“Everyone, do you have your weapons!”
As the eldest present, Jingūichi had enough determination to take charge of the situation.
“We are going to welcome Mikishima with all our might. Let’s prepare ourselves thoroughly and face the challenge. We cannot afford to let our guard down!”
Everyone held their weapons and double-checked them.
Police batons, stun guns, and crossbows.
Furthermore, both Jingūichi and I, who were scheduled to attend the meeting, wore imported bulletproof vests under our clothes.
It may seem like an exaggeration, but even with these precautions, we could not be completely at ease.
All of these tools were obtained for the purpose of combating zombies.
“Although it appears to be a negotiation on the surface, it is almost certain that this guy is a dangerous individual. Let’s review today’s operation plan once again.”
Yesterday, we had a meeting with everyone after the phone call, but we need to confirm everything repeatedly. Even a small mistake is not allowed.
“After the opponent arrives at the gate, negotiate for only Mikishima to enter the house. If refused, allow only one person to accompany him.”
He wouldn’t make the foolish move of jumping in alone. He would pretend to compromise and allow one escort.
During the phone call, we told him to come with only one car. We didn’t mind if he brought a few companions.
If he came with more than two cars, negotiations would break down at that point.
“The first objective is to confirm Iwaro’s safety, followed by the zombie crisis situation. These are the two main points we need to focus on.”
Although there are other things we want to ask, these are the most important points.
We don’t want to make the mistake of asking for too much and missing out on the important information.
“However, it’s still strange, isn’t it, senior? Why did they try to contact us first? Even if they attacked us without warning, it wouldn’t be surprising.”
“They’re probably cautious of Diya and Yae. The two of them are known in the village due to the commotion they caused. Both of them are active on the internet, and Yae is also a well-known public figure. If they attacked and it was live-streamed, there would be no excuse. Jin-kun, you have taken measures against that, right?”
“Yes. I’ve told it to Hinoyama-san, there are several hidden cameras installed in this house. They have recording functions and can even be live-streamed on the internet.”
“What, there are hidden cameras?!”
Diya leaned back in surprise, not having heard about the hidden cameras until now.
“Wait, there are cameras in the bathroom and shower too? And they can record and even livestream it on the internet?” she exclaimed.
Jin replied, “We didn’t install them, and I have no interest in that kind of thing. Hey, take that back!”
Diya was taken aback. “You have no interest? Well, excuse me for assuming,” she said sarcastically.
“Enough playing around, you two,” Yae admonishes us, pointing her baton at us.
“Okay,” we both reply in unison, lowering our weapons.
“But, is it necessary to be that cautious?”
“In this day and age, anyone can livestream videos. There are even idiots who enjoy posting footage of their disruptive behavior in restaurants on the internet. So, it’s only natural to be cautious.”
Certainly, with just a mobile phone, it’s possible to do anything without the need for hidden cameras.
“If that’s the case, it seems even more unnecessary to have a discussion.”
“I also have my doubts about that. If they ignore us for another week, their plan will most likely proceed without a hitch. Even if we’re cautious, they can simply assign a few people to monitor our movements and respond accordingly if we show any suspicious behavior.”
If I were in Mikishima’s position, I wouldn’t risk contacting us.
It doesn’t seem like we have the power to change the current situation with just one week left.
In fact, I would appreciate it if they could teach us a surefire way to avoid a zombie crisis.
“I don’t understand it, but we decided to use it as an opportunity for us, didn’t we?”
As Diya said, we’ve already decided on this during our discussion yesterday. It’s embarrassing to panic at the last minute. It’s precisely during difficult times that we need to keep a cool head and think.
“It’s time to move. Diya, Hinoyama, and Yae, bring your laptops to the basement and check the situation with the surveillance cameras. If you see any suspicious movements, contact us through your phones. Understood?”
The three of them disappeared together into the basement. Meanwhile, Jinguuichi and I went up to the rooftop and kept watch over the only road leading to our house that the enemy could pass through.
“Looks like they’re here,” Jinguichi said.
Looking through the detective tool I was given, a telescope, I could see a small dot in the distance. It gradually grew bigger and turned out to be a black, high-end German car, famous for being used by politicians.
It was clear that the enemy had finally arrived, and we needed to be prepared for what was to come.
“There seem to be three people inside the car – the driver, the passenger, and one person in the backseat. The person in the backseat is definitely Mikishima.”
There are no other cars in sight, and even though this place is surrounded by nature, it offers good visibility as it’s by the lake. The trees and bushes on the opposite side of the house may obstruct the view, but they are quite far from here. Even if they were hiding over there, it would take them some time to reach here.
“Let’s go, Jin.”
“Okay, let’s go.”
We ran down the stairs and stood in front of the intercom next to the kitchen.
After a while, the doorbell rang, and the scene in front of the gate was displayed on the screen.
There was an elderly man wearing gloves, with a mustache and a gentle smile on his face.
Since the driver’s side door was open, he must be the driver.
“May I ask who you are?”
“I’m the driver for Mr. Mikishima. I believe we’re on time.”
It was 10:00 a.m. sharp, just as they had promised.
“Could you ask Mr. Mikishima to send someone else?”
“Understood. Mr. Mikishima.”
The old man steps aside and the man approaches slowly.
