Date A Live:Volume 4 Chapter 8
Chapter 8: Swimwear Battle
The next day, 21st of June, Wednesday.
It was not a break that was granted due to a holiday……However the Raizen Independent High School that Shidou attends had to take care of issues and suspended lessons for today. Well, it was something that could not be helped. That's because the students and staff of the school had all collapsed, temporarily entering a state of unconsciousness.
It was fortunate that there were no students in critical condition, but due to the school conducting a thorough check in various factors, they decided to temporarily close the school.
"……Well, I guess this counts as a blessing within a disaster."
"……Well then, it is going to be 10am already. Yoshino has already been transferred to the apartment's roof from here. She'll arrive at your location soon I guess."
Shidou sighed after locking up the door. At the same time, Reine's sleepy voice rang in Shidou's right ear.
However, Reine's figure was nowhere to be seen. There was only the miniature communicator in Shidou's right ear.
That's right. Today, Shidou will practice for the date with Kotori tomorrow.
"Well then, what is the training for today? I still don't know what I am supposed to do……"
Shidou lightly tapped his right ear and asked. Shidou was only requested to meet outside their houses with Tohka and Yoshino.
"……Aaah. After meeting with Tohka and Yoshino, go to Tenguu station. The destination is Gemini Building's B block fourth floor. ……Over there, please help the two of them pick their swimsuits."
Frowning. His eyes naturally turned to the right——the direction of the voice. Tohka and Yoshino's swimsuits. The moment he heard that line, his cheeks started to burn.
"……Right, swimsuits. I've already given you money yesterday right? That amount should be sufficient."
"No, al, although what you said is not wrong……but why swimsuits?"
"……Shin. Tomorrow, you are going to the Ocean Park with Kotori correct? In order for you to stay calm on the day itself, it is essential that you have to get used to female swimsuits."
Reine said it as though it were obvious. Shidou narrowed his eyes and scratched his face.
"……No, Reine? Assuming that I will, but I shouldn't be feeling excited from looking at my sister's swimsuit right……"
"……Perhaps. Well, even though it would be great if it were like that, as expected, no——That's why this training is necessary. Kotori will not be the only girl in the Ocean Park. On a rare date with you, it would be troubling if you were to stare at other girls you know."
Shidou wanted to retort with "I won't do that!", but in the next few seconds his face started to burn. It was indeed hard to say that without feeling guilty. Ugu……he grit his teeth, sighing as he nodded his head.
And just like that, the conversation ended and the sound of footsteps could be heard from behind. It should be Tohka or Yoshino who had just walked out of the apartment. Shidou raised his hand and turned around.
"Ooh, good morning——"
Following that, his whole body froze. Standing there was not Tohka or Yoshino, but it was Tobiichi Origami who was wearing a knitted shirt and short skirt that provided a lot of freedom.
Origami wordlessly nodded her head.
"Is something wrong today? Meeting in this kind of place sure is rare——"
Mid-way through his words, Shidou suddenly remembered. Naturally covering his mouth so that Origami would not realize it while softly speaking into the communicator.
"Reine? Don't tell me that this was part of your plans too……?"
"……No, at least I do not have any part in this."
"Is, is that right."
Shidou moved his hand away, scratching his cheek and turning to look at Origami.
"Speaking of which, is your body alright? You were still hospitalized yesterday……"
"The wound itself was nothing much. After they did some checks I was allowed to leave the hospital."
"Is that so……then that's great. What about……Mana?"
After Shidou's question, Origami's eyebrows slightly frowned.
"She has yet to regain consciousness. ……If Mana were to wake up, then I would not have to come here. ——However, this is fine as well. It is great that I am able to meet with Shidou."
"Yoha~, we've kept you waiting~"
Just as Shidou was about to question back, from the apartment that was beside the Itsuka house, voices sounded out. Turning to the direction of the voices, Tohka who was wearing a light-colored halter top and a short skirt as well as Yoshino who was wearing a sundress could be seen standing there.
However, when Tohka, whom had a wide smile on her face, noticed the girl beside Shidou, her eyebrows deeply furrowed. Following that, her face slowly made a wary expression.
"Tobiichi Origami……! You, why are you here!"
Saying that she hurriedly walked closer, cutting between Shidou and Origami, making, "Grr……", such an intimidating sound.
Only that Origami was not afraid of such intimidation and she just kept staring in Yoshino's direction.
"<Hermit>……? Why are you here?"
Yoshino started to quiver in fear. It could be that the previous memories of being hunted down by the AST members were still fresh in her mind, or it could be that she was feeling afraid of Origami's freezing stare.
However, as though trying to protect Yoshino, the puppet in her left hand cut in between them.
"Al~right alright Miss. Please don't bully Yoshino? If you always make a face like that, you're going to have a lot of wrinkles at a young age you know~?"
Origami did not even twitch an eyebrow to that provocation, turning to look back at Shidou.
"What is the meaning of this?"
"Eh, no, this is……"
Shidou became incoherent and his eyes looked all over the place. Now that he thought about it, this was the first time Origami met Yoshino with her powers sealed.
In front of Origami who was still completely unaccepting of Tohka, another spirit had to appear at this time. It was obvious that she would feel suspicious. However, there is no way that he can tell her about <Ratatoskr>.
"……How troublesome. Just make something up."
"Then, then what should I do……"
After Shidou, who had received such instructions from Reine, revealed a troubled expression, Tohka who had been unable to join in their conversation exaggeratedly waved her two arms.
