Hello, everyone! I'm back with chapter 15.
This is the end of 'yankee war' arc and will cover the remaining of Nagisa's flashback until the event of 'that day'. Yep, 'that day' that everyone's been talking about. Finally. The whole chapter happens in a long time span though, so there'll be jumping here and there. I hope you won't lose track of what's happening. Anyways, here it goes~
The Epitome of Justice
Chapter 15: Theory of A Monster - Answer
The room was dark. Several syringes and vials were lined up on a long table in the middle of the room, giving off a strong smell of antiseptics, and on the far end, parted by tattered white curtains, was a black leather chair. Its dark color, together with the blue flag hung behind it to cover a part of the window, stood in contrast among the white walls.
So it was written on the flag.
On the leather chair sat a girl wearing a matching black jacket, her eyes closed as she seemed to have fallen into a deep slumber, yet her stern face stayed like it's always been. Another girl stared at her silently, her gaze devoid of any emotion as she saw the girl's chest rising and falling slowly. She drew closer, climbing up the girl's lap as she slowly raised her hands to her neck.
“What do you think are you doing, Coby?”
Coby smiled. Her cold hands pressed against the girl's throat, firmly, but not enough to choke her.
“Good morning, Antonio.”
Antonio opened her eyes. Her sharp gaze pierced through her partner.
“Are you trying to start a coup?”
Coby let out a small giggle and pressed her hands tighter.
Antonio calmly yanked them away.
“I'm just kidding. But if it's really the case, aren't you being too careless? Someone will take your neck one of these days~”
The girl didn't answer. She sat upright, observing as the other girl walked toward the table in the middle.
“Are you taking me for granted? The proud members of Kango-ka I've raised wouldn't let a sneaky pest stealing the top so easily.”
“Those proud members you're talking about are now being beaten up on the school's field though.”
Antonio narrowed her eyes, watching Coby's mischievous smile stretched as the girl leaned her hands on the edge of the table.
“Majisuka? Or is it Yabakune?”
“Neither of them; it's just two little girls.”
“So the shiro-kuro duo decided to wreak another havoc.”
“Pfft, oh silly Antonio... Didn't I tell you?”
Coby giggled, enjoying the confused look on the Kango-ka leader's face.
“It's just two little girls.
'Two nameless little girls who you normally won't even consider a pest~”
“Aah, this is the worst~ This is the worst, I'm telling ya!”
Nagisa whined loudly as she swatted her gloved hands a few times, shaking off the blood on her knuckles. Her eyes wandered around the fallen figures of Gekioko yankee.
“Why are all yankees like this? Oi, Riri—I mean, Gakushu.”
She switched her gaze to the girl standing behind her.
“I've beat all of 'em but which one taking the money?”
Ririka took out her notebook in response, flipping through some of the pages, before closing it again in an instant.
“Frankly. The client didn't give me that information.”
“Wha—that's the most important part! And don't tell me she also didn't tell you how much was stolen!?”
Ririka gave her an obvious look, and Nagisa slapped her face, groaning.
“Chihi will chew me out if she knew about this...”
“She won't; that's why Kimotama is staying behind, to distract her.”
“Well, at least Shu—Kimotama
WILL chew me out for doing that.”
“Front. A punch to the face.”
The girl swung her head back as a fist nearly hit her nose. She planted her both hands to the ground to stop her fall, twisting her body to hit her attacker with a roundhouse kick to the head, sending them sprawling on the ground. She sighed and stood back to her full height.
“Would ya stop attacking? I don't like hurting innocent people. Unless yer the culprit then that's fine.”
“Ya damn brats!”
The yankee yelled at her furiously.
“We won't let ya take the top!”
“What's that girl babbling about?”
Nagisa pointed at the yankee with her thumb and Ririka opened her notebook again.
“The top. The strongest person in the hierarchy of yankees.
Once you pick a fight with their underlings it's already common sense for them that you won't stop until you fight this 'top'.”
Nagisa gave her a blank stare.
“Oi. You knew this all along, don't cha?”
“Does it matter? You've said that you'll uphold justice whatever the case so I'm only providing the assistance you need. Besides, once we meet the top we'll know who's the culprit for sure. Speaking of which...”
Nagisa blinked, switching her gaze to follow Ririka's line of sight. She saw two other girls appeared from inside the school building, walking toward the scene.
One of the yankees shouted, and the one in black jacket raised her hand, telling them not to interfere. She stepped forward, while the one in pink nurse outfit only stood there among the crowd, smiling as she crossed her arms. Nagisa narrowed her eyes. The girl before her was quite small, a bit shorter than her she noted, but she could feel her strong presence engulfing the whole field.“My name is [Antonio], the leader of Kango-ka and the current top of Gekioko.
'Who are you and what business ya girls have in my territory, hm?”
A question. A simple question with no rushing tone whatsoever, but once it came out of the girl's mouth it felt as if it's an absolute order. Nagisa growled, ready to snap at her, but Ririka held her back.
