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 Private Challenge: When the Air is Still

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ARCtheElite
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PostSubject: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Sun Jul 05, 2009 5:29 am

Hm...I just realized I haven't posted it here. Anyway, full link is: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5167607/1/When_the_Air_is_Still

Title: When the Air is Still

Main Characters: Whomever you want. Must use all 01 and 02 characters. Some Tamers and Frontier are allowed, but not as mains.

Genre: Suspense/Drama

Pairings: None of the following - Koumi, Jyoumi, Jyoura, Daikari. No yaoi or yuri.

Abstract: No one said that it was a good idea to spend the night in a cemetery. Even worse, this place was supposedly haunted. Or at least that’s what the girls told the guys to get them to agree to this. But when it comes time to go to sleep… some disappears. And steadily they all do. But if it’s not really haunted… who’s the killer?

Quotes to use: “This was the dumbest thing your brilliant mind has ever come up with.”

“What are you gonna kill me? Ha, I’d like to see you try.”

“Told you so.”

And without further ado, here goes nothing!


Chapter 1: Prelude to Disaster: Sacrilege


Excerpted from the journal of Ken Ichijouji:

Thursday August 19, 2004 11:33pm

To this day (even though it’s only been three days) I am not entirely sure how the girls managed to pull it off. While I can be relatively certain that Miyako had a great part in this, I have learned not to underestimate the mental prowess of Hikari, Sora, and especially not Mimi. I swear, they hide behind their smiles and puppy-dog eyes, but at heart, they are a scheming and calculating lot. They are possibly – no, probably – more calculating and more manipulative than I ever was or could ever hope to be

I digress – as I mentioned earlier, this came about three days ago, when Taichi, Daisuke, Takeru, and I were cornered by the four girls. Hm… that’s another thing that has boggled my mind: how did four girls, whose only real exercise consists of unending shopping sprees (Sora being a notable exception) – manage to corner four athletic, physically fit guys?

Anyway. They came up to us, and you could feel their evil intent from a mile away. As they neared, the leers on their faces became visible. I don’t quite remember what my reaction was, but Taichi and Takeru immediately drew away, jaws dropping to the ground. Daisuke was a little smarter; he ran and hid behind Taichi. Upon arriving, Hikari wrapped her arms around Taichi and Daisuke`s shoulders and smiled deviously. Taichi tried backing away, but Mimi effectively blocked his only remaining escape route. Between Sora and Miyako, Takeru and I soon became trapped as well.

If, somehow, one managed to miss the leers and the utterly evil aura surrounding them, then the first words rolling off their tongues should be warning enough. Miyako’s silky “Ken-kun” did nothing to alleviate my fears; in fact, it only served to strengthen my suspicions. Something was not right.

The rest of the conversation – if it could be called that – passed by mostly in a blur. Apparently the girls wanted to go to spend a night at the Rukon cemetery – the cemetery of Wandering Spirits. At first, the four guys (myself included) vehemently denied their requests, going as far as to call them an idiot orinsane for even proposing such a foolhardy and pointless adventure. Even Taichi and Daisuke, long accepted as the most daring and reckless of us argued loud and long with the girls.

Eventually, however, the girls won out. How exactly it was possible, I’m still not sure (as I’ve mentioned). One moment the four of us were attempting to dissuade our friends, then Mimi and Hikari (whose arms were still slung over Taichi and Daisuke) casually let it slip that the Rukon was supposedly haunted by the spirit of a sealed Taiyokai, or greater daemon. Within an instant all semblance of common sense dropped from Taichi, Daisuke, and even Takeru and they readily agree to this excursion. I remember smacking my head at this moment in sheer frustration and disbelief at their idiocy. Faced against a united front of grinning faces and shining eyes, however, I am forced to capitulate to their decision.

As I sit here now, writing my thoughts, I cannot help but shudder at the slim possibility that we might not all make it out alive. Not that I am superstitious, far from that. But I fear – for it is an insult to disturb the graves of the dead – that some calamity may befall us, may it be a vengeful relative, or perhaps a freak accident. Or, if one listened to the old tales carefully enough, the sealed spirit of the Taiyokai hungers for the feast of mortal souls and thirsts for the scent of their blood…



Ken Ichijouji put down his pen, sighing and rubbing his eyes. He had not had the chance to talk to any of his friends since that day. They had decided to meet Friday night at the Rukon cemetery, just outside of Tokyo, under the guise of a camping trip. Ken frowned. He could dimly hear his mother humming to herself, as she made sure he brought everything needed for a camping trip. Knowing her, everything consisted of five pairs of underwear (even though he’s only going for the weekend), flashlights (two, in case one died), a couple knives, rope, and other ridiculous things Ken didn’t even want to think about. He sighed. Mothers…



Friday August 20, 2004 6:17pm

I have decided to keep a record of our stay here, if only out of sheer boredom. Well, I suppose boredom isn’t the right word. It is not that I am bored here; rather, I am fascinated about what will happen in this place tonight – and this entire weekend, I suppose. It’s not everyday one has the opportunity to spend the night in a graveyard, and (despite my earlier misgivings) I have found myself rather drawn by curiosity.

I begin:

Covering 9 hectares of grassland, Rukon cemetery is a large, but mostly abandoned cemetery approximately 60 kilometres to the southwest of suburban Toyko. Which means that this place is pretty much cut off from civilization by at least half an hour’s drive. The last body was interred here well over a century ago, just after the Meiji Restoration. I am not totally sure of the details pertaining to this matter, but what is evident is that the cemetery closed down. While some relatives of the deceased buried here exhumed the bodies and moved them to newer cemeteries, many of the bodies here remained. Caretakers ceased to mow the grass, or trim the bushes, and one would expect that nature would reclaim this place as its own. However, it never did. Some attribute it to the reckless and ignorant use of primitive herbicides, but even after a century, only thorns and weeds have made their claim to this deserted field.

Concerning the legend of the Taiyokai who supposedly lies imprisoned beneath this place: my research had largely turned out to be fruitless, but I was able to procure one obscure document dating from the 12th century. This daemon, which went by the name of Benihime (Crimson Princess), was supposedly the damned spirit of an unrepentant mass murderess. She was finally captured after a 6-year reign of blood by a specially formed task force of Daimyo samurai and hired ninja. She was apparently brought to this place and executed by being torn apart by five horses – a fitting end, I must say, for one as bloody as her. Her body (or what was left of it) was left in this field to rot, while her soul was dragged down to Hell for her crimes. The legend doesn’t go into much detail after this, but I was able to glean that she somehow managed to strike a deal with the King of Hell, and returned to this earth as the greater daemon she now is.

A fanciful tale if you ask me, but – if I may use Daisuke’s words here – pure bullshit.



“Ken!” shouted Miyako from across the field. “Help me with this!”

Ken looked up, dropping his pen. Miyako was dragging out… was that a barbeque? Ken ran over. “Now we’re going to roast chicken and sausages in the presence of the dead too?” he asked, half-annoyed that his friends had such disrespect for ancestors, and half-amused at their antics.

Miyako grinned. “Why not? It’ll be fun!”

Ken sighed. As he helped Miyako with the grill, Ken looked around. Taichi, Sora, Daisuke and Koushiro were playing a game of soccer, using two pairs of headstones as goals. As Ken watched, horrified, the ball sailed through the air and landed in a shrine. Several loud crashes could be heard from within, and Ken winced.

“Whoops,” Taichi said. Koushiro ran in to get the ball and came out with several fragments of a copper statue.

“I think we destroyed someone’s grandfather,” he reported. At this, the other members of the soccer game burst into laughter, rolling on the ground. Ken sighed again. Camping out here was borderline disrespectful. This… this was outright sacrilege. He would be surprised if Benihime didn’t come after them that night.

Hikari and some friends she brought along – equally demented friends, Ken thought – were playing a cross between hide-and-seek and tag, running and laughing, ducking under headstones and tripping over grave markers. A blonde-haired girl – Zoe, Ken remembered – and a little kid with a goofy looking hat – Tommy – were “it”. As Ken watched, Tommy bounded over a rotting grave and tagged Yamato, who sank into a bed of moss. The blond regained his footing and began to chase after Hikari and Takeru.

“Ken?” Miyako’s voice broke into his thoughts.

“Hm?” Ken blinked.

“You were kinda spacing out there for a minute.”

Ken shook his head. “I’m fine. Where is the barbeque going?”

Miyako pointed to a headstone. “How about right beside it?”

Ken nodded, and together, they set the grill beside the remains of a random “Ataski”. Miyako giggled. “Looks like Ataski here will get a whiff of all the wonderful things we cook tonight.” Ken merely nodded, and went of to sit with Jyou and Iori – possibly known as the “party-pooper corner”. The two nodded a greeting as he drew up beside them.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” Ken said. Jyou nodded in agreement.

“My grandfather told me about this place,” Iori whispered. “People have gone in at night… never to come out again. Some say it’s the work of Benihime, others say that the very atmosphere robs a person of his will to live. Whatever it is, something’s going to happen tonight… and all they can do is defile this hallowed ground.”

“They’re still our friends,” reminded Jyou. “Though this is perhaps the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. Even Taichi could never come up with something like this.”



“…And then,” continued Yamato, his face twisting into a horrid sneer, “the dead man rose out of the grave and snapped the Nari’s neck and dragged her down with him!”

Zoe and Tommy screamed. Kouji, who sat a little ways from them, stuffed his hands in his pockets and turned his face to the sky. Taichi, Jyou, and Koushiro were locked in a group hug, holding on to each other for emotional support. Mimi and Sora were likewise entangled in each other.

“I-I-I think that’s enough for tonight-t-t,” stammered Taichi. “M-maybe we should j-j-j-just go to b-bed.”

