December 19th, 1618.

“Sooo…” Lizzy began as the Detectives and Thieves all sat on the floor, drying off from their impromptu soaking. “What now?”

“Now, I’ll officially turn over my journal to you,” Tammy said, gesturing at the book still in Ayako’s mouth. “Not that I’ll want it back with all the slobber and teeth marks in it.”

Ayako responded to that remark by spitting out the journal and giving everyone a rapid shake down shower.

“EEEK! Aya!!!” Lizzy squealed in a hybrid of annoyance and humor as she was hit by the water droplets coming her way.

Kaie just sighed, and wiped the castoff water from his face with his sleeve. “As nice as that is, I think Lizzy meant ‘what are we doing regarding your arrest status?’”

“That… That’s a tricky question, isn’t it?” Barry the Iconox said, sharing a glance with Fauxey, who had returned to full wolf mode and was watching everyone with an amused look in his eyes. “We did technically kill two people, even if they had it coming.”

“I’m sure the courts will be willing to give you a lighter sentence given the circumstances,” Kaie frowned. “The problem is the trouble you caused enchanting a trumpet like that,” He glanced at Tammy. “You said this was going on for how many years?”

“More than either of us care to count,” Tammy said as she stroked at Karah’s drying hair. The Pyromander herself seemed to be rapidly warming up, though she was still tired out by the double dousing everyone had gone through.

[“Hey! Kaie! Look!!!”] Tony whined. Kaie ignored him.

“Far too long, then…” Kaie sighed. “Look, I’ll be honest with you… There’s no way you’re not going to be going away for a long time, especially with your previous rap sheet.”

“We’ve done all we set out to do,” Tammy said. “We were planning on retiring.” She paused, looked to Karah, who looked back up at her and smiled.

“We can retire in prison?” The Pyromander offered her Sylph wife.

Tammy thought on it for a moment, then looked Kaie in the eyes, dead serious, “We’ll turn ourselves in peacefully as long as we stay together every step of the way. I’m not leaving my wife alone anywhere.”

[“Kaie! KAIE! HEY! LISTEN!!!”] Ayako barked. [“Dammit.”] Kaie continued to ignore her as he considered Tammy’s offer.

“Alright,” he nodded. “I think I can make a deal to that end.” He turned back to Barry and Fauxey, “As for you… Two…” They were gone. “What…?”

“Um, Kaie,” Lizzy began.

“What?” He looked to her.

“Ayako and Tony were trying to get your attention the entire time,” Lizzy pointed at the exit. “Barry and Fauxey left while you and Tammy were hashing out prison sentences.”

“You were, huh?” Kaie glanced at Ayako, who just stuck her tongue out at him and panted. “And you didn’t think to maybe… I dunno… stop them?”

[“Hey! You try climbing up a wall and hanging from the floor for several minutes and see how much chasing you want to do after that!”] Ayako yipped at him. One yip conveyed all of that. Kaie didn’t understand it at all, but he sighed in acceptance just the same.

“Fine. I’ll find out later.” He turned back to Tammy and Karah, the latter of whom seemed to find the whole thing entirely too funny. “Well, I suppose I don’t have to put you two in handcuffs as long as you promise not to run away.”

“I don’t think we could if we wanted to,” Karah said, sitting up weakly. “I’m not really up for it… and besides that, someone’s at the door.”

“Huh?” Kaie and Lizzy both turned around to see, much to their surprise, Mikari Yuki and Eugene Gohan both standing in the doorway that normally lead outside.

“What… the hell…” Mikari began. “Just what the hell did I MISS when I went on vacation!?”

Eugene just stared at Karah and Tammy, eyes wide in awe as he whispered, “Is that… are they…?”

Tammy smiled at the boy- spotting a pair of ghostly cat ears on his head that only she could see. “Tammy and Karah Sayaka, at your service, kitten,” she said for what would likely be the last time in a long while.

“…Oh wow…” And then Eugene fainted.

Mikari groaned, and planted both of her hands to her face so as to cover her eyes. “Damn it!!”

December 20th, 1618.

“Oh, Creators…” Shauna Toulise whispered as she read the final page of a copy of Tammy’s journal. “…Mike was always a bit… over protective about my getting pregnant, but I had no idea he…” She gulped. “All those girls? He never even mentioned that…”

Miri Nori sighed in remorse, “I wish I could say he was a better person than some men are…” but she couldn’t. Shirou, at least, had tried to put a stop to the wrong doings in his life. Mike Flynn, on the other hand, seemed to have done nothing but repeat the same mistakes even after he became aware that there was a problem that he was directly responsible for. “I could have just left you in the dark about it,” Miri continued, “but I felt you deserved to know. To understand what had happened. Why Mike was targeted and killed the way he was.”

