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Wes Warhammer
Oct 19, 2012





HR12345 posted:

Minorikawa



I kind of want to see all the new characters first before we get back to Achi or Kano now.

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HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Setup.




No music.



The man with the cane aimed his gun at Hitomi, his face devoid of emotion.

“Please,” the girl said, trembling. “Why are you doing this?”

But the man did not reply.



Quickly Achi stepped in between Hitomi and the gun, spreading his arms wide.

“Stop!” he said in English-one of the few English words he knew. He quickly reverted back to Japanese. “Who the hell are you?”

Still the man did not respond.

“You know this guy, Hitomi?”
“No.”

Achi was sure he’d never seen the man, either. “What are you after? Money? ’Cause if you are, boy are you wasting your time chasing us.



The man furrowed his brow, adjusting his point of aim to Achi’s face. His bloodthirsty gaze left Achi no doubt that he was willing to pull the trigger.

Reflexively, Achi took a step back, his foot clattering against a discarded beer bottle.

We’re going to get gunned down for sure - unless we can find some way to catch this guy off guard.

It didn’t need to be much. If Achi could just distract the gunman for a moment, buy himself the briefest window...

“Shoot me, then. Go on, do it!” He stepped forward as he shouted, hoping the provocation would confuse the guy for just long enough.



Even as Achi moved, the gunman’s attention was distracted for an instant by a sudden sound.

The phone in his breast pocket was ringing.



  • Usually, I'd end the update here, but there's been quite a few short updates recently, and there was a vote for someone other than Achi, so...

Setup.




No music.



The Super Cub 90 raced down Route 246 toward Shibuya. The speedometer remained at a steady 60 KPH. Pumping the gas harder was no use. This was as fast as the bike would go.

General Tip – Super Cub 90 posted:

A motorcycle produced by Honda with an 85cc engine displacement. A common sight around town, often used by newspaper and postal delivery workers.

Many owners are big enthusiasts, sometimes even swapping out parts such as the handlebars or mufflers and giving the body a repaint, resulting in fashionable bikes that don’t even look like Super Cubs at first glance.

Minoru Minorikawa.



Minoru Minorikawa shouted as he sped along.

“Dammit! I am not letting you die!”

He jerked the handlebars and blew past a truck on the inside. The driver scowled at him as he shot by.

“You maniac! You trying to get yourself killed?”
“Just the opposite!” Minorikawa shouted back. “I’m saving lives!”

The stop light ahead turned red, cutting him off at the intersection.

Oh, come on!



He had no choice but to slam on the brakes; but his agitation boiled over as he waited for the signal to change again.

“How long’s this thing gonna stay red? Hurry up already!”



He brought the bike right up to the very edge of the line, keeping the engine revved like a dragster ready to peel out.

"'Not on time’ is not in my dictionary!"

The light turned red.



Then Minorikawa’s own light turned green at last. He hit the accelerator as hard as he could.

No music.



His engine died with a sputter.

“Huh? Oh, come on, what the hell?”



Car horns blared angrily behind him.

In a fury he pulled his bike over to the side of the road.



No matter what he did, the engine refused to turn over.

Was the problem with the spark plug, or maybe the battery?

Whatever it was, he didn’t have the time to figure it out now. With tears in his eyes he left the bike-his companion of ten years-abandoned on the roadside.

He was about to break into a run when he saw a taxi dead ahead letting out a passenger. He hurried to hop into the cab.



“Just head for Shibuya Station! I’ll let you know exactly where once we get closer!”
The taxi driver nodded coolly. “Of course, sir.”



“Ten minutes!”
“Hm?”
“I need you to get me there in ten minutes!”
The driver grimaced. “I’m afraid getting there in ten minutes is a bit-”
“Fifteen, then!”
“Sir, that’s still-”
“Look, that’s all the time I can afford.”
“Assuming traffic conditions cooperate, sir, then maybe. I can’t make any promises.”

Minorikawa looked at the driver’s I.D. photo above the fare meter.



His name was Hachiro Kimizuka. He was a middle-aged fellow; looked a little rough around the edges.

“Mr. Kimizuka, I chose you for this. You can do it.”
“Chose me? Sir, I’m pretty certain we met by chance.”
“Okay, sure, I suppose you could phrase it that way. Anyhow-can we get going?”
“Right,” Kimizuka said with a faint sigh. “I’ll see what I can do.”



The taxi pulled away at a decent clip.

Minorikawa’s frantic journey had started twenty minutes earlier. He’d been at home, working on an interview piece.



He clucked his tongue in annoyance as the ringing phone broke his train of thought. Why did someone always call right when the words were flowing?

If he didn’t keep getting interrupted, he probably could wrap this piece up in no time.



“Be quiet!” He pointed at the telephone as he yelled. “I’m writing, here!”

But his shouting did nothing to silence the ringing.

He didn’t have much choice but to pick up.



“Minorikawa speaking.”

There was no response.

“Hello?”

He hesitated, ready to hang up. Was this a prank call?

“It’s me. It’s Toyama.”

It was Teruo Toyama, the president of Heaven Publishing.

428 Tip – Heaven Publishing posted:

A publishing company that puts out both hard-hitting nonfiction books and tabloid-style scandal rags. The Invincible Journalist, penned by company president Toyama himself, was a candidate for the Japan Nonfiction Prize.



“Oh...what do you want? If this is about work, I’m already booked pretty full.”

He’d taken work from Heaven Publishing on several occasions, but the pay was hardly competitive.

Lately he’d been turning them down a lot, so he hadn’t heard from Toyama in a while.

“No, this...isn’t work-related.”
“Then what do you want? I’m kind of pressed for time here. Working on some copy.” Minorikawa was in no mood to beat around the bush.

It seemed like every conversation he had with Toyama went like this.

“Ah, you’re busy. That’s good. Busy’s good when you’re a freelancer.” Toyama sounded unusually sympathetic. Minorikawa found it off-putting.
“I hear sales have been good on your end,” he said cautiously. “With this month’s Four-Star General Gossip and all.”

Four-Star General Gossip was a monthly magazine, Heaven Publishing’s flagship publication. It had a small circulation and for the most part flew under the radar, but once in a while they’d land some big scoop and sell like crazy.

This month’s edition had come with a free scratch card, a gimmick that had moved 100,000 copies with ease.

428 Tip – Four-Star General Gossip posted:


“Five winning symbols in a row wins 100,000 yen, was it?” Minorikawa asked.

A weak, moist sound came through the receiver.

“Hmm?” Baffled, Minorikawa listened more closely.

It came again, then again.

It kind of sounded like sobbing.

“Mr. Toyama? Are you-are you crying?”

Mystery.



There was another soft sob, and then yet another.

“What’s going on? Where are you?” Minorikawa asked.
“At the office,” Toyama managed. He let out another mewling whimper.
“What’s the matter?”
“It’s nothing.”
“Well it’s got to be something. Come on, what is it?”

Toyama gave no reply.

“Mr. Toyama? You still there?”

Silence.

“What is it? What happened?”
“Mmf...”
“Look, ‘mmf’ doesn’t tell me anything. What the hell is going on?”

Toyama squeaked out a drawn-out whine.

“Okay, I’m sick of this! I’m hanging up now.” Minorikawa was about to break the connection when he heard Toyama murmur.

No music.




The taxi lurched to a sudden stop as the driver slammed on the brakes.



Minorikawa pitched forward, his face smacking against the back of the seat in front of him.

Kimizuka stuck his head out the window. “Careful, buddy!” he shouted at someone in the street ahead. “You’re gonna get yourself killed!”



Minorikawa blinked the stars from his eyes and saw a man moving alongside the cab.

The guy grabbed onto the handle of the back door.



“Please, I need you to let me have this cab!”
“No way,” Minorikawa snapped.

Just who did this guy think he was?

“Please, I’m begging you here.”
“Look, I’m in a hurry, pal. Get your own cab.”
“I know how ridiculous this must sound, but please, this is really, really urgent.”
“Urgent?”
“Yes, it’s a matter of life or death! Please!”

The guy did look pretty desperate.



“Look, I’m sorry, but I’m dealing with something urgent here, too.”
“Then let me ride with you. I’ll pay for the whole fare. My entire future’s on the line, here.’

The guy sure was persistent.

Maybe he was telling the truth.

But Minorikawa had problems of his own.



“Sorry, buddy. It’s life-or-death on my end, too. I gotta look after me and mine.”
“Right. So sorry to trouble you.”

Finally the guy gave up and shuffled away.

Guess it couldn’t have been that much of a life-ending crisis after all.

Minorikawa checked his wristwatch.

On The Move.



“Dammit! That just cost us five minutes!”
“I’ll try to make it up, sir!” the driver called back.

The taxi lurched into motion, the engine quickly revving up to speed.



Once inside the building, he avoided the elevator in favor of rushing up the stairs. Heaven Publishing rented out the third and fourth floors.

In all likelihood, Toyama would be at the editing department of Four-Star General Gossip, on the fourth floor.



When he got there, however, the door was locked.

“Mr. Toyama! Hey, Mr. Toyama!”

He shouted and banged, but there was no reply.

Something was seriously wrong. Minorikawa took a deep breath and then kicked the door in.

“Whoa!”

The sight as he stepped into the office filled him with horror.

Slump.



Minorikawa clutched the sides of his head.

“I’m too late...”

Oh no..! If only I’d gotten here a little sooner...


JamMasterJim
Mar 27, 2010


Well, that escalated quickly.

ChaceRider
Aug 15, 2009

and above all else, be kind


Well, drat, okay then. We're gonna have to go and stop Kano from being a very poorly timed man pretty soon.

For now, though, are we voting on Achi's decision point? If so: A: Rush him! There's no way this can go poorly!

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



ChaceRider posted:

For now, though, are we voting on Achi's decision point?

Hmmm... for this one, please either vote on Achi's decision point, or for Kano. I'll cover whichever gets the most votes along with starting Osawa's story in the next update.

Wes Warhammer
Oct 19, 2012





Well, that's not at all how I expected that story to start.

Let's stick with Achi, and swing the beer bottle at him. That always works, right?

