Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume3 Chapter4
Chapter 4: Isolation and the Collapse of the Rules. Trident.
(November 10 – California – Grand Arrow Air Force Base – Central Control Room – From a camera for recording military activities)
The commotion in the Hawaiian Islands had spread all the way to the largest air force base on the west coast. The commotion was greatest for those in command rather than for the maintenance workers performing the final checks on the fighters or the pilots waiting for orders.
Alfred Thirdman, the base commander, glanced over the thick documents and tossed them aside. He stomped on the useless pieces of paper with his boot and shouted in anger.
“You fools!! We can investigate who this enemy force is later! Right now, the president’s safety takes priority, so we just need to kill all of the enemies! Did you not hear me ask you to calculate whether we can attack or not!? What is the situation regarding the spread, altitude, and density of the volcanic ash!?”
The satellite imagery showed something baffling.
A large number of soldiers were landing on the eight main islands forming the Hawaiian Islands. It seemed a few of the tankers and passenger ships off the coast had been disguised landing ships. A large number of hovercrafts were bringing in soldiers and weapons such as off-road vehicles, armored vehicles, and even anti-ship missile units.
A quick estimate said there were just under seven thousand soldiers.
However, in addition to those soldiers to fight on the front lines, there were likely maintenance workers and communications officers for logistical support. With those included, it was possible the number was as high as ten thousand.
It was too great a force to function as a single division.
Alfred felt the blood vessels in his temples throb uncomfortably as he thought about the fact that they had somehow overlooked so great a force and that they had been allowed to invade American soil.
One of Alfred’s subordinates gave a report while looking frightened either of the situation developing or of his own commander.
“Th-the ash has spread over quite a large area around Kilauea and with a very high density. We are using the satellite’s laser scanning, but the visibility is very nearly hopeless. If an airplane is launched into ash that dense, it is almost guaranteed to have engine trouble…”
“Is it due to a trade wind? If so, the ash should be spreading mostly in one direction. Areas to the west like Guam or Yokosuka might be out of the question, but surely we can provide air support from here on the mainland!”
“While it is greater in that direction, the ash is spreading in every direction. W-we cannot get closer than three hundred kilometers.”
Alfred clicked his tongue and kicked the useless console as hard as he could with the end of his boot.
The Hawaiian Islands had more of America’s military might than anywhere else in the Pacific, but not even that gave him hope about the developing crisis. Even then, Aegis ships anchored in naval ports were being blown up one after another.
It actually seemed fortunate that the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Hubble Lotus was out in the South China Sea.
“The president is there. Are you saying we should just sit here doing nothing while anti-ship missiles are being deployed all across the Hawaiian Islands and a military force of unknown affiliation is invading?”
“It seems support with warships is our only option.”
“Those anti-ship missiles rule that out. With current technology, it is difficult to avoid missiles that fly only a few meters above the surface of the—”
Without letting his subordinate finish speaking, Alfred kicked the console again.
After a bit, he said, “Open a connection to Dirty Lance in Texas. They are likely thinking the same thing over there.”
“T-to that ballistic missile launching ground!? But the president is there, not to mention all the other people…!!”
“I have no intention of using a nuclear missile and will not fire any kind of missile on our own country. And at this stage, I have no intention of suggesting we go to war.” Alfred looked over at the projector. “We will detonate normal warheads at high altitude to blow away the scattered volcanic ash. Even if air support from the nearby Guam is impossible, we may be able to create enough of an opening to get something through on this side where the ash has spread much less in comparison.”
“B-but can we even do that? I doubt the vice president will go along with this and there is no specific law regarding the use of ballistic missiles on areas within America…”
“In all likelihood, reality will get in our way,” said Alfred with a sigh. “But given the situation, I want as many usable cards as I can get. I want to be able to move as quickly as possible in the unlikely event we are given the opportunity.”
(November 10 – Oahu – Blackport Naval Base – From the camera in a soldier’s helmet for the command cloud)
Mercenaries in military uniforms that glittered like the surface of a CD climbed over the fence of an American naval port. Raymond Kalman was one of them. Merely getting within twenty kilometers of the base was a miracle, so setting foot inside it was unheard of. His steel-toed military boots trampled on that kind of thinking.
In fact, the mercenaries were doing more than just entering the base.
Several of the frigates and Aegis ships anchored in the port were spewing black smoke. Explosions burst out. The various explosives within the ships caught fire causing more and more explosions.
“Oh, fuck yeah!! The symbol of the stars and stripes’ power is sinking! The Aegis ships are sinking!”
“Quit the celebrating, Eater 8! This isn’t over yet!!”
Continual deep gunfire rang out. Even as Raymond frantically lowered his body down and jumped behind a toppled military tractor, he had a smile on his face. The counterattack from the American navy was continuing, but it was growing sporadic. The barrage of bullets was thin and no organized waves of attacks or coordinated attacks from multiple sides came. It was clear the American side’s chain of command was in chaos. They had more or less won.
“Where is it? Where’s the aircraft carrier? I thought that horrible thing with the name of a president was supposed to be here.”
“It’s in the South China Sea, remember? …Y’know, I’m a little worried about how well this is going.”
There was of course a good reason everything was going so well.
It was difficult for Raymond to believe so suddenly. Those who denied the occult always said they would only believe what they saw with their own eyes, but things had gone well beyond that level. He was actually seeing what was happening, but he still did not want to believe it.
Some kind of giant black shadow was jumping from warship to warship.
The enemy soldiers hiding behind cover were accurately struck by lightning attacks coming from the volcanic ash.
The flames spewing from the warships changed shape and blasted through the solid buildings as if they had a mind of their own.
However, the conquest was not being carried out solely by that “unknown occult”. Raymond and the others were combating the American navy with normal bullets and explosives. The occult was weaving its way through the gaps in that stalemate and advancing as it slipped past the flying bullets and cover. A new golden ratio had been created. It was almost amusing how easily they were taking control of the battlefield.
“Don’t overdo it…” said a sharp, ice-like voice in Raymond’s ear.
The voice belonged to a mature woman who was wearing the same outfit as the others. Something other than her appearance clearly distinguished her from the others in the silver uniforms. She was obviously different. She was one of the ones who had brought the new power to the battlefield.
She was part of Gremlin.
She was a magician.
That woman held a power that completely rid the occult of the outdated aspect that surrounded it and allowed it to conquer even a modern battlefield.
“Our goal is to seize America for ourselves, not to destroy it. Those will be our forces in the near future, so we must not do any more damage than is necessary.”
“Wait, you’re telling us to hold back and only incapacitate them!? Are you an idiot!? Everyone on the battlefield who has a weapon and can move their trigger finger is an enemy. In war, that is all you need to take a life! How are we supposed to win if we don’t kill them when we have the chance!? Well!?” shouted back Raymond Kalman whose mood had been lifted more due to the repeated explosions and flashes of light than due to the unexpected ease of the battle.
The woman with the sharp voice softly wrapped her hand around Raymond’s hand as if to kindly stop him.
