Toaru Majutsu no Index:Volume19 Chapter2
Chapter 2: A Simple Yet Complex Problem. V.S._Calamity.
The voice of Shiokishi, a member of the board of directors, filled the RV.
However, that leader of the city was not actually in the RV with Accelerator and the others.
He was speaking from a live video being displayed on the screen.
“Well, what matters most is that the Hula Hoop incident was resolved without any major damage done. …In fact, I saw the report on the battle, and your specs are as amazing as ever.”
For once, Accelerator and the other three agreed on something, they did not want to hear that from him of all people.
It was not a gentle old man that would look good in a tuxedo being displayed on the screen.
Well, that might have been what he actually looked like, but that wasn’t what one saw on the screen.
It was a powered suit.
A powered suit was a collection of highly elastic wires and powerful motors that aided in movement with thick armor covering it. The word “weapon” fit it better than the word “armor”. The short and stout mecha creaked as it sat in an elegant chair.
“Does it bother you?” Shiokishi said in a light voice, although it was unclear which of the four he was speaking to.
He did not seem even remotely uncomfortable about having them look at him so oddly.
“If you think about it rationally, it makes sense. This world is overflowing with things that will kill a human. People often say that it will never happen to them or that no one has any reason to hold a grudge against them…but that’s completely ridiculous. Whether there is some simple reason or not, when people die, they die. And the danger is even greater in a position like mine. If I want to escape any sudden misfortune, I believe I must always be on my guard.”
Shiokishi used the back of his large hand to tap the amber-colored table in front of him.
“That is the main reason that I have been so rude as to do this over a video feed instead of meeting you directly. This way, you do not have to know where I am.”
“What are you so fucking afraid of? You’re probably in some dome-shaped facility that’s on the level of a nuclear shelter.”
“And you think that is enough for me to rest easy? Far from it. This is Academy City. Let’s see, it’s Musujime-kun, right? For people with abilities like hers, the thickness of the walls means nothing. I’m ‘so fucking afraid’ of having a bomb thrown into this room this very instant.”
“…Despite both of you being on the board of directors, you give quite a different impression from Oyafune Monaka,” said Unabara Mitsuki.
He had likely been in contact with her during the Hula Hoop incident.
In contrast to Shiokishi, Oyafune started with trusting others and continued on with harmony and cooperation, making her a rare type among the collection of black-hearted influential people who were known as the board of directors.
“No, Oyafune-kun has her own type of defense,” said Shiokishi. “Much like with the JSDF, she shows off the fact that she is safe and has no ability to invade which keeps others from having a pretext on which to attack. In its own way, that is a very high level skill. I certainly couldn’t emulate it. …Although, she used to be quite skilled at the art of conversation. I guess her daughter had a major effect on her...”
Shiokishi wrapped his arms around the short body of the powered suit.
“But this still leaves me a little uneasy. If I could, I would feel safer using cyborg technology to remake my body itself instead of wearing something, but it seems there are still various issues with that. I believe the delicate equipment has a lifespan of 5 years or thereabouts and having to undergo major surgery to switch out the artificial organs every 5 years is too heavy a burden. Having the individual artificial organs kept compact in a single life support system built into the powered suit lightens that burden and while a cyborg cannot overcome the barrier of the physical body’s capacity, the devices in a powered suit can be easily replaced. I admit that it’s actually just an advanced version of a hospital bed or handheld oxygen tank, but for me, it’s—”
“Shiokishi-san,” said Tsuchimikado cutting him off because he knew that idiots would go on forever when they got fixated on certain subjects. “I’m sure you did not go out of your way to contact us just to allow us to submit our battle reports. It would have been faster to do that via the ‘voice on the phone’.”
“You have probably vaguely picked up on it, but the agent that commands you four is otherwise occupied. There is more than one incident going on in Academy City right now. …I thought it would be taken care of already, but I never expected for that youth who sits at the same table to be done in.”
“You don’t need to be suspicious. You don’t need to feel uneasy about the information that isn’t disclosed to you, because it is all connected. If you do what you must do, you will gather all the information before long.”
At that point, the camera shook. Shiokishi called for some people he referred to as “Sugitani-kun” and “Minobe-kun” and then someone from outside the view of the camera grabbed the camera and moved it back to its proper position.
“Anyway, I am here to ask you to carry out your next job.”
“…Did something else happen so soon?” Tsuchimikado asked being reminded of the incident that had caused fights to the death to break out between the 5 organizations known as Group, School, Member, Item, and Block.
But Shiokishi shook the helmet of his powered suit back and forth.
“It is nothing that serious. Basically, I want you to take out some leftovers. It seems some comrades of the former Spark Signal members that attacked the Hula Hoop are still hiding within Academy City. If we do nothing about them, they could easily put together some kind of second plan.”
There were comrades of the people who had wanted information on Dragon from the very depths of Academy City.
“I will send you data on the details of your target, but I think this will be much simpler than with Hula Hoop. …At the very least, you should be able to take them out with no preparation. Since you managed to get through that job before, I’m sure you can easily manage this.”
Shiokishi then started to wrap up the conversation, but Accelerator suddenly spoke.
“…Does the term Dragon sound familiar to you?”
“It’s a fairly famous word. I think it’s used proudly in video game titles a lot.”
“Tch,” he clicked his tongue.
If Shiokishi had said he didn’t know, he could have pressed further, but he had lost the opportunity. If he continued on, Shiokishi would just continue evading the question.
Whether he knew what Accelerator was after or not, Shiokishi tapped his thick metal palms together and then ended the discussion.
“You all are students, so finish up this boring work and get back to your own lives.”
The party to celebrate Takitsubo Rikou’s release from the hospital was to be held that night.
Hamazura Shiage and Kinuhata Saiai had been forced to make the preparations for that party in a hurry, so they ended up buying various joke goods at a shopping area in District 7.
“…Hey, wait a second. How did we end up in a movie theater and why are we the only ones in the theater 2 minutes before the movie starts?”
“This place specializes in short films, so we’re super okay. They show 10 minute long films with 5 minute breaks in between. By my calculations, we can watch two of them and still have super enough time to meet up with Takitsubo-san.”
“That doesn’t explain why we’re the only two here.”
“Shut up. I actually need to use the bathroom and am super holding it in, so don’t talk to me, Hamazura.”
“You want to see it that much?” Hamazura muttered as his shoulders drooped.
Kinuhata’s hobby was watching movies, but she seemed to have no interest in major Hollywood hits. She only cared about the ones that were referred to as B or C movies.
“Gwah, this is no good. This film only just started showing, but it has a super shitty feel to it only 2 minutes in…”
“This is always how it is when you bring me along!! You’re the one that dragged me in here!!”
Since they were the only two in the theater, Hamazura didn’t hold back as he yelled at her.
However, Kinuhata shook her head with a grave look on her face, completely ignoring Hamazura.
“No, this super isn’t it. I don’t want to see this kind of super self-aware C movie where they decided to make a completely ridiculous C movie for fun. I want to super see something made to super seriously compete with Hollywood, but naturally turned into a C movie due to various circumstances.”
“I see. Well, I can accept that the heroine is wearing a medieval-looking dress despite that fact that the movie takes place in the near future on the grounds that that’s simply the world it takes place in, but I can’t help being bothered by the fact that everyone is sweating as if it were filmed in summer even though the story takes place in the middle of winter.”
“Hamazura, look at the left edge of the screen. You can super see what looks like smokestack from a thermal power station on the opposite shore over there.”
“Seriously? That SF atmosphere they worked so hard to build up is completely gone! I’ve heard of airplanes flying by in the middle of a shot, but a preliminary inspection would make it obvious there was a building there!!”
Even Hamazura, who wasn’t too picky about movies, covered his face with his hands over that one. Meanwhile, Kinuhata started fidgeting and rubbing her thighs together.
“…I can’t do it. I’ve super lost the willpower needed to stay with this horrible film. I’m gonna go to the bathroom. Hopefully, the next short film will be super worth it.”
“Eh? You’re gonna leave this movie to me!?” said Hamazura, but Kinuhata had already left the theater.
He had little choice, so Hamazura watched the strategy meeting just before the climax being shown onscreen. He was watching it more to kill some time than to enjoy the film.
(…Huh? What’s with that map on the wall behind her there?)
Hamazura’s eyes had started to resemble those of a dead fish, but he suddenly started to pay attention again.
(…That’s a map of the craters and mountain ranges on Mars. Why isn’t it a normal world map? If they went out of their way to get a map like that, then…Waaahhhh!?)
His eyes widened like he had been hit by an electric shock.
(This story takes place in the middle of winter, but not in the middle of Earth’s winter!! They were making us think that, but it was actually a story about a modern “what if” world where Mars was developed in an odd way!! In that case, the cast being so hot can be explained as a side effect of the terraforming. And that smokestack wasn’t a mistake, it was…Gwahh!! They got me!!)
And the latter 5 minutes of the story were a sight to behold. The dullness of the first half had been intentional on the part of the director. That dullness had made the second half shine even brighter. It was like a glass of cold water after an exhausting marathon.
If that trick had been used in a 100 minute movie, the viewers would have given up, but this was a short film. After the first five minutes, the viewers would tend to reluctantly watch the rest of it even if the beginning was incredibly boring, so they would make it to the second half. That was how calculated that film had been.
(Wow! Wow!! Wooowww!!!!! What is this? This isn’t a C film. This was definitely made with the intention of defeating Hollywood!!! What the hell? This was only a 10 minute film, right? This was nothing like the world from some regular, everyday trilogy!! They made this with such depth but also made it so you couldn’t tell!)
“Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!” Hamazura Shiage started laughing without realizing it. He was seriously thinking of kissing Kinuhata Saiai on the back of the leg.
(I see, I see. So this is why seeing low-budget short films made by new directors can be worthwhile.)
Hamazura simply could not keep from smiling at the experience he had just had.
But then a chill ran down his back.
He felt someone’s gaze.
He timidly turned around and found the girl who loved movies more than anyone else who had returned from the bathroom.
Her trembling face could be seen peering in through the gap in the slightly opened door. Her expression seemed to be saying, “Nooo!! How could I have missed such an interesting film!?”
After the film was over, Hamazura was walking along next to Kinuhata.
(I see. So the director is called Beverly Seethrough. I need to keep an eye on her stuff…)
Kinuhata was walking along limply as if she had no strength left. She was surrounded by a dark thundercloud-like aura and had an expression as if she felt the world was ending.
“Kinuhata. C’mon, Kinuhata, it’s not so bad. You still win out overall. I never would have come across that film without you. Your antenna that allows you to search out a film like that among the countless films out there is the real deal.”
“…I can’t believe this super Hamazura is feeling sorry for me. With C movies, it’s all about luck. This could be a sign that my sense is starting to become super distorted…”
They exited the movie theater as Kinuhata muttered to herself.
They were on their way back to the hospital to meet up with Takitsubo now that they had killed some time, but then Kinuhata’s cell phone started to ring.
For a short time, Kinuhata did not respond and continued looking on with her dead looking eyes, but she finally answered it with oddly slow movements.
After a short conversation, Kinuhata hung up and looked towards Hamazura.
“Hamazura, go on ahead and super pick up Takitsubo-san. You super know the place, right? If you super take her over to the private salon in District 3, it would be a super help.”
“I have a job. The new team is finally being started, so we have to super gather together and then kill all of the former Spark Signal terrorists who are super targeting Academy City.”
“…I thought you had gone off to some secret meeting point.”
“…I went off to the secret meeting point and got sick of it in 5 minutes, so I super came back.”
Hamazura and Kinuhata looked at each other as they had this exchange.
Kinuhata had returned before Hamazura had even made it to the hospital. Hamazura started to wonder if there was a transmitter hidden on him somewhere, but it didn’t seem so.
It was past the time all students were supposed to have left school and the last train and last bus had already left, so they were walking to the hospital.
“Hey, so what happened? Weren’t you supposed to go fight some terrorists with this new team?”
“I was, but something happened.”
Kinuhata then started telling him what had happened.
Kinuhata Saiai had gone to a dimly lit underground area and looked around at the various people waiting there. She had frowned and a well-timed cell phone call had come.
“Thanks for coming, everyone. Item, School, Block, and Member were destroyed a while back. It’s always like that with you people.☆ Anyway, this new team was created from the leftovers, so please get along with your comrades who you tried to kill before!”
“Hey, wait a second! I doubt that!! What kind of memory is that to start with!?”
“I thought it was a joke at first too, but it seems she was super serious. I super couldn’t stand it, so I ran off. Oh, right. The Measure Heart girl in the dress asked me to say hi to you, Hamazura.”
“…Dammit, I have nothing but bad memories of her,” Hamazura said dejectedly, but then he suddenly raised his head. “But wait. Was that really okay? Those people on the phone have a lot of power, right? Will you be okay having ignored one of their orders?”
“It’s super not okay. That’s why I want a bit of help, Hamazura. If I super carry out my assignment before I’m brought back to that new team, they can’t complain.”
“Hah?” said the boy in shock, but Kinuhata continued on readily.
“I want you to super steal a car like normal and help me out. We’ll use it to chase after the former Spark Signal members who were with the group that attacked the Hula Hoop and then super finish them off. We can’t leave Takitsubo-san waiting too long, so let’s finish this off super quickly.”
“Wait just a damn second. Weren’t you just saying that I didn’t have to obey Item anymore? What happened to the Hamazura Shiage who would wash his hands of all that dirty business and support his lovely Takitsubo-chan?”
“Then you can just super leave me be and go with Takitsubo-san to the private salon. She’ll likely be worried about me when I super don’t show up, but you can just super enjoy yourself on your own.”
“Fuck!! This is her party and you’re just going to leave!?”
“If you don’t like it, then super hurry up and get us a car already. Let’s super kill those former Spark Signal bastards and then get to the party, okay? Okay, Hamazura, okay?”
At the end, she started using a sweet, coaxing voice and Hamazura ended up clicking his tongue and sticking his hand in his pocket while half in tears. He pulled out the wire-like tools he used to unlock cars.
While glancing over at Kinuhata who was calling Takitsubo to tell her to head to the private salon in District 3 ahead of them, Hamazura easily opened the door of a family car parked on the street.
“You really are the type that relies on the people you know, aren’t you?”
“Did you super say something, Subordinate Hamazura?”
The RV Accelerator, Tsuchimikado Motoharu, Musujime Awaki, and Unabara Mitsuki were riding in headed to District 3 where celebrities tended to gather.
Tsuchimikado displayed the order data Shiokishi had sent over on the large screen.
“There are 20 of them. It seems they have sub-machine guns and grenades prepared for that many, but…well, Shiokishi was right about this being an easy job. It seems their job was mainly to provide support for the main group.”
“Sure, killing them will be easy,” said Accelerator while sitting on a cot and glaring at Tsuchimikado. “But are we just going to do what those fuckers on the board of directors say? If we play this right, we might be able to press them for some information on Dragon.”
“So are you saying we join the former Spark Signal terrorists, the people who occupied the Hula Hoop and used a child as a hostage for their negotiations?”
“In our position, we of course do need to search for information on Dragon, but we can’t do it the wrong way. Those former Spark Signal members are just a bunch of terrible bastards. If nothing is done about them, they could easily occupy some other building and take more hostages. …And if you truly want to press for information on the mystery of Dragon by dragging complete strangers into the mix, then the four of us will have to split.”
“Tch,” said Accelerator clicking his tongue disinterestedly.
He was a truly fearsome Level 5 who had even been dropped from a bomber as a strategic weapon, but he truly hated causing damage to civilians (or more accurately, to the peaceful world in which a certain little girl lived).
Now that Accelerator had been silenced, Musujime opened her mouth.
“Where are these remnants of the former Spark Signal members hiding?”
“They’re moving through an underground mall directly below a train station. The place has already closed, so there aren’t any other people there. Since they’re going out of their way to head through there, it must not be too much trouble for them to break through the security.”
Most shopping districts stayed open late into the night, but the ones in the same facility as a train station were different. When the last train left, the underground mall below it would close too.
Tsuchimikado operated a remote control and a map of the underground mall appeared on the screen.
“They most likely know that the main force at the Hula Hoop was defeated. It seems they are moving through the underground mall to get to a vehicle they have parked elsewhere to move to yet another location. It isn’t clear if they are purely attempting to flee or if they are switching to a secondary plan that uses an even more destructive weapon.”
“So where is their getaway vehicle located?” asked Unabara, but Tsuchimikado merely pointed towards the wall of the RV.
“I instructed the driver to circle around ahead of them. If we destroy the vehicle and have someone wait for them, we can prevent things from going the way the former Spark Signal members want it to. …Of course, it won’t end there. We will leave an anchor here and the other three will perform a sweep of the underground mall. If we use some pinpoint shooting with Musujime’s Move Point and then have Unabara and me take them out while they’re confused, this will be over before you know it.”
Accelerator frowned upon hearing that.
A faint smile appeared on Tsuchimikado’s face when he saw the #1 glaring at him. He lightly tapped his own neck and spoke.
“With the Depart and Hula Hoop battles back-to-back like that, you need to conserve your electrode’s battery.”
He had no real reason to obey him, but he had no real reason to help them either. Accelerator decided that if those idiots were going to take care of the odd jobs on their own, he would just let them.
At that point, the RV stopped moving.
Tsuchimikado reached his hand out towards the back door that led outside.
“C’mon, let’s go. Time for a regular everyday fight to the death.”
From the standpoint of one’s wallet, the underground mall in District 3 was a place that required some courage to step into.
The area the former Spark Signal members were heading through was already closed, so there were no other people there. They were more specifically in an area that had many different sports brands of clothing. They had an entire eras worth of uniforms from a world famous soccer league lined up. People who understood that type of thing could accept how much they cost, but those who did not understand would be at a loss as to why anyone would pay that much. The place was filled with items that had that sort of value.
“(…Oh, there they are. Hm, they have light weight low recoil submachine guns that can be used with one hand, but they’ve ruined them by putting heavy grenade launchers on them. This might be even easier than expected.)”
“(…Have they not thought about how dangerous it is to use grenades in an enclosed space?)”
While peering around the corner of a corridor, Tsuchimikado and Unabara spoke to each other.
They used a cell phone to call Musujime who was waiting a little ways away.
“The targets have been spotted at Point BBE. Can you confirm?”
“I want to just go ahead and kill them. Could you give me the signal?”
“We’ll begin on the count of 5. Start with the outer edges.”
Tsuchimikado hung up the phone and gripped his handgun with both hands.
The 20 former Spark Signal terrorists headed towards them through the darkness.
At exactly 5 seconds after he had hung up, a corkscrew pierced the shoulder of one of the armed members making almost no noise.
Musujime Awaki’s Move Point made no noise in and of itself. The slight sound that had been made was most likely the sound of the flesh around the wound being spread out by the corkscrew appearing having ignored the third dimension.
A scream resounded through the area.
However, the former Spark Signal group did not realize they were being attacked at first.
A second, a third, and then a fourth corkscrew attacked them.
