Inspector Norino Vastai once again read the note that was sent to him by post. Despite all the efforts of his colleagues to identify the sender of the note, these attempts hadn’t achieved a thing. It turned out impossible to trace the person in question through finding the address on the note.
The laser codification of the letter indicated that the note was posted at the post-office box 2509 Sanctuary. But even with the numerous fixed cameras in the streets or the mobile spybots that supervised some parts of the city they couldn’t screen all the post-office boxes. Maybe it would have been possible, knowing that they had to keep an eye on the particular post-office box and programming a number of the cameras in the proximity. After investigation of the post-office box in question, it showed out that it was standing in a dead corner. Coincidence or meant?
Not that Norino Vastai, in the first instance, couldn’t ‘read’ the text or that he didn’t know who had written these superlative strange words. The databases from before the Big War were fortunately saved for humanity and had already revealed the name of the original writer of these words. It seemed they had an excerpt in possession of the ‘Requiem’ of Mozart. Unfortunately, the translation of this text wasn’t available anymore in the databases of the Security Service and it was in a language he didn’t speak. History from before the annihilation of a great deal of the world was a piece of a relic and a silent witness of how men had managed to realize their own downfall. There were books, pieces of music, biographies, pictures of monuments and sights and many other things in these databases. He looked at the graceful handwriting and read the note again.
Dies irae, dies illa
Solvetseaeclum in favilla,
Test David cum Sybilla.
Quantus tremor et futurus.
Quando Judex estventurus
The department fingerprints hadn’t discovered anything useful in this piece of paper. It was of a recycled kind that could be bought anywhere – real paper had become too expensive – and the chemical examination of the ink or potentially DNA on the paper had resulted in nothing. No rare kind of ink that would push them in a certain direction or store. Just an immaculate written piece of paper without traces on it.
Luckily, there is a silver lining to every cloud and one of his colleagues had besides his diploma in criminology and a few other references also taken some classical and old languages. A dead language as Latin wasn’t incorporated anymore in the school schedules of the New World. The official language was English, both in the business world as in the world of science. Even people in the medical sector who still used at the beginning of the 21st century a lot of Latin had relinquished. But now Norino was glad to appeal to this bit of knowledge of his colleague. A translation bureau should have been again an extra item on his monthly expense note. A thing where the management would carp about or pinch and scrape. That’s why he could read now on an annexed digital note of his colleague, the translation of this strange anonymous message:
Day of wrath, day of anger
Will dissolve the world in ashes,
As foretold by David and the Sibyl.
A great trembling there will be
When the Judge descends from heaven
To examine all things closely.
To be complete, his colleague and translator had written under it: ‘Excerpt and translation out of the “Requiem” of Mozart.
Normally they wouldn’t have passed ‘this’ message to Norino Vastai. But below the Latin text there was a question written in a stylish way. A question that wasn’t in Latin. It was written in Norino’s national language. Words he had already read ten times and that did frown the Chief Inspector.
Who is next after Suzy Chang?
He was naked and sat in a lotus position on the cold a gray concrete. Motionless, as if he was a tailor’s dummy or a waxen figure. Eyes closed. Only the vertical and horizontal movement behind his closed eyelids witnessed that he wasn’t a lifeless puppet, but a living creature and that this person obviously found himself in a phase of REM-sleep.
Images of blood, screaming and howling filled his dreams. A smile was carved around his lips. He heard the begging and praying for forgiveness, the weeping of his victims in the awareness of their sins. Sinners whom he had put in the right direction. Someone who realized his mistakes and begged for forgiveness could get mercy. The mercy in death. Wiping out their crimes in the washing of their own blood, which was the only way to cleanse them of their sins.
Between his hands that rested relaxed on his knees was an erection clearly visible. In this way, he stayed about half an hour in his world of horror and death, without giving any expression of life. Then suddenly, in one fluent movement out of his sitting position he rose and opened his eyes at the same time.
Before him, there was a little platform, a sort of altar where he had exhibited different items. On one side of these items were four candles casting creepy shadows over the coarse walls. His naked figure was projected in multiple on the walls of the room. A sinister game of shadows.
He caressed with respect the altar and the items he had collected. Fetishes, evidence of his conquests, the lost sheep, the saved herd. How long it was, that he was busy to bring the mislead ones on the right path. He carefully took a lock of hair that he had wrapped in a transparent plastic foil, opened the package and smelled with passion in it, folded it up again and put it back in place. And so he did with all the objects that were on the altar.
‘Exaudi orationem meam, ad te omnis caro veniet. Hear my prayer, to You all flesh will come,’ he murmured meditative in Latin while he took a little piece of skin the size of a coin in his both hands and sacrificed it to the picture behind the altar. After these rituals, he took the Nihonto out of his rack that was also on the altar and removed it from the sheath, which he putted back in the rack.