“We're Seigi and Gakushu from Nishinari Junior High. And as for what we need, I believe some of underlings have the answer.”
“Argh, let me make it simple,” Nagisa cut in. “One of yer people beat up my friend and stole her money. I just need 'em to give it back.”
“Is that so?”
Antonio glanced at her underlings for a while, watching some of them hung their head in shame, before returning her gaze to the two girls.
“Hurting the weak had never been our principle so let me apologize in their stead. My underlings' fault is partly my own fault; I'll give you what you need.”
“Finally~!” Nagisa dropped her shoulders in relief.
“Someone who can be reasoned with—“If you can take it from me of course.”
She paused mid-sentence, staring at the yankee in disbelief.
“Can't we do this peacefully?”
“When you're in Rome do as the Romans do. And I believe yer not powerless enough to need our pity.”
Antonio said in response, taking out her wallet and waving it on the air slightly.
Nagisa gritted her teeth, her right hand met the empty air as Antonio pulled the wallet away. She clicked her tongue.
“Then don't blame me if I hurt ya!”
She clenched the hand and swung her arm to her side, aiming for the girl's head.
Nagisa blinked. She could hear Ririka's voice for a second before the ground slipped from under her feet. The sense of gravity left her, and before she knew it her forehead already hit the cold ground with a painful thud.
“Gah, what the hell!?"
The girl growled, feeling someone locking her right arm behind her.
“Your fighting pattern is very simple.”
Antonio calmly said, pulling the arm with her left hand and stepping on the girl's back.
“The one in black is the brain and you're the brawn. If I separate you two you'll be nothing but a foolish brat who can't even control her power.”
Nagisa planted her left hand to the ground and pushed herself up, feeling her blood boiled from the statement.
“Don't struggle. You'll only break yer arm.”
The girl quietly laughed, her smile stretched from ear to ear.“Ya just gave me a good idea~”CREAK-- BAM!
Antonio pushed the girl away, raising one hand to her face as the girl gave her a painful headbutt to the nose. She swished the blood away with her thumb.
She sacrifices her own arm to attack me, huh?
The Gekioko's top smirked, watching the girl charged at her in pure rage, ignoring her right arm that was hanging limply on her shoulder.
“You have a remarkable determination.”
She threw her wallet to the air, pulling her right fist.
“But that by itself is not enough.”
Antonio turned her head slightly, dodging and countering the girl with an uppercut to her jaw.
“No matter how strong you are there's no point if yer fist doesn't reach yer opponent. And a blind charge will only make it easier to read.”
The simple blow effectively shut the enraged girl, knocking her unconscious, and Antonio caught her wallet once again. She retracted her right hand, feeling the numbness it received from the recoil, before she switched her gaze to the remaining girl.
“What now? I have nullified your main offense so what will you do?”
Ririka observed the situation intently, before she raised her both hands.
“I give up.”
“Huuuh!? Ya frickin kidding with us!?”
The yankees around them shouted in rage but Antonio kept her calm, waiting for the girl to continue.
“True that I no longer have any mean to defeat you but you also have no choice but to let me go. I believe beating a powerless little girl like me will only taint your reputation.”
“You have quite a silver tongue. Very well; take yer friend and leave.”
Ririka lowered her hands in response. She switched her gaze to the unconscious Nagisa near Antonio's feet, keeping her head down as she slowly walked toward the fallen figure.“Alright, stop right there.”
The girl halted, raising her head to see Coby smiling at her from behind Antonio.
“Geez, Antonio~ That's why I said you'll lose yer head one of these days.”
Coby stepped forward, leaning her weight on Antonio's shoulder.“Don't ya realize? That girl is hiding a knife somewhere.”
Ririka froze, her left hand twitching slightly above the cold metal hidden under her blue skirt. Her expression turned a bit rigid.
Antonio smirked, throwing her wallet to the ground.
“You two have potentials but yer still unripe. Come challenge me again once you're stronger.”
Ririka didn't answer, keeping her expresionless gaze as the older girl walked away.
“KY, get some ice-packs and treat her wound. Can't have the other school seeing us as shameless bully, can we? And those who trampled over the junior high students, come see me in my room.”
The crowd of yankees dispersed from the simple order, some walked away in fear and some with relief. Ririka only stared at them silently, taking the wallet and flinging Nagisa's left arm over her shoulder. Little that she knew, another person was watching them from the second floor of the school building, smiling widely.
“Looks like another raucous duo have appeared.”
“And what kind of twisted plan are ya making now, Zero?”
Zero snickered, glancing at her fellow council member beside her.
“Oh no, I'm not planning anything bad~ You know that I'm just a loyal servant of the school, Baba.”“Who're ya calling an old lady!? It's Yamada! YA.MA.DA.NA.NA. OKAY!?”
“Doesn't everyone always call you Kusobaba? I thought it's your yankee name.”
The girl snickered once again from the outburst.
“Hmph, I still don't like it but it's the principal's decision. For you to be the next head of student council...”
