Satsukawa: "We've arrived..."
Erika: "Finally! All the way here just for an interrogation! Wasn't the nearest station good enough?"
Satsukawa: "When serious crimes such as homicides happen, ad hoc investigation headquarters are set up. You might have just seen me and a few other officers, but more than a hundred men have been mobilized. The local police stations can't handle all that by themselves."
I see, that explains why the same investigators from my previous case have been assigned to this one, even though it is a completely different ward. Still, it is quite a funny coincidence.
I get out of Satsukawa's car and I stretch my body, it became rather stiff, and I am still a bit drowsy after the long boring travel.
In front of me stands a very tall building, several stories high. This is the chosen headquarter for the current murder case, a different place from what I visited in the past.
As soon as we enter inside, we are welcomed by a receptionist who promptly recognized Satsukawa. The latter briefly explains the situation about his guests and we are asked to sign a few documents to get permission to proceed further. Pointless bureaucracy.
This seems to be a very important police station and rather modern in its internal design, it probably covers a pretty wide area. There are people frenetically running everywhere, back and forth. It must be a joy to work in this place.
Satsukawa: "Criminality is on the rise. We're expecting twice the reported offenses of ten years ago. There's a lot to do, and there's never enough manpower."
Erika: "I'm hardly interested in robbery and other small crimes. Where's Hibari?"
Satsukawa: "Second floor. That's where we settled our main base of operations, and where the interrogation rooms are."
Erika: "Then, what are we waiting for?"
After passing through a few corridors, a set of stairs and then more corridors, we reach an open space furnished with several desks and file cabinets. There are tons of documents piled up in a disorderly fashion, computers and printers on almost every desk, some with more than a single monitor, a few laptops, and other technological instruments I don't recognize. I count about twenty persons, only a few of which are actually old acquaintances.
We are welcomed by a dozen of suspicious stares, the rest doesn't even bother looking in our direction. A man gets up from his station and walks in front of us. I remember him, he is superintendent Kimura.
Kimura: "Why did you bring her here, Satsukawa!"
Satsukawa: "Well, you see..."
Erika: "It's a real pleasure to meet you again, Kimura-san."
Satsukawa: "She said that it was important for her to be here and listen to the interrogation..."
Kimura: "You still haven't learned a damn thing about her! She just manipulated you! Whatever she told you, it was just a lie! What you need to do is to listen to her wonderful theories and report them! Not do whatever she tells you!"
Erika: "And perhaps you expect me to conjure theories out of thin air! I require data, I must see, hear, touch, experience! It'd be a crime to deprive me of what I..."
Kimura: "I'm not talking to you!"
What a... jerk!
Rokudou: "Kimura-san, we've already come this far. Milady just wishes to assist to the interrogation of an important suspect. What damage can that possibly cause?"
Kimura: "The hell I know what she's planning! She's a poisonous snake! No matter how useful she is, a snake is still a snake."
Erika: "Where's Oosugi-san? Did he start already?"
Kimura: "You're not listening, aren't you? I thought you could get a clue!"
Satsukawa: "She played an important part in helping us securing the suspect. I think she earned the right to at least listen..."
He is trying his best, but he couldn't say that with a straight face. He is omitting to mention how exactly I helped with that.
Kimura: "I won't let her inside with Oosugi and the suspect, that's out of the question!"
Satsukawa: "We're not asking that, of course! We just want to access the observation room."
Kimura: "Hmmm... hmmm... okay. But once inside, you stay inside! No wandering around! And when it's done, you leave! My terms are not negotiable!"
Satsukawa: "That will do!"
Erika: "No! What about the suspect's belongings? It was my suggestion to collect them, if they arrive when the interrogation is still going, I want to be informed and be allowed to check them!"
Kimura: "Anything else, princess?"
Erika: "That will suffice. You don't even know what to look for, anyway! But I do! A most relevant piece of the puzzle that you wouldn't spot in a hundred years!"
Kimura: "Why don't you tell us what it is? We will deal with the search and let you know the outcome."
Erika: "No, I'll tell you after I find it! My terms are not negotiable!"
Rokudou: "Pff... hu hu hu hu!"
