The Unexplored Summon Blood Sign:Volume5 Chapter2

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Stage 02: A Certain Boy’s Warm Days, Both Sides[edit]

“What about Alice (with) Rabbit?”

“Now we’ll never be separated again!!”

(Stage 02 Open 10/07 22:00 “Before the War”)

A Certain Boy’s Warm Days, Both Sides

Part 1[edit]

A month passed.

“Wait, Kyousuke.”

In a room the size of a midsized movie theater in the Miniature Garden’s Inner Circle, a muffled female voice spoke through a spacesuit colored white with pink stripes. The girl inside was supposedly a Scandinavian beauty, but was that really true?

“Stop ignoring that Queen and go look after her.”

“…It’s not like she belongs to me.”

“You know no one but you can communicate with her. When we talk to her, she only gives that nyah smile and repeats the word ‘brother’. I doubt that monster even understands her ABCs.”

Kyousuke mussed up his bangs.

Instead of the thin surgical gown, he now wore a red and black T-shirt and shorts. It was apparently the uniform of some soccer club or another. When they had seen him refusing to change out of the surgical gown because he only cared about functionality, Humpty Dumpty and the Dodo had dragged him into the walk-in closet, argued that he could not reject something if it was even more functional, and forced him to try on several outfits. This was one of those.

Yes, Kyousuke had started interacting with them.

While isolated in his group with Biondetta and Kyoumi, they had seemed like inhuman symbols of siblings, but once he started speaking with them, he found they were normal (if oddly dressed) people.

“So where is the Queen…?”

When he sighed and asked that, the answer came from a girl far younger than his 10 years. She was Shiroyama Junri. Perhaps because she had drawn the card for the Duchess, she forced herself to wear bewitching Western mourning clothes. She also wore crossed sash strings to carry a baby doll on her back.

“She’s struggling to reach something in the kitchen. Oh, I mean the one in the west block. Even with those specs, she apparently starts crying when she can’t reach the chips on top shelf. But those wouldn’t be very good for her health, so helping her would be neither here nor there.”

“That’s not quite how you use that phrase. And I can’t believe her. It wasn’t that long ago that she got flipped over in an empty bathtub and couldn’t get out.”

None of this sounded like the actions of the strongest of the strongest and the peak of the Unexplored-class.

But Claudia Shiroyama explained the law of nature behind it like it was obvious.

“That monster just wants you to go help her. You’re her knight in shining armor, so go galloping over to her.”

He did not know how serious they were about that, but it would be a major problem if he caused her to lose her temper which he had never seen her do. It was possible the entire Miniature Garden would collapse and bury them all alive.

After getting over his exasperation, Kyousuke finally opened his mouth.

“Then I’ll be going.”

“Sure thing. That’s how boys are supposed to act.”

The spacesuit laughed in response.

He had never expected they would be laughing together like this.

And it was more than just Humpty Dumpy in her white and pink spacesuit. It was everything. Somehow, the Miniature Garden seemed different from before. The Relective Graph showing their bonds was much more calm and stable and their lines were grouped much closer together. The tense atmosphere had vanished and the reason…no, the trigger could not have been more obvious.

The White Queen had appeared and been fixed in place.

Just before leaving the large room, Kyousuke glanced at the screen so large a home theater could not hope to compare. The lights were on and the screen had vaguely lost its outline, but it clearly showed a list of names.

It was the usual ranking board.

Except none of the 15 paid any attention to it anymore.

“…”

The world was surprisingly hard to destroy.

It had not audibly fallen apart as soon as the White Queen appeared.

It had been novel, disconcerting, and a lot like being in the same room as a bomb that should have exploded but did not. He did not want it to explode, but he could not relax while it did not either.

It was an uneasy feeling.

And much like the suspension bridge effect, it brought waves of various emotions to Kyousuke.

“Kyousuke-kun.”

A graceful woman’s voice reached his ears.

He turned around to find a developer in a lab coat and tight suit approaching.

It was Shigara Masami, aka Madam Professor, a developer from Government.

“What brings you here?”

“Nothing really.”

She had viewed the Mock Battlefield in the same way as Kyousuke, but she finally spoke.

“I think it’s a good thing.”

“?”

“However it happened, all conflict has vanished. I think you should honestly accept that fact, no matter what everyone else says.”

“…”

“Ah ha ha. I am a little sad fewer kids are coming to my classes now that ‘that girl’ showed up, so you’re my mental oasis for continuing to attend. Bye.”

She laughed, spoke, and left.

Kyousuke could not move for a while.

However it had happened, all conflict had vanished.

It was the white.

That being had done it.

The rankings had ceased to be updated on that day.

That meant they had all stopped holding mock battles at the Mock Battlefield.

They had reached the Queen.

Now that their goal had been achieved by a different method, the giant facility was simply drifting in the wind like a cicada shell or a dried flower.

This was now a world devoid of conflict.

It was a peaceful world where the family did not need to fight itself.

Part 2[edit]

Perhaps their initial assumption had been wrong.

Perhaps the White Queen would not necessarily destroy the balance and spread endless destruction.

Yes, just like the current situation.

Perhaps the Queen could end all conflict and save people if she was used correctly.

Part 3[edit]

When Kyousuke entered the kitchen bordering the cafeteria in his T-shirt and shorts, he found the situation had changed somewhat from what the 7-year-old Duchess had told him.

The “White” Queen who Wields the Sword of Unsullied Truth (iu – nu – fb – a – wuh – ei –kx – eu – pl – vjz).

The twintail girl who truly was mankind’s ultimate weapon had given up on the potato chips on the shelf and was instead crying down on the floor.

“Wahhh.”

It was like “that” was the only word she could say.

It was like some kind of seal had been placed on her.

“Wahhhhh. Brother, brother…”

But when Kyousuke walked in, she started using new words, like a switch had been thrown. She suddenly seemed to understand her ABCs.

“Ah! Brother!!”

The tears vanished in an instant.

With the full-faced smile of a small child, she did not even bother getting up and dragged herself across the floor to reach Kyousuke.

“Where did you go!? And I want to eat the quatro cheese flavor. That white crunchy stuff!”

“…”

———Kill the Queen.

———Eliminate the source of the conflict that will destroy the balance between the two worlds.

“What is it, ****?”

“Well, well you see…”

The White Queen shook her head while wrapping her arms tightly around Kyousuke’s waist.

She shook her head fiercely.

“Everyone’s so mean to me.”

“?”

“They say I shouldn’t bother you. They say the strongest of the strongest shouldn’t have so much trouble with these things. They say I should do everything myself. They say I should stop playing around with this creepy civility and instead show off the power of the strongest.”

She sniffled.

She pouted her lips in a way not even Kyousuke would.

“They say I can’t be part of your family since I’m not one of the 15. They say I can’t stay with you because my lifespan is different from a human’s. They say a summoner and a Material can’t be together.”

———Deceive her for that.

———Win her trust, earn your freedom, and pave the way to a miracle that lasts but a moment.

