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The sun rose after the night of the frenzied maelstrom of high energy
psions and diamond meteor blows.
Even though it was Sunday, Tatsuya still came to school. To his side,
Miyuki flanked him as if nothing was out of the ordinary.
Regardless of whether in the past or the present, the fact that school was
open on Sundays remained unchanged. School was still accessible on
Sundays primarily for students partic.i.p.ating in club activities, but also for
students who had received permission to use the library, labs, or even the
practical skills facilities.
That being said, their target was not the club rooms, gymnasium, library,
Tatsuya and Miyuki’s target destination was the Student Council Office.
“Looks like no one’s here yet.”
As Miyuki said, there was no one in the Student Council Room. Hearing
his sister’s murmurs, Tatsuya chuckled quietly for some strange reason.
“Only in stories does the mediator take the stage last. Reality isn’t like
The retort that sprouted from Tatsuya’s mocking tone was certainly third
rate. Miyuki’s smiling a.s.sent “You must be right” was simply to humor
him out of politeness.
Still…… Tatsuya himself was aware of the absurdity of his joke. The
reason for his laughter was because he was usually the one being
summoned, whereas today he was the one who sent the summons. This
little detail was the only oddity, so it didn’t matter if he was citing the plot
of a novel.
On the other hand, he didn’t have a whole lot to prepare despite his
invitations. Then again, it wasn’t like he had to wait too long.
“Good morning, Tatsuya-kun, Miyuki.”
One of the people they were waiting for showed up right on time.
“Ara, Erika. You’re not with Yoshida-kun?”
“That was just a coincidence! ……Is it just me, or do I sense a little bit of
“It’s just you.”
On the other side from where the female students were having their heartto-heart
“Were you waiting for a long time?”
“Hardly, we just arrived. My apologies for calling you guys out here on a
The guys were engaged in the customary small talk.
“For some reason, I get the feeling that Miki and I are treated
differently…… Ah, whatever. So what’s up with today? It’s a rare sight for
Tatsuya to summon us on a day off.”
It was indeed a rarity. It was hardly atypical for high school students to act
their age and go on an outing during their days off, but under those
conditions, Tatsuya was usually the one being invited.
Speaking of oddities, Erika’s eyes were drifting all over the place from the
get go, probably because she found the numerous data gathering devices
on the walls of the Student Council Office to be rather jarring. Seeing her
like this, Tatsuya recalled that this may be the first time she ever came into
“Let’s wait a little while longer. We can start after everyone has arrived.”
“Who else is coming?”
“Ah, we’re almost all here.”
In response to Mikihiko’s query, Tatsuya replied in the affirmative. As if
on cue to Tatsuya’s words, someone knocked on the door from the outside.
Within the student body, she was probably the one who was most familiar
with this room, to the point that she was almost the mistress of the Student
Council Office, so no one would find it amiss if she entered without
knocking. Even so, she turned out to be a surprisingly (?) well-mannered
individual. Someone might question her “common sense” in knocking
rather than using the intercom, but Tatsuya also opened the door personally
rather than using the remote, so they were both in the same boat.
“I apologize for calling you out here on such short notice.”
Just as Mikihiko was about to voice aloud his question of “why are you
greeting them personally”, his question was immediately dispelled upon
the door swinging open. That was because Mayumi and Katsuto appeared
in the doorway.
“Yoshida-kun and Chiba-kun? Were the two of you called here by Shibakun
In place of Mayumi, who stood frozen in shock and not inconsiderable
wavering, Katsuto presented a simple question.
In place of Erika, who was suddenly at a loss for words, Mikihiko was the
one who gave a concise answer.
“Then, let’s begin.”
Tatsuya reinforced his words and urged everyone to their seats.
“Can you start with an explanation first? Why did you call Saegusa-senpai
and us here at the same time?”
“I concur. I would also like to hear your reasoning first.”
Interpersonal feelings had a karma-like quality. Good intentions, malice,
and enmity were all replied back in kind. Calculating the proper category
and preparing the appropriate response would be the adult approach, but
being unable to discern the other side’s intentions made this rather difficult
to prepare for.
Mayumi’s att.i.tude was an exemplary model of an emotional reflex.
Personally, she bore no displeasure towards Erika, though to be precise,
she didn’t really bother herself with Erika’s actions. That being said, she
already responded to the blatant enmity that Erika was flaunting. Seeing
her like this, Tatsuya couldn’t help but mentally add, “You’re two years
older than her, can you please adopt a more logical stance?”
“In regards to the vampire we have been hunting, I have one detail I need
to report to everyone present.”
However, Tatsuya didn’t really care if they were set on opposing one
another. He didn’t attempt any meaningless arbitration and quickly dived
into his conversation.
“Then let’s hear it.”
