Chapter 16: The Kazekama and Unit 2
It was still early evening when Unit 2 reached their site.
Stoic Supervisor Isamu Ooishi.
Rough-mouthed, flashily dressed, game-carrying Arata Kamo.
Brash and flashily dressed in a different, the sword-carrying woman Katsumi Inukai.
Short and slim, wearing a traditional hakama and haori that seemed strange for everyday modern wear, Jurou Katou.
The thin, normal, but easily overlooked Gakuto Yamada.
It was a splendidly conspicuous group of mismatched people.
Although they were officially known as a crime investigation unit, their job was actually something quite different.
Although most people wouldn’t know.
But among the people who did know, there were those who also knew what they were here to do.
“Geh. The Witch-!”
Katsumi Inukai, the pony-tailed woman with a pink streak in it, immediately made a face like she’d just stepped in something gross.
A certain, colorless woman was walking down the street towards them, weaving effortlessly through the crowds with a man in a suit behind her.
She was waving frivolously with a smiling face as she came closer.
“What are YOU doing here? Coming to interfere again?”
She seemed to be the only one of Unit 2 who really seemed upset at the colorless woman’s appearance, though.
The others just looked like they were resigned to the fact that the Witch had appeared.
The colorless woman, the Witch, smiled even more broadly.
“Mou, Inu-chan, I’m a contractor, a contractor~.”
“I’m not Inu-chan! It’s Inukai! Katsumi Inukai!”
“Contractor… is that how you put it? An unfortunate relationship is what it is, I think, Ms. Witch.”
Ignoring Katsumi’s raging the short man, Jurou, addressed the Witch.
The Witch laughed, somehow seeming delighted with the negative attention.
With a coquettish tilt of her head, she said,
“Well it’s true I’m not working for you gentlemen today~”
*Kon kon kon*
Geta sounded on the pavement as yet another eccentric figure appeared.
A monotone, strict woman’s voice spoke from behind the witch.
“So the civil servants have finally decided to take action.”
Whe he saw her, Supervisor Ooishi furrowed his brows together by the merest millimeter before he addressed the woman who had suddenly appeared in a subtle, dark-colored kimono and geta clogs.
“…Azami-san. Is there a reason a representative of the Saitou Clan is here?”
“I bring a message from Oku-sama. ‘I do hope you can end this case safely,’ she says, as well as, ‘Use this to your best advantage.’”
Azami-san placed a piece of paper into Supervisor Ooishi’s hand and, with a bow, turned and disappeared in the direction she came.
Strangely, she disappeared into the crowd in an instant.
Although a woman in a kimono and wearing geta should have stood out.
“… What an eerie woman as always. What, she came all the way just to say that? She must have a lot of free time.”
The rough-looking Arata snarled that into the screen of his game console as he furiously mashed buttons.
The Witch cooed and placed a hand alongside her face, saying,
“Oooh my, the Saitou Clan is so cold~. Even though they hired me to watch over you lot~.”
“We don’t need it, so you can go away.”
Katsumi snapped right back at her.
The Witch smiled.
“Oh, but I’m getting paid qui~te a lot to be your support~. I’ve already notified the Blood Doctor to have beds open just in case~.”
“Tch! You –“
Before Katsumi could go any further, Supervisor Ooishi turned to the Witch.
“Nagi-san. What are the intentions the Association?”
Nagi the Witch just smiled as she placed a finger to her lips.
“Saa, who knows? I’m just a neutral, independent party, you know?”
“It bothers me that they have hired a neutral, independent party to watch us,”
Is what Supervisor Ooishi returned to her.
Even before they began their job, the members of Unit 2 were already on edge due to this exchange.
“I suppose it was naive of us to counter a wind sickle with a paper jutsu user.”
Jurou said with a sigh.
The initial plan had been a disaster. Although the origami paper chain could act like steel wire when supplied with enough spiritual power, against something with a stronger power than what it contained, it could also be easily reduced to its paper state.
