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AweStriker
Oct 6, 2014



Wait a while.

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PlasticAutomaton
Nov 12, 2016

Artoria Pendonut




God I feel so bad for that waitress.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Mystery.



He decided to wait a little bit longer. Just five more minutes.

No music.

The front door opened.

Unrest.



A grim-looking man emerged, leading another man in handcuffs.

Minorikawa was standing in their way.

“Pardon us,” the serious-looking fellow said. He gave Minorikawa a curt bow as he passed by.

Minorikawa smelled the distinct odor of a scoop. “Hey, does that guy live here?” he asked.



The man ignored him and kept moving.

But Minorikawa followed; he couldn’t let this opportunity pass him by . “Hey, wait up. Is that Mr. Osawa?”

With a grimace, the man pushed Minorikawa aside and hurried his handcuffed prisoner along.



For a moment, Minorikawa wondered if he should keep after them, but he decided against it. Whatever was going on here, he doubted he’d be able to get an interview with the twin girls right now. This had all been an unfortunate waste of time. He had no real choice but to head along to his next interview.

No music.



A few minutes later, the rear tires skidded sharply as the cab came to a stop beside a different curb. The trip from Shoto to the theater in Sakuragaoka had taken almost no time at all.

“Here we are, sir,” Kimizuka announced.

“Wow. That was fast.” Still, Minorikawa was at least five minutes behind schedule. He hoped he’d still be able to get the interview with Oarai.

PlasticAutomaton
Nov 12, 2016

Artoria Pendonut




Well I guess let's get back to Kano.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Setup.




No music.






Kuze’s voice came in over the wireless as the car came out onto Meiji-Dori. “We’ve identified the owner of the condominium. It’s Mamoru Tanaka. He’s a colleague of Kenji Osawa.”

“What?!” Kano squawked. This was an unexpected twist.

“Kajiwara confirms that Tanaka left the Osawa residence at just after 14:00 hours. No word on his movements since then. It’s possible he headed to his private condo, where the attaché case is slated to end up. Any officer who runs across Tanaka is to apprehend him on sight.” Kuze cut the connection.



“This mastermind you’ve been chasing,” Kano asked. “Is it Tanaka?”

Stanley didn’t reply.

“Fine. Never mind. I just wish I could know if Tateno is safe...”



“Still worried about that traitor, huh?” So Stanley could ignore all of his questions, but still remember to make snide remarks.

“Talking about Tateno’s the only thing that gets a reaction out of you, isn’t it?” Kano snorted.

“What makes you so certain he can’t be a traitor?”

“Tateno just isn’t like that.”

“That’s not an answer,” Stanley scoffed.



“All right. I’ve watched the man work for years. I know him. He has no reason to betray the force.”

“You’ve watched him work, huh? What about his private life, then? You know all about that too? He hasn’t had money trouble or anything like that?”

Kano felt his blood starting to boil. “I don’t care what you think,” he said. “I trust Detective Tateno.”

“Trust him? On what basis?”

“I don’t need any basis to have faith in someone!” Kano snapped.



“Without any basis in fact, it’s just plain sentimentality,” Stanley said. “There’s no reason or logic to it.” A thin smile came to his face. “Be they friends or family-you can never really know other people. The only person you can trust is yourself.”

Kano had no response for such an emotionless statement. He looked away. He and Stanley were just plain incompatible. It seemed like no amount of talking would let them get through to one another.

“Never take anything at face value, Kano. You start trusting too much, you’re basically as good as dead.”

Kano just stared out the window.



The Shibuya precinct came into view. Tanaka’s condo wasn’t much further, now.



They were outside of Tanaka’s condo now.

“Over there,” Stanley said, keeping his voice down.

Across the street was one of the foreign syndicate members, walking briskly, theattaché case clutched at his side.

Pursuit.

“I'm making the arrest!”

“Kano, wait!” Stanley exclaimed.

Kano heard him loud and clear, but he had no intention of stopping. He approached with the criminal at full speed, then leapt to tackle him around the waist.



The two men fell to the pavement in a tangled heap; the collision sent the attaché case flying.



Kano’s eyes tracked the case for a moment too long. He was caught off guard when the man threw a punch at him.



The blow caught him right in the jaw, snapping his head back. For a moment Kano saw stars. As he shook off the impact, the man sprang to his feet and sprinted away in the direction of Stanley’s car.

asymmetrical
Jan 29, 2009

the absence or violation of symmetry


Grab the case - we've been chasing after it for too drat long.

AweStriker
Oct 6, 2014



Get the case!

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Pursuit.



“Get the case!”

Stanley headed for the attaché case while Kano went after the suspect. Suddenly the fleeing man skidded to a stop.



Several cars had pulled across the road ahead, and detectives were pouring out of them. His escape route cut off the criminal resigned himself to capture. While Kano helped make the arrest, several of the other detectives broke into Tanaka’s condo.

No music.



Stanley, meanwhile, was carefully inspecting the exterior of the attaché case. He’d already opened it; it was stuffed with bundles of bank notes.



The fifty million yen ransom was back in police hands.

“This is a decoy,” the American muttered under his breath. “I wonder where...” His words trailed off, but Kano had heard them.

“What did you expect?” the detective demanded. “Samples of that new drug in there?”

As usual, Stanley gave no reply. The look on his face, however, told Kano he’d been right on the mark.

Some of the backup team emerged from Tanaka’s condo. Kano turned to them, feeling a sudden surge of anxiety for Maria.



“What’s the situation in there?” he asked. They told him that they’d found no one in Tanaka’s rooms. So the hostage’s status remained unknown, and the main culprit had evaded capture. This case hadn’t been solved-in fact, it was still unfolding in the worst way conceivable.



And still Stanley remained focused on the attaché case, pondering it with a thoughtful expression.

“Look,” Kano told him. “I’m going to request that I be returned to my normal duties. Maria still needs to be rescued, and I still need to find out what happened to Hitomi and Detective Tateno.”



For once, Stanley actually responded.

Verification.

“Hitomi? Yes, that’s it! It makes perfect sense that they’d have her carry it.”

“Huh? What do you mean?”

“This whole attaché case relay was a fake out.”

“Whoa, slow down,” Kano said, wishing he could calm himself with his words. “Explain what you’re talking about.”

“Somehow, the kidnappers made contact with Kenji Osawa, and got him to have Hitomi carry the drug, separate from the ransom.”

“Wait. You’re saying they had Hitomi bring them the drug?”

Stanley nodded. “The case handoffs were a sort of camouflage, a way for them to keep the police distracted from their real goal.”



Kano nodded. It had indeed felt like the case relay was a decoy, an attempt to buy time. If this syndicate were after something else entirely, that would explain why so many of their actions had appeared to make no sense.



“So,” Kano asked, “what sort of drug is this? Why would they go to such lengths to get their hands on it?”

“It’s an antiviral,” Stanley replied after some hesitation. “A way to cure people infected with a very particular virus.”

“What virus are we talking about?”

“It’s called ‘Ua.’”

Kano never heard of it. Still, he could imagine the possibilities. Suppose this Ua was something like the Ebola virus. Or perhaps HIV. Even the all-too-familiar influenza.

There were medicines that could treat all of those diseases, but nothing that could cure them completely. Any drug that could do that would be worth vast sums of money.

General Tip – Ebola virus posted:

General Tip – HIV posted:

General Tip – Influenza posted:




“Kano, do you have any means of getting in touch with Mr. Osawa?”

“Yes. I know one of the detectives stationed at his home.”

“Check in with him ASAP. Find out whether or not he gave the antiviral to Hitomi.”

Kano suppressed a scowl. It looked like he wasn’t done assisting Stanley yet. He got out his cell phone and dialed up Kajiwara.



Kajiwara picked up promptly. “Kano? What’s going on?”

“Could I speak with Mr. Osawa?”

“I suppose that’d be all right. What for, though?’

“There’s something I need him to confirm for me. It’s an emergency.”

“All right. Just make sure not to tell him anything about the investigation.”

“Sure thing.”



After a while, a man’s hoarse voice came over the line. “Osawa speaking. Can I help you?”

“This is Detective Kano, from the Shibuya precinct. Time is critical, so I need to just cut to the chase, here.” Kano took a deep breath. “Did you give the antiviral drug to your daughter Hitomi?”

  • There's a Keep Out here, but since we already went through this scene with Osawa, we can unlock it straight away.

Osawa let out a gasp. “What-ah, what are you talking about?”

“I’m the one asking the questions here, Mr. Osawa. Did you give the antiviral drug to your daughter Hitomi?”

“I’m...I’m not sure I understand the question.” Osawa’s voice trembled as he spoke.

Kano was sure he’d hit the nail right on the head.



“It’s Hitomi.”

Osawa remained silent.

“Mr. Osawa? Is everything all right?”

The line went dead.



“Guess that answers that well enough,” Kano said as he put away his phone.

No music.



Now it was clear why the criminals were after Hitomi.

He saw an uneasy look on Stanley’s face. “Something on your mind?” Kano asked.

Stanley responded with a question of his own. “If Hitomi was carrying the antiviral, how were the criminals planning on getting it from her?”

