Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chapter 3 (d)

Obediently and quietly the girls take their seats.

Satsukawa: "Thank you, Wakamatsu-san."

I wonder what kind of approach he is going to adopt. Knowing him, he will probably try to be friendly and understanding.

Satsukawa: "Principal Wakamatsu's introduction already addressed the most important points, but let me reiterate that this is, from a legal standpoint, an informal meeting. My name is Keiji Satsukawa, I'm from the criminal investigation section of the Metropolitan Police Department of Tokyo. My purpose today is simply to gather information that I believe you possess. As you certainly must have already understood by now, we have evidence that all of you have been inside the shed where the corpse of Hitomi Gotsuji was found. I know that some of you have been questioned already and that you've denied any involvement with that place, however the proofs that are now in our possession are solid, lying at this point would be meaningless.
Let me make it absolutely clear: we know you've been there. What we don't know yet, is why you've been there and why you refused to tell us. This is the reason you've been summoned here today."

Satsukawa waits a few seconds before continuing, he probably thinks that someone might go ahead and say something at this point, but unsurprisingly no one wants to be the first to talk. The first years students nervously look at each others, but in the end they remain silent.

Satsukawa: "So far we've collected several rumors regarding that place, but we don't know how much reliable they are, and it's only fragmented information. For example we have reasons to believe that not just you but many other students of this school periodically were invited to that shed to participate to some kind of not better specified ritual of sort. Let's see... I know some of you have become students of the Mitsugi institute just a few days ago. Not really the best way to start your high school life, isn't it? At any rate I'm eager to understand how come you've been involved so quickly. How did that work exactly? Let's start from the beginning... Hmmm... you. You're Keiko Yoshida, right?"

Yoshida: "Yes..."

In the end he decided to pick someone directly. He must have prepared himself thoroughly for this, he even memorized each face and name.

Satsukawa: "Would you mind telling me when did you hear about the abandoned P.E. shed for the first time?"

Yoshida: "It happened pretty quickly... I no longer remember who told me that, but I learned that there was a haunted place in this school... and that I should never go there by my own initiative..."

Satsukawa: "According to what you've learned, can it be said that in this school it's a common belief that the abandoned P.E. shed is a haunted place?"

Yoshida: "Yes... but..."

Satsukawa: "But?"

Yoshida: "I've been told that I shouldn't talk about that with male students... so I think they don't know... At least in my class they don't."

Satsukawa: "Did they tell you why?"

Yoshida: "No... well... among the many things that I've been told, they said that this was all part of some sort of tradition of this school. All the senpai I've talked to went through the same."

Satsukawa: "You didn't think there was something wrong going on?"

Yoshida: "I didn't think it was something serious at first. In the beginning I thought it was fun... it was like talking about ghost stories during summer camps... hmmm..."

Satsukawa: "Matsumoto, was it the same for you?"

Matsumoto: "Ah... hmmm... yes..."

Satsukawa: "So at first, all that you've heard is that there was this haunted place, and that you should never go there. Is that right?"

Matsumoto: "Yes... for the first days everyone kept talking about that, and about strange things happening in this school."

Satsukawa: "I suppose you became curious."

Matsumoto: "Yes, very..."

Clever. Absolutely clever.

Satsukawa: "Hmmm... Matsumoto, I believe that at one point someone must have invited you to that place."

Matsumoto: "... Yes..."

Satsukawa: "You weren't the only one though. How many girls were invited in total?"

Matsumoto: "Twelve... twelve of us were chosen..."

Satsukawa: "Are the other eleven girls you've met in that place here with us now?"

Matsumoto seems to be indecisive about what to answer. She looks left and right for a while and then she musters the courage to speak.

Matsumoto: "Yes... they're all here."

Satsukawa: "Maeda, is what Matsumoto said true?"

Maeda: "Yes..."

Satsukawa: "Why were you suddenly invited to go there, if initially they said you shouldn't?"

Maeda: "I was told that there are people that know how to control the presence inside that place. We would be safe if we went with them."

