Brad fisted the front of the stained, shabby lab coat and lifted the guy up on his toes before slamming him into the wall, giving the back of his head a good knock. Still gripping him with one hand, he jammed his gun to the guy’s stomach. “I just had my side ripped out by some giant spider thing a week ago,” he hissed through his teeth. “It hurt. So I know what it feels like to have someone take a chunk out of your guts. You, being a scientist might be aware of how that works chemically, but have you any idea of how painful it really feels?”
“I j-just make animals!” Hasagawa, as nervous as a lab rat, stammered as he protested. “F-fancy pets, that’s all!”
“We heard you make dangerous creatures that can get loose and kill people,” Yuuji said, calmly, flicking the back of his fingers on a sheet of glass. “This is cool,” he said as the long pointy creature inside angled up to paw at his fingers through the glass, little nose twitching. The color of its long furry body went from the mottled fake forest of its cage to snowy white from the roots out, then shaded in the plum of Yuuji’s jacket sleeve. “What is it?”
“C-chameleon f-ferret,” Hasegawa winced as Brad shoved the gun in deeper. “Very popular with the ladies. Matches their outfit. Problem is it goes grey when it’s dead. Makes for lousy fur trim.” His stammer momentarily disappeared when he was giving his sales spiel.
“Lucky for you,” Yuuji told it.
“What. The. Fuck. Are these?” Nagi asked quietly, staring at a cage full of birds one would assume at passing glance were chickens. On closer inspection, they had oddly broad bodies, looking like feathered cushions—on four legs.
“Those are nothing. Been around forever. American patent,” the geneticist disparaged. “S-see, just animals, eye catching pets f-for the di-discriminating customer.”
“You don’t happen to know about any mice with human genes, do you?” Schuldig asked, his voice a dangerous snarl, adding his gun barrel to Hasegawa’s temple.
His eyes flicked back and forth between the two to close foreigners. “N-no, that would be immoral. And gross. Look, I just—I j-just make them, see. You know, like in that movie? Except not so messy. No parts in vats. That shit’s old school. We do it all in the womb now, strictly organic and natural. ”
“Show him the picture,” Brad stated.
“Could you back off, please? Just a little? Kinda hard to breath,” Hasegawa begged.
Brad did not move. Yuuji walked over, taking out the now rather battered piece of paper, and showed him. “We know you made these,” he said, turning on the un-natural charm full blast. “Tell us about them.”
“Ah, those…” the guy said, turning pale. “That was um—I can explain….”
“Explain,” Yuuji said, patting Hasegawa’s cheek slowly, each pat leaving his palm in contact with vulnerable skin just long enough.
“He’s lying,” Schuldig said ever so sweetly, that insane grin on his face, inches from Hasegawa’s peripheral vision. (And his foot on top of Brad’s.)
“I haven’t said anything yet!” Hasegawa protested, alarmed at the cage he was now in.
“Tell me, Hasagawa-san,” Brad said, twisting the gun and making the man wince again at the bruising pain. “Why would anyone be able to force you to make such an animal?”
Hasegawa paled. “I-I just….” He failed further speech. Something inside just gave up.
“Oh, that’s nasty,” Schuldig murmured in his ear, a little too intimately. “Someone should fix that.”
“No,” Brad said, backing off the gun now. “We’re the good guys, remember,” he said with a flash of sarcasm. “He’ll be needed for the trial.”
“But I wanted to feed his brains to the fish,” Schuldig pouted.
“Poor fish!” Yuuji said. “You got someone to care for these animals while you’re in jail?” he asked Hasegawa coldly.
“I-I c-could call my sister. S-she doesn’t know about this,” a pleading tone entered his voice now. “She’s nothing to do with this. Please, I’ll tell you anything, just…I just had no choice.”
“Shut up,” Schuldig ordered. “And save it for the police.”
“I’m never eating KFC again,” Nagi stated, still staring at the chickens.
An hour or so later, they watched as police officers put Hasegawa in the back of a police car, his grim faced older sister standing there with her arms crossed, watching him go as if she’d been expecting this day.
“So how does this work?” Yuuji asked the police detective. “Can a telepath’s word stand up in court?”
“No need. After he comes up with a way to exterminate the little bastards, we’ll have a trial and he’ll be executed,” Kabane sucked the flame into the tip of his cigarillo and put his lighter away, exhaling a cloud of fragrant smoke.
