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HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Shinya Kano



Could it be that the real case had already been switched out?

It made a certain amount of sense.

By handing the case off to one accomplice after another, they were leading the detectives to pay more attention to the individuals than the case itself.

That could enable them to swap the case while all the focus was elsewhere.

Kano shared his hunch with Sasayama.



“Hmm. I see. I mean, it is a possibility.”

“Yeah. We might be following the wrong case.’

There was palpable tension in the air now.

“Kano,” Sasayama said, “you gotta report in to Kuze.”

“On it!”

Kano’s hand flashed to his wireless.

But Kuze was dismissive.



“No. That’s the case, I assure you.”

“No offense, sir, but how can you be sure?”

Kuze sighed. “Because that’s my job. There’s an ID tag in that case that allows us to keep tabs on it. There’s no way these crooks could have whipped up a duplicate.”

ID tag? What ID tag?

Wait. No, that’s right-Kano had forgotten all about that detail in the wake of his all-nighter.

“Oh, right.”

“Don’t you ‘oh, right’ me. Clearly you weren’t hired for your brains. Focus on what you’re
good at.”

Kuze ended the call. Still, Kano couldn’t shake his conviction that something was off.



The man with the attaché case made his way back to Shibuya Station.

“The heck?” Sasayama grumbled. “He’s right back where we started.”

Kano felt his frustration growing. It honestly looked like the syndicate was just randomly lugging the case around town.

Near Shibuya Station, a girl approached the suspect.



She was Japanese, and entirely unlike any of the other criminal accomplices.

She spoke to the man while showing him something on a notepad. He glanced at the pad but did not slow down.



Within moments he had left her behind.

It looked like she’d just passed him a message.

“Well that’s sure fishy,” Sasayama muttered.

Adbot
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Polsy
Mar 23, 2007



Seems like you might as well ask, A let's see what she knows

ChaceRider
Aug 15, 2009

and above all else, be kind


On the one hand, I'm pretty sure that's reporter guy's social anxiety friend, which means making the paths cross, which we do have to do sometimes...

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that's reporter guy's social anxiety friend, which means we're very likely to just waste a bunch of time scaring the daylights out of her. So even though it'll likely Bad End us somehow, I'm gonna vote B: just leave the poor girl alone.

AweStriker
Oct 6, 2014



Better to try and fail, so A.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Shinya Kano



“Yeah. Let’s go see what she knows.” Sasayama and Kano hurried over to the girl.



“Excuse me, miss, we’d like to ask you a few-”

“Are you happy with your life?” the young woman shouted.

She thrust her notepad in Kano’s face. “Tell me this: are you happy with your life right now?”

“Huh?”



Looking at the notepad, Kano saw the same question written there in big bold letters.

The girl’s eyes widened in surprise, as if she hadn’t expected the two men to actually stop and listen. “Right now, uh, sir,” she continued more quietly. “Are you-are you happy? If so if you could please take this survey? About, um, you know, about your life? Are you happy with it?”

The more she spoke, the more flustered she became.

Sasayama stepped in.

“Hey. I need to know, did you speak with that Western fellow just now?”



“Huh? No, that’s-that isn’t what I’m asking. Sir, are you happy with your life right now? Are you happy with your life right now?”



Kano got a sinking feeling in his stomach. This kid was looking for religious converts or something.

“You did speak with him, didn’t you?” Sasayama snapped. “What did you tell him?”

The girl’s rambling abruptly ceased.

Her already ruddy face went even redder, and tears welled up in her eyes.

No music.

Poor kid, Kano thought. She’s just out here trying to get people to listen to her survey questions.

There’s no way she’s part of this kidnapping plot.


“Look, miss,” he said. “For the time being, it would be a good idea for you to leave the area. Afraid I’m not at liberty to explain.”

The girl’s only response was to start sobbing outright.



“I...I...I...I can’t-can’t do this anymore! I wanna go home!”

Kano and Sasayama exchanged awkward glances.

“I wanna go hoooome! I wanna go hooooome!”

Passersby began shooting curious looks at the trio.

“Kano, you get back to work,” Sasayama said. “I’ll escort this girl to the train station.”

He didn’t quite manage to stifle the embarrassment in his voice.

“Right,” Kano said.

He hurried away, his eyes already searching for the suspect they’d been tailing.

Shinya Kano



It didn’t take long to find him. The man’s black garb made him stand out in the crowd at the intersection.

It occurred to Kano that all of the criminals who’d handled the attaché case had been wearing the same black clothing.

That fact made the whole situation even weirder.

Could they really be ignorant that they were being followed while they were all wearing the same eye-catching outfit?

It was more like they were going out of their way to make sure the investigators spotted them. That still didn’t provide any clues as to what they were after, though.

The longer Kano kept tailing these guys, the less it all made sense.

Was it really such a good idea to keep this up?

Someone’s life was in danger and they were just letting the kidnappers carry out their plan, whatever it was.

The very first page of the Dick Diary spelled things loud and clear on that front.



Dick Dictum #1
Never lose sight of what you’re supposed to protect.
Ever.



Right now, the single most important thing was ensuring the hostage’s safety.

This was a situation where Tateno would have stuck to his guns, for sure.

Kano thought back to that day three years ago...

Decision.



A burglar had shut himself inside a financial office and doused the place in gasoline. Kano had just been put on police box duty, and was ordered to the scene because his “box” was just down the street from the standoff.

General Tip – Police box duty posted:

Nobody is assigned to a detective post right after graduating from the police academy. Detective positions can be quite hard to come by; candidates are selected for detective training only after accumulating enough experience working at the local police box, a very small type of neighborhood station manned by only a handful of officers.



Several officers had surrounded the building, keeping close tabs on the situation.

The suspect was shouting nonsense through the entrance on the first floor.

Things were getting heated.

A crowd of alarmed onlookers had started to form as well.

“Step aside,” a voice said suddenly from amidst the throng.



A middle-aged man in a rumpled business suit had approached Kano as he hovered nervously at the edge of the scene.

“I’m sorry, sir,” Kano said. “You have to stay back, for your own safety.” He attempted to usher the man back into the crowd.

A no-nonsense look crossed the newcomer’s face. He spoke in a low voice.

“I’m Detective Tateno from the Shibuya precinct. What’s the situation?”

“Oh, sir, I’m so sorry! Yes, of course!” Kano stammered, then quickly explained, “He hasn’t taken anyone hostage, but there are still people on the upper floors of the building.”



Giving only a slight nod, Tateno marched straight up to the building.

The plastic container of gasoline the suspect had used was on the ground out front.



Tateno picked it up and dumped the remaining contents over his head. Kano was at a loss for words. He couldn't believe what he was seeing.

“I’ve covered myself in gasoline, too,” Tateno called out from the entryway.

The tension in the air ratcheted itself up several notches.

“Hey! What the hell do you think you’re doin’?” Kano heard the burglar shouting from inside.

“If you’re gonna do it, do it,” Tateno called out. “We can die together.”

And he walked into the building.



