Chapter 3 - First Counter-Attack

 

***

 

In the Alchemist's first research facility Suginami Suzaku, mesmerized looked at Kiseki inside of a water tank with her cheeks dyed red.

Seeing Hyakki Yakou completely controlled, Suzaku was enraptured by her own potential.

She felt a huge self-satisfaction from the feat of being able to control such powerful force.

——However, unexpectedly Suzaku made a wistful expression.

People of Suginami weren't interested nor satisfied by anything other than researching. They study, develop and after commercialization they lose interest in their experimental subjects. In other words, after getting the result they lose interest.

She didn't care where and on whom was the weapon used.

"...just this once... I am interested..."

With an ecstatic expression Suzaku touched the surface of the water tank.

"The world really is overflowing with strange things, isn't it... in particular, somewhere inside of this sample's soul there's a lot of information on mysterious immortality... it's the first time I want to see the results."

Without doubt the result will give her a new mystery.

There was still very, very much she didn't know about Hyakki Yakou. Structurally its genes contained characteristics of countless fantastical organisms and it continued to evolve.

Infinitely evolving lump of growing meat. Chaos.

The meat's structure is something between magical power and organic matter, it's close to that of magical organisms summoned to this world. They couldn't be controlled with Kiseki's will. Were they something like involuntary muscles? Maybe, the magical concept like curse is for fantastical organisms something genes are to humans?

When she showed Kiseki dreams of variety of situations, Hyakki Yakou made different reactions. When Suzaku gave her a stimulus the results exceeded her expectations every time.

Her euphoria raged endlessly. Her climax was infinite. Suzaku was burning up. The smell was similar to that of a human's blood, the appearance was shiny but on touch it was cold human skin.

...taste?

What is the taste I wonder. I wonder if there's a taste.

Breathing roughly Suzaku touched the barrier wrapping around Kiseki with her tongue and licked it.

"............as expected, that disgusts even me."

A voice has come from behind, with her tongue still extended Suzaku looked back in surprise.

Then, she met the line of sight of a man dressed like a priest.

"It has been a while, Haunted-san."

Suzaku blinked repeatedly and retracted her tongue.

"Really, you always appear from nowhere, don't you〜. I know you are semi-immortal, but I still don't understand the characteristics of your magical power's property."

"............"

"Oh, how about it? Won't you become my guinea pig? You might find a part of yourself you don't know of?"

Haunted moved towards Suzaku who was all excited and passed by her with a cold expression. Then he looked up at Kiseki in the water tank.

"On the surface Isuka-san was the same, but I really do hate Suginamis. Especially making up reasons for others to rely on them and satisfying their own greed for research."

"That can't be helped. That's the kind of beings Suginami are."

"As long as there are others depending on you, and your heart depends on it, right. I, who depend on myself and you who depends on the others are probably in conflict."

Hmph, Haunted snorted and squinted, starting at Kiseki's sleeping expression.

By his side, Suzaku stood lined up.

"To rather say, why have you come here? Currently Alchemist is in partnership with Inquisition, if I get in contact with people of Valhalla I shall be scolded by Sougetsu-sama."

Even though Suzaku asked, Haunted continued to stare in Kiseki's direction.

His gaze was nailed to sleeping Kiseki's happy smile.

"See, I've heard that you succeeded in controlling Hyakki Yakou. I came to take a look. I'm surprised. She really is stable. However... why is she so happy?"

When Haunted asked, Suzaku's eyes shone.

"She's dreaming right now. By continuously showing her happy dreams, Kiseki-sama's mind stabilizes, preventing Hyakki Yakou from going berserk."

When Suzaku happily spoke about her achievement, Haunted looked towards her for the first time.

His expression was grim.

"...what did you say?"

When he asked heavily in response, Suzaku joined her hands all smiley.

"Until now Kiseki-sama tasted only pain. That's why she is very weak against the thing called 'happiness'. Hyakki Yakou won't take actions Kiseki-sama doesn't want. As long as she sees happy dreams, it will stay quiet and won't overflow."

"What if it overflows? Inquisition regularly reduced amount of it contained inside by allowing it to release itself. If left untreated, it'll overflow even if this girl is happy."

"There's no problem. As long as she's stable it doesn't grow much, and because it's currently wartime we implant the diverging parts into soldiers. The amount is being reduced and it becomes a military force, that's killing two birds with one stone♪."

