Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume20 Regarding the Cat Soaring on the Moon

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Regarding the Cat Soaring to the Moon[edit]

He would always pass by her during the night.

While Formed and Karian were returning home from the City Police department, they would patrol the nearby area. Considering Formed's position, he didn't have any need to do so, but he still felt that if he didn't do that, he wouldn't be himself. Before he realized, his route would deviate from the road home and onto the patrol route. As that kind of thing went on, he gradually felt that maybe he was just like that, so he resigned himself and turned those actions into a habit.

He would pass by her while on his patrol.

Moreover, it was on fixed days of the week. Even if there were deviations because of business with work, she would still be there to pass by Formed, as if she deliberately coordinated with his schedule.

Passing by.

It was just that.

Though it was just that, it still made Formed feel curious. Whether this was his intuition as a policeman, or a simple mistake, or dictated by some emotions between males and females, Formed found it hard to judge.

It could also be said that he was only curious about it because he found it hard to judge.

"After all, I'm really bad about one of those aspects."

After murmuring this, he made a wry smile.

When he met someone for the first time, the other person would definitely believe Formed to be an older person. He wasn't tall either, but his head was large, so his body proportions weren't good.

Formed also had a gut feeling that he wouldn't be attractive to girls.

But, if one were to say that he only worked hard on his job and schoolwork because he was like this, then it would be a double insult, and he believed that wasn't the truth. No no no, even that thought was...... No no, it wasn't like that...... No no no...... After thinking like that, a difficult dilemma suddenly emerged for him to think about.

Thinking about those two things separately was much easier to do. He only mixed those things up because he was still young...... Did he have those kinds of thoughts because his mental age had already caught up to his appearance......?

Another mental labyrinth formed, so Formed banished those thoughts from his brain.

Even if he were like that, there were also people who showed interest. There was one girl who was strange like that. That happy feeling made him unable to keep from wanting to tilt his head and show a puzzled expression.

"I'm being conceited."

When he thought of the girl he passed by, a speculation about male-female sentiment unexpectedly emerged - that kind of thing was a form of conceit in the first place. He had gotten carried away because there was a girl who seemed to express interest. This didn't mean that he was an attractive man, just that the girl was strange.

Formed brought those thoughts to his own attention, warning himself. Then, what was this feeling after all? He tried thinking about it again.

Who was the girl he passed by? To Formed who had held an office in the City Police Department for a long time, investigating that matter wasn't difficult. In his career, Formed had gotten very good at remembering people's faces, and he could investigate the city's records.

After setting the first-years as his target of investigation, the answer showed itself quickly.

She was Vati Len, a first-year general studies student, and even her address was quickly found. Though the place Vati lived in was strange, it was very understandable once he thought about the fact that she was a first-year. Not knowing anything about this city, and being tricked by the cheap rent to rent a room in a strange place - every year, there were many students who regretted because of this. It wouldn't be strange if she had made such a mistake.

After knowing her residence, he could determine the areas she frequented.

Then - Formed began thinking, and a map spread out in his mind.

With Formed and Vati's activities as a prerequisite, he began thinking of possibilities why she passed by him every week. If he put his mind to investigating, Formed could quickly find out where Vati worked, but he believed that it wouldn't be too far from her nearby areas. Because people wouldn't move here and there for no reason.

"Then......"

This time, he quietly spoke out loud.

This was a possibility.

Though he was curious about what she was doing at night, the place Vati and Formed passed by each other was still within her nearby area.

Then, was he just thinking too much?

"You're thinking too much."

When he was eating lunch, a classmate of his that he hadn't met in a long time made that comment. Both of them had many things to do to prepare for graduation, so their opportunities to chat had clearly decreased a lot.

One could even say that the reason Formed honestly told this classmate he didn't see much about this matter was mostly because he long since expected him to say this.

"You think so?"

He truly was just overestimating himself, huh - Formed laughed bitterly at that inside his heart while replying.

"Is there any other possibility?"