First one to react was Katsuto. Rather, it would be more appropriate to say
that no one save Katsuto had a reaction.
“Last night, I interjected a synthetic molecular transmitter that sends out a
set electronic signal every three hours into the vampire’s body.”
The transmitter was placed inside the tranquilizer pellet as a fallback plan
in case the tranquilizer failed to take effect. However, the actual situation
had far exceeded initial estimates, forcing him to rely on this insurance
policy. That being said, just Tatsuya alone would be hard pressed to
maximize the utility of this insurance.
“At most, the transmitter will last three days. While the signal strength is
very weak, we should be able to capture the signal if we utilize the
antennae placed on the street cameras that are used to detect illegal
This time, everyone had a reaction. Actually, it was more like there was no
way they could sit still.
“Just a minute, Tatsuya-kun. Last night? Where?”
Mayumi’s eyes bulged outwards.
“How did you find it?”
Unlike her usual frustrated tone, Erika’s question was more of a
“You say synthetic molecular transmitter, just where did you get your
hands on something like that……”
Mikihiko murmured in a daze as everyone brought their own question to
bear on Tatsuya.
While Tatsuya personally believed that these were all legitimate questions
worthy of asking, he wasn’t ready to divulge the entire process and
background. In order to do so, he would not be able to avoid touching the
tip of the iceberg for the Independent Magic-Equipped Battalion’s
equipment as well as Lina’s secret ident.i.ty.
“This is the signal frequency.”
As he said this, Tatsuya placed a card in front of each of the four.
“Senpais’ group and Erika’s group should all be able to access the
observation antennae, correct?”
“……So we’re to find its location, right?”
Tatsuya wordlessly nodded at Mayumi’s question.
“……Why are you giving this to us?”
Tatsuya wasn’t dull enough to miss that the “us” Erika spoke of referred to
the team formed by the Saegusa and Juumonji Families as well as the
group formed by the Chiba Family. Even so, he had no intention of
pointing out the obvious. Still, it was Tatsuya’s goal to pa.s.s along the data
he had collected so far to the four in front of him, so he continued his
explanation in spite of Erika’s query.
“In regards to the ident.i.ty of the vampires we are hunting, they appear to
be Magicians who deserted from the USNA Army.”
The four of them betrayed looks of “how can this be” as well as “that
The unknown force that was hampering their investigation. That sort of
atypical individual and organizational strength told Mayumi and Erika that
this was no ordinary criminal organization. It would make a whole lot of
sense if the vampire’s real ident.i.ty was that of Magicians who deserted
from the USNA military.
“In addition, there’s more than one of them. There are at least two
deserters and maybe as many as ten or more.”
“Ten people deserted from Stars?”
“No, Erika. They may still belong to the USNA Army even if they are not
affiliated with Stars.”
“Eh, is that true?”
“Saegusa…… Stars is a unit comprised of only the Magicians with the
highest combat rating in the entire USNA Army. That implies that there are
also Magicians in the USNA Army that do not belong to Stars.”
Tatsuya corrected Erika’s misinterpretation while Katsuto did the same for
Mayumi. The two beautiful women were surprisingly birds of a feather (?),
but would definitely throw a tantrum if this was said aloud. Tatsuya
concluded that he should keep this to himself.
“—Even if they are not members of Stars, they are still trained opponents
augmented by the vampire’s powers. They will not be easy opponents.”
“That’s right. Even excluding the creature’s power, they are not opponents
we can take lightly.”
Katsuto said heavily.
“However, even if they are not Magicians from Stars, this does not change
the fact that they are from the USNA Army…… I thought that any country
with Magicians attached to the military would keep them on a short leash,
or does the USNA Army have more relaxed discipline?”
Mikihiko’s comment was slightly off topic from the discussion at hand.
Nevertheless, Tatsuya probably also had a few words on this point. He was
not “agreeing” with the topic, but actively answering this question.
“No, maybe you’ve got it backwards.”
“The Parasite’s influence is greater than even the military’s control. Isn’t it
more like the Parasite has completely altered a human being? If that
metamorphosis exceeds flesh and bone and encroaches on the mental
level, then it would hardly be surprising if there’s a change in values after
“That’s…… true. Then, why did the Parasite flee?”
“Probably because it felt that there was no further reason to remain or that
its goals could not be fulfilled within the military. We have no way of
knowing until we capture the Parasite and interrogate it.”
“Goal, eh…… Beyond just parasites, the goal of most creatures would be
to satisfy their hunger or bolster their numbers, but there’s no point in
dwelling on that now. Anything we come up with would only be pure
conjecture. Compared to that, if it’s not because of their relaxed discipline,
then the situation is far graver.”
“Indeed. In other words, how can they expect to instill discipline in the
military if there are deserters?”
