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Sankofa

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Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.

---Chimamanda Adichie

Wall

Closer Look

——

Year 2034: the Japanese government has completed its first motion into the reunification of Japan. The alarmingly massive movements of ghoul affiliates amongst humans is the sole cause of peaceful settlements-major cities and towns-emigrating North of the country. Several ghoul groups, gangs as stated officially by the Commision of Counter Ghoul, have claimed forty percent of the lower South reaches of Japan, and despite the attempts of civil negotiations these ghouls demand the surrender of humanity. The ghoul responded by ravaging the most vulnerable of humankind, those that were unable to flee because of financial instability or imminent danger, until contact between outer settlements ceased entirely.

Perhaps the biggest trial was the relocation of the ghouls hiding within the wards of Tokyo, known as the Ghoul War, for three long years the CCG pushed back the ghoul groups that tirelessly aimed to stop the production of the wall. Any means to keep their link to Tokyo’s wards and eventually where the outermost wall stands, still arguably ghoul territory.

In an effort to deter humanity, the ghouls claimed Southern Japan as the Kingdom of Ghouls, primitive in its selection of one worthy ghoul, he is the One-Eyed Ghoul the King as they call him. As a result the Japanese government has agreed to a lifelong commitment to preserving humankind, and alongside the CCG the government has agreed to fund major developments of new defense systems and CCG technology.

With their lasting partnership the Commission of Counter Ghoul and the Japanese government have secured the perimeter that now separates Northern and Southern Japan. With a whopping distance of 516 kilometers the government of Japan has completed the greatest technological advancement in history. With the establishment of the anti-ghoul wall and six passes running along the former prefectures of Southern Niigata, Jōetsu now sector 608, pass six. The Chūbu region was found to be a blind spot and was fortified with three passes, Central Nagano, Matsumoto , sector 809 pass five, far Southwestern Nagano, Hiraya , sector 820, pass four, and Southern Nagano, Tenryū Village , sector 834, pass three. Finally, Shizuoka, Kawanehon , sector 156, pass two, and Western Shizuoka, Makinohara , sector 199, pass one, humanity’s future is ensured. Travel was possible due to the efforts of RC Inhibitor Trains, with the only restriction of air travel; a law is passed so that air travel was only accessible by CCG authorities and their focus on attacks from ukaku users.

During this period the Japanese government and CCG have coincided to educate society on the impact of ghoulkind. At the country’s capital New Tokyo, sector one, institutions have been designed for the well-being of humans and falls into the jurisdiction of the Commission of Counter Ghoul. At the ripe age of 17, after brief secondary schooling, these young men and women are given two distinct education options: pursuing a career narrowed on humankind or an education directed by the CCG.

Regular school for small businesses, office work, or public services with two principal schools:

Teihou University 5th Ward (Liberal Arts)

Kamii University 20th Ward (More Science based, has some arts)

  • Department of International Studies
    • Foreign Language Studies
      • English
  • Department of Literature
    • Japanese Literature
  • Department of Medicine
    • Internal and General Medicine
  • Department of Pharmacy
    • Pharmaceutical Sciences

This includes Teihou School of Business 19th Ward, Okan University of Visual and Performing Arts 10th Ward, Masubuchi School of Medicine 21st Ward, and Shiritsu School of Engineering and Technology 15th Ward.

Here are the highly acclaimed CCG Schools for careers at nationwide headquarters founded at sector one:

CCG School of BioEngineering 2nd Ward (Science based school for both Ghoul and Bureau Investigators; rank one are core classes)

  • Department of Ghoul Medicine
    • Ghoul Kakuhou Anatomy (R1)
    • Ghoul Health (Ghoul R2)
    • Kagune Cell and DNA Research (R1)
  • Department of Engineering
    • Quinque Development (Bureau R3, Ghoul R2)
    • Q Bullet Production (Bureau R3)
    • Quinque Countermeasures (Where RC suppressants are made; Bureau R4)

CCG School of Enforcement and Investigation 12th Ward (Defense squad/Wall Trooper based school for Ghoul Investigators):

