The Unexplored Summon Blood Sign:Volume3 Chapter1
Stage 01: A Transfer Student in Early Spring Signals the Collapse of the School
“Hey, hey. Where are we supposed to dump this?”
“It sounds like Government is interested, so let’s contact Aika.”
(Stage 01 Open 05/23 07:30)
A Transfer Student in Early Spring Signals the Collapse of the School
A jetlagged mind made it hard to get up in the morning.
In the cabin space of the cruiser he lived in, Shiroyama Kyousuke rubbed his eyes on the double bed as the alarm clock’s ringing assaulted his senses.
He got back at it by hitting the switch of the bedside alarm clock.
And for some reason, the vessel named Isabelle had slipped onto the double bed while wearing black cat pajamas.
Kyousuke tried to get his sleep-addled brain working, but he ran out of strength and gave into the urge to fall back asleep.
He heard a girl’s voice from below the covers.
“I put my body on the line for the best setup I could manage, so I’m disappointed you aren’t going along with it. Zuuun (deadpan).”
What was this?
Why could he hear something below the covers?
To figure out what this was, his foggy mind led him to reach out and touch it…but what was it? It was soft and warm…so what in the world was it? A steamed bun? It seemed a little too small for that.
“And when you just start groping me, I’m small-sized unsure how to respond.”
His mind finally caught up to reality.
He was reminded of a shameful summer morning long, long ago before he had become Alice (with) Rabbit. That morning, he had wet the bed. At first, he had refused to believe it, but he had been unable to ignore the strange sensation. Just like back then, he hesitantly peered below the covers and the experienced summoner screamed just like his past self.
“Oh, I finally got the reaction I wanted. Pinpon pinpon (deadpan).”
Quickly rolling out of bed with a mixture of surprise, shock, and slight sadness was just like that day.
“Wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-why-why are you here!?”
The crawling black cat pajamas reigned supreme as the only one left on the double bed.
“Nya nyaaan (deadpan). I haven’t gotten my reward for that midair battle.”
“I believe we settled on a Dengeki Restaurant Hobby Set.”
“I thought we parted ways for the night at A Block’s international airport. And why!? Actually, how did you even get inside the cruiser? Did you pick the lock? Did you melt it? Or did you use a power drill? I won’t get mad, so be honest with me!!”
The girl who had fallen into a feline mentality gave him a displeased look from the bed.
“I need to give you a super-sized punishment for breaking our contract.”
“Except now you’re breaking the law! Just because normal people forget all about summoners and vessels is no reason to stop following society’s rules! And if you broke the lock to break in, I’ll have to get a new one, so just tell me!”
“So it’s time for a super-sized attack using the cheetah style! Whoosh (deadpan).”
“!? Why are you leaping at me when I’m the angry one here!?”
The black cat pajamas used her lithe, muscular body and the bed springs to launch herself with great force. Kyousuke was helpless as they started rolling around together on the cabin floor.
As the young girl mounted him at full force, Kyousuke lay on his back, covered his face with his hands, and sobbed.
“I don’t even care anymore, so can you just get off of me…?”
“Only if I get my reward. No further orders will be accepted until then.”
Isabelle started bouncing her hips up and down to hurry Kyousuke along.
The behavior might have looked seductive if the blows had not been hitting him in the solar plexus, making it even more painful than the boxer training in which a large ball was dropped on the stomach.
“Hurry, hurry. Hobby Set. I want a Dengeki Restaurant Hobby Set.”
“Gh, gbh!! I-I can’t exactly do anything unless you get off of me first!!”
The black cat pajamas stopped moving up and down and tilted her head instead.
“Hmm. The task will never be complete without the reward, but I can’t receive the reward without agreeing to a new task…”
A dull spiraling light appeared deep in her eyes.
“Ghhh (deadpan). Oh, no. I don’t understand even a small-sized bit of this anymore.”
“Oh!? Why would that make you strangle me!?”
He put up a struggle and finally managed to push Isabelle off of him.
It took her more than thirty seconds to cool down.
“I-I want my Dengeki Restaurant Hobby Set…”
“Fine, fine. Wait, are they even open in the mornings?”
It did not look like he would be given time for a shower, so he stuck to the bare minimum of washing his face and then changed into his school uniform in the shower space. He had school today. He lived a double life, but he wanted to do “as much as possible” to avoid neglecting either one.
Isabelle used his time out of the cabin space to change into her red military uniform. She must have gotten bored waiting for Kyousuke because she had grabbed the TV remote and started watching a morning information show.
“Let’s get rid of those May blues by having a second Halloween in early summer! The witch’s night comes late to Toy Dream 35! The Delayed Walpurgis campaign has begun. We actively recommend you all wear costumes and anyone in costume will receive a variety of benefits while the campaign lasts.”
“C’mon, let’s go. Your Hobby Set is waiting for you, right?”
“Right. The Juddark toy is waiting for me!”
They left the cruiser together.