If that was true, it would turn into a huge amount of military strength. By implanting the indefinitely growing cells into humans, they would create nearly invincible soldiers.

If that was realized, they would create immortal puppets. By implanting the organisms they would increase soldiers strength by many times.

"We have already tested it. Just the other day in north America, Inquisition was invaded by magic side right? At the time we delivered several soldiers who had cells transplanted into them to intercept it. A report came saying that they annihilated a few thousands of enemies."

"............"

"Oh, I apologize for my rudeness. I have forgotten that you are of the magic side. My heartfelt condolences on this occurrence."

Suzaku lowered her head respectfully.

Her apologies didn't go through to Haunted. As if he couldn't care less about it, he looked up at Kiseki with his eyes wide open.

"In other words... this girl is being manipulated by being shown a dream."

"Yes. The reason erosion won't start even if a part is transplanted, is because she recognizes people as her dear brother. To Kiseki-sama her beloved older brother is more important than anything in this world, if he's in danger she automatically protects him, gives him power to survive and slaughter the enemy."

"............"

"Courageous little sister protecting her dear brother... if she protects him, her brother will pat her head. Being shown that kind of dream Kiseki-sama is happy and the Inquisition gets results in battle."

How is it how is it? Praise me, praise me?

Making an expression that said so, Suzaku peeked at Haunted.

"If possible I would like to provide this technology to Valhalla, but breaking the agreement with Inquisition would turn the brunt of their anger towards Alchemist. That's why, how do I say it, it would be really troublesome, thus it's impossible. ...I pray for your forgiveness."

For some reason she seemed like she would seriously cry at the moment and bowed regretfully. It was because she didn't care on whose forces it becomes as long as she could confirm the results, it seemed.

Denying Valhalla technology was fatal for them but...

Haunted suddenly smiled, changing his noh mask-like expression.

"No no, while it's true that we desperately want military power, criticism would spread in our side if such technology was to be brought in. Valhalla doesn't have as roundabout ethics as Inquisition does. There's west, east, senate, lots of troublesome things——speaking frankly we don't want that kind of thing."

Although it was out of character for him, he emphasized on just the last words he said. His words weren't just bravado, all of the people who spoke with Haunted before knew he isn't the kind of person to do that. However, Suzaku didn't have a 'human heart' to realize that. Rather, she had no interest in 'human heart' in the first place.

She tilted her head, making an expression that 'then why are you here?'.

"I came here out of pure curiosity. I have seen Kiseki-san's power from a distance before. I was interested in the technology allowing to control this much power."

"Oh my!"

Being praised, Suzaku made a happy expression.

"As expected of you. I'm impressed. It's great technology. Very enlightening."

"Oh my oh my! Well well! Please don't praise me so much!"

She placed both her hands on her cheeks and twisted, wriggled around.

Haunted gentlemanly put a hand on his chest and bowed gratuitously.

"Today I have come in my spare time, but I am looking forward towards your success in the future. To celebrate our acquaintance and your domination of Hyakki Yakou, please take this."

And, still in a bow he held out his hand on top of which he concentrated magical power, it materialized as pitch black particles.

TMG_v09_105What showed in his hand was a bouquet of black flowers.

Suzaku received it with a sparkle in her eyes like one a child has when given a toy.

"Belladonna... it's a magical organism possible to summon with "Despair" magical property, isn't it?"

"Since you seem to have an interest in my property, please use this sample. The limit is 24 hours, so it'd be best if you investigated it as soon as possible."

"Yaay! Thank you very much!"

With the bouquet in her hand Suzaku smiled like a little girl.

"Well then, see you again."

Haunted returned the smile and briskly left the location.

While walking down the hallway of the first research facility he directed his glaring pupils forward, his back stretched, his moves indicated he was angry.

《"Are you going to go back like this? Is it fine to leave it like that?"》

The S-class Magical Heritage he had by his waist Dáinsleif, Nacht sent her voice directly into Haunted's brain.

With an unusual grim expression on his face, he listened to Nacht's voice.

"...are you asking if it's fine as a member of Valhalla?"

《"No, are you yourself fine with that? Is what I mean."》

"............"

《"You're super angry. At Hyakki Yakou's... or rather, that Kiseki girl's current state, right?"》

After being told that, Haunted gently stroked the sword by his waist, the ' Dáinsleif'.

"You truly are the sword existing for my sake... I love you, partner."

《"Stop that, really."》

"You're so bashful."