“……In the end, what are we going to do?”
Just as Tatsuya and Mikihiko were getting embroiled in their conversation,
Erika sulkily interposed. Once they looked around, they found Mayumi
also wearing a fed up expression.
“I never planned on saying that.”
Tatsuya failed to betray any sign of awkwardness at being accused of
going off tangent, nor did he cough to break the ice. He immediately used
a perfectly natural tone to make his announcement.
At this response, Erika wasn’t the only one who wore an “Eh?” expression.
“At any rate, I don’t plan on turning a blind eye at my friend’s suffering,
but at the same time, I don’t intend to personally avenge him either. If
Public Safety and the police force can handle this then there’s nothing else
I need to do, nor would I have any complaints as to any punishment on
behalf of the Clan Meeting. Of course, I have no problems either if the
Chiba Family decides to solo this endeavor.”
Already on his feet, Tatsuya dropped this as he left the table.
Seizing the initiative before Mayumi could say anything, Katsuto said a
few congratulatory words to Tatsuya.
“It’s not easy for everyone to gather together. Let’s talk a little more before
taking our leave.”
“Is that so? Then, could I trouble you to lock the doors and windows?”
“Leave that to me.”
Tatsuya bowed to Katsuto and gave a meaningful glance at Miyuki before
As for Mikihiko’s desperate plea for help communicated through his eyes,
Tatsuya chalked that up to a misinterpretation and ignored it.
◊ ◊ ◊
Meanwhile, at the same time as Tatsuya left the campus.
“Lina, it’s about time you got out of bed!”
Chastised by her roommate, Lina finally crawled out of bed.
Ten minutes ago, she had reluctantly got out of bed after her roommate
ruthlessly confiscated her blanket. Now, Lina was sitting before the table
still clad in her pajamas.
“Seriously…… Even for a Sunday, you’re taking it too easy.”
Utterly befuddled, Silvia set a mug of warm millk laced with honey in
front of Lina. Lina slowly used her powerless hand to move that cup to her
mouth. Letting out a breath after looking at the honey milk, Lina was
“Thanks for the food…… Silvie, did we get anything from HQ?”
Her tone had completely transformed to that of the Stars High
Commander. –Except her light sleepwear and haphazard hair belied any
sort of authority on her part. Still, even her lazy appearance could not
detract from her beauty, such was the absolute authority of “true beauty”.
Silvia could only chuckle wryly, finally choosing to bite her tongue
because she too acknowledged “that’s just how it is”.
“Currently, we have received no new information. However, I don’t
believe that we’re going to get off without a reprimand……”
“You think so too, Silvie……”
Hearing Silvia’s answer, Lina gloomily lowered her head and covered it
with both hands. When matched with her age, that posture of hers simply
screamed unreliable. Even knowing that this would rub salt into the
wound, Silvia couldn’t help but strike up a conversation.
“Lina, exactly what happened last night? Even if they were Satelite cla.s.s,
there are still members with Stars designation, but four of them were
neutralized in one instance…… Among them, two sustained internal
lacerations, concussions, and bone fractures. They have all been injured to
the point that returning to active duty on this mission seems impossible.”
“On top of that, we lost communication with you for over three hours,
practically full blown MIA……”
Silvia probably didn’t intend to do this, but the contents of her
interrogation were pressing Lina for her behavior.
“Don’t tell me…… You lost?”
That was the finishing blow. Lina, who was just covering her head with
both hands and making small noises, suddenly keeled over on the table.
This situation completely flabbergasted Silvia, who had inadvertently
landed a critical hit.
“I can’t go on. I don’t have the confidence to continue the mission. I will
return the t.i.tle Sirius.”
“Huh, ah, Lina…… High Commander!?”
Before the teary-eyed and thoroughly depressed Lina, even Silvia was
starting to panic.
“N-Nothing of the sort. High Commander, you have always carried out the
duties of Sirius with distinction.”
Silvia had intended to just ask Lina a routine series of questions and only
just realized that she had pushed Lina into a depressive cycle. Frantically,
she tried to console Lina.
“How could the High Commander lose to a high school student, right?”
Currently, Silvia really wanted to sigh aloud. It appeared that Lina was
completely immersed in a black mora.s.s of negativity. Despite the words
“losing to a high school student”, under normal circ.u.mstances, Lina was
still of the age that she should be attending high school herself. Setting that
aside, her current tear stricken appearance was perfectly befitting of a
young girl her age that could be seen anywhere, Silvia thought with a
particular sort of understanding.
“Well, that’s right, you were just unlucky this time.”
Even so, there was no way Lina could continue her task if this situation
continued. “Sirius” was the mightiest fighting force in their a.r.s.enal. In an
effort to get her to rally, Silvia kept trying to console Lina.
