Hidan no Aria:Volume6 Chapter1
1st Ammo: Manhunt
--The Dragunov Sniper Rifle
A slender body design, with a great aesthetic design.
It is very light, and it far surpasses other sniper rifles.
Also, its durability and reliability are not bad, and it is one of the world-class sniper rifles.
"Wa, wait. Wait a moment."
The Dragunov sniper rifle is entirely different than the sniper rifles which only have shooting as an advantage.
In a hostile environment it won't receive damage, it can continuously shoot through the semi-automatic function, and also, attached to the muzzle, there's a bayonet, making it usable as a pike......it's a terrifying 'warzone' sniper rifle.
"Why are you unhappy......Reki!"
That muzzle, for now, was pointing directly at me.
The one holding the rifle was the Snipe division's genius, Reki.
She is someone who has the potential of a genius, the S-ranked butei in the same grade as me.
"——You and Aria, cannot be together."
Her voice completely toneless, Reki replied the same way as before.
Behind her, there was a bit of Tokyo's chilly night view, with tonight's moonlight blooming with radiance.
I was stirred up by the sight of that scene with a feeling of uneasiness......
After she spoke those weird words, I was slightly blushing.
Just then, Aria and me——
After cleaning the Inquesta building, we were on this roof. Under the sunset. Just two of us.
Looking like this, maybe it looked like a scene of a pair of intimate man and woman who loves each other.
But, why did Reki, who seemed to have seen us two do that kind of thing, draw her gun!?
"Don't......don't say rubbish. The relationship between Aria and me isn't that kind. It should be just the opposite, just then we were saying......that, from now on......we will be separated. Us two."
"Were you talking about breaking up?"
"What, what do you mean by 'breaking up'?"
"If it's like this, then it is even better. Because Kinji-san, can be my husband without being bothered."
That, that point.
Only that point.
The weirdest thing would be that point.
After chasing Aria away from here, Reki is now pointing her rifle at me......
(And actually, proposed to me!)
"Reki, you, why are you talking about 'marriage'......!"
Also, from the beginning, I have the disease that is called Hysteria Mode in my body. I must live far away from women.
That you, actually say 'marriage'. What the heck is that!
"——If it's like this, Kinji-san can become 'Ulus'."
"It means 'family'" (T/L note: Ulus is in Mongolian.)
Impossible. This is becoming harder and harder to understand.
I'm just about to cry.
"Well, that...after marriage, the man and woman become family. ......But I already have my brother, it's more than enough for me. If you want to have someone you can call family, you can find some other person to take care of you. What do you think?"
I said that, trying to evade it.
" 'The wind says, that it's you' "
Reki, said that with her previous hard tone.
" 'The wind says, that it can only be you' "
——That tone, seemed to have an inexplicably strong confidence.
Her pupils, which looked like lenses, were glaring at me as if she wanted to pierce through me with that gaze.
It is really transparent, the sniper rifle's scope.
(......What the heck is that......!)
This Reki, is different from the usual Reki.
This girl's nickname is 'Robot Reki'. She's always a wordless, emotionless, expressionless girl. But despite that, the Reki as of now is making me feel some inexplicable intensity, as if I'm her target.
——As if, she has received some kind of order.
"Lis-listen to me. Reki."
I wanted to move my body out of her line of fire, stepping back a bit as if it was nothing.
"Your actions are far too contradictory. Since you want me to be part of the family, why are you pointing your gun at me? Put that down, and let's talk about this calmly. Alright?"
"Denied. Men and women should not talk to each other--"
And doing the opposite of my suggestion, Reki shifted the gun with the slightest movement possible, pointing it at me while saying:
"--but steal each other."
Men and women should steal each other.
So, that's how Reki views boy-girl relationships. Well, if one had to talk about whether it was right or not, one couldn't say that it's completely wrong.
But, isn't that a really wrong way of looking at things?
I berated Reki in my heart, and in my line of sight...
A leaf-brown cloth rode the wind, fluttering down.
Fluttering precisely within my reach, it was the jacket that I had taken off earlier so I could clean.
I looked up at the direction that it had flown from--and there, standing on the air-conditioning unit precisely one level above the ground, a beast was looking down at me.
That jacket appeared to be something that it had carried in its mouth all the way from the Inquesta classroom.
That was the silver-white wolf that Reki was taking care of, Haimaki.
Not understanding why he would be holding my uniform...
I caught it, and a little agitated, I put my hands through its sleeves.
Butei High's uniform--The jacket and pants are made out of the bulletproof fiber, TNK.
It's useless against the armor-piercing rounds that Reki was holding earlier, but wearing it is a little reassuring.
After all, the bullets that are stored in that magazine may not all be pierce rounds.
"I too, do not wish to immediately make Kinji-san marry me."
"As such--I think that I will give you seven minutes grace."
"From now on, I will attack you seven times. If you are able to escape being hit for more than one minute, I will retract my proposal."
This is like...explaining the rules of a game.
A cold sweat breaking out, I looked down at my watch.
"You can run where-ever you like. But, I'll warn you first. My 'Killing Range' is 2051 meters."
The farthest range at which a hit is a certainty...The people in Snipe have different names for it, but Butei call it "Killing Range".
Which is to say, that is the distance at which snipers will definitely take out the enemy--
"In short, no matter where you run to inside this 2051 meter radius, my rifle will be able to hit you. Because, this rifle will never betray me--"
*Kch* Looking at Reki, who had straightened her gun again, at last...
I too, strengthened my resolve.
--I get it, I get it.
It looks like no matter what, you're not willing to talk with me, Reki.