With no vehement objections, the group agreed to turn in for the night. They wandered into their tents – four of them – and promptly curled up in their sleeping bags. Soon, only snoring and nightmares filled the room. Ken himself, heart pounding, soon fell asleep, lulled by the warm summer air. His eyes closed…

…And opened. It was still dark, Ken could tell. But Ken could tell that something was amiss. Feeling wetness in his fingers, he raised them to his eyes. Blood. Fresh blood. Checking quickly to make sure it wasn’t him, he turned to whoever lay beside him. A truly gruesome sight met Ken’s eyes.

Tommy’s eyes were open, but stared blankly at the roof of the tent. In the dim light provided by the stars above, Ken could make out an expression of pure terror etched on the boy’s features. Looking down, he saw a gaping hole in Tommy’s chest. Blood ran in a steady trickle, dying the uncovered sleeping bag, the tent floor, and part of Ken’s pyjamas. Ken gasped. His heart had been removed, he realized. His senses overloading, Ken did the only thing he could. He screamed.
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Sun Jul 05, 2009 5:30 am

Chapter 2: The Vanguard

Tommy was dead. The youngest member of their group lay inside a tent, wrapped in Taichi’s favourite blanket. The rest of the group sat huddled around a campfire outside, but heat from the fire could not overcome the cold feeling of dread, nor could its light chase away the darkness.

Tommy was dead. His heart had been ripped completely from his body, leaving nothing but a bloody hole. Numb from shock, Ken pulled his knees closer to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. Why? He asked. Why is this happening?




“Takato, I’m scared!” whimpered a small girl as she ran alongside a boy her age. Her arms and legs were scratched and bleeding from thorns digging into her bare skin. Her green dress was ripped in several places, but neither she nor the boy beside her noticed.

The boy – Takato – didn’t fare much better. His clothes were torn as well, revealing the work of several thorn bushes. Both of them panted as they ran through the forest of gnarled trees and thorns. Takato forced himself to smile as he looked at the girl. Inside, though, he was just as terrified as her.

“It’s going to be ok, Juri,” he reassured her. “We’ll just keep running and we’ll be out of here in no time. Pulling Juri close to him, Takato led her onwards.




At length, Taichi stood up. “We should find out what’s going on,” he said.

“Are you insane?” argued Yamato. “We don’t even know who is behind this.”

“Which is exactly why we need to find out! We can’t just stay here, jumping at every shadow.”

“We need to stay here.” Yamato stood up, face-to-face with Taichi. “The killer could be anywhere. If we leave the campfire, there’s no telling what could happen!”

“The killer could come at us even if we’re here!” Taichi responded.

“Going out there is suicide!” Yamato shouted. “Grow a brain, idiot!”

The group quickly descended into squabbling. Hikari, Daisuke, Sora and Miyako joined Taichi’s side, while Takeru, Mimi, Jyou, Izumi, and Junpei joined Yamato’s. As the argument escalated, Ken found himself once again joining Iori in the corner. Koushiro also came over and squatted between the two.

“Staying out again?” he asked wryly.

“I don’t know which side to take,” Ken confessed. “On one hand, we should stay within the safety of the campfire, with all of us together. However, we can’t just stay like this without knowing who the killer is.” Iori nodded at that.

“I know what you mean,” Koushiro said. “Both of their arguments make sense. I just don’t know which one to follow.”

Ken looked at the ground, studying the intricate patterns exposed tree roots made. “I’m scared, though” he admitted, half to himself. “If we stay, we can get killed. If we go and investigate, we can get killed. I used to pride myself on disbelieving superstitions, but now, I’m not so sure. What if we really angered Benihime, Koushiro?”

Silence.

“Koushiro?” Ken looked up to meet Koushiro’s lifeless eyes. The computer genius was propped up against a gnarled tree. Ken was somewhat relieved to see that Koushiro’s heart hadn’t left his body, but when his eyes strayed further down, his own heart stopped. This time, the killer had seen fit to extract the boy’s intestines. Ken screamed again, a high-pitched wail of unadulterated fear.




Saturday, August 21, 2004 2:09am

Two. Two dead. I do not know how I can still bring myself to write, but somehow, I feel that my shaking hands must record everything that has transpired. My breathing is raspy and my skin pale and clammy as I write this.

I do not know how this came to happen, either. Within an hour, two of our friends have been brutally murdered. Perhaps we did arouse the vengeance of Benihime; I do not know. All I know is that my friends saw their deaths coming. Their faces were etched with fear; their death was not a sudden act. How it is possible to kill so silently, yet so deliberately, I do not know. And how Koushiro was murdered without my noticing, I know not either.


I do not know, I do not know! It seems as if that is all I can say now! I hate myself for it, but I have no answers to give my friends, or even myself. I hate myself for allowing two of my friends to die, even though I was so close to them. I should have been paying more attention!

In the end, the argument became so fierce neither side would back down. Taichi decided to go and investigate. Daisuke, Hikari, and Sora joined him. And I as well, for I feel that I must atone for my carelessness by acting as the vanguard for our friends.

Tommy, Koushiro. I am truly sorry. I pray that your souls will find peace, despite your gruesome deaths. Please forgive me, friends.




“TAKATO!” Juri screamed. Her dirt-stained face ran with tears, mixing with blood – both hers and Takato’s. She turned when Takato stumbled and fell, his arms leaving its protective hold on her.

“Run…Juri…run…” Takato croaked. The boy lay facedown on the damp ground, drowning in his own blood. His legs had been cut off at the knees, leaving a bloody stump.

Juri shut her eyes. She couldn’t do this. “I’m sorry, Takato,” she whispered, and then fled into the forest.

Takato sighed, watching his long-time friend disappear into the trees. He knew he would not last much longer, but strangely, he felt a certain peace come over him. Juri was safe, and for now, that was all that mattered. He felt his body being lifted up, but he did not struggle. Instead, he stared Death full in the face, and gave a wide, beaming smile. Then a blade swung, the final stroke delivered, and Takato Matsuda knew no more.




“Do you hear that?” Sora asked. The five members of the vanguard were huddled together fearfully, attempting to draw strength from numbers.

“Sounded like a scream,” Taichi answered.

“It’s coming closer!” Hikari said, alarmed. The girl tightened her grip on the branch in her hands, and Ken found himself doing the same.

Taichi held his knife up. “Pounce it as soon as it emerges,” he ordered. “Don’t let it do anything!” Everyone nodded.

“NOW!” he roared.

As one, the vanguard rose and pinned the shape down. With a roar, Taichi held the knife up, poised to strike. The steel glinted in the moonlight.

“Taichi stop!” shouted Sora. “It’s a girl!”

What? Thought Ken.

Bloodlust clearing, Ken also looked. A girl, no older than 12, lay pinned down by the various members of his team. Her face was scratched and dirty, and she was sobbing uncontrollably. Her green dress was likewise torn and mud-caked. Upon seeing Sora releasing her hold on the girl, Ken and the others let go of her as well.

The girl got up rather shakily. Her legs unwilling to support her, she stayed on her knees. “I-I-I’m J-j-j-juri,” she stuttered.

“What are you doing here,” Taichi asked rather bluntly. He had never been one to meander around pleasantries and the like.

“M-my friend and I were dared to spend a night in the forest beside the cemetery. I was against coming here, but T-t-t…” At this, Juri burst into tears once more. Sora and Hikari went to comfort her, while Miyako, Taichi, and Ken shared a puzzled look. Had this “T” person fallen victim to the killer as well?

“I’ll go,” Ken announced.

“What, you mean you’ll go look for Juri’s friend?” Taichi challenged.

Ken nodded an affirmative. “The rest of you stay here with Juri. I’ll go take a quick look; if I don’t come back in ten minutes, leave without me.”

Taichi shook his head. “You can’t go off by yourself. You could end up like…” Taichi couldn’t continue as images of Koushiro forced their way into Taichi’s mind. Koushiro had been one of Taichi’s longest friends, next to Sora.

Sora stood up. “I’ll go with him,” the fiery-haired girl said. Even in the darkness, Taichi could see that Sora wouldn’t take no for an answer. The fire in her eyes burned brighter than the sun ever could. He nodded. “Be back in ten,” he simply said, turning away.




Saturday, August 21, 2004 3:33am

Takato Matsuda. That was all I was able to glean from the student ID card I found in his pocket. Or rather, what was left of his pocket. Sora and I found a headless and legless corpse lying facedown – I think it was facedown; it would have been better if there had been a face to confirm it. It had been hard to confirm exactly what position we found him in, since quite a bit of his clothes and flesh had been chewed away by maggots. They fled rather quickly when Sora and I approached. I assume the flashlights scared them off, but I find it rather curious that they would flee. Normally insects would not abandon their meal so rapidly.

In any event, apart from discerning his identity – the maggots had largely ignored the plastic square – we could not find much. Sora, holding back bile, reached forward and cut a finger off the boy’s hand – the only finger not already claimed by the scavengers – as proof of his death. Sometimes, I envy her spirit; even amidst the suffering and horror, she still manages to think rationally.

In any case, we cremated Takato’s body with Sora’s cigarette lighter to deny the worms his carcass. We would both have liked to take him back to his family for a proper funeral with proper rites, but Sora and I settled for a quick prayer over the boy’s death.

We need to get out of here before anyone else falls prey to this murderer. I can only hope that we make it out alive.




”You did tell them to leave if we didn’t return in ten minutes,” Sora remarked. They had arrived back at their rendezvous approximately 20 minutes after they had left, having taken the time to give Takato’s body due rest. It had been completely deserted. Not that Ken expected them to stay for so long, but he had hoped that they would wait for him.