That was all it took.
With a sound like a hot wok, Raymond’s right hand and wrist turned to black ash.
His scream ended and changed to a noise of confusion because, after burning away so that not even the outline of the bone remained, his right hand regained its flesh and skin as if he was watching a video in reverse. After only ten seconds, his hand and even the silver glove over it were back to normal.
The pain and injury were gone, but the fear alone remained.
He was assaulted by an extreme sense of unease due to the mismatch between how he felt and what his physical state was.
Then, the woman’s sharp voice continued in a clear whisper.
“Don’t overdo it.”
The occult ruled the battlefield.
It did not distinguish between friend and foe.
Despite being on the side with an overwhelming advantage, Raymond and the others were tormented by a powerful sense of intimidation as if they had a cold blade pressed against their chest.
However, the strange turns of event did not end there.
“Oh, come on. Isn’t that going a bit too far to threaten an amateur?”
The next thing Raymond knew, a man in formal clothes was standing in the center of the military dock.
Raymond had no idea how or when the man had gotten there.
A single card floated through the air like a leaf.
Someone with good eyes may have been able to see that it was the ace of swords, a tarot card from the minor arcana.
He was one of the magicians who had entered the Hawaiian Islands along with Leivinia Birdway.
He was a member of the Dawn-Colored Sunlight.
He was Mark Space.
One of the soldiers in a silver uniform, the woman with the sharp voice, checked something over her radio. The details were unclear, but battles between magicians were beginning on Lanai and Hawaii as well.
She sharpened her already sharp voice and said, “So you were concealed all over the place to gather information.”
“More or less.”
Like a stage magician, a large number of cards flew from the man’s right hand to his left.
Even if the American military and the Dawn-Colored Sunlight joined forces, they could not do much more than what Gremlin was already doing. The overwhelming difference lay in how many magicians each side had.
“I doubt we can completely turn this around, but we can at least buy some time even if all it allows us is a more effective retreat,” the man said.
“Do you really think a mere magician trained from a young age can reach the level of Gremlin?”
“Fortunately, I have the full minor arcana at my disposal to entertain you with.”
(November 10 – Oahu – Main Road – Government Vehicle – From the camera to record proceedings)
The black government vehicle swerved back and forth.
Inside, the president’s aide, Roseline Krackhart, looked behind with a sharp gaze as her body shook about.
A military off-road vehicle was closing in on them.
A man whose upper body was sticking up from the roof was firing countless bullets from his bullpup-style assault rifle and orange sparks were flying from the surface of the government vehicle.
“How can they do this in the middle of the public eye and in broad daylight…!?” exclaimed Roseline.
She grinded her teeth at how the situation across the entire Hawaiian Islands had completely changed over the past hour. Even then, police officers in uniform were merely watching in shock as Roseline and the military vehicle flew by.
They were in America, but it certainly did not seem like it.
Just as she was about to accept that fact, Roseline forcibly cut off that line of thinking.
As the person meant to support the leader of the nation, she could not let herself accept it.
She looked over at the policemen and yelled, “Use your radios or your cell phones or whatever. Just use my name to get all police officers to fall back!! Your bulletproof jackets can’t stop rifle bullets!!”
“More importantly, what are we going to do!? We don’t have an unlimited supply of gasoline!!”
“The closest base is Pearl Harbor’s third marine base! We need to get inside even if we have to force our way in and get protection there. It’s time we showed them the power of the world police!!”
Some objects clearly stood out within the scenery soaring by at high speed.
Countless giant black hovercrafts were landing on the beach, seeming to sully the pure white sand. Dozens of soldiers wearing silver uniforms and armored off-road vehicles poured from the hovercrafts. There were even what looked like giant containers. Those objects that crane-like “arms” were keeping balanced were the very low altitude anti-ship missile units.
(This is ridiculous. This goes well beyond the level of a terrorist group. At this scale, it’s basically an army. And that would mean this is basically the beginning of a war…)
“A Gray Flag… B-but from where…?”
“There is no uniformity to their movements. Most likely, this is not a national army trained together from the beginning. This is most likely a mercenary PMC that gathered soldiers that already had a certain level of experience. But that isn’t the real issue here.”
“Who hired them and for what reason?”
As Roseline gritted her teeth, the government vehicle charged into the marine base.
However, she was not given the hope she had expected.
The government vehicle came to a sudden stop in front of the base. It had not been asked to stop by soldiers. No soldiers were there to stop them.
Instead, a sea of flames spread before their eyes.
The largest collection of the world police’s military power in the Pacific was burning. There was no longer a defensive line around the base. Long distance bombardments had torn the long, long fence to pieces and enemy soldiers were beginning to charge in.
“They” were made up of teams of five.
They all wore matching full-body CD-like silver uniforms that erased any individuality, but the center members of those groups of five were clearly different.
In a clash of firepower, the American marines were the very best. They may lose to Academy City when it came to unique technology, but in standard fields, America clearly ruled the world both in quality and quantity.
And yet that ultimate army was being overwhelmed.
They were being overwhelmed by the mercenaries pouring into the base like an avalanche in groups of five.
The source of the mercenaries’ success was those “center members”.
They alone did not rely on guns. Flames blew from their hands, ice spears poured down like rain, lightning leaped about like a living being, and cracks opened in the ground that brought barricades crashing down.
Those phenomena baring their fangs against the Americans did not follow the laws of physics or chemistry.
The flames burned through supposedly unburnable steel and the lightning attacks passed through supposed insulators like concrete. That alone was not always enough to settle things, but when the marines frantically fled from behind the barricades, they were further cornered by the mercenaries’ assault rifles and grenade launchers.
It was not merely normal firepower.
It was not merely the occult.
Their combination like that was something not seen even in World War III. If they had been brought together in a different way, the combination could have embodied peace greater than anything else. However, this was the complete opposite.
While Roseline sat dumbfounded, something even more baffling occurred.
A few hundred meters ahead, one of the silver soldiers looked her way. Immediately afterwards, he leaped toward her like a long throw in baseball. He landed on the hood of the government vehicle and silently held his hand out toward the car.
Something shot from his hand and before Roseline was able to comprehend whether it was fire or ice, a new figure seemed to fly in from the side and kick the silver soldier.
The new figure had white hair and red eyes. Roseline had no way of knowing, but he was the Level 5 who was said to be the strongest even in Japan’s Academy City.
“Tch. There’s just no end to them. Birdway! Can’t you just blow them all away with some convenient magic!? This is just a waste of my battery!!”
“Y’know, magicians use up a part of their body to use magic. It isn’t like it doesn’t cost me anything. …That’s why Gremlin joined forces with standard firepower to make up for that loss.”
“A mixture of science and magic…”
“Yes, and with a different type of construction than with the Rome/Russia alliance during World War III.”
A sea of flames spread out.
Everyone was fleeing in terror, but those two alone seemed set apart from it all.
The small girl casually pointed her wand at a wall of flames overrunning the base and it was swallowed up by an even larger white explosion. The mercenaries hiding behind an armored vehicle were blown away along with it. More white explosions appeared. The flashes of light easily continued through the base and reinforced the attacks from the battered Americans.
“I love doing things on a large scale like this. I think I’ll just go all out without worrying about regulating my output.”
“Don’t pretend you’re attacking discriminately. You’re getting the Americans caught up in this too,” replied Accelerator.
“Neither side will die…as long as they’ve been trained to a level higher than your average person. I’ve made sure of that.”
That was when Roseline realized something.
The American marines were being pushed back and cornered by the mercenaries. Plenty of them had been shot and were injured, but as far as she could see, there were no corpses. They were just barely managing to protect that final line.
“…Looks like we’ve picked up another god damn piece of luggage,” said the white monster sounding utterly irritated.
“Yes, but you have no intention of leaving her behind, do you, hero?”
“Don’t act like you know what I’m going to do.”
“Fine, fine. Go ahead and pretend you don’t like it. We just need to preserve enough of a military force to turn this around. For now, we need to buy enough time for the Americans to retreat and take out some of those damn mercenaries or magicians when needed.”
(November 10 – Molokai – From a security camera at the Shrimp Motel)
Saronia A. Irivika stood in front of a motel. She was leaning against the thin door while drinking mineral water from a bottle. Her hair was wet as if she had just taken a shower. She had actually been in the sea only a half hour or so before.
She could hear the intermittent explosions and gunfire from where she was.
During World War III only two weeks before, those had been sounds heard anywhere on the globe. And most likely people all over the world including the Hawaiian Islands had decided they never wanted to hear those sounds again.
She was the only guest at the row house-like beachside motel. Even the manager had fled. As Saronia looked around, she really could not blame everyone for fleeing.
The white beach was no longer a tourist location.
It was now covered with large military hovercrafts, off-road vehicles, soldiers in silver uniforms, and container shaped anti-ship missile units. The black and moss green spread about reminded one of the stench of death. The long, narrow spear-shaped trails of smoke coming from the anti-ship missile units led to the wreckage of frigates that had managed to escape the military ports. The weapons of war on the beach were not simply installed there and they were not merely a threat. They were actually being used and were truly causing destruction. It was unmistakably the return of that war.
Saronia turned toward one of the silver soldiers walking nearby and said, “We are finally approaching the scale we wanted. Until now, the size has simply been too small to see anything properly.”
“We could have complete control of the islands in about five hours, but there is no need to wait. We should carry out our objective as quickly as possible.”
“I got a nice demonstration of the anti-ship missiles just now, but what is our countermeasure against submarines?”
“We are setting up torpedoes that are launched from low altitude. After flying for about one hundred meters, they enter the ocean and continue from there like a normal torpedo. The model was designed to carry out antisubmarine attacks from land.”
“Make sure to strengthen your anti-personnel defenses. There is always a possibility of specialized soldiers—frogmen, I think they’re called—swimming in.”
“…Do you really think a few people can overcome our advantage? It would be like taking on a full soccer team of eleven by yourself.”
“Just be careful. Don’t forget our true objective here.”
Suddenly, the silver soldier’s cell phone started to ring.
After a short conversation, he handed the phone to Saronia.
“It’s from Knowledge 12.”
“The one who hired us.”
“Oh, her. Hand it over then.” Saronia’s manner of speech suddenly grew much more polite. “Hello. This phase is going quite well. Are there any problems on your end?”
“The lack of any obvious problems has put me on edge, so I am nitpicking everything.”
“Oh, so there are no problems. How is the influence on the center going?”
“What I can do with the range of my power is going well enough, but you know very well that is not enough. That is the entire reason I am having you help.”
“It seems a little indirect to me, but it takes quite a bit of preparation time for even Gremlin to capture the United States. We just have to be patient.” Despite the gravity of what she was saying, Saronia’s tone was light. “By the way, we have the vice president, so can’t we just hurry up and say the missing president cannot continue his official duties?”
“Unfortunately, no,” said the person over the phone uninterestedly. “Do you know what Air Force One is?”
“The president’s personal jet. It has the bare minimum of equipment needed for him to carry out his duties and he can command all of the nation’s armed forces from within it in an emergency.”
“The Imperial Package that Roberto Katze has is the same. It gives him complete authority on the government cloud and allows him to send out presidential orders from anywhere. Just having him out of the White House is not enough. As long as he has the Imperial Package, he is seen as able to carry out his official duties as president.”
“Then we just have to follow the plan without searching for shortcuts. Please take care of things on your end. I suppose I will take care of some final preparations before things truly begin,” said Saronia casually. “Oh, one more thing.”
The silver soldier trembled slightly.
It almost seemed the negative emotions radiating from Saronia’s body could pass through the electronic device and reach the person that she was speaking to.
“I realize you were just trying to keep me from having the difficult task of fighting while protecting the Trigger if my position was discovered, but if you try to trick me and use me as a diversion again…I will have your head along with the president’s.”
(November 10 – Lanai – Star Lounge Shot Bar – From security camera footage)
Kamijou Touma, Misaka Mikoto, and Roberto Katze forced open the door to an empty bar and hid inside. After the emergency landing in the transport plane, being recovered by the American military, and being attacked by anti-ship missiles, they had somehow made it to shore. Ignoring all law, machine gun-equipped off-road vehicles were brazenly patrolling the main roads.
Their clothes were covered in seawater and sand, but it was hardly the time to complain about that.
“...I should have realized it,” said the president as he sat directly on the floor and placed the attaché case next to him. “I should have realized it when I was told there was someone controlling people via the occult but this person had a restriction on the number of people she could control.”
“I had thought the occult had eaten into the entirety of the government. I had thought the Senate, the House, and everything else was in the grasp of some strange power, but I was wrong.”
“Eh, but, what…?” stammered Kamijou.
He had thought that was precisely what Saronia had done.
That had been why the president had sensed danger, fled his own protectors, and headed out on his own. Gremlin had used people in the military and government to search for information on the Trigger and had partially used it on Kilauea.
“Only a few people were being controlled,” spat out Roberto. “It’s the same as those soldiers. You can control people without relying on some strange power.”
“There is someone out there with the power to forcibly control people, but that does not match what is going on here. The occult is barely being used at all. You can control people using orders without relying on all that. It’s the same thing I usually do as president!”
His tone was oozing chagrin over the complete reversal of victim and attacker as well as the fact that his own subordinates and forces had clearly betrayed him.
However, Kamijou simply could not follow his train of thought.
What was actually happening in Hawaii…no, in the United States of America?
“Wait a second. Birdway used that automatic analysis spell to reveal what Saronia’s spell was. She truly does have a means of controlling a large number of—”
“Now I’m a complete layman when it comes to the occult,” said the president, cutting Kamijou off. “But are you absolutely sure there is no chance the automatic analysis was intentionally led to a false result?”
“Wait, you mean…?”