Against a moderately strong youkai armed with a sickle as its main form of attack, in hindsight it should have been obvious that Arata’s jutsu’s wouldn’t be enough.
Because of that, the kazekama’s movements weren’t restrained in the slightest, and it caught the rest of them unaware when it burst through its ‘restraints’.
Katsumi was unfortunate enough to take the kazekama’s sickle straight through the stomach, and the skin and meat on her arms were shredded to a pulp.
As she lay there unable to move, Jurou and Supervisor Ooishi moved in to subdue the kazekama, but as expected, without their fastest mobile attacker, it was impossible.
Gakuto and Arata hurriedly cast a flurry of illusions and then cloaked all of Unit 2’s members with a stealth barrier before making a hasty retreat.
Gakuto let out a huge sigh as he slumped against a wall.
“Our only saving grace is that the kazekama can’t get through the barrier, thanks to the barrier strengthening talisman the Saitous handed over… but I feel like they’re dissing me so sorry if I can’t feel appreciative.”
Gakuto’s legs trembled a little at the memory of how easily Katsumi, a woman he considered invincible, had been done in.
“Shut up, we’ll show them, that shitty youkai and those stuck up Saitous! Arata! Hand over the jerky! I’ll heal up and we’ll redo it correctly!”
“For crying out loud, don’t rush me, woman. In my Storage I also have hamburgers and yakitori. What do you want to do?”
“Give me everything! I have a hole in my stomach I need to fill!”
Watching Arata and Katsumi’s exchange, and then watching Katsumi ferociously wolfing down more protein than most people could eat in one sitting, Gakuto put a hand to his mouth, saying,
“…Somehow, watching the regeneration process of a mountain dog is making me feel sick.”
“Oh my, you lot are in bad shape if this is how it’s going to go~.”
The two who had just been watching through all this, Nagi the Witch and her assistant Kei, finally broke their silence.
That the kazekama hadn’t noticed either of them at all told of their abilities compared to everyone else present.
“Shut up! If you’re going to be so critical, then why don’t you do it?”
The Witch smiled as she said,
“Hm… I dont mind, but you’ll have to get your boss’s permission~.”
Her assistant sighed and reprimanded her, saying,
“Aruji, please think about this seriously. The Youkai Mitigation Unit’s compatibility with this youkai is too poor.”
“But, you know~, even if you say that, this youkai is only mid-level, right~? Even if you say they have bad compatibility, if they keep having to rely on my powers, they’re going to rack up a debt they could never pay in a lifetime, right~?”
“Aruji… Despite the poor way you said it, you can say some useful things sometimes. I wish you would say them more often.”
“Mou-! Even my assistant badmouths me to my face! Although that’s fine~.”
Despite the cryptic and candid parts of the conversation between The Witch and her assistant, Jurou picked up the important bits, and suddenly he understood.
“Ah… I see. The message from the mistress of Saitou; this is the level of youkai we should be able to deal with, is what she was saying.”
The Witch clapped her hands together, laughing as she said,
“Oh~, you understand it well. Although, since I am unofficially your auditor, you didn’t hear it from me~.”
Supervisor Ooishi stood there in silence for a moment.
“… Is it a well-meant warning? Or a threat?”
He finally asked.
The Witch just smiled.
“Hm. I don’t know, since I’m an independent contractor after all~? But if I had to say-”
“Aruji, there should be some client privacy.”
“Oooh, that’s no fun.”
But smiling that huge smirk like that, the Witch wasn’t convincing anyone that she wasn’t having fun.
Although she and her assistant would probably intervene if anyone was seriously in danger, Unit 2 understood that they were on their own.
“Dammit. *gulp* We can still do it. We were just caught unawares. We’ll still get that damn youkai before the night is over.”
Katsumi mumbled through a mouth full of food. She soon finished all the yakitori before moving on to the pile of hamburgers that Arata had somehow whisked out of thin air.
“Indeed. The kazekama is very reactive, so instead of an actual restraint, a flurry of Arata’s paper shiki would– “
Jurou began to say, when suddenly,
The hair on the backs of their necks stood on end.
