|Sheol Must Fall
Author: Psychoblue PM
Remaking my story "Sheol." A young Thai woman travels the world for the lover that has betrayed her, her adventures inadvertently drawing the attention and admiration of those around her and becoming caught in the conspiracy of the international crime syndicate known only as "Sheol."Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure - Chapters: 15 - Words: 80,178 - Reviews: 1 - Updated: 03-26-13 - Published: 03-06-13 - Status: Complete - id: 3106505
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Walking out of the fire exit with his bags in tow, Keiichi once again fought to urge to turn around and head back to the studio where Areva no doubt was looking for him. Areva was a relic from a past that Keiichi had no privilege to enjoy or yearn for. No matter how much Keiichi wanted to go to her, to apologize to her for dragging her through all of this torment, to be in her arms where he felt warm and safe, the organization came first. Keiichi had a duty to fulfill as one of the chief officers of Sheol, especially as someone that their leader was grooming at the next in line for leadership.
Too much planning had gone into positioning himself into that role. Too many years of sacrifice and humiliation of being that man's lapdog had passed so that he could be trusted with greater and larger missions. Too many hours of grueling training had been endured so that Keiichi could be strong enough as a martial artist to maintain respect in that position. Too many sins, too many betrayals, too many evil acts had been committed for Keiichi to throw it all away because of old attachments.
Walking at a quick pace, Keiichi felt his heart race as his mind continued to play tricks on him. For a moment, Keiichi was committed to finally confronting Areva and answering for his crimes against her. In hindsight, Keiichi felt like he should have had his head examined. A fight in that particular setting would have been broadcast to a global audience, which would for sure attract the attention of Sheol and its subsidiaries. Keiichi put a great deal of effort into convincing his superiors that Areva was of no threat to the organization: if a fight broke out, they would have reconsidered that stance and marked her for death.
Despite that, Areva claimed that Claude Badeau attacked her, even with Keiichi's warnings to his fellow chief officer not to harm her. Claude would have no reason to betray Keiichi unless he received an order from their leader. Was it already too late? Had Areva crossed enough lines that Sheol considered her a problem that needed to be dealt with? And what did it say about Keiichi, one of Sheol's top members, who was concerned for her safety and had gone through so much trouble so that he wouldn't have to choose between her and the organization?
So many questions, and the only thing Keiichi could do was escape once more to a place where Areva hopefully wouldn't find him.
"That woman literally traveled halfway across the world to find you."
Keiichi slowed his pace as he turned his head to see where the voice was coming from. It was not a voice he was familiar with, and for a moment he wondered if Keiichi just imagined someone saying what he had been thinking. Slowly turning back around, Keiichi almost bumped into a young man who was of similar height and build as himself, with his spiked blonde hair dyed with green streaks wearing a wire mesh shirt with navy blue pants. Keiichi turned to move past him, but the stranger stepped to the side to continue blocking his way. "Move out of the way," Keiichi growled.
"Not until you listen to what I have to say," the stranger replied as Keiichi stepped back. Waiting for the Japanese martial artist to toss his bag to the side, the stranger reached into his pocket and pulled out the unwelcome badge of a police officer. "My name is Fredrick Steinwald, and I'm from Interpol. There's some things I'd like to discuss with you about the organization called Sheol. I'm authorized to detain and arrest you if you do not cooperate."
Not only had Areva tracked him down, but now the police were starting to get hot on his trail. Keiichi briefly considered attacking the man and disabling him so that he could move on, but if an officer had tailed him all this way just to talk rather than outright arrest him, then perhaps there would be a non-violent alternative. Areva would no doubt figure out that Keiichi was no longer in the studio, and a fight with a police officer would draw needless attention. "I'm listening," Keiichi said quietly, putting his hands into his own pockets.
"I knew if I gave Areva enough clues, eventually she would draw me to you," Fredrick placed his badge back in his pocket as he watched Keiichi twitch, hitting a sensitive nerve. "Before you disappeared in Thailand for two months, I've had my eye on you since last February as one of the key witnesses in the Sheol case. We at Interpol even suspected you to be the mastermind behind the entire operation, but we couldn't find anything concrete to pin you on. Thanks to your cat-and-mouse game with Areva, now we can nail you on evading and resisting arrest."
