It was five o'clock in the morning, the sun had yet to fully rise. In the courtyard of the apartment over which fog hung.
A boy wearing a reddish-brown jersey was vigorously exercising with a tree branch in his hand.
He moved at a speed that could be called the limit of human's brain. The boy freely danced in the courtyard.
That boy, Kusanagi Takeru scattered sweat while chasing the shadow of an imaginary enemy.
The enemy were five people. The Hero whom he fought before, the King Arthur's movements were reproduced in his head."
Enemy's movement speed, speed of his attacks, pressure of his slashes, he avoided and repelled enemy's attacks.
He was made of flesh and blood. He couldn't allow his opponent to land a single blow on him.
Again and again, he endlessly returned the blows to the enemy.
Of course, he released the technique allowing him to control the brain limits, the Soumatou.
He had dropped the effect to minimum, but the exhaustion and load on the body was tremendous. It was a discipline he had repeated many times before but neglected ever since the beginning of high school. He resumed the training after confirming its necessity.
Repeating it ever since young age until middle school, he tried hard enough to cough blood.
But, it wasn't enough. It was nowhere near enough.
Swinging down the sword with his entire body's force, he made a crack on Hero's head. Intending to forge himself, Takeru's body was gradually motivated by anger.
His anger was bleeding from the edge of his sword, Hero's limbs disappeared because of his disturbed spirit, they were no longer there. However, another shadow appeared in front of him.
It was flickering, it held a small sword, it grinned, it laughed.
『"You're too shallow——!"』
It appeared abruptly, took everything from Mari. Took his comrade, Kyouya, and killed Yoshimizu, he was in front of him.
Something burst inside Takeru.
He swung down with his sharpened sword, cutting him from above.
Straight, into the child of despair, into Haunted's brain——
Suddenly called, Takeru returned to normal.
Light returned to his pitch-black surroundings, a landscape covered with morning mist entered his vision.
And, standing beneath his blade, was Lapis who held a towel in her hand.
"...you started quite harshly haven't you?"
Lapis tilted her head like usual and asked blandly.
Takeru withdrew the wooden sword in a hurry and bowed.
"S-sorry, my bad. I didn't notice you. I didn't hit you... did I? Are you alright?"
"There's no problem. There's not a single wound in the spot flesh and blood Host has hit."
"No, that's not it. I'm really sorry."
He placed his hands on his head and bowed down again.
He couldn't tell whether it felt good for her or not.
"Every day, what did you start doing early in the mornings?"
She asked as he took the towel from her.
He wanted to retort on the matter of being under constant observation, it seemed like she always looked at Takeru from somewhere. Every time she appeared suddenly, and suddenly disappeared. It could be described as phantom, she was there before he noticed.
Takeru has become accustomed to it, and recently he was no longer surprised by it.
"Ah... this is training. For the time being."
"Originally it wasn't supposed to be done every day, but I skipped it ever since entering high school. The burden from Soumatou is huge, if I don't move my body every day it might not respond as it should afterwards."
"I see. So that's a daily routine of an M?"
"............ No it's not?"
You must be mistaken, I'm not an M? Lapis told Takeru with a straight face.
"Even without such a thing, Host is strong enough."
"There's no such thing. Even before this fight, I've been just dragging my feet. Until now I just relied on your performance. I fell apart every time after releasing the witch hunter form, I need to become a stronger host."
With a wry smile, he took his hand off Lapis head.
Lapis silently stared at Takeru once again, she gently closed her eyes and placed her hand on her chest.
"I understand what is in Host's heart. The disorder in Host's sword is not the same as the one in his hand. Host is lying isn't he."
"T-there's no such thing?"
"No. I know it."
Saying that she knows everything, she made a step forward.
Takeru wiped sweat and awkwardly looked away.
He still didn't know much about Relic Eaters, but if signing a contract = sharing the same destiny, the possibility of transmitting their thoughts to each other couldn't be denied.
Maybe Lapis knew Takeru's every thought?
What's Takeru's nature, she might know that.
