Hidan no Aria:Volume6 Chapter2

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2nd Ammo: Water Tossing[edit]

September 1--

During the opening ceremony on the first day of the second semester, the Japanese students of Butei High will respect international tradition, wearing an imitation uniform of the first Butei High in the world, Butei High - Rome, the completely black uniform which is called, 'Diviza Nero'.

The students, dressed completely in black, sat up straight on the folding chairs, in a phalanx-like formation.

This scene was almost like the assembly of a miniature army division, or perhaps a Yakuza funeral.

The curtain, full of patched up bullet-holes, opened left and right, and on the stage, the principal, Midorimatsu, was standing in the center, at the lectern, giving a speech about the international co-operation between Butei.

He said something about public safety continuing to worsen, but Japan was still a safe country, so as such, Tokyo Butei High will be accepting exchange students for the sake of the students' growth in a tense situation.

...Hey. Please don't make the situation in the school any more tense.

It was probably because of Butei High's new policy, but sitting in one corner of the room were students from Hong Kong Butei High.

There were not only high school students, but there seemed to be middle school students as well...even somebody like an elementary school student. As expected of foreigners.

(But, it might not be too long before the era comes where Japan, like America, will legally issue firearm licenses to 5 year old children.)

Having not slept much in Reki's room last night, I thought of those things, stifling a yawn.

It is common practice that one cannot be absent from the opening ceremony of the second semester. However, delinquents like Riko, or busy students like Aria still neglect it. So, all those that sit here are the good students, the slackers, or those failing students, who like me, came so their credits would not drop.

And Reki...after she had accompanied me to school, because she was performing in the ceremony after the opening ceremony--using a pistol or sniper rifle as a replacement for the marching band's batons--she went to the preparation room of the auditorium.

As such, I am able to do this, enjoying my temporary freedom.

But, as long as I am within a 2 kilometer radius of that Dragunov, I am still in the palm of Reki's hand.

And, Haimaki was idly crouching by my feet, and once in a while, he would, with an expression which said: "If you dare run, I'll report it to my master," look up at me. Damn it.

I couldn't help but glare angrily at the Haimaki by my feet...

"Tohyama-kun, is it alright if I sit next to you?"

"Yo, Kinji. Looks like you aren't getting held back a year after all."

Two male students moved to the seats by my side, in unison. The good student Shiranui and the slacker Muto.

The handsome Shiranui was already cheerful, even though it was the first day of the second semester, and Muto was still wearing an expression of yearning for the summer holidays, stubble building up on his chin. The contrast between you two is amazingly strong.

"Kinji, I heard a rumor. Yesterday, you ran into some shooting spree, broke the glass off my four-wheel drive, forcing me to track down my insurance company..."

Ah? The car that I hid in yesterday was Muto's?

Well...I'll just pretend that I don't know what he's talking about for now. After all, the person who actually broke the glass was Reki.

Also, I still haven't paid Muto back for breaking his Gyro Canopy while we were arguing.

"--Besides that small matter...Tohyama-kun. Another scandal has been raised because of your relationship with a girl, you know?"

Radiating normal Butei behavior with the mention of a shooting spree as, 'that small matter', Shiranui interrupted from the other side.

He was chuckling as if he had run into something amusing. This guy definitely thinks that since it has nothing to do with him, he can just spectate from the side.

"Are you serious!? Damn it! Why!? Why is it always only Kinji!?"

"Don't shout so loud, Muto. It's the opening ceremony right now. Anyways, Shiranui, how did you know?"

"'Know' is inaccurate, rather, I deduced this. As I was doing early sword-training in Assault--Kanzaki-san was throwing a huge tantrum. So, I thought that it might have something to do with Tohyama-kun."

Kanzaki...Aria-san was throwing a huge tantrum?

Just thinking about it makes me shiver.

Incidentally, morning practice would refer to some specific subject practice in a normal school, but in Butei High, it refers to morning battle training.

"Once again, it's become a pretty popular topic. It's said that--This morning, Tohyama-kun and Snipe's Reki-san came out of the girl's dormitory together when they were going to school."

While saying this, Shiranui, as if trying to prove the existence of the relationship between Reki and I, stroked Haimaki's back.

"--This time it's Reki!? Ah-, but, I can understand that. A dark boy and a wordless girl fit each other, after all. But, Kinji, you've taken action against somebody dangerous again. Reki has a lot of secret fans. You might get caught in a multi-directional crossfire one day, you know? You sure are unlucky, Kinji."

Agreed.

Now, not only am I being observed by Reki, but the number of guns pointed at me are increasing...

Unable to explain the situation to Muto, who was laughing and patting my back from behind, I...dipped in my head in despair.

"...There's another popular topic going around, because Kanzaki-san and Reki-san get along well. It's said that, after Kanzaki-san finished throwing a tantrum, she was very depressed about losing both her friend and lover."

What...is that supposed to mean?

Are you saying that, Reki = Friend, and I = Lover?

"Hey. Aria and I aren--"

"There's a lot of this kind of trouble around this season. After all, 'Caravan I' is about to arrive."

I had seen it many times, but as I was trying to defend myself, Shiranui's overly brilliant smile cut me short.

--Caravan I.

Now that he mentions it, it's true that it's about to arrive.

In Butei High, sophomores have two training trips. The first one is 'Caravan I'.

From the name, it might appear to be a normal school trip, but in truth, it is an activity for the sake of making the final corrections in the teams formed between students.

This is because...when Butei High students reach their second year, they have to form and register themselves as 2~8 man teams before the end of September.

An unexpectedly important result of this team system is that, the registered teams will in turn, be registered in the IADA[1].

Normally, Butei will move in those teams as units, fulfilling the activity. Even if they split up later due to their own goals, the mutual co-operation in that team takes precedence over entire organizational relationship--this is also laid down in International Butei Law.

"It's popular, because there are a lot of cases where the formation of a team is affected by boy-girl relationships. Because Tohyama-kun was unable to solve his personal matters."

"About that, I've pretty much decided who I'm going to team up with. We're going to take members from both Logi and Amdo, forming a logistics unit. There are girls too, you know. It's Hiraga Aya though, so there's nothing to get excited about."

There are no firm criteria, but normally, teams will be either assault teams, logistics teams, communications teams, or mixed teams etc., completely different types and fields. As a result, different teams will work together.

Using an army analogy, it would be like the image of sections coming together to form a platoon.

Therefore, this isn't something like normal high school groups, where getting along well is the focus, but rather, a team formed with tactics and strategy taken into account.

To sum it up in a sentence...team formation is something that requires a lot of thinking.

Especially for me, who doesn't have many friends, and is now engaged to Reki, this is a massive undertaking. Just thinking about it gives me a headache..

"Tohyama-kun is going to form an assault team, right? Or maybe a reconnaissance team?"

"I haven't decided on anything yet. I'm busy enough earning credits, so I have to postpone it for now."

"Ahh, that's a problem. Tohyama-kun, the next time you wear this, what are you going to do?"

Said Shiranui, pointing to my black tie. The next time I wear this? He's probably talking about the team photo at team registration.

