“Just so you know, this isn’t the first time I’ve sneaked in here.”
Agatsuma was speechless.
Apparently, this white masked figure who could cause strange phenomena to happen had somehow been sneaking into his residence undetected.
The mask did possess technology he was unfamiliar with, so he assumed he must be telling the truth.
“Also, I don’t have any other motives in gathering information about your parents. I just don’t want you thinking you can use rely on your parents to get rid of these information.”
“…And now that the entire Agatsuma Family is within the palm of your hands, what exactly is it that you want?”
The white masked figure was going about it in a roundabout way, but gathering all these dirt on them and bringing it right before him was clearly a threat.
“It’s good that you’re so understanding. Saves me time.
First, allow me to introduce myself. I’m none other than that ‘existence’ that brought Shinichi Nakamura back to this world.”
“You!? Wait, how do you know so much!?”
“Doesn’t matter. I have two requests. First, you must stop treating him as my colluder.”
The white masked figure placed the remnants of the spy cameras and listening bugs on the table.
“The Nature Reserve might be a dangerous place, but it’s convenient for lawless people such as myself. I was surprised to happen upon him by chance, but I let him go home out of the kindness of my heart. A pity about the time lag, however. Which is why if you were merely monitoring or investigating him, I would never have made a move.”
Agatsuma couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He just had those things installed, and yet they’d already been taken out and were now being used as another chip against him?
If these things were to be revealed, people would surely be able to find out that they came from the countermeasure office. And the repercussions of that would surely reach him as the man who ordered them to be installed.
“If you add these toys to the list of scandals of the Agatsuma Family, the press will jump in like a pack of hungry dogs and news of it will surely be on every screen”
In the worst case scenario, not only would society ignore their opinion, they would even be thrown into jail. And yet all they had to do to avoid that was to leave a young boy alone.
“…That’s not a difficult request, but why do you care about that child so much? I don’t know what crime you’ve committed, but is that boy worth you showing yourself before me?”
With all this dirt on him gathered, Agatsuma obviously didn’t have the option to disobey. Still… The fact that this white masked figure didn’t even fear meeting him face to face, who was an administrator of investigations of the countermeasure office, made him feel that there was ‘something’ to this figure that was beyond his imagination.
“Heh, so a rotten cop is still a cop, huh? I can’t believe you have the nerve to ask that in this situation.
Not that I mind answering though, since it would just make things more complicated if you were to start thinking weird things.
As mentioned before, there are two things I want from you. One is what I just said, and the other, my real goal, is for you to legally take down the organization going after the boy.”
“An organization is going after him?”
“More specifically, it would be troubling if he were to stand out and get attention.
I don’t care if it’s the countermeasure office or some underground organization, but this is my turf (island) they’re crossing.”
The mask was saying that he found those aiming or just observing for Nakamura Shinichi to be a problem.
Agatsuma’s eyes showed that he had no idea what the mask was talking about.
When the masked figure saw that, he seemed to shrug his shoulders and continued.
“Unfortunately, your information management is still too crude.
Word of an All D rank having returned with a 6 year time lag has already leaked. Namely, to the underworld.”
“What did you say!? …That’s bad.”
To Agatsuma that was a bad news that he couldn’t ignore.
When the knowledge, common sense, and technology of the otherworld, Garesto, spread to Earth, the people living in the underworld also had to adapt. If not, they would either be dealt with by the various peace-keeping organizations, including the countermeasures office, or be devoured by their own kind.
The acquisition of secret information and technology is literally a matter of life and death for these people, and it could be seen as a rather bloody scramble.
“So what you’re saying is that the people targeting Nakamura Shinichi, including us, are obstacles you’d like to remove, but you don’t want to show yourself openly, so you want the countermeasures office to crush them legally instead?”
“Precisely. As expected, you’re brilliant when calm.
I hope it’s not too late to take back my earlier remarks?”
Although the masked figure was still acting like he was above him, Agatsuma would never turn down any praise.
It’s only a pity that he wasn’t brilliant enough to realize that the masked figure was merely flattering him.
“Hmph! But of course. Still, there are actually people going after that child?”
“Is it so strange?
An impossible time lag.
Anyone would be curious, and there are many scholars who would want to investigate if not for ethics and legal issues.”
Because of the announcement of the existence of the otherworld, there are scholars who’ve lost their jobs or whose research has lost meaning.
And there are also a lot of people in Garesto who want to solve the mystery of why there’s so many dimensional drifts.”
The revelation of Garesto’s advance technology had inadvertently turned some ongoing researches at the time meaningless. On top of that, there are also those who failed to understand the advancement brought by Garesto and were labeled as useless.
It wouldn’t be strange if such people were to turn against the law and engage in illegal research in order to get back at the people who spurned them.
“Not to mention, the person himself is no more than a D Rank and the circumstances surrounding his family makes everything too easy. They could easily kidnap the boy and leave behind a letter to make it look like he just ran away from home.”
