Kusanagi Kiseki saw a dream in which her happiness collapsed right in front of her.
Having pointed out that her happiness is false, she was intimidated by a person she didn't know and forced to wake up.
When she opened her eyes like she was told to, what she saw was darkness and suffering.
Her real self was drowning in the darkness, repeatedly dying. Even when she cried for help, no one came. On the other side of the glass there were just people staring at her with interest and a sparkle in their eyes.
Again and again, she continued to die all alone.
That's the kind of dream it was.
"——Kiseki? Did something happen?"
Kiseki who was spending the afternoon on a café's terrace suddenly looked up after being called by her name.
"You okay? You were spacing out."
Peeking into her face on the terrace that was lit up by by sunlight filtered with foliage was her lover, Kusanagi Takeru.
She stared at Takeru absent-mindedly for about ten seconds. Not seeing too big a reaction he smiled wryly and scratched his cheek with a finger.
"Drool, it's dripping.'
Kiseki hurriedly wiped her face with a napkin and shyly faced downwards.
"Well, you must've read a book until late, haven't you. We finally get to go out to town together, don't go sleeping on me〜."
"S-sorry. This filtered sunlight was too pleasant and I slept for a moment there... ehehe. Really, s-sorry, okay? I'm sorry."
Apologizing many times, Kiseki rubbed her nose with a finger.
Takeru smiled kindly, said "it's fine" and raised the cup with coffee to his mouth.
Dazedly, he looked up at the light above.
That's right. Today's the day of the date. She had her favorite dress and a straw hat, she properly had a make-up on and was out on a date after a while with the person she loved. Just earlier she ate lunch and now was in the middle of enjoying a cup of tea in their favorite café. Relieved, Kiseki raised the tea cup with chamomile tea up to her mouth. Probably because there was honey in, it was faintly sweet.
"...just earlier, I saw a scary dream."
"Hee〜, what kind of dream was it?"
"A dream where I died all alone. Onii-chan wasn't there... a dream of being killed time and time again in a dark place."
Hearing the contents of the disturbing dream, Takeru almost spat out coffee he had in his mouth.
"H-hey hey... what's that, you saw that kind of dream in at time like now?"
"...yup. I was really scared."
As Kiseki was still feeling uneasy, Takeru pat her head that she leaned in his direction.
"It's okay. Nii-chan is always with you and you are always with me. I won't leave you to be alone."
"...you're right... I wonder what was that... how strange."
Squirming, Kiseki looked away from Takeru.
"...can it be, are you anxious about us living together just the two of us? You're not relying on Nii-chan at all. I don't earn that much, so you might get uneasy about our future."
"Eh?!! N-no, that's not itt. It's not unease. Kiseki is always, always happy. Really happy."
When she tried to resolve the misunderstanding flustered, Takeru made a blank expression just for a moment and then laughed embarrassed.
"I-I see. Being told that... makes me really happy as your husband. We'll continue to struggle in the future... but I'll do my best for your sake."
After saying so with a serious expression, Takeru stared at her.
...that's right. Kiseki and Onii-chan got married.
It wasn't that she forgot it, but because of that dream she doubted the happiness in front of her for a moment.
...we married... and... yesterday... we...
Recalling what happened last night, Kiseki's face was stained with bright red.
Awa-awawawawa! That's right, that's how it was〜! Yesterday, Kiseki finally did it with Onii-chan〜〜〜!
She remember anything and everything that happened. It was very embarrassing. But while it was embarrassing, it was without a doubt the happiest moment in her life.
That's right. Today was the day they were looking for a room to live in as a married couple.
Blushing, she continued to glance at Takeru's face.
He smiled broadly towards her.
Her embarrassment disappeared and peacefulness rose from the back of her chest, she squinted.
——Aaah, I feel so happy.
Feeling such joy, she would immediately forget the scary dream from earlier. With just her Onii-chan being there, Kiseki is happy.
In this world, nothing stood in the way of her happiness. In an empty town, in a world with nobody in it, they live alone just the two of them. It was only to her and her Onii-chan's world.
It was a matter of fact, natural for it to be this way. Joyous world. Overflowing with happiness, perfect world.
Continuing endlessly, everlasting world——
"Even though you noticed already, that this world is all lies."
——The voice, came from right in front of her.
Kiseki who was immersing in happiness promptly looked up.
In there... Takeru who should have been disappeared and someone she didn't know was sitting in the chair.