“Both this Birdway person and this Saronia person are experts in this field, so this is not a one-sided fight between a pro and an amateur. That means the odds of success are 50/50. Isn’t it possible Birdway was tricked?”
“But what about your Imperial…whatever it’s called? Didn’t you use data from there to deduce that Saronia was controlling a large number of people to gather information on the Trigger!? And the Trigger really was in that Pearl Harbor base, so—!”
“It is true that the people accessing information unrelated to their duties over the central government cloud were accessing data on the Trigger. And it is likely that information was indeed reported to Saronia’s group.” The president shook his head. “But all I saw was the flow of data. It is entirely possible they were following Saronia’s group’s orders while still in full possession of their senses.”
“But what about Cendrillon? Before we ran into you, we fought a magician named Cendrillon in the airport! In order to silence her once we caught her, Saronia controlled her in order to have her commit suicide!!”
Even as he spoke, an argument against his own words came to Kamijou’s mind.
Cendrillon herself may have been putting on an act.
They may indeed have heard Saronia’s voice, but that could have been a simple communications spell. Kamijou could not deny the possibility that Cendrillon herself had attempted to kill herself in order to match what Saronia had been saying.
It was an action unthinkable of someone in their right mind, but it had successfully dulled Kamijou and the others’ judgment.
It was possible Cendrillon had managed to pull it off by gathering together everything she had to give Gremlin a better chance of retaliating against them. If that was true, they would have to rethink everything from the very beginning.
“I doubt the children in the shopping mall and the pilot were cooperating with Saronia of their own free will, but it’s possible that the number of people she can control is much smaller than we thought and that the orders she can give people are much simpler than we thought. In fact, the ability to control people might be nothing more than a side effect of some other attack of Saronia’s. Her true power may lie elsewhere. Saronia A. Irivika’s true specialty may not be controlling people.”
(November 10 – Oahu – Wreckage of Pearl Harbor’s Third Marine Base – From an auxiliary control camera)
Birdway was leaning up against the side of a transport plane that was tilted to the side due to a broken axle. She was being fired on by the mysterious armed force’s light machine guns. Upon hearing something from over her cell phone, she magically manipulated the papyrus in her hand, checked some information, and then threw it down to the cracked asphalt.
“…Dammit, Balbina. How could you sell me this piece of crap!?”
A woman in black clothes who Birdway had met up with when Trident had appeared said, “Her specialty is selling individual materials, so it isn’t really her fault, boss. I would say the fault lies with you for not constructing your own spiritual items because you find it to be too much of a bother.”
“This means I have yet another task,” said Birdway, ignoring her subordinate. She lightly waved the wand in her hand and an explosion of light blew away a group of soldiers using an armored vehicle as a shield. “I need to recheck Saronia’s specs. I need to analyze the method, effects, and range of the magic she uses. I need to redo the analysis I left to the spiritual item.”
“Can you really finish that before you run into her at the end of all this?”
“Like always, I’ll just have to pull it off somehow.”
(November 10 – Lanai – Star Lounge Shot Bar – From the camera in a handheld game system left on the counter)
Not all of the people had been controlled by Saronia’s magic.
Kamijou was shocked to hear President Roberto Katze say that, but he also seriously considered the possibility.
Someone was controlling the American government for their own benefit.
This person had used various methods to get politicians and government workers in their control.
However, there were some people that acted purely for their country and thus stubbornly refused to be used as pawns.
In that case…
“So whoever is really behind this uses the realistic methods as much as they can and then use magic to forcibly control the rest? So they’re eating into America both above and below the surface like that?”
It was possible Saronia’s magic was not primarily a means of controlling people.
If that was the case, it had some effect that looked that way when used in a certain way.
It was similar to recklessly using the heat produced by a motor as a space heater.
However, that power was still quite a threat. It had been used to take control of an entire nation. This was especially true as the nation in question was the nation known as the world police and as the greatest power of the science side when it came to resources and economics.
And there was a single target that was both deeply involved with the American government and could not be controlled by realistic methods.
This was of course Roberto Katze.
As the president, he had sensed the occult encroaching on the government and the improper use of the Trigger. He had then done the unheard-of by heading out on his own without even the secret service guarding him. For someone trying to control the country from behind the scenes, no one could be more of a problem.
Was the enemy trying to get the president in a situation where they could control him in one way or another?
Or were they simply going to kill him so his authority would transfer to someone easier to control?
That man was the biggest target, but he had a daring smile on his face.
He said, “And in some cases, the occult could be used only as an example. You know, ‘Do what I say if you don’t want to end up like that.’ Or maybe it’s being used like an indulgence. If this rebellion is discovered and it turns out these people are going to have to take responsibility, the magician could just use her occult power to control them and make them look like a pure victim that was merely controlled.”
They did not know the specific conditions required for the magic.
Even if Saronia could only control at most a dozen or so people and could control them no better than poorly-made robots, no one could prove it.
The entirety of the US Congress would insist they had been controlled by some occult power.
All they needed was proof that some strange power was involved to some extent.
People who only believed what they saw would be tricked into thinking the tiny bit of the occult displayed before them had spread to every corner of the government.
“Eh? But…it’s the occult, right? We’re not talking about scientific esper powers here. What good will that be as a testimony?”
“Before the war, not much. But all sorts of mysterious phenomena were detected during World War III. The world is beginning to recognize the existence of the occult. Even if it is not accepted as official evidence in a trial, the people like me who are higher up than the courts and have started to come into contact with that darkness of the world might sympathize with supposed victims of the occult. In some cases, that kind of person has special measures he can take.”
“Like a presidential pardon…?”
“I doubt an emotional argument like that would be enough to convince someone, but it would be enough to help open them up to the idea. For those doing the tempting, that would be enough. After all, they have no need to actually make good on their promises.” Roberto Katze sighed. “When I think about it, it was odd that Roseline and I noticed that anything was odd. We are complete amateurs when it comes to the occult. We are not specialists like that Birdway, so would we really be able to tell at a glance whether someone was being controlled by the occult or not? I doubt it’s that simple. Magic power? Spells? I don’t know anything about those things, but I bet you need to have at least a working knowledge of it all to tell.”
“Then what did you notice?”
“An act. Insurance. Faking it. The ones who joined Saronia’s side via realistic methods wanted to look like they were victims of the occult in case they were ever found out. That was why an amateur like me was able to notice the change. In fact, if an expert like Birdway saw them, she may have been able to tell that they were not acting how someone being controlled would.”
“Who is it?” asked Kamijou carefully. “If there is some other enemy that is not a magician like Saronia but has joined forces with Gremlin, who is it?”
“Given the realistic means being used to infiltrate the government, they must be an enemy with a more realistic type of power,” said Roberto as he placed his attaché case on the shot bar’s counter. The lounge seemed to have a wireless LAN because the computer in the case was able to pick up a signal. “The main hint is those CD-like soldiers.”
“What country are they from?”
