Shiori was carrying the Saito Blade as they walked through Han’s apartment and headed for the underground parking lot. She knew she’d be tangling with Katsumi again and this time she would be prepared. The five of them rushed down the stairs and over to Han’s Aston Martin.
It was a bit cramped with all of them inside but it had to be done.
“So what’s the plan?” Rose asked nervously.
“We head to the warehouse where Al thinks they are. If they’re there, we warn the All Seers, sit back, wait for the cavalry,” Han said quickly.
“What if they’ve already left?” Scorpius asked.
“Then we’re fucked,” Al said simply.
Han ripped out of the parking lot and into the Tokyo streets above. He put his foot down and shot in and out of the other cars on the road. They beeped their horns and yelled as he weaved past them.
Outside the sun was going down. If they were lucky they’d get to the outskirts of the city before the beginning of rush hour could start.
Al pulled out his new wand and studied it for a second. He hadn’t really had a chance to give the thing a field test. He’d have to hope that it would be enough if the shit hit the fan. Han spotted him and knew what he was thinking.
“Hey! We are not going there to fight. Leave that to the All Seers!” he said quickly.
“Katsumi is my responsibility,” Shiori said in a low stern voice.
“Leave her to the Seraphim,” Han tried.
Shiori didn’t answer but it was obvious what she was thinking.
“Shit!” Al blurted, remembering. “Won’t she be able to sense you once you get close enough?”
“I hope she does,” Shiori hissed.
“Shiori!” Han barked.
“I’ve got to deal with her sometime, Han; it might as well be now!”
It took them another fourteen minutes to reach the waterfront and industrial area that the warehouse was in. They left the car at the open gate of the industrial zone and began to walk. The guard house was empty and from the looks of it, so was the rest of the area.
They were either too late or just in time.
Large warehouses and factories lined both sides of the industrial zone. Most had large semi-trailer trucks and forklifts parked in front of them while seemed like they hadn’t been used in quite a while.
The group moved forwards, staying close to the walls of the warehouses.
“There,” Shiori whispered, pointing to a large Japanese sign post. “Magatama.”
They followed the arrow on the sign post. It pointed to the left, around the side of a storage house. They shifted around and immediately spotted the metallurgy plant. It was the only one in the whole industrial park that had all the lights on.
From where they were, about a hundred yards away, they could see several men in overalls carrying boxes in and out of the main entrance to the plant. It was a huge sliding metal door which had been left open. A second later, a forklift truck drove up to the entrance carrying large metal barrels and then went inside.
“Is that them?” Scorpius whispered.
“I don’t know,” Al shrugged.
“It’s them...” Shiori said. She nodded towards one of the men in overalls.
They saw him turn, revealing an assault rifle hanging from his shoulder.
“Yep,” Al agreed, “right, Han, go warn the All Seers. We’ll stay here and make sure they don’t go anywhere.”
“You’ll stay?” Han snorted. “I’ll believe that when I see it! Shiori, make sure these three don’t do anything stupid!” he ordered.
“Standing right here!” Rose said indignantly.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can,” Han said before sprinting away towards his car.
They watched the Magatama plant for a few more seconds. Those guys were busy doing something but what?
Then Al spotted it. The barrels that were being carried by the forklift were fuel drums!
“They’re getting ready to blow the place and destroy all the evidence!” he whispered.
“It’ll look like an industrial accident!” Rose gasped. “No one will know what they did here!”
“Yes, they will,” Al growled.
“Don’t even think about it!” Shiori shot at him. “We’re waiting for the All Seers, then I’ll deal with Katsumi!”
“Is she in there?”
“I think so.”
“How many guys do you think they have?” Scorpius asked.
“I don’t know. Too many. Wish I had some grenades or a nice bazooka or better yet, a tank!” Al groaned.
“Alright, well, let’s just say, hypothetically, that is all goes to hell...then what?” Scorp asked.
Al looked around for a second while formulating a plan.
“Okay, see that forklift,” he pointed, “we rig it so it crashes right through the front gate. That’ll distract them, then be bust in through the side entrance and blast as many as we can. We just gotta keep em busy until the All Seers arrive.”
“That’s the stupidest plan I’ve ever heard in my life!” Scorpius huffed.
“They could have fifty guys in there and do you even know how to rig a forklift?”
“Well, at least I’m trying to think of a plan! Unlike you with your negative fucking attitude!”
