Chapter 15: A Risky Gambit
Outside Sakurami High School, no less than five police vehicles could be seen. While the first three were regular patrol cars, the other two were armored vans containing a dozen SWAT operatives in all. Following the tip they'd received from one of their own – a rookie named Itachi Yukishiro, who at the moment was on the school premises – all of them had been called to the school in an attempt to resolve the incident. For the moment, though, their orders were to stand by and await further instructions.
Overseeing the entire operation was Detective Keigo Kurusu, who at the moment was holed up in one of the armored vans. After he'd given his men their standing orders, he'd since managed to gain access to the network of surveillance cameras installed throughout the campus. From there, he then proceeded to monitor what was happening inside, while at the same time referring to the information being relayed to him through other channels.
"Chief, what now? Shouldn't you send them in?"
At his subordinate's prompting, Kurusu looked up at him from the display. "Not yet, Nishijima. It looks like things are more complicated than we thought."
"Wait, what?" Nishijima asked, bewildered. "But chief, why not? Everyone's in position. Just give the order and one of the snipers could end this!"
The detective paused for a moment, during which he drank some of the canned coffee he managed to buy from one of the vending machines back in the station. "Yukishiro just sent word, turns out she's rigged every single one of the school buildings with bombs. It's too much to hope she won't just blow the whole place up if the op goes sideways. And besides…"
Kurusu's voice trailed off as he showed Nishijima the entry on his phone:
April 4, 2026, 10:21 [Sakurami High School]
Minene Uryuu was killed by a headshot from one of the snipers. At the same time, all bombs planted on the school grounds explode. Heavy casualties reported.
Not long after the tragedy that took place the previous year at Sakurami Stadium, Kurusu's cell phone suddenly began providing him with predictions pertaining to his investigations, all of which had been highly accurate and spot-on. He'd since seen fit to let Nishijima in on his secret, and indeed, his rookie partner had the honor of being the only one in the entire department who knew of his mobile phone's seeming clairvoyance. In fact, he was considering letting the rookie have his phone – which he'd dubbed the Investigation Diary – in the event that anything happened to him.
"She's crazy-prepared, I'll give her that much," growled the detective, a sour look on his face.
Gritting his teeth, Nishijima couldn't help but agree with his superior. Despite knowing what he now knew, he felt bile rising in his throat at the thought of letting a terrorist have her way; then again, though, the alternative – sacrificing hundreds, many of whom were children – wasn't much better. Even if they did manage to kill the terrorist, their success would be just as terrible as failure, arguably even more so. In other words, their hands were tied.
"So what do we do then, Chief? Do you have some kind of plan?"
There was silence as Kurusu pondered the question posed to him by his subordinate. The only way the situation could end well was to take Minene Uryuu using nonlethal means. And since none of them had thought to bring those sorts of weapons, then there was only one option left that he could see.
"As a matter of fact, I do," replied the detective after several seconds. "But…"
Yukiteru opened his eyes to find himself propped up against a wall in a sitting position, with Yuno kneeling in front of him. Obviously, she'd been watching him while he was out cold; needless to say, when she saw that he'd regained consciousness, her face immediately lit up in a smile.
"Thank goodness you're awake, Yukki. That explosion a while back knocked you out, I was so worried! C'mon, let's go-"
She never got to finish her sentence, though, given that she fainted right on the spot.
Looking at Yuno, Yukiteru couldn't help but notice that she'd seemed quite flushed a while back; now that he thought of it, he could've sworn she was panting earlier when she tried to attack Uryuu with that fire extinguisher. And now that he remembered, she'd skipped school yesterday, though not without telling him that she came down with a fever. And though her presence at school today probably denoted an improvement in her condition, it was highly evident that not only was she yet to fully recover, but that the recent turn events could well have caused her to relapse.
And just then, as if right on cue, the familiar notification tone sounded from his phone.
April 4 / 10:30 [Sakurami High School]
My friends and classmates are taking refuge in the cafeteria on the ground floor.
Yukiteru made his way to where his peers were hiding with the unconscious Yuno in tow. Unfortunately, his journey was made more difficult in the process; while he could easily have scaled the back of the building to get to where they were, the fact that he had to carry Yuno on his back left him no other choice but to take the stairs and the halls instead. Luckily he still managed to get there, using of his second sight in order to navigate around the explosives and make it there safely.
After several minutes, he found himself at the cafeteria entrance.
It was Mao who first saw and approached him, followed by Hinata and another classmate of theirs, a white-haired boy with deep red eyes; Aru Akise, if he remembered correctly. From what he could see, most of their other classmates were hiding under the tables – and good thing, too, otherwise they'd be flattened if something blew up upstairs and the roof came crashing down on their heads. Nevertheless, they all visibly smiled and relaxed as he entered.
"Hey, guys," Yukiteru greeted his friends as they came to him. "Don't worry about me, I'm fine. Just do me a favor and watch Yuno for me, alright?"
"Watch Yuno? What-?" this from Hinata as he set the unconscious girl down right at their feet. "Are you crazy, Amano-kun!? You can't just go back out there! It's dangerous!"
"She's right, y'know," added Akise, stepping up to Hinata's side. "What're you planning, anyway?"
Good question, actually.
But first, let me check what else my Diary has to say about the enemy…
When Yukiteru unlocked his phone, the first thing he saw was the previous entry that appeared before he went down the stairs. From there he tried to switch modes from the Random Diary to the Assassin's Diary, but then...
'Function locked'? Really? Of all times, why now?
Pezzo di merda!
Yukiteru just barely stopped himself from cursing; for some reason, his phone had chosen the worst possible time to malfunction. What was going on? According to the notes left by Piero together with the Eden's Diary itself, he was supposed to be able to switch between the two functions at will. In that case, why…?
