× FINAL DAYS to Kickstart the Before You Go graphic novel!

A monthly digital magazine of comics, prose and audio

Lost password
Affiliate Partner with Hiveworks

Tokyo Demons: Book 3, Chapter 4, Part 2

A downloadable package of this chapter (.pdf, .epub, and .mobi) is available in the Sparkler Monthly Issue #024 back issue.

[Trigger warning for graphic death.]

Zero convulsed violently in Miki’s grip; blood splashed in a dark mist across Nakajima. Jo could only stare, paralyzed, as the older man collapsed to his knees.

Jo didn’t see Nakajima move, but Miki was suddenly on the ground, gripping his good eye, as Nakajima caught Zero’s head in her lap. She wrapped what looked like a rag around his throat, a poor membrane to close his gaping wound.

“Where’s the Pitch?!” she hissed. “Tell me!”

Zero didn’t even gurgle. His eyes rolled back in his head as his body stiffened in a spasm, then shuddered with finality. A wet rattle wheezed out of his mouth and chilled Jo to his core.

Nakajima abandoned the corpse and dragged Miki from the ground. He struggled blindly; even in the dark, Jo could see his only eye swelling up from Nakajima’s punch.

Mitsuko leapt at Nakajima’s back like a snarling tiger, clawing the older woman’s shoulders. In one fluid motion, Nakajima shed her trench coat into Mitsuko’s fumbling grip and whipped around to punch the girl–right in her surgery scar.

A wave of fatigue suddenly washed through Jo, making him stumble and fall when he tried to run for them. He heard bodies hitting the ground around him, watched Nakajima and Mitsuko stumble apart as the world swam.

Dammit…Zayd!

The insects surrounding Jo, flying crookedly, buzzed around his face in a clear attempt to keep him awake. Jo pinched the skin over his ribs and twisted. He weakly lifted his head.

Nakajima was back on her feet–unsteady, but upright. She growled down at Mitsuko, curled up and trembling on the ground.

“You short-sighted, bleeding heart children,” Nakajima said through her teeth. “Don’t you dare come at me. I will erase you.”

Jo rapidly blinked his eyelids, the fatigue fading. Miki gurgled a curse from the ground, but Jo barely heard it.

“And you.” Nakajima hauled Miki to his feet. As he stumbled on rubbery legs, she handcuffed his hands in front of him. “You’ve ruined everything. We have no idea where the cache of Pitch is, so Zero’s death means nothing. Core can still rebuild without him.”

Jo crawled toward them. “N-Nakajima!” he called. “We–”

“No.” Her furious gaze landed on Jo. “None of you realize how powerless this has made us.”

The edge of something unusual sharpened her voice. It almost sounded like…fear. Desperation.

His mouth went dry.

Mitsuko coughed from her place on the ground. She looked up at Nakajima, her mouth twisted in a grimace.

“It’s made you powerless,” Mitsuko spat. “You self-serving psycho.”

Nakajima glared at Mitsuko a moment, then flicked her eyes away. She reached to the back of her belt and unstrapped what looked like a walkie-talkie; she snapped it on, releasing an audible scratch of static.

“This is Detective Nakajima,” she said, her voice even again. “Unit 5538. I received an anonymous tip of a gang brawl outside the city, on a private residence near my location–”

Shit! Jo thought, dragging himself to his feet. “She’s calling this in to the cops!” he hissed into his headset. “We have to get out of here!”

Shouri let out a breath on her end of the audio line. “I’ll get Ayase,” she said quickly. “Is anybody unconscious?”

The insects finally zipped away from Jo. Jo saw Zayd somewhere behind him, on his knees and panting, and Adam groggily getting to his feet in the darkness.

“I think everyone can walk–mostly.”

“Is she really gonna arrest Miki-san?” Kiyoshi asked from his end.

Nakajima had already grabbed the handcuffed Miki by the back of his shirt; she hauled him off toward the forest as she murmured into her walkie-talkie. He cursed and dug his heels in, clearly irritating her.

When she paused to strengthen her grip on him, Mitsuko stumbled up. She grabbed Miki’s swollen face in both hands.

And kissed him.

Jo felt a breath vanish from his lungs. He watched that moment in the darkness, stretched thin and endless, as Mitsuko and Miki’s mouths moved together in desperate, blinding need.

“…”

And then Mitsuko’s moan became a grunt, echoing through the audio line as Nakajima yanked Miki away from her. “Bring Takeshi home,” Miki rasped, his voice unusually breathless in Jo’s ear. “Take care of Byakko.”

“I’ll get Daddy to buy you a lawyer. Just shut your fucking mouth until then.”

“Take care of Byakko!” Miki insisted as Nakajima hauled him off. “Did you hear me?!”

“I don’t need you to tell me that!” Mitsuko shouted back as Nakajima dragged him into the woods. He disappeared into the darkness, his headset snapping off in the middle of a stream of foul language.

Jo swallowed. He ran up to Mitsuko, his stomach tightening over the leaden block that had formed inside it.

She was crying. She wiped angry tears from her face, cursing underneath them.

“Mitsuko…?” Jo saw blood smeared across her hands, cheek, and clothes. In a panic, he lifted the edge of her shirt. There was a red stain on the thick, post-surgery bandage around her stomach, but it wasn’t dripping. She shook her head and pulled her shirt back down.

“That bitch mostly missed,” she murmured. “The rest of the blood isn’t mine.”

She sniffed and yanked a latex glove from her pocket, then crouched and pulled it on. She delicately lifted one of Nakajima’s nightsticks–abandoned in the nighttime grass.

“Shouri-san,” she said into the headset. “Tell Adam-san to get Zayd-san to the van.” Her angry, wet eyes caught Jo’s. “Jo, come with me.”

Jo followed her to the back porch, forcing down the bile in his throat. Mitsuko jumped onto the porch and threw the nightstick as far as she could into Zero’s house.

The clatterbang of the iron rod echoed in the night.

Jo could guess what she was doing–making Nakajima’s story, whatever it was, harder to explain to the police. But the girl didn’t elaborate, her attention turning toward the sprawled body half off the porch.

Trembling slightly, Jo lowered himself to his knees beside Takeshi. The guy was still warm to the touch, and his open, glazed eyes stared right through Jo.

Jo took a breath. He slid his arms under Takeshi’s and pulled that limp torso against his own.

Mitsuko leaned over from her place by Takeshi’s legs. She gently slid her fingers down Takeshi’s cheek.

“Goodbye,” she breathed. “I love you.”

Jo blinked his burning eyes.

Proceed to Chapter 4, Part 2, page 2–>