People on the outer edges of the group simultaneously fell to the ground and writhed around. The former Spark Signal group finally figured out what was going on and stood stock still as they were unsure which direction to run in since people on all sides of them had been hit.
That confused motionlessness lasted only 2 or 3 seconds, but Tsuchimikado did not overlook it.
“Let’s go,” he said quietly to Unabara and held his gun around the corner.
He unhesitatingly pulled the trigger.
Unlike before, a clear gunshot and muzzle flash was created and more of the terrorists collapsed. Perhaps because this was not a mysterious attack and they were able to comprehend what had happened, the remaining targets returned fire with their submachine guns in Tsuchimikado’s direction as they searched for something to hide behind.
Tsuchimikado and Unabara fired from the front and Musujime used her Move Point from a different direction, so the former Spark Signal members continued to go down.
In no time at all, half of them had been taken out.
“(…Oh, shit. A grenade!!)”
Tsuchimikado saw one of them reaching a finger towards the other trigger near the trigger to the submachine gun, so he concentrated his fire there.
However, the former Spark Signal members were good.
All ten of them aimed their grenades towards Tsuchimikado and Unabara in unison. The 10 explosives were fired at once and coffee can-like objects flew through the air in an arc.
“(…Jump!!)” Tsuchimikado yelled as he broke a window on the side of the corridor and jumped through into a store.
But Unabara did not follow.
Instead, he reached for a large button on the wall. It activated a security/fire shutter. When he pressed the button with his palm, a thick metal barrier wall fell down just before the grenades hit.
It stopped the explosives.
A number of large explosions could be heard on the other side of the wall and the shutters became warped in his direction. However, the explosions and fragments did not injure Unabara.
“You dumbass!!” Tsuchimikado yelled at him. “Now we can’t attack them!! Giving them time only lets them gather more firepower for a counterattack!!”
The two of them moved around the shop with the broken window in an attempt to circumvent the shutter and return to the battlefield, but that time lag of a few seconds greatly affected the next turn of events.
A new explosion reverberated through the underground area.
It had not been created in an attempt to attack Tsuchimikado, Musujime, or Unabara.
Tsuchimikado hurriedly checked on the state of the passageway and saw that a large hole had been opened in the ceiling on the other side of a cloud of dust. It was in the exact place the former Spark Signal group had previously been. The fallen rubble had piled up like a staircase making a perfect route to the surface.
And the former Spark Signal group had completely vanished.
They had clearly escaped.
“Dammit!!” Tsuchimikado swore as he grabbed his cell phone.
He was calling Accelerator who was waiting on the surface.
“They escaped from the underground mall!! There are about 10 of them! We’ll be heading up with Musujime’s Move Point, but you head out to intercept them!! I doubt they’re still headed there!!”
Accelerator could clearly see the explosion even from where he waited.
Something white was floating up into the air, but he wasn’t sure if it was smoke or dust made up of building material. He took his modern cane and headed in that direction when he received even more information.
The asphalt had been blown upwards from below.
A large number of fragments had spread around and had smashed car windshields and restaurant windows to pieces.
A girl was crouched down holding her bleeding head.
He could hear groans and cries from all over the place and the distant sound of an approaching ambulance’s siren was mixed in with it all.
The former Spark Signal group seemed to have already fled.
Accelerator looked at the yelling people and at the onlookers who had gathered as he ever so slightly gritted his teeth.
“(…So this is the result when a bunch of piece of shit villains gather together.)”
Tsuchimikado and the others were likely in pursuit of the former Spark Signals, but Accelerator had no intention of just doing what he said. It was upon seeing that scene that he truly started considering shooting the former Spark Signals.
His fingertips slowly approached the switch to the choker-style electrode around his neck, but then he heard an especially loud yell.
A lot of people had been caught up in the sudden incident, but that one stood out among them all. Accelerator looked in that direction without really thinking about it, approached, and saw a high school-aged boy yelling at a rescue worker. It seemed the rescue worker was trying to treat a woman the boy knew, but the student was frantically trying to stop him.
The woman looked college-aged or older. The papers that had fallen from her bag looked school related, so she might have been a teacher. She looked more seriously injured than the high school boy who had only a single trail of blood on his forehead. She was slumped over unconscious. Normally, she would need to be treated right away, but…
“Stop!! Stop!! Don’t use that medicine!! You can’t!! It’ll just have the opposite effect!!”
“But if she doesn’t get something to give her some strength, she won’t make it to the hospital! Do you know what her heart rate is!? I already checked, and she showed no allergic reaction to this drug. Why are you trying to stop me from treating her!?”
Both the high school boy and the rescue worker were getting worked up.
“…You just can’t,” the boy clinging to the rescue worker’s arm finally said as if he were squeezing out the words. “She’s…pregnant.”
With that last word, the rescue worker’s expression turned to one of shock. There was no need to ask for the details regarding that situation.
The high school boy averted his gaze and desperately moved his trembling lips.
“I’ve heard that drugs that normal people have no issue with can have a negative effect on a fetus. What about that one? Will it really be okay? What if that kills it!?”
It was a delicate situation. The drug had been developed on the assumption that it would not be used on infants or pregnant women, so no tests had ever been run. Not even a professional rescue worker like him knew what to do when it actually came down to it.
“I’ll be honest. When I first heard that she was pregnant, I thought my life was over. I didn’t know what to do. I just wished the problem could disappear… actually, I still feel that way. I still wonder why things ended up this way.” The high school boy bit his lip. “We were walking along here on what I suppose could be called a date. It was mostly to calm me down from the panic I was in. I just couldn’t figure out what to do. But this isn’t what I wanted. Is it really going to end like this? What do I want to do? Did I want to leave her? Then why am I clinging to her like this…?”
After saying that much, he fell silent.
Finally, he desperately moved his lips, speaking quietly in a cracking voice.
“I don’t want to lose them…”
As the high school boy trembled, tears welled up in his eyes and he used all his strength to yell.
“Even if I decided in this direction, this isn’t how I would have wanted it!! I still have no idea what I want to do, but I can’t let it end like this!! Please, do something!! You’re an expert at saving people’s lives, right!? So please save both of them!!”
The rescue worker seemed a bit flustered.
However, no matter how much he thought about it, there was only one thing he could do.
One path would likely save neither and the other would certainly save one.
As a professional, he knew which one he had to choose.
“…Let me use this. If I don’t, the mother will die, too!!”
As they once again reached their stalemate, they both heard the sound of a cane striking the ground.
It was Accelerator.
“Out of the way.”
“Hah…? W-wait a second! Outsiders shouldn’t do anythi—!!”
Accelerator knocked the rescue worker aside without even waiting for him to finish speaking and moved to the spot the man had previously been in. He leaned over and reached a hand up to the switch of his choker electrode. He then lightly reached a hand towards the pregnant woman’s belly.
He had once calculated back from the electrical signals on the surface of the skin in order to completely rewrite the structure of a small girl’s brain so he could save her.
It was not difficult for him to gather accurate information on the fetus by touching the pregnant woman’s belly.
(…Gender: Female. Weight: 244 grams. Nutrition Supply Level: 3825. Consciousness Operation Rate: 3.8. Heart Rate: 60. Stimulus Reaction Rate: 5.52. Cell Division: 88…)
After only a few seconds with his eyes shut, Accelerator returned the electrode’s switch to normal.
He spoke to the rescue worker who had fallen to the ground.
“Give her the drug. Give her 2.5 grams of ectrin. Put a surface chip over her carotid artery and inject it inside her over five 10 second periods with 20 second breaks in between. That will do it.”
“Wait!!” The one objecting was the high school boy not the rescue worker. “What will happen to the fetus!?”
“That’s what I was fucking calculating, you piece of shit!!” Accelerator yelled back and the boy fell silent.
The #1 continued on.
“If you truly don’t want them to die, then do as I say. If you do that, it won’t have any negative effects on the mother or the fetus. You don’t want them both to die while you argue, do you?”
Having said what he had to say, Accelerator turned towards the rescue worker without waiting for the boy to respond.
“If you’re gonna do it, you only have 5 minutes to decide. You want to save both if you can, right? Then try my way. You’ll still be using the same drug. Do you really have any reason not to do it?”
The rescue worker shook his head and pulled a chip that looked like a stick of gum out of his kit. As Accelerator told him, he put the chip on her neck for a short time, pulled it off, and then continued to repeat the action.
And once he had done it 5 times like Accelerator had said…
At first, the high school boy did not know who had made that small groan.
When the woman who had been unconscious up until that point opened her eyes, it truly looked like the boy was going to collapse to the ground.
“…It had no effect on the fetus. Doesn’t look like there was any change to its cell division rate. Just take her to the hospital like this,” Accelerator said to the rescue worker after having briefly flipped on the electrode and used his fingertips to check.
“But don’t take her to the District 3 hospital. Take her to District 7 instead. It’s a bit farther away, but that hospital definitely won’t try to avoid dealing with her. With a delicate patient like her, not all places you take her will accept her. Taking her somewhere you know will take her will be quicker overall.”
Accelerator then turned his back on them.
He couldn’t stay there forever. To make sure the same thing didn’t happen again, he had to take out the fleeing former Spark Signals.
“Hey!! Wait a second! Hey!!”
It was the high school student. He was yelling after Accelerator who stopped in place but did not turn around.
The boy desperately spoke to Accelerator’s back.
“Thank you. If you hadn’t done something there, I definitely would have lived the rest of my life as an empty shell.”
“...Fuck off,” Accelerator muttered, but it seemed the boy hadn’t heard him.
He continued to speak.
“I won’t forget what you did for me. I will never forget that you saved something more important to me than my own life!! If you ever need something from me, I can try to pay you back. So…”
The boy’s words trailed off.
