The Darker Side


Prelude - Partners of Contrast

A silver-haired young man sat silently in the dark and stared intently at his computer screen. He scanned through the document sent to him a few minutes ago. Another night, another assignment, another notch up for his reputation. Eyes trailing off the last sentence, he lifted his fingers and typed back a reply:

Mission perceived, verification required.

The other side answered almost immediately:

Mission Code 25yqz
Operator: Metallica
Mortal Target: Chief Researcher of Project
Object target: Headquarters of experimenting laboratories, Priority = IT department and research database

Orders: Death of mortal target is fundamental. Destroy entire laboratory. All evidences and outcomes, written or computerized, of any experiments, ongoing, terminated or concluded, are to be eliminated. Assassin is not to digest ANY KIND OF INFORMATION from the laboratory. Assassin not to be captured. Eliminate witnesses. Assignment to be completed in 16 hours from now.

Mikagami replied:

Initial verification acknowledged. Final verification required.

The words flashed again:

Final verification for mission acquired from client and accounting personnel of authority. Official consent granted. Proceed with mission immediately.

Mikagami closed the window and logged out of his account. Shutting down his laptop, he sighed. Another one… when can I end this type of life? He smiled cynically. He knew the answer. Always. Even before he began working in that profession. Meguri had given him due warning. The answer had been, was and would always be 'never'.

Relief of work meant relief of life.

He stripped off the spandex and tanktop he was wearing. The night was not cold (he was rarely cold anyway) but he was used to dressing presentably. Not that anyone who saw him that night would live long enough to laugh at him. He pulled on a black shirt and long pants of the similar color. His suit was too inappropriate in this sort of circumstances. He pulled on black leather gloves.

Grabbing his leather jacket, he reached into the pockets and pulled out a bunch of keys. He inserted one of them into a drawer and removed a 0.4 caliber semi-matte black Uzi along with several magazines. It was one of his favorites, with a ten round capacity. Reaching deeper, he pulled out a silencer and screwed it on. That was the portable weapon done. He slipped it into his jacket's pocket. It was not that he was too self-confident, carrying only one weapon, but more on the side that he knew for a fact he would only need one.

Compound radius 200 metres… allowance 100 metres… he went over to the opposite side of his room. There were long slabs of white finish wood on the walls, from ceiling to floor, with diamond-shaped mirrors in the middle of each of them. Beautiful interior decoration.

Mikagami bent down and pressed a place in the side wall. What should have been solid cement shifted backwards like a button. The white woods sprung wide open. It was a shallow chamber inside, around 5 feet in depth, and accessible with any of the 'doors'. Mikagami went into one corner and picked out a black briefcase among several others.

He checked the label. Then studied the map of the laboratory that he had printed out. Center of building… the computer labs…

He threw on his jacket and made sure he had sufficient ammunition before grabbing the briefcase and departing the house.

Another night… another night to dye red…

* * *

He pulled the trigger twice. The two guards were down without a sound. Whipping out a few darts, Mikagami cut the wires attached to the three security cameras cleanly. He was impartial to his darts in missions, especially when dealing with surveillance cameras with detectable wires. They made no noise.

The place was surprisingly empty of guards. He had absolutely no trouble slipping in through a side door, with the correct code to release the lock. The patrolling guards were sparsely spread and it was easy to be missed by them. He was glad he did not opt for the underground sewers mode of entrance. The guards outside could live for a while more. They would all be gone at the end of the assignment.

He returned to his present dead-on-the-floor sentries. A quick search of their bodies got him the keys needed for the technical control room. He ventured down the corridor, disposing of more cameras. No more guards came to greet him, and the journey to the elevator was fairly uneventful.

He missed the lift and opted for the stairs. Up two levels, he pushed open the door leading out, and cautiously stepped into the white hallway. On his way to the end of the passage, he disabled three more cameras. At the end, as he expected, was the creamy colored door with the sign 'Technical Room. Do not enter'. He wondered if the one who put the sign up really thought that the sign would generate energy and build a barrier to prevent people from entering. Like a stupid piece of plastic would stop ANYONE…

He chucked the idea of silent entering aside and kicked open the door. It seemed like he did not need the keys anymore. The three men in uniform turned to look at him in surprise. There were three short flashes of orange and they dropped onto the ground, lifeless. Blood slapped Mikagami on the face. There were no more noises. All was quiet.

