T/N: Spoilers for Volume 13.
The Awakusu-kai of Medei Group was one of those types of organisation, one that had an extensive territory in Ikebukuro.
With Awakusu Dogen as its leader, it boasted a top-class power status even in the Medei Group, and had marked not only the police but also large companies and mass media with strict attention.
(T/N: Back in Durarara!! the Awakusu-kai was middle-class.)
An executive of this organisation, Shiki, had been called to the headquarters of the Awakusu-kai early this morning.
Having nothing come to mind at the summons, Shiki went to the headquarters half-warily – Only, waiting for him was a stray bullet from a completely unexpected direction.
“Disappearances, is it.”
In response to Shiki, the man in the leather seat – the young head of the Awakusu-kai , Awakusu Mikiya – replied across a high-quality wooden table.
“Yeah, disappearances. Especially with young people, it’s been happening a lot in our territory.”
Mikiya was the second son of the current leader and the one who came closest to the title of ‘heir’; as there were other officers who begrudged this, he was in a position where he could not at any cost show weakness. In recent years organisations like their own had had few cases where leadership was passed down the bloodline, and moreover Mikiya’s older brother was walking the straight path, so it was known that he had entered this world of his own accord.
He was countering the malicious talk behind his back, that he was riding on his father’s favour, with his own capability, and was currently at heads with one of the executives, Aozaki.
“There’s been everything from kids around 15 to a magazine reporter in her 20s.”
He said this sourly; and Shiki, after a number of seconds considering how to reply, said,
“That’s the first I’ve heard of this – when you say an increase, by how much has it been?”
“I’m not aware of the initial number, but just from what I know there’ve been 15 cases this month.”
At this information, Shiki sunk into thought briefly.
—Most likely the Young Head has proof from an informant in the police.
—If that’s the case, it’s safe to assume the information is accurate.
—Of course, 15 people missing seems to be a great number, but…
Even so, Shiki reconsidered.
Although the number of missing persons reports that warranted a search request was a varying trend over the years, the average number in the whole of Japan was about 80,000 per annum.
If one were to heed the fact that for many years the number exceeded 100,000, 15 was not a large number at all.
“If you think of Tokyo’s population, and the cases that are runaways, it’s not a very surprising digit, is it? It shouldn’t be a concern.”
Of course, not all missing persons disappeared as though spirited away; in a large proportion of cases they were found after a search was requested.
“For that matter, if you think of children running away from home… Ah, sorry. I didn’t mean the incident with Miss Akane.”
There Shiki bowed his head. Mikiya had a daughter by the name of Awakusu Akane, who had, while still in elementary school, run away from home for a few days 2 years ago.
“No, it’s all right. At first I thought it could’ve been runaways like our daughter, but…”
“What is it? It couldn’t be something connected to the organisation?”
“It could. No, I would love to think it wasn’t, but even so the guys over at the police are suspecting us.”
“And why so?”
It was true that the Awakusu-kai, by their nature, occasionally created ‘missing persons’.
But so far as Shiki was aware, they had never been inclined to whimsically vanishing perfectly innocent people from the streets.
It was one thing to threaten a magazine reporter who had gotten hold of any unpleasant evidence, but there was no reason to go so far as to eliminate a student only around 15 years old.
If the Awakusu-kai distributed drugs it was possible that that child could’ve been a trafficker, but in the first place the Awakusu-kai should have no hand drug dealing.
The leader himself disliked drugs, and moreover one of their executives Akabayashi had an extraordinary hate for them, so no one had been so foolish as to attempt it.
Furthermore, insofar as drugs were the most effective means of income, the Awakusu-kai’s policy was to act in a manner that would give them the home advantage, so it was necessary to avoid repelling the residents of the city more than necessary.
As such, it would be less than advantageous for there to be rumours that the Awakusu-kai were related to the disappearances.
Shiki, gradually understanding Mikiya’s frown, regarded him again with a different perspective.
The leather chair creaked under Mikiya, as he returned Shiki’s question.
“Do you know about the Headless Rider?”
“You know, right? They’re a courier you and Akabayashi hire now and then.”
“Yes, I suppose. Though they’ve been on leave recently.”
Shiki answered without making to conceal anything, to which Mikiya continued, calmly: “Apparently they took care of Akane somehow. She talks about them occasionally.”