Brad snorted a little, looking at him. “That’s a bit perfunctory.”
Kabane’s one dark brown eye regarded him. “It works for here. Shinjuku is a microcosm, like one of those ridiculous biosphere projects you hear about. We don’t have the supplies or inclination to support people who are more problem than solution.”
“What I don’t understand is why everyone doesn’t just pack up and walk out?” Yuuji asked in curiosity.
“Why should we?” Kabane asked, bluntly. “People who stay here have reasons to. This is a city like any other out there, maybe a little more libertarian, and granted a little more negligent of physics, but you can’t get too much more ‘interesting’.”
“Interesting,” Brad said, looking around. The place looked so normal. A street on any back side of a main street. So deceptively normal. “Which reminds me. I want a word with you about one of my people.”
* * *
Brad had insisted on leaving Aya (too crazy with the sword) and Tot (wanted every fluffy animal she saw) at the hotel, so Yuuji had expected Aya to be there when he got back. Instead he found a scrawled note on the small dresser. Aya had, as usual, gone to see his sister. He freshened up with a splash of water and a towel wipe to his face and went to ruin other people’s ‘alone time’.
Nagi opened the door. “Bad penny,” he announced, then turned and walked away with all the unconcern of someone who know he could squash an attacker with a flick of his mind.
“You know, I outrank you,” Yuuji said, just for the sake of argument.
“Too bad all your orders are posthumous,” the kid went back to his late lunch or early supper.
“What do you want?” Schuldig grouched, holding a take out container a little more possessively close to his chin.
Yuuji plunked his skinny butt down on the sofa beside Brad, making himself at home. “Aya’s off to the sister again,” he sighed. “I thought I’d socialize with my own kind after such a god awful week. Can you manage to keep us out of trouble for the rest of the week?” he asked Brad. “Clever, the foot thing,” he noticed that under the coffee table, one of Brad’s stocking feet covered the German’s.
“It works,” Brad said, pinching up another mouthful of saucy noodles from his own container with the take out chopsticks. “Real food,” he commented over it, licking his lips. “How I missed it.”
Yuuji noticed a set of unopened cartons, paper wrapped chop sticks across the top of them. “You used your talent?” he reached for one.
“I strongly suspected. Plus, Tot said your bum boy took off rather than play Uno with her and Rabbi-chan. I don’t know whether that was a mark of sanity on his part, or not. Brain dead sister vrs mad tea party. Difficult to determine.” He frowned slightly, then stuffed another piece of sukiyaki beef into his mouth.
“Will you stop calling the poor guy mean names?” Yuuji asked sincerely.
“Yes, because I just love seeing how jealous you are on a daily basis,” Schuldig added sarcastically.
Brad grinned at him and wiggled his foot on top of the equally jealous red head’s.
“Gross,” Nagi commented. “I vote we hide out here and don’t go anywhere until the doctor says Brad is okay to go.”
“Seconded,” Schuldig said intent on inhaling his fried rice. “We have done our part, Karma adjusted, time to get back to being evil.”
“Speaking of,” Yuuji tasted his orange chicken and approved of it, trying not to think about what sort of chicken it might have been.
Brad slouched and stuck his chop sticks into his noodles, taking a break from eating. “What do we do? The Three are gone, the Council has probably killed off half of itself by now, and I have no idea of what to do about anything until we walk out of this freak bubble.”
“Too young to retire,” Yuuji said.
“I don’t want to retire,” Nagi said just short of protest. “I want to kick ass and take names. I have my whole young adulthood in front of me! I want action and adventure, I want ill gotten off shore bank accounts, I want politicians shitting themselves in fear of my phone call,” he paused to dip an eggroll in some ridiculously red sauce and bit in to it and continued after a few chews. “I want something to bitch and moan about when I’m you guys’ age. I don’t want to be just another ex-child-prodigy’ with a receding hairline and pot belly by the time I’m twenty five, and I don’t want my life’s bench mark to be based on how many morons use a social media platform I stole from college room mates or some crap like that. What the hell have I been training for if you take that away from me?”
“My guess is being the next Dali Lama is also out of the question,” Yuuji commented.
Nagi chewed thoughtfully, eyes focused on the distance. “Pope maybe. Imagine all the stuff they have in that basement. I want to break into the Vatican and strip it.”