Satsukawa: "Were they the same people that invited you?"

Maeda: "Yes."

Unlike the others Maeda doesn't seem to be worried about what she says.

Satsukawa: "Why did they want you to go there? Did they tell?"

Maeda: "They said something about spiritual bonds among humans... According to them many people are required to generate enough spiritual energy."

Satsukawa: "Enough spiritual energy to do what?"

Maeda: "To keep the demon binded to that place."

Satsukawa: "Is this demon the presence that haunts the shed?"

Maeda: "Yes."

Satsukawa: "Maeda, do you believe this demon actually exists?"

Maeda: "..."

Even Maeda has problems answering that question.

Satsukawa: "Is there something that prevents you from speaking freely?"

Maeda: "Everyone... seems to think the demon actually exists."

Satsukawa: "But you don't."

Maeda: "I don't know..."

Satsukawa: "Yamazaki, what about you?"

Yamazaki: "Well... at first I thought it was all a prank..."

Sastukawa: "Like a sort of initiation rite for first students?"

Yamazaki: "Well, yes... something like that..."

Satsukawa: "And what do you think now?"

Yamazaki: "I think there's really something there. After all..."

Satsukawa: "After all?"

Yamazaki: "Well... what I've seen there can't be explained in any other way."

Some people start whispering among themselves, on both sides. Yamazaki's last statement is causing many reactions, and I think I just saw Teramoto smiling.
Satsukawa for a few seconds seems to be indecisive as to what to ask next, but he quickly reaches a decision. He is really playing it safe, too safe for my tastes. He wants to keep them talking and he is trying to leave questions that they might refuse to answer for last.

Satsukawa: "I want you to tell me exactly what happened on that day, from the beginning. First things first, when did that happen? Uzuhara?"

Uzuhara: "Eh? Me?"

Satsukawa: "Your name is Ami Uzuhara, right?"

Uzuhara: "Yes! That's me!"

Some girls start giggling.

Satsukawa: "Uzuhara, do you remember which day that was?"

Uzuhara: "Hmmm... hmmm... which day that was..."

Satsukawa: "You don't remember how many days before the crime?"

Uzuhara: "Oh, it was the day before... I'm trying to remember if it was a Tuesday... or maybe a Monday?"

Satsukawa: "Thank you... Uzuhara... Endo, can you confirm that the day you were all invited inside the shed was Wednesday, April 10?"

Endo: "Yes, it was that day."

Satsukawa: "Do you remember the time?"

Endo: "We were brought inside the shed at around 18:00, but we were asked to gather half an hour before."

Satsukawa: "Was there a reason for that?"

Endo: "They gave us instructions about what to do and not to do once inside."

Satsukawa: "What kind of instructions?"

Endo: "We were told to never talk for any reason, mobile phones were banned. We were told to sit around the magic circle that was drawn on the floor and to do whatever we were asked. They stressed out that it was for our safety, else the demon could hurt us... Oh, and each one of us received a protective charm."

Satsukawa: "A charm? Like the usual charms you can find in a Shinto shrine?"

Endo: "Yes... they were Shintoist charms."

Satsukawa: "What happened then?"

Endo: "They led us inside, they were all pretty serious about it, that's when I started to feel a little scared... The door of that shed... I didn't quite understand it back then but... it wasn't supposed to open..."

Satsukawa: "You're talking about the latch?"

Endo: "Yes... I know because some girls decided to check the shed in spite of the warnings. They said they couldn't enter because it was closed from inside. I didn't believe them at first."

Satsukawa: "What made you change your mind?"

Endo: "I've seen that door with my eyes, there's just no way to close it or open it from outside. I thought it could be a trick, but after talking to several people I realized it's really impossible."

Satsukawa: "So, how did that door open?"

Endo: "Uh... hmmm..."

Satsukawa: "You can't tell me how?"

Endo: "She... used some sort of spell... and... it was as if the door was never closed to begin with..."

Satsukawa: "Endo, can you tell me who did it?"

Endo: "Hmmm..."

