Curious if that 'Secret Code' is going to come up somehow.
Let's go with Kano.
|# ? Jan 28, 2020 20:03|
|# ? Jul 24, 2021 05:59|
As he looked around, wild-eyed, he spotted Osawa watching him from the alleyway.
“Help!” the man called out. “Help me! Please...If these guys catch me, I-Oh!” The father’s eyes went wide when he got a look at Osawa’s face. “You...you’re...”
“Huh?” Osawa thought he recognized this fugitive, too, though he couldn’t remember from where.
“There are some real nasty guys after us,” the man said. “I know I have no right to ask you this, but please, at least help me keep my daughter safe!”
“Probably you should go to the police if-”
“No! They won’t be able to help me with this! Please, I’m begging you! Help me!”
“I...I’m sorry, but-”
“Please! If not me, then at least help my daughter the man pleaded.
Osawa looked down at the girl.
Osawa couldn’t just stand idly by. He decided to help them evade their pursuers.
“All right. Follow me.”
“Oh, thank you! Thank you so much!”
He led the two back to his house and into the storage shed out back. “You can lay low in here for a while, if you like,” he said.
The shed was fairly large; there was plenty of space for the man and his daughter.
“I’m so sorry,” the man said. “I’m not sure how I can possibly thank you.”
“Don’t worry.” Osawa closed the shed door and headed back out to take a look around.
Two thuggish-looking men came running up to him.
No doubt, these were the people the father and daughter were running from.
“You there,’ said the one in sunglasses. “You see a guy and his daughter around here? They shoulda come by this way.” There was a hint of menace in his voice.
“A man and his daughter? Ah, yes, I think I saw them run through here.”
“Which way’d they go?”
“Sweet. We almost got ‘em!” The pair sped away.
Osawa waited until they were fully out of sight, then called out to the shed. “All right, they’re gone.”
The door stayed closed, however.
“I’m really sorry,” the man called back from inside. “Those guys might come back this way. Is it okay if we hide out here a little while longer?”
He sounded desperate-pitiful, really.
“Sure. Go ahead,” Osawa said.
With that, he headed back inside. Evidently, he just wasn’t going to get any time alone today no matter where he went.
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 sure enough-
The second man approached the one holding the attaché case. After exchanging a scant handful of words, he took the case and walked off.
“I’ll handle the guy with the case.”
Sasayama broke into a run, chasing after the man who’d taken the ransom.
Kano hung up his phone and rushed to close the distance with the other man.
“You, there! Stop where you are!”
The suspect turned, and Kano recognized his face. He was indeed a member of the foreign crime syndicate that operated in Shibuya.
“Is the hostage safe?” Kano demanded.
The man’s only response was an unsettling grin.
|# ? Jan 29, 2020 22:19|
Interesting. It seems like one of the girls was sick, and that Osawa gave them his experimental medicine to save her life. She obviously survived, but apparently that's not true for anyone else. Maybe the kidnappers are after the twins to figure out what about them made the antiviral safe? And the gunman with the cane is trying to kill Hitomi to stop their experiments?
Also be better secure the suspect before pulling out our phone. That's just common sense.
|# ? Jan 29, 2020 22:38|
...took out a pair of handcuffs and reached for the suspect’s wrist.
General Tip – Handcuffs posted:
The man pulled a knife from his breast pocket and swung it right at Kano’s face. Kano managed to jerk away in time, but his momentum carried him too far backward, and he sprawled onto the pavement.
The suspect was already making a run for it.
Suddenly, a large car of foreign make skidded to a halt, blocking off the man’s escape route. A tall Caucasian man jumped out. He wore sunglasses and a crisp suit.
Now cornered, the fleeing suspect brandished his knife.
“Be caref-” But Kano didn’t even have time to finish shouting his warning.
There was a metallic pwing, and the knife went flying through the air.
The man in the sunglasses had snapped his right foot up, sending the weapon flying. As the attacker’s jaw dropped in astonishment, the newcomer proceeded to elbow him right in the face.
The blow connected and the suspect went down hard.
“Ahh...Oww...” The fallen man turned his head to look at Kano. His mouth moved as if he was attempting to say something.
He never got it out. The man in the sunglasses kicked him in the face. With a groan, the perp slumped down, unconscious.
“Hey!” Kano snapped. “What the hell are you doing?” He stormed over to the man with the sunglasses.
The man nonchalantly dusted off his suit. “You were ordered to watch and see where these guys went, right?” He spoke in fluent Japanese. “What happened to that Japanese sense of honor I’ve heard so much about?”
“Who...Who are you?”
“I’m from the U.S. Embassy’s Regional Security Office,” the man replied. He presented Kano with his I.D.
General Tip – Fluent Japanese posted:
Imagine that you are a Japanese person who has never been in a situation where you suddenly had to speak to a foreigner. You haven’t used English in ages. Your tension grows. You think back to English class in school, but nothing you remember is helpful. You muster up the courage to choke out a stammered, “Do...do you...?” The foreigner responds fluently, in your own language, “Nihongo de daijoubu desu (It’s all right; I speak
General Tip – U.S Embassy posted:
An embassy is where ambassadors from a foreign country lodge, and conduct much of their official diplomatic business. Under international law, ambassadors are guaranteed diplomatic immunity, and the embassy grounds are considered territory of the home nation.
His title was listed as “Security Assistance Officer”.
Kano glanced at the car he’d shown up in.
The license plate was blue, with white lettering. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs? But the Ministry wouldn’t just send some diplomat to intervene in a police investigation.
Kano pulled his phone out of his pocket.
Sasayama’s name was displayed across the LCD screen.
“How’re things on your end, Kano?”
“I have the suspect in custody. How about you?”
Sasayama hesitated. “He, uh, he got away from me.”
“What about the attaché case?”
“I’m sorry. But he’s still gotta be around here somewhere. I’m gonna look around some more.” Sasayama hung up.
“What’s your name, detective?” Jack Stanley asked as Kano was processing this new information.
“Kano, from the Shibuya precinct.”
“All right, Kano. I’m going to need you to follow my instructions for the next while.”
Instead of answering, Stanley took out his cell phone and made a quick call. After a few moments, he held the phone out for Kano.
“Here. Permission from your boss,” he said.
“What?!” Kano squawked. He took the phone gingerly, bracing himself.
“You imbecile! What the hell are you thinking?”
It was Kuze, and was he furious. Understandably so, really. Kano had disobeyed a direct order, and for what? All he’d accomplished was losing track of the attaché case.
“I’m sorry, sir.”
“You really think ‘sorry’ is gonna cut it? You’re off the force, Kano.”
Kano slumped, defeated. He had no reply. He knew he deserved whatever punishment he got. Still, orders from up top didn’t trump the hostage’s safety. If he could have gone back and done it all again, he was sure he’d make the same call. Maybe that meant he wasn’t detective material, but so be it.
“That’s what I want to tell you,” Kuze continued. “But for now, I need you to follow the instructions of the guy there-Stanley. Do whatever he tells you.”