Toy Dream 35 was the result of a foreign entertainment company buying up a bankrupt Japanese city and converting it into a giant amusement park. Most of it was a collection of super high-rise buildings built over the ocean and they were connected by layer after layer of giant bridges in a spider web-like arrangement.
Kyousuke’s cruiser was in the harbor that bordered the ocean on the lowest level of the city. The first floor (that is, around the waterline) of the giant rectangular buildings generally had cruisers and boats moored around them.
There was a small path that may have been a protruding part of the building or buffering material to protect against collisions from the cruisers, but walking along that was a good way to slip and fall, so they jumped from ship to ship to reach the stairway up, just like he always did.
After a bit of climbing the emergency staircase that zigzagged up the building’s wall, they finally reached one of the giant bridges. There, they could enter the crowds. Perhaps due to the costume campaign mentioned on TV, the crowd was filled with people dressed as witches or Little Red Riding Hood.
“C’mon, hand over the donut! Otherwise, this’ll be a one coin donation!!”
“Gozaru, gozaru. The Gozaru Samurai has transformed into a gargoyle!”
The place was packed with dragonfly-winged fairies, gray costume characters, and more. Even costume weapons must have been banned because a police officer was scolding a samurai and a kunoichi.
“Faster, faster. Hurry, hurry.”
“Breakfast isn’t going anywhere.”
“Juddark is really popular and I don’t want him to sell out. We need to super-size it! Make a super-sized dash!”
The giant bridge was packed full of office workers in suits, students in a variety of uniforms, and a costumed group of foreign tourists who had decided to get an early start. It was easy to forget the bridge was as wide as a road with three lanes in either direction.
They followed the crowd of giant pumpkin costumes and sexy bunny girls and then took a turn into a building.
Burgers, frankfurters, barbecue, beef steaks, and sodas. As a foreign-owned amusement park, Toy Dream 35’s restaurants served a lot of American junk food, but the Dengeki Restaurant was known to some for being even more chaotic. While most domestic chains were in decline, this one had made a push overseas and actually seen some success. If anything, it could be classified as a family restaurant. With bowls, plates, meals, combos, and lunches, the menu was something of a mess, but that careless obsessiveness was very much like a Japanese chain restaurant.
It was fairly busy, so they could not get a table seat. They were guided to a counter seat where they sat side by side.
“Whoosh(deadpan). Waitress, I want a Hobby Set! I know it comes with a Juddark toy!!”
Kyousuke still had no idea what a Juddark was and it made him think of some kind of chocolate, but then he saw some information on the corner of the menu.
“It’s the dark mascot hero Juddark! His dark judgments will slay evil!!”
He did not know the details, but it was apparently a bipedal black cat with a mean look in its eyes. The somewhat large-headed cat had a wire in its hands(?).
Something like that could become a strategic international product with annual revenue exceeding 500 billion, so the Toy Dream amusement park cities really were unique. A character could be as valuable as an oil field.
“Why do you want that so bad? Isn’t it just a kid’s meal that adults know their kid will like because it comes with a little toy?”
“What it is doesn’t matter.”
“It’s super-sized important that we close out the task by proving the contract was fulfilled.”
Kyousuke despaired when he did not find cereal and milk on the breakfast menu and settled on ordering an eggs benedict, seafood salad, and iced coffee set.
While waiting for their order, Isabelle swayed her small body back and forth and spoke.
“What are we going to do after this?”
“Oh, you mean about that? Yesterday’s midair battle was unexpected, but it doesn’t really change what we need to do. Let’s just do the job we were given.”
“Then you should have made the contract from the very beginning.”
“If we could have settled this without a contract, that wouldn’t have been necessary, right?”
That was when someone’s hand interrupted them. Kyousuke looked over, thinking it might be the waitress, but it was another customer. It was Rendou Akiya, a classmate of Kyousuke’s who at first looked like a girl with semi-long brown hair but was actually a boy who liked to wear a girl’s blazer and pleated skirt.
But today, he was wearing something else. As part of the Delayed Walpurgis, he was wearing a three-pointed witch’s hat and a cape.
And the boy looked like he had only noticed Kyousuke’s presence after sitting down next to him.
“Oh. What are you doing eating out, Shiroyama-chan? I thought you subsisted on supermarket meals.”
“I have my reasons.”
“What, did your fridge or microwave break?”
“More importantly, what’s with that getup?”
His classmate spread his arms to show off the miniskirt costume.
“I had trouble deciding between a witch and a fairy. During the campaign, you get a discount if you shop in costume. I think you get 15% off at this family restaurant. And isn’t that military uniform girl in costume?”
“That isn’t a costume. And don’t we have school after this?”
“You silly puppy. I can’t understand why anyone would wear their uniform all day long. Doesn’t make any sense.”
The miniskirt witch boy ordered a Japanese-style breakfast based on tamago-kake gohan.
“By the way, have you heard about the transfer student?”
“That’s news to me,” answered Kyousuke.
“Unfortunately, it’s a guy. I guess we won’t be getting the triple sevens of a beautiful, mysterious, and virgin.”