She shakes her head.

Satsukawa: "Why can't you tell me? Is there anything that's threatening you?"

Endo: "I don't want to be one to say it! Why it must be me?"

Wakamatsu: "Endo! Answer the question!"

Satsukawa: "It's all right, Wakamatsu-san, maybe someone else can tell us? Maeda?"

Maeda: "Well, it's not like there's really a reason not to say it... I mean, we were told that we should never talk to outsiders about what happened there... But that was before all of this happened..."

Satsukawa: "That's right, you no longer have any choice, we won't let you go as long as you don't answer all of our questions."

Maeda: "Well... the one who did it was..."

Teramoto: "It was me."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chapter 3 (c)

The place is noisy and way too crowded for my tastes.
Satsukawa had promised me he would have explained the details on the way here, and he did. What he didn't warn me about, is that the 'details' included all the bad news he didn't mention at the beginning.
Long story short, the interrogation will take place in the gym, because they could not think of any other place that could fit everyone inside. In addition the school council pressured to be involved because this is also a matter that concerns them and they need to evaluate the situation for possible disciplinary actions. In the end it has been decided that this will be a joint interrogation with both parties involved with representatives from either side. So the real reason Satsukawa was chosen as the one who will run the show, is because he is the main contact between everyone involved, including me. That being said, it's not like they completely entrusted him with such an important operation and left him all by himself. There is an old acquaintance of mine among the crowd. Inspector Oosugi, a fat troglodyte who could fit better among a bunch of yakuza from a Kitano movie.
I have seen two patrol cars parked in front of the school today, so there are a few cops around, and there are probably other guys from the crime investigation section nearby. I guess they think there might be a chance they will catch a big fish today.
Four representatives from the school side will be present. One is Wakamatsu herself, in her expensive suit and fresh from a hair salon. Then there is the ubiquitous Nagaoka. Why is this man so important, I wonder? He isn't Teramoto's homeroom teacher, to my knowledge. It is probably his overzealous nature that caused him to get involved in this whole affair, and he is probably taking avail of the fact that the victim has been his student for two years. I bet he even submitted a formal request to be here today.
There is then another teacher that I know nothing about, but the last one at least has a reason to be here. She is Nakamura, and I have just learned she is the one in charge of the occultism club.
Right now they are divided among small groups and they are discussing the particulars of the big event that is just about to take place. In the meantime other personnel is setting up the place, seats and desks and so on, with Wakamatsu occasionally giving them instructions. It almost seems as if they are preparing for an important meeting with the press rather than with a bunch of students involved in a crime.
At first it seemed a good idea to question all the girls at the same time, but after seeing this, I am not so sure anymore. I almost regret that they didn't choose to interrogate them separately one by one. However Satsukawa explained to me that this is more of a formal preliminary meeting than anything, this is mainly to assess the general situation. More in depth interrogations will follow, once we will know more about the abandoned shed and the meetings that must have taken place there. It also appears that there have been discussions regarding the summoning of Teramoto, but in the end it was decided that whether she was present or not, little would have changed about her intimidation factor. According to Nagaoka, showing her in front of people with higher authority will make the other students understand who actually commands in this school, that way he hopes to lower her influence. We will see soon if his predictions are correct. Even then as the most probable ringleader, Teramoto is a key element to understand the truth behind that P.E. shed.
I am really curious to see what that girl will do. She is about to be checkmated, but it's not like she didn't have the time to prepare a counter move, she had plenty. Now it is time for her to show what she is made of, now it is time for her to show what kind of excuse she came up with to deny her involvement. I wonder if she will claim that someone is trying to frame her. In the end we didn't find much about her, just a few hairs that could have been placed there by anyone. But the point is that she does not know that this is all that we have. Can she really be that confident that she didn't leave any fingerprints? At any rate, no matter the strategy, if she decides to escape, she will be hunted and in the end she will be cornered.
I like hunting games, and I am really looking forward to this. If everything goes as I wish, she will weasel out her way through the direct attacks of Satsukawa and the rest. And then, once she will think to be on a safe path, she will find the unexpected me in front of her, and whatever choice she will take to avoid me, she will just end up in one of my traps.
Please, do not disappoint me, Teramoto! Try to escape as much as you can, do not let them catch you easily! I want to have a lot of fun with you today!
I care very little about the other girls, I have been given a list with all of their names, but there isn't really anyone that I know anything about excluding Teramoto. Yuu Azuma, Junko Andou, Sumomo Takamiya, their names aren't there, even though I'm pretty sure they must have been in that shed too. I can only guess that they periodically clean the place, and all traces of those who have been there only once or a just few times in the past were erased.
Waiting for all of these boring 'preparations' is taking its toll on me, I need to find something to keep my mind occupied with. Oosugi is all alone in a corner, it seems like he is more than happy to leave the public relations to Satsukawa. Since he is an old acquaintance, it would be rude not to greet him properly after all this time. I decide to approach him, even if I am pretty sure he would be a lot happier if I didn't.

