After finishing breakfast in the infirmary, Yuto gathered what little personal belongings he had.

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An extra shirt, a towel, his toothbrush, and a magazine that Micky had brought him – he tossed all of it into a plastic bag, sat on the edge of his bed, and exhaled.

He hadn’t slept a wink last night.
He had been on his toes ever since he had seen Dick’s burn scar in the shower.
He was shocked and disappointed that Dick had matched all of Corvus’ characteristics, but what bothered him more was that Dick did not appear at all on the FBI’s list.

 

At first, Yuto thought that perhaps the FBI had overlooked him, but they had presumably combed through all the inmates’ histories and physical characteristics.
Why was Dick overlooked as a suspect?

As he waited in a glum mood for Spencer to come on his rounds, he heard a commotion over in the examination room.
The door flew open to reveal Russell, a nurse.

“Someone’s been injured in Block D in the west wing,” he said.
“Apparently he’s not in a state where they can move him.
The doctor and I are going to head over there.
He’ll come around to see you guys later.”

The inmates in the room piped up curiously.

“Who got hurt?”

“Was it a fight between the blacks and Chicanos?”

“The hell I know,” yelled Russell impatiently.
Spencer appeared behind the man.

“I’ll let you guys know once we get back.
I expect you to be on your best behavior.
Dick’ll be here soon.”

After Spencer and Russell left, the inmates promptly began to speculate that a war between the Black Soldiers and Locos Hermanos had already started.
Not in the mood to join their conversation, Yuto quietly left the room.
He sat on the bench in the waiting room, deep in thought.

Once the seed of suspicion was planted, he couldn’t help but think every mysterious thing about Dick was somehow connected to Corvus.
Like two sides of a coin, Dick showed a stony profile one moment, then a gentle smile the next.
He didn’t care which one was Dick’s real face.

The problem was that, once he acknowledged Dick’s two-sidedness, he found he could no longer believe the man wholeheartedly.

Dick was different.
He wasn’t the kind of man to take part in a cowardly act of terrorism.
Yuto paced the room, riddled with irritation.

“Damnit…!”

Out of anger, he banged the door of the examination room with his fist, and the force caused the door to burst open.
Spencer and Russell had apparently forgot to lock it in their haste.

Yuto had a revelation as he realized the opportunity available to him.
He sneaked into the examination room, where a large cabinet sat behind Spencer’s desk at the back of the room.
Presumably, that was where each inmate’s health records were kept.
Yuto opened the drawers at random and rifled through the papers inside.

He found them.
The files were in order of inmate number.

It didn’t take him long to find the folder with Dick’s number.
The white plastic folder contained Dick’s medical examination results, including the medical check sheet that had been completed when he was first admitted into prison.
The check sheet had information such as height, weight, blood type, past illnesses, and descriptions of any scars or tattoos.
Yuto perused the sheet intently, and widened his eyes in disbelief.

The description field under “scars” had been left blank.
There was no entry about his burn scar, nor one about the scar on his forehead.
The sheet was signed by Spencer.
Clearly, something was off.
There was no way Spencer would overlook those two prominent scars.

Yuto put the folder back and exited the examination room.

For some unknown reason, Spencer had deliberately left out Dick’s physical characteristics from his records.
That was why the FBI hadn’t caught onto Dick.
He wondered what kind of relationship Spencer had with Dick.
If they had a connection that went further between doctor and inmate, what was it?

Yuto couldn’t help his thoughts from veering in the direction of a worst-case scenario.
Corvus was sending instructions from inside prison, but it wasn’t easy to hint at the specifics of committing a terrorist act here, since all letters and phone calls were recorded, other than letters to a lawyer.
The likely answer was that Corvus had his own special line of communication.
If Dick was indeed Corvus, it was possible that Spencer was acting as a go-between.
Through Spencer, he would easily be able to communicate with his comrades outside.

If this was true, he needed to contact Heiden from the FBI and have them scrutinize Dick Burnford’s history from cover to cover.
But before that, Yuto wanted to confront Dick about it himself.
He wanted Dick to look him in the eye and give him an answer, in his voice, and in his own words – even if it was a lie.

Unable to keep still any longer, Yuto burst out of the infirmary.
Although he could wait for Dick to arrive, he wanted to catch the man first and find somewhere secluded to talk privately.

The hallway of the west wing was crowded with inmates who had been released after their lockup and roll call.
As Yuto waded against the current of people, he suddenly heard the blare of the emergency siren.

There was a commotion happening somewhere.
Yuto continued walking, unfazed.
But he had barely taken a few steps when someone grabbed him by the arm.

“Hey, Yuto.
Out of the infirmary already?”

Yuto felt his heart stop.
BB was gripping his arm.

“…Let go,” Yuto said hoarsely, his throat going dry.
BB caught on to Yuto’s fear and slowly brought his face closer, like a predator closing in on his prey.

“Don’t be so scared,” he whispered, his voice sickly sweet.
“I told you I’d be gentle next time, didn’t I? You’re my precious bitch now.”

A surge of hot anger overtook his fear; Yuto sharply wrenched BB’s arm off of him and shoved the man’s chest away as hard as he could.
BB’s towering frame staggered backwards, and his cronies hastily came to his aid.

“Like hell I’m you’re bitch,” Yuto snarled.
“There will be no next time, you fucking bastard!”

Yuto made no effort to hide his rage, and BB’s eyes glittered equally angrily back at him.

“Looks like you need to be taught another lesson.
Guys.”

BB’s men swiftly surrounded Yuto.
As the burly black men closed in on him, Yuto took a crouching stance and prepared himself for the attack.

“Send him back to the infirmary,” BB smiled cruelly.
But just as the words left his lips, someone hooked an arm around his neck.
BB’s face contorted in pain.

