Toaru Majutsu no Index:Volume19 Chapter1
Chapter 1: Goodwill shall be trusted for now. Dark_Hero.
The time was 6 PM, October 17th.
In one of the hotel rooms used as a hideout, Accelerator sat on the floor next to a window. His back was against the wall and in front of him were many pieces of machinery placed on spread out newspaper.
This work couldn’t be done on a bed.
Accelerator continued to work on as he craned his neck to hold a cell phone to his ear.
A small girl’s voice came from the other side of the cell phone.
“Oh right, tonight’s dinner seems to be hamburger casseroles, says Misaka as Misaka reports her findings from her scouting.”
“Is that so. Guess that idiot Yomikawa finally tried to make that with her electric rice cooker.”
The piece of machinery laid out on the newspaper was a crutch.
It was designed to be half connected to a person’s right forearm, with a stylish design that made it look like a police baton. It was ‘machinery’ because it had been modified with components like a small motor and weight distribution sensors.
Accelerator touched the crutch, which had four legs attached to its end like a microphone stand.
“…It’s finally complete, though I wonder if the weight distribution sensor is enough to determine the center of gravity. Should I add a compass that adjusts the angles as well?”
He did the appropriate analyses in his mind while talking on the phone. He was talking to someone called Last Order, a girl who looked only ten years old.
“If necessary Misaka will go negotiate with her and ask to make your share, says Misaka as Misaka looks towards the kitchen.”
“That’s good. That way if you send it by refrigerated boxed mail it won’t go bad.”
He put his right hand through the ring on the crutch and grasped the handle, and the four legs started to move like an insect’s. Still sitting on the ground, he casually knocked the floor with the crutch, but even with the staff parallel to the floor the mechanical legs were able to hold onto the floor and get him up.
(It’s good enough, I guess.)
“You said we’ll definitely be able to see each other this weekend right? says Misaka as Misaka affirms.”
“…If everything goes along with the schedule, then yes.”
He manipulated the handle once more, and with a *kacha* the crutch shortened itself, just like a police baton. Accelerator tried to move his wrist to confirm its senses, hidden inside the sheath that covered everything below his elbow.
(Mah, guess this will do. I can’t walk without a crutch, but activating my ability will make this thing useless.)
Accelerator arbitrarily showed his thoughts. He reached out with his crutch, and with another *kacha* the four-legged staff extended swiftly and knocked away the various tools on the newspaper.
(…If I add a bit more power to this I might be able to use this as a weapon… But that would be meaningless. When I have my ability activated I don’t need any other weapons, and if I don’t have my ability activated when I lift this up I’ll fall over.)
“Misaka will now report that she’s really looking forward to next Saturday—Uwoooh! Yomikawa is bringing the hamburger casserole over now!! says Misaka as Misaka reports the higher priority issue!”
“Really? You’re really living a good life right now, aren’t you?”
The phone beside the bed began ringing in a tone completely different from that of a cell phone. Accelerator involuntarily looked over at it. As he was about to pick up it abruptly stopped. This happened three times in succession. It was a signal.
It was probably from the limo parked close to this hotel.
“What’s going on? says Misaka as Misaka asks about the telephone ringing with her head tilted.”
“…It’s nothing. That was just the room service checking,” Accelerator casually replied.
He put his weight on the crutch and slowly got up. Once again he felt the weight of his small pistol he had tucked away behind him, stowed between his belt and his pants.
At this time, Last Order suddenly asked,
“Is everything alright?”
She didn’t know the details of Accelerator’s work, but even without knowing anything she still worried about him.
“Don’t go doing anything dangerous! says Misaka as Misaka tries asking.”
“Who do you think I am?”
He talked into the phone as if to reject her kindness.
“For a bastard that can survive even a nuclear strike, there’s nothing to worry about.”
Accelerator disconnected the call and put the phone back into his pocket.
Then he walked out of the room without looking back.
Though there were newspapers and tools all over the room, there would probably be some grunts from who-knew where coming to clean everything up later.
Tsuchimikado Motoharu was strolling on District 7’s prosperous roads on the way back home from school. He had blond hair, and was wearing sunglasses and a Hawaiian shirt underneath his school uniform. Even though he was wearing an outfit that stood out so much, there were still a few people here and there that stood out even more.
Such as the maids that were handing out flyers in front of one of the shops.
Tsuchimikado's eyes behind his sunglasses squinted involuntarily as he walked past.
“…Well now, the times are getting better and better nyaa…”
As soon as he said that, a fierce straight punch smashed right into the center of the back of Tsuchimikado’s tall figure. It came from his sister, Tsuchimikado Maika. And the girl who had caused that was for some reason sitting on top of a steel can-shaped robot.
This girl who made her not-blood-related older brother bend over in pain hadn’t done it out of jealousy.
“…Those can’t possibly be called professional maids. They’re mixing up maids, waitresses and receptionists! Hah? Or are you saying that anything that has laces on them is good enough?”
Tsuchimikado Maika, whose large front forehead was showing through her short hair, had a cross-popping vein clearly apparent there as she interrogated Motoharu in a low voice. Looking closely, her clothing was actually a dark blue maid uniform with a long skirt. Different from the girls handing out flyers, her own clothing may have been plain, but it was much more practical.
“M-Maika. That kind of black aura has an ‘intense’ pressure on my liver, you know?”
“What I’m saying is that, though spreading the glory of maids to the world is important, a wrong method of doing it would only be troublesome. There are always people that look at this outfit with lewd eyes.”
Faced with his not-blood-related sister’s accusation, Tsuchimikado’s reaction was over-the-top.
However, his mind wasn’t thinking of things like ‘I’ll never forgive any bastard that dares have that kind of look directed at my own sister’.
“I-isn’t that alright? …After all, if a maid isn’t sexy there’s no point in its existence right!?”
“…Guess I have to teach this no-good onii-san of mine just what a professional maid is.”
“Oww! Does this mean I get to experience the professional maid skills from my not blood-related sister with my own body?!” Tsuchimikado was yelling inappropriate words like that while being beaten up by his own sister’s small fists.
At this time, a car came by them blared its horns. It might have looked like someone trying to make a slow moving car in front of them move faster, but that was not the case.
It was a signal.
The limo that flashed its lights and was currently turning the corner was probably there to pick up Tsuchimikado.
However, Tsuchimikado didn’t even look at the direction the limo disappeared off to and instead moved towards a corner store.
“Nyaa~ I have to go buy some automatic pencil lead.”
“Hmm? I’ll come along with you.”
“Ooh! You’ll help? Actually, I have a loo-oot of homework today nyaa. I don’t know if even two people can finish all that. Maika’s a scholarship student right? So you’ll be able to help me finish half of them, and if we siblings work together we might be able to finish them all by morning.”
“…I won’t be going to onii-san’s room tonight… making a middle-school student help with high school homework, just how much are you trying to push onto me, huh? There are still leftovers from earlier so you won’t starve to death. So that’s that, bye~”
Maika, who was sitting on top of a cleaning robot tapped on its side. It could have been the sensor noticing that, but either way the cleaning robot changed direction as if it was being remote controlled by someone else.
You cold hearted person!! A shocked Tsuchimikado in front of the corner store held his head down in depression for quite a while before going inside to buy the pencil lead, and as he came out, he turned into the side road where the limo had gone.
After opening the doors to the limo he found someone else already there. The white-haired Level 5 esper was lying on a makeshift bed with a disgruntled expression.
Looking at that Level 5 esper, Tsuchimikado asked,
“…So, what’s our work today?”
Musujime Awaki was currently in District 10. In this district, which was mainly filled with nuclear & bacteriology research centers and disposal facilities for experimental animals, there was one more famous facility.
Normally, this wasn't a place where a girl in the uniform of the prestigious esper development school—Kirigaoka Girl’s Academy—would come. But something that couldn’t be helped was that her "comrades" were imprisoned here.
Comrades here meant other people that had wanted to complete a grand plan together with her.
At the same time, it meant that this ‘plan’ was a criminal activity.
Due to a combination of a Level 4 and a Level 5 that had strength above even that of ojou-samas from the Kirigaoka Academy, their plan failed. Many ‘comrades’ were overwhelmingly defeated and shut away into that correction facility. Only Musujime was spared—even though as the mastermind of the plan she should have been the first one to be shut away.
But there were rules unknown to most of the world.
So Musujime Awaki was forced to use her powerful Move Point to fight in the darkness of Academy City.
By doing that, her ‘comrades’ would receive protection both physical and social. On the other hand, if she did not agree then there would be no guarantees.
One day, they must escape from this city.
They had to emerge victorious in this game that they had no chances of winning.
No matter what, her ‘comrades’ must be freed.
This was Musujime Awaki’s only goal. No, a better way of saying that should be it was the only thing left for her. Even the resolute will to complete their grand plan, disregarding the rules, had now been grinded down and was no more. There was no more reason to take the initiative, and for the Musujime Awaki right now no matter where she went she could only react to the situation around her.
Even if it was like this it didn’t matter; she constantly thought that.
