Chapter 23:



Thursday – 12:15

"It was you," I repeated after Thaddeus didn't reply. "Wasn't it? Thaddeus."

"W-w-w-what was me?" Thaddeus asked, with a genuinely puzzled look on his face. Either Toby was wrong, or Thaddeus was an amazing fibber.

"You were the one who sabotaged my last three missions," I stated confidently. "Weren't you?"

"I don't know w-w-w-what you are talking about!" Thaddeus said. "W-w-why would I do that? How could I do that?"

I couldn't tell if he was lying, but the evidence made sense, and I had no other suspects. "Thaddeus. Don't make this any harder than it has to be. Just admit it already."

Thaddeus wouldn't give in. "Tobias, there is nothing to admit. W-w-what could possibly make you believe that I had anything to do with the botched missions?"

"If you are still acting innocent, I will explain how I know it's you," I said. "First of all, I have never failed a mission up until you became my pupil."

"A-a-actually, you succeeded in the first one," Thaddeus argued.

"True," I said. "However, that target was an accident. I only hit her unintentionally. Therefore, the saboteur couldn't have possibly have prevented that one. Additionally, each mission I had been on since then, you were right there with me, in the perfect place to time the accidents and interruptions. I left you alone in the truck for the first two missions with a perfect opportunity while I went to Terry's office. It all adds up."

"That may be true," Thaddeus said, "b-b-but I wasn't the only one who could have done that. I am sure that plenty of people could have been following you or watching you from a camera or something."

"Possibly," I agreed. "That's precisely why I investigated and narrowed down the suspects. I then had all of those people watched by at others, and they reported that all of the suspects were far away, not doing anything suspicious. That means that the only other two people it could be are you and me, and I know that I didn't do it. That just leaves one other option. You."

"P-p-perhaps you missed somebody," reasoned Thaddeus. "It could have been multiple people working together or perhaps one of the people you had text you could have done it."

"I already thought of that," I explained. "One of the people I asked was an old partner from many years ago, and he couldn't have known that I would have asked him for help. Additionally, I confirmed his report with texts from Tamari and Terry. They were all watching the twins, who I told them were the main suspects, even though I didn't actually think that. I also had Teresa watch someone else, and she reported that there was nothing suspicious. It also couldn't have been Teresa since she alone couldn't have reached the mission site since she doesn't have a vehicle. Also, she doesn't have the capability of watching me during the missions.

"In addition, after investigating, everyone who could have pulled this off, working together or not, were all being watched. That's also why I planned this mission during lunch time, since everybody who wouldn't be at lunch would stand out, but the only people who didn't attend lunch were those that were being watched and us two. So again, it only could have been you."

"P-p-perhaps it was you," Thaddeus said. "Maybe you were subconsciously botching your own missions. That would also explain everything. You could have messed with the lights, attached the horn, and caused the truck to crash."

I smirked slightly. Thaddeus' theory would be quite the twist, but Thaddeus had also finally slipped up. "What do you mean? I never told you anything about somebody tampering with the lights. Plus, you were just given a device for reaching C-rank that could mess with traffic lights within close proximity. You were the only agent around who could have done that." Finally, I had caught Thaddeus in a lie, and he would be forced to confess now.

Or so I had thought. Thaddeus didn't seem nervous, though.

"Of course it was a lights malfunction," Thaddeus stated. "W-w-w-what else could it have been. I saw you pressing the buttons and the lights now responding. It wasn't rocket science to figure out. Also, don't forget, you also have that device."

I doubled back. It was true that my evidence wasn't as foolproof as I had thought. Did that mean that I had no evidence after all of this? Something Thaddeus had just said stuck in my head, though.

Rocket Science.

"You told me yesterday that you were studying engineering in school," I said. "That would explain how you were able to cause the crash with a device attached to your phone or something you could press in your pocket without me noticing. You could have done the same with the horn as well."

"That d-d-d-doesn't prove anything," Thaddeus said. "You could have done all of that as well. Especially since you used to be in another department which may have specialized in that sort of thing."

I was running out of ideas. I knew that the kid was guilty, but Thaddeus wasn't folding under pressure, and even I was starting to doubt myself. However, I needed to follow this through to the end.

"Look, Thaddeus," I said with a sigh. "I know it wasn't me, which means that it only could have been you."

"W-w-w-why would I put myself in danger by blowing up the tire?" Thaddeus asked. "Does that make any sense to you? I nearly died!"

I didn't have a believable answer for that question. I could stretch and make up explanations, but I really didn't know. Despite that, I still was sure that Thaddeus was the culprit.

Wait a minute!

"How did you know that the tire was blown up, Thaddeus?" I asked victoriously. "All I said was that someone caused the crash. I never told you about there being a bomb of some sort attached to a tire of the truck."

Thaddeus was speechless for a second but quickly tried to recover. "It w-w-w-was obvious to figure out. From the conjecture of your statements added to my memory of the crash, that's the only logical explanation."

It was a solid attempt, but I now knew without a shadow of a doubt that Thaddeus was responsible, though I still didn't know what his motives were. I could also tell that Thaddeus realized that he had given himself away.

"Thaddeus, I am not mad at you," I said calmly. "I am finished as an agent, and I only took on this mission to find out who was behind nearly getting you killed. I don't know why you would have done it, but it doesn't matter. My main objective is complete. I can retire with a clear mind. I won't even blab that you were behind it. Just tell me why and explain what's going on. You can trust me on my word."

Thaddeus sat silently for a couple of minutes, his thoughts bouncing back and forth like a ping pong match. Eventually, Thaddeus spoke up without a stutter. "You are correct. I was behind all of your failed missions. It was me."

"Why though?" I asked.

Thaddeus hesitated before finally pulling a file out of his jacket. "It's because I wanted revenge on you for what you did to me five years ago, when you Isekai'd me."

Well, that was a twist.