“Ugh…!”

“You’re the one going to the infirmary.”

It was Dick.
He was putting BB in a headlock, his arm wound so tightly around BB’s thick neck that it looked like it would snap off.

“Don’t worry,” Dick said quietly.
“I’ll take care of you.”

He then took his other hand and plunged something into BB’s ear.

“Aghhhh!”

BB emitted a bloodcurdling cry.
Dick nimbly jumped away from BB.
As the crowd of men watched in stunned silence, he pushed through them and grabbed Yuto’s arm.

“Let’s go!”

“Dick… Dick Burnford…!”

BB was writhing on the ground in pain, yelling Dick’s name.
Something strange was protruding from his ear – upon closer examination, it was a pencil.
BB was bleeding profusely from his ear, and the blood quickly coloured his shoulder crimson.

The Black Soldiers seemed at a loss as they stared at BB rolling around, but they soon came to their senses and began chasing after Dick and Yuto.

Dick and Yuto ran as fast as they could, but were slowed down by the crowd heading to the central building.
The men soon caught up with them.

The mob of black men inched closer, radiating murderous intent.

“Yuto… you up for a fight?” Dick asked.

“Yeah,” Yuto answered promptly.
He knew they had no chance alone against a dozen or so men, but he strangely felt no fear at all when he knew that Dick was on his side.

However, just as the men prepared to fight, a group of different men appeared from the end of the hallway and instantly turned the tides.
The third group to unexpectedly join the fight was the Locos Hermanos.
Without hesitation, they immediately began attacking the Black Soldiers.

In an instant, the hallway erupted in raucous yelling.
Uninvolved inmates ran helter-skelter trying to get away from the fray, while others jumped in to join the fight; the place fell into unrestrained chaos.

“Yuto, get away to the central wing!” Neto said as he came running.
“Go with Dick.”

“I can’t, Neto! I’ll fight with you, too” Yuto protested.

“This is our fight against the blacks.
You need to go.
Quickly,” Neto said firmly.

“But…”

Dick pulled on Yuto’s arm.

“Let’s go,” he said.
“If you stay, Libera will be too worried about you to move as freely as he would like to.
Libera, be careful.
I’ll be praying for your safety.”

Neto gave Dick a resolute nod, and gripped Yuto’s shoulder.

“BB will do anything to try to find you and Dick,” he said.
“That’s why you gotta go somewhere safe.
I’ll be fine; don’t worry about me.
I’ve gotten my guys to guard Tonya and evacuate her, too.”

Yuto left the scene, reluctantly letting Dick draw him by the arm.
While they walked, he looked back over his shoulder to see Neto raise his hand as if to tell him not to worry.
The man then turned and ran back into the fray.

As the emergency siren blared, a group of guards came rushing to the scene to try to subdue the commotion.
However, the inmates’ agitation spread like wildfire, lighting the flames of violence as it moved.
The situation had gotten much too big for a few guards de-escalate on their own.

Once the melee started, it no longer became an issue between races.
The resentment that had long festered inside the inmates had finally found its exit, and erupted like a volcano.

“It’s my fault,” Yuto said.

“No.
This was bound to happen,” Dick said.
“Just now, a black guy who was pro-Choker fell off the third-floor gangway and died.
He was a moderate who was negotiating with the Chicanos after Choker’s death.
BB probably had someone push him off.
I’m sure that was part of what made Libera make this decision.”

As they headed back towards the infirmary, the chief guard, Gasly, came running from the administrative wing.

“Burnford,” he barked.
“What’s happening in the west wing?”

“The blacks and Chicanos have started a war.
Gasly, will you give me the master key? I need to get my package.”

Dick held out his hand.
Gasly gulped.

“Hurry up,” Dick urged.
“I need to get it done while I still can.
This is the only time to do it.”

“―Fine.” Gasly gave a slow nod as if to make a reluctant decision.
He detached one key from the bunch of keys hanging from his waist, and handed it to Dick.

“Yuto, I’ve got business to take care of.
You head back to the infirmary,” Dick said.
“BB might send his guys after you, so I want you to lock the door and take cover.
Understand?”

Dick pushed his back to urge him.
Yuto broke into a run with still no clue of what was going on.
However, he stopped in front of the stairs when he realized something.

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Was Nathan still inside the library? He always headed straight there after morning roll call.
If Nathan was still there, he wanted to take him to the infirmary with him.

Yuto dashed up the stairs and opened the door to the library.
Just as he predicted, Nathan was standing at the window with his back to him, staring outside.

“Nathan!” Yuto yelled.
Nathan slowly turned around.
He was wearing the same smile he always wore.

“What’s the matter, Yuto? You look flustered.”

“There’s a riot in the west wing.
A full-out war between the blacks and Chicanos.
I don’t think the guards can stop them.
Let’s evacuate to the infirmary together.”

“Oh, so that’s what it was.
I knew something was happening, with sirens going like that.
And look – you can see smoke.
Looks like some inmates must have set a bed on fire or something.
Fortunately, the fire shouldn’t get any bigger.
There’s not much that’s flammable around here.”

Yuto felt a mounting irritation at Nathan’s cavalier attitude.

“Now’s not the time to make idle speculation,” he said.
“The rioters might storm this place next.
We need to get out of here now!”

When Yuto yanked on Nathan’s arm, the man gave a wry smile.

“Can you give me a minute first?” he said.
“I want to take some important books and documents with me.
Don’t want anyone burning those.
I’ll be quick.”

Yuto sighed at Nathan’s lack of urgency.

“Nathan…”

“Fine, I won’t.
Don’t give me that fed up look, okay?” Nathan shrugged.
“Let’s go then,” he said, clapping Yuto on the back.

“I’m worried about Dick and Micky,” Nathan murmured as he locked the door to the library.

