One by one the other leaders of the resistance fell but strangely Skulduggery's spirit did not move on. His bones had been placed in a bag and thrown in a river, but Skulduggery was somehow able to go into the bag, reattach his bones and quite literally pull himself together. He then returned, and with his help the resistance was able to defeat Mevolent whose minions were either imprisoned or rehabilitated, Serpine included. Another of Mevolent's henchmen, Baron Vengeous, was personally tracked down by Skulduggery, who threw a stick of lit dynamite at him. A truce was signed between the Sanctuaries and the former followers of Mevolent and an uneasy peace began. After Mevolent's defeat, Skulduggery became a detective, but he never lost his hatred for and desire for revenge on Serpine. During the war, Skulduggery was part of a group, ironically named the Dead Men, as they would always come back from suicide missions alive. Ghastly Bespoke, who Skulduggery has known since they were young sorcerers, and Erskine Ravel are some of the members.
Battle vs. Darth Bane (by Wassboss)Edit
Skulduggery Pleasant is walking though a bare and barren wasteland looking around for danger. Meanwhile Darth bane is practising his lightsaber skills when he hears the sound of footsteps heading towards his location. He picks up his fire whip and goes to investigate. He sees Skulduggery and decides to try and ambush him. He follows him for a short while before Skulduggery stops unexpectedly. He turns around and says “Couldn’t walk quieter could you” he says sarcastically.
Darth bane charges at skulduggery waving his fire whip around in a circle trying to confuse him. Skulduggery waits till he is near then whips out the sceptre of the ancients and fires a beam lightning at him. Darth bane narrowly dodges then lashes the whip forward pulling the sceptre out of his hands and snapping it on the floor below. He then lasso’s skulduggery’s hand and pulls forward. However skulduggery holds his ground and yanks on the whip himself pulling bane over. He then boots him in the face and says “Fire won’t work on me” he says smiling “I’m a skeleton. He then pulls the whip out of his hands and throws it aside and proceeds to take out his gun.
Bane, thinking quickly, kicks it out of skulduggery’s hand and runs back to where he left his lightsaber. Skulduggery picks up the gun and gives chase firing two shots after him both missing their target. Bane grabs his lightsaber from beside a rock and throws it at skulduggery but he duck and it goes soaring over his head. He laughs and says “Is that all you got”.
“No” says bane as the lightsaber comes back and knocks skulduggery’s hat off “this is”. He then grabs the lightsaber and runs at skulduggery. Still holding his gun skulduggery fires three more shots at bane. Bane simply defects them with his lightsaber and continues to run at him. Skulduggery puts his gun away saving the last bullet in case he needs it. He then snaps his fingers and a flame appears in his hand. Then throws it at bane but again it is deflected by the lightsaber.
“Crap” he says and turns and runs off hoping to get some back up.
Bane laughs and throws the lightsaber at skulduggery the handle hitting him in the back of the head. Skulduggery falls face first into the dry, hard ground. Bane grabs the lightsaber as it comes back and walks over to him savouring the moment. When he reaches him he flips him over onto his back. He lifts the lightsaber over his head and says mockingly “Any last words”.
“Yes” says Skulduggery a smile creeping over where his face would be “you idiot”. He then snaps his fingers and sends a ball of fire smashing into banes chest sending him flying back. Bane pulls himself up just in time to see skulduggery charge at him sword in hand. He does a weak swing which skulduggery easily dodges before thrusting the sword into banes leg. Bane screams in pain and swings the lightsaber slicing the sword cleanly in two.
Skulduggery amazed steps back and says with a hint of worry “Tanith won’t be happy about that”.
“I think that is the least of you worries” says Darth bane as he thrusts the lightsaber at skulduggery who easily dodges.
“Shut up” he says and kicks the lightsaber out of his hand. He then punches bane in the stomach, knees him in the crotch then brings his elbow down on his head. Bane however quickly uses force lightning witch hits the ground right between skulduggery’s feet. Skulduggery is unfazed as he pulls out his gun and puts it too banes temple.
“No” he says “I can’t lose its impossible”.
Skulduggery smiles and says “Nothing is impossible” and he pulls the trigger.
Winner: Skulduggery Pleasant
While Darth bane had mastered the force and was superior in close range combat it was Skulduggery’s quick thinking and firearms that won him the battle.
War is riding ruin through a desolate and barren wasteland. He is still confused after his encounter with the squid faced demon. He has never faced a creature with such skill, such power, such greed. These thoughts swirl round his head as he rides along.
Skulduggery pleasant is watching from a distance. He knows this being from the rumours he has heard and pictures he has seen. But something is different, something has changed. Ever since he was almost killed in battle by a mysterious sorcerer he is more cautious. He unholsters his pistol and aims at ruin.
War senses all is not right and pulls on the reins stopping ruin in its tracks. He listens out for any noise; the slightest sound could give away a potential attacker. Skulduggery however has had years of experience and gives nothing away. He lines his shot up perfectly and fires.
The bullet hits ruin square in the forehead sending it crashing down. War leaps off ruin before it hits the ground and rushes too its side. He checks for any sign of life but he finds nothing. Another bullet scrapes his shoulder and he unholsters mercy and fires into the direction it came from. Skulduggery jumps behind cover but is struck in the shoulder. He shouts in pain and pulls the bullet out. War having run out of ammo pulls out a cross blade and sneaks round the side of the rock skulduggery is hiding behind. He stands motionless waiting for the slightest movement, the slightest sound. Slowly skulduggery peeks round the side of the rock checking for any sign of war. Seeing nothing he steps out from behind the rock and the cross blade flies past his head. He fires his gun in the direction of the projectile and scores several hits in war.
War winches in pain but he is much too tough to be taken down by a few measly projectiles. He pulls out his scythe and swings it at skulduggery who easily dodges it. He then clicks his fingers and a flame appears in his hands. He fires it at war catching him off guard and hitting him square in the chest. War beats out the flames and goes for an under arm chop almost taking off skulduggery’s arm. Skulduggery responds by sending a barrage of fireball at war knocking him to the floor.
War rolls around trying to extinguish the flames dropping his scythe in the process. Skulduggery unsheathes Tanith low’s sword and stabs it downwards at war who, having now put out the flames, dodges out of the war and unsheathes his own sword. Skulduggery looks up in amazement at the size of the sword which gives war a once in a life time opportunity. He swings the sword and hits skulduggery sending him flying.
Skulduggery lands with and thud his sword shattering on the floor beside him. He pulls himself up and clutches his broken arm. War seeing his chance charges at skulduggery. Just as he is about to hit skulduggery again his sword is disintegrated before his very eyes. He looks at skulduggery in amazement and sees him holing a sceptre with a black ruby in the middle. Skulduggery smiles and levels it at war who is still in utter shock. Skulduggery smiles and fires the blast disintegrating war instantly.
Skulduggery whips out his phone and dials a number. The phone rings for a bit before someone answers the phone. “Hello who is this”. “Hello Kenspeckle it’s me Skulduggery i seem to have broken my arm”. There is sigh from the other caller.
“Ok come over and tell me all about it”.
Winner: Skullduggery Pleasant
While war had the superior weapons it was skulduggery’s training in fighting much more dangerous foes that won him the day.
Battle vs. Yoshikage Kira (by Wassboss)Edit
So, an Irishman walks into a Sanctuary....Edit
“The Bentley is getting strange looks. But then again it always does. However it’s getting even more strange looks than usual, you don’t get many Bentley’s in Japan,” Skulduggery muses to himself. It also occurs to him that he could’ve just left it in Ireland; it certainly would’ve saved him on shipping costs. He shrugs to himself and takes the turn into a multi storey car park and heads right down to the bottom level. Parking the Bentley, making sure that it is nowhere near any of the other cars to avoid scratches; he strolls casually alongside the far wall. He mentally counts the pillars until he reaches the 7th one along and stops. He peers up into the darkness and can just about make out the faint outline of a camera. The lens zooms in on him and the wall next to the pillar opens up, revealing a pristine chrome hallway. As soon as he steps through the opening it closes silently behind him and he walks down the lengthy corridor until he reaches a door at the end. Pushing it open reveals a large oval foyer with an ornate fountain dead centre, large orange Koi swimming leisurely within.
Almost immediately a young woman is there to greet him, flanked by two cleavers and clutching a clipboard. “Skulduggery Pleasant” she asks.
“The one and only”
“If you’d like to follow me, Elder Ryuu has been expecting you.” She waves away the Cleavers who return to wherever they are posted and leads Skulduggery towards one of the many doorways around the foyer.
“Security is tight here I see,” Skulduggery says.
“Indeed it is Mr Pleasant. Security has stepped up since the investigation began.” She opens the door and gestures for Skulduggery to enter. The room is small but roomy and at the far ends sits a desk with an elderly Japanese man sat at it. Looking up from his files he stands as Skulduggery approaches and bows.
“Please Mr Pleasant do sit down. I’m just going to get straight down to business” he continues as Skulduggery sits down. “Yumiko Hayashi, Aya Maki, Kimiko Yoshida, Rin Yukimura.” As he says each name Ryuu passes a file to Skulduggery. “Each of these women are sorcerers. Each one wields considerable influence in the magical community. And none of them have been seen or heard from in at least a week.”
“What discipline were they,” Skulduggery asks flicking through the first file.
“Aya and Kimiko were Elementals and Yumiko was an energy-thrower. Rin was a sensitive, probably the most gifted Japanese sensitive in the country. Her disappearance has caused the most outrage.”
“Must be nice knowing your disappearance isn’t considered as important as someone else’s.”
“Oh no no no, you misunderstand Mr Pleasant. We are deeply and equally concerned about any disappearance of any of our agents. But you see the other three are only young whereas Rin has been an active member of community since the war with Mevolent. A great many more people feel her absence.”
“I see. Who was the first to go missing?”
“That would be Yumiko. She didn’t report into work one day about a month ago. We sent agents round to her house but they found absolutely no trace of her.”
“Was anything missing. Clothes, money etc?”
“Not that we could find. Aya, Kimiko and Rin all disappeared under similar circumstances. Nobody saw anything suspicious, friends and family didn’t report any unusual behaviour.” Skulduggery finishes looking through the final file.
“I’ll need to visit each of the missing’s places of residence.”
“There is no need Mr Pleasant, our own detectives have already completed extensive studies of those scenes.”
“Nevertheless I’ll need to review each place for myself to make sure they didn’t miss anything.”
Ryuu stiffens at this. “I can assure you that my detectives are some of the finest in the entire country. With all due respect what do you think you’ll find that they didn’t?” Skulduggery raises his eyebrow at this. Or at least he would if he had any eyebrows.
“I don’t know. That’s why I need to go there myself.”
“Fine then. If it will help with your investigation I’ll get one of our agents to sort out all of the details.” He stands suddenly and Skulduggery matches him. “I’m afraid that’s all the information I can personally give to you Mr Pleasant. Our Administrator will take you to the team working on the investigation.” He says the woman from before appears at the doorway. Skulduggery nods and tucks the files under his arm and heads out of the room, his mind already digesting and sorting the files he’s just read, with one thought constantly at the forefront...
Who could be responsible for these disappearances?
Kosaku Kawajiri Wants to Live QuietlyEdit
It’s five o’clock in the evening and the workers of Morioh filter out of their offices, row upon rows of people trudging back to their homes weary from the day’s work. Amongst them is a medium height man with black spiky hair, wearing a white suit with a pink shirt and an unusual skull themed tie. His co-workers would tell you that this man is Kosaku Kawajiri but they wouldn’t be able to tell you much else about him. He’s quiet, plain looking and generally unassuming, he comes in, does his work and goes home at the end of the day like any normal person. But little do these people know that masked by this meek exterior is the twisted mind of a murderous psychopath. A twisted mind already thinking about his next murder...
