The explosion two days ago caused widespread apprehension because of its huge media coverage and the nature of the incident. Some voiced out their concerns in social media and thought it might not end here. We already got the information regarding our suspects but most of them had alibis at the time of the explosion. Only four people didn’t have any proof regarding their whereabouts during the incident and we were still monitoring them in case something strange happened. “What’s your status, Reina?” tanong ni Hayate sa kabilang linya. I adjusted my earpiece and looked through my binoculars. “Still no sign of the suspects.” “Kana? How about you?” “No signs of them here, too,” she replied. “Okay. We'll contact you once we narrowed down the probable source or supplier of the culprit.” Hayate ended the call and I stared at the facility that was reduced to ruins. There were police officers and investigators roaming around the area, which was declared off-limits, so I opted to watch and observe from a distance. Nandito ako ngayon sa rooftop ng building na ilang metro ang layo mula sa facility. We surmised that they might either return at the crime scene or go to the hospital where the victims are. Kana and I went to the crime scene and hospital, respectively, to see whether some of the suspects would show up. Tumayo naman muna ako at tinanaw ang paligid. The streets beyond this area were crowded with humdrums and busy establishments. I didn’t know weekends could be this hectic outside our world. The sun was already setting and it would get harder to monitor the area once it gets dark. I was about to change places but I halted when I noticed a growing commotion in the next street. Everything happened so fast and the next thing I knew, people were already screaming and running away from an explosion. “Shit!” I cursed as I ran from the rooftops of the buildings. “What happened there?” asked Kana. “Reina? What happened?” tanong naman ni Hayate. “There’s a sudden increase in heat signature in that area.” “Another explosion!” I was about to jump off a building when my skin suddenly tingled. Before I could stop my momentum, a gaping hole of darkness appeared right in front of me, along with a Shinigami who almost decapitated me with his sword. Fortunately, my instincts took over me and evaded the attack. Within a splitsecond, I thrust one of my twin swords through his right leg but he was fast and it only grazed him. Stepping back to reset my plan of attack, I saw the Shinigami who ambushed me. I drew both of my swords and took a defensive stance. Just when I was about to ask who he was, I realized he was one of the Reapers who attacked us before. I remembered how Kana propelled his sickle right into his comrade’s chest. If he was alone, the other one he had rescued must have been in a critical situation or already dead. With a series of short and long tap signals, I sent a message to Hayate by tapping my earpiece to inform them of what was happening in this area. Dit dah dit – dit – dit dah – dit dah dah dit – dit – dit dah dit “What do you want?” I asked. “The heir,” he said. “And your death.” Before I could react to his answer, he swung his Claymore, a medieval type of sword, at my direction but I fended it off with my twin swords. However, I didn’t expect the weight of his attack. He hit them so hard that the impact made my whole body buckle. One of my swords fell from my hand but before he could use that moment against me, I kicked his leg and jumped onto him, my other sword ready to be impaled into his chest. During that splitsecond, I knew I had won but his smile said otherwise. Doon ko na-realize kung ano ang plano niya. “I told you,” he said as the air crackled around us. “If you can’t tell us where the heir is, then your death will suffice.” The next thing I knew, the Black Dimension was already engulfing both of us. “Sh—!” “Reina, get out of there!” Sobrang bilis ng mga sumunod na nangyari. Ang alam ko lang ay nawala na lang bigla ang Shinigami habang nasa harapan ko na si Kana. She was panting as she held her sickle in an offensive position. Lumingon siya sa akin at doon ko lang na-realize na nakahiga na pala ako sa lapag at hindi ko maigalaw ang kanang binti ko. “Here,” she said while