Chizuru looked back into Noribetsu Koushirou’s face. He chewed over the words he had let out.
… Have a deduction showdown with me.
He had thought it was just a joke, but an exceedingly earnest expression was floating over the student council president’s orderly face.
He slowly lowered the finger he had thrust at Chizuru. In unison with that, Chizuru raised his own hand up to his face, and scratched it.
He said bluntly. The look in Noboribetsu’s eyes intensified.
“Because I’m not interested. I just want to go home and slee… then if you’ll pardon me…”
As Chizuru tried to make for the door, Noboribetsu grabbed his arm.
“I’m not waiting. Good bye.”
“Hey, hey, you could at least hear him out.”
Ageha- who’d been looking on from the side pat Chizuru on the shoulder. Chizuru let out a sigh and looked around. The other students who’d sent glances of wonder upon the president’s arrival had now left for clubs and other business. Right now, they were the only three in the room.
… Well, it’s not like anyone was watching, so he could keep him company a bit.
Chizuru gave a nod of acknowledgement.
Well then, Noboribetsu pushed up the bridge of his glasses, and made a straight face as he went into it.
“I’ll introduce myself again. I’m a third year student of Yumoto Academy’s High School Division… Noboribetsu Koushirou. I’m serving as the student council president.”
He didn’t look like an outsider to the school, and Chizuru was already well aware he was the student council president. Chizuru felt some irony at his conversation partner’s inflexibility.
“Umm,” Chizuru gave a vague reply. “Second year, Kirishima Chizuru… over.”
There was nothing else he had to say. But Noboribetsu raised the corners of his lips in triumph.
“I’ve already looked into you.”
Suddenly taking out his student notepad, he took in a deep breath before going on and on.
“Kirishima Chizuru. A second year of Yumoto Academy’s High School Division, special class. Unaffiliated with any club. Including both genders, seat number ten. Born June Sixteenth, Gemini, blood type B. Lives in an apartment within Yumoto City.”
“Eh? What’s with this cree…”
Chizuru was about to speak his mind, but noticing he was dealing with an upperclassman, so wrapping it in several layers of sugar, “You’ve sure done your research,” he spun it in a positive light.
Noboribetsu’s triumphant face grew even thicker. A so-called smug smirk.
“My connections in this school are a gift. To add to that, my brother is a private detective in Yumoto City, you see, so I’ve been properly trained in the art of background checks. Well, all that aside, the important thing is…”
Noboribetsu clicked his notepad shut, producing a folded piece of paper from his breast pocket.
“This article from the school paper.”
Ageha of the newspaper club leaked a voice. The article Noboribetsu spread out was one Chizuru had seen before. The feature article was… ‘The Great Detective of Yumoto Academy’.
Holding onto some bitter sentiment, Chizuru gazed at the article. Last month, when he had solved a case at the request of the head of the newspaper club, Kurokami Kaede, she had decided to publicize him as thanks. His lust for fame wasn’t strong… more than that, he wanted to live quietly… from Chizuru’s point of view, he had some conflicted feelings about that piece. The fact his name was replaced with K was a saving grace.
“This article has one point that’s difficult for me to bear, see.”
Hmm was all he could say. It’s not like it said anything about Noboribetsu, but he was still displeased about something. Chizuru tilted his head.
“Just look at this, this sentence… ‘Within Yumoto Academy, there is no room for doubt that K-kun boasts the greatest mind of deduction.’…”
“I’m led to believe this sentence is quite lacking in accuracy, the reason being… the one who boasts the greatest mind in this Yumoto Academy is me.”
“And so!” Noboribestu slammed the newspaper down on Chizuru’s desk, “I need you to have a deduction showdown with me. So that I can prove my superiority…”
“No, we don’t need that. You’re smarter than me. This is my loss. Good work everyone, that’s a wrap. Good bye.”
As Chizuru tried to leave, he was caught by the hood of his hoodie. Noboribetsu turned Chizuru towards himself, holding his face in both hands so their eyes would meet.
Ageha instantly took out her smartphone and began taking pictures. Chizuru ripped the student council president’s hands off his face, sending a fed-up glance to Ageha.
“What are you taking pictures for…”
“No, there was nothing there to commemorate.”
Noboribetsu let off an angry cry of, “Listen!”
“Why do you think I was studying abroad in London up to last month?”
I had only just learned of your existence and the fact you were studying abroad in the first place, he thought, but kept his mouth shut. Chizuru turned his head.
Noboribetsu cleared his throat, declaring without showing a sign of embarrassment.
“I wanted to train as a detective in London, the Holy Land of Sherlock Holmes. Over there as well, I assisted in criminal investigations.”
Oh I see.
Chizuru shrugged his shoulders. Meaning this guy is…
“That’s right, Chizuru,” Ageha nodded, “Before he left Japan, President Noboribetsu assisted in police investigations as a high school detective.”
So that’s why Ageha said he was, “Just like you…” a while back.
“When you’re a high school student, you help out with police investigation? Are you really in demand?”
“Chizuru, that question goes right back to you…”
“Demand? Of course. Especially for complicated crimes that seem impossible at first glance. It’s too heavy a burden for the local police to solve it with numbers alone.”
Noboribetsu was overflowing with confidence.
“So the number one detective in this school should be me. Okay?”
Chizuru scratched his head painstakingly.
“In the first place, how did you identify me from that article?”
“I heard from the newspaper club’s president Kurokawa Kaede-kun. She’s in the special class with me.”
“Anyways, you’re in the detective business. I have a number of records of cases you were involved with. For example, the theft and injury that occurred at the house of first year Tsukioka Yuzuki. You were involved with police investigations.”