“Y’know, ****, that isn’t going to happen.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Really, really? You aren’t going anywhere, brother?”

The small boy looked up at the girl’s red and swollen eyes and nodded just once. He did not need to think about it at all. It was the carefree answer of someone confirming the obvious.

“We’re never going to change and I’m not going anywhere. I’ll stay by your side, ****. If you’re that worried, how about we make a promise?”

The boy in a T-shirt and shorts held out his right hand’s little finger.

“?”

“We make promises like this. It’s called a pinky swear.”

“What kind of effect does this ritual have, brother?”

“Well.”

———So that promise was broken from the moment it was made.

———You had lied from the moment you swore not to lie.

“If you break your promise, you have to cut off your own finger.”

Little finger wrapped around little finger.

He used a chair to reach the snack bag on the top shelf and that was enough for the strongest being to jump for joy.

“Brother! Then, then! Let’s eat it together. I want to have a party! If you open the back of the bag vertically like this…”

He perfectly smiled.

He perfectly accompanied her.

He perfectly found topics for conversation.

Once it was over and the White Queen continued to follow him around everywhere, he asked her to wait in his room.

And once her back disappeared, Kyousuke breathed a quiet sigh.

The sound of his fist hitting his own cheek rang through the Miniature Garden’s passageway.

Humans were truly unreasonable creatures, so there were times when they cannot stand perfection.

Part 4[edit]

The truth was found hidden behind a single thin layer.

In that dimly-lit room with a wall lined with flat-screen monitors, the gothic lolita kimono girl known as Humanism laughed.

“How young of you, boy.”

There was clear scorn in her voice, but also a hint of sadness.

That monster had achieved Award 2799 and she had extended her roots of experience out to the limits of the world she could perceive, so she released prophetic-seeming words.

“That is something everyone considers, but that no one can achieve. Surely you knew that before you arrived at the Miniature Garden.”

“Keh,” spat out the king of Illegal who rested his crossed legs on the table. “And you call yourself Humanism? You claim to praise humanity, but you don’t seem to understand human beings in the slightest.”

“Oh?”

“There’s one thing that humans will seek even if they know it’s wrong: an ideal. We aren’t machines that can throw out all the rusted components just because we claim correctness is everything. Personally, I’m relieved. That kid has the eyes of a precision guided missile’s sensor head, but now I know he’s more than just that.”

“That kindness will hinder the plan.”

“Oh, shut up. If you bring about the ideal but lose your heart in the process, that’s just another way for ruin to set in.”

Government and Illegal silently glared at each other.

The atmosphere was too tense for the surrounding operators to even gulp. They contradictorily wanted their hearts to stop beating so loudly so that they could survive.

The only one with any freedom there was the beauty in a Taoist outfit who had been nodding off.

She was the ruler of Freedom and a resident of the world of sleep.

“But I do see how this situation might not be so bad.” She muttered under her breath while rubbing her eyes. “It’s because the White Queen is so much more powerful than us humans that we don’t end up with a gloomy and sordid situation even with all our weapons. That’s why the humans of the three major powers can speak like this. We don’t attack on our own and we aren’t destroyed on our own. Yeah, mankind is hopeless when we bind ourselves and divide ourselves with the national borders we made up. Ahh, ahh. If only a giant saucer would attack from space…”

It was a hopeless opinion.

But that ruler of the free had dug down to a truth rudely blocking their way.

“…”

“…”

Humanism and Open Bluff looked away.

Once this conflict was over, what came next?

That was the deep, silent, and weighty question. Freedom had given up and decided they did not care what happened, but Government and Illegal each had something to protect. They doubted they could protect it during an all-out war between the three major powers and they doubted the flames of war would entirely vanish even if peace was announced between the three major powers.

They hated the White Queen, but her presence did support something.

“…That is a dangerous idea.”

The representative of Government slowly shook her head.

Thinking like that meant her soul had already been captured by a powerful attraction.

That was what her tone of voice said.

“It’s true I don’t know what the ‘next age’ will look like.” Illegal’s leader sighed and placed a thick cigar in his mouth. “But I want our age to be the last one that places kids with that look in their eyes on the front line.”

A quiet laugh followed.

It came from Perfect Equilibrium who had just about fallen into the world of sleep.

“What a romanticist.”

“Don’t be silly. Someone who can’t fight for their own ideal can’t turn their back on the cold system we call the world’s correctness.”

Part 5[edit]

“Mumble, mumble…”

In his T-shirt and shorts, Kyousuke spotted the White Queen in the cafeteria.

She was napping with her head down on a table.

Perhaps because he had helped the queen get the chips down from the shelf and made that promise with her, she was often found wandering around the kitchen or cafeteria. She may have found comfort in that connection to a pleasant memory.

The demon whispered in his ear.

————This should be a good thing. It hasn’t left the plan.

————Earning the target’s trust is undoubtedly the first step toward assassination.

“…”

The White Queen had a beauty that surpassed divine and seemed to drag his soul away if he looked at her for too long, but seeing her twintails splayed out on the table and the drool dripping from the corner of her half-opened mouth, she looked just like a small child.

He did not know if the strongest of the strongest could catch cold, but he approached and placed a hand on her shoulder.

“C’mon, wake up, ****.”

These situations were tricky with a being who had the ultimate offense and defense. She could shrug off an attack from a being beyond the gods, so he doubted a human whispering in her ear or shaking her would be much of a stimulus. He could only be thankful that she did not blow the country off the map when she tossed and turned in her sleep.

“Nnn.”

So when the White Queen said that, he doubted it was due to his futile efforts.

Was she half asleep or was it some kind of reflex?

She did not open her eyes and she sleepily shook her head before placing her lips around Kyousuke’s index finger.

“…”

“Mhh…hhh…”

She gently bit it with her white teeth and licked at it with the tip of her tongue.

Instead of a small child, she was now more like a baby with a bottle placed in front of her.

He let her do it for a while, but then he tilted his head and spoke again.

“…What are you doing?”

“Zzz…hm? Brother???”

Even after opening her eyes, she did not remove his finger from her mouth. She acted just like a kitten being loved on by its mother.

“I’m hungry…”

“If you need nutrients, I can get you a vitamin pill or a gelatin drink.”

“Mhh, mhh! Brother, isn’t there something else?”

“…Hm.”

Kyousuke was honestly not that interested in food. He took the White Queen into the kitchen with him and spotted…

“Oh, they have canned foods.”

“Rejected.”

“I’ve heard hardtack doesn’t actually taste that bad these days.”

“Double rejected.”

She opposed every one of his ideas like that.

There was only one thing left that Kyousuke thought he could fix for her.

“Cereal?” she asked.

“Yeah. You just have to pour it into a bowl and add in the milk from the fridge.”

There was no real meaning to it.

He thought it was just one of the options she would reject.

But the White Queen did not react as expected.

“Okay, that should work.”

“?”

“Heh heh heh. This is the first meal made for me by my brother!”

He had not “made” anything. He had only poured cereal and milk in a bowl and stuck a spoon in it, but the White Queen was so delighted that she started eating it right then and there without carrying it back to the cafeteria.

