Having completed the kata, Shinichi put his knees together, and his arms on the side of his body, or kyoski, and bowed to Merlot, his sensei. Gin and Vodka were standing on the side watching.
He spread his legs and put his arms into a low block, the waiting stance, or yo-dachi.
Gin clapped slowly. "Hmm, keep that up and you could make for an excellent ballerina one day."
"I guess I'll take that as a compliment," Shinichi said.
"You shouldn't. You've been doing this for how many weeks, and this crap is the only stuff you know how to do?"
"His progress has been markedly faster than yours was when you were a beginner," Merlot said.
Ran's training has certainly helped, Shinichi thought.
"I was a bored kid," Gin said. "And nobody ever said to me, 'Hey, we expect you to be the new Rum!'"
"Huuhhh?!" Vodka said, apparently the first time he had ever heard of this.
"W-where did you hear about that?!" Merlot demanded.
"A little birdie told me," Gin said. He took a cigarette and a lighter out of his pocket. He lit the cigarette and put it in his mouth.
Merlot approached him angrily. "HOW many TIMES do I have to TELL you NOT to smoke INDOORS!" He snatched the cigarette from Gin's mouth and slapped him in the face.
Shinichi and Vodka cringed. They half expected Gin to hit the old man back. But to their surprise...
"I apologize, sensei. Just a force of habit, I guess. But like I was saying, you expect far more from this boy than was expected from me, and yet you're going soft on him. I didn't have a plush mat to fall on when you got the better of me when we were sparring."
"What would you suggest, then?" Merlot asked.
Gin moved towards Shinichi. "I'll train him myself, the hard way. We have to speed up his training if we're to be able to deploy him any time soon, and I know just how to do that."
Shinichi could feel his adrenaline racing as Gin's ice-cold pupils stared him down. His fight or flight instincts began to kick in. Flight wasn't possible here, so fight it was then.
"Your ballet won't help you in the real world," Gin said, falling back into a fighting position. "I'll teach you what that real world feels like. Ready yourself for combat!"
Shinichi threw a sharp hook kick at Gin's head. Gin blocked with his wrist and rapidly closed in on Shinichi, using his other hand to punch him in the gut. When Shinichi instinctively reacted to the impact by moving his body downwards, Gin used his other hand to deliver a sharp uppercut, forcing Shinichi backwards. While he was still stunned, Gin slugged him in the face hard, knocking him down onto the mat.
This is...just like before, Shinichi thought, his head throbbing. Just like then. He's beating the tar out of me, and I'm powerless to resist. Wait, what's he...?!
Gin stepped forward, removing a knife from his belt and grinning.
Etched into his muscle memory was the traumatic experience of Gin torturing him, first with his fists but then with a knife. This was turning into a repeat of that, and Shinichi was terrified.
"No...NO! STAY AWAY FROM ME!" Shinichi screamed. "STAY AWAY YOU B****RD!"
Then, there was something in his hand. Gin had tossed him the sheathed dagger. Shinichi looked at it, strongly considering using it.
"Go ahead," Gin said. "Try to kill me, if you can."
"A-Aniki, I really don't think that's wise!" Vodka said.
"I know you want to," Gin said. "That look on your face is as plain as day. If fear won't motivate you to fight, then maybe rage will."
Shinichi stood up. He looked at Gin, homicidal fury written all over his face. He thought about everything this man had put him through, and especially how he had threatened Ran. The time for talk was over. He unsheathed the weapon. It looked nice and sharp, perfect for killing Gin.
"That's right," Gin said. "You know what needs to be done, so come at me."
Shinichi attempted to move his body. It wouldn't budge.
What...am I doing? he thought. This isn't me. This isn't who I am. And I think I know a better way.
He sighed and dropped his knife to the ground.
"Are you trying to tap out?" Gin asked. "Well I've got news for you. In the real world tapping out isn't an option, and it isn't here either. If you won't come at me, I'll come at you."
That's right, Shinichi thought. At this stage there's no way I can keep up with Gin in a fight. But there is something I can do quite well...something that worked against him in the past.
Gin came at him. Shinichi kicked the knife by the handle and sent it flying forward, a highly dangerous projectile that pierced Gin's leg. Gin stopped dead in his tracks and stumbled backwards as Shinichi ran at him and then broke into a sliding motion and literally swept Gin off his feet, sending him crashing down. Shinichi pounced on him and pinned him down.
