Friday, October 19, 2012

Chapter 4 (l)

Kuon: "Ho ho, I'm listening!"

Erika: "What I'm going to expose is just a speculation, a merely hypothetical scenario, so bear with me until the very end, okay?"

Kuon: "If this is what you desire, I'll follow through your story without objecting."

Erika: "Good. So, everyone, listen carefully to my theory."

I wait a few seconds to ensure that I have everyone's attention and to put them into the right mood.

Erika: "I've already mentioned how, due to various circumstances, I believe that Kubota is connected to Teramoto and her group. In addition it isn't a secret that I suspect the latter to be implicated in Gotsuji's murder. So far nothing new. Naturally, we need to assume that Teramoto wasn't in good terms with the victim. The precise motive is unclear to me, but it isn't relevant at this point, we can just assume that there's one, and leave the details for later. However it's very unlikely that Teramoto actually wanted to kill Gotsuji. If that was the case she would've come up with a better plan, at the very least she wouldn't have wanted to leave the corpse in a place directly connected to her. In other words if we start from that assumption that Teramoto is the culprit, then inevitably we need to envision a scenario where the murder wasn't premeditated. I believe that the victim did something that she shouldn't have done, or maybe she witnessed something that she wasn't supposed to see. What matters is that she incurred in Teramoto's anger. I don't think I need to explain what kind of person the latter is, and what kind of position she finds herself in. In order to protect her role, and in order to prevent her schoolmates from disbelieving her lies, she must dissuade them from openly challenging her. Of course, she also needs to safeguard her secrets. At any rate it's very likely that she made use of 'persuasive' actions against those who defied her, I can't really explain otherwise the degree of control that she gained over the students of this school. So in the end we have a plausible motive for her to act against Gotsuji. Naturally I believe the plan was simply to teach her a lesson. Most likely the usual methods failed and that made Teramoto decide to take more drastic measures. But she's a very intelligent an diabolical girl, so I don't think that she'd dirty her own hands. I doubt that she ever punished anyone directly, no, she made her lackeys deal with those cases. Now, for the kind of punishment that I think she envisioned for Gotsuji, she needed a male student. However it's a well known fact that all of her followers are females, and if there's an exception, who that might be? Incidentally, there's one particular guy that quite apparently doesn't seem to care about dirtying his reputation for her sake."

Kuon: "I see... I suppose that would be me. But why do you think she necessarily needed a male student?"

Erika: "Oh? Didn't the newspapers report the state in which Gotsuji's body was found in? It's quite evident that someone tried to undress her."

Kuon: "W-wait... are you... implying that..."

Erika: "How else would you explain that, Kubota? Why else someone would try to remove her clothes? Yes, I'm implying exactly that. So there's no doubt that a boy and only a boy could inflict this particular punishment."

Normal Girl: "No way..."

Kuon: "W-wait... I know you asked me to refrain from objecting, but this is too much! Are you really insinuating that I'd simply agree to such plan?"

Erika: "You? Of course not. Naturally, I imagine that you opposed Teramoto's idea, you're too much of a coward."

Kuon: "W-what that's supposed... to mean?"

Erika: "However, I believe that there's one person that would gladly do that kind of job. Incidentally you've been seen near that very person both before and after the crime. I don't believe in coincidences, Kubota, and you shouldn't have any reason to be around that guy. You know where this leads us, right?"

Kuon: "I'm... not quite sure..."

Erika: "I'm talking about Baba, of course. Basically you and Teramoto reached an impasse. She wanted her plan to be executed, and you didn't want to do it, so you proposed to use Baba instead. He's a notorious pig, he's been known for frequently harassing the girls of this school. If Teramoto gave him permission to... No, if she actually ordered him to..."

Kuon: "Why do you think that I have anything to do with him?!"

Erika: "Like I said, you saved him from Nagaoka, right? Maybe you needed to save him, because he was supposed to do a certain job that day. But it's not just that, you inexplicably decided to bring him with you when you ditched Oda, and for what purpose? Moreover I've seen the two of you together with my own eyes."

Kuon: "But, my dear lady, you should be aware that I merely encountered him by chance and..."