Ken checked his watch. 3:39am. “Let’s go back to the camp,” he told Sora. “We can wait for Taichi’s team there.

Sora nodded. “Which way was the camp again? These massive gravestones and thorny bushes really make it hard to see anything.”

Ken looked around. “I think we came through those two headstones there, and then we turn right and it should be it.”

Sora nodded again, and the two began walking in silence. Ken kept his branch up, ready to ward off any threats – though a meagre tree branch could hardly be called protection against a killer like the one they had on the loose. He hung close to Sora, praying that she would not die on his watch. He would never forgive himself if that happened.

“Ken,” Sora suddenly whispered. “Where’s the campfire?”

Ken stopped and looked. Without realizing it, they had arrived back at the campsite. Miraculously, even. But something was not right. The camp was shrouded in darkness, illuminated only by the light of heavenly bodies. The branches that fuelled the fire lay in a smoking heap. The tents, Ken saw, were untouched. Did they all go back to sleep, without leaving someone on guard? Ken scanned the area, and saw nothing further amiss.

“We’ll stay together,” Ken said. “We’ll move around the perimeter of the camp, and if we see nothing, we’ll take a look inside.” Though inside, Ken was dreading what he might see.

Sora bit her lip, but nodded. They needed to know what’s happening. They were out of cell phone or Internet range; they were on their own. No police officer would come to their aid. Keeping close, Sora and Ken moved around the edge of their camp. They had not gone around the headstones when Sora gasped, and Ken followed her quivering gaze to a shrine.

Izumi Orimoto hung inside. Not hung by the neck; no, the killer was much more imaginative. She had been crucified to the wall of the shrine. Spikes held her wrists and ankles in place, and a long metal shaft pierced her side. Ignoring his screaming mind, Ken inched closer, and his mouth fell open at what he saw. The killer had seen fit to weave together a crown of thorns, and had pushed it onto her head, replacing the violet cap she usually wore. Her golden hair was stained with bloody highlights, and more streaks of blood ran down where the thorns had pierced her skin. Where her clothes had been torn, Ken could see deep cuts on her body. Ken had no doubt that if he could see her back, it would have been flayed open. A near-perfect reconstruction of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ…except without the cross, he thought. Who are we dealing with here?

“Junpei’s here too,” whispered Sora, pointing at a corner. Ken could make out Junpei in the darkness, but couldn’t see any details. Not that he wanted to see what the sadistic murderer did this time.

“Let’s take Izumi down,” Ken said. “We’ll leave her and Junpei in here.” It would appear as if my mind had already shut down my reaction to death. I’m not longer shocked beyond rational thought anymore.

Struggling with the iron spikes stuck in the wall, Ken and Sora managed to take Izumi’s body down. As Ken suspected, Izumi had either been brutally flogged, or the killer had simply slashed her back to emulate the cuts. They lay her in the corner beside Junpei. Ken screwed his eyes shut at this point. He did not want to see what happened to Junpei. Sora gently pried the crown of thorns of Izumi’s head, and removed the spike lanced through her side. Sora’s eyes were dull as she did it; Ken assumed that she had become resistant to the bloody scenes as well. Ken grimaced. They had become emotionless – monsters even – within the short space of a few hours.

“Let’s go,” whispered Sora. She had murmured the prayer for the dead for Izumi and Junpei, but she now rose to join Ken. “We should find the others and see if they’re still alive.”

Ken nodded, and together, they walked outside…

…Only to be met with an enraged roar. Before Ken could blink, the killer was upon him. Ken, determined to save a life, pushed Sora away and met the killer. The killer raised his weapon, and Ken knew he wasn’t fast enough to block or dodge. Fear quickly overcame Ken’s features, and the last thing he heard was Sora screaming…

Then his world went black.
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Sun Jul 05, 2009 5:31 am

Chapter 3: Work of the Crimson Princess

Grey. The colour of the underworld was grey. At least, Ken assumed he was in the underworld, for he clearly remembered meeting the killer. He looked around, trying to see if there was anything interesting in the landscape.

As he had expected, there was nothing to catch his attention. The bleak world presented only a few hills dotting the horizon. There was no sign of life. Not even the moon or stars shone through the gloomy, heavy clouds – assuming the moon and stars existed at all. The clouds threatened rain, but the rain never came. Nothing to cool his body or parch his thirst, except for a perpetual fog that further shrouded the place in gloominess, and crushed any feeling of brightness that manifested itself in Ken’s heart.

Deciding that he had enough of his present location, Ken got up and began walking towards one of the hills. He had no idea where he was headed to, but he assumed that any place could be better than ‘here’. Picking a random point, Ken hoped that ‘there’ would herald something interesting, or at least noteworthy enough to take up some of his time. Not that being occupied for five minutes out of eternity would be of any use, he thought.

He had not gone far before something caught his attention.

Hearing a sound behind him, Ken turned. The fog was drawing to a single point. Ken frowned. He was curious, but common sense told him to stand his ground, keeping a safe distance. He watched as the fog collected into a vaguely human shape, except the shape was well over two metres tall.

“Ichijouji…” a voice spoke. Ken’s eyes widened. A female voice, but not one he had heard before.

“Who are you?” he shouted. “And how do you know me?”

“Who… am I…” the voice replied. As the fog solidified, Ken could make out a woman dressed in a simple white yukata. Then, scarlet spots began to form on the yukata. Ken gasped. Blood. The woman’s long hair swept forward, and her face twisted into a snarl, revealing daemonic features. “I…am…Benihime.”

Benihime grinned as Ken gasped. Fear gripping his heart, Ken turned tail and ran. The demoness lurched forward, a bloody katana materializing in one hand. “Your soul…Ichijouji…is mine!”

A throwing knife found its way into Ken’s back. He screamed as the blade pierced his skin, and fell to the ground. No....he thought. Someone help me…

“KEN!” a voice screamed. “KEN!” Ken looked. Was it an angel here to save him?

Through the haze clouding his mind, he saw Benihime change once more. Her face twisted and her hair shortened, revealing someone else, someone totally different. Ken blinked, trying to figure out who it was.

“KEN!”

“Sora?” Ken thought…




“KEN!” Sora shouted, trying to wake the younger boy. Beside her, Yamato Ishida dabbed at Ken’s wound with a cloth.

Ken opened his eyes. “What happened?”

Yamato looked up from his work. “I thought you were the murderer,” he explained. “So I tried to ambush you. Sora tried to stop me, but I was already in mid-swing. I was only able to change my angle and not club you straight on the head.”

“Of course,” Sora added, “you probably passed out from the mental shock before Yamato whacked you, anyway.”

Ken nodded, wincing at the bump on his head. Yamato grinned sheepishly. “Sorry.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Ken replied, waving it off. “More importantly, though, where are the others?”

Yamato’s grin turned into a frown. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “We were pretty much scared shitless sitting here, when we suddenly heard a sound. A shadow was approaching, but we couldn’t see what it was. Everyone turned tail and fled. I’ve been trying to locate people, but so far I’ve had no luck.”

“Well, Izumi and Junpei…” Sora couldn’t bring herself to say it.

“Dead?” Yamato interrupted. He didn’t seem particularly concerned, something which Ken raised an eyebrow at.

Yamato caught Ken’s look. “I know. I don’t look particularly sad or surprised. But the truth is, it’s not much of a surprise anymore, with Tommy and Koushiro already dead. And as for sad… we’ll have plenty of time to mourn them later. I made a decision that we have to save the living before we all end up dead. It’s a heartless decision, but there’s not much we can do at this point.”

Ken and Sora nodded at the blonde’s conviction. “I guess we should look for them, then,” said Sora.




Saturday, August 21, 2004 4:40am

Sometimes it amazes me how little time had passed. In truth, it had only been about 4 hours since this all began. But in such a short time, we have lost four of our friends – and one other. I myself have almost faced death… and managed to come out with only a nasty bump on the head. I wonder if I am the luckiest or the most cursed person here. Lucky that I have escaped almost unscathed while others have died, or cursed to watch my friends get brutally murdered while I am spared.

It pains me to have to add the names of Izumi Orimoto and Junpei Shibayama to the list of the deceased, but I must do so anyway. May their memories stay in our hearts.

Only an hour or two before the sun rises; it is something I am glad of. This night has already been long enough. I cannot bear to see it go on any longer.



“We’re going, Ken,” Sora called.

Ken looked up from his journal to see Sora and Yamato standing together, waiting for him. He pocketed the notebook and walked towards them.

“What’s that?” Yamato asked, handing Ken a knife.

“It’s a journal,” he said simply. “To remember all our friends.” Yamato and Sora both nod. Yamato pointed to a space between two headstones.

“We’ll head through there first,” he began. “I’m hoping that if we move randomly about we’ll run into the rest of us.”

“Or the murderer,” Ken pointed out. Yamato shrugged.

“That’s why we’ve go these,” he said, indicating the knives and branches.

Ken chuckled. “I doubt those would be of much use against a fully armed killer.”

“Then we’ll go down fighting, taking out an eyeball or two at the very least.” Yamato’s tone was no longer jovial. It had been replaced with a steely, determined timbre. There was no longer any friendliness, or even regret, in his voice. There was only one thing to do, and they would do it. “Let’s go.”




“Are you sure this is the right place?” a voice asked.

“Quite sure. Jyou might be able to hide it from dad, but I could tell,” a man replied.

“Why would Daisuke go in there, though? This place looks creepy.”

The man shrugged. “Beats me. I hope nothing has happened, though. I had a bad feeling when Jyou said he was going on a ‘camping trip’”

Beside him, the woman sighed. “Maybe if I had been paying more attention to Daisuke I might have caught on to something too.”

“Don’t worry about it, sweetheart. I doubt anything that bad happened. I just had a weird feeling, and just had to come check it out.”

