunglasses and a cream fedora which he became used to wearing them to keep his face hindered. He now resumed and wore his new skin, new identity, new role, but still the same purpose.
This was a business deal like any that he had carried out in the past three months, he got in the beds with dictators, rouge states, terrorist or whatever kind of ideology they held by and called themselves, as long as they bought the weapons, he sold them what they wanted without a question against their legitimacy or the lack of it. In short duration of time, the amount of weapons he distributed could prolong the current state of conflicts for a decade or two. Either they were really used or not was not his interest, he only had to sell them as part of funding and leading the authority astray from Shinohara’s scheme.
Tougane stepped down the aluminum ladder, heat in the air blew in his face quickly, he started to sweat in his beige linen-blended three-piece suit, he dressed as pretentiously as westerners in the hot climates back in the colonial days.
“It’s bloody cold in the jet, now it’s too bloody hot outside! This is just great.” Tougane complained as he walked up to the boy who got ahead and covered the ground for him.
“But you own a jet and wear a suit.” The boy replied while looking at the three approaching black sedans, instead of looking at Tougane as he spoke to him.
“But I own a jet and I wear a suit.” Tougane repeated the boy’s word. “First world problem.” He mockingly said to himself, as standing there and watching the approaching sedans drove through heat haze in the blazing day outside the hangar.
As the black sedans parked in front of them, Tougane glanced his eye at the boy and noticed the boy still had his hand tugged into the pants behind his back.
“Franz, keep your hand off your piece for now, we don’t want to scare them off, would we? These terrorist folks are kind of jumpy, with a wrong move we can blow this thing in our face.” Tougane spoke of it like it was a normal matter. “But don’t worry, I don’t think anything will go wrong this time.”
“I hope you’re right this time … Tougane.” A slow click was heard and his hand came off the shorts, laying heavily on the side of his body, Franz has not shaken off the death glare.
The men came down from their black sedans, they had a mix of Slavic and Asian appearances, fair skinned and dark hair.
“Mr Osato, right?” One of the men distinguished from the crowd of soldiers in his clothes but still invoked his militaristic origin, the man wore a brown leather bomber jacket over his khaki shirt and trousers. Other than that, it was his goatee that made him distinguishable.
He took off his sunglasses as a polite gesture. “Yes. You must be Yusuf Naumov.” Said Tougane, he then stretched his hand out to be shaken, but Naumov pulled him into embrace and patted fairly heavy on his back, Tougane did not know what it was but he followed suit. Naumov seemed overly happy, he started to have an odd buggering feeling on the inside. “Sorry about the meeting location, but the authority becomes a pain lately, it’s best we meet somewhere away from their surveillance. I hope I don’t waste much of your time here.”
“Not at all. I take this as a vacation trip.” Naumov gave a smug.
Without dragging on, Tougane continued, “The cargo arrived separately in the 4th hanger. Shall we go there or have it brought here?”
“My men will bring it here.” The thick Slavic accent came with a stench of Vodka. Naumov gave a look at his men and they drove out immediately. “Where is Mr Shinohara now in these days? We normally talk and deal on the phone.” He jerked his head back as he asked with curiosity.
“You’ve got to go through me for now, there’s a bit of incident and he decided it was better to lay low for a while.”
“Send him my regards. I have not got around to thank him for the French Open tickets he gave me.”
“He did that?” Tougane exclaimed. Shinohara sold rockets and gave out French Open tickets as little complimentary? What a way to do business, he thought. “Well sorry for this time then, I haven’t got you anything, maybe next time when you order more rockets to blow up tanks and building.” The tone came out lightheartedly as he adjusted his shade. He could feel Franz turning around and giving an odd look.
“Haha!” Naumov laughed happily and patted Tougane on his shoulder a few times. “I’ll be looking forward to that. Pests on the borders are uncontrollable, I’ll be ordering many more!”
A forklift truck came, Naumov’s men hurried to load the crate they took as a sample down and then opened it with crowbar. In there lied two 122 mm rockets on the transport cushion.
“It’s a modified version of M21 Field Rocket System, but I can assure you it functions almost the same, just only with more range and lethality.” Tougane slipped in. “You can read about the rest in the specs. I reckon this specific variant won’t be traceable, officially, it doesn’t exist.”
“Very nice, this shall do.” Naumov took a peek and became pleased. “On the price we’ve agreed?”
“There’s additional cost on these rockets since you asked for them in such a short notice. For the other merchandise, he already gave you a fair price on your order along this shipment, they are being transported via a ship to your desired location, there’s no need to review them as you have seen them before. Am I right?”
“Yes, it’s just these rockets we’re in need of right now in a hurry, the rest can wait a little further on. I trust there’s nothing wrong with the rest of shipment, it’s not the first time I do business with him.”
“Shinohara’s always more than happy to provide you with necessary equipment in the battle.” Tougane was excited to close the deal. “I hope this doesn’t sound too rude, may I say the money? No offense, but he likes to take precaution, you know that.”
A slight of annoyance came on Naumov’s face, “Fine.” Naumov and Tougane walked over to the car Naumov rode here. Naumov banged on the hood of the sedan and the passenger came out, a Caucasian man on the side of west European and not the one from Mediterranean, the man was tall and a little too good-looking and healthy for a dirty banker, not that someone with this appearance could not be, but just that Tougane was not used to such picture. The man was in a navy striped suit, striped shirt and tie which came off overbearing, it looked rather like he was in the office or Wall Street, not taking the opportunity in the heat to dress down even slightly.
“Where’s your Armenian banker, Naumov?” Tougane asked as he saw the passenger was not who he was expecting. It was not the same banker he knew Naumov employed. The excite was beginning to be clouded with doubt.
“He ran into a dead end. I suppose just doing with the number was not enough of trouble for him, he managed to get himself into something else eventually.” Naumov smiled which was unsympathetic when someone talks about the dead and death itself. Tougane understood the expression well that maybe that Armenian banker had it coming and deserved it hence Naumov’s lack of sympathy. But with doubt as overflowing fuel, it sparked even further.
“Well this one is Swiss. If you can’t trust a Swiss banker, what the world has come to?” As smug as Naumov already posed, he remained the same as he added more words.
The banker laid the large silver briefcase on the hood, “50 millions Euro, 10 in each case, upfront. Unmarked bills. I hope this satisfies you.” Though his first tongue was German, his voice was not as hissy, low and heavy, as supposed to be, only stretching in each word. “May I ask why you don’t want to have the money wired instead?”
“He doesn’t want to leave a trail, not right now, neither do I.” Tougane glanced queerly at the banker as he opened the briefcase for asking such a question, addition to more doubt he already had.
The briefcase had 500 Euro bills stacked inside, sniffing them smell of its ink once, he closed the briefcase.
“Franz,” Tougane waved the boy to him. “Would you mind taking the money on the plane?”
The boy nodded and knew to do, he knew he had to do more than just taking the money, he had to check the breifcase. Naumov’s men helped the boy carried the briefcases onto the plane.
Tougane walked up to Naumov, flicking his head back, signaling that he needed to have a private conversation. He felt he still was being watched by the banker.
“Naumov,” Tougane started as if it was a great burden to speak, he sighed and fixated heavily at the man, “I know you and Shinohara have been doing business for some time, but if you want to continue doing so, you should choose your man more wisely.”
“What do you mean?” Naumov looked genuinely dumbfounded.
“I don’t think that’s a Swiss banker.”
Franz came down the ladder of the jet, he walked straight to Tougane hurriedly. “I scanned the briefcases with the detector, I found this in one of them.” The boy handed him a small metallic rectangular piece, a size about a gum piece, it was busted by blunt force as the boy has bashed it prior, inside through the crack revealed a green electronic board. One could assume right away it was a tracker.
Tougane picked up the piece and handed it to Naumov, “See, Naumov? I don’t think a banker needs to keep track on the money this much.” He said slyly as he looked grimly at the false banker. “I don’t know if Shinohara still wants to do business with someone as sloppy as you, you’re making yourself a liability to him.”
“What the hell is happening!?” Holding what was a tracker in his hand, Naumov came to grasp that something was not normal.
“What is happening here is that your banker is someone who works for the authority, Naumov.” His eyes were still on the banker, and the banker himself started to know that things would not go his way from this moment on. “He planted a tracker in the briefcase, and likely he would have used the bills that he could track through their serial.”
“Fucking hell …” Naumov had an unbelieving look on his face. “If words got out that I made such a mistake, I would be done. He knew too much about me.”
“I suppose you haven’t told him anything involving Shinohara?” Tougane turned to the man and inquired, bearing a serious face.
Naumov did not reply, gaping and looking at Tougane blankly.
“You fool …” Tougane frowned and dropped his jaw as he looked at the man who could compromise this whole thing.
“We’ll have to kill him, we can’t let him expose us … I’ll milk that fucker myself, I’ll kill him.” Naumov panicked. “Please let make this thing right, I’ll get everything out of him. You go ensure Shinohara there’s nothing to be worried on this side.
“Not before I talk to him. I know how eager you are to test out those medieval torture gears, but let me handle it first.” Tougane coldly spoke. “Franz, put in a cap in his kneecap.”
The boy was a natural, he smoothly brought his hand to his back and drew a Browning High-Power from his cargo shorts, flicking the safety lever off along the way as he aimed with just one hand, and then fired once without hesitation.
“ARHHHHHHHHHH!” The banker fell behind on the hood of the car with his hand trying to lean on after the his kneecap was busted, it was no question at all he could not walk from now on, but as Tougane and Franz knew, he would not have to ever again.
Franz turned to Weaver stance, with both hand aiming carefully, he followed Tougane as he approached the banker who has fallen from his wound.
“My guess is that you’re from whatever that’s left of the task force, you’re like those annoying lice … I see you’re still active.”
The man made no comment, the only thing coming out of his mouth was his heavy breath in agony.
“What do you want? The task force is over, why are you still coming after us?”
“Because no one is, that’s why we are.” As the man spoke, he no longer bothered and attempted to hinder his accent, he sounded English, and surely he belonged the task force, or what was left of it.
“But this is getting nowhere.” Tougane lamented. He grabbed the Browning in the boy’s hand by its barrel and seized it to himself. Glaring at the man, he grabbed him by the collar and stuck the gun on the man’s face. “How do you find us?” Tougane was furious, not exactly at the man but at himself for letting the man accomplished it. He thought he was careful enough up until this point, but this happened. He had to know how this man did it so it would not happen again.
“I’d rather die than telling you, that way we still have more chance at getting Shinohara.” The man made his resolved, Tougane looked at him and knew he could not change the man’s mind in anyway because he himself would do the same thing, he would rather die than saving himself and failing what he had to do. The man was not willing to sell his people out because even he had fallen, the rest of his people could still have a shot at pulling it off.
“Don’t be foolish, save yourself. If death doesn’t scare you, the man you see over there, Naumov, you know just how far he will go to get you to talk. He doesn’t like leaks in the system either. He’ll make you howl for your mother as you spend your time in dark basement, your mind will break before your body do. I’m giving you a chance, tell me how and I’ll save you.”
It was concise, the look on the man’s face has not changed, he still stared at Tougane without any fear.
The trigger was pulled, Tougane felt the recoil and flinched which he never did when a gun was fired, he tasted gunpowder in the air as his mouth gaped down and sensed the warm sensation all over his face. The man, with a large and gory wound in his face, lost his strength to stand and fall down to the ground.
There was a reflection of himself on the window of the car, Tougane had blood splattered all over his face and clothes, he stood there and stared at the reflection, the worst imagery of himself but that alone had not horrified him, he saw someone standing beside him in that reflection and he knew it was impossible, what he was seeing continued to frighten him.
He head the boy calling out to him which then brought him off the trance-like experience and back to present. He took the double look on the reflection and it was not there anymore.
Under the blank face, Tougane knew Franz felt something was off.
“What the fuck just happened?” Naumov yelled from behind.
Tougane regained his consciousness, he turned back and replied, “He shot himself, unfortunately.” He waved the gun and shrugged his shoulders like he too had no clue. “Sorry.” He said it, but he did not understand it himself it he meant ‘Sorry, you’re not getting a plaything for your torture session’ or something else.
Nobody said a word as everybody seemed not to know how to respond to the situation.
“I think we’re done here, we’ll have the body cleaned up. A pleasure doing business with you, Naumov.”
“The same, pleasure doing business with you, Mr Osato.” Stiffly said, Naumov and his men gathered up their stuffs, they got in the sedans and left after they got they came for, soon after they would probably be on the beach and hanging out under the hot sun.
“What’s wrong? You seem a little …. Strange?” Franz reluctantly spoke up.
Tougane turned around and found the boy was the only human being in this hangar, excluding the pilot and the dead body. He wiped what he thought was his sweat mixed that man’s blood off his forehead with the back of his hand which was still holding the gun.
“I told you not to load the gun with hollow point round, it makes a mess. Full metal jacketed round wouldn’t splatter blood all over me.” Tougane handed the Browning back to the boy. “Christ, you even carry a bigger than mine, I don’t get how you stay comfortable with that thing tugging behind your back.”
The boy has taken the gun and put it away, but did not take his eyes off Tougane as there was still curiosity in those.
“I suppose we have a shovel in your equipment backpack.”1301 hours
Airspace over Atlantic waters
The jet soon has flown into the air after Tougane was done with the burial of the body at behind of the airfield. As soon as the jet climbed into steady, Tougane went into the bathroom almost immediately, grabbing a jar of bourbon and a glass on the way to it.
Tinnitus was still ringing in his ears, he still felt the shock he had when the gun went off. He was not aware or anticipating for the man to put his thumb in the trigger guard and fired it himself. What others saw was the man had killed himself, but Tougane knew it well he was the one who had pushed the man to that point where he had to, because Tougane wanted answers, he threatened the man to leave him in the possibly worst dire if the man refused to answer his inquiry, the action was driven by the moment. There were still other options, but Tougane did not consider them to be effective.
So the man died, without no better option presented to him and most certainly, not even a glimmer of hope. For what he thought was duty and comrades, he chose to die without compromising them.
The gunshot did not only leave a hole in the man’s head, it carved another inside Tougane, along with the other he had along the path he took here.
He took off the bloodied shirt. As much as he tried to rinse the mark off his face with water from the tap, he still felt the blood had dried and seeped into his skin, he still saw that red mark from blood stayed on his face in the mirror. It would not come off as the bloody on his hands, he still felt Fujiwara’s blood still stuck on his hands.
He rubbed where the mark was again and again until it was gone, he looked into the mirror to make it did. There left no mark on his face, no trace of blood, he did not see it anymore, but it was impossible to forget where it used to be every time he looked at his face.
He knew those people he killed were good men, he did not want to kill them, but for what he believed was best in the situation and as those people chose to stand in his way, he killed them. He wondered how many more he had to kill, he already could not imagine what would be left of him by the time he was standing atop of the pile of bodies.
With the bourbon poured into the glass in front of him and ready to be poured down his throat, Tougane had to endure for now, as long as he was progressing.1979
A certain naval hospital;
“Huhh!” That was the exhausting grunt. The rubber ends of the walker rocked of the lacquered wooden floor, the man in the hospital gown held its handles tightly, sweating on his face and his palms badly in this humid summer. His legs were trembling, he struggled to walk further but he felt so tired. He had never imagined in his life before that walking to other end of the room could be a matter that discouraged him.
“Good morning, Commander. I see you’re up for a walk already.”
“Morning, Taneda. No lilies? No flowers at all?”
“Sorry, Commander. Afraid not.” It was one of the few times he saw Taneda mentioned his rank without showing a hint of disdain or disgust, Taneda spoke out of respect that he has never seen, it seemed Taneda acknowledged and accepted him that he was inherently good, despite they had a feud back in the service, but it was over since he tried to save the man’s life.
The rank meant nothing to him, his service was over the moment he disobeyed the order and suffered the injury that put him into discharge from the service. He decided to go back and saved Taneda against his field CO’s order, both survived the ordeal, and he did not regret doing so even he was still frustrated that his career met its end. It appeared to him that he should put all of that behind and started over.
“Just ‘Fujiwara’, I’m no longer in the navy.”
The man who stood before him was not in what Fujiwara usually saw, not in the battle fatigue, the wet suit or the naval uniform. Taneda wore plain clothes, navy blzer, blue crisp dress shirt and white trousers. He never saw the man this casual, or in this casual environment.
“That makes two us, neither am I.”
“Good, you made it out alive, retreat back to normal life. Enjoying it?”
“I’m afraid it isn’t so.” Said Taneda. “Shan’t we take a seat first?” The man then went to brought two chairs from nearby and helped him to sit down.
Fujiwara was overly happy that someone came to visit him, he did not question himself in his mind why this man came to him even slightly. A friendly visit, he presumed it to be.
After seating down properly and feeling comfortable enough, on the upper half at least, since he lost control and sense over below the thighs, thus could not walk on his both feet.
“How are you?” Taneda looked apologetic, even Fujiwara did not hold this against him, he must have blamed himself for causing this to happen to Fujiwara.
Fujiwara smiled back, he did not want to force the guilt on the man more than he already felt. “Fine, a little bored lately, there’s not much to do. You know how being hospitalized is, there isn’t anything to say about it. But it won’t be too long that I have to stay in this sickly place.”
“Yeah, but mine was never as bad as yours.” Taneda became clearly uncomfortable, he looked he had a thought in his mind but was reluctant to speak of it, he eventually did either it was what he originally thought or not. “So what are you going to do after this?”
“I don’t know. I’ve spent too many years in the service that I’ve come to think less about other things else. It won’t feel the same for certain. I’ll be looking for an employment that doesn’t require the use of two legs, staying home, doing nothing, it’s pretty depressing.” Fujiwara had enough of lonesome time, he had time to think, or tried to. But the actuality was he did not want to think about it because he knew there was nothing waiting for him, he just spent a day after another.
“I know you miss it, and I took it away from you prematurely. You want to go back, but you couldn’t … I’m sorry.”
“How many times do I have to tell you that it’s not your fault, I made my decision and it’s just bad luck. Making it out alive is already blessing, it’s more than I could hope for. I didn’t exactly save you from that mess entirely, you carried me in the water to get help, that should pay it off.”
But it was indeed true what Taneda had said, despite how much he wanted to go back to that life, his body was holding him back.
“But without you coming back for me, I wouldn’t survive, I would be either killed or rotting in their prison. You came back for me and that ruined your life, I still owe you one.”
“Oh, god. Don’t make this a sob trip, it’s just making me feel even worse.”
“I’m sorry then, that wasn’t my intention. I came here to offer you something.”
“I wouldn’t consider this repaying you, I messed it up and I should fix it-”
“Cut the crap, brother …”
The man became silent for a moment, and the suspense was killing Fujiwara as he already had little to no idea what this was about.
“You have heard of Academy City? It’s a pioneer of advance technologies in various fields, including medical.”
“Yes, but if you are suggesting that I get a treatment there, I doubt that’s likely. It either is too expensive or disclosed to public access.”
“You needn’t worry about that. There’s the Agency there that employs men like us to do what you know …. What we did back in the navy. I can get you to be employed, they’ll cover the cost for your treatment with no expense, what they need is human asset, and I know you’d make a good one.”
“You’re asking me to go back and do that sort of thing? What kind of man do you think I am?”
“The kind that is not reluctant to say ‘yes’. It’s not a binding of course, it’s just an opportunity, you can just get the treatment alone and I’ll cover it myself. I’m just offering you the chance to go back to that life because the navy sees no use in you anymore and what you have will be a waste if you retreat back to normal life.”
“When do we start?” Fujiwara had no reluctance.
Then came the laugh from both men in a mutual agreement of the beginning of something they looked forward to and the end which they did not.
Tougane shuddered in his awakening on the sofa, the change in pressure as the jet lowered down and a headache was bursting his head inside out. The air in the cabin did not seem suffice as he breathed, he still felt suffocating.
He remembered placing the jar of bourbon besides him, he tried to reach for it, his hand felt its polished surface, but it was pushed away as he tried to seize it.
The boy had pushed it away.
“I’m going to take my medication. Would you mind?”
“Then take it with water.” Franz gazed at him intensely, though Tougane did not know for sure whether it was concern or curiosity.
Annoyed by the boy’s demeanor, Tougane jokingly retorted, “Come on, I’m not going die because of pancreatic cancer, at least not for now. I’ll still deliver what I promised you.”
“I’m sure you’ll deliver that, but that’s not what this is about.” The boy said slowly, it was noticeable that he became more thoughtful in the instance. “There’s something wrong back at the airfield.”
“You look like someone who’s truly scared when the man shot himself in front of you … And now you look regret.”
“I saw something that was not there, I saw my friend that I killed by my own hands.” Given options like last time, he thought he chose one that was necessary, but even with justification, it felt terrible. “I pushed that fake banker too far, I’ve could have gotten on the plane and then hid somewhere until this is all over, but instead, I threatened him and he chose to die before he would give in to pain that awaited him and reveal the secret. I thought I had to know how the task force tracked, so I would prevent them from doing so, I wouldn’t have to kill them anymore ….”
“Is that what you told me it might happen?”
“Yes, it’s very periodical, but it’s not that frequent. Still I’ll have to be careful.”
Besides being restless, the death of his friend, Fujiwara, still haunted him, it has worn out his mentality. He experienced hallucinations and anxiety attacks at times. Before the application of the mutagenic enhancement program, he had heard it was possible to develop these symptoms as effects in a certain stage. With that event as a trigger, he suspected it was so, thus he attempted to counteract with some medication to keep him going on in this operation as he could not give in at this very moment.
“You understand now, this is why I need you. I don’t trust myself to do the field work anymore.”
With less faith in himself and his mentality, and paranoia among the world he lived in now, Tougane brought the boy along as he could not trust anyone, if he had to rely on someone in this act, he was afraid that someone would eventually turn on him. It was one of the reasons he avoided using the men Shinohara employed, he recruited someone he could depend on and would not betray him, that was the reason he told himself. But there was still another reason, he could not go on alone any more, he needed someone to help him, and to fill the hole he punctured onto himself, a company that would keep in check with him in his journey to underworld.
On one of the early operations he carried out after Shinohara ‘disappeared’, he met the boy born to a German mother and a Rhodesian father, his name was Franz, he encountered the boy in Mozambique in a trade with his client. At the outpost that the trade took place, Tougane witnessed the boy in captive after his failed attempt to liberate from the camp, despite failing, his attempt was feared by the soldiers stationed there, it was said he took out two dozens of soldiers single-handedly, as he had experienced in Rhodesian Bush War and then later Mozambique Civil war. Although it was pity that got Tougane’s eyes on the boy, it was his skill that Tougane became interested, he then bought the boy after he got a certain idea. With the right price and treatment, he got the boy on board to help him. He only had to train the boy so little, the boy was far better himself at same age.
“You needn’t worry about me, I’m sure we’re close into ending this. As long as we keep them authority away ….”
Tougane picked up the cellular phone which was enormous in size that laid on the arm rest, he dialed a certain number than would get the banker he needed to laundry the money as soon as he wished to.
“Would you mind telling the pilot that we are stopping at Fukuoka first?” Tougane asked the boy.
Despite the deteriorating mentality, Tougane was still a man on a mission. He knew the cost and what he had to do.
Last edited by Tougane Masaru on Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:38 pm; edited 2 times in total
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
- Chapter 18: A perk of being a liar:
- Day 102
A certain country club and resort;
“I missed you.”
“I’ve never imagined you would.” Tougane teasingly said.
Laying by his side on the bed and under the warm sheet with nothing on her body was Rie, the woman he shared a mutual involvement with a certain man. Conspiring behind the man back, they were treacherous paramours who failed to resist their desire and climbed in the same bed for the same goal.
They have not seen each other in the past three months, both men she was intimate with were gone from her life. Tougane himself was too pre-occupied with what he had to do for the Agency the he has grown less care for other needs and desires, so the treat after a long hiatus, they thirsted for it. For a moment, Tougane for the burden he was carrying.
“How long do we still have to wait?” It was a voice which was hopeful, but there lied the sorrowful hint.
“As long as we have to.” Said Tougane, vaguely. It could be years if it had to be, but then again, it could be tomorrow that this was over. “I haven’t seen him myself, maybe when I meet him, I’ll get to know.”
“I could see the life after this waiting before me, it’s almost within the reach, but I still can’t reach for it.”
“I see you’ve already had plans.” Tougane understood it, but to see how far that dream went, it was unimaginable.
“Not exactly plans, just a quiet life, peaceful, away from the fake glamour and lies, not having to be someone else’s shadow anymore …. A life with liberty, once again.” Rie said joyfully, in her eyes it was clear that she was dreaming of this for long time. “What about you? After this, what will you do? Go back to do another assignment, works of your sort?”
As exhausting as it became, and he just realized it was enough, the answer was apparent. “I haven’t thought about it .. But I do really feel tired right now …”
“Maybe we run away together, we’ll go to Kyushu.”
“Kyushu? It’s bloody hot down there, I wouldn’t go!”
“The hotter it is, the lesser of pieces I have to wear. Wouldn’t you like that?” She rolled over on him under the sheet, grabbing him by the face, she pulled herself fiercely closer, too close, they could feel each other’s breath.
It was never something that he heard before from a woman, he never had plans with them, the nature of his work was bad for them, they would be better off with other men. But now has he decided it was his last assignment, that kind of life she proposed, it appealed and sounded too sweet, just to think about it. Maybe it would work, she would make him forget about everything and nothing from his old life would go after him, he let himself became a little too dreamy, he did not think of thoroughly about how the things actually were or what they actually were to each other, he did not want to. He just let himself slip into that euphoric state that it was long lost as he thought about the getaway.
“Seems I can’t make an omelet without breaking an egg …. At least Fukuoka is nice.”
“I’ll stay home, write the books. What would you do if not what you’re doing now?”
“Fishery? Own a boat, sailing in the lonesome and quiet sea.”
“You know how to fishing?”
“I’ve got all the time in the world to learn. There’s plenty of time to think what’s there to do, there won’t be anything that keep you not doing what you want.” He said, as optimistically as he never imagined himself did before. “Plans on having more kids?”
She giggled cheerfully before bending down and bringing her lip on his. “You have to be careful out there, will you? I don’t want anything to happen to you …” She whispered into his ear.
“Trust me, I’ll be careful out there.” He reassured her before wrapping his arms on her bare back and strayed across it, making sure they would not have to leave each other for a couple of hours, making their time worthwhile as they were still together.Day 102
The final hole of the golf course inside a certain country club and resort;
The golf ball was in the rough on the side of the four-par fairway. It was driven by the forceful, but yet unpracticed swing and swept by the help of wind after the first stroke. He swung forcefully to land the shot over the woods on the side and avoided the coil of the course which bent like snake, landing the shot the furthest he could and saving himself a stroke by not having to follow the fairway of the course. Though the shot landed considerably close to the green which was surrounded by pits of sand and obstructed by a small pond after the end of the fairway, ten club-length to it was the distance, but the rough the golf ball was in had low-hanging dense branches of trees blocking its projectile route unto the green which he did not accounted for, it was certainly problematic when the back of the green was a pond, using iron club to adjust for low-attitude in projectile to avoid the branches in the way could go beyond the green and fall into the pond and using pitch wedge would force the shot to go through branches of woods. Had he lessened the force in his swing in the first stroke, the shot should have landed on the fairway even not as close to the green as this shot was, but struck with more chance and opportunities than what he currently had now. The choices he had were to reposition the shot by landing on the fairway but losing a stroke, or to land the shot on the green and in the process, risking to lose another stroke all the same from landing in the pond or hitting the branches, all of which setting him back another step.
The wind was still as strong as it was, using irons would guarantee landing it in the water, that was likely what the caddie thought as he handed Tougane the pitch wedge, he pushed the sleeves of his cashmere polo and took the wedge, readying for the swing.
"Quite a risky shot, ain't it?" Said Shinohara who took such the same path but still stayed in the fairway. "Could have taken the safer way, but you didn't."
"What they say, 'high risk, high reward'." Replied Tougane, as adjusting his swing.
“I don’t think it rewards you as much as it risks; water hazard, sand traps … Still, not bad for the first time.” Shinohara had a face of a winner already, joyful in his victorious result, despite they were both still two under par, equal to each other at the moment. But since Shinohara second stroke landed on the green already, Tougane seemingly fell behind in this last hole of the course. With the exclusion to his personal feelings on Shinohara regarding his duty and mission, and only based on the game he was having now alone, Tougane greatly despised that sly face Shinohara made.
The green, his goal, was in front of him, seeing it from afar. But somehow he had a feeling he could not reach it. Landing the shot somewhere out of the tree branches-dense path, he would be set back already more than he was, not to mention to landing in the hazards. Tougane intended to drive his shot through the branches.
The wedge was drawn, the bare hand and gloved hand gripped tightly, the eyes gazed down at the ball. Tougane swung the wedge, its angled and serrated club head sliced under the golf ball and over the grasses and soil.
The ball burst up and climbed curvedly into the air in its initial moment before it went through the low-hanging branches in the path which significantly slowed its speed.
The white ball disappeared from his sight for a couple of seconds after it went through and was obscured by the tree branches. Tougane anticipated nervously under the guise of his calmed face, as he could see the view of the green without the sign of his golf ball.
The brief seconds that the golf ball entered his frame of view and fell down to its awaited surface, a single sweat dropped from his cheek onto his golf shoe in spite of the breezy wind. The distance was illusive as light illumed at end of his sight, he was not sure if it landed on the ground until it almost did. He imagined its throbbing sound as it impacted on the edge of the green. But only half of the ball did, as so, it faltered and slid back onto the sand trap before the green.
“At least it was on the green.” Tougane lamely spoke. Yet that he has admitted to his likely defeat, he knew it was coming.
Tougane puttered the ball into hole and finally ended the game, after wasting a stroke on getting out of the sand, making his score neutral in this hole, but that was not what he wanted …
Shinohara chip-shot from the edge of the green into the hole, with only three strokes used, he went from two under par to three under par, beating Tougane at this game. His score was like a flush to a straight in a game of Texas hold’em.
“Seems I’ve beaten you in this game, Shuji-kun.” Said Shinohara, cheerily, with a smug and his pitch wedge held like a noble man’s cane.
Even it was an alias, Tougane recognized the use of first name-basis, Shinohara has come to endear and value Tougane more. Has he, really? Tougane’s doubt peeked from under the cradle of his thought.
“Of course, you have. Not pulling your punch back, did you? You’re a little too proud over winning a novice of this game.” A pout followed by a smug and finished with a wink from his eyebrow, Tougane finished his sentence.
“Don’t take this grudgingly.” And then Shinohara laughed. “Actually, I’d like to believe golf is about playing with yourself rather about playing with your opponent. You only have control over your shots, not mine. And you only had to read and play your game. Because you were trying to beat me, you lost.”
“You care to elaborate?”
Shinohara walked up to him as he solemnly stared. “The shot you risked to take to get ahead of me, it set you back.” He said. “Like I said, it’s not about beating me, it’s about deciding what’s best in the situation you’re facing, you have to maintain yourself, stay wise and aware. Had you gone for a less distanced and thus less risky shot in the first stroke, you would have gotten yourself a better opportunity. Once you let the worry of taking a risky and drastic action to cloud your mind, it compromised your performance.”
“I’ll take note of that, next time I get to practice when I’m not too busy running your guns and arms around the world, running away from the authority.” Although jokingly, Tougane’s tone was bitter.
“Sure, you’ll have peace in our time after a certain thing is done. So far you have done well in what you have to do, I’m greatly contributed by that.”
Peace? What he had to do? Greatly contributed?
Unlike that green, Tougane felt he barely saw his goal waiting for at the end of the line, and by that he did not how the distance he had to continue moving forward. The discouragement was a weight, but he carried that all the way here to do what he had to do.
“How long am I going to do this forever to lure them away from your movement and plan? For something I don’t even know it myself what it is I’m risking and putting my life on the line for.”
A steady look into Tougane’s eyes, Shinohara acknowledged something as he nodded. The hand stretched back and gave the caddie his iron. “You think I’ve brought you to a country club just to have a game of golf in this time I’m under the pursuit of vigilante authority? He wiped the smug out of his face and looked serious before giving a grim smile. “Patience, little brother. Men like us discuss things over coffee or alcohol, and right now is too early for alcohol.”
Tougane felt anxious for being too pushy Shinohara at the course, but as Shinohara registered his tiredness that appeared on his face briefly at moments, it was not at all too ‘inappropriate’. Any moment from now in the clubhouse, he still had that chance.
Shinohara described the biochemical weapon he secretly developed as his instrument to immense power, people have died to know his plot, Tougane was dying to know that plot. Tougane felt bloody ironic that in order to do so, he was the one who helped the man’s plan to reach the fruitful state, and where he would learn it was at a lunch table; he very much preferred to do the inquiry in the dark room, but since that guarantee no success, Tougane had to endure and keep up his fakeness of his character.
The thoughts slipped in the moment he was left alone at the table, Shinohara went to send her off to her room and flirt with his wife whom pretended to ignore Tougane’s glance at her way. Tougane continued to sip the dark coffee he bothered not to put in neither of cream nor sugar like usual, not because of that was what the cool guys do but rather that believed those things were not going to give him enough energy anyway and he deserved the bitterness to keep him awake at this time.
“Kept you waiting, huh?” Shinohara came back to join him at the table, without the wife, they could have a man talk.
“Yes.” In a sense that he spent months waiting for it, he did wait, now he became impatiently.
Shinohara sat down and ordered his coffee with as much cream and sugar as he liked, he put on a smile as he talked to the waiter but it was wiped away too soon as the waiter has gone. “Shame.” He uttered as he looked blankly across the table.
Shinohara sighed. “I haven’t had a heart to replace the secretary. I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately …..”
That was months ago, the secretary was killed by his own hands as part of a ruse. Tougane recalled she had a beautiful and innocent face but it was not how he remembered her face in her last moment that he cold-bloodily shot at her heart before he faked the evidences that she caused the leak from inside of Shinohara’s syndicate. The face was horrified of her inevitable fate as pain and death crept on her, he watched it and thought of nothing at the time. But now he started to feel disgust to think of it, in his head, she laying down at the bottom of that pile of bodies, staring back at him who was standing atop of the pile.