Erika: "Good morning, Oosugi-san, what a delightful surprise to see you again. Oh, it's been a long time, I see you've changed... did you gain another few kilos? *giggle* *giggle*"

Oosugi's only answer is a guttural and cavernous grunt, and that's all that he gives me before walking away. What an uncivilized brute!

Erika: "My my, Oosugi-san, don't go and smoke another pack of cigarettes again. It's bad for your lungs!"

I am pretty sure he heard me, but he will not give me the satisfaction to even show that he listens to my words.
Meanwhile Satsukawa just finished to talk to the three teachers and he is now looking for me. He comes with a smile, but I perceive worry in his eyes.

Satsukawa: "We're almost done. I've told you already what your role is in this, but let me double check if you understood everything."

Erika: "I've understood everything perfectly. The principal Wakamatsu will talk first, she'll explain to the girls why we summoned them, and she'll prepare them for the interrogation. Then you'll take over, and you'll re-explain the situation from a pure investigative perspective. From that point onward you'll make the questions and everyone else should keep their mouths shut unless there are really important things they need to say or ask."

Satsukawa: "Right, and by 'everyone else' I mean everyone including you."

Erika: "I got it, Satsukawa-san, do you think that I'm stupid?"

Satsukawa: "No, but I think you could pretend you didn't understand and then blame me for not explaining everything clearly."

Erika: "I'd never use such a cheap excuse."

Satsukawa: "Yeah, but you're not denying that you could use a better excuse."

Erika: "Tch..."

Satsukawa: "No funny business, Erika. Not this time."

Erika: "Of course, Satsukawa-san, I understand how important it is for you to make a good impression on your superior."

Satsukawa: "What? No that's... okay that's also a reason, but what of it? Is it wrong if I want to show them that I can make you work for the team for once?"

Erika: "In other words you want to prove that you can deal with me, even if they all think it's just a waste of time to even try. They've assigned you to this task, so I guess it's a matter of pride for you."

Satsukawa: "That's not exactly a matter of pride, Erika, it's more a matter of wanting to fulfill my role as best as I can."

Erika: "It's all right, you've already convinced me by the time you made me realize that those people expect you to fail."

Satsukawa: "Ah, perfect! I'm glad to hear you don't want me to lose face in front of them!"

Erika: "It's more like I want them to be proven wrong."

Satsukawa: "Well... either way it's fine..."

Erika: "You're worrying for nothing, Satsukawa-san. In the first place it isn't really wise nor elegant to play an ace from the very beginning. It's better to leave it for last or for a very critical situation. I've never had any intention to carelessly make my move before the appropriate time."

Satsukawa: "That's a relief, I'm only a bit worried about what you consider an 'appropriate' time now..."

Erika: "At any rate, if I was granted a seat among the rest of you, it means that you expect me to participate sooner or later."

Satsukawa: "The important part is that if I sign you to stop, you must stop."

Erika: "It really depends if that's an intelligent thing to do."

Satsukawa sighs dejectedly.