“...Sir?” Kano hadn’t seen that one coming. He’d disobeyed orders. That was undeniable. And yes, he knew he deserved a reprimand. But being ordered to tag along with some stranger who’d just turned up out of the blue? What the heck? “May I ask why the U.S. Embassy is involved with this?”
“No more questions, Kano. Step in line.”
“Please, just hold on. Sir, I have no idea what’s going on, here.”
Kuze let out an exasperated sigh. “That makes two of us, kid.” And with that, the Director hung up.
It sounded like even Kuze didn’t have the whole story, here. Which meant that orders were coming from someplace higher.
A foreign syndicate moving the ransom around, the U.S. Embassy...
Whatever was going on, it was more than just a local kidnapping case. And Kano was deep in the middle of it. He handed the phone back to Stanley. .
A few moments later, two detectives from the MPD arrived on the scene. Stanley handed over the fallen criminal to them.
“You’re chasing a bum lead, you know,” Stanley said as he watched them carry the man away.
“What do you mean?” Kano asked.
“I mean this kidnapping isn’t about the money.”
“My priority is the girl’s safety.”
“Right now your priority is doing what I tell you to do.”
Kano gave him a scowl, but Stanley ignored it.
“That guy we just, er, arrested,” he asked. “He tell you anything?”
“No, nothing,” Kano said.
“Really now?” All trace of emotion drained from Stanley’s eyes. His gaze pierced Kano like icy daggers.
It held a glimmer of something dangerous, something Kano had seen plenty of times since he’d joined the force. He wasn’t looking into the eyes of some diplomatic liaison.
This was a man who knew how to kill-who’d killed people before.
With some effort, Kano managed to regather his sense of professionalism. “He didn’t tell me anything,” he repeated. “1 just know that he’s a member of some foreign crime syndicate that works out of Shibuya. I probably know some of their hangouts.”
“Show me,” Stanley said, cool as an automaton. “We’ll take my car.”
Kano wiped away some of the sweat that had beaded on his brow as they headed for the vehicle.
He was just sliding into the passenger seat when Kuze radioed over the wireless.
“Okey-dokey, folks. Listen up.” The childish tone was back in his voice, full-force. Kano stiffened on reflex. He knew what that meant.
“So, uh, Hitomi Osawa has, like, gone missing.”
What?! Kano couldn’t believe his ears. Wasn’t Tateno supposed to be protecting her right now?
“Also, uh, Detective Tateno hasn’t radioed in. And like, we can’t reach him from our end, either.”
“No way,” Kano blurted out. “It can’t be...”
“So yeah,” Kuze continued. “He mighta gotten caughten up in this incident, too.”
It wasn’t like a detective of Tateno’s stature to go incommunicado during an investigation. It could only mean that something had happened to him. Something major.
|# ? Feb 2, 2020 22:56|
Down to Minorikawa and Tama.
|# ? Feb 2, 2020 22:57|
Let's go Tama.
|# ? Feb 3, 2020 03:15|
Minorikawa took a look at his wristwatch and gritted his teeth.
“drat, is it that late already?” He needed to head for the sales demo.
The surveillance camera article wasn’t done, but he’d just have to leave it where it was for now.
General Tip – Wristwatch posted:
By the way, what sort of impression do you have of this wristwatch?
As he was slipping his laptop back into his bag, his cell phone rang. He looked at the screen and saw Chiaki’s name listed as the incoming caller. Was she done with her interviews?
Hurriedly he picked up. “Chiaki! How’s it going?”
Several wet sniffles came through the receiver.
“Hey, are you crying?”
“It’s no use.” Chiaki’s voice was, indeed, punctuated by sobs. “People won’t stop to talk no matter how hard I try.”
“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. “I’m sorry! I really am!”
“Look-just calm down!” Minorikawa was practically screaming into his phone. “Just stay where you are until I get there, okay? Got that? Whatever you do, just...don’t move.”
Leaving the money for his coffee on the table, he strode out of the café.
Street interviews were tougher than they looked. Not many random passersby were willing to stop and do a back-and-forth. Still, being able to talk to people on the street was a fundamental skill for a freelance reporter.
All Minorikawa wanted was for Chiaki to put in a little effort and make it happen. Although he found her personality frustrating, he actually quite liked her writing. Reading her words, you’d never guess what she was like in person. If she could just break the right story, he was sure readers would be quite taken with her.
There was no time like the present!
The plaza outside Shibuya Station was as crowded as ever. Minorikawa looked around, and soon spotted Chiaki.
“Hey, what are you doing?” he asked.
She was hunkered down in front of the statue of Hachiko, squatting in an odd position.
A group of kindergarteners was gathered nearby, peering at her with sadness in their eyes, like she was a stray dog or something.
“What’s this all about?” Minorikawa asked.
“This is how I end up when I lose all my self-confidence. I just wanna hide-”
“Oh, for crying out loud. Get up, will you?”
428 Tip – Kindergarteners posted:
A pair of girls from Midoriyama Academy’s kindergarten. They always hang out around the train station after school. They’re quite fond of killing time inside of the Tokyu 5000 series display car, the new landmark by the Hachiko entrance.
Chiaki sniffled and wiped at her eyes.
“Let me ask you this.” Minorikawa stared down at her. “What was it that made you want to be a freelance writer?”
“I...well...I guess ‘cause I wanted to try my hand at writing?” A dangling bit of mucus bobbed in and out of Chiaki’s left nostril as she spoke.
“Okay,” Minorikawa followed, “and why’s that?”
“Um, w-well...I’m too embarrassed to say.” Chiaki hid her face in her hands.
“Okay, never mind that, then. Right now, you have a task that’s been handed to you. You can’t just say you can’t do it.” Minorikawa tried to keep his tone calm. “No magazine in the world is going to let a novice writer just write about whatever they want. You have to prove yourself first-get your fundamentals down.”
“I already know all that.”
Minorikawa took the notebook from Chiaki’s hands.
“Hey!” she squeaked.
“Wait, you’ve only talked to one person so far?” There sure wasn’t going to be a story in that.
“Yeah. Um, well, not a ‘person,’ exactly.”
“Hmm? Wait, what’s this here? A cat?”
“No! I mean, yes, there was a person in a cat costume. I thought since I couldn’t see their face it’d be easier to ask them stuff.”
“Fine, whatever. Now get back out there and get me some more.” Minorikawa steered Chiaki toward the passing crowd.
“Yes, now! We’ve got no time to waste! I’ll even stand by and watch for a minute. Now enough with the excuses and get out there!”
Minorikawa looked on as Chiaki wandered through the crowd.
Her anxious demeanor seemed to repel everyone around her. On the rare chance she did manage to flag someone down, the way she stammered through her initial questions made them take right off again.
After a minute or two she shuffled her way back, shoulders slumped.
“See? It’s hopeless.”
“Okay, some advice. First off, you aren’t approaching the right people. Some people are clearly in a rush, you know? You’re not going to have much luck trying to flag down a businessman who’s visibly in a hurry. Now, folks who are waiting on someone, couples, groups-they’re going to be less on their guard.”
“But, I mean, if I do manage to nab someone, how do I keep the conversation going?” Chiaki asked.
That was indeed the tricky part.
