It couldn't be said that being a detective was always easy, especially for a thirteen-year-old. And yet, when it came to young potentials in the field, no one could top Kyoko Kirigiri.
At her age, the young teen had already tackled some difficult cases that even some older detectives wouldn't dare to attempt solving.
Still, she was only a kid, lacking the experience and the maturity needed to always make the right choices. The gloves she wore weren't only there to protect her hands from the current winter cold.
Today was important for the young Kyoko. After all, it was the day her grandfather Fuhito was coming home after a long trip abroad for work. As her only family, the teen couldn't wait to see him again, even if he wasn't exactly the warmest of individuals.
Coming home from the neighboring school, Kyoko ran as fast as her legs could carry her, leaving distinctive footprints in the snow with her high boots.
As she turned around the last corner, the girl's purple eyes widened in fear as she noticed a boy running in the opposite direction. With too little time to dodge him, Kyoko bumped into the boy, falling back in the snow.
"Ow…" She felt a brief burst of pain as she landed, although her fall was softened by the thick layer of white snow. She sighed, watching as the unknown boy groggily stood up.
"I-I'm sorry! I-I didn't mean to bump into you!"
At first glance, the boy appeared to be close to her age. He had brown hair with some sort of antenna spiking at the top, hazel-colored eyes, and wore a hoodie underneath his coat.
Not an unordinary character, from the looks of it.
"It's fine," Kyoko lied. In truth, she wished it had not happened, but she wasn't going to get into an argument with a stranger. Especially since he seemed to be genuinely sorry. When she tried to stand up, the detective was surprised to see a hand extended her way.
After a second, Kyoko accepted his hand, letting the boy help her up. She quickly got rid of the snow on her clothes before sighing again.
"Thank you," she told the boy.
He scratched his temple embarrassedly. "N-No, you're welcome… It's my fault for bumping into you. Are you alright?"
"Yes, I am." She nodded. She thought of dropping it before realizing it would have been a little cold. "What about you?"
"I'm good too, thanks. I've been playing in the snow all day at school anyway, so it's not exactly the first time I fell today…" He sweatdropped with an embarrassed chuckle. "Oh, my name's Makoto Naegi, by the way! Nice to meet you!"
He flashed her a gentle smile. It took Kyoko by surprise. She was so used to being surrounded by criminals that seeing somebody express so many positive emotions through a single smile took her aback.
"O-Oh, um…" She found herself at a loss for words. She wasn't exactly the cheerful type, so she needed a second to find the right words. "L-Likewise… My name is Kyoko Kirigiri."
"Okay! You have a pretty name!" Makoto said, his smile never leaving his lips. "It has a nice ring!"
Kyoko blushed slightly, her cheeks feeling a little hot. "Thank you…" she muttered.
"You're welcome! Are you at the school close to here, Kyoko?" the boy asked, curiosity visible in his hazel orbs.
The young detective nodded. "Yes, I am." Talk about curious… She thought. I don't have much time to talk with a stranger, but I don't want to seem rude, either… "However, it cannot be said that I often go, as I am abroad during most of the school year."
"Oh, you are?!" His eyes lit up even more. "That's so cool! I would love to go abroad one day! There must be so many great things to see outside of Japan!"
The girl rolled her eyes. Except that I do not travel abroad as a tourist… She mused ironically, letting the stranger ramble on and on.
"What is it that you do exactly?" Makoto then asked, becoming more and more captivated by the second. "Are you maybe a fashionista? Or an athlete? Or a pop sensation?"
What is this boy's deal…? Who cares so much about a stranger they've just run into…? Kyoko wondered, almost growing worried. Still, the brown-haired boy didn't seem the dangerous type at all. If anything, he was more likely bullied than a bully.
Before she could reply, Kyoko remembered that she needed to be home soon to see her grandfather again. Chatting with a random boy in the middle of the street was the last thing she should be doing.
"I apologize, but I have to go," she suddenly said. "Sorry for bumping into you. Have a nice day."
Before Makoto could react, Kyoko was running off, letting the boy stand there alone. The young detective hurried, trying to make up for the time she had lost talking with this stranger.
"Grandfather, I'm home!"
With a rare excited smile, Kyoko ran to her grandfather's office. She saw him sitting at his desk, scribbling something.
"Oh, Kyoko. You came back from school late."
He got up from his chair, giving his granddaughter a chance to hug him tight. After what had happened with her "little sister" only a few months ago, Kyoko tried to cling to her only loved one.