“Well, let’s make it quick,” the woman replied. “This place gives me the creeps.”




“Anything yet?” asked Sora.

“No.”

Two minutes later… “Anything?”

“No.”

… “Anyone see something?”

Yamato turned. “For the last time, Sora, no!” he growled. He was beginning to tire of her incessant pestering.

Sora looked away. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled.

Yamato sighed. He had messed up again. “No, it should be me apologizing. I guess this has me too uptight.”

Sensing an awkward moment, Ken quickly intervened. “Let’s just concentrate on finding everyone. You can make up later.”

The three continued on in silence, Ken in the front, Yamato and Sora walking behind him without a word. They walked, each looking in one direction, hoping to see of one of their comrades.

Suddenly, twin screams rang in the air. The three looked up.

“That way!” Ken shouted, and they dashed towards the sounds. They sprinted by headstones, hurdling over some of the shorter ones. A passing thorn snagged Ken’s sleeve and ripped it off cleanly, but neither he nor his friends were in any position to care. All they cared about was reaching the site of the screams. Please, Ken thought, even though all hope had left him by now, let us get there in time. Running ahead of his friends, Ken crashed through a number of dead shrubberies and halted. Sora follwed a second later, and then Yamato emerged. Nothing.

“Now what?” Yamato asked. His voice had a tinge of panic, and Ken was pretty sure he knew why. Sora could sense it too, for she quickly looked around. “How about over there,” she suggested, pointing at another opening between the gravestones. Without a word, the three leapt towards it. Still nothing.

Ken scanned the area. “There!” he shouted. “An opening!”

The three burst into a relatively empty area. A clearing surrounded a small, rotting shrine. They moved around to see if anything was on the other side. Still nothing. Yamato was getting more and more edgy by the second, and Ken could feel it, no matter how hard Yamato attempted to cover it. Then he saw it.

“Over there!” he shouted. Obscured by the darkness was a flock of vultures. They ran to it without a second thought, shooing away the scavengers to reveal a gruesome sight.

When Yamato saw the scene in front of him, the last vestiges of his cold exterior collapsed and all colour drained from his face. “No,” he muttered, falling onto the ground. “No, no, no, no…”

Takeru and Hikari lay completely dismembered. Their bodies had been hacked apart by the unknown killer. Blood – their blood – splattered the headstones all around them, painting a tale of their last moments. Their heads were the only parts of them that were recognizable: arms, legs, torsos, everything was thrown carelessly around and nipped at by the birds. As Ken approached the heads, he saw that they were touching, and appeared to be joined at the lips. Upon closer look, however, Ken’s stomach violently protested and he spewed everything he hadn’t already vomited – which consisted mostly of stomach acids and nothing else.

Takeru and Hikari’s lips had been sewn together, as if Benihime herself wanted to preserve their last kiss for all eternity. Ken’s mind processed the revolting image once and again, and his stomach churned and he vomited a second puddle of stomach fluids. Beside him, Sora did the same. After several minutes of puking their insides, the two managed to still their digestive tracts and stand up once again. It was then that Ken noticed something wrong.

“Sora,” he asked. “Where’s Yamato?”
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Sun Jul 05, 2009 2:56 pm

Woaah...

Usually, I wouldln't be able to read three chapters at once. But I couldn't stop- this is addictive?


There IS more, right?

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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:28 pm

Wonderfully told.

Frankly speaking, the storyline's not really that unique; come on, how many monster movies start out with a group of friends that one-by-one get picked out (and in a graveyard, no less)? The story could be as generic as they come but the art of writing truly makes all the difference. And that, Matt, is what makes this work more than a worthwhile read. (I'm half-relieved the pair of goggles from s4 wasn't there, and am wondering what horrible fate has befallen Taichi and Daisuke)

Looks like I won't be sleeping tonight, cheers!

(would you want me to post this on ff.net as a review as well?)
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Sun Jul 05, 2009 6:39 pm

Let's see... I loved it... mostly because you wrote it.

The general idea (which was mine, btw, Andre) was fun to work with, but you made it terrifying. Which only made me love it more.

And yeah so what if the storyline isn't unique... I'd like to see someone rock it the way you have. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:03 pm

Yes, I know. I merely pointed it out to bring out how wonderfully he wrote the story, not to insult you.

I'm sorry it appeared that way.. pale
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:17 am

Don't worry, insulting Diane makes the world go round.

(Doesn't matter about the review thing. They're nice, but I won't cry if I don't get any)
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Mon Jul 06, 2009 4:26 am

Gee, thanks Matt.

And I know he wouldn't intentionally insult me, sad how things happen like that though... hmm...

Whatever. I'm patiently (riiiight, who am I kidding) waiting for the next chapter. Oh so many deaths! Twisted Evil
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Mon Jul 06, 2009 5:46 am

Well, I don't really have much of a plan for this story, so I'm still deciding who to kill next (and really, what happens. I'll probably give it some thought tomorrow.

Hopefully I'll write something to give you nightmares What a Face
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:25 am

Just remember my request!

I want to see Ken go all Kaiser-esque due to his friends dying and then face off against the killer! Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:11 pm

Yeah...Kaiser has been in my thoughts for a while...
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Tue Jul 07, 2009 4:13 am

Whoa, that would be totally EPIC!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:52 pm

I'm sure everyone who's going to read it has read it on ff.net anyway, but I'll just finish this...



When the Air is Still

Chapter 4: Nightmare Continues



Saturday August 21, 2004 5:22am

Tommy. Koushiro. Takato. Izumi. Junpei. Takeru. Hikari.

Yamato.

Sora and I found him tied to a headstone after searching for about half an hour. His neck had been snapped, but there was no mistaking the look of fear in his eyes. What exactly causes this fear, anyway? I have not been able to find out.

Yamato’s neck had been snapped, yes, but unfortunately, that was not the end. Like Koushiro, he had been disembowelled, but unlike Koushiro, the killer – damn him to hell forever – kept his entrails attached to his body. One end of them, anyway. He took the other end and tied them on to the ground. Then he had apparently castrated Yamato and had hung his scrotum on the instestines. I can only hope that the killer had snapped Yamato’s neck before beginning his gruesome work.

Do I sound like a sadist? I seemingly record these details without any emotion, almost as if I am enjoying it. But I assure you, I am not. I am sick of the murders, I am sick of the killer’s sadistic methods. I am sick of this place.

5:22; the sun should already have already started rising. Strange that it hasn’t. I have not even caught sight of the first rays of light that will hopefully end this nightmare. Is this really the work of Benihime? No human has the power to stop the sun. Could it be the work of a daemon? I pride myself on rational thought, but it is escaping me, and I find myself believing the old legend more and more with each passing moment.

We have to leave this place. I am sorry, my friends, but I must abandon you to this monstrosity. Not for my own sake, but for Sora’s. She will not die under my watch, not her as well. I pray that you are still alive, but my heart hopes in vain, for we have come across nothing but dead bodies. Farewell, my friends.



Ken put down his pen, wiping away tears that were threatening to spill over. His body shook with sadness, depressed that their supposed “adventure” had come down to this. They should not have come here, regardless of the excitement, regardless of who suggested it. But they were here, and they were here paying the price in blood.

Eventually, Ken calmed down enough to look over at Sora, who sat calmly nearby. Except calmly was the wrong word to describe Sora. Her crimson eyes looked dead, as if a fire within had been extinguished. Not that Ken blamed her, he felt just as dead inside. He wanted to lie down and let death consume him, to free him from this. But for Sora’s sake, he would have to get out of here.

“Sora,” Ken called. She didn’t answer. Horrified, Ken ran over.

“Sora!” he called again, shaking her.

“I’m here,” Sora replied. Ken sighed a breath of relief. Sora didn’t look as if she had been murdered as well, but Ken had stopped trying to analyse situations rationally. The killer obviously didn’t.

“Let’s go,” Ken prodded. Sora didn’t reply, she had lapsed back into sullen silence.

“Sora,” Ken said again, pleading this time. Ken sighed, his patience evaporating.

“Damn it, Sora!” he shouted. “Move!” Still nothing.

“Damn it, Sora,” he repeated. “You are not dying on me. We’re getting out of here, even if I have to carry you to the exit.” When Sora made no move to stand, Ken lifted her up, grunting. He was no weakling, but Sora wasn’t exactly light either. Years of soccer and tennis had shaped her body into a muscle-bound titan, and Ken gasped as he struggled to move around with Sora hanging on to him. Making sure Sora was secure in his arms, Ken started walking.



Jyou ran. There was no other word for it. He ran, wheezing and cursing his out-of-shape body. It had been many years since he was this scared (when he was little, cockroaches scared him like nothing else), but to say that he was terrified would be putting it lightly.

He was petrified. Scared shitless, even.

Jyou was in panic mode. His mind had shut off two hours ago when their camp had been invaded, and Jyou had been running almost as long. He might have wondered how his body hadn’t collapsed yet, but his mind wasn’t processing anything right now. If it was, Jyou might have noticed that he had been running for two hours, yet haven’t come close to finding a way out of the necropolis.

He just continued to run.

Until he tripped over something. Apparently, falling flat on his face brought some semblance of rational thought back to him, for he stopped to look at what he tripped over – and immediately regretted it.

He had tripped over Mimi Tachikawa. Or rather, someone he assumed was Mimi, since her face had been disfigured so badly it was unrecognizable. She lay naked, her torso buried into the ground. Long gashes covered her entire body from head to toe, and while they weren’t exactly deep, they were numerous. A burnt rag fluttered from inside her mouth, and Jyou’s newly-reactivated mind deduced that the killer had gagged her while torturing her. And, Jyou thought, more than likely raped her if the killer was particularly depraved. Jyou retched beside her, feeling the his body heave at the gruesome sight in front of him.