To a degree, she was moving to this City’s will.
However, even if she made the higher ups of Academy City collapse completely, the current situation wasn't guaranteed to change. And if things ever got to that point, she could only hate the one that had brought her into that position—herself. Thinking of that, Musujime kept walking on the darkening road under the sunset.
At this time,
From her pockets in her skirt came a ring tone of a cell phone. Originally she had no interest in things like these, and only a few days ago her ringtone had still been the default one. After the person she lived with right now had changed it to a ‘recommended tone’, she hadn't bothered changing it, so it ended with this current tune.
Musujime sighed lightly and took out her cell phone from her pocket.
After hitting the ‘answer call’ button and putting the phone next to her ear, she heard the familiar voice of the person that was currently living with her.
"Musujime-chan?! Where are you wandering about right now?”
A voice that was sickeningly sweet, and sounded like a girl that had yet to reach puberty.
The person that she lived with now was called Tsukuyomi Komoe.
What was frightening was that she was apparently a high school teacher.
“Today, because I’m letting Musujime-chan learn how to cook, Sensei is waiting on an empty stomach! Come back and challenge your skills, it won’t be good if Musujime-chan doesn’t learn at least one or two dishes that she can cook easily.”
At first hearing, this seemed only like the person she lived with wanted her to come back and cook for them. But Musujime quickly realized that wasn’t the goal of the teacher that had a sickening sweet voice.
The evidence was as follows:
“I’m not saying that girls have to know how to cook, but life is long and the more you learn the wider the path will be. This isn’t just about making meals. Though Sensei hasn't asked about what Musujime-chan wants to do from now on, for Musujime-chan to not feel troubled when the time comes Sensei still feels it is best to discuss this with you. Though I say that, this is all under the absolute premise that I don’t take up your personal time or getting in the way of your own decisions.”
After hearing that, Musujime stopped her steps involuntarily. Standing in the gloomy District 10, she abruptly realized the pressure that was slowly building up inside of her heart was disappearing bit by bit.
This probably wasn’t just on the surface, deep down Musujime Awaki was astounded at something.
Even for a person like her, she wanted someone to say those kinds of things to her.
Just as Musujime was thinking how to answer a limo came past her. It stopped next to a vending machine that sold juice, and a man came out of the driver’s seat and headed straight towards the vending machine.
Though these two never exchanged a glance, the signal was clearly given.
A signal for work.
(She’ll definitely be mad. No, she’ll definitely be mad for me.) Musujime thought that as she said into her phone,
“…I’ll come right out and say it, I have something urgent to do right now, so guess cooking is not possible tonight.”
“Eeh?! Something came up today as well? Then what about Sensei who’s waiting for you to cook? Actually, Sensei was afraid you would mess up a lot so I went out and bought a ton of vegetables, and the fridge is stuffed full!”
“That’s good right? A vegetarian will live longer you know.”
After replying in a casual manner Musujime turned off her phone.
For a short time, Musujime stared at her phone, and then put it into her skirt's pockets. After that, she walked towards the limo, and after opening the door, she found an esper lying on the makeshift bed, and next to a table, a blond boy with sunglasses was playing a game where maids in miniskirts wielding laser cannons blasted at things.
Looking annoyed at the other passengers in the limo, Musujime said,
“…Come to think of it, limos have a kitchen in them right?”
Unabara Mitsuki was currently in a hospital in District 7.
Though it was past six in the afternoon, due to hospital policy, visitors were allowed to stay until very late. That time was about to come up.
He was inside a single-person use hospital room.
Having said that, he was not the one that had to be treated.
Unabara Mitsuki came to visit another girl who had to stay in this hospital.
“…Same as usual you’re really attached to that face, Etzali.”
The brown-skinned girl who was sitting up on the bed said with her voice deliberately lowered. With shoulder-length black curly hair, the impression she gave people was vastly different from that of a Japanese person. Her name was Xochitl, and she was from central America.
“And you’re still the same with your unhappy face. Are the artificial fibers of the clothing uncomfortable for you?”
As he said that Unabara placed a large package onto the bedside table.
“Here’s the traditional clothes of the Aztec culture. It took me a lot of work to get my hands on this… but going around the hospital wearing this will make you stand out, so please just wear this after lights out.”
“Should I thank you on bent knees?”
“You’ve been like this for a while now, just what is wrong with you?”
“Guess you won’t understand if I don’t say it plainly, I’ll make myself clear.”
Xochitl turned her head around and stared right at Unabara,
“It makes me sick just seeing you talking and smiling like an unrelated civilian.”
“The ‘original’ of the grimoire… you took it right?”
Xochitl’s sight turned back towards her own hand.
Her five fingers opened then clenched themselves, slowly.
“Now over two-thirds of my body is made of artificial parts. …So how did it go? You managed to perfectly take the grimoire from me while I was unconscious. Once again you made me see your skills and magnanimity as a magician.”
Once, Xochitl had tried to use a powerful ‘original’ grimoire as a weapon, and over two-thirds of her body had been ground down by some magic cabal for the base of that grimoire. And the one who had saved her behind the scenes was Unabara.
Xochitl moved her sight from her hand and onto Unabara.
“…The original is in your possession right now, isn’t it?”
“It’s right here.”
Unabara lifted open his suit using one hand.
In it was something that looked like a holster from a gangster film, and a rolled up scroll made of animal skin was placed in it. Before Xochitl had a clear look Unabara covered it back up with his suit.
“That was something that I couldn’t even control when I broke my body apart trying, and you managed to control it just like that.”
“Hardly. Really, just restraining this thing is taking up all my power.”
Though his tone of voice was fairly laid-back, Unabara understood just how horrifying this grimoire was.
Then, for Xochitl that had to become the raw ingredient to be able to control this piece called ‘original grimoires’, just what kind of chaotic situation had she gotten herself into?
This was the question he had wanted to ask ever since they had met once again. He only asked it now after Xochitl had finally recovered to a certain point.
Xochitl went silent for a moment, then turned around and looked at Unabara with only her brown face showing. She then said slowly,
“You probably already know about that battle with the ‘Arts and Sciences City’. The one where we fought with that American research facility.”
“Yeah, I know the details. I’ve heard the official statement is that it was a terrorist attack from insurgents that got their hands on cheap arms.”
“Of course, the truth is that we started a magic attack on them.”
At this point, Xochitl went silent once more.
The largest magic cabal of the American continent fought head on seriously against those that called themselves the ‘World Police’. For someone like her she should have just been in a support role behind the frontlines.
“Something went wrong.”
Xochitl’s tone was just like giving a boring report.
“In that instant before the battle was concluded, I disobeyed some of the orders slightly. As the price for my disobedience my body has been modified somewhat. As there were previous cases done by the cabal, this isn’t something ridiculous.”
There were no such rules. Unabara himself was an old hand in the cabal, and no matter how severe the crime was he had never heard of the preposterous punishment of having the body ground down and merged with an original grimoire.
“Didn’t anyone try to stop this? What about Tochtli? Isn’t she your comrade?”
Even though he already knew the outcome, Unabara’s mouth still spoke the name of another girl, the name of Xochitl’s colleague.
But Xochitl only shook her head.
“After merging with the grimoire I haven’t seen Tochtli. Before having the grimoire taken off me I was only a weapon. The one in charge of battle operations, Tecpatl, should know where she is. But that hateful man just wouldn’t let me see her.”
Then, Xochitl directed her sight onto where Unabara kept the grimoire.
“Having said that, disregarding the affinity of the magician, just the thought of using the grimoire as you wish is something that’s very difficult, considering the human structure. Even having done so much I was still under the control of the grimoire’s will.”
“…My thoughts exactly. Things such as ‘grimoires’ aren’t meant to be used as trump cards. Using things like these where their own powers are not fully understood when in a team will only lead to destruction… Group, where I belong to right now, if anyone tried something like that they would be probably be piled, beaten and killed off that way by everyone else.”
At this point, Xochitl, for some reason, went silent again.
“It’s nothing. When you speak of ‘comrades’ now, the first thing that pops up in your mind is definitely those guys that I don’t know of right?”
“Don’t deny it.”
The dark-skinned girl blocked Unabara’s mouth with a tall wall of words.
“No matter what the reason, it’s true you defected to Academy City and worked willingly for them in the darkness as a pawn. This means you betrayed your original ‘comrades’ and defeated me. Isn’t that wonderful ‘teamwork’?”
Admitting her defeat but at the same time rubbing salt into Unabara’s wounds, Xochitl saw Unabara’s stiff expression and finally showed a satisfied expression. But a gloomy trace accompanied that expression.
“Isn’t that right,”
At this point, Xochitl averted her eyes slightly away from Unabara’s own.
As she pouted she used a voice that was just on the edge of hearing and continued,
Time stopped at this moment.
Before Unabara could even react to her words the door to their room was pushed open roughly with a loud thud.
The one that charged in was a blond boy with sunglasses, Tsuchimikado Motoharu.
“Unabara, you bastard! What the hell were you on about right then nyaa?!”
