Toaru Majutsu no Index:RailgunSS2 Chapter5
There is a certain story.
There were two girls who were good friends. Girl 1 got a boyfriend. As a present, the boyfriend gave Girl 1 a necklace that had a very lovely stone in it.
Girl 1 was overjoyed by the present and wore it at all times.
But odd things started happening to her from that time on. Her face turned sickly, her health deteriorated, she was unable to fall asleep, and finally her hair started coming out. Girl 1 should have been happy with that necklace she loved so much, but instead she was cursed with bad luck. It was not much longer before she died.
Girl 2 inherited the necklace when Girl 1 died. According to an acquaintance of hers, the stone in the necklace was a uranium crystal. The details were unknown, but Girl 1’s boyfriend had given her a uranium crystal as a present. Girl 1 had been killed by the radiation.
“…Wow. That story’s in horrible taste as usual,” said Saten Ruiko, a girl who loved rumors.
She had been looking through a website dealing with urban legends. She had been chasing after the rumor of the Level Upper that sounded like a lie, but she still wished it was true. She had come to a dead end in her search and after a few twists and turns had finally ended up reading that completely unrelated urban legend.
Urban legend websites generally had two objectives.
The first was to gather together and introduce urban legends that were either circulating or had been circulating in the past. However, most people seemed to think that was not enough to warrant the site’s existence. Generally, those sites were only seen as proper sites if they also gave their own commentary or explained whether it could actually happen.
Most of the time, the opinions on the urban legends said they could not actually happen.
(They start by making you think it could actually happen, but then they search out all sorts of things denying its possibility and say it all with such a sense of superiority. It feels like they have their priorities backwards to me.)
However, she did at times understand the feeling of wanting to crush an urban legend because it was impossible if you thought about it scientifically. Urban legends could be incredibly creepy to the point of not being able to relax until you were able to utterly prove them wrong.
The story of the necklace of death had the following piece of additional commentary with it:
A crystal small enough to fit on a necklace would not have enough radiation to kill someone in such a short period of time. As such, the dramatic change shown in this story would not actually occur.
This urban legend has spread quite a bit in the past as well, but it seems to have been coming back recently. We are currently investigating what has caused this revival, but we can say that this is a very common pattern.
“…This may be an urban legend, but I prefer the more enjoyable kinds that have more dreams in them,” Saten muttered as she closed the browser window.
She had not been able to find the Level Upper that day either.
When she eventually found it, Saten intended to brag about it to Uiharu.
“Yes, yes!! I checked, and it’s become a rather popular story especially on the internet! But that story really is in bad taste!!” Shirai Kuroko yelled into her cell phone as she rushed out of her dorm.
It was past curfew, but she could enter and exit fairly easily by teleporting. Also, it was hardly the time to worry about the curfew.
“Do you think Anti-Skill will do anything?” said Misaka Mikoto’s voice from the cell phone.
“With only this much information, I doubt it. And if I tell them, they would likely prevent me from taking action.” Shirai went over the information again in her head. “Essentially, Uiharu and I are the only ones that can take action.”
“Oh, I guess you wouldn’t know her, onee-sama. She’s a colleague of mine. She’s the kind of Judgment member that mainly spends her time in front of a computer.”
“…That’s not much help.”
“Onee-sama, that kind of assessment is more than a little bit hurtful.”
“Anyway, it seems what I explained to you really is going to happen. I think the enemy is planning to use the urban legend of the necklace of death to carry out some kind of terrorist attack on Academy City.”
“I see. To be honest, this just does not feel real to me, but I will trust you, onee-sama.” Shirai frowned a bit. “But it feels like we need to tell that cooperative shopping mall to not get carried away. I can’t believe they would suspect you.”
“I’ve had about enough of it myself. But I’m being sheltered by some strange occult convenience store, so I’m managing for now.”
“Well, here I’m having trouble for a different reason with the weird people like Lessar and Lancis.”
“…O-onee-sama! My bad feeling antenna is up to three bars! There isn’t someone other than me at your side, is there!?”
“Umm, there is. She’s really annoying, so she’s more or less the same as you. Anyway, you know what you have to do, right?”
“I have to go out and make sure there aren’t any suspicious necklaces showing up anywhere.”
“It doesn’t have to be a necklace,” said Mikoto cutting in. “Basically, it just has to be an incident that appears to be the same. It doesn’t even have to use any radioactive materials. Now that the urban legend has been spread in preparation, they could take action at any time.”