Then he paused, hesitated, and stood up. Merlot started clapping.
"You filthy cheater, you!" Vodka said angrily, beginning to advance on Shinichi.
"Vodka, enough," Gin said, slowly getting up. "In a real fight there are no rules and no cheaters, only winners and losers. The only people who think otherwise are those who've never been in a real fight. You did good, Kudo. I might actually need to get this wound checked out. Until next week."
Shinichi, satisfied with his victory yet bruised and tired, grinned. "Until next week, Gin."
That's right, Shinichi thought. I've fought so hard and for so long to survive...and I will never stop fighting, not until the day that you're all either behind bars or dead.
(Cup of Trembling by B'z)
(Each fresh breath of life is a fresh chance to start anew! The three Nagano detectives in Shimabara! Detective Yui is kidnapped by...the ghost of an Edo-era legend? Perceiving the one and only truth! With the body of a child but the mind of an adult, my name is...DETECTIVE CONAN!)
Above all, I'm afraid of you seeing me like this
The youthful vigor sapped from my bones
Too afraid to proceed, too afraid to turn back
A wretch, recoiling from my own shadow
Wallowing in self-pity like a pig wallowing in its crap
I can't check my phone, lest you might try to call
I can't live at home, lest you might try to visit
All I have left is the clothes on my back and
That dreaded bottle, whose contents I dare not drink
Oh I'm going nowhere, a pinwheel spinning in circles
This Cup of Trembling I now raise to my lips and swallow
So I may face the demons haunting my restless nights
I can't show my face to you until I can call myself a man
Until I've walked a full moon carrying my cross
The Vengeful Martyr Kidnapping Case! Part One!
He stepped into the alleyway dressed in long clothing, a hat, a fake beard, and sunglasses. He knocked on the door.
The sliding peephole was opened. Someone's eyes were looking down at him. "Who are you?"
"I hear this is a place where I can...have some dirty fun?" he said.
"What's your name?"
"...I see. Wait right there, Sakurayama-san."
The peephole closed again.
Junji fidgeted nervously. Did they buy it? If not, what would they do to him? Was it too late just to turn around and leave?
Junji Osawa, age 53, was an officer with the Nagano Prefectural Police. They had received a report that the yakuza was running an illicit gambling ring in this shady part of town. He had a camera hidden on his body in order to obtain video evidence of these activities which, if acquired and delivered to the police, would be enough to put at least a handful of hardened criminals behind bars.
Earlier today he had kissed his wife goodbye and headed to work. Not for the last time, or so he hoped. But he knew that if these men saw through his ploy, he was as good as dead.
Calm yourself, Junji, he told himself. These men weren't psychics. There was no reason for them to find him any more suspicious than the other visitors they welcomed into their midst. Unless, that certain rumor was true, which would mean that...
The sliding peephole opened again. "Alright, welcome to the club, Sakurayama-san. You got money?"
Junji grinned. "Are you kidding me? I just got paid!"
The door opened. Junji stepped inside. I can't believe things are going this well, he thought.
The door slammed shut behind him. Two men in masks grabbed him and held him down. A third man searched him and found the hidden body camera. He crushed it underfoot.
"We've been waiting for you, Junji Osawa. We don't appreciate cops snooping around and trying to shut down our honest businesses. Well, I guess we'll just have to make an example out of you, like we did all the others."
But...how? he thought, more shocked than anything else.
"Goodbye." The man put a revolver to Junji's head and fired.
Kogoro, Conan, and Nancy got off at their stop in Shimabara Station and then stepped foot outside.
Kogoro looked at his watch. "Well, it's 12:58 now. Before we begin hitting all the tourist spots how about we go get something to eat?"
Conan nodded. "Sounds good to me. Any ideas?"
"Near Shimabara Castle there's a restaurant called Himematsuya that's well known for its guzoni," Nancy said.
(Author's Note: Guzoni is a kind of rice cake soup, a specialty of the Shimabara peninsula.)
Kogoro grinned. "Sounds good to me."
They were seated. A woman brought them their food.
"Domo," Kogoro said.
Then they started eating.
"Mmm," Kogoro said delightedly after he finished. "The only thing that could make this better would be a nice refreshing glass of..."
"Don't even say it," Nancy said.
"Auntie Eri had us tag along to keep an eye on you, right?" Conan reminded.
"Y-yeah," Kogoro said sheepishly.
