The next day. The Witch-Hunting festival carried on as planned.
The damage caused by the incident related to Mephisto was limited to the church that stood on the training grounds, the students who were under the attraction spell didn't remember anything and everything came to an end without alarming the public.
The student council president upheld the promise she made with Ouka and took over the organization of the Witch-Hunting festival instead of Reima.
『"Must've been hard〜 well done〜. Yes, just like promised."』
While saying so nonchalantly, Nagaru held out her soft-looking cheek towards Takeru.
When Takeru faced Nagaru like that, he started to think. The incident this time, the platoon was involved because of Nagaru that's for sure. However, she was trying to do what she thought was just. Similarly to Sougetsu, she had some kind of ambition, but she couldn't be one-sidedly branded as a villain.
Above all, Takeru said those words influenced by the flow. Takeru felt that he needed to be more responsible as the captain, and act to protect his comrades.
For making him more aware of it, it's not like he didn't feel any gratitude.
That's why, Takeru decided to——pinch Nagaru's cheeks.
『"Aaa〜〜〜〜〜! Ooch och! Iw huwtss! Notch gyoing to hitch me〜?!"』
『"No... without doubt this time you're the one responsible for all of this, but you... since it's not all your fault, that's why umm. I won't be satisfied with hitting you."』
『"Dyats why you pyinchi me〜?!"』
『"If I didn't do anything I wouldn't be able to settle down... since your cheeks seemed soft, I suddenly felt like pinching them..."』
When he stopped pinching her and removed his hands, Nagaru rubbed her cheeks with tear-filled eyes.
『"How horrible〜... unexpectedly, are you an S? I've heard you were an M though."』
Takeru ignored her slander and cut to the chase.
『"President, what are you going to do now?"』
『"All the student council members aside from me are dead〜, so I have to run a campaign electing members to supplement it. It's a real pain in the ass, I have to do something about the points〜."』
『"...then I have a suggestion, are you open for it?"』
As he said that, Nagaru started to listen attentively while looking at Takeru with her amber-colored eyes.
『"How about the 35th Test Platoon helps with the special missions of the student council starting from next year?"』
Although he felt it was an outrageous proposal, he still continued.
『"I'm only capable of doing odd-jobs, I cannot make use of my member's ability effectively. I'm thinking about becoming your strength."』
『"...'so' you say... if you do that, I'll be troubled."』
『"Nufu〜fun."』 she exhibited cat-like behavior and looked straight into Takeru's eyes.
He though she was a shrewd person, it was a good guess.
It was a good thing she realized it quickly.
『"We want you to lend us your strength. The information you have is probably beyond what Ootori has gathered. Valhalla and Inquisition... also information on Relic Eaters, that's what we want."』
『"I won't tell you to fight together with us. No matter what we've been fighting against up until now, you have no knowledge of it. But that's why, we want you to lend us your wisdom."』
As Takeru said that with a serious expression, Nagaru continued to nod and mutter 'hmm hmm'.
『"I shee I shee. But are you really going to enter student council for just that?"』
『"No. We're not entering. I have no intention of burdening you with the role of captain. We'll be only helping out. We're going to remain as the 35th Test Platoon, and you'll be alone in the student council."』
『"Don't 'Uuu' me here."』
He couldn't go easy on this kind of tactician-type person, and he acted strictly with her. The pouting Nagaru suddenly smiled.
『"I didn't expect you to know how to bargain."』
『"It's not a bargain, but trade."』
『"Fufu〜, I like that attitude of yours. You've become more capable have you〜."』
Nagaru said that and held her hand out to Takeru.
『"It's a deal. I will provide you with information, and you will do work for the student council. Is that fine?"』
『"Yes, I appreciate it."』
He lowered his head and held Nagaru's hand.
『"Nfuu〜 amount of comrades has increased! Yaay!"』
『"We're not your comrades."』
『"Don't start with the 'Uuu' again ."』
——And so on, like that, the 35th Test Platoon and student council have teamed up.
Honestly, there were no guarantees since it was an unofficial cooperation which wasn't reported to Chairman and it wasn't sure whether they could trust Nagaru. Nevertheless, Takeru determined that they should bring in Nagaru who was left alone to cooperate with them. Although it was still unclear what will they gain from it, but since her information gathering skills were excellent, it should be useful.
Takeru finally started to move in order to get a better view on things.
"...it's going to get busy from now on."
Chairman's objective, Valhalla's objective, and the truth behind Relic Eaters...
It was as if a huge wall appeared in front of him with a lot of missing pieces. Takeru who only thought about becoming an Inquisitor was dragged into the vortex of events before he noticed.
