Hidan no Aria:Volume7 Chapter3

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3rd Ammo: The Third Quadra[edit]

The three girls from Connect had several simple single-earphone-type incams, and taking them, we established communication, sharing the same frequency.

Afterward, confirming that we had reached our respective positions...first, a message from Shiranui was transmitted through the incam.

"...Tohyama-kun. On Car 7, there are several TV staff of some location aboard and they have cameras. They understand that this is an incident, so it seems that all along, they have been using the train's wireless LAN to broadcast."

"Broadcast...in this situation?"

"Yes, they seem to be happy. They were able to be right at a scoop."

Really...They have no sense of reality.

Despite the fact that everyone might die in a heartbeat.

"...Leave them. Reporting is a freedom."

Scooping up the butterfly knife which I had dropped just now, that was all I said.

Because of the incident with Nii-san, I hate the media, but--in any case, I cannot stop the information leak. I can just pray that this doesn't lead to something bad.

--At the front of the train, next to me,

"Kinji, use your heel hook too."

Saying that, Aria put her white sneakers back on.

To prepare for a case where one has unstable footing, Butei normally carry a titanium-alloy hook around with them.

On the belt buckle or at the bottom of the holster, the concealed metallic components have the ability to fit together and change into several different forms for several different purposes, much like a transformer robot toy.

For the sake of not falling off the Shinkansen, Aria had attached those to her shoes, choosing spikes.

"During the bus-jacking, we had used wires attached to the roof as our support, but this time, we'll be in close quarters combat. There's the chance that the wire will be severed."

"--Correct decision."

And, while I too was attaching the spikes to my shoes...

Having finished her preparations earlier, Aria turned her back this way, going through a series of stretching exercises.

"You know. In Osaka, the thing with you and Reki--"

After a while, as if for the purpose of breaking the awkward silence, Aria interjected.

"I don't really mind. For intruding too much on your private matters, I apologize."

This is...a tone which shows that you really do mind.

Apparently, she's still angry that I was together with Reki throughout the field trip.

"Aria. It probably made you misunderstand, but...at that time, I was under Reki's Sniper Restriction. Reki is silent, so she didn't say much, but it seems that she was trying to protect me."

"Fuun..."

Having said that, Aria turned her head, seeming to be half satisfied, half suspicious.

"--Well, it's fine. I was waiting around there anyways. Waiting on my own."

"Waiting? For what?"

"It doesn't matter, right? Alright, this conversation is over. Ah, anyways, I'm so unlucky. Even though my birthday is so close, I've been dragged into this incident."

A glance flickering my way, Aria stamped lightly, seeming to be testing out the spikes.

"Really, I'm so unfortunate. It's my birthday next week."

...Why did she say it twice. Birthday, birthday. At least, I'll memorize it.

Thinking about that, I met her eyes, and Aria's expression seemed a little urgent,

"Ah, u-um. Kinji. Where's your hometown?"

She seemed to be deliberately leading the conversation away from that topic.

I don't really understand, but--I'll just go along with her.

"Sugamo. My grandparents are living there."

"Sugamo...? Were you planning to go there with this Shinkansen? If so, it's a shame."

Saying that, it seemed that Aria wasn't very familiar with Japanese geography.

"Sugamo is in the city."

"In the city...Then, why do you live in a dormitory? Wouldn't it be fine to commute to school?"

"--Well, there are a lot of reasons."

Fixing my shoes, I faced Aria without explaining in detail.

So, the atmosphere turned to "Ready"--

Aria was patting her cheeks, mustering her fighting spirit, showing a cute movement.

Alright--from now on, it's time to fight. As if telling herself that.

It's just a theory that when a two-man cell hasn't fought together for a long time, they should have some idle chatter in order to synchronize, but we had just finished with that. We had done it arbitrarily in the conversation just now.

"Let's go."

Immediately reaching out for the stairs, Aria's petite hand was--

-because I was on top, covered by my hand as if being embraced.

"Wh-what, all of a sudden. Hand, hand, hand."

Apparently weak against surprise attacks, Aria's face turned red in an instant, and I reached out with my little finger, flipping down her skirt.

"Only when going up stairs and ladders, ladies first is an exception."

The reason I was going to climb the ladder before Aria was...also for the sake of making sure that I would not have a hole blasted through me afterward, when Aria would notice the spatial relationship between myself and her skirt, but--

-it was also for the reason that, my mind in Hysteria Mode had had an uneasy prediction.

If this prediction turned out to fit the reality, the first person to exit would be in danger.

Leaving Aria, holding her skirt with both hands, her face having become red, below, I--

-extended my torso out from the rectangular exit leading out to the roof into the outside of the train, which had become completely dark.

"...!"

--Whoosh--

While I was doing that, an enormous amount of wind pressure assaulted my back.

The Shinkansen was operating at over 200 km/h--the wind-flow flowing over the roof was far more violent than I had imagined.

The sound of my necktie and bulletproof uniform being buffeted by the wind rang out.

(But, it isn't to the extent where it's impossible to stand up.)

Fighting against the wind, I relied on my spikes to stand up.

Koko was--there.

Having already moved to the anterior of Car 16, at the only pantograph there--a metallic component stemming from the aerial wiring above the car which supplies electrical energy to the vehicle--in front of it, a large installation had been set up, and it was flashing as if giving off some sort of signal. Alright. Her back was facing this way.

(...We haven't been noticed.)

Having bent over for the sake of reducing air resistance, at my feet--

Clank.

The sound of the lid of the door I had just exited slamming shut rang out.

Rumble Rumble Thud! The sound of Aria, apparently having been trying to come up, falling to the floor resounded.

As I went "Tch", turning around--

Bang! Bang Bang!

I released bullets from the Beretta in my right hand.

Clank! Clank----!

Approaching me from the back, another Koko used the broad Seiryuutou as a shield, deflecting the bullets.

"Kihi--!"

Creak!

The spikes on her feet groaning, Koko dropped to all floors in that position.

"Sister Pao! Kinji came!"

"--Sister Mei! Hold tight!"

The two Kokos, at the front and back of the car yelled to each other in Chinese--

Having noticed the sound of the gunshots, the Koko at the back of the car drew an SMG, an Uzi.

Taking that opportunity, I retreated from the Koko who had been called Meimei, the one holding the Seiryuutou, reaching approximately the middle of the car.

The position was such that I was caught exactly in between the two Koko's at my front and back.

(...As I had predicted.)

This Koko and Koko. They looked exactly the same, something like twins, right?

I had deduced that in advance, and ended up not being cut down--

-because my mind in Hysteria Mode had seen through this trick from two pieces of information.

The first piece of information is--the Explosive Bubble bubbles that had blown Aria away.

That was the same thing as the light that had injured Reki in the night-fight.

But, the range of that dispersal device, the atomizer, is short.

It isn't able to attack a sniper that is at least two kilometers away.

Which is to say, at that time, some other person had covered Reki with that Explosive Bubble.

The Koko that is strong in martial arts--Meimei was the offender.

Creeping in under the distraction of the hunting dogs, Meimei released that vapor explosive.

And, the second piece of information is--the conversation with Aria in the car.

From that conversation, I realized that the second Koko's appearance was exactly the same as the first's.

Aria had gotten angry over the fact that Koko looked like her, and apparently, on the day of Water Tossing, during their Aru=Kata battle, she had said, "I told you to get rid of it!"

But, Koko had said that she had no memory of such a thing.

Rather, she had said that this was only the first time that she had met Aria in person.

In other words, the person who had engaged in Aru=Kata with Aria at Butei High was another Koko. With the exact same appearance, one more Koko--and that was the person that was on the back end of the car right now, Paonyang, right?

This trick...it's obvious to say it's obvious.

Koko had called herself "The Warrior of Ten-Thousand Techniques", but a single person cannot do everything.

Martial arts. Marksmanship. The Kokos had divided up their specializations, acting as Ten-Thousand Arms--"The Warrior of Ten-Thousand Techniques".

"Koko, Koko--It's time for your punishment."

While looking at the Kokos on the left and right of me, one after the another, I drew the Desert Eagle that was stored by my chest with my left hand.

Desert Eagle. The gun of my father's legacy can also be used by the me in Hysteria Mode.

Beretta in my right hand. Desert Eagle in my left hand.

Doubla, dual-wielding.

Now that I think about it, in terms of blades, I also have a butterfly knife and a scramasax.

I'm in the middle of a field trip, so I don't have many bullets. If I run out of ammo, against the two Kokos...I can do nothing but use twin-blades.

--Aria. Riko.

I'll be borrowing your specialty for a moment.

Tohyama Kinji Version--Quadra of Mimicry.

"Kinchi, you...went into Hysteria Mode, didn't you. How?"

Apparently noticing that my aura was different from earlier, the Koko holding a blade--Meimei glared at me.

"Did you use Aria? Did you use Aria who looks like Koko?"

Paonyang, holding her submachine gun ready, turned red with a surprised expression.

They had realized that, with Aria, who was very alike to themselves, my Hysteria Mode--had been triggered by arousal. Realizing that, it seemed that for some reason, their alertness had increased.

...How impolite. Because I had had past experiences with going into Hysteria Mode with various women, you said it in a loud voice, but it's not like I can just do it with anybody, you know?

"Be-be careful, Sister Mei. There's a lot to be careful of."

"Yes, Sister Pao. No matter how I look at it...it is impossible to capture HSS without injury."

The two people, saying that as if playing on stereo--their eyes, already very slanted, narrowed even more.

A stronger killing intent than before radiated from my left and right.

Almost numbing, it was a true killing intent--

--They finally got serious, huh?

Until now, it seemed that Koko had been showing themselves as relaxed in order to catch the enemy off guard.

Haha. As expected of the teacher, the martial style is extremely similar to the someone who wears Goth Loli uniforms.

"Kinji, it's me. After 10 seconds, we're accelerating. Don't fall off."

From the driver's seat, Muto communicated over the incam.

"What happened, Kinji! The door isn't opening!"

I heard Aria's high-pitched voice, which was almost as if it was trying to mask Muto's.

"I'm in the midst of battle. There are 2 people exactly like Aria on top of the train."

Answering with only that, I didn't say anything that might urge Aria to support.

The me as of now is in Hysteria Mode. I don't want to see girls in danger.