Kano thought for a moment. “Well, taking her by force at the scramble posed too high am risk,” he said. “There were nearly a hundred detectives there, and they must have guessed there would be. That’s why they devised the attaché case relay. They wanted to abduct Hitomi somewhere away from the dragnet’s notice.” This was the plan that all the signs seemed to suggest. “But still,” he added, “I wonder how they managed to lead her away from police protection?”

A look of revelation crossed Stanley’s face. “All they’d need to do was convince her to go of her own accord.”

“But how?” Kano asked. And then it came to him. He thought back to Hitomi’s initial contact with Tariq al-Karawan.



Just before he’d taken the attaché case from her, the two had a brief conversation. It was possible al-Karawan had given Hitomi some form of instructions then.

Shinya Kano



“Guess we’re back to tracking down al-Karawan again, huh?” Kano could tell from the look in Stanley’s eyes that he was on the verge of saying something. Probably some remark about how Tateno had allowed al-Karawan to run free. Right now, Kano wasn’t going argue the point. After this case was resolved, he’d discover what Tateno’s real motives were. And once he did, Stanley would eat his words.

In the meantime... “We can’t just wander around looking without any leads,” he said. “Until we get more intel, let’s see what we can do with the security cameras back at the precinct.”



Numerous monitors shone down on the pair as they entered the Shibuya precinct’s surveillance room. Each showed an array of faces of individuals somewhere in Shibuya.

Kano asked one of the operators to pull up al-Karawan’s data on screen.



By selecting each of the faces on the monitors in turn, they could run comparisons to determine if anyone among them was al-Karawan. One by one, the operator made his way through the faces. Assuming their target was still in Shibuya, there was a high likelihood they’d find him.



But the minutes ticked past, and there was still no sign of him. Kano’s tone grew more and more impatient as he directed the operator’s search.

“Just calm down,” Stanley said. He set a hand on Kano’s shoulder. “You keep wasting your energy when you don’t need to.”



“That’s just how I do things,” Kano replied. “I’m energetic because I care!” He pointed out another face to the operator.

“Well, you’re setting yourself up for a short life.” With a sigh, Stanley sank into a nearby chair.



“My brother was like you.” The American spoke so quietly that his words were barely audible.



Ten minutes later, a man clad in black appeared on one of the monitors. The operator lined up his cursor. The comparison check confirmed that it was al-Karawan.

“Yes!” Kano hissed, pumping his fist.



It appeared that their quarry was simply walking around town, calm and composed. Kano radioed in al-Karawan’s location to Kuze.

“All units, intercept the suspect on the double!” Kuze ordered. “Kano will provide guidance using the surveillance monitors.”



They saw al-Karawan stop in front of a cigarette vending machine. Was he waiting for someone?

“Sasayama reporting. I’ve got eyes on the mutt.” Kano’s partner had evidently been nearby.

General Tip – Mutt posted:

Mutt: perpetrator

Hook: to put someone in cuffs

Dipper: pickpocket

Wants: outstanding warrants

Hang Paper: to write multiple citations

...and other such traditional police jargon.

“I’m making the arrest,” he said. There was a note of courage in Sasayama’s voice. He came into view on the monitor, walking casually.

No music.



At some point, he’d ditched his anime-nerd costume for a cat mascot suit.

On The Move.

“Oh, no,” Kano muttered. “That getup’s going to make Sasayama stand out like a sore thumb!”

“Shoot! The mutt spotted me! I’m going in pursuit!”



Sasayama slipped out of the camera’s view. “Whoa! What gives? Let go of me!”

“You’re Mr. Yanagishita, right? Look, I’m sorry, but I really do need you to return that costume!”

The voices came in over the wireless; it sounded like Sasayama was caught up in an argument with someone.

“Sasayama!” Kano shouted as he eyed the monitor.

“Kano, I need some help, here! Requesting emergency backu-” The line went dead before Sasayama could finish.

Kano didn’t have the faintest idea what was going on, but obviously his partner needed him. He rushed out of the precinct.

Fatigue.



When he arrived on the scene, he saw Sasayama, still in the cat suit, caught up in a scuffle with a man he’d never seen before. There was no sign of al—Karawan. “Sasayama, what’s going on?”

“That’s an excellent question,” Sasayama replied. “This guy just came at me out of nowhere.” He sounded pretty riled up.

“Sir, I need you to return this costume! My boss was very insistent on that point!” The man was panting with exertion, shouting in Sasayama’s face. Was he the owner of the suit?

“What’s the deal with that thing, Sasayama?” Kano asked.

“I bought it at a variety store on Center Gai. Figured it’d be a perfect disguise. I didn’t steal anything!”

“Sir, I’m telling you, you need to give that back!”

“And I’m telling you I’ve got no idea what you’re on about!” Sasayama stamped his foot.



“I realize that you’re not Mr. Yanagishita. That isn’t the issue. I just need you to return that costume!”

“All right, sure, I’ll give it to you! I just need it a little longer, so let go of me!”

“I can’t do that, sir! I need you to get out of that suit right now!”

“Yeah, I get that, buddy, but no can do! It’s like I told you before: the zipper on this thing’s snagged!”



Kano watched as the argument descended further and further into absurdity. Meanwhile, al-Karawan was getting away. This was ridiculous. He turned to go in pursuit of the suspect.

“Kano, wait!” Sasayama called out. “C’mon, help me out, man.”



“Huh?”

“Help me get this thing off.”

“Now really isn’t the time for this,” Kano replied. “I’m going after the suspect.”

“Oh, I get it. You’re gonna ditch me here so you can take all the credit for yourself.”

“Whoa, what?”

“I was this close to nabbing the guy! That arrest is mine to make! And you know it!”

It wasn’t as though Kano couldn’t empathize. If Sasayama hadn’t been blindsided by this random stranger, he probably would have caught al-Karawan just fine.

“All right, then,” Kano said. He reached for the zipper at the back of the cat suit.



But as Sasayama had said, the metal fittings were snagged, and refused to budge.

“Hurry up!”

“I’m trying.”



There wasn’t time to do this slowly and carefully. Kano yanked down on the zipper hard.

“Stop!” the stranger shrieked in alarm. “Don’t be so rough like that!”

“But if I don’t, I’ll never-”

“You mustn’t! If you aren’t careful, you’ll cause a malfunction!”

Malfunction? What the hell was this guy talking about? Kano got an ever firmer grip on the Zipper and pulled again.

No music.




He paused in surprise as Sasayama mewled.




Again, Sasayama let out a little cry. Except it didn’t sound like Sasayama’s voice at all.

“Uh, guys?” Sasayama said. “There’s something making a rumbling noise inside this thing.” He sounded pretty alarmed.



“Uh-oh,” said the other man. “It has started.” His face went pale.

“What are you talking about?” Sasayama demanded. “What’s started?”

The man hesitated, then seemed to come to a decision. “Well, you see, this is no ordinary cat costume.”

“Meaning what, exactly?”



“Our shop rented this unit out by mistake. Oh, I had no idea it was anything so horrifying! Not until the boss filled me in a little while ago!”

What’s horrifying? You’re not answering the question!”

The man’s gaze grew hollow and distant.




For a moment, there was only silence. Then Sasayama spoke up nervously. “Um, well, yeah. It’s a cat. I know that already.”

“No, you’re not listening. This is a CATS!”

“Like I said, I already know it’s a cat. Anyone can see that just from looking at it.”

“No, not a cat! CATS!”

428 Tip – CATS posted:




The meowing started back up again. With each new mewl, the sound got faster. Soon, it sounded less like a cat and more like some mechanism that was whirring about.

Dread.

There was a sudden, fierce, blinding flash. Space itself began to warp in a roughly three-meter radius around Sasayama and his costume.




A moment later, Kano and the others had vanished.

Hwurmp
May 20, 2005

I LIKE TO MAKE VAGUE THREATS TO PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET BECAUSE I AM TOUGH GUY. P.S. ASK ME ABOUT THE TIME A GIRL BEAT ME UP IN GRADE SCHOOL. HER NAME WAS SUZIE SHE DREW A BIG WEINER ON MY FOREHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mission Accomplished

AweStriker
Oct 6, 2014



what

what just happened

Ibblebibble
Nov 12, 2013




Whatever it was, it was still better than Cats.

PlasticAutomaton
Nov 12, 2016

Artoria Pendonut




wh...what... ...what the gently caress. What the actual gently caress

Regallion
Nov 11, 2012



When that started i half-expected that it would turn out to be a springlock suit and we are gonna get some guro. Ofc we get absurdity instead and that's for the best.

Destroy the costume back when we had the chance to

Jade Rider
May 11, 2007

All the pages have been censored except for "heck," and she misread that one.






Okay then.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Shinya Kano

  • I have to admit, the CATS ending happens when Maria leaves the suit with the man at the Knickknack shop. Going back with the threads decision to lay Tama to rest with our own hands...




At some point, he’d ditched his anime-nerd costume for a street dancer’s getup. It didn’t appear that al-Karawan had noticed him yet. Bit by bit, Sasayama closed the distance.

Not much further now. Kano’s hand balled into a fist as he watched. And then something unexpected happened. Another man came running into view, right in the middle of the monitor.