After being asked this, an embarrassed smile emerged on Formed's face. The two of them were incredibly busy to prepare for graduation, and they didn't have time to fantasize to the ends of the earth. It was because of this that the other person cut him down mercilessly instead of the spreading the topic towards love. Hey, aren't you tired of this - His classmate, who hadn't stopped eating, asked him this with his eyes.

In addition, Formed, who had expected to be told this, said:

"Ah...... That's probably right."

"It's definitely like that. In addition - Hey, once we graduate, we won't even be living in the same city. Though I'm just saying."

"Yeah."

"How much longer are you going to do your City Police work?"

"Nn?"

"Agriculture student and Policeman, I can't tell at all which road you want to walk, because you're impressive at both."

"Really?"

"Yeah. But, you're almost going to have to adjust your direction again."

"I know."

Though he said this, Formed actually didn't really know whether he truly realized.

In order to broaden his knowledge as a researcher, Formed had left his city of birth.

However, before he realized it, he noticed that he had gotten hooked on his job as a policeman. Since things had become like that, maybe one side wouldn't go smoothly, or both would fail together. But Formed's luck wasn't bad, so he had succeeded in both simultaneously.

He also felt that he had done pretty well.

But because of this, the current Formed had trouble deciding what kind of person he would become when he returned to his home city.

Would he pursue becoming a researcher like he had wanted at the start?

Or would he choose what he had found in the Academy City - the road of a policeman......

Perhaps his classmate who was about to graduate and who also had no choice but to prepare could see Formed's internal strife.

"It's fine."

Those words just sounded like a casual remark.

After eating lunch, the two of then quickly parted, because both were very busy. His classmate gulped down the drink in his cup as if he were washing his throat, and then left the area. After watching the other person leave, Formed also forgot about the conversation just now with a wry smile. He focused on finishing his lunch, changing his thinking to the tasks he would have to finish today.

After that, Formed didn't think of her for a long while. Not only was he busy with dealing with the research reports he would have to deliver before his graduation, his City Police work was also very busy. Though Formed was no longer burdened with onsite work, he still had to deal with many things directly in order to communicate clearly with his successors. Also, Formed was still left in this position, so he still had to deal with normal business.

Formed's degree of business was enough to make him forget about Vati, but it was very easy for him to think of her again.

He hadn't stopped the patrols that had become a habit.

When it came to that day, that night, he naturally ran into her again.

"Uh......"

Since he had completely forgotten about this matter, Formed who was patrolling like usual before returning home made a sound.

Before him was a girl walking his way.

It was Vati Len.

She was a girl with a transparent beauty.

It could be said that she seemed like a doll.

Vati walked over, her white face filled with tranquility as if it were melded with the night.

No, Formed, who was walking the other way as Vati, would just pass by without saying a thing.

That was it.

Formed had originally thought of lowering his gaze, but he suddenly changed his mind and looked upwards. If he looked down, then his vision would become poor, and he had to avoid that kind of situation from happening since he was on patrol. Though looking upwards was the same, his feelings about that were different. Looking upwards while walking and looking at the ground while walking were different.

Those two actions weren't the same - thinking this, he walked forwards.

Fortunately, the moon was out tonight, so Formed could pretend he was looking at the moon.

The moon was very large, and it hung there very clearly, as if it were an object floating in the clear black sky. Formed had a kind of feeling as if the crisp sounds drifting from the sky were washing off his dirtied heart.

Originally, Formed had just believed that if he didn't look at her, he wouldn't need to think about unnecessary things, but he hadn't thought that it would let him see this scene. He walked on, thinking that he had seen something good.

A black shadow flitted lightly across the edge of his vision.

Something was moving.

No, it was a disturbance.

That disturbance sent Formed's mind into disarray, and provoked him into focusing his senses.

It made him feel like there was something here.

However, in reality, there was nothing around.

After that, Formed investigated. Because he was unable to ignore what he had seen and treat it as if he had been oversensitive.

Vati Len didn't have anything suspicious around her. Though he felt that she was a bit strange, he still believed that she was very serious, and no strange rumors had been spread about her.

Formed judged that she was just that kind of person.

Vati didn't have anything about her that a City Policeman had to take note of.

Then, what was Formed concerned about after all?

What had disturbed his heart?

