The simple fact of the matter was that, at Mystryal Academy, life was simple. Wake up, go to class, learn stuff, go to bed; Rinse, Lather, Repeat. Sure, you’d get more and more actual case work as the years dragged on, but by and large the schedule was kept the same, now only modified.

Wake up, check phone for class and/or case work, go to destination, do stuff, go to bed; rinse, lather, and repeat. For Tyler Obonz, this schedule fell roughly into the exact same pace regardless of what he was officially doing. Why? Because every day he was doing what he loved to do:

Take apart a dead body and find out what made its heart stop. Or the lungs? Or was it the kidney that did mister John Doe in this time? What about that dreadful liver?

The honest and simple fact of the matter was that, as much as he verbally protested his nickname of “Bones” or “Bonsey”- or anything corpse related for that matter- Tyler Obonz actually liked doing his job.

It’s just that sometimes his job required him to do things that… were NOT quite what he’d trained to do. Things like creating a new binding circle, or jumping out a window. Or, in this case…

Finding the stone cold bitch who made a dear friend cry, and the man who brought her here. Find them, and make them pay.

With the body excavation being the only thing left to do at the moment, Ayako and Mayoi had retreated to a private spot beneath a tree to talk about family matters. Family matters that Ayako had already alluded to while Mayoi was getting the dream story from Kua.

“There’s not much I can do right now,” Tyler began as stood up to stretch his legs. “Plus, my back’s getting sore from leaning over so much. I told you I hated field work. So I’m going to go kill someone now to blow off some steam.” He said it loudly, sarcastically; masking his true intent. This was a skill he’d learned early on in life, well before even becoming a student at the Academy, back when his life was subject to the whims of others. His family that did not understand him. His former classmates who wanted to pick his brain about an upcoming test. Sarcasm let him speak his mind without letting people think he was being serious.

“Hah!” Mayoi laughed at what she assumed was a joke, “All right! Sure thing! Just make sure to turn yourself in afterwards!”

“Oh, I’ll head straight to Jail, don’t even bother trying to arrest me,” Tyler shot back with a candid laugh as he went to leave. He was one hundred percent serious about that one, after all.

The walk back from the jungle into Tategami Wyoh was short, but the walk to the Town Guard’s Jail building was a bit further of a walk, one which went a lot further out of Tyler’s way than necessary. During that time, he turned his jacket inside out to hide the Mystryal identifications .

It was a walk that took him straight through the Merchant District’s boat yard. A quick check lead Tyler to the boat that Rhutowski owned, and there, reading off of some spread sheet about the stock supply of emergency flare guns, was an Undine girl who looked the part of a secretary. Conveniently, she seemed to be counting the contents of the small crate next to her, and and was comparing that number the one on the spread sheet.

“Excuse me?” Tyler asked the Undine girl, interrupting her thought process for a critical moment and forcing her to focus on his question instead. He stepped up close and leaned over the front of the flare box, taking up as much space as he could. “I’m looking for someone named Rhutowski?”

“Oh, um, er… Mister Rhutowski’s not here at the moment, can I take a message?” The girl asked, completely frazzled from having to switch from counting stock to answering a question. An easy distraction.

“No need, I’ll come back later and try again,” Tyler shook his head, and with that, continued on his way without even leaving a name.

Oh, sure, word would get back that a Dragon boy was looking for the slimy snake, but since Tyler had turned his jacket inside out for this particular encounter, Rhutowski wouldn’t know what was coming for him until it was too late.

And so before Tyler turned his jacket right side around again, he slipped a flare gun into what was normally an inside pocket, but was presently an outside pocket.

Tyler had been joking initially about killing someone if he had to do something not a part of his usual job description, but in this case, the series of events that made Ayako upset… it just made his scales itch for vengeance.

Tyler had first met Ayako Mayoi during his first year at Mystryal, when Detective Kana Mayoi had called him in for an intern run. She was pairing him with her currently graduating team, whose coroner had already been scooped up by another Detective team, much to everyone’s annoyance.

They’d met at Detective Mayoi’s apartment for a pre-case meeting, and Ayako had been a sheer bundle of energy then. Too much like her adoptive mother (and what other possibility was there? A Dragon birthing a Werewolf? Impossible.) for her own good, and being incredibly persuasive at wriggling those first bonds of friendship deep into his heart.

Tyler Obonz had not worked with those graduating detectives after that first case, nor had he even heard of them again since. It wouldn’t be until the next year that Mikari Yuki even joined Mystryal and became a permanent part of his life. Until then, he would keep meeting new people, trading partners and teams under Mayoi’s watchful eyes until something clicked and they had a working team. Still, during that time, one constant in his life was Kana Mayoi, her partner Ranagi Kaie, and their daughters, both of whom wanted to become detectives as well.