“Of the Shiba siblings you spoke of last time, which one defeated the High
“……Both. Just as I caught Tatsuya, Miyuki interfered.”
“Oh! As expected, those two aren’t normal high school students.”
“…...There’s no way in h.e.l.l that those two are “normal high school
“When faced with atypical Magicians, it is true that would be too heavy of
a burden for Satellite Cla.s.ses.”
Silvia swapped “high school students” for “abnormal high school
students” and subst.i.tuted “abnormal high school students” with “atypical
Magicians” in an effort to remove the catalyst for Lina’s shock and boost
“It wasn’t just the two of them!”
Suddenly, Lina raised her head in a vibrant manner. It appeared that
Silvia’s plan of action yielded some unexpected results.
“Besides Tatsuya and Miyuki, three ninjas also came out of nowhere!”
Silvia was aware that ninjas – or “Ninjutsu Pract.i.tioners”, were another
term for a type of Ancient Magic user. The source of her (mental) shock
was not because she viewed the word “ninja” as a suspicious fabrication,
but more because of Lina’s sudden fervor.
“While I know that Tatsuya has connection with ninjas, but I never thought
that such skilled ninjas would intervene at that time!”
“Y, yes. That’s true……”
“The data files from intelligence only mentioned that “a ninja serves as
Shiba Tatsuya’s trainer”! How was I to know that ninja was Master
“……Where did that intelligence come from?”
“I heard the man mention it himself. If I knew there was the possibility of
such a tricky opponent interfering, I would have devised another location
for this engagement. This is plainly a mistake on part of the intelligence
unit. I originally wasn’t someone with an intelligence background, so it
would be very difficult for me if I don’t receive accurate intelligence.
Just as Sivlia planned, Lina had successfully escaped from that vicious
cycle of negativity. As a price, Silvia was forced to listen to Lina’s tantrum
“Silvie, sorry about earlier……”
Thanks to a thorough rant of her displeasure, Lina had completely reverted
to her usual self. By the time she mastered herself, the first thing that crept
up on her was a personal loathing for her display.
“No worries. It’s unhealthy if you don’t vent once in a while.”
Seeing Lina slightly dip her head, Silvia smiled and shook her head before
refilling the mug of honey milk. Those words only flattened Lina’s selfesteem
even more, but Silvia meant nothing by that. At her young age, she
had already learned that sitting through a superior’s complaints was one of
the duties of a subordinate.
“Though we have no new orders from HQ, there’s still a few reports I need
you to go through. Ah, no, you’re fine just like that.”
Lina probably wanted to “freshen up a little”. Silvia waved her hand at her
superior, still dressed in her night clothes, as if requesting her to remain
“First, the four who were injured last night…… t.i.tan and Enceladus
avoided major injury, so we’ll observe them for one day and if there are no
lingering issues, they should be able to return to active duty. Mimas and
Iapetus are as I said earlier and I doubt that they will be able to return to
“……If the two who have suffered serious injury can recover to a mobile
state, arrange for them to return home.”
“Then there’s just me. Next from Commander Canopus, it doesn’t seem
likely that we will be able to mobilize more people from Stars to j.a.pan.”
“The Joint Chiefs appear to want Stardust as support, at least that’s the
“Do they plan on adding pursuit units?”
When compared to the practical magic systems developed by the Four
Systems and Eight Major Types, the research in regards to utilizing special
abilities in the Sensory System as magic was slightly behind. Even within
a specialized group like Stardust, Magicians who specialized in search and
pursuit were hard to come by. Even in the entire USNA military, it was
hard to say that they had enough personnel. Now, with this already limited
resource invested in j.a.pan, the Joint Chiefs simply didn’t have any more
troops at their disposal to supply additional pursuers.
“No, they’re sending special ops.”
As expected, Silvia’s response denied Lina’s question.
“While I agree that Stardust’s firepower would probably be insufficient to
handle the situation at hand…… But there’s nothing we can do.”
The difference in capabilities between the Satellite Cla.s.s and Stardust was
not significant. The disparity was that Stardust troops were unable to
sustain the augments and could break down at any moment. After
augmentation, they displayed prowess on par with Stars members. Still,
the Satellite Cla.s.s units mobilized for this mission to j.a.pan were also
picked more for martial abilities, and when compared to them, Stardust’s
firepower was noticeably inferior. This was the reason why Lina heaved a
“This is a report from the other side, but the mobile units don’t have
anything worth reporting.”
Silvia also concurred with Lina’s a.s.sessment, but since there was nothing
they could do about the situation no matter how long they thought about it,
she progressed to the next report.
“Since we are placed in a situation where we must take care of the
deserters first, we’ll just have to leave the other side to other teams. Still,
why haven’t we fished up anything?”
