Disclaimer; The creator of 'Ga Rei' is Hajime Segawa, and the additions to the franchise from 'Ga Rei -Zero-' can be attributed to Studio 'AIC Spirits & asread'. This is strictly a non-profit piece of fan work. And since I don't have a penny to my name, it wouldn't be worth the trouble to sue little old me anyway. Gyakuten Saiban is the intellectual property of Capcom. The Naruto reference is the property of Musashi Kishimoto.
Preface – I wrote this as a knee jerk reaction to the end of GaRei -Zero- a while ago, but have only gotten around to posting it a few months on. This is going to be in much the same vein as by GSG fic 'Mistake' given that it functions of a similar plot device (sort of). I'd like to think it is more polished than its earlier counterpart. Anyway, without much further ado…
Even now, I can remember that fateful night so clearly. I can still feel the fear, the anger, the bitterness… the despair, so fresh in my mind.
I had lost everything.
I was broken, lying on a bed without the ability to move or talk. My beloved father had been murdered. My fiancé had seemingly deserted me, and my adopted family had stripped my inheritance from me.
And above all that, I had become a murderer.
In my heat of anger and bloodlust, I had crossed a line that separated me from the monsters that I hunted. For that, I paid a heavy price. There were no excuses… only regrets, remorse and the guilty satisfaction I had over taking that helpless girl's life. It was a punishment I had resigned myself to pay for whatever wretched life I had left to live.
I had lost my inheritance and my fiancé through no fault of my own. At least in that I believed I was blameless. But in letting my emotions, rage and selfishness get the better of me, I lost so much more.
I had lost my honor.
I had lost my pride.
I had even lost my ability to move and speak.
I remembered blaming them for my misfortune. I blamed the girl whom I had so ruthlessly murdered and my comrades at the agency. I blamed my fiancé who had left me to rot and my accursed uncle… everyone I felt who had deserted me as I lay in that hospital room.
It was wrong. I knew I was being bitter… but I was human at the end of the day, and I couldn't deny those bitter feelings as much as I loathed myself for feeling that way. Even now, long after I learned the accounts of what had transpired and my pain had dulled and faded, I can still feel shadows of that bitterness in my heart.
But even so, I still had that one thing. I still had my precious treasure that I prized above all else. I believed wholeheartedly that if I could just hold on to that treasure, I could still find the will to live within myself. To resist that evil boy who came every night in my dreams to tempt me into taking that one action that would have meant my damnation... and destroyed everything that made me the person she loved.
For her, my sister in all but name, I would gladly have endured the hell I now lived in until the end of time. For Tsuchimiya Kagura, I would have willingly let my soul burn in hell...
But then, that fateful night… I lost my precious treasure in the worst way possible.
In retrospect, I didn't suspect a thing.
Kagura had made her nightly visit a little later than normal but I, being as blissfully unaware of my surroundings as I was at the time, didn't know what fate would have in store. We were lying together on my bed in my hospital room and Kagura rested her head on my shoulder. She'd just changed my bandages and bathed me, and now we were just enjoying the tranquility of the night together.
Then out of the blue, she asked me a terrible question.
"Hey Yomi, can you tell me one thing?"
If I had known what she was about to do… perhaps I would have contented myself with staying quiet.
But I never could turn her down.
"The Director talked about it at the agency today… about Mei-san."
My eyes widened. My blood quickened. Fear rose in my chest. The one thing that I'd had hoped she would never bring up was suddenly upon me.
If there was one thing I thought could make Kagura forsake me, it was learning the truth. The undisputable fact that I had murdered Mei, my own cousin, in cold blood, would be it.
A part of me wanted to believe Kagura would never forsake me, even knowing what I am and what I've done. Kagura was the one thing I had left. Even the faintest possibility of seeing the same revulsion and shame in her eyes that I have seen in so many others chilled me to the core.
"Everyone doubted you. But it wasn't you, right?"
Of course they doubted me.
I did it.
An entire forensics team probably went over the site of my battle with Mei with a fine toothed comb, and I was dead sure that there would be no trace of the Sesshoseki left there. That bastard Mitogawa was too smart for that. I knew with all the cold hard evidence pointing to me as a murderer and the entire Isayama clan howling for my blood, it was the natural that they doubted me.
Hell, it was the truth. Why shouldn't they?
I'm ashamed to say: that despite knowing this, I still held it against them.
It was me. That was the problem. Perhaps everyone today is harping about how I was forced to put her down in self defence, and that there really wasn't anything I could to save Mei by that point… but the fact remained. I had bested Mei in combat, and I made a conscious decision to execute my own cousin even as she begged me to spare her life. The truth was I could have chosen a better path, but instead I chosen revenge.
"You wouldn't kill a person out of hatred."
Murder requires two things, the taking of a life and the intent to take that life.
I did take Mei's life, and I sure as hell wanted to see her die horribly. I told Mei to never to open her big mouth ever again, and then I made damn sure she wouldn't be able to even if she tried. I can remember wondering just how the hell I was going to explain that little detail to Kagura. I was so scared… Damn. I had never felt so afraid in my whole life before that moment.
Confronting my father's murder who was powered by the most powerful evil object known to mankind? That wasn't scary.
Waking up in a body that wouldn't move without my voice? That wasn't scary either.
The slightest chance that I could lose Kagura was.
"They're terrible. They don't understand you. No matter how painful it is."
And then suddenly I was expected to give an answer. 'Yes, I'm innocent' or 'no, I'm a filthy murderer'.
I had no warning, no warning, and no chance to prepare…
For a split second, I actually considered lying to her. More than anything else in the world, I wanted to hold onto Kagura. If that would make me a worse person that I was already… I thought I could still do it…because I could still hold on to Kagura.
"It the answer is yes, knock once. "
I tapped my finger once, a strong resolute tap which conveyed confidence.