HR12345
Nov 19, 2012


Go for Kano

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Setup.




No music.



On The Move.

Seeing his chance, Achi lunged forward in an attempt to wrest the gun away.



He reached out with both hands, attempting to knock it to the floor. The man’s grip on the weapon was stronger than he expected, however, and he shoved Achi away with surprising force.

No music.



The gunman’s posture radiated a ferocious determination. His eyes, though, were like a dead man’s-wide and hollow.

It was unsettling, to say the least.

Who the heck is this guy?

“Hitomi!” Achi shouted. “Get out of here, now!”

But Hitomi was rooted in place with terror.

“Run!’

Snapping out of it at last, she bolted for the door.



She paused in the doorway to look back at him.

“Achi...”

“What the hell are you waiting for?” Achi snarled. “Get out of here, now!”

Finally, Hitomi slipped out of the building.



At some point, the assassin had managed to snatch up a beer bottle in his free hand.

Uh-oh.



Achi tried to duck, but he was a hair too slow.

The makeshift weapon caught him in the left ear. He staggered, his head spinning, barely able to tell which way was up.

His vision dimmed, but still he refused to yield. He head-butted the man in the nose as hard as he could.

The assassin staggered backward.



Then all the remaining strength left Achi’s body.




  • That probably could have gone a bit better...



  • Round two.


On The Move.



Seeing his chance, Achi snatched up the beer bottle and swung it at the assassin.

The man narrowly avoided being struck, but he staggered wildly off-balance.



“Hitomi!” Achi grabbed her by the hand and dashed out of the club.



The two sprinted away through the side streets and alleys of Shibuya.

Achi began to feel as if they were running some maddening maze.

Before long, the two had made it almost as far as Aoyama.

No music.

“Wait up.”

“Huh?”

“Achi, wait up!”



Achi glanced back at Hitomi.

“Ah, my bad. Guess we’ve been running pretty hard. You tired?”

Hitomi shook her head.

“No, it’s just-I have to get to Dogenzaka.”

“Dogenzaka? What for?”

What could she possibly need to do there, now?

“That’s what I was told when I handed over the attaché case.”



The man leaned in to whisper to Hitomi as he reached out for the case.

“You’re going to do exactly as I tell you. Two things.” He wore a cool, feigned smile, as if this were some casual conversation. “First, you’re going to go to Dogenzaka and get in the blue van there.”

Hitomi nodded wordlessly.

“Second, you will not attempt to contact either the police or your family in the meantime.” His chilling tone brooked no argument. “Just those two things, and we’ll let your sister go.”

Hitomi nodded again.

The man flashed her a big, bright grin.

“Okay, then. Give me the money.”



“A blue van in Dogenzaka, huh?” Achi muttered. “So that’s why you said the police were a no-go?”

“Yes, exactly.” Hitomi’s voice betrayed her desperation.

“I wonder if your sister’s in that van, then. If she is, then we’ve gotta hurry.”

The issue lay in how to get to Dogenzaka. They could probably avoid their pursuer if they kept to streets only the locals usually knew about.

That meant staying off the more well-trafficked routes like Roppongi-Dori or the stretch between Miyamasuzaka and the station. The side roads south of the station were their best bet.

It was going to be a long detour.

“All right, come on.” Turning, Achi headed back the way they’d come. After a moment’s confusion, Hitomi followed.



“Um, Achi?” There was a note of worry in her voice.

“Hey, don’t sweat it. I actually live in Dogenzaka. We’re heading right back to my old neighborhood.”

Hitomi bowed her head. “Thank you so much.”

“Hey, it’s no problem. I had to head home anyway.” Achi gave her a grin, and she cracked a tiny smile of her own.



“Hey, you two. You got a minute?”

Achi looked around. A pair of men approached from across the street. There was something shady-looking about them.

Achi’s protective instincts kicked in, and he stepped in front of Hitomi. If these guys meant trouble, he wanted to be ready.

“We just wanna ask you something.”

The younger of the two men drew in closer, a sharp gleam in his eye. Achi braced himself.

“Ask us what?”

“You know where the Nokane Building is?” The man held up a flyer. It was for some sort of health food sales demo.

“Come on, man. The Nokane Building. You know where it is or not?”

Achi knew the name.

Wasn’t that one of the buildings on Center Gai?

That was near Dogenzaka-the same direction he was going.



  • We already know that these two are after Tama's boss, so we'll just point them in the opposite direction.


I don’t like the thought of these two following Hitomi and me.

Achi pointed them in the opposite direction from Center Gai.

“Pretty sure it’s that way,” he said.



“Thanks, man. Sorry to bug ya.” The two men headed off toward the main road.



Achi and Hitomi hurried onward, following the sparsely trafficked side streets toward Dogenzaka.



“I don’t think I even knew this part of Shibuya was here,” Hitomi said as she looked around.

“Yeah, a lot of people don’t. I used to mess around in this neighborhood when I was a kid.”

The area was a mishmash of run-down residences and office buildings.

“Almost nobody ever comes here unless they live or work on one of these streets. And check it out, over there: a rare firsthand glimpse of the Shibuya River!”

General Tip – Shibuya River posted:

A minor river that runs from the Miyamasu Bridge to the Tengen Bridge. Depicted in the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji by Edo Period ukiyo-e artist Hokusai. In Hokusai’s time, fireflies were collected from the Shibuya River and presented to the Shogun, lending credence to the idea that the river was indeed clean in the past.

“Have you always lived in Shibuya, Achi?”

“Yep. Born and raised.” Achi bent down to pick up a piece of trash from the roadside. “That’s why I do this. It just pisses me off to see folks make a mess of this place.”

He picked up another piece of trash.

“I don’t have a job, so I-I just pick up garbage every day. Man, what am I even doing? Like cleanup even matters right now.”

Hitomi took a long, hard look at his face.



“What?” he demanded. “What is it?”

“You’re a strange one, Achi.”

“That so?”

She was right, of course. It was sort of strange, collecting trash every day instead of getting a job. He had his reasons for it, but they weren’t important right now.

Right now, the important thing was getting Hitomi to Dogenzaka.

“C’mon,” he murmured.

Confusion.

A sudden, angry shout broke the silence as they hurried along.

“Hey! Hold it right there!”

Achi and Hitomi stopped; but the shout wasn’t directed at them.



Further up the road, a group of thuggish-looking men were having some kind of argument.

The man who was shouting had grabbed one of the others by the neck.

“Idiots! And you still got the gall to call yourselves S.O.S.?!”

428 Tip – S.O.S. posted:

The Studs of Shibuya.

A youth gang operating out of Shibuya, founded by Achi Endo. Its current leader is Susumu Nishizawa.

“I mean, yeah, Susumu, but-”

The other men standing around looked distinctly uncomfortable.

“It takes money to run an organization.”

“No, I know. And since it’s not like you’re Achi or nothing, I thought you could maybe spare some help on that front, boss.”

428 Tip – Boss posted:

The top dog; the man in charge; the head honcho. Here it refers to the leader of S.O.S., Susumu. A change in leadership can really shake up an organization; the new boss’s personality and disposition are a huge factor in whether the group continues to prosper. The fact that Susumu is being asked to “spare some help” on the monetary front suggests that he still has things to learn about being in charge.

Hitomi looked at Achi when the stranger spoke his name.

He smiled awkwardly, then turned back to the altercation.

“Shut your mouth!” Susumu barked. “How dare you say Achi’s name in my presence!”

“Hey!” Achi called out. “What was that about me?”



As soon as they saw him the other men went pale.

Achi kept his tone casual as he strolled up to the group. “Susumu, you can’t just give the guy a beat down in broad daylight. Don’t wanna shock the upstanding people of our fair city.”

General Tip – Beat Down posted:

To mess someone up super-bad, usually with punches and kicks.



“Achi.” Susumu glared. “Can we drop the pleasantries?”

“A’ight,” Achi replied with the hint of a sneer. “You got it, Susumu.”

“And I’d like to point out we’re not on a first-name basis.”



With that, Susumu turned and stalked away. His buddies followed suit, leaving Achi and Hitomi alone again.



“Did you know that guy?” Hitomi asked.

“His name’s Susumu Nishizawa. And yeah, I know him . Or I thought I did. Used to be friends, way back. Me and those guys were all part of the same crew, but I bailed a little while ago.”

Achi fell silent. To his great relief, Hitomi didn’t pry further.

No music.



Achi and Hitomi had gone a short distance further When he caught sight of a man picking something up alongside the train tracks.

Huh. I wonder...

Achi went over to him. “Hey man. You picking up trash by any chance?”



“Huh?!”

The man let out a panicked shout.

“Sorry. It just kinda looked like that’s what you’re doing.”

“Oh, um, yeah. Yeah, I’m picking up trash. Of course.” The guy seemed pretty unnerved. “Like, I just got to thinking, man, this place is filthy.”

428 Tip – Man posted:

Taisei Yasuda, thirty-five years old. Just opened up a knickknack shop in Shibuya. Achi knows Shibuya like his own backyard, but this Yasuda guy is new enough that Achi doesn’t recognize him.



“Right on!” Achi clasped the man’s hand in his own. “Someone else who gets it!”

“Uh, they do?”

“Totally! I see all this trash all over the place and I can’t stand it!”

“Oh. Yeah, sure.”

The man breathed a sigh of relief.

“I can’t stand it when someone throws something away when it can still be useful.”

“I hear that!”

“That’s the spirit! Haha!”

Achi pulled out the trash he had stuffed in his pocket.



“Here you go.”

“Huh?”

“Go ahead, have all of it.”

The man looked dumbfounded.

“Usually I go around picking up the trash around here. But I’ve got a little thing I gotta do today. You got it from here. I’m counting on you!”

“What? Actually, I’m kind of-”

“Great, thanks!”

Achi beamed in approval, then rejoined Hitomi and headed on down the street.



The man let out a sigh.

“Fine...”



Slipping through a narrow back alley, they came out near the top of Dogenzaka.

Achi looked down the hill, but didn’t see a blue van anywhere.

He and Hitomi started making their way down toward Shibuya Station.



Hitomi muttered to herself.

