A Shuffle! Fanfic
By: Super Smasher
Disclaimer: All licensed characters and their respective IP are property of Navel. Used without permission.
October 9th, 2011
The end is nigh.
This thought kept playing through my head over and over again, like a broken record. Concentrating on the walk down the bleak, stark white hallway to the interrogation rooms was the least of my concerns. My partners' expressions were blank, not deathly serious like mine. But what were they to be worried about? Sure, their worlds were about to enter a deadly and costly all-out magical war, in which there were bound to be many casualties on both sides. But their worlds weren't going to be the battlefield.
As we reached the end of the hallway, I remembered that humanity's final chance could rest upon the man behind this door.
Somebody give me some coffee.
Retrieving my keycard from its place of honor in my jacket, I quickly swiped it through the scanner located to the right of the door. There was a small click as the lock disengaged and we were permitted access. As the door swung open, the man sitting in the interrogee's chair looked up at us with his usual sheepish grin. He looked to be in his mid-twenties, with short, golden-brown hair set over similarly colored eyes, hidden behind rectangular-rimmed glasses. I dreaded every minute I spent with this man, who I liked to call the scum of the universe.
"Ah, my lovely investigators! To what do I owe this most memorable day?" He swiped his hand through his hair in an attempt to act cool. I just sighed. I'd already made it clear that we weren't going to accept any of his flirting crap, but it seems that he was going to take his chance anyway.
"Are you truly asking that?" Cynara queried, shaking her head. Her hair swung from side to side, displaying her daintily pointed ears. "If you'd just unclam and tell us what we want to know, you'd have been out of here a long time ago. Unless…" She placed a finger under his chin and raised his head, so that his eyes were looking into hers. "You're a glutton for punishment, aren't you?"
I sighed, for what seemed like the billionth time during this case. Cynara was a well-known dominatrix in our department, and she never seemed to get tired of teasing this poor man…well, I guess "poor" isn't the right word since, as evidenced by his near drooling, he was quite enjoying himself.
"Midoriba Itsuki, twenty-six years old." Pertya read from her tablet. The boy turned his head away from the smirking Cynara to gaze at the woman with the longest ears in the room. "Graduated from Verbena Academy in Koyo-cho in 2004 at the top of his class." This was her first time interrogating him, as Aster, our usual third member, was on vacation.
"Aha! Another beautiful young lady!" Itsuki's eyes gleamed. "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance!" Pertya was taken aback at this, her hands waving in a "no-no-no" gesture. Itsuki just smiled that lopsided little smile of his and hung his head, resting his forearms on his legs.
"Let's get down to business." I said, taking a seat across the table from him. Cynara sat down to my right, Pertya to my left. "I'm going to ask you the same questions I ask you every single time, Midoriba. This time, I want an answer."
"Ha." Itsuki smirked, shrugging his arms nonchalantly. "Don't be miffed. I don't answer questions you shouldn't be asking."
Pertya raised her eyebrows and looked at us. I shook my head, while Cynara just sighed. He said the same thing every time.
"Well, I won't beat around the bush. Where is Tsuchimi Rin?" I demanded.
He just rolled his eyes. "There you go again, asking questions that don't pertain to your objective."
"It has everything to do with it!" Cynara said, standing up and slamming her hands on the table simultaneously. "We know! We know that he's the only person she would be with!"
"Hmmm…you'd think that, wouldn't you?" Midoriba smirked. "Listen, I'll start giving you the right answers once you start asking the right questions."
Pertya looked thoughtful for a second, and then piped up. "So you're saying that she's alone? Wandering this world by herself?"
"I wouldn't say that." he replied, glasses glinting in the light reflected from the lamp shining on him. "After all, remember who we're talking about. She doesn't get close to people. She has to know them for a while to trust them."
All of a sudden, his facial expression soured, and his overall attitude became much became serious. This was what I'd been waiting for. Every time his demeanor changed like this, it meant he was about to say something important. "October 11th, 1993. January 17th, 1995. December 11th, 1999. December 20th, 2002. June 14th, 2003. What's so special about those dates?"
The three of us were taken aback. I glanced over to the mirror on the wall and nodded. Instantly those dates popped up on Pertya's tablet. While she was executing a search, I was racking my brain for what those dates meant. Something was awfully familiar about some of them…
"October 11th, 1993…Isn't that the day the Humans opened the gates to the worlds of the Gods and Demons?" Cynara cocked her head thoughtfully. Itsuki nodded, smirking.
"Yes, that's right. It's an important fact taught to everyone in the Human world, because it's a day our lives changed forever. For some of us, the gate openings brought love and joy. For others…" he trailed off, as if remembering something depressing.
"I remember January 17th." I said suddenly. "That was the day of the Great Hanshin Earthquake." My partners looked at me quizzically. "Over four and a half thousand people died in Kobe alone."
Itsuki smiled again. "Yes. We're told that the earthquake was caused by the subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate. But that's not the only memorable event that occurred on that day. Something else happened, something that changed the course of the world yet again. Didn't anybody stop to wonder about it?"
"Didn't the doors between the worlds close?" Pertya looked sideways at me. "If I recall correctly, they cut off the connections between the worlds until…" Her eyes widened at her own realization. "December 20th, 2002." She glanced down at her tablet, then gave us a nod of confimation, that this was one of the dates Itsuki had mentioned.