He did so because of a sharp noise and a dull shock on his cheek.
He wasn’t quite sure what had happened and then he noticed something black and hard pressed up against his forehead. It was a small handgun. Accelerator had pulled the gun from his belt, lightly struck the boy on the cheek with the grip, and then stuck the barrel up against his forehead. It seemed this was going to cause another uproar, but the #1 didn’t seem to care.
He repeated his two words from before.
For a bit, the high school boy was unable to speak and he took a few steps back. Finally, he bowed deeply in thanks to Accelerator. He then turned his back and ran towards the ambulance the woman he knew had been loaded onto.
After the ambulance drove off, Accelerator put the handgun back in his belt and slowly looked around the area.
He muttered something.
However, what he said did not reach anyone’s ears.
Finally, he reached a slender finger up towards the electrode’s switch.
An explosive noise rang out.
The injured and the onlookers at the scene did not see Accelerator after that.
All that was left was a new large crack running across the asphalt that seemed to indicate the fury of a monster.
Hamazura Shiage was driving the (stolen) family car from District 7 to District 3. He was on an overhead bypass road. He was supposed to be chasing after the terrorists to help out Kinuhata, but…
“Hey, what he fuck!? What the hell is that chasing us!?”
With a look of shock, Hamazura checked the rearview mirror and then turned his head around to get a better look.
His reaction wasn’t too surprising.
“That’s an HsAFH-11 ‘Six Wings’. …It’s an unmanned attack helicopter,” said Kinuhata with a look of light irritation one would usually associate with getting caught in traffic.
The military helicopter reminded Hamazura of an Apache and it looked like it had a wing with missiles on it sticking out on the left and right. But that wasn’t quite accurate. The wings split into three each forming six wings that moved around like the joints in a human arm as they aimed.
All six wings were aimed at the family car Hamazura was driving.
As Hamazura looked in the mirror at the helicopter that was flying at low altitude and matching their speed, he gave a loud gulp.
“Fuck this!! All I did was steal a car to help you out! Does that usually turn out this badly!?”
“Does that look like an Anti-Skill toy, Hamazura!? It super isn’t!!”
“Then what is it? Is this a counterattack by the terrorists you’re after? Do the terrorists have weapons like this!?”
“No, the Six Wings is an unmanned weapon belonging to Academy City’s air defense unit. They super wouldn’t send this out for just a criminal!”
“So this is Academy City doing this!? And high up in the city at that!? I can only think of one reason why this is happening and that’s the fact that you ignored the order you got on the phone!!”
“…Hmm. I think you might be jumping to a hasty conclusion.”
“Why are you so relaxed!? Do you understand the situation here!? Do you know how fast a military helicopter can fly!?”
“Hm? That’s a super HsAFH-11, so its maximum speed is around 3000 kph.”
“Mach 2.5!? Is that thing really a helicopter!?”
“It super can’t use its rocket engines when its wings are spread out like that because the wind pressure would super damage its joints. Right now, it can only go about 3 or 4 hundred kph.”
“Either way, we’re kinda fucked with only this family car!!”
The Six Wings had perfectly matched its movements to those of the family car, so it looked frozen in place in the mirror. …Hamazura didn’t know the details, but it seemed to have locked onto them.
“What do we do!? If that thing shoots a missile, it’s all over!!”
“We just need to pray it uses a short range anti-armored vehicle missile,” was the ridiculous-sounding thing Kinuhata said as she bent over as if she were tying her shoes.
“I don’t see how that makes much of a difference!!”
“It does,” said Kinuhata as she straightened back up. “It seems the Six Wings super uses an SRM21 for a short range anti-armored vehicle missile. It super uses an infrared sensor to get a lock.”
“And!? Whether it uses a very high frequency radar, infrared rays, or ultraviolet rays, we still can’t get away from it!! Do you know how fast a missile moves!?”
“Here, super breathe in some of this smokescreen and calm down.”
“Cough cough!? A-a smoke grenade!! Don’t activate that thing in the car!!”
“Are you sure? Using it this way can be super useful,” Kinuhata said nonchalantly as she threw the smoke grenade out the passenger side window.
Immediately afterwards, a comparatively short missile was fired from one of the Six Wings’ arm-like wings.
Hamazura thought his heart was going to stop, but the missile did not strike the family car’s exhaust pipe blowing the car away.
They avoided that fate due to the smoke grenade.
The dummy heat source had made the short range missile to veer off course.
“That’s super what you call a flare,” Kinuhata said smoothly, but the threat was not over.
With a loud boom, the missile exploded on the road surface where the smoke grenade had landed. They had avoided a direct hit, but the intense explosive wind created assaulted the family car. The car’s windows shattered and the car itself trembled unnaturally. Hamazura desperately tried to bring the car’s spin under control.
Meanwhile, the Six Wings continued to follow the family car as the wind from its rotor blew away the smoke caused by the explosion.
Even though Hamazura could just floor it because there were almost no other cars on the road, the family car just didn’t have enough speed to outrun the attack helicopter.
“What do we do? I’m pretty sure you only had one smoke grenade and it’ll probably decide to switch over to its machine gun meaning we can’t use any kind of flare defense again.”
“Hamazura, turn super left at the next branch in the road.”
“Hah? Eh? What are you saying? I can’t hear you over the wind.”
Kinuhata said nothing more and instead suddenly grabbed the hand brake from the passenger seat.
The family car suddenly decelerated and slid to the side as if it were drifting.
Having suddenly started to move diagonally, the car shot into the left branch of the road.
Hamazura frantically put the hand brake back to normal and turned the wheel. Hitting the brake would definitely have put them in a spin, so he just used the steering wheel to bring the car back from the vector it was drifting in without decelerating.
“What the hell was that for!?”
“I super want us to survive this. Hamazura, head straight through this main road. It’s a super large road with 3 lanes on either side, but just head super straight without even changing lanes if you can help it.”
“Have I gotten involved in something dangerous again without realizing it?”
“Isn’t that super normal for you? Anyway, just head super straight.”
“Is this really okay? I know it won’t actually save us, but wouldn’t it be better to zigzag back and forth to throw off its aim?”
As he complained, Hamazura drove the family car as instructed. He looked around while stepping on the gas. The area had a lot of skyscrapers, so the Six Wings chasing after them would naturally head in a straight line. It looked like the helicopter would hit a wall if it tried to move around much.
And on top of that, there were occasional signs on the sides of buildings and other overhead roads crossing above theirs. This meant that the Six Wings would have to lower its altitude while chasing the family car. It was now flying just a bit off the ground almost at the car’s level.
“Hey, Kinuhata, is this…Bfh!?”
Hamazura looked over towards the passenger seat and then did what would have been a spit take had he been drinking something.
Kinuhata Saiai was leaning forward out the passenger side window. In fact, everything but her legs was sticking out the window. Her slender legs were wrapped around the seat to hold herself in place as she pointed a handgun back behind the car.
However, the fast-moving car was naturally creating quite a bit of wind.
“W-wow!! Wow!! Those panties!! Kinuhata, this goes well beyond the level of just a panty shot!! Your panties!! What are you going to do about your panties!?”
Kinuhata then shot a bullet through the car into the driver side door.
“…Do super nothing other than looking forward and focusing on driving!”
“Yes!! But your panties!!”
Kinuhata ignored Hamazura who was getting all worked up over something weird and went back to aiming the handgun behind the family car. As if in response, the barrel of the Six Wings’ machine gun started to move.
“Kinuhata, this is impossible!! Maybe if you had some kind of antiaircraft gun, but a tiny little 9 mm isn’t going to get through a military helicopter’s armor!!”
“…The bullets I’m super using are made to be destroyed easily. They’re made of something like papier-mâché so they will super smash to pieces. They’re meant to be used in small areas where a ricocheting bullet could super hurt an ally.”
“Then that’s even worse for attacking armor!!”
“Who said I was shooting at its armor?” Kinuhata muttered out of annoyance. “I’m super shooting at the engine’s air intake.”
Multiple gun shots rang out. The bullets seemed to be almost sucked into the small hole below the helicopter rotor.
Just like a car, a helicopter had its fuel react with the air to create energy, so they needed a hole to suck in air. If a foreign object was brought in there, the engine would stall causing the helicopter to crash.
However, a few countermeasures were used in normal air intakes to prevent that kind of trouble. The downward wind created by the rotor prevented dust and sand from getting in and a wire mesh was usually put over it to prevent foreign materials from getting in. Something as big as 9 mm would not be sucked in.
But Kinuhata Saiai had used bullets made of a papier-mâché-like material so they would break to pieces as soon as it hit its target instead of ricocheting.
Yes, it broke to pieces just like dried papier-mâché being broken.
The created particles were even finer than normal dust, so the extremely narrow openings in the wire mesh over the air intake were large enough for them to get through. And once the foreign substance was within the engine, the engine burnt out and failed to work properly. The Six Wings lost a good bit of its lift.
With an explosive noise, black smoke started to rise from the helicopter’s engine.
Just as the Six Wings started to veer slightly from the road, it started scraping across the asphalt.
That helicopter was loaded with fuel for the rotor, special fuel for the rocket engine, missiles, and ammunition for its machine guns as it crashed.
“Yes!! I super got him!!”
Kinuhata almost seemed to slither back into the passenger seat like a snake, but Hamazura had more important things to focus on.
A giant shockwave struck the family car that made the previous one from the short range missile seem like nothing. He lost control of the steering wheel almost instantly and the car finally entered a true spin.
