I thought I heard something about delicious pancakes...
— Akechi Goro

Akechi Goro is the illegitimate child of Masayoshi Shido, one of the antagonists in Persona 5, and is himself a major antagonist. He holds a grudge against his father for abandoning him and his mother, who committed suicide. After being recruited by Yaldabaoth, Akechi rapidly learned and used his abilities in the metaverse to approach his father, intending to help him win public office before revealing that he is the man's illegitimate son, bringing the social ostracism his mother faced on his father.

Shido, however, proved a far more ruthless manipulator, sending Akechi after any targets he feels might oppose him, and to find blackmail on ones that can serve him. Akechi continues his crime spree, unaware that his father was waiting for the chance to discard him. He comes into ideological conflict with the Phantom Thieves early on, developing an obsession with their leader, Joker. He keeps tabs on his rival, and helps the Conspiracy lure them into a trap, eventually joining them as a mole.

Both Joker and Morgana had caught on to his true nature much earlier, however, and they and the Phantom Thieves devised a complex trap to shift his attention away from them. When he finds out they're alive, he enters Shido's Palace, a sort of mental realm in the metaverse, to confront them, only to be beaten first by them and then by Shido's view of the detective himself, a psychotic and loyal hitman.

Tarot Battle Royale (by Leolab)

Prologue

A siren resounded through DFederal, drawing the notice of the several of the newer residents. The announcement that followed, however, drew the attention of everyone. A battle was to take place within the city itself, a full twenty-two people fighting for the chance to live in luxury. Darth Bane, one of those potentially lucky souls, slams Palpatine’s head into a wall one last time before striding out of the alleyway he had been calling home. He finds himself in a grey, featureless room instead of the streets, surrounded by a slate of colorful characters. He takes stock of his foes, some faces familiar and others seemingly far too young.

Taking similar stock is Kai Leng, the arrogant ninja holding back a sneer. If his foes were of this caliber, he should have no problem taking the top. The organizer this time must be insane, including not only a schoolgirl but the fool sleeping against the corner. Or they might just be allowing him to finally get his due. He smiles as the door opens, letting in a man in an orange mask with blue detailing.

“I’m Leo, your host this time,” the man says without preamble, “And most of you should have had the rules this time directly implanted in your minds. Try not to get too distracted you don’t hear the district change announcements. Let’s start.” And at that, the man snaps, teleporting all of them to random points in the sewers.

Kai Leng appears next to the cookfire of a man in a leather cap and a maille shirt under a cloth tunic, damp and dirty. The other man jumps, startled at the sudden appearance, but smiles at his visitor.

“Hail, Kai,” Diarmuid says with a smile, “I wish you good luck in your fight.” The Irishman toasts to his unexpected guest, general good nature unaffected by his surroundings. Kai returns his politeness with discourtesy, and kicks his fire out.

“I have no need for encouragement from someone so low,” he sneers, and draws his sword, intending to cut down the man as practice. Diarmuid, however, dodges the blow while picking up a small spear next to him. A series of slashes from the ninja are dodged with relative ease, while a pair of swipes from Diarmuid’s spear find their mark, leaving long, gashes on the arrogant man.

Kai Leng lashes out with his palm blaster, firing at the floor to create an escape route. The spearman had gotten a few lucky hits in, no more. He simply had larger fish to fry; he wasn’t fleeing a losing fight. Like everything else he has done, however, Kai Leng made a grave miscalculation. The floor crumbles under his feet, sending him plummeting into an abyss.

He eventually slams into the ground, the impact knocking the wind out of him and sending more blood through his wounds. He gets up and looks around, seeing the rows upon rows of people in illuminated tubes. One behind him starts to shake, and he turns to watch as a man with an owl mask slams his head into the glass repeatedly, eventually breaking it open. The fluid within pours out as the man leaps out of his tank, knocking Kai Leng back to the ground.

Stunned and weakened from the wounds Diarmuid gave him, he can only watch in horror as the Owlman, crazed from repeated confinement and deaths, scratches at his cybernetics. The insane man’s fingers get under Kai Leng’s mask and pry it off, opening his face to the continued scratching by the screeching warrior. As he convulses from the pain of having his skull worn away by human fingers, Leng remembers one of the many rumors he had heard on the DFederal streets. A place known as “OCity” under the sewers, a place of madness and death. Those who entered were killed and returned aboveground, their memories erased save for the terror.

His last thoughts as the fingers finally scoop out his brain were a curse towards Leo, for sending him so close to such a deadly place.

Chapter 1

As soon as he appeared in the sewers, Tal fell back on his usual plan when things go wrong. He simply ran like mad, ignoring the disgruntled grumbles of his Spiritshadow. He vaults and sprints through the pipes, barely missing the denizens of DFederal’s underground. He stops short just before an intersection spews a gout of sewage, narrowly avoiding being swept away like the large, blue-skinned person who was running ahead of him.

Another pipe takes him to a large, circular junction, which has two other entrances aside from his own. Footsteps in both of them come to a halt, as a red-haired teenager with blood trickling out of her mouth appears in one and a man with an eyepatch stumbles into the other.

“Blood and ashes,” Mat mutters, “Of course the dice stop now.” He throws a knife at each of his opponents as he finishes, the first cut down by a ray of light from the child and the other simply stopping in midair in front of the girl before plopping into the murky water. Tal immediately retaliates with a Red Ray of Destruction, but his attack fizzles out before hitting the older man. He then yelps and ducks, barely dodging Miu’s punch, and tries to sweep her legs out from under her.

The vampire leaps back and thrusts her hand out towards Mat, who feels his medallion grow cold has her attempt to pull him off balance fails. He lets another knife fall from his sleeve into his hand, and catches the boy with the other, halting the youth’s attempt to charge him. He throws him at the girl, but to his surprise the youth cocoons himself in light.

Miu dodges him, unsure of what such a massive blast of light would do, and Tal slams into the wall, nearly knocking himself out. Miu, seeing the opportunity to incapacitate the youth, throws another punch with one hand while using her telekinesis with the other to pull the knife out of Mat’s hands. Splitting her attention allows Tal to attack, however, and in his panic lashes out with a Violet Unraveling. Miu disintegrates without a sound, and the knife she had intended to catch flies through the space where she was and into Tal’s throat.

Mat, horrified, runs towards the boy, but arrives too late. The child, barely fourteen, had already bled out in the filth and grime of the sewers. Mat grimaces and closes the boy’s eyes, trying not to liken him to Olver and failing. He sets the boy’s body down on one of the ledges above the water and runs off, hoping that no one had noticed the brief but deadly fight.

As Mat’s footsteps fade from the junction, Haar steps out from behind a corner with a sigh. He walks through the battlefield, yawning, and takes a different pipe to the other man, hoping to avoid combat. In the dim light, he notices iron rungs leading up to a small round metal plate. He lifts his axe up and pokes it, revealing the light of the slums above him. Yawning again, he settles into a nook across from the cover and falls asleep, intending to nap and let the district change be his alarm.

A few junctions away, Yukie also sprints through the pipes. Unlike the dead Tal, however, she was looking for an opponent instead of fleeing. She feels a presence behind her, and swiftly draws her katana to shatter the icicles raining down on her. A flurry of slashes deflects those about to hit her, and the rest crater the steel floor around her. A woman in a heavily modified nun habit, almost a cosplay piece, crystalizes out of the shadows, confident smile on her face.

“Patterns in the ice / melt away beautifully / and fade with cruelty,” she says, and a runic circle appears over her hand. Yukie coats her sword in her fighting aura and bats away the long, spear-like icicles that threaten to gouge her flesh and chill her blood. As she defends, however, she notices her foe running towards her, whispering another poem.

“In a silver world / act with ice-cold precision. / Leave nothing to chance.”

The assassin materializes a katana blade of ice and launches into a series of attacks, fast enough that she seemed to be wielding three swords instead of one. Yukie moves faster, however, and is finally able to strike back. Her foe freezes the air in a makeshift shield, dampening the blow enough that she can catch it with her ice and retreat. Yukie pursues, realizing only as she brings her sword down that this was Fiona’s plan.

The nun manipulates the ice in her blade skillfully, softening it just enough to capture the swordswoman’s katana. Freezing it back to solidity, she wrenches it from Yukie’s grasp and throws it at the wall. Unperturbed by the loss of her weapon Yukie punches, almost faster than the eye can see. Fiona deflects it with similar speed, and strikes back. The pair trade blows, each one thrown with enough force to kill, and destroy the pipes around them while looking for an advantage.

They leap back to a neutral position, a fierce joy in their eyes at being able to fight to their fullest, a pleasure Yukie was denied upon her entrance to the city. Fiona breaks the stillness first, with another of her senryu incantations.

“With my wish fulfilled / I prostrate as it plummets/ That shower of stakes,” she says, sending another rain of icicles down around Yukie. The youth dodges and deflects the scattering spikes, sending one down a connecting pipe. It misses a man in an eyepatch by a hairsbreath, nearly throwing his newly-reclaimed hat off with the force of its passing.

Mat curses his luck, annoyed at being nearly killed yet again. First the battle against two children, and now a random icicle from nowhere. Even in this place, the world seemed to simply want to make his life miserable. As if laughing at his recollection, Mat once again stumbles on a pair of his opponents, one a man in a blue uniform and the other a young girl in a black one and a plaid skirt, of all things.

“Oh not again,” Mat groans, again throwing a pair of knives. Just like the last time, one is incinerated by the man in the blue uniform and the girl simply dodges it.

“Do you always greet people by throwing knives?” Queen asks, fixing her skirt.

“Only if I know they’re trying to kill me,” Mat says, hoping his light smile was charming enough to get her to back off without using one of the other knives in his sleeve. She wasn’t his type, but he didn’t want to kill another woman if he could help it.

“Well, we’re not,” Roy interjects, “at least I’m not.”

“I also do not wish to fight,” Queen says primly, “And I believe that we should, at this stage, ally with each other.”

“I agree with the girl,” Roy says, and the two look at Mat.

“All right, all right. You’ve twisted my arm,” he says, throwing his hands in the air. It might not be bad to have some friends. And if they have to kill each other later, well… they’d get to that when it happened.

“First thing’s first,” Roy says, sounding more relaxed than he looks, “Information.”

“At least two of them are dead,” Mat says with a frown, “We fought.”

“Three,” Queen says, causing the two to look at her before she continues, “If I only remember nineteen people from that room, that means three are dead.”

“Look, lass, I don’t think a bad memory is proof of anything.”

“I forget the dead. Part of the Crystal’s blessing.”

“Burn me, girl, that’s no blessing,” Mat says with a scowl.

“It can be, at times,” Roy mutters, before realizing they had all forgotten something fairly important when making allies. “I’m Roy Mustang,” he says, nodding towards his new companions.

“Matrim Cauthon,” Mat says while tipping his hat.

“Queen,” Queen says while adjusting her glasses.

“And I’m Aoi Kamishiro, and it’s hunting time!” a teenager wearing a nun costume shouts as she charges at the dumbfounded trio, a dagger in each hand. Queen materializes her blade and utilizes Justice Guard, parrying the strike and hitting her point-blank with her repost. Aoi leaps back, only for Roy to snap his fingers and explode the air behind her.

She falls to the ground, dead, the Killsight having done its work.

“Guess that makes four,” Roy says, looking incredulously at the dead woman.

“Oh. Was she one of them?” Queen asks, dismissing her sword into thin air while fixing her skirt.

Chapter 2

Darth Bane stalks through the pipes, the narrow confines unpleasantly similar to hit time on Apatros as Dessel. The area he wanders through is pitch dark, the only available illumination his red lightsaber. His rage boils, hatred of the system that kept him down first as an illegal resident and then as a homeless Sith rising to form a sweep of power, rippling the sewage away from his feet as he walked. His Force-enhanced senses picked up the sound of another stepping delicately through the pipe ahead, moving in his direction.

Bane glares as he sees a flame flicker, and a young girl peers incautiously through the darkness, wearing a long, blue gown and a pair of gloves. As she moves her flaming hand across her face, Bane recognizes the girl: Azaka Kokutou, one of the other homeless residents who wandered the alleyways of the blue collar district. And one of his opponents in the current fight.

The girl stops, evidently noticing his lightsaber, and the man shoots his hand forward, fingers twisted into a claw. A half-dozen bolts of blue lightning arc out and strike the girl, and she barely has time to scream before the Dark Side fries her from the inside out. As she falls, the crashing of a gong roll through the sewers, followed by an announcement.

“All right, Tarot competitors. Five of you are dead, so now it’s time to get to the Slums. You have ten minutes to leave the sewers and get to the slums. Everyone else… try not to get in their way.”

Bane meets the eyes of one of the sewer’s residents, who appeared to be drawing the vestiges of his lightning into himself, and the man takes a step back through the broken hole that counted as an entryway in this section of the city.

Bane himself growls and thrusts his palm upward, straining as the steel and concrete above him buckles and cracks.

Elsewhere in the sewers, Fiona and Yukie pause their battle upon hearing the announcement and look at each other. An unspoken understanding sparked between the two swordswomen, and Fiona taps the ceiling with her sword, adjusting its shape to send it through each and every minor flaw in the pipe and the surrounding earth. An entire stretch of ground slowly but surely freezes and warps, before the nun draws her blade back, nodding at the younger girl.

Yukie returns the nod, and closes her eyes for a second, concentrating her fighting spirit into her blade before opening them and striking upward, a movement so efficient and swift even Fiona could barely follow it. The ground above them shatters and launches miles into the sky, and Yukie wastes no time in executing a series of leaps up the broken steel, earth, concrete, and asphalt.

“The nameless deceased / have but a single purpose / as a stepping stool,” Fiona says, and the incantation creates her own footholds to leap up herself. She lands to see Yukie staring at her with a cramped attempt at a smile on her face.

“I am Yukie Mayuzumi, of the Mayuzumi sword style,” she announces, “Would you do me the honor of continuing this bout?”

“Fiona Annabel Kousaki,” she replies, “Self-taught. I suppose I can play with you for a while longer.”

She flips forward, and makes an ice platform at her feet to launch a strike from above. Yukie parries it, and barely leaps out of the way of the razor-sharp pillar of ice that would have cut her hands off. She bats away a sweep intended to hit her legs, and strikes back. Fiona leaps back while parrying one of the seeming five blades coming at her, narrowly avoiding decapitation. The soft tapping of steel on ice lost itself in the cacophony around them, other warriors either replicating their stunt or simply leaving through actual manholes.

Fiona snatches one of the many pieces of rubble now coating the DFederal slums and slings it at Yukie, who shatters it in midair with a swing and hits it with the flat of her blade on the return, sending the pebbles back fast as bullets. Fiona makes a swift wall of packed snow, the pebbled that would have hit her sinking harmlessly into the moisture while letting the ones that wouldn’t slice through the cardboard shanties behind her.

Yukie, sprinting behind the makeshift projectiles, brings her sword around in an arc, scattering the snow in a burst of wind. She freezes, honed senses momentarily overwhelmed, but her reflexes allow her to parry Fiona’s flurry of thrusts at her face. She leaps back, with the nun hot on her heels. A split second later, and the two have their swords at each other’s’ throats. Fiona disengages first, sliding back on a sheet of ice. She readies her blade, now stained with a speck of red, as Yukie brings her own spotless steel to bear.