Satsukawa: "I can only hope this won't go too much out of control... By the way, Dlanor is not allowed to talk, okay?"

Erika: "Understood, Dlanor will just stay put in a corner and look pretty."

Dlanor: "Understood."

Erika: "It's all right Dlanor, that's what you do best, stay put and look pretty! *giggle* *giggle*"

Dlanor: "..."

A man standing near the gym's entrance attracts Satsukawa's attention by making a signal with his hand. Satsukawa nods back to communicate he received the message.

Satsukawa: "They're bringing them here, we should all take our seats and prepare to meet them."

Erika: "As you command, great chief."

Satsukawa: "Erika..."

He shakes his head, but I think he is satisfied enough with my answers.
I sit on the place that I was assigned to, next to Satsukawa; he wants to keep me close, apparently.
Oosugi comes back and takes the farthest seat on the opposite side. Nagaoka is next to him, then Wakamatsu. The other teachers take place on my left.
Seventeen chairs have been arranged in a semi-circle in front of us. Teramoto cannot hope to hide behind her lackeys, wherever she decides to sit, we will still have a direct visual of her.
I hear the sound of several people walking incoming from outside. A few seconds later a procession of seventeen female students passes through the doors and silently walks toward us.
I attentively examine their faces. I have always entertained myself with the idea that I could understand who Teramoto is simply by looking at her, now I have the chance to test whether I really can or not. My eyes jump from face to face, back and forth, again and again. I quickly exclude those that are apparently too young, the choice is now limited to five or six. Not that one, the other next to her isn't either, she is... there! I have found her! Teramoto is that girl, I am sure of it!
She is somewhat different from what I used to imagine her. Long and perfectly straight hair, conspicuous black glasses, a mole near her left eye. She is neither too tall nor too short, neither beautiful nor ugly, in the end her look is pretty average. However there is something in her eyes that reveals her true identity, a fiery stare that you rarely see in a person. Among all these intimidated and ashamed girls it stands out even more. Unlike the rest, the one that I recognized as Teramoto has yet to lower her eyes to the ground.
For a while the only sounds that can be heard are those caused by the several girls as they walk and stop in front of their seats.
Wakamatsu stands up and clears her throat, it's her turn.

Wakamatsu: "You are finally all assembled. The circumstances that led you here today are cause of a serious concern for this school, and I'm sure all of you understand the gravity of this situation. Six days ago Hitomi Gotsuji ceased to exist; she was a student of the Mitsugi institute, just like you. Her corpse was found bereft of life in a place not far from here, a place that we have reasons to believe you know well. Before saying anything else, I want you to understand that you're not accused of anything yet. All the people attending this meeting have been assembled for a specific purpose: to assess the situation concerning the abandoned P.E. shed and to evaluate related responsibilities. I have little knowledge of what that place has become and what purpose it served, and it is my wish that you will help us in our endeavor to find the truth. In fact I expect from all of you your full cooperation. Whatever happened, whatever the reasons, it's time to tell us all that you know. Do not be afraid to talk, the teachers and I are very worried about all of you, we're not your enemies, we're your allies, and we wish to help you. You must find the courage to take the hand we're lending, if someone is threatening you, if someone is causing you harm in any way, please let us know. We are here, we care, and we will protect you. And if you did something wrong, if you did something you're ashamed of, you mustn't be afraid to confess. We will help you in making up for it and in returning to the right path. This is your chance to do the right thing."

Well, what can I say? She isn't half bad. I think she pressed all the right buttons so far. She became the principal of this school at a relatively young age, I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised that she knows how to talk to people.
There is a factor that is really working against Teramoto today. Many of these girls are first year students, and that probably means she didn't have the time to get them under her complete control, or, to borrow Takamiya's words, to make them 'understand the situation'. They do not know yet what she is capable of and what it means to make her their enemy. They must have heard rumors, enough to keep them under check for a while, but I doubt rumors are enough to silence them now that we have reached this point. So it only depends on what they have experienced inside the shed and how much impressionable they are.