He hadn't looked at Vati, but something had made him feel concerned about her? After becoming aware of his mistake, Formed moved his gaze with a mood of wanting to click his tongue.

......Just then, the sound of footsteps disappeared.

Because his consciousness had returned to reality and he had noticed that the surroundings were completely silent, Formed stopped his footsteps as well.

After turning his head backwards, he was surprised.

Vati was looking towards him.

Formed almost jumped in surprise, and his breath even stopped. From his current state, it already counted as very good that he hadn't let out a sound. He unconsciously kept walking and maintained a steady pace, but almost fell over.

As a result, Formed tripped where he was and caught himself clumsily. But, even if Formed showed that awkwardness in front of her, Vati still didn't say anything.

She looked over without moving at all.

No, Formed noticed that she was looking at the sky, just like he had been just now.

Was she looking at the moon?

At this point, it wouldn't be strange for Formed to hurriedly leave the scene, but he still felt very curious about Vati. What was she looking at?

It was the moon. Though his brain thought so, his feelings of still wanting to confirm the truth made Formed take action.

He followed her gaze and looked towards the sky.

As expected, there was the moon.

In addition, there were trees.

Had those been there since the beginning? The trees that grew from the sides of the roads reached their branches out towards the road. Those tree branches became another decoration of the moonlight night.

No, there was another decoration.

Moreover, Vati might be looking at that decoration.

It was a cat.

With the moon as a backdrop, there was a cat standing on a tree branch there, forcing it to bend to its limits.

This cat had three eyes.



The object on the cat's forehead wasn't an eye, but a gem that gave off an intriguing color.

It was a black cat, but the fur that grew near the gem was white, and it depicted a pattern with a wild air.

The cat whose back faced the moon simply seemed as if it had descended from the dark night.

"You're......"

Vati who gazed upwards muttered this.

After muttering this, she noticed that the man in front of her had stopped moving. His attention hadn't been attracted by something.

Vati noticed that he was gradually moving with a speed far, far slower than her own.

"How does it feel to experience communications at the speed of light?"

A voice filled with a mischievous air didn't pass through her ears, but rather sounded directly in her mind. Vati looked at the black cat again.

"It's even faster than I can react, which means that you're no longer a human."

"Oh my, you even saw me as a human?"

"It was just a possibility."

"I see."

What kind of expression was the person deep inside that cat showing? Vati noticed that her mind was preoccupied by questions she had never thought about until now.

"In any case, what are you planning by coming this close to humankind?"

As if touching upon Vati's heart, the black cat's question poked at a sensitive area.

"Do I have a reason to explain to you?"

"You don't."

"Then, why do you risk appearing here?"

Vati asked this, but she believed that she already knew the answer.

When she speculated about the actions of this person, she could definitely conclude that her motives were curious.

What were her reasons for appearing in the Academy City in this critical juncture? She had to have a reason - Vati thought this, and that could probably be said to be a natural response.

After all, Vati hadn't hesitated to temporarily postpone her mission as Lævateinn, and she was in this kind of place collecting unnecessary information.

"Because I believe that as long as I don't do anything, you won't take any action against me. Ah, it's also the childish attitude of playing around, like 'how close can I get?'."

"So you thought you could communicate with me today?"

"Correct, that's right."

"That's absurd."

Vati tried shaking her head, but couldn't make that movement. Right now, the two of them were using the speed of light to exchange information. Vati increased the level of her senses to the speed of the conversation, but if she also increased the speed at which her body moved, what kind of outcome would be produced?

Doing that would make her movement ability unable to keep up with the speed of light and would lead to problems.

More importantly, doing that would bring some kind of harm to the man besides her.

"It's something very important to me, and at the same time it's something that I have no reason to let others understand. Isn't the answer you're searching for also like that?"

"............"

Vati tried testing her physical responses during the lightspeed communication. That reflexive action was exactly the same as a human's. If she had a mind to eliminate it, Vati could easily eliminate that reaction, but she had deliberately chose this option.

"You're truly very interesting."

The black cat's voice sounded like she was making fun of Vati's reaction.

"I really had a hard time understanding why you want such a thing."

