Hidan no Aria:Volume8 Chapter1

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1st Ammo: Night of Chaos -Turbulent-[edit]

"—The ambassadors of the organizations, agencies, and associations who have gathered at 'Bandire'."

On the nighttime artificial island, Empty Island—

To the abnormal group, illuminated in the midst of the mist, the armored Jeanne spoke.

"First of all, Jeanne d'Arc of IU's Daio Nomad welcomes you with respect."

That voice felt as if an edge was concealed behind her words.

Even though she said something which was meant to welcome.

Ahh...Fuck.

Even the me that is not in Hysteria Mode understands.

The group that is gathered here is laced with hostility.

—The mood of all gathered was that of a critical situation.

(What the hell is...going on!)

When one meets an unidentified armed group, it is theorized that they should first get a grasp of the enemies' battle power.

However, the me as of now cannot do that.

First, who is my enemy and who is my ally? Starting from that, I did not know.

Jeanne, Reki and the person who had talked to me earlier...Fox-human?...She didn't seem to be an enemy, but...as for the others, I had no idea.

—I want Kana to be my ally. However, seeing that she appeared together with that "Witch of Sand" Patra, I have to stay alert.

After that, I did not know about any of the others.

If I act like this, my life will be in danger. If I stay in this place any longer.

However, running is also—

—probably an action which will put myself in danger.

Because, the instant I turn my back on this place, I will probably be shot by all those assembled here.

So, I—

(Fuck...!)

—just did nothing but stand. Right here.

Shit.

Why?

Even though I just want to be able to be a boring male high school student with an ordinary life...

Which piece of causality caused me to be dragged into this meeting filled with abnormal people!?

As if giving me a hint to that question—once again, Jeanne's rose-colored lips opened.

"As there are first-time comers here, I shall make a statement of introduction. Once, we kept ourselves hidden in the darkness of our countries, passing down our respective battle techniques and knowledge—chasing that which we sought, scrambling over that which we sought. Along with the power-gain of IU, that conflict was arrested, but...along with the destruction of IU, once again, the start of the gunfire will be attempted."

—IU—

That name which I did not wish to remember echoed in the depths of my chest.

With a nuclear submarine as its headquarters, it was the name of that organization, the place where the Jeanne that was standing here and other outlaw superhumans were trained.

Two months ago, I fought with their leader—Aria's great-grandfather, Sherlock Holmes...the result of that was, that organization was destroyed. It should have been.

That had been, for some reason, spoken of again.

As I gulped down my saliva, at the edge of my vision—

One of them had stepped out as if to address the entire group.

"—Everybody. Is there no path which does not return to that age of battle?"

Seemingly gentle, a somewhat glazed, sweet voice.

The most calm of everyone gathered, blue, cloudy eyes.

Eyelashes long enough to not need mascara, an impressive mole under her eye, she—outside of her beautiful face and neck, none of her white skin was exposed.

Her developed body wrapped in a pure white robe with golden embroidery, the hand which was holding a small rosarius also clothed in a long, white glove, she was wearing clothing which completely covered her skin.

A veil hiding soft, long blonde hair was not there, but...

This girl is probably a nun, right?

Probably, which is to say—she was properly wearing light makeup, and because, added to the fact that she was a sexy, beautiful woman...she was carrying something that a normal nun would definitely not carry.

Trimmed with gold decoration, a sword that was so large it was like a joke.

"The Vatican had decided that IU was a necessary evil. Which organization IU, holding exceptional battle strength, was going to ally with was kept silent until the last, and as such, for fear of an "enemy who would receive IU's aid", none could take action against one another...the result being, for a long while, an armistice was realized. Do you not wish to protect such a precious peace?"

The nun brought her hands together, clutching the rosary.

I don't know who you are, but you're good. You said something really good. You seem like a good person.

No matter what, keep the peace. Also for the sake of me finishing this night without dying here.

"To tell you that the Vatican does not wish for war, tonight, I have come here. Learning from the experience of peace, let us combine our knowledge and achieve peace, and as for avoiding this useless fighting—"

"—It can't be done, Meiya. Hypocrite."

Diagonally behind her, interrupting was the witch in a black robe who had been staring at the nun, (it seemed her name was Meiya,) from the beginning.

The witch, the reason I could not help but decide she was one was...

Because, her figure, from head to toe, looked like a stereotypical witch.

Her short body wrapped in pitch black velvet, she was wearing a black peaked hat, and even a large raven was politely perching on her shoulder.

Even I, who was completely alien to SSR matters, understood with just one look. If she wasn't a witch, she was a fake.

Looking around 14 years old, her black hair tied up into a bob, on one eye she was wearing a burgundy eyepatch.

On the eyepatch...what is that black mark?

卍? No, like a slanted inverted-卍—aah, that is...!

In European history, the most abominable mark.

Former Nazi Germany's Hakenkreuz.

With just her crimson left eye, that eye-patch witch glared up at the nun, Meiya.

"You didn't have an armistice at all. You attacked my familiar in Dusseldorf. Peace? The hell are you saying."

At the witch had spat out her words with a tone filled with hate—

"Stay silent, Katze Grasse. You filthy, unpleasant insect."

...Eh?

I thought that as the nun, Meiya, suddenly changed her tone, raising her eyebrows.

"You demonic filth are different. Your very existence is a stain on the Earth. I feel no hesitation against exterminating and annihilating your ilk. I do not see any reason for your existence anywhere in the Old Testament, the New Testament, or the Apocrypha contained in the Bible. On an appropriate Holy Date, I have already planned to burn you with Holy Fire, rip your corpses into 8 pieces, and let them flow into several different rivers, so—say thank you. SAY IT! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!"

Completely changed from her calm demeanor of earlier, constricting the witch's neck and shouting, Meiya...

I take back my previous statement. She doesn't seem to be a good person at all.

Rather, it seems like she has a split personality. And, a rather horrible type.

"Gyahahaha! Yes, this is war! The war with the Vatican I've been waiting for! This amazing chance, I won't let it go! Right, Hilda!'