As you can see, Rendou only chose women’s clothing as a fashion statement and he was not a true “trap”.
Witch Rendou waved sociably at the waitress who brought him his tamago-kake gohan set. As Kyousuke watched, he frowned in realization.
Rendou had ordered after him, but his food had arrived first. Which meant…
“Oh, this isn’t good…”
“What is it?”
“I need to step into the kitchen a moment.”
“What is it, Shiroyama-chan!? Are you the kind of person who likes to call out the chef?”
Kyousuke ignored the frantic shout and stepped through the staff only door with Isabelle following him.
At first, the cooks looked surprised, but…
“Hm? Huh…? Oh, that’s right! I forgot your order!!”
“As long as you’ve remembered.”
People forgot that summoners and vessels existed as soon as they left their field of vision. Even if there was a mechanical order slip, it was all over if they mistook it for an erroneous input.
“U-um, uh, this will not happen again, so you can return to your seat…”
“Sorry, but I have a fairly serious food allergy, so could I watch you cook it?”
“Nuuun (deadpan). It would be a super-sized problem if you forgot my Hobby Set.”
Even ordering food at a restaurant was difficult.
It was easier at a school cafeteria where the kitchen was visible from the counter.
Once they returned to their seats with the completed food, the waitresses had “forgotten” about them and other customers’ butts were filling their seats.
Pressing their foreheads against a nearby wall in sorrow was their only option.
After eating on their feet, Kyousuke parted ways with Isabelle once more.
“Can you kill some time until school’s out?”
“I will be super-sized okay. If I need to, I can break a window. Smash, smash(deadpan).”
“Just this once, you can pick the lock if you want, but don’t break anything.”
Kyousuke continued alone to a high school on a square portion of R Block. Once he entered the classroom, his classmate Librarian-chan noticed him.
Once in school, everyone was wearing uniforms, so there weren’t any wolfmen or Frankensteins walking around.
“Good morning, Shiroyama-kun.”
“Morning. Aren’t you here pretty early today, Librarian-chan?”
“My name, my name.”
She had been caught in the middle of some summoner battles concerning a ghost known as the Rainy Girl, but that entire incident had ultimately been made so it “never happened” and she had no memory of it.
“Are you doing that Delayed Walpurgis thing, Librarian-chan?”
“Gh!? How did you hear I was stuck as a cat ears girl...no, a cat leotard girl for a costume event at work!?”
“Geh! I shouldn’t have said that!! Just to be clear, this is a wholesome job! There isn’t anything untoward about it! It’s just a delivery service!!”
Librarian-chan blushed and tried to explain away some sort of misunderstanding, but Kyousuke was unsure how to react when that misunderstanding only existed in her mind.
And apparently she was still a part-timer girl even after “that incident” was changed.
After calming down some, she changed the subject.
“To ho ho. That’s just the uniform for the job and it doesn’t match my tastes at all. Maybe it’s just an issue of rose-colored glasses, but I had an awful time with a job yesterday too.”
“What was it? Sexual harassment?”
“In a way, it was worse!!”
Her blood pressure seemed to rise as the memory worked up her anger.
“I was working as an eco-friendly bicycle delivery service, but sometimes you get asked to make mysterious deliveries of pets people are sick of or memorial tablets! And they don’t care where it goes, so it’s up to you to figure something out! And you’re not allowed to complain or refuse!!”
“Yeah, I’ve heard scammers will get people to pay them using a bike delivery service instead of an ATM.”
“But the most common one lately is Girl’s Backdoor. It’s just what it sounds like: a product that lets you bend teenage girls to your will! And they’re selling for huge amounts on online auctions, so they’re being sent out for delivery all over the place! Apparently the rumors started right here in Toy Dream 35. I don’t know what it’s all about, but I ended up having the police stop me and bring me in for questioning. Can you believe that!? ‘Hey, you there. I doubt you are, but you aren’t being paid to assist in an auction scam, are you?’ God, it pisses me off!!”
“What exactly is it? Do you plug it into their temple to rewrite their brain?”
“Don’t ask me. And who would actually believe something like that? The actual product isn’t the problem; it’s how they’re using the rumors to make a ton of money off of the auctions. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cardboard card, hairspray with the label peeled off, or a plastic pendulum.”
As she spoke, Librarian-chan held out her smartphone for him to see.
An online auction page did indeed show quite a few entries for something called Girl’s Backdoor. She scrolled down the list, but there was no end in sight.
The example photos showed a great variety of “forms”: everything from strange old tomes to something like a homemade laser gun. It was definitely a movement, but Librarian-chan may have been right that it was more about using the name to sell junk at a high price than about the Girl’s Backdoor itself.
“That’s pretty incredible. All the numbers are up in the thirty or forty thousands. Even if you take into account these are auctions, it’s quite something.”
“I know, right? What I can’t believe is there are this many people out there who secretly want to bend girls to their will! That feels like enough of a threat on its own!!”
“But don’t the back covers of magazines have ads for lucky necklaces and bracelets with phony-sounding stories about how it made someone popular with girls? The demographic for those has just moved onto the auctions, so I bet the total numbers aren’t that much different.”
“That’s like telling someone not to worry because there have always been that many roaches behind your dresser and you just never noticed. It doesn’t help at all! It just creeps you out!!”
Kyousuke began to wonder if there were similar “lucky” products that supposedly made girls popular with boys. He did not have a habit of checking manga or fashion magazines for girls, so he did not know what was advertised in them.
That was when Rendou Akiya entered the classroom. He must have changed since leaving the family restaurant because he wore a girl’s uniform instead of a witch costume.
“Morning, everyone! Huh? Weren’t you with me earlier, Shiroyama-chan?”
“We must have gotten separated in the crowd.”
“More importantly!!” cut in Librarian-chan. “You! You were making money selling five or six of those Girl’s Backdoor products through online auctions, weren’t you!? Why do you have to make people like us work up a sweat running around town just so you can make some dirty money!?”
“Don’t be silly. Those are just joke products! It’s not like I’m taking advantage of the commotion to trick people!! The description of its effects is just a personal opinion!!”
“B-besides, if those stupid guys send me all their money, they can’t get their hands on a real Girl’s Backdoor, right? Of course, that’s assuming real ones actually exist. All I’m doing is preemptively stopping their evil deeds. You should be praising me as Dark Paladin Rendou Akiya, the hero who protects the city’s peace from the shadows!! C’mon, tell her I’m right, Shiroyama-chan!!”
“I don’t like that anyone’s excitedly buying these things, but I don’t like how you’re making such easy money either! Don’t underestimate a diligent part-timer girl! Roar!!”
The crossdressing boy fled with the librarian girl in hot pursuit. They forgot all about Kyousuke the second they took their eyes off of him, but he just sighed at his unchanging daily life.
He may have been a summoner who used the gods of legend as a stepping stone to reach his goal, but even he was fond of a peaceful life.
Even if he had no idea how long the peaceful part would last.
They had to move classrooms for third period, so Kyousuke was walking down the hall at the end of the short break. He saw Student Council President Benikomichi Fuuki walking the opposite direction with her long black hair tied together at the end.
She seemed to have noticed him.
She was wearing her gym outfit, so she likely had gym class next.
“Hi, Shiroyama Boy. If you’re cooking something for home ec, call me afterwards.”
“My elective science is physics. We’ll probably just be clacking together metal balls suspended by strings.”
“Oh, that’s too bad.”
“I hear they’re making popsicles in chemistry. It’s part of an experiment where they sprinkle some salt in chunks of ice to lower the temperature below zero.”
“Oh, c’mon!! It’s not too late, so go see if you can change electives! And I really want a popsicle now!!”
A distant look entered Kyousuke’s eyes as he wondered if she would really be willing to eat a popsicle made with the school test tubes that probably had not been properly washed.
Then Benikomichi Fuuki’s cellphone vibrated.
Her expression clouded over a little when she checked it.
“What is it?”
“Well, I’m not sure why, but some neighborhood kid has really taken a liking to me. Honestly, and I told him to stop using his phone at school. I might have to teach him a lesson later.”
Kyousuke silently narrowed his eyes, but the student council president failed to notice.
“I’m really more into…y’know, an older, hardboiled kind of guy who looks good in a trench coat and drinking some whisky, but I guess you can’t always get what you want.”
As she spoke, Benikomichi Fuuki put her phone away.
But her gym outfit had no pockets, so it looked more like she was just sticking it into the side of her bloomers.
“By the way, Senpai, I’ve always wondered why the girls still wear bloomers here.”
“Hm? It isn’t that unusual in Toy Dream schools.”
“That’s not really an explanation.”
“Hah hah hah. This city is meant to make kids’ dreams and adult’s hopes come true.”
“That’s still not an explanation!!”
Without solving the mystery for him, Benikomichi Fuuki waved goodbye and left.
She had been an Illegal vessel who had been prepared to destroy the world’s current system to achieve her goal, but now that incident had never happened in the first place. He was not entirely sure if she was still registered with Illegal, but she was at least no longer working to take anyone’s lives.
Someone called out to him from behind.
He looked back and saw a girl with short black hair.
He had once seen this somehow gloomy older girl listed as Umie Shouko in a newspaper article and heard her referred to as the rumored Rainy Girl.
But now no gravestone bore her name and she was nothing more than a living girl who attended school like normal.
“Are you on your way to your next class?”
“I have my science elective next.”
“Oh, an elective… Then do you know where Ryouko-chan went? I want to give her this.”
She held an English-to-Japanese dictionary. She must have borrowed it from someone she knew. The same thing could be loaded on a smartphone for only two or three thousand yen, but there were still rules banning phones during class.
But that was not what caught Kyousuke’s attention.
“Um…oh. What if I called her the Librarian?”
The answer seemed to confuse Kyousuke. It did not sound right to him.
“Librarian-chan has biology, so she’s on the third floor of the new building.”
“I see. So she’s taking biology, the one science a literary type can get through with rote memorization.”
There was nothing more to discuss, so Kyousuke waved goodbye and started to leave.
But then Umie Shouko whispered something to him.
“Keep looking after her for me, Mr. Bunny.”
He looked back, but the girl simply waved and walked down the passageway leading to the new building.
Before long, it was lunchtime.
Ordering two meals at the family restaurant that morning had increased the cost a fair bit, so he chose to be economical for lunch. Instead of using the cafeteria, he stopped by the school store and bought the “Expanding Bread” (aka Poor Bread) that was most popular with the athletic boys. He sat all alone on a bench in the courtyard to eat it.
The courtyard was not a bad location since the flower beds were fairly well tended to and it was nice and cool in the shade, but since the students preferred the more open feel of the rooftop, the courtyard was fairly unpopular despite how pleasant it was. It was also a troublesome spot because lovers would often meet up there afterschool, later realize it was in full view of the school building’s windows, get into arguments along the lines of “Stop watching us!!” “Stop doing it where we can’t help but see you!!” “Oh, you wanna fight!?”, and end up in a great war. But at lunchtime, it was nice and peaceful.
As Kyousuke battled the hunk of carbs that oddly expanded the more he chewed it and disturbingly never seemed to vanish from his mouth, a new visitor arrived in the lunchtime courtyard.
“Wow, wasting your teenage years eating lunch alone, are we?”
“R-Renge, um, don’t say that while looking him right in the eye.”
It was a pair of twin sisters.
Meinokawa Renge and Higan were both shrine maidens with long, straight hair, but Renge had stereotypical black hair while Higan had blonde hair and blue eyes, making them a tricky pair of shrine maidens.
To them this was a long-awaited reunion, but this sad vision must have blasted those emotions from their minds.
However, Kyousuke stared at the sisters with equally dead eyes due to the unreasonable scene he saw.
“Visitors aren’t allowed in this high school, so why are you two boldly walking around in shrine maiden outfits?”
“Because normal people forget all about summoners and vessels, of course.”
That made sense at first, but it was really the same as saying there was nothing wrong with walking around in the nude as long as no one knew it was you. They were throwing out their common sense in favor of their special traits. That line of reasoning was also why summoners and vessels tended to wear outfits that were far from normal and strayed from modern society.
But Kyousuke chose to kindly interpret it as them thinking people would assume their shrine maiden outfits were costumes for the Delayed Walpurgis.
“So what do you need today?”
“We have something to discuss with you.”
Kyousuke gestured for them to sit next to him on the bench, so blonde Higan sat down first.
But then black-haired Renge sat down between the two of them.
“What? I’m supposed to protect you, Higan, so let me act as a barrier.”
For some reason, Meinokawa Higan got back up and forced herself between Kyousuke and Renge.
“Then I’ll protect you!”
“What!? You have some nerve as the younger twin!”
“Ow, ow, ow, ow!! I feel like my thigh is being crushed by a steamroller here!!”
When Kyousuke raised his voice, the two shrine maidens finally stopped moving.
Kyousuke had been forced to the edge of the bench, Higan sat right next to him, and Renge was pressed tightly in beyond her. Once the crisis passed, the feminine body temperature and aroma finally reached him.
That said, this was not a part of the safe and peaceful life he wanted.
“Can you just get this over with and give me my daily life back?”
Meinokawa Renge clung to her sister’s upper arm and spoke an unfamiliar name.
Kyousuke looked puzzled, so she held out a notebook-sized tablet.
It displayed a list of personal information.
The included photo showed a sharp-eyed boy with both sides of his hair dyed blond to emphasize the black hair in the center.
“You haven’t heard of him? He’s supposed to transfer into your class.”
He suddenly remembered that Rendou Akiya had mentioned that at breakfast.
“Why is a summoner and vessel from the underside of the world discussing my class’s transfer student?”
“W-well, the thing about him is…strange things keep happening around him, so he’s been marked by people on ‘this side’ too.”
“More accurately, by Government. We were given a job by them, so we were wondering if you had overhead anything about him.”
Kyousuke fell silent.
A normal person like Rendou Akiya had been able to talk about the transfer student. That meant he had not been forgotten even while not in view of the naked eye. It seemed highly unlikely, but Kyousuke thought it was worth asking.
“Is it possible he’s a summoner or vessel like us?”
“We’re looking into that as well. At the very least, he doesn’t seem to be registered with Government. Illegal doesn’t release their records and Freedom doesn’t even keep a list since none of us are interested in anyone but ourselves. It’s impossible to be sure.”
“Just tell me what you know.”
“Makihara Youji himself is the kind of high school boy you can find anywhere. All of his paperwork is in order. He seemed to have made more than ten girlfriends at his previous school. The only real problem is why he’s changing schools.”
For one thing, it was strange to change schools in May when the school year had only just begun.
“You mean it isn’t due to his parents changing jobs or moving in with his grandparents?”
Hearing that, Renge fell silent for a moment.
She closed her eyes and inhaled.
Once she opened her eyelids again, she spoke.
“His home was burned down in a fire.”
It was Kyousuke’s turn to fall silent for a moment as he scrolled through the tablet’s information with a fingertip.
Ominous records were mechanically listed as brief lines of text.
“A-and when we looked into it, there was more than that,” added Higan. “During a school trip at the beginning of spring, there was a landslide and everyone in that school year was killed. The fitness gym he attended was destroyed in a gas explosion. The mall he worked at part-time collapsed. A stalker attacked his home and his parents died. Um, people get caught in terrible tragedies wherever he goes, but he always ends up unharmed. And it just keeps happening. Plus, it’s all happened recently when he was a completely normal person receiving no real attention not long ago. It’s all been over the past few weeks.”
“It sounds like something from a horror movie, doesn’t it?” Renge waved a hand dismissively. “The funny part is every last one of the tragedies was caused by a girl Makihara was intimate with. You could almost say he ordered the girls to do these things, they did everything he wanted, and they destroyed themselves in the process.”
“Even the landslide and building collapse?”
“The landslide happened on a rainy day, but when the police investigated, they found it had nothing to do with that. They’ve been suppressing the information to avoid any social influence, but apparently a schoolgirl blew herself up using the construction explosives she was holding.”
No matter how unhealthy the sense of dependence developed, no one would go that far for a high school romance.
This was not the White Queen and her worshipers after all.
But Kyousuke had heard another worrisome rumor. His class had been talking about the transfer student just as much as a mysterious device that could bend teenage girls to one’s will.
“Oh, so you’ve heard of it? Government seems to be showing an interest in it. But as a summoner, I do have to wonder why it would be limited to girls.”
“Um, there’s that state people get in when they lose during the Summoning Ceremony and get hit by the mental shock of their god being killed, right? They can only do simple things, but you can control them. And that slow-moving suggestible state continues for more than twenty-four hours.”
In other words, a summoner could bend someone to their will without a special device. It did not matter if you instructed them to take someone else’s life or their own.
“But that doesn’t make sense.” Kyousuke thought for a bit and opened his mouth once more. “That only happens after summoning a Material and fighting. If I defeated a normal soldier or guard, they wouldn’t end up like that. That would mean the victims of this Girl’s Backdoor thing are from our line of business.”
“Right. And summoners and vessels are removed from normal people’s minds, so the police wouldn’t even treat it as a real case. But these Girl’s Backdoor incidents are being recorded. …Government seems utterly perplexed by this. It is possible they’re all extreme rookies with only one or two digit Awards, though. Are they using Summoning Ceremony tech or not? If they are, is it a normal Blood-Sign system, or is it some variation on that? And if it is a variation, does it end at just providing the hackneyed ability to have complete control over a girl, or is there more? Those questions have pushed this way up their list of priorities.”
———Once, Azalea Magentarain and Guard of Honor had attempted to destroy the world just to hold an audience with the White Queen and to receive her love.
———Once, Benikomichi Fuuki and the other heir of Telomere’s End had attempted to destroy human society just to construct a world without death.
Both of those had broken down the Blood-Sign system and rebuilt it as a twisted variation.
They had also been resolved in secret so no one except Kyousuke knew about them.
Was something on the same level standing before him again?
That mysterious device would allow its user to manipulate someone close to them and even have them unquestioningly detonate the construction explosives they were holding. That alone was dangerous enough to mess with the world around Kyousuke.
“And conveniently enough, he’s stepped right into Alice (with) Rabbit Shiroyama Kyousuke’s territory, right? If Makihara Youji is aware what he’s doing here, he’s quite something. It wouldn’t hurt to be cautious.”
“If you’re really in trouble, um, we can help out at any time.”
“If it comes to that.”
After hearing that, the twin sisters put away the tablet and stood from the bench.
Renge pointed toward Kyousuke’s face.
“Listen. We don’t know yet whether or not this Girl’s Backdoor thing that Makihara Youji seems to be using is related to the Summoning Ceremony system. But it’s still dangerous even if it isn’t. In fact, we’re more likely to be caught off guard if it isn’t a part of our field of expertise. Even if you’re Freedom Award 903, I don’t think you should underestimate this guy.”
“Thanks for the warning.”
“Also…you didn’t wear a glove on your left hand last time we met, did you?”
“It’s a fashion statement.”
He waved his hand at the girls who tilted their heads while leaving the courtyard.
Kyousuke left the black leather glove on his left hand as he leaned back in the bench with the “Expanding Bread” in his other hand.
He slowly let out a short sigh.
A moment later, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind the bench and something was dumped on the ground like a garbage bag.
It was Makihara Youji.
This boy was suspected to have used Girl’s Backdoor to cause a number of incidents.
It was the same boy seen in the background information on the Meinokawa Sisters’ tablet.
