Hidan no Aria:Volume7 Chapter2

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2nd Ammo: HURRY UP[edit]

Honestly, I should have stayed in the Hotogi shrine to watch over Reki, but Kanae-san's trial was fast approaching. And for that, there was an unconfirmed chance that the lawyers would have to speak with us, the people who had fought with I-U, face to face before the trial.

So, on the evening of that day, I left the doctors and Kazayuki to watch over Reki...

Shirayuki and I took the Sanyou Shinkansen - Toukaidou Hope 246, going to Tokyo.

"16, Car 15, Row D-E...Ah, here. It's all the way at the front, Kin-chan! Kin-chan likes the aisle seat, doesn't he? Here you go. Have this ticket."

Pushing the ticket for the aisle seat into my hands and sitting at the window seat, Shirayuki--because she had left the Hotogi, was talking with me incessantly. It seemed like she was trying to encourage me, who barely said a word, worried about Reki.

It was evident that her own heart wasn't calm either. Shirayuki is really a very firm person.

She never forgets to empathize, to be concerned for others, a really good person.

"Shirayuki, thanks a lot."

Sitting down on the aisle seat--

"Eh. Mmm, it's fine. Because--this is the first time I've ridden on the Shinkansen, I wanted to see the scenery, so it's great that I'm sitting at the window seat. On the contrary...if I wasn't riding together with Kin-chan, I would have to take the car again, so...thank you very much."

I had just said a word of thanks, yet Shirayuki's face turned red, and she waved her hands furiously.

Because I saw Shirayuki, who was putting so much effort into being cheerful, abruptly return to her normal self, I laughed softly, a small Fu escaping my lips--and Shirayuki made a "Waaa!" expression.

And, to hide her expression, her hands slapped to her cheeks...her face, looked as if she was paying her respects, went all the way down to her lap, a sort of kneeling position, and her body twisted in what seemed like agony, she looked out the window.

Wh...what are you doing...?

"Ahh...at such a short distance, I was blessed with 'Kin-chan laugh'...cool...cool, so cool...!"

While muttering what she was thinking in her heart, Shirayuki was, to put it in Riko terms, making an "excited by something moe face". The feeling of "Kyaaa".

Do you think that I can't see your face? Well, I can see it really clearly in the reflection of the window.

Rather, what's "Kin-chan laugh"? Is it that old comedian's act, Kin-chan run, the one that Muto sometimes does to pick up girls...?

While thinking about that, I reclined in the seat a little, inside the Shinkansen which had just started to move.

I rested, but, is it due to the continuous chain of events that had completely thrown my body's clock into disorder...?

Again, I could not sleep.

I was looking at the scenery outside the Shinkansen, passing by abnormally slowly...Drowsy, Drowsy...and...

...

......

.........

"While you're sleeping--I'm sorry to disturb you."

...n?

Argh. The train attendant came.

It seemed that, at some point in time, I had really fallen asleep.

"Ah...Yes?"

I showed her the train ticket, however, for some reason, sweating under the uniform cap, the train attendant...only swiftly checked the luggage rack above us and the space below our seats before leaving in a hurry.

It seemed as if she wasn't here to check our tickets.

What did she come here for? She was moving her hands like she was looking for something...well, whatever.

I looked at my watch and already, more than 30 minutes had passed since our departure.

Looking to my side, Shirayuki was also sleeping, continuing to sit upright on the seat.

She seemed to be sleeping deeply, since she didn't seem to have woken up when the train attendant came.

That's to be expected. I had caught a little sleep at Hotogi, but the reason for this was because Shirayuki had been protecting Reki and me throughout the night.

Originally a beautiful person and such, with a beautiful sleeping face as well, Shirayuki...ng...?

"...Fufu...so cute...mnya..."

With an amazingly happy face, she started sleep-talking something.

"...His eyes are exactly like Kin-chan's...ah, his nose looks like mine, doesn't it...ufufu..."

......。

What's happening inside Shirayuki's dream? I mean, before that, what does Shirayuki's dream world have to do with me? Just imagining it is terrifying.

(...I shouldn't think about it too deeply...)

I turned my back to Shirayuki's sleeping face, softly standing up from my seat.

Because I had taken a nap, my fatigue was slightly relieved, but my head was still hazy.

(I'll just go to the washroom for a little while to wash my face.)

Go through the automatic door, going to the end of Car 16...I was going to the washroom on this side of the cab.

But...

Huh? The door isn't opening.

It didn't move at all, almost like it was welded shut. What the hell is this?

Since this wasn't the toilet, I looked in from the small window, but...there was nobody inside.

(It seems that, somehow, the door was broken.)

Since I didn't have any other choice but to use the washroom at the back, I started to walk towards Car 15.

On the Oumi Shinkansen, returning to Tokyo and Chinami, Car 16 is the front most car, and Car 1 is the farthest back.

The train wasn't that crowded, and I looked around while walking--on the rows of seats, three on the right, two on the left, there were many types of passengers sitting there.

Some children playing trump. And, there was what I thought to be their guardian, a pregnant woman, her belly bulging out.

A pair of salary-men, on a business trip, were playing chess against each other with a magnetic chessboard.

Since I had learned the rules of chess from Kana, I sneaked a look as I passed by...one of the players was just using the special move, "Castling".

A movement that switches the king with the rook, "Castling" is--one of the moves I like.

Seeing the two pieces switch places as if dancing in a cycle, just looking at it was rather fun.

(Kana was really good, I didn't even win once.)

While I was reminiscing about the past, I once again started advancing up the aisle.

Ah...having inclined the chair all the way backwards, the man drinking sake was Washio Narau.

He was both an actor and a singer, although besides that, he was a person that was notorious for his excessive vulgarity.

In the middle of the row of three seats, the ones on the left and right occupied by the female assistants he had brought with him, Washio--the eyes beneath his sunglasses met mine, and he went "Tch", as if saying: "I was noticed, huh."

(...What. It's not like I'm gonna start shouting.)

Feeling rather annoyed, I passed by...walking towards the back of the car.

Ngaaah, Goo...As I was thinking about who that big guy was, snoring like that, I saw that it was Muto.

Aah, it's so embarrassing to be a Butei just like him. I'm just glad that, at least, there's nobody sitting next to him.

I pretended that he was a stranger, passing by...farthest back on Car 16, for some reason, the seats in the two-seat row had been turned--they were seats whose backs were facing this way.

Above the seat, I could see a red horn sticking out.

To be more correct, it was a hair clip whose front stuck out like a horn.

Attached to pink-blonde twin-tails, sitting there, back facing this way, was--

(...Aria...!)

That's Aria.

Next to her, I could see loose waves of tea-coloured hair, probably Riko's head.

Now that I think about it, during the field trip, Aria was saying something about meeting Riko and Muto at Kure.

These three were taking the train back to Tokyo, huh?

"Ari..."

Stepping forward, just about to tell her about Reki, my arm, Grab.

"--?"

I was grabbed by the person who was sitting in one of the seats in front of Aria and Riko, forcefully pulled into the empty seat.

Turning my head, that hand was--Assault's Shiranui Ryou.

Aria07 055.jpg

While the handsome Shiranui placed a finger in front of his mouth, making a gesture for "be quiet," his left and right eyes flicked open and shut, winking at me.

Decoding that like morse code..「Talking about something interesting; Listen」...?

Trying to ignore it and get up, I was stuck inside Shiranui's arms.

「Let go; I have something to say to Aria.」

I replied.

「Let go.」

「It's fine; Stay like this」

「Let go.」

「It's fine; It's fine」

Forcefully answering with that kind of winking...Chatter Chatter.

Looking up the aisle, three Butei High girls were sitting on the three-row seats, looking this way, whispering with each other. Those were students that were in the same class as me, 2A. If I'm certain, Connect.

The three female students, their faces red, were saying: "Pl-player," "Even with boys," "Ca-captured...!", apparently shocked. I could hear about three-tenths of what they were saying.

(...Th-this can't...)