As he thought that anxious, Lapis suddenly put her hands in her pocket and took out something.
"Stop saying that. You must be hungry right."
Expressionlessly, self-confidently believing in it with all her heart, Lapis showed him thumbs up. While receiving the anpan from her, he dropped both his shoulders, and his theories.
"Hunger is the enemy."
"You really don't get it... and why did you get something so big."
He had no choice in his meal, cursing he opened the anpan bag and took a bite.
The thing about his stomach being empty was true.
"When stomach is filled, the depression also subsides, that's something I have learned from previous host."
"? By mood, what do you mean... no wait, why do you think I'm depressed——"
Just as Takeru was about to ask her, the door of the apartment was opened all together and rattled.
From inside, came a woman and a man who had a night shift with grumpy expressions.
"Shut up Kusanagi! You're being annoying ever since the morning started with your rattling and buzzing!!"
"I came back home at five o'clock in the morning and have to go to work at seven? Hey, do you want to die? Want to die? Hee?"
"Come on, the abnormal noise that's coming out of your room is enough, spare us that..."
"You're flirting with little girls first thing in the morning...!"
It was the dwellers of other apartments. Everyone had blood vessels visible on their temples. Takeru's neighbors weren't bad, but for some reason he seemed to be a bother to them.
He apologizes profusely time after time and went back to the apartment dyed in morning glow to make a tasteless breakfast for Lapis.
Two weeks after necromancer Haunted's assault on the tournament.
The tournament was postponed, it was to be held again once the colosseum is repaired. This incident followed the Hero raid, multiple coverage regulations have emerged immediately, and people were unsettled. Distrust has gradually spread in the world. Why did they need to regulate the media. Why does Inquisition hide an enemy attack. In minor news and net magazines, various speculations appeared.
The hypothesis that emerged the most was, the citizen's greatest fear,
Possibility of second Witch Hunt War breaking out.
Even though their numbers decreased, tens of thousands witches were hiding, lurking hiding themselves from Inquisition.
What if that uncertain threat, that clique decides to attack the human race.
The sorcerer that has attacked the tournament, the threat of a Hero, after multiple attacks they started to doubt Inquisition.
Fear started to gradually spread around the world.
Morning classes were over, when they entered the noon break, the corridor in front of student council room was suddenly crowded.
The chance at acquiring points slipped away, *thud*, Saionji Usagi clenched her fist and twisted it after hitting.
Students around are all in harmony, and talking about the points for the platoon, the atmosphere was awkward.
The platoons that are determined to attain 200 points and to become second years have been already more or less determined, that is to say the 35th test platoon is...
Currently at 55 points.
By the way, the second 'get the point platoon' was at 110 points.
In the last place with a double score. It was easy to discern at glance just how bad was the small fry platoon's situation.
"Hey, there's still someone with double digit."
"Small Fry Platoon, they are still here, just like usual."
"No, no. I'm surprised they have that much points."
"That's thanks to Ootori Ouka."
"Compared to her, the rest of the bunch is..."
The students looked at one of the Small Fry Platoon members, Saionji Usagi at the same time.
But, after checking in what shape Usagi was, her ruffled hair and bright red face they looked away immediately.
Students went away scattering in various directions, Usagi stomped with increased intensity and raised an odd voice.
"I cannot stand it anymore! Our position might be bad but I can't stand being laughed for it! You guys are alive thanks to us!"
"Hey, you're too loud... it's confidential, confidential."
Takeru came out from the side of the classroom, and spoke to calm Usagi down.
Although Usagi glared at Takeru at first, but she was quickly discouraged.
"Ah, it's Kusanagi... good day to you."
"Good day to you as well. What's the condition of your left eye? Is it going to be healed soon?"
With that said, Usagi touched her left eye after being reminded about it.
On Usagi's left eye, an eye-patch was attached.
"If it was 20 years ago, I would've been blinded, but it seems like it's going to heal now."
"...does it hurt?"
"No, no. There's almost no pain, you don't have to worry about it."
