We loaded Claire’s entire roomfull of weapons and computers into the back of her giant grey van and headed for Narita Izaya’s place.
Izaya was among the older members of the Dungeons and Dragons group that I hung out with up through high school. He’d always been a conniving bastard, though none could argue his intelligence—nor his sadism. Over the past few years, he’d worked as a black-market information dealer, running his operation from the take-out window of a former Wendy’s restaurant. We pulled to the window to place our order.
“Hola! If it isn’t Cirno! And Claire also.”
“Yo, Izaya,” I greeted from the passenger’s seat. Claire had a distinct hatred for Izaya, so she tried to pretend that she wasn’t there. “We’ve got some stuff to ask you about.”
“I assume you’ve got the big green question mark to punctuate that stuff?”
“Of course. Usual fee.” I tossed him a stack of bills wrapped in a rubber band. He pocketed it instantly.
“Alright, gimme the scoop.”
“I need you to have a look at these maps and see if you can tell me what they mean. The context is, ‘bad shit going down here.'” I handed the maps over to Izaya, Claire having to lean out of the way of the exchange.
“You know, Claire, you could say hi,” Izaya teased.
“Do you still insist that I’m a man?”
“Of course. You dated Cirno’s brother, after all.”
What Izaya meant is that my brother was gay. This was certainly a fact, which made it perplexing that he’d gotten engaged to a woman. Since she acted so manly anyway, a lot of people made fun of her over it.
Of course, Izaya spoke as if he truly believed that Claire was a man, and given the way his brain is twisted, I wouldn’t be surprised if he honestly did believe it.
“I’m gonna pretend you didn’t say anything,” Claire responded, “so that I won’t have to jump through that fucking window and beat the shit out of you.”
“Oh? Not like your fat ass would fit…”
“WHAT?!” Claire’s entire body ignited and she tensed up with a glare that could make a strongman shit his pants. Izaya ignored it entirely.
“Anyway, Cirno, I’m having a glance at this map, and I can’t help noticing this peculiar writing all over it. Care to explain what that is?”
“It’s demon writing.”
“Ah, so you know that much. Alright, I’ll fill you in. Each of these cities is home to a corporate building of one of the world’s biggest corporations. The ‘demons,’ as you call them, are planning to use these corporations as a springboard to take over the world. Whatever your plans may be involving the demons, you’ll definitely find them at those buildings.”
“And why do you know all this?” Claire interjected, suspicious.
“Heh. I’m an information broker. I’ve gotta know everything that’s going on in this world. But more importantly…” Izaya reached into his jacket and suddenly produced a gigantic handgun, pointing it right at me through the window of the van. “I was told I’d make a bonus for eliminating anyone that knew about the demons.”
No sooner than Izaya drew his gun and said his line, Claire grabbed him by the wrist, dragged him through his window until his whole forearm was in the cab of the van, and then with a powerful blow from both sides, she broke his bone.
At this, Izaya burst into maniacal laughter.
“Ahahaha!!! I’m just kidding! No need to get so upset!”
Claire stripped the gun from his limp hand and tossed it into the back of her van, then let go of him.
“Well, Cirno, good luck with your little adventure!” As Izaya spoke, he tugged on his arm, seemingly adjusting the break in the limb. “Make sure this crazy Amazon bitch doesn’t cause you too much trouble!”
“Fuck off!” Claire barked in return, slamming her foot on the gas.
“Seeya!” I hollered as the van sped off. In the rear-view mirror, I could see Izaya waving us goodbye with his broken arm.
Once Cirno’s party had driven away, Izaya lifted a phone on his desk and made a call.
“Clint. Expect trouble in Houston tomorrow or the day after.”
<<Good work. We’ll forward a payment to your account.>>
The person on the other end hung up. Izaya smiled wickedly as he did the same.