During team registration, according to the rules, the team members have to have a photograph taken of them...and they have to wear this bulletproof uniform - black while taking the photo. It's rumored that this is for the sake of preventing offenders from being able to recognize which Butei High the students come from.

I remember, when we saw our senpai's team photos last year...they were all looking away from the lens on purpose, turning their heads slightly to the side or even downwards. That's probably so their appearance wasn't completely shown.

Really, this is an amazingly dangerous school. Having to take so much care with just a photo.


The opening ceremony finished--and on the path in front of the auditorium, the girls from class C started the parade as Little Eva's 'The Loco-Motion' was playing.

On their heads were feathered military caps, their bodies clothed with extravagant uniforms. Their hands grasping their batons, the girls--

*Whoosh, whoosh. Roll.*

Their white, pleated miniskirts fluttering, they span their replacements for batons, assault rifles and sniper rifles, marching forward in two lines on the road, sealed off from traffic.

At times, Butei High will imitate the Police Force and the Self-Defense Force, holding a music or dance concert, reason being, they wished to improve their image with the people. And according to the principal's plan, the performers would be female. Aria and Shirayuki also performed as cheerleaders at Adseard in May.

But...no matter when I see it, I always hate these performances.

Aria06 067.jpg

On both sides of the road, watching the parade was the local people, as well as the media. There were also boys, holding up cameras with lenses as long as bazookas, frantically snapping pictures of the girls. You guys, you know that you're falling right into the principal's trap, right? Their appearance may be no different from cute high school girls, but the female students over here are actually dangerous people that play with real bazookas.

Not being able to withhold a sigh, I--

-as if trying to escape from Reki, who was twirling her Dragunov in the midst of the marching band, her face expressionless as always...I left.

Behind me, Haimaki tailed me, not letting his guard down. At any rate, you. You've been suspecting me, following me ever since just now, right? You stepped on my shoes on purpose, and you even urinated over my clothes when I left the auditorium's male changing room.

The bulletproof uniform - black that I was wearing in the auditorium was borrowed, so I could just throw it inside the 'return' basket and be done with it, but the uniform I'm wearing now is mine. If you dare dirty it, I will spare you no mercy.

(...Reki, Haimaki, team formation...no matter which one it is, so troublesome...)

And to add to my annoyance, today was the day of Butei High's horrible tradition, 'Water Tossing'

Originally, 'Water Tossing' evolved from the special battle method that the principal's old school had had, "On the day of the opening ceremony, you can splash water onto anybody."

Splashing each other with water may be very safe, but once this reached Butei High, the rules, for some reason, became, "as long as you're unarmed, you can fight with anybody you like," a real battle method, and it spread around the school.

(Masters tolerates this activity as well. Really...)

My head hurting again, I decided to head to the pharmacy at the Medica building.

But, I was afraid that if I walked the main road, I would run into the danger that is 'Water Tossing', so I took a small road.

As I walked out of the parade, the sound of it getting farther and farther...

Fuah.

Fuah.

Fuaah.

What...?

Bubble...?

Suddenly, in front of me, who was walking down the small alley, a bubble appeared.

* Pop, Pop Pop* They popped in front of my face.

"--You just died three times."

Immediately after, the sound of a girl's undeveloped voice came from above my head.

I raised my head to look, and one foot hooked into the gutter of the building...was a small girl.

...Who's she?

"Japan's Butei High isn't very noteworthy. You're too vulnerable."

The girl was wearing something reminiscent of one of the outfits of a zombie in 'Reigen Doushi'--a modified, abnormal outfit using the Qing Dynasty's imperial outfit as a basis.

Added to that, her accent...she was probably one of those exchange students from Hong Kong Butei High.

"...There something?"

In a bad mood, I narrowed my eyes, staring at her, who was adroitly drinking something out of a gourd...

"Kyuu!"

*Spin, Tap*

The girl laughed shrilly, and she landed in the alley lightly, just like a trapeze artist.

*Shhh*

Aria06 071.jpg

Her black twintails, tied on the left and right, followed the movement of her body, falling down.

"My, name, is Koko. Tell me your name."

--Height, around 1.40 meters. She's still a kid.

The corners of her eyes were streaked with red eyeshadow, making her already slanted eyes become even more obviously tilted. And she also had a cute appearance that would make a certain group of men drool in appreciation...But...

For some reason...Her appearance seems familiar, as if she looks similar to somebody. Just a coincidence?

"I am Tohyama Kinji."

Since she had already told me her name, I returned the favor.

After all, I don't wish to make anybody think that Japanese people don't have any manners.

"Aiya! Aiyayayayayaya!"[2]

The girl, who had called herself Koko, shouted to the heavens exaggeratedly.

What. Is there something wrong with my name?

At any rate, you've been asking for trouble from the beginning.

"...Hey. Why do you smell like alcohol? Children shouldn't drink."

Seeing me lecture her, pointing at the gourd, Koko's eyes widened, saying,

"--I'm not a child! Koko turned 14 yesterday!"

Buwaa! She yelled, a strong smell of alcohol intermixed with her breath.

She's probably drunk. I heard that China didn't have any age restrictions on the consumption of alcohol.

But...this kind of conversation...Why is it that this feels kind of familiar?

"I can't help it, I'll just have to test you a little. If you leave the princess, some painful things will happen immediately."

Apparently not too familiar with Japanese, Koko said these incomprehensible things--

*Whoosh, Whoosh*...As if stumbling, she fell down...before she did a flip, *Pa!*

She suddenly charged towards me!

--This kind of reaction--

It's exactly the same as when I first met Aria! How unlucky can I be!

"--!'

Reflexively, I reached my hand out, and Koko's feet--twisted around my hand.

Wh-what is this? This movement. It's random, as if the movement itself is drunk--

It completely nullified my subconscious counterattack.

Koko, like a snake, slithered around my body, *whoosh*. She got onto my back.

And she brought a rope around both sides of my neck...? No, she's using both of her twin tails.

"Hehe!"

Laughing in my ear, Koko even twisted her two legs around my neck.

*Twist...Twist!*

--Ne-neck--

It's being clamped. If this were Judo, it would be called a choke.

(This kind of clamping technique...exists...!)

The choke I mentioned earlier is an unarmed technique where, once it is tightened, it's impossible to loosen.

And, this isn't an infraction of the rules. Not only her limbs, but her hair, it's an abnormally complex stance, almost like a coiled rope.

This girl is an exchange student--where did she hear about 'Water Tossing'?

"Hehe, how is it? You can't do anything, can you? A man that cannot do anything, is a man that nobody needs. I'm going to kill you."

"Kill...me?"

Breaking out into a cold sweat, I forced those words out.

It may look like this, but I'm a Butei. If I got a 100 yen coin for every time I heard the word 'kill' in a threat, I'd be able to have a mansion built by now.

But, this isn't just a threat!

(Sh-she really wants to kill me!)

--Only now did that electric feeling of true danger really run through my body.

This is a problem beyond the rules of "Water Tossing".

Panicked, I reached my hand towards my Beretta--but at that moment, I noticed that even my limbs were also being restricted by the girl's legs' vice-like grip.