Not to make him worry, Usagi smiled and laughed.
Even the 35th platoon wasn't intact. An injury said to be fatal for a sniper, an eye injury.
Although it couldn't have been helped, Takeru also felt responsible.
"...come on, could you stop making that kind of face. I've told you it will heal. I can even blink with it now."
"Rather than that, there are other things to be depressed about! Look, please look at this!"
*bam* *bam*, Usagi hit a place on the walls with their points on it, he looked towards the spot.
Takeru's expression changed and he started to blink.
"A stable increase... it's refreshing to see that in our platoon."
"Please don't go positive in a strange place now?!"
Despite Usagi's outrage, Takeru made a bitter smile.
Looking at it in another way, among the first years, the amount of platoons was running very low. Haunted's assault followed the Hero attack. The amount of people who left the school and the dead could no longer be ignored.
The 15th test platoon, although they still have points remaining, the only member that survived is Kyouya. The appearance of Yoshimizu Akira breaking down, and that of Kyouya's belly being pierced flashed through his mind, Takeru felt gloomy.
"My, my. Are you still in a slump? How dull. Is it because I wasn't here?"
He felt pressure on his left shoulder and looked that way, Nikaido Mari placed a hand on his shoulder and patted it.
"Pfft." She placed a hand on her mouth and laughed through it.
Seeing Mari's mockery Usagi puffed up her cheeks.
"You sure are carefree. Even though we're so desperate... what is it? Did you come to tease us?"
"Yup, I came to tease."
Mari said that with an incredible smile.
Usagi started stomping and screaming again.
"You piss me off! You really piss me off! You piss me off so much I can barely stand!"
*pshoo**pshoo*, steam was rising up from Usagi's head and she loudly was breathing from through nose.
Mari had an ecstatic look just like Ikaruga, and her body shook.
"Usagi-chan is really cute. I want to tease her. I understand why Suginami wants to teases her so much."
Mari acted just like an older sister, she put her hands on her knees and looked into Usagi's face.
"ufufu", she seemed to laugh elegantly.
"Then. How about in secret from the Chairman, this Onee-san will help you out? You know, I was living in the border so I have a lot of information〜"
"We don't need a small chest to lend her strength!"
"——Small chest has nothing to do with it does it!?"
Usagi counter-attacked, and both of them raised their voices this time! They were screaming like monkeys at each other.
This is the result when two characters that are easy to tease mess with each other, is what Takeru thought. He felt as if he was looking at two small animals trying to intimidate each other. He watched it for a minute, and he calmed down with that sight.
"Umm? Oh right, Mari. Don't you have a magic endurance experiment of a new material today?"
"Yeah, it's already over. I was told to go at full power, so I obliterated it with a blast."
Takeru's face turned slightly bluish.
"W-what kind of magic obliterates anti-magic material..."
"You know about my magic power, right? Something like that is easy."
She boasted and tensed her chest proudly, and she winked while fixing hat on her head.
What a dreadful girl, thought Takeru.
"Well, I probably overdid it a little〜. The Reginn bunch were all shocked."
"...you, are you by any chance having fun?"
"It's more fun than I thought. Unexpectedly, all of them are good people. The Reginns are quite amusing. As I destroy their newest weapons and armors they stubbornly create more and more to counter against me."
It's really funny, said Mari.
Seeing that Mari has a lot of fun like this, he felt a lot better.
She is now one of the students of AntiMagic Academy. Ever since that incident, although he proposed that she doesn't reveal herself as a witch, but Mari refused it.
Now she went to school with her identity of a genuine witch.
She mainly studies anti-magic science, and is involved in experiments. Although it was requested by the school, "I want to use magic to save people. I will do anything for that.", it became her hope.
Unfortunately, she wasn't authorized to take part in platoon activities, she couldn't get involved with Takeru and the others' activities, but whenever she had spare time she came over to play at their place.
At the standpoint of a witch, people around harshly glare at her, and the Small Fry Platoon members aside none of the students talks to her.
It was as if she was air, definitely she must have felt lonely.