“What about her?”
“As I could remember about her, she was bright, intelligent and diligent … I didn’t bother to have something said twice. Lovely woman, I must have admitted, but not in the way I think of her indecently, I felt like she was my sibling or something of that sort, she knew what I like and never forgot to buy me a present, and I did the same to her …. I’ve been thinking about it. It’s a shame we couldn’t talk her to come back to us and make use of her …. Now she’s dead.” Shinohara was disheartened. “Even a traitor can be forgiven. If we had shown just how much we valued her, how important she was to us, she would understand and turn to us. Maybe we could work together again, use her to spy on her own people or relay false information. But it looks like that’s not the case, she made her mind when she ran away like a little dirty rat. Right, little brother?”
“Yes …” He reluctantly spoke. But it was not the girl that made he felt reluctant in replying. ‘Even a traitor can be forgiven ...’ He turned the words in his mind. Was that what he would be treated if he somehow revealed his true intention? Shinohara was the kind of a man who would forgive someone like him that was the snake in the grass? Tougane doubted it himself.
“What would be the price that I could buy her back? To make her allegiance mine again? If you were her, what would get back to me on my side?” Shinohara asked him.
Tougane gave a thought to it. He could not know for himself what she would decide. But if his honest answer based on his perspective put Shinohara’s mind to rest … “I don’t think anything would turn her … She’s already committed to what she believed or what the reward was offered to her. Even she came back to your embrace, one day she would find a way to run away like she has tried once.”
Of course, that did not make Shinohara happy. He nodded once, understandingly, he then sighed as the answer was clear to him.
“The bitch’s dead, you cannot do anything about it.” Tougane coldly said. “There’s no use in lamenting over the dead, I don’t think they care anymore .. Either it’s about forgiveness or vengeance.”
“I couldn’t possibly know that, but the living still do care in that regard for those lost lives …” Said Shinohara. “True in what you’ve said, it’s no use in lamenting about it. When I have the first sip of the coffee beans which are grinded with the Chemex, we shall discuss about important matters.”
It was painstaking to wait for the coffee and then wait for Shinohara to enjoy it. It was ridiculous, Tougane thought, of all things he has done, he still had to wait for the man to have his coffee …. He imagined slipping the dinner knife into his sleeve and using it to kill Shinohara once he learned what the plan was to end his deteriorating state of his mind, he could not wait for it to end. There was no patience left in him.
“I’m sorry about asking to you having you running around and doing things you don’t think they concern what I’m about to do. Much to your disbelief, a straw man like you, you’re like part of the cup trick.”
Cups and balls? Tougane of course knew what it was and what the core of it was. “Misdirection.”
“Yes, exactly.” Said Shinohara. “You running the operations that are irrelevant to the plot apart from funding have lured the chasing authority to go astray while I was able to relocate certain assets and facilities to produce the instrument to this plot.”
The ‘instrument to the plot’ was certainly the weapon he recovered once from Hong Kong and the facility in India, the biochemical weapon which was unknown to the world and had the capability of causing mass amount of casualties in a single trick. But the weapon was the only thing in the equation, the air around it was a mystery. No for how? No for why? No for when? The corrupted people in the city and his own organization trying to cover up any information regarding it accentuated more terror into this plot.
“Power changes hands all the time when one acquires the mean to achieve it and when the one in power loses the mean to protect it.” Shinohara’s eyes looked seriously into Tougane’s, there were anguish and determination that this man carried on his shoulders throughout his years. “The state I serve have long abused it, lives are lost at the hands of politicians and executives. Were you given a power to end this abomination, would end it?”
That would be something a liberator say, but hearing from someone who sold weapons to everybody whether bad or worse and was currently in the process of obliterating lives and crashing the foundation of a state, it almost made him choked on his coffee. Nevertheless, an irony was worth a laugh for Tougane any day of a week, so he did laugh and did not attempt to hide his reaction at all, because he did not think Shinohara could read his honest thought behind the laugh. “I’ve never been a freedom fighter or what the state calls them: terrorist. I don’t have any ideology driving me within-”
“But if you’re oppressed by them, you’d do, wouldn’t you? Because you would understand how terrible and painful to be exploited by them, leaving you with wounds that never heal.”
More and more, Tougane did not think Shinohara would babble this self-righteous justification to him. Would that really help him feel better when he used the weapon to kill innocent lives as part of his plan? Tougane genuinely questioned the idea silently. If Shinohara thought this justification made Tougane less abhorred about the scheme, he had the wrong man. Hypocrisy was killing Tougane as of this moment. But he said he would endure, in any way he should. “I suppose so.”
“Maybe I should consider that’s a fortune for you to not be harmed and torn apart by such scenario. But on my way here, I’ve seen many have suffered because the Academy City’s actions. Researches, experiments, the race of technology and weapon ever since the cold war erupted ….”
That was rich, coming from someone who used live subjects in weapon experiments. Tougane held the urge for rebuttal, he was here to stop the man, not debate on his ideology. Still, Tougane sensed the resentment in this.
“Like cancer, as time passes, it has gone worse and beyond the cure. If it’s a state, we’ll just have to topple in down and build it up from scratches. The governing body of the Academy City is like that cancer, as long as it is there, it’s harming every vessel of the body.” Said Shinohara. “But unlike cancer, you can’t just kill them. They’ll be replaced and as cancerous as former. You familiar with the board?”
“The board of directors? Yes.”
“They are the ones who hold the absolute authority in Academy City with only the board chairman above them. Needn’t worry about the board chairman, 12 of the board are suffice for changing the state of affairs, power are divided to 12 of them and united it would oust or force the one above them out of power.”
Though the concept was politically relatable, it was just a way to speak of a hostile take-over. As Shinohara mentioned, power changes hands frequently. There would be always the people who want to take over the current with whatever reason they stood by. The whole picture was still unclear, but there was another factor added to the equation.
Curiously, Tougane stared out across the table. In this moment was when he felt distant from the man who sat across him, months spent to learn what his plan was, still, Tougane knew so little to it. “How are you going to do that?” Those times and efforts spent with blood of too many people dripping from his hands, Tougane earned the right to ask this question, he thought to himself.
“You’ve got the stick in your hand, and of course, you can whack someone with it until the man’s death. But to get him to do what you want, you ought to know where to hit him, hit him behind his knee and he will kneel before you. The biochemical weapon you saw in the lab is that stick, the volatile and contagious weapon that would be feared once it reveals itself to the world.”
“The weapon capable of wiping out a number of population in a blink of an eye.” The coffee Tougane then sipped became a foul taste. “A disease without a cure, an inevitable death.”
“Certainly,” Shinohara sounded hooked, “that’s what this stick does.” He picked up the coffee spoon and wobbled it in front of his own face as if he was literally holding the stick. “Give them a choice that seems bad to them and a worse one, forcing them to choose in a face of desperation and fear, and they’d settle with the one that is just merely bad. You guess it, the worse one would be the scenario they face the activation of the weapon on their soil on the catastrophic level that there would be no remedy for, valuable assets to the city such as researchers and subjects will wiped out along the population of the city.”
“So it’s a ransom,” Tougane’s voice became intrigued and thrilled without himself noticing it, “but what is the price then?”
“The absolute control over Academy City.” Said Shinohara, firmly. “There are people who are going to put the city in place after the take-over, and henceforth the changes. The outcome of the activation of the weapon is going to be too devastating from them to settle with, 12 of them in the board, if they know what’s good for them, will choose to turn to me.”
Just another jealous bureaucrat attempting to overthrow the king from his throne, classic, thought Tougane. He ridiculed the idea. How came was he not surprised at this at all? He pondered. The only thing he found odd was just the lack of maniac laugh from Shinohara who in fact, right now, looked too eased to even be calculating.
“You’re really sure they’re going to kneel before you and do what you want because you threaten with an attack? Sorry if this sounds like I’m not taking you seriously, but I don’t think they negotiate that kind of deal.” Disbelievingly, Tougane spoke his mind, refusing to buy the fact it would work on any account.
“I see where you’re coming from, you’re the ex-government employee ….” Shinohara raised his voice high. “The classic ‘no negotiation with terrorists’ trope you think they abide by.” And the voice became bored.
“They actually don’t.” He gave a pause to it, leaving room for his words to articulate in Tougane’s mind. “I mean, they will try to overturn the situation for certain, that’s obvious. But when they find out they can’t and there’s nothing to do, they’ll settle for what I offer them. People at the board care about nothing but for their own benefit, if they want to continue to do so, they’ll know who to align themselves to, nothing about the Academy City is purely idealistic, it’s either political or business, and the line between two is very thin.”
And indeed, it whirled around in his mind. Would the board surrender to the offer to prevent the threat from happening? As the city of science and pioneer in that particular sphere, it house researchers and valuable subjects. The city invest a lot in human resources, they trained and they brought a lot of personnel to work for their projects, if the said attack with the weapon would decimate most of its populations if not all in a single strike, this would lead to the relapse of the city with its researches and resources in their investments stalled, funding gone into nothing with the wind. It was the equivalent of collapsing of a state’s economy.
“How soon will it begin?”
“The necessary instruments are being transport from offshore to Tokyo, we’re expecting the arrival in 5 days from now and then the coup will begin. The board will receive the threat as the demonstration of the weapon is shown to them, then they’re given with a limit of time to talk among themselves to decide what’s best to do. And we’ll shall see what’s awaiting for us.”
With lives at stake, Shinohara could still make it sound as if he was speaking of a dull business deal. Tougane could not imagine what was worse between this remorseless ‘it’s just a business’ or ‘for the greater good’ kind of attitude. Sticking around to find which was worse would get him fired from his job if it still meant anything by then.
As inquisitive as Tougane already was, he would rather play it safer as he had to go into detail. Knowing the motive was nothing useful, he needed to know how it was going to happen, asking it bluntly did not seem so bright as an idea, he figured another way to do. “So I’m done now after distracting the authority from you in the meanwhile you spent for the preparation of this or there’s more for me to do?” Sitting before Shinohara, he appeared as just a loyal servant who would follow his master to the end the road with no doubt or defiance against the action, that was what Shinohara wanted to believe and that was what he wanted Shinohara to believe.
Quietly, Shinohara read into Tougane who has been a servant to him, there was obliviously a questioning attitude as the silent stare lasted but after he seemed sure on his resolve.
“Are you sure you want to be on board with this matter? Sure, you’re no strangers in the business that revolves around taking lives, but this time is rather different.” Although Shinohara did not specify how different it was, Tougane understood well.
“Since when you think of me as man who is held back by morals? If this is what will bring a great fortune to us, I’ll follow you into the deepest of valley. I’ve already committed myself into working with you.” It was ambitious of himself, or another self Tougane took on, but in truth, it was not the kind of ambition that Shinohara perceived as it seemed to be. Not a thrive as this was business, but truly the eagerness in his mission to stop the man once and for all. “What do I need to do? Where do I come in this plan?”
Pleased to hear, a grim smile ensured the satisfaction, it appeared on Shinohara’s face. “The plan is almost set in motion … The devices will be transported to the planned strategic locations all over the city that deal the most damage possible, one of the device would be transported to the biological study research facility for demonstration of the threat, it will be activated there but since the facility is equipped to contain the situation whereas pathogen can leak, the facility will contain itself and prevent the outbreak. Words will get to the board and the board alone will be the only ones who hear about this to avoid the public panic, they will receive the offer they can’t refuse, eventually they won’t be able to. To aid this, the air defense against ballistic missile facilities surrounding Academy City will be attacked and seized prior to the transportation of the weapon devices, this will distract them from what the attack is really coming from as it gives the notion that the attack comes in the threat that has to do with the take-over of the facilities, the forces will be drawn to these facilities, leaving the city itself vulnerable to the attack from within. But there’s something I need it to be done, something that will apply more pressure in the moment that the members of the board have to decide.”
“What is that?”
“There’s one security advisor, Kousaka, an apt man as these board members see him. I have no doubt in the face of threat I thrust upon them, they will reach out to him for help. The problem is that the man himself is actually quite intelligent in this sort and he is charge of a black-ops paramilitary force, there is a chance he becomes problematic to our plan, nipping something in the bud is much wiser than to wait and see if he becomes our problem. Without him, the members of the board will become even more desperate as they are left to deal with the threat.”
“I take that you want me to kill him.”
“Then you heard nothing wrong. Though it could be tricky, he’s very cautious.”
“I’ll have that arranged.”
“I expect nonetheless from you, Shuji-kun.” Shinohara said, grimly. “But until then, I suggest we have a blast with our stay here until tomorrow before work comes in. Don’t you think?”2016 hours
This was one time that alcohol did not calm his nerve, it was not the tipsy feeling after drinking at least two or three glasses of anything strong enough that gave the feeling of wanting to stay up wanting to party, it was nausea from nervous. After some time, thoughts have settled and risks calculated, Tougane realized the situation may be out of his hands, he doubted himself if he could succeed. That never happened before, questioning himself despite even everything was crystal clear to him or so he thought. Maybe he was losing his cool, he presumed, after the long walk in this path he guessed it was possible. The other times in the past, he knew it was just his life that was going to be lost if he had failed, but this time, those lives he took on the way to be here would be in vain if he failed. It did not take the moment when it happened before his eyes to make him feel the torment in his mind, just now he could feel it already creeping up on him. Not even the pretty woman in the silk cream backless dress that revealed her cleavage who sat in front of him could distract him from that thought.
Loud noise, scent of sweat, smoke and fear in this lounge casino in the VIP section depicted it well how half of his life and whole of what he did for a living and as a duty was about, all skills and efforts put into account for, in the end it was still a gamble, he had a feeling that he would win, but that often was a feeling that someone who loses all he had before his lap got in the moment he placed his bet. He now knew how the weapon came into the play, how the plan will be executed and for what purpose the plot was about. There was still something that was oblivious to him, who were behind Shinohara, the people would come in if the coup was a success. But things like the location that the device would be detonated upon and where the weapons were and how many of them, Tougane had in mind what to do about them or even stop them. The very reasons Shinohara did not exactly told Tougane about it was either a slight of distrust or that he thought it was not important for Tougane to know at all, still, things like that Tougane could find out himself, he was not the brightest but he did not take himself as someone too thick in the head to be able to figure that out. But before he executed anything, it would be better to inform his boss, Tsushio, after his flight to Tokyo tomorrow before he took any action.
The golden-colored of mixture between gin and vermouths, sweet and bitter, in the champagne goblet reflected to the dim candle lit on the small table, his golden holy water was trembling on the surface as he stared into the glass and raised it up to drink.
“You look a little shaken, are you alright?” It was the lovely familiar voice he recognized from someone that was not his but could mistakenly felt so as he did sometime in the intimate and fragile moment. Rie was brought along so Shinohara could spend time with her when he was not busy plotting his domination on Academy City, it sounded a nice treatment from a husband to a wife, but from the look of it, she was tired of this pretense she put on, the dear face looking at him was telling him she would run away any moment given with him but it was Tougane who told her to stay put and wait until this was over. She deserved it, he knew, she played her part and helped Tougane with a few little things, but he still needed to remain as she was until this was finally over.
“I’m nervous.” Tougane was frank as he looked at and admitted to her before he put the champagne goblet down and looked out at Shinohara and a certain Russian man who were playing roulette at the table further away from himself, if he had to guess, who the Russian man was, his first guess would likely be GRU, which would trouble his mind greatly.
“Strange,” Rie sounded surprised, “I didn’t take you as the man who would admit such things.”
Did he use to look much invulnerable in before? Tougane started to forget how it was. If he looked better than a mess he felt he was right now, it would be before he murdered his friend. From then on out was a downhill slide, and the feeling of the fall that was throbbing around his heart was endless, he never reached the bottom yet, but as falling down was killing him as much. The mission was an added weight the dragged him down along with the weight of his own.
“There’s an update in situation, it’s becoming slightly stressful.” Tougane put it mildly. “I learned what I need from him.”
“What is it?”
“I think you’d rather not know it.”
“If that’s what you say …” Rie acknowledged, her thoughtful face was evident. “So it’s over now? We can get away out of this … finally?” There was light in her face, no coldness, no calculation, just lustrous cheer in her eyes. Hearing what he said might have made her feel hopeful.
But then he regretted for misleading her, he saw the face of disappointment before he was going to make hers look so. “Afraid not.” He said lamely. “We still need to stay put until this is all over, but the good news is it’ll only be days we’ll have to wait.”
That light in her face went off like the switched was flicked and the awe and woe came as she frowned upon. “I can’t even sleep next to him even a day more … After months he had been gone, I thought I got rid of it, now it’s coming back, that feeling … The ignorance I had, I had a glimpse of an idea but I never really tried to know until that day I went into his office … It feels like my fault I did nothing about it even after I know the truth …”
“It’s not your fault There’s nothing you can do about it.” He tried to calm her. “I need you to do something for me now.”
“Of course, that’s reason you have me then and now.” Sarcastically said, then her arms flinched angrily away as he reached for.
“Rie,” Tougane said impatiently, “this is important.” He gave her the look that he first gave her months ago as he comforted her, the look which noticed all the burden and worries she bore even if he genuinely felt sympathetic for her or not. “I need you to do this so we can be free from this bloody ordeal …”
Rie looked away but loosened her then tensed arms, she calmed down and looked apologetically. “Of course … I’d do anything for you.”
Finally, he thought it was time to get down to business. Tougane reached down the hip pocket of his blue suit he wore for usual ensemble. The hand came out of the pocket with a small vial that contained a colorless liquid, it was also tasteless and without smell. “This will put him into sleep for 4-5 hours, he had enough drinks so it will seem that it’s because of the drink, to ensure he won’t be awake during the time this drug is in effect.” Before giving the girl a wrong idea, he quickly continued. “You see the man in a dark suit standing by your husband at the roulette table?”
She took a quick glance. “Yes.”
“He’s a Russian high-ranking officer, I’ve seen him around with your husband since afternoon. I don’t know exactly why he’s here, but since the motherland is dying, my guess is that he’s offering something that belongs to Soviet to your husband.” He laid it out before her. “I happened to notice there’s a messenger boy from the military, attaché case cuffed to his hand as he was transporting the documents. He left it at the lobby and then your husband took it. I assume it’s sitting the safe now. I don’t know if I’ll still get a chance to see it if we go back to stateside. In the past, I never seemed to find any document regarding the matter I wanted to know in his office, he was careful then. But now, since there is a chance, we should try.”
“How can I get the password? It’s not like he ever tried to tell me that kind of thing.”
“His birthday, your birthday …. Ask him to put something you think belong to be in the safe, take a peek at his password as he is busy with it.”
“I’ll try.” She voiced with a non-committal phrase. But she knew he was expecting more than just trying from her.2334 hours
Late into the night, Tougane was still awake in the wake of something. The bed was still tidy and out of any crease as he refused to lay down and lie asleep into the night. He sat at the small woven chair with a glass coffee table by him, on it laid the clear-looking but strong drink in the bottle: vodka, a shot glass and then a loaded Walther PPK, the latter was from paranoia and the formers were supposed to suppress.
The light knock came on the door, surely he remembered he called no room service. Instinctively, the gun was already in his hand, behind his back, as he went to answer the door.
After seeing who it was, although he should have known better already, he lowered the hand with the gun by his side and put a satisfied smile on his face. “Something keeps you up at night, Rie?”
“If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought you were happy to see me. But all you really want is the bloody parcel.” The woman in the silk sweaty dress pushed the brown parcel into his hand.
“Ridiculous.” He rejected. “The parcel alone doesn’t excite me this much.”
“Sometimes I really wonder who you really are. I caught a glimpse a few times, but when you want something from me, you put up that smile and look caring for me …. And I can’t tell if you’re pretending or not. I really need to know if you actually do care or not …” Although the tone was emotionless, it was full of it, actually. “It scared the hell out of me when I tried to get the parcel out for you. I wondered if I got caught, what would happened. You know I’d do anything you ask. But seeing you all carved in smile right now after I faced fear, I really started to get a sense how dangerous you could be, you’ve come into to our lives, mine and his, you’d do anything to accomplish your mission. I shouldn’t be doing this with you, should I?”
“You shouldn’t, but you are doing this.” Replied Tougane. “I shouldn’t care about you when I’m using you. But I do.” Without other words to say, he admitted as it was. “I’m sorry, it’s necessary, I’d do it again if I had to, but I want you to know I’m sorry for asking you to go through what you don’t want to.”
To him, it was just a bloody parcel, he did not think much of it. Just now he noticed sweat marks that soaked in her dress, god … He realized what it could be for her, he did not think ahead he put her through that, he just used her.
“That’s all I want to hear.” She turned away and readied to leave.
“Wait.” said Tougane. Their eyes met and were drawn to each other. “Don’t you want to come inside, in case you’re thirsty or you want to talk things through? It’ll be several hours before he gets up.”
Irresistibly, she shook her head sideways and pouted before walking toward the opened door.Day 103
The brief flash and its shutter noise kept Rie from falling asleep, as restless as she was, she rose up from under the sheet. It appeared Tougane was taking photos of the documents she brought to him.
Rie had not taken a peak into the parcel itself when she stole it, but now that the curiosity got her, she asked, “What’s in the parcel?”
Tougane lowered the camera down and turned to her. “You really want to know?”
“I don’t think it could be any worse to know what my husband is actually up to.” Nonchalantly spoken as she was getting dressed up.
“The list of weapons and the schematic of a submarine he’s buying off from the Russian.” Tougane casually spoke. “Your husband sort of business.” Tougane did not think she would really care, but for the ease of her mind, he would rather skip the reason why Shinohara was buying these weapons or what purpose he would use them for. Also, he did not know how she would feel if he told here that inside the parcel, there was also a strategic map marked with dirty weapon devices across the Academy City which would ensure to decimate every population living within the walls, it was better not to let her know, thought Tougane.
“I see.” A blank look in her eyes, there was no desire to inquire more. She silently went to put her heels on.
“You needn’t worry about it. I think I know enough to finish this.” He put the camera away and embraced her from her back. “It’ll be over soon.” He said into her ear.
“Oh, yeah.” She faintly murmured. “And then what?”
“What I promise you, nothing from the outcome of the situation will affect you and your son. I’ll take care of it.” He said. “Then we’ll move down to Kyushu, I guess.”
She dully giggled. “Really? I don’t think you’ll like it.”
“Well, it’s hot down there .. But I’ve been to much worse places, I wouldn’t mind it if that’s what you want.”
“I didn’t mean that.” Said Rie, flatly. “I don’t take you as the kind of man who will be able to live with a quiet life, it seems you are best for what you do now …” The soft cheek brushed on his face as she turned her face around.
“I’m done, I’m tired … I just don’t want to think about this kind of thing anymore. After this, I want to go away and live quietly. I’ll have the rest of my life to find out if it works.” He admitted to her with all honesty he had, a rare occurrence he ever had a chance to do for the life he led. “But first of all, I have to finish this.”
“I see.” Short and brief acknowledgement, she understood what he meant. “I know you’ll handle everything.”
“You think I’m that good?”
“You seem to be.” She answered indifferently. “And because of that, I won’t be worried in the meanwhile. I’ll wait for you.”
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
- Chapter 19: Burning fuse:
- Day 103
A certain safer house;
Accounting for the fuel of his transport and his own sort of ‘fuel’ he has taken before, during and after the long drive with Aston Martin V8 Volantage Shinohara gifted him as a present, Tougane was sure it was enough to get him to where he should be. There was four days left before the plot would commence, he was dying to take an action but the risk was over his head and far too more than he could operate on his own discretion.
Tougane looked to be waiting patiently in the concreted room in dull grey of this safe house, crossing his legs on the table which laid with printed photos of the documents he asked Rie to steal for him and then return after he was finished with them. But on the inside, he was itching as he waited to make a move. Franz took a notice of it, but for the boy himself, he felt nothing.
The clerk of this safe house would call Tougane’s office as soon as one of the aliases and codes were used to activate the safe house, it was a specific set that would be directed to Tsushio. Thirty minutes was it took for Tsushio to be driven to this place from the main office at the outskirt of Tokyo.
The door was finally opened, hurriedly. Franz diverted his gaze sharply at the door, but for Tougane, it was the recently-settled suspense that his eyes became drawn to the door. Coming through the door was Tsushio, alone, looking like he left the office in a rush at night after a long day as the wrinkles on his charcoal suit suggested.
“Good evening, sir.” Tougane did not forget the respect he had for the man even the absence for months.
“Evening, Tougane. You look like hell …. When was the last time you had a good sleep?” Tsushio sternly said but they both knew that was as much he would show despite what he actually felt. Tsushio scanned the room and noticed another presence, a young foreign boy which was given off by his brown skin, he eyed and gave a dubious glare.
“That’s Franz, sir. He’s my asset, I employ him, he’s trustworthy.” Said Tougane as he caught Tsushio’s glare.
The dubious glare died down and became accepting. “I’m Tsushio Hisashi, I’m your employer’s friend.” Tsushio set his bag down and took a chair nearby Tougane to sit. Tsushio nostalgically looked at Tougane. “Kind of reminds me of our old time, you running your own crew. What’s next then? You taking my job?” He said playfully.
“I wouldn’t consider that, sir.” Replied Tougane. “Desk job isn’t my thing.”
“I’d love to catch up with you and all, but I hear there’s a recent update in our situation, and I suggest we should get into that first.”
“I agree, sir.” Tougane became focused and recalled the detail in one instance. “Shinohara is planning to use the weapon we recovered 5 months ago to strike at Academy City, as you know its capability, it’s going to decimate every live within the walls. The weapon is the instrument to his plan, the coup de tat, he will use the weapon to threaten the members of the board to turn them on his side in the hostile take-over.”
Tsushio listened carefully and there was no sign of surprise, the said scenario was what he feared it would happen. “And in detail?” Tsushio inquired: “What will exactly happen? I presume you have learned of it.”
“Certainly, sir.” Said Tougane, confidently. “Shinohara will use the military contractors that the city allowed him to gather and control at will for the business purpose and the hardware he obtained from Soviet to attack and disable all three air defense against ballistic missile facilities surrounding the perimeter of the city, however, the actual attacks will strike from within, he will have the dirty bombs which spread the virus located in various points in the city itself.” Tougane laid out the photo he has taken from the strategic map he found in the parcel of Shinohara’s locker. “There is going to be an initial attack at the biological studies research facility to demonstrate the weapon, and then he’ll give the board the demands and the time limit to decide.”
Tsushio nodded, although worried, yet he was calmed. “So the attack at the facilities will be a misdirection for Academy City’s authority to believe the threat will come airborne …” He grasped the situation quickly. “Hence the location of the initial attack, it’s not going to be public, and neither the board would make it be.”
“That’s likely the scenario, sir.”
Tsushio’s hand went through the pile of printed photos before him. Stumbling upon a certain term, it caught his attention. “Electromagnetic pulse devices?” He said. “Shinohara will use these to cripple the air defense system for certain. It sounds like a proper idea, but even if the virus was to be deliver through the means of a ballistic missile, the fighter jets will take it down before it reaches the city, and there’s no way Shinohara could have set up the launching station on the land here without us knowing. As you mentioned, transporting the dirty bombs into the city is the plausible scenario, and he is only going to attack these air defense facilities to mislead us.” He commented after reading through the taken photos of the documents. “I guess the Soviet is really dying, people inside willing to sell these stuffs for Shinohara … It’s giving Shinohara an easy access to what he needs without having to attract the city’s attention if he were to steal such things from them.”
“What about the submarine, sir?” Tougane picked up the schematic and handed to Tsushio.
Tsushio looked that schematic thoughtfully, his eyes were intense as he browsed through the details on it. “It’s a Typhoon-class ballistic missile submarine, it makes sense he gets it to make the faux threat authentic, disabling the air defense facilities and having the submarine readying to launch the missile against the city. To launch, it would have to enter the Tokyo bay, as close as it can get to the city, to exceed the range that can be intercepted from nearby air bases. But in reality, it would never make it into our waters without the Japanese Naval Force catching it in the radar if we alert them first.”
As they were supposed to, they figured out the situation before it happened. God, what would happen if he and Tsushio did not? Thought Tougane. “By all means," he asked what he hope not .. "What if we fail, will the board surrender to the demand?” Estimating the worst outcome, he asked for an answer that he might not want to hear.
“I wouldn’t want to know that either myself. But with the people of the board, I guess they’ll do anything for the best interest they see fit. Our job is to prevent that from happening, I don’t want to think beyond that, and you shouldn’t.”
Tsushio’s eyes were drawn away from Tougane and looked outward through the window at the city view at night, contemplating for a moment, then they shifted back to the table where the details regarding the upcoming incident, gathered as much as they could, laid across.
“With three important facilities under attack on the outskirt of the city, our armed forces will be drawn to these locations, Shinohara knows that, leaving the city itself vulnerable to the attack. What we need to do is to have the forces remain in the city to intercept the dirty bombs, we may not be able to respond to the attack on the air defense facilities and fail to recover it from under siege, but that’s what Shinohara wants us to believe and we’re not going to fall for it. What about the dirty bombs themselves?”
“I checked and found the freight ship linked to Shinohara, it’s the one that likely is transporting the bomb devices. We have a chance to stop them before these dirty bombs entered the city and take down Shinohara before this plot would even commence.”
The cold and unchanged expression startled Tougane as he looked on Shinohara’s face. “No, we’re not going to stop them from entering the city or take Shinohara out.”
“Why, sir?” Tougane was baffled at the response, it left his jaw dropped and himself gnawed. But such situation was extremely risky and his superior was going to let it get to the point where it became so, Tougane was alarmed.
“All we know is that Shinohara is the one who provides the means to this plot but there are other people involved in it which are not known to us, he could not have done it himself alone, if we take out Shinohara first or prevent the plot from advancing, they’ll get spooked and scuttle away, and it’s possible he gets away again. We’re going to catch them at the moment Shinohara and his supporters declare themselves as the enemies of the state, right the moment when they make the threat and force the board to take their demands, that’s when they commit and take the step beyond going back.” Tougane was certain Tsushio was serious about this from the look and the tone of his, he never questioned the man before, but this time, the risk left him unhinged. “Let the devices breach through the city, but find the means to prevent them from going off prior to that. It’s safer if we can recover them once they presume the plan is motion, if we attempt to take over them while they’re still in their possession, there’s a chance they’ll go drastic with their decision and what could have happened in Hong Kong will happen.”
“I think that comes with a risk, sir.”
“If we want to stop this once and for all, we’ll have to let it happen, the demonstration attack at the bio research facility, the threat, the bombs to be transported into the city; we have to strike at Shinohara at the moment he goes all in because that is how we’re going to get him without letting him slipping away. The people behind this plot will show their color, for instance, they won’t even be in the city on that day in case things go wrong. If we want to stop this, we’ll have to pull all the roots off the ground. If we just take out Shinohara, the men who support him will find another man to do the job, to create and instigate a new plot. This is the only way.” Firmly said, it was the resolute of Tsushio.
As how ugly the situation actually looked and the risk posed, Tougane knew what Tsushio suggested to be true, they both have taken a dangerous step get closer to the goal ever since the beginning of this, bodies and bloodshed, this was another step for him to take even he felt it was near the limit. There was always risk, and he knew he should never let it stop him from doing something. He had to put an end to all those involved in this plot.
“Yes, sir.” Tougane answered, although reluctantly. “I’ll be on it.” Almost forgetting something, he felt he was suddenly reminded of it. “By the way, sir … You don’t happen to know the term of ‘PARAGON’, do you? I’ve heard it in one of the meetings with Shinohara’s people.”
Tsushio looked confused for a moment, “Sorry, I have no clue.”
“That’s alright, sir.” Tougane glanced at the boy who listened silently throughout the conversation, Franz then knew they had to move, both got up and readied up to leave.
“Tougane,” Said Tsushio, “I’m sorry about what happened to Fujiwara. But both of us know it had to be that way because he chose wrong, we wouldn’t be here if things had gone his way.”
“I understand that.” The reply came out short and non-committal. Tougane nodded at Tsushio with the remorseful face after he was struck with a reminder of something he did not want to bother, as a silent bid of farewell in the lack of more words he could supply.Day 105
Downtown district, Academy City
The white tile plate had a decent chunk of Kobe tenderloin roasted brown with crusty-looking trimming on its edge and sprinkled with minced black pepper and salt, decorated with two shoots of asparaguses, the size of the plate which had enormous space for the chunk of meat suggested the excessive flamboyance of the culinary arts. The clean stainless fork stabbed at the end of the piece of meat and the sharp and thin steak knife sliced the piece off back and forth meticulously. The inside of the piece of meat was pale pink as it was grilled medium-rare. The fork lifted off to deliver the taste of beef of a cow carefully fed with beer-fermented grasses as Kobe beef is known for.
The man with appetite looked at the meal under the dim orange light of the restaurant he was alone in, he took a bite of the piece and was satisfied with the taste for the worthy price. For the look of him, properly suited in a suit and probably tailored which gave off that he was no subordinate-type, he made enough to earn this plate without costing him an arm and a leg. And from the age, he has been doing the work he does for a living for quite some time.
The man took a nonchalant look out through the window he was sitting by, he was relief by the sight of night sky and lively lit streets and building. Unbeknownst to him, from the third floor of the small but glamorous restaurant the man was enjoying his dish in and across the street behind the dark-tinted glass pane on a building that had a sight on him, the center of the crosshair was over the man’s head, it only swayed a little as the person who took aim had not taken the decision to fire yet. And unfortunately, the man was unknowingly enjoying his last supper.
Behind the dark-tinted glass of the building set across the target, on the table that has been pushed against the glass pane, there improperly sat a young boy, Franz, on the plain and cheap looking table, with a sniper rifle in his hands. Franz’s left knee was up to support the sniper rifle like bipod and the right leg crossed under, it was the position the boy was comfortably able to shoot.
