Dan Hayata walked the corridors of the Hall of Records at Star Patrol Headquarters in Tokyo, his dark orange jacket thrown over his shoulder. He was looking for a link across generations, but so far he hadn’t any luck in his search.
He knew that the dead Kana had owned the house destroyed in the first meeting with the Dream Worm. He hadn’t found any relatives or heirs who could be called forward to claim the property. There were also no friends of any kind as far as he could find out. Everyone he talked to said Kana never saw anyone. He was a recluse who liked to draw in private.
Dan walked along the empty corridor, trying to come up with a new lead. His search into Kana’s past had been less than illuminating. The only thing that even looked promising was his life at Tokyo University.
He didn’t believe his teachers could tell him any more about Kana than anyone else, but he just wasn’t ready to let things go. It was an occupational hazard. When things tried to eat you, you wanted to find out where they had come from.
Reaching the main doors, Dan headed for his car in the public garage. A nice leisurely drive might shake some of the cobwebs loose. He pulled on his jacket as he walked. One little clue could blow some of this mystery away, he thought.
“Agreed,” said M-78 from within his mind.
Dan drove through the morning traffic, humming a tune. The Star Patrol insignia on his car seemed to clear a path for him, although the siren and lights he had on contributed as well. He appreciated that courtesy.
He soon pulled into the visitor’s lot on the edge of the Tokyo University’s campus. The place sprawled in a controlled way across the city’s landscape. It was one of the few places where the city’s rule of building upward wasn’t honored.
Dan looked around as he headed for the administration building. The last time he had been here, he hadn’t been admiring the place like he was now. He had been chasing a tengu and hating it. It had been a relief when he and Rei had bagged the thing. He decided it was a nice place to visit now as he started up the front steps of the central building. It was odd how things tended to draw you back to places you had been.
He paused at the counter, looking at the secretary shuffling papers. He hoped she held the answers in her hands. Otherwise, he would be back at the start of his search with nothing to show for it.
“Can I help you?” the secretary said, looking up from her work.
“Hayata, Star Patrol,” said Dan, showing his credentials to the woman. “I need to know everything I can about Izama Kana. He was an art major here. I don’t know the years he was here.”
“Let me check for you, Officer,” said the secretary. She shifted in her chair to key in a search on her computer. “Izama Kana?”
“Her name is Tomika,” said M-78.
Thanks, said Dan to himself. “Yes, madam,” said Dan to the secretary.
“What do you need to know?” said Miss Tomika.
“Let me have the names of his teachers, associates, and so forth,” said Dan. “Then I’ll need to know if any of them are still here on campus.”
Soon, Dan Hayata, escorted by the voice in his head, walked the campus, holding a small list of people who knew Kana when he was in school. Hopefully someone could give him a lead on this new person using Kana’s Dream Worm. Kana himself was unfortunately gone to whatever punishment the afterlife had allotted him.
“Unless he faked his death until he had better control over his creation,” suggested M-78.
Don’t get started, Dan thought to his alter ego. Let’s presume he’s dead and stay with that until something points to otherwise.
“Just a possibility.”
Let’s stick to eliminating the probable before we begin to delve into the impossible, Dan thought as he found the building he had been looking for.
Dan nodded to himself as he entered the graphic design building silently. He wandered the halls, looking for the right room. Soon he found the one he was looking for on the fourth floor. The graying man speaking at the head of the studio smiled as he gave criticism of his students’ work, demonstrating his thoughts with small pencil marks on each canvas.
“Professor Yamamoto?” Dan said, instinctively straightening his jacket as he stood in the door. “I am Sergeant Hayata, Star Patrol. I would like to talk to you about Izama Kana, a former student of yours.”
Yamamoto looked up from his evaluation, his eyebrows crooked upward quizzically. “Keep working, everyone,” he said to the class. “I’ll shall return as soon as possible.”
Dan and Yamamoto stepped out into the hall, and the professor carefully shut the door behind him.
“I haven’t heard that name in several years, officer,” said Yamamoto, frowning. “I don’t know how I can help you after all this time.”
“I just need to know if he was friends with anyone in your classes when he was here as a student,” said Dan. “I am looking into his background and have had a hard time finding anyone who knew him in any way.”
“No one knew Izama,” said the teacher. “He was a ghost. If he hadn’t produced work for class and his portfolio, you wouldn’t even know he came to class.”
