It was clear that the only thing which could draw Shinji’s eye away from battle was the evolution of power far greater than his own. The creature that Ayame had produced slithered in place, menacing and white and donned with quills thicker than lumber. She resided in its tail, peaceful and protected as Shax attended to her wounds. Her hair was impenetrable, a perfect prison which extended more than five meters upward, ending in a face which bore four fangs and two eyes fit with triangular pupils.
Much like Botis, Hiro noticed, Shax took the form of a serpent. It was possible for them to be related, he recalled, but it seemed that Shax fit more into battle than her relative. It was her Tsuki Form, where the true appearance of a Shinigami Lord takes over the physical form of the human host. The true example of a Shinigami’s prowess over the human mind, Hiro found it fascinating despite being unable to understand it.
Hiro was very interested in the Tsuki Form’s existence. It was the raw power of the transformations that he witnessed which drew his attention. By that point, he had seen three and each had been terrifying in its own right. Saboten was the most threatening and Ayame was the most dramatic but Shinji remained the most fearsome of all.
It was Valafar’s power which brought down the Numazu facility, Shinji would never have been able to take on such an important task alone. Shinji craved power, Valafar had given him a taste of it but he would never achieve such strength again. Valafar was dead, end of story. For Shinji, his own strength would not suffice and, as such, he was doomed to a life of inadequacy, as he always had been.
It was within the confines of the Numazu facility where Hiro first discovered the smoking remains of a layered Shinigami. For a short while, he had been following the trail of a tailed man through the labyrinthian facility. It was clear that the tailed man must’ve taken out the creature as its body was ridden with serrated cuts made by an unusual weapon.
Hiro had only gotten a glance at the sword as he was tracking him but it looked handmade. Its body had been augmented with new pieces of metal, gilded with duct-tape and pulled together by screws. He approached the demon with care, attempting to avoid it as it was crackling and still moving a little bit. It had been laying on its front, the reptilian flesh split down its back; naked human flesh stuck out, sore and exposed.
Against the skin, thousands of pin-pricks bled like blooming red lilies, up and then over. It appeared that spikes had kept the outer layer attached to the skin, embedded during the vicious transformation to keep the excess armour attached to the human form. Laying in a heap across from Hiro was Shinji Yamaguchi, wrapped in a coat of Valafar’s skin which chose not to evaporate as it should have. Instead, it sat on the mortal coil as rotting, iron flesh, never to return.
After Hiro pulled him out, it took Shinji a few hours to recover. Still, even afterwards the man was in much better form than Hiro had ever been. He had full grasp of his monstrous talents and new-found speed to an almost-perfect state. Hiro had recognised Shinji as he pulled the final spike from his body but Shinji could not return the favour.
It was in his prior life as a police officer and security guard that Hiro had first come across a young Shinji Yamaguchi but those primary events probably brought them both to their fate as Kanzen Hakujou.
Hiro had once been employed under Scarecrow as a security guard. Perfect for the job, he was tall, muscular, and imposing, not to mention easily purchased given the average police officer’s salary. It was his task to keep thieves far from the grounds of the Numazu facility; thieves such as Shinji Yamaguchi.
Yamaguchi was pulled to a life of crime by unusual circumstances but he was not always a lock-and-pocket picker or a frequent lurker in the Rabu Rabu Hotel. He was once a private school student and a British citizen; he was Shin’ichi Redgrave and he was destroying his family’s reputation, one lock at a time.
It wasn’t that Shin’ichi was a problem child, in fact, in his earlier years he received a good education and got into a high standard university to study engineering. If things had gone his way, Shin’ichi would be standing in the shoes of his father, running the only viable companion to Scarecrow itself; Redgrave Industries. A company which provided Scarecrow with much needed materials for weapon manufacturing until an attempted acquisition by Atticus Kazuhiko.
Greatly insulted, Stephen Redgrave - CEO and father of Shin’ichi - took it upon himself to tear Redgrave Industries from Scarecrow’s grip, turning the companies into competitors, not collaborators. In doing so, Redgrave went against the advise of his wife and business parter, acting solely on pride and determination but it was simply no match for the pure strength of Scarecrow’s rebirth. This now-described ‘fatal distraction’ caused the company to collapse in on itself.
The Redgrave family was left bankrupt and whatever was left of the company was swallowed up by Scarecrow and transported to Japan. Weeks after, Stephen Redgrave was arrested under suspicion of attempted murder of his wife and son, Shin’ichi would soon be sent to Numazu to live in safety with his mother’s family.
When Shin’ichi arrived in Japan, he was penniless. Orders from his mother told him to shack up with an estranged uncle in a small residential district nearby a factory of sorts; the Numazu facility. He could not bare the sight of the building’s name and fled northwards to the streets of Susono, where he lived alone in secret.
Shin’ichi could not survive living rough on such a disgraced name. It was plastered on every newspaper, every television channel knew that Stephen Redgrave had gone against the most powerful company in the world. Just having that man’s blood in his veins made him feel sick to his stomach so he had to do something… Shin’ichi decided he would toss away his heritage. He carved his own identity from pieces of his past and swore away his father’s failings.
Shin’ichi Redgrave took his mother’s maiden name and became Shinji Yamaguchi; a life forged through thievery, stealing what he needed to survive and squatting in abandoned office buildings. He bought respect and gang membership through a slew of inventions which put his engineering degree to use. The most famous of these inventions took the form of seven discreet ear piercings; lock-picking tools to be worn directly on the thief’s person.
These tools became the gang’s calling card after a short while and Shinji quickly rose through whatever rank system the gang had chosen. He lead them to bigger heists and taught them his ways; as the days past, they became richer and richer. When his friends questioned his motives, he would tell them one thing.
“Practise makes perfect.”
Practise was what was needed to bring Shinji’s final plan into action. By the time he decided practise had made perfect, he had grown older and had been caught more than a few times to save them from prison. He was a good man but he was a smooth talker, managing to escape the confines of jail time on each occasion.
Officer Nakamura was to thank for that string of escapes, chalking it up to lack of evidence. They were cat burglars, not crooks, and the police were not prepared for that. Everything was kept professional at Shinji’s command, Hiro Nakamura could almost respect that about him.
The last time the two would meet before the rebellion, it was Shinji’s final job: he wanted to break into the Numazu facility. Shinji wanted… something but did he have an actual plan? Nobody who was questioned could give the sole answer, the gang was a distraction.
When Shinji was finally discovered, he stood shirtless in artificial rain. His hands gripped a ceremonial sword in the middle of the lobby, his feet firmly planted on a water feature where the weapon once stood proud. Upon the blade, the words ‘First, The World’ had been carved into the steel. He had not attacked anybody, that wasn’t his intention. He just wanted to hold it, the Redgrave steel; the first weapon forged during the Scarecrow/Redgrave partnership. When Hiro called him down, Shinji took the blade in his hands and shattered it against the floor.
If Scarecrow had not witnessed Shinji’s power, he would’ve spent the rest of his life in a prison cell. Instead, he was picked out for experimentation along with Hiro and now stood against his friends, fighting for the wrong side. Ayame, still trapped in her snake form, had already started attacking Shinji to which Hiro averted his eyes.
Wielding her fangs like swords, she bit pounds of flesh off his body with ease. He was worthless against her as his weapons could not penetrate her armour. Once Shinji was forced to drop his weapons, she wrapped him in her tail and, through Shax’s body, spoke words to Saboten he never imagined she could say.
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