I remembered my resolution to cover up the truth. For just this one time, I thought I could be selfish. 'A little white lie wouldn't hurt anyone' I reasoned.
"You'd never do anything wrong."
Those were the words that tipped me over.
I would never do anything wrong… to her. If I lied to her now, perhaps I would be able to keep her. But I would never be able to forgive myself. What would be the point then?
"…It's it's no, knock twice."
Kagura. I'm so sorry.
I tapped my finger for one last time. It was a dull, weak movement that hardly made a sound, a testament to how much fear I had to owning up to my deed before the one person who really mattered.
I could never lie to Kagura. Even I knew I would reveal the truth of my sin, I just could not lie to her.
I killed someone, Kagura. I murdered Mei. With so much hatred and anger coursing through my veins, it burned. Even as though she begged for her life, I still killed her. I didn't care that she had been controlled by the Shesshoseki at the time. All I could see was the girl who had taken my father from me. In one powerful burst of emotion, I threw aside any decency or morality I had and murdered Mei in cold blood for what she'd taken from me, and in so doing crossed a line that never should have been crossed.
The deed was done.
I thought I had shattered the illusion of my innocence to Kagura, and shown her my true self; that of a murderer. All I could do then was to wait. Wait for the hammer to fall with bated breath.
And so I waited for her judgment.
What happened next would haunt me for the rest of my days.
The first sign that my nightmare had begun was Kagura's reply to my confession.
"What are you talking about, Yomi, you didn't do anything wrong." Kagura shifted her head on my shoulder and looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes of hers. "They deserved it. Mei, your uncle… they took what rightfully belonged to you and you fought back the only way you could."
I'd like to say I kept my composure, but I remember having the most astounded expression on my face when I heard Kagura's reply.
That didn't sound like the Kagura I knew.
I had just told her that every bad rumour about me was true and that I just so happened to be a murderer, and she had just brushed it off saying that the victims had it coming. She even went as far as to claim the Isayama inheritance rightfully belonged to me. At the time, I seriously doubted that would have been the case, what with the Isayama clan and their poor opinion of me.
Kagura picked my bewilderment up immediately.
"Oh, no wonder why you're so confused… I'd forgotten to show it to you all this time." Kagura laughed as she shuffled out of bed and rummaged around her carry bag for something. Then she produced a set of very legal looking documents and presented it to me. "Ah, here you go. Your father's last will and testament."
My eyes widened in astonishment as I accepted the papers from her with great care. Even despite my disabled body, I found the strength to page through those papers. Tears welled in my eyes. The handwriting was unmistakable.
I couldn't believe it…
In my hands, I held the half written piece of paper that was the last will and testament of Naruku Isayama.
…My father's will.
A flurry of questions and emotions flooded my mind. Grief and happiness, upon seeing the contents and realizing that my father did truly love me as his own. Confusion and curiosity, wondering how and where Kagura had gotten it. Finally, there was the crushing sense of futility. This will had arrived far too late to do anything. Now that I was a murderer and a cripple… even with, this nobody in their right minds would even let me have a single coin out of the Isayama estate. But even so… just holding those papers in my hands with the knowledge that my father did care about me was a small comfort.
Upon closer inspection, I saw some reddish mark staining the corner of the will, a hue that I recognized all too well in my line of work as an exorcist. My features scrunched up in bewilderment.
Why was there a speck of dried blood on the document?
"Yomi is there something wrong?"
I looked at Kagura, and then looked at the speck of blood. She understood immediately. "..oh, erm… looks like I wasn't careful enough. I got some of that dirty stuff on your father's will." She rubbed her neck with embarrassment.
My mouth opened in surprise. Did she hurt herself when she was getting it?
"Oh well, I suppose the way your relatives were, I should have expected them to get back at me in this way." Kagura folded her arms with annoyance, her face scrunching up into a slight pout. "Gee, even after I slaughtered the lot of them, they still give managed to find a way to trouble you. Some persistent enemies you've got there, sis."
For a brief second, I honestly thought I had heard wrong and needed my ears checked. And then I realized Kagura wasn't joking.
I reacted as anyone should. I dropped the will and gaped like a fish. What are you saying, Kagura? You, who were reduced to tears over harming another human being… why were you talking as if you'd just killed my family? And why did you seem happy about it?
Kagura saw my discomfort… and took it the wrong way. "Ah! Sorry Yomi! I guess I was too overconfident and got carried away with all the fancy sword work and…" She looked at me guiltily. "Sorry for getting blood on your will."
My blood froze in my veins. I searched her eyes for dishonesty, and found none.
She was telling the truth. I couldn't believe it, but she was telling the truth…
"Don't worry Yomi, I promise that those horrible relatives of yours won't hurt you anymore… I got them for you." She smiled sweetly. "I even burned their corpses for good measure."
"The handwriting is genuine… this is legitimate. This was… is… the true will of Isayama Naraku." The aide informed the council worriedly.
Kagura sat in traditional Japanese style before the assembled clan elders of the Isayama clan. Several days ago, Kagura had politely asked for an audience with them. It took some time, since she wasn't as important as some of their other visitors, but perhaps out of pity because of her close relationship to Yomi the Isayamas eventually the made time for her. She then presented their late family head's last will and testament not a moment after she'd stepped in to the same room as them.
Kagura wasn't the most subtle of people.
Subtle wasn't the effect the young exorcist was looking for.
As one would it expect, it set the entire assembly into an uproar. Most called it a forgery outright. Others cautiously accepted it for what it was, if only because it seemed more in line as to what Naraku had often expressed. Naturally they had been sceptical, but for the sake of argument and to save face, the elders had allowed the document be tested for authenticity.
Now after nearly two hours of waiting, the results were back, and the jury was out.
It was the real deal.
