A Simple Survey:Volume1 File03

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File 03: By Any Means Necessary

Sagittarius would be suitable for the job.

The job was to get the meaning of the term Underclaw 52 out of Shiromae Ayumi.

“…Do you want to leave?”

“I do not know where this is. There is not a single window in here. If this is Antarctica, leaving would be a problem.”

“We are nowhere as horrible as that.”

“Can you really say that while you have me strapped into this chair?”

“But these last few days have taught you that is as far as it will go. I cannot skin you using these metal tools lined up here. It is because you know that that you are calm enough to speak with me like this.”

Shiromae Ayumi had a special condition that prevented her blood from clotting. Even a slight injury could become a fatal one.

As such, they could not use normal methods of torture to get the information out of her.

“Should you really be telling me that?”

“I wanted to keep it hidden, but I’m sure you already knew.”

“Suspicion and confirmation are two different things. Perhaps it was a mistake to admit it.”

As one was the kidnapper and the other the kidnapped, they could hardly build a friendly relationship.

He would make her despise him.

And that would lead to carelessness that would loosen Shiromae Ayumi’s lips.

And an expert like you would know best what comes after that.

“Underclaw 52.”

“You’ve asked me about that again and again. And I have told you everything I know. Which is that I know nothing about it.”

“But in your chats with me you remembered the name of the pet dog you had long since forgotten.”

“I doubt there is a connection.”

“I don’t care what, just tell me everything you know. We will decide whether it is important and whether it is a lie. So just tell us everything. Everything.”

“You seem troubled. I can smell the scent of someone in a stalemate.”

“I hope you understand.”

“Are you in a difficult position?”

“If I fail, it will be me in that chair next. And unlike with you, they will not hold back against me. Also, I will not be released even if I tell them everything I know.”

“I see…”

“Now, let’s get back on track. Underclaw 52.”

“Sorry, but I do not think I can give the answer you want.”

The suspension bridge effect, Stockholm syndrome, Lima syndrome. Sagittarius built those special mental changes into his torture, so he should be able to do it.

Without laying a finger on her, he could drag the information out of Shiromae Ayumi.

“I cannot let you out of that chair, but I can get you some food if you have any requests.”

“I would rather have a jug of water, so I can keep my throat from going dry.”

“I will think about it, but I certainly cannot give you any container that could produce sharp fragments. I hope you do not mind if it is a water bottle.”

“Is there any meaning behind the name Sagittarius?”

“If there was, I would hardly let you know what it was. I sometimes take on names of birthstones and flowers as well.”

“Why do you want to know about the term Underclaw 52?”

“I would like to know just how much value there is in it. So what is Underclaw 52?”

“I wish I knew. Then I could go home.”

If Sagittarius failed, Scorpio would likely take over.

I would be unable to stop it.

Scorpio’s specialty was torture using drugs.

He might be able to get the information, but Shiromae Ayumi’s body would not last. There was a good possibility of her dying before he got the information out of her. If possible, it would be best if Sagittarius got all the information on Underclaw 52.

We only had a few days. Even I did not know the exact number.

“Why do you think a simple high school girl would know this amazing secret?”

“Is Underclaw 52 amazing? Is it a secret? Tell me everything you know.”

“If you know so little, how would you be able to know if I was telling the truth? What if I told you Underclaw 52 was a delicious neighborhood bakery?”

“Aquarius is in charge of determining the veracity of the information, not me. So are you saying Underclaw 52 is a delicious neighborhood bakery?”

“This is a strange feeling.”

“What is?”

“I cannot tell what you are after. It almost seems like you are simply trying to kill time with me in here.”

“I want to get to know you better.”

“For your job?”

“There is one thing I am curious about.”

“(…Why are leaning in toward my ear like this?)”


“(…Because I do not want the people monitoring this to hear.)”

“(…I see. So you want to trick me into thinking you are on my side.)”

“(…Do you even know what this Underclaw 52 is?)”


When Sagittarius left the room, he had arrived at an answer.

He entered a different room that monitored the first room with high resolution cameras to determine the movements of facial muscles, levels of perspiration, and other such things. Once inside, he unhesitatingly pulled his handgun on his colleague.

“…What are you doing?”

“Shiromae Ayumi knows about Underclaw 52.”

“And it is your job to get information on it out of her.”

“Yes, and I would like to eliminate anyone who gets in my way. Your goal is not to learn about Underclaw 52. You want to intentionally make me fail so you can put Scorpio in charge, don’t you? That way, Scorpio’s harsh torture will permanently seal Shiromae Ayumi’s mouth.”

“You fell for it?”

“For what?”

“The suspension bridge effect, Stockholm syndrome, and Lima syndrome you use create temporary illusions of a bond between perpetrator and victim. That is not a one way street. I am saying that you-”

“Using words as weapons is my job.”

“You have fallen for it. You fell for Shiromae Ayumi’s trick!! It is not too late. Put down that gun. The person asking the questions in the conversation was reversed at some point. That is proof that you were falling into Shiromae Ayumi’s trap!!”

“If you are telling the truth, then I should be able to find the truth by getting you to speak.”


Now.

Who lies on the side of truth?