“Most likely, they’re mercenaries not affiliated with any country. They’re known as a PMC. They will do smaller things like bodyguard jobs, carrying out torture when regular soldiers don’t want to dirty their hands, and acting as guides in jungles or mountainous areas, but they can also act as a proper army on a division or brigade level when an independent military force is all that is needed.” Roberto Katze sighed again. “They are an effective force when hired on that level, but it’s just too expensive. You hear about tankers being attacked by pirates all the time, but you never hear about a large mercenary force being hired to act as a protective fleet, right? There are of course political issues preventing that from happening, but the ridiculous cost of hiring them is an even greater obstacle.”
“But the enemy here was able to pay.”
“The soldiers here are likely from Trident, a mercenary company that is quite active in Eastern Europe. They have D model Narwhals, they use electronic camouflage, they can deploy on such a large scale, and their movements show that a lot of them are former American soldiers. That’s the only PMC it could be. It’s one of the largest and it has an army, a navy, and an air force.”
“Just how large is it?”
“The estimation I’ve heard is around fifty thousand soldiers. Apparently, they have been able to cut down on their numbers quite a bit with a software update for their warships.”
“That’s about the population of a small town, isn’t it!? Those soldiers are experts, right? How did they get that many people!?”
“They only use mid-career recruitment rather than going after new graduates. Also, 150,000 soldiers around the world retire every year and about two-thirds of those are not at the usual retirement age. Not to mention that those statistics are from before World War III.”
“They have plenty of reasons for quitting and life after retirement is not always kind to them. Trident has more former American soldiers than soldiers from any other nationality. I’ve been appealing for improving social security for them once they retire, but it seems some people think the continuous expenditures would put too much pressure on the economy.” The president sighed yet again. “Well, whatever the details, that is a collection of former professionals. They may be retired, but Trident puts them through a special training program to retrain them and raise their value as if they were replacing rusted gears. During World War III, NATO was thinking of hiring them, but negotiations broke down before a price could be settled on. The kind of funds needed to make a deal with them should make a noticeable flow of money in banks’ databases. No bank wants to have money flowing out of their vaults, so they would put out a warning.”
“Have you found it?”
“Unfortunately, no, but that still gives us a hint. The Imperial Package can only check things within the range of America’s power. That means whoever is behind this purposefully made the deal outside of that range so that they could not be traced.” The president typed on the Imperial Package’s keyboard, looking through even more classified information. “It had to have been someone who would gain from intervening here in America even if it costs them that much money. Someone with large amounts of money distributed outside of America. Someone with a hidden connection to Eastern European governments or banks. Someone who could hire Trident. Someone with a system that allows them to monitor our movements here in Hawaii.”
“Can you narrow it down to a single person?”
“No. First of all, there are over thirty people in America alone that are famous for having more assets than the United States. Combined multinational businesses sure are a scary thing. They aren’t divided by national lines. They clearly have a different means of division that is based around money and economic blocs,” readily admitted the president. “However, a few of the large powers that keep the US moving are influenced by a certain other person. People like Flack Kateman the car king and Douglas Hardbell the rock star are actually underneath this certain other person. A lot people could be the one behind this, but the common one at the top seems the most suspicious to me. And in that case…”
He pressed a few more keys and his answer finally appeared on the screen.
The Imperial Package displayed a single large photograph.
“Olay Blueshake the media queen. It has to be her.”
(November 10 – Hawaii – Volcanoes National Park – From a bird watching camera)
It was strange that he had not been killed.
That was what Hamazura Shiage truly felt.
The Island of Hawaii had become a hell of lava. The giant caldera that was over ten kilometers across was filled with orange lava and some had overflowed and was flowing down the side of the mountain like spilled corn syrup.
Perhaps due to the incomplete effect of the Trigger, the lava was not headed in the direction of any towns. Hamazura and the others had not been swallowed up by the lava either, but the air around them had steamed up like in a sauna and the stench of sulfuric gases was so thick Hamazura feared it would kill him. The volcanic ash covering the sky above darkened the area like the time just before dawn. Smooth ash was constantly raining down and pieces of rock the size of fingertips stabbed into the earth as they landed.
However, a different situation was developing that made them almost forget about that twisted form of nature’s fury. In fact, Hamazura felt almost glad that he was so near the caldera that had become a lake of lava.
Beyond the ash that obstructed vision like a thin fog, gunshots and explosions rang out from the base of the short mountain. Hamazura could also see soldiers in silver uniforms dotting the ground as well as hovercrafts and armored vehicles.
“…Olay Blueshake?” he said into his cell phone as he lay down on the white ash.
He had his phone on conference call with Kamijou, Accelerator, and the rest.
He had no idea what she was doing, but he could hear explosions in the background as Birdway replied.
“She is America’s media queen who went over her father’s head and inherited her grandfather’s network. She started expanding from there by creating a specialty news channel and established her position by buying up all the country’s newspapers and the major cell phone companies. She is also famous for being the owner of major league teams and pro football teams. She is a monster of the economic world who people say would conquer the four largest sports if she only started in on basketball as well,” said Birdway casually. “She is very skilled at getting fields unrelated to the information business wrapped up in the information business. By introducing an eco-friendly house that uses a computer to manage the solar power generation and the power use of the household appliances, she managed to make inroads into construction and real estate. By developing things like electric cars and a program to automatically regulate the distance between vehicles, she is now behind one of the largest producers of automobiles in the country. She was listed in a magazine article on the one hundred people who keep America running, but the rampant expansion of the groups she controls swallows up even many of the others on that list.”
Olay had brought even the car king and the railroad king under her control for her own purposes. She was less a queen and more an empress. Even the kings who ruled over their territories were under her control.
Birdway continued her evaluation of the ruler of that empire.
“People say she is the most likely person to become the first complete civilian to take an extended trip into space. They say she might have access to classified government information on UFOs. They say she has a hand in thirty percent of the world’s oil. …No one has any proof of any of those things, though. In recent years, she has taken control the internet’s major search engines as well as the social networking businesses, so she now has almost complete control of America’s information networks.”
“And there was a bit of suspicion regarding those search engines,” said Roberto Katze in a calm voice. “FCE…Free Compound Eyes. That is an internet service that allowed anyone to easily setup cameras, connect them to the internet, and construct a security camera network without purchasing an expensive plan with a security company. However, white hat hackers pointed out that anyone could see the images produced by a third party’s camera by only entering its registration number and, more importantly, that the major search engines that acted as the hosts could see through cameras all across America. Of course, the Fair Trade Committee advised them to correct that issue and the service was supposedly ended…”
With a groan, Kamijou said, “So since the person behind this seems able to monitor our actions, this FCE must still be active?”
“Even if normal users can no longer use it, the FCE software must still exist on the servers. In fact, the level of control over the cameras it gives may have been heightened. Olay has also invested heavily in the three major internet providers, so if the FCE tools were installed in secret, it is possible she can control all cameras that are connected to their networks.”
“Damn. That would give her access to cell phones and even video cameras and portable game systems that use Wi-Fi,” added Accelerator.
