The Disappearance of Yusuke Urameshi
Note: If you haven't read the end of the manga…a couple of things happened after where the anime ended that I'll be mentioning in this story, including in this first chapter. I'll summarise the relevant differences after the chapter, for those who don't know. And please see that before leaving a review telling me I got something wrong; maybe I did, or maybe it was one of those couple of manga-exclusive things.
Visitors to Kuroko Sanada's home were not common, a fact she greatly appreciated. This time, the hour was late enough that her children were in bed, and her husband was upstairs, staring at a blank page in the hopes of filling it with words. Thus, she was alone when she answered the door. This saved what would otherwise have been some trouble explaining that the man with 'Jr.' tattooed on his forehead and a pacifier in his mouth was, in fact, the new ruler of Spirit World.
She paused for a moment, seeing his expression. "I'm retired," she said firmly.
"I've got no-one else left," he replied.
"I'm done." She went to slam the door, stopping as she saw him wince.
His leg was already halfway through the door. "Please don't break my foot," he pleaded. "You can say no. I'll leave. But please wait until after you've heard the situation." She said nothing. "I'm not leaving until you hear me out. Would you like to have this conversation here in the doorway, or in there, sitting down? It is starting to rain."
I could leave him out in the rain. It wouldn't be hard. A few seconds of silence later, Kuroko sighed. "I guess that's it, then." She fully opened the door. "If you're desperate enough to try and pull me back, once I know what's going on I won't be able to say no." I'll regret this.
Koenma laid four photos on the coffee table, indicating one of them. "Now, you already know Mr. Urameshi."
"Yeah, sure." She nodded, taking a swig of her drink. "Not the other three, though."
"His compatriots—they accompanied him on most of his cases for me. Kazuma Kuwabara, an old schoolfriend of Yusuke's, 'retired' to focus on life as a student. Hiei and Kurama, a pair of demon ex-convicts, each affiliated with one of the two surviving Demon Kings. Both S-Class, as of a few years back."
"Sounds like the kind of company Yusuke'd keep," Kuroko agreed. "What about them?"
"This is actually right up your alley, Spirit Detective," Koenma said. "This is a missing-persons case. All four have disappeared."
Kuroko took this in. "How much do we know?"
"Next to nothing. The motive seems fairly clear-cut, however; the second Demon World Tournament is coming up soon, and the removal of Yusuke, Kurama and Hiei from the running will cause a significant shift in the balance of power. This will affect all three worlds. The culprit is either a party that stands to gain from this shift, or someone who wishes to frame such a party."
"That doesn't explain Kuwabara's disappearance…" Kuroko pointed out.
"It's possible the kidnapper anticipated he would come looking for them and acted pre-emptively, or simply had some twisted sense of 'completeness' out of taking the entire team. Or perhaps Kuwabara was a red herring, only taken to make us question the motive…"
"I get the picture."
"The Spirit and Demon Worlds are in uproar, of course," Koenma added. "These are some of the most influential figures of modern history. If they aren't found, there'll be hell to pay…everyone's at each other's throats. Enki's having trouble keeping it together, even with my help. Operating in any official capacity in the current tense climate would shift suspicions all over the place…that's why this assignment will be entirely off-the-books. I can't go to any of the team's current associates for the same reason—and the SDF are too tangled in red tape after everything my father was involved in."
"Hence, me." Kuroko sat back. "The only Spirit Detective with a 'normal' run. You must hate having to involve me; if something happens to me, your success rate goes from one in three to flat nothing. So, on that note, any leads?"
"A few things, but nothing conclusive…motives of the other Demon World Tournament favourites…the fact that I can't entirely rule out Yusuke playing some twisted prank on all of us…rumours about a revived Dark Tournament…various vague ancient prophecies which could be loosely interpreted to fit this sitiation—"
"Go back one."
"The Dark Tournament?" Koenma asked.
"The timing's too perfect." She put her emptied glass down. "Still, though…it's making a comeback?"
"I thought the organisers were all killed, and the stadium completely destroyed…"
Koenma looked indecisive. "I had wondered about it. With the new status quo, I wouldn't think there'd be any need for such a thing."