"I thought you said you wanted to talk," Keiichi growled before removing his hands from his pockets and lifting them into a fighting stance. It would seem that a fight would be unavoidable after all.
Fredrick gave Keiichi a smug grin before continuing. "I just thought I'd tell you that I'm willing to drop those charges, and any other charges you might have, if you cooperate with my investigation into discovering the identity of the leader of Sheol." Keiichi turned his head in disgust, only brightening Fredrick's demeanor as he realized that he had the right man. "When I was creating a profile on you, I discovered a lot of things that made me think you'd be my friend. You joined the organization when your parents were killed during Sheol's hostile takeover of the Yakuza. You've been a very visible figure in the underworld since your teens, and there are a lot of very smart people who still think that you're the boss…but you're different. You don't play the game that the leader plays."
"…how do you figure that?" Keiichi grumbled, still avoiding eye contact.
"You have a conscience. You play by the rules when the other guys we have on our radar make their own," Fredrick answered bluntly. "Every operation you've been a part of, you've kept the body count to a minimum, whereas every other Sheol bid is usually full of dead bodies. The only death we have you down for is that murder of Siam Petchyindee…and given your behavior the past two weeks running away from his daughter, I have a feeling that there's more to that story than a simple murder."
"Then why don't you conduct another investigation?" Keiichi snapped back as he shot Fredrick a chilling glare that would have made anyone else doubt Fredrick's claims of him being averse to killing. "You come into my life out of nowhere, leading Areva into a conspiracy that she'll never find her way out of, ruining her chances of a normal life. I don't see any reason why I should give you anything other than a trip to the emergency room!"
"…threatening an officer," Fredrick deadpanned. "That is something I can also overturn, if you cooperate."
"Tell me what happened with Areva's father," Fredrick replied. "Give me your side of the story, and when I file a report, it'll look better when I convince my superiors to grant you amnesty for your cooperation."
The surprises continued as Keiichi wrapped his mind around what Fredrick was offering him. This officer, who wasn't much older than he was, appeared to him spouting off facts about him that were supposed to be a secret, especially the tidbit about his parents. Most police officers would bring out the handcuffs at the very suspicion that Keiichi was involved in Sheol's inner circle, yet Fredrick was offering Keiichi a clean slate if he told him what happened in Thailand? There had to have been some sort of catch, and Keiichi was now determined to see what it was.
"As you probably know by now, I've been with Sheol for a long time now, well before I entered my teens. After my parents were murdered by our leader, he immediately took me under his wing as a protege: I was only six years old at the time, and hadn't quite wrapped my head around what had happened. You're right about me being different from the others, but that's only because acting like them would mean following in that man's footsteps. If I've kept the body count to a minimum, it's only because I'm saving the gruesome stuff for when I finally move into a position where I can pay him back for what he did.
I pretended to be the good son, letting him parade me around his legitimate socials to show his philanthropy, and then show me ropes in the underworld, telling me that there are big things in store for me. I trained my mind and body to its limit, gradually earning more and more of his trust until I finally found my way into the inner circle. It didn't matter if it was arms smuggling, drug trafficking, money laundering, I'd be the star of the operation and ask if I could have another. It was looking as if I was finally going to be made the successor to the organization, and I would finally have my chance to take my birthright as the leader...but then he asked me something that I thought was beneath me. He asked me to go to Ayutthaya to get friendly with the locals until I could obtain a special breed of opium that they grew there.
For fifteen years I've done everything that man has said with no questions asked, afraid that even the slightest hint of disobedience would result in a delay of getting to where I need to be. This mission was no different, even if digging through opium fields were beneath someone of my rank. Our contacts there managed allowed me to stay at a village near the fields, led by a former champion Muay Thai fighter, under the pretense that I was a traveling martial artist looking to broaden my experiences. While I trained in the village, my subordinates searched for where the opium field was located.
Of course, Areva was curious about this outsider that came to her village training under her father's eye, and she became my sparring partner rather quickly. I've never had time or experience with relationships, always putting the organization first, so I didn't pay much attention to the way Areva was looking at me...at least at first. I've been around pretty girls before, but Areva was beyond just pretty. The way she fought, the way she laughed, the way she looked: she was nothing less than the perfect woman. Two weeks later, I was head over heels for her.