All Kano could do was watch things unfold through the plate-glass window.

Tateno was talking to the burglar, but Kano couldn’t make out the words.

The crook was clutching a lighter, his hand trembling. His expression was like that of a frightened child.

Tateno slowly approached him and took firm hold of his shaking hand.

The onlookers erupted into cheers and applause.

Tateno handed the now-docile suspect over to the detectives, then wearily sat down against the planter out front.

It was like something ripped straight out of a police drama.



“That was amazing!” Kano breathed.

“You have to deal with guys like that as quickly as you can. You let a situation like this get even a little out of hand, and you never know how things might go south on you.” Tateno spoke quietly, almost as if he were talking to himself.

As the police evacuated the rest of the building, Kano noticed that there were children and elderly people among them. If the perp had managed to set the fire, there was no way they would have escaped in time.

“But, I mean, what if he’d actually set the place on fire?”

“If someone’s willing to risk their life, you’re not going to convince them of anything unless you do the same.”

Kano still remembered the awe he’d felt at Tateno’s matter-of-fact tone.

Kano hadn’t become a police officer out of any real sense of duty.

He’d just thought it would make Rumi happy if he became a detective like her father. Besides, civil servants tended to stay afloat in times of recession-and his time playing rugby meant he was in good physical shape for the job.

He’d never really thought too much about protecting the citizenry or keeping the peace. But now here he was in the presence of a detective who’d literally risked his life in the line of duty without a second thought.



“A police officer never loses sight of what he’s supposed to protect. Ever.”

Getting back to his feet, Tateno tugged off his gasoline-drenched coat and walked away.



Kano wrote the words in a notebook he’d just purchased.

Thus the Dick Diary was born.

No music.



Thinking back to the way Tateno had put his life on the line to rescue a bunch of strangers made Kano feel all the more raw about just tailing these syndicate members. Letting the crooks just wander around wasn’t going to bring Maria Osawa to safety.

Of that, Kano was now certain.



“Never lose sight of what you’re supposed to protect. Ever.” He uttered the fundamental Dick Dictum out loud.

“Well, you’ve lost sight of it completely,” a voice said out of nowhere. “

Wha-?” Kano spun around.

Slump.



It was Shizuo.



Rumi was with him.

“S-Sir?” Kano stuttered. “Weren’t you supposed to be waiting at the café for-”

“There was some lowlife there, so we left.” Rumi’s dad looked plenty mean under ordinary circumstances. Right now he looked like a man possessed.

“Oh, I, ah, beg your pardon. I’m still on duty at the moment-”

“I’m going back home,” Shizuo huffed. “You’re not marrying my daughter.” He turned to walk away.

“No! Please, just wait!”

“I’m done waiting. Now I’m going home.”

“Please, don’t do this! Just hear me out!”

“I've heard all I need to hear from you. Rumi, we're leaving.

“Dad, please!”

“Goodbye.”



Seizing his daughter by the hand, Shizuo stormed off without another word, dragging her behind.

“Shinya!” she called out over her shoulder.

“Rumi...”

She was gone.

Rumi was gone.

Kano desperately wanted to go after her, but he hesitated in an agony of indecision.

I can't turn my back on my responsibilities! I'm a detective. My work has to be my first priority. Going after Rumi isn't what a good detective would do.

Oh, Detective Tateno, what should I do? Tateno, I...


Still the dictum echoed in his mind:

‘Never lose sight of what you're supposed to protect. Ever.’

Never lose sight of what you're supposed to protect. Never lose sight of what you're supposed to protect. I...I...I..!

Abrupt Ending.



Kano made his way through a small corner of a vast field in the Nagano countryside.

Slowly and leisurely, he tilled the soil.

He’d surprised himself with his own newfound enthusiasm for organic farming, learning more from Shizuo day after day.

His father-in-law had taught him the ways of farming from the ground up, and while things had been rocky between them at first, their friendship was now growing strong.



Pausing to wipe his brow, he smiled at the acreage around him.

He looked forward to tending the crops he’d sown until harvest came around. If he’d stayed on as a detective, he might well never have known the joy he now found in his work.

And this wasn’t the only seed Kano had planted. By the time harvest season came around, the new life growing within his dear Rumi’s belly would be ready to celebrate it with them.


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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Such a terrible fate

Regallion
Nov 11, 2012



Yeah that was a fantastic ending tbh.
Wonder what would have happened if we ignored the girl though?

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Let me know who we should play as next.

Wes Warhammer
Oct 19, 2012





Minorikawa

ChaceRider
Aug 15, 2009

and above all else, be kind


Uhhh heck, who were our options again? I'll vote for Tama if she's available because she's one of the only names I can remember at the moment. If she's not, I guess Minorikawa is probably good too.

ChaceRider fucked around with this message at 00:49 on Sep 10, 2019

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Setup.




No music.



Minorikawa stood on the sidewalk, weighing his options. Chiaki’s phone call had thrown him for a loop.

He had expected her to be anxious about doing interviews, but-wow. She was a real basket case.

Still, that didn’t change the fact that he had a schedule of his own to keep.

The surveillance camera story had to be his top priority.

Chiaki would just have to find some way to fumble through things on her end.

He headed on down Dogenzaka, scanning his surroundings as he went.






There were cameras set up on street lights all over the place.

There were so many it was hard to believe he’d never noticed them before.

One over there, another just over here-electronic eyes peering down on passersby from high above, where they were tougher to spot.

Just how were the people who came to Shibuya reacting to this situation?

Best.



“Hey, you there!”

Minorikawa called out to a man riding by on a bicycle.

“Hey you! Stop!”



The man brought his bike to sudden stop.

“Huh?! Uh, What’s the matter?” he asked.

“Hi! The name’s Minoru Minorikawa. I’m a freelance writer.”

“Uh, okay...?”

“I’m just doing interviews for a magazine, and I’d like to talk to you!”

“A magazine? Which one?”

“Four-Star General Gossip!” Minorikawa did his best to sound proud.

428 Tip – Man posted:

Taisei Yasuda. Proprietor of a knickknack shop in Udagawacho.

Roughly thirty minutes earlier, while he was wandering along the JR tracks picking up lost and abandoned items, Achi foisted off his trash onto him, and so he’s in a bit of a foul mood. Since then he’s been going along on his bicycle, still picking up things from the roadside. There’s a trunk on the back of his bike where he stores his finds.

“Oh. Well, I’m actually in a bit of a hurry, here.”

Minorikawa soldiered on. “See that?”



He pointed at one of the nearby surveillance cameras.

“What?” the man asked. “The blimp?”



A massive blimp was indeed drifting slowly overhead.

“No! The camera!”

428 Tip – Blimp posted:




The camera watched them both in uncaring silence.

“Oh, that. What about it?”

“What do you mean, ‘what about it?’ Those cameras have been installed all throughout Shibuya. They’re taking in anything and everything, privacy be damned!”

A shocked pallor came to the man’s face.

“Oh...really?” He muttered uneasily to himself. “I guess I should be careful next time I go picking stuff up...”