“My nails are growing again” Yoshikage Kira thinks to himself. “It’s only been a week.” His mind drifts back to his latest victim, how soft her hand felt on his cheek, nails the perfect firmness as they pressed into his skin. He smiles at the memory. “Too bad I could only keep hold of her for a day”. His smile quickly evaporates at the thought. In this month alone he’s already killed four women but each and every time he’s been forced to discard them within a day and all because of that brat Hayato. He doesn’t even need to look around to guess he’s probably following him now with that blasted camera of his, documenting his every move. When he was out shopping with his mother, Kira had snooped around his room and found several videos of him, including one with him holding his latest ‘girlfriend’ and he’d been forced to use Killer Queen to destroy them. “That’ll give that little brat some food for thought” Kira thinks as he recalls the look of defeat on Hayato’s face when he realised his evidence was gone. The thought comforts him as he continues his journey home.
He pauses at the door of the Kawajiri household. Shinobu will be waiting for him in there, no doubt ready to show her affection in some way. “Why oh why did my life have to become so complicated. So stressful. All I want is a peaceful life” he mutters under his breath, turning the handle on the door.
Murder by the SeaEdit
The Bentley pulls up and Skulduggery steps out of the car and affixing his scarf and hat as he does so as to not alarm any mortals. He's spent most of the day travelling to each of the missing mages houses but none of them have turned up anything. Nothing has been disturbed, no foreign hair or fingerprint samples, it's almost as if Aya, Yumiko and Kimiko have just vanished into thin air. He takes the long winding path down to a small secluded beach, in the middle of which sits a modest sized bungalow, just hidden from view from the clifftops above. In the the whole beach is almost impossible to see from anywhere along the cliff's, a perfect place for a sensitive to practise her trade. The door is unlocked and he walks through the house, checking every room. There's nothing out of the ordinary, besides all the charms that sensitives are know for and he gets more and more frustrated as each room turns up nothing. He sprinkles powder in every room and each one shows no sign of magic use. Finishing in the Kitchen he raps his knuckles on the counter, his mind mentally scanning every room for any detail that might explain Rin's sudden disappearance.
Coming up with nothing he is about to leave when he spots a speck of something by the back door. Moving over to it he crouches over and immediately gets a lot more excited as he realises that the speck is in fact a tiny drop of blood. He takes a tiny pinch of powder and sprinkles it over the area and his suspicions are confirmed as it glows brightly to indicate the presence of magic. "Well, well, well" he says to himself "looks like this missing person's case just turned into a homicide.
"How did you even manage to find this? I had our best crime scene analysts scour that house and they found nothing" Skulduggery is sat in one of the sanctuary detective's office. The detective in question, Junko Takamoto is stood with her back to him facing out of the window, holding a DNA report from the blood retrieved from Rin's house.
"It doesn't matter how I found it the important thing is that it proves that Rin Yukimura was murdered."
"That's not technically true though is it. All we've found is her blood."
"Yes but she's been missing for over a week now and there's been no trace of her anywhere. If she's as powerful a sensitive as I've been lead to believe she could have gotten a message out to someone if she'd been kidnapped." The detective sighs.
"I know I know, I'm just finding it hard to believe that anyone would kill Rin, she was a good person and never had a bad word to say about anyone."
"I doubt the killer even knew her personally. I think it's safe the assume that the person who killed Rin is the same person responsible for the disappearance of the other three as well."
"Wait. So you're trying to tell me that we have a serial killer on the loose."
"That's what I suspect yes, all the crime scenes are virtually identical, a female sorcerer disappearing without a trace."
"So is this someone targeting female sorcerers or is it just a coincidence?"
"It has to be. These were all experienced mages, I'd find it hard to believe that a normal person would be to kill one let alone three mages with combat based magic. There's also the circumstances of the disappearances, there was no sign of foul play or any physical evidence at any of the scenes besides that one speck of blood at Rin's house which makes it highly unlikely it was a mortal as otherwise they would be at least a little bit of evidence. There are a number of adept disciplines that could allow for the disposal of bodies without leaving any evidence and disciplines likes Teleportation and Tunnelling means they could've grabbed their victim and transported them somewhere else to kill them without leaving a trace."
"I'll get someone to look into any criminals who've been released for Gaol's within the last 6 months. If you'd be willing to lend your help to our tracking team I'm sure we can draw up a list of any sorcerers currently in the county whose discipline enables them to do something like this."
"What about Teleporters? They wouldn't even need to be in the country to do it."
Junko waves her hand dismissively. "It won't be a Teleporter. There's only a handful of them left and none of them have any connection to Japan. I doubt any of them have even been here before." She turns away from the window and places the report on her desk. "I have to thank you Mr Pleasant if it hadn't been for you we would still be working the disappearance angle." Skulduggery nods his head as if to say "No Problem".
"I just can't believe it. I shudder to think what kind of sick depraved person would be able to kill a sensitive in cold blood"
The Mind of a Killer Edit
Yoshikage Kira lies in bed on his back staring straight up at the ceiling. He'd seen into them today. Josuke and Okuyasu, walking to school this morning as he was heading into work. He'd noticed them from a afar and had to physically hold himself back from tensing as they brushed past him and letting out a sigh of relief as soon as they had disappeared round the corner. It was even worse on his lunch break, when caught up in his own thoughts he'd bumped right into Jotaro. He'd panicked when he realised who it was and apologised profusely hoping he'd just move on but he'd stared at him, his eyes boring into his mind. "Does he recognise me?" he'd thought at the time and it took all of his self control to not bring out Killer Queen to attack him. But eventually he'd walked away and he quickened his pace to get away. He'd spent the rest of the day on edge and even now he feels an irrational anxiety that Jotaro or Josuke is going to burst through the door and snatch away his peace.
He feels the mattress shift and his eyes drift over to Shinobu who is slowly edging her way closer to where he is lying. He turns suddenly, onto his side so as to face away from her. He hears a quiet sigh of disappointment followed by the sound of her shuffling back onto her own side of the bed. She's been getting more and more bold recently, just this morning she'd tried to hug him as he left for work but he'd managed to wriggle out. "If she keeps this up I might have to get rid of her" he contemplates but he knows that until they stop looking for him he has to tread carefully and a missing housewife would be sure to gain the attention of the police. His eyes drift over to the digital alarm clock by the side of his bed which reads 23:45. "I should be asleep by now." It's been a long time since he actually got his usual eight hours sleep and he is starting to feel more tired than he used to. "Soon I will have my quiet life back. I will make them pay for how they have humiliated me." The thought comforts him and he slowly begins to drift off to sleep, where he dreams of killing his pursuers over and over again, and the sweet caress of dismembered hands.
The Thrill of the HuntEdit
It’s first thing in the morning when Skulduggery is called into Junko Takamoto’s office. She wastes no time getting straight to business. “We’ve got a possible lead”
“Yes. I’ve been personally combing through our records looking for any unusual magical occurrences over the last few months and this particular item caught my eye.” She hands him a single page, with only half actually written on.
“It says that there was a man walking down Moriah’s main shopping district, clutching at a stump where his hand should’ve been. We thought nothing of it at the time as it didn’t seem to involve any magic but it transpires that not long after that a man’s body was discovered inside the Beauty Salon Cinderella. His face was completely missing and the owner of the salon, Aya Tsuji, was nowhere to be found. Almost like she’d vanished of the face of the earth.” Skulduggery picks up the tone in her voice and looks up from the sheet.
“Aya Tsuji wouldn’t happen to be a mage by any chance would she?” he says slowly.
“Well that’s the thing, we don’t know. She was certainly never associated with the Sanctuary and no other mages seem to know who she is. But...” She hesitates.
“Well she was pretty well known in the local area as a love guru if you excuse the expression. Most of her treatments were supposed to make young girls more attractive to men they wished to pursue, she was even advertising that her treatments would help her clients make anyone they wanted fall in love with them. And from the rumours I’ve been hearing it seemed as if it was startlingly effective. Ring any bells?”
“Sounds like China Sorrow’s infatuation but I’ve never heard of such a spell being used specifically to effect one person or being used as a business model. From what I’m aware it’s quite a tricky spell to master. Nevertheless, it does seem as though Miss Tsuji may have been a sorcerer after all.”
“And if she was a sorcerer then it means that she fits right into our killer’s M.O,” Junko says, guessing his train of thought.
“This man with the missing hand, did you manage to get his identity.”
“We did. According to witness reports the man was identified as Yoshikage Kira. 33 years old, 175cm tall, works at the Morioh branch of Kameyu department store. He’s got no criminal record and nobody really has much to say about him, co-workers describe him a quiet and hardworking. He also hasn’t shown up for work in over a month and nobody has heard anything from him for just as long”
“So, are we thinking this guy is the murderer or a victim?”
“We’re not sure at this point. The body found in the beauty salon was taken, examined and ultimately cremated by the mortal law enforcement so we have no way of knowing whether that man was Yoshikage Kira or just a customer in the wrong place at the wrong time. We’ve checked out all the local hospitals but none of them had anyone who came in with injuries matching the ones reported on Kira.”
“So basically, we have nothing to go on.”
Junko sighs. “Unfortunately, yes. Since Yoshikage Kira isn’t officially recognised as a mage I’ve had to request permission from Elder Ryuu in order to search his house but as of yet I haven’t received an official response.” She lowers her voice for the next part. “That’s why I’m asking you to go snoop around his house and see what you can find.”
“But I thought we needed permission to search”
“I know what I said but we need to follow up on every lead as quickly as possible,” she interrupts, “and since you’re technically not an official sanctuary official…”
“Say no more,” he says tapping where his nose would be. Junko allows herself smiles briefly before switching the professional switch back on. “Here’s his address, if you find anything interesting make sure to let me know immediately.” Skulduggery takes the small scrap of paper and tucks it into his jacket pocket and begins to leave.
“Be sneaky Mr Pleasant” she calls after him.
“Oh, I can be very sneaky Detective, very sneaky indeed.”
“What a beautiful Duwang” Kira says to himself as he walks down the street. “Duwang” he thinks to himself “why did I say Duwang instead of town. That’s so stupid” It really is a beautiful day in Morioh, the sun is shining but there is a chill breeze wafting through the city to prevent it from becoming uncomfortably hot. His workplace has closed down for the afternoon for someone’s wedding or birthday or something, he hadn’t cared to ask and nobody cared to tell Kosaku anything. His thoughts stray to the inevitable affection he’ll receive from Shinobu when he gets home and he can’t help but feel annoyed. “At least her hands aren’t pretty” he contemplates “otherwise I don't think I'd be able to control myself.” The thought alone makes his fingers tingle. He passes many women on the street and he forces himself to look straight ahead so as to not get distracted. The lunchtime crowd begins to appear and Kira quickens his pace to avoid being caught up in the traffic. As he does he brushes against a woman walking in the opposite direction, her hand brushing his and his eyes widen.
He stops dead in his tracks, getting a few glares from those walking behind him but he doesn’t care. He cranes his neck to get a glimpse of the woman who touched him. She is short and dressed in a white top and black skirt, her golden hair tied back in a ponytail, her red heels clicking on the ground as she walks. But Kira doesn’t notice any of that. All he can focus on is her hands. Soft, gentle, the nails trimmed short and painted a scarlet red to match her shoes. “Perfection. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something so beautiful.” His nails instantly start growing and he can feel the beginnings of sweat. “No,” he whispers to himself, “I mustn’t. This is too many. Too quickly. Jotaro will be sure to suspect.”
He tries to look away but his eyes keep on getting drawn back, his nails growing even more. His eyes dart around and he feels the fluttering feeling of joy as he realises Hayato is nowhere to be found, he’ll still be in school at this time. “Fate is really shining down of Yoshikage Kira today” he says and he changes direction, following his instincts, giving into his desires.
Being sneaky wasn’t going to be as easy as he thought. It was already going to be hard when driving something as inconspicuous as the Bentley but it didn’t get any easier when, having arrived at the property, Skulduggery realised that not only was the house surrounded by a wall and gate but many of the houses around it had children playing in the front gardens, enjoying the fine weather. He’d paced around the perimeter for almost half an hour until he was certain that nobody was watching before using the air to boost himself over the wall, landing silently on the other side. He takes in the layout of the area with a quick look and carefully sneaks over to the front door. “The old traditional Japanese screen door. So easy to break into” he mummers, sliding it open and stepping inside. A photograph is blown into the villa on a gentle breeze and slips through the crack as the door closes, unnoticed by the Skeleton Detective.