“Move, Etzali!! It must be pursuers from the ‘organisation’!! Damn it, has it been decided that I am someone to be eliminated as well now?!”
'No, this guy may be a pervert but he’s on our side.' Before Unabara could even explain using that sentence, Tsuchimikado rushed up to him with a cross-popping vein visible on his head.
“Unabara…!!! You bastard, you already had a chick already back home, yet you dare to come to Academy City and try to pick up girls from Tokiwadai Middle School?!”
“No, ara, what are you on about?”
Not good. Unabara shook with a fright and his body started to tremble involuntarily.
Xochitl, who was still on guard against Tsuchimikado, froze after hearing that and then turned towards Unabara.
“…Middle-school girls? Don’t tell me you betrayed the ‘organisation’ for a reason like that.”
Unabara, who couldn’t deny that, sweated bullets as he averted his gaze from Xochitl. And it was not because the other party was a middle school student that was giving him trouble. It didn’t matter if the other party was a high school student or a university student, he was not some kind of lolicon.
“That’s not it, the ‘sibling’ relationship here is just something like a sempai-kouhai one in the cabal!!”
“In other words it’s a not blood-related one? Isn’t that every man’s ultimate dream nyaa?!!”
From outside the hospital room, Musujime Awaki looked stealthily at Unabara and Tsuchimikado whose argument was getting out of hand.
This trip was clearly to come here to get more people for the job, but now she was started to think it might better to go and do this by herself.
Musujime said to Accelerator, who was leaning against the wall near her,
“Brothers or sisters, these things are getting chaotic. Seriously, we’re about to go onto the battlefield, can’t they consider how we feel right now?”
But Accelerator didn’t respond to her.
Musujime looked at him in a surprised manner, then noticed Accelerator’s lips were moving slightly.
After listening closely,
“(…Being dragged around by brats younger than you, everyone came through that way. No matter how ridiculous this is I don’t have a right to interfere with this stuff.)”
“Sheesh, am I the only person in this Group that isn’t a pervert?”
As soon as that was said, Accelerator, Tsuchimikado Motoharu and Unabara Mitsuki instantly directed their sight on the one that spoke—Musujime Awaki.
As one, completely as one, they said in a tone as if it was only natural,
“This exhibitionist shotacon girl actually sees us as perverts.” “Yeah nyaa.” “You’re right.”
“Whaaa?! *cough cough cough cough* Wh-wh-wh-what do you people have as proof to say others are a shotacon?!!”
Faced with this onee-sama-like and huge-chested high school student girl, all three indicated it would take too long to explain while shaking their heads. As if saying they had known all along but only hadn’t mentioned it for the sake of politeness.
Xochitl was extremely unhappy at their surprisingly singular response, but Unabara didn’t notice that detail.
After saying farewell to the pouting dark-skinned girl, Unabara left the hospital room.
“Alright. So what’s the job that needed everyone in Group?”
“Just solving some of the usual things.”
Tsuchimikado answered while whistling leisurely.
“Butcher all of those terrorists that took some hostages and refuse to surrender.”
Meanwhile, a boy and a girl approached a shop within the same hospital. The shop mainly sold snacks and drinks, but it also had a lineup of books to fight the boredom and water guns that made one wonder where in the hospital they could be used.
The girl looked around the shop with quick movements of her head and the boy watched her from behind.
The boy’s name was Hamazura Shiage.
He had brown hair and wore an unfashionable jacket and jeans. He had the face of a dumb thug, but he was a dumb thug, so it couldn’t really be helped. He was the delinquent who had defeated Academy City’s #4 Level 5, Mugino Shizuri.
The girl’s name was Kinuhata Saiai.
She was about 12 years old and also had brown hair, but hers was much silkier. Her hair was in a bob that didn’t quite go down to her shoulders. She wore a short wool dress that looked something like a sweater that left her white thighs bare to a dangerous-looking level. She was the kind of girl that would make a train ride awkward if she sat across from you.
Kinuhata looked at the types of flowers that were placed directly on the floor of the shop.
“You’re visiting her in the hospital, so how could you super forget to bring flowers, Hamazura? I guess it’s super okay to think of you as super Hamazura-y.”
“Hey, don’t bend over while looking at them like that. Your ass is going to be visible from behind.”
“Isn’t it super amazing that you can’t see it even when I’m in this pose? This angle is super different from your everyday bitch.”
(Dammit, she has it all calculated out!!) Hamazura cursed in his heart.
Kinuhata thought carefully for a bit and then called the clerk over having chosen a flower that Hamazura didn’t know the name of. Of course, it was Hamazura’s job to carry the bouquet of flowers.
Kinuhata spoke as they walked towards the elevator that led to the general ward.
“Now that the bouquet has been super taken care of, do you have anything else for her super prepared?”
“Yeah. Although Takitsubo will probably be released from the hospital before too long, so it isn’t some toy that will get her too excited.”
“Please super give up on the idea of a bunny suit.”
“What kind of person do you think I am?”
“A super pervert that super loves bunny girls.”
As they argued back and forth, Hamazura and Kinuhata got on the elevator and headed for their destination floor. They walked down the corridor and knocked on the hospital room’s door. A familiar voice responded.
When they opened the door, they found Hamazura’s war buddy who had once survived a fierce battle.
She was Takitsubo Rikou.
Hamazura recalled that the girl always looked tired. Her black hair was cut evenly at shoulder length. She normally wore a pink track suit, but it seemed to also function as casual wear and sleepwear for her. As she sat up in the bed, she was wearing the same outfit as usual.
“How are you super feeling?” Kinuhata readily asked as she took apart the bouquet and transferred the flowers into a vase, but she said it in a way that seemed to say she already knew Takitsubo was improving.
In fact, Takitsubo herself did not seem to think about it too deeply.
“It looks like I’ll be fine without doing anything more about it. I’m being released tonight and have already started preparing to leave.”
“What!? Why didn’t you tell us that sooner!?”
“We bought you some gifts, but I guess they’re kinda super in the way.”
“I’m sorry. I’ll make sure to take your gifts home with me,” Takitsubo said bowing her head in response to Kinuhata’s unnecessary remark.
Hamazura struck Kinuhata on the top of the head like she had answered wrong in a quiz show.
“That’s not what I meant. I wish she had told us sooner, so we could prepare a party to celebrate.”
“…Hamazura, I’m gonna super hit you back later.”
“That doesn’t change my opinion on this!!” Hamazura yelled. (But only in his heart.)
Of course, Kinuhata was completely oblivious to his internal yell.
“But I was pretty worried when I heard you had super collapsed from using too much Body Crystal. Unlike with a cold or something, I don’t really know what this is, so I super couldn’t imagine it. At any rate, I’m super happy you’re being released from the hospital.”
Hamazura agreed with that.
“That’s right. You can’t use your powers that used the Body Crystal, but I’m just relieved nothing worse happened. …Oh, right, right. You might not need it since you’re leaving, but I got you something to kill some time with. It’s a jigsaw puzzle.”
“So it wasn’t a super bunny suit…”
“The way you’re staring at me all wide-eyed makes me really want to make you cry. You don’t mind, right?”
“Hamazura, with your pitiful technique, that’s something that will always be super impossible for you to do. Oh, right. I super brought this. Tah-dah. It’s a super stuffed bunny!!”
After that announcement, Kinuhata pulled a 50 cm stuffed animal from a box (that Hamazura had carried). Overall, it was fancy and fluffy, but for some reason it had what looked like human hair stretching down from its mouth that made one wonder what it had just eaten.
Hamazura was a bit worried about how Takitsubo would take such a surreal mascot, but…
“What!? I was sure you would say something like ‘it has no practical use’!! Is this a discrepancy in your personality that only exists in the strong bonds between the main former members of Item!?”
“The way you get all wide-eyed and start super trembling makes me want to make you cry every single day. You don’t mind, right? I’m gonna make you super cry.”
“Heh heh heh. With your pitiful body, that’s something that will—Dgah gah gah gah gah!? Stop that, you idiot! Stop digging your thumb into the back of my leg… Gwah! That fucking hurts. Okay, okay. I’ll cry, I’ll cry!!”
After Hamazura had been taken to the ground yelling “I give! I give!” due to that strange wrestling technique, his attacker, Kinuhata, wiped the sweat from her brow.
“For the bunny girl-crazy super pervert Hamazura, giving any sign that you are losing your respect and fear for us is a crime. Is that super clear?”
“…From a sheltered and domineering rich girl, that line might do something for me, but from a girl with huge amounts of superhuman strength who has done all sorts of jobs in the shadowy parts of the city, it can’t be passed off as a joke. And by the way, I don’t especially like bunny girls.”
“Oh?” said Kinuhata as she grabbed the stuffed rabbit Takitsubo had been embracing.
She moved it behind Takitsubo and placed it so Takitsubo’s head lined up with it.
Doing so made the stuffed animal’s ears the only thing visible from behind Takitsubo’s expressionless face. Kinuhata, who had created the situation, added a finishing blow with her words.
