Their voices were muffled and thin, barely discernible in his state. He slowly opened his eyes, the sharp pain in his wrists and ankles forced him to stiffen his body. He didn’t dare move from where he sat, even breathing was hard with his raw throat. The room is cold, the walls and floors far from his touch while a machine sits beside him. It used to hum when activated, but right now, it was silent.
“Is he really that important?” An unknown voice asked, he sounded somewhat curious and annoyed at the same time.
“Yes!” He almost moved at the voice, heart racing while his words spilled out from somewhere behind the door. “He’s prized, special, I don’t want you anywhere near him.”
“I won’t touch him, but I would like to see.”
“Not right now,” the man says, his voice low and indistinct, “later, when I have everything carefully arranged.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
He closed his eyes again and listened to the voices fade away from him, and all he could think of was that he wanted everything to stop. He didn’t want this, he didn’t want to suffer anymore.
Kunikida sighed as he leaned back against his chair. It was about five, and the rest of the Armed Detective Agency had gone home for the day. He, however, was brought in by Dazai and Fukuzawa about a mission that only concerned them. At the moment, they couldn’t tell anyone else. Dazai had called it delicate work while he ate a bag of chips that did not belong to Ranpo, and Fukuzawa sat with his arms folded, eyes closed, contemplative.
“Why now?” Kunikida asked.
“They’ve only heard about it,” Dazai answered, a smile curving on his lips, “and word spreads.”
Kunikida shook his head. “Not like this, not this time, this was not part of the Port Mafia, or even the government, this is something else.”
“They want us to do this quietly,” Fukuzawa said. “I would’ve declined, we’re a detective agency, not their lapdogs, but right now this isn’t the case.”
“Then what is it?” Kunikida asked, narrowing his eyes at Dazai who was pushing against the table with his feet and balancing the chair legs.
“Ability user,” Dazai said, “there’s rumors a researcher named Shibusawa Tatsuhiko, otherwise known as the Collector, has an ability user that is the antithesis of all other users.”
Kunikida frowned, unsure of what he was expecting from this. “Is that all?”
“We’ve been told of the events of Shibusawa’s previous research that led many to kill themselves, and other considerations, and that if he found another ability user, they could both become a danger. Currently, he’s stationed in Yokohama,” Fukuzawa said. “The reports say he might utilize this special ability user against all the others.”
“That includes us, and the Port Mafia,” Dazai chimed in.
“And that’s why we’re getting involved?” Kunikida asked, glancing between the two, then he let out a sigh. “What are we doing then? Did you find out where Shibusawa is specifically?”
“There are rumors.” Dazai sighed, tossing the crumpled bag of chips at the garbage.
“The Port Mafia have already secured those places,” said Fukuzawa. “There’s no point when they did the dirty work.”
Dazai got up from where he was sitting and brushed off any crumbs that fell on his beige coat. He flicked his eyes to Kunikida and grinned. “We know of some places from a source, and while the Port Mafia deals with the other leads, we can walk right by them without any of them noticing.”
“You’re sure?” Kunikida asked, getting up from the chair.
“I am,” Dazai said, confidently.
Then Fukuzawa stood up, and glanced at each of them. “Retrieve this special ability user, and bring them back.”
Kunikida and Dazai nodded before leaving the room. As he followed Dazai down the steps, Kunikida canceled everything he was meant to do after work in his notebook. He was still curious about this special ability user.
“What do you think about all of this, Dazai?” He came to know Dazai always had a second opinion about everything, and that he was quite organized when he dealt with certain missions. He had shown this skill many times, and Kunikida didn’t mind relying on it when the time comes.
They stepped out of the building and walked toward Kunikida’s car. He unlocked it and they got inside.
Dazai hummed pleasantly when he closed the passenger door. “I think this might all be full of shit, but we don’t know that yet.”
Kunikida sighed, not expecting that from Dazai as the engine came to life. “Why do you think that?” he asked, backing up the car and driving away from the Armed Detective Agency.