Even though the tiny witch was being held up by the neck, she spoke to another girl while cackling.

The person who was spoken to was—

A girl who looked the farthest away from a human here.

On that back, bat-like wings grew, a girl with golden twin-tails.

"That's right. I too love battles. I can drink as much lovely blood as I want."

My eyes were once against drawn towards the space between the lips which had just released such a dangerous line.

Visible because the tip was coated with some sort of scarlet coating...those were fangs.

A girl whose canines stood out like Aria...it was not that feeling.

Sharper and longer, bat-like fangs were there.

"Hilda...I already cut your head off once, you're a rather stubborn girl, aren't you?"

Throwing the tiny witch away from her, this time, Meiya glared at the bat-girl.

Could it be...this nun is the one who has the most enemies around her? On the contrary to her peaceful words at the beginning.

"—will Dracula die to something like getting his head cut off? As always, the Vatican is so blissfully ignorant. Like I asked my father to tell me, for centuries, they haven't changed at all from the way they were in the past."

Hohoho, placing her crimson-manicured fingers in her mouth, the bat-girl laughed, her rolled up golden twin-tails shaking—her name is Hilda, huh?—like an 18th century European dress arranged in a modern manner, she was wearing a Gothic Lolita outfit.

The frilly and sparkly part was the same as Riko's Sweet Lolita, but the color was based upon pitch black, radiating an ominous, decadent, demonic feeling.

And...between the panier under her miniskirt and her spiderweb knee-socks—the area that Muto had called "Absolute Territory", the area of the thighs...there, looking like a white tattoo was—I recalled seeing it.

In June, when we had fought in Yokohama, it was the same as what was on Dracula Vlad's body an eyeball design.

She was fair complexioned, so, in a location where it was very similar to the garter belt's string, it was very difficult to notice.

(Vampire, huh...!)

Other than Vlad, they exist?

This was the second time I had seen one, so my surprise was little, but, even so...she's someone I do not want to fight.

"Peace, is what was said—Meiya-san?"

Interrupting with a carefree voice was, a smart man who was dressed in colorful Chinese cultural clothing.

Under his round glasses, his eyes that were so thin they were almost like slits were smiling.

Despite being in the middle of such a dangerous group, he's so composed.

"That is something which is unrealistic, right? Because, from the beginning, for as long as the Yangtze River, tangled relationships and alliances have existed like in the Yellow River. Right?" [1]

Saying that, he looked up at Reki, who was sitting on the wings of the wind generator.

Reki....just silent, cradled the Dragunov sniper rifle.

"—I too, if it were possible, would not wish to fight."

While using her ice-blue to eyes too look around at all assembled, Jeanne spoke.

"However, I knew that this time would come long before. The fact that, along with Sherlock's demise, IU collapsed, and we would once again be thrown into war. So, the meeting of this "Bandire" too was decided during his lifetime. Ambassadors. We cannot avoid battle. Because, in that manner, we sustain ourselves."

It had taken some time, but finally...

I too, began to see it. The true identity of this meeting.

Deducing from Jeanne's words, in this world, there are several underground groups like this which these people belong to.

IU was one of them. Vlad's race of vampires too, the organization Ranban which the Kokos had talked about too, Reki's Ulus too, they were probably those.

And, they stand against one another, form alliances with one another, fiercely competing with each other.

Thinking about what each was saying, this had been going on for a long, long time.

Not having been destroyed during that time—sending messengers here—as for those things, their relationship was one of close competition.

However, with the appearance of IU, a change was created in that relationship.

With a nuclear submarine armed with tactical missiles , they had a high battle ability and stealth, also, apparently staying neutral in the Other world, no matter whose eyes you looked from, they were a dangerous existence.

If your own enemy becomes allies with IU, in the end, the power balance will be broken...in an instant, you might be brought down.

So, for a while, they had an "armistice".

Because, who would suddenly take that which was stuck in the table, the knife that was IU, they did not know.

However, now, that knife had disintegrated. It was mainly the fault of Aria and I.

"Then, in accordance to our ancient method, first, let us recite three pacts. It seems that, in the Bandire 86 years ago, it was in French, but I pray you forgive me for translating it into Japanese.

Clause one. No matter the time, anyone can declare war upon anyone. The battle is something that will conform to the rules of a confrontation, but surprise attacks, sneak attacks, spying, use of magic, and insults are allowed.

Clause two. For the sake of avoiding boundless slaughter, the use of ordinary soldiers who are unworthy of the confrontation is forbidden. This takes priority over clause one."

They were anachronistic lines, but the meaning...did not pass without being understood.

These two are rules that should be thought of as a set, right?

They fight as organizations, but they do not fight a total war.

Each organization sent out representatives of battle, just like in a card game, and based upon the confrontations of those representatives, victory and defeat was decided.

There did not appear to be any specific rules pertaining to the number of confrontations as well as the headcount of the representatives, but in short, large amounts of soldiers being sent out like in modern warfare and turning either side into a bloodbath was forbidden.

At the point in time where one's own organization no longer had any powerful warriors, one had to raise a white flag—was how it was, right?

The style of battle was rather ancient, but it wasn't nonexistent. It was like in Japan, where such a thing occurred during the Heian period. Warriors carrying the names of their respective areas would duel in order.

It would truly be fitting if one said that such a method was fitting.

"Clause three. The battle will primarily be split into two alliances, 'Deen' [2] and 'Grenada' [3]. These ancient names are maintained as a sign of respect for the previous generations of fighters who had come before us, it is something that is not to be changed for all eternity.

Which alliance each organization belongs to will be decided based upon the declarations here, but silence/unaffiliation is also allowed. Changing affiliations after the declaration is not forbidden, but based upon the prideful ones assembled here I believe that the matter will be resolved appropriately.

Next, we will begin the declaration of alliances...first, we, IU's Daio Nomad, wish to declare that we are to be part of 'Deen'. The nun of the Vatican, Meiya is in 'Deen'. Katze Grasse of the witches division as well as Dracula Hilda is in 'Grenada'. There should be no changes of affiliation, correct?"