“Don't worry, I'll work hard. Just give your position and retire to the senior daycare centre already.”
“I'm still 19 and I'm just GRADUATING from high school.”
“Again with that joke~”
The atmosphere suddenly grew heavy, but Zero kept her smile.
“Don't touch those girls or Kango-ka. They got nothing to do with them
“What are you talking about, of course I won't~”
She waved her fellow council member away, ignoring the glare the older girl was giving her. She looked out the window once again, whispering under her breath.“Not if that's what they desire...”
“Ugh—ouch, ouch, ouch...”
Nagisa cringed, feeling a sharp pain coursed through her body. She groggily opened her eyes.
“Damn that pointy chin woman, it hurts like hell... Wait, where am I?”
“A hotel room near Namba that I use as a hideout.”
She blinked, hearing Ririka voice coming from somewhere near. She tilted her gaze upward.
“Good morning, Seigi-san. You've been out for roughly five hours.”
Nagisa paused, finding her head resting on Ririka's lap as the girl held an ice pack to her sore shoulder. She blinked once again.
“What are ya doing?”
“I'm treating your wound. Fortunately you only dislocated your shoulder so nothing is broken. I've put it back and is now stopping it from getting swollen.”
“Right, thanks for the information. Now go away.”
“How cold. And you used to be such a cute innocent goody two shoes who's full of smiles.”
“Ha. Ha. Ha. How about fixing yer personality first before complaining about mine?”
Nagisa gave her a sarcastic look, taking the ice pack from Ririka and sat up on the bed. The other girl shrugged.
“Let's get back to topic. I think I've miscalculated the abilities of Gekioko's top. You probably won't lose to her in term of raw power but the gap between your experiences is too wide.”
“Because I am NOT a yankee. Tch, enough complaint; let's head back. I won't stop until I deliver their justice.”
“About that,” Ririka said as she stood and walked toward the nearby table.
“That woman gave us her wallet will all her money. And I believe she's done punishing our culprit.”
“She's also the one giving that ice-pack and helping me fix your shoulder.”
She took the said wallet and inspected its content.
“That being said, this is way too much. I believe we can give half to the client and take the rest for ourselves.”
“Did you say something, Seigi-san?” “SO COOOL----!!!!”
Ririka could only stare at Nagisa as the girl shouted in awe, her eyes shining as she grinned like an idiot.
“Strong but considerate, and also give everyone their rightful share! That's how the ally of justice should be!”
“I see that you've found a great role model...”
“Alright, I've decided. I'm going to be a cool person like her!”
“Sorry to interrupt your delusion Seigi-san, but I think we better get going now.”
Nagisa blinked, shaking herself back to reality.
“Kimotama has been calling us for the hundredth of times.”
She saw Ririka took her phone from the table, showing the call history to her. She growled.
“How can ya have a cellphone already while I don't?”
“Because I bought it myself. And one more thing.”
Ririka plainly said as she pulled the phone back.
“Your father will come home tonight.”
Nagisa finished the sentence for her.
“He's been dealing with some dangerous bunch, he said. So I won't be so hopeful.”
She didn't blame him at all. She knew that her father had been busy, with him getting promoted as the district head of Nishinari police and the rising number of crimes she saw in the news lately, and of course the reason he didn't go home so often was to avoid those bad people who's targeting him and his family. She knew. Because her father had been a bit overprotective since her mother's death. A part of him broke since then, just like her. So Nagisa had decided not to complain and that she would protect everyone else in his stead. She understood the situation very well, but as a child she couldn't deny her longing to a parental figure, to have someone to depend at times and tell her that everything would be alright.
No. I mustn't be selfish.
She sighed, seeing Ririka raised her phone to her ear as it rang once again.
“Yes Kimotama, we're on our way—“
The girl suddenly paused, and Nagisa blinked as she saw that.
“What is it? What did Shu say?”
“Change of plan, Seigi-san.”
Ririka sternly said as she walked toward the cupboard, throwing away the knife she hid and tossing a clean change of shirt to Nagisa.
“We'll take a detour to Uragami Hospital on northern Nishinari first.”
“What's wrong? Is someone hurt?”
She didn't answer. Nagisa clicked her tongue and jumped off the bed, pulling the girl's collar.“Spill it out, dammit! Who got hurt while we're away!?” “Your father.”
Nagisa froze as she heard that, her grip faltered.
“He was shot by someone in his office. His colleagues have brought him to hospital but he's in critical condition now. We better hurry.”
She didn't know what to say. Her mind went blank. She wasn't even sure how she managed to get to the hospital, staring blankly at the white floor as she rested her back on the wall, listening to the cries and sobs of her siblings.
What is this? What just happened? Her father had always been working hard to keep the town peaceful so why was he being punished for it? She shifted her gaze upward, seeing several police officers, her father's colleagues, standing there and tending to her younger siblings. She clenched her fists. Where were they? How could they let this happen? Her father was attacked in his office so shouldn't they know? She glared at them, feeling her anger started to bubble up and ready to burst.
