Hidan no Aria:Volume7 Chapter4

From Baka-Tsuki
Jump to: navigation, search

4th Ammo: Team Baskerville[edit]

Returning to Butei High in the night....

After the Masters ensured that there were no severely wounded casualties, they quickly split us up by subject and distributed debriefing records. It sickens me. Let us rest a bit first. At least allow us a bowl of katsudon. Aria was taken by the Assault instructor Ranbyou to the principal's office. Riko and I were Inquesta while Mutou was of Logi; we were all interviewed by our respective instructors. After that, the Masters got into contact with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, the media and the JR. I thought we would be castigated for cutting the Shinkansen; however, with the capture of the perpetrators, this did not happen.

On the contrary, we were lauded for resolving the issue. Officially to boot. Like this, Butei High did not have to take responsibility for Koko and her group's hijack of the Shinkansen to extort money from the Japanese government. This was a very nicely done maneuver no matter how you look at it.

"Tohyama-kun, I'll tell you this before the start of legal hearings for a plea-bargain. The fact that you all were targeted must be kept strictly confidential lest some very important person gets upset."

The Inquesta Master Takamagahara Yutori said. With the presence of the black suited man during our debriefing on top of Yutori's words, I could somehow understand that. Judging from his badge, that guy was an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs holding the class of a vice-minister. This was probably related to Aria. As a general rule, regardless of whatever cases Butei are involved in, international ones are their own responsibility. However, Aria is a foreign aristocrat.

It was better for Japanese-British relations that the fact that she was exposed to great danger on Japanese soil not to be made public. These are the so-called "adult matters" in which we kids have no say. This isn't exactly a very good point either because if it continues to worsen, it would prove troublesome indeed.


Perhaps there was an attempt to offer us hush money, for the official mentioned something about "the government offering us distress money in the future" of which our polite refusals of his good-will caused us to be eventually dismissed very late.

Once we finished, I headed over to the No. 2 girls dorm. To the highest floor......to Reki's room. Opening the door with the cardkey I got from her before, I found the interior dark. Although I already expected this, still there really was no one in.

(Reki...)

A naked light bulb cast its light to no purpose on a room of bare concrete. The living room window was shut and the silence was deafening.

The wind.....didn't blow here.

It wouldn't anymore.


Returning to my own room in the boy's dormitory, here too, there was nobody. According to Ranbyou whom I crossed paths with on my way, Aria had headed to Toranomon for a preparatory meeting with a female lawyer whom she had hired, before the trial of her mother Kanzaki Kanae. Doing so after such a major operation; she really is tough.

I entered the living room....

*Chika*, *chika*

I noticed the flicker of a light.

.....What? The answering machine of my rarely used landline is at maximum capacity? This is 1 min x 30 messages and with 30 minutes of recording time....With an unpleasant feeling in my heart, I pushed the playback button.

"Kin-chan, are you alright?"

As I thought, Shirayuki.

That girl....whenever anything happens, she'll have this habit of incessantly sending mail....As my cell was destroyed and thus could not be connected, she contacted here instead.

"If you receive this message, even if it might be a trouble....please call me back. I believe Kin-chan's alright, yet....guuugh....I'm really...worried....u...hu...hu...."

Shirayuki had been separated from me when she had been left behind in Shizuoka with the rear portion of railway cars.

I know you are worried, but don't call for 30 minutes.

After a momentary break, the recordings began to play the next portion.

"Uu...eguu...huu..Kin-chan...uu...uu...uuuuuuuu....."

S...scary!

Please stop crying into the recording. In the dead of the night it's like a ghost.

With apprehension, I played the next part which was...

".....I've just got a call from Butei High! I am so relieved when I heard that Kin-chan's alright. The criminals have all been captured too! How truly magnificently done....! Kin-chan is truly amazing. Truly amazing, Kin-chan is.....aa.....Kin-chan is...truly an amazing gentleman...."

Why the repetition...

"All of us here are fine. We are taking the Tokaido Line back. It will be pretty late when we get back but I'll prepare a feast after we return. Just a short while back, I bought fresh crab!"

Shirayuki being Shirayuki, this switch in tone is too fast.

Speaking of which, have you brought the crab back yet?

Uu...there's still some more messages. I'm getting sleepy already.

"Kin-chan, about that...about that...that pregnant woman aboard the Shinkansen; she safely delivered her baby at a Shizuoka hospital! That's just great news...I just received the photograph by e-mail. It's a cute little girl! Errm....speaking of which...do you like babies Kin-chan? I like them a lot. They are so cute, just looking at them makes me feel all blissful inside. That...that's why I.....I....someday...someday, Kin..."

*Pi*......I pushed the stop button.

Stop....stop.

This no longer has anything to do with the initial purpose of ensuring my safety. Furthermore, what's with this bad feeling crawling down my back. Right, time to delete them all. Despite being sleepy; well Shirayuki was rather worried, so I gave her a call. In the face of all that excited screaming, I simply said, "I'm fine. Don't worry. Sleep now," before quickly ending the call.

Disconnecting the phone line and having showered, I lay alone in bed for a long time without my cell and nothing in particular to do.

(Koko, Koko, Koko...)[1]

I dimly reflected on the memory of the three sisters who had targeted Reki and me. Those three were all captured at Tokyo station, screaming and cursing all the way to the end. To better differentiate them for the Logi seniors escorting them, the words "eldest daughter", "second daughter" and "third daughter" were stuck on their foreheads, in a most amusing manner; just like the kyonshi in that old film "Mr. Vampire". Tonight, those three sisters would be interrogated by the Dagula's top S instructor Tsuzuri Umeko.

I don't know the details and I don't wish to know, but I hear that Tsuzuri does some rather horrific stuff to suspects during her interrogations. Good. Let them get their punishment.

(Well then....this time around...)

This time around, can I finally say my great ancestor's favorite phrase?

"With this, one case is closed"

But this phrase....thinking about it now, it has a ring of unease to it. One case closed. Doesn't this.....give the feeling that there will be a 2nd, a 3rd case? Oi....great ancestor....


Due to nothing happening after being vigilant for some time, I could spend my entire SW after Caravan I resting. No wait, it would be more proper to say, the start of the vacation. The prologue would be being awoken just some time after noon the next day by Shirayuki making crab fried rice. With Aria absent, that left Shirayuki and me to do the cleaning, washing and cooking. Shirayuki, who as ever, was a god with these household skills, was like one of the maids commonly found in Riko's games. I spent my vacation leisurely under the care of Shirayuki, who for some reason was extremely blissful every day, while taking my time to pick a new cell phone.