“Whenever I get an answer I’m not expecting, I get all flustered.”
“Chiaki, have you ever played tennis?”
“Tennis? Um, well, yeah. I was in my school’s tennis club.”
She struck Minorikawa as being more the manga club type, but that was neither here nor there.
“Okay, that’ll make this simpler. What’s more fun: rallying with an opponent, or hitting the ball off of a wall?”
“Rallying with someone else, of course.”
Minorikawa gave a hearty nod. “And why is that?”
“Because when you hit the ball off of a wall, you already know where it’s going to come back to.” Revelation dawned on Chiaki’s face. “Oh.”
“It’s the same with interviews,” Minorikawa said. “Don’t get flustered-enjoy the rally!”
“But I don’t think I’m composed enough to enjoy it.”
“Don’t overthink things. Just let yourself enjoy the small talk.”
“Small talk? Oh, I’m sure I’m not any good at that.”
She was starting to waffle again.
“Okay, let me ask you this,” Minorikawa said, taking a step closer. “Are you happy with your life right now?”
“I...I’m not happy with my life right now, no,” Chiaki muttered. She hung her head in dismay.
“Okay, so start with that,” Minorikawa said.
“Huh?” Chiaki blinked a few times as she lifted her head back up.
“I’m not happy with my life right now, but what about you?’ Like that.”
“Oh. Okay.” A sliver of liveliness had crept back into Chiaki’s voice.
Minorikawa jabbed his finger right in her face.
“Right there,” he said. “Put on that face when you flag people down.”
Chiaki’s smile widened. “I’ll give it a shot! Thank you so much!”
“Sure thing. Good luck.”
Chiaki strode enthusiastically into the crowd...and tried to flag down a Westerner who was walking hurriedly past.
“Did she even listen to a word I said?” Minorikawa felt his short-lived triumph melt away.
Am I just going to have to teach her everything again from scratch?
Then he paused in surprise.
Chiaki had snatched the man by the arm in an attempt to get him to stop.
To Minorikawa’s amazement, the gambit worked.
Before long, it looked like the two were engaged in some kind of animated conversation. Maybe she would get an interview out of this after all. Heck, the look on her face was actually somewhat confident.
Sometimes people could surprise you once you got past their surface issues.
Now Minorikawa could head to the Burning Hammer sales demo with a little more peace of mind.
On The Move.
Speaking of which-crap, what time is it?
In a panic, Minorikawa checked his wristwatch. The demo was set to start in less than five minutes.
Uh-oh. He really was cutting it close.
General Tip – Wristwatch posted:
Think about this wristwatch. That will tell you how you think about the opposite sex and whatnot.
Minorikawa sprinted through the intersection, heading for Center Gai.
“Arrrgh! What should I do?”
Where could the truck that took the Burning Hammer possibly have gone? I’m standing there wracking my brain when I hear a voice call out from behind me.
“Um, excuse me. Are you, ah, happy? With your, ah, your life right now?”
I turn to see a woman holding a notebook. “Huh?”
“Um, I mean, just-sorry-do, ah, do you mind if I ask you a couple questions?”
I do not have the time for this right now. I’m more than a little busy.
“Oh, no, I mean I understand if you can’t.” She’s giving me this hyper-intensive stare. I can’t tell if she’s trying to be intimidating or if she’s actually afraid of me. Something about her is definitely off-way too jittery and suspicious for my liking. Whatever she wants, I’d rather not get involved.
“I’m actually pretty busy,” I say.
“Oh, um, but, er, I mean, just real quick? It’d be a huge help. Please?”
“Please!” She bows so many times she looks like one of those drinking birds.
General Tip – Drinking birds posted:
A toy bird that functions by means of a simple heat engine mechanism, causing it to continually dip its head into liquid and then rise back up. Sometimes falsely claimed to be a type of perpetual motion device. Once a common sight in offices the world over.
I can’t help but feel bad for this poor girl. I guess I can give her at least a few moments of my time.
“All right, but please make it quick.”
“Oh! Thank you. Thank you so much!” She goes back into drinking bird mode.
“So, what was the question?”
“Oh, right! Umm...uh...So, are you, uh, happy? With your life? Right now?”
“Well, right now, as you can see, I am a cat.”
“Oh! A cat. Yes, I see. A cat. So, um, yeah. I’ll put down ‘cat.”
She just writes the word ‘cat’ in her notepad.
“Right. Thank you.”
“Huh? Are we finished already?”
“Uh. Yes. Yes, we can finish right there.” She hangs her head a little and looks away.
Well, that sure was quick.
I’m not sure I get what it was all about. Did I really give her enough to be useful? I doubt it-but hey, at least it was over fast.
I head off in search of the Burning Hammer once more.
No matter where I wander, though, I don’t spot the truck anywhere. Now there’s only fifteen minutes before the demo’s supposed to start. I’d better make my way back to the venue. Maybe Chiri had better luck in her search?
Back at the break room, I’m met by Mr. Yanagishita, who positively radiates despair.
“Did you find it?!”
“I’m sorry. I tried.”
Yanagishita’s shoulders slump further at my response.
“Have you heard from Chiri?” I ask.
“No, nothing yet. I guess she’s our last hope.”
All of a sudden, Mr. Yanagishita holds up a pendant. “The situation’s rough. I’d like you to wear this.”
It’s a “miracle stone” like the one I saw back in the storeroom earlier.
“This ought to kick up your luck a notch.”
Now I see that Yanagishita is wearing another miracle stone around his own neck. Using one bit of sham merchandise to help find another. Nice.
This is the pinnacle of pitiful. That’s what this is.
“Hurry up, put it on! Before the luck runs out!” Mr. Yanagishita’s eyes are all bloodshot.
Something tells me that refusing his request wouldn’t be wise right now.
After a moment’s hesitation, I take hold of the pendant. The stone is blue and glittery.
“Is that Chiri?!” Mr. Yanagishita squeaks. He whips out his phone. “Ah, no, sorry,” he mutters after listening for a moment. “I think you have the wrong number-”
Guess it isn’t Chiri after all.
“Okay...okay...” And yet he stays on the line.
“Really?!” His tone suddenly does a complete one-eighty. “Yes, please! Thank you so much!” As soon as he hangs up, Yanagishita strikes a victory pose.
“It’s a miracle! Burning Hammer is back, baby!”
“The recycling guy realized his mix-up and returned the boxes to the loading dock!”
“Whoa, for real?”
“You girls did great! Thank you! From the bottom of my heart!” I’ve never seen someone come so close to literally jumping for joy.
“I’m going to go prep the demo room. Tama, you go bring the Burning Hammer inside!” With that, Mr. Yanagishita practically flies out of the room.
“No way,” I murmur to myself. “This thing didn’t actually work...did it?” I examine the miracle stone more closely. It just looks like some kind of toy jewelry.
“I wish that I actually get paid my 20,000 yen.” Hey, it’s worth a shot. With the miracle stone still clutched in my hand, I hurry out to the loading dock.
I brace myself before actually stepping out the door.
It’s there! It’s really there!
The cardboard boxes are scattered all around outside.