The sounds of their continued clash even reach the sewers, as well as the desperately running Hitomi Hitoyoshi. The red-haired girl she was chasing pauses her flight, swinging the broken blade extending from her shield. Hitomi ducks and sweeps out with her foot, her perfect Savate strike only throwing the girl farther back and breaking her momentum. Len flips through the air, and extends her fist to touch the ground before extending her sword, sending her sailing aboveground as the gong reverberates through the sewers once more.

Mere moments later, a blue-skinned man in similar-colored armor appears before her, seemingly out of thin air. He sighs before drawing his curved, red sword and pointing it at the diminutive woman.

“I’m no longer his representative, but I can’t even retire,” he grumbles as he squares off, before simply extending his arm and incinerating his target in a gout of fire.

On the surface, Haar and Siegfried swing themselves into their saddles, the latter riding off to find a fight while the former lifts off, flying above the war-torn slums in the center of DFederal. As the city shudders below, the gaping wounds in its streets bleeding raw sewage, Haar – and his dragon – yawn and close their eyes.

Nothing’s better than the sky for a nap.

His shadow passes over the trio of Mat, Roy, and Queen, picking their way over the rubble and chaos. Even those not in the competition were being swept up in the violence, as the now-charred Irishman shrieking about God had decided now was the best time to attack three strangers with a flamethrower.

They hear maniacal laughter in what was left of the alleyway next to them, and peek in to see a white-haired man, naked save for a loincloth, hitting a giant spiked turtle with his throne, while some creepy blue-furred elf lay collapsed in its own blood, twitching with pink froth gushing out of its lips. The man teleports his throne over Bowser’s head and sits in it, finally crushing the Koopa King’s head and putting him out of his misery.

“He dared call himself a king in my presence,” he snorts, reveling in the slaughter, “And who’s this? Three more sacrifices before the mighty Algol?”

He gets up from his throne, facing the trio with a snarling smile on his face. He wastes no time getting into combat, shifting his hand into a cannon and launching magic at the group. Queen and Roy, acting as one, shove Mat forward while rolling out of the way.

“Oi!” the general yells as the magic fizzles before hitting him, “Just because it doesn’t hurt me doesn’t mean I like it!” Mat unsheathes his ashandarei in indignation, taking a couple swipes at Algol to keep the maniac at bay.

“Better you than us,” Roy says, snapping his fingers and exploding the air in front of Algol’s face. The Hero-King simply manifests the crystalline hilt of Soul Calibur, absorbing the impact before rematerializing his throne and throwing it at the alchemist with one hand. His other shifts into the red blade of Soul Edge, turning aside Mat’s thrust. He then casually manifests Soul Calibur’s blade, warding off Queen’s flurry of sword strikes before the young girl disengages, landing and launching magic at him.

While Algol cancels it out with his own magic cannon, Queen swiftly manifests and slashes a Mana Sphere, sending it at Algol from three directions. He cuts them all down by sprouting silver spikes from his back and arms. An explosion from Roy blinds him before he can strike back, however, sending him reeling for the first time in ages. He hears a sound in front of him, and shoots his ribcage out of his chest to impale the cretin bold enough to attack him while stunned.

His efforts are met with a squelching thud and piercing pain, and his vision returns to see Matrim impaling him on his spear. He twists the shaft and yanks it out, leaving the Hero-King on his knees. Algol opens his mouth in a snarl, intending to praise his opponent, but a snap and a spark from Roy explodes the air within his lungs.

Without those organs, as vital to kings as they are to Hamon users, Algol slumps on the ground, dead.

Chapter 3

Akechi Goro laughs, Loki manifesting prominently above him. A group of homeless monks with laser swords gathers around him, having initially mistaken his own beam sword for their own. Now, driven mad by his power, they set about tearing down and ripping up the slums. The low hum of lightsabers flashing is almost drowned out by the screams of the dying, which fall deaf on the manic Jedi’s ears.

Another lightsaber ignites, the crimson color standing out amongst a sea of other hues. Strikes rain out from its wielder, quick as the lightning that sparks from his free hand, swiftly cutting a path through the crowd. The enormous man, emaciated and pale but still solid with muscle, casually slices through the ranks of his most hated enemy until Akechi spots him. The detective makes an exaggerated attempt to attack him, but is unceremoniously cut down by Bane’s superior skill.

A girl in a kimono peeks out from behind a wall after the man passes, the only intact thing left in the street. A red-haired girl peeks out from the other side, and the pair catches each other’s eyes.

“Hey, do you think we can maybe… not?” Len says, giving the other girl a friendly smile.

“I saw what you did with Hitoyoshi,” Susushiro replies, “Do you really think I’d let such dishonor stand?”

“Ah, I guess not,” Len says, grimacing, and places her weapon against the wall behind her. She then extends the broken blade of her sword, launching her at her enemy. She cartwheels in midair, going for an overhand blow, but the girl simply punches the Divine Sword aside. Falling back on her instincts, Len brings her shield up in time to block another punch from Suzushiro, sending her flying backwards. She lands on the wall and springs off, aiming to get close before Suzushiro can react.

A sudden, sharp increase in gravity slams her out of the air, nearly knocking her out.

“You’re not the only one who remembered the other loss conditions,” Suzushiro says coldly, “I merely have to wait here for a minute, and you’ll have lost.” She smiles, confident in her victory, and does as she said. After a minute, she simply returns gravity to normal and walks off. Len rolls on her back, gasping for air.

“Well, I’m at least alive,” she says, groaning as she struggles to her feet, only to see a British male in a beret looking at her sadly, revolver drawn.

“I’m sorry, girl, but El Alamein demands blood,” he says, and fires. His shaking hand did not throw his aim off, and Len falls back, dead.

As she hits the ground, a gong rings out in the slums, followed by an announcement of a district change.

Yukie runs towards the blue collar district, sending a strike at Fiona as she does so. The nun casually deflects it and calls down yet another rain of icicles, which Yukie, too pressed for finesse, simply obliterates with a single sword slash that breaks the sound barrier. Fiona is nearly blown away by the air pressure, but catches her balance at the last minute before hurriedly parrying another strike from her foe. That does knock her off balance, but even that was within her expectations.

“Pushing through the ground / seeking the bright light of day / mete silvery death,” she says, touching the ground as she regains her poise. A forest of spikes erupts from the ground, chilling the air to stillness. Yukie is able to react, jumping over the spikes and using her speed to bounce between them too fast for them to give her frostbite. Siegfried is not so lucky, as the spikes impale him and his horse both, their blood running through the forest of icicles.

Yukie skids to a stop in the blue collar district, looking around for Fiona in vain as the spikes grow ever taller, piercing through even buildings. She hears the sound of ice hitting ice, and barely manages to deflect the frozen spear before it pierces her flesh.

As if that were a cue, she hears the sound start again, this time repeated several hundredfold. Yukie takes a defensive stance, hoping to survive the oncoming storm.

Chapter 4

The shards of ice bear down on Yukie, pushing her concentration to the limit. Simply deflecting them could send them back at her after a bad ricochet, so each razor-sharp chunk found itself winding outside the forest of pillars. As she finds a rhythm, Yukie broadens her senses, trying to find the nun trying to kill her. The effort makes her sweat, despite the surrounding ice.

She finally notices a speck of life, and immediately calculates how to send the ice back at her assailant. The speck flares up in surprise as her own missiles find their way back to her, and that’s all Yukie needs. The icicles stop for a split second, and a swing of her katana shears through the ice. For the first time, Fiona’s usual composed face drops in shock as Yukie pins her with a glare before leaping towards her, moving almost too fast for her to react.

Barely in time, she manages to snap her magi in place and generate a new blade. It shatters under the force of the blow, but allows her to leap back. The wind from the passing slash picks her up, however, and blows her through the door of the house across the street. Yukie shakes the thin drop of blood off her sword and dashes forward, intending to impale her foe on her blade. She sees a glint of ice ahead of her and plows through the attack, splitting the shard in half and impaling the figure behind it.

Her moment of victory quickly turns into surprise, as she sees she’s impaled an ice sculpture instead of Fiona. A sound of rushing wind behind her causes her to let go of her blade and turn, catching Fiona’s hand in her own as the nun assassin tries to slash her from behind.

As the superhuman struggle continues, a young girl in a poofy dress makes her way past, exuding an aura of harmlessness. Hanakamakiri places her hands together under the sleeves, trying to betray no hint of her actual skill. She barely dodges out of the way of a grey man in grey clothes, the only defining feature the massive red lenses on his mask, as he approaches a heavily-muscled man in black robes.

“Lord Bane!” the Sith calls out, causing the man to look towards him. And towards her. Hanakamakiri immediately suppresses any hint of bloodlust, needing to remain entirely harmless if she were to get her target.

“What?” he growls, overlooking the frilly, weak-seeming woman in favor of the one trying to get his attention.

“The slums were nearly leveled, my lord. If that devastation were to come here…” he starts, clearly nervous about the battles to come

“Then what? You are Sith. You grow strong, feed off the weak, and make your way to the top. That is the way of the Dark Side.”

“We might not be strong enough to survive…”

“Then perish,” he snarls, not even moving as he grabs the lesser man in a force choke, “A Sith does not cry for help. He takes what he wants!”

His tirade is cut off, however, as he feels a blade sink into his shoulder. Hanakamakiri, having failed her one chance, kicks off of Bane’s back, pulling her claw-blade out and trying to flee. Bane, however, simply holds her fast in the air with the Force. He sends Force Lightning into his own wounds, using the heat to cauterize them, before turning to her.

“This is it,” he says, exulting, “Trickery, deception, making a foe drop their guard… You know power, girl. But you missed.” He ignites his lightsaber, holding it before his helpless foe. “Come find me after this fight. I will train you. Shape you, give you the strength to not miss next time. You will be a warrior like no other. But you are not yet there.”

Bane caps his soliloquy with a flick of his wrist, throwing his saber and impaling the girl, before yanking it back with the Force. He catches it and turns, striking the Sith Assassin down.

Overhead, Haar naps peacefully in the sky, his black dragon sharing in the simple pleasure of ignoring everyone else. That, like much else in the city, was broken in short order, this one by a blonde twat riding a blue dragon, shouting something incomprehensible and holding a sword.

“Up and at ‘em, partner,” he says, patting his dragon on the neck, “No shortage of idiots with swords.”

His wyvern roars in response, and he draws his axe as he flies over the rube, unaware his friendly greeting was taken for a threat. The wyvern then pulls into a dive, plummeting down towards the boy, who holds his sword up to block. The axe rends through the magic steel, Nihil disabling the magic holding it together, and digs deep into the youth’s shoulder.

Momentum pulls the idiot out of his saddle, sending him plummeting to the earth as Haar’s wyvern spins into a roll, its talons and teeth opening the blue dragon from belly to neck in an instant. After another couple rolls to shake the blood off, the pair climbs a little higher, hoping to continue their nap.

Yukie narrowly dodges a boy falling from the sky, not able to spare a thought for the new red stain on the ground. Her duel with Fiona continues yet on, seemingly without end. She tenses as Fiona draws a breath, intuition telling her what came next would be bad.

Fiona strikes at Yukie without pause, the usual rhythm broken in an unending hail of slashes and thrusts. Yukie blocks and defends, knowing that when Fiona did need to pause and take a breath, it would leave her vulnerable. She just had to be patient and wait for her chance. Surely, after the next flurry the woman would disengage to breathe.

Fiona just keeps attacking, the breathless rush abandoning subtlety and tricks to overwhelm with pure, unrelenting violence. Her continual strikes, coming fast enough that not even her opponent could react, were finally interrupted not by her need to breathe but by a pair of fiery slashes coming from her right.

Artorius continues the attack by slicing at Yukie, before intercepting Fiona’s next strike with a kick. The nun kicks back again, sending yet another a rain of icicles at her foe. Yukie, now needing to defend against two foes, also falls back slightly, taking stock of the situation. She and Fiona throw a glance at each other, and wordlessly commence their joint assault.

Artorius, unable to utilize his dominant hand, struggles valiantly for a few seconds before being impaled on a blade of steel and one of ice. The swords, moment of harmony over, once again aim at the throats of their foes.

Chapter 5

Two men and a schoolgirl pick their way through the broken buildings and broken people, Roy and Mat looking around in horror while Queen has a detached expression on her face. She steps around a pair of corpses, who had gotten on the wrong side of one of the intermittent icicle showers. One man in Greek armor lies bloody on the ground, seemingly about to gasp his last breath. Queen kneels in front of him and casts Cura on him. The man gasps in air and faints in relief as she gets up and continues on.

“You’re too used to war, Queen,” Roy says, “What kind of life have you lead to know this devastation at such a young age?”

“This isn’t devastation. The city’s still here,” Queen says, leaving Mat and Roy speechless.

“That’s not a very normal standard of war damage,” Mat says, tossing a knife as he rests his ashandarei on his shoulder, “Though I can’t say you’re wrong. If balefire was used here…”

“It’s also getting less ruined as we get farther from the slums,” Queen points out, “As the field thins, I think it’ll probably return to the usual style of urban warfare.”

“Quick ambushes and retreats,” Mat nods, understanding perfectly as they continue their stroll.

“Fighting in a city is never good,” Roy says, grimacing, “Even if you win, you’ll never live there peacefully.”

“Peace would be nice,” Queen says absently, “Would be a change from either losing a war and forgetting everyone I knew or winning and accidentally starting the end of the world.”

As the two men try to figure out how to respond to their companion, none of them notice a parasol dashing back around the corner. Suzushiro holds her breath as she creeps off in the other direction; she knew when she was at a disadvantage. After feeling she’s finally far enough, she leaps back from a flash of light, as a heavily-wounded man stabs a glowing spear through the heart of an older one.

Kaladin collapses as Joseph falls, his soul killed. The older man was cunning, and guileful foes put Kaladin at a disadvantage. The strange power he wielded had forced Kaladin to use up almost all of his spheres, leaving him with almost no Stormlight. As its glow left him, a gong rings out, announcing the district change.

He fumbles towards his sphere pouch before Syl, shifted back into a Spren, stops him.

“Let’s ask her for help,” she says, pointing at the still frightened Suzushiro, “I like her.” He nods and pulls his bruised and bloody body to rest against the wall as Syl flits over to the girl, requesting aid. Suzushiro walks over and closes her parasol, holding it out to Kaladin with the tip facing the ground.

“I have taken an oath not to touch a male other than my fiancée,” she says, “but you can at least use my parasol as a cane.”

Kaladin grabs hold of the wood and pulls himself to a standing position, too injured to do more than nod in thanks.

As they step into safety, however, the pair spot the three that Suzushiro had tried so hard to avoid. Kaladin inhales Stormlight from his last two spheres, healing his wounds and Lashing himself and Suzushiro in opposite directions, soaring over the massive explosion that nearly killed them both. He lands on the side of a building, while Suzushiro kicks off of the lamppost she had been Lashed to and throws a punch at Queen, who blocks with her sword and fires off Thunder ROK with her free hand. The ball of lightning hits Suzushiro sqare in the stomach, dropping her to the ground where a swift sword stroke finishes her off.

Kaladin, meanwhile, struggles to make headway against Mat, the Sylspear not damaging the power-wrought ashandarei. Mat the slams the butt of his spear into Kaladin’s chest, causing him to gasp in pain and let a little Stormlight leak out. A well-timed explosion from Roy sucks out the rest, leaving him ripe for a stab from Mat. The bridgeman dies, lamenting that he hadn’t more Stormlight.