Apparently finished with stating the rules, Jeanne called out the names of the three women who were talking earlier.

"Ahh...My Father. Please forgive me, who will once again grasp my sword—"

Gripping her rosarius in front of her huge, melon-like breasts, the nun, Meiya—

"Yes. The Vatican was originally 'Deen', exterminating the tainted of 'Grenada'. The founders of Legio Deen."

With her hand, clothed with gloves of white lace, she gestured at the witch and the vampires.

"Ah. Of course, I too am part of 'Grenada'. Something like being Meiya's ally is unimaginable."

From the direction of the witch, Katze Grasse, who had answered with that,

"There's no need to even go so far as ask, right, Jeanne? As I was born, it was already decided that I was to be part of the kin of darkness—'Grenada'. Tamamo, is it not the same for you as well?"

This time, the bat-girl Hilda, her high-heels clicking, towards this direction...

No, towards the fox-girl who was by my side, she turned.

The fox-girl, having been called Tamamo, stepped out, the sound of clogs clacking on the floor ringing out—

Her ears, having been turned towards Jeanne up until just now—those pointed ears, sticking out of the top of her head, swiveled towards Hilda.

This girl...below a wooden box that she was carrying like a schoolbag, from below the hem of the Japanese clothing akin to a mini-skirt...whether it was expected, or whether I felt something else, a bushy tail stuck out.

It was clearly, a fox's.

"I'm sorry, Hilda. This time, I'll be 'Deen'. This is only a rumour, but it's because the modern Hotogi have an alliance with the Christian church. Patra, come this way as well."

Wa-wait. Hey, fox.

Just now, didn't you say Hotogi? And added to that, you seem to be acquaintances with Patra and Hilda.

Who are you? This fox-girl who is called Tamamo.

Unexpectedly, it seemed that there was a key person. Right by my feet.

Apparently, with ability users and monsters, relationships that I did not know about existed, and by that, she too seemed to be my ally. It was rather piecemeal, but I could read that from the atmosphere.

Before the mist, having been called out to by Tamamo, Patra, twirling a gigantic crystal ball atop her finger—

"Tamamo. For the things that your ancestors had once taught me, I give my thanks, however...towards the honor students of IU's Daio, I bear a personal hatred. This time, IU's Ignatius will be 'Grenada'."

With her upturned mouth, she answered.

"Ahh...What are you going to do? Kana?"

Patra, wearing clothing akin to a swimsuit, looked in Kana's direction from underneath the gold crown, which mimicked a cobra.

Kana, holding Scorpio, a scythe akin to that which a Reaper would carry,...my brother—

"Genesis 4:11—'Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream hid a meaning of its own'—I came here of my own free will, but that's how it is. "Unaffiliated" is what I wish to be."

Her gem-like eyes closed, she announced that.

"I see...well, that has reason..."

Patra, having heard that, slump...suddenly looked depressed.

Towards Nii-san, who had an expression which seemed to express, "There's no helping it..." while tapping Patra on the forehead, she blushed...

Nii-san.

Do you...plan to join this battle? What are you aiming for?

"Jeanne. Liberty Mason will also be 'Unaffiliated'. Let me observe the situation temporarily."

That deep, penetrating voice was that of the beautiful man in the trench-coat, deepest in the midst.

He was someone who gave off a dangerous impression which was so sharp as to give off the feeling that if one were to so much as touch him, he would be cut, but—

"—LOO—"

A more, no, the most mysterious person's voice...no, sound rang out.

If it were possible, I wanted to avert my eyes from it the whole time—there, below the rusted, slanted windmill, this existed, a silhouette which exceeded 3 meters.

More unlike humans than Tamamo and Hilda, a camouflage-painted metal man.

It, who had, from several places on its body, optical devices, antennae, grenades, smoke dischargers, etc...sticking out...at a glance, looked like a military vehicle, but that was incorrect.

First of all, it was not a vehicle.

In place of tires or caterpillar treads, it was standing on two feet with knee-joints directly inverse of that of a human body.

Also, on the left and right of its body, gigantic too, arm-like manipulators were there...rather, what the hell is that in its left hand, an M61 Gatling cannon—Vulcan...!

A Vulcan is—the name of a cannon that is normally attached to military vehicles, able to spray 120 bullets within a second, a demon-like weapon.

The ammunition used is a bullet that can weigh up to 100g, the M50. For something like a human, even being grazed will lead to a fatal injury.

It seemed that due to issues of cooling, it could not continue to fire for over three minutes, but even so, bringing this is cheating, right? That kind of monstrosity.

"LOO—LOO—...LOO—"

It, able to be called nothing but a bipedal tank...Loooo, Loooo...

It seemed to be speaking something, but...what? I don't understand.

"...LOO. I knew that you came from America, but I have no idea about you. If the fact that we cannot understand your method of communication continues, you will be seen as 'silent' when it comes to any alliance—is that fine?"

Having been told that by Jeanne, uncowed, it...

"...LOO..."

—changed its stance a little, like it was nodding.

With that, I understood a little, it was not an autonomous weapon. There was someone riding inside.

As it were, a humanoid close-combat battle machine.

I didn't really know its name, but—I chose to call it LOO. Jeanne too had called it that.

"—'Grenada'—!"

Suddenly, the person who raised that energetic voice with an Native American accent was—

Wearing a cat-patterned fur, a girl who looked around 10 years old.

Why is a child like this...?

—thought I, but immediately, I realized the reason. Along with a shocking scene.

After that girl had shouted, Scrape...Thump!, she held up a large axe that was by her feet, but...that axe was larger than its carrier's body.

Large, thick, rather than an axe, one should say that it is a large lump of iron.

Even the world record for women weightlifting in the clean & jerk isn't 200kg, but that was clearly a weight which exceeded that. I don't know accurately, but I expect that it isn't any lower than 300kg.