The other side referred to the investigation behind the “t.i.tanic explosion”
caused by Strategic-Cla.s.s Magic, tasked with identifying the user of what
the USNA diplomats and military personnel named the “Great Boom”. The
mobile units were the intelligence units that had infiltrated j.a.pan ahead of
time in universities and high schools under the guise of transfer students or
within the major power in the magical devices industry, Maximillian
“Speaking of which, we haven’t had a chance to speak with Mia in a
The name that pa.s.sed across Lina’s recollection and lips was the other
individual from the mobile unit who lived next door by the name of
Michaela Honda. Although she was also of j.a.panese descent like Lina, her
appearance differed in that she looked completely j.a.panese. Currently, she
infiltrated Maximilian Devices as a salesperson under the alias Aya Honda.
“Over the last couple of days, she looked like she’s been out late in the
evening. Today is probably work related as well.”
“We’re the same as well when it comes to being about at late hours……
Plainly, she’s quite diligent even on a Sunday.”
Lina and Silvia exchanged smiles. While her job as a salesperson for
Maximillian Devices was only a disguise, she appeared to be quite popular
among the college crowd as the two of them recalled the last time Mia was
grousing about her situation.
“She appears to be headed for First High tomorrow. Something about
tagging along when they return the CAD maintenance equipment.”
However, Lina’s smile stiffened when she heard of Mia’s itinerary for
tomorrow from Silvia. As Stars’ High Commander, Lina disliked anyone
seeing her current disguise as a normal high school student, much like how
an elementary child mentally resists any parental visit to school.
“Since she’s scheduled to visit during lunch, would you be able to catch
her during lunch break?”
Without any real life experiences at school, Lina wasn’t sure why she was
so nervous about this, but Silvia knew much better than Lina herself why
this was case when she made this proposal. Seeing Lina avert her eyes in
confusion, Silvia smirked in secret.
◊ ◊ ◊
Amid the ruckus, a call from behind her prompted Shizuku to turn her
head. On the American West Coast, it was Sat.u.r.day evening on January
28th. At the moment, Shizuku was at a house party being thrown in her
After verifying the male (more like “boy”) waving his arms in an
exaggerated manner, Shizuku slightly raised her hand.
His name was Raymond S. Clark.
After Shizuku transferred from abroad, he was the first among the male
students to strike up a conversation with Shizuku. Since then, he was the
white (Anglo-Saxon was a rare sight on the West Coast) cla.s.smate who
always stuck with Shizuku for some unexplained reason.
Shizuku thought he was properly gesturing with his hand to come over.
Since he surprisingly knew how to keep his distance and wasn’t
particularly irritating, Shizuku’s perception of him wasn’t overly negative.
On another note, the nickname “Tear” also started with Raymond. When
asked what “Shizuku” meant during her self-introduction, Shizuku had
explained that her name referred to the “drop” in either a “teardrop” or
“dewdrop”, to which the nickname “Tear” was supplied for her. Shizuku
wasn’t particularly fond of this nickname, but when she asked her female
cla.s.smates “Does she look like a crybaby?”, and their answer turned out to
be “Because you really fit a pearl’s description”, she wasn’t really in a
position to decline any further. –Because she was embarra.s.sed. As a result,
since she didn’t dislike the name “Tear”, she resolved to leave it be.
Somewhere along the way, Shizuku’s nickname settled on “Tear”.
Her internal monologue ended there.
“That dress looks amazing, Tear. You’re even more dazzling than usual.”
Faced with Ray’s unfazed smile and compliment, Shizuku kept her usual
stoic expression. Actually, it was more like she was tilting her head to one
side out of amazement.
A mushroom head of black hair that was allowed to grow long waved
lightly back and forth.
Ignoring Ray’s eyes that were growing warmer by the second, Shizuku
glanced at her own clothes.
The dress was long enough to brush along the floor.
Her back, shoulders, and both arms were revealed.
She also wore a long pair of gloves that seemed a little out of date.
While Shizuku had heard of shops in the USNA that carried the latest
fashion, she was surprised to find them more antiquated than she
imagined. There were also dresses found all over the place today that
mandated a corset, but fortunately Shizuku’s dress was not like that.
“Your suit matches you well, Ray.”
Although she heeded the store attendant’s recommendation and bought the
dress, Shizuku still didn’t understand which part of her dress stood out, so
she replied back with customary phrases. To her, Raymond’s tuxedo was a
little out of style (it would have been outrageous on someone from her
country), but perfectly matched his appearances that wouldn’t have been
out of place on a young n.o.ble, so her words of etiquette weren’t forced.
“Thank you! It is my honor to be complimented by Tear.”
