Isao gathers Mai and Yuka as he lays out a map.
Isao: I had to call in a favor, but I think I’ve got a lead.
Yuka: Well anything is better than nothing.
Isao: Number twelve had to be close-by if he was going to order around his subordinates.
Mai: So you think he’s still somewhere in the city?
Isao: (Nodding) I do.
Mai: Then where is he going to be?
Isao: Somewhere that is referred to as the Cavern of Canine?
Mai: ...Oh dear…
Yuka: What’s the deal with that place?
Mai: Probably hasn’t been said or been told anywhere, but it was nicknamed that for a certain reason.
Isao: That being?
Mai: It is the gravesite for a lot of the beastkin that went to war. For him to be set up there....its almost disrespectful.
Isao: He must have a reason for it.
Mai: Better be a good one, even if he said something about getting ‘justice for beastkin’ nobody would buy it, when his goons almost killed my brother. We have to take him down before he uses his money to get better people to do his dirty work.
Isao: Then grab your things and let’s go.
Mai and Yuka do so, and the three of them head out. Shigure continued to work on Kei’s wounds. Yui was teaching Alexandria the finer points of her favorite book series. Rie comes in and sits opposite Kei. Without flinching, she speaks.
Rie: I want to learn self-defense Kei.
Kei: ?! You?! (Tries to hold back laughter)
Shigure: Kei, stand still.
Rie: What’s so funny?!
Kei: Because that’s so unlike you Rie.
Rie: And I can’t be serious?
Kei: Are you really serious?
Rie: You think I’m not?
Kei: It’d be a huge surprise.
Rie: I’m deadly serious.
Kei: Rie, you realize that you’d have to give up your fashion?
Rie: I’m willing to deal with that.
Kei: You’d be getting dirty and scuffed a whole lot.
Rie: I’m willing to deal with that.
Kei: You’d be…
Rie: (Interrupting) I get it Kei!
Kei: (Sighing) Fine, in a couple of weeks you can come stay at my house, but you’ll be living under my house, and my rules, is that understood?
Rie: (Nods) I do.
Kei: (Thinking) All I need is Mai and Yuka living in my house and almost my whole family would be living with me.
Elsewhere, the three of them, Mai, Yuka, and Isao, after a two-three hour trip to the ‘Cavern of Canine’ had reached their destination. It seemed however, that things were quiet. All that was in front of them was the graveyard of several hundreds of beastkin.
Isao: A depressing sight.
Yuka: This is horrible...
Mai: Many of these beastkin gave their lives to protect innocent people.
Isao: They are heroes, each and every one of them. Giving their lives so that others may live, a truly noble prospect.
The three continue onward from the gravesite, but had yet to see any appearance of ‘number twelve’. There was nothing to even indicate that someone had set up camp in this cavern.
Mai: Are you sure your intel was good?
Isao: I trust her. She wouldn’t lead me astray.
Mai: Who exactly is your intel?
Isao: I promised not to reveal her name until she decides to come forward.
Mai: I hope your intel is right for more than one reason.
Yuka: We’ll find him…
The three continue still looking around, still finding nothing. Another hour passes before the three come to a halt in the hot heat.
Isao: We’ll stop here for the moment. Take a seat, drink some water, and keep hydrated.
Yuka: ...Sounds good
Mai stays standing and drinks a big swig of her bottled water. Isao simply sits down on the dirt. Yuka finds a rock to sit on, but to her surprise, the rock goes down as she sits on it.
Yuka: Eep...I uh found something…?
Behind Yuka, a door slides open to reveal a metallic entrance.
Mai: Nice work Yuka.
Yuka: Well that worked I guess...
Isao examines the door that lead to the inside.
Isao: This was built into the inside of the cavern. This would’ve been a significant amount of money. Whoever built this must have cash to burn.
Mai: Considering we’re talking about the NOL, maybe someone who had an amount of power and simply just exerting what he had left.
Isao: Either way, its a start.
The three walk down the air-conditioned hallway as the door shuts behind them. The lights seemingly cue themselves on.
They were surrounded only by metal, the place was seemingly built to last even through the worst of natural occurrences. As they walk to the end of the hallway, it expands to a huge room where in one corner is a computer and surveillance system.