Just in the middle of those tranquil days, right in the midst of my vacation, Riko, who had somehow gotten the cardkey to my room from god knows where, appeared in my room. A brutal mood like that found in a Western shootout scene filled the room. "Ki~ku~n♪" Riko said in a catlike voice. "Get away from Kin-chan-sama, you adulterer!"[2] Responded Shirayuki. With a swing of a knife, I returned to those sad days; Riko clinging all over me for who knows, possibly the sake of killing time and Shirayuki would always grab her, swing her nagadosu, even let fly with her M60. My room has already been the scene of 10 grappling matches, 12 sword duels and 15 gun battles. Riko who likes games of chance besides fighting and Shirayuki who is easily provoked.....whether it be arm wrestling or speed eating, there have been many battles between those two. And Shirayuki being Shirayuki and having the ridiculous reasoning that "a wife should never lose to a mistress!" would always readily join battle. At times when I return home, those two would be on all fours head butting each other with grunts of "mo...!" "nnmo....!" like bulls......hey you two, aren't you actually on pretty good terms since it has even come to this? So it was that September arrived in the midst of this unceasing hubbub. The time had come to register the team roster that was submitted earlier even if I was reluctant to do so.

Normally, a representative from the team would attend the application, the Masters would give a confirmation call after the field trip and an affirmative reply would be made and finally, the confirmation photograph would be taken. However, as Reki did not respond to the Masters' call, our team had not been confirmed. Which is to say that I did not belong to any team and that I'm left dangling. Well, even if my case is a little special, truth is on our field trip, there were numerous "we are still not a team yet" incidents. That is why there were emergency measures known as "Just" for these students. These on-site applications simply required one to fill out and submit on paper the names of the team members. Once the Masters take a group photo, the team would be considered "acknowledged/registered." In short, it is a shortened, last-minute registration of a team. Nonetheless, the deadline for this emergency measure is tomorrow. As expected of me feeling impatient, I called Aria.

"About the formation of the team, please wait for a while." Awaiting instructions, I got only this from Aria.

"You told me to wait, that means you already have a plan?"

"Yes, but since you used that kind of tone on me earlier, I won't tell you. H-un."

Making that kind of anime sound with her nose, she hung up. It seems that..... she still could not let go over the "I'm fine with anything about the team formation" I had said before Caravan I. Certainly, that had been my fault however....good grief, Aria is certainly like a bratty kid in stature and personality.


Like that.....

During the deadline of the on-site applications the next day, I was unattached to any group. Students who did not manage to fill in an on-site application would have their team decided for them by the Masters. Well at worst, so be it. Either way, I still intend to transfer out of Butei High. Just when I was feeling a little unwell and forcing myself to study,

"Kin-chan, I'm sorry. I haven't said this until now...."

Shirayuki brought in something wrapped in a furoshiki. That body resembling a gravure model was dressed in a black outfit. The neat ribbon across the breast of her blouse was black. The hair band she normally wore was also black. Furthermore, her hair was tied up, which was rare. This was not like the usual Shirayuki. It appears that that clothing was Diviza Nero; the attire worn by students taking their team confirmation photos. It has been loaned out from Amdo.

"Ki..ki...ki...kun come here♪ The water here's sweet♪"

Riko sang as she appeared, also wearing black. She wore a design which daringly revealed her skin, particularly her breasts. Most disagreeable. One can tell at a single glance that she wore no underwear on her breasts. On that note, is the protection offered alright? Wearing bulletproof clothing which exposes the skin.... Averting my eyes in embarrassment upwards, I saw that the ribbons holding her two-side up tails in place were also black. These two were totally in black from head to foot.

"The team's....Just. You are all attending it?"

"Thaaat's right! Kiii...kun must go too!"

"......Me....too.....?"

"About that, even though it's not good to say, but....earlier, I divined that I would form a team with Kin-chan....so I did not tell anyone about the team's application. Furthermore, I heard from Aria after Caravan I that everyone would be in the team...."

I opened the furoshiki while listening to Shirayuki. Inside, was a black suit.

This is.....the Diviza Zero that I would use.

"Riko-rin and Aria also formed a two man team; however, we annulled it during the confirmation. Aria had changed her mind; this was for the purpose of forming a new team with Ki-kun and everyone else."

So saying, Riko showed me the application slip for the on-site application.

On it was....

Team Name "Baskerville"
Members
〇 Kanzaki.H.Aria (Assault)

◎ Tohyama Kinji (Inquesta)

・ Hotogi Shirayuki (SSR)

・ Mine Riko (Inquesta)

・ Reki (Snipe)

These 5 names were written.

This is the team that Aria envisioned.

Setting aside the fact that a double circle denoted me as leader, even Aria had a single circle marking her as the vice-captain.

"Oi...this is...."

I said while pointing at Reki's name.

After the Just, the students of the newly formed team had to have a group photograph taken by the Masters. Like this, each team member displayed their mutual solidarity.

However.....Reki, who had vanished at Tokyo Station, was still missing.

Which means that there was no way we could register.

"Un....Since we cannot contact Reki-san, we may cancel her name. But Kin-chan wants to do Butei work with her, right?"

Shirayuki said with upturned eyes, as if she shared the same misunderstanding as Aria.....

However, it didn't seem fitting to tell her about Reki interning herself to me as a sniper at this juncture. With nothing confirmed or denied, I listened to whatever else she had to say.

"That's why Aria was bent on including Reki in the team. She said that, 'if Kinji is to be included, then so too must Reki be included. Otherwise, this team would be against Kinji's wishes. '"

"But Rekyu is still missing. I don't know whether she can join the team like that," Riko said, continuing Shirayuki's observations.

"And thus Aria said that, 'letting Kinji have false hopes isn't good, so please don't tell him about the team before Reki has been admitted.' Well, Aria being concerned about Ki-kun is a good thing that's why Riko won't say anything more from now. Apologies."

Aria.....

So that's the reason you were so vague about the team last night. Such human concern was so gentle and female. Even if you were like a man in every other aspect.

"However we still could not contact Reki by phone in the end. Just in case, she sent the assembly location and time of the application to Reki by text but there was no reply."

Looking at the downcast Shirayuki, I thought, "That's understandable," since Reki's phone was destroyed in Kyouto by Koko.

"Aria is already at the photo taking site. She was already there waiting for Rekyu first thing in the morning. The deadline is noon today. 30 more minutes and it will be time. Well, we can't go yet Ki-kun! Put on your clothes! This is Ki-kun's on the spot changing show! Kyahaaa!"

Riko said as she reached for my belt while I stood still with the black suit in hand. Looking as if I would be stripped of my trousers, I shifted away from Riko.....With the Diviza Nero in hand, I left to change. Partly without protest.


