03 – Forging New Partnerships
Heiji grunted as he moved slowly towards a dilapidated building, just a few blocks where he had left the suspect he had caught earlier cuffed, along with the teller, who had been part of the scheme. It was pretty easy to get the gist of what was going on… all it took was a little threat on his part, plus the fact the thug was pretty much ignorant with the finer parts of police enforcement helped, and the beans were spilled.
The whole thing was a very rough type of sting operation. The teller would be the lookout, spot folks with cash strapped on them, and when they leave, he would call the gang and describe their target. Outside, more gang members would tag the target. They would use a baiting technique to force their target to a more isolated area, where they would rob them of their cash.
The thug back at the pawnshop had confessed that the girl they had robbed, Maehara Shinobu, was being held at their hideout. To them, if she was rich enough to exchange millions of yen on her person, her family must have had more. Heiji sighed with some relief… at least it wasn't something more… well, the detective didn't want to think it. As long as she was relatively safe, it would do.
The horizon was encompassed with darkness. The area around the dilapidated building was barely lit, making the surroundings far more sinister than it was. There were no adjacent buildings… the hideout was smacked in an empty space, though obviously it was far from abandoned. Motorcycles of different models were parked outside of it, and while the windows were barricaded, some holes indicated that there was light inside, and if one looked closely, there was activity.
Signaling his charges, Heiji, Yosubei, Miyamoto and Kensuke began to stealthily moved behind the front end of the building, and entered, keeping themselves as low and as quiet as possible. The young detective didn't want to attract the attention of any unsavory character without any back-up, now did he?
Using hand signals, the four officers began to spread around as they had finally entered. Luckily, the interior was filled with rather large boxes that had enough volume to hide the officers, away from the eyes of the rather ugly looking bunch of biker gang members that had taken this place as a sort of headquarters.
Rather scary, Heiji thought as he shifted his weight beneath his feet, crouched, his gun cocked and ready. He had no plans to use it yet… it was more of a means of intimidation rather than an offense. The gang outnumbered them on the floor they were in, and he was pretty sure there were more upstairs.
No… the real reason why they were hiding here was a small surprise flank. A few minutes ago, he had contacted the Chief of police, explaining the situation. If things went smoothly, he was pretty sure there would be two vans of SWAT teams coming in, informed of a potential hostage situation, while Patrol would come for the wounded teller and gang member that Heiji had caught earlier.
Now all he could do was wait.
"Shit… she had nothing else on her…"
"The cash would be good enough to last us months! Lucky break!"
"What do we do with her now boss?"
"I'm sure we can think of some things…"
"Hands off. We try something like that, the police will be over our asses!"
"How about… her?"
"SHHH! Godamnit… don't talk about that freaky lady!?"
Shinobu's eyes stirred, the voices hammering in her skull. She felt wobbly, and for a moment, out of it, wondering where she was, and why she was there. There was a slight moment as memories started pouring in…
After she had exchanged a rather modest sum of money, she caught the attention of a young man in a dreadful state. Being good-natured, she went to him, rather deep inside a narrow passage to give him something that would feed and clothe him… and the next thing she knew, her mouth was covered in a cloth filled with an odd smell that knocked her out.
She stilled… her eyes opening slightly to see what was going on around her. Their words felt like hammers hitting metal pots… her hands were unbound, which she found surprising, but thankful, at least. The two men arguing would only point at her. One had his pants down.
Intentions were obvious. In desperation and fear, she suddenly stood up and lunged towards the man nearest to her, and with her training in Mol-Mol, she executed a perfect throw, downing the man in seconds.
The men around her realized it. They reacted too slowly. Shinobu was already going towards her next opponent, one nearer the stairs this time, which she'd use as her portal of escape, and easily threw that man down as well… but by then, everyone reacted.
Heiji noticed the commotion immediately. Knowing something was afoot, he signaled his men to draw their weapons and take the men by surprise. Counting to three, the officers and Heiji shouted 'Freeze' with their guns drawn. Some gang members were taken by surprise, but others, armed with automatic sub-machine guns and had itchy trigger fingers, squeezed the triggers without thought.
Bullets flew. Bodies of some gang members became unfortunate targets as the inexperienced, yet rather heavily armed fools just kept pressing the trigger.
"Goddamnit! Call the Chief," Heiji shouted towards his closest companions: Yosubei, Miyamoto, and Kensuke. Miyamoto nodded, and grabbed his cellphone out and began to dial the number. "Tell them we need back-up! Bring the SWAT team if you have to…!"
Everything suddenly went dark. The lights came down and with the windows shut in by wooden barricades, almost everything went pitch black; the gang member who was firing stopped immediately, surprised.
He suddenly felt the wind shift at his side. The sound of wood creaking near him. Then, he saw a shadow move in front of him. He then knew it.