《"I'll slaughter you."》

Haunted's expression was unchanged and grim, he continued to walk down the corridor.

Surprisingly quiet. Laughably quiet. He heard that first research facility's researchers were all people with surname Suginami.

It was too quiet. Even though there were people in, there were no presence of other persons.

"Ahh... how disgusting."

He snorted uncomfortably.

"Organisms living out their life locked up in the research facility. With outside world unbeknownst to them, dedicating their lives to research, not knowing emotions, pathetic dolls without knowledge of love. What an uninteresting bunch."

《"Is that the reason you're angry?"》

"Nope. I haven't the least interest of the Suginamis. I think they can do whatever by themselves."

《"............"》

"However, that lockout and exclusion, false happiness made with brainwashing and life clinging to it that was forced on that pitiful girl is something I cannot forgive."

Pitiful girl. Kusanagi Kiseki.

Miserable, a girl carrying miserable fate. She tasted the worst pain possible... a very small girl. A pure girl that knows nothing.

Right now she was in the middle of happiness. In the middle of false happiness.

"Making up and submerging her in a lukewarm dream and false happiness, I conclude that Suginami is evil. A dream? An illusion making people happy? Downright absurd. It's the same with despair. Nacht, did Kusanagi Kiseki look happy to you?"

《"Nyaw. She looked comical to me. I thought she turned really pitiful for a while now."》

"I don't like it. I don't like that at all...! Such a charming girl, a girl my type being used by Suginami is something I absolutely can't forgive!"

Haunted sped up his pace as he walked through the research facility full of puppets.

His expression was full of determination. There was a honest resolve.

As if he was a hero saving a heroine.

Like a messenger of justice, that kind of expression.

Looking from a perspective of others, they would call him 'evil' without any hesitation despite the fact he himself rejected evil.

However, even inside of him existed the concept of good and evil. For example looking from someone else's perspective if his 'good' is thought of as 'evil', for himself it is doubtlessly 'good'.

Right now, he rose to action in order to conform to his own justice.

"I already made my move. I'll save that girl. I'll save her from the false happiness and——"

And without losing his way, he moved straight forward.

"——I'll definitely return her back to the reality devoid of salvation!"

The path of despair's poster boy was single-minded and straightforward.

 

***

 

Takeru gathered the captains from the teams raiding first research facility and managed to firmly unify them to function as alliance before returning to the student council room.

He walked through the school... or rather, the building that mimicked one and passed by various people.

They didn't seem to be students of AntiMagic Academy, but he passed by several people wearing Inquisition's uniforms. Other than that there were people wearing white lab coats, who were probably Alchemist's researchers. People in suits wearing badge of Ethics Committee, members of religious groups other than Gods' Embers', as well as a number of witches from both East and West.

"...it seems like South America's shelter has attacked North America's Inquisition but were intercepted and withdrew."

"The Dragoon's development is flourishing over there and topographically it's suitable for defense, but South America's shelter should have a higher population. Also, there's mainly Magic Academy West Side there right? They should have been prepared for invasion, for them to be wiped out in just 3 days..."

"No clue. I can't believe that place's West Side would lose... it might be a new weapon. Is Inquisition really on defensive? Unlike magic side who uses transfer magic, their means of invasion is probably limited, right?"

"If you raise up over ten thousand meters you won't receive damage from Akashic Hazard and the protective field isn't invincible. Recently Inquisition was frequently cooperating with the overseas in secret. They must have anticipated war breaking out. I'm guessing that invasion is a matter of time."

Talking in the hallway was a female Inquisitor and a man who looked like East Side's sorcerer. Judging by what they were talking about, war has already started outside.

After Pureblood Party has invaded old Japan, Valhalla... magic side didn't pull back.

Although he expected it, realizing that the second Witch Hunt War has begun his mood has become terribly heavy.

There was no way he wouldn't be feeling guilty for doing things for himself in such circumstances.

But he had to do it. He had no idea on war or politics, but Takeru and the others could only think about one battle at a time.

With that said, they could only leave it to Nagaru and the higher-ups.

"............"

His thoughts were disordered, but the Heretic Alliance would lend him their strength.

Right now, he could only proceed forward.

I wonder... where did Kanaria go?

He couldn't find her by searching blindly.

Now that he was looking for her like this, Takeru realized that he knew nothing about her. They fought together in the Magic Academy and were able to experience student life together, albeit short. He knew her feelings towards Ikaruga and Isuka, hatred towards Alchemist and crossed blades with her.

