Queen's Gate:Volume 1 Chapter 1

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Chapter 1: Irukinuf’s Songstress[edit]

“Ah~, so disappointing.”

Alice was inside the limousine that would take her to her school, St. Label’s Academy. She took a look at the results of Hatter’s investigation on the golden boat, conducted while she was sleeping, then rested her body on the seatbelt and hung her head.

“Still, “Profeshor”, wasn’t your intuition proven true~, pyon?”[1]

The woman in a bunny-girl costume driving the limousine spoke in a soothing tone like a comedian, while swinging her rabbit ears. She was one of the members of the Dodgson Foundation in charge of operating machinery, an artificial life form with the codename: “March Hare.”

“Intuition is important, pyon. We “hocumuluns”, March Hare included, don’t have anything like that, pyon.”

Though her tone was rather thoughtless, one could feel she was worried about Alice. In these situations, she preferred having March Hare around to Hatter.

“It’s just, it makes no sense for this to have been crafted out of pure gold.”

A display was equipped in front of the rear seat of the limousine Alice sat on. It was projecting the image of the golden boat they had obtained from the submarine pyramid last night. According to the data displayed next to the image, the analysis of the golden boat revealed that it was a lump of pure gold. Even though it might be worth some amount if one considered the historical value too, when compared to the full cost of this search expedition, it didn’t nearly cover the expenses.

“Good grief, a waste of energy at best.”[2]

Alice’s lips turned sour.

“If we had only obtained even one new technology, we’d have made a killing.”

For Treasure Hunters, these original golden series of artifacts had a special meaning. Namely, they held within them data of internal structures and designs. In other words, the golden jet was an elaborate real miniature that utilized flight technology unknown to humans yet, and the same went for the golden bulldozer. As a result, they had been able to discover many technologies involving the powertrain from the golden bulldozer; the huge airship Vimana Alice was using also employed plenty of technology obtained from the golden jet.

By restoring Lost Technology in the present era, the Dodgson Foundation had successfully monopolized unprecedented super-technology like no other. This time, she had been counting on obtaining some innovating technology not only about movement on and under water, but about water pressure and decompression sickness as well from the golden boat, so it was quite a big shock, too.

“With this, I think we might not be able to use the Foundation’s heavy equipment for a while, pyon.”

“Hahn~~~~~”

Alice gave a sigh with all her might. Most of the top front end equipment she used as a Treasure Hunter was managed and administrated by her family at the Dodgson Foundation. According to the instructions that Lewis, Alice’s mother and administrator of the Foundation, had left behind after going missing, not even her biological daughter Alice was allowed to use the Foundation’s equipment at will.

“Well, nothing we can do about it. Let’s put up with the tedious daily routine for the time being. Farewell for now, days of fun adventures!”

Alice resigned herself, fully theatrical, and looked outside the window. A girl in a light brown cape and a white skirt was walking by[3]. Those were the same clothes Alice was wearing. That was conventionally called a school uniform.

Though wearing a short uniform skirt was popular these days, when it came to girls’ skirt length, the one which attracted the most attention after all was this one they wore, that could already be called “micromini”. The students and connoisseurs made fun of the “St. Label’s Academy” name, parodying and calling it “Navels Academy”.[4]

Though they couldn’t clearly tell when it had happened, this was considered normal by now, and it had a very high male support. According to one theory, the Headmaster had shortened the skirt length to make the students behave properly, by using their own shame. Certainly, in order to prevent anyone else from seeing their underwear with that skirt length, they had to walk carefully so that their skirt wouldn’t wave, and they had to close their thighs properly when they sat down on a chair. Forcibly being obedient meant they couldn’t help but to mind their manners too.

That said, even if she leant over a bit, her round ass cheeks showed too, that was troubling as well...

“I always think, the skirt’s length is the only thing I can do nothing about.”

“Profeshor’s combat uniform shows even more underwear, pyon.”

“That’s fine, because it’s a symbol of the extraordinary! And I’m not ashamed even if my underwear is showing, either!”

Along with the special black protective suit Alice called her battle suit, she wore white underwear that had nanomicron units woven into it with the necessary functions for living body preservation.

They absolutely aren't just panties!

As she argued with March Hare, she delicately adjusted her skirt’s waist.

“Well, etiquette aside, this length is troubling for the day-to-day.”

Alice left for St. Label’s Academy like a schoolgirl. If one considered her age, this wouldn’t be odd, but she had already graduated from the university at an accelerated class, and had obtained a PhD. She taught as a Professor as often as twice a week, and could easily become a University teacher.

Despite that, she was just a schoolgirl here, due to the troublesome family precepts her mother had left her.

“Those who don’t know the day-to-day, and don’t enjoy it, have no right to taste the extraordinary.”

Because of her mother Lewis’ words, Alice had to carry on living an everyday life appropriate for her age. Though student life was extremely boring for Alice by now, if she didn’t fulfill the family precepts, she wouldn’t be allowed to use the equipment, facilities and all the various machinery owned by the Foundation. That’s why, she reluctantly chose the somewhat mediocre St. Label’s Academy where daughters of millionaires attended, since it was the one closest to her house.

The limousine stopped stylishly in front of the school gate.

“Profeshor, here we are, pyon. Ten minutes before “rome-hoom” starts, truly bus-like timing, pyon.”[5]

Moving her bunny ears with a blip blop, March Hare informed her of their arrival.

“Sii~~~igh...”

The door opened automatically, and Alice got out, lazy all over.

“I’ll pick you up at the usual time, pyon. Contact me if there’s any change, pyon.”

“Yeah, yeah. Drive safely back home, now.”

March Hare responded to Alice’s words by swinging her ears. With a calm sound, the jet black limousine slowly left the school gate.

“Well now...”

Just as Alice turned her gaze to the school, the sound of a great displacement engine roared up, and the huge frame ran off with a daring accelerator turn.

“That foolish bunny, right after I told her to drive safe, too.”

Murmuring so that the nearby students wouldn’t hear her, Alice tightly clenched her fist, intending to go over this with her later.

“Oh my, Miss Bunny is as hasty as ever.”

A voice called out to Alice.

“At this rate, she’ll take you to Wonderland, Allie.”

“Since she’s March Hare, she’ll take you to the tea party.”

The voice continued with an “Uhihi” laughter. That was a voice she knew so well. Since, as she recalled, she had left her behind at the submarine pyramid off the Panama coast barely ten hours ago.

“Dorothy. You punctually came to school. Well done, well done.”

Guessing the voice’s owner without even looking back, Alice began to walk with a bored look.

“(Angry) When you greet someone, you have to properly look them in the face.”[6]

The owner of the voice, Dorothy, trotted up till she reached Alice.

“Good grief.”

