Bondages

By: Kristine Mariz U.

Chapter 8: New moon: Project Artemis

'Fiancée.' Soujirou thought fuming at the mere thought of it. 'What was Azuma Michiko thinking?' He snapped inwardly as he stormed the halls of the Arts building. His fast strides gradually slowed down when he recalled Karin's scared face.

It looked like she was ready to jump out of her skin anytime.

Damn it all! Now there'll be no way he can approach her! His gaze softened.

"I'm—so-sorry…" She stuttered backing away and hitting Kazuya's steel-like chest.

By God! Did he look like a demon? Did he scare the skin out of her with just that gaze? Damn it. He put a hand near his red orbs. These demon eyes… He sighed. He was just— he was just angry and scared for her sake. It was so damned frustrating; how he cowardly walked out of that session and let the bastard Kazuya get to his nerves.

In his mind, a flash of his treacherous smirk pulled a string in his brain and he soon stopped walking.

"Damn it." He muttered as he, with one swift motion turned to his heel and walked back to the conference room. Damn it!

XxxxxxOxxxxxX

Somewhere near the Minamoto Residence, a red Ferrari stopped just a few yards from the other side of the road, near the gate. The tinted glass was automatically pulled down by its female owner and from the car window keen brown eyes gleamed with a mysterious emotion.

"You sure have some guts, Minamoto Kazuya." She whispered as she held a few loose strands of her dark brown hair. And then, with one fluid motion, she grabbed her phone and tapped some numbers and waited for the receiver to answer her call.

Ring, Ring, Ring, Click. "You called, Phoenix." A deep male voice said. Phoenix cleared her throat and replied:

"Raven's not responding to my call, Eagle."

"He was supposed to attend a very important meeting today. He called me."

"What! And he didn't even bother to call me?!"

"He's just worried about you."

"Damn it!"

"Phoenix, ever since her death, he's blamed himself for it."

She paused for a while and bit her pink lip. "What's he up to?" She managed a steady voice.

Eagle sighed. "High school. He's after an unknown client. Or so he says. 'Have looked up and discovered it was the owner of a prestigious university."

"Client? In a university?"

"Something very controversial yet well fabricated. He's investigating it." There was a brief pause. "By the way they said you're off to look up the Minamoto-prodigy?"

"He's accessed our mainframe and downloaded some files."

"Files?" Eagle asked, perplexed. Phoenix sighed. "Cash release from my late grandmother's account."

"How can he go through all of our security systems? And what will he do with all those documents?"

"I have researched a bit and it seemed like my grandmother funded a project in Ichihara University."

"What project?"

"Project Artemis."

"Artemis? The Moon goddess Luna?"

"Yes. It's supposed to be an annual school event implemented one year ago during the beginning of the lunar calendar but an accident happened."

"I heard about it. Was it about the girl who was later on attacked after being awarded as the Moon goddess? 'Heard she's vanished after the incident."

"Yes, indeed she vanished. It was filed as an accident though because bringing it to everyone after publicizing the event to investors and shareholders would ruin the school's well stacked-up reputation. I think it got Mr. Student council president suspicious. Since the distribution of the money was…dissected. Of course, we can't blame the stupid guy, the media swarmed on the news when it leaked out. " She bit her lip after saying the term. "I myself am suspicious that she sent the fund to the students' personal accounts."

"Ah~ I get it. And those people are currently connected with Minamoto?"

"Yes. It is suspicious but I cannot have him putting his nose into something that concerns all of us."

"He accessed the main frame pretty easily. He's quite impressive."

"You shouldn't be impressed with that dork." Phoenix deadpanned. There was a laugh on the other line.

"The kid and his side-kicks are very talented they could bring us down in minutes. Better be careful, 'heard he was more perceptive than an ordinary kid…thinking all through that."

"Anyway, when you are able to contact Raven again, do call me back."

"Want me to check up on Minamoto?"

"Sure. Send it to me by e-mail." She paused when she saw a black Rolls Royce stop by the huge gate of the enormous residence. "That's strange. Why's he back this early?"

"Kazuya? That's impossible he's still in his meeting."

"But his car…" She grabbed her favorite pair of Chris Dior shades and said, "I'll call again later. Please find me a hole to bust through Minamoto Kazuya." She slipped he sunglasses on.