Across the district, Haar swoops down alongside his dragon, touching ground for the first time in hours. He lands outside a café and enters, ordering food for both him and his wyvern. He then steps outside, looking for a place to sit, before approaching a blonde teenage girl and an elementary-schooler in a mouse-eared hoodie, and motions to the empty seat at their table. They nod, and he takes a seat as his wyvern lumbers up next to them.

“Hi,” he says, breaking the ice, “I’m Haar. New here.”

“Ayaka,” the blonde says, “and the short one’s Parcel.”

“Your part-time job doesn’t let you afford this,” Parcel points out tonelessly, and Ayaka simply pats her head in response.

“And I still don’t get how yours does.”

“Our pay is based on our wins, remember?”

“So if I do well now I can just sleep and be fine?” Harr interjects, hoping for a ticket to luxury.

“No. You don’t work, you don’t get paid. And have to pay more for school, if you’re a student,” Ayaka replies, grimacing, “I just wish any of the schools had dorms. “

“I keep telling you to sleep at my place. The mansion’s too damn big, and after his fight finishes it’ll just get bigger. Got to be better than your hole in the sewers,” Parcel says, trying once again to get the stubborn girl to sleep somewhere proper.

“Ah… If you live in the sewers you might not have a house,” Haar says, “The others kind of destroyed most of the system.”

Ayaka gasps in horror, turning pale, while Parcel gives a triumphant smile.

“Now you have to find somewhere else to sleep,” she says, “And I have a spare bedroom. Or more like ten.”

“All right, you win,” Ayaka says, grinning at the younger girl through a mouthful of burger, “Still wish they’d kept the dorms from Operation Zodiac.”

“Operation Zodiac?” Haar chimes in as he tosses another cut of his steak to his wyvern, “Sounds like a pain.”

“Ah, right, you’re new,” Ayaka says, “So here’s how things work…”

Chapter 6

Queen hangs back as her allies walk ahead of her, and looks around. She could no longer remember most of the other competitors, and as she had predicted the wanton property damage and general chaos that had defined the early stages of the competition died down considerably. With that in mind, an alliance was now a liability. With no way of knowing when she would be betrayed, the logical option was to betray first.

That in mind, she summons her sword as Mat turns to ask her why she had stopped. Queen uses Speedrush, appearing directly before the man and slicing him open from hip to shoulder before he could so much as shout in alarm. Another Speedrush took her to Roy’s side, where she repeats the maneuver. She fixes her skirt and dismisses her sword as the gong signaling a district change rang out once again, her former companions already forgotten.

Elsewhere, Yukie parries yet another series of strikes from Fiona, grimacing at the effort. She immediately pivots her sword to block a razor-sharp pillar of ice that threatened to gouge her side, and lets go of the handle to punch Fiona back, the nun vulnerable from her leap to strike overhead. Fiona flips in midair, launching horizontally off of one of her ice platforms aiming a slash towards Yukie’s neck with one hand while using her other to call down an icicle from above.

Yukie, however, was simply no longer there. The younger girl sprints towards the boundary to the wealthy district, aiming for safety before continuing the fight. Fiona indulges her, also sprinting to safety, and parries another strike as she crosses the line. A follow-up punch catches her unaware, and she ends up flying through the air again. She rights herself, and sends a flurry of ice spears behind her to destroy the house wall before it hits her.

A path of ice underneath allows her to slow her momentum, skidding to a stop below the large chandelier, shaped like an A without the middle bar. Yukie pursues, not letting her foe catch her breath with a furious series of slashes and stabs. As she keeps up her assault, however, she sees the blue circles indicating Fiona’s magic appear and disappear. She draws back, not sure what her foe was planning, and evades the pair of icicles that would have split her head in two. Fiona sides in under them, preventing Yukie from continuing her attacks by launching a rush of her own.

As before, she strikes without even pausing for breath. Yukie, however, has formed a countermeasure. Instead of wasting her energy seeking an opening, she instead stores it, compressing her muscles and fighting aura into as small movements as she possibly can. After the gong finally sounds again, signaling ten minutes since Queen had killed her comrades, Fiona finally makes a low dash back, gasping for breath.

Taking her chance, Yukie unleashes all her stored energy in one swift strike, moving so fast that not even Fiona can track her movements. Her simple forward charge leaves a wake behind her, only halting when Fiona’s length of ice wire slices through her neck and arms. Momentum sends the pieces of her body slamming into the wall in front of her, and her katana clear through the rest of the mansion and impaling its owner as he entered through the back door.

“A valiant life / shining brightly like the sun / cut by silver strings,” Fiona says, eulogizing her opponent before breathing a sigh of relief. She lets her sword melt, stretching after nearly two hours of continuous combat. She is about to close her eyes when she looks up, spotting Haar and his dragon circling the area. She grimaces as she mutters the incantation to form her ice platforms, the words matching her profession but not her current mood.

“The nameless deceased / have but a single purpose / as a stepping stool”

The shock of an impact on his armor shakes Haar awake, and he sleepily swipes at Fiona, who simply lets her blade break as she falls, using another platform to leap over the dragon and re-forms her sword to strike the beast’s neck. Haar’s axe intercepts the blow, shaking the pair fully awake. Again she flips and bounces off of a sheet of magic ice, and aims another strike at Haar. Barely making it past his guard, it rings off his armor.

A sharp pain runs through Fiona as Counter activates, nearly throwing her out of the sky entirely. She freezes the cloud below her, getting her bearings back as Haar wheels around for a counterattack. Fiona parries the blow, once again flipping through the sky and leaping off another platform to strike back. Her blade meets his axe, and her eyes widen in surprise as her ice spears fail to materialize before momentum brings her past the pair. She creates a wall in midair, which she uses to change course to the side as Haar, flying upside down, slams his axe through it. He wheels around for a follow-up and strikes again, the force behind it throwing Fiona away despite blocking it.

Another series of ricochets brings Fiona in range once again, and she brings her blade once again into a slash. Haar leans back in the saddle, avoiding the blow, and slams his axe into her unprotected back. The gong rings out as her lifeless body falls, signaling the final district change.

Chapter 7

Haar follows into a dive, knowing that he could no longer avoid combat. He pulls up before hitting the ground, flaring his wings before the enormous, muscled man staring down a petite schoolgirl. The three pause, each taking stock of their final foes. The wind blows dramatically between them, as their stare-off continues, until the second gong rings out. Taking that as their cue, they all move at once, a whirlwind of light, steel, and fangs.

Queen opens with a Speedrush, hoping to kill Bane before he could pull out any of his tricks. As she appears in front of him, however, the larger man is already bringing his lightsaber down. Queen immediately rolls to the side while charging up Thundaga SHG, and lets loos a barrage of lightning at Bane once she lands. The Sith Lord catches it on his lightsaber, and redirects it to blast at Haar while he returns fire with his own barrage of lightning.

Queen swiftly casts Wall, and the torrent of Dark Side energy breaks the magical barrier but goes no further. Haar dodges, directing his wyvern to stall Bane while he slashes at Queen, but Bane lets loose a powerful Force Push that sends him careening towards the teenager. Queen leaps back, letting loose a point-blank gust of wind that Haar’s wyvern uses to right himself. Bane takes the opportunity to stab forward with his lightsaber, aiming directly at Haar’s heart.

Luckily for the wyvern knight, both Miracle and Counter activate, forcing the deadly blade off-course and causing a spurt of blood to erupt from Bane’s side. Haar’s wyvern flaps his wings, sending Bane off-balance while gaining distance. Bane, noting the retreating Haar, instead grabs Queen in a Force Grip. He squeezes the life out of his more dangerous foe as he sends his lightsaber towards her to finish her off. Before it hits, the girl falls limp, red mist leaving her body.

Bane sneers and lets her fall, noticing the glyph on the ground too late. As Queen touches it, she vanishes. Instead, a massive, armored knight on a six-legged steed appears in her place, kicking the ground and sending the other two reeling with its mere presence. Odin immediately fires off Moonring Blade, which Bane dodges. Haar takes a glancing blow, but with Killstrike that’s all that’s needed.

Haar drops out of the sky, dead, until Bane catches the corpses with the Force and throws them at the rampaging knight. A single strike from his sword sends them sailing through the air, shattering the windows of a mansion. Bane rips pieces out of another mansion, throwing them at Odin, who either dodges the rubble or smashes them with his sword. Bane keeps the assault up, hoping his foe tires first.

Odin takes an opening, however, and fires off a volley of Moonring Blades. Bane deflects the strikes that would have hit him with the Force, and lets the rest slam into the mansion behind him, reducing it to rubble. Rather than letting it fall, however, he redirects the avalanche of stone and brick towards his enemy, hoping to get at least one hit in.

Odin, defying all his expectations, instead rides along the stream of rubble, an orb pf magic glowing at the tip of his sword. He disrupts the path with a single gesture, sending the knight into the air. As Odin falls, however, he lands on a piece of rubble and lets loose his ultimate attack, Zantetsuken.

Before Bane can so much as blink, Odin has crossed the several meters of air between them, swinging his sword. The Sith barely has time to feel surprise before the massive chunk of metal shears through his body, tearing him in half. A second later, Odin also vanishes, leaving both Queen and Bane dead on the ground.

Epilogue

A few minutes later, Queen, now alive again, stands outside the grounds of her new 92,000 square-foot mansion, next to the man in an orange mask who had sponsored her entry into the city.

“Congratulations on your victory,” Leo says, gesturing at the home, “It’s yours. On the opposite side of the district from where you wrecked things as Odin, and about ten minutes’ walk from DFederal North, which has facilities for students your age.”

“Thank you, though I’d also have thought you’d be able to fix the damage with how easily you made this home,” she says, adjusting her glasses in disapproval.

“That was the original plan, but well… one of the bureaus requested it. I may have stepped down from their number, but it’s still helpful to have him owe me a favor. Especially if I don’t need it for a bit and can watch him worry about what it’ll be.”

“So even here there’s politics,” she sighs.

“Yes, but you’ll likely find it won’t touch you much. In fact, with this you’re now the wealthiest warrior in the city. You likely won’t need to worry about more combat, either.”

“Peace, huh,” Queen says, looking again at her new home.

“Ah, I almost forgot,” Leo says, his deadpan manner making the statement seem a lie, “I’ve got a bit of a tradition in these. The victor gets a wish granted.”

“In that case… I’d like for my classmates to join me.”

“That’s doable. Should take a little over a year for the whole class. Ace and Deuce might be coming in a little earlier than the others,” Leo says, scribbling a note on a pad.


In the depths of the sewers, Kai Leng lies in his new hole, the 25-by-25 square placed strategically by one of those running the city near an intake pipe. A wave of raw waste surges through, passing through his home. The water rises over him, causing him to cry out in pain as it sweeps over the gangrenous, bleeding wounds he had received from Diarmuid. His cries echo through the tunnels even once the waste stops flowing, interrupted by the harsh sound of stone scraping as someone outside opens the ineffective door.

“Well, aren’t you unfortunate,” a soothing voice floats into his ears, “I think we can help you out.”

Kai, grasping onto any form of salvation, cracks his eyes open and sees a man in a wolf mask staring down at him as others in similar garb prepare what appears to be a stretcher.

“My name is Alpha,” his savior says, “I think we can work together to get you what you deserve.”

Report

22nd: Kai Leng, 8 points
Woefully arrogant and less than competent, Kai Leng did horribly. He simply did not live up to his ego. Eat shit, Kai.
21st: Miu Yarai, 17 points
Miu fell second because of her general naiveté and lack of proper combat experience. Further, her general mindset of de-escalation simply does not help during a BR when opponents can be far stronger than she is.
20th: Tal Graile-Rerem, 19 points
Tal suffers from similar pitfalls as Miu, and only really places higher because his light-based magic fucks with her vampire shit.
19th: Aoi Kamishiro, 31 points
Aoi, while significantly more capable than Tal and Miu, is also kind of an idiot. Not even the most unexpected Monty Python reference could save her from her own recklessness.
18th: Azaka Kokutou, 35 points
Azaka simply didn’t have enough power to muscle through all the competitors in the sewers, and not enough room to use those powers to their fullest. Also fucking fire in a tunnel is a terrible idea.
17th: Hitomi Hitoyoshi, 50 points
Hitomi was unlucky, as the scenario tests not only pure combat ability but also mobility. Her heelies fucked her up there, and she never made it out of the sewers.
16th: Algol, 53 points
Much like Kai, his ego was far greater than his power. Unlike Kai, this is actually saying something. Regardless, he makes more reckless decisions than his power can handle, and ultimately got shanked for it.
14th: Akechi Goro and Len Ese, 54 points
Akechi likes to showboat and feed his own ego, which is a fatal flaw against stronger opponents. Len simply doesn’t have enough combat experience to make it much farther, and is only able to get this far based on her inherited knowledge and quick wit.
13th: Siegfried of the Netherlands, 71 points
Despite his large arsenal, superhuman strength, and nigh-invulnerability, Siegfried is ultimately just not strong enough to survive his good nature. He does make it this far due to still being a crafty bugger, but from here up there’s mostly schemers and people who can get around his invulnerability.
12th: Hanakamakiri, 82 points
Hanakamakiri is highly skilled at disguise, misdirection, and stealth. While she would have done very well in Operation Zodiac, where keeping hidden is key, this match also has open combat. That is her biggest weakness, and ultimately what places her in twelfth.
11th: Artorius Collbrande, 86 points
Artorius bows out at this point due to his unusable dominant hand limiting his options. He has ample skill and magic abilities, but one glaring weakness does him in.
10th: Joseph Joestar, 87 points
Similar to Hanakamakiri, Joseph’s wits and quick thinking get him far in this match. While he is fairly capable in open combat, he’s ultimately at a disadvantage with his powerset.
9th: Suzushiro Shikikagura, 95 points
Suzushiro’s main failing is that she specializes in one type of attack and one type only. She makes it this far because her abilities allow her to force two of the loss conditions on her opponent – incapacitation or outright murder. She’s reaching the point where others can counter her, though.
8th: Kaladin Stormblessed, 103 points
Kaladin’s powers are practically tailor-made for this match, granting him superior fighting ability, healing, and unmatched mobility. He falls because those powers are restricted by his behavior.
6th: Matrim Cauthon and Roy Mustang, 116 points
Both Mat and Roy have abilities that are simple, but very powerful. They’re both fairly good at gaining allies. All the remaining combatants are also able to counter their special gimmicks.
5th: Mayuzumi Yukie, 127 points
Yukie’s simply too good with her sword. She misses the top four because her skill is fairly narrowly focused on sword combat and speed, while the rest are either good at everything or can metagame.
4th: Fiona Annabel Kousaki, 133 points
Fiona’s gotten this far on her versatility, skills, and inventiveness. She’s smart enough to plan carefully and skilled enough to put those plans into action. She misses the top three because she’s missing a way to metagame.
3rd: Haar, 142 points
Haar gets this far because he can just sleep on his dragon and surprise foes with Nihil. His actual abilities are very straightforward and nothing really special, especially when compared to others below him. He can force a fight on his terms, however, and can throw an opponent’s plans off by just enough to give him a kill shot.
2nd: Darth Bane (Legends), 145 points
Bane has everything necessary to do well in this match: raw power, mobility, intelligence, and the ability to cheat the loss conditions. He misses first due not to any major flaw of his own, but rather a bad match-up.
1st: Queen, 154 points
Queen is an excellent all-rounder, which is exactly what this scenario favors. What propels her to first, however, is her ability to cheat death while making it easier to kill those who would have been victorious.