Her thinking stopped, she couldn't accept the fact that Takeru disappeared.
The person in front had long hair hanging down and while facing in Kiseki's direction, downcast her eyes. A girl wearing white movement restricting clothes. Her long hair was worn out, her body was full of bruises. Her skin color was pale, it was drained of blood.
A person Kiseki didn't know——no, wrong.
She actually knew. She knew who was the girl in front of her.
"You noticed, right? That this world is a lie."
The worn-out girl said so in a hoarse voice while facing down.
"I am you. Your real self. Yourself, who continues to die endlessly in the darkness."
The girl raised her face. In her pupils there was hatred towards everything in this world.
"This world is a dream given to you by others. In other words, your current happiness is all a lie."
"...w-why are you lying like that? I mean, Onii-chan and Kiseki are——"
"Your real Onii-chan is in the world outside. He's not by your side."
Every time the girl spoke a word, Kiseki's heart stirred. She didn't accept it. However, this girl overlapped with the dream she has seen earlier.
"T-there's no way! Kiseki and Onii-chan are in love and married!"
"True, in this world, that is. After all, this world was made so for your convenience."
"No!! Kiseki is——"
"——This is how your reality."
The moment Kiseki raised her voice, a wave of red meat overflowed from the girl's feet.
The wave of meat swallowed the café's terrace, swallowed the city and continued to swallow the world.
Kiseki placed a hand on her mouth, the chair she was sitting in fell as she stood up.
At the same time, the world darkened.
Leaving just Kiseki and the girl in front of her, everything was swallowed by darkness.
Seeing everything disappear, Kiseki panicked, she tensed and trembled.
"Oh, pitiful me... not noticing that others are using your real body as they please, convinced that a false dream is happiness... miserable me."
"I...it's not a lie...Kiseki and Onii-chan love each other... Onii-chan was always by Kiseki's side..."
With tears pooling in her eyes, she denied the girl's words.
And, as if searching for her loved one, Kiseki wandered in the darkness.
"...Onii-chan? Where are you? Where did you go?"
Suddenly, a light was lit in the darkness.
In the middle of the light, there was her brother. However, surrounding him there was a lot of people. Laughing with everyone, her brother ignored Kiseki.
Walking next to her brother, was a beautiful girl with sunset-colored hair.
"That's right. That's your real Onii-chan. And this——is the real me."
The girl's voice came from behind.
When she looked behind, there was a crucified girl, with tubes connected to her body through which her blood was drained.
With a sea of flesh overflowing from her, the girl in the middle cried tears of blood and faced in her direction.
The memories that shouldn't have been there, flashed through her mind.
Memories of endless suffering and death... it was the same as her dream.
"Your favorite one piece dress and straw hat... favorite café and chamomile tea... always the same date being repeated. It's natural. After all, that's all you know. You have seen the outside world just once, right?"
"No... no no no!"
"There's no way siblings can get married. There's a lot of evidence confirming that this world is a dream of yours."
"Shut up, shut up... Kiseki is always happy... she's always together with Onii-chan...!"
"Did you forget, that your Onii-chan has betrayed you?"
The girl stretched her hand and touched Kiseki's cheek.
That incredibly cold hand reminded her of the moment she let go of her brother's hand.
Her brother who vowed to die together with her, letting go of his sword when the time has come... that memory.
Kiseki got down on her knees and held her head, cowering.
"...why are you showing me such a thing...?!"
"I'm just showing you reality."
"Why are you trying to destroy Kiseki's happiness?! I don't care about reality any more! Even if this is a dream, Kiseki is happy enough with it!"
The girl closed on Kiseki who tried to close herself in a shell and hugged her gently.
And, her cold lips trembled by Kiseki's ear.
"Are you really okay with that? Even if Onii-chan will forget all about you and have fun with his comrades while you continue to remain in this fake happiness?"
"...will you forgive Onii-chan for being happy?"
No matter how she plugged her ears, the girl's voice reached Kiseki's soul.
Even her, who never knew happiness, actually realized that this world is strange right from the very beginning.
Still, she was much happier here than in the full of suffering world outside. Even if it was fake, being always together with Onii-chan made her happy.
And yet, her other self sleeping in the depths of her heart whispered into her ear, speaking of reality.
"It's okay to be honest with yourself... you can't forgive it, can you...? Even though he betrayed you he enjoys genuine happiness, it really can't be forgiven, right?"
