-… We’ll need a more detailed explanation.
Disappointment materialised on Isaac’s face, having failed to spot any clues from the three. Rivelia approached him and tried to whisper into his ear, only to be interrupted by Duke Pendleton’s ferocious bellow.
-Get off him! What do you think you’re doing so close to him!
Isaac sighed, having lost his patience for Duke Pendleton’s boundless fatherly love. Rivelia created some distance and spoke.
“We’ve received news that the suspect related to Kalden’s death had been caught.”
“Really? Then let’s go.”
-Where do you think you’re going?!
“My land is still in a mess, you see. I need to resolve the issue myself. It turns out the presence or absence of the boss can greatly impact how quickly these matters are dealt with.”
Isaac wasn’t wrong, but it certainly felt wrong when it came out of his mouth.
-But the meeting hasn’t even started yet.
Isaac smirked at the Emperor.
“Was I ever in a position to determine the Empire’s future in the first place? Just send me a report on the current situation and what to do next—like we’ve always done.”
-We were meaning to determine your punishment here as well.
“I’ll leave everything to you guys. Or shall I leave my Vice Director here?”
-Will you accept whatever punishment we decide on?
“Of course. I sincerely await your wise judgement.”
Isaac responded to the Emperor’s threat with a polite bow, infuriating him all the same. Isaac left the meeting room, and Rivelia—after a moment of pause—followed him out the room.
-M, my daughter!
Duke Pendleton cried out to Rivelia, but he was left dejected. She had left without hesitation, much less than a glance back.
The Queen, who had been sipping her tea blankly until Isaac and Rivelia left, clapped her hands as if she’d just remembered.
-So it was this agent’s fault that we waited all this time for a meeting this short?
-Hm. I must admit though, the information he brought was worth the wait.
-My daughter ignored me…
The Queen’s eyes glimmered like a lion stalking its prey. The Emperor seemed unhappy despite his approval, and Duke Pendleton showed no signs of acknowledgement, his clouded emotions on full display. Soland, standing alone in the room with the highest authorities of Central, quivered nervously. He had just entered a tiger’s den, and his back was dripping with cold sweat.
“Ah! I forgot to ask why the Director of Surveillance wasn’t around.”
Isaac muttered to himself as he walked the streets. The Director of Surveillance had yet to appear despite the many matters requiring their attention. There was a limit to keeping everything a secret; now an insistent curiosity was starting to rear its head, dying to find out what the Director looked like.
“I have heard that the Director of Surveillance was summoned by the Grand Council.”
“Hm? Why’s that?”
Isaac asked back. Rivelia was clearly regretful of following him outside the meeting as she answered him.
“… You left the meeting before they could tell you.”
“I’ll ask them later.”
Isaac avoided Rivelia’s comment with a cough. Rivelia glimpsed at Isaac once and asked.
“How is Laila?”
“The brat? She’s still unconscious. Why don’t you visit her when you have the time…”
“So who is the suspect we caught?”
“His name is Ratt, and he was responsible for managing all of the warehouses.”
“Why does that name sound familiar?”
“Really? Anyway, they caught him trying to escape the city. On him was a bearer bond valued at five hundred thousand giga.”
“Five hundred thousand? He really went wild.”
“But he’s been denying all allegations.”
“We’ll find out when we get there.”
The mercenaries’ residence contained a large field designated for military training, as it was mandated by law to train the citizens of the Empire. By extension then, it had excellent facilities for all sorts of training.
At the field were mercenaries, fully armed. When Isaac appeared, they immediately saluted.
“Huh? What’s this bullshit?”
Isaac watched the mercenaries’ smooth motions apathetically. As Isaac approached, the mercenaries immediately brought him a chair and Isaac naturally sat upon it. Soon, the mercenaries dragged a man up to Isaac.
“L, Lord Isaac, I’m innocent! I did not kill Mr. Kalden!”
The crying man immediately crawled up to his legs and pleaded his innocence. He looked at his face, and Isaac cocked his head.
“Why is this face so familiar?”
Isaac muttered, and Ratt desperately explained to Isaac.
“It’s me! Ratt! The same Ratt who used to work as vice captain of police force under Dinozo and the first to swear loyalty to you and serve you with all I had!”
“Ah! I remember. Didn’t Reisha kill you for harassing her?”
“No! Back then…”
“Whatever. Was it you who killed Kalden?”
“No! This is a conspiracy! I’ve been framed!”
So desperate were his cries that even Isaac was starting to be convinced he wasn’t the culprit.
“He’s saying he’s innocent.”
Isaac kicked away Ratt’s grasp and asked Flander, who was standing at his side rubbing his hands together. Flander confidently showed Isaac the evidence.
“This is the bearer bond of the five hundred thousand Giga we found on him.”
“No! That… I mean… I stole those funds from the casino when I was blinded by greed. I most definitely didn’t kill Mr. Kalden!”