Wait...scattered all around? What happened to them? I suddenly have a very bad feeling about this.
Apprehension gnaws at me as I open up one of the boxes.
“Nooooo!” I shriek, and my vision dims.
The box is full of bottles of Burning Hammer, all of them smashed to pieces.
|# ? Feb 4, 2020 23:00|
Start of a new hour; all five characters are available.
|# ? Feb 4, 2020 23:01|
Let's continue with Tama.
|# ? Feb 4, 2020 23:15|
That watch just makes me think "nineties". So there's that.
I want to figure out what's going on with Hitomi, so Achi.
|# ? Feb 5, 2020 01:14|
Watch makes me think "detective" for some reason.
Let's stick with Tama. Why didn't she ask Chiaki to unzip her cat costume....?
|# ? Feb 5, 2020 02:44|
Bottles of Burning Hammer litter the pavement, shattered into tiny bits of glass. Even if the recycling guy was really careless with the boxes, it shouldn’t have caused this much of a mess.
It looks like someone came along and actually threw them all over the place.
“The heck with this thing!”
I toss away the miracle stone, which has clearly brought me only bad luck.
We can’t have a product demo without a product which in turn means I won’t be getting paid for this whole fiasco.
“Okay. We can do this. We can figure something out.” I try to give myself a pep talk, but I hear the doubt in my own voice.
I try to brainstorm anyway.
Finding inspiration is like trying to squeeze blood from a stone.
|# ? Feb 6, 2020 22:00|
Neither of these are good options. Can we just leave? But given the lack of an extant product, let’s figure out something else.
|# ? Feb 6, 2020 23:01|
With the way the camera has the miracle stone focused... Why not try selling something else?
|# ? Feb 7, 2020 00:38|
I’ll just have to find something else to sell.
“But what could that something be...?” I try to think.
Finding inspiration is like trying to squeeze blood from a stone. I wrack my brain, searching desperately for a solution.
Nah. Not exactly a must-have product.
And even if we could sell a few, I don’t know what that’d say about the folks carrying them around. Best for the whole world if we keep them off the streets.
Let’s see, what else...?
“Aha! I’ve got it!”
I pick up the miracle stone I just tossed away
And clutch it firmly in my mitt.
I tilt my gaze toward the heavens and make a wish.
“Please, grant me a miracle...”
And my wish is granted.
“I’d like one, please!”
“I’ll take ten!”
Mr. Yanagishita can barely keep up with the demand as the crowd clamors for their miracle stones.
Everyone is smiling and laughing, their bodies enthusiastically swaying to and fro.
“You are happy...And you are happy. You are all very, verrry happy...”
Standing on stage, I hold up my miracle stone, swinging it like a pendulum as I recite my magic little chant.
“Buy...buyyy...buy a miracle stone!”
The room vibrates with cheering and rumbles with applause.
It really is like a miracle. I think I’ve actually turned this disaster around!
“Whoever smashed all the Burning Hammer-I don’t know who you are, or where you are, but thank you.” I realize now that I’m crying tears of joy.
I’ve never felt satisfaction like I feel right now, seeing all these blissful customers purchasing one miracle stone after another. It feels like nothing could possibly go wrong. Honestly, I’m just grateful to God that I get to be here right now. I have the utmost conviction that this is where my life truly begins.
It’s not long after that epic sales event that I’m hired on by Yamato Health Foods, Co., Ltd. Pretty soon after that, I’m on a plane bound for South America. I’m on a business trip to purchase our next product: Amazonian Miracle Mud.
|# ? Feb 7, 2020 22:30|
lol that rules.
|# ? Feb 7, 2020 23:07|
Man forget you game, I wanna subscribe to Tama's South American Adventures.
|# ? Feb 8, 2020 08:38|
The man with the cane crooked his finger on the trigger.
Achi stepped in front of Hitomi, shielding her with his body. “If you want to shoot her, you have to shoot me, too!”
Suddenly, the assassin’s head jerked forward.
He pitched face-first onto the pavement and lay still-revealing a foreign man standing behind him.
In one hand the stranger clutched a metal pipe.
“Hitomi,” Achi asked. “You know that guy?”
Hitomi’s eyes went wide. “That’s the man from the scramble. The one who told me to go to the van.”
“Wait-one of the kidnappers? Why would he help us?”
“I’m not sure.”
The newcomer fixed his eyes on Achi.
“Hey, man.” Achi approached the stranger. “I’m not sure what’s going on here. But thanks for the assist.”
On The Move.
The man took a sudden swing with his pipe; Achi barely managed to dodge out of the way.
“What the hell?!” Once again, Achi made sure Hitomi was safely behind him.
“Guess I gotta let my fists do the talking.” Achi quickly adopted a fighting stance.
“Be careful!” Hitomi warned, her voice trembling.
“Don’t worry. It’s just a pipe. I’ll just snatch it away from him and make him tell us where your sister is.” Achi judged the distance between them carefully as he stared his opponent down.
The metal pipe gave this thug considerable reach. One solid hit from that thing and Achi wouldn’t stand a chance. He needed to end this in one punch.
The crook sized him up for a few moments, then lunged forward to attack.
Achi sidestepped to avoid the incoming blow, then delivered a vicious left hook to his adversary’s jaw. The man went down hard.
Achi gazed at his fallen foe, flexing his knuckles. “The thing about guys who bring weapons to fights is they always let themselves get too cocky.”
He looked the guy over. The man had a tattoo peeking from one of his ratty sleeves.
“Come on, buddy, you can’t clock out just yet,” Achi said. “Get up. I’ve got a few questions for you.” He knelt down to grab the man by his collar.
On The Move.
Halfway to his feet, the man pulled a gun from his breast pocket.
“Whoa! Didn’t know you were packing heat.” Achi took a quick step backward.
The man’s eyes brimmed with rage. He looked ready to pull the trigger at any moment.
But he didn’t get the chance.
The man with the cane had regained consciousness; back on his feet, he trained his own gun on the foreigner.
The foreigner quickly shifted his attention to the other gunman.
“Oh no you don’t!” Achi darted forward and kicked the kidnapper in the hand as hard as he could.
The gun went flying from his grasp.
With a low snarl, the man took up the metal pipe again.
Rather than go for Achi, however, he charged the man with the cane.
“What the...?” Achi watched in astonishment as the two men grappled.
“Now's our chance!” Grabbing Hitomi by the hand, Achi broke into a run.
They ran for a long time, finally stopping to rest in a quiet municipal park.
As they sat catching their breath, Achi sensed a new tension in Hitomi. She hadn’t said a word since their latest escape.
In his mind, Achi replayed what the man with the cane had said.
“So, Hitomi-” Achi hesitated. “About what happened back there...”
“Yeah?” She sounded like she’d been far gone in her own thoughts.
“You gotta believe me. I have no idea who that guy was. Never seen him before in my life. He must have been saying that stuff to confuse us, to trip us up.”
“Yeah?” Hitomi said again.
“Is that what’s been bothering you?”
“Huh?” Now it was Achi’s turn to go monosyllabic.
“Well, Achi, you’re kind of famous around Shibuya, right?”