Whether electromagnetic waves were visible light, microwaves, or whatever else was determined by the wavelength. If they could produce electromagnetic waves with extremely high frequencies, they could produce the same results as the necklace of death.
“But would they even be able to get a team into Academy City with how heavily guarded it is?”
“I doubt it’s impossible,” Mikoto responded after thinking for a bit. “After all, I’m currently running around in a cooperative institution. …They have some kind of plan occurring right now.”
“…I first need a list of all the people from the shopping mall who are in the city after going through the proper procedures.”
Shirai hung up and called a different number.
She called Uiharu Kazari, the other Judgment member she had mentioned before.
“Have you finished the search!?”
“I’m still working on it. I know that 52 people from the shopping mall are here in Academy City. I have found a list of where they are staying, but 5 of them are listed as private, so I can’t locate them.”
“It isn’t too surprising. They are participants in a forum in the international conference hall in District 3. They’re being treated as VIPs, so their locations are probably being kept a secret as a means of preventing any terrorist attacks on them.”
“…Hm.” Shirai thought for a bit. “Uiharu. If someone was going to carry out a large scale terrorist attack that would utterly destroy all functions of the city, how many people do you think they would need?”
“I-I don’t know anything dangerous like that. Wait…what is going on? You told me to look that up, so I helped you, but is this some kind of dangerous situation?”
(…Well, I doubt they could do it with only 5 people.)
After that arbitrary conclusion, Shirai asked another question.
“How many groups of visitors are there?”
“Um…3 or 4. They’re things like staff for a cargo jet and dispatched groups of researchers…”
“Give me a list,” Shirai ordered. “If that’s all, it would likely be faster to just work without thinking too much about it.”
Shirai Kuroko was a Level 4 Teleporter.
That meant that she could freely enter and exit most places as long as she paid attention to where any electromagnetic and ultrasonic sensors were.
Uiharu had sent a list to her cell phone that she was using to head to the hotel where one of the groups was staying at. She then entered one of the members’ rooms.
She of course did not knock.
Nor did she use a card key.
Places like hotels would have cameras set up in the public areas such as the lobby, the lounge, the elevators, and the emergency stairways, but all the other places tended to have laxer security. For instance, the hallways and customer rooms had no cameras for the sake of privacy.
As such, no one could stop Shirai from teleporting in undetected.
She checked to see if she could hear anything on the other side of the door and then unhesitatingly entered the room.
Shirai pulled thin gloves from her skirt’s pocket and put them on as she looked around. As expected, no one was there. The lights were not on. Holding a penlight in her mouth, she checked the closet and the bedside table.
She heard Uiharu’s voice coming from her small cell phone that was hooked to her ear like a headset.
“Shirai-san, please be careful. We don’t know what it is, but there could be something there with similar effects to the necklace of death.”
“If it was that easy, this would certainly go a lot faster.”
“How about you use the simple detection tool provided by Judgment? It’s the thing you can connect to the lower connector on your phone that acts as a sensor and puts together data on the composition of the air and whether there are harmful electromagnetic waves there.”
“We all underwent training on how to use it the other day, remember!? Or does someone with top grades in a high class school have the ability to sleep through lessons, too!?”
As Uiharu squealed an explanation at her, Shirai followed the instructions and attached an unfamiliar device to her phone.
Shirai had a habit of walking around with items that she had been provided even if she did not know how to use them. The reason she did not put any effort into teaching herself how to use them was simple.
(If I teleport it, anything can be used as a weapon. There’s no point in trying to go for two birds with one stone.)
With that arbitrary thought, Shirai put the small cell phone back to her ear and looked around.
The only piece of luggage seemed to be a large suitcase.
It was locked, but that was no problem for Shirai.
By teleporting just the outer suitcase, she managed to get out the items inside.
Even if the person was a complete subordinate working odd jobs on the outer edges of the plan, someone in a group planning to carry out a terrorist attack would need to be prepared.
There were two major categories those preparations fell under.
The first was things like firearms and blades that reinforced one’s strength.
The second was things like fake passports and disguising wigs that hid oneself strengthening one’s safety.
Shirai fished through the luggage for a bit, but…
(…It looks like this was a miss.)
Shirai came to that conclusion as she was sending each object back into the suitcase with her teleportation. Not only did she not find the mysterious object in question, but she did not even find a single gun.
She hadn’t thought she would find the actual object so easily.
Shirai teleported out of the room and headed for the hotel where the next group was staying.
