Another ordinary day in Tokyo - 428: Shibuya Scramble.

Put your Let's Plays in here.
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428: Shibuya Scramble is a visual novel adventure video game produced by Koichi Nakamura with Jiro Ishii serving as executive producer, developed by Nakamura's company Chunsoft, and initially published by Sega, originally in Japan for the Wii on December 4, 2008. The game was ported by Spike to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable in September 2009. A version for iOS and Android was released in November 2011. A PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows version was released in September 2018, the first and currently only versions to be translated into English.

The game shares many story and gameplay elements with Chunsoft's 1998 sound novel game Machi, the most prominent being the locale, Shibuya. Although Chunsoft does not openly state 428 is a sequel, the game contains numerous references to Machi, and an early marketing slogan reads "Breaking a long silence, Shibuya gets going again." The game has received high praise from critics, earning a perfect score in Famitsu Weekly, Japan's largest circulating video game magazine, as well as acclaim from international publications.

(Information taken from Wikipedia.)

A few notes about this LP:

The first five hours are covered on Something Awful (links below), I recommend you read these updates first.

No spoilers, please. The main draw of 428 is the story. Speculation is more than welcome.

Audience Participation: 428 will explain this in greater detail, but essentially, we have five playable characters, and we need get each character through the day, one hour at a time. Once all five characters have reached the end of the hour, the next hour will unlock.

Throughout the day, each character will have to make decisions that may impact that character directly, or affect another of the five characters. Every time a decision comes up, I'll be looking to the audience to vote for their choice. When voting, please note that 428 has a lot of bad endings. Some of them are straight up bad endings, others are amusing, or outright weird, and a lot of them are worth seeing. This leads to the next point:

This will not be a 100% playthrough. Mainly because honestly, I'm not that keen on a lot of the post-game content, and getting all the endings becomes something of a chore later into the game. At this time, I am currently not planning on showing off any bad endings missed during the playthrough.

Two things to bear in mind when voting, first, each hour is self contained. A decision made in the 10:00 block won't change anything in the 11:00 block. Secondly, it's completely possible for Character A to make a decision that will cause a bad end for Character B, but won't stop A from reaching the end of the hour.

Index:

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10:00, Part One – Kano.
10:00, Part Two - Achi / Kano.
10:00, Part Three - Kano.
10:00, Part Four - Achi.
10:00, Part Five - Achi.
10:00, Part Six - Achi / Kano.

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11:00, Part One - Tama.
11:00, Part Two - Tama.
11:00, Part Three - Tama.
11:00, Part Four - Achi / Minorikawa.
11:00, Part Five - Achi / Osawa.
11:00, Part Six - Tama.
11:00, Part Seven - Tama.
11:00, Part Eight - Tama.
11:00, Part Nine - Kano.
11:00, Part Ten - Kano.
11:00, Part Eleven - Kano.
11:00, Part Twelve - Minorikawa.
11:00, Part Thirteen - Minorikawa.
11:00, Part Fourteen - Minorikawa.
11:00, Part Fifteen - Minorikawa.
11:00, Part Sixteen - Minorikawa.
11:00, Part Seventeen - Achi.
11:00, Part Eighteen - Achi.
11:00, Part Nineteen - Osawa.
11:00, Part Twenty - Osawa.
11:00, Part Twenty One - Osawa.

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12:00, Part One - Kano
12:00, Part Two - Kano.
12:00, Part Three - Kano.
12:00, Part Four - Minorikawa.
12:00, Part Five - Minorikawa.
12:00, Part Six - Tama.
12:00, Part Seven - Tama.
12:00, Part Eight - Tama.
12:00, Part Nine - Kano.
12:00, Part Ten - Kano.
12:00, Part Eleven - Osawa.
12:00, Part Twelve - Osawa.
12:00, Part Thirteen - Osawa.
12:00, Part Fourteen - Minorikawa.
12:00, Part Fifteen - Minorikawa.
12:00, Part Sixteen - Minorikawa / Achi.
12:00, Part Seventeen - Achi.
12:00, Part Eighteen - Achi.
12:00, Part Nineteen - Achi.
12:00, Part Twenty - Achi.
12:00, Part Twenty One - Osawa.
12:00, Part Twenty Two - Osawa.
12:00, Part Twenty Three - Kano.
12:00, Part Twenty Four - Kano.
12:00, Part Twenty Five - Minorikawa / Tama.

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13:00, Part One - Tama.
13:00, Part Two - Tama.
13:00, Part Three - Achi.
13:00, Part Four - Achi.
13:00, Part Five - Tama.
13:00, Part Six - Kano.
13:00, Part Seven - Minorikawa.
13:00, Part Eight - Minorikawa.
13:00, Part Nine - Minorikawa.
13:00, Part Ten - Osawa.
13:00, Part Eleven - Osawa.
13:00, Part Twelve - Osawa.
13:00, Part Thirteen - Osawa.
13:00, Part Fourteen - Osawa.
13:00, Part Fifteen - Tama.
13:00, Part Sixteen - Tama.
13:00, Part Seventeen - Tama.
13:00, Part Eighteen - Achi.
13:00, Part Nineteen - Achi.
13:00, Part Twenty - Achi.
13:00, Part Twenty One - Kano.
13:00, Part Twenty Two - Kano.
13:00, Part Twenty Three - Kano.
13:00, Part Twenty Four - Achi.
13:00, Part Twenty Five - Achi.
13:00, Part Twenty Six - Achi.
13:00, Part Twenty Seven - Osawa / Tama.
13:00, Part Twenty Eight - Minorikawa.
13:00, Part Twenty Nine - Minorikawa.
13:00, Part Thirty - Kano.

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14:00, Part One - Kano.
14:00, Part Two - Achi.
14:00, Part Three - Achi.
14:00, Part Four - Achi.
14:00, Part Five - Achi.
14:00, Part Six - Achi.
14:00, Part Seven - Tama.
14:00, Part Eight - Tama.
14:00, Part Nine - Tama.
14:00, Part Ten - Tama.
14:00, Part Eleven - Tama.
14:00, Part Twelve - Tama.
14:00, Part Thirteen - Achi.
14:00, Part Fourteen - Tama / Achi.
14:00, Part Fifteen - Achi.
14:00, Part Sixteen - Osawa.
14:00, Part Seventeen - Osawa.
14:00, Part Eighteen - Osawa.
14:00, Part Nineteen - Minorikawa.
14:00, Part Twenty - Minorikawa.
14:00, Part Twenty One - Minorikawa.
14:00, Part Twenty Two - Kano.
14:00, Part Twenty Three - Kano.
14:00, Part Twenty Five - Kano.
14:00, Part Twenty Six - Minorikawa / Osawa.
14:00, Part Twenty Seven - Minorikawa.
14:00, Part Twenty Eight - Minorikawa.
14:00, Part Twenty Nine - Osawa.

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15:00, Part One - Minorikawa.
15:00, Part Two - Minorikawa.
15:00, Part Three - Minorikawa.
15:00, Part Four - Tama.
15:00, Part Five - Tama.
15:00, Part Six - Osawa.
15:00, Part Seven - Osawa.
15:00, Part Eight - Osawa.
15:00, Part Nine - Achi.
15:00, Part Ten - Minorikawa.
15:00, Part Eleven - Minorikawa.
15:00, Part Twelve - Achi.
15:00, Part Thirteen - Achi.
15:00, Part Fourteen - Achi.
15:00, Part Fifteen - Achi.
15:00, Part Sixteen - Achi.
15:00, Part Seventeen - Tama.
15:00, Part Eighteen - Tama.
15:00, Part Nineteen - Tama.
15:00, Part Twenty - Kano.
15:00, Part Twenty One - Kano.
15:00, Part Twenty Two - Kano.
15:00, Part Twenty Three - Minorikawa.
15:00, Part Twenty Four - Kano.
15:00, Part Twenty Five - Kano.
15:00, Part Twenty Six - Kano.
15:00, Part Twenty Seven - Kano / Osawa.

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16:00, Part One - Minorikawa.
16:00, Part Two - Minorikawa.
16:00, Part Three - Minorikawa.
16:00, Part Four - Achi.
16:00, Part Five - Achi.
16:00, Part Six - Achi.
16:00, Part Seven - Achi.
16:00, Part Eight - Tama.
16:00, Part Nine - Tama.
16:00, Part Ten - Kano.
16:00, Part Eleven - Kano.
16:00, Part Twelve - Kano.
16:00, Part Thirteen - Tama.
16:00, Part Fourteen - Minorikawa.
16:00, Part Fifteen - Osawa.
16:00, Part Sixteen - Osawa.
16:00, Part Seventeen - Osawa.
16:00, Part Eighteen - Minorikawa.
16:00, Part Nineteen - Minorikawa.
16:00, Part Twenty - Minorikawa.

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17:00, Part One - Minorikawa.
17:00, Part Two - Minorikawa.
17:00, Part Three - Minorikawa.
17:00, Part Four - Minorikawa.
17:00, Part Five - Minorikawa.
17:00, Part Six - Osawa.
17:00, Part Seven - Osawa / Achi.
17:00, Part Eight - Achi.
17:00, Part Nine - Achi / Kano.
17:00, Part Ten - Kano.
17:00, Part Eleven - Kano.
17:00, Part Twelve - Kano.
17:00, Part Thirteen - Kano.
17:00, Part Fourteen - Kano.
17:00, Part Fifteen - Achi.
17:00, Part Sixteen - Achi.
17:00, Part Seventeen - Kano.
17:00, Part Eighteen - Osawa.

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18:00, Part One - Minorikawa.
18:00, Part Two - Minorikawa.
18:00, Part Three - Minorikawa.
18:00, Part Four - Minorikawa.
18:00, Part Five - Minorikawa.
18:00, Part Six - Minorikawa.
18:00, Part Seven - Minorikawa.
18:00, Part Eight - Kano / Achi.
18:00, Part Nine - Achi.
18:00, Part Ten - Achi.
18:00, Part Eleven - Achi.
18:00, Part Twelve - Achi / Kano.
18:00, Part Thirteen - Kano.
Last edited by HydroSphere on Mon Sep 20, 2021 9:10 pm, edited 68 times in total.

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Image Setup.

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Image On The Move.

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Hmm. Wait a second. I feel like there’s something I ’m forgetting.

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“Gahhhhh!”

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Minorikawa stopped and let out a cry of frustration. Daisuke Endo had asked him for a favor after their interview was done.

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He’d promised to tell the Wandering Angels that the dry ice machine they’d purchased was defective.
428 Tip – Wandering Angels wrote:[Episode 5] At last, the climax of the play drew near. There was a whole string of troubles, but the cast soldiered on, and it looked like things were going to end all right. Then, backstage, Bando noticed that the dry ice machine was acting strangely; even after it had been turned off, the machine continued to churn out more dry ice. The producer, Sukozawa, demanded that the defective device he returned immediately, and so Tozuka, Bando, and Amo loaded it into their vehicle and left the theater. (Continued in Episode 6)
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Well, damn. That had completely slipped his mind. If he recalled correctly, the issue was that once the machine started making dry ice, it wouldn’t stop. If he ran back to the theater now, he’d lose about ten minutes. Minorikawa checked his wristwatch.