"Do, don't ignore me! You, I'm asking you what are you planning to do!"
Origami looked at Yoshino again before sighing, turning her eyes to look at Tohka.
"——Yatogami Tohka. I have something to ask you."
"What did you say?"
Tohka frowned in surprise. This was an unexpected line even to Shidou. She was definitely intending to ask Tohka why she was looking for Shidou.
"What is it, what do you want to know?"
"Yesterday. Do you still remember the spirit who appeared in the air clad in flames?"
The one whose breath was held due to Origami's question was not Tohka who was being questioned but Shidou.
So that's what it was. No wonder he was wondering why she would ask Tohka, whose relationship with her was bad to begin with. It became clear once he thought about it. When Kotori appeared on the roof, there were only Shidou, Origami, Mana, Kurumi and Tohka, making up five people. Locking on to Tohka, who was the last person on the list, was something that could not be avoided.
Shidou frowned as he pleaded for help in his communicator.
This is not going as smoothly as planned. Indeed, when Kotori had appeared, Tohka was there as well. The probability of her recognizing Kotori's appearance was extremely high.
"……Please calm down, Shin. It shouldn't be that easy to find out."
Shidou could hear his own heartbeat accelerating wildly, turning to look at Origami and Tohka.
It should be best to prevent Tohka from saying anything. ——No, doing so would cause Origami to become suspicious. No, if this were to continue then——
Then, just as Shidou was desperately thinking of a way out, Tohka crossed her arms and spoke.
"Hmph, even if I know anything I wouldn't even tell you!"
Saying that, she went "Hmph——!" and puffed up her cheeks.
Shidou let out a sigh. ……The bad relationship between the two seemed to have displayed its usefulness in this kind of situation.
However, this issue wasn't resolved just like that. Origami remained silent, and standing there, she quietly took a step backwards, lowering her head.
"I beg of you."
The unexpected development caused Shidou's eyes to widen in surprise. That Origami, actually lowered her head to Tohka.
Tohka seemed to have the same reaction as Shidou. Widening her eyes in shock, her head frantically moved with an expression of being unable to stay calm.
"No, don't do this! Wh, what is your motive!"
"Please tell me what you know about the spirit of flames. Please."
"I, I got it already! I got it already so raise your head. It's uncomfortable."
Tohka yelled out like that, Origami quickly raised her head.
"Uuh……The spirit of flames right. I have seen her."
As expected, Tohka did see Kotori's figure. Tohka's words made Shidou's body tense up in a panic. ——However.
"That is……That is, uwu, crimson."
Origami wordlessly looked at Tohka.
"Uu? And then……that's right, she was strong!"
"Is that all?"
"Uu. That is……She gave the ‘Uwa!' feeling!"
Origami once again fell into silence before opening her mouth once more.
"You, what did you say!? I took the trouble of answering you, what kind of attitude is this!"
"To think that my expectation of you was that of my fingernail, I was really foolish. It would be more valuable to view the images and sound recordings instead."
"How horrible of you, since you said it like that……!"
"Al, alright alright, calm down."
Shidou heaved a sigh of relief, tapping Tohka's shoulders.
Although Tohka looked furious, she still listened to Shidou, pouting as she calmed down.
"——Then again, what are you people doing?"
And then, Origami looked at Shidou, Tohka and finally Yoshino as she spoke.
"Hmph, who would tell you that we are planning to go and buy our swimsuits with Shidou!"
Origami's eyes turned to look back at Shidou.
"No, well, that……is how it is."
"Is that so."
Saying that, Origami suddenly turned around and walked off. Just like that, walking back the way she came from.
But, she stopped walking after a few steps, making a clap on purpose.
"Speaking of which, I only have a swimsuit given by the school."
Saying that, she held her hand to her forehead, exaggeratedly shaking her head.
"If this goes on, when I go to the pool or the beach, it would be troubling."
Shidou did not say anything, Origami turned her head back.
"It would be troubling."
Shidou scratched his face due to being thrown into an extremely troublesome situation, Reine's calm voice sounded out.
"……Shin. There's no other way. Invite her along as well."
"Is, is that okay……? That, Tohka and Yoshino."
"……It's not that it can't be helped. Even if you do ignore her, she will follow us eventually. Also, having more girls as specimens isn't a bad thing."
It was a scene that could be easily imagined, Shidou's face started to perspire as he bitterly smiled.
Making a big sigh, he turned to face Origami who was still making those obvious actions.
"If it's alright with you, you can come along too, Origami."
The same time Origami nodded, Tohka looked shaken as though she suffered a big shock.
"Wh, why shidou! Today was supposed to be just shopping with shidou, Yoshino, [Yoshinon] and me! Why must Tobiichi Origami come along too!"
"Al, alright, don't be mad. She seems to be troubled by that."
"Guu……Then I'll ignore her."
Tohka grit her teeth with an expression as though she could not accept the situation.
Thus, Origami did not mind her at all as she nodded her head.
"Since you dislike me so much then it can't be helped. Then I won't go with you."
"! Wh, what did you say?"
Getting a fright due to the lack of her resistance, Tohka's face had a look of surprise.
And then, Origami moved closer to Shidou with light footsteps, wrapping her arm around Shidou's and planning to walk off just like that. Tohka showed an expression of utter shock as she could not immediately register what was going on.
"W, wait a moment! What are you doing!"
