Chapter Ten: Recovering The Lost
Because of what happened, with Inuyasha breaking out Kenjimaru – if you could call it that – and the two of them disappearing, Kagome and her team were all put under house arrest plus observation. She imagined all of them, not just herself, had to stand by and watch as engineers screwed various microphones and cameras into key points of their homes.
As it was, she had to bite her lip to keep from screaming in outrage. They put a tap on her communicator and a guard at each of her doors, even going so far as to place a tracer on each of her dogs' collars with orders to not take it off. Mr. Bell apologized for this by phone, telling her in so many words that he'd fought the other board members about the house arrest but lost by numbers.
Then he made a joke about her being around Inuyasha long enough to have taken on some of his characteristics, such as being able to escape without a trace, which she waved off by saying, "Not a chance, I can hardly walk a street without knocking something over."
Her answer was purposefully exaggerated, as she thought he was hinting that she should try to get out unnoticed. Still, she could think of nothing, despite her logic and intelligence granted to her by continual schooling and study. She kept thinking that she might be able to interfere with the wavelengths given off by the cameras, and from there just try to stay silent, but with what she had in the house, she couldn't build something like that. Eri had been no help, in fact tripping on the stairs and making a guard come in to check on them the first day.
Three days went by in a very bored manner, with food delivered to them – since Eri and the dogs counted – on the second day to restock her fridge and cabinets. Up until then, Kagome kept having bad feelings and her dreams seemed to be getting creepier, but it hadn't been anything that actually scared her. On the third night, when she fell asleep, she immediately felt trapped and vulnerable. . .
Something was keeping her asleep, keeping her trapped, and preventing her eyes from opening. She tried to struggle, to move in some way, but she couldn't move – or at least, she couldn't feel herself moving. Her muscles weren't responding, and the light filtering through her eyelids didn't help as she couldn't see anything.
With each second she began panicking a little more, forcing herself to move against whatever was holding her in place, trying to at least return feeling to her body. It was so disconcerting, to not even know whether you're facing up, down, sideways, or floating somewhere. The latter, however, was shot down by the knowledge that something was holding her still.
She got an odd feeling of deja vu then, like she'd been in this situation before, but she knew she wasn't. It was then that she knew why it felt familiar: because Inuyasha had been in this position before.
As soon as she realized it, feeling came rushing back to her body, and she could tell now that she was sitting up, head down, with straps practically bolting her down. Still, she couldn't move and couldn't open her eyes – a feeling which only made her panic more when she heard voices talking quietly nearby. At first she couldn't understand them, and then her mind began translating for her. . .
". . .the one we've been looking for. . ?"
"That's what Headquarters said. I don't know though, she looks really. . . scrawny."
"What, because she's thin? What do you expect? She's only been dead for who knows how long."
"Still has a really pretty face for being 'dead,' you know."
Chuckling was the answer, before the voice went on. "So she's superhuman in what way?"
"That's what we're going to find out. They gave us these tools to use. . ." As the voice trailed off, the sound of a powered tool whirred to life.
"Ugh, we have to cut her apart? Are you kidding?"
"Hey, she's dead; it's not like it's gonna hurt her any."
"It still seems. . . really cruel."
"Pretend we're coroners and get over it! We're being paid to report on how this lady ticks, alive or dead, right?"
"You sound like you're going to enjoy this. . ."
"Maybe I just want to get my hands on her, y'know?"
"That's sick. From now on, I'm making sure you don't do any of the touching."
"Aw, but she's dead!"
"And you're going to be shocked if you keep up that attitude. You know they're watching us."
In the back of her throat, she felt a growl begin, very quietly, which went unnoticed as the men kept talking, their feet shuffling around the floor.
"A shock might be worth it if you think about it."
"I'd rather be thinking of my wife and you should, too."
"Jesus be damned, man! Can't you at least joke?" Rapid beeping followed his words.
And the other man began yelling. "It's not right for you to make jokes about things like that! I know we've got our orders, but that doesn't mean you've got to be perverted about it!"
"I hate you so much. You don't even get that I'm just trying to keep the mood light."
"'Just trying to keep the mood light,' " the other man mocked. "You're still sick."
"Fine!" There was a clang like the tool from before had been thrown down. "How about I leave and you do the job yourself?"
"Hey, I was just thinking the same thing," he spat out.
