Seek a way out.
|# ? Feb 27, 2020 00:50|
|# ? Jul 24, 2021 12:14|
Well this silly game got gritty real fast. Stall!
|# ? Feb 27, 2020 15:52|
Seek a way out.
It may look like there's no way to escape, but we have to try.
|# ? Feb 27, 2020 19:46|
“Couldn’t this wait just a little bit, sir?” Osawa asked. Maybe he could still find a way out.
“You already know what my decision is,” Makino said. His tone carried an edge of intimidation.
Osawa didn’t reply; he simply stared at the telephone. He felt like an insect who’d had all its legs plucked off.
“You need to think about your wife, too.” Makino’s words were barely above a murmur.
Realizing that his boss was speaking as Ai’s father, Osawa couldn’t bring himself to resist further. He reached out for the phone. It would be around 10 p.m. local time for the American firm. He decided to call his contact’s personal phone. The headhunter was shocked to hear that Osawa wanted to decline the position. When he pressed for the reasons behind the decision, Osawa hung up.
Visibly relieved, Makino lit up a fresh cigar.
“Sir, there’s one thing I don’t understand.”
“And what’s that?”
Osawa’s head was feeling fuzzy. The smoke inside the vehicle had gotten extremely thick. “If someone has this top secret information, why wouldn’t they threaten the company as a whole? Why send those emails to me, personally?”
“I’m not sure. There’s an internal investigation already underway. We’ll find the source of the leak soon enough.”
At this point, though, Osawa wasn’t sure knowing who originally leaked the info mattered much at all to him. “If you’ll beg my pardon, then, sir,” Osawa said. He put his hand on the door handle.
A sudden, high-pitched chirp sounded from his pocket. The bug tracker Kajiwara had given him had picked up a signal.
“Is that your cell?” Makino asked.
“Ah, oh, yes. That’s mine.” He hurriedly hopped out of the car and reached into his pocket.
“Is everything all right, sir?”
The driver was still waiting outside the car; he leaned toward Osawa, looking concerned.
“Was it you?” Osawa stepped close to the driver.
“Did you send me those emails?”
“What? What are you talking about, sir?”
“Don’t play dumb with me,” Osawa said. “You’re the only person who could have planted a listening device on a company car!”
“Listening device?” The driver raised an eyebrow in confusion.
“What are you after?!”
“Sir, what are you talking about?”
“Who told you to do it?! Tell me!”
The driver fled back into the car.
Osawa clutched the bug tracker hard as he watched the vehicle pull away.
He went back to his house, still gripped by confusion, to find Ai waiting in the entryway. She must have gotten home while he was out.
“You were with my father, weren’t you?” She sneered at Osawa as he slipped off his shoes.
“Yes, I was,” he replied. “And it’s over.”
She knows drat well what. He struggled to contain his irritation. “America. I’m not going,” he huffed.
“Oh really? Well, that is good news.” She sounded sincerely pleased.
Maybe a little more pleased than Osawa cared for. “I need to go finish up some work things,” he mumbled. He hurried to his study up on the second floor.
He threw himself down in front of his computer.
There hadn’t been any progress on the investigation-as usual. Just how long was this all going to go on for? Were all kidnapping cases this drawn out?
428 Tip – Kidnapping cases posted:
A specialized victim support team belonging to the Special Criminal Investigation Unit has been deployed at Osawa’s house. The members of this team are all specialists who have received training in such skills as negotiation, high-speed motorcycle and automobile driving, running phone traces, special communications, and phone records acquisition.
Osawa was growing more and more uneasy; he could barely contain himself at this point. Wasn’t there something-anything-that he could do?
He glanced over at his monitor.
That’s an idea.
He could look up kidnapping investigations on the Internet. That might give him some insight into the current situation.
The engine pulled up over 100,000 hits; he scanned the beginning of the list for anything that might be useful.
One of the site links caught his eye: “How the Police Do It!” It looked like a page containing information on various types of police cases. He clicked on the link for kidnapping cases, and began to read.
Even if the hostage wound up safe in the end, the site informed him, the police lost face if the culprit got away. And if the hostage were killed and the kidnapper evaded capture, the media would have a field day.
This made apprehending the suspect an absolute necessity.
Even if a person’s life was on the line, when it came to a kidnapping case, the police prioritized making the arrest.
Taking his hand off the mouse, Osawa sat back in thought. He wasn’t going to be able to relax until he heard Maria’s voice again.
But if the police prioritized arresting the suspect, why were they just letting things stay in limbo now? Didn’t they have the crooks under surveillance?
He couldn’t wrap his head around that.
The Internet hadn’t been able to give him the info he’d hoped for after all.
Unable to do anything for Maria but wait, he turned his thoughts to how his opportunity to transfer to the U.S. had passed him by. The research facilities in America would have been top-tier; some part of him still couldn’t quite accept what had happened.
He stole a quick look back at the door, then surfed to the Aya Kamiki fan community for people forty and over. Whenever something was weighing on his mind, posting to these forums seemed to turn his mood back around.
He knew that now wasn’t really the time to be doing this, but he needed to do something to calm and quiet his mind.
He started a new forum topic. In the title field, he wrote: “Aya Kamiki Expanding Into the U.S.”
With Aya Kamiki still at the height of her popularity, does anyone else think it would be exciting if she ventured into the American market?
I know I would.
She’s not the sort of artist who deserves to be confined to Japan. She should be recording at an American studio staffed by the industry’s best. I’d love to see her career really take off over there.
He wound up getting into a little back-and-forth with himself. Hopefully he’d get a response from someone else soon.
A sudden shrill noise startled him so much that he nearly cried out. His heart fluttered like that of a young child who’d been caught in some prank.
Realizing that the sound was coming from the bug tracker, he pulled it from his pocket and took a few breaths to steady himself. Evidently, someone had bugged his study as well.
Tracker in hand, he walked toward the center of the room. What direction was the signal coming from? He tried heading over toward the window.
“Here, maybe?” Next, he headed over to his desk.
The bug tracker was picking up signals from all over the room. Had there been that many listening devices planted in here?
“Mr. Osawa? It’s Kajiwara.”
“Ah, perfect timing!” Osawa hurried to let the detective into the study.
“The bug tracker’s picking up signals!”
“Yes, from all over the room! What should I do?!”
“Mr. Osawa, please calm down.”
As if that’s even possible right now.
“It feels like there must be ten-no, maybe a hundred listening devices in here!”
Kajiwara didn’t miss a beat. “Let me be honest with you. That bug tracker is broken.”
“What?” Osawa was dumbfounded. “Broken? But...this is the one I got from you, right?”
“Well, yes. But mine isn’t detecting anything.” Kajiwara produced an identical bug tracker from his pocket. And, as he’d said, it wasn’t getting any signal. “As I recall, Mr. Osawa, that one was dropped on the floor when I was trying to hand it to you.”
“Ah. Yes, that’s right...”
“That must have been when it broke, sir.”
The strength ebbed from Osawa’s body. He didn’t even have the mental energy to be angry anymore. He gave the tracker a whack with the palm of his hand, and the beeping stopped. “Right,” he said, “What can I do for you?”
Kajiwara clapped his hands together, as if he’d just remembered something. “Ah! Right! We have a big problem!”
“The toilet again?” Osawa sighed.
“No, it’s not that! It’s something worse!” Kajiwara’s face turned grim.
|# ? Feb 28, 2020 22:30|
Ah gently caress it, let's hear the clown out.
|# ? Feb 28, 2020 23:46|
Let's listen to him.
|# ? Feb 29, 2020 00:38|
Let's hear him out.
|# ? Feb 29, 2020 01:32|
Had something happened to Maria? He needed to hear the detective out. “What is it?” Osawa asked. “Go on, tell me.” He did his best to remain composed.
“Well, you see...we ordered lunches for everyone, and it looked like there were two still left over, so I wound up eating them.”
There was an awkward pause. Osawa didn’t have the foggiest idea of how to respond.
“My deepest apologies, sir. I ate the lunches intended for you and your wife.”
Kajiwara bowed profusely. “And I really do need to apologize. They were tonkatsu bento boxes, and they were delicious. The meat was so tender, and the batter, so crisp. With each and every bite, the rich flavor just filled my mouth more and more...”
Osawa felt a blood vessel burst in his skull.
“Listen, you. Get your goddamn act together or-” He didn’t get to finish that thought. A pathetic little gurgle sounded from his stomach.
“Ah, see,” Kajiwara said. “You are hungry.” He fussed sheepishly with his hair.
At the talk of food, Osawa realized abruptly that he hadn’t eaten anything since the night before.
“Shall I make something for you?” the detective asked. “This is all my fault, after all.”
“You can cook?” Osawa wasn’t sure how thrilled he was with the idea of Kajiwara 'helping' him.
“You mustn’t judge people based on outward appearances, Mr. Osawa.”
“All right, fine. Go right ahead, then.” His newfound hunger was making it hard for him to think. It would certainly behoove him to eat something. He led Kajiwara to the kitchen.
“What's with that getup?”
“Wearing an apron in the kitchen is a must, sir. Alas, it isn’t while I’m naked.”