“It’s impossible to be positive around you!”
“Well, bloody try! You have to believe that the plan will work, you have to visualize it!”
“Why don’t you visualize my foot up your ass!” Scorpius scathed.
“Fucking come on then!” Al barked and shoved him away.
“Fuck you!” Scorpius hissed and he grabbed hold of Albus and tried to put him in a headlock.
They were standing a hundred yards away from an army of armed criminals that would likely kill them in a heartbeat if they found them and instead of deal with that fact, Scorpius and Al were actually having a fight instead.
Suddenly they were broken apart from each other by a very piss off looking Shiori.
“Are you two serious?! You wanna have a scrap now?!” she seethed.
The two boys seemed to realize that now was not the time. Rose just rolled her eyes.
“Am I going to have to separate you?” she asked.
“Yeah, take him and his negative attitude over there!” Al mumbled.
“Take yourself and your stupid fucking plan over there then!” Scorpius rasped.
“Enough!” Shiori said, looking ready to punch them both. “I’ll go high and get a better look. That way we’ll know what we’re dealing with, okay?” It wasn’t a question.
Al and Scorpius nodded like naughty school children.
Shiori stood up, clutched hold of her sword then jumped into the air. She shot thirty feet up and back flipped into a silent landing on the roof of the storage house.
“That is so sexy,” Al gapped looking up at the roof.
After the initial amazement faded, they turned back to the metallurgy plant. The men in overalls continued to bring in fuel barriers. Whatever they were doing, it probably wouldn’t take much longer. If the All Seers didn’t get there quick, the Toko Clan was going to slip away with a big chunk of the Japanese magical economy.
They needed to be ready to move if they didn’t get there in time but unfortunately, Scorpius was right. They had no idea of the Toko Clan’s man power. All they knew about them so far was that most of them were well trained and not opposed to using muggle weaponry as well as wands.
Something metal and sharp brushed against Al’s cheek from behind.
“Don’t try it Potter, you’re not that fast.”
He knew that voice. Katsumi.
“Neither are you bitch!” Shiori hissed.
Al looked over his shoulder to see Katsumi holding a samurai sword to his neck and behind her, Shiori had the Saito blade pressed against hers.
“Put it down, Shiori, we both know you’re not going to risk me slicing your boyfriends throat open,” Katsumi smiled insidiously.
“I’ll open yours first!”
“Then I kill him, you kill me and the gentlemen over there with the large machine guns kill you and where will that get us?” Katsumi said knowing that she had the upper hand. “We both know you’re not the sort to stab someone from behind.”
“Things change,” Shiori warned.
“You have no idea...don’t you want to know why we only attacked the other two champions?” Katsumi asked. “My boss wants you kept alive.”
The sound of guns being cocked filled the air. Several of the men in overalls had arrived with their rifles ready and pointed at Scorpius and Rose.
Shiori looked on with anger. She wanted to end the traitorous Toushi right then and there, but she couldn’t risk the others, especially Albus. She dropped her sword.
Katsumi smiled with satisfaction. She took the sword away from Al’s throat and then grabbed his wand from his pocket before doing the same to Rose and Scorpius.
“Bring them,” she ordered. “There’s someone that wants to meet you,” she winked at Albus.
Katsumi and her henchmen marched Al, Shiori, Scorpius and Rose into the plant through the main entrance. Inside was a wide open factory floor, filled with machines, pipes and walkways above. They could see now what they had been doing inside. They were dumping the fuel into the pipes and turning the whole place into a giant powder keg.
That way, they could start a fire anywhere they wanted and it would eventually ignite the fuel in the pipes and destroy the entire facility.
There were at least thirty or forty other armed men inside doing the dirty work. Al looked around but he couldn’t see the printing presses anywhere. They had to be in another part of the plant.
The group was marched into the center of the facility before being halted. The Toko Clansmen kept their guns on them at all times. Above them, one of the walkways led to a small control room.
Al looked and spotted two people inside. He couldn’t make out what they looked like but he spotted the unmistakable orange glow of a cigarette or cigar.
“This is a nice sword,” Katsumi said, admiring the Saito blade. “You know, they say that the sword of Saito cannot harm its owner...”
She raised the tip of the blade to Shiori’s throat.
“Shall we see?”
“NO!” Al yelled but it was already too late.
Katsumi had slashed the sword through the air. Shiori hadn’t moved a muscle.