Noticing their serious expressions, if I look at this from an objective point of view--This scene between Shiranui and me. Hands linked intimately, looking at each other directly, not saying anything. Two boys.

Shi-Shiranui. Please at least care about what this looks like in other people's eyes. Even if that isn't so, there's never been any rumors about you getting together with any girls, so it's easy to suspect that you're that kind.

For the sake of not having an even worse reputation even more among my class,

「I got it; I got it, so; Let go of my hand; 5 minutes; I'll stay here quietly.」

Communicating that to Shiranui, Shiranui released my hand.

(But, what does he want me to hear?)

Folding my arms in annoyance...I could hear Aria and Riko's conversation from behind me.

"--This is, something that my friend consulted me about. Look, I, ah...be-because, about romance, I don't really understand that kind of thing. Maybe you would understand...I thought."

"Ask anything you want! Riko is a love-romance human Wikipedia!"

...Love? ...Romance?

What. Isn't this the kind of thing that I'm horrible at?

This isn't interesting at all.

"My friend...th-that friend, um, let's call her A-san. This A-san, for a boy...well, he'll be K-kun. Sh-she hasn't clearly told K that she likes him, but um...well, they've been moving together. For a few months.

She understands that K--doesn't have much motivation, but he's a boy that can do anything once he tries. So, A-san has established a collaborative relationship with K, becoming something like friends that fight a lot. And, while they were doing that, A-san has started to feel something like, "he's mine", towards K...that..."

"Hmm, hmm. So, something more than friends but less than lovers. And, the possessive feeling towards the counterpart, it has already started to sprout before officially being together. It's those kinds of symptoms, hmm? Kufufu."

Taking on the air of a teacher, Riko seemed to be having a lot of fun.

In her heart, she likes talking about these kinds of things, right?

"Bu-but. A-san is already going to switch schools very soon. Leaving K at Butei High."

Aria, on another side, was radiating a feeling of slight desperation.

Her tone seemed to suggest that she was talking about herself.

She had said she was talking about a friend, so why'd she become so serious?

"It does exist, you know. Before a school transfer or exam, this kind of boy-girl messy situation. Juruuuuuu."

Wondering what kind of sound it was, I peeked through the gap between the seats and...

On the window seat, Riko was drinking out of a pack of strawberry milk.

And if I looked closer, on top of the table that was attached to the wall was around 20 packs of empty strawberry milk stacked atop each other.

I see. Because she wanted to place them there in such huge numbers, she had reclined her chair back? As usual, she does whatever she wants.

Rather, no matter how I think about it, that's over-drinking strawberry milk.

"But, well, when things had come to that time, Kin-ah, um, K-kun became closer to another girl. This...girl named R-san. She's a type that's completely different from A-san whether it be personality or ability...an outstanding girl."

Looks like the cast of characters has increased.

A-san, K-kun, and R-san, huh.

Well, I don't really care about the story of Aria's friend. Finish up quickly.

"After that, K and R-san started moving together...um..."

"Hmm, hmmm. If K-kun eats nothing but strawberries, won't he want to start eating some melons?"

Extremely serious, Aria asked Riko, who had just said those words, a question: "Are boys like that?"

She's such a gullible person. Aria, that is.

Riko is definitely just saying whatever is most fitting. Judging from her tone.

"That's right~. As opposed to women, who give birth, men are the people who make women give birth. Trying to leave their offspring behind in various types of women is just a natural instinct. Kufufufu."

"Th-that does sound possible."

"On that note, "what kind of girl do I like", is completely different from person to person. What kind of person is K-kun~?"

"--A haremizer!'

Saying that, Aria's tone seemed to be extremely angry.

Although I couldn't see her, I could imagine that her face was demon-like.

Despite the fact that I was completely unrelated to their conversation, a chill ran down my spine.

"Normally he's a failure as a human, but just in front of girls, for an instant, he becomes really cool, amazingly cool...and, my chest starts hurting a lot, and afterwards, I can't do anything but think about it...he says strange things occasionally. Su-suddenly touching me. It's really shocking. He's far too good at that, and over here, I can't do anything, just staying in this state, rather...no matter what the other side does, I probably can't resist, rather...My head becomes...something like...strange. It becomes strange--I mean, um, that, that's what my friend said."

Heh~~? Does a failure of a man like that really exist in our school?

Someone like that really is a devilish bastard.

"Um, just now, um, my friend, A-san said that. Really. That was completely something that my friend, A-san, said."

Hearing Aria remind Riko, Shiranui, who was next to me, burst out into a fit of little giggles.

...What's so funny? I don't get the punchline.

"Well, because K is like that...A-san got into a huge fight with K. But, I-ah, A! A-san, um, before transferring schools, with that K...even if "taking him back" is impossible, she wants just to be able to mend things between them. She knows that its just a selfish wish of hers, but R keeping K as hers like this...when A and K could meet again, K would already be R's captive, and K probably would not be partners with A. So, um..."

At that point, Aria's chair creaked as she drew closer to Riko.

"Wh-what does she do so that K doesn't forget about A-san. That, wh-what does she do before she transfers?"

Somehow...Aria's voice seemed to be frozen with fear.

On another side, Riko, in a very calm manner, went: "Nn~~Fufufu", laughing through her nose.

"A-san-san is about to celebrate her birthday, right? And, her birthday will come right before she transfers."

Saying that, Riko, Creak.

Aria jumped off her seat in surprise.

"Yo-you really understand this! Th-that's right."

Ho~~.

Aria too has a friend that she gets along so well with? She even remembers her birthday.

As for me, about my friends birthdays, I don't even remember Shiranui's, who's sitting right here next to me. Of course, I don't remember Muto's either.

I just remember Aria's birthday, as if I had ignored it, I would be subjected to Infinite Windhole Hell, so I had memorized it as pertinent information. I don't really know it accurately, but I do remember that it was during this month.

"Kufufu. That's obvious. It's because Riko is an excellent romance counselor. Kufufu~nn."

Laughing an extremely horrible laugh, Riko,

"--On that day, this love triangle will have a final battle."

"...?"

"A-san cannot be hurried. It's fine if she doesn't do anything. Hold yourself back, and Ki-ku...um. Test K-kun!"

"Te-test...?"

"That's right. Because, if K-kun doesn't hate A-san, he won't let something like a birthday pass without doing anything. I expect that he'll disguise it as birthday wishes, and try to meet you alone."

Gulp.

I could hear the noise of Aria swallowing.

"A parting confession--might be possible. Kufufu..."

"CO, CO-CO-CO-CO-CO-CONFE! SS-ION!"

Aria, lower your voice.

A train is a public vehicle, so don't shout so loudly.

"No, no. K-kun, aside from confessing--he might even do something more than that...!"

"SO-SOMETHING MORE THAN THAT IS FORBIDDEN!"

...So, Aria. Please calm down.

Your Japanese has already become really weird.

"Th-that's too much! Be-because too early for me, for I'm just 17 at that time! Lo-lo-look! If something comes so suddenly how. how how how'd I ...I...I !"[1]

Because Aria had started panting and speaking in some sort of alien language, I couldn't understand what she was saying any longer...

「This is stupid; This much is fine, right?」

I sent some winking signals at Shiranui.

Shiranui too...winked, responding.

「Tohyama-kun; Do your best, alright?」

「What? I do my best at what?」

「Only thus; Is Tohyama-kun」

Shiranui smiled wryly, smiling and gesturing at me like a hotel concierge, as if conveying, "Please go ahead."

What was that. In the end.

When I tried to stand up, my mouth twisted into a 「へ」 character...at that exact moment.

Guu---

The train swayed, as if it had been tugged forward a little.

"Woah..."

Losing my balance a little, I grabbed hold of the back of the reclined seat.

What happened just now...?

It was only a little speed, but it seemed as if the train had shook from some sort of sudden acceleration.

'Hmm?' Muttering to himself, outside of the window that Shiranui was looking through--Nagoya station flashed past.

This Shinkansen passed by a station.

"...?"

That's strange.

Wasn't this Shinkansen definitely supposed to stop at Nagoya?

