Hayami’s Home, Musutafu, 5:17 PM
February 25th, 2148.
“It depends on where Hisoka wants to go,” Hayami said snootily.
Sajin rolled his eyes at his sister, something I’d seen him do before.
“Obviously,” Sajin said, amused at her annoyance, “I’m just saying that you don’t have to get caught up in the media storm; Shinketsu is just as good of a school as U.A.”
I’d already made up my mind on that decision a long time ago, not that I had anything against the school that Sajin had graduated from.
“I would like to enroll at U.A. High School,” I said, smiling slightly.
Sajin slumped in his seat, exaggerating the motion greatly, but it was pretty clear he wasn’t actually upset.
“Then it’s settled,” Hayami said triumphantly.
“Applications aren’t sent out until the end of the year anyway,” Sajin said suddenly, smiling brightly again. “That means I have all year to sell you Shinketsu!”
“Absolutely not,” Hayami denied standing up and moving towards the kettle, “He already made his choice.”
Sajin gave me a sly wink, and I smiled again; he was only stirring his sister up at this point; the man had no stake in which school I chose, he’d said as much previously. As long as I was happy with my choice, so was he, or so he’d said.
“The school is on the other side of the city, though,” Hayami murmured, “How long is the commute from here?”
The topic change drew my interest, and my gaze sharpened.
“I have no idea; I went to Shinketsu, remember?” Sajin said, grinning, “It’s much closer to here, by the way, in case you were wondering.”
Hayami sent him a mean look over her shoulder, and Hisoka shook his head in amusement.
“I looked it up a while ago,” I said, pausing for effect, “It’s an hour and a half from here by train.”
Sajin whistled at the comment.
“Ouch,” Sajin said honestly, “That would get pretty annoying after doing it every day for four years.”
Hayami was frowning as well.
“Hayami looks like you’ll have to sell the old family home at last and move into a shack across town.” Sajin needled her, “What a shame!”
Hayami gave him a scandalized look at the idea, clearing upset that he would suggest such a thing.
“We can’t sell Higawara manor! Don’t you remember how old this place is-” Hayami cried but flushed when Sajin started laughing. “Idiot!”
“How about renting him a one-bedroom closer to the school?” Sajin offered a serious alternative, still grinning. “Wouldn’t be too expensive, we can get together on weekends—instill a bit of independence in you—what do you think, buddy?”
I tilted my head at the suggestion; Sajin had just stumbled onto something that I had been planning on for a while now. Being able to gauge both of their reactions to the question without being the one to suggest it was a priceless opportunity.
“Living on his own?” Hayami said hesitantly, but not seemingly outright against the idea.
I studied her body language for a few moments; she was hesitant about the idea but not outright against it, likely due to how our current situation already mirrored it. I judged that I could likely tilt her into agreeing without much persuasion. It wasn’t that different from how we already lived if I was honest.
Hayami still left regularly on trips, and as I’d grown older, Sajin’s supervision had reduced from permanent to stopping by every other day as I showcased that I was responsible enough to look after myself. I was fourteen now, and those supervisory visits had dropped to twice a week-I was still either at school or at home, though, so they both knew where I was at all times and that I was safe.
This was a bit different; it’s why I had been waiting for the perfect moment.
Hayami had set up a bank account for me more than a year ago, with a more than generous stipend being deposited for food and entertainment purchases. I was used to getting groceries delivered when Hayami was away, and I had a working understanding of how to cook for myself.
The decision to move was an easy one to weigh, an hour and a half travel every day where I would be on a train, or an hour and a half a day I could be used for more productive purposes. That was four-hundred hours a year lost that I could be spending on something more useful.
Like looking for Nanami, which was hard enough to hide that I was still doing it, I had been willing to sacrifice the time for potentially the best hero training in japan, an investment to help me learn advanced methods of searching.
“I think that’s a good decision,” I said thoughtfully, “It wouldn’t be much different to our system now, and I would be able to spend that hour and a half doing homework at home rather than attempt it on the train.”
Hayami turned and studied me for a long moment, looking torn. A bit of pressure on a very specific point would be enough to bring her the rest of the way.
