Vol.1, Book 1 (The Vigilantes) – CHAPTER 13
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The shrill siren of a police patrol echoed along Roppongi Dori, its red and blue lights trying to scare away the heavy traffic before it. As the black-and-white vehicle made its way down the smooth slope of the paved road prior to the bus terminal area, the Metropolitan Expressway amid both lanes stood firmly to the right of the patrol. The street lights glare followed one after another over the windshield of the driver's door, Matsuda moving the steering wheel while working with the pedals and the shifter in the face of the increasing number of automobiles on his way. At his side, Yoshiro Sugiyama bit his teeth in anger at the convoluted panorama as he tried to settle his body into the seat, the cast in his harm proving more annoying than he had anticipated.

"Could you hurry up a bit?" Yoshiro yelled at his partner.

"Calm down!" Matsuda answered without shifting his eyes from the road ahead. "I didn't think you were so eager to get back on the streets after last night."

On any other night, Yoshiro would have shown his characteristic patience in the face of Matsuda's insolence. But this was not just any night. "It's not that, you idiot. My brother is in that damn building!"

"What?" Matsuda replied as if his mind had abstracted itself from what was taking place in the center of the city. Was he mentally retarded? Had he not been so desperate to know about his brother's current condition, Yoshiro would have come to question the selection process of the police officers in his city at that very same moment. Then again, others were his priorities.

"His class visited Cytek Headquarters today and the attack began before they left!"

Matsuda floored the vehicle's breaks a couple of blocks prior to the junction with Meiji-Dori, the additional flow of traffic from Konno-Zaka collapsing the three available lanes amid an omniums feast of horns and curses. Yoshiro slammed his good arm against the dashboard in frustration. His younger brother was being held prisoner by a group of unscrupulous terrorists while he was stuck in an absurd traffic jam. Worse, he still had to recover from his injuries, and even if he made it to Cytek Headquarters—which he eventually would—there would not be much he could do in his condition.

"Getting into trouble must be a family thing," Matsuda remarked lightly. "Still, if he's as strong as you are, he'll be fine. Let's hope he hasn't inherited the reckless part, though."

Yoshiro turned to look him in the eye with clenched teeth, not amused at all with his comment. He even wished for a brief moment that his partner had to go through a similar situation in the future. Maybe that would be the only way he would come to understand what he was feeling right then.

As the vehicle moved bit by bit closer to the Yamanote Line overpass, Yoshiro shook his head and glanced to his left, bumping into a fairly large building over fifteen floors. It was Shibuya Police Headquarters. For his part, Yoshiro worked in the modest local station of Akasaka, although nothing in the city could compare to the massive headquarters facility in Chiyoda. At any rate, the young man felt the need to clear his mind and leave behind the bad memories the city of Tokyo evoked in him.

Without going far from the thematic of law enforcement institutions, his thoughts drifted back to the time where his family lived in Yamagata prefecture. Due to the work of his parents, both lived for a few years in the vicinity of Camp Jinmachi, where they had to undergo an unusual medical treatment because of an incident in which their parents had been involved. The place was a huge flat land of just under two square kilometers where the sixth division of the army's ground forces was stationed. Several units and battalions of both infantry and artillery of the US Army were relocated to what was then known as Camp Younghans, named in such a way after an American soldier who was killed in action in the Philippines during World War II. Given the rigid security measures along with the fact they could not carry too many items with them, both Sugiyama brothers did not have much to entertain themselves with at that time. They had to make do with what little they had at their disposal.

As Kazuto grew up, Yoshiro began to spend much of his time teaching him karate. He himself had learned by training in local dojos while also carrying practices on his own with his grandfather when he was still alive. Once his younger brother turned six, Yoshiro decided it was time to instruct him at least, on the fundamental concepts of the popular Japanese martial art. Kazuto had always been very enthusiastic in the matter, surely motivated by the Super Sentai children's series he watched on television. He was much more passionate back then. Perhaps it was true that a pessimist had once been a romantic who later became disillusioned. In any manner, Yoshiro used to help him with the execution of the movements, little Kazuto having difficulties at the beginning with the task of performing several feats in a simultaneous way.

He recalled holding his upper limbs from behind, assisting him to rotate his right fist while maintaining a straight line from the hip as he drew back the left arm at the same time. "Remember you should rotate your arms and follow the movement with your hip," he had said to him on one of those occasions. They were in an open field, strong gusts of wind fluttering against the short grass under their feet. "Good," he had said as he let go of him so he could try the moves on his own. "Now, give me Choku-zuki from Hachiji-dachi."

Thereupon, Kazuto had stood up straight by positioning his feet turned to the outside, equidistant, and shoulder width apart. It was one of the most fundamental positions of the Shotokan karate style. Next, he had made a fist with his right hand, folding the thumb firmly over his bent fingers to then take it against his hip in a line under his armpit, palm up. Yoshiro had not appreciated it that way at the time, but as he returned to those moments later in his life, he would realize it was kind of cute seeing his little brother assuming a stance while wearing his light white smooth cotton uniform, also known as karategi. Once he had extended his left arm forward and took a deep breath, Kazuto executed the punch by rotating the wrist while exhaling, throwing back his left arm at the same time.