The cat's eyes flashed with light. Its gaze shifted to the man in front of Vati.

"In that case, you'll give up on the thing that I want."

"Correct, we'll become beings that cannot understand each other."

"Non-intersecting parallel lines."

"Is that an attitude of giving up, realizing that the two sides will be unable to understand each other?"

"Isn't that a fact?"

"Well, humans really like using the phrase 'you can understand each other as long as you communicate'."

"It's possible that things can be resolved with discussion. But, that method is not suitable for everything."

"Oh?"

"What is it?"

"No, it was just that when I thought 'that's right' in my heart, I suddenly felt amused."

Her voice was laughing.

"That's how it is. Really, I'm almost jealous of you. No, this kind of feeling is definitely jealousy. I never would have thought there was something I still couldn't give up on. Also, I never would have thought you would know about that kind of thing."

The black cat stayed where it was.

But, the voice that entered her mind seemed like it was laughing, but at the same time seemed like it was angry. Though it sounded like it was a laugh from the heart, it was like she was using that laugh to ignore a boiling anger spilling forth, and relying on this to hide the emotion in her heart.

Erumi[1]'s intense tone shot out at the speed of light.

The cat that behaved normally, and the laughter expressing mysterious emotions. Though the two objects weren't in sync, they were the same thing.

This fact seemed confusing.

Vati felt puzzled at the intriguing feeling of acknowledging that disconnect.

This cat was just a tool she used to communication tool she used, and wasn't her real body.

However? Was that really the truth?

It had been so in the past.

But, that didn't guarantee anything about the present.

This person who had lived for a time far surpassing a normal person couldn't be a human just from a biological perspective. In that case, it couldn't be guaranteed that she still had a human form, and similarly there was no guarantee that this cat was still existing in the form of a communication tool.

In that case, was this cat the real body?

But, the cat's actions weren't coordinated with her voice, and it wasn't affected by her emotions.

It just dexterously sat on the tree branch, with the moon at its back.

"......What is your goal?"

"World peace."

"That can't be it, you alchemists......"

"What are the alchemists you know about? The name of a group? Or the group that we originated from?"

"Of course I mean your group."

"In that case, you're definitely mistaken. Because there are problems with your sample size."

"You mean I'm wrong?"

"Regardless of what the facts are, that response of yours implies a lot of interesting meanings."

"............"

"Do you know the truth?"

"............"

"The master you serve should be one of the people belonging to that alchemist group, right? If I recall, he's called Soho? That person that Airen knows. It seems like there's some strange relationship between them, related to your outer appearance."

"............"

"When he created you, there were no alchemists other than me. I have nothing to do with your creation, so there's no way you know what alchemists are."

"............"

"Other than him."

"......There is only one master I serve."

Vati said this, stopping the black cat that was trying to voice her conclusion.

"Regardless of what you do, regardless of what you say, that fact will not change."

"......Is that so? Could he continue existing like you said just now, even in the long time you spend hiding in that space?"

The black cat didn't stop speaking.

"There's no meaning in the flesh, just the mind and the spirit. Can that master of yours who only has his flesh in the same condition after staying in that space that I maintain still count as your master?"

"Then let me ask you a question. What is this so-called mind?"

"Nn?"

"It is composed of just memories and experience, right? If there is an experience which forces the mind to undergo a large-scale change, then that person himself will also change, right?"

If a problem happened with A, then deal with it using B. If a concave problem happened, respond with convexity. The so-called mind or personality was just formed by accumulated experiences and learning that were continuously repeated starting from the youth - everyone had a solution set that recorded how to resolve problems. That was what Vati thought.

If a large change happened in the world that these solutions could not handle, then it wouldn't be strange to take up a pen and rewrite that person's solution set.

People were beings that could change. Hadn't it been humans itself who described themselves in that manner?

However......

"I see, all of the problems troubling you can be grouped in that category. It's an extremely ordinary problem, and an eternal question."

After all, what were people's hearts anyway, and what were the so-called personalities?

The floating clouds made the moonlight become weaker, and the cat's body became hazy.

The black cat was slowly engulfed in darkness, and only the two eyes and the gem on its forehead gave off light to prove their existence.