“He never associated with anyone?” Dan asked.
“Not to my knowledge,” said Yamamoto. “He came to class, took his assignments, and turned them in as fast as he could. He always turned everything in early, as far as I can recall.”
“Do you have any of his early work?” Dan asked. Maybe there was a clue there.
“I don’t know, to be honest,” said the professor, waving a hand uncertainly. “If I still have any, I am sure a photo would be in a file in my office. My secretary will know better than I.”
“Thank you,” said Dan.
“Don’t thank me yet,” said Yamamoto, smiling. “I doubt any of Izama’s works still exist. He favored fragile mediums to work in.”
“Like chalk?” Dan asked.
“Certainly. My secretary will be able to help you far better than I. I can’t figure out her filing system, to tell you the truth.”
“Thank you, sir,” said Dan, looking for a board with the room numbers on it.
“It’s 206,” said the professor, smiling as he stepped back into his classroom.
Dan walked over to the professor’s office after using the wall boards to find it. He knocked on the door gently.
“Come in,” said a pleasant female voice that reminded Dan of one of his acquaintances he had met through his work.
He stepped through the door, surveying the imposed order on the twin offices. He knew that Yamamoto’s secretary had a place for everything and everything in its place when he saw the workspace.
“Hello,” Dan said, smiling a little. “My name is Hayata. I’m checking into a former student of Professor Yamamoto. He suggested I see you about any paperwork he might have had.”
“What is the student’s name?” asked the secretary politely.
“Izama Kana,” said Dan. “I would like to know if he had any known associates while he was studying here.”
“Not that I know of,” said the woman. “The professor does keep photos of portfolios. Let me get that file. Do you know what year the file would be in?”
Dan gave her the year, wondering if he had met the woman before. He noted that she had avoided giving him her name, and there wasn’t a name plate on her desk.
He rubbed his chin in thought as he waited. If only he could remember where he had met the lady before. Then it wouldn’t bother him so much. The thought he had met her in connection to a case kept intruding in his mind. But which case — the original Dream Worm case, or the several others that he had dealt with on campus over the years?
Dan had met and talked to hundreds, if not thousands of people since he had started piloting for the Star Patrol. It did not bother him to not recall a name to match with a face of someone he had not seen in a while. What bothered him was the feeling he had met the secretary, and she looked completely different to him now.
The woman returned with the portfolio, causing Dan to hide his feelings behind a false smile. She handed him the file silently, and he opened it, slowly thumbing through the photos. Strange landscapes with strange creatures filled every page. Each photo was numbered in the lower right corner. He didn’t say anything when he noticed that one of the pictures was missing.
He handed the file back with a quiet thanks. The secretary ushered him out, watching him walk away with her brow furrowed.
Dan went to the university library next. He hoped the librarian could help him with the mystery he had thought would be a routine check.
“Looking for the photo?” asked M-78.
Just a thought it might be elsewhere other than that scrapbook, thought Dan.
“Why the library?”
Yearbooks, Dan thought as he pushed the glass door open.
The Star Patrolman looked around, spotting the librarian putting books back on the shelves. He walked over quietly, hoping that the picture could be found here. That would help eliminate some suspects while focusing on others. He hoped that, anyway. If it was a lost picture of a drawing, he was back to start with nothing to show for it but a suspicious memory.
“Madam,” Dan said quietly. “I would like to know if you have any yearbooks, and if you do, where a copy would be kept.”
“Certainly, officer,” said the librarian, placing the used books back on a cart. “Please follow me.”
She took Dan to a third story, pointing him to a shelf full of yearbooks. He thanked her as he pulled out the ones he needed. He spent the next few hours turning pages. His instincts told him his quarry was waiting for him to open just the right page. Then he did.
Who do you suppose that is? he thought.
“Kana’s soulmate,” said M-78.
Dan waited for his quarry to finish work for the day. As soon as he had seen the picture, the vague murmuring in the back of his mind had become crystal clear. He only needed one thing to be sure — proof.
So he waited in his issued car for his quarry. Then he fell into traffic and started following the Mitsubishi in front of him. He tried to remain inconspicuous but decided that was hard to do, since his car was a dark orange with the red shooting star emblem of the Star Patrol on the hood. The best he could hope for was to stay at the back of the traffic and keep the target in sight.
“Shouldn’t you call for backup?” suggested M-78.
For what? thought Dan. We don’t have anything but suspicion.