“But, I don’t want to financially burden you any more than I already have,” I added quietly after a moment, intentionally misconstruing her feelings. “I’m willing to take the train if that’s what you would prefer, Hayami.”
Hayami was well off—obscenely so—between her inheritance, her talent with art, and the fame that had come with it; Indicating that I was having negative thoughts about the cost associated with taking care of me would be a catalyst for her to quickly attempt to reassure me.
It would, in turn, lock her into a course of action she hadn’t really had the time to think through and further prevent her from retracting it later—because it would suggest that I was a financial burden after all.
It was a calculated move, and I absolutely didn’t feel good about using it on Hayami, but I also knew that it would likely be extremely effective and a solid step towards something I had wanted.
“You’re not a financial burden at all,” Hayami said indignantly, as I knew she would. “I wouldn’t even notice the cost of a small apartment, Hisoka, you know that, so don’t be silly. It’s up to you; if you would like to try, you can; you’ve shown that you are more than responsible enough to look after yourself.”
Sajin interjected a moment later, further tilting the outcome in the direction I’d nudged it.
“Besides, I’m just a phone call away if you need anything, and you’ll be closer to where I work anyway,” Sajin said seriously, “It wouldn’t be like you were stranded. It’s up in the air anyway; if you don’t end up going to U.A, we might not even have to worry about it, Shinketsu-.”
“Hisoka,” Hayami interjected quickly before Sajin could derail the conversation again with all of the reasons why Shinketsu was the better school. “If you do get accepted to U.A, would you like to try living on your own for a while? If at any point you want to come back, you will always be welcome here, you know that.”
I ducked my head slightly, and after a long moment, I nodded carefully.
“I would like to try living on my own, please.” I said firmly, “I will make sure not to misuse your trust in me.”
“You’re a good boy, Hisoka,” Hayami said brightly, pulling him into a tight hug. “We will talk about this in more detail another day, but is there anything else you think you might need?”
Well, if I could have my cake and eat it too, well, wouldn’t that be better?
“Can I have some more of my birthday cake, please?” I said quietly.
“Of course you can,” Hayami said happily. “I’m glad you like it so much.”
“It’s like clockwork, huh?” Sajin laughed, “I want another piece too!”
“Denied,” Hayami said immediately.
“What?” Sajin yelped. “Hayami!”
Hayami’s Home, Musutafu, 8:17 PM
March 5th, 2148.
Hiroshi Kureta’s body had been found in the Inouzawa River, in Shimoda. Kana Kureta’s body, however, had been found further away, at Suzaki, right near the diving center. The commonality was that both bodies had been located in water and within 1.5km of a well-known shipping route.
The bodies had been damaged badly, and it had been discovered that Hiroshi had died at least two hours before Kana had, and the cause of his death had been drowning. While Kana Kureta had also determined to have drowned, she also had multiple markers that were associated with sexual assault.
I hadn’t found any of this out until years later, and only through stumbling onto a blog that dealt with unsolved criminal cases around the world. Whoever was updating the website had delved pretty deeply into the available information, and it had been invaluable to my continued search.
The shipping routes from Shimoda lead to a series of small islands—all of which had already been searched during the initial search and rescue—before circling back to Tokyo Bay. At which point, who knew where the ones responsible could have gone.
It stood out to me that the killer had apparently taken the three of them to Shimoda in the first place. If they had wanted a body of water to hide the bodies, they could have accomplished that in Suruga Bay.
The reason they had gone specifically to Shimoda had to be important.
Shimoda had a population upwards of 78,900 as of the year 2147; it had been trending slowly upwards for the last century. It was a port city, and it had once been—a long time ago—at the forefront of a debate of national seclusion policy.
Its economy was also entirely based on tourism and commercial fishing. It lay claim to several beaches that were a popular spot for people all over Japan and even international visitors.
I’d mulled over all of the things I knew about Shimoda for weeks, but I couldn’t find anything particularly special about it. So why had the killer taken three people all the way there first, before disposing of two of them—especially when there were closer and easy options available.