“What is that ominous spiritual power-?”
Jurou muttered, turning his head in the direction the power surge was coming from.
“Rather than ominous, it’s just ra~ther strong.”
Nagi the Witch narrowed her eyes.
This was a power that she thought she might have felt before… although what she was thinking about DID have an ominous quality that night, compared to this power that was simply overwhelming because of its strength.
Was it the same…? If it wasn’t the same as THAT monstrous youkai, if there was actually another one of that kind of grade in this town…
The Witch was concerned over many things that occurred on THIS side of reality. A surprising proportion of her concerns were political in nature.
Supervisor Ooishi instantly jumped into alert-mode.
Arata nodded as a paper talisman attached itself to his console and his eyes searched the screen quickly.
“Yeah, two streets down, at the Uniqlo. The kazekama is there too, but … did something get into the barrier? It’s different from the kazekama… what is this? If that’s from an enemy, it’s making me want to run.”
Bang! Bang! Bang!
All members froze.
Arata laughed nervously.
“Ahahaha…That’s … gunshots, right?”
“Let us go.”
“Ah, wait! Jurou, Arata!”
Gakuto chased Arata and Jurou down the street as they moved in towards the location Arata had indicated. It would be hard to keep them cloaked if they moved too far away from him.
“What the – damn! I’m not fully healed!”
Katsumi began to furiously stuff the rest of the meat products into her mouth, half choking in her rush.
Supervisor Ooishi put a hand on her shoulder to calm her down, saying,
“Katsumi, I’ll carry you. Quickly. We need to get on standby. Witch, if you’d please. I’ll send you the payment through our office.”
“Right right~. It will be my neck if I let something with this much power loose. Kei~, send a paper shiki to the Saitou… no, let’s not. Send it to Suzu-chan instead~. Indeed, this is no longer the Youkai Mitagation Unit’s job.”
“Even so, we can at least gather information.”
Supervisor Ooishi said, looking at Nagi the Witch out of the corner of his eye.
“…What… was THAT?! Was there any place for us to step in at all?!”
Still cloaked and hiding in the shadows, or rather on a fire escape, licking their wounds, Unit 2 were shocked by what they had just seen.
It didn’t last more than a few minutes, but from what they could see…
“I was only able to see about twenty of their exchanges, but the rest was too fast.”
Supervisor Ooishi said with a sigh.
“That’s great, all I saw was a blur! As I thought, it’s impossible without restricting the kazekama’s movements after all…”
Arata slid to the ground and looked up at the sky, as if to say, ‘What the hell am I supposed to do?’
Finally he said,
“…Hey, Jurou, that’s a six-tailed kitsune, isn’t it? Or like, that’s THE six-tailed kitsune, isn’t it?”
“It seems it is indeed, Arata-san.”
“How the fuck did it turn out like this?”
Jurou’s normally narrowed eyes opened just a crack as he stared down at the place the fierce battle had just occurred. In the dusk, a dim, yellow-green glow spilled out from underneath his eyelids.
“… That boy partially shares the kitsune’s scent, but I can’t imagine a child making a near godly youkai his familiar… I wonder what kind of circumstances they have… “
Jurou trailed off, a pensive look on his face
“Jurou. What is it?”
Supervisor Ooishi asked.
Jurou frowned slightly as he replied,
“I was just wondering where I have seen that man before.”
“Oh, that’s the new transfer to Unit 1.”
Katsumi spoke up from where she was re-adjusting the bandages and flexing her strangely already healed limbs..
The other members of Unit 2 stared at her in surprise.
Arata finally voiced what they were all thinking, although his eyes were fixed on his game. He was keeping track of the movements of the kazekama and the two civilians + kitsune.
“…It’s rare for Katsumi to remember someone.”
Pulling the medical wrap around her arm tight with her teeth, Katsumi said,
“Nnf. That guy, his bentous always smell really good.”