So Kyousuke decided to protest a little.

“Wait.”

“No. It’s too late to take it from me now!”

“Not that. I’m not too knowledgeable on the subject, but I hear you can put more than milk in. Like yogurt and dried fruit.”

He felt like he had to put in at least that much of an effort.

After he rummaged through the cabinets and refrigerator and added some more ingredients, he realized it now had nearly three times as many calories.

The White Queen smiled innocently, but Biondetta or Kyoumi probably would have punched him in her place.

“More, brother!!”

“Yes, yes.”

“You need to eat it with me, brother!”

However, he did not feel like getting another bowl dirty.

And with all the extra sugar and calories from his additions, it was probably just right to be shared by two.

“Excuse me, then.”

“Ah!”

When he stuck his own spoon in the large bowl, the White Queen blushed for some reason.

“What?”

“The same bowl…eating the same food…that makes this an indirect kiss! This is a day for celebration!!”

“…”

At any rate, the world was at peace.

He no longer had to worry about Biondetta and Kyoumi falling victim to the Summoning Ceremony.

They no longer had to fight with the Jabberwock or Humpty Dumpty.

It was all thanks to the White Queen.

It was all thanks to her standing at the peak.

So…

———Isn’t that great? Now you can focus on killing the Queen with no distractions.

———It’s all thanks to her. You need to thank her.

“…”

The demon whispered in his ear.

The young boy stared at his nemesis and hid all that in his heart.

And he used his reeling mind to think.

What was the right thing to do?

Part 6[edit]

BloodSign v05 167.jpg

The Mock Battlefield had stopped.

They no longer had to repeat those dangerous Summoning Ceremony battles that were too much for the facility’s safety features.

That was a good sign.

Or it should have been.

“Tah dah.”

A pink-haired girl put her hands on her hips and revealed her outfit to Kyousuke.

It was Biondetta Shiroyama.

She wore something like a white and pink waitress uniform.

“What is that?”

“Heh heh. The Queen of Hearts finally finished the outfit I asked for!”

Biondetta spun around on the spot as if to say, “Look, look!”

She was a waitress with devil horns and tail.

“I’m not sure I get the concept.”

Oh? Doesn’t it sound romantic to make a contract and then lend a helping hand in someone’s fight? Yes. For example, something really emotional like a fight for revenge or retribution. I couldn’t be your big sister unless I was at least that insane.

“…!?”

Something bothered Kyousuke about that.

It was like a smoothly moving record needle suddenly catching.

What had Biondetta just said?

What had she mentioned like it was no more than casual conversation?

“?”

The demon actually looked puzzled. She did not seem to understand what he found so odd.

And before he could figure anything out, the situation continued to develop.

“Oh, Kyoumi.”

Biondetta’s face brightened.

But the other girl did not even look over. That high school aged girl had somewhat droopy black eyebrows, loved to make costumes, and had made a White Queen one based on the paintings and sculptures in the gallery. She was the big sister they all relied on.

There was no sign of that anymore.

Her head swayed as if her body weight was swinging it around and she muttered something under her breath.

“It’s hopeless…”

It may have been wrong to compare them.

It was well made for something put together by human hands.

But the white dress she dragged behind her had frays, wrinkles, and stains in places.

“I was deadly wrong to look up to her. I never should have reached for the sun. Everyone must be laughing at me. They’re comparing me to the real one and laughing at me…”

Had she not noticed them or was she just ignoring them?

Shiroyama Kyoumi never did turn around and walked off somewhere.

Something invisible seemed to be tangled around her. And Kyousuke was worried because he had pulled the trigger.

The ranking board on the wall never changed.

It was like the brown dried leaves that stubbornly stayed on the branch even when winter came and they lost their power of photosynthesis.

At the very least, he had not done the wrong thing.

Even now, the 15 were avoiding any direct threat.

“What are you looking at?”

But that lifeless voice pierced through his heart.

He turned around to find someone had approached without him noticing. That boy’s messy blond hair and brown skin had lost their shine and he looked terribly emaciated, but his eyes alone gave off a bright light.

It was Alberto S. Divinesmith the Hatter.

He had once been – and technically still was – the summoner at the top of the ranking board.

But no one in the Miniature Garden visited the Mock Battlefield any longer, so that meant nothing. And he likely understood that better than anyone.

No.

He may have understood it too well.

“You’re…goddammit…you’re making fun of me. Don’t look at your elders like that. I! I am an undefeated summoner! I am talented!! I haven’t changed!! It’s everyone else who’s changed!!”

“…”

Biondetta shrunk down, but she still stood in front of Kyousuke.

Even after losing the ranking board, she continued to be his “big sister”.

How did that strength – that light – look to the Hatter?

His face twisted, his voice caught in his throat, and he exploded with anger.

“To hell with you! What is…what is with this position!? How did I end up in this miserable position!? I…that’s right…I haven’t changed at all!!

Something could be heard cracking.

The Hatter may have clenched his back teeth so hard one of them broke.

“Do you enjoy hogging the strongest to yourself!? Well, do you, Kyousuke!? The Summoning Ceremony was supposed to be open equally to everyone. If you hadn’t done something weird, the Queen’s power would have been distributed to everyone. You twisted this world!! That’s why…goddammit…that’s why I-…!!”

Just before he raised a fist clenched harder than stone, something else happened.

Brother?”

The world froze.

Alberto had been boiling like magma, but he came to a stop.

Cracks formed across his heart, as if it could not bear the rapid change in temperature.

It was painful to look at, but anyone would have been the same. His entire body trembled and he bit his lip. He could no longer move. He had built up his brand around being the oldest and an excellent summoner, but that pride was stolen from him.

It was the White Queen.

When she was here, what meaning did physical strength and the Summoning Ceremony have? How could any remain? That monster would end any battle the instant she was summoned, so how could an individual who had her on his side be defeated?

He was #1.

He was the hero of the ranking board.

He saw beauty in his madness and he found value in what no one could understand. He had even placed his own death on the scales and had not hesitated to wear away his own life for temporary pleasure.

That was the monster he should have been.

But he was not.

“〰〰〰!!!!!!”

That shell of his former self could no longer speak a single word.

Kyousuke and Biondetta saw something as they stood in front of him.

That absolute cliff, that summoner who had created such overwhelming pressure, wordlessly wept. But not at the Queen’s intensity. He wept at how worthless he felt when he was unable to do a thing while faced with a threat and standing before a powerful enemy.

He feared for his life.

And someone ranked below him had seen that fear.

Those were tears he had needed to keep hidden.

To him, letting young Kyousuke and Biondetta see those tears was a sin he needed to confess to god.

There was nothing he could do.

The Hatter turned his back and left. He ran off. There was nothing Kyousuke or Biondetta could do either. Those inexperienced children could not have known whether or not they should call out to the back of that fleeing hero.

“Are you okay?”

Their far too cruel savior asked that question.

It was a voice brimming with humanity like that of an older girl rubbing their head. It was very unlike the White Queen and they finally caught on.