Using various forms of handwriting analysis and when compared with the will allegedly used at Naraku's wake, it was apparent that this half finished copy was the genuine article, and the one used to strip Yomi's inheritance from her the fake. In fact, as Kagura had been all too helpful in pointing out that unbeknownst to the assembly, Naraku had in fact being in the process of updating his will, not writing a new one altogether.
Naraku, being one to err on the side of caution, had left copies of his previous wills to a trustworthy lawyer friend, each being more in line with Kagura's copy than the one Yuu had presented at the wake.
They had telephoned the lawyer, this 'Naruhodo' person whom they'd previously written off as a hobo-crackpot. With the way he kept badgering them about how they had made a huge mistake, it was all too easy to dismiss the man. Alas, they were mistaken.
The Isayama was aghast to discover that Naruhodo was already furiously preparing a watertight case against them to reclaim the inheritance in conjunction to Yomi's defense to Mei's murder. He was just waiting for Yomi to wake and give him the green light before he dragged the honor of the entire Isayama clan through the mud in one very expensive and very public lawsuit. Then someone mentioned that Naruhodou Ryuuchi was a recently readmitted legendary lawyer with a penchant of clearing innocent people's names and worse, had strong connections to the famous 'Ayasato' bloodline…
It would be a scandal of untold proportions.
Hell, once Naruhodo was through with them, it would be a public scandal of untold proportions.
The sheer scale of the ramifications jolted the assembly into action.
Accusations started flying around the room. Angry cries of foul play on Yuu's part suddenly become the order of the day. All the while, Tsuchimiya Kagura sat silently before the gathering eyes closed as if in deep thought. She was the perfect picture of serenity in the center of a maelstrom that she had unleashed. Kagura waited patiently for the storm around her to die down, and only then opened her eyes to face Isayama Yuu.
"Tsuchimiya Kagura… as the head of the Isayama family, I would like to extend our thanks for delivering this document to us." A rather flustered Isayama Yuu finally said. "However even so, it is too late. Even if Yomi is cleared of Mei's murder, she can no longer take up the mantle of exorcist in her… current state."
Kagura didn't miss the barely contained scepticism in his voice about Yomi's innocence., nor the pause at his mention of Yomi's predicament.
"This is regrettable." A series of guilty nods followed his words.
"Yes, even with this will, we can only acknowledge a past injustice has been done. Yet there is nothing we can do to correct it. I am sorry, Tsuchimiya-dono, but you seem to have wasted a trip."
Kagura's fists clenched in anger. Of course he would say that. After this, his standing amongst the Isayama family would be demolished. It might have been her imagination, but Kagura could swear she heard him taking a small satisfaction in reminding her that despite her deed Yomi would still be a cripple for the rest of her life and carry the stigma as a murderer.
"More to the point, where did you get this?" Isayama Yuu questioned suspiciously, still confused as to how Kagura had produced this key document.
Kagura suppressed a wicked grin.
"Mei's room. I found it hidden under one of the floorboards. Not the kind of thing you'd find easily, even when clearing out her room. " Kagura gave a wry smile as she said this. "I think she was too guilty after murdering Isayama-san to throw it out altogether."
Loud gasps echoed through the room. "...Are you accusing Mei, a victim of a horrible murder, of the very same crime?" One of the elders breathed.
Without even the slightest hesitation, Kagura gave her answer.
"In a word, yes."
Hearing his beloved daughter's memory being insulted, Yuu reacted as any parent would have, nearly leaping out of seat, outrage playing on his features. "Watch your tongue, Tsuchimiya Kagura! You are dangerously out of l-" Isayama Yuu never got any further than that.
Faster than the eye could see, Kagura surged forth from where she was sitting, Michael the 12th already unsheathed. She crossed the distance between them in a moment and ran the surprised man through. Right though his forehead.
Isayama Yuu, father to the late Isayama Mei, died instantly.
A shocked silence fell upon the audience hall. The sheer absurdity of what had just occurred was so shocking not even the bodyguards could react. Kagura silently pulled her blade from the corpse's head, and the body fell though the ground with a sickening thump.
"…Tsuchimiya Kagura," One of the elders shakily whispered in abject horror. "What have you done?"
"What I should have done a long time ago." Kagura let out a very, very uncharacteristic snarl and held Michael the 12th in a white knuckled grip in barely controlled anger. "Yomi never wanted this inheritance for herself. She only wanted to do her father proud. Yet you… you bastards, took it all away from her because she 'wasn't part of your bloodline'. Even now, when she is lying in bed unable to move or speak, you can only talk about 'family honor'. You people are disgusting!"
There was a flurry of activity as the bodyguards drew their probably ran off to call the police. Kagura shook her head at that pathetic attempt. Did they think that would help them any? She had already arranged for all the lines of communication in and out of the estate to be disabled at this time in advance, courtesy of her new 'ally'.
"Tsuchimiya-san, this insane! Think about what you're doing!" One of the Elders cried in fear.
"Someone stop her!" Another with less composure bellowed.
He was right to be afraid. Kagura was said to be a prodigy, a girl whose talents would see her surpass even Isayama Yomi… there were even murmurs among them that she to be the greatest exorcist produced by her family line in generations.
And now that same prodigy was out to kill them.
"I had already come here with intention of killing you all. I just wanted you to know why." Kagura stated coldly as she readied the bloodstained sword in her hands.
"STOP HER, DAMN IT!"
And then the slaughter started in earnest.
When Kagura finished recounting her tale, it didn't take me looking in the room mirror to know that my face had become pale as a ghost.
"You probably haven't heard about it since it only happened two days ago and everyone seems dead set in keeping you out of loop. The police were investigating the matter… but I think they would have figured out who's the perpetrator by now. I wonder if I'll make tomorrow's headlines?" Kagura laughed jokingly. "Anyway, can you believe how pathetic the lot of them were? I didn't even break a sweat when killing them. Shows you just how unfit they were to take what was rightfully yours!"