“I don’t see it parked around here.” Her face twisted up with worry.

It was a lot harder to find street parking closer to the station.

“Hitomi, hold up.”

Achi had a sudden idea. He darted into a nearby soba restaurant, motioning for Hitomi to follow.

Optimism.



“Heya!” he called out to the proprietress, a sharp-eyed middle-aged woman. “You’re looking as lovely as ever today, I see.”

“Oh, Achi! Are you done collecting trash for the day?” The lady took a look at Hitomi, her eyes lighting up. “Is this your girlfriend?”

“Huh? Oh, no, it’s nothing like that.”

The proprietress was undeterred.

428 Tip – Lady posted:

Maki Yoneda. When she was nineteen, she happened to stop by this place, and was captivated by the chilled curry soba. By day’s end, she had decided to make the restaurant her new home. Married the owner at age twenty-two and they managed the establishment together. Last year, her husband of thirty years passed away. Now she safeguards the generations-old secret of chilled curry soba on her own.

“Oh, she looks just like a model. She’s the spitting image of me at that age. My, my, my. Achi’s got himself a girlfriend.”

“I said it’s not like that.”

The woman waved Hitomi over.



“Now, you know Achi’s got a bit of a mouth on him and he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he’s a sweet boy.”

“Um, okay.” Hitomi forced a polite smile to her face.

“He’ll try to deny it, but don’t you listen. Has he told you about Suzune?”

“Hmm?”



“Ma’am, please.” Achi jumped in on the conversation. “You gotta hear me out.”

“Whatever’s the matter? I’m just trying to talk up your good points.”

“Have you seen a van parked around here?”

“A van? Let me think. Yes, come to think of it, there was. A blue one,” she added confidently.

Hitomi leaned forward. “Where is it now?” she asked.

“Hmm. Well I’m not really sure. I don’t keep a close eye on things outside, after all.”

Hitomi slumped. “I see.”



“I know it doesn’t look it, but I’ve been quite busy today. The man who makes my noodles came by earlier to settle accounts and we fought and fought over it. No head for finances, that one. That’s his problem. Honestly! And on top of that, of course my part-timer Masa has to have today off. Honestly!”

428 Tip – Masa posted:

First-year student at Midoriyama Academy. A sweet young man who works as a part-time delivery driver for Dogen Hut and sends all his leftover money to his mother out in the country. Lately, however, he’s gotten himself a girlfriend, and he’s been sending money back home less frequently. His noodle house job doesn’t pay enough to both support his mom and cover his dating expenses, so he’s scheming for a way to make it rich quick.



Setup.




No music.




The World Doesn't Change so Easy.



A cheery rhythm pumped from the CD player set up against the study wall. It was the latest hit from Aya Kamiki, the songwriter sensation who was blowing up the pop charts.



Kenji Osawa reached for the stereo remote on his desktop. He ratcheted the volume up a little louder.



He looked like the sort of man who’d be more interested in classical music, but in fact he was a huge fan of the girl rock popular with middle-schoolers.

Closing his eyes, he swayed back and forth in time with the music, humming his favorite lyrics under his breath.

But his movements faltered. It’s no use.

Aya’s voice usually soothed whatever ailed him, but today even she couldn’t help.

Today, Osawa was a complete wreck, in both body and mind.



Mounds of paperwork were scattered across the desktop in his study, all of it about viruses and vaccines.

It had only been a week since he’d returned from a business trip to his company’s branch office in the U.S., and he was slated to go back in another week’s time.

There was a truly staggering amount of work he needed to get through while he was at home.



He picked up one of the papers, glanced at it aimlessly, then tossed it back onto the desk. Slumping back in his chair, he let out a long, deep sigh.

He was in no mental state to work right now.

A faint knock at the door barely roused him from his torpor.

“Director, may I come in?” It was his vice-director, Mamoru Tanaka.

“Sure. The door’s open.”



Tanaka came into the study. “I know it’s not a great time, but...”

Osawa could barely make out his words. He tapped the remote, lowering the volume of the music.

Tanaka continued apologetically. “A call came in from the lab. They’re hoping for a response to the email they sent yesterday.”

“I’m sure they don’t need it today?”

“Apparently they do need an answer as soon as possible, sir. I did ask them to give you some more time, but...”

“I see,” Osawa said wearily. “All right, then.”

Tanaka dipped his head slightly and slipped out of the room.

No music.



Osawa contemplated his colleague. Tanaka was a man he could truly depend on.

He has enough of his own work to do. He didn’t need to come here again today, but he did.

They’d been working in close concert ever since Osawa had gotten back to Japan. Without Tanaka’s support, there was no way he would be in a mindset to do any work at all right now.

Sidling up to his computer, Osawa opened his email program and started answering the work-related messages.

He reported on his business travel expenses, offered his opinions on capital investments, requested confirmation on current medicinal stockpiles....

He worked with bleak detachment.

None of this meant anything to him right now. Then a new email appeared in his inbox.



The sender was identified simply as “A”.

The subject line read “One Year Ago - South Africa”.

The message body was blank, but there appeared to be multiple images attached. Ordinarily, Osawa would have deleted a message like this immediately, assuming that it contained some kind of virus.

But the words “South Africa” drew his attention.

Could this possibly be related to...? He couldn’t help but to wonder.

For a long moment he hovered the cursor over one of the image files.

At last, as if spurred on by the upbeat rhythm in his ears, he double-clicked the mouse.

Lost in Thought.



What is this?

The grainy photograph showed a large room with a dozen or so people laid out in beds. It appeared to be some sort of medical ward. Osawa felt a strange flutter in his chest.

He quickly opened another image.



This one showed a close-up of one of the patients in his bed.

Large red blotches covered his face; a large volume of blood appeared to be dripping from his ears and nostrils.

A cold shudder ran up Osawa’s spine.

What the hell?

These symptoms...

Osawa opened up the remaining image files.





Each new picture showed another of the patients. They all appeared to be teetering on the brink of death.

There was no doubt about it: These people were infected with the Ua Virus.

428 Tip – Ua virus posted:

The Ua Virus (1)

The Ua virus belongs to family Filoviridae, genus Ualikevirus. It is a member of the same family as the Ebola virus, and causes Ua virus fulminant hemorrhagic fever. It is capable of airborne transmission, although an infected individual cannot pass on the infection before symptoms manifest. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have assigned the virus to Risk Group 4, their classification for the most dangerous infectious agents

But how?

Questions tumbled through Osawa’s mind. His fingers tapped out a quick message. He doubted he’d get a response, but he might as well try.

Who are you?

Where are these images from?



The Ua virus got its name from a Swahili word for “flower.”

Supposedly this was based on the fact that the propagated form of the virus resembled the petals of a flower. Despite the flowery name, however, the disease was anything but pretty.

“Ua” didn’t just mean “flower”; it also meant “to kill.”

428 Tip – Ua virus posted:

The Ua Virus (2)

The virus is roughly 90nm to 110nm in diameter and 500nm to 700nm long. Because of its pronounced sickle-like shape, it is sometimes known as “the Sickle of Death.” It possesses a viral envelope, the surface of which is coated with spike-shaped protein protuberances.

(*one nm [nanometer] = one billionth of a meter [0.000000001m])

And as the name suggested, the virus had a mortality rate of 100% in those it managed to
infect. Moreover, there was a very short incubation period between infection, the onset of symptoms, and death. Within roughly twelve hours, bleeding would set in throughout the body-everywhere but the bones and muscles-with lethal results. Due to its incredibly high mortality rate, the disease’s very existence had been kept hidden from public knowledge.

428 Tip – Mortality rate of 100% posted:

Because most details regarding the Ua virus have been suppressed, cases of Ua infection are largely unknown to the world at large. Because all patients known to be infected with the virus on official record have died within a short timeframe, the mortality rate is given as 100%. As the incidence of known cases grows, the number may drop below 100%, but the mortality rate will likely remain extraordinarily high.

428 Tip – Onset of symptons posted:

Inhaled viral particles can spread from the lungs to the lymph nodes, and from there disperse throughout the body. The virus propagates in several places, including liver cells and macrophages (a component of the immune system), and destroys the endothelial cells within blood vessels . Upon reaching the brain, it forms a neural “sludge” of blood mixed with other bodily fluids.



Osawa’s computer chimed to signify the arrival of a new email.

The sender was “A”.

He hurried to open the message.

Once again, the subject line read “One Year Ago - South Africa”.



Osawa stared at those two words.

My crimes?

That left him only with further questions. He looked again at the images from the previous email.



What makes any of this my crimes?



He could see that the patients’ bleeding was severe. He estimated that several hours had passed since the onset of the disease.

It wouldn’t be long before their lives were cut short.

To feel that agony, that suffering, and then to perish-am I to blame for that?

No music.

Another faint knock came at the door.

“Darling? Do you have a moment?”

It was his wife, Ai.

HydroSphere fucked around with this message at 19:08 on Jun 18, 2019

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Four basic options here:

  • Vote on Achi's decision point.
  • Vote on Osawa's decision point.
  • Switch to Kano.
  • Go back to Tama now the loan sharks have been pointed away from the Nokane Building.

HR12345
Nov 19, 2012


Go back to Tama

ChaceRider
Aug 15, 2009

and above all else, be kind


Oh wow, that's... a lot. Also, here I was specifically not voting for the beer bottle attack, since AFAIK attacking someone with a glass bottle is kind of a bad idea, but... Whatever works, I guess! (e: then again, I suppose it depends on whether it breaks. A bottle breaking in your hand is a REALLY bad time.)

Anyway, yeah, that's all an awful lot of drama and, uh, horrible virus death. Let's go back to Tama, I miss the days where our only worries were heat stroke and paychecks.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Setup.



Tama.



No music.

The door flies open suddenly and a loud voice belts out.

"Hold it right there!"

Eggplant.



I whirl around in a panic to see an odd-looking man standing in the doorway.

It’s Jun’ichi Yanagishita.

He’s the guy who hired us.

  • Yanagishita is played by Nasubi. I'm hoping that Wikipedia is incorrect, or at least exaggerated, otherwise



“I heard that, Chiri. Don’t you go calling my product ‘junk.’ That’s disrespectful.”