"No matter what material they bring it's all useless. When I get my hands on it, even the Blue Crystal a certain someone was using would be easily destroyed〜. Noo, if that woman is my enemy——"
She raised both of her hands saying "good grief" and sighed,
Suddenly her muffler was wound around her neck, and tightened after being pulled on both ends.
"Hohoo, so you're aiming at my life even during peaceful days like this, you damn vixen."
Behind Mari was a girl with sunset-colored, ruffled hair, the Calamity, it was Ootori Ouka.
"Hahyuu?! Ootori Ouka... release me right now, s-suffocating."
"Of course you are. It's called preemptive attack, kill before you're killed."
"Y-youuu, you insensitive woman who can't read the atmosphere...!"
"No, its just that this muffler is really good for choking."
While still strangling Mari with the muffler Ouka tied it into a knot and looked at the board displaying points. She stared at the points the same way as Takeru did.
"Mmm. It's still no good..."
"Why does Kusanagi apologize?"
"During the Hero attack, I have refused the Chairman's fishy offer in rage... I should have at least asked for points..."
"Oh, that. If it was me I would have done the same. That man can't be trusted, in the first place the promotion is just a bait. We're students, we should steadily earn points——"
""You're one to talk.""
Said both Usagi and Mari.
"What is this woman, who skipped grades thanks to familial connections saying."
"Even though she preached me, acting all high and mighty. Something about me having special treatment〜, or something like that〜"
"I became a Dullahan because my ability and efforts were recognized! I didn't use any underhanded methods, they are false accusations!"
Yes yes, sure. The two of them looked at Ouka with contempt, and tears appeared in her eyes.
Takeru thought she was pitiful and decided to step in.
"Well, if she says that then it's fine. There was a lot of fuss recently we couldn't hold any platoon activities, I think that's pretty bad. We've been involved with a few things recently."
"I've decided to get involved on my own. The fact that we're not earning points is also partially because of me. To appeal to public, recently Dullahans are also performing investigations on C-rank magical heritages, it's going to get harder to get the points."
Ouka followed up to Takeru tearfully.
But after glancing at Takeru's complexion, she asked worried.
"...Kusanagi, is your body alright?"
"? Why? If it's my injuries, they've already healed."
"Not injuries. There is a sort of compensation when you use a Relic Eater. In the case of Vlad's its blood... what is it for Mistilteinn?"
Ouka asked causing Takeru to stand dumbfounded.
"I wasn't requested anything in particular... although it certainly consumes quite a bit of physical strength, there's nothing else."
"...is that so. But be careful. Relic Eaters are Magical Heritages. They're our enemies, never our comrades."
Just like usual, she demonstrated her magic allergy, being told that he thought he will ask Lapis directly. He looked around.
And he noticed.
"Eh? Suginami didn't come?"
Although Small Fry Platoon decided to come together during lunch breaks, this time Ikaruga was missing.
"Suginami didn't come today?"
Mari asked Usagi.
"Speaking of which, I haven't seen her ever since this morning."
Usagi thought for a moment and took out her mobile phone to contact her.
From the other side of the corridor a weak voice called him.
After he looked towards it, he saw Ikaruga in a white coat, chewing on a mint candy and playing with her hair.
"Y-you're late. What were you doing?"
Takeru asked, and Ikaruga,
Stared expressionlessly at Takeru's face.
"...Suginami? What is it?"
Seeing her poor reaction Takeru took a step closer to her.
It seems his worries were unnecessary.
Ikaruga narrowed her eyes and flashed a sexy smile.
"Are you curious? Do you want to know what I've been up to until now? Do you want to know everything about Ikaruga-oneesan?"
"No, I didn't mean that——"
Unreasonable. It's the usual pattern.
Because he was always being teased, Takeru sometimes thought about taking revenge on her.
For Takeru, being teased wasn't that interesting.
"Well, it's probably something like sleeping on the roof anyway, right?"
"Because you've been leading unhealthy life, you easily get sleepy. You should follow my example and move your body around a little."