Convinced that his body was done its work, Jyou began to crawl away. He didn’t make it very far, though.




“Get off me, Miyako!” Daisuke complained. The girl in question merely shook her head and clung to the boy even tighter. The two trailed behind Taichi and Juri, who walked on ahead in an effort to find an exit to the labyrinth. Miyako had been clinging to Daisuke for a while now, and Daisuke was getting very edgy.

“Get… off!” Daisuke forcibly pried Miyako’s arms off him. Miyako promptly collapsed, sobbing uncontrollably. Taichi turned around, glaring at him. Daisuke sighed, and then knelt down beside Miyako.

“Hey, it’s okay,” Daisuke tried. Miyako only sobbed harder. Looking around at Taichi, who rolled his eyes, and Juri, who merely looked sympathetic, Daisuke went and wrapped one arm around her, using the other to stroke her hair. “Shh…everything’s going to be just fine.” Inside, though Daisuke knew everything wasn’t going to be just fine. The fact that Miyako – boisterous, headstrong Miyako – had been reduced to a gibbering wreck was proof of that. “At least we’re together. Me, you, Taichi, and Juri are going to make it out. And everyone will already be outside waiting for us. I promise.”

Miyako continued to cry into Daisuke’s shoulder, making him feel very awkward.




Ken gasped for air. He had been walking for at least half an hour now. Sora still hadn’t moved, and Ken’s arms were getting tired. He walked between the headstones and across shrines, navigating his way through the still-dark landscape in his quest to escape. Over there? He wondered. Or maybe if I walk along that path…

Ken tripped, sending him crashing to the ground and Sora flying out of his arms. Ken mentally smacked himself for not watching where he was going, but then decided that between Sora in front of him and the darkness in general, it had been pretty hard to see. Ken looked, thinking that he tripped over a tree root or a stump, but instead found that he had tripped over yet another victim: Jyou Kido.

The eldest of their group had been buried up to his shoulders. On closer inspection (ignoring his screaming mind once again), he found that the killer had used dirt to fill in Jyou’s mouth and nostrils. His head had also been partially split open, as if someone had taken a cleaver and smashed it into his skull. Ken grimaced, cursing the murderer for the thousandth time that night. If I ever get my hands on you, he vowed, I will do to you all the things you did to my friends. You will pay.

Sora gasped, causing Ken to whirl around. The red-haired girl sat frozen in shock. For a moment, Ken was relieved to see her emerge from her soulless state, but then realized that only something truly catastrophic could have done that. Ken followed her gaze and saw Mimi hanging naked from a tree. Long gashes covered her body, and her face had been horribly disfigured. Mimi Tachikawa, one of Sora’s oldest friends, now one of the newest among the killer’s victims. Frustrated, Ken drew a fist and punched the tree Mimi hung from, causing his hand to start bleeding. Ken ignored it, though. His mind was filled only with thoughts of rage and grief.

Who’s next, bastard? Whose life are you going to fuck up next? Ken thought bitterly.




“Shuu!” Jun shouted. “Behind you!”

The man turned around just into to block a whiplash with his arm. The whip cut through his sleeve and into his arm painfully drawing blood. Shuu straightened, clutching his wounded arm as Jun ran beside him. Shuu glared at his attacker, who stayed hidden in the shadows.

“Shuu! Are you okay?”

“Who are you?” Shuu shouted, ignoring Jun for the moment. He took a step forward to shield Jun if the newcomer should attack again.

“Answer me!” Shuu demanded when the assailant did not reply. Then he suddenly felt Jun’s grasp slip, and turned around to see her slump to the ground. Behind her stood the attacker in plain view. Shuu’s eyes widened, seeing a weapon.

“I am Ken Ichijouji,” his assailant said. “And you, my friend, are dead.”

Shuu Kido pitched backwards, blood spurting from seven different places on his body.

The murderer stood for a moment, then walked over and smashed a boot onto Shuu’s chest, breaking his rib cage and causing the dead man to send a second wave of blood into the air. He then gave his newest victims one last look before heading back into the darkness.
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:55 pm

When the Air is Still

Chapter 5: Hunter or Hunted?


“Ken!” Sora shouted. “Where are you going?”

“I’m hunting down the killer,” Ken replied. His voice was laced with fury and his face set with determination as he strode away from the newest crime scene.

“Are you insane?” asked Sora. “Ken… Listen to me! KEN!” Sora ran to catch up with Ken, who neither slowed down for her nor acknowledged her presence. “KEN!”

“He needs to be stopped,” Ken said simply, before lapsing back into silence.

“You can’t! KEN! He’ll kill you! KEN! STOP AND LISTEN TO ME!” Sora rushed up to Ken and tackled him to the ground, ignoring his protests. “DAMN IT KEN! STOP THIS!”

“WHY!” Ken roared. “TOMMY! KOUSHIRO! YAMATO, JYOU, MIMI… EVERYONE! EVERYONE IS DEAD!”

“That doesn’t mean you have to follow them!” Sora shouted back. Tears ran freely down her face as she pinned the smaller boy down. “Let’s get out of here, Ken! We’ll call the police. We’ll call the Defence Forces! Let’s just get out of here first! Ken, please!”

Ken hesitated, ceasing his struggles.

“Ken,” Sora continued, her voice softening. “There’s nothing more we can do here. I wish this was just one big nightmare, but I know it’s not.” Tears continued to fall. “Let’s go, Ken. I’m sure everyone’s going to be waiting for us when we get out. We’ll just keep on hoping, knowing that our friends are already outside.” By now, Ken had stopped moving completely. “Revenge isn’t going to bring anyone back. Let’s go.”

Satisfied that Ken wasn’t going to try and run away, Sora slowly released her hold on him. Ken got to his knees rather shakily, his head bowed in shame. “I’m sorry, Sora,” he apologized. “I don’t know what got over me. When I saw Jyou and Mimi like that, I just kind of… snapped.”

Sora regarded her penitent friend, and then wrapped him in a hug. “You were there for me when I gave up all hope. You carried me, saving my life at the risk of losing yours. What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t do the same for you?”

Ken merely sighed, tears seeping through his closed eyes.




Saturday August 21, 2004 6:03am

Finally, the sun is beginning to rise. I can see slivers of sunlight peeping through the haunted woods in this accursed place. But more importantly, the sun is finally beginning to dawn in my heart. Not that everything is perfect now – far from it. My friends, save Sora, are either dead or missing. But in the end, I really learned something about the human race tonight – how we managed to survive despite indiscriminate war, devastating catastrophes, appalling death tolls, and more. The way we support each other is truly amazing. When Sora had given up on life, I was able to lend a hand – literally – and pull her up. In the same way, when I was blinded by vengeance, it was Sora who brought me to my senses. When we were both shocked beyond comprehension at the gruesome displays the killer made of our friends, it was being together that really helped us through. The human spirit is an amazing thing. Our bodies can be broken, but our spirit cannot. This light of hope and friendship is really something to be reckoned with, I believe, and tonight, however destructive, had really shown me that.

Thank you, Sora. Thank you, to all my friends who died here tonight. Thank you.




Ken closed his notebook, turning towards Sora. She sat nearby, alert, patiently waiting for him to finish. Ken smiled, knowing that both their spirits have been rejuvenated – to an extent. Neither of them would be able to walk away from this unscathed, but for now, being focused on survival was enough. “Let’s go,” Ken said. “If we follow the sun east, we should hit edge of the cemetery.”

Sora nodded and linked her fingers with Ken, and neither of them felt awkward about it. At any other time, this would have been seen as an intimate act, one done only between lovers, but now their intertwined hands meant only emotional and spiritual support. They would conquer this nightmare together.




“Run!” Taichi shouted. His warning was unnecessary, however, as the members of the little group had already seen the killer close in on them. Everyone rushed to safety, weaving around headstones and gnarled trees.

“Escaping, are we?” a mocking voice cut through the pre-dawn air. Taichi suddenly felt himself pitching forward. Taichi swore as he hit the dirt face-first. Around him, similar cries of surprise rang as his friends all suffered the same fate. Masses of rope, weighed down by stones, dropped around each member of the group.

“Who are you? Why are you doing this?” Daisuke shouted as he fought with the entanglement.

“My, my. Does everyone resort to harsh words when they have no effective means of fighting anymore? Pathetic.” The killer went over to Taichi and bound his hands and feet, ignoring the struggling boy. He then went over to Miyako and Juri, doing the same. Miyako glared at him as he bound her, but could do little through the net. Juri lashed out at their captor with a foot, and was rewarded for her tenacity by a brutal slap that knocked her to the ground.

Daisuke, however, had managed to escape. His eyes travelled to Taichi and Miyako, who lay bound on the ground, and the headstones, where freedom lay. His face contorted as he fought within himself.

Taichi stared at Daisuke, silently pleading with him. Leave, Daisuke! Run! Save yourself!

Daisuke stood frozen, wringing his hands.

“You’re doing a very bad job if you’re trying to run away, Motomiya,” the killer intoned. He aimed a pistol at Daisuke.

Daisuke’s eyes widened. The killer had persuaded Daisuke where Taichi could not. Daisuke turned tail and ran.

The killer fired. Twin bullets shot impossibly quickly through the air, burying themselves within the boy’s flesh. Daisuke cried out as the bullets made contact, and stumbled. He lay, unable to move, as the killer approached. He felt his arms being wrenched backwards and he screamed once again. The killer then bound his ankles – loose enough so that he could walk, but tight enough so that he couldn’t run away. He then took a longer piece of rope and lashed all four captives together. Satisfied with his handiwork, the killer rose, ignoring Daisuke’s groans and Juri’s whimpering.