“Hey, what are you talking about?” Minorikawa asked.

“Oh, nothing. Just stuff.”

Way to dodge the question entirely.

“Anyhow, I think there are some good things about the cameras, too,” the man said hurriedly.

“Oh?” Minorikawa asked. “Such as?”



“Well, I mean, they must have helped catch some crooks, right?”

“Yeah, I think you’re right about that.”

“Oh. I am?” The man looked shocked to have his own statement confirmed.

“Are you hiding something from me?”

“Huh? No, nothing in particular.” The man shook his head vehemently. “Nothing at all, really.”

“Well, whatever,” Minorikawa said. “In any case, even if the cameras are helping in arresting criminals...



...there are some places where people just don’t want to be watched!”

“Whuh?”

“For instance, how would you like it if someone set up a security camera inside your home?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean a burglar might try to get into your home. If you had a security camera, you could be alerted right away.”

“Isn’t that kind of an extreme argument?”



“Nope! You’re the one making the extreme argument, here!”

“Whaaaat?” The man stared, bewildered.

“You’re saying it’s okay for folks to film people around town as much as they might like, but not to take a look inside people’s houses.”

“Uh, yeah-I guess I am,” the man mumbled.

Minorikawa snorted. “You don’t think too deeply about things, do you?” he mocked.

The man huffed in indignation.



“I don’t see the problem,” he said. “I mean, it’s a normal enough opinion. To want to bring down crime but also protect privacy?”

“Well, yeah! So...?”

“So if they’re just going to set up cameras around town I’m okay with that!”

Minorikawa grinned inwardly.



“You’re being naive,” he said. “Way too naive!”

“Naive about what?” By now the man was getting worked up.

“Once you start letting people watch you some of the time, you’ll eventually let them do it more and more; that’s how the world works. A simple change in camera angle is all it’ll take to steal the last traces of your privacy away.”



“That’s kind of funny coming from you. Doesn’t Four-Star General Gossip get all its scuttlebutt by invading the privacy of others? Since when are you people concerned with personal privacy?!”

“Meaning what, exactly?” Minorikawa asked.

“You know drat well what I mean! Have you no shame?”

“I’ve got nothing to be ashamed about!” Minorikawa exclaimed. “If some celebrity scandal breaks, I write it up in the form of a top-class, socially conscious expose. That’s the Minorikawa seal of quality.”

The man rolled his eyes. “Please. As if anyone’s ever heard of that.”



“Your everyday freelance reporter would say something about how security firms have no right to use cameras to disrupt personal privacy. But not me! Oh, no. I’m the only guy who’d write a first- class piece on the subject. And you wanna know why?”

The man’s only response was a doubtful look.



“Because privacy only exists for me to utterly demolish it!” Minorikawa finished with a prideful grin.



“That’s...that’s nothing but journalistic arrogance!” the man railed.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah! I’d rather have surveillance cameras any day, if the alternative is some weird gossip piece!”

This time, Minorikawa didn’t have a handy retort.

An awkward silence descended over the pair.

“Hmm. Right. I see.” Minorikawa muttered to himself as he busily scribbled in his notepad.

No music.



The man was visibly taken aback.

“Thank you for your cooperation,” Minorikawa said at last. “You gave me some good stuff.” He held up a hand to forestall an angry retort.



“I realize I probably got you a bit riled up. You’ll have to forgive me.”

“Whuh?” The man peered up at Minorikawa in disbelief.

“This is just my interview style. Sorry. I know it’s a little unorthodox.”

“Buddy, you’re a weirdo, you know that?” the man said.

“Yeah, I hear that a lot,” Minorikawa laughed.

“Um, so can I go now?”

“Sure. I’ll quote you as ‘Passerby A’ in my article.”

“Uh, sure. Whatever,” the man muttered. He quickly sped off on his bicycle.



Minorikawa now had some material for his surveillance camera piece.

He wanted to organize what he’d managed to put together so far.

He decided to head toward his next interview location, keeping an eye out for a café where he could stop to work on his copy.



He used the map included in the project proposal to guide him.

It was hard to read the words and make out the details, but it looked like the Nokane Building, where the Burning Hammer demo was being held, was just down Center Gai. There was no indication of which floor the event would be held on, however.

That made him a little anxious, but he’d probably be able to find someone to point him in the right direction once he got to the building.



He spotted a café up ahead.



“Coffee, please!” he shouted as he strode inside.

He slumped down in an open chair. Hopefully he’d be able to hole up in here until one o’clock, working on his article. If he couldn’t have it done by then, finishing the whole issue by the end of the day would be a tall order.

He pulled a cigarette from his overcoat as he waited for his computer to boot up.



Having a smoke was Minorikawa’s little trigger for going into writing mode. He stuck the cigarette in his mouth and lit it up.

428 Tip – Writing mode posted:

The state of being in a mood to write some text.

As Minorikawa goes about his job, he switches between writing mode, interview mode, food mode, and sleep mode. When busy, he’ll sometimes go into writing mode and food mode at the same time, sometimes even straying into sleep mode in the midst of food mode. When he’s even busier, he’ll eat and write mid-interview while nodding off; this is known as ultimate mode.



With the first heavy draw of smoke, he felt his mind focus.

The rough idea for his article came to his head nearly fully formed. All he needed to do now was get it all written down.

Finally, his laptop finished booting up.

Minoru Minorikawa.



“Took you long enough, pal!” he muttered to the computer.

His hands leapt to the keyboard like a predator pouncing on its prey. In a matter of moments he had hit his stride. His fingers clicked away.

One by one, lines of text filled up his screen.



A waitress stepped up beside him.

“Excuse me, sir.”

But Minorikawa was in writing mode; he didn’t even hear her.

“Sir? Sir, I beg your pardon...”

Again, Minorikawa was deaf to the waitress’ attempts to get his attention.



“Sir, excuse me!” The waitress smacked the table.

“Quiet!” Minorikawa snapped. He slammed the table right back. “Don’t interrupt me when I’m working. Not if you know what’s good for you.”



The waitress didn’t so much as flinch. She leaned in aggressively, getting right in Minorikawa’s face.

“Sir, I hate to bother you, but I have to ask you to please refrain from smoking!”

Minorikawa blinked. “Huh?”

“This is a non-smoking establishment, sir.”

“No smoking?” Minorikawa asked. The cigarette bobbed in his mouth as he spoke.

428 Tip – Waitress posted:

Ikumi Omiya.

Employee at Co-Labo Café.

While appearing cute and demure at first glance, she’s quite strong-willed, and frightening when angry.

She works nights at a place called “The Scolding Pub,” where customers rent private rooms in which they are scolded at length by attractive girls. One middle-aged businessman once told her: “Your face looks simply marvelous when you’re angry.”

The waitress pointed sharply to the sign on the wall.

No music.



The words “No Smoking” were spelled out clear as day.

“We ask that patrons please not smoke so that other customers can fully enjoy the aroma of their coffee.”

The waitress drew herself up in arrogant triumph.