“Uh, I dunno about that.” Way back when, he’d been the leader of S.O.S Nowadays, he was just some guy who picked up trash. That was nothing to brag about.
“When someone’s famous, it’s not unusual for someone else to recognize them and know their name. So, yeah, I was surprised back there, but no matter what that man may have said, I trust you. I mean, look at how many times you’ve put yourself in danger to protect me.” Hitomi sounded pretty resolute.
Achi was glad that she believed him, but that raised another question. “So then how come you’ve been so quiet?”
“I’ve just been thinking about things. Like what that man from the scramble might be after.”
|# ? Feb 9, 2020 22:00|
I mean, this guy cared more about loving up cane man than securing his hostage. They clearly got beef.
|# ? Feb 9, 2020 23:17|
“Maybe there’s had blood between them.” Achi let out a little chuckle. “If we’re lucky, maybe they’ll take each other out for us.” He felt a rush of relief, reassured that Hitomi didn’t doubt his motives. “Regardless, though, we have to track down that blue van.”
The sound of a child’s cry came from behind them.
Turning to look, they saw the kidnapper rushing toward them. He had knocked over a little girl who was in his way.
“No rest for the weary,” Achi sighed. Yet again, he and Hitomi sprinted away.
“Do you...think he...took out the...guy with the cane?” Hitomi’s words came between panting huffs.
“Maybe.” Achi glanced back at their pursuer.
There was someone else with him. Now they were being chased down by two foreigners.
“I liked this better when we were just running from one guy with a cane!”
In a one-on-one fight, Achi was confident he could keep Hitomi safe. One-on-two, though-that was a different story. One guy might get a hold of her while he was facing off against the other.
He had to make sure they lost these creeps, no matter what.
|# ? Feb 10, 2020 21:29|
We may as well hop back to Tama and get as far as we can with her.
|# ? Feb 10, 2020 21:40|
Somehow or another, I’m going to have to sell some Burning Hammer. The flyers have already been handed out. People have come to the demo expecting to get Burning Hammer. I may have to put it into some new bottles, and possibly water it down some, but getting this stuff sold is my only option.
My eyes alight on one of the cardboard boxes, and I notice an odd mark that’s stamped on it.
“Wait a sec...I’ve seen this before!” I recall something Chiri said earlier.
“This is the sorta thing they’d sell in 100-yen shops or something.”
The mark on the box is the same one I saw at the shop that’s selling the necklace.
“That’s it! I can see if there’s more at the knickknack shop!”
Guided by this ray of hope, I head for the knickknack shop as fast as I can run.
General Tip – Ray posted:
A glimmer. A sliver. The ever-dwindling light in the distance. Point is, there’s not much.
As soon as I reach the main road, I crash right into someone.
“Oh hey, you find it?” she asks. She makes it sound like it’s not really her problem.
“Not yet, but I think we can stock up at the 100-yen shop.” The words are hard to get out when I’m panting as hard as I am. “For now, just stay calm, and go let the boss know.”
“Got it. Leave it to me.” Chiri nods, and I break back into a run.
I’m practically praying as I rush into the knickknack shop - where I immediately spot the cardboard boxes I saw earlier, still stacked up.
“Yes! I’m in luck!” I dive into one of the boxes to check what’s inside.
It’s packed with tiny bottles.
There’s no mistaking the noxious red liquid inside: that’s Burning Hammer, all right.
There’s fifty bottles per box. And there are four boxes total.
Assuming each bottle is 100 yen including tax, I can buy the whole lot with the twenty thousand I’ve got in my wallet.
Mr. Yanagishita said he was selling the bottles at the demo for fifteen thousand yen apiece.
That way, if we sell all two hundred bottles, he’ll be able to pay back his debts no problem.
“Whoa! What’s the deal with you?” The salesclerk’s eyes go wide when he sees my getup.
“This stuff! I’d like your entire stock!” I point at the Burning Hammer, and the clerk makes an awkward face.
“I’m afraid that’s already been sold.”
“What?! You mean, like...all of it?”
Nobody in their right mind could possibly want all of this.
“Yes, all of it, I’m afraid.”
Well, I’m not going to roll over that easily. Whether I earn that extra twenty thousand or not hinges on whether I can get this stuff. “Please, you’ve got to help me out!”
“I’m afraid it’s out of my hands.”
“Then could you get in touch with the buyer? Tell them I’m willing to negotiate!”
“I suppose that wouldn’t be an issue, but...Actually, would you mind waiting for just a moment? She said she’d be by ASAP.”
After five minutes of waiting, the buyer still hasn’t shown up.
“I don’t think she’s coming,” I say.
“That’s odd,” the salesclerk murmurs. “She said on the phone she’d come by just after one o’clock to pick them up.”
“I really need this right away.”
“I understand that, but...”
“It’s out of my hands.”
By now, the sales demo has already started. If I come back empty-handed, what was the point of all this effort?
“I’ve already said I can’t do that.”
“Would you please wait a moment?”
Grrr. Why did I spend all that time trying to hand out samples?
Why did I put this stupid costume on?
Why did I miss out on lunch?
What was it all for?
“Eek! Look over there! It’s the chupacabra!”
“Yoink!” Seizing the moment, I snatch up the boxes of Burning Hammer and make a run for it.
“Hey! Hold it right there, miss!” The salesclerk is quick to bar my path.
“Whoof!” I barrel my way right past him.
I bump him harder than intended as I race by; he loses his balance and goes crashing through the display case at the front of his shop.
At the same time, I hear something else topple over with a thud and a gurgle.
Some sort of liquid begins to gush from a red polyethylene container.
“Um...uh-oh!” The salesclerk’s eyes go wide, his stare fixed on something on the sidewalk nearby.
It’s a cigarette!
The burning butt ignites the liquid in a sudden, massive blaze.
“And now for today’s news. Shortly after one o’clock this afternoon, there was an explosion at a variety store in Udagawacho in Shibuya, the cause of which remains unknown. Eyewitnesses report seeing an individual wearing a full-body cat costume fleeing the scene in the aftermath of the explosion. Police consider this individual a person of interest, and have not ruled out the possibility that this bombing was a terrorist act. Several hours after the incident, the cat remains at large.”
|# ? Feb 13, 2020 21:21|
This game is completely bonkers.
|# ? Feb 13, 2020 21:42|
|# ? Feb 13, 2020 23:50|
|# ? Feb 15, 2020 07:14|
Following Kano’s directions, Stanley drove toward the crime syndicate’s hangout. There was a good chance that this was where Maria was being held.
Traffic was practically nonexistent, and they made good time. They cruised down Miyamasuzaka, then past the train station toward Dogenzaka.
All the while, the two men stared out the windshield, neither inclined to make conversation.
They arrived at the Shinsencho intersection.
“Take a right here,” Kano said.
“You nervous?” Stanley asked as he made the turn. His own tone was calm and level.
Kano gave no reply.
If this syndicate really was holding Maria hostage up ahead...he and Stanley might wind up putting her in danger by showing up there. If it came down to it, Kano wondered, could he count on the man next to him taking the hostage’s safety into account? He doubted it, but there was nothing he could do about that now.