Kira watches from a distance as the woman walks up to the front door of her house, fumbling around in her bag. He observes as she curses and abandons her search, instead just pressing her finger onto the doorknob and the door opens with a click. Waiting until she has closed the door behind her, he emerges from the tree he was watching her from behind. Cautiously he makes his way up the steps to the door and tests the handle but it barely budges. Locked. He checks around to make sure nobody is around before summoning Killer Queen to his side. It taps the lock gently and activates the bomb, destroying the locking mechanism without any fuss. He pushes the door open and steps into the house, feeling a strange sensation as he does. There is something different about this place than the other homes he has visited but he just can’t put his finger on it.
He shrugs it off and continues on through into the living room area, listening carefully for any sounds that give away the location of his prey. He hears the faint clinking of a spoon on a cup and quietly walks past the staircase and stands in the doorway of the kitchen. He peeks his head through and frowns as he sees that there is nobody there. He steps fully into the kitchen and notices a freshly brewed tea sitting on the dining room table, the spoon moving independently of any input. He suddenly hears the sound of pattering feet coming down the stairs and turns on his heel, striding back towards the living room. The pattering gets closer and then the creaking of a foot on a floorboard as somebody jumps the last few steps. He steps through into the lounge and as he does he hears a strangled grunt. The woman has fallen flat on her front; Killer Queen’s crouched with his foot out behind her. Kira lifts her off the ground and forcefully shoves her away from the windows. She sprawls on the ground and looks up at him with fear in her eyes.
“P-P-Please don’t kill me” she gasps. Her accent is foreign. American, Canadian maybe.
“What is your name” Kira asks.
“Your name girl, what is it”
“Melody. Hmm, Melo-day” he says testing out the pronunciation. “Well Melody my name is Yoshikage Kira.” He leans down and gently raises her hand to his face. “You fingers are so soft Melody, they remind me of my mother’s hands when she used to wash my face. These are quite possibly the most beautiful hands that I’ve ever seen.” He closes his eyes and continues to rub her fingers against his cheek. Sensing an opportunity she swings at him with her free hand but just as she is about to connect a pink gloved hand grabs hold of her wrist. Killer Queen narrows its eyes at her and she sags. She never was much of a fighter. She starts sobbing softly.
“There’s no need to cry Melody, soon this will all be over.” Kira rises slowly and releases her hand. “I have a favour to ask of you Melody.” He reaches into his pocket and takes out a nail clipper. “Could you trim my nails for me? They’ve been growing ever so quickly recently.” Confused at the sudden turn of events, Melody takes the clippers and looks up at the stranger, trembling. “Well, what are you waiting for?” Seeing no other option, Melody carefully begins cutting the nails on his outstretched hand as Kira stands over her.
The powder creates a colourful concoction as it settles on the ground in Kira’s household. There has been magic used here, lots of it, recently too. “Looks like there was a fight here” Skulduggery says as he looks at the destroyed window. As he explores the rest of the house he notices several other things amiss, many of the draws are pulled open as are the cupboards and wardrobe in the main bedroom. A botched robbery? Or was somebody looking for something specific? He spots a glass jar lying on the floor with something scattered around it. He bends down to examine one of the things and quickly recognises it as a fingernail. “Why would somebody collect fingernails? Souvenirs, Research” Skulduggery collects several of the nails for evidence and his eyes are drawn to a small notebook which sits on the table. He flicks through the pages which are all filled with measurements and dates. “Research it would seem.” He pockets the book as well and continues on through the house.
He examines some of the family pictures but none of them seem to be of much relevance. Several trophies and certificates as well but none of them are first place or even second no, every single one is third place. “Somebody was obviously very average” he mummers. Nothing else really stands out and he starts to leave. As he does he happens to glance at a small table sat by the door. There’s a picture there of an old man, crouched down staring right into the lens. Skulduggery pauses and uses the air to pull the picture towards him. There’s something unsettling about the man in the picture, not least the fact that all of the background around him is completely black. On instinct he slips this into his breast pocket and leaves the house, slipping through bars in the gate by compressing the frame in his clothes.
Walking back to the Bentley he doesn’t notice as the picture slowly begins to slide out of his pocket. A sharp noise catches his attention and as he turns his head the picture floats away in the summer breeze, the old man’s expression changing to that of worry.
Norio Fjuimoto hates surveillance. It’s so boring and barely anything interesting ever happens. Ever since Rin Yukimura’s disappearance the Japanese Sanctuary has surveillance on all known female sorcerers within a 20 mile radius of S City. Norio takes a bite of his sandwich and eases himself down onto a bench opposite Melody’s house. “I don’t mind keeping an eye on Melody; she’s alright I suppose" he thinks to himself. He’s spoken to her a few times and she seems pretty cool, always talking on about her books. Norio never really cared much for the history of magic or any of that crap but when Melody talks about it he suddenly finds it a lot more interesting. He smiles to himself. “Can’t believe I have a crush on her, she’s over twice my age. Maybe I should suggest I can conduct my surveillance better if I stay in the house with her.” He chuckles softly and takes another bite of his sandwich, just as Melody’s door opens. He sits up a bit straighter expectantly but his good mood quickly evaporates when he sees the person coming out of the door.
The person coming out of Melody’s door isn’t Melody, it’s a man. A man he’s never seen before. He quickly darts behind the cover of the bench and he realises how stupid he must look to anyone who’s just walked past. He swallows slowly as the man closes the door behind him, walks down the steps and looks around, as if making sure that nobody is watching him and peeks into his jacket pocket. Seemingly satisfied the man takes the right path which leads back into Morioh. Norio waits until the man is almost at the corner before quickly following after him. He tails him from a distance, making not to raise suspicion but he needn’t have bothered, the man doesn’t even turn around once. Passing a trash can he chucks the rest of his sandwich in there. “Why the hell did I have to wander off? Damn St. Gentleman’s and their delicious sandwiches.” He briefly loses sight of his target and hurries to catch up and spots him just as he enters a house.
Norio takes a moment to compose himself and casually strolls over to the address and takes a look at the post-box. Kawajiri Household. He has to report this to Detective Takamoto, this could be the big break in the case, and he could be the one to finally catch this sick bastard they’ve been looking for. He’s about to turn and leave when something catches his eye. Looped around one of the fence posts is something shiny and Norio’s heart sinks as he recognises it as the bracelet that Melody always wears. “There’s no way she’d ever take this off.” He picks it up and turns it over in his hands. He clenches his hand in anger and looks up at the house...
He’s in the window.
Norio stiffens as he gazes into the eyes of the man he’s been following. He looks calm but his eyes are hard. Norio’s seen eyes like that many times before. Those are the eyes of a killer. The silent standoff stretches on for what seems like an age. Then without warning the man raises his right hand, his thumb extended. Norio flinches befuddled. “Is he giving me thumbs up?” He remains confused as another figure appears in the window. It’s tall, threatening and...
Pink. Very pink. Looks quite a lot like a cat actually. It’s also giving him a thumbs up. “Who the hell is this psycho?” The man’s mouth moves as if he’s saying something but Norio can’t hear him so he has no idea what he’s trying to say. He starts to lower his thumb and it’s at that moment it hits him. That’s not a thumbs up.
It’s a detonator.
Norio looks down at the bracelet and then back at the window just as the thumb clicks down. He looks back down again and his hand disappears in a fiery mess. He opens his mouth to scream but the blast spreads too fast and he is quickly enveloped in a flaming explosion of death. The bracelet drops to the ground as his ashes are blown away by the wind.
Yoshikage Kira smiles as he watches his glorious explosion. Yoshihiro floats up to the window next to him and wrings his hands in delight. “I told you there was someone following you Yoshikage.”
“You were quite right father.”
“There was somebody at the house earlier as well, snooping around.” Yoshikage’s smile quickly fades as the reality hits him. He turns away from the window and sits down on the bed, his face in his hands.
“Why can’t they just leave me to be in peace? Why must they always hunt me? Prosecute me. All I want to do is live quietly.”
“I know my son, I know. They don’t understand you. They don’t understand anything.”
Kira ignores him. “This is worse than I thought. It’s not just those pesky Joestars. Now there are others involved as well. Are they working with Jotaro?” Yoshihiro goes to comfort him but Kira waves him away.
“Don’t worry my precious Yoshikage I’ll keep watching out for them. I’ll follow their every move and help you in any way I can. If I still had the arrow I’d make a dozen new stand users to go after them. I’ll make sure that you can live the life you desire. Starting with that pesky man at our house earlier.”
Dead Men can't have Heart AttacksEdit
“What do you mean he’s gone missing?” a loud voice sounds from Elder Ryuu’s office. Skulduggery enters the room to find Elder Ryuu and Junko stood at the far end of the room. Ryuu has his back turned to them and Junko has her head down, obviously having received a stern warning.
“Agent Fujimoto hasn’t reported back to us in two days. He was acting as surveillance on Melody Psalms, an American sorcerer who sought sanctuary here after the war. She was a worshipper of the Faceless Ones but she is relatively harmless. During th-“
“I don’t want to hear her entire history Detective. I assume she’s gone missing too?”
“Unfortunately yes. We sent Agents round to her house but there was no answer and we found the door unlocked. We’re sending our team down as we speak to check out the area”
“Do you have any idea what this is doing to our reputation?” Ryuu snaps whirling around. “Detective Pleasant how nice of you to join us,” he continues sarcastically. Junko turns quickly and on seeing Skulduggery her face drops.
“Another female mage has disappeared?”
“Not just a female mage Detective Pleasant a sanctuary agent sent to watch her has also gone missing.”
“I see. I couldn’t help overhearing that you’re sending a team down to the residence. I should go with them to aid with the investigation.”
“I don’t think so Detective.” Skulduggery cocks his head.
“I don’t understand sir.”
“We don’t need you at the scene; I’ve got my top detectives on the case.”
“With all due respect sir I’m here to help solve this case and I can’t do that if you won’t let me examine the crime scene.”
“And with all due respect to you Detective we don’t need your input. My detectives will hand you over their findings once they’ve finished.”
“Yes but surely I can be of some assistance at the scene itself. After all I did manage to make the breakthrough in Rin’s disappearance after visiting her home.”
“Just who do you think you are Mr Pleasant” Ryuu snaps suddenly.
“You came here to assist us on this case, not take over the whole thing. Are you trying to say my detectives are incompetent? That they’ll miss something that the great Skeleton Detective will miss?”
“Not at all sir. I just don’t see why I can’t visit the scene and help out.”
“You’re just as arrogant as they say you are. You think you’re better than them. Think that you’ll find something that they can’t. I know all about your little visit to that house the other day. Who the hell told you about that?” Junko looks at Skulduggery with fear in her eyes but he remains collected.
“I was doing some investigating of my own, looking into unusual things that have happened around here recently and came across a report I believe indicated that a man called Yoshikage Kira had something to do with these murders so I went to his house to try and find any evidence to support this theory.”
“I don’t care. You don’t go breaking into mortal’s houses without express permission from an elder and you broke that rule.”
“Well technically since I don’t actually work for this sanctuary I’m not bound by that particular rule.”
“Don’t get technical with me Detective. Besides none of the “evidence” you obtained from this man’s house was of any relevance to our investigation. You are right about one thing though you are not a part of this sanctuary otherwise I’d have you locked up for breach of mortal rights. But that also means that you have no right to go to any scene under investigation if your actions are not approved by an elder first. Do you understand that Detective Pleasant.”
“Yes Elder Ryuu.”
“Good. I’m glad we understand each other. When my team have finished their own investigation you are free to look at their notes and findings but you are not allowed to go and investigate that house are we clear?” Skulduggery nods his head.
“Very well. Is there anything else you needed to talk to me about Detective Takamoto?” Ryuu says sitting down at his desk.
“Then you are dismissed. You too Mr Pleasant.” Ryuu goes back to his work as Junko and Skulduggery leave. As soon as they are out of earshot she turns to him.
“Thank you for not ratting me out back there. I should never have told you to go investigate that house. Just look at the damage this has caused. I’m sure I haven’t made your own investigation any easier.”
“I admit this this is an obstacle I could have done without but I don’t blame you for trying to do your job. Sure it didn’t turn up anything but we have to make sure to look into every possibility. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a call to make.”