This isn't just me misunderstand it, right?

Some passengers, apparently going to disembark here, had an incredulous look on their faces as they returned to the aisles.

Just as they, their expressions dissatisfied, started to make some noise--

「--A notice to our customers.」

An announcement started flowing through the interior of the car.

「This train was supposed to stop at Nagoya, but because of some unexpected circumstances, it cannot stop.」

...?

「As for those customers that planned to disembark at Nagoya, as soon as these circumstances have been resolved...you will be sent to Nagoya from the closest station by an extra train. We are sorry for the trouble, investigations into the details of said circumstances are currently being held.」

The voice, which I thought belonged to conductor, was trembling slightly.

What's wrong? What happened?

I've never heard of a malfunction that caused a train to hurtle by a station. On the contrary, I would understand if they stopped the train.

That wasn't all that was strange.

Ever since this Shinkansen passed Nagoya, it hadn't slowed down.

Rather...it was speeding up...?

"Hey, what the hell is happening?", "Arrrgh, the job is going to be canceled.", "What the hell are these 'circumstances'" "Could you explain? I didn't understand any of what was said just now."

From between the passengers, who were milling about in confusion, the talent that was reclining in his chair just now, Washio Narau,

"Hey! Conductor, get the fuck out here right now! I have to get off at Nagoya! The audience is already entering the dome, do you know who I am!? Go back to Nagoya!"

-stood up, roaring in anger.

Even though we've already gone past it, he was saying some reckless things.

But, besides that--

(This is bad...)

Agitation is infectious. If the other passengers started to panic because of the weird things he was saying, gathering them all up would become difficult. If I don't quiet him down...

Just as I stood up--

「Also, If there are any suspicious luggage or suspicious items in your vicinity, please alert the stewardesses.」

Continuing as such, the announcer could no longer be tolerated by Washio, who kicked the seat in front of him.

"What the fuck are these 'suspicious items'!? Is there a bomb set on this train or something!? Eh!?"

Fuck, he said it immediately...!

"--Bomb?" "Eh, seriously!? He said a bomb!?" "Hey, it seems that there's a bomb!"

As the passenger's unease grew larger, some people started walking towards the driver's seat.

"Everyone, please calm down." "Please return to your seats!" "A thorough investigation is being conducted--"

The three Butei High girls that had been looking at Shiranui and me earlier stood up, trying to soothe the crowd, but...It's impossible. The situation inside the train was quickly nearing full-blown panic.

This is--

It was bad enough that Washio had stood up and shouted, but the crew's announcement didn't help either. The information that was released was far too vague.

They didn't say anything about when it would be solved, just saying that there were some unnatural circumstances.

As for the Shinkansen, the abnormality that they refrained from releasing an announcement:「Not stopping at Nagoya」, something that cannot be hidden, beforehand...if there was an announcement that they were sealed inside a train, an enclosed space, it isn't impossible that customers with a short temper, just like Washio, would raise a racket.

A normal person, unlike us Butei, doesn't experience dangerous incidents like this everyday.

"It's dangerous, so please return to your seat."

When Shiranui said that to the pregnant lady, who had stood up, her stomach bulging out--Whirr.

Feet swaying, a chain of cries rang out as the passengers stumbled to the back of the train.

The Shinkansen had sped up again.

(What the hell is this...!?)

Looking out the window, the speed we had accelerated--judging from the change of the flow of the scenery, it was only a little.

But, it was too sudden. It was a sudden acceleration that would be impossible under normal circumstances.

Which is to say...It's like the feeling of barely being able to endure it, yet not being able to stop, continually gaining speed.

On the electronic displays above the automatic doors,

--[Current speed: 130km/h]--

-those words were flowing from right to left.

Apparently becoming more uneasy from the 'current speed', the customers started clamoring as they tried to stampede towards the driver's seat.

Washio Narau ran towards the back of the car--Clank Clank! Using what appeared to be a very expensive lighter to smash the lid of the emergency door control, which was buried into the wall.

(That idiot! What the hell is he doing!)

Is he planning..to open the door to the Shinkansen manually!?

While in the midst of travel, the lock should be engaged, but now, the Shinkansen was in a situation where I didn't know if it was functioning normally. If by a one in a thousand chance, it opened...things would get ugly!

"STOP!"

I fixed my eyes on Washio, charging one straight line down the aisle, directly towards him.

"--Kinji!?"

"Kin-chan...!"

While hearing Aria's voice, who had just noticed me, and Shirayuki's voice, who had apparently woken up due to the ruckus--I,

"Calm down! You can't get off! Not at this speed!"

-hurtled towards Washio, performing a full nelson on him.

"Let go! LET GO! I'm going to Nagoya!"

I managed to clamp down on Washio's arms, who had been lashing out at me, binding his arms behind him with the wire in my belt.

At that moment, I heard the announcer once again--

<<To all the passengers  I will tell you now.>>

---!

<<This train  will not stop at any stations  until Tokyo  it will go on  non-stop  Ahaha  Ahahahahaha>>

--A vocaloid's synthetic voice...!

<<The train  will accelerate 10 km/h every three minutes  not accelerating is impossible  otherwise, Kaboom!  Big boom!  will happen  Ahaha  Ahahahahahahaha!>>

In response to the artificial laughter, cries started ringing out from within Train Hope 246.

This vocaloid. It's the same voice as the one when Reki and I were assaulted by those remote controlled helicopters.

(Koko...!)

This is her doing.

Leaving Washio sitting down, his face about to cry, I looked up at the electronic display--

--[Current speed: 140 km/h]--

We're accelerating. Definitely.

(Express-jack--)

I don't know what her goal is, but she had carried this out extremely thoroughly.

No wonder we hadn't stopped at the station.

It was probably only after the conductor and driver had departed to Tokyo that they received a threat from the offender concerning the bomb.

Earlier, I had thought that she was checking the tickets, but the sweating conductor was actually conducting a search for the bomb.

But...she's really troublesome.

At the front of the car--the direction of the driver's seat, the panicked passengers were jostling against each other, saying things like: "You're going to hit the Shinkansen in front of us, right!?" "Dumbass! It said that there was a bomb!" "That's definitely a prank!", and I could see Shirayuki trying to calm them.

"Tohyama-kun...!"

"Kinji!"

From the back of the car, Shiranui and--Muto, who was completely woken up, ran towards me.

"Shiranui is calculating it right now. If the announcement just now was true, we have until 19:22."

"...19:22...?"

"Without stopping at any stations, if we continue at this pace of acceleration...we'll arrive at Tokyo then."

I frowned at Muto and Shiranui's words.

--Arrive at Tokyo.

There is no more track after that.

If we get there...The End.

Looking at my watch, right now, it's 18:02.

"Until the time limit--we have 80 minutes."

"It'll probably come a little earlier. The announcement earlier...said that we would continue to accelerate. This Shinkansen is model N700, Toukaido route's top operational speed is 270 km/h. After 40 minutes--we'll exceed that."

"If we exceed it, then what?"

"It's impossible to operate safely. The entire car won't be able to stay on the rails, and at a curve, it's possible that it'll disengage."

"Dangerous operation then...how many km/h can we go?"

"It's said that the calculated maximum speed is 350-360 km/h. The actual limit wasn't announced by Japan Railways."

Beside Muto, who had said that, Shiranui was using the calculator function on his phone to immediately calculate the speed and time.

"--This speed isn't enough. To get past 19:00, we have to have 350 km/h, and to get to the end, we have to have 410 km/h."

"No way...I've heard that the test train could reach speeds of up to 397 km/h. How long that can be sustained, nobody knows. 410 km/h is unknown territory."

After 40 minutes, we will enter dangerous operation, and after an hour, we will have broken through the design limit--and at the end, unknown territory, huh?

If we don't make it back to Tokyo, the chance of Kaboom is large.

"Muto, Shiranui. Gather the Butei High students that are riding this train, then search for the bomb. Without decelerating, find the bomb and disarm it."