“Now then,” he said pleasantly. “Let’s get going, shall we?”




“Ken!” Sora spoke up. “Look! It’s Iori!”

Ken followed Sora’s fingers to where Iori sat. The boy was hunched over and he was supported only by the tree he leaned against. Ken and Sora ran up to Iori. Iori looked up and gave the two a wan smile.

“Hey,” he said.

Ken went over and began to tug on the ropes binding Iori. “We’ll get you out of here.”

“NO!” shouted Iori. Ken looked up.

“There might be a trap here. If you unbind me, you might set it off.” Ken’s hands fell away from the ropes and his face burned with embarrassment. Sora took this moment to question Iori.

“Why didn’t the killer kill you?” she asked. “I mean, um…”

“Why was I spared?” Iori asked. Sora nodded. “He wanted me to deliver a message.”

“To us?” Sora asked. “What message?”

“I don’t know to whom,” Iori replied. “But he told me to say ‘I have the rest of them. Catch me if you can. To the east’. I’m assuming that ‘the rest of them’ meant the rest of our friends.”

“He’s baiting us,” Ken murmured. “He wants us to follow him, for whatever reason.”

“Could he be lying?” Sora asked. “It sounds like a big scam to me.”

“I know,” Ken said, “But I can’t take the chance that he’s not. Excluding us, there are still four of our friends out there who are missing. And if this killer isn’t going to kill them outright for whatever reason, then there’s a chance that we could save them. Besides, he said ‘to the east’. We’re heading in that direction anyway.” Sora nodded.

“Doesn’t matter what path you take,” Iori said, “But you should leave me here. There’s nothing you can do about these ropes.”

“You don’t have to sound so brave,” Sora admonished.

Iori chuckled, but it was a bitter sound that came out of his mouth. “Brave? I am anything but brave. Inside I just want to be at home, in bed. But since that’s not possible, I might as well do something with the last moments of my life.”

“You don’t know that,” Ken argued. “After all, you’re still alive here.”

“He’s only keeping me alive for his purposes,” Iori said. “And I doubt that would last much longer.”

“We’ll come back for you, we promise,” Sora said. She knelt down and wrapped Iori in a hug. After a moment, Ken joined in.

“Thanks, you guys,” Iori said through the embrace. “For everything.”




Miyako screamed as the whip slapped across her back. She fought back tears as best she could, but they trickled through her eyes, begging to be let out. She stumbled forward, only to feel a second lash, this one carving her open from shoulder to hip. Miyako lay sobbing into the ground, unable to get up.

“Faster, fool,” the cruel voice sneered. He raised his whip for a third stroke, but someone stood in his way. “Stop it,” Taichi Yagami ordered. Taichi stared at their captor with undisguised hatred.

“What are you going to do about it, Yagami?” the killer asked. His tone was soft but menacing. “Your hands are tied. And really, I’m the one holding the chips here, not you.”

“Beat me instead,” demanded Taichi. His tone wavered slightly, but he stood firm.

“You would sacrifice yourself to save a friend. How touching.” The killer flicked his whip in Taichi’s face. Taichi flinched, but the determination never left his eyes.

“Not bad…not bad at all,” the killer murmured. “Unfortunately, just because you say so, doesn’t mean I’ll do it. I’m feeling particularly sadistic tonight, so how about I…eeny meeny miney mo…!”

The killer walked over and dragged Juri forward, throwing her onto the ground in front of Taichi. “Her death shall be on your conscience,” he said to Taichi. Taking a knife, he slashed the girl’s throat, spraying blood over Taichi’s horrified face. Then he took the knife and stabbed her eyes, lungs, and stomach, drawing more blood. Wiping his knife on Taichi’s shirt, the killer stood and addressed the rest of his captives. “Let’s get going, shall we?” he asked, as if nothing had happened. “We do have a certain destination to reach, you know.” He flicked his whip over their heads and slowly, then group began their death march once more, prodded along by their captor’s whip.




Saturday August 21, 2004 6:25am

I have the rest of them. Catch me if you can; to the east.

Who is this killer? For most of the night, I had thought that he was merely a sadistic serial killer. But why did he spare Iori, and to deliver a message? Why – if what he says it true – did he spare the rest of my friends? And why have I been spared? Except for the brief encounter with Yamato, I had not seen even a trace of the killer. To me, he is still a shadow.

I was not able to get much information out of Iori either. Iori never managed to see the killer’s face and he claimed that the killer’s voice was distorted electronically. What wasn’t covered by a mask was hidden by a hood and cloak. It would seem as if the killer is taking great lengths do disguise himself. What for, though? None of his victims had survived to tell the tale, save Iori. What is this creature doing? And more importantly, what does he want with me or Sora?

By now, the sun had risen. It’s a pity that the clouds had decided to gather today and form a barrier between the sun and our world. From time to time we could see the encouraging rays poke through the clouds, but often we had to rely on our own sense of direction. It is as if nature itself is conspiring against us.

We found Juri as well. Her frail corpse lying there really disgusted me. Her throat had been slashed open, and her eyes were gone. There was no mistaking the look of fear on her face, however. Similarly, her lungs and stomach had been punctured. Worms had already begun to feast upon her. Sora and I cremated her as well, offering a quick prayer for her soul.

I find it strange how we were able to find every single body. I suspect that the killer had deliberately planned everything. How is he able to take into account everything? I do not know, but I am sure that behind his brutalness lies a cold and calculating mind. In a game of chess or igo he would no doubt be one to think five or ten or even fifty moves ahead. On one hand I hate him for what he has done, but I cannot deny that I am not in awe of his abilities to plan such a reign of blood and terror.



“Sora,” Ken prodded, “Remember that grove of trees? We saw them when we were coming in!”

Sora’s eyes danced as she too saw the dead trees in the distance. It was still a while before they would reach it, but seeing the trees meant that they would soon be at the cemetery gates – and hopefully where their friends were. Her eyes darkened, however, upon seeing what lay in the way: Taichi Yagami

Or more correctly, Taichi Yagami’s cadaver.

Taichi lay on his back, naked – and bald. On his torso, the killer had inscribed a large, bloody arrow, pointing towards the grove of trees. On each of his limbs were written catch me if you can; to the east. A single bullet hole was created in his sternum, indicating the method of death. For the first time, however, the look of fear was not present on the victim. A look of sullen acceptance was the only distinguishable feature on Taichi’s face.

Sora walked forward and knelt beside her longest friend. Silently, she wept over him while Ken stood nearby, unable to console her.
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:55 pm

Saturday August 21, 2004 6:51am

Taichi Yagami had been the unofficial leader in our group for as long as anyone could remember. He had all the qualities of a leader: confidence – if sometimes to the point of being headstrong, daring, but he also genuinely cared for each one of us – especially his sister. He would no doubt be a great leader, had he lived to see that day.

His death was probably the most shocking. I never knew Taichi terribly well; he was three years older than me, and usually hung out with the older group anyway. But he was, at the very core, the leader. He was the unshakable leader who formed a pillar of continuity in each one of our lives. To see such a pillar broken really shook me to the core.

If I am shocked by this, Sora is no doubt devastated. She had known Taichi since they were five. They played together, wrestled with each other, fought over who would get the last cookie – if there was something two people could do together (within reasonable limits, of course), they did it. Taichi played a bigger part in Sora’s life than both her parents combined. I wish I could say something, but I feel so woefully inadequate beside her suffering.




Sora stood. “I’m ready.”

Ken looked up from his writing. “Are you sure, Sora? I mean, Taichi was…”

“I’m ready,” she repeated. Ken looked at the renewed fire in her eyes and shivered. She had become an angel of vengeance. Not that Ken could blame her; he had suffered such a desire not two hours ago. But unlike him, Sora looked sane. She looked as if she had a plan to take out the killer. Ken shuddered, hoping that he would never have a chance to cross her. This ordeal really messes with our emotions, Ken thought wryly. He then banished his thoughts and walked over to Sora, and the two walked towards their destiny once more.




“Strip,” the killer commanded. He silenced his captives’ protests with swift flicks of his whip, sending them to the ground moaning with pain. The hooded killer waited patiently as the two carefully removed their clothes, trying their best to hide their nakedness. Neither Daisuke nor Miyako could tell what the killer had in mind for them.

When they were done, their captor handed Miyako a long rope. “Wrap this around your friend so that he can’t move his arms.” Without a word, Miyako took the rope and went over to Daisuke.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured, and began to restrain Daisuke further. Daisuke merely stood still as Miyako tied him up, wincing whenever the rope touched his wounds and causing Miyako to apologize profusely.

The killer then similarly restrained Miyako, wrapping the rope around her upper body like a straightjacket. He then threw two prepared nooses over a particularly thick tree branch. Afterwards, he set two step stools underneath the ropes.

Miyako and Daisuke looked at each other. They were in the last minutes of their tragically short lives. Daisuke managed a wry grin even as tears spilled down his face. Miyako tried to ignore her pounding heart and the tears soaking the ropes that held her still. “I-it’s be-e-en n-nice…knowing y-y-you,” Miyako stuttered.

“S-same here,” Daisuke replied. “I-“

“How touching,” interrupted their executioner. “Now, if you’d be so kind as to step onto those stools, we can get this underway.” He flicked his whip at them to emphasize his point. Daisuke looked at Miyako, trying to encourage her through his tears. They nodded and then moved forward, climbing the stairs to oblivion.




Ken and Sora rushed into the grove. Freedom – and vengeance lay in here. They could both see the eastern gate of the cemetery beyond the grove, but another sight caught their attention. Ken’s heart sputtered and died when he saw it.

Miyako and Daisuke, his two closest friends, and the last two missing, hung from trees. Their bodies swayed gently in the wind, their apparent tranquility a mockery of the murders. Each of them sported several wheals across their bodies, evidence that they had suffered much under their killer.