Nobody had seen the Kureta’s make their way to Shimoda, and nobody had seen them leave the port, but thousands of people had left the port that day and hundreds of boats, according to the reports.
All those people at the docks and nobody had seen anything suspicious, so how did they get a family of three people, presumed alive at the time, onto a boat without being seen?
Why take that kind of risk if it wasn’t absolutely necessary?
Hiroshi and Kana had been left in presumably in two different locations, one on the way out of Inouzawa River, and then one hour later off the coast of Shimoda. The time of death, as reported by the police, presumed that whatever vessel they were on prior to their deaths had left the Inouzawa River sometime after 6:00 PM.
A ship left Shimoda, sometime after 6:00 PM, carrying a family of three and an unknown killer; I just had to figure out which one. I was almost certain that I wasn’t covering any new ground here, but I had no intention of skipping any of the angles either way.
Nanami was still out there somewhere, and I was going to find her.
Pasana Middle School, Musutafu, 8:12 PM
April 4th, 2148.
“It’s the beginning of your final year at our school,” Mr. Rin said seriously, “I expect you all to conduct yourselves responsibly; just because you’ll be leaving at the end of the year doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences to any misbehaviors, understand?”
There was a murmur of agreement from the class at the stern man’s words.
“Perfect,” Mr. Rin said, pleased, “Now, in saying that, it’s best that you start thinking about which schools you will be applying for now, rather than at the end of the year. It’s always better to make a calm and rational decision in advance than to have to rush with only a few days yet, are there any of you who currently intends on enrolling into a hero academy?”
Almost everyone in the class raised their hands, which was expected, but I left mine down. I had every intention of enrolling at U.A at the end of the year. I’d learned my lesson a long time ago; it was easier to just stay below the attention of the others and only engage when I was required.
It allowed me a lot more time to observe my classmates.
“Who will be trying for U.A or Shinketsu?” Mr. Rin said thoughtfully, glancing around as about thirty percent of the class lowered their hands.
It was an obvious trap if I’d ever seen one.
“I’ll be expecting you all to test far above the rest of the class then, given how high your goals are.” Mr. Rin said seriously.
There was some nervous laughter at the comment, but they otherwise remained silent.
“Akito,” Rin said suddenly, “Where do you intend on enrolling?”
Akito was one of the three students who hadn’t raise their hands, and he sighed before sitting up out of his slump.
“I don’t know, teach,” Akito said honestly, “I don’t really want to be a hero; I like making things, though.”
Mr. Rin stared him down for a moment before nodding in acceptance.
“I would suggest looking into engineering, woodcraft, or perhaps metalwork.” Mr. Rin suggested and received a hesitant nod from Akito. “Very well, my point has been made; the rest of you ensure you actually look into this. I’ll be extremely unimpressed if you come to me in the last week of school about it.”
The girl with blonde hair and tanned skin sighed in relief as she managed to get away without her own interrogation, and I could relate; I had thought I was going to be next, but we had both managed to avoid Rin’s searching gaze.
Lunch had only been called five minutes ago, and I’d already spotted something out of the ordinary.
A boy, and a girl, not in my class, but they were in my year, they were standing around a boy I’d seen around, from the year below us. He had shaggy blue hair, and judging by how his eyebrows were the same color, it was natural—likely a result of his quirk.
“There’s no way it’s real,” The girl laughed, tugging on the smaller boy’s hair.
Blue had scrunched his face up but refused to say anything in his defense, just glaring up at her.
“Look at his eyebrows, though,” The boy with the horns said unenthusiastically, “Do you think he dyes them too or something, Noriko?”
“Probably,” ‘Noriko’ said easily, giving it another tug.
“Can I go now?” The blue-haired boy huffed.
“Aww, you don’t want to hang out with us?” Noriko teased, pulling his hair again. “That’s mean; Gatou, tell him to stop being mean to me.”
Gatou just rolled his eyes but did nothing to stop his friend.
“Stop pulling my hair.” The kid grimaced, “You’re making me mad.”
I wasn’t surprised when she didn’t let go; instead, she started laughing.
