Apocalypse Witch:Volume1 Chapter3

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Status: Incomplete

5/12 parts completed

   

Chapter 3

Part X

Yes, we are here in Rio de Janeiro.

As you can see, the city’s borders are blocked off by barricades and yellow tape so us normal folk are not allowed to see inside. Footage from helicopters or drones is not an option because the area has been declared a no-fly zone and civilian satellites have been forced to mask the data they release in accordance with the International Peaceful Usage of Space Treaty.

The details have not been announced as per the usual information restriction, but rumor has it the Threat did this.

Time and again this month, the Problem Solvers have been less than successful and people suspect this incident could have been entirely prevented if all five of those strongests had been deployed as usual, so public groups appear to be requesting the information be released.

Elicia “Saurus” Luxverg.

Yukino “Punish” Arakawa.

Jessie “Edge” Marcus.

Those three are known as the public face of the Problem Solvers while the other two have not left as much of an impression on us since they are more like secret weapons kept hidden from the public.

Some tabloids and online news sites have been suggesting there are not in fact five Problem Solvers and those three are it, but the truth will likely be difficult to find since not a single government is willing to say anything on the matter.

Meanwhile, the Threat remains an issue.

We can only pray that the Problem Solvers quickly recover from whatever is troubling them.

Part 1

The LCD TV went silent in the middle of the news.

No one had hit the power button on the remote. Amaashi Marika, a girl with twintails dyed a bright strawberry blonde, had thrown the remote at the screen.

Student Council President Omotesandou Kyouka smiled softly.

“Marika-san.”

“Oh, sorry. That just pissed me off way too much is all.”

Marika pouted her lips, but she did actually bow her head.

They had taken their RV out of England and to the fellow European nation of Germany. They had a simple reason for that: two of the Problem Solvers had been killed during the G21 summit. The country was bound to be locked down while a largescale search began. Britain was an island nation, so it could be locked down more tightly than other nations. Once the circle closed around them, there would be no escape.

But why had it not been locked down immediately? They could guess the higher ups decided not to explain to the normal police what had happened because they feared the chaos and panic if word of what happened got out.

Either way, they had needed to escape while they still could.

Marika glanced over at the dead TV.

“How long are we going to be able to watch TV like this?”

“Yes, defeating Yukino caused the Sunny Side Up network to break apart in earth’s gravity, didn’t it?” said Kyouka. “The system was not 100% reliant on that, but losing a major source puts pressure on everything else.”

“Yeah, I hear the houses that run on solar power are having the solar panels stolen from their roofs now. It might not be long before people start stealing car batteries.”

Yukino’s defeat had destabilized the world’s power supply. The governments that had been using her for general power were scrambling to get their old power stations running at full capacity again, but that would leave the government supercomputers and particle accelerators without power.

Those were used to develop new drugs for incurable diseases.

Or so it was claimed to secure the budget to keep them running.

If they stopped, it was sure to cause various problems.

Utagai Karuta blankly listened to them from the sofa while losing himself in thought. Their revenge had reduced the number of Problem Solvers, which in turn increased the fury of the Threat. Quite a few countries, regions, or cities had entirely disappeared overnight this month alone and many unrelated people had met an unfortunate end.

Everyone talked about it like they were blaming Karuta’s group.

It was almost like the Problem Solvers were intentionally holding back to increase the damage done so they could place the blame on them.

But Karuta also had another thought.

“Does the Threat even exist at all?”

That was a fundamental question.

He had started to wonder back in London. Yukino Arakawa had tried to escape responsibility for mass murder by shoving the blame onto the Threat. What if they had done that over and over in the past? The Threat might exist or it might not, but someone was clearly taking advantage of the situation.

The Threat was beginning to function as a means of manipulating public opinion through fear and confusion and as a veil to cover up inconvenient truths.

That thought painted the previous news report in a different light.

Search out the villains who are attacking the Problem Solvers. The world needs to come together and hunt them down.