Chiri gave him an apologetic look. “Whoops. Sorry ‘bout that.”

“You should be! But whatever. If you really have doubts, have a try for yourself.”



Mr. Yanagishita pulls a bottle of Burning Hammer from his coat pocket.

At first glance, it looks like some kind of energy supplement, but the cheapo label gives an immediate impression of sketchiness.

“Go on,’ says Yanagishita. “Give it a go.”

Chiri reaches out to take it.

428 Tip – Burning Hammer posted:

[Sister Products Include:]

“Del Sweats”
“Celluloss”
“Better Sweater”
“Dom Pepperon”
“PowerBurn Z”
“Mr. Thin”
“Nega-Chow”
“Super Nega-Chow’



But no sooner does she grab the bottle than Mr. Yanagishita shouts out once more.

“Wait-hold on!”

“Wha-?” Chiri squawks. “What gives?”



“You two-you’re both good, stomach-wise?”

“Stomach-wise?”

“Yeah. Drinking this stuff on an empty stomach can cause some pretty nasty problems. So just make sure you eat or drink something beforehand. Doesn’t matter what, really.”

“Wait, ‘nasty problems’?”

“Yeah.”

“Such as what?” I ask.



“I’d...rather not say. Nobody would buy it, otherwise.”

Seriously?

“It’s all good. I just had lunch,” Chiri says. She flashes a carefree smile.

Well, I haven’t eaten yet.

But on the other hand, I’ve been guzzling as much iced tea as I can to fill myself up. It’s probably safe for me to try this stuff.

lets hang out
Jan 10, 2015



Holy poo poo that Wikipedia article

The other two are obvious right and wrong answers so C

ChaceRider
Aug 15, 2009

and above all else, be kind


Holy poo poo that guy's wikipedia page. I'll come back to this post once I've read the rest of the update but seriously holy poo poo, I've seen that guy in Kamen Rider before, but never thought to look him up. Not sure whether I'm glad or not that I didn't know all... that. The gently caress, gameshows?!

Anyway, edit with whatever we're voting on coming shortly. (THE gently caress, GAMESHOWS.)

Edit: Okay firstly, those other product names are gold. And secondly, yeah C: dude are we about to go on a vision quest, because I'm not sure we're ready for that level of commitment to the job here, bro

ChaceRider fucked around with this message at 18:28 on Jun 13, 2019

HR12345
Nov 19, 2012


I say go with Choice A

Also I first saw that name and I'm also thinking of the wrestling version of the Burning Hammer that Kenta Kobashi has only done like seven or so times and only as a last resort.

Kangra
May 7, 2012



There have to be more than one game shows that are conducted entirely as psychological experiments by people fed up with all the 'ethical rules' they had to follow back at the academy.

Ask if we will c visions if we drink it.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Eggplant.



No music.

Wait, is this that stuff that gives you visions or something?

I remember a rumor I heard not too long ago, some kind of urban legend.




I’d heard some college students talking about hearing voices like that, swearing this mystery drink could have that effect.

It’s a little unnerving. Still, I really doubt it could be true.



I stick the bottle of Burning Hammer into my mascot-head mouth. It has an unexpected smell-like curry.



Getting my own lips around the mouth of the bottle, I gulp down the liquid inside.

Huh?



It doesn’t taste like anything.

A handful of seconds go by.



Game.



It feels like a firecracker just exploded inside my mouth.

Now it’s spicy.

Way too spicy.

It’s like I just swallowed a chili pepper coated in curry powder.

Before I know it, I’m sweating bullets.



“Well? You sweatin’?” Mr. Yanagishita asks. “Like a whole lot? You are, aren’t ya!”

Why does he sound so happy about that?

“That right there is the magic of Burning Hammer at work!”

Chiri and I are at a loss for words.

“Burning Hammer! Drink all you want and just burn those pounds away!’ How’s that sound? Good, huh?”



“This is just so stupid-spicy it makes you sweat!” Chiri blurts out.

Blunt and to the point. I approve.

“Yeah? Well-I guess you’re right,” Yanagishita says.

He hangs his head.



“What is in this stuff?” I ask.

I can still feel my tongue tingling.

Heck, my body is almost too numb to move. I’m so shocked I even forget to get properly angry.



“So it’s this health food product that got imported from America a few years back,” Yanagishita explains. “But the import agency went out of business not long after, and couldn’t move the merch. So I bought up the whole lot, everything they had in their storehouse. Spent all the money I had on it!”

Chiri arches an eyebrow.

“How much did it cost you?” she asks.



“One million yen for 300 bottles.”

I can scarcely believe my ears.

Three hundred bottles at one million yen for the lot...that’s roughly 3,333 yen apiece! Each one of these teensy little bottles cost over 3000 yen?

“You got ripped off, man,” Chiri says.

“You...you really think so? Huh. Yeah, you’re probably right.”

He hangs his head even more despondently.



“This is the sorta thing they’d sell in 100-yen shops or something.”

Ouch. Chiri, moving in for the kill.

“100-yen shops? Really?”

Mr. Yanagishita lets out the heaviest of sighs. I’m starting to feel pretty bad for the guy, actually.



“Don’t let it get you down, sir,” I say, hoping to comfort him.

But Mr. Yanagishita just lets out a sob-choked sigh.

I try again. “It’ll be okay. Whether or not it helps you lose weight, it is spicy and it does make you sweat.”



“Uh, I’m not sure I follow,” Chiri says. “How much you selling these bottles for, boss?”

428 Tip – Sigh posted:

A deep breath emphatically exhaled; often a sign of disappointment, stress, or unrequited love.

Also a way of expressing the anxiety brought on by massive debt. One has no money to give; only sighs. Right around now, Minoru Minorikawa is in the company of someone inclined to sigh this way.



  • Some times we won't be able to immediately jump to another character if we haven't progressed far enough with that other character




Fifteen thousand yen per bottle.”

428 Tip – Fifteen thousand yen per bottle posted:

Selling all 300 bottles would yield proceeds of 4.5 million yen. After deducting expenses, such as the cost of the product, rental fee for the venue, pay for the part-timers, and printing flyers, this yields a net profit of roughly 2.5 million yen. It’s doubtful that anyone would pay 15,000 yen for a single small bottle, but you never know...there could be a few housewives or young women out there who’d fork out that much in the name of weight loss. A terrifying thought.



“Whaaaaaaat?!”

Chiri’s jaw practically hits the floor. Mine does the same.

No way.

Nuh-uh. No. Freaking. Way.

Calling that price point “absurd” wouldn’t begin to do it justice.



“Well, uh, look, selling it at that price is my only option! I need to cover my costs! Anyway, please, I need you both to work your hardest!”

Apparently he’s committed to this insane course of action.

“Okaaaaay,” Chiri replies.

It’s more like a sigh than a proper response, but I can’t blame her.

Regallion
Nov 11, 2012



let's get our furry rear end fired OBJECTION! that's a scam!

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Game.



I can’t just sit there and not speak up.

“Isn’t this just a scam, sir?”

“Sorry, can’t hear you.”

Yanagishita plays dumb.

Fine. I repeat myself.

“This is a scam, isn’t it?”

He tilts his head to one side.

“Hmm. Something’s wrong with my ear.”

Undeterred, I repeat myself once more.

“This is a scam, isn’t it?”

Tears are welling up in Mr. Yanagishita’s eyes.

“Look, kid,” he says huskily. “Listen up.” He’s clearly struggling to maintain his calm. “You’re in the grown-ups’ world now.”

I nod a few times.

“But a scam is still a scam, right?” I say.



“You!”

“Sir?”

“What’s your name again?”

“Oh, uh, it’s Tama.”

“Okay, Tama. Why are you still wearing your costume?”

Wha-? He’s straight-up dodged my question. Oh well-at least I tried.

I explain the situation with my suit.

No music.



“Wow. So, then, are you going to do the sales demo like that?”

Well, if I can’t take the mascot costume off, I don’t have much of a choice, do I?

“No, no, that won’t do at all. I hired you to be a model. If you’re wearing that thing, then what’s the point?”

I’m at a loss for words. The point is exactly what he’s missing.

It’s not like I’m wearing this getup because I want to!



“How ‘bout we just cut it off of ya?” Chiri says with a big grin.

She pulls a massive pair of scissors out of her bag.

The blades make an unsettling snip-snip sound as she waggles them in my face.



“Whoa! No, you can’t do that!” Yanagishita exclaims. “That suit’s a rental. I don’t want to have to reimburse them for the thing.”

“Well then what am I supposed to do?” I ask.

He looks at me uncertainly.

“Maybe you could have someone from the rental place come down?” Chiri suggests, before helping herself to the rest of my lunch.


“Oh, hey. Good idea,” Yanagishita says. He seems to be making an effort to calm himself down, at least.

“Just try to grin and bear it until then, Tama.”

Well. I guess that’s that, then.



“I’m sure we’ll get it off eventually,” I say. “Hopefully before the demo.”

“That’s the spirit. I really need you to be my model.”

A model, huh?

It’s flattering, but I can’t help but wonder-would I be any good at that?

Well, this is no time to be timid.

I need that money, no matter what.

My troubles all started earlier this morning.



I was at a knickknack shop on Center Gai. I’d happened to pass by, and I spotted a red necklace on display in the storefront.

And I got this weird sensation when I saw it. You could maybe call it déja vu? Something like that.

It was as if I’d been drawn to it somehow.



I wanted it.

No-I needed to make it mine.

As soon as I possibly could. That’s how strong the feeling was.

The price was forty thousand yen. I checked my wallet repeatedly, but I only had twenty thousand on me.

Nonetheless I needed to have it. There was just one question: How?

Somehow I managed to drag myself away from the shop.

Just a few minutes later, I ran into Mr. Yanagishita.



“Hey!” a voice said out of nowhere. “If you want, I can pay you ten thousand for a day’s work.”

I found myself staring at this frumpy, middle-aged man who was handing me his business card.

Managing Director
Jun’ichi Yanagishita
Yamato Health Foods Co., Ltd.



