Love is Dark Chapter 2


Chapter 2: Zero-Sum Game


      Takarai Sosei wanted to be like a normal high school student you could find anywhere.

      ‘Sosei, are you ready?’

      He gave a brief answer to the voice coming from his earpiece.

      “Yes, Sister.”

      He was on the rooftop of a certain high-rise building. He was dressed completely in black from head to toes. These clothes were nothing special, as was the sneakers he wore. They were all purchased from the nearby shopping center. Neither pricey nor cheap, he picked whatever looked reasonably durable and averagely priced.

      However, the pistol in his hand was not something he bought there. Neither was the tactical vest he wore atop the black clothes, nor the spare magazine and ammunitions stuffed into them. The ruckpack on his back, though, was sourced from the local sports good store.

      ‘The target’s car has entered the underground parking lot, Sosei.’

      Sosei approached the edge of the rooftop without answering.

      This building was 18 stories tall while the one opposite separate by a dual lane road was 10 floors high.

      The target was ascending to the ninth floor of that building via an elevator from the underground parking lot.

      The target this time around only ever left his abode once or twice a year. It was so well-guarded and veiled in secrecy that they couldn’t even find out its interior design. Did the target live there by himself or did he lived with others? Such information as well as the number of guards were all unknown.

      In the end, his sister concluded that their only chance was to strike during one of his very rare excursion such as now.

      …That, I have no objections about, but…

      The plan as devised by his sister was as followed.

      Sosei was to jumped off the rooftop of the building he was currently on and crash land on the ninth floor of the opposite building. There, he was to wipe out the target along with his guards.

      She had also considered the possibility of him infiltrating the building beforehand. However, security had been beefed up thoroughly right before the target was due to visit. There was a chance Sosei might be discovered before his arrival. The target was extremely cautious. In such an event, he would no doubt cancel his excursion.

      An ambush would not work, she surmised. That left launching a surprise attack as the only remaining option.

      Even so, I wish she’d give more thoughts to the execution method…

      ‘Sosei?’

      “Yes, Sister.”

      ‘It’s about time.’

      “Alright.”

      ‘Don’t take that cheeky attitude with me.’

      Despite what she said, her tone was gentle and not censuring. Nonetheless, it did not necessarily meant that she wasn’t angry. He felt his chest tightening inside.

      “…I’m sorry, Sister.”

      ‘It’s fine, Sosei.’

      Did she really accept his apology? He had no way of telling.

      …I can’t tell what Sister is thinking at all. Speaking of which, she’s not the only one. I also can’t tell what Shiramori-san…

      She had asked him out so abruptly. It was completely unexpected. He had answered “Okay” back then in the heat of the moment.

      …I don’t really get it still… She wants to go out with me? As in, be her boyfriend? Eh? Wait, doesn’t that mean Shiramori-san’s my girlfriend? Huh…?

      Sosei clutched his chest and wetted his lips.

      …That’s weird. It can’t be right. I mean… it’s me. Shiramori-san and I, huh—Oh, I need to call her Asumi now. …A-Asumi? No no no no. I can’t do it. It’s too much. In the first place, why me… Huh? Does this mean that Shiramori-san l-likes me… perhaps? HUUUH!? But… isn’t that weird? I mean, it is, right? It’s definitely strange…

      ‘Sosei?’

      “Y-Yes?”

      ‘Are you daydreaming?’

      “…n-n-No?”

      ‘Is that right.’

      His sister breathed out softly, then she asked again in an awfully low voice.

      ‘Are you sure?’

      He couldn’t speak a word. No matter whether he answered “Yes” or “No”, it would enrage his sister for sure. In that case, it was in his best interest to remain silent.

      ‘Focus on the mission. Prepare to dive.’

      “Roger that.”

      Sosei took one last look at the ninth floor before moving backwards.

      For the jump, it was estimated that he would need a running start of about 40 meters. The breadth of this rooftop was barely 20 meters long.

      “In position.”

      His sister gave the order.

      “Go.”

      Sosei broke into a sprint. He didn’t felt anything resembling fear, but it wasn’t anything fun either. If he could express his emotion, it would be dislike. In fact, he disliked it to quite a great extent.

      No matter how much I’m used to this, I’ll never be able to like it…

      When he reached the edge, he jumped off with all his strength.

      How could I possibly have a girlfriend…

      He steadily approached the opposite building.

