I do not know why I hesitate to report the abnormality directly to Nishi-keibu at first. Maybe it's the fear I might lose the suspect in the shadows. On the other hand, I might be noticed too. If it turns out that it is actually a weapon, then not only I would be in great danger but the whole crowd around me.
I have never been in such a critical situation before. Although I have prepared myself well, I am slowly losing my sense of what is appropriate and what is not. It is like standing at a fork without knowing the right way. Is it the scary or friendly path?
I keep following the man in the black hoodie. While at it I stay a good thirty meters away. Now and then he seems to look around to see if he is being watched. I hide behind other people walking along the way. His pace is quite fast, it seems he is in a hurry. With the gray shoes he wears, he walks straight ahead towards the city center, where he first has to cross the lower tip of Hoku-ku. I wonder if that is his goal. Whether he is planning something or meeting someone beforehand, if not even returning to his apartment.
After a while the street begins to change, when I gradually get to the end of the quarter. From here the intersections are a little further and are passable for cars. There are two parking spaces on the sides of the path, then a few more houses like before. The street ends in an alley that is protected by a plastic roof and mainly contains small restaurants, pubs and a few brothels. Here the crowd is even tighter and I know that I have to be careful not to lose him.
Again and again I bump into other people. It is difficult to keep track of all the people. Suddenly I feel a stiff resistance and am pushed back. I run into a small woman who is just up to my chin.
"Ugh, damn it. I'm really sorry, that wasn't on purpose," I apologize profusely and reach my hand to the woman, who is freely dressed in a school uniform. The uniform is dark blue throughout with white stripes on the neckline, the sleeves and on the top of the long socks. She also wears a long red tie that hangs loosely.
"Ow, tz tz tz. What, how?" she replies, a little confused by the sudden collision and reaches for the bottom on which she fell. Her voice is quite bright, almost childlike. Then she notices the hand I reach to her and slowly understands the situation. She grabs my hand and I help her up.
"Thanks, that surprised me," she says in a rather gentle, not angry tone.
"Are you hurt or is there something I can do?"
"No, no. It's okay, nothing happened. Fortunately, the costume is still whole."
"Phew, I'm glad. I'm really sorry, I'm in a bit of a hurry and I was just distracted for a moment."
I am really sorry after all, I ran over her in a totally rude way. Around us, some men stare angrily or surprised. Others just walk past us.
"It's okay, everything is fine. Then I don't want to hold you up any longer."
"Thank you, have a nice holiday," I see her off politely and look back into the crowd, where I observed the man before.
But the sight shakes me so much that I can no longer hear the reply of the young woman. My legs carry me as if by themselves against the point where I have lost sight of the man. Damn, if only I had been more careful.
I look around hastily, then try to keep running straight. Again and again my way is blocked. It is frustrating and my pulse is racing.
A little further a little way leads to the left and neither in the side street nor in the turmoil I can see a man with a black hoodie. I only see a man with a brown cap, then one with a reddish cap or women who offer themselves to pedestrians. It is as if the ground swallowed him. What should I do?
I look for a secluded spot down the side street and contact Nishi-keibu. I tell him what I saw and that the suspect is now freely roaming around. Contrary to my expectations, he stays relatively calm and is not even angry that I have lost sight of him. Instead, he even praises me for quickly reporting the information. Even if that is only half the story.
"Kido-kun, I want you to choose a direction and start searching again. After all, you know the suspect best. I will notify other colleagues in the surrounding areas. We will immediately increase our presence in the area so that we do not lose him. Maybe a magic detector will detect him again if he's around."
"Yes, Nishi-keibu, I'll be on my way as quick as I can," I answer directly.
Ultimately, I decide to leave the path and continue down the side street. The alley is narrow and just as wide as two people. The doors are relatively modern, but the houses are still not up to date. Some of the entrances are decorated with a few plants, some with small palm trees. Every now and then a bicycle is placed so unfavorable that only one person can walk next to it. I reach another path that is very similar to the previous one and runs parallel to it. I am not assuming that the man has another club as his destination. That is why I am trying to shorten the most popular route to the center a little. I have no other choice.