Without an answer, a set of feet began stomping out of the room, and then she felt a hand touch her arm and heard a sigh. "Are you really dead?" the voice asked, very quietly. "I don't think so. Hell, I don't want to do this," he said, his words accompanied by a soft beeping a voice declaring he owed Sets for a swear.
Kagome's mind figured out where she was then. As far as she knew, only business buildings had Swear Detectors, and only Shroud and Police had the specific kind of chair she was sitting on – the same seat Inuyasha and Kenjimaru once occupied.
But what was she doing there? Why had they called her superhuman? She felt the straps retract and then she was lifted and laid out, but still her body wouldn't move, and her mouth refused to form words. The tiny growl remained, so quiet she knew the man couldn't hear it.
He said, "I'm sorry, but don't worry, I'll make this painless for you." She heard something lifted, something long and thin – a syringe.
Panic surged through her again, making her ignore the question in her mind – the question that asked, How would I know from a sound what he picked up? – even as her body still didn't obey. Her heart wasn't beating fast, her breathing wasn't quick and shallow, and even though she felt uninhibited, she still couldn't lift her limbs.
She felt the pierce in her elbow where he injected the needle, felt liquid enter her veins, and then felt the pain entirely go away. And then she heard another whir of a tool warming up, and knew it was getting closer. And then she was moving, and her eyes were open, but she wasn't in control of herself. She swatted at the tool, watching the small handheld saw as it flew across the room. She met the eyes of a lab man in a white coat and name tag, with fluffy red hair and green eyes, staring at her in shock as she jumped up and away, flattening herself against a wall.
She heard an alarm go off, heard herself growl loudly at the man still gazing at her like stone. And then she heard the whoosh of a door opening and moved away from it, deciding instead to aim for the window – wait, she didn't want to jump out the window! Her body leapt at and went straight through the glass, shattering it, and she began freefalling.
She tried to scream, but her jaw wasn't obeying. She tried to reach out and grab onto one of the vehicles flying by, but her hand wouldn't stretch out. She landed on her feet, hard, on a walkway, cracking it, but that wasn't right – she should be crushed from the length of the fall she took. And then her body, against her will, was running again, and took another leap off the walkway.
That's when she realized that this wasn't her body, that she was simply holding on for the ride. She struggled more now, to leave this body and return to herself, and felt her eyes close to savor the rush of air briefly. And then she felt herself slam into something hard, felt pain shoot through the parts of her body unaffected by the anesthetics.
"Wake up, you lazy son of a bitch!"
Kagome yelped as she woke up harshly, sitting up straight and clutching at herself as she realized the pain rushing through her body wasn't there anymore. She was panting, sweating, and shaking, and could have sworn she'd just heard a voice telling her to wake up.
"Finally," a female voice sighed. "You're hard to work with."
"What?" she blurted, ignoring the way her voice quivered. She looked over towards the voice and saw a cloaked and hooded figure, like one of those assassins out of storybooks. She stiffened, almost expecting the woman she saw to pull out a blade and cut her down before she remembered that the woman had woken her up.
"Long story short," the woman was saying, "my Boss sent me to get you. I've put the cameras and microphones on a ten-minute loop, so get dressed and let's go! The guards won't stay asleep for long."
"What?" Kagome repeated.
"Have you ever read a spy novel?" the woman spat impatiently.
"Spies never reveal themselves until they're in a safe location, so until then, you're going to have to trust me." She tossed a full bag on Kagome's lap. "That has clothes and some food. We're leaving as soon as you're dressed, but make it fast – I don't have a problem with taking you along naked."
At that, Kagome realized that the woman was very much serious. A part of her wanted to rebel, but she chided herself on that. What do you have to be doing here? she all but laughed at herself as she obeyed, selecting clothes to wear. Nothing, she answered herself.
Once dressed, the woman took her hand and shouldered the bag. She pulled out a leaf and placed it on the bed, which immediately made a popping sound and made an image of Kagome, sleeping in her bed.
And Kagome stared at it in shock, even as the woman pulled on her arm and led her outside and into an AirCar. As they took off and left her home behind, she felt bad, knowing that her dogs and Eri would utterly panic. She wondered if her friends would be imprisoned for this, possibly to get whatever information they could on her whereabouts.
Kagome looked up, surprised by the word. "Excuse me?" she asked.