But that was all. What did she feel when she met Ikaruga, what has she decided to do, Takeru didn't know. They might not understand each other despite meeting. He though that Ikaruga's and Kanaria's problem was something he shouldn't try to put in words.

"...Kusanagi?"

While he walked down the hallway indulging in thoughts, a voice has called from the front. Takeru looked up.

It was Ikaruga. Her expression wasn't bright at all.

"...were you looking for me?"

Her usual sleepy-looking eyes were directed towards Takeru and she tilted her head.

"Did you find Kanaria?"

"............yes."

Hearing her dispirited response and seeing that Kanaria wasn't with her, he could imagine to an extent what kind of conversation did they have when Ikaruga chased her.

He could more or less tell what Ikaruga said to Kanaria.

"It's... not okay, is it. Aren't you overburdening yourself?"

"............"

"...you might not like it, but maybe I should tell her off."

Takeru smiled awkwardly and put a hand on Ikaruga's shoulder.

With a dumbfounded expression, Ikaruga stared at him.

Surely, Ikaruga didn't want Kanaria to go on with her revenge. No, it wasn't that she didn't want her to take revenge, but didn't want her to get in danger. Attack on the Alchemist involves a lot of danger. Regardless of her awareness as a mother, Ikaruga didn't want an important to her existence Kanaria was to be involved in something dangerous.

He didn't think Kanaria would obediently do what she was told to, but as her senior pupil he could point out her immaturity not through words, but through sword.

Of course, he didn't want to do it.

"Kusanagi."

Ikaruga called Takeru. Nn? He responded, but that moment.

——His arm was grabbed onto and he was immediately dragged into a room right beside them that looked like a data room.

"He?!"

As soon as she dragged Takeru in, Ikaruga closed the room's door and pushed him down.

On top of Takeru who fell on his back, she has also fell.

There was no pain, but his body turned stiff from surprise. Because he hit the shelf as he fell, documents have floated down like flower petals.

Takeru's heartbeat increased and he tried to remove Ikaruga from on top of his chest.

"——Embrace me."

Hearing that phrase all of a sudden, he was unable to speak up.

"...you said I'm overburdening myself. That's why, embrace me."

One-sidedly Ikaruga requested that of him and buried her face in his chest.

Wondering if something happened, Takeru was discouraged.

It was because Ikaruga's shoulders were shaking.

"...I'm scared... it's so scary I can't bear it."

"............"

"Just the thought that I can lose her again.... trembling won't stop, it's unbearable."

Her body trembled finely and she tightly grabbed onto Takeru's clothes.

"It's stupid, right... what, why am I trying to act like a mother here. We've been together for about two days and yet... I just created her and did nothing else... why am I so scared thinking of losing her I wonder... it's laughable... there's limits to being a hypocrite."

"............"

"I turned horrible... when I'm in front of her I can't find decent wording. I think and think... but words of apology won't come out. I know it's unforgivable, I know begging for forgiveness would be cowardly... but I can only think of apologizing."

"............"

"I... I didn't think I was this weak..."

She grasped his clothes more strongly.

"............"

In silence, Takeru strongly hugged Ikaruga's body. Strong enough to break her, passionately and preciously he hugged her.

Ikaruga too, has moved her arms behind his back and hugged Takeru, as if entrusting all of herself to him.

Although Ikaruga might have been angry, Takeru was happy. Ikaruga who said that she won't let anyone carry her burden was relying on him like this, he was incredibly happy about it.

"Suginami."

"...it's fine for it to be just now, call me by my first name... I hate that surname."

"...Ikaruga."

Takeru said her name as if whispering into her ear.

"Even if you don't acknowledge it, even if Kanaria doesn't acknowledge it, you are her mother."

"...there's no way that's true...!"

"No, you're her mother. After all, you haven't forgotten about her even for a moment, have you? Same for Isuka. You've always kept them in your thoughts."

"............"

"You lost Kanaria once and was hurt. You realized that you did something terrible and left to the outside world. And since then, you've been always living while burdened with what happened to Kanaria. I've been beside you the entire time... I've been watching you the entire time... I knew that you are living while burdened by many things."

He raised the hand he had behind her back to Ikaruga's head.

Then gently he stroked her head, as if combing her hair.

"That's why you are her mother. No matter what anyone says, you're her mother. Being afraid of losing her and wanting to protect her is natural."

"......nn."

"That's not weakness. It's the proof that you're Kanaria's mother."