The misses continued.
But then, there were only 4 groups on the list.
She made it to the last one before long.
Shirai’s expectations had not been wrong.
The instant she teleported inside the room, something seemed off.
No one was inside.
There were no sensors or traps.
But there was something clearly different from the other hotels that had been misses. It was too clean. Of course, hotel rooms tended to be that way, but after staying there for an hour, the guest’s smell tended to cling to the place. Normally, slight traces would remain in the bed or the bathroom, but there was nothing there. It was like a model room.
There were no suitcases, coats, or any other objects belonging to the person staying there.
Shirai pulled out a few devices from her skirt’s pocket and checked the doorknob for fingerprints.
(I know you don’t leave any fingerprints behind if you wear gloves…)
Shirai came to her conclusion while touching the cell phone on her ear with a finger.
(…but cleaners enter the room every day. Since even their fingerprints are gone, the person staying her was not someone who just so happened to be wearing gloves. They had to have at least wiped off the doorknob.)
“Uiharu, I’ve got a hit here.”
“What should I do?”
“This was the group sent here from the Russian shopping mall for business training. Get me pictures of the 18 members, their identities, their schedule in Academy City, their current locations…and, well, just send me as much information on them as you can find.”
Inside the 177th Judgment Branch, Uiharu Kazari continued working.
At first glance, she was a girl with no characteristics that stood out, but the large number of flower decorations on her head completely overturned that initial impression.
While using a computer, she spoke into the cell phone she had switched to speakerphone.
“I’ve done a cursory gathering of data, but it seems like tidy official information. It looks like it may be difficult to determine where they currently are.”
“You have images of all their faces though, right?”
“Then go looking through the recorded footage from the security cameras and robots from around the hotel. If you go back, you should be able to find them. From there, just check through the footage from the different cameras along the way to follow their route to where they are now.”
“Should I really be doing that?”
“Yes, it’s fine.”
Shirai’s permission sounded rather arbitrary, but Uiharu still typed into the keyboard as instructed. Of course, what she was doing could not be done just with the authority of a normal member of Judgment.
(Now I don’t know who the real criminals are.)
“Found them. They used a classic technique.”
“In order to avoid being followed on the camera footage, they changed clothes or put on wigs at a few blind spots along the way. They were trying to prevent anyone from tracing them by altering their looks bit by bit.”
Normally, that method was used in a crowd to escape flesh-and-blood pursuers. With recorded footage that could be examined carefully again and again, someone who was constantly changing their clothes actually stood out from everyone else. It was basically announcing that they were up to no good.
“This isn’t even enough to fool facial recognition software,” Uiharu commented.
“You won’t be led astray by that, right?”
“They travelled using busses, the subway, taxis, and as many forms of transportation as they could manage. They split up to take multiple routes and occasionally double back or make large circles around the same place. Most likely, they are trying to throw off pursuers or are checking to see if they have any.”
Uiharu connected together the recorded camera footage, calculated out the path they had taken, and drew lines on a digital map.
“I’ve found it. I’ve found it. All the members that split up met back together at a single point.”
“An apartment complex for teachers in District 8. But almost no one is actually staying there. They are being rented by the wealthy as essentially ‘large closets’.”
A Judgment armband was quite convenient.
Even if it was past time to be back at one’s dorm, the adults would overlook you as long as you walked around with a serious expression. Even if you stayed at a café for a long time or told a taxi driver to follow a certain car, others would go along with it.
However, there were times when that would not work.
(…Oh, dear. They have a manager’s room at the self-locking entrance and a guard patrolling around.)
Shirai walked around the apartment building as she checked on the situation. Those things seemed to have originally been to give one a feeling of safety knowing that the security there was strict, but that was what had made people look to that place for extra storage. Either way, it made things more difficult.
(Well, I can just teleport in.)
“Uiharu, do you know what room they are in? From the number of windows, there are 20 rooms on each floor. There are 20 floors, so there should be about 400 rooms.”
“There is a camera near the entrance, but the rest is rather difficult. Out of a sense of privacy, it’s only natural for there to be no cameras inside the apartment building.”
“…There are 18 of them. How did they all get in there?”
“Eh? What do you mean…? They just all entered through the entrance like normal.”
That building was an apartment building not a hotel. Basically, it rented out 2DKs. It was not a place 18 people would enter, so normally the manager would find it suspicious and try to stop them.
(…The manager is in on it…?)
