Who's the traitor? - Part 3
I called out to Baito-kun who barely escaped from Touka-chan and was breathing heavily. He rushed into the family restaurant which I had designated as our rendezvous point, disguised in a beard and sunglasses.
“Over here, over here. Good work, Baito-kun! Here take some Iced-coffee. Ah, do you even drink iced coffee?”
Baito-kun nodded and sat down with a thump in a seat across me and took a sip of iced coffee. He took a deep breath and relaxed his stiff shoulders as he spoke in a tired voice.
“I’ve done my job properly. I managed to have her take away that weird lighter from me, and scare me into dropping a hint about the mastermind. But what’s with that girl!! She has a cute face but seemed oddly terrifying to me. I’m not sure why.”
“I don’t really get it either. I was just asked by a friend too. He said he was shooting a movie or something, but it’s kind of fishy.”
Baito-kun shivered while I pretended to be innocent and spouted some nonsense. I haven’t told Baito-kun anything about the World’s Darkness, Amaterasu, or the ESP’ers. In the first place I hired him because he was good at acting and keeping his mouth shut.
Although he was a part-timer, I still took care of his safety. Unlike Shouta-kun, Touka-chan believed in ahimsa, so usually she refrains from using excessive violence. Even now she didn’t used her superpowers. Despite that Touka-chan was way stronger than an adult. And Baito-kun took a hit from that Touka-chan and manage to escape unscathed. It seems I chose the right person for Amaterasu.
Now, I didn’t want to talk long and risk being suspected, so I quickly handed over the envelope I’d put in the reward.
It was cash. For an hour, 50,000 yen (~$460). It’s a relatively good amount for a part-time job. It also includes a mouth-shut fee.
Baito-kun counted the 1000 yen bills over and over, while muttering, “If only I could buy a good one.”
I was curious about what he wants buy, so I asked. It’s probably not some illegal drug…
“Um..Yeah.., it’s Mama’s birthday the day after tomorrow, so I was planning to give her an automatic dishwasher as a present. But it’s expensive for me.”
“Ooh, is that so!”
I’m moved by Baito-kun who said that in embarrassment. Isn’t he a good guy? There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Go for it!.
Come to think of it, I haven’t returned home for a while since I quit my previous job. I haven’t even called my parents after that. If I’m free, I’ll show my face next time.
The morning of next day.
After school, Touka-chan rushed to Amanoiwato in a hurry, showed Kaburagi-san the seized PSI drive and told her about last night’s incident. Shouta-kun didn’t came. He returned home and dyed his hair black for the school interview. And Ig-chan was taking a nap (as usual).
“I was wondering if besides Baba-san there were other elves who came to our world and made similar weapons for the bad guys…..but that doesn’t explain why my fire attribute was there on the knife. That’s why I think this PSI drive was stolen .”
“I get where you are coming from. However you see, the vault is locked and the entrance is being watched by the (bar) master, so it would difficult steal something. But if a person had this PSI drive, there’s a high chance that it’s us who somehow lost it.”
Kaburagi-san cautiously agreed with Touka-chan’s statement.
“That’s right. I think it would be better if everyone works together to review our security measures.”
As I listened to the story while grilling the pancakes at the counter, I realised that Baba’s fears were correct. From the way she talked, Touka-chan didn’t even think of there being a traitor. She truly thinks that it was a theft. That’s probably how much she trusts the members of Amaterasu. It’s a bit worrying. Even if everything here is a setup, Baba is still acting out the part of a traitor.
Blindly trusting someone without a doubt, and making a concious choice to trust someone are two entirely different things Touka-chan.
It’s bad that she’s only thinking of countermeasures against theft, but that won’t progress the event.
I’ll take measures against theft -> fails -> Further strengthening the measures -> fails
This will likely lead to an empty loop.
While offering them honey-filled pancakes, I secretely signalled Kaburagi-san. She nodded slightly and went on to end the conversation.
“I understand what you’re saying. But unfortunately I’m going to be busy with business from now on. Could Touka-chan check the weapon storage? A quick inspection would do. Just make sure there’s nothing strange in there.”
Saying that, Kaburagi-san ate the pancakes and left quickly.