There was a small slice in her top where the sword had cut through, but no blood. It was true. The sword couldn’t harm a Saito.
“I guess you are a Saito after all...but not the only one...” she smiled.
Shiori only had a moment to look confused.
“There is an old saying...” a dark voice said. It was close but they couldn’t see where it was coming from. “The nail that sticks out the most gets hammered hardest.”
A man walked out from the control room and slowly strutted down the stairs. He was wearing a black suit and tie that matched his hair.
“You’re the nail, Mr. Potter,” he said, reaching ground level.
When Al finally saw his face, it was not a pretty sight. He had a massive burn mark on the left side that went from his forehead down to his jaw. Then his mind clicked and he realized where he knew him from.
“Hello Shiori,” he said.
Al turned to see her eyes wide with fear and disbelief. A single word escaped her mouth.
“Father?! That’s your dad?!” Scorpius blurted.
Al felt a horrid pain shoot through his chest. Not for himself but for her. He should have realized sooner. The date of her parent’s death coincided with the All Seers extermination of the Toko Clan. Saya and Ariel had tried to kill her parents and then adopted her afterwards.
He couldn’t imagine the kind of betrayal that Shiori was feeling at that moment.
“No...you...” she tried.
“Died? Yes, I did,” her father said. “The All Seers made sure of that...they rammed our car right off the road. I crawled out of the wreck just moments before it exploded,” he pointed to the burn on his face. “Your mother didn’t...”
Her father walked over to her and looked her in the eye.
“Then, they snatched you up for themselves...hoping to turn you into their weapon...over a decade later and they are still finding themselves new puppets to play with,” his eyes turned to Albus.
“That’s what this is about? Revenge?” Rose gasped in disgust.
“Why not? Don’t I deserve it?”
“But...but your daughters alive, you’re alive! You could have -”
“Could have what?” he snapped. “Asked them politely to give her back, no, they would have killed me before I got within a mile of her. You know it wasn’t easy, staying off their radars. They see everything, especially who they can use for their own gains,” he said, again looking at Al.
“Oh, this isn’t for them. It’s for me,” Al grinned darkly.
“Oh yeah! I gotta admit though, I am impressed. Quite the little scheme you came up with...the fake galleons, the internet betting...its genius.”
“Yes, it was. But even the best laid plans can be disrupted,” her father admitted.
“Like your lackey that tried to kill me at the Eve ball?” Al surmised.
“Yes. I told him you would die eventually but he wouldn’t listen. Luckily, you killed him before he could screw anything up...thanks for that,” he smirked.
“My pleasure,” Al smiled back.
“Of course, that is always the best deception. Letting people like you think that they are stopping the bad guys, when in actual fact, you were helping us all along. Every time we sent someone after you, you stop them and increase the odds in your favor, while decreasing them in the Americans. We knew about her sister right from the start, we just kept that little piece of information a secret until it could be properly used. And, it’s all thanks to you Albus...you’re the one that made it all possible. You got us the money,” he laughed.
“Yeah, you played me like a fucked up piano, but I got a question for you...” he said, his mind finding yet another spark. “Who’s this money really for...who are you working for?”
That stopped the room dead. Katsumi’s masochistic grin vanished and so did Shiori’s fathers. Even Shiori, Scorpius and Rose looked stunned at that bit of information.
“You’re not trying to rebuild the Toko Clan because you know you’d never win against the All Seers. They wiped you out in a day last time, they can do it again. The money isn’t for that, it’s for something else...what?”
“My...aren’t you sharp...” Shiori’s father grudgingly admitted.
“Who are you working for?”
Her father’s grin returned. “The money is going to usher in a new world order. As for my employer...you’ll meet her soon enough.”
It was a woman. The gender didn’t really matter...bad guys, bad girls, who cares...so Albus spelled out his next question.
“Why you backing her? You really think she can stand up to the All Seers?”
“The All Seers will be destroyed along with all the other Toushi. She is about to succeed where Voldemort failed.”
“What?” Scorpius exclaimed. “You can’t be serious?! The blood status shit is over!”
“Blood status...you think that is what this is about? Hardy,” Shiori’s father laughed. “Immortality is the prize.”
“Yes, where Voldemort failed, she will succeed. After all our searching, she’s finally found the key. Soon, very soon, she will become nothing short of a Goddess,” he declared.
“And you really think that this ‘Goddess’ will take your revenge for you?”
“They killed my wife! They deserve to burn!”