"--!"

If one wants to initiate Aru=Kata, they have to be at striking distance.

And like this, when I'm at zero-distance, drawn into grappling--arms restricted, making it impossible to resist--it's a position where guns cannot be used.

It's the exact opposite as the fight with Reki, where she was out of range, unable to be touched by my bullets. This is a battle where guns have been rendered ineffective by the sheer lack of distance.

(Da-dangerous...Really...!)

Inside me, whose consciousness was slowly going hazy--

This tight feeling, being pressed so closely against a female body, which was so much like Aria's, as well as the feeling of getting choked to death melded together, *Thump*...creating an irregular heartbeat.

(Th-this is...)

It's different from normal, but I'm afraid that this is...Hysteria Mode.

And, this is the Hysteria Mode that Nii-san had told me about, the Hysteria Mode when dying.

Hysteria Agonizante.

(I-I've been pressured into such a place!?)

But, in the last of the last, this awakening was my trump card.

Counter-choke techniques started appearing clearly in my mind, which had been panicking all along.

Standing out was one line of thought: Performing a wall hit on Koko, biting her hand viciously, attempting to harm her--

Bad...This girl, wrong.

My mind in Hysteria Mode revealed the reality that that would just make the situation more severe.

This isn't a feasible method of releasing a choke.

"Hihi! Shanshikeikeihou!"[3]

...*Creak*...*Creak*...

(M-my cervical vertebrae...!)

My cervical vertebrae is about to be snapped!

A creak rang out from my neck area, and my consciousness was becoming more and more hazy.

My line of sight started to flicker on and off, my eyes couldn't see anything anymore.

--The corresponding action is too late. The opponent is a girl, so it's impossible for me to choose that method.

Even though I'm in Hysteria Mode, there's no way for me to do anything...!

I-I'm done...!

--*GRROARR!*

Immediately after the roar blasted towards us, *Ba!*

Koko suddenly released her hair and limbs.

--*Thud*

I sprawled forward, subconsciously raising my head.

In front of me, Haimaki, who appeared to have just smashed Koko off me, was standing there, his hair and tail completely on end, growling softly.

My neck...hadn't snapped. That was really in the nick of time. But, golden stars were still appearing in my field of vision, and I felt dizzy.

--*Tap, Tap*

Koko turned a flip in the air agilely, retreating to another side of the alley.

"The dog that princess is raising is far more useful than you."

Afterward, she made a face at me.

"I am, "Ten-Thousand Arms" Koko--"The Warrior of Ten-Thousand Techniques" Kinchi, 0 points."

Saying this, she waved, as if saying goodbye.

"You have to study. Afterwards, I'll test you again. Goodbye."

Reaching the edge of the corner...she disappeared.

And I--could only gaze at that back, in a daze.

What on Earth is this...that started happening yesterday.

Could you please keep terrible misfortune to one day?

Sniped by Reki, losing to the hands of an exchange student...Isn't that two defeats in a row?


Inside Butei High, where turning swords and guns on each other is a perfectly acceptable and common thing, things like attempted murder are outright ignored, a regrettable reality.

Even if I reported: "I was nearly killed by an exchange student in an alley," to a teacher, I'd definitely have: "If you lost, then go challenge them again!" shouted at me while I'm getting kicked out of their office.

The Butei watchword for this is, 'Defeat from the Bottom'--It's recognized as a humilation defeat in Butei High, a defeat where one is beaten by his underclassmen.

The opponent was a middle school student, and also a girl, who are weaker than men by default. Also, I lost to her unarmed, this was a humiliation deep within mere humiliation. Were I to make an analogy to Mahjong, it would be similar to the humiliation of Yakuman defeat.

I don't care about my reputation within the school, but if this gets spread around to everybody, I'll just be a laughingstock.

So, I kept my mouth shut, pretending that it never happened.

But--

(The feel of Koko's battle ability...seems to be on the same level as Aria's, if not higher...)

I heard that the training that Assault Butei go through in China is wholly different from the training they go through in Japan.

--Once they discover a person with some sort of special attribute, the Butei High there will initiate a special training program.

If that attribute is guns, then they will train them with guns. If it's knives, then they'll be trained with knives. Nothing else. It seems that, using this method, China trained up several Butei with these differing skills.

Which is to say, that girl from just now was probably trained in martial arts from a very young age, a true expert.

(She's Chinese, isn't she...If it was her, that's how she'd say it, right?)

I thought, looking to the side, towards Reki, who had finished the parade, changing back to her sailor uniform...

Already completely released from Hysteria Mode, I was just relaxing in one of Odaiba's main streets.

Why am I here, you ask. That's because, I want to get something to eat.

Under continuous pressure just now and wanting to vent my frustrations by stuffing myself, I went to the school cafeteria, but upon my entrance, I was surrounded by a group of...abnormal boys.

Apparently taking Reki as a Goddess and worshiping her, they started shouting things like: "Please tell me about the daily life of Reki-sama!" "Is her face cute when sleeping!?" "DIE!", all directed at me.

Well, which is to say, it was the situation that Muto had warned me about this morning. Taking advantage of the rules of Water Tossing.

And beside me, whose neck and limbs were being twisted in impossible directions, Reki, standing there with the Dragunov on her back, appeared to have decided not to interfere. And Haimaki used his back leg to scratch his ears, yawning loudly. Hey, you guys acting like this...I'm really going to burst into tears, you know?

In the search of another place where I could eat--since the convenience store and family restaurant had been occupied by Reki's fan club, I had given up the thought of eating on Academy Island...and like this, I went all the way to Odaiba.

Well..there's no classes today anyways, since it's the opening ceremony.

Because of the Japanese Early Summer Phenomenon - Typhoon, the wind in the street was a little strong, but the weather was pretty good. Just strolling down the streets like this is a pretty good way of relaxing one's heart.

But...

"......"

Even though she had been so talkative last night, Reki-sama had said nearly nothing today.

And, I had a vague feeling that she didn't seem very happy. She was expressionless as ever, though, so I had no way of confirming it.

As I walked and thought about this sniper girl--

*Fyuu*

A low breeze brushed by us--*Flutter*

Reki's rouge pleated skirt flipped up in an extremely dangerous manner.

"...!"

But, Reki didn't care at all.

Since she hadn't tried to resist the wind at all, the snow-white curve of her thigh--and a military-used band of velcro, as well as the bayonet tucked inside it, was exposed, for all to see.

It had gone up, but it was still barely in the safe zone.

"Hey. Reki...by your feet. Be careful."

I pointed it out to this robot girl, who apparently, was not programmed with any embarrassment or shyness functions.

Reki scanned by her feet, as if she was looking out for a landmine...

"...?"

She raised her head, looking at me. It didn't seem like she knew what I was trying to bring to her attention.

She's impossible...really, I have to think of a solution quickly.

Scared that another gust of wind would blow, I--ran into Odaiba Water City.

"Haimaki, sit. Wait here."

Following me, Reki made Haimaki wait by the automatic doors.

Hey, is it really all right if you leave a wolf in this kind of place?