428 Tip – Man posted:

Teruo Toyama. While searching for Hana at Shibuya GiGO, he was located by a duo of debt collectors and fled the scene. Hana left GiGO to find him, and ran into him here in Maruyamacho. The pair are heading toward Koen-Dori, trying to find a place to hide.

On The Move.



There was no sound, but they could see that the newcomer was shouting something.

As al-Karawan turned to look at the man, Sasayama launched himself like a bullet from a gun. In an instant, detective and perp were locked in a violent scuffle right there on the street.



Kano swallowed a lump in his throat as he watched the struggle unfold. Earlier in the day, al-Karawan had done a number on Sasayama, but this time, the detective had the upper hand. He got a grip on al-Karawan’s neck and kneed him repeatedly. Al-Karawan tried desperately to bring Sasayama to the ground. But Sasayama braced himself and avoided the takedown. Then he shifted his stance and took al-Karawan to the pavement with a spectacular hip-throw.



“Yes!” Kano clapped his hands together in excitement.



Catching the perp in a scarf hold, Sasayama got out his handcuffs.

General Tip – Scarf hold posted:

A technique in judo. Involves wrapping an arm around the opponent’s neck while performing an upper body pin.

“Stanley, we should head to the scene,” Kano said. He looked away from the monitor for a mere moment, and when he looked back, Sasayama had released his hold and crumbled to the ground. “What?!” Panicked, Kano stared at the image of his friend.

No music.



There was something jutting up from Sasayama’s abdomen.

“Zoom in!” Kano cried frantically.

The camera closed in on Sasayama.



Now Kano could see exactly what he’d feared. Sasayama had been stabbed in the gut; blood pooled on the pavement around him. Kano screamed. “Sasayama!”

The camera showed several other detectives arriving at the scene, capturing al-Karawan before he could escape.

But Sasayama lay motionless. The pool of blood around him spread further and further across the pavement. Unable to look any longer, Kano rushed from the surveillance room.

JamMasterJim
Mar 27, 2010


Well, that escalated quickly.

AweStriker
Oct 6, 2014



it sure did.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Minorikawa and Osawa are available.

AweStriker
Oct 6, 2014



Let’s go to Minorikawa.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Mystery.



He decided to wait a little bit longer. Just five more minutes.

A woman’s voice came through the intercom. “Who is it?”



“It’s Minorikawa.”

“Where would I know you from, Mr. Minorikawa?”

“Oh, you know. Here and there. I mean there’s only one Minorikawa, really.”

“I don’t have time for such nonsense. Please, be on your way.”

“I’m not going anywhere until I get an interview.”



“Interview? Who are you with?” The woman’s tone had changed now.

Maybe Minorikawa could simply talk his way through this. “This is a piece for Four-Star General Gossip.”

“Ah, perfect. I’ve been wanting to talk to them.”

Was this one of the Miss Midoriyama winners? Or perhaps it was the girls’ mother, eager to boast about her daughters’ achievement?

“I assume you’re familiar with defamation of character?” the woman said.

“Hmm? What are you talking about?”

“Article 230 of the Penal Code of Japan defines it as ‘any attack against a person’s reputation or societal standing.’ It’s a very serious crime.”

“I know what it is,” Minorikawa said. “What’s your point?” He had a bad feeling about this. Why discuss libel laws right before an interview?

“Oh, I’m not letting you get away with telling me you’ve forgotten. I wonder if you’ll remember once I bring up charges.” Her tone was calm and level, but laced with malice.



“You’re talking nonsense, lady. Are you the mother? I’ve got business with your daughters. Put one of them on the line.”

“Nonsense?!” The woman’s wrath radiated from the intercom. “It’s your Four-Star General Gossip that specializes in nonsense!” Her voice was so loud that it was cracking. “Detective, arrest this man! He’s a criminal!”

“Hmph. ‘Detective,’ huh? You don’t really think I’d fall for that, do you, lady? Just who do you think I am? I’m Minoru Minorikawa!” He crossed his arms and struck a defiant pose.

No music.



Then the front door opened up, and several men came trotting out.

“Sir,” one of the men said, “we’d like to ask you a few questions.” At the word ‘sir,’ the man flashed his badge, and Minorikawa turned to run on reflex.



He hadn’t thought she’d actually send detectives after him! Just what the hell had Heaven Publishing done to her? Never mind. He needed to get out of here. He couldn’t afford to get arrested right now.





“Out with it! You abducted that girl, didn’t you?”

Abrupt Ending.



“Detective, you keep asking me the same question over and over.”

“And I’ll keep on asking until you tell me the truth.”



“Look, ask all you want, but I can’t tell you what I don’t know!”

“Then let’s go back to the beginning, shall we?”

“Oh, cut the crap! I don’t have time for your games!”

“As a matter of fact, you have plenty of time-I can assure you of that.” The stubborn detective flashed him a grin. “I can keep doing this for days if that’s what it takes to get you to confess.”

And so the interrogation went on for hours. In the end, once his innocence had been established, Minorikawa was finally released; he wrote a scathing indictment on his experience. The report shook up the system in a major way-but that’s another story, for another day.




Setup.




No music.



Osawa staggered out of the living room. He needed to be alone. To his surprise, Kajiwara didn’t try to stop him.



Shutting his study door behind him, he dropped onto his sofa, then grabbed three times his normal dosage of stomach pills. There was no water in the room, so he had to swallow them dry.

Detective Kano’s words echoed in his mind. “I know what this syndicate is really after, Mr. Osawa. It’s Hitomi.”

There was only one reason they could be after Hitomi. He broke out in a cold sweat as he began to understand what this kidnapping was really about. It had all started six days earlier...

Kenji Osawa.



It was April 22. Osawa had just returned from the United States the day before. He was in the midst of some routine work at the general research lab when his cell phone rang. The LCD display showed an unlisted caller. With some hesitation, Osawa picked up.



“Hello?”

“Is this Kenji Osawa?” The caller was using a voice modulator.

Osawa raised an eyebrow. “Yes...?”

General Tip – Voice modulator posted:

A type of device or software used to make one’s voice sound different. Changing a voice to the point of making a voiceprint or tone analysis impossible presents a major challenge; to be able to do so in real time requires major financial and technological resources.



“Go and analyze Hitomi’s blood.”

“Her blood?”

“If you don’t, she’s going to die.”

With that, the caller hung up.

There was an intensity behind this that made Osawa sure it wasn’t just some prank call. He had Hitomi come in to the lab ASAP.



He told Hitomi he wanted a sample of her blood for an experiment. She agreed, suspecting nothing.



He placed some of the blood he’d drawn onto a glass slide, then added some fluorescein, a type of fluorescent dye. Placing the slide under a fluorescence microscope, he took a look.

General Tip – Fluorescein posted:

A yellow-green liquid. A type of fluorescent dye. Chiefly used in preparing specimens for viewing under a fluorescent microscope, but it has other uses as well, such as a diagnostic reagent administered in eye exams. Its highest-volume use is on St. Patrick’s Day, when massive amounts of fluorescein are used to dye the Chicago River green.

General Tip – Fluorescent dye posted:

A type of dye that causes the dyed substance to emit higher-wavelength fluorescent light when illuminated with a certain other type of light. Such dyes can reveal fine details when used on specimens viewing through a fluorescent microscope.



It can’t be. Osawa could hardly believe his eyes. Wriggling under the microscope was the Grim Reaper’s sickle itself. There was no mistaking it. Hitomi was infected with the Ua virus. Trembling, Osawa hurried to his computer.



He opened the “Ua_Virus” folder on his monitor.

Within were images showing the stages of the virus’s propagation. He double-clicked to magnify the first image.



The Reaper’s sickles were interlocked with one another. He clicked on the next image.



After further propagation, the Ua virus looked less like a sickle, more a sort of insectoid larva.



Next was the final image. Interlocked into a single mass, the Ua virus vaguely resembled a sinister, many-petaled sunflower.

It took a mere twelve hours for the pathogen to develop to this point and begin its hideous destruction of the human body.

Hitomi’s infection sample was still in the state shown in the first image; there was still a chance to save her. Osawa slumped back in his chair, huddling in on himself.



He had no choice-there was only one way to save Hitomi. He would have to administer the nearly completed antiviral.

Using the antiviral without official approval was a grievous violation of company policy. Still, Osawa didn’t have time to get the higher-ups to approve a clinical trial. He might be punished severely for it, but this was his only option; his daughter’s life was at stake.

But there was also another, even bigger hurdle in his way.

428 Tip – Violation of company policy posted:

Acting against company rules and regulations. Okoshi Pharmaceutical prohibits leaking work-related information to outsiders. In the case of a major violation, not only can the violator be fired, but the company may also seek indemnities.

The antiviral drug was stored in the deepest recesses of the biochemical research building. A high-intensity X-ray scanner was set up at the entrance to the storage area; this made it impossible for him to take research materials out. Well. If he couldn’t get the antiviral out of there, he’d just have to bring Hitomi in.

General Tip – X-ray posted:

A type of radiation, also referred to as Rontgen rays, with a shorter wavelength than UV light but a longer wavelength than gamma rays. Because X-rays can penetrate many objects with little absorption or scattering, they can be used to create images of internal structure. Hospitals, for example, use X-ray technology to examine the insides of patients’ bodies, while security personnel use it to scan luggage at airports and to search for bombs.