He stood silently in the doorway, eyes dark.

Then, calmly, he lowered his Uzi and walked into the room, stepping over the corpses. The floor had been painted red. Not only the floor. The blood was everywhere. Mikagami bit his lip. Must have hit the heart…

He stopped in front of a panel of switches and put down his briefcase. From the information sent to him, all the electricity running to the electrical locks were controlled by the room he was in. From the schedule he managed to nab from an hour of hacking, all the doors leading out of the facility should all be closed after 2300. It had been 2250 when he entered the place; he had approximately taken 20 minutes to reach the control room.

He studied the board of switches for a while, Like a chessman pondering over which of the opponent's piece he should take. Mikagami thought, then frowned. The sentence sounded like he was a sadistic God, deciding who to live and die. His shoulder sagged in resignation. But then again, he should have gotten used to the idea of total massacre already. The corner of his mouth quirked. He had been killing for how many years already? Seven?

There was a row of lighted blue buttons at the top of the panel. He tapped each of them, and the lights disappeared. He had cut off the electricity running to the exit doors. Which meant they would all remain shut. As a second thought, he tapped another button labeled 'Base. Vent duct 3. Elect w'. He would need a way to get out.

What should I do with the room…? Can't have someone stumbling in and causing a commotion… He decided to leave it as it was. He had left the two dead sentries downstairs anyway, and not many were likely to stumble into the Technical Control Room. What he was concerned about was the possibility of someone reactivating the doors. That would blow up his whole plan.

He hesitated before opening a nearby cabinet labeled 'Tools'. Digging inside, he managed to obtain a crowbar and a few wire cutters. With those in hand, he glared at the panel. Then, he dug the curved end of the crowbar into the edge of the wood and began prying the lid out. It was five minutes of struggling before he managed to get it loose. Once done, Mikagami dropped the bulky toolbar and picked up the many different sizes of wire cutter. The buttons on the lid had colorful wires connecting them to beyond the panel. Mikagami began snipping.

Not only did he cut the wires, he removed a big piece of each, so there would be no hopes of re-connecting the wires in a short time. He only destroyed the blue buttons. The others had to be working, or else sooner or later, someone would suspect something was amiss. All it took was one.

When the mechanism was beyond repair, Mikagami threw down the wire cutters and forced the lid of the panel back. Satisfied with his handiwork, he wiped the soles of his shoes with a random piece of cloth, cleaning off the blood. Then, he picked up his briefcase and strode out of the room, like a lawyer who had just crushed his adversary in court.

The 'lawyer' calmly wiped the dried spray of blood off his face. And continued on his way. Cool and proud.

She hid in the shadows, waiting for a chance to get at the doors again. They were locked, for some strange reasons. Not that they have not been, most of the time, but usually the correct codes would release the locks and open the doors. And she was in the middle of investigating (admittedly, hitting and jamming all available buttons) when those blasted guards came along.

She impaled the silhouettes near her with eye-daggers. They lingered longer than usual. When they finally moved off, she came out of her hiding place behind a pillar and went over to the metal doors again. They looked as solid as before.

She scowled.

If it had not been for the 'unknown existence' part of the order, she would have blown her way through everything. But as it was, the door still stood smugly in front of her and she was STILL on the wrong side of it.


Footsteps sounded. She could only slink back to behind the trusty pillar.


The target's room was not far away from the control room. It was on the same level, just a few steps away. Mikagami did not come across any unnecessary conflict on his way there. The staff working there was all in their respective quarters; it was already late. He was a little surprised though. The place had too little guards, considering that it was a top secret government project. He had not met more than ten. Those he saw before being seen were avoided. So far, that tactic was working.

The woman who just came round the corner stared at him blankly. Then at the gun in his hands.

Damn his stupid thoughts.

She opened her mouth to scream. Before she could make any noise though, Mikagami dropped his briefcase and placed his gloved hand over her mouth. He gave the back of her neck a sharp knock and she fell to the ground unconscious. Unfeelingly, he shot her in the back of her head and picked up his luggage. Leaving an unmoving body in his wake, he moved on.

Moved on… Mikagami mused. Yes, he moved on. He always did. His life had been too fucked up for him not to. Every mission passed by like a whirl and blended into the simple equation of life = kill, paid, eat, kill. Like the maid he had just murdered. There were no feelings involved, not even shame at his own brutality.