"I am going to buy my swimsuit with Shidou. You can go with <Hermit>."
"Wh, why did it turn out like this!"
"You've said it, that you dislike being with me right. So this can't be helped."
"Wh……Just because of that! I didn't mean it that way——"
Midway through Tohka's words, Origami put more force into her pulls. Because of the sudden force, Shidou was dragged a few steps just like that.
"shidou! Dammit——Let go already!"
"But, if it's like that you will only have to go shopping with me."
"Is, is that so……!?"
"That's right. This is something that can't be helped."
Making a troubled voice, Origami confidently nodded her head. A while later Tohka, "Guh......", nodded her head while speaking with a tinge of remorse.
"I, I understand, I am fine going shopping with the likes of you. Now get away from shidou!"
"Is that so. But I don't want to."
Tohka's face took on an expression of surprise.
"If you want to go together, then beg me."
Tohka looked at Shidou and Origami, not understanding why things turned out like this.
"It's alright if you can't do it. As long as Shidou and I are together, nothing else matters."
"P, please wait! I, I beg you! Please let me go with you!"
Looking at Shidou who was having his arm tightly held by Origami, Tohka cried out loud. Origami lessened the force she put into her grip, slowly looking at Tohka. Following that, she spoke in a gentle voice.
Tohka widened her eyes in shock, with an expression as though she would burst into tears at any moment.
Unable to watch any longer, Shidou narrowed his eyes and sighed.
In the end, Origami tagged along with them. Throughout the trip, the relationship between Tohka and Origami had become extremely perilous——Well but this was no different from how they usually acted in school. Entering the elevator of the Gemini Building's B block in front of Tenguu Station, he pressed the button leading to their destination.
Due to the fact that there usually aren't many customers in the afternoon, the ones riding in the elevator were only Shidou and the others.
"Speaking of which, shidou."
And then, as the elevator started its sounds of movement, Tohka suddenly inclined her head.
"Uh? What is it?"
"What is it, swimsuits?"
Shidou widened his eyes as he asked back. But then again, the gym lessons at school still had not conducted any swimming lessons. It was understandable that Tohka did not know anything at all.
Although that was the case, it was rather embarrassing to explain it to a girl. Shidou avoided her gaze as he spoke.
"Um……That's right, a swimsuit is——"
"——Mi-Zu-Gi. It is one of the latest weapon models for anti-spirit use. Activated at the same time as the Realizer that it is equipped with, the bullet tips are disintegrated to the size of atoms, shooting out and penetrating the Astral Dress with ease, the opponent's body cells will suffer an immense level of damage that is impossible to recover from. The pain suffered is indescribable, due to it being too inhumane, international laws have banned it from being used on humans."
And then, Origami said random things to mess up the truth. Tohka held her breath in shock.
"Wh……is, is that true shidou……!?"
"No, how can that be……"
Shidou tried to correct Tohka's misunderstanding, however he was once again interrupted by Origami.
"It's true. I never thought that he knew, about the existence of the swimsuit."
"Wh, why does shidou want to buy such a thing……"
"There is a simple reason to it. An anti-spirit military suit that is only used against spirits. He must be planning to make a surprise attack when you two let your guard down."
Tohka's face turned pale and stiffened while Yoshino who was hiding behind Shidou's back to avoid Origami also held her breath.
"Do, don't lie! How can shidou do such a thing!"
"……, I think……so too, that can't be, right……"
Tohka shouted out and even Yoshino who was normally silent voiced out.
"Is, isn't that right, shidou?"
Just as Shidou was about to nod his head and agree, Origami held her nose, speaking up.
"No, it's just like Origami said. I've always been planning to kill you two——"
"Do, don't tell me shidou, you're really……!?"
"That's not right, she doesn't sound like me at all, you are being deceived!"
Shidou cried out while Tohka looked shaken as though she was shocked. Looks like she finally realized that she had been taken for a ride. Her face flushed red from rage and embarrassment, and she started furiously gnashing her teeth.
"Damn you, despicable Tobiichi Origami! How dare you deceive me!"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"……The two of you, please quiet down when you go into the store."
Shidou stepped in and stopped the two girls from quarreling, letting out a sigh. Although it was a common occurrence, bothersome issues still remain as bothersome as ever.
"A swimsuit is like what it is called, it is clothing that you wear when you go swimming."
Shidou gave a simple explanation, Tohka finally withdrew her animosity towards Origami, tilting her head in wonder.
"Swimsuit…..? We have to change clothes just because of this?"
"Aaah. It's uncomfortable to wear wet clothes that cling on to your body right?"
"Oooh, so that's why! shidou, are you a genius?"
"That's not it, since I'm not the one that thought of it in the first place."
Scratching his cheek, he bitterly smiled.
Leaving the elevator, what entered their vision were rows upon rows of swimsuits. It was already late June. It must be the best time for the store to sell swimsuits at this period.
"……Well then, though it took some time, we're starting soon. Please choose an appropriate one."
And then, Reine who has stayed silent the whole time, suddenly spoke.
"……I'll leave the choice to you, but please don't panic over their charming figures. What's important is that you must remain calm."
Shidou said that as he stepped into the swimsuit store with Tohka and the others. "Welcome——", The sales assistants' voice rang out.
The first one to run up was Tohka. She looked around the store with an air of curiosity, tilting her head.
"Then, shidou. Where are the swimsuits that you spoke about?"
"Uh, all of the ones displayed here are swimsuits."