Erika: "What exactly were you doing in that isolated place? And what was he doing there? Am I really supposed to believe that you both just happened to be there at the same time for no reason? Please, don't insult my intelligence. I think it's a lot more plausible that you decided to meet in secrecy to discuss about the recent incident.
But allow me to reconstruct the events of that day according to my theory. Exactly one week ago, Hitomi Gotsuji was deceived into meeting someone near the abandoned shed at 6:00 pm, after club activities. I don't know whom she was supposed to meet and why, but what's relevant is that it was all part of Teramoto's plan, and according to that plan you and Baba were the ones who'd actually show up. The latter had already agreed to that, either under a threat or after some kind of bribe, or both. Note that the abandoned shed was certainly an ideal place where you could 'punish' Gotsuji undisturbed, and only Teramoto and her closest followers could grant you access to it.
Earlier that day, during lunch break, Baba and Oda started yet another fight, and since they were caught red-handed by Nagaoka, there was a serious risk that his inevitable punishment would compromise the plan. Naturally you couldn't let it happen, and that's why you intervened. You didn't really care about Oda, but I suppose he came as a convenient added bonus, since you actually needed someone to work for the student council. That being said, I believe you would've found some helpers anyway, which is why supposing that you saved Baba and Oda simply because you needed them for some paperwork isn't really a satisfying explanation.
Then you all gathered here in this very place, and in order to avoid suspicions from Oda, you convinced Baba to work for a while. I suppose he wasn't too happy about that, but I'm sure you had very convincing arguments on your side. About a hour later, you came up with an excuse, and you left this room taking Baba along with you. Not only Oda can confirm this, but I know for a fact, thanks to a surveillance camera, that both you and Baba left this school at 4:48 pm."

Kuon: "A-ha! Doesn't this prove that neither of us could be possibly involved with the crime, since we weren't inside this school anymore?"

Erika: "That's hardly a proof of anything, Kubota. I've personally checked the fence surrounding the school grounds, and so I know for a fact that anyone could climb over it with little effort. But I think it's really interesting how promptly you tried to use the fact that you had left school as an alibi, because I believe that's exactly why you made sure to appear in front of the surveillance camera. I guess that was an insurance in case Gotsuji decided to denounce your assault."

Kuon: "That's utterly ridiculous! Are you saying that we left school from the main entrance only to return inside afterwards, climbing the fence like petty burglars? Unconceivable!"

Erika: "But then why did you let Baba leave? There isn't really any other plausible explanation. Why would you treat him differently from Oda?"

Kuon: "That's..."

Erika: "I don't quite know why did you leave so early, but I can easily speculate that you both preferred to wait for more than an hour near the shed than doing paperwork with Oda. At any rate the time finally came and the victim showed up, all according to the plan. I can only imagine her surprise when you appeared in front of her in place of whom she was supposed to meet. Now, Gotsuji was quite the active and stubborn girl, and she was an athlete, so, naturally, she wasn't simply going to let you have your way with her. She resisted with all of her strength. This is consistent with the evidences found at the crime scene, it's almost certain that she fought before being killed. Baba must've restrained her, and you probably helped him in bringing her inside the shed. However, as her clothes were torn apart, she must've realized that you were serious. That must've caused her to react even more violently. Maybe she bit Baba's hand, maybe she kicked him in his privates, maybe she insulted him fiercely, or perhaps she spit on his face. I'm not sure what she actually did, but that hardly matters; what's important is that she did something that seriously angered Baba. Blinded by his own rage and lust, he unleashed his unrestrained strength, and before you could stop him, he had already done something that couldn't be repaired.
When you realized what had happened you must've panicked. That wasn't part of the plan and neither you nor him wanted to take the blame. You probably spent the next few minutes yelling and accusing each other, until you realized that you had no choice but to cooperate, if you wanted to avoid going to jail. You must've decided that in the end the real responsible was Teramoto, after all it was her idea. So you removed every traces of your presence there and you left everything else as it was. You knew that given the circumstances the police would most likely investigate Teramoto. You must've thought that even if she decided to accuse you, she wouldn't have had anything to back her claims. To further ensure that the blame would only fall on her and her lackeys, you left a message inside Hibari's locker, so that she'd be the one to find the corpse and alerting the authorities.
Ah, I forgot to mention that Hibari was most likely not aware of Teramoto's plan. It's easy to imagine that she would've strongly opposed it. Gotsuji was the ace of the female basket club, and Hibari had great hopes for her. She definitely wouldn't want anything to happen to her precious team member. Teramoto was most likely aware of that, and she must've decided to keep the whole operation a secret from her. So, you probably decided to take advantage of that. Hibari was someone that was at the same time pretty close to Teramoto and completely unaware of what was going on. You must've thought that she would've given the alarm without thinking about the implications. You were right in thinking that she was stupid enough to do that, but you underestimated her stupidity."