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The loan people would be coming by the editing office before too long. He needed to prove to them that next month’s issue of Four-Star General Gossip was well underway, or else they’d refuse to wait any longer for repayment. And to do that, he needed to fill a minimum of six of the twelve remaining blank pages. He couldn’t afford to waste even a single second. This was an awkward position to be in.

He needed to keep his promise to Endo. But he also needed to spend his time wisely. “Bah! Guess I don’t have a choice.”

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Image On The Move.

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He’d agreed to take on a responsibility. He headed back for the theater. When he got there, he flagged down the first guy he saw to tell him about the dry ice machine.

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“Hey, make sure you remember what I’m about to tell you, okay? The dry ice machine is broken.

The man stared back at him blankly, but Minorikawa just forged ahead. “Got it? The dry ice machine is broken. It needs to go back to the electronics store. Make sure you let the folks in charge here know!” His obligation met, he hurried back to the café to get back to work on his copy.

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Along the way, he caught sight of a young couple running. They seemed like an odd pair; the girl looked prim and proper, while the boy struck him as a bit thuggish. In fact, the boy’s clothing was very much in the style worn by Shibuya street gangs. Maybe he’d know something about S.O.S. Hurrying to cross their path, Minorikawa called out to the pair.

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“Hey, mind if I ask you something? Have you heard of S.O.S?”

The pair stopped, eyeing him warily. The young man spoke. “Yeah. Why do you ask?”

“Do you happen to be a member yourself?”

“No. No, not anymore...”

Well, if the kid had once been part of the group, he ought to be able to provide some background, anyhow.

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Minorikawa took a step closer to the couple, formulating his next question.

But they didn’t stick around to hear it. “Let’s go,” the young man said, and a moment later he and the girl were running away.

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“Ah, hey!”

But the pair paid him no heed. In a moment they had vanished down an alley. The story about S.O.S. would have to wait till later, then.

Image Yum Cha.

Minorikawa hurried into the café. Wasting no time, he sat right down and plugged his laptop into the nearest power outlet.

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He plunked himself down on the floor and hit the computer’s power switch.

The waitress gave him a disapproving look. “Sir, I’m afraid you can’t sit there.”

“Well, it looks like your tables are full. I’ll make do here.”

“Um, well, being able to make do isn’t really the issue...”

“I’ll have a coffee, please.”

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“Ugh. Just do whatever you want.” The waitress turned away and stared vacantly up at the ceiling.

“Y’know, a person can only get away with being obnoxious for so long. Sooner or later someone’s likely to call the police.”

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Minorikawa looked up from his work, startled to see the Burning Hammer salesman standing over him. “You. You’re Mr. Yanagishita.”

“Thank you so much for stopping by earlier! Are you going to write your article here?” Yanagishita eyed Minorikawa’s computer. “Ooh, that’s the latest model, isn’t it?”

“Look, I got no time to talk right now.” Minorikawa opened the file with his half-written copy.

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“Ooh, what’s this? ‘Chaos at Bogus Weight-Loss Drink Sales Demo.”’ Yanagishita read the copy aloud. “‘The organizer, Jun’ichiYanagishita, didn’t merely have a whiff of deceit about him; his breath also stunk.”’

“Sound good?” Minorikawa asked. “I wanted to make sure I gave an accurate impression.”

“Oh, I love what you’ve done with it. This is a great copy. Fantastic.” Yanagishita turned to look at him with a manic grin.

“Yeah, isn’t it?”

In a flash Yanagishita’s face went from grinning to livid.

Image Pursuit.

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“Like hell it is! You think I’m gonna just let you write something like that?!”

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Snatching up the computer, Yanagishita bolted out of the café.

“Hey! Get back here!” Minorikawa leapt to his feet and rushed off in pursuit.

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As he sprinted madly along, Yanagishita turned down a narrow alley. Minorikawa stayed close behind, desperate not to lose sight of him. His quarry began to weave his way through the back alleys of Shibuya. This guy clearly knew his way around town.

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By Miyashita Park they zipped up onto a pedestrian bridge. Just where the heck was this idiot going? Halfway across the overpass, Yanagishita suddenly stopped.

Confused, Minorikawa stopped as well. “Give that back!” he called

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The next moment, Yanagishita flashed a mocking grin and dangled the laptop over the railing.

Uh-oh. Minorikawa lunged toward him-but it was already too late.

The laptop left Yanagishita’s hand and went spinning down through the air.

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Then, as the two men struggled, Yanagishita himself toppled over the railing. Without hesitating, Minorikawa jumped down as well.

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“Whoooaaaaa!”

“Gwahaaah!”

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Minorikawa landed hard. As he struggled to regain his breath, he looked around and saw Yanagishita beside him. Incredibly, the laptop was safe in the charlatan’s grasp. Apparently he’d somehow managed to catch it in midair. Before Minorikawa could be too relieved, however, Yanagishita got to his feet and took off running again.

Image Impatience.

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“Get back here, you little weasel!”

“I don’t thiiiiiink sooooo!” This Yanagishita guy was infuriating.

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That, and he was really fast. Minorikawa considered himself a decent runner, but he couldn’t manage to gain on Yanagishita. If running away was a competetive sport, the guy would be a world-class superstar.

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As he ran along, a peculiar thought occurred to him. Hold on a minute. If he hates my copy that much, shouldn’t he have wanted my computer to break? Why’d he go out of his way to catch it like that? It made no sense at all. “Hey!” Minorikawa shouted between gasping breaths. “What are you planning to do with my laptop?”

Yanagishita glanced back at him.

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“Gonna sell it! Sorry ‘bout this!”

“What?!”

Minorikawa was taken aback.

“Consider it compensation for defamation of character!”

“C’mon, get real! It can’t be defamation if the article hasn’t run yet!”

“Then consider it an advance on the compensation!”
General Tip – Defamation of character wrote:In the civil sense, the act of unlawfully damaging another person’s character or reputation in the public eye; in the criminal sense, the act of disseminating damaging facts about an individual to an unspecified large number of people.
This was so nonsensical it made Minorikawa’s head hurt. But now at least he knew why Yanagishita had dived after the computer.

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The thief continued to weave his way through the side streets. His speed didn’t diminish in the slightest. Dammit, this guy has too much experience running away!

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Minorikawa’s stamina began to fade, and finally he lost sight of his quarry. But that didn’t mean he was ready to give up the search. There were articles on that computer that were right on the verge of completion. Whatever it took, he had to get it back. Yanagishita had said he was going to sell it. Where could he be headed, then?

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Well, if he's selling it, he's likely headed to the knicknack shop. It's the only place likely to let him through the front door.

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Image Impatience.

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Probably he was headded to a knickknack shop. Minorikawa recalled seeing one near the Burning Hammer demo site.

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He also recalled seeing a poster outside the place that read ‘We Buy Computers at Top Prices!’

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Damn. The guy had led him on a wild goose chase. That shop was surely where he was going to sell the laptop. Gulping a deep breath, he headed in that direction.

Image No music.

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“There you are, Yanagishita!”

Minorikawa burst into the shop on Center Gai, an accusing finger pointing squarely at the thief.

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“Listen, there’s no way I’m buying a computer that doesn’t have a power cable!”

“Details, details! All you sell here is junk, anyway!”

Yanagishita and shopkeeper had gotten into an argument. Minorikawa recognized the shopkeeper-it was the guy he’d run into on the roadside earlier.

“That computer belongs to me,” Minorikawa shouted as he marched up to them. “Give it back!”

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Yanagishita clutched the laptop to his chest. “Nuh-uh! I need the money!”

“Knock it off! You’re acting like a child!” Minorikawa tried to slap him out of his tantrum, but Yanagishita ducked to avoid the blow.

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And then, bizarrely, Yanagishita froze. A fierce gleam came to his eyes. “Th-th-th...tha-tha-tha...” He broke into an incomprehensible stammer.

Image Best.

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“That's it!” Yanagishita snatched up a flyer that his gaze had fixed on. “Iron Stomach, huh? This right here is my little bluebird of happiness!” he cried.

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“Y’know what? You can have this!” Yanagishita shoved the laptop into Minorikawa’s arms. “Hahahaha! And welcome to it, you idiot! I don’t need no worthless computer!”

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You’re the idiot, buster!” Minorikawa smacked Yanagishita right across the face.

“Ouch!”

Hitting him felt good. He decided to do it again.

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Minorikawa shoved Yanagishita toward the shopkeeper. “Hand this guy over to the police,” he said.

“Eep! No, not the police!” Yanagishita pleaded.

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“Can it, you thief! You tried to rip me off, and you have no idea how much is riding on my work You deserve ten thousand deaths.”

“Ten thousand? Isn’t that taking things just a little too far? I’m sorry, already! I give up!” Finally, the guy was ready to surrender. Minorikawa let his guard down for just a moment.
General Tip – Deserve ten thousand deaths wrote:Honestly, you’d think that dying once would be sufficient.
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“Like hell I am!”

Switching gears in an instant, Yanagishita took off running at full speed.

This again. “Get back here, you bastard!” Minorikawa was already in pursuit.

Image No music.

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He stuck with Yanagishita as far as Koen-Dori before losing track of him. The guy sure knew how to make a getaway.

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Breathing hard, Minorikawa stopped and took a look around the area. As he did, he heard a cell phone ringtone from somewhere nearby. It was the new single from the pop singer Aya Kamiki. Could that be Yanagishita’s phone? Huh. Could be. Somehow he struck Minorikawa as the type of guy who’d have a ringtone like that. It seemed worth looking into, anyhow; he had nothing else to go on. Minorikawa shifted his gaze around, trying to locate the source of the sound.

Image Mystery.

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Suddenly a massive fiery blast knocked him from his feet. By the time he realized it was an explosion, his senses were already shattered.

What just happened? He couldn’t see. He couldn’t hear. He couldn’t move his body. Where am I? For a while, all he could feel was an intense pain, but soon even that faded away. And then there was only darkness.

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RIP

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What... is happening?

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Everyone except for Minorikawa is available.

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Maria?

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Image Setup.

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Image Maneuvers.

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“Wait, hold on! Is my name Hitomi Osawa?!” At my shout, the man with the cane hesitates, his finger on the trigger.

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“What do you mean by that?” The barrel of the gun is still aimed squarely at my head.

“I mean exactly what I said. Is my name Hitomi Osawa? I don’t know who I am!”

“You’re trying to play games with me.”

“I’m not playing with anyone, I swear!” I’m utterly desperate now. Getting killed is one thing, but who wants to die without even knowing who they are?

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“Tell me! Am I Hitomi Osawa, or not?!”

The man gives me a good, hard look. “Dammit. I wonder...” He continues to study me along the barrel of the gun.

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“Tell me what you know.” It’s an order, not a request.

