Hidan no Aria:Volume8 Chapter4

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4th Ammo: 350m Altitude Tornado[edit]

After the Inquesta lesson, I started on the way home only after attending 'Strategy 1' in the Assault lecture hall.

It had become quite late, so when I exited the building, it was already dark. Maybe it's because we're getting deeper into Autumn.

Stepping on the fallen leaves from the trees by the road, I headed towards the bus stop...

Several laughing girls exited from the backdoor of the Connect building, which was next to Assault.

Each of them threw the brooms they were holding behind the Connect section, past a metal fence into the artificial forest beyond. What are they doing?

"Nacchi, we'll be leaving the rest to you!"

After shouting into the forest with their hands cupped around their mouths, the girls went towards the shopping district.

Nacchi...? Somebody's nickname?

"...Ah, y-yes..."

I could only hear the sound of leaves, so I frowned and looked in the direction of the voice...

It looked like someone was cleaning up the fallen leaves in the dim forest.

That was...

"Nakasorachi...?"

I called out to her.

The figure startled, clutching the broom to herself.

Because of that movement, the garbage in which the fallen leaves were kept got caught on the broom...and it fell on its side, spilling its contents.

"U-U-Um, that voice—To-Bo-Tohyama, Boy, Boyama-kun!"

This disappointing way of talking...it really is Nakasorachi.

She was plain, having completely blended into the forest, so I didn't notice.

"Are you cleaning up by yourself? Weren't the people here just now up for cleaning duty?"

It seemed that she had knocked over the bag because of me, so I entered the forest in order to fix it...

"Y-Yes, but, um, I was asked to do it by the other people on duty, so..."

Nakasorachi backed away from me, her legs twisted towards each other...

Her back touched a tree, and she went 'Eek!', scaring herself.

Leaving that aside...rather than being asked to do it, she was forced to do it, huh.

(Really, those people...)

The actual forest is pretty small, but the amount of fallen leaves have reached their peak, so cleaning them up is a pain.

Forcing her to clean this up...that has to be bullying.

In any case, even if I go home, there won't be anybody there, so I didn't have anything to do.

"Lend me one of these."

I picked up a broom and decided to help her gather up the leaves.

Nakasorachi saw me.

"Ah, ah! It's fine, really, it's fine...Hic, hic, hi~!"

It seems like she started to hiccup.

"It's fine, I'll help. Remember the first article of the Butei Charter?"

"Yesh...Hic, th-thank yhou! Thank hyou!"

Still clutching the broom, Nakasorachi bowed her head deeply, her long black hair swinging about.

Your voice is way too loud. Why're you suddenly upping the atmosphere.

In front of me, who was shying away, Nakasorachi leapt to the garbage bag and dropped into a crouch. She then started to stuff the spilled leaves into the bag.

Well, she can really do it if she tries. Her dull movements from just a moment ago suddenly became sharp.

I started sweeping up the leaves...

"......Nnn....!"

I averted my eyes from the full, plump thighs that were visible from the corner of Nakasorachi's skirt, as she squatted there vulnerably.

L-Luckily it's dark around here. If it was bright, I would've seen farther in.

Rather—if you're going to squat, squat with your knees together.

"...? What's wrong with your eyes?"

I, whose gaze had fled upwards, noticed that there were no glasses beneath the veil of Nakasorachi's long front hair.

"Ah, ah, my glasses. That's um, during class, I was clumsy, and a ball, um, during PE, a volleyball, I was hit, my glasses, um, I was clumsy, um..."

Just because I spoke to her, Nakasorachi started to talk in a way where she was rearranging the sentence order.

Apparently, I've a companion in the 'ball to the face' team.

"Rather, you're being...pretty polite? We're in the same year, so it's fine to speak casually."

"G-guys, b-boys. I-I've, um...never really...talked...to boys before, so...just by reflex, I started, um, speaking politely. S-Sorry!"

Nakasorachi dipped her head with such momentum that it looked like she was going to thrust her head into the bag containing the leaves.

"A-Also, I-I, g-got carried away, a-and I-I've only seen, To-Tohyama-kun, during battle, through a camera image, so i-it's like, I'm able to meet a person, f-from a film, a drama...I'm suddenly, talking too much, w-when I'm spoken to, I-I get carried aw-aw-aw-awawa..."

"Ahh...it's fine to speak politely. Alright, let's gather up the leaves that've fallen down."

Aria08 221.jpg

Starting Nakasorachi, who had stopped working, back up...We divided the work, with me gathering the fallen leaves with a broom, and Nakasorachi crouching down, picking them up in a dustpan and putting them in the bag.

If I gave instructions, Nakasorachi would follow them properly, so the cleaning went on smoothly—

"...This should be it, right? It's so dark I can't really tell."

"Yes. T-The sound of the grass and leaves ru-ruru-rustl...ing has gone."

Nakasorachi closed the mouth of the garbage bag, when...

The sound of a car honking its horn at students who had exited Connect and were trying to cross the road rang out.

"Eek!"

Nakasorachi frightened at just that noise and leaped into the air, clutching onto my arm.

(Uu...!)

Th-That was dangerous. I obstructed her with the broom so it ended in an instant, but boobs that held a loose softness and were the size of volleyballs had pressed into me.

For me, this held the same danger level as being pierced by a sharp blade.

Nakasorachi's eyes seemed to have met mine, which were filled with tension.

"Ah, ah, ee-eek!"

She rammed into me with unexpected strength.

Thanks to that, the back of my head smashed into a tree trunk. Ouch...

"I-I-I-It's not what you think! T-The reason I grabbed your hand wa-was completely unrelated from the fact that our eyes met! I-I wasn't f-f-fantasizing about T-Tohyama-kun!"

...What is it this time...

"I-I wasn't d-doing anything like f-fantasizing here! Nothing dirty! Nothing a-about the depths of the forest! I-In the shadows of the underbrush, where nobody's eyes could reach! I-I wasn't!"

In the depths of the forest...? I have no idea what she's saying.

"Ah, Nakasorachi. Please don't say anything right now."

I said—

"!"

Nakasorachi stretched out her body like she had been subjected to a high voltage electric current.

"T-T-T-T-That kind of forceful...! B-Butbut, we've finished cleaning, so I-I'll just lay something over the u-underbrush in advance! Please wait for a moment!"

As if pushing a reset button, I lightly tapped her on the waist with my broom.

"Hey. I'm finishing up. Speaking is forbidden until we finish. Alright?"

I picked up the bag filled with fallen leaves, and Nakasorachi nodded again and again, one hand over her mouth. She tottered off to gather up the brooms. It looks like she's obeying what I told her, 'don't talk'.

Rather...Nakasorachi's cowardly enough that she gets frightened from a car horn, yet she serves as a Butei.

She's probably a rare type of person. At our school, at least.


At the bus stop, I was waiting with Nakasorachi for the bus.

"To-Tohyama-kun. Th-Thaou yonk, for, um, today."

Thank you, maybe?

"It's fine. All I did was help you a little for today."

"T-This is the first time, so-somebody's, helped me li-like this, so...I-I don't have...friends, so, all I have is, J-Jeanne-san..."

...Jeanne.

Now that she mentions her, what could she be doing?

Ever since the Bandere, I've not seen hide nor hair of her—it's worrying.

"...Don't you know where Jeanne is right now?"

I asked, though I expected her to say no.

"Right now? I-In my room, or rather, th-the room Jeanne-san and I are...sharing, i-in the, gi-girl's dormitory...I think?"

"Eh?"

"At one point last week, she called me to ask for something...She said that she was coming back that morning, that she'd been absent, from school. Because she was injured. Right now, she's in the room."