The lifeless and emotionless expression showed nothing, but the tapping trigger finger by the trigger guard impatiently told Tougane the boy could not wait.
In contrast to the restaurant which was lit in the place with appealing orange lighting, they were in the almost dark and empty room under construction left by the workers in night time. They snuck into the place and used it as a vantage point.
Across the street and the restaurant which should normally be closed at this hour in the night, was his target, Kousaga, a security advisor to the board of Academy City. Tougane was tasked to terminate the man to provide convenience to the plot.
The binocular in Tougane’s hand was lifted again to take a look of the man he had to kill, through the glass pane, the sight was appropriately aligned, and there was the shot as Tougane expected.
But yet, he has not ordered the boy to fire.
“What are we waiting for?” With an eye on track with the scope and the target for some time, and without an explanation or a further order than ‘be ready in the position’, Franz began to grow tired of waiting. He eventually lifted his face off the scope and turned toward Tougane.
“It’s rather rude to interrupt a man during his feast, don’t you think?” That was the reply Tougane gave out of the blue for Franz himself. Tougane then turned his eyes away and back at the target. “I wouldn’t want to do something I don’t like to the others if I don’t want it to happen to myself ….”
“Since when do you care about such a petty thing?” Franz bluntly asked, although he was not clueless to see Tougane was merely stalling for whatever discomforting reason it was, he did not bother to hide but neither to tell. “You know, you’re one hell of an obstinate fellow I ever meet, even for an adult ….” Franz was low-keyed in his voice.
“Sorry?” Following the sluggish snort was his simple one word for the lack of grasping in what the boy meant.
“Nobody seems to care when they opened fire at my parents when we were eating … I think it’s ridiculous that you somehow started to care about the man having his meal. Tell me it’s not that fact he’s eating that causes you to wait ….”
“As a matter of fact, I once shot a man during his meal, he was dead before he fell onto the plate of ugly something he was having … Ever since, food never taste the same as they used to. I feel paranoid in the moment I am supposed to let go and enjoy what’s in front of me, I’m worried about meeting the same fate because it’s the kind of moment I let my focus go and my guard down … But no, it’s not why I haven’t asked you to fire, maybe it partially was the reason ... But I’d never truly know it myself.” His hands became heavy, as weight brought them down, he put away the binocular. The air around him felt stale, he felt exhausted, the tiredness was always there but it was if he just chose to accept it now whether unwillingly or not. The body leaned on the glass pane, his eyes blinked once but rather like a flinch of his eyelids, Tougane sighed heavily from his throat.
The boy saw it, he understandingly shook his head once and turned his eye back behind the sniper scope. “I’m all ears.” Franz said as he lent some of his attention to the current situation. Kousaga was still in amidst of eating the steak halfway.
“Do you ever think of someone you killed or about to kill, Franz?”
“No, I don’t.” The boy heartlessly proclaimed. “Why would I bother to? This is what I’ve been doing ever since I was got caught in the crossfire, they always have a reason to be at the end of the barrel, I’m pulling the trigger that someone else besides me would either do.” The pause then came shortly. “Do you?” He turned the question on Tougane himself in this turn.
“I mean … I usually don’t, ever since I started off in a similar part like yours.” Tougane sourly said. “I know I have to kill as many as I am tasked to, I understand it’s the nature of this side of the world I’m living. It’s easy, especially when those people staring down at the barrel of my gun were the living, breathing rotten and decadences, I barely hesitated if not at all, that kind of justified the bad business I got myself to involve in. I was accepted to the job because I had no moral intervention in what I had to do, I was welcomed to this side of world, actually. I had the conviction to do what was necessary. I’d kill anyone who stands in the way between me and my mission because I believe the mission is what’s important. 5 months, I drove a dump truck over some shanty town in Hong Kong during a pursuit, I still remember the crunchy sound it made when I rode it, it could have run over a dozen of people, more or less, and I felt nothing about it at the time. Shortly after, to force a man to cooperate with me, I slowly slaughtered his friends and colleagues in front of him to get him to do what I wanted. I, then murdered some girl to frame her as a patsy. I sent off people in the same profession as I am, good people who worked and served a cause, to death, to provide convenience in my own scheme. All of those lives standing in the way and I chose to take them, because I value my mission more. There’s always a threat, people would die, someone would suffer somehow, I’m always given with a mission to prevent it from happening. The mission asks me to go to the extreme of every limit I would be bounded by, I always go or at least try to go beyond that. But when it asked me to kill the friend who meant something to me, someone who went beyond the necessity and risked his life to save me so I would be still alive and well as I am now, I felt I should have stopped, but I didn’t, I killed him right away, he was in the way only because of his different belief, he’s not even bad or evil by his nature, he just chose a different path … There’s the reason, there’s the justification … but all that, it doesn’t stop the bad feeling I’m having. I have always been a violent man. I've taken on a life that requires it. I hurt people. I kill people. And each time I do, in that moment, another part of me dies along with them, I just didn’t know it yet until I killed my dear friend. It took someone close and something personal for me to understand the harsh truth. I’m a bad man and I accepted it, I’m always a survivor out of any circumstance. I’m the kind of necessary evil fed into the system of this world embroiled with conflicts and bloodsheds, because supposedly I should not feel something that would cloud my decision in a face of threat. Unimaginably to me, guilt devours me like hell when I did something I felt I should have not. I was supposed to feel nothing afterward but then I do and I don’t want to. I’ve come to the point where I wonder that monster goes. Why gave back my humanity just now, even a shard of it ….”
The light tremble under his voice and the heavy tone made Franz curled up his eyebrows. The eye maybe on the crosshair and the man, but Franz was slightly distracted.
“You see, the man in the crosshair you aim at. He’s not a bad man, but we’re only going to kill him because it’s part of Shinohara plan and to ensure everything goes in the way I and my employer can predict … I didn’t even bring the subject of having to kill this man up during the brief with my employer, and you know what he would say if I had, ‘Do it, go ahead’, just like that. He was essentially the same kind of a man as I am but only he sits behind the desk and does politics. I checked the routines of this Kousaka-guy, what he does, where goes normally. There were plenty of chances to kill him yesterday, but yet I waited because I didn’t want to see the horror in his wife’s face when I would put a bullet in his face or leave the lifeless body of his which were strangled to death by a plastic hanger on the floor. I thought that’s why I waited until today, now he’s alone by himself due to the unnecessary efforts I have spent with the arrangements to have the luxury of assassinating him in this very quiet moment, I still feel I couldn’t pull the trigger. Then I realized I failed to maintain. I know I will eventually get over it soon in a few seconds and get on with it. But it worries me still. Tomorrow what will I have to do? Will the stake be even higher? Will the price I have to pay be even higher? I wonder if by then I don’t have what it takes to do what’s necessary anymore. With all honesty, which sounds ironic for a man who frequently lies, I must have admitted I’ve come to be afraid.”
Tougane looked at the boy, he thought about the beginning and the end and what he has come to. The boy was standing on the other side of the circle not far from the beginning whilst he was near at the end. But the time was still right and there was not done too far on the boy, he entrusted him to take the torch and carried on.
“There’s one truth you should know. I never see you as a person, but rather a fraction of myself, or rather what I used to be. In you, I see someone who’s ready to take on the world and do which he’s tasked to without any emotional burdens and hesitation. I need to know that I’m not wrong about you. Because no matter what happens from now on, either I die or I fail, you’ll do which I or my employer tasks you to, unquestioningly, to put an end to Shinohara’s plan. You’ll be rewarded with what you asked for, certainly. This is all I ask for the debt you think you owe it to me for buying you off from the death. After hearing this, will you pull the trigger like nothing has changed your mind?”
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
- Chapter 20: A change of heart:
- Day 106
Dr Moreau’s office, suburban of Tokyo
The salmon pink frilly curtain was left closed since during the day, even now was already nightfall, because Lea despised the look outside where there was just a jammed-packed stack of buildings across the road, nothing for her to see like there was for her office back in Paris. The curtain itself looked gorgeous in its appearance and when the light of day came through but it was rough and uncomfortable to touch upon, it was tickling her fingers when she parted it to take a look outside the large window of her office, since earlier she heard the hum of the engine amidst of early spring rain the middle of the night. There was a sport car parking there in front of the building with its headlights now shut, she did not recognize it before, it was too dark for her to make anything out of that car, either it was license plate or its color. While she was growing curious if the owner of the car was someone who was coming to see her or not, the slow creak of the door came curtly without a ring of the bell.
“I haven’t cancelled the appointment properly, have I?” Tougane was standing at the door, his head and face drenching wet, water drops dripping down from his trench coat. Without asking still, he was waiting for her approval for him to allow him in.
“You haven’t. But I have almost given up that period of time for someone else’s session.” Said Lea resentfully at her first glance at him. The changes were noticeable on the outside, always the case for him: clothes, cars and what not, yet the man was a terrible mess himself. He was the man who only cared to project himself on the outside. “Nice ride though; gone for such a short time and now you came in a ride that looks decent than last time, at least on the outside. I suppose car is a man’s pride, one ought to have a match for himself. Right?” She responded her own urge of picking on it.
“That’s Aston Martin V8 Voltage Volante ’86.”
“And I don’t suppose a government employee could afford such an expensive car.”
“I don’t.” Said Tougane. “It’s gifted to me, and for how nice it looks, I don’t think I deserve it.” Much to her expectation, he instead looked shameful to even talk about it as evident by the lack of cheer on his face.
Before the silence fell, Lea dismissed it and gestured him in. “Leave the coat on the rack. Go ahead, come in, I wouldn’t mind you wetting the carpet.” She went to the cabinet nearby to pick up a towel she had rolled and kept in there. He has taken a seat on the chair he always used to sit on, she came to him with the towel in her hands and began to softly rub his wet head and face.
Lea had never heard of Tougane again after the chaos back at the party, three months he has gone away without a word or an explanation about anything, everything about it was irritating for her, especially when she was left in the unknown, even worse when her worry about him was left in the state that was ambiguous for her to tell.
Behind that smile, there was a trace of exhaustion. Lea could tell Tougane looked tired more than he thought he was, it was worse than before his absence in the three months period. What happened? Was there something wrong? Part of her grew anxious to know, but another knew it that she supplied the fuel for that fire to burn when there was a spark of ignition. The cause was oblivious to her, but the means was not.
For months when Tougane came to visit her during sessions, she treated him with one of a Benzodipine-class drug without his knowledge, for the purpose of misleading him to believe he suffered mental instability from the enhancement he received from the experiment earlier. Symptoms began to surface after a period of time, rise of stress level, aggression and impulsivity, the hint of his worsening condition spiked up high during her confrontation with him last time where he suspected her for something she was not aware of. Her task would be completed the moment the condition was beyond ignorance. And in return for that task, she would be provided with ‘convenience’ in the process of the trial regarding the death of her former patient.
But his absence created a problem, he chronically treated with the drug to the point he could have developed dependence towards it, the period without a dose could cause the withdrawal effect. As psychoactive drug as it was, he had a potential of manifesting serious psychiatric and medical conditions, such as mania, schizophrenia, and seizure disorders.
It would not be a problem if she intended to follow her given task to the fullest, but now she was having reluctance eating her heart inside out.
Was it really necessary?
“I think it’s already dry now, thank you.” Tougane brushed her aside, his eyes were not on her, his tone was callous and abrupt despite his choice of words. She felt disconnected to him.
“Oh …..” Lea slowly moved her hands off and backed away, retreating to her seat opposite him. “So …” After all this time he was gone, it made her wonder … “Why did you come?”
The face became still, not a muscle moved. Was he thinking? And the cheeks pulled back and his voice slipped through the lip. “You were right.”
“So you’ve admitted?”
“Yes.” Tougane apologetically said. “I’ve come here with a hope to find the ease of mind, I’m afraid I have very little time left, so before anything happens, I came here.”
“Then we shall not waste time …”
Among the ruins of concrete and zinc plates which belonged to what used to be a shanty town under the dark red sky. The chaos arose as screams of pain and smell of death were everywhere in the vicinity. Every structure, shelter, homes to the poor, it was run down, mowed down to the ground, to nothing but crumbles. People scattered and scuttled in panic, corpses were either mauled to pulps or mutilated into pieces after what seemed to be an unstoppable force crashing into them.
Lea walked through the ruin, from the outskirt to the deep center, where it looked like the ground zero. She has seen much on the way but what finally awaited there was different.
The area was vast, the land she walked on has ended, beyond that was a lake filled with the crimson water which made it look like a pool of blood and surrounded by jungle of ruins on the outer rims she had walked past, at the heart of it there were a boy kneeling afloat on the surface and by a chunk of metallic wreckage which submerged over the water. The boy, the one she always remembered, he cried as he was trying to pull something out of the metallic wreckage.
She tried to follow the faint cry, her foot stretched from the land she stood on and stepped onto the red water, there was something beneath the blood-like water, it was muddy. At her feet was a corpse laid still, the heel pinched through the blood-soaked gown coat that was worn by the corpse soaked. Then more corpses submerged from beneath of red water, paving her a way to come across with rafts made out of dead fleshes, she trekked on those dead bodies and headed to the weeping boy.
There was a body of a man trapped in the wreckage, it was all bloodied but the boy did not let go, he was trying to pull it out of the wreckage by the motionless hand. The expression on the boy’s face was a mix of frustration and woe.
It was no use, Lea knew it but yet the boy still held onto.
“Please, Fujiwara, wake up!”
There was no response from the body, as much as the boy begged it to answer to him.
“Eh …. There’s nothing you can do now ….” Lea stammered out as her hand reach out to his shoulder.
“You’ve gotta help him, miss! He’s still stuck in there. Please!”
What should she tell him? Was there anything at all for to tell him?
The bloodied body started to slip back into the wreckage, the boy hanged on tight and did not let go, but he could not fight off the force which was of a tiger had dug its teeth onto the body of his friend and pulled away, he, too, was dragged. He was being pulled into the mouth-like gap as he held onto his friend, his arms were cut by the sharp edge of the wreckage as he pulled both himself and the body of his friend back, resisting the life out of him.
“I didn’t mean it, Fujiwara. Please, come out! I’m sorry ….”
The boy continued to bleed from his arms as the metallic edge was cutting him, further on as he endured, the arms started to tremble, the muscles tensed, the arteries bulged up, but with all of that, the grip remained tight and his legs kept pushing.
“URRGGHGHHHH!” The struggling cry persisted as the pain kept inflicting and taking toll on him.
“I didn’t want to get you killed, I’m sorry …” He wept.
She placed her arms around his, wearing him into her embrace. “Come on, let go of it ….”
“It’s too late now, don’t hold onto it.”
“Fujiwaraaaaaa!!!!” The arms left hanging in the air after they tried to hold on to something that now disappeared from his eyes in a blink of an eye. So much struggle he had put, but all has gone in just a moment.
“Come on …” She held the boy down. “It’s over now.”
“It’s my fault .. It’s my fault … my fault …” The boy was speaking on the top his breath from his tearful throat. “I got him killed.”
“It doesn’t matter, he wouldn’t mind it now.”
On the surface of cold crimson water, she was the only source of warmth the boy could seek for in his sorrow. The boy curled up in her arms.
“There must be … something … I could do … He didn’t deserve … that.” That was something the boy kept muttering as he was in denial of the present.
The survivor’s guilt, after going through something terrible and traumatic, one would find that it was his fault that all of this happened. The death of someone haunted, and the guilt tormented him still. She understood that, she has been there before.
It was not about what was right or wrong in his action, she did not come here to judge him. Not because of ethical moral of her profession, but as a person, much to her feelings, she had to pull him out of this. But how?
She stared out back to the metal jungle ruins, on the land, she saw a figure, it was hardly noticeable, but she was sure she saw it. A short, dark red figure … at end of his fingers were sharp … Claws? The eyelids slowly opened, those eyes were glowing red and gazing back her.
“Huhh!” She became struck with the unexplainable sensation … What was that? She felt the cold crept into her spine.
“Ahehe … hehehehhe …” A burst of low giggle came from afar, revealing the sharp teeth it had.
She felt the rampant tremble on her … but it was not hers.
The boy was shaking violently in her arms, uncontrollably. His eyes have gone white, he grunted out a stuttering breath.
“Oh god ….”
Then she could hear the sinister laugh clearer and clearer …
“Ahehe … ahehehee.”
“What are you …”
The dark red figure started to approach and walk across the water, the claustrophobic feeling was pushing the air out of her lungs …
And it dashed to her, the world around her faded dark before she could unleash her horrified scream …
Her arms were clutching tight with his in between, the ache was pounding on her temples, she was lightly trembling. Lea took a few more seconds to realize she has crossed back into reality and her consciousness was back. She removed the helmet-like device from his head and then hers. Her fingers clenching tight as the devices were in her hands, she lifted them above her head and threw them down on the floor behind the sofa he and she were lying on, and then she tangled herself over it and landed on the floor harshly.
“Gyaah …” She grabbed the processor unit and used it to bash the helmet devices. “Gyahhh! Gyahhh! Gyaahhh! Gyaaaahhh! Gyaahhh!” She angrily vented. “I don’t want that!!!!”
The precious technologies were broken into pieces after her anguish cry has stopped.
Still, the unconscious man was unaware of anything.
“Come on … You’ve got to do it ….” She spoke to herself. “You’ve got to know that it’s there …. Lea ….” Her hand was pouring wine into a glass faster than she became aware of. Almost full, she lifted the glass and drank it down in one. The feeling she had as the wine was flooding down her throat felt as if she had drown. Gasping heavily, she looked onto Tougane who lied unconscious.
“You know you’ve got to do it.” Lea spoke to herself.
Waking up from a restless dream, Tougane drowsily moaned as he straightened himself up on the sofa. He eyed around, looking as if he was not sure where he was.
That mortified her, but she held it back. “How are you feeling?” Lea asked him after she got herself seated across him again.
“How does it look to you?” He said.
“Confused, disorient ….” She described it as it was, avoiding the most dramatic path to speak of it.
“Then I look normal.” He winked once and looked the other way.
“But really … How are you feeling lately?”
“How honest do you want me to be?”
“If I wanted lies, I would turn on the TV or go out with my colleagues … Please, spare me those, I really want to know.”
Tougane was reluctant, he looked down and braced himself, he lifted up his face and looked straight to her. “Terrible, like hell. Not a lot, but yeah …”
“The dead is alive and I see it sometimes. Besides that, I feel under a lot of pressure all the time.”
Lea recalled the brief conversation she had with him before she put him into sleep and inspected his mind. He had told her he killed his friend with his own hands the same night she last saw him. He told her it was necessary and inevitable, his friend was standing in the way and he had to kill him. After that, he seldom saw that friend lurking around in his mind and reality time to time.
“You experience imagery disturbance?”
“Would you mind doing something for me?” She brought a leather-covered notebook from under the coffee stand, she stretched her tender arm out with the notebook and along with a fountain pen. “I want you to draw a face of cloak, I want you to think of where you are, who you are, write them all down.”
Tougane bent towards her and took the notebook and the pen, he sat back down and then asked: “Why?”
“It’s an exercise. Don’t worry.”
“Every time someone says that, I get worried myself.”
“Never mind.” Tougane pulled the leather-strapped watch from under his shirt cuff, he watched momentarily and he began to write on the blank page of the notebook.
The suspicion of the situation was already disturbing her mind, but the suspense of waiting for the confirmation was even more of a distress.
She heard a circle being drawn, lines being crossed, numbers and letters written onto the page, less than a minute, he handed back the notebook along with the pen.
She toyed with the pen in anticipation of comprehending what was before her. What she saw made her teeth gritted.
The circle was drawn but the face of the clock …. The numbers have fallen off the circle, the arms of it were not even in the right position. Although the location was right, but the rest ….
‘September 13, 1960.’ Below further written a set of Kanji which she did not know.
“Are you sure it was right?”
“Oh god … No …” She clutched the pen tight in her much to her fright. So it was happening, she became dreadful of the revelation.
The exercise she has given to do, it was to test his cognition, he got most parts wrong miserably, which she was afraid to see it happened. He really did develop the withdrawal syndrome from Benzodipine, cognitive impairment, hallucination, sensory disturbance, loss of time … It was taking place as of now … No, no … It was too late, it was happening now …
She has done what she was tasked to.. But seeing the result, it was frightening … What she had worried it would happen, happened.
She hesitated to tell him even that she made her mind, she regretted she took it this long …
“Are you okay, doctor?” He asked.
She started to notice her body became light and trembling.
“Masaru … I’m sorry …” Her voice was shaking. “I’m meant to say to you earlier … that …..’
The bell at the door rang, causing her to flinch, her heart dropped to her ankles. Tougane looked back at her dubiously. Lea put the notebook away on the coffee stand, she was not able to pry her hand open and remove the pen from her fist.
As shaking from fear as she was, she eventually rose up to answer the door. With her face turned away, the horror appeared on her face … She gasped heavily each step she took, her office was already large enough, but right now it felt like forever for her to walk to the door.
She did not want this … Not right now … Would he understand? Would he forgive her? But he still deserved to know …
The door creaked open before she even touched the door knob, her body yanked back slightly. Behind the door was a man with imposing looking, dressing typically in a suit. Who was he? Why did he come abruptly at this time? What did he want?
“Doctor Moreau?” He spoke with an accent tainted by his natural Japanese tongue. The man spoke politely with his hands behind his back.
“Is Mr Tougane there?”
Lea has not grasped the situation yet, the man already went ahead and peeked his head in to see.
“I see.” The man said. “What a lucky day for me. Don’t you think?”
The man smiled back at her, and it profoundly perplexed her in the cocktail of emotions she was having now.
His left hand came out and pushed towards her, the next thing she felt was her losing balance and fell from her feet. She made a thick thud sound as she knocked her back on the carpet floor. The man walked past her and she noticed a gun in his hand hiding behind his back, at the end of the barrel was stuck with a silencer. The man has come to kill. Him? Her? Both? She tried to crawl away but the toecap of his left shoe stomped on her and pressed her onto the ground. She held back the pain and resisted to scream.
“It’s not rather a gentlemen thing to hit a woman, don’t you agree?” Tougane calmly spoke, rising up from the chair and fearless of the threat in front of him.
The man brandished the gun and pointed toward Tougane. “That’s rich coming from you. You have hit one yourself, right?”
“Was it Macau? You two know each other?” Staring down the barrel, Tougane kept approaching the man.
“Stop right where you are.” The man gruffly said and waved his gun. “To the questions, yes.”
With hands in the air, but yet the chest puffed forward like it was asking for a spit of a bullet, “In my defense, I didn’t start, she was asking for it and I tried the safe word … Apparently it didn’t work.”
Lea, pinned on the floor by the assassin’s foot on her back, still slightly disorient after landing with her head on the floor, she turned her face up. The fear within her struck again, but this time, differently.
Tougane glanced at her with focus and intensity as he was at gunpoint, he gestured his head to the right once, she looked toward that direction and found her fountain pen lying there after it dropped off from her hand.
“You’ve come to kill me?” He spoke to the man, the assassin.
“Yes. Albeit by order from above, I was looking forward to this opportunity myself.” The assassin has yet to divert his attention on her, he was still facing Tougane.
Intending to give her a window to strike, Tougane tried to keep the assassin’s attention on him, “Why? Was it because I nearly had your girl back in Macau? I really have to admit she was great, very great.”
Her heart beating faster than a cheerleader in the locker room with her guy, she told herself to remain calm. This was not her first life-threatening situation, she would get through it again, she assured herself. She slowly reached out to the pen within the grasp and removed the cover from the tip with her thumb once she got the hold of it, gripping it tightly as she gently pulled the pen back to her.
“I heard you were suicidal, but not this suicidal. You really are asking to die. Keep it in mind who’s holding a gun before you.” Said the assassin, with the gun to keep Tougane at bay.
With a weapon in her hand, she began to calculate with the little time she had. The tip of the pen and the overall diameter of the pen’s head were incomparable to a blade. Forgetting a swing and slit, she reminded herself. If she had to strike, she had to stab to where it would really cause him an immense pain or cause him to bleed quickly, it was the only way to stop the man. Where were the mortal places on the lower half of a man’s body? Her mind explored the anatomy of human body like she was dissecting a body in her class back at the medical school. To cause a worst active bleeding, it would have to be the main artery, one which runs down on the lower half is the femoral, inside of the thigh. She only had one chance at striking, if she missed, she expected to bite a bullet, as would Tougane soon follow.
She was facing down and pinned down by the left foot, so she had to turn, with the pen in her right hand, she would push herself and the foot off her back to sideway, then she would twist up with the help of the left hand, the smoothest of the strike in one motion would be a backhand swing to the assassin’s left thigh on the inner side.
The heel of the left shoe still pinched on her back, painful to her, the force the assassin kept on her was unchanged. She needed to catch the man’s off guard when he lowered and lifted the force on her back. Lea looked toward Tougane, telling her she was readying, as much as she could be, and he noticed it.
“So, what’s the story? You come here, hold that 1911 sideway and straight up shoot us all? Not really intriguing, is it?” Tougane playfully said as he motioned him slightly, to cause the assassin to inadvertently pay more focus on him in case Tougane tried something stupid.
“Perhaps, but how I do it is my business. I can even make it look like you shot her and then yourself, that will be very easy for me.”
“How much do they pay you for this kind of job?”
“I’ll double it.”
“Hahahahaha!” The assassin teasingly gestured toward Tougane with his gun. “As much as I’d love to take the offer, I can’t take it. I’ll have much of pleasure in killing you myself.”
Tougane listlessly smirked, “What can the price of that buy? The girl’s life?”
“It’s unfortunate, she has to die too.” The assassin cold-heartedly told.
“Can I even buy a cigarette to smoke? I haven’t had the whole day … Please, a prisoner on a death row can ask for a last supper to his wish. I have a safe deposit at the anonymous vault service, there’s 10 million yen there, you can take it all for just letting me have one cigarette.”
“My man … Tell me why shan’t I shoot you now and take the key.” The assassin took aim behind the iron sight which carefully placed on Tougane’s heart.
“You will need the authorization code which I’ll only tell you after having smoked a cigarette.”
The assassin chuckled dully, “Fine, I’m going to save the girl for the last, if you trick me, she’ll get even worse than death, I can assure you that.”
“Great.” Tougane slowly opened his jacket and reach inside for his cigarette case and lighter, he lit it and smoked pleasurably it. The hand, then again, slowly reached into hip pocket for the key. He waved the antique-looking key which looked belong to the Victorian era, befitting for locking up the pricey place whether it be a mansion or a vault. “The code is ‘Elizabeth’, E-L-I-Z-A-B-E-T-H. You got that?”
“Yeah, toss me the key.”
Tougane drew his arm back but not before he winked once. The key was then thrown into the air, what seemed to be a carefree aim curved the projectile to the right flank of the assassin, the assassin bent himself onto the right and caught the key with both hands whilst still keeping the gun aimed at Tougane.
“Ehhh? Is that one of the bullshit trickeries you’ve got? What? You’re going to throw me off guard by that? What do you think of me, an amateur?” The assassin brought the hands apart, and one lifted forward with the dark piece of metal in his hand. “When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, there’s no avoiding in that.”
Tougane only looked down on his feet shamefully as the mouth gaped and let go of the cigarette which it held.
“No comeback line? Pathetic.” Said the assassin maniacally. “Then I guess …. Sweet dream, you bastard- Arrrgggghhh!”
Lea had pushed herself off the foot-hold in the moment the assassin’s balance and weight shifted onto the other foot carelessly, in one violent corkscrew of motion, she had twisted up from the floor with the right hand gripped tight of the fountain pen backhanding along in one move. The fountain pen stung like a desperate bee sting on the left of his inner thigh for the femoral, Lea’s hands felt the worsted wool of the trousers as she pushed the pen in deeper. The pen wrenched as she gave a convulsive twist and scooped out as much fleshes as she could from the wound. The assassin sprung up and backward.
The warm blood poured down all over on her face and body.
She remembered how little she had breathed during the moment it all happened, she pushed herself away from the assassin.
But the persistent assassin refused to let go of the gun, and now he aimed toward her. “You little bitch!”
She had not accounted up to this moment, the relief she longed never came. In this indecisive split/second, she froze as she stared at the end of the barrel, not knowing what to do, nothing she could do.
Following the crisp of the trigger and the fall of the hammer, the barrel would spit a bullet in her face. A muffled thud rang from the gun, but the bullet went off course to her right as the assassin was hit and crashed back by the mass of Tougane like a brick coming through a glass when he tackled with all might and no second thought. She flung away instinctively as the bullet tore through the air and bit through the wood content of her desk.
She crawled further away and gathered her concentration from nothing, she continued to lay down and pant through clenched teeth.
The assassin lay sprawled with Tougane commandeering his gun and subduing on the top of him.
“You okay?” Tougane asked her.
“Me?” Lea confusedly responded. “I’m fine ….” She quickly said it without knowing whether that was a lie or not.
“Take a deep breath, Lea, you’re in shock.” Tougane casually instructed her as he grabbed the assassin up by the collar and threw against her working desk, he turned the man’s gun onto its owner this time.
“In … shock ..?” Lea murmured. She tried to get up but her legs were without strength, she instead wobbly limped on her feet. She averted away when her eyes met with the reflection of her bloodied face and body on the glass of coffee table.
The assassin sneered even he was bleeding at the worrisome rate without his left handed pressed tight against the wound in an attempt to stop the bleeding, yet he looked more calm than either of her or Tougane was, the murderous glare was still in his eyes when he looked back at Lea.
“Tell me, was that key really the key for the safe deposit?” Despite panting throughout as he spoke, the assassin managed to appear sinister, though without the help of presence of a gun, he did not pose threat as much as before.
“No, it’s just the key to my flat, it looks fancy, doesn’t it? Had a locksmith replaced the lock, I would recommend him to you if you lived to another day.” Said Tougane cockily after he had turned the table with the help of Lea, who went beyond the line and risked her life to help both of them out of the frying pan. “Every man has a weakness, and yours seems to be greed.”
“Then I’d guess yours is the girl over there. You bargained for her life, I saw that look in your eyes when you look at her … They weren’t wrong to tell me to get you and the girl at the same time.”
Tougane looked back tensely and non-committal. “She means nothing to me.”
“Hahahah …. Darling, you hear him? You mean nothing to him.” He shouted out to her who was standing closely behind Tougane.
It did not come off as much than a pathetic attempt to agitate either him or her, but it got on and bugged her mind.
“Who are they?” Tougane pointed the suppressed 1911-model in his hand. “One fired, 6 or plus-one more to go. If you don’t tell me who they are, I’m going to dump every round into your head.”
“Oh boy, you know how it works, if my friend whom you met in Macau couldn’t tell you, I don’t think I neither can. It’s common to hire people anonymously.”
“If you don’t even try better than that, I guess you’re going to eat lead.”
The assassin smiled back like a mad man, waiting …
“No comeback? Shame …” Tougane put the gun over the assassin’s face, his finger slipped in the trigger guard.
But then gun in his hand started to shake, in fact, his whole arm, too, did. Every muscle on his arm and hand began to flinch abnormally. His head jerked and launched back, before it spread all over his body and caused him to shake violently as effect of seizure.
The sight was horrific to her. Her karma had an impeccable sense of timing!
The assassin grabbed the gun with both of his hands by its threaded silencer and pushed it away from his own face before Tougane uncontrollably fired the entire magazine into the ceiling. He twisted the gun off Tougane’s hand and kicked the man down to the ground, leaving him to continue helplessly suffering a seizure.
What the hell Should she do? The man in control of situation was lying down and looking near death. The assassin began to reload the gun in front of her, the next round coming out of the gun this time would guarantee her death.
Adrenaline flowed within thicker than blood and without much thought but raw instinct, she rushed and collided her small body against the assassin, wrestling him over the table and knocking the gun off his hand. With enough impact and propulsion and without balance, they slid across and fell off the working desk to the space behind the desk. She stopped as she landed on the floor on her face while he slid further back.
Lea recovered from the blatant pain and back on to her feet, she struggled on her shaking legs as she faced the assassin, trapping between the desk and the assassin himself. She could not imagine how fast this man could move if he were not injured by her, the man was already standing by the time she got up, with left hand pressing the wound and another drawn with a six-inch Karambit knife, a blade which curved like a fang.
"What are you going to do now, darling ... Your boyfriend has scuttled off ... Pssssht!"The man hissed and swiftly lunged at her like a snake.
Lea flinched back and evaded the strike, she closely avoided it without harm, but fright and panic had no mercy on her, there was barely left with room for thought as she stared at the karambit ready to gnaw at her like a snake fang.
The assassin was significantly slowed down but that did not mean he was not dangerous, Lea adhered to the fact. She was thinking of bailing, but the door was not within her sight, it was rather behind her, the distance was too much, she had to turn around. Should she run for the door? What if the assassin caught up with her? Should she stall and wait for a moment to trip him over before doing so? Lea tried to make out the situation. But what about Tougane? He would not make either from the lack of medical attention or the assassin ... How? How? How? Her mind ran frantically. She was not trained to handle this kind of distress, she had killed a man before but that was purely out of luck … She told herself earlier that she would make it through because after lending a hand to help, she entrusted Tougane to take over and control the situation, but who could have known if the symptom she has been inciting it would manifest just now … Who could she blame but herself …. "Damn it!!" She furiously shouted out as her anger started to kick in.
"Hahaha ... You're getting riled up, aren't you, little bitch!"
Lea backpedalled until her back hit the edge of her working desk, her hands clambered for something she could rely on.
The coarse hard cover of 'Japan politics' was at reach, Lea scraped it until it was handful in her palm by the thick ridge.
The assassin crept forward. He was dragging his wounded limp, but like a mauled animal in a fight, which would strike harder the more it was hurt. His right hand swung the Karambit with dexterity. It intimidated her.
"Such a pretty face ... What a waste."
The assassin twisted his torso and delivered a hook from his right hand for her jaw, but rather than equipped with a boxing glove, the index finger wore through the ring at butt of the Karambit, and the strike would definitely be fatal.
Lea pulled her hand back with the thick book, she reinforced her grab with another hand and raised guard before her face.