“Oh, are you not familiar with the concept of the naked apron? I could demonstrate, if you like.”
428 Tip – Apron posted:
The cartoon character printed on the apron Kajiwara is wearing is one of his own design. It is modeled after the MPD’s mascot. His name is Pinpo-kun.
General Tip – Naked apron posted:
The state of being entirely naked save for an apron. A form of cosplay. The views from the front, rear, and sides all offer a certain appeal, but caution must be advised, as it may be difficult to stop arguing about which presents the loveliest sight once the topic is raised. There are similar, more sexualized “naked” styles as well, such as the naked sock, the naked shoe, naked necktie, naked ribbon, naked scarf, naked collar, and so forth.
“No! That’s quite all right. Where’d you get that apron, anyway?”
“It’s mine, sir.”
“Have you had it with you this whole time?”
“Yes. In here.”
With a smile, Kajiwara pointed to his pocket.
Of course. Osawa eased himself into a chair. His hunger was making him feel weak, and Kajiwara was making him feel like he was losing his mind.
“Oh, this is bad,” the detective said. “I need to whip something up for you fast. Something’s definitely wrong if you don’t even have a comeback.”
Osawa felt his anxiety mounting. Just what sort of food was this insufferable oaf going to make, anyway? Probably nothing worth eating, was his bet.
|# ? Mar 1, 2020 23:10|
Let’s trust the detective.
|# ? Mar 2, 2020 02:58|
I think this guy might actually be worse at his job than Detective Gumshoe. ...Maybe he can cook at least?
|# ? Mar 2, 2020 03:54|
Stick with not-Jamie Oliver.
|# ? Mar 2, 2020 05:50|
For now, he’d just have to pray he wound up with something edible.
Kajiwara peered into the refrigerator. “Goodness. You are remarkably understocked,” he said. “Let’s see-could you please put these in the dinger, Mr. Osawa?”
The detective handed Osawa some frozen lumps of rice.
“The dinger? What the heck is a dinger?”
“The microwave oven, sir.”
Osawa stepped in front of the microwave.
General Tip – Dinger posted:
Named for the sound a microwave oven makes when it has finished heating your food. The microwave at my house doesn’t really go “ding” when the timer reaches zero, though. It’s more just a “beep.” But it doesn’t make sense to call a microwave a “beeper” when that’s already a word that refers to something else.
Unfortunately, he had no idea how to work the controls.
“You should thaw that rice out as soon as possible,” Kajiwara told him.
“I’m actually not sure how to operate this thing.”
“What?” the detective gasped. “You don’t know how to use a microwave?”
Osawa could only nod in silent shame.
“It should be just as simple as turning the dial.”
“Wait, which one?”
“That one, sir. The one on the right.”
Osawa turned the dial, then crossed his arms with a satisfied grin.
“Mr. Osawa? You need to put the rice in first before you do that.”
“Well then why didn’t you say that?!” Osawa snapped.
“I’ve never worked in a kitchen in my life. Don’t ask me to do things that are this difficult.”
“Very well. I’ll handle this from here. Why don’t you get out the bowls and the chopsticks, then, sir?”
“I have no idea where the hell those are kept!”
Kajiwara let out a heavy sigh. “All right, then please just sit and wait, sir,” he said. “And-here, take this.”
Kajiwara pulled out a sheet of bubble wrap from his pocket. “Use your fingers to pop the bubbles. That should help you calm down.”
Too drained to argue, Osawa did as prompted, starting to pop his way along the sheet.
Rather than calm him down, though, it was making him incredibly cross. This felt more like a sort of ridiculous punishment.
“They say you can learn a lot about a household by looking in the fridge, you know.” Kajiwara was cooking something in a frying pan.
“And?” Osawa asked. “Just what have you learned about mine?”
“Hmmm. I’d better not say, sir. You might take offense.”
Osawa snapped another bubble between his fingers.
“Ah, the rice has finished thawing!” Kajiwara topped the steaming bowl of rice with the fried egg he’d whipped up in his pan.
Then, as if it were an afterthought, he added some pickled vegetables.
“Here you are, sir. Your fried egg on rice is complete.” Kajiwara grinned from ear to ear. “Go ahead and eat it while it’s still warm.”
Osawa received the bowl with a dubious look. “You aren’t very good at cooking, are you?” he said.
428 Tip – Fried egg on rice posted:
One of Kajiwara’s simple recipes. Others include his “White spaghetti, which is simply spaghetti that’s been flavored with butter, salt, and pepper after it’s been boiled. Both are a bit too basic to be properly called “cuisine,” but it does take a certain skill to bring the best flavor out of the ingredients with such simple seasonings.
“All you had in your refrigerator were eggs and pickled vegetables, sir. I assure you it’s quite delicious. I recommend breaking the yolk and mixing it all together.”
Reluctantly, Osawa brought a bite to his mouth.
“Mmm. That’s good.” The words came out almost unbidden.
“Isn’t it just? Egg yolk and pickled vegetables pair quite well.”
Osawa couldn’t help but stuff his face, slipping into a rapturous daze as he did. The more he ate, the more it stirred his appetite. “I had no idea fried eggs could be this delicious.”
“I know you probably have a long ordeal still ahead of you, sir. But please, keep your chin up and hang in there.” Kajiwara gave Osawa an amiable smile. “Ah, that’s right,” he continued. “And for dessert, we have bananas.”
“Uh-no, thank you.”
Kajiwara grimaced as Osawa held up a hand in refusal.
“Right, then. When you’re finished eating, would you please wash the bowl?”
“Me? Wash dishes?” Osawa exclaimed in surprise, sounding like a petulant child.
“If someone else cooks for you, you should do the cleaning up. It’s only polite.”
While Osawa was doing the dishes, the bug detector went off again.
“Director, if you have a moment?” Tanaka poked his head into the kitchen. “I've got something urgent to discuss with you.”
|# ? Mar 3, 2020 22:10|
Okay, so Ozawa, Achi, and Minokuru are all at KEEP OUT, so I guess we have to hope that we made one of the correct decisions.
Hopefully Ozawa panicking the driver caused that accident we need, so let's check on the detective. I forget his name.
|# ? Mar 4, 2020 00:42|
“Sorry, sorry.” He bowed his head in apology. He was in too much of a hurry to get caught up in an argument now.
But the girl didn’t let go.
Instead, she tightened her grip.
“L-Look, I’m-I’m sorry for not looking where I was going.” Minorikawa could barely croak out his apology.
“Oh, fine. I’ll let it slide this once,” the girl said. She relaxed her hold with a scowl. “Wait, hold on,” she murmured. She stared good and hard at Minorikawa’s face.
“Hey, you’re Mr. Minorikawa!”
Surprised, Minorikawa gave her another look. “Miku?”
“Yeah! Wow, so you do remember me!” She smiled with delight, apparently forgetting that she’d just been wringing his neck. “Wow, how long’s it been?” she asked.
“About five years, I think? You 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.
General Tip – Bonsai posted:
The mention of ‘bonsai’ likely calls to mind elderly hobbyists, but recently, the art is attracting more young people, as are other aspects of Japanese-style interior design. Varieties of cherry and maple, smaller than normal bonsai, are becoming popular with practitioners, as are fruit-bearing trees such as plumleaf apple. There are even spherical balls of soil covered in moss, shaped to look like cute little miniature planets with plants growing over their surface.
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. “Strong enough to beat those guys up!” And so Minorikawa had introduced Miku to an acquaintance of his who ran a martial arts dojo.
“Well, you’ve sure gotten strong, all right,” Minorikawa said.
“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!
428 Tip – Bride posted:
A ‘show pub’ that began as a side-venture for a group of female mixed martial arts fighters who were facing financial difficulties. There is an octagonal ring inside the pub, and the rules state that ‘anything goes’ between the young women who fight inside. Customers are able to take in the fights while enjoying their drinks.
“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 reigning champion.” Miku beamed with pride.
“Wait-you’re the champion?” Yikes. Good thing I apologized when I did!
“In that case I’ll definitely have to swing by sometime soon! Right now I’m in sort of a hurry, though.”
“Oh, sure,” Miku said. “Catch you later, then.” She headed into the shop as Minorikawa rushed off toward the sales demo.
Even as I’m speaking with the salesclerk, a girl wearing a hoodie comes in. She’s got a tiny frame and a doe-eyed face. “Hey, I’ve come to pick up something I reserved,” she says. This must be the customer the clerk was talking about.
“Please pardon my intrusion! But-would you be willing to let me have these diet drinks?”
I bow extra-deep, and my costume head wobbles all around.
“I’ll pay you double what they’re worth!”
“No can do. I’ve never seen this brand before. I’m super-curious about it.”
“Surely you don’t need this many, though?”
“I do. I make my living with my body. This is about how much I’ll need.”
“Oh, wow,” the salesclerk interjects. “What sort of work do you do, exactly?”
“I’m a martial artist. I fight at a place called Bride. You might have heard of it? It’s one of the more popular hotspots in Shibuya these days.”
“Oh, I know the place!” the salesclerk says, brimming with sudden excitement. “That pub where they have cosplay martial arts competitions, right?”