How ironic that I’d seen almost this exact same situation years ago—that one had ended with a broken arm, a month of suspension, and a girl crying.
Let’s see if I could do better this time.
I took out my phone and snapped a quick picture of them, and Noriko turned at the noise.
“That’s a nice picture,” I said easily, fiddling with my phone. “Think the teachers will mind if I stick a couple of copies up around the school?”
“Shit,” Gatou said quietly upon spotting him. “Noriko, let him go.”
Noriko huffed but let the blue-haired kid go.
“Just messing around, let’s leave it there,” Gatou said easily, “All good, kid?”
The blue hair kid apparently decided he wasn’t quite so happy about that because he punched the older boy right in the dick.
“Oof!” Gatou wheezed, dropping to his knees. “Come on, man!”
Noriko backed up with her hands in the air, a gesture of surrender as the blue-haired kid took a swing in between her legs as well, barely whiffing the hit.
“Hey!” Norika yelped.
“Get back here,” Blue-hair said indignantly, “I’m going to punch you in the dick!”
“I haven’t got one!” Noriko squawked, scrambling away from him.
I sighed; at least no one was crying.
Pasana Middle School, Musutafu, 2:52 PM
November 8th, 2148.
“Hisoka,” Mr. Rin called, “The next passage is yours.”
Hisoka stood up quietly and studied the writing on the board.
“Between the desire and the spasm, between the potency and the existence,” Hisoka said slowly, reading the foreign words carefully. “Between the essence and the descent, falls the Shadow?”
“Perfect,” Mr. Rin said, pleased, “Well done, Hisoka, you may sit down. Itsuki, the final passage is yours.”
Itsuki stood up quickly and scanned the writing.
“It just says the same thing?” Itsuki complained but hurried to start when Mr. Rin narrowed his eyes at him. “This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but with a-”
A long green pole of some kind, moving with a speed that blurred the details, reached through the window, with the sound of shattering glass, it crossed the room in an instant, taking Mr. Rin in the shoulder and carrying him across the room. He slammed into the door and kept going, and I could see where he was left hanging in the hall, pinned to the wall.
“Get down!” Mr. Rin cried out painfully from the hall. “On the floor now!”
The screaming started barely a second later as everyone rushed to get out of their seats, and I understood—as another two of the green projectiles came through the other windows—that whatever was attacking hadn’t finished yet.
They were followed by more and more by the second, slamming into the walls after tearing the rest of the windows to pieces and sticking there like a giants dartboard.
I held my hand out, and a wave of sand rushed out to cover the windows, and I had to firm it up as the first bamboo stake penetrated halfway through it. I hardened it until the endless wave of spears were shattering on the wall of sand and then moved to expand it to cover the rest of the windows.
With the generation of so much sand came a sudden increase to my visual acuity; I could see out of the wall towards where the projectiles were coming from. A man, surrounded by a field of spears, had his arms pointed towards the school, and the bamboo spears were emerging from his hands like a machine gun.
Once he realized they were no longer penetrating the sand, the man waved his hands outwards, sending the neverending flurry of deadly spears through the other floors of the building. I started generating more sand and letting it wash down the building in a waterfall, doing my best to seal all of the windows up.
I checked the area quickly, as the rest of the class fled the room, crawling along the floor. I sent a tendril of sand out into the hall and used it to snap the spear holding Mr. Rin to the wall, allowing him to drop to his feet, with the spear still embedded in him.
“Hisoka!” Mr. Rin managed before I stepped into the wall of sand and vanished from the room. “Don’t!”
I emerged from the top of the roof, absorbing the view of the school from above.
The spears were starting to come faster, larger, and with more force. I was forced to thicken the sand again as I worked to encapsulate the entire building in a dome of protective sand.
The man finally spotted me and turned both of his hands upwards towards where I was standing on the roof. I raised my hand, and another shield of protective sand appeared in front of me—even more densely packed than before.
The twin waves of spears shattered on the sand, sending shards flying everywhere. A single, much larger Bamboo spear smashed solidly into the sand wall, thicker around then my entire body, and as the tip poked through the wall, I sent sand crawling along its edge in an attempt to slow its growth. The sharp point of the bamboo tore out of the back of my hand before I managed to halt it.