My room was originally a four man room so there were a few to double as private rooms. Entering one of them, I straightened my hair before a mirror and got changed.

*Kasha*

From the roof, came the sound of a phone camera clicking.

"Ki-kun is too exposed. If I were using a pistol, Ki-kun would be a wind hole now."

Looking up, I saw that one of the roof panels had been removed. Riko hung upside down from there with her upper body sticking out, waving her rhinestone adorned cell phone.

....Appearing in weird places again, as usual.

"Girls shouldn't take pictures of men changing. Even if I don't do it, our roles would normally be reversed."

Already knowing that stopping Riko's weird behavior is fruitless, I checked out my new look with a black necktie in the mirror.

"Ki-kun's life photos can be sold to Yuki-chan for a considerable price. Kuhihihi..."

I say, Shirayuki would really buy them. You two really do get along, no? Definitely.

"By the way, is it okay with you Riko?"

Just in case....

I should ask Riko hanging over my head first. Looking in the mirror;

"You want to kill Aria and me. However fighting would be difficult if we form a team. Butei seriously fighting among themselves is strictly forbidden. Killings within a team are especially heavy crimes."

"Ha. This girl here is an outlaw. Tu es amnésie"

Riko.....her voice suddenly becoming sharp, turned towards me with a grin.

"The reason why I am working with you all, is so that others do not kill you. I said it after defeating Vlad, "I won't forgive you if you get killed by anyone else besides me." But after that, how many instances where there in which you all were nearly killed? It was also very dangerous this time round. I can't bear this any longer. Furthermore the Bandire[3] is fast approaching. For the sake of the future from now on before Aria and Kinji are fully grown, I will always be with you. Once the cerises [cherries] are ripe, I will eat you down anew.

"After this......the Ban..... what?"

Looking at Riko who mentioned that unknown danger....however, the ceiling was as it was before. There was no trace left let alone Riko. I let out a "hun" from my nose like I was trying to dispel this uneasy atmosphere before putting on my black suit and leaving the room.


This year's team photo shoot was held at the roof of the Inquesta block. When the 3 of us, Shirayuki, Riko and me, arrived, we found that there were more black-clad students there than we thought. 20-30 people were present. Were they all here for the Just? We were the same, yet its seemed that everybody was still hesitant at the end. Well, a Butei team is based upon mutual trust with lives. This is not something that can be so easily decided. Being unsure up to the last moment is entirely natural. I looked out over the rooftop beneath the overcast sky. There, amidst the milling crowd of students....was Aria. She was wearing what should be a specially made mini-sized Diviza Nero with a tube top beneath her jacket. Her navel was intermittently exposed as her clothes fluttered in the wind. A rectangle was marked out in black vinyl tape on the floor. The other teams waited in line in the middle of this area for Ranbyou to take their pictures.

"Oi, Aria. Kaminari-sama will eat your navel."

I said to the silent Aria who appeared to be having her picture taken.

"Kinji."

Aria, who had turned around, gave my navel and the overcast sky a "?" look

Her beautiful brows deeply furrowed, she walked towards me, Shirayuki and Riko.

"Once more you speak such ridiculous things. It isn't my navel that's going to be photographed."

Apparently, this child who has just returned to her country had no idea about the saying where Raijin is supposed to eat human navels.

Alright. Now was not the mood for explanation but next time I'll do so and give her a good scare. That's because Aria has a strong phobia of thunder.

"Approximately how long till the deadline?"

"Around 5 minutes."

At both Shirayuki and Riko saying this, Aria's camellia eyes turned up towards me.

"Kinji.....are you okay with it ....coming here? About you.... forming a team....with us"

"Whether I'm fine with it or not, you have already written my name on the application form. And as leader to boot."

"I, I was thinking of forcing you in because the matter between Reki and I would not abide us being in a team....I never thought about stealing you away from Reki's side."

Aria, who was slightly embarrassed at saying such forceful things, fell silent. I.....said nothing and watched the surroundings.

Reki.....didn't turn up. As I expected.

"There is no more time. What do we do with Reki?"

"Wait until the end. I'll text her again."

Aria said, cradling her arm and looking at the stairs.

About...4 and a half minutes left...

Looking at Assault Master Ranbyou who was handling today's photo taking and at Riko and Shirayuki who were holding the application form, I leaned over slightly and whispered,

"Aria, listen to me. It's still alright to cancel now."

"......? What?"

Aria leaned over, directing her tiny left ear at me.

".....Riko; she's dangerous. We still don't know if she's a friend or foe."

"I knew that all along. When the time comes, there will still be a final showdown between her and me."

"She may launch a sneak attack on us. She will always be around us if we form a team."

"She's not that type. Despite her appearances she's very prideful."

Aria, whose own pride reached into the heights of space, looked behind her.

"Anyway, if I do fall to a sneak attack, avenge me. That's an order. Carry it out well, okay?"

"Me defeat Riko? That's a very serious matter. And strictly speaking, if you are going to order me why do you still need me to be leader?"

"That's for the strategic purpose of Kinji taking the role of UL in battle formation. In other words, a leader in name only. The orders will still come from me."

Even if I don't hand you that task, you would still start issuing orders of your own accord anyway. But if I were to mention that, a handgun would come into play.

Well, whatever. Just take it as I'm lending you the title of leader.

"Also, the team name sounds like that of a vehicle. What does it mean?"

"Aa...that's the name of a place that I own. It's in the Dartmoor region of Devon county."

Aria casually said as my eyes widened. Owning a piece of land...but she's a highborn lady doesn't she already own land? Does she intend to wear a crown on her head as well? I stared at Aria's twin tails in surprise.

".....Well, it's empty wilderness. It's just inheritance of one of the scenes of the Holmes family's triumphs. I didn't even earn it through my own efforts." Aria averted my gaze in mild embarrassment.

I remember that name.....Baskerville. I read about it in the Inquesta textbooks. Amidst the cases solved by the original Sherlock Holmes, that name appeared. Later, the Holmes family acquired the land where that case occurred and named it Baskerville. And now, it belonged to Aria.

(As I thought, she's really a noble lady...)

I shook my head and while doing so, saw for a moment at the edge of my vision.....a flicker of white.

".....?"

In the shadow of the 2m high air-conditioning unit installed on the roof....was something that looked like a white tail.

"......!"

I.....broke into a run.

"Kinji!?"

Ignoring Aria's voice from behind, I sprinted towards the air-con unit.

....That was...

It doesn't merely look like it; it was a tail. Covered in silver fur, it was the tail of an animal.

(It likely isn't a mistake....)

Turning a corner round the air-con unit, there....was a silver wolf.

Haimaki.

And.....

His master.