offering her hand. I reached for it but I winced when I felt a sharp pain in my leg. “The Shinigami?” tanong ko. “He escaped,” sagot naman niya. “I was a second late.” Tinulungan niya akong makatayo at napatingin kami sa pagsabog na nangyari kanina kaya nagmadali kami papunta ro’n. We set aside our Shinigami encounter and prioritized this incident first. Nang makarating kami ro’n ay wala pa ring firefighters kaya lalo lang kumakalat ang apoy. The main explosion also triggered ignition of electrical wires in the vicinity. May mga taong nagkusang-loob na tulungan ang mga nasaktan sa pagsabog habang ang iba naman ay patuloy na tumatawag ng tulong. “Is this connected to the first incident?” mahinang tanong ni Kana. “Most probably,” I whispered. “Now, it’s an entertainment bar.” I silently cursed myself for being imperceptive. I should have known it would not end with a single incident. I should have prevented it from happening if I was attentive. I could have saved their lives if I was more focused. “Are you blaming yourself now?” biglang sabi ni Kana kaya napatingin ako sa kanya. How did she know that? “How—” “So I was right. And no, I didn’t read your mind.” She looked at me and I could see her intense eyes underneath those contact lenses. “Your expression was enough to know what you’re thinking.” After a few minutes, Hiroshi and Hayate arrived. They were both carrying suitcases and I was sure their devices were all there. “Fifteen bodies inside,” Hayate stated. “Six are already unresponsive. The remaining nine can still be saved.” “Are there any Senshin officer in the response and rescue team who are coming?” tanong ni Hiroshi matapos niyang ibaba ang hawak niyang case. “I think so,” sagot ni Hayate. “This incident has already caused widespread disturbance, along with the first one. Our administration would definitely put one of our officers in this case.” “Okay, then.” He pressed some buttons at the side of his case and a radar appeared on its surface. Fifteen dots came into view and he marked them with some sort of codes so that the Senshin officer could lead the rescue team to their positions. “Reina, Kana, search for any of the suspects in the vicinity,” Hayate ordered. “I’m sure quite a few of them are here.” “You’re slowly turning into a leader,” Kana commented as she looked at me and Hiroshi. “Scratch that. You have to. Only you can lead this team.” “Hey, that’s—!” “Bye,” sabi niya kaya hindi ko na natuloy ang pagrereklamo ko. She started walking away from us and I glared at Hayate because of the subtle yet condescending smile. “Don’t say anything,” Hiroshi suddenly said. “You’re just gonna prove her point.” Napabuntong-hininga na lang ako at umiling sa dalawang lalaking ‘to. “Why am I surrounded with people like you?” I muttered. “I should’ve been in another team.” Naglakad na rin ako palayo para gawin ang utos ni Hayate. I was still bothered by that Reaper but we needed to solve this case so I could focus on that ‘heir’ thing they were talking about. Tiningnan ko ulit ang list of suspects namin mula sa unang case. I went to the rooftop of the opposite building for a better view and he was right. Two of the suspects were loitering near the crime scene. “Saw two of them,” I reported. “Add another two,” sabi naman ni Kana. “Keep observing them. One of them is definitely the criminal,” dagdag ni Hayate. “Last time, it was a serial murderer. Now, a terrorist. I guess we’re going to have our second S-class criminal,” Hiroshi remarked. Kana and I followed the four suspects for a few hours since we couldn’t apprehend them yet without solid evidence. Sina Hiroshi at Hayate naman ang naiwan sa crime scene para i-analyze ang pagsabog na nangyari at para tulungan ang police officers at rescue team. Dahil gabi na ay hindi naging madali ang pagsunod sa suspects, lalo na at tig-dalawa kami ng kailangang i-observe. We went home around midnight to share the information we had gathered to each other. The four suspects we saw lingering around the bar before and during the explosion were: Desiree Doras, a friend of an employee in the facility for the disabled; Ronald Tadeo, one of the caretakers; Ramon Jose Tuazon, a visitor who happened to be a retired general; and Patricia Ibañez, another visitor. "Who