“I don’t know about Micky, but Dick is safe.
I was with him a few minutes ago.”

“Where is he now?”

“Who knows,” Yuto answered as they started walking.
They were about halfway there when they stopped in their tracks.

Dick had appeared at the stairs.
He was carrying a large backpack that he hadn’t had earlier.

“Yuto? What are you doing here?” Dick said.
“I thought I told you to go to the infirmary.” His tone was severe and reprimanding.
Seeing Yuto here was probably the last thing he expected.

“I just thought Nathan might be in the library, and I…”

“Get over here.
Right now.
Quick!” Dick snapped.

“S-Sure,” Yuto said, taken aback.
But Nathan grasped his arm before he could step forward.

“No, Yuto, you shouldn’t.
Dick is carrying a pistol.”

“What…?”

Yuto glanced over at Dick in disbelief.
Dick had his right hand behind his back.

“Dick, show your right hand,” Yuto said.
Dick slowly brought his hand out.
It was unmistakable.
He was holding a black automatic pistol.

Dick straightened his arm, raising the barrel and pointing it at Yuto and Nathan.

“Dick, why―”

Yuto’s shaking voice was drowned out by the dry pop of the pistol.

Dick had fired a shot at the ceiling.
It was a warning shot, but Dick was serious.
The realization came as even more of a shock to Yuto.

“Don’t try anything funny, Nathan,” Dick said.
“Yuto, you come over here.
Get away from Nathan now.”

Yuto was shaken to find out that it was Nathan that Dick was after.

Why? Why was Dick pointing a gun at the man he had been the closest with? Had he gone mad? Or was Dick really Corvus, and was showing his true cruel colours?

No.
Dick was not Corvus.
There was no way he could be.

“Dick, stop it! Lower your gun!”

By instinct, Yuto sprang in front of Nathan.
Dick continued to come closer with his gun pointed at them.

“Yuto.
Get out of the way.”

“…Gosh darn,” Nathan said lightly.
“So it was you.
I hadn’t ruled out the possibility, but I fell for your tricks completely.
You spent a whole year patiently keeping tabs on me, huh? That’s some willpower.”

Yuto felt an eeriness at how out of place Nathan’s cheerful tone sounded.
Then he felt something cold press against his cheek.
Yuto’s whole body tensed.
Nathan was holding a small knife.

“Nathan…?”

“I’m sorry, Yuto.
You’re going to be my hostage now.
He seems to be very attached to you, so I couldn’t have found anyone better.
Dick, hand that pistol over.
If you make any funny moves, I’ll slit his throat wide open.”

Nathan pressed the point of the blade hard against Yuto’s throat.
It was one unexpected event after another.
Yuto was thoroughly confused.
He no longer had any idea what was going on.

“Come on, Dick.
Do as I say.
Or do you not care if Yuto dies?”

Dick didn’t move an inch.
The gun was still pointed at them.

Nathan pressed down with a little more force, breaking skin.
Yuto felt a small, sharp pain run down his neck.

“Stop,” Dick said sharply.
Nathan’s hand was just inches away from slashing Yuto’s throat.
“I’ll do as you say.
So don’t harm Yuto.”

Dick’s face was bitter as he crouched down, placed the pistol on the floor, and slid it towards Nathan.
Nathan ordered Yuto to grab the gun by the muzzle and pick it up.
When Yuto did as he was told, Nathan grabbed the gun from him and pressed it to Yuto’s head instead of the knife.

“Tell me one thing,” Dick said quietly.
“Were you the one that killed Choker?”

Nathan tilted his head slightly.
“Kill? Never.
I just covered his mouth a little to put an end to his suffering.
And he died easily, just like that.
It made me feel relieved to see it.
He died peacefully without having to read any calming novels.”

Nathan’s voice remained gentle the whole time.
Yuto felt like he was in a waking nightmare.

Nathan had murdered Choker with the same gentle face that looked like it wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Nathan knew Choker would die on his own sooner or later, but had chosen to kill him in that way.

“Don’t try to make excuses,” Dick said.
“You wanted Choker out of the way.
If you killed him, the blacks and Chicanos would start a war with each other, which would develop into a riot.
You were looking for that chance all along, weren’t you?”

“No idea what you’re talking about,” Nathan said, his voice carrying a hint of a laugh.

“Did someone order you to start a riot? Or was this all your decision?”

“Hats off to your sharp sense of smell.
But it looks like you fudged up in the end.
You can’t win against me.”

Nathan shoved Yuto from behind, sending him tumbling to the floor.
Dick ran to his side.

“It’s too bad, Dick.
We could’ve been good friends.”

Nathan lowered the muzzle of the gun.
Dick turned his back to Yuto and shielded him.

“Don’t do it,” he said in a low voice.

Nathan gave a pleasant smile as if he were looking at a dear friend.
His benevolent eyes were like those of an angel.

“What a beautiful friendship.
Or should I say love? Whatever it is, it makes me all choked up.
The least I can do is let you die together.
It’s lonely to go by yourself.”

“Nathan, don’t do it, please,” Yuto pleaded with Nathan over Dick’s shoulder.
“What’s gotten into you? You’re not the Nathan I know.”

Even in this state, he found it hard to believe Nathan’s recklessness.
He wanted to believe it was a mistake.

“You were working so hard for everyone’s sake.
You had such a good heart…!”

“I wanted to try being someone like that – someone the bare opposite of me.
But I’m bored of it now.
I’ve enjoyed myself enough.
The Nathan Clark you know is gone.
It’s time for me to take off my mask.”

“Did you lie about being falsely accused, too?” Yuto insisted desperately.

“Yeah.
It was a lie to get you to trust me.
―But, well, not everything was a lie.
It’s true that I murdered the mother of a guy named Nathan.”