They arrived at the syndicate’s hangout sooner than Kano had anticipated.
It was a multi-tenant building in Tomigaya, southwest of Yoyogi Park.
The ratty building looked like it might come crashing down at any minute. The “Black Lodge” sign out front looked deliberately ominous. Kano knew the place as a bar frequented by expats from various countries, as well as a hotbed of criminal activity.
“I’ll take point,” Stanley said. “You back me up.” He pulled a handgun from his suit pocket. It was a compact Glock, a model frequently used by the FBI or CIA.
Kano drew his own gun, and the two cautiously made their way inside.
General Tip – Glock posted:
General Tip – FBI posted:
Federal Bureau of Investigation.
General Tip – CIA posted:
Central Intelligence Agency.
They immediately heard some sort of ruckus from beyond a wooden door at the far end of the hall.
Please don’t let this be what I think it is, Kano thought to himself. Sweat beaded on his hands as he gripped his gun tighter.
He heard the sound of glass shattering. Then came the sound of something heavy falling to the floor.
Ignoring Stanley’s previous order, Kano rushed ahead, kicked down the door, and stepped inside.
He walked right into a massacre. There were nearly a dozen bodies sprawled out across the floor.
He thought he recognized them all: the men who’d participated in the repeated attaché case handoffs. Each appeared to have been stabbed to death.
Had these guys all turned on each other? No-that couldn’t have been the case.
None of the victims was holding a knife. Which meant that whoever had killed them must still be hiding nearby.
No sooner had Kano come to this conclusion than he heard a muffled cry behind him.
The American was sprawled on the floor, face-down. Kano rushed over and knelt beside him.
Stanley was dead-stabbed through the back.
Without an instant’s hesitation Kano stood up again, gun at the ready. He scanned his surroundings, but there was no sign of the killer.
But that was impossible.
Stanley had been killed mere moments ago. Someone had to be here somewhere.
Out of nowhere, he felt someone press the tip of a knife into his neck from behind-right at the base of his skull.
He hadn’t noticed anyone coming up on him.
There wasn’t even anyone else around. Nobody but the corpses scattered across the floor.
Wait... The corpses?
Kano hadn’t checked them. Hadn’t checked to make sure they were all really dead. With his last thought he realized that had been his fatal mistake.
|# ? Feb 15, 2020 22:00|
...Welp. We need someone who's gonna cause chaos. Minorikawa next?
|# ? Feb 15, 2020 22:10|
On The Move.
Minorikawa sprinted down Center Gai, dodging between oncoming pedestrians. “Outta my way! Can’t you people see I’m in a hurry?!”
He stole a glimpse at his watch as he ran. It was just after one o’clock. The Burning Hammer sales demo would be getting underway any moment now.
He could probably get an interview even if he showed up late. Still, he wanted to get to the venue ASAP, to get a feel for things before they got started. The best time to scope out an event was before it started and after it ended.
This was something he’d learned from Toyama. Everything he knew about journalism, the publisher had taught him. It had been a combative education, Minorikawa learning despite himself as the two men constantly butted heads.
“Oh, give me a break! What’s wrong with my article?!” Minorikawa shouted. His voice was loud enough to carry throughout the editing department.
“Shut up! I told you to rewrite it, so rewrite it!” Toyama, sticking to his guns.
Minorikawa recalled the scene from the days when the two men had worked at the same newspaper, and Toyama was his boss.
428 Tip – Boss posted:
At the time, Toyama was the copy editor for local news. Known as “The Red Pen Gatekeeper,” he would go around checking young reporters’ copy like mad. Due to his vigorous efforts, a great many articles never made it to the page.
“What’s wrong with it? Show me what’s wrong!”
“All of it!”
“How can it be all of it?!”
Coworkers stared, keeping their distance, as the pair screamed themselves red in the face. These arguments had become a regular occurrence-regular enough that everyone had learned not to try to intervene.
“I poured my heart and soul into this piece! Go back and read it again!”
“I could read it over and over and it’d still be the same thing: a load of self-important claptrap! Now go calm down and write me a more neutral piece!”
“‘Calm down’? You must be joking! I write what I feel in my heart! That’s the one thing I refuse to back down on!”
General Tip – Neutral posted:
Taking neither of two opposing sides. The media typically seeks to adopt a neutral stance in reporting the news. Frequently, however, biased reporting still results in one-sided thinking taking hold amongst the general public. In the end, it is up to the individual to make an objective assessment of any news event.
“Then it’s the one thing that’ll keep getting your copy rejected!”
“Aren’t you the one who told me to be bold and daring with my writing?!”
“Yeah, I did! But I don’t remember telling you to write me garbage!”
By now Minorikawa and Toyama were practically at each other’s throats.
Still, despite these almost-daily shouting matches, Minorikawa never resented Toyama. Not really.
How could he write a piece in a way that would shut Toyama up? Trying to figure that out was how he had developed his skills as a reporter.
Up until he quit his position at the newspaper to start his own publishing company, Toyama had been a stubborn old man in the finest sense of the term. But then, in order to keep his company afloat, at some point he had abandoned all his ideals and principles.
It was disgraceful.
General Tip – Stubborn old man posted:
Now a dying breed in Japan. The sort who’d be inclined to use knuckles before words to remedy a child’s bad behavior. Inflexible, but still emotionally brittle.
Thinking about it made Minorikawa’s blood boil. It rankled him to know that such a pathetic remnant of a man had been such an influence on him.
He reminded himself once again that he needed to wrap up his current job as soon as possible.
By now, Minorikawa was getting close to the demo site. He increased his speed. He wound up barreling right into someone who was walking into a knickknack shop.
It was a girl about high school age. She jumped to her feet, then snatched Minorikawa by the collar.
428 Tip – Knickknack shop posted:
A newly opened general variety store. The place is primarily a second-hand shop, with posters inside proclaiming things like “We’ll Take What You Don’t Need” and “We Buy Computers at Top Prices!”
“Hey, watch where you’re going!” she snapped. Her upper body strength was impressive, to say the least. The choke hold she had on his neck made it almost impossible for him to breathe. He had to do something fast.
|# ? Feb 17, 2020 21:51|
|# ? Feb 17, 2020 23:10|
Punching a teenage girl who's stronger than you could not possibly go wrong
|# ? Feb 17, 2020 23:21|
This is almost certainly the person Tama is waiting for, so apologizing and being on our way would be the smartest option... but screw that, punch her.
|# ? Feb 18, 2020 03:14|
“Take this!” He drove a punch right into the girl’s flank.
To his amazement, the girl shrugged off the blow as if it were nothing, her grip on his collar tightening further.
“Oho, you wanna throw down, huh?” she sneered. Shifting position suddenly, she snatched Minorikawa by the hair and dragged him out into the road.
Before he could process the trouble he was in, it was already too late.
He cowered away from her, shielding his face with his arms, only to feel the impact of a rain of punches and kicks on his exposed back and sides.
Pain shot through his body as each blow landed with a perversely satisfying thump. And then the pain continued to intensify.
Oh, crap. I’m...I’m going to die here, aren’t I? Never thought my life would end so soon.
