Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume3 Prologue
Prologue: In the Fiftieth State. Crisis_of_Blue_Ocean.
(November 10 – Oahu – Press Conference Room – From footage taken by an EAC News relay camera)
“Time is quite valuable, so let’s keep the greetings short. I’m sure the ladies, gentlemen, and cameramen lined up here don’t want to be buried in flowery speech and I know the viewers at home always want something a little more stimulating.”
He was a man in his forties. His finely chiseled Latin features had a dreadfulness and wildness not found in a teenage delinquent. Muscles outdoing those of your average athlete were hidden below his tanned skin. The lack of an aura of intelligence was unfortunate, but the fault lay with the citizens who chose him.
He was Roberto Katze.
He was the President of the United States and the third Hispanic person to hold that position. If you mentioned that fact, he would readily reply that there was no point in taking pride in anything you were not first in and that he would rather be referred to as the first president to be a high school dropout. That was just the kind of person he was.
The suit, tie, leather shoes, and everything else he was wearing were all from supporting groups, but they seemed more forced on him than things he had chosen himself. He had a rare talent in his ability to fill his faults with a sense of familiarity that kept him from seeming sloppy.
“And so let’s start with the questions. I gave the general outline of the plan at the address two hours ago, so try not to ask me anything I’ve already answered. Wasting our precious time will only make you the laughing stock of your viewers.”
“Mr. President,” said one of the reporters after raising his hand. “You said the giant golden rings and bones that appeared at the end of World War III were being disposed of in the ocean near Hawaii, but why did we accept those useless pieces of junk?”
“What a boring question. I guess the Condor has more troubles than just the slump in readers.”
“Why is this being done in our waters rather than international waters? Is there some political reason behind that?”
“It’s much simpler than that.” The president lightly shook his index finger. “Each of those objects is dozens of meters across. If that many were just dumped all over the ocean, it would cause a change in the ocean currents. That change could harm the oceanic ecosystem and the supply of things like plankton and oxygen, and that would be a problem. ‘We’ searched all over the oceans of the world and the acceptable zone we found just so happened to be near Hawaii. Do you understand?”
“But it seems the local fishers and surfers are raising their voices in concern…”
“The results of the calculations by the Glamorous Devil were given to them. That’s the nickname of the supercomputer in Florida, in case you didn’t know. Anyway, from what I hear, they all fell asleep only twenty minutes into the explanation. It seems to me that they trust our conclusion.”
“Some claim that they are being dragged to our waters so they can be recovered and studied in secret.”
“You need to be careful about what you say, Mr. Reporter. This is something that hasn’t even happened yet, so that is nothing more than speculation. And to be even more accurate, it is speculation from some Anti-American propaganda being distributed from a German intelligence agency. …Whoops, I probably shouldn’t have named the country. I was supposed to keep the friction with the EU a secret.”
When the president even stuck out his tongue in front of the camera, the young reporter let his head hang down and his shoulders shook to hold back his anger. Getting people to let secrets slip was part of his job, but that had been more like a present given to him by the president. The president was not even allowing the game to begin. In a column printed in the London Ingod, he had been referred to as a strange politician who upped his approval rating using verbal slips like that.
A female reporter raised her hand.
“It seems the EU is planning to dispose of their golden rings and bones via the Atlantic Ocean, but they do not have enough sources of funds to cover it. Do you have any comments on that?”
“Oh, come on. I’m the US president, so ask me questions about the US. That’s like bringing up another woman in the middle of dinner.”
“And if I record that as proof of sexual harassment?”
“When I truly go after a woman, I give her such a memorable experience that any previous complaints are blown away.”
A middle-aged reporter then butted into the conversation.
“Mr. Scandal, it sounds like you’re going back on your marriage proposal, so are you going to be the first single president now?”
“Nick, I can’t change who I am. Or maybe I should become the first US president to go bankrupt from divorce reparations. But I’d have to have at least as many exes as there are states to manage that.”
(November 10 – Oahu – Near the Press Conference Room – From the footage taken by a tourist’s video camera)
“Mama, where’s the president?”
“We might be able catch a glimpse of him.”
A blonde girl of about five was in the center of the frame and a motherly voice could be heard from out of the frame. The blonde girl was waving around a small American flag.
“If we wait here, will I be able to shake his hand?”
“That could be difficult. They’ve been getting stricter lately due to terrorist attacks. We might not even be able to get near the convoy of black cars.”
The mother’s response may have sounded harsh, but that was the state of things. If she did not tell her daughter that, then the girl could very well get away from her mother and charge for the line of cars.
Due to the recent war, the strange state of security was beyond description. When it came to protecting the president, they would mercilessly “neutralize” even a five year old girl.
But that was also why a video that even caught a glimpse of the president’s face was valuable enough to boast about to the neighborhood.
“What is it, Jenny?”
“It’s the president. The president is coming this way. Heyyy!”
The footage from the video camera shook in confusion.
Even if the girl was only five, she saw the president on the news each morning. The mother doubted she would mistake someone else for him, but…
Suddenly, the footage shook wildly.
It became almost impossible to see what was going on.
It was snatched away.
The mother had pointed the lens in the direction her daughter had pointed, but someone had grabbed the camera from her hand.
As the frame showed the young mother’s stomach at an angle, adults speaking could be heard from outside the frame.
“Kyahh!? Why are you…Bfh!? M-M-Mr. President!?”
“Sorry, missus! I’ll be borrowing this for a second,” said Roberto Katze in a very different tone from when he spoke on TV. “Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten so indiscriminate that I go after mothers, so I hope we can keep this quick!!”
“W-wait, why are you here!?”
“Mr. President, can I shake your hand?”
In the shaking footage, a large Hispanic man could be seen politely shaking the small girl’s hand and then rubbing her head with his large hand. The frame was then filled with his face.
His gaze darted around as he spoke quickly.
“You may not believe me, but something strange is going on in the center of the government. The details are unclear at the moment, but it’s being caused by an external factor. People who were completely normal the day before are suddenly becoming enemies of America as if they are being controlled by someone else. How good a person they were originally makes no difference. I cannot deny the possibility that the same will eventually happen to me if I stay in the White House. As such, I will be making sure no one knows where I am for a while.” As he spoke, the president’s rapid breathing must have been hitting the microphone because static would mix in at irregular intervals. “I repeat. I am disappearing of my own free will. I have not been abducted by some third party. I hope that whoever sees this is able to act rationally. From now on, I will be acting as a member of the US government in order to deal with the danger that is growing in this country.”
After saying that, the footage shook greatly. It seemed he had handed the camera back to the mother. The camera was still shaky, but it now showed the president’s entire body.
He was holding a small attaché case in one hand and was gently shooing the holder of the camera back with the other.
“You don’t need to contact the police. I doubt it would help if you did. There is a reason that I am leaving this message so that it can be heard by others. You two should just enjoy your time in Hawaii.”
The president then left the still-confused mother and forced his way across a road filled with cars. Shortly thereafter, the back entrance of the press conference room opened and a number of men in black suits cut past the camera.
“Well, that was certainly more than a glimpse,” said the mother getting excited at the treasure of a video she held in her hands.
“Maybe I can marry the president.”
Her daughter’s dangerous words brought her back to her senses.