Alice faced Dorothy with a sharp turn good enough for a dancer, and looked at her from toe to hair. She had soft, delicate features without a scratch in them, reminiscent of a French doll, and her uniform fit her like a glove, not even one extra wrinkle in it. Her skirt’s pleats never waved at all; if it was her, even the skirt’s extreme length was something that just made her all the lovelier.

“Well aren’t you flawless?”

“Yeah, I am flawless. Though, if I had the golden boat you took from me, Allie, I’d be just perfect.”

“Ah-, about that.”

Alice muttered in a tired tone, turning towards the school building’s entrance.

“It was a fake.”

“Eh?”

“I’ll give you more details after school, in the Literature Club.”


***


Just like any school that had a place where books were stored for education, St. Label’s Academy also had a library. But, since the collection’s scale was far superior in the case of this school, it was called the Book Building.

Four floors above ground, with a two-store basement. Great floors with bookshelves taller than an ordinary person had been filled with tightly packed, lined up books from the east and west, old and young. This had been due to the skill of the librarian that had been newly appointed there a few years ago; with the current book collection of the remodeled Book Building, it had swollen to a scope where they took the lead among domestic libraries.

In a corner of the Book Building, a rare handwritten plate had been hanged under the librarian booth’s signboard: “Literature Club.” That was the name of the club based on the Book Building, that had many club activities. Matching the scale of the Book Building’s collection of books, there were no less than two rooms with librarian booths on each floor, for a total of 20 rooms. Since the number of clubrooms was higher than the number of librarians, one of the available rooms had been set aside as the room for the literature club.

After school, at the librarian’s booth there were several men and women who belonged to the literature club.

“So: after we ran some analysis, it’s just an ornament of ordinary gold.”

Alice told Dorothy, sitting opposite her. Spreading two notebooks on the table, she used both her hands deftly, and recorded memos with different contents in each one. Perfecting moving her left and right hands independently, that also was training for using at will her tricky pistols with daggers, the black Angra Mainyu and the silver Aeshma.

“Hm~ph, so you Allie too?”

“ “Too”?”

Twitch, Alice’s ears perked up hearing Dorothy’s words.

“Yes. See, there was the crystal cube I obtained last time.”

“Ah, that time where our Hatter unusually fell behind.”

A crystal cube had been discovered in the Arctic Ocean’s ice. As there had been rumors about a supposed legacy concerning the secrets of life, a battle had unfolded on the Arctic’s sea ice approximately two months ago.

“That was fake too.”

“Eh?”

“Yeah, it was fake. When we analyzed its components, it turned out to be ordinary crystal.”

Given the age of the layer of ice it had been buried into, even by just processing the crystal once, so much should have been discovered about the change in the earth’s crust that it’d overturn the current theories.

“According to the “folklore”, the cube’s surface should have been engraved with data indicating how life sprang forth. But, we didn’t find any pattern like that there, even after scanning it with an electron microscope, though.“

Hearing Dorothy coming out with it, Alice noticed a few points in common. As she continued writing on both notebooks at the same time, Alice decided she’d drop Dorothy a hint. She’d come to realize them too.

“Say, Dorothy.”

“Wha~at~?”

“I wonder if there are any common features between that crystal cube and the golden boat.”

“Both are fake.”

Her reply came in a flash. It probably clocked under 0.5 seconds.

“Think a little more before answering immediately, you mudhead!”

" "Mudhead"! "Mudhead"? That’s not a nice thing to say!"

“When I asked about a common feature, I didn’t mean that particularly. Think well~~~!”

“Mm~~~”

Dorothy pursed her lips in a frown, and closed her eyes. She was by no means unintelligent. She was a little insecure about her memory and her calculating ability, was all. The same went for her prowess as a Treasure Hunter, one could say she was almost neck and neck with Alice. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have been able to keep being her rival up to that point.

“Dorothy?”

There was no answer.

Alice released her pen and turned to Dorothy. Dorothy was...

“Zzz-“

She had fallen asleep. Alice silently picked up her eraser, and shot it in retaliation.

Thwack! The eraser hit right in the middle of Dorothy’s forehead.

"Byaih!?"

With a short scream, Dorothy lost her balance and tipped over her chair.

Everybody turned their heads when they heard the sudden sound. But, when they saw that Dorothy had fallen down, they all went like “What, the usual”, lost interest and went back to their own work.

The good thing about that school’s Literature Club was that their individualism was thorough. Except when someone made the news as they worked on the bimonthly club journal, provided it was about a subject that tickled their intellectual curiosity, none of the members were interested in the others. In fact, even though Alice and Dorothy usually talked openly about the OOPArts they had obtained, there was no actual harm. Since they were debating lively as part of the Literature Club, one could only think they were creating some new story.

If this had been a sports-related club, it wouldn’t have worked this way. As clubs were based on people working together, actions that disturbed the discipline weren’t allowed. So, when they got fired up talking about things like OOPArts, regarded as fringe topics, they got singled out as weirdos, as was the logical outcome.

Besides, Alice wasn’t confident at being able to hide her outstanding physical ability, and in Dorothy’s case, she’d probably try and stand out without giving it a second thought. There were too many inconveniences for Alice to stealthily act as a Treasure Hunter. First of all, Alice didn't have any hobbies like meeting with everyone at sports to praise each other's effort, or devoting herself to her studies with the aim of getting full marks.

Use your own abilities for yourself. That was her creed.

“Uugh, you’re mean, Allie.”

Holding both her forehead and the back of her head, Dorothy dizzily stood up.

“You woke up yet?”

“I wasn’t doing anything like sleeping. I just closed my eyes a little to think.”

“Say that nonsense after you wipe the drool off your mouth.”

“Uhih?!”

Dorothy took out a handkerchief from her chest pocket, and fixed her mouth in a hurry.

“H-Hey... There’s the case of Edgar Cayce too, you can come up with great answers while sleeping!”[7]

Dorothy rebutted, moving her arms noisily.

“So you admit you were sleeping.”

“Ugyuh!?”

“If you could predict things at the same level as Edgar Cayce in your naps, this world wouldn’t need informers.”

Edgar Cayce used an ability called Reading, contacted the cosmic awareness called “Akashic Records”[8] while under a state of hypnosis, and left behind many prophecies. Among the connoisseurs, he was said to be one of the world’s three Major Prophets; though for Alice, who hated predictions, that was only a story with low credibility.

“But, but, I did notice one thing properly~.”

“Ooh?”

Alice narrowed her eyes, waiting for Dorothy’s words.

“The common point is that both have materials with similar qualities to the real thing, is that what you meant?”

Alice smiled when she heard Dorothy’s answer.

“You pass. And, there’s one more point in common.”

“One more?”

“Well, if I let you ponder about it, Dorothy, I don’t think you’ll come up with an answer before the end-of-term tests, so I’ll say it myself.”

Alice began explaining while drawing a picture in a corner of her notebook.

“For example, suppose that there are two pictures here.”

“Hm-hm.”