Kendal wasn’t going to get her wish while she was ‘sick’- and that was all he’d know up until Yuki actually joined their team- but Ayako was going to join as soon as she was old enough to.

Maybe it was because she was really going become a detective that had made him take on a stronger interest in getting to know her over Kendal. Or maybe it was something else that Tyler really didn’t quite understand; but somehow, he’d come to view the young Lycan girl as a little sister, or maybe even a younger cousin.

It was a really strange sensation. He was the youngest of his family back home, and yet everyone older than him still wanted him to do something for them. It had made him feel bitter towards the very idea of ‘family,’ and yet… Here he was time and time again being looked up to as someone important, rather than someone to be used.

And all things considered, it had really been that one little Lycan girl who had made him start to actually like those blasted nicknames. He never snapped at her even once.

And so here he was, standing in front of Caria Calvert- formerly Mayoi- wondering how someone so cruel could have spawned people so nice. The cells were still muted for the moment, and he took the opportunity to observe first before pressing the button to un-mute them. After doing such, he still remained silent, and waited to see if she blinked first…. and she Did.

“What? Are you just going to stand there staring at me or something?” Caria sneered at him. “Pft, Mystryal trash,” and then she scoffed. “Is it any surprise that their brainwashing broke your mind?”

Oh, how Tyler wished he could take a scalpel and throw it between the bars at that woman’s repulsive voice box. But no. Leave her be for now. Justice will come to her eventually.

“My name is Bones,” He introduced himself, for once grateful for the nickname giving him an out to not reveal his real name in front of people so mean. “I’m the one exhuming the body that was discovered this morning.”

This caught Kinzy Hoss by surprise, and while he hadn’t said much of anything, seemed to perk up at that. If anything, Tyler noticed that the older man’s attention was now firmly focused on him.

“So why are you glaring at me then?” Caria dug for information. “I haven’t done anything to you.”

“I’m here because you’ve interrupted my work,” Tyler said it simply coldly, as a matter of fact. “You see, I find it impossible to focus after learning that someone on my team has become emotionally unstable, especially after hearing their grandmother calling them a-”

“THAT MUTT IS NOT MY GRANDDAUGHTER!” Caria raged, trying to reach through the cell bars for Tyler’s neck, and failing thanks to the anti-penetration wards on the bars.

Tyler did not so much as flinch as the older dragon then began to spit out vitriol and hate at him. These were words so mean that not even a dedicated “Hate Speech/Word” Dictionary, if such a thing existed, would find them suitable for printing in any way shape or form. No, and not even any “Cursing” Dictionaries either could find it fit for print.

Kinzy Hoss, for his credit, actually seemed taken back to some degree by the sheer amount of verbal garbage flowing out of Caria’s mouth at that moment. And how it flowed, indeed. It could have been poetic, if not so vulgar and insulting to everyone’s intelligence.

“Now see,” Tyler began once Caria began to pant for breath, “this is why I’m here.” He leaned in, towards the cell bars, and glared, “You’ve made my friend cry. This is an entirely unacceptable interruption to the job that I’ve got to do.” He glanced sidelong at Kinzy Hoss, and added, “Those tree roots were quite vicious at digging into the body cavities. I do wonder what was used to make them grow like that, but it’s not my place to figure out that sort of thing.” Then, refocusing on Caria, he said, “I’ve had too many interruptions this last month. I’m very likely to kill someone because of it, quite honestly.”

“Go right ahead-” Caria sneered at him, “You’ll be sitting right where I am if you do.”

“Oh, no, that’s entirely impossible,” Tyler smirked. “Because, see? Here’s the thing…” He leaned in closer, and then whispered. “I’m not going to kill you.” And then he took a step back and concluded, “See, If I kill someone? I’m going to kill the messenger.”

Caria’s eyes widened at the implications of that sentence. “You wouldn’t touch him!”

“He brought misfortune on me and mine,” Tyler replied. “Just watch me.” And with that, Tyler Obonz turned to leave the room.

Before he managed to get far, however, Kinzy called out, “WAIT!”

“Yes?” Tyler asked, pausing mid step.

“I’d like to transfer to another cell block, please,” Kinzy requested.

“Well,” Tyler, back turned to that jail cell, smirked unseen. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Jonathan Rhutowski frowned as he hung up his phone. No lawyer worth his degree wanted to work with someone who had been arrested by Mystryal Twice for interfeering with murder investigations. They were the smart ones, the Lamia’s mind whispered conspiratorially. Those thoughts he shoved out of mind, however. They were very unwanted.