"Great!" Yoshiro had to him in approval, applauding him so that he would be encouraged once he returned to his original stance once he had thrown a couple of punches. Even if those were basic movements, it was substantial to execute the best possible way. "Now, Gyaku-zuki starting from Kokutsu-dachi. Take into account everything I told you about body movement."

Kazuto had proceeded to assume a low sideways stance, pulling back his right leg while bending the knee as he stretched his left one forward, the knee slightly bent. His feet had to be at right angles to each other, the body and the hip at forty-five degrees in relation to the line formed by the heels, his head looking forward. This position distributed more than two-thirds of the weight in the rear lower limb, ideal for defense and counterattack. And so, Kazuto had pulled off the blow yet again as he had rotated his hip to a frontal position, distributing most of the weight to the forward leg while shifting from his starting stance to Zenkutsu-dachi. His back foot had shifted to a forty-five-degree angle, the leg flexed forward as his left knee bent in such a way it was aligned in a straight line down to his feet.

He had to repeat the exercises on a couple of occasions, his hips and his fists working in unison along with his breathing, exhaling twice when he drew back his arm quickly for a change every now and then.

Not before long, his mother had interrupted them. "Boys, it's time for the injection!" she had said.

Kazuto enjoyed the lessons he gave him, so he had refused outright. "But, mother, we are training,"

"Oh, come on, you can continue with that later," their mother had insisted.

"C'mon, Kazuto. We have to do this," he had said to his little brother, already knowing what he would reply. After all, Hayato had always known the real reason why Kazuto would refuse to do so.

"But I don't like needles, Onii-san."

Once again, Yoshiro had to explain to him what was all about, even if he himself did not fully understand the reason. "Neither do I. Yet, mom and dad were exposed to some radioactivity before both of us were born. This treatment is necessary so that we can all be well and keep practicing karate."

While Kazuto had given him a crooked smile in response, he would still mess up his hair to try to cheer him up. Even when he himself received the needle stick, Yoshiro tried to be strong for his brother, though he would have wanted to scream in pain from the rooftops on more than one occasion. And yet, those had been good times, unlike the ones both brothers were going through at the moment.

Having left the memory behind, Yoshiro glanced beyond the other side of the Matsuda's door windshield. As he peered between the thick columns underpinning the highway, he came across a group of Shibuya police officers with their designated yellow bands over their vests. They were lined up alongside each other either waving their arms, blowing their whistles, or speaking through their little yellow cone-shaped megaphones to divert the traffic away from the west exit of the bus station terminal. In place of the public transport vehicles that were usually stationed there, some fire trucks and ambulances had been set down along with the parking marks on the asphalt. On the opposite side was a group of media vans, dozens of cameras mounted around them with reporters talking to their microphones and every so often turning their heads towards the exit of the terminal. They seemed eager to be aware of the most recent developments as soon as these took place.

Once the patrol reached the edge of the containment fence, Matsuda yanked the steering wheel all to one side to approach the police barrier, some officers opening a gap so that the car could proceed to its destination. The patrol moved at walking pace since the area was crowded with vehicles and people walking from one place to another. Thanks to this, Yoshiro was able to hear the words that the journalists reported to their respective television networks, overlapping one another as they moved towards the Shibuya crossing.

"So far, the exact number of hostages is unknown, although among them is a group of students from Shibuya High School—"

"As for those responsible for this hostage taking, it is known they are ex-soldiers who belong to the increasingly powerful terrorist group called Amaterasu. Their demands have already been made public, among which—"

The police vehicle came to a halt at the end of a long double row of patrols parked under the shadow of the structure of the Keio Line Shibuya Station. Matsuda and Yoshiro abandoned their car, the oldest of the Sugiyama turning to one last group of reporters who were communicating the events in English. Yoshiro had eased with the foreign language thanks to his education and the insistence of his parents, which is why he was able to understand what they were stating. "Once again, Amaterasu puts in alert the city of Tokyo after the reminded attack on the United States Embassy one year ago, where thirty-three people died as a result of the outbreak of a bomb following the assault of special forces to the building."

Both police officers kept heading north across Dogenzaka until they reached the area of the Shibuya crossing. There, Yoshiro came across a scenery he had never seen in his life. Instead of hundreds of people thronging the crosswalks, there were several members of the Emergency Response Team (ERT). It was a special police unit consisting of members selected among the anti-firearms squads, part of the riot police units. They wore black tactical vests, helmets, and body armor padding over their navy blue uniforms, while also carrying their Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns. Instead of civilian automobiles, they were surrounded by white-and-azure armored security cars, explosive disposal wagons, and large transport buses, along with a few turquoise salvation rescue vehicles. Closer to the building, Yoshiro observed technicians working on large spotlight projectors and members of the scientific police collecting samples of three abandoned delivery trucks near the exit of the subway.