From the window of Hope 246, which had turned into Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, I could see the the town in the midst of dusk flow past like in a nightmare...

This, outside the window--if for example, the bomb was affixed to the bottom of the train car, it's all over. It's impossible to disarm that kind of thing.

Seeing Shiranui and Muto off, who were going to confirm that the cars behind didn't have any Butei High students in them, I---

I drew closer to the location in the rear of Car 16, where Aria and Riko were sitting.

"...Nn..."

Having subjected me to violent acts such as kicking and punching whenever I was together with Reki in Osaka, Aria turned her head back as if avoiding me, and as if trying to hold back something that she wanted to say, her cheeks were puffed out like a puffer fish.

The incident at that time...I wanted to explain a lot of things, but this wasn't the time for that.

First, I looked over Aria at Riko.

"Riko. You know what I want to say, right? This is the same modus operandi as yours."

With a voice that the other passengers couldn't hear, I said that as if interrogating her.

On Riko's face, the normal high school girl expression that she had had on her face up till just now flickered,

"We've been hit..."

Her eyes sharpening, she muttered those words.

April. During the "Butei Killer" incident which had led to the meeting between Riko and Aria and me, she was using these types of bombs. On my bicycle as well as the bus around Academy Island...she had set something on those modes of transport, a bomb that would explode if one decelerated below a certain speed. An extremely terrifying, cruel planted explosive.

Although, the explosives that were planted on this train were even more horrifying.

Not only must it continue to run, but because, if the train doesn't continue to accelerate, the bomb will detonate.

"Cao Cao...has started moving again, huh, that fucking miser...!"

Gnashing her teeth, Riko stuck her hands between her knees, which were opened, moving them as if searching the seat.

"Cao...?"

Riko, her eyes in "Butei Killer" mode, turned towards Aria, who was frowning while asking that question.

"Cao Cao is--a person with a demonic mindset, despite being a child. She is I-U's Mechanic. In exchange for massive amounts of money, she modified torpedoes and ICBMs into transport devices... Kinji, the "Non-Stop" method which I used on your bicycle was also taught to me by Cao Cao. This is its improvement, "Hurry Up"--!"

Towards Riko, who had sweat trickling down her forehead--

"I-U's...explosive tactic instructor--is that it? Riko, you're her student, so you understand the basic structure of her explosives, right? Go look for the detonator and disarm it immediately."

Aria, still not looking in my direction, tugged on Riko's hand.

But, Riko didn't stand up from her seat, and she shook her head.

"No. I cannot move."

"Why not?"

"There's a pressure switch on this seat. I was careless, so I did not realize it. If I stand up, an explosive, planted somewhere, will detonate."

"...!"

Aria and me, speechless, looked under Riko's seat.

Added on to forbidden deceleration and forced acceleration...a human switch?

The first thing the enemy had done was seal Riko, who was the only one with any chance of being able to disarm the bomb.

She meticulously investigated our movements in advance, planting a trap on the seat.

In short, we--had, by our own free will, boarded the Shinkansen covered with the enemy's traps.

At this point, all we could do is laugh. At our own lack of vigilance.

"...An eye for an eye, 'Butei Killer'-san."

I, who had had a bomb planted under the seat of my bike, patted Riko on the shoulder with a thump,

"Riko, Cao Cao is a Chinese girl...a girl even younger than you. And the person who taught you those martial arts was her as well, right?"

-I continued.

Riko's big eyes, with those double-fold eyelids, looked up at me.

"How do you know, Kinji?"

"I was attacked as well. Yesterday, by this girl who uses vocaloids." The fact that she had a different name as well as Jeanne's statement: "There were no snipers in I-U," there was a point which caught my attention--

That Cao Cao is Koko. I can't be wrong.

Koko had...hidden from the members of I-U, who would become her enemies at some unknown point in time, her own skill in sniping.

However, Koko...She is proficient in martial arts, gunfights and sniping, as well as being a genius technician?

This time, it's so unbelievable that it makes me laugh.

They're all monsters. Those in I-U.

Saying something to Aria, who was, unreasonably, still angry, irked me, but since things had come to this, I had no choice.

I pulled on one of Aria's twin-tails, forcibly making her head face this way.

"Aria, calm down and listen to me. The offender who hijacked this Shinkansen is the person who attacked you with Aru=Kata. Her name is Koko. Reki had a sniping battle with her--and she was heavily injured."

"...Reki was...!?"

Aside from the huge fight that they had gotten into on the stairs of the Butei High Station a few days before--

At the fact that Reki had lost, Aria's camellia eyes widened in surprise, forming large circles.

"Don't worry. She managed to hold on to her life. She was just in danger from losing massive amounts of blood over an hour."

"Why...why didn't you tell me earlier!"

"My cellphone was destroyed by Koko. By the time I could communicate again, you were out of range...No, it was painful enough that all communication with Aria was interrupted, but--in addition to that, it seems the information was also destroyed."

"Information...?"

"You didn't tell Riko the details either, did you? Neither the appearance nor features of the opponent you tied with on the day of 'Water Tossing'"

Saying that, I could hear Aria's throat go "Uguu", and she went silent. It seemed that I had guessed right.

Just like how I had never told anyone about my loss to an underclassman, "Defeat from the Bottom"...Aria had experienced, "Draw from the Bottom" in a gunfight--and she was hiding the disgrace of drawing with Koko, who was younger than her.

It was because this noble ojou-san had pride twice that of a normal person. Even though her height was half of a normal person's.

Koko--knew that fully well.

When Koko assaulted us, the first thing she did was--destroy our phones, our method of communication, and she used a false name as well, using Butei High's culture, the fact that people would hide the reality that they lost to their underclassmen...

She had prevented detailed information from being spread among us.

"Kinji, Aria, listen."

We turned towards Riko's voice, which was extremely tense.

"'Non-Stop' and 'Hurry Up'--Meter Bomb is started by wireless. Because, she usually plants explosives somewhere which already cannot be reached. But, jamming, congestion, out of signal range, weak electric field, hangup drop...wireless is lacking in reliability. Especially on high-speed vehicles like the Shinkansen, which is loaded with wireless components. I learned this from her. At those times, one must secure an escape route, riding the vehicle yourself. And, you have to see for yourself that your targets have boarded the vehicle, making sure what is planted inside the car starts up reliably. In short--"

Riko's eyes sparkled, as if confident in something.

"--the enemy is aboard this train."

At those words, Aria and I looked at each other. And at that moment.


---Gangan, Gakin!


The sound of metal clashing resounded several times, at the front of the car--the passengers who were gathered close to the cab of the train cried out while running back into the car.

(--!?)

At the front side of the car, while a scream rang out--as if swept away by some force, Shirayuki flew outwards, sprawling over the seats.

The salarymen, chess pieces in their hand, the gaudily dressed girl emitting a piercing shriek, as well as the passengers who had kept to their seats, stood up, running towards Car 15.

Threatening the people so as to chase them away, coming out from within the cab, its door broken from some large impact--

"--Koko!"

So in the end, she was riding the train...!?

"Hello, Kinchi. This is Riichi, isn't it."

Clothed in cultural Qing garments, Koko winked at me.

And--completely clashing with her elfin body, she raised a longsword akin to a hatchet.

The hilt of that sword wreathed with decorative fabric, engraved onto the blade was a picture of a slender dragon.

"This train will become your coffin! Kihi!"

Zccccchhhh----! The blade, brought down, sliced open the seats in front with ease.

That is a--Lancet

Called a Seiryuutou[2] in Japan, it's a broad, weight, single-edged Chinese sword.

I learned this in Assault, but the Seiryuutou is not like a Japanese long sword, which is sharp, meant to slice through organs and arteries. The blade is heavy so that it can cleave through flesh and bone, and it's a weapon that, if conceptualized, resembles an axe.

"I'll just play for 10 minutes, Koko has a promise for a date."

Looking over the shoulder of Koko, who had said that, on the driver's seat that I could see in the direction of the double doors was...

Was the female driver, half turning around to face this way, and there was nobody in the co-driver's seat. It appeared that Koko had kicked the co-driver out and had been sitting there.