It really seemed like it had three eyes.

The three eyes gazed at Vati. They elicited the doubts in Vati's heart, and commented on those problems.

"Regarding that question, I think the Zero Territory will let you experience an unreserved, explicit answer. But, yes, that's true...... maybe that answer is just reflection brought about by accumulation of experience, and it's disguising the truth, so you have no way of completely denying this answer. Even if I I tell you that what you're chasing after is and answer in the gaps between reality, it only sounds like rhetoric."

That was true.

The Zero Territory space would forcefully expose the human thoughts outside of this world, and uncover the desires hidden in the depths of human consciousness, making them into reality. The uncovered human desires were always irrational, and would quickly lead to self-ruin.

However, irrational desires were always motives for action.

Humans were beings that would chase after things that they definitely couldn't obtain as they lived. People lived like that, and everyone did that, whether they noticed this fact or not.

The Zero Territory would expose those desires, making humans self-conscious, and turning them to despair. In that area where flesh had no meaning, it would materialize whatever contradiction was at the root of the person's desire, and take away their life for it.

However, there were also people who didn't die.

Even if the contradictions of their own desires were before them, if they didn't fear, they didn't falter, they didn't dread, and greedily pursued their desires.

The people who could do this kind of thing could obtain strength in the Zero Territory, and take form. The world Vati had originally existed in had called these kinds of people abnormals, and Vati was a weapon that had been created to get rid of these abnormals.

A nano-celluloid autonomous weapon that relied on the substance that could give form to the Zero Territory, and at the same kind was the source of the abnormals' strength - Aurora Particles - as energy in order to impair the abnormals' strength - that was Vati.

Vati's original mission was to eliminate the two abnormals who had created and who maintained the moving cities that wandered this deserted world - Airen and Saya.

Her mission definitely wasn't to observe the humans of this world.

Liberating Vati's master from this world was also related to her duty of eliminating those two abnormals.

Liberating her master who had willed that decision was quite important to Vati as a Nano-celluloid interface.

However, Vati still hadn't executed that mission yet.

"Can you get the answer by doing that?"

"Regardless of whether I can obtain the answer, the end will not change."

"You won't bring personal relationships into your work? This situation that entwines you and I was originally formed by a personal relationship right?"

"Are you saying there are other things that I can do? No, you are not my master, so I can't listen to your orders."

"Meaning that the fact that you're a machine will not change?"

"Yes."

"Even if that's the final key to release you from the shackles of being a machine?"

"Yes."

"Even if you clearly know that you have almost no effect on what you're chasing after - the functionality of a human being? Using the humans that you know as a benchmark, the humans here are already unsatisfactory for your requirements. But, you're still chasing after humans in this place."

"............"

"Even like that, you still won't change your rules?"

"I won't change them."

"Why?"

"Humans live as humans from the very beginning, and their functions are about the same. I am a machine. Just like how an insect will be an insect until the end, and a flower will be a flower until the end, I as a machine will exist on as a machine."

"Meaning that you can define humans without physical means?"

"No, I am just describing the birth of a fixed representation conferred at the moment an organism is born."

"......You're really stubborn - that's a fact that will be hard to change."

"Do you understand?"

"Nn, I understand something, which is that discussing with you has no meaning."

"Then......"

"Nn, goodbye."

If the other party planned on continuing the conversation, Vati had thought of eliminating it. Maybe she had seen through Vati's actions, or she was similar to Vati to some degree. She had carried out a malicious game just for her own curiosity.

That was a so-called alchemist.

People whose abilities and techniques ran amok according to their desires.

"Hey, your very first master belonged to the group of alchemists, but your current master was only called an alchemist. You know that fact. Just using that theory of changing experiences, you can't explain that difference, right?"

"Shut up!"

Regi20 217.jpg

The words naturally ran through Vati's chest, barreled through her throat, and then shot out from her mouth.

Vati didn't know what had happened to herself.

She hadn't retaliated against the black cat who continued to give off malice and who had crossed the line...... That hadn't happened, but if she did, she wouldn't have to yell.

And other than her throat, she hadn't taken any action against the black cat.