“One piece is the genuine article. The other’s fake. Even if both pictures are similar, there’s a world of difference in their values.”

Even Dorothy could manage to stay with her so far.

“The problem comes now. See, if both the genuine article and the fake are something old like the cave paintings of Tassili-n-Ajjer in the Sahara, wouldn’t the fake be worthy enough?”

“If it was the first fake of humankind, it’d be a breakthrough.”

“Well, what is known in the world as OOPArts currently, is as their very name implies: “Out of Place Artifacts”. That is, devices considered impossible to have been crafted with the techniques of the time they’re certified to have been produced. This is why they’re considered so strange and valued so high. But, the likes of pieces of gear or crystal crafts, those are just ornaments, in short. What a Treasure Hunter like me is looking for, on the other hand, are the OOPArts we call “original,” that contain super technology that surpasses even modern civilization.”

Both of Alice’s guns, and the huge airship Vimana too, were products of Lost Technology obtained from OOPArts.

“So far, after seeing many “ornamental” OOPArts, I’ve been wondering if “original” ones actually existed from the start. But, since there are actually “original” ones among them, what if someone had secretly substituted them for fakes long ago?”

“I see. If someone had substituted them for fakes an absurdly long time ago, they’d get a proper treatment as OOPArts even if they’re fakes.”

“It’s as you say. So, the important thing here is to infer the period when they were secretly substituted, from the circumstances surrounding their discovery.”

In fact, the Dodgson Foundation also owned several OOPArts that were secretly substituted for fakes with similar materials than the genuine articles. Of those, the first kind are more than a hundred thousand years old, to distinguish them from the second kind of OOPArts, more recent. There was a common feature among the first class too: though it was usually said their age was around a hundred thousand years, their range extended to tens of millions of years. Whenever they were found with no signs of having been excavated, it was safe to assume they had gotten buried naturally in there sometime around the previous range of years.

There was still a problem. Namely, there existed evidence of OOPArts having been excavated. Whether they were relics from tens of millions of years old, there were traces of excavations from a hundred thousand years old, or as old as twelve thousand years ago, even those traces were interesting for the archeologists. When investigated decades ago, it also clearly settled that those OOPArts there were fakes; maybe the "originals" had been secretly replaced by those.

“In other words, the act of secretly substituting an OOPArt for a fake might have been something repeated often since the olden days.”

“That might be so, though I don’t want to think much about it...”

It was common for fakes to have their materials somewhat similar to the genuine articles. In the case of grave robbing, witty thieves might prepare a fake. But, were there any group of thieves who used pure gold and crystal similar to the genuine article for their fakes? Though the substitutions were widespread enough to have been separated in time, could a copycat from a different time possibly have done something this time-consuming matching their predecessors to this extent?

Alice declared with an unusual serious expression:

“There may be “someone” secretly replacing OOPArts with something in mind. With such a scale as tens of thousands of years ago, too.”

Glup.

Dorothy swallowed her saliva.

“What a terrible enemy.”

Both the Dodgson Foundation and Dorothy’s Baum Foundation were big conglomerates that had been developed based on the technology heritage obtained from OOPArts. It’d be overly optimistic to think there hadn’t been any other similar groups in the past history elsewhere. And, assuming that to be the case, it’d be an enemy who had continuously, skillfully hid its presence for a long time.

Though one could think Alice had made rapid progress about this, there was a cue that had led Alice to arrive to these conclusions. It was the contents of the report that had arrived earlier from the staff of the Dodgson Foundation, that went to check the cave from Puerto Rico leading to the submarine pyramid, as discovered by Dorothy. Although the submarine tunnel itself that extended from the cave was fairly old, they had discovered a point midway through where a collapsed part had been re-dug. The excavation marks were quite new, from around the 1990’s.

It couldn’t be said for certain, but there was the possibility that the fake golden boat had been secretly substituted around that time as well. Maybe, the time when the Chupacabras began to appear suddenly in Puerto Rico too, 1995, was related to when the submarine tunnel opened.

Assuming they had substituted it secretly and had left without even triggering the ruins’ collapse trap, aka Code D...

“It seems our opponent is as good as us at handling OOPArts, or even better. And there’s the possibility that they keep working at secretly substituting OOPArts even now.”

Alice put her index fingers to her lips. That was her habit when she decided to challenge an opponent.

“Ah, I know what you want to do, Allie.”

Dorothy clapped her hands, and went on.

“While exploring still unrecovered OOPArts, you’re going to drag that “someone” out.”

“Glad you understand. That should speed things along.”

“So, here’s the next target, then.”

Dorothy started talking in rapid succession.

“I see you’re ready enough.”

Alice smiled wryly.

“Uhihihihi, and it fits our purposes to a T.”

Dorothy proudly presented a one-sheet printout.

“How about the “Salzburg Cube”? It’s quite likely to be an “original” OOPArt, with information on an unknown metal.”[9]

The Salzburg Cube. On 1885, at a cast iron factory in the north of Austria, a metal cuboid was discovered inside large chunks of coal that were being finely ground for fuel. Composed of nickel carbon, its percentage of sulfur seemed too small for a natural object. Since it had a quite accurate rectangular parallelepiped shape, it was considered to be a man-made work.

Besides, according to Gurlt, the expert said to be the discoverer of this device, it was said that the coal surrounding the metal cuboid was Ignite from the Cretaceous Period, approximately 70,000 years old. This topic was printed in a well-known scientific magazine in its 1886 issue, but since the analysis technology of the time wasn’t as refined as that of today, there are rumors about its authenticity even today.

“That’s one of the missing OOPArts your family is often looking for.”

“Uhihihi.”

Dorothy’s flat chest puffed up with pride.

“Allie, do you know where the Salzburg Cube is?”

“The real one was lost during World War II, it seems the one they have in the Salzburg underground resources museum is just a model.”

“Right. Then, where is the genuine article?”

Alice frowned. It should appear in the list her mother Lewis, leading the Dodgson Foundation, had left behind, in virtue of her investigating exhaustively all the traditions around the world and finding undiscovered treasures.

The OOPArt that was the Salzburg Cube had already been found by someone else, it was just now that it had gone missing. Naturally, that wouldn’t be written in her mother’s list, so without having Hatter investigate it for her, it was an item that completely flew under Alice’s radar.

“You don’t know?”

Dorothy smiled triumphantly, while Alice clenched her back teeth. Though it wasn’t pleasant to show weakness to this girl, it wasn’t that bad to concede victory every now and then if she could be given a clear explanation.

“Yeah, yeah, I don’t know. Please tell me, teacher Dorothy.”

She replied in monotone to Dorothy’s words.

“Uhihihihi. Actually, it’s in Moscow.”

“Moscow?”

“At the time of World War II, it seems the Soviet Forces took it away. Without noticing the worth of the goods, apparently the Salzburg Cube is still lying inside the Museum of the Soviet Army.”[10]

“Museum of the Soviet Army~?”