However, he had been so severely beaten that the resemblance to the photo may not have been immediately obvious.
The villain had bruises and other marks all over his body, he could just barely be heard breathing, and his limbs were entirely limp. It was doubtful he was conscious.
Kyousuke did not even glance in his direction.
There was no real reason to confirm his presence at this point.
He leaned back in the bench and looked up into the blue sky as he munched on the “Expanding Bread”.
A short moment later, a small form left the bushes.
It was the vessel named Isabelle.
“Hey, hey. Where are we supposed to dump this?”
“It sounds like Government is interested, so let’s contact Aika.”
“Nuuun (deadpan). He’ll get away if we do that.”
“He won’t be able to move for a while after all that. With all those wounds, we could probably give him some zombie makeup and dump him on the side of the road for Government to pick him up in broad daylight. Everyone would think he had just gone overboard with his costume and gotten heatstroke.”
With that, it was over.
The concerning incident had ended before it even began.
“But this doesn’t seem to follow Freedom Award 903’s rules.”
“That’s because it doesn’t. These are the rules of a normal student.” Kyousuke did not sound very interested. “I really don’t want to talk about turf or territory. It makes me feel like Illegal. Although I guess Government follows a similar concept.”
“I want to know how that Girl’s Backdoor thing works.”
“That I can’t tell you.” Kyousuke replied casually while opening and closing his left hand and the glove he wore there. “If I controlled a few people and took some physical data on them, I could probably figure it out pretty quickly, but that would be going too far. I don’t want to do that when I don’t even know if there are any side effects.”
“Could it be mass-produced to a super-sized extent?”
“That’s part of what I’ll look into. Although, looking at this guy, I doubt he has the brains or skill to create something like this.”
“It’s best to think there’s more to this. Or maybe I should say we still haven’t found the real villain.”
This was one down, but it was just the beginning.
“Then should we continue defending against future intruders?”
Kyousuke answered her with a question of his own.
Why should a professional work for free to protect this school?
Except that was not what he meant.
“Why do we have to stick to defense? Wouldn’t it be a lot simpler to go on the attack and crush the source of all this?”
“Hmm. Looking at it more rationally, that’s a small-sized…no, medium-sized bit better.”
“Just to be clear, this isn’t an official job for Freedom or Government. It’s pretty much a personal fight. And we don’t even know what we’re up against here. As we search around blindly, we might just find ourselves wandering deeper and deeper into the bog.”
“I’m fine with anything as long as my contract partner gives me the promised reward.”
The girl in a red military uniform did not seem to give it all that much thought.
And she made sure to add one more thing:
“Of course, that’s only if you promise to complete my job to a super-sized extent once it’s all over.”
His enjoyable school life had to be put on hold.
From here on, he would be living in the bloody world of summoners.
Or a Story Set Somewhat in the Past
This was the best.
Makihara Youji finally felt truly alive.
If he been asked to sum up his life, he would have used the words pointless and ineffective. It was not that he had received any cruel abuse at home or in the classroom. Nor had everyone constantly ignored him like he was invisible. But everywhere he went, he had found nothing but pain and humiliation. Whenever he recalled some moment from his past, he felt an urge to collapse on the spot and flail his arms and legs around.
He could speak a hundred words and be lucky to get two or three in response.
Even when he frequently updated a blog or SNS page connected to the entire world, the increase in the hit counter never left the single digits. No one ever left any comments.
It was all a waste of time and effort.
No one ever recognized his successes, but they were quick to lay on the insults when he failed. When he spoke to a group, none of them would turn his way, but when he verbally abused someone along with the group, all the attention would turn his way and they would turn on him.
He stood out in the worst possible way.
Everything worked against him.
How could this have happened?
He could work a hundred times harder than anyone else to be considerate and no one would give him a second glance, but when he complained even a hundredth as much as anyone else, they would attack him with the force of a raging wildfire. The pile of stones he had so carefully piled up would be mercilessly toppled and he would have to restart from the beginning. He even started suspecting everyone else in the world was conspiring against him.
But that unfairness was gone now.
The world had been corrected.
Makihara Youji slowly held up his left arm and stared at the back of the hand.
“Everyone responds when I do something. A single word gets ten in response. That’s right. This is how the world is supposed to work.”
He lowered his raised hand and gaze and instead directed them both straight ahead.
There he saw a girl so slender he thought she might break if he pulled her in close. She was blankly swaying on her feet. If he commanded her to give him a shoulder massage, she would do so. If he demanded she strip naked, she could not put up a fight. He had to be careful about what he commanded since she really would bite off her tongue if he told her to, but things were generally going well.
This girl was held in the bonds of Girl’s Backdoor.
Makihara felt no pangs of conscience over externally and remotely controlling her body while ignoring her own wishes. After all, his life up to this point had been so very wrong. If everyone was given the same amount of luck to be used over their entire life, then he was only making things even. After all the pain and humiliation he had suffered through, what was wrong with being a little more special than the people around him?