was the first one to leave the previous facility?" tanong ni Hayate. "It was Ramon Jose Tuazon," Hiroshi replied. "Then Ronald Tadeo, Desiree Doras and Patricia Ibañez." "And during the second explosion?" "Doras was lurking around the bar. It seemed like she was waiting for someone inside," dagdag ni Kana. "On the other hand, Tuazon just left the bar when the explosion happened. He looked perturbed but he stayed around." "Ibañez was frightened," sabi ko naman. "There was a look of horror on her face that time but just like Tuazon, she waited around until the police officers came. Tadeo was with someone and he was caught off-guard. They just hung around and watched as the rescue and investigation began." We tried gathering more information about those four individuals but I was starting to get distracted because of the chilly night. Halos 2 A.M. na pero gising pa rin kaming lahat at alam kong bukod sa case ay nasa isip din nila ang nangyari kanina. "Focus, Reina," Hayate suddenly said while still typing our report this day on his laptop. Napabuntong-hininga na lang ako. "I can't. Hindi ba kayo nacu-curious sa sinasabi ng Shinigamis na nakalaban natin?" After I said those words, I knew I just shattered their concentration and got their attention. Panigurado namang gusto rin nilang malaman ang tungkol do'n. "See? I'm right," I retorted. "Did he ask you the same question?" tanong ni Hiroshi. I nodded. "Yeah. It's about the heir again. I wonder who that is?" "Do you know who they were referring to?" he asked, looking at Kana. Napatingin din kami ni Hayate kay Kana habang sinamaan naman niya ng tingin si Hiroshi. Her expression turned serious, just like the time when we encountered those Shinigamis. “I don’t,” she snapped back. “I'm not a part of those clans who need their heirs to function." Napaisip naman ako sa sinabi niya. Our tribe has influential clans that have the power and authority to oversee the Senshins. There are four main clans are: Shou clan, the root and leading family of the Senshin tribe; Heren clan, one of the oldest and powerful family that can read closed minds; Jikko clan, a group of warriors who isolated themselves to the world and became Executioners; and the Querino clan, the experts on tracking and luring Shinigamis. "Are you saying that they are hunting the heir of one of these clans?" asked Hayate. "That's the most probable reason, don't you agree?" Hayate and I exchanged looks. If she was right, then they might be looking for Rizelle Querino, the heir of the Querino clan or Hiro, the heir of the Heren clan. Or maybe her. Para namang lumubog ang puso ko nang maalala ko ang mga nangyari noong gabing 'yon. The Council prohibited talking about Akemi and her daughter inside the campus. Anyone who uttered anything about them were punished. "Actually, there's still one more clan," biglang sabi ni Hiroshi kaya napatingin kami sa kanya. "Sorry . . . was." "What do you mean?" "According to Mom's data, there was a clan in the West which specializes in counterintelligence and reconnaissance—the Hansen clan. Those were the Senshins who were always stationed in intelligence agency like FBI, MI6, IB and NSA." "And? What happened to them?" tanong ko. "A decade ago, their village and headquarters were wiped out. The clan was annihilated." "What? Who . . ." My voice faltered. I couldn't imagine how terrible that day was. "I don't know," Hiroshi replied. "There was no data about it." "It must be those Shinigamis," sabi naman ni Kana. "They are the only ones who could do something like that. They think they are superior to everyone and whoever stands in their way will be obliterated. Just like what happened here several years ago." "I see," Hayate muttered, as if he was on trance. Tumingin kami sa kanya at biglang nagbago ang expression niya. "That's it. You're right." "What are you—" "That's the terrorist's motive." "Huh?" Napakunot ang noo ko dahil sa kanya. We were just talking about the Senshin clans but it seemed like his mind was still in that case. Nagulat naman kami nang bigla niyang sinara ang dalawa niyang laptop at tumayo. "Wait, saan ka pupunta?" "Aren't you coming with me?" tanong niya sa amin. "Where?" He flashed a subtle smile. "To the murderer's third exhibition."