I wanted to cry out in denial. Scream at Kagura, asking her desperately if this was all one big joke she was pulling on me. Anything better than accepting the tale she'd just recounted as the truth. I refused to accept she had done this. I didn't want to believe that Kagura could have committed the same sin as I.
Then Kagura handed me Shishiou, the ancient sword that I had held for so many years until it had been stripped from me by my clan.
"Here, I even brought back Shishiou for you. I know you can't use it right now, but it belongs to you, right? Sorry it's a bit dirty, I forgot to clean it after getting it back." Kagura said delightfully as she handed back the hallowed sword. Immediately I saw there was a smear of dried blood on its scabbard. Never had I been so horrified to see Shishioh in my entire life.
Once my faithful companion, Shishiou had become cold hard proof of what Kagura had done. What she'd done in MY name.
I wanted to throw up.
They could find out eventually. They would hunt her. They would hunt her and kill her and… Kagura would die.
Reality had far worse things in mind.
"You're worried about me?" Kagura let out a casual laugh. "Don't worry, Yomi. I'm strong now. My skills have improved by leaps and bounds. Better yet, nobody can harm either of us …now that I've got Byakuei."
A chill fell over my spine. That couldn't be right, I thought. Byakuei was under her father, Tsuchimiya Garaku's control… How could Kagura have it? Unless…
Kagura smiled warmly.
Oh gods… there's more?
"Kagura… why…?" The Tsuchimiya patriarch wheezed out in disbelief, hands twitching towards the blade sticking through his chest. He hadn't seen this coming. How could he? His own daughter, a person whom he'd known since birth, had just done something so out of character it caught him completely unprepared. It was a perfect sneak attack, resulting in his total incapacitation with Kagura dealing a mortal blow before the wielder of Byakuei could even defend himself.
Kagura let out a bitter smile, and bit back her tears. "I'm sorry father… but I need Byakuei if I need to protect Yomi. You… understand right?"
"This isn't you… What's happened to you Kagura…?"
"I won't ask you to forgive me… but this is something I need to do. Tell mother when you see her that I love her…"
Kagura twisted the sword and ripped it from her father's body in a spray of blood.
As he lay bleeding out on the floor, life ebbing from his veins, Tsuchimiya Garaku had the dubious honor of living just long enough to witness Byakuei being transferred to its new master, before passing away with terror forever etched into his cold dead eyes…
Kagura bit back a sob and took several deep breadths. "Now Yomi… I'm strong enough to look after the both of us." As if to reaffirm Kagura's conviction, a shining red light suddenly bathed the room in evil...
My mouth was dry.
Her own father. Her own beloved father.
"Like I said, I'm stronger now!" Kagura puffed out her chest proudly. "I've got Byakuei and my swordplay is better than ever. I'd like to see them try and come after us now!"
Had she gone insane? Had the stresses of exorcism coupled with my injuries finally broke her mind? I tried to come up with some reasonable explanation, but I couldn't.
"Hm? That's not it?" Kagura said wondering why her explanation just made me all the more distressed. "I must be thinking this from the wrong angle… ah! I know! You're worried all our old friends in the Ministry of Environment would come after me too? Weren't you?" Kagura laughed dismissively. "You're so paranoid, Yomi! No, they can't come after us…"
Kagura giggled. Again, that chill ran up my spine. She wouldn't…
"..because I killed them!" Kagura giggled and clapped her hands together. "Well, most of them at least."
"I can't believe I'm hearing this!" Kagura shouted. It was rare to hear Kagura raise her voice, but in this instance the members of the Disposal team and their boss understood her reaction. "How can you just accept this? Just because someone says Yomi killed Mei out of spite, you all give up on her? Right now when she needs us most?"
"I'm sorry, Kagura, I truly am… but all the evidence points to Yomi murdering Mei." Ayame said in a soft voice."There's nothing we can do."
"But …you all know Yomi. She's our friend! She wouldn't do anything like this! It must have been in self defense or something. Yomi probably even blames herself… you know how she is! You should think better of her and not listen to some drivel from someone who doesn't even know what they're talking about!" Kagura desperately insisted.
"Kagura…" A tired Noriyuki laid a hand on her shoulder, but the young girl shook it off.
"Regardless, I'm afraid with the burning of the Isayama estate and the murder of their entire clan, my attempts to shield her from the judicial system have been defeated." Ayame sighed. "She is too much in the public eye. The people want answers, and Yomi is the only one who has them."
"Has… anyone told her about her family yet?" Kazuki asked cautiously. "I think the only one here who's actually visited Yomi in the past few weeks is Kagura, and I know Kagura hasn't said a word to her yet considering how busy we've been for the last few days, what with the murders and all."
"I'm afraid not. Unfortunately, she will learn about it soon. As ridiculous as it sounds, the police are considering trying her for that murder as well… they think she's part of a larger conspiracy." Ayame sighed and leaned into her wheelchair wearily.
Iwahata slammed his open palm down onto his desk. "Now that is plain ridiculous! Yomi is responsible for torching the Isayamas? Have those idiots even looked at her lately? If I find out who started that rumour I'm gonna-"
Ayame held a hand up to stop the man's rant. "Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do. It's out of our jurisdiction now. The Isayama clan massacre has huge political and social ramifications… I'm sorry, but there date of the trial has already been set."
With the inheritance now up for grabs, the sharks were circling. The Isayama clan had many enemies and jealous rivals who coveted their vast legacy. The only thing left that even had the remotest chance of coming between them and their prize was a disowned cripple up for murder… a mere speed bump that was easily disposable.
With the Isayama's media blackout over their murder scandal all but over now that all of them had been butchered and burned to a crisp, the greed and determination of those fortune seekers had trampled all over Ayame Jinguuji's limited efforts to shield her former subordinate. These greedy men and women were all powerful, some even high ranking members of the government.