Yuto didn’t understand what he meant, but he was unable to ask any more questions.
Nathan had brought the gun to Yuto’s forehead.

“Goodbye, Yuto.
It was fun pretending to be friends with you.” Nathan’s smiled sadly, as if it really pained him.
His finger tightened on the trigger.

“There he is! There’s Burnford!”

Yelling voices tore through the tense air and rang out across the hallway.
A group of black men came bursting in from the stairs, coming in between Yuto and Nathan.
They were members of the Black Soldiers.

“Lennix is with him! Get rid of ‘em together!”

The unexpected ambush gave them a one-in-a-million chance.

Dick was quick to react.
“Let’s go!” he said, pulling Yuto by the arm and breaking into a sprint down the hall to get away from Nathan.
The mob of black men roared as they came chasing after them.

He heard gunshots ring out behind them.
Yuto turned around to see one of the black men sending up a spray of blood before crumpling to the ground.

“What was that?”

“It’s Nathan! He’s fucking got a gun!”

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The mob fell into a panic as the men tried to flee.
Nathan ruthlessly pulled the trigger again and again, and the narrow hallway soon transformed into a gruesome bloodbath.
Dick and Yuto ran for their lives, and flew down the emergency staircase as fast as they could.

On the ground floor hallway, they ran into a different pair of black men.
Dick managed to land the first move, and his kick sent one of the men flying.
Yuto used all the force he could muster to kick the other one.

“This way, Yuto!”

Yuto followed Dick and as he continued to speed down the hall.
Dick led him to a storage room behind the cafeteria.
Dick used the key from Gasly to open a heavy metal door, and pushed Yuto inside.
Dick locked the door from the inside and exhaled in relief.

“Where’s this?”

“A backup food storage area.
This is where they keep nonperishables.”

There were rows of towering shelves stuffed with cardboard boxes and wooden crates.
Dick moved further inside and opened the door to another adjacent room.

The second room was a small space, about the size of two cells, with a sink, a small dish rack, a table, and a few chairs.
Dick put his backpack and food on the floor, and moved the table and chairs to one side of the room.

“This is the break room for the kitchen workers.
There’s a toilet, though it’s small.
Let’s barricade ourselves in here for a while.”

“Won’t the guards come patrolling?”

“The riot in the west wing has probably spread to the east, too.
They’re gonna be too tied up with trying to suppress the commotion to do anything else.
A riot of this scale could take days to die down.”

Dick found some flattened cardboard boxes in a corner of the room that he dragged over and laid out on the floor.
The two of them sat down on the makeshift mats.
A hefty sigh escaped Yuto’s lips.

“―Okay, Dick, will you tell me what’s going on?” he said, turning to face the other man.
“I have no idea what the hell is happening.
I thought you might have been Corvus.”

Dick smiled wanly.
He knew who Yuto was referring to.

“That’s an insulting assumption to make.
Are you really FBI, then, as I thought?”

“No.
I told you, I was a DEA agent.
My partner really was killed and I was really arrested on false charges.
I didn’t lie to you.
The FBI approached me with a deal after I got my guilty verdict.
They said they could get me released if I could find Corvus in here.”

“I see.
That sounds like something the FBI would do.
―I’ll keep it short.
I’m not Corvus.
Nathan is.”

Yuto chewed on his lip.
He had held a sneaking suspicion ever since seeing the way Nathan was acting, but it had seemed so baseless to label someone as kind and well-liked as Nathan a terrorist leader.
Until hearing the truth from Dick, Yuto had had a hard time bringing himself to believe it.

“The FBI told me that Corvus has a burn scar on his back,” Yuto said.
“I’ve taken a few showers with Nathan before, but I’ve never seen one on him.”

“He underwent cosmetic surgery before being admitted here,” Dick said.
“He probably removed the burn scar then.
He’s not the real Nathan Clark, anyway.
He was impersonating Nathan and hiding out here in Schelger Prison.”

Yuto was even more mystified.
So Nathan had been a cover for Corvus.
Then, where was the real Nathan?

“Is it possible to impersonate someone so easily?”

“Sure it is, if you have a powerful organization backing you.
For example, me.
I impersonated the police-killer Dick Burnford to get into here and search for Corvus.”

So Nathan hadn’t been the only one.
Dick was the same, too.
Yuto was at a loss for words as he stared silently at Dick’s profile.

“Sorry if I surprised you.
You can keep calling me Dick, though,” Dick said, smiling wryly and playfully flicking his finger against Yuto’s cheek.

“―Dick, who are you?”

Dick fell silent for a few moment as if debating his next move.
He seemed to conclude that it was no use trying to hide things now.
He stared straight at Yuto and quietly spoke.

“I’m a contracted agent for the CIA.”

The Central Intelligence Agency.
It was, of course, none other than the White House’s own intelligence organization.
All Yuto could do was stare wide-eyed in stunned silence.

“I was part of the Delta Force until two years ago,” Dick continued.

“Delta Force… you mean the Delta Force, the specialized anti-terrorism unit of the Army?”

“Yeah.
My involvement with Corvus started during my time there.
Want to hear more?”

Yuto nodded without hesitation.
He wanted to know Dick’s past, and everything about the journey that led him here.

“Let’s have some coffee before we start.”

Dick stood up, taking notice of the jar of instant coffee sitting on the counter.
While Dick filled the kettle with water, Yuto helped by setting out the cups.
They put the kettle on a portable gas stove, poured the boiling water into their cups, and sat back down on the floor.

Dick was silent for a while as he drank his coffee.
Yuto patiently waited without rushing him; he sensed that Dick was internally coming to terms with something.
Perhaps his past was not something he could easily talk about.

Dick finished his coffee and put his cup down on the floor.

“This is going to be a long story,” he said first, then opened his mouth to speak.