  • Investigative Duty Department
    • Quinque Training (R2 up Ghoul)
    • Basic Law Enforcement (R1 Wall/Ghoul)
    • Psychological Conditioning (R1 Ghoul)
    • Firearm Training (R2 Wall/Ghoul)
    • Ethics and Law (R1 Wall)
    • Vigilante Authority (R2 Wall)
  • Department of Technology
    • Ghoul Profile Network (R2 Ghoul)
    • Foreign Language (R1 Optional)
    • Quadrant Monitoring (R4 Wall)
    • Wall Maintenance (R3 and up; Wall)

CCG School of Public Ghoul Services 22nd Ward (Public services in relation to Ghouls for Bureau Investigators):

  • Department Life Sciences and Arts
    • Ghoul Counsel Relief (therapy for Ghoul attack victims; Bureau R1)
    • History of Ghoulkind (R3 up)
    • External Relations (R2)
  • Department of Public Services (Bureau only)
    • Intervention of Ghoul Encounters (public hotline to Ghoul sightings; R3)
    • Ghoul Prevention (public safety educators; R1)
    • Ghoul Social Awareness (R1)

Start***

At 20 years of age Hide has yet to show the stark changes on himself that his classmates so easily flaunted. His height was average, taller than his aunt which counted in his long journey into dating, but lacking when paired up with actual investigators. He meant to say, compared to everybody around him, that has something going for them Hide felt plain . He didn’t feel any differently than another human trying to make ends meet, even Juuzou Sensei who resembled a child both literally and figuratively had extensive combat and strategic experience. Well, by his aunts standards it’s all about ingenuity and personality which he both has, excluding his blonde hair which has seen better days, and recently an exuberant dull orange from the blond dye mixing with his natural brown. And so Hide has survived four years at the institution with a great sense of humor and dark roots at the top of his head-too lazy to redo the dye-and according to his classmates looking like a sunflower.

His family was small, just him and his aunt Touka, but no less lively and loving than any other. His home was a collaboration of architecture by his aunt and a nameless friend of hers. Compared to the modern Japanese homes or more traditional styles his aunt went all out, she contacted an English company in Gunma that agreed to build so far out, in exchange for a small profit of her coffee imports. His aunt was a great haggler even if she hated business, and in the end got what she wanted. They constructed a two story cottage (three if you counted the attic) home with a cream plaster exterior and white trims, Perhaps what captivated the street children and their mothers were the black steep pitched roofs and stamped concrete driveway, the entrance closed by a mint green double door aluminum gate. The home’s front yard is built up on natural stone retaining walls that curved outward, stone piled one over the other. Above the mound, shrubberies flowed with unknown herbs, and weeds peeped out between the stone crevices. If the mint window shutters and red chimney didn’t grab one’s attention then, the magnificent wisteria tree and potted flowers did. Many people of the neighborhood flocked to his aunts shop to see if they’d win her good graces and sneak a peek inside the Western home.

Everyday, after forcing himself out of bed, he would cut through the arched doorway that outlined the family room and through the kitchen nooks that housed soft seat cushions, and slip out the back door. Even though his attempts at hiding were a bust, and everyone knew who he was, he still tried to find some peace. On his way to school he would take the longer road-of course only after walking several feet away from his waiting aunt-and with the precision of an elephant he leapt into all sorts of homes avoiding the wisps of gossip and determined attention-seekers. Even with all this, he loved his home.

The second floor of the home, two doors down, stretched a straight wooden hall embellished in three layers of warm neutral tones, from the green creaking floorboards, to the dated enamel panels, to the red autumn maple doors. He would sit along the sill, his arms folded for evenings on end to relish the direct rays of light that filtered perfectly from his aunts array of antique windows spanning across the left of the hall. His favorite, built by construction error juts out into a wide niche, a fixed window shaped like u-bow stretched from the floor to the sealing halfway, and was enclosed by a tall arch. About 50 inches, it is just wide enough to spread his legs, and acted as a miniature room made of glass, a secret treasure for thinking and avoiding Hide’s many angsty troubles. Touka too occasionally could be found in the space with a warm two-shot cup of red eye, gaze distant with the illusion of focus on the veil of opaque fog around her on rainy days; per his request she adds on a thick cushion to the floorboard for endless daydreaming and a clashing purple drape, keeping their sanctuary hidden, and with the cutest rabbit print since she denied Hide of ever owning his own rabbit.