Then, as you wish, I will play this game with you.
The normal me would definitely be unwilling to listen to these words.
I don't know when Reki figured out how to make me change...But the me as of now has entered Hysteria Mode, where I will listen to anything that girls say, because...
Without heat or passion, but all the more stimulating because of it--Earlier, Reki's kiss.
"Then, please marry me before the seventh bullet."
I didn't have enough time to even voice that question--
Leaping off the air-conditioning unit, the silver-wolf Haimaki flew over my head!
I saw that--probably something that Reki had made him wear--on his back, thick metal plating, just like armor, was protecting it. This is...I no longer have the chance to use the paralyzing bullet technique to graze his back, like I did to his brother.
I, standing at the edge of the Inquesta Building, where the emergency stairs were, was smashed into by Haimaki, pouncing through the air.
Colliding with me like that, I fell onto the rusty steps.
As if pulling out its prey's organs, Haimaki ripped my cellphone out of my pocket, and just as that happened--
--The Dragunov's gunshot!
I was in Hysteria Mode, but the blood froze in my veins.
I thought I was hit...but there was no pain. I was not injured.
As I felt a wave of relief wash over me, *Gchhng!*
Lumped together like a Dango, Haimaki and I tumbled over together. We struck the handrail of the stairs, breaking it, sending us falling into thin-air.
Haimaki jumped off me, using me as a step, returning to the stairs.
Quickly deploying the cable in my belt, I, like the Spiderman in the movies, lowered myself down to the emergency stairs a few floors below.
Feeling a strange sensation, I glanced towards my left wrist, and my bulletproof uniform--
One of the buttons on the cuff was missing.
I could understand from the tiny piece of broken metal that was left on the sleeve. Just before, Reki had shot it off. The button.
Reki...Hasn't changed. She's still as impressive as usual.
As I was rolling around with Haimaki, she managed to shoot such that she only hit the tiny button of my cuffs.
(But, why did she shoot that kind of thing...?)
As I frowned, by my ear, *Kccccchhhhh*--
As its paws trod upon the steel stairs, I heard the sound of its footsteps fast approaching.
Haimaki was rushing down the stairs.
I stretched out the Beretta in my hand...before I stopped.
Haimaki's bulletproof armor. That should be the tactical body armor that police dogs or Butei dogs wear.
My 9mm bullet would be completely useless. Even if I used all my bullets, the best I'd be able to do is delay him.
With no other choice, I could only spin around, rushing down the stairs, just ahead of Haimaki.
Now that I think about it, I had spent some time chasing you around on a motorcycle in the middle of spring. That's when you were still under Vlad's control. But now...it's your turn to chase me. This is divine retribution, isn't it?
Having landed on the ground, I--
(If another bullet comes, I'll defend using Billiard Shot--)
-thought that for a moment, before I realized that It was impossible.
A prerequisite of Billiard Shot is the ability to see the stance of the enemy, and deduce the trajectory of the bullet. I have to link the timing of my shot with the timing of her shot, a technique that only has one chance of success.
And facing a sniper whom I can't see, it's impossible for me to predict when she will open fire--I can't use it.
Feeling Haimaki's breath from behind my back, I sprinted forward with all my might, nothing else I could do. Under the strange looks of pedestrians that passed by occasionally, I went under the monorail tracks, jumping the guardrail to enter the commercial district, ignoring the traffic lights--
And using the anti-sniper tactics that I had learned in Assault, I twisted aside at one of the crossroads, entering a tiny alley.
Bullets cannot curve, and as such, sniper rifles can only hit enemies that are directly in their line of fire. As long as I hide in this kind of angular place, I definitely won't be hit.
"Haa, haa, haa..."
I leaned my back against the wall of the building, glancing at my watch.
It's just about to reach one minute after the first shot. According to the rules that Reki set down, this should be my victory.
I thought this, turning my head towards the entrance of the alley to see whether Haimaki had caught up with me--
Suddenly, sparks burst forth from the pole of the traffic light by the side of the road.
The next instant, *Bch!*, a feeling of numbness ran up my wrist.
(I-I was hit...!?)
I looked to my left wrist in panic--and again, I saw that yet another button on the cuffs of my sleeve had been ripped off by a bullet.
-hit the pole of the traffic light, and you still managed to make the bullet ricochet and hit my wrist!
Like the concept of the V-shape bullet trajectory that my own Billiard Shot draws in the air, this is a sniping technique that allows the bullet to reach an enemy around an angle, a shot that draws an L in the air.
I went "Tch", and I ran deeper into alley, which continued to wind--*Gng! Gng!* The sound of ricocheting bullets resounded twice behind me, and this time, the feeling of numbness ran up my right wrist.
The bullet hit the pole of the traffic light before it ricocheted off a roadside garbage-can, chasing me all the way up the street!
(I-is that even possible...!?)
While I continued to go "Tch", I ran through the automatic door of a select shop.
This is in an alley which has two corners, and what's more, this is a shop. Added to this, in front of this shop, there's nothing like a postbox or power-line pole to ricochet off.
(This place is definitely...safe!)
Quite unpopular, this shop was filled with mannequins of girls, but there was not a customer in sight.
I saw Haimaki, hurtling in front of the store like a hurricane...and the store attendant, seeing him, retreated into a corner of the shop.
Just right. I'm sorry, but I'm just going to hide here for now.
Drawing my gun and pointing towards the open door, I--couldn't help but frown.
Haimaki was not entering the store.
He had stopped in front of the automatic door such that it would not close, and he lowered his head, stretching his front paws out, crouching down.