Kuon: "I see... so this is your theory..."

Erika: "Exactly, what do you think? I believe it's pretty sound and solid."

Satsukawa: "There are... indeed a lot of things that match perfectly... This sounds awfully too plausible to be just a mere conjecture..."

Normal Girl: "But this can't be the truth! Kubota could never accept such a plan, not even as an accomplice! And that also goes for Teramoto! I don't know what kind of idea you have of her, but I refuse to think that she devised something that cruel and perverted!"

Nothing on Baba? I guess in his case she can't say that my theory is totally implausible.

Erika: "It's only natural that you refuse to believe that your friend is a criminal, but how much do you know about him? Are you absolutely positive that he never hid anything from you?"

Normal Girl: "I..."

Kuon: "Ha ha ha ha! Don't worry, my friends, there's no need for you to be swayed by those obvious lies. My dear lady! As I promised, I listened to your theory to the very end. How-ever! Now comes my turn!"

Erika: "Indeed. By the way this is my next move: pawn to d3!"

Kuon: "Ha! Ah ha ha ha ha! It appears that your chess skills are as lame as your theories, my dear lady!"

Erika: "What? I hope you aren't just talking big, Kubota! We're playing this game so that you can demonstrate that you actually possess some talent. Haven't you made me wait long enough already? Now it's you chance, show me what you've got!"

Kuon: "Your wish shall be granted very soon! Look and learn! Knight to d4!"

This is bad!
It only took me a fraction of a second to realize what this move means, and it is really not good for me. What a nice surprise, so at the very least he really knows how to play chess.

Kuon: "Now, let me enumerate the many flaws in your theory! First: what exactly do I have to gain by associating myself with Teramoto? You skillfully avoided the subject, but I think it's a pretty important point. As long as you can't provide a plausible reason, nothing of what you said can make any sense!"

Erika: "Tch! She's a pretty scary girl, she probably blackmailed you. I think she can easily destroy the reputation of someone in your position."

Kuon: "Ha! And how she'd do that? I'm absolutely flawless!"

Erika: "Like hell you are! Besides she can easily make up lies! That's what she does all the time!"

Kuon: "That's all very interesting, but what proof do you have? She could've blackmailed anyone in the same way, why me of all the people?"

That knight in that position is a real bother. It is too far in my territory and it is threatening my pawn at c2. If I don't keep it protected, Kubota will fork my king and my rook.

Kuon: "Secondly: how exactly the fact that Gotsuji was killed with a sword fits in your reconstruction? How come you completely avoided to mention that? Certainly you aren't telling me that Baba, blinded by rage, had the lucidity to take that wakizashi, unsheathe it, and then using it to stab the poor girl! You claimed that it was a non premeditated murder, but due to these circumstances that's hardly believable!"

Erika: "Tch..."

Certainly a wakizashi isn't a weapon that can be used without thinking, but a hammer is a completely different story. The victim was hit with a hammer first, so my scenario isn't implausible at all. The sword was likely used later as a way to make it look like a ritualistic sacrifice, in accordance to my theory that the murderer wanted all suspicions to fall on Teramoto. However this is a fact that is only known by the murderer, the investigators and Takamiya. If my theory was true, then Kubota would also know, but he acts as if he is totally unaware of that.