In addition, Shizuku wasn’t going to object to his obvious pleasure at those
simple words. For some reason, Raymond’s honest display of his emotions
reminded Shizuku of her younger brother. In terms of race, teenage
Europeans should look more mature than Asians of the same age, so even
though Raymond was of the same age, he was still a little immature in
(……No, it’s not that Ray is immature, it’s because Tatsuya is wiser than
After turning that over in her head, Shizuku once again looked at
“Are you alone?”
“I don’t plan on accompanying any woman besides Tear.”
Speaking of which, tonight’s party wasn’t the type where those without a
date couldn’t attend.
“I wasn’t referring to girls.”
At the moment, Shizuku followed her own curiosity and clarified
And thus, Raymond became fl.u.s.tered in a very interesting way.
“Eh? Uh, yeah, if you mean by myself then I am alone…… I think?”
Shizuku really wanted to tell him not to ask her, but managed to bite her
Seeing the boys behind Raymond making all sorts of elaborate hand
gestures (Shizuku was unaware of this, but they were urging Raymond on),
there was no need to state that he was blatantly lying. In spite of this,
Shizuku didn’t have the heart to berate him.
“Um…… Tear, in regards to the thing you asked me about before.”
Maybe it was because he detected that the atmosphere was rapidly turning
for the worse, Raymond made an obvious attempt to change the subject.
This was exactly what Shizuku wanted, but she felt that this wasn’t the
right place to have that conversation.
“Let’s move somewhere else.”
Hearing Shizuku forcefully call out his name, Raymond could only shut
his mouth and repeatedly nod his head at her proposal.
Even though this was a house party, this was the place selected as a
residence for the young lady of the Kitayama Family. In comparison to the
typical house party that could be found anywhere, it was much more
luxurious. The party extended beyond indoors all way into the yard, but
given the hour, most of the attendees had already departed.
Shizuku wore a knit overcoat over her dress as she walked beneath the
wintry sky filled with stars. For a j.a.panese female, her height wasn’t
overly short, but by American standards she was positively “pet.i.te”. The
American coat she wore extended from her shoulders all the way to the
waist, but there was still a small, sneaking suspicion whether it could block
She manipulated the CAD in her handbag and created a warm temperature
area around her surroundings. Along the way, she also incorporated Ray
into the field as well. The warm temperature area would also help contain
the sound of their voices.
“Thanks, Tear…… Magic is certainly convenient thing.”
“This level of magic isn’t all that rare.”
In terms of compliments, Shizuku felt that it was a little overblown, but
Raymond ma.s.sively shook his head.
“Tear, you just came to this country, so you might not have noticed, but for
us, magic isn’t something that can be used like this. It is practically
impossible to see magic used in the everyday setting within this country.
Magic is used to exemplify one’s power, it’s an object to demonstrate one’s
knowledge, and even to exalt one’s status.”
“So you think it would be a waste, right?”
“Hahaha…… Well, pretty much.”
At Shizuku’s blunt a.s.sessment, Raymond laughed so hard he bent at the
waist. Still, this uproarious laughter seemed slightly unnatural.
“Besides military purposes, this country’s magic research is reserved
largely for fundamental research. Social services and daily activities are
looked down upon as unworthy. If there’s ma.s.sive profit involved, that
might not be the case. Because of this…… No, sorry. We didn’t come to
talk about this.”
Although he usually looked to be carefree, he also had his own worries.
Shizuku wordlessly waited for him to continue.
“Then, let’s get back on topic.”
Raising his head, Raymond’s expression was so sharp he seemed like
another person altogether.
“First, the “vampire” incident is indeed true.”
He, Raymond, was the “knowledgeable student” she told Honoka about as
well as the source of intelligence she promised to Tatsuya.
“Although the cause remains unclear, I have uncovered all the related
“Of course. This is highly cla.s.sified information, but last November in
Dallas, they conducted an experiment based on string theory to create and
evaporate a miniature black hole.”
“Sorry, I don’t know all the details.”
“That’s fine. And then?”
Surely she could get those details if she asked Tatsuya, right? Shizuku
thought as she encouraged him onward.
“The specifics of the experiment remain unknown, but what is known is
that these “vampires” materialized after the experiment was conducted.”
Shizuku pondered this for 5 seconds before opening her mouth.
“So Ray, you believe that there is a causal relationship between this
experiment and the appearance of the vampires, correct?”
“Earlier, I said that the cause was unknown.”
Here, Ray stopped momentarily to organize this thoughts.
“I believe that it was the black hole experiment that summoned the
There was no way for Shizuku to divine exactly where Raymond got this
information and what was the basis for this belief. Still, within this brief
exchange, Shizuku clearly understood he had a special power to uncover
the buried truth. Whether this was his personal ability or came from an
organization was unimportant to Shizuku at this point.
