The salesclerk continues to stare at me. “Y’know, you look really familiar,” he says.
“Huh? Really?” I perk up at that. Maybe I can find out something about who I am.
“Yeah, you totally look like some pop singer or TV personality. I just can’t remember who.”
“Oh. That’s what you meant.” My shoulders slump in disappointment. “Look, if you’re trying to flatter me, how about a discount on the necklace?”
“Sure, okay. I mean it’s just something I picked up off the side of the ro-oh, ah, ho, ho!” The salesclerk stammers for a moment.
“Okay, how about I take off ten thousand? Thirty thousand, and it’s yours.”
“You mean it?!” That perks me right back up. Guess I’m easy to please.
“Sure. You look like you might need to buy some new clothes too.” He points to my sweater.
General Tip – Easy to please posted:
Get your mind out of the gutter. That’s not what she means and you know it.
“Oh. It’s ripped.” There’s a tiny tear in the left shoulder.
“So, what do you want to do about the cat?” the salesclerk adds. “Want me to dispose of it for you?” He gestures at my costume with his jaw.
|# ? Apr 25, 2020 20:59|
|# ? Jul 24, 2021 04:02|
We must put Tama to rest ourselves.
|# ? Apr 25, 2020 21:40|
No, have him get rid of the costume. Trust me.
|# ? Apr 26, 2020 02:07|
We must put Tama to rest ourselves.
That costume deserves the best after what it's gone through.
|# ? Apr 26, 2020 03:19|
No option to find the Burning Hammer guy and give it back to him?
|# ? Apr 26, 2020 08:04|
I feel a little guilty about having him go out of his way for me more than he has already. Maybe I should deal with it myself. He looks a bit disappointed when I tell him that.
No, have him get rid of the costume. Trust me.
I buy the necklace for 30,000 yen and leave the knickknack shop, hauling the costume with me.
But as I walk along, I start regretting my decision. I can’t find a good place to throw the cat outfit away.
Finally, I spot a convenience store that looks like it’ll do just fine. One of the employees is out front, cleaning out the trash can. Several large garbage bags line the side of the road.
Maybe I can have him toss out the costume along with everything else.
“Uh, excuse me. So I’ve got this old cat suit here...” I figure it can’t hurt to ask.
“Yeah, yeah. I know.” The shopboy takes the costume from me. “You’re here to throw this thing out. I got it, I got it.” He sounds wholly unsurprised. He accepts it so blithely that I actually feel bad.
428 Tip – Shopboy posted:
Taku Okado. 22 year old getting by on part-time employment. Recently, after a number of employees quit in rapid succession, the owner hurriedly took on several new hires; but for some reason, instead of everyone chipping in on the cleaning, Okado always winds up stuck doing it.
“It’s been like this all morning,” he says. “I don’t even care anymore. Just throw away what you need and be on your way, I guess.”
“It’s been like what all morning?”
“I’m out here cleaning and people keep dumping trash on me. First it was this couple that up and threw a garbage bag at me. After that some homeless-looking guy came by, took all his clothes off, and left. Like just now some chubby girl tossed out some empty cardboard boxes and a bunch of empty bottles.”
428 Tip – Couple posted:
Achi Endo and Hitomi Osawa. The two have just run into a girl called Canaan.
428 Tip – Homeless-looking guy posted:
Detective Yuji Sasayama from the Shibuya Precinct. At the moment Sasayama is searching for a costume for his next disguise.
That must have been Chiri. She was probably drinking the Burning Hammer while she walked along.
“So when you came by just now with this thing, I knew right away. Yep. This again.”
“It’s all right. Three times, four times-what’s the difference?” He flashes a bright smile, but it’s clearly insincere. Then he looks at me more closely. “Huh. Aren’t you the girlfriend of that dude who threw the bag of garbage at me?”
“What? Nope, not me!”
“Huh. Guess I’m misremembering, then.”
“Well, anyway, thanks for your help with this!” I give the guy a bow.
A few minutes later, near the station, I spot a sort of mall. Checking the directory by the entrance, I see that it’s got several clothing shops and an arcade inside. They probably sell shirts in here. I hurry on inside.
The World Doesn't Change so Easy.
The interior of the building is like a twisting maze of corridors, all of them overflowing with people. I take the escalator to the second floor and find myself amidst rows of arcade games. I was trying to get to the fashion area, but I must’ve gone the wrong way.
“Um, excuse me. You haven’t seen a lost little girl, have you?”
I turn to see a miserable-looking middle-aged man peering at me anxiously. “Have you seen her? A little girl, about ten years old.”
A girl around ten? Hmm. Have I seen her?
428 Tip – Middle-aged man posted:
Teruo Toyama. He got separated from his daughter Hana while running from debt collectors. He’s on edge, worried that the men who are after him might take Hana hostage.
“What’s her name?”
“Hana. Hana Toyama.”
“Hana? Oh, that’s a pretty name.”
“So, uh, she’s about yea tall-” The man launches into a rapid-fire explanation, describing the girl’s features, hair and clothes. “I got separated from her around Center Gai. She likes this place, so I thought maybe she’d come here.”
Center Gai? That’s right. Now I remember. This is the guy I bumped into earlier in the afternoon, while I was racing around in the cat costume. He got separated from his daughter? Yikes. If she did come here, it’s not going to be easy to find her in the midst of these crowds.
“Are you sure she didn’t go back home?” I ask.
“Well, there’s this...problem,” he mutters. “Going home isn’t an option.”
Well, that’s not really an explanation.
“Sorry to bother you. I’ll look around a bit more.” With that, Hana’s father disappears into the crowd.
I leave the arcade and head for the fashion area.
I bump into Mr. Yanagishita in a hallway lined with photo booths.
“Huh? Boss?” What’s he doing in a place like this?
“Oh, Tama! You’re out of the suit!” For some reason he’s got a bunch of magazines strewn across the floor.
“Yeah. Finally managed to get it off .”
“That’s good. I wish you could have been at the sales demo without your face hidden away.”
“What are you doing? You mentioned something about a creek earlier. Are you going on a trip?”
“Yeahhh, I was, but then I remembered something important: I get motion sickness something fierce.” He sounds kind of proud of himself. “So yeah, no trips for me. Heck, I don’t even want to think about that now.”
“What about the money you owe?” I ask, curious.
“Well, as it happens, I think I may have found my solution.” He brings a hand to his mouth and giggles.
“Right here. I found a great way to make a killing.” He opens the magazine he’s holding to reveal a scratch card with a potential 100,000-yen prize.
428 Tip – Making a killing posted:
To earn a lot of money, usually in a very short time and/or with little effort. The phrase originated in the 19th Century, in reference to hunters who were paid based on the number of kills they made.
“You just gotta scratch off one of these to win 100,000 yen! All I need is thirty of them and my debt’s squared away! Each magazine I can nab is more money for me!”
Despite his enthusiasm, his story doesn’t quite add up.
“Um, are those scratch cards guaranteed to win?”
“No, of course not. It’s a lottery sort of thing.”
Well, then having thirty copies of the magazine is hardly a foolproof solution. Quite the opposite, in fact-but I hold my tongue.
“Okay, then! Now that my goddess of fortune Tama’s here, lemme hurry and scratch these suckers off!” Yanagishita begins fervently scratching away at the first card with a coin.
“Aww. That one’s a loser. Maybe the next one...nope. That’s a loser too. Dammit! So’s this one. And this one...” In a spectacular display, he scratches off one losing card after another. Soon, he’s down to just one last magazine.
“You’re not a very lucky person, are you?”
“Oh, please don’t say that.” Mr. Yanagishita looks like he’s on the verge of tears.
I stare at one of the losing scratch cards. “You know, if you could just see the symbols through the card, you’d win for sure,” I say jokingly.
I hold the card up to the light. When I do, I really can see the symbols through the card.
“Boss, I think I might have just-”
“Shhhh!” He interrupts me before I can share my shocking discovery.
The World Doesn't Change so Easy.
I look at him in surprise. Mr. Yanagishita has gone all pale. “Quiet, Tama! Those guys are here!” He shoves me into a photo booth.
“The debt collectors,” he hisses. “They just do not give up.” He clutches the sides of his head.
Peeking out of the booth, I spot a pair of men who look pretty rough around the edges.
“Is it those two?”
“Shh! Not so loud!”
The men are looking around, and they’re getting closer and closer.
“What do I do? Ohh, what do I dooo?” Mr. Yanagishita starts getting panicky. “Tama, what do I do?!”
“I have no idea.”
“Ohhhhh, this is not good. This is not good!” Mr. Yanagishita whimpers.
|# ? Apr 27, 2020 21:00|
Let's help him out. He did right by us by still paying what he had for the sales demo, it's the least we can do.
|# ? Apr 27, 2020 22:09|
The World Doesn't Change so Easy.
This guy gave me a job, so I kind of owe him. I look around for a better place for the two of us to hide. Unfortunately, I don’t really see anywhere that might work. We might be safest staying right where we are. “Just stay nice and still and we’ll be fine,” I whisper.
“Yeah...yeah, you’re probably right.”
The curtain is drawn, so people can’t see inside, but just to keep up appearances, we start taking photos as if we’re normal customers.