"Oh God… she's here! She's…!"
His words were cut off when he suddenly shouted, asking, no begging to be let down. The sound of his gun clattered on the floor, and every other gang member alive and standing paled under the barely visible light. The next moment later, they could see a body hanging upside down.
Then, an explosion. Those without much nerve simply dropped their weapons and ran, only to be taken out one at a time. The braver ones looked desperately at one another.
"Stick together! Stick together!" one of them shouted. "Group up, damnit! She's just picking us off one at a time!"
"Smart," was a reply. A female voice. Behind him.
That's when some of the braver men ran as well.
"Good God," Heiji muttered as he stood up slightly. He saw her… this Dark Lady who everyone was talking about. It was dark, but he could make out her silhouette. Her form was… well, to any man's eyes, it would have been anything but perfect. There was a raw sort of animalistic nature in her form, the dark boogeyman most people wouldn't want to meet on the street. She definitely looked like a bat.
That's when he remembered his job. He aimed his gun at her, and yelled, "FREEZE!"
The Dark Lady looked at him, and her hands moved quickly. There was a glint of metal, and before Heiji knew it, something passed him, and hit the thug creeping up behind him. Heiji lowered his weapon for a second, looking behind him and saw one of the gang members lying on the floor, groaning, his gun clattered uselessly on the floor.
His eyes quickly saw something in the dark, and immediately, automatically, aimed his gun back towards the shadowy figure, and squeezed the trigger of his gun. The Dark Lady didn't even seem to react as one of the thugs also sneaking behind her shouted as he grabbed his elbow, the pipe he was going to use to smash her head in dropped on the floor.
"There was no need for that," the figure muttered. "But thanks. Officer."
Suddenly, she seemed to float up, and disappear in the darkness of the ceiling. Heiji lowered his weapon, looking at the spot the mysterious vigilante had disappeared to.
"My name is Heiji Kei…" he muttered rather blankly.
Back-up arrived after a few minutes… and in Heiji's opinion, a few minutes too late. Everything was done and over. After the Dark Lady disappeared from the shadows, Heiji moved up each floor systematically, until he finally found a barely lit room full of downed thugs, and somewhat disbelieved looking woman.
"Maehara Shinobu?" Heiji asked. The young woman finally noticed him, and backed away a bit.
"Relax, miss, I'm a police officer," Heiji calmly took out his badge as he approached her. Standard operating procedure. "Are you okay miss? Shall we call an ambulance?"
"No, no, I'm fine," Shinobu insisted. Then, he saw Heiji's face under a ray of light coming from one of the holes of the covered windows. She gave a gasp. "Senpai…!?"
"Oh… no… you're not… I mean, I'm sorry…" she began to blush. Heiji just seemed to chuckle.
"There's nothing to apologize for, Maehara-san…" he replied, and looked around. "What happened here?"
"Um… I was trying to go home to visit my father when… um… I got… um…"
"Jumped?" Heiji offered.
Shinobu just nodded. "I woke up, untied and I knocked…" and she pointed towards one of the men nearest to her position, "… that guy out…"
"Wait, wait a moment…" Heiji cut her off. "You… knocked that guy out?"
The young woman blushed. How was she supposed to explain that her friend, a princess of MolMol insisted that she learned to defend herself during her stay there? Instead, she just nodded blankly.
"Nice job!" Heiji smiled, and the young woman blushed at the compliment.
"I was then surrounded, everything went dark, and… well, she came…" Shinobu muttered the last words in awe. "She just went at them without pause… the darkness embraced her. All of them came down one at a time, hitting them all left and right, and when they were all done… she just left."
Heiji nodded, then checked on the downed men, and checked their pulse. All alive… all unconscious. They'd be bruised a bit, but their beatings weren't all that brutal. Whoever this Dark Lady character was, she just used enough force to incapacitate, nothing more.
"Who is she?" the young woman asked.
"A vigilante," Heiji replied softly. "A criminal."
"She's a hero," Shinobu insisted with a whisper.
Heiji didn't know how to respond to that, and just settled with a small smile.
Paperwork… the bane of any hardworking police officer, more so when you add the factor of spotting the mysterious shadowy vigilante. How do you describe a woman wearing all black, her eyes absent, and even her skin color? All Heiji could put there was that she looked like a giant humanoid bat. He was not going to hear the end of this if the gossiping female police officers found it funny.
The Chief was pretty much neutral about it. Half-expected the man to demand Heiji why he didn't take her down, he was somewhat surprised when he just said nothing, Heiji's worries abated.
Maehara Shinobu was also in the headquarters. Heiji had insisted she come along so her testimony would be put on record, not telling her that she was being put to protection for other reasons… one of them had to do with her former manager, who is now known as the Joker. He also got her staying residence and contact number, just in case.
