Back when Kira first appeared, people had been cautious about him. Many supported him in secret, but news stations refused to acknowledge his existence for awhile, and even then they were very careful about what they said. As the years went on, he became more and more influential. But Taro had never seen Kira so aggressive. Maybe that's just because he had never really been on the inside before now.
But he was in now. According to L, he had used this room in the very beginning. Before there was a task force, back when he worked alone. Supposedly, this was a location that Kira didn't know about, so the five of them were setting up headquarters here. Taro had scouted out the place, while the others were trying to smuggle Ryuzaki in, which wasn't easy with the diligent Kira supporters on the streets.
Taro heard the door open, and Sayu entered. "Where are the others?" Taro asked.
"Ryuzaki thought it would be less suspicious if came in smaller groups," Sayu said. "Matsuda and Yamamoto are hiding Ryuzaki in the car; people won't ask any questions about two police officers. They should be here in about fifteen minutes, and we'll start the meeting then."
"Good," Taro said. "In the meantime, we need to talk."
Sayu tilted her head inquisitively.
"About this," Taro said, holding up the eraser.
"Oh," Sayu said, frowning. It was almost like she had forgotten that she was mad at him. Maybe she just hadn't expected to bring him up.
"I guess it's pretty late for me to just say 'I'm sorry,'" Taro admitted. "And I don't know if it's a really an apology, since I can't say I would have done it any differently..."
"You're not helping your case," Sayu muttered, folding her arms.
"Well, personally, I don't know what you expected!" Taro snapped. Sayu looked stunned, but he went on. "I couldn't trust anyone. I saw Kira everywhere I went. And I don't just mean I suspected practically everyone. I also saw his influence everywhere. The news, the conversations, the piles of corpses...everything was a reminder of what I had done!
"You can't imagine how that feels! Every night, I relive that day over and over again, and every night I wish I could take back what I did, undo that terrible mistake! And then every day I wake up and have to deal with the consequences of it!"
"I'm trying to tell you that it doesn't have to be like that," Sayu said. "You don't have to bear it alone. You were always there for me when I needed comforting, but when you need it, you close yourself off. We have to trust each other."
"But trust gets people killed in this day and age. The only reason I'm still alive is because I guarded my name from your family," Taro snapped angrily. But as soon as the words left his mouth, Taro knew he had gone too far.
"How dare you?" Sayu demanded, trembling with anger. "How could you think that you're the only one who's been affected by this? How do think I feel about my own brother being a murderer?"
"I didn't-" Taro began, but now it was Sayu's turn to let her anger out.
"Kira is a menace to everyone, not just you. All of our old friends never talk to us anymore, because Kira has put constant fear into their lives. Mr. Matsuda lost all of his friends. Ryuzaki actually died. And out of everyone in my family, I'm the only one who's still alive, aside from my brother. But in a way, I envy Mom and Dad; at least they didn't have to live knowing their son was a killer! So stop feeling so sorry for yourself; you made a mistake. And it's true that because of that mistake, a lot of people have died, and other people may keeping dying. But, as tragic as it is, that sort of thing happens. You're not the only one who's suffered because of Kira."
"I never said I was," Taro protested.
"Than stop acting like it!"
Taro was silent. What had he done over the past 10 years? Ultimately, not enough. Sure, he had spent some time trying to find Kira, but most of it had been brooding and sitting, constantly reminded of how he had screwed up. Even now, when Kira was technically closer than ever, he had contributed very little, at least towards positive results. He felt like he was just along for the ride. The guilt of what he had done was still weighing him down, and kept him closed off from the rest of the world.
I've been in this battle for all the wrong reasons, he thought. It was to undo my error, reconcile my sin. It was about me. But just because it was my fault doesn't mean that anyone else feels less scared than I do. It's for all the victims of Kira that I should be fighting for, not just me.
As if reading his thoughts, Sayu knelt in front of him. "Please," she begged, "don't hide things from me anymore. If things have become so bad that we can't even trust each other, then Kira really has won."
Taro knew she was right. "There is one thing. But-"
Just then, L, Matsuda, and Yamamoto entered the room. Taro stopped mid-sentence. Sayu looked at him expectantly, but he mouthed, "Later." She nodded understanding that he did intend to tell her, and was not trying to keep hiding things.
Sabanto couldn't believe her eyes.
"Are you...Kira?" she asked it.
"No," it answered. "But Kira sent me. My name is Armonia Justin."
"Why have you come to me?" she asked. Not that she didn't feel greatly honored.