"I'm sorry, Grandfather, but I bumped into this weird boy after leaving school, so I lost a few minutes." She bowed her head in apology.
He nodded. "I see. That's alright."
"So, how was your work, Grandfather?" Kyoko asked, noticing a thick folder resting on his desk. "Did you manage to solve the case?"
"Yes, indeed," he answered. "To a trained Kirigiri Detective, these cases are mere trivialities. I expected something more intricate."
Kyoko admired her grandfather's abilities. She genuinely believed there was no case Fuhito Kirigiri was unable to solve. If she could one day be as skilled as he was, Kyoko would be very satisfied.
"One day, you will need to take on these cases, Kyoko," Fuhito told her. "They are nothing to me thanks to my experience, but you are still lacking in that regard." He grabbed her gloves and removed them, revealing Kyoko's burnt hands. "You must never let what happened during that case happen again, understood? You will improve as a detective once you understand that."
She nodded solemnly. The physical pain was gone now, but the emotional suffering would probably always remain. The young Kirigiri Detective had gotten used to the gloves rather easily, but she would never get over why she needed to wear them.
"Yes, Grandfather. I will do my best to become a fine Kirigiri Detective you can be proud of."
"Good, good." He ruffled her hair with the smallest of smiles. "You make your grandfather proud, Kyoko. I know I have raised an intelligent granddaughter, so as long as you follow my advice, I have no doubt that you will succeed."
He turned around and grabbed a smaller folder.
"Actually, I was able to visit the local precinct before getting home," he began, before adding, "They gave me this case file. Recently, three girls were found dead in the same neighborhood, and another has gone missing. The police are lacking leads on the culprit, and I feel this is a case you could tackle on your own, Kyoko."
A shiver ran down the girl's spine. No matter how many horrible stories she would hear or the number of dead bodies she would see, death would probably never leave her indifferent.
"I-I see… I… will do my best, Grandfather."
Kyoko knew she needed to take on intimidating cases if she wanted to grow as a detective. Besides, those victims deserved justice, and this was what detectives were supposed to bring them. It could allow the families to finally grieve, too.
"I am happy to hear that," Fuhito said, visibly satisfied. "You can have this file to study. I would like you to join the next investigation of the latest crime scene tomorrow. I will call your school to tell them that you'll be missing class tomorrow."
"Very well. Thank you, Grandfather."
He nodded again, watching as his granddaughter and disciple accepted the case file. With one last bow of her head, Kyoko left her grandfather's office to go to her room.
Tonight, not unlike other nights, she wouldn't be studying math, Japanese, or geography like other students her age, but a serial murder case.
Kyoko was scribbling notes on her organizer to be fully prepared once she reached the crime scene. After nearly pulling an all-nighter to study the case, she knew it would be unwise to let any detail slip her mind.
It was still snowing in Tokyo, but this did nothing to deter the young detective. After all, if a little snow could stop her, she stood no chance against dangerous criminals.
Now, let's see… The fact that the four victims are girls of roughly the same age is an important fact. She reminded herself. This must mean that the culprit has a special motive. After all, having such specific targets must mean they are after something-
"Hey, you're Kyoko!"
The lavender-haired teen stopped and looked in front of her. A familiar boy was standing in front of her, surprise written across his face.
"Yes, that is me. You are the boy I bumped into yesterday, aren't you?" Kyoko told him. "Makoto, if I'm not mistaken."
"That is me!" he said with a similar smile as the day before. "It's good to see you again!"
And somewhat strange… Tokyo isn't exactly a small city, so what were the odds…? Narrowing her eyes with suspicion, Kyoko asked, "Are you following me? I'm having trouble calling this a mere coincidence."
"N-No, I would never do that!" Makoto exclaimed, evident hurt seeping into his voice. "I was just coming home from a friend's house. I could never follow someone around like this…"
Hm… He sounds honest enough. The girl nodded. "Alright. I apologize for the baseless accusation, then."
He shook his head. "It's alright. I understand why you thought it was weird. Would you mind if we talked for a few minutes? You ran off suddenly yesterday…"
"Oh, right…" I did do that… She recalled. "Sorry. I was just in a hurry."
"That's fine, I understand," he told her with a reassuring smile. "Are you also visiting a friend, Kyoko?"
"No, I'm going to work." The detective crossed her arms. "I don't mean to be rude, but I'll have to get going, or I'm going to be late."
Makoto's eyes widened. "W-What?! You have a job?! Aren't you too young to work?! What is it you do?!"
