Chapter 15:



Tuesday – 17:30

For the next order of business, I headed toward TRUCK-KUN's auto repair shop, which had its own entrance on the main floor of the building. I walked through the aisles looking for my truck and found it near the end of the room, being worked on by a few men in overalls.

I went up to the closest one and tapped his shoulder. "So, what shape is the truck in? Can it be ready to drive tomorrow?"

The mechanic turned around and wiped his sweaty brow. "It's hard to say at the moment. We are still fixing things up. I can call you once I know one way or another."

"Thanks," I said. "So you know what caused the truck to go out of control?"

"Sure do," the mechanic said. "The wheel blew up."

"Oh well," I said. "Accidents happen like that sometimes."

The mechanic shook his head. "Actually, it's extremely unlikely that it was an accident. The wheel looks like someone shot a shotgun at it. It is riddled with holes that wouldn't be there because of a simple nail or piece of glass. I couldn't say for sure what could have caused it, but it probably was purposely done. I have never seen anything like this."

"I see," I said, turning around to leave. "Thanks for the information. Please let me know if you find out anything else."

I hoped to get more conclusive evidence, but at least I had a lead. That was the motivation that I needed to continue the investigation. Whoever was responsible, if anyone was, most likely either had known about the mission beforehand or had been stalking me to wait for an opportunity. If the latter, then I just needed to gather a list of the people who knew about the mission and a list of those who had been out on missions or could have been watching me remotely.

That meant that I needed to ask Terry to divulge information.

* * *

Tuesday – 17:45

"So can you provide me a list of the agents who were out on missions while I got in the accident?" I asked Terry.

"Sure," Terry responded, quickly going through his computer to search the logs. "It looks like there were eight trucks out on missions at the same time as yours." Terry handed Toby the list.

I read the data and frowned. Nobody on it was a likely suspect that I could easily point fingers at. So the best option at this point would be a process of elimination. At lunch, it showed three missions before mine. All of which were successful. Since they happened too far away to get back to my location in time, I crossed them off the list. That left five more. Tamari was on the list as well, so I crossed her name off the list. She wouldn't have done it. Additionally, she would have had her trainee with her. She couldn't have done anything with her at her side. That left four more names. One was R-rank without a trainee, and the other three were U-rank. None, however, seemed like likely suspects. I could keep an eye out for them, though.

I turned to Terry. "The twins weren't out?"

"I thought you believed in them to not resort to foul play," said Terry.

"That's true," I said. "But they are out almost daily since they are trying to catch up to me and they need double the amount of work to catch up, so not seeing them out is a surprise. Plus, they knew about my mission."

"Well," Terry said. "They were actually about to go out on a mission when I got the notification about your crash. They were in this room with me at the very moment."

"So I was right, you see," I said. "They couldn't have been responsible if they were both in here and you didn't see anything weird."

Terry hesitated and frowned. "Actually, now that I think about it, only Timothy was in here. Thomas was waiting outside...or at least Timothy made it sound that way. It's possible that he wasn't actually there. Or even if he was, perhaps he could have been watching your truck with a camera or something."

I pondered the information for a little while before storing it away for future use. "Well, I still want to believe that it wasn't them, but I will look into it." Now that I knew who were on missions, I just needed to list the people who could have been watching me. Terry and Theodore both could have, but I couldn't believe that they would have done such a thing. So I added their names to the list and then crossed them both out. I also added the twins to the list just in case, and after a second in thought, also added Teresa's name in parenthesis next to Tamari and crossed it out as well.

"Thanks, Terry," I said, already on my way out of the office. "I will keep you up to date on the investigation."

* * *

Tuesday – 20:00

Later that night, while deep in thought about the investigation, the mechanic called me back. "Good news, Tobias! We repaired the truck and returned it to the garage. It is ready to be driven whenever you want. Most of the damage was to the wheel, which was easily replaceable. Thankfully, we didn't discover any problems with the engine or anywhere else besides for a few scrapes here and there."

"Thanks for the good work," I told him. "That truck and I have been through a lot together, and it just wouldn't be the same without it." Having the truck back motivated me even more. It was as if an old friend returned to help me through my time of need. I hung up and turned back to my inner thoughts.

I technically had two months to give two more tries to the same target, but I couldn't afford to wait that long. I needed to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible. Therefore, I couldn't be subtle and delicate with the investigating. I needed to brute force the culprit, if there was one, out into the open. So I would have to do an impromptu mission and make sure everybody on the list, crossed out or not, knew about it. That way, if an accident happened again, it would mean for sure that one of them was responsible and was responsible for injuring me and Thaddeus. If nothing happened, then it meant that it was more likely that the popped wheel was an accident.

I didn't actually plan on hitting the target, but nobody else would know that. This way, I didn't need to plan so much ahead of time. I could just drive to where I knew the target would be after the stalking mission last time and drive towards his area and wait for something unexpected to happen. I still needed the target as bait for it to work, though.

I had a busy night ahead of me.

I spent the entire night setting everything up. I congratulated the three agents who succeeded in their missions and told them to wish me luck on my mission tomorrow. I called the twins next and teased them that I would dash their hopes on my mission the next day. I then called the other four random agents and naturally slipped into the conversation that I would be going on a mission the next day. I then called Tamari, Terry, and Theodore and just gave them an update that I would be attempting to try the next day. I didn't need to bother acting inconspicuously since it would be normal for me to update them.

I had more angles to investigate, but it was pointless to speculate further until I knew for sure that it was on purpose. However, I still spent most of the night going over potential scenarios that would play out the next day. I eventually fell asleep, and once again, I wasn't plagued by nightmares. My dreams were so peaceful that I almost didn't want to wake up, but I forced myself up to focus on solving the mystery. After that, I could have as many pleasant dreams as I wanted.

If that wasn’t enough of a motivation, nothing was.