A woman sitting at the table next made a face as she tried to fan the smoke away with her hands. Customers all around the shop were glaring at him.



“You guys don’t know the first thing about the aroma of coffee!” Minorikawa scoffed. “The scent of coffee only truly comes to life amidst the choking stench of tobacco smoke!”

The waitress’s only response was to jab her finger again.



But this time, she didn’t point at the sign-she pointed to the door. “Sir, if you’re going to smoke, please take it outside!”

Yum Cha.



Some time later, sitting inside the Cafe Lautrec, Minorikawa lit up his third cigarette.

At last, a safe refuge.

It had taken him quite some time to find a place that allowed smoking after he got kicked out of the first cafe. Now he was in a rush to make up for lost time.

428 Tip – Place that allowed smoking posted:

In recent years, many cafés and restaurants have phased out the concept of the ‘smoking section’ in favor of prohibiting smoking across the board. This makes a place like Lautrec especially important to smokers. There are large air vents in the ceiling to help keep the interior more agreeable for those who do not smoke.



His fingers flew over the keyboard at lightning speed. The more he wrote, the harder he focused. At this rate, he’d have the story wrapped up in no time.

“Today, you hear me?!”

A voice intruded suddenly on his awareness. One of the other customers was shouting.

“You’re breaking up with that fellow today!”

Minorikawa’s fingers drifted to a halt.



He looked around to see where the voice had come from.

An older man, red in the face, was shouting at the young woman who sat across from him.

“Please, Dad,” the woman pleaded. “Stop. You’re making a scene.”

Ah. A father and daughter, then.

It was rare, nowadays, to see a father behave so imperiously toward his own daughter.

Just how sheltered had he been trying to keep her?



  • No happy farming life for Kano.


No. He reminded himself that he needed to finish his article.

Besides, if this young lady looked anything like her father, he’d just as soon pass. Minorikawa went back to his typing.

It took a few minutes to reestablish his writing groove, with the two still bickering across the room, but thankfully, he soon regained his focus.

No music.



What’s that?

His hands went still as a strange noise intruded on his reverie. Whatever it was, it was close by.

What in the world is that sound?

Wes Warhammer
Oct 19, 2012





I love how the camera zooms in closer and closer on Minoru's finger during the interview.

If we're not gonna eavesdrop on this conversation, let's keep the Writing Mode train going. B

ChaceRider
Aug 15, 2009

and above all else, be kind


I'm a little curious as to what Minorikawa would have said to Kano's (once upon a time, in a Bad End) father-in-law to have driven him out of the cafe, but admittedly, not as curious as I am to see whether we really can just keep Minorikawa on-task without somehow dooming ourselves or others. B: NO DISTRACTIONS, ONLY WORK.

Your Everyday NEET
Apr 26, 2017


A. I'm curious. It could probably be. A BOMB!!!

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



No music.



Well, never mind. I need to focus on finishing this article.

Minorikawa tried to immerse himself in his writing again.

Before long, he stopped worrying about the curious sound.



Time passed. Eventually the pace of his writing slowed down a bit, and Minorikawa glanced at his watch. It was later than he’d thought. Pretty soon he was going to have to head over to get an interview from the diet drink people.

He reached into his bag for the project proposal to double check the demo location.

“Huh? The proposal, it’s gone. Crap, where the heck did it go?!” He checked all around the table, but he didn’t see it anywhere.

Maybe he’d left it at the other café, the non-smoking place?

Well, he didn’t have time to go back for it now.



His phone rang. “What now?” Minorikawa snapped as he answered it.

A tiny squeak came through the receiver. It was followed by the sound of sniffling sobs.

“I’m sorry. I just...”



“Chiaki?”

Was she done with her interviews, maybe?



“It’s no use. People won’t stop to talk no matter how hard I try.” Her voice broke up into further sobs.



“Oh, come on! This again? Really?!”

“I can’t do it. Don’t worry about paying me, just please lemme go home!”

Minorikawa was already operating on a too-tight schedule.

He didn’t have time to worry about Chiaki on top of it all.

“Look, just slow down and take a breath. Try and keep at it a little longer.”

He should’ve seen this coming when he first called her. Her shyness was practically pathological. But if he cut her loose now, all this frustration would be for nothing.

“But I can’t do it!” Chiaki whined again. “Please, just forget you ever called me.”



She hung up before Minorikawa could get another word in.

He tried calling her back, but she didn’t pick up.



“Dammit, Chiaki! Don’t you dare bail on me!” Leaving money for his coffee on the table, Minorikawa jumped up and bolted from the café.



The plaza outside Shibuya Station was as crowded as ever.

Minorikawa looked around, but there was no sign of Chiaki.

“She bailed...”

Minorikawa dropped to his knees in despair.



His last hope had up and left. There was no one else he could even ask.

“Dammit...all right, then. Fine! I’ll do it myself!” He dragged himself back to his feet.



“All right, listen up!” He shouted at the passing crowd.

“I’m doing street interviews here, starting now! You guys! Shut up and help me! I mean, don’t shut up. But help me!”

Slump.



He wound up blowing way too much time just to get two pages’ worth of content, leaving himself unable to finish the other articles.

In the end, the issue of Four-Star General Gossip never made it to the newsstands, and Heaven Publishing went down for the count.




  • Please vote for our next character, everyone except Minorikawa is available.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



ChaceRider posted:

I'm a little curious as to what Minorikawa would have said to Kano's (once upon a time, in a Bad End) father-in-law to have driven him out of the cafe,

Minorikawa thinks Rumi is an actress, but can't remember her name, and goes on about it enough (even involving the waitress) that Shizuo decides to leave.

AweStriker
Oct 6, 2014



Is it Tama Time yet?

ChaceRider
Aug 15, 2009

and above all else, be kind


Wow that ending just kinda glosses over one of its visuals, huh? Anyway yeah, if everyone else is an option then let's check in with Tama! She's way less depressing! For now. Probably.

HydroSphere posted:

Minorikawa thinks Rumi is an actress, but can't remember her name, and goes on about it enough (even involving the waitress) that Shizuo decides to leave.

Ah, curiosity sated, thank you! Minorikawa: master of social situations.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014






No music.

In one hour, the Burning Hammer sales demo will begin.

Fatigue.



Chiri is laying out the assortment of snacks that we’ll have on hand.



“Hey, Tama, you hungry?”

“Why yes. Yes I am.”

I mean that should be pretty obvious at this point.



All I’ve had since putting on this stupid mascot costume is some Burning Hammer and a bunch of iced tea.

“Hey now,” Chiri shoots back. “What’s with the attitude?”

“Chiri, you do remember that you ate my lunch, right?”

“The sticker said it was best before noon.”



“You-you just made that up!”

“Heh. Yeah.” Chiri chortles merrily and chugs some more iced tea.



“Okay, folks!” Mr. Yanagishita calls out as he slips into the room. “Lunch break’s over! Back to work!”

I don’t feel like I’ve had much of a break. If anything, I’m even more mentally exhausted than I was before.

“There’s a box full of Anagotchi toys in the storeroom on the third floor. Mind bringing those down?”