“I really hope they don’t look in here,” Mr. Yanagishita murmurs. “What’ll we do if they find us?”
“They won’t. Just don’t worry.” Despite my reassurances it was a while before he stopped trembling.
Then he said “You know, Tama. They say that when a man and a woman meet under unusual circumstances it’s easy for them to fall in love.”
“Uh-huh. Do they now?”
“They do. Going through an extreme situation together makes you fall for each other. So, wanna go get married?”
“No way.” Yeah, I am not having this conversation.
“Anyway, I think they’re gone now. The debt collectors, I mean.”
Mr. Yanagishita peeks out and quickly scans the surrounding area. “They’re gone? They’re gone! Hahahaha! So long, losers!” His fear has given way to a burst of manic energy. “Guess I’m in the clear, now. Thanks, Tama. Come on, let’s take some commemorative photos!”
“Huh?” To commemorate what, exactly?
“C’mon, it’ll be fun.”
“Okay, big smile, now!”
After that, I part ways with Mr. Yanagishita and head to a different floor. I don’t tell him about being able to see through the scratch cards. The guy really ought to develop a proper work ethic.
“Hey! Come on, wait up!”
I’m on the escalator to the third floor when I hear someone shouting.
I figure it’s someone yelling to their kid, but when I turn to look, I see a young man I don’t recognize staring right at me.
“Where are you going? It’s not safe for us to get too separated!”
What? Who’s this weirdo? Is this some new pick-up trick or something? I rush up the escalator to get away from the guy.
When I get to the restaurant section on the fourth floor, I’m hit with a sudden pang of hunger. Come to think of it, I haven’t eaten a thing all day. “I’m sooo hungry,” I mutter to myself as I walk around. “What should I eat?”
Then I spot Chiri coming out of a Chinese restaurant. “Hmm? Hey, Chiri!”
She turns to look at me, confused. “Who’re you?”
“Oh! It’s me. It’s Tama.”
“Ahh. I thought I recognized that voice,” she replies with a nod.
“Did you eat again?” I ask.
“Well, yeah, but then they kicked me out. Isn’t that just terrible?” She looks pretty displeased. “I came here because they said it was all-you-can-eat, but then they closed shop ‘cause they ran out of food.”
“Oh. Wow, you’re right.” I spot one of the restaurant staff hanging a ‘Closed’ sign on the front door.
“Man, now my early afternoon snack is ruined.”
“An afternoon snack? At an all-you-can-eat buffet?” I can’t help but stare at Chiri’s midsection, amazed by what that stomach is capable of.
“By the way, have you seen the boss?” she asks. “I thought he’d finally accepted that he needs to buckle down and work, but he’s got some new crazy scheme. Guess the guy’s just never gonna learn. I figure nothing good’s gonna come from associating with him-I’d be careful if I were you, too.”
Done with her little rant, Chiri says goodbye and heads off among the restaurants.
Who said that? Were they talking to me?
I turn to see a businessman of some sort staring in my direction. Like everyone I’ve run into today, I don’t recognize him. For some reason, though, I feel relaxed in his presence.
“Is that you, Hitomi?”
“Hitomi...?” Could that be my name?
“Or are you Maria?”
“No, I, uh...”
As I fumble for words, the man peers at me with obvious concern. “What are you doing in a place like this? We need to get you back home. Your parents are worried sick.”
My parents? Did someone file a missing person report while I’ve been wandering around with amnesia?
The man leads the way, and I follow.
We leave the GiGO building, but head down a narrow alleyway. Then, the man suddenly stops. I feel a jolt of anxiety as I notice something gleaming in his hand.
“It doesn’t matter which of the two you are. You’re both in the way.” He mutters almost as if talking to himself.
Right after that, everything goes dark.
|# ? Apr 29, 2020 22:00|
May as well go back to Achi, tell him not to yell for her, and continue on with Maria.
|# ? Apr 29, 2020 22:08|
Now I feel like we missed something.
|# ? Apr 30, 2020 17:27|
He decided to go after her. Had she forgotten where he was waiting for her?
She stayed on the escalator, heading up toward the top floor.
The World Doesn't Change so Easy.
The third floor is packed with young girls. I spot a shirt that catches my eye, and head to the fitting room to try it on. There, I realize there’s something in my pocket-something I must’ve been carrying around for a while.
It’s a photo. A photo of a white man.
“Who’s this guy?” I can’t quite tell if I recognize him or not.
I hear someone’s voice inside my head.
Stay away from him.
Flashes of memory flicker in my mind. I see a girl standing before me. I can’t quite recall her face, but I get the impression she’s someone very important. She speaks to me.
That’s all; then I snap back to my senses. It feels like I was right on the cusp of remembering something critical. At any rate, it seems that there’s some connection between me and the man in the photo. Try as I might, though, I can’t recall anything more than that.
I try on the shirt I picked out. “Yeah. Yeah, that looks good.” I decide to buy it, and have the store toss out my torn sweater for me.
As I’m about to go down the escalator, a young man strides up to me as if I’m an old friend.
“There you are! I thought we were going to meet on the second floor.”
Going to meet? What’s this guy talking about? I’ve never seen him before.
“Ah, well. Anyway, come on. We have to go hide.”
Hide? Why do we need to do that? “Hide? Why?”
“Because those guys might’ve found us. They’re outside!” He grabs my hand, and I yank it away.
“Hey! Come on, what gives?”
Is this some new pick-up trick or something? Whatever it is, it’s way too aggressive.
I get the heck out of there.
“Hey! Heyyy!” The guy keeps shouting, but I ignore him and try to slip away into the crowd.
|# ? May 1, 2020 21:00|
Well we've seen what going to another floor gets her, let's go with option B.
|# ? May 2, 2020 07:52|
Maybe I should hide someplace where there are fewer people. I scurry for one of the far corners of the floor.
Compared to the area around the stairs, the rest of this level is deserted.
I head on up to the fourth floor.
When I get to the top of the stairs, I see a man talking on his phone. He looks a little furtive-like he’s trying to avoid the public eye.
“Ah, well. The police sure do know how to do their jobs.”
What I can hear of his conversation makes me pretty uneasy. I turn on my heel and get the heck out of there.
When I arrive at the fourth floor restaurant section, the sign for a Chinese buffet catches my eye.
Imabiki Chinese Restaurant-the name means something along the lines of “Fire of Mourning.” I guess fire is important for cooking, but that’s kind of an unsettling thing to call an eatery.
General Tip – Buffet posted:
A style of dining where guests serve themselves freely from an array of prepared foods, taking as much of each as they want. Many hotels and restaurants tend to hold buffets at lunchtime, or for brunch. Sometimes, however, this just winds up being a kind of cruel trap, with crowded lines making it take forever for you to even get near the food.
Oh well, I guess the name doesn’t really matter. I’m in a mood to straight-up devour some Chinese food. When I go to enter, though, I’m stopped by one of the employees.
“Oh, I’m sorry, miss. I’m afraid we’re not accepting any more, uh, any customers-I mean we’re not really open. Not just now.” She sounds a little bewildered by her own words.
“Well, you see, one of our other customers ate all of our food.”
Someone ate an entire restaurant out of food? Is that even possible?
“What I’m trying to say, miss, is that we’re, uh...closed...for the day.”
Ugh. Go figure. Looks like Mr. Yanagishita’s bad luck has rubbed off on me.
I guess I’ll have to look for another restaurant to-hold up. Who’s that kid?
Lying idly across the seats in the waiting area at the front of the restaurant is a young girl. Is this the girl that dismal-looking fellow has been searching for? She looks so sad it makes my heart ache. I can’t just leave her here alone.
“Excuse me. Is your name Hana?”
She looks wary at the question.
“Your father’s been looking for you,” I say.
Hana ignores me, and just stares up at the ceiling.
“Hey, how about we try to find your dad together?” I coax the girl into getting up, then I call out to the restaurant staffer.
“Excuse me-where should I go to ask them to put an announcement on the PA system?”
“Dunno. Maybe, uh...the first floor? The security office?”
Right. Down we go. I take Hana with me, and we get on one of the elevators together.
“Do you know my father?” Hana’s tone is pretty brusque.
“Well, I don’t really know him, exactly.”
“Then are you a debt collector?”
I laugh and shake my head. “Ahaha. Would a debt collector be wearing an outfit like this?”
Hana lets out a deep sigh. “So you’re just kind of butting in, then?”
“Um, well, yeah, I guess so.” I can’t help but grin sheepishly. I feel like something about sad little Hana is stirring some of my lost memories. If I just came out and told her that, though, she’d probably think I was a total weirdo.
|# ? May 3, 2020 21:00|
We're an ally of justice, and must help those in need.
|# ? May 4, 2020 00:10|
“Guess I’m just the sort of person who can’t ignore someone in trouble.”
“You’re weird.” Hana looks away from me.
When I get to the security office, I hear voices coming from inside. I wonder what they’re talking about?
I peek in through the crack in the door and see a man with a cane speaking with a security guard.
“How many exits are there that lead outside?”
“There’s the main entrance on the first floor, along with two side entrances. Also, there’s one down on the first basement level, and another in the second basement.” The security guard spoke with polite precision.
“I see,” says the man with the cane. “I need you to shutter all exits except for the main entrance right away.”