“What I know about what? Look, I have amnesia!” I quickly summarize what’s happened to me since I woke up in that storehouse.

The man listens intently, never taking his eyes off me. “Ah, I see. So that’s what’s going on, then.”

Image No music.

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Once I’m done with my story, the man with the cane sits down on an empty soda crate. Seems he believes me, at any rate. That’s a relief, if nothing else.

“So then, am I Hitomi Osawa?”

“No.”

“Then who is Hitomi Osawa? Is she someone who looks like me?”

“Shut your mouth,” the man spits. “Just be quiet.”

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His expression is vacant. “What am I going to do?” he mutters to himself.

“Um...if I’m not Hitomi Osawa, does that mean you don’t have any business with me?”

“Seems so.”

“In that case, can I go?”

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The assassin doesn’t answer. He lets his pistol hang limp in his hand, the muzzle dropping to point at the ground.

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I remain motionless, waiting for an opportunity to run away.

“I might not make it in time,” the man murmurs to himself under his breath.

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Not make it in time for what? I’m curious, now, but this is hardly the time or place to try to find out more. I’ve learned for certain that I’m not Hitomi Osawa...which basically tells me nothing. I ’m right back to square one on figuring out who I am.

The assassin has gone quiet; sitting on a pile of crates, he seems lost in thought. Still, I don’t dare try to get away; all I can do is stand and wait and mull over my own situation. Just who am I? I ask myself again and again.

I am...
I am...
I am...

“No, I have no business with you,” the man finally says.

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“Go. Don’t worry. I won’t follow you.”

I wonder if I can believe him. Maybe he’s just trying to get me off my guard so he can shoot me in the back.

“Do not go to the police, or go back home,” he continues. “Lay low by yourself somewhere for a while.”

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“How long is ‘a while?”’

“Until around sundown. This should all be over by then.”

It’ll all be over? I have no idea what ‘it’ is, but I decide not to pry in case he decides to change his mind. “Okay...I’m going to run away, now.”

“Sure.”

I take a slow step backward. I’m starting to turn away when he speaks up again. “Before you go, I need to tell you one more thing.”

“What’s that?”

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“When you get your memories back, I’m sure you’re going to hate me. And so I apologize in advance.”

Of course, I have no idea what he’s talking about, but it makes me even more uneasy.

“I truly am sorry.”

I’ve got no response for that, so I just give the man one last look before I turn and run.

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I decide to look for someplace to hide out for a while, as the gunman suggested. But since I don’t really know my left from my right in this town, that’s easier said than done. Before I realize it, I’ve made my way back to the knickknack shop where I bought the necklace.

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Maybe I could hide out in here? As I contemplate that possibility I hear an all-too-familiar voice.

“Tama Tama Tama Tama!”

Image Game.

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There’s Mr. Yanagishita on the floor of the shop; he’s been tied up with some rope.

“What happened, boss?”

“Look, this is all just-I was framed!”

Nah-whatever’s happened, I’m pretty sure it was all his fault. Just call it a hunch.

“He says I’m a thief! Well, I say he’s the thief for selling stuff he finds around town!”

“Hey!” the salesclerk steps into view, scowling. “Just what are you implying?”

What in the world is going on here? I haven’t the foggiest.

“Tama! Help me! Pweeease!” Yanagishita kicks and squirms like a hyperactive child.

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“Do you know this man?” the salesclerk asks.

“No. Well, I mean, sorta.”

“He’s a real pain. He’s been making a scene like this for as long as he’s been here.”

I find it hard to imagine a worse way to interfere with someone’s business.

“I hate to ask,” the clerk continues, “but could you take him to the police for me?”

“The police?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh, uh. Well, the police...” The gunman did specifically warn me not to go to them. I feel no loyalty to that killer-but I am reluctant to antagonize him. And for reasons I can’t explain, I have a strong sense that going to the police right now is a bad move. But Mr. Yanagishita isn’t privy to my thoughts, and he looks up at me with a hopeful gleam in his eye.

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“Yeah! That’ll work! Tama can take me to the police! And then we can put this all behind us! All’s well that ends well. Right?”

“Uh...well...sure.” Feeling like I have no choice, I leave the shop with him.

Image Eggplant.

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“Okay!” Mr. Yanagishita says excitedly as soon as we’re out of earshot. “Now let’s go find Chiri!”

“Huh? Aren’t we going to the pol—”

“What? No! We’re not really gonna go. Oh, man. I am so, so glad you showed up, Tama. Now c’mon! Let’s go find Chiri!”

From the big grin on his face, I have an inkling of what’s coming next. “You’ve thought of another get-rich-quick scheme, haven’t you?”

“Goodness, Tama, you can see right through me.”

“Uh, it’s not that difficult. It’s practically written all over your face, boss.” But Mr. Yanagishita isn’t really listening. He’s too full of enthusiasm.

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“This time I got a line on ten million yen! So c’mon, let’s go make ourselves stinkin’ rich!” He punctuates his grand announcement by pointing fervently at some nonexistent listener.

Several weeks later-

“Iron Stomach!

A celebration of truly astonishing appetites! When the mighty stomach triumphs over the endless cavalcade of icebergs, the hero shall be blessed with fame and fortune!”

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I stand with Chiri on the winner’s podium; the cheers and applause are deafening when the master of ceremonies makes the announcement.

Chiri is the champion. She laughs with delight as she holds up the trophy that signifies her ten-million-yen win. And me? I got runner-up.

I wasn’t too into the idea at first, but after giving it a shot, I found that professional gluttony kinda grows on you. Even I was surprised by how much I could eat, and I had to admit it felt kinda good. My memory still hasn’t come back, but that doesn’t matter anymore.

I’ve found myself a new purpose. To steal Chiri’s spot on the throne. That right there is now my greatest goal in life.

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Image Setup.

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Image Presentiment.

I’ve never truly trusted anyone-not on a fundamental level. Human beings are a type of organism that I can’t get a true handle on through mere surface interactions. And the very fact that I have never trusted anyone else means that, inevitably, no one else has ever trusted me. In the end, maybe the root of all of my problems can be traced back to my heart.

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As he waited for Minorikawa to contact him, Osawa thought about his current crisis. Assuming Tanaka was behind the kidnapping, then he must have accomplices. And these criminals had mistakenly abducted Maria in their attempt to get at the antiviral drug that was in Hitomi’s blood.

Maria and Hitomi were fraternal twins, but they looked similar enough to be mistaken for identical twins. Still, Tanaka would never confuse the two. The mix-up must have been made by some criminal who didn’t know Maria or Hitomi personally. Insisting that Hitomi bring the ransom to the train station was obviously their solution: it had set her up for a second abduction.

  • This update indicates that Tanaka can't actually tell the difference between Hitomi and Maria. I don't know if this was an oversight, or whether it was intentional to show how distant Osawa is. The fact that both Hitomi and Maria are on good terms with Tanaka makes me think it's the former. Incidentially, while Hitomi and Maria are played by the same actress, there is at least one facial difference between them.


But piecing together this much of the kidnappers’ plan only raised a different question:

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Why had Tanaka shown him those emails from Hitomi? Wouldn’t the criminals want to keep information like that hidden?

The more Osawa thought about things, the less they made sense. Just who are my true allies, and who are my foes?

Image No music.

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“Mr. Osawa, a delivery has arrived for you.” It was Kajiwara, at the study door.

“Come in.”

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Kajiwara stepped into the room and handed Osawa a letter-sized envelope. Osawa checked the label.

Kaming - The Official Aya Kamiki Fan Club Membership Application Enclosed.
428 Tip – Kaming wrote:Requires a 1000-yen initiation fee and yearly dues of 3000 yen. Membership grants several perks, including the opportunity to reserve concert tickets in advance of the general public. Osawa is fond of the members-only website content, which includes Aya Kamiki’s blog and exclusive videos.
Right-he had requested the application the day he’d gotten back from overseas.

“Would you mind opening that?” Kajiwara asked, apologetically.

“What for?”

“I’d just like to check the contents of any packages you receive today, sir. It’s possible the kidnapper may try to make contact you by mail.”

Osawa opened the envelope; inside he found the expected application, along with several postcards featuring pictures of the singer. Kajiwara peered pointedly at the postcard images.

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“You must really like her,” the detective said.

“And just what sort of music do you listen to, then?” Osawa asked, staring at one of the postcards. It was a striking photo that showed off Kamiki’s expressive eyes.

“Let me think. Mostly classical, I suppose.”

Osawa raised a quizzical eyebrow. “You know,” Kajiwara continued. “Like Mozart and Chopin and the like?” He hummed few bars.

“Can’t say I’ve ever heard them.”

“Are you serious?” Kajiwara looked shocked.

“I’m familiar with the names, of course. I just never had much of an interest in music.”
General Tip – Mozart wrote:Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Austrian-born music prodigy and Classical composer. Famous works include The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, and Symphony No. 41, known as the Jupiter Symphony.
General Tip – Chopin wrote:Frédéric Francois Chopin (1810-1849). Composer and pianist of the early Romantic era. Famed as a national musician of Poland. Left behind numerous solo piano works. Famous works include his Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 2, and his Piano Sonata No. 2.
“Oh, that’s such a shame.

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“I suppose I may as well.” Now that he brought it up, Osawa was curious to know what sort of music Kajiwara enjoyed.

The detective pulled a digital music player out of his pocket. “Here you go.”

Osawa slipped the attached earbuds into his ears.

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He heard a flow of quiet strings that was soon joined by bold, dramatic horns. As the piece continued it grew more profound and complex, and Osawa could feel his spirit calming.

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He took a deep breath, then expelled it through his nostrils. It felt as if the toxic gloom that had filled him was departing with the air. Before he knew it, nearly ten minutes had passed.

“What do you think?”

“It’s quite nice.”

“The theme of this piece is, ah...” Kajiwara paused for a moment in thought. “Well, it’s about how erudition can be boorishness.”
General Tip – Erudition wrote:Accumulated knowledge; the term often connotes an advanced and/or esoteric understanding. Displaying a moderate amount can impress others, but pompously flaunting it is bound to put them off.
“Thank you. If I hadn’t met you, I’d never have discovered this piece.” He spoke the words unthinkingly, with unaccustomed frankness. Was this the power of music, then?

“I’m very happy to hear that, sir.”

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Osawa gazed at one of the postcards as he let himself be drawn back into the music. Aya was scooping up handfuls of mystical blue sand. The grains dripped down from her fingertips. “I feel like I could be in this photo here,” Osawa muttered. “Like I’ve lived my life letting so many things slip through my fingers.”

Image Implications.

Kajiwara thought for a moment before responding. “I think anyone who’s worked hard to accomplish something, and focused for a long time on that one thing, is susceptible to those kinds of feelings.”

“Accomplishing something means getting results. That’s not where my problem is.” Osawa removed the headphones and gave back the music player.

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“You told me not to hide things from you, right?”

Kajiwara nodded silently.