Mai: Did we just step into an Saturday morning cartoon show?
Yuka: Sure looks like it…
As they reached the bottom of a set of stairs, a man seemingly comes from behind the wall. Dressed in black dress pants and dress shoes, and wearing a white collared shirt, he walks out to meet them. His black hair was spiked sharply. His green eyes stare at them.
???: Welcome to my humble abode.
Yuka: Oh look the “evil mastermind” of the lair arrives. (rolls her eyes)
???: Please, Miss, I prefer Akio.
Yuka: I don’t care what you go by.
Akio: I’m so sorry to hear that from a beautiful young lady such as yourself.
Yuka: Flattery will get you nowhere.
Akio: Who said anything about flattery?
Yuka: (facepalms) I guess I was being too hopeful on one thing.
Akio focuses on Isao.
Akio: Well now Isao, its certainly been a long time hasn’t it? Haven’t seen you since Kon took you away.
Isao: And you’re still an elitist prick.
Akio: Now, now, Isao. Please don’t judge me just because of my wealth. I believe I’m an honest man.
Yuka: You’re deranged.
Akio: I’m quite sane, thank you.
Mai: Hmph. You must think that I’m a fool.
Akio: No I think you’re quite beautiful as well.
Mai: The ladies must flee from you on command.
Yuka: Oh look a wannabe ladies man.
Akio: I see my charm is wasted on the both of you.
Isao: Cut the crap, Akio.
Akio: (Becomes serious) As you wish.
Yuka: Finally we can deal with this deranged pervert.
Akio: I assure you, I’m neither deranged nor a pervert. I’m well within my right mind. I prefer people take me seriously, as I’m sure you do as well.
Yuka: (a revolver appears in her hand from a glyph) Don’t test me idiot.
Akio: You misjudge my intentions. I am very serious.
Akio: Now what brings you here today.
Isao: Your lackeys took out a friend.
Mai: My brother, to be exact.
Akio: I never did anything to your brother, nor did I give a command to have him eliminated.
Isao: Your lackeys just happened to do that?
Akio: You misunderstand, Isao. The Branch are their bosses now. They haven’t worked for me.
Yuka: And why should we believe you?
Akio: I don’t have a reason to lie. The three of you are already here, if I said I did or didn’t, you’ve all already judged me anyway, so what purpose would that serve?
Yuka: The two goons that attacked Kei mentioned that their boss would be angry if he found out they failed.
Akio: Number one is so stringent lately, simply because of Kei. He wants him dead. He doesn’t care how it gets done.
Yuka: Not happening.
Akio: He took those two away from me and told them, do what you have to. A waste of money they were anyway.
Yuka: Throwing people away? The hell is wrong with you people?
Akio: You aren’t very familiar with the business world, are you? People are thrown away at the tip of a hat. Their whole lives destroyed because of a man with money. Those two, they were desperate for money. They originally got into the NOL because of their desperation and they tested well enough.
Yuka: Oh I know how the business world works just fine. Throwing people’s lives away is still low. Even for people who think they are “perfect”.
Akio: Then you wouldn’t survive in the business world. Simple as that.
Yuka: That’s a lie. Because I’m alive right now.
Akio: Then the world didn’t treat you that harshly.
Yuka: Don’t...Talk...As if you know me!
Mai: Easy, Yuka, he’s just trying to get you angry.
Akio: The world treats us all harshly, you think yours is more special than someone else’s?
Yuka: I never said that.
Akio: You certainly implied it. You made it sound like your world was significantly bigger than everyone else’s. Just because of how you just reacted.
Yuka: That’s because you implied that my life was all sunshine and rainbows.
Akio: Then allow me to give you a newsflash. The world lives in black and white, nobody’s world is sunshine and rainbows. Its all rain clouds and anger. It’s all grey skies and hatred. Nobody gives a damn about anyone else. Your life is insignificant to someone else, just like mine was to someone else.
Yuka: So just because of that you think it’s ok to throw away the lives of other people? I know that people think the world is terrible but it’s not!
Mai: And newsflash! People do care about her, one of them stands right here.
Akio: How simple the world must be to the two of you.
Isao: That’s enough Akio.
Akio: I really don’t care what my orders are anymore. Number one wanted you all dead anyway, so I think I’ll take care of you all right now.