For an instant, an aggressive light filled Shirai’s eyes, but…
“If the place truly is being used primarily for storage, groups of movers bringing in or taking out luggage wouldn’t be too rare.” Shirai looked up at the building and looked at the many windows lined up there. “Searching each and every one would be a pain. Is there no other way of figuring out where they are?”
“Sigh. As I told you, it would be difficult to pursue them using the camera footage.”
“But there are other ways, right?”
“How do you make a contract for one of the apartments? If they’re just being used for storage, the inspection must be fairly simple. If they’re the type where you can rent them out monthly over the internet, wouldn’t it be easy to check the records?”
“And as for cameras, you don’t have to use the ones from the apartment building. You might be able to find a hint by using ones from other nearby buildings or even nearby ATMs or vending machines. Even if they value privacy here, cleaning robots will still come and go and…oh, I know. You can use the satellite to check for heat sources and figure out where the people inside are…”
“I think there may be an easier method,” said Uiharu cutting her off. “Those apartments are being used for storage, so no one lives there. Won’t you be able to tell by checking to see which window has light coming from it?”
Shirai cleared her throat after being given that elementary instruction.
She carefully looked up at the apartment building. None of the fluorescent lights seemed to be on, but there was a different paler light. It seemed to be from a flashlight.
It was on the third floor.
It was the 12th window from the right.
(That was incredibly easy…)
Shirai sighed and her body disappeared into thin air.
In the next instant, she arrived in the third floor passageway.
Once she had actually made it inside, she could immediately tell where her targets were. She heard a noise. It was the sound of someone trying to hide the sound of their breathing. Normally, she would not have noticed it. It was quiet enough that it would have blended into the usual background noise of an apartment building. However, even that small noise was audible as there was almost no one there due to the apartments being used for storage. It was about the same as hearing a mosquito flying near one’s ear on a summer night.
As she approached the door, Shirai spoke into her cell phone.
“I’m going in. Uiharu, you keep an eye around the building. Check to see if anyone flees the building and if they do, make sure to track them.”
“W-wait, Shirai-san. Will you be okay on your own?”
According to Mikoto, an incident involving living bombs that used crimson long-legged army ants had occurred in the Russian shopping mall right after the urban legend of the very valuable orange had spread throughout the area.
That incident had been carried out by a third party which had led to a lot happening, but the people truly behind it all were thinking of doing something similar.
In other words, now that the urban legend of the necklace of death had been spread through both Academy City and the shopping mall, they would be trying to carry out an incident related to that story in Academy City.
A group thinking of doing that truly existed.
In that case, necklaces would of course be the most suspicious, but it could also be harmful high frequency electromagnetic waves. Something invisible and therefore something there was no good way of taking counter measures against was scary, but…
(Well, I have this.)
Shirai lightly touched the cell phone at her ear that had the simple detection tool connected to it.
(They are likely finishing their preparations for bringing whatever it is in safely. Normally thinking, it should be in a lead package or something.)
Shirai Kuroko may have been able to come to that simple conclusion because she had no real sense of danger when it came to something she could not see.
“Here I go,” Shirai said while pressing up against the wall next to the door.
That was when she felt that something was off.
Shirai had known where her target was from the moment she had entered that hallway. After all, that room had been the only one with sounds of people moving around inside it within that apartment building that was being almost completely used for storage.
If she could hear the noises they made, then they may have been able to hear the noises she made.
A window made of frosted glass on the side of the entrance broke from the inside. Cracks spread all across the window, but the actual hole opened was rather small. A cylindrical object flew through that hole and rolled into the hallway Shirai was in.
The small cell phone on her ear gave off a sharp electronic tone.
The simple detection tool was giving a warning.
“Shirai-san! The tool has detected SC39!!”
“It’s a type of detector for harmful electromagnetic waves. With the proper amount, it changes color related to the presence, wavelength, and strength of electromagnetic waves.”
While listening to Uiharu’s explanation, Shirai remembered what it was herself.
She was pretty sure she had heard of it in a Judgment joint lesson.
“It was recalled quite some time ago because there was a danger of it catching fire or exploding when a large amount of the detector was bathed in strong electromagnetic waves with an extremely high frequency!!”
That was when Shirai noticed something giving off light in the broken window. It was not just a flashlight. The light was an ominous purple.
As it was frosted glass, she could not see the details, but whatever it was seemed to be attached to the end of some kind of pole.
A chill ran down her spine.