"Don't hold back, Sister Mei. It doesn't matter if you kill him."

"Yes. It doesn't matter if I kill him--!"

Thud---! Readying her Seiryuutou, Koko; Meimei ran towards me from the direction of advancement.

--Quick. Aided by the 250 km/h tailwind, she shortened the distance in a heartbeat.

And, with a stance reminiscent of baseball's head-first sliding, she charged this way.

"--!"

Thud!

The Seiryuutou, the force of her entire body behind it, swung at my feet, and I jumped lightly, avoiding it.

I wanted to jump upwards normally, but I was immediately buffeted backwards by the air pressure,--

PaPaPaPaPa!

The Koko holding a gun fired her Uzi from behind me.

Twisting around in the air, I--fired the same amount of bullets from my Beretta - Kinji Model, defending with Billiard Shot.

The enemy's bullets all exploded into sparks in the air--

"-Ha!"

This time, as if stretching out from the roof, Meimei, doing a handstand, immediately kicked up at me.

I had no choice, kicking girls is rather painful for me, but--

My feet and Koko's feet met each other midair--

And, I leaped off her feet as if they were a jumping platform.

Meimei and the me in Hysteria Mode. I jumped with the combined power of two. High. Jumping over the flowing power lines and the hanger of the power pole holding them up, swiftly flying upwards for two, three meters.

From midair, using the Desert Eagle--boasting three times the stopping power of a Beretta, I fired at Meimei's Seiryuutou.

--BANG!

With the recoil akin to that of a mortar, I hung in the air for a moment.

As expected of the automatic strongest-class Desert Eagle. This power isn't to be laughed at.

Clank! Deflected, the Seiryuutou was torn out of Meimei's hands, sliding backwards on the top of the Shinkansen.

At the anterior of the car, just as Paonyang picked it up--Clank.

Still in the air, below my feet, the Shinkansen accelerated.

This speed--260 km/h--!

Paonyang embedded the Seiryuutou into the back of the Shinkansen, and I could see that she was using it as a pole to retain her balance.

"Yaiyaiya!"

Having lost her Seiryuutou, Meimei knelt to the ground while screaming that out, fishing two large fans from out of her sleeves.

(Battle-fan--huh? This is the first time I've come up against it.)

From the air, I looked down at the fans, dyed crimson and gold, widening.

I had seen Shirayuki use battle-function fans before, but they had been made out of bamboo and paper.

However, Meimei's Chinese fans were made of metal. The edge, gleaming in the moonlight, was a blade.

Running, Koko twisted her entire body, jumping upwards, trying to dice me like a mixer--

And against that edge, Chnk, Chnk!

I kicked off of it with my spikes, dancing into the air once again.

And once more, I fired the Desert Eagle in midair.

---BANG! ZNG!

Meimei immediately overlaid the metal fans, somewhat deflecting the .50AE bullet.

However, the Desert Eagle's stopping power was cheat-level. Destroying the two fans, it forced Meimei towards the front of the car.

Once again hanging in the air through the recoil, I brushed the aerial cables in the air, modifying my trajectory--

Finally touching the roof of the Shinkansen again, I stretched my arms outward, pointing the Doubla at the Koko sisters.

The light from Hamamatsu station flowed past us like innumerable tracer bullets.

I--

This battle is no longer in desolate territory.

An Aru=Kata gunfight at 260 km/h. This isn't something one can see in even Kung Fu movies.

It's a shame that Hong Kong's famous director, John Woo's camera isn't here.

--SSSHHHHAAAAAAAAA

Going onto a large curve, the Shinkansen leaned to the left as it tried to retain its bank angle.

For the sake of preventing the derailment of high-speed trains, they will take the curve like an airplane, banking.

The chassis moved with centrifugal force, and we were standing slanted along with the train.

Her back against the slanted ground beneath her, Meimei, having thrown away her broken fans, bent over--Ba

The flat of her hand standing erect, she stretched out her hands to retain her balance, her opened knees dropped till they reached right angles as she bent her hips.

And, Thud!

Just like what Riko had did to Haimaki at Butei High station, she kicked up with her right leg.

"As expected, Kinchi. You really do have good skills. If it were possible, I don't want to kill you."

Immediately pointing her right hand at me, Meimei shook her sleeves--Clank!

She took something small out of her sleeve, holding it in her hand.

I can't see it...What is it. What did she take out?

I have a bad feeling.

That is something--like a finishing move.

Staying alert, from the opposite side of Meimei--the sign of a gunshot was--!

"!"

The moment I dropped down--PaPaPaPaPaPa! The sound of gunshots rang out.

The bullets that Paonyang, walking this way, had fired with her Uzi whooshed over my head.

(...Danger!)

The stray bullets that I had just dodged were heading straight for Meimei, in front.

Thinking that, the me in Hysteria Mode readied the stance for Billiard Shot in an instant, but--

All the stray bullets passed through the air just left and right of Meimei. They didn't hit her.

Paonyang--as the Koko that specializes in marksmanship, had shot such that even if she missed me, she would not hit her sister.

With an Uzi, she sprayed countless of bullets in that instant--with a submachine gun.

Amazing marksmanship. The level of Aria, Kana, and I.

Does someone like that still remain in this world?

No...That was not all I should be surprised at.

Meimei--another Koko, was completely at ease.

She trusted that Paonyang's bullets would not hit her. As if she understood that she would not shoot herself.

(They're alteregoistic. These sisters...!)

I leaped upwards, kneeling on one knee on top of the car.

I tried to raise my Beretta to counterattack, but--

While switching the long-magazine of the Uzi, ThudThudThud, Paonyang kicked my head and gun while running over me. Towards Meimei.

Zuzaaaa, Paonyang, doing a headfirst slide at the end of the Shinkansen--

-at Meimei's feet, she stayed lying down like that. As if protecting herself from whatever was about to happen.

"--!"

My eyes caught sight of the equipment that Meimei had whipped out from the palm of her hand.

"Time for the fireworks."

That is--

-the thing which fires the vapor explosive bubbles, an atomizer!

"--Explosive Bubble Dragon Chain!"

Together with that scream, the Explosive Bubble that she released windward wasn't very visible in my dark field of vision--there were many of them.

Zig-zagging side by side, they rushed towards me like a miniature dragon.

(Damn...!)

I can't--dodge that.

A bomb's area of effect is normally an expanding "sphere". Even if its diameter is the extent of a vehicle, one can dodge to the front or back.

However--multiple explosions, stretched out in a row, encompassing the whole of the top of the train, cannot be dodged.

I'll have to take it. If I don't prepare myself to any degree of damage, then...!

As I went "Tch", crossing my arms over my head, protecting it--

At Meimei's side--if one were to call it a dragon, the first Explosive Bubble popped at the tail.

BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM---!

The explosion set off the next bubble, and then the next bubble--the explosions continued in a chain. As if a slender Chinese Dragon was blazing into flame.

"--!"

I put strength into my legs, trying to withstand the impact, but--Clank!

As if a raging dragon had just thundered into my body, I was blown towards the back of the train.

The impact and heat wave stopped my breathing, and for a second, my consciousness--went blank.

Even so, without releasing the guns on my left and right, standing up on the roof, in my ears--

"Meimei! Get Kinji off! Sister Juu came to assist! She came earlier than planned!"

-could hear Koko's voice saying that.

Looking up towards the sky, from the air behind me, Barabarabarabara...

As if brushing past the stars between the clouds, I could see a helicopter approaching.

(Now...Reinforcements for the enemy are coming now...!?)

Earlier, Koko had said, "Promise for a date".

It seemed that that was meeting up and extraction with the companion that was riding this helicopter.

Not even leaving me enough time to frown, Meimei fished a small gourd out of her sleeves, which were being buffeted by the wind--

Guii-----! Thud.

With a pose as if gazing up into the sky, she faced straight up, emptying the contents in one gulp, throwing it away.

"---Drunken Eight Trigrams Palm---"

Sway. In a moment, Meimei, looking as if she had lost her balance--

TapTapTapTapTap! While her twin-tails were fluttering like ribbons in gymnastics, she closed in on me with frontal somersaults and cartwheels.

"--!?"

My reaction towards those erratic movements, which I had seen for the very first time, was late.

Movements like stepping on the gourd that she had thrown away and tripping mixed in, I could not keep Meimei in my sights.

Wh-what kind of movement is that? Drinking alcohol and then fighting...that's impossible!

"JYAAAOOH!"

Thump.

Meimei extended her legs, clinging to my waist, just as I was barely standing.

"Kuh...!"

No, not only her legs.

Shh--snaking around my neck was a twin-tail.

This is what I had been subjected to on the day of "Water Tossing", the irregular choke. That front...!

"ShanShiKeiKeiBa!"

In a heartbeat, Koko was holding her own twin-tails, Guiii!

She threw herself backwards.

"...!"

The same as the day of the opening ceremony, my windpipe and carotid artery was clamped.

I grabbed hold of Koko's twin-tails as if we were playing tug of war, trying to resist, but--

-added to Koko's two arms, she was using the power of her back to pull the tails on her left and right completely tight.

I-I can't...I'm losing my strength...!

"Kihihi! From the beginning, you can't win against the princess of the middle of the world! Peaceful idiot Japanese!"

This is bad...my consciousness is starting to fade...

...I'm done. My mind in Hysteria Mode told me that calmly.

This is my loss. Once again.

The first reason being, this was two against one.

Moreover, those two could completely synchronize their actions exhibiting perfect co-operation.

Teamwork increases the power of individuals.

Yes, I had--been subjected to the figurative opposite of what we had always done to I-U's assassins.

(This too is...divine retribution...?)

The second reason for my loss was...Hysteria Mode. That weak-point had been exposed.

I did not want to hurt girls, without letting Aria join the battle, my battle ability dropped, and even the enemy, Koko, I tried to protect, creating an opening.

Naive. Too naive.

I...really am a peaceful idiot Japanese person.

I smiled a wry smile, tainted with self-derision, but even the muscles in my face...I could no longer put strength into them.

Blackout----when blood no longer flows to the brain, the optic nerves cease their function--at the denouement of that feeling, as I lost consciousness--


---BSSHHHHH! BSHH!


A jarring impact ran into my body from Meimei's twin-tails.

"Auoh!?"