Expert's Opinion

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Battle vs. Yoshikage Kira (by BeastMan14)

Chapter 1: The Detective Prince Takes the Case!

Delphini Diggory frowned as she trudged up the stairs to her apartment, fishing the keys out of her jacket and opening the door. Her apartment was modest, respectable in the grander scale of things, and not too far from school. She had hoped University would improve her mood, but the recent wounds ran deep enough that seeing old friends just wasn’t enough.

Her own father, the Dark Lord himself, had laid his eyes upon and coldly told her that she was not his. After years of waiting to meet him, it had been brutal, to say the least. Sighing, she set her bag down on the couch, then walked over to the cupboards, opening the door and levitating a box of pasta with a flick of her wand before grabbing a pot and filling it with water. Perhaps a good dinner and catching something on television would cheer her up. Setting aside her wand, she stirred the pot as the water boiled, humming a tune to herself.

A small snap broke her out of her focus and she turned as her door flew open. She squinted, confused, as a shadowy figure entered the apartment. Grabbing her wand, she aimed it at the figure, who smirked and stood still.

“How did you get in here? I locked that door!”

The figure chuckled coldly, and as he shifted his footing, Delphini got a better look at him. He was wearing a white and purple suit, with spiky black hair being the only distinguishable feature about his face. He stared back at her as she glared at him before casually replying, “Well, you just looked so inviting. I was hoping you wouldn’t mind if I let myself in.”

Delphini shook her head, voice quavering as she pointed towards the door with her wand.

“I’m going to give you one chance to go back through the door before I-I-“

Kira raised an eyebrow, looking her over before finishing her sentence, “-blast me to pieces? Trust me, you won’t get the chance.”

She lowered the wand slightly, confused, before stammering, “What?”

Kira’s smirk grew into a victorious smile as a pink humanoid creature holding it’s thumb up appeared behind him. Kira raised his hand in a similar motion, then answered, “Because Killer Queen has already touched your wand.” before clicking his thumb down.

Delphini let out a scream as her body was instantly disintegrated, leaving only her hand, clutching firmly onto the wand as it hit the ground with a quiet thud. Tossing the wand aside, Kira looked at the hand, smiling serenely as he caressed his face with it. After a few moments with his new girlfriend, Kira tucked the hand into his coat pocket, then gently closed the door behind him.


Adjusting his tie in the bathroom mirror, Akechi Goro silently cursed the department for refusing to pay for any more of his dry cleaning. Now, he had to wear casual clothing while he was in the sewers, that change into his suit once he got to work so he didn’t smell like filth all day. He had been brought to this strange city against his will, forced to fight in a truly hellish royale, and what was his reward? A home next to a sewage pipe. He was the Detective Prince, for god’s sake, and they truly disrespected him like this?

Lost in his frustrated thoughts, Akechi didn’t notice Detective Wolf until he bumped directly into him as he left the bathroom. Looking the larger man over, he smiled sheepishly and said, “Oh! My apologies, Detective Wolf. I didn’t see you there!”

Taking a drag of his cigarette, Wolf replied, “You can just call me Bigby, kid. C’mon, Sergeant Pleasant wants everyone together for a briefing.”

Keeping the smile for the time being Akechi nodded, then followed Bigby as he walked into the meeting room and took a table, waiting patiently for several other detectives to file in. Akechi scrunched his nose as the stench of cigarettes wafted into the room.

Don’t these morons know how unhealthy those are? Or are they too addicted to care?

After a few minutes, the noise of conversation died down as Sergeant Skullduggery Pleasant entered the room, folder tucked under his arm. Setting the folder down on his podium, Pleasant, wearing the best expression of annoyance that someone with no face could really have, opened it, pulled out a picture of a young girl labelled “D. Diggory”, and placed the photo on the whiteboard behind him, under a section labelled “Disappearances” with three other women, pictures labelled “M. Chang”, “A. Yuuki”, and “S. Byrne”.

The sight of a new addition caused several gasps throughout the room, and Pleasant turned back to the group and began speaking.

“This is the fourth disappearance in two months. Seeing as how these women, entirely unrelated from one another, have somehow managed to completely vanished, it’s officially up to our department to figure this one out.”

Listening to the presentation, Akechi folded his hands together and leaned forward, listening intently. The case itself was intriguing, and he hadn’t found anything in this city this interesting since he discovered exactly where…his rival was living. For his part, Bigby slouched in his chair, smoking his cigarette and nodding along to the occasional note.

Pleasant continued, “Now, obviously this is a high-priority case, but I’ve received word from some of the higher-ups, or whatever it is they call themselves nowadays, that if the disappearances continue, they’ll have to institute a curfew.”

This earned numerous groans from throughout the room, and an older blonde Englishman, also smoking a cigarette, yelled from the back, “Another bleedin’ curfew? Christ, we just got outta the last one!”

Pleasant nodded, then replied, “Well, it’s either that or even more women go missing, so if we want to be able to go out past 8 for the foreseeable future, I’d suggest we get to work on this. Now, who wants lead on this?”

A hand went up almost immediately, and the entire room turned to see that it belonged to Akechi, who sat up straight and smiled eagerly. Surprised, Pleasant pointed at him and said, “Detective Goro? You really want this case?”

Akechi grinned. A case as high-profile as this was simply too good to pass up. It was a chance to prove that he wasn’t just some foolish kid playing adult and, assuming another citizen was behind this, he could potentially get out of those damned sewers.

“Of course, Sergeant. I’ll happily take this one and have it solved in no time at all, really.”

Pleasant seemed impressed before responding, “Okay, Detective Goro, it’s yours. Stop by Records and they’ll give you everything we’ve got on the missing women. Everyone else, dismissed.”

The murmured conversation continued as the group shuffled out of the room, and Akechi was mildly glad to be hearing his name pop up a few times. Stamping out his cigarette, Bigby clapped his hand on Akechi’s shoulder and simply said, “Good luck, kid.” before leaving. Now alone in the room, Akechi grinned and leaned back in his chair.

Well, this shouldn’t be too much trouble, should it?


Sandwich bag in his hand and girlfriend tucked safely into his coat, Kira hummed a tune to himself as he walked down the street to the bus stop. When he had arrived into this city, he had been deeply confused, terrified even, at the chaos of a brave new world. But after some time, a bit of which was spent as a ghost, he had adapted and learned to thrive in his new surroundings. After all, the best way to lay low was to blend in, and in a city filled with all sorts of monsters and threats, who would pay attention to a man doing his best to live a normal life?

Of course, he had some concerns, namely keeping himself in check. Back in Morioh, he was able to keep his urges under control, not needing to find a new girlfriend for weeks at a time, but here? He had gone through three in a mere two months. He wasn’t sure what was causing this, but ever since his strange dreams, he had found himself waking up to find his nails growing unfathomably long.

Normally he slept so peacefully, but ever since these dreams of a strange being with yellow eyes, he had found himself disturbed.

He pushed the troubled thoughts out of his mind as he stepped onto the bus. He shouldn’t concern himself with such things when he was having such a nice day out on the town with his new girl, and so instead his mind wandered to the radio, which appeared to be stuck on a news broadcast.

“In a recent interview with Capone’s Speakeasy, Chairman Beast criticized the government’s role in both the Tarot and World War Royale incidents, citing death tolls and expenses in comparison to his “Battle Dome” project. This comes following a recent poll shows citizenship faith in the government at an all-time low, while Beast’s own approval rating nearly doubled-“

Kira rolled his eyes. He had no interest in politics. As long as the lights stayed on and the roads were paved, he was perfectly fine with a rotating line of fools who felt the need to put themselves in the spotlight. As for him, he had everything he needed.


Akechi rubbed his eyes wearily as he stared at the files scattered across his table. He had requested they all be plastic wrapped so he could take them home and the department had fortunately agreed, after a few strange looks.

Outside of having to work in his filthy, mildly moist home, the truly frustrating element of this case was the randomness of it. Four different women from four different backgrounds, all totally unrelated, going missing over two months was truly odd, even for him. It felt like being put in a dark maze with no idea where the walls were, let alone the paths ahead.

It was moments like this he wished had Sae, or even…them, with him, to bounce ideas off of. At the very least, an ideological sparring match could give him a much-needed mental warm-up. His eyes floated to his watch, which read 1:13 AM, and he sighed as he began gathering the files. He’d been given a less strict schedule to allow him to fully devote himself to the case, but he still didn’t like staying up any later than possible. Harder to plan with little sleep. He gathered the files, carefully tucked them into a safe area to avoid any potential bursts of sewage from ruining them, then lied down on his cot before drifting slowly off to sleep.

When Akechi’s eyes opened, he was no longer in his home. Instead, he found himself in a small room with the floor a checkerboard pattern while the curtains were a sickly yellow. He looked around in confusion, mumbling, “What on earth?” to himself before a voice replied, “Not Earth. Not anywhere.”

Akechi turned at the sound to see a long-haired, very tired looking young man in a ratty hoody sitting across from him. Akechi stared, baffled, as the man gestured for someone to come forward, and a woman in a blue dress with pink hair stepped forward, jug of some purple liquid in her hand, then poured the liquid into a cup in the man’s hand. She turned to look at Akechi and held up the jug.

He shook his head in response, then looked down to see a cup in his hand. Before he could say no properly, the woman stepped forward and poured the drink into his cup, Akechi watching in disgust as it solidified instantly upon touching the glass. The woman stepped back, and he noticed now that her eyes were an entirely solid white.

“Apologies for Ramona 2,” the man explained, looking wearily at his apparent assistant, “She is…inferior.”

Upon further inspection, Akechi recognized a film projector screen, showing first-person footage of a man doing paperwork, and a fully stocked bar behind him, but it wasn’t really answering the real question here. Turning back to the man, he sheepishly asked, “Do you mind telling me exactly where I am?”

The man shrugged, then replied, “You are in my prison. Time is short, so I give you a dire warning.”

Akechi leaned forward at the mention of a warning and the man continued, eyes unfocusing as he stared ahead.

“The game has begun. The cat will strike again in one week. He has chosen the cat as his champion, and now, you are mine, detective.”

Akechi pounded his fist on the arm of his chair and asked, “Who? Who is the cat, then? Tell me so I can stop them!”

The man shook his head.

“The game is not that simple. I can offer no help beyond what I tell you now. The Prince must rise or else it will all fall. And when you see the goateed man, tell him this: the Demon with Yellow Eyes draws near.”

Akechi sighed, rubbing his temple in annoyance. Clearly this man was some form of lunatic, and he very much had better things to do than sit around in…wherever he was. He tried to stand, but his legs wouldn’t cooperate.

“What the hell? How do I leave?”

The man smiled and replied, “You don’t.” before reaching under the chair and pulling out a revolver. Still grinning, he placed it to his head and pulled the trigger. Akechi flinched, waiting for the bang, only to stare in bafflement as a small green dart with a plastic tip exited the barrel and stuck to to the man's forehead. Tossing the gun aside, the man laughed, the girl joining them, and the laugh grew louder and louder, eventually forcing Akechi to put his hands over his ears and squeeze his eyes shut to drown out the cacophony of noise.

And when he opened them, he was home again.

Sitting up with a groan as his back cracked, Akechi checked his watch. Somehow, that dream of his had kept him occupied for six hours. He got out of bed and pulled out the files from their hiding spot, the strange man’s words still echoing through his head. He needed to preoccupy his mind, so he supposed he could swing by the crime scene and see what he could uncover.

Chapter 2: So Now We've Shaken the Tree

The blonde woman smiles as she looks at him. Taking her hands away from the tablet she was working on, she places them gently on Kira’s face, and he closes his eyes and quietly hums in satisfaction as she ever so gently strokes his cheeks. In the corner, a shadowy figure, eyes yellow, watches, but Kira pays them no mind. Suddenly, a tantalizing finger goes to his mouth, and he grins before reaching out with his tongue and-

The alarm, set exactly for 7:00 AM, jolts Kira from his sleep. He shifts and stretches his arm, yawning and groaning as he hears his back set into place, then smiles as he sees his girlfriend tucked in next to him. A pang of guilt goes through him as he remembers his dream and how she was not the star of it, but it’s gone as soon as it arrives. After all, a happily dedicated man such as himself can have a naughty dream now and then, can’t he?

Standing up from bed, Kira turns off the alarm, then stretches his arms out before touching his toes. Tucking his arms in, he then pivots his hips from side to side before finally running in place for a few minutes. Finally, he puts his arms behind his back, one above the shoulder and the other below, and connects his hands, holding them for a few seconds before exhaling and releasing. His morning stretches complete, he took his girlfriend out of bed and walked down the hallway to the kitchen.

As he put the coffee on, he overlooked the city around him and smiled. He had his misgivings about the amnesiac ghost mishap, but in return it had netted him a much larger home with a bedroom, kitchen, dining room, living room, and a view to die (or in his case, kill) for. Placing a kiss on her knuckle, Kira set his girlfriend down on a special spot reserved for her on the dining table, then walked back to the kitchen to make breakfast.

Stirring the eggs, he thought about the agenda for the day. He’d go to work, obviously, then perhaps he’d take another stroll around town. He’d heard a band was playing at Ash’s tonight, though he admittedly wasn’t one for rock music, so he and his girlfriend could check that out. Or perhaps they’d have a quiet night in, with popcorn and a movie. Or he could try to figure out who exactly that dream girl that had captivated him so was. Not that he was bored of his current flame, of course, but she would wither away eventually and it was best to be prepared. The options were truly limitless. Best of all, he didn’t stand out at all.

Truly, he had earned the quiet life he so thoroughly desired.


Akechi surveyed Delphin Diggory’s apartment, giving it a brief inspection as he walked from the three rooms. It had been left untouched by the regular police and detectives initially working it following an order from the Magic Department, so ideally any evidence left behind would be there for Akechi to find. He frowned and tapped his chin in contemplation. It occurred to him that evidence gathering was not really his forte, but he’d just have to think outside of the box on this. After all, he had found the Thieves identities, so how hard could finding clues in a small apartment possibly be?

Taking a few steps back, he started at the door and looked it over, noting the burn marks on the lock. Clearly, something had simply blown the door open. But, neighbors had reported no odd noises or activity that night, so perhaps they had used something more quiet? He had heard some confusing rumblings of “stealth C4” during the Wolves uprising, but that had been mostly dismissed by the department upon further investigation. And besides, he rather doubted that a young girl could’ve done much to anger a dormant terrorist force.

Keeping a mental note of it, he walked into the kitchen, ignoring the burns on the stove and counter from the water left boiling. The notes had mentioned signs that Delphini had been preparing food, so it was unlikely she was intending to leave. So, either she left quickly or she was taken, and given the abrupt other disappearances, the latter was likely, but even a moron could’ve assessed that from the start. Effectively, he had used his time here to put himself back to square one.

Akechi turned to leave the kitchen and paused, brow furrowed in confusion, as his foot tapped on something under the stove. It was rigid and fairly pointy, at least from initial feel, and he raised his foot to see the top half of a wooden stick pointing out from under the stove. Crouching, he bent down and pulled the stick out, looking it over with an intrigued expression as he inspected the strange designs across it. He couldn’t place it, but it looked…familiar? Like he had seen one like it before?