“But what is this Olay after? Doesn’t she already have more money than she could ever use?” asked Hamazura.
For someone with as much as her, he doubted there was anything pressuring her into straying from the proper path. Or had some other problem arisen due to the very fact that she was rich?
The president replied with a bitter tone, “Olay Blueshake is said to be the ‘third house’ of Congress.”
“She simply has that much influence. One’s exposure in the media is directly linked to gathering votes and she holds every kind of mass media in her hand. To be honest, not even the presidential election can completely escape her influence. Even my campaign was partially backed by Olay.”
“So it had already been that you couldn’t win in an election if you got on the wrong side of the media queen, hm?”
“I see. She started by influencing the members of Congress whose orders influenced the military and other government organizations. Information circulates better than money, after all. And then Saronia’s magic was used to control the politicians who stubbornly continued serving their country for personal ideals,” commented Birdway.
“She tried to take control of the US for her own ideals by leading those who would help her toward getting elected,” said Roberto Katze in a low voice. “And yet America did not head in the direction she wanted. Or perhaps it would be better to say that, at that time, the country was in a situation where she could no longer leave it to anyone else.”
“World War III,” said the president simply. A short silence increased everyone’s tension. “To be honest, it’s hard to say that war went the way America wanted it to. In fact, we were more or less left out completely. It’s possible this led Olay to abandon her old methods and try to control the US in a more direct fashion.”
“And so she contacted Gremlin and Trident?” muttered Hamazura with a groan. “If you know all that, why don’t you just have her arrested?”
“Because no one knows where she is. She has a lot of enemies, after all. Her residence is officially listed as being in Washington DC, but I’d believe you even if you told me she had built a base on Mars to live in.”
With the conversation over for the time being, Hamazura hung up and put his phone back in his pocket.
Misaka Worst spoke up from next to him.
“So what are we going to do now?”
“Meet up with the boss and the president of course. We don’t gain anything by staying isolated like this.”
Kuroyoru frowned at that and said, “Are you serious? Don’t they have anti-ship missiles deployed all over these islands? If we head out in a pleasure boat, we’ll be sunk in no time at all.”
“Then we just have to get on a boat that won’t get sunk.” Hamazura pointed toward one of the landed military hovercrafts. “We just have to mix in with them somehow. If there really are thousands of them, they’ll be negligent when it comes to identifying individual soldiers. If we dress up in those CD-like uniforms, our faces will be hidden too, so they won’t even be able to tell we’re Asian.”
“Misaka thinks they would notice if we killed some of them and stole their uniforms.”
“This is the world’s largest gun country. They sell handguns at supermarkets.” Hamazura wiped sweat form his brow. “An enthusiast gun store will have equipment for guns as well. I’m pretty sure they said those soldiers were wearing a combination of equipment from various countries, but that gives us more of a chance than if it was original equipment. …And even if we can’t find the exact same models of some things, we might be able to get away with it and say we altered our equipment a bit for personal preference.”
“Hmm. You and Misaka might be able to pull that off, but someone as small as Kuroyoru-chan would look suspicious even in a military uniform.”
“Then we just need to stuff her in a bag or something. She’s small to begin with and her arms can be detached. We can make her pretty compact if we need to.”
“…Don’t you fucking dare,” growled Kuroyoru.
“That means the only problem is the FCE. If they see us do it, a disguise is pointless.”
“How many cameras do you think there are on this island alone? It’d be impossible to take them all out.”
“Once we’ve changed, they can’t tell us apart, so we only need to destroy the cameras until then,” said Misaka Worst as she pulled a nail from her pocket and started manipulating magnetism. “Right?”
Camera ID 119a0e19 not responding.
Using last known location data to search for a usable camera in the same area.
(November 10 – Oahu – Wreckage of Pearl Harbor’s Third Marine Base – From the camera to record proceedings)
As soon as Accelerator ended the call, a giant explosion occurred nearby. The Trident PMC had fired a recoilless rifle. Accelerator charged straight through the center while Birdway leaped to the side to avoid the aftereffects. From there, they headed for their next targets.
That was when presidential aide Roseline Krackhart’s cell phone began to ring.
“I suppose you’ve found out,” said a familiar female voice over the phone.
“…You have guts to call me directly after watching us this whole time, Olay Blueshake.”
“It’s no problem to me if all of you go on a rampage while Hawaii is isolated. America will be fully within my grasp in just a few more hours. It may seem crazy now, but once that happens, it will be like a switch has been thrown. At that point, you will be considered the dangerous antigovernment forces.”
“Do you really think it will be that easy?”
“Oh, I do. If we can gain control of the president with the occult, that’s that. And if we can’t, I can just have him shot so his authority can be transferred to the vice president. …And you know what has happened to the vice president, don’t you?”
“…What is it about this country that you are willing to go to such lengths to change?”
That term Olay uttered was like the words of a curse to Roseline.
“Before World War III, funds for UFO research were used to carry out twelve experiments into the occult. With the opportunities to come into contact with classified information you get from being at the president’s side, I’m sure you know of them.”
“…Those experiments were started without the president’s knowledge.”
“By any chance, do you know who their primary investor was?”
“The president found out about the plans for seven of the experiments and had them stopped in advance!!”
“Yes, but the other five were carried out. Two such experiments were Liberal Arts City in the Pacific and the failed report on the Gemstones with naturally occurring esper powers from around the world. The researchers were motivated by the possibility of developing our own espers, but there was always a deeper set of laws below it all. …After what happened in the war, surely you can guess what it was I wanted to develop.”
“The United States has far too little defenses against the occult,” said Olay Blueshake with a tone filled with self confidence. It was unclear if the confidence was real or if she was naturally using the skills she used when speaking to the public. “In reality, America was more or less left out of the war that was so deeply related to such things. That was actually quite fortunate. If the one truly behind that war had targeted the United States, the country’s leaders and military would have been slaughtered with no hope of resisting. Even in their thick shelters, strange sorcery and curses would have cut them down.”
“And that’s why you—?”
“Knowledge 12 had no clear results, but that may have been because only five of the experiments were carried out. If all twelve experiments had been carried out, America’s techniques might have caught up to the highest international standards.”
“So you are saying the president had no right to protect this country by working to put a stop to the experiments based on his proper sense of ethics? You were merely forcing the sacrifice onto the people of our country. Can you honestly say it is right to abduct and slice up people from around the world just because they have a certain ‘disposition’!? Can’t you tell you are only destroying the ideals on which the United States was founded!?”
“I will remake this country into a theocracy.”
If representatives of the science side and the magic side had heard that statement, they might have let out a gasp.
She was talking about the conversion of a major nation.
She was talking about a clear change in the affiliation of the nation that, while inferior to Academy City in technology, was number one in the world in military might and economic power.
It was unfathomable how much of an effect that would have upon the balance of power or how much chaos it would cause.