Of the doors in the hall his room was easily missed, often confused for the bathroom, his red door was instead obscured away from the transparent view, as a precaution his aunt told him. He chose to never question Touka’s judgement, this included the uncanny resemblance of his room to his aunts, he suspects she devised a duplicate version of her own room for aesthetic purposes-or so she liked to brag on about her superior skills in interior design. Despite his original discontent with the idea, he couldn’t deny how much he enjoyed matching with her and watching how happy their connection made her. Or that his sole windowpane was the perfect escape for his stowaway years to watch his aunt leave for work, or engage his avid nightlife-pretty sure she knew about that one though.

Hide pulled the compact steel container from his bag shut into his pocket, and eventually put aside his inner torment of wanting to bring all of his belongings with him to join his aunt downstairs. Today was the day he would be leaving. The day he crossed the wall.

He sat next to the petite women who stood against the test of time. She prided herself in her youthful appearance. Black hair with the deepest shade of purple cut in a tomboyish bob and short bangs that flared to her brow arguably marked hostility in her nature, but instead radiated the opposite-a peppy cuteness that brought all sort of men into her store-not that she paid them any mind. In this instance she adorned a crisp white peplum that hugged her waist, neck a low v with bunched sleeves above her elbow. Denim cream puff shaped shorts reaching mid thigh peeked from below the white pleat, along with red fishnet stockings, and she wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere without her black strap platform sandals.

The smaller women had a reputation in the neighborhood for her ingenious coffee flavors, and dedication to her life’s work, Cafe Re:’s, duration in the 20th Ward; one established all on her own and carried another importance that Hide didn’t quite understand. If not for a childhood of greeting the locals and integration of the community into his family he might have argued otherwise.

His eyes trace the outlines of the bookshelf in the corner as he resisted the urge to smuggle a book or too with him. He jumps slightly when a fist shoved too quickly at his face. A string wrapped around her hand opens and out drops a little charm. He takes it into his own.

The small beaten pouch another one of Touka’s concoctions, and Hide resists grumbling about how his errand boy days were over and how he loathed coffee. Yeah, he said it, he loves his coffee when its sweet , nine caramels and 7 sugars, but apparently that was too much sugar, so if he couldn’t get a compromise he just wouldn’t drink it at all. And, for the record, why don’t you try avoiding coffee when you live with a coffee maniac. If only to be polite he poised some curiosity.

“What’s this?” He lifted it up to his nose and was bombarded with a thick bitterness and unknown mixture, Hide groaned at the smell.

Brown teary eyes lit up, “Isn’t this perfume and...Coffee? I don’t think I’ve ever smelled this one before, is it new?” He pressed the fabric in between his fingers, and no surprise there were in fact several coffee beans inside.

“Idiot! It’s not a sample!”

“Then what is it?”

The elder coughed and hid the faint blush behind her fist, “It’s an omamori, we’ve never really been apart from one another, but this is your first ‘official’ mission and a long one. There’s no telling when you come back so…”

“Just because you’re an ‘adult’ now doesn’t mean you can’t tell me things.” She included with air quotes.

He sighed, he knew where this was going, Touka always tried talking him out of anything she deemed dangerous, “I know auntie, and I’m grateful you took me in when my other relatives didn’t.” Her hand moved to grasp his own, their knees now touching. She prayed to the gods that her nieces inner terror would come out and convince him to stay.

“You mean too much to me and to everyone Hide, never forget that.”

Her face twisted in the way one does when they want to say more, but were unsure how. She had a habit of doing that whenever he mentioned their family, but no matter how many times he brings it up, she clams up. He didn’t understand the connection. What did she mean?