After wandering around for a while, I come to an area where the alleys are wider again and the houses are further apart. The district's entertainment sector is gradually changing from an urban part to a residential area. Most of the houses here have their own garage and the streets are wide enough to be driven on. In addition, it is also significantly greener. You feel like you are in another city.
When it finally becomes too much for my feet and my patience runs out, I take an unlocked bike in an unobserved moment and assure myself that I will bring it back later. Somehow I have a bad feeling about it, but now there are more important things. Fortunately, the bike has a lamp with a dynamo so that I can move around safely.
I am driving along the residential area. In between I come through a small park with a playground. It is deserted, not even any animals can be seen in the silver and yellow glow of the street lamps. The subsequent small street is almost completely criss-crossed with the walls of the residents. Except for parking spaces and house entrances. Again and again there is a slightly larger road crossing, then it goes through between other houses. I wonder if what I am doing makes any sense at all.
Then I realize that I am straight heading towards the rails, which cross the city from the northwest. A little further ahead I will find the Shugenamatsu train station, from which I took the bus to Andawarudo. Maybe it is not a bad idea to venture out in that direction after all. If my instincts do not deceive me, then the man may well travel from there to the center.
One more time I pass a playground. It is fenced in and can only be reached via two small gates. To my right is a large, unused piece of land that will probably serve as a future building site. Next to it, work is being done on a house decorated with scaffolding. I pass the district town hall. It is a huge and long building which is covered with a facade made of small horizontally narrow paving stones. The windows are modern with black borders and the entrance looks like a glass mosaic. A few more hundred meters, then I will reach Shugenamatsu.
The bus station is right in front of the train station. A large roundabout makes it possible for the buses to simply turn and then continue. There are two markings where the bus can stop once upon arrival and once upon departure. So you know directly which bus you have to get on and which one is taking a break first.
I park the bike on the wall of a larger bank branch and continue by foot. A few fast food chains and supermarkets are located near the train station. I stop in front of a row of vending machines and watch what is happening. You can not say that there is not much going on. Even at this time, a few people still go to the center to end the celebrations a little.
While I wonder what I will do if my plan does not work out, I see people getting off two incoming buses. But the man is not there and neither does the magic detector make itself noticeable. I wait almost half an hour and am considering contacting Nishi-keibu again. Then it suddenly happens. The magic detector seems to have detected something new. Immediately I go in the direction in which the discrepancy has been discovered. It is really the man in the black hoodie.
For a moment, I feel like my brain is skipping. Even though he is coming straight in my direction, I do not know how to react. Confrontation makes no sense, that would only wreak havoc. I need to contact Nishi-keibu immediately. But as I call him, I notice how our eyes meet and the suspect quickly escapes. Even if I do not recognize much, his face looks familiar to me and that is not a good sign.
"Damn it!" I say while Nishi-keibu reports back.
"What is Kido-kun, did you find him!?" he replies excitedly to my reaction.
"Yes, he walked towards me at the Shugenamatsu train station, but apparently I reacted too conspicuously so that he just fled. I am trailing him and have released my position. Send reinforcements, I make sure I won't lose him."
"All right, Kido-kun. I'll provide reinforcements, you see that you don't get into a dangerous situation, do you hear? No individual actions, the man is most likely extremely dangerous-"
The conversation ends relatively abruptly because the connection was probably interrupted. Fortunately, after we agreed. He should now be able to see my position. I shared it with Nishi-keibu on my smartphone using an app. So he can see in real time where I am. Now all I have to do is hope that the reinforcements will come in time and that I won't lose him again.
Unfortunately, the situation is too confusing for me to be able to move around on the bike. I run after him. Sooner or later, thanks to my fitness, I should be able to catch up with him. Some people already look confused and a little upset after the man who is right back on the way he came from. He knocks over one of a few bicycles that are in front of a small motorcycle dealer on the corner of a pedestrian crossing. Without thinking about it, I jump over it and follow him across the intersection. A man from the crowd shouts something that I do not understand. Seems like he is mad about the bike.