Takeru preached with his index finger raised, Ikaruga stared in his face dumbfounded.
Weird. Her reaction was worse than usual. She was more serious than usual, it was as if she was expecting something...
Just when he was about to ask her what's the matter seriously, Ikaruga laughed carefree.
"What was I doing... I'm fine with telling you, but are you prepared for it?"
She leered at him, and then glared at him with full force.
"...isn't your character kinda weird?"
"Weirder than you think——reality isn't that sweet."
"...why are you spouting words making it seem like an important scene?"
"Because you're good at carrying, because you're the only one prepared to carry my burden!"
"What are you talking about?!"
"Even if you declare that you will carry half of my burden, don't think I'll fall as easily as the two over there!"
*bishin*, Ikaruga pointed at Ouka and Mari.
Ouka's and Mari's faces turned red instantly.
"Ww-who, w-what do you mean by fall?! I-I don't get it but that sounds annoying!"
"A-are you an idiot? There's no such thing!"
Seeing them make excuses in a hurry, "ufufu", she made a nasty smile.
Ikaruga poked Takeru's belly.
"Yaa, how enviable, Mr. Lady-killer."
As she said that, Ikaruga looked at point board.
She looked at the Small Fry Platoon at the bottom, narrowed her eyes and laughed.
"...you guys never change, do you."
"Don't talk like it's someone else's problem. You're one of our members, have some sense of crisis."
Takeru said and grimaced, Ikaruga glanced at him, her hair swung.
Her look was strangely serious causing Takeru to flinch a bit.
"...w-what, you're kind of weird today aren't you? Do you have a fever?"
"Nnn, it's nothing."
She said it, turned at the board with points and laughed.
Takeru had a sense of discomfort, for a while now she seemed strange. He couldn't tell what was strange, it was very vague.
"It's just as Kusanagi said. you should work on something other than making him into a perverted weapon."
Usagi stood between them and drew closer to Ikaruga.
Ikaruga seemed weaker than usual.
"There's no helping it... fine then, I'll hack into Dullahan's database and pull up some dangerous cases."
"...i-it's really scary that you might actually do it."
"A big mountain is necessary right? Then we should aim at the largest one."
"We will turn into the ones being hunted! Also, why are you sparkling?!"
"Well then, let's start hacking... or rather, cracking immediately——"
In order to stop Ikaruga who started operating a watch-type device, Usagi pounced at her.
Afterwards, it turned into the usual scene.
After finishing lunch, it was the usual platoon activities.
Today as well Small Fry Platoon was in a stalemate, as a last resort they decided to hear the information on Magical Heritage Mari had.
Mari was from the border, it seemed like she was gathering information after entering Valhalla, she seemed to be very familiar with the underground.
She seemed. Her stories.
"Umm, umm... a big mountain right? First... this, there were sightings of a giant serpent sleeping in an ancient sewer. Look, underground around here, it became a spider nest? There's Mossie here! Also, sightings around here end with——"
"...well then this. Red and green clay pipe came out of the sewers because of a plumber. About this, siblings ate too much mushrooms——"
"It has nothing to do with magic. It's a hoax."
"............then this? A silver haired boy with wings who saved many parallel worlds——"
"It's just some kind of pitiful cosplayer with a screw loose in his head! Everything you said is either a hoax or a misunderstanding, are you a shady UMA magazine?!"
"It can't be helped! Almost all the information I've had, I revealed it during the interrogation!"
The members exchanged the barren information while eating tea cakes in platoon room. Mari and Ouka seemed to be completely familiar with the atmosphere and feel at ease in the room.
"That's all information we have collected isn't it... other test platoons and professionals seized most of the cases in the city... as expected, we can only find some at the border."
Usagi proposed with a meek look, Mari cut in saying "Nononono".
"You should stop there. You're underestimating slums. In there, thirty seconds after leaving checkpoints you encounter bandits, you will be kidnapped and forced to work in a brothel."
"...y-you really did well to live in such a place."
