(AN: Okay, time to start the Strange Cases series that I’m probably too lazy to figure out where to throw these cases in terms of the main story.)
For quite some time I had been relegated to being “allowed” to do certain types of cases. I know the reasons behind it and honestly, I am annoyed that it is my age and “gender” that are the causes for this.
I can see it in their expressions whenever I’m called in to consult with them about certain situations. Those expressions that look at me with either contempt or belittling me because of how I look. I often have to work harder to show my ability to prove them wrong, but this is an almost never ending cycle.
And quite recently, I have been sent “referred” cases where I can already see that the police do not want to deal with it. Be it a missing cat, or being asked to investigate a cheating husband, even the latter had been the most “controversial” type. Since these were cases that those police detectives didn’t want to do, it constantly made me think that those detectives were just lazy.
There is one person among them that is an exception.
[“This is police detective Sakaki, is this detective Hayate?”]
Police detective Sakaki is probably among the very few police officers who works with me seriously. Though he says that the number is increasing due to my success rate, however I have yet to see the attitude change.
“Yes, this is private detective Hayate. Is there something I can do for you?”
[“I need you to come to the station as soon as possible.”]
“Can you give me any details about what it is?”
[“I can’t. The clients want privacy and asked for you to come quickly. They’ll talk to you about it.”]
“You said ‘clients,’ how many are we talking about?”
[“One sec…two, four, six…thirty-one clients.”]
“That many? I am only one person, I cannot handle thirty-one clients on such short notice.”
[“They’re all related due to certain details, so it’s a single case. You’ll understand once you get here and talk to them.”]
“I understand. I will be there shortly.”
What could be so serious that would have all thirty-one clients linked to a single case? I tried thinking of possible scenarios but none of them that I thought of seemed likely due to too many possible variables.
I left my house to head to the station, I thought it would be an interesting case.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
I did not expect this, the thirty-one clients were all women. Approximately a third of them, still dressed in their uniforms, were also police officers working here and another station nearby.
When I had arrived, they were angrily yelling at detective Sakaki about how no one was doing anything about their case. He was desperately trying to calm them down, when one of them was someone I recognized.
Kyouko Tachibana, a teacher at my school as well as the homeroom teacher for my class. Did she have problems too? Then she grabbed detective Sakaki by the collar. Why is she suddenly trying to strangle detective Sakaki for?!
“Hmmm? Oh, Kanzaki-san. What are you doing here? Are you a victim too?”
“Victim? No, I was called in by detective Sakaki there.”
“What? Called in? Sakaki, you…”
“W-Wait! Kyouko! I don’t know what you’re thinking but she’s the private detective I was talking about!”
Many pairs of eyes were suddenly aimed at me. One particular pair was sending her disapproval at me.
“Kanzaki-san, you should know that our school heavily discourages part-time work. And a private detective is a bit…”
She seemed to be trying to convince me to quit or something. I just looked at her seriously for a moment. Our gazes met as we stared at each other and then she shrugged her shoulders while lightly hitting detective Sakaki’s head with her fist. I could not help but stare in surprise at the two.
“If you’re wondering, this guy’s my husband.”
I looked back and forth between them. I see… I went back to business and asked what was going on.
“Since I was called in. What is the case? Especially if there’s already thirty-one victims.”
“I’ll explain a bit and you can get the details from them. Starting off—“
He explained that all thirty-one were victims of robbery, the items stolen was underwear, only the panties for some reason. All of them were living in big apartment buildings and were on floors above the ground floor. Some were single, some were living in with their current lovers, and the rest with their married partner. It made me assume it was simple robbery but the items stolen did not have monetary value. What exactly is the purpose of this?
“That’s pretty much it. You can get the details from each of the victims, we have the conference room reserved for you so they can have privacy. I hope you can solve this.”
“I will do the best I can.”
After being put into the conference room, I started my questioning of what happened. And a pattern started to emerge.
Their laundry including underwear was left out to dry. The crime happened at night while said laundry was still left outside. They had gotten out of the bath when they found the culprits outside. After stealing the underwear, they escape back down with great skill and with no equipment.