The Karambit penetrated deeply into the thick book before she could brace, the abundance force the assassin swung his strike made through the book and shivered through her, crashing her over the desk. The assassin advanced in and pinned her down with his own body and the Karambit-wielding hand while he was at it.
The only thing that saved her from being perforated was the thick book Tougane has given her, the Karambit’s force was absorbed by the layer of its pages as the blade dug into it. She could still feel the harp tip hovering over her heart as she twisted the book left and right like she was turning the wheel of a car about to crash in her attempt to disarm the assassin. But with her arms pushed back on herself, she could not fend off the overwhelming force the assassin persisted on her.
“This is as far as you will go, our time to play is over!”
The assassin further forced the knife in the book with the weight of himself pressing on her through his straightened arm, the sharp tip made its way and stabbed through the hard back cover of the book, as when she became overpowered, the blade would go into her.
But the further Karambit went, the more adhesive it became with the book.
Lea yanked the book to her right and twisted with all her strength, alike to a scenario one would turn the wheel of a car about to crash to the side violently to avoid the crash. The knife stuck in the book bent away from her chest and the arm which squeezed onto her and supported his balance folded by the joint, he lost balance and fell on her completely. But the long arm which fell toward her was now crushing on her throat and left calf, slowly suffocating her and blocking her movement from her left arm.
Lea tried to reach out her right hand to his face, to grab and pinch the assassin on his eye, but he pulled his head back and brought up his left hand to subdue her right arm. When the air started to run out, her thoughts went wild and she panicked.
“Speak up, darling! I can’t hear you.”
The teeth glared at her, his tensed and crazed eyes made her believe he would even go beyond suffocating her and bite her face off with those horrid teeth.
Her legs were flailing, her arms were pinned. And she was going. The oxygen she had in supply ran down, and she felt compelled to give up. The strength she mustered and used started to drain out, and her limbs soon became limp.
Her eyes blinked gradually in accordance with her slowing heartbeat, every blink, the picture before her began to change.
“No … Not you … Not you again ….” She faintly uttered.
The ruthless reminiscent struck, she was desperate for her life once again … Once was enough, and painful enough. And eventually she came to accept she deserved such fate for the second time …
She rested her head flat on her cheek as she was giving up all the resistance and the sight before her was Tougane laying still on the floor.
She got another one killed again, Lea lamented to herself. It was her fault, she knew it. He did not deserve to, but he would die because of her false judgmental call, a very selfish one. ‘See what your guilt has driven you to …’ She had said to Tougane with something along the line, but little she had known at the time it too, was meant for her. Had she not drugged him all along … Had she not been persisted on erasing the mark of her guilt … None of this would happen.
The last of her breath faded away, she gave in to the urge, flinching as she was choking out, her arms jerking and her legs kicking out.
The immense pressure on her neck was gone, her flattened throat inflated and air went through in her lungs.
The assassin had faltered back, two hands were pressing on the wound on his left leg. His face was paled, and he was gritting with pain.
Did she kick in the wound? The end of her right heel was dripping with blood. Her last struggle extended her with a few more seconds to breath.
What she was about to do would determine her fate.
Her eye caught the Karambit at the corner of her sight, it was left stuck in the book on the desk besides her. She seized the book into her hand and then tried to pry it out.
“Heehhh …Hehehe.” The maniac laugh shivered her and for the moment, stole the strength that panic has bestowed her, Lea was compelled to turn to that laugh by dread and panic.
The assassin looked crazed and even more dangerous the more harm he was inflicted with. "Little bitch does kick a lot, ain't it!!!?" Pain has taken toll on him but it also acted as a stimulant for madness, the look on his face went from professional to personal completely, the sanity vanished as he became utmost relentless and vicious, Lea knew what the assassin only thought: to kill her by all means and as horrible as he could. The man plunged for her like a derailing train at speed, unstable and violent, with palms open to crush and tear any of her flesh caught within.
There was nowhere for her to run, she always has done so but there was no compromise this time.
Short on her breath and fatigued, she removed the Karambit from the book but not before the assassin caught up with her, the enormous hands wrapped and gripped above her cheeks, the thumbs coiled over her eyes and gorged down on them, she could only react to protecting her fragile eyes by shutting her eyes, the nails dug on her thin eyelids.
"Gyaaaaaaah!" She grunted painfully, the pressure forced on so much that she felt her eyes would soon burst.
Lea clung the knife into her paw and without time and reluctance, 'ssht!', she hammered it out blindly. The gorging pressure stuttered and ceased but she did not. 'Ssht! Ssht! Ssht! Ssht!' The hands grabbing on her started to frail. Lea opened her sore eyes to see the assassin swaying on his legs with dark red holes punctured across his chest, gargling painfully. The body still struggled, it twitched before her as it exerted the last of strength and control the assassin had, the mouth gaped widely, panting heavily, the eyes were vindictive, the expression of his last was as if the assassin was snarling at her but no words ever came out, only squall of a dying animal. Then with a slither, the assassin fell over to the floor without further resistance to the inevitable pain and damage, he finally ceased to move even the slightest.
The tension has died down along with him. But like falling from a great height, the sensation of fright and panic still lasted, Lea was one of those people who understood how this works, but nevertheless, she could fall victim to it and became lost once everything went wrong. She has not moved her eyes from the emptiness of the wall for a few seconds that felt like eternity, in denial of the responsibility she would have to take in the aftermath.
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
- Chapter 21: Lea's retreat:
- 5 months ago .....
A phone call suddenly rang as Lea let herself slip into to the sight and sound of blizzard storming outside the window of her apartment. She walked to it and answered.
“Is Dr Moreau there?” A Feminine French voice asked her.
“Yes, this Dr Moreau.” Lea replied, she remembered the voice despite how much she wanted to forget. “What do you want Mrs Cassel?”
“Well, in the court, we have not much of time to talk openly to each other, don’t you agree?” Said Mrs Cassel.
“I think so.” Said Lea. “But I doubt there’s anything to be discuss in personal terms.”
“There is, more than you think. Things don’t go well for you in the court, and soon you’ll lose. The only advice I can give you and you wouldn’t reject is: get a new lawyer, he’s not doing any good.”
“I’m sure he’s doing his best.”
“Then don’t ask him to do the impossible. I don’t really get it, Dr Moreau, all I’ve ever asked from you is settlement money, not destruction of your career and fame. If you had agreed to pay what I asked you in the first place, we wouldn’t have to endure the long and disheartening process in the court, I’m sure you’ve made enough to pay me, but what you want is to win, which I don’t understand why …. Especially when you are the one ended up losing. If you pay me, everything will quietly go, it’s not that I’m doing this because of my love for husband to me, he’s just a money printer, although an emotional one. I don’t care what went on between you two … Please Dr Moreau, just pay me and this will be over.”
“Please think thoroughly, save us time. I’ll see you next time in the court, unless you agree to my offer. Have a good day, Dr Moreau.”
“You too, Mrs Cassel.”Day 106
Dr Moreau’s residence;
Once he felt the cold, Tougane’s consciousness came back, alarmingly, the naked body sprung up from the bathtub filled with cold water. He was dazed as there was some sore coming from inside his head. He looked around and it was a bathroom he was in. Having no recollection of the recent event or any idea how he got here, he was very confused. Although, he was not the only one who had that kind of look on the face, Lea who sat by the bathtub on a small bathing stool, too, made such an expression but with addition of shock.
The widen eyes stared blankly at him, her lip gaping slowly and lightly, “Are you … alright?”
“Yeah … You?”
“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.” Lea said, and then became relieved as she loosened her shoulders and diaphragm in the moment of anticipation.
“What happened? I remember there was someone coming to kill us … and then ….” Tougane mumbled. Lea could feel the curiosity of him turning to a coil behind that flexing forehead and eyebrows.
“We’re fine, it’s over ….” Lea brought herself closer as she still held his hand and spoke, to assure, “I ….”, but as when she had to say the word, it stuck in her throat, it felt heavy just to utter it out … “I … killed him.” From then Lea did not know where to go next, what she should say.
Tougane was astonished, but not in a good way. “I’m sorry that you have to do it … I shouldn’t have put in the situation that forced you to do it … I shouldn’t have led him to you.”
It was not his fault that Lea was forced to fight, it was hers, she brought this upon herself when she decided to drug him.
“It’s alright … It’s barely the first time.” Lea averted her regretful eyes from his as she remembered her first time and the terrible feeling she had gone through. It could have been that he has taken noticed of it, Tougane did not push on or ask anything regarding that.
“You had a mild seizure …” Lea made a sudden of change of topic. “It’s …” There came a long pause after she stuttered.
“What is it, Lea?” Tougane innocently asked.
She was dying to tell the truth but when the moment came, she felt she could not. Should she tell it? Would he forgive her? The truth was that she drugged him for so long that he became dependant on the drug without knowing, whether it was the fact he was gone away and caused the withdrawal syndrome to take place unknowingly himself or not, she was at fault for drugging him in the first place, it was even her intention at the beginning to deliberately trigger the withdrawal syndrome at some point. By the time she had grown the reluctance and the notion of stopping the act, it was too late. She could tell herself all she wanted that reluctance in executing it was her repenting it and now she did not want it to happen even it was too late, but in truth, she could not escape the fact that it was her who harmed him.
He deserved to know, Lea firmly believed. She almost told him before she was interrupted back in her office. It was hard to speak then as it was now.
She saw what she has done to him, even it was just ‘a little push’, she pushed him to the verge of destructing himself. The stress, the trauma the man accumulated became his own time-bomb, waiting to explode. But she had not accounted for one thing … She believed he was off duty and on leave as she was told, even she ran into him in that one situation that gave away clearly that he was still operating in the field, she either turned blinded or denied it. The seizure as a result of drug use, it triggered in the moment of dire, if he was still on leave, then it would not be too bad. But she saw it with her own eyes, it happened in the middle of life-threatening situation. Tougane was a man well-trained to fight in the time that asked him to, but robbed of his conscious to do so, he succumbed to the effect of the very drug Lea used on him, she almost got him and herself killed because of that. It was clear, Tougane was still caught in the dangerous business, and she had meddled in that which almost got him killed. It was not her intention at all, it was supposed to be that when it took effected and he believed it was from the ‘mutagenic enhancement’ as he was told that it possessed the potential to occur, she would observe and report, and she would accomplish her task, getting him killed was certainly not her intention.
God, maybe the psychological effects he was experiencing forced him to come to her to seek help in amidst of the situation he was having .. It could even be that it troubled and scrambled his senses that he failed to notice he was being tracked. What if he had gone somewhere else and she was not there … Would he has gotten himself killed? Even it had turned out like this, it was still luck that she prevented him from getting killed.
Now that she fully realized, it was still not even enough to atone what she should have not done, she knew it … She should tell him, she heard herself speaking in her head several times to do so.
But … in no way she could think of, no matter how she worded it, the truth was that she almost got him killed. What would be his response … Would he understand her? Would he even attempt to? Despite how close they have gotten to each other, what would guarantee it would make this okay … It would even be the very reason that enraged him. What if the truth would spark rage in him, leading him to hurt her? The thought horrified her. She remembered that gut-wrenching horror that she experienced when she looked into his eyes at the party when he threatened her, even she faked her courage back then, it brought her back to when she was a child, peeping through the creek of the door and seeing her dad hitting her mother with his own hand.
Her breath stammered in her throat pathetically like when a pig breathes, with fear, of telling the truth, of him doing what the truth would bring him to do in response …
“What’s wrong, Lea?” Said Tougane as his cold hand gently held her, to comfort her. “We can do this later, I understand how you’re feeling after what we’ve just been through. You’ve done enough … Thank you, Lea. For everything you have done.”
He cared, he really cared … Right? She doubted .. The look in the eyes, the words he spoke to her, he still cared for her. But what if he knew she was the cause of this … Would he still speak the same way, would he still look at her in the same way? What would he turn into?
“It’s alright … I’m alright, I just … I don’t know …” Said Lea as she brushed off confusion and conflicted in her. “About what happened to you earlier, it’s a psychogenic seizure that can occur during an episode. It’s very likely that it’s an effect from the mutagenic plantation you received that is sensitive to your stress level. I’ve medicated you with Diazepam, to counter the seizure.”
It was a blatant lie … It flowed from her mouth so easily, unlike the truth she wanted to tell. The drug she told she used to cure him was the very one that caused him to suffer, it was not curing, it was suppressing the withdrawal effect.
“You’re having hyperthermia earlier, so I tried to cool you down in the tub … Are you feeling better?”
Even her genuine care felt like a pretense to herself when she expressed it, she became disgusted of herself, she could not bear hearing herself speaking …
Tougane bought everything completely, he did not inquire, he did not have any look of doubt like which he had and she had seen before. He just believed her words.
Come on …. He was better than that, he should be able to tell that she was lying, it occurred to Lea in her mind. Come on! Doubt her! Do it! She heard the yell in her head.
All she had to do, was to tell him the truth, and she would not because she feared for her life, but then it tormented her for not doing so. She cared, she really did, yet she could not tell. It was hypocritical of her, she knew it ….but what could she do … She made her resolved but somehow she lost it and could not leave with her action … What good could she do for herself from now on …
Her eyes were tearful as Lea was lost in her own head. She resisted to wail, but the urge to burst her tears was killing her.
“Come on …” Tougane pulled her closer gently and wrapped his arm around her lightly. Lea rested her head on his shoulder and started to sob. “It’s okay, I understand it’s hard for you. There’s nothing wrong in crying, it’s not your fault to feel what you feel.”
Lea almost accomplished what she was tasked, she got him ill and got him to believe it. She only had to let it grow and report it, then she could claim her prize.
But that was not what she wanted now ….
Out of guilt, she did something horrible, she almost killed a man. Why was it so important to win the trial? She endeavored in any way but it was not paying off, it was as if she was destined to be entrapped with that feeling, she would not do this Tougane, drugging him, hurting him, fooling him, if she had other choice to put an end to what she thought was predicament. The death of her former patient, her lover, haunted her, the trial, the wife of his, kept reminding her she was at fault for his breakdown and death. Lea thought if she won in the court, she would have a reminder, an assurance, that she was not the one at fault. Losing in the court or surrendering to his wife’s offer was like admitting she was wrong. But how selfish of her for believing that and doing everything based on that … What if she had not been lucky and got her and Tougane killed … Why was she holding on to that guilt that she led it drive her to do bad things …
“I’m sorry …” Lea faintly said. For everything she had done, she could only say that …
“It’s alright, there’s nothing for you to be sorry for … Don’t be afraid, I’m here ….”
Lea then realized that she was not different than Tougane. She, too, let her past, her guilt, trapped her and then lived her own life with it binding her and pushing her to do things she did not want.
Lea realized now. It was not about whether she should or not, she just could bear herself to hurt him like she had done. She just could not do it anymore. For her to face the truth, she should accept it and stop running away from her guilt or denying it was not hers. Live with it, she made her resolve. She had to stop letting it controlling her. Even she could not tell him the truth because she was too afraid, but very least she could stop what was tasked to do. No mattered what, she would not hurt and lie to Tougane anymore. He did not deserve it.
Lea lifted her head and looked at him, as close she was, she could see what Tougane actually was … A man running from his guilt, doing anything to get away from it, even those things were bad, like her. She understood it.
When she accepted the fact that she may be the cause of terrible thing that happened it her past and stopped running away from it, she freed herself from the imprisonment of guilt.
But would Tougane had to do to free himself then? Lea wished to know. The best she could do was to tell him where he should look for his own way out ….
“Masaru …. You may be a decent man, more than I could ever get to know, beneath that hard shell you’re shielding yourself … Before it’s too late, I want you to know: stop letting guilt controlling you. The world made you believed it was cruel and you had to become so to survive … And you lived the life with that perspective of the world in that way, which forced you to do bad things … And eventually, one bad thing you could not live with …. You’re not heartless, you didn’t want to kill your friend. If you’re truly the worst of humanity and heartless, you wouldn’t feel bad about it and let that haunt you. But you do, and it’s not wrong. Actually, it’s not about right or wrong, it’s about living your life the way you’re happiest.”
“What do you mean …”
“Forget and move on … Living the life you’re having is not healthy for you. It’s going to destroy you at some point. I wish I can do something to stop it. I wish I can free you from the pain.”
Tougane looked back confusedly like he was caught off guard. “Why would you do that? I understand it’s your job, but we’re not bonded beyond the level of profession ….” He lamely responded. Tougane has always been the man who looked like he knew what was going on or at least had the slightest of an idea of what he was doing, but here before her, he did not look like he was comprehending what he was feeling. Vulnerable, confused, he could not hide what he felt from her as he looked into her eyes. . He always looked confident and careful when he was with her, understanding the game he was playing, that he was playing with her than actually treating her as someone, but maybe this was no longer a game to him.
“I wasn’t lying when I said ‘I don’t want to care about you, but I do.’, Masaru.” Said Lea, tearfully. “Others might see you as a strong and cruel man. But what I can see, beneath you, there is a boy who wishes for happiness … But you deny him and becomes a worse man. It’s not your fault that things turned out this way … that everyone you’ve ever loved and cared ending up dead, and you should blame yourself that you’re incapable of doing anything to help them. With all the glory, the charm, behind that smug face, you hide your guilt and sadness.”
Tougane did not deny it, even without response, it was like admitting it.
“You’re not going to get anywhere if you are still where you are …. To me you’re still that young boy robbed of his future and happy life with the ones you loved, it made you angry, it made you what you are … You wanted to become something else ... You don’t want to remember what was the life then before it was gone or what it could have been if it was not robbed … You’re so angry that you had to unleash that rage and you became addicted to it. You’re hungry for it, that catharsis … Like a hound hungers for blood that you’re turned into, the work you do needs because you fit perfectly, you’re just an angry hound they use to hunt other lives, you lurk in the shadow because you thought it was best and safest for you when in fact it damaged you more than you knew …. With all people you come across, how many of them have succeeded in stopping you from living like this? If they actually succeeded, you wouldn’t be living like this … Instead they leave you in the solitude and loneliness. You need someone to tell you to stop … to make you forget of all the bad things that are haunting you … to make you forget their influence … and to live a life with you and be there for you whenever you need … Is this the life you want? Living in shadows, hunting, being hunted, always alone…”
“I’ve never stopped to think about it …” After his word was the sound of his own wall separating himself from her crumbling down, Tougane had no clever quip nor craft to cover his exposure to her. If he had met with this feeling once, he would know how to handle it.
So … He never has.
“What if you do?” Lea asked.
Tougane slowly edged closer, “I …”, without a blink he stared into her eyes which were compassionate, “don’t know …”
The gravitational force between them pulled them closer to each other slowly, without resistance, they yield to it. Unlike the raw desire that has occurred to them before, this was emotional, Tougane trembled lightly as he was drawn to her. Was he afraid? What was he afraid of? But with all of that, he still could not refrain from going in further.
Breathing atop of each other’s breath, they were close that the only things they were seeing were one’s another’s eyes, the gate of mind they looked into passionately.
“So you’re asking me to stop?” Tougane asked.
“To forget?” He further asked.
“Yes.” Lea replied with the same weight as she answered the first.
Tougane’s lip softly brushed against her cheek and Lea flinched sensually. “Why?” He lightly spoke into her ear.
As she felt spasm when his lip rub back from the side of her cheek to the side of her own lip, Lea also felt relieved, she slowly shut her eyes and lightly jolted her head back as he continued to touch under her chin. “I just … feel like … I want .. to.”
Tougane brought his lip onto hers and they started to give in to their emotion as they were kissing and their arms were wrapping around each other like they never wanted to let go.
But Tougane pulled back and stopped abruptly, against his wish and desire. His face became worrying and serious. “We need to move. It might not be safe for us yet.”
The change of her expression in the face has made Tougane looked saddened for a moment.
“Okay …” Lea accepted the reality that they were still caught in a bad situation and things would not go as they wished for themselves.
“I’ve got someone in Ota, she can take care of you when I’m away. If they know about you, I think they might try to use you to get me, I’m sorry for that.”
“It’s okay.” Lea consoled him. “But what about you ..”
“I’ve brought this on you .. I shouldn’t have gone to you when I’m still in the middle of it… I’m being hunted because I know too much. Something is going go down, they need me out of the way … I can't quit just now, I have to continue on with what I have to do.”
“But you’re still … ill.” Lea said worriedly. “What would happen if the symptom occurred? This time you might get killed ...”
“Don’t worry, I won’t be on the field, but I still need to do something.” Tougane assured her. “Give me what I need to suppress the symptoms. Go and pack what you need now. The sooner we leave, the better. I’ll drive you to where it’s safe for you.” He then climbed out of the tub and grabbed the towel to rub himself dry.
“When will it be over?” Lea asked.
Tougane looked at her and understood that someone who has lived a normal life would be under constant stress if they were under a crisis. But as he lacked confidence in the situation himself, he found it hard to give a definite answer. If he succeeded, it might be just a few days. But if he failed, it might be forever. He had no way of knowing that they would not come after her even he was dead himself, it would be possible they would come to tie up what they thought could be a loose end.
“Soon …” Tougane said with great discomfort. “But if you don’t see me again, my friend will give what you need and help you get out of the country. Go as far as you can, leave everything behind. I’m sorry but if I fail … It has to be like that.” He avoided witnessing the disappointment in her face after telling as he went out to get dressed.
“Won’t you say ‘I’ll be back’? That’s more comforting for me if you say that …” As downhearted as she became, Lea deploringly pled.
“I wouldn’t to lie to you and keep your hope up.” Said Tougane, and sighed. “It’s better we anticipate for the worst.”
Tougane then took a notice of her gaze.
“Yes, I’m a man of little confidence.” He dryly said. “This might as well be the last time we ever see each other.”
“So?” Lea verbally admitted the air of the situation despite her protest within, she got over the false hope and had said the word.
“It was nice knowing you … Maybe it wasn’t the best time to do it. Shame, isn’t it?”
“Let’s go.” Tougane left from her sight and left her to be alone in her thoughts. He left her before she got a chance to say anything she wanted to say.
But maybe it was better this way, Lea thought. He need not another burden.
She discarded what she wanted to say to him and let it sink into the abyss of her mind, hoping she would not ever have to go there to find it again.
She gathered her conscious and concentration before moving to do what she had to do.Day 106
A certain port;
The toecaps of the military boots landed on board the freight ship, as soon as they touched the ground, they launched themselves forward to the shadow, and from shadow to shadow, the guards were unaware of a certain presence.
Franz was holding a silenced pistol and a flashlight larger than his small hands as he stood in front of one of many containers in the hull. He read the designation on the container door and confirmed it was what he was looking for. Franz settled down the duffle bag slung over his bag and carefully opened the door.
The flashlight in his hand revealed the dreadful device lying in there.
His hand swooped down and tugged the pistol in his cargo shorts before going for the radio strapped on his field suspender as he went inside to inspect the large canister containing liquid compound was held by metal frame and then had a control panel connected to it.
“Tougane, I found it.” Franz stridently spoke through the radio.
“Good.” The reply came back almost immediately. “We learned there are at least 8 of the device here, but be sure to check if there are more. I think I supplied you enough signal jammers and beacons if there are a few more.”
Franz picked up the duffle back and unpacked it, he picked a signal jammer out and strapped in under the control panel where it would be hidden from one’s sight. And then he proceeded the same with the beacon. He took a suspicious look around outside the container, making sure no one was there before he took the camera out and started taking photograph of the device for the men back at the operational room to analyze.
“Do you mind reminding me again why we are letting these dangerous devices going in the city’s perimeter? I don’t think it sounds like a good idea to me.” Said Franz as he was taking photos from an angle before moving on to another.
The static of the radio came up and then followed by Tougane’s voice. “Half of the things I have done my entire life are straight up bad ideas .. But this one isn’t actually mine, it’s Tsushio’s. To completely take down Shinohara and his associates’ operation, pulling all the roots off the ground and never letting it have a chance to grow again, we have to strike when they go all in, that’s when it’s too late for them to back out. We’re letting that happen because we can strike even a minute earlier before they make a move, we can’t spook them and make them scuttle off, leaving us at zero again. The moment everything is set and ready to attack, we’ll at least learn who those two-faced bureaucrats in Academy City involved in this plot are, they won’t be the type that dare stay in the vicinity of the attack. They’ll at least have some sort of excuse to be out of the city by the time it happens, and the execution of their plot will tie them up, it will pin the final nail to their coffin.”
“It still sounds dangerous to me.” Franz said after the last of shutter flashed, he hurriedly started to pack the stuffs and readying to move on to the next device.
“We’ll stop the payloads once they get into the city, that’s why we’re putting the jammers and the beacons on these devices. We’ll find them and take them out before they have a chance to detonate. Now that we know Shinohara plans to divert our attention to the air defense facilities surrounding the city and draw the city’s security force to these locations and away from the real attacks, we’ll inform the force and have them brace for the attacks instead of letting them go astray.”
The boy listened to it but that did not lessen his worry. But as things must go his boss’ way, he would not argue even if he could.
“Franz?” Tougane spoke up after a few seconds of silence.
“We have it under control, don’t worry. Do your part and everything will be fine.”
Although Tougane had meant it as something else, Franz took it as an order. As long as it would get him what he came here to do, he would follow it. And with no more time to waste, Franz shut the radio off and headed out to carry out his task.Day 107
Hernandez’s office in The Agency’s headquarter;
Undisclosed location, Tokyo
Hernandez spent his office hours on this leather chair, talking to people face to face or via the dial phone set in front of him. He was more than comfortable with the nature of his workplace, and what he does.
It disgusted Lea, it disgusted her when she came bashing through the door and saw the smug face that sat cowardly- from her point of view - behind the desk, handing out dirty works for other people to do which was for his own good.
"Someone has kicked an hornet's nest ..." Hernandez said as his attention was brought onto her who came in his office rudely and diverted from the other end of the line he was discussing through the phone. He looked at her and knew she had neither the patience nor the temper to wait. "I'll call you back." Hernandez hung up the phone. "What brings you here, Dr Moreau?" He said merrily. "You always pout when we meet, that makes it hard for me to guess whether it's a good news or a bad news I'm about to hear."
"I quit." Lea cut everything short and got straight to her point.
Hernandez gazed at her unbelievingly. "What do you mean you quit?"
"I'm done. I'm not doing what you ask."
"But what about the court ... The case ... "
"Damn those things. I don't care anymore."
Hernandez began to shake his head as he could not handle the rejection, there was no sign in his face that he had expected this, no back up plan, no solution to her newfound resolution. "I thought we had an agreement. You couldn't just walk away in the middle of this. It's not just about you and me, there are people who expect the definite result out of this." Hernandez sprung up from his chair whined.
Lea pointed her index finger right on his face. "There's the definite result, no means no." She indifferently said.
Hernandez's lip curled up in a mix of anger and disappointment, "There will be consequences out of your careless decision. What has gotten into you? Does he grow on you? Is it morality? We promised you a good and fortunate life that you couldn't achieve, we only asked you to fake a circumstance which benefits both of us ...."
"A circumstance that almost killed him? No, I'm not going to do it." Lea deterred.
"That's on you, not us. You are the one who chose the method."
"I accepted that it's on me." Said Lea. "But you too would go as far as I had if it got what you want! I'm not going to let you continue doing it. If you use someone else, I'll expose you."
"You got what? Nothing. Who's going to believe you?"
"The very reason you use me is because you're already under suspicion, remember? All I need is to feed some doubt. To him. To Tsushio. And you're done." Proclaimed Lea. She then turned away.
"You can't betray me, Dr Moreau, not right now! You had no idea what I have done for you!"
The low roar has shaken her slightly. But was it that fright? That fright she let it controlled her and led her to do things she now regretted. Not anymore, she remarked.
"You're free to believe whatever you want. But from now on, I want you to remember if you lay a finger on him anyhow, it'll be the end of you, I'll do things you can't imagine I can do to ensure that fate you deserve." Lea marked her threat and walked out on him without regret.
Hernandez unleashed his aggression, the aggression which was fear, the fear of not getting what he wanted. The yell came after her but she chose to leave it behind the moment she shut the door on him. The animalistic grunt and rage he expressed by destroying the appliances violently was leaking through the narrow creak of the door.
It had occurred to her before that became overwhelmed by fear at sight of a raw aggression but it was now that she learned she could stand for herself on her trembling legs to do what she should. Courage is not the absence of fear but the notion of overcoming it to protect what one holds most dear. For a while, she became proud of herself, of choosing what she would not regret.
"Goodbye, Mr Hernandez."1128 hours
Tougane’s confidence (wo)man’s hideout;
Lea has been staring at the very same which rang in the last winter and reminded her the burden. Would she be able to do it? Lea asked herself. But no, she would not let the past dragged her future down along with it. And more important than that, she would not do something she would regret, which the first thing being 'stop lying to herself'.
The hand dialed the number she did not bother to remember but she did.
“Dr Moreau? I’m surprised you’re the one who decided to call first this time.”
In the moment she heard the voice, she felt she did not know what to do, all the words she prepared – gone in this silence she dwelled in.
“So have you thought about the offer?”
And then that line has given the idea where to begin.
“I was wrong. It was me who began the affair with your husband … It was inappropriate, knowing he’s not in the position I should meddle with but yet I have. I was wrong.”
“Hahahah!” Mrs Cassel gave a happy laugh. “It took you this long to realize … Hmm …. We can make this go away quietly, and everybody gets what they want.”
In that pause, Lea was thoughtful, and hesitant. She knew what this path would bring her to. But did it really matter if it brought a few hassles for her for choosing this? This choice was the one she could live with, Lea had decided.
“I’m not paying. That’s not how your husband should be treated, especially by his own wife. I won’t let you exploit him, you did enough, and in death, you dare continue. It’s why he despises you, because you’re a greedy bitch with a pretty face. You’re not getting a dime from me.”
“What the hell is wrong with you? You know, doing that, if we still continue to fight in the court and you lose, and goes public, your career and your reputation will be done … We have a choice here to make it go away quietly. Think! Think!” Mrs Cassel had a tonal change, she started to sound rash.
“I’m simply not paying because I don’t want to give what you don’t deserve, Mrs Cassel. The amount of compensation I really have to you as the result of the court verdict is far less than what you extort me as a price for my reputation and creditability.” Said Lea firmly. “But I can live with that. I don’t think my position in French psychiatry means much where I am, if it were to, I could go and do something else. I’m just calling you to admit that I was wrong and I deserve to be punished somehow. I left my ego out of this equation; I don’t hold your husband’s death that important to me anymore. I just accept the reality … I only intend to put an end to this long struggle.”
“Hey! HEY! This isn’t what I want, Moreau! Just-”
“Goodbye to you, Mrs Cassel.”
The phone then hung up abruptly with the burst from Mrs Cassel’s throat creaking through before the phone landed softly on the cradle.
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
- Chapter 22: Day long awaited:
- Day 107
The remnant of the task force’s safe house;
Tougane seated himself on a cheap foldable chair, crossed his legs and rested them on a flat working table which also lay his brown fedora, he was in a small and crammed office, smoking his cigarette and staring the presentation board which were pinned with photos of leads, locations, men, and himself in the middle of the board and at the heart of everything as the red threads were connected and pinned on him; it was a photo which was taken when he was unaware.
“I have to admire you effort; but you really didn’t get anywhere.” Said Tougane with exhilaration as if it was a joke he was telling, it could be in from his point of view. “Unbelievable.” He sighed. “Your base of operation’s security is also lame. We’ve been sitting for 15 minutes and no one noticed, only just you came into the room.” Tougane then turned his head back, to be greeted with a young grumpy-face Englishman sitting on a similar chair like Tougane was, but apparently more uncomfortable than Tougane, probably due to the Browning High-Power handgun Franz kept pointing at his head.
“I just make coffee, I don’t know anything.” The Englishman flatly said.
“Of course …. But don’t worry, I come to see your boss and have a talk with him. As long as you stay still until then, you get to keep your head like how it is right now. Right, Franz?” Tougane playfully nodded at Franz but the boy never seemed to be in the mood to play, Tougane disappointingly jerked his head back and kept his eyes at the door.
“Hmm …” Tougane pulled his leather-strapped Victorinox Swiss Army watch from under his cocktail-cuff left shirt sleeve, the watch had other purpose which was a distress beacon but Tougane only dreamt and imagined he would the watch in its original function as it intended to be. “I’m going to wait no more than 10 minutes before I start a ruckus in here so we can get your boss sooner.”
Then the door swung open unexpectedly.
“Splendid! Finally, here we are!” Tougane cheerfully exclaimed. “You must be Mansfield, the leader of a now-disbanded task force between the Agency and SIS.” He greeted the man who came into the room along with a less significant other. Mansfield was an imposing-looking and athletic man, it gave eerie aura when Tougane stared at inappropriately with a mocking face, clearly, Mansfield was pissed as soon as he saw Tougane.
Without greeting, Mansfield has drawn his sidearm and aimed at Tougane swiftly. But in the same moment, Tougane heard a metallic click from behind, it would be Franz turning his gun onto Mansfield.
“Can’t you just say hello like a normal person?” Tougane asked.
Mansfield scanned the room with his eyes and met with another muzzle pointing at him but he was nonetheless fearless. “Not with someone who has murdered many of ours; comrades, friends.”
“Put away your gun, Mansfield. Hear what I have to say and then you rethink about shooting me.” Tougane said daringly. “My associate will put his gun away first, and hopefully you will follow.”
Mansfield rolled his eye suspiciously and kept the gun pointing at Tougane rather than putting it away. Tougane turned back and found Franz still stiffly holding the pistol against the grumpy-face Englishman. “Come on, Franz. The Brit aren’t entirely comfortable with guns, put it away for now. We can’t talk while having to staring into its muzzle.” Tougane yanked his head once to the boy, which Franz then tugged the gun away after a click from his safety lever. Tougane turned back at Mansfield and said: “Your turn.”
The mistrustful eyes staring at Tougane and the other hand clenching tight as the gun-drawing hand was holstering the piece and taking seat for himself, Tougane could not imagine how many time he has been murdered in Mansfield’s head right now. With given opportunity, Tougane doubted the man could resist the temptation of retaliation.