The Museum of the Soviet Army was under military jurisdiction, rather than civilian. The security level should also be more severe, in a totally different class than ordinary museums.

“Shall we do a treasure scramble game for the first time in a while? Tonight, that is.”

“Tonight~? I wonder what I should do.”

Alice was being evasive. The various equipment under the control of the Foundation, including her main backup, the huge airship Vimana, couldn’t be used without the permission of the “3 Queens.” Not to mention the fact that the Salzburg Cube was an item that wouldn’t appear in her mother’s list; she didn’t think she’d get permission so easily.

Without the Vimana, it’d be impossible for her go to Moscow and return in a day. That day being a weekday, when she considered she’d have class the following day too, she couldn’t answer at a moment’s notice.

“It’s no good? If you can’t use your family’s stuff, Allie, will you ride our Twister up to Moscow? We’ll start the competition on-site.”

Twister was the multi-purpose aircraft owned by the Baum Foundation, Dorothy’s home, and one of the few aircrafts with a performance equivalent to that of the Vimana. It was thanks to the Twister that Dorothy was able to fly around the world in the same manner as Alice.

“OK, I’ll ride it.”

Alice considered the unexpected suggestion and replied immediately.

“Then, I’ll tell Scarecrow that we’re to take a visitor on board.”

As soon as Dorothy said so, she got in touch with Scarecrow, the subordinate she was proud of, through her portable terminal. Unlike Alice, Dorothy’s strong point was to be able to summon the Baum Foundation’s support at will.

“Oh my, I wonder if you’re talking about your next project?”

A clear voice suddenly drifted over to their table. It was a redhead woman in a wine-red suit that fitted her body well. Her name: the teacher Faye Wright, who acted as an advisor to the Literature Club among the librarians, who was now sitting behind Alice before they even noticed it.

If one looked at her body, most people would notice something amiss. The left arm of her jacket was empty. That is, she was one-armed. The person herself said that she had lost her left arm due to an accident from her youth, but the truth wasn’t clear. Anyway, when both the Dodgson and Baum Foundations investigated the backgrounds of the teaching staff before their admissions, they hadn’t been able to find any records of her before she was appointed to this school.

That was why Alice had been wary of her since the beginning. One of the reasons why she had joined the Literature Club was to monitor her, but... If she could get behind her so easily, she could have listened to their conversation. She had been way too careless. Clicking her tongue so that no one noticed, Alice turned her eyes to Faye.

“If you have a plot, I guess I’ll be looking forward to your next project?”

Faye looked at Alice’s notes and gave a sweet smile. A smile without malice, that conversely stirred up Alice’s wariness.

“Yes. We’re hard at work.”

Alice replied as she closed her notebook.

“Ahn, you meanie. Your teacher was still reading thaat.”

“If you read our ideas beforehand, you’ll get less enjoyment when you read the story later.”

“The short story you ran on the last club journal was interesting. I want to see a continuation.”

“Uhihihihi, that’s great, right, Allie?”

“It was thanks to your cooperation, Dorothy.”

As she returned a smile, Alice put away both her notebooks with separate contents in a bag. That was enough for the report she was to submit to her school. She had also taken note of the conversation with Dorothy.

“By the way, teacher, what was the special edition theme of the next club journal again?”

QG 01 img 00006.jpg

She changed the subject from her story involving treasure hunting with Dorothy, to club activities.

“Oh my, our Chief is worried about it.”

“She’s a Chief in name only, because she doesn’t do a thing.”

“It’s the human extinction on 2012~”

Just as she said so, the other members around who had been indifferent so far, gathered one after the other now that the hottest, most interesting topic had begun.

“Chief, it’s the Aztec Calendar!”

The moment when the Sun would lose its power was written down in the calendar of the ancient Aztec civilization. When converted to A.D., it’d become December 22nd, 2012.

“Chief, what do you think will happen when the Sun loses its power?”

“The extinction of the sunspot?”

A change in the amount of heat due to the drop in solar activity. The ancient Aztec civilization was well versed in astronomy, and it’s well known that they kept a detailed observation of the Sun. There was also the possibility they had closed in on a secret of the Sun we don’t know nowadays; that was a relatively convincing theory.

“I firmly defend the photon belt theory myself![11]

The Solar System goes around the Milky Way with a cycle of 26,000 years, and around the year 2000, it’d pass through a photon belt, a lumped ring of photons so crowded they gained mass, as it does every 11,000 years. If the Earth entered there, the magnetic field would be affected by strong electromagnetic waves, with an impact considered deadly for all life forms. And the time we’d enter the next winter solstice in 2012 would be December 22nd, that was what the Aztecs had predicted, emphasized one of the members with an occult magazine at hand.

“No, it’s possible that the lack of sunlight it’s caused by the dust accompanying a meteorite fall. The meteorite fall that occurred on the other side of the Earth...”

To begin with, the members of the Literature Club were fond of discussions. Once one of those had started, it wasn’t unusual for them to talk together about their theories, even if they didn’t have the correct answer, until the school building close.


***


3 hours later. Alice’s silhouette could be seen at the outskirts of Moscow.

When one had a flight ability like the Twister’s, overcoming every nation’s air defense system was no real trouble. With the full use of the “Active Stealth” ability, it had easily broken through Moscow’s solid air defense system, a legacy from the Cold War era, and was now standing still above the Moscow river. Currently in the rightly called Invisible Mode, not even Alice could feel the Twister above her head, despite knowing it was there.

“As expected, it’s cold.”

Even if it was early summer, days in Moscow were rather chilly. Brr, Alice trembled while dressed in her jet black combat uniform. Considering its high level of exposure, her combat uniform wasn’t really fit for the climate. No matter if the bare parts were guarded by a specially combined protective solution, it really didn’t seem to keep her warm.

Local time, 8:00 PM.

This was a “white night,”[12] one of the days in summertime that got extremely long at high latitudes, but in two hours it’d get too dark around there. On the other hand, it was not like she could take it slow and wait for the golden chance when it got dark. If she had to attend school tomorrow morning, considering the time it took to travel, she only had a little more than an hour to work here.

Towering in front of her eyes was the former Soviet Union’s Museum of the Soviet Army. That was the place where the Salzburg Cube, the OOPArt Alice and Dorothy had chosen as their target this time, was supposed to be.

The building was made of red brick, something simple and sturdy in line with a totalitarian state. It had many pillars, compared with the apartment buildings surrounding it. Had they also taken into account the possibility of using it as a fortress if necessity arose? There were few windows, and the only opening in the first floor was the front entrance. Alice overlooked the museum from a spot slightly away, and began examining the intrusion path.

“How awfully secure. Though it feels kinda showy for a museum...”

Naturally, there were some guards around the museum. Alice used the telescopic function of her goggles to try and check their equipment. A full-face ballistic resistant helmet, a pitch black BDU and body armor, bomb-proof shields, small sub-machine guns in their hands[13]... no matter how one looked at it, they weren’t just guards. With that equipment, only someone engaging terrorists directly would fit the profile.