"..."

I glanced at Reki out of the corner of my eye, who was following me into the stores with quick strides.

I'm enveloped in all sorts of problems, but right now, the biggest problem is the matter of Reki's Sniper Restriction.

If I don't think of something to solve it, I won't be able to handle the other problems.

(...'Lima Syndrome'...)

The trump card of extricating myself from Reki's clutches--'Lima Syndrome'.

For the sake of its success, I have to establish a good relation with Reki. But, if I want to establish a relationship, the receiving end of the relationship has to be a person.

Which is to say, I have to humanize Robot Reki.

But, no matter how I think about this, it's a huge difficulty in itself.

I have no idea what to do.

But, I have to do it.

Otherwise, I'll have to spend the rest of my days together with Reki.

Even if I have to make things up on the spot, I have to force the initiation of Plan: Humanizing Reki.


Reaching the fifth floor, the one dedicated to restaurants and the like, I, thinking that I could eat anything, as long as I could fill myself up, asked,

"Is there something you want to eat, Reki?"

After all, you'll definitely answer with "I don't care."

"I don't care."

See?

Well, I already predicted it.

"Then, let's go eat ramen. The ramen sold at Shintojyou is really good."

Community, companion, friends. The meaning of such is captured in the English word 'Company', which, linguistically, originally meant 'eating bread together'. Like this, eating together is an important action that aids the building of a human relationship.

If all goes well, I might be able to use the meal as an opportunity over which we can reconcile, leading the solution into a new dawn of hope.

So, I brought Reki--

-to Odaiba's best ramen shop, the ever-crowded Shintojyou.


Sitting opposite Reki at a small table, thinking of scoring some points with her, I said,

"I'll treat today."

And then saying to a waiter who had come forth,

"I want one bowl of Char Siu noodles. And for her, the most expensive thing on the menu."

Having come here many times before, I ordered, relying on the memory embedded deep in my brain, not even needing to flip through the menu.

Well, there's 3000 yen inside my wallet. I shouldn't have a problem, budget-wise.

...*Flicker*, I looked at Reki using my peripheral vision, gauging her reaction.

"......"

Only to see that she, like a statue, was sitting like a death row victim on the chair opposite me, completely still. Her head was facing forward, her eyes seemingly looking downwards a little...But what they were looking at was not me, but an empty void...Scary. Those eyes really look like a doll's.

Anyways, can't you at least take your headphones off when we enter a restaurant?

(But...Reki really doesn't fit in, in this kind of loud and busy shop. It doesn't suit well with her at all.)

Even if I'm the one who brought her here.

Helplessly, I rested my chin in the palm of my hand, looking out upon the sight of Tokyo Bay.

Above the multitude of ships, leaving several white trails on the surface of the sparkling, blue water, were seagulls, lightly flying around Empty Island, where there's a billboard for the musical, 'The Wizard of Oz' had been constructed.

This panorama, this kind of relaxation, it's so comfortable.

In my mind, I thought that, if Reki were to be cast in 'The Wizard of Oz', she would definitely be the heartless tin man. Thinking of those things, which were of no importance, I drifted off into a daydream.

"..."

"..."

Completely wordless, we just sat there, waiting for the food to arrive.

Whenever I teamed up with a girl in a Butei High activity--my personality is such that, I would always be this silent.

Because, I have nothing to talk about with girls.

(...This kind of silence is kind of tiring, though.)

In light of that, while the person in front of me is a girl, she is--Reki.

Because she's just sitting there, just like a tin man, I don't need to pay attention to anything.

Putting it that way, Reki...for me, might be, a rare and treasured girl.

But, the image of Aria, who is boyish as well, another person that I didn't need to take care even when she's around, invaded another corner of my mind.

Well, it's true that conversation is a fundamental part of building a good relationship, but there's an old saying, haste makes waste. If I talk about denpa things like Ulus or Virus or whatever, in this kind of public place, I'll just be taken for a lunatic. So, the fact that I can relax here, gazing upon the ocean and the sky, healing my scarred soul from all the trauma it had gone through, was indeed, a good thing.

"--Sorry to keep you waiting!"

A familiar voice jarred me, making my head slip off my hand and smash into the table.

I looked up--

"Fu-Fuuma!?"

Lezzad freshman, Fuuma Hina.

My female kouhai, wearing an apron as part of a waitress outfit, was holding a tray, delivering the ramen.

This girl...I was wondering why she didn't come to the opening ceremony, but it looks like she was doing this kind of training.

"Master, I have delivered the objects you have ordered. Please, eat well."

A broad smile on her face, Fuuma, *Tap*, placed the bowl of char siu noodles in front of me.

Aria06 087.jpg

...What is this...The char siu had been made into 卍 shapes. Were you trying to make shurikens? That was...amazingly pointless. With this, the mass became smaller.

Fuuma apparently thought that she had done something wonderful, and she had an expression on her face which was begging, "Master, praise me!" With that expression, she's probably expecting me to say something like, "Ooohh, that's amazing, Fuuma. You're an excellent ninja," right?

Well, I'll just ignore it.

*Pa* In front of me, who was snapping open the chopsticks unhappily--*Thud*

Fuuma placed a container of ramen onto the table. It seemed that the gravitational pull was such that Fuuma's ponytail hung in the air as it thudded to the flat surface.

"What...what on Earth is this..."

The ramen...was served in a pot. And that pot was so big that somebody could easily fit their head inside it.

"This is what Reki-dono ordered, the store's best, the most expensive item--Super pot ramen."

"...Hey! This isn't an amount that a human being can eat! Even an elephant wouldn't be able to finish this! This shouldn't be on the menu!"

"--It is. This is an order that was put on offer this month."

*Flip* On the menu that Fuuma had opened...

"New item - Super pot ramen! 5000 yen, *But, if it can be finished within 30 minutes, it's free!*"

Clipped in between the pages was a thick piece of paper, newly written.

Hey, this is 5...5000 yen!

Then...Then, aren't I about to eat a meal that I can't pay for!?

"Wait, today, I only brought three thousand..."

Not even sparing me a glance, Fuuma--as if exposing her true personality as a ninja, she smirked, turning towards Reki,

"Kukuku....As master's close friend for more than four years, I will be the one to lead the assault this time! I specially suggested these rations, which will definitely bring harmony between you two--this is only a small challenge! Then, 30 minutes, starts now! Ready, set, go!"

Fuuma's ponytail, called chonmage in Japan, swished through the air, and she pressed the button on the stopwatch.

"...!"

I--turned my head towards Reki, who was nearly completely hidden by the pot.

"..."

*Pachin*

The disposable chopsticks, she tore them apart.

Yo-you're going to fight? Challenging this...this colossal enemy, Super pot ramen.

And, why did I just hallucinate that a light gleamed in Reki's eyes?

"..."

Reki extended the chopsticks, clipping one strand of noodles.

*Chew*

She bit the tip of the noodle.

And, *Shuuuuuu*...*Shuuu*...

She ate it.

She just ate the noodles.

And, *Chew*. *Shuuuu*

Strand by strand, she ate without pause.

"..."