“Wait a year or two and you can go to the yard sale,” Brad said.
Schuldig laughed, a hand over his mouth to stop food escaping, then kicked him under the table.
“Stop it,” Brad warned, kicking back. “The catholic church will be lucky if the World Court lets them keep anything they have left after they pay off the lawsuits.”
“Yeah, if that’s going to happen, I’d have be elevated or what ever by next Tuesday. I know!” Nagi turned to look at Brad in complete seriousness. “Lets invade Antarctica. Take it over, melt it down, flood the world and piss everybody off by turning it into a paradise or something.”
“And winter would come and you’d be right back where you started. Hot water pipes under the streets are not going to work down there like they do in Hokkaido,” Brad said crushingly.
“Well, just remember, only millionaires can go to ski resorts now,” Nagi said sullenly. “And I’ll blow up that caldera under the competition so they’ll be out of business permanently. I’ll be disgustingly rich by the time the glaciers start flowing again. Nice and cozy in my Secret Antarctican Base, TM.” He narrowed his eyes in mock evil.
“You hate snow, remember?” Schuldig said.
“That’s what glass domes and hot tubs are for, asshole; don’t shit on my dream,” Nagi said primly.
“Mouth, Naoe,” Brad warned. “And how can it be secret if you’ve been pimping it as an elite ski destination?” he grabbed a bottle of green tea off the table and poured himself another paper cup full.
Nagi shrugged and stirred his noodles to get the sauce back up on them from the bottom of the carton. “People have skiing accidents all the time. They’ll be paying in advance, no problem. Anyway, they won’t remember a thing after my elite brain washing labs reprogram them to serve my evil agenda.”
Brad kicked Schuldig again. “I told you, no more Austin Powers movies!”
“Why are you blaming me!” Schuldig protested.
“That I can say honestly has been done before,” Yuuji stated. “One ski accident, boom, she’s out of orbit,” he added in a mutter.
“I thought she cracked her pelvis, not her skull,” Schuldig said. “Go figure.”
Brad made a face. “Politics. Maybe Nagi’s right. Maybe we should aim for the insane.”
“World domination” Yuuji perked up.
“Down, Himmler,” Brad eyed him coldly. “I don’t know. Something,” he sighed, tucking into his food again.
“You would think after plotting all this time, you would have had something planned for afterward,” Yuuji said.
“I promised you Japan,” Brad remembered. “Here it is.” He waved his plastic cup around in a circle.
“You always were a cheap date,” Yuuji groused.
“Break it up,” Schuldig warned, seeing the too warm and cozy look they gave each other. “You never promised me a country, what do I get for all my hard work?”
“Your homeland is broke, trust me, you don’t want it any more,” Yuuji told him.
“Shut up, you. Well?” he asked Brad.
“You don’t need anything more than to be by my side,” Brad said calmly.
“Hyurk!” Nagi mimed sticking a finger down his throat.
Yuuji couldn’t help laughing and nearly lost his take out carton on the floor. Schuldig started pounding Nagi with a sofa cushion, while Tot who had been quiet and lady like up until now, armed herself in her man’s honor with another sofa cushion. Nagi’s laughter was innocently genuine as he did not use his talent, being too busy protecting his food.
Yuuji had to call for armistice when he realized with surprise that his phone was ringing. He stood up, fished it out of his back pocket and looked at it, then opened it. “Aya, what’s up?”
“My sister—she’s awake,” Aya said.
Yuuji felt a chill go up his back. “Is she—okay?”
“Seems to be,” Aya didn’t exactly sound thrilled. “They’re running head tests on her now. I—um—can you come over here?”
“Sure,” Yuuji heard himself say. “I’ll be right there. Where are you?”
“I’m in the lobby. I—don’t want to step outside,” Aya hesitated. “I’m afraid—I won’t be able to come back in.”
“Stay put, then,” Yuuji thought he knew what the guy meant. He shut the call off and put the phone back. “The girl’s awake,” he told them.
“Your bed, you made it,” was Brad’s comment.
“Yes,” Yuuji said. “Thanks for the meal.” A lot of him didn’t want to go. But he’d made a promise. There was a lot of Aya that didn’t make sense, but something about the guy made him think he’d found a decent enough partner. Once the sister thing was out of the way. “I’ll check back later.”
This ends this arc.