"! Wh, what did you say……?"
As Shidou finished his words, Tohka widened her eyes as her two hands trembled.
Tohka hesitantly took a one piece swimsuit for a closer look, stroking it as though ascertaining its fabric quality, suddenly raising her head as though she realized something.
"I see, so that's how it is. Then what do you wear over it?"
As Shidou scratched the back of his head and replied, Tohka looked over with a wary expression.
"Th, this can't cover the body at all! Why is the surface area so small……!?"
"No, well……because that makes it easier to move around doesn't it?"
"Uu, uu……even though what you say may be true, but doing it like so, won't it be like the tights that Tobiichi Origami has……It's kind of embarrassing."
Tohka's words made Origami's gaze turn dark. Although nothing was said, but there was an unhappy feeling coming from her.
"……Well, first of all please get them to try some out."
Reine said as such through the earphone. Shidou tapped it lightly to acknowledge, speaking to the three of them.
"Al, alright……first of all please pick your favorite one and try it on."
Origami immediately nodded and agreed while Yoshino nodded embarrassedly. Looking at the two of them, Tohka's face blushed as well, opening her mouth to say "……just this once."
Clenching her fists, she turned to Yoshino in a battle ready stance.
"Alright……it's win or lose, Yoshino!"
"Th, that is……please……go easy on me."
Looking at the conversation between the two, Shidou tilted his head in confusion.
"Win or lose……what does that mean?"
"Um. Today whoever makes shidou's heart beat the fastest between Yoshino and I will be entitled to have a date with Shidou."
Shidou widened his eyes as he tapped the earphone. Immediately, he heard the sleepy voice of Reine sound out.
"……Uh, anyway I've only slightly increased the difficulty."
"Ho, how is this——"
"Speaking of which shidou!"
And then, Tohka suddenly made a sound, cutting off the conversation between Shidou and Reine.
"Wh……what is it, Tohka?"
"shidou, what must you do so that your heart would beat faster? Is it running? Do you have to run far?"
"……That will, nn, definitely make my heart beat faster."
Shidou's face had a few beads of sweat as he smiled bitterly. Indeed, doing that would undoubtedly make his heart beat faster.
However, at this point [Yoshinon] on Yoshino's left hand made a chuckle.
"Aah~haha, that's not correct~. In order to make the heart of a boy race, there's only one way."
"Uu? What must I do?"
"Um~, Well, although I don't wish to aid Yoshino's opponent, but winning against someone who doesn't know a thing is not fun at all~. Alright alright Tohka-chan. Come here for a second." Saying that, [Yoshinon] waved its hand. After Tohka walked closer, using a voice inaudible to Shidou, it seems like it whispered something to her. Following that,
At the same time the conversation ended, Tohka's face *Pom!* turned red.
"Well, although it's a given that Yoshino will win, but please do try your best~"
[Yoshinon] pulled Yoshino into the interior of the store. Tohka saw them off with a dazed expression.
"Hey, hey, Tohka……? What exactly did——"
After Shidou placed his hand on her shoulder, Tohka's body trembled as she made a weird cry.
"Uu……No, I'm sorry. It's nothing. But……like this, it's a little troubling. shidou's heart won't race if I don't do that huh……"
"That's not it, tell me what you heard just now!"
After that, Shidou yelled out, and Origami silently emerged from behind him.
"——I've grasped the rules. The right to date Shidou is mine."
"Wha……! Th, that has nothing to do with you isn't it!"
Tohka stared hard at Origami with a straight face. However Origami did not mind at all, selecting a few swimsuits and walking into the fitting room.
"Gu……I, only her, I definitely won't hand over the right to date to her……!"
Tohka tightly held her fists, taking the swimsuit by her hand and walking into the fitting room beside Origami's.
It somehow feels like everything had already been decided. Shidou scratched his cheek while looking troubled.
Looking in Yoshino's direction, it looks like she still hasn't decided on a suitable swimsuit. It seems that Yoshino wishes to try on a one piece, but [Yoshinon] kept encouraging her to try on sexy swimsuits that boast of a high degree of exposure.
After looking at that, the curtain of the fitting room that Tohka just walked into was forcefully pushed aside.
Saying that, Tohka, who was wearing a one piece, shyly revealed her figure.
Shidou couldn't help but widen both eyes. Tohka was a real beauty, having outstanding proportions without a doubt. However, the chance for him to view her from her head to her toes was extremely rare. The swimsuit itself had an extremely simple design. But it was due to this fact that further emphasized Tohka's undeniable beauty, furiously stimulating his heart.
"H, how is it, shidou! Did your heart race just now?"
"Is that so! Since shidou already put it like that……Nn, I'll work harder!"
Saying that, Tohka showed a slight smile of happiness. As such, seeming to have detected Shidou's heart rate, his right ear heard an alarm that he had gotten used to hearing.
"……Out. Calm down for a second, Shin."
After being pointed out by Reine for the first time, Shidou finally realized that he was blankly staring at Tohka's figure. He dazedly heard Reine sigh.
"……No matter the reason, since you failed then you must accept the punishment."
Punishment. This ominous phrase, made Shidou's back experience a chill.
"W, we are still going on with that……!? Wh……what exactly is……"
When Kotori was still around, the punishments were always mortifying to the extent that he felt that he cannot get a bride anymore.
Shidou had been constantly hurt like that. Naturally, he put on his guard.