“… I should have known it would have been something like that.”
Arata rolled his eyes.
“So he’s an officer; I’d be worried otherwise, considering he has a gun.”
Gakuto said matter-of-factly.
… Come to think of it…
Jurou was better at hiding that thought, but Katsumi and Arata had it written all over their faces.
Jurou tilted his head, saying,
“I’m amazed he’s firing without hesitation. How is he going to give the account for those bullets back at headquarters?”
Still staring at his game console, Arata said,
“Put another way, an officer who doesn’t hesitate when it’s truly dangerous is a good officer, right?”
“No, I think it depends on the situation.”
Gakuto disapproved of a trigger-happy officer. Although technically, if he was in Unit 1 the man would be an inspector…
“… Hey, he’s in crime investigation, but he’s fighting a youkai. His profile wasn’t flagged as being someone involved in THIS side, or he would have been transferred to Unit 2 instead, right?”
Arata suddenly said.
Jurou frowned a little as he mused over the idea.
“Well, he’s a normal person, after all. But that’s true, even if he just believed in youkai they would have flagged his profile… I wonder how that happened. However… it seems he has no spiritual power to speak of, so… it would have to be magic, huh?
Arata made a rude noise.
“Pft. ’You’re going to be a wizard’ and all that? He’s a bit old to begin nurturing it, though. But a magic tool user is a different story…”
“Save that topic for later.”
Supervisor Ooishi cut into Jurou and Arata’s discussion of departmental recruitment and personnel training.
“That’s right, if that monstrous youkai isn’t an enemy, our job is still to subdue the kazekama. We should do it before it catches up to those three agai -”
Before he could say anything else, everyone noticed the anomaly.
“Hey… where’d it go…?”
Arata began to panic. Even though he had his shiki out, he’d lost sight of the kazekama. This was the biggest blunder -!
The remnants of his paper shiki littered the streets.
Paper really had bad affinity – no, rather, Arata was beginning to understand just how much he had been slacking off on his training. Even if you say paper is naturally weak to wind and blade youkai, if he was just a little stronger this could have all been avoided.
With that yell, Katsumi leapt into action, gripping her saber. Fur and claws went through the air as she leapt towards what she had seen.
The kazekama had, with its ridiculous speed, suddenly appeared behind the guy from Unit 1.
There was no time.
At that moment, at the very moment when their brains had just registered the situation, the boy down below screamed.
The adrenaline is pounding through my veins, and I’m expecting to see blood at any minute, but … what happened?
Even though I didn’t expect the kazekama to actually stop – who cares about that?! Daiki-san-!
Eh. Daiki-san… Hello? Moshi moshi?
*Cough.* *Cough cough.* *Cough hack cough cough coughhackgahkoffkoffkoffkoff*
I groan, doubled over on the ground, trying to gasp for air. My throat, my head… it all hurts really bad all of a sudden.
Eh… blood. I coughed blood up in my hand, though?!
The pain that ran through my head disappeared in an instant, but the pain in my throat is lingering.
What’s it like… a mixture between the pain of a sore throat from coughing too much, and drinking extra-spicy hot sauce? Something like that.
…No, aside from that, this, it’s not a terminal illness, right?
Even though I don’t think that’s the case, what’s worrying is worrying!
All of a sudden, Honoka makes a large sound, then comes rushing over.
Just when she attacked the kazekama from the side, so that she could put herself between it and Daiki-san, the kazekama also seemed to wake with a start as it sucked in a hissing breath of air before propelling itself out of the way of Honoka’s flame-covered arms.
At that same moment, Daiki-san took a gasp of air and fell over.
What is this unnatural…
I try to call out to him, but my throat is having problems working.
Although he seems a little confused, Daiki-san calmly moved himself into a kneeling position while carefully aiming his gun.
“… you… strange. Power… That power… give me… you… power… take…”
Ugh-! Like a creepy broken record, the kazekama stands and stares at me, muttering and chattering to itself.
“…Hey, Honoka, that thing, it’s targeting Kousei now, isn’t it?”