Later, maybe, if he had the time, he would just go into a church and sit there. Listen to the silence. The silence had always been the thing that brought out the worst nightmares. And while he was sitting there, if he felt like it, he would just release the barrier and let guilt eat at him. Not that much was left anyway. He had gotten so used to ending lives that guilt was not an issue anymore. It was only this dull and irritating voice at the back of his mind.

Later. Everything later. Now, he just had to kill. He would worry about everything else later.

He came to a turn in the corridors. The map of the whole place was already etched in his mind. After this turn would be the personal quarters of the head researcher. He, named Mr. Gouch, was an important man there, Mikagami had learnt. He commanded the whole facility and reported to the masterminds of the project. The whole scheme was a secret activity by the government, researching a new kind of weapon. That was all he had been told. Assassins were there to kill, nothing more. He did not know or bother to find out what the weapon was, what it could do, or what it was going to be used for.

Whatever. The whole thing was going to hell tonight, when he blew up the place.

Mikagami briefly wondered whether he should take a peep at the contents of their work. After all, it would not hurt. The Company had sure warned him against that, and he knew the consequences would be another assassin on his tail. But, hell, you can steal, you can rob, just don't get caught.

His mind went back to the mental map of the place. There would be at least two guards protecting the place against infiltrators, common sense spoke. He took out a small mirror from his pocket and crouched down. Slanting the mirror sideways, he could just make out four pairs of legs wearing black boots, lined against the wall, two on each side of the door. Mikagami could not see whether there were any more lined on the opposite wall. The mirror only remained in use for two seconds. He could not risk the reflected ray being seen. With the picture and position of the guards in his head, Mikagami kept the mirror and straightened from his crouching position.

The guards were definitely armed, but Mikagami did not know to what extent. The passage was straight with no obstacles to hide behind. If he made a bold entrance, the guards were sure to create noise, and that would alert the man inside the room. He had to be dead, no exceptions. Mikagami had to make sure he was dead, and that was why he was taking the trouble of personally visiting him instead of just blowing up the whole damned place. (And of course, he still had the database to erase…) Not that the target would not be dead if the building goes kaboom…

Mikagami put down the briefcase in his hands carefully. It touched the ground without a sound. He then quietly went back to the start of the corridor he was in. Deliberately, he stepped on the ground with enough force just to produce the normal amount of noise. So he fished out a random piece of paper from his jacket's pocket (it happened to be the printed out map) and briskly walked up to the turn in the passage, then into full sight of the sentries.

One frowned and went up to him. "Hey, are you new here? You are not supposed to enter this part of the building without permission."

Mikagami held out the piece of paper. "I'm from the Communications department. An anonymous person has just faxed a map of this facility over along with a note short warning that one of the Mr. Gouch's guards is a spy from another country. The spy is said to have been sent here to steal the secret of our studies and kill Mr Gouch and several other of his more intimate associates. My department manager has sent me to deliver this urgent piece of news to Mr. Gouch, to determine what immediate actions we must take. Can you open this door for me? It's an emergency."

The guard who approached Mikagami shrugged back at his companions. They nodded at him. He took the map from Mikagami. "Hmm… it looks real enough. Show me the note."

Mikagami calmly answered, "It's is still in my manager's hands. He and a few others are trying to obtain clues and tracing the facsimile. It is confidential and the news is not to be spread around just as yet. But the possibility that the warning is genuine is very high." He eyed them suspiciously, with the ease from years of practice. "And… the possibility that one of you is the mentioned spy is also very high…"

The guard quirked an eyebrow and tossed the map back to him. "Shut up, kid. Don't speak when you don't know what you are talking about. Why do they let such a young big mouth work here, I don't know."

Mikagami gave the man a contemptuous look. "Maybe it's because I have the brains you are so unfortunate as to not possess."

He could see the man grinding his teeth. Mikagami regarded the situation with amusement. Just for the sake of entertainment, he added, "I overheard some of the senior operatives saying that the spy's name starts with X. Quite an unusual letter to begin a name with, huh?" His eyes deliberately flashed to the man's nametag. And he raised an eyebrow. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply that YOU are the spy. " Then he laughed smugly.