He turned around to the right where there was another door. A door that led to another space that was just as shadowy as the room with the altar. On a hook on the left side of the door hung a white clothing that he draped over him. Two holes in the linen at eye level made it possible to find his way. He opened the door of the other room and left the intimacy of his personal temple.
In the room, a man had been attached to the wall with heavy chains. When the white appearance entered the room the man had barely moved his head. Still, he had heard something and a whining sound came out of his throat cutting by marrow and bone. It was fear that was squeezed out of the prisoner’s throat. A sound swelled into a roar according as the white shape approached.
Tired but satisfied I swept the sweat out of my eyes. After an intensive training where I had accomplished all the movements of the ‘Kami Akai’ in a sham fight against my imaginary opponent, my stress was ‘almost’ completely vanished. A series of 120 movements that flowed into each other in a perfect symmetry was the basis of martial arts in which I had been taught from my seventh year of my life. There were indeed combinations with lesser movements according to the situation of application.
But in my frustration and physical necessity, I had worked the whole series. Both my body as my spirit needed it. They both had to react actively in a drill session that was built out of many defensive but also offensive movements. The interaction always had a calming effect on me. It was an interaction of different functions of the body. The eye reflexes that should react to the counter movement, the control of the breath in connection with the scrutinizing of the fight situation, in case you had a real opponent, everything was of importance. All these matters had to interact so that at the end of a session you felt a lot better by the disengaged endorphin. A positive reaction to the mass of negative aggression that was built in one’s system during a certain period.
That was the only way to find the balance according to my father, Arturo Mitsukai, also my mentor in the Kami Akai. Roughly translated Kami Akai means Red Spirits. The adept in this martial arts has to be as a ghost, one moment facing his adversary, the other moment, looking down as conqueror on his knocked down opponent. The red of Akai stands for the power of the sun. The force by which you strike, the warmth of the energy that is released and by which you scorched the enemy.
It wasn’t just a coincidence that I had chosen the Dojo ‘Shogi’ for my training. It was indeed the Dojo where a number of the member of the Skeelers practiced their martial arts. Ji Lang, an old acquaintance since I was ten, who was also educated under the same Master, came by on a regular base and he maybe was the person who could help me. Today he had an appointment at four o’clock in the afternoon. I had received this info at the desk by putting all my charms in the ring. Sometimes it gave better results that a round of fighting. Just a quarter of sweating out on the conveyor belt and then I had a few pressing questions to ask.
Ji entered the Dojo punctually at four o’clock. He owned the Red Circle just like me. The next best degree in Kami Akai. The Masters were the only ones, who, after many years, having the Red Circle could earn the Golden Circle. The red sun, which on his strongest and his highest point becomes a golden ball. That’s why this was the highest title in the Kami Akai, the best of the best. After a period of defending the Red Circle you could, according to the rules of the Kami Akai, perform a series of ten tests, a sort of a final examination. Who succeeded without mistakes received the Golden Circle. It was for each of them an ordeal of their many years of experience and knowledge that they had gathered in this martial art. So it wasn’t so astonishing that few were attributed this honor.
I came towards Ji and bowed with my right hand against my heart. Ji smiled and greeted back. ‘My condolences Yukiko,’ were his first words. I thanked him for his sympathies. It was an automatic reaction. So many people had done it already and I didn’t doubt their sympathy, but my reaction came out without thinking, I wouldn’t take a deeper look. I just hoped that they didn’t cause offense.
‘It’s a long time we’ve seen,’ Ji continued. ‘What brings you here today? Out of shape?’ he teased. We did get along well, my father always had thought of him as a humble and promising student. ‘On the contrary, I’m really in shape, maybe I can beat you,’ I challenged him.
Ji Lang couldn’t refuse this challenge and pointed grinning at the free mat on his left side. We took our start position, greeted following the rules and began to move around each other like two tigers in an exploring phase. Both Ji as I tried at first some feinting movements. To test the action and reaction of the opponent. I knew from before that Ji sometimes was too confident and mostly attacked too soon. Just for this reason he often came to close in my stroking area. I had to count in that it could also be a feint or a provocation maneuver.
I tried an offensive movement and got indeed an example of the power of his dangerous left one. I had forgotten about his famous left one. I felt the power of the Kami Akai and counted some stars, shook my head and re-adjusted my defense. Faking that I wasn’t recovered from his first attack, Ji walked in with both eyes open in my setting up a trap. This time anyway!