If the Problem Solvers had really destroyed several cities just for that, then they had brought their villainy to a whole new level. But at the same time, he could not help but note that the people who had destroyed their giant ship of a school could easily pull it off.

Not only did they have the ability, but they also had the lack of scruples.

“Anyway.” The Student Council President clapped her hands together in front of her large chest. “The dinosaur, the light spear, and the giant sword. We’ve taken out half of the Problem Solvers now, but you could say the real challenge is yet to come. You know why that is, don’t you?”

Crystal Girl Aine shook her rainbow-glowing silver hair, fluttered her transparent white dress, and quietly tilted her head in a corner of the RV.

Karuta sighed and refocused his mind.

“Unlike those three, we have no records of the other two fighting. We’ve defeated all the ones we saw use their God-Worshiping Magic at our school.”

“Yes. Our experience and data allowed us to put together a detailed plan and that made all the difference. The Problem Solvers are the world’s strongest and now we will be forced to go in blind and adlib our way through it.”

“By the way, Sacri-sama, is it possible the Problem Solvers not seen at your school did not actually participate in that battle?”

Aine seemed to be speaking on behalf of Karuta’s reluctance to kill, but it was him who rejected the idea.

“We know the dinosaur was on the ship and the light spear and giant sword most likely attacked from outside, so that means there was at least one more of them there: the woman who laughed over the ship’s speakers. This is only a guess and we can’t rely on it too much, but if four of them were a part of it, it seems unlikely just the one sat it out.”

There was no real cloud on Marika or Kyouka’s faces.

It felt wrong to consider the possibility that one of the Problem Solvers was actually a good person. They could not imagine it even as a hypothetical.

“But to be honest, going in blind is not going to be easy,” spat out his curly twintails childhood friend with a bitter look on her face. “What kind of attack do they use, how powerful is it, what’s its range, how often can they use it, etc. And beyond that, without knowing their name or where they live, we can’t fight them or even approach them. An intuition-based game of concentration using all 5.5 billion people on the planet doesn’t sound very promising.”

“We do have something to go on there,” said the Student Council President as she smiled and pulled something from the chest of her blazer.

It was a card-sized electronic device.

“The light spear woman was obliterated, but the giant sword one remained a little more intact, so I swiped her phone. And I made sure to modify it so not even the owner would be able to track it. …And by ‘modify’, I mean I checked the device’s plans and drove a nail through the transmission chip.”

“Are you saying that might tell us the location of a Problem Solvers base or personal information on the other members?”

“It’s worth looking into, don’t you think?”

Part 2

Note: the gold leaf is contained in a separate package. Sprinkle it on to enjoy the crunch!

“Is gold leaf actually crunchy?” groaned Utagai Karuta while reading the Japanese confection’s package.

A small plastic bag contained thin flakes that glittered gold. There was only about a pinch or two at the most. Instead of a single folded piece, it was even smaller than pieces of katsuobushi. It may have been more like a powder than a leaf.

They had bought this on the black market.

They had used that kind of sketchy store instead of a legit one because of the influence of the Problem Solvers’ defeat. The light spear had not been the only one to die in London that day.

The giant sword woman had as well.

The Student Council President had defeated the one who apparently controlled the world’s industrial side.

Simply put, that woman had run a giant all-purpose factory that could make anything if you sent her a request via email. For normal corporations, everything leading up to that email had mattered far more than the production infrastructure. In other words, the value of intellectual property like designs and plans had skyrocketed. They had started using analog microfilm as a countermeasure against hackers, that had led to the spread of business-oriented banks that specialized in safe-deposit boxes for that microfilm, and companies called for armored cars as readily as motorcycle couriers.

Then that entire system had collapsed overnight.

Corporations around the world had lost that all-purpose factory, but they could not prepare their own production infrastructure so quickly. They could not supply the products for the orders they were receiving. They all had to build their own factories in a hurry, but they needed money to pay for that. They were forced to sell off all sorts of things: their buildings, the designs of their products, and even human beings in the form of layoffs.

The chaos was unlikely to end soon.