Under my fixated stare, Reki continued to use that unique method of eating to draw the noodles into her mouth.

Am-amazing. There's no interval at all between one strand and the next. Was ramen something that you could eat with such small movements?

Before I knew it--

Reki had eaten all the noodles in the pot.

In a mere 5 minutes.

"..."

Afterward--

Reki, *Shuu*

*Chew*

Used her chopsticks to eat a prawn, part of the side dish.

And, *Shuu, Pa*

She ate a quail egg.

*Shuu, Pa* *Shuu, Pa* *Shuu Pa*

Shitake, cuttlefish, mushrooms...

All the side dishes in the pot were being devoured, without so much as a break.

"Wh...Wh-what...what is this...?"

Fuuma looked at the stopwatch in shock. To tell the truth, it doesn't surprise me that she's stunned.

Because...just as the 10 minute mark passed, Reki had...eaten all the noodles and side dishes inside that enormous pot.

And while Fuuma was watching, so it's impossible for her to claim that Reki cheated.

Uu...

Seeing Reki seem to struggle, lifting the enormous pot....I reached out, helping her bring it off the table...

Reki placed those small lips by the edge of the pot...

Ku.

Ku...Ku.

She...She's drinking the soup...!

Ku...Ku.

A-are you alright? You're not going to die, right? If you don't do this, I'll have a criminal record, but your life is, ever so slightly, more important. Don't force yourself.

But, ignoring my worried thoughts...

The soup...was completely finished...!

Reki had completely finished the enormous pot of ramen, which even a Sumo wrestler would have to undergo a siege with.

"--According to my senses, as of this moment, 10 minutes and 47 seconds has passed since Fuuma-san started the stopwatch."

Saying this while placing the pot back on the table, Reki's expression was as always, completely unchanged.

Am...Amazing...

I never knew, never would have thought that you could eat so much! No, this isn't a matter of being able to eat. Are you fostering a black hole in your stomach?

"...Ah...Ahhhh...!"

Her gaze flickering between the stopwatch and the pot, Fuuma screamed with a broken voice.

And, *Shh* Dressed like a waitress, she flopped down on the floor, right there and then.

"Th...This is a dream...This is...a nightmare...!"

...I understand, Fuuma.

You are still a freshman. You haven't been desensitized to this kind of abnormal scene yet.

But, as students of Butei High, it is definite that supernatural people like Vlad or Sherlock will one day, appear in front of you. At that time, you can't be surprised when those abnormal things flash to life before your eyes. Before that, you have to train yourself to get used to these paranormal sights.

With that, while I was thinking those senpai-like words in my heart...

I felt a wave of relief wash over me, since I would not be counted among the ranks of ex-offenders. I held onto my heart, well...more like my wallet, keeping it close.


The Butei threefold punishment. Such words exist.

That may be a really extreme expression, but if a Butei is caught breaking the law, he receives a heavier punishment than a normal person...using just now as an example, if I really didn't have enough money to pay the bill, I would have received threefold punishment.

Having escaped punishment by a thread, I, having seen the result, used the money that would have been spent on Reki's free meal to buy fish sausages for Haimaki.

I ripped off the packaging, giving them to Haimaki, who was waiting at the door obediently...Ooh. He wagged his tail furiously, gulping it down.

He looks pretty happy. So, he likes eating fish sausages? That's something to take note of.

Accompanying me, Reki, whose appearance, for some reason, hadn't changed at all, although she had just eaten a gigantic pot of ramen, and I boarded the light rail, returning to Academy Island. We had just stepped onto the platform when another gust of strong wind blew.

Out of hand, I'll tell everybody this. As long as it is a Butei registered Butei dog, then it can ride trains, buses and other forms of public transportation. I can't be sure if the same applies for wolves, though.

On the desolate platform, *Fuah*--

Reki's skirt was blown upwards by the wind again, and I violently twisted my head to the side.

Hey...Can't you use your hand to hold it down, or maybe just turn such that you're in a safe direction? You're a girl, you know!

Because this robot girl, who had shown no signs of being humanized, was dangerous, in terms of Hysteria Mode, I made her walk in front...

Reki, Haimaki, and I formed a line, with Reki in front of me, and Haimaki behind me. As we walked down the stairs, *Tap*.

Reki suddenly stood still.

That gaze was fixated upon something that appeared to have flickered on the platform of the stairs we were descending--the shadow of some unknown person.

"...?"

Nearly colliding with Reki, I slowed down, surprised--*Thud*

But, Haimaki, following me from behind, smashed into the back of my knee, forcing it to buckle violently.

Which is to say, a situation of multiple collisions.

"...Oh..."

No way of stopping myself, I charged down the platform helplessly, as if pushing Reki, who had turned around, down.

Under the force of my shove, Reki too fell down the stairs...

*Thud*...My back smashed into the wall midway up the stairs.

Because my face appeared to be pressed against Reki's head, I had been saved from a concussion.

...Phew.

And just having letting out a sigh, taking a deep breath, I--

-couldn't help but widen my eyes in shock, having deeply inhaled Reki's mint-like scent.

"--!"

Th-the position right now...

I-It's too dangerous, isn't it!? This?

...I am one head taller than Reki.

And as such, my face was buried in Reki's hair, without so much as a word of consent--

I thrust my head away hurriedly, only to see Reki's gem-like irises gaze upon me from an extremely close distance, confirming my safety.

"...!"

And my hand--

-Just now, reflexively, for the sake of preventing from falling, was grabbing her slender shoulders, as if I was embracing them.

Because of this, Reki's body was leaning forward slightly...

Th-this...isn't this...

Exactly like an intimate couple, taking advantage of the shadows and the lack of people!?

And, hadn't I pushed Reki violently just now, making it appear as if I wanted to do something...!?

If it was Aria, at that moment, I would definitely be on the receiving end of a flying high-kick, hurtling back onto the platform. But, Reki was letting herself be embraced, not putting up any sort of resistance.

Reki's soft, slender shoulders were completely in my grasp.

That face, as beautiful as a carving, was directly in front of my eyes.

And those pink lips were only a few centimeters from mine--

(...Hysteria, Mode...!)

That single word invading my panicked mind, I checked my blood flow, extremely agitated.

It's OK...? Isn't this dangerous...!?

Ah, ah...? It's alright.

What a relief. I may not know why, but I hadn't transformed into Hysteria Mode.

Meeting Reki's gaze, I sighed discreetly...

--*Pata*

Suddenly, something fell on the mid-portion of the stairs, sending out a sound.

A position roughly five meters on my left.

I turned my head, looking towards the source of the noise, looking down the stairs...

A crepe.

...Fallen on the floor.

That crepe, cream and some sort of bean stuffing--was visible from a part which was half bitten off--curled up into a peach shaped, completely white bun.

Which is to say, that's a miniature peach bun, right?

Peach bun crepe, huh?

There really are many different types of crepes in this world.

And, someone who's willing to eat something so distasteful must be someone who loves peach buns.

--It must be--

It must be!?

"--!"

My heart jumping into my throat, I lightly...turned my gaze...