“Dammit!! Kinuhata! Use your Offense Armor!! If you can stop a shot from a sniper rifle, you can do something about this, right!?”
“Wait, Hamazura—!!” Kinuhata said as if protesting something, but he didn’t have time to listen.
The family car struck the side wall of the road.
Hamazura’s consciousness cut out and he eventually came to and sat up. His body had been thrown out of the car, but it seemed he had escaped any difficulties by hitting a balloon made of synthetic fiber that was filled with a large amount of water. They were lined up on the side of the road to soften the blow of any accidents.
Hamazura looked around and towards the crashed family car, but he didn’t see her. He actually didn’t know how long he had been unconscious, so he assumed she had come to before him. Perhaps she had been unable to find him and had gone off to take care of the terrorists on her own.
(Things can never be easy, can they?)
He stood up and checked his arms and legs, but none of them seemed to be broken.
From a sign he could see, it seemed they had entered District 3 while being chased by the helicopter.
He started wondering whether he should find Kinuhata and continue helping her or go meet up with Takitsubo, but it became a moot point.
His cell phone started to ring.
It was a suspicious call that withheld its number, but Hamazura had a general idea what kind of person was calling at a time like that.
“Hello, it’s been a while. If I told you I was Measure Heart, would that be enough for you to at least remember what I look like?”
“…Why do you know my number?”
“Do you want me to explain every little thing? That would be a real pain, so I won’t. More importantly, I have a question for you: Is Kinuhata Saiai with you? I’ve been trying to call her, but I can’t get a hold of her.”
Hamazura Shiage looked over at the crashed Six Wings.
“So that was yours.”
He heard an odd breath rather than words.
She seemed to be surprised about something.
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but I’ll tell you something if you’re in contact with Kinuhata. If she’s going to do this on her own, we’ll leave her alone, but the former Spark Signal terrorists have taken over a private salon in District 3. Of course, if she’s going to give up, we would be glad to take care of it.”
“A private salon…in District 3…?” Hamazura muttered in what was almost a moan.
Wasn’t that where Takitsubo Rikou was waiting for them having just left the hospital?
Hamazura Shiage ran through District 3 at night.
He repeatedly prayed that it wasn’t true, but the situation was quite severe.
Anti-Skill was surrounding the skyscraper Takitsubo was supposed to be in, so he couldn’t even get inside. The yellow tape marking off the area hit Hamazura’s heart as a danger signal.
He heard a loud, dry noise coming from the upper levels of the building that sounded like a gunshot.
After he heard that, Hamazura Shiage took a deep breath and made up his mind.
The terrorists had taken over the private salon building.
Takitsubo Rikou most likely could not escape.
In that case, what he had to do was clear.
“God damn it…” Hamazura muttered because he didn’t really want to have anything to do with the incident.
He then started repeating the same curse growing louder and louder.
“God damn it! God damn it!! God damn it!!!!! Why? Why here of all places!? There are tons of other buildings! Why the hell did they have to choose this one!?”
As he yelled, he turned his back on the private salon. He looked around and spotted an unnaturally placed garbage truck. He unhesitatingly approached it, forced open the passenger side door, and climbed in.
The driver was shocked.
“Waahh!? What the-..!? Are you trying to rob me!?”
“Let’s cut the crap. You’re a subordinate in the underworld like me, right?” Hamazura asked in a low voice as he stuck one hand in his pocket.
The garbage man in a work uniform’s face stiffened and Hamazura continued on.
“I’m sure you can tell from my face that I’m making some preparations for helping out my boss. …Hand over your backup gun. Of course, I could always just kill you and take it.”
Rationally speaking, someone with a weapon wouldn’t demand a weapon from someone else, but the garbage man hadn’t realized that. He pulled out a cheap-looking bag and handed a small handgun and a few extra magazines that were inside to Hamazura.
“Wh-where exactly are you assigned? If you need a weapon, can’t you just go through the proper procedure…?”
The man assumed wrong, but Hamazura just averted his gaze.
What was he doing?
Hamazura Shiage was just a Level 0. He didn’t have any kind of special power at his disposal to defeat an incoming enemy like Kinuhata Saiai had. He was weak enough that he could easily be killed in a street fight with delinquents if he wasn’t careful.
“I’m not assigned anywhere. I’ve already retired,” he muttered after thinking for a bit.
Despite being weak, Hamazura knew that the world was not a kind place. A delinquent leader like Komaba Ritoku had been killed so easily. He didn’t want to think about it, but Takitsubo Rikou was most likely the same. That was why Hamazura took that weapon. It had nothing to do with whether he was a Level 0 or not.
“…But someone I know seems to be trapped in that building, so I have to go.”
Having said what he had to say, Hamazura got out of the garbage truck.
He had a gun now, but he still couldn’t just charge into the private salon building. He would clearly be captured by Anti-Skill if he tried.
(…They’ve got it covered all the way around with no blind spots. Anti-Skill isn’t stupid enough to leave a route for the criminals to escape. But that also means they haven’t left a route for me to get in through.)
Hamazura then looked up into the starry sky.
(…If I can’t get in on the ground, I’ll have to go through the sky.)
Hamazura Shiage had been attacked by a helicopter just a few minutes prior.
He looked around and then entered a large hotel that was nearby. He used the elevator to get to the roof and, just as he had expected, he found a heliport there. A small helicopter with a round egg-shaped body was stopped there. It was most likely waiting for a guest that wanted to enjoy the nighttime scenery.
Hamazura headed straight for the helicopter and opened the door.
Hamazura spoke as he pointed his handgun at the female pilot who was running through a systems check.
“Sorry, but I’m gonna need you to take me to the private salon three roads down.”
The female pilot who had the barrel of a gun pointed at her head remained silent for a few seconds.
Finally, she spoke without removing her headset.
“…Unfortunately, even someone like me used to belong to the agency that administers Academy City’s air defense.”
As she whispered, Hamazura frowned and then realized something.
At some point, she had gotten a utility knife into her hand.
“Did you think a pilot wouldn’t know how to use a weapon? Since we might crash in enemy territory and be forced to act on our own, we have things much harsher than an army soldier who acts in a large group with plenty of weaponry.”
(…Wait a second. When did she bring that out?)
When he had gotten into the cockpit, both of her hands had been busy checking over the displays. At some point she had taken out that knife that had been hidden somewhere. He knew that much, but he couldn’t fully understand what had happened.
She was too dangerous to take his eyes off of.
He may have a handgun, but he was still the one with a chill running down his back.
That was when the cell phone in Hamazura Shiage’s pocket suddenly started to ring. He frowned at the timing. In contrast, the female pilot continued to sit in her seat while a thin smile appeared on her face.
“…Don’t you need to answer that? We haven’t taken off yet, so you’re free to do so,” she said in a provoking manner.
Without moving his head, Hamazura used the hand not holding the gun to slowly grab the cell phone from his pocket. He did this so carefully that it took him 30 seconds. The instant he looked down to check the screen was the most terrifying, but he immediately hit the connect button and put the phone to his ear upon seeing the displayed name.
“Takitsubo, are you okay!? Where are you!?”
“…At the meeting point. The private salon…”
Hamazura looked slightly relieved to hear that lovely voice, but the relief disappeared replaced by burning doubt.
(Wait a second. Why does her voice sound so weak?)
“I heard what happened. Terrorists have entered the private salon. Are you okay? You weren’t hit by a stray bullet, were you!?”
At the very end of her sentence, he heard a gunshot over the phone. He then heard what sounded like rushed footsteps.
“I’m fine…really… I’m hiding right now… They haven’t noticed me yet.”
He heard a small noise over the phone.
It was the sound of someone leaning up against a wall.
“Wait. Then why do you sound so exhausted!?”
“I’m just…not feeling too good. It’s nothing you need to worry about, Hamazura…”
“Dammit!!” he swore.
Takitsubo Rikou had only just been released from the hospital. She may have been fine with a normal life, but that kind of heavy activity and intense mental strain would put a toll on her body. And her health had originally taken a turn for the worse because of some rare and not fully understood material called Body Crystal. No one knew just how much damage had actually accumulated within her.
“Okay, don’t worry. I’m telling you that it’ll be fine. I’ll be there right away. I’ll definitely be there to rescue you. So just bear with it a little longer. Can you do that?”
“No, not that.”
Hamazura had been frantically moving his lips, but Takitsubo’s reaction was the exact opposite.
“Don’t come, Hamazura. Don’t come here. There are 10 terrorists. They all seem to be armed with submachine guns and grenade launchers. Hamazura, you may know how to use a handgun, but you don’t know how to use a rifle, do you? If you come in here, they will just concentrate their fire on you. You can’t do anything about it, Hamazura. So don’t come.”
“…Fuck that…” Hamazura muttered as he trembled.
This trembling was different from before. It was due to anger instead of fear.
“I’m going. Of course I’m going!! I can’t just leave you there! No matter what it takes, I will rescue you from there. So wait for me. Don’t give up!! Whether I’m out of my league here or not, I’m going!!”
Takitsubo did not respond.
Perhaps because the cell phone relay antenna within the private salon had been destroyed, the call ended. Hamazura stared at the disconnected cell phone for a bit and his trembling reached its maximum. A shout exploded from the bottom of his throat.
The female pilot sitting in the cockpit looked at him and her eyebrows moved slightly.
The pilot was still playing with the knife in her hand that she could attack with at any time while Hamazura continued to point the hand gun towards her with trembling hands.
“Please…” he said to her with tears and snot running down his face. “You can charge me with whatever crime you want. I won’t complain if you send me down to the very depths of hell. But please help me save her…”
Those words that sounded as if he were just barely squeezing them out resounded within the helicopter.