Ua Virus.




A course of action quickly took shape in his mind. First, he’d need to slip out of the general research building. He would then head to the biochemical research facility and show his ID card to the guard at the front gate.

General Tip – X-ray posted:

Identification card. Many facilities that carry out highly classified research assign different levels of security clearance to individual researchers, and only those with suitable clearance (as indicated by their ID cards) are admitted to restricted areas. Development of more advanced technologies, such as electronic ID tags, are replacing older barcode-type entry cards.

After passing through a lobby under the watchful gaze of several security cameras, he’d reach an elevator at the end of the hall that went directly to the storage section. This elevator required an ID card scan to operate.




It would take about twenty seconds to get down to the first basement level and arrive at the entrance to the storage area. Finding an excuse to get Hitomi that far ought to be doable. If the security guard got suspicious, Osawa could say it was for a “top-secret hematology experiment,” and the guard would probably believe him.

The problem was what came after.




Getting into the storage area itself required fingerprint authentication from both Osawa and Tanaka. This meant that he couldn’t possibly get to the antiviral without Tanaka’s cooperation.



Desperate with uncertainty, Osawa called up Tanaka. He frantically explained the situation.

“Understood,” Tanaka replied. “We need to get her this drug as soon as possible.”

“If the company finds out about this, you’ll be held accountable for violation of corporate policy along with me. Are you sure you’re okay with that?”

“What are you talking about? Hitomi’s life is more important than company policy.” Tanaka spoke without hesitation.

Osawa felt an immense surge of gratitude for his assistant.



“And I have to say, I’m deeply moved by your determination,” Tanaka added.

“Moved? Whatever for?”

“You really are worried about Hitomi.”

Osawa’s gratitude faded. “What are you talking about? Of course I am.”

“My apologies. It’s just that putting your career on the line for something so personal is-”

“It’s what? It’s ‘not like me’?”

“No...well...yes. I’m sorry.” Now Tanaka’s voice was colored with embarrassment.

Just what sort of person do you think I am? Osawa resisted the urge to ask the question out loud.



A short time later, Osawa and Tanaka stood before the door to the secure storage area. The security guard had let them in without the slightest suspicion. Osawa pressed his index finger to the fingerprint scanner first.



He realized he’d been holding his breath as his authorization finally went through.



Half a moment later, Tanaka touched his own finger to the scanner plate.



The lock released with an audible clang, and the heavy door opened. Osawa hurried to retrieve the antiviral. As he picked up a small vial, he had a sudden realization.



They were finally going to use the drug in a human test. His fatherly wish to cure Hitomi was overlaid by an intense rush of curiosity-the researcher’s drive to discover his results. Hurry. I need to hurry. I need to administer the antiviral as soon as possible. Osawa could hardly fend off his excitement. Over the course of the next few hours following the injection, the Ua virus would be eradicated from Hitomi’s body.

There had been some fever and cramping as temporary side-effects, but the DDS had done a spectacular job of stomping out the virus. In saving his daughter’s life, Osawa had proven the value of his research. If he had been asked which made him happier, he would have been hard pressed to give an answer.

General Tip – DDS posted:

Drug Delivery System. Also known as “smart drug delivery,” the ability to target a specific region of the body with a specific drug has momentous implications for the future of medicine. DDS technology is currently being tested extensively around the world.

Afterwards, he asked Hitomi where she could have become infected, but she had no idea. He explained the need for secrecy, and strictly forbade her telling anyone else what had happened.



Now a week had passed since Osawa gave the drug to Hitomi. He’d been conducting checks, and had discovered that the DDS had not broken down, but remained in Hitomi’s bloodstream. Extracting the DDS was a simple matter, requiring just a small blood sample from around the nape of the neck.

The DDS itself was simply the delivery system for the antiviral drug. Residual amounts of the antiviral itself stayed behind within the cells. Using the DDS, it was possible to extract those miniscule amounts from cells in a blood sample. It might take considerable time, but a sufficiently detailed analysis could allow for the antiviral drug itself to be reconstructed.

General Tip – Residual posted:

The materials used to create the DDS must, as a matter of course, cause minimal or no harm to the human body. Ideally, rather than accumulate inside the body, DDS substances should be either digested and absorbed or excreted. Because the antiviral must remain in the body for as long as the virus is active, however, a very careful balance must be struck between persistence and dissipation.

Osawa felt a chill as he contemplated the situation. The kidnappers had known how tough security was at the lab. So, they’d come up with the idea of using a human vessel to get what they needed from within. By infecting Hitomi with the Ua virus, they’d ensured that she’d receive the antiviral-that she’d have it in her blood.

If Tanaka was working with the kidnappers, that explained why he’d been so cooperative about the fingerprint scanner.




No music.



“Dammit!” Osawa shouted. He clutched his head in his hands. Tanaka had been his partner and trusted confidant for years. Osawa refused to believe he’d been betrayed like this.

The front door chime sounded.

“Mr. Osawa,” Kajiwara called out. “It appears you have a visitor. Could you handle that?”

Who could it possibly be, now of all times?



  • Osawa needs to deal with the visitor to prevent Minorikawa's bad end.


“All right.” With a sigh, Osawa dragged himself to his feet.



He stumbled wearily back to the living room, where the investigators were staring at the intercom monitor with concern. The intercom’s hidden camera showed a man with an unsettling grin posed intimidatingly outside the front gate.



Osawa didn’t recognize him. “Yes, who is it?” he asked guardedly through the intercom.

“It’s Minorikawa.”

“Where might I know you from, Mr. Minorikawa?”

“Oh, you know. Here and there. I mean there’s only one Minorikawa, really.”

“Are you playing games with me?”

“I don’t have the time for that. Please, just open up.”



“There’s no way I’m letting you in,” Osawa said.

But the nonsensical badgering continued. “Look, just hold your horses. I’m here for an interview. You got that?”

“An interview?”

“That’s right. It’s a piece for Four-Star General Gossip.”

The name of the magazine brought up an unpleasant memory.



That was the gossip rag that had run the article about his ‘political marriage.’



“Wait...this is for one of those kinds of articles?”

“What do you mean, ‘those’ kinds of articles? I’m just looking for an interview.” The man’s tone was both high-handed and belligerent.

“Like hell you are! I’m not talking to anyone from the Gossip!”

“You’re not the one I’m here to talk to. I want to interview your twin daughters.”

“My daughters?”

“I understand they won a shared prize for a beauty contest at Midoriyama Academy. If you wouldn’t mind my interviewing them, I-”



Furious, Osawa cut off the intercom. This was no time to he indulging someone else’s nonsense.

“Hey, what gives?!” The man was shouting so loud his voice carried past the gate and through the front door. “I’m begging out here! On my hands and knees!”



He wasn’t actually on his hands and knees; Osawa could see that clearly through the intercom monitor.

“If your daughters aren’t home, can you at least tell them I want to get in touch with them?!”



“Mr. Osawa,” Kajiwara said, frowning. “This isn’t a good time to have someone drawing attention to your home.”

“All right. I’ll get rid of him.”



Osawa hurried out of the house, confronting Minorikawa through the front gate. The journalist had that tenacious look that immediately marked him as a member of the media.

“Give me your business card,” Osawa said. “I’ll have them get in touch with you later.” He took Minorikawa’s card, then went right back inside.



Back in his study, Osawa tossed Minorikawa’s business card into the trash. Unable to think of what else to do, he tried the Internet fortune-teller again.

Lost in Thought.



He got the same [You’re a Very Work-Minded Person] result a second time.

If you don’t get over your indifference to the world, the world might start to harbor quite a grudge.

My indifference to the world around me, huh? The truth was that even with his closest companions-even with Tanaka, for instance-his relationship had always been strictly a matter of business. He’d never really taken it upon himself to get to know Tanaka as a person. And that was pretty much the case for everyone he knew.

He harbored no interest in other people. He had no concern for his fellow man. That had made itself abundantly clear when he received a microscope as a birthday present way back in first grade. Even now, he still remembered the shock he’d felt when he looked through that lens for the first time. He’d discovered a new, almost infinite world hidden in the midst of one he’d always thought was too small. By comparison, the real world seemed bland and ugly. Wherever he looked, wherever he went, he had to contend with tedium. It hadn’t taken long for him to become more charmed by the world under his microscope than the one around him. It was like a calm, quiet little seaside-a beach where he could just sit and stare out at the waves. He wanted to stay immersed in that world forever and ever. Before he knew it, he was an adult, and then a husband, and then a father. The people around him thought him an odd fellow, but he hadn’t let that change the way he lived his life.

And this, now, was the result.




Find a way to connect more deeply with the people around you and start living a better life before it’s too late. Just do that, and you’re sure to have a wonderful future ahead!



Osawa picked up his cell phone and dialed Tanaka’s number. Ai had tried calling him repeatedly and hadn’t gotten through. It was doubtful that he’d pick up.

Still, Osawa had to try. The phone rang several times. He listened grimly to the empty mechanical sound, preparing himself for disappointment.

No music.