Jeanne.

She'd returned to Butei High?

However, she said she was injured. That's worrying. I'll have to go meet her.

However...Jeanne seems to be roommates with Nakasorachi.

I don't know which room it is, so I'd like her to guide me there, but that, in short, is like telling this person, 'let's go into your room' so it looks like I'll have trouble bringing it up.

If I don't say it a little carefully, I'll be made to do another sentence order quiz.

"Nakasorachi, I've like to ask you for a favor..."

"F-Favor, favor? Th-that's i-impossible, a fa-favor from a b-bo-bo-boy..."

Suddenly this.

"I-I'm the t-type of person th-that can't s-say no when as-asked a favor of! So, pl-please be gentle!"

"That's convenient. I'd like—"

"B-Before that, I-I have t-to change! B-boy, please let me change! Especially the bottom!"

"I haven't said anything yet..."

That was what the situation was like, so I needed the time from when we got on the bus till we got off the bus to communicate to her what I meant (and I only just managed to do it too), but...

Somehow, I was able to go to Jeanne and Nakasorachi's room, located in the third girl's dormitory.


Together with Nakasorachi, her knees shivering as her legs pressed together in an X shape, I ascended to her room.

"Wow..."

Inside the room, massive amounts of acoustic equipment were gathered, enough for me to let out my voice.

Countless speakers and expensive looking amplifiers were piled up on a rack, surrounding a black desk with a semicircle.

The soundproof walls were painted black, and headphones of every color were hanging from them like an electronics volume retailer.

Not only did the entire scene look like the mixing room of a radio station, but in the room, there were even communication devices coming from every time period and every place imaginable, all lined up neatly. Not only computers and wireless devices used for processing, but there were around 50 types of handheld cellphones.

The places the access lamps lead to blinked with lights, and in the midst of this room, which smelled of electronic devices...the only thing that resembled a girl's room was a miniature decorative plant, placed right by the window.

Rather, that plant with two leaves...there's what looks like a small placard with 'Tohyama-kun' written on it standing there. Was there a plant like that?

I was looking at the mini plant when Nakasorachi leaped into the air with a '!' and covered it with an empty box for headphones, hiding it.

"I-I-It's not what you think! I-I do-don't talk to that plant at all! I-I'm not that l-lonely! Ah, also, there's nothing inside that small room over there! Things that I bought in preparation for unexpected circumstances, l-lewd underwear, alcohol, none of that is there!"

"Um...I haven't come to raid your place. Rather than that, Jeanne is...?"

"Jeanne-san is, that way."

Nakasorachi turned her back on 'Tohyama-kun' and pointed at a door. That was the only door with a wood grain, having been decorated in an antique, western style. Needless to say, it was just like Jeanne.


The door creaked as it opened, and when I stepped through it, it was bright.

It does seem like she's here. I can't see her though...

A mahogany desk. A light which looks like an ancient gas lamp. Somehow, it seems like the room is decorated with chic ornaments, just like an executive office of a high-tier business, or a politician's office. It's completely different from the Nakasorachi zone.

As for the wooden bookcase...French and Japanese books that seemed like history books lined the shelves.

(She's a scholar, huh...)

I thought, taking out a book, and beyond the books bound with leather, there lay another row in...Mm...?

There were comics for girls hidden inside. And a lot of them.

Shoucomi, Margaret, Betsufure, Hanatoyume. Hehe. Jeanne reads stuff like this?

I've found an unexpected side of her. So she keeps the girly part of her hidden inside. That's just like her.

Rustle...Rustle.

Raising my head at the slight indication, there was another room further in. It seemed that Jeanne was inside there.

That's right, this isn't the time to laugh.

Jeanne. She chased 'Grenada', and it seems that she was injured, but—is she alright?


(If she's heavily injured and is sleeping, I can't be noisy.)

So I thought, opening the door silently...inside was a small room, long but thin, and it seemed like it was being used as a walk-in closet.

But—what on Earth is this?

Inside the room...frills, lace...red, white, pink, aquamarine...checkers, stripes, heart patterns...dresses like this were in rows, leading all the way inside.

This...I was forcibly made to remember it by Riko, but...this is lolita fashion. And this closet was like a clothing store, and it had enough stocked here to resemble a wholesaler.

(Did she get them from Riko...?)

I thought, but the sizes of the clothes here were bigger than Riko's. These clothes are meant for someone far more slender.

Just by walking, I parted the masses of lace and ribbons that brushed past my face and limbs, advancing through the lolita jungle...

And she was there.

In the innermost portion of the long, thin room, Jeanne stood before a full length mirror, bordered with Rococo style engravings.

She was wearing the brand name waitress uniform that I had drawn the lot for as her proxy for Ristorante Masue. The uniform of 'At Home Cafeteria'. Standing there like a model, she looked at the mirror, an ecstatic smile on her face.

Wearing a skirt with openings that drew attention to her tensed long, beautiful legs, she placed a hand on her hips...

"Hehe. It really is nice."

... ...

She placed a hand on her knee and leaned forward. Turning back subtly, she adjusted the big ribbon on her back before brushing a hand through her long, silver hair (which she had let down), letting it flutter through the air.

What...is she doing?

"Heh...That I would look so lovable...Hehe."

...I...

Couldn't call out to her at all.

She was doing a solo fashion show.

Like a puma watching its prey, I peered out at my target from between the leaves of lace...

Apparently satisfied, Jeanne adjusted her headband.

"Hehe. To think that a day would come when I would be able to wear this boldly in front of everyone. The people at Informa will not have even thought that I owned something like this. Tohyama drew the best lot possible. He did well."

She spoke to herself.

And so, my voice leaked out.

"Ahh..."

Having heard my voice, the Witch of Silver Ice, Jeanne, froze.

Her eyes meeting mine in the mirror, she stopped moving, as if her heart had stopped in that position.

"Jeanne. First of all...You're doing pretty well, aren't you? Nakasorachi said that you were injured, so I was worried. Also, one more thing. What the hell is this? Are these all yours?"

Walking into the solo fashion show from the forest of frills, I spoke...

Finally moving, Jeanne covered her face with her pale, white fingers.

"...This...This is the end..."

Her skirt swaying, her body crumpled as her knees dropped to the floor, just like the heroine of a tragedy.

"...What's the end?"

Aria08 231.jpg

"...Tohyama. You...You have seen that which cannot be seen. I cannot let you return alive."

Tears in her eyes, Jeanne drew Durandal from her back.

"H-Hey! You're armed even though you're wearing that...!?"

Overreacting, almost like I had seen her naked, Jeanne held the scabbard in her hands. Panicking, I grabbed onto it.

As if her hands were devoid of strength, Jeanne let her sword go immediately.

"There...There is no-one who has seen this room. This is the secret garden that belongs to me and me only. I had been keeping this a secret from even Riko...!"

Jeanne's eyes were brimming with tears, her hands trembling...

And this time, a Cx100 greeted me from behind Jeanne's cocktail apron.

"I-I got it. I'll keep it a secret. Between just the two of us. So please don't shoot."

"...Do you promise? If you talk about this to anyone, I'll make you into a frozen gratin."

"I promise. Or rather, humans can't become gratins."

I said.

Jeanne sighed, a sigh that spoke of melancholy itself.

"...If I fired in a place like this, I would be making holes in all my clothes..."

And she stowed her gun away.

Holes in clothes are worth more than my life? Well...I was saved by that, so you have my thanks, western clothing.


I sat on a leather sofa in the room that was more like an executive office, waiting for Jeanne.

Jeanne had changed into her uniform and her cheeks flushed with pink, she brewed me some coffee, lips twisted into a pout.

