The Devil's Spice Volume 1 Chapter 5
Chapter Five: Blanched
Masayoshi reviewed the documents in his hands as he mentally practiced the presentation he would soon be delivering. On the papers were headers that read, “Compact Tubular Batteries for Artificial Musculature and Skeleton (ARMS)” and “Future Investment Partnership.”
“What time is it?” asked Masayoshi, his foot tapping nervously on the vehicle flooring.
“1:37, sir,” said the driver on his right. Masayoshi rode shotgun when he read in the car to avoid nausea. Two more bodyguards were in the backseat of the SUV.
“Aren’t we cutting it close? I can’t be late for this presentation.”
“Understood. I will raise our speed.”
The driver added pressure to the gas pedal as he signalled right to overtake the van in front.
Masayoshi did not remove his eyes from the documents. He knew the importance of this meeting. He needed to convince Chiba about the NGC partnership. Even if they were friends, he still needed a decent proposal to sway the CEO. Nikaidou had already transferred the money. Failure was not an option.
Heading to the Excell Corporation main office, the vehicle turned onto the main street of Akihabara. They were greeted by a sea of people of various ages occupying the space on the road. The SUV ground to a stop in front of the human barricade.
What is this?
People were dressed in a wide array of colorful costumes. Masayoshi commuted regularly to the Akiba office, so he was used to the otaku culture in the area, but the sea of people on the road was immense enough to surprise him.
“Is there an event going on? Why was the road not blocked?”
“There should be no street events today, sir. The route is always checked for such things.”
“Check better then! Katou, go out there and see if you can get them to move. If going forward is impossible, we’ll back up and find a different route.”
Katou, who was one of the men at the back, opened the right rear door. The noise of the crowd rushed into the SUV.
“They said there was a bomb in the building...” said a girl with long, green hair holding a yellow plush toy.
“Whoa, scary stuff. Lucky I was near the exit,” replied a girl with brown wolf ears and a tail.
Numerous similar murmurs reached Masayoshi’s ears as he lamented his own bad luck.
Ageha calmly walked up to the man who got out of the SUV and sank a knife into his chest. The action had no wasted movement, and the man could only react with an “Eh?” before he was pushed aside and fell to the ground.
The guard in the rear saw only the latter part but quickly reacted. “Sir, please get out of the car!”
Ageha, having already ducked his head inside the vehicle, realized that there was a hole in Kaika’s plan. Masayoshi was in the front seat.
You dropped the ball on this one, Kai.
Looking befuddled, Masayoshi followed the guard’s instructions. Ageha was about to go back out of the vehicle and give chase when he saw the guard sitting in front of him take out a handgun from his chest holster.
Not having enough time to dodge, Ageha raised both arms to cover his face and neck as he backed out. Gunshots reverberated in the small space. The bullets ricocheted off of Ageha’s ARMS. One of the deflected bullets lodged itself into the abdomen of the guard who fired it.
“Is it an event?”
“Look, there’s a guy on the ground!”
The voices increased as people surrounded the SUV. They started taking out their terminals and cameras to capture the moment.
The driver escaped from the vehicle and chased after Masayoshi, who had scrambled away. Ageha decided to ignore the injured guard and gave pursuit. He leapt over the SUV to avoid circling it.
“What the!? He jumped so high!”
People cheered. Nonstop camera flashes glittered from the crowd.
I knew this blending in plan was a bad idea…
Ageha clicked his tongue as he remembered Kaika’s smug mug when she told him to wear the costume she prepared. She argued that his usual combat outfit might cause people to take note of him because it didn’t match the event’s theme.
It’s harder to move in these clothes, and my vision is narrower.
He wore a black trenchcoat and pants of the same color. The material was not the skin-tight, flexible one used in his combat suit, so it was damaged by the shots earlier. A white mask with two small eyeholes and a red slit resembling a smile covered his face.
Ageha slowly caught up to the driver by weaving left and right between costumed bystanders. He was significantly delayed by the throng of people blocking his way while trying to take pictures of him. The driver looked back and stopped when he saw Ageha catching up. He pulled out a knife.
Good thing the guy has common sense.
Ageha did not want to unnecessarily involve bystanders, but that would be almost impossible in a gunfight. Thinking that there was enough space for combat, Ageha did not stop his run. He switched to a forward grip and slashed towards the driver’s throat. The man leaned back and avoided the strike. Expecting this, Ageha curved the knife trajectory downward. The blade snaked towards the driver’s knife hand.
A metallic screech resulted from the contact.
The slash only scratched the surface and was not enough to disarm the driver. The driver threw a left that connected with Ageha’s face.
Ageha’s vision swayed, but he managed to not get knocked down by twisting his head in the direction of the blow. Using the rotational momentum, he spun around while simultaneously ducking and attacking. He sliced open the driver’s left thigh, which caused him to stagger. Using the opportunity, Ageha drilled a fierce uppercut into the driver’s chin. The force launched the driver upward before he crashed into the ground.The weights of their blows were far too different.
If both his arms were cybernetic… Ageha shuddered at the possibility.
Thinking that the fight was a show, the people around them clapped their hands and cheered in excitement. Ageha looked for his target beyond the crowd. Masayoshi was still in sight but quite a distance away. Ageha pushed off the road and continued the hunt. In a panic, Masayoshi entered an alley where electronics were sold on tables. He started turning those tables over to hinder his pursuer. It actually worked because the angry merchants manning the tables thought Ageha was Masayoshi’s companion and tried to stop him.
Ageha thought about throwing his knife at the corrupt businessman, but there were too many people browsing the stores between them. Ageha knew that if he lost sight of his target, he would have a hard time finding him again before the authorities could intervene.
An old shop owner, whose merchandise was scattered, grabbed the hem of Ageha’s trenchcoat and got dragged to the ground by Ageha’s momentum. Ageha was forced to stop to prevent the man from being shredded by the rough concrete. He looked to Masayoshi, who was now about to exit the alley.
If I don’t get him before he crosses the street..!
But it was too late. Ageha could not use his speed in such a congested location. He could have trampled over the shoppers to reach Masayoshi, but he chose not to because he thought he could catch him regardless. He miscalculated.
Masayoshi, fueled by adrenaline, ran as fast as a professional athlete. He sped across the street while maintaining his manic sprint.
And got run over by a truck.
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