February 12th 1955, Lundy
Where should I begin with this story?
I, of all people, should know it best, no?
For this is my story. The story of a young reporter and an unforgettable meeting.
If I tell you the name of ‘phantom thief the Swallow’, I don't doubt some of you might remember that name. Though I will not be as vain as to believe that the real story will ring a bell immediately.
Actually, I believe that there are only few who know the truth. For instance, no one these days recalls that his true name was 'Tsubame'. For both he and I were Japanese. Something no longer very acceptable in the London of these days.
But I'm drifting off. Let's start at the start. It should be a little longer than 15 years ago.
The day where a young reporter met a phantom thief.
Meeting under the moonlight.
January 6th 1940, London
"Tezuka!" a heavy voice shrieked. Said person was sitting behind a desk, his pen in his mouth, staring at a halve full paper. His gaze moved to the door as he recognized the voice.
The man in the door opening looked somewhat excited for his normal doing. He slammed on the desk.
He was the one in charge of working all the people in the right direction without complaint, so to say. A job he was very good at.
The current location is the Rikkai London Times. A daily newspaper that values facts over opinions and will go to far length to find those facts.
Tezuka Kunimitsu is one of their employees. A job he had taken with the reasons of being independent and on the move a lot.
People say he is a person who can handle a lot. Though Tezuka himself wouldn’t really describe himself as a very ‘adventurous’ type.
"The Big Ben. I want you on the scene! Hurry up." He practically pushed Tezuka out of his office.
Not quite knowing what his superior was talking about, Tezuka just let the man push pen, paper and camera in his hands.
It was moments like this when a 1000 questions would rush through a regular reporter’s head.
But Tezuka wasn’t one to retort. And Sanada wasn’t one to listen.
"err.... I see. I'll go then."
A little out of his routine because of Sanada, Tezuka grabbed his coat.
Something going on at the Big Ben? Tezuka didn't expect much out of it. After all, there were far more important things going on in the world right now.
There was war. Germany has had free game, because of the appeasement politics of both England and France. But it had gone too far and since September, the war was declared.
He doubts that the Big Ben had any connection to these important events.
Or at least, he hoped it didn’t, like anyone would.
War is a very unpleasant thing and Tezuka wasn’t hoping for it to come any closer than it already was…
Ah. Perhaps the reconstruction was finished, because of the fire in October 1934?
But as he arrived at the scene, he saw a large amount of police officers. A little surprised, Tezuka tried to converse with one of them. But only to be told to go away.
Well that figures.
The police and the press were like ancient rivals:
One trying to keep facts from surfacing to the public. The other trying to reveal as much as they can.
Tezuka noticed that it was not the Big Ben that was of concern, but rather, a small museum located next to it. What could have happened? Perhaps a murder scene....
As a reporter, it was very unlikely for Tezuka to give up, and so, he searched for an entrance into the building.
Scanning his eyes around for both something he could use and avoiding the angry eyes of any officer, his eyes fell on a narrow alleyway.
The type he had gotten far too familiar with in his career. Dark and smelling of sewer and rotten garbage.
With a sigh, he braved to head over to it.
There, with little trouble, he managed to work his way up on an unsurveillanced fire case.
Inside, it was damp and pitch black. An outage?
It smelled like oil paint and dust.
The floor creaked under his feet with the slightest movement.
He held his breath with every creak, trying to not betray his location any more than necessary.
He heard ruckus outside. Had something happened?
'The tower!' he heard.
Dang it! He should have stayed focused on the tower after all!
He made way for the door, but it proved to be quite a task in the darkness. It was already late and the only place to enlighten the area was a window.
Tezuka moved towards it, to open its old curtains.
But as he wished to do so, the window blew open on its own. A strong gust of winter wind entered, making Tezuka pinch his eyes. It was cold. But somehow, the wind felt very soft as well. Like it was somehow.... Foreboding something....
"My...." He heard a soft voice from behind him. Tezuka froze to the ground. He was not alone anymore.
But the sound of the voice was not hostile. Quite cheery, actually.
It wasn't a police member either. But it sent shivers down his spine, none the less.
"It seems you're not part of the police. Sightseeing?"
Tezuka dared to turn his head. In the dusk of the moonlight he could notice a figure. It was perhaps nothing more but a youngster in his eyes, judging on his height and shape. His voice was rather feminine as well. But Tezuka could detect a long black cape and a white mask which he hid his face with.
Slim grey gloves fitted around his fingers. A small red tie that almost made him look a bit endearing.
And two cheeky eyes shimmering faintly behind the mask.
"If you're not with the police, would you be so kind as to stand slightly closer to the door? I'm a little busy." Indeed, the boy seemed to be fussing with a lock of what seemed a safe.
His feet hardly made a sound on the old floor. If Tezuka didn’t have a firm disbelieve in ghosts, he’d swear he had just met one.
