The pleasant smell of caffeine that sparks Haruhiko Takase every morning woke him from his not so peaceful slumber. As he dusted away the sleepy dust from his eyes, he heard the voice of his loving mother calling out to him from downstairs. “Haru! Are you up already? It’s almost time for school. If you don’t get up now, you’ll be late!” she says in a stern, calm voice.
“Yeah, I’m up ma! I will be down in a sec.”
As he lay on his bed, scenes from the nightmare he had last night played inside his mind. Scenes from that night. The night he lost his best friend. It’s been almost exactly five years ago since then. If only he had not told her about his secret mission, then she would of still been alive today…
“Haru! if you don’t come down this instant i will throw your coffee down the drain.”
“No, don’t! I’m coming, I’m coming.” ‘sheesh that woman. She knows how much I love coffee.’ Is what he said going down the stairs.
“Huh? You say something?” His mother Cherami narrowed her eyes and gave him a little stare.
While Cheri (Haru's mother) was preparing breakfast, Haruhiko scanned through some channels on the TV, taking sips of coffee. He ended up watching the news.
‘You know, I don’t think having the Manjushage around is a bad idea.’
‘I get what you saying, but they are still breaking the law. Enforcing justice is what the police are being paid to do.’
‘they doing a sucky job if you ask me.’
‘even so vigilantism is a crime. Calling these people heroes has a negative impact on the children of our city.’
The two reporters went on debating on the issue.
“Someone Oder a Takase special breakfast?.”
“oh, wow! Ma, you really outdid yourself this time.”
“well of course i did. Who do you think I am?”
That was her reply. She also gave him a little flick on the head as she made her way back to the kitchen.
“Oh, Haru dear?”
He replied with a mouthful of food.
“Hey, don’t talk with food in your mouth…and eat a bit slower would you.” Cherami sighed before continuing to speak.
“I want you to deliver that parcel on the table to Chiyoko for me.”
“Oh, yeah, sure.” Haru replied as he was scraping the last bit of food into his mouth.
Chiyoko is one of Cherami’s best friends. And chiyoko's son (Taichi) is one of Haru's best friends. It’s the same with Cheriami's other best friend’s son, Yousuke. They have been close for as long as they can remember.
Oh, and make sure to throw your uncles cigarette ashes out once you done. ok?" She gave him another stare, this time with her right hand placed on her hip.
Lazily Haru put his school uniform on. As he did. He thought about the conversation he had with his uncle last night. This conversation is most probably the reason why memories of that night five years ago came flooding back to him.
THE PREVIOUS NIGHT
After browsing through his social media feeds on his smartphone. His eye lids could barely stay open, He yawned a long yawn just as the digital clock on his nightstand read 02:55am. He changed into his night wear and dove straight into bed, not even brushing his teeth before bed.
I'll brush them when i wake up. He said to himself before closing his eyes.
“Back to school tomorrow huh.” Haru said this a loud laying in bed, getting ready to fall into a peaceful slumber. But then…
The smell of cigarettes snuck in through his open window.
“Haru, are you awake?”
the voice of a man on the balcony reverberated through his ears.
“Uncle Kazuto, is that you?”
“Yeah, come on out for a smoke. I got some intel you need to hear.”
By the sound of his voice, whatever he is about to tell him should be serious. Haru hopped out of bed and walked over to his mini fridge next to the computer desk, He grabbed a can of maxxed coffee and He then went over and opened the sliding door. And there he was, his uncle relaxing against the balcony with his back facing the city lights.
“Hey there, little nephew, long time no see.” A piece of burning ash fell from the cigarette, swept away by the breeze It's color changed from bright orange to white.
“hey, uncle Kazuto. did your mission end in success?”
“I guess you could say that…”
Before Kazuto laid out the details of his mission, he took a puff on his cigarette.
“We did not get any information about where Minato Bushida is now. it’s like the damn bastard vanished from the planet...”
Minato Bushida. a name that should not be spoken of lightly. This man is considered the most dangerous person in the Kagawa prefecture. And he is also the leader of a notorious gang that started spreading out to other Prefectures in the country. He is also on Japan’s most wanted list. He has a huge bounty on his head.
“… but we did however get some very interesting intel on two people we should be wary of.”
“Oh, really. This should be interesting.” Haru said as he took a gulp from his coffee.
“First off, we have received word that lady Kaguya will be released from prison next month.”
“That’s impossible! She should be in prison for another ten years.” the shock and disbelief showed on Haru’s face.