“……I see. Thank you.”
The important thing was that his information was trustworthy.
“You’re welcome. After all, this is Tear’s request. If there’s anything else I
can do for you, you are always welcome to discuss it with me.”
In the eyes of a bystander, it was obvious what Raymond was trying to do.
As for Shizuku herself, she believed that “he was only curious about her
right now”. –Whether this dullness was a natural trait or something
acquired from her recent friends was anyone’s guess.
◊ ◊ ◊
For Tatsuya, this was the rare Sunday that he could spend at his leisure,
though it wasn’t like he could go have fun in his uniform. Tatsuya and
Miyuki opted against taking a detour to hit the stores and first came home.
Today, they weren’t using the motorcycle, but the bus instead. Sitting
shoulder to shoulder like they usually did in the bus, Miyuki gloomily
watched the side of her brother’s face as he watched the pa.s.sing scenery.
In regards to this incident, Tatsuya was also in the throes of a headache.
Rather than calling it a headache, he was berating himself to be more
careful. Compared to normal, it was very rare for Tatsuya to beat himself
up over what-ifs and maybes.
I wish he could discuss it with me, Miyuki thought.
She didn’t believe that she could help very much, nor did she believe that
she had the power to alleviate her brother’s woes.
However, she still wanted to hear what concerned him. Even if she could
not take away his burdens, at the very least she was capable of lessening
his headache, Miyuki thought.
I wish he would do that, Miyuki prayed as she kept looking at the side of
her brother’s face.
“I’m too naïve……”
Was this wish pa.s.sed along to him? Tatsuya lightly murmured.
Keeping a tight grasp on her agitation and hopes, Miyuki pretended to be
oblivious and naturally raised a question to Tatsuya. The words “what are
you concerned about” were never asked, never stated.
“I thought the result didn’t concern me, so now I’m stuck in this sorry
position. Everything is now reactionary. There are these clues at hand, but
the core pieces are unknown.”
While Tatsuya’s speech was rather vague, Miyuki instinctively knew what
“clues” Tatsuya was referring to.
“You mean…… Lina’s situation?”
Tatsuya couldn’t help but widen his eyes at someone directly pinpointing
what he was thinking about.
“What a pain…… I really have no secrets in front of Miyuki.”
That’s not true! Miyuki furiously stifled the urge to scream from the back
of her throat.
Often, Miyuki had no idea what Tatsuya was thinking. Nevertheless,
Miyuki convinced herself not to vent her agitation on her brother and
instead work towards understanding him.
“I knew from the very beginning what Lina’s goals were. I even had the
opportunity to interrogate her, or forcibly manufacture the opportunity.
Despite this, I left it by the wayside because I didn’t want to cause any
upheaval in our lives and now have missed the opening.”
Tatsuya wore a self-depreciating smile.
Miyuki withstood the pain in her heart and silently waited for her brother
“No…… I do know. Even if I had acted immediately, there’s no guarantee
that suffering could have been avoided. There is the possibility that the
situation could have worsened. But…… In the face of a friend being
injured, I can’t help but consider what if……”
Hearing Tatsuya’s confession, this time Miyuki couldn’t help but smile. It
wasn’t because her brother had bared his heart to her, but in regards to the
contents of her brother’s words.
“Onii-sama….. You’ve grown kinder.”
“Miyuki? What’s with this all of a sudden?”
“No…… Onii-sama was originally a kind person. It’s just a little hard to
“Sorry, you can explain that to me in plainer terms?”
Seeing Tatsuya’s bemused expression, Miyuki already decided not to hide
her smile any longer.
“So there are some things that even Onii-sama doesn’t understand. Even
Onii-sama doesn’t understand himself?”
“Of course, I think you’re appraising me too highly. There are a myriad
things I don’t know, and my face is something I can see only with the help
of a mirror. A created image with the right and left flipped.”
“As expected of Onii-sama, you don’t try to put on a brave front here. In
Miyuki dramatically lowered her voice here.
Despite knowing that he was walking straight into his sister’s ploy, Tatsuya
still strained his ears to hear.
“Onii-sama cannot forgive himself for letting Saijou-kun get hurt. While
our time has been limited, Onii-sama doesn’t want to do anything violent
towards Lina, who has become our friend. Onii-sama, Miyuki is very
happy. Happy because Onii-sama has these heartfelt feelings for someone
other than myself. You have more humane emotions than you believed
yourself to possess.”
Tatsuya sat straight forward and closed his eyes.
Miyuki found it hilarious that her brother was adopting such an easily
discernible way to disguise his embarra.s.sment.
That he was willing to show this side of himself to her caused Miyuki to
feel truly overjoyed.
◊ ◊ ◊
“Yoshida-kun, we’re getting a reaction from Tokyo Tower Park. Presently,
it is moving towards Iigura Crossing.”