I won't tell you to be proud of it.

But stop calling yourself hypocrite. Stop denying yourself any more than this.

Accept it. No matter how pretentious those emotions are, even if you are told you're flimsy, even if you don't believe in yourself, follow your own feelings.

With that alone, it'll become easy. With that alone, you'll become strong.

After all, you're a mother. Protecting a child is a mother's instinct.

Saying so, Takeru continued to pat Ikaruga's head.

She entrusted herself to Takeru's words and warmth.

After they hugged each other for about 30 minutes, Ikaruga's trembling finally stopped.

"...if that girl is to fight... then I'll fight. If she wants revenge, then I'll carry it instead... her suffering, hatred, anything that threatens her life..."

"That's heavy. Give me half."

When Ikaruga resolved herself, Takeru said so as if it was a matter of course.

Then, she moved away her face from his chest and stared at him with upturned eyes and her usual sleepy expression.

TMG_v09_021"............hey, what do you mean by that?"

"Just like I said. I won't let you carry it alone. I'll help you."

"You're going to carry half of my burden as a mother?"

...mm? Wait a second. Thinking about it deeply, that's.

Quite calm, Takeru exerted his thoughts.

"Does that mean... you'll be her father?"

Too late he noticed he said something really critical.

"Can I take that as a proposal?"

Takeru panicked——not. Ikaruga's expression was seriousness itself. Making fun of it or covering it up with laughter was impossible.

She didn't say it lightly. Whether Kanaria acknowledged her was a different problem from this. It was the truth that he wanted to carry Ikaruga's burden. He wanted to do something for her. It's been always like this.

And this was the first time Ikaruga was willing to rely on him.

He felt happy about it and if there was no obstacles, he wanted to do it.

But told he proposed, he was able to assert it wasn't that.

It was clear what he should affirm and what should he deny.

...somehow, I feel that since coming here I'm not doing well enough.

Albeit it was different from being indecisive, it probably looked like that to Ikaruga. Sadly.

Just when Takeru was about to answer Ikaruga's question.

Ikaruga squirmed on top of him then moved her face right in front of Takeru's.

And she touched his forehead with hers.

"...it's a joke. I wouldn't think of using such underhanded method to monopolize you, don't worry."

Ikaruga spoke quietly at a distance their breath reached each other.

A scent of mint tickled his nose.

"I intend to think about your feelings. But can I say one thing?"

"...y-yeah."

"Don't go raising people's hopes like that. Think more of woman's emotions. Were it someone else than me, she'd end up disappointed after having expectations, you know?"

She meant he lacked self-awareness.

Rather, raising hopes? Does that mean Ikaruga really——

"Say you're going to bear my burden again and I"ll receive it just like that, prepare yourself."

Ikaruga raised her body and moved away from Takeru.

Just like that she headed for the entrance of the data room. Takeru raised his upper body.

As she put a hand on the doorknob, Ikaruga made a refreshed smile and looked back just once.

"I won't say 'bye bye' again... don't make that face."

"...Ikaruga, I..."

"I'll do what I can to protect Kanaria. That's why, you too do what you can for your own sake."

"............"

"It's okay. I'll tell you when I need help and I'll always be there to help you. Don't worry."

She opened the doors and light from the corridor has entered the data room.

"Also, thank you. It was a great help, Takeru."

After saying so, Ikaruga left the data room.

Left alone, Takeru looked upwards again.

While staring at the ceiling he organized everything in his head. He could understand Ikaruga's feelings of not wanting Kanaria to fight. Although he shouldn't be one to talk, with a personality that makes go headlong into danger Kanaria might lose her life. For Takeru too, it was the first time he plunged into such a large-scale battle. Same for Kanaria. While there was a lot to do in this time's operation, he wasn't alone, the platoon wasn't alone. There were many people to rely on.

He really might not be able to save everything.

Stretching his hand towards the ceiling, he clenched a fist.

He felt like the thing he wasn't able to grasp was this time right in front of him.

"No matter what, I will... we will... save everything."

Once again with determination filling his chest, Takeru stood up with anticipation of what's ahead.

 

Kanaria sat down under a tree in the corner of the school yard and stared at Lævateinn that pierced the ground.

The words of Ikaruga who was with her earlier were simmering in the corner of her head.

Her joyous feelings of finally being able to attack the Alchemist had a nail stabbed in by Ikaruga, who should have been also a participant.