Vati couldn't do anything, as if there were problems in her acting systems. It felt like her voice had been wrung out of her throat, but this hadn't actually happened in reality. The thoughts that shot out at the speed of light hadn't slowed down to form words at the speed of sound, but had been released directly at lightspeed.

Her body only tried to get close to the black cat.

But, her body didn't move following Vati's wishes. It passed by the tree that the black cat sat on, and moved in front of the man beside her.

"Uwah!"

In front of Vati, the short man was looking over with a surprised expression. Vati ignored his incredulous reaction, turning her head to look at the tree she had just passed.

When her head rose and she looked upwards, the black cat had already disappeared.



When had he gotten dazed......

"Uwah!"

Before he realized it, Formed inadvertently let out a cry.

At some time, Vati Len's face had drawn close before him. Her beautiful expressionless face came close, close as if she wanted to press her face against his.

Her face suddenly appearing in front of him undoubtedly gave Formed a big surprise, but this wasn't the only reason he cried out.

Vati who looked expressionless seemed like her eyes, cheeks, and mouth were pulled slightly taut.

No, he couldn't see through that subtle expression that moment relying only on the moonlight.

In that moment, something was released form her expressionless face - some similar thought made Formed have that kind of thought, and also made him cry out.

A thought - had he truly just felt an emotion filled with feeling? Once he came to his senses, the answer became ambiguous. Maybe he had just been surprised by Vati suddenly appearing before him.

But in that moment, her deadpan face seemed to hold some intense emotion completely different from that expression. Moreover, the weight of that emotion firmly lodged itself in Formed's memories.

"......S......Sorry."

Even if Formed had cried out, she still didn't mind, but just stood before him.

As if he hadn't cried out, she moved her gaze from him, and turned back around to look at the tree.

The awkward atmosphere made Formed also look over there.

The moon that seemed to loom heavily over the night still floated there, as before. Though some floating wisps of cloud had weakened the moonlight, it still didn't change that scene.

The tree illuminated by the moonlight was still there. The tree branches were black in the darkness, as if only their shadows had been captured.

It looked as if cracks had appeared on the moon.

"Ah......"

Formed thought of it.

The cat wasn't there.

He had passed by Vati, and when he noticed that the sound of footsteps had disappeared and turned around, she had been looking at the moon with her head raised. She was definitely looking at the cat sitting on the tree.

That cat was no longer there.

No, since the moment he had noticed the cat, it seemed that not much time had passed, and even if he had been in a daze, not much time could possibly have passed.

Then, was the thing about a cat sitting on a tree branch just a figment of his imagination?

In that case, was Vati currently raising her head to look at the sky in order to search for something?

"There's no cat......?"

Formed couldn't judge from her position whether Vati was looking at the moon or the tree. A question naturally dropped from his mouth.

Vati who looked at the moon without moving a muscle swayed her arms slightly, and then turned around to look at Formed.

What was there was probably the usual her.

Formed didn't know her usual appearance. But as the information he had looked up on her indicated, this should be her normal expression.

Because on the register stored in the Student Council, there was a photo attached with the exact same expression.

"I've acted shamefully."

"Ah, no......"

The sudden apology made Formed feel confused.

What reason did she have to apologize? The cat had disappeared. It might have disappeared. That was all that had happened.

"The cat escaped. Is it a cat that senpai recognizes?"

"Uh, no, it's not like that. Right, it escaped."

When had it escaped? Had he not seen it? Had it escaped while he was in a daze? It seemed to be a single black cat, so maybe it had blended into the color of the night and he hadn't noticed.

He could understand if he thought about it this way.

"Really?"

The feeling that his pondering was interrupted made Formed feel very uncomfortable. Things were just like that. The fact that the cat wasn't here didn't have any significance, and Formed didn't need to concern himself with that matter.

Why was she next to Formed?

She had just been in another direction raising her head to look at the cat sitting on the tree, but in the next moment she had come right in front of Formed.

If she were a Military Artist, then she could possibly make that movement. Since there hadn't been any sound, maybe that meant she was an expert.