He still hasn't found a way to break the status quo, but he certainly took a step forward.
Struggling against those who wanted to make use of him and his comrades...
"...well, there's still a lot of problems..."
Murmuring that, Takeru scratched his head. But before he reached these, he had to solve the one at hand.
For example... yeah, the cosplay social meet.
The break time was over, he opened the borrowed classroom's door and sighed.
In front of him, was a scene that seemed like pandemonium.
"How dare you touch a maiden's soft skin! Are you prepared, camera brat?!"
"Y-you're wrong! I didn't touch anyone! Our shoulders only bumped against each other——gefu!!"
A man was sent flying on Takeru's right side.
"I TOLD YOU I'M NOT WEARING A RANDOSELLLLLLLLLL!!"
"B-but I paid for it, why...! This is a scam——gyahhh!"
This time a big man went past Takeru's left side.
"——What happened? Why are you crying? I just answered your question. I have said what I think about you as requested. I mimicked human thinking processes and evaluated you, I ended up with a single word description of you namely 'scum'. To ask someone with such a childish figure to become your wife, from the perspective of an ordinary human you must be suffering some kind of affliction. I shall not call you a sex offender, however I'd like it better if you differentiated 2D from reality. After I analyzed those three points I come up with an answer "Disgusting". You can be represented with a single word like this. I feel that human language is primitive, however this one word perfectly fits you. Disgusting. You make me sick. By saying these versatile words I am able to describe your personality well."
Furthermore, an azure girl sitting on sofa made a large adult man cry.
When Takeru saw that scene,
"What... is this hell...?"
The melancholic mood he had earlier was blown away, something that seemed like despair took a hold of his heart.
——It was the day of the Witch-Hunting festival. The school was busy with students and tourists visiting it. Since a lot happened in here recently, they didn't expect to attract many customers, but thanks to the leaflets handed out by the Dropout Alliance members the cosplay social meet was thriving... or it was supposed to.
The guests came, a lot of them. But they ran away, almost all of them.
Ikaruga walked towards Takeru who was too scared to enter the classroom.
"I overlooked this. All I thought about were the outer looks, but we do have bankrupt personalities don't we."
"Didn't you notice it... a bit too late?"
Takeru retorted and looked at Ikaruga. She was wearing a sensational cosplay of a devil with wings. Just like Usagi whom he saw yesterday, it was the type that covered the things that should not be visible with patches, moreover they weren't bushy ones like the Usagi's.
It could be said that it's something those below age of 18 shouldn't see. Moreover, she held a whip in her hand.
She soundly hit the whip against her hand a few times.
"......the whip suits you too well."
"You like it? I can service you if you pay money? Softcore? Hardcore? Maybe deep?"
Not wanting to be taken for an M, Takeru looked away.
"Oh, yeah. Usagi is waiting for you in the platoon's room. She asked me to tell you if you had come to the classroom."
"Yeah. To fulfill the promise or something."
With that said, he remembered what he promised Usagi. Yesterday he was exhausted and returned home after all was over.
"Is that fine? With such a apocalyptic scene going on."
"We'll manage somehow, so you can go. If it gets tough we can always earn money through a photo session, girls from the other platoons are doing their best as well. Ootori and Nikaido can't do any service... Lapis has some people who can't resist her so it's OK... honestly, it's quite a chore."
When he looked into her eyes, he found they were round and sparkly. She must be having a lot of fun.
Takeru apologized and left for the platoon's room.
Five minutes later. After he opened the platoon room's door, he found Usagi and froze.
In front of the sofa, beside the table, stood Usagi.
It was ribbon. A ribbon like ones used for wrapping presents was the only thing that covered her body.
"Yy-yo-you w-wha-what! C-clothes...!"
"Tt-t-this is... I was told that it would be unforgivable unless I greeted Kusanagi like this... that's why!"
Even if she was told to do so, how could she wear a ribbon like this without suspecting anything. Well, honestly accepting everything is what makes Usagi herself.
"I-i-if it's like t-this, Kusanagi will be happy... is what I was told...! T-t-that's why I!"
Involuntarily, he looked at the ribbon that seemed to dig into her soft chest.
When he looked closely, there were letters written on its surface.
Ikaruga Suginami Presents!
"H-have I made a mistake after all?! Have I lost control of myself?!"
"You're not at fault. Yeah, Probably not. For now, wear some clothes..."
"Uuu...uu... I've shown you something unsightly..."
"No, it's... not like that... I just don't know where to look... or rather I'm doing my best to control myself... umm."
Takeru moved towards Usagi with a flushed face and took his coat off.