She accurately read what the enemy was intending to do.
She immediately teleported at about the same time as the ominous purple light took action.
Suddenly, a small scale explosion occurred in the building’s hallway.
Crimson flames lit up the walls and ceiling and a colorless shockwave spread to either end of the hallway in an instant. A few alarms started ringing, but no residents opened their doors to see what was going on. All the rooms truly seemed to be nothing more than storage areas. The manager or the guard would likely be there soon, but Shirai did not especially care.
A strange sweat was coming from Shirai Kuroko’s body as she stood in a spot a bit away.
She was almost in a panic.
She had not been injured by the explosion. The shockwave had struck her body, but it had been well within a safe level. Her eardrums and organs were likely undamaged.
That was not the problem.
Because Shirai knew how that explosion had been caused, she could not relax even though she was not in any pain.
Just before the explosion, she had heard a noise like a camera flash.
And she had an idea what that had been.
The urban legend they were using was the necklace of death.
They had used the harmful electromagnetic wave detector SC39 to cause that explosion.
(…An ultra high frequency electromagnetic weapon!?)
“Wh-what was that just now, Shirai-san!? A strange line ran across the image from the satellite! I can’t scan in your area!!”
“Tch. It seems to be a relative of the microwave oven!!”
“P-please get out of there, Shirai-san!! You can’t do anything without protective clothing!!”
That was exactly what she intended to do.
She was also afraid of the explosions created using the harmful electromagnetic wave detector, but the greatest threat was the invisible radiation that could pierce straight through any obstacle.
But her opponents were faster.
She heard another sound from a room that should have been far away from where the room they were in. It was a very quiet electronic noise. Shirai felt she had only been able to hear it because her senses had been heightened due to her peril in addition to the lack of other noises.
(Don’t tell me they placed SC39 all over the place in case something unexpected happened!!)
Whether they had detected where she was or they were simply firing randomly, she would be taken out.
Their weapons used electromagnetic waves, so they could go straight through solid objects.
Wherever Shirai ran, there was no point if more of the detector was set up there already. If they just bathed the detector in the ultra high frequency electromagnetic waves, Shirai’s body would be blown to pieces.
As such, Shirai escaped using a mental blind spot.
Instead of moving horizontally, she teleported down to the second floor.
Immediately afterwards, she heard the camera flash-like sound of the waves being fired. Following it came numerous explosions. If they assumed their target would only be able to move through the hallways, stairways, and elevators, she could wait them out there.
(The ultra high frequency electromagnetic waves that act as the trigger are more frightening than the explosive itself! A killer weapon that gives no pain is enough to make one quite uneasy! I need to get a detailed examination done after this is over!!)
She heard multiple metallic noises.
It sounded like something was jumping down from the balcony onto the top of a car roof. Shirai recalled where she and her opponents were.
She was on the second floor and the attackers were on the third floor.
(There are 18 of them.)
“(…Uiharu, some of them are leaving! Don’t let them escape!!)”
“More importantly, Shirai-san, I’m detecting some waves other than the ultra high frequency ones!”
“They seem to be searching for the pattern of slight distortion a human’s magnetism causes in electromagnetic waves and are aiming for that! They will find you even if you are behind the cover of a wall or a ceiling!!”
“Please just tell me that part first!!”
Shirai frantically teleported away before she had even finished speaking.
She moved from room to room.
The mysterious camera flash-like firing sound accurately followed her as she went.
At that rate, she would end up being hit.
The reaction disappeared.
The man holding a strange rifle in one room of the apartment building moved his eyes away from the sight with a doubtful look on his face. The thick tube attached to the left side of the gun was the unit which fired the packages with SC39 in them.
He spoke to a comrade who was also scanning the area with an identical rifle.
“What do you think?”
“She may have escaped,” was the frank response. “Even with a corpse, we should be able to detect a magnetic reaction. It isn’t normal for it to completely disappear.”
Of course, it was also not normal for a human to disappear ignoring the walls and passageways. However, the target had made some odd movements even before disappearing. It had been to the point that he was proud of himself for not just writing it off as a malfunction with the equipment.
“So this is Academy City.”
“She must be a Teleporter.”
If their opponent had escaped, that meant she was still alive. Not killing her had been a bad move, but the two of them decided it did not matter. It was too late for the target to do anything.
They were the only ones there.
The rest had jumped down from the balcony and left in a vehicle.
That apartment building had just been a gathering point.