『"What will you do about attacking Alchemist? Isuka won't come back any more... I think she would like you to live."』

『"Mama is no longer here. That's why I'll destroy Alchemist. I'll crush it all, giving Mama a funeral."』

『"...and how long will it continue? After destroying first research facility, what's next? Third? And if that's over, you'll crush Inquisition? Or maybe kill the guy who killed Isuka? Are you going to spend your entire life just for that? Do you really think Isuka would have wanted that?"』

『"——Shut up!! I told you it has nothing to do with you! I said you can stay beside me if you want, but I didn't let you order me around!"』

『"............"』

『"If you think of Mama even a little, you would do the same as Kana! And yet, you tell me to leave Alchemist alone and leave for myself! There's no way I can do that!"』

『"Before Isuka died... she relayed to me that she wants you to live. I have... a responsibility to protect your life. The one she protected, you, I will——"』

When she said 'responsibility', the ends of Kanaria's hair stood up.

『"Don't screw around! Don't try acting like my mother! What responsibility?! The only responsibility you have is to atone for deserting Mama and escaping alone! To do that, there's no other way but to destroy everyone who made Mama suffer!"』

『"......nhh."』

『"If you can't do that then shut up! Hold your knees and stay here doing nothing, all alone!"』

『"Kanaria, I want to——"』

『"Don't call my name! It's the name given to me by Mama!"』

Ikaruga's expression when she said that wouldn't leave Kanaria's head.

Without saying anything, Ikaruga accepted Kanaria's words and faced down, hurt. The one that was unable to bear it and escaped from the spot was Kanaria.

In front of Ikaruga she couldn't maintain her calm no matter what. Every word Ikaruga said upset her feelings.

"...nhh... why does the woman who wasn't here... understand Mama's feelings...!"

She entrusted her back to the tree and sitting, she faced her own knees.

Frustrated, she couldn't raise her face. Ikaruga told her the same thing Isuka did. The fact that the person who wasn't there knew feelings of her beloved mother better than anyone else frustrated her.

And she was frustrated because she couldn't stop her revenge despite knowing that.

She's been boasting of giving her mother a funeral and yet she was unable to stop it knowing that her mother didn't want it, it meant that there was no justification for her revenge.

There was only her hatred. Only her helpless feelings existed for this revenge.

"But... still, to Kana it's...!"

Allowing the root of evil that was the Alchemist was——

"Unforgivable...!"

She stared at Lævateinn with her golden hatred-stained eyes.

Lævateinn wouldn't respond to her request no matter what.

The blade was piling on rust every day.

But she didn't care about that.

She won't rely on the sword. With the skills she has polished she'll annihilate her hateful enemies and have her revenge.

No matter how long it takes... even if she has to dedicate her entire life to revenge.

Even if her mother doesn't wish for it.

"Kana... absolutely won't forgive it!"

Kanaria shook off her hesitation, pulled out the sword and stood up.

To advance on the road of carnage without any hesitation.

 

"——Well then, let's start the strategy meeting."

Two days later, three teams have gathered in the student council room and sat down on the lined-up chairs in front of a projector, doing a strategy meeting. Somehow, it reminded Takeru of the cultural festival's strategy meeting. Back then they partnered-up with other platoons and discussed on what to do for the festival.

Of course, while the situation was similar, the tension was different though.

They weren't the main force responsible for diversion, Takeru and the others were a detached force.

'God's Embers' Sixth Miko's Guard Troop, six people.

'Pureblood Party's' Seventh Squad, six people.

'AntiMagic Academy's' 35th Test Platoon, six people.

Total of eighteen people is going to rescue "Hyakki Yakou" Kusanagi Kiseki, "Ancient Wizard" Ion Stewart and the "Sixth Miko" Izayoi.

"The amount of personnel in the main force responsible for diversion is just two hundred people. Included in that there's fifty Dragoons and manned Magical Dragoons."

"The numbers make me anxious, but fifty Dragoons and Magical Dragoons... you really did well to gather so many."

When Ouka showed her surprise, Nagaru pat her shoulders with the pointing stick and laughed care-freely.

"I've told you that before, but it's quite an old organization〜. Alchemist's and Inquisition's Reginns and alchemists developed them in jointly. Because these machines specialize in speed and defense, I think we'll be able to drag out Alchemist's newest machines out to the frontlines."

Nagaru continued the meeting.

"These forces are going to attack from the front. However, those two hundreds aren't going to enter the building. Until the end they are going to act disruptive and focus on buying time so don't expect any assistance."