Then the pain faded, gone from her face, while her voice rose an octave, “And another thing, how are your visions. You’re not seeing anything strange anymore? And your—”

“Okay, okay!” He has to do something before she got out of hand. Touka became so paranoid when his health was involved.

“No auntie I’m not seeing anything anymore, and I already promised you that if I did I would tell you. I’m taking my medicine and in fact Doctor Ao has even shortened my dosage, apparently one capsule a day is all I need now. Okay?” He grinned at her cheekily, he couldn’t exactly stop Touka from having her way with him, but he could reduce some of her argument.

“Come here you—!” She yanked him from the back of his hair to her lap, four legs kicking at her very expensive coffee table and nearly knocking over the handmade vase Hide gifted to her on Mother’s Day.

All to ruffle his head she would strike at arbitrary of times, and often scare away any solid friends he made in the process, “Itai! Ouch, I’m sorry, okay—I give, agh, please!!” Her grip agonizingly slow plucked three strands of his hair.

Haa? Give! Give what Hideyoshi?” He swore he could see horns at the top of her head.

“Oh merciful, wise, and graceful Touka, might you please loosen your hold?” Hide blows air kisses for affect.

She snorts but gives into his request, “Anytime dork.” Her dork.

Elbows pushed back on the white leather she breathes deeply, “It feels like it was just yesterday we were going to the park together, and you were accepted into junior high.”

She sniffles and Hide smiles, “You should save the crying for the ceremony.” He laughs when she rubs at her eyes, the eyeliner she wore trailing down her cheek.

“Crying? I’m not crying, I have no idea what you’re talking about. In any case, you have final rehearsal, go on. I’ll be getting ready.”

She kissed both of his cheeks and waved him out, “Don’t forget to pack a bag for your trip!” She yelled from within the bathroom.

He groaned and shook his head, “Touka this isn’t a field trip, the lead investigator is the one who gives me my supplies!”

“Yeah, sure!” She cries. He chuckles closing the door and waiting for it’s automatic click, lock in place, but not before watching from the window as the purple haired women reapplied her makeup.

—-

He boards the next train leaving for the 11th Ward just as the doors seal shut behind him. The train is rigged on an electric platform. The tunnel walls are enclosed by a clear plastic framework placed between the boarding line, while another set of doors enclosed over the train’s doors to prevent any traffic stallers and future accidents.

He sits at his right, arm slung over the steely handrail, and facing the window anxiously. He normally walked to school, or had Touka drive him, but he needed to arrive early and that meant taking the train. It was an hour, from his home in 20th Ward to the 11th, but the advancements to the subway cut his travel time to 25 minutes between both stops. His problem was the 2 hour ride to get to the 2nd Pass, which meant he wouldn’t be able to linger after the ceremony and stay out with his friends, this wouldn’t bother him so much if he wasn’t going to see them again after 3 months.

The trains were as high tech as you could get and top of market value now. Before, when according to Touka there were a congestion of people in the subway, no one liked to ride them. With the remodeling everyone enjoyed taking the train, so much that only laborers drove cars, and hardly anyone owned their own. If he could only bring his iPod. He didn't care how outdated it was, less energy switching songs, and no need to waste his money buying songs. At least, if he had his headphones he could pass the time listening to music and arrive mentally faster to his destination.

He inhaled sharply, mouth stretched wide and melting away the tightness on his face. He rolled his head slowly in a circle, neck popping, and stopped to watch a woman and a toddler, at best, side by side, that sat across from him. The toddler held an ironclad grip over their mother's sleeve and occasionally met his gaze, beady eyes moved at every rare bump along the way.

They whispered, “Mommy, what if a ghoul comes and gets me?”

The women laughed and stroked their hand, “Don’t be scared honey, you see those big white machines near the doors?” The child nods and stared confusedly, likewise Hide follows her gaze to the two white gates, merged together on either end of seats closest to the doors. “Well dear, those are called RC Scan gates, basically they’re big ghoul detectors.”