Touka-chan finished her share of pancakes and returned the dishes. She then thanked me with a bright smile. My sour face almost crumbled.
Is this child an angel or something?
Oh, lord Buddha. Forgive the sinful me for toying with the heart of this young maiden.
Touka-chan then went on to fiddle with the gimmicky wine bottle which revealed the entrance to the underground secret base. Touka-chan went straight to the storage room to confirm that there were white briefcases lined up on the shelf, and check the engraved serial number to ascertain none were missing.
The PSI drives in the storage room were fully fueled so as to bring it out quickly in case of an emergency. In order to prevent the fuel from degrading, the storage room temperature was set to 0°C. While warming up by cladding herself in flames, Touka-chan went ahead and checked inspected each weapon case.
Certainly, Kaburagi-san asked her to do a quick inspection. However, it was supposed to come across as either overconfidence in their security, or a suspicious attempt to distract Touka-chan from checking inside the briefcases so as to cover up any attempted tampering. Touka-chan, you’re supposed to open the cases. Our traitor (actor) Baba, is not stupid enough to steal the briefcase when she could just take the PSI drives inside.
However, my prayers were in vain. Touka-chan only did a quick inspection and found nothing amiss with briefcases. As she turned back and was about to leave the vault, with no other choice, I used my telekinesis to move a briefcase. That made a faint noise, which normal people would mistake for the hum of the air conditioner.
But not Touka-chan. She clearly heard it. So, she turned around and stared at the storage suspiciously for a while. She then looked around, crawled, and peered under the shelf. Was it a mouse or an insect? She thought.
Touka-chan was puzzled for a while, but she abruptly reached for one of the briefcases. She removed the lock, opened it, and looked inside. She looked away immediately, rubbed her eyes in disbelief and looked at it again.
In place of a PSI drive there was a red fish. Strictly speaking, it was a fish with red paint on it. Thanks to the low temperature it wasn’t rotten and it’s surface was covered with a thin layer of frost.
Touka-chan stared in disbelief for a few seconds but quickly recovered and started opening other briefcases as well.
In the end, she found that, of the 105 PSI drives in briefcases 20 have have been replaced with a red fish. It is difficult to tell just by looking at the briefcase, and even if the briefcase were to be lifted, one will be deceived by the similar weight of the fish. To be sure one has to open it.
With her face all pale, Touka-chan’s tried calling Kaburagi-san on her smartphone, but she suddenly ended the call.
She contemplated for a full minute, and without making any noise, she took a few pictures of the fish on her smartphone. Afterwards, she closed all the briefcases and carefully put them at their original position. Several deep breaths later, she exited the storage while putting up a calm demeanor.
Okay, alright. She seems to have noticed the possibility of this being an inside job.
Upon returning to the bar, Touka-chan quickly prepared to return home. She didn’t even give me a glance.
Of course, I’ll track her with my psychokinesis. (TL: Yup! Nothing’s wrong with a grown-ass man stalk…I mean tracking an underaged girl. Yup! Nothing!)
Once Touka-chan got home, she looked at her smartphone and began to investigate the fish chart that she found on the internet. She seemed to be thinking about verifying the clues left on the scene before searching for the culprit.
…Kaburagi-san’s trap has splendidly caught Touka-chan. If I was not in the know, I’d have probably thought, “Why a fish?” and investigated it. But that IS the trap!!
Touka-chan, who seemed to have decided to not talk about the issue for two days, investigated about the fish, and learned that the fish in question was called Clupea Pallasii commonly known the Pacific herring.
She wondered why the culprit painted it red, and she probably thought that there was some important meaning behind it, so she immediately searched Foogle for “red herring.”
Seeing the search results, Touka-chan slammed the mouse hard on the desk, and yelled.
“Don’t mess with me…! I don’t know who you are, but I’ll show you what I can do!"
The angry Touka-chan finally started looking for the traitor.
- Red herring: Tricks used to avert attention by showing misleading clues or making them misread the truth.
This is the last part of chapter 24. I will release parts of chapter 25 starting next week.
Also, here’s the discord https://discord.gg/Tt3ujyd serevr I just created. Consider joining if you are interested.