“Tah dah. This bunny is the pride of the establishment. She’s Rikou-chan, the type that will die of loneliness if left alone after falling in love with someone. Is she the bunny you want?”
Immediately afterwards, something came flowing down from Hamazura Shiage’s nose.
He put his hand up to his face without thinking and then looked down in shock to see that it wasn’t a runny nose, but he had a more pressing problem now. When he looked up, both Kinuhata Saiai, who had carried out the joke, and Takitsubo Rikou, who had been used in the joke, were drawing back from him.
“…Hamazura…you love bunnies that super much…?”
“N-no!! There’s something odd about getting a bloody nose at a time like this!! There has to be some other reason for—I know! This has to be some odd result of that damn back of the leg massage you gave me!! It has to be!! I don’t especially like bunnies…!!”
As Hamazura frantically tried to deny it, the expressionless and comforting girl that was Takitsubo Rikou softly placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Don’t worry, Hamazura. This is a hospital, so it’s okay if you get a bloody nose. The doctors will heal you right away.”
“U-uhhh…!! You’re the only one that worries about me at times like this!!”
Hamazura seemed like he was about to collapse to the floor from that small bit of kindness.
“Don’t worry, Hamazura. I think this hospital also has a place that takes care of sicknesses of the mind, so you don’t have to worry about getting a nosebleed over bunnies.”
And then he was about to collapse to the floor for a completely different reason.
Accelerator, Tsuchimikado Motoharu, Musujime Awaki and Unabara Mitsuki, the four of them were riding together in the same limo.
“The terrorists that started this incident are from an organisation named Spark Signal. It’s another organisation similar to Group losing control.”
After Tsuchimikado saying that in a bored manner, Unabara furrowed his brow.
“What is this ‘Spark Signal’?”
“To prevent people from gathering information using electrical waves, the walls surrounding Academy City will shoot strong directional interference waves into the air. Though cell phones will still work a meter away from the walls, any communications trying to go through the walls will be blocked. Even the radar is setup outside, and any normal communication has to be patched through a terminal.”
The security robots on the walls seem to use the data lines under their bodies to connect to the lines on the ground to pass on information, Tsuchimikado continued to explain.
“But, there’s an exception. The higher ups have secret methods of communications, and there are always people who try to sell inside information of Academy City to the outside people. Spark Signal is a group that specializes in attacking those kind of people.”
Musujime’s expression became slightly unpleasant.
In the ‘Remnant’ incident she had contacted people outside of Academy City. For all she knew they probably had already fought with Spark Signal.
When Tsuchimikado got to the point where the Spark Signal had the same level of secrecy as the Hound Dogs, Accelerator’s brow twitched slightly. But Tsuchimikado ignored his reaction and continued,
“In other words, that Spark Signal started a strange seizing operation incident. They have now occupied the largest particle accelerator of the world which is situated inside Academy City; it’s called the Hula Hoop.”
Tsuchimikado said that as he operated something that looked like a TV remote.
On the large screen in the car a map of Academy City showed up. On it was a place marked with a different color, but it wasn’t any of the school districts. It was the outer wall that surrounded Academy City.
“The giant ring-shaped particle accelerator follows the shape of the wall, and built 200m under the ground. The terrorists that used to belong to the original Spark Signal group have now occupied the underground control center, and have started to make it operate without the safety features. Right now the protons inside it are being accelerated at 30% of the speed of light. …Of course, if anything doesn’t go as they demand it they will overload the particle accelerator. And once the protons have broken the accelerated circuit, not just the particle accelerator itself but a third of Academy City will not escape the fate of being covered by radiation.”
“As to where on the outer wall the explosion will happen, it depends entirely on chance,” Tsuchimikado said.
In other words, apart from the city center of Academy City, anyone else living in the city might be in danger of being caught up.
Hearing to this point, Unabara tilted his head and thought for a moment,
“That accelerator probably needs a lot of electricity to keep it running. Can’t we just cut it off directly from the power generators?”
“Since an emergency stop would need a lot of power, they have a back-up generator there. Needless to say Spark Signal will also be using that to operate the particle accelerator.”
“…Though they occupied the building, they haven’t initiated the overload immediately. This means they have some sort of ‘demand’.”
Towards Musujime’s question, Tsuchimikado only shook his head.
“The higher ups—some of the board of directors have already received their ‘demand’, but they didn’t give that piece of information to us. ‘Don’t think about unnecessary things, just kill off everyone that resists’.”
“Since they didn’t give us a time limit, it means things haven’t gotten that bad yet.”
Hearing Accelerator’s words, Tsuchimikado once again pushed a button on the remote.
Apart from the large ring that followed the outer wall, the screen showed another two smaller rings. Just like the distorted annual rings of a tree, the rings intersected each other.
“That’s not quite right. According to the different stages in speed, Hula Hoop is split into first, second and third rings, and accelerates particles separately starting from the smallest one. From the confirmed information on hand right now, the terrorists have started to move towards the third ring, as in the accelerator located at the outer bounds of the city.”
At Unabara’s urging, Tsuchimikado smiled and replied,
“From the configuration, the third ring cannot work at a low speed of 30% of the speed of light. That’s something that can only be used in experiments that force particles to go over 70% of the speed of light… looks like we weren’t given all of the information. Though we don’t know if it’s just them trying to ‘save face’, or to prevent widespread panic by hiding information.”
“So even if the current situation is extremely dire, they still won’t tell us everything huh?”
Accelerator spat out those words in an extremely bored manner.
“I’m not motivated. No matter how serious this is they haven’t gotten to the point of ‘begging us with tears in their eyes’. Let’s forget this. When they start to beg us to step in then we’ll do it.”
“Then I’ll give you some information to motivate you.”
Tsuchimikado pressed another button on the remote, and another window popped up on the screen. What was shown on it was a school bus. For some reason, the front tires of the school bus had burst, and the doors forcibly broken.
“Before Spark Signal attacked Hula Hoop, they kidnapped around 30 primary school students on an astronomy field trip, along with their teacher and driver as a ‘bargaining chip’. If their demands are denied they might start killing hostages periodically.”
“They could also use the workers at the Hula Hoop for hostages, but those are people that are necessary for Hula Hoop to continue to function. If we let them drag this out, it will definitely end up in a protracted battle. Spark Signal deliberately took hostages from somewhere else to prevent something like that. The higher ups must be worried sick about the safety measures of the Hula Hoop, and what about our safety measures? …Do we look like people that care about lives of small children?”
“Boring. We have no reason to play along with them.”
Accelerator said that as if to cut off this conversation.
There was not a single trace of compassion in his words.
He was a full-blown villain.
For this Level 5 had a dark heart within him and continued to speak in a manner as if to put everything about others’ lives behind him,
“…What an eye-sore. For this kind of boring thing let’s finish this quickly.”
Hamazura Shiage and Kinuhata Saiai headed to the shopping district at night.
They weren’t there for a particularly amorous reason. They were simply making preparations for the party celebrating Takitsubo Rikou’s release from the hospital. However, their preparations were on such short notice that they couldn’t do anything too elaborate.
“By the way, what exactly are we going to do for a party?”
“We have a room in a private salon in District 3, so we’ll get all sorts of super party goods, head back to the hospital, and super collect Takitsubo-san. Then we just have to head to the private salon.”
“A private salon…” muttered Hamazura.
Those facilities provided services similar to an extravagant karaoke box and they were popular with upper class kids because it allowed them to easily rent out a secret base. Some people might wonder what value something like that had, but in a city where most students lived in dorms, getting away from the eyes of the adults was quite valuable.
However, a place like that had the danger of being one wrong step away from being a hotbed of sexual crimes, so the teachers and guardians were not too fond of them.
As he thought about all that, Kinuhata started speaking next to him.
“Hamazura, what are you going to super do?”
“Ahn? Well, we can just order food from the private salon, so I was thinking we should go around looking for joke goods that a group of people can—”
“No, that’s not what I meant,” Kinuhata interrupted him before asking her question again. “The organization we belonged to, Item, has been super destroyed. Because of that, you super aren’t needed to work underneath it. That’s what I’m asking about. …What are you going to super do?”
“I’m just responding to your question with a question, but what are you going to do?”
“Well, it’s gonna be super the same for me. Item may be super gone, but the other day I was super forced to make an assassination regarding the Stargate stuff. Even now, they are in the process of starting a new team. According to the person on the phone, plenty of bloody jobs are still super waiting for me. That said, Takitsubo-san cannot fight, so there is no merit in super including her, so you don’t have to worry about that,” Kinuhata smoothly replied.
It seemed she did not have any real opposition to that environment.
“Hamazura, what are you going to super do?”
“Well…” he began.
The sun had fully set, so stars could be seen even in the night sky of that large city.
“It might be unfair to Hanzou, but I have no real intention of going back to Skill-Out. I don’t know what I can do, but I have to do something to bring Takitsubo back to the normal world. She can’t use Body Crystal anymore and I know that this world isn’t so kind that she can survive in it in her state. So I need to think about what I can do.”