"My name is Cardinal. My boss is Mr. Bell. And you have just officially been kidnapped."
"Kidnapped?" she echoed, forcing back the wave of panic that went through her.
"Here, read this," Cardinal said, tossing a metal pad into Kagome's lap.
A news bulletin? Kagome thought, recognizing it. She pressed the "on" button and watched it flash to life, listening as the faded image of a reporter began listing today's headlines. None of them caught her attention until the man said, "And lastly, the kidnapping of one of Shroud's leading researchers, Ms. Kagome Higurashi. Sources say that recently the subject known as 'Inuyasha' left by his own hand, and shortly after, his team of researchers were put under house arrest for their own safety." That was a lie and Kagome knew it.
The man went on, "An unknown person or persons shortly thereafter nullified all communications equipment within Higurashi's home, leaving behind only a note, an emblem which police officials are identifying as we speak, and a missing Higurashi. Her roommate, Eri, doesn't seem to know anything, and currently the only theory on Higurashi's kidnapping is possibly that someone is trying to use her to bring 'Inuyasha' back into the open. More on this story as it develops."
"Kami-sama," she murmured. "So, Cardinal, why the hoax?"
"Because," Cardinal answered, tossing back her hood and revealing red hair, "Boss can't make it seem like he had a part in this. As it is, you're a liability to me, so guess what you have to do."
Thousands of retorts flashed through Kagome's mind, but in the end, she beat them all back and thought logically. "You're going to leave me in some sort of safe house with orders to not leave nor draw attention, aren't you?"
"Close. You're going to be operating with me, very quietly, to track down your missing boyfriend. And don't give me that look, I know you two are physical." Handing Kagome a small parcel, she went on, "Once you two are together, I'm leaving you with him, and the two of you are staying away. Got that? If Boss wants me to contact you again, that's up to him, not you."
Looking inside the bag showed it to have a few more thin, square, metal slabs, which Kagome recognized as being for long-range holographic communications. "Why do I need four of these?" she asked.
"One for each of us. You, me, Inuyasha, and Kenjimaru."
"Wait, how do you know Kenjimaru?"
"World-class spy, genius." Cardinal aimed the AirCar almost straight down then, scaring Kagome as the vehicle nosedived into the ground. "Hang on," was her only warning.
"What?" Kagome half shouted, half shrieked, gripping the parcel and the door tightly.
And then Cardinal punched a button, grabbed Kagome by the arm, and the two of them went flying out of the car as it crashed and exploded on the ground. Meanwhile Kagome was clinging to the red-haired woman who threw her into this, watching in shock as Cardinal seemed to sprout wings from under her cloak.
The wings, Kagome noticed, were cloth and metal, made by hand. But at night, you wouldn't even be able to see these wings, which made Kagome more than a little happy that the sun was breaking now. Had it been pitch-dark, well, the entire experience would have reminded her far too much of her trip down the elevator all those months ago.
"Where are we going?" she shouted over the rushing wind in her ears, then blinked twice as her close quarters with Cardinal showed the woman to have pointed ears instead of rounded ones.
"Don't yell, I can hear you perfectly," Cardinal replied. "Ah, see, there's your boy."
Kagome looked and saw a red-and-white blur heading straight for them, almost seeming to fly as much as Cardinal was. "Inuyasha?" she asked, stunned.
"Get ready," Cardinal warned her.
"Ready for what?" Kagome all but snapped back, then screamed when the woman holding her wasn't holding her anymore. Not even a second later and she was swept up by another set of arms, and her heart calmed a little when she recognized the face of the one holding her. "Inuyasha," she sighed.
He didn't look happy. When they set down on the ground again, he stood her up and searched the sky for Cardinal, growling when he didn't see her. Then he turned his angry eyes towards her. "Who was that woman? Did she attack you? What's going on?"
Just as Kagome opened her mouth to speak, a thud silenced her and she jumped into Inuyasha's arms again. The sound was caused by the duffel bag shown to her earlier, landing beside her. Looking up at Inuyasha's confused gaze, she exhaled heavily. "Long story short, nice to see you again," she smiled.
"Okay," Inuyasha said, "so, to recap. . . You were put under house arrest. Cardinal 'kidnapped' you by orders of your own boss. She brought you here, just to get you off her hands. Now you're not allowed to go back?"