She pointed with the stick at at the satellite photo of the first research facility that was projected.

While it was nearly impossible to take a photo of the Sanctuary's interior because of terrible magnetic field disturbance, it was possible to take pictures of uncontaminated land. Although, since it was unlikely Heretic Alliance had their own satellite, this photo must have been made with one 'borrowed' from Inquisition.

"You, as the detached force are going to enter the facility from the mountains on the opposite side to the one main force is attacking."

"...even if the diversion goes well, it's hard to believe the backside is going to become lax, right? From what it looks like it looks more like a coniferous forest than a mountain. It'd be natural to believe its a trap."

Sage put a hand on his chin and advised Nagaru.

"Naw worries. We have an expert responsible for scouting and covering you with sniping."

After Nagaru said so, unexpectedly a woman has come out from behind the projector. Ouka raised an "ah" in surprise.

"...so she was in Heretic Alliance."

Kanaria also recalled her and seemed surprised. The woman showed her face and shook her hand lightly in Ouka's and Kanaria's directions.

"Oonogi Kanata-san. She's an ex-EXE member. She's going to cover you alone until you invade the building."

With a grin, Kanata lightly greeted everyone.

"By the way, she may not look like it, but she's nearly thirt——"

From beside Nagaru, Kanata hit her with an elbow.

"Oonogi Kanata, 22 years old. Please leave scouting and cover fire to me during the operation, take care of me everyone."

With a stern look Kanata made Inquisition's salute.

Other than in the Small Fry Platoon, there weren't many reactions.

"Hmm... are you going to cover us all alone until we go down the mountain? From what I see, it doesn't seem reliable. Shall we take care of the traps and cameras instead?"

Yuzuho said so while sitting arrogantly on the chair.

Kanata thinly smiled to her.

"With my skills and Relic Eater, I'd make it easy for you to stroll in even if we invaded Inquisition's headquarters."

"...that's some confidence. Relic Eater? If I'm not wrong that's a sham Magical Heritage owned by Inquisition. I can't trust it. There's a possibility of it acting like a spy."

When gazes full of suspicion have focused on Kanata, Nagaru moved in front.

"There's no need to worry about that〜. First, Inquisition cannot control it in this world, and her Relic Eater 'Nobunaga' has been coated with a special material existing only in this world. That's why Ootori Sougetsu shouldn't be able to control it."

After saying so re-assuredly, Nagaru went back to explaining the strategy.

If what she said was true, same treatment could be applied to Ouka's Vlad.

"A substance that only exists in this world huh... I wonder just how many years of processing technology development it took."

Ikaruga muttered next to Takeru. Although she seemed calm, she was unable to suppress her curiosity as a technician and continued to fidget on the chair.

"You will run down the mountain with assistance of Kanata-san and then break into the first research facility. Kanata-san's sniping gets more powerful the bigger the distance she snipes from, but if it's too powerful there's a possibility of you getting swallowed by it. That's why to offer precise assistance after entering I want one person in charge of sniping in each team. The person in charge of sniping will take distance from the vanguard and chase them while taking down the enemies left behind by Kanata-san. They absolutely cannot stray and cannot neglect cooperation."

In that case, that would make Usagi act as the rearguard member of the 35th Test Platoon. She seemed a little anxious, but when she noticed Takeru's gaze she made a serious expression and nodded strongly.

"The problem starts there. The objective is here... the girl from the seventh squad and Sixth Miko-san are in the L5 - E57 and L5 F37 labs researching ancient properties. The detached force other than 35th Platoon and the snipers in charge are to invade here and immediately secure the rescue subject."

Then, Nagaru pointed at the center of the research facility.

"——The central L6 - XXX. The 35th Test Platoon has to reach there alone. The defenses in the center should be very strong so I want seventh squad's and sixth guard's as well as Usagi-chan to back the platoon up. After making sure the penetration has succeeded, take refuge on the hill Kanata-san captured and concentrate on protecting yourself until rescue operation is complete. You will be alone, but Kanata-san will definitely protect you three〜."

Usagi looked sideways towards the snipers in charge from other teams. There was a sunglasses-wearing member of Pureblood Party and a girl from Gods' Embers who seemed timid and exchanged looks with her.

Nagaru exhaled and put both her hands on the desk.

