Rainbow Valley Retreat
Osaka, Japan

April, 2007

A white and red ambulance came to a stop in front of the spacious mansion at Rainbow Valley Retreat. Two police cars pulled in behind it.

Kaede stepped off the porch and approached the back just as the doors opened. A tall, thin man in an policeman's uniform climbed down and bowed in greeting. His hair was black and cut short with a few gray streaks at his temples and he wore thin, wire-framed glasses that obscured beady black eyes. Kaede bowed in return and then shifted her gaze to the stretcher that was being lifted out.

"Tanaka Shippou, age seven," the officer informed her as his eyes too came to rest on the small red-headed boy. "Kitsune youkai, just like I said. His dad was the leader of the youkai political group. Parliament's in an uproar over his murder."

Kaede nodded. "Mika, show these gentleman where Shippou will be staying," she ordered the young nurse who had come out to join them. Then she turned back to the officer. "Captain Hino, I assure you that I will do all I can to help him. You were reluctant to give me the full details over the phone. Can you give them now?"

He nodded and waved his arm towards the house, motioning her inside with him. "Two weeks ago Tanaka Seiya and his family were staying in a condo in Tokyo for a campaign program. His term was almost over and he was up for re-election. Truth is, he was a shoo in for the position. So long as he was willing to run, no one was going to appose him. Or at least people thought no one would.

"However, the night before his first debate, someone broke into the condo and shot both Tanaka-san and his wife. There was no evidence of forced entry or scuffle the crime scene has offered us no leads except the idea that the Tanakas knew their murderer. We know it must have been an assassination because nothing was stolen. Tanaka-san still had his billfold on him and the money was still inside. His wife was wearing a small fortune in jewelry and it hadn't been touched."

They had reached Kaede's office and she motioned for him to have a seat in a chair while she sat across from him at her desk. Briefly, she made notes of his tale to that point and then looked up. "And the boy? When was he found and how?"

Hino rubbed his temple as if to ward off a headache. "Tanaka-san had a meeting with his PR agent the next morning to go over the last minute details of his speech. When he didn't show or call to warn his agent he'd be late, the man got worried and went to check on him. He got the condo's super let him in and that's when they discovered the bodies. Shippou was sitting behind the couch, hiding. The agent thought he'd been kidnaped at first when they couldn't find him, but as CSI scanned the house for evidence, one of the agents found him and called an ambulance when he gave no responses. They said he just sat there, staring off into space."

She noticed for the first time that he carried a braincase when he pulled it from beside him and opened it on his lap. Shuffling through papers, he handed her a manilla envelope which she opened and examined. "That's pictures of the crime scene and the autopsy report as well as the doctor's notes from Tokyo General Hospital. When they still couldn't get a response out of him after two weeks, I decided to call you. Commander Ten'nou spoke highly of you and your abilities with this sort of thing."

Kaede didn't respond, but flipped through the photographs of the crime scene. Behind them were more pictures, taken from the home. Pictures of Shippou with his parents or by himself, always smiling and laughing. He was quite obviously a happy boy.

"Your sister was a wonderful woman, Dr. Ten'nou, and she's been greatly missed at the precinct." Then, as if just remembering, he snapped his fingers. "One more thing. The work was made to look like that of a human, which is what's caused the political mess, but one thing that caught my eye was a burnt electric fuse. CSI said it looked like lightening had struck the box from a close range, but when I talked to the building's manager as well as to the electricians, I was informed the wiring was in perfect shape and hadn't received any sort of storm damage in years.."

"Thank you Captain Hino, for your condolences as well as for your information on Shippou. When he comes around, I'll see if I can find out anything." She stood and rounded the desk. He too rose to his feet and bowed once more.

"Of course. If there is anything else you need, don't hesitate to call me. And don't worry about being paid for your services. The Tanaka's attorney as assured me that he will see to it that the money will come from Shippou's trust fund. He's overseeing the Tanaka's affairs until the boy is of age to manage them himself." He let her lead him to the door before stopping again. "I really hope you can do some good with him. It's sad to see a kid that young, with his whole life in front of him, in that kind of shape."

"I will do my best, Captain."

She bid him goodbye and tapped her chin. This case seemed strangely similar to one she'd dealt with seventeen years ago and she wondered if perhaps she would need help in breaking through to the boy.

A/N: Honestly, I don't know what kind of government system that Japan has. I know they still have royalty and what not 'cause I just heard on the news a few weeks ago that a Japanese princess had to give up all rights to her title in order to marry a 'commoner'. Whether or not that royalty still rules as the reigning power, I don't know. It just appears to me, watching the news and all, that we (as in the US) seem to be the only nation that has a congress/senate/president instead of a parliamentary governement.

And, this is an alternate universe fiction. I've got youkai and hanyou roaming the earth, for goodness sakes. I suppose that I can take a few liberties with the power system...