Kuon: "Thirdly: you said that we decided to place a message inside Hibari's locker, but wasn't it established that it was indeed written by the victim? Where do you think we found that? According to your theory, that wasn't planned at all! How could we get something like that in such a short notice?"

I guess I could say that it was simply coincidentally in their pockets or in Gotsuji's pockets. It wouldn't really be a convincing argument though...
Anyway It is quite evident what Kubota is planning. My knight on f3 is under a twofold attack and I cannot defend it any more than this. No matter what move I will do next, he will take it with his own knight, checking my king. At that point I will have no choice but to even the score with my pawn at g2. This will completely disrupt my formation on the king's side. Not a big disadvantage but in the long run it might cost me the game.

Kuon: "I'm not done yet! You said that I met Baba two days ago to talk about the crime that we supposedly committed. But why would he bring a bag of doujinshi there to such meeting? How does that make sense? In the end my version of the story is a lot more plausible! I was talking with him precisely because of that bag, since it was a blatant violation of the rules!"

I will be damned if I can let him do as he pleases. I won't give him this satisfaction. He thinks I cannot possibly prevent him from taking my knight? He thinks I cannot possibly prevent him from executing his plan? Well, I won't let him!

Kuon: "You really shouldn't have made that move, my dear lady! Cutting off your own bishop from the retreat route was an amateurish blunder. Ha ha ha ha!"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chapter 4 (k)

Kuon: "I'm ready whenever you are, my dear lady. It is your privilege as the commander of the white pieces to make the first move. Whatever will be your choice for the start of this eventful match?"

Erika: "Let's see, how about a classic opening? I move the king's pawn to e4."

Kuon: "Splendid! I see that you indeed know the basic of this game, I'm relieved."

Erika: "It isn't really a big deal, even beginners know that this is one of the most solid first moves for white. Don't you agree?"

Kuon: "It most certainly is, but precisely because of that it lacks originality. Personally when I play as white I prefer to advance the queen's pawn first."

Erika: "I see, that's certainly an interesting alternative."

If he really does that, he must be the kind of player that doesn't prioritize castling. That isn't exactly wrong in itself, but it is a weak point that can be mercilessly exploited, if the opponent doesn't take great care.

Erika: "How will you answer to this first move of mine, Kubota? Oh, forgive me, I didn't mean to pressure you. This is just a friendly game, we aren't playing against time or anything."

Kuon: "Do not worry, my dear lady, I don't even need to think for something like this. When white plays e4, I always counterattack in the same way. Pawn to e5! As they say, you need to fight fire with fire, and so this is the most logical step to take: a symmetrical game!"

Erika: "Wonderful, so now our pawns are butting their heads against each other. I like your play style, you don't shy from direct confrontations."

Kuon: "Why postponing the inevitable? My war philosophy is to always attack in full force without any hesitations."

Erika: "Isn't that a bit reckless?"

Kuon: "Reckless is just a disparaging adjective made up by cowards that don't want to take any risks. I prefer to define my tactics as daring."

Erika: "I see."

Kuon: "Don't you agree that in order to accomplish great deeds one must take great risks?"

Erika: "Honestly? No... not at all."

Kuon: "How surprising, I could swear that you were a very daring person."

Erika: "That's most certainly the impression that I give. It's no wonder, after all I often take steps that normal people consider leaps of faith."

Kuon: "And it isn't so?"

Erika: "It might look like I'm gambling and relying on luck because no one thinks that I can foresee certain outcomes, but in truth every single risk that I take is a calculated risk. With my logic alone I can predict even what everyone else considers unpredictable."

Kuon: "That's certainly an exceptional talent, but are you confident that you'll be able to use it on me?!"

Erika: "Who knows? It'll be interesting to see if I can or not. *giggle* *giggle*"

Kuon: "Chess is indeed a game where predicting your opponent's moves is everything! I see, even if you're an amateur, you might still prove to be a worthy challenger! I won't underestimate you!"

Erika: "You should've had this determination to begin with! Please, fight with everything you've got!"

Kuon: "I intend to do exactly that, my dear lady!"