I reacted violently, but it was already too late.
*Gin!*--*Gin!*--the bullet, having come here all the way through the alley, also--*Giiin!*
Ricocheted off the metal plating on Haimaki's back, facing this way--
*Bcch!* It tore past my right sleeve in a heartbeat.
My wrist having been grazed by a bullet, I fell towards the feet of the mannequins.
I looked at my hand, sprawled out across the floor--and from my right wrist, one more button had disappeared from the cuffs.
My mind in Hysteria Mode told me what exactly that meant.
If you add the first and second button on the chest of my uniform and the 2 cuff buttons on each of my wrists---together, there are six buttons.
And Reki has been shooting them one by one.
--Reki's words echoed in my mind.
"Then, please marry me before the seventh bullet."
If all six of my buttons go missing, and I still haven't replied with "YES"--
The seventh shot--where are you going to shoot, Reki.
Could it be that, you are trying to kill...me!
Reki can see me. Reki can shoot me.
But despite that, I cannot see her. I cannot shoot her back.
(This is a sniper...!)
A battle between pistols and snipers is like a battle between a sword and a gun. If both sides are far apart from each other, the pistol's bullet will have no way of reaching the sniper. Even if it's the me in Hysteria Mode, that fact doesn't change.
Kneeling on one knee and looking up, I...in an instant, all the mannequins looked like Reki.
This terrifying feeling. I'm going to go mad. My consciousness was about to be pressured into reaching its limit.
The me as of right now is being run down by a silver wolf, and I am but prey that cannot evade the bullets of the hunter.
Yes...This is as Reki called it, a 'hunt'.
--Isn't this just a...'Manhunt'!!
I used all the bullets in my Beretta to chase Haimaki away, and Hysteria Mode, sending interrupted thoughts into my mind, had thought of a place where I could hide.
I don't know why, but...
The Hysteria Mode this time, triggered by Reki, went away extremely fast.
(If 'the exterior of an obstacle' doesn't work, then if I enter the 'hollow interior of an obstacle'...!)
Perhaps, I might have a chance.
Thinking that way, I ran, throwing my body about, piercing through the alleys, returning to the entrance of the campus. Hopping the fence, I ran into the Logi's garage. Rushing towards what appeared to be a very sturdy four-wheel drive, I used the multi-purpose tool in my Butei Handbook to open the door.
Butei cars are completely armored. Even if the enemy uses armor-piercing bullets, it's still able to withstand the attack.
As long as I hide here, there shouldn't be a problem--
But, as I had just entered and closed the door.
Cracks, running outwards like a spiderweb, appeared on the window of the car. That was Reki's shot!
But, the bullet didn't pierce it. It only damaged the bulletproof glass, ricocheting off.
A-as it should.
But, as I rubbed my hands, slick with cold sweat, I froze.
*Pa! Pa! Pa!*
The sniping...continued without pause.
And, they were all concentrated on one singular point on the glass, not straying by even a millimeter.
Reki, like hammering a nail into a plank--Finally--
Shot through the bulletproof glass!
*Bch!* And, on my uniform--the second button on my chest was ripped off, spinning into the air.
My mind...thought back to Reki's other words.
"That's why, you should know that there are people who can easily destroy your existences through other means."
She was completely correct. If what Reki was aiming for was not a button...but my head, then even the me in Hysteria Mode would have had my brains blown out.
Jeanne, Vlad, Patra--
Even Sherlock I could beat when I was in this mode--Hysteria Mode!
Fuck! Ahh, I've understood! I understand it very well! You're stronger than me!
So, please stop it! Reki!
On my uniform, only one button was left.
I ran out of the four-wheel vehicle, which already had a broken window, and I used the last resort.
Understanding that running away had no meaning, I no longer ran to extend the distance.
(More like, I'm doing the opposite...!)
Just before Hysteria Mode had disappeared, the last place to run had flashed into the forefront of my mind--my starting point, Inquesta.
The building that Reki was on.
If she's still on that rooftop, then it's impossible for her to shoot downwards. Absolutely.
Even if she rushes down the stairs, preparing to shoot within the classroom, she will definitely take too much time, and I will win.
I sprinted into the building with all my might, running into the classroom that Aria and I had had a competition to clean this evening. I didn't turn on the light.
I glanced at my watch--It had been 50 seconds since the last shot.
10 seconds left. 9, 8, 7...
Alright. At the last of the last, I made a comeback. Thanks to the inverse logic due to the circumstances.
As I heaved a sigh of relief--
Her hair and skirt fluttering, Reki--
Falling down in what amounted to a standing position, she shot me through the window!
That bullet, fired from point blank range, shattered the glass. And inexorably, it continued towards me, who couldn't help but flinch backwards. Towards the first button on the chest of my uniform.
It was blown away...!
Apparently having affixed her cable to the roof, Reki, *Shhh*...used a miniature automated reel to ascend up the cable and entered the classroom through the window. Standing in front of me, who was still in a state of shock.
Afterward, she raised that face, which looked like it belonged to the CG of a game character, drawn with painstaking care...
And like a robot, she raised the Dragunov towards me.
Pointing at the chest of my uniform, which was wide open--pointing it at my completely defenseless, vulnerable, heart.
"--I-I surrender. I understand. Don't fire."
Reki really is a girl whom I cannot understand.
So, she might really kill me with the seventh bullet.
Because before this, when we had fought with Patra, she had shot the opponent in the head as if it were perfectly natural.
"Whether it's marriage or something else, I will agree. Don't fire."
My last thread of hope, Hysteria Mode, having been released, I could only raise my hands in defeat.