“Hold on, what are we talking about now? What’s ‘Bride’?” I’ve seriously never heard of the place.
“It’s a nightlife spot where ladies cosplay as anime characters, but they fight for real. I’ve been wanting to check it out, but they’ve hit their membership cap,” the salesclerk explains. “So then, uh, you must be pretty strong, huh?” he says to the girl.
428 Tip – Membership cap posted:
At present, the exclusive Bride has already exceeded its
“Well, I mean. I may not look it, but I’m the current champion.” The girl proudly adopts a fighting stance.
“Would you accept a challenge from me?” I ask.
“If I win, you have to let me have all of this.”
The girl breaks into a confident smile. “Do you have any idea who you’re dealing with here?” she asks.
“I intend to find out.”
“Oh, wow!” the salesclerk exclaims. “I have just got to see this!”
I’m glad to have him egging us on.
“Well, if you’re that set on it, then sure, I accept your challenge.”
Sweet. We’ve established our terms. This Burning Hammer may yet be mine.
The girl cracks her knuckles, clearly eager for a fight.
I’ve gotta win this.
Somehow or another, I have got to.
I mean, I’ve got to be good at something. Facing off against this fighter is going to show me what I’m made of.
|# ? Mar 5, 2020 21:30|
b. Rhyming Game.
I imagine this bit was an utter bitch for the translators, let's appreciate their hard work.
|# ? Mar 5, 2020 21:41|
c. Straight up fight
Well. Let's just give her what she wants. Besides, it'll be funny if this kung-fu is somehow got defeated by a cat.
|# ? Mar 6, 2020 06:35|
C. Fisticuffs. It 100% sounds like a bad end, but it's sure as hell going to be an entertaining bad end.
|# ? Mar 7, 2020 01:51|
b. Rhyming Game.
I support this.
|# ? Mar 7, 2020 02:03|
b. Rhyming Game.
|# ? Mar 7, 2020 02:22|
“Let’s play a rhyming game!”
“Huh?” the girl says. She seems a bit put-off by the suggestion.
“Yeah!” I say. “And if I win, you have to let me have all of these!”
“A rhyming game? Really?”
Okay, then. ‘Really.’
“Um, uh...silly! Okay, then. Glisten!”
“Listen, I’m a martial artist.”
Artist? Ooh, that’s a tough one.
“Err, uhh...aha! Smartest! Umm...glow!”
“No, what I’m saying is I’m a fighter.”
Okay, ‘fighter’ shouldn’t be too hard. I can do this. Just have to not panic.
“Hmm. Let’s see...uhh...writer! Aha! Okay...scissors!”
“What do you mean, ‘scissors’”
“Wait, what the heck is going on?”
Crap. Nothing rhymes With scissors! That’s an illegal move!
I drop into a fighting stance. “Okay, then. Shall we fight?”
The girl grins back at me. “Now you’re talking! The name’s Miku, by the way. Challenge accepted!”
Miku and I march out of the shop. Out on the pavement, we stare each other down.
“So if you win, I’ll let you buy the Burning Hammer,” Miku says. “But if I win, I get to keep it and you have to pay for it.”
“Whuh-? Isn’t that a little unfair?”
“If you don’t like it, then it’s no fight, no deal”
I don’t have the time to rethink this. “Uh, all right!”
“Ready whenever you are!” Miku does a little brisk shadow-boxing, throwing a repeated one-two combination.
General Tip – Shadow-boxing posted:
A training technique for boxing. Involves practicing strikes, guards and evasions against an opponent who isn’t actually there.
“Whoa, what’s the deal?”
“Is something going on?”
“It’s a street fight!”
A number of people pass by, including a businessman, a couple, as well as some pretty gruff-looking fellows, and some of them stop to form a small crowd.
428 Tip – Couple posted:
Achi Endo and Hitomi Osawa. They passed by while running away from some mysterious foreigners.
428 Tip – Gruff-looking fellows posted:
Asao Ozu and his underling, Yutaro Segawa. Members of the Tenryu-gumi yakuza syndicate. The Tenryu-gumi operates a lending firm called Takarada Financing, and these two have been tasked with collecting outstanding debts. They’ve already collected from one client today; next they plan on grabbing lunch before heading off to find their next target.
The sales demo has already started by now. I don’t have time to goof around, here. I watch as Miku starts up her footwork.
On The Move.
A left jab. She’s quick. I can see why she’s the champion.
“Aiya!” She immediately follows up the jab with a wide right hook.
General Tip – Hook posted:
A type of punch. Involves swinging the arm in a wide arc to strike the opponent from the side. In mixed martial arts bouts, it is common to see a fighter continue the momentum from a hook to catch the opponent by the arm, transitioning immediately into a takedown and pin.
I jerk aside at the last possible moment, and deliver a little swat to Miku’s shoulder.
“Whoa!” She slips off balance and pitches forward.
“Oh, wow! What was that?!”
The crowd has started clamoring.
Miku rights herself and gets back into a fighting stance. “What the-how?!” She doesn’t seem to know what just happened.
This time, I watch as she unleashes a kick with her left leg from a distance. On reflex I bring up my right hand and adopt a guarding stance.
“Gotcha!” she calls out.
It was a feint!
There’s a wisceral whump as a second kick connects, coming at me from a different angle.
“Whoa, what gives?”
My big mascot head serves to cushion the blow to the point that I barely feel it.
“Hiii-yahhh!” She proceeds to unleash a string of additional kicks with her left leg, trying to defeat my fuzzy armor.
Eventually I catch hold of her foot. Holding her off balance, I begin to walk her backward, making her hop awkwardly on one leg.
A casual flip of my paw, and Miku goes whirling through the air.
The crowd erupts into cheering and applause at the spectacle.
“Whew, you’re tough...who the heck are you?”
“As you can see, I am a cat.”
A wry smile comes to Miku’s face.
“To think a Bride competitor would lose in a street fight... Guess it’s time to go back to being an ordinary girl. Today is the day I retire.”
“Ah...phew...! Good match, there.”
Miku clasps my hand firmly. “But hey...I’m just glad that my last opponent...was you.”
I hoist up the boxes of the diet drink. “So, um, how much does this come to?” I ask the salesclerk.
He shakes his head. “Oh, don’t worry about payment. You’ve more than earned it with that spectacular display just now. That was really something.”
Heck, even I am shocked at what just happened. It’s amazing what a little desperation will do for you.
“So that move you used-that was some aiki-jujutsu, yeah?”
“Huh? Oh, um, I guess?” I tilt my head noncommittally.
“Come now, no need to be so humble. I’m a martial arts fanatic! I know my moves when I see ‘em!”
He can call it whatever he wants if he’s letting me have the drinks for free; this is going to be a life saver.
General Tip – Aiki-jujutsu posted:
A traditional Japanese martial art that emphasizes learning to anticipate an opponent’s first move and instantaneously counterattack. Skilled practitioners can toss and throw opponents with a simple touch. The art predates the development of the more pacifistic aikido, and so some dangerous techniques still remain.
428 Tip – Martial arts fanatic posted:
Knickknack shop owner Taisei Yasuda watches roughly 350 martial arts fights a year. He is particularly fond of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and is thinking about studying it himself. There’s a dojo he’s been eyeing, but he’s rather timid, and has thus far only waffled noncommittally outside the entrance to the place.
“Is that all the shopping you’ll be doing with us today?” he asks.
Actually, come to think of it... “I do have one request,” I say.
“Could you please not sell that necklace there? I promise I’ll be back to buy it later.”
“Sure! No problem.” The salesclerk gives a deep bow.
I did it. I managed to solve my Burning Hammer problem. Now I’ve just got to get back to the sales demo.
“Oh, that must be awfully heavy. Here, why don’t you use that dolly?” The salesclerk indicates the hand truck over in the corner.
“Oh, thanks so much!” I load the pile of boxes onto the cart and rush back to the Nokane Building.
By now the sales demo will be well underway. I need to get back as soon as I can. If there’s nothing to buy, the customers are going to leave, and everything I’ve gone through will have been for nothing.
C’mon, Tama, you can do it!
Just gotta hurry. I charge for the demo, pushing the dolly ahead of me like a battering ram.
“Ah! Oops! Sorry to keep you waiting!”
“You’re late! What the heck have you been doing?” Mr. Yanagishita practically throws himself at me; the wait must have been killing him. Standing behind him is a man I don’t recognize.
Who is that guy? He doesn’t look like a customer.
“Okay, Tama, just...just come with me for a minute.” I follow Mr. Yanagishita into the break room.
“Sorry I’m late. There was a whole bunch of stuff that happened. But look! I got the product back!" I proudly open up one of the cardboard boxes.
“Ahh! It’s Burning Hammer! It really, really is!” Yanagishita clutches the box close, nuzzling it with his cheek.
“How’s the demo going?” I ask.
“I’ve got Chiri keeping them occupied with some magic tricks.”
I sneak a peek through the door and see Chiri guzzling orange juice from a gigantic container, draining it in one go. “Is...that really a magic trick?”
“If it buys us time, it’s magic enough!”