"Damn it." Noriyuki whispered blinking back his tears. He was so close to completing his investigation! A few more days, and he'd have all the proof he needed to prove Yomi's innocence! But now with the way the situation was... Noriyuki punched his armrest in frustration. It wouldn't be so farfetched in his mind to think that his family was one of those sharks. Breaking for the marriage was one thing, but this? "Damn it father… damn it." He whispered, wondering just how he was going to face Yomi.
"Nabuu is sad."
"Nabuu is sad also."
The twin Nabuus echoed. A heavy silence fell over the room as the group slowly digested that their close friend and college was now beyond help.
"So… you're all just going to lie around and wait while Yomi is thrown to the dogs?" Kagura said in disbelief.
"What can we do?" Kazuki said helplessly. "It's over. Yomi is finished."Iwahata reached out and gave his colleague a well deserved slap up the back of his head.
"It's alright, Kagura. You said that Isayama-dono's lawyer friend will help Yomi right?" Noriyuki said, biting back his own despair as he reached out to comfort the young girl he viewed as a younger sibling. "Just trust in him. Just believe in-"
"Don't touch me."
Kagura shook of Noriyuki's comforting touch and backed away from him, from all of them, tears stinging in her eyes. "You are all just going to sit here and take this lying down? One of our own is in danger… we should do something!"
Iwahata sighed and palmed his face. "What do you want us to do? Walk up to the Courthouses and blow it all to kingdom come?"
"If that's what it takes. So be it."Kagura said with resolution in her unwavering eyes.
Silence fell over the room with various degrees of shock playing across the faces of her friends. It was Ayame who finally reacted to Kagura's statement. The wheelchair bound woman cleared her throat and smiled. "Kagura-chan. Maybe you should take the day off. You clearly aren't thinking clearly so maybe you sh-"
Like all the other times Kagura had began her senseless slaughters, the members of the Disposal team caught flat footed at the sight of the Tsuchimiya spirit beast emerging from behind her like the vengeful beast of legend it had become.
It was also all the more frightening for them, for a very good reason.
"Kagura! What are you doing?" Noriyuki cried out in horror. "That's Byakeui! Where did you get…?"
"…Hey, I just thought of some weird saying from that Manga I was talking about with my friends. 'Those who disobey orders are trash, but those who abandon their friends are worse than trash'." A wry smile worked its way onto Kagura's face.
"I guess that makes me a traitor and you all things that are worse than trash." Kagura finished as gave a wistful but sinister smile. "And now… you all die."
When she'd finished that last, horrifying storyI could only remember sitting there dumbly, staring at her smiling face. I remembered wishing to myself, over and over, that this was just a nightmare, a passing illusion that I would wake from.
She told me in that cheery voice of hers on how Byakuei smashed through the building in a blind rampage. The Nabuu brothers and Jinguuji-san were killed with her initial attack, not even having a chance to react of defend themselves. How Iwahata-san died trying in vain to reason with her, even as she allowed Byakuei to devour him. And how Noriyuki... Noriyuki had sacrificed himself to buy time for Kazuki and a blinded Nikaido to flee.
And then there were so many others…
I couldn't believe it. Or, more precisely, I didn't want to believe it. Even with the power of a Ga Rei, Kagura shouldn't have been able to kill as many people as she said she had. Byakeui for all his power, was tied to his host, Kagura. That one limitation should have prevented her from dealing so much carnage, especially if Noriyuki, my equal in combat prowess before my incapacitation, was present.
But the way she said it… I knew she was telling the truth.
"… and that Noriyuki! What a jerk! I knew that he was a coward who left you to suffer all alone, but really... Anyway I just punished him accordingly. He screamed like a girl once I finally got him... so unmanly. To think I once thought you two were a good match." Kagura pouted angrily as she finished her outburst.
"Oh well, I fed him to Byakuei piece by piece, so I guess it's too late to change anything. Nikaido-san and Kazuki-san managed to escape somehow. But don't you fret Yomi, I'll find them eventually. Last I saw Nikaido-san, she was having a nervous breakdown. They couldn't have gone far…"
My family and her father were one thing, but what Kagura had just told me was something beyond my worst nightmares made reality.
My tears were flowing freely now and I found it difficult to even breathe. I should have felt furious that the man I loved had been murdered. Instead, I just felt this black abyss in my chest. This hollowness… all this sorrow… and my eventual acceptance. Trapped in my crippled body I couldn't express my feelings in a physical manner. Our friends…
I stared at Kagura's concerned face in horror struggled against the rising bile in my throat.
"Oh, don't panic Yomi! Just because one or two of them got away doesn't mean we're in danger. I'll find Nikaido-san and Kazuki soon, and then we won't have to worry about them anymore. If... if it makes you feel better, I can feed them to Byakuei..."
Kargura had just killed so many of our friends… My senses overloaded, and I finally threw up. It was a miracle I held back the bile for as long as I did.
"Oh no! Yomi, stay right here! I'll go get a doctor."
She scrambled out of my room in a fright, but I was too shaken to care.
Why… why have you done those things! The Kagura I know and love would never even think about harming anyone, let alone our friends! Not Iwahata-san, who was like our reliable strong uncle. Not the Nabuu brothers, whom we always regardless with endless amusement. Not Kazuki, our perverted friend who was occasionally our partner in crime in out mischievous schemes. Not Jinguuchi-san our kind soft-spoken boss always flanked by her shy assistant. Not Noriyu-
I threw up again.
It sounded ridiculous, but I would swear on my father's grave that I must have thrown up twice by bodyweight in the small respite I had while Kagura was out. I was a sorry sight at the time. I was so busy crying and throwing up that I missed the sound of the descending helicopters, the gunfire and the screams.
And then Kagura came back.
Covered head to toe in blood.