I doubt you really will, you self-conceited twerp! But it will be extremely delightful to remind you that I had warned you.

Kuon: "It's your turn again. Let me see your second move."

Erika: "Hmmm... I'll let you know my choice in a moment. Before that, do you mind if I ask you a question?"

Kuon: "Shouldn't we concentrate on the game instead? I believe that your questions can wait a few minutes, I promise I'll achieve a swift victory!"

Erika: "Don't tell me that you can lose your focus so easily. We're just going to leisurely chat while we play a game. I don't see any problem with that."

Kuon: "I see... your desire to know me better cannot wait, that's understandable... Very well, I shall satisfy your curiosity."

Erika: "Good! Like I stated before, I think there's something fishy about you."

Kuon: "And I've already told you that I've got no clue as to why you believe so."

Erika: "Which is why I want to ask: how exactly are you involved with Teramoto?"

Kuon: "I have no particular ties with her apart from the usual connection that is to be expected from a club president and the head of the student council."

Erika: "I imagined you'd say so. But there's something that I can't quite understand."

Kuon: "How can I help you in reaching enlightenment?"

Erika: "Around two years ago Teramoto formally requested to be given permission to use the abandoned shed for her club activities. This is what she claimed herself."

Kuon: "That's correct."

Erika: "However you didn't complete the required procedures, so this permission was never made official and the school committee was never informed."

Kuon: "Alas, I decided to procrastinate my duties, and before I knew it, I had completely forgotten about them."

Erika: "This is consistent with what Teramoto said, but I think this isn't quite the truth."

Kuon: "What makes you think that I'm lying, my dear lady?"

Erika: "Well... the point is that I've been informed that after that you received similar requests from other clubs. In other words they also asked permission to use the abandoned shed, but you refused them. How is it possible that you didn't remember? Certainly you've been always aware that Teramoto had already occupied that place. Why didn't you simply tell them the truth? Why all the secrecy? Let me get straight to the point; I don't buy the story that Teramoto did everything by the book, and that you're the only one to blame. Rather, I think that there was and there still is an agreement between the two of you. In other words you're accomplices. There never was a formal request, you both planned to keep a veil of secrecy over the whole matter since the beginning."

I take one of my pieces from the board and move it to its new position.

Erika: "Knight to f3. It's your turn, Kubota."

He watches me with a serious and confused look for a while. Then he smirks briefly and bursts into a laughter.

Kuon: "Ah ha ha ha ha! You certainly are an entertaining opponent, my dear lady! This is only your second move, and you're already attacking my only unprotected piece! How-ever! Attacking in chess isn't hard at all! What's really difficult is to attack in a way that cannot be countered! I'm afraid that you won't really go far, if this is all that you can do!"

Erika: "Aren't you getting a little ahead of yourself? The game has just started."

Kuon: "True enough, and I must say that it promises to be extremely exciting! Then first and foremost let me clarify your doubts! I had indeed forgotten about the whole shed issue, there's absolutely no contradiction in what I testified! It was only by a mere coincidence that I denied the requests of those other clubs, the reason is what I've already explained to Satsukawa-dono; I didn't want to fill all the required modules! Plainly speaking, it would've been just a bother!"

Erika: "Quite convenient! Then why did you accept when Teramoto asked?"

Kuon: "I probably did so without paying it any attention, which explains why I forgot about it! But I think I somehow subconsciously remembered that I didn't want to fill the related modules. The human mind sure is a mysterious thing!"

Erika: "Then when exactly did you remember the rest?"

Kuon: "It all came back to me when I was told the sad news. When I heard that many occult symbols and tools were found there, I immediately thought of Teramoto and her club, and I connected the dots. That's when I remembered that she asked for my permission in the past."

Erika: "Then all of this time you were completely clueless of what was going on there?"

Kuon: "Sadly, that's how it is."

Erika: "What about these girls? Didn't they know all along?"

Normal Girl: "Huh? Oh... well... of course I've been there too... he he..."

Glamorous Girl: "I wasn't in the student council back then, and I never talked about it ever again."

Kuon: "As you can see, my dear lady, even if they knew, that subject never came up in our discussions. Are you satisfied?"