“Attention all shoppers.” The announcement comes in over the loudspeaker. “Due to maintenance, all first floor entrances other than the main entrance have been closed. We apologize for the inconvenience. Customers wishing to leave, please use the main entrance on the first floor.”
I’m not sure what just happened, but it sounds like the main entrance is now the only way out.
“Come on,” I say. “Let’s have them make an announcement for us.”
But when I turn around, Hana is gone. She must have run off while I was distracted.
“Well looky here. If it ain’t that little cutie again.”
The two thugs that were after Yanagishita come strolling toward me. “Wow, you’re a speedy one, huh?” says the bald man. “Weren’t you downstairs just now? And did you change your clothes, too?” He looks me over, seeming impressed.
“Hey, hold on! Lemme see your face!” The younger man grabs me by the wrist. “You know Yanagishita, yeah? Go on and give him a quick little call for us.” He gives me a sharp yank.
“Let go of me!”
“Can it, girly. Just give the man a call and we’re all good.”
“I have nothing to do with that guy!”
“Do it now!”
These guys aren’t even listening to me. Now I’m pretty pissed off.
On The Move.
I said I have nothing to do with that guy!” I whip my manhandled arm in a wide arc and send the younger man flying into a stack of boxes.
Guess he must not have been expecting that. He hits hard; the impact knocks him out cold.
“Whoa...who the heck are you?” the bald man asks, his eyes wide.
“Shut up,” I tell him. “You’re next!”
I flash a winning grin; he gathers up his fallen friend and drags him away as fast as he can go.
Okay, that was pretty strange. It’s was just like when I was fighting Miku-my body seems to know how to pull off all these moves instinctively. Am I a martial artist, maybe?
Anyway, I've got to find Hana.
Easier said than done. I wander around the building, but I don’t see any sign of the girl. Maybe she went back home?
Eventually I slump down on a bench in a corner. “I wish I could go home, too...” I mutter to myself.
Something cold presses against my neck.
What? Is that...what I think it is?
“Make a scene and I slit your throat.”
Oh no. It is a knife.
Two foreign men grab me by the arms from either side. In that moment, fragmentary memories flood through my mind.
I’m on a street-it looks like someplace in the Middle East. I’m being dragged along by several men. I’m too scared to speak. There are people on the street, market vendors, but none of them seem willing to get involved.
The men drag me into some back alley.
Help me... Please, somebody help me. I’m being abducted.
And then a dark silhouette drops down in front of me. The figure brandishes a knife threateningly at the men.
The blade moves with dazzling speed; my captors are all down in mere moments.
Who is this? Who came to save me?
I try my utmost to drag my memories to the surface. It’s a girl. That’s right. I’m certain of that much. I don’t remember her face, but it’s a girl, younger than me.
“Walk faster!” The angry hiss in my ear snaps me out of my flashback.
What was that memory just now? I’m more concerned about the girl who saved me than I am about the men who’ve captured me now.
The two thugs march me along, still holding me by the arms.
“Can’t believe she was in a place like that.”
“Yeah. Talk about giving us the runaround.”
I can’t figure out what they’re talking about.
A place like what? Giving them the runaround?
“Do you...do you know me?”
The two men look at each other. “Wait...are you the other one?” One of them peers closely into my face.
“What are you talking about? What do you mean, a place like-” I stop as a sudden idea comes to me. “Hold on. Are you talking about that storehouse?”
The men look utterly confused. “What are you talking about?” one of them asks.
I explain that I’ve lost my memory; this seems to make them pretty anxious.
“We gotta report this.”
One of the men takes out his cell phone and makes a call. He informs whoever’s on the other end that I’ve lost my memory.
I have no idea what’s going on. Based on what I can follow from the conversation, though, it seems these were the people who had put me in that storehouse. But why had they done that?
One of these guys asked if I was “the other one. What could that possibly mean? Hmm. Could it be? Did they abduct me because they mistook me for someone else? If so, who? The more I try to think, the more muddied this all gets.
Calm down. Just calm down. Let’s think of what we know.
What I do know for sure is that I woke up inside that storehouse. And evidently, I took a blow to the head, and that’s the cause of my amnesia.
Hold on. That’s strange. If these people had kidnapped me before, why wasn’t the storehouse, well...locked? Seems pretty sloppy if they wanted to keep someone confined. What could all this possibly mean? It’s no use. I haven’t the foggiest. None of this makes any sense at all.
“Let go of her.”
I crane my neck to see who spoke.
It’s the man with the cane who was at the security office.
“Who the hell are you?” one of my captors barks.
“I said let her go. Did you not hear?”
The man with the cane pulls a gun from his suit pocket. “Get lost. This isn’t worth dying over.”
The two men take a few steps back, and then bolt out of the alleyway.
“Who are you?” My voice trembles slightly.
“Guess he’s not here.” The man takes a quick look around.
“He? Do you mean Mr. Yanagishita?”
“All that matters is that he’s not here.” Gun in hand, the man slowly approaches. “Hitomi Osawa. I know you’ve done nothing wrong.”
“What?” I feel a jolt of surprise at the name. Hitomi Osawa? Is that my name?
His face a mask of stone, the man points the gun right at my head. “Please, no hard feelings...”
|# ? May 5, 2020 22:00|
Achi, Minorikawa and Osawa are available.
|# ? May 5, 2020 22:00|
...what the hell has her sister gotten Maria into, the gently caress.
Achi because let's put off getting to the other plots as long as possible.
|# ? May 6, 2020 00:18|
Achi raced out of the restaurant, alert for trouble. He took the escalator down to the third floor. And there was Hitomi, standing right in the open, after he’d been searching for her high and low.
“There you are! I thought we were going to meet on the second floor,” Achi said. She stared back at him in confusion. “Ah, well. Anyway, come on. We have to go hide.”
“Hide? Why?” She gave him a dubious look.
Achi felt like something was off, but now wasn’t the time to dwell on it. “Because those guys might’ve found us,” he said. “They’re outside!” He took hold of Hitomi’s hand.
“Hey! Let go! What gives?” She quickly yanked her hand away.
“Huh?” As Achi tried to make sense of the way she was acting, she took off down the corridor. “Hey! Hitomi!” He hurried after her. It was like changing her clothes had also changed her personality.
Still, he couldn’t just leave her alone. The kidnappers might well be closing in. He stayed in pursuit of her, trying not to draw too much attention.
He headed in the direction Hitomi had gone and came to a stairwell.
What the hell is going on?
Had she gone up? Or down? Achi frowned in consternation.
“Hey! Stop right there!”
He heard shouting coming from down below. Then came the sound of footsteps rushing up the stairs.
Hitomi? Was someone chasing her? Achi bolted down the stairs before he could mull over it too much.
Down on the landing, he ran into a man who was pale in the face.
“Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-You...you gotta help me!” The man went and cowered behind Achi.
Two thuggish-looking men came up the stairs after him.
“Hand him over, kid.”
“Yeah. Don’t make us do nothin’ we’ll both regret.”
“Two guys bullying some frail old man?” Achi huffed. “And you want me to just turn a blind eye while that goes down? Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.”
The younger fellow, the one who looked like a small-time gangster, sneered. “Oh, you’re gonna want to turn a blind eye to this, little man. This is gonna get bloody.”
“By the way,” Achi asked, “either of you see a girl around here? Super-cute, about yea ta-”
“Hmph!” The gangster suddenly threw a jab with his right fist, and Achi dodged on reflex. The punch wound up catching the man hiding behind him right in the face instead.
“Oh. Whoops.” Achi realized his mistake a moment too late.
“Urgh...oogh...” The man splayed out onto the floor.
“Whoa! My bad, Gramps. You okay?” Achi hunkered down and slapped the man in the face. “Hey! C’mon, stay with me!”
“It’s no use...I’m done for...Please...look after Hana...Mino...rikawa...” The man’s muttering was all but incomprehensible.
“Hey,” Achi said, “this guy seriously needs to get to a hospital or he’s in big trouble. You guys, go call an ambulance. He needs-”
When Achi looked back, the man in the sunglasses was standing over him, holding up a fire extinguisher.
“Why wait for an ambulance when the fire department’s already here?” The butt of the fire extinguisher came right down onto Achi’s face.
“But I...didn’t call...for the fire department...”
|# ? May 7, 2020 21:30|
So wait, we got a fake TBC with Maria and need to redo something she did?
|# ? May 7, 2020 21:46|
Yeah I'm confused here. I guess the encounter with Achi is an entire bad path. And I think the only way to avoid that is to go back to Maria, and Avoid getting involved with our friendly promoter
|# ? May 7, 2020 22:39|
So wait, we got a fake TBC with Maria and need to redo something she did?
This isn't the only bad ending Maria can inadvertently cause for another character in this hour - it's (increasingly) possible to make a decision with one character that won't stop them from reaching the end of their hour, but will cause a bad ending for another character.
|# ? May 9, 2020 22:25|
For now, maybe I should head to another floor. I hurry toward the bank of elevators.
“Well if it isn’t Tama! What a coincidence!” It’s Yanagishita again. I try to walk on by like I don’t notice him, but it’s already too late.
“Huh? Hey, where’d your boyfriend go?”
“Boyfriend?” I have no clue what he’s talking about.