“Stop it, Nagisa-san.”
She flinched, feeling a light tap on her left shoulder. Ririka was standing beside her, shaking her head.
“There's no point in lashing at them. You'll only make matter worse.”
She held her breath, hitting her fist lightly to the wall in attempt to control herself. Shu, who was standing on her other side, moved her hand above the girl's trembling fist, clenching it.
“C'mon, we're talking about dad here. I'm sure the old man's just gonna pop out of the operating room laughing like a goof he is.”
“And he'll say 'What's with that stupid gloomy look yer wearing, Nagi? Got a stomachache?'”
Nagisa snorted as she heard that, opening her palm and clenched the hand back.
“Yeah... Yeah, you're right... I'm sure that's what he gonna say...”
She softly smiled, trying to assure herself.
The wait was painfully exhausting. Hours passed until the girls finally saw the operating sign went off and a person walked out of the double panelled door, presumably the doctor.
“Is a family of mr. Kawakami here?”
He looked around the crowd of people, finding only children among them, until his eyes stopped on the police officers. One of them stepped up.
“I'm sorry but chief Kawakami had no other relatives but his children. I'm his assistant at work and their guardian for now.”
“Then I will talk to you about the patient's condition. Please leave the children here.”
The man nodded and instructed his men to look after them, leaving with the doctor through another door. Nagisa pushed herself from the wall and quietly followed them, peeking through the small gap on the door. Shu and Ririka tagging along with her.
--”Doctor, how was the operation?”
--”We managed to remove the bullet from the patient's wound and stop the infection from spreading, but it seems like the patient had suffered a severe blood loss. Had his bleeding been left for a second longer the patient would probably not survive.”
--”The sudden loss of blood cause a hypovolemic shock in the patient's body and damage some of his organs. We had already lost his kidneys and there's still implications of damage on his brain tissue.”
The words were too difficult for her to understand but the girl knew at least one thing, that her father was still in a dangerous condition.
--”We will try to find a matching donor and conduct the surgery as fast as we can, but...”
--”I understand what you mean. It can't be helped, I'll talk to the children—“
“Can't be helped?”
Nagisa quietly said, startling the two men as she appeared from behind the door.
“Why do you mean? Why can't ya help dad right now?”
“Nagisa,” The police officer crouched to her height, holding her shoulders.
“It might be hard for you to understand but there's a strict law in our country about finding and doing organ transplant. And the cost for doing it—
“So it's money, huh?”
Ririka cut in, approaching the man. She switched her gaze to the doctor.
“Are you also thinking of discharging him in case we don't have the necessary fund to continue his treatment?”
“Listen, miss. We will do our best according to the proper regulations.“
“Regulations? So what?”
Shu joined in, glaring at the doctor.“Ya admit that you'll let him die like that!?”
Nagisa gritted her teeth as she heard that, yanking the officer's grip off her shoulders.
“Nagisa, listen to me—“I've heard enough.”
She averted her gaze and walked away, trying her best not to slam the door behind her so that she wouldn't wake her siblings that had fallen asleep in the other room. Chihiro opened her eyes from the small disturbance, waking up just in time to see her older sister leaving toward the stairs.
“It's alright, Chihiro.”
Ririka said in assurance.
“Nagisa-san just need some time alone.”
“...why? What happened?”
She switched her gaze to Shu, a slight fear in her eyes.
"Hey, Shu-neechan, say something..."
Shu looked away. She could only watch as Nagisa's figure disappeared up the stairs.
The girl continued to climb until the rooftop, hearing the constant sound of her own footsteps hitting the floor as she walked toward the edge of the building. The city below was still in its same merry atmosphere that night, mockingly oblivious, as if laughing at her misery, and she planted her hands on the railing.“AAAAAHHH!!!!”
Nagisa shouted, her tears freely pouring down her cheeks as she yelled her heart out, cursing the rotten world before her. She didn't understand. She didn't understand this at all. Why did her father have to suffer like that? What wrong had he made to deserve it?
“Hah... Ha ha ha~”
She slid down to her knees, laughing among her sobs. No. That's not right. Her father didn't do anything wrong. He's always fighting for justice so the one hurting him are the bad guys. His colleagues who left him to die, and the doctor who chose money above his patient's life, them too. The girl laughed even louder.
…“Should I get rid of them all?” “My, how scary.”
Nagisa flinched, hearing an unfamiliar voice coming from behind her. She turned around, seeing a girl she never knew appeared from the stairs.
“If children saw their hero of justice laughing so evilly like that they'll undoubtedly cry in their seat."
She hastily wiped her tears, giving the girl a cold look.
“Who are you?”
“Right, silly me. I forgot to introduce myself.”
The girl gave her a quick bow.
“My name is Fujie Reina, second year of Gekioko High, also the head of its student council.
You can call me [Zero] for short. I believe you're miss Kawakami Nagisa, correct?”
Gekioko. Nagisa loosened her guard a bit as she heard that.