The small girl had lifted that. Furthermore, with one hand.

Thunk...!

The girl...pierced the floor with the axe's ferrule, an extravagant feather decoration attached to it, and a slight tremor shook the ground by her feet. What a feeling of weight. It even gave off the the illusory feeling that the entirety of Empty Island was shaking.

"—Havi—'Grenada'!"

That girl, facing directly upwards, repeated with that voice, habitually slightly nasal...

Flowers stuck into her hair, under that fringe, flipped up—mm?

Two horns were visible. At a glance.

—I see.

She too is one of them, huh?

Havi...seemed to be what she called herself, her horns were smaller than Aria's accessories.

On the left and right of her forehead, from the inside of her skin, they rose up in small, conical shapes. Rather than a horse's or deer's bony antlers, they looked more like the horns of a rhino or giraffe, horns that covered the skin.

—and as for that, that I have become able to calmly analyze monsters is making me feel rather pitiable.

"Tohyama. Which will "Baskerville" be?"

"...?"

Because Jeanne had suddenly faced this way—

My mind became a complete blank.

"Wh-what? Why are you turning to me Jeanne?"

"You are the person who defeated Sherlock, are you not?"

"N-no. If anything, I was caught up in the flow...when I went to help Aria, it just so happened that Sherlock was there, or rather..."

"You do not not know yet? For this Bandire, your faction—recently having the name of "Baskerville"—its leader's alliance declaration cannot be left unsaid. Because, you destroyed IU and are the spark that makes us fight once again."

"...Wa-wait. 'Baskerville'...that was just a student Butei team that was submitted to the school. It's different from people like you. Also, even if I'm the leader, I'm just one in name—"

"Tohyama. You did it. If you did it, take responsibility for it. Are you not a man?"

"Don't screw with me! The fact that I am here is only because I was suddenly called out here! What are you doing to me...!?"

"—'Deen' or 'Grenada'. Choose that which you think you will survive in."

"...Hey......"

To Jeanne, whose tone would not let me utter any excuses, I could not respond.

—I have nothing to do with this!

Even though I wanted to shout that and run...

Now, the sight of superhumans is gathered on me. With just that, I could not take control of my body's movements.

As if being stared at by a snake...no, like a frog that is encircled by a swarm of snakes.

Towards I, in that state, and Jeanne, the bat-girl, Hilda, raised her voice while spinning her parasol.

"All newcomers go into this unsightly panic, don't they? Jeanne, He's quite pitiful if you bully him like that. He didn't even hear, right? Tohyama Kinji. You are 'Deen'. Anything but that is impossible. Because, you are the enemy of the powerful veteran of 'Grenada', Vlad Dracula—my father."

As for Hilda, staring at me, Fuun, her nose making that sound—

I interrupted Jeanne's words, turning towards her.

I had thought that she was the same race as Vlad, but—his daughter, huh?

"—Then, I, as a representative, wish to declare that Ulus will be affiliated with 'Deen'."

Cutting through Hilda's words, the person who spoke out from above was—Reki.

"I, personally, am a member of "Baskerville", but because I am entering the same 'Deen', there should not be a problem, correct? As for my position as a representative ambassador, consent from Ulus has already been received."

Sitting on the propellers of the wind generator, not having moved an inch from when I had seen her earlier, Reki—

The man from earlier, the one in Chinese clothing with circular glasses, looked up at her, smiling.

"Ranban's ambassador, Zhuge JinghuanShokatsu Seigen will make his declaration. We will be 'Grenada'. Because, there is the debt to be repaid by Ulus' Reki for hindering our business a few days before. Then...you are the only one left?" [4]

So he said to another one standing in the midst of the mist.

Even though I didn't say whether I was going to participate in the battle or not, the flow suggested that my incident was already over.

(Give me a break...seriously...!)

Because of my own wariness, I could not interrupt the conversation, and so, I looked at the last person...

I did not know whether he had been listening from the beginning or whether she hadn't been, the man wearing a flashy pierro-like clothing—Thud!

He threw the cellphone music player that he had been listening to up till then and his white earphones to his feet.

"Tch. This isn't pretty."

He, raising the face which had just spit out those words...as expected...didn't seem to have been listening to the conversation.

With those eyes filled with irritation, he looked around at us and his face was colored with face paint akin to the war paint of the natives of someplace.

"Keh—this is laughable. I came here thinking that there'd be strong people, but, the hell is this? This is just a gathering of errand boys. All of you guys are pathetic. This was a waste of time."

Apparently, he too was the same as me, in the same "I-want-to-go-home team".

Wouldn't we get along?

But, it seems that the reason he did not want to be here is the exact opposite of mine.

"G-III—those that are gathered are certainly 'ambassadors'. Not military strength, but personal wishes and organizational recommendations as well as aptitude as an envoy, and the ability to understand Japanese etc. are used as a basis for those to be selected. Also, this is not an obligation, but—as long as they are not like you, for ambassadors, choosing men who are not eunuchs and are not battle-hungry, as well as young women has been customary since ancient times. I acknowledge that each of us is not like that which you seek. However, is that all right, G-III? If you return like this, you will be counted as 'unaffiliated'."

"—Nothing to do with me."

To Jeanne, who had warned him, the man answered without so much as turning his sight towards her.

"...As long as you seek the same thing as us, as long as we scramble, eventually, we will fight. At that time, if we join either 'Deen' or 'Grenada', the number of enemies will decrease. We are not clear as to the numbers of every organization, but at least, of the 10-plus people that are, this will end without half of those here becoming enemies."

"Enemies?"

Feh, G-III spat to his side...is that his name?

At his discourteous behavior, Jeanne frowned.

"—Don't make me laugh. Today, I only came because recently, it seemed that strong people were coming out all around you. That all right? Next time, bring those that are the most powerful. I will kill them all."

G-III spoke those words, and from his body—

Zz...Zzzzzzz...as I wondered about that noise, akin to that of a broken fluorescent light...

His appearance became indistinguishable.