Towards the shoe of the person who had dropped that peach bun...a slender ankle, wearing a black sock...continuing to look up....over there...

"......!"

Frozen in a position of walking while eating peach bun crepes, I thought that she had been petrified...Kanzaki H. Aria was there!

Those big eyes were opened wide, completely fixated upon the scene where I had pushed Reki to the wall, embracing her.

And Aria, apparently trying to reboot her brain, which had crashed upon seeing this 'Terrible Scene', had entered stone-mode.

"......!"

And, the same went for me.

Why, in this kind of place--were we seen by Aria? As expected of me, guaranteed to be followed by misfortune.

Aria, I, and Reki, who had been completely still the whole time.

As if in a portrait, the three of us stood still, stood silent--

"But, but, but...is it true that there is a JC that can match Aria in Aru=Kata?"

As she spoke, the sides of her mouth were smeared with cream as she ate a strawberry crepe...Inquesta's Mine Riko mounted the stairs.

And--she noticed Reki and I.

"UWWOOOOOOOOMUGUMUGUOAH--!?"

Her hair, fluttering on both sides of her head, flew upwards. Completely shocked.

Aria06 099.jpg

...But, you know, you're still using both your hands to stuff what remains of the crepe in your mouth while you're in that shocked state. Right now.

"We-well done, Ki-kun! Despite the fact that Rekyu is an amazingly difficult character route that can't be unlocked until your second playthrough! You're already in the midst of a fiery, passionate kiss! Zgyun! Don! Don!"

Abnormally excited, Riko stuck her hands into her blouse, making what appeared to be punching movements from inside. What kind of movement is that?

And also, by Rekyu, do you mean Reki? As always, you don't hesitate or feel the slightest bit of apprehension when giving someone a nickname--as I was thinking that, Riko's antics could be said to have helped, as I felt myself relax a little.

As I realized that I was no longer in a frozen state, *Thud! Clank!*

Shouting "Don!" and messing around, Riko twirled into Aria, their legs nearly going vertical, they fell onto the floor violently.

Apparently freed from her frozen state as well, Aria, *Thud!*, jumped to her feet--

--Onigawara! With that kind of face, she glared this way.

Sc-scary!

"Ari--"

"That's enough!"

Uu! Baring her canines, Aria brought her arms down violently, cutting me short. She didn't give me any chance to explain.

"You, yo-yo, you've said enough! I knew that Idiot Kinji was somebody like this! That's right, that's right! You, yo-you! Lo-love, you love these kinds of quiet, re-reserved, beautiful people. Ju-just like Sh-Shi-Shirayuki!"

--Wh-why is she bringing up Shirayuki at a time like this!?

Below me, Aria averted her gaze from my face, which was twisted up in protest--

"A-and with her, yo-you, with her, with that kind of..." ....*Sniff, sniff*..."--I-I'm sorry! That's why, it's enough! Just shut up!"

As if she had nothing to say, she swallowed her words, *Pa!*

Glaring at me, frozen again.

"Besides that--Reki!"

*Whoosh!*

Aria bared her canines, pointing at Reki.

"You..really did it, didn't you...!? I saw it on the school-net website! You, without even refusing my offer...submitted an application to have a two-man team with Kinji...!"

What...?

Reki...already submitted an application to be in a two-man team with me?

I never heard about this beforehand...

"--That's 'Team Stealing'! An infraction which should be punished with holes!"

Facing the furious Aria--

Reki did not respond.

In Butei High, although 'Team Formation' is normally done in the latter part of September--according to the rules set down after Caravan I. However, in reality, students will form rough teams far before the actual event.

But...especially for Aria and I, students who are partners, one of us registering to be a member of another team is taboo.

And it appears...that that is exactly what Reki did.

"I--as for the ro-romance between Kinji and Reki, that kind of thing...I do-don't care at all! It's true, it's true, I really--don't care! It's true, so...! So, I don't care about the relationship between you two! I don't care, I don't care! It's not something I care about! But--I won't forgive you for stealing my partner! I'm the one that's tuning Kinji!"

Tuning?

Could you please stop that way of speaking...Can't you see that Riko's eyes are sparkling again?

Having been forced to shut up, I protested ineffectually, in my heart.

"Aria--"

Beside me, Reki said that, completely toneless. But, that voice made me feel as if she had an abnormal resolve.

"--What are you to Kinji-san?"

Ah...

That tone...this isn't good. Things are about to get messy.

I don't know why, but that sentence from just now seemed to raise an atmosphere, full of tension, as if it was a 'Declaration of War'.

"Wh-wh-wh...wh, what, what, wh-what, what did you say...th-that's..!"

I'm not sure if she understood Reki's words, but Aria, her hands trembilng, pointed at me.

"No-nothing. That thing is just my partne--idiot!"

Hey, Aria.

You know, nobody could understand your overexcited words from just now. Your eyes are spinning. Well, you probably wanted to say, "That thing is an idiot," anyways.

"--I am Kinji-san's fiancé."

Reki answered directly.

Riko immediately gasped with shock, going "Fuooahhh!" Aria seemed like she had been shot in the stomach, and with an "Uu!", she doubled over.

"High...Getting engaged in high school..."

*Shh, Shhhh*

Seeming as if...she was carrying some sort of deep understanding in her eyes, Aria glanced to the side, lifting her torso.

"That...is just playing pretend...!"

An overwhelming feeling that she was doing her best was radiating off Aria.

Even though I'm not sure what she's doing her best at.

"--This is not a game. This is serious. Aria-san. I hope that you can stay away from Kinji-san from now on. After this, Kinji...will stay in my room, just like last night. He will stay with me throughout the day, and we shall sleep together at night."

"Serious" "Stay in my room, just like last night" "Sleep together". Under the continuous barrage of Reki's words, Aria's expressions flickered through "Awaa!" "Stop it!" "Please stop!" one by one.

Hey, Reki...Stop saying things that can be misunderstood so easily!

Aria's already thinking some weird thoughts, and her face is turning all red!

"I understand, Aria-san and Kinji-san trust each other."

Reki continued to speak, as if she was following through with her furious assault,

"--But, that is not love."

"Lo, lo, lo-lo-lo-lo-lo...!?"

Shouting with a voice like that of a chicken, Aria had entered a mode where she could not say the syllable, 「い」.[4]

No, it's fine if you don't say it. Don't say it.

If you're going to react this way to all of Reki's denpa words, this will never end.

"Lo-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo----Kinji!"

As if forcing herself to ignore Reki's words, she glared at me with a face of a demon.

"Wh-what are you going to do! Are you going to--be in a group with Reki!? Is that your plan!?"

Not letting me say a word, calling me an idiot, always throwing a tantrum like a kid, I--under the accumulated pressure of Reki, Team Formation, the exchange student,

-went "Hmmph," pursing my lips.

No...

Wrong. It's not only that. Actually...

"--That kind of thing has nothing to do with you, right?"

What did I say--?

Something akin to pouring oil on a fire.

"In the first place, I'm preparing to withdraw from Butei High next year. Teams, partners, whatever, those things don't matter to me at all. Also, once--"

Kanae-san's trial is over, you're going to go back to London.