Ueeeenn--Turning my head towards that crying noise, close to the middle of Car 16, unable to escape from danger yet, the children were crying, clinging to the pregnant lady.

They were all that was left of the normal passengers inside Car 16.

If I looked closer, the pregnant lady was clasping her large belly, sweating heavily.

Inside the midst of this panic, it seemed the stress had taken its toll on her body.

"--Shirayuki! Save her and her children!"

Shouting and dashing forward--drawing her sword was Aria.

Leaving Riko, who couldn't move, and I, who stood up reflexively, behind, Aria crossed her twin-blades, keeping them low, assuming a compact stance while charging down the narrow aisle.

As Shirayuki, crouched down while running down the aisle, brushed past Aria, they exchanged glances.

"--Nn!"

Using Shirayuki's hands, overlaid over each other, as a foothold, Aria jumped forward at an oblique angle.

Not slowing down at all, Aria flew over the back of the seat, Tatatatata-----!

With reflexes far beyond the norm, she thrust herself off the seat, using it like a stepping stone.

Opposing her, Koko span the Seiryuutou around once...

Aria07 079.jpg

"Come, come, Sherlock the 4th."

Her hand, outstretched towards Aria, gestured at her.

Shirayuki helping the pregnant lady, I, while protecting the children, helped them to escape towards Car 15, and behind me--

Clank!

The sound of Aria's blades, held in such a way that they resembled a pair of enormous scissors, clashing against Koko's Seiryuutou rang out.

A Shinkansen is something alike to a steel box.

For the sake of not injuring oneself due to ricochets off the wall or ceiling, Aria and Koko weren't using guns.

Aria launched herself off the back of the seat, and Koko took the full impact head on, Clash.

The swords, clashing together at the heart of the blades, rolled over each other as if they were dancing, displacing each other. Twice. Three times.

The pink and black twin-tails fluttered through the air, outlining a swirl-like shape--

Aria. Koko. Aria. Koko.

Looking alike visually, the two people were turning round and round at a speed which dizzied.

It was as if it was a fighting game with 1P and 2P characters.

"You tricked me, you clown! The first time I faced you, you said your name was "Koko"--that was a false name! Cao Cao!"

"That's a name that Europeans mistakenly use. Sherlock of I-U called me by such a name, so Koko let everyone use it. Koko. The true pronunciation of the name in Wei!"

...

Is that how it is?

Just like how Riko had once said Holmes as "Ormès" using the French pronunciation, the pronunciation changes along with the changes in the language. So,that's why Jeanne, upon hearing the name "Koko", had no recollection of any such name.

If I gave it a little more thought, "Sou Sou" is how Japanese people read it as well.

--We're getting dragged into a global war, and we're having trouble over a name.

Having guided the children to Car 15, I-

"Shirayuki--I'll leave this woman to you. Go find out whether there's a doctor among the passengers. Aria and I, the two of us, will apprehend Koko."

-said that to Shirayuki, who was supporting the pregnant lady, having entered Car 15.

"Ye-yes! But, Kin-chan, be careful. I'm getting an abnormal feeling from that offender."

While whipping out my butterfly knife--

"Abnormal? Isn't that what happens all the time? So--it's normal."

As if saying that for myself to hear, I answered.

I returned to Car 16, and Riko, on the last rows of seats, was kneeling on the seat, just like a child.

Looking back, I could see Aria and Koko, close to the front of the car and drawing closer to the edge,

"--YOOOUUU!"

"Kihi!"

Their feet lashing out simultaneously, Aria and Koko went into a position where they kicked each other in the waist--and, with a smack, they separated.

In the next instant, Koko let go of the Seiryuutou, and, Tan, Tatatata!, she kicked the floor, Aria's knees, waist, and chest as if running vertically, showing off an acrobat-like maneuver--Bccchhhhhh!

The toes in the peony embroidered silk shoes thundered into Aria's jaw.

"Aria!"

While flipping open the butterfly knife in my hand, I ran up the aisle.

"---!"

Reeling backwards from the impact, Aria retreated several steps this way.

In that direction, Koko, her back turned towards the cab--cut through the air behind her with a backflip, her two long sleeves fluttering outwards like a fin.

And, from the midst of those sleeves...What the hell is that?

She took out something reminiscent of an atomizer.

"--Explosive Bubble!"

Shuu!

With that sound like the depression of an aerosol--If it hadn't been sparkling in the midst of the light of the car interior, I wouldn't have seen it--small soap bubbles, the size of rubber shavings, flew out towards Aria.

"--Aria, dodge it!"

Having seen that, Riko, panicked, shouted immediately.

"Explosive Bubble is a vapor explosive, I saw it in I-U! When the bubble bursts, the contents mix together with the oxygen in the air, and--it explodes!"

"!?"

Aria heard her, and from her feet, a loud crack ran out.


----BOOOOOOOM


From the soap bubbles that burst right in front of Aria's eyes, a violent shockwave and blinding light burst forth.

Amongst the seats in front, several of them were blown away--

"Kyaaa--!"

In the midst of the flurry of poker cards, which had been left on the seat, Aria flew outwards as if she had been hit by a car.

This light...! I remember this.

This is the same light that appeared at the end of the nighttime sniper battle between Koko and Reki, which caused her to be severely injured.

The scale was even bigger than that time--Reki was hit by this vapor explosive!?

"--Aria!"

In a rush, I caught Aria, who had been heavily impacted on her back and posterior cranial fossa.

Thank God, she didn't seem to have received any blatant trauma.

The moment right before Aria had been caught up in the explosion, her animal-like instincts had sensed the danger, and she reflexively did a backstep.

Thanks to that, she escaped a direct hit, and it seemed that she hadn't received any serious injures like Reki had.

However, she received a considerable amount of damage from the impact. Aria's consciousness was fuzzy, and her knees were trembling. Aria was in a state where she could not stand up on her own. She had let go of her swords as well.

"Uu...Uuu!"

For what I assumed was to clear her head, Aria shook her head left and right, her pink twin-tails swinging around as if beating a drum.

In that direction, 10 meters away from us, Koko, a broad smile on her face--

"Kihihi, now it's even!"

Like the immortal zombies who appeared in that movie from a while ago, "Reigen Doushi", her hands were stuck straight out.

With that posture, sticking her hands out, Rattle Rattle. Shaking her sleeves again, from inside...Nunchucks...? No. Wrong.

She took out two mini rockets!

Bringing the head of the two rockets together with a clink, Koko separated the two, bringing them left and right respectively.

Between the two tips, a wire stretched outwards. An appearance exactly like nunchucks.

"--Double Rocket Restriction"

With a sharp jet noise, the two rockets, flying parallel to one another, passed by on the left and right of Aria and I--

The wire, stretched out between them, pressed down upon the area below Aria's flat chest.

"Uuu!?"

The rocket, having fixed the wire upon Aria's body, started flying around us in an absurd manner.

"Ah...ah!"

"Woo...oah...!"

In a heartbeat, Aria and I were bound by the wire, completely paralyzed.

Twirling around our arms, torso, and legs, the rockets-Clank!

-crackling, automatically severed the wires as their fuel was completely depleted, and they dropped to the floor, rolling.

"Kyaa!?"

Stepping towards the other side, Aria completely lost her balance--

And along with me, who had been tightly restricted by the wire as well, she hit the floor with a thud.

Uu...thanks to the fact that our legs were bound, w-we couldn't stand...!

Added to that, from the shock of falling down...because I could not put any strength into my arms, which were fixed to my waist, I had let go of my knife.

The knife had slid under the seats, and I had no way of reaching my hands out. As such, I could not retrieve it.

Literally...my hands and legs were tied. In just that one instant...! "Uu...Uu..Fueh...Cao Cao...!"

Seeing Aria and I get hit, Riko's hands were rubbing her eyes, which were gradually leaking out tears.

"...BIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEH! Wasn't Riko your partner in E~~~U!? Aren't we class~~~mates!? Save Riko, only save Rikoooooo! BIEEEEEEEEH!"