“COME OUT, COWARD!” Ken shouted. The red haze began to cloud his vision once more, and again he found himself consumed by bloodlust. “COME OUT AND FACE ME! I DARE YOU!”

Beside him, Sora let out a cry as she fell forward, three bullet holes in her back. Ken whirled around to see a cloaked figure come out of the shadows. The figure pocketed his pistol and clapped. “Congratulations, Ken-chan,” the sardonic voice came. “You finally found me.”

“WHO ARE YOU?” Ken roared. “AND WHY ARE YOU TARGETTING MY FRIENDS?”

The killer laughed. “Who am I?” he asked. “WHO AM I?” The killer threw back his cloak, revealing a navy jumpsuit. Metal bracers decorated his wrists and ankles, and a cape flowed around him. Messy hair –the same colours as Ken’s - adorned the killers head. The killer stopped laughing to remove his sunglasses, revealing eyes of deep purple – eyes that Ken knew so well.

“Who am I?” the killer repeated. “I am Ken Ichijouji. I am you.”
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:56 pm

Chapter 6: Vengeance is Mine




I am you. These words shook Ken as he stared, frozen and wide-eyed, at the mysterious killer who had been murdering his friends the entire night. Purple eyes – the same as his own – stared back, except these eyes spoke of murderous intent – insanity, even – rather than the shock and fear present in Ken’s own eyes. His adversary stared back, grinning at his shock.

“I am you,” the other Ken repeated, and attacked. A knife cut through the air. Instinctively, Ken moved to the side, though the knife nicked his arm. Still stunned, Ken didn’t even register the pain. Then the whip snaked forward, catching Ken on his cheek. Again, Ken neither felt nor acknowledged the blow. The other Ken frowned.

“Come, Ichijouji,” he taunted. “Where’s that fighting spirit of yours? What, are you going to kill me?” The knife spun through the air, luckily hitting Ken in the shoulder with the hilt. “Ha, I’d like to see you try!”

Ken’s mind was still blank. Who is he? He thought. Why is he here? Why me?

A machete cut through the air, missing Ken by centimetres. “You’re no fun,” the other Ken remarked. “Even your girlfriend… what was her name? Miyako? Even she at least screamed before dying.”

Miyako.

“And that other guy… Daisuke. He tried to save her even to the very end. Too bad…” Another near hit.

Daisuke.

“I wonder who I should kill next. Do you think Mother would scream if I cut her apart piece by piece? Or would Father try to kill his own son to save his wife?”

Mom. Dad.

Die, bitch.

With a roar, Ken’s mind snapped. He leapt at his double, snarling. Enraged fingers clawed their way to the other Ken’s throat. Surprised, the other Ken flailed his whip, but was unable to keep Ken at a distance. Ken shook his alter-ego, determined to strangle the life out of him.

But the doppelganger had other ideas. He forced a knee into Ken’s stomach, and then pushed the winded boy away from him. Pulling out a gun, the double unleashed four bullets.

“That was the dumbest idea your brilliant mind has ever come up with,” he sneered. “But still, you at least had some balls.”

Ken gasped for air and clutched his stomach. The other Ken had missed – on purpose, but it was close enough to show Ken that he could have died at any time. “Bastard,” Ken spat out.

“My, my, Ken-chan. You really should watch your language. Otherwise, I’ll have to punish you!” With that, the doppelganger shot out with his whip, lashing Ken and throwing him to the ground. Before Ken could rise, a second blow landed. And a third. Ken lay helpless as his dark double flogged him, while wearing a sadistic grin.

Beneath the pain, Ken’s fingers found the hilt of the knife his double had thrown at him, and closed his fist around it. Enduring yet another lash, Ken drove the knife into his double’s leg. The other Ken howled as the blade bit into his flesh, and went down hard. Panting for breath, Ken painfully eased himself back up.

“FUCK YOU!” the other Ken screamed. He raised his pistol and fired. The bullet screamed through the air and slammed into Ken’s shoulder. Ken was saved by sheer luck – his adversary had run out of bullets. Clutching his shoulder, Ken grabbed the closest weapon he could find and held it at the other Ken’s throat. “Who are you?” Ken asked again.

His double laughed an insane laugh. “I told you, Ken-chan. I am you.”

“Bullshit.” Ken brought the branch down across his double’s face. “Who are you?”

Bloodied but not beaten, the other Ken tried to raise his head. “I am you.”

“Bullshit.” Another stroke, accompanied by a cry of pain. “Who are you?”

His double was about to reply with the same twisted answer, but paused to think. “Does it matter?” he finally asked. Ken glared at him, and the double laughed. “After all, you’re about to die!” He swung his feet, knocking Ken to the ground, and slowly sat up. “Why don’t you believe me, Ken-chan?” he asked softly. “I am you. I am who you were supposed to be.”

Ken screamed bloody murder and dove for the other. The other Ken blocked Ken’s outstretched fists and launched a kick at Ken. Ken feinted and tackled the other Ken to the ground. The two antagonists rolled in the ground, spilling blood everywhere and landing blows on each other whenever they could. Eventually, however, the other Ken was able to gain the upper hand, and forced Ken under him. The other Ken pounced on him, and placed a hand on Ken’s chest to keep the boy down. “Why don’t you believe me?” he repeated. “You were supposed to be me.”

Ken coughed as he felt the pressure on his chest. “I don’t believe you… because I have friends. I used to be a horrible person. I used to fill my head with dark thoughts. But not anymore. My friends showed me that there was more to life than sitting around, planning on how I will be the top.”

“Friends?” the double sneered. “What friends? They’re all dead.”

“Because you killed them!” Ken shouted. He stiffened for a moment, but relaxed. “My friends’ lessons are still here. I am nothing like you, whoever you are.”

The other Ken laughed at this. It started out as a small chuckle, but it increased in intensity until the doppelganger was roaring his insanity to the skies. “What a speech, Ichijouji! The little Ken-chan I knew would never have been able to say such things! No, you were always just sitting around, blowing bubbles.” The double sneered. “You want to know who I am, Ken-chan? Do you?”

The other Ken laughed at the horror dawning on Ken’s face. “That’s right, little otouto. I am Osamu, who you killed.”




“Nii-san!” The eager voice of a ten-year old rang throughout the Ichijouji residence. “Nii-san!”

The ten-year old poked his head through his brother’s room. “Nii-san?”

Osamu Ichijouji quickly turned around while stashing something away. Little Ken Ichijouji didn’t miss it, however. “Nii-san, what’s that?”

“Nothing!” Osamu snarled. “Get out!” When Ken didn’t move, Osamu advanced on his younger brother, and roughly shoved him out of the room and slammed the door. Outside, Ken began to softly cry and ran off to his room. Satisfied that the intruder had been taken care of, Osamu returned to his business.

But the curiosity of a ten-year old is not so easily sated. Not long after the incident, Osamu and his parents all happened to be out of the house, leaving Ken by himself. Excited and a little scared at the same time, Ken crept into his brother’s room, hoping to learn his brother’s secrets.

First Ken checked under the bed, his ten-year-old logic telling him that it was the best place to hide something. When that failed, Ken went through his brother’s drawers. Ken was growing disappointed and was about to give up when his sharp eye caught an odd-looking storage compartment. Happily, Ken forced it open. Oblivious to the sound of the door opening, Ken dug into the compartment, pulling out several bags of what looked like leaves and sugar.

Osamu pushed open his door – to find Ken sitting in the middle of his room, spreading his precious products on the floor. Then Osamu did something he would regret for the rest of his life: he screamed. As Ken looked up, scared, their parents ran to see what happened – and caught sight of the drugs Ken had so much fun playing with.

Several weeks later, Ken found himself sitting in between his parents in the district court. He really had no idea what was going on, but everyone looked so sombre. He was told to go up and answer a few questions about the stuff he found and how he found them. He saw his parents and brother go up as well. Then he saw his brother stand in front of the judge, who looked very stern. Ken didn’t really listen to what the judge said, but afterwards Osamu was led away by several scary-looking police officers. The Ichijoujis went home shortly afterwards, and Ken never saw Osamu again.




Until now.

Ken gasped as he recognized Osamu. Osamu had always been small for his age, and four years didn’t appear to have changed that. Ken was nearly as big as he was, despite the age difference. Osamu’s hair was lighter than Ken’s, but it was only now in the morning light that Ken was able to really tell the difference. The eyes, the intricate plans… everything had been right in front of Ken, yet he missed it. Only Osamu, the grade-A student and youngest junior Japanese igo champion could have planned such a trap. And Osamu had all the motives too. Ken mentally slapped himself for failing to recognize the signs. Osamu caught the look in Ken’s eyes, and grinned.

“So the little otouto finally figures it out. Took you long enough.”

Ken lay in the dirt, his mind completely exhausted. The long night of murders came back and flooded him. Ken sighed. “Of course,” Ken said bitterly. “You were always the genius of the family. It’s a pity you wasted your talents and went into the drug trade.”

“Pity?” Osamu narrowed his eyes. “I could have gotten rich in no time, Ken-chan. Within a year or two, I could have risen to the very top of the trade, and I would have made millions. But YOU stepped in the way! You destroyed my career! YOU KILLED ME!”

Ken opened a bloodied eye. “Do you know how much you broke mom and dad when they saw you carted off to jail? Don’t you know what you did?”

“Shut up!” Furious, Osamu unleashed his pent up anger, smashing a fist into Ken’s face. Ken cried out in pain, but managed to raise his bloodied head. “No, brother. You killed yourself.”

“No!” Osamu pulled back his fist, and let it fly again. “It’s all your fault!” Another blow. “Your fault!”