Literally, he disappeared. Now, I could see the flow of the mist behind G-III through him.

"...!"

Like in a special effects movie—an invisible man.

As I watched, going from half-transparency to full-transparency, G-III, who had disappeared...

He...he seems like a dangerous person. His ability, and judging from his words, his personality.

"—Commoner. You are like a barking puppy. You have lost even your killing intent."

Although it was night, Hilda, continuing to hold her parasol, spoke, a sigh mixed in.

"However, with this, it seems that everybody is finished. That is correct, isn't it, Jeanne?"

"...It is as you say. Lastly, this battle will...according to the habit of naming the land upon which Bandire took place, "Far East Warfare"—FEW is what has been decided. I thank everyone for their participation, and I pray for your fortune in batt..."

"Then, it's fine, isn't it?"

"...?—Already?"

"It should be fine. It has already started."

"Wait. Tonight...did I not say you were not to fight here?"

"That's true. This is not a very good stage. The altitude is low, and the weather is lacking. However, I've changed my mind. I have waited for too long, so let's go play a little."

You...what?

What are you talking about?

Why...

Are you looking this way?

Two people.

"Something like a council of declaration of war that has not seen blood...In the past, such a thing has never occurred...right?"

Smiling and showing me her fangs, Hilda and—

Jeanne. With a panicked expression, the Short Winking that she sent me was—"Run."—and at that, I widened my eyes.

"...!"

This congregation of monsters which had dragged me into the midst of it ended—

From now on, anyone can fight with anyone, is how it is!?

However, a sudden challenge apparently being outside of her expectations, Jeanne hurriedly raised her sword. And while its blade was being sheathed in crystallized ice, crackling accompanying the process—

...Zzzzz...Zzz...

At the sight of Hilda melting into the midst of her own shadow, just by her feet, I could no longer move.

What an—unrealistic scene.

I drew my Beretta, but isn't the opponent to shoot no longer here?

Like a dragged carpet, the shadow faced me, standing completely straight, wriggling.

"Tohyama, run! For 30 seconds, I'll restrict her!"

Durandal, thrown by Jeanne like a javelin Zcch—!

In that instant, the movements of the shadow began to dull. It felt as if it was stitched to the ground by Jeanne's sword, pierced through it.

However...it felt as if that stitching was incomplete.

Even so, it faced this way...and it was still wriggling. The shadow.

(This kind of...this kind of person...!)

Not even in Hysteria Mode, not having anything, towards me, just a high school student...!

What do you want me to do!?

Firstly, where do I run? Here and there, at these places where people that I know nothing about are, because of these monsters...!

As if pleading for help, I turned towards the fox-girl, Tamamo, and—

Tamamo did not look this way.

Towards the south side of the artificial island—looking towards the sea.

No, not only Tamamo.

That horn-girl who was called Havi, axe in hand, she was looking in the same direction.

"...?"

Along with those two, the monsters started to turn towards the south, one by one.

—Towards Academy Island.

A few seconds afterward, finally...Drrrrrr...that engine sound became audible to my ears as well.

That was the sound of a mini-motorboat running.

Thunk! The boat reaching Empty Island, impacting into it—after a while—

Bsh! At the southern tip of Empty Island, at the very brink, I could saw a small hand grasp it.

Th-that is...!

"It was right of me make SSR extend their network! Because, you had come to a place where my eyes could reach you. Just that bravery, I will acknowledge! You're there, aren't you!? Patra! Hilda!"

A high-pitched anime voice.

Nsh!, clambering atop the edge of Empty Island, a twin-tail with a sailor uniform.

Isn't that...Aria!?

"IU's remnants! I'll arrest you as one set! A gift to Mama's supreme court this month is ready!"

The entire situation apparently not visible from the mist—

It seemed that Aria still had not realized the danger of the place she was stepping into.

"A-Aria! Now is a bad time! Here, there is...!"

Putting myself aside, I shouted, as if preventing Aria from pouring oil onto the fire.

However, I did not expect that I could stop Aria, who was looking for the unarrested remnants of IU.

While going "!?" at the monsters, all facing towards her, Shing, Shing!

The platinum and pitch-black Governments were drawn in unison.

I-I said to stop!

"—LOO—"

The sound of operation ringing out, the walker tank, LOO, looked back—

"—You brought your minions!? Kinji! Since you're here, support me!"

Suddenly, Aria, BangBangBang!

Without warning, muzzle flashes lit the air.

"!"

The bullets did not hit LOO itself, but above his head, they hit the propellers of the wind generator, throwing up sparks.

The propellers were rusted, so they must have become fragile. One of them, showered with gunfire, Kcch...Bch!

Along with a tearing sound, it snapped off at the base.

"—LO...!?"

LOO, whose operational noise had been ringing out, made a movement as if looking up, but—Gnng!

It did not have an opportunity to dodge. Falling down was a propeller which weighed several tons, and crushed by it, it went into a position akin to crawling. It struggled, but it stayed there without rising.

I-I...didn't even know if it was an enemy or ally.

Aria...Suddenly, she did it.

With a feeling that suggested it had clearly malfunctioned, LOO was smoking.

"Aha! Ahaha! She came! She came!"

Standing there bow-legged and twirling, was the horn-girl from earlier—Havi.

Swinging around the massive metal axe like it was a knife, she danced.

As if this was a kindergarten where a fun game had just started.

"...!"

I looked towards Hilda, thinking to confirm, and this way—

Towards the back of the witch, Katze Grasse, who had burst into laughter at the sight of LOO being destroyed, the nun, Meiya—Shhhh..., turned—Yssshhhh...!, and with that noise, she wielded her massive sword—

"Witch of the filthy crimson tide...I WILL SLAUGHTER YOU—!"

Along with the high-pitched voice, with a momentum as if trying to split Katze Grasse into two parts, she brought the sword down.

Thunk!

With a movement which seemed to suggest that she had noticed a while ago, the witch, with a shortsword—decorated with kachiwaba engravings and diamonds, a sword that was akin to one that soldiers in old-Europe might carry—she clashed blades.