“Anyway, perfect timing. Can you gimme back that magazine?”
“Nothing you’re saying is making any sense.” I peer at him in confusion; once again Yanagishita looks like he might start to cry.
“Don’t tease me like this. I did give it to you, right?”
“No, you didn’t give me anything.”
“I get it. You wanted that 100,000 yen all to yourself, so now you’re playing dumb, is that it?”
“No, I honestly have no idea what this is all about.”
By now he’s all worked-up and getting red in the face. “Look, you might have amnesia, but that excuse ain’t gonna fly with me!”
“The amnesia has nothing to do with it.” He doesn’t seem to want to believe me, no matter what I say.
“C’mon, hurry up and just give it back. Otherwise I’m gonna start bawling here, real loud!”
He’s going to cry? Seriously? This guy’s a real piece of work.
“Well? What’s it gonna be? You’re gonna make a grown man cry!”
It would certainly be pretty embarrassing if he starts sobbing now. But I can’t exactly give him back a magazine I never had.
The elevator doors open.
“Well if it isn’t our little entrepreneur. We’ve been looking for you.” It’s the two thugs from before, and there’s no avoiding them this time.
428 Tip – Two thugs posted:
Asao Ozu and his underling, Yutaro Segawa. Members of the Tenryu-gumi yakuza syndicate. Ozu is quite frightening when angry-his nickname is “Ozu the Ogre”-but despite his strong emotions he is very logic-driven. Segawa is the archetypical punk who likes to get into scuffles, but he’s also a really good cook.
The men drag Mr. Yanagishita into the elevator.
“Save me, Tama!” He grabs hold of my hand.
“Hey! Let go of me!” Great. Now I’m in the elevator, too-and the doors are shutting.
“Now, then, Mr. Yanagishita,” says the bald-headed man. “There’s nowhere else to run. His tone is polite, but also pretty foreboding.
“Whoa, whoa, wait, just hold on! I can get you the money! I’m just about to get loads of it!”
“Enough of your poppycock!” snarls the younger guy.
General Tip – Poppycock posted:
Balderdash. Claptrap. Straight-up nonsense. Taken from the Dutch pappekak, meaning “soft dung.”
“I really mean it this time! Please, you have to believe me! I-aha! I can pay you 100,000 right now!”
“A hundred thousand? You’re really carrying around that much?” asks the bald man.
“No, not me. The girl.”
The men turn to eye me in unison.
“She’s holding onto something that’s worth 100,000 yen.”
“Whuh?” The sudden turn in the conversation has me all flustered.
“Tama, please,” Yanagishita says. “Just hand it over.”
“I already told you, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The elevator stops at the first floor, and the doors open.
Standing on the other side of the doors is the guy I ran into earlier-Hana’s father.
The bald-headed man snarls. “Toyamaaa!”
“Ha. Haha. I’ll, ah, I’ll just get the next one.”
Hana’s father bolts like a startled hare. The bald man and his crony stare after him.
“Now's my chance!” Yanagishita hisses.
He darts out of the elevator and makes a run for it.
“Hey! After him!” shouts the bald man.
“After who? Him? Or him?”
“Just start with Toyama!” The two thugs race after Hana’s father.
They’ve left me all by myself. I’m worried enough to think about going after them, but before too long I’ve lost sight of them all. For a long time just I stand there, dumbfounded, like a hurricane victim lingering in the aftermath.
“Ugh.” What a day this has been. When I finally get my wits about me I realize I’m pretty hungry. That’s right-I didn’t get to eat lunch. I head for the fourth floor, where the restaurants are.
Since I really don’t want to run into Yanagishita and those other guys again, I decide to take the escalator. As I’m riding it up, I hear a commotion coming from the floor below.
It’s a man’s voice, shouting angrily. “Outta my way! Come on!” I pay the outburst no heed, and let the escalator take me up.
He lost track of her somewhere near the elevators.
“Ugh, what is her deal?” Unsure of what else he should do, he headed back down to their rendezvous point on the second floor. When he arrived, he spotted Hitomi heading down the escalator ahead of him.
“Hitomi!” Achi shouted. But his voice vanished into the noise of the crowd, and she disappeared onto the first floor. “Dammit!”
Achi rushed down the escalator. He took the steps two, three-five at a time.
He made it to the first floor and looked around. There was Hitomi, about to take a different escalator back up. “Why is she doing this?!” He waved his arms to get her attention, but she didn’t notice, and headed right back up. “Down, up...what the heck is she thinking?” Achi sped around and got on the upward escalator.
“Outta my way! Come on!” He shoved people aside as he ran up the moving stairs.
But he saw no sign of Hitomi when he reached the second floor. He’d lost track of her completely. “Oh, come on. This is ridiculous.” Achi’s shoulders slumped.
He felt exhausted, but he kept up his search, scouring one floor after another until eventually he made it down to the second basement level. Had she grown too impatient waiting for Canaan and gone off searching for the blue minivan again?
“I think I can handle myself from here.” He thought back to what Hitomi had said earlier.
“Dammit. She’s not gonna be okay by herself.” He pounded his fist into the wall in frustration.
“Please, stop!” That was Hitomi’s voice!
“Hitomi!” Achi moved faster than he could think.
“Achi!” she called back. A pair of thugs had grabbed her by both arms.
Achi stomped his way towards them. “Get your hands off of her!” he shouted.
“Huh? What’s it to you, pal?” The older of the two, a middle-aged fellow, turned to Achi with a sneer. He looked familiar, somehow.
Hitomi shook herself free of the men and ran over to Achi.
“It’s no use trying to act tough, buddy. We’re just tryin’ to get back what we’re owed. Don’t make us have to get rough with ya.”
“What you’re owed? Hitomi, do you owe people money?”
“No, I don’t. They just came after me and started going on about two million yen...” She looked just as baffled by the situation as Achi was.
“If you’re gonna blame someone, blame your boss,” the older man said. He gestured to his lackey.
A feral gleam flashed in the young punk’s eyes. It was the look of a man who couldn’t resist dishing out a beatdown. He brought up his fists and shifted his feet, shadowboxing a few quick jabs with his left hand. It looked to Achi like the guy was an experienced boxer.
“Hold on,” Hitomi said. “What do you mean, ‘my boss’?”
“Say what? Yanagishita. Who the hell do you think?” The young punk shuffled closer, fists still menacing. Then his expression changed. “Heyyyy...”
“Hold on. Are you Achi Endo?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Haha! Well ain’t that lucky, gettin’ to throw down with you like this.” The punk sounded pleased indeed.
|# ? May 9, 2020 22:25|
Go for broke
|# ? May 9, 2020 23:00|
He had to go for broke!
His best chance was to hope for an opening to deliver a low kick. He’d need to time it perfectly, when his opponent took a step forward.
General Tip – Low kick posted:
A kick using the foot or shin to strike the opponent in the thigh, just above the knee. In karate, this is known as gedan-mawashi-geri. Since the legs are longer than the arms, this is an effective technique against boxers.
On The Move.
“Hmph!” With a loud breath, the thug shot out his left arm.
Now! Achi shifted his stance and unleashed a low kick.
Suddenly, the elevator doors opened right nearby. Achi and the punk both stopped in mid-attack.
A miserable-looking older man stood in the elevator.
At the sight of him, the punk’s face went red with rage. “You! Toyama!”
On The Move.
The man in the elevator hurriedly closed the doors. The two thugs rushed toward him, but the elevator had already begun heading back upward.
“C’mon! After him!” the older man shouted. The young punk raced up the stairs.
“You stay right where you are!” the older fellow added, glaring at Hitomi. Then he followed after his lackey.
“Does he really think we’re dumb enough to just wait here?” Achi scoffed.
“Achi! I’ve been looking all over for you!” Hitomi gave him an angry swat on the chest.
“For me? What are you talking about?”
“You weren’t waiting where you said you’d be!”
“Yeah, because you went up to another floor.”
“What do you mean? I went right where you said, on the second floor.”
“Huh?” This wasn’t quite adding up. “The second floor? What are you talking about? You went up to the third floor!”
“No I didn’t.”
“Wait. What? None of this makes any sense.” Achi felt like his brain was getting scrambled.
“Well, anyway, at least I found you safe and sound.”
“Yeah.” The two smiled at one another.
“Hmm? What’s with those clothes?”
Hitomi’s new outfit was completely different from the clothes she’d had on earlier. “I tried on a few things, but wound up deciding on this.”
“You tried other stuff on? Ah, okay. That explains it,” Achi said. At least now things sorta made sense. “That’s nice, you know.”
“Your clothes, I mean. They look good on you.”
“Thank you. Heh. Wow, I’m actually blushing, now.”
“It kinda made me blush to say it.” Achi and Hitomi shyly avoided each other’s eyes.
“Oh, so hey,” Achi said, eager to change the subject. “Do you still have that magazine?”
“Oh, right. Yeah. I was going to just throw it away, but I couldn’t.”
“I haven’t been able to find the right kind of receptacle. Newspapers and magazines are supposed to be kept separate from normal trash, right?” Hitomi scanned their surroundings for a suitable bin.
“Wait, are you serious?”
“You’re thinking about proper recycling now, of all times?”
“Is that weird?”
“Uh-oh. I’m in trouble. I think you might just be perfect.” Achi found himself blushing even harder now.