“What is it?” Tanaka’s voice sounded coldly in Osawa’s ear.

Presentiment.

The tension was electric.

Hwurmp
May 20, 2005

I LIKE TO MAKE VAGUE THREATS TO PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET BECAUSE I AM TOUGH GUY. P.S. ASK ME ABOUT THE TIME A GIRL BEAT ME UP IN GRADE SCHOOL. HER NAME WAS SUZIE SHE DREW A BIG WEINER ON MY FOREHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Minorikawa gets arrested way less than I'd expect

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



  • Back to Minorikawa.

Mystery.



Suddenly a man’s voice came through the intercom. “Yes, Who is it?” He sounded rather guarded.



“It’s Minorikawa.”

“Where might I know you from, Mr. Minorikawa?”

“Oh, you know. Here and there. I mean there’s only one Minorikawa, really.”

“Are you playing games with me?”

“I don’t have the time for that. Please, just open up.”

“There’s no way I’m letting you in.”

This discussion was getting them nowhere. Minorikawa decided he’d have to take the direct approach.



“Look, just hold your horses. I’m here for an interview. You got that?”



“An interview?” He’d taken the bait. Most folks could hardly resist the word ‘interview.’



“That’s right. It’s a piece for Four-Star General Gossip.”

“Wait...this is for one of those kinds of articles?” The man sounded angry now.

“What do you mean, those’ kinds of articles? I’m just looking for an interview.”

“Like hell you are! I’m not talking to anyone from the Gossip!”

“You’re not the one I’m here to talk to. I want to interview your twin daughters.”

“My daughters?”

No parent would deny their children a chance for word of their achievements to spread.



“I understand they won a shared prize for a beauty contest at Midoriyama Academy. If you wouldn’t mind my interviewing them, I-”

No music.

The intercom cut out before Minorikawa could finish. “Hey, what gives?! I’m begging out here! On my hands and knees!” He wasn’t actually on his hands and knees, but whoever was on the other end couldn’t see that. “If your daughters aren’t home, can you at least tell them I want to get in touch with them?!” He wasn’t even using the intercom now; he was just shouting over the gate.

A man stepped out of the front door.



“Give me your business card,” he said. “I’ll have them get in touch with you later.” The man had a somewhat stricken look on his face.

This had to be Kenji Osawa, then. Wait. Hold on... Osawa?

Unrest.

Now Minorikawa recognized him. This was Kenji Osawa, the preeminent virologist who worked for Okoshi Pharmaceutical.

Four-Star General Gossip had run a scandalous article on him in the past; Minorikawa remembered reading it.

He held out his business card, and Osawa snatched it from him.



The virologist started to head back into his house.

“Please see that they get back to me, Mr. Osawa!” Minorikawa shouted after him. And then he noticed something odd.



It was the middle of the afternoon, but every window in the house had its curtains drawn. That, combined with Osawa’s demeanor, set off alarm bells in Minorikawa’s head. He knew he was on to something, but he couldn’t linger at the Osawa residence any longer than he already had.

He needed to get to that theater ASAP. He hurried back to the taxi and told Kimizuka to go.

No music.



A few minutes later, the rear tires skidded sharply as the cab came to a stop beside a different curb.

The trip from Shoto to the theater in Sakuragaoka had taken almost no time at all.

“Here we are, sir,” Kimizuka announced.

“Wow. That was fast.” Still, Minorikawa was at least five minutes behind schedule. He hoped he’d still be able to get the interview with Oarai.

  • There's a Keep Out here, which is unlocked in Osawa's story when Osawa speaks to Minorikawa at the gate.

Minorikawa got his wallet out of his jacket to pay the driver.



“Oh, no,” Kimizuka said, waving a hand. “Don’t worry about the fare.”

“Huh? Why not?”

“There’s still plenty left over from what you paid me earlier, sir. That’s what I meant by ‘special fare.’”

That’s right; he’d paid Kimizuka a whole 10,000 yen for taking him to Endo Electronics earlier. “But...I mean...”

“I’m not the sort of person to keep the change, as it were,” Kimizuka said.

Minorikawa felt a surge of pride at those words. “You’re my kinda guy, Mr. Kimizuka.”

“A man on the job can always count on Hachiro Kimizuka’s taxi.” The driver grinned. “Now go on! Go!”

“Thank you! I have a feeling we’ll meet again!”



As Minorikawa entered the theater lobby he saw a bunch of flower bouquets-patrons’ gifts of appreciation. Among the names of the senders were celebrities he recognized. Evidently, the Wandering Angels were a pretty popular acting troupe.

428 Tip – Celebrities posted:

The largest of the bouquets was sent by Koichi Nakamura of the secret society Choonsoft. The next largest came from Marutaro Ishihara from the government organization Joiyart. Following that were those from actress Barako Rose, popular scenario writer Ebisu Ipponmatsu, Tohoku Busters Bus Tours Co., Ltd. bus guide Kimiko Arno, professional baseball player Masa Narikiyo, the ventriloquist Shin-Shin, ukulele player Hawai’i Matsuda, online TV critic Genzo Akitsu, and so on.

428 Tip – Wandering Angels posted:

[Episode 4] Novice actor Takuya Amo, despite his nervousness, gave a creditable performance as Shido as the production got underway; but as the show continued his inexperience became apparent. He went onstage for the big wire action scene having forgotten to attach himself to the rigging. Tozuka was quick to act, rushing onstage in the improvised role of “Assassin with an Edo Accent No. 1” and fixing a rope to Amo’s back during the confusion. (Continued in Episode 5)



People were setting out pamphlets and flyers out on a nearby table. There was a palpable tension in the air; the crew seemed skittish as they went about their work.



“He’s late!” someone shouted all of a sudden. It was a man over in one corner of the lobby, railing angrily to nobody in particular. “Why the hell hasn’t that journalist shown up yet for the interview?!” Looked like he’d been waiting on Minorikawa, then.



“What’s his deal, pulling this while we’re this busy?”

Guess that’s Shinnosuke Oarai.



“I’ve been busy myself,” Minorikawa said, keeping his composure. “Trust me, I know how it goes.”

“Huh? Who the hell are you?”

“I’m the guy you’ve been waiting for, Mr. Oar-Eye.”

The man glared at him. “It’s ‘Oarai,’” he said.

Best.

“Anyway, I’m Minorikawa. Sorry to keep you waiting. Though really, a short wait is a small price to pay for the chance to be interviewed by me.”



“Well, I hope you appreciate how valuable my time is, now that you’re taking it,” snapped Oarai.

“Wow, someone sure has a high opinion of himself,” Minorikawa replied. He marched up to Oarai.

“drat right I do! I’m Shinnosuke Oarai!” The theater man got right up in Minorikawa’s face.



“Like anyone even cares!” A jolt of tension sparked between the two men.

428 Tip – Jolt of tension posted:

Around this time, there’s a similar jolt of tension between two other people: Kenji Osawa and Mamoru Tanaka.



“Um, I beg your pardon,” a woman interrupted, “but Mr. Oarai does have a schedule to keep.”

“And who’re you? Miss...?”

“Sukozawa. I’m the producer.”



“Well listen, Sue. I’m in the middle of an interview here. Please don’t interrupt.”

“What? That’s how you conduct an interview?”

“That’s right! This is how I roll!”

“Look, whatever!” Oarai growled. “Let’s just do this already.”

“Fine by me.”



The two men sat down at opposite sides of a table in the lobby.

But Sukozawa spoke up again. “Mr. Oarai, don’t forget the meeting you have after this...”

“Yeah. Handle that, would you?”

Minorikawa let out a derisive snort.

“It’s like you’re holding court,” he said. “Do people actually hang around you with that kind of attitude?”

“You have no right to judge my acting troupe.”

Minorikawa straightened up in his chair, a mocking smile on his lips. “Oh, so it’s your acting troupe, huh?” he said.



“Why not just play all the roles yourself? Heck, you could even be your own audience.”

“I-how dare you?!” Oarai rose to his feet and made to leave, but Sukozawa herded him back down into his chair.

Minorikawa continued as if he hadn’t heard. “Just what is it that you do, anyway?” he asked.

Oarai raised an incredulous eyebrow. “You don’t know?”

“No. Why should I?”

“You came to an interview without knowing anything about who you were interviewing?”

“Yep.”



“That’s it! Get out!” Oarai roared and pointed angrily toward the exit.



“How dare an unmannered clod like you come in here and waste my time!”

“Hey, who’s being unmannered now? I came all the way out here to hear your story, didn’t I? Why don’t you get out!” Minorikawa pointed at the exit as well.

“Why the hell should I have to leave?” Oarai demanded. “This is my house!”

General Tip – House posted:

Theater jargon for the theater itself, especially the main auditorium.

“Look, just get out!” This time both yelled and pointed toward the exit in unison.



Sukozawa quickly interposed herself between them, forcing a smile. “Gentlemen, please, calm down,” she said. Then she turned to Minorikawa. “You should be aware that Mr. Oarai used to be a broadcast writer. He’s responsible for a lot of big hits.”

“You don’t need to mention that,” Oarai grumbled.

Nonetheless, Sukozawa rattled off the names of several shows. Minorikawa did indeed recognize many of them.