He beamed as realization dawned on him. He’d seen another detective in the Magic division using one of these before, so he’d be a good source on what exactly it was and why it was left behind. Tucking the wand into his coat pocket, Akechi smiled as he headed for the door. He’d been in the girl’s apartment a mere half hour, and he’d already found a major clue.


A few minutes after Akechi left, a quiet creaking noise, accompanied by hushed whispers, came through the window of her bedroom. The latch on the window rustled, before a small electric jolt snapped it open, and a bald young man in a gray t-shirt and black jeans, with a satchel and some form of metal tuning fork slung over his back, climbed through the window. After checking to make sure the coast was clear, the man stepped back and gestured for another to come through. This one, a well-dressed man in shades, tumbled through the open window and hit the ground with an annoyed “fuck!”. The bald man showed concern, but was waved away.

“Piss off, Cole, I’ve climbed more than a few buildings in my life."

Cole MacGrath smirked and stepped away, hands raised defensively, before replying, “Yeah, you looked like a pro at it, Pete.”

Using one hand to flip off Cole while he used the other to activate the communicator in his ear, Pete Wisdom spoke with a simple, “Elijah, we’re in.”

Sitting in his home, Elijah responded, calm and commanding, with, “Good. I want a full inspection of the apartment. Anything stands out, you take a note of it and pass it on.” Looking the apartment over, Cole replied, “Shouldn’t be too hard. Hell, this is barely bigger than my old room back at the University.”

Inspecting the burn damages on the stove, Pete quipped, “Well, we can confirm she wasn’t particularly tidy. Shameful for a fellow Brit, really.”

Cole crouched to look at the broken lock and nodded appraisingly. Forced open, but not physically. Whoever did it had powers of some form. He stood up and leaned towards the communicators on his satchel strap, activating it and asking, “Now, last I checked, we got a few mysteries that you’ve got us looking into, so there any reason why we’re handling one the cops have already got?”

Elijah snapped back, “Because it’s an unknown factor, and you both know by now that I hate surprises. And as for the police, our source in the department said that they’ve got some sort of “boy detective” looking into it, and I’d rather not leave something like this to a child. Now, how have you two found anything worthwhile, or is it like the others?”

Pete grimaced as he took a whiff of the thoroughly burnt pasta, then closed the pot before responding, “Picked clean, just like the three. Waste of a good climb.”

Elijah cursed.

“Damnit. Alright, take one last sweep then get out of there before anyone gets suspicious. We’ll keep an ear to the ground on this. If women are disappearing, we need to figure out who’s doing it and why before this gets out of hand.”

After inspecting the apartment one last time, Cole gestured towards the window, then laughed as Pete flipped him off again before walking out the front door. Still chuckling, Cole climbed out the window, carefully closing it behind him for good measure.


As Akechi weaved through various officers at work in the DFPD, occasionally muttering a polite “Excuse me.”, he focused intently on reaching the Magic division before the man he was looking for left. He didn’t particularly feel like waiting until tomorrow, especially since the warning (if you could even call something so surreal and rambling a warning) made clear he was working on a limited schedule. Turning a corner, he breathed a sigh of relief as he recognized the back of his target’s head by the shaggy dark hair that reminded him, to some degree, of his rival.

Forcing the thought out of his mind, he waved and shouted, “Detective Potter!”

Harry turned at the sound of Akechi approaching and offered a polite smile.

“Oh, Detective Goro. Is everything alright?”

Akechi grinned and rubbed the back of his head sheepishly.

“Well, I’m doing as well as someone working a case as odd as mine can be doing, really. That’s why I wanted to speak with you, actually. I found an odd piece of evidence when I was overlooking the recent missing girl’s apartment and I assumed you may be of some help. Would you happen to know anything-“

He drew the stick out of his coat pocket and handed it to Harry, who looked it over in surprise. Before finishing the sentence, Akechi smirked. He knew he was on to something. “-about this?”

Inspecting the stick in wonder, Harry looked back to Akechi and replied, “This is…hard to explain. Let’s go back to my desk.”

Nodding, Akechi followed Harry back to his desk in the division office and sat down. Setting the stick down, Harry reached into his coat and pulled out one of his own, longer with a completely different design.

“Every wizard, or at least the ones like me, has a wand specially chosen for them. Or, well, the wand specially chooses the wizard. It’s how we’re able to cast spells. What you found here means that the missing girl was like me. The name Diggory sounded familiar, but I didn’t believe it could be connected.”

Akechi tilted his head quizzically and asked, “Is that name important to you?”

He paused, a look of sadness crossing his face, then replied, “It did once. I had a friend who I…lost, a long time ago. But, it doesn’t matter now. What matters is: how did you find this?” Akechi leaned forward, excitedly mapping things out with his hands as he talked.

“I was looking through the girl’s apartment when I found it under the stove. I knew I recognized it, so I brought it to you, on a hunch. I’m glad to see I was correct. My question is: would a “wizard” like yourself simply abandon your wand, under any circumstances?”

Harry shook his head.

“Absolutely not. We can’t use magic without them. We’d basically be Muggles without them.” Akechi paused to contemplate the word “Muggles” and considered asking what it meant, but he had more important things to work on. Perhaps he’d ask later, when this was over. With a satisfied smile, he stood up from Harry’s desk and offered his hand, which he shook, with a look of confusion, after a few moments.

“I take it you’ve figured something out.”

“Nothing too major, but I can finally confirm what I’ve feared: a serial killer is targeting these women. If this wand is as as important as you say, there’s no chance the Diggory girl would leave it behind. So, I just need to figure out how this killer operates.” Harry smiled.

“That’s brilliant, Akechi! Let’s go tell Sergeant Pleasant so he can-“

“Absolutely not. I need something more concrete before I even dream of giving the Sergeant my findings. I’m going to find out what connects the victims and hopefully work from there. As for you, you can log that wand into evidence. We’re going to get it back to that girl once this is over, but for now, I want it somewhere safe.”

Nodding, Harry tried to reply, but Akechi had already turned and left. He sighed, having been given a vivid flashback to working with Hermione when she set her mind to something, then looked at the wand again. Another wizard like him and Hermione had been in this city the entire time, and he’d been totally unaware. Perhaps Ron was out there somewhere. He made a mental note to check later, then stood from his desk to take the note to Evidence Processing.

Thoughts raced through Akechi’s mind as he walked down the halls. Obviously, he’d suspected a killer from the start, but the confirmation was nice. Now, it just raised the question of what exactly made them target these four women, none of whom had a single thing in common. He was certain an answer would come to him once he got back to his place and looked the files over.

Of course, Akechi had found himself so lost in thought that he failed to notice the crackling orange portal that opened up in front of him until he fell through it with an unceremonious yelp. The portal closed as quickly as it opened, and a baffled DFPD officer stared at the ground where it had been before taking a sip of coffee and shrugging it off. He’d seen weirder.

Chapter 3: Who Am I To Judge?

Akechi’s cry of shock gave way to a pained “oof” as the portal opened and dropped him face-first onto hardwood floor. Groaning, he pulled himself to his feet and warily looked around. He was in a mansion of some form, with suits of armor and paintings adorning the walls while a tall staircase led to a dark hallway, it’s distinguishing feature a window with some form of design on it. His hand rested on his pistol as he climbed the staircase, only to be stopped by the silhouette of a man floating in the air and blocking the window before speaking with a commanding, “That’s far enough for now, Detective Goro.”

Akechi stopped, taking a slight fighting stance as the figure drew closer. As he floated into the light, Akechi saw them as a older man with black and gray hair, a goatee, with blue robes and a red cape that gently lifted them off the ground. The man came to a stop and touched down on the ground in front of Akechi, blocking the top of the stairs from him. Akechi kept his hand near his pistol, eyes narrow with suspicion, and asked, “Can I ask who you are, exactly? Or better yet, where am I?”

The man nodded and replied, “My name is Doctor Stephen Strange, and this is my Sanctum Santorum. I’ve brought you here because it appears that you are of great importance. Follow me.”

Before Akechi took another step, he found himself teleported further into the Sanctum, and he steadied himself on a towering bookshelf while Strange scanned through it, stopping when he found a book labelled “Minor Projection: 12th Edition”. While Strange flipped through the book, Akechi looked around the Sanctum, impressed by it’s scale and the items scattered throughout it.

“So, this is your home? You must be truly formidable.”

Strange, still absorbed into his reading, did a “so-so” motion and replied, “Technically, this is a Blue Collar home, but a simple Alteration spell made it closer to what I’m comfortable with.”

Trying to comprehend the concept of proper magic, Akechi rubbed his chin in contemplation and added, “Well, that’s very fascinating, but it doesn’t explain why exactly I’ve been brought here.”

Seemingly satisfied, Strange closed the book and placed it back onto the shelf before teleporting again, this time to an ancient looking table in a separate room. Akechi staggered again, this time grabbing the table and feeling glad he didn’t eat breakfast before starting his day. With a wave of his hand, a sparkling orange miniature version of the city materialized above the table, and Akechi watched in quiet interest as Strange generated an enormous white field around it.

“I represent the Council of Magi, Mr. Goro. We’re sorcerers from across dimensions who have decided to pool our resources and battle the various threats within this one. Tell me, how familiar are you with the concept of the Astral Plane?”

Akechi thought about it, then shook his head. He had an inkling of it, but would rather not risk sounding like an idiot, so he’d just let Strange answer the question. Letting Akechi’s answer sink in, Strange continued.

“The Astral Plane is the human race’s collective psychic consciousness. It is powered by mankind’s collective thoughts and spirits, shaping itself to match how they perceive it. I and the others on the Council believe this city exists in some form of nexus with the Plane, drawing power from it. I believe you would call it the “Metaverse”, Mr. Goro, which is how you and others from your world are able to use their abilities in seemingly mundane situations.”

Akechi nodded, thinking the lecture over. It did make sense, seeing as how he could summon Loki in broad daylight without needing to access a Palace or anything like it.

Strange continued.

“Regardless, the Plane has found itself in a negative feedback with the city as of late. I believe this owes to things such as Tarot and the recent Wolves uprising driving the mood of the populace down, and the Council has received visions that suggest that the case you find yourself on now may be a breaking point.”

Akechi perked up at the mention of the case. Finally, some useful information.

“So, you’ll help me then?”

Strange sighed and shook his head.

“Unfortunately, the Council is too preoccupied to offer anything beyond light assistance. Even if we could, the visions make it clear that you must solve this on your own.”

Akechi scoffed, throwing his hands up in annoyance.

“Surely, there can’t be something more important than a serial killer stalking these streets.”

Seemingly humored by this, Strange raised an amused eyebrow and replied, “Try nightly efforts by beings like Gigyas, Chernabog, and Freddy Krueger to inflict untold suffering upon the denizens of the city.” Akechi nodded, mildly impressed.

“Point taken, but regardless, if you can’t truly help me in this case, what, pray tell, can you give me?”

Strange waved his hand, and in an instant, he and Akechi were standing at the bottom of the stairs. Akechi stumbled again, steadying himself and shooting a glare at Strange.

Surely, he’s doing that on purpose at this point.

Seemingly not noticing the dirty look shot his way, Strange held up a finger and calmly said, “I can give you one hint, Detective, and it’s this: the eyes along the path will guide you to what you seek. Now, it is time for you to leave.”

Akechi wanted, quite frankly, to tell Strange that he had already been given an effectively useless hint by an equally bizarre person, but something told him the wizard (or whatever exactly he was) would be less than satisfied with the response. As Strange prepared another of the crackling orange portals, Akechi noticed his goatee and felt a strange familiarity. Just as the portal began to reach under his feet, he realized and his eyes went wide as he remembered the last cryptic hint.

The Goateed Man!

“Wait! There’s something I need to tell you!”

Strange paused the spell, looking at Akechi with interest as he tried to remember the exact wording.

“I need to tell you that…that the Demon with Yellow Eyes draws near!”

Strange stopped the spell, a quizzical expression on his face, then after a few moments, he gave a curt nod and replied, “What you’ve just told is more important than you realize. Thank you.” With that, he waved his hand and Akechi fell through the portal, letting out another yelp as he tumbled down and landed in an alleyway with an awkward thud. Staggering to his feet, Akechi wiped the dirt and grime off his suit and scowled.

Surely, he doesn’t need to drop me so hard when he does that.

Leaning against a trashcan, Akechi sighed. He had been on this case two days, and in that time he’d had not one, but two, cryptic encounters with beings playing games far beyond just this case. He didn’t take kindly to being used a pawn, and the hints weren’t much help either. “Eyes along the path” was as much gibberish as the idea of the killer being “the cat”. Checking his watch, he decided to return to his home. Maybe he’d see what he was looking upon review of the case files.


Kira drummed his fingers on the desk in a mixture of boredom and frustration as he looked at the clock. The downside of his new apartment was the new job: working in a budget office of some form. To be honest, the work was easy enough, meaning he found himself with lots of free time. One of his coworkers, a dark-skinned, slim woman with blonde hair, walked up to his desk and smiled, trying and failing miserably to subtly look him over. Forcing a smile, Kira did his best to ignore looking at her hands as she bent down and picked up the set-aside expense reports he had needed to fill out.

Glancing at her briefly, he noticed her name tag, which read “Patience”, then went back to pretending to work. He had a mere fifteen minutes left before he could go home, where his girlfriend (and a quiet night out on the town) waited. But, he’d found himself growing bored of her as of late. He’d only had her a mere three days, but it appears the honeymoon phase had ended. The dreams starring the mysterious blonde had been on his mind all day, and he’d found himself ogling the hands of many women on the way to work.

Was it already time to find a new girlfriend? Impossible.

He looked down at his hand to check his watch and let out a small gasp as he saw how unseemly his nails had become. Had they really grown that quickly, with him so utterly unaware? It was disgusting, and he needed to rectify it as soon as possible.

Blissfully, the clock finally ticked over to 5, and he quickly gathered his things and left, keeping his head down as he left the office. Hopefully, he’d be able to catch the first bus back to his apartment district.


Akechi looked over the assembled files again, doing his best to ignore the sound of sewage rushing through the pipes over his head, the occasional small droplet of filthy water hitting the table and breaking his focus. He let out a small sigh of frustration and rubbed his eyes wearily. When Ren had offered him a place in his guest room, he’d scoffed at the idea of any such handouts, but there were moments such as this that he contemplated taking the offer. They hadn’t spoken since that meeting, but there were times where Akechi had found himself thinking of-

He shook his head, snapping himself out of his nostalgia. He didn’t have any time for such weakness when he was so close to cracking the case. Looking back at the files, he stopped to think about Strange and the bizarre man’s hints, of cats and “eyes along paths.” The first hint was worthless, but that second felt like it could amount to something, if Akechi could just figure out what it meant.

He leaned back in his chair, watching a drop of water work it’s way down his wall and leave a wet path behind it. Watching it work, Akechi’s eyes narrowed, then widened as realization hit him. Pulling up his phone, he opened a map of the city, then looked back at the files, noting the addresses and the close approximations of their routines according to bystanders and friends and then leaving a point on the digital map. He nodded, satisfied, as he looked at the spots placed it. It appeared that these women, entirely different in age, background, and income, did have one common difference: they all took the same route home from work or school, each getting on and off the same bus everyday.