"Oh dear! Looks like the Ministry of Defense have figured out where I am! Guess I was pretty stupid in forgetting about them. It was lucky that I had that penknife in my pocket or I would have been completely unarmed when they jumped me. I still have a ways to go!" Kagura laughed with embarrassment, completely at ease despite the gore that she was covered in. She rummaged around the room for a towel and began wiping the still liquid blood off her face.
"Hm… now that I think about it I should have visited them first before coming to see you, then I wouldn't have had this problem. But I was already running late from blowing up our old office. Oh well, what's done is done. I'll just have to speed up my plans a bit."
There were sirens outside. There was the sound of helicopter rotor blades. My heart seized in fright. They had come for her… They had really come for her. There was no further proof needed that she had done the things she had. From this moment on, Kagura was the enemy.
I sat helplessly on my bed. The sheer terror in my veins was so consuming, I didn't even feel the vomit and tears that now soiled my person. Kagura had become like me, a murderer and killer. For this day onward, they would hunt her until they captured or killed her.
Her life, all her dreams… gone. She had thrown all these things away. I stared at Kagura. My violet eyes gazed into azure.
In her resolute eyes, I saw her… unafraid that she was now set against all of humanity. She had killed. She had sinned. She would never again have a normal life. Yet despite the cost, to Kagura it was all worth it.
Why? The answer was simple.
Kagura loved me. As long as she held onto that, she could face down the entire world.
Kagura walked over and, with remarkable strength, gently scooped me up into her arms bridal style. "Yomi, it's going to get a little rough from here, so hang on tight okay? I'll take us somewhere safe."
Then, as she summoned her mighty Ga-Rei, I saw it.
It suddenly appeared on her forehead, gleaming like a beacon of evil and power in my small dark hospital room. That most vile and repulsive image that has haunted my memories since that day so long ago. I will never forget the seeing that luminescent red stone shining brightly on Kagura's forehead. It was a sign that proclaimed that her fate was set in stone and there was nothing I could have done about it. In retrospect, I actually should have seen it coming miles away.
One her forehead shone the Sesshoseki, the stone that was the crystallisation of pure evil. That small red stone that perverted everything a person was, and everything a person could be, into a monster by driving that person insane and eventually transforming them into an evil spectre. I had seen that stone several times and had even been offered its power.
I knew what it could do.
Had I been able to, I would have creamed in horror.
No wonder why they couldn't stop her! With the sheer power of that cursed stone, Byakuei and Kagura were for all intents and purposes unstoppable. Kagura had become something that I would even go as far to say as surpassing a dreaded 'Category A'.
My beloved sister had become an unstoppable monster in the same way Mei had, and there was nothing I could do to save her.
"Yomi, don't be scared." Kagura assured me gently, cradling me protectively in her arms and gently kissing me forehead. "You have always protected me, Yomi. Now, with this stone, I can finally protect you."
Then as she walked through the door of my hospital room with me in her arms… I wept.
As Kagura fought her way out of the hospital, my panic filled mind ran through a multitude of possibilities on how Kagura could have fallen prey to this damned stone. 'What could even allow the Sesshoseki to gain a foothold in Kagura' I kept asking myself.
I really wish never figured out the answer.
It was painfully obvious that there was only one thing in the world that could drive Kagura as far as she did… me. Kagura, who never could raise her blade against another living soul, a person who the emotion anger was almost foreign to, could only feel such things for me.
In coming to this state, enduring all the injustices that I had, I had forgotten that Kagura was suffered as much as I have… perhaps even more so. Her anguish as being helpless to change my crippled, despondent state must have changed into righteous fury when she'd realized that my father's will had been swapped… that my life had been ruined not by mere chance, but by malicious design.
For Kagura, who loved me so much, the people who had been responsible for my downfall were unforgivable. On my behalf, she went out in search of revenge… and then fell prey to the Sesshoseki.
"Don't worry, Yomi… once I'm done and I've gotten us out of here, I'll take you far, far away from here. I'll never let anyone ever hurt you again. It will just be the two of us. I promise." She assured time and time again as she battled through the encirclement.
I wanted to scream, but my voice failed me. I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her out of this madness, but my arms and legs refused to heed my desperate calls. All I could do was close my one eye to the horrid reality that was around me and weep silently as the sounds of battle raged.
And I too raged.
I wanted to curse Mitogawa.
I wanted to kill Mitogawa and break every one of his damn stones.
And then I wanted to set his corpse on fire and dance around it gleefully for what he'd done.
Mitogawa had given the Shesshoseki to Mei and had driven her insane. That act had caused her to kill my father and then try and kill me. Now, he had done it again to Kagura, and had sent her on this bloodbath. By all rights, i should have held him wholly accountable. But I couldn't. I knew as much as it was his fault that Kagura was like this, it was also mine.
I was her weakness, the one thing that could have caused her to fall. I, who had called her my greatest treasure, who had silently vowed to protect her against all things… even myself… had failed so utterly. Instead of resisting my urges, hatred and selfishness, I gave in… and she paid the price for my mistake.
I couldn't deny this fact… that my own weakness had stained my treasure and had turned her into a monster.
As fire and death swirled around me I, Isayama Yomi, finally knew the true meaning of despair.
In the days that followed, the combined forces of the Supernatural Disaster Prevention Agency from the Ministry of Defense and remnants of the Supernatural Disaster Countermeasures Division turned their full attention onto Kagura.
Kagura sprinted me to a cave out in the wilderness. She cared for me as tenderly as her own babe, bathing me and feeding me, waiting on my every whim and need. Kagura truly believed we could like alone together and live untroubled by those around us who wished us harm. Despite the fact I knew I was living with a monster in dirty cave in the middle of god knows here… I have to admit those days were the most peaceful in my entire life.
A peaceful, carefree life away from all that would seek to harm us…
It was her truest, most heartfelt wish. The wish that the Shesshoseki had helped shape into reality.