"In order, yes, no, and detective," she answered nonchalantly. "Now, I'm sorry, but I really have to go-"
"That's so cool! Can I come with you?! Detectives are so cool in movies and stuff!"
This boy's enthusiasm is almost irritating at this point… "Detective work is dangerous. Civilians aren't welcome on murder scenes."
She made sure to put an emphasis on the type of cases she was working on to be sure he wouldn't insist. However, she found herself stumped when this only furthered his will.
"It's no big deal!" he said. "My parents aren't expecting me home until later, so I can come! Pretty please?"
Kyoko sighed. I have three choices. I could accept just so that he stops begging like a sad puppy. I could refuse and threaten to arrest him for harassment. I could also knock him unconscious, so he leaves me alone.
After one more glance at the boy looking at her with eyes full of hope, the detective deemed the last two options a little too cruel.
"Alright, then. You're allowed to watch for a few minutes." Why am I even doing this…? "And you do not touch anything, understood?"
Her eyes darkened as she said these last words, making Makoto gulp in fear. She may have only been a teen, but Kyoko had a look that could silence even the worst of criminals.
"Y-Yes, ma'am!" the boy stuttered. "S-So, where are we going?"
Rolling her eyes, Kyoko took the lead, heading to the crime scene with her unexpected (and so far, unwelcome) assistant.
"Young Detective Kirigiri!"
The lavender-haired girl looked up and noticed a police officer saluting in front of her.
"Oh, good afternoon. Is that where the crime scene is, officer?" Kyoko asked.
"Yes, Detective!" he replied. "The latest body was found right over there! It hasn't been moved yet, as the coroner was asked to wait until you were done investigating to examine it."
"W-Wait, there's a real body?!" Makoto shivered. "Y-You mean it wasn't a joke or something?!"
"Who are you, young man?! Civilians are unauthorized on a crime scene!" the officer admonished, raising his voice. "Go home!"
Kyoko sighed. This is already a waste of time… "It is alright, officer. I'm bringing him along for the investigation."
"Y-You are? B-But… how is this boy going to help you?"
Good question… The girl deadpanned. "You'll see," she bluffed. If she couldn't provide a good enough reason, they would undoubtedly take Makoto away for obstruction and strip her of her investigative rights. "I believe he can help me."
"I-I can-? O-Ouch…!"
Kyoko glared at him as she stepped on his foot with force, her heel almost breaking his bone.
"Forgive him, officer. He is just a little confused as it is his first time at a crime scene," Kyoko added, bluffing to the max. "Well, we will go investigate the body now."
"Alright, ma'am! Good luck to you!" He saluted again, buying her lie without even questioning it.
Kyoko nodded as she walked past him. Makoto needed to second to realize he was supposed to follow after her, which he ended up doing. She got under the police tape. It was second nature to her, but she could see Makoto's eyes sparkling when he did.
It was rare for her to chuckle, but she did when she tried to imagine what his reaction to seeing a dead body would be. It was cruel, of course, but it would surely make him realize that detective work wasn't always "cool."
I don't recall being so enthusiastic before my first investigation, though… Kyoko thought with a roll of her purple eyes. It didn't take her long to find where the body was located.
And whoever their killer was, he enjoyed making a mess, the detective quickly noticed.
"That's a lot of blood…" She kneeled, inspecting the victim's midsection. She looked behind her and noticed Makoto finally arriving at the scene. Well, here we are…
She sighed. "Don't say I didn't warn you."
In his shock, the boy fell on his bottom, his breathing heavy and his eyes filled with terror. This was a lesson he would not soon forget, Kyoko figured.
"B-Blood!" he exclaimed in fear, stumbling backward. "T-There's blood everywhere!"
"This is a dead body, Makoto," she reminded him. "And looking at it more closely, this is a mean stab wound. No wonder the scene is so bloody."
"N-No… I-It can't be real…"
"Hmph. You really can't say I didn't warn you," she repeated, refusing to take any responsibility for any trauma the boy would suffer from. She knew most people her age would react the same way at the sight of a dead body, but she had warned him in advance. "Now, please stand silently while I do my job."
Not wanting (nor expecting) an answer from her "assistant", Kyoko turned her attention back to the victim's corpse.
She quickly understood that the victim had actually been stabbed from behind while running, considering the shape of the blood trail. This meant she had been chased after. Also, the weapon must have had been long enough to pierce her body, as there was both an entry and an exit wound. And considering the shape of them, a knife was unlikely.