"Each of you will have to deal with the enemy forces on your own after entering. Cram the building's structure into your head. In particular, the building 35th platoon is invading is Alchemist's most important secret so a considerable resistance is expected."

After saying so with a meek expression, Nagaru smiled as she usually did.

But, it seemed slightly weaker than usual.

"...this is all I can give you all. If possible I would like to plan it better and provide more forces, but there's no time. We need to perform the operation in a rush. It's all our fault for not being internally prepared. Forgive me."

No one blamed Nagaru who made a wry smile.

It was more than enough. They weren't alone. They had compatriots they could rely on. They, who fought all alone until now knew just how good treatment was that, everyone understood it.

There were so many comrades with the same goal. There weren't many things more reliable than that.

"If possible, come back alive everyone. After you rescue the VIP's, everyone withdraw. Use transfer magic charms and come back here."

"——Wait, it's over right after the rescue?"

That's when Kanaria suddenly stood up and glared at Nagaru.

Nagaru tilted her head and nodded.

"The objective of this operation is rescue after all〜. If possible avoid fighting, let non-combatants withdraw without killing them. Suppression of the first research facility is not an objective."

"...Nagaru said it. Heretic Alliance's enemy is Suginami Suzaku. She's in first research facility!"

Kanaria's anger by itself raised the temperature in the student council room.

"If we don't kill her, it'll repeat itself again...! We can't not kill her here!"

When Takeru reached out to try to stop Kanaria, Nagaru opened her mouth.

"I know. But, I'm sorry. I can't heed that request."

"W-why! That's why Kana came here!"

"The operation this time is a rescue one. To kill Suginami Suzaku we need a much larger forces. That person probably isn't as simple and fragile as you think."

"Then prepare more!"

"Impossible. Carrying out an assassination at the same time and adding unnecessary sacrifices is something I can't do. Capturing her is talk of the more distant future."

Until the end calmly, soothingly, Nagaru told Kanaria so.

Kanaria's shoulders shook, she clenched her fist and grit her teeth.

It didn't look like she really understood it. As the captain, in order not to add on to discord during the strategy meeting Takeru tried to force Kanaria to sit down.

"............I get it... fine."

But Kanaria relaxed her shoulders, turned around on her heel and left the student council room.

Takeru tried to call her back, but Ikaruga grasped his hand.

"...there's no need to chase after her. It's okay... I already made my move. I'll explain it to you later."

While facing forward, Ikaruga put more strength into hand holding him.

Being told that, he couldn't help but obey it. When Takeru sat down on the chair again in silence, Nagaru winked towards him for some reason.

"All right, all of you, you're to gather and establish cooperation between each other in preparation for tomorrow. The operation starts at 8 pm. We should arrive on the other side with transfer magic at about 3 o'clock."

Nagaru clapped her hands and the room's lights have turned on.

Takeru was bothered about Kanaria, but he gathered other teams and started the preparations.

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8 thoughts on “Chapter 3 - First Counter-Attack

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  1. Jay

    "He felt like the thing he wasn't able to grasp was this time right in front of him."
    This is confusing? i think is something like:
    "He felt like the thing he wasn't able to grasp was right in front of him this time."

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  2. GaGaGa

    what Kanaria does in this chapter is really upsetting. How she thinks EVERYONE should provide her for hwr revenge is just....tad annoying...

    Reply
  3. Phoenix

    if I get in contact with people of Valhalla I shall by scolded by Sougetsu-sama."

    by scolded -> be scolded

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  4. Bareus

    Such a charming girl, a girl my type being used by Suginami is something I absolutely can't forgive!"
    Such a charming girl, a girl of my type being used by Suginami is something I absolutely can't forgive!"
    -> not sure about this one

    ..., they would call him 'evil' without any hesitation despite the fact himself rejected evil.
    ..., they would call him 'evil' without any hesitation despite the fact he himself rejected evil.

    ..., but Takeru and the others could only thing about one battle at a time.
    -> hm.... is "thing" a typo and should be "think"?

    ..., Takeru realized that he didn't knew nothing about her.
    -> double negation, replace "nothing" with "anything"

    ..., Ikaruga didn't want an important to her existence like Kanaria to be involved in something dangerous.
    ..., Ikaruga didn't want an important existence to her like Kanaria to be involved in something dangerous.

    Kanaria sat down under a tree in the corner of school yard and stared at Lævateinn that pierced the ground.
    Kanaria sat down under a tree in the corner of a/the school yard and stared at Lævateinn that pierced the ground.

    Reply