After a few seconds of silence, the female pilot finally sighed. She then spoke in a voice that could barely be heard.
“…Why didn’t you say that sooner?”
Hamazura hadn’t been able to quite hear her and he looked on questioningly, but then a loud roar pierced his ears. It was the sound of the helicopter’s rotor quickly raising its rotation speed. He looked up in the direction of the noise and realized the feeling at his feet had disappeared. The craft was hovering.
The female pilot threw the utility knife aside and grabbed a half-empty can of coffee. She hit a few buttons on a number pad and a small door-like object near the joystick opened up. She then poured the coffee inside.
(…The flight recorder…?)
It was the device that recorded what happened within the craft so that the reason for a crash could be investigated. Pouring coffee inside the armor that protected it from fire, water, and shocks would erase the conversations that had taken place inside the helicopter. That included the one that had recorded who Hamazura and Takitsubo were.
The female pilot raised the helicopters altitude as she spoke into her headset’s mic without looking at Hamazura.
“Flight H3389 is being hijacked. Repeat, Flight H3389 is being hijacked!! The hijacker has a handgun and a small drum with liquid inside. It probably holds 8 to 10 liters! If what he says is true, the drum contains a liquid explosive and he is threatening to scatter the contents along with an ignition device down from midair if his instructions are not followed. I am giving priority to the lives of the people in the area, so I am following his orders for now!!”
The panicked male voice of an air-traffic controller responded over her headset. In response to that, the pilot started speaking some sort of code.
“T-A, T-A. Code black. Flying in direction 202 and altitude 80, give me authorization! B-A-L, at intervals of 35 to 40. Large. I’m going, understood!?”
At first, Hamazura had thought that had simply been aviation radio jargon, but when he thought through it again, he realized it didn’t actually mean anything. She had been listing off the characteristics of the hijacker. She had most likely been saying the hijacker was aged between 35 to 40, was 202 cm tall, weighed around 80 kg, and had black skin.
Of course, none of those characteristics matched Hamazura.
The pilot spoke to him once she had completely cut off the transmission.
“…Flying on some kid’s whim isn’t so easy. Sorry, but I had to make that pretty showy.”
Hamazura wasn’t quite sure what to say as the helicopter continued on. The private salon building was only 3 roads away from the hotel. They would be there in no time.
The building was just as luxurious as the hotel had been.
He could see a few figures on the lit up heliport. They were not customers wanting to be rescued. They had submachine guns in their hands.
Tension grabbed at Hamazura’s heart, but they did not shoot at the helicopter flying above them.
Hamazura looked confused.
“What’s going on?”
“…I don’t know who they’ve contacted, but I bet one of their demands was to be given a means of escape. They may have mistaken our helicopter for the one they requested.”
The female pilot circled around the private salon building.
“But that doesn’t change the fact that they’re on their guard. We can’t exactly land at the heliport if you don’t want this helicopter to be taken by the terrorists.”
“I know, and I don’t intend to cause that much trouble for you.” Hamazura looked down at the heliport below and pointed at a certain spot. “What’s that?”
“…An imitation tree. To put it simply, a number of layers of white cloth like a yacht’s sail are formed into the shape of a tree and various colors of lights are put on as decorations. If a normal tree were there, the branches broken off by the wind would create issues when landing or taking off.”
Hamazura thought for a bit.
Then he unhesitatingly opened the helicopter’s door.
“Thanks for the info.”
That caught even the female pilot by surprise.
Hamazura Shiage then jumped out into the night sky.
They were around 20 meters above the heliport. Gravity slammed Hamazura into the tree made of cloth. The yacht sail-like decoration snapped, but it absorbed enough of the shock for Hamazura to avoid receiving a fatal injury when he landed on the heliport.
At first, the three terrorists armed with submachine guns and grenade launchers merely stared on in shock. After all, some strange guy had jumped down out of the helicopter they thought had come in accordance with their demands.
And Hamazura did not wait for them to retain their composure.
He mercilessly pointed his handgun forward and repeatedly pulled the trigger.
Multiple gunshots rang out and the terrorists were taken out before they could manage to fire back.
Hamazura waved once at the helicopter circling around above signaling for it to leave the area. Then he moved his gaze to the door leading inside the building.
His lips moved slightly.
“…I’ve come here to the depths of hell, partner.”
Most likely, Hamazura Shiage himself had not noticed.
It was true that he was a good-for-nothing third-rate thug. There was no twist ending coming where it turned out he actually possessed some special power or talent. He was exactly what he looked like: a pathetic Level 0.
However, when he put his life on the line to protect a certain girl, he became a true protagonist.
The former Spark Signal terrorists who had control of the private salon building raised their heads.
They had heard gunshots.
And the gunshots sounded different from the guns they carried. The caliber was probably the same, but the powder being used was different.
“A group went up to the roof to see if the helicopter we had requested had come, but…”
“When is Stephanie going to meet up with us? Depending on what she does...”
“Maybe we should take an attack from an esper with teleportation powers into account.”
However, they were not so simple as to all head straight for the source of the noise. They had mostly suppressed the people within the building, but there was a bare minimum of people they needed to seal their movements.
There was also the risk that the gunshots themselves were a trap and they would trigger some explosives upon heading that way.
The 7 former Spark Signals immediately thought through all that and split into 3 teams.
They had made the decision and reacted very quickly.
However, a “disaster” ignored that and suddenly attacked regardless.
That “disaster” came in through the window.
An explosion that sounded like the main gun of a battleship resounded throughout the room and the window through which a piece of the night scenery could be seen shattered. However, it was not a mass of firepower that flew inside.
It was a person.
The person had white hair, red eyes, and a smile that looked like a rip in his face.
He was Accelerator, Academy City’s strongest Level 5.
(…Th-this is the 28th floor…!?)
In the face of such an unusual phenomenon, one of the former Spark Signals had that commonplace thought. Yet even that small lag was fatal before Accelerator.
The action the Level 5 took was simple.
He grabbed the closest former Spark Signal terrorist with one hand and threw him at the others. The action was much like one a child in a temper tantrum would take, but when the ability to alter all kinds of vectors was added in, it possessed the destructive power of an explosive shell.
With an explosive noise, three former Spark Signals were blown away.
Without even waiting to hear the sound of ripping flesh and snapping bones, Accelerator turned his red eyes to his next target.
The remaining former Spark Signal terrorists finally jumped behind cover and started firing their submachine guns.
But gunshots began to resound from an unexpected place.
The gunshots had come from that floor’s exit. The terrorists had been so distracted by Accelerator that they had been unable to react. They collapsed to the ground spreading their blood across the floor. Each target had been accurately hit by a single bullet either in the head or the center of the abdomen. They had clearly died instantly. It had been so sudden that not a single one gave out a death scream.
Accelerator turned in the direction of the gunshots.
An unfamiliar man wearing a suit stood there. He looked to be around 30. As his handgun had smoke rising from it, it was clear he had been the one to shoot the former Spark Signal group.
“Who are you?”
“Does it really matter?” the man in the suit said.
The man then aimed his handgun to the side towards the terrorists Accelerator had knocked away with his vector power. He carefully shot each of them either in the head or the abdomen. The gunshots were louder than one would expect for the size of the handgun. Most likely, it was not a standard 9mm. It used bullets of a higher caliber.
The man in the suit spoke to Accelerator as he swapped out magazines.
“If you truly want to protect this city, you must be this thorough.”
“I asked who the hell you are. Do you want to die here?”
“I am Sugitani,” the man said in an offhand manner without his expression changing.
He kicked each body over to see if they reacted in any way.
“Pray that we do not meet again. You need to work towards that end.”
Saying only that, the man in the suit put away his handgun and headed for the floor’s exit. Accelerator glared at his disappearing back and finally switched his electrode back to normal mode. Whatever the details were, the danger had left the private salon at least temporarily.
Accelerator pulled out his cell phone.
It pissed him off to ask for help from the people who had fucked things up, but it would be a pain to deal with it all himself.
“…Hey, Tsuchimikado. I took out the bastards you let escape to the private salon building. Get up here already and deal with the injured and check for traps. If you can’t even do that, I really will put a bullet in your head.”
He put away his phone and walked out along the floor.
He opened a door and saw a large party area inside. Civilians that appeared to have been hostages were gathered in it. His initial glance told him there were more than 300 of them in there. Eerie sobs leaked out from various directions, but it didn’t feel like the atmosphere of a group in which there had been fatalities.
He then heard a clattering noise from a different direction.
Accelerator had been about to enter the large area, but he stopped. He walked down the hall with his modern cane and saw something roll out from behind a pillar.
It was a high school-aged girl wearing a pink track suit.
All strength seemed to have left her body and she was sweating profusely. Accelerator was reminded of Last Order when her personality had been desecrated by a virus.
The girl in the track suit’s consciousness seemed dim, and she slowly opened and closed her eyes. Even when she saw Accelerator approaching, she did not attempt to stand up.
Accelerator knelt down to check on her condition and his eyebrows shot up slightly.
(…She has no obvious injury. It doesn’t look like she was shot. Is she sick or something? Don’t tell me she’s pregnant, too.)
Accelerator decided he should at least bring her to the hospital, so he pulled out his cell phone.
“…What the hell did you do?” said a low male voice.
Accelerator immediately looked over and saw a boy walking from further down the hallway.
He, Hamazura Shiage, was glaring at the limp, unmoving girl in the track suit and Accelerator while he forced out some words.
“I asked you what the hell you did to Takitsubo!”
Hamazura had lost his cool.