We gradually began spending more time together outside of training, our discussions becoming more and more intimate with each passing day, but it was taboo for members of Sheol to become attached to civilians without consent from the leader, and I was certain that our leader would reject my relationship with Areva. I didn't care: in fact, I didn't care about the mission or the organization anymore. I had a new reason for living, and that was to make Areva happy, and what made her happy was me being with her.
Eventually, word got out to our leader that I was shirking my duties and was consorting with the natives, so he contacted me and gave me an ultimatum. I was to leave Ayutthaya immediately with the requested amount of the opium, or he would burn the village to the ground along with its inhabitants. At that point, I finally realized the horrible thing I'd done. I had the audacity to fall in love with Areva, and put the organization second. This was something I couldn't allow, and I made plans to leave.
While our men were loading the opium in the truck, Areva's father found me packing my things to leave. I thanked him for working with me, but he wasn't going to let me go easy. He called me a coward, running away when I had given his daughter happiness and love. I pleaded my case, but he wouldn't have any of it, and eventually he figured out the real reason I was in Ayutthaya. He even asked me who I was working for, and I told him...and somehow, he recognized the name I gave him.
He told me that if I wanted to leave, I'd have to fight him to show that I was ready to graduate from his training. While we were fighting, he told me that the reason he retired was because our leader once faced him in battle, and beat him so badly that his body could no longer accept a regular boxing schedule. I wish I could say that I held back, but there was only one thing going through my mind at the time. The organization comes first, and would always come first. No matter how much my heart screamed to stay, my allegiance would be with Sheol.
He fell to the ground after what seemed like forever, but he wasn't angry. He told me that this was Buddha's will, and Areva would come looking for me. By fighting him and defeating him, I'd proven to him that I would watch over her and complete her training so that she could one day avenge him and defeat the man that ended his career. That didn't sit well with me one bit: our leader wouldn't stand for Areva being anywhere close to him, and would put the hit out on her in an instant. It didn't sit well with the other men either, because no sooner did he say that, one of them came over with a pistol and put a bullet through his brain."
"The next day, Thai customs officers showed up to investigate, and that's when Areva showed up and attacked the rest of my men."
"I see," Fredrick nodded as he finished writing in his pocket organizer and turned it off with a click. "Mr. Kobashi, the good news is that your testimony implies that murder charge you were worried about would only be an involuntary manslaughter charge. With the right lawyer, you could probably spin off that because you didn't fire the bullet that killed him, and your fight was consenting, you could get off completely free."
"...do you think I'm an idiot, detective?" Fredrick hissed as he again assumed his fighting stance. "I'm one of the highest-ranking officers in Sheol. I control a sizable portion of the world's organized crime activities, and there's no way that a detective of Interpol would just let me walk away with that. What's your scheme, and I better not hear anything about my story moving you or garbage like that. There's not a cop in this world with that little ambition."
"I might be a detective, but I'm not made of stone," Fredrick replied calmly before outstretching his hand in friendship. "Let's make a deal, Keiichi: tell me what I want to know, and I'll let you run back into Areva's arms with no-"
With a quick breath, Keiichi lifted his leg with lethal quickness and spun around for a buzzsaw-like roundhouse kick to Fredrick's head, finally having enough of the detective's arrogance. But instead of colliding with the thick skull of the officer, the Sheol officer hit nothing but air and smoke as his target suddenly faded away into the wind like an apparition. Confused at the officer's suddenly disappearance, Keiichi looked around to see where he might have gone. Was it possible that his mental conflict was so severe that he just imagined the officer being there?
Quickly darting around, Keiichi lifted his arms just in time to block a heel drop intended for the top of his head. The deliverer of the attack was none other than the officer he had hoped to send into a knockout slumber, only this time clearly dressed for battle. Strapped to Fredrick's torso was a black kevlar vest with Interpol's trademark "ICPO" initials plastered across it, while Fredrick's face was now covered with a pair of goggles and a metallic mask that covered his mouth. "You're doing it again, Keiichi," Fredrick said through a metallic tinge before backflipping away and landing gracefully on his feet. "You're attacking police officers and making my job harder."