“During the president’s oath of office and during trials, the oaths are made with one’s hand on the Bible. In that way and others, Protestant ceremonies have taken root at the core of this nation’s government. All of the historical presidents have been Christians. By letting those sprouts bloom, this nation can be given an exceedingly strong resistance to occult attacks. …And I have begun by bringing in Gremlin as an adviser for our occult countermeasures.”
“The moment you used the Trigger, our international relations were ripped to shreds.”
“That can be fixed with our advances into the occult.”
“Why do you think I have told you all this?” asked Olay, but she continued before Roseline had time to respond. “First, the need to hide this will be gone before long. In a few hours, the United States will have been completely reformed and all this will be common knowledge not just in America but around the world. Really, I never needed to hide this.” She paused for a second. “Second, I have already decided that you will die. Feel free to take that as an admission to a criminal threat.”
“If you cannot find anything to say in return, then our discussion is over. I will order Trident to make sure you do not suffer. I think I’ll give the one who shoots you a bonus.”
Olay hung up.
Roseline Krackhart remained silent for a bit.
“…Olay Blueshake,” said Roseline with her head hanging down.
When her subordinate with the video camera saw that, he originally thought she was trembling in fear.
But she was not.
She was indeed trembling, but a clear smile was on her lips.
“If you’re the one behind this, I still have a way out!!”
“Wh-what do you mean…?”
“Olay’s…no, the entire Blueshake family’s cornerstone lies hidden on Kauai,” said Roseline quickly before grabbing a map from the government vehicle. She spread it out on the hood. “Lindy Blueshake, an eight year old girl, is the only one left to continue the Blueshake family line. For that family that values its bloodline highly and has the next in line inherit its great media network, she has irreplaceable value. Olay is sterile, so abducting that child would be the same as grasping Olay’s very core!!”
“But…that’s crazy!! How could she start such a large scale war in the very place her own daughter lives!?”
“Because Olay doesn’t know,” said Roseline with a grin. “Due to domestic violence issues, Olay got divorced, but it was her that threw the punch, not her husband. However, with her thorough ability to manipulate information and her high-priced lawyers, she managed to distort the truth. She won custody of Lindy, but the investigation afterwards deemed Olay a possible danger, so the government took Lindy away. Of course, Olay used her control of the media to make sure the public never learned of this.”
“The government took her? You mean…like someone in the witness protection program!?”
“Exactly. Her name and identity were completely changed and she was given a second life elsewhere. That is why Olay does not actually know where she is. It’s possible that she constructed the FCE system using the major search engines and internet providers in order to search for Lindy.”
It was obvious whether she had done it out of a mother’s love or in order to preserve the media network she had inherited from her grandfather.
And even with the ability to peer into the executive office of the president and into military facilities, Olay had not been able to locate Lindy Blueshake.
“Due to the hatred of the media Lindy gained due to her mother, she now lives a primitive life here in Hawaii. That may be why Olay was never able to find her.”
And that was why Roseline had a chance.
She had a final chance that lay in the gaps where the digital network did not reach.
She gave instructions to her subordinate to gather the secret service members and marines that could still be used and then smiled a thin, thin smile.
It was like the smile of a villain.
“I will show you that, if you walk down an unorthodox path, you will meet unorthodox resistance.”
(November 10 – Lanai – Star Lounge Shot Bar – From the camera in a handheld game system left on the counter)
“Wait, wait, wait. Shit!! Dammit, Roseline, don’t go nuts just because we’re cornered!!” shouted the president as he stared at the Imperial Package’s screen and struck the hard outer shell with his palm.
Kamijou and Mikoto looked over in surprise.
“Did the computer break?”
Noticing their questioning looks, the president clicked his tongue and said, “My aide has headed off to overcome this situation, but she didn’t discuss it with me. Olay Blueshake’s daughter is hidden on Kauai. My aide is gathering all the soldiers she can in order to abduct the girl and get an upper hand against Olay in negotiations.”
As the president continued on to explain the details of Lindy and the marines, Kamijou and Mikoto’s faces paled.
“Are you serious…? This Lindy girl hasn’t done anything! Will the soldiers really go through with that? Even if it’s an emergency, that’s a crime!” shouted Kamijou.
“Laws like that are not functioning right now and the marines are feeling fairly bloodthirsty. The enemy is moving fast and the supposedly superior American military is being pushed back. The flames of war can’t be controlled and the war front could very well reach the more populated areas. If that happens, many, many civilians will be dragged into this. They want to prevent that from happening. …If my aide appeals to their sense of justice like that, they will lose all guilt over kidnapping the daughter of the woman behind all this.”
A dark side of actions taken due to a sense of justice could sometimes be seen when looked at from a different angle.
And oftentimes, the one taking the action could not see that dark side.
“…How many people have agreed to go with her?”
“About two hundred. Most likely, they are a portion of the group Roseline has directly decided are ‘safe’ and that she trusts. Three or four divisions are stationed in Hawaii, so that is only a small minority, but we should assume they have completely left their units. To be honest, I have no idea how far they will go for the sake of justice.”
Troops who had lost all clear rules had now appeared.
Taking hostages to gather information was often justified, but those troops were likely acting out of hatred for Olay Blueshake the media queen. That meant the safety of her daughter could not be guaranteed. She could end up being hurt in the process of the “negotiations”. In fact, it was possible their hatred could get the better of them and they would pass the point of no return before any negotiations could even begin.
The president’s aide was raising her voice and leading them, but would she really be able to control the soldiers?
Could she say for sure that violence would not break out within the group upon spotting a family member of a hated enemy?
Kamijou thought for a bit and finally stood up from the bar’s floor.
“…You said Lindy Blueshake is on Kauai, right? Can you bring up a picture of her on that computer?”
“What are you thinking of doing?”
“We will save her,” he said simply. “If we can get to Kauai before the marines, we can help her escape. It doesn’t matter where we go, but we just have to take Lindy somewhere where the soldiers can’t find her.”
“W—w-w-wait! This Lindy girl is the daughter of the person behind all this, right? Wouldn’t fighting to save her be allying ourselves with the group conquering Hawaii!?” protested Mikoto.
“So what?” spat back Kamijou. “Olay Blueshake may be behind all this and we do need to settle things with her, but what has this girl done? It’s wrong to rob her of any guarantee of safety just because she’s related to Olay and can be readily used!!”
His words held conviction.
He was not making a decision merely because the situation led him in that direction. He was set on his own direction based on his own clear determination.
“This Lindy already had her life torn to pieces due to domestic violence and had finally managed to settle into a peaceful life. She’s only eight, but she gained that kind of rest that most people find normal only after giving up her name and the place she was born. Do we have any right to capture her, threaten her with guns and knives, and force her to stand before Olay once more? Of course not!! If you want to protect Hawaii from Gremlin, don’t forget that she is one of Hawaii’s residents too. Shouldn’t you be protecting her as well!?”
“…You’re right,” said the president with a sigh. “Since the government took custody of her, it is our duty to protect Lindy Blueshake from Olay. That means I have to fight too.”