"I will say this now, but I myself know very well."

Sitting down with her knees together, just like a lady, Jeanne spoke, her legs slanting forward.

"Know what?"

"That those kinds of clothes do not suit a girl like me."

Really seeming as if she was embarrassed from the depths of her heart, Jeanne kept her head down but looked up at me.

"Those dresses are lovely when girls like Riko, small in stature, wear them. It is decidedly so. However...I am rather tall and have been raised as a boy since I was very young. Therefore, by nature, it does not fit me. However, the more I thought of it...for some reason, I started to feel a sort of yearning for those dresses..."

Ahh...

Well, it's not like I can't understand.

It's human nature to yearn strongly for that which we don't have.

"And then, there was Riko's influence on me...though I knew that it did not suit me, I went to Harajuku, thinking to buy one dress...and after that, it became a habit of mine, and now, things are as you have just witnessed. Haha...I am a laughable girl, am I not? You can laugh if you want. Hahaha..."

A broken laugh spilled from her lips...

"N-No, I'm not going to laugh. I thought it was cute."

The clothes were, that is.

"...C-Cute...?"

Were my words unexpected? Jeanne's ice blue eyes widened.

"Mm? Y-Yeah."

The clothes were cute.

"What a strange person. You cannot have much sense about these things."

Jeanne said, looking to the side...Facing the wall, her face looked like she was resisting the urge to smile from happiness.

Th-Thank God.

It seems like I made the right dialogue selection in the visual novel called life.

It looks like I can finally get to the point.

"By the way...Where did you go after Bandere?"

"—I was keeping track of Grenada's movements the entire time."

"What are they doing? I can't see any of their actions from here."

"Everyone has returned to their respective territories and they are all looking for an opportune moment. The only person that acted immediately is Hilda herself. I also engaged with her. The truth is, I was heavily shocked."

"Was that your injury? Where is it?"

"You would not be able to infer this from my appearance, but the damage has remained in the tendons all over my body, and I cannot use my limbs with any strength. Thanks to that, it seems that I will be unable to participate in combat for half a month."

...So that's why even I could take her sword from her before.

"Aria and I were also attacked by Hilda. We somehow managed to stay unharmed though."

"I heard from Riko. But be at ease. After a month, she will be unable to remain in Tokyo. Tamamo is expanding the Barrier of Exorcism without stopping to rest. Hilda is already unable to approach the stretch of coast from the Tokyo Disneyland to Academy Island, Empty Island, Daiba, Shinagawa and Toyosu. The barrier is improvised, so it seems that it will only hold for one year, but Tamamo's Barrier of Exorcism is formidable."

"Exorcism...Barrier? What the hell's that?"

"Speaking simply, it creates a zone that monsters are unable to invade. There is no obstruction to human bodies, but if monsters enter the barrier...speaking in terms of humans, it would be like being bombarded by a neutron beam."

"S-Some amazing things are starting, from below the surface."

"It is not something that has just started now. In the first place, Tokyo, followed by Rome and Hong Kong, is a city with high magic rejection. Yamate line and the Central line outline the yin-yang of all things in potentia. It is well known that all magics weaken within it."

It isn't well known at all, is it?

I've been living in Tokyo for years and this is the first time I've heard about this gigantic SSR project.

"...Which reminds me, what are we going to do, Jeanne? Should we talk to Aria about Grenada and Deen? I haven't said anything yet, just in case."

"Indeed...let us stay silent until we are no longer able. Judging from her personality, she would go on the offensive if she found out. With Tamamo's barrier, this battle is one that is better fought defending."

"I was thinking that too. What should we tell Shirayuki?"

"Let us wait for Tamamo to decide. It would not be good for someone like you, inexperienced as you are in ability battles, to relay inaccurate information."

"That's...true. The specialists should do what they feel is best."

The moment I finished drinking my coffee...

Jeanne's cellphone rang.

"...It's Nakasorachi."

"Nakasorachi? She's in the room right next to us."

As I sat there wondering, Jeanne left me to myself and spoke on the phone for a while.

"Yes...I understand. Wait a moment, Nakasorachi...Tohyama, stay in this room. If she sees you, Nakasorachi will be unable to carry out her function. Talk with her using this phone."

"What is it? It seems that you asked Nakasorachi for something last week, but—what is it?"

"Indeed. I am making her eavesdrop on the transfer student's conversations."

"Transfer student?"

"L Watson. I suspect him."

"...!"

—Watson—

My eyes flew open in response to Jeanne's words.

"It seems that you have also taken note of this, but his movements are unnatural. All his records have been wiped, but we know he is not a normal person. His second name is 'Vein'—a boy who was decorated for his capacity as a spy, and a capable one too, for the confidential organization Liberty Mason."

"...He's..."

"I hate people who work in such a reprehensible manner. And many of my supporters in the tennis club have switched over to Watson. That, I cannot take."

Reprehensible...? Isn't eavesdropping reprehensible?

Also, it feels like you're just retaliating because Watson took all the popularity amongst the girls, but...I won't be saying that. It's promising that Jeanne is on the anti-Watson brigade.

"Tohyama, listen to this. It seems that he has made a move. He is alone and speaking with Aria."

She said.

I took the phone from Jeanne and hurriedly held it to my ear as Jeanne walked into the room with Nakasorachi.

Peeking into Nakasorachi's room a little...I saw that the room was darkened, perhaps so she could concentrate.

Nakasorachi was wearing a headset, and I could only see her face flicker in the green, yellow and blue lights that came blinking from the control panels of the communication and acoustic devices. On the display panel, audio ranges were divided up into alevel meters, and there were several tens of them lined up, increasing and decreasing rapidly.

Beside her, Jeanne was also wearing a headset. She continued to look at the equalizer that Nakasorachi was operating.

Looking closely, Nakasorachi's feet were stepping on countless pedals placed under her, making it look like she was playing an electronic organ. It was like she was swimming through a sea of sound.

"—They are currently inside a shop. Daiba 191. The 3rd floor of Hotel Japan Airlines' continental restaurant — Terrace on the Bay. They have entered a personal room. The voices inside the room are comparatively clear."

She was firm and clear, almost as if she was a completely different person. I could hear Nakasorachi's voice, like that of a female news announcer, ring out firm and elegant.

She's different, only able to speaking normally through communication devices.

"Did you bug a place like that...?"

"—No. There is an EX-Unidirectional laser mike set up on the roof of the girl's dormitory gathering sound. If targeted at a surface location within a three kilometer radius, it can monitor the sound of the direction to which it is set."

"T-Three kilometers...that's amazing. You can hear people talking inside a shop three kilometers away?"

"—It is possible. The microphone amplifies the vibrations of the voices that reach the glass of the window...the conversation inside the room is audible. Redirecting."

The power of science is amazing.

A conversation in a private room of a restaurant in Daiba can be heard directly here.

It's quite similar to ability. From my point of view, at least.

"'...hen, wha...did they Menu say?'"

Possibly because of the sheer distance, there was a little feedback mixed in with the audio, but...

This anime voice that I could hear definitely belonged to Aria.

"'...en I was in London, Menuette-san...said...ease take care...my older sister...'" "'...That girl...even though she's my sister, she looks at me from ab...so...'" "'Also...she said...the punishment game from that card game is still continuing.'" "'...She's the same as ever. It's disgusting. She's being rebellious...'"

I switched between being able to hear Watson and Aria's voice.

The line kept getting interrupted, but it seemed that they were talking about Aria's little sister.

Rather, did she have one?

Even though I've lived together with her for half a year, she never said anything to me about something as small as her sister's existence.

Well...I also hid the existence of Brother, so I can't really say anything.