"Sure thing."

**Click!**

**Ding. Ding. Ding.**

Phoenix stepped out of her car and watched the signal light of the vehicle. For some odd reason, she felt like there was someone in there that she's met before. Her heart beat rapidly as she snatched a retractable katana that belonged to her sister. She hid it carefully in a secret pocket of her blazer and began to cross the street, carrying an envelope with fake documents in it.

"Ojou-sama." (A/n: It's the Japanese term for 'young lady.') The chauffeur said looking at her from the mirror. "The young master said you should go and rest in the sunshine room."

"The sunshine room?"

"We call it that because every time the sun is about to set it is filled with the golden rays of the setting sun. It also has a nice view of the rose garden."

Karin's eyes lit up. "Rose garden?"

"Yes, ojou-sama."

"Ah~ I can't wait!" She cried excitedly smiling full beam at the fatherly chauffeur. "Let's go there!"

"I will ask the maids to assist you there." He replied raising his hat a little, his gray eyes never leaving her from the mirror. "However, I am afraid that I cannot go."

"But ojii-san…" Karin began quietly. "I'll be all alone in there. Please have tea with me." The older man looked at her sadly for a moment

"I am afraid that those are strict orders that were given to us."

"Why?"

"You are still my young lady. I cannot simply accompany you. The young master will be enraged."

"But—"She managed looking at her lap. When she opened her mouth to say something, a light tap cam from her window. From the mirror, the older man's eyebrows furrowed.

And then, with one fluid motion, he pulled out a long red wig and pair of sunglasses then, handing it to his mistress said cautiously, "Please put these on. We cannot let anyone know you are staying with the young master."

Karin bit her lip to hide her disgust. Well, not to the fatherly driver, but to the cause of all her discomfort. Reluctantly, she took the given items and put it on making sure to slip into another character that was too foreign for her own.

That's strange. She thought inwardly as she slipped on the glasses. Since when did that kind of thought occur? Acting like another person. Her hands twitched a little when the driver automatically rolled down the bulletproof window.

"Morning ma'am!" The driver of the Rolls Royce greeted as he slightly lifted his hat with a smile. Phoenix inwardly grunted.

"Good morning sir, I sincerely apologize for talking to you here but may I know if this is the Minamoto residence?"

"Indeed it is." He replied smiling gently. "However I'm afraid that I am not the right person that you should talk to if you are to make transactions with the family."

Phoenix nodded to herself and said, "I am sorry, I was just a bit lost in the area, I have just arrived from California, you see." She inclined her head a little and noticed a young lady sitting still at the passenger seat. She was intrigued by the feeling of familiarity with the said person. Snapping back to her self, she straightened up and saluted informally to the driver.

"I will come again sometime with proper notice." She bowed slightly. "Thank you very much."

The older man slightly nodded his head, "You're welcome, miss."

As the tinted glass of the vehicle slid shut, the chauffeur turned to his mistress.

"I am glad she didn't talk to you, ojou-sama."

She gave the older man a polite nod and sighed.

Phoenix snatched her phone from its car stand and auto-dialed Eagle's number.

Ring. Ring. Ring

*Click!*

"Yeah?"

"Indeed this is where he lives."

"It seemed like it hardly surprised you."

"True enough." She sighed and recalled the young lady that was in the car. "I was even more surprised to know that he was living with an ojou-sama."

"Ojou? Now that's intriguing."

"Indeed." She answered faintly.

"What's wrong?"

"I don't now… It felt as if…" She bit her lip. "I have met her somewhere before."

"Who? The young lady?"

"Yes. But I didn't recognize her face."

"You're getting me confused here."

"Damn it, I mean I feel like I know her, but I couldn't recognize her physical appearance… I just…feel it." There was a groan on the other line.

"Ooh~ could it be women's intuition?"

"Just check it out… who the great Minamoto Kazuya's been living with…recently."

"Well I'll try to touch that."

"Thanks." She replied entering her car and revving up the engine. I'll get back to you sometime next week."

"Sure."

"Double thanks." Phoenix whispered as she flipped her phone close and glanced at the mansion. "Ojou-sama…huh?"

