Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume4 Chapter3
Chapter 3: Envisioning and Reality
Early morning the next day, Layfon went to the alchemy building for the new Dite that Harley had made for him.
"That kind of damage is so......exaggerated," Harley said with wide eyes at Layfon's Dite. He was spreading jam on a piece of bread.
"Beautifully broken into pieces."
Layfon's sword was in its restored form. The level of damage made it unable to turn back into a hand held Dite. On Harley's table was the handle of Layfon's Dite. The broken parts were like brittle stones, so fragile that a touch of a finger was enough to send the remaining pieces scattering down.
"It's not possible to repair this. It'll be faster if I just make a new one."
"Got it. I should have it done quickly with the data left from last time. I'll take care of the admin procedures too."
"Sorry about that."
"No problem. I'm responsible for maintenance in the 17th platoon. Besides, I have some admin registration things to do for the Dites too......Geez, that Kirik's totally useless in this area, so I have to do everything," Harley shrugged and suddenly clapped his hands together.
"Can we do the adjustments for that now?"
"Can we? Kirik-san's not here."
"No problem, no problem. I'm doing the final adjustments anyway. Besides, we don't know when he'll show up," he said as he went into the research room and took out a Dite from one of the drawers.
Layfon took the Dite and felt its heavy weight in his hand. It seemed to be extremely dense, perhaps three times denser than a normal Dite.
"While removing the cartridge slots, we were able to make it much more dense that it previously was. However, the loss of separation means the Dite has now lost several of its combinations. Also, that has created a weakness. You can use different types of Kei, so it might be a bit troublesome. As for the shape, the Dite's recorded different appearances. Theoretically, you should be able change the Dite according to different uses."
"But it might not work as well in reality."
Layfon spoke the key word and restored the Dite. Only one setting was made.
"We originally wanted to make two settings. The advantage of an Adamantium Dite with its combined alloys is its variety in shapes and quality, but we didn't have time to make that setting when manufacturing the simple version. When the final product came out, it wasn't possible to turn it back."
"It's all right, since I still have the Sapphire Dite."
He didn't have to use the steel threads in platoon matches, so it didn't matter that the Adamantium Dite didn't have that setting. Also, Harley and his colleagues were researching on another model to be used against filth monsters. Layfon had no need to ask them to add the steel threads setting in at all.
"Give it a try."
Under Harley's urging, Layfon allowed his Kei to pour into the Adamantium Dite. The Dite turned slightly hot in his hand and its shape changed in a split second.
The new shape made Layfon widen his eyes.
"Yes," Harley said, cocking his head. "Kirik made it that way."
"......Could you change it?"
"Impossible," came an impatient voice from behind Layfon. Layfon had already sensed the newcomer before the voice reached him and before Harley noticed. He turned around.
"It's because this shape suits you more," the handsome man sitting in the wheelchair said, glaring at Layfon in irritation.
"Kirik, how rare to see you here so early," Harley said.
"I came to see him so that this thing could be used to its fullest potential," he pushed his wheelchair through the mess in the room.
"According to classification, both a sword and a katana are the same, but a huge difference exists between their usage. A sword is used to slash then cut, and a katana is used to cut then let its enemy fall apart. Both are used to cut, but the movement of the wielder differs. Your movement is first to cut, which causes the object to fall apart. The model before was made like that of a katana, but the blade was still a sword's. This time it's different. We made it so it could cut perfectly," he said while watching the Adamantium Dite. "I've included my family's secret data on many famous katana in this Dite. Usually, you won't see a second Dite with power as high as the first, but this is close enough. It's the best tool to help you become the strongest. Are you still unsatisfied with this?"
"I didn't mean that......"
Layfon couldn't answer him.
"You stand at a level that all Military Artists want to reach, but you're not willing to use your full strength. Even I get irritated at that."
Noise came from Kirik's wheelchair. Layfon looked at him and realized the noise originated from Kirik's tightening grip on the handles of the wheelchair. He noticed something else. Although there wasn't much, Kei existed in Kirik's body. The flow was clumsy and slow in a muddy color. His flow of Kei was unusual, but it didn't look fatal. It might have something to do with his legs. Because of his legs, the Kei flow became less smooth, or perhaps it was the other way around, that the unusual flow of Kei had disabled his legs.........Layfon didn't want to ask about it. Kirik himself probably wouldn't answer anyway, but......he could tell that Kirik regretted it a lot.
"You probably don't have to use your full strength in this place, but why are you like that too when you fight filth monsters? Are you saying they aren't opponents worth your time?"