"Hopeless optimism. Even if demons aren't being brainwashed or statistics being faked, there's still no shortage of greed for power and money. Used to be organised by human businessmen, with demon competitors…I bet you this one's more of a mix. The lines between the two races are getting a little blurred."
"Which worries you."
"Only instinctively. I spent a lot of my life trying to keep demons out of this plane. Old habits die hard."
Koenma leaned forwards, rubbing his temples. "I suppose the timing is a little convenient…it looks like the only promising avenue we've got."
"In any case, this gives another dimension to the motive for the kidnappings," Kuroko pointed out. "Yusuke and co. would be your first choice in trying to break up the Dark Tournament if something unusual did happen there that you needed stopped. Turning to any other high-ranking demons, or even the SDF, would be disastrous considering the knife-edge situation right now."
"So, someone is extremely adamant this new Dark Tournament will go off without a hitch, or wants to influence Demon World politics, or both. Assuming, again, one isn't a red herring…"
Kuroko stood up, going over to the window, not speaking for a couple of minutes. "I hate to say this," she finally said, "but since it's our only lead…well, you know what the best way to infiltrate it is."
Koenma closed his eyes. "I'm sorry…" He continued after a moment, "Look, if whoever is behind this can make people like Yusuke vanish without a trace, it might be best to just uncover what's going on and then get out, all right?"
She ignored this. "I'll need a team to enter. Four more, and a reserve if you can find one."
"I can do that. I'll need a few weeks…"
"You have two." She looked back over her shoulder at him. "That's the start date, but I don't know the location. Only prominent underworld figures get invites—so while you're putting together a team, I'll do my best to track one down."
"All right. And once you've entered, I'll pursue the other end—try and discreetly investigate the higher-ups in Demon World. But like I said, the situation's already at boiling point—my ability to operate in an official capacity is extremely limited."
"Understood." Kuroko nodded. Damn it all…
A series of holes had been knocked through each successive wall of the fortified compound; someone had passed through in a direct line, not bothering with such trifles as doors or corridors. Strewn in their wake was a trail of unconscious guards, spent shell casings and broken weapons.
In the innermost chamber, through a three-foot-thick steel door ripped off its hinges, lay a small office. In one corner lay six twitching demons, each with at least one broken limb. In the centre of the room, standing over a pile of sawdust that had formerly been a desk, Kuroko was holding a fat, balding, finely-dressed man in the air one-handed, staring calmly up at him. "That was a demonstration. As you can see, I alone am far superior to the entire team you were planning on entering in the Dark Tournament. Furthermore," she bluffed, though she hoped that this would turn out to be true, "I assure you that each of my teammates is roughly at my level of combat prowess."
She set him down. "I require your reserved entry slot—your invitation. I will give you any winnings I receive, if you accept."
"And if I don't?" he sneered, some bravado returning.
She shrugged. "Then my benefactor won't reimburse you for the damage I've caused."
He considered this. "Full repayment for all this…your winnings…a better team…what do you get out of this?"
She smiled. "The thrill of the fight. I've wanted to enter the Dark Tournament for years now…but I needed an in. I get the fight of my life; you get more money than your grubby little mind could dream of."
"My grubby little mind can dream of quite a lot," the mobster chuckled, straightening his suit.
"You know the Dark Tournament's reputation. You'll get it." She extended her hand. "Do we have a deal?"
"My name is Kuroko Sanada. Former Spirit Detective. I suppose Koenma's briefed you?"
"Yeah." The younger of the two teammates that had been waiting for her nodded. "I'm, uh, Kiyoshi Mitarai…I'm a psychic, I guess. I, uh…I guess I've done some things I'm not proud of, and I'm here to make up for that."
"The Sensui Seven, yes," the other, considerably larger and of more striking appearance, monotoned. "You might have heard of me, but I understand if you don't recognise me…I had to dress quite differently before I learned to control my aura." He scratched at the scar on his forehead. "My name is Bui. Former member of Team Toguro. Dark Tournament veteran."
"Sorry, I don't really know much about this stuff…" Mitarai admitted, laughing nervously.
Kuroko shrugged. "He's bad news, or was."
"I hope to continue to be," Bui countered. "Just not for you, at least this time."
