I looked at the muscle-bound businessman sitting across from me and started developing the questions that I will try to ask. Seeing as the man is very intimidating, I might let him do most of the talking, well, that should be the obvious thing to do since he had come here to talk to me in the first place.
i swallowed a gulp and decided to begin the conversation with a simple question of why the guy was here. I began.
“Really? What does CIMEDE want with me? I mean, you’ve already locked me up.”
The man who called himself Uemichi spoke.
“Let's begin with the night you were captured. Apparently in the vicinity, not far from where you were apprehended, some museum artifacts were stolen. We have reason to believe that you had somehow stolen them and dropped them off somewhere, planning to retrieve them later. Or you had an accomplice working with you to steal the items.”
My exterior poker face stayed flat, while my insides were bubbling with excitement. The honest truth is that I didn’t actually steal anything. I was going to glide towards a window on the museum then break in and steal something that I needed. Although my wingsuit malfunctioned causing me to fail before barely starting. That was the root cause leading to why I was arrested. I did however have a partner helping me out. I wonder if he got it? I guess I’ll have to meet up with Isami when I finally get out of this place, I thought optimistically.
Hearing that something was stolen had given me hope that Isami, my partner, had finished what i could not. With that being said, I started to feel confident in front of bodybuilder and my fear of him was slowly fading. Like paint left out in the sun for too long, it will become light.
Still holding my poker face in place, I told the beefy Uemichi the obvious truth. “Well, looks like you’re asking the wrong guy. As you can see, I was arrested, and I didn’t have the chance to steal anything since it happened before I could get close to the museum.”
Uemichi's eyebrows arched questionably in a is that whole story kind of way to my response, as if testing my word.
I continued with another question out of pure curiosity. “So-uh what exactly was stolen from the museum?”
His response came back quite direct, contrary to what I had expected. “Two things actually, an antique vase, and something called the Shard of Polaris.” His firm voice almost seemed to fade off near the end, but i had not particularly noticed because of his intimidating aura still trembling the air.
Well, the Shard of Polaris is what I was initially going to steal, but an antique vase? I put my hand to my chin, pondering over what information I had so far. If I happened to fail breaking into the museum, then got arrested, maybe Isami had the time to sneak into the museum using another route that we hadn’t discussed. Doing so, he then stole the Shard of Polaris and would bring it back to Doc's basement, where we had been tracing and planning the next steps to our plan.
But wait, let's take this a couple of steps back, back to before Isami went to our basement HQ.
After he stole the artifacts, why didn't he come to help me? Wait! would he make his escape while I was being used as a decoy so that he could save his ass, and keep our plan together? Wait! Using me as a decoy? That’s low, even for you Isami... Damn you!
I cursed my partner, or should I call him my longtime friend, or perhaps a backstabbing traitor... I don’t believe that he would just abandon me like that. Perhaps he did come to help me, but the cops had already arrived, and he didn't have a chance. If he followed the police convoy, then I’m sure he’s thinking of a way to get me out of here, well then again, that's if he even knows where I’m at. Although something was still eating at me, I didn’t know Isami was into antique vases.
With my hand on my chin in a thinking pose, I responded to the man named Uemichi. “Well, I don’t have a clue as to what happened. It’s true that I was going to the museum, but I never got close to it. Besides, if I did steal something from the museum and dropped it off somewhere, where would that be? I was found in an intersection that led towards the museum building. That means if I did have something, it would have still been on me.”
I let a confident grin slip across my face, proving that what I said was the only truth.
Mr. Uemichi, who looked like he was lacking words to reply with, started with another theory. “Okay, let's start with the You had an Accomplice idea. I think that the possibility of you having a partner is pretty high and let's say that you had him steal the artifacts while you played decoy to allow him escape. Maybe your decoy plan failed causing you to actually get caught, or maybe you just didn’t expect someone from CIMEDE to show up. Are you going to deny that?”
I gave his assumptions some thought before thinking of what I would say next. I mean he’s not wrong about me having an accomplice, yet I’m not the kind of guy that would sell out a friend; maybe I’d sell out some backstabbing scumbag that I didn’t trust, or was already backstabbed by, but I’d never sell out a friend.