I stopped holding back the second the wave of agony reached me.
Sand exploded into a massive wave as I started multiplying it; it crashed outwards towards the man in a tidal wave of sand taller than the school building. The enormous bamboo spear snapped as it was forced upwards, and just before my attack reached him, bamboo erupted into a cage of thick protectives spears around him, almost as tall as the wave.
The interlocking bamboo posts did nothing to stop the sand from shattering them and slipping inside to where he was hiding, bamboo erupted from the man’s hands in an attempt to ward it off, but it slipped through and started to encircle his arms and legs.
The man was still raging inside his bamboo and sand prison as I built gauntlets around his hands and thickened the sand until he couldn’t force any more spears out without crushing his own hands.
I shattered the remains of the bamboo cage and dragged the shouting man out of the mess before immobilizing him on the mostly destroyed concrete pathway in front of the school.
There was a moment where I could better survey the environment without being attacked.
Thin bamboo spears were sticking out of everything; they covered the grounds, the buildings across from the school, the cars, the walls of the gymnasium, and as I slowly let my sand return to me, the rest of the school was revealed.
The walls were green and spiky, and there were about two windows that had survived the attack. I looked down at the bloody mess that was my left hand and the slowly growing red puddle on the roof.
I hadn’t realized it with all of the adrenaline, but I was crying. It was the most painful thing I had ever felt, and I wondered if this was what Haru had felt all those years ago when I’d broken his arm. I let my hand fall apart in an attempt to stop the pain.
The pain vanished, and I rebuilt my arm a moment later, skin unmarred and whole. I held my fingers up in front of my face and squeezed them carefully, but the pain didn’t return—it was gone.
I could hear sirens.
Police Station, Musutafu, 9:43 AM
November 9th, 2148.
I sat quietly in the waiting room while Sajin spoke to a woman behind a desk. It wasn’t the first time I’d been inside a police station, not even the first time I’d been in this one in particular.
Sajin or Snatch in his professional capacity was well known here; he often worked alongside the police as a protective detail in case of villain activity—and so it came as no surprise that he was quite at home here.
This time I was the reason he was here, because of what had happened at the school.
‘Shoot and Leave,’ the villain who had attacked hadn’t been targeting the school specifically. It had been a two-block rampage that had ended with hundreds of injuries and several deaths. He had been engaged several times by local heroes, but they had been unable to get close to him due to his quirk.
Sajin pointed across the room at the door, and the woman nodded with a smile.
I stood up as Sajin made a motion to follow him, and when we reached the door, he opened it and shuffled me on through—There was a simple wooden table in the middle of the room and four chairs.
“Take a seat, buddy,” Sajin said easily, “Should only be a couple of minutes.”
“Okay, Uncle-Sajin,” I said pleasantly, taking the offered seat.
“How mad was Hayami?” Sajin said, amused.
“Very, very mad,” I admitted. “I’m grounded again.”
Sajin started laughing and shook his head with a grin.
“That won’t hold up after I talk to her, don’t worry about it; you didn’t do anything wrong—uh, I mean you did, but—hmm.” Sajin amended before turning to look over his shoulder as the door finished opening. “Marcus! This is Hisoka, my nephew.”
“Nice to see you, Sajin, and a very good morning to you, Hisoka,” Marcus said kindly, taking a seat opposite them. “I remember school being tough, but I’ve gotta tell you, I can’t remember ever being attacked during class.”
“It’s a shame we weren’t in math,” I said simply. “I like English.”
“Don’t let Hayami hear you say that,” Sajin laughed. “Alright, let’s get this show on the road.”
“There are two things we need to discuss here today,” Marcus said seriously, “The first: you used your quirk liberally and in public before engaging a villain in combat. You did so without the required licenses—whether or not your actions were just, or the result of your actions saved a great number of people—you still broke a law which has been written by people who are far smarter than any of us.”