Layfon was in a life and death situation when he fought the matured filth monster. He didn't plan to not use everything he had. But......
"......Why do you refuse to use a katana?"
"Yes, you ARE refusing." Kirik said, as if he would jump up at Layfon's weak protest. "You choose to fight with a sword, but your true self has the impression of a katana. Doesn't that mean you're refusing the katana? What else can explain it?"
"Although I'm interested in why you aren't using a katana......"
Haia, the leader of Salinvan Mercenary Gang, raised under Layfon's adopted father's brother in the same martial arts school as Layfon, had said that last night. His fighting power matched that of a mercenary leader who had had lots of experience accumulated from countless battles.
A katana. He used a katana that was the same as the one Derek Psyharden used. His movements were the same, using Fleeting Shadow to attack with high speed, a move that Derek took pride in. Although Layfon wasn't willing, his memories of Grendan surfaced one by one. His true self fought with a katana. His weapon was originally a katana. He trained with a wooden katana.
It was the beginning of Layfon as a Military Artist.
"What is it?"
Looking around in confusion to confirm his location, he ran across Nina. It was the road to the Military Arts training complex. He was heading over there after leaving Harley's research lab.
"Ah, ah......no, nothing," surprised at the close distance between them. He took a step back, but Nina didn't.
"Are you not feeling well because of yesterday? Or do you have a fever?" she pulled him over with a worried expression and felt his forehead with her hand.
"It's ok. It's really ok," Layfon said, feeling the coolness from Nina's hand and took another step back.
"Um, doesn't feel like you have a fever. Then what were you thinking?"
"No, nothing much......"
"Really. Don't you find it strange that I was this close to you but you didn't notice?"
It seemed like today was the day when his opinions wouldn't be accepted. No, if he were to think closely, were his words even believable?
It was a bit sad. Well, Nina had been able to discern the truth from the lies ever since she was little.
"Then what're you worrying about today?"
They ended up having lunch together in the training room of the 17th platoon. They had bought bento at a convenience store and had some drinks from the locker room of the training complex.
"Don't say that."
"I don't believe you."
"As I said......"
"Spill it honestly."
She totally ignored his protests. Looking troubled, Layfon dug into his lunch. As long as his mouth was full, it was all right to not answer even if he heard her question. On the other hand, Nina had a good education, so she hated chatting while eating. Yesterday she had a terrible expression when Sharnid and Harley were talking and eating at the same time.
"......Leave lunch for a while. I will make you speak the truth," she said in a low voice as he continued to eat.
(Please God, send someone now. Anyone.) He could only pray. But that "anyone" could only be Felli, Sharnid or Harley. Felli and Sharnid were always late. He couldn't imagine them heading over straight after lunch. Harley was the last one left, but he'd probably be late too as he was making Layfon a new Dite.
(.........No other way.)
If that was the way it was, he had no choice but to spill the beans. This time, Nina was very forceful. He understood her that much from his accumulated experience. In order to reach her goal, she would do everything she could for it.
"Why do you want to know so much?" He asked after swallowing.
"What? Isn't it natural........."
For some reason, she said so after shifting her position so there was some distance between them. "Because you're my subordinate."
A predictable answer. In the face of such an answer, Layfon couldn't find any reasons to resist her.
But she looked strange today. Having said what she wanted, Nina turned her face to the side as if she had sealed her mouth.
".........Did you steal that bento?"
"Of course not, stupid."
She was mad.
They continued to eat like that with their backs facing each other. She'd probably ask him again when they finished eating. Thinking of that, he planned to chew slowly, but the food wasn't enough for a young man in his growing stage. He ended up finishing the bento quickly.
Nina was almost finished with her lunch.
He dragged out the time to finish his juice as much as possible, praying for someone to open the door to the training room.
When Nina was about to speak, the door opened.
"You're already here? Good."
Behind Formed Garen was Naruki, who walked in with an annoyed expression.
"You two look to be in a good mood. May I?"
"Uh, no problem," Nina nodded.
"I don't want to waste time either. I'll cut to the chase," Formed said and looked at Naruki. Naruki still wore the expression of someone who wasn't satisfied with something.
"Ah~ Before that, I want to say I'll accept the captain's request."
That request must be Nina's previous request to the City Police to allow Naruki to enter the 17th platoon.
"Huh? Really?" Nina said.
Nina's reaction was slower. Surprised, Layfon looked at Formed and Naruki for confirmation. Nina didn't look convinced either. On top of that, Naruki's expression showed that it wasn't her idea in the first place.
"But there's a condition."
"I'm not accepting all your conditions. I'm sorry, but she won't officially enter the platoon. Besides, she herself doesn't want to."
".........Although it's true that we need her, if she doesn't want to, she'll only lower the team's fighting strength," Nina said frankly. Speaking about wanting to, Nina was number one in the entire team.
"Yeah, I understand. But if you listen to my request, I'm sure she'll feel better about it. Besides, you can dismiss her if she doesn't have what it takes, and we can pretend we haven't had this conversation. What do you think?"
"Isn't that natural? Listen, infiltration is part of a police officer's work. If it isn't done properly, it'll be life-threatening. Perhaps this kind of dangerous work won't be needed in an Academy City, but if you plan to work in the police force after leaving this city, this is a very good training opportunity. If you're to infiltrate an organization, then you must first know your purpose. Be more spirited. If you can't do this, then you fail."
Naruki lowered her head. She was like a big sister in front of Meishen and Mifi, but now she was being rebuked like a little kid. Layfon found that unexpected.
"......Well, back to the topic," Formed said to Nina.
"What is it?"
"Ah, first, it's about yesterday. Layfon, thanks for your help."
"But he escaped......" Layfon lowered his head.
"That can't be helped. Besides, we already reached our original purpose. We caught the fake students and suppressed the circulation of their goods." Formed went on to explain yesterday's operation to Nina.
"Illegal drugs......Does that mean what you came here for has something to do with that?" Nina said, suddenly very serious.
Formed nodded. "Yes."
"This is ridiculous. How would a platoon member have anything to do......"
"Can't imagine? Even if it's to do with the current situation Zuellni is in?"
"If we lose the mine we're using right now, Zuellni's finished. This year's Military Arts Competition is decisive. Many students in the platoons love this school deeply. If they feel the heavy burden of Zuellni's fate, then it wouldn't be strange for them to be associated with this, right?"
Layfon understood Formed's words. Illegal drugs......The drugs that increased the flow of Kei were perfect for this kind of use.
"......This is just speculation."
Nina didn't agree with him.
"Yes, it's just my speculation. Perhaps Military Arts students with bad marks want it. Perhaps some fools exist who think the side-effects of the drug won't appear for them. Regardless, this is all speculation, but I'm willing to bet on it since the possibility of it happening is so high."
".........Do you have any clues of platoon members participating in illegal drug dealing?"
"......We've obtained a firm clue while checking the paths of imports. Goods that come in by roaming buses cannot possibly escape our investigation, but that's only limited to legal trade goods. Checks are more lax on private things in small numbers. Fake student IDs can get past a human eye, but not a computer. The illegal drug dealing can only be made through a real student's address. Mail is sent to real students, then the fake IDs are taken to where the fake students gather. We've been checking all personal mails and mailing records for a year, and we've been double checking everything. The six people who are on the records the most......" he sighed and paused. "I've already said too much. I can't do anything else if you decide not to accept us. Naruki entering the 17th platoon is to help with the investigation. I hope you can keep quiet about it and cooperate with us."
"Are you sure? Do you need to consider it......"
"No need. Since you have clues, we'll help out."
"What would you do if they take illegal drugs because they want to protect this city?" Formed tossed out the doubt to Nina's answer. "If they do it out of protecting the city, what would you do? It's illegal, but it's a choice made to resolve the crisis. What if they do it because there is no other way? Zuellni is at its end. They plan to sacrifice themselves to save the city. What would you do?"
Why was Formed pushing Nina? He'd have probably asked Layfon the same questions. Layfon didn't understand why.
He spaced out a bit, and came to some understanding. Formed was eliminating later problems by raising them now. Layfon didn't know what he himself would do. He looked at Nina. How would she answer?
"......To sacrifice oneself in order to save something. It sounds good but it's just being selfish. It's just facing difficulties and choosing the easy way out. I'm determined to protect everything in this city. I don't want to sacrifice anyone. I'll protect everything, including myself."
No matter when it was, she could always say something this strong to pierce Layfon.
"......I've never heard such willful words," Formed shook his head, at ease.
"But I've never heard something that reassuring. Well, I'm leaving it all to you."
Nina and Formed shook hands.
"OK, they are......"
"......Six people. I said so. Five of them are......"
He wrote the names with his finger. Nina's face stiffened.
"Their mail all came from the same city, but they themselves aren't from that city. It's the home city of the sixth person. About this sixth person's name..."
Layfon vaguely remembered the name. Probably a platoon member. That was it.
Nina should have understood the truth when she heard the name. Then why......
He thought for a moment and finally recalled which platoon this person belonged to. Layfon's expression now matched Nina's. The tenth platoon.
The face of a bald young man surfaced in Layfon's mind.
The sound breathing during sleep hovered in his ears. In a way, it was the same as an interrogation.
"Geez......" Sighing and tired, Gorneo was on the way back to his dormitory. The time was after platoon training and dinner.
Naturally, Shante sat on his shoulders. She was fast asleep, her chin leaning on his head. Gorneo worried about whether she might fall off. Having spent a lot of her strength in training, she just ate afterward and slept. Although he had been with her since he started first year here, she was still like a beast and a kid.
"Really......" he sighed again and entered the dormitory. He walked past his room.
Shante's room was next to his. He pressed the doorbell and passed Shante to her roommate, who was from Shante's home city. Gorneo returned to his room.
He felt the unusual atmosphere the moment he opened the door.
He opened the door slowly but didn't switch on the light. He brought out the card-shaped Dite from his coat pocket, and inserted it into his wristband so he could restore it at any time.
"Who is it?" He asked, increasing his internal Kei in readiness for a fight.
"......Well, you pass. I was hoping you'd have noticed before you opened the door," a voice came from inside the room.
"I said, who are you?"
The light was switched on. Carefully, Gorneo walked deeper into the room and saw a young man sitting on the sofa. The small table before the man was littered with fast food wrappers. He was drinking juice and reading a magazine. A strange tattoo decorated the left side of his face.
"This is my room," Gorneo said.
The young man's attitude wasn't hostile, but it wasn't enough of a reason for Gorneo to relax. He watched the young man stand up...... Haia.
"And the female hiding in the kitchen. Come out," he said.
"Come out," Haia said, and a young woman walked out of the kitchen's shadow. Golden hair framing a slender body, she was about the same age as Haia. A pair of big glasses sat on the small bridge of her nose. She held a huge bow. It shrank back into a small Dite after she canceled the restoration.
"Myunfa, your Kei isn't up to standards," Haia said to the young woman.
"If you can't hide your presence, you'll have trouble as an archer, so I've been giving you more practice like trailing a target and such."
"Uh, uh, uh, I can't do that kind of thing," she shook her head.
"We just need to find a guy you like. You could follow him and observe him for a whole day, as well as train yourself. Isn't that like shooting two birds with one stone?"
"That......That kind of thing......" She shook her head fiercely with her face all red.
"......Just who are you people? Are you here just for this show?"
"Yeah~ Would we be happier if we came just for this show? But we'll have to get serious now. My name is Haia Salinvan Laia."
Anyone from Grendan would have noticed Haia's second name. Gorneo's alertness increased.
"From the Salinvan Guidance Mercenary Gang?"
"I'm the third Head. This is Myunfa, my first Military Arts student."
"P, pleased to meet you."
"Um......" Gorneo returned the nicety and swung his gaze back to Haia.
"......What's the Guidance Mercenary Gang doing in an Academy City? Has the Student President hired you?"
"That side too~ Speaking of which, isn't that better? Yeah, I'm regretting a little. Never mind, I'll leave that for later."
Haia's more relaxed tone was confusing for Gorneo.
"I didn't come here for business. I hope you can cooperate with me. Since Wolfstein Alseif doesn't know anything about it, I've come to seek your help."
"Cooperation? Or is there something else......?"
"What I want is your help in intelligence. The people living in the city know it best. Of course. Well then, about the information......I'll let you in if you have something useful. How does that sound? Since you're the second son of the Luckens family, I thought it wouldn't be strange if you knew of it. Actually, it is part of the Mercenary Gang's secret history."
"......Could it be......"
"Oh, you do know."
"Could it be real......? Haikizoku," Gorneo watched Haia in disbelief. The time Gorneo heard of this term was when his older brother became a Heaven's Blade successor. He heard of it in a conversation between his grandfather and his older brother.
"It's a crazy power nurtured from a destroyed city......"
That was what his grandfather said. The Salinvan Guidance Mercenary Gang left the city in order to search for this power.
"I thought it was just a legend......"
"If it really was a legend, then the first generation Head didn't have to work so hard."
"So it does exist?"
"What a deep doubt. But it isn't in Zuellni, it's in the ruined city next to here. We've searched that city already, but didn't find anything, so we came over here."
"In that city......" Gorneo fell into his memories. "......Now that you mention it, I think the Psychokinesist of the 17th platoon said she found something."
At that time, the Psychokinesist of the 5th platoon didn't find anything, but Layfon's 17th platoon might have. But if that really was the Haikizoku......
"The twisted Electronic Fairy of a dead city......I never thought it was real."
"Can't help it if it is real, but even I only half believe it. I want to find one and have a look, but I can't find it."
"Well.........Leader," Myunfa raised her hand.
"What is it?"
"Um......It's the 17th platoon, isn't it? Its Psychokinesist, right? How about we ask for her help? Fermaus only knows the general direction, but he can't come here......"
"That's a good suggestion. Well then, Gorneo, who is that Psychokinesist?"
"Felli Loss, the younger sister of the Student President."
"The Student President......meaning the leader of this city, right?"
"Then it's simple, isn't it?" Haia laughed, and after that, he obtained various kinds of information on Zuellni from Gorneo.
On that day, they continued training in the fundamentals as usual after introducing Naruki to the other three team members. Other than that, Nina announced the cancellation of the training camp that they had planned for tomorrow and the day after. Naruki tripped and fell numerous times in the balance training with the balls scattered on the floor. Under Layfon's advice, she finally managed to walk faster than a normal pace around the room after two hours of training. Afterward, they had combat training on the balls between members divided into two teams. Naruki somehow managed to control her movements after falling countless times. When Nina ended training, Naruki was covered in sweat, unable to move on the floor.
"Are you all right?"
Everyone had gone to the shower room. Only Layfon came to deliver an energy juice to her.
".........Do you do this everyday?"
"Today's training is more relaxing already."
They didn't even do the ball-hitting training. In fact, today's training wasn't intense, but it wasn't useless. Training in the fundamentals was extremely important, especially now since they had a match coming soon. Rather than memorizing new moves, it was more practical to get the fundamentals right.
"This is hard," Naruki said as she drank. She wiped her mouth. This level of difficulty made her feel down. Her reason here was to observe the 10th platoon and obtain evidence of their use of the illegal wine.
"Now I fully understand why Layton is so strong. I'm totally exhausted, but you haven't sweated one single drop."
"But you're not trying to become a platoon member, right?"
"......Yeah, but I'm a Military Artist. I'm in the City Police, but I haven't given up the mission of a Military Artist. Besides, sometimes I might have to handle a violent case. Physical strength is still necessary," she regulated her breathing and sighed deeply.
"It's meaningful to come here. I can become stronger. If it's a reason for Military Artists, the reason is enough for me to be here. I understand being weak is a sad thing for a Military Artist. But I can't fully accept this. I'm not really sure how to express myself clearly."
Although he wasn't too sure on this, he knew.
"I'm the same as you, becoming strong without explicitly wanting to, though I had a reason to become strong, so I've been struggling for that. But since I arrived here, I've lost my reason to keep trying, and this period of time is troublesome."
He wanted to be stronger so he could earn money and feed the children in the orphanage. His wish went out of control without him knowing, wanting to feed all the orphans in Grendan.........Although it turned out that way, it was still a simple reason that sustained him.
"But isn't Layton still here?"
"Layton's here because of certain reasons. You're here, doing your best. Aren't you struggling more compared to when you first started?"
"True. That thing in Grendan's already sorted out."
".........I'm not sure, but you feel strange today," she cocked her head to look at him. "Is something wrong?"
"Um, not really."
"That's not an answer free of worry, Layton."
"Yeah, well, it's OK."
"You're worried. What is it? Can you tell me about it?"
"It's not really something to be worried about, but it's just a feeling I can't turn around......? It's like that. I haven't yet sorted it out."
A heaviness came from his weapon harness hanging around his waist. Two Dites hung from it. One was Harley's newly adjusted Sapphire Dite, the other was Kirik's Shim Adamantium Dite - a shape known as the Katana.
".........The way you said it, isn't it just a worry?"
"If that isn't something you're worrying about, then there's nothing we'd call 'worry.'"
Perhaps it was a worry for him, but how should he resolve it......considering it like that made it feel like something else.
He was unwilling to handle a katana. If possible, he didn't want to give in. Kirik said this would make him the strongest. Becoming the strongest was critical to a Military Artist. It was the power needed to protect the city. Of course it was natural. If you didn't become strong, you couldn't protect anything. He fully understood that.
He also knew that strength alone couldn't protect anything.
He could imagine Kirik's agitation and frustration, a Military Artist with a damaged body who couldn't do anything. But Layfon couldn't fully comprehend his situation because his body was in good condition.
In Kirik's eyes, Layfon was probably just an existence for him to let out his frustration on. That in itself was troubling for Layfon, but it could also be that it was Kirik's sincerest wish, the remnants of Kirik's wish to become strong to guide Layfon onto the correct path of a Military Artist.
And on the path that Kirik's made for him was the road sign of the Shim Adamantium Dite. Kirik asked "Why don't you walk the correct path?"
There was an answer to this question. Yes, there was an answer to it. Why didn't he walk that path? But who would accept that answer if he said it? Or maybe someone would accept it. Kirik had asked that question because he accepted it.
He didn't want to hear it.
"Sorry for making you wait," Harley's vibrant voice filled the training room. Earlier, he had greeted Naruki, handed back Layfon's two Dites and returned to his lab. Now he was back.
"What is it?"
"What's what? Now that we have a new member, isn't it natural for me to show myself more?" Harley gestured. He was holding a textbook on weapon maintenance.
"Naruki's weapon needs to be prepared."
"Ah......No, I can use this......"
Harley looked at the Dite in Naruki's hand and shook his head.
"That's for the City Police. A City Police weapon isn't suitable for a platoon match."
"It's fine, it's fine. I can make whatever you want. Come."
Eyes sparkling, he grabbed Naruki's hand and dragged her to the research lab.
"What do you want it to be like? A shortstick type? In that case, Nina's type might be more advantageous. Ah, come to think of it, what's this around your waist? A rope? Hmm—a capture and detainment skill, is it? How interesting."
Like a tsunami, Harley's questions seemingly cut down all opposition from Naruki and she was pulled outside. She looked at Layfon pleadingly, but he replied with a "take good care of yourself" expression.
Naruki was gone, leaving Layfon alone in the room, but even without her, he couldn't ignore the case that Formed had left for them.
"Then I'll have to do this," he said and used Kei to eliminate his presence.
She knew when Naruki was introduced to the team.
"Looks like someone's kidnapped him."
After a shower, Felli walked out of the training complex alone. She didn't get to walk with Layfon today. Since it was useless to wait for him, she decided to leave.
She had thought of why Layfon had left......but she knew by just looking at him. He was always in combat with his true feelings. Even without him saying anything, she could tell by his expression that he was hiding something. To tell the truth, she wasn't that interested. Wasn't interested, because she didn't want to get involved......But she got frustrated.
Originally she planned to search with the flakes, but she gave up. She had confidence that Nina and Naruki could not detect her flakes, but not with Layfon. She wasn't sure whether she might be found out under normal circumstances, but if Layfon was in battle condition, he would definitely discover her flakes. Layfon's senses were incredible, as if he could sense everything around him.
What would happen if he found Felli's flakes......
It'd have been good if he just prepared for battle......
Leaving the training complex with these thoughts in mind, she headed for the tram station. Not that many people were here since the training complex was built in an isolated area. Many Military Artists preferred to run back home, not allowing their bodies to cool down after training. Nina and Sharnid were the same. Layfon tended to take the tram when he was with Felli, but if he were alone, he'd probably have run back like all the others.
Psychokinesists of other platoons tended not to ride the tram either. Although they couldn't use Kei to strengthen their bodies, a lot of them preferred to train their physical side to combat the effects of tension on their bodies during a platoon match.
Although the tram didn't go all the way to Felli's place, she still decided to ride it. She was probably the only person who rode the tram on a daily basis. Many students moved to other areas for work, study and entertainment.
Hence, Felli felt something wrong when she saw someone at the station. The figure sitting on the only chair under the roof stood out vividly with his red hair. Felli didn't recognize him. It wasn't a problem to wear casual clothes outside class time, but it was unusual to change into casual clothes and come back here. A Dite hung from his waist. That was against the school rule. Very few students were given special permission to carry a Dite in their private time, and even so, that was restricted to certain times and locations.
Whether this rule was taken seriously was another question, but a student wouldn't be carrying a Dite so blatantly like this guy.
The feeling wasn't very strong, but the atmosphere was definitely not the same. It was better not to get any closer to him before the tram arrived. No, she'd let him board it first, and she'd wait for the next tram. Either way, a tram was always empty at this hour. She didn't want to ride in a sealed off tram with him.
It felt unnatural to just stand here, so she decided to just turn around and head back to the training complex. All the while, a thought floated in her mind that this was a good reason for her to check on Layfon.
"Are you Felli Loss?"
Somehow, he was standing behind her without her noticing.
Felli jumped forward and turned around, snatching the Dite from her weapon harness. Restoration. A staff with petal-like scales appeared in her hand.
"Hey, hey, wait up. I didn't do anything."