Now I dodged his zooming left, felt the power splashing open over my head and disappearing. With a mowing leg movement, Li was knocked down by me. After that he asked for a revenge and won, also after a long game of exploring and feinting movements, I laid in the end on my belly in a hold just before the finishing stroke. It was a battle with some of the expert examples of Kami Akai and the persons present stopped their training during the fight to watch this fight between two Red Circles. We eventually even got an appreciation applause after each round.
After the second round, I made a crossed sign with my arms over my chest as a sign that I’d like to stop the game. We had both won one battle and that was good for my next step, certainly after Ji Lang had won the last.
After we had freshened up after the game, we came back as agreed in the welcome hall of the Shogi. ‘Hey, Ji, may I offer you something in the bar, to celebrate our reunion, what do you think? Milk is still your favorite beverage?’ I smiled.
Ji frowned, playing the displeased. ‘What a stupid question, Yu, you know that white stuff is the ultimate drug for me?’ It was his joke, with which he had put many on the wrong leg. To those who didn’t know him, they thought he spoke about cocaine, but Ji was deadly serious when he mentioned his glass of milk. ‘Let it come, Yu. I wouldn’t refuse that. Let’s party!’ Unintentional I was thinking of Gekko with his awkward yells in strange languages. Anyway, Ji spoke far better English. Both Chinese as Japanese had quite some problems with the pronunciation of English, nonetheless in the 22nd century English was used as the official language because of multicultural communities both in the Old as in the New World.
In the bar, we told each other our adventures of the last year after he had repeated his condolences for the loss of my parents. We retrieved old memories together, what both did us good. To break the ice, this has been always the right method. But eventually I asked him the question why I was here.
‘You have lost some friends too with the Skeelers, haven’t you? I thought I had read that?’ I started probing.
‘Oh, don’t let me start, a very unappetizing matter, Yukiko. It still goes around in my head that Myo and Dakai aren’t here anymore. To lose your life in such a bloody way. Mutilated and eventually decapitated, I cannot think about it. When I should get the perpetrator in my hands, I don’t know if I could control myself. I wouldn’t stop before the finishing stroke!’
He stared at his glass of milk with an angry look on his face and for a moment I thought it would burst into pieces, so white his knuckles came.
‘Ji, I don’t know if this is a coincidence, it cannot be, but my parents have died, in the same way. Maybe we can join efforts and try to know something more because what the Security Service have let us know is anything, but worth mentioning, you should even think they withholding things from us.’
I told him about my visit with Gerekko Dai and mentioned the illegal break-in on the system of the Security Service. Ji frowned a moment, but then I saw it was with a smile on his lips, so reassured I went on after a moment of hesitation. ‘That Stephen March, would he know something more? Have you still elements in these murders that could take us further?
‘Maybe I have something better yet…,’ he let the silence build some tension after those words and looked at me right in the eyes with his head a bit squinted. ‘A Skeeler has seen the kidnapping of Myo and Dakai and has possibly more information about that murderous animal. Who knows, it can be something to help us find the killer!’
Now I looked him right in the eyes. ‘So you also want just like me to start an independent little investigation after the murderer or murderers, are we clear about this?’
‘Ji nodded. ‘I get no support for this with the other Skeelers,’ he explained, ‘you know the government don’t like gangs and so. They condone if we stay between the drawn lines. But my friend I was speaking of is probably the only one who thinks differently. Besides, we have set up an import and export firm together, dealing art objects that yielded quite an amount of money.’
I was given hope, you never know, all those little clues could result in one good trace. ‘Where does he live, what’s his name…?
Ji smiled because of my enthusiasm. ‘Still the inpatient Yu as before, always to the point. We call him Eagle Eye for a long time yet. Ask me why?’
‘Why?’ What a willing and obedient girl I was!
‘At a riot a decade ago, he has lost one of his eyes,’ told Ji. ‘Still, it hasn’t beaten him and with the implantation of bionic body parts nowadays in such a case it could work miracles. And so they implanted a high-tech eye. Sometimes a man is better with one of these intelligent implantations. He sees thousand times better than before with his new eye. Just like an eagle that can look kilometers away,’ Ji smiled. ‘Plus the extra’s you get with such an intelligent eye like the projection of internet data or incoming mail through a link with your mobile. You cannot forget the zoom and record possibilities and certain things I even don’t understand. Even if he is becoming a bit of a machine, you are far better off with two of them,’ Ji decided. He had always been a supporter of technological masterpieces.
With a last gulp, he emptied his beverage, took his vest and motioned me to go. ‘Enough talking, come with me to our humble residence in the city suburb. I meant the ‘Swift’, the meeting place of the Skeelers. I’ll just introduce him to you and we will see if we have a useful trace.
copyright Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere