Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume3 Chapter2
Chapter 2: The Trigger. Natural_Bomb.
(November 10th – Oahu – Hotel Firefly 49th Floor – From a camera recording the proceedings.)
They were within a hotel room that was far from being the nicest in Oahu. They knew of other high class hotels suited for VIPs and facilities with suites that normal people did not even know existed, but those places could possibly have been marked by dangerous elements.
“Why are you still running that thing?”
That displeased voice belonged to a woman named Roseline Krackhart. She was the president’s aide. She was in her early thirties and had an atmosphere that made her seem extremely well suited to being a tutor (in more ways than one). However, she had once broken a reporter’s nose on national television when he had asked her about the veracity of rumors saying she “knew every inch of Mr. Scandal’s body”. Fortunately, this had given her the image of a guardian who would protect any potential victims of sexual harassment, so the president’s approval rating improved due to the incident.
Her general behavior was also evident in how well her suit that was custom-made by a supporting menswear company suited her.
“It is my duty to record all conversations while we are on the job,” replied a secretary holding a video camera.
“I see. Thanks.”
Roseline lay down across a three-person couch and grabbed a business magazine. The featured article was about the 100 most important people who kept America running. She glanced through articles on Flack Kateman the car king, Olay Blueshake the media king, Douglas Hardbell the rock star, and others before narrowing her eyes.
“…The president’s name not being on the list of people who keep America running is indeed a problem.”
“Ma’am, how about we get down to the main issue at hand?”
“I always end up putting off things that I know are just going to depress me.”
Roseline tossed aside the business magazine while sprawled out on the couch.
She then looked over toward one wall.
“General, have you found the president?”
“N-no, but we are currently searching for him with everything we have.”
“It’s that hard even for the Marines?”
“He abandoned his GPS in a garbage can near the press conference building. For some reason it was inside a contraceptive with the end tied shut. Our code breaking team says it may have been some kind of message…”
“That was just his idea of a joke.”
Roseline put her hand to her forehead.
She was irritated, but it was not due to direct anger at being toyed with.
“That idiot. A condom? If the Christian groups find out the president was carrying one of those around, we’ll never hear the end of it.”
“Wh-what about the secret service? We are of course doing everything we can, but the cooperation of specialists like them is essential.”
“General, you are the Commandant of the Marine Corps. You can complain about a lack of man-power all you want, but we cannot have you fearing the possibility of having all responsibility fall in your lap in an unforeseen situation like this. I believe we already explained to you why we went beyond the normal boundaries and asked for your help.”
Roseline reached for a wine bottle on the table but grabbed some mint gum once she remembered the camera was running.
“They are suspicious.”
Her voice had been quiet, but her words had held great meaning.
The general naturally fell silent.
“We know something is happening, but that is all we know,” Roseline continued. “We cannot figure out what exactly that something is. This is not simple bribery or coercion. Merely using a blacklist to quarantine it is not enough. They are suddenly becoming enemies of the United States as if they are being possessed by a demon.”
If the hostile elements were simply spreading out from a single person behind it all, they could possibly stop the spread by quarantining every single hostile element. However, when the person behind it was like an invisible demon that chose other people to control, the quarantine method lost all meaning. If they could not stop this person behind it, they could not guarantee their fundamental safety.
It was unclear by what means the people were being controlled.
Roseline and the others had surmised that there was a certain type of person that was more easily controlled and they were maintaining their safety by distancing themselves from anyone who showed the slightest evidence of being controlled. However, they were unsure how long that would suffice.
“As for the Senate and the House…well, about half of them seem suspicious.” It seems to be spreading below the surface. And the military is no exception, general.”
“I-I had been told, but it simply does not seem real…”
“I know what you mean. I have seen it with my own eyes, yet I still can’t believe it. However, the fact remains that it is happening. Fortunately, the only confirmed victims so far are American officials. That is why you and the few units you accompanied in the joint operation cleaning up after the war with the Australian military did not run into any difficulties.”
Roseline Krackhart knew relatively little of the occult. She was only aware that it seemed somehow different from the esper development occurring in Academy City.
The president on the run likely had a similar level of knowledge in that regard.
A few teams were working on analyzing the mysterious phenomena that had occurred during World War 3, but they had yet to come up with any real results.
That was why she was only able to give vague descriptions despite having witnessed clearly abnormal occurrences in the White House.
“Yes, we are only here due to our good fortune. However, we need to investigate as to why we had that good fortune. After all, we are in a situation where it is possible we could become possessed the instant we step outside. In all truth, the world police are being eaten into. I cannot guarantee that a child or old man on the street won’t suddenly start firing into a crowd, much less that the government can continue to function. Everyone in this country is at risk of being a victim or an attacker. If we do not find the occult conditions behind this and stop whoever is behind the invasion, even the nuclear launch codes could fall into enemy hands.”
“Is this why the president went off on his own…?”
“Probably. When that idiot learned of the situation, he started thinking about what he could do on a personal level to deal with this danger that is on a national level. He realized he would be immediately surrounded if he tried something on the mainland, so he played along until he reached an area where they had less influence. He must have thought their influence had not yet reached an island so far from the mainland. …And yet no one knows the actual rules behind this.”