Making the decision was easy.
However, real danger lay ahead on that path. On one side were the Gremlin forces including Saronia and Olay who were trying to conquer Hawaii. On the other were the marine forces led by the president’s aide who were trying to capture Lindy. They would be making both sides their opponents.
On top of that, the true enemy had prepared plenty of normal firearms to combat Kamijou’s right arm and their highest priority target was the president.
Those two were in no position to be worried about the wellbeing of others.
Their own lives were in much more danger than Lindy’s.
“What’ll you do, Misaka? This is our decision. I won’t force you to go. You can just hide here to remain safe.”
What had led him to all his decisions up until then?
As Mikoto thought about that, she came to her answer.
That boy had surely done the same thing when he had saved Misaka Mikoto.
Mikoto had once been saved in the same way.
He did not stand on the side of justice.
He did not come to a decision after weighing the pros and the cons.
He merely saved people because he wanted to.
Someone who would not have been negatively impacted by it in the first place had no need to make excuses.
His answer stripped away all that was unnecessary and it held enough power to shatter the overly-complicated incarnation of justifications built from all those unnecessary things.
“…Fine, I understand. To be honest, the thought of them pressing a gun up against this Lindy girl and opening up her old emotional scars really pisses me off.”
No matter how much one worried about it internally, the spoken conclusion was simple.
That boy had surely made those simple decisions time and time again.
“It isn’t that girl’s job to risk her life to bring peace back to Hawaii. That job lies with us.”
(November 10 – In the ocean near Kahoolawe – From UUV Cannibal Shark #443)
A large military hovercraft sailed through the ocean near the Hawaiian Islands where a network of anti-ship missiles was set up. The hovercraft itself was similar to a special kind of rubber boat, but it was much too large. In order to carry large military vehicles, its size rivaled that of a 25-meter school pool.
Two giant propellers propelled the hovercraft at over 50 kph.
The people aboard wore silver military uniforms, but they were not Saronia or Olay’s subordinates.
They were Hamazura’s group.
As with the ship before, this was Hamazura’s first time to pilot a hovercraft, but the lack of obstacles and the fact that it floated on the surface gave him a baseless sense of security as the sudden acceleration chilled his skin. In reality, things such as reefs made even the level-looking ocean surface dangerous and any sharp rocks sticking above the surface would tear the reinforced rubber bottom of the hovercraft to pieces, but ignorance pushed Hamazura recklessly on.
As he fumbled with the ship’s controls, Hamazura had his cell phone to his ear.
“…Eh? The most wanted targets are heading out into the gunfire of their own free will in order to save the daughter of one of their enemies?” he muttered in utter shock at how crazy that was.
But then he smiled.
If he was being honest, the concepts of conquering America and the media queen working with Gremlin were on just too great a scale to seem real to him.
He had finally found something small enough he could actually legitimately feel the desire to risk his life for it.
“You’ll need a way to get to Kauai, right? Just wait a bit. You’re on Lanai, right? We’ll meet up with you there.”
Meanwhile, Misaka Worst and Kuroyoru Umidori were being as indiscreet as ever.
Or rather, Misaka Worst was playing around with Kuroyoru.
“Kuro-nyaaahhn. Misaka is bored, so show me the sexiest pose you can think of!”
“Why you—! Don’t take control away from me for shit like tha—gyah gyah gyah gyah!!”
“Hey, you with the mischievous look in your eyes!! Stop that. You’re gonna make Kuroyoru cry again!!”
“If you try to help me like that, you’re just gonna piss me off even m—gwaaaaaaaaahhhhh!!”
With control of both her arms taken, Kuroyoru lost her balance and fell down on the hovercraft’s deck. From there she (unwillingly) carried out a completely impractical motion.
When Misaka Worst and Hamazura Shiage saw it, a kind look entered their eyes.
“…That’s the first time Misaka has seen someone actually say ‘uffun’. 25 points.”
“You may never shut up about darkness and all that crap, but you’re surprisingly pure. 30 points.”
“H-how…how dare you mock me…!!” said Kuroyoru while grinding her teeth, but she was simply too poorly matched with Misaka Worst.
The electricity esper in question casually glanced over toward the ocean surface and said, “Do you think we actually fooled them?”
“Of course not,” spat out Kuroyoru Umidori in response with her face still beet red. As she also looked toward the ocean surface, she stared straight into the camera’s lens. “They’re letting us go in order to lead them to their weak point.”
(November 10 – Oahu – Wreckage of Pearl Harbor’s Third Marine Base – From an auxiliary control camera)
Most of the base had been destroyed, it was barely functioning, and the soldiers stationed there had finished evacuating.
Meanwhile, Saronia and Olay’s Trident PMC must have decided they would gain nothing by attacking any further. They had quickly gone off to target another base.
“…Tch. The aide has disappeared, too.”
“So she’s headed off to attack an eight-year-old girl. Turns out she wasn’t worth saving.”
Accelerator and Birdway had regrouped after that round of fighting was over.
They understood the general situation from speaking to Kamijou and the others over the phone.
Leivinia Birdway rested her wand on her shoulder and smiled thinly.
“However, this could be our chance.”
“Don’t look at me like that. You always get so motivated when it comes to little girls, don’t you?” She shrugged. “Even now, Olay Blueshake is listening to our conversations. That means she is sure to make her move. She will try to get there before our group or the president’s aide and her marine volunteers manage to reach Lindy.”
“But I doubt the media queen will head out directly. In fact, is she even in Hawaii?”
“If she’s somewhere we can reach, then she’s quite an idiot,” said Birdway simply before spinning around her wand. “That is why, as one of the main leaders, Saronia will be commanding a portion of the troops in order to collect Lindy. They would never focus all the troops on that. After all, Hawaii is the largest collection of military forces in the Pacific and they need to focus on taking care of that. However, the troops led by Saronia – as well as Gremlin in general – will not necessarily do as Olay wishes.”
“According to Kamijou Touma’s report, Saronia herself was put in quite a bit of danger during the transporting of the Trigger because she was used as a diversion without being told. She will now have some distrust for Olay. It’s only natural that she will want a trump card she can use to conveniently control Olay.”
“But isn’t Gremlin’s plan to conquer the United States based on Olay’s economic power and supplemented by Saronia’s magic?”
“To them, this ‘war’ in Hawaii is nothing more than part of their preparations. What they truly want to do is take control of America, create a situation in which they can manipulate things at will, and make sure that situation lasts. That means they must work together for a long period of time. Right now, they both want to gain the upper hand at this early stage even if it comes with some risk.”
“But that also means we only have to take out just one or the other of Saronia and Olay. If either one could accomplish this without the other, they would never have joined together in the first place. So now we just have to defeat Saronia when she shows up on her own for Lindy.”
“Yes, that would cause their plan to fail. We would win. As such, I’m sure you know what we must do.”
“…Hm. Even when I leave Academy City, I end up having to clean up all the shit.”
“Just be honest and call it saving people’s lives, hero.”