"Ahh, Meiya...really, it can't be cured without dying once, can it. That stupidity."

Katze Grasse used the short sword to parry, and—Ching!

Meiya's broadsword fell to the concrete by her feet, and through its own weight, the sword pierced the floor.

"N-not being cut obediently...Ahh, Lord, forgive this person's crimes...no, it would be splendid if you did not forgive them! In place of divine punishment, I WILL HUMBLY DO MY BEST."

Meiya, already short of breath, once again readied her broadsword in a low stance.

i-it's starting over there too.

—-What the hell do I do!?

Without any sort of forewarning, Bssh!, between the two, water burst forth—

Hidden by the camouflage of the water drops, the witch instantly distanced herself from the nun.

And, from inside the black robe, which she rolled up, she snatched out two golden guns and began shooting.

That was—a Luger-P08. From the barrel which extended out from the body of the pistol, and the inchworm like movement of the toggle above the gun, I could figure it out.

Now, it was an antique, but it was a gun that was used by Nazi soldiers in the German army, a gun which was highly accurate.

However, as for that P08's bullets—BangBangBang!

Even though they were being continuously fired from a range of just 9m, they did not hit Meiya.

Fufun, making a triumphant expression, Meiya—I could not see what kind of technique she used.

It was a scene which was hard to figure out, but it seemed that the bullets did not hit Meiya. What happened just now.

"Tch. So, it was impossible after all. You really are damned lucky."

Flipping open her robe—exposing her pure white tights and violet garter straps, Katze Grasse restored her guns to her leg holsters.

And raising her short sword once again—fixing her eyes upon Meiya, who was readying her broadsword again, she sprinted forth.

Between the two—Shh!, a figure wearing a bulletproof coat interrupted.

The sound of metal rang out twice in consecutively clashes, and a dark blue scythe had simultaneously met the two blades.

"...Kana...!"

Giving me, who muttered that name, a wink which said, "Come back quickly," Nii-san, with the back of his scythe for the broadsword, and the handle of it for the short sword, had completely stilled them into balance.

And, merely by changing the direction of her arms—Meiya and Katze Grasse's white and black robes fluttered into the air, and they fell to the floor.

"Excuse me, you two. Right now—it is still a little early. Shall we go back? Hmm?"

Smile

The two, completely shocked, looked on as Kana, smiling with a face so beautiful it would put an actress to shame, receded into the depths of the mist, her high-laced boots ringing out. At that moment...

"Kinji! —Jeanne is here too!? What's going on!?"

Aria, sprinting all the way to my side, looked around at the surroundings—Clink, Clink

Her hands swift, she reloaded the magazines she had taken out of her skirt into the guns.

"Aria, get away! This is a bad place to be in! Don't you get it just from seeing it!?"

"In the beginning, I didn't really get it because of the mist, but no matter how I look at it, it does seem that way, doesn't it..."

Looking at Patra, who was walking towards Kana, Aria—frowned.

As if trying to intimidate everyone who was standing about her, she thrust her guns forward, her arms open.

"It seems that Patra is together with your brother—and it seems that Hilda has run away."

Having had that said to me, and remembering about Hilda, I looked around my feet, drifting in the midst.

Indeed...The shadow had disappeared.

No, not only Hilda. The unidentified handsome man in the coat wasn't there either.

Because of the battle which had suddenly started, he had quickly made his escape, it seemed.

Tamamo too...was gone. However, at my feet...a beautiful Temari with a checkered pattern had fallen.

Subtly sticking out from the Temari were things like that which could be found at the tip of a fox's tail...they had been sticking out, but as if noticing my gaze upon them, they pulled back into the interior of the ball.

...I don't really understand, but, 'defensive mode'...is that what it is?

Someone had moved. Thinking that, I turned around and—and at that point, the operator of LOO, which had been destroyed by Aria earlier, exited from within it, looking confused.

Looking at the destroyed robot, lamenting by going "LOO, LOO,"...a girl which was wearing a costume a navy colour akin to that of a school swimsuit. She too looked like a child around the age of an elementary school student.

Pointing at Aria and and raising her voice, seemingly angry, in a "LOO! LOO!", the girl stood up—

Apparently unable to do anything without the walking tank, the badge...no, medal attached to the swimsuit clinking, she tried to run away, barefoot. The eagle insignia which was visible for a second was—something that I had learned in Assault. It was a rank insignia. Of the American army. And, it was that of a colonel's. This is a joke, right?

The opposite of me, who had slightly relaxed from this mood of escape,

"Why did you come, Aria...! Be careful, Hilda is still here. And also, she's close...! Run away! She's stolen the—'Study of Scarlet' from IU! It's dangerous!"

Pulling Durandal, which was no longer stitched onto the shadow, from the floor, Jeanne warned Aria with her ice-blue eyes.

Around her body, in the midst of the floating mist...Crackle, Crackle;along with that noise, crystals of ice began to appear.

Diamond Dust.

Sending the sparkling crystals of ice, literally like diamonds, dancing through the air, this was Jeanne's magic.

The floating ice began to gradually accumulate, becoming a haze, hiding our figures.

Hidden by this mist of ice, she wanted to run, right?

Jeanne concentrated upon sending the particles of ice outward in something like a smokescreen—and at that moment.

"...!'

From within Aria's own shadow—

As if rising from the surface of a pool—

Hilda, her eyes shining with golden light akin to the Vlad of that time before, floated out of it, a half-smile on her lips!

"—Intâi gândeste, apoi porneste. Prilejui te face hot... [It would be better to confirm it before coming, wouldn't it. Just like a moth to flame...]"

Aria tried to turn around to Hilda, muttering in Romanian from directly behind, but she could not.

Hilda had already grasped hold of the back of Aria's neck with her crimson-manicured right hand.

Bang!

The gunshot of a Dragonov—!

(Reki—!?)

Bsssh!