Ken gasped with each blow. He was dying; he knew it. But at this point, Ken didn’t care anymore.

“I’ll kill you!” Osamu screamed. “I’ll rip you apart! Then I’ll kill mother and father. And then the judge who put me behind bars! Then…”

Ken was no longer listening. No, it wasn’t that he wasn’t listening; it was that he could not hear anymore. Nor could he feel the punches Osamu swung at him. His skull had been fractured by the blows. His face was coated in so much blood – both his and Osamu’s – that it was unrecognizable. At 7:07am, Ken Ichijouji was dead. Benihime had claimed her final victim.

Osamu continued to beat his younger brother and scream obscenities at him, oblivious to the fact that Ken was already dead. He was also oblivious to the SAT task force that was spreading out across the haunted graveyard. First they found Jun Motomiya and Shuu Kido. Then as they went in, they found more and more corpses, along with piles of ash that signalled a cremation. Frightened and disgusted by the gruesome killings, they found Iori slumped over, dead. Then they came across Miyako and Daisuke’s hung bodies, and beneath them, Ken – and Osamu.

As they pulled Osamu off his brother and slapped handcuffs on him, the hardened members of the SAT – as they later recounted – shivered to see the crazed look of vengeance upon Osamu Ichijouji’s face. Several of them broke down at the sight of Ken’s still body, and wondered what had forced Osamu to this act of insanity.




Friday September 13, 2002 9:55pm

It’s been a year since Osamu Nii-san had disappeared from my life. In a year, I got older and wiser – hopefully. My parents don’t mention Osamu anymore, actually, but I was able to piece together what happened. The only question I haven’t been able to answer, however, is why.

Apparently Osamu had been heavily involved in the drug trade, even at a very early age. He worked for one of the yakuza families. He was making quite a profit, too, from what I heard. He was intelligent and cunning – he almost single-handedly outsmarted Tokyo detectives for years. I guess he didn’t quite expect me, of all people, to blow his cover.

I do miss Osamu. Sure, he was charged with a felony, but I can’t help but feel sorry for him. He’s not such a bad guy. I mean, he was mean to me a couple times, but which siblings don’t fight? (Okay, Taichi and Hikari don’t count; they’re unnatural) But in the end, I wish Osamu didn’t have to go to jail.

I hope I see him again. No, I know I will see him again.
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:57 pm

When the Air is Still

Chapter 7: Epilogue




Yomiuri Shimbun – evening edition – August 21, 2004


Osamu Ichijouji Recaptured



Osamu Ichijouji, who was convicted of 15 counts of drug trafficking in 2000, was recaptured by the SAT early this morning. Osamu was found in the Rukon cemetery several kilometres away from Tokyo. He is currently being charged with up to 20 counts of first degree murder, including the murder of his younger brother, Ken Ichijouji. Ichijouji could face the death penalty if convicted.

Osamu was reported missing from the maximum security prison in Tokyo on Monday August 2, 2004 during morning roll call. Tokyo police had been searching for him since, but Ichijouji remained elusive until police received an anonymous tip early this morning. The tip included information on the fugitive’s location as well as hints that the fugitive was heavily armed. In response, the SAT was dispatched to apprehend him.

The SAT managed to recapture Ichijouji just after 7:00am this morning, but found with him several bodies. Sources later report that 16 youths went camping for the weekend – the bodies of some of these youths were found. Additional sources bring the number of people reported in the cemetery to 20 that night. Later police investigations concluded that several bodies were cremated, leading to a body count of 19. Kouji Minamoto has yet to be accounted for.

Osamu Ichijouji’s trial is being set for September 22, 2004.




Wednesday September 22, 2004 1:29pm

Osamu smirked. Somehow it didn’t occur to him that today was the day, and this was the place where his future would be decided – or even if he would have a future. He sat, as comfortably as someone could on the hard wooden benches in the court room, and smirked at the disgusted looks that were being cast his way, as well as his parents’ tearful faces.

Throughout the interrogation Osamu had said nothing. He had merely laughed in the detectives’ faces and mocked their growing frustration until finally even the most patient of them had given up on forcing a confession out of him. They simply told the judge that there was nothing they could do, and that it would be best to convict him based on evidence rather than a guilty plea, as was the norm in Japan.

Not that there was very much evidence. He had been careful to destroy any evidence that he had been the killer. The only murder they could really pin on him was that of his brother. Although that was enough to send him to the gallows – after all, he had committed murder while escaping from jail – Osamu was doubtful that the judge would sentence an 18-year old to death. This sort of thing wasn’t very common, after all, and would more than likely cause an international uproar.

Still, something in Osamu’s mind was warning him that he might not get off so easily…

The judge sitting down brought Osamu’s mind back to the present. He was an elder, balding man – probably in his late 50s. The judge too gave Osamu a glance of pure hatred before calling the court to order. Osamu merely smirked at him as well. After all, the judge can’t convict him of murders he could not prove.

“Let’s get started, shall we?” the judge asked. There was no sense of formality in his voice; if anything, the judge looked more cynical than Osamu. Not a good sign, Osamu thought, but then again, it doesn’t matter.

The judge held up a small notebook. “Know what this is?” he asked. Osamu shook his head, puzzled for the first time. “It’s your brother’s journal. We can all thank your brother for leaving such detailed accounts of almost every death. We can’t prove that you were the one to kill every one of them, but it tells us who died and who didn’t.”

Osamu sneered. “So what, your honour?” he drawled. “I could have told you they were dead too.”

The judge matched Osamu’s sneer with a victorious grin. “Oh, but I don’t think you anticipated this.” He gestured to the door. “Bring him in.”

The twin doors opened, and Kouji Minamoto strode in. Ignoring Osamu’s astonished look, Kouji walked towards the judge. “Your honour, he began, I can attest that Osamu Ichijouji was responsible for every single murder.”

The judge nodded. “Please, go right ahead.”

Kouji pulled out a USB and what looked like a mechanical mouse. “I believe that anyone is wondering how Osamu managed to kill 19 people with such pinpoint accuracy. While Osamu was known for being a genius even before he was first arrested, one can only go so far on intellect alone. Why is why” – Kouji lifted up the mouse – “he invented this. Large enough to contain on the motor and high-definition audio-video functions to successfully carry out intelligence missions, but small enough to remain undetected, especially at night. I was no large feat for me to take the device and modify it to carry recording capabilities as well.”

Kouji slipped the USB into a laptop. “And now, ladies and gentlemen, your honour; we will get to see exactly what happened.

Over the next several hours, the court watched with mixed emotions as the murders played out in front of them. The judge kept no secret of his emotions – his stern face changed frequently from disgust to pure glee. At the conclusion of the video, Kouji stepped forward. “I regret to inform everyone that I am the only survivor of the massacre. I was able to see all that Osamu Ichijouji had done, but was unable to stop him. That was why I fled the cemetery to alert the police.”

Osamu gasped. “You!” he shouted. “You were the so-called anonymous tip!”

Kouji nodded. “I am.”

Osamu turned to the judge, panic evident in his voice. “Him!” he shouted. “He was in on the whole thing! It was him who persuaded the girls to get everyone to go the cemetery! It was him who told me when the time to begin was! He was part of this!”

The judge merely stared at Osamu blankly. “I’m sorry, Ichijouji. I didn’t quite hear you properly. Were you trying to accuse Mr. Minamoto of murder?”

The judge turned to the rest of the courtroom. “Ladies and gentlemen, I think Ichijouji is being a little desperate here. I think he’s trying to save his own hide by trying to discredit the witness. What do you think? Should I listen to Ichijouji and ignore all the evidence Mr. Minamoto presented because he was involved?”

The courtroom erupted into chuckles. Osamu looked around. This wasn’t supposed to happen. “It’s true!” he shouted. “This – this court is corrupt! I demand a retrial!”

The judge turned back to Osamu. “Mr. Ichijouji, I think the people have spoken. And I am inclined to agree with them. Based on the evidence Mr. Minamoto has presented us, with corroborating evidence from the police and your brother’s journal, I think it’s safe to pronounce you guilty of all 19 counts of murder. And I don’t even want to go into how you escaped from prison.”

Osamu paled, but the judge was not finished yet. “Including your 15 counts of drug trafficking four years ago, you have currently committed 35 felonies. Am I right in presuming that no one will dissent if I have this man hanged?”

Osamu looked around as everyone in the courtroom sat silently. A few even shook their heads, or whispered ‘no’. Frantic, Osamu looked over to his parents. His mother was crying, and his father looked at the ground even as he comforted his wife. The judge tapped his mallet on the table, bringing Osamu’s attention back to him.

“I have a son,” the elderly man concluded. “He’s about the same age as you. Really into computer games; several times I’ve had to go into his room and remind him to sleep or do his homework. But there’s a word he’s very fond of using.” The judge leaned forward to emphasize his point. “Pwned.”




Kouji watched as Osamu was handcuffed again and led out of the courtroom. As Osamu passed him, the younger boy smiled and whispered two words to Osamu before stuffing his hands in his pockets and turning away

“I win.”




END
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Sat Aug 01, 2009 6:24 am

I still can't get over how Kouji turned out to be the one pulling the strings. But hey, it's a convenient plot device, ne?
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:43 am

yeah...I had to put him somewhere.

I was actually thinking more along the lines of:

Osamu pissed Kouji/an acquaintence of Kouji's before, and Kouji's trying to get even. So he orchestrates the whole thing to get Osamu arrested and executed. Why Kouji doesn't do the dirty work himself? It's more exciting this way.
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PostSubject: Re: Private Challenge: When the Air is Still   Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:36 am

Wow, Kouji's totally gangsta in that explanation, but I can totally see it happening. XD
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