Clink, bent backwards, Meimei dropped towards my feet, the choking maneuver was--

-in an instant, released.

The bundle of silky hair was still wrapped around my hand.

Meimei did a backwards somersault, and her hair had--become short.

The twin-tails on the left and right had been severed. Right at the foundations.

Still contorted, I saw that, at the bottom of my field of vision, two new bullet holes had opened up on the roof of the Shinkansen.

(Ju-just now was...a snipe!?)

And the instant I noticed,


Bang...Bang...!


I heard the sound of distant gunshots.

This--sound.

I hadn't forgotten it.

Time and time again, this sound had been heard as if engraving itself into my consciousness.

The sound of a ...Dragunov sniper rifle!

"Different--that helicopter is different from Sister Ju's! Who is it!"

Along with that gunshot, like a distant crack of a thunder, the sound of Paonyang's panicked voice.

From a swaying helicopter, shooting the roots of a person's twin-tails while they're grappling with somebody on top of a moving Shinkansen, severing two of them together. Furthermore, with a famous rifle, yet nevertheless anachronistic, an SVD.

Able to do something like that, a superhuman sniper....I know nobody besides one person.

"--Reki...!"

The helicopter, following the Shinkansen, was an OH-1.

Inside the Hotogi shrine's garage, Kawasaki Heavy Industry's high-speed helicopter.

From the opened hatch--

Still bandaged in various places around her body, Reki had stuck her body out, holding her sniper rifle in place.

And with a speed which overwhelmed surprise, the muzzle of the Dragunov flashed.

--BSSSSHHH!

The supersonic 7.62mm x 54R impacted the ground by Meimei's left and right feet, looking as if it was brushing past them.

"Ah!"

Letting loose a truncated scream, Meimei pressed against her heel--Thump. She fell upon the ground there.

This is...a manner of falling which suggests that while there was no blood loss, her Achilles tendon had been grazed.

Reki. As always, you are a goddess of sniping. Despite being heavily injured.

With just one bullet, you crippled Meimei's ability to stand.

"--!"

Unable to stay in place, Meimei was buffeted by the wind--

She slid towards the back of the car.

Hssh, Somewhat able to hold on to the signalling device at the foundation of the pantograph, Meimei stayed in that position, hiding herself in the shadow of the installation. She seemed to be trying to protect herself from Reki's follow-up.

"Kin-chan...um, hello? Sorry for interrupting while you're fighting."

A message entered the incam as I was still stunned.

Panicked for whatever reason, Shirayuki's voice.

"What's wrong?"

"From Hotogi's Makieda-san--from the chauffeur-san, there's a phone call."

Ph-phone call?

Frowning, in my ears, Click, Beep, I heard what seemed to be the sound of Shirayuki's cellphone linking with the incam.

"--Tohyama-sama, my deepest apologies. This is Hotogi's Makieda. Right now...I am flying over the anterior of Hope 246."

...This voice.

This is the driver which brought us to the Hotogi Shrine by car.

From that high-speed helicopter, she was talking with Shirayuki?

"Wh-what is it...!"

"This is--our disgrace. The young megumi miko who were watching TV were talking, and Reki-sama, having heard them...took her gun, and kicking Kazayuki off, who tried to take this helicopter to come to Shirayuki-sama's aid, she ordered the pilot, myself, to fly her out."

Looking at the anterior of the vehicle, the helicopter had already descended to the point where it was nearly touching the Shinkansen.

In the co-pilot's seat of the OH-1, extending half her body out of the hatch, Reki--

-while her short hair was being beat down upon by the wind, she was looking down on the very back of the train.

And, giving some sort of order to the pilot's seat of the helicopter...

"--no, Reki-sama, we have already exceeded the vehicular speed limit. If we go any faster...the chassis won't be able to take it...!"

I heard Makieda-san's voice, apparently in response to Reki--

-and even so, Reki pointed her Dragunov at Makieda-san, and I could see her giving Makieda-san some sort of order.

...Barabarabarabarabarabarabara...!

The OH-1 descended even lower while accelerating. At the edge of the very back of the Shinkansen.

Do you plan to board...Reki!?

Impossible. Stop it.

You're injured.

Don't fight!

"Kinji! Pull back the helicopter! --in front of us is a tunnel!"

Reaching over the incam, Aria, apparently having heard the conversation between Hotogi's chauffeur and I, said as if screaming.

Looking back at our direction of advancement, while the vehicle was delineating the large curve, it was heading straight for a tunnel.

Above the tunnel was a mountain.

At this rate--the helicopter will crash right into it!

"Kinji! We're accelerating in another 10 seconds! We're exceeding 300!"

Muto's voice delivered the worst of the situation.

"Makieda-san, rise!"

"...!"

Apparently concentrating on the complex operation under the limit-breaking speed, there was no response from the helicopter.

"Reki! You can't hit anything except birds--Northern Barbarian!"

From the front of the vehicle, with the Uzi that Paonyang was holding by her hip--PaPaPaPaPaPa!

Although it was outside the gun's effective range, she let loose a barrage at the helicopter.

Without taking notice of that, Reki placed her toes on the handle of the helicopter, hanging upside down out of the hatch--she readied her Dragunov.

Pa! Thinking whether the muzzle had flashed--BSSSH!

"Kyuu!"

Paonynang's Uzi was torn out of her hands, falling down towards the track.

The next instant, no longer able to bear the strain, the helicopter tried to avoid the fast approaching mountain, rising--

Feeling that, Reki, Flutter, launched herself off the helicopter, into mid-air.

Zan!

At the very back of the Shinkansen, Reki pierced the roof with her bayonet, clinging on to it.

Her amber eyes immediately faced towards this direction--towards the Kokos and I.

--WHOOOSSH--

Staying at a speed of 300 km/h, the Shinkansen entered the tunnel--

--Ban!

In the midst of the darkness, the airflow around us intensified in a mere moment.

(Uu...!)

The air pressure changing in a heartbeat, my lungs seemed to rip apart.

Buffeted by the vortex of wind, I had no choice but to press myself against the back of the Shinkansen.

Grinding my teeth, straining my ears in the midst of the ever-present roar.

Listening to the operational noise of Hope Number 246, echoing in the tunnel--for whether the sound of the helicopter's explosion was mixed in.

Still tense, my ears searched through the ripping noise.

But...it was alright.

The OH-1 [Ninja] was a helicopter that was as maneuverable as its nickname boasted.

I had only been shown it in a video by Muto, but in case of emergency, it could perform an Immelmann turn.

The helicopter performed a maneuver in reaction to death, avoiding the slope of the mountain, escaping danger.

(Makieda-san--as expected of the chauffeur that armed Miko are entrusted with.)

Above my head, the lights lighting up the tunnel at regular intervals flowed past one by one like a meteor shower.

In that scene, as if out of a movie, at the very back of the train, around 400 meters away, was Reki.

Reki was somewhat standing, and step by step, she advanced. Facing this way.

--No.

Don't come, Reki! You'll die!

You are injured. Fighting under such torturous conditions, your body can't take it..!

"Re-Ki...!"

Clatter! Turning my head to that sound, I could see that, while holding a new Uzi that she had taken out of her sleeves, Paonyang was slowly crawling towards the sloped head of the Shinkansen, which was taking the streamline-curve.

Hiding her body against that slope--when Reki comes into her gun's range, she plans to take the attack with her gun.

"Shira...yuki...!"

Not able to breathe properly in the midst of the wind pressure, pressed on the ear which had the incam inserted into it, shouting.

"Kin-chan! Are you alright!?"

"I'm...alright! Rather than that, Reki has...boarded, from the helicopter! She has, severe injuries, can't let her fight...!"

"Re-Reki-san is...on the train!?"

Pa---!

With that sound, the Shinkansen shot out of the tunnel.

While Reki's skirt was fluttering as if it was about to be torn off, she was already crossing from the car at the very back to the next car.

--There's no choice. Telling her to stop won't stop Reki.

Finally able to breathe normally, I decided to put the final measure that I had been thinking of secretly all this time into action.

"Shirayuki, for the sake of not allowing Reki to fight, for the sake of saving the passengers--there is something a request for you."

"A request for me...?"

"The lead car of the Shinkansen, this Car 16...sever it. With your katana."

"...Eh...!"

"In truth, for the sake of that, I had you stay there. The vapor explosive is in the frontmost car--Car 16. Because the passengers are gathered in Cars 15 and below, if you sever it, casualties will be kept to a minimum."

"But, Kin-chan...will be left at the car with the enemy and the bomb...!"

Worried about me, Shirayuki didn't seem to be willing to immediately accept cutting the Shinkansen apart.

However, it doesn't seem as if I'll have enough time to persuade her.

This train was passing by Shizuoka station, which was desolate after the people had evacuated.

I can't help it. I don't really want to do this, but...I'll put Hysteria Mode's techniques into action.

This is a technique which Nii-san, which is to say Kana, had showed me before, but--

In this kind of time, I can probably do it.

"Shirayuki."

Tone of voice; this kind of feeling is good.

Calm down, Kinji. If you calm down, then you should be able to do it.

"Shirayuki. Are you listening? Shirayuki."

With a voice that was a little deeper, I started speaking as if appealing directly to Shirayuki's heart.

"Ye-yes."

"Ever since before, Shirayuki has known me. Shirayuki, who knows me more deeply than anybody else--wants to say that the burden of this battle is too heavy for me? If that's so, then that truly is unexpected."

"Th-that's..."

"I thought that Shirayuki understood me, yet--was I wrong? Shirayuki."

Mixed with the sweetness of Hysteria Mode, my voice, Shirayuki, Shirayuki, called out that name, weaving it into my words.

"N-no, that's..."

Shirayuki's attitude immediately became as obedient as norm...no, changed into something even more obedient than normal.

Alright, alright, I managed to perform it well.

This is something that has been passed down through the Tohyama family, "Voice Captivation"--a type of hypnotism.

Recently, this was proven scientifically by Seiyuu-training schools, but people are weak against the opposite gender's voice when a special tone and breathing method is blended in.

The Tohyama bloodline, which has Hysteria Mode, has already refined this to an art, passing it down.

According to that piece of knowledge, if one continually responds to girls with their own name, gently, sweetly whispering into their ear...it appears that their mind will gradually become more and more hazy, and they will leave any decision to boys.