Kimura grits his teeth while rubbing his unshaven jaw. He is thinking about it, and that means he bit the bait already.
Kimura: "Two men! You'll be followed by two men! In addition to Satsukawa and me!"
Erika: "Why do I feel as if I am a dangerous criminal?"
Kimura: "Because you are!"
Erika: "All right, done! Where's this room? We've wasted enough time!"
Kimura snaps his fingers and gives the command to follow to two of his subordinates. The strange party that thus is formed proceeds to a nearby room. The door next to the one we are crossing is guarded by yet another of Kimura's men. They sure are paranoid in this place.
Inside the observation room, there are already two persons, one of which is tending to video and audio registrations. It is dark and cramped here, nine people are way too many for this place! I hope there will be enough oxygen for all of us.
At least I have finally obtained what I wanted. From the other side of the giant one-way mirror, I can see Hibari and Oosugi seated on either side of a small table. Hidden microphones are relaying everything they say through two speakers mounted right above the mirror.
Somehow it seems that Hibari had the time to calm down and get herself together. She is no longer crying, and she doesn't look as scared as before, but she looks pretty tired.
Erika: "Which step are we at?"
One of the two men that were already inside, the one that isn't recording, looks at me suspiciously and then at Kimura. The latter smiles sardonically and nods slightly.
Man: "He's just starting the real interrogation. The preliminary questions have already shown that the suspect is lying. No doubt about that."
Erika: "Step one, then. It looks like we've arrived in time for the relevant part."
Oosugi: "Okay, missy, let's go over the facts again, shall we?"
Oosugi: "Thursday, 11 April, six days ago, 6:30 PM. The corpse of Hitomi Gotsuji was discovered by Meito Oda, one of your schoolmates and close friend of the victim. He claims that he was lured to the scene by a message that he found inside his locker. Forensic analysis of the message revealed that you left your fingerprints on it. Additionally, we've found your fingerprints on the site where the murder was committed. Lastly, we have evidence that you were still inside the school when the crime happened. We know that the victim was someone you knew very well, as she's been a member of your basket club for the past two years. We also know that you're closely acquainted with Maaya Teramoto, the president of the occultism club. And this very club abusively took possession of the shed where the victim was found inside. Am I missing anything so far?"
Kagami: "Yes! The fact that I've been with Yuu Azuma all that time! So I couldn't..."
Oosugi: "Ah, right, Yuu Azuma! Which is another of your club members, am I right?"
Oosugi: "Let's talk about what happened this morning. From what I've understood, somehow you literally stumbled upon my colleague and the detective chick while they were talking about you."
Detective chick?! That son of an underdeveloped orangutan!
Oosugi: "As soon as you heard that they were looking for you, you asked if it was because of the fingerprints you've left on the message that Oda has found."
Kagami: "D-did I really say that...? I... I don't quite remember..."
Those are not exactly her words, but Oosugi is right in putting it that way. She probably doesn't remember with certainty.
Oosugi: "That's what my colleague and the detective chick told me. I don't think that they both misheard what you've said."
I didn't tell you anything, you big fat liar!
Oosugi: "Evidence suggests that you thought that they were going to arrest you, even though nobody ever threatened you with that, and in fact nobody ever planned to."
Kagami: "Y-you have arrested me in the end!"
Oosugi: "Missy, you're not under arrest... yet. You've just been brought here for questioning. How many times do I need to repeat it?"
Kagami: "So you plan to arrest me, after all! You want to arrest me!"
Oosugi: "Oh, for heaven's sake! I don't even have the authority to arrest you, missy! We don't arrest people carelessly in Japan. Once you're arrested, you're almost certain to be found guilty, you can rest assured!"
Oosugi: "So why are you so convinced that we want to arrest you, missy? Can you explain that?"
Kagami: "Uh... well... that detective chick is very very scary!"
Stop calling me detective chick!
Oosugi: "I see, but from my perspective, your behavior is extremely suspicious, and the evidence that we have against you is particularly hard to deny. Do you understand your position, missy?"