General Tip – Broadcast writer posted:

Someone who writes for television or radio programs. A great show depends not only on the actors’ performances, but on the skills of the broadcast writer.



“Mmhmm,” he murmured. “So how come you’re running a failing theater, now?”

“Failing? Oarai went red in the face.

“I’m not wrong, am I?”

“You are absolutely the rudest person I have ever met! What would a rank amateur like yourself know about theater?!” Oarai’s face was dark with rage.

But Minorikawa didn’t back down. “Listen, this has nothing to do with how well your theater is or isn’t doing!” he snapped. “The television world wouldn’t accept you. So in order to retain your pride as an entertainer, you started doing theater. Isn’t that so?”

No music.

“Don’t act like you know anything! I’ve staked my entire life on the theater!” It seemed as if Oarai might throw a punch at any moment. “Sure, a city theater might seem small-time compared to TV. But you get a lot more of a response from it!”

“Response? Oho. Now that sounds interesting.”

Implications.



“Darn right!” Oarai exclaimed. “You can see it from up on stage. The audience, you can see their faces...” There was a passion in Oarai’s voice now. “You can really feel it. When the audience is enjoying themselves, you can feel that energy. You can’t get that from doing television. Thinking back on it now, my time spent working on TV-let’s see, what’s a good analogy? It’s like being handed a towel that’s already damp. No, that’s not right. Okay, so a better analogy would be...” And without further preamble, Oarai began talking about his tribulations back in his broadcast writer days.

Minorikawa smiled inwardly.



The interview ended promptly after fifteen minutes, the time that had been promised. Both men emerged from it as if from a daze. Minorikawa found himself staring Oarai in the face, shaking him by the hand.

“So...what kind of story did I just get?” he asked, speaking half to himself.

“You heard about one man and his life. And I have to admit, it was a good interview. Thanks-you have my gratitude.”

With a satisfied smile, Minorikawa closed his notebook. “Right! Glad to hear that, then.”

Oarai inclined his head, looking a bit bewildered.

“Um...” A flustered Sukozawa interrupted.



“Mr. Minorikawa, wasn’t this interview for a piece about the performance?”

“Huh?” Minorikawa blinked.

“It’s just that you were only asking about Mr. Oarai, and not about the performance itself,” Sukozawa said.

“Oh-I see what you mean. Actually I came here for a piece I’m going to be writing called: ‘Where Are They Now? Washed-Up Broadcast Writer Showcase!'

Impatience.

“I-but-you-I-washed-up?!” Oarai was red in the face all over again.



“You bastard! How dare you?! Forget everything I just told you! I do not give you my permission to use it in your magazine!”

“You’re too late!”

“What?!”

“I’ve already heard your whole story. You should be grateful that I’ll be writing a piece on it.”

“You bastard!” With a wild look in his eyes, Oarai snatched up a hammer the stage crew had left nearby.

differentiating
Mar 30, 2019



Go ahead, hit me because, let's be real, Minorikawa kind of deserves it here.

JamMasterJim
Mar 27, 2010


Have I posted before that Minorikawa is the best?Because he is.
Also, HIT ME

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Impatience.



“Go ahead, hit me!”

“Oh, I’ll hit you all right!” Oarai waved the hammer menacingly. But the attack came to a sudden halt as a ringtone startled him out of his fury.



“Hold on a moment,” Minorikawa said brightly. “I have to take this.” He whipped out his cell phone . “Hello. Minorikawa speaking.”

“This is Osawa.”

Wow. He’d called back a lot sooner than Minorikawa had expected. “Have your daughters come home, then?”

“No...actually, there’s a favor I’d like to ask you.”

Unrest.

A favor?

Minorikawa thought back to his visit to the Osawa residence. The drawn curtains, the stricken look on Osawa’s face-Minorikawa’s instincts had sensed something significant going on. Apparently, getting the full story wasn’t going to come without some cost. “A favor, huh? Is it something urgent?”

“I’ll pay whatever I have to. I just need you to look into something as quickly as possible.” His voice had the telltale desperation of a man who’d been backed into a corner.

“All right,” Minorikawa said. “I can help you out for a little while.”



Osawa hurriedly explained what he was after. The request was a strange one. He wanted Minorikawa to look into a scandalous article that Four-Star General Gossip had run about him in the past.

“What makes this so important?”

“I, ah...do I have to say?”

“I mean you’re asking me to look into something without explaining anything.” He eyed Oarai, lurking nearby with obvious irritation. Minorikawa would need to calm down the erstwhile broadcast writer, or else his interview really would be for naught. He decided to bluff both men at the same time. “Let me just say one thing,” he said into the phone. He made sure he spoke loud and clear so that Oarai would overhear.

No music.

“I want to tell the world this story-no, I need to tell it. If I don’t feel that way about something, no amount of money in the world will get me to write an article on it! That’s my pride as a writer at work!”



Minorikawa could see Oarai’s aura of rage fading as he listened; the theater man looked surprised. Whew.

Meanwhile, Osawa had decided to open up a bit. “All right,” he said. “I can’t share all the details, but...”



Okay, he’s in a talkative mood, now. Good job, Minorikawa. See, this is going fine.

“The power balance of the entire world might be at stake, here,” Osawa continued. “And I mean that quite literally. I can tell you more after you’re done investigating.”

Wait, was he serious? How could the world’s balance of power hinge on looking into some alleged marital affair? It was so absurd that Minorikawa had to fight the urge to burst out laughing. A person would need to be out of his mind to believe a story like that. But Minorikawa wasn’t the average person. And sometimes, the truth was so ridiculous, it really was stranger than fiction.

Osawa wasn’t lying. Minorikawa’s instincts told him that much. “All right,” he said. “I’ll check the editing department’s notes from back then.” Minorikawa felt his excitement building. Things were really getting interesting. For the moment, he nearly forgot Toyama and his troubles.



When he ended the call, Oarai approached him and extended his hand. “Listen, your methods might be a little extreme, but I can tell you take pride in your work.”



“Of course I do.”

“I’m sorry for getting so worked up. I bet you’d write a fine article about me. So please, Mr. Minorikawa. Let the world know about me and my half-lived life.”



Minorikawa took the offered hand and shook it. “Leave it to me. Once I’m done with it, you won’t just be some washed-up nobody anymore, Mr. Oar-Eye.”

“It’s ‘Oarai.’”

Minorikawa grinned.

On The Move.



Minorikawa rushed out of the theater. He’d completed all the interviews that he could get done before four o’clock. Now he had an hour left to write it all up to convince the folks from the loan company that the [o]Gossip[/i] could stay afloat. “Rrrrragggh!” He let out a roar, psyching himself up for the final push.

PlasticAutomaton
Nov 12, 2016

Artoria Pendonut




I guess we just have Osawa left now?

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Best.






Presentiment.



Tanaka did not reply.

“The police told me. They said you were connected to the kidnapping.”

A soft chuckle came from the other end of the line. “Ah, well. The police sure do know how to do their jobs.” Tanaka’s tone was unapologetic. He sounded nothing like the man Osawa thought he knew so well.



“Why would you do this? Money? Are you having money troubles?”

“Money?” Tanaka replied. “I suppose that’s part of it. Honestly, I doubt you’d understand. Do you have any idea what it’s been like for me, doing our research together? You’re always the one who takes center stage. The fruits of our success are all yours. Even though you couldn’t have done any of it without me.” The more he said, the more vitriol seethed into his words.

Osawa’s hand trembled as he clutched the phone.

“The taker can never understand how it feels to be taken from. You’ve hoarded so many things to yourself. So I’m taking some of them back.” And with that, he hung up.

“Hey! Tanaka!” Osawa dialed the number again, but Tanaka didn’t pick up.



Osawa wracked his brain, thinking back on how Tanaka had been acting earlier that day. Had there been anything unusual? Any clue at all, no matter how small? If he could find some hint, maybe he’d be able to find Maria and Hitomi.



That was it! Ai had been suspicious of Tanaka all along- so much so that she’d planted a bug on him hidden in a tie clip. Her suspicions must have been pretty strong.



Wait. Osawa recalled what Kajiwara had said.



“But still, if she is that worried, giving a tie clip as a gift is a bit...”

The words had struck Osawa as odd when he first heard them. Ai had never given him a tie clip.



His heart gave a heavy throb in his chest. It couldn’t be. No, it was impossible. That article from Four-Star General Gossip crept back into his mind.



The article had talked about a man Ai had dated before she married Osawa. The man’s identity was never revealed. Could it have been Tanaka?



“You’ve hoarded so many things to yourself. So I’m taking some of them back.” Tanaka’s cold words took on a new depth of meaning.



Osawa felt the foundations of his life begin to crumble. Were Tanaka and Ai accomplices in all this?

No. Wait. Just calm down. He couldn’t let himself jump to conclusions. He needed to be more level-headed. Everything depended on it. If the two really were accomplices, why would Ai have planted a bug on Tanaka? What purpose would that serve? What could it mean?

It was no use. Osawa couldn’t think of how that made sense. First things first. He needed to establish what the relationship between Ai and Tanaka really was. Once he figured that out, he’d be able to get a better handle on the situation. Obviously, he couldn’t just go and ask Ai directly. If she really were involved in all this, she certainly wouldn’t tell him the truth.