A sudden yell snapped him out of his embarrassment. The sketchy-looking fellow who’d given her the magazine was scampering down the stairs toward them.
“Great,” Achi said. “The weirdo’s back.”
The man ignored him, though, and leaned in close to Hitomi.
“Aha-ha-ha-haa! You do still have it!” He snatched the magazine from Hitomi’s hands.
“Yesss! This one hasn’t been scratched off yet!” The man hunkered down on the floor and began scratching away at a scratch card stapled into the centerfold.
“Wait, wait, wait, waaait! Don’t let him have that!” Another man came swooping out of nowhere and yanked the magazine away. It was the older fellow who’d appeared in the elevator minutes before.
“You can’t do that! That’s mine!” The sketchy-looking man clutched at the older newcomer.
“I said let go!”
“And I said no way!” The two were fighting right in front of the exit, keeping Achi and Hitomi from leaving.
“How d’ya like this?” the older man shouted, scratching away haphazardly at the ticket. “Now it’s just a worthless scrap of paper!”
“Ahhhhh! My hundred thousand yen!”
“You mean my hundred thousand yen! Hahahaha!” Then the middle-aged fellow looked back down at the ticket.
“Gah! What are the odds?!” Somehow, in his random scratching, he’d happened to land himself a winner.
“No way!” The two men took off, engaged in a running battle for the ticket.
“Uh...what was the deal with those two?”
“I’m...not sure.” Achi and Hitomi could only stand there, dumbfounded.
“On the other hand-hey, look at the time! It’s almost three.”
The two headed hurriedly for the GiGO back entrance. But just as they were nearing the doors, the shutters dropped down in front of them.
“Whoa, what gives?”
“Due to maintenance, all entrances other than the main entrance on the first floor have been closed. We apologize for the inconvenience. Customers wishing to leave, please use the main entrance on the first floor.”
Achi glared at the loudspeaker. It looked like there was no exit through the back after all.
“I’ve got a really bad preposition about this.”
“You mean ‘premonition.'” Hitomi had gotten quicker to butt in with her corrections. Holding on to their premonitions, then, the two hurried their way up the stairwell.
As Hitomi tried to head out the first floor entryway, Achi yanked her back.
“What’s the matter?”
“It’s that guy.”
“Huh?” Hitomi’s expression stiffened.
Slipping behind a nearby pillar, Achi pointed to the man with the cane, who was keenly eyeing shoppers as they came and went.
“Well, this bites. No way we’re getting out with him there.”
“Achi.” Hitomi whispered in his ear. “Behind us.”
Achi glanced back and saw the two goons walking in their direction. “Uh-oh.” If those two caused a scene like before, the assassin would notice them for sure.
“Aha!” The younger punk had spotted them.
Dammit, Achi thought, gritting his teeth.
“Eep!” But the thuggish pair let out a teensy squeak, and then darted off in a different direction, vanishing from view.
“What the heck?”
Achi and Hitomi watched them go, unsure what to make of the sudden retreat.
“Well, anyway,” Achi said after a moment. “Now we can try to find another way out.” Taking Hitomi by the hand, he headed back into the shopping area.
The back entrance on the first floor, that was a no-go. The other emergency exits were also locked down. Which meant that the main entrance on the first floor really was the only chokepoint in or out.
It was almost time for them to meet Canaan. They needed to find some way to bust out of here.
The pair headed back toward the main entrance.
Then they saw the man with the cane again-heading in their direction. He hadn’t seen them yet, but there was no way they’d avoid him if they didn’t do something quick.
“Guess for now we’ve gotta go up,” Achi said to Hitomi.
They started racing up the nearest escalator, which was descending from above.
“My bad! Comin’ through!”
“Sorry. Please excuse us!” They fought and shoved their way past a stream of people riding in the other direction.
They could see the second floor now. Achi figured they’d be in the clear once they got there.
But then a large woman appeared at the top of the escalator, heading down. She was the one who’d been in the Chinese restaurant on the fourth floor. The one who’d supposedly packed an entire buffet into her belly. She was wide enough that Achi and Hitomi would never be able to slip past her.
“Hey! Outta the way!” Achi shouted. But the young woman ignored him.
Achi tried to push past, but he just bounced off her.
They were drifting inevitably back down toward the first floor. It was like they were riding a conveyor belt that was delivering them right to the assassin.
This was not good. If they didn’t do something soon, they’d-
Wait a sec...
Something must have caught the assassin’s eye; Achi saw him suddenly rush outside. There was no telling what had just happened, but now there was a chance to escape. Achi and Hitomi raced out the door.
Outside, the man with the cane was nowhere to be seen.
“Looks like we’re safe.” Achi let out a sigh.
“For now,” someone said. “Keep your eyes open.”
The sudden words made the two turn with a start. Canaan was standing right behind them. She’d gotten this close and neither of them had noticed a thing. She moved with all the skill of an assassin.
Achi felt a chill shoot through him.
|# ? May 11, 2020 21:22|
Minorikawa and Osawa are available.
|# ? May 11, 2020 21:23|
Let's go with Osawa, feels like it's been a while since we've heard from him.
|# ? May 11, 2020 22:00|
I do not want others intruding into my domain. Accordingly, I do not intrude on others. That is how I’ve lived my life. That is how I’ve forged my sense of calm. But something has begun to drive me mad.
The boundaries between myself and others have started to collapse.
I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. I will become something other than myself. And that is one thing I fear I could never bear.
“Oh no you don’t!” Kajiwara tackled Tanaka as he strode toward the door. The two men collapsed in a heap in the front entryway.
“Hey!” Tanaka barked. “What are you doing?!”
“Hold still.” Kajiwara ran his bug tracker over Tanaka’s body.
It began beeping loudly.
“Aha!” Kajiwara pulled off Tanaka’s necktie clip. “It’s a listening device.”
Tanaka’s face went pale.
“Where did you get this?” Kajiwara demanded.
“I, ah...well...” Tanaka trailed off into silence.
“I gave it to him.” It was Ai, who had appeared on the second floor landing.
“You...you were listening in?” Osawa asked brokenly.
“Ma’am,” Kajiwara said, “would you mind explaining this?” For once he seemed deadly serious.
“Hmph. I was barely able to hear a thing. That’s what I get for going with something so cheap.” Ai held out a dangling earpiece.
“When and where did you get that?”
“Earlier today. When I left to do some shopping.”
“And why did you plant a listening device on Mr. Tanaka?” Kajiwara asked.
“That’s what I want to know!” Tanaka chimed in. “Why would you do this, Mrs. Osawa?” He was trembling.
“You were outside emailing someone earlier, weren’t you, Mr. Tanaka? I saw you from the window.”
“Emailing?” Kajiwara looked into Tanaka’s face.
Ai nodded. “He came back into the house shortly afterward, and I asked him where he’d gone. And what do you think he said, hmm?” She was practically gloating, playing to her little audience. She began stalking down the stairs.
“He said he’d gone to check on something at the lab! Despite the fact that he was out in the yard there fiddling with his phone the whole time! So I figured if I bugged him, he might show his true colors and-”
“Enough.” Osawa cut his wife off. Tanaka had been emailing Hitomi, of course. But he couldn’t reveal that now.
“I think I get what happened here,” Kajiwara interposed. He folded his arms. “Your wife thought that Mr. Tanaka was in contact with the kidnappers. And so she planted a listening device on him.” The detective peered at Tanaka. “Who were you emailing, sir?”
“Yes, that’s right!” Ai chirped. “Show us your phone, Mr. Tanaka! Let’s see what you were really up to! Or is there some reason you don’t want to show us?”
Osawa started to panic. If the police checked that cell phone, they’d find the emails from Hitomi. And if the kidnappers somehow found out about that, Maria’s life would be in danger. But Ai was still relentlessly advancing on Tanaka.
“Ai, stop this!”
“Darling?” She turned to him in surprise.
“Tanaka was sending emails on my behalf,” Osawa said. “I asked him to do it.”
“And just who was he emailing?”
|# ? May 13, 2020 21:00|
I want to see the C dead end
|# ? May 13, 2020 22:07|
Is that a Cutie Honey reference? But yeah sure, let's see Osawa try to deadpan his way out of this one with C.
|# ? May 14, 2020 06:08|
“It was Pretty Honey.” The room went silent.
“Uh...Pretty...wait, what did you say?” Kajiwara asked after a long awkward moment.
“Honey,” Osawa replied meekly.
“My apologies. I didn’t quite catch that. One more time?”
“Pretty Honey...” Osawa’s voice was scarcely audible.
“'Pretty Honey’?” Ai asked, sounding ashamed on his behalf . “Who’s that?”
Osawa felt his cheeks burning. Of all the names he might have chose, why had he picked that one?
“Who is it, sir?” Kajiwara demanded. He regarded Osawa’s face keenly.
“A personal associate of mine. You wouldn’t know them.”
“But why ask Tanaka to send the messages?” Kajiwara asked. “Don’t you have a computer in your study? Couldn’t you have sent the emails yourself?”
“My computer was having problems sending email. I’m not sure what the issue was. Look, the point is, there’s no reason to worry about Tanaka’s emails. Now I assume we’re done here? I need Tanaka to run some errands for me.” With that, Osawa opened the front door. Tanaka gave him a quick bow and headed out the door.