"Shirayuki. The severing of the cars--you'll do it for me, right? This is something that only Shirayuki can do."

Controlling my impatience, I continued whispering to Shirayuki.

Because Shirayuki has an incam inserted directly into her ear,

I can expect that it's able to replicate the effect of the contact-distance of whispering.

"Kin-chan...you can...win?"

"Yes. Please leave the enemy and the bomb to us. I'll leave the passengers to Shirayuki and the others. You said that--recently, your Kidoujutsu has been unstable, but...you can cut it?"

"Ye-yes. If I use all my strength, then...definitely!"

At Shirayuki's voice, a wave of relief washed over me.

It seems that she'll do this job for me.

"Kin-chan, I'm cutting it. I'll definitely sever it well!"

"Ye-yeah."

It seemed that she was the type to be easily affected by hypnotism; it felt as if Shirayuki had been completely motivated.

"I'll cut it! Cut! Cut! For the sake of Kin-chan-sama, I'll cut it in half!"

No-now that I think about it...Nii-san had warned me about this. "Voice Captivation" is prohibited from being frequently used and abused.

I have no idea of how one could exploit it, but indeed, if I use this often, then it seems as if it'd be horrible.

It seemed that, in an instant, inside Shirayuki, something like 'loyalty' for me had been amplified...

The future is extremely uneasy.

"--Aria."

I returned my voice to normal, talking to Aria through the incam.

"Aria--please retreat to Car 15. You have Kanae-san's trial. You no longer have the time to be preoccupied with this stupid incident."

"N-no way! I...!"

"Kinji, I heard, you know? It seems that I've been put in the Detention group."

Just as it seemed that Aria was about to starts shouting, Muto's voice interrupted.

"Muto. I'm sorry. That things became like this."

"Heh. I don't care. It's been my dream ever since I was a kid to drive a Shinkansen. With that granted, I feel like it's fine even if I die."

Saying that, Muto's voice was really trustworthy.

Even though it was half-desperate at the same time.

"--Muto. There's also a pantograph at the back of the leading car. If we receive electricity from there, can we keep going even while severed?"

"I'm changing the settings to that right now."

As expected of Muto. He's quick at his job.

No wonder he's an honor student in Logi.

"If we sever the cars--what will happen to the cars in the back?"

"Don't worry. The Shinkansen was designed so that each car can run on its own. Because the New Automatic Train Control System is cut, it can be stopped through manual operation. The crying driver from earlier can do it for us, right?"

While listening to Muto's words, I watched the back end of the vehicle, and Reki had already crossed over the middle of the train.

"Shirayuki, do it, do it for me."

"Yes...! Kin-chan, may the God of battle bless you...!"

Apparently having been conserving her power till now, Shirayuki took a deep breath--

"--Hotogi Soutenryuu--Hihihotogikami - Zankan--!"[1]

Aria07 141.jpg

In the wake of that voice, Shing!, the sound of a blade being drawn, reminiscent of a bell, rang out.

The next instant--without a sound, at the end of the front-most car, the linking portion, light burst forth all around it.

As if several burners were being used, a scarlet light.

"Kya...!"

Meimei drew her neck in at the sudden glare, and immediately after--

Clank...that heavy sound rang out, and Car 15 started drawing back.

"...!"

--Well done; is all that can be said.

The cars had been severed. With that one strike.

Having seen that, Reki started running this way as if trying to push the wind out of her path.

"--Reki! Stop!"

As I shouted, the severed car behind us got farther and farther.

1 meter, 3 meters, 5 meters--

Alright, it was no longer a distance that Reki could cross while fighting against the wind.

The forward-most car, having become solitary--seemed to have become unstable aerodynamically, and its shaking intensified.

In my shaking vision, Shirayuki, visible from the incision at Car 15--

Like Hishikawa Moronobu's Ukiyo-e "Beauty Looking Back", her back was facing this way.

Apparently and probably from some kind of iai technique was the flash just now, and she appeared to be still in the regretful stance which had caused it.

"Kin, chan...!"

Shirayuki--the blade in her hand, Clank, dropped to her knees.

Her breathing ragged, with her exhausted face, she turned to look this way painfully.

Shirayuki, you did well.

Thanks to you, all the passengers are saved.

Reki as well. With this, she can leave the battlefield--with that, Reki, who I looked at again--

"...?"

While sprinting across the roof of Car 15, which had been severed from this one, she took something out of her breast pocket.

My eyes in Hysteria Mode caught sight of it.

(Butei Bullet--!)

That color is, Grenade. Triggering a huge explosion, it is a miniature vaporized fuel explosive.

What do you plan on doing.

Reki--!

"Minamoto no Yoshitsune...Eight Ship Leap...!"

Still collapsed, Meimei said something, pale--

Reki was coming.

Whilst spinning on the spot, Sparkle--in the air, behind her, she released the Butei Bullet.

And once again, sprinting forth with all her strength, she faced this way.


--BAAAAAAAAAAAAANGGGGGGGGG!!


Manually detonated, the Grenade spun into a crimson vortex of flame behind Reki.

The shockwave blew away the wind from the front, acting as an reverse hurricane.

--Reki, while being blown away by the blast--

-cradled the Dragunov, and her skirt seemingly being torn to pieces--she traveled the gap between the two cars.

And--Thud!, she tumbled onto the brink of the leading car.

"--Reki!"

Rolling off the the edge, delineating a curve, Reki, her face unchanging, pierced the roof with her bayonet.

And, clinging onto the stock of her bayonet, her entire weight hanging upon it, she used it as a stepping stone, Paki---, and just as the bayonet snapped, she somehow managed to climb onto the roof.

That body, wrapped in bandages here and there, seemed to have had its wounds opened from the impact just now, and they were soaked in blood.

Why...are you so reckless. Reki.

White smoke streaming from her burning bandages and shoes, Reki, standing on top of the train, as expressionless as always...

Meimei, and even Paonyang, stared up at her in shock.

...Reki.

Robot Reki.

Do you not know even terror?

You'll die if you do that...!

"Why...did you run this way!"

I shouted from the center of the car.

"The reason I ran?"

Removing her burning shoes and socks and tossing them aside, Reki stood barefoot on the back of the Shinkansen--

"--because, Kinji-san too ran for me. On that night, from the mountain, cradling me."

Her method of speaking completely emotionless, she answered with that.

My ears in Hysteria Mode caught that voice even through the wind.

"...Reki..."

After the sniper battle at Hieizan...I thought that Reki had fainted, but it seemed that she was slightly conscious.

Because I faltered in my words out of embarrassment, Reki turned towards Paonyang, who was looking at the situation from the front of the vehicle.

"Also, I made an oath. "I oath to become a single bullet, bringing destruction upon those who wish to harm my lord."--That."

Click.

As if readying a blade, Reki pointed the Dragunov at Meimei.

"Koko of Ranban. Just once, I will give you the chance to surrender. The number of people in battle is already two against one. You have no chance of winning. Disarm the bomb and stop the train."

From behind Reki--

"It's three against one."

Shh, Aria climbed up from the cut section of the Shinkansen.

"Aria...!"

In response to Aria, her jet-black and silver-white Governments drawn, my cheek twitched.

Aria. Although I told her to retreat from this car earlier, it seemed she had stayed.

Reki--continued to keep her back facing Aria,

"Aria-san. Please return to the interior of the car. I believe I told you not to approach Kinji-san."

While her bandages, slightly unraveled, and her short hair was being buffeted by the wind, she spoke a warning.

"...As for the wounded, return to the hospital."

Twin-tails being blown about, Aria answered as if arguing.

"Aria-san is the one that is supposed to retreat."

"That's you, right?"

"It is Aria-san."

"It's you!"

He-hey. Both of you.

Don't fight even here.

The fact is, the two of you being here together in this situation is reality. There's no helping it.

At that point, I thought outside the box. A place to return to, a road, none of that is here.

However--if we are fighting together, if we do not work together, it will be dangerous.

For a Butei and Butei, if they are able to cooperate well, 1+1 will equal 3 or even 4. However, if there is disagreement between them, 1+1 will not even equal 2.

The worst case is, they will drag upon each other, turning it into a negative number.

In the past, Shirayuki and Riko...were opposed to Aria, but if it was an emergency, they would cooperate and fight.

They were not people who would remain stubborn in even times of trouble.

--However, Reki cannot.

Her killing intent, as if the number of enemies had increased by one, was released at Aria, who was behind her.

Aria too, being Aria, was in a mood where she was ready to point her guns at Reki.

This won't do. These two...will fight. At this rate.

I frowned--and just as I clutched my Desert Eagle, nearly out of bullets, and the Beretta--

--Zzaaa--

Once again, the Shinkansen entered a tunnel, and the vehicular noise as well as darkness enveloped us.

However, the tunnel this time was short, and in a few seconds, the vehicle exited.

After exiting the tunnel--a glaring light shone down upon the train.

This light...what is it? Squinting while I looked up into the air--

...Barabarabarabarabara...

A news helicopter, making that noise, was flying in the air at a rather high altitude. There were many of them. It seemed as if they were waiting for this train, Hope 246.

This light was the searchlights that the helicopters were focusing on one point.

The bloody media. From a distance where they would not be affected by an explosion, they were going to be bystanders from above, huh?

"Koko. It's over. Throw down your weapons and raise your hands."

Within the searchlights, which seemed to be carving out a path in the darkness--

I pointed the Desert Eagle, shining brightly, and the Beretta at Paonyang and Meimei respectively.

However...even with that, Paonyang's eyes had not lost their will to fight. The same went for Meimei, collapsed on the ground.

Why? Why won't they wave a white flag?

The Kokos are--

(...Waiting for something...!?)

At the exact moment that my mind in Hysteria Mode realized that...

The sound of the hovering news helicopters changed slightly.

Looking back at the sky, one of them--Eurocopter's AS365, approached from the anterior of the vehicle. Reckless. There's a bomb set on this train. Which location is this TV station from?

--No, wrong...!

That was disguised as a news helicopter--

"Aria! Reki! --Hostile vehicle!"

Right before I shouted, my eyes in Hysteria Mode had caught sight of the pilot.

A girl shouldering a sniper rifle.

She is, she too is, Koko!

Exactly the same as the Kokos that are here, the third Koko.