Skulduggery drives the Bentley out of the Sanctuary car park and finds a quite spot near the city centre. Taking out his phone he dials a number and waits for the person on the other line to answer.
“Hello this is the Library of China Sorrows how may I help you today?”
“I need to speak to China immediately.”
“Of course Mr Pleasant I shall fetch her right away.” The line goes quiet for a short time before…
“Hello my dear. How is your investigation going?”
“That’s supposed to be top secret classified information.”
“But of course Skulduggery you can’t have just anybody know about such a series of disappearances in a foreign country that have gotten so out of hand they needed to get the famous Skeleton Detective in to take over can you.”
“Well that’s the reason I’m calling you actually. Do you remember the name Melody Psalms?” There’s a short pause on the other end.
“Melody Psalms. Now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. She was a worshipper of the Faceless Ones you know. Pretty popular in Mevolent’s inner circle.”
“She must have been dangerous then.”
“Well no actually. Didn’t have a violent bone in her. She spent most of her times writing poems and songs. She was Mevolent’s most highly revered bard after all. How is she doing?”
“Is she? Oh dear. Do we know the culprit?”
“No and that’s the problem. We don’t even have a body. All we know is that Melody and the agent assigned to watch her went missing two days ago.”
“So she’s the latest mage to be murdered then”
Skulduggery frowns inwardly. “How did you know that? That’s even more classified.”
“I have my sources. But anyway why are you calling me about this. Surely you could’ve got this information from the Japanese Sanctuary.”
“Well the thing is about that I’ve had a very tense meeting with Elder Ryuu and he’s basically refused to let me know anything until his own detectives have checked out the scene.”
“The Scene? So, they know where she was murdered then.”
“Yes. In her house.” There’s another pause from the other line.
“Now that is a surprise. Melody wasn’t just a religious lunatic you know. She was a paranoid religious lunatic. She jumped at every loud noise, had her food poison checked and spent hours worrying herself about non-existent plots to kill her. She practically begged me to teach her how to carve protective symbols and if there’s one thing that makes my heart melt it’s some good grovelling. I think it’s safe to assume that she had wherever she was living fitted out with a dozen different alarm sigils especially after that shaky Truce old Mevolent supporters were given after the war.”
“Now that is interesting. That means either she knew her killer or...”
“Someone disabled them before entering” China finishes.
“What if the sigil was tripped though? What if she was alerted to someone breaking in but didn’t manage to escape in time?”
“That could be a possibility. Were there any signs of a struggle?”
“Well that’s the thing, I don’t know where she lives, that information was not divulged to me and I doubt Ryuu is in any hurry to get me enlightened on that piece of information. I was actually wondering if you knew her address actually.”
“I have no idea but I can get someone to find out. For the right price, of course.”
“Surely you wouldn’t charge a friend for something so trivial.”
“Of course, I wouldn’t dream of it. So how will you be paying, Cash or Card?”
Skulduggery sighs. “I’ll pay you when I get back. How soon can you get the information over to me?”
“Well it all depends on how popular Melody was after the war. If she still had a lot of friends then not long at all. If she’s become more reclusive then it could take a couple of days.”
“I need that information today China. If I don’t then more people could end up dying.”
“You seem to be under the impression I care. I’ll see what I can do but I’m making no promises.”
“Thanks China.” Skulduggery ends the call and pulls out into the road, unaware he’s being watched…
Later that evening, long after the detectives have left Melody’s house, a taxi pulls up on the other side of the road. Skulduggery Pleasant steps out of the back seat and hands the driver the fare, waiting for him to pull away and drive off into the night before carefully sneaking towards the building. He moves silently around the house until he reaches the back door. Checking to make sure the coast is clear he bends down and picks the lock. As he enters he doesn’t feel any sigils being tripped, the agents who were here earlier had probably disabled them while completing their investigation. Nothing seems out of the ordinary in the kitchen and moving into the living room the only signs that anyone has been in here recently is the crime scene markers left by the Sanctuary. Taking extra care not to disturb anything he notices a small mark of the carpet next to one of the markers, a drop of blood most likely.
Skulduggery makes his way upstairs, finding nothing of interest in either the bathroom or bedroom. Stepping into the study he notices that the chair is pushed away from the desk, as if somebody got up in a hurry. A close inspection reveals that a sheet of paper in the middle of the desk has been written on but whoever was writing it had obviously stopped abruptly as the last word is incomplete. “So, she was either attacked here or something startled her. I wonder if he sigils did activate after all. The blood on the carpet suggests she made it downstairs before she was caught and she didn’t fight back otherwise there would be signs of a struggle. Whoever it was must’ve taken her by surprise,” Skulduggery muses to himself.
He heads back down the stairs into the living room. “I saw a basement window when I came through the back door but I can’t seem to find an entrance anywhere.” His eyes drift to a reclining chair in the centre of the room, the floorboards around which are worn down, as if it has been moved around often. Pushing the chair out of the way reveals a small black latch and he opens it to find a small set of rickety stairs which lead down into the darkness. The wood creaks under his feet as he walks down them and finds himself in a large open area with symbols written all over the wall. Skulduggery recognises them immediately as the Church of Faceless Ones emblem.
“Looks as if somebody still worshipped the Dark Gods,” he mummers to himself. There are also many books scattered about, all well known Faceless Ones literature. The main table has an open book on it and Skulduggery examines it, flicking through the pages. He comes across a symbol he doesn’t recognise but he can’t quite make out the writing around the centre and clicks his hand to make a small flame to light it up a bit better. As he does he hears an unusual grating sound, like the tracks of a tank but on a much smaller scale. And then the voice.
“Look over here.”
Something blurs towards him in his peripheral vision and Skulduggery hears a clicking, as if a bomb is being set off. He instinctively leaps off to the side as a small explosion lights up the darkness. The noise deafens him momentarily but it isn’t large enough to do any real damage. He rolls into a crouch and checks his surroundings but he can’t see anybody around. “That explosion wasn’t a human.” Out of the darkness emerges a small blue sphere type object, propped up on what looks like tank treads a menacing bestial skull on the front. It slowly rolls towards him and Skulduggery gathers a ball of fire in his hands ready to attack. The object suddenly shoots forward and he thrusts the flames towards it. The sphere explodes the blast much more powerful than the previous one and the blast throws him back towards the basement wall, forcing him to use the air to cushion the impact. Straightening up he is surprised to find that the object wasn’t destroyed by the explosion, although it does look considerably more beat-up.
“That explosion wasn’t human,” the object says and continues on its path towards Skulduggery. He splays his hands out but the air seems to spread around the object rather than pushing it back. The displaced air continues on and knocks over several of the items on the table behind it, including a lamp which turns on a falls onto its side, shattering under the impact, the books underneath quickly set ablaze. The object suddenly changes direction and heads straight for the flaming inferno. This time the explosion is powerful enough to shatter the basement window and rock the room, forcing Skulduggery to create an air barrier to protect himsel. "What the hell is this thing."
Then it suddenly clicks in his mind.
“It’s attracted to heat. That’s why it didn’t attack me until I used my magic because I don’t give off any body heat. But why was it heading towards me after that?” Just as the thought occurs to him he feels the warm breeze wafting from behind him. He turns his head see a small portable heater on the table behind him, lying on its side and turned on. “I must’ve knocked it on after the second explosion.” He flicks the switch off and turns his attention back to the flaming table. He manipulates the water particles in the air and creates a small shower to douse the fire. The skull sphere is somehow still intact but without any heat to head towards it is just rolling around aimlessly on the table. All of a sudden it shoots through the air towards the broken basement window. A man is crouched down, his face obscured and hand reaching out.
Skulduggery’s gun is immediately in his hand. “Don't move” he shouts and the figure jerks in surprise. He quickly stands and runs off, the sphere object following after him. “What part of don't move does nobody ever seem to understand,” he mutters and dashes over to the window and squeezes through the narrow gap. He spots the object swerve round a corner and runs after it. He keeps his hand out in front of him, reading the disturbances in the air. He picks up the shape of a man running, about 100 metres ahead of him. He follows the shape as it makes its way through streets of Morioh, which are mostly empty at this time of night, slowly gaining on his target. When he’s about 30 metres away the disturbances suddenly become much larger and as he turns a corner he almost runs into a large group of people, obviously walking back from a local bar.
“Dammit” Skulduggery curses, pushing through the group and getting a number of annoyed looks. He follows the road up and comes to a four way zebra crossing. He tries reading the air but he can’t pick up anything. He could always pick a direction at random and hope for the best but it would probably be a complete waste of time. “I almost had him as well. I didn’t even get a good look of his face otherwise I could at least know what I’m looking for.” Shaking his head in annoyance, Skulduggery can do nothing more than head back to the Sanctuary to see if any of the detectives have any information for him.
Back pressed against the front door of the Kawajiri household, Yoshikage Kira is trying to catch his breath. He knew it was a foolish idea but he just had to check to see why Sheer Heart Attack hadn’t eliminated its target yet. “It’s a good thing I did. That man, whoever he was, seemed to have figured out how Sheer Heart Attack works.” He silently curses his father for suggesting the idea, why did he listen to that wheezing old windbag. He’d almost gotten caught, if it hadn’t been for the bar’s closing around that time he wouldn’t have had a crowd to blend into. That detective had pushed right past him as he hung back on the back end of the group. “He was right about one thing though. This man could prove to be a nuisance. If he was to run into Jotaro....” Kira can’t even bear to finish the thought.
“Darling is that you?” a voice calls from the kitchen. Kira composes himself and just as Shinobu pops her head out of the kitchen door. “I couldn’t find you anywhere. I was getting worried.”
“I was just stepping out for some fresh air.”
“Oh. That’s strange. You don’t normally do that. Oh well, as long as you’re back can you go and check on Hayato to make sure he’s gone to bed. I swear that child would spend all day on that blasted computer of his if he could.” She disappears back into the kitchen and Kira sighs, removing his shoes. He heads upstairs to his room and notices that Hayato’s door is slightly ajar. He peers in and sees him sat at his computer, typing furiously.
“You should be in bed by now son; it’s almost 11:30.” Hayato quickly closes down whatever he was doing and glares at him.
“I was just finishing some homework for school tomorrow.” Kira squints his eyes suspiciously as Hayato turns off the computer.
“Okay then. Goodnight” he says but Hayato doesn’t respond. Closing the door he clenches his fist in anger. “Disrespectful little brat. If that was my son I’d give him a beating for his rudeness. And why did he close his computer down so quickly? Could he have more tapes of me?” Kira makes a mental note to check it out when he gets the chance. He hears Shinobu making her way up the stairs and scurries of to his room to get ready for bed.
The clock strikes 12 and signals the start of a new day. Most people would be tucked up in bed by now but at the Japanese Sanctuary there’s always somebody working. Junko stifles a yawn as she sits in the office of Elder Ryuu while he reads over the reports on Melody Psalm’s house. “Not much to go on really is there.”
“Unfortunately not sir. Besides the speck of blood, which we’ve identified as Melody’s there wasn’t any physical evidence.”
“This is starting to get worrying now Detective Takamoto. No matter how many mages go missing this killer never seems to give away any clues.”
“I know sir. We’re doing our best but I feel the intervention of Detective Pleasant might be necessary.”
Ryuu looks up from the report. “Don’t tell me you’ve fallen for his arrogant bluster. Our team is more than capable of handling this case.”
“With all due respect sir, we’re not. If it wasn’t for Mr Pleasant we would still be working the missing persons angle after all it was his investigation of Rin Yukimura’s house that uncovered the blood speck that suggests she was murdered. I know we have a fine team but we need his help and we need him to be granted the same access as our own detectives.” Ryuu observes her for a while.
“Very well then Detective. I trust your professional opinion. I will grant Mr Pleasant the same access as our operatives.” He leans forward. “But that means he is bound by our Sanctuary rules and must follow our protocol. If he steps out of line again like he did by breaking into that house then he will have to be removed from the case. Does that sound fair to you Detective?”