“Well, so much for getting Caria out today,” He sighed. “I”ll have to go to Plan B then.” As he considered what that plan B was even going to be, there was a knock at his office door. “Come in?”

His Undine assistant walked in, and said, “Mister Rhutowski, you’ve had two visitors, one who’s here to see you right now.”

“Yeah? Who?” Rhutowski asked.

“The first one came and left, but said he’d be back later,” the Undine girl said. “The second, well he says he’s from the Mayors office?” She didn’t seem so certain of that fact for some reason, which was not all that comforting to the Lamia Merchant. But, still, there was some potential here.

‘Well,’ Rhutowski mused, ‘hello plan B, I guess.’ “Send him in.”

In entered a man, sort of nondescript looking. Wait, no, A Dragon in a business suit, looking fairly serious as he entered the room, even holding a briefcase in hand. Wait. Hadn’t he just come into the room already? There… “Hello, I’m Damez Vivex, personal Lawyer for the Hoss family. I was visiting just a few minutes ago to negotiate transferring Kinzy Hoss to a new cell from his current one, presently shared with one Caria Mayoi?”

“Ah,” Rhutowski nodded. “That explains it then. I was wondering why a lawyer for another family was coming to speak to me.”

“Yes, she relayed information to me that you, through a mutual acquaintance of yours and hers, could pay me for my services in getting her out on bail?” The lawyer then added a predatory smirk to his face. “Considering that she’s in quite a pinch presently- interfering once with a murder investigation? Ouch. Twice? Not the smartest thing in the world. We can’t even get a legit hearing to have her put on bail given that… But there is an alternative- mind you that this alternative is going to be fairly expensive. But nothing you can’t handle, being a merchant, correct?”

“Yeah, unfortunately, Caria gets herself into trouble a lot,” Rhutowski nodded. “Mainly because of her daughter. Such a troublemaker that one! I don’t know why she just doesn’t go home with her, but, what can I do? I’m just the concerned friend. All I can do is offer advice and try to keep Caria out of trouble which is-” The Lawyer checked his nonexistent watch, a sign that Rhutowski was rambling again, “AH! Right! But yeah, I can pay you for getting her out!”

“Wonderful!” The Dragon-born Lawyer handed Rhutowski a card, “Here’s my going rate.” The smile on his face was somehow MORE than predatory than before.

“Right, of course, that’s…!” The Lamia Merchant read over the numbers, and then gulped. “That’s a lot of zeroes.” ‘Oh Plan B, why must you always be the most expensive thing?’

Yo!” Tyler waved as he returned to the dig site.

“You seem happy,” Ayako observed.

“Ah, I went for a walk, found myself somewhere interesting,” Tyler seemed to be smiling. This was suspicious. “Oh, and by the way? I can see why you don’t like your mother very much, Detective Mayoi. She has a… very unique vocabulary.”

Mayoi frowned at the usage of her title, and asked, “Tyler, what did you do?”

“I ended up near the Mayors office so I figured, ‘why not?’ and went in to talk with the suspect in jail.” Tyler continued, “We struck up a deal, and he called his lawyer and they’re negotiating with the Town Guard for a hassle free interview in exchange for transferring him out of the cell he’s currently in for somewhere a bit less… crowded.”

“My mother certainly knows how to make a great impression, doesn’t she?” Mayoi chuckled. “So what, you came back to let me know?”

“Yup,” Tyler nodded. “Robert said he won’t sign any deals unless you’re there, so I came back to do my job, and to let you know this was all going on.”

“What ever happened to killing someone for making you go off duty?” Ayako pressed for details, even as Mayoi got ready to leave.

“Nah, I wasn’t going to actually do it,” Tyler smirked. “Teasing that I would, well, that’s perfectly fine and dandy! Actually killing? Please, Aya, I thought you knew me better than that.” He put on a fake pout even as he crouched down at the body to resume digging.

“Heh, it’s fine,” Ayako smiled. “I was just messin’ with ya. I could smell you weren’t actually going to do it back at the Mystryal gate.”

“I know,” Tyler chuckled, and shifted his stance so that it wasn’t so obvious that he had a flare gun hidden in his jacket.

“Joan was… I’ll admit I had a thing for her,” Kinzy Hoss shook his head, “but as soon as I heard she was pregnant I dropped my interest in her like a hot potato!” Ayako sniffed at his testimony, finding nothing wrong with it so far. “Hell, I was happy she was getting married! I was a mess back then, I was too much of a hotshot for my own damned good.” He paused, then sighed. “Look, you’ve got to understand, it was a very difficult time back then. I hadn’t even been voted in yet, I was still under probation… If I’d done anything while she was getting married of all things then I’d never have even gotten the job and…” He shook his head. “Look, if I’d known Joan was really under that stretch of land, I’d’ve gone in and dug her up myself, permits or no.”