"What you desire isn't something like a fake dream. What do you really want?"
Suddenly, a scream resounded in the darkness.
When she raised her head, she saw the red meat assault someone. It was the people she met before when she fled the deepest prison, it were people from the 35th Test Platoon.
The tentacles caught escaping girls. They wound around their bodies and forcefully squeezed, causing the girls to easily fall apart.
As if to say it wasn't enough, the tentacles continued to hit the scattered, dead flesh.
The girl with sunset-colored hair was being given attention for a longer time, making it a ghastly sight. The beautiful sunset-colored hair was stained with blood and her organs, dirtied.
"Stopp! Why would you do such a thing...?!"
"Because this is your heartfelt desire."
"Noo... Kiseki doesn't want this——"
Kiseki looked at her own feet and was astonished. Realizing that the red meat tormenting the girls overflowed from her body, her face cramped up and she screamed.
"Why are you rejecting it? These little ones are a part of you. They just fulfill your desires. You can't control them, but aren't they only doing what you want?"
"It's fine to be honest with yourself... your goal's been already decided on, isn't all that's left is to proceed towards it? Won't you be happy if you do so?"
"Goal... you say this is Kiseki's goal? Killing people important to Onii-chan, is Kiseki's goal?"
Kiseki denied it. She desperately tried to think it to be a lie.
"Look... your happiness is right there."
In the direction the girl pointed to, Kiseki saw it.
There, was her brother walking towards her in the form of a demon. He directed his anger and murderous intent as well as hate towards Kiseki. There was her Kusanagi Takeru's figure holding a sword in one hand and moving closer.
Her brother glared at Kiseki. After having his comrades killed, he no longer thought of Kiseki as of someone to protect, but someone to kill.
Taking God Hunter form, Takeru emitted flames of destruction in order to kill Kiseki.
——I'll kill you.
——I won't forgive you. I'll definitely kill you.
Thinking of these words in her mind, Kiseki has,
Started to shed tears without end.
When Takeru approached her with murderous intent, something has tightened in the depths of her heart.
Something she has never tasted until now has filled her chest.
Being a target of various negative emotions, Kiseki,
Kiseki——has noticed that she was at ease.
"...look... see? If you do so, at last Onii-chan will look only at you. At last, he will make you happy."
"...that's.. it's a lie...."
"Now, open your eyes——what do you need to do to become happy?"
The girl's cold cheek wiped off Kiseki's tears.
"...it's a lie... Kiseki doing... such..."
"It's not a lie. After all, the proof is... look."
The girl pointed beneath crouching Kiseki.
It was the puddle of blood flowing from the girl with sunset-colored hair she killed a moment ago.
Seeing that, her expression changed——into a smiling one.
"............————————————————————————————————————Ah, aahhh... uuuaaaaAaaAAAAAaAaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaAAAAAAaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!"
Kiseki screamed. Even if she tried to erase it, the smile wouldn't disappear. She was too happy.
No matter how much she tried to deny it, the reality in front of her wouldn't change. That killing people important to her brother and having him only look at her would make her so——
——Make her so joyous.
After crying for a while, she was exhausted.
Her wet with tears face was still smiling, she was tired of opposing her own desires.
That's right. That's how it was. Her happiness in the real world, was to be killed by her brother and having him die together with her.
The result wasn't as she wanted it.
Her brother was distracted by people other than herself and hesitated to die.
Kiseki despised her brother. But, she thought it can't be helped. Since he lived in the outside world, it wasn't strange for him to find one or two things important to him.
It wasn't that there was someone else more important to him than she was. Ever since she was in the deepest prison, her brother spoke of the existence of 'comrades', she already knew of their existence for a long time.
She knew even that there's someone he might be in love with.
That's why she was anxious about the possibility.
That there might be someone more important to him than she was.
"Ahh... I see..."
But, that wasn't the problem. She noticed it too late.
Why couldn't he kill her. Why wouldn't he die together with her.
It wasn't that her brother didn't kill himself because he valued his life.
It wasn't because there were other people important to him. It was just one of many reasons.
The main reason was——
"Kiseki... didn't do her best..."
Because she left all of it to her brother.
All she did was to wish for her brother to 'be killed' and didn't do anything. That's was the main cause.
...then, what should I do?
The solution was very simple. Although it was very simple, Kiseki didn't notice it before.