“You can go now, coffee boy. I can assure you if someone were to die, it wouldn’t be your boss, so don’t bother alert everyone in the station.” Tougane brusquely waved his hand and the grumpy-face left.
“Why are you here?” Mansfield asked. Though the lack of curses and physical violence, the anger seeped through his face as every muscle on it tensed.
Tougane watched it and has taken a note. He knew exactly why Mansfield would be angry. But to utter a word about it was hard. Under his forced smile, he sympathized, he understood. But then what to do about it … He was afraid if he would be forced to face it.
“Well, I see that you’ve been spending your time going after me, dying to see me. So I guess I should pay a visit.”
Mansfield glared back viciously. “Cut the nonsense, use your words wisely, I don’t want to hear from you more than necessary.”
“Fine.” Said Tougane. “I’m not what you think I am.”
“My name is Tougane Masaru, I work for the Agency. My record had been burned before the task force was initiated. I’m not Osato the arm dealers as you understood. I’m not Shinohara’s right hand man as you thought I was. I’ve been undercover, I got inside his ring to intercept the attack he plans against the Academy City. I’m only a straw man for you to chase after, so Shinohara would have the confidence to conduct his preparation to the point where it gives the opportunity to take he and his syndicate out.”
Tougane could feel the strain in the man’s muscles in his face tensed to the point they would snap. It was the anger at the boiling point. But different, as his eyes went widened with disbelief. It was the anger of being fooled and having to find it out way too late.
“Why didn’t you tell us ..” Mansfield was evidently stupefied. “You could have saved lives of our friends … Good men ….”
“The assignment was highly classified, I and my employer could not risk leaking our plan and intention to who might ever pass on this information to Shinohara, either willingly or not. And also to add weight to my cover, so Shinohara would not suspect.”
“So you killed many of us … Just to cover your arse … How could you sleep at night?”
“I just do …”
Whilst nothing had changed much in his face, Mansfield clenched his fist harder than he initially did. “So you came here just to tell me that?”
“No.” Said Tougane. “I need your help. My employer needs men who he can trust to stop Shinohara. And with your history, you and your men are likely the most highly-motivated to handle this job without bending. Shinohara’s got people everywhere, so my employer chooses you.”
Tougane watched the clenching hand, he predicted that it would soon throw against his face, and he had no plan to avoid it. He understood even telling the truth was still like pissing on the wound.
But the hand then loosened, Mansfield stood up and turned away. “Understood. I’ll assemble men I can trust.”
“Good. Come to this location at 1900 hours today, we’ll have you briefed down to every detail.” Tougane slid a small piece of paper written with the location on the table.
The sudden change of expression in Mansfield buggered Tougane, the moment ago he looked like he was ready to kill Tougane but now he just gave up.
“So that’s it?” Tougane dubiously asked. “I thought you would something to say to me regarding what we know already that angers you. You’re not wrong to feel that way. Go ahead, satisfy yourself.” Tougane stood up and braced for the first strike out of boiling anger from Mansfield. “I know you want to. For your friends ..”
“It’s no use.” Mansfield sourly said. “We got nowhere with Shinohara, it’s you who got him, without you having done those things, killing our friends, Shinohara might not be within reach today. I’m sure they would understand. But am I angry at you for making such judgment? Definitely. But I don’t reckon beating you pulp would help me feel better. I can’t make you feel what I feel, Tougane. It’s not my job to make you repent of what you have done. You’re the one who decided, and the one who lives with your action from this point onward. For what it’s worth, I don’t think we should waste our time thinking of what has been done. There’s a lot to be done from now.”
Mansfield gave a final glance of anger and disappointment at Tougane before leaving the room.
“True.” Tougane said to that emptiness before him now that he was left behind.
“Can you live with it, brother?”
It squealed in his ears.
Tougane knew exactly whose voice it was. His hands began shaking uncontrollably. He tried to reach the pill in his pocket but he felt the gravity and pivoted down before he could do so.2003 hours
A certain safe house;
Head hurt like hell, it was nauseating him as Tougane awoke. He has passed out for a few hours, concluding from the setting sun outside the window. He has been laying down on the couch in the safe house where it was made as a spontaneous war room. From the resting room he was in, he heard the commotion from outside, it was likely that they have started preparing for tomorrow’s operation.
“You’re not seriously going back, are you?”
Franz has been sitting and watching him for who knew how long.
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” Tougane lamely sat up and watched the over-concerned boy, clicking his tongue once to disrupt the uncomfortable atmosphere. “What happened?” He asked, for the gap of time that has been missing from his head.
“You blacked out.” Franz worriedly spoke. “It’s getting more severe, isn’t it?”
As Tougane recalled, he did not understand how, he was taking the pills to suppress the symptoms and neither did he miss or skip even once. But no, this was no time for him to worry about it, he could seek for the medical attention later, or else he would be drawing attention on himself. Just had to take the pills and stayed off the field, that was all he had to do.
“You needn’t worry about me.” Said Tougane dryly. “How are we right now?”
“The Brits are here, they’re with Tsushio right now in the command room.”
“Then that’s where I should be.” Tougane rose up his restless body.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea right now.” Said the boy as he looked genuinely worried. “What if you were to-”
“There’s nothing to worry as long as I’m not in the field, that’s your job.” Tougane said coldly. “I’m not your concern, your concern is to go out there and put an end to this mess we’re in by my orders.”
The boy fell silenced after he was rejected, Tougane moved his eyes away to door, his hand grabbed the knob and twisted open. But struck by a sudden realization, Tougane stopped as he was a foot away from exiting.
“Franz …” Tougane glanced back sternly. “I’m going to need to know that you’ll do anything to stop Shinohara’s plan. If you want to keep your end of the bargain, you’ll have to do everything necessary, regardless of your personal feelings or morality in the moment you have to do something that could be so terrible you’ll remember for the rest of your life. I brought you into this because I think you have none of those, but I need to be sure now. Will you do absolutely everything to stop him? This is bigger than just us, and if we fail, all I did, all you did, all those people did would be in vain. I want you to give me your word.”
“Yes.” The boy said palely. “Understood.”
“That’s all I want to hear.” Said Tougane. “We should be at the brief.”
Tougane and the boy hurried to the war room where the radio equipments, maps and strategic boards were set, people working around the clock to ensure they did everything to be ready when they had to strike.
Tsushio was in there along with the remnant of the task force, he gave a nod to Tougane who just entered the room and walked toward.
Mansfield and his men looked at Tougane with disgust and anger for he did but for the common good, that was all they gave Tougane.
“We were waiting for you, Tougane.” Tsushio said. “We’ll begin the brief soon.”
Mansfield and his men disperses away, leaving room for Tougane and Tsushio.
Tougane and the boy hurried to the war room where the radio equipments, maps and strategic boards were set, people working around the clock to ensure they did everything to be ready when they had to strike.
Tsushio was in there along with the remnant of the task force, he gave a nod to Tougane who just entered the room and walked toward.
Mansfield and his men looked at Tougane with disgust and anger for he did but for the common good, that was all they gave Tougane.
“We were waiting for you, Tougane.” Tsushio said. “We’ll begin the brief soon.”
Mansfield and his men dispersed away, leaving room for Tougane and Tsushio.
"How are we now?" Asked Tsushio.
"A little risky, it's possible that Tsushio knew I'm a rotten apple. But that wouldn't stop him from going head on with his plan." Replied Tougane.
"How did he know? Why do you think so?"
"No idea." Said Tougane. "But since he sent someone to kill me yesterday, it's plausible. It’s our mutual friend from Macau, Shinohara probably used the operative under Morozov to kill me after I’ve done all his task. I guess he doesn’t like having loose ends."
Tsushio grinned awkwardly. "Are you sure it's not going to put us in trouble?"
Tougane answered with a monosyllable. "I dealt with the man already, like the one in Macau, he's also a sleeper cell, he doesn't make contact with Shinohara directly. With enough ploy, I managed to trick that I'm actually dead with a false proof."
"I hope so. There can't be anything wrong tomorrow." Tsushio washed away his insecurity. "Go ahead,
Tougane. We should begin now." Tsushio gestures at him.
Tougane acknowledged it and looked around. "May I have your attention!" He uttered.
All eyes were on him, differently in emotions to each and his own, but they all at least showed the same thing: intensity.
"I'll be handling this operation from this room as your case officer. Everything goes through me, everything I say goes as I say. No question. Understood?"
If he was expecting 'Yes, sir", he would better have their respect first. But all he got was silence stare.
"Well, then ..." Tougane brushed it aside. "Tomorrow, three incidents will occur: biological weapon attack at the Biological Warfare Research Center, hostile takeover of three air defense installations around the city, and biological weapon attacks at various points within the city. Our focus is the last, the first is a demonstration, the second is a diversion, but the third one is real. They’re going to hijack the air defense installations and have a submarine waiting the water of Tokyo bay, to lead the city and us to believe the threat is there, with the security forces draw out to these location, leaving the Academy City vulnerable to the attacks from within. But since we know this prior, this is our chance to stop it. Right now, thanks to the beacons and the jammers this skillful boy has planned, we learn that the containers of the weapon device are sitting in the freight yards across the city, we’ll have the opportunity to track them down and seize them into our hands.”
“What about the attack at the biological studies center and the attack at the air defense installations?” Said Mansfield icily calm, but on his face was clearly concern.
“We’re going to let those attacks happen, those will only lure us away from the real attack if we meddle in. If we stop any of the first two, we’ll spook Shinohara and his associates before we can catch them in the act.”
“So you’re willing to sacrifice those lives despite knowing you have the intel to warn them prior?”
“Yes.” Tougane admitted the ugly truth. “But we’re not doing that for nothing. By letting them happen will fool Shinohara into thinking that everything goes as he planned.”
Mansfield silently shook his head and gave a cold stare from his tilting head, he understood something, something which Tougane could not see for himself what it was even Tougane was trying to.
“What if we fail?” One of Mansfield’s men interrupted and it has caught Tougane his attention.
“If even one of those devices goes off, it’ll release the virus which was found in the botched-attack in Hong Kong and Shinohara’s facility in India. Its capacity is that it will fail one’s body system within the matter of a minute or two, the virus particle is too small, chemical suit is useless. Once it goes off, forget doing anything but running for your life. The weaponized strain is highly contagious and sustainable, it will survive out there for months while it’s active.”
“But the problem doesn’t just end there.” Tsushio interjected. “If a biological pathogen which is not known, and not studied prior, released into public, airborne, the viral outbreak will not just be contained to Academy City, it will spread to the vicinities nearby. God knows what will happen when the wind sweep the blue mist which carries millions of virus particles into another populated areas. But to ensure that doesn’t happen in the case we fail and the blue mists of death are released, they will fire bomb the infected ground zeroes to crumbles before the virus spreads.”
If the worst of scenarios were to occur, an airy place like Academy City which it utilizes that feature through the use of wind turbines, there was a chance the outbreak would not just stay in the city.
The unnerving sensation has caused the room to fall silent, seemingly.
“Who has watched the forecast?” Said Tougane.Day 108
“Yes, dear.” Said the receptionist. “I’ll be there to be pick you up at school for dinner, right? Don’t go ahead and fill your stomach up too much. Mommy’s gotta go, see you soon.”
The receptionist hung up the phone which was not for personal affair like she has just used it for. But no one would have known, would they? She thought. Just a phone call to her daughter would not be too inappropriate.
She returned to the stiff posture despite no one was in her sight, it was a mandatory manner for someone works as a front. Got to be cool, got to smile and what not, she was tired, of this, this job. But it pays well enough for her and her daughter. Paid well for sitting and doing nothing more than pick up a few calls, that was good enough.
It was quiet day as usual. How could it not be? It was not a mall or something. She conceived. The only she would get to do was randomly looking at people who passed through the hall, actually working as a receptionist was a rare occurrence for her, out of three months, she only got tangled up as she worked for only five days, on separate occasions. So she set herself down and let her mind go absent.
Staring blankly out toward the hall from her counter, she has just noticed, she had thought that earlier the hall was empty, but now there was a man in a suit strutting around the bench in the hall. He was holding a bulky cell phone beside his dead-serious face. He looked to be an executive of some sort, a mobile phone was not remotely cheap right now, a man or a woman like her who lives off the salary would not dare to own one, so he must be an executive, who was in need of using the cell phone to discuss his business. She thought. Does he work here? She began to wonder. Her eyes trailed the man until he was off her frame of sight.
Her shoulders have loosened and lowered, as did her spirit. She began to get bored, that was she had to do the whole day.
A briefcase? It was metallic and larger than one would use in a daily business. She caught it laying by the bench. She had not before but she just did now. It belonged to the man with the cell phone for certain. Did he forget it? She left her counter and headed to the bench.
She turned her head and searched for the man, his pace was faster as he became more intense with the phone call, he was already reaching the building entrance.
She hastily picked up the briefcase by the handle and it hurt her arms with its weight. She followed up the man, speeding on her heels which were soon to be thrown off balance at any moment by the heavy briefcase.
“SIR!?” She called out.
The man was unresponsive as he was still on the cell phone.
“SIR!? YOU FORGOT THE BREIFCASE!”
She called out again but he did not seem to hear her.
Damn it … She was struck by this awful feeling. Something was odd. Did he purposely forget it? She was calling out with the volume loud enough to attract the guard at the entrance gate his attention, how could he not hear it? What if he pretended he did not hear it … Why would he pretend to forget, unless … The briefcase was heavy, and what could it be in there? It certainly was not something good, was it?
But she cut in front of the man right at the building entrance before he could exit and before she realized has done so as she was whirling in her panic.
The man stared back at her, looking dumbfounded as he still held his phone tight.
Silly, it could not be so? She was just over-thinking and that was it. She was trying to tell herself that as she stretched her arms, handing the briefcase back to the man. “Sir …. You forgot your … briefcase …” She slowly uttered with anxiety as she bowed down. She glanced back behind her, the guard at gate had his hand on the baton strapped to his equipment belt but yet to draw it out.
The man gradually slanted his head back out of surprise, he extended his free hand forward to take the briefcase. “Thank you.” He simply said after he grabbed it by the handle.
The anxiety has not settled down yet, she rose her head up. The man still looked dumbfounded as he was earlier. Was something wrong? She pondered. Her heart started to pound fast in this atmospheric uncertainty and uneasiness. She looked back at him and did not know what to do. Damn, she did not know what was going on in the first place.
The hands slackened, and both the briefcase and the phone fell off. The man then stepped back slowly before quickly turned and started to run.
“What the hell …”
What was he doing? What was even going on? She began to panic as she was still frozen to where she stood. Right, she had to tell the guard and they would handle everything. That was right. That was right. She repeatedly iterated to herself.
“Get out of the way! Get out of the way!”
She heard that from behind, but it was so faint, like it was a void, it felt distant. But when that voice stopped, she heard a humming vibration … of an engine? Then the glasses broken into shards, she heard. She instinctively turned back to answer her curiosity and the lack of comprehension of what was going on.
It was now clear what it was, and the sound got louder as she had her eyes turned to where the source of it. It was the roar from the engine of the van driving through the entrance with great speed. Even she was in the way, it did not show any sign it would lower its speed until it has hit her.
Before she could react, she was knocked back away from great force and sliding across the floor on her back for a few meters.
She could not feel anything but numbness, she tried to move but the only thing that was moving was one of her hand, pushing the floor with no avail. She was paralyzed. Bright light of the day from outside the building shone into her eyes through the broken entrance.
What happened? Her disoriented and fading mind tried to make out of the situation. Why did the van came through into the building? She was not given with a clue.
The footstep on the shattered glasses came into her ears.
“Help.” She faintly uttered to whoever it was near her whilst her hand still swooping over the floor.
The blood from her hand started to taint the word ‘Biological Studies Research Center’ on the engrave on the floor as she struggled with the only limb that could move.
“Help … Help …” She said as the presence moved in her sight, the silhouette was blocking the light from touching upon her, she could not make of what it looked like at first.
But as she did, the inexplicable fear struck.
A man dressed in black plain clothes, masked, was standing over her and looking at her. Those grim eyes looked at her with no sympathy, no mercy. And then he ran away to where it crashed into from. The bright light returned and she helplessly looked into it.
Among sound of chaotic screams and yells, came something which sounded akin to a pipe with pressurized air had broken and the air inside leaked and spread into the area of lesser concentration of pressure.
The blue mist slowly spread along that sound and crept into her sight before entirely swarming her. She unknowingly and unavoidably breathed it in.
And that was then she began to feel painfully tight from inside, it was agonizing, suffocating, it felt like she was bursting within.
There was metallic clatter ringing around simultaneously, it was the sound of the emergency barriers shutting down over every door and window out of this place. The red emergency light from the ceiling was activated as this place became obscured from the light of the outside world.
The siren shrilled over the voice of suffering and pain. And death.
The phone rang rudely in the middle of the meeting of the Academy City’s board of directors, much to anyone’s surprise. They ceased the heated argument for the time being and looked at the ringing phone on the long table. The member of the board closest to the phone looked around for approval from the others before reluctantly stretching his hand out to the phone and picked it up from the cradle.
“Hello. Is this the board of directors?” A male voice spoke nonchalantly through. It was not someone who worked here or for the boards, the secretary outside was a woman and her voice would come through first if she were to pass the line in, even urgently.
“Yes … Who is this? What do you want?” The member of the board asked back.
“I’m the man who you’ll kneel to. You’ll comply to my demands unless you want another incident like what has just happened at the Biological Studies Research Center to happen across the city. We have a submarine waiting in the water, readying to launch the missiles loaded with the bio weapon warhead to the heart of the city within no more than 2 minutes.”
“What are you talking about … Don’t kid around or else-”
“Check the news and you’ll see. Even it’s not public yet but I guess a man with the highest of clearance will be able to hear it without too much effort. You have one hour to follow your protocols, we’ll be in touch. If anyone of you all try to move out the city, you’ll be faced with no tolerance.”1115 hours
One of the air defense installations outside the perimeter of the Academy City
A man was running down through the hallway with a gun in his hand and a hailstorm of bullets chasing after, he leaped himself into the control room at the end of the hallway that he almost got himself killed for trying to reach it. The metallic ricochet continued to clack behind the closed steel door even he had gotten himself in. He peaked his head up and saw an even more horrified face that his staring down confusedly at him.
“Sugita, override the door now!” Whilst out of his breath, he managed to bellow out to his colleague.
Sugita quickly turned back to the terminal behind him which was hooked to many monitors, three of them were broadcasting the security feeds at various points of this facility, all of them showed the same thing: the black-clad trained and armed operatives raiding into the facility and slaughtered the personnel who worked here.
After several successions of inputs, Sugita managed to have the only door accessing to their room sealed off and inaccessible from the control panel outside the room. He leaned on the edge behind him tiredly after a breathless moment and started to relieve. They only had to wait for the rescue behind this close and locked door.
“What are you doing? We’re not done yet, Sugita!”
“What do you mean, Kawahara!? I’ve sent the distress call to the center! There’s nothing we can do now.”
Kawahara rose up from his knees and went to grab Sugita by his shoulders. “Sugita.” Kawara shook his colleague frantically. “We might not make it out alive. No matter what, they will get through that door. They’re going to get in here and disable the air turrets through this terminal. We have to shut it off and lock it down, cut off their access to this facility’s servers from this terminal. You understand!?” Kawara let go and turned back to the door, his shaking hands fearfully kept the gun pointing at it. “DO IT NOW!”
Sugita was snapped out of his delusion of safety he just had. He turned and complied to the order. His fingers were jerking as he tapped them on the keyboard.
The spark erupted from the left corner of the door into the control room and began to draw up into a rectangular-shape, the combustion drawled its humming noise like a burning firework fuse.
Kawara looked at it in horror, he knew exactly what it could be.
It was an exothermic charge. The door was being breached.
“ARE YOU THERE YET, SUGITA!?” Kawara scarily shouted.
“Just a few second!” Sugita answered as he typed and raced against the time.
The humming noise stopped and in that moment, they became utterly frightened.
The exothermic charge exploded and shot smoke into the room along with the piece of iron which belonged to the door, cut off by extreme heat.
Kawahara dumped every round from his gun at the breached door in his attempt to fend off the assailants.
But as his gun clicked empty, a couple of brief flashes from in the mist of smoke spit slugs at him and dropped him dead immediately.
Sugita hit the ‘enter’ key sharply in time before he heard a metallic click from behind. He slowly rose his hands up in the air and turned back. The black-clad operative was pointing an assault rifle to his face, behind him was a few more men standing in diffusing smoke.
“What have you done?” Said the operative.
The moment Sugita shut off the access from the terminal to the server room, he was as good as dead, the assailants were left with no way to tamper the system. Knowing he was likely going to die, Sugita said with his last triumph: “There’s nothing you can do now.”
The operative clicked his tongue disappointedly, he waved his hands and another operative came in and tried to access the terminal.
There was nothing more than the terminal bleeping error notification.
“Seems like we have to go with Plan B.” The operative said. He looked at Sugita annoyingly as he lowered the weapon, “You think you cut off the only access to this facility’s servers? Then we’ll just have to go the server directly.”
The server room was hidden from the blue print, even low-clearance personnel did not know where the room was. Without knowing its location, the only way to access it now was from through the system’s back door which could be only access by the city. Sugita was certain he followed the protocol to ensure that the assailants would not succeed their goal.
“Mr Sugita …” The operative poked at the nametag that was slung over Sugita’s neck. “You have done a very stupid thing … You see, I may have not known where the server room is. But as of this time, you’re facility is under siege and we have a few hours before the government can attempt to retake the facility back, which gives enough time to find out where the server room is. And from what I can see, your clearance is considerably high.” The operative looked behind and signaled his teammates to come to him. “Take him to the hall along with others.”
The men came at Sugita and locked his arms tight.
The operatively stared at Sugita maliciously. “Flay his finger until he talks. If you run out of fingers, continue with the toes. Do it in front of the others, so if this one doesn’t talk, the rest will get the idea.”
Sugita tried squirmed of out locked as he was being dragged by the black-clad men out of the room, he screamed in fear and denial as he went through the hallway.
The operative was not even remotely shaken by the haunting scream. He put his finger on the radio hanging on his chest and spoke: “Load down the EMP Charge. Standby for the server room location.”1231 hours
A certain unknown bunker;
Undisclosed location, Academy City
“There’s no way we’re going to negotiate with him!”
“What if his threat is real!? Forget about relying on the Board Chairman, he doesn’t give two damn as long as he still holes up where he is now.”
The board of directors began to clash among each other, the safest of the bunkers in the world did not help them to feel safe even slightly. The news of what happened at the Biological Studies Research Center and the Air Defense installations has reached them, it led them to believe that threat was pointing at their way.
The phone rang, it was louder and more shocking than a gunshot to them at this moment. It went through the speaker.
“Hi there.” Said the voice. “Do you feel better when you’re hiding down there in the bunker, despite knowing full well what’s going to happen when you climb out of that hole and there will be nothing left for you but a walk of among ruins you have endeavor to build.”
“Who are you? I want answers!” One of the board of directors acting as a delegate spoke back.
“You know well who I am. There’s only a few who have the capacity to go up against you all, and even fewer who dare to do so.”
The delegate hesitatedly glanced around and everybody in the board made the same expression, they now knew who this man was.
“Shinohara … If it’s about-”
“Oh .. About that … It’s too late for you all to make up for it. But I can assure you that wasn’t the beginning, it was the breaking point.” Shinohara grimly said. “I remember some of you have worked in this position for at least three decades ago, some of you may have been passed with the torch, but as you all in this position, pivotal to the city, you’re all responsible for everything that this city has done and you’ll be met with what you’re destined to. But then you have the power to choose, to change that destiny. Of course, you can sit down there in the hole while the bio weapon plunges the ground above you into chaos and the lifeless void. Either people in Tokyo or Washington may come to an agreement that it doesn’t end there, they will pasteurize the city to prevent the contagion. What will be left when that happens is the windowless building of your worship as a monument to this tragedy. Maybe you can say everything you build can be built up again, but I reckon human assets are harder to replace.”
Shinohara was amused by the silence and the lack of response from the boards of directors.
“Yes …” He rasped. “Espers.”
One simple word was sharp and lethal that it could ever be in other situations, or so Shinohara thought.
“I know just how much you have invested in them. It’s not just the sort of deal you can duplicate out of nothing within a few days. It takes researchers who must be the top of their league to administer them. Imagine all to be gone in one instance. All of those lives you invested in, those espers, those researchers … What will it take for you to make up for you loss … You get the picture of it. Before you calling me a madman, go ahead and ask me what do I want. Not even for one second you will think I am incapable of spilling blood with my own hands, you know much blood is on my hands all over these years I have done things for you, think carefully before calling my bluff.”
“What do you want?”
“Your allegiances, cut off your ties from the chairman of the board. It’s true you’re not that powerful and you don’t mean that much, I could have had you killed if I wanted, and he could both kill and replace you without a problem. But together, you all together, we can make an alliance of power that will overcome his. You get to keep what you have invested, what you want, if you swear your allegiance to me.”
“You’re certainly mad, there’s no way that’s going to work even we agree to it.”
“You have 2 hours to come to an agreement. After my last contact, the judgment will final.”
A certain safe house;
The men in the operation room anticipated each minute painstakingly, they were showered in this room smoke from the cigarette and drenching dread.
The dark blue suit as part of which Tougane was wearing as his uniform along with white shirt and navy knit tie, supposedly had structured shoulders which should give off the imposing and confident look, but all of that was gone when its wearer curled and shrank his shoulders as burden loaded down on him. The unnerving stress made him feel heavy just to stand, so he was leaning on the table with his arms.
Tsushio worriedly stood by the radioman, waiting for the update to the situation. The agency’s paramilitary units have been dispatched to the freight yards which located and hid the weapon devices, two units were onto each of the freight yards across the city, once the package began to move, the units would move in and intercept. Due to the clandestine nature of this operation, Tsushio assembled these men in small amounts secretly to avoid attracting the attention from anyone, including the people in his own organization. Franz and the men from the task force were on the ground, standing by to respond to the situation in case it has gone out of control. And another unit made up with the men from the task force was waiting by the location which they learned through intel that Shinohara was holding up in.
“We have confirmed the attacks at the Biological Studies Research Center and at the Air Defense installations have succeeded, the turrets are down now, the authority is converging to those locations right now. And for the submarine, it hasn’t shown up anywhere in the radar.” The radioman reported the situation.
“How ironic, the contractors trained and paid by the Academy City now turned on the city.” Said Tsushio. “What about the board’s stance on Shinohara’s demands?”
“We haven’t heard anything from them, sir.” Said the radioman. “They have already cut off any contact and moved to the secured bunker.”
“That’s what I can expect from the board, one of the things they’re good at is running into the hole and digging their head into it when something comes up.” Said Tsushio, he did not say that because he was only pissed, he was also hopeless in them.
“I guess we’re on our own now.” Tougane remarked.
“Hmm,” Tsushio grunted, “Try to contact the board, tell them we have a lead and tell them to get back to me,” Tsushio told the radioman. “How are we with the tracking Shinohara’s associates?” He turned to Tougane.
“We have successfully tapped the call that that Shinohara have made to his associates and recorded it. There are new many names that I haven’t even heard myself. Their current whereabouts are all away from the city.” Tougane informed. “But there’s one thing, there’s a mention of the entity called ‘’Tenzai’ again. And our analysis team has not been able to determine who it is, he may very well not be in the conversation himself.”
“But that’s enough for us to use as evidence, we’ll get what we want to hear from the associates once we get to them, that entity isn’t our primary concern now.”
Right now, the board may have believed whether attack was real, but either they were doing nothing or spending all the time they were given to come to Shinohara’s agreement to stop the attack, it would in vain when they did not foresee that the weapon devices were already in behind the wall of the city, a retake one of the air defense facility or a search of the stealth submarine in the Tokyo bay was deviating the Academy City’s authority from the real threat. What Shinohara was doing was leading them to believe and fear the bigger thing, the thing that would take all their effort and their desperate attempt would blind their eyes.
It was up to their operation to handle the real threat right now, Tougane and Tsushio had the mutual when they looked at each other.
“Give an order for our men to mobilize in and intercept the weapon devices now!"1247 hours
“Shinohara’s son has already been evacuated from his school. Our agents are on their way to get his wife.”
“Thanks.” Tougane then resumed his post after having been informed from an agent via a phone call as he waited for further updates in the operations.
Radio went silence for two minutes as the ground teams were covertly striking at the freight yards across the city.
The radioman turned swiftly with alert, “They’re patching through.”
“Go ahead.” Said Tsushio and the transmission broadcasted from the speakers in the room. Tougane approach the microphone and stood by to order as soon as the team leader reported.
“We neutralized the threats in the area, standing by to secure the device.” Team 4 leader reported.
“Roger. You’re free to secure the cargo.” Tougane gave out the order.
The sound of the metal container’s door being swung open came through the transmission. The men in the operation room awaited in cold sweat for further report.
“HQ!” Said Team 4 leader. “Something is in there, but it doesn’t look like the device in the picture.”
“What do you mean something? Are you it’s the container we marked with a beacon?”
“The beacon shows in our tracker, but the device itself isn’t as described.”
Was not as described? What the hell did that suppose to mean? Thought Tougane. “What does the device look like?”
“We’re going in to inspect the device.” Said Team 4 leader. “It’s about the same size as it is in the picture … But there’s no sign of viral canister …. We located the beacon under the control panel.”
“What about the jammer?”
“There’s no sign of it either.”
Oh, no. The horror struck Tougane.
“GET YOUR MEN OUT OF THERE!!!!!”
The short burst of explosion turned the transmission into static.1249 hours
“We lost contact with all ground teams.” The radioman said.
Thought they have heard from just Team 4, with losing all the communication to the other teams which approached the weapon devices, it meant the ground teams have met with the same fate, with the only exception of Team 8 which were on standby to capture Shinohara in the compound he was suspected to be there, which in the end, Shinohara was not there from the beginning.
“What’s going on, Tougane!?” Tsushio was in awe. “Talk to me!”
The weapon devices should have been there. They were all monitored since they left the port Franz had infiltrated. The beacons were there …
But the jammers were not … Had they been removed? How? How did they know?
Oh, god. How wrong he messed this up …
His jaw felt heavy and Tougane gaped it down unknowingly, there were no words coming out of his mouth no matter how inquisitive Tsushio appeared to him.
The devices went off, as he feared. But wait, the viral canister was not there.
Tougane rushed to the radioman and grabbed his shoulder tensely. “Contact someone to see if the outbreak has begun.”
“Tougane … Tell me what’s going on?” Tsushio clearly looked that he was not following up.
Although he has regained some sense of morale back, Tougane was not quite relieved from the whole ordeal. “Just hold on for a second.” He told Tsushio. “Can you get to anybody?” He asked the radioman.
The radioman’s body was still for a few seconds, and then jolted up to Tougane. “Yes. I got one on the line, it’s team 2. Patching through.”
“Team 2, this is HQ here. What’s the situation?”
“HQ, the device went off, we lost almost our entire team in the blast. However, there’s no trace of the virus exposure. It appears that this was just only an explosive.”
Goddamn it, it was a bluff. Tougane got furious. “Shinohara’s fooling with us … He knew we’re still onto him.”
“How? Isn’t this the plan you found in his possession, Tougane?” Tsushio concernedly asked.
Yes, of course. Shinohara wanted him to find it and believe it, Shinohara even left it on a plate for him. And Tougane took the bait. “He wanted the Academy City’s authority to believe the attack comes in one direction, he wanted us to believe it comes in another …”
“Why would he do that? And it turns out, none of the attack is worse as his claim.”
Despite the weapon devices only contained explosive and no virus, they could still kill many people caught in vicinity.
“We’re being lured into his trap … So he could take out most our combatants at once … It’s not about attacking the city at its population as threatened … It’s about crippling our force. With our ground teams suffered from the bombs, and the Academy City’s security forces being drawn out to the air defense installations as the alleged attacks … No … ” Tougane paused as he found his next word to be unbelievable to speak. “If anymore attack occurs, we lose our capacity to respond in time …”
“So we’re not safe from the bio attack yet …. Hehe …” Tsushio laughed sarcastically.
“No .. If the bio weapons were here, we would have known, we’ve been monitoring them the whole time. Those weapon devices only got here because you let them in, Tsushio ….”
Tsushio expressed his dissatisfaction at Tougane blaming at him, but after looking into Tougane’s eyes, Tsushio could see Tougane was in no mind to blame him, but was telling something else. He sighed and said, “What are you thinking right now?”
What if there was no bio attack anymore .. What was Shinohara was planning? Tougane pondered deeply. “So he would like us to believe that threat was massive … devastating …. And we looked in the he pointed for us … All this time we are running around trying to stop the desolating and fearful weapon which cannot be remedy. The real attack would come from the direction we’re not looking.” Tougane casted his eyes at Tsushio which were already calculating.
“Shinohara exposed himself to the city and declared himself an enemy of the state … He wouldn’t go for something small, something unworthy … It must be something that can still put the city’s to its knees.” Shinohara passed on his notion to Tougane.
“Check if there’s any attack occur against the city’s infrastructure.” Tougane said to the radioman. “It’s likely he will try to get at something of ours … if he wanted to kill someone or some people, he would have done so … It must be something that he has to carry and escort out …”
“So it’s a heist.” Said Tsushio. “He’s going to steal something.”
“Exactly.” Agreed Tougane. “What is that thing? Obviously not money, it would be foolish for him to orchestrate an incident like just to steal the money. A piece of technology? It still has to be something he can vanish with it in the moment that thing, that object goes past the wall, the perimeter of the city. What would be that thing that is important?”
What would it be? The thing which could force the state of Academy City on its knees? If it would result a coup as intentioned, the attack would somehow collapse everything the Academy City has built on. It could not be a weapon, Shinohara got one at hand and he has not used it. A piece of technology?
