GONICHI MEDICAL LABS, NISHI-WARD, OSAKA; 9:36 AM 12/04/2XXX
Gonichi Medical Labs had seen better days.
“Man, I tell ya, cleanin’ crew sure did a number on this one.” A sunglasses-wearing officer lifted his shades to wink down at his partner, who groaned as he squatted down to inspect a pile of blood and limbs on the floor.
“Get it, cuz’ it was a jani-…”
“Shades,” His bald-headed partner spoke up while using his phone to take a picture of the scene. “I got it. He’s a janitor; caused this fucking mess. I thought I told you to save your puns for open mic night at the comedy club.”
The smile on Shades’s face dropped like a dead fly and he set his glasses back with a frown.
“Just tryin’ to lighten the mood.” He shrugged. “I ain’t seen anythin’ like this in a while. Can’t believe it’s just some janitor who did this.”
Baldy rose up, stowing away his phone into his pockets.
“Neither could he, from what I heard… Yuketsu Hiru, 28, quirk is called Leech. Second year working here, had problems at other jobs due to his quirk – gave him an urge to suck blood, which he could pull through touch.”
“Ugh, nasty.” The two officers walked away from the slaughter and into another room, where other officers were currently inspecting a floor that showed clear signs of having furniture dragged across it.
“He dealt it with by working at medical institutions – cut deals with employers and Gonichi had a ‘blood’ bank for some of their research; they slid him some excess material and, in exchange, he’d take a large pay cut.” Baldy continued, reciting the file contents he’d looked over earlier.
“That ain’t legal, but continue.”
“Of course, that wasn’t enough, he still struggled with the quirk. Co-workers say he was always trying some new fad or drug to ‘control’ it.”
Shades sucked his teeth loudly.
“Ya tellin’ me some idiot foolin’ around with essential oils caused all this?”
“Nah,” Baldy said, shoving his hands into his pockets as he looked at a computer that was smoking; someone had clearly broken it on purpose. “He got himself some Trigger.”
“…He took a drug meant to enhance a quirk that was already hard to control?”
“Not if he was told that it’d help. Civvies don’t know what Trigger really does – they see the ‘monsters’ on the TV but when a plug sells it, they sell greater control, greater power. And, poor son of a bitch, they must have staked out Yuketsu. His dosage was the same ‘transforming’ Trigger that we saw pop up in Tokyo this year – the stuff that makes people’s quirks, their bodies change permanently. They lose their heads during the overdose too, no wonder he killed four people.”
Shades lifted his glasses up again, inspecting the room. His irises and sclera were pitch black.
“They set him up, didn’t they? I can see the traces – three of ‘em, made out with all the shit.”
“Exactly,” Baldy confirmed. “Make sure to get all you see down here. But yeah, that’s what we’re working with now. This wasn’t done by some punks off the street – they scoped him out for a distraction so they could steal Gonichi Lab’s equipment, records, and research. They even had the upgraded Trigger the Tokyo Branch says the ‘Villain Factory’ is responsible for.”
Shades put his hand to his chin, rubbing it as a cheeky smile appeared on his face.
“So, you might say… they’re out to…trigger an epidemic?”
“Get to fucking work Shades.”
OSAKA POLICE HEADQUARTERS; 9:36 AM 12/04/2XXX
“Among the items stolen were several homeostatic incubators… we assume that the Villain Factory intends to create a base in Osaka prefecture and begin releasing transformed Trigger addicts into the streets. Our goal is to make sure that we identify their sources and targets. They used the ‘crab route’ two months ago, if you remember the operation Tokyo’s Detective Tsukauchi ran with Officer Kaniyashiki and Provisionary Officer Toyomitsu…”
“Present!” Monika Kaniyashiki’s vivid red hair stuck out in the plain, generic briefing room of the police department, and her perky way of speaking even more so. Beside her, a massive man in a hoodie and mask sighed.
“Moni, they ain’t askin’ ya if ya here.” There was obvious exasperation in Fat Gum’s voice as he spoke up, and an obvious note of hunger as he tapped on the empty box of takoyaki he’d already gone through since this meeting started.