“It’s quite possible, actually. We don’t know how, but there is a good chance she will be released.”
Haru clenched his left fist tightly, as he thought of the person his uncle just mention.
Kaguya Bushida. Wife of Minato Bushida. just thinking about these two people makes him want to punch a wall. You see, these two hurt a few of people close to Haru. And because of them one of those people is... she was a dear friend of Haruhiko. ‘and it’s all my…' Haru was about to say something but Kazuto spoke despite of that.
“So you ready to hear the name of the next person?”
“Oh, yeah. sure."
“You see, we also received intel that a certain somebody will be transferring back to Takarametsu.”
Haru thought about it for a second but could not come up with a name. As if realizing this, uncle Kazuto told him the name.
“Lieutenant colonel Ken Kobayashi.”
When Haru heard this name, It's as if he saw a ghost. in the moment he dropped the can of coffee. It rolled off the balcony where it spilt the rest of it's contents.
“No, that can’t be true. I... I thought he retired.”
“Well It seems the famous Colonel has decided fight crime again. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. We believe he got some leads on who killed your friend that night. Since you were involved in that incident. I want you to lay low for a while. If he catches on to you, it won’t be long till he finds out that you are part of the Manjushage.”
“Yeah, I understand.” Haru did not argue and accepted. Kazuto is the Grandmaster of the Manjushage after all. Haru is just a Major.
“I already informed your mother. I guess that’s about it for now. We will have a meeting with your squad in the clubroom tomorrow after school. Don’t be late.”
“Yeah roger that.”
"Oh and one last thing..."
"Yeah, what is it?"
"...Don't let what i just told you rile you up. Take it easy."
"Yeah, whatever you say General Takase."
"Thata boy! Now go get some rest kiddo."
with that, uncle Kazuto jumped off the balcony and vanished into the darkness.
Haru closed the sliding door and took in the city's view. Then, noticing his reflection in the glass, he banged his head against the glass twice. If it were not for me,(He clenhed his fists.) Kohaku would still be alive right now.
On his way to school, he couldn’t stop himself from thinking about what happened five years ago. The night of his secret mission. You see, Haru belongs to a vigilante group called the Manjushage. They fight crime during the dark hours. Without a doubt, many of the criminals around Takarametsu despise them and without a doubt they have made a lot of enemies. The biggest enemy they have is the most dangerous gang in the Kagawa prefecture. They are not like any normal gang you used to they involved with almost everything. In fact, a lot of the smaller criminal groups work for this gang. They do a job for them and get a payed.
I remember that night so clearly, the blood spilling, the sounds of her screams. and all i did was watch, i'm pathetic! It should of been me who died that night!
Haru stopped walking when he reached the halfway point of the bridge. The railing he was looking at had cuts and dents in it. Haru knew the reason for these being here.
‘I wonder what that nicotine-addicted uncle of mine wants to discuss with me now. I’m supposed to be having a meeting with my squad.’
“You may enter”
As he entered, he saw Colonel Ichika, Grandmaster Takase’s personal bodyguard. She stood beside him.
“Hey, now what’s with the serious expression on your face? First lieutenant Takase.”
“You sure as hell know why. Why did you call me here?”
(SPLAT!!) “HEY! THAT IS NO WAY TO SPEAK TO A SUPERIOR OFFICER, AND TO THE GRANDMASTER OF ALL PEOPLE. KNOW YOUR PLACE! RELATED TO HIM BY BLOOD OR NOT YOU SPEAK TO HIM WITH RESPECT!!!”
“Now, now, Colonel Ichika. We are behind closed doors, and it’s understandable why he is upset.”
Colonel Ichika just clicked her tongue and looked away.
“Now then, first lieutenant Takase. I called you because of something really important.”
“Well, if that is the case, then leave a note more serious looking, not with colorful emojis and rainbows.”
colonel Ichika slapped her head and let out a sigh when she heard what He said.
“ok, ok, sheesh…”
“...Now then, let’s get down to it. There is a mission i need you to do.”
“Is that so? Then where is Major Karuizawa? you usually team the two of us together when there is a serious mission you need taken care of…”
“This is a mission I need you to take care of alone. Major Karuizawa will take over your squad.”
“I don’t like it when someone has to take over my squad, but if it is her, then I don’t mind, really.”
“Now then, as for your mission, First Lieutenant. The spy we sent in to infiltrate the basilisks of purgatory notified that they have gathered more than enough evidence about the leader of the group, and are ready for extraction.”
