City Series:Volume3a Chapter 2
Act 2: Take a Reason (5:13)
Hong Kong Yard’s main office was in the Kowloon administrative district in the center of Hong Kong’s Kowloon Peninsula.
At first glance, the building looked like a giant bridge. Specifically, a bridge made of junk.
There were a few different reasons for that.
First, the first floor had been entirely removed to make a parking lot for tanks and motorcycles.
Second, the building was connected to Kowloon’s shopping district to form one giant piece of artwork.
And third, gathering all those different buildings created a mosaic of varying structures.
Hong Kong Yard had been created when the British Hong Kong Force had been privatized. Morning was currently arriving there.
The pale light reached the bricks, the wooden walls, and the windows that contained giant bars instead of glass.
The sunlight gradually grew.
It was most bright on the eastern end of the second floor where a single white wall miraculously continued for five whole meters.
That was the center of the Yard’s headquarters where about three hundred people worked.
If one followed the light and looked in through the windows, one would see facilities far more refined than the exterior suggested.
In a room that looked like a great hall, partitions were set up between the different divisions and personnel were gathered at all of the desks.
Expensive-looking sofas were lined up by the windows.
Currently, one person was sitting in a sofa with their back to the white sky.
It was a woman wearing a men’s suit.
Her unrounded glasses eliminated any kindness in her expression, but her braided hair gave her a feminine look that looked out of place with her suit.
“Kouga,” she said. “Have the newspapers caught scent of it?”
She was speaking to a desk near the window.
The young man at the desk had a blonde pompadour and wore a red Hawaiian shirt that did not at all suit the city of Hong Kong.
Despite his appearance, he nodded respectfully to his boss and showed her the newspaper he held.
“Yup. It’s front page news. They’re even speculating about the breakup of Archs RDC and its collapse as a corporation. …But they’re missing one important thing.”
“The predicted unemployment rate? Your calculations said this would leave nearly 5% of Hong Kong’s laborers unemployed, right?”
“And most of those workers are fathers, so their families are in trouble too.”
That meant three to five times that number would have no way to put food on the table.
“I’d like to think they realized the truth but decided not to print it because they didn’t want to cause a panic,” said Rin as she pushed up her glasses. “There’s nothing fun about this case. Not only is the secret king of Hong Kong dead, but it happened in a strange ‘suicide’.”
“That’s right. Did you see Huang Daquan’s face?”
“Yes. For some reason, an ageless Archs had grown old.”
“What does that mean?”
“If only I could see his Live. …I’ve seen that kind of aging once before.”
“I don’t have any proof yet, but I’ll tell you eventually. …But Huang’s death was probably suicide after he aged liked that. Maybe it’s some new kind of disease.”
“Sure,” said Kouga.
After a pause, he gave a small sneeze.
Rin glanced his way and reached for the window blind.
It was bright outside and comfortably sunny, but she blocked out that light with the blind.
“Oh, don’t worry about me, boss. Even if I am part vampire.”
“It was too bright for me.”
She ignored his question.
Instead, she let out a quiet bitter laugh.
“But those Nein Engels have caused us quite the problem with only half a month until Hong Kong is returned to China.”
“Rough, isn’t it? Especially since this is your last chance.”
“Are you talking about Fei?”
“You haven’t found him after five years of searching, right?”
“Don’t worry about it. It isn’t your problem.”
“But this time when Hong Kong can act on its own is your chance to-…”
“I said it isn’t your problem.”
Rin’s tone silenced Kouga.
After a while, he cleared his throat and opened the newspaper again.
“What kind of person was this Huang Daquan guy?”
“A dictator. According to the General anyway.”
“He died at age 140. All I really know about him is that he was an Archs born in Hong Kong and his father was an Archangel. If his personal history is to be believed, he used the confusion of World War One to create Archs RDC and bring it under his control.”
“The article says Archs RDC supports the Nein Engels living in Hong Kong Cave while gaining heavenly knowledge from them by… I can’t read this character.”
“Basically, the corporation was made to eliminate the past stigma about Nein Engels. If Huang had lived another hundred years, the Nein Engels probably could have left Hong Kong Cave without having anything to fear.”
“If only they could all come out like Akira.”
