Every time Takeru comes to this place, he feels incredibly sad.
It's not that he didn't want to come here. He didn't mind the price he had to pay to meet her.
It's just that every time he comes to this place, he is reminded of something he would rather forget.
Of his own powerlessness.
"Kusanagi Takeru-san, right? I was waiting, do you have a visitation certificate?"
Asked by a woman, Takeru took out a card from his breast pocket.
The woman put the card in the reader and pushed two, three buttons on the keyboard.
"Confirmed. Next, list the items you——"
She passed a paper to him. Takeru took the pen in hand and wrote with a practiced hand.
It was a procedure he went through many times already.
What awaited him after this, was a thorough belongings inspection. Body washing. Triple body scan. Washing once again. And after passing through the body analysis filter twenty times, Takeru finally could see his little sister.
After riding on the escalator, he descended lower and lower down to the bottom. He slipped through fifty layers of partitions one after another. After he passed through them, the bulkheads behind him closed, and the ones in front have opened.
It was the same as always, but he always felt like a food item carried by a belt conveyor. It felt mechanical, inorganic, the process was way too strict.
But, unless he does this, Takeru won't be able to meet with his little sister. The last thick partition wall has opened.
On the other side, five Dragoons and one Dullahan were waiting for Takeru.
"Just on time, aren't you. Now then, we'll perform the last examination now."
Takeru raised his arms, and underwent the last body check.
The Dragoons all around firmly aimed their guns at Takeru.
After the body check was completed, the Dullahan bowed.
"Do your best not to tell the inmate about the school's structure nor the security of the Inquisition. In case any classified information is disclosed, it will be edited out from our side, however there will also be a penalty imposed on you on your future meetings, be warned."
"Please refrain from using gestures. As soon as we notice any signs of encrypted information relayed by gestures, you will be shot. Is that fine?"
"The visitation time you can use is 15 minutes, the timer will start immediately after you enter. The buzzer will sound in five minute intervals, the count will begin 30 seconds before the time ends. Be sure to exit before the zero count."
As Takeru listened to the simple explanation, something in the Dullahan's words confused him.
"Um, this time it should be 10 minutes..."
"The Chairman said he doesn't mind if we extend it by 5 minutes."
"『"Recently there was no opportunity for you to meet, think of it as a present to atone for that from me."』 is what he said."
As the Dullahan conveyed the message from Chairman to him, Takeru responded expressionlessly.
"...it's been a while, but please make it 10 minutes."
"Is that fine?"
Takeru dismissed it flatly and went towards the door to the visiting room.
It was an incredibly secure door with multiple doors on it.
He passed through a few disinfection filters, and a space appeared in front of him.
With only one light bulb hanging, a box-shaped jet black room.
There was a clear glass window in the middle of the room.
On the other side——there was a figure of a girl using her fingers to mess with a band-like device on her head, she was sitting on a folding chair.
When the girl saw Takeru, a smile appeared on her face and she moved her mouth as if looking for words.
"...it's been a while, Onii-chan."
The girl's voice flowed from the speakers attached to the ceiling of the room.
When Takeru heard the nostalgic voice, he smiled lightly.
"Yeah, I'm sorry for coming late again... Kiseki."
He called the girl's name.
Kusanagi Kiseki. Kusanagi Takeru's little sister.
His one and only blood-related family. Her age was the same as Takeru, they were twins.
Since they were dizygotic twins, they didn't resemble each other that much.
Slightly curly black hair, black pupils. She had small stature, thin arms and legs.
Unlike the robust Takeru, Kiseki gave off a delicate impression.
As if she were to break the moment she's touched, that's what others felt.
"No, don't worry about it. For Kiseki, time does not matter at all."
"I see. Then I'll be honest. Nii-chan was lonely not being able to to meet Kiseki."
As Takeru said that lightly, Kiseki reddened a little and laughed after placing a hand on her mouth. Takeru sat down on the folding chair in that stood front of Kiseki's and faced her.
"...did you grow a little?"