“Ahh, bullshit! You killed your wife!” Albus spat.
Shiori’s fathers enraged eyes locked onto him. He looked ready to kill him.
“You killed her with your own greed and lust for power! The All Seers never wanted to steal Shiori, they wanted to protect her! That’s why they allied themselves with you in the first place instead of killing you outright. They knew what you’d try and do but they try for peace anyway! Not for your sake but for hers! They adopted her so that they could look after her then they sent her away to be trained as a Toushi. She hates them, but they still want her kept safe! It’s your fault your wife is dead!”
Katsumi slammed a fist into Al’s gut causing him to drop to his knees in pain. She grabbed a clump of the back of his hair and held her samurai blade to his throat.
“Can I kill him now?” she asked Shiori’s father.
“Carefully, it has to look like an accident,” he said.
“No!” Shiori cried. “Don’t hurt him, please!”
“He’s one of them! They killed your mother! They tried to kill me!”
“It’s all a lie!” Shiori screamed at the top of her lungs.
“It’s not a lie! It’s them!”
“Maybe it was destiny...” Katsumi laughed.
Shiori shot her eyes to the other Toushi, begging. “It’s not true!”
“Oh, it’s not? Look at your father!” Katsumi scathed.
“What are you talking about?!” Scorpius yelled.
“Oh, she never told you?” Katsumi chuckled in delight.
“Told us what?!”
“Haven’t you ever wondered why Shiori has never been with a man? Why she pushes everyone away?”
“It’s not true!” Shiori cried, tears pouring from her eyes.
“I can see why you’d think that. You thought both your parents died together but that’s not the way it’s supposed to go, is it Shiori?” Katsumi grinned. “Only one of them is supposed to die...and look, it happened!”
“She never told you, did she, Albus?” Katsumi said, gripping Al’s hair tighter. “The Saito blood line is cursed!”
“Before she died, Soushen placed a curse on Saito! That all those that follow in his blood line would find true love and then have it stripped from them before their due time! Every single Saito throughout the ages has lost the person they loved the most! They die when they are young, happy and in excruciating pain! Her father is proof of that!”
Shiroi’s father looked away as his daughters eyes found him. It couldn’t be true. The Saito curse was real!
Al couldn’t believe it. Was this why she had tried to force him away? Why hadn’t she told him about this?
“And now look Albus...it’s your turn,” she smiled evilly. “Look on the bright side Al; at least you know she does love you.”
“No!” Shiroi yelled but the Toko Clansmen shoved their guns in her face.
“Doesn’t a dying man get a last request?” Al said simply.
Katsumi looked towards Shiori’s father, hoping he’d say no.
“Humor him,” he said.
Katsumi huffed in annoyance but let him up.
“I have a confession to make,” Al said solemnly. He carefully reached into his back pocket and pulled something out, taking care not to give the guards reason to shoot him. “I should have done this a long time ago...”
He walked over to the nearest pipe, shadowed by a armed guard, unfolded the piece of paper in his hand and stuck it down.
Even Shiori’s red, tear filled eyes suddenly turned to confusion. Rose’s mouth gapped open and Scorpius looked like he had seen a ghost. There was a moving picture on the paper.
A moving picture of Scorpius dancing in his underwear.
All eyes turned back to Al and some of the guards started to laugh.
“I’m sorry...It was me...”
“You...” Scorpius breathed.
“Yeah, I’m sorry, but...” Al started to laugh as he looked at the picture again. Even with everything that was happening, the pain that Shiori was in and the certain death they had walked into, the sight of his best friend bouncing around in his undies was still hilarious. “You gotta admit, it’s funny!”
Half of them were simply stunned by what Al had just done the other half had started laughing uncontrollably. This was how Al chose to spend his last request? By humiliating his best friend one last time?!”
“Come on, you gotta laugh! Even the henchmen are laughing!” Al said, pointing to the guard right next to him.
“Its. Not. Funny!” Scorpius spat.
Albus elbowed the guard next to him in the face, grabbed his gun and started blasting in all directions. Scorpius and Rose hit the deck and Shiori lunged at Katsumi causing the hijacked wands to fall out of her pocket. Al shot down the three men behind his friends, before whacking the guy next to him again.
“Move!” he yelled.
Rose grabbed their wands off the ground and the three of them took cover while Shiori and Katsumi began doing battle in the center.
They were four against forty but they weren’t going down without a fight!
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