Chapter 10

After finishing breakfast in the infirmary, Yuto gathered what little personal belongings he had.

An extra shirt, a towel, his toothbrush, and a magazine that Micky had brought him – he tossed all of it into a plastic bag, sat on the edge of his bed, and exhaled.

He hadn’t slept a wink last night.
He had been on his toes ever since he had seen Dick’s burn scar in the shower.
He was shocked and disappointed that Dick had matched all of Corvus’ characteristics, but what bothered him more was that Dick did not appear at all on the FBI’s list.

At first, Yuto thought that perhaps the FBI had overlooked him, but they had presumably combed through all the inmates’ histories and physical characteristics.
Why was Dick overlooked as a suspect?

As he waited in a glum mood for Spencer to come on his rounds, he heard a commotion over in the examination room.
The door flew open to reveal Russell, a nurse.

“Someone’s been injured in Block D in the west wing,” he said.
“Apparently he’s not in a state where they can move him.
The doctor and I are going to head over there.
He’ll come around to see you guys later.”

The inmates in the room piped up curiously.

“Who got hurt?”

“Was it a fight between the blacks and Chicanos?”

“The hell I know,” yelled Russell impatiently.
Spencer appeared behind the man.

“I’ll let you guys know once we get back.
I expect you to be on your best behavior.
Dick’ll be here soon.”

After Spencer and Russell left, the inmates promptly began to speculate that a war between the Black Soldiers and Locos Hermanos had already started.
Not in the mood to join their conversation, Yuto quietly left the room.
He sat on the bench in the waiting room, deep in thought.

Once the seed of suspicion was planted, he couldn’t help but think every mysterious thing about Dick was somehow connected to Corvus.
Like two sides of a coin, Dick showed a stony profile one moment, then a gentle smile the next.
He didn’t care which one was Dick’s real face.

The problem was that, once he acknowledged Dick’s two-sidedness, he found he could no longer believe the man wholeheartedly.

Dick was different.
He wasn’t the kind of man to take part in a cowardly act of terrorism.
Yuto paced the room, riddled with irritation.

“Damnit…!”

Out of anger, he banged the door of the examination room with his fist, and the force caused the door to burst open.
Spencer and Russell had apparently forgot to lock it in their haste.

Yuto had a revelation as he realized the opportunity available to him.
He sneaked into the examination room, where a large cabinet sat behind Spencer’s desk at the back of the room.
Presumably, that was where each inmate’s health records were kept.
Yuto opened the drawers at random and rifled through the papers inside.

He found them.
The files were in order of inmate number.

It didn’t take him long to find the folder with Dick’s number.
The white plastic folder contained Dick’s medical examination results, including the medical check sheet that had been completed when he was first admitted into prison.
The check sheet had information such as height, weight, blood type, past illnesses, and descriptions of any scars or tattoos.
Yuto perused the sheet intently, and widened his eyes in disbelief.

The description field under “scars” had been left blank.
There was no entry about his burn scar, nor one about the scar on his forehead.
The sheet was signed by Spencer.
Clearly, something was off.
There was no way Spencer would overlook those two prominent scars.

Yuto put the folder back and exited the examination room.

For some unknown reason, Spencer had deliberately left out Dick’s physical characteristics from his records.
That was why the FBI hadn’t caught onto Dick.
He wondered what kind of relationship Spencer had with Dick.
If they had a connection that went further between doctor and inmate, what was it?

Yuto couldn’t help his thoughts from veering in the direction of a worst-case scenario.
Corvus was sending instructions from inside prison, but it wasn’t easy to hint at the specifics of committing a terrorist act here, since all letters and phone calls were recorded, other than letters to a lawyer.
The likely answer was that Corvus had his own special line of communication.
If Dick was indeed Corvus, it was possible that Spencer was acting as a go-between.
Through Spencer, he would easily be able to communicate with his comrades outside.

If this was true, he needed to contact Heiden from the FBI and have them scrutinize Dick Burnford’s history from cover to cover.
But before that, Yuto wanted to confront Dick about it himself.
He wanted Dick to look him in the eye and give him an answer, in his voice, and in his own words – even if it was a lie.

Unable to keep still any longer, Yuto burst out of the infirmary.
Although he could wait for Dick to arrive, he wanted to catch the man first and find somewhere secluded to talk privately.

The hallway of the west wing was crowded with inmates who had been released after their lockup and roll call.
As Yuto waded against the current of people, he suddenly heard the blare of the emergency siren.

There was a commotion happening somewhere.
Yuto continued walking, unfazed.
But he had barely taken a few steps when someone grabbed him by the arm.

“Hey, Yuto.
Out of the infirmary already?”

Yuto felt his heart stop.
BB was gripping his arm.

“…Let go,” Yuto said hoarsely, his throat going dry.
BB caught on to Yuto’s fear and slowly brought his face closer, like a predator closing in on his prey.

“Don’t be so scared,” he whispered, his voice sickly sweet.
“I told you I’d be gentle next time, didn’t I? You’re my precious bitch now.”

A surge of hot anger overtook his fear; Yuto sharply wrenched BB’s arm off of him and shoved the man’s chest away as hard as he could.
BB’s towering frame staggered backwards, and his cronies hastily came to his aid.

“Like hell I’m you’re bitch,” Yuto snarled.
“There will be no next time, you fucking bastard!”

Yuto made no effort to hide his rage, and BB’s eyes glittered equally angrily back at him.

“Looks like you need to be taught another lesson.
Guys.”

BB’s men swiftly surrounded Yuto.
As the burly black men closed in on him, Yuto took a crouching stance and prepared himself for the attack.

“Send him back to the infirmary,” BB smiled cruelly.
But just as the words left his lips, someone hooked an arm around his neck.
BB’s face contorted in pain.