“Anagotchi?” I ask. “What’s that?”

The name makes it sound like some sort of product knockoff.

Mr. Yanagishita’s face widens in surprise. “You’ve never heard of them?”



“You know, Anagotchi! It’s a digital pet game where you raise an eel that lives in Tokyo Bay.

“Never heard of it,” I say.

428 Tip – Anagotchi posted:

A portable electronic game in which you raise a conger eel (anago), feeding it daily and clearing away feces. Depending how you raise your eel, it can wind up developing into various forms, from “Normal Eel” to “Ultimate Eel Sushi.” You can also use the infrared communication feature to bring over friends for your eel from another nearby “Anagotchi” device. There is also a sister product, “Troutwatch;” by connecting the two, you can view a special event where the eel and trout characters go to a pub together.

“Huh. Well, I guess maybe a lot of people in Japan haven’t heard of it yet. But it’s all the rage right now with youngsters over in NYC!”

NYC? Oh, he must mean New York City. It’s popular in New York? Really?

“Anyway, I did some quick checking and that’s what I learned, so last month I bought a whole bunch of ‘em.”

“And once again you were swindled. Yep.”

Ouch. Chiri, dropping the hard truth.



Mr. Yanagishita lets out a pathetic whimper. “Noooooo...”



Just like that, his confidence evaporates. He starts muttering to himself. “I thought it sounded a little fishy, really. I mean, think about it: Why would kids in New York be interested in raising eels from Tokyo Bay?” he muses.



“And what appeal would an eel character even have, anyway? None, that’s what!”



“I should have known that. “



“I did know it.”

Then why’d you buy them? This farce is getting tiresome.



“Anyway,” Yanagishita continues, “it was gonna cost way too much to keep them in storage, so I was just gonna let the recycling guy take them.” He hangs his head in shame. In a matter of moments he’s borderline catatonic.

Chiri, on the other hand, flashes a big, bright grin.

General Tip – Borderline catatonic posted:

The type of eel that gives “Anagotchi” its name anago, can be loosely translated as “the creature that lives in a hole.”

Mr. Yanagishita is probably wishing he could crawl into a hole right about now.

“Still, y’know-eel’s pretty delicious.”



“Oh, Chiri!” Yanagishita blurts. “Thank you!” He clasps her hands in gratitude.

“Uh, I wasn’t exactly complimenting you there, boss.”

“It’s the same thing. There’s a little bit of me in each of my products. Anagotchi and I are one and the same! Which is to say, eels and I are one and the same. Go on, then. Say something nice about eels.”

428 Tip – Anagotchi posted:


Chiri chimes right in without missing a beat. “Eels are awesome! When it comes to eel sushi, a hundred pieces barely whets my appetite.”

You know, these two make quite a pair.

“That really means a lot to me, Chiri! Thank you! Thank you!”

I don’t understand what any of this is about, but if it helps mend Mr. Yanagishita’s wounded spirits, I guess I can’t complain.

I leave them to their devices and head for the storeroom.

No music.



The storeroom door opens with a rough, grating sound. “Okay, now where’s the light switch?”



I fumble around in the dark, feeling for the switch box.

My costume paws mute the sensations in my hands enough that even finding that is difficult.



I bat at the wall willy-nilly until eventually the lights come on. Apparently I found the switch, even if I didn’t feel it.



“Whoa. What the heck is this?” The storeroom is practically overflowing with shoddy goods.



A painting that looks like a child’s scribblings.

An oddly shaped hat bearing the words “Grow Two Inches, Guaranteed!”

A cheap-looking pendant with a tag that says it’s set With a ‘miracle stone’.

428 Tip – Miracle stone posted:

These stones are nothing more than simple glass beads that were purchased at 5000 yen apiece. The seller claimed, “Normally these sell for 10,000 a pop, but if you buy 100 of them, I’ll give you half off ,” at which the buyer declared, “It really is a miracle!” before joyfully agreeing to the purchase.

The fact that someone like Yanagishita actually exists to buy these things up is also a kind of miracle.

It’s like this is the knockoff bone yard where cheap products go to die. They break away from their pathetic herd, knowing their time has come, and end up in this graveyard of a storeroom.

“Let’s see. Anagotchi...Anagotchi...”



I quickly spy the cardboard box I’m looking for.

Then I catch sight of a dark silhouette out of the corner of my eye.

“Eek!” I yelp.



Dread.



It's one of them.

The size, the speed, the dark shape-it couldn’t be anything else.

It peers back at me from the shadow of the Anagotchi box, the faint light catching the luster of its carapace.

It looks ready to leap out at me at any moment.

General Tip – Them posted:

Black. Flat. Quick. Long antennae. Often spotted in kitchens. Sometimes, somehow, their legs wind up in restaurant food. Eewww.

Lufia
Nov 28, 2011


Challenge the bug to single combat, obviously.

Zenostein
Aug 15, 2008

Alhamdulillah-chan

If I've learned anything from anime, it's that the only thing that can kill one of those mysterious unnamed insects is a housecat.

She's in a catsuit, so I guess that's close enough.

Fight it.

ChaceRider
Aug 15, 2009

and above all else, be kind


It's time to d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-duel!

Ibblebibble
Nov 12, 2013




HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Dread.



I challenge it to single combat.

Game.



It flitters aloft.

It’s gunning for me, all right.

Bracing myself, I step forward to confront it, which paradoxically helps calm my nerves.

I get the sneaking suspicion that this isn’t the first time I’ve done battle with one of these things.

It’s like I’ve trained myself to protect someone who’s even more scared of them than I am.



As I mull that over, the thing hovering in the air presses its attack against me!



Now’s my chance! I snatch up a nearby piece of cardboard and swat at the creature, hard.



It sails out the window in a graceful arc, then flitters away into the world beyond.

Phew. At least we parted on mutually acceptable terms - I didn’t have to squash it or blast it with pesticide.

Hefting the box labeled ‘Anagotchi,’ I scurry away from the graveyard of schlock merchandise.

Fatigue.



Phew. I made it!

When I get back to the break room, Mr. Yanagishita is still clutching Chiri’s hands.

“An eel’s super-tasty when you salt-broil it, too.”

“Thank you!”

“But tempura-style is probably the best.”

“Thank you!”

Well, Mr. Yanagishita’s spirits have certainly turned around.



“Okay, got it!” I hold out the big cardboard box.



“Excellent! Thank you! You girls are the greatest!” Yanagishita shouts. His voice resounds with gratitude.



“Hey, that’s it! I just got an amazing idea! Why don’t the three of us start our own company?”



“I’ll pass!” Chiri and I respond in unison.



“Man, you two shot that one down quick. Ah, well. For today, let’s just focus on selling Burning Hammer!”



“By the way,” I ask. “Where is the Burning Hammer?” There wasn’t any in the storeroom, and I don’t see any here, either.

“Oh, that’s right. It’s out back on the loading dock. We should probably go bring it in. Oh, and bring the Anagotchis with you, too. The recycling guy’s gonna be showing up soon. Come on, let’s go!”