At a flower shop he turns left into a side street. I have to be careful not to get hit by a car that is trying to drive into the path. Most of the shops are already closed. There are only a few people left here. Then he turns right again. His pace is remarkable, but because there is little going on I can make up a little distance on him.
The shops turn into normal houses and we keep advancing into a small residential area. Most of the front gardens are screened by bushes on small knee-height walls. Every now and then a car is parked in a parking lot in front of a house. At the end of the street there are two more buildings in which an orthopedist and a dentist reside. He flees to the right and almost runs into a lamppost when he looks back at me. Only a few more meters then I got him.
The area is absolutely dead. The only thing that can be heard are our quick steps on the asphalt. Two restaurants have closed today and the blinds are pulled down. A third shop is currently being renovated so that the entrance is covered with a tarpaulin. On the right-hand side there is an elongated building about three stories high, which looks like a small company. Straight ahead I can already see how the path becomes quite narrow and is stocked with houses. A hedge extends across from these. They are a bit shielded and look run down.
Shortly before the path continues, he takes refuge to the right and does not seem to notice that it is not a turn but a parking lot behind the company building. The forecourt is enclosed on three sides by adjacent buildings. The white facade on the left is light brown in places and the building in the middle does not seem to belong to a company, but to be a small apartment block.
When he notices the closed blinds, which do not allow him to pass through, he runs in the direction of a small fence to the left of the house. But the lead is too high for him to be able to save himself on the small roof behind. There are two inverters on top of it and behind a balcony of another longitudinal residential building.
"Stop, police!" I yell after him when he notices that he is now in a hopeless situation.
As empty as it is, it should be safe to reveal my identity now. Instead of rushing straight at him and arresting him, I hesitate a little. Just like him, I need a short break first. I focus on what he is up to now. Hopefully the reinforcements will arrive soon, I really want to avoid a direct confrontation.
"Don't move and hand over the item you are carrying. We have evidence in the context of undercover investigations that you are in possession of an illegal object and are entitled to confiscate it on the spot!" I make my request in more detail.
He looks a little puzzled. Apparently he is confused how long I have observed him before or his activities were noticeable.
"Illegal object, screw that. Who are you actually that you keep investigating me. They said it would never be noticed and it was absolutely safe. You magicians are all the same and corrupt!"
Despair can be heard in the tone of his voice. It is a mix of panic and aggression. A normal criminal would not react that way.
"Who are 'they' and did you really believe there was no authority overseeing illegal activities? Immediately surrender or I have no choice but to force you into custody. You are making a huge mistake."
"Never, try to overwhelm me, but you won't succeed!" he yells at me and pulls the bag out from under his hoodie. With a quick jerk he tears the bag and a small orange shimmer can be seen. In his hand he holds a glowing crystal about the size of the palm of his hand. The crystal seems to be bursting with magic because of its glow. It pulsates as if it has a heartbeat. I have never seen anything like it outside of a magic district, and its shape seems unusual. And how is it that he can just use it like that when it is probably not his own? Even I can not just use someone else's crystal.
Usually a crystal finds its owner when the two are compatible. Only the magical authorities to which the magic school is subject are authorized for this process. A magician usually owns only one or two magic crystals in his life, depending on the circumstances and the life of the crystal.
I prepare myself for the fact that I have to confront him now. According to his behavior, he will try to attack me. My whole body is flooded with excitement. Do not make a mistake now. I have to hold him off until the reinforcements show up. What is Nishi-keibu doing?
Suddenly, from my blind spot, a very familiar voice resounds and I lose my composure for a moment.
"Immediately stop the argument and refrain from violence. The police of Daitoshi will now take care of your concern. Drop any weapons immediately!"
The voice that echoes in the forecourt of the buildings is Satsu-chan's. What the hell is she doing here? The moment is so unfavorable that I no longer understand what is going on. I thought Nishi-keibu makes sure we do not collide with normal police.