"Rather than twins, they were triplets...!?"

I went "Tch", glaring at the AS365.

This is one kind of infiltration method.

Even if we chase, even if we knock them down, the next Koko will appear.

"Ah...!"

"..."

Forced away by the descending air pressure that the helicopter was creating, Aria and Reki retreated till they were at my side.

Aria pointed her Governments at the AS365 as if in intimidation, but she did not fire.

It seemed that Reki was observing my order, "Do not kill,"--and she did not shoot the helicopter.

As if jeering at the two, the helicopter swept over the Shinkansen from the back to the front like it was making fun of them.

"Uah!"

Twin-tails pulled taut by the wind, Aria, behind me, was forced to retreat in the direction of advancement.

The helicopter--

"...Uu, Uoah!?"

Directly above Muto, who had shouted into the incam in surprise--it hovered in the air above the cab. No, to be more accurate, it was not hovering. At 350 km/h, it had started to run parallel to it. In the air.

From that helicopter, which seemed as if it was originally for rescue purposes, the hatch opened and--Thud.

Koko, a hook attached to her feet, descended to the tip of the Shinkansen.

The weapon that the third Koko was holding was the famous rifle, renowned for having the highest reliability in the world, an M700. The one that was destroyed by Reki was painted with camouflage paint, but this one, apparently for night-combat, was colored matte black.

"Sister Pao--I kept you waiting. Let's go to Sister Mei."

The Koko that came to reinforce ordered the second Koko, Paonyang, who had earlier called her, "Sister Juu".

I could understand it from her attitude, it seems that this sniper girl is the eldest sister.

"Yes--Sister Juu"

Paonyang responded to Juujuu with one sentence, Ba!

While unfastening the buttons of her ethnic costume, she dived towards the right of the vehicle.

"--!?"

At these movements which appeared suicidal, I drew in a sharp breath--

Billowing in the empty space, Paonyang's clothes expanded into one large piece of cloth like an unfolding piece of origami--as I watched, it turned into a parachute.

This scene. I've seen it before.

Turning into a parachute in an emergency, it was the same as Riko's modified uniform.

Koko, using it not for airborne purposes but to glide, moved in a 'C'-shape next to the Shinkansen.

And, embracing Meimei, who was collapsed at the brink of the back end of the train, she gracefully descended.

Severing the parachute of clothes, Paonyang* was only wearing underwear--despite the fact that she was fourteen years old, she was wearing something like crimson lingerie--and she hid her body behind the installation at the base of the pantograph.

Looking closer, in that one instant, the Seiryuutou that had been embedded into the anterior of the train had been pulled out as well.

(...This is bad...!)

My mind in Hysteria Mode told me that the situation had devolved in a mere moment.

While Paonyang was using the broad Seiryuutou as a shield to protect herself from the Dragunov, she planned to draw Reki into Aru=Kata. Because, if Reki did not have her bayonet, then close-combat was akin to impossible for her.

From the other side, the front of the vehicle, Juujuu pointed the M700 sniper rifle at Aria.

Aria too pointed her Goverments back at her, but there was 20 meters of distance between Juujuu and her. It was not a distance where one could shoot accurately with the accuracy of a pistol.

Each of their enemies having taken an advantageous position, Aria and Reki retreated towards me, who was in the middle of the train, as if clamping down on me with their backs.

And, as if symbolizing the two person's relationship, still unable to try and cooperate in this situation--they stayed like that, their backs facing one another.

"Sister Pao! This is it for business. There are no hostages anymore. The Japanese government won't give us any money.

"I understand, Sister Juu! Retreat and blow up the train. We can't take these people back with us either."

In the sky above the Meimei sisters, who were talking to each other, the helicopter, which had been vacated, rose by a few meters before it stood-by.

Apparently calculating the distance between it and the Shinkansen with a camera, while doing that, it preserved its speed and altitude. It seemed that auto-pilot functionality had been installed on it.

Functionality that was the same as something like the functionality of spacecraft flying parallel to and on the edge of a small planet.

That is amazing. As expected of I-U's engineer.

And--as expected, they are the descendants of China's General of the Three Kingdoms, Cao Cao.

Despite the fact that we wanted to drive them to a dead end, at some point in time, we had had that inflicted upon us.

I had learned this from World History, it seemed that Cao Cao was also a scholar who researched and compiled ancient China's Art of War, "Sun Tzu".

And according to Sun Tzu's Art of War, the three conditions that were critical to victory are: "The time of the skies, the advantages of the earth, the peace between men."

If one were to analyze it in Assault terms, 'the time of the skies' would hold the meaning of timing, 'the advantages of the earth' would hold the meaning of positioning, and 'the peace between men' would hold the meaning of teamwork.

The Kokos had chosen their perfect timing, successively attacking us, using the train and the helicopter freely in order to take the advantageous position, and since they were triplets, they had taken advantage of their synchronization...now, each of them had determined the target that they could defeat.

On the other side, we were limited by the timer of Non-Stop, we were thrown into confusion on the roof and the interior, and with Aria and Reki turning their backs on each other, I was clamped in-between them.

Even though we had higher numbers, even though our personal ability was not below theirs--we had been pressured, driven to a corner.

At this rate, Aria and Reki will be crushed, and then I will be killed in a crossfire.

If--we don't do something.

But, what do we do?

What do we do...!

My mind in Hysteria Mode driven into full operation, after a few seconds--

"...!"

The image of a method to turn this around flashed into my head.

But...Hey, me.

Is that image really possible?

To realize it, we have to have the same thing as the Kokos, the three conditions of heaven, earth, and men.

The time of the heaven--with the correct timing.

The advantage of the earth--creating an advantageous position.

But, for the sake of that, the peace between men--teamwork between Aria and Reki is required.

Right now, that is missing.

Therefore, we cannot help but create it.

--Create it. Who?

Me.

Even if just for a moment. I will make these two people link hands. For the sake of victory.

"Aria, Reki."

To the backs of the two, I spoke.

"I believe. In the two of you, in the depths of your hearts...I believe that you trust each other."

Juujuu is trying to maximize her profits--Paonyang is trying to charge outwards--now!

"--Then, a make-up handshake."

I threw my own Beretta and Desert Eagle up into the air.

And as the two lingered in the air--

Aria's and Reki's arms grasped each other behind their backs.

And half forced, their hands came firmly together.

"!?"

"?"

Aria and Reki were linking hands like girls that were really good friends with each other, turning around to face each other.

While leaning over like a dancer, I--

-with my right and left hand, I turned each of their arms to back to their waists. From a bird's-eye view, we would be in an S-shape.

And, as if I was a chess piece in an axis of revolution, I turned a semi-circle, bent on one knee.


--Guru---!


Using me as an axis--Aria and Reki twirled around as if in a waltz. For me.

--"Castling Turn"--

Two pieces moving in one turn to switch places, a special chess move.

Aria. Reki.

You're good girls. Both of you.

Aria trusted. Trusted Reki, who moved, trusting me.

Reki too trusted. Trusted Aria, who moved, trusting me.

Focusing our consciousness for the enemy's attack, at the timing where we could not defend or dodge--

The two used me as an intermediary, trusting each other, putting teamwork into play. In a mere moment.

But, the moment of that inversion was more than enough.

Their positions changed, each of Reki and Aria's opponents were--Juujuu for Reki, Paonyang for Aria, switching into that position. As I expected.

Sniping versus sniping. Pistol versus pistol.

We had set up that position. With that "Castling Turn".

"--!"

Bang!

Unable to cancel her shot out of reflex in that instant, Juujuu's bullets were--Bch! Clank!

Catching the Desert Eagle that I had released earlier, I used Billiard Shot with my last .50AE.

Juujuu's bullet deflected at an oblique angle, Reki counterattacked with the Dragunov--Tan!

She shot at the feet of the Koko that was a sniper, Juujuu.

"--Ah!"

Tripping in the same manner as Meimei from earlier, Juujuu slid towards the front of the Shinkansen.

"Koko!"

---Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang!

At the back of the vehicle, Aria, while shooting the Governments in both her hands, ran towards Paonyang.

At Paonyang, who was using the Seiryuutou as a shield and planting her feet, I--switched the Beretta which I caught to full-auto, following up with a barrage which all but left my magazine empty.

As expected, apparently unable to endure the consecutive attacks of the Governments and the Beretta, Koko,

"Kyuu!"

-fell on her butt.

Clank Clank!

The Uzi and Seiryuutou held in her left and right hands were precisely torn out of her hands by Aria's .45ACP bullets.

Finally disarmed...towards Paonyang, who was left with the ungraceful appearance of only wearing undergarments,-

"--You're under arrest!"

Without holding back, she charged forwards.

The weapons she was holding having been shot, her hands probably numb, Paonyang was bound by Aria, who had immediately bowled her over, with a wire.

"This is payback for tying me up back then!"

Because, shouting that, Aria had bound Meimei, who could not fight, too, I turned to look at the front of the car--

"..."

At the edge of the continuing slope at the head of the Shinkansen, Reki was crouching there wordlessly.

"Sister Pao! Sister Mei! Save me! I'm slipping! I'm falling!"

In that direction, apparently, clinging unseen to the bottom of the slope, I could hear the sound of Juujuu screaming.

"You are rather noisy. Since you are also a princess, please know your position."

Chchk--

Taking a stance of placing the Dragunov against her shoulder, Reki's barrel was pointed directly at the helicopter in the air.

"...Uguu..."

It seemed that the thought of it being shot down was intolerable--at that, Juujuu fell silent.

--Koko, Koko, and Koko--

All three of them had been rendered useless in combat. Finally.

...There's nobody left, right? After this.

"It can't be that there's more of you, right!?"

Apparently thinking the same thing as I, Aria, Step

Not able to hold back, she stepped on Meimei and Paonyang who looked exactly like her--

Whoosh Whoosh, spinning the pistols on her left and right, she inserted them back into the holsters below her skirt.

Aria07 159.jpg

And, facing upwards, Aria and--

-Reki, standing up, turned to face each other at the same time.

Those eyes, and those eyes, met.

"...D-don't misunderstand, Reki."

Blushing a little, Aria had started stuttering.

"Earlier...was just my body moving by itself."

"--The same goes for me, it was only that my body was moving by itself."