A girl with short cut hair, wearing a Diviza Nero in the form of a man's suit. Her back against the side of the unit, gazing impassively at us as she stood there without a word....

"Reki....!"

Aria, who had chased after me, shouted the girl's name.

"....."

Reki, who stood below my field of vision, no longer had a bandage wrapped around her brow. I was still worried about her other wounds but from the looks of it, she was alright. Her 4 kg Dragunov sniper rifle was also carried on her shoulder in her usual manner.

"Reki-san! This is wonderful, you made it in time....! Everyone was searching really hard for you, yes? Where did you go? Really....."

Shirayuki, who was running over with Riko looked as if she was interrogating a younger child as she questioned Reki.

"....After joining up with Haimaki, I headed for Kyouto."

"Eh?"

Seeing Shirayuki's surprised expression, it seems that she did not go to the Hotogi branch shrine there. She must have found it hard to show up there after stealing their helicopter. And Haimaki must have sensed that his master was near and thus, left the shrine.

"....After which we made a reservation at the inn where we came under attack before and had a bath there." Inn.....you mean you were at Saori-san's Hachinoko? Speaking of which, baths? You still rely on traditional healing remedies and those are severe wounds. Well since you are healed now it's good.

"Even so....you knew that we were here."

I said as I remembered that Reki's cell phone had been destroyed.

"After I bought a cell phone just now, I received Aria's message immediately."

Reki replied as she lowered her head.

(Ah...so that's the case)

The moment I charged the phone that I bought a few days back, I was surprised by getting a mail from Mutou and Shiranui. It seems that Reki encountered the same situation. Generally speaking, when cell phones that are receiving messages are out of range or off, the message will be saved for a few days in the network center. And once it detects a signal again, the message will be sent anew. It's the same with new phones bought after the destruction of the previous one. It just requires the user to use the same number and not change his mail address. That's why Reki received Aria's message when she bought a new phone. A wry smile surfaced when I imagined the surrealism of Reki in an electronics shop but it's fortunate that Reki bought a new phone today. If it were tomorrow, it would be too late.

(In any case, Reki.....made it here. She would never hear the Wind again.)

...Yes. She came of her own accord. This would be the first time Reki had acted on her own free will.

......Welcome. Welcome, Reki.

"....."

Aria....

Despite rushing over immediately, was silent.

What's....with this hesitation? The deadline of the Just is drawing near. Well, despite forming a team after you had a big fight, it's understandable there would be a strain in relations.

....Can't be helped. This is where I come in.

As I wasn't in Hysteria Mode now, I don't know if I can skillfully restore the ties between both girls to their former state.

"Reki, are you fine with joining this team? Even if its arbitrarily formed by Aria."

I asked in place of Aria.

Reki....nodded her head without a word.

"Well then, hurry up and say what you want to say, Aria. After that we hold hands like friends and go get our picture taken. During the battle when you were being attacked on both sides by the Koko's you were holding hands."

Recalling the turn above the Shinkansen, I pressed Aria on....

"During that time, I only did that because it was the best thing to do."

Aria, red from embarrassment, responded as she looked up at Reki.

"But you wanted Reki in your team. Stop being so hard-hearted."

"Th...the team needed a sniper in it. That's why I included her."

Aria...this stubborn girl....My words seem to have had the opposite effect. It would be bad if I continued speaking and they end up fighting. They would still be fighting when the deadline passed. Just when I was getting my hands burnt dealing with this troublesome kid, a lifeboat appeared...

"Even though you say all these things, Aria actually likes Reki, no?"

"Come on Aria, it's fine saying it. Yesterday, I felt pity for you watching from the sides....you were so worried about Reki."

Riko and Shirayuki said from both sides.

Aria looked at the two of them, looked at me, and then looked at Reki.

Buwaaaa

With no time for me to thank Shirayuki and Riko, Aria's face turned red.

"That...that's not the case! I....I...."

So saying, Aria, who had extended a trembling arm towards Reki....took one step, a second, and walked towards Reki.

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

....She hugged her.

"Reki....Reki.....I was so worried! Why did you suddenly disappear...!"

The crying Aria and the expressionless Reki as she was being hugged.

Riko laughed as she watched those two and Shirayuki looked as if she was the elder sister kindly looking upon her two younger sisters.

G-Great.

As I thought, to get girls to make up, you need the help of girls.

"Aria-san, that time atop the Shinkansen..."

Reki, from the center of Aria's arms....

"Thank you for holding my hand."

Looking into Aria's face, they were the first words of gratitude she had spoken.

Thank you.

Until now, Reki had never said those words to anyone as far as I can remember. And hearing those common words from Reki, who was so silent that it seemed like that would never happen, it made me feel good.

Reki did change a little after that life-threatening Caravan I after all.

Hearing this overly frank gratitude Aria....whose face had been red from embarrassment for a moment, neatly turned to face Reki.

"Reki....I too am thankful. For coming that time....thank you. Let's erase this hole in our friendship. Let's now......restore diplomatic ties? Renew our relations? Err....let's be friends again!"

I gave a bitter laugh at such strange words for mending ties.

"Hey hey! My dear students! There is still 15 seconds to the deadline. Butei are to strictly adhere to that timing!"

A man's voice could be heard from somewhere. I looked at everyone who was dispersed. This voice....the owner was famous for only remaining audible while he himself was invisible. Master of Lezzad, Chan Wu.

"Oi little brats! Stop clinging all over each other and come here! There's around 10 seconds left! Hurry up and enter this border and have your picture taken!"

Looking in this direction, Assault Master Ranbyou brandished a camera and denoted the area marked out by vinyl tape on the floor.

Aria07 219.jpg

"Let's go."

Aria grasped Reki's hand. Just like when they were atop the Shinkansen.

"Alright, we'd also better get going."

Pushing Shirayuki and Riko by the shoulder, I hurried towards Ranbyou and her camera. Ahead of us, Reki who seemed unsure how to react after having her real self accepted by another person, ran behind after Aria's lead. Chasing after those two, I smiled.

Here, on this rooftop of the Inquesta building was where a month ago, Reki became my partner against my will. And now....at this very same spot, we dragged Reki into our team. What an inversion it is.

"5 seconds left! Run!"

Charging towards Ranbyou, who was looking at her watch and shouting angrily, the 5 of us entered the area in one scattered block. There was no time left to neatly line up like an exemplary team. If this were a normal photo shoot, the photographer would say "Smile, look this way!"

"Alright. No smiling! Look diagonally ahead!"

This is a Butei group shot. It required us to look diagonally ahead, giving little hint of our true selves. We wore black to prevent the identification of our school from the uniform.

"Team Baskerville! Kanzaki H Aria Just!"