His hair, brushed back behind him, is held firmly in place with hair products. Despite being around the same age as Jinguichi in his late thirties, he looks youthful enough to pass for a man in his twenties or early thirties.
As a former top idol, his good looks are still intact. His face, now imbued with depth due to aging, appears more attractive than when he was younger.
“Long time no see, Jin-kun,” he says.
There was no way I could forget the face of the man who had repeatedly visited the hospital to apologize after causing the deaths of both of our parents in an accident.
“Jin… It’s written all over your face,” Jinguichi whispered to me, and he took a deep breath.
“It’s been a long time. Can I add one more condition to our discussion?” I asked
“Sure, go ahead,” he replied.
Without expressing any dissatisfaction with the sudden request, he calmly responded.
It was an unexpected reaction, but he continued.
“I would like to ask that only Mr. Mikishima enter the house. We will handle things here with me and Mr. Jinguichi.”
“I have no problem with that, but I would like to add a condition from our side as well.”
‘I knew it was coming. This response was in line with our prior agreement. Most likely, he will ask to have one escort accompanying him. We had planned to accept that. Please go ahead,’ I thought.
“I would like to invite your sister, Yae-kun, to join us. I also want to hear stories about that village. It would be more enjoyable with a few more people who were involved,” he said.
This is unexpected. If they’re going to talk about the village, it might be smoother to have my sister, who is one of the parties involved, present. However, my sister…
“My sister is-“
“I understand. I’ll be there,” came the response, interrupting me.
It wasn’t Jinguichi who had spoken; when I turned to look, there was my sister.
“Is it okay with you, sis?”
“Yes. I can’t just run away, can I?”
She smiles gracefully, standing with a dignified posture and meeting the gaze of Mikishima, even through the intercom.
“Alright then, it’s settled. Can you open the gate for us?”
Jinguichi went to the entrance to bring in Mikishima to the living room.
I tried to suppress my restless heart and faced him directly.
His eyes were slightly drooped at the corners, giving off a gentle impression at first glance.
However, the moment I looked into those black pupils that seemed like they were boiled in darkness, a chill ran down my spine.
Just by being stared at by those eyes, I was overcome with an indescribable sense of unease and my whole body was covered in goosebumps.
“Jin-chan,” heard my sister’s voice whispering in my ear causing me to refocus my attention.
I couldn’t let myself get overwhelmed before the negotiations even began.
“Please have a seat on that sofa over there.”
“Thank you, Jin-kun. I hope both of you are doing well.”
Sitting on the sofa, he looked quite dignified.
The three of us sat on the opposite side of the table.
“We are grateful for your willingness to accept our proposal,” Mikishima deeply bowed his head.
Despite seeing Mikishima bow deeply, my guard only increased.
I couldn’t help but be impressed by his courage to boldly maintain his composure while being alone in enemy territory.
“I have one reason for coming here, to provide information. Do you have any questions you want to ask? I’ll answer any question, one by one,” Mikishima said with a condescending tone.
Although his attitude was infuriating, we had to endure it until we extracted the information we needed.
“Mr. Mikishima, what are you thinking? You have no obligation to tell us anything,” Jinguichi said, leaning forward on the table and confronting Mikishima with a strong tone.
He had warned us beforehand that if we got swallowed up by the opponent’s atmosphere during negotiations, we would lose.
“Indeed, there’s no need to talk. However, you see, the most exciting part for a villain is when they reveal their misdeeds. It’s tough to keep such a wicked scheme that could make the world crumble, hidden deep in your heart. Wouldn’t you want to tell someone and see them be shocked?” Mikishima said happily, without a hint of remorse.
His words didn’t register in my mind, and I couldn’t understand why he was so gleeful.
“Why… why are you laughing?” I couldn’t stay calm and had to speak out.
Why was he so happy?
“This is impolite. Was I laughing? Is it okay for me to answer your question about why I was laughing?”
“No, wait. Can you hold off on Jin’s question for now? Is that okay?”
Jinguichi gently placed his hand on my shoulder and signaled me to calm down.
I took a deep breath to release my anger and sat down on the sofa.
Don’t let emotions get in the way. Control yourself, I told myself.
“Then let me ask you a question. What happened to Iwaro?”
The safety confirmation of Iwaro-san, who was the biggest concern.
He brought it up right away.
He brought it up quickly.
“He’s been captured and kept safely by us.”
“Captured, you say?”
“Yes. Unfortunately, he was infected and turned into a “Modoki.” He was uncontrollable, so we had to capture him and put him in a cage.”
With both hands raised to the ceiling as if giving up, he shook his head left and right as if he was disappointed.
“What is a “Modoki?”
“I believe I answered your question, but as a bonus, I’ll explain. “Modoki” refers to the end result of becoming like those zombies.
We originally wanted to create a perfect zombie, but after various research and improvements, what was produced was a zombie imitation. It’s commonly called a “Modoki.”
So they call people in that state ‘modoki.’ And Iwaro… has already become a modoki.”
“What? Did Iwaro turn into a zombie-like creature? What?!” exclaimed Jinguichi, putting his feet up on the table and grabbing Mikishima by the collar.
He tried to hit him with his free hand, but Mikishima stopped him in a hurry.
” Jinguichi -san! Please listen to the whole story!”
“…Sorry, I got ahead of myself.”
He forcefully released his hand and sat down on the sofa with great momentum.
“Well, that’s the end of his questions. Who’s next?”