"Who... are you?" Tezuka dared to ask. He could hear a small chuckle.
"You came here, not knowing? My my, quite interesting." A soft click was heard and the boy opened the safe. Inside where many things, seemingly of great value, judging on how they shimmered in the moonlight. There were also paintings.
But the boy took nothing more but a simple ring, not even seeming of much worth.
Tezuka could see a clear blue sapphire twinkle on its top, though.
Without breaking much more sweat or bothering to even close the safe, the masked person head back for the window.
"Hn?" The boy turned his head to Tezuka. "Are you after all planning on stopping me," he glanced at the camera, ", Reporter-san?”
"No.. err... I...... who are you?" Tezuka just repeated.
He smirked, even chuckled for a moment, and jumped on the window-frame. "Have you... ever heard what a phantom thief is?" He asked.
Tezuka was in a daze. He couldn't answer him. He weakly managed to press the button of the camera, mostly out of instinct. His aim couldn't be more off... But perhaps he'd have some use to it later.
The thief smiled, seeing as to how perplexed Tezuka was and jumped out of the window.
"There he is! After him!" Tezuka heard faintly from outside. He could slightly feel his muscles working again. He head towards the emergency exit with a bit of a wobbly pace. The floor was still whining underneath his feet, but he had to hurry before the police would rush in and see him as a suspect.
Back on ground level, he noticed something that wasn’t there before in the alleyway.
Rather than ‘seeing it’, he ran into it face first:
A thin wire. Invisible to the naked eye. Spun tightly passed him, into the alley.
Tezuka could see something lazily dropped into a dumpster.
A shapeless bag of hay, wrapped in a long black piece of fabric.
There was a face scribbled on the bag.
Was this what the thief had used for distraction?
Letting a bag with a black ‘cape’ slide down a wire, to put the police’s attention elsewhere.
It was childishly simple, but Tezuka had to admit it was cunning.
And a word he was starting to think fitted the masked boy well surfaced in his mind: Very cheeky.
What now? It was already late. Should he just head home?
But the adrenaline drove him back towards the office. He had to write. Write what has just happened.
He had the keys, so he got himself inside easily. It was harder to find the light button. Seeing as to how dark the office was, he felt another chill.
It had been so thrilling to stand eye in eye with a thief. Anything could have happened in that dark room. He didn't seem to have been armed and the boy had even looked quite relaxed.... But you never know.
Tezuka sat behind his desk, uneasily biting his pen. He considered what he could and could not write. After all, if he wrote too much, he'd be suspicious of being his cohort.
Tezuka kicked underneath his desk, slightly frustrated. But what he kicked didn't feel like the wall.
"n-Niou!? Were you sleeping underneath my desk again!?" Tezuka shot backwards. The sleepy face of one of the editors appeared from underneath the desk.
"It's so much more comfortable than mine or Yagyuu's.” If comfort is the problem, sleep in a bed!
“.. Back from the scene? How was it?"
Niou grinned. "You've seen him, huh?"
Tezuka moved back to the desk, leaning both his elbows on it. "Just who was that? He claimed to be a phantom thief, but..."
Niou sat on the desk. "Kaitou Tsubame.... Up until now, he's made a move 3 times. Every time he did so, he has left a notice at the police with time and date, yet they couldn't catch 'im. His intentions aren't really all that clear. I guess he's just a plain thief like all the other bunch... but he's a damned flashy and good one."
On that moment, the other editor, Yagyuu, entered. "Niou-kun!"
As he saw Tezuka, he frowned a little troubled. "Tezuka-kun... Has he caused you any trouble again?"
"ah, no, not really.... this time..."
Yagyuu pushed his hand against the back of Niou's head and made him bow along with himself. "I apologize for him being an idiot."
"ah.... That's alright." Tezuka frowned. Not like he wasn’t used to it.
Niou was a very ‘free’ person. Even Sanada couldn’t grasp him to get to work. He did whatever he wanted, where he wanted, when he wanted.
Why was someone like that still working here? He had an amazingly keen eye for detail. If something was out of the usual, he dived at it like a hawk. A quality that comes very handy as editor.
What he did besides that, though…. No one really knows.
On the other hand, Yagyuu was a rather stiff, but polite person.
He acted a lot older then he really was, despite being roughly the same age as Tezuka.
His work was diligent and straight forward.
Also, he was the only one remotely capable of not letting Niou run into 5 disasters at the same time.
"We'll be taking our leave. Please take good care of yourself, Tezuka-kun." Yagyuu shoved Niou out of the room.
Tezuka stared back at the empty sheet of paper in front of him.
"Tsubame...." he mumbled.
He took his pen and wrote:
January 6th 1940, London
At the clock tower of Westminster, at a little past 20:00, he was spotted. The great thief Tsubame who has yet to fail his ambitions. -'