A frail voice shrieked in a corner of the dark room.
Curled up there was a different girl from the one Makihara Youji was controlling.
“Eek, eek, eek, eek, eek…”
“Oh, shut up. Just accept the reality before your eyes already.”
Makihara’s voice was somehow cold.
With a glove on his hand, he moved his fingertips as if tugging on a marionette’s strings.
“As you saw from my tests, I can make this girl do whatever I want. I could have her go on a rampage with a knife or I could have her strip off all her clothes and run around town.”
“Of course, you can always abandon your friend. Then again, no one’ll ever believe what happened here, so no one’s ever going to take her side. But if you don’t like the sound of that, then I’d like you to help me contact some people.”
“You work in the entertainment industry, don’t you? Even just a guest ID would be fine. Then I can use this to get close to a number of people.”
As its name suggested, Girl’s Backdoor could not be used to control just anyone.
In fact, the conditions for its use were quite limited.
But what did that matter?
No man was an island. If he held one person’s life in his hands, he could restrict the actions of a few people in their address book. It continued as a chain reaction from there. Like the Straw Millionaire, he just had to move from person to person, betraying them little by little, until he had arrived at and taken over an area he never could have reached otherwise. He could remote control them and bind them. In that sense, he was not restricted by sex or age. People were connected to others in unexpected places: politicians, corporate executives, the police, celebrities, and sports stars. He could reach them all through his chain reaction.
He had gone too far at his previous school.
But what exactly had he done that “went too far”?
He had already forgotten.
He was so fulfilled that he felt no need to remember each and every thing. He had no need to contemplate the past when his future was so bright.
(This is what it feels like to hold the world in your hand.)
He was not out to rule over anything. His goal was not to obtain a specific person. He simply wanted everyone to pay attention to him. He wanted to create situations where they had no other choice. And that attention would eventually spread through the city, the country, and the entire world. He could not help but enjoy the gradual progress in that direction.
But just as he thought that, a deafening dull sound exploded from the back of his head.
His head hurt like his skull was swelling out. It throbbed with pain. Only after breathing in the dusty air did he realize he had fallen onto his side.
Had someone hit him?
Makihara Youji’s mind was not functioning properly. It did not make the switch from confusion to fear. His arms and legs twitched but did not move, so he could not stand or even sit up.
He could not turn his head, so most of the room was a blind spot to him. He moved just his eyeballs and finally saw a boy and girl. As soon as he spotted them, their backs seemed to stab deep into his consciousness. It was like something he had previously failed to notice had risen rapidly through his mind.
“What do we do now?”
“I have the sample I wanted. Simply put, we don’t need him anymore.”
“But I get the feeling he’ll get into some super-sized trouble if we just let him go.”
“But who’s supposed to pass judgment on him and how? There isn’t an actual crime the police can charge him with.”
“Okay, fine. How about this?”
The horribly careless-sounding male voice continued.
“Let’s leave him here for about half an hour. We’ll let the girls he was controlling pass judgment. Don’t worry. If he’s innocent, they’ll probably tend to his hurt head.”
Makihara Youji squeezed out his voice.
The fear finally seeped out past the confusion. But the boy and girl did not seem to care. Their footsteps continued and they left.
“Wait!! Please wait! Don’t leave me…don’t leave me here!!”
He could not move.
And the other boy had a Girl’s Backdoor in his hand as he left. It was obvious where he had gotten it. Makihara Youji had lost the source of the power that had made him special.
Outside his field of vision, he heard several noises that sounded disturbingly like people picking up metal bars. Sweat poured from his entire body and he felt a squeezing pain in his heart.
It was all a waste of time and effort.
That dull and boring prison once more stole all depth from Makihara Youji’s world.
“Hey, wait! Please help me!!”
The footsteps stopped for just a moment.
When the voice reached him, Makihara was already in tears.
“I will help you.”
“Once the half hour is up.”
That was all.
When he heard the door close, it was more like being buried alive than being imprisoned.
Several people peered down at Makihara’s face.
The emotion in the girls’ eyes was as unfathomable as an insect’s.
- The vessel named Isabelle takes part in battles based on the personal reward she will receive.
- Based on Kyousuke and Isabelle’s conversations, the two of them took on some kind of job before binding their contract for the midair battle.
- Umie Shouko (aka the former Rainy Girl) remembers the deathless world incident that was altered and erased from existence.
- The behavior and outfits of summoners and vessels comes from a general desire to see just how far from the normal world they have grown. (According to Shiroyama Kyousuke)
- Makihara Youji, user of Girl’s Backdoor, was already defeated. For analysis purposes, Kyousuke retrieved the glove device thought to be Girl’s Backdoor.
- Kyousuke and Isabelle parted ways ahead of time in order to determine Makihara Youji’s location and prepare for their attack.
- They do not know for sure, but they doubt this ends with Makihara Youji alone. In fact, they are guessing the true villain has yet to be seen.
|Back to Opening X-02||Return to Main Page||Forward to Stage 02|