And in front of me, who was in this position...
*Kch.* Reki leaned the Dragunov against a desk by her side.
"--Then, Kinji-san. From now onwards, I am yours. I have translated the following edict into modern Japanese...If you don't understand, then please forgive me."
And with that, taking off her headphones, striding in my front of me--
In the empty nighttime classroom, she knelt.
Behind her...the moon, particularly enormous tonight, scattered its rays through the shattered window.
"From this moment onward, I am for Kinji-san to use. The strength of my gun is yours, use it as you will. My body has become but one of your possessions, use it as you will."
"A bride does everything her lord wishes. I vow that my bullets will seek vengeance upon all those nearby who wish to harm my lord. I will eradicate them, not leaving a trace."
Wh...What did you say?
Just now, you set your wolf on me, and you shot at me...
But despite that, now, "my body has become but one of your possessions"?
"One of Ulus is all, and all of Ulus is one. From this moment onwards, us 47 girls of Ulus, no matter when, for eternity, will become your strength."
As if reciting certain requirements, she added this last sentence, in front of me, who was still stunned--
Standing up lightly, she wore her headphones again, and she picked up the Dragunov, shouldering it.
She was completely still. She just stood there like that. And that expressionless gaze was fixated upon the empty air in front of her.
This is probably...the normal Reki. I can already feel the lack of killing intent.
I may not know why, but that hunter form she was in just now, appears to have stopped.
Standing there in a daze, just like Reki, I felt a chill trickle up my spine...Using my mind in normal mode, I organized this sequence of events, which didn't seem to have fully registered in my mind.
Just now, that 'Manhunt' was probably an exhibition of Reki's power.
--If you run, I will kill you.
That message had been deeply engraved into my mind.
And just after that, she announced that she would marry me.
--I am yours.
These 2 messages were completely contradictory, but without a doubt, she had conveyed such to me in reality.
I scratched my head, trying to ascertain the situation around me.
I've been captured by a sniper. If I run, I will be sniped. The Butei phrase for such situations is, 'Sniper Restriction'.
It conveys the situation of being trapped in the opponent's Killing Range--an invisible cage.
Following the rules that I had learned in Assault about being restricted by an enemy...I should pretend to surrender, not resisting, no matter what may come my way. Submit and obey the opponent's every order.
And, later, take the chance to escape, or call for support.
Well...right now, Reki probably won't interrogate me or kill me like a Yakuza or terrorist. So, the first movement that is laid down--'Surrender', should be the correct step to take.
But, although I waved a white flag--
-I had no idea of what to do afterward.
Reki seemed to have entered standby, and she didn't move at all.
I tested the waters, taking one step, two steps back...
Uu. She followed.
I turned my back, leaving the classroom...*Tap Tap Tap Tap* She continued to follow, at my back.
...So hateful. This is like the incarnation of a ghost, haunting my back.
Thinking that, I quickened my steps, wanting to descend the stairs--
Appearing to notice this, Reki, *Shh*,
Grabbed my sleeve.
"...What is it."
"Please don't leave me."
"I cannot let the enemy attack you."
The enemy, she says. Who would want to attack me?
Now that I think about it, she said this before she started to attack me. Something like, "the enemies from now on,"
...Wasn't that about you?
But, if I just resist her, things will get ugly, right? If I push Reki's switch, and she becomes weird again, she might just deliver the seventh bullet a little late, directly to my head this time.
"So...what are you going to do, Reki? From now on?"
"I will obey you. I will carry out any orders you give."
"...Get away from me."
"I cannot do such a thing."
What is this. Despite the fact that you just said you will carry out any orders I give.
With that, I looked back, an unsatisfied expression on my face.
"Then...raise one leg."
I copied the old movie that I had seen on TV, 'Terminator 2', and I tried saying something horrible.
On top of the stairs, Reki raised her right knee a little, standing there on one leg, just like a flamingo.
Hmmm...well, looks like she really will do anything I say.
...Alright. I've thought of something good.
"A little more up."
This could be my chance to escape.
I--will push Reki. I'll just pretend it's payback for the blow from before.
If she rolls down the stairs like that, I can steal the Dragunov before running away.
Diagonally above me, who had been putting this together in my mind, Reki raised her small, deer-like leg.
But, her center of gravity didn't change at all. That's amazing, that sense of balance feels like that of a gymnast.
That snow white knee continued to raise up, continuing to reach towards the ceiling...
And her thigh, nearly horizontal now, brought her skirt along with it...
Th-the scene before my eyes is about to get da-dangerous!
"A-alright, alright! You can bring it down now!"
Turning my face around, I gave her an order, panicked.
*Fuah* Reki brought her leg down, and her skirt returned to normal.
Seeing me so panicked, Reki twisted her head by one centimeter.
Hey, is there a need to go "?" If you had raised it more, I'd be able to see under your short skirt. If you're a girl, then be a little more embarrassed, a little more unwilling, alright?
Really--Reki really is a robot girl.
Now, have I been forced to take something I don't want at all, a remote control?
A defective remote control, one with a missing switch: 'Go far away'.
Reki, behind me.
Haimaki, behind Reki.
We walked through the nighttime street in a row, just like RPG characters...I was thinking.
To be honest, I was extremely, extremely angry. I wanted to return home and sleep as fast as possible.
But, at this time, if I were to bring Reki back to my own room--earlier, having misunderstood the relationship between Reki and I, Aria...Meeting up with her would be very awkward.