She was apparently staying with her father, who was a taxi driver. Her parents divorced, and Shinobu, unwilling to watch the two duke it out in the courts and at home, decided to run away, and was taken in by the residents of the All Girl's Dorm as the resident cook.
Most of her money that was taken by the gang were thankfully confiscated and returned to her. There was no shortage, something she was thankful. Heiji never questioned why she needed the money… deemed it too personal to ask.
Her father came in after the questions were asked, and the money was given. Heiji smiled as he saw the face of the father, who looked worse for wear, shine as he saw his daughter running to him. They both hugged, with the father crying somewhat openly as he patted her head, while she too cried, talking to her dad with warmth. Then, they separated, and Heiji, who stood close to them stood straight as Shinobu began to bring her father along and approached him.
"Dad… this is Heiji-san. He helped that woman save me…" she introduced.
Hadn't it been true, Heiji would have found the inclusion of the mysterious vigilante a bit annoying. "Good evening, Maehara-san."
"Thank you, Heiji-san, for all your work," the man stated, bowing a bit. "If there is anything we can do…"
"It was my job, Maehara-san," Heiji smiled. "I am just glad your daughter was safe."
Watching them leave, Heiji felt a stab of pride. Today was a good day… not much mystery to solve, but he saved a woman and arrested a whole gang. He also spotted the shadowy woman in a bat costume, but even if she got away, there were other chances. Waving goodbye towards Shinobu as she got on her father's taxi, they drove away, leaving him behind the precinct.
With steady steps, he climbed towards his office. He wondered for a moment, as he sat down on his chair and wondered whether he was going to go back to his apartment or just spend the night at his office when he noticed that the window on the west portion of the room, the left part of his desk, was open.
The lights suddenly went out, and from the right side, a shadowy figure emerged from the shadows. Heiji's heart almost jumped out of his chest, and his hand automatically went to for his right holster to his gun, though from his position, he wouldn't be able to draw it unless he stood… and he knew, at her range, he wouldn't have gotten a shot out before she was unto him.
"What are you doing here?" he demanded with a level voice, though inside, he was shaking.
"To talk," she replied, and walked towards the door. There was a clicking sound, and Heiji knew she locked it. She then quickly went in front of the desk, towering over him.
"Talk then…" Heiji muttered, his body ready to defend itself if she were to attack.
"You're a good cop," she began. "One of the few I think I can trust. Plus… you also have a bit of authority."
She seemed to throw something at the desk. Something quite heavy. Heiji was still a bit stiff, so he knew he wasn't the one who opened the light-shade at his desk. He had blinked for a moment as the bright light entered the darkened room, and when his eyes adjusted, he finally saw her in detail.
She wore a very skin-tight costume in matte black. There weren't any much details, though he did see some formation on the fabric, making him wonder what kind of clothing she was wearing, and whether it bullet-proof. There was a somewhat big sign of a bat, its outline in thin yellow line. Her mask was made of the same, if not more formed and harder looking material, which made him wonder how she could see or even breathe through the material.
She just looked at him, unmoving. He stared at her for a moment, before he looked down at his desk, and was surprised to find a somewhat big bag filled with money.
"Are you bribing me?" he asked immediately.
"Don't be silly," she seemed to growl. "Use this money to do drug-buys."
Watching his confused face, she seemed to sigh.
"Use this money and tell your team to buy drugs from the Yakuza…"
"I know what a drug-buy is," it was Heiji's turn to sound annoyed. "Why though? What is so special about this money?"
"They are lightly irradiated marked bills," she explained. "Buy enough, you can probably pin-point where the Yakuza keep their money."
Heiji got it immediately. He looked impressed. "A bit too fancy for a city cop like me…"
"Tell them you are getting help from various of agencies," she shrugged. "Just keep the plan to yourself mostly. Like I said earlier… I do not trust the other cops."
"I know of your last operation…" she replied, somewhat cruelly for Heiji, who felt embarrassed. "I doubt you want anything happen to waste your efforts again."
"What are you playing at?" he asked. "What is in it for you?"
She seemed to ignore the question. "At the bottom of the bag is a machine which can detect the marked bills. Use it well."
Heiji looked down at the bag just for a moment, and looked up, only to see her gone. He stood up, and walked towards the open window, where she had obviously made her disappearance, and looked outside. The world seemed to pass by, as if nothing had happened, no shadowy figure in sight.
Had Heiji looked up, he would have seen her, upside down, supported by a single rope. She stared at him from the top, before she slowly ascended towards the roof, which was silent and bare. She then removed her mask, revealing Kudo's neutral expression as she stared at the city she had sworn to protect, the wind blowing her cape slightly.
For a moment, she just stood there, and then put on her mask again, took out what looked like a gun, and fired it. A long length of chord traveled out, and she swung from it, over the city.
The first step was done.
To Be Continued…