Using various methods, they had managed to bring the items important to their plan as well as parts to those items into Academy City. They would gather all those items together in one place, assemble them, and then carry them to the next gathering point. By repeating that, they would complete the truly important item bit by bit.
Even at the current stage, they had already finished assembling the main shaft.
If they could gather together the small supports, they could begin to actually carry out their plan.
“This gathering point’s role is over. We need to erase all traces of our presence and get out of here quickly.”
“You fired too many unnecessary shots. It isn’t like there’s no risk to us.”
The protective suits they wore were incredibly simple. From a distance, they may have looked like two piece raincoats. They did nothing more than make sure they did not receive any after affects from the rifles they were firing.
They carried out an adequate level of “cleaning” and then headed for the entrance while still wearing their raincoat-like protective suits.
The instant one of them grabbed the doorknob, a metal arrow pierced straight through the palm of the protective suit and the doorknob.
For an instant, he did not feel any pain.
Before his proper senses could return, more metal arrows assaulted him.
Multiple metal arrows pierced through both his arms and both his legs and he started to collapse to the floor. However, the man in the protective suit could not completely fall because he was sewn to the doorknob through his palm. The ultra high frequency electromagnetic rifle slipped from his hand. The man only understood that someone had attacked him in some strange way and he spoke to his comrade next to him.
“Hey, scan the area!! We need to at least figure out where the enemy i—”
The man trailed off as his words became caught in his throat.
His comrade was collapsed on the floor. The other man had metal arrows stabbing into his body in places just like the first man.
“You shouldn’t swing around such dangerous things,” said a girl’s voice.
The voice was coming from the center of the room.
The man immediately moved his arm that had been pierced to the bone in an attempt to grab his ultra high frequency electromagnetic rifle, but his hand was crushed under a foot before he could.
Intense pain ran through his arm.
But the weight was much greater than that of a single girl.
Groaning, the man looked up at the attacker’s face.
“You were using electromagnetic waves to search for the magnetic reaction of a human body, weren’t you?” The girl spoke while showing off her body that sparkled a dark gray. “Then my reaction would disappear if I did this, right? Despite how I look, I can freely ‘carry’ 130.7 kilograms.”
“A steel suit of armor…!?”
“Given that I was able to put it on by myself, it seems to be purely ornamental rather than intended for actual combat.”
“W-wait, why do you have something like that!?”
“This is a storage area for the wealthy. You know how suits of armor are, right? You end up buying one, but then you don’t have anywhere to put it, so you end up sticking it in a corner where it just gathers dust.”
“What? No!! Why the hell do you think I would know anything about that!?” the man yelled without thinking in protest of the unreasonable situation he had ended up in.
“Armor punch, armor kick, armor headbutt, armor body press!!”
Upon receiving those attacks in quick succession, the man seriously coughed up blood and then passed out.
Shirai gave a light sigh within the thick armor and then looked over at the man’s accomplice. He was not moving and it seemed he had lost consciousness from the shock of being pierced by so many metal arrows.
Shirai skillfully grabbed her cell phone with the thick fingers of the armor.
“I’ve finished up here. Uiharu, you’re tracking the ones who escaped, right? Oh, and contact Anti-Skill. If we show them these ultra high frequency electromagnetic rifles, they won’t be able to say it’s just nonsense from some students.”
Uiharu’s pressured voice shook Shirai’s eardrums.
There was some static running through her voice.
Immediately afterwards, a massive amount of harmful electromagnetic waves that had been fired from a distance penetrated that room of the apartment building.
The explosion was incredibly simple to understand.
On the other hand, the ultra high frequency electromagnetic waves below the surface were much more frightening than the flames or heat.
They noiselessly approached and damaged the structure of a living being.
A large amount of ultra high frequency electromagnetic waves in a short period of time had a high risk of destroying the cycle of cell division. And even if one was fine after that short period of time, the danger could suddenly show itself after 5 to 10 years of nothing.
A massive amount of those harmful electromagnetic waves swept across that room in the apartment building.
“Hoo…” Shirai Kuroko breathed out.
Her body was no longer surrounded by the suit of armor.
She held two men in her arms.
“We were saved by the fact that we were on the third floor. I just can’t teleport two grown men along with me.”
In other words, she had jumped down from the third floor.
Only that room had been targeted, so as long as they escaped that, their lives would not be taken by the waves.
“…Even if it is a highly directional exposure method, that was rather reckless.”