The young man raised his hands to show he wasn't hostile. His Dite remained in his weapon harness. Even so, Felli scattered the flakes and kept her distance from him. She had instinctively taken this measure.
He was a young man with a strange tattoo on his left face, Haia Salinvan Laia.
"We can't talk when you're so far away."
"I can hear over here. You should be able to hear me too."
Haia wasn't surprised at Felli's voice in his ear. One of the flakes hovered before him.
"This flake contains Psychokinetic explosives. It can cause an explosion and I'm not kidding," she didn't think one explosive could match this Military Artist's speed, so when she put some distance between them, she had scattered a few Psychokinetic explosives around.
"You do think ahead. If not now, I'd really want you to join me."
"Well, what is it?"
"Whoa......Looks like you're the difficult type."
"I don't want to be the type you like."
A tram had come to a stop on the track behind Haia. Someone exited after the door opened.
"Felli!" Karian called.
"Ah, finally here," Haia put out his chest and went to Karian. A girl with glasses that Felli didn't know walked beside him.
"I was troubled that you left first."
"Because I didn't think the talk would end so quickly. Speaking of which, your sister is troublesome, like a cat with a temper."
"Can't judge a person by their looks," Karian concluded.
".........Just, who are these people?"
While demanding an explanation, Felli decided to refuse what Karian was going to say next. It must be something that she wasn't willing to do.
Having hidden his presence through Kei, Layfon sat on the roof above the entrance to the training complex, letting the hours pass.
(Well, what do I do.........)
The 10th platoon seemed to still be in training. Layfon could see their faces if he opened the door, but he'd be discovered, so he strained his ears, hoping to catch Dinn's voice. If Dinn left the room, Layfon would tail him.
He couldn't think of a better way.
What Formed wanted was the location of where Dinn hid the illegal drugs, or some convincing evidence of his taking them.
(Just how I do look for that kind of thing?)
Go into Dinn's room? But thievery probably wouldn't constitute as evidence.
(It would have been easy if all I needed was to go into his room.)
Although he couldn't open a door lock with a needle like a professional thief, it wouldn't be difficult for him to hide his presence through Kei and use his sword to cut open the lock. Then he'd search for evidence.......... But, if he couldn't find anything, Dinn'd be more watchful.
If only Naruki was here... but that didn't seem possible for today.
Well then, he'd do some observation work.
Could he do this? Doubt surfaced. It wasn't hard to use Kei for a prolonged period. He could keep this up for an entire day while tailing someone, but what he was worried about was whether this was effective at all. Although Dinn hadn't yet done anything, he probably wouldn't do anything that Layfon expected. Layfon silently planned his possible moves.
No matter what, he couldn't go in and expose the truth like the police. While Layfon was thinking of other ways, Dinn emerged from the building.
(I can only take this way then.)
Same as before, Dinn was with his team members. There were seven people altogether, the full number of people in the 10th platoon. The last person looked to be the Psychokinesist. Layfon could tell by the way he walked. People who trained with weapons had a special way of moving.
It wasn't strange for a student to shave his head, but to even pull out the roots, now that was unusual. Slightly behind Dinn, walking adjacent to him was a beautiful girl that Layfon hadn't seen before.
(Is she the vice captain?)
That must be Dalshena Che Matelna. Rather than describing her as a beautiful adult woman, it was more appropriate to say she had the air of a beautifully crafted statue.
The two of them led on, with the five others following behind.
Layfon was about to jump down from the roof but he suddenly stopped. He saw someone trailing the platoon.
It was Nina. She didn't say anything after training, and had headed straight for a shower. He didn't think she'd take any action today, but.........She was masking her presence with internal Kei. It wasn't as well done as Layfon's, and it couldn't be compared to Sharnid's, whose presence just simply melted into the air, but she did manage to eliminate her presence.
(At this rate, she'll be exposed.)
From his experience with her in the past, he knew it was useless stopping her now, and if he went up to her to talk her out of it, he'd end up exposing both of them before Dinn.
(I'll keep it the way it is then.)
Having confirmed some distance between them, Layfon jumped down from the roof.
What should he do......?
Dinn and his team didn't head for the tram. It seemed they were planning to walk back to town. Nina trailed Dinn and Layfon followed behind. Layfon found this situation delicate, and he didn't plan to destroy this balance. Either way, he judged this situation to be disadvantageous.
(If Naruki were here......)
But Harley had Naruki. Assuming the fact that Harley didn't know anything, he wouldn't let Naruki go so easily. Wondering whether he was doing something that would put his audience into a speechless stupor, Layfon continued to move after the group.
