Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume4 Sub.06
Her body battered by the fierce attacks from Monsieur Microwave Oven, Saflee Opendays dragged herself back to the waiting room while leaning up against the wall. The spiky-haired boy must have left because she was the only one there.
Her first victory had been a tough one.
“That bastard wasn’t half bad,” she muttered under her breath as she took a sip from a bottle of mineral water.
The metallic taste made her grimace and she spat it back out into the provided sink. Even after being hit by the attack, she still had no idea how electromagnetic waves could injure her within her mouth.
(Is every match going to be that tough? It isn’t my style to fight while thinking about how much damage I’m accumulating.)
She did not have enough energy left to change back into her normal clothes. Still in her battle dress, she sat on the bench and breathed a heavy sigh. Natural Selector was a tournament style competition where the first round was completed on the first day, the second round on the second day, and so forth. As such, no competitor had to fight in more than one match per day. This meant Saflee had no further plans for the day now that she had finished her match, however she was unsure if she could recover from the damage she had taken in just that one day.
Suddenly, a screen she did not recognize appeared on the lock panel next to the door.
She was confused, but then she heard rushed footsteps and Baggage City security guards rushed in. For how much they hated Academy City, their methods were more or less the same. Their clothes were damp in places and snow covered their shoulders, so they were unlikely to be guards that patrolled the inside of the dome-shaped facility. They had likely walked in through the blizzard outside.
“Are you okay?”
“What is it? Is there a short circuit, meaning I’ll get a shock if I touch that panel?”
“It seems that there has been an intruder. Just to be sure, we are checking on the safety of the higher ups and the competitors.”
The faces of the spiky-haired boy and Monsieur Microwave Oven entered Saflee’s mind.
“That’s quite a task. Aren’t there about a hundred competitors alone?”
“There are more of us, so that is not an issue.”
“And yet you did not do a thing in response to those self-proclaimed MIBs.”
“This intruder is different. It is possible that this one is directly related to Academy City.”
Saflee gave a heavy sigh upon hearing those stubborn words.
(It would just be a waste of time to lecture them about destruction.)
She then started to rethink things about that spiky-haired boy.
How had that amateur boy even gotten into Baggage City?
(It seems those self-proclaimed MIBs snuck in too, so did he happen to find the hole they entered through? It would have taken some doing to wait around until they opened that hole, but that boy didn’t seem like the type to do that.)
Why had that boy snuck into Baggage City?
“—Their objective is sure to make a lot of people suffer when it comes to the surface.”
Saflee sighed once more.
She then stood up from the bench.
“What are you going to do about this intruder?”
“And what am I to do?”
“Please wait here until this has been resolved. We will guard you.”
“I repeat: And yet you did not do a thing in response to those self-proclaimed MIBs.”
“We are not talking about keeping the matches fair. We are talking about making sure Academy City does not steal the technology that could become the key to the Anti-Academy City Science Guardians’ future.”
(This clearly isn’t leading to any exhilaration.)
That was the martial arts obsessed girl’s opinion.
Abandoning somebody just because she was not obligated to help them did not lead to the exhilaration she spoke of either. The sort of people who would worry themselves over something like that would also say that "all destruction is wrong" with a self-satisfied look on their faces, which made her feel that the world was extremely messed up.
Saflee Opendays looked back over toward the Baggage City guards. There were four of them. They all wore military uniforms and helmets and were armed with pump-action shotguns.
“It looks like doing as you say would be the wise choice.”
“You don’t have any reason not to, do you?”
“The problem comes from the fact that I do.”
A chop to the neck.
A fist to the gut.
A throw that sent his back slamming to the ground.
Pressure to the carotid artery.
After quickly incapacitating the four of them, Saflee put her hands to her hips and sighed.
“It’s strange how people call you kind when you say you held back. You’re still employing violence nonetheless.”
Even if they were unconscious, she could not bring herself to change in front of them, so Saflee exited the waiting room in her battle dress.
“Wah! God, it’s cold!!”
She immediately went back in and swiped one of the guard’s jackets. Even if the heating was cheap, it was still there, so she had forgotten how impractical that show business dress was. It did help a bit with the cold, but it really was not much better than wrapping her own arms around herself.
“Shit, it’s soaking wet with melted snow. Will this help with the cold at all?”
She headed to the exit of the domed facility only to find a pure white landscape beyond the glass door. Only along the heated roads could black asphalt be seen. It may have been partly due to the rows of rectangular concrete buildings, but the scenery just made her feel even colder.
For an instant she considered forgetting it all and turning back, but she stuck with it.
When she opened the glass door and left, she was overcome with regret just as she expected.
“Noo!! This is a lot worse than fighting some military dog!! In fact, I almost wish there was a dog in these clothes!!”
The boy had said he was looking for a connection between the higher ups of Baggage City and the organization known as Gremlin. He had no hint in regards to Gremlin, so his natural next step would be to investigate the higher ups of Baggage City. It was only natural that would lead to him tripping an alarm.
And so Saflee began her search for the spiky-haired boy.
Her primary goal was to ensure that the boy did not get shot by the guards for sticking his head where it did not belong. The secret about Baggage City that the boy seemed to know was a separate issue. She would wait until she knew if it would lead to exhilaration before she decided what to do about it.
“When I find him, I’ll knock him unconscious. That’ll be the quickest way to get him out of danger and hide him from the guards.”