Let's think about how that musclehead said I was a decoy. Mine and Isami's plan never included the word decoy, and I’m 100% positive that I wouldn’t get backstabbed by my best friend. Even if there was a chance to use me as a decoy, I don't believe Isami would have taken that chance unless it was the only way, and if I had agreed to it.
The fact that Doc was still alive and not seeming to be in any immediate danger, meant that Isami would not recklessly allow me to be captured in his own greed. I'm pretty sure of that.
With all of those points covered, I came to the conclusion that me failing and getting arrested was all an accident, and Isami didn't use me as a decoy. I guess it just so happened that Isami was able to make it to the museum in time while I was conveniently being a decoy for him, and then he stole what we needed, plus a little bonus souvenir.
I nodded to the man sitting across from me with a you’re wrong again gesture, then leaning my chair back and putting my feet on the Warden’s desk, and my arms behind my head, I gave my answer, short and sweet, with a side of confidence. “You do know who you’re talking to right?”
Uemichi stared at me with a straight face as if waiting for me to continue.
“Well, I’m Keisuke Saburi, the legendary thief from CIMEDE’s index of thieves, I wouldn’t work alongside just anyone, and I most definitely wouldn’t play second fiddle to somebody else by being a decoy.”
I conveniently recalled that Chika school girl saying something about me being in some index of thieves, and what better way to stray him off my partner’s trail, then to declare that I’m a professional that works alone.
And just like that, I got you! HOOK, LINE, and SINKER!
It looks like this Uemichi guy bought into my statement as he seemed to give me a dubious look, before starting with a new train of thought.
“Let's say that someone else had stolen the items in question. If it were you who stole them, what would you do with them?”
“Well that honestly depends wholly on the individual, a collector might put them in his private collection, while a black-market seller would, like I called them, sell the items. Depending on the demand and rarity of the item, one could make over a billion yen on a sought-after artifact. I mean a completely serious collector will pay almost anything for a new addition to his collection.”
The brawny man looked out the window with an expression of contemplation, then back at me, before adding onto my recent statement with his own thoughts.
“Would you have sold those certain items if you did get your hands on them?”
"Well, that depends on my reasoning for stealing them. Let's say for instance that I wanted to get my hands on the Shard of Polaris. I've read and heard many rumors about that item. Some say it was created, and some say that it is actually an alien artifact that had fallen from the sky. Depending on what you believe about it, or come to find out about it, that would define what you do with it. If it were created by someone, age unknown, country of origin is also unknown, basically, the artifact as a whole is still unknown, then you would have to do research on what the hell the thing even is before you would choose what to do with it. Then let's say that it is an alien artifact from the sky. It then is pretty much a one-of-a-kind fragment that might not, or probably will not ever see another instance of falling to Earth again. To collectors, either origin story leads to the same conclusion. It’s utterly priceless. If it was sold, you could search the dark web for auctions or sales that pass sixty billion yen plus.”
“And if you didn’t sell it?”
“If I didn’t sell it, then I would be one of those said collectors. Or maybe, there was another use for it that didn’t involve selling or putting it in a glass case. I’m sure tons of people want their hands on the Shard for research, or other hobbies. I mean, who knows what kind of composites or wonders that thing holds. Which brings me to another question Mr. Uemichi, why was something of such importance being put in a Japanese museum anyways?”
“We actually just recently found out that it was moved to the museum under extremely secrecy, in fact, CIMEDE didn't know it was in the museum until yesterday. The reports for that are classified though, and someone like you doesn’t have the necessary clearance level to access those classified documents. With that being said, I did put together a file for the stolen items and some minor backgrounds for them.” The suit wearing beefcake lifted the briefcase that was lying at his chair’s side and set it on the table.
After he opened his leather-bound briefcase, Mr. Uemichi pulled out a yellow file envelope, and slid it across the table to me.
I opened the yellow envelope, emptying out its contents. Inside of the envelope was a thick packet of printed out pages. I slowly flipped through the pages glancing over the words and pictures attached.
“Most of these paragraphs are blacked out.” The paragraphs along 90% of the pages were blacked out and only showed a couple sentences and key words. “You could have just given me a packet of paper that was a quarter of this size for what I actually get to see.” I retorted in an irritated tone.
“Like I said, our official documents are classified. Anyways, what can you tell me about the vase?”