It seemed Dinn and his team were making casual conversation while walking: who had been rejected by whom, who had a new girlfriend, laughter mixed in with the chat. This was normal. It even happened in the 17th platoon sometimes, and the 10th platoon didn't seem to intend to do anything different soon.
The one who acted the bad character like Nina was Dinn.
Layfon found that unexpectedly surprising. He thought the Vice Captain Dalshena would have played that role. The atmosphere she exuded was similar to Nina's, and they were both refined in a way. Beautiful and elegant......... that type of a feeling. To the team members' jokes, she'd reply with a firm attitude.
For some reason, this atmosphere felt similar to Sharnid.
Dinn Dee. Dalshena Che Matelna. Sharnid Elipton. That was the combination in the 10th platoon that had held the strength to threaten the 1st platoon.
Layfon recalled Nina's horrible expression when she heard Dinn's name from Formed. Why was she so surprised and agitated? Maybe Sharnid......that might be the answer. No matter what had happened, the truth that Sharnid had left the 10th platoon would never change. But what had happened between the deep trust of those three people? Layfon didn't know.
What would Sharnid do if he knew about the illegal drug dealing? That guy who was flippant all day long – if he knew......
(Ah, I see......)
That was probably what Nina was worried about.
The 10th platoon finally showed signs of dispersing. First it was one person, then the next parted with the team, probably because their dormitories lay in different locations. Finally, Dalshena also left, leaving Dinn alone.
Nina didn't hesitate and continued to trail Dinn. Layfon followed behind them. Formed said Dinn must be the main culprit. His home city was Kelnes, the city specializing in medical herbs. It was one of the few cities to date that hadn't banned the production of illegal wine. Dinn was the only person who would know the ways to import the drug.
Layfon thought Dinn would head back to his dormitory......As Dinn walked on his own, something else moved.
It was Nina.
She suddenly removed her disguise and called out, causing Layfon to panic. He was too late to stop her. Dinn turned around and Layfon managed to maintain his Kei around himself to conceal his presence.
"Nina Antalk? What does the 17th platoon want with me?"
Dinn's attitude wasn't friendly. It was close to hatred.
"I have to talk to you."
"I don't want to talk to you though. Don't think what you have to say has any value."
"It's very important," she said, as he planned to turn away from her. "Don't take illegal drugs again."
"......What did you say?" he stopped in his tracks and watched her.
"The City Police are watching you. They're looking for evidence. You can still make it if you stop now."
"Don't speak as if you know everything. You don't even have proof and you've already decided I'm in the wrong?"
"It'll be too late if proof is found," she said with anxiety.
Dinn's expression remained cool and cold.
Under these circumstances, to be branded as a criminal, wouldn't he be angry? But not Dinn. Was this enough to show that he really was involved in illegal drug trade?
No, compared to that......
Why was Nina doing this? She had made him put up his guard.
No.........Things weren't like that at all.
(Looking at this, as if......)
She was trying to make Dinn come to his senses.
"......Stop. What are you saying?"
"You're damaging your body. Why are you still taking such dangerous things? If it continues, doesn't that mean you won't be able to protect anything?"
"This is for the sake of protecting the city. To win against the 1st platoon. To win a match and get the highest accumulated score. This is significant for authority. If I have neither authority nor reputation when the Military Arts Competition begins, my plan will be useless. That can't happen. That won't win anything. I'm using my way to protect this city. You should understand. We're both strategists in our teams. For the sake of the next Military Arts Competition, don't you think so too?"
"Of course I've thought of it. I did, but I thought I'll support the plan that will truly win the Military Arts Competition."
"Only the result in battles can support a plan. A plan without that is not believable. You're naive."
"No, it's not. Calm and observant insight is needed to find a possible strategy. What we're looking for now are those two things. You can only increase your own power through continuous training. Only through continuous diligence and effort can you have enough confidence to give commands. How can you prove you're right by escaping reality through illegal drugs?"
"You're the one who shattered my dreams. Your way is truly low!" Dinn shouted. Nina held her breath.
"You took away Sharnid with despicable means, and now you're acting all kind and wonderful."
"No, I didn't......take him away......"
"What can your words do now? If you want to give the police this information, then fine. I'm doing everything to realize my dreams. Only I can protect this city. Tell Sharnid that I'll fulfill that oath even without him."
Dinn turned around. Nina didn't prevent him from leaving.
Layfon had no way of following him, so he stayed where he was and quietly watched Nina's back.