Chiri and I follow Mr. Yanagishita out to the loading dock.

No music.



But the loading clock, it turns out, is empty. There’s no sign of the Burning Hammer anywhere.

“It’s...gone,” Mr. Yanagishita murmurs.

Then his voice rises to a shout. “It’s gone! All gone! The Burning Hammer, it’s all gone!”

Flying into a panic, he searches frantically from one end of the dock to the other-leaping into the air, even peering down into the cracks.

But no matter where he looks, there’s nothing for him to find.

“It was right here a little while ago! Like, right here. Right here.”

I hear the sound of an engine revving outside.



Mr. Yanagishita cries out in alarm.

We can see a truck starting to pull away. Its bed is piled high with cardboard boxes and other assorted trash.



“Hey, boss? Is that-yes! There it is!"

Game.



Mr. Yanagishita begins racing after the truck. “My Burning Hammer!” His voice cracks as he cries out. “Give that back! Give it baaaack!” But he’s no match for a speeding truck, and the boxes of Burning Hammer vanish before his eyes.




Yanagishita’s wailing echoes from the surrounding buildings.



It’s like something out of a movie.



“What the hell? What’s up with that truck? Tama! Who the heck was that?”

“Hey, don’t look at me,” I reply.

“Huh. With all those piles of stuff it looked just like the recycling guy.”

As soon as he says it, revelation dawns on his face.



“The recycling guy?” he mutters. I can see the color draining from his face.

The words ‘recycling guy’ give me an idea. “If it was him, maybe he thought he was picking up the Anagotchis by mist-”



“We have to find it! We have to find that truck!”

The man is absolutely beside himself. “Chiri! Tama! You two split up and try to track it down!”

“Wait, why do we have to look for it?” Again, Chiri and I speak in chorus.

“If there’s no sales demo there’s no money to pay you! And then all the work you’ve done will be for nothing!”

Right. When he puts it that way, I guess there isn’t much of a choice. Somehow or another, we’ll have to find that truck.

“It can’t have gotten far!” he continues. “Now go hunt for it like your life depended on it!”



Chiri and I look at each other and sigh.

“How do you want to do this?” she asks. “Want to search together? Or should we split up?”

AweStriker
Oct 6, 2014



Let’s Split Up, Gang!

Ibblebibble
Nov 12, 2013




Never split the party.

asymmetrical
Jan 29, 2009

the absence or violation of symmetry


Chiri's a good friend, let's stick together.

ChaceRider
Aug 15, 2009

and above all else, be kind


Splitting up sounds like a bad idea when we're an amnesiac stuck in a mascot suit.
Buddy system! We've picked our friend and we're sticking with them!

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Game.



“Let's go together.”

And so Chiri and I head out in search of the truck.

No music.



As we make our way down Center Gai, peering in all directions, I accidentally bump right into a man who’s out with his daughter.

“Oh! Pardon me!” I hop back to my feet and go to bow to the man in apology.



“Ow!”



He bows at the same time, and we manage to bonk our heads together.

“S-Sorry!”



As her dad drops to his knees, clutching his head, the girl begins to wander off.



“Hana! Wait!” The man lurches to his feet and rushes after the girl.

She seems like an odd kid-only ten or so, but strangely cold and distant for her age.



As we make our way back down the road, Chiri’s eyes light upon a café. “Man, I am super hungry,” she mutters.

“Not now! We have to find that truck!”

“Yeah, I knowwwww.”

I stride purposefully along, and though Chiri flashes the eatery a long, lingering look, she falls into step behind me.

Chiri and I wander around town for another ten minutes or so.



We don't see any sign of the truck though.

“Ugh,” I sigh. “It really is good and gone, huh?”

I turn to look back at Chiri.



“Huh? Wait, what?”



Chiri’s gone; she must’ve slipped away from me at some point.

I take a quick look around, but there’s no sign of her.

When did she split off? She was just there two or three minutes ago!



It’s 12:35. The sales demo starts in twenty-five minutes.

What do I do?

I don’t have time to go looking for Chiri. Guess I’ll have to keep searching for the truck by myself, then.

But I have no clues to go on, so I don’t know how I’m ever going to find it.

“Arrrgh! What should I do?”

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Please vote for our next character. At the moment, Achi, Kano and Osawa are available.

AweStriker
Oct 6, 2014



Kano time.

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014






  • Before we continue with Kano's story, let's stop him from indirectly causing Toyama to commit suicide yet again.

Shinya Kano



“She can’t be involved with this, can she?”

Sasayama flashed him a skeptical look. “Don’t let your preconceptions get the better of you. Could get you killed.”

“I know that, but still. She doesn’t come across as involved to me.” Kano knew better than to judge people based on appearance, but he was still convinced the girl wasn’t part of this gang. She just struck him as far too, well...inept, really.

General Tip – Preconceptions posted:

Fixed notions one has about something before the facts are known. Can be a hindrance to thinking freely. If you think about it too hard, you might fall Victim to the preconception that preconceptions themselves are always bad.

“All right. I’ll go look into the girl,” Sasayama said. “You keep following the attaché case.” Kano nodded and hurried after the man.

  • Moving forward.



“Shoot, it’s bleeding pretty bad,” he heard someone say behind him.



He turned and saw two young men carrying another along. There was a towel wrapped around the third's head.

“Hey, what happened?” Kano asked.



“Shut your mouth!”

Kano blanched.

Relaxation.



“Can the attitude. He’s trying to help,” another voice cut in.

It was Sasayama.

Had he finished dealing with the girl by the station, then?

“What happened to your friend?”

“Outta my way, man. I ain’t afraid to kick your rear end.”

“Look, out the crap and lemme take a quick look.’ Sasayama unwrapped the towel from around the young man’s head.



“Ooh, that’s nasty.”

The young guy was a little more than a kid. His head was soaked red with blood. He appeared to be unconscious.

HydroSphere fucked around with this message at 21:16 on Dec 13, 2019

Kangra
May 7, 2012



Go to the hospital, we can't trust the police.

Kangra fucked around with this message at 20:05 on Dec 13, 2019

AweStriker
Oct 6, 2014



Call Juvenile Affairs.

differentiating
Mar 30, 2019



Take him to the hospital, definitely.

ChaceRider
Aug 15, 2009

and above all else, be kind


Aw, gently caress. Not like we've got time to spare after being given the runaround all day, so this's probably a bad idea, but... We can't just ignore a kid with a head wound! To the hospital!

HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Relaxation.



They were in the middle of a job, but they couldn’t just leave him like this.

They should probably take him to a hospital. Kano offered to help carry the bloodied young man; but Sasayama stepped in front of him. He quickly flashed the two youths his badge.

“Oh, crap. You a cop?”



Sasayama nodded. “Who you kids with? The BAMFs? S.O.S?”

“S.O.S.,” admitted one of the young men after some hesitation.

“Who attacked you?”

“Yo, it ain’t like that.”