“Hey! Wait!” Ai started to go after him.
“Just calm down.” Osawa barred the way. “There’s no way he’s connected to the kidnappers. Can’t you see that?” His voice cracked, and he shuddered at a sudden rush of emotion.
“There, there, sir,” Kajiwara said consolingly. “She’s just deeply worried about your daughter.”
Ai turned around and marched back upstairs.
“But still, if she is that worried, giving a tie clip as a gift seems a bit...” Kajiwara’s muttering trailed off.
“What do you mean?” Osawa asked.
“Ah, nothing. Not important.” The detective waved a hand dismissively; but there had been a definite note of suspicion in his voice.
General Tip – Tie clip posted:
Clothing accessory meant to hold one’s necktie in place. In the old days, they were a quintessential part of the salaryman’s outfit along with cufflinks and the company badge. Recently tie clips have come back into vogue with some older men, now more frequently referred to as “tie bars.”
“Well-back to work.” Kajiwara headed back into the living room.
Osawa returned to his study and sat in front of his computer. He had no desire to be in the presence of the detectives who now crowded his living room. The Aya Kamiki fan forum for people forty and over was still open on his monitor. He reloaded the page and saw that his earlier thread had gotten a reply. It was from Pretty Honey, a regular contributor to Osawa’s threads.
428 Tip – Pretty Honey posted:
Username of someone who posts regularly on the Aya Kamiki fan forum. Seems to know a lot about agriculture and the police, as evidenced by statements such as “if the world were a farm with 100 people...” as well as a tendency to post to another site called “The 87th Precinct Telecommunity.” Incidentally, Shinya Kano’s girlfriend Rumi also posts to the 87th Precinct Telecommunity from time to time. She has had several massive arguments with Pretty Honey there, with the latter criticizing the police for not doing their job, while Rumi insists that policework is very difficult and deserves more credit.
The message was festooned with the sort of emoticons that a young girl might use. Pretty Honey claimed to be a 19 year old female college student. Although the community was meant for Aya Kamiki fans forty and over, the settings allowed anyone to post there. The only young woman among the members, however, was Pretty Honey.
The thread continued:
General Tip – Fortune-telling posted:
He clicked the link, and the Aya Fortune-Teller page came up. It asked you to enter your birthdate and sex, and then ‘Aya Kamiki’ would offer her advice. Osawa followed the instructions, entering his date of birth, selecting ‘Male,’ and then clicking ‘Next.’ A few seconds later, his fortune was displayed.
Lost in Thought.
[You’re a Very Work-Minded Person]
He’d hoped for some insight on Maria, but instead it was just a write-up about his personality.
You’d never be able to get by without the devoted support of those around you, but you probably don’t realize that, do you? It’s a big mistake to think you can get through all of life’s challenges on your own. There’s nothing cool about being ignorant.
If you don’t get over your indifference to the world, the world might start to harbor quite a grudge. Find a way to connect more deeply with the people around you and start living a better life before it’s too late. Just do that, and you’re sure to have a wonderful future ahead!
Famous People Who Got Your Result: Shinnosuke Oarai (Playwright)
428 Tip – Shinnosuke Oarai posted:
The head of the Wandering Angels theater troupe. He has an interview appointment with Minoru Minorikawa at 2:30 this afternoon.
Osawa couldn’t help but feel that the advice was painfully appropriate. He went back to the forum and replied to Pretty Honey.
Nice to hear from you again, Pretty Honey. I definitely know how you feel about Aya Kamiki being “ours.” Still, I’m confident she’s got what it takes to persevere and succeed in America. And if she does fail, well...all of us in Japan will be here to welcome her back all the same.
Osawa clicked ‘Post’ and leaned back in his chair.
“Mr. Osawa! Mr. Osawa!” It was Kajiwara, shouting from outside the door.
“First the toilet, then lunch... What is it now?”
“There’s been a development in the case. Please join us in the living room. We have important matters to discuss.” Kajiwara had his ‘detective face’ on.
When Osawa entered the living room, Ai was already there, looking stern and solemn.
“Now that you’re both here,” Kajiwara said, “allow me to share what we know. We’ve identified a location that appears to be the syndicate’s hideout.”
“You have? What about Maria-is she there?!” Osawa exclaimed.
“We still haven’t been able to ascertain whether your daughter is safe.”
“Well then what were these ‘important matters’ you needed to discuss?!” Osawa felt a wave of anxiety rush through him.
“The hideout in question is a condominium in Hiroo. And it’s owned by-.”
“Mr. Osawa, please calm down.”
“Tell me! Go on, out with it!”
Kajiwara took a deep breath. “The residence is owned...”
“...by Mamoru Tanaka.”
Osawa was speechless. He couldn’t process what he was hearing. Tanaka?
“Lies!” Ai shrieked. “Just what are you implying? That Mr. Tanaka is the kidnapper? Where’s your proof?!”
“With all due respect, ma’am, weren’t you suspicious of Mr. Tanaka yourself?”
“I... Well, I suppose, but-”
“You did go so far as to stick a listening device on him.”
Flustered, Ai withdrew into a vacant silence.
The sudden ringing of the phone startled everyone in the room.
Was that...was that Tanaka? No, it couldn’t be. There was no way...
The phone was wiretapped. The detective wearing the headset nodded to Kajiwara, who in turn motioned for Osawa to pick up.
“Hello?” he said cautiously.
“Ah, hello. Is this the home of Maria Osawa?” The voice was not Tanaka’s.
Osawa didn’t recognize it, but the veil of despair that hung before him thinned slightly.
“Is this the home of Hitomi Osawa?” This time, the man on the phone used Hitomi’s name, instead.
“Yes, that’s right.” The caller immediately hung up.
As Osawa stood there, dumbstruck, Kajiwara gently took the receiver and hung up the phone.
One of the detectives addressed Kajiwara. “We’ve traced the source of the call to a cell phone. Also, we’ve pinpointed the base station used. Inform Director Kuze so he can prepare a team, just in case.”
“Just in case?” Osawa asked. “What do you mean by that?”
Kajiwara frowned slightly. “Just because this is a kidnapping case doesn’t mean that every phone call comes from the kidnapper. We’ll look into it, of course, but...”
“Ah. I see.”
“Besides, right now, confirming Mr. Tanaka’s whereabouts takes priority. Don’t you agree?”
“Someone should call him,” the detective added.
“I’ll do it!” Ai got out her cell phone and dialed up Tanaka.
HydroSphere fucked around with this message at 21:02 on May 15, 2020
|# ? May 15, 2020 21:00|
I don't know.
|# ? May 16, 2020 00:21|
“I don’t actually know.” Even leaving out the part about Hitomi, that was still the truth. If Tanaka was behind the kidnapping, Osawa knew he ought to tell the police about the blue minivan and the emails from his daughter. But part of him still trusted Tanaka deep down, and he couldn’t bring himself to reveal it all.
“We have investigators en route to Tanaka’s condominium,” Kajiwara said. “Let’s wait for them to report in.”
On the far side of the room, Ai was squawking in frustration. Despite several attempts, she hadn’t been able to get through to Tanaka.
Kajiwara’s phone rang and he pulled it from his pocket. “Kano? What’s going on?” He headed into one corner as he spoke into the receiver. “I suppose that’d be all right. What for, though?’ After a few more quiet words, Kajiwara held his phone out to Osawa. “One of the investigators on the scene would like to speak with you.”
Frowning in confusion, Osawa took hold of the phone.
“Osawa speaking. Can I help you?”
“This is Detective Kano, from the Shibuya precinct. Time is critical, so I need to just cut to the chase, here.” There was a pause as the speaker took a deep breath before continuing. .
“Did you give the antiviral drug to your daughter Hitomi?”
“What...” Osawa was so startled that his voice caught in his throat. “Ah, what are you talking about?” The antiviral research was top secret. So how did some detective from the Shibuya precinct know about it? Osawa was bewildered.
“I’m the one asking the questions here, Mr. Osawa. Did you give the antiviral drug to your daughter Hitomi?”
“I’m...I’m not sure I understand the question.”
“I know what this syndicate is really after, Mr. Osawa.”
Osawa’s mind went blank when he heard what Kano said next. He could give no reply.
“Mr. Osawa?” the detective continued after a moment. “Is everything all right?”
Without really thinking, Osawa hung up.
They were after the virus? Did he mean the Ua virus kept at the lab? Wait...hold on. The detective had to be wrong about that. The kidnappers must have the Ua Virus already. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have had to do what I did to Hitomi...
DO NOT LOOK AWAY. THESE ARE YOUR CRIMES.
At last, Osawa understood what those emails from ‘A’ were all about. They were a preview of the tragedy that was yet to unfold. The kidnappers probably meant to start the main event soon. It might already be too late to stop them.
“Mr. Osawa?” Kajiwara asked. “ Are you all right?” The detective gazed with concern into Osawa’s ashen face.
Bracing himself, Osawa spoke up, his voice hoarse and dry.
“A killer virus is about to be unleashed in Tokyo. And I know who’s responsible. It’s me.”
The sudden confession caused the detectives on site to stir like a hornet nest.