Aria, who was first to stand in the middle of the area, said to Ranbyou with her hands on her waist. To her right rear, Reki, in order to prevent her Dragunov from being photographed, pushed the rifle sling on her shoulder back a little to hide it. At Aria's left rear, Riko folded her arms and faced to one side, with only her eyes focused on the camera. I brushed my hair slightly such that it covered the wound left on my cheek by the Slash. To hide the taping covering my still aching fingers, I placed my hand in my pocket and entered the frame's right corner. If anyone deduced my techniques from my scars, that would leave me at a disadvantage. Last to enter the left corner was Shirayuki, who, demonstrating her fine upbringing, faced Ranbyou's camera with a slight smile.

"September 23rd 1159 hrs, Team Baskerville....Acknowledged, entered!"

Looking at her watch, Ranbyou raised the camera and pushed the shutter release at the very last minute.

And so, the strobe flashed with a sound.

Unexpectedly however, the camera that Ranbyou hurriedly raised was slanted. Although all five of us were captured in the picture, it was messily crooked to one side. Well, whatever, it's a photograph of us who always leaves things to the last minute.

At that time, I never expected that this photograph.......

.....would be the first and last one together for us, the five members of Baskerville.


After an evening shower, the sky cleared. A rose-coloured sunset engulfed Tokyo...

I took Reki and Haimaki to the western tip of the Academy Island outside the fence that prevents anyone falling into the sea. This was for the purpose of giving Haimaki that reward I promised him on that mountain during the sniper battle.

"Here...eat up. It's really troublesome peeling off all the vinyl wrapping."

In an open box by my foot were 60 fish sausages. Or in other words, I bought the entire box. On seeing that, Haimaki let out a howl, thrust his head into the box and began devouring. His white tail was waving like a propeller. He really loves fish sausages.

"...."

At Haimaki's side, Reki knelt down and gently stroked his back, as always; expressionless to a stranger's eyes...however, I had the impression that I could read Reki's expression to some small degree. This was a gentle expression of gratitude to Haimaki. I turned towards the golden sea, illuminated by the sunset and took a deep breath of the sea breeze. At this time, the wind was refreshingly cool.

Summer....was nearing its end.

"Speaking of which, did you know that even the battle positions were submitted by Aria on her own volition?"

Hearing my words, Reki raised her pretty face from her kneeling position and shook her head.

"The front is formed by Aria and me. Aria is the PM (point man), I'm the UL (Unit Leader).[4] Support will be you and Shirayuki. Riko will make up the tail. When storming a target, Aria and I will suppress with handgun bullets while you two will provide medium and long ranged attacks. Riko will be on alert for any attacks from the back and in retreat; she'll act as the rearguard, hampering any pursuers."

Reki's face was like that of a small animal as she gazed intently at me while I fired Assault terms non-stop. Seeing as she didn't say anything, it appeared that she had no objections. Well, at any rate, after being forced to become leader, I knew how to improve the team's formation. I had to combine everyone's talents and personalities.

Aria and I were experts at fighting alongside each other. Shirayuki was an almighty unit in both offense and defense. She could charge forwards with both spell and sword or stay at the rear tending to the wounded and act as a spotter for sniping. And at the rear was the genius sniper Reki, protecting Riko who would quickly spot dangers. In the event of withdrawal, although Riko could defend against the enemy's assault, however, her true skill lay in escaping; the fighting retreat being her expertise. Aria....in this accidental team of 5, was a balance. She may have no reasoning ability but she was a genius in combat matters.

(And furthermore, military formations aren't all there is to this team.)

In this team, everyone's abilities are singularly high. Including Reki, this team had two S-rank Butei which was something that was rare even amongst 3rd years. In the 2nd year, only we alone had this. Shirayuki and Riko are both A-rank so it's really a big drop in ability when my E-rank is considered. I'm truly sorry. Well, with the run-up to registration being so chaotic, the cohesiveness of the team in doubt and according to Ranbyou-sensei, "If the team is unwilling at the start, you'll have a hell of a time in the end."

I certainly pray we don't run into any cases big enough to have a hell of a time.

"How should I say this....Is this really alright? Forming a team with Aria."

Although the matter might have passed, but I'd still better be sure.

"....Yes."

Reki quietly stood up and faced me.

"Until now, I've never felt 'human emotions.' But after this experience, I've started to think. I've started to think about....Aria-san's feelings."

"Aria's feelings....?"

"When I was wounded on the mountain during the sniper attack, I was bent on following the Wind's orders; to fight to the death. And so, I allowed you to leave me. That had to be putting on a brave front. At that time, I was wavering between you and the Wind."

Putting on a brave front....even at that time, that emotion had already taken root in Reki?

"Now, I can say, at that time what I was thinking in my heart was 'I don't want to die.'"

"...."

"And the one who allowed me to embrace that thought was Kinji-san. You."

"Me....?"

".......You are a very important person to me. I did not want to leave you."

Reki, who was new to emotions....

Said honestly into my eyes without hiding her feelings.

"......."

Suddenly having a pretty girl say all this to me....

I was unable to respond and turned to face the sea.

"It's you who allowed feelings to take root in my heart. If I died I would be separated from you....from the one important to me. I don't want that."

The one important to her....she said it twice. And furthermore, they were both direct to my face. Reki sure is straight. Exactly like a sniper who fires straight and true at her target.

"This time, I've thought about Aria-san's feelings. When I took Kinji-san away from Aria-san it was the same kind of act. To her, you are a very important person."

Perhaps mirroring my actions, Reki's eyes which were looking out to sea were.....at this moment filled with a hint of loneliness.

"That's why I'll join the team.....I'll watch over you all, never pulling you all apart again. No matter what happens in the end."

Hearing Reki who was normally caught up in her own world say all this.....I had some difficulty keeping up.

"That's why, you and Aria being together is a good thing."

Having said that, Reki closed her tiny lips. And after a rare moment of hesitation,

"But this too.....is putting on a brave front....."

She murmured.

"Putting on a brave front?"

"Yes. Once more there are conflicting emotions in my heart. I'm....facing not just the male who is simply the one Ulus need....but also the Kinji-san who allowed me to feel emotions."

Reki's red-brown eyes stared at me, as if she were gracefully expressing her own feelings and slowly said,

"I don't want to see you stolen away by Aria-san"

....That's virtually the statement of another confrontation once more and yet....

Reki's demeanor did not have the same one-sided feel as when she last fought Aria at Butei High.

"....."

"....."

For a while, the two of us were silent. The sound of crashing waves resonated in the distance.