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“Ugh…!”

“You’re the one going to the infirmary.”

It was Dick.
He was putting BB in a headlock, his arm wound so tightly around BB’s thick neck that it looked like it would snap off.

“Don’t worry,” Dick said quietly.
“I’ll take care of you.”

He then took his other hand and plunged something into BB’s ear.

“Aghhhh!”

BB emitted a bloodcurdling cry.
Dick nimbly jumped away from BB.
As the crowd of men watched in stunned silence, he pushed through them and grabbed Yuto’s arm.

“Let’s go!”

“Dick… Dick Burnford…!”

BB was writhing on the ground in pain, yelling Dick’s name.
Something strange was protruding from his ear – upon closer examination, it was a pencil.
BB was bleeding profusely from his ear, and the blood quickly coloured his shoulder crimson.

The Black Soldiers seemed at a loss as they stared at BB rolling around, but they soon came to their senses and began chasing after Dick and Yuto.

Dick and Yuto ran as fast as they could, but were slowed down by the crowd heading to the central building.
The men soon caught up with them.

The mob of black men inched closer, radiating murderous intent.

“Yuto… you up for a fight?” Dick asked.

“Yeah,” Yuto answered promptly.
He knew they had no chance alone against a dozen or so men, but he strangely felt no fear at all when he knew that Dick was on his side.

However, just as the men prepared to fight, a group of different men appeared from the end of the hallway and instantly turned the tides.
The third group to unexpectedly join the fight was the Locos Hermanos.
Without hesitation, they immediately began attacking the Black Soldiers.

In an instant, the hallway erupted in raucous yelling.
Uninvolved inmates ran helter-skelter trying to get away from the fray, while others jumped in to join the fight; the place fell into unrestrained chaos.

“Yuto, get away to the central wing!” Neto said as he came running.
“Go with Dick.”

“I can’t, Neto! I’ll fight with you, too” Yuto protested.

“This is our fight against the blacks.
You need to go.
Quickly,” Neto said firmly.

“But…”

Dick pulled on Yuto’s arm.

“Let’s go,” he said.
“If you stay, Libera will be too worried about you to move as freely as he would like to.
Libera, be careful.
I’ll be praying for your safety.”

Neto gave Dick a resolute nod, and gripped Yuto’s shoulder.

“BB will do anything to try to find you and Dick,” he said.
“That’s why you gotta go somewhere safe.
I’ll be fine; don’t worry about me.
I’ve gotten my guys to guard Tonya and evacuate her, too.”

Yuto left the scene, reluctantly letting Dick draw him by the arm.
While they walked, he looked back over his shoulder to see Neto raise his hand as if to tell him not to worry.
The man then turned and ran back into the fray.

As the emergency siren blared, a group of guards came rushing to the scene to try to subdue the commotion.
However, the inmates’ agitation spread like wildfire, lighting the flames of violence as it moved.
The situation had gotten much too big for a few guards de-escalate on their own.

Once the melee started, it no longer became an issue between races.
The resentment that had long festered inside the inmates had finally found its exit, and erupted like a volcano.

“It’s my fault,” Yuto said.

“No.
This was bound to happen,” Dick said.
“Just now, a black guy who was pro-Choker fell off the third-floor gangway and died.
He was a moderate who was negotiating with the Chicanos after Choker’s death.
BB probably had someone push him off.
I’m sure that was part of what made Libera make this decision.”

As they headed back towards the infirmary, the chief guard, Gasly, came running from the administrative wing.

“Burnford,” he barked.
“What’s happening in the west wing?”

“The blacks and Chicanos have started a war.
Gasly, will you give me the master key? I need to get my package.”

Dick held out his hand.
Gasly gulped.

“Hurry up,” Dick urged.
“I need to get it done while I still can.
This is the only time to do it.”

“―Fine.” Gasly gave a slow nod as if to make a reluctant decision.
He detached one key from the bunch of keys hanging from his waist, and handed it to Dick.

“Yuto, I’ve got business to take care of.
You head back to the infirmary,” Dick said.
“BB might send his guys after you, so I want you to lock the door and take cover.
Understand?”

Dick pushed his back to urge him.
Yuto broke into a run with still no clue of what was going on.
However, he stopped in front of the stairs when he realized something.

Was Nathan still inside the library? He always headed straight there after morning roll call.
If Nathan was still there, he wanted to take him to the infirmary with him.

Yuto dashed up the stairs and opened the door to the library.
Just as he predicted, Nathan was standing at the window with his back to him, staring outside.

“Nathan!” Yuto yelled.
Nathan slowly turned around.
He was wearing the same smile he always wore.

“What’s the matter, Yuto? You look flustered.”

“There’s a riot in the west wing.
A full-out war between the blacks and Chicanos.
I don’t think the guards can stop them.
Let’s evacuate to the infirmary together.”

“Oh, so that’s what it was.
I knew something was happening, with sirens going like that.
And look – you can see smoke.
Looks like some inmates must have set a bed on fire or something.
Fortunately, the fire shouldn’t get any bigger.
There’s not much that’s flammable around here.”

Yuto felt a mounting irritation at Nathan’s cavalier attitude.

“Now’s not the time to make idle speculation,” he said.
“The rioters might storm this place next.
We need to get out of here now!”

When Yuto yanked on Nathan’s arm, the man gave a wry smile.

“Can you give me a minute first?” he said.
“I want to take some important books and documents with me.
Don’t want anyone burning those.
I’ll be quick.”

Yuto sighed at Nathan’s lack of urgency.

“Nathan…”

“Fine, I won’t.
Don’t give me that fed up look, okay?” Nathan shrugged.
“Let’s go then,” he said, clapping Yuto on the back.

“I’m worried about Dick and Micky,” Nathan murmured as he locked the door to the library.