When he had snuck into the private salon building from the roof, he hadn’t been stupid enough to take the elevator. He had headed down floor by floor via the emergency stairs, but even that was pretty much a straight shot. If he ran across the terrorists, he would not be able to avoid a firefight in which he would have the disadvantage.
Hamazura had been continuing down while extremely nervous and then he had heard numerous gunshots upon arriving at a certain floor. He then ran down to the 28th floor and that was where he had witnessed it.
Academy City’s strongest Level 5, Accelerator, was crouched down next to the unconscious form of Takitsubo Rikou looking like he was about to do something to her.
It was possible that a third party may have interpreted Accelerator’s actions as an attempt to help her.
However, Hamazura was unable to see it that way.
The reason was quite simple.
Hamazura Shiage had once belonged to a delinquent group called Skill-Out. At that time, the group’s leader had been Komaba Ritoku, but the higher ups of Academy City had determined that Skill-Out was disadvantageous to the city.
That decision had led to Accelerator being dispatched.
Skill-Out’s leader, Komaba Ritoku, had been killed and the group had temporarily been driven to the edge of destruction.
“…So this was your doing, too?”
That person, that dog of Academy City, had appeared before Hamazura again and was trying to do something to Takitsubo Rikou.
“Were you the leader and sole survivor of those terrorists? Or did you kill your other comrades yourself? Either way, you’re doing dirty jobs secretly in the darkness.”
As Hamazura had just previously been attacked by one of Academy City’s Six Wings, he naturally came to that conclusion.
“When Skill-Out was destroyed, things weren’t exactly going well for us. Leader Komaba made up his mind and challenged you to a final battle, so I won’t say anything about that. I want to say something so badly, but I won’t for his sake.”
Most likely, a third party would have been unable to understand his words.
But Hamazura wasn’t saying them because he wanted to be understood.
His mouth was merely moving on its own.
“But if you’re going to try to take something else I care about away from me… If you’re going to take Takitsubo’s life, the life of someone who hasn’t made up her mind to fight and who is supposed to live a normal life from now on…”
He was shaking.
Paying no heed to the tiny distinction between Level 0 and Level 5, Hamazura Shiage aimed his handgun at Accelerator in order to protect that girl who couldn’t move.
“Prepare yourself, strongeeeeeeeeeessssssssssssstttttttttttt!!”
Meanwhile, Accelerator more or less understood the situation.
He knew Hamazura was mistaken about what was going on, but he made no attempt to correct him.
Accelerator slowly stood up and reached for the switch to his choker-style electrode. He faced Hamazura Shiage with a smile ripping across his face.
“An excellent villain,” Accelerator said with an inhuman smile on his face.
At first, it seemed to mean nothing, but it was an assessment he very rarely gave.
But before Hamazura could figure that out, Accelerator manipulated the vectors for his leg strength and charged straight for Hamazura.
A loud roar exploded with a slight delay.
Accelerator had jumped in an extremely low arc and Hamazura Shiage attempted to jump back while still holding out his handgun.
(…He may be a Level 5, but he’s still a human!! I should be able to kill him with a single bullet. Basically, he just uses a trick to keep the bullet from hitting him. I need to start by bringing him into circumstances where I can hit him with that bullet!!)
Hamazura was able to come up with that answer because he had previously shot and killed the #4 Level 5, Meltdowner Mugino Shizuri.
No, Hamazura actually knew another Level 0 who had used that thought pattern. His former leader, Komaba Ritoku, had inspected Accelerator’s actions and investigated his characteristics. This had led him to the answer that electromagnetic interference would temporarily seal his powers.
In that case…
(…I need to make that choker malfunction. But how!? Leader Komaba used chaff to jam the signal, but…!!)
He knew generally what he had to do, but he didn’t know specifically how to do it.
As he thought, Accelerator spun his body swinging a clenched fist.
His arm was rumored to be able to kill someone just by touching them.
Hamazura immediately swung his body to the side in an attempt to evade.
Accelerator’s arm did not actually make contact.
However, an explosive wind of unknown origin appeared and blew Hamazura away. He flew more than 2 meters through the air before slamming into the hallway wall. Unnatural strength entered his finger holding the trigger and he fired a meaningless shot into the ceiling.
Accelerator turned his head in Hamazura’s direction.
Hamazura realized that he would be killed if he didn’t do something and he noticed a security robot approaching from further down the hallway. The terrorists had likely sealed them all in one room and it was now heading back on its normal route after having been released.
Hamazura nearly unloaded his clip into the security robot.
The bullets broke through the fairly durable armor and destroyed the components within. Hamazura stuck his hand inside. The characteristic weird feeling of electromagnetism numbed him from his fingertips to his back and then to his chest, but he ignored it and ripped out a piece.
It was a part of the large motor the robot used to move around.
Hamazura ripped the cords off of the large permanent magnet that was used in the motor and then threw it at Accelerator.
To prevent theft, the security and cleaning robots were purposefully made quite heavy. To make sure the machines could smoothly move up slopes, their motors were made to be rather powerful.
Yes, powerful enough that the permanent magnets they used could cause electronic devices to malfunction at close range.
(…Is it gonna work!?)
He had two bullets left in his handgun and he didn’t have time to switch out magazines, but he should still be able to win if Accelerator had been weakened to the point where a bullet would kill him.
However, there was no worry on Accelerator’s face.
Before the large magnet reached him, a strong unnatural wind knocked the thrown item away in a different direction.
He tried to evade, but his legs still hadn’t recovered from the damage they had taken when he had struck the wall. Hamazura reacted too late and Accelerator mercilessly grabbed his collar.
He grabbed it with that arm that could bring death and fresh blood.
The battle was over.
Accelerator pulled Hamazura closer and then casually threw him aside. That was all it had been, but Hamazura’s body shot away like a bullet. He rolled over and over along the hard floor until he finally came to a stop. Dull damage had permeated even the areas between his bones and the very depths of his organs, so he could not even stand up. He had never been more shocked that his exhalations were not accompanied by blood.
Gritting his teeth at the intense pain, Hamazura still tried to grab at the floor with his fingertips.
Seeing that, Accelerator hit the switch on his electrode, extended his retractable cane, and mercilessly aimed his handgun.
He could kill Hamazura instantly with a single shot.
“This is over. If you stay down, I’ll leave you be, but if you get up, I’ll shoot. It’s your life. I leave the choice to you.”
“I don’t…cough…really have a choice...” Hamazura glared at Accelerator from the floor. “…You have no…real reason…to let me live…”
“True. I could easily just fill you full of lead without saying another word. In fact, killing you now may save me trouble later. I have no duty to bring on the risk of some later revenge by letting you live. Just finishing you off now would be simpler. But,” Accelerator added in an annoyed voice, “it’s not really fair for the sick girl to stand up to protect you, now is it?”
After hearing those words, Hamazura turned his gaze from Accelerator for the first time.
He turned his head and saw Takitsubo Rikou, whose consciousness was hazy and who was sweating profusely, approaching while desperately clinging to the wall.
She was doing it to protect him.
She was doing it to save him.
She was most likely in a worse state than Hamazura, but she was giving it everything she had.
“What’ll you do? If you want to use her as a shield and continue this 2 to 1, I’ll take you up on your offer and make a bloodbath out of you. But if you feel she would just get in the way in a battle, then this is over. As much as it pisses me off, I’ll leave you alone for now. That’s the aesthetics of a villain.”
Hearing that question, strength left Hamazura’s hand that was reaching for the handgun that had fallen to the floor.
He finally started to wonder why.
Accelerator was the one that was supposedly trying to hurt Takitsubo, so why was he trying to avoid having her in the fight? If he wanted to kill her, wouldn’t it be easier to kill them both at once?
(Don’t tell me…there’s been some kind of…misunderstanding on my part…?)
Before he could look back over towards Accelerator, he heard a light noise.
The esper must have manipulated the vectors in his legs somehow because Academy City’s #1 had disappeared. All he could hear was a slight sound that sounded a bit like a vibration from elsewhere on that floor.
As he sat there dumbfounded, Hamazura heard a girl’s voice calling his name.
It was Takitsubo Rikou.
The girl he had most wanted to protect was dragging her body along towards him. She came over, sat down next to him, and lifted Hamazura’s unmoving body to rest in her arms.
“I’m pathetic…” he muttered with his arms and legs still hanging limply at his sides. “I kept saying I would save you, but this is all I could do in the end. Ha ha. I’m so pathetic. I even bared my fangs towards the guy who may have saved you. I couldn’t be more pathetic…”
“That isn’t true.”
Takitsubo desperately shook her head seeming to be in a good bit of pain herself.
Her trembling lips rejected Hamazura’s view.
“Hamazura, you came this far all on your own. Not even Anti-Skill could break into this building, but you came charging in for me. You aren’t pathetic.”
“Is that so…” Hamazura muttered with a faint smile.
But he added more in his heart.
He gritted his teeth so that the girl would not notice.
(Then why are you crying?)
Hamazura had not been so badly beaten because Academy City’s strongest Level 5 had shown up. If that monster had not been there and the terrorists had instead, would he really have been able to save Takitsubo Rikou? In fact, if the grade was dropped even lower to a group of delinquents, could he have even succeeded then?
He couldn’t say for certain.
The odds were actually quite low. He was not a professional who had received special training, he was not a prodigy when it came to his battle sense, and he did not have a rare or powerful esper power. If he were part of a large scale conflict between groups, he was nothing more than a lowly thug who would end up collapsed in the corner of an alley.
Even if he threw everything away, put his life on the line, and stood up to fight, Hamazura could not even promise so simple a thing. If he were a protagonist-like person who had been wonderfully blessed since the moment he was born, he would have been able to save Takitsubo in a much smarter way. He wouldn’t have had to make her worry so much. He felt a great sense of loss and he gritted his teeth upon realizing what it was.