She's probably the kind of sister that has characteristics that are hard to describe, or they don't get along or something.

But even so...I'm feeling a strange displeasure at the fact that Aria and Watson are talking about a common topic that none but the two of them know.

"—It seems that they are taking their seats. I can hear footsteps from Watson."

Nakasorachi looked down, as if focusing.

"—There is some strangeness in his footsteps. This is not beneficial information, but I will report it because it has been brought to my attention. Watson's body fat percentage is high. It seems to be 27%."

Nakasorachi...you can know something like that from this feedback-filled sound?

She really is a genius when you have her do audio investigations. All humans have good points.

But, a body fat percentage of 27%? That's a lot. Even I, who's already stopped going to Assault, have 15%.

Watson seems to be the kind of guy that hides his fat.

"—Aria takes her seat. Watson takes his seat."

"...but...what's the reason you're not coming back to England...I can have the ceremony by tomorrow, even..." "...It's too early for me to...think about..." "...Why are you hesitating? Do you have any other fiancés?" "..."

"—Aria is silent."

Nakasorachi's courteous explanation came through.

"'What's wrong...are you engaged to someone else?'" "'...'"

Watson repeated the same question and Aria remained silent...

"—There is someone. Every time Aria hears the word 'engaged', her heart beats loudly. Her body is experiencing other reactions besides that. The reactions of a girl who has strong feelings for a boy."

Nakasorachi declared.

Is that so.

Other than Watson...there's another fiancé? Aria being Aria, isn't she popular?

She didn't tell me about that either though.

"'Aria. It seems that your standing amongst the Holmes family is bad, but...if you marry me and enter the Watson family...your...also...the Watson family has succeeded with their finances, and now, we are more prosperous than the Holmes family...so...able...look back at them in scorn, you know? And your work won't be as something like a chief of a raid squad at the London Butei Division...but...if you become one of the Watsons...leadership...'" "'...'"

Watson spoke and Aria remained silent...

Irritation began to swell up inside me.

"'...Also, the Watson family has...Japan's political, judiciary circles...your mother's sentence...'" "'...'"

"—Aria's heartbeat has changed at the mention of 'Mother' and 'Sentence'. Starting to sweat."

"'...so...even if it's just on record...how about it, Aria...'" "'...Let me think about it...'"

Hey...

Let me think about it?

Are you talking about marrying Watson?

"Nakasorachi. Um...is Aria serious? Um...about...marriage..."

"She is serious. However, her tone...extrapolating from the memory of voice data of other girls the same age...her tone suggests that there is something that she is willing to sacrifice herself to protect."

...Are you serious?

Aria.


—Will you become Watson's?—


(Aria!)

At that moment.

My body.

Thump

What...

...is this?

Thump

A heartbeat that seemed to sear into me shuddered through my body. Twice. Three times. It continued.

That was what it was.

Blood is rising to my head—a sensation that I was no longer able to think.

It's similar to Hysteria Mode—but it's different.

It felt like I was being ravaged by these violent emotions.

—Steal her back...!

A voice spoke those words...from my heart, the very center of my soul, from the depths...I could hear the voice.

(This is...!)

I remember. My body has felt this before.

This is the same thing that happened when Sherlock stole Aria from me at I-U.

—Hysteria Berserk.

One of the derivatives of Hysteria Mode that my brother told me about.

Different from the ordinary Hysteria Mode, which 'protects' girls, this power is meant for 'stealing' them.

The hostility that I feel towards other men in these situations opens this state up. A dark, dark key—

"...Nn...!"

I leaned against the wall, clutching my chest so hard it looked like I was going to tear my heart out.

I...can no longer stop this flow of blood.

It's true that Berserk is a...dangerous mode. One's battle ability is amplified by 1.7 times compared to normal Hysteria mode, but in exchange...all thoughts are focused upon aggression. To give an example, it's a double-edged blade...something like that?

—But, who cares?

I started to feel as if it didn't matter.

It doesn't matter. Nothing matters.

Conversely, I started to want to curse the cowardice I had been showing up till this point.

Why did I leave Watson, who was approaching Aria, alone?

Watson...this is a bad way of saying it, but...Watson, did you think I'd let you have my seat as Aria's partner?

It's true that he's better than me at a lot of things.

He'll be able to respond to the battles that are coming. His appearance is beautiful, his grades excellent, and he's wealthy.

But, who cares about that...!?

Aria is my partner.

If you're trying to snatch her from me, then...

Fight me like a man, Watson.

Don't do things like taking Aria from me by deceiving Aria with tricks of speech.

I won't hand Aria over to people like that.

—And Aria. I'm sorry. I won't be gentle with you this time.

I'm going to steal you.

Thinking about it, when I was forced to team up with Reki...you tried to do the same thing at the school train station.

Allow me the privilege of stealing you back.

"Tohyama, what's wrong?"

Jeanne had come close to me at some point, and I grabbed her shoulder.

I noticed that I had taken Jeanne's phone from my ear.

Jeanne saw that my eyes had become sharper, sharper than normal, and sharper than my eyes in the normal Hysteria Mode...she tried to say something, so I pressed down on her mouth with my right hand.

Immediately, I spun her around, hugging her head, wreathed in silver hair, to my chest—

I brought Jeanne inside the room, to a place Nakasorachi could not see from her angle.

"Uuu—!?"

Reflected in the mirror was Jeanne, struggling while embraced by me...

However, it seemed that she really couldn't exert any strength. She was at my discretion.

Be careful for a while. Or you'll be subjected to these kinds of violent acts by the current me.

"Jeanne."

With the fingers of my left hand, I searched out a white ear from between the strands of hair the color of ice.

I touched Jeanne's ear and she trembled at the contact...

Therefore.

"Don't make a noise."

I softly whispered those words into her ear.

Nakasorachi's wearing headphones and is concentrating on eavesdropping. Seeing as she won't come here even if she looks around at what's happening for a few seconds...it would seem that if we keep our voices to this level, she won't notice.

Jeanne, reflected in the mirror, tried to move again, but I pulled her hips into mine with my left hand.

"...!"

Seeing herself in the mirror, my mouth by her ear, Jeanne's ice-blue eyes widened—

Her cheeks and ears were gradually tinged with pink.

So that she could continue to breathe, I moved my hand from her mouth—but even then, I placed my index finger over her rose-colored lips, continuing to gesture 'to her to 'keep quiet'...

"—T-Tohyama...!"

Jeanne responded with a soundless voice, apparently having read the atmosphere.

"Butei should not feel lust just from hearing about male-female entanglements! Nakasorachi is in the next room, you realize? I do not claim to know, so I have no proof, b-but she is not able enough to hold back her scream, even if you try to calm her down. N-No, rather than that, HSS—"

Jeanne spoke that far before I whispered into her ear again.

"Correct."

"Wh-Which of the things I said are correct?'

"Currently, I am in HSS—Hysteria Mode. However, it seems that this is a modified form. I suddenly feel like going outside. I'll be borrowing your cellphone."

"Going outside...?"

"Continue to have Nakasorachi tell me the situation through the phone."

Saying that, I released Jeanne and checked the magazines of my Beretta and DE.

Jeanne nodded once before she slumped to the floor...was the sight of me in Berserk that shocking?

Hey, me.

What exactly are you doing?

After this, Jeanne's definitely going to go ballistic on me, saying things like: "What do you mean by that!"

I've only learned this now, but the me in Berserk is opposite from the me in HSS.

I am rough with girls. I could even be called violent. Like a carnivore—

I can only pray that I don't make these kinds of moves on Aria.

Because, when predators savage each other, all involved with be covered with holes and soaked in blood.