"Alright, I'm getting fed up with this runaround, Midoriba." I finally stepped in, putting a stop to these awkward speculations. "You think you can confuse us by spewing out a couple of historical dates in God-Demon-Human relations?"
"Hey, in all honesty, I'm just trying to help, Investigator. It's not my problem if you can't see the story that lies within." There he went again, with his "story that lies within." It was his favorite phrase to use when we were getting nowhere.
"Listen, you." Cynara leaned over the table and grabbed Itsuki by his shirt collar, lifting him slightly out of his chair. "I don't care at all about your little story. All we need to know is where Primula is. You tell us that, we'll let you go."
Itsuki turned a little pale. Cynara had never done this before. "I don't know where she is! But I do know who she's with!"
"So do we," I alleged, slamming my hands on the table. "She's with Tsuchimi Rin."
"How many times do I have to tell you people before you understand? You aren't seeing the whole picture!" he begged, trying to wiggle his way free of Cynara's grip, but to no avail.
"Cynara-san," Pertya pleaded. "Can I talk to him for a minute?" Cynara nodded, and released her grip, causing Itsuki to slump back down in his chair, breathing heavily. "Midoriba-kun, you keep telling us that we're missing something, an important detail. What do you know that we don't have a record of?"
"That's impossible." Cynara shook her head violently. "There's nothing we don't have a record of. There's just no way."
"Of course there's a way." Itsuki gasped, finally regaining his composure. "It's possible that with the discovery of the gates, several things went unnoticed in the clamor. Say, for instance…the scientists who opened the gates."
"The scientists?" Pertya questioned, looking at me. I just shrugged. I had no idea. She went back to her tablet and started a quick search. After a couple seconds, she spoke up again. "I found them…Takuya and Miu Shirakawa."
"You're on the trail." Itsuki nodded, becoming serious again. "So, we know who opened the gates, but what happened to them, huh? Whatever became of the Shirakawas, destined to go down in memory for all eternity by opening the gates between the worlds?" Pertya scanned the information again for a brief second.
"Shirakawa Takuya passed away…on…January 17th…1995." she gasped, looking at me with a mix of horror and amazement. "He was killed during the Great Hanshin Earthquake Disaster."
"Yes. But remember, he was only one-half of the team. Whatever happened to the other half, I wonder?" Itsuki was obviously leading us along at his own pace, which, I'd have to admit, was rather strenuous.
"Shirakawa Miu most likely continued to work on the doors…she was probably the head of the team that reopened them in 2002." Cynara, who had been quiet since she had been hushed, spoke up. "At least, that's what I'm guessing happened."
"True that. But that's not the exact name you'd find in those records…is it? After all, eight years is a long time to go without love. Love is the key to all things in this world!" Itsuki had finally reverted to his smooth-talking flirt mode. And to be honest, I'd had just about enough of this charade.
"Listen here, Midoriba. You've got us following the trail of a no-name scientist duo that have absolutely nothing to do with the location of the most powerful living weapon on the planet! Have you looked at the newspaper we bring you every day? Our worlds are on the brink of war! And this girl, this homunculus, could be the thing that saves our race from utter annihilation!"
"That's where you're wrong." Itsuki shook his head, serious once more. "They have everything to do with her. I think your beautiful lady friend has figured that out." He motioned to Pertya, who was covering her mouth as she stared down at the tablet.
"The person who was in charge of the gate reopening…was a woman. A woman by the name of…Fuyoh Miu."
Itsuki's eyes glinted. "Bingo."
"What bingo?" Cynara asked. "So she got remarried. What's the big deal?"
"It was Fuyoh Mikio," Pertya whispered, her voice small and unbelieving. "The legal guardian of Tsuchimi Rin."
The room was suddenly silent. There wasn't even a peep from the other side of the mirror.
((A/N: For added dramatic effect, please visit YouTube and look up "Mirage Lullaby", then play it while reading.))
"I guess it's about time I told you the story." Itsuki murmured, standing up from his chair and heading over to the mirror, looking straight at his own reflection. "And you'd better be taking notes, because this is a story about truth, and about ideals. It's a story of love and hope, and a story of will and wishes. It's going to be unbelievable at first." He turned towards us.
"This is the real story of Tsuchimi Rin and the man hidden in his shadow."
Well, that's the first chapter down! They say the first one is always the hardest, so it should be all downhill from here!
I'd like to take this time to point out one thing: This is a RETELLING. That means that for a good portion of the story, many lines will be reused from the game and anime. So if you've only experienced one or the other, this will be a great story for you. If you've experienced both, expect a lot of things you've seen before. Just gonna say that right now, so any negative comments concerning this will be regarded as flames of ignorance.
I'd also like to thank my three awesome Beta Readers who put up with the brain mush that is the first chapter. They are the amazing trio of Karsten69, who made me realize it was a good idea to keep the direct to Mirage Lullaby in, when it was just meant as a bit of a joke in the beta stage, IzzyLawliet69, who really helped keep the flow of the story alive and well, and was overall super excited about the story itself, and hopelina, the Goddess of Grammar, who fixed every single mistake that I had no idea I was making. Thanks, guys!
Reads are great, Reviews are better, check out my other stories if you like! I'll be seeing you again real soon!