The shelves of retail stores were empty and the foods and everyday items sold on the black market were going for exorbitant prices. It had reached the point where it was said you needed a knife or a handgun to even start haggling.

(But this won’t last forever.)

Karuta observed the situation with a somehow cold look in his eyes.

(Humans always find a way of bringing things back to normal. And I’m used to being hated by this point, so you can’t use them as hostages, Problem Solvers.)

Meanwhile, there was Crystal Girl Aine.

She must not have cared in the slightest about that human interplay of joy and sorrow because she was already leaning forward without considering the hem of her transparently white dress.

“H-hurry! Hurry up and sprinkle that crunchiness on the yokan and then give me permission to eat it! Pant, pant, ahh, woof, woof!!”

“This is looking more and more like some kind of dangerous withdrawal symptoms, so are you sure it’s safe to let you have this!?”

Her eyes were spinning and drool dripped from the corner of her mouth. She looked so frail that she would break if you held her too tightly, but that only made it look all the more inappropriate when she was staring so intently at the powdered contents of a small plastic bag. That mystery crystal girl did not rely on any god’s name to accurately calculate out the collision of the energy from the Original Crystal Embryo at the center of the earth and the supernatural forces pouring down from outer space, but at times like this, she made him look like the bad guy.

It was Student Council President Omotesandou Kyouka who smiled gently.

She held a small plate containing a mille-crepe that was not a convenience store product. Karuta did not know the name of the tea she had on the table either and he doubted he would remember it even if she told him.

“My, my. But if you refuse to give it to her now, I am pretty sure she would throw a tantrum that would cause the RV to burst open like a jack-in-the-box.”

“She’s asked for gold powder and gold leaf before, but that doesn’t really change the flavor, does it?” asked curly twintailed Marika.

That girl lay on the sofa bed with a bunch of cheap snacks piled around her. When the time had come for each of them to choose their own snacks, she alone had ignored the luxury items and gone for quantity over quality.

“It is not an issue of flavor and the nutrients required by the human body are irrelevant to me. I need gold, pure gold. By adding wiring thinner than hairs inside my silicon semiconductor body, I can expand to even greater heights!!”

“I don’t really get it, but it’s creeping me out.”

How had this happened?

It was going to take some time to analyze the smartphone they had swiped from the giant sword woman’s corpse, so they had nothing to discuss concerning the other Problem Solvers who never made media appearances. With nothing to do, they had decided to head out and buy some food.

So where had the money for that come from?

That too was simple.

“The Problem Solvers really are loaded, aren’t they?”

“Impressively so. Can you see now why all the powerful nations want to call themselves the guardians of the law despite how annoying that position is?”

Basically, they had stolen more than just the phone from the giant sword woman.

They had taken a life without leaving any room for argument, they had checked over the corpse and stolen everything of value, and they had bought some luxury items with that money to take a nice break. As reluctant as Karuta had been, he could not deny they really were living the lives of avengers at this point.

Slender Crystal Girl Aine was the most lacking in morals (since she was not human) and now she was all fired up. Was he imagining things or was her long silver hair stirring?

“Sacri-sama, how long are you going to tease me? If you don’t give it to me soon, I am going to enter a rebellious phase.”

“I don’t think that’s how you’re supposed to use a rebellious phase.”

“Can anyone really say they used their rebellious phase the way they were ‘supposed to’?” asked Kyouka

“Does that mean even our gentle Student Council President had a rebellious phase?” asked Marika, whose interest here was straying from the point a little.

Meanwhile, Karuta first removed the main yokan from the small wooden box and placed it on a small plate on the side table. Once that was on standby, he only had to open the small plastic bag and sprinkle on the gold leaf.

“Listen, Aine. I will sprinkle the gold leaf on like you want, but this yokan is for the two of us to share. Do not eat the whole thing yourself, okay? And I mean it! No matter what, do not eat the whole thing the instant I sprinkle this on!!”

“Woof, woof, woof!!”

“Not exactly inspiring confidence here!!”

Going without a snack while everyone else had one would be too psychologically taxing. He kept a cautious eye on Aine who was in a very untrustworthy spinny-eye mode while he grabbed the small bag of gold leaf in both hands. Gold leaf or not, this was little different from the packages of soy sauce or Worcester sauce that came with convenience store bentos. He slowly tore off the top edge using the score in the side.

However…

“Oh, crap. I got some on my finger. I should have tapped on it to get it to settle in the bottom first.”

“!?”

He just about wiped his finger off on the thigh of his pants, but a viselike grip grabbed his wrist first.

It was the gold-loving girl Aine.

“Wait, wait, wait, wait!! You’ll break it, you’ll break it, you’ll break it, you’ll break it!!!”

“Ahm.”

“And don’t just start sucking my finger like that! Stop it, Aine! I’ll do it right, okay!?”

“I han’t let it go hoo waste.”

His shouting accomplished nothing. He really did use his full strength to try and pull away, but this wrist was trapped more securely than in the base of a guillotine. Meanwhile, the boy’s fingertip was at the mercy of Aine’s surprisingly warm mouth. It felt like she was using her tongue to thoroughly clean off the bottom of the finger, the top of the nail, and even below the nail.

Seeing the enjoyment and love on her face as she consumed the gold leaf filled him with a weird feeling. She looked so much like a human, but this consumption of metal was an undeniable oddity. While it was true humans needed to consume iron and zinc, they would not start chomping on a screw or nail. Aine, on the other hand, probably would eat a pure gold screw or nail if she was given one.

It was unlikely that pale crystal girl would show any sign of rejection such as metal poisoning.

Meanwhile, the oddity of it all was accentuated by how her mannerisms were the same as a cute girl.

Something was shaken in his heart. The scene before him greatly worried him.

“Fwah… I will let you off the hook with just that, but pure gold is a valuable rare metal. If you do not treat it with the proper care, I will never forgive you even if you are my Sacri-sama.”

“You do know that would amount to a gentle form of suicide, don’t you?”

His wrist was finally freed from her viselike grip, but it sounded like he needed to be more careful from here on. In fact, he was a little worried that the Problem Solvers might throw pure gold caltrops on the ground in battle to distract her.

“But this stuff looks pretty tricky to use since its even thinner than katsuobushi. If I just sprinkle it on like normal, some of it would probably end up off of the plate.”

“Starting now, I will hold my breath until you have completed your objective,” announced Aine.

“You don’t have to do that. Besides, how would I even tell if your face was a little more pale than usual? And stop staring at me like that!!”

During that discussion, Utagai Karuta moved the small bag as close to the yokan as he could before sprinkling its contents.

However, a demon interrupted him.

“Mh. Oh, I got the rare planaria character! Hey, hey! Look, Karuta! These things can multiply endlessly if you keep cutting them apart! And finding one in your animal snacks is supposed to increase your monetary luck, so…ah…ah…”

He had a bad feeling about this.

And his bad feeling proved accurate.

“Achoo!!!!!!”

A great wind blew in just as he was attempting such delicate work. The glittering gold leaf should have fallen straight onto the yokan, but it was all blasted in the wrong direction.

Specifically, all over the body of the boy who had been so carefully handling the bag.

ApocalypseWitch v01 11.png

Karuta began to sparkle all over, but it may have been more like a human disco ball than a scene shown in shoujo manga vision.

Now, a question.

What had happened to his fingertip when he got just a bit of gold leaf on it earlier?

“………………………………………………………………………………Sacri-sama. Drool.”

“Wait! Stop, Aine! This is an ord-…”

“Sacri-samaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!”

A fairly serious hell of stickiness soon followed.

Just before the collision, Karuta tried to ignore the reality facing him by noting that the Student Council President cleverly grabbed her teacup from the side table and retreated.

Part 3

Time continued to flow even during that disaster, so it was late at night before long.