“Rather than guards, aren’t those Special Forces?”

This was bad. And this was just the first obstacle. First of all, why would those Special Forces guys be guarding this place? The current Alice had no way of guessing the chain of command and their goals. If she had the backup from the Dodgson Foundation as usual, she’d be able to obtain more detailed information, and it’d be easy to cause a distraction.

If this was the case, she’d need to change her original strategy. Pulling a few strings, she might have been able to use the stylish hand of making the troops withdraw. But, this one was a solo operation.

“When it comes to enemies, I always leave it to Hatter and the others.”

Since she wasn’t getting any support from the Foundation, she could only check up on Dorothy’s movements. Ever since she had gotten down from the Twister, she hadn’t contacted Dorothy even once. Which one of them two would return earlier to the Twister with the Salzburg Cube in hand, that was the game this time.

Incidentally, the moment Alice had gotten the chance in the past, she had given Dorothy accessories with a transmitter in them as a gift. Not only Dorothy didn’t suspect them at all, she always wore them with gusto. As she intended, thanks to them she could know Dorothy’s position with the press of a button.

“Now-, where would Dorothy be-?”

Dorothy’s current position appeared superimposed on the map projected by her goggles.

“Eh?”

Seeing the marker representing Dorothy, Alice’s composure vanished from her face.

“...She got me!”

By most definitions, one could hardly say that Dorothy was suitable for a Treasure Hunter. Apart from her physical ability, she was easily distracted, couldn’t concentrate, and was bad at thinking things through. Despite that, her being a 1st class Treasure Hunter was largely due to her one and only innate ability. Namely, her paranormal ability, known as “avoiding all obstacles only by luck.”

Once, she had guessed correctly a password with a probability of 1 in 10 trillion just from her intuition[14], and another time she had crossed minefields over by skipping without even noticing where she was.

Some time ago, due to a rare blunder by Alice, she had been caught along with Dorothy by a criminal organization, and they got tied up and locked in a small room with a time bomb. Quickly escaping from the ropes, everything was fine until she started dismantling the bomb; in the end it became clear she had to cut either the red or the blue cord or else it’d explode, and she decided she’d leave the rest to Dorothy’s luck.

Only ten seconds were left. Dorothy grabbed the red cord without hesitation, and overenthusiastically cut both cords. At that moment, Alice peed her pants. But the bomb was a dud... Before Dorothy’s ability, impossible to analyze, that disregarded probability theory like that, Alice could only take off her hat.

Because of this ability, how many times had Dorothy beaten her to treasures by now? The good news was, since Dorothy herself didn’t have much of a skill to search for things, Alice had the chance for a turn-around.

“No way, I never expected her ability of avoiding obstacles extended even to the guards.”

Her nickname of “Good Luck Fairy” wasn’t for show. At the same time Dorothy tried to enter the museum, the guards were switched by chance, and accidentally she had gone through another passage, so she’d be able to approach her destination unobserved. Neither an in-depth investigation to find out how to break through, nor prudent behavior, were a match for Dorothy’s infiltration as if walking into a convenience store.

“Good grief.”

Muttering with a sigh, Alice rechecked her own equipment. Of course she had the Angra Mainyu and the Aeshma, and she had also brought her whip. The inertia control system worked without a hitch, too. Taking into account she’d need bullets to take on a large amount of people, she had picked ones with more emphasis on shock and impact rather than penetration power. They were better suited at neutralizing a group than at killing one person. While she didn’t intend to sit by while Dorothy brought back the treasure, there was no time to overcomplicate things.

“I don’t have a choice. At least in theory, I go this way, right?”

Picking up a lock of her hair, Alice gazed at the front. Maybe out of concern for the terrorism nowadays, a sturdy buffer post had been installed before the front gate. Two fully equipped guards were on both sides of the gate. Speaking of the flanks, they were firmly surrounded by high walls, with a height of about 3 meters. If it was just this, Alice would easily be able to run up the wall with her physical ability. However, a laser sensor seemed to have been set up around the upper part of the wall. If one climbed over carelessly, guards would appear in the blink of an eye.

“After all, I’ll need a diversion here.”

Alice decided on a strategy, and the moment she took a step, she heard music out of nowhere. It sounded like a harp.

“I wonder if someone’s practicing?”

But, there were no signs of life in the apartment buildings. The wings of her hair ornaments suddenly began vibrating.

“Kuranes?”

From the reaction of the two magic creatures attached to her head as hair ornaments, Alice strengthened her vigilance. The music she was hearing disappeared along with that subtle vibration. In order to protect her host Alice, the two magic creatures automatically eliminated that which they considered harmful to her. For the two creatures to have cancelled out the music, it could only mean there was some dangerous component included in it.

At the very instant Alice felt an unpleasant hunch and returned her gaze to the museum area, woosh, a sound flew by her ear, tearing the air.

“Wwhah!?”

Crouching in an instant, several bullets directed at her missed and hit the concrete wall, making a dull, metallic sound.

“What, with no warning, aren’t you a bit awful!?”

Before confirming the enemies shooting at the same time, Alice began running towards the front gate. In a beeline, there were around 30 meters. If she put her mind to it, that was a distance she could cover in no time.

Guards appeared from the front gate, one after another. A quick estimation would have been like 30 people.

“No way! Why so many!?”

As they quickly spread left and right, they formed two lines of fire in a moment. The front row lined up their shields, and standing on one knee, aligned their gun muzzles against them; the back row also set up their sub-machineguns against those shields, in a position standing above them. It was a routine they had practiced well.

“Say what you like, but isn’t this overkill!?”

That was too exaggerated to take on a single girl. Were they serious or not? She couldn’t read the guards’ expression over the visor of their full-faced ballistic resistant helmets. But looking at the fingers resting in the triggers, Alice clearly saw a motion appearing in their strained muscles.

“So you are serious.”

The gunshots over innumerable suppressors overlapped Alice’s mutterings. Several hundred shots were fired at the girl wearing a skimpy outfit.


***


At the roof of the solid red brick building, a little red-haired girl was dancing a few steps, watching the movement of the guards under her, that kept coming out from inside the building and gathering one after another at the front gate and around it.

Despite the still air, her skirt opened as if fluttering in the wind, and music started sounding from around her waist, though she had no musical instruments.

“Lu~lu~lu~lululu~♪”

As she hummed to herself, the little red-haired girl extended her finger towards the view.

“As expected from Daddy, he did foresee a nuisance coming~”

Snap, with a snap of her fingers, the guards pointed their muzzle at Alice.

“Go and fight, my servants, defeat the nuisance~!”

Whirl, turning on her heels, she jumped into the skylight’s window. Below, there was a warehouse where innumerable wooden boxes had been arranged.