A 7.62mm x 54R bullet penetrated through Hilda's head from the top left to the bottom right, throwing her vertically-rolled twin-tails into the air, but—

"Kyaa!"

Behind Aria, who had cried out at the sound of the bullet impact, Hilda had just swayed her head aside.

Neither did she release Aria's neck.

And, looking up at Reki, who had shot her from above the wind generator...

"...Baaang"

Sticking out her index finger, making a pistol-shape with her left hand, she made a gesture as if to shoot herself in the head.

While smiling with her bloodstained face.

Sh-she too—is the same as Vlad. Bullets have no effect.

I can't do anything...!

"Foolish Butei girls are punished, you know."

Hilda opened her bright crimson mouth.

Those two fangs—their tips covered with scarlet metal—Aria's white neck, they—

"—!"

Bite...!

Pierced it.

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

And as for Aria, her camellia eyes widened with pain, next to her face,

"Ha!"

Flèche Fente—With the graceful movements of fencing, Jeanne's Durandal flew through the air.

Schhhhh!

Hilda, parrying Durandal with the fangs that had just left Aria's neck, turned, getting away.

"What a happy miscalculation. Staying in Prime[5], I could remove my shell. Ohohoho...Ohohohohohoho!"

Bringing the back of her hand to her cheek—the blood from the gunshot wound which had been blown open by Reki had stopped—resounding in my ears, she laughed loudly in a voice bordering on ultrasonic.

"Houhohoho! Fii Bucuros! Fii Fericit! Hohohohoho!" [Wonderful! Excellent!]

In the midst of the ringing laughter which almost seemed to want to fill up our ears, towards the area below her left ear that was bitten, Aria—touching her neck with left hand, checked how much had bled. And, having confirmed that her carotid artery had not been cut, Chck

Aria08 045.jpg

Readying her Colts, she tried to turn around, but...

"...ch...!?"

Thud, a single knee dropped to the ground.

"Poison—!?"

I sprinted towards the pale Aria, and—

"...This is bad, one of Tohyama. It appears that this is worse than poison."

The Temari, rolling towards me though no-one had touched it, said those words to me from my feet. With the voice of Tamamo.

Worse...than poison?

What does she mean? When I looked at Aria, the meaning of those words struck me.

Aria's body was—

Indistinctly, starting to shine.

It wasn't an optical illusion. Around her body, something that appeared to be a haze of scarlet light was seeping out of her.

"...ch!"

This...is something I've seen before. Twice, in the past.

"Oooh..."

It was when she fought with Patra, who was over there, looking at Aria, raising what appeared to be a surprised voice.

And—when she fought with Sherlock in IU.

Aria has gone into that mode.

And, afterward, she had shot out a bullet of light with the power of a battleship's cannon.

But...from that time...it was a little different.

Rather than pouring outside—it felt as if the light was trapped inside, and that was a slight leak.

"Aria...Are you alright!?"

I shook Aria's shoulders with my both my hands, and—

Once, twice, thrice, Aria blinked painfully...

"..."

Staying completely silent, slowly, she looked up towards me.

"...?"

Those camellia eyes fixed upon me.

—Who are you?

As if saying that.

"...Aria...?"

—Wrong.

This gaze. This expression.

I understood because of the months that I had spent living together with her.

Even I know that this is strange. However—this is not Aria.

Who are you. Who is this...!

"Damn Hilda. You've learned even of the destruction of the 'Seven Stars of the Golden Shell?"

"Think of it as an honour. This is the first time in history. That humans have seen the cracking of the shell—"

The Temari by my legs exchanged words with Hilda, and...

"One of Tohyama. That Aria has come is the worst of luck. I will return one, so do not be afraid. Make it such that Aria does not move. Meiya! You return one as well!"

Saying that, Sshhhhhh——-! Raising up a puff of white smoke, it returned to the original Tamamo.

Tamamo, showing off a transformation like that of an anime or movie, the fur on her ears and tail standing up—

Inside that small hand, she was carrying a Gohei akin to that a Miko would hold.

And, looking in Aria's direction, she grasped the two sides of the Gohei, readying it as if she was using martial techniques with a staff.

"...ch...!?"

Because the scarlet light had gotten noticeably stronger, I, continuing to grasp Aria's two shoulders, lost all words.

The light shined a bright scarlet, just like an inferno, but there was no heat. That was the same as before.

However, the phenomenon of light gathering at the point of her finger, which had happened before, did not occur.

A phenomenon different from that time...is that it? This, that is.

Continuing like that, the light—Bang!

As if bursting out of Aria's body—

"Uu...!"

In front, to the left and right of me, who was unable to do anything but support Aria's body and groan, the light scattered this way and that.

Shining like a blazing scarlet light, they flew, a multitude of scarlet balls of light—

That scene made me feel as if my eyes were being seared.

Bzzzz!

Turning towards that noise, which sounded like a power short, there was Tamamo, who was in the midst of catching one of the balls of light with the handle of her Gohei.

"Allllright, alright, alright. Good girl...go back, go back...ch!"

Appearing to be talking to the core of the light, Tamamo—

Squeeze, pressing down upon the two sides of the Gohei, she pushed the light back.

That done, as if jumping back from the Gohei, it returned to Aria's left breast.

"—Kyaa, ahh, ahh."

Raising what seemed to be a surprised voice was sister Meiya.

She too had caught a ball of light with her sword, and she was moving it, making it slide down the length of the blade.

Wobble, WobbleWobble, staggering around, apparently for the sake of restraining the ball of light, Meiya—

"...Nnn!"

Swinging the sword with a motion like that of a lacrosse pass, she threw the ball of light back.

Tracing a wide arc through the air, the ball of light flew a course which was slightly averted from Aria, but—

"—ch!"

Its trajectory corrected by Jeanne's sword, wielded like a tennis racket by Jeanne, who had sprinted forth—it too, returned to Aria's chest.

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

What's going on.

I don't get it.

Still in a state of incomprehension, I looked around me, and the leftover balls of light were—

Hilda, Katze Grasse, Havi, Shokatsu, Patra...