The foundation of this city is its advance technology, the city funds researches and invests in it, it is the unending cycle of this city, it lives and thrives on technologies it builds upon. Every way possible, they experiment legally or not to get which they want.
What is the most valuable technology the Academy City holds in that regard?
“Sir!” The radioman spoke. “There’s a report coming in, there’s a distress call from a black site, it’s a data archive holding high-clearance level information.”
There was a black site which dedicated for the city to store its vital information, it was not known to the public, but Shinohara could of course learn its location from someone working as a high ranking personnel.
“This is it, Tougane. We still have time to stop them, whatever they’re taking from there, it would be something worth exposing oneself against the city.” Said Tsushio. “Order Team 8 to strike and capture Shinohara. Call the backup team to go at the data archive.”
“No,” Tougane held Tsushio back, he knew the backup team’s position was too far from the data archive, they had too much of chance at losing the people who attacked the data archive, “don’t send the backup team there at the black site.”
“What do you mean by that, Tougane?”
“By the time the team gets there, those people will be gone, under this circumstance, they will cloak themselves from us, ditch the vehicle, get a disguise.” Said Tougane. “Though they would not have enough time to decode the files, if they want it, they have to take the whole server unit, and what they were looking for should not be just something that could hold it in a small capacity drive in this era. A server unit the black site uses should be large enough that it requires a vehicle like a van or something of that size. But since there’s a lockdown triggered by the bombing attacks at our men, the only way they can get pass through will be a vehicle that can get out despite the city being under lockdown … Security force’s vehicle, it can get out of the city under disguise as reinforcement in correspondence with the attacks the air defense installations. Use our surveillance system at all exits from the city, mark the suspicious vehicle, if it goes off the course, we’ll have it. Get a chopper, get the backup team to be ready to ambush the vehicle before it disappears.”
The backup team, composed of the remnant of the task force and Franz, they have trailed a suspicious vehicle, the security’s force truck leaving from the Academy City’s to the western side of Tokyo, Eventually, the vehicle reached an empty warehouse.
“Arrgghh!” There was the last scream of the goon who either guarded this warehouse or transported the vehicle, Franz gunned the man down mercilessly.
“Clear.” One of the team members announced and another followed to say the same after making sure their quarter was clear of hostile.
The team stacked up behind the armor truck before they went to inspect it.
They were indeed there, two particular server units lied down in there in the modified truck, removed of its frame and seats to fit the server units.
Mansfield wasted no time and brought out his radio, “HQ, we secured the package.”
“Roger. We’ll have them transport to our secure site via chopper. Standby further orders.” Tougane spoke back through.1314 hours
A certain safe house;
“So what now? We secured the server units. No more bomb or any weapon devices within the city … The siege at the air defense installation might take some more time to resolve due to complicacy of hostages being held there.” Tsushio seemed glad already, even everything just started to resolve about two minutes ago.
“Though Team 8 just reported in. Shinohara wasn’t there.” Tougane was not in the same delight Tsushio had, now without anything as his obstacle, not the attacks, not the people who had part in this, he could not wait to get the man dead or alive. And as long as Shinohara was out there, Tougane could not settle down quite yet.
“But we’ll get him, right? At least the attacks he orchestrated today would enough to charge him with something and his friends won’t be able to help.”
Tougane hoped what he heard would relive him, but it did not do as much.
“For now, we’ll contact the board about the situation, after alerting them, we’ll get more help in hunting Shinohara down.” Tsushio went to pick up the phone on the table. “Huhh?” There came his odd expression in his face.
“What’s wrong?” Asked Tougane.
“The line’s dead.” Tsushio simply said before looking at the radioman and urging him to try the phone beside him.
“It’s dead too.” Said the radioman.
He was just using it not long ago, thought Tougane. The day was definitely clear, the phone should be usable as always unless ….. The line has been cut from the outside the safe house, and they were not many reasons for it to happen, one of them being to prevent a distress call going out.
Tougane hurriedly walked to the window with an expectation of the worst. And how wrong he wished he was …
There were vans parking in front of the safe house on the street they were in, no plates, unmarked, unrecognizable. Armed men soon stepped down from the vans and headed in. It was them, Shinohara’s men, Tougane was certain. And it did not look good. How they did find the safe house? How was it known? He had no time to think about this, he had to evacuate.
Tougane turned toward Tsushio and said, “We’re blown. Shinohara’s men are here.” He pulled out the Walther from his shoulder holster before he followed Tsushio to leave.
The radioman started the broadcast of a certain sequence number to alert whom on the radio right now that they were compromised and thus should refrain from communicating with it. He then pulled and carried the recording of the bug they had on Shinohara and his associates’ call before the attack went down, an evidence which proved their involvement and incriminated them.
There was a panic room inside the safe house, but Tougane doubted these people would be relent, and eventually they would penetrate. They all stood a chance better in escaping.
The gunfire between Shinohara’s men and safe house’s guards began as they exited to the street from fire exit to the back of the building. They calmly blended in and walked among pedestrians.
“We have to get you there to the main office, Tsushio. I understand you thought it’s not safe, but right now, we have everything, the evidence, go to the director with everything we just got.” Tougane puttered as he tried jacked a parked car, the radioman knew the rhythm and started hotwiring before setting himself behind the wheel.
“What about you?” Tsushio grew concerned.
“Just go, the backup team is not here, we don’t have the people to protect us on the way. I’ll divert them away from you and lose them.”
A gunshot went aloud and shattered the car’s back window, Shinohara’s men have spotted them.
“GO!” Tougane urged before he lowered himself on his knee and returned fire.
The wheels spun against the asphalt and gave off the burning scent and smoke before it launched away.
Tougane was left to fight off alone, he continued to fire as he moved for another vehicle, he ducked his head as he was hotwiring the car under fire.
The engine gave in a low roar, but with no window to adjust himself, he pushed the gas pedal with one and controlled the wheel with another, driving out blindly until he was far enough and hard to be hit by the incoming fire.
As soon as he controlled the car, he intentionally went in an opposite direction where Tsushio and the radioman have gone, one white van followed up as its presence showed up on the rear mirror when he rose himself and buckled up.
The twin exhaust flutteringly growled the more Tougane put pressure on the gas pedal, the car charged on the road speedily. The sweat coated on the wheel which he grabbed tight, his eyes on the pursuer and then the long straight road ahead. He thought and planned of which turn to make and each street, how long he would lead them away before he could lose them from sight to buy Tsushio more time.
“Huarghh …” The thoughts, the picture, the plan he has ahead came to halt.
Suddenly Tougane felt a jerk from his arms, and his head followed no matter how hard he tried to resist and control, and finally each limb of his yanked violently.
The pursuing van pulled the brake when the car it was chasing made a sharp turn aside on the straight road and rolled itself over the concrete road as it crashed into wreckage.
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
- Chapter 23: The thieves who stole everything:
- Tougane awoke to the blunt pain on his left shoulder and then his right knee, and the blurry sight in the murky place with atmospheric moist. The lamplight over his head lit its white light and revealed the high ceiling, a vast space of emptiness of the warehouse interior, and the most noticeably, a large container box with a long piece of cloth draping over and covering it wholly. The metal mechanical sound and heavy clatter of something being moved rang from outside faintly with reverb. His head still felt like it was being thrown around into the void.
“Hrrrgh!” Grunted Tougane as he tried to get his limping body up but he found his hands tied to a chair he was sitting on.
Had he been captured? Evidently as his suit-coat and the shoulder holster along with the Walther were stripped off from him, Tougane was definitely searched through. But still, where was he? When did it happen? More questions started to rain down on him, but one among all, he knew the answer for it.
“There was a farmer who lived in his prosperous ranch with his wife and kids …” Accompanying the smooth voice of man, was a glassy and a metal clink from afar as the footsteps approached. “And the boy, an orphan whom the farmer treated like his own son, through the teachings of the farmer, the boy became proficient. Together, they all lived happily as a family. The farm, the land they lived on, was wanted by the businessmen, capitalists, nevertheless, the farmer refused their price even if it could feed him for the rest of his life …. The farm was more than money to him.”
“Shinohara …” Tougane uttered the name of that man with an uncomfortable and sly smile who was accompanied by two henchmen. Shinohara was standing in front of him with two coupe glasses and a stainless bucket that had a chilled bottle of champagne in his hands before his henchman provided him a chair to sit on.
“But to the capitalists, they would do anything to get it, and they did. On the day, that the boy was sent off to town, away from the farm, the ranch … When he came to where he called home, he found the lifeless bodies of the farmer, his wife, his kid, as the capitalist and his people were dealing with the corpses … They were murdered for the land, it was palpable, even the boy knew it. But instead of having the boy killed along with the family, for his proficiency with the farm, the capitalist offered him a job, the boy took it and continued to work at the farm and it rewarded him greatly. Why? Why did the boy take the offer despite that capitalist was the one who took what he called family away? Does it not hurt him? Does he not care about it at all? Why did he continue to serve the false master? Was the boy a traitor? Or does he just care for his life? What do you think, Shuji-kun?”
“I suppose so …” Tougane noncommittally answered.
“Well … I’d like to think he continued to work at the farm because he was waiting for the day that the farm grew profusely, so he could burn it down and it would hurt that capitalist …” Shinohara gave a long sigh. “I have told you about how my feelings toward my secretary, but it wasn’t meant for her, it was for you … A traitor can be forgiven … Together we could accomplish so much, yet, I knew you were you. You were always a loyal hound to your master, isn’t that right?”
Shinohara shook his head and lightly bit his lip with disbelief when he got his ass comfortably seated and items in his hands set down on the floor. “They tell me you were having a seizure when they found you in the car … God … Pfft.” He bent down and started to pour the glasses with champagne. “Nothing too worrisome, your shoulder was dislocated but taken care of, a few more bruises you received on the impact. It’s a miracle that you survived the car crash. Don’t you think?”
Tougane recalled the faded memory of past event, before he was captured. Damn it, the symptom was going out of control, even the pill would suppress it when he needed. It just had an impeccable sense of timing to strike on him, which just happened to be the moment which caused him to fall in the enemy’s hands.
“Then I guess my life is full of miracles, I suppose.”
“I wouldn’t say that if I were you.” Shinohara said as he finished pouring the drinks and twisted up with two glasses in his hands. “Champagne?” He offered it cheerily. “Well, considering your condition, alcohol consumption should be avoided. But we both know you won’t have to worry about that later on.”
“Perhaps.” Said Tougane smugly and then he twitched his head to the side.
“Oh … Cut him loose, will you?” Shinohara spoke to the henchman.
The thick ropes which bound Tougane to the chair by his wrists snapped when the knife sawed through. Tougane brought his hands up and flicked off the tightness that still remained. After a quick glance at Shinohara and his henchmen who were not aware, Tougane pretended to inspect his left wrist as he double-pressed a lower button on his chronograph watch to activate the distress beacon which he hoped he never had to use, but as now that it came in handy, he was glad he had it. All he needed to do was to distract and delay whatever Shinohara was going to do to him until the cavalry came.
Tougane stretched his hand out and took the glass. He slowly sipped as he accounted for the possibility of his rescue. If Tsushio made it to the main office safely, he would able to notice the distress call and dispatch someone to help him.
“We almost came across once before this, ’74, a bizarre case of murders. I didn’t get a chance to see you, but yeah, I did meet your partner at the time, Tsunemori, I heard he died a few years back …” Shinohara shamefully said. “You were there, weren’t you? As Taneda Mori.”
“Yes.” Said Tougane as he sat back and drank down the champagne.
“Someone I knew was also a victim in that case, I went out to drink with your captain to have a talk, to offer if there’s any way I can help, like big people always do … I hadn’t expected something, the captain, he mentioned you, a young detective, he said you refused a very big case about the Yakuza that could get you promoted nicely and famed, instead you asked to be assigned to a cold case with a bummed-out detective. Your captain didn’t get why would you do that, neither have I … You care to tell me why?”
“Why would you want to know that?”
“The case got my attention, the plan, the murders, the affair, the shootout … I’m really disappointed that you haven’t told me this story until now … Officially, you killed one of the main suspects, but I guess a man of your expertise, you didn’t lose another one as the news said, you probably found and had him buried somewhere no knew, am I right?”
Tougane did not say anything but winking once, and that made Shinohara laughed after he understood.
“I’m just curious about that part, where you decided to be assigned in that case and gave up an opportunity of a life that can give you the fortune in your career. Please, tell me.”
Tougane mused about the truth behind that, he did not know why Shinohara would be curious about it, but if telling it would stall and distract Shinohara, Tougane thought it would be worth it.
“That bummed out detective you met, I’ve noticed him that he was in torment for the past months I’ve worked in the same division with him, I heard about him being involved in that cold case. Evidently it was personal to him, days after days it has gone from justice to vendetta, Tsunemori was brewed with anger, and he longed for the payback. I was curious what would it feel like to have that payback, I thought he deserved it, so I helped him.”
“Why would you be curious about such thing?” Shinohara asked.
Tougane was reluctant to admit for a second, but the eyes were looking at him like Shinohara actually cared, all these years things about him were buried away, Tougane did not have a chance to get it out of his chest as much as he wanted. He got carried away and said, “I, too, once longed for a payback … But the people who stole everything from me and left me in pain died before I got a chance, at someone else’s hands. I didn’t get the luxury of having that payback. I was curious, I was dying to know how good it would feel … But when Tsunemori had it, that payback, which I carried out on his behalf, it didn’t help him … So I made my mind and tried to forget it, thinking it was just misfortune in this world that I could happen to have a bad luck of meeting such fate, I just let it go …”
“How did they die? You parents …”
“Thieves killed them and stole from them … It’s just the people, the scum, the kind that think they can do everything to take anything from someone else because they thought it was necessities … If it’s not personal to them, then I shouldn’t take it personal to me. It’s no use to do it.”
“Well, you weren’t wrong about that …” Shinohara boringly remarked.
Tougane was never the one to like talking about his parents but here he did it, he could not resist showing it in his face that there was something he was angry about, even though he believed that angered died a long time ago.
“What’s the matter? Did that spoil the taste of the drink?” Shinohara commented as he noticed Tougane’s stressed face. “That’s Dom Peringo ’60 … I’m sorry our sailor doesn’t keep anything better than that in his fridge.”
“I doubt one can enjoy much when he’s in captive …” Said Tougane to deny the truth behind which he wholeheartedly knew as he scanned his eyes around. “I’m surprised after everything, you would be willingly to sit down and have a drink with me.”
“Hahaha ..” Laughed Shinohara pathetically. “I hope things to be in better ways, but I guess that’s not possible.”
Shinohara sent him to kill someone to provide convenience to the terror plot, and then tried to have him killed to eliminate loose ends. But now, he was still alive. What did Shinohara wanted from him? Tougane wondered. He foiled Shinohara’s plan already, the server units Shinohara attempted to steal from the black site was secured by the backup team …. That was right, Shinohara wanted the server, that was why he attacked the safe house, to find out the location where the server units have been taken to, that was why Tougane was captured, he was to be interrogated for the location which he indeed knew.
“What are you going to do now, Shinohara? Everything was foiled, the attacks, the data you tried to steal … It’s over.” Tougane tried to test out his theory.
“You don’t have to worry about that. There’s always another plan.”
“But really … Totally didn’t expect it all to be fake, a distraction. I thought you had the guts and the conviction to kill innocent lives with your bio weapon …”
“Well, you weren’t wrong about that.” Said Shinohara before he paused with a stare. “Tell me, why did you come after me?”
The answer was clear to Tougane, and it should be clear to Shinohara himself, he thought.
“You posses a weapon of mass destruction, your relation with the Soviet is very … conspicuous …”
“And I have a problem with the state itself, also?” Shinohara added with a doubtful and disdaining tone. “Everything happened because you just happened to find the weapon? And my connection to the Soviet Union? You people are paranoid, connecting the dots … Just because the weapon emerged within your radar, they decided to go on a wild goose chase with me … If I was to be killed, I would have been … My guess is that they went so far and sent you here because they want to find the grand scheme of things behind this, people behind me … What’s the plan? What’s the motive?” Shinohara mockingly sounded ironic.
“Nobody cares about you’re doing it for … You threaten lives, you deserve to be taken down.” Tougane interrupted. “You can speak of how rightful you are and how the city is not, it’s not giving you the right to do everything you have done. Enough of ‘one atrocity’ for the greater good … You’re not justified to force the city on stranglehold with lives on the line because that gave you advantage in your struggle for power with the city …”
“That’s what you think?” Shinohara said with disappointment. “You think this is political?”
“Psychiatric ward is full of men like you, I don’t think it’d be worth my time to listen to another one-”
“But you are so wrong!” Shinohara lashed out. “You don’t even think I deserve to be treated as human … You don’t even want to know why, Tougane …. Taneda Mori … Or whoever you think you are …. Is there anything you want to hear from me? At all …. Well, of course … You heard I was a terrible man, and that’s all you needed, that’s only reason you needed to bugger your way down here … Does it make you feel rightful when you did terrible things as part of plan to stop me? When you killed the men from the authorities, when you sold the arms to breed conflicts around the world?” Shinohara said pitifully, he looked tired to continue speaking. “You may think all of that was to convince me you were on my side, but if I hadn’t known before, I would have wholeheartedly believed so. I knew you were bent …”
“I’m curious … How did you know?”
“You think it’s maybe a mole … but really …. I always did know, before you ever showed up as Taneda Mori back at the party …”
So after all this time, Shinohara knew who Tougane really was and Shinohara did not kill him … Why? Of course, he was being used, in order to get close to Shinohara, Tougane helped Shinohara in disposing the people on his side, the authority that came after him. And then Tougane even ran Shinohara’s operations to divert the attention from the man himself. In the moment Tougane got what he came for, it was Shinohara’s bait, he took it and fed to his people, he fed that lie and misdirection … The plan, the schematic, whatever Shinohara told him and whatever lied in the parcel Tougane got from the safe, it was intentional, Shinohara purposefully misinformed Tougane to give the false intelligence back to his superior. Even he avoided the worst outcome of the situation and managed to foiled what Shinohara intended to do, he still felt like a fool. And he could only laugh at himself while drinking down the champagne to numb that feeling. Even without having to tell, Shinohara understood that by now Tougane came to the grasp of the current state of situation.
“There are things happening within your organization and the city while you’re running out there, killing people as service.” Shinohara added a pause. “Although unofficially, I was the one who came up to your organization and sold them dream and vision of ‘super solider’, the ‘mutagenic enhancement’ as they call it. That’s how I got at your intelligence, the very moment they handed their operatives into my care.”
“Isn’t the virus in the sole possession of the city? How did you get it?” Even how many argument Tougane could think of, it came down to the truth that sometimes one would always be careless with friends whom were on his side, never to think about the possibility that they could be foes until the moment it was too late. Shinohara has foreseen it, he got to the Agency before the whole thing even started.
“With friends in the right place, you can always do anything you want. It wasn’t me in the name, but nevertheless, I owned it.” With a touch of authority, Shinohara continued, “Like I own you … The powers it give you, even not as it’s exaggerated to be. What does it feel like? You can take more hit … Endure more pain … Be more relentless …. The wounds you sustain heal faster ….”
Tougane replied, “I suppose it feels the same way as you do, when you own that virus you weaponized it, it gives you confidence to do things you’re not even sure about.”
“Yeah, you seem to take it for granted as opposed to me … But in the end, the virus didn’t reach the potential everyone had hoped … Not even you, whom they thought is the best to respond to it. Did they tell you that?”
“Hahahaha.” Shinohara looked to be amused. “There are a lot of things they didn’t tell you. For instance, your employer who benefits from taking me out along with the network I’m in, the people I answer to … Tsushio Hisashi, he’s not a fool, yet he sent you to me despite how dangerous it could be … That leaves me a speculation of him already knowing or presuming that I, too, knew who you really were. Of course, he would assure you that in no way your cover was already blown before the operation began, to get you to participate in his plan …”
“Why would he do that? If he knew already that my identity was known to you, sending me gets him nothing.”
The smile has not faded from Shinohara’s face and it worried Tougane. Why the man was so sure? What did he know?
“Because he knows I wouldn’t kill you .. You may think it’s because that I benefitted from you in the way that for you to gain my trust and rise through the rank: you had to kill the people who came after me, the very people on your side, in order to convince me of your allegiance …” Shinohara then stopped as he was struck in uneasiness, a certain feeling that weighted down on him heavily and wiped the mocking smile from his face. “I couldn’t kill you.”
“I don’t understand.” Tougane had one line that genuinely described his reaction.
“You may think you have the justification of coming into my life, takings things which weren’t yours, my wife, my freedom, my chances … I have taught you once before, ‘you must not take what is not yours’, yet now you did it again, but it’s just not your sister’s ice cream you’re taking … Perhaps, you’re too young to remember that … Yes, I may have discovered your identity when I cross-referenced your DNA from the ‘mutagenic enhancement’ program … But before that, I always knew you, Asada Shuji, from the very moment you were born to this world.”
How could he know that? That name, that person, was already a ghost of the past, Tougane left it behind. Not even it was on his dossier, the moment he became Taneda Mori or Tougane Masaru, that name was gone, unrelated to him. “How did you that name? Who are you?” The glass in his hand, his voice, trembled
Here Shinohara talked like he knew Tougane for the whole life of his, here Tougane did not even have the slightest of clue to which who this man was, besides what he was told, a target.
“I have told you many times, about my mentor, the man whom I held respect like my father, the man who eventually gambled everything he had and lost.”
“Yes, but what does that have to do with me ..”
Shinohara looked at Tougane, there was no malicious intention, no calculation, just a deep sense of longing and pity. “That man was your father, Asada Jousuke. I was his disciple, his foster .. I watched you grew up.”
“No … No … I don’t know you, I don’t have any recollection of you …”
“During the time you’re growing up, things between me and your father have fallen apart … I was not there in your life anymore.”
Tougane knew what the man was doing, he was trying to get in Tougane’s head, to manipulate him. “No … You could be anybody, these things could be told to you … You’re lying … What do you want from me-”
There was no change in Shinohara’s expression, he still stood for what he has said. “Your father was a loving and caring man, a father which every son deserves … But as you grew, he was not like that anymore, he was cold, cruel and uncaring of you … Have you ever wondered why? I know more than you could think of.”
“No, you don’t.” Tougane still protested.
“There’s a room in your house, back then. Your father prohibited you from going in there … You were never told why, you wondered that, and nobody told you … Do you want to know why?”
Oh, god. How did he know? Tougane never talked about that to anyone, about the room, which he tried to forget it himself. In this moment it was mentioned, he forgot about everything, the mission, the threat, why he was here. In his head was, the room, the doubt he had for the entire life. His eyes strained and widened, his jaw became heavy, he was blowing hot air from his mouth with anxiety. He never knew the answer to why he was prohibited from that room, even his glance inside the room for small duration did not clarify why, it looked like a normal room as any, it was a person’s bedroom kept tidily.
“It’s your brother’s bedroom, it was his.”
No way, thought Tougane. Nobody in his family mentioned about the brother, there was no sign of his existence, Tougane lived his life throughout period without ever coming across any tell that there was a brother. “I don’t understand, I don’t have a brother … I was the only son, and then there-”
“Your father and mother never told you, they never left anything that ever hinted that you have an older brother ..”
“Why … Why would they do that?”
“Because you would be curious about why you can’t see him …” Shinohara said it and swallowed his overflowing saliva with the pain he seemed to have. “They didn’t want you to see your brother … They were afraid it was going to make scared. And they didn’t want to speak of it, to you, they wanted to pretend he did not exist ….. Your brother, Asada Katsuo, he was in Nagasaki when the atomic bomb fell … He had radiation poisoning, it rendered him bed-ridden and hideous, they did not want you to see him in that way … Katsuo, he spent the last of his years, suffering in that room …Every day your father watched the brightest and the most beloved son of his slowly dying, he sank into madness. Your father couldn’t handle it when Katsuo died, he still pretended like Katsuo was alive … He cleaned the room and kept everything in the same place as it was, he visited the room like Katso was alive … It was the beginning of everything … ”
There came his answer, but it was just that … Tougane could not see how did it have to do more than just being the room which held his parent’s painful memory. “The beginning of what?”
“Sin of our father.” Said Shinohara. “His legacy … He desperately searched for a way to cure and saved his son from the inevitable death even his son was long gone, he still continued doing so. One day a tale of the local tribe in Africa came to him, the flowers housing something which gave man power, longevity, sustainability … The base form of the very virus you chased after, the one which flows in your vein … It was his work, I worked with help in a hope that the day he succeeded, he would be freed from the prison he locked himself in. But it never came …. It was the very reason why you never saw me again until now … He had sunk in the madness so deep he could not tell what was right or wrong … What makes you think you’re the most compatible one with the virus above all people who are being tested? It’s simple, your body has more time than any of those participant’s ever had in adapting to the virus in the past three decades. That’s right, your father experimented on you, I protested against it, he repelled and rejected me from his life, things have fallen between us, apart from work, I never had any chance to be with him … Many subjects before you fell prone to aggression and violence, it forces the subject to respond acutely according his mindset … It made you what you are today, Shuji-kun. You though you chose, but no, you didn’t even have a chance to. Everything began from that day you father has gone too far, it’s why we’re here … As it did send you here, so did it do to me … Everything has a reason. You think you just happened to find yourself to be a blood-thirsty hound that they used you to hunt down others … They made you into one, Shuji-kun. Our fate was forced upon …”
Tougane felt conflicting from inside, Shinohara was trying to use his personal matter to get to him, everything might have been true, but the reason Shinohara was telling Tougane was because it would be easier for him to handle when he had Tougane scrambled from on the inside.
Tougane tried to suppress his pounding heart and calm his breathe, he tried to focus, the very reason Shinohara was sitting before him and telling these things was that Shinohara wanted to break him from the inside. As long as he kept that in mind, he would not get lost in the maze Shinohara forced him to walk through. “That’s a bit of stretch to say … You’re blaming everything on that? You’re saying it’s the reason that led you to do what you have done?” He gathered the reasoning and tried to shove Shinohara away. “I made my own choice, Shinohara … You, too, made your own choice, nobody forced you to do it.”
“And when did you make that choice? When your parents died?”
“My parents’ death has nothing to do with the choice I made later on. They died for being in the wrong place, in an unfortunate circumstance, a bad luck and that’s it. It doesn’t have to do with ‘we were forced to do this’ crap …”
“No!” Shinohara raised his voice. “What if that was pre-determined? What if it’s the fate that was written …”
“They were killed by thieves, they were in a bad place, it doesn’t have to do with any nonsense you’re saying …”
“Shuji-kun …” Shinohara drawled his voice heavily. “Your parents were assassinated …”
“No … They told me that it was-”
“Your father was going to the American with the research of the virus when he could not get the conditions he wished for from Academy City, the city could not risk losing the researches into its competitor’s hand …”
“How could you know that!?”
“Because I was the one who got your parents killed.”
If there were an edge he was standing, Tougane had then fallen from it to what seemed to be a bottomless pit, a void with the gravity, ready to pummel him when he came into contact with something.
So his life was not his choice? Tougane had always thought he had a choice, even through hardship and the unfortunate of events that deprived him of the path and options he deserved, he thought he had and found a choice.
The man who claimed to be responsible for his family’s death, was sitting before him … Everything Tougane had heard from the man … He did not know what to do with it, what to speak of it, what to think of it …. His face became numb, he could no longer control what he wanted to express anymore …
Was that all to get Tougane to be vulnerable? Tougane questioned himself. But why was the man before him looked to be in the same pain rather than triumph.
Shinohara closed his eyes like he never wished to open it again, he shook his head like this was not the truth he should be in …
“I didn’t want to kill them, Shuji-kun … That’s not what I wanted, that’s not what they promised me … I betrayed your father and handed the city the research because they promised they wouldn’t a finger on any of the Asadas … The Academy City was the first place he went to, he didn’t like their conditions, your father knew they would weaponize it. So he went to the American, they promised him they wouldn’t use his research for that purpose, your father trusted their lie, at some point they would kill him if they had to – to get him out of the way ….. I told him he made a wrong decision, he didn’t listen to me. I did what I thought I had to. I contacted the city, I made the offer I would hand the research to them and that I would continue that research myself as they wished. I didn’t know they would kill him. I didn’t know they would do this to you, little brother. I had thought they would have killed your father any way if he had gone to the American with the research, so I did it to save your family, how naïve I was …. They couldn’t risk your father causing them more losses. The city didn’t keep their end of bargain, they had you family killed and covered it up, they hired a local cartel to ambush your father’s convoy …. Who do you think provided the cartel the route, the time … The instructions were to kill your parents, recover the samples of the virus your father was extracting from the site and …. To spare you … The mercenaries the city hired to rescue you also had another hidden agenda, to recover the sample and wiped out the cartel to prevent the truth from being exposed, those mercenaries were even on site before the cartel struck your family … It’s all planned … You were spared, not lucky – spared – because they knew about you having been experimented with the virus, so they could study and monitor how it progressed and reacted with you. The mercenaries whom you thought to raise you and train you as a comrade before you were recruited by the city, they were collecting data in your performance in the field on the order of the city. That very moment that young boy, Asada Shuji, pained, angry, because everything in his life was stolen from him, he ran away from the world he belonged to … And became something else …”
Shinohara was saddened when spoke of the truth which pierced Tougane like a sharp blade, but he too was hurt when he grabbed the other end of the blade and cut himself with the same pain. He reached in his jacket and brought something out, a notebook, a small plain notebook, and he handed the notebook Tougane.
“I should have been there when you needed me, I was too ashamed, too afraid ….” Shinohara uncomfortably spoke. “Your classmate, Kanade, I still remember that name … I went to your school as soon as you torched your home and ran away from it. She gave me this notebook.”
Tougane took the notebook, he fearfully flipped through the pages, not afraid of the things he was seeing but the thing he was about to see, the last page … The oracle his last shard of humanity predicted one day he would become.
“A boy whom was abandoned by the world, without help, care and love, this gave birth the monster from beneath his fleshes …” Shinohara retold the word he heard from Kanade. “But that’s not I want to believe you are … That’s not I want to think that you are …”
The great red monster.
“Why are you doing this? Why are you telling me these things? Shinohara …” The notebook fell off his hands.
“Can’t you see it? The Academy City, they were the thief who stole everything from us, from our life. The more I served them, the more I saw them, one day I knew they must pay for it … But you, you didn’t have the chance to know the truth, you served them, you served the very people who took everything from you … I’m giving you back that right, Shuji-kun.” Shinohara got up from the chair and pressed his hand heavily on Tougane’s shoulder. “All I ever wanted was to have my family back, your father whom I loved like my own father back. I wanted them back but that’s impossible. Your family took care of me and loved me like I was their own, I was grateful for that and I would do anything to protect them. The Americans took my family when they dropped that bomb on Nagasaki, they were killed in a blink of an eye. I thought I had another chance when you father took me in, but then it was taken from me ….. Your father died along with your terminally-ill brother, his living appendages were meant to just pursue his whim of saving your brother. Your brother died before he could find the mean to cure. He was doing it for naught, even that he had a good intention. But many good intentions in the face of history have hurt lives, like when they dropped the bomb on Nagasaki to end the war, there were ways to end the war, but they chose this and they must live with its consequence, so did your father …. So do I …. You can see, that bomb took away your father like it took him away from me. Have you had any recollection that he ever spent time with you? From when you’re born to his death, all he did was work and do anything to fund and keep his research going. Little brother, we’re the abandoned sons of his, we deserved to have him but they took him away from us. The American did indeed take his soul, but it was the Academy City who took his living fleshes, they both will pay one day, this is why I work so hard to have that absolute power that can threaten any living being on this planet. Politics and the world occurrences, power play, economy, they drive nation to do things and many of them are horrible things, it happens, it repeats, it causes collateral damages, we suffer it. The only way we can avoid the collateral damages is to hold that absolute power in our hand, the biggest stick that scares every dog away like when I protected you from the pack of dogs which surrounded us in that day … This is the peace in our time, the only peace we can ever get in this world. I’m saddened that the world turned you into a monster, I wished you could have a normal life as your family would have wanted. I’m saddened you stood for the wrong people. But I’m never angered and I never hate you. I still don’t hate you now after all you did to me. This empire, this power you have helped me built in the past months when we worked together, it’s meant to be ours. And we can now use it take back everything that belongs to us, to take back that right.”
“So you’re saying you’re going to target the city and destroy it because you want revenge?”
“It’s not just about revenge … Shuji-kun … It’s about the life we deserved to have … AND THEY TOOK IT AWAY FROM US!!!!” Shinohara burst into tears and he fell to his knee. “THEY TOOK EVERYTHING I EVER LOVED FROM ME!!!” He cried out. Shinohara looked back at Tougane with pain in his eyes, and nothing but pain. “It hurts me to know when they found you in Africa, after the death of everyone in your family … When they asked you … You kept saying you never had a sister, and despite any proof, you refused to believe she existed … Did you really forget about her!? Or is it too painful to admit that you lost her too? How could you dare do that to her? Why are you trying to forget her?”
That had shaken Tougane, his mouth gaped speechlessly with only air coming out of it.
“I knew how close you were with her …. Shuji-kun, they took the woman we loved away from us … Would you forgive them that? WOULD YOU FORGIVE THEM THAT!?”
The glass shattered on impact as Shinohara threw it away, all of his hands were holding on to Tougane’s shoulders, they shook his shoulders like a tremor. Even Tougane tried to remain a boulder, but a boulder was not enough to sustain the force of the tremor, and it began to crack from inside.
“SAY THAT YOU REMEMBER HER! SAY THAT YOU REMEMBER ASADA AIKO!”
Last edited by Tougane Masaru on Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
- Chapter 24: The woman they loved:
- Where was she been all his life? It was the question Tougane wondered, but he never dare ask, he never dare attempt to look for the answer. He buried her long ago, her love, her kindness, her bravery. He knew in no way again he could ever have the fortune to feel it, so he chose to forget it, along with the existence of her which reminded how weak and how incompetent of a man he was.
The frantic man called Shinohara Satoshi was shaking him like Shinohara was trying to snap him out of delusion.