Although his heart skipped a beat, it wasn't intended for sure? After specifically stating that in his mind, he wrapped Usagi in the jacket he just took off. She was suddenly surrounded.
"It's winter already... like that you'll catch a cold..."
"...ah, thank you."
"You've got goosebumps, geez."
While facing the other way, he had her wear the jacket.
An embarrassed Usagi moved her finger along her chest.
"Umm... then... about that..."
She moved her mouth and said with difficulty.
"T-the promise... from before..."
Usagi looked up at Takeru, and then looked down again. She was too embarrassed to make eye contact with him.
To Takeru, she seemed extremely cute. He smiled wryly and spontaneously placed a hand on her head. He started to slowly stroke it.
"You did well yesterday, Usagi."
With just that, Usagi narrowed her eyes and tears appeared in them.
If it's this, I'll do it whenever you want. Takeru still had a bitter smile on his face. For him as well, patting her head was something pleasant. As he said it and stroked her head, he felt it was a right thing to do.
She made a happy and peaceful smile.
"Can you do... more?"
Normally she would act reserved and get angry whenever she was patted.
It was probably just today that she honestly laughed and cried, as well as acted selfishly. It was a rare thing to see Usagi act this spoiled.
After that, even though he promised he'd pat her head for entire day without thinking about it, but he didn't think he would end up patting her head until the day was over...
He thought that there are days like this, and accepted it.
Reima and Usagi's engagement was called off soon after.
The day before the Witch-Hunting festival Tenmyouji Reima went missing. After the battle with Mephisto, Inquisition rushed to the church immediately but wasn't able to find Reima.
In the end, he's been treated as missing.
However, the Small Fry Platoon learned that at later date.
——Right after Mephistopheles has been subdued, at the mock battle training grounds.
Inside of a sea of object mimicking a city, Reima was running away from something that resembled a machine.
"I n-need to... run... away...!"
His legs were tangling, drool was hanging from his mouth and his body was swaying to the sides as he ran.
"I'm not... done yet...! I can't let myself be caught...!!"
His tremendous tenacity acted like a whip lashing his broken heart, allowing him to run. He had to escape school before Inquisition rushed in, if he turned to his father for help, it would work out somehow. Although he would be abused, his family won't abandon him.
Reima believed in his father's mercy and reached ahead.
However, the one standing in the darkness wasn't his father.
He thought it was a member of Inquisition, but that wasn't it.
Clad in dark green armor... with a huge distorted gun in its right hand. Although that figure was similar to Takeru's Witch Hunter form, it was slightly different from it.
It was different from the monster enveloped in azure, a different threat.
"W-what the fuck are you...! Kusanagi's comrade?! L-let me off! I'll apologize however you want! I beg you!"
Weeping miserably, he knelt in front of the demon clad in dark green armor. The demon stared with cold eyes at Reima.
"Whether it's money or position I'll give you anything... I'll be your slave... save me."
It was an abrupt death sentence stated in one short word.
The demon aimed the muzzle towards Reima and fired. With a tremendous roar, dark green magic diffused from the muzzle and destroyed everything in front of it.
Before Reima was able to notice anything, he turned into a blood splatter.
The demon stood in the pool of blood left behind by Reima who vanished and with a loud sound he pulled the still smoke-spitting gun's lever.
"Annihilation of the objective complete. Is this fine... Chairman?"
He muttered despite no one being anywhere close. Soon after, a voice sounded in his head.
《"Well done, Kirigaya-kun. Cheers for the good work, you passed the first test."》
The demon clad in dark green... Kyouya frowned when he heard words of appreciation said by Sougetsu.
"Don't give me that. This is the test? Why didn't you allow me to intervene when Kusanagi was fighting? You had me monitor Tenmyouji Reima and Mephisto... and only clean up afterwards?"
《"It couldn't be helped. I didn't expect them to stick their heads in this. I bet it was the student council's work. No matter, although she was told 'Mephisto doesn't exist', Hoshijiro-kun still stirred trouble. Just think of this as of irregular and leave it at that."》
《"Rest assured. There's a lot of them to kill. You who knows the truth about this world should know that right? From now on, anything can happen in this world."》
Kyouya spat that out with disgust and directed the huge shotgun towards the sky.
It was a shotgun clad in ominous miasma, on its body "The Malleus Maleficarum V "NERO" " was carved in.
"Then hurry up and start it already...! I won't lose to Kusanagi, so hurry up and kick it off! That second Witch Hunt War of yours!"
He raised a war cry and shot a blank from his shotgun into the air.
Dark green particles were released and lit up the night sky. However, that light was too irregular to be really called 'light', horrifying... and filled with doom.