A ‘D Rank’ meant that the boy couldn’t defend himself. His family circumstances made it easy to accept him running away from home. All they needed to do was write ‘the boy couldn’t fit in with his new family’ and many people would immediately accept it. Low risk with a high possibility of uncovering an important piece of the puzzle. Snakes are bound to come out.
“Just today there were 15 people following him.
Of those 15, 6 were moving differently. Their leader was clearly different.
You can confirm it with the remaining 9. Someone among them should’ve noticed that there were other shadows other than them.”
“…You even know the number of people following the boy.
I suppose I should be happy that you don’t move simply due to cheap justice.”
Agatsuma heaved a sigh of relief that his neck was still attached. If this mask truly made a move, then everything he has built up until now would surely vanish into smoke.
The mask’s ability to gather information and sneak about was not at a level he should be making enemies with.
“This is the information I dug up on them.
Use it well. If it’s you, I’m sure it’ll be more than enough for you to corner them.
If you can’t deal with them legally, let me know. I’ll deal with them then.”
“And if I do this, you’ll keep quiet about my own wrongdoings?”
Agatsuma looked over the file he had been handed as he confirmed his deal with the mask.
The information presented on the file still needed to be double-checked, but it contained more than enough information for him to unmask the illegal organization.
“But of course. Just don’t forget about the boy.
I might be a criminal, but I’m not a bad guy.
I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if the child I saved ended even worse off than before.”
“…Oh, I’m not so sure about that considering how you’ve been teasing, scaring, and threatening this poor man all this time.”
Agatsuma clicked his tongue when he thought back to how he acted when this masked figure was showing off his power.
It’s true that that demonstration ensured that they would be able to converse, but the feeling of dancing on someone’s palm the entire time didn’t sit well with him.
“Don’t make that face. From now on we’ll be benefiting from each other.
You’ll get back your dirt from a mysterious masked figure, and while it won’t help you get ahead in life, you will be able to make your existence known within the countermeasure office.
As for me, I”ll be able to rest safely, knowing that no one’s trying to hurt the boy I saved.”
A good deal, no? The masked figure bragged as he laughed.
Agatsuma made a painful expression, but he knew there was no other way for him, so he made the deal with the mask.
“Fine. But you must allow me to monitor and protect the boy to some extent. It’s an order from the government. The most I can do with my authority is to reduce the number of people assigned.”
“Oh, dear. Politicians? Quite the annoying bunch to take home.
Well, what’s done is done. I’ll permit it.”
With that, the deal was sealed. And as the masked figure stood up and turned around – or at least that what it seemed – a question popped up in Agatsuma’s head.
Perhaps it was because he was a cop or perhaps it was simply due to curiosity, but he asked the figure, “…If they’re so troublesome, why don’t you just kidnap them or get rid of them?”
“Heh. You sure say some scary things, Mr. Administrator.”
The masked figure laughed a laugh that seemed to send a cold chill up Agatsuma’s back as it turned around to glance sharply at Agatsuma.
That glance was so sharp that Agatsuma immediately regretted asking the question.
“Like I said. I’m a criminal, not a bad guy. And even criminals have their own sense of aesthetics.
I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of run-ins with such criminals, no?
In my case, I hate people who involve children and murderers.”
Understand? The mask said in a manner that seemed to be admonishing a child as it vanished from before Agatsuma.
It was a first for Agatsuma to receive such a heavy glance, so when with it vanished, he immediately collapsed.
His shoulders heaved up and down as he caught his breath, then he lied down on the floor of his living room.
“What… a load of… bull… I thought… I was… done for…”
Agatsuma’s limbs were all shaking out of fear. But this fear was completely unlike that time he felt when he was experiencing the horror show.
Agatsuma held down his limbs and curled up to try and stop the shaking. He’d completely forgotten that he was naked.
Shinichi returned to the Nakamura residence without making a sound and took off his mask.
When ‘she’ felt his presence, she opened her eyes and greeted him, jumping up his shoulders to cuddle up to his cheeks.
“How was it?”
“Seems to have gone well.
All that’s left now is whether that guy obeys or not. Well, we’ll find out soon.
Still, I do have to wonder why it’s only when I pull out these terrible plays that I can talk well.”
They spoke in hushed voices to not wake the others. They spoke in the Falandia tongue to ensure that others wouldn’t be able to understand.
As the boy talked, he sat down on the bed, exhausted, and laid Youko beside himself.
“I can talk just fine when pulling that stunt, but when in front of Rinko-san or other people, I get all nervous.”
“It’s because you barely got into contact with other people in Falandia.
We’ll be staying here from now on, so please do your best a little more.”
“…I’m… considering it…”
Such a weak will greatly perplexed Youko.
The things Shinichi said to Agatsuma were a mix of truth and lies since it would be a bad move for him to simply threaten him and tell him to stop getting involved with his family.
Doing that could possibly cause Agatsuma to only become more curious.
Giving Agatsuma an objective that’s easier for him to understand is a much better move. And besides, it is true that information about him has leaked and people are indeed aiming for him.
Shinichi never trusted anyone from the countermeasures office other than Rinko and Co.
Not because he noticed anything suspicious, but because he simply didn’t trust an organization that he didn’t know.