“I’m in a real bind, here. Need some extra help. Would you mind coming with me? I’m begging you. Just one day.”

He seemed pretty sketchy.

As much as I needed money for that necklace, I wasn’t going anywhere with some random weirdo.

I ignored him and tried to just walk off.



“Please! Pleeeeease!” Yanagishita grabbed me by the hand.

“Watch it, pal!” I snapped. “Hands off or I start shouting for help.”



“Please, it’s not like that! Just hear me out!”

“Look, I’m in a hurry.”



“Please! Ple-ee-eease!”

“Knock it off!”

I spun forcefully away from him, yanking my hand from his grip.



“Oof!”

Yanagishita whirled through the air and fell into the bushes.



“Whoa, where’d that come from?” he gasped. His eyes were wide as saucers. “You a martial artist or something?”

“Um, no, I...I think that was just a fluke.” The truth was I was surprised myself at how well I’d pulled off that escape move.

“Ah, okay then. Look, I’m sorry. Can you give me a hand?”

“No way.”

“No, I mean, give me your hand. My hip’s killing me, here. Ah, owowowow...”

“I guess...” The least I could do was help the guy get to his feet.



“Look, why are you hounding me so much?”

“Please, don’t be angry. The moment I saw you, I just felt it. You're the only person who can possibly do this job for me.”

I let out a sigh, but my interest was admittedly piqued.

“What kind of job?”

“I need a sales rep for a health supplement. I want you to do PR as a dieting success story for my product. Just look at you! You have the body of an actress-sales are gonna go through the roof!”

Well, it was hard to feel too offended when he told me that.

The job didn’t seem as fishy as I’d initially suspected.

“All right, maybe I’m interested,” I said. “There’s just one thing.”

“Yeah? Whatever it is, I’m sure I can handle it.”

“I need twenty thousand yen as soon as possible. So if the day only pays ten thousand...”

“All right, then. If you can sell a hundred bottles at our sales event, I’ll throw in another ten thousand as a bonus! How’s that sound?’

I certainly couldn’t think of any other way I was going to earn twenty thousand yen in a single day.

This might be exactly the break I needed.

“You’ve got a deal. You have my services for the day,” I said, bowing my head.



“Yesssss!”

Yanagishita jumped for joy.

“Uh, what about your hip?”



“Huh? Oh, yeah, it’s better now. All better. Fixed itself just now.”

Yanagishita bowed deeply as I gave him a dubious look.



“Look, I’m sorry,” he added hurriedly. “I wasn’t trying to pull a fast one on you, honest. I was just scouting for talent and I saw you, and, well...”

Was trusting this guy really the best idea? I was starting to worry-just a little-about whether he’d actually pay up.

“Look, I’ve staked everything on this sales demo later today,” he went on. “This is the make-or-break opportunity of a lifetime!”

“Suuuure.”

“I’ll be honest with you: I’m in a ton of debt. Two million yen. Two million.”

Yanagishita’s tone had taken on a feverish intensity.

“If I don’t pay it back by the end of the day, then boy howdy am I up the creek without a paddle.”

“How...how did you even get into a situation like that?” I asked.

He gazed skyward, a far-off look in his eyes.



“Because even if he knows he has no chance of winning, sometimes, a man just has to stand and fight. But I guess a girl like you wouldn’t understand.”

He laughed and smiled at his own words, but he was right: I sure as heck didn’t understand in the slightest.



“Anyway , real quick, could you put this on?”

Mr. Yanagishita briskly rummaged through his bundle, then thrust a cat costume out toward me.

“What? Here?”



“Yeah! Before the sales event, you gotta hand out some samples! The job’s already started, y’know!”

And with that, Mr. Yanagishita went about getting me into the mascot suit.

428 Tip – Hand out some samples posted:

The Burning Hammer in the sample bottles is cut ten parts to one with water; even so, it is intensely spicy, and drinking it on an empty stomach is sure to cause gastrointestinal distress, or even make the drinker black out. It’s hard to believe that a sample of something so dangerous would win over any customers, but you never know...there could be housewives or young women out there who’d accept such a risk in the name of weight loss. Another terrifying thought.



Looking back on it, it was a pretty ridiculous turn of events.

Still, if I was going to get my hands on that necklace, I had to take the chance that this job would pay out.

“I doubt we’re gonna be able to sell a single bottle of this crap,” Chiri whispers in my ear.

“I’ll just have to do the best I can,” I say.

I say it more to myself than to anyone else.

Once again I ask myself: why am I in such a rush to get this necklace, anyway?

I honestly don’t know.

It’s the strangest thing.

I try my hardest to think of a reason, but all I get is a dull aching throb at the back of my head.

It’s the same pain I felt earlier, as if I’ve gotten a good bonk on the head or something.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



This is the end of Tama's 11:00 block, please vote for who you want to see next and how we should proceed, if applicable. Quick recap of where we are with everyone:

  • Having escaped the assassin, Achi is currently helping Hitomi find a blue van as ordered by the man who took the attaché case. The proprietress of a noodle shop claims to have seen one, but Achi isn't convinced.

  • We haven't started Kano's 11:00 block yet.

  • Minorikawa is currently locked into a bad ending having failed to arrive in time (due to Kano delaying his taxi) to save an old acquaintance.

  • Osawa has received two mysterious emails with photos taken a year ago of various people in South Africa suffering from the lethal Ua virus. With his wife at the door, Osawa is currently debating whether to invite her in immediately, or whether he should first quickly hide the emails.

ChaceRider
Aug 15, 2009

and above all else, be kind


Let's go force Kano to not indirectly cause a man's suicide. That seems pretty important.

And wow, the amnesia subtext seems to be getting pretty strong with Tama now. She has a wallet, does she not also have any ID in it? Guess not. (Crazy theory time: Tama is the kidnapped sister, freshly escaped but sans memories. The kidnappers' odd behavior is a cover for having lost her. ) Still, at least now we know what she wants the money for. Not that she's likely to get it. Oh, dear...

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Setup.




No music.



As he wandered through the back alleys, Kano gritted his teeth.

Going after the guy on the bike had been a bad judgement call.

By the time he got back up onto the pedestrian overpass, the man who’d thrown the attaché case was almost out of sight. Kano prided himself on being fleet of foot, but he knew even he would never catch the guy before he disappeared.

He’d followed the culprit as far as the alleys, but there he’d lost him completely.

All he could do now was hope one of his colleagues caught the man on the motorcycle.

Shinya Kano



Kuze’s voice crackled through the earpiece.

“Mobile command center calling all units!

The suspect on the motorcycle has handed off the case to an accomplice in Miyashita Park-another foreigner.”

“For real?” Kano muttered.



One thing immediately struck him as strange.

Why hand the case off to someone else at all? Why not just escape on the bike?



“The man with the motorcycle dumped the bike and fled on foot. We’ve retrieved the bike and run the plate, and we’ve determined it was a stolen vehicle. We still don’t have enough details to positively I.D. the suspect. The suspect now carrying the attaché case is heading through Dogenzaka, also on foot. We’ve got him under observation.”

General Tip – Stolen vehicle posted:

The advanced police communication system is carefully maintained. By using the digital wireless systems in their patrol cars, officers are able to directly access the station’s computer network, allowing them to quickly check to see if an individual is on the wanted list or if a vehicle is stolen.

Dogenzaka, huh?

That wasn’t too far from where Kano was now.



“It looks like we’re dealing with a foreign crime syndicate that’s familiar with Shibuya. All units, head to Dogenzaka, but do not-I repeat, do not—attempt to apprehend the suspect with the case. Let’s see where he goes.”

Kano nodded to himself. Without knowing more about the crooks’ M.O., letting this guy go for now was probably the only right call.

“I just want you all to know one last thing.”

Kuze’s tone grew more solemn.

“Whatever happens, I know I can count on each and every one of you. Don’t disappoint me. Over and out.”

Kano had the unsettling feeling that the message had been meant for him.

Right. It’s now or never.

The sudden appearance of this syndicate, and its bizarre actions, were rapidly moving things beyond the jurisdiction of both the MPD and the local police.

Mustering his resolve, Kano headed for Dogenzaka.

No music.



Kano pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. It was Rumi calling.

She knew full well he wasn’t supposed to take private calls while he was working a case.

Maybe it was an emergency?

He decided to pick up.



“Rumi?”

“I’m sorry. Are you in the middle of something right now?”

“Uh, kind of. Is this an emergency?”

“Um, well, yeah. So, I’m in Shibuya right now, and...”

Shibuya?

Why did she have to be in Shibuya now, of all times?

“So, um, my father came down from Nagano all of a sudden.”

“What?!”

Rumi’s father, Shizuo, had been staunchly opposed to the two of them getting married. Kano had visited his home many times, but the man had never even deigned to meet him.

“Yeah. He told me to tell you he wants to meet with you.”

Relaxation.



“What, now?!”

Kano blurted the words out with more alarm than he’d intended.

“I told him you were busy working, but he said he’d wait.”

“This can’t be happening,” Kano whimpered to himself.

“I’m sorry. I know he can be demanding.”

“That’s...not the issue.”

Her dad offering to wait made it harder for him to refuse.

“All right,” Kano said. “But I’ll have to call you back later, okay?”

“I really am sorry. I’ll be at a café called Lautrec. It’s by the train station.”

Rumi hung up.



For a long moment Kano stood in a. daze, staring at his phone.

As if keeping up with the case wasn’t stressful enough...



At last he stumbled into motion. But even as he scoured Dogenzaka for any sign of the criminal, his mind remained fixed on the meeting with Rumi’s dad.

There was no way of knowing when he’d be done with his case work today.

But could he really pass up on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get her father’s approval for her hand in marriage? Maybe he could slip away for just a bit.

General Tip – Once-in-a-lifetime posted:

Odds are that this will not be the only once-in-a-lifetime experience Detective Kano winds up having today.



  • Choosing A leads to Kano delaying Minorikawa.

No. Right now, I’ve got a job to focus on.

Kano shook his head to clear out the foolish impulses.

What the hell had he been thinking? A girl’s life was on the line.

Marrying Rumi was more important to him than anything...but now wasn’t the time.

