CHAPTER 1

Wesmin Academy was one of most famous international private schools in the world. All the best derived from it---whether it was a doctor, a scientist, an astronaut, or a Nobel Prize winner. It was made out of hard work, talent, and excellent coaching.

For over twenty years, Mr. Kennedy Pices was proud to lead the academy as a principal. He was a student from it himself. He was academically excellent, and a golf champion himself. He was placed as Best Principal of the Year for five times in a row, and fourteen times in his years of being in the position. Every student loved him, and knew that it was not going to be easy to make him retire and be replaced.

However, it turned out that they were wrong.

December 15, 2005: Just when school was out for the holidays, without any sort of warning or even a word from Mr. Pices at all, he had retired and was about to be replaced.

December 18, 2005: It was announced that Mr. Kamiri Rei, a 35-year-old Japanese teacher, was to fill in the spot as Wesmin Academy's new principal.

Like always, the academy made it onto the front page of the local newspaper once more. Instead of an achievement or event this time, it was the announcing of Mr. Kamiri's arrival. Every person in the city knew by the end of day.

A boy at sixteen plus of age walked down the pathway, a folder under his arm and the newspaper in another hand. On the front of the newspaper was, of course, the article. There was a picture of Kamiri---a man in his mid-thirties, bespectacled and black-haired. He was of medium-sized, had a solemn expression over his face. There was nothing else abnormal about this man at first glance.

This boy stopped at the doorstep of Mr. Kennedy Pices. He pushed his oval-shaped, rimless spectacles up the bridge of his nose, letting out a sigh of white fog from the cold. His handsome face was grim and he swiped a few strands of brown hair from his eyes. If one looked carefully, his name was written in bold on the folder he was carrying, along with his position: Takashi Inoue, President of the Prefect Association, Wesmin Academy. He was there for answers, and was the only one who would stand up and get it straight from the source's mouth. He knew that there was another three years until Mr. Pices was supposed to retire. Not only that, he was in perfect health condition, Takashi had checked. The boy did not like to cower in the dark. If they would not give it, he was to get it himself.

He placed the newspaper under his arm with the folder, and then brought his hand up to knock on the door. Twice, he did---and the door swung open into a crack after that. It was ajar. Takashi frowned a little. He put his hand on the door and gave it a push. It stopped halfway and something blocked it, but the space was large enough for Takashi to poke his head through. The first thing he did was look down.

Everything that he was holding under his arm fell with a thud. The newspaper began to be soaked through by red liquid. Takashi's eyes were wide and filled with shock.

Mr. Kennedy Pices was facedown on the floor, head at where it blocked the door, a pool of blood under him.

---

December 19, 2005: Mr. Kennedy Pices was found dead in his home.

---

Inoue Takashi did not like this news at all. It was worse than the piece about the new principal, in his opinion.

It was kind of natural for him to feel that anyway. He had a sixth sense that provided the best instincts in him. He could trust on that---he was never wrong. Almost. If there was no 'almost' in this, he would be perfect, but no one was perfect, and even he knew that. He was not a very happy person. He rarely smiled, but he was not always in the grim mood anyway. He was just---cool. That was the part where girls loved, if their common taste was not mistaken.

Takashi was seated in Hartwell's Café in town where it was popular with students of the academy. It was quite a busy place, especially during the holidays. The waitresses were on their feet all day, serving customers with their needs. People young and old loved to hang out there at this time, enjoying a warm cup of hot cocoa and watching as the snow fell outside.

He picked up his cup of coffee and took a little sip. On the table in front of him, was the newspaper. This time, on the front page, was a picture of Kennedy Pices---before his death, of course. According to the article, it happened a week ago, and the former principal was shot in the back three times. He had been crawling to the door as if trying to get help, but died before he could reach it. There was no trace of the murderer left at the crime scene. It was very clean---as if the murderer had been professional. Takashi narrowed his eyes at it.

Suddenly, the doors of the café opened, and cold breeze escaped through. They were quickly closed though, after a boy of dark brown hair and wide hazel eyes shuffled in. He brushed snow off his brows in relief, and waved a waitress over. "A cup of hot cocoa, please," he requested. While the waitress rushed off to meet his request, he shrugged off his coat and headed towards Takashi's table. He plopped down across the boy without waiting for an invitation, his eyes already on the newspaper. "So you heard the news?"

"I saw it, more likely," Takashi replied calmly, taking another sip of coffee.

He quirked an eyebrow at Takashi. "Don't tell me you're the mysterious guy who reported the murder."

"I won't have to tell you anyway."

"Seriously?!" He slammed his hands on the table, staring at Takashi.

"Do you have to say it so loudly, Yoshinari?" Takashi asked, settling the cup down once the table had stopped shuddering. "There's a reason I never mentioned my name, you know."

"Oh. Sorry. Anyway, the news was awful," Yoshinari Natsuichi said glumly, slumping in his seat. "Mr. Pices was a nice man. I couldn't imagine him being murdered by someone."

"Try being me," Takashi replied.

Natsuichi straightened up and rested his chin on the back of his hand. "You're awfully calm," he remarked, "for a person who discovered a murder. How did you get out of being questioned and stuffs?"

"My father is an inspector, how do you think I succeeded in hiding myself?"

Natsuichi narrowed his eyes. "Right. And I don't have to guess that you're thinking it has something to do with this new principal we'll be having. I mean, it's very obvious." He paused for a moment as the waitress arrived with his hot cocoa. After she had left, he continued, "December 15, Mr. Pices retired. According to the police, he was dead before December 15, and nobody knew until now. That is, nobody except the murderer. There had to be a connection, right?"

"You can do the talking here then," Takashi answered, lifting his cup once more.

"Come on, Inoue!" Natsuichi said with a scowl, putting his hand down. "You know better than I do. This is a big thing we're talking about. Now that Mr. Pices is gone, who knows what's going to happen to Wesmin Academy."

"Then as prefects, we should be ready," Takashi said, putting his empty cup down. He stood up, taking his coat from beside him. "Prefects meeting on January 2nd. Don't be late." He tossed down a few coins onto the table, and left.

Natsuichi frowned after him. The only thing he feared now was that Takashi will turn into a maniac. After all, nobody could tell what he was thinking...