S-so loud.

...Bloody Riko. Despite the fact that she told us so much just now.

When it starts to look like we're losing, she stabs us in the back.

Rather, just now, you said "Save only Riko," right? Is she really our friend?

"Mine Riko--stop faking your tears! Crying wins the sympathy of only boys!"

Point! Pointed at by Koko, Riko-

"Tch."

-clicked her tongue, and she stopped crying, making a face at Koko.

Koko--inserted her hands into each of her sleeves, holding them together in front of her chest, and with a composed expression, she walked forward.

And, arriving at a place where she was looking down on Aria, Koko started intently at her face.

"Fuuun. So, this is Aria. When I saw her photo, I certainly thought that she was as cute as Koko, but seeing her in person, Koko is actually cuter. Kihi."

"Koko!"

Even though she could not reach out with her arms or legs, Aria was baring her fighting spirit as well as her canines.

"That hairstyle! Before, I told you to get rid of it, right!? That's the same hairstyle as mine!"

"I don't remember hearing that, puh, puh! Whether it's Ranban or I-U's Ignatius, they want girls like Aria. If I use this hairstyle, I'll make a lot of money."

"Ignatius...? You're one of the remnants of I-U...!?"

"Wrong! From the beginning, I've been one of the members of Ranban! I-U was purely business!"

I didn't really understand if she had met with Aria before, but Koko, saying some strange things...was squatting like a frog, her hands against the floor, bringing her mouth to Aria's ear,

"Rather--you! Watch how you address me! Koko has been a princess for generations!'

She shouted with a high-pitched voice on par with Aria's.

I-I didn't think that princesses squatted like frogs.

Whoosh Standing up, Koko--

"--Aria the scarlet ammo."

Hidan no Aria.

The name that was passed down to Aria from Sherlock in I-U was uttered.

"Everything is your fault. By destroying I-U, you broke the power balance between all the associations, groups and organizations in the world. A time of chaos will begin."

Koko was looking down at us haughtily.

Like an empress looking down at captured criminals.

"You have pleased the Hihiirokane. This too is the start of chaos. Hihiirokane and Ririirokane are opposed to each other. Sensing the mood of the Hihiirokane, Ririirokane has been harboring the anger of a century. Its anger has scattered invisible particles, rendering the ability of all the ability users in the world unstable."

"Ability users...are...?"

The back of her head pressed against the bottom of my chin, Aria asked with a tone which seemed to convey that she was completely ignorant.

Not completely clear on the details of ability users, I too had nothing but a question mark appear in my mind, but--

Thinking about the series of events that had been revolving around me recently, I noticed something.

Before, when I had sought information about Reki...having cooled the can of hot coffee that I had bought by mistake, Jeanne had said it. "...Recently, my magic hasn't been very stable."

And at Kyoto, Kazayuki had said something about the Mikos' power having debilitated.

Were all those linked to the Irokane?

--Koko, the corners of her eyes streaked with red eyeshadow, looked down at me, who was frowning.

"From now on, ability users are useless. At this kind of time, the value of marksmen increases."

Clank Clank. Koko rapped her fingertips against my head.

"Kinchi is different from an ability user, but he's a good piece that has a secretly high battle ability. Ignatius, Daioh, Ulus, everybody wants Kinchi."

Everyone...wants me...?

I don't understand what kind of delusional words she's saying, but...

It seems that I've become rather famous in the world of the other side.

Despite the fact that I'm so inconspicuous at school.

"The first to reach out for Kinchi was Ulus. Ririirokane gave a direct order to the princess, and she took action against Kinchi. However, Koko will snatch Kinchi from her side."

As if genuinely happy, Koko jumped up and down on the spot.

"Koko will also take Ulus' Reki. She's an outstanding sniper, she's good for use in assassinations, and she's good for selling too. I will take Aria as well. Hihiirokane can be sold for a lot."

As if operating an abacus inside her head, Koko smiled wickedly--

"A chaotic world is good for business. This Shinkansen-jacking is also a side business deal. Earlier, Koko demanded a 30,000,000,000,000 yuan ransom from the Japanese government. It would be nice if they paid, but if they don't--KABOOM!"

Twintails jumping up to the extent that it seemed they were flying, Koko shouted those words with a high-pitched voice.

"I'll blow this train into pieces, demonstrating Explosive Bubble. Kihi."

"Explosive Bubble--the exploding bubbles from just now, huh...!"

Just having been blown back by that vapor explosive, Aria glared up at Koko.

It seemed that...Koko had planted that on the train too. According to what she had just said.

"The Explosive Bubble from just now was around 1cc of explosives. This train is loaded with 1 cubic meter of it."

Said Koko, lightly.

"Wai...that's over the top!"

Kneeling on the seat, Riko's expression conveyed, 'That's seriously dangerous!'.

I too--was speechless.

1 cubic meter. Whether it's a bubble or a balloon, a container which holds that much gas cannot be hid inside a train. It's definitely a lie. But, if it isn't--

According to my calculations, the explosive force would be 10000 times that of the explosion earlier.

This Shinkansen will be reduced to ash. All its passengers and the surrounding structures as well.

"Explosive Bubble is an invisible explosive. It is a work of art, something which no matter where it is hidden, will not be found by anyone. If it explodes with enough splendor, it will be ordered from around the world. Koko will become rich, and then I can buy my place as Ranban's empress."

Ranban--from her tone, that's the name of the organization that Koko belongs to.

Most likely, it's an outlaw group based in China. While being a member of it, she also entered I-U as a black merchant...huh? That's judging from everything she's said up till now.

"Kinchi, Reki, I'm bringing you to Hong Kong, Ranban's city. When we're there, become Koko's pieces and move for her. Aria will be imprisoned until a buyer arrives. Kihihihi!"

Towards Koko, who was laughing like that--

"Cao Cao. Wh-what about Riko?"

Aria07 091.jpg

Clutching the back of the seat with both her hands, Riko interrupted from the side.

"Wouldn't you like some Riko with that? Riko is cute and strong, hiring me won't be a mistake!"

..."Wouldn't you like some Riko with that," you said.

Are you McDonald's fries?

"Mine Riko. Your power notwithstanding, your personality is difficult. Are you going to change?"

Having said that to Koko, whose eyes were suspicious, Riko, 'UnUnUnUnUnUnUnUn'

-with a desperate expression, nodded several times.

"--If you swear loyalty to Ranban, I'll consider it."

"I love Ranban! Ranban Banzai! Kinji, Aria! Become a member of Ranban with Riko! Ranban's city is a paradise with lakes of wine and forests of meat, it's a super, ultra, amazing, wonderful place! You can eat as many authentic peach buns as you like!"

"...Authentic...pea..."

Still fallen down, Aria let loose a voice as if she had lost all sense of self, but-

"Pea...hey, Riko! What kind of speedy betrayal is that!?"

Grar!' -once again, she bared her teeth at Riko.

In a position where it looked like I was embracing Aria, I--

"It looks like negotiations have broken down, Koko. I--don't want to become your underling. Even though I look like this now, I'm a Butei."

In the first place, I have no intention of becoming part of one of those terrorist-like groups...if I do, it's the end.

Not only will I be lynched by the OB in the Butei High all over the world, as well as those demonic teachers, I'll be sentenced to death under the threefold punishment that is applied to Butei. Compared to that, dying a clean death here is still better.

"--A good general will say that in the beginning. But, all humans have desires. China is a vast country, full of things and people. A country where everything exists. If you consult Wei's books on tactics, when the enemy general is a young man, with the use of women, he can become your own subject. I'll gather one hundred of the women you like. Beautiful women, beautiful girls, big, small, I'll give you many, many, many. You can decide on this one, or that one, whichever one. Ufuun."

At Koko's words--Twist, Glare!

Aria twisted her neck to its limit, afterward, staring at me out of the corner of her eye.

Wh-why're you mad at me? Completely unreasonable. You're always like this.

"I-it's unfortunate, but...that has the opposite effect on me, I think."