Osawa thought back to the business card he’d tossed into the trash. He didn’t relish the thought of getting help from that scavenging hyena, but now was no time to be picky. If he wasn’t able to leave the house, he needed someone else to do some investigating for him.

The freelance writer, Minoru Minorikawa... He was Osawa’s only hope.


HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Start of a new hour, all five characters are available.

PlasticAutomaton
Nov 12, 2016

Artoria Pendonut




Let's start with this plot thread. Minorikawa, I guess.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Setup.




On The Move.



Hmm. Wait a second. I feel like there’s something I ’m forgetting.



“Gahhhhh!”



Minorikawa stopped and let out a cry of frustration. Daisuke Endo had asked him for a favor after their interview was done.



He’d promised to tell the Wandering Angels that the dry ice machine they’d purchased was defective.

428 Tip – Wandering Angels posted:

[Episode 5] At last, the climax of the play drew near. There was a whole string of troubles, but the cast soldiered on, and it looked like things were going to end all right. Then, backstage, Bando noticed that the dry ice machine was acting strangely; even after it had been turned off, the machine continued to churn out more dry ice. The producer, Sukozawa, demanded that the defective device he returned immediately, and so Tozuka, Bando, and Amo loaded it into their vehicle and left the theater. (Continued in Episode 6)



Well, drat. That had completely slipped his mind. If he recalled correctly, the issue was that once the machine started making dry ice, it wouldn’t stop. If he ran back to the theater now, he’d lose about ten minutes. Minorikawa checked his wristwatch.



The loan people would be coming by the editing office before too long. He needed to prove to them that next month’s issue of Four-Star General Gossip was well underway, or else they’d refuse to wait any longer for repayment. And to do that, he needed to fill a minimum of six of the twelve remaining blank pages. He couldn’t afford to waste even a single second. This was an awkward position to be in.

He needed to keep his promise to Endo. But he also needed to spend his time wisely. “Bah! Guess I don’t have a choice.”

asymmetrical
Jan 29, 2009

the absence or violation of symmetry


We're a man of our word. Turn around and let them know about the machine.

Jade Rider
May 11, 2007

All the pages have been censored except for "heck," and she misread that one.




Tell them about the machine.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



On The Move.



He’d agreed to take on a responsibility. He headed back for the theater. When he got there, he flagged down the first guy he saw to tell him about the dry ice machine.



“Hey, make sure you remember what I’m about to tell you, okay? The dry ice machine is broken.

The man stared back at him blankly, but Minorikawa just forged ahead. “Got it? The dry ice machine is broken. It needs to go back to the electronics store. Make sure you let the folks in charge here know!” His obligation met, he hurried back to the café to get back to work on his copy.



Along the way, he caught sight of a young couple running. They seemed like an odd pair; the girl looked prim and proper, while the boy struck him as a bit thuggish. In fact, the boy’s clothing was very much in the style worn by Shibuya street gangs. Maybe he’d know something about S.O.S. Hurrying to cross their path, Minorikawa called out to the pair.



“Hey, mind if I ask you something? Have you heard of S.O.S?”

The pair stopped, eyeing him warily. The young man spoke. “Yeah. Why do you ask?”

“Do you happen to be a member yourself?”

“No. No, not anymore...”

Well, if the kid had once been part of the group, he ought to be able to provide some background, anyhow.



Minorikawa took a step closer to the couple, formulating his next question.

But they didn’t stick around to hear it. “Let’s go,” the young man said, and a moment later he and the girl were running away.



“Ah, hey!”

But the pair paid him no heed. In a moment they had vanished down an alley. The story about S.O.S. would have to wait till later, then.

Yum Cha.

Minorikawa hurried into the café. Wasting no time, he sat right down and plugged his laptop into the nearest power outlet.



He plunked himself down on the floor and hit the computer’s power switch.

The waitress gave him a disapproving look. “Sir, I’m afraid you can’t sit there.”

“Well, it looks like your tables are full. I’ll make do here.”

“Um, well, being able to make do isn’t really the issue...”

“I’ll have a coffee, please.”



“Ugh. Just do whatever you want.” The waitress turned away and stared vacantly up at the ceiling.

“Y’know, a person can only get away with being obnoxious for so long. Sooner or later someone’s likely to call the police.”



Minorikawa looked up from his work, startled to see the Burning Hammer salesman standing over him. “You. You’re Mr. Yanagishita.”

“Thank you so much for stopping by earlier! Are you going to write your article here?” Yanagishita eyed Minorikawa’s computer. “Ooh, that’s the latest model, isn’t it?”

“Look, I got no time to talk right now.” Minorikawa opened the file with his half-written copy.



“Ooh, what’s this? ‘Chaos at Bogus Weight-Loss Drink Sales Demo.”’ Yanagishita read the copy aloud. “‘The organizer, Jun’ichiYanagishita, didn’t merely have a whiff of deceit about him; his breath also stunk.”’

“Sound good?” Minorikawa asked. “I wanted to make sure I gave an accurate impression.”

“Oh, I love what you’ve done with it. This is a great copy. Fantastic.” Yanagishita turned to look at him with a manic grin.

“Yeah, isn’t it?”

In a flash Yanagishita’s face went from grinning to livid.

Pursuit.



“Like hell it is! You think I’m gonna just let you write something like that?!”



Snatching up the computer, Yanagishita bolted out of the café.

“Hey! Get back here!” Minorikawa leapt to his feet and rushed off in pursuit.





As he sprinted madly along, Yanagishita turned down a narrow alley. Minorikawa stayed close behind, desperate not to lose sight of him. His quarry began to weave his way through the back alleys of Shibuya. This guy clearly knew his way around town.



By Miyashita Park they zipped up onto a pedestrian bridge. Just where the heck was this idiot going? Halfway across the overpass, Yanagishita suddenly stopped.

Confused, Minorikawa stopped as well. “Give that back!” he called





The next moment, Yanagishita flashed a mocking grin and dangled the laptop over the railing.

Uh-oh. Minorikawa lunged toward him-but it was already too late.

The laptop left Yanagishita’s hand and went spinning down through the air.



Then, as the two men struggled, Yanagishita himself toppled over the railing. Without hesitating, Minorikawa jumped down as well.





“Whoooaaaaa!”

“Gwahaaah!”



Minorikawa landed hard. As he struggled to regain his breath, he looked around and saw Yanagishita beside him. Incredibly, the laptop was safe in the charlatan’s grasp. Apparently he’d somehow managed to catch it in midair. Before Minorikawa could be too relieved, however, Yanagishita got to his feet and took off running again.

Impatience.



“Get back here, you little weasel!”

“I don’t thiiiiiink sooooo!” This Yanagishita guy was infuriating.



That, and he was really fast. Minorikawa considered himself a decent runner, but he couldn’t manage to gain on Yanagishita. If running away was a competetive sport, the guy would be a world-class superstar.



As he ran along, a peculiar thought occurred to him. Hold on a minute. If he hates my copy that much, shouldn’t he have wanted my computer to break? Why’d he go out of his way to catch it like that? It made no sense at all. “Hey!” Minorikawa shouted between gasping breaths. “What are you planning to do with my laptop?”

Yanagishita glanced back at him.



“Gonna sell it! Sorry ‘bout this!”

“What?!”

Minorikawa was taken aback.

“Consider it compensation for defamation of character!”

“C’mon, get real! It can’t be defamation if the article hasn’t run yet!”

“Then consider it an advance on the compensation!”

General Tip – Defamation of character posted:

In the civil sense, the act of unlawfully damaging another person’s character or reputation in the public eye; in the criminal sense, the act of disseminating damaging facts about an individual to an unspecified large number of people.

This was so nonsensical it made Minorikawa’s head hurt. But now at least he knew why Yanagishita had dived after the computer.



The thief continued to weave his way through the side streets. His speed didn’t diminish in the slightest. Dammit, this guy has too much experience running away!



Minorikawa’s stamina began to fade, and finally he lost sight of his quarry. But that didn’t mean he was ready to give up the search. There were articles on that computer that were right on the verge of completion. Whatever it took, he had to get it back. Yanagishita had said he was going to sell it. Where could he be headed, then?

Jade Rider
May 11, 2007

All the pages have been censored except for "heck," and she misread that one.




I get the feeling he'd go for a pawn shop, so B.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Impatience.



Probably he was headded to a knickknack shop. Minorikawa recalled seeing one near the Burning Hammer demo site.




He also recalled seeing a poster outside the place that read ‘We Buy Computers at Top Prices!’



drat. The guy had led him on a wild goose chase. That shop was surely where he was going to sell the laptop. Gulping a deep breath, he headed in that direction.

No music.



“There you are, Yanagishita!”

Minorikawa burst into the shop on Center Gai, an accusing finger pointing squarely at the thief.



“Listen, there’s no way I’m buying a computer that doesn’t have a power cable!”

“Details, details! All you sell here is junk, anyway!”

Yanagishita and shopkeeper had gotten into an argument. Minorikawa recognized the shopkeeper-it was the guy he’d run into on the roadside earlier.

“That computer belongs to me,” Minorikawa shouted as he marched up to them. “Give it back!”