"—Watson as well as Aria are moving. There is a change in Aria's manner of walking. It seems that she's tottering, or in other words, stumbling about. They have moved into an elevator. Descending. The door is closing. Voice suspended—"

Nakasorachi's voice, connecting to Jeanne's cellphone from the headsets linked over WLAN, continued on.

By now, the tap had become just feedback to me, an amateur.

From within that, Nakasorachi picked up faint sounds and told me Aria and Watson's movements.

I returned to my room and picked up Python as well as some spare magazines. Better to have one hand than none.

Because I could not get Mutou's help, I had no choice but to ride my own bike.

The watch ticked over 22:00.

The lights attached to the front fork of the bike illuminated the road flowing past me.

I had tried cycling with all my might before, but the me in Hysteria Mode was able to output around 90 km/h on just a normal bike. If it's just Daiba, then there isn't that big a difference between this method of transportation and any others, right?

So I thought, but...

"—Voice has been recaptured through echoes off buildings. Watson and Aria are in a car. The car is a Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet. The soft cover is currently closed. Moving northeast on city highway 482."

Watson was going out by car.

Northwest...He intends to bring Aria somewhere, not returning to Butei High.

However, there's no way I can race a Porsche with a bike.

"—Watson is speaking to Aria. Aria is not responding. She seems to be sleeping."

Sleeping...?

"It's unnatural. Tell me how she's sleeping, Nakasorachi. It's probably quite difficult, but can you?"

"—...Processing...consciousness levels are below JCSII-10. The sounds of the vital signs such as breathing or heart rate resemble the lowering of clarity that occurs with the application of anesthetics or drugs."

That bastard Watson...!

He did it this time. It seems that he slipped Aria a sleeping pill or the like at the restaurant.

I don't know what he plans on doing, but I hope he tries hurting Aria just a little.

Because I will return the pain completely.

In the most violent manner possible—!

(But...)

Where does Watson plan on going? If I don't know, I'll be left behind, unable to chase him.

Clicking my tongue in annoyance, I took the road under the monorail, heading to Daiba.

At that moment.

"—I can hear the sound of information being entered into the navigation systems of the car. The voice of the navigation system. Destination is...Sumida, Tokyo Oshiage 1-1-2."

"Nice assist, Nakasorachi. I'll give you a kiss later."

"—Please refrain from unregulated declarations."

Haha.

She paid attention to me.

The me in Berserk and Nakasorachi, across the communication device. Both of us are in personalities completely different from our normal ones.

"—Watson and Aria have reached the maximum range of audio capture. Voice was lost at the high-speed Metropolitan Shiodome Junction. Judging from the situation, I believe that you will be out of range—Be careful."

We've finally reached the limit of Nakasorachi's ears, huh.

But it's more than enough. She really saved me.

Because if I know their destination, I can chase them.

Wait for me, Watson. I'll wake Aria up and instead, put you to sleep.

"—In a hospital bed, that is!"


Looking at a map with my own phone, my destination...Oshiage 1-1-2, was...

—The Tokyo Sky Tree.

Its current site of construction.

Wondering if this was really the place and looking around...Watson's Porsche was in a nearby parking lot.

But there was no one in the car.

Checking the heat of the muffler, I estimated that it had been 15 minute since the car had stopped.

Using the light that I unclipped from my bicycle, I illuminated the ground of the construction site, the sandy floor visible through a metal fence...Ah, found it. The footprints of Butei High shoes.

However, there wasn't a set for Aria.

Watson walked while carrying the sleeping Aria, huh.

(Why...did he bring Aria here...?)

I looked up at the Sky Tree, about 7/10 done...It was tall.

So tall that looking up at me made my neck hurt.

I didn't realize it when I saw the Sky Tree with Aria from the classroom's veranda, but if you go to the bottom, the white pillars were terrifyingly huge.

It was a massive structure, so huge that I couldn't even bring myself to understand that it was a tower.

At the topmost part, the crane in the midst of building the second viewing platform...was enveloped by the darkness, becoming completely invisible.

Looking even more closely, it was different from an ordinary tower in that the supporting pillars were all lined up in a light helix.

(Is he...at the top of this?)

I scaled the metal fence, chasing the footprints into the tower interior construction site.

Because we were in the dead of the night, there was nobody. On top of that, there was hardly anything there at all—so my footsteps on the metal plates rang out into the air.

Staying vigilant of the shadows of the signboards and heavy machinery inside the construction site, I would, from time to time, point my gun forward, going forth.

"..."

The footprints on top of the sandy metal boards had nearly become invisible...

At its end, there stood a temporary work elevator.

(...An elevator...)

If I use it, I'll reveal the fact that I tracked them here.

Like I care. The me currently, in Berserk, couldn't think of anything much more than attacking the enemy and stealing Aria.

I inserted a skeleton key I took out from the Butei Handbook into the keyhole used for operation.

The unstable elevator used a metal fence in place of a door.

As I stood inside, it ascended.


After riding the elevator up several floors, heading upwards, ever upwards, in the thick, white steel frame...

I was pulled up to a height at which planes flew.

—It's so tall. What amazing height.

It may be because I'm looking upon it at nighttime, but Tokyo Bay, below me, looked like it could have come out of a photo of deep space.

This is far taller than the rooftop battle on Landmark Tower, where we had fought with Vlad. This is far taller than the height we had flown at in the ANA600.

After continuing in this way, the place I reached was—

The first observation deck. I walked onto it, spotting a pillar on which '350m' was written.

It was dark, but the light from the streets reflected up here, so I had become completely used to the darkness.

The unfinished observation deck was in a state where the exposed concrete was just about hardening on the floor.

It was extremely wide, and besides a few materials strewn around the corners, there was nothing.

There were no sounds.

All I could hear were the sounds of crows crowing in the distance, apparently from the top of the Sky Tree.

There had not yet been glass erected between the pillars, which encircled the floor.

A gust of wind blew through the gap, bringing with it a scent of...cinnamon.

"...Aren't you good, Watson."

I spoke to my opponent.

Of whom I could neither see hide nor hair.

He's here. He's close.

"I've understood why you were undermining me at Butei High. You predicted that after snatching Aria, you would eventually face up against me...just like this."

I spoke to the enveloping darkness, slipping Python onto my right hand.

—In the end, the left hand part wasn't made in time.

If I use Slash, I'll have to sacrifice my left fingers. There'll be nothing left for me after that. No matter how disadvantageous the situation, I can't use it more than once.

In other words, I've been limited in my uses of this new, useful technique.

Rather, it'd be fine to say that I've been completely blocked.

"Up till now, I've been working together with my companions in order to overcome. I wouldn't have been able to make it through the battle with I-U without the teamwork with my allies. You focused on that...isolating me was your first step. You've been doing rather dirty things just for me, haven't you?"

I didn't even have Mutou's support.

I was 15 minutes slower than Watson in reaching this place.

Anybody could do mostly anything with 15 minutes.

Hide Aria, slip himself into the shadows, and wait for me to show an opening.

Because I was forced to come by bike, the muscles in my legs were aching. In addition, I hadn't been eating well, so I was feeling lightheaded.

He forced me to start this battle from a rather disadvantageous standpoint.

"Get out here. Or do you plan to hide there like a little thief?"

I felt the air around me grow tense.

Like I thought, Watson seems to be the type who gets riled up easily. It seems that he's met my challenge.

"...What have you come here for?"

His voice rang out from the darkness to the front and left of me.

He finally spoke.

"...Do you need to ask?"

I cocked my Beretta, replacing any answer I might have had with the noise it made.

Fixing my eyes on the darkness, from whence the sound originated...I saw him.