“I don’t know about Micky, but Dick is safe.
I was with him a few minutes ago.”

“Where is he now?”

“Who knows,” Yuto answered as they started walking.
They were about halfway there when they stopped in their tracks.

Dick had appeared at the stairs.
He was carrying a large backpack that he hadn’t had earlier.

“Yuto? What are you doing here?” Dick said.
“I thought I told you to go to the infirmary.” His tone was severe and reprimanding.
Seeing Yuto here was probably the last thing he expected.

“I just thought Nathan might be in the library, and I…”

“Get over here.
Right now.
Quick!” Dick snapped.

“S-Sure,” Yuto said, taken aback.
But Nathan grasped his arm before he could step forward.

“No, Yuto, you shouldn’t.
Dick is carrying a pistol.”

“What…?”

Yuto glanced over at Dick in disbelief.
Dick had his right hand behind his back.

“Dick, show your right hand,” Yuto said.
Dick slowly brought his hand out.
It was unmistakable.
He was holding a black automatic pistol.

Dick straightened his arm, raising the barrel and pointing it at Yuto and Nathan.

“Dick, why―”

Yuto’s shaking voice was drowned out by the dry pop of the pistol.

Dick had fired a shot at the ceiling.
It was a warning shot, but Dick was serious.
The realization came as even more of a shock to Yuto.

“Don’t try anything funny, Nathan,” Dick said.
“Yuto, you come over here.
Get away from Nathan now.”

Yuto was shaken to find out that it was Nathan that Dick was after.

Why? Why was Dick pointing a gun at the man he had been the closest with? Had he gone mad? Or was Dick really Corvus, and was showing his true cruel colours?

No.
Dick was not Corvus.
There was no way he could be.

“Dick, stop it! Lower your gun!”

By instinct, Yuto sprang in front of Nathan.
Dick continued to come closer with his gun pointed at them.

“Yuto.
Get out of the way.”

“…Gosh darn,” Nathan said lightly.
“So it was you.
I hadn’t ruled out the possibility, but I fell for your tricks completely.
You spent a whole year patiently keeping tabs on me, huh? That’s some willpower.”

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Yuto felt an eeriness at how out of place Nathan’s cheerful tone sounded.
Then he felt something cold press against his cheek.
Yuto’s whole body tensed.
Nathan was holding a small knife.

“Nathan…?”

“I’m sorry, Yuto.
You’re going to be my hostage now.
He seems to be very attached to you, so I couldn’t have found anyone better.
Dick, hand that pistol over.
If you make any funny moves, I’ll slit his throat wide open.”

Nathan pressed the point of the blade hard against Yuto’s throat.
It was one unexpected event after another.
Yuto was thoroughly confused.
He no longer had any idea what was going on.

“Come on, Dick.
Do as I say.
Or do you not care if Yuto dies?”

Dick didn’t move an inch.
The gun was still pointed at them.

Nathan pressed down with a little more force, breaking skin.
Yuto felt a small, sharp pain run down his neck.

“Stop,” Dick said sharply.
Nathan’s hand was just inches away from slashing Yuto’s throat.
“I’ll do as you say.
So don’t harm Yuto.”

Dick’s face was bitter as he crouched down, placed the pistol on the floor, and slid it towards Nathan.
Nathan ordered Yuto to grab the gun by the muzzle and pick it up.
When Yuto did as he was told, Nathan grabbed the gun from him and pressed it to Yuto’s head instead of the knife.

“Tell me one thing,” Dick said quietly.
“Were you the one that killed Choker?”

Nathan tilted his head slightly.
“Kill? Never.
I just covered his mouth a little to put an end to his suffering.
And he died easily, just like that.
It made me feel relieved to see it.
He died peacefully without having to read any calming novels.”

Nathan’s voice remained gentle the whole time.
Yuto felt like he was in a waking nightmare.

Nathan had murdered Choker with the same gentle face that looked like it wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Nathan knew Choker would die on his own sooner or later, but had chosen to kill him in that way.

“Don’t try to make excuses,” Dick said.
“You wanted Choker out of the way.
If you killed him, the blacks and Chicanos would start a war with each other, which would develop into a riot.
You were looking for that chance all along, weren’t you?”

“No idea what you’re talking about,” Nathan said, his voice carrying a hint of a laugh.

“Did someone order you to start a riot? Or was this all your decision?”

“Hats off to your sharp sense of smell.
But it looks like you fudged up in the end.
You can’t win against me.”

Nathan shoved Yuto from behind, sending him tumbling to the floor.
Dick ran to his side.

“It’s too bad, Dick.
We could’ve been good friends.”

Nathan lowered the muzzle of the gun.
Dick turned his back to Yuto and shielded him.

“Don’t do it,” he said in a low voice.

Nathan gave a pleasant smile as if he were looking at a dear friend.
His benevolent eyes were like those of an angel.

“What a beautiful friendship.
Or should I say love? Whatever it is, it makes me all choked up.
The least I can do is let you die together.
It’s lonely to go by yourself.”

“Nathan, don’t do it, please,” Yuto pleaded with Nathan over Dick’s shoulder.
“What’s gotten into you? You’re not the Nathan I know.”

Even in this state, he found it hard to believe Nathan’s recklessness.
He wanted to believe it was a mistake.

“You were working so hard for everyone’s sake.
You had such a good heart…!”

“I wanted to try being someone like that – someone the bare opposite of me.
But I’m bored of it now.
I’ve enjoyed myself enough.
The Nathan Clark you know is gone.
It’s time for me to take off my mask.”

“Did you lie about being falsely accused, too?” Yuto insisted desperately.

“Yeah.
It was a lie to get you to trust me.
―But, well, not everything was a lie.
It’s true that I murdered the mother of a guy named Nathan.”