"You're a fool if you think I'm going to let you just walk away without making you pay," Keiichi growled as he resumed his stance while Fredrick lifted his own stance. "I figured you weren't a run-of-the-mill police officer with all of the information you had on me: people our age don't rise to the rank of Interpol detective unless they have something else to show for it. You must be part of that special ops team I've been hearing about...Silent Scan, a ninja sect that answers directly to Interpol."
"If you know about Silent Scan, then I definitely picked the right guy to tail: only someone with access to secret police files would know of our existence," Fredrick replied as he and Keiichi slowly circled one another, waiting for their moment to strike. "Now, let me finish my offer before things get out of hand: give me the name of Sheol's leader, and I will let you walk free with a clear criminal record. Once I stab the heart, the rest of the body will die and we won't have to waste our time arresting the small fries."
"You willfully put Areva in harm's way to further your own ends," Keiichi snapped back before he suddenly dashed towards Fredrick with a full run. "If you think I'm telling you anything after what you've done to ruin her life, then you're even dumber than you look!"
Once he was within striking distance, Keiichi again went for a high roundhouse kick which Fredrick ducked under, but what he didn't realize was Keiichi wanted him to do just that. Stepping onto Fredrick's knee, Keiichi focused his fiery copper red ki into his opposite leg and drove his knee into the side of Fredrick's head, knocking him down onto his back with Keiichi now on top of him. Grabbing Fredrick by his neck, Keiichi reached back his fist and prepared to beat some respect into the fool who meddled into his affairs.
Just when the first punch was about to make impact, Fredrick once again vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving Keiichi to stumble forward with the lack of body supporting him. He wouldn't have to look long, as he noticed the world around him darken quickly, forcing him to look up to see Fredrick plummeting towards him with his fist shining with silver energy. Coming down too fast for Keiichi to block, Fredrick drove him gloving fist down upon Keiichi and put him on his back, pouncing on him before springing away with a twirling flip and landing on his feet.
"I did my best to protect her, but I wasn't going to stand by and let her wander around aimlessly when she was being targeted," Fredrick replied before reaching into one his pouches and pulling out a handful of throwing needles. Tossing them at Keiichi, Fredrick watched him swat them aside before coming at him with a rapid gallop. Once he was within range, Fredrick leapt forward with a spiraling cross crop to tackle Keiichi to the ground. Now Fredrick was the one in the dominant position, and he pulled out a pair of handcuffs to end the fight. "Besides, I don't have to explain myself to someone who abandons the woman he cares about and then runs away from he-URK!"
He didn't have a chance to use them as Keiichi wrapped his arm around Fredrick's neck and placed him in a guillotine choke. Cinching the hold in tight, Keiichi choked the air from Fredrick even as he stood up to attempt to get out of it. Keiichi gave Fredrick what he wished for and more by performing a forward flip and torqueing Fredrick's neck to send him spiraling to the ground while Keiichi landed on his feet. Fredrick quickly returned to his own feet, gasping for air while rubbing his neck. "That could have been really bad," Fredrick grumbled before quickly resuming his stance and waiting for the next move. "You're holding back? Thanks, friend!"
"Sorry...that was sloppy," Keiichi replied lowly as Fredrick once again vanished in a puff of smoke. With a smirk, Keiichi spun around with his leg ablaze and struck Fredrick in the head just as he appeared behind him, stunning him along enough for Keiichi to send him skyward with a standing uppercut infused with his fiery ki. Jumping after his opponent, Keiichi continued the punishment by striking the air-borne Fredrick with a jumping lariat, putting him into a tailspin and putting him back to the ground on his neck and shoulders. "Death's too good for someone like you!"
Fredrick rolled to his feet and again approached Keiichi with a rapid gallop, advancing quick enough to reach Keiichi before he could full stand up from his landing. Taking to the air, Fredrick delivered a snapping jump kick to Keiichi's chin, propelling him further the air with a second ascending kick before knocking him away with a third, more powerful aerial kick. Keiichi landed on his hands and flipped to his feet, but he didn't even have time to rub his jaw before Fredrick suddenly appeared behind him and sent him sprawling with a pair of silver palms ramming into his back.
"No matter how strong you are, you can't match my mastery of chakra," Fredrick scolded Keiichi as his opponent turned around and slowly raised his fists once more. Rather than attack immediately, Fredrick instead exhaled and placed his hands out in front of him. "Whew...shoot wrestling is a martial art that was only created in the last fifty years, but ninjutsu has centuries of secrets and refining behind it, evolving as the years past. As you are now, there's not much you can do."