It wasn’t quite a proper answer, but it was exactly the kind of thing a dumb thug would say. However, his words were not something he had no chance of following through on.
Hamazura Shiage had once defeated one of the Level 5s.
However, that battle had certainly not been easy. Hamazura had been chased down to the very verge of death, but this had been the driving force that had allowed him to move his shaking legs to oppose her when it had come down to it. There was weight behind his words.
In every other way, he may be a dumb thug, but in that one way, he was not.
Kinuhata looked over at the side of Hamazura’s face as he stared up at the night sky.
“…In other words, Hamazura, you plan on super forcing your own tastes on Takitsubo-san’s life and super dedicating her to your passions by super removing that track suit that is overflowing with practicality and having her wear a bunny suit instead?”
“Do you still see me that way? Is that view completely fixed? Look, I admit I like bunny girls, but you’ve got it all wrong. The most important thing is that it’s a swimsuit-like outfit and the unbalanced aspect of being in a place where swimsuits aren’t normally worn is wonderful, so a companion girl at a motor show is perfectly fine with m—”
“Waah! Super stop, Hamazura. I get it, I super get it. You want to pass a treaty that would make every woman in the world super wear bunny suits. Just stop super staring at me with that obscene look.”
“Oh, c’mon,” said Hamazura shaking his head. “As a connoisseur of such things, let me tell you something. Someone like you just can’t pull off a bunny suit.”
“…And let me super tell you something. A middle school girl like me has a super better body than a high school girl like Takitsubo-san.”
“Yeah, right!! You may not be able to tell over Takitsubo’s track suit, but I’ve seen her without it and it’s amazing!! And I’ve seen that there’s nothing surprising hidden below that dress of yours!!”
“I think I need to super kill you. It’s fine if I super kill you, right?”
With a roar, something like wind gathered around Kinuhata’s hands.
Her power was Offense Armor. She was a Level 4 that could freely control the nitrogen in the air. Her effective range was exceedingly low, so her limit was a few centimeters from her palms, but it was incredibly powerful. She could repel a shot from a sniper rifle with her bare hands and could lift a table weighing a few dozen kilograms with one hand.
Hamazura would not be able to endure being punched by that dangerous skill.
But then Kinuhata herself stopped in shock just before taking action. The instant the large amount of nitrogen had gathered in her palms, the pseudo-wind created had caused her dress’s skirt to flutter.
The very instant before the panties within her skirt became visible, she pushed down the skirt with one hand.
“That was a super close one. You were just about to have some super material to masturbate to tonight.”
“…That definitely goes in the top five worst things I’ve ever had said to me. But you don’t have to worry. I’m not interested in some brat’s unfashionable panties. What’s sexy is an older girl who would look good in a bunny suit…”
Kinuhata Saiai was a girl who truly hated to lose, so she grabbed the front of her miniskirt with both hands and then lifted her hands up with no forewarning.
“Hamazura, Hamazura. Look, look, it’s a super skirt flip!”
“Ohhhhhhh!? I…I can see…I can’t see anything!! What? It was a feint? You let go of your skirt the instant before and only lifted your arms!? Don’t surprise me like that!!”
After giving such an honest reaction, Hamazura realized that Kinuhata had a huge grin on her face.
“Hoh hohh. I thought you super weren’t interested?”
“You were testing me!? Well, I was only shocked by that because it caught me off guard. I-It’s not like I was hoping for anything.”
“Fnhhhhhhhh!! D-dammit. I know it’s just a cruel feint, but…fuck!! Why do I do that!?”
“Hm, it seems I can just super play around with you all I want. Hamazura, have you figured out yet that you’re just super Hamazura-y? It’s 100,000 years too soon for a sexual animal lower even than a caveman to super debate whether I, Kinuhata-sama, am sexy or not. To be blunt, you’re super too full of yourself. You need to at least evolve further as an animal first.”
Despite having been beaten down and sunken into darkness, Hamazura once more lifted his head.
A fighting spirit resided in his eyes.
“I’ve changed!! I am no longer the kind of man who will be defeated by this ordinary sort of despair!! I will stand up once more. Come at me, Kinuhata! I will overcome the allure of your thighs!!”
“Heh heh. So you’re going to super oppose me despite the fact that you will never make it beyond being Villager A? Now this is getting interesting, super Hamazura. Now, read the saga of your sexuality and super despair!! Skirt flip!!”
The great demon lord that was Kinuhata started her ultimate attack.
“Ohhh, Takitsubo! Lend me strength!!” yelled the hero that was Hamazura as he brought out even the brave heart hidden within him.
But Kinuhata’s pinkies must have gotten caught on the miniskirt.
On that third attack, she truly did bring her dress’s skirt straight up.
The wool skirt that looked a bit like a sweater floated up and the small white piece of cloth that was meant to be hidden within was in clear view. The way she stood with her thighs rubbing together was surprisingly feminine and the way the panties at their base were pulled up just a little too tightly made the scene perfect.
And the hero that was Hamazura lost.
Two streams of red liquid shot from his nose as the hero gave his dying words.
“No faaaaaaaaiiiiiiiirrrrrrrr!! Feint, feint, the real deal!? What the hell is with that technique of attacking differently once I’m truly prepared for the original attack? That’s the kind of carefully planned out intellectual plan that uses the design theories of a genius short comedy routine or a haunted house!?”
Of course, it had not been carefully planned out; it had been a complete accident. As such, Kinuhata stood there with her arms lifted up towards the heavens trembling silently as her skirt fell back down due to gravity.
“I’m gonna super kill you!!”
“You destroy my heart and now you’re going to finish me off physically!? You really show no mercy, oh great demon lord!!”
Hamazura fled while Kinuhata chased him.
Shortly thereafter, some humorous sound effects resounded throughout the Academy City shopping district.
The limo that Accelerator, Tsuchimikado Motoharu, Musujime Awaki and Unabara Mitsuki, were riding together in was currently heading for District 23.
The world’s largest particle accelerator, Hula Hoop, followed around the outer walls of Academy City and was 200m underground. Its control center was the same, it was near the outer edges of the district that bordered the outer walls. Terrorists had occupied the place, taken hostages, and passed on ‘demands’ via the network.
“Come to think of it, what happened to that ‘man on the other side of the phone’? With something like this happening, shouldn’t we have gotten a call from him?”
“Hell if I know. If he doesn’t want to contact us we can’t get to him no matter what. If he doesn’t have something else on at this time then he must be on holiday or something.”
“Ara, are you worried because he isn’t contacting you?”
“Watch out before I rip your foul mouth apart, you idiot.”
Accelerator and Musujime Awaki glared at each other, but Group didn’t mind things like this.
Unabara was polishing his obsidian knife while asking Tsuchimikado,
“Are there any movements from Anti-Skill?”
“Apparently the excuse of a specialized anti-terrorist team is being sent out stopped them from mobilizing. And actually, if normal Anti-Skills got involved in something like this chances are they would only make it worse.”
Tsuchimikado answered while taking apart his handgun with practiced ease.
“To prevent the Hula Hoop that’s built 200m under the ground from releasing gamma rays in case of accidents, there are protection walls the level of nuclear shelters built around it. Trying to cut a hole out of it or even blow one out using dynamite would be impossible.”
“Can’t we use the elevators?”
“There are plenty of other walls inside as well. The elevator cables are all placed in niches in the walls, just like an automatic door. The other lines are the same.”
“Dawdling movements will just tell them we’re coming. If we are found blowing up doors and walls the terrorists from Spark Signal will probably blow the hostages’ heads off.”
Musujime Awaki was shifting her military flashlight that she used as a weapon in her pocket continuously, to make sure she could draw it out easily when she needed it.
Unabara wiped off some murky water on his dagger.
“What’s the situation inside?”
“We’ve already gone over this. To prevent gamma rays leaking, the walls there are extremely thick, normal radiowaves won’t be able to get through. Drilling a hole to get a camera inside is also not possible. Though we have the schematics now, we still don’t have any idea how many are deployed in there.”
“Then what about those ‘nano-machines’?”
As soon as Musujime said that, the atmosphere inside the limo tensed up.
Nano-machines called Underline were spread throughout the city, observing everything that happened there without pause. Of course, Hula Hoop would also be one of the places under surveillance.
“If they completely closed down the safety doors the network should have been disrupted… then again, if there is hidden technology it won’t be surprising.”
Tsuchimikado paused at this point.
“Also, ‘on the surface’ we don’t know about the existence of the nano-machines. So even if there is information from that, it won’t get to us.”
“The most troublesome thing here would be that we don’t know how many of them we need to take down before everything is over. It won’t be good if we get shot in the back as soon as we relax.”
“Then we’ll just throw the guy that won’t be hurt even if shot to deal with it.”
Tsuchimikado put together the handgun he had disassembled earlier and pointed at the make-shift bed.
The one sitting there was Accelerator. He could reflect all of the attacks.
“I don’t have any intentions of listening to orders coming from the bastard-with-sunglasses, but this is a lot easier than trusting my back to you people.”
Accelerator said that while glaring viciously at Tsuchimikado.