“YOU SENT A SPY IN!!!” Hearing this infuriated Haru.
“Calm down, First Lieutenant. let the general explain.” Colonel ichika stepped in
“To hell with that Colonel. What if they find out?”
“Colonel please excuse us.” Said Grandmaster Takase
Colonel Ichika reluctantly exited the room.
“Haru, I know what…”
“Sorry for being so rude, Grandmaster. It’s just the thought of what they would do to this person if they found out about them… I have seen the violent ways they go about their executions. especially of people who are either part or affiliated with Manjushage."
“The reason you finding out about this now is because I feared that you might secretly take upon that task yourself.”
“I think that might have been the case if i did.”
“Now then, as for your mission, Haru. You are to meet with the spy at this location and bring her back to headquarters.”
“Are you sure this is something I should do alone?”
“Having a group might look suspicious…”
“If you run into trouble, notify my me immediately. I will have your squad dispatched to your location.”
Haru saluted the Grandmaster and took off.
After the meeting with the general, he headed home. It felt as if he was being followed on his way home earlier. He had a good idea of who it might be, but their presence disappeared when he passed the convenience store.
He was busy getting everything ready for the mission later tonight. Took out his special black hoodie and Katana out from his secret closet. then…
The sound of his phone vibrating stopped him from what he was doing. When he checked who the caller is, the caller id read (Yousuke) so he answered.
(Hey Yousuke, what’s up?)
(So you taking on a solo mission?)
(Yeah, sorry but i can’t go into detail about it.)
(That’s fine. The rest of the team and I just wanted to make sure…)
(So what about the job you guys are doing tonight? Will it be difficult?)
(nah should be a piece of cake. we got major karuizawa with us so no problems on our end)
(That's good to hear.)
(Hey yousuke! gimme! gimme! gimme!)
(Ah, looks like taichi wants to talk with you.)
(Fine, hand him the phone.)
(Solo tonight huh? Is that the truth or is it just an excuse to hang out with a hot chick?)
(It's not what you think? kukuku)
(Yeah Major Karuizawa is totally missing you right now. She keeps saying things like i wonder if Haru is doing alright and stuff like that.)
(Ok, I am gonna hang up now. Good luck.)
(Yeah, good luck to you too.)
After the call, he fell down on his bed, facedown.
As he laid on the bed, he heard the sound of the sliding door open. Then heard footsteps inching closer and closer to the bed slowly and with a thrust the person jumped up into the air and landed on his back and shouted “gotcha” with slightly uncontrollable giggling.
“Kohaku, you know you should not be here.”
“I know that. But it’s been so long since I last saw you, I just had to come see you.”
This is Kohaku, Haru's close friend. They have been friends for a short while, but they get along so well it feels as if they have been friends for ages.
“So, when did you return from vacation?”
“About two hours ago. Did you miss me?”
She asked with a little giggle
“Yeah, I guess so”
“Whadya mean you guess!? Just admit that you spent everyday I was gone thinking about me.” She threw her hair back as she said this.
“Yeah, you got the wrong guy. Jotaro missed you so much. I mean, you are his girlfriend, after all.”
Jotaro is Haru's cousin, they grew up together. And he is also a member of the vigilante group.
“Hmph, I could not care less about that jerk.”
“What did you two get into an argument again?”
“Enough about that lame brain. I brought snacks.”
“Oh sorry Kohaku, I can’t right now. I got something to take care of.”
“Whaaaat!? But I just returned from a weeklong vacation.”
She pouted so cutely Haru could not help but head pat her.
“You know, head patting me will not help.” and she pouted again.
She says that, but she seems to be enjoying it.
“Just stay here till I get back, OK? Then we can chat all night long. Ok?”
“Yeah, ok I guess that is fine.”
“So by business, do you mean crime fighting business?”
"So then you going to meet up with the others right now?”
“No, I am going on a solo mission.”
“A solo mission? So it must be something serious then. Will you be ok on your own? You know I can always…”
“No, Kohaku! You know you can’t. You are not part of the vigilante group and your dad is a high-ranking police officer who wants my whole family locked up in prison, he is determined to rid this city of crime. Especially the Basilisks of purgatory and the Manjushage. It’s too risky. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Yeah sorry Haru.”
She covered her head with a pillow, and just laid there. twiddling with a few strands of her coffee brown hair.
“Ok, I will be back in a bit. See you later.”
TO BE CONTINUED...