“…Kyoumi.”

“Sorry.”

The girl dressed like the Queen crouched down and hugged Kyousuke and Biondetta.

“Sorry for ignoring you before. I didn’t know what to do or how to look you in the eye. But when I heard the Hatter shouting, I finally decided to return. …I could deadly understand when I saw it from the outside. I probably looked the same to you.”

“No, you-…”

Biondetta started to respond with her face buried in the Queen of Hearts’ chest.

But the arms around her and Kyousuke squeezed harder and sealed off those words.

“No. You mustn’t forgive me.”

It was a kind voice.

But there was a tremor of instability in it.

“If you do, I’ll lose the chance to forgive myself. Yes, I’ll be honest. The darkness inside me still hasn’t gone away. I doubt it ever will go away. It might grow or shrink, but…yes…my hatred of you will never completely go away. That’s what I think.”

“…”

“You can think of it as a ridiculous and immature grudge if you want. So Kyousuke…and Biondetta too. Don’t trust me. Don’t turn your back on me. Don’t think I’ve opened up to you. Always keep your guard up, always doubt me, and always keep me away. …Please, I deadly mean it. Don’t show a heartwarming opening and turn me into the worst possible sister who lays a hand on her own family.”

What were they supposed to do?

How would a grownup act at a time like this?

Kyousuke and Biondetta had no way of knowing, so they simply hugged their kind sister back.

They did not want to let her go.

But they had to eventually.

While wrapped in that warmth, Kyousuke felt the world, the hope, and the possibility he had imagined rapidly falling apart.

———The Hatter hasn’t done anything wrong and the Queen of Hearts isn’t wrong.

———The White Queen is simply there. She has not actually done anything wrong.

(Then how did this happen…?)

Looking only at the result, it was purely negative.

This vicious cycle would probably continue forever as long as the White Queen remained.

Their brother had his pride torn away and their sister had been crushed by the difference between the ideal and the reality. And if those siblings were like this, then what about the adults who stood above the children? How far was their distortion accelerating?

But…

Even so…

(An evil that does nothing wrong.)

Kyousuke clenched his teeth.

As a mere pawn and as a precision guided missile that had been fired, it may have been wrong of him to worry about this while making a show of thinking. He had been told who to aim at and to pull the trigger, so there was no reason to stare at and agonize over the list of suspects. It might solve everything if he skipped past all that and faithfully obeyed his instructions.

And yet he could not help but think about it.

He could not help but wonder why the world had been twisted in such a coldhearted way.

(Is defeating her really the right thing to do?)

That night, Shiroyama Kyousuke visited Shigara Masami’s lab.

She showed him the Relective Graph.

That line graph measured the 15 children’s bonds and changed in real time.

He saw exactly what he expected.

They were completely scattered.

Part 7[edit]

Kyousuke and Biondetta were both worn out.

No matter how well-supplied the Miniature Garden was, there was no escape from the dryness running rampant there.

There was only one of the Queen.

That was completely normal, but she was so very powerful that even that condition seemed unfair, unequal, unreasonable, and unacceptably absurd.

Why did she not appear to everyone the same?

And that was why Biondetta made a suggestion.

“I’ll take you to a secret place.”

“?”

His luck may have run out when he went with her.

Waitress Biondetta suddenly started toward the spider web’s Outer Circle and he felt a jolt run through his body when she removed a panel on the outermost wall.

(She knows what’s hidden behind those walls!?)

That revelation might turn Kyousuke and Biondetta against each other.

The truly powerful might order him to silence her.

But his fears proved groundless.

The removed panel did not lead to a room with flat-screen monitors lining the wall. It only led to a long, narrow smokestack-like hole with a metal ladder leading up it.

“Hurry up. They might seal this hole if they discover it.”

“What is this?”

“They probably made a mistake when installing the ducts. These kinds of mistakes are pretty common and I’ve even heard about a time an amusement park’s drinking water accidentally had industrial water hooked up instead.”

In other words, it was a secret route that did not exist on the blueprints.

Were the truly powerful unaware of this? Or did they know but had left it be?

After Biondetta ducked in, Kyousuke followed her into the smokestack-like space. The wall panel could apparently be closed up from the inside.

Biondetta stuck a pen light behind her ear with practiced hand and started climbing the ladder.

“Now, let’s get going.”

“Where to?”

“Up.”

After that one-word answer, the little demon smiled and chose another word.

“No, outside.”

It was a long journey from there.

The Miniature Garden was 500 meters straight down from the surface. That rivalled the height of a national broadcast tower. Climbing that height using a staircase would be an event in and of itself, but they were using a ladder. If their grip weakened or their hand slipped on their sweat, they would fall into the emptiness below.

“Biondetta, I’m going to be honest.”

“About what? Your surprise now that you know the secret to my health and beauty?”

“With you climbing first, I can see right up your skirt. Even your panties are striped white and pink?”

He received a serious heel kick in response.

However, they were already more than 100 meters up, so they could not swap positions now.

After some difficulty, they made it to the top.

Their ability to do so was more proof that the Miniature Garden’s children far surpassed the average both physically and mentally. Even if Biondetta was not working for the secret project behind the main project like Kyousuke was, she was still a monster.

She pushed up a square cover to reveal an orange light and a gust of wind.

The Miniature Garden was managed even more carefully than the natural world, but being outside still felt liberating.

Kyousuke followed Biondetta out and then stared at the twilit world for a while.

He saw a bumpy hill and tropical-looking trees approaching up to a short distance away.

The wind carried the salty scent of the ocean and a flock of birds flew away overhead.

Kyousuke said nothing unnecessary.

He simply stood there in front of that scenery.

And he spoke a single word with all the pretty fat carved away.

“…Wow.”

“Heh heh heh. That’s the best praise I could hope for! But not so fast. The view looking down from here is the best!!”

Waitress Biondetta pulled on his hand and walked toward the small hill.

The large forest of tropical nature was dyed in the colors of twilight.

No one would suspect that scene of isolated nature actually had an underground world hidden below. The ground was more damp white sand than dirt.

“The land is moving. It was a series of islands when I arrived.”

“It’s apparently called a wandering land.”

Kyousuke stood next to Biondetta and viewed the scenery from the top of the small hill.

The land below was changing form like an amoeba. The land was barely above sea level and there were probably undersea tunnels all over the place. Instead of sinking during high tide, it was impossible to tell where the land or sea would grow, so it seemed to move like a living creature.

“The fine sand carried here from the mouth of a mainland river apparently accumulated like this thanks to the ocean currents. The combination of the tides and the complex currents created by the countless undersea tunnels causes the land’s shape and location to endlessly change.”

When Kyousuke had been taken here, he had seen a string of small islands, but now the orange-dyed sand continued beyond the horizon and the ocean consumed it from within in places. This scene would not continue forever and he could guess it would separate out into a few islands eventually. It was possible the scenery never looked the same two days in a row. As the sea level rose from the tides, islands would respond by periodically sinking and surfacing, but there was no regularity to be found here.