And, Shirayuki as well. She said that she was going to stay at the Meiji Shrine tonight...But, my misfortune has been proven again and again, so with that in mind, I followed the steps in my head: "I will return home before the agreed time!" → "Some pests have attached themselves to Kin-chan! Pests should be exterminated!" With that, there's the possibility that Dormitory War III will break out again.
As for Muto or Shiranui's place...that won't do either. As long as Reki continues to follow me, those places won't do at all.
With no other options, I told Reki this.
But, Reki didn't take it seriously at all, and she said:
"Then come to my room."
And at that moment, I finally noticed...I had already been pressured into a position where I had no choice but to do that.
(The girl's dormitory...how hateful...)
Stealthily, making sure that the teacher on duty didn't notice me, I walked into the 2nd girl's dormitory. Reki and Haimaki's steps were completely silent, but the same couldn't be said for me. Hey, Reki, how is it that you have such a perfect gait? You may have said "come to my room," so calmly, but isn't it obvious that if I'm noticed, things will get ugly?
Continuously complaining in my heart, I arrived at Reki's room...
Inside, was the same terrifying desolateness, without a trace of life.
The room, illuminated by a single lightbulb, had no furniture at all. Actually, why doesn't the wall even have a clock on it? It's amazing that you're able to live in this kind of sickening atmosphere.
It may have been the second time I had come here, but I still felt a vague feeling that I was intruding.
Now that I think about it, even though it looks like this, this room still belongs to a single girl.
And from now on, I am going to live with Reki here, just a boy and a girl.
This...in terms of Hysteria Mode, is a huge pinch.
Because, if I go into Hysteria Mode, and spend a night with Reki, who has a personality like that of a hostess, doing something that I can't take back...
...I might really have to take responsibility. I might have no choice but to marry her. That really is a deathtrap. Also, the person in question won't resist at all.
(I have to stay alert...)
I couldn't help but twist my gaze away from Reki, who was bending down, removing her shoes on the bare concrete...couldn't help but twist my gaze away from the nape of her neck, slightly exposed...so white that I could hardly tell the difference between her skin and the uniform.
Never having applied any makeup or cosmetics, Reki has never received a lot of attention, but in truth...
She is a breathtakingly beautiful girl.
In truth, her face as it is, is far more beautiful than a model's face, completely covered with makeup.
That expressionless face makes people feel that she is hard to approach...but, just as Reki's secret fanclub believes, she is amazingly cute.
"Hmm? Ah, um, what?"
Thinking about that, my voice a little agitated, I couldn't help but twist my head around to look at Reki, who had suddenly raised her head, looking my way.
Th-this expressionless gaze, looking upwards--Damn it, it's cute. It's like the gaze of a puppy.
"The keycard to this place. Please use it as you like."
Reki's slender, white finger...It was hard to believe that just few a moments ago, it had been pulling the trigger to a sniper rifle--passed the ID card to me.
(I don't want it! But, if I say something like that, her sniper rifle will spit fire again, right...)
With no other choice, I reached out, but my fingers...and Reki's soft, gentle fingers.
For an instant. They touched. As if linking with each other.
My heartbeat, a strange sound.
For some reason, this seems to be the sound between 'Dokin' and 'Giku. It's pretty talented. My heart, that is.
Ahh...Damn it. I can't speak. Against girls...I am weak. No matter how much time may pass, no matter which girl it may be.
Reki strode into one of the interior rooms from the entrance. Inside, was the only piece of furniture--On the table, were various tools, which looked like metal brushes and anvils. Those tools were used for maintaining guns.
Having been standing in the living room in a daze, I didn't really want to stay inside the desolate living room...and so, I also walked into the other room, which was like a workroom.
"...Sorry for interrupting."
Reki didn't look at me. She was sitting up straight on the chair, preparing to maintain her sniper rifle.
*Click Click Chck Chck*
The gun was dismantled under Reki's practiced movements, turning into a mass of components, laid out piece by piece onto the table.
There was nothing like a manual or handbook by her side.
It appears that each component and function of the Dragunov, down to the smallest screw, was completely memorized by her.
Her technique able to match any Amdo teacher, perfectly maintaining the Dragunov, Reki--
-*Kch*, pointed the reassembled rifle at the wall, checking it.
Almost like a swordsman who had just been given a katana.
"Kinji-san. I'm sorry, but starting now--please stop breathing for a while."
"There is a chance that the water particles in your breath might stick to the bullet and affect it, somehow."
Finished talking, Reki pulled open a drawer and took a vinyl-sealed ziploc bag from out of it. From within it, she took out a 7.62×54mmR--a sniper round.
(...Breathing, she says. She really has some mental problems...)
But still, I lowered my breathing, staring at Reki as she worked.
Looking closely, there was a scale on the table. That was an instrument to precisely measure how much gunpowder to use in each bullet.
Which is to say, sealed inside the case that Reki had just taken out, were bullets, all of them made by Reki herself. She certainly pays a lot of attention to fine detail.
As for me, I always go to buy the pistol bullets that are resold by the army. Not even that, I always aim for the cheap ones.
Wearing gloves, Reki placed one bullet, two bullets on the table, in a neat row.
After she had finished laying them all out, *Shh*, she stared at the 20 bullets, spread apart...
Her eyes, seeming like scanners, gazed upon the bullets, flowing from left to right in a meticulous order, unblinking....
She only picked one bullet up.
Continuing to scan the bullet from every angle, Reki made me feel as if she needed no instruments to measure anything. Rather, with just her eyes and fingertips, she could sense every microgram of fault, feel every nanogram of error.