"Kira has invited you to take on an even greater role in the salvation of this world." The death god pointed at the sheets of paper in her hand. "With that, you will have the power to kill as Kira can. He wants you to assist him in cleansing the world yourself."
Sabanto's eyes grew wide with excitement. A chance to...join Kira personally...in his desire to create a new world? This was what she had always dreamed of.
"There's one more thing," Justin said. "Kira wishes you to make a trade with me. If you give up half of your remaining life, I can grant you the power to know a person's name just from looking at their face."
Sabanto smiled. With that ability, she could be even more useful. "If it serves Lord Kira, I will gladly accept."
Justin smiled. So far, Light had been extraordinarily thorough in his planning. If Yuu Sabanto agreed to handle the killing in Japan, Light would be free to focus on keeping the public on his side. He had even arranged to forfeit ownership of the notebook while retaining his memories. Now, if Ryuk had given the shinigami eyes to anyone, they wouldn't be able to tell that Light was Kira unless they already knew. And then there was Light's bold demand to the shinigami king.
I can see why you like this human so much, Ryuk, Justin thought. I hope things are just as entertaining on your end.
"I'm afraid our situation is much worse than I thought," L said.
''Really?" Matsuda asked. Considering how bad things had gotten during the original investigation, it was almost impossible that things could be any worse. "Oh man..."
L continued. "Firstly, the locations of both the secure headquarters that I set up during the original Kira threat and Light's apartment, where the Task Force worked after my death, have been leaked to Kira's followers, most likely through Light himself. In any event, both locations have been destroyed."
"Set afire. Probably to smoke us out, so to speak," Yamamoto said.
"Yes. We are very lucky that we already retrieved the equipment we needed, and that no one was still inside."
"But how are they going to get away with this?" Sayu asked. "Arson? Surely the police have found whoever did it?"
"I would imagine not," Taro said darkly. "Kira's followers are not likely to give up one of their own. And even if they did, it would do no good. Threats of imprisonment won't deter people who take such fanatical measures, especially if it turns out Kira himself gave the order."
Sayu looked surprised at Taro's tone, but Taro knew what L's other bit of news was. Things were even worse than all that.
"I've also been told that Wammy's House has been discovered by Kira's followers as well," L said, clenching his fists.
The detective's face was pale with barely contained rage. Taro had seen that rage before, when L had first heard the news. He could never have imagined Ryuzaki could become almost unhinged the way he did. Near's death had been nothing compared to this. Ryuzaki may have acted cold and indifferent most of the time, but he really did care about the people close to him, and it was clear he was not taking the deaths of those children very well.
Matsuda gasped in horror, but the name didn't mean anything to the others, so Taro explained. "Wammy's House is the orphanage where Ryuzaki grew up. The other children there were all groomed to follow in his footsteps, and even surpass him."
Sayu nodded. "So that's where Near grew up?"
Yamamoto spoke up nervously. "So, when you say they 'discovered' it..."
Ryuzaki gritted his teeth. "I mean they killed them. A group of Kira supporters stormed the orphanage and killed Roger and the other letters."
There was a moment of silence. No one had doubted for a moment that Kira would murder innocent people, but there was something much more disturbing about the fact that he had inspired other people to murder as well, even if it was only under his authority. The fact that many of the orphanage's inhabitants were children just made it even more horrifying.
"Did...did any of them get away?" Sayu asked cautiously.
"One of the older letters was away when it happened. He informed me of the situation. Kira doesn't know he's still alive, so he may be able to help us out," Ryuzaki said bitterly. "But no others survived."
Does he see his legacy as a kind of immortality? Taro thought. That's it. As long as someone succeeds him, he will live on in some way. But now that there's no one left, he's looking at the end of his legacy. To him it's like staring at Death's door: even more so than when he actually died.
"How did this happen?" Matsuda wailed. "Even when things were at their worst, it wasn't like this. It really is like we're the criminals now."
"It's the people," Taro said.
"Correct," Ryuzaki agreed, slipping back into his analytic state. "Kira may have had a certain amount of influence over the people before, but he only directly exerted his influence through his own murders and later through the media, to cast himself in a positive light. Now, however, he intends to play a much more ruthless game by taking direct control of his followers."
"What do you mean by 'direct control?'" Yamamoto asked.
"Through the internet," Ryuzaki said, sitting down by his computer and typing furiously. "Out of all the pro-Kira websites, there's one that I'm sure Light himself frequents regularly. Furthermore, it's possible for Kira to connect directly to his followers through this site, though his orders are often passed down through an established hierarchy." He pulled up the site, and after just a few minutes of perusing, they could see that he was right.