Saflee’s plan was a good example of the motto “simple is best”.
She headed for the closest off-limits area, a former resort hotel that had been turned into an office for the higher ups.
She silenced a group of three or four guards with her fists when they called out for her to stop, entered the hotel through the business delivery entrance, and managed to catch up to the boy.
“Huh? What are you doing h—?”
With the ease of waving one’s hand, Saflee let an attack fly toward the person she had been trying to find. With its great speed and unexpected timing, it was quite the cruel attack. Her upper arm struck Kamijou’s neck as if she were trying to create a headless rider and he rotated around partway before falling to the ground.
As Kamijou lay with his limbs sprawled out and his mouth opening and closing wordlessly, Saflee held up her index finger and spoke.
“Damn, my hair’s a bit frozen. You really have put me through a lot of trouble. You should really be thanking me for ensuring that this is all you had to deal with, amateur. I’ll fill you in on the details, but let’s get out of this off-limits area. …Or do you really plan on heading right into the private area of the leaders here?”
“Did it hurt? Well, a 12-gauge shotgun shell wouldn’t leave you with enough time to even feel any pain, so be careful. Honestly, a contestant like me should avoid picking fights with the leaders here, so don’t make me have to save you again.”
Kamijou was still not moving, so Saflee grabbed his arm and started to drag him along like a stuffed animal. Naturally, she was dragging him away from the mystery he was after. She was dragging him to safety first. Avoiding tragedy was a lot more difficult than creating it and that was why some preparation was needed in the pursuit of exhilaration.
“Miss Saflee Opendays,” an elderly voice said.
A grimace smoothly appeared on Saflee’s face.
She turned around and found an executive surrounded by numerous guards.
He was Weissland Strainikov. Everyone would know him as one of the leaders of Natural Selector even if they had never opened a pamphlet about Baggage City. He was the leader of one of the three large groups making up the Anti-Academy City Science Guardians. After she had completed her objective was one thing, but he was currently not someone she could be angering.
“I appreciate your help in keeping the peace, but you are restricted from this area as well. Now, how about you let us deal with the rest?”
“Are you telling me to hand this boy over to you?”
“If you have anything else to offer us, now would be a good time.”
“Tch,” Saflee clicked her tongue. “So even though he’s been incapacitated and is no longer a threat, you still want to finish him off?”
“If you hand him over, we could possibly avoid that.”
She had no real reason to go that far in standing up for Kamijou Touma.
However, she had a few absolute rules in regards to the exhilaration of destruction.
One of those was to not leave things in a way that left a bad taste in her mouth - that was one of her principles.
However, at the same time, Kamijou Touma had snuck into Baggage City, so she should not have felt any hesitation over handing him in to the authorities.
“And how likely are you to throw him in a cell and then shoot him after I hand him over?”
Weissland did not respond.
Instead, the guards took a large step forward. Among the guards was a flippantly smiling blond man.
“C’mon, this would have been so much easier if you had just promised he would be fine. It didn’t even have to be true,” Saflee said.
“Would that have fooled you into giving him to us?”
“No, I would have been able to quickly tell you were the bad guys, so I could kick your asses without guilt.”
“Then I suppose we can think of you as another intruder.”
“That wasn’t a lie, so I suppose so,” said Saflee with a nonchalant expression. “But that would put me in the same boat as this boy, so I would have to do my best to ensure we got away.”
“What about Natural Selector? Did you not come here in hopes of gaining something in victory?”
“I can always join in as a mysterious masked beauty. I don’t have to obey the tournament style. All I really have to do is prove I’m the best and there are plenty of ways to do that.”
“How strong of you.”
“I’d rather you wait to say that until I’ve proven it.”
“One last question. Can that strength of yours remain undistorted if you use it to help an intruder who will bring danger to Baggage City and the Anti-Academy City Science Guardians?”
“Oh, I think it would be much more distorted were I to abandon him.”
Saflee felt clear killing intent coming from the guards. Normally, there would be no way a single unarmed person who had to carry an unmoving person could stand up to multiple men armed with shotguns. However, Saflee was a candidate for the one who had a means of opposing the espers of Academy City. She was one of the “freaks” that had been invited there because she was expected to possibly go beyond that kind of normal thinking.
However, something else happened before they could clash.
Kamijou Touma spoke.
“No. I think the intruder you’re talking about isn’t me.”
With that comment of unknown meaning, Saflee and Weissland’s turned their attention toward Kamijou.
“I came here to stop the intruders you’re talking about.”
“Are you talking about Gremlin?” asked Weissland. “From your actions in Hawaii, it seems you view them as your enemy, but we view things differently. Whatever their ultimate objective is, they cannot attack the Anti-Academy City Science Guardians or Baggage City until it has been achieved. And that does not matter to us. We have never intended to stick with Gremlin to the very end.”
“…No,” said Kamijou Touma as he took slow breaths. “I have to do something about Gremlin, but something else is headed to Baggage City.”
“Did you really think Academy City would wait around doing nothing while you did all this? Of course not. With something as big as this, Academy City would want to nip it in the bud as quickly as possible. They will have sent in some of their very best. Do you really think that would be a high school student who can be taken out with a single lariat?”
“They are coming,” muttered Kamijou Touma. “They are coming. Your true enemy is coming. They are the deep within Academy City No. 990910991.”
Just after Saflee let out that voice of confusion, they came.