"Because that way of life has been hammered into me from young age by the Chairman. So I know which places are safe, but its still dangerous. You guys are dressed too neatly and will be immediately recognizes as strangers. If you wear AntiMagic Academy's uniforms you will be surrounded in no time."
Hearing that, Usagi's face turned blue.
Horizontally from her, Ouka crossed her arms and made a deep nod.
"I don't recommend it either. Even officers of Inquisition inside the border proceed with great caution when investigating. The test platoons can earn points in border but they need to apply for a permit."
"Hee, did something happen there in the past?"
"It happens every year... going inside without any knowledge of it prior to that, stupid freshmen enter the border and get wiped out."
"What happens to them?"
"Nearly all of them go missing. No platoon was left intact."
Hearing Ouka's response, Mari said "See?" while looking at Usagi. "grrrrr", Usagi started to shake anxiously and *bam*, she hits the desk.
"Then what do we do?! There's not even five months until the promotion deadline?!"
Mari has laid out a dubious weekly magazine, Usagi posed and furrowed her eyebrows.
"That's why I said, let's go and look for Mossie!"
"Go do that by yourself."
"I-I'll tell you now, what if Mossie really exists? There's ten billion yen reward if you find it!"
"Are you a kid? If you're saying that seriously you should go to a hospital, I'll introduce you to a good Seelie."
"Don't talk like I'm crazy! There were sightings! Come on, look at this photo!"
Shocking, champion of underground sewers! Fantastical unidentified organism Mossie! Four hundred meters long!
"Are you an idiot." "You're an idiot."
Said Ouka and Usagi in unison.
"What?! It might be a dragon!"
Mari protested with a tearful face.
"No matter what, it's too big to be real, that Mossie—"
"Only a fool like you can believe after being showed such a half-assedly made up picture. It says it's in a sewer, so why is there forest and mountains reflected in the background. Isn't that a fishing boat?"
"...ah, that's true."
"Y-you guys didn't gather together to make a fool of me did you?!"
"Oh, you finally noticed?"
Mari started stomping just like Usagi did.
Looking at it from outside, it would seem more like high school girls having fun in a family restaurant rather than the meeting of a test platoon.
Takeru who was in charge of preparing tea, placed a cup in front of everyone and made a forced smile.
He placed it in front of the three, and noticed that the fourth person isn't there.
When he looked around the platoon room, he noticed the last person sitting on a chair by the wall.
Takeru carried tea to the person by the wall.
"Are you not going to join?"
"...nn?! I'm not in the mood today."
Ikaruga took the cup of tea from him, set a leg on the chair and nestling comfortably she looked at platoon members. Without mingling, she watched them from a distance.
It wasn't really uncommon sight, it happened occasionally.
Ikaruga sometimes looked this way at her comrades. Even when there were only three members, she looked at the futile strategy meetings Takeru and Usagi held.
Takeru stood next to Ikaruga and sipped his tea while leaning back on the wall. Ikaruga also sipped her tea, and both of them made a bitter expression at the same time.
"You don't improve do you."
Ikaruga looked apologetically at Takeru who was about to cry and she giggled.
"Really, nothing changes... Kusanagi, Usagi, nor our Small Fry Platoon's state."
"No, something changed didn't it? It's become somewhat dangerous recently."
"That's not what I mean. I mean this silly feeling, the atmosphere."
With that said, aah〜, Takeru looked at Ouka and the others.
"Ouka came, Mari is staying over, I think it's become quite busy."
"But fundamentally nothing has changed. We haven't matured at all."
It sounded like an accusation, but Ikaruga's expression was relaxed.
They've known each other long, that's why he noticed. She didn't want it to change, that's what Ikaruga must've thought.
Takeru put on a bitter smile and thought about the past.
"Even if you say that, when there were only two of us and Usagi came, it was kind of awkward too."
After Takeru said that, Ikaruga curled up and narrowed her eyes.
That gesture was strangely sexy.
"What about the time when it was just you and me?"
"Ha? Because it was just the two of us......ah."