      I shouldn’t be thinking about this in midair…

      The tenth floor.

      He aimed lower, at one of the windows on the ninth floor.

      It went precisely as the simulation calculated by his sister.

      Sosei covered his head with his arms and smashed into the thick glass window. The tremendous impact resounded with an incredibly crash. He rolled several times against the immaculate floor of the ninth storey, turning bloody all over due to cuts from the glass shards. He tried to move his limbs, but his body wouldn’t respond.

      ‘Have you entered successfully?’

      “…Yes.”

      He could barely produce a raspy voice in his nearly half-conscious state. He tried to get up only to failed miserably. Left with no choice, he crawled onwards on the ground. Even as the broken glass shards sliced into him here and there, he felt no pain at all.

      …This… is… pretty rough…

      The ninth and tenth floor of this building housed a special facility. The normal elevators on the ground floor could only go up to the eighth floor, while there existed an exclusive elevator connecting the basement to ninth floor. Half of this floor was the entrance hall to the special facility, and ahead was yet another elevator leading to the tenth floor as well as a stairwell similarly leading up.

      Sosei crawled his way towards the corridor, passing between the glass cases displaying rare goods which included exotic plants, sculptures and full sets of armors. To the left of the corridor was the lobby of the exclusive elevator, and to the right were the stairs and elevator leading to the tenth floor.

      If his sister’s prediction was right, the target was already on the ninth floor and was heading down this corridor in order to reach the tenth floor.

      Ah…

      He couldn’t make it all the way towards the corridor.

      Looks like here’s the limit…

      Several footsteps approached.

      Rather than turning foggy, his vision simply dimmed. He couldn’t see anything at all.

      “Who the hell are you!”

      Someone shouted. It was probably one of the guards. He was hit by a bullet right after that; someone had shot him with a pistol.

      Pistols were the favored weapon of use as self-protection or by bodyguards. However, they seldom hit when actually used, even by trained professionals. Since Sosei was heavily injured and looked to be on the brink of death, the bodyguards had approached as close as three meters before they fired. It was almost at point-blank range; they couldn’t possibly miss.

      In fact, the first bullet directly struck his head.

      Thorough as they were, they fired a total of three rounds into his head.

      It was pretty much an instant death.

      …Someone once said that death is like falling into an unwaking slumber…

      Even when he started breathing again, Sosei remained still.

      It’s totally wrong. Maybe it differs from person to person, but for me… it’s like suddenly being stuffed into a tiny, tiny box. I can’t do a thing. But, I’m awake and like, I know, oh, I just died…

      “It’s been dealt with, Sakayanagi-san.”

      One of the guards spoke. Sakayanagi must be name of the target. The guard turned his back towards Sosei and returned to Sakayanagi’s side.

      The corridor from the exclusive elevator to the tenth floor elevator was around 15 meters long. Sakayanagi and his entourage was about five meters into the corridor when Sosei infiltrated. His guards numbered four. One of them, Guard A, was the one who shot him. Another one, Guard B, followed beside him to act as his support. The remaining Guards C and D were by Sakayanagi’s side to protect him.

      And the worst part is…

      Sosei stealthily reached his right hand towards one of the pockets of his tactical vest and gripped a pistol. It was a Ruger LC9, his weapon of choice due to its light weight and ease of handling.

      There’s no sense of time at all when you’re dead. Apparently, I come back to life straight away after dying. But for some reason, I feel like I’ve been dead for a long, long time…

      “What should we do, Sakayanagi-san? It was a haphazard attempt, but it’s highly likely that the man was an assassin. Shall we head back for today?”

      Guard A asked of Sakayanagi.

      “You took care of him already, right?”

      Sakayanagi replied so, sounding terribly disgruntled.

      “Now my plan is all ruined. More importantly, how did he know I was coming?”

      “I’m afraid…”

      When Guard A minced his words, he sighed deeply and irritably.

      “Investigate where the info leaked from immediately. …Looks like there’s no choice. I’m cancelling the visit. We’re leaving!”

      “As you wish.”

      Sosei watched the scene of Guard A bowing as he apologized in the corner of his eyes. He quietly crept between the gaps of the glass display cases, then stood up without a sound and aimed his pistol.

      He was around 5 meters from the target. With Guard A bowing his head down, there was a clear view of Sakayanagi.

      Sakayanagi Kenshin.