"I have to wonder what you get out of this…" Kuroko added, eyes narrowing slightly. "Thrill of the fight? After the prize? Felt like doing the right thing all of a sudden?"
"I'm under no obligation to share my reasons with you," Bui said quietly, looking away from the pair of them. "You'll forgive me if I don't feel talkative towards one who devoted much of her life to hunting down and exterminating my kind." He seemed like he was about to say something else, but stopped himself.
Kuroko sighed. "I was being played by King Enma. Everyone was."
"Doesn't change the past. Do me a favour, Spirit Detective. Don't ever say a word to me that isn't tournament business."
"And, uh…me?" Mitarai hesitantly indicated himself.
Bui cast a gaze over the scrawny teenager. "Try not to die too quick, kid."
The three stood around a campfire, dawn still a ways off, still waiting for the boat that would take them to the Dark Tournament's new venue. "I don't get it, though," Mitarai mumbled, shivering in the cold. "Shouldn't this place be packed with demons?"
"Present company excluded," Kuroko added, seeing Bui roll his eyes. "But you're right. Most of the teams are on the island already, but there should still be plenty waiting to catch this boat with us…"
"There were," a low, gravely voice said, ringing out clearly across the forest despite the speaker almost talking under his breath. "But I had a word with them, and they decided to forfeit."
Bui was trembling. "I should kill you right now…"
"As I have always said…" Toguro stepped into the light, spreading his arms. "You are welcome to try. Your hatred of me is fully justified. But if I may make a humble request, save it for after we've won the tournament."
Kuroko froze. It couldn't be…he was killed—Koenma, you bastard! Are you this desperate?!
"Uh…" Mitarai stammered. "Who is—"
A softer voice heralded the arrival of a fifth fighter, as a much smaller individual stepped out from Toguro's enormous shadow. "Allow me to introduce the younger of the famed Toguro brothers," the pink-haired young woman said, "and myself. My name is Genkai, though it's been a long time since I looked this youthful, so I imagine I'll look strange to you, Miss Sanada…"
Kuroko bowed slightly to the formerly-deceased master. "It's good to see you again. Koenma…?"
"Yes, we're both here because of his doing. Well…I was reluctant, and I made him promise to let me go back after this is over, but you should have seen the convincing it took to get this one," she jerked a thumb up at Toguro, who remained impassive, "to put his self-imposed thousand-year stay in Hell on hold."
"Where is Koenma, anyway?" Mitarai asked. "He said he'd meet us here…"
"He won't be coming," Genkai replied. "One resurrection at a time is hard enough on the boy. Two just about killed him. He's still recuperating…"
"Boat's here," Toguro said flatly.
"Not a fan of small talk either," Kuroko noted. "Team Toguro must've been the life of every party."
"Scarcely a 'team'. I first offered him membership as an alternative to killing him," Toguro explained. "He accepted in order to surpass, and kill, me."
Mitarai paled. "I'm having second thoughts about this…"
Kuroko laid a hand on his shoulder. "Stick by me and Genkai. She's rough at times, but I'd trust her with my life."
Mitarai managed a slight smile. "Th…Thanks."
The boat trip itself was fairly uneventful, aside from the captain's silent incredulity when he found only the five of them waiting for him.
Bui, leaning on the railing and facing out to sea, sighed as he heard Toguro's heavy tread behind him. "You're not just here for a challenging fight, or anything so shallow," Toguro said.
Bui was silent for a moment. "If you're asking what my real reason is…maybe when you've given yours. If you're so damn repentant for your sins, how'd Koenma ever talk you into leaving Hell?"
"It was Genkai, actually. You'll forgive me if I don't disclose the exact conversation. But perhaps you could call it community service. So…" Toguro smiled unpleasantly. "Your turn."
"Fine, if it'll make you leave me alone," Bui grunted. "I've always tried to be an honourable man, though I haven't always succeeded. I've never stabbed someone in the back, and I don't lie as a rule. The Dark Tournament is the antithesis of all that."
Toguro nodded. "It's hosted by corrupt businessmen, and fought in by the lowest scum of three worlds, who'll use any advantage they can grab."