The people from the Russian shopping mall may not have cared because they would be glad to cause even more damage, but for Shirai and the rest of Academy City, it was a major problem.
(The detector and the ultra high frequency electromagnetic rifles are not all there is. Those are nothing more than a popular weapon that was distributed to all the members. It’s true that they can be used to silently go on a shooting spree and cause quite a bit of damage, but…)
“Uiharu, is Anti-Skill going to take action?”
“Y-yes. The ultra high frequency electromagnetic waves were strong enough to be seen on the satellite, after all. From the way they were acting, I’m half expecting to receive a note of protest asking why we did not report this sooner.”
Shirai silently cursed Anti-Skill, but spoke of a different subject.
“Then contact the research institutions and advise that that they prepare some of the powered suits that are used for work in nuclear facilities. They are not hesitating to use those ultra high frequency electromagnetic rifles. But at the same time, that is all they are. If we can negate their ability to do damage with those waves, we have nothing to fear from them.”
There were also the explosions caused using the harmful electromagnetic wave detector and they may have been armed with other firearms, but even a noncombat powered suit was tough enough to stand up to a rifle bullet. The ones for nuclear facilities would completely cover the operator’s body with no gaps, so they may even be better than a military model when it came to pure toughness.
(Actually defeating them should be simple enough… That just leaves quickly bringing this to an end before they get desperate and decide to go out in a shooting spree.)
“Shirai-san, what are you going to do?”
“Good question...” Shirai Kuroko pulled handcuffs from her skirt’s pocket and turned in the direction of the collapsed men as she responded to Uiharu. “Give me the tracking data on the remaining ones. I’ll continue the investigation in my own way.”
In a security guard office, Enirya G. Algonskaya looked at the investigation materials being displayed on the wall’s Semipublic AR.
Misaka Mikoto still had not been found.
There had also been no hints related to the possible group that had killed someone and removed their body from the production plant for the oranges and crimson long-legged army ants.
Were those two different things?
Or was there a connection between them?
As a security guard, it was Enirya’s duty to protect the peace of that shopping mall. She was shocked at the fact that someone knew how to escape detection within that shopping mall better than her. She had thought the security guards understood that city perfectly.
In other words…
(There is something lurking in this city in an even deeper area than I know of.)
She had a vague feeling that her normal methods of investigating would not directly lead her there. But at the same time, it was necessary for that to be the case. If the construction of the shopping mall was completely within what they thought it was, then it would be impossible for a suspect to slip through their fingers like that.
Whether it was Misaka Mikoto or some group that had removed the body, they were passing through places Enirya did not know of and doing things she was not aware of.
If she checked the parts of that incident that even she did not understand, she might be able to find some logical answer.
Was it Misaka Mikoto or someone else?
Pursuing the suspects in the crimson long-legged army ant case was her job as a security guard, but after coming that far, she felt the need to take a bit of a detour.
(…The higher ups, hm?)
Enirya simply looked up at the ceiling and thought of something else.
She had barely been aware of them up until then…or rather, she and her colleagues actually on the scene had felt they knew more about the city than them. But now their existence seemed to grow.
Those people who had done everything from designing to managing the city would likely know even the things Enirya did not.
If she thought through everything again once she had that information, she might be able to see the logic of the incident. Or she might be able to see what was to come. It was possible she would be able to predict where the suspects would head and what they would try to do.
(But the problem is whether a mere pet dog has enough freedom to get that information.)
As Enirya silently thought that, she heard the voice of a colleague.
“You got a second? I’m not sure if this has anything to do with the case, but…”
“Look at this.”
By operating the wall’s Semipublic AR, Enirya’s colleague set it at a level where she could view it, too. The screen displayed an internet board. The heading said “Mysterious Phenomena Special Feature”.
“If I recall correctly, on the day of the crimson long-legged army ant incident, the story of the very valuable orange spread around explosively and the actual incident occurred shortly thereafter. A few days before, the story had involved a cactus and scorpions, but it suddenly changed to the story of the orange on the day the primary suspect appeared here. …Look at this other story here. It’s an utterly absurd story, but it seems to be spreading over boards all over the place. What if…?”
“What if the next incident occurs with that story as its motif?”
“It seems possible to me…”
“Have you checked where the posts were sent from?”
“Yes, but they’re most likely innocent. There’s a flower shop worker, a hotel worker, a tourist from Brazil, and even a fellow security guard… I don’t see any connection.”