"And conversely, I now ask if Kinji-san is fine with it; having me on the team. The Wind doesn't speak anymore. I myself don't know what to do either. My own heart follows some uncertain guidepost as it walks on, wrapped in contradiction. Without any direction from the Wind I don't even know who I am anymore...."

Perhaps it was due to the silence raising my sense of unease but Reki's behavior....resembled in some respects an attempt to cling onto something. Thinking this a little cute, my cheeks loosened imperceptibly.

"....Reki. No one ever knows who they are."

"....."

"Reki is Reki. That is enough. I'm fine with the current Reki, don't worry."

Hearing this, Reki's cheeks....slightly turned scarlet. Well, this must have been due to the red light from the setting sun.

"But....I don't know what to do from here on."

"If that's so, then just start looking from now on and it'll be fine. Just set yourself a target. And the school and team are there for that purpose."

The S-ranked honors student, Reki hearing me, the E-ranked problem child with a reputation for being utterly useless say such vague things, looked as if she was.....slightly taken aback. She resembled someone listening to the warnings of elders.

....The sound of waves reverberated in the distance....

Reki....

"You.....are just like the Wind."

She murmured to herself. And gently caressed by the wind,

"Kinji-san is a great person. Even knowing about my emptiness....he didn't change."

"No, I'm quite narrow minded. You however..."

Being able to suppress Hysteria Mode demonstrates that I'm quite a virtuous person at heart. I felt like saying so but to do that in front of Reki would be embarrassing.

Swallowing my words, I tried to cover it up.

"Ah....emptiness, emptiness has its own benefits. You just need to fill it up with many various things."

"Kinji-san..."

"That's why I'll teach you some general knowledge."

"Yes. Please teach me."

So saying, Reki's attitude gives the impression of having pure respect for me....Even if it's appropriate that I remain silent, I still felt somewhat embarrassed. In terms of Riko's games, it would be like entering "Reki's route." Although it wasn't my intention, did I just pick all the words that would win her over? This...although the character is different, it was just like my junior in Lezzad, Fuuma Hina. Mistakenly respecting the useless me, Reki sure is pitiful, I thought.

"After all, you are devoid of common knowledge. Probably the most out of all 5 Baskerville members."

For the sake of balance, I said something that would reduce her goodwill towards me. And with that...Reki's mouth seemed to twitch by millimeters. It seemed like she was pressing her lips together in an endless line but she was actually curling them.

"....."

And with a sound, she drifted over to my side and....

*Pa*

Lightly struck my upper arm.

This might well be an expression of anger. Communicating with Reki definitely requires observational skills. Because she hit me, I too retaliated. Lightly, gently, striking Reki on the upper arm.

And so, *pa* *pa*.

Reki hit me twice. I don't understand it but there was somehow an air of joy to the whole thing.

Which is to say that Reki also doesn't know how to express emotions.

Aa....this was bad. Even this had to be taught to her. Looking down, I saw that Haimaki had finished eating his fish sausages.....Beneath the brightening moon and the sun that had almost sunk below the sea, I turned around and prepared to return to my dorm. Like I'd just abandoned her, Reki....

"Kinji-san."

Lightly tugging my jacket from behind;

"The loyalty of the Ulus is eternal. Even if the wind no longer speaks to me, I will protect you....forever."

The happiness within her words took me aback. Seeing that kind of expression on Reki's face again, it made me feel good.

Those who do not know Reki well may not understand but I could understand that expression well enough.

It was a really thin smile. But it was cute enough to capture my heart.

There was nothing that could rival it in that....a smile, without a doubt.

That night, just after 11pm....having revised modern Japanese until pretty late.....Shirayuki got the remaining crab out of the freezer and prepared a late night tenshindon.

Perhaps it was because the food was too delicious but Riko who for some reason, had recently settled at my home took her ladle and clashed with my own for the tenshindon. Riko you little bitch...scraping even the tenshindon in my mouth out is far too much. My teeth are going to break like this. Just when I was protecting my own bowl by using Edge Catching Double Finger to stop Riko's ladle....my cell rang. It was Aria's lawyer. How many times has it been during this vacation that she had taken our testimonies over the phone? Thinking it was another one of those times; I resigned myself to leaving the remaining tenshindon and quietly walked into the living room. However, that was not the case. She was informing us that the preparations for the retrial of Aria's mother, Kanzaki Kanae-san, had been complete. Generally speaking, from now until the start of the hearing, no more new pieces of evidence could be submitted. Which in other words, means that for the time being, Aria had some time for herself. On hearing this news, I checked my watch....and took something from the wall cabinet and put it in my pocket. That was...how shall I say this....something I bought out of care for Aria. After saying "I'll be back soon" to Shirayuki who was in the bathroom, and ignoring the giggling Riko who was giggling and gulping down her tenshindon like a hyena while saying cryptically, "hu hu hu....well, well, well....? Going-some-where-hmmm? Excellent, excellent. Looks like my love-making counseling on the Shinkansen did not go to waste, hu..hu..hu," I left the house.


Recently, Aria did not rest at all due to the preparations for the trial. Add to that the conflict with Reki and she must be very stressed. And all past experiences until now demonstrate that when stressed, Aria would get into angry outbursts and things would become "Kinji's fault." In reality, Aria had recently on many occasions became nervous and would eye me in a strange manner before disappearing. That is probably a sign of danger. Thus why I needed to pacify her before the dual Governments simultaneously open fire. Nevertheless, my opponent is a girl. All along, calming the tempers of girls has never been my strong suit.

However, this time was different. I had methods taught to me by Jeanne-sensei at my disposal.

"Girls will be calmed down when they receive from men clothes, accessories or things they can wear."

And this really does work as demonstrated by Reki calming down when I bought her clothes in Osaka; this theory can be said to have withstood practical on scene scrutiny. It can thus be also applied to Aria. Even so, suddenly giving her a present would be weird. "What double meaning is there to this? Tell me! Quick, tell me now!" she would say while pointing a handgun at me. Nonetheless, today was also an occasion.

Today, September 23rd......

Despite there being only around 30 minutes left, today was Aria's birthday. Probably.

Probably, since I never heard it clearly from Aria's own lips.

However, a few months before, I heard Aria tell Shirayuki that "I'm a Virgo." This met a reply of " Eh..? That really doesn't seem so." And thus this dangerous conversation played itself out.

A few days ago while under the influence of Hysteria mode, I recalled (apparently, when in Hysteria mode, I could recall every word I heard about something) this. To avoid the problem of being peppered full of holes in the event that I forgot Aria's birthday, I noted down in my Butei notebook that "Aria is a Virgo." And from some searching on the net, I found that Virgo ended on the 23rd of September. In other words, today. If Aria's birthday was before this date, I should be blown full of holes by now. As such, I can guess that today is her birthday.