Reki slotted the bullet, which appeared to have passed her test, into the magazine, and the remaining 19 bullets...*Clatter Clatter*. She threw them all into the rubbish bin by her feet. Once again, she took out another case, which probably held 20 bullets as well.
"What are you doing?"
"Misfire protection. I will only use the best bullet from the 20."
"...Don't be so wasteful. This is an eco-era, after all. And as for misfires, when they happen, they happen. There's no stopping it."
"Until now, that has not happened to me once."
Apparently having a lot of pride when it comes to matters involving guns, Reki answered me, the box clasped between her hands.
"That...I realize that maintenance is important. But, there will be times where guns, as well as tools, don't respond to our commands. The ability to adapt to such a situation, and overcome it is what it means to be a Butei."
"This gun will not fail me."
Reki returned those words, her tone slightly firmer, slightly louder, those cute lips tightly closed--
Her gaze returned to the desk, and she continued selecting the bullets.
It's true that...if one does such a thing, the probability of a misfire happening will become zero.
(But--this way of doing things, she won't even let one drop fall from her cup.)
With just one battle, she completely dismantles her gun, maintaining it, protecting against any malfunctions.
All her bullets are made meticulously, and even after that, they undergo a strict selection phase to prevent any chance of misfiring.
Reki's attitude, obsessive to this level, leaves no room for error.
It may be that I, not wanting to be killed, decided to surrender first, looking for a chance to run...
But, looking at this scene, her meticulousness is such that, there will be no 'chance to run'.
(At any rate, were I to escape to any corner of Academy Island...as long as I am within two kilometers of Reki, I will be sniped...)
It looks like my plan to run was meaningless.
Since that's the way things are--The only thing I can do is, convince Reki to stop attacking me.
But, how do I do that?
I leaned against the wall, my mind whirring into gear, thinking of how I could regain my freedom.
Now that I think about it, I might have seen something in the appendix of one of the Assault textbooks--
When being used as a hostage, when the opponent has no weaknesses, when it's impossible to run...as the last resort, there's still the method, called: 'Lima Syndrome'.
Lima Syndrome is a situation where after a period of time, the offenders will begin sympathizing with the hostages and in the end decide to end the conflict of their own free will. It is named thus because of just such a situation that happened in 1996, when a large-scale kidnapping incident occurred in the Japanese embassy of Lima, Peru.
(But, will that method work? On this robot girl?)
Thinking about those things, I--
-heard the sound of Reki inserting the magazine, completely loaded with handpicked bullets, into the Dragunov. A noise so ominous, filled with despair.
After finishing the maintenance of her gun, Reki...*Tap Tap*
Strode into the living room.
As she walked, her clothes rustled, and in a flowing movement, she pulled her scarf, part of the school uniform, off.
...What's she doing now?
Not understanding, I gazed upon her back...
Inside a small side room, upon closer investigation, there was what appeared to be a miniature washing machine. Inside it, Reki took off her headphones...
*Rustle* Her hands grasped the hem of her shirt.
Sh-she pulled it up with one movement!
"--Wait! Wait! Why are you taking off your clothes!?"
Reki's exposed back, shining like a pearl, made me panic.
"Do-don't turn around!"
"--The stains on one's body will affect one's health. Conversely, my health will affect the accuracy of my sniping and as such, I must constantly cleanse myself."
*Zcch* She pulled her zipper down. *Fyuu*
A-and without a moment's hesitation, sh-she even took her skirt off.
Panicked, I twisted around, my back facing Reki, who had no qualms whatsoever about exposing her unadorned, white undergarments.
"Th-that's not what I'm talking about, I-I saw it all, you know!"
"I care not."
"--Haimaki, come here."
Reki didn't appear to understand the reason for my resistance--*Kch, Shhhhh, Fyuu*
-once again, the noise of rustling clothes reached my ears.
And the source of that noise--I had no wish of thinking about.
How dangerous is this girl?
I knew that she had no emotions, but I didn't expect that it would even extend to things like this.
Why is it that, in front of me...you can remove your clothes so calmly!
*Tap Tap Tap Tap* Haimaki passed by my side, and the sound of the shower door closing reached my ears...*Shhh*...the sound of a shower really started.
And my eyes, just like the shower, gushing water now, were watering. Damn it. What a horrible day.
Taking some time to establish a relationship with Reki, and afterward, convince her into letting me go.
That was my last hope of getting out of here.
Relationships can only be formed between people.
But, facing the inhuman Reki, there doesn't seem to be any chance of success.
Which is to say, my plan has to start with educating Reki about human emotions.
And that--is a long, perhaps endless, path. But, if I don't act, there will be no way for me to leave this Sniper Restriction. So, I have to adopt an indomitable mindset and find a way to carry out, 'Reki's humanization'...
After I too, had borrowed her shower--
-My head resting on Haimaki's back, lying on the ground, I pondered my plan in secret.
Before, his fur wet, looking like a dog, Haimaki shook himself violently on the balcony, throwing the water off and returning to normal. His fur was soft, and very comfortable.
I twisted my head to the side, and Reki, wearing a sailor uniform, was sitting upright against the wall. It appears that she has several uniforms, and she wears them alternatively.
Before, when I found out about it, I was extremely surprised, because Reki sleeps upright.
Some say that, during the Sengoku period, some warriors, for the sake of being able to react immediately to the enemy's surprise attacks, had the habit of clutching their swords while they slept. And in modern times, Reki still does that. Even while she sleeps, she does not show any weaknesses.
(Well...but, as a girl, you're full of weaknesses.)
...Wearing that kind of short skirt, sitting like that, on your knees.