“Good,” Ryuu says and relaxes back in his chair. “I believe you had something else you wanted to show me.” Junko takes a small envelope out of her pocket and slides it across the table. Ryuu picks up the envelope, reads the name written on the front and removes the picture within. “An agent took this picture earlier this week. We’ve heard of this man before in passing. We don’t know much about him all we know that he’s a mage and a powerful one at that. We’ve spoken to couple of people who’ve crossed him in the past and they all speak with great fear about their encounters with him. From what we’ve uncovered he arrived in Morioh a couple of months ago, not long before Yumiko Hayashi disappeared.”
“Do you think he’s involved?”
“We don’t know but I suggest we get somebody to keep an eye on him, to try and see if we can find anything about why he’s here. I would personally suggest that this would be a job for Detective Pleasant.”
Ryuu considers for a moment and nods his head. “That is a good suggestion Detective. It should keep him out of trouble at the very least.” He places the picture down on the desk.
“I want you to find out everything you can about Jotaro Kujo!”
Knocking on Heaven’s DoorEdit
Sitting outside a coffee shop, scarf pulled up tight around his face, Skulduggery watches his target as he stands by the street corner. The sunny summer weather has disappeared on this day and there are ominous dark clouds gathering in the skies above, threatening to soak anyone who dare brave the outside. “At least it keeps people from staring at me too much” he thinks. Jotaro Kujo, the man he’s been tailing for three days now, doesn’t seem to be at all concerned by the weather and is perfectly still, almost as if he is carved out of stone. He’s been keeping a careful note of all the people he’s met over the last few days, admittedly not many and even bugged the hire car he’s been driving but so far nothing linking him to any of the disappearances. “I don’t know why they assigned me to this job, surely they could’ve got somebody else to do it.” Of course, he knows exactly why they’ve sent him to watch this guy, it’s to make sure he doesn’t go off investigating on his own.
Jotaro checks his watch a couple of times, obviously whoever is supposed to be meeting him is late. Suddenly without warning he starts walking back into the town centre. Skulduggery follows him from a distance as he heads towards the main train station. His attention is immediately drawn to a man stood outside the main platform, taking pictures of everyone who exits the trains. He’s dressed and flamboyantly and his green hair is swept across his head. “How very odd” Skulduggery thinks and is about to put it to the back of his mind when he realises that Jotaro is making a beeline towards the photographer.
He watches as he taps him on the shoulder and the photographer turns around annoyed until he sees who it is. Skulduggery tries to read their lips to see what they’re saying but the angle isn’t great and he can only pick up a couple of words. After a brief conversation, the man starts to put his camera away and Jotaro starts to head back the way he came. Skulduggery waits for him to pass and starts to go after him when a thought pops into his mind. “I’ve had no luck following this Jotaro guy but maybe his friend over there might yield better results.” He stops in his tracks and looks back at the stranger who is walking back into the main centre of Morioh. “I don’t think the Japanese Sanctuary will be very happy if I stop surveillance on somebody right during the middle of an investigation. But something about that photographer is sending me warning signals.” He makes his mind up and takes off after the stranger.
Skulduggery tails the photographer for several hours as he wanders around the town, stopping in at a dry cleaner, grabbing a snack from a café and other mundane tasks. “I’m starting to think this wasn’t my greatest move,” he ponders as his target leaves the town centre and towards the residential areas, eventually entering one of the houses. “This is a pretty big place” he says to himself and out of curiosity he goes to check the mailbox to see the name of the mysterious stranger. Rohan Kishibe. As he looks up he sees the photographer storming towards him from the side of the house. Immediately his hand goes to his gun but before he can draw there comes a cry of “HEAVEN’S DOOR” and a ghostly figure lunges towards him and….
Rohan looks down at the unconscious body of his stalker. “Now then, let’s see who would dare to follow me.”
When Skulduggery awakens he finds himself sat on a wooden chair in the middle of a small dining room. “Wasn’t I just outside” he mummers before the memories of the encounter flood back to him. He quickly spots his hat and scarf sitting on the table at the far end of the room and frowns internally. It takes him a moment to realise that he isn’t actually tied down or restrained in anyway and he stands cautiously. As he does the man who attacked him steps through the doorway, a mug of tea in his hand. “What the hell is going on here” Skulduggery snarls and reaches for his handgun but grasps at thin air, realising his gun has been taken from him.
“Don’t worry I’ve put your weapon in a safe place, didn’t want things to get out of hand, not that you could do anything to harm me anyway,” the man says.
“We’ll see about that” Skulduggery retorts and splays his hands out but for some reason the man is not thrown back against the wall. He can feel the interlocking shapes, he can access his magic but something is holding him back. “Is this house bound” he wonders but no, he can still use magic he just can’t against this person.
“Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Rohan Kishibe. You may recognise the name as the brilliant manga artist behind the hugely popular Pink Dark Boy.”
“Can’t ever say that I have but then again I’m not from around here.”
“I can tell. You speak Japanese but your accent is unusual, I’d guess Scottish perhaps?”
“How very interesting. But enough with the small talk what I want to know from you Skeleton is why you’ve been following me around all afternoon?”
“I’m a policeman and I’ve been investigating complaints from several people about a man taking pictures of them without their permission,” Skulduggery lies “I happened to come across you taking pictures and decided to follow you and see if you exhibited any suspicious and dangerous behaviour. I can assure you that I have found no such behaviour. Well at least not pertaining to my investigation anyway.” Rohan’s eyes narrow.
“Really? Because I think that you’re investigating the disappearances of a number of women over the last month or so. And you’re not a policeman, you’re working for something called the Sanctuary, whatever that is.” If Skulduggery had a face it would be shocked. “You were following me because you thought I might have had something to do with those disappearances.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yes, you do. My Stand, Heaven’s Door, allows me to read people and find out their secrets and you Skeleton have many of those.” Skulduggery goes deathly still. “Does that mean he knows about Vile as well.”
“So many secrets it fact,” Rohan continues as if reading his mind “that my Heaven’s Door was not able to access them. Something about you is configured differently to every other person I’ve encountered and there were parts of your consciousness even I could not read into.”
Skulduggery ponders this information. “You mentioned your “ability” was called a Stand? I’ve never heard of that particular discipline before. Is it that Ghost thing you used to subdue me earlier? Is it like a Gist?”
“I do not know of this Gist you talk about. You mentioned you could see my Heaven’s Door but you don’t identify as a Stand user. Yet you raised your hand to me earlier as if you were trying to attack me.”
Skulduggery clicks his hands and a small flame appears. “I’m an elemental. It means that I can control and manipulate the elements to a certain extent.” Rohan looks at the flame in fascination.
“I see. Your ability must allow you to see Stands despite not possessing one yourself. This information is most intriguing.”
“Indeed. But may I steer this back onto the original topic. When you talked about the real reason I followed you your voice seemed to imply that there was something you knew about these disappearances and the way you’ve been looking at me throughout this whole time is reserved, like you know something but aren’t sure whether to trust me or not.”
Rohan looks down, swirling the contents of his cup, thinking. Skulduggery watches him carefully and when he looks back up at him, he can tell that his demeanour has changed. “Could you follow me please,” he says and beckons for Skulduggery to follow him. They enter an expansive hallway and Rohan reaches into the back of his trousers and pulls out Skulduggery’s gun. “You can have this back if you want. Heaven’s Door not only allows me to read other people I can also write commands into them which they must follow. I’ve already taken the liberty of writing that you cannot harm me.”
“Annoying but understandable,” he replies and places the gun back in its rightful place as Rohan leads him up the stairs. “When I was reading about your investigation I noticed the name Yoshikage Kira pop up can you tell me what you know about this man?”
“It was a name that came up in a report about an unsolved homicide. I investigated his last known residence but I couldn’t find any incriminating evidence. Why?” They reach the top of the stairs and Rohan pauses, emotions flickering across his face and he considers what he’s about to say.
“Yoshikage Kira is the person that you’re looking for. And those women haven’t disappeared they’ve been murdered. Kira is a vicious and predatory serial killer and he’s been murdering women in this town for close to 15 years.” Rohan continues walking. “We never would have even known about him if he hadn’t have slipped up and after murdering another stand user accidentally left behind a button from his shirt which Jotaro, the man you were tailing before me, was able to track down. Unfortunately, Kira managed to escape and changed his appearance and we have so far been unable to track him down.”
“Why don’t you report it to the police?”
Rohan laughs. “The Police?! They wouldn’t know where to start and besides it’s much too dangerous for a non-stand user to go against someone as dangerous as Yoshikage Kira.”
“So, this Kira guy, he’s a Stand user as well?”
“Yes. His Stand is called Killer Queen and-”
“Wait. Did you say Killer Queen? As in the Queen song?”
“Yes, but that’s not the poi-”
“What on earth made him think of that? I mean what sort of idiot-” Skulduggery quickly stops talking when as it dawns on him that Rohan’s stand is named Heaven’s Door.
“What sort of idiot what…” Rohan asks.
“Nothing, never mind. What can it do this Killer Queen?”
“It can turn anything it touches into a bomb which Kira uses to dispose of the bodies of his victims. That’s another reason why we can’t go to the police because there is no physical evidence of his murders, hence why Morioh has such a high level of missing person’s because police never find the bodies. He also has a secondary bomb called Sheer Heart Attack-”
“Oh, come on, really, Sheer Heart Attack, are you having a laugh.”
Rohan ignores the statement. “-which is automatic and is attracted to body heat.”
“I know, I’ve encountered it before in one of the victim’s houses. Wasn’t too effective against a debonair skeleton I can tell you that.” Skulduggery follows Rohan into one of the room’s where a large picture book sits on a table by the window.
“You wondered why I was taking pictures of people by the train station today? Well here’s why.” He opens up the book to reveal an assortment of pictures of men as they exit the train station, each one with a name underneath. He slowly flicks through the pages. “I’ve been documenting all the men who use the train to go to and come home from work in the hopes I can identify Kira’s new identity but alas nothing so far.” Skulduggery glances down at the book and his gaze is immediately draw to a picture in the top corner of one of the pages.
The man pictured has black spikey hair and is wearing a white suit with a pink shirt and an unusual skull themed tie. Nothing about his appearance really sticks out but that’s what so odd. He can’t quite put his finger on it but something seems familiar about this man, as if he’s seem him somewhere before. His mind wanders back to the incident at Melody Psalm’s house. And then it dawns on him.
That’s the man I saw in the window.
Skulduggery tries to contain his excitement about what could be the thing that blows this investigation wide open. He thinks back to when he broke in Yoshikage Kira’s house and the pictures he saw. “Those eyes. Those cold unforgiving eyes. They’re just like this man’s eyes as well.” The more he looks at the man the more he can see the little features that match between this picture and the one in Kira’s house. Rohan begins to turn the page and Skulduggery just about manages to catch the name written underneath. Kosaku Kawajiri.
“I can’t believe getting kidnapped stupidly would have worked out this well,” he thinks to himself. “I don’t trust this Rohan character though, there’s something about him that rubs me up the wrong way. A man who can force people to do things? Who can rewrite memories? He might have the same goal as me but he’s too unpredictable. I can’t let him know about this.”
Rohan finishes flicking through the rest of the book and closes it. He turns around to face Skulduggery. “It would seem that fate has brought us together Mr Pleasant. It seems to me that it is our destiny work together to find this murderer and bring him to justice.”
“So, it would seem. You don’t mind if I share this information with my colleagues, do you? It could help us to try and track down Yoshikage Kira more quickly. You also mentioned you worked with Jotaro Kujo, is there anybody else I could talk to about this who might be able to help.”
Rohan considers this. “I could tell him about Koichi and the others. But what if he does find out something and goes to that shitbag Josuke first.” Rohan shudders at the thought. “No, it’s just us two. I can give you his contact details if you like.” He gets out his address book and carefully copies the phone and room number at the Morioh Grand Hotel as well as his own phone number. “Just to be clear though, if you do find anything, you come to me first okay. Heaven’s Door is a very useful stand for interrogations if you need it.”
Skulduggery nods and Rohan tears out the sheet from his notepad, passing it to him. He tucks it into his jacket pocket. “Well if there’s nothing else I guess that I’ll take my leave.”
“No, wait,” Rohan says as he turns to leave.