That’s why he used masquerade’s ability to eavesdrop on conversations.
From that moment on, he’s been gathering material to threaten others with in case something like this occurred.
Fortunately, he had a partner that could serve as his body double and he also had his magic.
It was much easier to peek and sneak about in this world than in Falandia.
Although the case this time did have a lot of luck involved.
Particularly lucky was that this event wasn’t recorded in the inexperienced Garesto-made system due to not expecting that it would need to do so this early on.
“Still, I was surprised when I first heard it.
I thought for sure you’d break him so throughly, mentally and physically, that he would never again be able to stand up,” she said.
When she heard the information on Agatsuma, she knew that he was the type her master hated the most.
He was the kind of person who would never be happy unless he was the best and was also very childish.
He also liked to hide his failures and push them onto weaker people. He even forcefully conducted investigations.
Although he was talented as an investigation commanding officer, he was neither talented nor magnanimous when it came to dealing with his subordinates.
She knew that Shinichi had a heavy hand against such evil people, so the way he dealt with things today was really lenient.
“It’s true I wanted to be harsher.
It’s best to give a painful blow to people investigating me and threaten them to the point that they’re unable to move.”
Agatsuma talked about cheap justice, but there were indeed times when Shinichi made a move because of it.
It just so happens that Shinichi wasn’t quick tempered enough to think that he could settle everything just by beating up the bad guys.
If beating up the bad guys just made things worse, then Shinichi would taken another approach.
Today’s case is one such example wherein removing Agatsuma wouldn’t solve the problem, as doing so would most like just change the people investigating him.
Even if Agatsuma’s successor was a good person, he would still probably try to investigate the time gap in Shinichi’s case along with the other peculiarities.
Rinko’s reports that were borderline fake might also be seen as a problem.
It was also possible that the successor would be someone even worse than Agatsuma.
It was also possible that the successor would be a lazy bum who didn’t want to do his work, but that would be a gamble.
Hence, it was much better to keep the guy Shinichi had dirt on in position.
The plan Shinichi enacted was enacted because the situation required him to use a horror show to try and use Agatsuma, but it was also done out of vengeance toward the man who crossed the line he shouldn’t.
Shinichi made sure to get a recording of Agatsuma’s sorry appearance with an old camera.
If anything were to go wrong in the future, Shinichi would have more in store to threaten him with.
But he still intended to rat out the guy to the public if he’s able to ensure the safety of his family in the future.
“Sigh… it sure is tough having something you need to keep on protecting.
I knew it would be, but it’s my first time experiencing it.”
He didn’t have any family or position or home to protect in Falandia.
That’s why he just did as he pleased and got used to that way of life.
He did have some acquaintances, but they were all strong and had a good position, so they could all defend themselves.
So, Shinichi never had anyone that he needed to save.
Although it could also be said that unless it was those sort of people who were strong enough they would be too scared to be friends with Shinichi.
But this world was different.
His dad was just your average salary man with no power to protect himself from crooks. A normal person.
Rinko could defend herself, but she was a member of the countermeasures office. There was no telling how much she could resist if her family were to be taken as hostage.
And Shinji was a baby who couldn’t even talk.
Fortunately or unfortunately, he parted on bad terms with his blood-related family, as that meant they wouldn’t be a target. Although it’s also possible that the people involved simply haven’t established the connection between them and Shinichi.
“Still, it sure is becoming more and more difficult to say that I ended up in another otherworld.”
“Just thinking about what could happen were others to find out gives me the chills.”
Right now everyone thinks Shinichi is a weak D Ranker.
Which is why the scheming snakes haven’t laid a finger on his family.
Of course, it would be dangerous to touch a family of a member of the countermeasures office, but the real deterrent is because an All D was simply too weak.
But should another ‘unknown’ factor be added to the equation, the Garesto government, the Earth government, and the underworld organizations might just stop caring about appearances altogether and do everything in their power to try and grab Shinichi. Should that happen there’s no telling what’ll happen to Shinichi’s family.
“I need to hide it and destroy the organizations I have info on.”
“…Will you be starting as soon as tomorrow?”
“Yeah. As planned, we’ll lure them out in the afternoon, then we’ll wipe them out in the night.”
But only in the case where they are unable to destroy them legally.
“…I don’t mind, but…”
When they spoke about their plans again, Youko was about to say something, but hesitated. Shinichi urged her on with a glance, and she finally said it out loud.
“Isn’t this… Exactly what we did back in Falandia?’
Make plans to crush the bad guys, threaten someone, make oneself the decoy.
It was exactly as she said. This was exactly something that Shinichi did a lot in the past.
If there was anything different, it was that Shinichi himself was the target this time.
“…Don’t say it…’
Shinichi couldn’t refute her words, so he just dropped his shoulders dejectedly.
One week later. Agatsuma managed to bring great results with his countermeasure office.
As a result, the white mask’s debut was yet to come.
But out of habit, Shinichi still ended up playing the decoy and gathering information.
Meanwhile, the person himself was wondering what the hell he was doing.
“Sigh… I want a normal life…”