I cannot explain in more detail in front of Aria...yet I replied with that.

"Also, I told Reki this too, but I'm not anything like a general. I'm just a normal, male high school student."

"--Kinchi, you need to know yourself. You are a special person. Special people will be hindered by those that are normal. Don't fit with the surface world. Rather than that, it's better to live an extravagant life in the world below."

Twinge--A flicker of pain ran through my chest.

In the midst of Nii-san's battle with I-U, he disappeared from the surface world--

Remembering that incident, my words became tinged with rage.

"I...I won't become like that. I--will walk a normal person's road."

"For a boy whose very existence is abnormal, what are you saying?"

Once again crouching like a frog, Koko brought her hand closer to my face.

Brush. Her black twin-tails carrying the scent of sugared chestnuts, brushed past my face.

"Kinchi, you and Koko are the same breed. Humans who have wondrous potential will definitely be picked out."

Clank----!

At that moment, the Shinkansen shook again, the scenery flowing past the window had sped up.

----[Current speed: 180 km/h]----

"Uuu...Lord--allow me closer--Sob, fueh...to you--"

I seemed to be hearing some sort of hymn, sung in a crying voice.

In the direction of the double-doors, opened, it seemed that the female driver was singing.

Apparently Christian, her voice seemed to express that her will was reaching its limit.

"Aiyayayayaya, I've talked for so long. Koko is going to get ready for her date."

Koko stamped on the ground where she was standing, Twist.

Grabbing hold of Aria and I, still bound, Brush, Brush.

At the front of Car 16--further forward than the frontmost seats, we were pulled through the automatic door.

"Wh...what do you plan to do to us!?"

Koko, letting go of Aria, who was being dragged, crying out, and I, took a carabiner hook from out of her sleeves, and she attached it to the wire binding us.

"You cannot do anything anymore. Neither do you need to know anything."

Apparently opened up in advance was a door in the ceiling--it looked like a person could barely squeeze through. Probably used for maintenance.--Continuing up the stairs towards it, she exited the car.

Seeing the wire stretched out away from us and the hook attached to it, Aria...

"She...plans to string us up like a yoyo, bringing us somewhere."

"Probably China. I don't have a passport though."

Not even bothering to wonder why she would use a yoyo as an example, I heaved a deep sigh.

"This isn't the time to joke around...! Nn...! I'm going to wriggle out...Uuunnn...Nnnng!"

Wriggle Wriggle! Aria twisted her petite shoulders, squirming around.

The wire was twisted around us several times, but it didn't seem as if Aria could move at all.

While pressing her shoulder against my chest, she twisted her body, twisted...not being able to wriggle out, she struggled.

At that moment, Clank--!

Once again, because the Shinkansen had sped up, the car shook as it had been struck.

"Uwah!?"

At the impact, Roll.

Aria, who had been struggling, twisted around, facing this way.

He...Hey.

Until just now, we were in a position where I was stuck against Aria's back, but now, we were directly facing each other, in a pose as if we were glued together. All the while, bound by the wire.

"Wa, wah...!"

Looking up this way, Aria's face was just under my chin.

"...tc...!"

Because the wire was also pressed against the back of my head, I had no choice but to stare directly at Aria's face from an extremely close distance.

Aria didn't seem to be able to lower her head either, and her large camellia eyes were looking at me--

"F! F! Fffff!"

Gyuui.

Gyuiiiiii!

Her speed-blushing technique of always was demonstrated.

As expected of the inventor. Bright red was achieved three times quicker than Connect's Nakasorachi Misaki.

"F! F!"

...What's "F"? "F".

"F, F, face backwards! Yo-your face is close! Close, clooseeee!"

Aria pressed her forehead against my face, trying to force me to look backwards.

Gui...Guiiiiii!

O-ouch!

"He-hey! Hu-human's can't turn just their necks to face backwards! Stop it!"

If my neck continues to twist like this until it's turned 180 degrees, I'll become like that cursed girl that appeared in that famous horror movie from years ago, "The Exorcist"!

"Ca...Calm down!"

While shouting, in the instant which I twisted my head back to Aria's direction, Muchi!

Apparently still trying to press against me, Aria, on my cheek-

--accidentally planted a kiss.

"!"

My mind--seemed to have registered that as "getting hit", and as such, I was fine in terms of Hysteria Mode, but Aria...seemed to have completely registered that as, "I KISSED HIM!"

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

Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Apparently, she was screaming that out, but...her scream was too high pitched, and it seemed that it had exceeded the hearing capability of human beings.

Baring her canines, from Aria'a mouth, all I could hear was a very slight Kiiin!

Th-that's amazing.

Aria. Right now, you're emitting supersonic waves.

"[email protected]#$*(&#$! SDOIFJO*#&$*(&#$! Pue! $LKJ#*&@#(*&FDLKJ!"

Starting to shout with some kind of inhuman language, SQUEEEEEEEEZE!

Like a rabbit trying to escape out of someone's hands, she went wild.

A-amazing strength...! What the hell is this?

"Nnnnn! Nnn, nnn, nnnnn!"

Brush Brush, Brush, Brush!

As if exceeding some sort of limiter, Aria, going half-berserk and struggling...O-oh...?

Centimeter by centimeter, the wire is starting to move up our body!?

(Sh-she did it...!)

From a catastrophe to a blessing.

Because of the wire, I could not reach out with my legs or feet, but thanks to Aria's stupid strength in this time of crisis, I managed to wriggle out.

If I looked closer, her long twin-tails were...like the ears of a green foxtail clutched in a hand, apparently having the ability to help slide out of the wire restricting the body. How lucky.

In the instant that I thought that...something unlucky began to happen to my body.

Because Aria, still stuck against me, was inching up and up, escaping, my mouth and nose were...pressed against Aria's slender neck.

(...ch...!)

A-at this kind of time.

I remembered about Nii-san's...which is to say, Kana's strange words which I had heard.

Something like: "A girl's neck is the place where a girl's pheromones are most exuded, you know."

And I was in a position where my nose, which is to say my face, was pressed against Aria's neck.

I-I don't know whether or not these are pheromones, but...

This is Aria's bittersweet scent.

This is like some sort of perfumed fragrance. Like a flower, like a fruit--rather, a lovely fragrance which was almost addictive. It's always with Aria.

At this place, with that lingering aroma, Aria was continually moving up, escaping. The parts which brushed past by my face were: a petite shoulder, a collarbone, slowing going down her body...which means, hey...! Be-below this...wai, this is bad! THIS IS BAD!

"Aria...wait! WAIT!"

Next, rubbing up against me, who was shouting...rubbing up against my cheek was the pure white skin exposed in the space at the collar of her sailor uniform.

A-against my neck, already, Aria's...br-breasts were pressing against it...!

"Nnn! Uuu!"

Not listening to my warnings, Aria, Brush Brush Brush Brush Brush!

Centimeter by centimeter, continuing to slide upwards---

(......Uu......!)

---!

At last, I--

-had my face buried in Aria's breasts.

In April, ever since I had pressed against them in the PE Warehouse, that sensation was transmitted to my face once again.

It was rather pitiful that they hadn't grown at all in the past half year, but this soft climax was--the same as that of that time. While it was slight, it was definitely there. It existed.

Fitting her short stature and childish face, small, lovely breasts.

It was across her blouse, but I, my nose and mouth completely blocked...Bch, BchBch!

As if mirroring the moment where one gives up from sparring, my hand tapped Aria's thighs.

".....? ...! M...! Mikkyaaaaaaaaa!"

She screamed like a wild cat, and furthermore, Brush Brush Brush Brush Brush!

Her body continued sliding up.

"...!"

My breathing blocked by the sailor uniform, and not able to stand the pain, I went the opposite way as Aria--forcing my body to escape downwards.

My face brushed against Aria's slender waist, Aria's hip, Aria's skirt, one after another.

Aria, Aria, a full course of Aria.

"Ki-Kinji! Th-th-that was...damn it! Idiot! Ah, ah, aaaahh! Hole! I'll blast, a hole, stop, stop it!"