Before long, the last of the juice is gone. Over in the corner of the stage, I see six more huge containers, all likewise empty. It’s shocking to think that she may have drunk all seven of those things dry. The audience erupts into sincere applause, like they’ve forgotten what they originally came here for.
Chiri comes back to the break room, positively drenched in sweat. “Urgh. I think I shoulda stuck to doing imitations for a little longer.”
“No, that was fantastic, Chiri!” Mr.Yanagishita says. “Just fantastic! Thanks to you, we had enough time to get the Burning Hammer back!” He bows profusely.
“All right, now’s time for the main event. Chiri, go out there and guzzle down some Burning Hammer. Get yourself all drenched in sweat. Got it?”
“Aye aye, boss.”
“And Tama, just go up there, smile all big, and say ‘This helped me lose a bunch of weight, too!’ Got it?”
“Mmm. Good. Now then-” Yanagishita gestures to a man I hadn’t noticed before, who’s been waiting quietly nearby.
“Of course. Begging your pardon, miss.”
It’s a service rep from the rental shop, who proceeds to try to get me out of my mascot suit.
428 Tip – Service rep from the rental shop posted:
Masamichi Fukuma, employee of Far East Costume Rentals. The only son of company president Shigemichi Fukuma, he is one of the few people who know what Shigemichi looks like, as his father is usually clad in a rabbit costume. Masamichi has harbored a strong dislike for both his father and mascot costumes ever since the old man showed up at school on Parents’ Day one year dressed in his inevitable rabbit suit. Nonetheless, the son has acquiesced to his father’s wishes, and some day he’ll inherit the family business.”
“Hmm. Oh? That’s odd.” The rental guy tilts his head.
“What’s the matter?” Yanagishita asks nervously.
“Ah, yeah. This is a no-go.” The rental guy pokes his finger at the back of my suit. “This here zipper? It’s all jammed up. It’s going to take a long time to get this thing off.”
“What the hell?!” Mr. Yanagishita clutches the sides of his head.
The rental guy tries tugging at the costume from various angles, hoping to free up the zipper, but like he said, it’s no use.
The rental guy’s eyes widen at the sudden sound of a cat’s mewling. “Was...that you?” He looks at me, confused.
“Did you hear a cat meowing?”
“Was it you?”
“No, not me.” I’m as surprised as he is.
“Must be hearing things...”
Mr. Yanagishita and Chiri don’t seem to have heard anything.
“Bah!” Yanagishita is fuming. “Just my luck! I finally find a cute model, and the crowd’s never going to see her!”
“Hey boss?” Chiri says. “The customers are gonna leave if you keep them waiting much longer. What do we do? Want me to go out there and do some more impressions?”
428 Tip – Impressions posted:
[Chiriko’s Repertoire of Impressions]
“No. We don’t have any choice. Tama, you’re just gonna have to go out there dressed like that.”
“Are you sure?” I ask.
“If those people go home, we’re done for!” he exclaims. “Just get out there and get started! I’m counting on you two!”
“Ladies! Terribly sorry to have kept you waiting!”
Chiri and I spring into action on stage.
“But now, I’m proud to introduce to you the worldwide sensation that is Burning Hammer! The latest product from the West that has taken the diet world by storm!”
Every seat in the house is packed. That means there’s about forty people here. We only need to sell five bottles to each customer in order to sell out. I’m hit with a sudden jolt of motivation.
“Allow us to explain just how this revolutionary new diet drink works its magic!” Chiri begins.
The plan is for me to describe how the drink works, and then Chiri will demonstrate it with a taste test.
All eyes are fixed on us. I begin. “For the first time in human history, you can drink a single bottle and lose a whole kilogram! Just drink and drink and burn that excess weight away!”
Astonished gasps rise up from the crowd.
“Just take a look at this marvelous red liquid! Even looking at it makes you feel like you’ll be shedding weight, right? Here’s how Burning Hammer works: It activates the capsaicin found in chili peppers...” I pause to take a deep breath before continuing.
General Tip – Capsaicin posted:
The primary spice component of chili peppers. Said to be effective for improving blood flow and stimulating the burning of fat. Because it is a severe skin and eye irritant, it is also an ingredient in some forms of pepper spray for personal defense.
“...and, ah, rapidly breaks down the triglycerides responsible for causing obesity!”
Again, the crowd hums with excitement. This response is better than I could have hoped. We’re off to a terrific start.
General Tip – Obesity posted:
Though the term is frequently used in recent years to simply refer to the state of being overweight, obesity in the clinical sense is a medical condition involving interrelated health issues including excess body fat, hyperlipidemia, and hyperglycemia. Individuals suffering from obesity are at high risk of complications such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea.
“And now, this young lady here will demonstrate Burning Hammer’s effects before your very eyes!”
Chiri steps into the spotlight.
“Just wait ‘til you see how much she sweats-proof that the fat is being burned right there on the spot!”
Chiri holds a bottle of Burning Hammer up high.
“Cheers!” she says. As she opens the bottle, however, one of the women in the front row speaks up.
“Hold on. She’s already sweating pretty hard!”
She’s right; Chiri’s drenched in sweat from head to toe.
Another woman chimes in, suspicious. “Alla that juice-drinkin’ from earlier-that was all just to make ‘er sweat like that, weren’t it?” All of a sudden, the crowd is in an uproar.
“No, no, not at all! Drinking Burning Hammer makes you sweat way more than this!” I rush to towel off Chiri’s sweat for her. “Go on, hurry up! Drink it down!”
Chiri’s face screws up unpleasantly as she gulps down the bottle.
And the sweat doesn’t come.
“Gaaah! Why isn’t it working?” I exclaim, the audience momentarily forgotten.
“Guess I’ve already sweated out too much,” Chiri replies, unfazed.
“Well why were you were sweating so much?!”
“Look, you were taking forever at the 100-yen shop.’
The crowd shifts from uproar into riot.
“Did she just say 100-yen shop?!” Scowling customers begin to close in.
“N-No, that’s not it! You’ve got it all wrong! Please just listen!”
“Oh, we can see what’s going on here!” The situation has gotten out of our control.
“Look-this product is so valuable that a 100-yen shop is about the only way we could get it!” Uh-oh. I think I just put my foot in it. The customers glare at me, their eyes bright with rage.
|# ? Mar 8, 2020 21:20|
CHOP THEM INTO PIECES
|# ? Mar 8, 2020 22:53|
Let's play it off
Thank you for the LP of this, by the way!
|# ? Mar 9, 2020 18:02|
“Hunk o’ lamb chop!” It’s a clumsy attempt to force it off, but it’s my only option.
“She said, ‘Hunk o’ lamb chop!’” I repeat. “Meaning that Burning Hammer is just so incredibly filling, having just one tiny bottle will feel like you’ve eaten a big, meaty meal! Yeah. That’s what she meant.”
“Uh-huh,” sneers one customer. “Sure.”
“Do they really sell this at 100-yen shops?”
Rats. We didn’t manage to distract them. “Hmm? A 100-yen shop? Uh, what’s that? Ahahahaha.”
“Answer me! Do they really sell these at hundr-”
“Look!” I cry.
“It’s the chupacabra!” I thrust my arm out to point-only to accidentally catch one of the attendees in the head with my fuzzy fist.
The the woman lets out a muted groan and sinks to the ground, unconscious. The rest of the crowd stares at me, stunned.
“Uh...oops?” I murmur.
“Tama!” shouts Mr. Yanagishita, rushing out of the break room. “What the heck are you doing? Abort! Abort!” he howls. “If you let these people know the truth about this stuff they’ll never buy it!”
“Uh-oh. Now you’ve done it.” Chiri doesn’t hesitate to point the finger at him, her stare ferocious.
“Uh...whoops.” Realizing what he just blurted out, Mr. Yanagishita is aghast.
Now there really is no saving this.
The customers descend upon Mr. Yanagishita, their wrath a terror to behold.
“So then it is true!”
“What the hell are you trying to pull?!”
“1 can’t believe you’d try to sell this crap for these prices!”
The throng goes on the attack.
Chiri and I force our way through the angry mob, hoping to find some way to calm these people down.
Cursing and profanity fill the air.
The shouts are accompanied by merciless, open-handed slaps. I get all jostled and tumbled about, and my mascot costume takes a bad beating.
Finally, the storm passes.
“It’s over...It’s...it’s all over!” Mr. Yanagishita wails to the empty room.
“So, um, boss? About getting paid...” Even Chiri seems hesitant to ask.
“Yeah, that’s...not gonna happen. Obviously.” Yanagishita doesn’t so much as look up; his shoulders slump further in defeat.
“I’ll take payment-in-kind, then,” Chiri says. “Mind if I take this Burning Hammer home with me?”
“Sure,” Yanagishita says lifelessly. “Go right ahead.”
“All right, I’ll be off, then. Later, Tama!”
Chiri picks up the cardboard boxes and heads out.
“Um...sir?” It’s the man from the rental place. “I believe you still owe me for the costume rentals?”
“Oh. Right. How much was it again?” Mr. Yanagishita rummages in his pockets.
“Well, given the severe damage, I’m afraid I have to add the full cost of the cat suit to your bill. Your total comes to two hundred thousand yen.”