Unlike the arches normally seen on metal detectors in government buildings or those rare elitist schools, these gates were weapons hidden well so that the public was only informed of the machines capability to trace RC cells in the body. These machines were familiar to an investigator, an addition to CCG’s article 119*, and readily located within each CCG Headquarters. Given his position he was granted more information underneath the guise of a state-of-the-art alarm, a benefit for those who lived inside the wall. That those gates sent more than alerts to the local police at each station. Equipped on each board were five-thousand tranquilizers, five fired as mandated, and the rest accessed in extremely versatile situations. The ten 360-degree focal lens were embedded on the boards front and back. Five liter canisters of transparent gas were in each upper compartment and ready to immobilize a ghouls strength for an hour. If that didn't stop them then, the train would detach and isolate them with the remaining tranquilizers until a level 3 investigator was sent for their recovery. What frightened him the most was the RC target plates location, rather than being inside the detectors themselves, the entire train had been decked in powerful tracers.  These tracers could locate ones very fingertip, millimeters inside the doors before the ghoul even boarded the train. A fearsome upgrade indeed. The rest was history.

“What’s a detector?”

“It's a fancy word for finding things. If a big bad ghoul ever shows up the scanners will make a noise and the police will stop them!”

The child squealed at the explanation, that the bad people would be stopped, and that those people could never hurt them. Thankfully his stop had arrived and he sideswipes out the doors and walked as far away as he could from the station. He only stopped to catch his breath and visibly relax once he was on his campus grounds and slipped on his white coat. There was always something uneasy about riding the train, not that he should care, he wasn’t a ghoul after all.


The ceremony took place at Tamagawadai, “ the resting place of the emperors ” as his colleagues put it, only offered to CCG graduates and brimming with dreamy blue pastel hydrangeas that replaced the tiny spring sakura bulbs. The ceremony was lavish in scholarly commentary made by former alumni, and the catering provided on site. The students were given a number of reserved seating for the evening venue where they would get ridiculously drunk before finally start their adult lives. Parents and faculty gathered together for group photos, after convincing Touka that fifty pictures was enough documentation of the day, and leaving his aunt to her own dealings with several lovestruck confessions of her students to sit on a lone bench. The day was partially clear, numerous clouds insisted on blocking the sun's light from the lower pathways, but still allowed for some fading in the distance. The gentlest of breezes caressed the flowering trees and showered their essence in a swift torrent, so much so that many of the white garbed students raised their collars to hide their weeping eyes, and others flung their arms erratically to throw off the petals magnetism. His own head was crowned in a wreath of blue, sunlight seeped behind him as the foliage's rustling tore through the flowers’s minuscule clearings. His back encompassed the shadows of six leaves, three on each flank, that drove a deepened awareness to the surrounding, and gave a lustrous impression of spotted wings with the rivers gleaming waters and cityscape horizon as his backdrop.

Hide sighed as his peace is whisked away from by a tall brunette and redhead that sit on either side of his bench.

“Damn Nagachika I still can’t believe Touka Sensei is your aunt.” The taller of the duo and clearly more verbal investigator dramatically jibes. Takamura was his double as the class clown, his fiery personality often inspiring to those who knew him. He, along with Naoki, were two among dozens of nameless faces Hide could refer to as loyal and trustworthy friends.

“Yeah! I would’ve tapped that! Just kidding!” The shorter redhead exasperates with a breathless wheeze moving in a fast shuffle of feet around the brunette as if in familiar territory and easily wrapped his arm around Takamura.

Compared to them Naoki was one of a kind in their Ghoul Profiling class, but a long ways off from the lengthy endurance required for this profession. Or as Naoki says it, who needs to see a ghoul to prevent the threat itself, humanity could be just as resourceful without brutish force.

“Actually I wouldn’t do it—she’s into Ghoul Anatomy remember? She’d slice and dice me, and feed me to the ghouls!” Naoki huffed, freckles darkening in his aggrandizing of just how monstrous her class was.