“Huh?” His assailant paused suddenly. “Wait, don’t I know you?” She stared down into his face.
“Hey, you're Mr. Minorikawa!”
Shocked to hear his own name, Minorikawa peered up at the girl.
“Yeah! Wow, so you do remember me!” Her tone was bubbly, as if the beating she’d been dishing was all fun and games.
“Sorry! I didn’t realize it was you!” She held out a hand to help Minorikawa back to his feet. “Wow, how long’s it been?” she asked.
“About five years, I think?” he said cautiously. “You, uh, still doing your bonsai stuff?”
“Nah”, she replied. “I gave that up.”
Miku had been Japan’s bonsai champion back when she was in middle school.
One day, local delinquents had vandalized dozens of Miku’s bonsai pieces. Minorikawa had met her when he interviewed her about the incident.
“I want to get strong,” she had said. “I want to be able to beat those guys up!”
And so Minorikawa had introduced Miku to an acquaintance of his who ran a martial arts dojo.
“Man, you sure have gotten strong,” Minorikawa said.
“Well, that’s the sort of gal I am.” Miku handed him a flyer.
Ladies’ Mixed Martial Arts Pub Bride! Present this flyer for a free drink!
“It’s a place where you can watch girls fight in the ring while you have some drinks,” Miku said.
“That...sounds pretty fun, actually.” Minorikawa could feel himself being pulled in all the wrong directions by the prospect.
“You should come see one of my matches sometime. I’m the current champion there.” Miku beamed with pride.
“Wait-you’re the champion?” Well, he’d seen firsthand how strong she was.
Miku nodded. “What are you up to now?” she asked. “Working?”
“Yeah. Running around, trying to get interviews. Right now I’m heading to-what was it again? The Nokane Building, that’s it.”
“Oh, I can take you there,” she said. “I can use the exercise! Now, if you’ll beg my pardon...”
Miku casually hefted Minorikawa up onto her back and broke into a jog.
Before long, they arrived at the Nokane Building. Minorikawa thanked Miku as she set him down on the sidewalk, and the two parted ways.
At long last, he arrived at the Nokane Building, where the event was being held.
The wall by the elevator was plastered with posters about Burning Hammer.
“Get It or Regret It!”
“As Seen in Magazines!”
“100% Weight Loss Guaranteed!”
The messaging was kind of a mess. It felt like they’d been thrown together at the last minute.
General Tip – 100% Weight Loss Guaranteed posted:
This is blatantly false advertising.
Minorikawa avoided the elevator in favor of the stairs, rushing up to the event site on the third floor.
Emerging from the stairwell, he saw more posters on the wall pointing the way to the sales demo. He followed the arrows to a room deeper within the building.
Opening the door, he saw about fifty chairs, most of them occupied by female attendees. There was a stage set up at the far end of the room, but nobody was on it.
It appeared that the event had yet to begin. Minorikawa quickly looked over the crowd.
Roughly half of the women were somewhat elderly. All of them looked like they could stand to lose some weight. And for some of them, at least, that ship had surely sailed some time ago.
The crowd gazed at the stage with rapt anticipation.
A beverage that allowed you to eat plenty and still lose weight was definitely an appetizing proposition. Could something like that really exist, though?
Minorikawa was just going to have to wait and see. He did his best to get his mind into journalism mode.
Time passed, but the demo didn’t start. The audience began grumbling in frustration.
Then a heavy-set young woman took the stage and gave a little bow. It was the girl from the café-the one with the amazing appetite. The audience broke into applause, their patience finally rewarded.
But as everyone leaned forward expectantly, the girl on stage began performing magic tricks. She twiddled a silk hat, and pulled a bunch of flowers from inside it. Sparse applause rose up from the crowd. The young woman immediately went on to perform another trick, and then another.
“Ta-dah!” A coin in her hand became three coins as she spoke her magic words.
She’s not very good at this, Minorikawa thought. Though whether she was good or bad wasn’t really the issue.
He had a tight schedule to keep. This was no time to stand around watching silly sleight-of-hand antics. Scanning the room, he spotted a man who looked like he was probably in charge.
Minorikawa headed over to him. “Hey, you the one running this thing?”
“Uh, well, yes?”
“When’s the actual sales demo going to start?”
“Soon. Very soon, yep.”
“In how many minutes?”
“You know. Soon.”
“I asked for a number!”
“Just, uh, soon. Real soon.”
This was getting him nowhere.
“Three minutes!” Minorikawa declared. He held up three fingers to emphasize his point. “If this thing doesn’t start in three minutes...”
“If it doesn’t start, then...what?”
|# ? Feb 19, 2020 20:01|
That was actually progress...
We'll just go home.
|# ? Feb 19, 2020 21:14|
Miku is my favorite character. I love her. Anyway, I doubt that he'll care much if one person leaves, so let's cause a scene.
|# ? Feb 20, 2020 03:12|
It's clearly time for a ruckus.
|# ? Feb 20, 2020 20:40|
“I’m going to start a ruckus.”
He kept his voice firm, his words short and clipped.
“Hey, now. No need for that, sir. Just settle down. Who doesn’t like a silly little magic show now and then?”
“You’ve got two minutes.”
“Hey, a minute can’t have passed already!”
“Whoa! Just what kinda watch you got there?”
“Tell me why the demo isn’t starting.”
“Ah, well, uh, you know, er, n-n-no real reason, really.” The man was getting seriously flustered. “I just, y’know, I wanted folks to get to see a little magic show first.”
“Nope. Try again. Thirty seconds left.”
“Okay, okay, okay, all right. What happened is, ah, the required merchandise, uh...”
“What happened to the merchandise?” Minorikawa demanded. He gave the guy a dagger stare.
“Ah, well, you know, it’s just, ah...Ahahahaha.”
“Whaaaaat?!” The man’s face went pale.
|# ? Feb 21, 2020 22:00|
...Well that was anti-climatic. I think we've got Osawa left?
|# ? Feb 21, 2020 22:23|
I don’t deserve to be forgiven for what I've done.
We may have both done the same thing, but my motives-those were different. And so I don’t regret what I did.
And yet, if someone were to ask if there was some small part of me that wanted to see the results of my research,
I could not deny it.
Osawa grabbed his shoes from the entryway and then headed for the back door. He didn’t want the detectives in his living room to know he was going to meet with Makino.
That pest Kajiwara was nowhere in sight. Now was his chance to slip away.
Speak of the devil. Kajiwara had snuck up behind him.
“Are you going out?” the detective asked.
“Ah, no, I was just...”
Osawa felt something inside his shoe. Glancing down, he saw a rubber duck stuffed inside it. “Is...is this your doing?”
“I laid a booby trap! Or rather...a ducky trap!” Kajiwara beamed with self-satisfaction.
General Tip – Booby Trap posted:
Originally, a type of lethal trap used during wartime to catch clumsy or unwary soldiers (‘boobies’). In modern parlance, however, the term frequently signifies a harmless prank, such as setting a blackboard eraser atop a classroom door so that it falls onto the head of whoever opens the door.
“You know, you act like a grade-schooler,” Osawa said.