However Reine kept quiet for a while, seeming to be talking about something with the crew members of <Fraxinus> at the other side of the earphone. After that, a few seconds later.
"……What should we do then."
She said that sentence. He involuntarily gave a dry laugh.
"D, didn't you think about it?"
"……Uh, I'm not the same as Kotori, I didn't grasp your weaknesses……"
That was obvious. If his weaknesses had been grasped then Shidou would really have a reason to cry. Even if he was a boy.
Reine was in deep thought, a few seconds later, she made a sound as though she had just thought of something.
"……Alright, we'll do it this way then. After Kotori's power as a spirit is sealed, you will sneak into Kotori's bed at night and kiss her on the cheek, saying ‘Sweet dreams, My. Sweet. Sister.'."
The unexpected punishment game made Shidou yell in anguish.
"……From today onwards when we are in a situation where Kotori is absent, we can also release the video recording as a punishment. ……Well then, please do your best. Every time you are out, the scenarios are just going to pile up."
However Reine seems like she is not going to accept Shidou's protests. Shidou pressed his forehead with a heart full of despair.
After that, while Shidou was in the midst of thought, the curtain beside Tohka's opened.
"……!" Looking at that figure, he couldn't speak for a while.
Origami's slender figure was being wrapped by a halter-top bikini. Due to the swimsuit being a darker color, it caused Origami's white skin to be further emphasized, especially the thighs and collarbone that were usually hidden under the clothes, even the belly button was revealed. Furthermore, her hair was tied in a bunch to match her swimsuit, making her difficult not to look at. Shidou felt his cheeks naturally heating up.
"Shidou, how is this?"
"……! Eh, aa, aaah……I think it fits you……very, well."
"Is that so?"
Origami remained motionless, but she nodded her head as though she was glad, stepping out of the fitting room while barefooted, she spun around once in front of Shidou.
That look really causes one's heart to race. As such, for the second time, an alarm rang in Shidou's ear.
"……Aside from the good night kiss, you will also have to accompany her to sleep."
"——! Oh, crap!"
He couldn't help but waver, but it was too late. He was already out with another despairing punishment game.
Shidou, at this moment, noticed that Tohka was making a low growl. Directing a sharp glare towards Shidou and Origami, she grit her teeth in regret.
"shidou! Bring that swimsuit over!"
What Tohka was pointing at, was a bikini that was hung near Shidou. When compared to the swimsuit that Tohka was currently wearing, it was a sexy design that was four times as revealing.
"Th, this one? But Tohka, won't you be embarrass——"
"Just, hurry up and hand it over to me!"
Being ordered by Tohka, Shidou had no other choice but to hand the swimsuit over. Tohka snatched it over as though she were attempting to tear it apart, closing the curtain. Subsequently, after a chaotic sound came out from behind the curtain——
"H, how is this one!"
The next moment the curtain opened, Tohka's figure appeared once more with a totally different impression from the previous one.
Wearing the daring bikini that Shidou had just passed her, her cheeks were tinged red, using her hands to cover her thighs and belly button——however her hands kept fidgeting with an expression of being totally unable to calm down.
"This, this is……"
Shidou couldn't help but gulp. Although the swimsuit that Origami wore just now was extremely eye catching, but Tohka's present look had a different kind of charm. The black bikini and Tohka's healthy figure complemented each other. Furthermore, Tohka's shame of not being used to exposing her skin to this extent had also contributed to her appearance. To be honest, it was unbearable.
"……Well then, let's add on with a good morning kiss."
Reine's voice entered his right ear, causing Shidou's body to tremble. Due to being entranced by Tohka's seductive appearance. He was out before he could even talk back.
"shidou, this, does this look good on me……?"
Tohka fidgeted as she questioned him. Shidou nodded his head in reply.
"Tha, is that so!"
However, Origami at this moment also had her fighting spirit riled up. Wordlessly walking inside the fitting room.
Not long later the curtain opened, standing over there was Origami's figure that had already changed back into her casual clothing. If she had wanted to compete with Tohka, shouldn't she change into a swimsuit that had a much larger skin exposure compared to Tohka's……!? For Shidou who had mentally prepared himself, it was an unexpected move.
It looks like Tohka had the same thought as Shidou. Looking at Origami's clothing with a face full of surprise, she crossed her arms around her chest and made a sound with her nose.
"Hmph, so you decided to admit defeat. So you do have some common sense after all!"
However Origami ignored Tohka's words, remaining silent as she motioned her hand for Shidou to come over.
"Eh? Wh, what's the matter?"
Shidou, though suspicious, approached Origami, Origami grabbed Shidou's wrist, moving it towards her own skirt.
"Wh, what are you doing, you!"
Shidou wildly cried out, and Tohka too became flustered upon witnessing that scene.
However Origami had a look of utmost calm, silently parting her lips.
"——Lift it up."
Shidou and Tohka's voice perfectly overlapped. Although his right ear seemed to have picked up an alarm, he didn't have the spare time to pay attention to that. Not understanding Origami's actions, his vision started to wander about.
"Wh, what are you talking about Origami. This kind of——"
"That's right you, you are already going against the rules!"
"I've been abiding by the rules. Shidou, raise it up."
"No, tha, that is really……"
Shidou's fingertips trembled as his voice started to become incoherent, Origami's hand that was tightly gripping onto Shidou's increased in strength. Slowly, her skirt was being lifted up.
"Wa, wait a moment, Origami……!?"