I looked at the pages that contained pictures and other information on the Antique Vase and let out a sigh.
“Honestly, I’m not sure… I’ve seen quite a few antique vases, and their design depends on their country of origin. This one doesn’t strike me as anything special, maybe, if I had time to look over it, I could give you more information on origin, age, and if it was anything other than just a vase. Buuuuuut, from the pictures in this file here, it just looks like a vase with Japanese style designs and carvings.”
“I see...” Mr. Uemichi took back his files, returning them to the briefcase on the desk.
From what I can tell, Mr. Uemichi looked extremely disappointed in his meeting with me. I’m not sure what he expected from me. I mean, even if I did steal the artifacts from the museum, I don’t think I would have admitted it to him anyways.
Right now, Mr. Uemichi was putting his hands together like in a pondering motion, looking like he had more to say.
“So uh, is there anything else you have for me?” I asked, interpreting his gestures and expression.
Mr. Uemichi’s expression rose in enlightenment. “Actually, there is one more thing I wanted to ask you about.”
“The equipment you were carrying when you were apprehended. It was confiscated and taken to our CIMEDE research lab, and other than our top professor, none of our other researchers have ever seen or worked with anything like it.”
“Ahhh right, it’s just you know, nanotech.” I gave him a know-it-all grin. “I thought CIMEDE would have had nanotechnology in their arsenal of high-tech equipment.”
Mr. Uemichi gave me an expression like what I had just said was obvious.
“You are correct about CIMEDE having nanotechnology. In fact, most of the world's militaries already have a grasp on nanotechnology, or at least the basics. With that being said, the reports I’ve received on the equipment you had was on the same level, if not slightly more advanced than what even we have created.”
I gave a dubious look. “Well, If I’m being completely honest with you, even I don’t know what I had my hands on.”
Mr. Uemichi questioned what I had just told him. “How exactly did you get your hands on equipment like that then?”
“Isn’t it obvious?...” I bared a smile showing all teeth. “I stole it”.
Mr. Uemichi stood up from his chair, gathering the stuff that he had brought. I could see a slight grin sneak across his face as he was leaving. Right before he opened the door to leave the room, Mr. Uemichi turned around facing me.
“Mr. Saburi, I have a proposal for you.”
Still sitting in my chair, I turned my head towards the muscular man.
“I can make an arrangement to get you put on a work release plan. That means that if you can help CIMEDE recover the stolen artifacts, that would be service put towards shortening your total prison time.”
“What? I don’t know what to say to that… Don’t you think I’d run when you take your eyes off me?”
“Well, that is always a possibility. You would have to agree to certain requirements in order to accept our proposal though.”
“What kind of requirements are these exactly?”
“Well for starters, you would have to have a tracking device implanted in you so that we can keep an eye on you. Next, we would assign you your own personal guardian/partner to be your instructor, and your leash so to say. Lastly, this one isn’t completely necessary, but we might be able to squeeze you into some classes at CIMEDE Academy, and that will give you some knowledge as to what we are about, along with access to the student dormitory.”
I started to give it some thought. Let's say I do have a tracking device implanted in me, that would be my biggest issue in an attempted escape. Well, that is depending on where it’s located and the size of the device. I’ll definitely have to request details on what their putting in me. Then, I’ll also have a leash, or guardian as he called it. I honestly don’t think that part will be too much of a problem since I’ll have to play along with them anyways. Lastly, this one was his biggest mistake. By putting me inside CIMEDE Academy, he’s giving me access to all of their knowledge and techniques, along with their technology and future plans. Talk about a breach of security.
I stared at Mr. Uemichi’s face while these ideas flowed through my brain, then he spoke.
“Think about it, the offer isn’t half bad.”
Then the muscle-bound businessman left the room.
Next thing I knew the warden and the guards rushed in, grabbing me by my arms, and leading me towards the elevator. I looked back and saw Uemichi the musclehead standing by the exit, arms crossed. Without realizing my actions, I called out to the man. The gang of warden and guards stopped.
“Have you seen my cell? Well, it’s a lot shittier than your offer..." not being able to move my arms because of the warden’s gang, I moved my face, I moved it into the best grin of submission I could muster. “And so, I accept your offer.”