Hyakki Yakou knew it the entire time, that's why it was always going berserk.
"Ahh... so that's it..."
Kiseki stopped crying and raised her face.
She knew what she had to do. She knew what was the best method to get killed. That was,
——To make Kiseki's brother want to kill her.
Kiseki realized the truth and relaxed her body.
Her heart beating fast from dread, her agitation from the false happiness, her memories of suffering... in this moment, she easily accepted all of it.
Overlooking the sea of meat flowing around her, sloooooowly, the corners of her mouth distorted.
With a peaceful smile, Kiseki indulged in her impulses.
The restless wriggling sea of meat slowly gathered in their point of origin. Like children returning to their mother, they have all gathered together.
Smiling, Kiseki gently stroked the mass of meat crawling out of her own flesh.
"...Onii-chan's important things.... I should have broken them all."
If she does so, her brother will hate her. He will try to kill her.
No, not just his important things. That's not enough.
Killing all people in this world, leaving Onii-chan and Kiseki would do best.
If she does so, her brother will kill her than commit suicide, losing his reasons to live.
They would undoubtedly die together.
"I wonder why haven't I noticed such a simple thing until now... all I did was to rely on Onii-chan... pitiful Onii-chan... it must have been difficult."
Kiseki felt really apologetic towards her brother, who continued to agonize himself tormented by guilt.
She too, had to do her best for her happiness.
"...Kiseki will do her best too."
Together with these words, strength came back to her.
"Let's do my best."
No matter how painful it was, she was able to stand up.
"Let's do my best... do my best. Do my best, do my best, do my best, do my best, do my best, do my best, do my best, do my best——do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best do my best!"
With a smile she raised both her hands, reaching out towards the light.
And when she did, this false happiness collapsed like shattering glass.
Kiseki no longer saw a dream. She didn't rely on a dream.
Happiness was something she had to obtain by herself.
In the collapsing dream, waiting for her awakening, there was another person with a smile who attempted to disappear.
Abruptly, Kiseki grasped the other Kiseki by the collar. The other Kiseki's breath turned rough and she painfully gasped.
Still smiling, Kiseki turned toward her other self with doll-like movements.
"You see, Kiseki noticed. I have already realized that these little ones are part of me by myself. But, Kiseki is Kiseki. There's no 'other me'."
"Who aaare you? Why are you in Kiseki's dream?"
The other Kiseki, still having her neck tightly held smiled, her lips formed a crescent moon shape.
"...f-fufufu, hahahahaha, wonderful... it's just as I thought. If it's you... you'll be able to accept your own power.
——I believed in that!"
The other Kiseki's appearance changed into that of a blonde priest.
"Having a body of a demon and soul of a human, Kusanagi women were supposed to be unable to withstand the size of the vessel, is what I heard! But you kept your personality as Kusanagi Kiseki for a long time! Even though you experienced torture and death countless times, you remained sane!"
Ecstatic at the sight of awakened Kiseki, the priest——Haunted applauded her.
"It's impossible normally, you know?! Having a heart broken, soul broken, becoming a husk is natural! And yet you managed to bear it fully! In order to obtain your happiness by yourself! ...you're of my type, a strong woman... ha, as I thought, once again I realize that Kusanagi are strong people who don't give up 'hope'!"
"Answer the question."
Kiseki further tilted her head and broke Haunted's neck like a tree branch.
Haunted's body was hanging just on the skin of his neck and meat, yet he continued to applaud her.
"I see... it's a dream, so obviously you can't die... ehehe."
Shyly, she rubbed her nose with a finger.
"But surely, I'll kill you. Kiseki needs to kill all the people in the world. See, if I don't, Onii-chan won't kill Kiseki. I need to do my best."
"Yes... yes, indeed it is as you say, Kiseki-san. But do it slowly. You can't annihilate the human race all at once. Bit by bit... to give them a feeling of loss... give them hope until the very end before finishing them off. If you don't, his hatred and despair won't accumulate. If you suddenly kill off the entire humanity, he'll be astonished and won't be able to accept the situation, since he might commit suicide by himself you need to do it slowly and carefully——"
"I know that even if don't tell me〜."
With a wet sound, Kiseki swallowed Haunted with the mass of meat.
After confirming it has turned quiet, she once again raised her hands.
The light was spreading, her awakening was close.
There was lots things to do after she opens her eyes.