The amoeba-like changes were seen in the shallow accumulation of sand only a dozen or so centimeters above sea level. The entrance to the Miniature Garden they had left through and the bridge spanning the dozen or so kilometers between the distant mainland and another large island were built on the more elevated areas, so they would not be swallowed up no matter how much the land changed.

It looked like land, but it was not land. It looked like an island, but it was not an island. It looked like the ocean, but it was not the ocean.

A single deep shaft opened deep underground in that fantastical place. That strange combination of the definite and the vague played a role of its own.

It felt like the entrance to another world.

It had the same mystical feeling as the rabbit hole that the eternal girl fell into. It was said she fell for so long she lost any sense of time and could grab a jar from a shelf on the wall.

“Well, it’s a lot like a knee-height shoal that continues as far as the eye can see, so it wouldn’t be very good for swimming. And just like a shoal, it’ll catch you by surprise when it suddenly gets really deep.”

“That’s not very nice of it.”

“I know.”

The long, long bridge had quite a few vehicles driving on it, but the trucks could not see the children. And the bridge was so long that it was a lot like a highway. There was no exit until the end, so none of the vehicles would stop on the island and yelling would not reach them. Even a professional opera singer could only project their voice 200 meters at best. And as summoners, normal people would forget they existed when not in the people’s field of vision. Whether or not their voices reached did not matter all that much.

But Waitress Biondetta did not seem to be hoping for that.

She was not hoping to be rescued.

For one thing, she had no guarantee there was a place for her in the outside world.

There was a reason each of the 15 had been chosen, even if it was not as important as Kyousuke’s reason.

She held her hair against the chilly wind and viewed the never-ending scenery.

“See? It was worth all that effort, wasn’t it?”

“…It was.”

He answered honestly, so Biondetta giggled while her short skirt fluttered in the wind.

“Given how deep underground we were, this is like climbing a small mountain, so we need a breathtaking view when we look down from the top like this.”

“Do you always do this, Biondetta?”

“Call me Detta. …And they’d notice if I did it all the time. But I end up coming here when I need to cheer myself up.”

That meant this was one such time.

She too must have been affected by the stifling atmosphere.

“Hey, Kyousuke.”

“What?”

“I realized something when I saw how Kyoumi was acting. Or rather, I finally had confirmation.”

She spoke honestly as if she were facing her own sins.

I hate you.

“…”

“You have all the power you could want and you could look down on everyone, but you’ve abandoned that card and you lower your gaze to our level. I hate you for that. You reject the image of big sister I had imagined and you kindly tore my ideal image of a big sister to pieces. I hate you so very much for that. But part of me doesn’t want it to end with hate. There’s a part of my heart that definitely wants to continue being your big sister.”

He was not trying to do that.

But he had no right to make that excuse.

After all, he held a secret even greater than the truth stabbing into Biondetta’s heart. This was all a farce meant to kill the Queen. He knew the project manipulating the 15’s lives had been utter nonsense from the beginning.

He had known that, but he had kept silent.

Because he knew they would have to be killed if they learned the truth.

So…

“What am I supposed to do?”

“Well.”

He thought she would tell him to stay away from her or to stop speaking with her.

But he was wrong.

Biondetta Shiroyama placed a hand on the center of her chest and made her announcement.

“If I do anything remotely suspicious, kill me right away. I don’t care how. You can hit me on the back of the head when I’m not looking or you can face me head-on and crush me with the White Queen. If you do that, I can remain your big sister to the very end.”

The supposedly perfect precision guided missile had no idea how to respond.

It was crumbling.

Everything was audibly falling apart.

What was power?

What did it meant to be the strongest?

He could not stop this horrifying trend that was neither good nor evil. He could only watch as everything was swept toward ruin. So could he really say he had all the power he could want?

“I…”

Just as he tried to open his mouth, something happened.

A nearby bush rustled.

“!”

Waitress Biondetta quickly stepped in front of Kyousuke. As always, she was a big sister through and through. Even if that role had been placed on her, she found meaning in fulfilling it.

Kyousuke bit his lip as she protected him.

A large man with long blond hair worn in a ponytail appeared before them. He gave off the conflicting impression of both a nobility enjoying tea in his palace and a pirate wreaking havoc on the seas in his ship.

There was no way they would run into someone with no connection to the Miniature Garden here.

Was he part of the official project, or was he part of the secret project to kill the Queen?

Biondetta glared up at him with a challenge in her eyes, but the blond man only scratched his head in annoyance.

He looked more to Kyousuke than Biondetta when he spoke.

“I’d really rather avoid any trouble, so I’ll pretend I didn’t see anything.”

That answered Kyousuke’s question.

He was from the secret project. Kyousuke had to be careful about what information Biondetta was given. His response here could put her life at risk, even if he himself would be spared.

This man acted like a regal predator.

He was like a lion.

Kyousuke guessed he was from the team meant to kill the Queen. After Kyousuke sewed their prey here, this man’s team would directly kill her. Those incarnations of violence could overturn the assumption that the battle was over as soon as the White Queen was summoned.

He had a different sort of strength from a scout and spy like Kyousuke.

“Get going already. And be more careful next time. There are some twisted people out there who actually get excited by trouble.”

“…”

Kyousuke did not speak his mind.

Even a yes or a no would let Biondetta know he was on a similar level to this man. And that would be bad. Not for Kyousuke, though. It would be very, very bad for Biondetta.

He would not let her be silenced.

He would not accept any order to kill her.

He would protect her.

He would protect his family no matter what.

Was it wrong to feel that way? Would it be easier if he simply made an “adjustment” to match the situation?

He turned his back on that logic.

No. He did not want to get rid of that anguish.

He did not want to erase the part of him that worried for his family.

The blond man must have seen the iron will in Kyousuke’s eyes because he did not say anything more. He calmly walked past the two children and disappeared into a different part of the woods.

Kyousuke slowly exhaled.

But then some words stabbed right into his heart.

“…I’m just not cut out to be a big sister, am I?”

Part 8[edit]

And in the twilit forest, the large blond man lightly punched a nearby tree trunk.

“What is that brat doing?” he spat out in irritation. “He’s way too cool…”

The fine tropical sand and the solidly healthy trees were beautiful, but they also absorbed his low voice. The wandering land phenomenon was incredibly rare, but the constantly changing shape of the land made sea charts useless and lots of ships would run aground. That weight hidden behind the beauty may have swallowed the man’s groan.

They had built the Miniature Garden here for a reason. The wandering land made it even less likely than on a desert island that someone would accidentally find their way inside, and it also did not stand out as a dangerous location. Some people went out of their way to challenge the world’s abandoned and dangerous locations. An obscure and fairly uninteresting sightseeing location had been ideal.

Then a transmission reached his radio.

It was from one of the predators hiding in the forest and waiting for that time to come.

“What is it, Claude? You’re late to check in. Did something happen?”

“No.” He looked back just once and then smoothly lied. “Nothing happened. How much longer until everything’s ready? I’m sick of napping in the trees and holding barbecue parties.”

“Don’t say that. It’s childish.”