What delusion? To what reality that awaited for him?
The painful one?
“SHUJI-KUN! THEY’RE THE ENEMY! YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO SERVE THEM!!!”
Shinohara backed off from Tougane tiredly.
“We can still make them pay for what they did …. Just give me the location of the server units, those contain the information they could put the city years back … It will disrupt the power balance they have right now … We can change it, after this, the people I answer to will-”
The air of anger was blowing in Tougane’s face as Shinohara panted and pled him.
All of this, the story, the connections, his past, it was to get Tougane to break his boundary and give up the information. Shinohara was using that to break him …
“No, I won’t give you that, Shinohara …”
“Why? Is it duty you’re following? Please, Shuji-kun, I need to know where the server units are …”
Tougane was ready to give another word of persistence, by there came a sharp tearing noise, the knife flashed from Shinohara’s hand and stabbed quickly down on Tougane’s thigh blade deep in his fleshes.
“ARRRGH!” Tougane launched himself up with pain but the two henchmen from behind locked him and pinned him down on the chair.
“Shuji-kun … FUCK!!!” Shinohara stared to lose it. “Why won’t you understand … It’s for them, for your father, your mother, your sister … this is our chance …”
“Don’t use them as an excuse!”
“Goddamn it!” Shinohara picked up the bottle of champagne and rinsed over where the knife stabbed on Tougane’s leg which caused him to jerk back in pain. “Why won’t you see the truth … You’re not going to tell me the location of the server units, no matter what reason I give, right?”
“You’re …. Right ….” Said Tougane as he fought the pain.
“We can whack your balls into mash, skin ever of your limb and you won’t talk, because you’re trained to be that stupidly loyal to your organization … Fine.” He fiercely said. “You know when champagne is meant to be drunk?”
“Celebration or romance …” Tougane palely replied.
“Celebration, about today’s events, possibly. Romance? Hmm … I’d say that also applies.”
Shinohara walked to the container box and pulled the cloth which draped and covered it out.
It was a large thick sealed glass box, with a woman tied to a chair on the inside, her mouth gagged with a piece of cloth. Beside her was a canister tank with a nozzle.
“The box was a left over when we used to demonstrate the virus’ capability for people here to see. And the woman? Isn’t she the woman we both love? Or perhaps not …”
There lied a woman, she was Shinohara Rie, she was crying with fear for her life.
“What are you going to do, Shinohara? Have you lost your mind? She’s your wife!”
“Was it beneficial for you to get her on your side or were you just having her because she has a reminiscence of a certain someone?” Shinohara could not hide that insanity that grew in him anymore, it showed in his face, in every time he uttered every word. “Anyway ….. I don’t believe you to be a heartless monster as you make yourself to be. But here we’re going to see, if that’s true or not.” Shinohara reached down his pocket and brought out a control switch, he pressed it. “You have to 30 seconds to determine whether the life of that woman is worth enough for you to give the location of the server units. After the time limit, if you haven’t made your mind, the virus will be released into her chamber, and I must warn you, it’s the old variant, it does take another good two minutes for her to suffer and then die.”
Tougane knew well the data in those server units could collapse the state which called ‘Academy City’ within a day the moment it was released, he recalled how serious Tsushio looked when he knew it was being stolen. No way would it be acceptable that he could give that information up. Was the woman worth much in comparison with the data? He was quick to make his mind that it was not acceptable to reveal the information. He knew duty has no sweetheart. If he wished to save her, he had to do it other way.
Tougane tried to break free from the hold of two henchmen who locked tight by his arms, bu no avail.
“Damn it! That’s your wife, how could you do that?”
“She means nothing to me.” Shinohara heartlessly said. “I thought I loved her …. But I just loved the looks of her, if you look carefully, you may notice that’s what your sister would have looked like if she hadn’t died. But Rie is nothing like your sister, your sister is irreplaceable. I hardly feel anything for this woman anymore. I couldn’t say the same for you, and for her, she seemed to really like you, when I asked her, she already got a plan to run away with you … But then again, this isn’t her first time, there was another man, but he’s gone now.”
Damn it, Tougane could not think of any way to free himself from the hold and stopped the device from activating. The cavalry was not even here yet, he could no longer wait.
Rie was staring back frantically, with dread and hope of which Tougane would save her.
“Please, Shinohara ..”
“You know how to stop it …”
Tougane fell in silence, he had eighteen seconds left. He needed to do something.
“Tell her it’s going to be okay, Shuji-kun. Don’t you want to comfort her? She’s dying in there, be supportive.”
“DAMN IT!” The stronger Tougane tried to squirm, the harder the henchmen put him down on hold. There was a knife stuck in his leg, he could use that but he needed to free his hands first. How? Tougane tried to look for his opportunity.
“How many people are you going to kill to stop me, Shuji-kun? Isn’t there enough blood on your hand right now?”
“That’s on you …”
“Ask yourself does it feel so …”
The clock kept ticking, he had no more than 10 seconds.
Shinohara walked up to the glass chamber, and touched his hand on the glass. “My dear, he’s going to let you die, you know that?”
Rie began to writhe desperately from her binding as death was going to take her.
“Any last word you want to tell her?”
“Goddamn it, think about her son, Shinohara …. Stop this ….”
‘BIB’, the timer rang, and the blue gas sprung from the nozzle, slowly obscuring the room in the mist.
Tougane could still sense desperate and painful struggle from the light vibration in that chamber.“DAMN ITT!!!!” He squirmed as hard as he could, but that only got him to fall from the chair.
“Bring him up.” Said shinohara coldly as he walked back to Tougane. Then the two henchmen dragged Tougane up.
“I was really wrong about you, Shuji-kun. You didn’t really care about her. Was there any second that you thought you would have to give up the location to save her?” Shinohara asked. “What’s so damn important about the data in there?”
Tougane did not reply in words, he only glared back angrily.
“Fine … I guess I’ll just do whatever I can do right now, I dreamed of forcing Academy City to live in shame through for the rest of its lifespan in the eyes of other states …. But okay, just the complete decimation of the city is fine by me.” Shinohara half-heartedly said. “There’s not enough time to get the server units and the data in there.”
“What do you mean by that, Shinohara!?”
“This incident, people who stand behind me expect it to be an attempt of a coup, the part they’re relying on is to extort the city with the stolen data … They all thought, the weapon was just for a show, to scare them. But you know what, you were right … I do have the convictions to have the innocent blood on my hands. No matter what or when, or how, of the discussion between the board members end, I’ll fire the missiles loaded with virus toward the city anyway … You can’t change a system that rotten again, you instigate a coup, you place in the people who are the very same to the one who make the city the way it is … There’s no way we can change its nature. This is the end of it.”
“Goddamn it, do you know how insane does that sound?
“I live my whole life in pain, it’s about time they have to pay …”
Even if the city reclaimed the air defense installations back right now, the turrets were destroyed already in the moment those installations were attacked, the city was still vulnerable to the attack from the air right now.
“The submarine is already in the dock and loaded with enough missiles to plunge the city into outbreak and epidemic, after that, it will up to the people of the diet in Japanese government and Washington to decide if it’s time to erase the city off the map.”
Shinohara has gone completely lunatic, it was not the cold calculating man anymore who pulled the trigger, it was a crazed and desperate man who hungered for revenge.
Yet, the last of his humanity showed its glimpse, Shinohara tenderly reached his hand out to Tougane’s face.
“What am I going to do with you, Little brother ….”
Suddenly, the humming roar got louder and louder behind the concrete wall to their side. They all turned to where the noise came in wonder.
And came the crackle as the wall being rammed through by an armored truck, concrete dust permeated everywhere.
One henchman left Tougane to cover Shinohara with his gun drawn and tried to move out of danger, he was being dragged to the gate by the other henchman who held a gun against his head.
The armored truck door opened and jumped down the short stature in the cloud of dust.
Two burst came from the dusted cloud and the henchman who was covering Shinohara fell dead, causing Shinohara to scuttle to the exit. The one with Tougane as his shield turned to where the fire came, and shouted, “Don’t come closer, or he’s dead!” Tougane felt the hard jerk from the end of the barrel.
Through the dusted cloud, was Franz who came to rescue, he kept his assault rifle toting toward the henchman who held Tougane hostage and his head behind Tougane’s, leaving Franz no immediate window to shoot. From the frame of his sight, he caught Shinohara getting away.
“Shoot Shinohara! Do it!” Tougane urged him to. “Do whatever it takes even you have to kill me!”
Franz was not moving the barrel toward Shinohara, he still kept it aiming in the same direction, at the thug who hid behind Tougane’s frame, as Shinohara was getting away. The moment he drew the barrel toward Shinohara, that thug would draw his gun on Franz, if he were to shoot Shinohara, he had to shoot the thug first and risk killing Tougane.
Of course, Tougane understood that, his words clearly implicated that.
“Come on! He’s more important, don’t let him get away!”
Tougane have reiterated times how many times how important it was to stop Shinohara, even Tougane had said it himself that his life was insignificant. But how thoroughly did Franz have to follow it? He wondered.
Was it easy to follow that order to its heart content?
Though these hands which held the rifle were unshaken, inside was atremble, it was beyond reluctance in Tougane’s extreme attitude, it was disproof and disapproval. Franz still persisted to remain his gun still and waited for the clear shot to take out the thug, rather than doing what Tougane wished he do. He looked into Tougane and assured he would not take the drastic action Tougane suggested.
Tougane gritted and shook in his opposition, but it has not changed Franz’s mind in anyway. Tougane was then pushed to the edge and believed he had to take matter into his own hands despite knowing the line between failure and success was thin as the tool to put his struggle away jammed harder on his temple.
Tougane groped from the knife that stuck in his thigh and pulled it out to stab the henchman in his leg. As the henchman flinched his trigger finger in pain and fired away, Tougane bent out of the way as the deafening gunfire missed his head, Franz pulled the trigger and accurately landed his shot on the henchman’s face.
As falling to his knees, Tougane took commandeered of the henchman’s gun and turned back with gun aiming, Shinohara had left. He chased through the exit to outside, already Shinohara got on a car and his men drove him away as Tougane fired at them.
But the car did not stop and sped away to the docking hangar ahead where it hid the submarine under its roof and enclosed space.
“Are you okay?” The boy asked Tougane.
In which he irately turned and yelled, “WHY DIDN’T YOU SHOOT HIM!?”
“I was trying to save you …”
“Damn it! That was your priority and you blew it … Now he got away, he’s going to launch the missiles from the sub … The attack isn’t over yet … Arrgh!”
Tougane angrily looked back inside where there was a clouded glass chamber.
“What’s the matter, Tougane?”
“Nothing … She means nothing to me.”
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
- Chapter 25: Race against the serpent:
- 1713 hoursFranz departed from the backup team to come for Tougane after receiving the location from Tsushio as the rest of the team was trying to move the server units away from Shinohara’s men.
A certain dock;
There was no time to wait for reinforcement, both Tougane and Franz took control the armored truck and chased after Shinohara.
“Alert the navy, tell them to zero in on Shinohara’s dock in Minato.” That was his word to Tsushio before Tougane hung up.
There was a slim chance that the Japanese Self Defense Naval force would move in and find the stealth submarine in time once it submerged under water. And by the look of it, the submarine was ready to move out.
Tougane pulled the tie out off his neck and bound it around his wound on the thigh to stop the bleeding before he reached for the bag behind his seat for the plastic explosives and loaded the Browning High Power Franz gave him with a few spare magazines.
“We’re close, Tougane.” Franz spoke as he steadied the wheel.
Through the windshield, the dock hanger was only a hundred meters away.
“We can’t lose him this time.” Tougane’s voice did not invite more questions.
His hand gripped the gun tight and braced for impact.
The armored truck tore the door into the submarine dock, Franz had no intention in stepping on the brake until the armored truck shove down in the water beside the parking submarine.
The truck began to sink further down into water, the water stormed in through the window as Tougane held on tight before he let himself sink into the abyss of thoughts.
Why was it important to stop Shinohara right now, because lives would be lost if he did not? Was it the duty that he intended to follow till the end? Was it for the lost lives not to be in vain? Or was it personal?
None of that was answered.
His thought of getting Shinohara was animalistic, instinct, necessity, beyond that, nothing was thought of.
Tougane intended to be the machine they used to do what was necessary as he always was, despite of the revelation that he was told with …
Why Tougane? Why?
He ignored the voice of his humanity which was locked deep inside.
All it mattered was before his eyes and not in his mind.
The air from the submarine’s ballast tanks blasted on the surface of water as it was starting to submerge as it was moving forward.
Tougane grabbed the bag of plastic explosive tightly in his hand that he would use to blast the hatch and swam out of the truck to board on this deadly beast in the water.
The typhoon class submarine was hindered under the depth of northern Tokyo bay, heading south and almost reaching the point it could launch ballistic missiles toward Academy City which was at the west of Tokyo. It would take about twelve seconds for the missile to reach the city and detonate over it, the feared scenario of biohazard epidemic from the exposure of the virus would become true.
The navy fleet from Yokosuga was eight minutes away from the said location of the submarine, although even if it reached the location and the missiles have not launched by then, it would take longer than they could have to find the stealth submarine deep underneath until it was too late.
Franz readied his assault rifle as they trekked through the missile silo, swinging back and forth to see it was clear for now, he lowered his rifle and turned to Tougane who leaned to the metal rail with tiredness.
“You okay?” The boy asked.
“Not as worse as it looks.” Said Tougane, unsympathetically and dishonestly. “I’ve been worse.” He insisted. The sea water that had filled in his wound on the leg was definitely ascribed as a hurtful ache, but on his face was an immense pain far worse that brewed longer that the wound he was just inflicted and has been enduring it.
“There’s no time, I don’t think I can sabotage the wiring in the silo in time without attracting Shinohara’s men.” Tougane brusquely spoke the fact, even he could bypass into the missile silo’s system, it would take too long for him to disable all of it. “We neither have the ordnance to damage the warheads …” Tougane gazed intensely over Franz’s shoulder to the end of the silo. “But there’s still a way …”
“What is it?”
“We’re going to sink this submarine.” Tougane said indifferently before he nodded to the direction he was looking. “That should be the torpedo room. We can use the torpedo to warn the approaching naval force, when the torpedo goes on their radar, they’ll see the trajectory and find this submarine.”
“Head into the torpedo room, since we’re heading south, so fire ahead. It’ll be on the direction where the naval force is coming from. Fire once per a minute, when they find this submarine, you go straight to the escape pod and bail.”
“What about you?”
“I’m going to the control room, there are chances Shinohara will fire the missiles before the naval force arrives, I’ll try to keep them occupied until you can get the torpedoes on their radar.”
“What if you don’t make it …” The boy showed his worry. Franz knew Tougane could fight, but as weakened and outnumbered as he was, letting him venture into the danger alone could get him killed.
“Tsushio knows about where the FRELIMO’s officer is being held … I’m sorry about forcing you to go through these things because I lured you with what you want … You’ve done enough … As soon as the bombarding starts, you can go … It’s more than what I should have asked from you already …”
Tougane completely missed the point, that was not what Franz had meant.
“Stop it .. It’s not … It’s not about that …” Franz could not comprehend whether this was ignorance or coldness. What would it take Tougane to understand he did not come so far just for that … “Tougane, you're getting yourself killed ..."
Tougane looked back uncomfortably nonchalant and said, "That's the essence of what I do. I was supposed to be dead at least twice today, when the car crashed and when the gun was pointing at my head, the last time could have put an end to all of this, you should have killed Shinohara when you had the chance even my life was at risk. It wasn't worth the price." His tonality inferred great disappointment when Franz misjudged the situation, wasting time to save Tougane instead of taking the bloody shot at Shinohara. "I chose you because I thought you had that ruthlessness, of which could do anything to just accomplish one thing you were supposed to, I thought you were like me ... I hadn't accounted that you would hesitate and let me compromise what we had to do."
Concluded; Tougane then turned back and started to head through the tight hallway of the silo, to what could possibly be his death.
"Sorry." Franz's utterance had Tougane stop after walking a few feet away. And Tougane has yet to turn but Franz decided to continue nevertheless. "Sorry that I wasn't someone you were looking for ... Sorry that I was the wrong one for the job ..."
And that had sounded like all he had to speak; rather sarcastic than honest for an apology in the tone but the boy bore no mockery on his face.
"But you know ..." He further said. "I didn't make it this far because I was a heartless and ruthless son of a bitch ... The other boys under my command whom I lost didn't follow me because they feared me ... They trusted me, they knew I got their back and they got mine. Brothers in arm; that's what I'm supposed to do."
Unflinchingly, unresponsively, the man remained still for a second before turning with a glimpse of wonder in his face like he had found of something he has forgotten but then that shut in prematurely as he said:
"When it starts, leave, save yourself."
The metal slugs rained on the door to torpedo room as Shinohara’s men tried to break in, behind the barricaded door was Franz.
With the dead bodies in the room, Franz has taken it over to himself.
He began launching the first torpedo, arbitrarily from the control room’s approval. It was the very reason Shinohara’s men were attracted to here.
The location of which the first torpedo was heading was toward the navy fleet on the south side of Tokyo bay.
After the launch of the first torpedo, Franz readied his assault rifle and turned toward the door that was being breaking in.
He was waiting for another minute to launch the second torpedo.
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
- Chapter 26: Wake me up when The September ends:
- In dark room lit with monitors which fell under the atmospheric claustrophobia under the depth of sea each time the pressuring water ran against the hull from outside, making a sound like a gulp of leviathan, giving Shinohara uneasiness as he trailed his eyes on the ceiling along with the sensation. His eyes brought back down and caught a glimpse of the dial phone which was used for receiving command laid within reach of his hand on the control panel. Tougane's dried blood on his fingertips scraped off onto the phone handle as he lightly touched it with unfathomable compulsion and hesitation as if it was ringing to inform him of a certain bad news.
It was not ringing now, but Shinohara remembered it well how haunting it was when it did.September 1960
The phone was plucked from its cradle after its tremulous ring. His hand clenched it tightly with anxiety. In the past hours after a missed appointment at the airport when the Asadas were supposed to arrive from Africa, without any explanation, he anticipated the news worriedly.
"What happened?" Shinohara quickly inquired.
The other end of the line did not immediately replied with words, but the swallow of saliva gave off that the matter the speaker had to said was a mouthful and heavy at his heart to speak.
“The convoy the Asadas were on … it was ambushed by the local bandits after they left the village two days ago.” The caller sounded nothing but discouraged to speak. "I'm sorry, Satoshi-kun. They're gone ... Only the boy, Shuji, has made it."
"Are you sure? There are a lot of Japanese personnel on site, you could've mixed them up ...." Shinohara tried to rationalize for the possibility under the influence of false hope.
"We found the bodies ...." The line was quiet before the caller further spoke. "We'll manage the transportation of their bodies .."
"Please do." Shinohara's voice was emotionless – or more likely, lifeless, when his chest was filled with heaviness. The phone felt heavy in his hand, the body felt weightless as he lightly pivoted and plunged back.
When a man arrives before and is waiting for an appointment with his dearest, his mind begins to imagine and dwell how fascinating and happy the very next moment with his dearest is going to be. But what would his response be when he is informed that his dearest has met with an accident and passed away on the way to the appointment?
His first reaction would be the numbness, the seconds later he realizes and reiterates it to himself, he would deny the reality until that illusion he created out of soothing lies shattered in his own hands.
Shinohara had laid out his dreamy wishes in the presence of his mind. There were scenes of joy he could see before they happened. Every possibility and occurrence have made him sure that his heart would not be broken because in no way he would imagine they could not be true, he let himself slip into that euphoria.
But when he realized those scenes could only exist in his head.
His hope became lies that he told himself they would become true.
And then there were not anymore; joy, hope and the life ahead sank into the pitch-black vision of hereafter when his chance was robbed and stolen from him.
"The boy will be on the first flight back to Japan as soon as the people from Academy City brought him to us."
But amidst of denial and unsettling grief, doubt and confusion arose when Shinohara heard the word.
"From Academy City? Why are they there?"
"They came as soon as they were informed. I thought you already knew ..." The caller confusedly answered.
"Why would I ..."
"They told me you contacted them-"
"I .. did .. not .." Shinohara stuttered when he attempted to unravel the entangled mind. Even his statement was qualm, he was more than sure that he did not inform them since the incident has occurred, even if he were to do it, he did not know what would be the reason he contacted them. “It’s not possible that I have contacted them, I remember. I don’t see why they would- Unless …” He cut off his own sentence and the flow of thoughts as a foulest of clue came up in his mind.
Relevantly in the cloaking irrelevance to the caller, Shinohara asked out of sudden, “There was a package with vials, registered as vaccines, were they there among the wreckage in the convoy when you found them?”
“No. All the containers the convoy was carrying were taken, they were neither found at the bandit’s hideout when the people from Academy City went there. Supposedly, the bandits must have tossed them away when they found no use in those containers. The contractors who were on the site reported that the container were emptied in the vicinity of the compound.”
Although it was a possibility, Shinohara was certain it was the opposite. If the bandits found no use in them, why would they bother taking the containers in the first place? Unless they knew exactly what to take. In the silence he left hanging without response, he could not even put the assumption that began to unravel in his head into comprehensible words.
"I understand that it's now a hard time for you since this tragic incident has happened, I think you should get some rest, Satoshi-kun." The caller, for how comprehending and caring he tried to sound, made it clear in his tone and reply that Shinohara may have lost awareness of present, and that he may have forgotten even the simplest or the most recent matter.
But Shinohara knew better.
"It's not just a tragic incident." He abruptly pressed the switch on the cradle to cut the call.
The perpetrator was indeed a thief, Shinohara knew it right away it was not just the local bandits.
His finger then went to spin the dial for the number he knew which. The dial came to each number vehemently.
“Yes?” It was the nonchalant voice of the man who represented Academy City, the man who came to visit him in this room he was in. “Who is this?”
“You son of a bitch, I know it’s you … You promised me nothing would happen to the Asadas, it was why in the first place I agreed to steal the researches and handed them to you …” Shinohara burst in anger. “THEN WHAT THE HELL DID YOU JUST DO TO THEM!? YOU FUCKING MURDERED THEM!”
“CALM DOWN!” The man emphasized with his firm rough voice, repentantly, remorselessly. “I’m not held responsible by any means to the recent incident. As in fact, that incident was a tragedy that happened untimely and unexpectedly.”
Shinohara angrily panted through the phone until he gathered enough conscious … “Your people were there on site – on the pretext that I was the one who requested assistance … I barely knew anything until the situation was resolved by your men, there’s no way I was the one who informed you for help. And I bet- I bet, the samples of the virus are gone …. You, I know it’s you. Quit bullshitting. There’s no way you would be aware of the situation until it was very late, there’s no way you could mobilize in this fast and neutralize the situation …. Except, you were aware beforehand that something was going to happen.”
The man then sheepishly laughed.
Shinohara continued to berate the man who remained in absence of words. “I handed you everything, wasn’t that enough for what you want? Wasn’t that enough for you to leave the Asadas alone? You piece of shit …”
“Were you aware that Professor Asada made change of his flight during his week-stay in Africa? We had people everywhere, including in his organization.” The cold voice of the man was confident of his fact which even obscured to Shinohara until now. “He was going to leave for America in departure from Africa instead of coming back to Japan. You know what that means, Shinohara-kun. I trust that we have warned the professor of his mistaken decision before he committed to it and persisted. I seriously doubted that he took our warning as serious as he was supposed, clearly when he changed the flight plan. For security reasons, due to unimaginable outcome if the samples of the virus and the researches were to fall into wrong hands, we had to-”
“Murder him.” Condemned Shinohara. “I was a fool to trust your lies …”
“The final decision did not lie solely on me, the others had – a different judgment. I endeavored to stand for what I bargained for you but it was out of my power to decide the fate. But you should be glad about one thing.”
“What could I possibly be glad about?” Shinohara sarcastically retorted.
“You’re still fine, unscathed, despite you are the only loose end left.” The man, in all calamity that just happened, continued to cheerily spoke. “Don’t you think there’s a reason for that?”
Shinohara could not come with an answer and thus murmured a wordless sound.
“Professor Asada may have not valued you as much as he should have. But the people in the Academy City do acknowledge your competence, and in this particular research. It’s true we’re now in the possession of the samples and the researches, but we have yet to employ someone who quite has familiarity with the project. They want you to continue working on this virus. My advice, you should take it, not a lot of people get this kind of opportunity, the Academy City is a place of endless possibility, it can give you what you want. Don’t feel bad about what just has happened, take everything you can from the situation while you can. To the eyes of the Academy City, you’re not the loyal servant of Asada, you’re Judas, you did betray them. But as long as our interest aligns, we have no problem in collaborating together.”
“You want me to work for the city, after what has just happened?”
“Yes, think about it. We’re expecting another call from you, Shinohara-kun.”
The line went off without further warning.
Shinohara let go off the phone in his hand and fell down.
He expected cry but coming out from him was a maniac laugh. Hands held his head between, wondering he was starting to lose himself in that madness.
His laugh lasted until it was coarse and wetted with tears flooding out for how long he did not know.
The thief stole everything from him, a man whom he loved like his father, a mother who cherished him like her own son, a woman he endeared and hoped to grow old together with, the innocence of a boy whom was like a little brother to him and his own future and dream, torn apart to pieces.
And yet the thief dare cut his share and hand it to him, telling him to enjoy it.
What did he do to deserve this?
It was not fair that he branded to be despicable as the thief was.
It was not fair that he had to harbor this anger alone.
What right did they have to steal everything he deserved to have?
“Give it back, that was mine ….”
‘…. the Academy City is a place of endless possibility, it can give you what you want.” That was the line the thief has spoken and continued to ring in his head like that haunting phone call.
Shinohara began to chuckle madly again as he slowly rose with the phone handle in his hand.
The laugh ended when he finished dialing the number, his eyes were filled with grimly-burning glare.
When the line connected, he was not hesitated to speak.
“Well, I’ve been thinking … If I take the offer, I suppose I can get what I want …”
The distant gunfire from outside tensed the men in the control room immensely, meaning it was the time for paranoid hands to be clutching at their weapon, and thus the armed contractor have drawn out their gun as would Shinohara who scavenged the leftover from the submarine’s previous crews or officers, it was a long steel baton rod that gave off a queer resonance alike the bell when he ticked it on the metal compartment of the control panel.
The baton in his hand reminded him of the stick he once used to protect both Aiko and Shuji from the vicious dogs, all he had was just a simple blunt object and sheer will to do what he had to, and those alone overcame the odds. But as days gone by, the cost of what he had to do to protect which and whom he held dear went up so high that he could not keep up with.
“Sir, one of our torpedoes was manually fired from torpedo room.” His man gave off the situational report.
“Bloody hell, the navy fleet will pick our location when the torpedo makes it to their radar. How soon can we be ready?”
“30 seconds, sir.”
It was clear to Shinohara that if their submarine came up on the naval force’s radar, it would then be impossible to slip away from the bay.
But he had not thought that far, not that he was careless, but rather his ultimate intention was merely to succeed in attacking, beyond that he had not imagined off. Indeed, suicidal, one would not make it free man after pulling this act, but to keep in mind of preserving one’s freedom for the rest of his life would be the thing to stop a man from committing to such an outrageous act. His freedom, liberty or maybe even his life was the cost of commission, he had accepted it the day long before. Why would he throw it away? As simple as it could be summed up, he had never lived or enjoyed that freedom, liberty and his life ever since the day everything that meant something to him was robbed away from him. He felt imprisoned more than the people who should have been for their crime, all the glamorous life he has been leading was just a failed distraction from the pain that never went away, throwing it all away now would not mean anything.
Thieves who have stolen from him, prospered and lived well, nothing pains more him more than having to witness that, the unjust goes scot-free until very now, and only he and he alone who decided and had the conviction to deliver his own brand of justice.
Was the loss of his beloved lives justified the atrocity he was about to commit? He need not an answer for that. He only had to know it was to be done. He dared to murder innocent lives in process just to pull his enemy – Academy City – down to its knees. He would murder the world if he had to for that.
From the tip of his finger, the bitter vengeance he dreamt of would be served.
And nothing would stand in his way, except ….
Behind the door to the control room, a presence of danger lurked at its back when the footstep running up along the metal mesh walkway stopped.
“You two, watch the door. He’s coming.” Said Shinohara firmly to the armed contractors and then they raised their firearm.
He knew what was coming for him.
Sometimes a battle is won before it has begun due to the decisions and the convictions made before, it only takes time and result to prove the predicted outcome for one who is blinded by ego or hope.
And both, he was aware of.
Alas, there was no going back.
And thus, Shinohara went head on without a second thought.
The metal door thrashed open and his armed contractors engaged, firing into the nothingness behind the void of the doorway alertly.
Then in the silence, in lack thereof response, there breached in a red canister object, the fire extinguisher thrown into the room before a single gunshot ruptured the canister tank snd sprayed white smoke all over.
The smoke asphyxiated and obscured two armed contractors, following that, another two cracks exploded and sent them fall thud to the metal floor.
Shinohara was on the burst of his adrenaline as he ducked out of the way and circled around the blinding mist as soon as the improper passenger facilitated his entry.
The steel baton rubbed coldly on Shinohara's chest as he rested on the wall besides the breached doorway.
The matte finished pistol peeked through the doorway before its owner did. He tugged the baton up and slashed down on the gun. It clacked off loudly as the pistol was being hit and spun off the owner's hands, falling down and clacking again.
Shinohara did not cease at his first strike, he quickly pulled his baton back and swung across at the height it would hit the intruder's face.
But it had hit nothing but air and the rim of the doorway and resonated a metallic collision in the moment the intruder hurled down and leaped forward swiftly like a hound.
Rolling away and landing on its four limbs, the intruder in soaking white shirt motioned backwards to Shinohara, viciously staring back and growling into Shinohara's straining eyes.
Shinohara looked back and saw through the fleshes, seeing the vindictive and beastly soul wearing a person suit in hindrance.
Undoubtedly, it was that beast Shinohara knew of whose relentless thirst and anger sent it all the way down here into the depth of this abyss. A hound his enemies sent to hunt him down, entrusted to carry out its task because of its bloodlust nature. A blunt instrument they wielded to destruct he whom had to be in their way.
That was what the man who carried the name of 'Tougane Masaru' was supposed to be.
And Shinohara knew Tougane was the man whose objective was to stop him at all cost, he did not doubt for a second that Tougane would go as far as the man had to, including killing him.
Knowing that, seeing that, Shinohara should not hesitate for a second that it was inevitable to kill the man before he got killed himself.
The rationale was so simple.
But Shinohara froze still in the short gap of time which felt like eternity, despite knowing what to do, he grew hesitation, giving more time than Tougane needed to recover.
Was the man in front of him just the person of this name, or rather, codename like a device? Thought Shinohara.
It would be easy if he had thought so. It would have been easy long before.
Yet, until now, Shinohara still desperately searched for the trace of that boy, he could feel that the boy was there behind that accumulation of rage and pain, but nevertheless, the man refused and denied of the boy's existence.
Was it time to forget and accept that the boy who were like his little brother had died along with his dear sister, the woman he loved and would trade his life for ....
It would have been easy if he killed Tougane Masaru the moment he outlived his usefulness, and yet Shinohara let the man lived until now even he inherently knew the price he had to pay for his subconscious persistence.
Shinohara wished he was a monster who could feast on the fleshes of his own kin remorselessly.
Everything would have been easier if every last of his humanity had flayed away, so he could do what he had to do.
Despite the pain the pain they shared, the man in front of him was still determined to oppose and stop him instead of joining him. The man persisted to be Tougane Masaru instead of Asada Shuji, to be enemy instead of family Shinohara longed for.
Had he been wishing for the impossible all along?
Yes, Shinohara admitted to the lie he falsified as hope.
So it has come to ....
The little brother whom of all this time Shinohara pretended was still there must have died with the rest they both considered family.
Shinohara readied his baton.
In the day of the past, his little brother stood behind him and the stick in his hand he would use to fend off of all beasts in this world.
Today, his little brother stood before that stick and stared right at it.
The little brother whom he swore to himself to protect until end of days became alike those beasts out there in this world.
Oh, doesn’t time fly? Thought Shinohara.
Got to do what he has got to do.
He was so near in ending this quest of justice ... Or revenge ...
It barely mattered now.
"Launched it!" Shinohara decided to cross the line to the point of no return. At the tip of the finger, every life within the wall of the Academy City would suffer the catastrophic viral outbreak as soon as the missiles detonated over its perimeter, their blood would be on his hands. But then, only bloodstain from his past could be washed off with more blood. If the loss of their lives would greatly impact the city, his resolve remained cold. At the loss he would bring forth to the Academy City, he would avenge for what they have done to him.
They chose this, he was merely doing what they deserved.
Now, he only had to delay Tougane until his henchman could target the coordinate and launch.
As the henchman at the control panel began keying, the sound of plastic buttons being pushed down fiercely …
A foot affront, Shinohara then bent forward and charged to attack the beast they sent to kill him while it was on its knee with the baton in his hand. As approaching close, his torso pivotally twisted back and lunged his arm like catapult springing back.
Before landing strike, he caught the man’s leg smoothly but swiftly swept sideway from crouching on his knee, the numbness spread on his leg as it was bluntly hit and the loss of balance following on pulled him down hard on the floor.
His side crashed down, ribs pushing on his lung, Shinohara was struck with short burst of suffocating pain in addition to the dull ache. As Tougane came down closer on him, Shinohara inertly whacked the baton without the build for speed and strength which then was pitifully parried and Tougane cut down with elbow at the end of his chin, forcefully leaving his brain shaken and rocked against his skull from inside and momentarily paralyzed.
In state of half conscious and awareness, Shinohara felt the beast sniffing on him like its bloodlust streak was not over yet. Then the stick in his hand was pried out.
Shinohara heard the following painful grunt with the last standing man on his side haplessly trying to fend off from the vicious beast before the struggling breath ceased and only the voice of hard object whacking down on a meaty pulp into mash played in the background violently.