Wakamatsu: "Satsukawa-san from the crime investigation section is here to preside this meeting. He is trying to shed light on the circumstances that led to Gotsuji's demise, and he believes that it is of extreme importance to learn from you anything that you know about the place where she was found. For the sake of your missing schoolmate and her family, answer to all of our questions without omitting a single fact."

She makes a pause and her eyes move from side to side checking that all the students understood her words and the situation they find themselves in.

Wakamatsu: "That is all I have to say before ceding the lead to Satsukawa-san. You may sit down."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chapter 3 (b)

Erika: "Ha! Fantastic! This is simply perfect!"

Satsukawa: "What do you say? Are you ready to confront her?"

Erika: "Now yes. She has much to answer for, and she can't deny her involvement anymore."

Satsukawa: "And I still haven't told you the best part yet."

Erika: "The best part? Something even more interesting than that? Hmmm... let me guess, it must be about the fingerprints you've found on the victim's message."

Satsukawa: "That's right, try to guess who they belong to."

Erika: "It can't be Teramoto again, I doubt she'd be that careless."

Satsukawa: "About that... we actually didn't find any of her fingerprints inside the shed."

Erika: "Not even one? That's pretty odd... So what exactly did you find?"

Satsukawa: "Hairs. We've found a few."

Erika: "It intrigues me the fact that she didn't leave fingerprints, especially when so many people did, including her lackeys."

Satsukawa: "This is something we'll be able to ask her very soon."

Erika: "But regarding that message, if it isn't Teramoto, then who that might be? Oh, wait, I get it, it must be Takamiya."

Satsukawa: "Wrong, we didn't find anything that belongs to her."

Erika: "Tch..."

I don't like the smile on his face.

Erika: "All right, Satsukawa-san, who is this person?"

Satsukawa: "It's Kagami Hibari again."

Erika: "Hibari? That's... really interesting..."

Let us recapitulate what we know about that message.
It was written by Gotsuji, that much is practically certain. Her fingerprints are on that piece of paper.
The message was folded, probably by the victim herself.
The message was unfolded, likely from the intended recipient, and then it was crumpled.
The message was later found by Oda inside his locker. That was probably the time when he left his own fingerprints on it.
The third person who left fingerprints on the message is Kagami Hibari.
If we put all these facts together it becomes likely to assume that this last person was the intended recipient of Gotsuji's message. Kagami Hibari therefore has to answer why the victim wanted to meet her at that place, and why she didn't tell us anything before.
This line of thoughts assumes that the culprit somehow managed to retrieve the message after it was tossed away, and that this culprit took care as to not leave fingerprints on it.
However, if we assume that the culprit isn't a careful nor a smart person, and Hibari certainly isn't either, then it would follow that the third set of fingerprints is an incriminating evidence. At the very least it would mean that she tried to frame Oda. And why would she? Maybe because she is the culprit, but more likely because she was ordered to.
No, that doesn't make sense. There are actions that have been taken that could only be executed by someone with very scarce intellectual faculties. In other words it makes more sense to think that Hibari took decisions by herself, and very poorly. For example, who would try to frame someone else with a message without taking care as to not leave fingerprints on it?
Unless someone wanted to frame Hibari to begin with... Is this an elaborated strategy?

Satsukawa: "I think we're on a turning point. The fact that Hibari's fingerprints were found both on the message and inside the shed are pretty strong evidences. She's also the single element that connects the victim to Teramoto and her group. She must know something."

Erika: "Undoubtedly."

Satsukawa: "Plus, we know that she was still inside the school grounds at the time of the crime, and no one except Yuu Azuma can guarantee for her."

Erika: "That would mean that Yuu Azuma is involved as well."

Satsukawa: "That's what I think, and that's what my teammates think as well. In the first place it's very strange that they didn't go with the rest. It's as if they needed an excuse to remain alone."

Well, I cannot deny that what he says makes sense.

Erika: "Then, in other words, the general consensus is that we need to pressure Hibari and make her talk, because she's most likely the key person that can shed light on this case."