“I suppose so.”

“Oh? You’re awfully reasonable for the heir to the prestigious Magentarain family.”

“Screw that.”

Claude Magentarain.

That ace of Freedom had once turned his back on an easy life to give a girl a life of her own. He did not hesitate to spit out his next words.

“It’s because I was sick of that stuff that I left my Government home.”

Part 9[edit]

“Brother.”

The White Queen asked an innocent question while jumping on the bed in a private room of the Miniature Garden.

This was a casual time that only Shiroyama Kyousuke could experience.

“Why are you a rabbit, brother?”

“Because of this.”

In his T-shirt and shorts, Kyousuke grabbed a largish card from the study desk and waved it around.

“It was the role I drew at the beginning. It’s probably a form of tarot.”

Tarot might make people think of magic cabals that adopted the symbols of the color gold, of roses, and of the secret techniques of the Roma, but there was not actually a single definitive version. There were quite a few original versions based on different legends such as Greek mythology or the Mabinogion.

The version used in the Miniature Garden was based on Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece.

Not even Kyousuke knew where to ultimately set his sights now that those 78 cards had been shuffled. After all, not even the adults would have expected for the White Queen to take physical form and walk freely around.

The eternal girl could not be controlled by human hands.

In that way, the failure of the cards may have pointed to the truth.

“…”

But even if he explained all that, the innocent White Queen would only tilt her head.

And he also needed to explain Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece to her.

But even if the title was known around the world, it was a story that played fast and loose with a traditional story structure. Even as Kyousuke told the story to her, he often found himself frowning and wondering if he had it right or if he was remembering it wrong. He still could not see why society at large appreciated that aspect of the story, just like enjoying the bitter innards of a roast fish.

The White Queen continued jumping on the bed from beginning to end.

Although it was hard to tell whether she liked Lewis Carroll’s story or if she simply enjoyed speaking with Kyousuke for so long.

“In other words, you’re the rabbit and I’m the eternal girl.”

“Hm? No, that’s not right. Alice came from the original world and fell into wonderland. That doesn’t apply to you, ****.”

“Yes, it does.”

She pointed at her own puzzled face.

“I fell from my original world.”

Then she pointed at Kyousuke’s face.

“And into your world.”

“…”

That was another way of looking at it.

The real world and the other world were only called that from the viewpoint of Kyousuke and the other humans living on earth. For the Queen, “over there” was her original world, so she had indeed met a rabbit in wonderland.

Was that the meaning of the cards?

By sending the various “roles” at the eternal girl, were the adults hoping to trap her in the story and control her?

No, things were too confusing to think the adults had planned all of this.

There had to be a gap between what the Miniature Garden knew and what the truly powerful knew. And the hidden group trying to kill the Queen did not think it was possible to control her.

But the symbolism was still eerily accurate.

Almost like some slight humanity had slipped inside the coldhearted system.

“The rabbit,” repeated the White Queen.

Then she started rejoicing all on her own.

“Ee hee hee! Then, then! Please guide me around to even more places tomorrow. For being called a Miniature Garden, this place is way too big. I want you to grab my hand and show me around to all the best places! It’s been a month, but there’s still a bunch I haven’t seen!!”

“…That’s right.”

“And we can’t have two different names. That makes it sound like we exist separately.”

She started sounding as ridiculous as Lewis Carroll’s story.

And as she childishly pouted her lips, the White Queen clapped her hands in front of her chest and made a suggestion.

“Then how about this!? We can come up with a new name that lets us be together!!”

“Hm?”

“Let’s see…”

She began to think.

And the peak of the peak redefined Shiroyama Kyousuke thusly…

Part 10[edit]

“What about Alice (with) Rabbit? Now we’ll never be separated again!!”

Part 11[edit]

The central Mock Battlefield was not alone in becoming an empty shell, like a cicada shell clinging to a tree.

The adults should have been busily moving about in the Outer Circle, but the many laboratories had completely ceased functioning.

The Fifteen Siblings Project.

That grand project was meant to bring all races and peoples together into a single family to end all conflict between those 7 billion people.

But it had faded away in the face of the White Queen.

And it was obvious why the project itself had not actually been canceled. They did not want to waste this. The penicillin extracted from blue mold had been discovered when it accidentally got into the Petri dish being used for a different experiment. The White Queen existed in a miraculous balance and there was no guarantee they would receive the same result if they tried again in an identical Miniature Garden, so they could not take this one apart.

Shigara Masami breathed a deep sigh at their situation. As always, a scrunchie held her black hair in a waist-length ponytail and she wore a lab coat over her dark blue tight suit.

The Miniature Garden project would fail sooner or later.

That was fine. Her goal was nothing as grand as saving the human race. She only wanted to rescue the 15 children set to be crushed by that process and she wanted to prepare a place for them in the wide world out there. She only wanted to add some human kindness into the purely coldhearted system.

But she had not expected it to keep running even after it failed. The patrons and sponsors that had interfered without her knowledge were especially painful. They wanted to alter the project as they saw fit and saving the human race was a laughable idea to them. A method of controlling the White Queen would look much more desirable.

So much so that they would readily place 15 lives on the scales.

The Mock Battlefield was no longer in use, but once those sponsors found a new way to play in the mud, they would send those 15 right back to hell. And it would escalate endlessly until the miracle before their eyes faded away.

“Akura-san.”

She called out to a skinny man in a jumpsuit who was carrying a cardboard box full of documents down an Outer Circle passageway. He hated the digital to the point of a phobia, and these documents were one problem that caused for him.

Blasphemous Inspiration stared at her while holding the box.

“Perfect timing. I have something to discuss with you.”

“Is it anything I might actually help you with? Unfortunately, I have no intention of carelessly messing with the White Queen.”

“Even in the face of that miracle? That is the completion of my theory! That Queen has been contained in this world. We must be but a single step away from controlling her!!”

“…”

Madam Professor toyed with the whistle hanging at her chest and calmly thought about her doubts that anything in his documents contained a path leading to the Queen herself.

(Then who filled in the holes in his theory?)

She had no proof, but she knew.

If it had not been him, the White Queen would have no reason for her acceptance of and fixation on him.

“Besides, communication with the White Queen is impossible. He is the only exception. You know why she only repeats the word ‘brother’ when speaking with anyone else, don’t you? She is calling for him. She is warning us to go through him if we want to speak with her. She is the absolute peak of the Unexplored-class that lies behind even what we call gods. We should count ourselves lucky we can even look upon her without receiving punishment from heaven.” Shigara Masami bitterly laid out her rejection. “Even if we do try to approach the White Queen, she will just ignore us entirely. And if we forcibly keep up a method she doesn’t like, you can guess how she’ll thank us, can’t you?”

“Of course.”

“The White Queen will always be the White Queen. She may look stable at the moment, but that does not mean her power has faded in the slightest. She is the strongest Unexplored-class and the peak of the peak who is reached by using even the gods of legend as stepping stones. It’s obvious what will happen if you carelessly anger her.”