“I knew about you from your...'brief visit' to our school this afternoon. I'm just curious what kind of person you are since Antonio and Coby seem to have taken quite a liking on you.”
“Sorry. But I'm in no mood for a talk right now.”
“I know. I've heard about what happened to your father, and I believe I can help you.”
Zero approached her slowly, careful as not to provoke the unstable girl.
“We from the student council are obliged to scout potential students that may receive special scholarship from the school. Do you know what scholarship means?”
“That you'll give me a huge load of money?”
“Yes, even more. Gekioko High School is focused in medical study and our parent company owns a private hospital as well as several medicine factories. If you agree to enter the scholarship program we will cover all of your father's treatments along with your school tuitions.”
“Heh, then go approach Gakushu. I have no brain for studying.”
“Now now, Kawakami-san. Have you forgotten?”
Nagisa blinked, hearing the older girl snickered at her response.“Gekioko is not just some private medical school. We're also known as one of the strongest yankee school in Osaka.”
The girl clenched her fist in realization, and Zero smiled wider.
“Precisely. We won't give your scholarship based on your academic ability, but from your performance as the school's special security unit. You can say it's like an elite force who serve our justice.”
Zero swished a name card from her pocket, handing it to the girl.
“This is the address of our off-school office. Come whenever you're ready, we will give your 'scholarship' in advance and fill you in with some basic trainings. But,”
She raised her index finger to her mouth.
“Kept quiet about it from your other siblings. The 'special security' of a yankee school isn't a peaceful job and I'm sure you don't want them to worry.”
“...don't need it.”
Nagisa blandly said, ripping the card in her hands and letting the remains fluttered toward the bustling city. She turned her empty gaze to the girl.“Take me to yer office right now. I will take this 'scholarship' of yours this instant.”
Zero chuckled as she heard that.
“Then welcome onboard. But first thing first, we can't have you running around with your real name. Another bad guys might come to target you like your father. Hmm, I think Antonio called you with another name. What was it...”
The girl tapped her chin.“[Seigi], was it?”
“I see. That's a perfect name for you; an embodiment of justice. Well then,”
She offered her right hand.“I'm looking forward to work with you, Seigi-chan~”
At first it was hell.
She remembered her first job; catching a man who's been secretly dealing drugs to students in Gekioko territory. It was nothing like those mock 'missions' she used to do with Ririka and Shu, the way her heart throbbed against her ribcage, adrenaline pumping through her veins as she fought between life and death. It's kill or be killed; so her instinct told her as she saw the man pulled out a knife and aimed for her neck. The cold metal grazed her skin lightly and she pummelled the man's face as hard as she could, feeling really afraid for the first time. She raised one hand to her neck. If it wasn't for that black choker Zero gave her she would've already lost it.
She held her breath as she saw Zero walking past her. Two loud sounds and a familiar smell of gunpowder. The next moment she saw the man already whimpering on the ground, clutching his bleeding legs.
“Hello, small fry. Thank you for trespassing on our territory while I'm training a new recruit. I was just looking for a good target practice. Now Seigi-chan, c'mere~”
The girl snickered and stepped on the man's head, tossing the gun to her.“Kill him.”
She froze. The blood inside her ran cold as she shakily held the killing device.
“This is how you pass down a true justice. By getting rid of all bad guys in this world~”
Yes. She knew. She'd also been yearning to do that for years.
Mercy. Kindness. Hesitation.
She had no need for them anymore.
She stepped forward, slowly pointing the gun to the man's head, and she saw the man smiled.
She remembered throwing up and falling to her knees right then, relieving that same nightmare for the next countless nights. Chihiro would come and climb to her bed those times, hugging her and whispering words of comforts to her ear until she fell asleep. Eventually she started to grow numb to them all, both to the smell of blood and the helpless plea of her target. She just raised the device to their head.
BANG. BANG. BANG.
And everything would return to a peaceful silence.
Sometimes her target would struggle and she'd lose her gun. By then she didn't have any choice but to turn to her rage, ripping their throat with her bare hands. Her actions seemed to satisfy Zero even more, as she tested and prompted her to get better use of that power.
That same routine continued every night.
A never ending nightmare.
Nagisa blinked, hearing someone calling and pulling her out of her thought. She raised her head.
It was Shu.
She was playing baseball with her, on that field behind Gekioko High like they used to.
“Hm? What is it?”
She gave her a generic answer, putting on a huge smile. A huge fake smile.
Half a year had passed since she first met Zero. Her father had been moved to Gekioko's private hospital and she'd been doing her part of the deal to ensure his continued treatments, leaving whenever school ended and coming home late at night or early the next day. It's just a part-time job, she told her siblings with a smile, and somehow they decided to not ask any further. Probably since everyone had their hands full themselves; Shu earning her own share to feed their younger siblings, Chihiro taking care of them and their daily necessities, while Ririka pulling some strings with the officials to keep the orphanage running. But when she found Shu asking her to skip school today and head to the baseball court, she knew the silence had reached its breaking point.