"Wait...so he literally has his own army now?" Sayu gasped.
"In Kira's ideal world, these people would most likely act merely as a secret police, one that is highly efficient and almost anyone could belong to, and provide Kira with steady updates on punishable criminals," Ryuzaki explained. "However, when he is facing a significant threat-"
"Like us," Matsuda piped up.
"-then yes, he could use his followers as an organized civilian force," Ryuzaki finished, as though Matsuda hadn't spoken. "It is no doubt through this means that he arranged both the attack on the Task Force's old headquarters and on Wammy's House."
"So what you're saying is that he really has turned the public almost completely against us," Taro summed up. "Even the people who might support us can't act when Kira's secret police may be watching their every move."
Matsuda cleared his throat. "Light said-wow, I guess that's irony for you-anyway, he said that if the Task Force won the fight against Kira, Kira would eventually be viewed as evil by the people. But if Kira won, he would be justice. The public's opinion would ultimately be dependent on the outcome."
"That would have been true at the time," Ryuzaki admitted. "But Light has changed the rules. Now the outcome is much more greatly dependent on the people. Just killing Kira may not be enough; we must destroy the false image of justice he has built up."
Something about that last sentence didn't sound quite right. "Kill Kira?"
"Yes. Kira's control is so widespread that we cannot be sure any attempt to have him executed legitimately would be possible. He is no longer fighting by the old rules, and our roles have been reversed. In a sense, it is now he who will be the lawful executioner and we the murdering criminals."
L's words took a minute to sink in. The implications of his words hung in the air. At this point, it was no longer a matter of bringing Kira to the legitimate authority. In order to stop Kira, they would have to murder him.
Taro was the first to speak. "In that case, I have just the thing," and the look in his eye told Sayu that he was about to tell her that one thing. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a piece of paper. Ryuzaki was the first to realize what it was.
"A page of the Death Note?"
"Yes," Taro explained. "You burned the whole notebook I found at C-Kira's house, but this is the page that Ryuk gave to me, the one your name was originally written on. I had hoped we wouldn't have to use it."
Ryuzaki's eyes narrowed, as he pondered Taro's words very carefully. Then the look passed. "You propose we simply do it the easy way."
"Yes. If we have indeed resigned ourselves to taking the law into our own hands, we might as well not make things more difficult for ourselves."
"But if it's all the same to you," Taro insisted, staring at the sheet of paper with loathing, "I'd rather not be the one to do it."
"I understand," Ryuzaki said. "However we will all share in the responsibility. After Kira's threat is over, we will turn ourselves in to the police as murderers, and will be judged accordingly. Provided the Kira followers don't exact their revenge on us first."
"But that still doesn't solve the problem of the people overwhelmingly supporting Kira," Matsuda objected. "Not to mention if Kira has come up with some kind of backup plan in case he dies. What if he has a proxy?"
"In that case, one of us will make the deal for the shinigami eyes, so we will be able to recognize the new owner." Immediately, Matsuda volunteered.
"We'll make the arrangements afterwards. What we have to do now..." Ryuzaki said, looking at each team member in turn, "...is decide who will write Light's name."
Once again, everyone was silent. Ryuzaki was almost literally talking about suicide. Even if they won, it would be up to the State whether they would be convicted of murder. Did they really have no other choice? And even if they did, were they willing to become Kira to stop him? Were they ready to take a life? Taro knew he wouldn't, and he was pretty sure that Sayu wouldn't either, even though it was her own brother who had betrayed her. Somehow, he took comfort in that. Ryuzaki would no doubt write the name if no one else would, but even he clearly didn't want to.
"I'll do it."
Matsuda gaped at Yamamoto. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," Yamamoto said. "I'll do it. I just wish you guys didn't have to pay for it, too."
"Since we're not stopping you, that's the way it has to be," Ryuzaki said. "Now, if you would." He handed him a pencil.
Yamamoto picked up the pencil and Taro closed his eyes. He didn't care about possibly going to prison for this, but it sickened him to think that Sayu might. Her words to him earlier came back to him, and at that moment he truly realized that she was the biggest victim of all, and cursed himself once again for being so selfish.
Yamamoto began to write.
Then the unthinkable happened.
Yamamoto suddenly doubled over in agony, his eyes bulging with pain and fear. And before anyone else could react, the young detective was laying on the ground, dead.
They simply stared at Yamamoto's corpse and the half-written name in horror. And there was only one question that burned in their minds: what went wrong? What went wrong?