Of course, this alone would still be insufficient basis for such a claim so I found additional backing in the unidentified 4 digits in Aria's e-mail address—0923 since it was common for users to place their birth dates at the end of their mail addresses.

Leaving the male dormitory, I leaned against the guardrail of the road and gave Aria a call. A single ring and Aria immediately answered.

".....Wh... what? Kinji."

What's with this suspicious tone.

Why? Well whatever.

"Where are you now?"

"Ah, eh? H-Here? This is the girls dorm. My room. I just returned from the lawyer's office. But...wha, what is it Kinji? Don't tell me you want to come to my room?"

Who the heck would go to Aria's room?[5]

"Then come to the conservatory below the girls' dorm."

"Eh..."

"I will....yeah, be there in around 10 minutes."

"Ha, ha, eh?"

Ha, eh? What is this?

I said warningly to Aria who spoke in that idiotic voice as if air was leaking from her throat,

"Understand?"

"Yes."

Yes?

That was the first time I heard anything akin to polite language towards me from Aria's lips.

Is Aria alright? She's being a little strange. Maybe she was simply tired. Even so however, I still must proceed. There was nothing more important after all, than preserving my own safety.


Walking through the academy island in the late night, I reached the foot of the girls' dorm....

One would know just by looking from the outside, that the interior of the conservatory was utterly dark.

Aria still hadn't arrived? I turned on the electrical switch at the side of the glass window when—

*Pa* *pa* *pa*... the light of fluorescent lamps bathed the interior starting from the front of the conservatory. Vegetable gardens, lily and nadeshiko zones, water lily and hibiscus zones; flowers and greenery glistened individually beneath the light. The last zone to be illuminated was the most sprawling of all; the rose zone.

There, garbed in her uniform, Aria stood idly.

She grasped at her twin tails as if rubbing them. This was a habit of hers whenever she was nervous.

Suddenly, she let out a "Ha, Waah?!" and looked around her surroundings. As if some event had not been able to be cleared up in time, numerous light bulbs lit up the decorative plants. It seemed as if the power source and ceiling lights were linked. It was just like a Christmas tree. Incidentally, the small fountain in the middle of the conservatory was linked to the power source as well. It began to spray sparkling drops of water. To top it off, the night scene of Tokyo, together with the Tokyo tower, under the harvest moon of mid-autumn could be seen through the glass walls. Somehow this over-illumination turned the place into one of much splendor.

Well, time to put Jeanne's battle plan into action for the sake of saving my life. I raised my hand in Aria's direction and walked towards her—

Aria tightly held her hands before her front, her expression one of extreme impatience.

"Why...why did you call me here?"

When I stepped forward, she took a step back.

This isn't like the Demon Butei Quadra Aria at all. She looked apprehensive.

"Aria....are you.....alright? You could still speak fine up to 'here'."

While speaking, I walked up to the front of Aria who was covered in the blooming roses....and on noticing the scar on the ground left by repair work, let out a small whistle.

"Haha....oi, this is where we fell from above back then."

Back then, I—

Had leapt from the top of the girls' dormitory together with Aria who was about to be taken back to London in a helicopter.

At that time, I had misjudged the strength of the vinyl greenhouse's roof and had fallen rather vigorously to the ground. In the process, I had battered aside several of the metal piping, wounding myself as a result.

"....Seriously...."

Aria who was looking at that spot, remembered that incident and, hit by nostalgia, her angry, upturned eyes softened. Normally angry, Aria now—

Was actually rather....cute. From the first time I met her, I had always thought so.

As if she could hear my thoughts, Aria looked up and covered her grinning mouth with her hand like she was somehow trying to hide her double canines. It appears she has a sensitivity complex regarding her own cat-like canines. That being the way it is, there's no need to hide them now. Besides, I don't dislike them. Setting her unseemly mouth in order, Aria cleared her throat—

"Eh....what do you want with me? There must be a fair reason for calling a lady out at such a late hour, yes?"

She said with the oppressive feeling that I would be blown full of holes if that wasn't the case.

I pointed at the clock hung on the trees in the center of the conservatory.

"11:45. That's quite safe."

"So; what. Is. The. Matter."

Aria. Right now, your expression is extremely weird. It is the utterly strange expression of one who is excited but is desperately trying not to let it show on her face. I should take this with my phone camera.

"Today is your birthday."

Putting on airs, I had barely said this when—

Aria, nodded frantically with her eyes wide open.

"You, yourself forgot didn't you?"

*shake, shake, shake*

Presently, her twin tails were violently swinging from side to side and her eyes tightly shut as she shook her head.

"You'd thought I'd ignored it then?"

*Nod...shake, shake*

One moment nodding then the next shaking her head, she really did believe that I had ignored her birthday totally. Such lack of faith in me.

By the way, why are you suddenly not saying anything? Just some time ago, Reki had become so talkative and now Aria had fallen silent; are you switching places or something? I really can't understand girls at all, seriously. Each and every last one of them.

"Your hand. I have a present for you."

At this, Aria raised her trembling hands together before her chest like she was collecting water.

"Err...just one hand will do."

With that, I half-heartedly grasped Aria's left hand with my right.

Waa...Aria having lost her voice and thus not making a single sound...was strange like that. How should I put it....it's as if someone had informed her beforehand of this and she had been waiting all this while....? Well even if that were the case it would still be alright. It doesn't look like she's going to reject it. I reached into the depths of my pocket—

And fished out a ring of pure silver. To prevent it from hindering Aria when she was wielding her gun, it had no gemstone. Only a plain band. This was bought from that curious, cat filled clothes shop in Osaka, Chaton b during my spare time when Reki was in the dressing room.

However....

While pulling Aria's left hand before the front of my chest, I suddenly noticed it. I noticed right now, this ring. Bought in a smaller size for the purpose of fitting Aria's hand....Yet I had not considered far enough which finger it should fit. How thoughtless of me.

"Uu....uu...mou, if you want me to accept it then hurry up and give it to me.....!"

Just like a child about to get a shot, Aria's left arm was trembling.

"Why are you so tense? It isn't as if I'm handing you a bomb. Let me see your fingers."

"F...fingers? Fingers?! W...w...w...Why!"

Her eyes having opened to the point that they were about to fly out of their sockets, I examined five of Aria's fearfully trembling fingers....

Thumb, index finger, middle finger, all.....no good. It can't fit. It would fall off the little finger. Well, ring finger then.

"Aha"

I pulled the ring from my pocket,

"Wa, wa, waaa!"

Aria cried in a fit of abnormally wild temper.

"Wa! Waaa!"

That is a ring. It is just a ring.

Why are you getting so worked up? It's not a big deal.