“Say...”, the girl hesitantly asked, “Yer entering Gekioko next year, right? Why there?”
Nagisa hummed to herself, catching the ball that Shu threw at her. Seemed like the girl decided to mention a different topic. She threw the ball back, lightly, only lightly, as she's afraid of putting too much power and hurting her friend.
“For world’s peace.”
“Pfft, wait what!?“
Shu snorted, trying to hold back her laugh.
“How the heck you come to that, ya blockhead?”
“Eeeh, well… They’re one of the strongest schools ‘round here, ain’t they? So if I take their top I’ll be the strongest in Osaka.”
She let the lies flowed naturally, seeing Shu catching the ball with her baseball mitt.
“From there I’ll take the top of the top, then the higher top, all and all until the highest top. If people only listen to the strongest, then I’ll be the strongest and make ‘em listen to what I say.”
“Then you’ll tell ‘em to make peace with each other.”
Shu sighed and threw the ball back.
“…geez, why do I hafta to stuck with a delusional idiot like you.”
“What’s that ya stinkin’ brat!?”
She playfully yelled, throwing the ball with a bit more power. Just a bit.
“Nah, nothing. But Gekioko, huh? They have a low passing grade so I’m sure we’ll pass.”
“Whaddya mean ‘we’?”
“Well, thanks to YOU we’re stuck together now. So I’ll follow ya even to the depth of hell.”
“Why? And why yer blaming me for that!?”
“Because… Heh, I’m sure a super-dense blockhead like you will never understand—!”
Nagisa clicked her tongue, feeling the ball slipped from her glove as Shu threw it a bit too high. She sent an annoyed look to her friend, who only scratched her head halfheartedly in apologize, before she ran after the ball that was rolling on the field. “So the information I got from Basset was right. You do play on this field once in a while.”
The ball stopped, a black boot blocking its trail. Nagisa blinked and raised her head, seeing the owner took the ball with their right hand. “Still as lively as ever, don't cha? Little girl.”
“Shit, Na—Seigi! Run!”
Shu shouted in panic, running toward her frozen friend.
“It's a Gekioko yankee—“
“Oh, it's Antonio-san. Hello~”—the heck?
Shu skidded into a sudden stop, almost tripping on her own shoes as she heard the light reply. She shook her head and stared at the two in disbelief, seeing Antonio passing the white leather ball back to Nagisa with a smirk.
“Oi wait, Seigi!”
Shu growled, tugging the girl's right sleeves.
“Ya know that person!?”
“Hm? Yeah, this is Antonio-san. The top of Gekioko and also my mentor.”Your mentor in WHAT?
Shu tried to convey the words through her glare but Nagisa only tilted her head, oblivious of the look. Antonio chuckled.
“Though the only thing she does is challenging me once in a while and getting her butt kicked. A friend of yours, Seigi?"
“Yeah, this is Kimotama. My best friend."
“Your best friend? I thought yer partner was that poker-faced girl from the other day.”
Nagisa crunched her face in disgust as she heard that, finally showing some real emotion.
“No. She's just a shameless manipulator who always push me into troubles. Bet she saw me as nothing but meat shield.”
Antonio chuckled again from the response.
“I see. But let's put that aside for now, I come here to warn you.”
“Yes. Soon enough a big war between yankees will happen.
I advise you and yer friends to stop coming here for a while.”"
Nagisa narrowed her eyes as she heard that, staring at the older girl in silence. She knew about that war from Zero. But she didn't say anything. She only stole a glance at Shu and seeing the smaller girl nodded in reply.
“Okay. We won't cause you any trouble.”
“That's a huge relief. Pass the information to yer other friends; we don't want anyone unrelated getting caught in the cross-fire.”
Nagisa gave her a playful reply, faking off another huge smile. She's getting better at doing it, locking off her feelings and lying with her facial expressions. The act made her feel guilty at first, but eventually it became a habit that she ended up fooling everyone around her without thinking. She's even confident enough to fool both Chihi and Shu by now, though she's not sure if it's really effective with Ririka. She could never guess what lies inside her philosopher friend's head. Perhaps the girl had suspected something, perhaps she had even known everything already. She wouldn't care as long as the girl stayed out of her way, so she thought as she waved Antonio her goodbye, feeling Shu's glare still boring at her from her side.
“Is THAT person the real reason yer aiming for Gekioko?”
“Ain't she so cool?”
“Cool, my ass.”
Shu growled in frustration, hitting her friend's head with her baseball mitt.
“Dad will cry if he woke up and find you've become a yankee!”
“C'mon, he won't~ Even as a yankee I'll still be the protector of justice~”
Nagisa laughed, patting her grumpy friend on her head.
'If'. That word struck her a bit.
They said it's a miracle her father still alive until now, though he had yet regained his consciousness and his condition hadn't get any better. She tried to believe that it's only a matter of time until he recovered, so she would visit him at every possible chance, sitting by his bed to talk to him, reminiscing the time when both he and her mother were still smiling beside her. She would tell him about those happy old times, like when they went to watch the light festival together one christmas, with the small Chihiro sleeping in her mother's arms. And she would do it too without fail today.