And that was the path, but what was the eyes?

It had to be the witnesses. Someone traveling these routes had to have seen something, and Akechi figured if it was anyone, it would have to be the driver. Picking up his phone, he called the station, waiting as it rang.

“Dispatch?”

“Hello, this is Detective Akechi Goro, I need someone brought in for questioning. It’s vital to a case in progress.”

“Name?”

Akechi looked over the files, frowning as he realized the driver isn’t mentioned, then replied, “Well, I don’t know the name, exactly. I just know the occupation: it’s the driver of the 5PM to 5 AM shift for city bus 5-C.”

There was a sigh on the other end, then a few moments of tapping before Dispatch replied, “Alright, we got em. We’ll have Mr. Bickle in for questioning first thing in the morning.” Akechi scoffed, then said, “Morning? No, I need to speak with him as quickly as possible. It’s of the utmost importance!”

Dispatch sighed again, then replied, “And we understand that importance, Detective, but it’s more important that we don’t bring the public transit system to a halt, so we’ll need to wait for his shift to be over. Now, if you don’t need anything else, I need to go.”

Akechi hung up the phone and tossed it onto the table in annoyance. It was times like that he especially loathed bureaucracy.


“Earth to Raziel?”

Raziel, distracted from her conversation by work on her tablet, looked up to see Setsuna smiling warmly at her, his face a mixture of amusement and curiosity. She blushed, then replied, “Sorry, I was distracted. The new information the tablet has received is…overwhelming.”

Setsuna nodded, satisfied with the answer, then chuckled and said, “Well, now that I’ve got your attention back, are you excited to meet up with Sorami and Lilith? We’ve all been so busy that we haven’t gotten a chance to get together properly and look into this place, even when we’re all sharing an apartment.”

She looked at the city streets passing by through the bus window and smiled. The tablet had told her that this place was called “DFederal”, which didn’t make much sense to her, but she bet that once they’d checked it out, they could properly form some sort of plan for where they’d go from here. Plus, she’d been in contact with someone who said her knowledge could be of great use, but she wasn’t sure if she really could trust anyone else. Some people seemed kind, but many of the citizens here were truly odd.

The bus coming to a stop broke her out of her quiet contemplation, and Setsuna gestured for her to go first as they stepped. The diner they’d planned to meet at was just around the corner. Of course, neither Raziel nor her friend noticed the odd sight of a man in a white suit with dark hair who’d had his eyes on Raziel’s hands the entire ride home. As she walked past him, Kira’s eyes grew wide with awe and understanding. That was her.

He’d found the girl of his dreams.

Chapter 4: It's Just You and Me Now, Sport

Sipping a cup of coffee and rubbing his eyes, Akechi, file on the subject tucked under his arm, yawned as he walked down the hallway to the interrogation room. It had been quite some time since he’d been in one of these, and the last time hadn’t gone quite as well as he’d initially hoped. But this time, he intended to actually get information from the target. Akechi stopped when he saw a redheaded detective, clad in a black suit, turn away from the one-way window looking into the room and shook Akechi’s hand.

“Detective Caine. Thank you for bringing Mr. Bickle in for me.”

“My pleasure, Goro. What do you want with a guy like this anyway? House in the slums, works a dead-end shift, not exactly a person of interest.”

Akechi smiled and replied, “Well, I doubt he’ll play much role but I suspect he’ll be a vital source for my case. Did he give you any…”

Akechi peeked into the room to see a man with a mohawk and an army jacket, , a small green button titled “I Believe In Beast” pinned to the breast pocket, slouched in his chair, staring at the window with a smirk and occasionally making a finger gun at it.

“…trouble?”

Caine shook his head.

“Came in without a fight. Said something about how cops are the only thing that can clean up the scum. Honestly, could’ve worked in sanitation…”

Caine reached into his coat and pulled out a pair of sunglasses, putting them on before adding, “…because he seems obsessed with taking out the trash.”

On that final note, Caine walked away, leaving a confused Akechi to watch him exit before he straightened his tie and entered the room. Bickle nodded to him as he sat down, and Akechi smiled again before saying, “Hello, Mr. Bickle. How are you today?”

Travis shrugged, then replied, “Doing fine until I got dragged off the job and into a dark room in the middle of nowhere, but that’s just part of the city, I guess. Always something goin’ on.” Akechi nodded and responded, “Yes, I do apologize for that, but as I understand it, you don’t work the day shift of the bus route. You work the 5 PM to 5 AM, yes?”

Travis nodded.

“Yeah, I took it cause I don’t sleep much. Doc called it insomnia or something like that, so I figured that if I ain’t gonna be sleepin, I may as well be working.”

“I see. And do you enjoy this job?”

Travis shrugged again, and Akechi had to stifle an effort to roll his eyes. He’d been hoping to talk to someone with a little bit more energy to them, not an unstable insomniac.

“It’s a job. Does anybody enjoy theirs?”

Akechi forced a chuckle, then opened up the file.

“Well, I suppose you’re curious as to why you’ve been called here.”

Travis nodded, but said nothing, his eyes betraying no emotion or tells as Akechi pulled out photos of the mission women, followed by a printout of his map, with X’s marking homes and a line marking the route through the area. Akechi slid the photos forward, then continued.

“Well, I’m curious as to whether or not you recognize any of these women?”

Travis stopped slouching so he could pick up the photos, individually looking each one over and nodding, seemingly weighing something over in his head. After a minute of inspection, he showed Akechi the photo of Samantha, causing him to perk up, then smirked again and said, “Like the eyes on this one, but never seen him.”

Akechi desperately suppressed the urge to grab him by the shoulders and yell about the urgency of the case, then frowned before softly asking, “Are you certain of this? From what my research ascertains, all four of these women rode on your bus route, and their homes, jobs, and schools were all along or near it.”

Travis put his hands up and said, “Lot of broads get on my bus. My job is lookin’ at the road, detective, not the passengers.”

Akechi sighed, then asked, “You’ve really seen nothing? Perhaps one of these women with a suspicious person, a day where something seemed wrong or amiss, anything that made you take notice?”

Travis shrugged again, then chuckled to himself.

“Whole city is fulla freaks and weirdos and shit that some dope fiend couldn’t dream of. If I was takin notes everytime I saw something like that, I’d be doin’ your job.”

Akechi rubbed the bridge of his nose frustration and found himself contemplating throwing the coffee in Travis’s face for the crime of wasting valuable time and resources, but he thought better of it. Hard to hide a body in this city, unless you were whoever was killing these women. Gathering his files, he stood up and simply said, “Then you’re free to go, Mr. Bickle. I’m afraid I don’t have much more to say to you.”

Travis seemed pleased with this, then stood up himself and offered a hand to Akechi, vigorously shaking when Akechi made the mistake of taking it. After a shake that went a moment too long, Akechi gestured for Travis to follow him out of the hallway.

“I suppose the least I can do is walk you to the door after making you come here.”

“Thanks, kid. Y’know, you’re alright. Lotta pigs in this city, they ain’t really looking out for nobody, just trying to line their own pockets. But you? You seem like a good one. If they had more guys like you, maybe the freaks and sickos wouldn’t be running all over these streets.”

They walked up the stairs and through the various halls of the station, Akechi doing his best to make polite conversation while quietly furious over the dead end, until they found themselves at the door. Before Travis left, Akechi pointed to the button on his jacket.

“Before you go, Mr. Bickle, do you mind me asking what that button on your coat means? I must admit, my curiosity has gotten the better of me.”

Travis tapped the button like a badge of pride and grinned before saying, “This? I got it at one of that Beast guy’s rallies. Girl on my bus was talkin’ about him, so I figured, “Hey? Why not check ‘im out.” And, I don’t normally say it about the scumbags running things, but this guy’s good. He’s got the right ideas, sayin’ the right things. He’s gonna clean up the streets, I just know it.”

Akechi frowned at the explanation. That sounded distressingly familiar to the constant, foolishly glowing coverage of his own father, but perhaps things were different. He nodded, satisfied, then opened the door and let Travis leave.

“Thank you for your time, Mr. Bickle.”

“My pleasure.”

Standing on the stairs as he watched the driver leave, Akechi balled his hands into fists, his frown turning into a scowl. He’d been beside himself when he figured this out, and he had just walked away totally empty-handed. If Nijima-san had been here, she could’ve pried something out of him in no time.

No, screw Nijima. Akechi was twice the investigator she was, so he just needed to work harder. The answer was here, right under his damned nose, and he would find it if it killed him. As he contemplated to himself, he looked around, pausing when he spotted a camera at the corner of the building. Beneath it rest a sign that read “Smile! Our eyes are open 24/7!” with the image of a cartoonish smiley face next to the message.

Eyes

Akechi dropped his coffee as realization hit. It had been right in front of him all along. Cameras, eyes of the law, all over the city, and almost certainly across every step of the path. If he ever saw Strange again, he’d have to thank him. But first, he needed to speak with the archives department.

He turned and ran back into the building. If he hurried, he could get a warrant within the next two hours.


Kira poked his head out from behind a corner as he watched the blue track suit wearing girl walk side by side with the taller black-haired boy he’d seen on the bus with her. He’d been following them ever since Kira decided she would be his next girlfriend, and he’d taken very special note of their routine. There was times where she was by herself, but they were rare and fleeting, and most concerning of all, it appears that two others lived with them. One a red-haired girl with long pigtails, and the other one with much darker hair.

They both had a beauty to them, of course, but Kira only had eyes for the blonde, her name apparently “Raziel”, as learned from several eavesdropped conversations. It was a stroke of luck for him that today was his day off, meaning he didn’t have to worry about any questions from his obnoxious coworkers as to why he hadn’t come in.

The duo walked to a park and Kira waited for them to walk further in before following and crouching behind a tree. They sat on a bench and talked, and Kira frowned as he looked at the young man. He wasn’t quite sure of the relationship here, but he’d have to eliminate him, and possibly his friends, to get to the girl as well, which could raise suspicion.

“Setsuna! Raziel!”

Kira turned at the sound to see the two other girls entering the park and he cursed to himself. The young man grinned and hugged the black-haired girl before kissing her, then gestured for them to come with him, saying something about “getting lunch before work”. For his part, Kira hid behind the tree until they were gone, then headed back for the entrance of the park. It was easy stalking two people, but four raised the chances of getting caught too high.

It didn’t matter anyway.

He’d seen everything he needed to know before he made his move.


“What do you mean you can’t help me?!?”

Akechi pounded his fist on the desk in frustration, causing the man sitting on the other side of it to lift his drink to prevent it from spilling. His desk marker reading “M. Smart”, the man took a sip of the drink before shrugging apologetically and replying, “My sincere apologies, Mr. Goro, but we can’t just give you free reign over the cameras. Archives take proper protocol very seriously.”

Akechi stared at him in bewilderment, then responded, “There’s a serial killer on the loose, and you’re telling me that I’ll need proper protocol before I can use the one thing that can help me catch them? You realize how absurd that sounds?”

Smart nodded, his eyes flitting nervously to a camera on the wall, and he set his drink down to stand up and walk over to a filing cabinet, humming a tune to himself as he flipped through several papers before pulling out one titled “Surveillance Access Request Form”. He sat back down at the desk and wrote something on the bottom of the form, his hand covering the writing, before looking up at Akechi and smiling sadly, then replying, “I understand that, detective. After all, the point of the police is to ensure the safety of the populace. Well, that’s how it supposed to work anyway. But, regardless, the higher-ups don’t want just anyone tinkering around in surveillance, so you’re gonna need to fill out this here form and bring it back to me and then we can see what we can do, eh?”

He slid the form across from Akechi, and he looked at it to see that Smart had written “L. Salander, Blue Collar, Apartment 1468.” Akechi noted the address and thankfully nodded before packing the form into his folder and standing up from the desk. He forced a smile and a quiet, “Thank you, Mr. Smart. I’ll be sure to bring back this form as soon as possible.” before exiting the office, inspecting the address once he was out of sight.

Smart breathed a sigh of relief as Akechi left. Normally, he didn’t like to break the rules, but he knew that the killer would strike again before that request would clear. He’d done his part, now it was time for the detective to do his.


Following the address given to him by Smart, Akechi walked up the stairs of the blue collar apartment complex. Somehow, he found the complex, which reeked of a variety of smells and was constantly interrupted by the sounds of loud music and the occasional argument you could hear through the thin walls, an envious living position. At least the floor wasn’t wet. Well, mostly. He mentally counted the addresses until he found himself at 1468 and knocked, waiting a moment as he heard cursing and a quiet discussion through the door. There was the distinct click of a latch being pulled, followed by a second latch, and then the lock unlocking before the door cracked open to show a pale face staring back at him, black hair hanging over them doing nothing to hide the distrust in the eyes staring at him.

The woman on the other side of the door looked him over, then asked, voice full of distaste and suspicion, “What do you want?”

Akechi paused, caught off guard by the coldness, then sheepishly smiled and replied, “Ah, hello. Are you, erm, “L. Salander”?”

She rolled her eyes.

“It’s Lisbeth. And what do you want?”

Akechi nodded, satisfied that she wanted to get straight to business, and responded, “Yes, I’m a detective with the-“

“Fuck off, pig.”

She moved to slam the door, but Akechi shoved his foot in the crack, wincing in mild discomfort as it was squeezed. She stared at him with scorn and prepared to slam the door, hopefully breaking a few of his toes, when Akechi pleaded, “Wait! I’m hunting a serial killer and I’ve been told you’re the person that can help me. He’s killed several women already and I’m afraid that he’ll strike again if I can’t act.”

The mention of women made Lisbeth’s expression soften, and she hesitated, pushing Akechi’s foot out of the doorframe with her own before saying, “Hold on,” then closing the door. Akechi sighed and checked his watch. He really didn’t have time for this, but she was basically the only avenue he had remaining, so he supposed he could wait a minute or two. He could hear the sounds of heated conversation on the inside, and his curiosity got the better of him as he leaned in to listen to the sound of Lisbeth talking to another girl.

“You need to go. There’s a cop here.”

“A cop? Did you do something wrong?”

“No, it’s…complicated. You just need to leave.”

“Oh, well, will I see you again? I don’t really do this kind of stuff, especially not this stuff, and I’m not really sure what the whole protocol is on it, so-“

“If I think about you later, I’ll call you. But right now, you have to go.”

“Oh, uh, okay. Well, see you later, maybe?”

“Maybe.”

As their footsteps got closer, Akechi leaned away from the door and played it casual, looking at his watch again as a blonde with unkempt hair, a wrinkled blue sweater/red pants combo, and glasses exited Lisbeth’s apartment. She awkwardly avoided eye contact with Akechi and he chuckled quietly.

“Sorry to disturb you.”

“Oh, no, it’s fine. Police business is pretty important, so I should be going. See you. Or, well, I hope I don’t see you, since you’re a cop and cops mean you’re in-oh man, I’m rambling. Is it warm in here?”

He offered his hand to break the tension, and she shook it.

“Goro Akechi.”

“Kara.”

She kept walking, doing her best to avoid bumping into anyone or drawing attention to herself, as Lisbeth opened the door fully and gestured for Akechi to step in. Now that he got a full look at her, he was surprised for someone with such a forceful personality having such a small stature and frame. His second impression was that her apartment positively reeked of cigarettes, on top of being a relative pigsty. He crinkled his nose, attempting to ignore it as he stepped in, and Lisbeth closed the door behind her, pulling a cigarette from her jacket before stepping in front of Akechi and looking him over with an unimpressed expression.