So that was what it was, a beast and nothing more, which tore every prey it came across mercilessly, blindly loyal to its owner, it was exactly why it was sent here.
It has been this far, he had to let it happen to see the price of what he chose to do - or not to do, as it was manifesting in front of him.
A brief fright slowly regained Shinohara’s use of nerve and senses back. The sight he came to was Tougane continuously beating the lifeless body even the head of the man was turning into a messy mash of fleshes. The white shirt Tougane was wearing reddened as each whack spilled blood on him until it was crimson red all over.
The great red monster.
So that was what the boy has turned into … The thought frightened Shinohara.
It was a physical manifestation of what the enemy of his has done to him, robbed from him …
It was in front of him.
To insult him.
Every life of the Asadas he loved and endeared was taken away from him, and this in front of him, was the deprivation of the humanity from the boy – his little brother.
The harsh reminder of everything he deserved to have, was robbed.
Every moment until now there was not a moment he was never bound to witness this fact and to be forced to repeat witnessing it.
Why? Why? WHY? His thought became distraught. Why must he have to keep seeing this repeating over and over again of what he could not have? Why did it not stop? Why did it keep going on?
And that was all he needed to spark his fuel for strength, enraged, Shinohara crawled up and frantically rummaged as scrambling on his knees, his rough hand felt a cold piece of metal – a pistol formerly used by the contractor, dropped on the gloomy floor - he groped and held it up.
It clicked metallically as he aligned the sight on the mad beast living under person suit, a gun should bear the power to stop a man, but yet Shinohara could not feel the confidence of stopping the horrid sight.
A beast, a monster, deserves to be put down like animal. Does it not?
But if it was merely possessing the body? And somehow, someway, the person who should be there was still there?
Shinohara had the power to end this many times before, even until now that it escalated disastrously. He had every chance of preventing this before it became an obstacle to his quest, the thing he longed for in those painful and phony years of his life.
So it had to be you … Thought Shinohara regretfully.
Clenched, stiff, trembling, his hand holding the gun was as his finger reluctantly squeezed the trigger halfway.
It only takes a little strength to it, just pull it and it would end. It was yelled in his head.
In the end …
“Hold it right there!”
He could not.
The fear of his inability swarmed down on him as he felt the beast he was trying to stop began to motion and then turned faster than he could react, hurling back the baton in motion.
It travelled through the air, he watched it spin forward to him like time has been slowed, hearing its sound of coming into circle each time as it closed and closed to his face while he could only stay there and inevitably wait for it to do what it was meant to.
It whipped right in his face and he felt his body recoiled back, and flinchingly, his trigger inadvertently pulled back as he was falling behind.
The gun fired in tight space as its angle of barrel pointing upward for ceiling, he saw a brief flash of the bullet shot from the gun he was holding and the fast trace of it ricocheting back to his direction, before he came to realize where it went away from his sight, he felt the sharp pain plaguing on above his knee and fell over to the ground.
The control room had blood splattered and smeared on the control panel with, the faint smell from erupted fire extinguisher and discharged gunpowder, the room reigned by silence exempt for water running against the sub from outside and Shinohara’s wailing in agony.
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
- Chapter 27: A Brother's keeper:
- Tougane sat back tiredly and mindlessly in the control room of the submarine after neutralizing all threat and disarming Shinohara, the purpose of mowing his way here started to fade away.
"You must be such a cold hearted bastard ...." Shinohara held his moan back and painfully said. "Has it ever come across your mind …. revenge for someone you loved …. Maybe you didn’t care about them at all ….” His body thudded on metal floor as he exerted to get back up on his leg and another which was limping. “What’s your reason for not going for it when it was in front of you? Perhaps it was easy for you to forget how painful it was.” Shinohara paused to catch his breath. “For me, I could never forget how it feels despite how much effort I fooled myself to pretend it never existed.” He bitterly said. “But from the looks of it, you never ran away from it. We’re alike.”
“I’m not the one who’s using thousands of innocent lives as sacrificial pawns.” Tougane hastily rejected.
“Yet, you’ve taken a considerable amount. But really, it’s not about the body count, it’s the mindset behind it. Don’t give me that ‘righteous speech’, you don’t care for those lives as far as I know when you murdered plentiful of people who came in your way.” Shinohara said. “I suppose you think the same towards for the lives under threat right now.”
Tougane only gave a doubtful look towards Shinohara who stood up unstably from pain.
“They have never been the centrifugal drive of doing what you do, Shuji-kun. Your work and dedication is in the name of them and their safety, but the thrill and the addiction, satisfaction … All for yours. It has never been about them.” Disapprovingly glancing at Tougane, Shinohara then said: “All the way down here, all the chase, all the pursuit, all the effort …Why did you come?” He achingly asked, not from the physical pain as obvious.
“I came here to stop you.” Tougane bluntly said.
“Despite the truth of how we ended up on this journey? You’re still persisted to do so?”
Shinohara started to be devoured by despair. “The sad thing about this, is that I know you’re not the righteous man. Look at what you have become. But nevertheless ...” He shunned and turned away limply. “For me, life has happened to be over long ago. The attempt of forgetting the pain was in vain, I had tried to change, to make things better. But as long as I lived under their shadow, work for them, a slave to them, I would never have been able to change anything. On one occasion, the Academy City has reminded me of great disheartening notice that as long as they’re at the helm and there are profitable pursuits, they will do anything regardless for justice. A good thing I tried to do in the name of your father – botched by them because it wasn’t profitable. And there then I knew, never again things could change. The only change that can be made is to pull every root of corrupt and decadence off at once and never to let it grow, but as you can see, it’s then again botched by them, through you as an agent of their vicious mentality. I’ve become much worse to take on them, something your father, mother … your sister would become to despise if they were still here … But they’re not, aren’t they?”
It was a painful pause.
“I have died long ago. I couldn’t say I’ve been living my life at all after the loss of our dearest. I couldn’t forget, I can’t forget, I can’t forgive. No seconds of my life after that matter, I can die now, I won’t be thinking of this pain when I’m in my death. But as long as I do breathe, I therefore can’t resist thinking and bearing that pain. And I followed on my whim until the end, I could’ve been successful, I swear, I could …”
Shinohara then treaded his foot forward as he aimed for the control panel which would have completed with his sadistic and atrocious whim a moment ago.
“But I chose my own Judas … I knew from the beginning it would be the end of me, yet I let him live, I could have done it but I didn’t …. Perhaps on the side of my good self, the weakest one which failed to prevail over what has been driving me to do the terrible things, I know I need to be stopped … But it had to be you, little brother …. I was hoping, somehow, on your sister behalf, she had sent you to stop me before I’ve become something she would wish me not to be … But that’s a pitiful whim … It was something else that is driving you, and I can’t blame you for that …”
He treaded another foot forward limply, on the bleeding pulp of his deceased man whom Tougane had beaten violently.
“You’re a soldier, through and through. With order to follow, you don’t question it and commit to it like a mindless and emotionless drone.” Shinohara pronounced with decisiveness. “I’m not giving up on what I intended to do. As long as I’m breathing, I’m going to push that button and eradicate as many lives as the virus will kill them in Academy City. You know what to do to stop me.”
He treaded another foot closer to the control panel.
Tougane had seen and rose up, raising the handgun in his hand at Shinohara from behind as he understood what it would take to put an end to this.
Shinohara has heard the deathly metallic click when Tougane raised the gun ….
“Let me tell you why you still persist to go after me relentlessly in spite of having heard the truth about your family. Having the whole world, in the way you believed it to be, crumbled once was enough. Twice might get you in the way you can't make up for it. If you're going to doubt the authenticity of the truth you can't handle, you should just either believe it or don't at all. Being in doubt is painful. Therefore you should just forget. I can’t forget the pain I’m having, the way I see it can end is to fulfill my wish or death. But for you, so far, the lust for violence has been numbing you enough, hasn’t it? Then where you’ll be continuing on from now will keep you from breaking apart … after what they have done to you ….”
Shinohara made his final step to reach for the control panel.
And at the same time, the hammer of the handgun cocked.
Shinohara’s hands then rest against the panel, his hand slowly crept for the red button surrounded with black and yellow stripe trimmed frame.
“In all fairness, we both don’t deserve this life to be turned out as it is, we deserve to have everything we want …” Said Shinohara.
Then came the thunderous tremor.
Franz fell toward the floor as the submarine was struck with explosion, the hull was breached and the water was flooding in after sustaining a hit.
The boy struggled to grab on the rail to get up and then threw himself into the escape pod located in the middle of the submarine. And without thought, he pushed the button and then buckled up before the escape pod detached and launched up.
As emerging from the water, Franz watched through the small window and saw the submarine beginning to plunge into the abyss.
Would Tougane be alright? He wondered. He would make it out in time.
The naval ship on the surface of water had detected the location of the submarine, in no time it opened fire a torpedo towards the sub, landing the strike on the side, sending downward to the sea bottom.
It was the source of the tremor.
The two men in the control room fell over the floor from the intense force.
As Shinohara still hanged on by the panel, his hand bashed the button again and then again to initiate the launch sequence.
But the torpedo has sabotaged the missile silo on its impact.
The control display in front of him only showed that the silo went offline.
Yet, he still desperately pounded the button until he realized it was no use.
And there he collapsed, letting the tears of disappointment seeping after holding it back for so long, he had imagined how it would turn out, but it still hurt to go through.
He was always destined to meet with disappointment and pain, everything, every chance – stolen and taken away from him.
After all, there was nothing left for him.
“Put me out of misery, leave me here…. I should have been told to stop long time ago … It’s too late for me now …”
The footstep crept closer from behind, Shinohara then embraced the fate which awaited him.
It was a bright day with warm breeze blowing over the blue river framed by the vibrancy of green grasses, and there sat by each other a teenage girl and a young boy on the knoll beside the river and bathed under the warm light.
“So you’re moving out to dormitory, ane?” The youngest of the Asadas, Shuji, asked.
“Yes .. It’s not really convenient for travelling from home to university. Dad and mom see it’s best for me to move out.” Even Aiko’s sweetest voice sounded saddened. “I wish I could stay home with you … but you’ve still got dad and mom …”
“You know they have changed, they weren’t the same, they’re not parents we want.” Shuji then shut his lip tightly and curled before his admittance came out: “You’ve all I’ve got, ane. I don’t feel like they see me as a son anymore. I feel alone just to be around them.”
Aiko came closer and embraced the boy by his shoulder. She said: “Don’t think like that. This is just a stressful time for our family. Work has overwhelmed our dad, and it stresses mom out too. Give them some time, I’m sure everything will get better soon.”
In between her slender arms and soft touch, the boy had no distrust in her promise.
“Our dad is not inherently bad, it’s just that things are rough and harsh for him. I’m sure he will get better when his burdens are over.” She continued heartily. “Give him a chance.”
The boy nodded in her arms.
“You have to be strong in the meanwhile I’m not here for you.”
Any wish could be fulfilled if asked by the right person, the boy felt. But apart from that, loneliness was still too much to bear upon.
“Will we meet again?”
“Of course!” She cheerfully assured. “Might not be as much as right now, but we’ll meet time to time.”
The boy’s face has not gotten merry completely, there was still worry though. “I’m afraid by then we’ll forget of each other ….”
“Don’t be silly!” Aiko then playfully groped over the boy’s head. “Come on, you’re one of the few men I think of before anyone else. You, dad and someone …” She ended with a hint of shyness.
The boy was innocent, but not too dense to notice. “Your boyfriend?” He said with jealousy.
Aiko was sheepish, but she did not hide the fact she appeared evidently happy when mentioned. “No .. Not yet ..” She said.
“He must be a really nice man …”
“Of course he is.” Her sincere smile indicated the truth. “He’s kind, noble, dedicated …”
As the boy heard what he thought to be his competition, he brooded.
And she has seen it. “It’s not like that … That won’t change things between us … I’ll always be your sister, I’ll never forget you because I just have some nice man for myself.” She stopped and sighed. “But you know what, I’m afraid the one who will forget will be you, once you have girls to chase around for your own by the time you grow so much that I don’t see the young shy and good-at-heart boy in you anymore when I look at you …”
The boy tensed and strongly protested: “NO! I won’t change a bit, I’ll always be like this … I’ll always be the brother you know …”
Aiko lightly chuckled, “That’s good … I’m glad to hear that … Both of you make me happy, that gives me more than enough to move on with our life. Trust me, things from now on will be better for us.”
The last of two emergency escape pod ejected itself from the sinking submarine in the same another torpedo has dove down toward the submarine and caused another red explosion under the deep dark sea.
The submarine was torn apart from inside blast, sending tumultuous shockwave before every part of it was destroyed for good.
The shockwave rammed against the escape pod with more force that it had when it launched itself, but along that, the debris was shot from the explosion and crashed onto the pod, tearing its hull and causing the leak.
The pod continued to float up with the force from shockwave but then stopped where it could be touched by the setting sunlight shining through the sea surface as when it lost its force and buoyancy as the sea water filled in the pod completely.
It floated still between the dark deep abyss below and the light above.
The pod’s roof slowly creaked open and its passenger floated off from inside.
Shinohara swirled in water motionlessly. Without will to survive, he began to let himself plunge on his back as he watched where the light reached in water began to distance away.
He only felt the coldness was holding onto around him.
Everything he had built had gone into crumble, fallen and sunken.
It was time for him to pay his overdue life, he held his breath and wait to burst.
In amidst of fear and pain, amidst of all bleak coldness, the warmth has come to embrace on his back and wrapped around him, the warmth that he long missed it.
Where has it been all his life? He lamented. But it did not matter, now that it was here.
He felt the tender hands hugged around him, he recognized this sensation after all these years that have passed, it was still the same, the very one that he could only get from his dearest.
He thought: “Finally, we can be together .. Aiko …”
His eyelids narrowed down and he let her to drown him away ….
But the dark silhouette swam over swiftly like a beast of sea and ceased him to its hold before heading up to emerge.
He though in his whim: “No, no ….”
The warmth started to fade away, the tender touch began to slip.
And then the cold swarmed on him again despite that he began to emerge into the light.
Tougane emerged to the sea surface under the setting sun with Shinohara in his arms who was exhausted than he could has ever been. Close by was another escape pod that had made out prior to the one he has taken, and not too far on the horizon, Tougane saw the navy fleet approaching to rescue.
It was finally over, he thought, but it did not relieve him.
The man in his arms began to squirm, Tougane instead of loosening then tightened.
Shinohara finally ceased in his own silence before eventually breaking it himself.
“Why didn’t you leave me there …”
Tougane gave a decisive answer: “You didn’t deserve that. That would have been what she wanted, she wouldn’t want you go out like this.”
“So that’s it .. Just like this …” Shinohara was disappointed and then quiet. He could have known the whole thing could have turned out to be house of cards, and at the end it would fall apart. But for so long he had invested everything to make his vengeful whim come true, not once he has been told he had to stop, no one did, even the people who tried to stop him. He just wished he heard it prior. “I regret …”
“About what?” Asked Tougane.
“We should have met way before this, before we both turned into something ourselves and your sister would despise. Maybe then when we had each other, we could mend the wounds we have and they would never rot. Maybe this would never have happened.”
“I suppose …”
“If you had known before, would you stop me from being consumed and controlled by darkness of our past then?” It was the wonder that Shinohara came to question himself after all this had went down. Did he really have a chance to be saved?
Tougane only watched the naval fleet approaching in silence, leaving Shinohara in the doubt.
The chopper has transported Tougane onto the land whilst Shinohara was secretly being transported into custody. Here he sat by behind the ambulance to get his wounds healed, even some of them have never been and would never be. He sulked and dubiously pondered about what had happened in the sub.
“Hey …” Greeted Tsushio as he approached the back of the ambulance. “How are you holding up?” He expressed his care.
“Just surviving, Tsushio.” Tougane dully said. “Just surviving.”
The symptoms of his illness have not occurred since the last time, the wound on his leg was not the worst he was ever inflicted with, but still, Tougane sat there with a great burden in his mind which manifested through his sulking face.
“So what’s next? A press conference, an award, a meeting with the chairman?” Sarcastically spoken, Tougane knew those things never had happened entire his career.
“Well, we’ll wrap things up on our ends, we’ll interrogate Shinohara to find out a bit more of the whole scheme and we’ll soon apprehend every associate of him who had part in this. It’s over, Tougane. We got him.”
Tsushio pulled out his pack of cigarettes and lit one for Tougane and then himself.
“Indeed.” Said Tougane discerningly after experiencing the satisfactory addiction of the nicotine and the smoke itself running through his lungs and exhaled off. “Indeed, we did.”
After the dangerous ventures and losses of lives, it would be damned if Shinohara was still running free.
This could have been his biggest work ever in his career, but there was no sign of him being glad that he had accomplished it. He felt no pleasure, relieve or such, only emptiness, the endless whiteness which offered him no direction.
“We found his wife, dead, back at the hangar. Pretty sadistic, killing her with the weapon-grade virus which could have been used today. Oh, poor boy, the mother’s dead and the father’s arrested, that’s depressing for the son.” Said Tsushio as he was fumbling with putting the pack of cigarettes away, his tone expressed no empathy, he just reported like a fact.
Kyushuu. Tougane recalled her dream and wish in first instance, to move down there with him and her son, and start over. Too bad, it did not happen. Whose false was it? He knew, which he wished he did not.
Shinohara, out of desperation, had used her against him, in a trade for information, an information which could have saved her life if he had given it up. The information was integrity of the state he was serving, at the time he refused to let personal feeling to compromise which he was supposed to do. A mission, a duty.
Was it just that he did not like loosing? Was it just that he has been doing this for so long that there no longer remained humane influence?
He had let the wife died, as refusal to aid Shinohara’s plan, which it turned out not to be worth it at all.
He knew he has become the sort of person far worse than his dearest could ever imagine him to be.
He was willing to let her die because he adhered to the mission, he was viewing her as just a pawn on the chessboard he was willing to sacrifice in order to win.
Like all of those lives he had killed, innocents, good people, friends … For the same purpose.
Like it was just a game, which he played until the end and won(?) even he had a reason to take a step back and look, and then he would know it was the time to stop.
He did it in the name of security of the state he ought to protect. But did that justify what he had done? Was he less evil than the people he went after? The body count may not be comparable, but the mindset …. He was willing to do everything to get something done as he saw fit.
Shinohara had orchestrated the whole thing because of passion, wrong but understandable. But for himself, he had jumped into this because it was his nature, because he was the right man for the job, the man who would not let anything compromise his duty.
His so-called duty, it started off as an addiction, an indulgent and satisfactory one.
Did it start to sound disgusting right now? He asked himself.
If he was truly evil and too corrupted, he would not have felt any of this, and he wished it was so. But it was not.
What now? After this … What to do?
This, and about the moment he had to execute a certain action in the line of duty, he now knew it was over, it was done, he was done, it was enough, that was enough.
“Indeed, poor boy. He’s orphaned, what could have been worse?” Tougane sarcastically remarked while half-heartedly knowing he has caused another life to suffer a fate akin to his which sent him on this path. He knew why: without love and guidance, a young child who is unfamiliar to his world can lose himself and start walking on the wrong path. Deep down, he wished he could have done something to prevent it, but he has not got enough courage to face it.
Tsushio has seen the sign of tiredness in Tougane, of course, for a man on a marathon run, it should have been so.
“You can a rest for now, since this has been an agonizing long process that we have endeavored, you deserve a long vacation. Just let me know when you’re ready to come back.”
It took no time for Tougane to answer: “No, I’m done.”
“What do you mean?” Tsushio surprisingly exclaimed. “I know you have felt tired before, but you always come back.”
“Not this time. It’s over for me, this is too much. I’ve done great deal of work for you and the city. I’m tired, I just want to go away and never think about this sort of thing again.”
Tsushio knew what Tougane said was the truth and he had meant it seriously.
“Okay, I’ll leave you to think about it for some time. If you need anything, you can tell me. After all, you deserve this treatment for your remarkable service.”
They nodded at each other and Tsushio turned back to head away.
Another doubt was quite unsettled in Tougane’s mind, and it stirred up quite strongly when he looked at the man, the employer, the man whom he treated with respect.
He has remembered about what Shinohara said.
Tougane remembered well that he did inform Tsushio about the threat of submarine, even at the time it was believed to be a faux one or just a distraction, and he remembered that Tsushio said he would notify the naval force, but yet the sub trespassed into to the bay and was well-hidden until the attack had occurred.
He remembered about Shinohara’s word that he ignored the truth even it was in apparent.
He remembered that Shinohara’s suggestion that Tsushio could have been very well aware of his relation to Shinohara.
“Tsushio!” Tougane said loudly and firmly. And Tsushio turned. He continued: “Did you know … Did you know about Shinohara being intimate with my family?”
It might sound like nothing or like just an coincidence. But if there was true, it was vital to the mission, as Shinohara suggested, Tsushio could have been exploiting this on the agenda Tougane was not even aware of.
“Did you know?” He further pressed.
“What are you talking about?” Tsushio did not say a blatant ‘no’ right away. But after the silent intense gaze from Tougane, he then said: “No.”
Tougane listened and looked carefully. The answer was definite. He hoped it was true as the man insisted.
Was that a muscle twitch in his eye and then his cheek? Was his eyeballs rolling upward to his own right? Was Tsushio lying? Tougane knew well that Tsushio, in the world he lived, had to do in numerous times, and he would not let a simple mistake such as body language to give away.
Was it because Tougane was not just anyone? That he was actually someone to him, that it was not like lying to a bunch of airheads?
Tougane silently nodded at the answer and Tsushio excused himself.
He thought as Tsushio was walking away, whatever the truth may be, maybe it was better for him to remember as it was intended to be. For the sake of their time and service together, for what they have been through, Tougane did not want to remember his mentor, patronage, father-figure as a liar to him.
And he let the notion slipped away, as he intended that he was done with everything in this life, he would let the burden and the buggery go, big or small, he would forget it all.
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
- Chapter 28: Over and Out (?):
- .... Counter resets ....
Franz stepped down the rusty metal staircase of the barge, down there in front of another rusty door of the old ship, sat casually the very man he knew by got him to where he was.
“Tougane.” Franz said and approached.
“Finally, here we are. The end of the long road.” Said Tougane. “Your prize lies there behind the door.”
The boy remembered the price he bargained for, but it seemed to him after he was just enjoying the thrill of the battlefield, so much he forgot he was doing it for something. He reluctantly looked at the door, in his heart, he knew there lied the FRELIMO officer who was the source of his pain and agony, the one who sent him on this path. He imagined how the man would suffer at his hands.
Tougane tossed the key at the boy, and Franz reflexively caught it and that thought cut short.
“After this, I can provide you with anything, expense, education, settlement; anywhere and anytime. Just say a word. I’ll be get going now, I have something to take care of today.” He rose up and walked Franz to head upward the staircase which Franz went down.
“Anything?” Franz dubiously said.
“Yes.” Said Tougane but then he noticed what the boy wanted was not among what he has purposed, could purpose.
Tougane saw that loneliness and emptiness akin to which he has bore throughout his childhood in Franz.
What did he long for? Tougane thought. A sense of comrade, company … or family? He was too worst to be a parent of some sort, Franz would be in better hands in someone’s else care, he could setup a foster who would care and treat him very well, that was what Tougane thought.
He was going to take another step to leave, but a thought had struck him. Something that he could very least do for the boy.
Indeed, he knew what he lured the boy into and what he had baited the boy with. The boy had his shot, he missed, it happened sometimes unfortunately; Tougane was merely handing what the boy wanted on the silver platter.
Rage, vengeance, anger. Those were what the boy has been harboring inside. Tougane could very well sympathize, he has been to the same place before, yet the difference was that the boy still had a chance at revenge but Tougane did not since it was taken away by someone else.
But was that really good for the boy? To help him get something on the borderline between justice and revenge … Tougane had tried it once years back, but the vessel of pain continued to depress and one day broke down in the emptiness afterward, the lieutenant he was paired with on the last case as police - had taken his own life. If that was not enough of an example, see what it has done to Shinohara. From what he could recall through his own memory and the words of his sister – which back then she referred to just a ‘certain man’, he used to be good but the pain and the worst of him in the following had plagued and consumed him, leading him to drastic and terrible commitments.
Then, he got an example of his own, Asada Shuji, abandoned everything and led a life in accordance to guilt and pain of his former life, in a hope that it would lessen and numb him from them, through violence; as catharsis. So much he has gone through and done, that it became the nature of his own.
How did it turn out? Not well, not as well as he supposed. Like the violent dream and whim of Shinohara, Tougane walked on the bridge there was constructed to be as weak as house of cards, could crumble and fall anytime a piece fell off.
What there lacked in his life, Shinohara’s and his former lieutenant partner … Love and care? Or a misguided one from the wrong people on the wrong path which then kept them walking in the dark and wrong path?
Did the boy really want to live a life based on such thought or feelings?
Ignorance was he was treated with, on a certain level, Tougane felt compelled to break the cycle.
“A word of advice. You’ve got a life ahead of you from now on, things are getting better. Don’t do something you will regret. Don’t let the past come to haunt you and control you forever. I’ve been there …”
The boy was going to let a word out of his mouth as he gaped.
But Tougane then interrupted first and spoke: “You know what, I don’t want to know the answer. I don’t want to know what you’re going to do with that man. It’s your right, you deserve to decide. This is as far as I will go with you.”
Tougane then bid farewell and left, leaving the boy to his own device.
Franz tossed the key up and let it fell on his hand a few times before he motioned himself toward the door and used the key.
After a twist and turn, he flung the door open.
The sight of the man was before him.
And the first thought that went through his head was …..
It has been a good number of close calls he had, it was this time that he realized he might have taken it for granted.
A walk among busy junction of Shibuya, amongst the noise and the rushes, Tougane found the quietness.
Years he has spent living on the rage and guilt ever since the death of his family. Missions, battlefields through the ages where they bred conflicts endlessly, it was a perfect (false) solace for him. He fought to unleash the brewing rage time to time, in a sense, the whole matter was personal.
But this once, the virus, Shinohara, it was personal in the way he could not handle it well.
He came to the case as a matter of duty, instead he got an answer to his past, the missing links in his life. He once believed he started off this life, this path because of some misfortune of reality; it still was, but there was more interconnectedness than he could see at first.
The death of the brother he had never known – torn his father apart and hauled him into madness. And out of his madness, created a legacy – the virus - which fell into the hands of his two sons; Shinohara the protégé had earned the possession, and Tougane the prodigal son had it flowing in his veins.
The virus was truly dangerous, not by its capacity but by what it attracted to and along with. It made Tougane prone to violence since his childhood, it became a tool for Shinohara to stage his crime of passion, and the birth of this conflict - it provoked the state of Academy City to execute an order which turned both Tougane and Shinohara’s life upside down. Opportunities and bright future were stolen and seized away from both of them.
Shinohara had the right to be anger, after all this time. For Tougane, he only learnt the truth just when it was about to fade away, he ended up not knowing to do with it.
He has averted what Shinohara could have done. Out of duty or his own personal feelings? He did not ask himself that now, lest anybody else would ever know.
Would he continue to hold that grudge? The grudge of which that the Academy City’s state of affairs at the time made his life the way it was and took away every chance of being loved and cared by his family. Shinohara had gone to great length to avenge for Tougane’s own family. He had to bear that grudge too, that was what it was supposed to be. He should go great length to do the same …
But after all of this had gone down, he felt really exhausted … Was it selfish of him to think and do nothing about the truth he learnt? It may be, but it has been a long road, it was tiring. How much would he have to go if he were to follow the grudge? How many lives would be lost at his hands? How terrible he would become to be in order to pull it off?
All his life, he was just simply following one notion: to be freed of the pain in the past. It was true he had chosen the wrong way, but it did not mean he had to keep doing the wrong thing forever. He would not want to put himself in more pain.
The fire of rage against unjust burned still, but in a lesser extent than before.
It takes time, but one will eventually let go. He believed, now that he had assurance.
With all of that, he decided he would quit.
Well, there was another factor. But he would rather not delve in it.
Maybe now it was time to find a new solace, forget the unhealthy, live for himself.
Or has he found it?
Anonymously, the man called Tougane Masaru disappeared into the crowd.
The cold autumn where he set off his path and the harsh winter endured throughout his quest, finally, the warm spring welcomed him with its evening light embraced on his shoulders.
Tougane stood before the plain door of the apartment’s open corridor. He has not thought nor dream before and ahead. Present was here, and it would be true in the moment to come. No need for any whimsical imagination.
He confidently leaned forward to the door and rang the bell once.
A hurry footsteps came thudding on the wood floor behind the door and then it pulled open quite strongly that it spilled all the envelopes in the mailbox on the floor.
Distracted by her clumsiness, the familiar blonde woman crouched down to the mess and tried to pick it up together. Kind, caring, perhaps she could be, even his vulnerability and weakness were known to her. No, she should be. He had a fortune to meet one before in his life, he knew she was the same kind. Maybe she was the one to help him fill the gaping hole he had for the whole life.
Whether it would be true or not, he had the rest of his life to find out – all the time in the world.
Blood pumping through and heart throbbing sparingly like it was skipping a beat or two, it was a little excitement that hid behind the nonchalant mask. Though it was not her, it was his.
“How can I help you?” Lea said monotonously, like it was just some salesman or a civil servant at the door.
“I’m looking for someone.” Tougane blatantly replied.
“Oh, I don’t own the place, I’m just a guest. Maybe I’ll tell the owner to get back to you when she’s here …” The last syllable stuttered and faded out as she rose up from the floor. She noticed it was him.
He gave her the kind of smirk that she said she wholeheartedly hated it in their first encounter.
Lea acceptably looked with more or less approval comparing to the first time they met.
“Aren’t we all?” That was what she said.
A neat three piece suit of black and blue houndstooth pattern, a light blue shirt and a black knit tie to complete the ‘man in blue’ look, the one who would sport such thing on such a casual occasion would be Tougane, it had helped him looked confident and strong many times before when the situation called, but now, not so much.
He was a little teary when he stood before the gifted-to-him Aston Martin V8 in the agency’s office garage, it was long ago he shed tears even a little, he just could not resist now. He looked at the car as if it was in the casket and he was mourning for it.
“I suppose you earn your retirement, you’ve been through too much already before you worked for us, it’s now time for you to rest. We always find another lost orphan to do the job.” Said Tsushio as he walked from behind after dealing with the papers.
“Was that supposed to be funny or something?” Tougane’s tone was doubtful.
“Maybe, I suppose. A lot of times things sound too dark without myself noticing it. But they are best for the job, especially the ones who have been through a lot. They have no ties to anything, so they can be dedicating to what they are supposed to do. You made one hell of a soldier, I appreciate working with you, now that you have someone to go back to in your home, you earn your reward. I think I’ll be joining you in a few years, my family would love to have me back at last.”
This was how Tougane wanted to remember Tsushio, despite a certain matter, he was the one who has got Tougane’s back in all these years.
Ignorance is a bliss, he supposed.
But there was still another buggery.
“Really, you’re going to confiscate the car?”
Tougane has been summoned to the office to officially resign and claim back some of his possessions in his quarter. But it was not all of that, amongst the list of properties belonging to Shinohara, the car he bought for Tougane was legally listed, and thus due to the incident …
“Sorry, Tougane, it’s just procedure, we confiscate all of his belonging.” Tsushio heartlessly said. “It’s not like I’m the one who wants to do this.” He ended the sentence and slipped a giggle which Tougane was not pleased at all.
“After all I have done ….” Tougane bemoaned. “She is such a nice car though …” Even that he got the Aston Martin during the time of tension, he did have a few pleasant drive with it. A car is a man’s pride, and it did become his.
“You must return the car, it’s now the city’s property.” Tsushio persisted.
Tougane looked further away at the parking off-white Toyota 200GT which was supplied as replacement for him.
“I guess I’ll be fine with the Toyota.”
He then made up his mind and took the key.
“Haven’t you earned enough of the salaries to purchase one for your own? After all these years you’ve been on the paycheck ….” Asked Tsushio. “Have you spent all on the vice and decadence as indulgence?”
“No.” Said Tougane. “But I do have to cut my expense down now since I’m expecting to build a family quite soon. But of course! For those bad habits, one’s got to change eventually, especially if he wants to be a reliable man.”
Tsushio then genuinely laughed once. “You’re not wasting your time, I see.”
“I’m taking the liberty of time when I still can.” Tougane cheerfully said even the tiniest drop of tear has not dried yet from his eye. He got in the car and started up.
They looked in the same accordance and nodded with a mutual good wish.
Then, Tougane roared away from the garage and departed.
The Toyota circled in front of the building and parked by the sleeveless-blouse-and-sunglasses-wearing blonde woman who stood alone on the sidewalk under the bright blue sky.
“You’re late.” Lea said as she pouted with a slight displease and got in the car.
“French custom.” Tougane said dully as he pretended to check his Seiko strapped by . He averted her gaze and put on the wayfarer sunglasses and a pair of driving gloves.
Lea watched unbelievingly at her man and mockingly said: “Have you ever not to try to look cool?”
Even though the sunglasses were to hide his tears-shed eyes, he could not deny the rest of the ensemble still looked ostentatious. He only curled up his eyebrow in initial response.
“Can't you dress simply just once?” She thickened.
“Okay, fine. You'll see me in tank tops and ugly plaid shorts this summer.” He bashfully said.
Lea showed her bunny teeth she thought it was awful as she smiled as turned forward. They were awful, even not as she made them to be. He would too much time to see them from now on.
“So you’ve got everything you need?” She cheerily spoke.
“Yes.” Said Tougane. “I’ve just picked up one.” He smiled back at her before turning ahead and shifting the gear.
He had a thought as looked beyond the clear road and blue skyline, but why wasted the time to think of when he could make it true as soon as he could imagine?
His right hand grabbed the wheel tightly and left went on hers tenderly, and they both headed forward with no regret, anymore.
- Explanation for my writing in case you are wondering:
- Why it's kinda a mess ....
Maybe just one doesn't suffice, have a gif.
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