Even though he tried to resist, it was futile. Slowly but surely, the forbidden triangle territory was revealed. What was even more depressing was, Shidou too was a male. Even though his vision was all over the place, he couldn't help but peep at the area below the skirt.
Underneath Origami's casual clothes was, a white swimsuit.
"This……! What is this!?"
Tohka cried out in surprise.
"I've said it before. I didn't break any rules."
Seemingly being very satisfied, Origami sent her gaze towards Tohka.
So that was the case, making use of creativity. Not raising the degree of exposure, on the contrary, raising the degree of concealment.
If that was the case then the destructive power of the swimsuit would explosively increase by multiple times. It was her victory. As expected of Raizen High School's genius. Shidou's overheated brain pondered over this issue in a daze.
"In conclusion, the one that made his heart race the most is me. ——I'll be accepting the right to date him."
"H, how can this be……"
Tohka walked to Shidou's side with an expression of panic, placing her ear onto his chest.
After several seconds of hearing Shidou's heartbeat, she showed an expression of shock.
"Hi, his heartbeat increased……"
Origami calmly flipped her skirt.
"Why don't you just admit defeat already?"
Tohka ground her teeth as though regretting something, taking hold of Shidou's right hand that Origami had just let go of.
Not understanding Tohka's intentions, he widened his two eyes.
Tohka's face turned red and her two hands held Shidou's right hand, saying "Alright" as though she had her determination set on something.
"Yoshinon……I believe in you……!"
Saying that, Shidou's hand was forcefully dragged towards her direction.
Shidou exerted force in the nick of time, interrupting her actions.
That was because his hand's destination was——being wrapped in a swimsuit, Tohka's soft breasts.
"Wait, wh, what on earth are you trying to do Tohka! Stop this already!"
"N, no no no……! I want to make your heartbeat faster too, Shidou!"
"Alright alright! It's already beating fast enough!"
Tohka's eyebrows bent into an [八] shape, once again paying close attention to Shidou's heartbeat.
After that, a few seconds later.
"Your heart was beating faster when Tobiichi Origami did it……!"
Crying aloud in despair, Tohka tried to press Shidou's hand onto her own chest once more. Due to her feeling extremely embarrassed, her face was as red as a tomato.
"Wait, wait a minute! Calm down Tohka! You're embarrassed too right!? It's impossible!"
"It, it's okay……! It's fine if it is shidou! You've already touched them before right!?"
"What is the meaning of this? I hope you can explain it in closer detail."
"Don't just concentrate on that fact alone, why don't you stop heeerrr!"
And then, as Shidou yelled in despair, the next instant.
A sound like a mosquito seemed to have sounded out.
Tohka and Origami seemed to have noticed it as well. Suddenly stopping in their tracks, they frowned in surprise.
"Uu……that voice just now was......"
"It should be……Yoshino."
Shidou concentrated, once again trying to hear that weak voice once more.
"Shi…..dou-san…… P, please…..please……save me……"
It seems that the sound was coming from the third fitting room.
——Save me. The instant he recognized that phrase, Shidou hastily ran over, pulling the curtain open.
"……! Yoshino, is something wrong!? Are you alright!?"
The curtain had been forcibly opened. And then——over there was.
Although she was wearing clothes, Yoshino was still remaining in a half naked state, in a situation where the bikini swimwear had just been worn, she was holding on to her chest while crying.
How do you put it, that look. It had an amazing effect when coupled with Yoshino's petite figure, releasing huge amounts of coquettish charm that would cause Shidou to have forbidden sexual tendencies.
"It, it's difficult……to wear it, if I'm only using one hand……"
Yoshino softly said.
By his ear, the most sonorous alarm sound for today rang out.
……That was the instant the winner of the right to date Shidou was announced.
"Haa……Why does today have to be so tiring……"
Reclining on the chair inside the lounge of <Fraxinus>, Shidou heavily sighed. Bringing the paper cup to his mouth, he finished the coffee inside in a single gulp. Although it was a lounge, it was in reality nothing special. There were only a few (free) automated vending machines located in some of the indents of the wall, and in front of the machines were two long benches. It was a simple space that had two tall plants for aesthetics purposes.
Of course there was another dining area that was more comfortable, however Shidou preferred places with less human traffic. ……Especially since today was such a taxing day.
"It's fine if it was just training, but what would I do if I run out of energy before the actual event……"
In the end Shidou bought swimsuits for the three girls as a present, returning home for lunch.
After that Reine called him out to reconfirm about the details of the plan. Midway through he was dragged out for lunch by Tohka and Yoshino, wasting a considerable amount of time.
He was hoping to speak to Kotori at least once, but due to her unstable condition his wish was unable to be granted. Plainly said it was because there was nothing for Shidou to do until tomorrow, thus as a result he was allowed to do as he pleased and therefore he was feeling lost as to what to do.
He looked at the ceiling in a daze, lightly giving out a sigh.
It was fine up till just now......it was only halfway through that due to those needless thoughts, it caused himself to become like this.
To describe it in detail would simply be——what he had heard yesterday, his conversation with Origami.
(Five years ago. The one that caused the huge fire at the residential district of Nankou-machi, the spirit who burned my parents to cinders in front of me.——That was, that spirit of flames.)
"Could it......really be, Kotori......?"
Kotori. Shidou's little sister, killed Origami's parents.
This sort of thing, is too sudden for him to believe and he too did not wish to believe it to be a fact.