“…Does that mean I’m going to miscarry too?” Shauna asked, looking at Miri’s stomach. Miri’s hands lowered there on reflex, and the Lycan girl sighed.

“We don’t know. The creator of the curse seems to think that it should be broken with Mike dead and the trumpet destroyed,” Miri paused. “Wait. Does that mean you’re…?”

“The thing I didn’t get to tell him,” Shauna said bitterly. “I’m pregnant.”

Miri summed up the situation with words unfit for print.

Shauna didn’t object.

“Hey!” Aysha grinned as Mikari entered the store. “I was wondering if I’d see you today!”

“It’s the pickup time on the receipt for the candy I ordered, so…” Mikari held up her receipt, said time printed near the top, circled in glittery green ink.

“Well, sure, but I mean, after everyone saw you runnin’ across town to go investigate that giant sphere thing in the bay?” Aysha tilted her head to the side slightly. “I mean, A big fancy Mystryal Detective like yourself? I woulda thought more people would be hounding you about what it was!”

“Eh… I’m not really a fully trained detective yet,” Mikari nervously scratched at the side of her head with her left hand. “I mean, I made a bad assumption the other day that nearly ruined things between me and a- an acquaintance of mine.”

“You mean Eugene?” Aysha asked.

“Um,” Mikari blinked. “How did you…?”

“He came by a couple hours ago, and left just a few minutes before you showed up, actually,” Aysha explained. “He said an acquaintance of his had finally talked some sense into him, and as much as it pained him to admit it, it make him realize he was being a complete ass about it.”

“He… what?” Mikari blinked. “I don’t understand.”

“He said she said somethin’ about how he shouldn’t be wastin’ his time avoiding love and romance in his live?” Aysha asked, frowning. Mikari looked completely confused still. “That wasn’t you?”

“No,” Mikari shook her head. “Though, I’ve got an idea about who it could be, though.” After Eugene had woken up from his rather brief fainting spell, he, Tammy, and Karah had all talked about super secret Cat’s Guild membership stuff that she hadn’t forced herself to listen to.

“Aw, dang, and here I was thinkin’ it was you after that shoutin’ match you two had the other day.” Aysha admitted.

“I- What?” Mikari’s face went red. “You heard that?”

“Miss, half the stores on th’ block heard ya the way you two were shoutin’!” She paused, then giggled. “I will say thanks to tryin’ to help though. Eugene’s as stubborn as a harpy most o’ th’ time when it comes to romance. I’ve been tryin’ to get him to admit he likes me for years now.” She shook her head. “But he finally did today. So, even if you weren’t the one to finally kick it through his thick skull, I think you managed to put a decent crack in, at any rate.”

“I… Um…” Mikari blinked rapidly a few times. “You’re welcome??”

“Haha, sure thing!” Aysha smiled. “I’ll go get yer order up for ya then. Back in a jif’!”

And so Mikari was left standing in the candy shop wondering what the hell had just happened. She accepted the box full of candy, and walked out of the store in a bit of a blur.

It wasn’t until she found herself walking up to her parent’s front door once more that she realized that she’d walked the entire way back with her brain in full “WTF” mode, and still had no real idea what had just happened.

It was because of that, or maybe in spite of it, that she noticed that the front door of the house was hanging open already.

Her “Danger!” instincts kicking into full gear, Mikari carefully put the box of candies on the cabinet just inside the entry-way, and readied a shock spell.

Quietly, carefully, she sneaked through the house. She checked room after room until she came to the kitchen, where she found her Father, sobbing into a bottle of some alcoholic drink that had its label half torn off in apparent grief, and staring at a crumpled up note in his hands.

Mikari dismissed the shock spell, and carefully approached. “Dad?” She asked. Her voice was enough to shock him out of his stupor.

“Oh, Mikari…” Takeru Yuki began, sounding more tired than he had any right being.

“Dad, what’s wrong?” Mikari asked.

“Your mother…” Takeru began, before choking up. “She…” And then he handed Mikari the note he’d been staring at. Mikari took it, hesitantly, and stared at the words written on it, trying to process what, “I’m going to see Aik’o” meant.

A few moments later, she took off at a run in an attempt to find the first train back to Rainbow Line.

Mikari ran, and ran, and ran. She ran faster than she’d ever ran before. She ran, hoping beyond all belief that her hunch was right. That she wasn’t wrong and that she… that her mother hadn’t…!