“But what method are we going to use to break in? Pierce through the 200m of walls and earth with one blow?”
… That comment seemed to have disregarded all of the premises, but there was indeed one person here that could do that.
But Tsuchimikado shook his head.
“Forget it. Not counting Spark Signal, if we drag the hostages and the machinery into the attack it would be troublesome. We’ll do this the usual way, using Musujime’s ability to ignore the limits of three-dimensions.”
Her Move Point worked just like Teleport, ignoring obstacles like walls and ceilings to send whatever she wanted to somewhere else.
At this time, the person in question furrowed her brows.
“Transport a mass as large as a human precisely onto a point 200m away, to a place that I’ve only seen on a schematic and not in person? There’s probably a 50% chance of being buried alive inside the walls or in the ground. If you still want to do that regardless of the risks then I don’t mind.”
“You won’t have to do anything that difficult.”
“District 23 is filled with aviation and space technology facilities, so it’s only runways all over the sector. But with that, the space above ground would be wasted; so, how do they get the building space for research and development?”
“What are you trying to say?”
“…In other words, it’s pretty spacious down there. Though it’s not directly linked with Hula Hoop, the direct distance between two points can be shortened somewhat. We can use Musujime’s Move Point to launch Accelerator there.”
As they talked, the limo reached the District 23.
Originally, in accordance to counter-terrorism strategy ordinary cars that were not business-use cars or specialized buses were forbidden to enter, but they were allowed to do so anyway.
In the runway-covered District 23, there were comparatively few tall buildings. The limo was parked at one of the buildings branching off from a school’s gymnasium.
The four of them got off immediately.
Accelerator’s crutch sprung four tiny claws to grab the ground, and Musujime’s eyes couldn’t help but to open wide at the sight.
“Did you just make that crutch? You sure are enthusiastic in your work.”
“Shut up and get out of my way. Are you the wordy housewife that suspects the husband is cheating on you due to a slight mess in his clothing?”
As they verbally sparred casually, Accelerator and others walked into a low building. It was a testing site for aviation weaponry. Of course, they were heading for the underground beneath there.
Tsuchimikado used the access code he had gotten from somewhere to open the lock for the elevator that was reserved for authorized personnel only. The four of them took a ride in the rectangular box and descended 150m at once.
Accelerator felt a sense of unease near his collarbone.
(…After getting this far down is the radiowave reception getting worse…?)
He unconsciously touched the choker-style electrode on his neck, but he couldn’t do anything about it.
Outside the elevator was a wide open space like a department store or an office building. Everywhere was polished to the point it sparkled. Though there were no windows, the countless light sources could almost make people forget they were still underground.
Accelerator and others’ destination wasn’t one of these rooms, but the wall that was the closest to the edge.
Tsuchimikado looked at the map on his cell phone as he tapped the wall like knocking the door to a club president’s room.
“Here it is. Going down 30 degrees to the east, 80m away is a corridor leading to the Hula Hoop control facility. There is no closer distance than this, and the target location is spacious enough.”
“80 meters, huh.”
“In terms of capability, a certain middle-school student in Judgment can do something of this level as well.”
“…You sure have quite an annoying mouth. I’ll do it already.”
Musujime glared at Tsuchimikado who deliberately reminded her of that twin-tailed Teleporter, and walked towards the wall.
After that, she turned to Accelerator.
“Then, should we start the dimension-hopping now?”
The one who spoke wasn’t Accelerator, but Tsuchimikado Motoharu.
“Your electrode is having trouble now, right?”
“Wait for another 15 minutes. I’ll use the cables from the elevator to make a simple antenna that will allow the radiowaves to reach the facility.”
“Do you need my help?”
Even though I have no tools with me right now. Towards Unabara who added that last sentence, Tsuchimikado only shook his head.
“You go contact the ‘man on the other side of the phone’. Using the emergency lines you should be able to reach a temporary connection with the board of directors. After contacting them make preparations to make sure no other forces or specialists get in our way. It’s not our problem if they want to get themselves killed, but if they get dragged into this it’ll get troublesome.”
After that, Tsuchimikado smiled at Unabara who was standing at one side with his head tilted, with an expression saying ‘Why me?’, and said,
“It’s because your looks are very popular with old people nyaa.”
“This is just a complete fake.”
This teenage boy who wasn’t Japanese, let alone Asian, scratched his face that was fairly popular with the Japanese people.
Tsuchimikado finally turned to face Accelerator,
“Listen up. We start in 15 minutes. Though I think there probably won’t be any problems, before we start I suggest you check your electrode once again, make sure no other problems pop up. It doesn’t matter if you die, but I definitely won’t allow the kids that were taken hostage to get hurt.”
This world’s largest particle accelerator, Hula Hoop, that was built 200m underground, could accelerate protons to 99.22% of the speed of light, and maintain that speed for up to 300 seconds.
But, even such a large device had its own limits.
Surpassing the speed it was designed to hold, or running it longer than it was supposed to would both lead to Hula Hoop’s explosion; that meant enough gamma radiation to cover a third of Academy City would be released.
But up to this point, this boy didn’t know any of that.
Before, he didn’t have the memory of having guns pointed at his head by masked men, or the experience of having his hands tied behind his back by someone else. The time where he trembled as around 30 people which included his classmates, teacher, and the driver was also a nightmare that he had never experienced in reality.
“Stabilizing at 50% of speed of light. Hula Hoop is only a restricting measure, it’s not a bargaining chip. That’s why we captured these brats.”
“If we go too far the higher ups will blow us sky-high along with this underground facility. There are no civilian structures above our heads, just bare runways, so they can make this place blow up to their heart’s content.”
“That’s why we needed Hula Hoop, isn’t it? As long as we make it appear as if this place will explode any time, we can stop the board of directors’ desperate actions.”
“Confirm the escape routes. After negotiations we’ll explode a small section of the control facility when the outer ring of Hula Hoop while it’s operating at 70% lightspeed. Then we’ll put on the anti-radiation powered suits at emergency shelter B and break through while they are hurriedly preparing for their own anti-radiation gear.”
Dangerous and outlandish words floated above the boy’s head.
There were no signs that he would be released safely.
It didn’t matter if things took a turn for better or worse, there was no future for him and the others here.
Despair had taken over his brain and it reverberated throughout his body.
Ignoring the boy that shook uncontrollably at one side, one of the masked men that looked like their leader looked at his watch and said,
“Mah, from the start I didn’t think we’d get the higher ups to respond without ‘taking care of’ at least one person… is the camera ready? We’ll start the negotiations for real soon, hurry up with that.”
After hearing those words filled with hints, the masked underlings started to move. The recording equipment was nothing special, it was just an add-on on one of their cell phones. Though to prevent it being traced a strange machine had been added onto the cable leading from it.
“The images and sound can be transmitted at any time now.”
“The direct links to the Anti-Skill Headquarters and the board of directors are complete. With one signal we can have a live recording.”
“Alright, let us begin.”
As soon as his words left his mouth, the man who looked like the leader grabbed the boy’s hair with one hand. The fear that exceeded the pain made him cry out loudly, but the other party completely ignored it. The boy was then dragged all the way in front of the camera.
Words of objection were sealed before they were even yelled out of his mouth.
In the hands of the man who looked like the leader was a gun that looked like the real thing in anyone’s eyes.
“Give him a final mercy and cover his eyes.”
Resistance was futile. Both his hands were tied behind his back; but even if they were not, what could a single child do? Immediately a strip of cloth was tied around his head and covered his sight.
“Make him kneel and start the live broadcast.”
In the darkness, his wrist was being grabbed by someone and he was lifted up. Somebody stepped behind him and a cold, hard touch came in contact with the back of his head.
The high-performance focal aperture on the cell phone camera moved slightly, and next to the boy’s ear the sound of a small motor rang out.
The man that stood behind him said the following in a manner like speaking from a script which had been prepared earlier:
“We wished to solve this in a peaceful manner, having once and again given you the alternative where blood will not have to be shed; but the answer we received is not the one we wanted. We must have made you misunderstand us, made you think we didn’t have the courage to take decisive action. If that was the case we apologize here.”
The boy could feel the hair on the back of his neck rising.
“To give you the ability to decide, this time we’ll hint at our intention. But, this is an action that was originally not necessary, and the blood that will flow is one that is not needed. Grieve, and regret your foolish decisions.”
A *kacha* sound came from the gun that was pointed at the back of his head.
Though he didn’t realize that was the hammer being pulled by the thumb, but he could understand that was a key signal for something.
“In addition, if you do not make a decision soon, we promise more unnecessary blood will flow. We will not be stingy in that manner. We are willing to gather everything that will change your minds. So, we will be using everything that we have to their furthest extent. Though we do not wish to do so.”
He wanted to run away.
He wanted to scream.
But if he did that, the worst outcome would arise.
“Then, we’ll use the first one.”
If he stayed silent he would only be killed.
Even if he knew that, if he resisted he would only be killed earlier.
He didn’t dare to move.