“Oh, I just wanted to point out that we’re here, you really need to chill out, Fat-ya-”
The bald-headed detective coughed into his hand to stop Monika’s further chattering. “As I was saying, due to the work of two of our officers, we managed to intercept one of their distribution routes. Unfortunately, the ‘Villain Factory’ were able to dismantle it as we found it, and destroyed all our evidence.”
“And almost blew me up,” Fat Gum mumbled bitterly, “Not to mention the whole convention. If I hadn’t been there…”
“And yet, they’re back.” The detective continued, turning to the smart-board behind him. “Obviously they’re expanding into Western Japan, and using Osaka as a way to do it. But as we caught them in the crab route, it’s truly unlikely they’ll be using it again. And their focus is less bringing things in, but stirring up trouble. Which means a different way of finding the source for us.”
Out of the corner of his eyes, Fat could see Monika grin devilishly, excited for the words that were sure to come next.
“We need an operative undercover for this on-…”
Her hand shot up in the air immediately.
“But not you, Kaniyashiki! They are aware of you being an undercover police officer now, and disguising you for such a mission is difficult.”
“Aww…” The young woman huffed out, hand falling down to her desk. “But I’m the best in this precinct, if not this prefecture! Who else can we get?”
The police chief, who’d silently been observing all this time, raised his voice and began speaking. “About that, well, one of our issues is that due to regulations, officers can’t use quirks on duty without massive paperwork and red-tape. Unless they happen to be heroes who are provisionally also police officers.” His eyes slid to Fat Gum.
“If we are to infiltrate this successfully, we need someone who can slip under the radar and yet is approved for quirk-use.”
“Y’wanna use a rookie hero?” There was a clear note of surprise in Fat Gum’s voice – heroes were seldom used for undercover work, they were generally just so flashy. But an unknown rookie…
“How would a hero know how to adapt themselves?” Monika asked, frowning just like her partner. “Even a rookie can endanger us, you know, if they recognize them. Not to mention heroes live for the limelight…no offense, Fat-yan.”
Fat Gum rolled his eyes – if anyone was attention seeking, it was definitely the red-headed detective, but arguing with Monika about her delusions of fame and talent was better suited for outside of meetings.
“Your concerns aren’t unfounded.” Chief answered, tapping a pencil on the desk to draw attention back at him. “Normally, any hero working in this sort of capacity under the police undergoes rigorous training and becomes a provisional officer. However, our ‘bait’ will be a hero recommended to us by the Hero Commission’s president herself – she vouches that several higher ups have seen to the training and preparation of this man. Apparently, he has…mutations very suited for information gathering.”
Fat Gum tilted his head at the mention of ‘mutations’, not ‘quirk’.
“We will go over the operation in greater detail when our new colleague gets here tomorrow, but as for now, Fat Gum will oversee our new hero along with Officer Kaniyashiki. You will help him make contact with the Villain Factory as a buyer interested in buying and taking Trigger. We suspect that our rookie’s quirk will prove too great a temptation for the Factory not to try and kidnap him for their purposes, which will lead us to their base of operations. All others are to provide help for the main operation with research and surveilling, as well as identifying the villains. We meet here tomorrow at zero-ten-hundred with our new recruit. Dismissed.”
The sound of shuffling papers and drawn chairs filled the meeting room. Taishirou stood up too, pushing in the special chair he usually sat in during these meetings, and made to make his way out after the rest of the officers, at least until the Chief stopped him.
“Stay behind, Toyomitsu.”
He turned back to look down at the police chief. “Somethin’ else ya want, Chief?”
The chief’s grey-specked mustache bristled and Taishirou noted how tired he looked. Unsurprising, as the Gonichi killings were just that horrific. Grisly, indiscriminate murders like that rarely happened these days, not for a decade or more at least.
“I want you to keep an eye out on that new kid ‘Hawks’. The Hero commission vouches for him, but there’s something…shady about this kid. No records of him side-kicking, never been to a hero high-school, and yet passed his license course on the first try; came in first and broke records.”
He snorted, leaning against the desks (which groaned under the slightest press of his form). “That ain’t weird. Private tutors, parents who ain’t want their baby patrollin’ until they can get somethin’ outta it. Y’sure he ain’t one of the suits’ in the commission’s kid?”
“Last name doesn’t check out,” The Chief shook his head, and there was a steely look in his grey eyes, something knowing. “No one I recognize, and I know most of the higher ups.”