After hearing Takeru, Kiseki looked up at him and placed a hand on her head.
"I wonder? I can't tell myself... children grow in their sleep is what they say, right? I might have. Onii-chan too, has grown taller."
Takeru made a gesture similar to Kiseki.
"I've been training ever since I was small, I might have grown proportionally."
"...y-you turned so cool, hehehe."
She scratched her cheek in embarrassment and looked down as she spoke.
That gesture of scratching her cheek, is very similar to what I do. Takeru thought.
"How's school? Did something interesting happen again?"
"Oh right, in fact, I found a new friend. She's a problem child as well, but she won't lose to any of the platoon members——"
The moment he said 'platoon', Kiseki let out an "aa".
It must have been considered a part of classified information, his voice must have been erased. The glass window that separated them acted as a filter and even though he was visible through it, in fact it was a highly advanced display, Kiseki herself was even further down in the facility. If one said any classified information, sometimes a mosaic appeared as not to show the lip movement.
It was a meeting just in name, in fact it was just a conversation through video call. Nevertheless, it was a precious time for both Takeru and Kiseki.
Both of them were in separate boxes, and spend their time in a silly way.
They couldn't get close up and talk secretly, their speech was regulated, and they couldn't touch.
The two, could temporarily meet their family, and they clung to it.
"I see... a person with beautiful hair, and a person with a muffler. Onii-chan you accustomed yourself to having friends haven't you."
"Yeah, I think so. The two of them are at odds, but in fact, they both acknowledge each other. They're always at each other's throats, I've lots of fun seeing them like that."
"...by the way Onii-chan. That person with beautiful hair, is it a woman?"
When she said 'woman', Takeru was startled.
"Y-yeah, that's right."
"So that's it after all. That's right, because she's a woman you said she has beautiful hair."
"...w-what is it. Whether it's a man or woman has nothing to do with friendship right?"
When he tried to cover it up, Kiseki laughed lightly.
"Onii-chan's a poor liar."
"I-I'm not lying."
"Cause, when Onii-chan speaks of that person, he turns really lively."
"...there's no way that's true, is it."
"I seee. Onii-chan found someone he likes."
Kiseki is happy for you, she murmured while squinting.
"All Onii-chan did until now was worry about Kiseki... that made me worry too."
"But, I'm really glad."
The expression Kiseki displayed, showed loneliness.
"I'm sorry, Onii-chan. For saying ''that'' two years ago... I think Onii-chan's feelings are real. From the very beginning, Onii-chan was someone who could tell how people feel."
She stared at him with a motherly expression, which in turn made him put up a difficult expression.
"It's not that. The feelings I have for her is nothing like love. For me, she is... she is a benefactor of mine."
"Yeah. That's why, it might be close to affection. I don't really get it, but her cool appearance as she stands upright... feels incredibly dazzling to me."
With his eyes looking in the distance, he spoke about the girl with beautiful hair... Ouka.
These were the words from the bottom of his heart. For Takeru, Ouka was his benefactor.
Ouka herself probably hasn't realized it, it was just a result of what happened. Takeru started to think of her as of a benefactor when he finally settled down as he was now.
He wanted to tell Ouka about these feelings of his one day, but it was embarrassing so remained silent up until now.
"...I see. But, no matter what kind of feelings Onii-chan has for that person, Kiseki is happy about it. I think, it's a wonderful thing."
"Just seeing Onii-chan become cooler and cooler, is Kiseki's happiness."
Her endlessly gentle voice gripped Takeru's heart.
Onii-chan's happiness, is Kiseki's happiness too.
Every time she said so, Takeru felt unbearable pain.
"...happy... as if..."
Unable to stand it, he let out a hoarse voice.
At the same time, the buzzing sound came from the speakers and the thirty-second countdown started.
"...trapped in a place like this... made to sleep this entire time..."
"? Onii-chan, I can't hear you. What did you say? Onii-chan?"
"Looking all-happy hearing my story... saying that you're happy with that, as if..."