Vati Len should be a normal person. Had she lied about her skills? No, if a Military Artist didn't want to use his strength as a Military Artist, they could stay as a normal general studies student. Just like Layfon Alseif had been a general studies student at the start, that kind of action was permitted.

In that case, did it mean she was that kind of person?

But, if it were like that, why had she hidden her Military Arts ability and stayed in general studies? Formed began caring about that question.

Perhaps the disturbance Formed felt was intuition he had sensed as a policeman - he wanted to consider that possibility.

What was Vati Len's story?

"............"

Had his look revealed his thoughts?

Vati looked at Formed. A tension assaulted him, as if his chest were being stabbed.

Formed seemed to feel scared by her expressionless face. Was this something frightening about her? Because she was expressionless, he was unable to see through her thoughts. Because he was unable to see through her thoughts, he thought that he might have been seen through? Her expressionless face made Formed feel that kind of uncomfortable sensation.

Formed didn't have any evidence at all, and it wasn't even a fact that any crime had happened. The dangerous air he felt from Vati's body was just a hunch, and he couldn't arrest anyone just relying on that hunch.

Just by standing in front of her, his feelings were on the edge of losing control. Maybe that was also an effect of that expressionless face.

Vati opened her mouth.

Formed secretly prepared his heart, as if worrying that something would fly out of her mouth.

"Then, I have something I would like to ask senpai."

"Nn......?"

"Senpai, are you studying Agriculture?"

"Uh, yeah...... Do you recognize me?"

"Because senpai is very famous. Senpai also works at the City Police, right?"

"Uh, I see."

Indeed, perhaps there were many people who knew Formed from stories about his police work. Even if a first-year student recognized him, it wasn't that strange

"Then, you wanted to ask me a question?"

"Yes."

Suddenly, in this kind of place...... This abnormal situation added to the disturbance he felt in his heart, making Formed raise his alertness.

"......Has Senpai ever performed genetic engineering to create new livestock?"

"Nn? Ah, I have done such a thing."

What Agriculture students did was research how to create an environment that could help manage livestock efficiently, or create livestock suitable for the city's environment.

Formed had done such things. In the six years he had been here, he had created many new lives.

"The lives you create couldn't be exactly the same as you thought every time, right?"

"Ah, that-"

It was indeed true.

Even now, Formed had areas he wasn't skilled at. Sometimes he would be unable to reach his expected target such as making the livestock suited to the environment, or simply a problem of the taste of the products when the livestock was turned into edible meat.

"That's happened before."

Recalling his memories of failure wasn't a happy thing. Formed's tone when he replied naturally became heavier.

"At the time, how did Senpai handle those lives?"

"Nn?"

"Did senpai dispose of the failed lives?"

"......I would."

Vati was still expressionless. Formed didn't know what kinds of feelings she had raised that question with. For the most part, she could be feeling disgust, and there were also people that said lives shouldn't be treated so casually.

In the moving city, that was how survival was - Regardless of whether one had noticed that fact or noticed but was unable to accept it, either way the people who felt this way wouldn't disappear.

However, survival meant eating, and eating meant killing. This was irrelevant to the animals or plants that were killed, because both sides undoubtedly lived their life to extend prolong their species.

Moreover, the humans that survived in the moving city had to create edible lives that were suited to the city's environment, as well as maintain their lives.

The city didn't have any useless space...... No animal existed that was unrelated to any other life or human.

"If it had another use, sometimes I would send it somewhere else. But for the most part they died."

After making that remark, Formed looked at Vati.

"So?"

Formed didn't make a sound, but his eyes asked a question.

So? What are you thinking after asking that kind of thing?

Or, was she troubled over her own path?

Thinking about this from the most appropriate angle, that was the case. Formed was also like this. Formed had come to the Academy City in order to expand his knowledge as a researcher. He hadn't planned on becoming a policeman.

However, it was a trivial matter that had made him become a policeman.

Can you go on like this - He had frequently heard the people around him saying this.

However, he succeeded in doing it. Not only that, he had also felt that something about the City Police job was worth the effort.

But, he was unable to keep following both roads forever.

Formed was currently at a fork in the road.