However, he can't believe that that Origami would pull such a prank, that too was the truth.
"So......what exactly is the truth?"
Attempting to search his memories from five years ago, inside Shidou's brain——that restricted area caused a sharp sensation of pain.
That's right. Shidou still had not recalled the entirety of the whole incident.
——What exactly happened five years ago.
——Why does Shidou, or Kotori know about the method to seal the power of the spirits.
No matter what it was, he was unable to recall. It was as though Shidou's memories have been fitted with a strange filter, a horrible feeling.
"Excuse me, do you mind if I sit over here?"
And then, the voice of a male rang out from above him, causing him to jump.
Looking in that direction, it was Kannazuki who was holding a packet drink stood.
After Shidou said those words, Kannazuki gave a light smile and sat down.
"How do you feel, Shidou-kun. Are you confident for tomorrow's events?"
"No, haha......to be honest, it's impossible to be calm right now. To me, asking me to make that Kotori fall in love is something that is really unthinkable. It's unbelievable that five years ago I was able to seal Kotori's pow——"
Midway through his words, Shidou stopped speaking. Before all that, he had no memories of that at all.
"......? Is something wrong?"
Shidou described his inability to recall the events from five years ago to Kannazuki.
"Mhm......no memories, huh......"
"......Yeah. Only that incident has been obscured."
"Well, it is as I had expected huh."
Shidou widened his two eyes, Kannazuki brought the packet drink to his mouth as he replied.
"Well, it was that time when we first said that the Commander was a spirit, your reaction was more surprising than I had thought. If you had remembered the events from five years ago, your reaction would probably have been different."
Kannazuki placed the drink packet on the bench, placing his hand under his chin as though thinking of something.
"Mhm. If it is alright with you, would you want to view a video?"
After questioning with his eyebrows knitted together, Kannazuki nodded his head exaggeratedly.
"That's right. We have the video recording of that huge conflagration at Nankou-machi from five years ago. Although it is only a few minutes long, but the figure of Shidou-kun and the Commander in spirit form was captured."
Shidou held his breath, widening his eyes. It was a good thing that he had finished drinking the coffee. If he were still holding onto the packet drink, he would most definitely had caused a huge mess on the floor.
"Does that sort of video still exist!?"
"Nn. It seemed to have been captured by chance by a certain television station, <Ratatoskr> had intercepted the master copy before they could release it to the public. ——Are you ready?"
"I, I'm counting on you......!"
No matter what. Shidou hastily nodded his head in reply.
"Origami!? You should have contacted us sooner, like the moment you were discharged."
After parting ways with Shidou, she went down to visit the CR-Unit hangar inside Tenguu Base before going home. Kusakabe Ryouko, leader of the AST, said such a line to her.
Wearing work pants and a black tank top, she looked as though she were in the middle of moving some supplies with a clipboard placed under her arm while in her other hand was a pen. Due to the CR-Unit being highly classified equipment, only a few people were allowed access to it. Even an active member such as the AST leader is not spared from these menial chores.
Origami slowly closed her eyes and shook her head.
"I've been on an extremely important mission."
"Important mission? Speaking of which what is that?"
Ryouko raised her eyebrows, pointing to the paper bag that was in Origami's right hand. Origami brought the bag close to her chest, silently opening her mouth.
"This is, a gift that is priceless——At the same time, it is something that has the bitter taste of defeat engraved upon it."
"Ah......? Wh, what do you mean?"
Ryouko's face twisted in confusion, staring at the paper bag Origami was holding. ——Well, there was only the swimsuit that Shidou had bought for her inside.
"I will never forgive <Hermit>."
"Wait a minute, why are you mentioning <Hermit> here?"
And then, as Ryouko questioned with a bead of sweat rolling down her face, a vehicle with a crude design moved closer while dragging a gigantic piece of equipment.
"Oooh. Alright Origami, you'll have to move back for a while."
Saying that, Ryouko waved at Origami. Origami moved in the direction of her hand.
At this moment, she saw the equipment that was brought in. Wrapped up in protective bubble wrap, it was a massive Unit that could be more than five meters long.
After Origami's question, Ryouko used her pen to write on the clipboard as she answered.
"Uh—, it's a new experimental equipment. DW-029, Destruction Armament <White. Licorice>. two sets of the Large-sized laser blade <CleaveLeaf>, two of the 50.5cm magic cannon <Blastalk>, and eight containment units <RootBox> that can store a large amount of weaponry. It is an unusual Unit that is able to bestow upon a single person with the firepower of a section of the AST."
Origami wordlessly looked up at that oversized armament.
"If I use this, can I defeat <Efreet>?"
"Haa? What are you talking about. You can't use this. Whether it is authority or the skills that you lack. This is an experimental equipment from D.E.M industries. Well, if we look at it based on theory, it truly is an equipment that is sufficient enough to take down a spirit......However I heard that even those highly specialized <Wizards> from D.E.M. are rendered into a vegetative state if they use it for thirty minutes at full power. I'd say that you'd better give up on that thought of using it."
"......This kind of equipment, why is it here?"
"Uh, it looks like the higher ups of D.E.M, probably sent it here intending for it to be used by Mana. Well, it's useless if our dear Mana remains in a deep sleep."
"Is that so."
"Then again......<Efreet> you say? Are you referring to the spirit of flames that appeared five years ago? Why did you mention her name? She has not appeared even once after five years ago since she was identif——"
And suddenly, Ryouko's words were cut off.