The guy did not look like he could take any more. His comrades were frowning at his back. Suspicion was brewing. Mikagami hid a cold smile. He loved to pretend. Unfortunately, his acting skills were so well trained that he did not know his real self anymore. Pretend to be Tokiya Mikagami of Hokage for too long, and that soft personality welded over a long-term fire to become part of him, the original Tokiya Mikagami, Operator Metallica of the Company. Well, maybe not that original. He had sudden flash backs of his childhood sometimes - the first Mikagami ever. The Tokiya Mikagami of… the Mikagami family. The Tokiya of Mifuyu.

He ground his teeth and brought his concentration back to the present. There, his smug look had not even faltered when he was straying off to other thoughts. Sometimes, he hated himself. Freak.

The guard wordlessly slid a card into a slot in the door and pushed it open. "Go in and knock at the second door. Mr. Gouch will open it for you if he feels like it."

Mikagami gave the man an insolent challenging look before stepping into the carpeted passageway. It was quite dark. Mikagami dropped the active facial expression and went back into his impassive look. He wondered at the abilities of the guards. They did not even search his body. All the better for them. If they did attempt, then, well, too bad for them, they would gave forfeited their 30 minutes' of life. He would have shot them on the spot.

He approached the door and knocked. There was a scuffle of paper, then heavy footsteps. The door swung open, and a tall and foreboding man stood there. He saw Mikagami and frowned. Before he could say anything, Mikagami asked, "Are you Mr. Gouch?"

"Yeah, and what the hell are you doing here?" he demanded. "No one is supposed to enter my quarters without my explicit permission."

"Someone wants this research to end very badly. They have sent an assassin here to end your life, and destroy all evidences of this place's existence. All your efforts have to be flushed," Mikagami replied with all the peace in the world.

"What are you tal-"

Two bullets rammed their ways through thick skull into Mr. Gouch's brain.

Mikagami lowered his gun and watched as he fell back onto the ground. The blood flowed out steadily. He calmly removed the empty magazine from his Uzi and slotted in a new one. Then he dropped it back into his pocket and looked around. There should be nothing that he needed here… all the necessary information had been hacked out of their database.

He turned to leave, shutting the door softly. The assignments were always too easy.

He knocked on the outer door. After a few seconds and a muffled curse from outside, the door opened. The man-with-name-starting-with-'X' glared at him as he stepped out.

Mikagami went back the way he came without a word. As he rounded the corner, he bent down and picked up his briefcase. The next target was the information technology lab. He was to send a virus through their entire system to corrupt, if not destroy, all the existing files. Like he said, there would be no evidence that this project had ever existed. Kill and bury.

He went back to the elevator and took the stairs beside down to the basement. After a few minutes in the identical corridors, he came to a formidable metal door, alike to those in banks, fortifying the deposit boxes. There was a panel with a lot of buttons by its side. Mikagami went over and studied the buttons. He had the codes to access the place, but he wondered if they had changed it in the six-hour interval between his hacking and the present.

He keyed in the long chain of code. There was a short 'beep' then the door slid open slowly. The place was rather small, with not over 50 computers. Most of the staff were not present, and only a handful were left. Mikagami dropped the gun into his pocket and walked in boldly. Not even one of them looked up. He went over to a station far away from the workers on shift.

On the memo board behind the computer, on the wall, there was a picture of a woman with a dazzling smile, hugging a child of not more than seven. The boy bore a striking resemblance to the woman, and it was of no doubt that they were mother and son. The operator of this station is the father then… Mikagami reflected, looking at the photograph. Such a happy family… and it would be he who would shatter the innocence of the child. It would be because he that the child grew up without fatherly love.

Mikagami's face hardened. He was committing yet another sin. That he knew very well. But why should he care? Someone had murdered Mifuyu in cold blood, in front of his eyes. He had gone through what the boy was about to go through in the near future. And maybe, one day, that naïve, smiling child in the picture would be after his life, out for blood, for revenge. On Operator Metallica.

Blood begets blood, revenge begets revenge. But Mikagami did not care, because when he had finished what he lived to do, he could die. In whose hands, it did not matter.

But there would be no one to avenge him. The chain would simply end there.

A shadow fell across his face. Neechan… He booted the computer and waited for it to finish loading. He had brought along the diskettes containing the self-created virus. It would erase every file within the Intranet and also rub out all the files in the computers where any of the files had been sent to. Back-up copies would all be destroyed and there would be no ways to salvage the whole project.

But as he slotted in the first diskette, he decided to just take a look at the contents of the project. It was not often that he got curious, and when he did, he always sated the gnawing sensation. Randomly, Mikagami picked up a file named 'Stage 14' and opened it.