“Hey, dad. Are yer pillows comfortable today, too? Ha ha~”
She sat on her usual spot, smiling at his sleeping figure.
“It's already a year and I've become a high school student now. Ah, Chihi's fine. She's thinking of taking over the orphanage once she graduates junior high though, which worry me a bit. Anyways,”
She showed him the white Gekioko uniform under her red jacket, tapping the two stars badge on her collar.
“I've grown so strong that I sweep the floor with those yankees and earn the title of a Gekioko's general from them. Bet ya can't believe it~” “I surely can't.”
Nagisa paused, glancing at the door to see Ririka standing there. Her eyes turned cold.
“Whaddya want, Gakushu? Bragging to dad as well for joining the yankee school ya hate so much?”
“I have my reason.”
The girl sighed and walked inside, locking the door behind her. Nagisa stood as she saw that, watching the girl approached her in quick steps.“Time to move him from this rotten facility, Seigi-san.”
Ririka whispered to her ear, yanking her red jacket and pulling her closer.“You've been deceived long enough.”
Nagisa growled in answer, her eyes locked on the surveillance camera above the door.
“What do you mean...”
“Are you really that blind? The owner of this place and Gekioko; the Yoshimoto-gumi. They've been using you as their personal hitman.”
“I'm only getting rid of bad people.”
“Those bad people you're talking about are those who meddle with their own filthy business. Or innocent people dragged into their traps.”
She clicked her tongue and brought her own hand to the girl's neck, clenching it threateningly.
“Ya always have a big mouth for someone who do the least.”
“I didn't just spend this one year doing nothing. I've searched about them and the ruthless things they do; they had no intention to help your father.”
“And why should I trust you?” “This is not the time to be stubborn!”
Nagisa flinched. It was the first time she heard Ririka raised her voice.
“Listen, you fool. They're only keeping your father as a hostage and will kill him in case you betray them. If that's not enough they'll get their hands on Chihi and the rest of your siblings. And if that's still not enough...”
Her grip trembled.
“They'll get rid of you... for good...”
The voice died out almost pleadingly, but still, Nagisa didn't say anything. She just stood there in silence, until she heard Shu yelling and banging the door from outside. She sighed.
“To defeat monsters you have to become a bigger monster; yer currently looking for a different alternative to that phrase, ain't cha?”
Ririka froze, feeling Nagisa yanked her grip and pushed her away.
“If ya can't find the answer, then stop getting in my way.”
The voice was as cold as ice, almost ruthless, and Nagisa walked past her, unlocking the door. Shu was standing on the other side, a confused look on her face.
“What, yer inside? What're you doing locking the door and being so quiet? And why's Gakushu in there as well!?”
“Nothing important. Well, I gotta go. See ya~”
“Wait, Sei—and there she goes. Geez, the heck is wrong with her lately?”
“...I almost find it.”
Shu switched her gaze to Ririka, catching the girl's almost inaudible mumble.
“The answer; if you just believe me and give me some more time, I'm sure I'll eventually find it.”
“Answer? What're talking—whoa, the heck!? Yer crying!”
Shu darted eyes around in panic, didn't know what to do with her friend who rarely showed any emotion.
“H-hang on. What did Seigi do to ya? Wait, ya realize yer crying right now, right?”
Ririka didn't answer. She just whispered under her breath, clenching her fists.“A way for monsters like us... like you, to be happy...”
=0=0=0=0=0=0=0=0= “High school police?”
--“That's right. Do you remember the great yankee war a few months ago?”
“What about it?”
Nagisa shrugged, speaking to Zero through her phone. Of course she remembered. It was caused deliberately by Yoshimoto-gumi to find another potential recruits like her by provoking Antonio to attack Salt, the current top Majisuka that time and her long time rival. The war ended prematurely though, when a transfer student came to Majisuka and defeated both schools into submission, or so she heard.
--“Would it surprise you if I say someone too deliberately stopped the war to hinder us?”
“Heh, is this where the high school police come in?”
Nagisa opened the locker before her, taking out the papers in it. There's no gun for this job again, huh?
--“Kojima Mako. The first specimen of project Joshikou Keisatsu created by the national police agency. She was sent to infiltrate Majisuka and put an end to that war.”
“So this is the true identity of the transfer student?”
--“Now that's a no. She was sent months before the transfer student came and had blended in perfectly without us knowing.”
“Well, whatever. Ya want me get rid of her, right? At least give me a photo.”
--“That won't be necessary. I've tricked her to come to the designated address I left for you. She's under the yankee name Kamisori if that'll help.”
Oh. She knew that name. It's one of the transfer student's loyal underlings. Guess she had probably seen the girl one time. But using civilians to do their work without dirtying their hands, the police force sure had grown more rotten in her father's absence.
“What a joke.”