Giving Origami an incredulous look, she snapped her fingers as though she recalled something.
"Aaah, that's right. ——So that was <Efreet> huh?"
"......, what do you mean?"
Origami raised her eyebrows slightly, turning her body towards Ryouko. Just like that, she took a step forward, moving closer as though cornering Ryouko. Ryouko seemed to have been shocked by Origami's frightening actions, taking a step backwards and leaning back.
"Wh, why are you doing this suddenly?"
"That doesn't matter, tell me."
"Even if you ask me to tell you......The day before, when you and Mana were battling <Nightmare>, wasn't it <Efreet>? That spirit of flames?"
Origami held her breath, drawing even closer to Ryouko.
"How did you know about the appearance of the spirit of flames?"
"How......that's because, I saw the video image......"
Widening her eyes. She had never expected that in a place that was so close, she was able to grab a hint on <Efreet>.
"Wh, what is it?"
"I beg of you. Please let me see that image. ——Right now, immediately."
"——That was, really......"
Shidou and Kannazuki went from the resting lounge to the briefing room where they were holding the strategy meeting yesterday. After that, Kannazuki sat on the same seat as yesterday, manipulating the control system on the round table.
"I'm really sorry, the preparations weren't enough. If we were using the Vice-commander's terminal, the image would be clearer."
"No, I don't mind at all......But is that video really stored in here?"
"That's not right. The video itself is not stored within <Fraxinus>. It is stored within the database back at our headquarters."
Due to the unfamiliarity of the term Shidou felt somewhat suspicious——However upon deeper thought he found it to be logical. The <Fraxinus> was an airship. Even if it is powered by a Realizer, it was impossible for it to stay in the air all the time.
"However, doesn't that mean that it is fine as long as there is a network connection? Then wouldn't it be fine even if it wasn't in the Vice-commander's room?"
"Well, even though you can put it that way, the image there is larger and it is more suited to view videos in detail.——Oooh, it's appearing. The video."
The same time Kannazuki said so, the screen placed in the middle of the round table started to play the video.
A corner of the street, it was a video that was taken from the sky. Just that the images shown were dotted in crimson, it looked as though it were oilfields or the mouth of a volcano. It was unimaginable that countless people were living there a few hours ago, a purgatory of flames.
From the speakers, the sounds of a helicopter engine could be heard, as well as the male voice of a reporter. From time to time, the sounds of violent explosions were mixed in, causing the images to shake slightly.
Shidou involuntarily frowned. It was a horrifying scene that was out of his expectations. The conflagration which had occurred where he had stayed, although he did remember that such an incident happened, he didn't expect it to be so bad.
"——Well then, it's almost time."
And then, Kannazuki who had been viewing the image with Shidou spoke with a calm voice.
The helicopter turned around, gradually lowering in altitude. At the same time the image was zoomed in, becoming blurry. After an instant, the focus was readjusted.
"——, That is."
And in the next instant, looking at the object near the edge of the screen, Shidou's throat trembled.
In the heart of the street. It was different from the rest of the place, the house that should have been there was burnt to ashes, in that location that looked like barren ground, a familiar figure can be seen.
It was originally a video from a long time ago, coupled with rough pixelation from the distance, unsteady image from being taken in mid-air and multiple negative factors, it caused the image to be extremely bad. However, Shidou felt that he was not mistaken.
That's right. Over there was Kotori wearing her Astral Dress, the same as he had witnessed the day before at Raizen High School.
At her feet, a small shadow collapsed there. Eyebrows locked, he focused on the shaking images.
Shidou's lungs contracted, making a short and soft sound.
That, was located in front of Shidou and Kotori. No——existing is probably a better word to describe it.
In front of the two, [Something] existed.
To ordinary people, that could be just the noise that appeared in the video.
However, that's not right. That was. That shadow was——
Instantly, Shidou used his hands to hold his head, kneeling down on the spot.
The instant he saw that, the stabbing pain that had been within Shidou's head expanded, transforming into intense pain and assaulted him.
"Shidou-kun? What's wrong?"
Kannazuki asked. However Shidou did not reply him as he just stared at the image——at the visual noise that was positioned in front of the young Kotori and Shidou and spoke.
"Who——exactly......, are you, you are......"
"By who......may I ask which one are you talking about?"
"This——one. The one in front of me, and Kotori......"
Kannazuki went into deep thought. Looking at him, Shidou realized for the first time.
——Why, did he treat the noise-like shadow as a person.
At the very least, it was inferred from his use of the word [Who].
After thinking about it, the pain assaulting Shidou's head reached its peak——Shidou lost consciousness.
Origami, who had unreasonably dragged Ryouko who was in the midst of working into the briefing room, looked at the image on the screen and went speechless.
The video's quality was extremely bad. The camera's position was too far for the fine details to be taken down. Furthermore, the beginning and ending of the recording did not match, it could possibly have been damaged in the midst of recording, there was only a few minutes left.
However, that was enough for Origami.
Five years ago. The figure that she saw with her blurred vision. The day before. The figure that she saw with her fading consciousness.
That hated face of her enemy, she was hoping to properly view it for the first time.
Rewinding the video to the beginning and replaying it, pausing it. She enlarged <Efreet>'s face.
And then——Origami's doubts were changed to affirmations.
Five years ago, the spirit of flames that she had been searching for all this time. ——Her, face.
A spirit, that was formerly Itsuka Shidou's sister.
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