“Then allow me to speak frankly.” Leaning back heavily in his chair, Osawa took another deep, slow breath.

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“I’m anxious-so anxious that it’s almost crushing me.”

“Given the circumstances, sir, that’s completely understa-”

“No!” Osawa spoke up before Kajiwara could finish. “It’s not that! It’s not that at all.” He shook his head vigorously. “If the worst should happen to my daughter, how am I going to feel, I wonder. I’m not a man with a wide range of emotions. My heart is...always cold, somehow. And the truth is I’ve wanted it to be that way. Which is why, if I do lose my daughter, my heart might remain unmoved. I may not even be able to feel a father’s sorrow. That’s what I’m anxious about.” He felt his emotions twist inside him in a way that was utterly confusing. For perhaps the first time in his life, he realized how fickle a thing the human heart could be.

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“It’s all right, sir.” Kajiwara flashed him a carefree smile.

“What’s all right?”

“People who really have cold hearts don’t worry about that sort of thing.” The detective held out his music player again. “Here-I’d like you to have this. Please, give it another listen, if you like. I think it might help you calm your nerves.”

Osawa took the offered device. He had dared to open up to Kajiwara just a little, and to his own surprise he felt grateful for it.

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Hey, free banana, let's take it.

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Image Implications.

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“Oh-all right, I guess I’ll take it.” Osawa spoke irritably; then his expression softened a little.

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“You know, you’ve been getting on my nerves all day.”

“Really? And here I thought I’d been doing What I could to soothe your spirits, Mr. Osawa.”

“It’s actually been a real long time since I’ve yelled at anyone quite so much.” As the words left his lips, Osawa found himself thinking back to one particular rainy day.

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Maria had been in fifth grade at the time. Osawa was standing in his daughter’s room. In his hands, he held the letter she’d left behind. He happened to glance out the window, and saw Maria walking along, soaked from head to toe. In an instant, Osawa was consumed with rage.

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Struck by an impulse he didn’t quite understand, he ran from the room, heading for the front door.

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Maria had just gotten back inside. Osawa met her silently in the entryway. Wet strands of hair clung to the girl’s forehead as she looked up at her father with a bitter glare. “You don’t care what happens to me, do you?”

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Impulsively, he slapped her face. Maria’s cheek turned red and tears welled up in her eyes. Osawa’s anger transformed abruptly into guilt.

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He gazed down at the palm of his hand and saw a tiny spot of blood. He was shocked by the recognition of what he’d just done. And then, he was afraid.

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Afraid that his daughter could bring such raw emotion out of him and make him do something so thoughtless.

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“Is something wrong, Mr. Osawa?” Kajiwara was leaning in, looking concerned.

Osawa came back into the moment with a start, and realized he had buried his face in his hands. “No,” he muttered, looking up. “Just...getting angry, yelling at people...I’m not good with that sort of thing. I don’t like it.” He picked up the music player and fidgeted with the earbuds as he spoke.

“Well, getting angry and yelling at people...I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I think that’s just human.”

“It’s human? To do those kinds of things?” Ai often said that he was “cold and mechanical.” Her sarcasm only underlined a fact he’d always lived with: that he didn’t know how to conduct himself like a human being.

“If you get angry, you show it,” Kajiwara said. “If you get sad, you show it. It’s human nature to let other people know how we’re feeling, after all.”

“But what if doing that hurts the other person?”

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“That’s when you apologize, sir.”

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“Ah...” It occurred to Osawa that he’d never tried to tell anyone how he felt before. He’d never felt the need to. And yet, right now, he suddenly felt that, if his daughters were to appear before him, he might blurt out everything he’d ever left unsaid. It was a terrifying thought.

Image No music.

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“Darling?” Ai opened the door and stepped into the room. “The detectives are asking for you. It seems there’s been a development.”

“We’ll be right there.” Osawa and Kajiwara hurried out of the room.

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Before the news was shared with the Osawas, the members of the investigation team quietly briefed Detective Kajiwara.

Osawa and Ai sat on the sofa on the far side of the room, watching. They could see Kajiwara go pale; he wiped the sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief several times.

Bad news, Osawa thought.

“Mr. Osawa, ma’am...” Kajiwara shuffled his way over to them at last. “We’ve just gotten word from headquarters.” He hesitated ominously.

Image Doubt.

Osawa braced himself. “Please, let’s hear it.”

“First, about your daughter Hitomi.” Kajiwara’s expression was grim. “The body of a young man named Achi Endo was discovered near Shibuya Station.”

The name meant nothing to Osawa.

“In a building not too far from the scene, we...” The detective swallowed. “Your daughter Hitomi was found dead.”

Image Chaos.

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The world began to shake. Osawa staggered, reeling with sudden, nauseating vertigo. “No...no, it’s not possible...”

“After that, your daughter Maria...” The words blurred together; he could no longer comprehend what he was hearing. Everything was wobbling, shuddering, distorting.

Hitomi was dead? Hitomi. . .? At those words, Osawa’s whole world went dark, as if someone had just yanked the curtains closed.

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Achi, Kano and Minorikawa are available.

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Well let's help Achi not die, I guess?

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Image Setup.

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Image Contemplation.

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Canaan led them into a narrow back alley. The moment she stopped, Hitomi spoke up. “Why was my sister kidnapped?”
428 Tip – Back alley wrote:Members of S.O.S. don’t come by here very much. Word has it that in this place, around ten years ago, one man beat the crap out of seven street toughs in the blink of an eye, all by himself. Over time, people have offered various theories-that he was an assassin, that he was some foreign soldier, even that he might have been a ghost-and to this day, the urban legend lives on.
“Before I answer that, there’s something I need to tell you,” Canaan said. Her tone was cold and sharp. “I’ve come to Japan because I’m on a mission. I’m not at liberty to discuss all the details.”

“All right.” Hitomi gave a slight nod.

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“To answer your question-Maria was kidnapped by mistake.”

“What?” Hitomi gasped. “But...why?”

“Because this kidnapper isn’t after Maria; they’re after you.”

Who’s after me?”

“The mastermind behind this whole thing,” Canaan said. Her tone was matter-of-fact.

“Whoa, hold on!” Achi interrupted. “What do they want Hitomi for?”

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“That, I cannot say.”

“Well then who is this person?”

“I can’t tell you that, either. You see, their sex, nationality, age, appearance-just about everything about them is shrouded in mystery. So there’s honestly not much I can tell you.”

Achi and Hitomi stood dumbfounded.

“What gives?” Achi said. “So you’re saying all you know is that this person has some lame name like ‘Mastermind’?”

Hitomi turned to whisper in his ear. “Mastermind isn’t actually their name.”
General Tip – Mastermind wrote:Originally used solely to refer to someone of remarkable intellect, the term first took on its criminal connotations in the 19th century.
“I’m here,” Canaan spat, “because I’m looking for revenge.”

“Revenge?” Hitomi asked. “What for?”

“This person...also killed my friend.”

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Canaan’s inscrutable eyes flashed with a threatening gleam.

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“Earlier, you said that it was your fault my sister got kidnapped,” Hitomi said.

Canaan cast her eyes down. “Four days ago, I managed to learn this criminal’s plan. So I got in touch with Maria, and told her that you were going to be attacked at that party.”

“So that’s why she told me not to go...” Hitomi’s voice trembled as she spoke.

“I gave Maria a small GPS tracker to give to you-but I guess you never got it?”

Hitomi shook her head. “I see. She must still have it, then.”
General Tip – GPS wrote:Image
“Wait...so then, my sister...” The color drained from Hitomi’s face as she understood.

“Yes,” Canaan replied. “Maria acted as a decoy, and let herself get kidnapped in your stead.”

Hitomi swayed on her feet, shocked to the verge of fainting. Achi hurriedly reached out and caught her in his arms.

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“But-wait,” he said to Canaan as he held Hitomi up. “I don’t get that, either. Why didn’t neither of them go? Then nobody would’ve been kidnapped, right? I mean, why’d her sister need to go and act as a decoy?”

Canaan let out a tiny sigh. “If she hadn’t gone to the party, the kidnappers would have just found some other opportunity to come after her.”

“Ahh. Okay.” Achi nodded. “That sorta makes sense.”

“I’m betting that Maria’s plan was to use the GPS to lead me to these guys’ hideout. She wanted to keep her sister safe, and also figured she could help me with my mission. It’s the sort of scheme she’d think of.”

“So then can’t you use the GPS to locate Hitomi’s sister?” Achi asked.

Canaan shook her head. “The GPS hasn’t been powered on since she was kidnapped. It’s possible the kidnappers took it from her.”

“Wait, what? So after all that, even you can’t find Maria?” Achi slumped his shoulders in disappointment.

“I didn’t say that.”

“What do you mean?”

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“I got some intel from those syndicate members we met earlier. Apparently, some time this morning they put Maria into a blue minivan, and since then they’ve been moving her all around Shibuya.” Achi and Hitomi exchanged glances at the mention of the blue minivan.

“Unfortunately,” Canaan continued, “those operatives didn’t know what the current situation was, exactly.”

“So we’re back to the blue van, then.” Achi hurriedly explained what they’d been through so far. He mentioned how they’d first seen the blue van where the kidnappers had told Hitomi to find it. He also described how first the man with the cane and then a host of others had come after them. He got a little sidetracked here and there, but Canaan quietly listened to the end.

“I see,” she muttered.

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“So, then, what do you think?”Achi asked. “Seems like we messed up their scheme a little, huh?”

“Whatever the case, this man with the cane concerns me,” Canaan said. “I doubt he’s working with the others. I don’t know what that means.”

“Maybe that’s it! Some guy who isn’t involved butts in, and it throws off their whole plan!”

Canaan nodded in agreement. “Because you and that man with the cane showed up,” she said, “they couldn’t leave the minivan where it was. They took a sensible precaution.”

“But then, if you think about it, isn’t this an opportunity for us to turn the tables on Mr. Mastermind?”

Canaan flashed him a faint speculative smile. “I wonder about that.”

“Aww, come on,” Achi grumbled. “You’re such a buzzkill.”

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“Any well-made plan has a good, solid outline. Which means that, even after it has come to fruition, it’s easy to trace things back to the planner.”

“Hmm. Is that how that works?”

“By contrast, if you achieve your goals using accidental means, the outline becomes blurred, and it makes it harder for anyone outside, looking in, to grasp what the actual plan is.”

Achi swallowed hard as he took in the gravity of the situation. “Well, but I mean, like, if there’s an accident, people are gonna for sure panic. Plan or not.”

The corners of Canaan’s lips curled up. “Typically, I suppose,” she said. “But the people who are after Hitomi-not only have they put together a perfect plan, they’ve purposely left certain tiny holes in it. And so we can’t even figure out who they are. The outline of the plan is always too blurry.”

Achi had no response to that; it was like he was hearing about some completely different world beyond the one he knew. If what Canaan had said was true, he’d been dealing with opponents that were on a level way above his own.

“In any event, since these people are after you, it’d be best if you didn’t wander around town anymore,” Canaan told him.