I listened quietly; I was well aware of this already, both because everyone knew the law when it came to using quirks, it was taught to them at a young age. You didn’t get in trouble for minor uses of them in public; you got in trouble for using it against others in a disrupting or harmful way; regardless of whether or not you were helping or hindering, the rule still applied.
“I know they teach this in school,” Marcus continued, “You knowingly disregarded the direction of your teacher and engaged a villain who has to date, killed over twenty people, and injured hundreds.”
Sajin remained aloof and made no move to add or deter the man, a firm believer in the law.
“You endangered your own life and potentially disrupted the efforts of the heroes to detain a villain,” Marcus said firmly, “I’m not saying any of this to make you feel bad or to scorn your efforts to protect your classmates because they are very much alive today because of your actions, but I need you to understand how serious this is Hisoka; it could have ended very differently, and very badly for everyone involved. There is a reason we have heroes, there is a reason why they go through so much training before they can obtain their licenses, and there is a reason why you cannot do something like this again.”
Marcus stopped talking and studied me, waiting for a response.
“I understand, sir,” I said quietly.
“Can you tell me what you did wrong in particular?” Marcus inquired gently.
It was obvious in hindsight, if I’d just used my quirk to block the windows, I wouldn’t have gotten in trouble at all, despite the public use of my quirk. Kids often used their quirks at school, and nobody blinked an eye.
“I shouldn’t have left the classroom to fight the villain,” I said honestly, “I should have stayed with Mr. Rin and the rest of my class.”
Marcus nodded and sat back in his chair.
“You’re not going to have to pay the fine—this time at least—I’ve been encouraged to not go too hard on you from the big boss,” Marcus admitted, “Despite your actions being reckless and against the law, you saved a lot of people yesterday, Hisoka, most of which were children.”
I nodded quietly, unsure what to say to the admittance; I glanced over at Sajin to find him smiling.
“Okay!” Marcus said enthusiastically, much more upbeat. “With that, we can move onto our second reason for calling you in. Sajin, you want to take this one?”
“Due to your actions, illegal as they were, a very dangerous man was captured yesterday,” Sajin said evenly, “These guys here are pretty happy about that, despite what Mr. Grumpy over here is saying-”
“Hey,” Marcus complained. “I’m not grumpy.”
“-you’ve received six different recommendations to apply for U.A,” Sajin smiled, “One of those was me, I’ll admit, one was also his boss. So I know you had your heart set on Shinketsu-”
“Did I?” I said dryly, playing along with the joke.
“-But you’ve got an opportunity here to take the U.A, Recommendation Exams at the end of January,” Sajin rolled over his interjection without stopping. “About a month before the standard exams—so, what do you think?”
I wasn’t even aware that there was such a thing; A Recommendation Exam? Not a recommendation to bypass the exam or to skip over some section of it, but a whole different exam?
“Is the exam substantially different from the standard exam?” I asked, genuinely curious.
Marcus shrugged, but Sajin hummed.
“I think it’s the same sort of structure as the standard one,” Sajin said carelessly, “I’ve heard some other heroes talking about recommending their kids and that the exam usually has an obstacle course of some kind, but that’s all I can remember—it’s up to you buddy.”
Even without knowing anything about it other than it happened a month earlier than the standard exam and most likely had an obstacle course, I was interested.
“I would like to attempt the U.A Recommendation Exam,” I said honestly, “Thank you for recommending me, Uncle-Sajin.”
“Now that we’ve gone and rewarded him for breaking the law,” Marcus laughed; the comment drew a snort from Sajin. “I’ve got some questions to ask you about yesterday, Hisoka. Are you up to answering them?”
I’m a fantasy author from Australia, and if I were to describe my work in a single sentence it would be; Realism contained within an unrealistic backdrop. I aim to put out high-quality, original, long-form written content that will entertain, and engage you. Expect dark themes, characters making costly mistakes, and unreliable narrators.
My standard process starts by releasing draft chapters to my Patreon, and then to everybody else online. Once the story is completed, I convert it into a more conventional eBook. I also routinely go back and revise, edit and enhance my older work as I improve as a writer.
I now have a website that has links to all of my original works to date.