Oosugi: "I'll be blunt. This isn't a matter of understanding whether you're involved with the crime or not, you're involved, this is a fact. What we still need to figure out is how much you're involved."
A smile on Oosugi's face. No denial. This is bad.
Oosugi: "Frankly, missy, I think that you're just another victim of this whole affair."
Kagami: "Uh? A... victim?"
Oosugi: "Yes, in a sense, you had not choice but to do what you did."
Oosugi: "I think that if there's anyone to blame, that's Maaya Teramoto, not you."
Kagami: "What?! Maaya has nothing to do with this!"
Oosugi: "Are you sure? Isn't Teramoto the one that brought the murder weapon, that wakizashi, to the school? Would've all of this ever happened, if it wasn't for that sword?"
Kagami: "But! But! She never wanted it to be used!"
Oosugi: "Oh, I'm sure of it, but... you see... nobody really wants to be a murderer, but then things happen, and before you know it you've become one. If it wasn't for that sword, maybe Gotsuji would be still alive."
Kagami: "I don't really understand what you're saying..."
Oosugi: "This whole thing about the demon, the curse and the spirits, you don't really believe it, right?"
Oosugi: "Why would someone lie to so many people, if she hadn't ill intentions? Do you usually lie to those you care about?"
Kagami: "No! But... but..."
Oosugi: "I fear that Teramoto used you, missy."
Kagami: "There's not way that's true! Maaya is my friend! She's a very important person to me!"
Oosugi: "Hmmm... it looks like she did a very good job with you..."
Hibari doesn't realize to what terrible danger Oosugi is leading her. What he is aiming to is to make her confess that she was made to kill or assist in the murder of Gotsuji under an order or some kind of manipulation, thus shifting all the blame on Teramoto. So in other words he is putting it in a way to make her believe that even if she did all of that, she would be just a blameless victim. But in reality as soon as she confesses that she killed Gotsuji or that she witnessed and covered the crime, she is screwed.
Oosugi: "Sigh... listen, missy, you know that that girl is a liar, right?"
Oosugi: "What makes you think that she never lied to you?"
Kagami: "You are the liar! Maaya never lied to me!"
Oosugi: "That girl is pretty smart, isn't she?"
Kagami: "Uh? Yes, of course she is!"
Oosugi: "A lot smarter than you, right?"
Kagami: "Yes! ... Wait! She's smarter, but not that much smarter! I'm pretty smart myself, you know!"
Oosugi: "Ha ha ha... are you serious?"
Kagami: "Of course! Are you implying that I'm stupid?!"
Oosugi: "... Nevermind that... What I'm trying to say is that Teramoto is a really smart person when it comes to lies. Did anyone ever proved that she lied about the demon and her other stories?"
Kagami: "Of course not!"
Oosugi: "Then you see, everyone could be fooled by her lies, even you."
Oosugi: "Do you think that'd be impossible?"
Kagami: "But... but... I would know... if she..."
Oosugi: "How? If you could understand whenever she lies, that'd mean Teramoto isn't such a good liar after all."
Kagami: "Uggah! Wait... hmmm..."
Oosugi: "Can you still deny that possibility?"
Oosugi: "Kagami Hibari, Teramoto used you, she made you do a lot of bad things, and now she's sacrificing you in order to protect herself."
Kagami: "Uaaaaaaah!!! That's a lie! That's a lie! That's lie!"
Oosugi: "Here's what I think. Gotsuji somehow became a nuisance, and Teramoto decided that something had to been done about it. Maybe originally she only wanted to scare her, but somehow the situation went out of control and in the end Gotsuji died. At that point everyone panicked, you had no idea what to do, you couldn't possibly leave the corpse there. Someone had to alert the police, but nobody wanted to do it. So Teramoto had a brilliant idea. She said that she would make someone else find the body, so that no one among her friends would get in trouble. And that's how she devised the trick of the message, except she made you do it."
Kagami: "Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! You're completely wrong!"
Just as I thought. This was Hibari's idea, Teramoto has absolutely nothing to do with it. But then again, saying that this was completely Hibari's idea would be wrong. She didn't come up with anything by herself, just like the door trick, she merely copied someone else's idea and used it in her clumsy way.