Chapter Twenty-Seven | Too-late revelations
It was dusk when a bright light managed to perforate through Takama Shinichi's eyelids, causing him to move his arm to shield his eyes from the light in reflex. All of a sudden, the lieutenant realized he wasn't dead for some reason. Sitting up on the stretcher he had been placed on, he tried to reflect on the dream he had just been interrupted from, but realized that it had escaped him. Looking around, he was bewildered by the scene that awaited him:
The light that had awoken Shinichi was from one of two helicopters circling the once-beautiful school grounds, shining a light on the darkening site of a horrific explosion that had nearly sent him and several hundred students to their untimely demise.
The reddening dust-filled sky was befitting of the charred park that still had several small fires being tended to by a few remaining firefighters. At the back of the grey-brown trees and grass were the charred remains of Shiritsu Daitou High School and Daitou Gakuen Attached Middle School. The proud school buildings were reduced to smoldering skeletons of themselves. It felt like something out of a war movie. Takama shook his head, trying to sort out his thoughts, but one kept rising to the surface, again and again: The wish that this was all still a dream.
<Shinichi!> he heard Director Sonoda call out.
Shinichi stood up slowly, testing out his limbs. Discovering that he was, miraculously, without injury aside from a few scrapes and bruises, no doubt from the explosion itself, he walked over to his boss.
<Are you alright?> Sonoda asked him.
<I'm fine, thank you. At least, I'm much better than I thought I would be.>
<Good,> Masamichi said, patting his old friend on the back. <At least one thing has gone right today then.>
<Why am I alive?>
<You were snatched out of midair by Master Tsubasa, who is assisting with our operations here.>
Shrugging off the additional questions this rose, Shinichi asked his second question. <Is anyone hurt?>
<Not many; maybe twenty students suffered minor injuries, as well as a few more TPCD officers. It's a miracle that Yuki spotted the intruder and pulled the fire alarm. A few students got scrapes and the like, but thanks to her…> his voice drifted out, the director not wishing to verbalize the feelings he would have had, had his daughter not spotted the bomber.
<Yuki? What was she doing in the high school? Why was she even out of class?>
<Luck, I guess. She had been visiting the Tohya girl earlier, and was returning to the hospital wing for some reason when she spotted our dear culprit. I haven't really pressed her yet.>
<That's understandable, but who is our culprit? Do we have any leads?>
<Not yet. We were hoping you could help us with that, since you were in charge over here before the whole ordeal. But…this is insanity we're dealing with here. We weren't expecting this level of shit to go down today. We're in the process of scaling back planned disasters for the next few weeks. But back to our potential leads: Yuki's over this way by our temporary base here. I want you to talk to her.>
With that, Masamichi turned and led Shinichi through the wasteland that was now a much bigger crime scene than it had been that morning. Looking around, Takama counted no less than thirty TPCD officers running around, trying to sort out the unplanned chaos that had overtaken the district.
The dust in the air started to catch in the lieutenant's throat as they got closer to the epicenter of the explosion. One of the overhead choppers started to pass overhead as they walked down the still-intact sidewalk, spinning even more dust into the air, sending Takama into a fit of coughing. Waving his arm to keep some of the dust out of his eyes, Masamichi continued through the dusty air towards a large white tent with the initials "T. P. C. D." in huge black letters on the sides.
When they finally entered into the tent, Takama and Sonoda were covered in dust that made them both look ten years older. Not caring about their appearance, the two men moved to the back of the tent, where Yuki sat, covered in a blanket, shivering in the cold that none of the panicked TPCD officers seemed to feel.
Pulling a pair of folding chairs up and setting them up, Lieutenant Takama and Director Sonoda sat down across from Yuki. Going straight into cop-mode, Takama blurted out a quick apology for the ordeal that had occurred, then jumped straight into questions. But before he could get his question out, Yuki asked him the one that he didn't really understand himself.
<Shinichi-san…I'm so glad you're alright…but how did you live from that fall you took?>
<I was really lucky, but that's not the issue here. We really just want to know what you saw.>
<I didn't really see much…just a strangely happy guy leaving the restricted area of the school. He scared me…I was going to the office, but something told me there wasn't a lot of time to act. So I pulled the fire alarm, feeling like something bad was about to happen.>
<I see…and the guy?>
<Nothing really out of the ordinary…he looked handsome, but something odd just struck me about him. He was dressed in a suit, if that helps.>
<A suit…handsome…> Takama muttered, putting the pieces together. <Masamichi! Do you know what happened with the Sony Enforcement guy that I told you about earlier?>
<Actually…no…you don't think…why would they…?> Masamichi said, his thoughts drifting back to the words of Usaka the previous night: <You still have to be punished for moving that Idol to Microsoft. You don't mess with Sony.>
<I don't know, but something smells. I'm going to go talk to Master Tsubasa.>
With that, Shinichi excused himself and walked over across the tent where he had spotted the assassin.
<Hi, I'm Lieutenant Takama with TPCD. First of all…I wanted to thank you for your help earlier.>
<Oh, it is no problem. I try to help when I can.>
<But that raises my second question. Why were you here?>
<My mission. I had tracked my target to the school. However, when I arrived here, the school exploded. I have been helping the TPCD since then.>
<And what, exactly, is your mission?>
<My mission is nothing more and nothing less than the total eradication of True Love.>