Daiki-san says, keeping his gun and his eyes on the currently motionless youkai.
Honoka frowns, and just as alert as Daiki-san, she also keeps her eyes on the kazekama as she mutters,
“…It’s become like this after all. Even though it only wanted to get rid of us and get out of the barrier just a few seconds ago.”
Seriously. I don’t need this kind of popularity…
I only think that thought idly because I’ve thought that almost every day of this lifetime.
“But… yeah, even intelligent youkai would show this reaction if they were shown that kind of power. What a ridiculous master I’ve been picked up by.”
Honoka only mumbles her words this time, but I hear it all the same.
“What… do you mean…? *koffkoff* What happen…ed?”
“Save it for later, she’s coming.”
Honoka tenses, and sure enough, that kazekama leaps at us…
… into a cloud of… something?
… Origami cranes?
It screws up the kazekama’s leap, and the kazekama falls short of Daiki-san and me.
In a fit of rage, the kazekama slashes wildly, shredding the cloud of paper, but a shadow suddenly appears, landing behind the kazekama with a thud.
A blade slices through the air, cutting its head off.
As the kazekama’s head sails through the sky, a woman’s voice slurs,
“Payback, ya bitch!”
A woman with strange, furry, beastial arms grins as she sent the head flying, but then a voice calls a warning out of nowhere.
“Oi, Katsumi, watch out!”
As expected of a youkai. Even with its head cut off, it’s still alive.
Or like, the head is moving by itself through the air!?
What is it, a rokurobi1 cordless version?!
Before the head could bite down on the woman with the sword, Honoka catches the head of the kazekama by its stringy hair and a white-orange fire lights from her grip, traveling swiftly up the hair as it screeches.
“-Ah! This thing…”
It snapped away from Honoka, leaving bits of burning hair in Honoka’s grasp, in a desperate bid to flee from the fire, but
Daiki-san, who had just been waiting for his chance to shoot this entire time, sent a bullet right between its eyes.
The kazekama moaned, jittering.
“…I’ll destroy it now,”
Honoka began to say, the flames in her hands glowing even more fiercely, but the woman with the sword turned to her right and yelled,
A thud sounded and a short, slim man jumped down from above, wearing a hakama and haori.
Where did he – eh. There are people over there. I didn’t notice at all!
Although it’s a bit late… so these are the people who were hunting this youkai, huh?
The shorter man’s eyes were narrowed, but now he opened them wide. His eyes glow an eerie green-yellow.
The man moved forward, unhinged his mouth … unhinged… mouth… eh. EH? EEEEEH?!!!!
“H-h-he just… he just ate…”
I point with a trembling finger.
That man, he just ate the kazekama!!!!! Just chomped down on it, and sucked it all in!
Honoka moved to stand slightly in front of me, seeming to shield me from these new strangers. She frowned and said,
“Umu. That one is the descendent of an oni, it seems. I can understand that. But I don’t know what that girl is.”
Is that eating thing natural?! No, well, I do know low-powered and low-intelligence youkai eat each other to gain powers, but oni aren’t – eh, no, oni are known to devour despite having decent intelligence, but … this can’t be normal!
Eh… wait, so that woman with the sword and with fur on her arms and legs and those claws for nails are something Honoka doesn’t recognize? She has animal ears on her head and a tail as well.
They’re not as fluffy and supernatural-looking as Honoka’s, though. If I had to say, it looked more like an actual animal’s tail and ears.
As my mind reels in confusion and notices all the tiny, unimportant details while refusing to process the important information, the short man stands up and delicately places a sleeve-covered hand to his mouth.
His eyes are closed again and he gives a soft, well-mannered chuckle as he says,
“Thank you for the meal.”
… That’s freaking creepy.
- rokurobi – a woman/person youkai with a long neck whose head can move around as if flying through the air
<A/n: Mu. I was going so well, and then got hit with cold-type symptoms. Well, it went away soon so I was only delayed a couple days.>