Image No music.

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By now Hitomi had recovered. She stood up straight and shook her head. “No. I’m going to find that blue minivan. My sister is in danger because of me. I can’t abandon her just to save myself.”

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“Yeah! That’s right!” Achi patted Hitomi on the back. “And if that’s what you’re gonna do, then I don’t care who we’re up against-I’m with you in this until the end! Heck, it’s too late for me to back out now. That ship has already failed!”

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Hitomi giggled despite herself. “It’s ‘already sailed,’ Achi.”

“Yeah!”

Canaan let out another little sigh.

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“All right. Just make sure you’re extra careful,” she said. “ You can’t count on getting bailed out of trouble like you have before.”

“I understand,” Hitomi said. Her eyes showed no trace of doubt or fear.

Canaan gave her a slight nod, then quickly disappeared down the alleyway.

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“Right, then,” Achi said. “Wanna get back to looking for that minivan?” Then he stopped, remembering their previous efforts. If they just heedlessly wandered around town, they’d probably end up in the same trouble they’d encountered before. They’d get chased by the man with the cane, or by the kidnappers, and their search would be interrupted yet again. What should they do, then? There had to be a better way. Achi happened to glance upward, and caught sight of a surveillance camera installed on one of the streetlights.

Image Achi Endo.

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“That’s it!”

“Hmm?”

“Gah! I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before?’

Hitomi peered at him, startled by his sudden shouting.

“We just need to use my old man’s surveillance cameras and this’ll be a breeze!” Achi took Hitomi by the hand and started running. His destination: the security camera monitoring room in Dogenzaka.

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Achi didn’t slow his pace until they were nearing their destination. Then he turned to look back at Hitomi. He was about to ask if she was doing all right when someone close at hand called out to him.

Image No music.

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“Hey, mind if I ask you something? Have you ever heard of S.O.S.?”

Achi stopped in his tracks as a stranger stepped in front of him. The guy looked too old to be picking a fight with S.O.S. Achi regarded him with suspicion.

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“Yeah. Why do you ask?”

“Do you happen to be a member yourself?”

“No. No, not anymore.”

The man’s eyes flashed with a gleam of recognition. Did this guy know who he was? With a broad grin, the stranger took a step closer.

Achi’s heart sank; he couldn’t afford to get caught up in some new hassle right now. Hitomi flashed him a worried look.

“Let’s go.” Achi and Hitomi dodged past the man and hurried onward. Even if the guy was harmless, they needed to be on their guard. There was no telling just how many thugs and assassins were looking for Hitomi.

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Rather than head directly for the surveillance building, Achi decided he better make sure the stranger wasn’t up to something. Hitomi followed as he slipped quickly into a back alley. There was no indication that the man was following them.

“What was that guy’s deal?” Hitomi asked.

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“No idea. But he sure seemed kinda fishy. Doesn’t look like he’s coming after us, though.” They took a quick detour through another seedy back alley. Then, as they were starting to head toward
their original destination, Achi felt a sudden searing pain in his back.

Image Vertigo.

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Agh! Glancing over his shoulder, he discovered that one of the foreign syndicate members had crept up and struck him from behind.

Oh, no...I’ve been stabbed.

“Ahhhh!” Hitomi screamed. Another man had suddenly appeared, grabbing her by the arms.

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“Hi...tomi...” Achi tried to reach out to her, but his arm was leaden. His body refused to obey his commands.

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As the attacker wrenched the knife from his back, Achi felt the blood gushing out of his wound.

The two men started to drag Hitomi away.

“Dam...mit...” He tried to pursue them, but his legs faltered and couldn’t find their footing. He was losing blood so fast he was starting to fade from consciousness. Achi could only watch, impotently, as Hitomi was dragged further and further away.

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That was pretty brutal. I imagine at this point we have to do something with Minorikawa.

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Image On The Move.

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  • Minorikawa needs to break his promise to avoid running into Achi.
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He opened the door to the café with the practice of a regular.

Image Yum Cha.

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“Welco-” The waitress only got that far before her face fell. “You again?”

“Hey, hurry up and get me a seat.”

She grinned wickedly. “I’m terribly sorry, sir, but we’re all full at the moment.”

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He looked around. All of the seats were indeed filled.

“As you can see, sir.”

“Really now?”

The waitress’s grin widened with triumph. “Yes, sir.”

“Fine, I’ll just write here! Lemme get some power!”

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Jamming his power cable into a nearby outlet, Minorikawa plunked himself right down on the floor and booted up his laptop. The waitress watched in dismay, then turned to stare vacantly up at the ceiling.

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“Just...do whatever you want,” she muttered vaguely.

  • It's the same from here as we saw previously, Yangishita steals Minorikawa's laptop and Minorikawa tracks him down to the knickknack shop.
Image Best.

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He drew back his arm to deliver another blow. But then, someone else came into the shop.

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Yanagishita’s eyes lit up as they saw who it was.

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“Oh, my angel! Whatever is my darling Miku doing here?”

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Miku stood in the doorway, on the verge of tears. “Mr. Minorikawa...” she began; then her voice choked up.

“Miku? What’s the matter? Is something wrong?”

“I...I...” Miku drew in close to Minorikawa’s side.

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“Huh? Huh??” Yanagishita’s gaze darted back and forth between Minorikawa and Miku. “You two know each other?”

“Sort of. More to the point-is she the girl you said you were in love with?”

“That’s right! The one and only Miku! I have her entrance music set as my ringtone!”

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Paying no heed to Yanagishita’s excitement, Miku kept her eyes fixed on Minorikawa. “I...I lost. To a girl who knows aiki-jujutsu. I loooost!” She buried her face in Minorikawa’s chest.

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“Ah!” Yanagishita let out a gasp. “What’s this about? What in the what is this all about?” He seemed on the verge of panic.

“Mr. Minorikawa, I need to learn aiki-jujutsu! I feel so, so ashamed!” She buried her face even deeper into Minorikawa’s chest.

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“That’s...that’s... That’s so unfaaaaaair!”

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With tears in his eyes, Yanagishita darted out the door.

Minorikawa glared after the pathetic fellow as he scampered off. “The guy sure knows how to take advantage of a bad situation, I’ll give him that,” he murmured.

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We already know that chasing Yangishita leads to Minorikawa getting caught in an explosion.[/list]

“Anyhow, I’m just glad I got my partner back.” Ordinarily he’d be inclined to pursue Yanagishita and subject him to a tirade-at the very least-but there was no time for that now.

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He explained the situation to the shopkeeper, who flashed a sympathetic smile. “Ah, is that so? Lucky for you be screwed up, then. Much as I’m happy to do business, I just can’t buy a computer that doesn’t come with its accessories.”

“So you’d have bought it from him if he’d had the accessories?”

“Of course. Stolen or not, it’s all the same once I’ve sold it.” The shopkeeper chuckled unapologetically.

“Heh. I suppose that’s true.” Minorikawa laughed along with him. “Yeah, all the same...like hell it is!” he roared.

The shopkeeper froze like a startled rabbit.

“I bet everything you have for sale here has been stolen, hasn’t it?”

“Don’t-don’t be ridiculous!”

“I’ll warn you up front, there’s no use hiding things from me. I’ve interviewed you, after all; I know you.”

The shopkeeper was getting more and more flustered.

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“W-Well, I mean...look, this is just between you and me, okay? Sometimes I go around gathering stuff that people have lost and I sell it here. But it’s not stolen! Just repurposed! There’s nothing wrong with that, right?” The shopkeeper smiled ingratiatingly.

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“You moron! Minorikawa stuck his finger in the man’s face. Selling lost property is a serious crime, too!”

“It...it is? Well, I mean, I guess I sorta figured it might be. Sometimes...”
General Tip – Selling lost property wrote:A potential violation of Article 254 of the Penal Code of Japan regarding Embezzlement of Lost Property, which states: “A person, who embezzles lost property, drift property or any other property which belongs to another person and is in no one’s possession shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not more than 1 year, a fine of not more than 100,000 yen or a petty fine.”
“Well, I’m not the police. I’m more into curiosity than legality. In fact I find this all pretty fascinating. I mean, what sort of things have you gathered up for sale?”

“Well, lemme see...like this, and that, and that, and that.” The man pointed to various items on his shelves. “And also this...and that, and that, and that and that, I guess?” Minorikawa’s eyes were directed all over the shop.

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Everything the shopkeeper had pointed out had a hefty price tag.

“And you’re actually able to sell things like this?” Minorikawa asked.

“Sure, I can sell stuff. Earlier today someone bought a big necklace. I’d listed it for 40,000 yen, but I discounted down to 30,000.”

“And you can still make a profit even offering discounts?”

“Sure. I mean it was just something I found lying on the ground, after all. Hahaha.”

Minorikawa looked back at him, and for a moment he laughed as well.

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Then his face turned hard. “This is no laughing matter!” he bellowed. “You need to stop what you’re doing here right away. Otherwise, you’re going to find out what it’s like to get punished by my pen of justice!”

“I’m-I’m so sorry!” The shopkeeper bowed repeatedly.

Minorikawa glared. The truth was that right now he was so busy he’d have to let this guy slide. Still, this whole asinine affair had eaten up a big chunk of time he didn’t have to waste. He was going to have to finish up his copy back at the editing office. Laptop in hand, he left the shop-only to stop short when a slight figure stepped out in front of him.

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“Mr. Minorikawa!” Miku stood there, barring his path. “Please, introduce me to a dojo where I can learn aiki-jujutsu!”

“I’m sorry. I really don’t have time for this right now.” Minorikawa tried to hurry onward, but she stubbornly refused to let him pass.

“You introduced me to that other dojo before, remember?”

“I suppose so, now that you mention it.” He tried to slip by her on her right-hand side, but she was quick to block him.

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“You’re the one who introduced me to the world of martial arts, Mr. Minorikawa.”

“Well-yes. You know you’re putting me in a bit of a bind, here?” Trying to slip by on her left was a no-go, too. She could anticipate his every move.

“Please, just hear me out,” Miku said. She was speaking through quiet sobs, now. “I can’t stand to leave things like this.” She looked Minorikawa right in the eye.

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B - Open up your world!

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B - Have you considered taking up surfing?

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“This is a good opportunity for you. You can find something to do with yourself that isn’t martial arts.”

“What?”

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“You were the champion at that one pub, right? Maybe now that you’re done with that you should find a more girlish line of work instead.”

Miku began to tremble.

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“You jerk!” Miku delivered a blindingly fast slap to Minorikawa’s cheek. “Why’d you have to put it like that? You’re so mean!”

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Bursting into tears, Miku ran off.

“Hey! Miku!”

She gave no sign she’d heard him, and didn’t turn around.

Minorikawa rubbed his cheek. It stung. For once, he actually regretted what he’d said. Maybe he shouldn’t have assumed she’d be willing to just give up her hobby. He did in fact know of several aiki-jujutsu dojos. If only he had the time, he could have introduced her easily enough.