428 Tip – BAMF's posted:

Shibuya’s number two gang. Its leader, Sohei Ikari, has gathered up some big, mean dudes in an attempt to make Shibuya his turf. The gang’s leadership is inferior to that of S.O.S., but on an individual level, its members tend to be stronger in a fight. Word is that the rise of the BAMFs is one of the reasons S.OS. has been growing more combative recently.

“What was it like, then? Infighting?”

The young man was silent; Sasayama must have been right on the mark.

In the course of his police duties, Kano picked up a fair amount of street gossip from the young people in Shibuya. Lately, the scuttlebutt about the legendary S.O.S. gang was that they were dealing with some internal strife.

“Look, don’t worry about it. I get it. There’s a hospital just down that way. Hurry up and get him there.”

The young man batted off Sasayama’s offered hand, then quickly hauled his friend away.



“Sounds like S.O.S. is on the verge of breaking up with all this infighting, huh?” Kano asked.

He kept his eyes on the young men as they headed off.

“Yeah, seems like it’s been pretty rough. Y’know, what with the original leader leaving and all.”

The detectives in Juvenile Affairs were well-acquainted with S.O.S.’s original leader.

428 Tip – BAMF's posted:

That would be Achi Endo. Initially, S.OS. was nothing more than a small group of like-minded young people who hung out together, but as its membership grew, the general public began referring to the group as a “gang.” Word has it that back when Achi was in charge, gang members never started any conflicts themselves, but simply responded in kind when others brought fights their way.

The stories were like something out some after-school special. There were tales of them taking down gangs who sold drugs to kids, or breaking into yakuza front offices to save their friends.

The detectives with Juvenile Affairs took these stories with a grain of salt, but if there really were young people like that out there, Kano hoped to meet them someday.

No music.



The detectives had to hurry to catch up with the man they were tailing. He was still strolling along, seemingly in no particular hurry.

They kept him in sight as he crossed another pedestrian overpass and circled back around.



“Still following the same M.O., huh?” Sasayama grumbled.

“Guess so,” Kano said. “How’d things go with the girl?” He was careful not to take his eyes off the mark as they talked.

“You were right. She’s not part of this. Just one of those street evangelists or something.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, she kept asking me, ‘But are you really happy with your life?’ Wigged me out; I bailed outta there quick.”



“So, Sasayama? I’m thinking the attaché case is going to get handed off again any moment now.

“Huh?”

Sasayama peered at the mark, who was scanning the plaza he’d just entered, apparently looking for someone.

Shinya Kano

“I take one side, you take the other?” Kano suggested.

Sasayama’s eyes went wide. “Say what, now?”

“That way we apprehend both perps involved with the handoff .”

Sasayama didn’t reply.

“Look. HQ isn’t thinking about the hostage’s safety,” Kano said. “But that needs to take priority, here.”

Sasayama’s face took on a rare solemnity. “Disobeying a direct order is not something to do lightly.”

General Tip – Disobeying a direct order posted:

A detective’s behavior is governed by the Local Public Service Act.

Article 32 states that a detective is to faithfully follow the orders of his superior in the course of his duties. Violating this is punishable by a warning, reduction in pay, suspension from duty, or dismissal. In the event of a warning, not only is the individual expected to submit a formal letter of apology, but pay raises may be delayed, or performance bonuses cut.

Then, after a moment, he added, “But I’m on board. I’m sick of all this wandering around, anyway.”

“That’s the Sasayama I know,” Kano replied with a chuckle.

Sasayama gave him a silent thumbs-up.



The two detectives took up position on opposite sides of the plaza.

Kano called up Sasayama on his cell phone.

“You ready?” he asked.

“Just give the word.”

There were only two non-Japanese people in the nearby crowd. Both were eyeing their surroundings anxiously.

Kano was certain the handoff was about to take place.

And then-“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Mr. Toyama!”

Kano’s ears perked up at the sound of an aggressive greeting, the voice dripping with feigned cheer.



He whirled around to see two rough-looking young men confronting a father and his daughter.

The older man looked pained. “Please, just hold on,” he said placatingly. “I thought we agreed on four o’clock?”

The young man snarled. “Don’t you try and play dumb with us, buddy!”



“It’s nothing like that, I swear. My girl was just hungry, so I just stepped out to-”

“Yeah? How come you didn’t just order delivery, huh?”

“Ah. Yes, right. I suppose that would work, too. Ahaha.”

“Don’t you ‘ahaha’ me, man!”

Kano watched the argument uneasily. The strangers’ altercation put him in a bit of a spot.

The crook he was tailing probably wouldn’t risk handing off the case with an uproar like this going on.

“What’s going on over there?” Sasayama asked.



“I’m not sure,” Kano replied. “Looks like some kind of argument.”

“The suspects are gonna get wary on us. It’s gonna screw up the whole handoff .”

“Yeah, I know.”

“So do something about it and get over here,” Sasayama said.

“What?”

“Find some way to shut them up, and then get over here.”

“Oh. Sure, all right.”

Kano headed toward the argument. He was only halfway there when Sasayama called again. He sounded panicked.

“Hey! Kano!”

“He made a run for it!”

Pursuit.



“Huh? Oh, crap!”

The man they’d been tailing had vanished in the brief time Kano had taken his eyes off of him.



“Wait up!” Kano shouted.

Sasayama was racing after the suspect and Kano rushed to join him.

The man was surprisingly quick, however, and neither detective managed to catch up. In fact they soon lost sight of him amidst the teeming crowds.

Frantically, they dashed through the streets as fast and as hard as they could.

No music.



“We lost him,” Sasayama admitted at last. “Dammit!” He stamped his foot on the asphalt in disgust.

“Director Kuze?” Kano gasped over the wireless. “I’m sorry, but we...we lost the man with the attaché case.”

There was a heavy sigh on the other end of the line.

Kano braced himself. He wasn’t going to be able to weasel out of this one with just an “I’ll do better next time.”

“Sasayama, Kano, get your asses back to the precinct. Kuze out.” With that, Kuze switched off the line.

Back to the precinct...

Kano knew full well what that meant: they were off the case.

There was a gnawing in his gut.

Abrupt Ending.

If those two punks hadn’t shown up-no, if that father and his daughter hadn’t turned up, he might have been able to apprehend the suspect.



“Aw, don’t let it get you down,” Sasayama said. “I mean, paper-pushing can be kinda fun.”

The look on his face, however, suggested he didn’t think it was fun at all. Not one bit.

With the air of two men heading to an execution, Kano and Sasayama trudged back toward the Shibuya precinct.


HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Achi, Minorikawa and Osawa are currently available.

AweStriker
Oct 6, 2014



let’s get Osawa out of the way

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HydroSphere
Feb 11, 2014



Setup.




No music.

The rain won’t let up.
No matter how much time passes,
it just won’t stop.
Ever since
that day,
the sound of raindrops has
been burned into my mind.
Such an awful, heart—rending sound,
driving me to strip my life down to shadows.
And yet, no matter what else I abandon,
nothing will make the sound of the rain stop.


Lost in Thought.