So our killer probably used a sword of some sort… Not a typical weapon to use for murder… Kyoko deduced, jotting down notes in her organizer. And from what I seem to recall, all victims were murdered this way…
"Hm?" The young Kirigiri Detective noticed Makoto standing there, a finger pointed at the corpse, his face blue. "What is it?"
"T-This person… s-she was murdered, wasn't she…?"
It seems he's finally getting it… Talk about a wake-up call… Kyoko nodded. "Indeed. I am trying to gather clues to figure out who her killer might be."
The next thing Kyoko noticed was on the victim's chest. It wasn't easy to spot as her clothes were very dark (the drying bloodstain only made them darker), but there was a hair. It didn't match hers neither in color nor length, which was a bigger clue than the hair itself.
This means there might have been a struggle before she ran away. With this, I am almost certain that our killer has very long black hair. This reduces the list of suspects quite a bit.
"I, uh… I'll go get some air elsewhere…" Makoto muttered, oblivious to Kyoko's deductions. "G-Good luck, Kyoko…"
"Thank you." I don't see how luck plays any role in this, but alright…
She watched as the boy walked away from the scene, leaving Kyoko to work on her own – not that things had been any different up until now.
"Oh, my… What has happened here?"
"Onlookers are strictly forbidden, sir. Please go home and let the police do their work."
Kyoko narrowed her eyes and stared as the officer from earlier was trying to dissuade somebody from approaching the crime scene.
"May I know what's going on here, officer?" she asked, walking over to the two men.
"Young Detective Kirigiri! This man says he resides in this neighborhood! He cannot access his home due to the security perimeter we've installed around the scene!" the officer explained. "Should I let him through?"
"This would be most wonderful, kekeke…" the mysterious man muttered. "As much as the incident that has happened here saddens me, I am afraid I cannot allow myself to waste time here."
The lavender-haired girl crossed her arms. I know better than to draw early conclusions, but this man is suspicious… especially with his long black hair… "Before you do that, I would like to interrogate this man. Since he lives here, he might know something."
"Unfortunately, I do not, young girl," the mysterious man told Kyoko. "I'm afraid this mystery eludes me completely."
"Well, that's still up to me to decide," the girl told him, clearly not intimidated in the slightest. "If you would, please?"
With a sigh, the mysterious-looking man joined the young detective under the watchful eye of the police officer.
"May I have your name and occupation, sir?" Kyoko asked, taking out her organizer again to take notes.
"My name is Korekiyo Shinguji, young lady," the man answered, fiddling with the mask he was wearing. "I am a specialist of anthropology."
Anthropology… "So you study human societies?" Kyoko wondered. Her field of expertise was limited to detective work, but Fuhito insisted that she knew a little about everything just to be sure.
It seemed it could be useful once more today.
Korekiyo nodded. "Keke… That is correct, young lady. You are quite knowledgeable. You remind me of my sister and how intelligent she is… I'm sure you would be great friends with her."
"Sure." She dismissed his words with ease. This guy is getting weirder and weirder by the second… Kyoko realized. For now, he's an obvious prime suspect, although I shouldn't accuse him too soon. "Say, where were you two nights ago when this incident happened?"
"Hm… I seem to recall I was attending a special séance until around midnight," the anthropologist said. "It was most interesting, actually."
"A séance?" Kyoko echoed confusingly. "Could you elaborate?"
"W-Wait, you've seen a séance, sir?!"
Both Kyoko and Korekiyo turned around and noticed Makoto walk over to them with a joyful expression, mixed with disbelief. He sure seemed to have recovered from the shock of seeing the victim's corpse quickly.
"That's so cool! There's this video game series I played as a kid in which one of the main characters can channel the spirits of the dead, too!" he said with enthusiasm. "Ever since then, I've wanted to see it happen for myself! I mean, being able to see your deceased family members or friends again… so amazing!"
Channeling the spirit of the dead, he says…? A couple of faces flashed through Kyoko's mind, although she did her best to shake them off. Later. Right now, the investigation.
"Oh, so you know about spirit channeling, boy?" Korekiyo asked. "Most fascinating… So even the young take interest in this realm…"
"Well, perhaps, but this is unrelated-"
"And in the game, the plot ends with a family drama in the family of spirit mediums! Like, a part of the family lacked spiritual power, so they tried to kill the other part out of jealousy!" Makoto cut her, his enthusiasm proving to be too much, even for Kyoko. "And then the Master of the family was killed with a ceremonial sword! It was an antique kept in the family for decades and decades, too! Talk about a gruesome killing!"