Satsukawa: "Exactly."

Erika: "May I suggest something, Satsukawa-san?"

Satsukawa: "Certainly."

Erika: "I think it'd be probably best to interrogate Hibari and Teramoto separately."

Satsukawa: "Hmmm... I see your point..."

Erika: "I'll make it even clear. The fingerprints on that message do not mean much against a smart person. Like I told you before, it might be that Hibari was simply the intended recipient of Gotsuji's message, which means she might have no relation to the attempted framing of Oda."

Satsukawa: "Do you really think that's the case?"

Erika: "No, but she could use that logic to deny any further involvement, and she might slip through our fingers. Or rather, that's what she could do, if she was smart enough."

Satsukawa: "In other words, there's really no chance she could come up with that plan by herself, but Teramoto might."

Erika: "I don't know her enough, but if what they say about her is true, then that's a realistic possibility."

Satsukawa: "This might surprise you, but you're not the only one who's made that thinking. We know we don't have enough to incriminate Hibari yet, and she might be just a pawn. But we think it's better to make her think that we believe she's the culprit and that we've enough to prove it. That should pressure her to say everything that she knows."

Erika: "For once, I completely agree with the strategy of those guys."

Satsukawa: "And if she's the culprit, that'd probably give her a big scare. She might make a mistake or even confess."

Erika: "Now, is there someone who actually thinks she's the murderer?"

Satsukawa: "Why not? Everything points to her in the end."

Erika: "I'm ready to bet she isn't the one."

Satsukawa: "I'm not taking any side. To me it might be both, I'm open to every possibility."

Erika: "What a cowardly detective..."

Satsukawa: "Uh? What do you mean?!"

Erika: "You should have the guts to make a prediction and bet on it."

Satsukawa: "This isn't a matter of having guts or anything, it doesn't make sense to jump to conclusions."

Erika: "Whatever. So, is this the only reason you're so happy today?"

Satsukawa: "Well, there's the fact that I'm in charge of this interrogation, I've been assigned the duty to handle this matter."

Erika: "Excellent! This means I can handle this interrogation as I see fit! Most wonderful news!"

Satsukawa: "Hmmm, no... Maybe you didn't quite understand what I said. I'm in charge of this..."

Erika: "Officially yes, of course. They couldn't directly appoint me, a civilian, but it's quite obvious that they expected you to grant me free rein on that."

Satsukawa: "That's not true..."

Erika: "Why else would they choose you for this important interrogation? Especially after what happened yesterday..."

I immediately regret mentioning that. Oh, well... too late.

Satsukawa: "You've no idea how much I've been laughed at when I told them... That was an incredibly humiliating experience..."

Erika: "Oh... I can imagine..."

Satsukawa: "But it could've been worse, I thought they'd look at me with scorn and disdain for making such a blunder... Instead they laughed, some even offered words of comfort... In the end they were expecting that something like that would happen... I really felt like an idiot, but in a sense it was a relief..."

Erika: "I guess they really are the same persons I met two years ago."

Satsukawa: "They seem to know you well, and you didn't leave a good impression. What the hell did you do back then?"

Erika: "He... that's a story for another time..."

Satsukawa: "Anyway I won't let that happen again, I've learned my lesson."

Erika: "You aren't angry at me?"

Satsukawa: "At first I was really mad... but then I just realized that this is what you do. It's just like what Nagaoka said, it really was my fault, I should've expected that, I was careless."

I can't believe this guy...

Satsukawa: "We need to go. There are preparations to make."

Erika: "Preparations?"

Satsukawa: "I'll explain on the way there. You're ready to go, right?"

Erika: "Yes, me and Dlanor are ready... but I haven't seen Rokudou yet."

Satsukawa: "I'll leave him a message, he can meet us there."

Erika: "Then there's no problem."

And without further ado, we are once again on our way to the Mitsugi institute.
Something pretty interesting is going to take place there, and I hope there will be many surprises. This day needs to make it up for its boring start.