Talk about bad timing…
Unexpected and inconvenient though it was, Yukiteru supposed it was his own fault for becoming overly dependent on his Diary ever since he got it. After all, Piero's letter did warn him not to rely on it too much.
Tch, I guess I'll have to improvise, then…
"Don't worry," he finally told his friends just before he turned to leave. "For now, stay here and watch each other's backs."
"And you, Amano-kun?" Mao piped up, "What about you?"
Yukiteru looked back at his friends briefly at the question, just before exiting the cafeteria and shutting the door behind him.
"I'll think of something," he said simply as he left.
Once he'd closed the door, he pulled his hood up, before making his way back up the stairs.
And as he did so, he imagined Piero's voice speaking to him, whispering the words he'd written in that final letter.
I know for a fact just how strong you are, nipote. And a strong man doesn't need to read the future.
He makes his own.
It took Yukiteru no more than a few seconds to return to the second floor.
"Well, well. I didn't think you'd actually show up here, kid."
And sure enough, the first person he encountered was Itachi Yukishiro.
"My friends are hiding downstairs in the cafeteria," he informed him briefly. "They're fine for now."
"I see. And your girlfriend?"
"Down there with them," Yukiteru replied automatically, ignoring the pink tinge that crept up his cheeks at the older Assassin's words. "Is my sister planning anything?"
"Minerva? She said she was going to confront Uryuu," Itachi recalled their plan. "Possibly even negotiate with her. Since Uryuu was hired for the job, Minerva thinks there might be a chance she could be talked down. I wonder about that," he added dubiously.
Yukiteru nodded. "I see. Think it'll work?"
"Not really," Itachi readily admitted, his fingers twitching; from Yukiteru's standpoint, it was obvious that the two of them were in agreement as to the best course of action. "For that matter, Minerva doesn't think much of it, either."
"That's exactly why I'm heading to the roof. In the likely event that negotiations fall through, I'm to get the drop on her with this," explained Itachi in a matter-of-fact tone, holding up his right hand and extending his hidden blade to emphasize the point.
At those words, the familiar tone could be heard from Yukiteru's phone, calling his attention to the addition of yet another entry.
[E:/Assassin's Diary/Personnel files/Minene Uryuu]
The subject is currently equipped with a microbomb. In the event her heart stops beating, the microbomb will explode, taking out anyone caught in her immediate vicinity. In addition, this will also detonate all bombs in the surrounding area.
The color drained from Yukiteru's face as he saw the entry, with Itachi displaying a similar reaction after it was shown to him. "So, what now? What other option do we have if we can't kill her?"
Yukiteru briefly considered it. He did have a plan, one that dovetailed nicely with what his big sister had come up with. More importantly, he could easily contact her and let her know what he was planning. And though she'd probably be less than thrilled that he was putting himself in harm's way yet again, he had no doubt that she'd have no problems working together with him if it came right down to it.
On the other hand, it was a risky gambit, and if they failed…
"C'mon, let's go up. I'll explain along the way."
Facing her enemy, Minerva's eyes widened ever so slightly as she received her brother's message.
So, Yuki-kun… That's your plan…
Meanwhile, the corners of Minene Uryuu's mouth twitched in irritation as she saw the platinum-haired woman who stepped out on the field to confront her.
"Alright, lady, what do you want?" she called out to the perceived interloper through her megaphone. "I thought I made my demands perfectly clear."
"Really?" Minerva replied evenly, using her own built-in megaphone to project her voice to the other end of the field. "Is there really no other way for this to play out? You said it yourself, hurting kids isn't really your style!" she added, reminding the bomber of what she'd said earlier.
"It's the job I was hired for, after all," said the terrorist in turn, holding up her detonator to emphasize her point. "Now, are you gonna hand the two twerps over or not? Just so you know, I've set the bombs to all go off ten minutes from now, so I wouldn't waste time if I were you!"
Minerva went silent for several seconds at those words. When she finally replied, it was with a sad, regretful look on her face, and with a voice that might have been described as apologetic.
"In that case, I'm sorry it has to be this way."
Watching the exchange play out from their vantage point up on the roof, neither Yukiteru nor Itachi were surprised when Uryuu flatly rejected Minerva's attempt at working out a deal. Maybe it was the pay day the Templars had promised her that had been her primary consideration. Perhaps she had some sense of pride that made her averse to the idea of abandoning her mission. Or maybe, regardless of what she had said earlier, she really did derive some sort of pleasure from blowing things up, or otherwise inflicting suffering and death on others.
Maybe it was all of the above, or even none of the above.
Either way, now that their predictions had come true, it was now time for Yukiteru to put his own plan into action.
"…I see. In that case, I'm sorry it has to be this way."
At his sister's words, Yukiteru immediately leapt off the roof in an aerial assassination, with every intention of hitting his mark.
I hope this works…!
Minene Uryuu staggered as she felt someone leap onto her back and then stab into her neck, only for the blade only to be stopped in its tracks by the protective lining in her jacket.
"Ballsy little shit…!"
She wasted no time tossing him flat onto his back in front of her with a judo throw, only to find that it was one of her targets: Yukiteru Amano, the boy she'd first encountered here in this school. It was a good thing she'd been warned as to what she was going up against, and that, more importantly, she'd been given a detailed dossier on this boy and what he was capable of.
"You've got guts, I'll give you that," she sneered down at him as she leveled a pistol in his face, but then-
Why was he smirking?
The smug, triumphant look vanished from Minene Uryuu's face, replaced by an expression of pure horror as she saw a long, thin needle heading right for her head.
Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit OH SHIT…!
A bloodcurdling scream of pain rang throughout the school grounds as the needle found its mark.