“Indeed, sir. I am a grown man with a youthful heart.” Leave it to Kajiwara to yet again miss the point entirely.
With a sigh, Osawa tossed the duck at him. Kajiwara caught it nimbly in one hand, then stuffed it right into his pocket.
“I won’t tell you that you aren’t allowed to leave, sir. All I ask is that you tell me where you’ve been, and where you plan on going.”
“My work is highly confidential. I’m not at liberty to discuss just anything about-”
“Please try to work with me on this, sir,” Kajiwara interrupted. He leaned in uncomfortably close. “Do you recall what I said before? About how I’d appreciate if you didn’t keep secrets from me?”
Osawa hesitated, inwardly debating how much he should share.
|# ? Feb 23, 2020 21:00|
Not creepy at all. Just tell him the truth to hopefully get rid of him.
|# ? Feb 26, 2020 17:44|
|# ? Jul 24, 2021 05:59|
He decided to tell the truth. “All right, I’ll tell you. Just leave me in peace. One of my colleagues is waiting for me outside.”
“Who is it?”
“I’m sorry. That’s all I can say.”
“Could you tell me a bit about what you’ll be discussing?” Kajiwara leaned in even closer. His eyes twinkled with suspicion.
“I can’t share corporate secrets, Detective. Like how you don’t tell me anything about the state of your investigation. It goes both ways.” It might have been childish reasoning, but it worked on Kajiwara.
“All right,” the detective said. “In that case, I have just one condition. Please, take this with you.” He produced something that looked like a small transceiver from inside his coat.
“It’s a bug tracker, sir. It’ll beep in response to a nearby listening device.”
“I’m just going to meet someone from work. I don’t need this.”
He pushed Kajiwara’s hand aside, and the bug tracker fell to the floor.
“Mr. Osawa, you mustn’t underestimate the lengths to which these kidnappers might go.” For once, the detective’s face was all seriousness.
“All right. Fine.” Osawa snatched up the device and headed out the door.
Makino’s car was parked out front. A driver stood alongside it. Osawa exchanged a wordless greeting with him, then got into the back. He found Makino reclining in one of the luxurious leather seats.
“Now, then,” Makino said, “what did you want to ask me about?” Lighting a cigar, he glanced sidelong at Osawa.
“I was hoping you could explain the situation to me, sir.”
“Which situation would that be?” So, he was still going to beat around the bush, even now.
Osawa suppressed an urge to shout at him. “Are you the one who let the antiviral out of the lab, sir?”
“Yes. That was me.” Makino didn’t bat an eyelid. So why had he been so coy a few moments earlier?
“But-how? The fingerprint authentication system is almost unbreakable. Getting access to the storage area would...” He trailed off as a thought suddenly occurred to him.
It was not strictly true that fingerprint authentication was the only means of entry.
Osawa and Tanaka had both set up passwords as a failsafe in case an injured fingertip somehow prevented them from operating the scanner properly. But these passwords were 10-character alphanumeric strings; no one could just haphazardly fumble their way in.
Could Makino have sent a request to the electronic lock’s manufacturer and asked them to unlock it, then?
No-that required the approval of six board members. And Osawa was one of those six people.
There really seemed to be no way of getting in without leaving any trace.
“You’re absolutely right, of course,” Makino said with a grin, as if reading his thought. “I couldn’t gain access to the lab without you and Tanaka. But I didn’t have to.” He exhaled a large plume of smoke. “You remember when we released the samples for animal testing?”
“No. It couldn’t be...” Osawa broke out in a sweat.
“Ah, but it could,” Makino said. “I had them divert some of the samples intended for animal testing. Naturally, that didn’t leave any record of anything being taken from the lab.”
Osawa bit his lip, hard. He couldn’t help but feel betrayed by his company. “But...why?”
Makino let out a nasal, one-note chuckle. “You don’t seem to grasp just how valuable this thing really is.”
“What do you mean by that, sir?”
Makino lowered his voice. “There’s a major world power out there that has already weaponized the Ua Virus.”
For a moment Osawa thought this was just a sick joke, but the look on Makino’s face told him otherwise.
“I’ve been informed that it was recently used on a military installation in the Middle East. Within twelve hours of dispersal there were at least eight hundred casualties. If you include civilians, the number jumps to over two thousand. Any evidence of the disease agent and the bomb that delivered it has, of course, been covered up.”
Osawa listened in amazement, his outrage that any government would commit such an atrocity not quite suppressing his excitement at discovering that the virus could be propagated by explosive means.
He felt a flush of guilt at his own fascination.
“The antiviral you created, Osawa, has the potential to render this weapon useless. Right now, Okoshi Pharmaceutical possesses the sole means to combat Ua.” Makino’s lips curled into a boastful grin. “Any number of countries would love to get their hands on it. The major power in question has offered an unprecedented sum. And that’s hardly a surprise; having a monopoly on the antiviral makes the weapon itself that much more valuable.”
To Osawa, this was a glimpse into another, terrifying world, one he had barely imagined previously.
“And so you wanted to get human testing over with as soon as possible, is that it?” he spat.
Makino shrugged. “I explained full well to the locals what the risks of experimentation were, and they were paid in accordance with said risks. They willingly consented to infection with the Ua virus.”
“Sophistry,” Osawa huffed. “Nothing more. You used money to deceive a bunch of poor farmers.”
“Come on, Osawa. Who’s being disingenuous now?” Makino eyed him with contempt and let out another puff of smoke.
“I know you, Osawa. And I know you’re not really concerned for some bunch of hick farmers.”
“All you care about is your research!
“The thing that’s really nagging you right now is that someone went ahead and did the final clinicals without you.”
“Oh, spare me the ridicule, sir!”
“As a virologist, I have a moral duty to-”
“To what?!” Makino barked. “Go to the media with this? Do you have any idea how much money the company has thrown at your lab to keep it up and running?”
428 Tip – How much money posted:
Osawa’s lab has incurred expenses of roughly 30 billion yen in developing the antiviral medication. Okoshi Pharmaceutical spends approximately 200 billion yen per year on research and development; Osawa’s work is the single most costly element of that budget.
“I-I do appreciate all the company has done for me, sir.” He spoke so quietly that his voice was nearly inaudible.
“In any event,” Makino said, “now that you know about the human testing, I can’t let you go to America.”
“How...how do you know about that?” He’d insisted that Ai keep his planned relocation a secret, but apparently she’d told her father regardless.
“If you insist on making the move anyway, I’ll use any means necessary to stop you.” Makino regarded Osawa with a bloodshot gaze.
“Any means necessary?” Osawa swallowed the lump in his throat. “Sir, you don’t mean...that my daughter’s kidnapping was-”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Makino said before Osawa could finish. “Of course that wasn’t me. Nevertheless, I’ll do what I must to keep you in line. Remember that.”
“Understood, sir. I’ll turn down the U.S. job offer.” Osawa heard his own voice like the thin drone of a tiny insect. He felt utterly powerless.
“I can’t simply take your word on that,” Makino said.
“Do it now. I want to hear you do it myself.”
HydroSphere fucked around with this message at 22:06 on Feb 26, 2020
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