“She’s a special case. But…”
“This is a strange suicide, isn’t it? He died of massive blood loss, but not a single blood stain was found in his home.”
“You sent out a familiar to search for the blood stains, didn’t you?”
Kouga nodded as if to say that was only natural.
At the same time, the door into the headquarters opened.
The person who walked in was an old man with a bent back who wore the jumpsuit of the tank force. His gray hair and narrow eyes gave him an Asian appearance, but he had another defining feature to his face.
He had a large scar from a blade on his right cheek.
Rin quickly stood and bowed when she saw him. Kouga followed suit.
“Good morning, General. You’re here early.”
The old man known as the General narrowed his eyes that already only looked like lines and he waved a hand for the two of them to sit.
“What’s with you two? It’s normal for an old man to be up early in the morning.”
He stroked the scar on his cheek and sat in his seat by the window.
He was known as a hero who once saved Hong Kong, but he did not act self-important in the slightest. He turned his back on all the papers scattered across his desk and rotated his chair toward Rin and Kouga.
“It seems somethin’ weird happened last night, so this morning, my wife insisted I actually work every day ‘til Hong Kong’s returned to China. I can’t stand this.”
“Oh, your imaginary wife again?”
“She ain’t imaginary. She’s just too good to let anyone else see.”
“I’d love to see this supposed wife of yours someday,” said Rin with a small smile.
Kouga gave a cheerful smile of his own.
“Don’t say that, boss. The General’s hatred of Nein Engels and guests is legendary.”
“Don’t both of you start makin’ things up. How ‘bout fillin’ me in on this incident instead?”
“The one about Archs RDC? Or the Qinghu from last night?”
“Both of ‘em were on the news. What I’m interested in is the death. Y’know, the one about that Buster. You two handled that one, right?”
“If you mean J-Gun Maldrick, I just finished the report earlier. It came in after the news about Huang Daquan, so it took some time.”
The General leaned back in his chair, crossed his legs, and suddenly showed his teeth in a smile.
“I’ve got a bad feelin’ about this. On the same night a big shot Nein Engel dies, Hong Kong’s top Buster falls from the sky and dies. …Is Akira still not here?”
“I had her take the day off until noon since I had her show up last night when she was off duty.”
“Well, that’s too bad.”
The General gave the bitter smile of someone who found the person waiting for them was not there.
“Do you need Akira for something?” asked Kouga.
“Just a little somethin’. On my way here, the folks at Aberdeen said some of ‘em saw an Earth Serpent out at sea last night.”
“An Earth Serpent?”
Kouga tilted his head, so Rin explained.
“It’s a powerful Live form associated with the earth. The great beast takes an Octave of over 20,000,000 to control, so you could almost call it a fantasy. It’s one of the Death Technos of Tuning.”
“Well, there haven’t been any records of a dragon showin’ up in about a century and an Earth Serpent would appear below Hong Kong, not out at sea. They probably saw it wrong.”
“J-Gun was a Buster, so he wouldn’t be able to create a dragon.”
“I was hopin’ to ask Akira if she knows anyone who could do somethin’ like that. Do you, Rin?”
“I’m the most powerful one I know and I can only control an Octave of 320,000. As you well know.”
She shook her head.
The General nodded and scratched his head with a thin smile on his lips.
“Well, if Akira was too busy to be makin’ that dragon, I really do feel like somethin’ bad’s gonna happen.”
It was just before noon on the seventy-second floor of the Archs RDC headquarters building.
One wall of the hall was entirely covered with windows which gave a sense of vertigo unique to elevated areas.
Several chairs were lined up in a row. The chairs were pointed in different directions and papers covered in lots of typed text were scattered over the thick carpet.
Earlier, a press conference on Archs RDC President Huang Daquan had been held here.
Once the press conference had ended, the reporters packed inside had all left.
Only one person remained in the room. A six-winged Nein Engel sat in a chair in the center of the floor as he stared out the window.
He was the Seraph who had been on Beaufort Island the night before.
He held a multi-page report and looked down on the city of Hong Kong.
His eyes moved.
First, he saw a large park in Kowloon.
Next, it was the buildings of the coastal Tsim Sha Tsui area.