“First of all, how do you know my name?”

Akechi shifted footing awkwardly. He wasn’t really enjoying being snapped at, but he’d deal with it for now.

“A man named Maxwell Smart recommended you. He informed me you had a way of bypassing the security on the surveillance systems?”

Lisbeth took a drag of her cigarette and swore under her breath. Akechi didn’t quite hear it, but he heard something resembling “sucker” at the end of something much more foul. She pointed at him, cigarette smoke trailing up and irritating his nose, and snapped, “Fine, I’ll help you, but it’s only because I want to stop a swine before he hurts any more women. And tell Smart that I’ve paid my half of the favor, so he can lose my fucking address.”

She gestured for her to follow him into her bedroom, which was similarly messy, and to a desk with an elaborate computer setup. It reminded him of how Joker talked about Futaba’s room, though helpfully with less clothes scattered on the floor. He stepped over a pair of underwear and leaned against the wall as Lisbeth sat down and fired up the computer. Watching it boot, she leaned back and took another drag of her cigarette.

“The setup was complex, unlike anything I’d ever seen, but everything has a weakness. Once I find it, it was easy enough to install a small backdoor in the system.”

Akechi, intrigued, asked, “What was the weakness?” which earned a scoff from Lisbeth.

“Like I’d tell a cop.”

He shrugged. Fair enough. He was never one for computers regardless.

After the computer had fully woken up, Lisbeth clicked on an icon marked with a throbbing single eye, then turned to Akechi and asked, “What am I looking for?”

Akechi pulled the folder out of his coat and rifled through it until he pulled out a piece of paper with the pictures of the four victims and showed it to Lisbeth, who took it and looked it over.

“I need three months of recordings on these three women, starting with them exiting city bus 5-C at two stops, one in the blue collar district, and one in the white collar district. If you can, I’d like to follow them on their route home.”

Lisbeth nodded, seemingly impressed, then turned to the computer and replied with a quiet, “One moment.” before getting to work. Akechi watched as she furiously typed and dragged, compiling video feeds while occasionally stopping to look over her work. After several minutes, she finally turned to him and simply said, “It’s done.”

Akechi stepped closer to the computer, Lisbeth moving her chair slightly to accommodate him, and admired her handiwork. She had split the four feeds into smaller screens, all playing side by side so he could look them over, with a slight speed-up to save time as he watched. And he stared intently, watching their every step for something, anything, that could give him a clue. Lisbeth continued smoking and watched him with a curious expression.

“Is there something you’re trying to spot? Or are you just trying to make your eyes bleed?” He didn’t look at her as he replied, “There has to be a consistent element. Killers never strike randomly. It’s always planned, coordinated.”

As he watched, he felt he was missing something. A minor detail that could put it together. Something catching his eye, but just barely escaping it. Suddenly, it hit him. He wasn’t sure what tipped him off, but a small flash of color, repeated four times, caught his eye, and he held up a hand and urgently yelled, “Pause the feed! Pause them now!”

Lisbeth hit the spacebar, and all four stopped. Leaning in, Akechi grinned, jubilant at what he had spotted, then tapped his finger against the screen at four separate spots, earning a grumble from Lisbeth about smudging.

“Now, naturally there is a chance of coincidence, but I’ve learned there’s no such thing. We can forget about tracking the women because I have a new question.”

Lisbeth looked to where he pointed to see a black-haired man in a white suit, standing a few feet away from each woman, all on vastly different days and at different times, and her eyes widened in realization, with Akechi leaning into her, voice full of pride.

“Why is this man going the same route as all four of the victims? And where does he live?”


I can hear your heartbeat, knocking on the window.

I can feel the weight down below.

Kira hummed along to the music on the radio as he prepared himself dinner. A nice salad with a side of red wine would be quite satisfying as a celebratory meal. Of course, it was also light, perfect for a man on the go such as himself. He looked at the clock. It was 6:30 already, so it would be perfect for him to eat before heading out, then returning just in time for bed.

I can hear whispers,

Coming from the shadows.

Tonight was the night he found himself a new girlfriend.

It was going to happen.

It had to happen.

Setting his food and drink down at his seat, Kira picked up his old girlfriend from her spot at the table and walked to the window, cracking it open and giving her a final kiss. He almost felt bad, since they’d spent so little time together, but all relationships are fleeting, and he’d been caught in passion for another. With that final kiss, Killer Queen disintegrated the hand and he watched the small burst of smoke float gently out the window. With that settled, it was time for dinner.

Sometimes I

He sat down at the table and prepared to dig in, when there was a knock at the door.

Sometimes I

He sighed, setting his napkin down, and stood up to answer the door, grumbling to himself as he did so. Didn’t people know better than to bother their neighbors at dinnertime?

Sometimes I, understand it very clearly.

He opened the door and reacted with some surprise to see a young, well-dressed man on the other side. The young man smiled and waved at Kira. “Ah, you must be Mr. Kira. I’m Detective Goro Akechi with the DFPD. Do you mind if I come in and ask a few questions?”

Heartbeat, heartbeat, listen to my heartbeat.

Chapter 5: chase

Kira stared at the detective standing at his door, trying his best to hide his panic as he mentally weighed his options. Was the detective here about his girlfriends? How could he have known? He’d covered his tracks perfectly, left no evidence, no trace of his very existence. Maybe Kira was being paranoid and this call was somehow unrelated. His only option was to play it cool until the coast was clear. He smiled calmly, then replied, “Of course, detective. Come right in. Let me turn the radio down so we can talk in the quiet.”

Akechi stepped into the apartment and gave a quick scan. It was nice, well-maintained but clearly housing just one occupant. He noticed the window was open, unusual given that it was a fairly chilly night, but his attention was quickly drawn to the strange pink plant on Kira’s coffee table. Akechi stooped down to look at it as it seemingly slept, and it lazily opened one eye to look at him with suspicion.

“What a strange plant. How did you acquire it?”

Entering the living room, Kira nonchalantly replied, “It’s a long story. And I’d stay back from it because it’s not particularly-“

Stray Cat hissed and snapped at Akechi, who stumbled backward, earning a small, quickly-hidden smirk from Kira.

“-friendly.”

Akechi took another step away from Stray Cat, chuckled nervously, then took on a serious expression.

“Well, I suppose you’re curious as to why I’m here, Mr. Kira.”

“Yes, I was hoping for an explanation.”

Akechi nodded and walked into the dining room, Kira following him warily, as he pulled his files out of his coat and set them on the table. He noticed the well-placed bowl of fruit in the middle and smiled, doing his best not to alarm Kira.

“Ah, do you mind if I take an apple? I haven’t had much of a chance to eat today.”

Kira nodded, mildly confused, and Akechi reached for an apple, only to pause and say, ”Mm, perhaps I’ll wait. It’s rude to talk while eating, after all,” before going back to the file and pulling out several photos and setting them on the table. Kira stepped closer, and his eyes widened in shock as he saw them. It was his three previous girlfriends on their commutes, and in the background, circled with red marker for extra attention, was Kira himself.

Of course, the cameras!

How could he have been so stupid as to let himself be captured on video?

Akechi looked away from the photos and Kira, who quickly hid his panic, and explained, “I’m investigating a case surrounding a series of disappearances of several female warriors, and I’ve noticed that on the day these four women vanished, you seemed to follow the same route as them back to their homes. Or, in the case of poor Asuna here, the bridge she sleeps under. But, on most other days, you went straight home. I hate to sound accusatory, but you must understand why this makes you look suspicious?”

An unnerving silence hung over the room as Akechi let the information sink him, internally celebrating as he watched Kira think it over. He knew, right then, that this was the man he was looking for. For his part, Kira did his best not to immediately eliminate this detective on the spot as he thought for an explanation out of this damning evidence. As much as he’d like to simply remove this nuisance, he didn’t want any more police asking questions, although it was strange this young man had come alone. Weren’t detectives supposed to work with partners? He smiled. He’d found a way to turn the tables.

“Well, detective, it certainly looks suspicious, but I’m afraid it’s simply bad luck on my part. You see, I actually had a working relationship with this woman-”

He stepped next to Akechi and pointed at Monica.

“-and followed her home that day to ask some questions about an impending presentation that was due. As for the other two, my intentions were more…altruistic. This one here-“

He pointed at Samantha.

“-had left her wallet on the bus, and I knew I’d never forgive myself if it got stolen on my watch. I had to follow her the entire way home before I caught up. What a mess!” He chuckled, and Akechi continued to look at him with suspicion as he held up a picture of Asuna.

“And as for her, I took one look at the poor thing and could tell she was homeless just from the sight of her, so I followed her and gave her what money I could so she could have a decent meal in this city. Now, if you and your partner had any more questions…actually, where is your partner? I assumed he was right behind you, but you seem to be working alone tonight.”

Akechi was taken aback by the question. It was true that he should have Bigby with him, but he’d decided to solo this case. It hadn’t occurred to him anyone would actually ask that, and he quickly replied, “Erm, my partner is waiting in the car. I assured him I wouldn’t take long.”

Kira nodded, delighted by the new revelation. Not only was this detective alone, he was clearly lying to him. So, if he theoretically vanished, the odds of Kira having to deal with it were small. He put his hands in his pockets and leaned against the table before asking, “Now, detective, assuming I’ve answered your questions, do you need anything else? If it’s truly important, I’d be glad to come down to the station and say what else I know about these four girls.”

Akechi smirked. He’d deliberately excluded Delphini and said “four” when there only three women on the table, and Kira had never bothered to correct him. So, clearly, he knew something more. He’d been hoping to catch him with this.

“Did you say four, Mr. Kira?”

Kira’s eyes glanced at the table, and he internally cursed as he recognized his error. Did he know about Delphini? He couldn’t have, but he said four earlier, didn’t he? Was he trying to trap him? No. Kira couldn’t let him get to him. He laughed, catching Akechi off-guard. “Did I? I meant “poor”. Slip of the tongue. You must excuse me, I’ve been staring at number sheets all day.”

Akechi laughed as well, then replied, “Really? I just spoke to your work on the way up, and they informed me this was your day off.”

Kira’s internal monologue had devolved into frustrated curses. It was at this point the detective had made clear he knew too much, and Kira knew that he couldn’t leave this room alive. He was too much of a threat to the life he’d built here. Before he could stammer out an explanation, Akechi sighed and said, “Well, Mr. Kira, I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I need to bring you in further.”

Kira nodded sadly, then said, “I understand, detective. But, before we go, can I still interest you in that apple for the road?”

As Akechi looked over at the bowl of fruit, shrugged, and reached for it, Kira grinned and summoned Killer Queen, who touched the apple at the top of the bowl and waited patiently. Kira was practically drooling as Akechi’s fingers were mere inches from it, mere inches from Kira being able to go about his business without fear of anyone asking too many questions. Suddenly, Akechi stopped and turned to look at Kira, a wolfish grin on his face, before asking, “One more thing, Mr. Kira: were you going to inform me you had a Persona of your own, or I was supposed to wait until we got to the station to find that out?”

He gestured towards Killer Queen, and Kira let out a cry of shock before bringing his thumb down. The apple exploded, destroying the table underneath it and sending Akechi flying into a wall, and Kira used the chaos to quickly grab Stray Cat and run for the door. He needed to escape this damned detective, then he’d be able to get his girlfriend. Tonight was the night, and nothing would get in his way.


Akechi’s vision was still blurred as he stumbled to his feet, holding his head as the fire alarm shrieked throughout the entire floor. His fingers came away with blood from the gash on his forehead, but he ignored it. Yoshikage Kira was definitely the man he was looking for. He ran out into the hallway as confused denizens filled it, mumbling amongst themselves about the alarm. Akechi squinted to see Kira’s distinct white suit as he dashed down the stairs, and he quickly drew his gun and badge before shoving his way through the crowd.

“DFPD! Everyone, out of the way!”

People quickly parted, and Akechi fired two shots that just missed Kira’s head as he turned and vanished further down the stairs. The crowd screamed, and several went back into their homes as Akechi continued his chase. He’d come so close, and he wasn’t about to let his target escape.


Kira exited the apartment building, breathing a small sigh of relief as he realized the detective was no longer behind him. He was fairly confident that the confusion of the alarm had slowed him down, even if he’d had a close call with that strange gun of his. He straightened his tie and tucked Stray Cat inside of Killer Queen before preparing to blend into the small nighttime crowd just seconds before a massive explosion tore a hole through the building. Stumbling back in shock, Kira watched as the detective leapt from the hole created in the third floor and gracefully landed on his feet in front of him.

Gone was the friendly, collected detective Kira had seen just minutes earlier, and he felt a genuine twinge of fear as Akechi advanced, grinning maniacally and cackling to himself.

“You know, Mr. Kira, I must thank you. I was assuming I’d bring you in peacefully, but instead, I’ve been given a chance to really cut loose. Now, since you were nice enough to show me yours, it’s only fair I show you mine. Come, Loki!”

Akechi tapped his finger on the bridge of his nose, and a blinding flash of blue flame covered him before he re-emerged, wearing sinister black armor, wielding a jagged red blade, and accompanied by a massive black and white horned figure. Kira gawked in a mixture of awe and fear at the being. It was far larger than any Stand he’d ever seen, and he quickly summoned Killer Queen to block a strike from it’s sword, grunting in pain as he felt it dig into his arms. Akechi laughed as he watched Kira’s own Persona futilely fight against Loki, landing small blows before being easily smacked aside by Loki’s blade.

Kira fell to his knees, holding his side, as Akechi walked forward. He had a way out of this, but he needed another distraction. He looked over to see Killer Queen had been knocked into a cluster of trash cans. He nodded. That would do. Killer Queen grabbed one of the cans and hurled it at Loki before detonating it, causing Akechi to flinch slightly before continuing and lifting Kira’s head up with the tip of his sword.

“I must admit, I was hoping for more of a fight here, but when I bring your head into the department, I’ll settle for the praise.”

Kira smirked.

“Oh, I assure you, detective, I’ve got more surprises up my sleeves.”

“Such as?”

Kira grinned as a deep voice boomed out “OVER HERE,”, causing Akechi to turn and look at a small tank with a skull across the front of it. Akechi stared in confusion that quickly turned to alarm as the tank charged forward.

“Loki!”

His Persona appeared in front of him just in time, blocking the brunt of the explosion that ripped through the alleyway. The tank landed to the side of him, none the worse for wear, and continued pursuing him, hurling itself at Loki and detonating before landing and resuming it’s hunt. As Akechi scrambled to avoid his new pursuer, Kira stood up, ignoring the pain in his side, and crept out the alley, pushing by several shocked and confused passerby as the sounds of fighting faded behind him.

“Play nice, detective.”


Akechi gritted his teeth and smacked the tank away, then cast Megidolaon on it as it skittered down the alley. The enormous blast completely consumed the tank, and Akechi gave a satisfied grin that quickly vanished as it emerged, completely unscathed, and rolled forward.

“What? How???”

As the furious scrap for survival ensued in the alley below, Eragon, sitting on Saphira and watching from a distance, hesitated. He swore he’d avoid the sounds of fighting at all cost, but someone needed help and he couldn’t just ignore it. With a well-placed kick to the side, he brought Saphira down, landing in the alley and giving both Akechi and Sheer Heart Attack pause. Eyeing the tank up, Eragon quickly cast Brisingr, the fire leaping from his hand and bathing it in fire. He gave a nod to Akechi, who furiously gestured for him to go away.