The stranger details was that some of the women here were repeat victims. When I asked details, some of them were robbed only once more, some were robbed almost twice more, while there was only three who were robbed multiple times.
I asked about the brand they were using to see if that was part of the pattern and it ended up in an excited discussion about my mother’s brand. Most of the stolen underwear was the Hatsuko Kanzaki brand that was well known for the quality and affordability. I could not help but sigh as I swore to keep the detail that she was my mother a secret.
On the surface this case seemed to be a group of perverts stealing women’s underwear for some reason. The perverts and their skill level was a bit of concern, it was much higher than the average pervert. But it was the fact that three of the thirty-one were targeted for constant robbery.
“Is there anything you can do? I want my underwear back!”
There was plenty of “Me too!” being shouted my way. I had to think, which was the faster method, to search around or to stake out the victims with repeated robberies. I decided to ask one question to the victims with the repeated robberies. They told me one detail that made me narrow my eyes in a glare.
The three had gotten a look at their robbers and there were three different faces described, that meant that there were three culprits in total. Sometimes the robbers came together so all three were there at one location, sometimes arguing with each other sometimes.
“I need the addresses for the victims that are getting repeat visits from these despicable people. I have a solution that should catch them all at once. Though, just in case—“
I was given the addresses of the repeat victims and I gave my number to each of the thirty-one victims. I told them to call me if anything happened and to tell me their address if the robbers appeared there instead of the places I was staking out. But I had a feeling the robbers would try to visit at least one of the repeat victims soon. I told the victims to be patient while I try to handle this case.
As soon as we dispersed, detective Sakaki came to talk to me.
“So, are you able to solve this one?”
“I think I have an idea how to catch them, but their motive completely eludes me. I mean perverts stealing women’s underwear for what reason?”
“Eh, it’s best not to think about it. Just catch them, we’ll deal with them after that.”
I shook my head thinking I should just not ask.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
It became night and I was waiting hidden away outside the home of one of the repeat victims. I had Fuumi handle the second one, while the rest of my guard were observing the third. I detailed their instructions saying they need to wait until the perverted robbers stole the item before apprehending them. With Fuumi and I, it should be a simple task. Though I am not sure how my guard will handle the last one, I rarely see them in action recently. I gave another order to them to also scare the perverted robbers as well to teach them a lesson. An order I would later regret giving.
After some waiting, my target came in alone with no one else around. From the shifty behavior of looking around, he seemed to be the target I was after. The victim’s apartment was on the third floor and the bait was left there as I instructed. I was curious how he was able to get up there considering there were not any way for him to get up there normally.
Then I saw him climb onto the wall, leap and catch the edge of the balcony of the 2nd floor somehow after kicking off the wall. Then he repeated this again to the 3rd floor. I was surprised that a normal human was able to do that. He grabbed the bait and pocketed it, he started looking into the room to see if the victim was inside.
“You there! Stop what you are doing and surrender yourself!”
He looked at me in surprise when I appeared and looked around in a panic before he leaped down, catching the 2nd floor balcony, leaping off of that, landed on the ground with a roll before getting back onto his feet and began running. What kind of skill is that to do that kind of thing? I had no idea how he was able to move like that.
I concentrated on trying to close to the distance but he kept weaving in and out of places like some kind of monkey and made it somewhat harder to get to him. I had to take his route but take slight detours while keeping track of him. I moved on the wall tops or even using the wall as my footing to run on. I did not know that I would be looked at strange when anyone saw me do that. I kept yelling at him to stop running but he ignored me and kept running on.
He eventually went into an alleyway and I thought he disappeared when I arrived until I heard noise above me. He had somehow climbed onto one of the emergency staircases and was trying to get to the roof. I did not let him think he could escape me. I jumped off of a wall onto another and repeated it as I closed the distance. He looked at me and became scared.