“Please, arrest me.” Feeling the weight of his crimes crushing down on him, Osawa dropped his gaze to the floor; he held out both his wrists. “I’ll tell you everything down at the station,” he said. “Anything you need to know.”
Osawa imagined bodies dropping left and right. There were limits to what might be cured by the small stockpile of antiviral his lab currently contained. If they were unable to quarantine the infected in time, then Shibuya-no, all of Japan might be engulfed in a pandemic that the drug could never stop.
General Tip – Pandemic posted:
A massive outbreak of a particular infection on a regional or global scale. In 14th Century Europe, a massive cholera outbreak is said to have killed two-thirds of the population, and the Spanish Flu outbreak in the early 20th Century killed at least 25 million people worldwide. Given modern advances in transportation, some researchers are of the opinion that the global risk of a pandemic is higher than ever before.
He could only hope that his complying with the authorities might help stop the spread of the infection before it was too late.
|# ? May 17, 2020 21:00|
Kano and Minorikawa are available.
|# ? May 17, 2020 21:00|
You know what forget the main plot, let's just go check on Minorikawa.
|# ? May 17, 2020 22:03|
Given modern advances in transportation, some researchers are of the opinion that the global risk of a pandemic is higher than ever before.
Let's take a break with Minorikawa.
|# ? May 18, 2020 02:49|
“NOOOOOOOO!” Minorikawa’s cry of despair echoed throughout the café. His laptop monitor stared back at him, black and empty. “Don’t you die on me, buddy!” He jabbed his finger sharply at the screen.
But the computer gave no response, looking well and truly dead.
“What the hell?!” Minorikawa pounded his fist on the table. This would be a worst-case scenario even if he weren’t desperately pressed for time. Guess I’ll just have to write by hand, then. He rummaged around inside his bag and pulled out a notebook. “I can still do this!” he shouted, doing his best to psyche himself up for the task ahead. “I will still do this!”
“Ah, excuse me, sir?” The waitress appeared timidly beside him.
“What?” Minorikawa snapped, his pen still flying across the paper.
“Sir, if you could please quiet down...”
“My drat computer just broke! I’m allowed a scream or two!” Minorikawa was in no state of mind to be quiet. If it weren’t for the deadline he was racing to meet, he’d probably have gone on screaming until he passed out.
“Your computer is...broken, you say?” The waitress peered at the monitor.
“Yeah, look! It just suddenly stopped displaying anything!”
“Could it be that, ah, the battery is just dead?”
Minorikawa sat bolt upright.
The waitress flinched as Minorikawa’s finger jabbed toward her face.
“I hadn’t considered that possibility. Hey, lemme plug in somewhere!”
“There’s an outlet right there, sir.” She pointed at an outlet by Minorikawa’s feet, making no attempt to hide her exasperation.
Minorikawa plugged in the power cable, and the monitor sprang to life as normal.
“So, um, now that that’s sorted, would you please be quiet, sir?”
“Don’t talk to me. You’re interfering with my writing.” Minorikawa’s fingers had already begun dancing across his keyboard.
With a sigh, the waitress disappeared back into the kitchen.
“Oh yeah! Now we’re talking!” His fingers picked up speed as he went about touch-typing.
General Tip – Touch-typing posted:
The act of typing at a keyboard without looking at the keys. The aspiration of computer novices everywhere. The typical method involves placing the index fingers on the “F” and “J” keys, with the middle, ring, and pinky fingers resting on the “A,” “S,” and “D” or “K,” “L,” and “;” keys to either side, from which all other keys are easily reached. With practice, a touch typist can instinctively hit the correct key every time without looking.
“The Pros and Cons of Surveillance Cameras”
“Proprietor of Outdated Electronics Shop Oversees High—Tech Camera System”
“Bedlam at Bogus Weight-Loss Drink Sales Demo”
“Bankrupted Organizer Remains Undiscouraged”
Now Minorikawa’s spirits were riding high. His writing rolled along at a brisk pace.
“Sir?” It was the waitress again, her voice yanking Minorikawa right out of his soaring mood.
“Now what? Has the President of the United States agreed to give me a one-on-one interview?”
The waitress’ eyes went wide with confusion. “Huh?”
“Because unless it’s something that important, do not speak to me right now!”
But she was undeterred. “Sir, please, if you could just be a little quieter...”
Minorikawa’s fingers ceased their rattling across the keys.
“Just what sound do you have a problem with? All I’ve been doing is writing a copy.”
“Um, well...for the last while, actually, you’ve been talking while you write, sir.”
“Talking?” Minorikawa tilted his head in confusion.
“Yes, sir. You’ve been talking about an electronics store and some bogus weight-loss drink. I assume that’s what you’re writing about?”
“Uh...you’re saying I’ve been narrating my copy aloud while writing it?!”
“That’s right, sir.”
Other customers sitting nearby were openly snickering.
“Well, so what?!” he snapped. He was red in the face now. “You should all be delighted that you get to hear what I’m writing before the magazine goes to print!”
“Well, actually, sir, one of our customers has been complaining...”
“Complaining?! Of all the nerve! Who was it? Where are they?!” Minorikawa scanned the other patrons, many of whom were unsuccessfully trying to hide their laughter.
“It was me.” It was the grumpy older fellow who’d been making a scene earlier. “Bogus diet fads, peeping security cameras-reminds me of that sleazy tabloid Four-Star General Gossip I hate so much.”
“Oho. You sure seem to know a lot about it for something you hate so much.”
The man’s face twisted up with scorn. “Your behavior is bothering everyone in here,” he said. “Do you not understand that?”
“No. I don’t.”
“Hmph. Guess a reporter who writes nothing but nonsense prefers nonsense in everything he does.”
Minorikawa could feel his blood boiling. “What was that? Go on, say that again!”
428 Tip – Flimflam posted:
Bogus or insincere content. Few things anger Minorikawa more than reporters using dishonest means to create a story; having his own work called ‘flimflam’ would naturally make him blow his top.
“Just who are you calling ‘flimflam’?!”
The other man stood up and glowered in Minorikawa’s face. “You. You utterly lack any manners or sense of decency, for starters!”
“I have plenty of manners and decency! I also happen to have a deadline!”
“Bah! As if a flimflam artist like you has a work ethic!”
“Stop calling me ‘flimflam’!”
The waitress inserted herself between the two men. “Gentlemen, please! Stop fighting!”
“I demand that you remove this man at once!” the older fellow barked.
“He’s the one you should be kicking out!” Minorikawa shot back. By now he was ready to go for this guy’s throat.
“Please,” the waitress pleaded, “both of you, return to your seats!” She grabbed onto Minorikawa and began to forcibly drag him back to his table.
|# ? May 19, 2020 22:06|
Let's give Kano ANOTHER bad end.
|# ? May 19, 2020 23:29|
I feel so bad for that waitress, but gently caress that guy. PUNCH HIM
|# ? May 20, 2020 01:24|
|# ? May 20, 2020 04:03|
|# ? Jul 24, 2021 04:02|
Oh, it’s too late for that. Giving in to his anger, Minorikawa threw a punch at the troublemaker. “Grrah!”
The man dodged nimbly, however.
“Heh. You’re not bad.”
“I’m sixth dan in judo.”
“Ah. You shoulda mentioned that earlier.” Minorikawa hastily retreated to his seat.
The other man snorted and sat down with a scowl.
The needless interruption-just when he’d finally gotten into writing mode-had all but killed Minorikawa’s motivation. He decided he needed to take a breather.
He turned to the waitress. “One Spaghetti Napolitan, please!” He might not have a lot of spare time, but working on an empty stomach wouldn’t do him any favors. While waiting for his order to come out, he decided to read back over the copy he’d written so far.
General Tip – Spaghetti Napolitan posted:
Spaghetti flavored with tomato ketchup. “Napolitan” is a corruption of “Neapolitan,” though the dish itself has no connection to the Italian city of Naples (Napoli); rather, it originated as a menu item at a hotel in Yokohama shortly after World War II. There is also a spaghetti dish from Nagoya called “Milanese,’ which likewise has no connection to the Italian city of Milan.
“Bwuh?!” When he looked back at the monitor, the screen was black yet again. Looking down at his feet, he saw that the power cable was now unplugged. “Hey, what kind of café are you people running here?!” he shouted.
The waitress hurried over, looking combative. “Sir, you yanked that out yourself when you stood up earlier.”
“What?! A likely story!”
“It’s the truth, sir.”
Minorikawa pointed at one of the customers sitting next to him. “Is she telling the truth? Did I really yank my power cord out myself?”
The man nodded sheepishly.
“Yeah, well...then that’s the outlet’s fault for being someplace where it unplugs so easily!” Minorikawa squawked.
The waitress marched away, head held high.
“Just make sure that spaghetti’s delicious!” Minorikawa shouted after her. “Do that and I’ll consider us even! Oh, and load it with cheese. Lots of cheese!”
He plugged the power cable back in, then let out a heavy sigh. In all his writing fervor, he hadn’t thought to save his work. He was probably going to have to rewrite most of what he’d done.
General Tip – Save his work posted:
Always make sure to save your work to avoid losing data. Honestly, why is it that your computer only seems to freeze when you’ve forgotten to save your stuff?
Minorikawa looked up to see a young woman standing there.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “About my father.” She gave a tiny bow.