Sunglasses Guy: "Well done, Boss!"

Bleached Guy: "This is getting pretty fun, I'm fired up!"

Erika: "..."

Kuon: "Then allow me to show you my counter! If you attack my pawn with your knight, then I'll simply defend it with my own! Knight to c6!"

Erika: "Not bad, but this is merely the beginning."

Kuon: "Of course, but in the end the handsome guy always wins!"

Erika: "I'm still not fully convinced that you aren't Teramoto's accomplice."

Kuon: "Accomplice in what exactly, I wonder? Are you suggesting that I was given a role in her secret agenda? Ridiculous!"

Erika: "Then answer this simple question. Why would Teramoto accept to cover your mistake if there really wasn't any tie between the two of you? That's pretty hard to believe, especially considering what had just happened. Moreover it isn't just Teramoto, all the occultism club members initially denied any involvement with that place. Are you seriously saying that they did it just for you? Knight to c3."

Kuon: "Hmmm... I didn't expect this move. I was almost certain that you were aiming for a Ruy-Lopez, or perhaps an Italian game. Instead you opted for a less aggressive Three Knights game, I'm a bit disappointed."

Erika: "Who said that I would always attack with full force?"

Kuon: "Ah, certainly there's nothing wrong with a more tactical approach, but, if you ask me, I think this last move of yours is a bit weak."

Erika: "You think so?"

Kuon: "Indeed. As for the reason the occultism club members decided to accept my humble request, there's a simple and obvious explanation."

Erika: "Obvious? The only thing that's obvious is that you're lying, Kubota!"

Kuon: "Not at all! You see, it's actually only natural that they couldn't say no to me."

Erika: "Huh?"

Kuon: "After all... I'm the handsome, intelligent and charismatic president of this fine institution! How could they refuse to support their benevolent leader? This is simply unthinkable! Shame on you for even asking!"

Normal Girl: "Ah ha ha ha ha!"

Sunglasses Guy: "Whooooa! Way to go, Boss!"

Erika: "You can't be... serious..."

Satsukawa: "This guy is unbelievable..."

Kuon: "As you can see my position is rock-solid! Pawn to d6!"

Erika: "Tch... so you choose to play dumb..."

Kuon: "Play dumb? Ridiculous! I've no idea what you're talking about!"

Erika: "Right... exactly... Very well then, let's change subject."

Kuon: "Giving up already? I see, you must've realized that it's pointless to throw false accusations at me."

Erika: "I still don't quite understand why did you decide to help Baba and Oda on the very day of the crime. Somehow I feel there's a connection, and I think that you specifically wanted to 'save' Baba."

Kuon: "Baba? Why would I have a particular reason to care about him?"

Erika: "Oh, I'll get to my point pretty soon. Meanwhile you can try and explain again what made you go so far to prevent Nagaoka from punishing him. And while you're at it, think about how to counter my move: bishop to c4."

Kuon: "A-ha! So you decided to move your bishop there in the end, but it's too late! At any rate I believe I've already explained that I was guided by my chivalrous spirit! Wherever there's a fellow classmate in trouble, I have the duty to offer my help!"

Erika: "In other words Teramoto and her clique helped you just out of respect and admiration, and you helped Oda and Baba out of pure altruism. What kind of world do you think we live in, Kubota? Aren't you pushing this fairy tale a little too far?"

Kuon: "It profoundly saddens me that your cynicism prevents you from accepting the plausibility of my words. Humans are a lot more good natured and willing to help each others than you may think. All for one, one for all! That's my motto!"

Erika: "I guess you really won't yield ground on this point, but do you really understand that you're threading in dangerous waters?"

Kuon: "Honestly, no. I've absolutely nothing to fear as my conscience is clean. Surely your suspicions are the fruit of a misunderstanding, and I'm confident that all of your misgivings will be quenched in the end. So, I think I'll answer your unconventional move with something equally unconventional. Bishop to g4."

Erika: "So this is your answer, it looks like you're trying hard to reduce my options. Then I guess it's time to show my hand, I'll tell you what I'm thinking."