She gave an obvious warning, but the man named Akura Taisaku was unfazed.

What had he been doing all this time after throwing out the Hatter? A bad feeling built up in Shigara Masami’s chest.

So she took the initiative.

“Don’t tell me you intend to interfere with him as the key? Are you going to negotiate with and persuade him? And if that doesn’t work, threaten and intimidate him? That will do nothing but anger the White Queen. The very top priority in an experiment should be the insurance of safety, not the pursuit of a result. What good is completing a killer virus if you’re the first one it infects? A developer like you must understand that.”

“Yes, I do.” The jumpsuit man remained smiling. “I gave it a lot of thought. Would I implant a bomb in Shiroyama Kyosuke’s brain or heart? Would I avoid the Queen’s direct wrath by messing with Biondetta or Kyoumi who are close to Shiroyama Kyousuke? But it was no use. The very process of ‘challenging’ that peak was mistaken. That sort of decision would be easily crushed in the face of her absurd power and unreasonable correctness. Yes, just like all the preparations of all the villains of myth and history are only used to show off the gods’ power when they are destroyed.”

“Then…?”

Blasphemous Inspiration was even more frightening for not stopping despite understanding that.

Just what taboo was he reaching for while thinking he was applying the lesson of Columbus’s egg?

“We only need to look at it in reverse.”

Electricity seemed to surge down Shigara Masami’s back.

It was not that a lack of understanding filled her with fear. She hated her ugly mind for understanding.

“The White Queen is not reacting oddly around us. The odd behavior is her ability to speak normally with Shiroyama Kyousuke. She was always insane. What we must do is search out the conditions that turn that insane being into something normal. Am I wrong?”

“Even if you do, only one person can fill that role. And there is no exchanging the roles now.”

“Don’t be so sure. There is more than one rabbit in Lewis Carroll’s story.”

“You can’t mean…”

“And the Guide Rabbit appears in a few parts of the story, but isn’t there one where he treats the eternal girl like his servant? This is not some classic masterpiece that makes your head hurt like Shakespeare or Dostoyevsky. It is a story written simply so that even children can understand, so I won’t let you say you don’t get it.”

“You can’t mean it!!”

If there had been a knife here, she might have stabbed him without a second thought.

But that would have been meaningless. It was probably already in progress below the surface. Killing Akura Taisaku alone would not stop this wicked situation.

“The 15 were given their roles, but not all 78 cards were used. It was fortunate this one was leftover,” said the gear of insanity. “Operation March Hare. That incomprehensible and simply mad individual held a tea party with the Hatter. What better role is there for a task as mad as fully controlling the Queen?”

The situation was falling apart and going insane.

For better or for worse, creating something new may have required a genius mind.

But setting history in motion only required a fool as long as they had a throne and a crown.

And of course no concern was given to the quality of the outcome.

A Happy Memory from an Unknown Point on the Timeline 2[edit]

“There’s a cake.”

Explorer #1, Biondetta, spoke up after sneaking into the kitchen by the cafeteria, opening the giant industrial refrigerator, and sticking her head inside.

“I found a cake!!”

Kyousuke looked bored after being dragged along as Explorer #2, but Biondetta was just about jumping for joy. Kyoumi sighed in the same kitchen, having just placed plastic wrap over the food she had made for those who ate late at night.

There was a homemade-looking shortcake in the refrigerator. Instead of the single slice one could buy at a convenience store, it was a whole round cake. If it was cut up, there would be enough for 10.

“Oh, you noticed it?”

“Did you make it, Kyoumi?” asked Kyousuke.

Kyoumi nodded happily, but that seemed to be about him not adding the “-san” to her name.

“No, but it seems like someone sometimes makes one and puts it in the fridge.”

The Miniature Garden only had a general supply of food.

The adults always kept the kitchen stocked with the necessary ingredients, but they did not go beyond that. If one of the 15 felt like cooking as a change of pace, they would make enough for everyone. If more than one person felt like cooking, they would split the job. If no one wanted to, they would eat nutrient blocks and cereal. That was all.

Biondetta liked to cook, but she could only cook fried eggs and toast. Kyousuke would only eat gelatin, vitamin and supplements if left to his own devices, so he never entered the kitchen in the first place. Kyoumi had an almighty repertoire that covered Japanese, Western, and Chinese cooking, so the others were gradually realizing that her days were the best.

Kyousuke and Biondetta exchanged a glance.

“I wonder who made it.”

“More importantly, are we allowed to eat it?”

“C’mon, shut the fridge already,” warned Kyoumi while casually pulling out the whole cake sitting on a large plate. “I noticed it pretty early since I was cooking. I was like, ‘oh, there’s a cake’. But it came with this note.”

“?”

Biondetta tilted her head and Kyoumi waved her hand.

At some point, a small note had appeared between her index and middle fingers.

“It says ‘first come, first serve’.”

It may have been someone’s way of thanking the siblings who cooked without any real obligation to do so.

And Kyoumi had felt bad keeping such a large cake to herself.

She set the large plate down on the counter by the sink and they all viewed the cake together. It was a large shortcake. Bright strawberries were accurately lined up like the face of a clock and it had a homemade-looking white chocolate plate and sugar sculpture doll. The plate used strawberry chocolate to spell out the words “Eat Me”. It was another reference to Lewis Carroll.

Biondetta’s eyes sparkled as she stared at the cake.

“That doll kind of looks like you, Kyoumi.”

“It might be the White Queen instead of me.”

Kyousuke’s first impression was that it looked more like Kyoumi.

The face of the cutely-proportioned doll was well made. Someone had to have carefully observed the girl. Even with the deformed proportions, it would not have been easy to make.

Kyousuke briefly thought of it like the model for an art competition.

And after some consideration…

“Maybe Biondetta would have been too flat to be interesting.”

“You were thinking something rude just now, weren’t you? I’m sure of it!”

Biondetta shouted tearfully back at him, but the situation was still underway.

Kyoumi picked up an all-purpose knife but then swapped it for a fruit knife.

“Okay, I’ll cut it. …But it’s too big for just the three of us. Kyousuke, Biondetta. Go see if any of the other siblings are around. You don’t have to find all of them if they aren’t obvious.”

“You say that, but I won’t forgive you if you start eating it on your own!!”

“Biondetta. There’s no way she could eat all that herself.”

“You don’t understand because you’re a little brother, but the chocolate plate and sugar sculpture have what’s called rarity!”

Kyousuke and Biondetta left on their errand even as they argued.

They glanced around the cafeteria, but they did not spot any of the 15.

Instead…

“Oh, you brought one of the vessels?”

Kyoumi looked surprised when she saw her two younger siblings return.

It was one of the 3 vessels prepared for the Miniature Garden. The girl was about Kyoumi’s age, she had brown skin, and she wore her blonde hair in a ponytail. The others were the thin pajama girl in the iron maiden and the silver bob cut girl with the crown of thorns, but this one sat in a wheelchair-like device. However, the chair portion was covered in metal plugs. The mental stability device was modelled after the thorny torture chair used during the middle ages.