"That's not what my foot said to your head," Keiichi replied with a smirk.
"M-minor oversight," Fredrick quickly resumed his fighting stance and waited for Keiichi to charge him. Breathing inwards, Fredrick quickly exhaled as he delivered an open-palmed strike to Keiichi's head, but he barely even touched the rims of the Japanese man's glasses and paid for his mistake with a snapping kick to his face. Keiichi immediately followed that kick with another strike from the same leg, and another, and another, and another until his foot was more akin to a jackhammer rapidly striking Fredrick's head and chest. After a countless number of kicks, Keiichi finished his flurry with a crescent kick that sent Fredrick spiraling away.
Fredrick landed on his hands and twisted to spiral back to his feet, and Keiichi was already ready and waiting with a flurry of punches. Fredrick parried the attacks until catching one errant punch, pulling Keiichi towards him until he had him in a rear waistlock. Having been in countless contests before this where an opponent would use that hold, and dreading whatever would follow, Keiichi instinctively trapped his foot between Fredrick's leg and blocked the grapple. Grabbing onto Fredrick's head, Keiichi fell to the ground and drove his shoulder into Fredrick's chin, stunning him enough to break the hold.
Turning around with a sinister glint in his eye, Keiichi took a step forward before driving the sole of his shoe into Fredrick's chin with a savate kick, his foot ignited with his fiery ki and launching Fredrick away like he had just been hit with a golf club. Again, Fredrick disappeared before he could land on the ground, putting Keiichi on alert to see where he would reappear next. Hearing a footstep behind him, Keiichi spun around for an elbow strike, but Fredrick caught the attack and wrapped the arm around Keiichi to put him in a straightjacket hold.
Flexing his legs, Fredrick rocketed into the air with Keiichi in tow, spiraling in a somersault motion like a pinwheel and taking his victim along for the ride. Keiichi tried to think of some way to get out of the manuever unharmed, but he couldn't think of anything in time as rotational velocity was used to drive Keiichi's neck and shoulders into the ground with a modified izuna drop. Jumping away from Keiichi with another spiraling flip, Fredrick raised his stance and waited for Keiichi to stand back up...but the shoot wrestler was considerably slower standing up this time than the last.
"Now that I finally have your attention," Fredrick said as he slowly walked towards his opponent still kneeling on the ground. "Maybe you'll be interested in hearing the full details of my sales pitch. I think you'll change your opinion of me once you hear me out."
Does this idiot ever stop talking? He must be one of those guys who's in love with his own voice, Keiichi thought to himself as the stars in his head cleared and he could once again get a good bearing on where his opponent was. Fredrick was definitely faster than he was, which was a problem as Keiichi usually relied on his speed to defeat his enemies, but Keiichi could at least take solice in the fact that their overall skill levels were about equal. If only he could get in one good shot...
"Talk," Keiichi said with as much sweetness as rock salt, "since you seem so good at that."
"I was given complete control of Interpol's investigation of Sheol, so I have authorization to pull a few strings when it comes to making deals. From what you told me, the only things we have official against you are involuntary manslaughter, evading arrest, and assualting police officers. Assaulting police officers will take some time to smooth out, but I'm confident I can convince my superiors to let you walk free with a new life ahead of you," Fredrick explained, standing over Keiichi and folding his arms. "You're a bright young man, Keiichi, and a strong one, at that. I don't see why you can't use your talents for the good of-"
"Don't talk to me like I'm some teenager. You're not much older than I am," Keiichi growled as he stared at Fredrick with defiance in his eyes. "Get to the point."
"Tell me the name of who you work for, and I'll let you walk free," Fredrick said sternly. "Whatever issue Areva has with you, I'm sure it can be smoothed out if you tell her what you told me. Just stop running away and face what you've done. Repent for your sin and recover your life, because if you honestly believe what you say about wanting to make Areva happy, then you'll walk away from Sheol and tell me who the mastermind behind the operation is."
Keiichi's eyes fell to the ground as the rage in his voice subsided. "A name...that's all you want? No interrogations, no secret plans...just a name, and I go free?"