His blood ran cold.

Shit… these guys are researching… he shut the file quickly without reading much and released the virus. There would be no need for that type of results and records to exist. The world was better off without them. And… it was no longer a professional matter, Mikagami grimly decided. It was personal.

Who would not want these reports to exist…? Are there more of… it can't be… there's only me. Whatever. These must be destroyed.

The virus was successfully uploaded. A window popped out and figures and symbols began to flash and scroll. That lasted for ten seconds before error messages popped out and the whole screen blanked out. Murmurs of surprise came from the workers at their respective stations. Mikagami ignored them and grabbed his briefcase. Now that he got the basic idea of the research's contents, he could not wait to atomize the whole place.

The latches popped open. Adorned in colorful wires with a black body was one very very deadly bomb.


She glared the door poisonously. It was braver than all of the Uruha and Hokage combined - it did not wither. She had been trying her eye laser on the same spot for the past minute. Finally, she sighed and backed away. Seeing the coast was clear, she retreated into the surrounding forest to conceive a plan in safety. She needed to get in…


The room was in chaos when Mikagami left, walking out of the door gracefully. It closed behind him, shutting out all the sounds of arguing. They had not yet reached a conclusion of whether to report immediately or await further developments. Mikagami snorted. Were they waiting for the virus to clean itself up?

He had left the incriminating briefcase and its contents behind, the former tucked under a table, while the latter in a drawer. He recalled the number of movies he had seen, out of boredom, and wondered why the hell all criminals stick their bombs onto walls or lay them out for everyone to see and admire.

It was twenty minutes to detonation.

He made his way down to the basement. Now that all cameras were rendered useless, he could go anywhere without care. Actually, he wondered whether the security guards in the control had actually seen him slipping in. There was not too much commotion, if they had.

The room in the basement was dark, with big fans whirling and blowing hot air all around. His sight adjusted to the unaccustomed darkness, scanning the big room for any signs of potent danger. It was all quiet, except for the whirling of the fans and quiet humming of machinery. It was where all the basis of the luxuries in the building was kept. The air was greasy and humid, courtesy of the heat generated from the machines.

Mikagami went over to a big vent in a corner, with a big sign above saying 'Ventilation duct 3. Danger. High Voltage'. It was not the type of small airing shaft seen in air-conditioned offices. It was easily half of Mikagami's height, and thrice as wide as him. Stretching over the gaping mouth was mesh wires, charged with strong voltage.

Mikagami yanked the whole net of wires off forcefully. He had already turned off the electricity in the control room. The inside of the ventilation shaft was dark and foreboding. He threw the wire mesh aside, ducked his head, and crawled in.


She was about to make another attempt at the door when a loud clamor inside the building caught her attention. She froze at the edge of the trees. There was a sudden blast of flames and noise and the whole building blew apart. Heat surged in her direction, and something burning hit her body. She nearly yowled out in pain, and jumped away from the flying object at once. Pieces of the once standing facility were flying everywhere. The explosion had not reached where she was, but the forest was near enough to be hit by the random debris sailing through air.

Common sense told her to hide deep into the forest. The hypnotizing fires and utter destruction beckoned to her. She stood there.


Mikagami stood at the edge of the trees, staring at the death that was burning. He smiled bitterly, wondering when he had started on terrorist work. He was an assassin, prostituting his skills, supposed to work in the dark, silently. And there he was, making a big bang out of everything. Just so no witnesses were left.

He still held his gaze of the fire impassively. It was almost like a scandal to God and His creations. The more the holocaust and sin you feed, the more beautiful the fruits that were born. He saw in it not the demon nor the beast, but the innate beauty that lived.

It was amusing that his element should be the water. Water puts out fire. Water puts out the destruction and the fatal beauty. Does it mean he was the purifying factor? It was ironic. He turned and retreated into the forest.

His sharp senses, for once, missed that lone shadow that stood dumbly, staring at the flames, on the other side of the inferno.

The brilliance of the fire emphasized on the red covering him. Emphasized on the blood in his hands.

* * *

At home, sitting at his own computer, Mikagami typed out the report for his previous mission.

Mission code 25yqz.
Operator: Metallica
Status: Accomplished
Mortal Target: Deceased
Object Target: Inactive
Report: Entire database wiped out by virus. Building blown up. No surviving witnesses. Too little guards present. An in-depth check of the project is recommended in circumstance of mischance.