“Your father? Oh, the rude old man?”
“He’s just a little worked up right now. Please don’t pay him any mind.”
“So what, you waiting on your boyfriend?”
“Huh?” The woman was taken aback.
“I happened to hear you two arguing earlier. Would’ve been about two hours ago?”
“Oh. I see.” An awkward, embarrassed smile came to the woman’s face.
“I thought he was going to ask my father for permission to marry me, so we’ve been waiting for him, but...”
“But he hasn’t shown up?”
“No. He must be really busy.” She cast her eyes down sadly.
Minorikawa took a better look at her. She was gorgeous. A woman with her looks wasn’t something he saw every day, that was for sure.
“Say, would you mind talking with me for a bit?” he asked.
“Yeah. I kinda need to turn my mood around, here.”
“Well, uh...okay. At least until my father gets back.” The woman cast an anxious look toward the restrooms.
“What’s your name?”
“Rumi.” She sat down across from him.
“Wait a second. Aren’t you-” Minorikawa peered at Rumi’s face. “-one of those twins that was chosen as Miss Midoriyama?”
Rumi shook her head. “No, not me.”
“No? Darn. Didn’t think I’d be that lucky.” He took a sip of his now-cold coffee.
“I do know the girls you’re talking about, though,” Rumi said.
“Pffft!” Minorikawa spat out his coffee in surprise.
Rumi squeaked in alarm as the spray splattered her face.
But Minorikawa leaned in, unconcerned.
“You mean it?! You really know them?”
“Yes,” Rumi replied. “You’re talking about the Osawa twins, right?” She got out a handkerchief and wiped the coffee from her face as she spoke.
“Osawa, huh?” Minorikawa glanced down at the project proposal on the table.
Sexy Squared! Twins Share Top Prize at Local University Beauty Contest
(Midoriyama Academy / Maria & Hitomi Osawa)
“Yes, that’s it. The Osawa twins!”
“I actually won Miss Midoriyama myself a few years ago. This year I served as one of the judges.”
“Hmm.” Minorikawa adopted a self-satisfied pose. “Guess I really was born under the right sign to be a freelancer. The leads just come to me!”
“Uh...sure,” Rumi muttered.
“Okay, let’s talk basics, then. Tell me what you know about these girls.”
“Well, I don’t really know them personally.” Rumi continued to dab at the coffee on her face. “But now that you ask...I do remember hearing that they’d entered the contest separately.”
“Wait. Separately?” Now Minorikawa was a bit confused.
“Yes, that’s right. I’d assumed they’d entered as a pair, but apparently not.”
“I wonder why. I mean, they’re twins. Don’t they look alike, wear the same clothes, do everything together, and say the same things at the same time and stuff?”
Rumi chuckled and shook her head. “No, not at all. Besides, these two aren’t identical-they’re fraternal twins,” she said.
General Tip – Fraternal twins posted:
Twins who were born at the same time, from two eggs that were fertilized separately. Fraternal twins do not share the same genetic information; they can differ in such characteristics as sex and blood type, though there are cases of fraternal twins resembling one another almost as closely as identical twins.
“Although at a glance, they do look very similar. Still...how should I put this? They both give off a very different impression.”
“Oh? Now that sounds interesting. Mind explaining what you mean?” Minorikawa opened his memo pad.
“I talked to them briefly after the award ceremony. The older sister struck me as really energetic, but the younger one was more quiet and reserved.”
Minorikawa’s investigative senses were tingling. “I wouldn’t figure a shy girl would want to enter a campus beauty contest.”
“I suppose not, no.”
“Mmm. Yeah. I don’t suppose you’ve got anything juicier?” Minorikawa asked.
Rumi frowned. “Would you like to just go ask them yourself?” she said. “They don’t live very far from here.”
“Whoa, hold the phone!” Minorikawa could hardly believe what had just fallen into his lap. The advance info in the project proposal had mentioned the girls were students at Midoriyama, but hadn’t given an actual address. If he could talk to them directly, now that would be pay dirt. “You know where they live?”
“Well, not exactly. I just heard that they lived in Shoto.”
“Aha, Shoto!” That wasn’t far away. A car or motorcycle could get there in about ten minutes. It’d be quicker than going to Midoriyama Academy, and he’d be able to meet with the girls themselves.
Minorikawa flashed a quick look toward the restroom; it looked like Rumi’s father had just gotten back.
“Sorry,” she said. “I should be going.”
“No problem. And thank you.”
Rumi gave him a quick nod, then hurried back to her seat.
Minorikawa grabbed the directory from the public phone and flipped through the pages. To his surprise, there were only five listings for the name ‘Osawa’ with addresses in Shoto. There was neither a ‘Maria’ nor a ‘Hitorni,’ but he hadn’t expected there to be; he’d need to find their parents. Wasting no time, he called up the first Osawa on the list.
Minorikawa couldn’t help but pump his fist in excitement. He’d gotten the right place on his first try. “Way to go, me!” He committed the house number listed in the phone book to memory.
Just then the waitress reappeared with a disgruntled expression and Minorikawa’s order of Spaghetti Napolitan. “Here you are, sir.”
The pasta was piled high with an impressive mound of grated cheese. It looked almost like a miniature mountain of snow.
“You did say ‘lots of cheese,’ sir,” the waitress told him. She set down a canister of cheese and a bottle of Tabasco.
“Ooh. This looks good!” Minorikawa exclaimed. He twirled some spaghetti up with his fork and shoved it into his mouth.
The slightly sour sweetness of the ketchup blended perfectly with the mellow flavor of the cheese. “Oh, that is tasty!” There was nothing like satisfying grub to lift the spirits. He turned back to his laptop, still wolfing down the spaghetti. “All right! We’re back in action! Let’s do this!” Yet again he unthinkingly blurted his words aloud as he slipped back into writing mode. “I’ve got this! I’ve got this!” With ketchup smeared around his mouth, he set his fingers tapping away at the keys.
The waitress let out another groan of dismay.
“Huh? You say somethin’?” Minorikawa glanced in her direction, but the waitress faked a smile.
“No, sir, I don’t think so.”
“Yeah? Well then go away. You’re distracting me.”
The moment he looked away she clenched her fist in indignation.
“Nothing, sir. Good luck with your work, sir.”
“I don’t need luck. I’ve got this.”
Eyes jumping back and forth between pasta and computer, Minorikawa got to work on his copy once more. Before long, he was oblivious to every sound in the cafe around him.
When he finally snapped out of writing mode, he glanced at his watch. It was 2:20. Almost time for him to head to his next interview.
Better get a move on.
Kimizuka’s taxi came by just as Minorikawa was hurrying out of the café.
“Well, what a pleasant surprise!” Minorikawa called out. “Nice timing, my man.”
Kimizuka’s startled look quickly vanished behind an expression of professional resignation.
“Do you need a ride, sir?”
“You know it,” Minorikawa replied. “First, head to Shoto. After that, I’ll need to get to Sakuragaoka.”
As he cast his gaze out at the sights of the city, Minorikawa mulled over his plan for the next part of the day. First he’d interview the Miss Midoriyama girls, then he’d meet with the head of that theater troupe. In order to leave himself enough time to write his copy, that meant... “I’d like to get this all wrapped up in twenty minutes,” he said. “Can you make that happen?”
Kimizuka flashed a grin. “That will incur a special fare, sir.”
“Ooh, ‘special,’” Minorikawa said as he got settled in his seat. “I love that word.”
Kimizuka stepped on the gas.
Shibuya was a town of contrasts. It was a town of young people, unpretentious, energetic-the scramble intersection and Center Gai perfectly conveyed that vibrancy. However, if one turned right at the 109 building and headed down Bunkamura-Dori, the town’s whole atmosphere changed.
Shoto was one of Shibuya’s-indeed, one of Tokyo’s-most upscale residential districts. Wherever one looked, there were stately manor houses, giving off an imposing air, sending the message that this was no place for the common folk.
“Right here’s fine.” Minorikawa directed Kimizuka to pull over. “Wait here for me. I’ll be right back.” Hopping out of the taxi, he checked the nameplates of the nearby homes.
Ah, here we go. He’d spotted a nameplate that read ‘Osawa.’ “Kenji Osawa, huh?”
The name nagged at him, somehow. It had been in the back of his mind ever since he’d seen it in the phone book back at the café. Had he heard it someplace before? He walked up the to gate and pressed the button for the intercom. Even the little chime it made when pressed sounded elegant.
Minorikawa waited; but there was no response. He looked at his watch. It was 2:30 now. His interview with Shinnosuke Oarai of the Wandering Angels was supposed to have started already. Still, he wanted to meet with the twins first if it was possible.
428 Tip – Wandering Angels posted:
[Episode 3] With help from Shin’ichi Bando, Mondo was able to get out of his apartment. Then, when all the players had finally assembled, the troupe proceeded with one last rehearsal before show time. But again, tragedy struck-Mondo came down with food poisoning after eating his lunch! He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, and the Angels were once again lacking an actor for the key role of Shido. Oarai was on the verge of panic. Finally, however, he came up with a solution. Novice actor Takuya Amo (age 31) would take on the part...(Continued in Episode 4)
|# ? May 21, 2020 21:29|