“Wuzzat? Two hundred yen?!”
“No, sir. Two hundred thousand.”
“Hmm? Sorry, I can’t hear at all. I think I might’ve ruptured my eardrum.”
“Two hundred thousand yen, sir!”
“Okay, okay.” Yanagishita takes all the cash he has in his wallet and holds it out reluctantly.
“That’s only twenty thousand, sir.” The rental guy furrows his brow. “ I’m afraid this won’t cover it.”
“I understand that. But I don’t got no more than this.”
"'Don’t got no more?’ Sir, please. You’re not a child.”
“Then gimme a discount. Make it twenty thousand.”
“Instead of the two hundred you owe? You know I can’t do that, sir.”
But Mr. Yanagishita refuses to back down.
“Ah! That’s right! Insurance! I got insurance in the event the suit wound up damaged!”
“No, you didn’t.”
“No, I did!”
“You did not, sir.”
“Noooo, I diiiid!”
“Then where’s your paperwork to prove it?!”
Yanagishita calmly claps a hand to his chest.
“Right here. The paperwork is here inside my heart.”
The rental guy clutches the sides of his head in exasperation. And believe me, I feel his pain.
“You know what? Never mind. I’m going to leave this to my boss.” Turning his back on the ruins of the sales demo, he slumps his way out of the room.
428 Tip – Couple posted:
Shigemichi Fukuma, president and owner of Far East Costume Rentals. Notable for the fact that he’s usually wearing his favorite rabbit costume. To Shigemichi, his costumes are like his children. If he were to hear that one of his suits had been ruined, he would probably never forgive Yanagishita, adding to the man’s already considerable list of enemies.
Now it’s just me and Mr. Yanagishita.
“Please try not to let it get you down so much, sir,” I say, as cheerfully as I can muster.
He’s already down on the floor, a sobbing mess.
“You wouldn’t know what it’s like...to feel so utterly hopeless...”
“I think I might have an idea, sir. In fact I’m sure of it.”
“At this point there’s nothing more I can possibly do.” He slumps forward, trembling like a willow tree.
“Things will turn around soon enough, I’m sure.”
“You don’t know me like I know me,” he says. “There’s not going to be any turnaround. Not after this.”
Okay, now this little pity-party is starting to piss me off.
“You know, if you think you’re the only person who’s had a run of bad luck, you are dead wrong!” I wind up shouting the words louder than I intended.
Mr. Yanagishita whips his head back up. “Yikes, where’d that come from?”
“I need to tell you something. I...” My pent-up emotions come surging to the surface. "I...I have amnesia!”
Yanagishita’s eyes go wide. “What?!”
“I can’t remember anything from before this morning! My name, how old I am, where I live-any of it! I would much rather be in your shoes, sir!”
Mr. Yanagishita looks at me with a hint of disbelief.
General Tip – Can't remember anything posted:
In short, amnesia.
“So where’d you get the name Tama, then?”
“I thought of it when I saw the tamagoyaki in those lunch boxes.”
“Aha! Tamagoyaki...Tama...I get it!” He claps himself on the thighs, as if he’s had some big eureka moment.
“But wait, how come you lost your memories?”
“Well I don’t know for certain-obviously. I don’t remember! But I’m pretty sure I took a hard blow to the head. When I came to, I was inside of a storehouse, with a massive headache.”
A surge of vertigo washes through me as I recall waking up in that strange dim place.
“Yeah. I had just gotten out of there when you flagged me down, sir.”
“Huh. Really? So is it pretty unnerving, then? Not knowing who you are?” He sounds like he’s taking me seriously, now.
“Yeah, it sure is; but it’s not going to do me any good to just fret over it. And besides, I’ve got a clue.”
“What sort of clue?”
“There’s a necklace I saw at a knickknack shop-the same place I found the Burning Hammer. Somehow I know that it’s important to me.”
“And so you took this job so you could afford to buy it?”
I nod. Of course, now that the job has ended in a total bust, I’ve lost my shot at getting it.
“Okay, then.” Mr. Yanagishita removes his shoe, then yanks out the insole. “This here really is the last of my money.” He pulls out twenty thousand yen, adds it to the other twenty thousand from his wallet, and thrusts it all toward me. “Here you go,” he says. “That includes the reimbursement for the Burning Hammer you picked up.”
I pluck up two of the 10,000-yen bills between my fingertips. “I actually didn’t have to pay for it, so the twenty thousand we agreed upon is fine. But...how about you, sir? Are you going to be okay? Like, after all this?”
“Compared to your misfortunes, mine are nothing. They might send me up the creek without a paddle, but I’ll bounce back somehow. I’m sure of it. And then....” Clutching his fist, Mr. Yanagishita gets a far-off look in his eye.
“And then, one more time, I’m gonna go see a Bride fight!”
My jaw nearly drops. “Bride, like, the martial arts pub?”
“Wait, you know about Bride? Man, I’ve spent so much money at that place!”
Wow. It is a small world.
“Especially that Miku...heeheehee! I wonder how much she has made me spend?”
I’m pretty sure I just accidentally forced her into retirement, but I decide to keep quiet on that front.
He nods. “To be honest, the reason I borrowed all that money was to pay my tabs at that place. And I had to borrow from some pretty shady sources, too.”
I can’t help but suspect that this poor guy got a real raw deal.
“Why don’t you take that mascot costume with you?”
“Huh? I mean, I don’t really need it.”
“No, no, I insist. Take it with my blessing.”
“Uh...sure. I’ll be on my way, then.”
Out in the hallway, I pass by the man I’d noticed earlier, the one I didn’t recognize. Odd. The sales demo’s over. I wonder why he’s still here? I give him a faint nod, and he nods back before slipping into the demo room. I should keep my fingers crossed for the guy.
At last, I’m back outside the building.
I feel bad about not returning the cat suit to the man from the rental place. Still, I can’t just walk around town wearing this thing. I’ll stick out like a sore thumb.
I figure it’s best to just leave it behind.
And then it dawns on me: “Hold on! I still can’t get this thing off!”
|# ? Mar 12, 2020 22:15|
Hwurmp fucked around with this message at 23:36 on Mar 12, 2020
|# ? Mar 12, 2020 22:54|
B. Probably shouldn't waste any more time trying to get the costume off.
|# ? Mar 12, 2020 23:56|
|# ? Mar 13, 2020 05:47|
B - Let's keep our disguise a little longer. I hear there are dangerous foreigners trying to kidnap people these days, and the costume should keep us safe.
|# ? Mar 13, 2020 23:25|
Guess this cat’s staying in the bag. I figure I’ll head to the knickknack shop as-is.
General Tip – Guess this cat’s staying in the bag posted:
As luck would have it, they soon found a crowd in their path, backs turned toward them.
Excited voices rose up from the throng.
“Whoa, what’s the deal?”
“Is something going on?”
“It’s a street fight!”
General Tip – Street Fight posted:
A fight, as the name implies, that takes place out on the street, typically using bare hands and no weapons. Even a barehanded fight can result in serious injuries, though, which is why they’re pretty illegal.
Achi clutched Hitomi’s hand good and tight. “Whatever you do, don’t let go!” Without a moment’s hesitation, he plowed his way through the crowd.
Emerging on the far side of the gathering, Achi saw the main road ahead. Cars were zipping past in a steady stream. What do we do?
There were too many cars for them to rush across the street without getting hit. But they couldn’t exactly just sit and wait for the light to change. And they certainly couldn’t go back the way they came. Their pursuers were getting closer and closer.
“We’re going across!”
Dragging Hitomi by the hand, Achi darted out into the street. Moving purely by instinct, he wove his way through the gaps between the speeding cars.
When they were halfway across, a car slammed on its brakes to keep from hitting them, causing several cars behind it to crash into one another. The multi-vehicle pileup plunged the roadway into total chaos. In a matter of moments, the street was clogged with a long line of stopped vehicles. Achi and Hitomi’s pursuers remained on the other side, and did not pursue.
428 Tip – Total Chaos posted:
As a result of this chaos, traffic in the nearby area will be at a standstill for a while. While on their way to the syndicate hideout, Shinya Kano and Jack Stanley have gotten caught in this traffic jam.
“Okay...that...that was crazy...” Hitomi panted as she caught her breath.
“Well, you know what they say: idle feet are the devil’s playthings.”
“Hands. It’s idle hands.”
Whatever. At least they’d gotten away.
“C’mon, let’s go.” Achi led the way down several twisting side streets before slowing his pace. By now Hitomi was slumped and panting heavily. He wanted to give her some time to rest, but if they just hung around, their pursuers might still find them.
He looked around and spotted a multi-tenant building; the nearest door was open.
Bundles of flyers were set out near the entrance.
Achi peeked inside and saw piles of plywood and painted lumber. It looked like this was a storeroom for a theatre's stage props and scenery. “We can hide out in here,” he said.
“Um, but...” Hitomi hesitated, but Achi gave her hand a little tug.
“It’ll be fine. There’s nobody around.” They stepped inside the storeroom and Achi quickly shut the door behind them. “We should probably rest for a bit,” he said.
There was a wooden platform set up beside a large piece of plywood.