“Yes, during the commotion when she ran away, we paid for their assistance to help her.”
“This might sound too direct, but what are they?”
At this point Mikiya narrowed his eyes.
“It can’t be that there really isn’t anything above their neck, can it?”
“It’s not easy to believe, but it’s true.”
At Shiki, who spoke calmly, Mikiya slammed the table.
“You bastard! It’s no time to be making shitty useless jokes!”
Even in the face of a shout that would’ve caused any other person to recoil, Shiki, with a cool expression, replied courteously. “Young Head. I think you would know best whether I am a person to make shitty useless jokes at a time like this.”
At that Mikiya went silent.
Indeed, with Akabayashi it would be unsurprising, but Mikiya knew well that Shiki was not the kind to brush off a question like this with a joke.
That was exactly why he could not easily accept it.
“No… Wait, all right, wait a moment. Nothing above the head… So you’ve seen the Headless Rider like that before?”
“Yes, which is to say, the Headless Rider is the Headless Rider. It is natural to doubt; I will introduce you directly next time. Head Dogen is aware, though.”
Mentioning the name of Dogen, who was the leader as well as his father, was not something he could interpret as a joke and beat Shiki up for. In the first place, not only Shiki – no one in the organisation would be so extreme as to use Dogen’s name for a lie or a joke.
Mikiya could not accept it, but having decided that the conversation could not progress like this, he changed the topic despite still being confused.
“…Well, we can come back to this some other time. Whether the Headless Rider’s the real thing or a magician doesn’t matter. The problem is that the Headless Rider might have a hand in the disappearances.’
“…The Headless Rider?”
“Yeah; the missing people… All of them were big fans of the Headless Rider.”
At the sudden use of the term, a frown formed on Shiki’s face.
“Yeah, fans. They were interested in the Headless Rider, tried to chase them in some way or another. They seem to have become something of an idol with the more air-headed youngsters… Apparently he news reporter who disappeared was also hunting down information on the Headless Rider…”
“Those people have always been around, haven’t they. Why suddenly…” “I’d like to know that too. Now and then there’ve been freelance writers going after the Headless Rider, but that one’s the first to disappear. But it looks like it’s been spreading badly on the internet or something.”
“I see, so it mixed with the rumours that we’re connected to the Headless Rider.”
As Shiki nodded, his tone agreeing, Mikiya sighed deeply.
To most executives in the organisation it could have appeared as a show of weakness, but perhaps he trusted Shiki that much. Mikiya crossed his fingers on the desk, and met Shiki’s eyes as he said:
“…I heard that seniors at Akane’s middle school have disappeared, too.”
“In her own way Akane feels a debt for the help when she ran away. So when she heard the rumours that the Headless Rider was responsible she said they wouldn’t do something like that; apparently she’s looking for the Headless Rider on her own now.”
“Whether or not the Headless Rider was responsible, it is something you should stop, hm.”
If the ‘Headless Rider’ Shiki knew of had indeed been behind the disappearances, it would naturally be dangerous for Akane. Other than the fact that they knew Akane’s face and position, the fact was that causing mass disappearances could not have been done with a sound mind.
Conversely, if the Headless Rider had no part in the disappearances, it was clear that should this mystery kidnapper hear that Akane was investigating the incidents, she would likely meet the same fate.
“…Of course, I stopped her. But you should know how Akane is.”
“Yes. Certainly she would nod on the surface but start something in secret.”
“Seriously, who does she take after…”
—Mikiya gave off that feel when he was younger, too.
Shiki remembered the time Mikiya himself had shaken off all of Awakusu Dogen’s regulations and acted irresponsibly, but refrained from mentioning it.
He was not so skilful as to be so sarcastic to a superior.
With Shiki like this, Mikiya continued.
“Well whatever. It’d be much simpler if you could contact the Headless Rider. Get them here as fast as possible… No, it’d be bad for them to come to our headquarters or offices right now. Have them meet you someplace suitable, and ask them if they know anything.”
“…I don’t think that can happen soon, you know?”
Shiki shook his head slightly at Mikiya.
“That courier’s currently on leave… They’re on vacation, with that underground doctor they cohabit with.”
At Mikiya’s frown, Shiki, voice still even, spoke only the truth.
“Not just for the past month; the Headless Rider hasn’t been in the city for a good half year.”