“You’re going over to Special Class Investigator Mado’s right? You poor sap Nagachika. That lady is a demon!” Ever the dramatic, Naoki hurriedly pulled Takamura closer.

“Yeah! It’s hard to believe she’s our department rep. but I can’t say I’m surprised I mean look at the sleeping sunflower, awarded First Class Investigator before 31!” Takamura said, his hands naturally molding over the arms around him.

Oh yes Hide notoriously slept through his classes to endure remedial lessons which, luckily,  gave him more one on one with his teachers, and fly through the materials. Yes, a promising but lazy student.

“Unbelievable right? Wait—hey!” It wasn’t his fault that his classes were scheduled so darn early, or that he lacked any caffeinated substance to keep him up. Or that his friends were no good at alerting him of the passing time between lectures.

“At least it’s not Special Class Investigator Juuzou, I heard he has a mission coming up soon outside the wall.” Takamura mutters with restless eyes that peered at the neighboring buildings and corner.

“Speaking of which...I haven’t seen your boy toy today, isn’t he usually slinking behind you?” Naoki jibed with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

“For the last time, he’s not my boyfriend.”   The person in question brought a shiver to his spine, the white haired student’s smug face, at their last chance encounter begrudgingly entered his mind. Of all the people they had to bring up, Amaya , was not one of them. The haughty investigator was the thorn in his side from the minute they both met in junior high.

Yeah, and Takamura totally doesn't ride me?”

He tsked, face suddenly hot, leave it to Naoki to bring his sex life into the mix, even if no one ever believed his dominant role in their relationship, “He has you beat Hideyoshi.” He wonders who’s worse, Naoki for admitting it, or Takamura for agreeing with him shamelessly.

“Just because I haven’t reported him doesn’t mean I’m okay with his molesting! Besides I can handle him if he gets out of line.” The guy just didn’t seem to know the concept of personal space, and it's only him, he’s the one who always get the brunt of it! Amaya was phlegmatic and generally unapproachable, but whenever they saw each other he would stop at no ends to make Hide’s life impossible.

Whistle~“Too bad Nagachika I hear the ghouls behind the wall are feral. You don’t stand a chance! Might as well appoint him to be your knight!”

“Can you imagine that, a sunflower against a ghoul’s kagune?” They looked at each other and laughed.

“Sunflower power!” The two rank three ghoul investigators chanted and chattered on a further ways from his side. Clearly too engaged in their conversation to actually take note of his retreating presence. Or his missing award in Touka’s hand, his ceremony separate from their own.

——

Hide stepped out of the train platform with a wave of his coat lapels and walked to the senior investigator docked at the platform behind a security fence. Any train leading directly into the six passes was restricted to civilians and only accessible through level three and four investigators. He boarded the four-wheeler parked at the exit and began whatever light conversation he could get from the other man, which if he were lucky, would be more than a couple of grunts, and some actual alleviation from his nervousness. If only the man didn’t look so angry, he sighed, this was going to be another long ride.

_______

Even in her forties the cool headed blonde investigator held a stoic suave that her comrades wished they had. In her blue eyes reflected all her triumphs and downfalls, a sort of fearless pride that she could play in any situation. Akira Mado the Iron Maiden, investigators call her. Though to him, she’s Akira-san his superior and friend.

She stood patiently beside the lofty inner blast ton doors that opened into lit passageways, each split into several dozen other tunnels that were still connected to entrances scattered somewhere into Southern Japan. Dark polished heels gleamed in the sun, long legs accentuated by a black hose that peeked from the top of her opening on her heel. Slim body molded to curve by a form fitted midnight blue suit, but still showing her trademark muscle defined by endless days of training. Unlike other investigators the woman notoriously refused to dress in anything associated to white, and instead traded for her own version of a dark blue coat. Akira flips her only symbol of age, one long strip of grey hair pulled out as a fringe. She found it remarkable that her students considered it a lovely highlight.

“Yo, Akira-san!” He brisked through the checkpoint with ease, his face presperated and brows pinched together. Hide walked as fast as he could from his apparent awkward exchange.