Achi picked up a magazine that had fallen on the floor and spread it out atop the platform’s dusty surface. “Here, now you can sit without getting your clothes dirty.”
“Thank you.” Hitomi quietly took a seat.
“We should probably turn off our cell phones,” Achi said. “It could be really bad if they rang at the wrong moment.”
The two powered off their phones.
Achi took a cursory look around. It didn’t look like there was any way in or out besides the door they’d come in through. There was a single window set in the wall, but it wouldn’t open far enough to let them through.
“Ah!” Hitomi let out a quiet gasp. Someone was outside the storeroom.
Achi put a finger to his lips, and Hitomi gave a fearful nod. The window’s frosted glass blocked any real view in or out. So long as they stayed quiet, they ought to be safe.
Whoever was outside pressed their face to the frosted glass, trying to get a glimpse inside. The blurry visage of the foreigner who’d attacked them was dimly visible. Like the man with the cane before him, this guy was quick to catch up.
The man pounded on the glass. Achi swallowed the lump in his throat. If this guy got in, they had nowhere to run.
|# ? Mar 14, 2020 21:56|
I feel like if they run, they'll get caught, so B.
|# ? Mar 16, 2020 07:15|
“We’ll be fine. Just sit tight.”
Hitomi clutched onto Achi’s arm, hard.
“Can I help you with something?” said a casual voice from outside.
They saw their pursuer react at once, pulling back from the window.
“That’s just our storeroom, you know,” the voice added.
Achi heard footsteps scampering away.
The kidnapper had run off. Achi exchanged glances with Hitomi and let out a tiny sigh.
There were more voices coming from outside now. “What was up with that guy?”
“I dunno. Ngh, ach.”
“Ah, whatever. Let’s just hurry and get stuff tidied up.”
“Hnngh! Man, my throat’s raw.” It sounded like a conversation between two men.
The storeroom door opened, and the men clomped their way inside. “So what are we getting? Ach, urgh.”
“Let’s grab all those folding chairs over there.”
“The producer said we’re gonna need a lot more seats, all of a sudden.”
428 Tip – The men posted:
Tomonari Takaya and Taro Toga, two members of the theater troupe, the Wandering Angels.
“Mr. Oarai said that? Going all-out for the troupe’s last hurrah, huh?”
“Beats me, man.” In no real hurry, the men went about carting the folding chairs away. They didn’t notice Achi and Hitomi sitting silently in the shadows.
“Mmf, urgh. Not to change the subject, but how come we’re using a dry ice machine and not a smoke machine? Hmm. Maybe that’s why my throat’s bothering me? Ack, ungh.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty weird. Nobody’s even operating it and it’s still drawing a ton of power.”
“Think it’s defective? Ugh, urk.”
Achi and Hitomi waited for the two men to finish up. If they were spotted, it would probably cause a scene-and worse still, it might alert the men who were hunting them.
Once they’d carried off the rest of the folding chairs, the men closed the storeroom door. The foreigner could still be somewhere nearby, though, so Achi decided they should hide out in the room a little longer.
“Gah, this blows. I want to get back out there to look for that blue van ASAP, but...” Achi trailed off as something occurred to him. “Wait a second...Now that’s weird.”
“Hmm?” Hitomi looked at him inquiringly.
“The kidnappers already have the ransom money, yeah?” Achi said.
“And then they told you that your sister was in some blue minivan. Isn’t that kind of weird?”
“What do you mean?”
“Did you figure that your sister was in the minivan by herself?”
“Well, yes. If one of the kidnappers were with her, they wouldn’t need to send me to go get her.
“Right,” Achi said.
And yet the fact was that as soon as the kidnappers had their money, they could have let Hitomi’s sister out of the vehicle and just run off. There was no point in sending Hitomi to fetch her personally.
A look of revelation dawned on Hitomi’s face. “Oh!”
“That minivan had already left Dogenzaka,’ she said.
“And it came back while we were there waiting for it,” Achi finished. He thought back to his earlier run-in with the blue vehicle. “So then inside that minivan...”
|# ? Mar 16, 2020 23:10|
Yeah.. they don't have her sister anymore, so clearly, they still needed Hitomi as leverage. Or she was the one they wanted the whole time. A.
|# ? Mar 16, 2020 23:35|
The kidnappers had been trying to ambush Hitomi. They’d told her that her sister was in that minivan to lure her to it! And the kidnappers had been lying in wait inside.
“Do you think they were trying to kidnap me, too?”
“That’s it!” Achi clapped his hands together. “Then they’d let your sister go and demand a ransom for you. And then they’d make her deliver the ransom money for your release. They’d be able to get, like, infinite ransom money by constantly abducting one twin after the other!”
“That seems...a little farfetched.”
“Oh. Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Now that she’d said so, Achi realized it was kind of a ridiculous idea.
“Still, what if the kidnappers really were trying to kidnap me?” Hitomi said.
“As in, like, they accidentally abducted the wrong twin? I mean I guess that woulda been easy to botch up.”
“That would imply that they wanted me, specifically, and not my sister.” Hitomi paused briefly in thought.
“Maybe you’re hotter than your sister or something?” Achi suggested with enthusiasm.
Hitomi shook her head. “That can’t be it. If anything it’s the other way around. Compared to my sister, I’m just...”
“Whoa, hey, stop right there!” Achi had to interrupt her. “You’re not ‘just’ anything!”
“Please, don’t. I am, I’m just...” Tears had welled up in Hitomi’s eyes. “Why...why’d this have to happen to her? Why not me?”
“Whoa, hey. C’mon, don’t cry.”
“Cheer up. It’s like that song says. ‘Don’t just stand there / Wipe those tears away.’ That one. You know it?”
“Is that...Aya Kamiki?”
“Yeah, that’s the one! ‘Put your hand in mine / every single bee’s a light.”’
“You know. ‘Every single bee’s a light.'”
Hitomi let out a giggle. “Everything will be all right.”
“You’ve got the lyrics wrong. It’s ‘Everything will be all right.’”
“Ahh. Right. Yeah, I guess that makes more sense. I guess.” Achi’s mouth curled into a sheepish smile.
“All right, I think we’ve laid low long enough,” Achi said at last. “Think we should be on our way?” He was about to get to his feet when he heard voices outside the storeroom again.
“Yikes. That was pretty careless of us.”
“Yeah, we definitely gotta watch it. Hurgh,ungh.’ The theater guys from earlier had returned, and they sounded a bit panicked.
“Heard folks have been messing with the storeroom a bunch recently.”
“Nngh, yuh-huh. And didja hear who’s behind it? Some juvenile delinquents.”
428 Tip – Theater guys posted:
Tomonari Takaya and Taro Toga, two members of the theater troupe, the Wandering Angels.
“Like a gang? Wow, that takes me way back. All right, let’s hurry on back.”
Achi rushed over to the door. He tried turning the knob, but the door wouldn’t budge. “Oh, come on! Are you freakin’ kidding me?!” He paced frantically around the room, pulling at his hair. “We're locked in!”
And that door was the only way in or out. Achi and Hitomi were well and truly trapped inside the storeroom.
“This is all my fault!” Achi said. “It was my idea to hide out here in the first place.” He bowed to Hitomi repeatedly. “We’re never gonna be able to find that blue minivan now.”
“Guess we’ll have to get someone on the outside to help us,” Hitomi replied. She scowled thoughtfully.
They powered their phones back on in order to call for help. The big question was who they could possibly ask.
“Hitomi, anyone you can reach out to?”
“Hmm. Mr. Tanaka, I suppose?”
“Tanaka. Right.” The suggestion didn’t exactly thrill Achi. He had no idea what this Tanaka guy was like. Hopefully he was the dependable sort who’d actually show up to rescue them. But somehow, that thought made Achi feel even worse.
Achi had someone he figured he could call; but he hesitated, uncertain. There had been a time when he’d trusted this guy more than anyone. They’d bailed each other out of countless jams. Nowadays, though, things were different.
Hitomi gave Achi a puzzled look as he sat, lost in thought.
“Right-guess I don’t have much of a choice.” Achi scrolled through the contacts list on his cell phone. He found a name he had thought he’d never call again: Susumu.
“Achi? Is that you?” Susumu’s voice was low and guarded.
“Look, I’ve got a favor to ask you. I’m in a real bind, here.”
“Like, things are ridiculously bad. I thought mayyybe you could help me out a little bit.”
“You seriously thought I’d help you?” Susumu’s words were like ice. “You messing with me or something, man?” Now he sounded a touch angry, as well.
Painful memories flashed before Achi’s eyes. “Right, then. Sorry to bug you. Just forget it-”
But Susumu hung up before Achi was even finished talking.
“No dice,” Achi said to Hitomi with a lopsided frown.
She looked back at him, her expression a mirror of his own. “What should we do?”
“Hmm. What should we do?”
“I guess we’re back to Mr. Tanaka.”
“Guess so. You wanna go ahead, then?”
Hitomi tried calling him repeatedly, but Tanaka didn’t pick up. “What could have happened?” she muttered under her breath. “Do you think maybe the kidnappers found out that Mr. Tanaka and I have been in contact?”