He was on the opposite side of the circular observation deck. Behind the materials, a vague shadow, shaped like a human, moved.

20 meters away.

"I've come to steal Aria back."

"I won't give her to you, Tohyama. If you leave now...I won't kill you."

"Can't do that either, can I? I'm the leader of Team Baskerville. If a team member's taken out, it reflects badly on the leaders record...What did you do with Aria?"

"I put her to sleep with drugs."

"Is it really fine for you do that to your fiance?"

"Fiance? Ah. That's just for show, like playing pretend."

"Playing? I see..."

He tricked Aria.

I felt Berserk's malevolent blood flow grow one stage stronger.

"—Aria's too much of an idiot to be my official partner. She needs instruction."

"Well, if that's the case, I'll give you some instruction. Butei High style."

...From the heavens far above us, distant thunder rumbled.

It was as if it was matching my Berserk feelings.

"Tohyama."

"What."

"I'll say this now—In the UK, Butei are allowed to kill in self-defense. In addition, as I am a Butei of the royal court, I hold extraterritoriality. In short, even if I kill you here in Japan, I will not be taken in for any crime."

I see, I see...

...Well, there are people like that in Japan. Government workers with a license to kill.

My father was one. It seems that he never killed anyone in his lifetime, though.

"That's a rather cheap threat, Watson. Pretty suitable for a person who's all talk."

"I'll take those words as an acceptance to my challenge."

"Take it if you like."

I spat those words out.

As I finished speaking, I could hear a small hiss coming from where Watson was standing.

(—He's a doper.)

That was the sound of a needle-less injector.

If he's using it here, then it's most likely 'Nebula'. A stimulant for the central nervous system.

It's forbidden in Japan, but it's a combat drug used in Assault that temporarily heightens your concentration and gives you the ability to see in the dark.

From experience, dopers are...strong. They become resistant against terror and pain.

"I'll tell you something nice."

Apparently to buy time for the drug to take effect, Watson spoke out.

"The reason I'm distancing Aria from you is to protect her."

"Protect...?"

"If she remains with 'Deen', she will definitely be killed."

Is he talking about Far East Warfare?

"Currently, five parts of the Golden Shell that protects Aria belong to 'Grenada', and two belong to 'Deen'. She is already exposed. To ensure her safety, I must first take her from the leader of Baskerville — you. You have misjudged the situation. No matter how one thinks about it, Aria should be affiliated with 'Grenada'...No. She must be."

"Vein-san. During the Bandere, Liberty Mason's representative said that you would remain 'Neutral'."

"Having looked at the situation, I have recommended that we ally ourselves with 'Grenada'. It is currently being discussed at our headquarters, the Grand Lodge. We will most likely reach a conclusion next week."

"In that case, you're giving me the chance to strike a blow against the enemy pretty early."

Saying that, I started to close the distance between us.

If we talk much longer than this, he'll have the advantage with 'Nebula'.

I'm aiming for an early conclusion.

Watson's voice, half a laugh, sounded back at me as I approached him.

"Do you think you can win? Overconfident Butei die young."

"That's can't be true. You're alive, after all."

...My footsteps echoed through the empty observatory...

Watson's figure became clearer.

He was wearing a completely black bullet/bladeproof vest that blended into the darkness and his feet were clad in combat boots that seemed to be inlaid with steel. His back was protected by a cloak-like bulletproof coat...he's fully armored.

On the other hand, all I'm wearing is Butei High's bulletproof uniform and I only have one of Python's hands.

However, my Berserk self abandoned all thought of analyzing our respective battle strengths.

No matter how disadvantageous the situation, I will bring him down. That's all there is to it.

"What's wrong? I'm in range."

I spoke those words softly as I stepped into gunfire distance.

Click

Watson had bought just enough time in order for the drug to run its course and he sprinted this way, his footsteps barely audible.

(...He's fast.)

Keeping his body low, Watson made his approach. He drew the bent blade of a kukri knife — doing this too, nearly noiselessly. The knife was also designed for nighttime use, its blade having been dyed black.

Right in front of me, Watson suddenly changed his course in the manner of a '>' character, swinging his blade like he was flicking it past me.

His aim was my right wrist. Looking at the trajectory, he wanted to cut my gun away along with my hand.

"...!"

I withdrew my finger from the Beretta's trigger, brushing aside the tip of the blade with my outstretched index finger.

Python's carbonized tungsten cobalt alloy raised a shower of sparks, forcing the knife to slip by.

I had withdrawn my finger in the spur of the moment, but now I see. Python can also be used in this manner.

Also, I had found something out in that clash. Watson's sharp and his aim is precise, but...

He doesn't have much strength.

Having noticed this, I drew my butterfly knife into my left hand.

"I should be the one saying that it's fine to run, Watson!"

The screeching sound of metal pierced the air as I crashed my blade's other edge — the sword breaker — into his knife.

And with that...I twisted his kukri's blade, bending the knife with brute force.

"...I too am currently a student of Tokyo Butei High. Running from the enemy is against school rules, is it not?"

Watson threw away the remains of his knife and flipped backwards, launching himself on one foot, his coat flying.

In the midst of his back-flip, the lightning that flashed in the distance faintly and somehow, in a beautiful manner, outlined his figure.

Just before he hit the ground, from out of his black sleeve, Watson pulled out a SIG SAUER P226R, a gun with the characteristics of a sleeve-gun, and immediately opened fire with it.

Around one to two meters in front of me, all his bullets scattered everywhere.

— Billiard Shot —

And that's not all. In the state of Berserk I was currently in, I pulled off something else.

I had mixed in one more shot that looked like it would miss.

"Ahhhhhh!"

Watson was shot in the back by my bullet, which had ricocheted off the pillar behind him.

L-Shot.

I borrowed the technique that Reki used while executing her manhunt on me...ricocheting a bullet off something to hit the enemy.

Thinking to follow up, I aimed my Beretta, but...

Watson fell forward and lay unmoving on the floor.

...Hey.

Falling down from one hit? He's not good with getting hit, huh...

"...Stand."

My enraged blood in the Berserk state pulsed.

And it had me shoot the floor directly next to Watson.

However, Watson moved not an inch.

Well...even if you're shot while wearing a vest, getting hit in the lungs means that you won't be able to breathe for a while.

"..."

He still...didn't move.

Did I hit his sweet spot?

Rather, if he dies because of me I'll be executed. Because of Butei's Treble-Punishment.

"Hey."

I approached him and grabbed him by the collar of his coat, just like a cat, and lifted him up.

"...Uuu..."

Watson groaned. Judging from his expression, he had fainted...

W-What's with this guy?

Um...I really don't want to admit this, but...Uh...well, it's the truth, so there's nothing else to do. I'll admit it.

He had a cute face despite being a boy. That's really weird.

Even though I was in Berserk, I was still weak against feminine things. Because of this, I faltered for a second, when...

Watson's eyes with their pointed eyelashes suddenly flicked open.

And he took a sharp breath with his deep red lips.

(....Uu!)

A sharp pain danced through my left eye.

Panicking, I pushed Watson back, feeling my eyelid.

(A needle...!?)

He had it between his teeth. I was tricked...

...Drawing out the needle pierced through my eyelid, I saw that there was a fine opening at the tip of the needle, which was approximately one centimeter in length. A poison reservoir. My junior in Lezzad, Fuuma, had a similarly hollow needle made out of bamboo.

My eyeball hadn't been hit, but as for the area between my eyelids to my temple...it had started to numb.

Playing dead and then using poison. As one might expect from Vein-san. His methods are dirty.

At that moment, Watson, who had disappeared to my left side — my blind spot — as I was pressing on my eye...

