Monday, December 13, 2010

Return – Chapter 6

Musashino’s lines of trees of, bathed in the sun’s blazing light, flowed past the Cadillac heading toward Jusho High.

"This is all the material you have on Nakajima Akemi?" Sitting in the car’s plush back seat, Feed spoke to the unshaven Detective Iwama sitting next to him.

"Yes. He's just an ordinary high school student, so there's not much more that we could find on him. Dr. Feed, do you really think that Nakajima is the ringleader behind the whole incident?" Detective Iwama did not approve of this American, clearly some sort of scientist, interfering with his investigation.

"In a way, I imagine that he's actually a victim. But he certainly played a very large part in the incident."

"Do you have any evidence to prove that?" Iwama's voice barely concealed his irritation.

We investigated each one of the students ages ago. It's true that Nakajima Akemi appeared to be an unusual student, but there was no evidence of him having any violent tendencies. The teachers seemed to have a high opinion of him too.

Feed paid Iwama's attitude no heed; he busily flipped through the materials in his hands.

"The records he left in the online database that I manage are the proof. The time that the incident at Jusho High took place was..."

"In Japanese time, July 13th, sometime between 10AM and 12 PM," Narukawa, the driver, interjected in an emotionless voice.

"At precisely that time, Nakajima was trying to talk to the AI located on my servers in Arkham, Massachusetts."

"What!? If you had such critical information why didn't you tell us before...? No, I'm sorry, pardon the outburst. I presume you will be releasing that information to us?"

"I'm here precisely because that information is not something that can be easily released." Feed's voice was calm and composed.

"But this is an investigation..." As Iwama instinctively leaned ahead, the car suddenly slowed down, and he fell forward. The black Cadillac pulled in up in front Jusho High’s gate.

Accompanied by Narukawa and Feed, Iwama entered the CAI room, grimaced at the heat and stench in the room, and explained the situation regarding the incident that had occurred.

"So you haven't been able to identify this matter yet?" With well-practiced movements, Feed gathered some of the sticky substance clinging to the rubble into a petri dish and questioned the detective.

"Unfortunately, not yet..." Iwama's face was sullen

A small sound rang from the transmitter on Narukawa's arm.

"I've a message from HQ. Excuse me for a moment." As usual, Narukawa wasted no movement. The face of the instructor in charge of the CAI room peered out from the machine room.

"I've readied the Host Computer. Please come this way." The air conditioner turned on, and cool air finally started to blow through the sauna-like room.

"Your machines are IBMs, I see." Feed started analyzing the contents of the programs on the host computer with the speed of one very familiar with their operation. As his bony fingers tapped the keys, a huge program list filled the screen.

"'MATHEMATICS 1.' That's not what I want!" A red mark was appended to the program he was analyzing.

Come to think of it, we probably should have checked the contents of the computer... With a sidelong glance, Iwama looked at Feed, absorbed in his work on the computer, and secretly regretted not having done so earlier.

"'ENGLISH READER 2.' That's not what I want either!"

Feed's eyes continued to dart through the program list like a hawk, until he finally lowered his shoulders with a sigh.

"Maybe the program I want to see isn't here. It may have been tacked onto the OS itself. Could I have a look at this system's operating manual?"

"If you need the manual, we keep it in the Teacher's Office..." The teacher in charge of the CAI room looked perplexed.

"Wait. Hold on a minute here..." Apparently discovering something he had overlooked, Feed cast an uneasy glance toward the teacher and Iwama.

"Nobody has touched this system since the incident, right?" Feed said in a skeptical tone.

"As a matter of proper police procedure, we have placed this room off-limits..." Unable to answer Feed's question directly, Iwama looked at the teacher in an accusatory manner.

Narukawa had returned come in at some point, and handed Feed a memo.

"Nakajima has returned."

The moment his eyes read the scrap of paper, Feed's expression lit up.

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