It had been the same with the orange story. The posts had spread in no time at all, but there had been no connection between the individual people. That was when they had started to focus on Misaka Mikoto as the person who had initially brought the story to the local network of the shopping mall.
“So this urban legend is about…” Enirya frowned. “The necklace of death?”
“No.” Her colleague scrolled down. “It’s this next one.”
Inside the 177th Judgment Branch, Uiharu slowly stretched.
She did not think it was a good thing for a first year middle school girl to have stiff shoulders, but that was a problem everyone had regardless of age after sitting at a computer for a long period of time.
She was taking time to stretch because the incident was showing signs of coming to an end.
She leaned back in her chair and slowly let out a breath.
(But what was with those ultra high frequency electromagnetic waves? I should have had Shirai-san tell me everything she knows.)
Complaining about it would not help and Shirai Kuroko’s methods would not be changed so easily. Those were the actions characteristic of one with great ability, so it wasn’t that uncommon.
Suddenly, her cell phone started to ring.
It indicated an email, not a phone call.
Uiharu thought something more had happened regarding the incident, but instead it was from her classmate Saten Ruiko. While paying attention to her computer’s monitor, Uiharu operated her cell phone. To be completely honest, she felt a bit relieved because it felt like she was being brought back to her normal school life.
The contents of the email were as follows:
“Sender: Saten Ruiko
Subject: Go check this out right away
Body: Hey, Uiharu, what’re you doing right now? The urban legend special on Channel CS119 is getting pretty awesome.”
It was indeed rather silly, but that was pretty much all emails between students tended to be. It would have been stranger for the contents to be full of important things one could not overlook like an incident or the whereabouts of a criminal.
Uiharu moved her thumbs across the keys.
Body: I don’t have a contract for such a minor show.”
That was her short response.
Less than 10 seconds later, she received a reply. That cycle repeated making it less an email conversation and more a 1 on 1 chat.
Uiharu was faster when it came to typing on a computer, but Saten was faster when it came to using a cell phone. In fact, she was the only one that could get that speed with a single thumb.
“Sender: Saten Ruiko
Body: Eh? You have the fiber optic cable for the broadcast connected, right?”
Body: Well, yes.”
“Sender: Saten Ruiko
Subject: Then I have a request
Body: The CS has a trial service. There will be some annoying text in the middle of the screen telling you how to register, but you only need to hear it, so that won’t be a problem. Just take a look at CS119!!”
“Subject: I’m in the middle of work
Body: I’m at the Judgment office, so I can’t watch it either way.”
“Sender: Saten Ruiko
Subject: It has to be now!
Body: Eh? Too bad. They’re in the middle of an awesome discussion of the necklace of death! If you don’t hurry, they’ll go on to the next thing!!”
Uiharu’s eyes widened in shock and her thumbs almost stopped moving.
But Saten was just talking about a silly variety show made up of rumors that were spreading through the city. They wouldn’t be talking about a dangerous incident involving ultra high frequency electromagnetic rifles or protective suits. Even such a minor CS would not be able to air something like that.
Uiharu tried to match her conversation to who she was speaking with.
She tried to keep it at a silly discussion.
“Subject: The necklace of death?
Body: That’s the story about the girl who dies after receiving a uranium crystal necklace from her boyfriend, right?”
“Sender: Saten Ruiko
Subject: Too bad!!
Body: Yes, that’s quite sharp of you Uiharu! …is what I’d like to say, but that’s the old one. The latest urban legend has advanced to the next stage!!”
That time, Uiharu felt her insides freeze over.
Her thumbs were not moving.
She wanted to ask a question, but her field of vision narrowed and she could not hit the keys.
Saten did not notice and sent yet another email.
“Sender: Saten Ruiko
Subject: The latest info
Body: It says there’s this mysterious shopping mall in Russia that sells anything. They do business in all sorts of things there. Weapons, drugs, slaves, and nuclear materials!! It’s a black market with everything you can think of!”
Uiharu desperately wished for her classmate to stop.
However, she could not hit the keys needed to say so.
During that time, the information from Saten continued to come.
The urban legend that was becoming worse and worse by the moment innocently stabbed into Uiharu Kazari’s heart.
“(Continuation of the body) Anyway, a highly dense piece of nuclear material sold there was made into the form of a sculpture and covered with a coating of melted lead. It was then brought into Academy City. According to the story, it was left somewhere in the city as part of a deal, but it has to be found before the terrorists hidden in Academy City get their hands on it and make it into a nuclear bomb!!”