“Well the thing is, um. I’ve never ever seen a walking talking skeleton before. So, I was wondering if I could study you. To give me inspiration for my manga. I’m sure you have some interesting stories to tell, when I read your history what I could read was fascinating. My readers would love to hear about this.” He looks on hopefully.
“I don’t know. Maybe once my work is finished here.” Rohan beams with happiness and Skulduggery walks out of the room.
“What an odd man.”
“Rohan Kishibe? The same Rohan Kishibe who writes the genius Pink Dark Boy. He’s a mage!?”
“You’re a fan I take it.”
Well, I wouldn’t say fan, I’ve read a couple of issues. Okay fine yes its brilliant and horrifying and just Oooh fantastic.” Junko blushes a little bit at her gushing. “I’m sorry this is quite unprofessional. But seriously though he knows about mages?”
“I wouldn’t go that far, he’s obviously not had a magic upbringing and his Stand as he calls it is nothing like anything I’ve ever seen before. It knocked me out,” he snaps his fingers “just like that. And then he was able to basically read everything about me and about the investigation.”
“Holy shit that’s freaky, I thought sensitives didn’t work on your mind?”
“That’s what I thought but whatever his discipline is it’s much more powerful than your standard sensitive. Still there were apparently some things he couldn’t find out so I guess I’m still kind of special.”
“Indeed. But what does this have to do with the investigation.”
“Well he has imparted some information to me which confirms an earlier hunch that I had. Namely that Yoshikage Kira is in fact in involved in these disappearances.”
Junko’s eyes widen in surprise. “You mean to tell me that tiny report I found might actually be the key to solving this whole case.”
“I can’t say for certain but what he told me fits into the narrative of these murders too nicely for us to not look into. I’d also recommend we start surveillance on him as well as Jotaro but on a much more secretive scale. As in we need a real specialist because if he knew I was following him he must be either very perceptive or very paranoid.”
“But didn’t you say he helped you out? Why would you want to put surveillance on him?”
“Because I don’t entirely trust this guy. His power is one that can be abused very easily and I’m not sure what his motivations are.”
“I see.” Junko goes very quiet all of a sudden and instinctively Skulduggery cranes his neck to see Elder Ryuu stood in the doorway. While normally having a calm expression his face is twisted in anger and he is gripping the doorframe very tensely.
“You’ve got some nerve coming back here Detective.”
“Excuse me.” Ryuu storms into the room and Skulduggery rises to meet him.
“I warned you about this Mr Pleasant. I gave you one job, a nice simple surveillance mission and what do you do? You ABANDON the target we’ve assigned you and gone off on your own. Are you incredibly stupid as well as incredibly arrogant?”
“I felt it was too important of a lead to let go Sir.”
“Well if that’s the case then you know what you do Detective. You phone it in. You ask for back-up and we send it to you.”
“But by the time I did that Rohan would’ve already have wandered off into the town and we wouldn’t have been able to find him.”
“Then so be it. Your job was not to wander off and follow some random stranger with barely any apparent connection to your actual target.”
“My job is to try and solve these murders Elder Ryuu, not act as babysitter to a possible suspect.”
Ryuu takes a step towards him and jabs his finger aggressively at him. “You will do whatever this Sanctuary tells you to do,” he snarls.
“Besides my choice to switch my search over to Rohan Kishibe that has lead us to what could be a very important lead in the case.”
“Oh really, is that what you think Detective?”
“It’s what I know sir.”
“How do you know what this man has told you is even true. He’s a weirdo, a crackpot. “Even the people who profess to be his fans,” his gaze briefly flickers to Janko who looks away embarrassed. “Even they say he’s an eccentric and not to be taken seriously.”
“Just because other people think he’s a crackpot doesn’t mean that he is or that his input in this particular case isn’t valid. How many of our own magical sciences would be considered insane by mortals?”
“So just because he subscribes to your wild and farfetched claims that an average salary man with no criminal history and no indication of magical ability is a mass murdering psychopath who has been getting away with murder for fifteen years he must have a point? No I’m sorry that is absurd. And another thing. Didn’t you yourself say that this man has the ability to manipulate and influence minds, how do I know that he hasn’t already brainwashed you into his crazy conspiracies?”
“Because I was already investigating Yoshikage Kira before I met Rohan not after. What would I have to gain by lying sir? I want this case to be solved just as much as you do.”
“No, what you want to do is waltz in here and show everyone that don’t worry the all knowing Skulduggery Pleasant can do what a whole team of sanctuary agents cannot.”
“That is a ludicrous claim sir and you know it, I’m here to help with the investigation because my skills in this field are considerable.”
“Well not any more you’re not.”
“You heard me Mr Pleasant. You’re off the case I want you out of this Sanctuary immediately.”
Junko leaps to her feet. “Sir you can’t do this we nee-”
“That’s quite enough from you Detective Takamoto. Unless you want me to start searching for a new prime detective.” Junko quickly sits back down and hangs her head.
“You’re making a big mistake and you know it Elder Ryuu. Whatever grievances you have against me and how I act you know I can solve this case. Or do you want to keep sticking your head in the sand while more innocent women are murdered.”
Ryuu starts to shake with anger. “CLEAVERS escort Detective Pleasant out of the premises. I’ve had enough of your insubordination and complete disregard of Sanctuary procedure. I don’t know how the hell they run things in Ireland but here we have rules and standards.” A pair of cleavers appears at his back.
“If you don’t want my help then fine, I’ll conduct my investigation without your assistance. And trust me sir, I will find the culprit and bring him to justice” Skulduggery retorts and heads towards the door, pushing the cleavers aside in disgust.
Sitting in the Bentley, Skulduggery slowly begins to master his temper and calm himself down. “I can’t believe the ignorance of that man,” he growls to himself. He puts the car into gear and tears out of the car park.
“That’s it. No more playing by the rules, no more bullshit sanctuary regulations. I’m going to end this before another female sorcerer disappears without a trace. I’m not letting some serial killer mage continue his rampage just because the Japanese Sanctuary is being bureaucratic and unreasonable. From this moment on I’m doing things my way, following my own rules and I will catch this man. Yoshikage Kira, you ain’t gonna know what hit you,” Skulduggery says and begins to hum to the tune of Another One Bites the dust.
Skeletons in the ClosetEdit
Five o’clock. The end of another dull and uneventful day. Just how Yoshikage Kira likes it. He packs up his things and leaves his cubicle, making his way down the long flight of stairs to the ground floor and exits into the street below. The other workers begin to drain out as well and Kira takes a moment to soak in the warm summer sun. “Has there ever been a day lovelier than this” he wonders, “Father says he hasn’t seen that unusual man in over a week and Josuke & Jotaro are no nearer to finding me than they were before.” Fate seems to be on his side once more. He is snapped out of his daydreaming by the sound of his mobile ringing. “Hello, Kosaku Kawajiri speaking,” he says answering the call.
“I need you back in the office immediately Kosaku,” Kira instantly recognises the voice as that of his boss.
“Yes sir. Can I ask for what reason please sir?”
“I’d rather not do this over the phone just come back up to my office immediately.”
“Yes sir, of course sir.” The phone goes dead and Kira’s good mood vanishes as soon as it had begun. “I loathe that irritating little weasel. Why oh why did I have to disguise myself as such a pathetic snivelling suck-up.” Sighing he heads back into the office to the floor he works on. “I hope this isn’t about that promotion Kosaku had been aiming for. I’ve been trying to be as average as possible so as to avoid that.” He raps gently on the door to his boss’ office.
“Come in. Oh, and close the behind you.” His boss is sat with his back to Kira, facing out of a window overlooking Morioh’s centre.
“Yes sir,” he replies obligingly. They wait there for several minutes, neither one saying a word until…
“Excuse me sir. Can I know why I’ve been called back here? Have I done something wrong?”
“Do you like music Kosaku?”
“Do you like music? I always enjoy listening to music helps me relax after a long day of work. My favourite is band is Queen personally. How about you? Do you have a favourite band?” “Sir, with all due respect I don’t see what thi-”
“So many brilliant songs they’ve made,” his boss continues ignoring his response “Bohemian Rhapsody, I Want to Break Free, Somebody to Love but do you know what my favourite one is?”
“KILLER QUEEN” comes the reply and the chair swivels around to reveal not Kira’s boss but instead a man his father had assured him was no longer a problem.
“Who the hell are you” Kira exclaims suddenly nervous.
“I doesn’t matter who I am, I’m much more interested in you, Kosaku Kawajiri. A quite unremarkable man with no obvious talents or interests. You have a wife and one child but that is the only thing of any note that I could find out about you. You are a background character in the great story of life Mr Kawajiri. Or should I say Mr Kira!” Kira is stunned into silence. “I know all about your sick little hobby Yoshikage Kira and I am not going to let you continue to indulge it.”
“How did you find me?” Kira asks, his voice trembling slightly.
“I can assure you it wasn’t easy, you’re an annoying inconspicuous man who leaves almost no evidence behind. I’d almost admire you if you weren’t a remorseless psychopathic killer. Some would say it was fate that allowed me to find you, other might point to destiny. But I don’t believe in that cosmic bullshit. I caught you through good honest detective work and following my gut. Oh, and luck, a hell of a lot of luck. But once I found out who you were the question was how do I manage to get you alone and beat the shit out of you. I didn’t want to drag your innocent stolen family into this and you never leave the house so it became apparent I’d have to get to you at work.” “But there are people still here working overtime.”
“Not today there isn’t. Everyone who would be working overtime got a phone call from their boss to tell them overtime has been cancelled and to go home. Your boss has quite an easy voice to imitate hasn’t he, I only had to follow him around for a couple of hours before I got the hang of it. His working habits weren’t much harder to discover, did you know he takes every Friday afternoon off to pick his daughter up from his ex-wife’s? If you’d been more observant you’d have known something was up the minute I called you earlier.”
“Well then Mr Detective it looks as though you’ve pieced together it all together and managed to find me. But unfortunately for you that now makes you a direct threat to my peaceful life.” Kira’s demeanour immediately changes from nervous to icy cold. “All I want, all I ever wanted, was to live a quiet life like a plant. Is that too much to ask?”
“It is when your peaceful life involves murdering innocent women.”
“I cannot control my urges no more than you can control your urge to eat or drink or sleep.”
“Well you see the thing is- “Skulduggery whips off his hat and scarf, “I don’t need to do any of that stuff anymore.” Kira is once again caught off guard and even takes a step back before snarling and stepping forward.
“You must be a Stand user. And here I was thinking you were some foolish policeman. No matter, you will still have to be eliminated. I can’t have you ruining my peaceful life.” Killer Queen appears by his side.
“So that’s your Killer Queen, is it? What are you going to do? Give me a Sheer Heart Attack? Am I just going to be another one to bite the dust? Well don’t stop me now because once this is over it’ll be me saying we are the champions.”
“Your mocking me.”
“I mock you because you are an easy man to mock.” Kira lunges for him and Killer Queen leaps forward hand outstretched. Skulduggery splays his hand and the air blasts the Stand and its master backward, through the office door and into one of the desks. Kira grunts in pain and picks himself up. Snatching a coffee mug, he charges it with a bomb and waits until Skulduggery barges through the door. He throws mug and mentally counts the distance until it’s within blast range and detonates. Skulduggery manipulates the air to divert it off course and the explosion goes off harmlessly just out of range. This gives Kira the opportunity to close the distance and Killer Queen’s hands reach for him. Just before they can grasp onto him though they stop in mid-air and despite his best efforts he cannot bring them any closer.
“I know all about your so-called Stand, Yoshikage Kira. I happened to run into a pretty famous Mangaka during my investigation. The name Rohan Kishibe ring any bells.” Kira shoots him a glare. “I can tell by that look you just gave me that it certainly does. Anyway, he told me all about your Stand and its ability to turn things into bombs so if it’s alright with you I don’t think I’m going to let it get its grubby little hands on me.” He cracks his elbow into Kira’s jaw and he stumbles backwards.
“I should’ve killed that pesky Rohan weeks ago,” he says and wipes a small streak of blood from his mouth. Much to Skulduggery’s surprise instead of being angry there’s a faint flicker of a smile across Kira’s face. “You said Rohan told you all about Killer Queen, did he? Well I bet he never mentioned anything about this!” Killer Queen lifts up its abdomen to reveal a strange looking plant nestled within.