I am frozen in shock considering the situation. Not only am I in a very dangerous situation, but also Satsu-chan and a colleague running behind her. It is absolutely impossible not to reveal the secret about magic.
"Chiyoko-chan? W-what are you doing here? I thought you were on duty in Hajimeni?"
I do not know how to answer her question at all. No matter what I am about to say, it does not get us anywhere in this situation.
"Omura-san, is that someone you know? What's going on here?" asks Satsu-chan's colleague, puzzled. The woman, who is a little taller than Satsu-chan, has long, light brown hair that gleams a bit silvery in the light of the street lamps. She also wears a dark blue Ashi police uniform, as does Satsu-chan.
"That's enough with the banter. How long have you been following me? Are you guys going to do the same thing to me you did to my sister? You have her all on your conscience, but now I will have my revenge. Stay away from me you pigs!" the man yells in our direction. He is totally lost in despair and anger. He no longer seems to be able to think rationally.
Suddenly he shoots some kind of lightning bolt in Satsu-chan's direction, but just misses her while she jumps off to the side. Her uniform is slightly torn on the side and from a short scream I can tell that she has been burned.
"Omura-san! Is everything ok? What kind of lightning was that, what is happening here?"
I have no choice but to try to disarm him. If I wait any longer for reinforcement, then it will only be a matter of time before we have two casualties here, if not three.
"You two, get out of here and hide nearby. I take care of this. But don't report the incident, do you understand?" I yell at the two of them, hoping they would carry out my instructions directly. But they are so shocked that they can hardly move.
I use my magic and set up my wind enchantment. When the two of them perceive the greenish shine around my body, they are even more shocked.
"Chiyoko-chan, what is that? I don't understand any of this," Satsu-chan yells after me as I dash towards the criminal.
"Stay away from me you monster," he yells at me and you might think I'm in the wrong, contrary to him. Why is he so damn scared?
Another flash of his magic strikes me, but I can avoid it. One can certainly hear the bang even a street further. His attacks are extremely powerful. I do not understand how he can use two such skills and still has magic. Does that have to do with the strange magic crystal he is carrying?
Since he seems to have to recharge a little, I rush straight ahead with a little magic, but only brush his right shoulder. With another punch I hit his right arm directly and he lets out a silent scream. The heavy blow to the ankle seems to be extremely painful.
Fearing he might attack again right now, I jump back a little and stay focused. At first it seems like he is about to attack, then I hear Satsu-chan from the back. He turns in their direction and I am afraid of what he is up to.
Immediately I jump in the way to fend off the attack. I channel my magic in my arm to use it like a shield. A technique that Shiro-bucho taught me and that is extremely useful as a defense without the need for more magic. When the lightning strikes, it transforms into a play of sparks that disperse in all directions like small particles of light. The impact is so violent that despite my magic shield I am thrown two meters backwards.
"CHIYOKO-CHAAAN!" Satsu-chan shouts my name, totally desperate and shocked.
I hit the floor with my back and at first can not move. My whole body aches and my arm is numb. I think I got a burn.
"Shut up over there. You two are just as part of the problem as she is!" he yells at Satsu-chan and sends a second lightning bolt in her direction. I do not see if he hits her directly. Only two short screams can be heard. I get up with all my might and run as fast as I can to the two of them. That can not be, please not. I have failed all along the line.
Desperate, I throw myself next to them and check their pulse. I feel a weak pulse in Satsu-chan and her colleague. Relief immediately spreads through my body, but so does anger. Apparently he did not hit her fully, both are still alive and just seem to be passed out. I do not have much time and magic left. I have to act quickly before it is too late. How can I win this fight?
"You bastard, you will pay for that!"
Anger fuels my advance. I can hardly stop myself, he will pay for what he did to Satsu-chan. As much as I can remain professional in difficult situations, in this moment it is all over.