Yanagishita clutched the laptop to his chest. “Nuh-uh! I need the money!”

“Knock it off! You’re acting like a child!” Minorikawa tried to slap him out of his tantrum, but Yanagishita ducked to avoid the blow.



And then, bizarrely, Yanagishita froze. A fierce gleam came to his eyes. “Th-th-th...tha-tha-tha...” He broke into an incomprehensible stammer.

Best.



“That's it!” Yanagishita snatched up a flyer that his gaze had fixed on. “Iron Stomach, huh? This right here is my little bluebird of happiness!” he cried.



“Y’know what? You can have this!” Yanagishita shoved the laptop into Minorikawa’s arms. “Hahahaha! And welcome to it, you idiot! I don’t need no worthless computer!”



You’re the idiot, buster!” Minorikawa smacked Yanagishita right across the face.

“Ouch!”

Hitting him felt good. He decided to do it again.



Minorikawa shoved Yanagishita toward the shopkeeper. “Hand this guy over to the police,” he said.

“Eep! No, not the police!” Yanagishita pleaded.



“Can it, you thief! You tried to rip me off, and you have no idea how much is riding on my work You deserve ten thousand deaths.”

“Ten thousand? Isn’t that taking things just a little too far? I’m sorry, already! I give up!” Finally, the guy was ready to surrender. Minorikawa let his guard down for just a moment.

General Tip – Deserve ten thousand deaths posted:

Honestly, you’d think that dying once would be sufficient.



“Like hell I am!”

Switching gears in an instant, Yanagishita took off running at full speed.

This again. “Get back here, you bastard!” Minorikawa was already in pursuit.

No music.



He stuck with Yanagishita as far as Koen-Dori before losing track of him. The guy sure knew how to make a getaway.



Breathing hard, Minorikawa stopped and took a look around the area. As he did, he heard a cell phone ringtone from somewhere nearby. It was the new single from the pop singer Aya Kamiki. Could that be Yanagishita’s phone? Huh. Could be. Somehow he struck Minorikawa as the type of guy who’d have a ringtone like that. It seemed worth looking into, anyhow; he had nothing else to go on. Minorikawa shifted his gaze around, trying to locate the source of the sound.

Mystery.



Suddenly a massive fiery blast knocked him from his feet. By the time he realized it was an explosion, his senses were already shattered.

What just happened? He couldn’t see. He couldn’t hear. He couldn’t move his body. Where am I? For a while, all he could feel was an intense pain, but soon even that faded away. And then there was only darkness.


HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Setup.




Maneuvers.




“Wait, hold on! Is my name Hitomi Osawa?!” At my shout, the man with the cane hesitates, his finger on the trigger.



“What do you mean by that?” The barrel of the gun is still aimed squarely at my head.

“I mean exactly what I said. Is my name Hitomi Osawa? I don’t know who I am!”

“You’re trying to play games with me.”

“I’m not playing with anyone, I swear!” I’m utterly desperate now. Getting killed is one thing, but who wants to die without even knowing who they are?



“Tell me! Am I Hitomi Osawa, or not?!”

The man gives me a good, hard look. “Dammit. I wonder...” He continues to study me along the barrel of the gun.



“Tell me what you know.” It’s an order, not a request.

“What I know about what? Look, I have amnesia!” I quickly summarize what’s happened to me since I woke up in that storehouse.

The man listens intently, never taking his eyes off me. “Ah, I see. So that’s what’s going on, then.”

No music.



Once I’m done with my story, the man with the cane sits down on an empty soda crate. Seems he believes me, at any rate. That’s a relief, if nothing else.

“So then, am I Hitomi Osawa?”

“No.”

“Then who is Hitomi Osawa? Is she someone who looks like me?”

“Shut your mouth,” the man spits. “Just be quiet.”



His expression is vacant. “What am I going to do?” he mutters to himself.

“Um...if I’m not Hitomi Osawa, does that mean you don’t have any business with me?”

“Seems so.”

“In that case, can I go?”



The assassin doesn’t answer. He lets his pistol hang limp in his hand, the muzzle dropping to point at the ground.

PlasticAutomaton
Nov 12, 2016

Artoria Pendonut




Let this play out. A.

asymmetrical
Jan 29, 2009

the absence or violation of symmetry


Probably best not to spook him and make any rash movements. Let's chill for a sec. A.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014





I remain motionless, waiting for an opportunity to run away.

“I might not make it in time,” the man murmurs to himself under his breath.



Not make it in time for what? I’m curious, now, but this is hardly the time or place to try to find out more. I’ve learned for certain that I’m not Hitomi Osawa...which basically tells me nothing. I ’m right back to square one on figuring out who I am.

The assassin has gone quiet; sitting on a pile of crates, he seems lost in thought. Still, I don’t dare try to get away; all I can do is stand and wait and mull over my own situation. Just who am I? I ask myself again and again.

I am...
I am...
I am...

“No, I have no business with you,” the man finally says.



“Go. Don’t worry. I won’t follow you.”

I wonder if I can believe him. Maybe he’s just trying to get me off my guard so he can shoot me in the back.

“Do not go to the police, or go back home,” he continues. “Lay low by yourself somewhere for a while.”



“How long is ‘a while?”’

“Until around sundown. This should all be over by then.”

It’ll all be over? I have no idea what ‘it’ is, but I decide not to pry in case he decides to change his mind. “Okay...I’m going to run away, now.”

“Sure.”

I take a slow step backward. I’m starting to turn away when he speaks up again. “Before you go, I need to tell you one more thing.”

“What’s that?”



“When you get your memories back, I’m sure you’re going to hate me. And so I apologize in advance.”

Of course, I have no idea what he’s talking about, but it makes me even more uneasy.

“I truly am sorry.”

I’ve got no response for that, so I just give the man one last look before I turn and run.



I decide to look for someplace to hide out for a while, as the gunman suggested. But since I don’t really know my left from my right in this town, that’s easier said than done. Before I realize it, I’ve made my way back to the knickknack shop where I bought the necklace.



Maybe I could hide out in here? As I contemplate that possibility I hear an all-too-familiar voice.

“Tama Tama Tama Tama!”

Game.



There’s Mr. Yanagishita on the floor of the shop; he’s been tied up with some rope.

“What happened, boss?”

“Look, this is all just-I was framed!”

Nah-whatever’s happened, I’m pretty sure it was all his fault. Just call it a hunch.

“He says I’m a thief! Well, I say he’s the thief for selling stuff he finds around town!”

“Hey!” the salesclerk steps into view, scowling. “Just what are you implying?”

What in the world is going on here? I haven’t the foggiest.

“Tama! Help me! Pweeease!” Yanagishita kicks and squirms like a hyperactive child.



“Do you know this man?” the salesclerk asks.

“No. Well, I mean, sorta.”

“He’s a real pain. He’s been making a scene like this for as long as he’s been here.”

I find it hard to imagine a worse way to interfere with someone’s business.

“I hate to ask,” the clerk continues, “but could you take him to the police for me?”

“The police?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh, uh. Well, the police...” The gunman did specifically warn me not to go to them. I feel no loyalty to that killer-but I am reluctant to antagonize him. And for reasons I can’t explain, I have a strong sense that going to the police right now is a bad move. But Mr. Yanagishita isn’t privy to my thoughts, and he looks up at me with a hopeful gleam in his eye.



“Yeah! That’ll work! Tama can take me to the police! And then we can put this all behind us! All’s well that ends well. Right?”

“Uh...well...sure.” Feeling like I have no choice, I leave the shop with him.

Eggplant.



“Okay!” Mr. Yanagishita says excitedly as soon as we’re out of earshot. “Now let’s go find Chiri!”

“Huh? Aren’t we going to the pol—”

“What? No! We’re not really gonna go. Oh, man. I am so, so glad you showed up, Tama. Now c’mon! Let’s go find Chiri!”

From the big grin on his face, I have an inkling of what’s coming next. “You’ve thought of another get-rich-quick scheme, haven’t you?”

“Goodness, Tama, you can see right through me.”

“Uh, it’s not that difficult. It’s practically written all over your face, boss.” But Mr. Yanagishita isn’t really listening. He’s too full of enthusiasm.



“This time I got a line on ten million yen! So c’mon, let’s go make ourselves stinkin’ rich!” He punctuates his grand announcement by pointing fervently at some nonexistent listener.

Several weeks later-

“Iron Stomach!

A celebration of truly astonishing appetites! When the mighty stomach triumphs over the endless cavalcade of icebergs, the hero shall be blessed with fame and fortune!”




I stand with Chiri on the winner’s podium; the cheers and applause are deafening when the master of ceremonies makes the announcement.

Chiri is the champion. She laughs with delight as she holds up the trophy that signifies her ten-million-yen win. And me? I got runner-up.

I wasn’t too into the idea at first, but after giving it a shot, I found that professional gluttony kinda grows on you. Even I was surprised by how much I could eat, and I had to admit it felt kinda good. My memory still hasn’t come back, but that doesn’t matter anymore.

I’ve found myself a new purpose. To steal Chiri’s spot on the throne. That right there is now my greatest goal in life.


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HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Everyone except Maria is available.

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