“Th-then…” The general wiped sweat from his brow. “Are we putting the president in even more danger by chasing after him? If he has some means of victory…”
“Do you seriously think he does?”
Roseline glared at him with piercing eyes but softened her expression after she grew overly conscious of how the man winced.
“No matter the reason and no matter how dangerous the situation, we must have continual access to the president on the center stage. If it gets out that he has disappeared, he will be deemed no longer able to perform his duties and all authority will be passed to the vice president. …Because he has you know what, that is unlikely to happen right away, but we still cannot relax,” she said. “And the vice president has already become suspicious. He has done nothing wrong yet and he says he is trying to cooperate with us, but it is possible he is the type of person easily controlled by whoever is behind this. As such, handing the duties of the White House over to him is too much of a risk.”
No one dared put the rest into words.
They all felt the idea of one of the world’s superpowers being usurped by some unknown person was not something to say even as a joke.
“(…Well, the one piece of luck is that the president took that with him,)” muttered Roseline before speaking up. “Do whatever it takes to find the president. Find him before his disappearance is discovered by the vice president and the other politicians undermined by whoever is behind this.”
Roseline did not even look over as the general gave a proper salute. She muttered to herself with a look of pure displeasure on her face.
“(…More importantly, going missing is not the only way he can be made unable to perform his duties. A bullet through the head would do the trick just as well.)”
(November 10th. Oahu. Dear My Car, Oahu Branch. From an in-car camera.)
Robert Katze, the American President, entered a rental car shop with a silver attaché case in one hand.
He spoke to the young woman at the reception counter.
“I don’t care what, but just give me something cheap. Hmm, I think electric cars are supposed to have a good image. Roseline is never shutting up about it. Well, gasoline or deuterium or whatever is fine too. Just don’t give me a car that was just used for sex. Even if you wipe it down with ethanol, the smell sticks around.”
“You certainly have an attitude. Just who do you think you are?”
“The president! As one of the citizens supporting this nation, could you at least watch the morning news!?”
“Oh, so you’re an impersonator. Can you do his ‘We will save the world!’ thing?”
“…Whatever. Just give me the key already.”
Robert tossed some crumpled up bills on the counter and the woman tossed the key back toward him. He walked down a line of two-person cars and looked over at an especially battered convertible.
He was about to kick the tire, but stopped himself when he realized it was made by a company that supported him. He instead opened the door.
Just as he was inserting the key, the young woman came running after him.
“Sorry, sorry. I missed part of the procedure! Mr. Impersonator, I need to input the information from your license before I can let you rent that.”
“Can’t I just give you my social security number?”
“It has to be your license.”
“…What a pain. Maybe I should submit a bill to get that changed next chance I get,” muttered Robert as he pulled a card out of his wallet.
The woman held out a reader similar to a cell phone’s wallet function.
Robert Katze held his license up to it. The young woman nodded in satisfaction upon confirming that the device had read the information from the integrated circuit inside.
“Okay. So your name is Robert…Robert Katze. You live at…the White House? H-hey, wait a second!!”
“May I go now?” he asked with a grin.
“Did you go so far as to change your name!? I can’t believe you found an apartment complex called ‘The White House’! And it’s even in Washington DC! You certainly are a dedicated impersonator!!”
“Well, why don’t you just believe that until the day you die!? Waaahhhhh!!”
The president drove off with tears in his eyes. He was further made a fool of as the woman saw him off by imitating his “We will save the world!!”
After leaving the grounds of the rental car shop, Robert drove with one hand and used the other to open the attaché case lying in the passenger seat. The case was secretly a computer. He connected the cables inside to a GPS-like device.
It was known as the Imperial Package.
It gave him president-level access to all government cloud systems. With that one device, he could send orders to any government office or prepare ballistic missiles for launch. Of course, it used various methods of ensuring that only the current president could use it.
“…This way I can check on what the people who have become suspicious are accessing.”
Areas where the flu is spreading tend to have more people searching for information on the flu using search engines. This fact could be used to determine how far the flu had spread by checking the search records of the search engines.
Robert was doing essentially the same thing.
However, he was checking on what he estimated the suspicious people were after rather than the flu.
From what he could see of the people taking suspicious actions, Robert could not tell if the total number of enemies was increasing or if the enemy was merely switching over to controlling people closer and closer to their objective.
However, he had to assume that anyone that showed any suspicious behavior even once would once more become suspicious as if they were switching back and forth between good and evil.
He may not have been able to see it clearly, but it all had to be a clear attack,
The people being used as pawns all had their own individual lives.
With each person taken over, whoever was taking control of them was getting access to the information that person alone had access to. If Robert could figure out what the person behind it was searching for, he could get a better understanding of what the enemy’s true objective was.
As he used the Imperial Package to view the secret cloud, Robert searched for areas of concentrated accesses that had nothing to do with the people’s normal duties.
Robert Katze clicked his tongue lightly.
“…So I was right. It is the trigger being stored in Oahu.”
It was a top secret piece of equipment that had been developed in an American military research facility.
Depending how it was used, the special device could be used to take the lives of hundreds of thousands of people at once.
The president’s grip on the steering wheel naturally tightened as he thought about how it could be used in Hawaii.