I no longer understood where my head was pressing against Aria, who was shouting in agony with that anime-voice--Squish. When I thought that my head had finally been extricated from wherever, I was in the space between Aria's thighs.

It had become a position where it was as if I was shouldering those lovely, slender, white thighs.

And, the fortune in the misfortune was--finally. My hands were free.

"...Aria. Just hold on a little bit longer. It'll be over soon."

Somewhat able to breathe, I pushed up against Aria's lithe legs--and struggling between her knees, wreathed in black stockings, then between her calves, I extricated myself from the wire.

Alright--I finally managed to get out.

...And now...

Aah, I understand.

I don't need to check it. My own blood flow.

Because, I had fully appreciated a girl's entire body, from head to toe.

I closed my eyes for a very long moment--and when I opened them--

Without even looking in a mirror, I understood that the look in my eyes was completely different from that of just now.

Quickly, I flicked my eyes over to the door of the bathroom, which I hadn't entered when I tried to wash my face.

Leaving Aria to stand up, I grasped the handle, but...the door didn't open.

This doesn't feel as if the lock was broken. It was stuck together as if it had been glued.

Looking through the window---the faucet of the sink, ventilation fan, electrical socket---in other words, the holes inside the room were blocked with some transparent silicon-like substance.

--I see. 1 cubic meter. That's how it is.

That sealed washroom--was completely filled with that vapor explosive, Explosive Bubble

If I pushed my face in to look closer, inside the window, stuck against a corner, was something I thought to be the detonator, an extremely miniature piece of C4. If this is detonated wirelessly, breaking the window--if the airseal was broken...

Kaboom--right?

(While it's a shame...this can't be disarmed.)

Turning my head and looking down at my feet, Aria was...Drip, Drip...

Like a girl who had been subjected to horrible things by some horrible man, she was sprawled on the floor, sobbing.

"...Papa, Mama, God, forgive me...this is...just my slave running wild...I, didn't, a-al-allow any of this...!"

I knelt by Aria, who was muttering something I didn't understand to herself.

And, respectfully, I brushed off the wires that were still clinging to her quivering shoulders and back.

"--Ki-Kinji!"

Thump!

Jumping upwards into a sitting position, Aria grabbed hold of my collar.

"I-I won't forgive you! For just now...For ju-just now, I won't forgive you! Ta-take respo--"

I lightly reached out towards Aria, who was shouting with teary eyes--

"Mm, it's fine if you don't forgive me."

Gently, I straightened those disordered twin-tails.

"Because, next time, I will do it with your consent. It's a promise."

"That's right! Things that I don't allow are--wait, hu-huh, t-th-that's not it! That isn't a matter of me allowing it or not...!"

Towards Aria, who had been completely drawn in by me in a mere 5 seconds, towards her cheek, I stretched out my right hand.

From that small, dainty cheek, touching it yet not touching it-- I was at that distance. At a distance where, merely the heat of my hand was transmitted to her cheek.

Aria, releasing an Uu, trembled as if it tingled.

"Look. As long as I don't earn your consent--I cannot even touch you with one finger. Do you understand? Aria's words have that much power. Something that can be transmitted only to me--a magical power."

"Ma-magic? Wh-wh-what are you saying?"

"On the other hand, if you tell me 'to do'--then, I will do anything for you, no matter what it may be. That too is a magic that only Aria can use. Think about what you can use it to make me do."

"???......。......。......! ! ! !!!"

First was confusion, and then, for a moment, she seemed to be trying to think about it, and from then on, suddenly starting to panic, Aria--

WaveWaveWaveWaveWave! WaveWaveWaveWaveWave!

Haha. I wonder what she was thinking about. Speechless, she started waving her hands back and forth.

"I await my orders. As for receiving your orders, I have prepared for it--to fight, to arrest Koko. To save the hundreds of passengers that are aboard this train--those orders."

---Ha--

I understood that Aria had regained control of herself.

"You...changed, didn't you."

"That is all that has happened. If I had not changed, it would have been disrespectful towards you."

Hey, hey, me.

Hysteria Mode's trigger--arousal--don't say anything that might be a hint.

Well, the child, Aria's eyes were going, "???", so it seems like it's fine.

If Sherlock Holmes the First's power of deduction had been passed down to this child, then what I had said just now would have been rather dangerous.

"I...I'm not going to give you an order."

Aria stood up and she turned away from me, towards the opened door in the roof--

She looked up at the night sky, visible beyond it, traveling at 190 km/h.

"Butei Charter article 6. Reflect by yourself, act by yourself--a slave that only listens to people's orders...is not needed. The you as of now may say these kinds of strange things, but you are a Butei that can aid me as a partner."

Partner.

When those of the bloodline of Holmes fight together with their partner, their real power is released.

In short, with this, she is equipped. Aria, with the me in Hysteria Mode.

Koko. The us from now on will be strong.

"Also, you--normally don't listen to me. So, I won't give you something like an order."

--Feh In response to Aria, who had turned back, sticking her tongue out at me, I laughed wryly.


Entering Car 15, there was Shirayuki, bringing a doctor to the pregnant lady.

It seemed that the woman was about to give birth, pressing down on her stomach and having broken into a cold sweat...but, the rather old female doctor started providing medical care with a calm, professional air.

This was--pretty lucky, that this kind of doctor was on board.

"Kinji! There aren't any other Butei!"

"The nine on Cars 15 and 16 are all that we have, Tohyama-kun."

Raising my head to that voice, Mutou and Shiranui were zig-zagging through the crowd of people, returning.

The two people, having elbowed their way through the 400 meter round trip on the train, were a little out of breath.

"We didn't find the bomb." "We managed to report to the police, but..." "We didn't manage to find the offender either."

From behind the two, Takane, Hayakawa, Anesaki--the me in Hysteria Mode could remember girls' names with ease--the three girls who had been having bad delusions about Shiranui and me came back as well.

"We already searched everywhere. It's time to enter battle."

I put my hand on Shirayuki's back, gesturing at Shiranui, Mutou and the Connect girls.

Using the space between Cars 15 and 16 as our meeting room, I--

First, because I told them about the vapor explosive that was planted in the washroom at the front of Car 16, the fight with the offender and how she had escaped to the roof, and how the enemy's power was extremely high,

"We are the only ones aboard this train that are armed. To prepare for the enemy coming from anywhere, Takane, Hayakawa, Anesaki, you three will be spread throughout Cars 1, 4, and 5 and Cars 11, and 12, Shirayuki, please protect this location. Shiranui's--anti-terrorist training is very valuable. I want you to take charge of the middle, Cars 7, and 8."

Swiftly, I told them how each member would be assigned.

"Also, while you're waiting, can the people with Takane please contact Butei High, the Metropolitan Police, as well as the Railroad Public Safety Branch, to figure out how to disarm the bomb."

"--Kinji. What do I do?"

Not having been told a position, Muto asked me that question.

"The Shinkansen's driver is already in shock. Muto, please drive in place of her. 10 km/h acceleration every 3 minutes...requires fine handling but, can you do it?"

"Definitely. If it's Logi, a first year can do it."

"The bomb is right behind the driver's seat. There's nowhere to run."

I said that, as if testing his resolve,

"Will you be able to run?"

Muto showed me his white teeth, responding with a broad smile.

Somehow, it seems it'll be alright.

"--Aria, let's go. Let's arrest Koko for infractions of the armaments law and suspicion of imprisonment. We should teach that kid that it's the time for children to go home."

Flexing my fingers and looking at the watch--I saw that it was 18:22.

Until Tokyo, we have one hour. From now on, we are forced to be at a speed where safe-driving is impossible.

In surprise, Aria was looking up at me, who was displaying such leadership in the midst of an emergency, but...when our eyes met, she let loose a small, "Ah," averting them,

"Ye-yeah...!"

Taking a tone as if she was my little sister, she nodded at me obediently.


Translator's Notes and References[edit]

  1. The bolded-italicized words are in English in the original text.
  2. Lit. Young Dragon Blade