Thundered two kicks directly into my stomach and face with his steel-inlaid combat boots.

"—I'll acknowledge this, Tohyama. You're talented. Deflecting bullets with bullets, even using ricochets...It's not that I don't understand how Aria could get so caught up with you."

Watson had once again opened up some distance between us. Pointing his SIG into the air, he swayed from left to right, as if to mock me.

I put my knife away, drawing my DE in order to bluff and buy some time.

But even so, I had to draw back.

As if it weren't enough that my eyes were like this, he had scored direct hits to my liver and jaw. I was in agony.

He had accurately hit the human body's weak points.

I'll be lightheaded for a while, so if I don't rest until I recover, I won't be able to fight.

"You would even be able to fight evenly with a top agent from Liberty Mason. However, it's a shame. I am one step further than that, the elite of the elite."

He's still chattering on. Trying to buy time, isn't he.

Time for the Nebula in his body and the poison in mine to run their respective courses.

With every second, he gains the advantage and I become disadvantaged.

"There wasn't much information about you, so it was expensive, but it's just like the data said. You seem to be a problem child of Butei High, but in terms of combat ability, especially close combat, you have talent far beyond the rest. I agree with what was written, that depending on the training, you would be able to reach an expertise the likes of Kana."

...Strangely, he had gathered some information about me.

"You probably won't know about it since it's not an official statistics. On the SDA ranking, you're......Is it called Superhumans ranking in Japan? You're in the Top 100."

Who, made this boring ranking......

Flurries, get back to the outer ring. I'm outrightly an E-class in Butei High.

"…...So, is it working soon, Tohyama? It's already working for me here. The Watsons are doctors for many generations. Gaining advantage in combat by utilizing drugs--that's what we specialize in. Hehe."

Adjusting his P226R......Watson walked towards me while laughing mockingly.

I turned my nose up......adjusting my breathing......I'm out of ideas.

Even if I can't see well with my left eye, I still have to fight.

"Let's settle our battle with Aru-Kata. This battle--is for Aria!"

Watson closed the distance with a flip.

--*clank**clank*--

1.5 seconds before standing in front of me, metallic sounds came from different parts of his body.

Six penknife-like curved blades from his elbow, knee and boots.

(--Full body weapons--)

This is somehow similar to the equipment of a senpai who is training at the British Army Special Force.

Seems like it's going to be a harsh battle. Including his gun, I'm going against 7 weapons.

With only half an eye.

*smack*!

*smack**smack*!

Watson's gun and mine are like blades dancing closely.

He keeps moving at my left which is my blind spot.

With these movements, he stopped me from pulling the trigger, overwhelming me by twisting my arm with his joints.

It's as if he's fighting under normal lighting condition, he can still see the details even if he's in the dark, with "Nebula".

My remaining bullets--are decreasing.

Firing the last shot, while intending to reload instantly and reaching to the back of my uniform......

…...Hmm?

"Are you looking for this?"

Beretta--My magazine! Watson tossed it up into the air.

(He stole it during the melee!)

With my berserker's reflex arc, I prepared to tackle it--

*bang*!*clank*!

Watson hit the magazine with his P226R, out of the tower.

The Beretta can't be used anymore.

Then, DE--!

*ding*!

Aiming that bastard's chest, the DE that created a loud noise--missed him.

Watson dodged it by bending his body backwards with abnormal flexibility.

Watson activated his armaments again when he leaped, stabbing towards my right eye with his elbow's curved blade using some kind of Muay Thai technique. I dodged it by backstepping, a few hairs dropped in front of my right eye.

Dangerous. Next he aimed a kick between my thighs, I dodged it again by backstepping.

The blades came at me numerous times, I dodged as usual--

As the magazine size of DE is only 8, the bullets will run out very soon. But the DE's magazine--is lost. It seems that it's also stolen from me.

Too sly.

Out of bullets.

In order to swap to my knife, I retreated a few steps--

(Ugh......)

Without noticing, I'd approached the edge of the observatory.

It seems that Watson had cleverly backed me against the edge while fighting.

Retreating further is impossible; behind me lay a drop of 350 meters.

Thinking this, I reached for, and gave up on, my seax.

It's gone.

I can tell just from the feeling of weight on my back. I'd been too focused on his attacks; this realization comes too late. After stealing it, Watson has either stealthily held onto it or thrown it away.

My butterfly knife is gone as well. He really went overboard with the stealing.

--Is this the drawback to Hysteria Berserk?

*Bang*! A P226R bullet flashed as it hit below the foot of the now weaponless me.

"......Hmm!"

At the edge of the observatory, I slid and fell.

My waist, chest, and chin hit the concrete in succession......my hands barely gripping the edge, my body suspended in the air.

(Don't look down! Immediately use the cable......)

I used my right hand to adjust my belt......Da, damn, even that isn't here.

He only cut off the buckle!

I tried to find footing, but it's as if something is smeared onto it, it's really slippery.

I can't go up.

If I let go, the only thing I'll be seeing is.....the depths of Hell......

Watson approached me, still suspended in the air, and kicked away my right hand which had been gripping the edge.

Twice, three times I put my right hand back, but--

Watson chuckled as he kicked my hand free once more, seemingly enjoying it.

"I'll teach you something. As it stands, your mind is filled with nothing but the thought of attacking me. It's far too easy to see through."

I gave up on my right hand, aiming instead to leverage my Hysteria Berserk to leap over with a single hand.

But those black combat boots......calmly tread on my left hand.

"Nonetheless, your performance has been rather outstanding. I'm left with my last bullet because of you. What I did with your magazine just now, I suppose it's a pity that the 9mm bullets are hit out of the tower."

The force on my left hand is getting stronger.

Aria08 271.jpg

Getting stepped on by steel boots, the fingers on my left hand feel like they will break.

"...nn!"

The pain shot up my entire left arm. My right shoulder drooped, the edge now out of reach for my right hand.

Endure......I have to endure! If my left hand slackens, it'll cause me to fall straight towards the ground.

But, under these conditions......How do I climb up?

"I'll lighten your burden, Tohyama. You don't have to worry about Aria's future anymore. I'll make Aria happy."

--Aria.

That moment when I heard her name--

In front of my eyes, it's as if everything is playing in slow motion.

Watson raised one of his legs, readying a kick at my left hand--

"......Hmm!"

In my mind--

Every muscle in my body moved with blinding speed--Ouka.

(--!)

The only place in contact with the Sky Tree is my left hand now.

But, left wrist, left elbow, left shoulder, right shoulder, right elbow, right wrist--With these acceleration points, it'll work. If this were Normal Hysteria mode, it might not be doable--

Me in Hysteria Berserk, is all because of you, I've been driven to this extent by you.

If I can use 1.7 times my normal strength--Then just let me solve this minor problem--

(--Just let me do this one small thing!)

The moment when Watson's kick is going to connect with my hand-

"--!"

From my left arm to my right.

Both my arms accelerate with the sudden burst of strength from Hysteria Berserk--

My right hand is like a claw--moving with subsonic speed.

At the same time--

--*boom*!

Watson's heel descends on my left hand, which immediately falls loose.

In the air for just an instant, I closed my eyes in agony--and did not fall.

(......Nice job, Berserk......)

I looked up gingerly......

My current position lies below the observatory's edge--my Orochi-equipped right hand is pierced into the steel wall, with me still hanging in the air.

I dug my fingers yet deeper into their holes, which are somehow similar to those on bowling balls.

It's worthy of rejoicing.

Now that's the 1.7 times of normal strength of Hysteria Berserk mode.

Piercing a steel plate with just two fingers, even I find it unbelievable. I have to thank you, Berserker.

"......"