"I promised Areva that I would help her find you, and I intend to keep that promise," Fredrick leaned down and outstretched his hand to help Keiichi back to his feet. "What happened in that village is between the two of you, and I can respect that...but I can't let you walk away until you give me that name. If you don't, how do you expect me to believe that you really have Areva's best interests in mind?"
Keiichi looked at the hand for a moment before slowly gripping it and allowing Fredrick to assist him in standing up. Lifting his head to look at Fredrick's eyes covered with the goggles, the young man slowly nodded his head. "You want my secrets? How about I start by giving you…THIS!?"
Gripping Fredrick's hand with a crushing handshake, Keiichi sprayed a blast of colored mist into the detective's face, staining his goggles and temporarily blinding him. The officer quickly pulled away to rub the liquid from his goggles, but it was a moment of hesitation that Keiichi needed to focus his ki into his right leg until it burned with the fury of the sun. As soon as Fredrick stumbled back around to face his attacker, Keiichi stepped onto the detective's knee and drove his foot into his head with a burning backflip kick, with the impact of the attack emitted a loud crack through the air like a bat hitting a baseball.
Fredrick careened through the air and landed in a heap, his body sprawled out like a rag doll while Keiichi landed gracefully on his feet. "I was listening right up until you mentioned Areva, you pig," Keiichi growled as he walked over to where Fredrick was lying motionless on the pavement. "As sick as it makes me, I was considering taking your offer, but then you had to go and mention Areva again like you actually cared about her. Now I need to teach you a lesson in…respect…"
Keiichi reached down to pick Fredrick up by his collar, but recoiled when Fredrick's head drooped to the side like it was attached to the rest of his body by a rubber band. Keiichi had knocked out countless fools with that technique, but this was the first time he had broken someone's neck with it. The ninja did not move a muscle, and the mechanical breathing from his mask had gone silent. "…it was your own fault," Keiichi said solemnly before pushing the corpse back to the ground and falling onto one knee. "You should have kept Areva out of this. Now there's no way out…for me, or for her…"
Keiichi lowered his head to pay his fallen opponent his final respects, but the dark moment was shattered with another puff of smoke, the corpse dissipating like it hadn't been there at all. Quickly opening his eyes, Keiichi stood up and waited for the next move, but Keiichi's voice came from several meters away, standing from the roof of a car parked in the lot. "You can think what you like, but I do have Areva's best interests in mind," the detective said as he massaged his neck. "At least now I've confirmed that so do you…and again, I don't see why you can't use your talents for good."
"I have my reasons for doing what I do," Keiichi retorted as he walked over to his bags and picked them up. "No matter how much I want out, it's too late to go back now. What you're asking of me is too much, and quite frankly, I don't trust-"
Cutting off Keiichi's conversation was the familiar voice of the woman he abandoned, calling his name out in the distance. Turning around to make another escape, he almost bumped directly into the detective that leapt from the roof of the stand and landed right in front of him. "Out of my way," Keiichi growled, "or I'll make sure you die for real."
"Give me a name," Fredrick said sternly.
"I told you that-"
Keiichi growled once more before lowering his head and relenting. "The Blast Zone in Manhattan. That's where Sheol holds most of its recruiting tests."
"Is that where I'll find the leader?" Fredrick interrogated.
"You'll get the clues you'll need to find him…if you don't die trying." Keiichi replied with quiet anger as Fredrick finally stepped aside and let him pass. "But be warned, detective: if you endanger Areva again, or lead her into another hornet's nest like the Nine Gates…I will use all of my sway in Sheol to make sure that you die painfully."
"Then let me promise you something: I will protect her with my life," Fredrick retorted as Keiichi quickly made himself scarce, just as Areva was starting to come to their direction. "I'm a police officer, and I serve and protect…even if it's serving someone like you."
Areva finally reached Fredrick just as he removed his mask and goggles. "I…I found him, officer," Areva said with a smile. "He was right in front of me, and I could tell that he still cared about me. If we look around, I'm sure we can find him!"
"…you just missed him. I tried to catch him, but he blasted me with that mist and by the time I cleared it off, he was gone," Fredrick lied before putting his hands on Areva's shoulders. "But we're close, Areva: now we know for sure where we can find him next…and once we find him, he won't be running away again. I'll make sure of it!"