Back at the Ichihara University In the Counseling room #2

**SLAM!**

The contents of the brown envelopes spread across the long mahogany table.

"Explain these to me directly." Kazuya demanded icily pricking the souls of everyone inside the room except for himself and Keisuke. His blue eyes flared angrily.

"So you will understand my justification as to why I threw you out of your offices."

"Cash deposits, receipts in various accounts, no wait…these are deposits in your personal accounts performed under the table after the Artemis project." Keisuke muttered quietly flipping through the pages of his copy.

"Strange, too. The cash flow was dated after the accident."Koujima commented as he quietly outlined the column with his finger.

"The one that was filed as an accident, it would seem." Soujirou muttered starring at the shocked officers.

Hamisa scanned the envelopes and stopped at one particular piece of paper.

"This is…" She whispered separating the paper from the rest of the documents. "This the copy of the medical certificate."

"Where did you get all these?" Mizuki, the ex-auditor cried bolting up from her seat.

"I have sources." Kazuya replied coldly. "Since you're the first one to stand up, you explain. First, the crime."

Mizuki shot her allies a sharp look, realizing the fact that she'd been deemed as their sacrificial lamb.

Shit.

When she didn't budge, the raven-haired guy pulled out a newspaper article and said, "I do hope this sounds familiar;" he flipped it over and read the headline,

The Podium Issue 16

"Triple Bad Luck: Ichihara University cancels its annual event,

Project Artemis, Binned; Student In critical Condition"

**SLAM!**

"Speak." Kazuya ordered icily, his hands flat on the table's surface. "Tell me what's been wrong in the brains of my former colleagues!" He demanded. "Tell me why you agreed to be bribed to do this despicable act! Who was it that committed this crime!"

"Strange it is…" Hamisa commented scanning through the documents. "If she just fell from the elevation when the steel stairwell collapsed, she could have gotten minor injuries like concussion to a few fractures…strange it is indeed that the victim had obtained more than that."

"Bruises at the back, a broken arm, a head injury caused by a strong blow…It seemed like she was planned to be killed right then and there." She added.

"This news got the media suspicious…of how the CSG (Central student Government) allowed such a flaw in one of the most important events in the school's history." Minami explained.

"Not that we're going to expose these flaws…rather, from their honest answers, we'll look for a loophole to escape the media's eyes and give them an answer that is enough to herd them of the campus before the anniversary of the incident."

From across the oak table, a male ex-officer twitched.

"Speak." Kazuya reiterated now directing his words to the ex-officers.

"Artemis…" A male ex-officer finally said standing up from his seat. "Wasn't really meant to be that way."

"Taki!" Mizuki warned glaring at him. The male ex-officer glared back and said. "Keep quiet! I can not run away from this anymore!" He turned back to Kazuya. "It is true, president, that we were paid to do something to her. However,"

"However?" Koujima asked looking at his pale green eyes.

"Doing something as to injure her to that extent wasn't part of the plan."

"Explain it please." Hina muttered looking at him intently.

Taki nodded and looked at the president. "Minamoto-kaichou I assume that you know what Project Artemis is all about?"

The blue-eyed guy nodded and crossed his arms. "It is the university's annual event where in the most talented female students compete in the areas of music, art, literature and sports. Anyone who wins it will be hailed as Artemis i.e. 'The Moon Goddess', Diana, 'The Goddess of Hunting…" Kazuya paused for a moment. "Goddess of Hunting…"

"Precisely. It isn't just about choosing beauty queens and having them represent the country in national competitions…it has a cache."

"Cache?" Kazuya asked pausing for a moment. "You're not saying…"

"Artemis, will be sent to the tabernacle." Taki said pulling out a few Polaroid photos from his pocket.

"The tabernacle?" Keisuke asked, looking at the photos in his hand. Kazuya gave Soujirou a glare.

Soujirou suddenly let go if his pen and stared at Taki, managing to put on a poker face and appear impatient. "Stop beating around the bush and tell us everything."

He watched Red Eye's expression and then sighed.

"I am sorry but I have said everything that I know. I know nothing of it anymore." The ex-officer implied closing his eyes.

"The tabernacle, what is it exactly?" Hamisa turned too Koujirou who shrugged.