It wasn’t that something he had built up had collapsed.
It was the opposite. Hamazura became aware once more that he had gained nothing from his victory over Mugino Shizuri.
(…What’s all this crap about me being the guy who defeated a Level 5 or being the guy who defeated the #4 all on his own? All I did was get full of myself over a fluke. It was meaningless. I’m the same Hamazura Shiage that I’ve always been. I didn’t get any convenient dramatic change from that one event.)
“Fuck,” Hamazura swore.
He wanted to be able to make sure Takitsubo didn’t have to worry, but he also believed that he didn’t have to gain an evil charisma like the #1 had.
He could simply remain a third-rate thug.
However, Hamazura Shiage wanted to at least become the kind of third-rate thug who could protect that girl’s smile.
(It looks like things went down in a super flashy way…)
Kinuhata Saiai was circling the private salon building from a slight distance. It seemed the former Spark Signal group had already been taken out and the Anti-Skill group blockading the building had started to enter the building while seeming bewildered by the sudden occurrence.
The Measure Heart girl in the dress had told Kinuhata that Hamazura Shiage had entered the building carrying a gun to save Takitsubo Rikou.
She doubted Hamazura could take on 10 former Spark Signal terrorists, but it seemed the two of them were fine. However, the problem did not end there.
Hamazura and Takitsubo were not currently taking part in work for the underground. Academy City would work to cover up incidents, but those two were not in a position to receive that kind of service. If Anti-Skill found them with weapons, they would be in trouble.
(I wish I had taken action super sooner.)
The reason Kinuhata had not arrived at the private salon building was simple: She had been investigating the Six Wings attack helicopter that had attacked the family car. The woman on the phone insisted she wasn’t behind it, but Kinuhata found it hard to believe that the former Spark Signal group had been somehow controlling it.
In the end, it had been wasted effort.
(I have to super apologize for being late and I like to pay people back super quickly. I guess I should super help them escape.)
Despite thinking that, Kinuhata never had a chance to carry out her plan.
This was because Kinuhata’s small body was blown away by a sudden shotgun blast from the side.
The girl’s slender body wrapped in a white wool dress bounced two or three times on the road. The sudden gunshot caused a panic among the surrounding onlookers, but Kinuhata kept her cool as she rolled along. The blast had spread out to cover from her right cheek to her chest, but she was not bleeding thanks to Offense Armor.
(…I only heard one gunshot but there were 20 shots. Each individual bullet is greater than 5 mm. With that, I should be able to use something in the area as a shield without having to super use my powers!!)
Kinuhata had calculated out the strength of the attack from the one she had received and she then jumped behind a nearby parked car.
But the attacker accurately aimed the barrel.
The next shot did not have the usual single gunshot of a shotgun.
It was the sound of a gun on full auto.
“Wha—? That’s not a normal shotgun!?”
The car did not last as a wall for even 2 seconds.
It wasn’t just that bullet holes were created in it. Like a balloon being popped from within, the metal body tore apart. The downpour of shots that had pierced it headed straight for Kinuhata’s body. Even with her thin wall of nitrogen, the overwhelming amount of force blew her away.
She was knocked over 10 meters away.
When she got back up, she realized she had a trail of blood running down her cheek.
It wasn’t a fatal wound, but her armor had been pierced.
Kinuhata shuddered and she heard a voice that did not match the scene.
“Hi there. You’re Kinuhata Saiai-chan, right? I thought your guard looked pretty tough which would make things difficult, but I made the right decision in contacting the completely unrelated Spark Signal group to use them as bait. While your focus was on them, I took the opportunity to take a bite out of your nice soft side. Academy City espers really are a pain, though,” the woman said as she operated a large gun that was almost as large as an umbrella.
Kinuhata heard a loud mechanical noise.
Breaking through the cloud of smoke she herself had created, the tall blonde woman approached.
She was holding a light machine gun with exceedingly high rapid-fire ability.
It was over a meter long. It was not the kind of assault rifle that was made so that it would have no effect on a soldier who was traveling long distances carrying it. It was much bigger than that. It had a box magazine that looked like it could hold 150 to 200 shots and it looked like something that would be used against a military encampment rather than a single person.
However, it was clearly using custom shotgun ammunition. No proper soldier would use a firearm like that. The combination of a shotgun which should be used at close range and that weight which was disadvantageous at close quarters was simply terrible. But that also meant that woman possessed the speed and skill to use something like that.
The woman carrying the light machine shotgun smiled.
“Do you recognize the name Sunazara Chimitsu? You’re the one that tried to blow him up, right?”
The way the woman said “right” was so cute it probably would have given Hamazura a nosebleed.
“I am Stephanie Gorgeouspalace. I came here to get revenge for Sunazara-san, so you should prepare yourself.”
She pointed that monstrous gun at Kinuhata and smiled as she gave that last death sentence.
Between the lines 2
Stephanie had been given a life of freedom in a country that was very, very peaceful. Eventually she embraced her doubts about that tepid environment (or perhaps, was given the freedom to embrace them), so she determined to leave. The motivation for that civilian to head to the battlefield as a mercenary had been exceedingly infantile. She had been in a period where she was concerned with the twisted parts of society and could not stand to ignore those who were suffering. She had been in a period where she would only be satisfied by helping out directly with her own ability.
And a civil war in Costa Rica became Stephanie’s first hell.
Unlike with proper soldiers, that was the distinctive baptism of a mercenary. It assaulted the novice Stephanie in the form of a discrepancy in intelligence. She had known about the attack helicopter, but she hadn’t heard anything of the additional electronics that included equipment to link in a highly sensitive anti-personnel ambush radar. Thanks to that, Stephanie’s mercenary unit had been unsuccessful in their attempt to hide in the thickets and had ended up having a large number of rockets come down from overhead.
The motley unit had been instantly annihilated.
Her comrades had not just been turned to corpses. Not even the dog tags that had been provided by their client had survived. Stephanie alone had miraculously survived, but that had not been due to her own actions.
A large caliber anti-tank rifle had accurately pierced through the attack helicopter’s fuel tank from a great distance.
That had been when she had met Sunazara Chimitsu.
Unlike Stephanie, he was a rare type of mercenary who headed into battle alone instead of creating a team. She was injured and Sunazara had taken her in and saved her life. And it hadn’t ended there. Stephanie had headed into the battlefield with major gaps in her knowledge. If Sunazara had not proceeded to teach her every little skill she needed, she probably would have simply ended up dying in similar circumstances on a different battlefield.
Even when the civil war in Costa Rica ended, Stephanie stuck with Sunazara. It was partly due to how much she admired him, but she could not deny that it was also partly due to the fact that sticking with someone strong was a good way to survive as a mercenary.
And after taking part in battle after battle, a question occurred to Stephanie.
The value for her to stick with him was clear, but what did he gain from having her with him?
The sniper known as Sunazara Chimitsu used to work alone without creating a team. It seemed the reason for that was that an ally had once tripped him up and caused a major crisis, but then why was he letting a novice like Stephanie stay with him? He didn’t seem like the type who would allow that simply because he enjoyed having a young woman serving him.
She never directly asked him what his reason was, but she managed to make a pretty good guess from the things he said offhand.
It was possible Sunazara was tired of the life of a sniper.
In his job, he killed people with almost complete certainty. Even if he aimed for an arm or a leg instead of a vital point, the high powered rifle would still rip the limb off causing them to lose a large amount of blood and die from shock due to the pain. And since a sniper had to aim with pinpoint accuracy from long distances, he couldn’t exactly lower the power behind the bullet.
On the other hand, Stephanie’s specialty was not long distance sniping.
She had emulated him and used a sniper rifle a bit, but she had realized it just didn’t match her personality. She preferred high speed battles at extremely close quarters.
And at close quarters there was no reason that you absolutely had to kill your enemy.
Stephanie fought her enemies at 10 meters, 5 meters, or even less than a meter away, so she could get away with not killing her enemy by shooting them in the arms and legs with a lower power handgun bullet. And with someone she wasn’t sure was an enemy, she could use hand-to-hand methods to knock them down and incapacitate them.
It was possible that Sunazara envied that flexibility because he could do nothing but kill. It may have been asking for too much, but it may have had value in Sunazara’s eyes.
If he made the best of his skills as a sniper to analyze Stephanie’s actions, he could gain the ability to silently get to mid or close range.
If he did that, he may be able to put together a strategy where he could accurately shoot their arms and legs with a low power bullet and not kill them.
Of course, if he wasn’t used to it on a real battlefield, it could be fatally dangerous.
But if he succeeded in putting together such a strategy, that was great.
And even if he failed in putting together such a strategy, the number of people who would needlessly be killed at his hands would still lower.
It was possible he had been thinking those things in silence.
When Stephanie had that thought, she decided that she wanted to help him.
But she wanted to do it in a way other than the worst possible way that Sunazara himself was subconsciously wishing for.
And yet Stephanie’s determination had ended in vain.
Sunazara had been hired as a mercenary to take part in the conflict between Group, School, Item, Member, and Block, the 5 teams at the depths of Academy city. There he had been struck by his own target and injured badly enough that he still had not regained consciousness.
Sunazara was in the situation he had thought up as the worst possible result with a tiny bit of salvation.
And Stephanie Gorgeouspalace had sworn to take revenge.
She knew that it was selfish of her.
His path to that tiny salvation was supposed to have been more difficult and more complex, but Kinuhata Saiai had granted it for him almost too simply by means of death and violence.
And so Stephanie made Kinuhata the target of her selfish revenge.