Ratt attempted to grab Isaac’s legs once more, but the mercenaries held him down. Inches away from Isaac, Ratt cried desperately. Isaac passed the bearer bond to Rivelia, who nodded.
“This bearer bond was most definitely stored in the casino for its security.”
Ratt sighed with relief at Rivelia’s confirmation, some colour returning to his face—until Isaac suddenly kicked Ratt in the face. Glaring ferociously at the whimpering Ratt, he asked.
“How did someone like him manage to rob the casino?”
“He most likely joined the mob when they looted the casino.”
“Hah. Sit him up for me.”
The mercenaries grabbed at Ratt’s arms and forced him to look at Isaac, his nose broken and bleeding.
“Lord Isaac, spare me! I’m sorry.”
“Hm? It’s okay. It’s okay. I understand. Everyone can make mistakes when such a large sum of money is dangling in front of them. That can happen. I’m not that petty, you know.”
“Thank you! Thank you!”
Isaac watched Ratt grovel and thank him again and again. He leaned back on his chair and spoke.
“I was planning to have insurance cover all the damage in the casino. You can have that bearer bond.”
“Yeah. Do you think I’d lie?”
“No! You’d never do such a thing.”
“Right? But you see. There’s this one question. I’ll let you go if you answer it for me. You’ll never have to worry about money ever again with that five hundred thousand Giga, right?”
“I’ll tell you whatever I know.”
Satisfied with Ratt’s reply, Isaac smiled and nodded as he asked.
“Why did you try to run now?”
Ratt’s face stiffened immediately.
“It’s strange no matter how you think about it. You saw the mob looting the casino and thought you could capitalise on the opportunity. Isn’t that why you took the money from the casino? Then why did you try to run now?”
“We have no idea who took how much money from the casino thanks to this mess we’re in. So all you had to do was stay low for a while and run away once everything calmed down. You’re nobody important, and no one would care if you disappeared, so why did you try to run now only to be caught? Did you want to spend your haul immediately? Or was now the only chance you had of escape?”
Ratt’s eyes, first blank, changed as Isaac continued to explain. The mercenaries had loosened their grip on Ratt trying to listen to Isaac, which gave Ratt the chance to twist his body and escape the mercenaries. He pulled out a pistol from his pocket.
So swift was his action that not even Rivelia could react. Ratt shot the chest of the mercenary to his left. Bang! The mercenary dropped. Meanwhile, Ratt grabbed the mercenary to his right, wrapping his free arm around the mercenary’s neck and putting the pistol up against the mercenary’s temple.
“Don’t move if you don’t want the hostage to die!”
The mercenaries stood shell-shocked, the death of their comrade caused by a sudden and foreign noise. Rivelia too had her sword only half-drawn.
“… It was you.”
Isaac grinned brightly and stood up from his chair slowly. Ratt stopped back and turned the pistol to Isaac.
“Don’t move! I’ll kill you!”
Ratt wildly waved the pistol at his surroundings before pulling the trigger. ‘Bang! Bang!’ Gunfire met metal in loud clangs as Rivelia deflected the bullets with lightning speed.
“Why don’t you leave it at that? I have so many things to ask you. I think we need to have a long heart-to-heart conversation.”
Isaac approached Ratt with a bright smile—one seemingly reserved for reunions with old friends—when Ratt’s eyes suddenly turned to a murky swirl.
“W, what did I just…”
Isaac felt that something was off about Ratt when his eyes regained its glimmer. He grinned, meeting Isaac’s look.
“You don’t know anything.”
Rivelia shouted but Ratt pushed his hostage away and pointed the pistol up against his chin, pulling the trigger. ‘Bang!’ and Ratt’s head exploded into a bloody fountain.
Isaac watched Ratt’s dead body collapse without a word. He pulled out a cigarette.
“Did you not check for his belongings?”
“He surrendered quietly when he was caught… It’s my fault! I never suspected he’d possess such a dangerous weapon… Kill me!”
The mercenaries looked at Ratt frustratedly. They had been so jubilant about their accomplishment just moments before, only to demonstrate their woeful inexperience in neglecting to check his belongings. It resulted in Isaac in danger and the culprit dead by suicide.
“I’ll overlook this since you’ve all done so well until now. Don’t drop your guard next time.”
“We will remember.”
Isaac clicked his tongue. The mercenaries bowed reverently, at awe of Isaac’s mercy. Meanwhile Isaac grabbed the spent canister. The hot canister was of the same type that had blasted through Kalden’s head
“I don’t get it. Something’s off…”
Isaac muttered as he played with the canister when Rivelia came by after cleaning up the dead mercenary’s body.
“How did Ratt possess a pistol? No, how does he know how to use it in the first place?”
“I know, right…”
That was odd too, but there was something even stranger—so strange that Isaac could not find the words to explain it. Ratt would never have been caught if he could use guns in the first place.