"I'm sorry president. I have but limited knowledge on this, and due to safety measures I did not want to learn more." Taki stated bowing his head almost reverently.

"I have one last question, Taki." Kazuya mumbled making everyone shiver when he called his friend by his first name.

"Who was the one who was declared as the Artemis last year?" the ex-officer nodded and threw the photos across the table, spreading it apart with chilling efficiency.

One picture caught the president's attention in particular. It was the picture of a girl, lying unconscious amidst the broken parts of the steel stairwell. He snatched it from the group and slid it into his pocket when the officers busied themselves with the other photos.

"She goes by the name of Luna. Although that was the nickname she had chosen when she entered the game." Taki answered.

"She must have been silenced by the higher ups." Koujima inferred.

"The Polaroid shots doesn't really help and the university hospital made sure that her identity was hidden. Much to my disappointment." Kazuya said nodding slightly.

"I agree." Soujirou replied.

"In any case, we've delved into this incident far deeper than we have intended to. The purpose of this meeting was to only justify the reason why you were stripped of your positions."

"I'm now requesting for votes in the committee of new leaders and witnesses, those who agree to formally relieve the said officers from their positions say 'Aye' and those who disagree to the notion, say 'Nay'"

The witnesses (who were sent inside the conference room a moment before the discussion) and the new officers looked at each other. Majority raised their hands.

"Aye." They answered in unison.

He straightened up and then declared, "In that case, via viva voce, It is hereby decided that Taki Shinohara, Mizuki Oue, and the rest who sits opposite of the new officers, you are formally relieved of your positions as it was justified that you have violated the by-rules of the central student organization by accepting bribes and sabotaging one of the main events of the campus. You will all receive due sanctions and punishments that will be decided by the deans and the faculty of your respective institutes. And as for the new council leaders,"

He snapped his fingers and Minami nodded and distributed the proper documents that were to be signed by the new officers. "We are to schedule the oath-taking ceremony and the press conference in two weeks time. That's all. Meeting adjourned."

.......

"I might die after this." Taki stated smiling slightly at the poker-faced Kazuya who watched as the ex-officers cleared their offices to make way for the new ones. "I touched something that was taboo."

The blue-eyed man looked at him. "You know everything don't you?" Taki closed his eyes and sighed,

"I told you…"

"Bullshit."

Taki looked at him and smiled vaguely. "You did this to protect Azuma Karin did you not?" The president nodded. For a moment, there was a gleam of sadness in Taki's eyes. "In that case, I have one last piece of information that I'll give to you."

"What is it?" Kazuya asked looking him in the eyes.

The ex-officer closed his eyes and then swiftly walked past him.

"Hey!" The raven-haired guy called out turning to look at the retreating figure of his former colleague. "Shinohara!"

"President," Minami stated looking at him and signaling that he stops.

He turned swiftly and ran after Taki.

"He's stubborn as always." Keisuke commented snatching his phone from his pocket and dialing a number.

Meanwhile…

A silhouette hid by a tree facing the huge glass windows of the IAS halls and from there, it watched as the president dashed after Shinohara Taki.

"It will be avenged." The shadow said grinning almost darkly. It took a bow from a black bag and swiftly jumped to another tree. "You will only die in my hands, Minamoto Kazuya."

Minamoto Mansion…

Karin sat still in the rose garden and looked at the setting sun. "It will be the New Moon tonight, am I right, Mugi?"

"Yes. My lady." The maid answered as she poured herself a cup of tea and sat beside her.

A few birds flapped by the tree nearby and as the breeze passed gently, a tiny white feather glided down to Karin's lap. The young lady picked it up and held it in front of the setting sun.

"It's somehow…saddening…" She whispered solemnly as the wind picked up again and blew the feather away from her hand. "Like someone I know…will be flying away soon…"


A/n: Took long enough Advanced happy Easter!

I found time! Finally! How are you guys? I'm sorry for the long wait. Who's that shadow? And what does Karin mean when she said someone will be flying away soon? _ is it Kazuya? Gyaah! No!!!

In any case, I do hope you enjoyed a piece of my heart, R&R everybody!

This is Tyner Twine (Dyingshinigami11)

Hopping off. (To find Easter eggs!)