His gaze moved across the sea to Hong Kong Island’s Central business district.
Lastly, he looked to Hong Kong Cave in the center of Hong Kong Island. The deep hole looked like a giant had dug it for fun.
“It all starts with Hong Kong Cave.”
As he spoke, he heard a quiet noise behind him.
It was only the sound of the elevator arriving, so it was not worth turning around.
“I’ve finished settling things on my end, Double Lee.”
The Nein Engel did turn around once his Urban Name had been called.
Two other Nein Engels stood in front of the elevator in a corner of the hall.
One was a Galgallin. Befitting of a combat Nein Angel, his tall body had been almost entirely remade into an assault Custom Body.
No wings stuck out from the back of his black combat jacket. If not for the unique shape of his Custom Body, he would have been indistinguishable from a human.
The other was a female Nein Engel. She wore a suit and had four wings.
She was one of the Cherubim said to control light in the Bible.
She lightly brushed a hand through her brown hair which was cut at shoulder length.
“After all the work Master Huang put into making it, this means the end of Archs RDC, doesn’t it? Come to think of it, we were the only Nein Engels working here. If only we’d brought more here.”
“There is no helping that now. We simply have to continue on as Master Huang decided. Double Lee, what do you plan to do? The four ADs used in the ceremonies are one thing, but we have lost our method of creating the final one.”
Double Lee stood.
“True. I do think I made a bit of a mistake last night. I also lost one bottle of the blood taken from Master Huang’s body. Genius, I’m sorry about what happened to J-Gun.”
Her brown-spotted wings moved a bit when she heard that.
“It doesn’t really matter.” She took a breath. “He’s just a human, so he couldn’t enter heaven anyway. And I once saw a picture of his old lover. …She looked a lot like me.”
She touched her short hair as she spoke.
Double Lee shrugged when he noticed that action.
“Oh, dear. It seems I’ve offended you. What about you, Fei?”
The Galgallin’s false eyes glowed red behind his mirrorshades.
“I ordered the guard unit to leave. Even if other corporations gather, there is no clear target to protect here. I have written letters of recommendation for all of the personnel. For foreign corporations.”
Double Lee put the report he held into his pocket.
“What a pain. I was reading through Master Huang’s notes. Looking at it again, he really gave us one hell of an order upon his death.”
“Yes. If it hadn’t been for his abnormal aging, he probably could have used a different method.”
“Restoring heaven, hm? Double Lee, how is your sister? Does she know about this?”
Fei’s question brought a sudden change to Double Lee’s expression. It grew dark.
He must have noticed himself because he soon lowered his head.
He gave a forced groan of thought and looked back up. By that time, his expression was back to normal.
“Akira probably hasn’t noticed. She’s no different from a human.”
“She left Hong Kong Cave and joined the Yard instead of Archs RDC, right? That’s pretty amazing,” said Genius.
“It’s obvious she is being persecuted, though. Just like your parents.”
“Fei, wasn’t it the same for your parents?”
“Perhaps, but I have lost those memories along with my emotions. I showed you the scar from my Psyche Outer surgery, didn’t I?”
After a pause, Double Lee spoke.
“Well, that persecution will end before long. …What matters now is the final Device. In other words, the fifth one J-Gun died before completing.”
“Genius, you said J-Gun had a brother, right? Could you find him?”
“I doubt that would work.”
“J-Gun once said he doubted his brother could ever make a Device.”
“…? A human of the Maldrick family can’t create a Device?”
“I don’t know what he meant, but I did hear that brother has a prosthetic right hand.”
“I see,” said Double Lee with a nod.
Tuners and Busters had to touch their Devices to send their Live through it. And it had to be with a flesh-and-blood body part.
“In that case, Genius, we will have to find J-Gun’s corpse and use necromancy on him. Is that okay?”
Genius just about said something on reflex when she heard the word “necromancy”, but she stopped herself.
Double Lee must have taken her silence as consent because he nodded.
“Good. You take care of the preparations.”
He then began to walk toward the other two and the elevator.
“Now that we have a plan, it’s time we left this place. The humans can have this company.”
He took a breath and said one last thing as if speaking to himself.
“Because we will have heaven.”
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