I confront him directly and avoid another attack directly. The green shine that briefly remains in its original place is torn by lightning while I reappear next to it. I fake an attack and then dive under his arms as he tries to defend himself. Then I hit the pit of his stomach with anger. A brief gagging slips from his mouth.
When he is bent over in front of me and holding his stomach, I grab his head. I pull it against my knee with which I hit him with full force. He sags to the floor in front of me and drops the crystal in his hand. I kick it away so it is out of reach. The fight is over. Nevertheless, I am tempted to throw him back with a strong kick against his head. He lies with his back on the floor and can barely move. Only a groan can be heard from him. I notice how out of breath I am. I would like to lie myself down and rest right away. What has just happened?
Only a few minutes pass before the first reinforcements arrive. Maybe five minutes or a little more, I do not know. Time goes by so quickly while I am still processing. Everything buzzes past my mind while I stand still. A little later, Nishi-keibu arrives with Takaki-bucho and then a special task force from the Daitoshi police, which records public magical crimes. It consists of two police inspectors.
I hand them the strange orange glowing stone, which I have since picked up. I am wearing a special pair of blue gloves. One of them puts it in a small clear plastic bag. Then they take a few more measurements and talk to Nishi-keibu. The woman accompanies Satsu-chan and her colleague in an ambulance. They will be treated under special supervision in a local hospital. I sincerely hope that everything is fine. I do not know how I would react if Satsu-chan's condition got worse.
When I regained my composure after the fight, I immediately noticed who the man in the black hoodie is. It is the young guy who got away from me while on patrol in Hajimeni. I did not recognize him right away because that was some time ago and I only saw him very briefly. It is a strange coincidence that I ran into him. Additionally in connection with the Red Samurai and this strange other guy. Everything seems threatening and fits together like a terrifying puzzle. I wonder what will come out of the interview. Does he have anything to do with Omoikane? Why was he so scared and desperate before? It did not feel like he was just a criminal. Which motive moves him and what was he up to?
"Kido-chan, I'm so sorry about everything. The whole thing got totally out of hand, I hope the shock will subside soon," Takaki-bucho takes care of me and hands me a tea in the lid of a thermos can while I am sitting in the trunk of our van.
After applying a burn ointment she wraps a bandage around my arm on which I got a few burns. Only now do I really notice how much it burns. Lights are flashing everywhere in the dark and my head is booming.
The two other colleagues meanwhile transport the man after he was handcuffed. He, too, will first be examined for injuries in the hospital, but does not look like he needs acute care. In contrast to the other two. At most, his nose could be broken, which strangely enough does not bother me that much.
"Kido-kun, when you are ready, we unfortunately have to go to the police station. So that you can make a first statement there. We will also have to provide a report on how the situation came about and why you had to intervene. I know it's all very stressful, too. But I have to honestly say that you managed that very well, although it got out of hand," Nishi-keibu praises me and tries to force a smile to cheer me up. "I don't know how it came about that the other two were involved. We'll look into that later. Nevertheless, you were able to calm the situation impressively and without major damage. Without you there would have probably been much more damage."
"Thank you Nishi-keibu, but I was just doing my job. I am glad that nothing else happened. I still can not understand what this strange crystal is. He was able to make several powerful attacks and that without a magic field. I dread the thought of it. How is such a thing possible?"
"I don't know, Kido-kun, we have to evaluate all of this first. I've never heard anything like it either. The situation is really critical and worrying. Since I've been doing the job, it has become more difficult every year and new factors come into play that we don't know about. We have to stick with it now and add up the facts to give us an edge-"
Suddenly a strong gust of wind beats over our heads and a loud bang resounds like from a small explosion. Dust settles over the play of lights of red and blue and everything becomes a little blurred. Nishi-keibu and the inspector turn around, immediately on alert. Where I previously fought for my life, a shadow now rises, similar to a raven. A taller man in casual clothes emerges from it. The shirt is dark blue and he wears black, slim pants. His hair is a little tousled and black, the look with the blue eyes icy as if he were annoyed and wary.