As Yoshiro and his partner approached a group of policemen talking to the superintendent, the young officer lifted his head up as he heard the unmistakable sound of the propellers of a helicopter of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department flying over the area. That noise would be forever stored in the deepest corners of his mind due to his previous experience.

"What are you doing here, boy? You should be resting," said Hatano Yamada, the chief of superintendents of the police forces in the city. When Yoshiro lowered his face to meet his eyes, he bumped into the familiar broad face of a man in his late fifties, with a thick mustache and short brown hair with a few gray strains that made him look like one of those old-time cops.

"My brother is among the hostages," Yoshiro replied, harsh. "I can't just sit idly by."

"Nor is it you can do much in your current state, Sugiyama-san."

The comment soured Yoshiro's fragile mood, his gaze down to his cast and his mind lost in toughs of indignation at his own momentary uselessness. Yet, the old man was right; there was nothing to do but wait for the best. Hell, seeing all that extensive display of power from the riot police reminded him that his own training had never prepared him to deal with that kind of situation. Superintendent Yamada seemed to sense his resignation, his eyes looking at the young police officer with pity.

"You know what those bastards are asking for, sir?" Matsuda asked in the meantime.

"The usual," Yamada said, his attention now on Yoshiro's partner. "To free their terrorist comrades in prison, a vehicle for their departure, and, most original, they demanded the men 'behind Cytek' show their faces."

"They mean the Sentinels?"

"Who knows? Still, I don't feel comfortable with the fact they have jurisdiction over these things. These are our own internal affairs."

His partner's questions reminded Yoshiro of his previous longing to arrive in the area and the reasons behind it. But he was now too afraid to ask. All he knew so far was that the students had been taken hostage and that Amaterasu had made his demands without casualties in the process. Yet, what if something terrible had happened? What if the police had concealed the fact to mitigate the impact on the media? The questions were there, but the words would not come. Until they did.

"What about the hostages?" he finally asked, his voice trembling in doubt.

"Only that they have them confined in offices of different floors, which unfortunately can't be observed from the windows. As far as we know, they're fine."

The latter brought some relief to Yoshiro. Although it was evident that Yamada-sama knew little more than he did, there was something in his firm and deep voice that inspired him some confidence. Maybe everything would work out after all. Maybe he would soon embrace his younger brother with his only good arm, tell him how much he cared for him and how much he regretted making him withstand so much pain due to his own foolishness in the past. Yoshiro wondered for a moment what had gotten into him in all those occasions. Was he in such a great rush to die, to leave alone his only brother? Then, a very different thought went through his head. What if he was being punished? What if he now had to undergo the same suffering that Kazuto had experienced every time he had ended up in a hospital? 'God works in mysterious ways' was a well-known phrase of Catholicism, though Yoshiro once heard it was a misquote of the words of a popular English hymn. At least the almighty had him in mind.

"What about reinforcements?" Matsuda inquired.

In a timely manner, something occurred in the detour of Inokashira-Dori to the east one block past the Shibuya crossing. Yoshiro looked to his right; in the distance, the line of police officers keeping at bay another press group and some curious passersby's opened the way to a series of imposing armored vehicles. Leading the pack was a mobile tactical operations center, followed closely by four smaller personnel carrier cars which stopped near the entrance of the 109mens building. Several men wearing helmets and vests that identified them as 'SAT' (Special Assault Team) along professional tactical equipment came down the back of the cars, wielding M4 carbines in their hands. From the larger truck descended barefaced men with vests, one of them approaching the Superintendent, who had already turned to observe the impressive deployment.

"Just in time..." he commented with satisfaction.

Doubts prevailed once again in Yoshiro's mind. As striking as the SAT lineup was, Amaterasu's men were no amateurs at all. Their ranks were packed with former members of the once JSDF, fully trained to fight in the most adverse and dangerous battlefields, without mentioning their vast experience acquired during the Second Korean War.

Before he could continue mulling over the matter, the lights of the spotlights went off for a moment. Shortly afterward, they turned on again, blinking a few seconds until they gained strength once again.

The superintendent became aware of the expressions on the faces of Yoshiro and Matsuda. "Don't worry about that. The electricity department said it was nothing serious." He then gazed at the man in charge of the SAT team, who was coming toward him. "I'm afraid I have to go now. After all, we can't leave everything to those 'Vigilantes', right?"

Yamada-sama greeted both officers and then turned to the special police officer. Yoshiro looked one more time at the imposing Cytek Headquarters, his eyes scouring each single floor longing to meet Kazuto's face again. He still remembered the downbeat expression with which his brother had retired from the hospital the last time he had seen him; it was not likely to have been altered in the slightest before the ongoing situation. He hoped that he would be safe and sound behind those concrete walls and tempered glass windows. He hoped that someone could do something to rescue him, even those same 'Vigilantes' that everyone talked about if the situation warranted it.