But, this shouldn't be something that I should say in front of Reki and Riko.

And, no matter what...

I was not willing to say it.

I was not willing to utter those words. Not willing to confirm the reality of Aria's approaching farewell.

I did not know why, nor had I any wish to know why.

"Aria. So what if I'm in a team with you? That kind of team, about to split and part their own ways, is meaningless."

"Wrong! Even if they're apart, a team is a team! As long as it's registered in IADA, they can help each other without restrictions, for eternity! Even if they're scattered, the proof of their companionship will remain for all eternity--"

"Whether or not that kind of thing remains, matters not the slightest to me!"

I could not help but raise my voice.

Aria.

Since you're about to disappear from my side--

I will not agree to something like 'making memories'.

As such, you can return to your home country with no regrets. Tokyo and London are on opposite sides of the Earth. As such, there is no way that we will be able to help each other.

You are going to disappear. From my side.

Since that is the case, do not try to leave any lingering memories.

"It doesn't really matter, does it? Fighting together with you was a thing of the past. Now--"

Saying this, I halted my words.

Because--

-With heavy footsteps, as if kicking her feet into the ground, Aria walked towards me.

"~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~"

Unable to do what she wanted, I appeared to have enraged Aria until she had reached her detonation point--wordlessly, she walked towards me, preparing to resort to violence, just like a child.

As I tensed my body in reflex, about to be struck by Aria...

*Shh*--Reki came between us.


--*Pa!*


"--!"

Aria, Riko, and I. Everybody widened their eyes in shock.

Reki--

-struck Aria across the face.

--*Shhh*

Under this sudden assault, immediately going into counter mode, Aria--

-retreated, jumping backwards, bumping into Riko, who had just turned back, *Thud*.

Landing on the ground heavily.

"...Kinji-san. Please retreat, this place is dangerous."

Reki, her tone as normal, stood in front of me.

"...!"

Having had her partner stolen by Reki, who she considered her friend, and being treated like a dangerous object, Aria...lowered her hand, which had been rubbing her face--

"...Nothing matters anymore..."

Her eyes, hidden in the shadow of her fringe, and unsteadily...she stood up.

"Reki...How coincidental. Today is the day of 'Water Tossing'. We can use unarmed combat...we can go all out--"

Aria brought her arms close, assuming a fighting stance.

It was full of aggressiveness, almost as if she was a tiger intimidating her prey.

Sh-she really wants to fight.

"Added to that, earlier, an exchange student broke the rules, and as we were passing by, she initiated Aru=Kata! In the end, there was no clear victory, and she ran away...Right now, I'm in a really bad mood...!"

An exchange student able to match Aria in Aru=Kata!?

"A-Aria...was that exchange student someone who called herself "The Warrior of Ten-thousand techniques"...How do I say this...someone that looked like you?"

Thinking back to the time where I had nearly been killed by Koko, I asked, agitated--

"Shut up! And, I'm not that small!"

--Isn't that obviously a denial?

Was Aria also attacked by that exchange student from Hong Kong, Koko?

Then, in that light...not only is she a martial artist, but she's also an expert that can even match Aria in marksmanship?

U-unbelievable. That is completely unbelievable.

"--Riko, Get my back."

Aria, raised her head, speaking to Riko, who was at her back.

Only to see that Haimaki had circled to the other side of the platform at some point in time.

He had moved to a location where he could catch the two Quadras--Aria and Riko, between Reki and himself, in a pincer-like movement.

I see. The reason Riko turned back was because she had noticed him.

*Grrrrrrr*...Riko, standing in front of Haimaki, who was growling like that,

"--Kufufu. Riko is a kitty lover, but Riko likes dogs too, you know."

Turning her head slightly, she let loose a vicious smile, full of battle fervor.

Riko's unarmed combat, huh? Now that I think about it, this is the first time I had seen her fight like this--

"Kufu!"

Laughing happily, Riko moved into a stance, her right hand above, her left hand below.

Afterwards, she bent her knees at right angles, *Thud!*

Her left leg kicked out towards Haimaki, threatening him.

That is--Kung Fu. That's unexpected.

And what's more, it's the style most commonly seen in Hong Kong movies, Eight Trigrams Palm.

This is a style that was separated into many schools, and the variations of the technique in this stance were one of many.

"..."

And Reki was standing there, completely unafraid of Aria's intimidation.

Amazing. That bravery.

(But...)

I frowned.

Because Reki...didn't assume a stance.

She was just staring straight at Aria.

"..."

*Pa!* Facing Aria, who had pounced like a tiger--

Reki didn't resist at all--*Thud*

Like a flower, carelessly plucked off its stem, she was knocked down with ease. She didn't even defend herself.

*Groar!*

As if trying to help Reki, Haimaki bounded over--but his tail was caught by Riko.

"Ahaha! Rekyu! Riko will be taking this child! Riko will take this fur!"[5]

*Bch!* Sweeping Haimaki off his back legs with a leg sweep, Riko--

-Haimaki, turning to look at her, swung his front paw, tracing an arc in the air towards her *Bch!*

Swinging her right hand in a huge circle, she deflected the paw, forcing him to sprawl out onto the ground.

And, *Thud!* Jumping onto his back, she completely sealed off his movements.

"...!"

On the other side, sitting down on Reki, who was lying face-up, Aria--

-her eyes widened, she was staring down at Reki, who hadn't resisted...No, couldn't resist would be more accurate.

I too was shocked.

(...Reki can't fight unarmed...!?)

It's not that Reki 'had no stance'.

She 'did not know' what a stance was.

In the first place, as a sniper, she's an expert at ranged warfare.

There's no chance that she would intentionally move close to the enemy.

So, unarmed combat isn't a mandatory class in Snipe, and Reki's movements completely exposed the fact that she was a complete amateur.

"Aria, stop it! You're just picking on the weak!"

I shouted.

But, Aria's fist, raised high up in the air, turned towards Reki, who had been knocked down as easily as a normal high school student...was not put down.

As if trying to contain her own rage, which was threatening to overflow, she gritted her teeth.

"~~~~~~~~~!"

She couldn't bring herself to let the blow fall. Reki was too weak. No, that was not the only reason. Aria doesn't wish to hit Reki. Because, she has always recognized Reki as her friend.

Aria--different from me, who intentionally tries to stay aloof and away from society--cannot make friends.

That may be because of her maverick-like personality, but it's also because her strength is too amazing, making it hard for the students around her to keep up.

And only Reki--although her special study is different--could fit her.

During the bus-jacking in April, she had helped too, and when Aria left home because of the fight about Shirayuki, the person she went to was Reki as well.

So, she couldn't bring herself to hit Reki--

--*Shh!*

At that moment, Aria suddenly bent backwards, dodging a flash of silver. Leaping backwards and turning a flip, she distanced herself from Reki.

*Shh...*

From Aria's twin-tails, which had just been grazed by a bayonet--

One strand, two strands of hair, just cut, floated into the air.

"...Reki...Hey...!"

Reki had drawn the bayonet hidden beneath her skirt.