I can understand that, if one sits like that while holding a sniper rifle, that stance is very stable...but, could you tell me where my eyes are supposed to look?
As a result of your present, for the sake of not seeing anything...unnecessary, I chose a very uncomfortable sleeping position. Well, I may say that, but no matter where I lie, it will be cold, bare concrete.
"...It's time for lights out. May I switch off the lights?"
Hearing her words, I glanced at my watch, it was just 9:00, not 1 second more, or less. It's no wonder there are no clocks here, her body clock is as accurate as a robot's.
"It's fine. There's nothing to do in this empty place, anyways."
I responded, almost complaining.
Reki used the muzzle of the Dragunov to push the switch of the light behind her, switching off the light. But, the Tokyo streetlights, by the sea, were shining in a little, and as such, it wasn't very dark.
Silently, Reki closed those eyes, which were like gems, floating in the midst of the darkness.
That gave me the feeling of a robot switching itself off, quieting down...But, she's still breathing. That chest, which could not be said to be well-developed, no matter how one looked at it, was rising and falling, in time with her breaths.
Reki's sleeping face, appearing in the midst of the faint light--
Such a terrifying enemy...has such an unparalleled beauty. Such that it makes me feel a little lost, a little confused.
More appropriately, this is some sort of allure, right? That face, so neat, seemed to be like a doll...fashioned from some sort of crystal, crafted lovingly by a famous artisan.
An aroma, reminiscent of plant-scented shampoo, wafted over, in the wake of the wind. Reki's hair, damp from her shower, under the night breeze, coming in through the partially opened window, was slowly returning to its natural smoothness.
"...Are you asleep yet?"
Once again, Reki opened her closed eyes, looking this way.
It was only a vague feeling, but I felt that Reki was also thinking deeply, waiting for sleep to come. If it's now, I feel that I'll be able to converse with her calmly.
Thinking that way, I,
"Asking when things have come to this is a little late...but why did you take someone like me?"
I came straight out with the question that I had wanted to ask from the start.
"The 'wind' ordered me to do so."
"Wind...? What's that? Is it someone's codename?"
"Not a person. The wind is the wind."
Are you talking about the wind that's blowing around outside right now?
That's merely the flow of gas, a natural phenomenon. How could something like that give anybody an order?
"Then, what is the wind?"
"The wind is the wind."
It looks like continuing to ask along this line of thought is a waste of time. There's a feeling that we'll back and forth: "What's that?" "That's the wind," for all eternity.
--Let's ask about something else to start up a conversation.
"...You said, 'order'? Then, this proposal, mm...is like an arranged marriage, and is not of your own free will?"
I couldn't stop my face from twitching.
"...Will you obey that...wind, no matter what it says? I don't understand, even if the wind makes you marry someone like me...you don't care?"
I asked blankly. Reki--
"--I am a single bullet. A bullet has no heart. Therefore, it does not think--"
She used the mantra-like words that she always said when firing, to respond.
--It does not think.
Which is to say, as long as the wind wills it so, you will, just like a bullet, always fly out in response to the pull of the trigger, and devotedly obey?
I...had no way of asking anything about the restriction anymore.
Because, I had already realized that, no matter what I asked, it would be useless.
It isn't possible for Reki's thoughts to suddenly change. Because, she never had her own thoughts to begin with.
This may seem like a rhetoric, but in principle, it is impossible to make 'nothingness' undergo 'change'.
Heaving a sigh at this conversation, completely meaningless, I--
"Then...since we're playing house, what should I do?"
I asked about something else I was worried about.
Is it fine if I just laze around, playing the part of a useless husband?
"I don't know."
...You don't know, you say. You didn't think about this at all, did you?
"But, Kinji-san and I are no longer children, physically."
Reki brushed off her headphones lightly, continuing tonelessly,
"While living together, just leave the rest to your natural instincts--that's what the wind told me."
"Yes. The wind said, we would naturally have children."
My head slipped off Haimaki's back, the back of my skull violently colliding with the concrete floor.
Fr-from marriage, this topic turned to children.
...Which is to say, th-that kind of thing!
That's impossible for me! Absolutely impossible! From the beginning, as for girls, I--
-wanted to refuse, but Reki probably already knows about my Hysteria Mode. Which means, having already exposed my arousal from Reki's kiss, I have no right to say anything.
"Just, I don't know what I should do...so, I'll leave everything to Kinji-san. Kinji-san appears to be quite familiar with this, and wives should give everything to their husbands, as well."
Reki's calm voice made me sit up violently.
"Yo-you said that, "Kinji-san appears to be familiar with this,"...What is that supposed to mean?"
"Kinji-san is liked by many girls, so I believe that you are very familiar with the relationships between men and women."
"I-I'm not familiar at all. If I had to use an adjective, it would be 'slow'. Because, I am somebody that always avoids girls. I think you know this too, but it's for the sake of not activating the sickness that is Hysteria Mode."
I said, as if venting my feelings, and I lay back down on Haimaki's stomach.
"Anyways, even if the one in a million chance that a girl likes me occurs...then, they'd just like the me in Hysteria Mode. The normal me is just a useless, uninteresting high schooler."
Reki directly refuted my words.
"Outside of HSS...of Hysteria Mode, you hide a different, amazing power."
Outside of...Hysteria Mode?
This is the first time I had ever heard someone say this.
"--One of them being, your submerged charisma. Such things are hard for one to notice about oneself."
Now that I think about it...Before, Tsuduri-sensei also said something like this.
She said that I have "a sort of charisma".
"That is the characteristic of a leader. The characteristic of a general."