Aine loved small spaces, so she had retired to the prototype spaceship shaped like a bamboo leaf (because it was creepy having her arms and legs stick out of Karuta’s body as she tossed and turned in her sleep) and strawberry blonde Marika went to sleep in her usual spot on the sofa bed (with only the one sheet covering her nudity yet again). She ended up tossing and turning a lot herself, so that sheet seemed worryingly inadequate.

The faint light of a laptop screen was the only thing illuminating the RV at the moment. A cable connected the device to a smartphone.

Student Council President Omotesandou Kyouka was staring at the computer screen in just a large dress shirt.

“Are you still not going to sleep?” asked Utagai Karuta from behind her.

“I have to look after these babies.”

She apparently meant the computer. That phrasing made him curious how she mentally categorized Crystal Girl Aine.

The screen had a few windows open, but they all had a ton of alphanumeric text scrolling quickly by. He could guess she was trying to break some kind of encryption, but he doubted human eyes were quick enough to follow what was going on. His weren’t, at least.

“C’mon, it won’t take that long to decrypt. Karuta-kun, you can go ahead and get to sleep.”

“If it won’t take that long, then I’ll stay up with you.”

“Oh, dear. Trapped by my own wording.”

She gave a bewitching smile and leaned her head a bit to the left. He did not realize what that meant at first, but when she traced her finger along the shoulder that’s smooth skin was left exposed by the baggy dress shirt, he finally realized what she was inviting him to do.

“I’d be too embarrassed.”

“It’s my thanks for staying up with me.”

He got the feeling she would not move on unless he went along with it. He endured the silence for a bit, but he finally gave in to the awkward elevator mood.

He placed his chin on the shoulder she had “opened” for him. They both viewed the screen as if he were rubbing his cheek against hers while embracing her from behind.

He could sense the heat of her soft cheek and the scent of her hair.

And while giving him all that, she also whispered to him.

“Once we know what is inside the giant sword woman’s phone, we should have a fair amount of information on the other Problem Solvers. Then we can finally get to work.”

“…Right.”

“Karuta-kun, are you hoping the decryption fails?”

Since he was essentially embracing her from behind, she must have felt him jump ever so slightly. She may have also noticed his elevated heartrate.

If not for the need to protect the defenseless students and teachers, they may not have had to bare their fangs like animals.

If not for their revenge, the people in this RV might have been able to smile together in an ordinary classroom or clubroom.

Part of him definitely felt that way, but that part of him had made his childhood friend cry back in London.

She had asked him not to leave her – leave them – behind.

“Don’t worry,” said Omotesandou Kyouka. “I feel something similar.”

“Eh?”

At first, he thought this was some kind of leading question, but then she revealed what she meant.

“Revenge, vengeance, making them pay. It is simple enough to say, but I thought we were bound to fail at some point or another. I thought our desire for revenge would waver at some point and that would allow it to be worn down, transformed, and faded. And that is almost certainly what would have happened if I had been thrown out into the world all on my own with nothing but this wheelchair to work with. In fact, I may not have been able to take the very first step. There is no way I could have attempted anything as impressive as eradicating the Problem Solvers who rule this world.”

“…”

“But it’s strange.” The Student Council President in just a dress shirt seemed to be smiling, but he was too close to see her expression clearly. “People I can call partners gathered around someone as weak as me and coincidence stacked on top of coincidence to allow us to survive this long. My desire for revenge never faded and I really am working toward eradicating the Problem Solvers. ‘In a time of need, we only need to work together.’ Hee hee. When I said that at the school assembly, I never imagined it would come to mean something like this. At the time, we had found a blanket and cooler stuffed into the empty space below the heliport and we were trying to figure out who had gone to the misguided effort of setting up such a perfect slacking-off spot with both shade and a nice breeze.”

So.

Did that mean…

“Sorry,” said Karuta. “If we hadn’t run across you, you might not have been led astray like this.”

“Now you are just being overly self-conscious. Just like I could not have done anything on my own, I doubt the rest of you could have made it this far without me. You would have been defeated at some point or you would have failed to take the first step and stewed in your own hesitation. Don’t you think?”