“There’s always been rumors of certain types of ability users, and some have claimed they were special, why should this be any different?” Dazai said.
Kunikida nodded. “I agree, it seems strange that this rumor riled people up in the way that it has. I wonder what kind of ability it could be that Shibusawa could consider it special in regards of other abilities.”
“We’ve heard it was an obsession of his,” Dazai said. “For years, he’s been looking for this ability. His research had come upon many other ability users, and apparently the reports on his work were drastic. They were dead when they were found, tortured beyond reason. I’m not even sure what he was trying to do.”
An uncertain feeling overwhelmed Kunikida, but he recognized it for what it was. A slight fear that he might see yet another body, even though he knew this was his job, and he hoped to do it right by locating this ability user. If they took away this man’s obsession, then they could strip him of something to hide behind. Or, if they lose him, he could find himself another user that he could torture. They’d have to try to figure this out, and what they were going to do.
“Is he an ability user?”
“Yes,” Dazai said. “There has been cases of him doing terrible things to a large amount of ability users. Some have to do with mist, but from the clear streets, it seemed this isn’t his intention.”
“And what do you think his intention is?” Kunikida asked.
Dazai smirked, “Well, once we find him, we’ll find out.” He looked forward then directed Kunikida where he was supposed to go.
He parked a block away from one of the buildings they were heading toward. The sun was descending, and the shadows thickened from where they stood across the street from the abandoned three story building.
“Where did you get this intel from anyway?”
“Oh, I might’ve stolen it.”
“A friend of a friend...just kidding,” Dazai said, crossing the street with Kunikida keeping in pace with him. “I managed to overhear a Port Mafia agent speaking out loud. Good thing I was passing by.”
Kunikida glanced at him suspiciously. He was a wildcard. He managed to do things that most wouldn’t be able to do. Another thing that Kunikida, in someway, admired and dismissed. “Sure, you were.”
“I was,” Dazai said, his eyes sparkling innocently.
Kunikida rolled his eyes, and they walked to the side of the building, then to the back where they found a door. Dazai pushed against it until he broke the lock.
“That was pretty loud,” Dazai said, patting his pocket where his gun was.
Kunikida also passed his fingers over his gun inside its holster, including his notebook. From the looks of it, Dazai was expecting a fight with Shibusawa, or the ability user. The building they walked in and separated was truly abandoned. He didn’t hear or see anything suspicious. It seemed homeless people had squatted inside the building at some point, but other than that, there was nothing.
Kunikida walked out, finding Dazai leaned against the building, his expression contemplative and at the same time empty. Was he wrong?
“There’s another place we can check out,” Dazai said, looking up at Kunikida. “It’s not too far away.”
Kunikida nodded and they walked away from the abandoned building. “What do you think the ability is exactly that could be considered special?”
“Unlike anything else if they described it ‘the antithesis’ ,” Dazai said, letting out a sigh. “I’m not even sure what that means, but it’s interesting.”
“And what do you think the Port Mafia wants with this particular person?”
Dazai’s expression dimmed. “Probably to corrupt and groom the ability user.”
“Isn’t that the same thing?”
“In their regard, no.”
Kunikida didn’t really want to think what that was supposed to mean. He was also curious of who this person could be. He wanted to make sure they were okay.
“They’re being tortured,” Dazai stated.
And a chill ran up Kunikida’s spine at the words, the thought, and it worried him, because he knew Dazai was right.
“Is there anything else you can tell me about the researcher?”
“He’s obscure besides his fascination with the ability user.”
“You said he was a collector.”
“He’s called the Collector,” Dazai said, his gaze empty. “I’m not exactly sure what it means for him, but for serial killers, they all have an M.O, this could be his.”
Kunikida sighed, it was getting late, and he hoped they wouldn’t have to look anymore during the night. He knew the Port Mafia practically ruled Yokohama when the sun was down, but if they didn’t find this user, then surely the Port Mafia would get their hands on them by sunrise.