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Checking his watch, he saw that he only had thirty minutes and change until four o’clock. There was no more wiggle room, at this point. These articles needed to get written, and fast. He needed to get back to the editing department. And yet...

“Oh, damn it all to hell! I can’t get work done like this!” Minorikawa broke into a run. But he didn’t run for Heaven Publishing; instead he went after Miku.

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  • Everyone except Minorikawa is available.

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Let's check on Maria.


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Image Achi Endo.

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Achi took a quick leap to one side. He managed to avoid crashing into her by taking a tumble himself, but the girl was still definitely a bit shocked. “Sorry about that,” Achi said.“Are you all right?”

But the girl didn’t answer, or even meet Achi’s eye; she just looked around as if in a daze. Was she waiting on someone, maybe?

Odd kid, Achi thought. I hope she’s okay. Once more, Achi and Hitomi set off running.

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Achi led Hitomi to an old, multi-tenant building; they hurried inside and headed up the stairs.

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Behind the reception window on the second floor sat the custodian, sleeping on the job.

“Hey! Wake up, man!”
428 Tip – Custodian wrote:Yukinori Kitajima. His main job is overseeing the monitoring room for the local surveillance cameras, but on the side, he also works as a novelist and game scenario writer. He often sleeps on the job during his free time, but sometimes while he’s asleep he gets his writing done. Just recently, a certain game was released, set in Shibuya-but since he wrote the scenario and emailed it to the game company while he was asleep, he didn’t know about it until just the other day.
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Achi gave the window a tap, and the man woke with a start.

“Huh?! Achichi? Don’t scare me like that.”

“That’s one ‘chi’ too many. And wow, you sure seem to have a lotta free time on your hands.”

“Yeah. No one’s been by to check, today. But that’s not so bad, right? I mean I guess it is the surveillance room, but still.” The man let out a big yawn.

“My dad asked me to come down here and check on the security monitors, actually,” Achi said.

“Sorry to bother you when you’re busy,” Hitomi added with a polite bow.

“Huh? Who’re you? You with Achichi?”

“I’m Hitomi Osawa. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Ohoho. What, you Achichi’s girlfriend?”

“Again, too many ‘chis’ there. And that’s none of your business. Just let me have the key.” Hoping his blush wasn’t too obvious, Achi mimed unlocking a door.

“You won’t answer a simple question and you want me to hand over the key?”

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“Yes, I’m his girlfriend,” Hitomi said. “We’ve just started dating. So I’m sure I’ll be seeing more of you, sir.” She flashed a winning smile.

“Oh. Well, what a surprise. Never thought Achichi could land a fine lady like yourself.”

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The surprised custodian held out the key. “Good for you, Achichi.”

“Still one ‘chi’ too many, there. But yeah. Uh, dating...” Achi gazed into Hitomi’s face, even more surprised than the custodian.

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The key dangled, swaying to and fro like a pendulum between Achi and the man behind the counter.

“Achi,” Hitomi said, nudging him in the side with her elbow. “Come on.”

“Oh. Right.” Snapping out of it, Achi took the key and headed up to the next floor.

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“I’m sorry,” Hitomi said as they entered the monitoring room. “For just saying we were dating like that, I mean. It was a pretty clumsy lie.”

“No, no. It was just kind of...sudden, is all. I was just a bit...jittery, I guess.” Achi felt his cheeks color again.

“I mean, I figured I had to say something or he wasn’t going to cooperate,” Hitomi said. She looked a little embarrassed, herself. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make things weird.”

“No, no, no,” Achi said. “Nah, it wasn’t weird at all. Actually, it was kind of...” He stopped himself there. Now wasn’t the time for that sort of conversation; they needed to find that blue minivan.

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The ‘surveillance camera monitoring room’ was really just a big office with a single computer. Achi knew it well. “So this is the monitoring system,” he explained. He switched on the computer. “You can see all of downtown Shibuya from this one computer.”

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Hitomi gazed impatiently at the monitor, even though it wasn’t showing anything yet. The look of sheer determination on her face held Achi enthralled.

Image Echo.

“You talk about how attractive your sister is,” Achi murmured, “but as far as I’m concerned...right now, you’re the lovely one, Hitomi.”

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Hitomi looked at him, uncertain.

“I mean, look at the lengths you’re going to and the risks you’re taking to save your sister,” Achi said.

“I can’t bear the thought that something might happen to her, and the last time we were together I said such horrible things...”

“Plenty of people do bad things without even realizing they’re bad. Never mind trying to fix it.”

“I’m just doing what I think is right.”

“Yeah, but these days, most people don’t do the right thing. Heck, if they did, Shibuya wouldn’t be covered in trash like it is. Me, I appreciate it when someone really cares about the things that are important. Doing the right thing as a matter of course-that’s very attractive.” Achi blushed as he said it, and Hitomi shyly looked away.

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“-Ah. I think the system is ready.” Turning to the computer, Achi hastily changed the subject. “This thing’s so simple even I know how to use it.” Clicking on the mouse, he brought up a row of four windows on the monitor.

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Each window showed a different view of the Shibuya cityscape.

“The image quality’s not great, but that’s because it’s being updated on a two-second delay, I guess.” Achi tapped on the keyboard, bringing up shots of different locations.

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He clicked on one of them in order to enlarge the image.

“Maybe we really can find that minivan with this.” Hitomi was practically glued to the screen.

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“My dad’s the one who designed this security system.”

“Your dad must be pretty amazing.”

“Well, he graduated top of his class at Tokyo Denko University. He always said he could have had a career in computer engineering, but he took over the electronics shop so that he could marry my mother, instead.”
428 Tip – Tokyo Denko University wrote:A prestigious national university founded over a century ago. Applicants who place highly on the entrance exam can receive a full scholarship. Achi’s father was one such attendee. The school has supported extensive research into artificial intelligence, and recently announced an AI program known as “BODY.” While the computer is asleep, different personalities emerge, which have an impact on various normal thought processes, forming a network of more humanlike thought patterns as a result.
“That’s such a sweet story. Do they run the store together, then?”

Achi shook his head. “No. My mother died when I was four.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.” Hitomi sounded even sadder than Achi.

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“Well, anyway, never mind that. Here, look.”

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The seedy-looking weirdo they’d run into at GiGO was on the screen.

“Huh? That guy again?”

Said weirdo was running all-out, a laptop computer under one arm. He was being chased by a man in a long coat.

“That guy sure gets chased around a lot, huh?” Achi said.

When the weirdo slipped out of view, Achi switched to another camera.

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The new view showed the weirdo running again. By hopping from camera to camera, they could track him wherever he went.

“So long as we have these cameras,” Achi said, “this guy has nowhere to run.”

Hmm... Nowhere to run, huh? The moment he said those words, they struck an odd chord in his mind. He remembered their repeated run-ins with the man with the cane-how the assassin had seemed always to know where to find them.

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Let's watch Yanagishita some more.

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“Sorry. There’s just something I’m curious about.” Achi continued to track the seedy-looking man.

The weirdo rushed into a knickknack shop on Center Gai. Soon after, the man with the coat appeared and followed him into the shop.

“Aha! Looks like he snatched that guy’s computer.”

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Moments later, the weirdo came rushing back out of the shop and sprinted away again. He wove through the narrow alleyways with catlike alacrity. Achi did his best to keep tabs on him, but the man managed to give him the slip.

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“Wow,” Hitomi said; she too had been watching closely. “I’m kind of impressed.”

“Mind if I keep at it?” Achi asked. He continued scanning camera images, trying to locate the guy again. At this point, even Hitomi was invested in the quest to find the fugitive.

“Sure.”

But minutes passed and they didn’t spot him. Achi was on the verge of giving up.

Image The World Doesn't Change so Easy.

“Oh, that’s me.” Hitomi took out her cell phone. “It’s an email from Mr. Tana-”

“Found him!” Achi’s shout cut Hitomi off.

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The guy was in a back alley off of Center Gai. He was talking with someone.

“Huh? Is that...?” Achi blinked a few times as he leaned in closer to the screen. “Hitomi? You have to come look at this.”

“Ah! That’s-that’s my sister!” Hitomi brimmed with excitement.

“For real?!”

“I think so.”

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“What’s she doing in a place like that? And why’s she talking to that guy?”

“I’m not sure.”

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The monitor showed a cheerful little scene.

“Looks like they’re having fun.” Guess since they’re twins they’re both into older guys. Achi felt his mood start to sour. “I have to ask: are you sure she was kidnapped?”

“Yes! At least, I sure thought so. And so did the police!”

“Then what’s this all about?”

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“Should we go and see for ourselves?”

“Guess so. Oh, what about that email?” Achi pointed at Hitomi’s cell phone. “Shouldn’t you take a look at that?”

“My sister comes first. That place where she is-is it far from here?”

“No, not particularly.”

Achi and Hitomi rushed from the building, heading for the alley where Maria was talking to the computer thief. It wasn’t long before they were closing in on their destination. But as they headed down a narrow side street, a familiar figure suddenly appeared to bar their way.

Image Maneuvers.

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“Uh-oh. It’s him.”

Gun in hand, the man with the cane slowly ambled towards them. Achi and Hitomi bolted down a nearby alley.

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Taking another turn, they reached the alley they’d seen on the cameras.

“Maria!” Hitomi rushed over to her sister. But Maria just stood staring at Hitomi in silence, as if she couldn’t process what was going on.

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Meanwhile, the assassin was still in pursuit. He had turned the corner behind them and was steadily drawing nearer. He pointed his gun at Hitomi’s head.

“C’mon, hurry!” Achi urged.

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He tried to lead the two girls away, hoping to escape further down the alley. But instead, Maria charged boldly at the man with the cane.

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The assassin was caught off guard by the unexpected counterattack, but he reacted quickly, clubbing the girl in the head with the grip of his pistol.

“Maria!” Hitomi shrieked. She stared in horror as her sister collapsed in a heap on the ground.

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Then Hitomi’s eyes rolled back in her head and she fainted into Achi’s arms. “Hitomi! Hey!” But the shock had overwhelmed her; she was out cold.

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Slowly, the assassin lifted his gun again, aiming for Achi and Hitomi. If he’d only had Hitomi to protect, Achi might have been able to pick her up and get away. But he couldn’t just leave her sister here. He knew, with the chilling certainty of despair, that he could never save them both.

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“Ah, right. My bad.” Achi switched over to a different camera. He continued switching views, scanning the streets of Shibuya, but there was no sign of a blue minivan anywhere. Still, they remained glued to the monitor.

Image The World Doesn't Change so Easy.

“Oh, that’s me.” Hitomi took out her cell phone.

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“It’s an email from Mr. Tanaka.”

“Ah, okay.” Yeah, it was about time for my mood to take a dip, Achi thought.

Image Pressure.

“What?!” Hitomi blurted. She looked up from her phone. “Achi! Mr. Tanaka found the minivan!”

“He what?! What does he say? Read it to me!”

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“Okay...I ran after it but, but wound up losing sight of it. It was heading toward Jinnan. That’s what he says.”