Achi shrugged. It looked like they were just going to need to find some way out of here on their own, and then maybe look for the minivan themselves.
Achi strode over to the door and grabbed hold of the knob. He tried giving it a good, sturdy pull. “Ugh. No good. The thing won’t even budge.”
“That door opens outward.”
“Wait, really?” Achi tried giving it a push. It still didn’t open. He kicked it. “Oho!” The door wasn’t nearly as sturdy as Achi had expected. “I think I can make this work!” He backed up to get a running start, then kicked the door with all his might. “Hi-yaaah!”
The door went flying off its hinges.
“Aw, man. That was way too easy."
Achi stepped cautiously out of the storeroom. He quickly scanned the surrounding area. There was nobody in sight. “Looks like we’re in the clear!” he called. But Hitomi didn’t come out, nor did she reply. “Hitomi?”
She had her phone in hand, apparently still trying to get in touch with Tanaka. With a tiny sigh, Achi leaned against the wall and waited for her to finish.
“Doesn’t look like I’m going to have any luck,” she said.
“You know we can leave now, right? Are you still holding out hope for your Mr. Tanaka?”
“It’s not that. I’m just a little worried.”
“Oh yeah? Okey-dokey, then. I’ll just, uh, wait around out here.”
“Okay! I’ll be right with you.”
“Uh-huh.” Achi shuffled his way back outside.
Oh, crap. By the time Achi could finish processing the thought, he was already laid out on the ground. His jaw hit the asphalt hard; he hit the tip of his tongue clean off. The taste of blood filled his mouth.
A moment later, he took a sharp blow to the head.
He was done for.
All the energy drained from his body. His mind whirled. His vision grew hazy. He began to drift from consciousness.
Back when he’d run with Susumu and the others, he’d never left himself exposed to a surprise attack. There were plenty of times when he’d taken a punch that sent him reeling, only to spin away and come back swinging. This time, he hadn’t even seen it coming. It was his last mistake.
Heh. Guess I’ve let myself go soft. Achi grimaced inwardly, muttering in a voice no one but he could hear. Hitomi, I’m so sorry.
|# ? Mar 18, 2020 22:02|
Well Taka caused the traffic accident to save our detective friend and I think everyone else is still at a Keep Out, so let's head back to him.
|# ? Mar 19, 2020 03:05|
The car moved at a glacial pace toward the crime syndicate’s hangout. Stanley pounded his fists on the steering wheel in frustration. They had no sooner set out than the traffic slowed to a near a standstill. Despite the occasional lurch, it never crept above a crawl.
Kano stewed in the passenger’s seat. The case was rapidly getting out of hand. Now he had to worry about the safety of both Maria and her sister Hitomi-never mind the fact that Detective Tateno had also gone missing. There were too many unknowns, too many uncertainties. His unease was growing unbearable.
“Also, uh, Tateno hasn’t radioed in. And like, we can’t reach him from our end, either.”
Kuze’s words kept echoing inside Kano’s head. What could have caused Tateno to drop out of contact? Someone had gone after Hitomi while Kano and the others were busy trailing the attaché case. Could Tateno have been-
No, it couldn’t be. Kano was sure Tateno would have done whatever was necessary to keep Hitomi safe.
Stanley broke the long silence. “What’s on your mind? Still thinking about that call from Kuze?”
Kano didn’t answer.
“Look, if you’re worrying about that other detective-the guy couldn’t even protect one girl,” Stanley continued. “Not exactly a ringing endorsement.”
“Don’t you talk about Detective Tateno that way.”
“I’m concerned about Hitomi Osawa, but the missing attaché case needs to come first.” Stanley’s expression remained stone cold.
Kano flashed him a sidelong glare, then went back to staring out the window. A moment later, a flurry of motion in a nearby alley caught his eye.
With a start, he recognized Sasayama. His fellow detective was caught up in an altercation with a man in dark clothes. Kano sprang into action, his body moving almost before his mind registered the situation. “Sasayama!” Flinging the door open, he leapt out of the car.
“Hey, wait!” Stanley called after him. But Kano was already sprinting toward the fight.
The other man knocked Sasayama onto a pile of garbage. As Sasayama struggled to get back to his feet, his opponent looked down at him with a triumphant sneer.
Kano finally got a good look at the man, and his eyes flashed with recognition. It was the perp who’d first taken the attaché case back at the scramble-Tariq al-Karawan.
“You!” Kano growled. He sped like a bullet to tackle al-Karawan around the legs.
But al-Karawan nimbly stepped aside. Kano’s arms closed on nothing but air.
At the same moment, al-Karawan deftly wrapped an arm around Kano’s neck.
Kano felt a viselike pressure on his carotid artery. His consciousness quickly began to slip away. “Oh no you don’t, you bastard!” he snarled. Lowering his center of gravity, he got hold of one of al-Karawan’s legs and used his shoulder as a fulcrum against it.
General Tip – Pressure on his carotid artery posted:
A move known as the “front choke sleeper hold.” Constricting the carotid artery stops blood flow to the brain, causing the opponent to lose consciousness. Also known as a guillotine choke.
“Nngh!” Despite the arm still crushing his neck, Kano managed to lift his opponent high into the air.
He continued the movement to heave al-Karawan up and over himself, slamming him upside down into the heap of trash.
Stanley strolled up to the aftermath of the struggle. “Well, you’ve got the ‘brawn’ part down,” he said. “Need some work on the ‘brains.’”
Al-Karawan was sprawled out atop the mound of refuse. He’d been knocked out cold.
Sasayama coughed and sputtered. Kano went to help him to his feet, but Stanley stepped in between them.
“What are you doing?” Stanley asked.
“Helping Sasayama. What does it look like?”
“We need to apprehend al-Karawan first.”
“He’s not even conscious. Sasayama can come first.” He pushed Stanley aside and crouched down alongside his partner.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Sasayama groaned. “You bailing me out, though. Can’t let the missus know about that.”
“Mum’s the word,” Kano said. He slipped an arm underneath Sasayama and helped him to his feet.
“I managed to find the guy who had the attaché case,” Sasayama said, “but when I tried to arrest him, this fella came out of nowhere and attacked me.” He flashed al-Karawan a nasty look.
“So here we go again, disobeying direct orders,” Stanley huffed. “What’s the deal with Japanese police, anyway?” He shook his head in exasperation.
Sasayama gave Kano a puzzled look, jerking his thumb at the American. “Who’s this guy?”
“It’s a long story,” Kano said. He filled Sasayama in on the situation.
“Enough chit-chat. Hurry up and cuff this guy,” Stanley said.
Kano knelt down by al-Karawan’s unconscious body, flipped him over, and proceeded to cuff his hands behind his back.
“Hm?” Kano paused. Al-Karawan’s sleeve had slid back from his wrist. “What’s this?”
The unconscious man had a tattoo of a two-headed scorpion on his left forearm. Stanley strode over. “You find something?” he asked.
“Yes. I think this guy might be the ringleader.” Seeing the image had reminded Kano of something he’d heard back at headquarters: that the head of the foreign syndicate had a scorpion tattoo. He relayed this information to Stanley.
Stanley called up Kuze on his cell. “You’ll be happy to know that the guy with the attaché case is still at large,” he said. “Apprehending the ringleader at this point shouldn’t be an issue. One of your so very capable subordinates gave us a big step forward in the case, here.”
“Wait a second,” Sasayama murmured. “That was sarcasm, wasn’t it?”
Stanley hung up and called over to him.
“Think you can escort this guy back to the precinct?”
“Yeah, sure. Seeing how very capable I am.”
Kano felt his phone vibrate.
The display showed an incoming call from Rumi. “Hello?” he answered warily, keeping his voice down. Stanley had him a little on edge.
“It’s me.” It was Shizuo.
Dammit! Kano thought. He did not have time for this right now.
|# ? Mar 19, 2020 23:16|
Let's listen to what he's got to say. He is effectively holding Kano's chance at marriage over our head, so we shouldn't screw up another hostage situation.
|# ? Mar 21, 2020 14:52|
Kano decided he better listen to what the old man had to say. “Hello, sir. I’m afraid I’m not really at liberty to take a personal call right now, even if it is from my father-in-law.” He did his best to sound apologetic.
“I’m not your father-in-law.”
“Ah, yes-of course. Sorry, sir!” He bowed his head reflexively, feeling like an idiot.
“You really don’t give a drat about keeping me waiting like this, do you?”
“Sir, I swear to you, I feel terrible. Please, I just-” Flustered, he took a deep breath and recomposed himself. “I promise you, Sir! I promise I’ll be there. If you can just wait a little whi-”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep!” Shizuo’s barking rebuke made Kano break out in a sweat. “You think I’m gonna let you off the hook just because you’re working a case? This is exactly why I don’t want my daughter with some detective!”
Great. Another angry tirade. “But didn’t you used to be a detective, sir?” Kano muttered.
“You watch yourself, you little brat! It’s not enough that you keep calling me your father-in-law, now you have to bring that up?”
Evidently, Kano had touched a raw nerve. It seemed like anything he said only made matters worse.
“Well, you’re not off the hook!” Shizuo continued. “I am never letting my daughter marry the likes of you!”