“So you didn’t know she was there?” Mayoi asked.

“No, I didn’t,” Kinzy said, and Ayako could smell him telling the truth. “I… Suspected. Honestly, I did. I shared the boyfriend’s suspicions, but my hands were tied! I couldn’t get the paperwork to do anything! Every time I requested anything for work near that place, it just never showed up! I honestly just thought I’d been cursed with bad luck.”

“Funny, that’s the same story everyone else in town has been giving me about you,” Mayoi said with a frown.

“It’s the truth, and that’s what I told everyone who asked me to get the paperwork for them,” Kinzy said, scowling. “I couldn’t get the damned things in for me, so how the hell was I supposed to get them in for other people?”

“Hmm…” Mayoi looked to Ayako, who gave an affirming nod. The Truth! How unexpected from such a flimsy story. “I see.” Now was the time to ask, “So why did you call off the search?”

“I didn’t,” Kinzy Hoss said firmly. “I received anonymous orders from someone in the Mayor’s office to call it off and declare Joan Hayamoto a runaway.” He took a drink of water to refresh his voice, “I tried to follow the paper trail back, but the orders were routed through so many different channels at the same time that I couldn’t figure out where they originally came from.” He paused, then added, “That’s really when I started to get suspicious and tried to get the permits to dig up the track of land… Even my Lawyer got road blocked every time I had him request the permits instead of me.”

“And what exactly was the hold up on that permit paperwork, Mister Hoss?” Robert asked, trying to remain professional despite interviewing his father.

Kinzy shot a patronizing look at his son, before sighing and admitting, “I had to go through the Mayors office to get the paperwork and I never made any progress in all the time I was working as Chief.”

“Funny, then, that everything loosens up right after your retirement,” Mayoi put the nagging issue forwards. “Are you able to explain that, Mister Hoss?”

“Yes, I can. Robert, you remember, don’t you?” Kinzy appealed to his son. “There were a lot of retirements and elections around when I stopped working.”

“That true?” Mayoi asked.

“Unfortunately,” Robert nodded. “There were a lot of job positions opening up two years ago. Happened all at once, too. Not really sure what spurred it, but it seemed like there was a lot of sweeping reforms around the same time. Some of us thought the former Mayor was crazy at the time and trying to take hold of the town more, but then he stepped down about half a year later to let his son take over.”

“Exactly,” Kinzy said. “Look, the way I see it, whoever was road blocking me left during that time and the gears of change were finally unblocked.”

“Any idea who?” Mayoi asked.

“Someone high up in the rankings,” Kinzy said. “Someone with enough know-how to finagle the file systems the way they did. I tell you- that order to stop the hunt for Joan? It was a masterpiece of deception. Only someone who knew how everything worked from every level could do something like that.” He sighed, “In all the years I worked as Chief, though, I never caught wind of anyone suspicious. I don’t know who it could have been or why they killed Joan.”

“So why did you run?” Robert Hoss asked of his father. “Why not tell us this earlier?”

“Because…” Kinzy took a deep breath, then exhaled. “Because I received an anonymous phone call about fifteen years ago. A man who said if I was asked about this case by anyone, and if I told them the truth, then my family would be put through the most evil torture imaginable, and then we would all be simply found ‘dead’ by heart attacks.” He shook his head. “I’m an old man, Rob. I’ve lived long enough, but… threatening my family? I couldn’t let my family get hurt.”

One more glance to Ayako was enough to make Mayoi nod to Robert, who gave a relieved sigh, “All right, Daa-. Mister Hoss. We can’t exactly let you go right now, as you’re still our primary suspect, but we will follow through on transferring you to a new cell so you can have a bit of peace and quiet.” He paused, then added, “And we’ll look into this threat you received as well.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Kinzy gave a smile as he stood up from the interrogation room table. “Even I’ve gotta admit, I look like a pretty damned convincing suspect at the moment.”

“Oh, before we end this,” Ayako spoke up, as if a thought hit her then. “If you were the killer, forced to improvise, what would your first weapon of convenience be?”

Kinzy scowled for a moment as he processed the question, then answered, “Ah… probably my patrol baton.”

‘Well that’s an odd question to ask,’ Mayoi thought as she looked towards her daughter, who was nodding at the answer given.

“Thanks for the insight,” Ayako smiled.


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