『One Day Ago』
"You have six hours to prepare for your death, starting now."
The room was sparsely decorated. A boy stood surrounded by a group of hard-faced men. The one with glasses leaned in and smiled at the boy, as if the danger was nothing but a joke. "...So what do you say?"
"Well I can't remember what I did, but I feel like I owe you guys an apology..." the boy answered nervously. He must have done something horribly wrong in order to be summoned before the Organization's entire executive staff. "So um... What did I do?"
"Various things," a large, dignified man answered, his voice low. "Too many to count."
"No way, Boss, there's got to be some mistake. I can't think of a thing."
"I could easily make that attitude of yours disappear, you know. It would only take a word."
"Okay then, what is it? This word, I mean."
The boss's face softened as he replied. "Go buy a hat with Maiza tomorrow."
There was a moment of silence as his words sunk in, broken only when the boy realized that the secretary and the old Asian man were watching him intently.
"But that's... No way... No way!"
As promised, the boy's attitude disappeared with the boss's words, replaced not with fear, but with a childish delight that lit up his features. "You're young, but all of your achievements have elevated your status well beyond your age," he continued.
To buy a hat with a member of the executive staff. The act itself was ordinary, but it held extreme importance within the Organization.
"Congratulations on your executive promotion," said the man with glasses smiling as he approached the boy. "Well then, I’ll see you tomorrow morning in front of the hat shop..."
『Several Days Later, or A Few Hours Ago』
~In Front of the Station~
They were a weird pair of criminals, I'm telling you.
"So this is it, our Capitol of Hope!"
"It's overflowing, isn't it?"
Ugh, I wanted to hit them. This place, overflowing with hope? I hated to think how many people had committed suicide since the stock market slump just last year. Even I lost my job that fateful morning--not fired, the company just wasn’t there when I went in to work that day. Well anyway, some other guy knocked the guy down before I could get to him.
But he got right back up again like nothing happened, raising both arms to the sky and shouting, "This is it! This is the Big City! The thrill of being violently attacked without warning! Living in the moment, trusting nothing but the sharpness of your own senses!"
"I trust my senses! But it's still a little scary!"
"Don’t worry, God is on our side! I know because we stole that priest's clothes from the church the other day, but we never got punished, remember? Which means God's not doing anything to us because we're doing the right thing, I know it!"
I knew something too. These two were morons.
"Oh that reminds me, Miria."
"You should never stick out in this town...at least, not until we start our job."
"Okay! I'll stay plain until we start our job!"
Even those idiots had work. That pissed me off for a minute. They'd said "job" and I thought they meant a real one. Ah, but then I realized. Of course! This was the City of Hope--for the Mafia and other lowlife criminals! So, what have they done? It must have been really bad if you federal investigation guys are after them, right? ...Hey, what are you laughing at? Oh, after that? That reminds me of the last thing they said.
"Okay, let's find a hat shop first!"
"A hat shop! Okay!"
Is that good enough? Yeah sure, you can thank me--refer me for a job somewhere. You don't want to watch me resort to criminal activity, do you? I don't want to have to cling to some distorted hope, even if I am stuck in the back alleys of this old town.
『Several Minutes Ago』
~On the Road~
Silence filled the confines of the small car without conversation to break it. As it dragged on, the female driver thought of how much she would like that suffocating stillness to last forever. Her current existence had no meaning. Glancing around herself, she looked at the humans who despaired over their pointless lives, and she envied them. A pointless existence. How wonderful that would be. To be able to live life for oneself and no one else; she considered that to be the highest definition of freedom. Her life, unfortunately, had a very clear meaning: she was a tool for the aged man sitting in the backseat. That was the entire purpose of her existence, and a fate she couldn't oppose. She'd heard that living unneeded by anyone made a lonely life, but the old man always needed her, and she still felt very much alone. That was why she liked to cloak her body in silence. It was the only time she was able to live for herself, without following his orders.
But her beloved silence was abruptly killed by his insensitive old voice.
"If the death Elixir really is complete, anyone who becomes obsolete must be disposed of."
"I'll take care of it. You just keep the rest from screaming. A simple task, yes?"
She thought of how impartial the old man acted, not only towards her, but towards everyone around him. Race, gender, age, philosophy; saints and scoundrels, the past and the future, those he despised, those who suffered... He treated them all with an equal indifference. Everyone was a tool to him, to be manipulated or disposed of according to their use.
"Have we entered the city? Avoid the main streets."
The female driver stopped thinking to herself then, and began calculating their best route according to her map. She turned the car onto a back road. Around the corner was the entrance to a shop--a hat shop.
~The Gandor Family~
Berga: Hey, why's the design on the Ace of Spades so weird? Change.
Luck: Because it used to be English custom to put the best design on the highest-ranking card. Change.
Berga: Right. But all these kings look the same. They triplets?
Luck: They say the King of Diamonds was modeled after Julius Caesar.
Berga: Caesar who? Oh, this guy, this Jack, his face pisses me off for some reason... Hey, doesn't he look like that guy we killed the other day, the one we found on our turf?
Luck: How should I know? You beat his face into a pulp before I got there... Augh, it's useless, I'm out. I can't beat triple kings.
Berga: ...Huh? How'd you know I had three kings?
Luck: ...Are you seriously asking me that?
Keith: ... *flip*
Luck: All five cards...
Berga: Damn it! We're supposed to stop using Jokers is Poker, Keith!
Luck: Wow, Keith, the God of Death must really like you.
Berga: Idiot, it's the other way around! Keith likes the God of Death!
Luck: Is that so... Oh, it looks like the Death God's real friend has arrived.
Jogi: Oh, Boss... You're all here.
Berga: Hey Mr. Jogi, you wanna play Poker?
Jogi: That reminds me, there were a bunch of cops in the hat shop this morning. Something must have happened.
Luck: Ah, we'll talk about that later. It's not related to you anyway.