“Um, okay. I didn’t realise you were into gardening. Why is this relevant?”
“This is no mere plant. This is a Stray Cat, a Stand just like my Killer Queen.” Skulduggery notices for the first time that the plant has eyes and a mouth. Eyes and a mouth angrily focused on him. He waits for an attack but none is forthcoming. He readies a fireball in his hand and as he does the light flickers off something. Instinctively he throws himself to the side just as an explosion goes off. Fortunately, the blast isn’t powerful enough to get through his protective clothing and he rolls into a crouch.
“What the hell was that” he thinks but he has little time to figure it out before Stray Cat curls up and thrusts towards him. He waits for the attack but once again there doesn’t seem to be any. “It’s definitely doing something but what?” he wonders and scans the room, looking for a trap or a sign. Looking in Kira’s general direction he notices that part of the air is slightly distorted. As he focuses in on that area he can make out the faint outline of a bubble. “That must be its ability to shoot bubbles. And Kira must be turning them into bombs. How devilishly sneaky.” Skulduggery draws his gun and fires a bullet at the bubble. “Did you really think you could beat me with some little bubbles did you. What kind of loser uses bubbles as a weapon anyway .”
“You don’t understand anything do you.” Kira chuckles as the bullet passes through the bubble but doesn’t pop it. “They may only be air bubbles but when they are charged with Killer Queen’s explosives they can maintain their shape.”
“Hold on a second did you say air bubbles?” Now it’s Skulduggery’s turn to be smug. “Well if that’s the case then that should be no problem at all.” He uses his hands to manipulate the air and take control of the air bubble and drag it far away from him. Kira frowns. “How on earth did you manage to do that?”
“I’m an elemental. Means I can control the air and if I can control air then I can also control any of your air bubbles. And now that threat’s out of the way…” he dashes at Kira and sends forth a column of air but he is able to dodge around it. He follows up this attack with a punch which Killer Queen goes to intercept but instead of merely stopping the punch with its arm the arm crumples as if it’s been struck. Kira grunts in surprise as Skulduggery goes for another punch, this time rocking Killer Queen’s head back, an effect mirrored on Kira.
“What is this. There should be no way his punches should have any effect on Killer Queen,” Kira rages internally. As another punch swings in at its head he notices the air shimmering around his opponent’s fist. “He must be using his magic to reinforce his punches.” The punch disorientates him and he stumbles back and Skulduggery follows through with a kick to the leg which drops him to one knee. He tries to have Killer Queen respond with an attack of its own but Skulduggery dodges the telegraphed grab and delivers a powerful body shot with his right hand. However instead of striking Killer Queen his fist instead stops in mid-air a few inches from when Stray Cat is situated.
“Luck really is shining down upon me.” Kira takes advantage of his opponent’s momentary confusion and Killer Queen lashes out with its leg, the blow being both quick and powerful enough to send Skulduggery reeling as it connects with the side of his skull. “And now to charge this bubble and finish this pesky detective off once and for all.” Giving the bubble a shove he backs away from the ticking time bomb.
Meanwhile Skulduggery is still a bit groggy after the kick. He shakes his head a couple of times to regain his composure and as he does he first notices the large bubble floating towards him. Before he can use his magic to control the bubble it explodes and he instead gathers the air around him to create a shield. However, this bubble is big, much bigger than any of the other bubbles and the explosion is much more powerful. The sheer force of the explosion is enough to rattle the glass in the nearby windows, shake the room and send Skulduggery hurtling backwards. Kira emerges from the overturned desk he was taking cover behind to admire his handiwork. To his shock he finds that Skulduggery is not only still in one piece but he’s even getting tentatively back to his feet. Nevertheless, the explosion didn’t leave him completely unharmed, his armoured clothes have been shredded in several areas and it’s obvious by the way he’s moving he’s twisted a bone somewhere.
“I’ve walked away from bigger explosions than that. Not when I was alive mind you but still being a skeleton has its perks.”
“Impossible,” Kira gasps quietly. Without warning makes a break for the double doors leading to the staircase. Skulduggery tries to use the air to pull him back but he’s still disorientated from the explosion and misjudges it. He stumbles towards the doors, all the while slowly regaining his bearings. A thought hits him suddenly. “If this guy is as smart as I think he is he’s definitely turned the door into a bomb. He’ll wait till he hears the door opening and he’ll detonate right away.” He considers blasting the door away with the air but even if he does and gives chase Kira has a massive head start and by the time he gets down the stairs he could be long gone. “I need a quicker way to get down to street level.” His gaze is drawn to the large windows that envelope the building.
“Well I’ve had dumber plans,” he says, his feet already carrying him towards the nearest window. A gunshot pierces the silence and the window shatters and he soon finds himself plummeting down to the ground. He uses the air as a buffer to slow his descent and touches down gently on the pavement. “I hope to god nobody saw that” he mummers and runs back to the front of the building. He spots Kira in the distance already running back in the direction of home. “Oh no you don’t” he snarls and chases after him.
“Fleeing, how humiliating” Kira thinks to himself. “I need to find Father and see if he can trap that meddlesome skeleton with Atom Heart Father.” He is thankful that the streets of Morioh seem to be strangely empty for once but also slightly annoyed, blending into a crowd is what he does best after all. He risks a look behind him but can’t see his pursuer anywhere and he starts to relax a bit. “He knows where Kosaku’s address is but it doesn’t seem like he wants to harm Shinobu or Hayato so if I head back there I can think up a plan.” Engrossed in his worried thoughts he doesn’t notice the people in front of him until it’s too late and bowls into them, knocking one to the ground. “Idiots,” he looks up and his face turns ashen.
Josuke Higashikata. Okuyasu Nijimura
His eyes flicker to the kid he knocked over.
“Oi. Watch where you’re running moron” Okuyasu says.
“This can’t be happening”
“Hey now Okuyasu no need to be rude,” Josuke retorts “Are you alright Koichi?”
“This is a nightmare”
“I’m fine,” Koichi responds and gets to his feet, picking his bag from where it had fallen.
“What about you sir.” Josuke offers his hand to Kira as if to help him up.
“No, no I’m alright. I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention,” Kira splutters out quickly. “Damn those brats getting in my way. They don’t seem to have recognised me yet so I might get away with this yet.” His hopes are quickly dashed however as Skulduggery barrels around the corner….
The streets are quiet. Too quiet for Skulduggery’s liking. His gaze flickers over half a dozen possible ambush spots but he doesn’t slow down. “He’s heading back home. He has to be he knows I won’t follow him in there so I need to intercept him before he gets there.” He remembers a shortcut he memorised after scouting out Kira’s route to work and shifts direction away from Kira’s regular route and ducks through an alleyway, shaving a couple of seconds off. He turns another corner and quickly slows to a stop. “Gotcha,” he whispers as he spots Kira hunched over on the ground followed by “Shit,” when he sees a bunch of teenagers. “Step away from that man immediately” he barks, startling them.
“Oh, my goodness-” Koichi exclaims in surprise.
“-Is that a goddamn- “Okuyasu cuts in
“-Skeleton!?” Josuke finishes. Skulduggery suddenly realises that he left his scarf and hat back in the office.
“And what do you want this man?” Josuke says gesturing to Kira, who is looking more and more worried by the second. “Why the hell should we let you anywhere near him?”
“I don’t have time to explain boy but that man is extremely dangerous.” He gun leaps into his hand but there’s a dull thwomp and he finds himself clutching at thin air. One of the teenagers now has Skulduggery’s revolver in his hand and a strange robotic looking thing stands beside him.
“Did you really think that would work idiot” Okuyasu says. “Koichi, use Echoes Act 3 to pin this bastard.”
“I can’t, he’s just out of range.”
“Wait a minute,” Skulduggery says surprised “You guys wouldn’t happen to be Stand users, would you?” This immediately grabs the teenager’s attention.
“Did you just say Stand Users?” Josuke enquires.
“Yeah, yeah. That’s what the thing you’re friend’s got stood next to him right?” Skulduggery continues gesturing to Okuyasu.
“You can see that? So that means you must be a Stand user too right?”
“Not exactly know. I’m an elemental, means I can control the elements, but my magic allows me to see those Stands as you call them. I happened to run into one of your kind during an investigation I was undertaking. You wouldn’t happen to know a Rohan Kishibe would you?”
“Rohan-sensei?!” Koichi exclaims “but he never mentioned anything about a living skeleton.”
“Yeah well hate to break it to you but your friend isn’t exactly the most trustworthy guy. He attacked me after I followed him, that’s how I know about Stands. And it’s because of him that I’m chasing that guy you’ve bumped into.” The three teenagers look at Kira who has by now got to his feet and is looking suspiciously at them.
“And what’s so special about him?” Josuke enquires.
“He’s a serial killer.” The words have an immediate effect on the three and their demeanour becomes much more serious. “Could it be. Could this meek looking office worker. Could he be...
“Yoshikage Kira!” Skulduggery finishes the sentence for them. Josuke whirls round.
“This guy. He’s Yoshikage Kira!?” Kira is deathly silent.
“A quiet life that’s all I ever wanted,” Kira growls “but you meddling kids just had to come along and ruin that for me. I was happy, peaceful until Jotaro Kujo showed up and tore my world apart.”
“You are Kira!” Josuke shouts angrily and Crazy Diamond appears by his side.
“I wouldn’t be so fast to attack me Josuke Higashikata. Unless you want to shorten your life even more than it is already.” Killer Queen materialises into view, his hand already poised in the detonator position. “You see while you three were all preoccupied with that wretched abomination over there I had Killer Queen create a bomb. It wasn’t easy; I had to be cautious in case one of you noticed but luck is once again smiling down on me. And who would be a better target than the little brat who got me in this mess in the first place.” Koichi goes pale. “That’s right Koichi Hirose; I’ve already turned the sock on your right foot into a bomb.”
“Impossible. I would’ve noticed. Echoes would have protected me.”
“Ordinarily yes but your mind was already focused on the threat of Mr Skeleton over there and so your Stand was also focused in that direction as well.”
“Well then I’ll just use Echoes right now to us Freeze on your hand and stop you from detonating.”
“But first you’d have to call him forth and activate the attack. Killer Queen is already ready to detonate so the second it seems Echoes it will detonate.”
“Son of a Bitch!” Josuke snarls suddenly. “Crazy Diam-”
“Don’t even think about it Josuke,” Kira interrupts. “If you attack me I’ll detonate.”
“Doesn’t matter I’ll just heal Koichi up before the explosion kills him.”
“Good luck trying to defend yourself while you’re busy healing him. You can only focus on one thing at a time, either you’re attacking me or your healing Koichi, you can’t do both. And don’t even try to think to use the Hand against me Okuyasu or I’ll send Sheer Heart Attack to blow you to smithereens.”
“Yeah right. I’ll just use the Hand to erase that shitty little tank.”
“Even if you do Sheer Heart Attack will have distracted you long enough for me to kill Josuke and Koichi.” Okuyasu’s jaw clenches in anger and bunches his hand into a fist but the Hand stays where it is.
“And don’t think I’ve forgotten about you Skeleton. Once I’ve finished eliminating these brats I’ll get rid of you too. Then I’ll be able to continue my stress free existence.” Kira’s gaze goes back to Josuke. “So you need to make a choice Josuke. Do you save yourself or your friend?” Kira watches with deprived glee as the agony flickers over his hated enemies’ faces. “Now they know how I’ve felt every day since I was forced to hide myself as Kosaku Kawajiri. Trapped, helpless, faced with impossible choices. But not anymore. Tonight I will sleep peacefully.” He could’ve blown Koichi to smithereens without them even noticing but the look on Josuke’s face was more than worth the extra effort.
“Josuke!” Koichi says “Just attack him. Don’t worry about me. We need to stop this guy before he escapes from us again.” “I won’t just stand by and watch you die Koichi. I’ve already lost one friend to this bastard and I’m not about to lose another.”