“Nyufufuh. While the nuisance is pinned down, I should get the treasure.”


***


Alice clearly saw the bullets coming at her. Not good. Whatever the circumstances may be, there was no way she could dodge such a barrage of bullets by herself. Even with her inertial control system, she couldn’t stop an oncoming bullet. In that case, only one thing to do!

“Boost On!”

In response to Alice’s will, her bodily functions were increased in one go. The movement of the looming bullets slowed down, and the hustle and bustle around her also faded away into the distance. Alice knocked down only the bullets she couldn’t avoid with the daggers of her Angra Mainyu and Aeshma, and leapt into the air.

The shape of Alice jumping up was reflected in the guards’ visors. But the one reflected there wasn’t the same girl they had been pointing their muzzles at a moment ago. It was the figure of a goddess with abundant breasts, a toned waist, and slender, beautiful legs that extended from her round hips.

Drawing out the limits of the human potential, a scary super-technology that transformed the body itself. That was the Boost. Based on the transformation ability of the therianthropes[15], Alice devised this special move using her own body.

The guards who witnessed the girl’s transformation were momentarily stunned.

“I’ll make you regret pointing your guns at me!”

Alice landed and charged at the guards without hesitation.

“Here I go, buddies!”

She pulled the triggers of both pistols as she spoke. Two flashes of light came out along with the gunshots. The full-face covered men, dazzled by the lights, stopped their movements and prepared their shields. Not minding it a bit, Alice kicked up a shield and jumped into the air.

The guards with sub-machine guns that avoided the flash fired off a volley against the airborne Alice. Though their PP-91 KEDR SMG, with their high rate of fire, seemed to spit a veritable rain of bullets, she laughed scornfully while wriggling her body as if dancing, and avoided them unceremoniously. Making full use of her inertial control system, even changing her body’s trajectory airborne was easy. The only ones able to capture Alice in her Boost state were those who had similar reflexes and physical ability as her.

“You guys aren’t quite enough!”

While Alice’s body floated in the air, she pushed out her guns and grabbed them in both hands. The guards simultaneously prepared their shields. It was a quick response. An ordinary intruder would be swept away one-sidedly, and it’d be the end for them. But, the girl they were dealing with was nothing like ordinary.

“I just want you to leave me alone.”

Fired by the two guns, the shock of four shots to the left and right vibrated through the airspace: “Shock Wave Bullet.”

Things like shields were useless, being exposed to a direct hit from the shock wave would put a human’s semicircular canal out of order; the guards rolled up their eyes and collapsed. Alice landed on her feet, the guards now neutralized. Since she started the Boost, she had needed five seconds.

“Well, I guess this’ll do.”

As she was muttering, her line of sight turned to the unit medal attached to the guards’ right shoulders. A large “A” was written there. She didn’t know, but that was the most elite of Russia’s Special Forces, the emblem of the alpha troops feared with the nickname of “heavy faces.”

“Tsk.”

Alice clicked her tongue when she heard footsteps approaching. Just how many guards were going to come? There’d be no end to them if she dealt with them separately. Her goal wasn’t to fight them, but to get the treasure.

“Well then, I can do a pretty good diversion for Dorothy.”

Alice put the two guns in their holsters, and grabbed her whip. If she was going to deal with a large number of people, she should use the weapon with unlimited ammo. Besides, since her opponents used guns, when it came to reach, the whip’s was better than the dagger’s.

“Why, I wonder when I got so dumb.”


Alice gave a sigh. Nevertheless, getting the treasure without pulling the trigger once was quite stylish.


***


At the time Alice was battling the soldiers, Dorothy was humming; she had arrived to the warehouse that was their goal.

“Fufufunfunfu~n♪”

Just to be on the safe side, she was wearing the guards’ uniform that she had found in the locker rooms on her way. Still, the size was too large, it totally looked more like a costume. All the same, she hadn’t been questioned or even seen once by the guards all the way there. Hers was a skill that blessed her with formidable luck.

Innumerable wooden boxes were in front of her now, piled up and fully loaded with treasures.

“E~rr...”

Her ability may have been demonstrated during the invasion, but it was utterly useless at looking for things.

Various articles had been squeezed in there without any organization whatsoever. Maybe in the middle of being moved with a forklift, wooden boxes had been stacked up in 2 to 3 layers while mounted on a pallet, and reached as high as twice her height. Out of the mountain of wooden boxes totally jumbled as if in a maze, Dorothy approached the nearby box. She scanned the Russian labels with the device in her arm to try and translate their contents.

A. Hitler’s skull, Nikolay II’s diary, General Secretary Brezhnev’s wig, Tolstoy’s autographed manuscript, Lenin’s Mausoleum’s initial blueprint, Alexander Korolev’s works, pieces of the rocket engine...

“Oh, it’s just random stuff here.”

Maybe the collections in this warehouse had been increasing every time trouble happened from the early period of the Soviet Union’s revolution until its collapse?

In this warehouse that lacked any administrator, all sorts of things were left there, neglected. Though it’d be a gold mine were any connoisseur to sort through it, for someone like Dorothy who disregarded anything other than her goal, it was just a pile of junk.

“Or better yet, should I burn it all away?”

Muttering something dangerous, Dorothy proceeded through the maze of wooden boxes.

Whoosh!

Surprised by a sudden gust of wind, Dorothy hurried to hide behind a box, and listened carefully. There were signs of something moving. She hushed her breath, and timidly peeked to see what was going on. There was a little red-headed girl in there.

“If the information from Daddy Long Legs is certain, it should be around heeere~”[16]

A lisping, sweet tone. And yet, she projected her voice just fine.

“Aah~, this isn’t it eitheer~~~”

Whenever she shook her skirt, the boxes around her were pulverized and the products came out rolling, as if a tornado was taking place. It was quite rough.

Won’t the things inside there get damaged with that? Dorothy frowned on the girl’s violent acts, forgetting that up until just a while ago she herself had intended to burn them. Though, she wasn’t touching the boxes, so how come they were getting crushed? Dorothy tried to look into it for more details, when she noticed something.

There was no sound. Usually, when a box was crushed so flashily, it should make a big crushing sound. But, as if watching a video being edited before turning on the sound effects, only the crushing sounds were missing.

“Uh, I wonder if it’s some magic trick?”

Dorothy took out her portable scope from her pouch.

“Err, the mode is...”

That scope, that at a glance looked just like opera glasses, was a gadget that allowed to switch between 3 possible modes; it could not only show ordinary visible light, but also infrared and acoustic reactions. The problem was, Dorothy wasn’t that good at using it, and couldn’t make anything out.

The little red-haired girl also noticed Dorothy’s groans and headed towards the box’s shade.

“Who is iit?”

“Ri~ght, please wait a moment.”

After Dorothy replied dutifully, she realized she had been found out, and hid herself again.

“Err...”

But, come to think about it, there was no need to hide this late in the game.