How refreshing. She should have done this right from the start.
While putting in effort to acquire happiness, Kiseki spoke of her resolve.
"Onii-chan... Kiseki will do her best."
Her cloudless eyes were shining with dream of happiness.
"I'll show you, I'll slaughter every single one of Onii-chan's important people."
She realized that her power was there in order to make her happy. And thus Kusanagi Kiseki,
Hyakki Yakou——has been led to true awakening.
In the woods about two mountains away from the First Research Facility, Haunted opened his eyes.
The black flowers he held in his hand withered exhausted and turned into sand.
It was the evidence of link being severed. From the 《Belladona》 Haunted has summoned and passed to Suzaku, a single one petal dropped on the floor. Manipulating that petal, he intruded in the apparatus that displayed dreams. His own spirit has submerged in Kiseki's dream.
Sitting on a stump, Haunted looked up at the moon in the sky contentedly.
《"...I don't get it. Haunted, don't you hate destruction?"》
His beloved sword he held by his waist asked, puzzled.
In response to that question, Haunted shook his head.
"I hate destruction. It leaves nothing behind. But what that girl will create, is not destruction. At the very least, for that girl it's hope."
《"...I still don't get it. Whatever it means for her, isn't she heading out to destroy the world. Why are you acting all satisfied here?"》
As he looked up at the full moon in the sky, the corners of Haunted's mouth distorted.
"It won't be destroyed. Definitely not. That's because there's a guy who's struggling in order to save her."
《"...you mean Kusanagi Takeru? I don't think he'll be able to do anything though..."》
"No, he can. I believe in him. After all, he is my enemy."
What's up with that confidence... after saying so, Nacht heaved a sigh.
"Result-wise, I guess I ended up helping Ootori Sougetsu. Kusanagi Kiseki would have awakened from the dream even without my help. It means I have significantly sped up her awakening."
He reached out to the moon and gripped his fist.
"Now, how will you save her? For her who has awakened in complete chaos, there's no longer any salvation."
Haunted prayed to the moon.
Ripen, ripen, save the worst chaos, refine your finest hope.
At that moment I will surely——drop you down to the pits of despair.
"If he sees that girl as she is now... I wonder what kind of face he'll make."
The evening before the First Research Facility's assault operation.
On the roof of the school building Takeru waited all alone.
It was needless to say who was he waiting for.
For his partner.
The moonless, cracked-up night sky was neither dark nor bright.
Nagaru said that this world is a fragment of mythological world.
It seemed to be the world Lapis was born in. Even though Lapis herself didn't remember it, but the vision he glimpsed during execution of God Hunter form was certainly similar to this landscape.
If their soul fused completely, Takeru would turn into a being whose only goal would be hunting gods.
Even if he tried to reject it and Lapis was to suppress it, her nature of god-slaying sword wouldn't allow it.
By erasing Takeru's memories of people important to him, she would eliminate his reason for rejecting the fusion.
But Takeru didn't fear Lapis. That girl's reason wouldn't accept Takeru forgetting everything and fusing with her.
Humans aren't living just by animalistic instincts. Reason is a human instinct. The reason exerting emotions of 'not wanting to lose anything' was a valuable thing. Takeru was born with soul of a demon and learned it by interacting with humans, then Lapis without a doubt learned it by interacting with him.
That's why Takeru believed in Lapis. Even if they befall a hopeless situation, he wouldn't ever blame her.
"No matter what happens... as if I'd let go of you. Even if I were to lose my memory, my hand won't let go of you."
Takeru vowed in silence and took a deep breath.
"These are my feelings... Lapis."
"...Host is being irresponsible."
He was aware of the presence behind him for a few minutes already.
Lapis was standing by the entrance to the roof. Feeling that, he closed his eyes.
"And what about feelings of the numerous people Host holds dear."
"Even if I lose my memories, I will definitely make new ones. As many times as needed... again and again. And you too are my comrade, it's the only way to allow Kiseki to live without betraying her."
"While you and the others might be convinced with that, the sadness after a loss will remain. As I thought, you should let go of me."
"I refuse. Absolutely not."
"Host is too selfish."
"You didn't know that? I am selfish. I insist on saving everything, I insist on being together with everyone no matter what. You knew that, right? I'm like a desperate brat, I can't help it."
"...but, that is why everyone yearns for you."