“And there’s information you’re involved with a certain detective.”
“… I am.”
This was becoming a pain.
“So Kirishima Chizuru-kun. I want to settle the score. Who’s the greatest high school detective in Yumoto City… and the one who loses the deduction showdown won’t work as a detective again. How does that sound?”
What’s with that proposal?
Chizuru was utterly amazed inside, but honestly he didn’t feel he’d lose. And he got a certain idea in his head.
“… Then how about this?” Chizuru spoke slowly. “The winner of this showdown can, ‘Give the loser one absolute order’. In that case, I’ll take it up. If you win, you can just order me to step down from the detective business.”
Noboribetsu furrowed his brow at that proposal that seemed to contain some ulterior motive, but he soon made a belittling smile.
“… ‘One absolute order’, that sounds kinda erotic.”
Cutting off Ageha’s straight-faced nonsense, “So, what are the contents of the challenge?” Chizuru asked.
“How about the murder that happened in Yumoto Park last night? I checked the info the moment school ended, and it seems they haven’t caught the culprit yet.”
“Ah, that sounds good… right. If we’re going to make deductions about that case, I know a quick and easy method.”
“Cut me some slack, Chizuru-kun!”
The one who appeared before Chizuru’s group, Detective Atami of the precinct cried out.
A casual diner in front of Yumoto station, Softboiled Land. Chizuru, Ageha and Noboribetsu had waited for Atami, of whom Chizuru had called out by phone.
“The precinct is bustling right now because of the murder in Yumoto Park… well, I happened to be on desk work this time around, so I was able to slip out.”
“As I thought,” Chizuru nodded as if it were naturally, “Because of your penalty, you’re on grunt work, after all. You’re still on investigations, for argument’s sake, so you accompany Officer Ibusuki out on the initial investigations, but… once that’s over, I’m sure you just get the materials together or have various other jobs pushed onto you.”
“Yeah, that’s exactly right!! And wait, this is quite an audience! I get Beppu-san, but who’s that gentleman over there?”
“I’m the student council president of Yumoto Academy, Noboribetsu Koushirou.” Raising his back, Noboribetsu lowered his head. “I thought I would be of some assistance in this case.”
“Yes, a year ago I solved the Shimoda City Bus Jack case and the Yumoto University Campus Murder.”
“Eh!? That high school detective who was the talk of the precinct?”
“That’s right… and from spring, I was training as a detective in England, the land Sherlock Holmes did his work.”
“Holmes is a fictional character.”
Chizuru tried heckling but it was ignored.
“Y-yeaah. If that’s how it is, then I guess it’s fine if you’re here.”
As Atami scratched his head, Ageha let out a sigh of wonder.
“The president was quite an amazing person… wait, Chizuru!”
Ageha stuck an elbow into Chizuru by the window.
“Will you be alright? Can you beat him?”
He whispered his declaration.
Once Atami took his seat, he went right into describing the case.
“And so? Chizuru? Will you really solve this case for me?”
“This is quite a difficult case. On top of that, an hour from now… I have to attend the investigations meeting an hour from now. Can you solve it by then? Just by hearing out the story?”
“Hmm, the one who’ll solve it is me.”
Blatantly exposing his hostility, Noboribetsu glared at Chizuru from across the table.
“… The-then I’ll get right to it.”
His face growing anxious at this quarrel of high schoolers, Atami started out.
“Truth is us prefectural police have our hands full with this case… it looked easy enough at the start, but the leading suspect had a definite alibi…”
“Hmm, how interesting. And alibi, is it?”
“Yeah, that’s right. But first, let’s put things in order.
The victim was Mitsui Rin-san, 24 years old. Worked in the news department of a television station as an investigative reporter. The body was found in Yumoto Park’s fountain plaza, discovered by a man who went for some early morning running around five. It’s thought Mitsui-san was killed between nine and eleven last night.”
“Hmm, it does look like a normal case at a glance,” said Ageha. “Was it some random attack?”
“No. The victim, well, there were no so-called traces of violence. And it wasn’t a theft. She hadn’t lost any money. Ah, but while she never lost hold of her wallet, the victim’s smart phone was stolen. It’s thinkable that her phone contained some inconvenient information to the culprit. Turn that around and it suggests that rather than a thief, the culprit was an acquaintance.”
“Sure enough,” Noboribetsu traced his lips with his index finger, “That they went out of their way to conceal just the smart phone would mean the culprit had some sort of connection to the victim. Perhaps they wished to destroy a mail or call log.”
“Most likely… and more than anything, the victim was stabbed only once from the front. If the culprit wasn’t an acquaintance, they wouldn’t be able to stand right in front of her and do that, right?
Noboribetsu repeated. Chizuru tilted his head.
“So Atami-san. That means the victim must have seen the culprit’s face, right?”
“So you noticed, Chizuru-kun. That’s exactly right. She did see the culprit spot on.”
“Why do you know something like that?”
On Ageha’s question, Atami opened an envelope he had on him and took out a single photograph.
“… The victim left a dying message.”
“Again?” Chizuru gave a cold reaction. “So? Just like last time is it some symbol shrouded in mystery?”
“No, this time’s dying message was clear and simple. At the same time, it’s a message that left quite a dubious problem to the police force.”
Atami left the photo in the middle of the table.
The three high schoolers peered at it.
Red letters. They were probably written in the victim’s blood. Written on the asphalt, they were miserably faint. Seven letters in all, they read…
(TL: Alright, this is the most I’ve every had to change a story as a translator. To preserve the meaning, I’ve changed this from a verbal to visual puzzle, and for that I really apologize.)