However, it was an unattainable wish. The military eventually found us just a scant fourteen days later, and they came down on her like the judgment of the gods themselves. When we realized they had arrived I knew my tranquil days were at an end. Kagura still believed though. Her smile before leaving to that doomed battle, the one she last gave me before she walked to her death told me that up until just before the end, she truly believed she could make that dream possible.
I feel sick just thinking about it.
She left me to fight for me, as she had always done. I lying alone on a makeshift bed in our little cave, could only look at the ceiling and try to ignore the carnage outside. The storm of blood, violence and death raged outside of the cave we made into our home. Despite the power of the mightiest Ga-Rei known to man and the power of the Shesshoseki, I knew that the sheer weight of numbers would eventually prove too much for her.
Her sporadic screams of pain and frustration that reached my ears merely cemented my knowledge that her defeat was inevitable. And while she was fighting for her life, I was lying there, helpless to even lift a finger… it was truly the darkest moment in my life.
Mitogawa came to me then, and offered me the chance to save her.
I believe that was part of his plan all along. Destroy me to get Kagura. Put Kagura in mortal peril, and get me. It was a good plan, except I think to say his timing was off. He'd come far too soon, and I was still much too angry at him for what he'd done. As he offered me the apple of Eden, I gave him my reply.
…I basically told him to fuck himself.
I would lie if I told you I didn't regret that decision I made that day. It was a decision made out of anger at him for what he'd done to Kagura, my selfishness once again clouding my judgment. I thought only of my anger, and in doing so had momentarily forgotten my love for Kagura.
In my weakest moments these days, I often wonder what would have happened if I'd actually taken up his offer… Sorry. Never mind. Forget it. It's not worth thinking about. It seems that my whole life has become one long string of regrets anyway, so it's no use on dwelling on just this one.
I think to spite me for refusing him, Mitogawa lifted my crippled body from my bed and took me outside. Just in time to watch the tragic finale of the last stand of Tsuchimiya Kagura. I can remember her, surrounded by dozens upon dozens of dead corpses, standing bloodied, exhausted yet still defiant even with her grievous wounds.
Standing like a pillar of strength against certain death.
I can still remember watching her while propped up against a burned out stump. Kagura, bleeding from many wounds, was finally stopped when Kugasa Natsuki got lucky and used her bike to shear of both Kagura's legs in one strike a wound so severe that not even dark powers of the evil stone could heal. I think it goes without saying that Kagura's agonized screams as her executioners closed in around her still haunts my dreams to this day.
I watched an exhausted Sakuraba Kazuki, the last conscious member of the entire Ministry of Environment after that grueling battle, took Kagura's own sword and brought it to her neck. Kazuki, a jovial young man that we had often socialized with in the past, looked at Kagura square in the eye. I never made out what else he said to her in that last conversation, but I didn't miss the last words Kagura would ever hear someone say to in her life. Words I would never have thought anyone could ever say to her.
"Go to hell you murdering bitch."
Kagura's last words as Kazuki ran Michael the 12th across her neck were pleas for me to forgive her… apologizing for not being strong enough to protect the both of us. Can you believe that? Me, forgive her? I want her to forgive me for what I've put her through!
That day, I watched my sister in all but name… my greatest treasure, die a horrible death. I was powerless. I was helpless. I couldn't do anything to help them…
…or help her.
Well, that's the history lesson for you. I'm sure you know, it's been two years since that incident.
The only good thing that came out of Kagura's rampage is that I've been vindicated. Thanks to Naruhodo-san's spirited defence in my name, it became public Mei was the one who'd assassinated my father, and in turn tried to kill me forcing me to… 'Act in self defence'. Heh, that fanciful story makes me chuckle whenever I think about it. And of course, since I was the sole survivor of the entire Isayama clan, wronged by evildoers and the 'rightful heir' to vast legacy, I was all set up to regain the Isayama estate.
The masses were all too willing to eat up the underdog story. And considering how many Isayamas are left, namely me, I suppose the government had to accept that as well.
I think it's already apparent how I reacted to that.
I flatly refused. I donated everything, every last coin and artifact, to the Izuna family. It's a paltry return for what they've lost in Noriyuki, but I'm sure they'll find a use for that god forsaken inheritance. Too much blood has been spilled over it for me to feel comfortable accepting even a single coin.
Besides, even if I wanted to I could never wield Shishiou and Ranguren ever again. The shock of seeing Kagura beheaded with her own sword has made my psychologically incapable of holding one myself.
After I finally managed to get back on my own two feet, I joined Fujiko-san, Nikaido-san and Kazuki-kun in rebuilding the Supernatural Disaster Countermeasures Division. I felt I owed it to them to put together some semblance of their lives after everything they had lost. Even so, the agency is but a shadow of what it used to be. We have only just fifteen staff members, and that's counting the part time filing clerk and the bookkeeper. Even worse, the massacre destroyed our standing in the eyes of the government. We only exist and remain active because we're too stubborn to shut down.
Anyway, you have probably heard of my reputation. I can tell you right now that the assessment that I'm a ticking time bomb is probably correct... In a literal sense too. I spend every waking moment hunting evil spirits or training myself to better to hunt. Even among the most hardened of exorcists, I'm considered to be obsessed. And after all that this job has cost me, why shouldn't I be?
Still, I'm hardly the strongest exorcist in Japan, especially considering that I don't have any significant supernatural abilities like most of our colleagues do. In comparison to some of our colleagues and the members of the Tokusen Four, I'm probably weak in comparison.
But I'd like to think despite my weaknesses that I'm the perfect foil against the Sesshoseki. It can't tempt me… I don't have wish anymore. How can I have a wish I don't have anything left i can hold on to? Guess that means I have no use for such it. Since I have no use for it and the mere sight of it repulses me… I think I'll go and destroy it.