"N-Now, now, no need to interrupt your detective friend like this, young boy…"
Yes, that would be appreciated- Kyoko's violet eyes widened so much they almost escaped their orbits. H-Hold on…! "M-Makoto… C-Could you repeat that…?" I-It can't be…
The boy seemed really confused. "W-What part…? I-I mean, I'm not sure any of it could be useful to your investigation… I don't want to be a bother to you…"
"T-The last part, please. About the Master who was killed."
"O-Oh, well…" Kyoko noticed Korekiyo growing more and more nervous. "She was stabbed through the back with a ceremonial sword. It was one thick sword, too, believe me! I remember it had made a real mess at the crime scene in the game, too!"
"Hmph. How interesting." A smirk appeared on Kyoko's lips. "Do you think it would be possible for specialists of spirit channeling to carry such ceremonial weapons with them, Makoto?"
"Hm, let me think… If they really wanted to study the traditions of spirit channeling, I think they would!" he said. "After all, the realm of spirits is really attached to traditions! I wouldn't be surprised if such a person owned some antiques!"
Her smirk only widened as she smiled at the boy. "Thank you, Makoto. This is an unexpected, yet precious clue."
"It… I-It is…?"
"Indeed. If an expert of spirit channeling does own such swords, and our man here has attended a spirit channeling séance on the night a woman was murdered with a sword close to his home…" Her eyes darkened. "I think this case is solved."
Panic appeared on Korekiyo's face as young Kyoko's glare pierced through him and his guilt.
"Korekiyo Shinguji, you are under arrest for the murder of three young girls and the abduction of another!" Kyoko exclaimed. "Everything you say will be used against you during your trial!"
"Oh, so cool! A real-life police arrest! Just like in the TV shows!" Makoto's eyes shined with happiness. "W-Wait, no! Does this mean this man killed the lady over there?!"
"G-Grr… W-We'll see each other again, young lady!"
Before neither Kyoko nor Makoto could react, Korekiyo took off at the speed of light, catching them both by surprise.
"O-Officers! Arrest that man!" she shouted immediately. "Don't let him escape! Under no circumstances!"
Kyoko's eyes darkened as none of the officers were quick enough to react, allowing the culprit to escape. She thought of running after him herself before deciding against it. It was better to call for reinforcements instead.
"How could you let him escape?!" Kyoko asked, her voice going as high as ever. "You can all expect a severe salary cut next month! Call reinforcement immediately! This man is a serial murderer! If anything happens, you're all fired!"
Quickly, the team of officers reorganized to look for Korekiyo, prompting the Kirigiri Detective to sigh.
"Why do I have to work with incompetent idiots…?" she muttered to herself. "Let's hope they can catch him before he kills again…"
"W-Wait, so he really was the culprit?!" Makoto wondered. Kyoko nodded. "D-Damn… t-to say I was just chatting with a murderer…" He shivered. "I-I don't think I could become a detective…"
The girl thought of making a snide remark but didn't. After all, probably involuntarily, Makoto had been a huge help to her investigation. In a way, he had been the one to corner Korekiyo.
So, instead, she bowed. "Thank you, Makoto. Without your help, I wouldn't have been able to deduce he was the culprit."
"N-No, not at all!" He waved his hands around, blushing slightly. "A-All I did was give a piece of trivia I knew about… I just got lucky that it helped…"
Kyoko chuckled. This boy is cute when he's flustered… She thought amusingly. "Well, perhaps. In any case, you may very well be summoned to testify for the trial whenever we catch him. You better tell your parents, alright?"
"O-Oh, alright! M-Man, a real trial now…! That's my lucky day!"
She sweatdropped. He is in a world of his own… "Wait until you've been cross-examined before you say that…" she said, her voice somewhat bitter. "Anyway, I must get going. I need to report to the station. I suggest you head home right away, unless you need psychological help, in which case you should ask an officer here." But considering your bubbly attitude, I think you'll be just fine…
"O-Okay…! W-Well… I hope we can meet again someday, Kyoko! You're an awesome detective!"
"W-What…?!" The Kirigiri Detective felt the blood rise to her cheeks. "D-Don't say this so casually! I-I need to go now! H-Have a nice day, Makoto."
With one last smile from the boy, Kyoko walked away, unaware that they would, indeed, meet again someday, and live a world of adventures together.