General Tip – Raw nerve posted:
Ever have a dentist hit a nerve while drilling a tooth? That’s where this expression comes from.
His fury hitting its crescendo, Shizuo promptly hung up.
Why on earth did Shizuo hold such intense malice toward police detectives when he’d been one himself? Kano had become a detective for Rumi’s sake in the first place-and now it was the biggest thing holding him back.
“Hey. C’mon, let’s go.”
Stanley’s voice snapped Kano out of his daze. Ugh. Grimly he followed the American back to the car.
Yet again, Stanley was thumping the steering wheel in frustration. Traffic hadn’t let up one bit. It was starting to look like they might never make it to the foreign syndicate’s hangout.
Kano caught sight of a girl in a hoodie weaving her way between the stopped cars on foot. He rolled down the window and called out to her. “Excuse me, miss? Did something happen?”
428 Tip – Girl in a hoodie posted:
Miku Morita. Was a fighter at the cosplay fighting pub Bride, but just decided to retire after losing to Tama the cat in a street fight. She’s thinking about what to do with herself now.
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“With the road, I mean. What’s with all the traffic?”
“Oh, right. Apparently there was some big accident over by the train station. That’s probably what’s causing it.”
“Yeah. I don’t think you guys are gonna be going anywhere for quite a while.” She smiled and went on her way.
Stanley gave the steering wheel another punch. “Well, I guess they did say this wasn’t just some typical ransom case,” he muttered.
Kano saw an opportunity.
“If they’re not after the money, then what are they after?”
Stanley kept his eyes forward, acting as if he hadn’t heard.
“Look,” Kano said. “I can’t help you if you keep me out of the loop.”
After a few moments of thought, Stanley replied with a single monosyllable.
“Maria’s father, Kenji Osawa. I assume you’re aware he works for Okoshi Pharmaceutical?”
“Nothing’s been made public yet, but Osawa recently oversaw the development of a new drug.
And someone is trying to get their hands on it.”
Kano’s mind latched onto this new information, trying to assemble the pieces of an evolving puzzle. “Someone? Who?”
General Tip – New drug posted:
It is not at all uncommon for a new drug to be in development for 15 years or more with expenses totaling 20 to 30 billion yen (roughly 200 to 300 million U.S. dollars) before it is approved. Worldwide demand and sensational profits can be expected if a groundbreaking medicine is developed; nonetheless, pharmaceutical companies are often under major pressure due to the tremendous costs of labor and equipment.
“An international criminal mastermind. This foreign syndicate is merely a tool in someone else’s game.”
Kano regarded Stanley’s face carefully. He looked more cold and serious than ever.
“So wait, does that mean that the reason we’re letting this syndicate walk around unfettered—”
“-is on my orders, yes.”
“I see. So the only thing you’re really concerned with is catching this international mastermind?”
Kano felt like he was starting to get a picture of what sort of person Stanley was. “So you don’t really care what happens to the girl who’s been abducted, do you?”
“Not particularly, no. Why, do you have a problem with that?”
Kano clenched his fist. His hand was shaking with anger.
Kano recited the words inwardly like some sort of desperate mantra. If he didn’t manage to calm himself down, he was liable to slam his fist right into Stanley’s face.
Outside the car, the traffic remained at a standstill. Kano chafed against a feeling of utter futility. One after another his uncertainties came to nag at him. Was Maria still safe? What had happened to Hitomi and Tateno, her bodyguard? And now, on top of all this, it struck Kano as rather careless to send Sasayama away with al-Karawan without any backup, now that Jack had alerted him to the presence of a dangerous ‘international mastermind’ still on the loose. Fighting back his fit of pique, Kano got out his cell phone.
General Tip – Fit of pique posted:
To do something impulsively out of irritation, resentment, or the like. Similar to doing something “in a huff.”
|# ? Mar 21, 2020 23:00|
a let's make sure our buddy doesn't get knifed.
|# ? Mar 22, 2020 01:01|
I bet if they'd gotten that new drug out, nobody would have crashed their car. And Miku wouldn't be wondering what to do. And Tama wouldn't end up talking too much.
A - Let's make sure everyone's safe.
|# ? Mar 22, 2020 02:23|
He dialed up Sasayama. He wanted to make sure his partner had gotten al-Karawan back to the precinct safely.
Sasayama picked up almost right away. “Kano. What’s up?”
“How are things on your end? Any problems getting al-Karawan back?”
“Nah, I’ve got Tateno taking care of him.”
“Wait, what?” Kano could hardly believe his ears. “You were in touch with Tateno?” he asked. He could hear the shock in his own voice.
“Yeah. Just bumped into him over by the precinct a little while ago.”
“Then he is safe.” Kano felt a surge of relief. “What about Hitomi, then?”
Stanley glanced over at him, curious.
“Tateno says he lost track of her somehow. And then he got called back to the precinct, apparently.”
Tateno had...lost track of her? That’s not like him, Kano thought.
“Since he was heading back there anyway, I handed our guy over to him,” Sasayama said.
“I see.” Kano was glad to hear that Tateno was all right, but his relief was tempered by a surge of anger at the thought of what had happened to Hitomi.
“Now I’m back to tailing the attaché case,” Sasayama continued. “Today’s my wife’s birthday, y’know. My plan is to wrap this thing up ASAP so we can celebrate tonight. I’ve already got a present and everything.”
“I envy you, man.” Closing his eyes, Kano took a moment to picture Rumi. But Shizuo’s face popped into his mind’s eye right alongside her.
“Well, just hang in there, buddy. Even if your girlfriend is just a picture of Masami Nagahama! Hahaha!” Still snickering, Sasayama hung up.
Kano hit his lip and slipped his phone back into his pocket.
428 Tip – Masami Nagahama posted:
Midoriyama Academy graduate and national celebrity. Her popularity shows no signs of slowing down after she played the female lead in such films as The Beast that Hoarded Gold at the Heart of the World and The Swidden Fortress. There is another nationally famous actress with the same name, but it is a nationally known fact that the two are completely separate people.
At long last, traffic began to move again.
The abrupt stop made Kano smack his head against the windshield. “Hey, what gives?!”
“Look,” Stanley said. He gestured with his chin.
Kano couldn’t believe his eyes. There, walking along the sidewalk ahead, was al-Karawan-very much not in custody.
“What the hell?!” Kano shouted, already hopping out of the car.
Stanley was right behind him.
They crept up on their target as silently as possible, then rushed him once they were close.
In a moment, they had subdued him. Kano used his own body weight to hold al-Karawan down. “What are you doing out here?” he demanded.
“Whoa, hey, guess you didn’t get the memo, huh?” Al-Karawan flashed a coy grin. “They let me go.”
“Let you go?”
“I think your buddy here might have hearing problems,” al-Karawan said to Stanley. “I’m a free man.”
Kano turned and glared at Stanley. “What is he talking about?”
“No idea. First things first-get this guy back to the precinct. I’ll head to the syndicate hangout by myself.”
“You don’t think this is weird?” Kano asked. “I mean, what the heck is this guy doing on the loose again?”
“What matters is that he is free. Maybe he’s telling the truth about being let go.”
“But that’s ridiculous!”
“Then I guess he must’ve escaped on his own,” Stanley replied. “In either case, your buddy screwed up royally. Now it’s on you to un-screw things.”
None of this sat right with Kano, but the fact remained that he couldn’t just let al-Karawan go. He gave Stanley detailed directions to the hangout, and the car sped away towards Yoyogi.
Then Kano headed back to the precinct with his captive, trying to reassure himself that he might learn something from questioning al-Karawan that would help resolve the case.
Kano sat opposite al-Karawan in the interrogation room. He’d been attempting to interview the suspect for about a quarter of an hour.
Al-Karawan sat ramrod-stiff, not responding to any prompts or questions. “What time is it right now?” he asked. They’d taken away his watch, his wallet, a small knife, and his keychain. This was the third time he’d asked to know the time.
“Why are you so concerned what time it is?” Kano asked.
Al-Karawan gave no reply.
“Are you waiting on something?”
Again, the suspect was staunchly silent.
Kano wasn’t sure what to make of this, but he took a look at his watch. “It’s around two o’clock,” he said.
“What time exactly?”
“2:18 and how many seconds?”
“Look, just cut the crap!”
Kano grabbed the prisoner by the collar. “What the hell are you people after?!”
Al-Karawan merely repeated his question. “What time is it right now?”
With a growl of aggravation, Kano shoved his wristwatch in al-Karawan’s face.
“Ah, it’s 2:20,” al-Karawan said. “Okay, then. That should do it.”
“What? What does that mean?”
The interrogation went on for several more hours. Despite Kano’s best efforts, however, al-Karawan said nothing more.
During all that time, the case continued to develop in unexpected ways, but Kano, stuck in the interrogation room, knew nothing about it until everything was already over and done.
|# ? Mar 23, 2020 23:06|
|# ? Jul 24, 2021 12:14|
The only thing I can think of is calling that clown detective who's guarding Osawa instead of the detective's partner. The dead end for Achi seems to suggest that something is going on there, and that might get us past Osawa's keep out.
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 04:00|