Vati before him might also be in that kind of situation. Maybe she had also come to the Academy City for some goal, but noticed something new here.

Maybe it was because the new thing she had noticed was Agriculture, so she had raised that question after noticing Formed.

"Why do you ask that question?"

"When you dispose of lives that didn't reach expectations, do you feel anything?"

"............"

Was Vati also one who felt disgusted at taking lives of animals? Thinking of this, Formed couldn't help but have a disappointed feeling. Was it unrelated to choosing a path or anything like that, and just venting her disgust on Formed who had appeared before her - was she just that kind of person?

"I do feel bad. But, I don't plan on letting that feeling stop myself. Because I believe that the sin of wasting lives can only be atoned for after reaching my goals."

"Using lives as stepping stones?"

"I don't know how I'll be thought about for it, and maybe I'll be hated. But, I can't do anything about that matter."

Yes, he couldn't do anything.

"My City Police job is also like that. Even if I catch the criminal, the ones who have been harmed by the criminal or the objects that are destroyed never get returned to normal. In that kind of situation, what can the police do for the victim? Nothing at all. Catching the criminal might keep other victims from being harmed. But, things that are lost won't return."

In that situation, maybe sadness, hate, or anger would be birthed in the victim's heart - facing those negative emotions, what could the police do?

"I can't do anything at all. All the police can give is an opportunity to end things. Arresting the criminal is just wrapping things up. That is all the victim can think, and take it as an opportunity to move forward."

The important part was moving forward.

"Are the failed lives that you disposed of also victims?"

"......Maybe. However, that's a gray area of ethics that society can't swallow. Regardless of whether you make legal reprisals for the victim or meaninglessly slaughter many lives, that's the same."

Regardless of the choice, there would be people who would explain with logic, but it was unable to make people agree emotionally.

"I see......"

Vati muttered this, and her tone didn't have an atmosphere of contempt for Formed's logic. Then, how did she view this matter? Formed couldn't judge Vati's emotions from her expressionless face.

Formed could only look at her, feeling puzzled.

"Thank you senpai, your words were extremely valuable."

"Oh, uh......"

Vati thanked him, but Formed still felt confused.

"Can you solve your uncertainty like this?"

"I don't know. But, I learned something that I would like to know."

"Really?"

Formed couldn't understand the meaning.

"Thank you, senpai."

Vati thanked him once again, and then turned around and left. Formed didn't have any reason to remain here. Gazing at Vati's back and watching her leave, Formed scratched his head and also set foot towards home.

The feeling of a disturbance still lingered in his heart.

"Ah, this is fine."

In the end, there were no signs at all that that feeling was the harbinger of any crimes.

Maybe it was just a figment of his imagination. Maybe it was just because he had been very troubled by things recently, so he had made some kind of mistake.

Forme didn't know what Vati had obtained from his response. However, the answer she had gotten from that question was definitely one that a student should have obtained. Studying, getting lost, and finding a path. Students repeated that process.

"I should also be choosing a side soon."

Formed walked while murmuring to himself. Did he want to become a policeman or a researcher? Though he could do both when he was a student, in the world of adults he probably wouldn't be able to.

"......What should I do?"

Not asking it of anyone in particular, Formed scratched his head while moving forward.

Other than this, one other thing emerged in his brain.

The expression Vati had showed at that time when she had come in front of Formed still lingered in his mind.

She seemed expressionless but also not expressionless. A subtle change had appeared in her expression, and some kind of sentiment had been released.

As he walked, Formed had a thought - Maybe she was crying at the time.

"......How could that be."

Behind that expressionless face, was Vati unable to express her emotions? Was she chasing after a way to express her emotions, rather than a path for herself?

"Am I thinking too much?"

He couldn't connect that emotionless expression which had almost broken but at the same time hadn't broken with the question she had asked of Formed.

Formed looked at the sky. The moon was so close, but right now it was blocked by the clouds and almost couldn't be seen.

"Ah, even so, I'll have to decide someday."

It was almost time to stop patrolling - Formed began thinking about this as he gazed at the moon.


Translator's Notes and References[edit]

  1. The name of the person speaking through the cat.
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