A reply came back immediately.

Confirm report, Operator Metallica.

Mikagami's mind flashed back to the contents of the project. He was half tempted to ask about it, but by relating that he had knowledge of the forbidden, he would have at the same time signed and sealed his death contract.

Report confirmed.

Yawning, Mikagami shut down the computer. In his mind, the picture of the lady and her son was still fresh. The son was now an orphan.

* * *

In another person's bedroom, a young woman was also facing the computer, cursing as she typed.

Mission Code 25yqx(2)
Operator: Tempest
Status: Accomplished
Report: Goddammit! I was blasted hell out of that ass of a building by that damned assassin! No one told me he was going to blow that place up! I'd wreck up YOUR HQ if you tell me to escort that kind of asshole again!

The reply came back as…

Report, Operator Tempest.

An 'x' grew on the girl's forehead.

Subject Metallica unharmed although escort almost DIED. Guards disposed and path was cleared for subject. I demand a raise of commission!

Confirm report, Operator Tempest.

The girl growled softly.

Report confirmed and don't goddammit ask me again.

She shut down the computer before she could receive anything else and plopped into bed, planning to be dead till the next morning. The collapsing building was still burning in her head.

* * *

Sensei glared at his pupil in distaste. HE was sleeping again and NO ONE dared to wake him up. Several pupils giggled at the teacher's expression. He flashed the almighty I-rule-around-here-so-everyone-just-shut-up-cus-I'm-the-greatest look, intending to intimidate. They giggled more. He could do nothing to Tokiya Mikagami. Every time he was scolded, it always ended up the scolder being ridiculed instead.

Luckily for both parties, the bell rang at that moment and everyone filed out for break without any consent from the teacher. A few girls remained to drool at Mikagami's sleeping look. Their peace was not long-lived, for Recca and Company stalked in at that moment, creating major havoc. Mikagami's eyelids opened, showing not a single trace of sleepiness and he stood up. Inwardly, he groaned. Darn… they're earlier than usual.

He had been escaping them by slipping out of class early. It was only recently that they had started bugging him in break. Sighing heavily, he resigned to his fate. One consolation was that Yanagi was there as well, smiling nervously at the edge of the group.

The teacher was yelling at the group to get out but stopped immediately when Domon gave him a menacing glare. Size does matter sometimes. Yanagi immediately apologized furiously.

Laughing merrily, the group dragged Mikagami away, much to the girls' dismay.

* * *

At the rooftop…

"Hey, cheer up, Mikagami! The sky is still intact and showing no sign of crashing down!" Recca said as he worked his way through a packet of bread his hime had bought.

"Yeah Fuuko, you too. It's not like I am going to ditch you any moment, right? There's no need to pull a long face," Domon laughed as he patted the girl on the back. A second later, he yowled in pain at the many kunai stuck in his arm.

"Not enough sleep…" Fuuko and Mikagami drawled in unison.

The two stared at each other in surprise but Mikagami shrugged it off. Fuuko though, was a lot more persistent. Energy charging back, she hissed to Mikagami in a stage whisper, "What did you do, huh? C'mon, tell!"

Mikagami feigned oblivion to her question and concentrated instead on his canned coffee. Fuuko's eyes gleamed wickedly as she thought of some evil idea to bring their teammate back to life. "Say, guys, what do you say if we spent our day at Mi-chan's house today? He place seem to be the only one we haven't wrecked yet, so it ain't fair!"

Recca agreed at once and high-fived Fuuko. Yanagi beamed at the idea, very curious to what was in Mikagami-sempai's house. Fuuko immediately gagged Domon when he attempted to comment, one that would probably spoil their attempt at utter destruction.

The suggestion caused severe protests from the unfortunate Mikagami, but as usual, were buried under the overpowering determination of the team to 'visit' the Hyomon Ken master's house.

* * *

Mikagami looked green all the way home, tagged by the bunch of perpetually energetic people. They had collected Kaoru from his school on the way. The chattering stopped when they reached a large elegant house. Mikagami turned greener but he took out a key and unlocked the gate. The garden beyond was green and neat, followed by a white-painted house of considerable size.

"Erm… this your place, Mikagami?" Recca asked nervously.

"Yeah," the iceman replied coldly. "Got a problem there?"