His words probably didn't reach Kiseki.
The people in the control room must have cut off his words. Without regard to it, Takeru continued.
"I can no longer see your face. What are you talking about? Can it be that you're crying? Hey, let me hear your voice? It's scary... Onii-chan."
Kiseki's anxious voice was silenced.
"The one who saved me wasn't Just Ootori... it was you too, Kiseki. Because you saw through me at that time... because at that time you reached out to me... I became the person I am right now!"
Takeru stood up from his chair and put a hand on the glass window-like display.
As he did that, the bewildered Kiseki overlaid her palm with his.
"Even though I know it was impossible... but it doesn't mean it's something that can be forgiven...!"
"Even though I know that I can't change anything in a world like this!"
"Even so, I want for you to... live a normal life...!"
Takeru's body collapsed and he knelt.
Kiseki looked at him with wonder.
"This is too much... I can't even relay something like this to you..."
After collapsing, he started to shed tears.
She bent her knees and once again overlaid her palm with his.
"Kiseki is happy with just being able to meet Onii-chan once in a while... okay?"
"That's the only thing I want. That's why, don't cry, Onii-chan."
Soothing him, comforting him, Kiseki whispered that to Takeru.
Takeru didn't know what she said, what kind of expression she had... even so, Kiseki embraced his heart.
In the current situation that wouldn't change, he suffered, and suffered, in the middle of his suffering a single door opened.
"——It's time. Please exit the room."
He heard the cruel words of the Dullahan who stood in front of the door.
Takeru stood up heavily, turned to his dearest little sister and took a deep breath.
Using that as an opportunity, he put on a mask.
"...I'll come again, Kiseki."
Turning around only once, forcing herself, Kiseki smiled.
Kiseki too, finally saw her brother's face and put on a relieved smile.
"Yup. I'll be waiting, always. Come meet me again. Onii-chan."
That was the exchange of their usual farewells.
Incredibly sad, incredibly ruthless, the siblings' farewell.
Kusanagi Kiseki was officially designated as an SS-class danger, she had a dedicated isolation facility dedicated to her in the deepest prison in the forbidden area.
Five years ago, a tragedy happened in a certain poor village.
The culprit who has massacred 300 villagers overnight, was Kusanagi Kiseki.
The incident hasn't been publicized and has been covered up as a natural disaster caused by great flood of a nearby river.
Kusanagi Kiseki was very special, as an extremely heretical existence, there weren't many who knew of her.
Her life mostly consisted of sleeping within a huge Iron Maiden. Except for the time during which Takeru could see her and the treatment that was performed on her on regular basis, she was never woken up.
The reason she was monitored this strictly, wasn't because she was a witch.
Strictly speaking, Kusanagi Kiseki's was a different type of heretical existence from witches
After her brother has left, Kiseki spat out a voice full of pain in the dark room.
"I'm sorry... I lied."
She grasped the hem of her clothes and smiled mocking herself.
At the same time, from the headband-type device on her head a sound of something charging rang out.
"Help me...I can't...stand it any longer...it hurts...it's painful...I can't bear it."
Feeling a faint headache, Kiseki pressed her hand against her forehead.
Tears spilled from her eyes.
"I want to meet Onii-chan... I want to touch Onii-chan."
The tears that stopped have started flowing once again moistening her cheek.
Her visibility turned hazy, and she fell down from the chair.
"Why didn't you... kill, save Kiseki...?"
Through the nausea and pain, Kiseki mouthed.
While screaming inside of her mind, she closed the eyes that were turning heavier and heavier.
《"Visitation is over. Let's start the treatment... now then, let's investigate her resistance to poison today. We'll closely measure the time it takes until her heart stops beating."》
As her consciousness was fading, she heard words that incited fear inside her come from the speakers.
She couldn't raise a scream, it was impossible for her to call for help.
The only thing she could to do to escape from the pain that made her feel like dying, was to dream about her brother's smile.
And so——Kusanagi Kiseki's hell continued.