He desperately reached the roof and began running. I wish he would just surrender now, I cannot exactly knock him out so easily when he is constantly doing these bizarre maneuvers. I kept chasing him over several roofs and then finally there was an opportunity I was waiting for, there was a wide open roof with nothing on it. I decided it was now I should take him out.
I focused on my energy on my right foot as I accelerated rapidly and overtook him in that instance. He stopped suddenly as I appeared before him out of thin air. With a single swing of my katana still in the scabbard, I hit him hard in the gut. He collapsed unconscious as I sighed in relief.
“So much for it being easy. That is one culprit down. I wonder how Fuumi and the others are doing?”
To answer my question, my phone rang.
[“Hayate-sama? We have caught our targets. It took some work but we have successfully captured them.”]
“That is good to hear, I just happen to catch mine too. Tie them up and rendezvous at my location. I am on top of a building at–“
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
Before me there were three culprits, all dressed alike. Each had a panty in their pockets and were now all caught. When they awoke, two of the three became scared and apologized many times until I told them to be quiet.
I looked at Fuumi and some of the guards who were here.
“What did you all do to these two?”
Fuumi awkwardly looked away and told me she did a particular prank she was taught by one of her fellow kunoichi. It was a rather bad for the heart kind. Using her Shadow Walker to outpace her target, she always appeared somewhere unexpectedly out of the shadows with only her head showing saying “I found you,” over and over. I can only imagine her target’s sanity breaking each time it happened at unexpected turns. It had gotten to the point where her target could not take it and fainted after the something time.
I asked about the other one to the guards who were here. Though it was hard to tell who they were because of them wearing the exact same suits, shoes, sunglasses and wearing identical wigs.
“…What exactly did you all do?”
Again, it seemed to be a prank taught by someone in their group. The point was to pretend being clones of one person and constantly saying things like “You can’t escape,” or “I know where you’re going to go,” or something like that while speaking in a monotone voice. It seemed to be from a rather well known movie in America called the M*trix, they were copying the villain from that movie. Somehow they even knew his name and constantly were repeating “Mr. Tanizaki,” in horribly accented English over and over. He too basically gave up and surrendered while cowering waiting to be apprehended.
I seriously questioned what my guards were doing in their off times. I sighed as I called detective Sakaki and the victims.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
We were all gathered at the station, myself, Fuumi, detective Sakaki and the victims, all surrounding the three culprits. The culprits were associated with each other because of their skills in an activity called parkour. These three seemed to have taken lessons from somewhere together and had learned the skills and trained hard. On this point, they seem normal.
It was why they decided that stealing panties was for some purpose. As the interrogation continued with a number of interruptions from the victims. Their purposes…were rather stupid.
“Detective Sakaki…is this…normal?”
I groaned out this question barely while covering my eyes with my right hand. The victims were floating between being shocked, annoyed, angry, and disgusted once they heard the reasons.
One wanted to figure out if the woman he constantly stole panties from was a virgin, since he claims he only wants to get a girlfriend that is a virgin. Another was after a certain married woman type and wanted to see if he could steal her away at one point but her husband was always home whenever it happened. The last one was probably the worst, he was looking for a particular woman with the right set of hips and trying to think of how to woo her later to making a baby with him.
I could not process this nor did I want to know how were they going to commit to these stupid plans. The three victims in question that were targeted all fit each of the culprit’s type. I wanted to leave but there were still a few question that needed to be asked.
“Where are the victims’ belongings? What did you do with them?”
When we all heard the answers, the victims all became enraged. The ones already stolen for some time had been ruined in one way or another. I shook my head in dismay as the victims all closed in on the culprits with Tachibana-sensei leading them.
“Should we not stop them?”
I asked detective Sakaki and he raised his hands in surrender for some reason.
“I’m not responsible for this.”
He quickly left and acted as if he had nothing to do with it. I decided to leave the room with Fuumi. Shortly after, we heard three men screaming in agony. I do not want to know what exactly did they do to those three.
After some formalities and such, the case was closed. I heard those three men screaming in agony again even louder. Um…should I really ignore that? I thought in concern until more screaming resounded in the station. I decided I heard nothing, nothing at all.