      He was reportedly 64 years-old, but looked to be in his fifties only. The first impression he gave off was that of an actor portraying the father role in a television drama series.

      Despite committing a multitude of crimes starting since 40 years ago, Sakayanagi had never once been arrested. In just one generation, he built up an organization called “Rosa rugosa” that smuggled illegal drugs and even conducted human trafficking, all without any prior ties to a crime syndicate or the overseas mafia. On a side note, his brother was an ex-policeman who even rose to the position of Superintendent General.

      Sosei gripped the Ruger LC9 with both hands to stabilize his aim and squeezed the trigger.

      The bullet struck the right side of Sakayanagi’s nasal bridge and he stumbled with a *ugh*.

      “Ah!?”

      In the time the guards took to turn around and ready their firearms, Sosei fired twice more. The second bullet hit between the brows, and the third right smack in the middle of his nasal bridge.

      I’ve got him.

      Sosei knew when he had taken the life of another. He would feel a unique *thump* sound reverberate in the center of his body… or perhaps it’s more like a sensation.

      For each life he took, his own increases by one.

      He already died once just now, so this brings the balance back to zero. Nah…

      “Ugh…”

      The bodyguards fired their weapons. Their aims were good, with seven or eight shots hitting him in the head or torso all at once. He pretty much died instantly.


      …This sucks.

      Sosei was lying in a pool of his own blood. It appeared he had died and collapsed on the floor.

      Though it’s a bit too late for regrets…

      The second he raised his body and reached out for his Ruger, more gunshots echoed. It seemed like all of Sakayanagi’s guards were crack shots.

      “Oh…”

      He pretty much died instantly.


      …That makes two deaths in a row. Now I’m at minus 2, huh…

      This time, he fired his pistol without getting up from the ground. The bodyguards were rushing towards him and he managed to hit one of them even without aiming.

      “Argh…”

      Who knows whether it was Guard A, B, C or D. Sosei continued firing four more times while getting riddled with holes, taking down two guards in total.

      Back to zero… Uh…

      Right then, another bullet pierced through his brain and he died.


      It was pretty bad when he revived. He was lying spread eagle on the ground and one of the guards was pressing his right shin against his neck. To make things worse, a barrel was pressed against his forehead. He was going to be killed again despite only having just returned.

      “What the hell are you! Monster…!”

      Give me a break…

      His Ruger LC9 was nowhere within his reach. One of them probably kicked it away or something.

      He grabbed the pistol pressed against his forehead and angled it upwards. The guard was just about to squeeze the trigger.

      “Ah…!”

      The man immediately released his finger from the trigger guard. Any longer and he would have fired at his own head. Those who received gun training usually reacted the same way. However, he also removed his shin from Sosei’s neck. That was a fatal mistake.

      Sosei could finally breathe. He instantly snatched the guard’s pistol from him and shot. He managed to fire three time, killing the man, before the final guard shot him.

      My temple…

      That was the last thought he had before he died.


      …It’s been a while since I died so many times…

      When he revived, he found the remaining bodyguard pointing his gun at him at around four meters away, his breathing wild and body trembling like mad.

      “Wha-… What the… What the hell are you! Fuck…!”

      In a stroke of luck, Sosei had died with his finger still in the trigger guard. It also looked like the final surviving guard had emptied his entire clip into Sosei’s body. The pistol in his hands was probably out of ammunition.

      “I get why you would think it’s like a cheat.”

      Sosei wrapped his right hand around the pistol grip and supported the bottom with his left. Then, he took aim and fired.

      “Gah…!”

      The guard took the bullet in his chest, then turned around and started fleeing. Sosei couldn’t let him escape. His second and third shots both hit true.

      “…N-No…”

      When the man collapsed onto the floor, Sosei got up.

      “I didn’t choose to become like this, just so you know.”

      He closed the distance between them and placed a bullet in his head. *Thump*… with that sound, Sosei knew the deed was done.

      “I killed five, but also died five times. It all balances out to zero, huh.”

      While still gripping the pistol with his right hand, he touched both of his ears with his left. The earpieces had dropped out somewhere along the line.

      “Need to go find them. Sister will be mad at me if I lost them…”

      He sighed once and started walking.

      “How is it possible. Someone like me having a girlfriend…”


Back to Chapter 1 | Table of Contents | Forward to Chapter 3


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