I say, don't make so much noise in the middle of the night. You are being a public nuisance.

"Here. Happy birthday."


Aria07 243.jpg

And with that, I handed the ring over—

However, "! ! !," Aria was shaking so badly with fear that it was unlikely she could put it on herself. With no choice left, I took the ring finger of Aria's left hand and smoothly slid the ring into place—

Oh...it fits just nice. How fortunate.

*Gyui.....*

*Gyuiiiiin—*

At this moment, Aria's pale face was shifting through the spectrum of colours, changing from white to red. No matter how many times I see it, it never fails to amaze me; this physiology that can turn someone's face scarlet in a second. Even a chameleon would be impressed.

"I'll tell you this first, that isn't some expensive trinket."

"It's, it's al-al-alright. B-But can I accept this? Can I really accept this?"

"Just take it. And don't open fire on me so easily in future."

"—Y-Yes."

There it was once more. Aria's "yes." On the contrary, it felt weird. Up to this point, she had been responding in an over the top manner. I really don't understand her at all....

This is a lesson that a ring is an item which resounds with extreme intensity in the hearts of girls. The Aria, who can boast of a level of fieriness worthy of the Guinness Records, has been reduced to this state.

(.....Errm.......it's kind of like .....)

Aria's tantrum isn't a reaction one would have on receiving any simple accessory. Perhaps there is a further meaning to this current chain of behavior than I know?

On the night of her birthday, she got a phone call calling her to go to the conservatory. She had received a ring as a present which was put on her left ring finger. Right after, she had freely attacked me for some time.

While it was possible that the above behavior had some meaning behind it, I entirely could not see it at all. I don't want to boast but regarding basic knowledge on this sort of argument between man and woman, I know little like a child.

Due to my fear of entering Hysteria Mode, I had avoided that kind of information all my life.

Speaking of which, Kana had already warned me in the past....a lack of knowledge on such matters poses the danger that someday, actions leading to a disastrous misunderstanding when dealing with girls would result....among other things.

And so, the one facing me was the person eternally infamous for misunderstandings, Aria-san.

Any one of my previous three behaviors could have been [misunderstanding causing behavior].

However, my initial aim of ensuring my own safety has been achieved.

So it’s good, un, un.

Aria, who was nodding alone at me stammered

“Kinji….I’m….I’m very happy with th…this. But still….th..this..is too soon…wh..what does this…..mean…for us?”

Hmph…is that what she's asking.

Well, if right now, I say something like: "This is for the sake of preventing myself from being raged and shot at," I'll be made into live food for several .45 ACP bullets. As such, I--

"Butei Charter article 6: "Reflect by yourself, act by yourself". If you're a Butei, then you'll think of it yourself, right?"

Confused her.

After shaking her head up and down in one big nod, Aria looked at her open left hand, right in front of her own face--

With a feeling as if she couldn't tear her eyes away from the ring, shining on her ring finger--

Tch, tch, tch...

As if backing away from the pure, silver light, she started to shuffle back.

However, her hand was her own, so of course it followed her.

Aria, her lips shaking, walked further backwards with her shaking knees...

"Mikyaaa!"

--Thud! Splash!

She caught her foot on the edge of the mini fountain, and tipped over backwards.

She really fits perfectly inside the pool of that fountain, which couldn't be anything but around the size of a bathtub.

"He-hey..."

"M-Mikyaa! Kyaapu! Kyaaapu!"

Splash! SplashSplash!

Even though the water probably couldn't be anything more than 30 centimeters deep, Aria, who could not swim, started panicking in an instant--like she was drowning.

At what kind of level is your inability to swim?

No, that isn't a level at which one is able to say a simple inability to swim.

"Are you alright, Aria...?"

Aria, who was struggling, only the lower half of her fallen body sticking out, Yank!

I pulled her out from the fountain's pool, and...her eyes were spinning.

It didn't seem as if she had drunk any water, but her appearance was such that it appeared as if she had entered a vegetative state from the shock.

(Aahh...I can't leave her alone like this...)

I squeezed her soaked twin-tails like a wet towel, getting out the water, and then decided to carry her on my back, returning home. There's no choice. I guess I'll even let Shirayuki take care of her at our place.

Uwaah. As light as ever. Aria, that is. Isn't her body weight around 30 kilos?

"...Ex-exactly like Riko said on the Shinkansen...It's become that...Mo-more than that...!"

Aria being carried on my back, I didn't understand her words, which were like the words of someone delirious, but--

(Doing this, this time I can spend with Aria, too is...coming to an end, isn't it.)

So I thought, and I felt a loneliness that I could not begin to describe creep into my chest.

Aria...is selfish, self-centered, presumptuous- an intensely troubling girl.

But only because of that, being together with her isn't boring. Whether it was good or bad, it was always exciting.

It felt as if, to me, who had been labeled with the nickname, "Introvert," that my relationship with her had led to a balanced life. It's a different meaning from what Aria had said, but--she probably was a good partner.

Aria.

I have never said it clearly to you--

From now on, I don't think I'll say it either though. For the sake of both of us.

--I don't want you to go back. To someplace like London. Really.

But, that is my selfishness. So, I will leave it in the midst of my chest. For eternity.

Also, when next year comes, I too will transfer from this Butei High to a normal school.

April...The transfer application that I had torn up before I had chased Aria to this girls' dormitory, it's probably time to make it again. Just about time.

Continuing straight forward, Academy Island--

Carrying Aria, walking down the footpath, I thought.

Right now, I even felt that it would have been nice had Academy Island been longer.

That this night would continue forever, that it would have been alright just to walk like this, anywhere.

However, there is no night that does not dawn. There is an end to each road.

I felt as if that was something intolerable, and I tried not to think about it, but...Aria's mother's retrial is next month. I-U has been defeated, a judgement of innocence is no longer in doubt.

So, after one month--my parting with Aria. Just once.


Like that, this time was a time to steel myself, but...

Our fate, it isn't sold by a wholesaler.[6] In this, and that.

--Right, 'Hidan no Aria'-san?


Translator's Notes and References[edit]

  1. The words Koko here are written in kanji as 猛妹、炮娘、狙姐 respectively. They mean fierce younger sister, cannon girl and hunting elder sister.
  2. Adulterer here is written as 泥棒ネコ. Since neko means cat, it is a nice figurative imagery when coupled with Riko's cat like actions.
  3. Kanji given for Bandire is 宣戦会議 Lit. Conference for the Declaration of War.
  4. Point man and unit leader are based on the abbreviations PM and UL in the novel as well as the kanji.
  5. Aria's room is given the kanji 危険地帯 meaning danger zone.
  6. An expression meaning cheap.