The old tailless #13

On the art of deduction, the famous British author Arthur Conan Doyle once wrote in his masterpiece Sherlock Holmes: When all the impossible have been eliminated, whatever remained, however improbable, must be the truth. The reality, however, was never so black and white.

Seeing how his pursuers were not pulling up to him and asking him questions about the katana in his hand, the boss surmised these people were no cops. Unless he was dealing with car theft, which was highly improbable but still possible, they could not have been students either. His deduction gave the most likely conclusion that he was being tailed by the traitors in the syndicate.

More importantly, there was a student on his side and this mysterious student he did not remember meeting offered to lend him a helping hand. The boss could tell right away this boy was genuinely a student by the sole fact that the boy called him by his teacher’s pseudonym “Mr. Shinoda” instead of his gangster’s title “the boss”.

What interested him the most, then, was the student’s affiliation to the three Jjangs. He could be looking at a rebel faction within Daisuke’s gang, an independent second in command in Sayaka’s gang, or a member of the third gang. This was where his deduction broke down; there was simply not enough evidence to narrow down a single answer.

At least, he could tell the odds were good that accepting the student’s help would lead to a more favorable outcome. Thus, he did.

The student nodded in acknowledgment, “We’ll create a diversion in two minutes. Please try to lose them,” he said before his pace hastened and he broke away from the boss. As more and more students diverted from the path the boss was on, the car behind him crept closer and closer.

One minute before the diversion, a female student ran up to him, bumped into his shoulder and quickly bowed her head repeatedly to apologize.

“One minute till the designated time, please start running after twenty seconds,” the girl left him a message and ran to the nearest left turn.

This all had been quite unusual. Even more so when just twenty seconds later, a biker peddled up his left side and delivered another signal without so much as slowing down:

“Run now!”

The boss followed the instruction and sprinted ahead for another fifty meters or so before reaching an intersection. The pedestrian light turned green in front of him and he made it to the other side without a hitch. But, as soon as the suspicious car tried to cross the intersection, a truck crashed into the side of the car and both vehicles came to a screeching halt in the middle of the crossroad.

Hearing the crash, the boss turned around to find a smoking wreck behind him. Unlike the untrained passersby around him, he was not at all distracted by the spectacle. His experiences let him remain calm and rational. His action plan for out of control events kicked in. When a disaster happened, the first thing one must do was evaluating the severity and if deemed fatally severe, one must quickly look for possible causes and get the hell away from the dangers.

He made a brief evaluation of the crash. Traffics at the intersection had ground to a halt. The two passengers inside the wreckage were still alive thanks to the airbags and they already started to crawl out onto the asphalt. The truck driver appeared to be alright as well. Some passersby were pulling the driver out from the cockpit. The disaster was no doubt severe.

Right away, his eyes searched for the cause and almost immediately, he found what had gone wrong: the traffic lights. All four of them had been green for fewer than five seconds after the crash before, deceptively returned to the regular cycle.

“Mr. Shinoda, come quickly! The bus is here!”

A male voice tugged him from straight ahead. There, at a bus stop about fifty meters from the intersection, he spotted the male student from before among a group of six students wearing Fukuoka High uniform. The bus showed up with impeccable timing just about fifteen seconds later and the boss boarded to the bus with these students.

The leader of this squad, the male student called Mori, called someone on his cellphone:

“It’s Mori. Status report: we have secured the objective but there’s a complication. Akiyama pressed the wrong button and we have a bloody car crash here! Please send in a cleanup crew. No, ma’am, we have confirmed that there’s no casualty. Copy that! En route to extraction point Ro, ETA thirty minutes…”

The boss could not help but chuckle. These kids were really enjoying this action movie’s speak. Considering the drastic difference in organization and combat style, it was safe to conclude these kittens belonged to the third gang under a Jjang whose identity remained shrouded in a veil of secrecy. But, from the few tidbits he had gathered so far, there must be a classroom full of middle managers between the third Jjang and his lowest underling.

In retrospect, Sayaka was not fooling around when she said the boss would never face the third Jjang in the open.

Even knowing it was futile, the boss just had to give it a try anyway.

“So, are you taking me to your leader now?” he asked the students.

“Our leader does not wish to meet you today, Mr. Shinoda,” the squad leader answered.

“No hesitation at all. Just the way I like it!”

“But he does have a message for you. He wants you to know that we’ll cooperate with you in your reform or whatever; on the condition that you will not cause harm to any of our members.”

Well, that was unexpected. He could not believe they would offer him a truce right off the bat. Seeing how this gang operated, he surmised they must have known he had beaten up Daisuke’s gang and had been on friendly terms with Sayaka’s gang. They must have realized he would be coming for them next and they wanted the carrot, not the stick.

That was fine with him too. He had the leverage in this negotiation; it was the perfect time to make some demands:

“Tell him to bring all the students to school tomorrow. Tell him that they don’t have to learn if they don’t want to but they need to show up! Their absence is making all the teachers paranoid and that shall not fly.”

The squad leader nodded and simply added:

“I’ll relay the message this time. But, in the future, if you need to send a message to our leader, just talk to the student council president and he’ll relay the message for you.”

“What is his name?”

“Heihachiro Hanbei, he is a student in class 10-1 and you can also find him in the student council office after school.”

The bus pulled over at the railway station. The boss and all six students got off the bus. These students bought tickets to the eastern Minami ward and were set to depart in four minutes. The boss’s apartment, on the other hand, resided in the western Nishi ward and his train was set to depart in twelve.

“Stay safe and have a nice evening, Mr. Shinoda. We’ll take our leave now.”

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