Haruki had provided backup for the job. Just up the shoreline from where the houseboat was moored, six gunmen cursed and sweated in a tiny, rented apartment. They watched the houseboat and surrounding area, two at a time, each working one-hour watches, and trading off one man every half-hour. A second four-man team was stationed less than a half-kilometer away to the north. Contrary to Chain and Junichi's expectations, they would not bolt if the fireworks started, however they did have orders the two knew nothing about. There were also two-man teams positioned at strategic points further out around the area: The perimeter lookouts.
It was one such team, the southernmost pair on the waterfront that first heard the telltale sound of the police helicopters. The two men, dressed in grubby work clothes, were loitering against a wall outside a seedy-looking bar. One of them stiffened and looked up as the second was reaching for his radio. By the time he keyed the mic the two birds were flashing overhead.
"Tiger one. Two cop-choppers from the south, coming fast."
"Damn, man; look at that!" His partner suddenly exclaimed. "The lead bird..."
"What's going on?" That was Haruki himself, on the radio.
"Uh…they saw us, boss."
"A chick in one of the helicopters…she was looking right at us as they went by. They know we're here."
"The cop's wife?"
"Naw, some other chick. She looked like she was just a kid, and…she had purple hair."
Chain's cell phone rang. He quickly answered.
"Get the girl and get out! Keep her close! Don't let her out of your sight!" [click]
As he pocketed the phone, Chain heard the unmistakable sound of helicopters approaching. Moving with a street fighter's reflexes, he shouted to Junichi, who had begun to feel hemmed-in by the claustrophobic cabin, and gone out to prowl around the deck. That was the best place for him, anyway. Chain could handle the kid. As he opened the bedroom door, a blur of motion flashed in front of his face.
But she was gone. That blur had been Yuki herself, jumping cleanly through the window with all the grace of a perfectly-thrown basketball passing through a hoop. The window glass had been swung back on its hinges against the wall, and the curtain was on the floor. The opened handcuffs dangled uselessly from the bed frame. All this Chain took in as he was turning towards the houseboat's front door, his hand instinctively reaching for the pistol under his jacket. He hadn't reached adulthood in a very dangerous business by standing and gaping when impossible things happened. He heard Junichi's startled shout, and then as he went through the door, a large splash. That's wrong. He thought to himself. The timing of the splash, in relationship to the jump he'd just seen…that kid was in the air for a long time.
Chain was no dummy. Along with that revelation came the certain knowledge that it was time for the two partners to cut their losses and run fast. Even with Junichi and all Haruki's goons to back him up, he had no desire to face a couple choppers full of cops and two pissed-off magic girls.
Meimi had seen Miho follow something on the ground intently, and leaned over her husband for a look.
"Is that them, Miho chan?"
Miho nodded. "Most likely lookouts."
Inspector Sonoda had seen the two men as well. If Miho hadn't called them to attention, he wouldn't have given them a second glance.
"Lookouts? Wait a minute! Shouldn't we…"
Meimi reached over and gently touch his arm.
"There's no time, dearest. Don't worry, it'll be fine."
"Wha…?"Inspector Sonoda was clearly worried and irritated, but his wife's calm smile had a noticeable effect on him. Miho spared a moment to glance at the couple, who were—just for a moment—in their own world. A profound feeling of sadness swept through her, and then was gone. No time for that, either; they had arrived.
Detective Shinsi was on the radio, talking to the second chopper. Meimi was leaning over her husband, scanning the shoreline out the port side window. The area was dotted with small marinas, and watercraft of all descriptions were scattered along the docks. Suddenly a flurry of activity drew their attention to a shabby looking houseboat, moored to a short dock which connected directly to the shore.
"There!" Miho called, "there she is!"
"I see her." Meimi answered. They were almost on top of it, a bit to the right, about 80 meters up.
"Get your daughter; I'll deal with the rest."
"Wait…" was all Inspector Sonoda had time for. Both women simultaneously threw open their cabin doors…and jumped.
"Hey…!" That was the pilot, as the helicopter slewed unexpectedly. The loss of the two diminutive passengers was not that many kilos difference, but it was unexpected. Also, Sonoda Meimi, being on the far side of the helicopter, had grabbed the door's threshold on the way out, using it to swing herself around towards the splash ripples in the water below.
Detective shinsi and Inspector Sonoda were left alone in the chopper's aft cabin, staring in amazement at each other.
(sigh) "Magic girls! Well, you'd better have the pilot bring us down, detective, or we're going to be late for our own operation."