“Maybe so.”

“Also, I doubt we could have lived a normal life even if we never started down the path of revenge. Like I said, we would have stewed in our own hesitation. Especially me since I have plenty I can use as an excuse. I may have ended up living a life where I blamed these legs any time I failed or gave up on something and where I worked to inspire sympathy in everyone around me.”

Karuta had no right to decide which was the better path for her.

She had to live her own life.

That was all there was to it.

A change occurred on the laptop screen. The scrolling alphanumeric text came to a stop and a new window opened instead. It showed a human-readable list of files.

“And here we have another coincidence to add to the stack,” said the Student Council President in only a dress shirt. She sounded partially excited and partially disappointed. “Now we should find some clues and leads. It seems our path of revenge has not come to an end quite yet.”

Part 4

The Problem Solvers were the world’s strongest. They were the one clear method of fighting back against the Threat that was shaking international society. That meant great fortune naturally gathered around them along with plenty of assets, property, and real estate.

Finding their hideout or base was not as simple as finding the house in a residential district they had taken out a loan to purchase. They had nearly 2000 properties registered in their names around the world.

Twintails Marika breathed an exasperated sigh in the RV.

“This isn’t going to narrow anything down at all.”

“In fact, it makes them feel like international businessmen who are so constantly moving around the world that they don’t even think of things in terms of having a home or nationality,” said Karuta. “It’s more like they simply borrow some space in a mansion or luxury apartment wherever they happen to be at the time.”

“But can you see any strange activity among all that?” asked Student Council President Omotesandou Kyouka while using the projector’s remote to display their list of data distributed as dots across a map. “It seems they have completely given up on guarding the space elevator and are flying around the world with their activities scheduled out to the second. Really, all five of them working together like for the elevator was a rarity and it looks like they generally work alone.”

“But they’re the center of the global infrastructure, right?” asked Marika. “Then can’t we lie in wait at those facilities?”

The Student Council President’s answer was simple.

“How many seats do you think they have in the five continents excluding Antarctica? They might each specialize in one continent, but their influence extends to the entire world. And each of those locations are so heavily guarded that making a careless approach would be enough to wear us down. And I am talking about the large armies of ‘ordinary people’ who gather around profit. Individuals like us who have no real backing can’t hope to stand up to something like that.”

“…”

“Ugh,” groaned Marika.

Kyouka laughed.

“Do not worry. There is a loophole. It looks like they have a tendency of returning to a specific location after completing a few jobs. It is not a stop on the way to their next destination and this is something they have done for a while and continue to do now.”

“Where is it?”

“Finland. The very country we are hiding in now.”

It was an Arctic world outside.

Looking through the frosted windows showed thick snow and a lake covered in ice. It was hard to believe they had been taking classes in a sweaty equatorial region not long ago.

“This is most likely their true hideout or base. Whenever something happens, they gather here and hold a secret discussion amongst themselves. They do not need to worry about the paparazzi, leaks to social media, or laser listening devices here, so this is where they reach a consensus. If they do not want anyone overhearing their conversation, I imagine they will hold it here. This is much more useful than that space elevator they have already abandoned.”

The five Problem Solvers had already been reduced to two. Having more than half of them killed was sure to have shaken even the world’s strongest. Their presence at the usual elevator would stand out too much. They wanted to escape the rush of government officials and media reporters so they could let out the feelings building in their guts and plan a comeback as soon as possible, so there was a good chance they would be here.

“If we happen across them here, we get what we want,” said Karuta. “And if they aren’t here, that’s convenient too. We know they visit here frequently, so we can set up a bomb or sabotage the gas line or something. Then we just have to watch from a distance and wait for someone to show up.”

“Also, I found some personal information on the remaining members. Only the smallest piece, though,” added the Student Council President. “The remaining two are named Susannia Evans and Anastasia Blast.”

“That’s all?” After waiting for more and receiving only silence, Marika voiced her disappointment. “Um, isn’t there something about the God-Worshiping Magic they use or records of their past battles?”