She's talking about generals.
"When you were fighting with I-U, you activated a certain core ability, gathering numerous allies about you--even your enemies were swayed under your influence, becoming your companions. And this, is unquestionably the growth of your unique charisma. After all, once an excellent general appears, warriors will naturally gather around him."
I shook my head.
"Even in Hysteria Mode, I am weaker than you. My abilities, as compared to Nii-san and father is such that I feel shame over my inexperience. How could I have that kind of charisma?"
"A general does not need unparalleled intelligence, or power. That is something that each warrior should have. And, I'm not stating this in relation to Hysteria Mode, but stating this in relation to that particular part of Kinji-san."
I turned around, my back facing Reki.
Reki's personality...is such that she will not lie.
So, that probably isn't flattery, but her true beliefs.
Without even looking at a mirror, I know that my cheeks are slightly red.
I may not know why...but, I'm abnormally embarrassed.
I feel that...having that kind of direct affirmation of something inside me that isn't Hysteria Mode, is too much. But, this is something that I have never heard before, throughout my entire life.
I had no idea of how I should react.
"Also, just now, Kinji-san said, you are 'weaker than me'--But, I know that if Kinji-san were serious, you would be stronger. You are still conserving, locking away, your true power."
"--Don't say any more."
My voice, a little deeper, halted Reki.
Reki wasn't wrong...that battle from just now...
If I had wanted to, I wouldn't have needed to run away.
If my heart could accept killing somebody...
I could have eradicated Reki and Haimaki. I could have wiped them out.
"...I don't wish to use that kind of power, and I will never use it again. Using my full strength against you, what will it achieve?"
"Guns, swords, whichever one is stronger--is meaningless for me. I'll take this opportunity to explain this to you, next year, I will drop out of this school and transfer to a normal high school. So? What do you think? That is how I truly feel. Unexpected, isn't it?"
"No--If you do that, I will drop out of Butei High as well, and follow you to a normal high school."
Reki's answer could not help but make me twist around.
This...was the first time I had seen such a reaction.
Despite the fact that, as long as they heard me say such a thing, Aria's, even Shirayuki's expression would freeze.
"--A person's personality is not reliant upon which school they go to. No matter which school you go to, Kinji-san will be Kinji-san."
Still sitting upright, Reki, just as always, was looking down at the floor, and she asked,
"Is there something that Kinji-san wants to do, going to a normal high school?"
Hearing Reki's counter-question, I was a little tongue-tied.
"...This..I'll think about it after I transfer."
Reki's tone, seeming to carry a hint of the question, "that's not how it really is, right?" made me feel as if I was being led--
"Probably...there might be something."
The words casually slipped out of my mouth, retracting my previous statement, meant to disguise my true intention.
"But...that is just a dream, hidden in my heart. In reality...I've never worked for it at all. So now, I can just drag myself through my Butei High days. As if just hanging in the air, suspended by a string."
I understood very clearly that this wouldn't do. But, even with that, my heart...knew that the school I was attending now had no way of allowing me to take that very first step.
As if knowing my thoughts, as if understanding me, Reki...didn't say anything.
To be honest, I...never thought that I'd be able to talk to her about this.
Reflecting on this in my heart, I glanced towards the side of Reki's face.
Reki has never showed any care for others. No matter who she faces, she will never form any reassuring expressions, never any promising smiles.
As a result, she has no friends. If I had to name one, Aria would be the only one she could call friend.
-had never thought that I would tell Reki my true feelings.
The me in Butei High would never speak my mind to anybody. That is because, there is nobody in this place that would be able to talk about this kind of thing with me.
Thinking about this, my feelings, full of rejection against Reki just a moment ago...
Seemed to have flipped slightly.
Flipped--which is to say, I felt a certain closeness.
I'm not sure whether she felt the same as I, but Reki, who seemed to be only moving her eyes, looked directly into mine.
That wordless stare, Reki's gaze...
I may be wrong, but it felt as if she was waiting for some sort of order.
Now that I think about it, just now...I acquired an invisible remote to this person in front of me, Reki.
--Acquired that remote, which had only one missing button: 'Go far away.'
But, as opposed to that, there was a button which said, 'Come here'.
...No, no. I can't...!
Because I had relaxed a little, I had thought of it for an instant.
A little embarrassed, I turned my head a little, but those light-pink colored lips, opened in the midst of that shining porcelain-like skin, flashed into my eyes.
(...Just now, those lips suddenly...touched mine...)
Apparently reacting to my gaze, she shifted, perhaps a millimeter.
Suddenly feeling as if my thoughts had been seen, I became a little agitated.
...This isn't good.
I had only noticed it now, but Reki, whether it be in terms of strength, or in terms of Hysteria Mode...she was the strongest enemy I had faced so far.
To put it briefly, I had already understood that she was someone so beautiful, someone whom the more you looked at her, the more beautiful she seemed--
And, although I don't wish to admit it, but she definitely has...as compared to Aria, Shirayuki, Riko...a completely different allure.
"We...we should sleep. The opening ceremony for the 2nd semester is tomorrow. I don't want to be late on the first day of school."
I said, turning my head towards the ceiling. I used Haimaki's tail as a eyeshade, covering my eyes with it.
The moment that I had seen Reki's face before I turned my eyes away, it was expressionless, the same as ever, but--
For some reason, I had a slight feeling...
That that face was filled with an immeasurable sorrow.
Translator's Notes and References
- 'Dogun' is the SFX for a slightly harder heartbeat, in relation to 'Doki'. 'Giku' is the SFX for a surprised heartbeat.
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