An ongoing interrogation in order to prove he was himself, and in fact certified to be on the premises. He all but begs for the superiors presence from his near tearful display of credentials. To which the guard bashfully admitted as a mistake of identifying novices caught trying to leave the grid; the youths who did not pass their training but wanted to prove themselves outside of the wall. The woman smiled for a minuscule second, before it morphed as a grimace.

“Nagachika there’s no turning back now, this is your last chance to bail out. There is no shame is saying no to this, not even professional investigators would take this case. I have influence now, I can sway their decision.” The pained look in her eyes did not go unnoticed by him.

Hide was left to settle the nagging feeling in the back of his mind that both his aunt and now mentor’s concern stemmed from elsewhere, and not the commonly stressed worry among family.

He scratched at his head, “Thank you Akira-san, but really it’s all good. I’m just glad for the change in scenery.” And laughs dodging a lethal smack to his arm.

“You don’t need to act tough. I’m serious Hideyoshi.” The elder frowned, arm at her hip.

Hide flinched, yikes, Akira never addressed him by his first name, especially not in this formal atmosphere. She was dead serious, but he used his perks of her tutelage, her iron determination, and now, he bore her stance.

“I’m nervous to tell you the truth, because it’s my first mission out, I’m conditionally inclined to feel this way, being in here all my life. But you know what? If I said no to everything I felt nervous about, then I wouldn’t have chosen this career, or have friends.” He grinned and brought an equally doubtless smile to the elder.

She tugged the boy under her arm not caring how the stationed soldiers watched. Her embrace less cruel than the suffocating headlock of Touka. She released him and shrugged, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you, come on.”

He is dragged underneath a wide granite arch that descended into the earth, and into New Tokyo’s infamous 24th Ward labyrinth, tailored for CCG usage with blinding white lights similar to that of a soccer field and array of active wires strung along its tiled sides. She releases him with a firm push on his back and he nearly falls over if not for the built in stone railing. He avoids a lethal spiral down a near endless chain of steps only to be tormented with a foul plunge into decontaminated but still fermented water. Halfway down the steps he asks,

“Do we even know where the King is? Maybe we can learn something akin to his defenses?” No one even knew how he looked like, how do they expect him to find anything substantial about a fundamentally enigmatic nobody?

His brown eyes drifted to the resound tap of her feet. It was a miracle the women could trek down the steps in seven-inch heels without checking at her footing.

Akira scoffs, almost offended by the reasonable question. “Don’t be stupid Nagachika, if we had that information we wouldn’t be standing here! Listen, all we know is that the King is somewhere near central. Even if we did get that far there’s no telling if you’d survive. This is risky reconnaissance, but you came highly recommended.” By yours truly she pointed.

“Your only mission is to infiltrate the kingdom and gather intel, albeit any information on the King will fly with the higher ups. However your goal is a weakness.” At the foot of the steps she taps in a twelve digit code too fast to take any note of, and triggers a small whirring sound that causes another set of heavy blast doors to slide open.

“When you get anything substantial report in and I’ll have an escort waiting for you in the tunnels.Don’t screw this up.”

On the other side is another brightly lit path guarded by more CCG personnel, only instead of the pristine look of the descending steps, these tunnels appeared much older as though it where an excavation sight. Wide steel crowbars caged the murky deteriorated shaft and propped the tunnel perimeter centering the topside of the earth.

“Oh, and for Touka’s sake, don’t make things harder for yourself, you’ve been granted an encoded channel to contact her as you please. I recommend doing this sparingly as to not attract any more attention. Don’t do anything unnecessary , and focus on your assignment. Good luck.”

Hide steps into the threshold with a quick breath and his brown eyes sharp as the doors creak back shut. Akira Mado’s warm face tightened, just as his aunts had, and was replaced by concrete.

He forces himself to not look back, but ultimately shifted slightly to a hand fast onto his shoulder, a CCG garbed in protocol attire of white trench coat and suit observed him. “Nagachika Hideyoshi.”

Hide, despite his rank, gave a mock salute in respect, “Yes, sir!”