"I know they cherish me. I also know that everyone will be sad if I lose my memory. Still, I need your power and your presence. It's fine if we can continue to live on without using god-slaying power... but, there's no guarantee we won't have to use it in the future. That's why, even if by chance I was to lose my memory, I will——"
Being denied, Takeru tried to refute.
"Yeah——you can't. I won't forgive that either, definitely."
Hearing a voice other than that of Lapis, Takeru turned around.
At the entrance to the roof stood Lapis and one more person, it was Ouka's figure.
Ouka rested her back on the wall by the entrance and glared intensely at Takeru.
"It's just as Lapis Lazuli says. Are you stupid?"
"S-stupid, you... heck, why are you here?"
"You're an idiot. A fool. Stuupid, stuupid."
Hearing Ouka's unbecoming jeers, Takeru's was stunned.
Continuing to glare at him, Ouka moved away from the door and swiftly closed on him.
"What are you deciding on by yourself here. Why won't you talk about it with me? Why won't you talk with your comrades?"
"...n-no, I intended to tell you afterwards."
"Don't screw around. Why won't you think it over together with us? Lapis Lazuli is special to you? So we aren't? And if you go 'I wonder if it's special' and 'it's not like that', sorry but I'll smack you right away, grandly."
Ouka approached and grasped Takeru's collar.
And at the same time, the door opened showing three new figures.
It was Mari, Usagi and Ikaruga.
On everyone's face, there was anger. Just like Ouka, they glared scornfully at him.
"That's right, exactly, don't screw around! Takeru always says it, right? Even if we can do nothing about something, we'll somehow manage when we try together. What was that? Lip service?"
With a presence like that of a domineering wife, Mari lined up next to Ouka.
"Even though you are overburdened, why won't you let your comrades shoulder it? Just how far will you go for appearances? Do you think you are that great a person? If it's clumsiness, then you surely are best."
In the same manner, Usagi lined up next to them with a hand on her hip, looking at him with despise.
"It's fine to flirt with your beloved sword, but don't you forget about flirting with me. Also, it would be troublesome if you forgot the promise to become papa."
Ikaruga also lined up next to the others, when she said 'papa' the surroundings went "ah?" and glared at him. The platoon members drew closer, causing him to unconsciously step back.
"W-wait a moment... it's true that I should have consulted it with you all, heck, I intended to do it before the operation, but first Lapis must..."
"You said it's fine if you made new memories after losing them, right? Takeru, are you lookin' down on us?"
"I-I'm not... listen to me, Mari-san. I've no intention of losing them, I'm just saying that just in case, by chance I were to lose them, I'm not really——"
"There is no assuming something can happen by chance. If you are to save everything, make sure to save your memories as well. I will definitely hate it if I was to be forgotten by Kusanagi, understand? If that happens, I shall cry."
"Usagi... d-don't cry... I won't forget. It's just in case, I'm talking about preparedness."
"You intend to make Kanaria a fatherless child?!"
"Suginami isn't that logic leap too much?! Heck, why is everyone here?!"
Having his collar grasped by everyone, Takeru flailed his arms panicked. With all their strength together, they were able to easily lift him from the ground.
Ouka was the first one to let go of him, she stopped staring with scorn and smiled wryly.
"I have spoken with everyone on how to make it possible for you to remain together without losing memories and being assimilated. I have also asked Lapis Lazuli to accompany us."
Since the three others haven't let go of him yet, Takeru was puzzled while still being lifted in the air.
"A method to stay together without losing memory...?"
"Yeah. It seems like you're trying to do something by yourself, but with my and Vlad's skill it's possible to forcibly release God-Hunter form. If Lapis Lazuli can't do it by her own will, I can release it instead."
Takeru had forgot about Vlad's intrinsic performance. Previously in combat it released Witch Hunter form. Using that experience, they must have guessed that God Hunter form can also be released.
Seeing him think about seriously, Ouka smiled.
"I have already forced the operative procedure into my head. It was a most difficult one I've learned until now... but I'll somehow manage. Believe in me and Vlad."
Ouka struck her chest with her fist. That confidence deserved trust. Learning a God Hunter form operative procedure was something impossible for a normal human. However, if it was Ouka, who's not a witch yet memorized tens of thousands operative procedure, he could believe it.
"...is that true, Lapis."
"...yes. I cannot say it's 100% safe, but if by chance we are unable to release God Hunter form, Ootori Ouka-sama and Vlad's power can be lent to stop the fusion."