"Whee! How did you get such a big house? That's twice the size of mine!" Fuuko whistled as she looked at it in awe.

"My parents left it to me." Mikagami plucked out his key from the keyhole and went over to the left gatepost. He punched in a lot of numbers on the keypad planted in the concrete.

"But Mikagami-sempai, didn't you tell me at the mirror house that you and your sister lived poorly after your parents passed away?" Yanagi asked innocently.

"I found out later that they had this house. After my sister died, that is."

Nobody questioned anymore. The badly concealed bitterness in their friend's voice had effectively sealed in any questions.

Trooping up the drive, they entered the house and began unauthorized exploring. Mikagami stayed behind in the hall, sat down, and counted down the seconds to their departure. He squeezed his eyes shut the sound of breaking glass emitted from the next room. Loud chatter rang in the normally sullen place. He sighed and rubbed his forehead.

It was after more than fifteen minutes when, faintly, a beeping sounded in his bedroom upstairs. Alert immediately, he stood up and ascended the stairs. He slipped into his room silently not wanting to attract any of the wreckers' attention. Fuuko and Domon were a few rooms away, in his library. Strange place for the two to be in.

He went over to his computer and deactivated the screensaver. The beeping stopped. Logging on to his personal online folder he created, he opened the new file there and read the contents.

Mission Code PurgeManiac
Operator: Metallica
Mortal Target: Assassin Code Maniac
Location: Currently unknown
Orders: Eliminate Operator Maniac. Subject is full-fledged assassin, does not specialize in terrorism from file records. Rank Two in Company. Subject aborted mission three weeks before and absconded. Location currently unknown. Suspected to have approximately 3 subordinates accompanying in his flight, taking the minimum. Objective for assassination not to be disclosed. No queries with regards to mentioned objective would be acknowledged. Operator Tempest would partner you for this mission. You are to assist her in ways you see fit, employing your experience. Both assassins not to be captured. Leave no traces of activities. We believe that she may expose her full potential through this mission. Mission is not to be rejected. Orders will not change.

Commission percentage: 40% (US$ 1,200,000)
Partner Code: Operator Tempest

Mikagami cursed in exasperation. He did not NEED a partner! They only knew how to screw up.

At that moment, Fuuko burst in and exclaimed in delight, "Hey, Mi-chan! I didn't know you kept… !!!"

Mikagami minimized the window hurriedly. He turned round to face a stunned Fuuko with her mouth gaping. She strode over to the computer hurriedly. Mikagami attempted to push her away and frowned. "Don't touch my computer. It's too delicate for barbarians like you."

She did not argue, much to Mikagami's frustrations. Silently, she shoved him away with greater force, eyes not leaving the screen for once. She maximized the window. And stared. Mikagami stood aside and let her read through the whole file of his mission. Finally, she tore her eyes away from the screen.

"You're, you're Metallica… ?" Fuuko asked weakly.

Mikagami rolled his eyes to heavens with the ease of years of experience. "Haven't you seen an online game before? Or is Internet so futuristic for you?"

"Don't bluff me, Mikagami," Fuuko said, suddenly quiet. She looked away into a corner. "So you work for them…"

"Work for who?" Mikagami added a hint of puzzlement to his voice, though his blood ran cold.

Fuuko snorted, then buried her face in her hands. "Why, Mikagami, why? How can you work for them…? You, the Mikagami I know… You of all people…"

Mikagami let his deceptive front fall. "You know them?" his eyes narrowed.

"I'm Tempest."

From the useless author…

Flame me, hang me, kill me. I know I've made a mess outta this idea. But at least this is better than the first edition, right? It's definitely obsolete now; I'm so ashamed of my first draft. This second edition is much more believable, and I think the 'edition' is very suitably used. It's a total rewrite.

For those few pages that have this fic on, please update the version, or else just delete the whole story away. I refuse to let the first version be any more widely read and jeered at.

As for why Mikagami would want to use guns when he had Ensui, I guess it would be him not wanting his sister's property and family heirloom to be stained with blood. In this Alternate Reality fic, Mikagami has been trained from 10 onwards to become the perfect assassin, and not just with regards to abilities. He is more deeply bonded to his profession than that. Will further explain in future chapters.


The Darker Side is an original piece of work copyrighted to saturn de wicked™. Characters in this fan fiction are adapted from Flame of Recca without permission from its creator and are copyrighted to their respective owners.

© 2001 saturn de wicked™