Even if he knew he would be killed if he didn’t move, he couldn’t even move a finger on his hands that were tied behind his back.
“Let’s start the negotiation here.”
As the boy found he still had that emotion under this terror, he finally opened his trembling mouth.
“…This kind of…”
This wasn’t begging for his life; he was not begging for his life.
“…This kind of plan, it cannot possibly succeed…”
On the contrary,
“No matter how much you people scheme, no matter what kind of horrible weapon you prepare, your crimes will never be forgiven.”
At least, he was fighting back at the end of the end.
“That’s what I believe. This world is far kinder than any of you villains believe!! No matter what you have planned to escape, there will be heroes to come and apprehend you! Everyone will be saved. Somewhere in this wide world there will be someone that will come and save everyone!”
The man who looked like he was the leader spoke for the first time to the boy.
Except that his words were extremely simple.
“Even if such heroes exist, they will not make it in time to save you.”
Small weak sounds of trembling reached his ears.
They were the sounds coming from the inside of the gun and passing right through to his skull. The index finger slowly pulling the trigger, the small springs starting to contract.
At this time, the boy that had his eyes covered went further and even closed his eyes.
Even so, to the end the boy mouthed,
‘Don!’ A sound of gunfire rang out.
That sound shook the boy’s skull, and his surroundings were filled with the smell of rust.
In that instant,
Inside the control facility of the world’s largest particle accelerator, Hula Hoop, authentic sounds of gunfire rang out. Red-black liquid splattered across the floor, the air was permeated with the smell of rust, and mixed in with it was the distinctive smell of gunpowder burning. The sound of the shell falling onto the ground followed after that.
Undoubtedly, he had opened fire.
The merciless bullet had been shot out and pierced muscle and bone.
A dull thud, being the sound of the boy’s small figure falling onto the hard ground. The clothes designed for kids were dyed completely red. It couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than blood.
That, was not the boy’s own blood.
That was something that flowed out of the arms of the man who looked like the leader.
From beside him, in his blind spot, another person had shot the arm of the masked man.
After blankly looking at his arm—the gun was blasted out, his arm was twisted unnaturally by 45 degrees, the man who looked like the leader felt pain only a moment later.
But, screams did not ring out.
As soon as that man’s eyes left the camera and looked outside the area covered by it, more gunshots followed. After the sounds of *don don don*, the man who looked like the leader was shot all over his body and blown away.
The panicked voices of the other masked men overlapped each other.
But at this time, ‘that somebody outside the camera view’ continued to fire. The man that was filming with a cell phone was shot, and collapsed along with the machine. The higher ups that were watching the live broadcast only saw the view turning up towards the ceiling, then gray static.
Because the lens was shattered.
Because he couldn't see and could only hear the sounds, the boy with his eyes covered opened his mouth,
With a voice that couldn't stop shaking, a weak voice.
An evil reply, as if to overturn everything here.
“A villain that’s just like a piece of shit.”
The villain’s shoe completely smashed the cell phone being used for recording.
With that sound as the signal, the battle with the #1 of Academy City began!
Level 5s were still human.
It didn’t matter if it was the #1 or anyone else, they were all primates.
No matter what kind of special ability they possessed, if they didn’t breathe or didn’t eat they would die. They had a limited life-span, and if stabbed they would also bite the dust.
If they were humans with the same weaknesses, then there would be a way to kill them.
Spark Signal originally was a special force made to combat those that planned to leak inside information of Academy City to those on the outside. In their activities they had also fought with powerful espers countless times. So, when facing espers that could create incredible phenomena, Spark Signal could respond appropriately. First calmly analyze the opponent, then find a way to defeat him.
The masked men of Spark Signal had believed that all this time.
That was something they firmly believed in.
Was the #1 of Academy City really human?
Boom! A sound that swept through the air exploded out.
The multiple bullets in his hands shot out, and each of them accurately pierced through the terrorists of Spark Signal.
Of course, they hadn’t come here to just die when they planned this large-scale mission. At this place, this time, as a human they all felt their lives were in danger. To be released from this threat, they unreservedly used all the techniques and knowledge they had learned up to this point, bringing their full strength to fight back against the white-haired esper.
Some of them tried to shoot with their rifles from behind cover.
Some of them tried to use hostages to stop their opponent’s movement.
Some of them tried to use dynamite to destroy the columns and bury their opponent in the rubble.
These were good actions, except it was all meaningless.
Forget about it even having an effect, there was no value in even trying.
The bullets didn’t work.
As soon they touched the monster’s skin, they were reflected back and shot the terrorists themselves.
Taking hostages didn’t work.
As soon as they tried to reach for the kids, their wrists were twisted in an unnatural manner.
Dynamite didn’t work.
As soon as they tried to push the button for it to explode, their fingers were blown away along with the button.
It was more than just these, one of the masked members of Spark Signal thought.
That face of his that could not be seen from outside was already covered with cold sweat. He felt that the essence of the escalating terror in his heart was more than just those.
The #1 esper of Academy City, Accelerator, was taking all of this completely seriously.
He didn’t excessively use his overwhelming power. Even seeing the terrorist falling one after another he did not get careless. If he relaxed then maybe they still had a chance, but Accelerator didn’t even give that small possibility to his opponents.
Sometimes with his ability, sometimes with his handgun, he always used the smallest amount of effort to obtain the greatest results. It was no longer a battle between humans, or even between humans and a monster. Simple destruction that needed no emotions.
It was just like a homing missile that was closing in on a fighter plane that tried desperately to run away.
This wasn’t a matter of winning or losing, but whether you get hit. If it hit there was not much chance of surviving. The disaster that Accelerator spread had already reached that level.
(Do you know how much effort we put in to create this plan…)
Staring blankly at the Level 5 who, with some kind of ability, soared through the air in an arc to strike at one of his comrades, this man tried desperately to make his confused head work.
(We’ve used everything Spark Signal has, apart from the main plan there were many other back-up plans… We’ve clearly prepared to this extent, clearly… In the end we’re still taken down like weeds…?!)
At this time,
Inside a pool of deep red blood, that monster who had just ripped apart one of his comrades and taken away his ability to think turned its head towards him.
(What do I do…)
Those crimson eyes met his own eyes head on.
That looked just like an infrared aiming scope, Spark Signal’s terrorist thought.
It couldn’t even be called a showdown.
He was aimed at, and then shot.
In total, it only took 300 seconds.
The world’s largest particle accelerator, Hula Hoop, had become peaceful once more.
The boy understood.
Though he had his eyes covered and could not see what had happened, but the tense atmosphere that could ignite with a single touch had vanished. The world of despair made by the terrorists was slowly disappearing.
Around him came a sound of gasping from fright.
It was probably from the boy’s classmates and teacher.
From their heavy breathing not a trace of relief could be felt, as the method of solving the problem had been so overly violent.
The boy struggled desperately with his hands tied behind his back, and right before the rope grinded through his skin, one of his hands was finally released from the binding. With that shaking hand he took off his blindfold.
The long absence from light made him dizzy.
He reached his hand towards the fluorescent lights, narrowed his eyes and looked around. ‘That person’ should still be around. The boy who thought that suddenly turned his head towards a certain direction.
Next to the wall.
One of the terrorists who had been struck down was lying there in his dying moments. A white-haired person with a crutch stood parallel with the terrorist. Except that he could not see the face of the white-haired person. What expression this person, who had his back to him, had on his face could not be seen from his point of view.
…The boy was submerged in that atmosphere in an instant.
But, this didn’t seem like reality.
Because, in the next instant that white-haired person disappeared into thin air. Without any warning, almost like a plot in a movie, the white-haired person vanished without a trace.
The boy looked blankly at the empty space there.
A villain that was just like a piece of shit.
His mind kept thinking about the one who he believed was a hero, but had unhesitatingly replied with those words.
“Thank you for your hard work. You did a good job, O Great He~ro~ <3”
As Musujime actually tried to talk to Accelerator in that way, he almost pulled the trigger on her in his anger.
His sudden disappearance was obviously her helping him retreat with her Move Point. Spark Signal had been eliminated, what was left was for the Hula Hoop’s workers to unlock the doors and the escalators, and get the children out above ground quickly.
There was no more room for villains to step in on the stage.
Accelerator looked around him. This was the underground where they had been before their assault, a place that tested aviation weaponry. In this place where the walls were polished until it sparkled like a high-class market, apart from Musujime both Unabara and Tsuchimikado were there.
“There’s something I really mind. What did those pieces of shit terrorists actually demand from the higher ups?”
After hearing Accelerator’s words, Tsuchimikado’s brows raised slightly.
“…While you were there in your rampage we tried to investigate, but their defenses are more robust than what we thought. We can only guess this is something that the higher ups really don’t want others to know.”
“I didn’t expect you to get anything useful at all. Shut up and listen, fool.”
After Accelerator finished insulting others, he brought the conversation back to the main point.
“When I was suppressing those bastards in Hula Hoop I heard some of their conversations. They were saying with tears in their eyes ‘At this rate we won’t be able to achieve our objective’ and things like that.”