That's pretty much my whole reason for existence now.
I'll keep hunting it and everything to do with it. I'll keep hunting it until I die. I'll destroy every last piece until my boundless hatred runs dry… and if I'm wrong and Mitogawa does manage to stick one of those things in me, there is always the final solution. The one where my eye should be?
…Yes, the rumors are true. I did put a bomb in my empty eye socket. It's under my eye-patch, see? I've been assured that it would blow my head off well enough I won't be able to come back. Why so surprised? I'm the one that has to be wrapped neck to feet in marionette cloth just to be able to move. Hell, I even need to speak though this Ultravoice device that makes me sound as lively as a dead horse. Makes sense for me to have a bomb in my head since I'm practically a moving corpse.
Disturbing? Yeah I guess so. If I didn't loathe myself so much, I'd be freaked out too.
You're right rookie. It's no secret that I do have a death wish. I want to die so badly, it hurts just being alive. But I can't die, not as long as this heart… my fury, my hatred, my need for vengeance, still beats in my chest. I don't know its anger at Mitogawa, at those that killed Kagura or even at myself, but it's the only thing I can hold onto. And as long as I have that I can still go on. I can still fight.
That I am.
I'm the only one crazy enough in this city to ready and to take on a 'Category A' alone with nothing more than a CZ 75b and a few hand grenades. There would have to be something seriously wrong with me if I wasn't insane by this point.
You're still innocent. I say this as a customary word of caution, advice from an old hand to a rookie. The path that is now open to you is a treacherous one. While it is true you can gain much with the Ministry of Environment's Supernatural Disasters Countermeasures Division, remember that you could also suffer a fate worse than death. If you don't think you can take it, get the hell out of this business while you still can.
Nimura Kensuke… you either become like Toru and Natsuki from those guys over at Tokusen Four, good guys with a good job in a good relationship, or you end up like me… basically a dead person who just seems to keep forgetting it's time to stop moving already... Or if you're that unlucky, you could even die, for real. Whatever path you choose, make sure it's one decision you will never regret.
Ah, Yomi… you're coming along so, so well. I'm glad I resisted the impulse to take you when I did two years ago. I almost made the mistake of giving you the Sesshoseki too early, back when you still had that once attachment that could have ruined everything.
You certainly continue to impress. You forsook the arts you had used since you early days in favor of tools so foreign to you. Even in your apparent weakened state you still rage against your enemies. You constantly push yourself beyond your limits to achieve even the most meager goals. I've lost count of the number of times you've exceeded someone's expectations, my own included.
Your tenacity and fury, the very qualities that make you so strong, are also what make you so miserable. You are feared by your enemies and allies alike. You are alone in the darkness, like a raging inferno that threatens to consume itself and everything around you. Indeed, isn't that why so many now liken you to fire? Something that you know is dangerous but you just can't look away from?
You are so beautiful…
I was right. By causing you to lose the thing you wanted the most instead of tempting you I turned you into an empty container. Free to be filled with anything I desired.
I can feel it, even when I'm watching you from so far away… Your rage, your anger, your self-loathing, your desperation… Your despair. It's so sweet, like a fine wine I cannot get enough of. The urge to go down there and imbue your with one of these stones is great, but I must show some restraint. You aren't fully matured yet. But you will be, very soon.
I can see that this boy, this 'Nimura Kensuke', might bring hope back into your life. You my outwardly deny it, but I think you subconsciously know that he is the once chance you have from dispelling the darkness that had seized your heart and bring you back into the light. That is why you draw closer to him despite the fact you know you know could burn him. Despite your scathing words, I know you're drawn to him as much as he is to you. I suppose this is what some call 'fate'.
To this I say one thing…
By my guest.
Go ahead, Isayama Yomi. Savoir that bitter illusion that is called hope, the hope of finally ending your suffering. It's funny I know, but you can only know true despair once you fully understand how precious hope is. I will let you begin to feel again, let you begin to remember what happiness and joy and what it feels like not to hate yourself… before I show you the folly of that bitter illusion. Your false hope will create once final weakness that I can will mould you into my greatest masterpiece.
When I am finished with you Yomi, it is you who will come to me. You don't believe me? Then you obviously don't know what I have in store for you. And that's fine with me, since where's the fun if I can't surprise you with all the tricks I have in store for you and your friends.
Only then, when you approach me on your own free will with no more reservations, will I know you have finally succumbed to everything you abhor. Only then will you be my perfect weapon.
And to make this ambition come to reality, I have the perfect tool to temper this blade…
Sleep well while you still can, my dear Isayama Yomi. The darkness of your dreams will soon become the only respite of the waking nightmare that will become your life.
And that's a wrap!
Welcome to the Ga-Rei Alternate Universe, where our little Ken-chan meets a battle hungry and outright suicidal Isayama Yomi, now one of the less impressive exorcists after forsaking her inheritance. They work in the Ministry of Environment's severely understaffed and underfinanced, near defunct organization… impoverished counterparts to their rather well funded and more successful sister Agency in the Ministry of Defense (who still have the very much alive and active one-shot heroes from Episode 1, who now are the exorcist equivalent of rock stars).
Obviously Kagura will resurface as an immensely powerful Ga-Rei wielding evil spirit, who has since let her Yomi obsession go to her head. Kagura would likely want to horde her Yomi onee-chan all to herself, especially after see sees what the cruel world has done to her beloved big sister. Mitogawa will be an even bigger magnificent bastard this time around, who perhaps is just heaping tragedy upon tragedy upon poor Yomi to further pursue his own ends.
Oviously Ken-chan will have his hands full.
FYI, it only occured to me after the first few drafts of this that I had unintentionally modelled Yomi's post-prequel appearance after (of all people) Darth Vader. The number of parallels all things considered is astonishing. Just a small tidbit of info.
Thanks for Reading!