Kogoro had won a free trip to Shimabara for two in a raffle ticket contest. However, Eri couldn't come because today was the due date of the trial of her latest client, who had been arrested for stealing fifty tubes of toothpaste. She worried about Kogoro getting drunk so she made him take the two kids along, even though the prize only paid for one other person.
"So, uh, after we're all finished I guess we'll start by touring Shimabara Castle?" Kogoro said.
Nancy nodded excitedly. "I can't believe we're going to step foot in a 400 year old castle!"
"Hmph. 400 year old castle my left eye."
"That voice," Kogoro said.
"Surprise, Mouri-san!" the sole woman said.
From the adjacent stall Yamato Kansuke, Yui Uehara, and Taka'aki Morofushi emerged.
"It-it's the Nagano Police!" Nancy said.
"Oh? And who are you?" Kansuke asked Nancy.
"S-she's a friend," Conan said awkwardly.
"What are you three doing here?" Kogoro asked. "Are you here on vacation like us?"
"Well..." Yui began.
"I guess you could say that," Taka'aki, AKA Komei, said. "You see..."
Kansuke coughed loudly. "Komei, Yui, enough. I doubt Mouri-san and these children want to be burdened with our problems."
"So, uh, Inspector Yamato, what did you mean just now?" Nancy asked. "You acted as though Shimabara Castle isn't really 400 years old."
"Oh, that," Komei said. "The castle as it exists today is a concrete reconstruction of the original, which was burned down in the turbulent years following the Meiji Restoration. So it's really only like 50 or 60 years old, if you think about it that way."
"What I'm interested in knowing is how this girl knew my name upon seeing me for the very first time, and where we were from," Kansuke said.
"I, uh, I told her all about you three," Conan lied.
Conan finished his soup. "Done."
"I say we should all tour the castle together," Yui said. "How about it, Mouri-san?"
"That sounds fine to me," Kogoro said, getting up. "Let's go."
They went outside and walked across the street until they came to a large bridge leading onto the castle grounds. To the right of it was a large moat with a few koi carp swimming. The whole complex was surrounded by a wooden fence and cherry blossom trees, from which red and white paper lanterns hung.
They stopped for a minute to just gaze upon it and marvel at the vast size of the castle.
"Extraordinary," Kogoro said, "especially for a small city like this."
"Indeed," Komei said. "The lord of Shimabara town, Matsukura Shigemasa, refused to use the castles built by the preceding Arima clan and so he set out to construct this enormous structure. To this end he imposed excessive taxation on the common people, something that later contributed to the Shimabara Rebellion."
(Author's Note: The Shimabara Rebellion was one of the most famous events in Japanese history and the last major incident of civil unrest in Japan until the time of the Meiji Restoration. From 1637 to 1638 predominantly Christian peasants in Shimabara revolted against the Matsukura ruling dynasty, which oppressed the people and was responsible for extreme persecution of Christianity in one of the most Christian regions of Japan. The rebellion was eventually put down and all those who took part were massacred. Had the rebellion succeeded, the religion might have survived in Japan until modern times, and the Japanese isles might have eventually been Christianized from within.)
"To think this magnificent castle was built upon the backs of the working class and all to satisfy one man's vanity," Yui mused.
"Still, it kind of benefited the whole community in a way, right?" Nancy said. "Even before people were allowed to tour the inside, it really is beautiful to look at from the outside. And today it brings in revenue for the city through tourism."
"Hmph, we shouldn't let that person off the hook so easy," Kansuke said. "He was only thinking about himself when he had this castle built, and we should all remember that."
"I-I guess," Nancy said.
"I say we go up there now," Kogoro said.
And so they walked on the side of the bridge road. Cars sped past them coming to and from the castle.
They arrived at the front entrance to the castle, where they were greeted by feudal Japan cosplayers and a flight of stairs draped by a diverse array of blue flags.
They turned their heads to look around the castle grounds. A certain statue caught Kansuke's attention, and then that of the two Nagano police. They walked over to it, and Kogoro and the two "children" followed.
It was a statue of Amakusa Shiro, the charismatic youth who led the Shimabara Rebellion and was beheaded by the central government at its conclusion. His hands were clasped together in fervent prayer, western style.
They gazed at it in silence, and then...
"It kind of looks like him," Kansuke said.
"You think so?" Komei said with a grin.
"Yeah, they both have that chubby face," Yui said. "Though I don't remember him being religious at all, so I guess the resemblance is only skin deep."