“…Did they leak out what their demands were?”
Faced with Unabara’s urging, Accelerator went silent.
Then, he replied,
That word with only six letters in it made the atmosphere around them tense up in an instant.
That classified information which had only its name recorded even in the secret nano-machine information network Underline. Even for Accelerator and the others with him, who walked the bottommost of the dark side, didn't know the truth of it. But was this a breakthrough point that could allow them to fight the higher ups of the massive Academy City? It was not hard to deduce that this was a word that had a huge meaning to it.
Accelerator, Tsuchimikado Motoharu, Unabara Mitsuki and Musujime Awaki.
They had a temporary alliance as they sought the truth of Dragon for their different goals.
From the looks of it, the ones investigating Dragon was not just limited to them.
Just like presenting evidence, Accelerator said,
“Immediately release all information related to Dragon. That was, apparently, the demand of those brain-dead terrorists. In the end we’ve been fooled by the higher ups, and cut down our only link to it with our eyes wide open.”
Between the lines 1
Academy City’s first district was lined with administrative and judicial facilities and it did not have the sense of livelihood that other, more normal districts had. It had almost no residences or restaurants. In exchange for gathering together all of the functions needed for smoothly operating such a large city, only the bare minimum of functionality for people to live there was prepared. The extremely mechanical cityscape helped reinforce that image of the district.
A single terribly unique building was mixed in with the mostly consistent cityscape of District 1.
It was an office of the board of directors.
Since it took up an entire skyscraper, it went beyond the level of what one would normally think an “office” was. Since its maintenance was paid for entirely with tax money, it may have been more accurate to call it an “official residence”. At any rate, the luxurious building had actually only been prepared for the sole use of one of those 12 influential people within Academy City.
His name was Thomas Platinumburg.
The master of that building was in a splendid and spacious room that was reminiscent of the audience chambers seen in RPG castles. The room took up an entire floor of the building and was used as a reception room. He had no subordinates around. Given his position, it would not have been surprising for him to have had countless guards, but he had sent everyone else away from that large room. He was meeting a guest in his role as a member of the board of directors.
His guest was a mercenary sniper he had personally invited from outside the city.
She was a tall woman. She had white skin and long blonde hair. She possessed a beauty that would have looked more fitting shining under a spotlight than on a dirty battlefield. However, she had a bag large enough to fit an entire person into lying at her feet as she sat on a sofa. The bag most likely contained her stock in trade.
She was a fairly famous woman in her business.
It wasn’t quite clear if being famous was a good thing in her business.
“How is Sunazara Chimitsu-san doing, Stephanie Gorgeouspalace-san?”
Thomas spoke two people’s names.
Stephanie was the name of the sniper and Sunazara was the name of the man who she looked up to as a mentor.
She obediently nodded in response to Thomas’s question.
“His progress is going well. He has not regained consciousness yet, though. Really, it is all thanks to the fact that you lent us an Academy City life support system. If you had not, he would have been gone already.”
“Oh, think nothing of it. It was painful enough knowing that your comrade was injured at the hands of someone from Academy City due to an unfortunate turn of events.”
The five underground organizations of Group, Item, Block, Member, and School had once fought leading to the destruction of a few of them. Sunazara Chimitsu had been hired by one of them and had been defeated by the member of a different one. Explosives had blown the entire building away and he had been injured to the point that he still had not regained consciousness.
When Thomas Platinumburg had received that information, he had secretly recovered the man and sent him, life support system equipped bed and all, outside of the city to Stephanie.
Of course, he had not done it out of good will.
He had done it to have her feel obligated to help him so he could have the advantage in some business he had to carry out.
“So who is the target you wish me to take out?”
“I have documents prepared elsewhere, but I am sure you will recognize the name. He is Academy City’s #1 Level 5 known as Accelerator.”
That request was not on behalf of the leading members of Academy City.
It was an exceedingly personal request.
On September 30, Accelerator had fought the Hound Dog unit led by Kihara Amata and the boy had attacked Thomas Platinumburg’s residence in order to acquire information. In that attack, he had shot Thomas with a shotgun. Thomas’s current action was motivated by revenge.
While it was pure revenge on the emotional side, it would also serve to get any of his subordinates who were growing lax in their duties to shape up.
“Can you do it?”
“If you tell me to, then yes.”
He had expected that response. He had made sure his subordinates were not around for the negotiation as a whole, but mostly because he had prepared a trump card.
“When sniping the target, you need not worry about any damages to the surrounding area. I will cover for anyone or anything that gets damaged in the process. …So if you were to put a bullet in the former Item member Kinuhata Saiai who put Sunazara-san in his current state, there would be no real problem.”
“Oh, I see. And you have already been so helpful in Sunazara-san’s case. Academy City’s technology truly is wonderful. That medical equipment truly is something you would never see anywhere else.”
“Ha ha. Not all of the city’s technology is good, but I am quite proud of the parts that can be used for peace.”
“Indeed. It is amazing how you were able to put a tiny transmitter in Sunazara-san’s body. It seems to work slightly differently from a nanodevice, but you truly cannot find devices that small implanted inside someone’s body elsewhere.”
Immediately afterwards, a chill permeated every inch of that huge room. No, the air had not actually changed. That was simply how it felt through the filter of Thomas Platinumburg’s fear.
“Please wait,” Thomas said holding out a hand. “You have no idea how important the information that could be gained from the technology used in that life support system is. It is targeted for use outside the city meaning it is at a lower grade, but even so it has incredibly valuable information on Academy City technology inside it. We wanted to send Sunazara Chimitsu-san quickly but safely to you. However, having the technological information in the system would be a major problem. That is what the device is for. If we had not put that inside him, we could not have sent him to you so quickly.”
“Oh, I see.”
What Thomas Platinumburg did not realize at that time was something he had no real reason to have noticed, but it was still a fatal oversight.
Stephanie Gorgeouspalace did not usually speak so politely.
She was purposefully altering her speech patterns in order to force down her overflowing emotions.
“So the fact that the grain of rice-sized transmitter also had a mechanism inside it that sends out a special stimulus that allows four of Sunazara-san’s organs to be stopped with a single signal…is merely a safety measure?”
Drops of cold sweat started dripping from Thomas’s body.
But it was too late.
The next thing he knew, Stephanie’s form on the sofa blurred from high speed movement and was suddenly standing right in front of Thomas. Her right hand was stretched out, directly stabbing a quill into his stomach.
Thomas did not even feel the pain of his skin and flesh being torn.
The pain was the least of his worries.
“You can have this back.”
As she pulled out the quill, Stephanie held a small radio in her hand. Thomas assumed that she had embedded something in the wound and that the radio’s frequency was set to send a signal to that something. This thought brought such clear fear of death that his primitive sense of pain went completely numb.
“You made a mistake in trying to add in your little trick. If you had just handed Sunazara-san over and then come to me with your request, I would have readily acted as your pawn.”
Thomas Platinumburg trembled as he stared at Stephanie…or more accurately, the thumb held up against the radio. He threw off the façade of polite speech and made his final piece of negotiation in a cracking voice.
“…If you…cause trouble here, you won’t be able to carry out your revenge… If you…help me…you can easily get revenge for Sunazara…”
“Oh, I forgot to tell you,” Stephanie responded without seeming to think about it at all.
She seemed to be bringing the conversation as a whole to a close.
“The target of my revenge is everyone in Academy City.”
Immediately afterwards, Stephanie unhesitatingly hit the switch on the radio.
The transmitter embedded in Thomas’s wound quickly responded by creating a special electrical stimulus. The man’s organs were functioning normally, but this quickly stopped four of them from functioning and reliably ended his life.
He screamed in his death agony.
Stephanie did not even look in the direction of the body that had fallen to the floor motionless as she put the radio in her pocket with a disinterested look on her face.
She heard footsteps approaching.
Most likely, the guards who wore black suits had heard their master’s scream. Her estimate based on the guard density she had seen on her way to the reception room was that there were about 200 of them.
However, Stephanie’s face did not grow even slightly cloudy. She opened the fastener on the giant bag at her feet while humming and pulled out her stock in trade that was stored inside.
It was not a sniper rifle.
It was a light machine shotgun.
It was a special gun based on the type of rapid-fire machine gun that could be carried around but was usually used while fixed on a tripod. It had been modified so that it only used shotgun ammunition. When fired at close range, the light machine shotgun held enough destructive power that it could transform an armored vehicle into what looked like a crushed can. It was Stephanie’s personal custom gun.
The reason a supposed sniper like Stephanie had taken out such a dangerous weapon was quite simple.
“Sunazara-san always shot small and compact weapons from a distance.”
Unlike when she spoke with Thomas, Stephanie Gorgeouspalace’s speech patterns returned to normal with a bit of yearning mixed in as she muttered to herself.
“But it seems a hell of a lot easier to just get up close and fire like crazy!”
The large door to the room opened wide.
At the same instant, a disastrous storm spread out from the light machine shotgun.
Her revenge began.
- For details, read the 'Railgun SS: Liberal Arts City' novel