"35th platoon started in the high school didn't it〜? I met Kusanagi in middle school."
The platoon, because their sense of camaraderie was strong before that, he felt like it was continuing from middle school.
Ikaruga tilted her head towards where Takeru was standing, it felt like she wanted to snuggle up to him.
"Is that how I am seen by Kusanagi?"
"I-I didn't mean it in a bad way. It's a misunderstanding because of our long relationship. At the beginning it was just me and you... for some time."
He got embarrassed a bit and averted his face.
Seeing that reaction, Ikaruga came closer and pressed her lustrous breasts against him.
"It sounded like something a married couple would talk about...?"
"Usagi would be our real daughter maybe? Nikaido our stepdaughter?"
"Why does it turn out like that..."
"Oh, but your legal wife would be Ootori, I would be the mistress... with an ex-wife feel to it?"
"Don't talk like we had a divorce! Ootori has nothing to do with it does she?!"
"Aah, it's a harem so Ootori aside everyone is a mistress."
"It just turned out that way because everyone aside from me is a woman right?! A-also about you and the others, I haven't looked at you that way even once."
"Really, is it really that fun to constantly tease me?"
Displeased, he folded his arms, closed his eyes and grimaced.
Even after saying the word 'tease' like usual nothing happened, because the silence continued, Takeru opened one eye and looked at Ikaruga.
Ikaruga was looking a bit lonely, gazing at her comrades.
Her expression, was one he never saw before.
Takeru couldn't utter a single word, he could only stare at her profile.
"Well then, it's about time. There's something I want to tell you guys."
It was evening. The futile platoon activities were nearing their end, as usual. Ikaruga suddenly raised her hips from the chair.
Everyone's line of sight gathered at Ikaruga.
"I will be taking a break from school for a while. See you."
She said such a thing.
Takeru raised his face and asked.
"I'm fine with telling you——if you're prepared for it."
"I already told you."
"...no, in fact I."
Ikaruga moved the hands from her waist and joined them in front of her large breasts, giving them a meek look.
"——There's a Dragoon race being held tomorrow, Gaia is whispering to me."
"I know the risks. The Dragoon's race is a dangerous game, sometimes the audience is involved in accidents. Still, I can't suppress it, my heart is throbbing——"
"Isn't that just cutting classes!"
Takeru couldn't stop himself from retorting.
He tried to land a karate chop on her, but she distanced herself from him slightly.
"That's how it is, so continue the platoon activities without me."
"Hey, as captain I can't recognize such a reason!"
"Well then, you guys, do it properly when Ikaruga-oneesan isn't here〜"
She went pass Takeru with a lab coat on, and walked away with loud footsteps.
Of course, Takeru tried to chase and stop her.
But, Ikaruga stopped halfway as she was opening the door and unexpectedly turned her face around.
"Stay healthy, bye bye."
As she waved to them, he stopped his feet.
Ouka and Mari had a questioning look on their faces, it seemed outrageous.
"Seriously, what was that. I, it seems like I don't know Suginami that well yet."
"Yeah... I thought we get along well, but it seems like Suginami puts up a wall between us. I wonder if its because she's from another field, a technician... Kusanagi, why didn't you stop Suginami? As captain, you should whack her."
The familiar preaching voice of Ouka didn't reach Takeru.
Something, a strange uneasiness lodged itself deep inside him.
It was several minutes after Ikaruga left platoon room.
"? What is it, Takeru? You've been silent and have had a difficult expression for a while now."
"Kusanagi, you're the captain so give us a proper briefing. We will really have to repeat a year at this rate."
Hearing the voices of the two, Takeru looked up reminded of them.
"Sorry, sorry. What did you say?"
"...are you really all right? What are you spacing out for?"
Mari leaned over and stared at his face.
"...I'm a little uneasy, I think Suginami was acting pretty weird."
"? She seemed the same as usual to me."
Ouka tilted her neck while crossing her arms.
Takeru recalled it while staring at the ceiling, and scratched his cheek.
"I don't really get it but, it seemed really peculiar when I spoke with her? It was a little weird. Or rather, the tension was pretty unstable."