The man blinked at him sluggishly, either too tired to care from the lack of sunlight, or overwhelmed by his work from the dark circles in his eyes and overgrown stubble. He nodded, “ Right ...Follow me.”

He is led further down into the old sewer system quarantined after the war, and into a smooth even quay that warped around a transport lift. Or as he liked to put at an electric wagon, he wobbled to seat himself, similar to the instability of a canoe, just before the man pulled on a lever and throttled them deep into the caves.

Murky stained walls zoom by and he has to wonder how long a regular investigator or soldier for that matter lasted underground.

A few minutes later and the metal casing of the wagon moves to a smooth stop. The door is swung open by another set of guards, and his guide is the first out already showing the positioned guard his badge. He couldn’t help but stare in awe of how many soldiers he could pinpoint in the vicinity, it was like a hive, each section tasked with its own function, but somehow utilizing one another in a uniform fashion in such a tight level of security. Compared to HQ this place was brimming with action.

His head snapped back when the man began walking. He trails blindly behind the investigator who led him to a medical bay. The man yanks the curtains forward as he is passed rugged clothing seen only on footage of war prisoners.

Strewn across the table were thin loose fitted cotton olive pants too large for him that flared at his calves, more than out of fashion, but he reminded himself that any high quality resources behind the Wall were hard to come across, tied up mid waist by a sewn in sash replacing a belt. Hide strapped on a pair of flat leather boots and folded the pant hem to his ankles, not as durable as the combat boots the troopers wore, but enough for him to blend in. He is handed two small firearms and multiple casings of Q bullets, both neatly secured by a vintage double shoulder holster placed over his fitted black T-shirt. Lastly he slipped on a large hooded block drawstring jacket distinctive with its green, yellow, and red colors that he found draped on a stretcher.

The curtains are yanked back and he is given a glance down by the investigator that wasted no time and shoved a heavy green rucksack in his arms.

“Those are your supplies, food, water, and a tent. That’s it.” He tosses two compact waistline packs which Hide catches easily.

“Keep your weapons concealed at all times, money close, and do not disclose the location of your quinque.”

The man signaled for a group of men perched onto upper steel rafters. The same buzzing heard in the first tunnel, he decided, sounded better to that of the machine grinding of the second doorway.

A 5 foot thick granite door measured the same height from the tunnel ceiling to floor, ten soldiers zipped down from the rafters. He watches as the men embed six thick iron rods and only then do they return signal. The 200 ton door unseals automatically and a gale of hot air vented inside. From the investigator’s impassive faces he assumed that the doors were opened recently, it is here that he realizes that there was nothing separating him from the outside. He could just barely make out 300 feet within the dimly lit corridor, his superior stepped down the threshold and Hide took his cue to follow.

Both men are leveled under the caverns natural arch that extended further down into a deeper cast of old era metal framework and chasm. Their act apparently acquired the attention of all of the tunnel staff by the thick silence that followed. His guide was met by four guards positioned at its entry, as, according to Akira, four investigators rotated at the outer wall every other week.

His head swivels back in confusion as the investigator and securities suddenly halt, a measly three steps in. “You are now standing below pass one. You are to keep going. As you arrive at the clearance point, access to the tunnels will be shut off.”

“I wasn’t informed this would be a solo assignment—-“ He wets his lips anxiously, protocol required new investigators, no matter the rank, to be accompanied by another investigator--his confidence undoubtedly slimming.

“Your partner will join you in due time. Outside we’ve hidden a bicycle for your disposal, I suppose you don’t need to recall the oath.”

“No sir,“ he coughs, “in life or in death, information on the Wall is not to be leaked.”

The wall roars shut and the lights flickered on preceded by loud shutters, at his left hand side was another wagon, only, this one was unmanned and he was alone..

——

Chapter 1: Xenization [End]

A/N: So….Too much?? Tell me, what classes would you take? I will try to add images of their clothing!!

*Ghoul Countermeasure article 119: concealing and harboring a ghoul, this includes the knowledge of, or pertaining to another, is punishable by law.