“What about your sister? Was she inside?”

“He doesn’t say.”

Achi switched over to an array of surveillance cameras near Jinnan. The few seconds the transition took felt agonizingly slow. Finally, four new images popped up. Achi quickly enlarged one of them.

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“Ah!” Hitomi let out a tiny gasp.

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There on the monitor was the blue minivan. There was no doubt about it.

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Achi and Hitomi rushed from the building, speeding toward Jinnan in an all-out run. Neither spoke; they simply dashed along in silence. Achi felt as if they’d been running a marathon and the finish line had finally come into view. They hooked a left at the station and darted past the Seibu Department Store.
428 Tip – All-Out Run wrote:Run, Achi! Run, Hitomi! Run, other guy (who’s looking for Miku)!
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“Ahaaaa!” Achi pointed as he came to a stop. The blue minivan was still there, parked by the curb along the slight, hilly incline. Leaving Achi behind, Hitomi started rushing up the hill.

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A. Stay back!

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Image Pressure.

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“Stay back! Don’t get too close!” Achi shouted.

But she didn’t appear to hear his cries. The hope of rescuing her sister had driven all else from her mind.

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Achi started to run after her. Hitomi had reached the vehicle already; she brought her face close to one of its windows. But the tinted glass obscured the view inside. Hitomi circled around to the minivan’s other side. Achi saw her grasping at the door. She slipped out of his view for just a moment.

Image Contemplation.

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There was a thunderous explosion, and a gout of flame tore the roof off the minivan like it was made of aluminum foil.

“Hi-Hitomi!” Horrified, Achi charged through roiling smoke, searching for Hitomi.

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He saw two figures sprawled on the street, several meters from the van. Hitomi and Canaan.

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“Hitomi! Wake up!”

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Achi cradled her in his arms, and her eyes drifted open faintly.

“Are you okay?! Are you hurt?!”

Hitomi didn’t appear to understand him; her only response was a blank, dazed look.

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There was a small patch of red on her face. Achi wiped it gently away with a finger; he saw no further signs of bleeding. She must have been splattered by someone else’s blood, then. As far as he could tell, she hadn’t been gravely injured. Achi let out a sigh of relief.

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“Hitomi...is she all right?” Canaan stirred on the ground. Her clothes were scorched in places, and she was bleeding from her head.

“Canaan...did you save her?”

“Is she all right?”

“Yeah. What about her sister?”

Canaan didn’t respond.

No. It can’t be... Achi went to look inside the van.

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Amidst the smoke and the flames, he could make out the outline of a body. “What happened here?” Achi had to look away.

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“Get Hitomi out of here. Hurry. If those guys show back up...” Canaan’s face twisted up with pain.

“All right.”

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Achi settled Hitomi carefully in his arms.

“Wait...I need to tell you something.” Canaan’s pained gasp called him back.

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“Alphard.”

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“Huh?”

“Alphard...that’s the name of the mastermind. I’m sure it’ll come up again if you keep pursuing this. But if you value your life...don’t get involved with Alphard any further. Now go...”

“Okay. And thanks.”

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With Hitomi in his arms, Achi hurried from the scene. He wasn’t sure where he was heading. He just wanted to get away, wherever that meant. He carried her past the crowd of onlookers that had swiftly begun to assemble.

The flames of the burning van rose ever higher, roaring up toward the heavens.

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  • Everyone except Achi is available. Speaking of Achi, something about him changed during this update, did anyone notice what it was? :)

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...none of the above. None of those fit me at all.

Image Fatigue.

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I turn at the sound of an exuberant voice and see Mr. Yanagishita running my way, flailing his arm in a friendly greeting. I swear, this guy could wind up banished to the pits of hell and he’d still give it his all, day in and day out.

“Oh, thank goodness! It is you, Tama! I knew it!”

The man with the cane grumbles something incoherent, then holsters his gun and flees the scene.

“Huh. Now you’re with some middle-aged guy? You look so sweet and innocent, but I guess you kinda get around, huh?”

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“Boss! Nice timing!” I do a little fist-pump. Whatever he’s doing here, I’m glad he drove off that guy with the gun.

“Hmm? What’re you so happy about?” Yanagishita gives me a puzzled look.

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But he’s promptly distracted by his own excitement. “Well, anyway, never mind that, Tama.” He shifts down to a conspiratorial whisper. “Y’know, I’m such an idiot! I can’t believe I was in such a tizzy over some silly scratch card from a magazine.”

I can tell he has news he’s itching to tell me. “Did something happen?”

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“Wellll...teeheehee!” He brings a hand to his mouth and giggles unsettlingly. “I had a great little idea. A great way to strike it rich!”

“I...feel like I’ve heard this from you before.”

Mr. Yanagishita shakes his head fervently. “This time it’s different! We’re talkin’ way more digits than before! Now, try not to be too surprised, yeah?!” Spittle flies from his mouth as he rattles on.

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“Or, uh-it’s okay to be surprised, actually. In fact I’m guessing you’re definitely gonna be amazed this time, Tama.” I can practically see the banknotes dancing in his eyes.

“Cut to the chase, already! What is it you want to tell me?!”

Image Eggplant.

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“This time-get this-I got a line on ten million yen!” He thrusts his index finger skyward, grinning ear to ear. “Surprised now? Yeah, you are. And it doesn’t require any capital! It’s no-risk, high return!” There’s a crazy gleam in his eye.
General Tip – No-risk, high-return wrote:In the world of equity investment, a wise investor weighs risk against the potential for return. Many heavily risky projects, however, yield little in the way of actual returns (such cases are called high-risk, low-return). The inverse-low-risk, high return-is quite rare; the idea of no-risk, high-return is simply absurd.
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“Oh, man. I’m finally gonna get to be part of the billionaires’ club!”

That is so ridiculous I don’t even have a snappy retort for it. Never mind that ten million obviously wouldn’t make him a billionaire.

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“By the way-you haven’t seen Chiri, have you? We’re gonna need her help to wrap up this ten million yen.”

“Chiri? No, I haven’t run into her since the sales demo.”

“Oh. Darn! Well, if you do happen to see her, tell her to get in touch with me.”

“Uh, sure, all right.” I still don’t know what he’s going on about, but there’s probably no harm in being helpful.

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Might as well listen.

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Image Eggplant.

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“Oh, uh, sure. Thank you.”

“Welllllll then, I guess I’ve got no choice! When you put it that way, I just hafta tell you.” Mr. Yanagishita clears his throat and proceeds to declaim in an affected tone.

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“When the mighty stomach triumphs over the endless cavalcade of icebergs, the hero shall be blessed with fame and fortune!”

“Huh? What the heck is that supposed to mean?”

He looks inordinately amused at my confusion.

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“It’s part of a legend! You only need to remember that one verse for now. You’re going to bear witness to history!”

I feel like this guy’s right out of some kind of story himself.

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“Anyway, thanks for helping me out with the Chiri thing! Adios!” And then, like a whirlwind, Mr. Yanagishita zooms away, leaving me alone in the alley.
General Tip – Adios wrote:Spanish for “goodbye.” The true meaning is closer to the English “farewell.” In day-to-day interactions, most Spanish speakers use the word ciao. “Adios” can carry the connotation that you do not expect to see the addressee again.“
“Whew...” Suddenly I feel totally exhausted. I let out a sigh and drop my eyes-and that’s when I notice a notebook on the ground at my feet.

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Did the assassin drop this? I pick it up and look inside.

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There’s a photograph tucked inside the back cover.

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It shows three young people-two boys and a girl.

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Well...what do I do now? Do I go to the police? How would I even explain the situation? I can see it now... “There’s this killer out there, and he’s after this person named Hitomi Osawa!”

And then the police would be like, “Who is that? And who exactly is after her?” And then what would I say? Heck, they might not even give me the time of day in the first place. Not only do I not have any idea who Hitomi Osawa is, I know nothing about the guy who’s after her, except that he walks with a cane. I mean I can’t even tell them who I am. They’d probably shoo me away without a second thought.

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What am I supposed to do? I hang my head, at a total loss. The necklace around my neck sways idly to and fro.

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  • We've already found the jump point to unlock this Keep Out.
Image Setup.

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Image Pressure.

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Image No music.

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Eventually I muster up the energy to start walking around town, heading nowhere in particular.

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The billboard outside of a department store displays a poster of some female musician. She must be pretty popular, because lots of passersby stop to take a good look.

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I catch sight of little Hana in front of the billboard. She’s showing something to a woman there-some colorful sheets of paper.

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Hmm? The woman looks a lot like the musician in the poster. Moreover, I have the feeling I’ve seen her someplace before. Where could I have seen her? Man, having amnesia is really a pain in the ass. I have no way of knowing whether I’ve forgotten something or had no memory of it in the first place.

The woman looks through the papers Hana held out to her, nodding approvingly at each one, and I can hear her murmur with admiration.

“Hana!” I wave as I scamper on over to her; as I do, the woman abruptly hurries off.

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“Hey, we meet again,” I say. Hana just gives me a bored look. “Who was that just now?” I ask.

“I don’t know.”

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Hana quickly gathers up her belongings and starts walking briskly away.

“Oh, hey, wait up!” I call out.

The girl ignores me. She’s moving at a jog now, heading from Spanish Hill towards Koen-Dori.

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“Ahh!” As she steps out onto Koen-Dori, she trips and falls down hard. The contents of her bag spill out on the road.

“Oh, whoops!” Catching up to her, I gather up some of the fallen pages.

Image Tama.

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“What’s this?” There are poems written on the colored paper. A look of embarrassment crosses Hana’s face, and she snatches the pages out of my hands.
428 Tip – Poems wrote:Copies of a prose poem titled The False Monsoon. The poem delicately details the wavering emotions of an adolescent girl. Also, in a clever twist, if the text is read horizontally instead of vertically, it tells about a father’s worries over his only daughter, who is now of marriageable age.

Hana’s genius will soon be discovered by Aya Kamiki, and she will go on to become a popular songwriter.
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“Don’t touch those! Those are for sale.”

“For sale?”

“I’m selling poems that I wrote.”

“Oh, wow, that’s incredible!”

She looks surprised by the compliment. “Incredible? My friends at school said they were dumb.”

“That’s not true. I only saw a little just now, but I thought it was a really good poem.”

“You’re just saying that. I’ve been out here in Shibuya for weeks trying to sell these but the only person who’s bought one was that lady just now.” Hana lets out a mournful sigh.

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“Well...what are you out here selling poems for, anyway?”

“I thought maybe it’d help pay back our debts.”

“Huh?” Okay, that’s not something I’d expect to hear from a little kid.

“My dad’s in real deep,” she continues.

The topic makes me think of Mr. Yanagishita. Guess today’s my day for meeting people mired in debt.