"I was happy to see it go last time. Someone thought it'd be a good idea to resurrect it…" Bui's grip tightened, the rail groaning and warping beneath his fingers. "I'm gonna drag them down to hell, and their tournament with them."
"Good luck," Toguro said, sounding earnest. "We'll need that kind of conviction."
"Will we? Don't tell me you're worried?"
"Not worried," came Genkai's voice as she approached. "Just realistic. The level of the competitors is a lot higher than previous years, thanks to the increased traffic between worlds…a team like ours won't be able to just breeze through anymore."
"I doubt anyone above B-Class would have even bothered to enter," Toguro said, "fortunately for us; but there will be a lot more B's."
Standing a few metres off, Mitarai looked over his shoulder to Kuroko. "B-Class?"
"Spirit World's system of ranking demons—from E, which is equivalent to normal, non-spiritually-aware humans, right on up to A, and then an S-Class above even that," she explained. "Toguro and Bui are B-Class demons, which is about as high as you tend to see in Human World, and Genkai and I are about equivalent to a B."
"I guess I'm right the way down at E…" Mitarai laughed. "I've got no spirit energy at all."
"Don't worry, Mitarai. You know your power isn't linked to your own combat ability. You're just as useful as the rest of us."
"R-Right…oh! Sorry if this is a weird question, but out of the four of you, who's the strongest?"
Kuroko smiled. "No, that's a sensible question…hard to say. In terms of pure physical strength, definitely Toguro. Our energy levels aren't so disparate, though. I haven't seen any of them fight yet, so it's hard to gauge their capabilities exactly." She looked down at him. "You all right?"
"Eh…not too great…" He was visibly pale and shaking a little.
"I, uh…guess…" He saw her amused expression. "What?"
"What did you say your title was in the Sensui Seven again?"
He groaned, lowering his head as she laughed.
"Land!" the captain yelled. "And none too soon. It'll take hours to wash this human smell off my boat…"
"Is there a problem?" Toguro asked flatly, to no response but a cowed whimper. "Guess not."
This is a nice little mess you've gotten us all in now, Yusuke, Genkai thought to herself as they began to dock. But a teacher doesn't abandon her students, and I will find you. Even if it's only to smack you for causing all this trouble…
So yeah…um, no idea how this will do, but putting it out there because I got the urge to write it and this is probably better than sitting on it. Two important things:
Update schedule: My main story, Break Through the Limit, I'm committed to maintaining a weekly schedule for, so this story will update on a 'when-it's-done' basis. I will try and put a chapter out as often as possible, but I can't promise when that'll be.
Manga ending: I do recommend that if you haven't checked out the last few chapters, you should give them a look. But in any case, there are really only two things that factor into this story from them:
1. Genkai dies of old age.
2. King Enma is revealed to have been corrupt, and demons in general not so bad. I'll give you the direct quote from Kurama:
"Koenma found out that…King Enma had been cooking the data on demon activities. He forged reams of reports on the evil supposedly committed by demons in Human World.
"There's evidence he brainwashed captured D-Class demons and had them commit crimes so he could pump up the statistics."
(Kuwabara asks why Enma would do it)
Kurama: "Apparently…to justify the Spirit World program of 'protecting' Human World from the 'villains' of Demon World. They could insist on the forced separation of the two realms…in order to keep Human World safe from the rampages of demons. Koenma, however…unearthed some surprising facts. While demons committed many foul deeds in Human World before the barrier went up, most of them had been at the instigation of humans. The reasons ranged from reducing surplus population during times of famine to culling the elderly and the diseased to suppressing restive factions. Humans exploited demons more often than the other way around, though all too many demons were more than happy to go along.
"Currently, demonically-motivated killing of a human only happens once every few years. Most demons don't even play pranks like they did in ancient days. Humans hardly noticed any change. Spirit World insisted the decline in demon crime was the result of the barrier. But Koenma's discovery blew holes in that claim. Sensui's theft of Chapter Black spurred this investigation by compelling…an inventory of the mountains of data, leading to Koenma's findings."
Koenma is then said to have moved against King Enma himself politically, and is later shown to be gaining ground and have the support of most of Spirit World.
And there you have it. All right, with that out of the way, I guess that's about it for this first chapter, so see you next time. Whenever that is, I suppose.