Besides, now that he thought about it, running out on a critical investigation to meet with the old man probably wasn’t going to score him any points. Rumi’s dad didn’t strike him as someone who’d approve of shirking one’s responsibilities.

Kano would just have to wrap up this kidnapping case a little ahead of schedule. Then he could have a proper sit-down with Shizuo.

As he considered his plan, he caught sight of the man with the attaché case walking by.

No music.



Further up along Dogenzaka, in the direction the perp was heading, was where Yamate-Dori joined Route 246.

Maybe the guy was planning to meet up with a getaway car?



No, wait. Hold on.

Mystery.

If that were the plan, why would the gang have ditched the motorcycle earlier?

Kano started tailing the man, wracking his brain all the while. The suspect turned down a narrow side road.

He wasn’t heading toward Yamate-Dori or Route 246 at all, but back toward Shibuya Station.

What in the world was going on?

It was starting to feel like the crooks were just messing with the investigation team.



Kano radioed Kuze on the wireless.

“Sir, I don’t think there’s any point in seeing where this guy leads us anymore.”

“That’s not your call to make. Keep watching him.”

“Sir, this is a waste of time. That girl might be in danger if-”

Kano’s argument was cut short as he saw the man hand off the attaché case to yet another foreigner.

General Tip – Wireless posted:

The police wireless system is digital, in order to make transmissions more difficult to intercept.

There are several different channels available, including the basic local channel, a common channel for contacting other nearby patrol cars, channels assigned to specific precincts, action update channels for riot squads, and so on. There is also a separate channel specifically for kidnapping cases, not on the standard wavelengths.

Again?

How many times were these criminals going to pull this trick?

The detectives broke into two groups to follow both of the men.



Kano followed the man with the attaché case, who eventually led him back to the area around Shibuya Station.

Rumi and Shizuo should be waiting at a nearby cafe right now.

Kano tried to remember the name. That’s right; it was called ‘Lautrec’.

He kept his eye out for a place by that name as he tailed the target.

428 Tip – Lautrec posted:

The name of the café where college student Ryoko Kakinuma works as a waitress.

Named after 19th Century French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. He created numerous works, including many posters, book illustrations, and book covers, which are highly regarded in the art world.

  • Ryoko is the girl that was being harassed by hustlers at the start of Achi's 10:00 block. Not going to the police box with Hitomi a little later also leads to a bad end where Kano sees Achi fleeing with Hitomi. Kano pursues and has an arguement with Achi. Ryoko happens to be passing by, and seeing the altercation, decides to help Achi out in return by throwing one of her legal books at Kano's head.




Before long he did spot the café. Its large plate glass window offered a view of the cozy interior.

The sign out front read “Lautrec.”

Looked like this was the place.

The man with the case was at the intersection, waiting for the light to change. Kano took the opportunity to peer inside.



He spotted Rumi right away. She was facing away from him.

So the man seated across from her must be her father.

Kano realized he’d never even seen a picture of him.

Shizuo grew organic produce up in Nagano nowadays, but until two years ago, he’d been a detective with the Investigation Division. Rumi looked up to her father for his distinguished police career, and always spoke quite highly of him.

General Tip – Investigation Division posted:

MPD investigative division responsible for handling crimes such as murder, kidnapping, and arson that take place within the Tokyo Metropolis. Truly exceptional officers are assigned to this division; they are regularly dispatched to various regional task forces to aid in investigations, where their talents and experience often prove critical. The position of section chief is traditionally given only to dedicated personnel well-versed with crime scenes and organizational administration.

Kano had figured that if he became a policeman, Rumi might appreciate that. It was this simple impulse that had led him to join the force.

He had also figured that public servants could stay afloat even in times of recession, and that his physical training would serve him well in such a line of work.

Once he was a policeman, he’d thought, he could approach Shizuo with his head held high and ask for his blessing in marrying his daughter.



But after Rumi graduated from university, Shizuo had up and retired from police work. Even Rumi didn’t know why he’d made the decision.

Kano had traveled to Nagano many times to ask Shizuo for permission to marry her.

But the only response he ever got was,

“I’m not giving away my daughter to any cop.”

Kano had never even gotten past the intercom before her father turned him away.

Years on the force had nearly made Kano lose sight of what had driven him to become a policeman in the first place.

And now, the chance to meet Shizuo face-to-face had finally come.

He peered intently into the café.

Across from Rumi sat an older man with a grim expression.

No music.



Just who was this hard-faced fellow?

It took a lot to rattle Kano, but the guy looked scary.

Could this really be his sweet little Rumi’s father?

The prospect of meeting with him later filled Kano with sudden dread.



The man went into the JR Shibuya Station and stood before the ticket machine.

What if this guy managed to get outside the dragnet and pull a stunt like that...

“It looks like the suspect is going to board a train,” Kano informed Kuze over the wireless.

“Make sure you stay on his tail.”

Apparently Kuze still wanted to string the perp along for a bit.

“We’ve got the Lizards ready to pursue. We’ll reestablish our dragnet around whatever station he gets off at.”

General Tip – Lizards posted:

Japanese police lingo for motorcycle squads deployed to pursue suspects in urban settings.



The man purchased a ticket from the machine and passed through the gate.

There was no way to tell what station he’d bought a ticket for, but it looked like he was heading clockwise along the Yamanote Line loop.

Kano used his pre-paid card and made his way through the ticket gate as well.

General Tip – Pre-paid card posted:

Officers do not actually get free rides on public transportation simply by flashing their badges, as is frequently depicted in TV shows and films; doing so might risk alerting the suspect. For this reason, pre-paid cards are provided ahead of time.



An announcement chime signalled the imminent arrival of a train up on the platform.

The man made his way up the stairs, looking calm and composed. He showed no sign of checking for pursuers.

Kano hurried after him.



The man stopped at the very edge of the platform to await the train.

Not ideal.

There was no way for Kano to get close without sticking out like a sore thumb.



The train glided up to the platform.

The man gave a quick look around as he stepped aboard.

Kano followed.

Trains on the Yamanote Line didn’t stop for long, and soon they were on their way.



Glancing around, Kano noticed other MPD investigators who had slipped aboard the train as well.

The suspect stood behind the driver’s compartment, staring contemplatively at the scenery outside.

The man’s composure only served to rattle Kano more.



A man in a gaudy necktie walked past Kano, talking on his cell phone.

“Yes, everything’s going fine on this end,” he said. “There’s no need to worry.”

In his other hand, he carried the same sort of attaché case as the man they were tailing.

He headed right toward the driver’s compartment and stood next to the suspect.

Tension.



Well now, that's not suspicious.

Kano leaned his head subtly, straining to make out what he could of the phone conversation at the other end of the car.

“Yes, of course. 225 pages, all fully proofread.”

225?

That was police jargon for “kidnapping.” Was this guy in cahoots with the kidnapper?

General Tip – 225 posted:

Article 225 of the Penal Code of Japan details “Kidnapping for Profit” and “Kidnapping for Ransom.” Accordingly, “225” is police shorthand for “kidnapping.



Maybe the criminals had planned an attaché case swap. Kano watched the newcomer like a hawk.



But rather than making contact with the suspect, the man turned around and strolled back the way he’d come.

He hadn’t done anything suspicious at all.

“Yes...Right, right. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Understood.”

Kano stole a glimpse of the man’s face as he passed.

He stopped and looked at Kano, seemingly aware that he was being watched.

HydroSphere fucked around with this message at 09:41 on Jun 22, 2019

Your Everyday NEET
Apr 26, 2017


A. Stare him down

Kano did get outwitted by the bad guys once. Noq he must assert his dominance to them.

Kangra
May 7, 2012



Look Away.

(Also, there's a malformed URL tag on the music link for Mystery.)

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Kangra posted:

Look Away.

(Also, there's a malformed URL tag on the music link for Mystery.)

Fixed. Thanks.

ChaceRider
Aug 15, 2009

and above all else, be kind


Goddammit, Kano, that's what you were up to back there?!

Well, at least hopefully now we've stopped a suicide from happening. Kano, look away in shame and think about what you did (in a timeline that no longer happened)!

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Tension.



Kano decided to look away nonchalantly.

But his anxiety got the better of him, and after a moment he turned his gaze right back. Soon the two men were locked in a staring contest.

“Ah, my apologies,” the man said. He shut his phone with a click.

“I know it’s rather rude to talk on one’s cell phone when you’re on a train. That’s just common decency.” The man affected a smile, then headed back to the car from which he’d come.

No music.

Sheesh. Guess I overreacted.



“You gotta stop staring at everyone,” an oddly-dressed passenger murmured into Kano’s ear. “Blend into your surroundings more.”



“Sasayama? When’d you get here?”

His partner had somehow found time to change his disguise.

The steely expression on his face was at odds with his anime-nerd getup.

Kano had seen Sasayama disguise himself as plenty of things throughout the years-chef, magician, samurai, and an astronaut to name a few—but this was a new extreme, even for him.

When he first joined the force, Kano had found Sasayama’s costuming antics amusing, wondering where he managed to find his outfits; but lately his quirk had become tedious.

428 Tip – Disguise posted:


“Y’like the ocean?”

“Huh?”

“Never mind.”



Sasayama pulled a small bottle from his breast pocket. “Drink this while you can. Guessing you haven’t eaten.”

“Huh? What’s this?”

“The least I could do.”

He handed Kano the bottle, then slipped away into the next compartment.



He’d pulled an all-nighter and hadn’t eaten, so he was glad to have something. He took a sip.

Whatever this was, it was bland.

It almost didn’t taste like anything.

Just what had Sasayama given him?

Ah, what the heck. Anything’s better than nothing. He brought the bottle to his lips and chugged the contents down.



He suddenly got a massive head-rush.

He felt a heat.

A heat like a burning that spread from his insides throughout his whole body.

No, that wasn’t right.



It was an ache.

It was a ferocious ache.

A burning that spread from his insides to his fingertips.

And there was pain.

A numbing that spread from his insides all the way down to his toes.

Burning, aching, hurting.

Burning, aching, hurting.

Burning, aching, hurting.