"We have to go visit his grave, after we finish touring the castle," Kansuke declared resolutely.
"Agreed," Komei said. Yui nodded.
"Uh, who are you talking about?" Kogoro asked.
Yui turned to Kogoro. "Mouri-san, exactly one hundred days ago a good friend of ours passed away. He originated from here in Shimabara City, so..."
"I see," Kogoro said. "You came here to honor his memory."
"Yeah," Komei said. "His remains lie in a cemetery that's only about three miles from here. By taxi we can get there quickly."
"What was the name of your friend?" Nancy asked.
This answer caught Kogoro, Conan, and Nancy off guard.
"H-hold on," Kogoro said. "But that's an almost perfect anagram of..."
"Yeah," Yui said. "Amakusa Shiro."
"In fact, we his colleagues in the Nagano police nicknamed him after the historical figure, due to the similarities in their names," Komei said.
There was a silence, and then...
"Hey, Yui, Komei," Kansuke said. "I can't wait until later. If we toured the castle now, I wouldn't be able to enjoy it, that one thing remaining unsettled. If it would be alright with you two, could we visit his grave now?"
Yui put her hand on his shoulder. "We feel the same way, Kan-chan."
"Let's go pay our dear friend a final visit," Komei said. He turned to Kogoro. "Mouri-san, it's been a pleasure meeting you once again."
Kogoro shook the hands of the three Nagano police. "No, the pleasure is all mine. This is farewell, I guess."
The taxicab stopped at the cemetery. Kansuke, Komei, and Yui got out.
"We'll only be a few minutes," Yui told the driver, who nodded.
They walked around until they found the tombstone. They stopped and gathered around it.
"...Here's to a good man whose life was cut short," Komei said.
"Yui, you brought it, right?" Kansuke asked.
Yui nodded. She reached into her purse and took out some flowers, a pack of cigarettes and a can of beer. She laid them down on the grave.
They stood there and contemplated on their memories of Kusao. Out of the corner of his eye, Komei noticed that Kansuke was...
"Kansuke-kun, are you...crying?" Komei asked.
Yui, in turn, was a bit startled to see her usually stoic comrade cry.
"...I can't do this," Kansuke said, and he hurriedly walked back to the car. Komei followed after him, leaving Yui by herself.
She didn't notice the man coming at her from behind, until he had grabbed her and held the chloroform-soaked rag to her face. Within seconds she was out like a light.
Komei and Kansuke returned to the grave just in time to see the masked man dragging Yui into a black van.
"H-HEY!" Kansuke said. The two of them ran after the van, but it was too late.
Just as the car was speeding off, one of the masked men opened the window and threw out an envelope. Kansuke and Komei rushed to pick it up.
"W-we need to call the police!" Komei began.
"Hold on," Kansuke said. "This is probably a ransom note. If one of their demands is for us not to contact the local police, then you could be putting Yui in even greater danger than she is now."
Realizing Kansuke was right, Komei put the phone back in his pocket. "What does it say?"
Kansuke took it out and read it:
Like all men I could not withstand the passage of time
My body wasted away, my soul scattered by the winds
Nothing remains of your friend, except this one thing
A fragment of me lives on in your heart, your memories
"This is..." Komei began.
"The death poem of Kusao Shiramata," Kansuke confirmed.
"There's something at the bottom," Komei said. "It says, 'I am the ghost of Amakusa Shiro. After 100 days I have returned to take revenge on my killer, Yamato Kansuke.'"
He looked at his one-eyed comrade. "Kansuke-kun, surely it wasn't you that...?"
"We don't have time for this!" Kansuke barked. "Look, there's something written on the back. It says..."
(Spirit by Rina Aiuchi)
There are only two kinds of people in this complex world
Those who'll fight for what's precious and everyone else
Sometimes I lay awake at night wondering why this is
Is it perhaps that we believe all hope is already lost?
It takes a lot less effort to tap out and forfeit the prize
Hang our heads in shame and defeat, a prisoner of war
Too many voices have cried out "Awaken, thou that sleepest!"
What we need is soothing balm so these bones may stir again
Come, you and me, together let's put on a show for the ages
Hurry, the curtain rises, the epic drama begins to unfold!
Oh you graceful swan, dancing in the middle of the downpour
All the world's your stage, and every eye is fixed on you
You've got heart, and nobody can ever take that away from you
Give them what they came for, the indomitable human spirit!