“Run, you idiot! It’s focused on-“

Sheer Heart Attack leapt from the flames and lunged towards Eragon, who gave an undignified cry of shock as it dug it’s treads into his face before leaping towards Saphira, who roared in confusion as it exploded in her face, completely destroying her head. Body wracked with a mixture of grief and pain, Eragon collapsed as Akechi took the momentary distraction to fall back and hide behind a trash can. The tank had completely ignored him in favor of that idiot and his dragon but why? They didn’t say anymore than he had, and he moved more than either of them got the chance to.

He peeked out from behind the can to see it angrily running into some still flaming ruins nearby, detonating, then heading towards his direction. He held his breath and thought about it some more, then snapped his finger as it came to him. Of course, it’s not a regular motion-tracker! It’s drawn to heat, so he just needed to distract it.

“I said, look over here!”

The tank roared and leapt again as Akechi rolled out of the way and summoned Loki, then cast Maragion, lighting the cans up into a towering flame before smacking them away, sending them tumbling in different directions throughout the alley. Sheer Heart Attack paused, then moved to the nearest can and detonated, before going to the next and repeating.

That should slow it down for a moment or two.

Akechi, satisfied, slowly crept by Sheer Heart Attack as it went about it’s task, then ran out of the alley, looking desperately for any sign of Kira. Stopping a couple, some girl with blue hair and a young man with longer hair and a green t-shirt, he frantically gestured around and asked, “Have you seen a gentleman with black hair and a white suit? He’s likely limping, possibly with blood on his sides?”

The young man stopped to think.

“Well, I think I did. He, uh, went, uh…”

Akechi put his head in his hands, then perked up when the girl said, “Scott, you don’t remember that guy?”

The young man, apparently Scott, shook his head, then stammered, “Well, I do remember, it’s just that I also…forgot.”

“Damien’s right. You are a scatterbrain.”

“Hey! I was in the top ten percent at my school. Or was that Kim. Although it may’ve-“

“I don’t have time for this!” Akechi snarled, getting both their attention. He could hear Sheer Heart Attack continuing it’s assault in the alley, and Kira had very much slipped away in the chaos.

“There is a murderer running free in the streets! Did you see him, or not? Please tell me so I’m not wasting time!”

The girl, surprised by the outburst, replied, “Yeah, we saw a dude like that heading that way. Bumped past us as we left our apartment.” She hooked her thumb behind her towards the blue collar district, and Akechi gave a brief “thanks” before shoving past them and running down the street, stopping only to point at the alley Heart Attack was in and say, “Oh, and call the police. Tell them that area needs to be blocked off immediately.”

On that final note, he vanished around a corner, and the couple looked at each other, shrugged, then walked off, Ramona pulling out her phone to call the cops.


Taking a deep breath, Kira walked down the street, making sure to stay as unassuming as possible despite his wounds. They weren’t too severe, and he’d be able to take care of it once he got home, but for now, he had a greater mission to focus on. He was almost at the apartment his new girlfriend lived in, so all he’d have to do is go to there, eliminate anyone else there, then have her cut his nails for him. They’d truly grown garishly long, and it would be nice to have them at a controllable level once again.

He stopped at one of the apartment complexes, looking around to see that no one was around, then activated Killer Queen and (after hoping Sheer Heart Attack had taken care of that detective) quietly blew the lock off. The door swung open, and he peeked in. The coast was clear, so he just needed to find the residence.

He paused to think about it. It was alphabetized, so, theoretically, he would just need to find the home marked with “S.” for Setsuna, or “R.” for Raziel. Shouldn’t be too difficult, really. If all else failed, he could just ask the landlord.

Before he could step inside, a panted, slightly pained, “Not so fast,” gave him pause, and he turned and froze to see Akechi stood before him.

“Detective? How did you-“

“Deal with your little bomb? It was easy, once I figured out the trick behind it. Now, I’m going to give you one last chance to surrender, or I can simply kill you and drag your body back to the precinct. Either works.”

Stepping away from the complex, Kira rolled his eyes, then summoned Killer Queen.

“You know, you really are proving to be a pain, detective.”

Akechi sneered as he summoned Loki, it’s form towering over Killer Queen, then replied, “Well, allow me to alleviate that pain, Mr. Kira.”

Akechi roared, and Loki lunged forward, swinging for a quick kill that Killer Queen quickly moved to block, Kira wincing as he felt the sting on his arms. Killer Queen swiftly kicked Loki in the stomach, forcing Akechi back, which he followed up with Riot Gun, the crackles of energy tearing through Kira as he cried out in pain. Grabbing a piece of rubble, Killer Queen activated it, then tossed it at Loki before detonating, the fiery hot pebbles digging into Akechi’s face and earning a cry of pain. Kira grinned through the pain, then tried to stand, only to cry out as blood poured from his numerous wounds.

Drawing his own blade, Akechi roared, “Taste my wrath!”, then lunged forward, landing three well-placed strikes to Kira’s chest before dragging his claws across his face, sending him tumbling into the grass. Every part of Kira’s body screamed in agony, and he squinted to see the prideful detective advancing on him through the blood dripping into his eyes. He summoned Killer Queen, but Loki effortlessly pinned it to the ground with it’s blade, causing a new wound to form in Kira’s chest as he desperately unsummoned it.

This mere teenager, some idiot who had stuck his nose where it hadn’t belonged, was going to kill him? Really?

A smug grin across his face, Akechi pointed his blade at Kira, then snarled, “Any last words, Kira? Or are you out of surprises?”

Resummoning Killer Queen next to Akechi, Kira grinned through the pain, then replied, “Oh, I certainly wouldn’t say that, detective.”

Killer Queen’s stomach opened to reveal Stray Cat, who released a single bubble that Killer Queen guided along. Akechi tried to dodge, but the range was too close, and he cried out in agony as the bubble blew a chunk of his stomach and chest clean off. He fell to the pavement, hand clutching the gap where two of his ribs used to be, and he dragged himself away as Kira, groaning all the while, pulled himself to his feet.

Akechi, wincing through the pain, reverted to his detective outfit and tried to drag himself away from Kira, who laughed as he drove his foot into his wound, earning a scream of pain. Normally, he’d just kill and move on, but he felt he’d earned the right to gloat a bit. He chuckled coldly, then straightened his tie.

“I must admit, you fought very admirably, detective. But alas, I’m going to dispose of you, just like I got rid of Monica-“

He kicked Akechi in the side.

“-Samantha-“

Another kick.

“-Asuna-“

Another kick.

“-and Delphini!”

He gave a final kick, with him driving the tip of his shoe into Akechi’s wound for good measure, then crouched down to look the suffering detective over one last time.

“So, any last words before I reduce you to ash? Or are you out of surprises?”

The sounds of sirens gave Kira pause, and Akechi grinned at him. He bristled as he realized the sirens were getting closer, and he turned to see Akechi alternating between laughing and spitting blood before managing to spit out a reply.

“Did you…really think…there’d be explosions and sounds of fighting…and police wouldn’t lock down the area? Tell me…Mr. Kira…how will you work your way out of this?”

Through pained, blurry vision, Akechi swore he saw the long-haired man in green from that dream appear at the end of the street and smile, then nod to him, but he was gone as quick as he came. Despite that, Akechi got an inexplicable sense of pride, which caused him to laugh maniacally before reaching up and tearing the emblem off of his suit. Tucking it underneath the car tire, he grinned spitefully at Kira, who looked down at him with a mixture of rage and disgust and brought his thumb down, obliterating the detective. Cursing to himself, he limped away from the scene, hoping to avoid the police before they arrived.

He couldn’t get a new girlfriend, but at the very least he could avoid getting arrested.


“So, what exactly happened?”

Elijah, Sypha, and Zuko followed Pete as he led them to the crime scene, occasionally flashing a DFPD badge at anyone who asked. He took a drag of his cigarette, then shrugged before lifting the crime scene tape for them to step under.

“It’s the damndest thing, boss. Got a trail of explosions and fighting that stops right here. Only casualty is that kid and his dragon, but we’re not really sure what caused it. Just that it stops-“

He gestured towards the apartment building, which had been thankfully evacuated in response to the explosions.

“-right about here.”

Elijah looked the scene over, then stopped as he saw something sticking out from under a tire. He crouched down and pulled it out, looking it over with interest, then turned at the sound of an officer seemingly recognizing it.

“Oh, I know that badge.”

Elijah handed it to him, and he nodded as he turned it over.

“This is Detective Goro’s badge. Looks like it got torn off his suit. That’s…not a good sign.”

Zuko raised a quizzical eyebrow, then asked, “Who’s the detective?”

The officer shrugged.

“He was the guy working the missing female case. He was supposed to respond to this, but nobody’s heard from him all night.”

The mention of the case made Planetary all exchange knowing looks, and the officer excused himself, waving down a nervously smoking Bigby to hand him the badge. Elijah gestured for the others to follow away from the crime scene, then leaned against a car as he squinted at the building.

“So, series of explosions reported along the area, and the detective looking into those disappearances goes missing, with the only piece of him that turns up is a bloody badge under a tire? Can’t help but get the nagging feeling it’s connected.”

Sypha nodded, then replied, “Agreed, and I think that if we find out whoever caused the explosions, we’ll have the one taking those girls. Or, I hope they’re just being taken.” She got quiet, and Elijah continued, “Fortunately, our man in the department is running his own side investigation, so hopefully he turns up something.”

Pete stamped out his cigarette, then asked, “Well, what do we do exactly, ‘sides “wait for somebody else to crack this?”

Stroking his chin in contemplation, Elijah answered, “For starters, I’d like to learn more about this Detective Goro. Given the spacing between disappearances thus far, I’d say there’s a very good chance he may have saved someone’s life tonight.”

Epilogue: Every Step You Take

“So, you’re saying your memory was mostly wiped?”

Skulduggery flipped through the report filed by Akechi, then set it aside to look at his subordinate, who nodded sadly.

“Yes, when I came to after being revived, I remembered very little beyond vague details about the killer, and the tech informed me they’d received orders to remove memories upon revival. And when I returned home, my apartment had shrunk. I suspect that this may have been a battle in disguise for both me and…whoever I was facing off with.”

Skullduggery sighed, then rubbed the area where the bridge of his nose would be, presuming he still had a nose, before replying, “Should’ve figured the higher ups were involved in this nonsense. Well, you can confirm that whoever killed you killed those girls as well?” Akechi smiled.

“Yes, one of the few things I remember is their confession, and they mentioned all four girls.”

Skullduggery leaned back in his chair, contemplatively looking out the window, and said, “Alright then, we can file a Revival Order. As for you, you’re dismissed. Let the others know if any memories come back.”

Akechi gave a grateful nod, then stood up and left, waiting until his back was turned to Skullduggery to grin to himself. He had been worried his superior would see through his “amnesia” façade, but they’d fallen for it, hook, line, and sinker. He remembered every detail of Yoshikage Kira, and this time, he’d return to finish the job properly. As he walked past his desk, a small envelope on it gave him pause, and he looked at Bigby with a confused expression. “Did you see who left this?”

Bigby shrugged, then lit a cigarette and went back to flipping through a case file. Akechi sighed, then picked up the envelope. It had a wax stamp with the symbol of a globe sealing it, and when he opened it, it simply read “A Special Opportunity” with an address at the bottom.

Looking for any more information, Akechi pondered the note, and just what exactly this “Special Opportunity” entailed.


“In leadership news, Chairman Beast released a statement regarding the decisive defeat of King Wass’s “Social Credit” proposal, stating that it was, quote, “Deeply cruel to the citizens of this city,” and adding that it would, “Do little to prevent another uprising. And, in fact, lowering the quality of the healthcare and transport systems would make the odds of one even higher.” This comes following a spirited debate among-“

Kira ignored the rest of the newscast as he stepped off the bus, ignoring the stares he was receiving for the scar across his face. The wounds from his fight with detective hadn’t gone away, nor had the urges and strange dreams. If anything, they’d worsened since his failure at Raziel’s apartment, and the being with yellow eyes was even more clear to him now. He’d have to make his move soon, or he’d risk going mad and doing something he’d truly regret.

Kira’s thoughts were interrupted by him running into a wall. Or, it felt like a wall, but there was nothing there. Confused, he tried to back up, but ran into another. He turned left and was stopped, and turned right and encounter the same obstacle. He was trapped, and there wasn’t a soul on the street.

“What on earth?”

“’fraid this particular spell isn’t of this Earth, mate.”

Kira turned to see a blonde man in a trenchcoat leaning against the barrier, grinning as a cigarette hung from his lips. He gave a mocking knock on the barrier, and Kira pounded on it in response, earning an amused chuckle.

“Who are you? Let me out of this!”

The man shrugged, then replied, “What? Let you out so you can kill more girls, you bleedin sicko? Not likely.”

Kira’s eyes widened in shock. How did this man know? Was this Detective Goro’s partner? Maybe if he played dumb, he could get out.

“I’m afraid I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. Please, this has to be a misunderstanding!”

The man laughed.

“Don’t play dumb, you twat. I know all about Monica, and Sam, and Asuna, and Delphini, and even that detective you whacked. This whole “quiet salaryman” might’ve fooled somebody else, but I ain’t too gullible.”

Kira scowled and summoned Killer Queen, who struck the barrier, it’s fists uselessly hitting the field and bouncing off. The man watched for a moment, taking a drag of his cigarette, then said, “Yeah, that ain’t gonna work, mate. Field was meant to whole demons from the bowels of hell, pretty sure it can keep you locked up tight for a while. And don’t worry about bein’ caught indecent, cause only I can see this.”

Kira pounded furiously on the glass. This couldn’t be happening. Not to him. He’d done nothing wrong! For his part, the man leaned off of the glass, then stepped away, stopping only to grin and say, “Well, you always wanted to live quietly. How’s an eternity where no one can hear or see ya sound?”

With a snap of his fingers, the field vanished, and Kira with it, and John Constantine walked away, humming to himself as he dug his phone out of his pocket and punched a number in. He waited, then a voice answered on the fourth ring.

“Is it done?”

“Yeah, killer’s dealt with, Elijah. Pretty easy, seein’ as how he was expecting any more company. Should be trapped as long as nobody has a fight planned for ‘im.”

On his side of the call, Elijah smiled grimly.

“Our contact in the users has said that Kira’s last match was cancelled after being stuck in “development hell”, so something tells me no one will be coming for him for a while. Good work, John, for both this and leaving Goro the note.”

Constantine looked both ways, then crossed the street before replying, “Anytime, boss. Ya heard from ‘em yet?”

Elijah went to answer, only for a knock on the mansion door to interrupt him.

“Speak of the devil, John. I’ll call you back. Time to see if this kid is as smart as everyone said.”

With that, Elijah hung up the phone, then stood up from his chair to answer the door.

Expert's Opinion

Once again, Goro Akechi was undone by his own arrogance. While he was vastly superior to Kira in terms of experience and combat skill, he lacked the creativity to truly outthink his target, which gave Kira an opening to stay one step ahead of him and secure a win. Add in a superior ability to blend in and his more versatile skillset, and Kira was ultimately the deadlier warrior.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

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