And then she stopped, finding a scene that boggled the mind even further.

Eugene Gohan was keeping a very obviously distressed Madoka Yuki from getting on a train that wouldn’t take her to Rainbow Line, but instead to a completely different town. “Ma’am, look, this isn’t the Rainbow Line train. It’s to Kimberly, to the-”

“No, I know this is the Rainbow Line Train! I- I know it is!” Madoka tried to push past him.

“Mom!” Mikari called out, and ran over to her. Her mother turned, eyes widening in recognition…

“Aik’o! Oh! Aik’o!” Madoka then hugged her, crying to her daughter with the wrong name. “See, I knew this was the right train! I was coming to see you and…”

“Mom, ssssh,” Mikari hugged her mother. “It’s alright, but it’s not the right train. You were going to go the wrong way. So I…” And she hated to do this. “So I came to make sure you didn’t get lost. Okay?”

“Mmmh-” Her mother hugged her tighter.

Meanwhile, Mikari and Eugene locked eyes, and she answered his silent question of “What the hell?” with a grim look that said, “I’ll tell you later, now please help me get her home.”

For now…

For now, everything would be alright. For now, her mother was still alive, or not seriously hurt. She was fine.

And Mikari counted that as a win for today.

“Soo… What was that about?” Eugene asked once they’d gotten Madoka home, and settled into bed. They were now in Mikari’s room, where Mikari was trying to re-arrange her backpack so that it could fit the box of candies inside.

“My twin sister died when I was little- murdered, actually, by my teacher, thinking she was me. Mom… she didn’t take it well. Fits like this started happening and, well–” Mikari paused in her explanation as she finally shoved the box into her backpack, and managed to zip it up. “Nobody’s sure what it is that’s doing this, except that, within the last few years, it’s started popping up among people with Soul Bonds after some huge trauma strikes at them.” She finished, and turned to look at Eugene. He flinched at the sad look in her eyes. “Eventually, we moved out here to get away from the rest of the family, and the familiar sights that would set mom off… And while I lived with her, I wasn’t one of those triggers, but after I went to Mystryal…” She sighed. “She’s gotten worse. She’s fine as long as I don’t come visit but…”

“It’s alright,” Eugene said, frowning. “You don’t have to say anything.”

“I’m just glad you were there,” Mikari said, turning around to face him. “Alcor, I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if she got on that train.”

“Honestly, I would have skipped town ages ago if you hadn’t yelled at me the other day,” Eugene admitted. “But after that I was just skirting around town wondering why the hell I really was avoiding telling Aysha I…” He sighed. “And then that thing crashed down into the bay, and we had to ste… er, borrow,” he corrected, noticing her amused smirk, “borrow that motor boat to get out there…” He shook his head. “I can’t believe that I got to meet one of the Cat’s Guild’s most infamous teams- a married couple, at that.”

“Like divine intervention, I suppose,” Mikari joked, to which he laughed.

“Something like that,” Eugene nodded. “I asked them about how they dealt with it. How they came to realize…” He took a breath. “And what they told me made it all fit together, I guess.” He looked Mikari in the eyes, and said, “My Cousin’s one of the only family members I have left that I keep in regular contact with… I can’t remember if I ever told you that or not.”

“Sounds familiar, but I could be confusing it with someone else. Continue?” Mikari offered him a smile.

“Anyways, yeah… dealing with her allergies has always been a thing I’ve had to deal with more so than other people. Even her parents…” Eugene shook his head. “I’ve always thought of her more like my sister, honestly. Thieving was always just how I provided for her. It’s…” he frowned. “Hey, quick question. That classmate of yours, is her name Olivea? Olivea Nitta?”

Mikari blinked, processed the question, and then laughed. “Oh, Mizar! I’m classmates with your cousin!”

“We ended up buying the same gifts for the same person and didn’t realize it,” Eugene shook his head. “I’d thought maybe it was possible, but…”

“It’s seriously like the universe is making us work together, huh?” Mikari asked.

“Yeah,” Eugene nodded. “If I didn’t know better from the other day, I’d say it was a soul bond at work.”

Mikari and Eugene both stared at their hands, and then laughed as they remembered the one handshake they’d had shared. The one that had no magical golden aura, or any end result in any way shape or form resembling a Soul Bond. (A little to Mikari’s relief.)

“Maybe,” Mikari began, “maybe we’re just meant to be friends?”

“I can see that,” Eugene stood up, offering her his hand once more. “Even if we’re on opposite ends of the same coin… friends?”