“Ah, who are you!?”

So she did a 180, stood up and pointed her finger with a snap, scowling at the girl with a pale face. Grin, the red-haired girl smiled, and lo! Her body rose into the sky.

Levitation? What kind of gimmick was that? Dorothy focused on the girl’s appearance. As if they were her stage clothes, a flair skirt and a halter dress that widely exposed her shoulders and back. No matter where you looked on her body, there was nothing like wires or machinery that let her rise into the sky. Then, her floating in the air was due to some sort of supernatural power?

QG 01 img 00007.jpg

The girl took her mic-like stick with her right hand, put it to her lips and introduced herself as if singing:

“My name is Lynn. I’m Lord Irukinuf’s Songstress.”

“For the sake of Lord Irukinuf, I came to take the Salzburg Cube heere. Those~ who bother me, I’ll slaa~ughteer, slaughteeer~.”

As she made her dangerous declaration, Lynn glared at Dorothy below with her golden eyes.

“So, if you don’t want to be slaughtered, please turn tail and leaave~”


***


“Phew...”

Alice had managed to neutralize the guards, save for one person. In order to gather information, she grabbed the guard she hadn’t stunned by the nape of his neck and lifted him. A display of power characteristic of the Boost state.

“What’s your affiliation? Mr. Ivan.”

“If you don’t get it just by looking, it’s useless to answer, you she-devil.”[17]

“Oh, I thought superstition vanished in the era of socialism?”

“Religion and history are not the same.”

The guard replied to Alice’s question while groaning. He was unexpectedly tough. Alice looked at his rank insignia and understood the reason. Three stars in a line. She didn’t know the details, but he was definitely an officer.

“This was my blunder. It’d have been better with a grunt.”

For someone in leader class, he’d never cough it up so easily. She couldn’t afford to take time for an interrogation.

“You bitch, what’s your goal? Did you come for our country’s treasure? It’s a fool’s errand, there’s just a pile of crap here.”

“Too bad for you, I have some business with that crap.”

Alice lightly twisted the guard’s nape of the neck.

“Fuck you, you old fart witch...”

The guard fainted before he could finish speaking.

She had wasted her time. Leaving the guards before the front gate, she turned towards the entrance, that was wide open.

“Anyway you slice it, I’ll get ambushed from either side of the door.”

Alice veered off the front door without hesitation, and ran up the red brick’s outer wall. Since she was adding the inertial control system to her physical ability enhanced by the Boost, a height of ten meters didn’t even register to her.

She reached the roof in a moment, and went at full speed right above the warehouse. Rather than wandering inside the museum, it’d be faster if she broke the ceiling right above and jumped off.

“Hn? It’s open?”

One of the skylights was carelessly open. It was located just by the warehouse. Maybe someone had gone first besides Dorothy? Thinking that, she peered inside from the skylight.

“...Who?”

She could see Dorothy wearing the oversized uniform of the guards, facing an unknown red-haired girl.

“It’s quite the unusual opponent.”

The red-haired girl was advancing while airborne, destroying wooden boxes left and right as she passed them, without even touching them. Her body itself was barely moving. Alice considered if the mic-like stick in her hand was some kind of acoustic weapon, but it didn’t seem the case. If she had some kind of supernatural ability, that was going to be a troublesome opponent. Even in her Boost state, she wouldn’t stand much of a chance if her opponent had psychic abilities. Although she might not be able to win this one, she should be prepared for an uphill battle.

“Kuranes, lend me your strength.”

Along with her brief muttering, Alice changed her goggles’ view to acoustic reaction mode, and Kuranes’ wings vibrated. The world reflected before her eyes changed completely. When she saw the shape of the girl facing Dorothy, she held her breath. The girl wasn’t floating in the air. Transparent tentacles reminiscent of an octopus or a squid extended from her waist area, as if lifting her own body.

“So she wasn’t human.”

Kuranes had made the same reaction as when she heard the harp-like tone a while ago. Was that tone this girl’s handiwork, too? In any case, even if she could destroy boxes with tentacles turned transparent, it was no big deal now that Alice understood the secret behind the illusion.

Alice gave a sigh of relief, and a smile appeared on her lips.

“Well, I wonder at what timing should I jump in.”

Reading her thoughts, Kuranes collected the sound under her.

“Lord Irukinuf’s Songstress?”

Dorothy was looking up at the slowly floating red-haired girl, and noticing the other Treasure Hunter at the skylight, she was going to wave at her, so Alice hid herself right away. That mudhead, she wouldn’t be able to surprise anybody if she was found out!

“For Lord Irukinuf’s sake, I came to take the Salzburg Cube housed in heere~”

Laughing with a nyufufu, the red-haired girl destroyed the boxes around her. Thanks to the acoustic reaction, Alice could clearly see each one of the fragments. But, oddly enough, no breaking sound that could interfere with the acoustic reaction was occurring at all. Instead, it was the surface of the tentacles that extended from the girl’s waist that caused a microscopic vibration.

So that was it. Was that why they made no sound in particular? Due to that, she could hear the conversation with Dorothy clearly, too.

Alice prepared a stance to be able to charge at a moment’s notice, and placed her foot on the skylight’s edge. The height was less than 10 meters. If she was in the Boost state, it’d be a simple jump even without the inertial control system. Under her, the tentacles were blowing up heavy dust by destroying the wooden boxes.

“!”

Seeing the objects which came out, Alice leaned forward involuntarily. Dorothy seemed to have noticed as well. At first glance, one looked just like a lump of coal. But Alice didn’t miss the name in the tag attached to the mass of rock, “Salzburg Cube.”

Unexpectedly, Dorothy reacted first:

“That’s mine!”

She claimed, pulling the trigger of her wire gun in a hurry. The Catcher Head shot by high-pressure compressed air flew towards the rock mass at breakneck speed. That Catcher Head automatically recognized the target, and included a homing function to correct its orbit. It was said that anyone who pulled the trigger would hit the bull’s-eye, that was the helpful item Dorothy was proficient with.

“Thi~ink agaiin! Lynn will get thaat~”

The tentacles moved along with her sweet voice, deflecting the trajectory of the Catcher Head.

“H-How did you do that!?”

Dorothy raised her voice in surprise seeing the Catcher Head, the pride of the Baum Foundation, having been flipped in the air. She couldn’t see Lynn’s invisible tentacles. Thus, she didn’t know either the trick behind the rock mass floating in the air.

“Nyufufuu~n, this is Lord Irukinuf’s blessiing~”

Smiling, Lynn reached out to the rock mass she had caught with her tentacle.

“That’s as far as you get!”

Now was her chance, and Alice flung herself from the skylight. Extending her toe nimbly, she kicked the mass of rock off Lynn’s tentacle.

“Oh myy?”

Lynn tilted her neck. Her hand had grabbed empty air.

Making a heavy sound like Slamm!, the rock lump rolled down the tile floor.