Reki too also said that, remaining stubborn, but--

Aria. Reki. I understand.

Your line of sight, meeting now, was different from earlier.

Those are the eyes of two people who acknowledge each other, the eyes of a Butei and a Butei. Earlier, the event of helping each other which I facilitated--I pray that that is the new first step between two people.

"---You flat chested girl! Remember this!"

From the tip of the car, Juujuu's voice--

"?"

Turning to that, Buwaaaaaa...!

Apparently having taken it out of her sleeves, a pink smokescreen was thrown up, whirling into a vortex.

Together with the smoke, Juujuu seemed to be washed away by the cutting wind--she flew towards the back end of the vehicle.

"--!"

Juujuu, flying extremely far to the back in the space of an, 'Ah', Whoosh....!

Parachute expanding, she performed a rapid deceleration.

Where she was inside the pink smoke, I did not really know, but in the instant that the smoke parted, I saw--hugging her knees to herself, in that position, she had slowed to around 50 km/h.

And staying in that position, Zaaaaa...she touched ground in a small field.

"--What a cold-hearted sister. She left you here."

At Aria, who said that to the Kokos at her feet, apparently slightly regretful that she had let one person get away--

""Kihi...Kihihihihihihi!""

The Kokos responded with an ominous laugh.

"A fight between a tiger and a dragon--We'll take you on the road with us."

"This isn't Kokos' loss. Everyone will be blown away by Explosive Bubble! Idiot, idiot, idiot!"

Kun--The Shinkansen sped up even more. With this, our speed is 370 km/h...!

Apparently not able to keep up at this speed, Koko's helicopter, in the air above us--began to lag behind.

Once it was a certain distance from the train, the helicopter decelerated...landing on the road next to the track.

"You can't do anything except for fight. You're different from Koko."

"Kinchi, you're a useless, slow, idiotic turtle."

There was no longer an escape route. For Koko. And for us.

The Shinkansen was operating in an urban area. No matter where it explodes, there will be casualties.

"--That's right. I'm not nimble like Riko or Aria. I cannot use any techniques like Shirayuki. I don't have the skills like Muto to be able to drive anything. By myself, I cannot do anything."

However, my ears had already caught it.

That noise.

"That's right. You can't do anything!"

At Koko, who said that in a high pitched voice--

"But, we can do anything--"

From behind me, who answered with that--the sound of a horn rang out--

Another Shinkansen had chased us.

""...?""

The Kokos, brows creased, looked at the Shinkansen that was chasing us in shock.

"In this Caravan I, that was something that we learned as well."


We used a wire, returning from the back of the vehicle to the interior.

And for once, the Kokos cooperated with Aria as she brought them inside.

The door to the vehicle was opened due to Muto's operation, and from the door of the rescue Shinkansen, traveling at the exact same speed along the straight railroad--

A tube, roughly 1 meter in diameter, was extended this way, automatically attaching itself with a hook.

"Aya, Ayayayayaya!"

Sliding down that tube as if it was a slide was--

Thump, Her butt planted on the floor, Amdo's Hiraga Aya.

"...I apologize, Hiraga-san. For dragging you into this."

"What are you talking about! If it's one of my customer's problems, no matter where it is, Aya will come running! Tohyama-kun, Reki-san, Riko-chan, everyone is my important customer!"

Hiraga-san tugged on the rope that she had brought with her in the tube, pulling several different tools and a piece of machinery that looked like a fire extinguisher with her--whilst she was doing that, her eyes blinked at me. It seemed that she was trying to wink, but apparently, she couldn't do it.

A girl whom I never know if she's skillful or not.

Bringing in her tools, the tube that was crossing the space between the two Shinkansen's was taken off. For the purpose of transferring signs and signals between each piece of track, there are poles, and this was for the sake of preventing the tube from clashing with them.

However, even though we had nowhere to run, for some reason, Hiraga-san was assembling her equipment in a good mood.

"A-Ayaya! I-i-it's leaking!"

I heard Riko's voice say that from the direction of the seats.

"Just hold on a little longer! If it leaks, then the switch in the seat will short-circuit!"

"Riko is short-circuiting too! Quickly, quickly! Save meeeee!"

Riko...wanted to go to the bathroom?

That's obvious. Because, she had drank far too much strawberry milk.

"Haven't you disabled it, Hiraga!"

Kun--Muto said while making the Shinkansen accelerate further.

With this--390 km/h.

"--Nothing is impossible!!!"

Flashing an innocent smile while working, Hiraga-san answered cheerfully.

We had passed Shinyokohama station. Time left till Tokyo station was--7~8 minutes, huh?

No. If you think about the distance that is needed for the vehicle's system to brake, it's even shorter than that.

Two instruments had been extended out of the fire extinguisher-like piece of equipment, and working very gently, attaching them to the window of the washroom, Hiraga-san--

"The vapor explosive will explode once it mixes with oxygen, I heard that earlier from Riko-chan through wireless."

-said that, and she started working cautiously, but skillfully.

It seemed that, with a cutter that was attached to the tip of the tube, she apparently opened two miniscule holes.

Inside those holes, from one side of the tube, something like a balloon began to expand outwards.

"This is...?"

To Aria, who was looking through the window, Hiraga-san thrust forth her flat chest.

"Inflated with nitrogen, it's a silicon balloon! When it has expanded to fill every corner, the vapor explosive will be forced into this vacuum cylinder."

GoGoGoGoGoGOGo...the sound of a compressor working.

After...three minutes. We had already entered Shinakawa station.

The balloon expanded, and the Explosive Bubble was forced into the gas cylinders while the balloon spread to every corner of the washroom.

Hiraga-san checked the pressure inside the cylinder.

The nighttime view of Tokyo flowed by on the left and right.

Tokyo station was already very close--!

"Kinji, the last acceleration...410 km/h...let's go!"

Kun---!

The shaking of the Shinkansen growing stronger, Hiraga-san stumbled a little.

Will she make it--as I watched over her--

Beep, the piece of equipment made a noise.

"...Aaalllright! I'm done!"

"--Muto, brake!"

Having shouted, I took Aria and Reki, as well as Hiraga-san, into the embrace of my two arms--

I braced my back against the wall of the vehicle.


--EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE--GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII--


In a heartbeat, along with the noise of the wheels gripping--an ear-piercing braking noise.

CLANK!!

The most intense impact up till now rocked the Shinkansen.

Decelerating--

Bang!

Turning to the sound of the explosion, beside us, the window of the washroom beside us blew outwards.

However--the vapor explosive did not explode. All of it had been sucked into the gas cylinder by Hiraga-san.

Because the cylinder rolled to hit the wall with a clank, I felt a chill run down my spine--

"~~~~!"

I endured the G-force of deceleration with my back.

Outside the window, orange light started flashing up from below the car. Sparks raised from the wheels and the rails.

I had thought that after we hit the brakes, we would travel for over 1 kilometer, and we still had not stopped.

Staying like that, the Shinkansen entered Tokyo station--


Giiiiiii...Gii...


Along with that ponderous sound--outside the window, the JR station name display could be seen.


--"Tokyo"--


Visible in the direction of the smoke rising up from below the chassis, that display...stopped.

Stopping--

We achieved it.

With this...everything has been resolved.

I took a deep breath, and--tapped on Aria's back as she continued squeezing her eyes tight in the midst of my arms.

It's all right now.

As if telling her that.

Aria raised her head--

Her camellia eyes first looking out the window, she turned from it to look up at me.

As if looking at a man who had realized something like a miracle.

"Aria...the reason I stay in a dormitory despite my home being in the city, I will tell you now."

Towards me, who was acting as Aria, continuing the small talk that we had had before going up the roof...

"...?"

Aria blinked her large eyes.

"--I don't really like trains."

At those words, Aria, while smiling wryly, replied with one sentence: "Same here,"


Tokyo station, which had been evacuated beforehand, was desolate.

Apparently supposed to act as a shield at the time of detonation, the trains belonging to the empty stations of Yamanote line, Keihintouhoku line, Chuuouhon line and Oumidou line were gathered here.

Furthermore, around the stop signs, sandbags were piled up to prepare for the explosion.

...How polite.

Aria and I stepped onto the platform...

"Ahaa! As a reward for my work, I'll be taking this~♪ Ayaya will help herself!"

From behind, Hiraga-san exited while innocently hugging the canister holding the "Explosive Bubble" to herself.

I see. With that as her goal, she helped us very happily.

"...Careful when you play with fire."

While smiling dryly, I put my hand on Hiraga-san's head, she who had a strong mercantile soul.

"..."

Next was, slinging the Dragunov over her shoulder, Reki, barefoot, descended onto the platform.

"'Tokyo~, Tokyo~, may the customers who are disembarking please be careful not to forget anything'"

Lastly, changing his tone to that of an announcer, Muto, dragging the two Kokos, exited.

On top of each other in an X-shape, sprawled on the platform, the Koko sisters were...were looking between us with an expression which seemed to express that, if we came any closer to them, they would bite us.

Really, what a huge fighting spirit. I want to act like that.

"You two. If you persuade your sister to give up--I'll connect your phones."

Aria sat on top of the two, her arms folded, triumphing over her victory with a serious expression.

"It seems like these people's helicopters have been locked down by the Kanagawa police. I'm not saying this just 'cause I'm Logi, but no matter what kind of person it is, they can't do anything while on foot. She's about to be caught."

While taking off the incam, Muto cracked his shoulders.

"Muto...you worked hard. Thank you."

"What's with the politeness? Butei Charter article 1. It says, do something something with your companions, right? Which is...hey, hey. Can we get out of this station? They really stacked up those sandbags. I was thinking about buying station-lunchboxes--rather, Ryuuyouken's Jet Sieuw Mai."

"Muto~kun! You can exit from here!"

"Kinji, I'll leave the rest to you. Bring them to Dagula and have them squeeze them a little for us."

Hiraga-san, apparently wanting to do the analysis of the Explosive Bubble, if even a moment earlier, and Muto, a station-lunchbox maniac, scurried from the platform of the Shinkansen.

(I think that the station has been locked down though...)

While smiling wryly at the backs of the two, I saw them off, and once again, I knelt down on one knee by the Kokos.

Looking closer, Aria was, from Meimei's sleeve--taking out tools and weapons one by one, knives, hooks, smokebombs, etc...I took a tool that Meimei was carrying, about the size of a rice ball, into my hand...