“Friends,” Mikari said, taking his hand and shaking it as well.

Just as before, nothing magical happened at all. Instead, it was just something rather mundane in the grand scheme of the mystical events populating this stage of karmic wheel of the universe.

The handshake broke, and the two regarded each other properly for the first time outside of their occupations as a Thief and a Detective- as two people who were likely to run into each other more often than not, given their recently discovered connection via a certain Undine girl.

“So, you said you’re shipping stuff to Olivea’s?” Mikari began.

“Yeah,” Eugene nodded. “It’s easier that way to be consistent. A lot of times I don’t know what my job’s going to do regarding travel, and besides that, I don’t know the latest pass code to get past the gates.” he shrugged. “Not much I can do about it.”

“Yeah, I can understand that,” Mikari nodded. “But… I’m heading back early, y’see. I’m worried that if I stay around too long, Mom won’t recover this time, so…” she smirked in a way that Eugene found rather unsettling. “How about I do the delivering this time?”

“Why do I get the feeling this is going to either end in hugs or tears?” He asked.

“Why not both?” Mikari asked in a way that did not bode well for Eugene’s rib cage’s structural integrity. “But first,” and then she turned serious. “I need to ask you for help on something.”

“What’s that?” Eugene asked, growing serious as well.

“I need to to dig up every piece of dirt you can on Ahr’tur Llewellyn.” Mikari decreed, and then explained the situation she was in.

By the time she’d finished describing the Black Mail, Eugene was clenching his hands into fists.

By the time she’d mentioned that Olivea was also in this class… Eugene was just about ready to punch the Lamia man in the face.

By the time Mikari had finished speaking, Eugene had put Ahr’tur Llewellyn on his “burn their career to a crisp” list, and he had a feeling they both knew someone who would have no problem digging up the dirt on the bastard.

“Well, that’s not subtle at all.” Ranagi Kaie remarked as he and Nahgi Llewellyn stared at all the burnt-to-a-crisp corpses in the jail cell block whose only survivor had been Caria Mayoi. “Kana’s not going to like this.”

“I don’t even like this,” remarked Tyler Obonz, who was nervously inspecting one set of the many crisp-ified remains. Less so because of the body, and more because of the fact that it was the Reaper’s Assistant who was hovering over his shoulder and soaking in every detail.

“You’re both right,” Nahgi grimaced. “It’s not subtle, Kana’s not going to like this at all. And this creeps me out to no end.”

“Why,” Kaie frowned. “Why the hell would Kyiahlnah go to the trouble to pretend to be Caria’s lawyer just to kill everyone except her?” He then gestured wildly around the rest of the empty court block. “Everyone else in here got flash-baked, but why not Caria?” What was the point of it? The woman had simply been too terrified to say anything about the horrific experience she’d seen. He shuddered a bit at the thought.

“It’s one of two things,” Yaovi- the Reaper in Green- spoke as she seemed to appear out of thin air. Nahgi likewise shuddered at her sudden arrival, though Kaie didn’t, having already done that particular requirement just a second ago. “She would often pull stunts like this during the War. All acts deliberate, but the motive behind them was either something vital to her cause, or just a random distraction meant to stall for time.”

“So we have to assume she’s doing both at the same time,” Nahgi shook her head. “Damn it.”

“What about Caria?” Kaie asked of the Reaper, “Did she say anything to you?”

“No,” Yaovi shook her head. “In fact, as soon as she saw me, the only thing that came out of her mouth were screams.”

“Kyiahlnah likely spoke to her,” Cah’le said as she stood up from where she was kneeling. (Tyler exhaled in relief as she stepped away.) “Whatever she said is so terrifying that we likely won’t hear of it for some time.”

“Either that, or Caria’s being her stubborn self and refusing to talk to anyone again,” Nahgi mused. “If the Princess did tell her to tell us something, Caria not telling us is only going to anger her further.”

“I’ll put some extra guards on her,” Kaie sighed, and turned to leave. “Also, yeah, I’m going to tell Kana. We’ve kept this from her long enough as it is.”

“My advice?” Nahgi offered Kaie as he left. “Just get it over with and rip it off.”

“You say that like we both don’t know that’s the absolute worst way to tell her,” Kaie quipped.

Less than half an hour later, Kana Mayoi was screaming words that were so not fit to be printed in any way shape or form, that the previously mentioned volume of “Words Unfit to Print” had to be updated with a brand new chapter, entitled:

“Why Demons should never taunt a Detective with their family.”


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