She was expressionless, but in Lapis' eyes dwelled light of relief.
He was surprised that Ouka came up with such a method, but more than anything, he was surprised the most by Lapis who relied on comrade's power.
Until now Lapis only spoke to Takeru and didn't open to anyone else. Seeing her rely on someone else other than him made him honestly happy.
Lapis walked beside Takeru and faced down anxiously. The three let go of Takeru's collar and he regained freedom.
"...forgive me for being a poorly-crafted sword. This will be the third time, but..."
"I too... if permitted to, want to stay with you. Once again... won't you please use me?"
Timidly, Lapis held out her small hand to Takeru.
Even without seeing her facial expression, her anxiety was being transmitted to him.
First she pouted about being let go of, then she suddenly wants to part and then once again she says she wants to be with him, she must have been expecting him to think that she's using him at her own convenience. Lapis thought the third contract might be rejected. She approached him feelings such anxiety.
As if to discard her anxiety, Takeru held her small hand.
"I said, I won't let go of you ever again haven't I?"
"We'll be together forever."
Lapis' hand he held was not cold as it always was. There was warmth in it that made him feel like holding it forever.
Let's cherish this relationship. No matter what, I won't let go of this hand.
Takeru swore in his mind.
" " " "............" " " "
Seeing the two's exchange, the remaining four people once again started to stare scornfully at him.
And for some reason, as if to enter between them everyone has overlapped their hands with his and Lapis'.
In silence, this situation where their hands overlapped lasted for a few seconds.
"............umm, I don't really mind but it turned out as if we made a team circle before a game."
What Takeru said was correct and the mood turned into one in which no one could speak up. Just what on earth were they doing on the roof in the night.
"I-it's good to do such a thing occasionally. It's the night before the operation. It's not a bad thing. A-also, I'll help with releasing so let me mix in too."
"Don't just enter your own world with Lapis... rather, you better tell me you'll be with me forever too!"
"We are all together. Leaving me out... leaving comrades behind is unforgivable."
"Who's going to do the cheer? What was it again? Uh, um, it was that... all for my sake and me for my own sake, was it?"
Everyone has gotten into a team cheer mood.
"Just how self-centered are you... wasn't it "hurray"?"
"Isn't that for when you win...? Ah, maybe clap hands together?"
"No, that's also something you do when you win! Why clap now, everything is still ahead of us."
"How did it turn into this situation? The mood did not seem like it at all... just a moment ago, we were more serious."
"Well, we just went with the flow. One, two——God save us!! How about it?"
" " " "The operation will fail like this!" " " "
As they messed around, the platoon's shout somehow wasn't happening.
Even during the eve before a important operation, Small Fry Platoon was still being itself.
Overlooking the comrades who acted like that, Lapis stood expressionless. She stared as five people overlapped their hands and bickered about something she was unable to understand, then in the end.
For just a moment——
"——Nn? Lapis... just now, did you smile...?"
Despite the bickering, Takeru didn't miss that moment.
The instant Takeru raised his voice, Lapis' expression turned back to being emotionless.
"...I didn't smile."
"N-no, I'm sure I saw it... definitely, just now you smiled happil——"
"I didn't smile."
Stubbornly, Lapis wouldn't admit it and committed herself to remain expressionless.
Usagi raised her hand and started hopping on spot.
"Yes, yess, I have seen it as well. She really smiled!"
"I wasn't smiling."
"That's surprising... I was also surprised to see her cry, but she's finally able to smile, huh."
"I didn't smile."
"Seriously? I can't even imagine it... how did it look like?"
"I'm saying I didn't smile."
"C-cameraa... your mobiles are fine! Someone give me one! One more time! Smile one more time!"
Pouting, Lapis continued to deny and the comrades tried to make her smile again.
Every time she was being asked to smile, she faced sideways.
Frustration in Lapis' heart was transmitted to Takeru and he was about to burst out laughing. Lapis having a conversation with their comrades was very unnatural, but it made him happy.
...if only Kanaria was here too.
Squinting and looking up at the sky, he thought of Kanaria who was somewhere else, alone.
Surely she must be resting before tomorrow's operation and sharpening her senses. Being able to fulfill revenge she was yearning for years, she must have been very excited.
However, in tomorrow's operation Kanaria won't be fighting.
Precisely because Takeru knew that, he looked up at the sky with complex feelings.