I tried pulling a strange string which was sticking out of it.

Doing it, Pon.

(Oh...?)

In around a second, expanding out of it like an airbag was--

-clutching her knees, Koko.

A dummy balloon with the appearance of a person.

"......!"

Having seen that, my mind, still in Hysteria Mode, screamed out a warning.

This is bad.

This puppet's characteristics...

These are the characteristics of, the person who had used a parachute of clothes, escaping to the side of the line, Juujuu.

That was--an inflatable dummy. Which is to say...

"--Sisters, retreat. For now, return to Hong Kong."

Koko's voice resounded from the end of the platform, and Aria, Reki, and I turned towards it in unison.

Over there was...dragging her feet, there was the figure of Juujuu, holding an M700 ready.

(Fuck...!)

Juujuu did not fall of the train.

Throwing up a smokescreen, at that point, she switched with the dummy...even if she was not able to climb up, she clung to the side of the Shinkansen. Until Tokyo, the whole while.

Probably crawling along the rail, Juujuu had distanced herself 100 meters, creating the distance to use a sniper rifle.

Nothing can be done with guns.

That aim was...on me. I knew that her sights were meeting my head.

"Reki, don't move!"

At Reki, trying to raise her Dragunov, Koko shouted.

Reki--had noticed that I was being aimed at. She did not ready her gun.

Just, staring in the direction of Juujuu.

"...Ouch!"

Just flicking my eyes to look in Aria's direction, Aria--was having her feet tightly squeezed by the Koko sisters.

The Kokos were, with some sort of desperation, yanking on Aria's hair and skirt.

With that, Aria can't move.

Because, she had gotten carried away, sitting on Koko.

"The wind trained Reki well. It made you lose the heart of a human. In this battle, I understood that veeeerryyy well. You are a girl I cannot use. So, already, you, I do not need."

"..."

"Reki--I expect that you still have bullets. Die by them. Right here, right now."

Juujuu was apparently still in pain from being shot by Reki, and while her foot was trembling--she gave that order.

The M700 aiming at my forehead was a bolt-action rifle, and it could not reload automatically.

If it shot me, in the time until the next bullet was in the chamber, she would be counterattacked by Reki.

She did not want to leave that opportunity.

So, Juujuu ordered Reki to shoot herself.

"If you die, I will not kill Kinchi. Kinchi is a piece I can use, Koko doesn't want to kill him either."

"Koko. As you say...I have one bullet. If I shoot myself, you won't kill Kinji-san?"

Towards Reki, saying that as if in confirmation--I turned in panic.

I had heard this from Jeanne at the Hotogi Shrine.

--Last Bullet--

When those of the clan of Ulus are backed into a corner, when they are hindering their companions--like the samurai which once existed in Japan, they perform Jiketsu. A clan that continues the culture of ancient Japan.

This is dangerous. This situation is--

"Stop it, Reki! No matter what, she won't ki-"

"Kinchi, shut up! Reki, the words just now was an oath by the name of Koko."

My voice was drowned by Koko's words.

"Waiting is unfair for Koko. Reki, shoot yourself right now. If I have to wait, Koko will shoot Kinchi. Reki, it's fine if after that, you shoot Koko. Rather than letting some other person take Kinchi, Koko chooses to die together."

"Koko. Princess of Ranban."

Having said that, Reki--

-placed the stock of the Dragunov at her feet.

"The Reki of Ulus asks. The oath you spoke of--not killing Kinji-san, will you abide by it?"

"You shouldn't make fun of me. Koko is the princess of the prideful Wei."

"--If you break the oath, all 46 girls of the Ulus will destroy you. With everything that they have, the skills that had once conquered the world, they will definitely take your life. By now, you should understand this."

Straightening her back, Reki placed the barrel under her own chin.

"Stop it...Reki!"

"Kinji-san. The girls of Ulus are equal to bullets. However, I was...akin to a defective, unusable bullet. Unusable bullets are meaningless pieces of iron."

"Stop it, Reki! You're being tricked!"

Aria's high-pitched voice pierced the air.

"Kinji-san. You ordered me not to kill a person, but now, I, for the sake of protecting my lord---will shoot myself."

"...!"

"However, please understand that this is not disobedience of your orders. Because--"

"...Stop it..."

"--I am a single bullet.--"

She placed the toe of the foot which had lost its shoe on the trigger of the Dragunov.

"YOU ARE NOT A BULLET!"

My cry was also in vain--

Her expression not even flickering, with her toe, the trigger was--

--pulled.


--Click.


"...!"

Once again, Reki's eyes opened.

Those eyes were--

-clearly opened in surprise.

The bullet--did not fire.

"Misfire..."

Camellia eyes opened, murmuring to herself, Aria too had an expression which conveyed her disbelief.

As for modern bullets, the chance of a misfire is low. It would be correct to say that it is mostly nonexistent.

Furthermore, Reki had her extremely meticulous misfire prevention, even going so far as to make her bullets herself.

The chance of a misfire was one out of a billion...No, it had been controlled to the point where it was one out of a trillion, right?

That had just happened.

Reki was, at that--surprised. Clearly.

"Because, this gun will not fail me."

The Dragunov she had trusted that much had--

-failed. Failed Reki. Now, for the first time.

--Reki.

Earlier, you said that you were an unusable bullet, that you had no meaning.

Misfires have meaning too. Think about that meaning.

"...Kinchi!"

Juujuu-

-in that one instant, understood the change in the situation.

Reki could not kill herself. However, she had no bullets but an unusable bullet.

And, the next danger, the person who could fight was--me.

She is lost.

Kill me now and run, run without killing me and recreate this scenario, attacking us again.

In the space of that hesitation--I snatched the magazine out of the Dragunov that Reki was holding in blank shock.

"--Reki. Don't shoot yourself a second time."

While saying that, I took the last bullet out of the magazine before Reki's eyes--

And I clasped it in my two hands.

While doing that, I stared directly into Reki's eyes. I am furious. For the sake of telling her that.

"This is an order. You said that you would listen to my orders, correct?"

"..."

Reki matched my sharp gaze--Nod.

Wordlessly, she nodded.

Having confirmed that, I revealed the bullet in front of Reki's eyes,

"Now--be born again."

I told her that. Click.

Returning it to the magazine, I slotted the magazine into the Dragunov.

"--Reki. The person you should shoot is that enemy. Once more, believe in me."

I said that to Reki--

Bang--

While I turned back, I stood in a position where I could protect Reki from Koko's sniper rifle.

She would definitely shoot before Reki, who was cradling the gun in a daze.

That one shot--well, if it comes, it comes.

As for my guns, I do not have anymore bullets. Billiard Shot is impossible.

Bullet slicing is impossible too. I don't have my knife anymore.

The Bite I did against Patra--that is also impossible.

That defense is imperfect. Because, I will faint from the impact. Koko still has bullets. If I fall, at the last, I will be killed by the second loaded bullet.

All the methods I had used till now could not be used in this situation.

--However, I will not die. Hysteria Mode is unmatched in this world.

My reflexes, 30 times faster than normal, thrust my hands forward before I could think.

That's right. Definitely, if I do this--!

Towards me, who had taken that stance--Koko--

"Kinchi!"

--Bang!

Along with the gunshot, a 7.62mm NATO was released.

The palm of my two hands, stuck out, was--

-just the index fingers and middle fingers of my opened hands were overlaid in a #-shape.

--Can I do it? This kind of thing?

I was only half-confident in myself, but I could not think of anything but this. In this instantaneous moment.

I surrounded the enemy's bullet trajectory with the square made of my fingers.

The bullet, showing no intention of stopping, approached my fingers--

"--!"


--Whoosh--


Using Edge Catching - Double Finger, I closed in on the bullet with the two fingers of my right hand--

However, the bullet was not restrained, and it flew through the space between my fingers, heading towards me.

A 7.62mm NATO's initial velocity is supersonic.

The full-metal jacket, heading straight between my eyes, was averted slightly to the left--

While spinning, it flew towards my left eye.

With my index finger and my middle finger, once again, I closed in on the bullet.

And, once again, I slightly changed its direction. Further to the left--

"--!"

Whoosh!

A sharp pain ran through my cheek.

And--the bullet--

Clink--

-left and behind me, far away, the glass of the showcase of the vending machine for flowers had been hit, and it was cracked.

As for me--I was not hit.

The bullet had just grazed my left cheek.

I did it--

It was theorized in but a moment, yet when I had tried to do it, it had worked.

With my bare hands, slanting the course of the bullet...a technique which changes it into something akin to the symbol, "/".

If I were to give it a name--Slash--would be what it would be called.

As expected of Hysteria Mode.

Finally, it seemed that I had become such that I was able to deflect a bullet.

Well...I had been injured quite badly though, spraining my fingers. On both of my hands. It really hurts.

"Kinji...y-you, just now..."

Her voice filled with shock, Aria's eyes had widened into circles.

From next to her--

"--In the midst of this darkness.--"

Reki's voice.

Turning to look at her, Reki was closing her eyes, and her Dragunov was raised once again. Aimed towards Juujuu.

That was something I would have never thought would have come from Reki, an extremely irrational movement.

Reki trusted in the fact that the misfire from just now could be fired. That which was uttered just now--

-My words.

"A path of light exists--outside of the light, nothing can be seen, nothing exists. I--"

Reki's...poem when she was sniping had changed.

Opening those eyes once again, Reki--

"--am one who runs in the midst of that light."

-pulled the trigger.


--Bang!


"--!"

This time, having been fired, the Dragunov's 7.62mm x 54R--

--Chiiiiii--

--brushed past Juujuu's head as she was reloading, not hitting its target.

"Kihi...!"

Koko, having broken out into a cold sweat, laughed, holding up the M700.

Aria sucked in a deep breath. Reki, who had perfect accuracy, had, regretfully, missed--so she thought, however, that was wrong.

It is that sniping technique. I had seen it before.

"--!?"

Bang!

Koko, who was on the same level of Reki, fired.

Diagonally, in a completely different direction.

"...? ? ?"

And, Stagger, Stagger, she stumbled about--

-and with an expression which revealed that she had no idea what was happening to her body, Thud.

-at that spot, she toppled.