“So, he’s a mystery. Why?”
“That’s the thing,” The chief said, opening the manila folder he was carrying. A picture of a very young-looking blond man with strange black markings around his eyes stood out amongst the papers there. “If we can get this resolved with an arrest shutting down whatever the V.F. is planning here, this operation will make the news nationally. Obviously, whoever this kid is, the Commission laid their eggs in his basket and this is how they hatch them.”
Taishirou takes the photo from the folder, a noise of surprise leaving his mouth as he looks at it more closely. What looked like a red background initially was actually textured, feathered, even – the kid had wings.
“How old is he?” Taishirou wondered out loud. “This punk ain’t look old enough to finish high school.”
“Just turned 18.”
His wide-mouth gave a grimace in response, pulling tightly across his face.
“So whadda ya want me to do about it?”
“Keep an eye on him,” The chief said as he plucked the photograph from Fat’s hands, stowing it back in the folder. “What Monika said was right – if this some inexperienced kid hoping to ride this case to stardom, we might have our hands full with controlling him and making sure he stays alive. This isn’t a game and if someone messes up, we can lose more lives – including our own. You almost bit it last time, you know the stakes.”
Taishiro’s fist curls up in memory of the panic he felt from the last time he’d crossed paths with the Villain Factory. The chief raised a hand to pat at his arm.
“You’ve been with us for five years, Toyomitsu-kun. You’re not the little punk from the fight rings anymore – you’re one of us. I trust you can take care of this.”
Heroes rarely spoke frankly about the emotional rewards hero work gave but Taishirou felt warmth settle inside of him when his boss gave him a fond, pleased smile. The kind of thing you want to see after a bunch of hard work.
“I copy, Chief.” And maybe there’s a hint of pride the Chief’s face that Taishirou can’t help be grateful for – and so he smiles back, too.
NANIWA-KU; 8:41 AM 13/04/2XXX
Taishirou Toyomitsu, or Fat Gum in costume, was no stranger to looks. Even before his quirk came in, he’d attracted stares. Now, it just came with the job. His costume wasn’t showy because he wasn’t that sort of person, but something about being eight and a half feet made you stick out like a sore thumb.
That said, it’d been a few years since he’d gotten looks like this. An early morning stop detour (chasing down a handbag thief) had brought him to a few blocks he hadn’t been in years.
His old neighborhood.
Place looked like shit, like usual.
There was comfort in that, he supposed. He’d remembered the cracked pavement, the men crowding street corners, quirks used willy-nilly because cops seldom came by to crack down on streets like this. Too dirty, too tainted.
What was new was the way he fit into all that.
Everyone knew he was a cop now, even if he was officially more a hero than a cop. Same team, technically, even if the people around here hated the latter just that much more.
Heated gazes landed on his back as he clutched the woman’s purse and left her with it (the thief having run off for his life/chance to not know what fat absorption felt like). As she waved him off, Taishirou kept his eyes ahead, not meeting the gazes of the men loitering around the corner.
It was only mere blocks away that the hero sighed out loudly.
Some people…places even… they weren’t worth the fight. Nor the worry – he had breakfast to think about before heading to the precinct!
Around thirty minutes later he strolled into the office with a box of his favorite takoyaki, munching while looking for either Kaniyashiki or the Chief. A bright, almost garish shade of red caught his eye immediately and Fat Gum stopped eating for a minute to take the sight in.
Up close, the photo didn’t exactly convey Hawks’s smallness. He was short for his age, even if there was still time to grow, and there was something petite about him either way. Compact. Bird-like. The bright red wings, maybe tinted or yellowing at some of the ends of the primaries, clashed vividly against straw-colored hair that looked like it was halfway to feathers itself. And on that baby-face were striking black-winged, beady amber eyes that darted from door to door.
Those same eyes narrowed the moment they noticed him, accompanied by a wide, all-too-camera ready smile as the young hero made his way over to him.
“Hey, Big guy! Chief here says you’re my superior for this case, right?” And if Fat Gum’s smiles were naturally too wide, Hawks had a smile that was downright synthetic. “Pleased to make your acquaintance – I’m sure I’m in capable hands, because, damn, you look like you take anything thrown at you and throw it back twice as hard!”
Fat Gum had a bad feeling about this kid already.