Yuto didn’t understand what he meant, but he was unable to ask any more questions.
Nathan had brought the gun to Yuto’s forehead.

“Goodbye, Yuto.
It was fun pretending to be friends with you.” Nathan’s smiled sadly, as if it really pained him.
His finger tightened on the trigger.

“There he is! There’s Burnford!”

Yelling voices tore through the tense air and rang out across the hallway.
A group of black men came bursting in from the stairs, coming in between Yuto and Nathan.
They were members of the Black Soldiers.

“Lennix is with him! Get rid of ‘em together!”

The unexpected ambush gave them a one-in-a-million chance.

Dick was quick to react.
“Let’s go!” he said, pulling Yuto by the arm and breaking into a sprint down the hall to get away from Nathan.
The mob of black men roared as they came chasing after them.

He heard gunshots ring out behind them.
Yuto turned around to see one of the black men sending up a spray of blood before crumpling to the ground.

“What was that?”

“It’s Nathan! He’s fucking got a gun!”

The mob fell into a panic as the men tried to flee.
Nathan ruthlessly pulled the trigger again and again, and the narrow hallway soon transformed into a gruesome bloodbath.
Dick and Yuto ran for their lives, and flew down the emergency staircase as fast as they could.

On the ground floor hallway, they ran into a different pair of black men.
Dick managed to land the first move, and his kick sent one of the men flying.
Yuto used all the force he could muster to kick the other one.

“This way, Yuto!”

Yuto followed Dick and as he continued to speed down the hall.
Dick led him to a storage room behind the cafeteria.
Dick used the key from Gasly to open a heavy metal door, and pushed Yuto inside.
Dick locked the door from the inside and exhaled in relief.

“Where’s this?”

“A backup food storage area.
This is where they keep nonperishables.”

There were rows of towering shelves stuffed with cardboard boxes and wooden crates.
Dick moved further inside and opened the door to another adjacent room.

The second room was a small space, about the size of two cells, with a sink, a small dish rack, a table, and a few chairs.
Dick put his backpack and food on the floor, and moved the table and chairs to one side of the room.

“This is the break room for the kitchen workers.
There’s a toilet, though it’s small.
Let’s barricade ourselves in here for a while.”

“Won’t the guards come patrolling?”

“The riot in the west wing has probably spread to the east, too.
They’re gonna be too tied up with trying to suppress the commotion to do anything else.
A riot of this scale could take days to die down.”

Dick found some flattened cardboard boxes in a corner of the room that he dragged over and laid out on the floor.
The two of them sat down on the makeshift mats.
A hefty sigh escaped Yuto’s lips.

“―Okay, Dick, will you tell me what’s going on?” he said, turning to face the other man.
“I have no idea what the hell is happening.
I thought you might have been Corvus.”

Dick smiled wanly.
He knew who Yuto was referring to.

“That’s an insulting assumption to make.
Are you really FBI, then, as I thought?”

“No.
I told you, I was a DEA agent.
My partner really was killed and I was really arrested on false charges.
I didn’t lie to you.
The FBI approached me with a deal after I got my guilty verdict.
They said they could get me released if I could find Corvus in here.”

“I see.
That sounds like something the FBI would do.
―I’ll keep it short.
I’m not Corvus.
Nathan is.”

Yuto chewed on his lip.
He had held a sneaking suspicion ever since seeing the way Nathan was acting, but it had seemed so baseless to label someone as kind and well-liked as Nathan a terrorist leader.
Until hearing the truth from Dick, Yuto had had a hard time bringing himself to believe it.

“The FBI told me that Corvus has a burn scar on his back,” Yuto said.
“I’ve taken a few showers with Nathan before, but I’ve never seen one on him.”

“He underwent cosmetic surgery before being admitted here,” Dick said.
“He probably removed the burn scar then.
He’s not the real Nathan Clark, anyway.
He was impersonating Nathan and hiding out here in Schelger Prison.”

Yuto was even more mystified.
So Nathan had been a cover for Corvus.
Then, where was the real Nathan?

“Is it possible to impersonate someone so easily?”

“Sure it is, if you have a powerful organization backing you.
For example, me.
I impersonated the police-killer Dick Burnford to get into here and search for Corvus.”

So Nathan hadn’t been the only one.
Dick was the same, too.
Yuto was at a loss for words as he stared silently at Dick’s profile.

“Sorry if I surprised you.
You can keep calling me Dick, though,” Dick said, smiling wryly and playfully flicking his finger against Yuto’s cheek.

“―Dick, who are you?”

Dick fell silent for a few moment as if debating his next move.
He seemed to conclude that it was no use trying to hide things now.
He stared straight at Yuto and quietly spoke.

“I’m a contracted agent for the CIA.”

The Central Intelligence Agency.
It was, of course, none other than the White House’s own intelligence organization.
All Yuto could do was stare wide-eyed in stunned silence.

“I was part of the Delta Force until two years ago,” Dick continued.

“Delta Force… you mean the Delta Force, the specialized anti-terrorism unit of the Army?”

“Yeah.
My involvement with Corvus started during my time there.
Want to hear more?”

Yuto nodded without hesitation.
He wanted to know Dick’s past, and everything about the journey that led him here.

“Let’s have some coffee before we start.”

Dick stood up, taking notice of the jar of instant coffee sitting on the counter.
While Dick filled the kettle with water, Yuto helped by setting out the cups.
They put the kettle on a portable gas stove, poured the boiling water into their cups, and sat back down on the floor.

Dick was silent for a while as he drank his coffee.
Yuto patiently waited without rushing him; he sensed that Dick was internally coming to terms with something.
Perhaps his past was not something he could easily talk about.

Dick finished his coffee and put his cup down on the floor.

“This is going to be a long story,” he said first, then opened his mouth to speak.

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