They were very heavily equipped for vessels.

Most of the siblings had initially only viewed them from a distance due to their strange appearances, but after hesitantly approaching, they found them to be normal people. They only wore the hideous restraints due to the burden of constantly binding and canceling contracts with the 15, so it would have been misguided to fear them for it.

But that girl was not all.

A woman was pushing the wheelchair from behind.

“Shigara Masami was there.”

“It looks like Shigara is drunk.”

“Oh, how rare. You don’t usually set foot in the self-cooking space, Masami. Did you run out of snacks in your room?”

“Address adults with more respect, newcomer,” slurred Madam Professor Shigara Masami, the developer in a tight skirt suit and lab coat who had a long black ponytail. However, her shoulders were slanted, her suit was slipping off in places, and her cheeks were somewhat flushed.

She patted the head of the vessel in the wheelchair before staggering over to a locked cabinet installed separately from the industrial refrigerator.

If they wanted to, the 15 could have pried it open, but none of them were interested.

The shelves were lined with bottles.

“Uuh… I’m out of drinks in my room. Vodka, vodka…”

“Wow, are you chugging the most deadly stuff you can find?”

“Does Shigara run on an ecological engine that uses bioethanol?”

Kyoumi and Biondetta sounded exasperated, but Shigara did not seem to mind.

“I’m not drunk. I’ve only had 12 glasses of straight vodka.”

“Why are you bragging about that!? Who do you think you’re competing against!?”

Kyoumi quickly spoke up. Was that woman really expecting 10-year-olds like Kyousuke and Biondetta to care if she was the strongest at something like that? Each question only led to another.

“And it’s wrong to treat vodka like a symbol of alcoholism. It has a fairly pure flavor that doesn’t linger and it’s one of mankind’s 3 greatest inventions. Just look at the convenience store shelves. All of the fruit liqueurs tend to use either shochu or vodka! Oh, my beloved Absolium.”

At their ages, Kyousuke and Biondetta should have been wearing randoseru, so it was futile to expect them to agree. And since Shigara Masami started pouring it straight into a glass, she most certainly did not enjoy it in the normal fashion, but arguing with her was pointless. She would be the one suffering from a hangover the following morning and shouting “et tu, Absolium” with Caesar-esque rage.

And according to her…

“Hic. This is generally what happens to a grownup that trying to forget about their job.”

“Should you really be saying that when your job is to construct a perfect family here? Oh, but that’s not what matters here. The cake. Now we can divide it into 5 pieces, but can you eat sweet things, Masami?”

“You could say alcohol and sugar are both my lovers! Sergeant!!”

“Don’t talk about lovers in front of the children.”

Shigara Masami stood at a slanted angle and saluted for some reason, so Shiroyama Kyoumi raised her middle finger (even though that could not be a good lesson for the younger children either). But then Kyoumi grabbed the fruit knife again and got to work slicing the round cake.

Biondetta whispered to Kyousuke.

“(From the looks of things, Shigara didn’t make the cake.)”

“(As long as it tastes good and doesn’t harm anyone, it doesn’t matter who made it.)”

“Hey, quit your flirting over there, you little brats! Not so close together!”

Shigara Masami pushed down on them like a landslide, so Kyousuke and Biondetta ended their conversation. In fact, she had her right arm around Kyousuke’s shoulders and her left around Biondetta’s, so they had more important things to worry about.

Meanwhile, the wheelchair vessel and Kyoumi continued measuring the cake by eye and discussing how to divide it. Unlike cutting it in a cross for 4 pieces, 5 pieces required a bit of guesswork.

As a safety measure, Kyoumi told herself she would give Kyousuke and Biondetta any pieces that happened to be bigger.

“It’s still a lot for 5, but I guess it’s not too much to eat. And Kyousuke and Biondetta will have an endless tolerance for sweets at their age.”

“I-I’m the big sister! Don’t treat me like Kyousuke!!”

Biondetta blushed and argued back while the drunk rubbed her cheek against her, but she was betrayed by her eyes which were locked onto the cake.

Kyoumi did not hide her smile as she used the fruit knife to cleanly divide the round cake. Each time she transferred a piece onto a small plate, Biondetta’s eyes moved back and forth like she was watching a tennis match.

But…

“Now for the real problem,” said Kyoumi.

Biondetta was the only one to vigorously nod in agreement.

BloodSign v05 211.jpg

Kyousuke and the torture chair vessel only tilted their heads. Drunk Shigara Masami must have just wanted to get something in her empty stomach because she used a shaky finger to scoop up the cream from the fruit knife. They chose to only gently chide her.

Kyoumi took the knife from the wheelchair vessel and placed in a water-filled tray in the sink.

“I cut the cake into 5 pieces, but 2 of them are special. …The chocolate plate and the sugar sculpture. Now, who wants them!?”

“The sugar sculpture is mine!!” declared Biondetta.

“It’s clearly modelled after me, so shouldn’t you let me have it!?”

“You’re the one that said it might be the White Queen!”

“Besides, you’re always eating some kind of chocolate or waffles!”

“Don’t you understand I have Cute Girl’s Disease!? It means I die of loneliness if I don’t eat sweet things!!”

“Quit acting like you’re so frail! Let’s take this outside!!”

As the two argued, the vessel proved herself to be almost painfully mature by taking a plate holding a normal shortcake with nothing on it.

And the (supposed) adult in the room, Shigara Masami, started curling up on the floor. If they did not settle this soon, she would fall asleep right there and destroy the children’s image of grownups, making it a nightmarish form of terrorism.

Kyousuke felt he had no choice but to intervene.

“Okay, how about this?”

“You don’t get to take it for yourself and call it a compromise! We don’t need that kind of joke right now!!”

“That’s not where I was going with this.” Kyousuke grabbed the sugar sculpture doll. “If you both want it, then you just have to spit it in two.”

“Vahhhhh!! You tore off my head!!”

A tearful scream immediately followed.

Facts[edit]

  • With the White Queen living among them, the Mock Battlefield and ranking board have lost their purpose.
  • Kyousuke began thinking he could save everyone if he could use the White Queen properly. That foolish idea began to crumble away as the 15 began falling apart.
  • The White Queen did nothing wrong. But her mere presence definitely twisted her surroundings. The Relective Graph measuring the 15’s bonds grew twisted around the Queen.
  • The White Queen does not communicate with anyone besides Kyousuke. She rejects anyone else while using only the word “brother”.
  • Claude Magentarain who once saved young Azalea is taking part in the plan to kill the Queen as a member of Freedom. In addition to the truly powerful in the monitoring room, it can be assumed that several summoners and vessels are blending into the surface of the wandering land and the surrounding sea.
  • To protect the family he was given, Kyousuke refused to “correct” himself. But that strength deeply hurt Biondetta who was trying to be his big sister.
  • As the Miniature Garden is distorted by various pressures, it is advancing to a new stage. The adults are shifting toward an operation named after the March Hare.
  • The White Queen was not driven insane by anything. She was evil from the very beginning. But that evil hides itself only while she is with Kyousuke.


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