Hearing what Takeru said, Mari and Ouka didn't really get it and just tilted their necks.
"Also she... whenever she's going, she usually says 'see you' or "see ya later', or something like that."
"? So what?"
"And today she, she said 'bye bye' right? It's the first time, for her to say goodbye properly."
"...isn't that normal? You're brooding over something like that?"
Even though Mari said that, Takeru still felt uncomfortable.
Takeru didn't have a rational basis for it, but it's been four year ever since he first met Ikaruga.
It was something he could sense because of their long relationship.
And Takeru wasn't the only one who felt that.
"Certainly, it was strange."
Usagi seemed to think the same as Takeru, she was silent up until now.
"Because she——didn't grope my chest even once today."
She said it with a straight face, Mari and Ouka showed a troubled reaction.
"............i-isn't that good for you, that she stopped."
"It isn't about whether it's good or bad. At times like this Suginami is plotting something."
Usagi said that, put a hand on the desk and leaned over.
Takeru nodded strongly, agreeing with Usagi.
"Indeed. It was definitely strange."
"Yeah, there's definitely something."
The two veterans agreed.
Mari and Ouka had no idea, neither of them could pinpoint it.
"I wonder if its because you know each other for a long time. Because you've been fooling around together for a long time, you notice something we can't tell."
"N-no no, now that I think about it, I also think it was a bit strange? Yup, yup."
"...why are you changing your opinion. Don't try to mingle with them! Don't leave me alone!"
"B-because you can't read the atmosphere. I'm one of those who can do that!"
"It's not about being able to read the atmosphere!"
Is that so?! Ouka had a shocked expression on her face. He wondered if the two of them really got along badly, and he started to think about Ikaruga.
It might have been like Mari said, the four year long relationship between them might have made a subtle difference. Ikaruga is someone who could be called Takeru's first friend. He didn't have many people he knew from childhood. He had extremely bad relations with other people ever since he was young, even after coming to city he was isolated because he was always carrying a sword.
Under such circumstances, the only one who spoke to him was Ikaruga.
『"You're really interesting. I like you. I like sharp people."』
After telling him that, Ikaruga started to involve herself with Takeru. What led Takeru to how he was now was Ouka, but the one who taught him common sense was Ikaruga.
To learn common sense from the most insane person in the platoon might sound strange, but Takeru had been causing problems for other students, and if not for Ikaruga, he would have been expelled.
Although Takeru wasn't aware of it, but looking at it from the side, Ikaruga was like an older sister to him. It was the same for Usagi as well.
"............it'll be fine if it doesn't become strange."
As Takeru worried about her, suddenly, someone knocked on the platoon's door.
Usagi who was eating biscuits reacted quickly, stood up and trotted towards the door.
And when she opened the door.
"Usagi? What is it?"
"............certainly, someone knocked on the door, right? I can't see anyone."
Usagi made a questioning look.
Takeru also headed towards the door, and asked in the hallway.
Certainly, there was no one there. He heard voices from other platoons, but he couldn't see anyone.
"What is it? A prank?"
"I don't think there's anyone in school who would think of doing that, and... eh?"
When Takeru tried to close the door, he heard a weird sound coming from below.
After he looked down, he saw an envelope being put there.
He picked it up and looked at the address, 'To Kusanagi Takeru-sama', that's all that was written.
He was concerned with, but he didn't know anyone who would leave him a letter.
"What what...? A love letter—?!"
"L-love letter you say...?!"
"Even so it's quite simple... a brown envelope."
Mari and Ouka came over towards the door, and the entrance turned noisy.
"No, no matter how you look at it, there's no way it's a love letter..."
While saying that, he opened the envelope carefully and took out the letter from inside.
The contents inside were simple, a folded piece of B5 paper. All platoon members looked at the content of the letter.
They were really a bunch with no delicacy.
Unworried, he looked at the letter.
In there it said,
Suginami Ikaruga has betrayed the academy.
Just that, it was written briefly.