She closed the locker and cover her head with her hood. --“Good luck, Seigi. I'll give you a present after finishing this job so do your best~”
Really, what a joke. She thought to herself as she turned off the call, putting her phone to her pocket. Just how did Zero trick the girl, by masquerading as a senior officer and call her out? Not that she care though. At least she knew that a young girl standing alone inside this abandoned building would undoubtedly be her target.
“Kamisori of Majisuka, or should I say, Kojima Mako from Tokyo special police department?”
The girl in red jacket flinched and turned around, glaring at her.
“And you are?”
“Aah, it's too troublesome to explain. I'll just have you die right now, 'kay?” SLAM--
Nagisa sighed, taking the girl's head and slamming her skull to the concrete wall in the next second. She swatted away the blood in her hand.
“Job's done. Time to go home—” SMACK!
She paused, finding the girl standing back from the wreck and swung a punch to her face. She didn't budge from the blow, raising her both hands to catch the girl's head.
“Whoa, scary... Yer a zombie or something? Please be a good girl and stay dead.” SNAP--
She twist the girl's head, breaking her neck so easily, like snapping a toothpick. The body limply fell to the floor right afterwards, and she sighed once again, staring down at it.
“In the end... still know nothing...”
She heard the girl spoke between her shallow breath. Her blank eyes staring at something, or someone, beyond the concrete walls. And she smiled.
“...but I'm glad you'll be safe this way... onee...chan...”
Nagisa clicked her tongue in annoyance. She hated seeing the moment before her target's death, hearing their last words that's filled either with compassion or hatred, laying bare their true self. That way she knew that some people she killed weren't completely evil. That they also had a reason to do what they did. Their own justice to believe in. The thought left a bad aftertaste in her mouth and she walked away, leaving the scene with impatient steps. That's it for today. She had enough. She'd wash off this sickening stench of blood and head home, back to meet the smiling faces of her siblings and their innocent laughters. Back to where Chihi was.
It's currently 7pm. Her little sister probably just got home after fetching their youngest siblings from the daycare and is preparing for dinner. She needed to see her right now, as soon as possible, before a troublesome feeling called 'guilt' started eating up on her. The sight of their house seen on the distance made her let out her breath in relief and Nagisa quickened her steps, planting her hand on the doorknob.
The door was not locked.
She blinked and carefully stepped inside, looking around the dark empty hallway.
"Chihi, ya forgot to lock the front door."
She said it a bit louder, hearing her own voice echoed among the silence.
"Oi~ Chihi? Everyone? Are we playing hide and seek?"
She closed the door behind her, catching a familiar nauseating smell. Was there still some blood left on her clothes? No, the stench didn't come from her. Where was it from? She walked deeper toward the living room, feeling the smell growing stronger and stronger.
An arm was lying on the floor, expanding from the kitchen door. She approached and nudged it lightly.
"What are ya doing? If ya sleep here yer gonna catch a cold."SQUELCH--
Nagisa froze. There was nothing on the other end of the arm. Only blood oozing from the hollow part. She yelped and fell to her butt.
"H-hey, this is not funny! Y'know that oneechan is such a sucker for horrors. Hey, Chihi—"SPLAT. SPLAT. SPLAT.
Another bizarre sounds, like the sound of a child jabbing and playing with their meal. She stood and walked into the kitchen, trying to find the source."Oh, you're here~"
A voice. A sweet playful voice.
She knew this voice. She knew this voice so well. It's not supposed to be here but there it was.
Its owner standing among the bodies of her siblings scattered on the floor, smiling as she held a short japanese sword on her hand. The sight simply failed to register in her mind.
"Welcome home, Seigi. I was just about finished preparing your present."
The girl stabbed her sword to one of the body.
"I was thinking of making it a surprise and leave before you get home. But it seems like you catch me mid-preparation. My bad~"
"What... are you doing?"
"What do you think?"
She teasingly asked, before she answered it herself.
"I'm getting rid of your emotional attachment~ You see, Seigi, you can't be righteous if you're doing it for your family. Because if you do, that means you're only selling other people's life for your own desire while passing it off as 'justice'. You understand what I mean, don't you?"
Nagisa didn't know what to say anymore. Didn't know what to think. She fell to her knees, her gaze fell on the still body of her little sister, seeing her dull eyes staring right to hers, the robust light that used to be there had disappeared.
"Yes. This is it!"
Zero laughed and spread her both arms to her side, splattering blood to the already red scenery."Your true form of [Justice]."AAAAAAAAA----------AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
She screamed on top of her lungs.
She screamed and charged at the smiling girl before her, rage coursing through her whole being and fuelling her murderous intent. Her reason completely left her. She thought she saw Zero pulling her sword and thrust it toward her but she couldn't feel anything. Only pure rage. And the frustrated feeling of her fists hitting empty air.
The sense of time left her. And before long she no longer knew what's happening.
The only thing left was darkness.And a curse, burning the event of 'that day' in the back of her mind.
..."I'll kill you. Zero."
The Epitome of Justice : Chapter 15 // END