“I said it was only the smallest piece, didn’t I?” Kyouka did not sound any more pleased about it. “I get the feeling they knew the details of each other’s magic so well they did not bother keeping any records on it. Maybe it’s like how you don’t bother typing out your own phone number into your address book.”

“Th-then forget how they fight. What about their field of infrastructure? We might be able to figure something out about their magic from that.”

Marika dug in her heels because she wanted any information she could get, but the Student Council President sighed.

“Susannia controls largescale agriculture. She apparently helps establish food bases and holds back the spreading of the deserts. It is said her presence in the business world is felt strongest in Africa, but she is working to increase the greenery in all five continents save Antarctica. Since there is no guarantee she will be in Africa, it is fortunate that we could narrow things down to Finland. On the other hand, it is unclear what role exactly she plays in the largescale agriculture. Civilian satellites have only shown extremely large mechanized farms. Is she controlling the plants, controlling the machines, or controlling the moisture or weather?”

Karuta had heard of this too.

With uniform largescale farms covering most of the world’s grain-producing regions, individual regional brands were dying out. Specialized farms that produced things like French grapes, American beef, German potatoes, or Japanese rice worked to create the best possible version of their products through selective breeding and genetic modification and, once their flavor and nutrition reached acceptable levels, those genetics were incorporated into the grain-producing region farms that spread to the horizons in order to earn vast fortunes. It was sort of like a buried treasure tour where you were given a vague map of where to dig.

The food Karuta’s group ate every day was soaked with the sweat and tears of their friends’ killer.

And her flesh and blood were baring their fangs.

“Um, then what about Anastasia?” asked Marika.

“The military.”

Marika had been hoping for a more pleasant answer, but this was an even greater bombshell.

“Anastasia Blast is most strongly associated with North America and, unlike the other four, she is directly involved in managing the military infrastructure. But it is unclear what exactly that entails. Is she providing the necessary intelligence and firepower for the troops on the battlefield, is she transporting personnel or materiel, or is she developing or producing new weapons? In fact, what does it even mean to control the military on a global level? If she holds a central position that surpasses the interests of individual nations, then how does the world even function?”

None of this provided any answers.

Even intellectual Omotesandou Kyouka was reduced to questioning her own information.

Karuta summed it up for them.

“So in the end, we’re going in blind.”

“I did find photos of them.”

The Student Council President used the projector remote to display two photos on the wall.

The redheaded woman with a long braid was Susannia Evans.

The blonde woman with wavy hair was Anastasia Blast.

This part alone looked something like the resumes sent in to a modeling agency. Did they have natural good looks, had they spent a lot of money to that end, or was it both? And no matter how beautiful they were, they were undoubtedly two of the world’s strongest five.

These monsters were powerful enough to stand alongside the dinosaur, light spear, and giant sword women.

But it was fortunate to have photos.

At the very least, they would not foolishly attack the wrong person. They did not want to start a direct confrontation if they could help it, so it meant a lot that they could start fighting without having to call out to them and confirm their identity first.

On the other hand, that was all this gave them.

Even with extensive planning beforehand, they had only just barely won out in their previous battles. The tragedy on that sunken ship had hinted at what to do. But things were different now. They had no idea what Susannia and Anastasia could do.

When first seeing that dinosaur, Karuta had not known what to do and ended up crawling among the broken crystal statues. He had been unable to prevent the 700 students and teachers from being trapped in a nearly eternal sleep.

They were up against something on that same level here.

And they had to win the first time.

It would be just like that initial hell.

It would be a repeat of that nightmare.

They were essentially throwing themselves back into that colorful world of trauma they had never wanted to experience again.

“We have to survive this,” said Utagai Karuta.

They were avengers, so this was an odd thing to say. They were supposed to be the ones who snuck up and killed their opponents in their sleep.

But this was how he saw it.

“Aine, Marika, Omotesandou-san. It all comes down to this, so let’s pull through.”

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Between the Lines 3

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