She was about to say, "I'll go back if I damn well please," but then she remembered the holodiscs. "Let's ask," she offered, and took them out. Kenjimaru was near and looked on with half-interest, the rest of his attention seemingly on Cardinal, whom he was talking to.
Kagome was a little surprised when Cardinal dropped out of the sky, explaining that she couldn't land while holding another person and a bag. She also explained that when she dropped out of Inuyasha's sight, she was circling a building right nearby and apologized for scaring Kagome. Then the three of them walked to the Shrine where Kenjimaru still waited, as though he was patiently wasting time until something monumental happened.
Then Kagome and Cardinal explained the situation back home.
Having set up the holodiscs, she told Inuyasha and Kenjimaru how they worked, and they all stood in front of their particular one. The screens glowed blue as they powered up, and then each of the discs showed Mr. Bell, who was sitting at his desk, reclined back and in deep thought.
"Reporting," Cardinal said, making the man jump in surprise. His eyes obviously hadn't been on his own holodisc.
He stood up and walked over to it, laying on the ground and coming into better focus as he neared. "You're all looking well," he commented. Because Kenjimaru only knew so much of their language, from what he'd learned from Inuyasha, Kagome translated for him.
"To put bluntly, mission succeeded," Cardinal replied. "Anything to say on your end, Sir?"
"Yes, in fact," Bell said. "Something very odd happened last night, while you were out to retrieve Kagome. To put simply, Inuyasha is not the first 'creature' we found under the wreckage. The first was a woman, as far as we could tell."
"As far as you could tell?" Kagome echoed.
"Her body was, for all rights and purposes, dead. It even looked decomposed partially. We had her on ice and nearly forgotten until recently, when she proclaimed her presence."
"What?" Inuyasha blurted, trying to figure in his mind how that would work.
"It gets better," Bell promised. "On ice or not, she screamed. One of our workers heard her and tried to get her out and warm, but the moment after she screamed, she went silent. Essentially, she died again, and I don't know what to do with her now. I originally had no rights over her; it was under Gagrin's jurisdiction. He had a few of his scientists look her over, and last night, two of them were ordered to cut her apart and find out if any part of her was still alive. She was alive, alright. . ."
Kagome stilled, even as her mouth kept translating. This was beginning to sound suspiciously like her dream, which up until now had been forgotten.
"She literally came alive, jumped through the plate glass window, and eventually fell into an AirCar. Her body took the impact well, but seemed to have killed her again. We can't detect any life in her body at all, and after that episode, Gagrin gave her over to my section. I'm not sure what to do with her just yet, but for the moment, she's remaining clothed and in a hospital bed. If she comes alive again, I'll try to keep her calm and conscious."
"Anything else to say?" Inuyasha asked, looking disturbed.
"Only one," Bell answered, and spoke to Kenjimaru. "Whoever you are, I suggest you don't come back to any major city anytime soon. You, or Inuyasha, for that matter. The two of you are essentially 'shoot on sight' by police officials, more so Kenjimaru, since you woke up by yourself. Word is spreading to the news as we speak, despite our efforts to stop it. And Kagome, good luck out there."
With that, the screens turned off, save for Cardinals. He said directly to her, "Report to me in full what happened." Then the last screen was off, and Cardinal turned to leave.
"Wait," Kagome said. "You're. . . a demon, aren't you?"
The woman turned around with a smile. "Half-bred kitsune and wolf, but yes. That said, goodbye." She waved, and then – in a showy puff of smoke – was simply gone.
Kagome looked over at Inuyasha. "So, what are we doing?"
"Kenjimaru is decoding a message," he answered, "whereas we are doing nothing."
"Nearly finished," Kenjimaru put in. "I have a few passages left, and then we must save Chichi-ue."
Inuyasha practically boggled at Kenjimaru before giving a laugh. "When you say 'Chichi-ue' like that, I swear you sound just like your father."
"On that subject," Kagome cut in, "explain to me what the two of you are doing out here."
Leading Kagome to the shrine cave, Kenjimaru went back to translating the text written there, and Inuyasha began telling Kagome what he knew. It started with the parts he'd left out - Sesshomaru going seemingly insane after Rin's premature death, Kenjimaru trying desperately to return his father to normal, the disappearance of Sesshomaru and the "apocalypse."
At the end, Kagome said, "Sounds like Sesshomaru's disappearance directly resulted in the downfall."