Koichi smiles weakly. “Yeah, I thought you’d say that. But this is bigger than me. Think about all those people who he killed. Those families he left in despair. Think about Reimi and Shigechi and Aya. If he gets away we might never find him again. I would be happy dying if I knew that that son of a bitch gets taken down with me.” Josuke blinks tears out of his eyes. Kira senses an opportunity and Killer Queen punches with its free hand. Crazy Diamond leaps to Josuke’s defence and blocks the attack.
“I can’t believe you actually fell for that Josuke Higashikata. And now that your Crazy Diamond is preoccupied...” Killer Queen’s thumb presses down on its hand and Koichi’s foot begins to disintegrate. However instead of spreading to the rest of his body the explosion stops at just above the knee. “Impossible!” Kira shouts in shock. It’s at that moment he realises that Skulduggery has taken a step forward and has his hand splayed in front of him.
“I’d have thought someone as clever as you would’ve realised that incendiary explosions need air to function. So as long as I keep Koichi’s leg air deprived your explosion won’t go off correct? Now Josuke I believe you were about to beat this guy into next week am I right?”
“Damn straight Mr Skeleton Man.” Crazy Diamond throws a punch which Killer Queen blocks with its arms but the sheer force of the blow makes it step back. Crazy Diamond then lets loose with a barrage of punches with a cry of “DORA DORA DORA DORA!” Killer Queen manages to block the first few punches but it can’t stand up to the relentless bombardment and after a severe pummelling, Kira is sent hurtling backwards with a vicious uppercut to the jaw. He tries to get up but only manages to get into a hunched up kneel before coughing up some blood.
He opens up his midsection to reveal Stray Cat, which immediately starts to shoot a bubble. Skulduggery flicks his free hand; his gun is wrenched out of Okuyasu’s hand and back into his own and he immediately fires the rest of the clip off at Kira. Killer Queen is forced to abandon the charging of the bubble to protect him but the speed of the action means that the first two bullets break through and hit Kira in the shoulder and chest. He is jerked back by the impact as blood trickles down from the bullet holes. “This cannot be happening.” He growls weakly. “I, Yoshikage Kira, have always been able to get myself out of any situation I’ve found myself in.” He takes several unsteady steps backwards, off the pavement and into the road. It’s at that moment that he first hears the wailing of a siren getting ever closer and he turns his head towards it and…
Skulduggery watches as the ambulance hits Kira at full speed with a sickening crunch. The sheer force of the impact launches him several metres and slamming into the back wheel of a nearby parked car. The ambulance screeches to a halt and a pair of ambulance men jump out and rush over to Kira’s prone body. “Did you see that, this guy just stepped out into the road” one of them says frantically. The other one checks his pulse and shakes his head sadly.
“Poor guy didn’t stand a chance, if the impact didn’t kill him flat out then skidding into this car has clearly broken his neck. We’ll have to call it in, see if we can get another ambulance crew to go to the office fire.” Josuke, Okuyasu and Koichi look on in shock as a third paramedic brings out a cloth and places it over Kira’s body.
“I guess we should be thankful. There was no other way this could’ve ended really.” Skulduggery muses. “I was only planning on arresting him but a man that dangerous would’ve been too risky to keep alive.”
“I suppose you’re right,” Josuke agrees. “I guess I should probably heal up that leg of yours Koichi. If you wouldn’t mind could you relieve the air pressure on Koichi’s leg Mr um,”
“Skulduggery, Skulduggery Pleasant. I do have to warn you that as soon as I relax my hand the explosion is going to start again.”
“Yeah, yeah I know just do it alright.” Skulduggery shrugs and releases the air around Koichi’s leg. The explosion continues just as expected but Crazy Diamond restores the ashes back together as soon as the body is destroyed so that Koichi is returned back to normal.
“That is one helpful ability,” Skulduggery muses “I’m sure the sanctuary would be very interested in something like that.”
“What did you say?”
“Oh nothing, nothing just thinking out loud. But I think gentlemen it’s time that I took my leave.”
“Wait, wait, wait you can’t just go now. We don’t know anything about you or who you even are. You’re a walking talking skeleton for god’s sake.”
“And it’s because I’m a walking talking skeleton that I have to leave. How do you think normal people would react if they saw a skeleton walking about? No, I think I should go before anybody else shows up.” Skulduggery nods to the teenagers and turns to walk away.
“Hang on a minute, how are we supposed to find you?” Josuke calls after him.
“You’re not. I had a job to do and now it’s been completed. Maybe not the way the people was working for would’ve preferred but nonetheless a dangerous serial killer has been stopped. I’d suggest you three made yourselves scarce as well before the police show up and start asking questions.” And with that Skulduggery walks away, leaving the three young Stand users scratching their heads in confusion.
The Tragedy of the Kawajiri FamilyEdit
Shinobu looks longingly at the clock. 6:30. “He’s normally home long before now,” she ponders “He could be working overtime although it would be nice if he’d have phoned to let her know.” She finished making dinner half an hour ago and the two plates are slowly going cold on the table. Hayato finished his dinner long ago and retired to his room as per usual. “I sometimes wonder if that boy even cares about me at all. He never seems to appreciate what I do. He seems to have fallen out with his father lately as well.” She sighs, tonight was supposed to be romantic and maybe she’d finally be able to seduce her husband. “Story of my life really.” Her thoughts are interrupted by a sharp rapping on the front door. “Maybe he forgot his key,” she wonders he heart fluttering at the thought. Leaving the food to cool further she opens the door but instead of finding her husband there is instead a man she’s never seen before.
“Good Evening. Sorry to disturb you I’m Detective Inspector Me. This is the Kawajiri residence correct?
“Then you must be Shinobu Kawajiri, can I please come in. I have something I need to speak to you about.”
“Of course Detective. Come right in.” She leads the man through the kitchen and into the lounge area. “Can I get you anything to drink, tea? Coffee?”
“No thank you. I noticed there was food out on the table, I hope I’m not interrupting your dinner.”
“No, no it’s fine I’m just waiting for my husband to come home from work.”
“Well that’s why I’m here actually Mrs Kawajiri. Earlier this afternoon we got reports of an explosion at your husbands office and when we arrived at the scene we found no evidence of a blast, not shrapnel or scorch marks but the office was in disarray as if there had been a fight of some sort.”
“Oh my god. My darling Kosaku wasn’t involved was he?”
“Well we don’t know, some co-workers remembered him going back into the office after hours but we’re not sure on the accuracy of those reports. However a few blocks away an ambulance that was driving to the scene had a freak accident and a man was unfortunately killed in the collision. I’m sorry to have to tell this to you Mrs Kawajiri but that man was positively identified as Kosaku Kawajiri.” Shinobu feels a sudden sharp pain, as if she’s been punched in the gut.
“I’m very sorry.” Shinobu sits mouthing wordlessly, unable to comprehend what she’s just been told.
“I-I can’t believe it,” she stammers, tears welling up in her eyes. “We-we were getting on so well, everything was going perfectly. For the first time I felt that I actually loved my own husband. And now. And now he’s gone.”
“I know this is a tragic moment for you but I’m going to ask if you can head down to station morgue at some point this evening in order to identify the body. Not now but when you feel that you’re ready. An officer will phone up to get details from you later.”
“I-I just don’t know how I’m going to tell Hayato. He never showed it but I just know he loved his father.” The detective nods sadly. He feels as if somebody is looking at him and when he turns around he sees a young boy, no more than eleven standing in the doorway.
“Oh my darling,” Shinobu says tears welling up once again as she notices, “Did you hear any of that.” Hayato looks at the pair for what seems like an eternity before nodding solemnly. “Come here” she bawls and, ignoring the detective, he rushes straight to his mother’s waiting arms. They hug, seemingly suspended in motion and the detective is surprised to see that the son isn’t shedding tears of his own. His face is sad yes but there is something else there almost like relief.
“Apologies for the about the abruptness but I’m afraid I must be leaving. I’m very very sorry for your loss Ma’am.” And with that the Detective leaves the grieving family to try and make sense of their loss.
Holding his mother tightly, Hayato’s feelings are mixed. Of course he’s glad that stranger pretending to be his father is finally gone but a part of him wishes it hadn’t had to end this way. He saw how happy his mother had been the last few weeks, happier than he’d ever seen her before and he’d even struggled with the idea of exposing this monster. How could he ruin his mother’s happiness? Still at least he’d no longer have to worry, he’d kept his mom safe and that’s all that really mattered.
He was intrigued by the detective though. He was very tall and very thin and the way he spoke was strange as if Japanese wasn’t his first language. But there was one thing that had really caught his attention though….
“I’ve never seen a man wearing a scarf and hat indoors.”
The Skeleton Detective DepartsEdit
Skulduggery is looking forward to returning to Ireland. The Japanese Sanctuary is just too bureaucratic and rigid for his liking. He hadn’t even bothered telling them about how he’d managed to take of their little serial killer problem, he doubts they would’ve believed him anyway. Although he’d had an off the record talk with Detective Takamoto and she seemed happy enough with how it had ended up. He’d called Geoffrey Scrutinous in to smooth over some of the details with the police, enough to remove some of the weirder aspects of Yoshikage Kira’s death from their reports. He watches like a hawk as his Bentley is loaded up onto the boat he’s taking back to Ireland. He’d warned the men extensively about what would happen to them if there was even the tiniest of scratches and they seemed to have got the picture by the way they’re carefully loading it up.
“Hey, is that you Mr Skeleton Man!” Skulduggery turns to see one of the teenagers who helped with taking down Kira, Josuke he believed his name was.
“Indeed it is.”
“I wasn’t sure because you’re wearing a scarf and hat but that’s the same suit you were wearing when Kira died. I didn’t have a chance to thank you properly for helping us take that bastard down. I’ve been looking for you for the past few days but I’d given up hope. What luck I’d just happen to run into you today.” Skulduggery notices for the first time a second man walking towards the pair. He recognises him immediately.
“Mr Kujo” he says. Jotaro falters slightly and Josuke’s jaw drops.
“How the. How do you-“
“I was assigned to follow you during my investigations into disappearances in the area. In fact it was surveillance on you that lead to me meeting Rohan Kishibe which in turn led me to Yoshikage Kira. So in a roundabout way you lead me to Yoshikage Kira.”
“It’s annoying that you were able to follow me without me noticing,” Jotaro says as impassive as ever. “But if it lead to taking down Kira then at least that’s something.”
“I saw the story on the news; they’re reporting it as a robbery gone wrong. They were saying the robbers broke into an office block and set off a bomb or something. That a brave office worker chased after them and was tragically shot. How the hell did they manage to conjure up that?” Josuke asks.
“Well I happen to know a guy whose speciality is making people believe what we want them to believe. I called in a favour and he managed to give the police and media something more believable to work with.”
“Wow that’s amazing. So I’m guessing your job here is done now.”
“Yeah, the case I was sent here to solve has been solved so I’m going back to Ireland. Japan is nice and all but I’ve missed Ireland’s rainy summers.”
“Josuke we have to go. We don’t want to be late to see Reimi off. And besides I’ve left the Old Man by himself with the baby, who knows what that crazy old fool will get up to,” Jotaro says suddenly and starts to leave
“Oh yeah right. Well glad I could get hold of you and thanks once again for helping us out.” Josuke grabs Skulduggery hand unexpectedly and shakes it firmly before hurrying after Jotaro. “Hey now, you could’ve waited a second,” he calls after him making Skulduggery smile inwardly. The Bentley has been successfully loaded up onto the boat so Skulduggery heads over to the boat, nodding to the plainclothes sanctuary agents who part to let him up the gangway. He pauses at the top and looks back over the town of Morioh, which seems to be shining brightly in the evening’s glow.
“What a bizarre adventure this turned out to be.”
Expert's Opinion Edit
While Yoshikage Kira is a sneaky and highly successful serial killer ultimately Skulduggery’s centuries of detective experience meant he was able to pick up on small clues and connect the dots in order to figure out that he was the man behind the recent disappearances. Voters unanimously agreed that if the two were to directly fight each other that Skulduggery’s elemental magic allowed him to nullify Killer Queen’s Bombs and Stray Cat’s Compressed Air and coupled with Kira’s lack of combat experience meant once he found him he was always going to come out on top.