“And I’m only in elementary school so I can’t get a part-time job.”
General Tip – Part-time job wrote:Japan’s Labor Standards Act prohibits the hiring of children under the age of 15. For certain jobs within the entertainment industry, however, employers can obtain permission from the Labor Standards Inspection Office for younger children to work.
I’m impressed. She’s so brave! She’s maybe a little hard to approach, but she is just a kid, after all. She’s so brave I just want to give her a hug.

“Oohhhhhh! Hanaaaaa!” I hear a strange wailing call from behind me.

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Startled, I turn around to see Mr. Toyama standing there, tears streaming from his eyes. “Ha-Hana, I’m so sorry...I had no idea you were trying so hard to...” Toyama rushes up to the girl.

It’s quite the emotional father/daughter reunion.

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...or at least, that’s how it looks until Hana slaps her father across the face with her bundle of papers.

“What-what was that for?”

“Don’t you give me that! I’m sick of all this running around!”

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She delivers several more well-placed smacks with her little craft project.

“Okay, okay!” Toyama says at last. “I know you’re upset! But I have to ask you for just one thing. Then we can see about getting through the day, yeah?”

“Okay, but just one!”

I can’t help but find this ornery interaction kinda charming. “You two get along really well, don’t you?” I say.

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“Yep!”

“Nope!”

The two give simultaneous, contradictory replies.

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Then Hana sullenly starts to walk off, with Toyama tottering after her. It’s such a weird little sight that I can’t help but laugh.

“Well-later then!”

Image Maneuvers.

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Further along Koen-Dori, I come across a car on the roadside that’s spectacularly aflame. A group of onlookers surrounds it, in a confused uproar. It seems almost unreal-like I’m looking at a set for a TV show or something. I stand there, staring into the flames “Huh?” What’s that? I can see something...

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The raging heat makes the air shimmer. The scent of dry sand fills my nose. A gust of searing wind tugs at my hair.

Where... Where am I?

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Decaying roads. Decaying houses. A decaying city.

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...and the people who live there. People who live. People who live. People who live-

There’s someone by my side. Someone is with me, watching all of this.

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It’s...it’s a girl. The person with me is a girl, slightly younger than me.

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She says something to me. “‘Ana ismi...”

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“...cat’s cradle.” That’s my voice, now.

“Cat’s cradle?” Whose voice was that? What’s going on? Who am I talking to?

“Yeah, cat’s cradle.” I’m showing someone how to do a cat’s cradle with string. But who? Who am I showing how to do a cat’s cradle?

Canaan. The word ‘Canaan’ echoes in my head.

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“Canaan?” I utter the name aloud. The images floating through my mind are beginning to break up and vanish. But I feel like, for a brief moment at least, I’d caught hold of the edges of some of my lost memories.

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“That’s right...Canaan.” As soon as I say it, I’m filled with a powerful sense of duty. There’s something I’m responsible for-something that I needed to do. And if I don’t, this ‘Canaan’ person is going to be in grave danger. “Calm down. Just...calm down.” I’m pleading with myself now, fighting the impulse to take off running. If I did, where would I go? I have no idea what my destination or my goal even is. “Please...please, remember something. Please...please...” I gaze out at the flames, practically praying now.

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“Don’t move.” A voice hisses in my ear, and I feel something hard press against my back. I don’t need to turn around to recognize whose voice it is.

“I thought you said you didn’t have any business with-”

“I did a little thinking,” says the man with the cane, slowly, “About how I might lure out Hitomi Osawa, see.

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  • Kano, Minorikawa and Osawa are available.

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Let's catch up with Kano

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Image Setup.

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Image No music.

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Kano practically dived from the car when it arrived on the scene in Maruyamacho. The place was teeming with officers and onlookers alike.

“Out of the way! Please, move aside!” Kano forced his way through the throng. Sasayama was lying in a massive pool of blood.

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“Sasayama!”

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Kano rushed to his partner’s side. The knife was still embedded deep in Sasayama’s belly; its handle shuddered each time he drew a labored breath.

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“Guess I messed up.” Sasayama could only manage a raspy murmur.

“Please, don’t try to talk,” Kano urged.

“Looks like I...won’t be celebrating...the missus’s birthday...” Sasayama drew a small package from his pocket.

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It had been neatly wrapped, and fitted with a pretty little ribbon.

“Here... Give this to Mii-chan for me...”

Kano shook his head.

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“No way. You can give it to her yourself.”

“You’ve...never met Mii-chan, huh? She’s real pretty. Prob’bly surprise...how pretty she-”

“I know. You’ve told me all about her.”

“Kano, please. Give this to my wife for me...” Mustering up the last of his strength, Sasayama pressed the gift into Kano’s hand.

“S-Sasayama?”

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Sasayama’s hand dropped back down into the puddle of blood. A paramedic team finally arrived at the scene. As Sasayama was loaded into the ambulance, Kano felt a surge of rage roiling inside him.

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Clenching his fist so hard his nails dug into his palm, he marched over to the captive al-Karawan. “You son of a bitch!”

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He wound up for a punch to al-Karawan’s face, only to have his arm caught forcibly by the elbow. Spinning his head around, he found Stanley standing there. “Let go of me, Stanley!” But the American had a grip of steel, and Kano’s arm wouldn’t budge.

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“They allow you to assault suspects here in Japan, do they?”

Kano bit his lip, and then lowered his shaking fist. “No, of course not,” he growled. Al-Karawan let out a nasal chuckle as he watched the pair.

With a cold glare, Stanley strolled over to him.

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He leaned in close to whisper something, and all at once the blood drained from al-Karawan’s face. Visibly shaken, al-Karawan said something back to Stanley. Stanley gave a slight nod, then left the captive with the police escort.

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Kano went over to him. “Hey. What was that all about?”

“Apparently al-Karawan gave Hitomi some instructions. Told her to get into a blue minivan that was parked along Dogenzaka.” So Stanley’s hunch had been correct. But...why had al-Karawan confessed so quickly?

“How’d you get him to talk?”

“You don’t need to know that.” Turning on his heel, Stanley went to report the news about the blue van to the task force.

Kuze immediately directed the detectives nearest Dogenzaka to look into it, but they found no blue minivan in the area. The order then came down for all personnel to search for the vehicle.

Kano thought back to another item in the Dick Diary.

Dick Dictum #14
Use the dead as a stepping stone, but be sure to die a stepping stone yourself.

In the abstract, Kano could appreciate the nobility of self-sacrifice, but when he thought of Sasayama’s bloodstained figure, it wasn’t so easy to keep his emotions in check.

“First time you’ve ever seen a fellow officer get hurt?”

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Stanley had come back over to him. “We don’t have time to relax. If you can’t keep your anger in, then do something about it, here and now.”

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Stanley pointed to his own jaw. “Hit me. American-style.”

Kano smiled wryly at the unexpected proposal.

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“I’m the one who deserves to get hit.” Thinking about Sasayama, Kano couldn’t help but feel guilty. “If I weren’t such a bumbling clod, Sasayama would never have...”

“Hey-don’t blame yourself,” Stanley said. “You guys have been doing better than I expected.”

“More sarcasm, huh?”

Stanley’s mouth curled up sheepishly and he held his hands wide.

Image Pursuit.

Kuze’s voice suddenly cut in over the wireless. “We’ve located the blue minivan! It’s in Jinnan I-Chome,on Koen-Dori!

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Hitomi might be there-and maybe the kidnappers’ ringleader would turn up, too. On pure reflex, Kano broke into a run. Stanley followed close behind.

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They sped through the back streets, making their way toward Koen-Dori. Kano was a pretty fast runner, but Stanley kept up with him without apparent difficulty. “Were you in the Army or something?”

“No, the Marines.”
General Tip – Marines wrote:United States Marine Corps. A rapid-deployment force specializing in amphibious landing operations. An independent branch of the Armed Forces, along with the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The Marines’ motto is “Semper Fidelis,” Latin for “Always Faithful.”
It wasn’t much further to Koen-Dori.

“Kano, if we find that van, don’t get too close,” Stanley warned. It could be a trap. These people will do anything to carry out their goals.”

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“Anything, huh?”

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Kano could sense the truth of Stanley’s words; he reminded himself that his life could depend on remembering them. He raised his eyes. They were coming up on Koen-Dori.

Suddenly a boom as loud as cannon fire shook the area.

Something’s wrong! Kano thought. That’s no ordinary city noise!

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A column of black smoke rose up from between two nearby buildings. Passersby stopped and stared, gasping in alarm.

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Then Kano saw flames. This hadn’t been an accident.

Someone had set off an explosion.

Several people were on the ground nearby, evidently injured by the detonation.

“Mr. Minorikawa! Mr. Minorikawa!”

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A high school-aged girl was crying, clinging tightly to a man who’d been caught in the blast. Kano recognized her as the girl he’d talked to earlier, during the traffic jam. The man looked like he might still be alive. Kano hurried over to them. “Police!” he announced.

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Blood was streaming from the man’s mouth. He’d clearly suffered some internal damage.

“Hang in there, buddy!” Kano told him. “Stay with us!”

The man’s face twisted up in pain, but somehow he managed to croak out a few words.

Image Doubt.

Kano let out a gasp. The man’s voice was almost too weak to hear, but what he said still shook Kano the core.

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This man knew something important. Something... Something crucial to the investigation.

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Rescue vehicles arrived on the scene, and the wounded man was promptly loaded onto a stretcher. When he was placed inside the ambulance, Kano flashed his badge at the paramedics and got in alongside him. The man had already fallen unconscious. Kano didn’t know when he’d wake back up, but he knew he needed to hear what the guy had to say. He sensed that this stranger was the key to unlocking the entire case.

But though Kano kept a lonely vigil, the man never woke again. The antiviral that had been given to Hitomi. The blue minivan al-Karawan told Hitomi to look for. And now, the minivan exploding...

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  • Minorikawa and Osawa are available (though we already know that as things currently stand, Minorikawa is heading for a bad end) – alternatively, Achi and Osawa have decisions at 15:30 if we want to try get past Kano's bad end.

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Image Pressure.

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Image Setup.

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Image Pursuit.

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428 Tip – Attempted bioterrorism attack wrote:Two years ago, the Tokyo Metropolitan Public Safety Commission obtained intel of an imminent bioterrorist attack within the city. Immediately afterward, an unoccupied minivan exploded outside the Metropolitan Police Department, and a device for dispersing a bacterial contagion was discovered at the subway platform at Kasumigaseki Station. Having determined that the city bureaucracy was the target, the Japanese government contacted the terrorist organization responsible in secret, making a deal to put an end to the threat.
Already, a large crowd of onlookers was gathering. Shouts rose up as they took in the scene.

“What’s going on?”

“What happened?”

“That car is on fire!”

Kano called in to HQ, then quickly slipped around to the back of the burning vehicle. It was a minivan.

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Peering at the flaming chassis, he could see that there was someone inside. Oh, no...Could that he Hitomi? Once they had their hands on the antiviral, the criminals would have no further use for Hitomi Osawa. Already, the body had been charred to ash. At this point, it was hardly recognizable as human anymore.

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  • Minorikawa and Osawa are available.

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How is Minorikawa?

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