Twitchy, itchy, dizzy, sleepy, chilly, willy-nilly. This was not good. This was super-duper not good.

He broke into a cold sweat, his forehead drenched, his body damp and clammy all over.

He felt his grip on consciousness slipping.

Sasayama, what the hell did you do to me?

With bleary eyes, he squinted to read the writing on the bottle.

“B...U...R......N...?

After a scant few letters, Kano blacked out.




  • This bad end is easy to fix.

Setup.




No music.



  • We just try to force the sample on to the business man, rather than Sasayama.

Clutching the free sample in my furry fist, I try to force it off on to the business man to my left.



“Here you go, sir! A free sample of Burning Hammer, the latest and greatest diet drink!”

The businessman flashes me a look of utter contempt and makes a point of avoiding me as he slips past.

Bam. There goes the wind right out of my sails.

I wonder how the other mascot is doing about now.

  • This leads into Tama meeting up with Chiri.

    Getting back to Kano...





The suspect, meanwhile, was still staring out the window.

The announcer’s electronic voice filled the train compartment. “Next stop, Harajuku. Next stop, Harajuku.”

Shinya Kano



Huh?

Kano almost cried out.

The suspect was moving toward the exit door.

Apparently he was only taking the train one station down the line.



The train pulled into Harajuku Station and the man got off.

The detectives following him disembarked accordingly.



The suspect walked along the platform and took a seat on an empty bench.

Was he checking to see if he had a tail?

General Tip – Harajuku posted:


Sticking around on the platform at a station where you just got off was pretty unusual behavior.

Not wanting to arouse the man’s suspicion, the investigators from the MPD made their way down the stairs as inconspicuously as they could.

Kano, however, had a sudden inspiration, and went to speak to one of the station attendants.

“Sorry to bother you, but I think I left something on the train just now.” He tried to keep an eye on the man on the bench as he fed his story to the attendant.

The suspect sat silently on the bench, attaché case clutched securely in his arms.

He didn’t really look like he was checking for a tail.

Was he waiting here for someone else, then?



Before long, a train heading counter-clockwise around the loop arrived.

The man rose from the bench and stepped up to the boarding area.

Wait, what the heck?

If this guy got on the counter-clockwise train, wouldn’t that just take him right back to Shibuya Station?

The man boarded the train. Kano had no choice but to follow suit. Was this guy playing them?

The suspect got off again once the train reached Shibuya.

All he’d done was go to Harajuku and come right back.



Kano reported in to Kuze.

“The suspect has returned to Shibuya Station.”

“Acknowledged. Keep tailing him.”

Kano felt himself growing increasingly paranoid.

This criminal organization didn’t seem too keen on getting away.

And here was HQ, giving these guys free rein. Something was off, he was sure of that.



As he tailed the mark, Kano took out his phone.

What were Tateno’s instincts about the case right now?

If the senior detective had any advice, Kano would love to hear it.

He dialed Tateno’s number.

The line rang a few times, but nobody picked up.

Probably he was too busy seeing to Hitomi’s safety.

Kano felt bewildered.

They’d been letting the suspect lead them around for over an hour now.

During an abduction case, you generally didn’t update the Victim’s family on any developments in case they tried to interfere. Kano could only imagine what the Osawa family was going through right now.



After a short walk from Shibuya Station, the attaché case was handed off yet again. This time, the recipient was a wall, dark skinned man.



As the previous man had done, the newest suspect wandered around Dogenzaka for a while.

Repeatedly looping around and around the same locations was a weirdly roundabout way to make a series of handoffs.

“Excuse me, Detective?”

No music.



Kano turned around with a start.

“Oh, hey,” he said. “I know you.”

It was Leland Palmer, the lecturer who’d been an eyewitness to the kidnapping.



The man practically radiated concern. “How is Maria doing? Is she all right?”

“I am very, ah, worried for her.” His Japanese was more halting now. “My heart, it is with her family.”

Kano gave a quick look around.

It didn’t appear that they were being watched.

HydroSphere fucked around with this message at 20:33 on Jun 23, 2019

Regallion
Nov 11, 2012



A

Kangra
May 7, 2012



I'm guessing we should talk to him now, although maybe we'll have to roll back that decision later - A.

And thank heaven this wasn't a nighttime stakeout.

ChaceRider
Aug 15, 2009

and above all else, be kind


Y'know, I figured the scruffy guy earlier was the undercover cop, but I didn't realize this was how it'd turn out badly. What the hell, Kano. Don't just drink mystery substances, even if they come from a coworker! (... Making terrible decisions is totally in line with his previous Kamen Rider roles, though, so color me amused on that.)

Anyway, this whole stakeout is weird and bad, let's ditch it and have a chat instead. (A)

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



A - this thing's been a wild goose chase.

And it's notable the game keeps pointing out all the hand offs so far has been with foreigners - as if they really want to make sure the police notice them.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



No music.



Maybe Palmer knew more than he’d told the police earlier.

If Kano talked to him now, he might get some additional clues.

“Actually, Leland? Do you mind if I ask you a few more questions about the party where the kidnapping occurred?”

Leland squared his shoulders. “No, please. Ask anything.”

“Do you know what time Maria showed up at the event?”

“Umm...” Leland hesitated, thinking. “Probably around six o’clock? She was there when it started.”

“Was there anyone else there Who stood out?”

“Stood out? How?”

“Like someone you usually wouldn’t expect to see there.”

“Hmm...” Leland tilted his head. “No, I don’t think so. Everyone there was a student from my class, including the exchange students.”

Not much new here, Kano thought.

He decided to ask one last question.

“Did you happen to hear why Hitomi was running late in the first place?”

“Oh. No. Sorry. I’m not very helpful, am I?” Leland dipped his head in apology.

“It’s all right. Thank you for your cooperation.”

“Please, help Maria.”

“I will.”

Kano parted ways with Leland and went back to tailing his suspect.

Phone rings.



He pulled his phone from his pocket. It was Rumi again.

It was weird that she’d call twice when she knew he was in the middle of something important.

Had something happened while she was waiting at the café with Shizuo?



Kano picked up hurriedly. “What’s the matter?”

“What’s the matter? You know what the matter is.”

Rather than Rumi’s soft soprano, it was a threatening masculine voice that came over the phone.

Uh-oh.

Kano felt his whole body stiffen with dread.

Relaxation.



“Um, is this...Is this my father-in-law speaking?”

“Don’t remember being anyone’s father-in-law.” The speaker’s tone was firm and flat.

“No, uh, I know, I just, uh...” Kano found himself at a loss for words.

“So you’re dating my daughter, huh?”

“Sir, yes, sir.” Kano barely squeaked out his reply.

“Thinkin’ about getting married?”

“Yes, sir. And speaking of which, I’d love the chance to sit down and have a nice, long—”

“Then how long are you gonna keep me waiting? Hurry up and get your rear end over here.”

Oh, how very much Kano wished he could do exactly that.

“Sir, ah, I would, but-”

“Forget it.” The words came in an angry huff. “You can’t have her. Goodbye!”



“Whaaa?! Sir, please, wait!”

As Kano cried in desperation, he heard Rumi’s voice on the other end of the line.

“Dad, you can’t just use my phone like that!”

“You were taking too long in the bathroom.”

“Give it back!”

“Rumi?” Kano tried and failed to keep the heartbreak out of his voice.

“Sweetie, what’s wrong?”

“Your father just said he doesn’t want us getting married.”

“What?! Dad! What did you say to my boyfriend?!”

“Listen to you. Calling that boy little pet-names and whatnot. I think you’re a little too attached.”

“Daddy, you haven’t even met him!”

“That’s why I told you to have him come see me. How long’s he gonna make me wait?”



Kano listened as the two argued on the other end of the phone. The phone must be lying somewhere between them.

Could this get any more awkward?

“Rumi, I’m sorry!” Kano shouted apologetically into the mouthpiece. “This is all my fault! Please, you don’t have to fight like this!”

The phone clattered as Rumi scrambled to bring it to her cheek. “No, I’m the one who should be sorry.”

“Sorry for what?” It was Shizuo again, grumbling in the background. “You have nothing to apologize for.”

“I’ll deal with my father,” Rumi said hastily. “You just focus on work, sweetie. I know you’re in the middle of something really important.”



“Thanks, Rumi.” Kano was legitimately touched. “I-I’ll do my best.”

Kano hung up, and went back to the task at hand, more determined than ever.

No music.



For Rumi’s sake-not to mention the victim’s-he needed to focus on cracking this case.

The man he was tailing was walking several meters ahead.

There was no telling when Kuze might give the arrest order.



Kano braced himself to spring into action the very instant the order came down.

“Mobile command to all units.” Once more, the Director’s voice came in over the wireless.

Was it time to make the arrest at last?

Unrest.

“We’ve identified the man who first picked up the attaché case by the statue of Hachiko.”

No arrest yet, then. But still-a crucial development.



“His name is Tariq al-Karawan. He’s got priors for larceny, illegal possession of narcotics-you name it. He belongs to a foreign criminal syndicate that’s operating in Shibuya.”

Kano felt his apprehension rising.

If this syndicate was behind the kidnapping, they were anything but amateurs. And though they might be leading the police on a wild goose chase, they certainly weren’t playing around.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Two down, three to go for this hour, please vote for whether you want to see Achi, Minorikawa or Osawa or next:



ChaceRider
Aug 15, 2009

and above all else, be kind


Minorikawa. Let's confirm that we've changed things enough to prevent a man's death, that seems pretty important.

Wes Warhammer
Oct 19, 2012





Agreed, let's go back to Minorikawa

Ibblebibble
Nov 12, 2013




Minorikawa

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Setup.



No music.




The taxi’s tires squealed as the cab rounded a corner. The shift in momentum made Minorikawa topple over in the back seat.



“There we go! Ten minutes on the dot!” the driver announced.

Minorikawa righted himself and looked out the window. Shibuya Station.

“I knew you could do it, Mr. Kimizuka!”

He told the driver how to get to Heaven Publishing. It shouldn’t be more than five minutes further.

“Sir, if I may ask, just what are you in such a hurry over?”

“Son of a bitch...”



“I beg your pardon?!” Kimizuka bristled.