That was a sniping technique which Reki had used against the Caucasus Silver Wolf--the Haimaki of present, during the period where he had once infiltrated Butei High.

With a normal bullet, grazing one part of the body, applying pressure on one portion of the nervous system, a complex sniping technique which numbed the recipient.

It can be performed on humans too, that technique. As expected of Snipe's prodigy, Reki.

Getting a concussion, her feet unsteady, Koko used the M700 like a cane, trying to rise again, but--

Thud!

Hidden below the platform and above the track, Riko came charging out--and she clung to Koko's back.

"Mi-Mine Riko!"

"Cao Cao-! That's also Cao Cao, this is also Cao Cao. All three are here~. Kufu!"

Like a piggyback monster, she tightly squeezed Koko's body with her two legs, performing a full nelson on her with her hands--and very literally, Koko's two long twin-tails, like snakes, moved to tighten around her neck.

This choke, used in an attempt to kill me twice--Shanshikeikeihou, Riko-version.

"Go to sleep with your own technique, Cao Cao. The person who taught me this move has become my enemy."

"......! !"

Even so, Juujuu reached her hands out to Riko's face as she was behind her, trying to counterattack, but--

-having taken advantage of opportunity where Meimei and Paonyang were rooted in shock, she flew straight towards Juujuu.

"Koko--you really don't know when to give up!"

"Wai-! Aria! Time out, time out!"

Aria ignored Riko's voice, extremely panicked, Thud!

Going into a double-legged dropkick from sprinting forward with all her might, she rammed into Koko.

Riko, Thump!, along with Juujuu, blasted backwards--

"~~~~~~~~~~..."

Finally, she seemed to have fainted. Riko, too.

While smiling wryly at Aria, binding the third Koko with a ferocity akin to that of a tiger devouring a panda--

This time, with this, everything is resolved--I turned my back on the Kokos.

(Reki...)

On the other side, Reki--apparently exhausted, collapsed to the platform, sitting completely straight.

From the Dragunov, which she had not been able to shoot herself with--

As if feeling some sort of message, she tightly, tightly hugged it to herself.

I knelt by her side, and...

I could see that, from Reki's eyes, a single tear fell.

"...Reki..."

"I...do not hear it anymore."

Those shoulders were trembling slightly.

"Hear what?"

"The voice of the wind--I can no longer hear it. The wind has already stopped speaking."

Reki has...

Until now, never made movements that she had thought of herself.

Just being ordered by the "Wind", with this, living like a robot.

Those directions had faded away--so she said.

That was probably the release of the delusion that had been engrained into her by someone.

I had learned this in Inquesta, that type of mind control could be released by a severe shock.

With the shock of her Dragunov failing her, which Reki had trusted from the bottom of her heart, she had been released from that unseen hold.

"The wind is no longer saying anything--huh. Isn't that the same as saying, "think by yourself"?"

Towards me, who had said that, placing my hand on Reki's shoulder...

Reki raised her head.

"I do not understand. From now on, what do I do? From now on, alone--"

"It's fine. The wind is something which blows where it wants, right? And also--you are not alone. I am together with you. Because, after all, you've already submitted our team registration to the school. Within this time, by yourself."

Saying that, I flashed a small smile, straightening my back.

Reki...was silent.

Staying silent, her left and right hands grasping the grip and stock of the Dragunov for support, she stayed in that position for a few moments--

And when a gust of wind blew through the station, Whoosh, she raised her head.

"--anu urus wennuia...Eternity--"

Reki had--

...A song...?

"--Celare clai ol....tu plute ire, urus claia Sky--"

--started singing.

I knew not which country those words stemmed from. I could hear that parts seemed to be in Japanese.

Amazingly mysterious lyrics.

However...it was, a beautiful song.

Even then, its rhythm seemed was so nostalgic, so familiar.

And, Reki's voice. It was wondrous. Its volume was soft, but she sang like a true singer, with perfect tone, such that anybody there who was listening to that beautiful voice would be rendered speechless.

"--Raios Zalo Ado...Ясны, ясны на небе звёзды--"

Standing up, Reki sang, and it reminded me of a bird setting off from its nest, a beautiful, vibrant song--

Aria07 187.jpg

Along with that continuing melody, the wind flowing through the platform strengthened.

As if it was singing. The wind too.

Aah. This is probably--

-The parting song between the wind and Reki.

"--Celare claia ol...tu plute ire, urus claia Sky--"

At the refrain of the song, the wind, intensifying into a gust--

From the vending machine which I had broken earlier, the bouquet of flowers which the person who says farewell gives to the one who sets off on his journey was swept up, released into the air.

The flowers, coming loose, were caressed by the wind, with innumerable amounts of petals scattered into the air.

In the midst of that multi-coloured mist of flowers--Reki walked atop the platform.

Towards the end, which was completely desolate.

(...Reki...)

All words lost, we could not even open our eyes in the face of the intensified wind.

When I closed my eyes, the last thing I could see was--

"--anu urus wennuia...Eternity--"

-in the instant the song, returning to its first line, finished, turning around, Reki--

-as if having been reborn, her fresh, neat face.

That face still could not form anything but a slight expression, but...

...It was smiling, I thought.


The wind stopped--opening my eyes again, Reki's figure was no longer there.

Aria panicked at the fact that Reki had suddenly disappeared, but...I was not like that at all.

Isn't it alright? For the first time, Reki started walking by her own will.

She had stopped living by the orders of someone, and herself acting like a new wind, she walked towards freedom.

So, this is like Reki's second birthday.

Rather, I felt as if I wanted to give her my blessing.

'Happy birthday, Reki'--that.


Brought to our location by Muto and company, the Jieitai's bomb squad came out...

After them, a higher-up from the police, Butei High's Ranbyou and Tsuzuri, those teachers, and the aftermath squad--

A few Butei High students came with them.

After hearing of Reki's disappearance, Snipe's third year Shibaiko-senpai tried looking for her, but...I thought it is useless. Because, by her own will, Reki could completely erase anything like a hint of her presence. As long as she does not try to come out, no matter who looks for her, she won't be found. Even if you brush right past her.

Also...because she had erased her presence by herself, she should be doing things covertly. Right now.

While I was thinking that, I exited from the desolate, maze-like Tokyo station along with the others.

Exiting from the Marunouchi exit, there were several black Butei Cars waiting.

Apparently an Assault elite, and treated differently as such, Aria was taking a car together with Ranbyou...Each of us, Riko, Muto, Hiraga-san and I, were driven by freshmen from Logi, split up, sitting in the backseat of our respective cars.

"...Now that I think about it, did you make it to a toilet? There was no toilet on Car 16."

Hysteria Mode released, I asked lightly, and Riko planted her fist in my left cheek, pressing down on it firmly.

Ou-ouch. The bullet graze from when I had performed Slash, hurt a little.

"Ki-kun! You're not allowed to ask that question of girls! I certainly made it in time!!"

Apparently, Riko, blushing, had...well, somehow done it somewhere.

Pursue it any further, and she'll be pretty pitiable. Even the me of normal understood that.

Turning away to face the window of the backseat, Riko--

"--Kinji. You're a cheater."

-with the manner of speaking of the Other Riko, murmured that.

"What are you talking about?"

"This. My eyes cannot be cheated. Here. There's the mark of a knife."

Saying that, the thing that Riko took out of her pocket was--the shell of a sniper rifle's bullet.

That was the casing of the bullet which Reki had tried to shoot herself with, and after that had failed, shot Koko with.

"...You have sharp eyes, Riko. As expected."

Sinking deeper into the seat, I received the casing from Riko's small hand.

A normal bullet's casing has an ignition point known as a primer attached to it. If there is no primer, the bullet cannot be fired. In other words--the end result is a misfire.

I...

...after hearing about the "Last Bullet" at the Hotogi branch...if the situation became such that she had been pressured to the last bullet--Reki, as Jeanne had said, might shoot herself. That's what I thought.

So, at the sleeping Reki's side, when I was performing the simple disassembly of the Dragunov--I extracted the bullets from the magazine, and removed the primer from the last bullet in advance. In preparation for Koko's next attack.

Removing the primer from the bullet was a rather dangerous action, but if I used my knife, using the special method that I had learned from Nii-san, I could do it.

As I expected, Reki tried to shoot herself with the last bullet--and that bullet ended up being a misfire.

After that, I took the bullet out of the magazine, and I reattached the primer which I had enclosed in my pocket. Clasping the bullet, I acted as if I was concentrating on doing something.

And with that, loaded once again, this bullet performed its correct function, becoming the bullet which decided our victory.

"Kinji--planned this? The whole flow?"

"Well, about half. Rather, it doesn't matter anymore, right? That."

Riko looked this way with an expression of admiration, this time staring out my window.

Visible there was a large billboard advertising the 3D movie to be opened to the public shortly, "The Wizard of Oz"

Now that I think about, when I had eaten ramen with Reki at Odaiba too, that billboard was visible.

"The Wizard of Oz". When I was small, my mother read that to me from a picture-book--and one of the characters which appeared in it, the tin lumberjack who was missing a heart, received a human's heart at the end.

Every one of us is probably like that.

The wandering Dorothy, the cowardly lion, the stupid scarecrow.

However, everyone lent each other their strength, and each of them managed to take hold of their future self.

Like that fairy tale, immediately getting it before the ending...is obviously impossible.

However, it's fine if we approach it step by step. Towards our new self.

So, Reki--you should do that too, from now on.

"Ki-kun, why're you smiling? Are you so happy to be next to Riko?

While pushing Riko, who had returned to Normal Riko and was cuddling up against me, I noticed that I was smiling wryly.

I had been completely--drawn to Reki's side. I was just thinking about this.

Lima Syndrome, which I had planned to use on the night which I was placed under Sniper Restriction by Reki--

-the reverse of that psychological phenomenon, Stockholm Syndrome, exists.

The people who are imprisoned feels sympathy for the people who are imprisoning them...a phenomenon where they become completely allies of their capturers.

This was, probably, that.

I had planned to win her over, but I had been won over instead.

Of course, the other side was not conscious of this result.

Now, I am definitely standing by that wordless and expressionless beautiful girl who is out there somewhere--Reki.


Translator's Notes and References[edit]

  1. Hotogi Heavenly Arts -- Scarlet Blazing God of Hotogi - Link Cut