On the day of Water Tossing, unarmed combat is the only thing that is allowed with no holds barred...!

".....!"

Reki brushed the Dragunov off her shoulder, *Shhh--Click!*

Like a parade baton, she rolled the gun around, affixing the bayonet onto it.

Reki lowered her stance, wielding the Dragunov, which has been assembled in an instant.

That stance--it's an ancient bayonet technique, but it's quite effective.

It's probably about twice the power of just now.

"Reki...!"

Seeing Reki, who was ignoring Water Tossing's rules, Aria hesitated, undecided on whether she too should draw her blades--

*Tap*--!

Taking advantage of that momentary opening, Reki charged towards Aria, *Kch!*

She feinted at Aria's thigh, forcing Aria to dodge backwards--

"--!"

*Kch! Kch Kch!*

With terrifying grace, the bayonet slashed towards Aria without pause. The targets were, wrist, abdomen, inner thigh. It did not deviate from this pattern, and the blade, as if drawn by an inexorable gravity, continued to pierce towards Aria's vitals.

Aria was relying on her prodigious reflexes and athletic ability, evading the bayonet's assault--but in the end, she had been chased to the wall.

"--!"

And, Aria's neck as her target--Reki performed the sharpest stab yet!

*Kcch!!*

Aria dodged the blade, her neck a hair's breadth from the blade.

And the bayonet continued, brushing past Aria's head, burying itself deep into the wall.

"...!"

This blow made Aria widen her camellia eyes in shock.

I too had lost all ability to speak.

Sealing Haimaki's movements, Riko had also opened her mouth wide, dazed, just like a manga character.

Th-that was--really filled with killing intent.

*Zcch* Drawing the bayonet out of the wall, *Shhh*, spinning the Dragunov and retreating a few steps, Reki--just as fast as she had closed in, she retreated.--And once again, she assumed that stance.

The edge of that blade was still pointing directly at Aria's neck.

*Shh* Just as Reki took a step, charging forward--

"Reki! Stop!"

Finally able to take this opportunity to speak, I shouted.

And...*Pa*

Reki became still, just like a robot, which had the cancel button on its remote pressed.

Afterward...*Spin*

Twirling the Dragunov wordlessly--her gaze still on Aria, she shouldered the rifle.

"Reki..."

Aria--

Attacked like this by Reki, who she had thought of as a friend--

"You...you..."

...Tears appeared in her eyes.

"I'm cutting all ties with you! Severing them! I will never--forgive you again! I never want to see your face again!"

Facing Reki, who was still silent, still staring at herself, Aria shouted before running away. Riko followed her.

So, just Reki and I, as well as Haimaki, were left at the station.

I...dragged Reki along, who was like a robot that had been switched off, ever since I issued the order to stop. With quick steps, I went to one of the corners of Academy Island--The artificial island's border.

We arrived at the seaside, completely devoid of life, surrounded on all sides by safety nets.

Here...I wanted to teach Reki something.

Because, those extreme actions from just now had exceeded anything my humanization plan could have possibly taken care of.

Reki sat upright at the edge of the sea, not looking in my direction.

Just, how do I put this...it looks like she's calm again.

I could feel a sense of calm radiating off her even as she battled, so saying that she's calmed down is a little strange.

"...Reki."

"Yes."

"Earlier, you wanted to kill Aria."

"Yes."

She answered me directly.

No resistance.

"Yes...you say. Why?"

"--The 'wind' ordered me to do so. It said that Kinji-san and Aria-san could not stay close."

...Wind.

That again.

This girl...she said the same thing on the night that she placed Sniper Restriction upon me. It was all because of the 'wind's' orders.

"What is this 'wind'? Could it be that that's what you're listening to with your headphones? Before, you said that you were listening to the sound of the wind."

"--Incorrect. This is just a recording of the wind of my birthplace.."

"Wind of your birthplace?...?"

"For the sake of keeping my soul in contact with the wind, I listen to it."

...This is becoming increasingly incomprehensible.

"Then, is it somebody speaking to you over the phone?"

"Incorrect."

"Then, how do you receive the orders of the wind?"

"The wind's words are projected directly into my head. From my faraway birthplace--"

...

......

Uh...

I don't want to speak ill of anybody...

But, no matter how I look at it, Reki has a social disorder--

In other words, she has the disease which is 'delusion'.

This is something I learned in Inquesta, 'I have received a prophecy from God', or 'Aliens ordered me to do this through electric waves'. Those kinds of delusions. What Reki has right now is very similar to such a thing.

But, I had also learned that one could not deny those things outright.

Because, the people in question trust those delusions with all their heart.

And...I am not a doctor.

Attempting to find a solution is futile.

First, let's leave this topic, and I'll deliver those words I want to speak to her concisely.

"Um...that. Saying this kind of thing is a little...But, don't kill people."

"Why?"

Wh...

Why, you ask?

"Why? Things that cannot be done just cannot be done. Don't kill."

"Is that an order?"

"It is. That is what is decided in Butei Law."

"I understand. Then, I will not kill."

Why is it that...

Why is it that I feel that the words I'm hearing mean that she has killed before.

Well, I won't delve into that. It's a scary thought.

(But...)

Calming down, I thought about it. I thought about Lima Syndrome, which I was using against this delusional, robot girl--

--Can I really do it?

If I have to do it like this, all by myself...it doesn't seem as if that will ever come to pass.

Then, I have to find people to help.

Thinking about this, I--

-glanced at Reki, who was hugging her knees to herself and watching the seagulls, out of the corner of my eye. I sighed.


And...that fight from just now...

Reki may be in the wrong, but Aria isn't right either.

She didn't even listen to our side of the story.

Relying on the pieces of the puzzle that she gathered from seeing the situation, she put them together herself, and formulated a misunderstanding.

That really completely exposes her weak point.

Her instincts when fighting with the enemy are amazingly acute--but she has the bad habit of always reaching an incorrect conclusion, and acting upon that flawed basis when I'm involved.

Originally, after leaning on each other throughout the many battles with I-U, the slight feeling I had that she was a good person...disappeared.

Aria is a haughty, arbitrary, violent girl, after all.


Translator's Notes and References[edit]

  1. International Armed Detectives Association (Conjecture.)
  2. Might be worth it to point out that "Aiya" is quite a used onomatopoeia in Chinese. Has the same connotation as "Oh my," or something along those lines. Also used as a sign of surprise.
  3. Lit. Twin Snake Beheading Crush. This is an extremely strange mix of Chinese and Japanese, the 双蛇 being pronounced in something like Chinese, and the 刎颈崩 using Japanese pronunciations.
  4. The Japanese word for love is, "恋", which is pronounced "こい (Koi)". Aria was spamming "こ Ko", which is also the sfx of a chicken, in the context, "ココ Koko". The missing, "い i" is what Kinji's pointing out when he says she can't say that last syllable, finishing the word.
  5. フルモッフ (Furumoffu) is used here. もふもふ (MofuMofu) is the sound effect for furry, and as such, フルモッフ is literally "Full furry." This is similar slang to the フルボッコ (Furubokko) that Riko used before.