Osawa stared at a postcard that was nestled into the final page of the photo album.

He’d purchased it two years earlier while on a trip with Maria to the Middle East.

He’d mentioned that he was being sent there on business, and Maria had just blurted out, “I want to go with you.”

She’d recently developed an interest in the Middle East conflict, and apparently she had been yearning to see the area firsthand.

General Tip – Middle East posted:

Originally used to indicated Iran, Afghanistan, and the region surrounding them, in modern times, the term refers to part of Southwestern Asia (excluding India and Afghanistan) and the section of Northeastern Africa along the Mediterranean coast. However, in Japan, as well as the U.S., the term “Middle East” is often understood to refer specifically to those parts of the region with a strong Islamic influence.

General Tip – Middle East conflict posted:

The ongoing friction in the Palestine region between the Jewish people who founded the nation of Israel and the Arabs who had been living there previously. The religious and historical context of this cultural clash is well beyond the scope of what can be elucidated here.

His daughter’s newfound curiosity had taken him aback; she had always tended to be quiet and self-contained.

The clumsy conversations aboard the airplane, the meals eaten together in awkward silence-it all felt like such a distant memory to Osawa, now.



“Ma’am, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.”

He heard Kaiiwara’s voice outside the door.

No music.

“Why ever not? I’m just going out for a bit!”

The detective was arguing with Ai. Great.

“And just who was it who told me I should try to go about my life as normal, hmm?” Osawa’s wife sneered.

“Ma’am, please, we-”

“How would you feel about being told to just sit around and wait?!” Ai’s angry shriek jerked Osawa to his feet. He hurried from the study to try to calm her down.

“Ma’am! Ma’am, please wait!”



But by the time Osawa had made his way downstairs, his wife had already stormed outside, despite Kajiwara’s attempts to stop her.

Osawa doubted anything he could have said would have stopped Ai from leaving.

Trying to physically keep her from going out would only have made for an even worse uproar.

He was glad that at least it hadn’t come to that. He was turning to head back to the study when Kajiwara caught his eye. Resigned, he headed down the stairs and bowed to the detective.



“Any idea where she’s going?” Kajiwara asked. “I mean, at a time like this?”

Osawa shook his head. “I wouldn’t know.”

“I didn’t think so. You know, your wife really is something else.”

Osawa arched an eyebrow. “That’s one way to describe her. A rather rude way, as a matter of fact.”

“Oh! No offense intended. It’s just that, ever since this case started, you’ve both been holed up in your own respective rooms.”

The more Kajiwara spoke, the more irritated Osawa became.

“What’s your point?” he demanded.



“I just mean, you haven’t been having any, ah, marital discourse....”

General Tip – Marital discourse posted:

According to one survey, in roughly 6% of households, discourse between spouses is largely nonexistent. Various reasons for this were offered by the couples in question; many claimed that they were “too tired to have the energy to talk” or stated “we wind up fighting when we talk” or “we have nothing to talk about.”



“Mind your own business,” Osawa snapped.



Kajiwara dipped his head deferentially.

“The two of us not talking isn’t a new thing, anyhow,” Osawa added. “I have a policy of not having pointless conversations.”

“Huh...”

It didn’t look as though Kajiwara quite understood.

428 Tip – Policy of not having pointless posted:

It is quite common for Kenji Osawa to make it through an entire day without having a single conversation. On many days he opens his mouth only to eat or brush his teeth. His current record is a streak of fourteen consecutive days during which he didn’t talk to anyone.



“Microorganisms such as viruses don’t have conversations. And yet still they continually propagate in order to survive.”

Thinking about viruses, Osawa was back in familiar territory; he felt a surge of confidence. “Once you have a clear purpose, conversation is unnecessary.”



“And do you have a clear purpose for the relationship with your wife, Mr. Osawa?”

“Of course I do. To be a family.”

‘Hmm...” Arms crossed, Kajiwara struck a thoughtful pose.



“At least I’ve learned one useful thing today, Mr. Osawa. Namely, that you don’t like to have pointless conversations. It’s a good thing to know.” Kajiwara uncrossed his arms for a moment, then crossed them right back again, furrowing his brow.



“But see, that’s funny. You seem to have a tendency to have pointless conversations with me, and—”

“Because you keep coming to talk to me!” Osawa saw red. “You don’t leave me much of a choice!”



Tanaka poked his head out of the living room. “Is something the matter?” he asked.

“Uh-no.” Osawa struggled to regain his calm. “Perfect timing, actually. There’s something I need to talk to you about.”

He turned back to Kajiwara. “My apologies, Detective, but would you mind giving us some privacy?”



Kajiwara didn’t move.

“Detective?” Osawa gave the policeman a hard look, and saw him crack a smile.

“Yes? What is it?” Kajiwara said at last.

“Don’t you play dumb with me. Give us some privacy.”



“Is this a discussion I shouldn’t overhear?”

“Actually, yes. It’s work-related. There are business matters I’d prefer to keep confidential.”

“Ah, I see.”

Reluctantly getting to his feet, Kajiwara slipped away into the living room.



“Tanaka,” Osawa began, “about those emails-” He stopped abruptly.



Kajiwara had reappeared in the living room door, staring right at them.

“What are you doing?” Osawa demanded.

“Oh, should I not be watching?”

Osawa felt like he was about to burst a blood vessel.

“I mean, you never told me that I couldn’t watch.”

“Because it should be obvious!”

The detective made a scolded puppy face, then closed the living room door.

Osawa let out a heavy sigh. He’d never been an extrovert, but he didn’t recall human interaction being quite this draining.



“Anyway, sir,” Tanaka prompted. “You were saying?”

Kenji Osawa.

“Yes. About those emails. Something doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand how Mr. Makino was able to get the antiviral agent to anyone on the outside.”

Sharing an Okoshi Pharmaceuticals drug with external sources while it was still under development required the approval of an executive committee that included Osawa himself.

There should have been no way the antiviral could be sent out without his knowledge. Tanaka hesitated a few moments before responding.



“Are you aware of the strife between the company president and the chairman?”

Osawa shook his head. He was a researcher through and through; factional rivalries held no interest for him whatsoever.



“Makino effectively leads the chairman’s team, and the antiviral agent is their pet project. Despite being the executive officer in charge of the project, however, Makino still needs the president’s approval to-”

“You know what? Forget about that right now. What do we do about security?”

In theory, it was physically impossible to get the antiviral out of the lab without detection. Entry to the biohazard laboratory where it was kept required fingerprint authentication from both Osawa and Tanaka. Without the two of them there, nobody could even get into the storage facility.

General Tip – Fingerprint authentication posted:


428 Tip – Storage facility posted:

Because a dangerous virus is also stored there, the lab where the antiviral is kept is protected by an I.D. checkpoint, as well as a sophisticated three-tiered lock system that requires fingerprint authentication. Multiple security guards are also posted outside the laboratory entrance 24 hours a day, making it all but impossible for an unauthorized person to get into the secured storage area.

Tanaka followed his drift. “Ah, yes. I see what you mean.”

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