“Not you—the guy who’s waiting on me,” Minorikawa said. “I’m gonna give that son of a bitch a piece of my mind.”



The multi-tenant building where Heaven Publishing had its offices came into view.

The taxi stopped outside.

Minorikawa opened the door as he hurriedly reached for his wallet. Then he stopped. What if the worst had come to pass, and he needed to take Toyama to a hospital?

Wes Warhammer
Oct 19, 2012





This seems like it'd be a shorter holdup than the thing with Kano. B, give him the money.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



  • That last update was short even for this LP, so...


No music.



“No, I’m fine. You’re a lifesaver. How much do I owe you?” Minorikawa paid the fare and got out of the cab.

“I’m going to swing by the train station, and if I don’t get any passengers I’ll come by this way again,” Kimizuka said.

The taxi pulled away.

Once inside, he avoided the elevator in favor of rushing up the stairs.

Heaven Publishing rented out the third and fourth floors.

In all likelihood, Toyama would be at the editing department of Four-Star General Gossip, on the fourth floor.



When he got there, however, the door was locked.



“Mr. Toyama! Hey, Mr. Toyama!”



He shouted and banged, but there was no reply.



Something was seriously wrong. Minorikawa took a deep breath and then kicked the door in.



“Whoa!”

Toyama was standing on a stool, about to slip his head through a noose that hung from the ceiling.

“What the hell are you doing?!”

Minorikawa lunged for Toyama.

The two men crashed to the floor in a tangled heap.

A pile of clutter slid off of a nearby desk and fell on top of them.



“Mi-Mi-Minorikawa, what are you doing?” Toyama whined.

Dragging himself back to his feet proved something of a challenge.

“That’s what I’d like to know!” Minorikawa’s fury was mounting. “What the hell is this all about?”



He jabbed an accusing finger at the noose hanging from the ceiling.

“Oh, that. One of the fluorescent lights died, and I was just swapping it out.”

“Don’t you feed me that bull! What was that phone call all about? That business about how the only thing you could do was die? Tell me!”

“Hahaha. Just a joke!”

Toyama curled his lips into a faint semblance of a smile.

Minorikawa wasn’t buying it, but he didn’t have time to press the issue.

A cute little voice echoed through the editing office.

“Daddy, I’m back from the store!”



A little girl came walking in, carrying a length of rubber gas tubing.



It was Toyama’s fifth-grade daughter, Hana. Minorikawa stared.

“Uh, Toyama? You were planning on using that hose to-?”

He hesitated to end his sentence with ‘gas yourself to death.’

428 Tip – Hana posted:

Teruo Toyama’s only daughter, currently ten years old. The night Hana was born at Shibuya Central Hospital, there was an unexpected fireworks display outside the window of the maternity ward. As he looked out at the bursting rockets, Teruo decided to name his daughter Hana, after the Japanese word for fireworks, ‘hanabi.



“Well, you know, it’s almost gas heater season, after all.”

“The hell it is!”

It was a beautiful, sunny April day outside.

“Well, you know how sensitive I am to the cold.”

This was getting truly ridiculous. Minorikawa got right up in his face.

  • Ridiculous is not the term I'd use for getting your own child to unknowingly help you commit suicide.



“Listen, just explain to me what the heck is going on, okay?” He kept his voice low, but his eyes were steely.

Hana clung tightly to her father, gazing worriedly up at the two men.



Guide posted:

To progress further, you'll need to JUMP from another protagonist. Sometimes, JUMP keywords might be hidden within a tip.

A man named Jun'ichi Yanagishita shows up in Tama's story at 11:20, and he lets out a [sigh] like Toyama's. Try checking the Tip for that [sigh].

Setup.




Game.





Setup.




No music.



“No, I...it’s just...” Toyama let out a long, heavy sigh of resignation.

Unrest.



“It’s the scratch cards that were in Four-Star General Gossip. That’s where the problem is.”



“And what is the problem?”

“If you shine a light on the cards from behind, you can see where the winning symbols are.”

“Whoa!”

General Tip – Scratch cards posted:

A type of lottery card featuring areas printed with a special silver ink. These silver-inked areas can be scratched off with just a fingertip or coin to reveal potential winnings, providing a quick speed-lotto fix. In order to prevent the symbols or letters underneath the silver from showing through, the back of the card is printed in black. Somehow, you always seem to lose when you’ve got your hopes up, but manage to win when you least expect it.



“I messed things up dealing with the printing company. All of this”-he gestured vaguely- “it’s my fault. My responsibility.”

He proceeded to explain the situation in detail.

Word was quick to leak on the internet that there was a way to find the winning symbols, and suddenly thousands of card holders turned up en masse to collect.

Heaven Publishing was hit with a massive financial liability, and the employees rushed to flee a sinking ship.

Before Toyama realized it, he was the only one left at the company, and he was up against the deadline for next month’s Four-Star General Gossip.



“If I have to drop next month’s issue, I’ll be stuck in debt even deeper. And if that happens, I’m finished.”

Toyama gave a dismal groan.



“So don’t drop the issue!” Minorikawa snapped.

He pounded his fist right into the side of a cardboard box.

But Toyama just shook his head weakly. “I’ve been up for three days straight, trying to fill the pages. It’s not enough. I can’t do the impossible.”



He dropped his gaze to the floor. Countless scratch cards lay scattered about.

They’d probably been amidst the pile that had fallen off of the desk earlier.

Each card showed a neat row of five “Win” symbols.

“You can’t know if it’s impossible if you don’t see it through.”

“I’ll never make it in time. The proof needs to be done by 8 o’clock this evening.”

Well then, Minorikawa thought to himself. He let out a sigh, then held his hand out to Hana. “Hana, would you mind giving me that hose?”

Hana gave her father a quick look, then handed the rubber hose to Minorikawa.

General Tip – Proof posted:

The final stage before printing, when the copy or manuscript is checked for errors. Not sending corrected proofs to the printer before the deadline can result in the
book or magazine in question not making it onto the shelves in time for release day.

“This won’t be necessary!” He tossed the rubber hose into the trash, then jabbed his finger at Toyama.



“Show me the layout and the draft proposal for next month’s issue.”

Toyama blinked a few times in disbelief.

“Huh? You can’t possibly be serious.”

“I’m trying to help! Now show me the layout and the proposal before I change my mind!”

After a brief, incredulous pause, Toyama hurried off to grab the paperwork.



A “layout,” in publishing speak, is an outline of a magazine showing which articles will occupy which pages.

Minorikawa gave it a quick once-over, finding that twelve of the pages were still blank and untouched. He wanted to punch whatever writers had been assigned those pages.



“See what I mean?” Toyama said. “It’s hopeless.”

He sounded perversely proud of his failure. Getting enough material to fill twelve pages by eight o’clock-yeah, it was definitely a tall order, all right.

“Says who?” Minorikawa replied. “Remember who you’re talking to, here.”



“You seriously think you can do it?”

“You’re joking, right?” Minorikawa shot back. “I seriously know I can do it. There’s nothing in this world that I hate more than a bad joke.’

“Why are you doing this for me?” Toyama was getting misty-eyed.

No music.



“I’m not doing it for you, you spineless wimp. I’m doing this for poor little Hana.”

“Minorikawa, I...I’m so sorry.”

Toyama bowed his head so deeply Minorikawa thought he might put his face through the floor.

“Don’t apologize to me. Apologize to your daughter.”

“Oh, forgive me. Please forgive me, Hana.”

Toyama clutched her tightly in his arms. The girl hugged him back, on the verge of tears.

“Hey now. Enough of the waterworks. I’ve got your backs. Don’t you worry about a thing.”

Minorikawa picked up the draft proposal for the pages that needed filling.

Mystery.



The words Shibuya Scuttlebutt Special! were plastered across the cover sheet in big, bold type.

Okay, so a twelve-page special edition block on Shibuya. Fair enough.

And first on the docket-

Drink Yourself Thin with Burning Hammer!

This reeked of a scam.

The only way drinking more of something would make you lose weight would be if it were mixed with a laxative, probably.

Still, there wasn’t enough time to tweak the layout plan now.

According to the proposal write-up, a product demo was scheduled for 1 pm. that day.

The location printed on the map was blurry and hard to make out, but Minorikawa had a rough idea where it was.

It looked like he didn’t have much of a choice but to swing by in the hopes of getting more material.

He scanned further along into the proposal.

Society of Surveillance! Hidden Cameras Installed Throughout Shibuya!

The Rise and Fall of Shibuya’s Vigilante Squad!

Where Are They Now? Washed-Up Screenwriter Showcase!

Sexy Squared! Twins Share Top Prize at Local University Beauty Contest!

Shibuya NOW!

Black Market Organ-Trafficking in Shibuya?! Shadowy Foreign Crime Syndicate Exposed!


Those seven pieces were to fill the twelve empty pages.

That was the plan, at any rate. But there wasn’t enough material there to make any headway.

The “Shibuya NOW!” article didn’t even have any proposed content.

This sucked hardcore.

It didn’t look like there was much material for “The Rise and Fall of Shihuya’s Vigilante Squad,” either.

The notes suggested that a few years prior, a group of youngsters in Shibuya had banded together to help fight crime in their neighborhoods.

At this point, however, things had flipped around completely, and they’d become a gang of street punks themselves.

A turn to the dark side... It had the makings for an interesting article, to be sure, but tracking down this gang would take time.

Minorikawa was personally intrigued by the one about organ-harvesting in Shibuya.

The rumor was that organs were being smuggled out of Southeast Asia and fenced locally at a tremendous price.

There was even a plan to ascertain the authenticity of these claims. Fascinating.

If Minorikawa was going to be spending all day gathering other material, though, he didn’t have much time to spare for it.



Shibuya NOW!

The Rise and Fall of Shibuya’s Vigilante Squad!

Black Market Organ-Trafficking in Shibuya?!


Minorikawa decided that one of those three would have to go.

He thought about it long and hard as he stared at the draft proposal.

There was a good chance he’d really screw himself over if he picked the wrong one.

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AweStriker
Oct 6, 2014



Cut Shibuya NOW!

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