“Too bad. Guess I’ll help myself to it!”

Alice landed between Dorothy and Lynn, and reached out to the rock mass lying around on the floor.

“Kiiih~, damn those Alpha Special Forces guys, they couldn’t keep you busyy~!”

Lynn swung her arm down in frustration, and twisting her waist, extended her tentacles towards the rock lump.

“Nuh-uh, that belongs to Dolly!”

Earlier than Alice’s hand or Lynn’s tentacle, the second Catcher Head Dorothy shot approached the rock lump.

What could move the fastest under these circumstances was Alice in her Boost state. Her reaction speed exceeded the Catcher Head’s muzzle velocity, and once overtaking it, she grabbed the rock mass before Lynn’s tentacle!

“Treasure secured-!! Eh, what?”

The rock lump containing Salzburg’s Cube began to crumble and fall apart in her hands.

“Ah~, it broke! Allie, you broke iit!”

“Did not! It was already broken!”

Screaming at Dorothy, Alice picked up a black cuboid from inside the quickly collapsing rock mass.

“Eh?”

The moment Alice squeezed it, a light glow ran in ripples on the Salzburg Cube’s surface.

“Yahoo, the real deaal!”

Lynn saw that shine and raised her voice in joy, as a jet black cube fell down from her skirt along with her surprise.

“Wwha!?”

The cube Lynn dropped looked exactly the same as the one in Alice’s hands.

“No way, that one’s a fake!?”

Alice was surprised as to how Lynn’s blunder had made her practically admit she intended to replace it with a fake. But her surprises didn’t end there. Her body rapidly began shrinking, even if it was still too early for the Boost’s time limit.

“A-Aah... don’t, I said don’t...!”

The special solution that protected her body while in Boost gathered in one point of her body after the reduction.

“Oh shit... Not now...”

Feeling as if she couldn’t hold her need to pee, Alice’s cheeks turned bright red in an instant. And Lynn wasn’t that easy-going as to miss that her opponent had begun to tremble.

“I don’t caare, give it to Lyynn!”

A tentacle that gave off a heavy wind blew Alice away, and caught the cube with the shining light. Her small-sized body danced in the air as she sprinkled a golden liquid.

“Allie!!”

Dorothy ran to the landing point and caught the girl sent flying in midair, both of them falling together. Then, she glared really angrily at the airborne Lynn.

“Even Lynn should be qualified now to open up the “Gaate”!”

She smiled with a grin, and began rising as if sucked into the skylight.

“Nyufufufuh, with this, it’s mission compleete!”

“Wait!”

Dorothy shouted at Lynn, training her wire gun at her. The Catcher Head was charged with a high-voltage stun gun now. If she hit her directly, she’d surely turn the tables.

“I won’t waiit~! Because I have to hurry up and take this to Lord Irukinuuf~!”

Lynn’s skirt fluttered, and a small tornado went wild through the warehouse. If they got hit with the debris from the boxes accelerated by the gusts of wind, they wouldn’t leave in one piece.

“W-What is, this force...!?”

In an attempt to shield herself, Dorothy reached for a nearby wooden board. So, going on the offensive was out of the question.

“Dorothy... take a look at the acoustic reflection mode...”

Following the instructions from Alice still in her arms, she switched her opera glasses into acoustic reaction mode. Now she could see what she couldn’t before. Lynn had octopus-like tentacles growing from her waist, which held her body and lifted it in the air.

“It’s easy if you know the trick.”

Fighting against her post-Boost exhaustion, Alice’s gaze followed Lynn’s figure as she made her big escape. Though it’d be nice if she could shoot at her in pursuit once, even as a get-well gift, she was in no condition to shoot a gun now.

Irukinuf.

Gate.

Invisible tentacles.

Getting up from Dorothy’s arms, Alice picked up the cube Lynn had dropped. For a fake OOPArt, it was too elaborate. So there were people like her behind the scenes, secretly substituting OOPArts, after all?

“Say, Dorothy.”

She didn’t get a reply.

“Since it seems we could have a common enemy, why don’t you partner up with me for a while?”

Dorothy still didn’t answer. However, her shoulders were trembling.

“What’s wrong?”

Turning her eyes to Dorothy, she understood: her clothes were dripping wet. When she caught Alice, she got exposed to the protective solution she had spilled.

The blonde girl looked at her with a troubled expression.

“A-Allie peed her pants-!”

She accused her in a loud voice, as if bursting into tears.

“Why-!! Don’t I always say it’s not pee!?”

“But, but, it’s yellow, slimy-, and it’s at body warmth-“

“I said it’s not!”

Alice pouted with a red-hot face.

“If you still doubt it, do as many ingredient analyses in the Twister as you wish!”

As a result of lifting the Boost, the protective solution supplemented with the Boost had nowhere to go when the body area was reduced, and though it only spilled beyond the tension limit, with Dorothy calling it “pee”, “pee”, all the time, somehow it ended up making her feel like she had seriously peed herself.

“Eeh~, but, with Allie and her habit of peeing...”

“Don’t bring up mistakes from over a decade ago! So, how about it, will you join me or not!?”[18]

In response to Alice’s question, that was more like a threat, Dorothy made a peace sign in agreement.


Translator's Notes and References[edit]

  1. She pronounces “kyouju” as “kyooju”, hence “Profeshor”. “Pyon” is a sfx for a bunny hopping, too
  2. “Good grief” (“yareyare”) is a favorite expression of Alice’s
  3. The text says "ケープ" but it's closer to a "caped overcoat"
  4. This should be a pun with “ラベ丈” (Rabe Length, pronounced “Rabetake” instead of “Label’s Gakuen”)... which I can’t figure out what means :p Should work pretty nicely like this, though
  5. “Ho-rumu-ru” here is supposed to be a (involuntary) spoonerism of “home-room”
  6. Dorothy’s line starts with the sfx “pu-“, as in: “blowing up her cheeks in anger”
  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Cayce
  8. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akashic_records
  9. The Cube is real, and even Wikipedia mentions its supposed OOPArt-ness: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfsegg_Iron
  10. The author keeps calling it “Red Army Museum”, but this seems to be an error in the original. Wikipedia says it’s better known as above: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Armed_Forces_Museum, and the Japanese name for it apparently isn’t the one given so far, either
  11. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photon_belt
  12. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight_sun#White_Nights
  13. BDU: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Dress_Uniform. “Bomb-proof shield” doesn’t seem to be a real thing, though
  14. This is the American trillion above, 12 zeroes in a row
  15. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therianthropy. It also translates as “beastmen”.
  16. This is the kind of “Daddy” she was mentioning earlier, the reference will be explained at a later chapter
  17. He calls her a “female youkai”, due to the Boost trick, that is.
  18. This should refer to the bomb incident previously noted... and “decade” should be an exaggeration from Alice, or their ages really don’t fit here