"I didn't think the guy was so stupid that I have to intervene. But what the heck, that's the way it is now," he says with a mocking grin. He seems complacent and finally looks focused on us as if we were his next target.
"Who are you and how did you get here? A private investigation is going on here, unauthorized entry is prohibited," the inspector shouts sternly at him.
But as he talks, the whole area is suddenly covered in smoke, so that you can hardly see anything. The lights only make it worse. It seems he unnoticed ignited a smoke grenade. Then the inspector's scream can be heard.
"Shit, what's that supposed to mean!" Nishi-keibu's voice resounds.
I see something red flashing from his direction. The smoke is swept away in one fell swoop and an even more powerful gust of wind almost pulls Takaki-bucho and me out of our seats. When the smoke disappears, the inspector can be seen lashing out wildly and he then is easily overwhelmed by the stranger. He skillfully takes the previously confiscated magic crystal from him and evades an attack by Nishi-keibu, who immediately storms on him. Takaki-bucho jumps up and also gets ready for a fight.
"You magic cops are really annoying, I have to give you that. But if you want to catch me, you have to get up earlier, hahaha."
It is incomprehensible to me how he can be so self-confident in the face of the two.
"You'll soon be laughing out of the other side of your face. Hand over the crystal again!" shouts Nishi-keibu at him. I have never seen him so upset.
With full force he attacks the man who hardly has a chance to evade at this speed. With a direct magic amplified blow, he is hit and thrown backwards. Is it over?
I have to watch in disbelief as the stranger manages to land on his feet and it does not look like he had to take too much. Takaki-bucho shoots a few water balls in his direction, which he deflects with a few blows from a distance without any problems. The magic he uses seems similar to mine. Yet it is different. I can not identify it as quickly as he uses his skills.
"Well, it's not funny like that. It's time for me to take my leave. It was nice to play with you guys," he says confidently.
His gaze drops in Takaki-bucho's direction and I notice something flashing on the floor next to her.
"Takaki-bucho behind you is another smoke grenade!" I call out to her in panic and accidentally distract Nishi-keibu.
Again we are wrapped in smoke. I cough heavily and can barely breathe. Fortunately, Nishi-keibu ensures that the smoke disappears quickly. The thief is nowhere to be seen. He must have escaped as quickly as he came with the help of his magic.
"Damn it!" shouts Nishi-keibu into the night sky in anger. He hits the ground with his fist full of force and you might think he is breaking his own hand. But instead the ground seems to burst a little. The power of his blows is incredible.
"What is that supposed to be? The day couldn't get any worse!"
"Are you all right?" Takaki-bucho asks the inspector, who is still lying on the floor. However, given the circumstances, he seems to be doing well.
"Yes, thank you. It was a huge shock and it caught me a little off guard. But I'll be alright," he thanks her, who helps him up.
The disappointment and anger are written all over our faces. Not only has the day gotten even worse, we also have lost important evidence. The only trace we have left is the arrested man. But if we can not get anything out of him, we are left in the dark.
It takes a moment for Nishi-keibu to calm down. I do not even dare to speak to him. Neither does Takaki-bucho. Searching the man in the dark makes no sense. He is surely already far away. And if he can use magic all the time like the other, then it is impossible to catch up with him.
"Damn, let's go to the station. Otherwise I'm going to lay something down here in ashes. On the way we also have to collect Shiro-kun before he gets any stupid ideas," says Nishi-keibu, no longer quite so annoyed.
I get up from the edge of the trunk and get ready to sit into the car. When I want to get in, I notice a small shimmer on the left.
"Nishi-keibu, wait a minute before driving, I see something strange back there."
"What else is it, Kido-kun?" he asks me from the driver's seat and adjusts the rearview mirror.
I quickly run over to the shimmer and search the ground. At first I do not discover what could be the cause. But then there is a small shard like from a glass bottle. It is orange in color and must be a part of the magic crystal. Apparently it broke off when I kicked it away earlier. Now the day seems not quite as bad anymore as initially assumed.