The case had started normal. Boring, even.
They were called by a rich art merchant that wanted the famous detective Katsuragi Yako (and her loyal assistant) to prove that a very rare Picasso on his possession was not fake, as his buyers were claiming.
Why would they want a detective for that, you ask? Well, it seems that this painting was robbed a few years back and the case was never closed, so the rich dude only wanted them to give their honest opinion about crime solving, and say that the one he bought had a very high probability to be the real thing.
Not that Neuro cared for any that, Yako was sure, so it came as a big surprise when he agreed to take this case.
“It has the clear scent of a mystery,” he had said with a slight frown.
Maybe she should have listened to her instincts then and refuse to take the case. Once again, it wasn’t as if Neuro cared is she wanted to go or not; but maybe she would have been more alert and awake through the whole process of being used as a hostage.
Because right now she was tied to a lamp and looking at her assistant, tears in her eyes as he was being held at gunpoint by a man twice his size dressed in black.
They came fast and swiftly to steal the painting from the rich merchant, and they would have done it without having to kill anybody if she wasn’t right there to make things more complicated. She realized too late that the house was compromised and someone cut the lights before she could tell anybody of her suspicions. She lost Neuro on the confusion that followed, too scared when the guns started to be used, and hid under a desk next to the exit of the room they were in.
She tried to escape but someone grabbed her hair and pulled her far from her salvation. When she looked up all she could see with her pain-blurred vision was a gun pointed at her.
Am I going to die here? She thought. This was not the first time she found herself in a dangerous situation. After all, she had been doing these jobs with Neuro since high school. But this time there were witnesses and innocent people, and Neuro could not summon a Tool to save the day without compromising his stay on Earth.
They were what you call screwed.
“Someone moves and the woman is dead!” one man dressed all in black said, the one that was pointing at her head with a gun. Everyone knew it was not an empty threat— they had killed someone already. Specifically her contractor, who was getting cold in his own pool of blood right next to her.
She turned her scared eyes to her assistant, trying to maintain the serene face despite the horror she was living then. What she saw was a dangerous shine she knew very well, the one he had when someone was going to die painfully . He wasn’t looking at her specifically, but searching around the room for something to help their escape. He must have a plan. He always had.
“Where’s the painting!” another robber said, this time to one of the associates of the rich merchant (now deceased). From what she could gather, these people heard about the rare Picasso and wanted to get it while the man was distracted with the detective. It wasn’t her fault that what was on display was a copy and the real thing was heavily guarded in a vault somewhere in the house.
Not that she cared, but it infuriated the men in black. Basically they killed the merchant because of-
Her thoughts were interrupted when something in the room exploded and a big smoke cloud started to gather in the closed room. For a brief moment she feared for her life, but the deep, smooth voice of her demon eased all her fears in a second.
“Go. Run, Yako. Don’t look back, don’t wait for me, don’t come looking for me. Just run.”
Not that she needed to be told twice. She felt her hands be freed and without wasting any precious second she run for her life to the door, then she ran downstairs and right through the front door she remembered from when her contractor gave them a little tour. She stopped when she felt somewhat safer on the street outside the mansion, her breathing accelerated and her heart going at full speed. She had to exercise a bit more, she noted.
“Nice sprint,” his voice sounded somewhere behind her and there he was, sitting on the wall with his face very close to her own, an amused smile on his lips that barely showed the pointy teeth.
“Thanks.” She said giving one quick glance to the house.
“I didn’t kill them,” he said, reading her thoughts. “The Tool I used only left them disoriented for a while but, unfortunately, not dead.”
Unfortunately , she sighed as she reached for her phone on her pocket. It was time to call the police.
“No mystery today, then?” she tentatively asked, not sure if he was angry about it or not.
“Fear not, slug, for my lunch is still very available,” he took her head with one of his hands and squeezed, a big smile still on his lips. The pressure was something she was sadly used to, so she still could speak normally when the woman on the other side of the line answered to get her request.
It was when she had just finished explaining who she was and what was the situation, that a scream was heard in a nearby house. Neuro’s bangs immediately activated and his triangular beads pointed to the house right next to her, where the scream surely came from.
Yako sighed. She was too tired for this.
“Please, send two more patrol cars. It seems there has been another incident.” She ended the call before she would be further questioned and waited for the familiar siren sounds of her friends, the police.
One look to Neuro told her what she really needed to know. He was so excited that it only meant the case was one of those complex ones where things go down pretty ugly.
Nope, she was not in the mood for this.