Watson, wanting to enjoy the sight of my falling figure, lowered his head to look--

As his obsidian eyes grew large, I ferociously grabbed his hair with my left hand.

Even though my left hand is numb from pain, but--

It'll still grab him.

"I also......have something to teach you! You are too overconfident. This leaves you full of openings!"

"It hurts! Stop! Let go of my hair!"

Like I care! It's life and death for me here.

My left hand not losing hold of his wildly struggling body, I used both of my hands to climb up.

It's all thanks to Watson who bent over to avoid falling with me, that I'm able to have a firm grasp.

"Hoo......hoo......You bastard! You nearly died!"

I, who had just climbed up, grappled with Watson--

*rumble**rumble*......The observatory has become a wrestling ring for kids.

Rolling, we hit one another in the face and abdomen.

"Oof!"

Watson kicked me in the chest, starting by opening some distance between us......

He flipped single-handedly to the edge of the observatory where I was standing just previously--creating the distance for a gunfight.

"*Pant*,*pant*,*pant*…..."

I stood once more--

Seeing Watson crying while raising his P226R at me, I couldn't help but frown.

"Tohyama......Yo, you......to a noble, and one who isn't married yet......Ah, no--You grabbed my hair, and hit me in the face......! You, I will not forgive you for insulting me in this way......!"

--It's just one thing after another.

Watson had been rather collected until now, but for some reason our wrestling just now had infuriated him.

I nearly had a hole bored into my forehead.

Now what......Kinji.

I'm already bare-handed.

--Escape? It's possible to do so with this distance.

No matter how you look at it, I should be escaping under these circumstances.

Escape first, then alter the situation......

(--No, I can't do that.....How could I escape!)

Oi, Berserk me.

Although I'm really thankful for just now--but it's still best if that kind of masculinity doesn't show itself.

You're wrong here.

But--

As expected, I can't do it.

I still can't do it.

If I were to withdraw now, that bastard may do something to Aria.

Although I can't express it, but--she'll be taken away. Just this, I understand quite clearly.

That's why--

"How can I......let you take Aria!"

Although it's obviously wrong from a tactical point of view--But I will not withdraw.

Thinking thoroughly, I have always been avoiding.

Watson's and Aria's relationship......

That's why today--

I will not flee.

......I will not retreat a single step!

Combining Berserk's compulsion and my determination--I stared into Watson's gun barrel.

What he's aiming at, is my defenseless head.

This is just like before.

However, things right now are worse.

Slash, Billiard Shot, Bite, Bullet Dodge--none of these can be used.

I'm weaponless. If I faint from using teeth, I'll be finished by his blade. Even self-destructivelly altering the flight path of the bullet with my hand; my left hand is injured from being stepped on, so I can't do this.

And yet--

It exists. A way to break through definitely exists.

As long as I don't speak those words forbidden by Aria--"I can't do it".

Right, that way......it's this!

"Please aim properly, Watson."

I said--

May. I remembered the fight in the underground warehouse. That was the first time, when I used the prototype of this move.

--It's coming.

This feat of Hysteria Berserk, I'll be doing it twice tonight.

"No need to remind me. At this distance, I definitely will not miss!"

Surrounded by spiraling columns, the Tokyo Sky Tree--

That is, Sky Tree, a real tree.

Trees blossom.

--Ouka. Unfortunately, the other name of the prototype of this move, is this.

"--Spiraling--"

I spoke the name of the new move.

My left leg strode forward, and my right leg stretched backwards for balance.

Enveloping my left shoulder with my right arm, an awkward posture--

Wrapping myself with my arm.

I twisted my waist and my back to the utmost left.

--Twisting my whole body to a large extent.

This move requires adjusting my posture......in order to be the "reserve" of a certain seed.

What's scary about this is--

Although my head is facing slightly leftwards......my neck faces rightwards, with my right eye which can still see Watson staring directly at him.

I used my elbow to cover my mouth, my line of sight unperturbed.

I will not look away from the gun barrel.

"You're......trying to bluff me. That's outright sorrowful, Tohyama. I would never have thought that you'd want to die in such a deceitful stance."

This move--

I'd lose my life if late 0.001 seconds, or off by 0.001 millimeters.

My concentration has to be highly focused. Increased to the max.

"--Amen--"

With a prayer, the gun flashed--

The bullet flew at the middle of my forehead.

"--!"

I took a pose similar to Shirayuki’s quick blade draw “Scarlet Hotogi God”—

Twisted to the limit, I unleashed every ounce into the “reserve”.

It’s different from the linear “Ouka”, but the rotary force exhibits similar speed—

The precise instant before the bullet is going to hit me.

My right arm started to wave from left to right.

The speed is——slightly slower than the speed of sound. This will suffice. It's not worth it if I hurt my arm breaking the speed barrier.

The “Single Hand Edge Catching” that I used against Jeanne D’arc in the underground warehouse, with its horizontal sweep—

*snap*!

With my forefinger and middle finger equipped with “Orochi”, it’s possible for me to catch the bullet in 0.1 seconds.

But of course, humans aren’t able to block a bullet with their hand.

It’ll still fly between the fingers.

But with rotational force, as with “Slash”, the bullet's flight path will be disturbed—

“--!”

*bang*!

A spark exploded on the column behind me.

I waved the back of my right arm as if I’m brandishing a whip, my pose looks like I’m sending the bullet away......

I took a deep breath.

--“Spiraling”—

A single-handed “Slash”.

I can’t help but feel chills up my back after executing this move.

This move can be regarded as a nightmare. I really don’t want to use it a second time.

Allowing a bullet to pass within just a few millimeters of my right eye.

If I wasn’t a Berserker, a move that requires such fantastical courage......Who’d use such a thing in battle.

“......Now, both of us are out of bullets. What’re you going to do now? Still want to continue?”

I turned my head and stared at Watson, who’s standing at the edge of the observatory, and inquired.

“......Hmm?”

He may have done some investigation on me beforehand, but he’s seen a couple of new moves. As we made eye contact, he looked as if a child being stared at by a giant—

He pulled back.

“Hey......! St, stupid! You’re going to fall!”

Out of bullets, and being stared by me who may have more tricks up my sleeve, Watson went into a panic, losing grip of even where he was standing.

“—Ah!”

One of Watson’s feet trod out over the open air, seemingly about to fall; as his bulletproof uniform flashed—

I took a head-slide pose (a baseball pose) and leapt towards the falling Watson.

“……!”

I leapt without thought for my own well-being, hugging tightly Watson’s ribs.

I might have bumped my forehead, but——it’s a successful catch.

“……!”

From a distance close enough that our noses could touch, Watson, who I'm holding—

Though pale-faced but a moment ago, turns suddenly red.

“What......are you blushing for!”

I slowly dragged Watson up.

“Wh......why save me!”

“—You’re asking this?”

Facing Watson who’s still trying to act strong under such conditions, I couldn’t help but smile wryly.

Watson who saw me with such an expression——Again he……

Revealed a puzzled expression.

Just stop! Indeed, you may be considered the bishounen type……but for a man to reveal such an expression……

Man……huh?

Hey, hey……

To a certain extent one may say that I raised Watson up, to first allow him to sit on the edge of the observatory......I turned his body around, now it looks like I’m hugging him from behind……

I'd completely grabbed his chest without realizing it……both of my hands gradually felt……this……this feeling is……

“……!”

Hey, there's no way……?

“……!”

Watson who managed to get up can’t seem to stand, possibly due to the scare just now……The way he sits is like a mermaid princess, holding up only his upper body.

Also, he’s looking at me with “deceitful, deceitful, deceitful” look.

At the same time, he’s hugging his chest as if to hide something.