By each of the five people who had chosen the alliance of 'Grenada', they were caught.

I looked at the hands of the five, and as I watched, the light, growing weaker, it seemed to become an extremely small jewel-like solid, apparently having stabilized.

"—As for that shell, I'll give it to everyone. As a reward attached to the 'Kin'. Also, it's because this is an act of hatred towards those which were father's enemies. Rather having I hold it as one person, this is much more hateful, is it not?"

The bat-girl, Hilda, turned her gaze to Patra and the rest from above, saying this to them.

And, she kept the grain of light, reminiscent of a ruby, which she too was holding by her chest.

"Kyaha...Kyahahahah!"

Havi, playing Otedama with the light, Plop, placed it in her mouth.

And, going on all fours like an animal, she agilely disappeared into the other side of the mist.

Witch - Katze Grasse too,

"Meiya, let's meet again."

Smirk, forming a smile which seemed to be formed by twitching her cheek—she sprinted towards a part of the mist which had become far thicker.

"—Thanks for this. This was a welcoming gift far above my expectations. I will return to Ranban's territory fortwith and have this analyzed."

While storing the grain of light in the slender bamboo pipe he had taken out from his chest, Ranban's Shosatsu too, seemed to be happy.

"My, you're going already? If you kill Reki, I'll help you, you know. I mean, just now, that girl shot me in the head."

While looking up at Reki with her golden eyes, Hilda said those words.

Reki looked down at Hilda, silent, still holding her sniper rifle.

"No, no. Because I am but a messenger, I do not fight by direct means. Wise men do not approach danger, or so they say."

While saying that in a gentle tone, Shosatsu—

Hidden in the smoke that was being spurted out of a smoke bomb which had been placed at his feet at some point in time, he was no longer visible.

"Hoho. Hilda, For you, father and daughter, there exists a debt because I had introduced you to IU. As such, I will take this without staying my hand."

Zccchhh—Hidden in the sandstorm which was intermingling with the mist, Patra too disappeared.

"Fuuun. Then, I too will call this a night."

Seeing that the 'Kin' other than her had gone, Hilda too...Zcchh...

Once again sunk into the depths of her own shadow.

As if having taken the acquisition of the scarlet gem as a signal, "Grenada" disappeared as one...

"Wa-wait...!"

While clutching Aria, who was just sitting there unmoving, towards me, as if protecting her—

I pointed my Beretta at Hilda.

But...I didn't shoot. A chance to emerge victorious remained unseen.

Already, the eyeball design at Hilda's thigh had sunk into her shadow...

She, who had taken Jeanne's and Reki's attacks and remained completely undisturbed; She, who had subjected Aria to a state where she was unable to do battle in the space of a heartbeat, could I, not even in Hysteria Mode, defeat her?

No, in a position that I did defeat her, what would I do.

More than not understanding what had happened to Aria's body, it was something which was life-threatening, and in a position where only Hilda knew how to cure her, firing would probably not be the best course of action.

—What do I do. What should I do.

Incomprehensible. Right now, for me...!

"Bye bye. Let's play again sometime."

Appearing to be laughing at me, who was unable to do anything but point my gun at her, Hilda twirled her parasol, disappearing into her shadow.

And, that shadow too, as I watched, it became thin—and dissipated.

"...ch..."

Because all those who appeared to be enemies had gone, I looked at Aria—

Aria had...

Lost consciousness.

"...Aria...!"

Turning towards that voice, Jeanne had sheathed Durandal in its sheath, and she was sprinting towards the place where Aria and I were.

"Jeanne..."

As this was not the time to have a falling out, I had no intention of blaming anyone, but my tone was slightly interlaced with that feeling, wasn't it.

Coming over and peering at Aria's face, Tamamo pressed against my chest—

And, she looked towards Jeanne.

"Jeanne. You are not to blame. I had read in advance that this mostly would become a skirmish, but that this young maiden would come, that Hilda would use even the destruction of the "Seven Stars of the Golden Shell", was something that was beyond expectation for all of us."

Next to Jeanne, who was lowering eyes, seemingly regretful, was another person—

"She is..."Hidan no Aria"...is she not."

Meiya too, having replaced the sword on her back, had come.

"How dost it look, Meiya. Aria's condition."

"She has just lost consciousness...is what it would appear to be. There is nothing otherwise pertaining to her life."

"My viewpoint is as yours. Because, two of the scarlet shell are still continuing to function. She is weakened, but she should be safe for now."

Saying that, Twitch Twitch, and moving her fox-ears, Tamamo...

"Jeanne, thou shalt also hunt them down. Reki hath already gone. According to mine ears, they hath all scattered in every direction, however...if fortune is on our side, perhaps one might give himself away. Just, do not chase too far. I am strengthening our protection with 'The Boundary of the Devil's Contract'."

"Understood."

Jeanne gave a courteous nod to Tamamo, who looked far younger than her.

"—Tohyama. I apologize. As for Aria's condition...hear it from Tamamo and Meiya."

Clank, her armor ringing out, she spun on her heel, looking up to the propellers of the slanted windmill—already, Reki's figure was no longer there—and from that, she started running towards the east tip of Empty Island, where it seemed her own boat was.

At some point, the fog had started clearing, and around me, the expansive Empty Island was visible.

Besides the broken walking tank and the light nearby, having been abandoned, as well as the wind generator, nothing could be seen.

All that was left was Aria, just sitting there unmoving, I, Tamamo, and Meiya, us 4.

There was not a trace, not a shadow, of anyone else.

(...)

It was a feeling as if...I had seen a nightmare.

However, this is no dream. This is reality.

I, still not understanding what on Earth had happened, had been dragged by that dream, and now I was here.

While holding on to Aria, who was sitting here, unconscious...!


Translator's Notes and References[edit]

  1. The Yangtze river is long. The Yellow river is convoluted.
  2. Unit
  3. Kin
  4. Zhuge Liang
  5. First form.