“Understood. I am currently located near Toranomon Station near
Sakurada. I will proceed immediately to Iigura Crossing.”
“Please get there in ten minutes.”
“Understood. ETA is two minutes.”
The transmission was cut short. They looked like they were going to make
it this time. Understanding this, Mayumi let out a sigh of relief.
The result of the discussion prior to noon culminated in a system that had
Mayumi responsible for information control while Katsuto and Erika led
the mobile units. Everyone was clear on the fact that internal strife held no
benefit for anyone.
Nonetheless, neither side was willing to take that first step forward, so
everyone’s independent actions only resulted in the situation where they
were hindering their own companions.
On that level, they really had to thank Tatsuya’s cloak and dagger play that
forcibly established a stage where a compromise could be hammered out. –
On Mayumi’s part, she was highly put out that Tatsuya was treating her
like a child.
(Just you wait. I’m going to give you the bitterest chocolate ever on
Satisfied with the mental image of discomfiting Tatsuya, Mayumi turned
her attention back to the display monitor.
Unfortunately, the transmitter Tatsuya supplied wasn’t very strong. To be
precise, it was horrible, though it was true that the observation antennae
could capture the signal waves.
However, in a metropolis well connected by the public transportation
system, the target could cover a whole lot of ground in three hours.
Furthermore, the signal was only emitted once every ten minutes. In short,
they had to catch the target within this time frame.
This time, it was only after they used the street cameras’ observation
system that they found out for the first time that they could not pursue the
vampire using the street cameras alone. Much like legends and fiction, the
camera could not snap a picture of their head. Still, legends and fiction
weren’t entirely mistaken. No matter how they adjusted the focal point,
they could only get a murky picture of the vampire’s body.
This was especially the case above the neck. There was no way to
differentiate facial features. The street camera system was designed to be a
pursuit tool that was founded on the basis of facial recognition, so it was
practically pointless if it could not differentiate facial features.
The task force from the Saegusa Family concluded that since there was no
sign of mechanical failure, the target probably used magic to disrupt the
This was the reason why the target had eluded them three hours ago and
six hours ago. Thus, the hunt continued deep into the night.
Fortunately, this time they seemed to be right on the money.
Mayumi coordinated the collapsing ring of pursuers while opening a line
of communication with Katsuto, who was still investigating in the
◊ ◊ ◊
Early in the week, Tatsuya found a rather familiar sight these past couple
of days plopped in front of him in the cla.s.sroom.
Erika was sprawled over her desk. She might have been better off coming
to school later, since she seemed completely exhausted.
(Scratch that, did she pull an all-nighter?)
“……Um, shouldn’t we wake her up?”
Mizuki, who met them earlier at the station, asked him quietly.
She was so soundly asleep that even normal speaking volume failed to
rouse her. Although Mizuki knew this at a glance, it was precisely
Mizuki’s style to lower her volume even so.
“Just let her sleep.”
Tatsuya’s reply was fairly simple. To be precise, it was the practical
Even if they managed to wake her, it was plain that she wouldn’t have
access to major mental facilities prior to noon, though in reality, Tatsuya
really didn’t have the spare energy to worry about other people’s mental
framework at the moment.
◊ ◊ ◊
In order to address Tatsuya’s lack of spare energy, we must return to half a
Actually, coincidentally after Tatsuya and Miyuki finished dinner, the
Right now, this wasn’t exactly an odd hour for a call. –At least for the side
who received the phone call.
However, this was late at night for the American West Coast and
approached the time for the day change. It wouldn’t be a surprise if
Tatsuya was a little nervous over what happened.
“h.e.l.lo, Shizuku? Did something happen?”
As predicted, the one who appeared on the screen was Ashe. However, her
appearance that came through the picture was wholly expected.
Shizuku looked like she was wearing her pajamas. Following the height of
fashion, her sleeping garment failed to include a robe.
Answering the phone in the living room was a bad idea. The large, high
definition image projected a brilliant picture that was in no way inferior to
Maybe it was because they were pajamas, but the light luminescent
material was not covering much of Shizuku’s slim figure. Tatsuya had seen Shizuku’s swimsuit during the summer, but the picture
Shizuku presented now was even more alluring.
This was probably the effect of the faintly discernable hinting at the hidden
portions. It was one thing if nothing could be seen, but the effect was
aggravated when the curves were being hinted at.
Based on the image, Shizuku wasn’t wearing underclothes. Although the
ma.s.sive amounts of lace and tr.i.m.m.i.n.gs covered up the important parts, if
the article of clothing was slightly out of place then even the
unmentionables would be revealed.
Under normal circ.u.mstances, even Tatsuya would raise an eyebrow.
Fortunately, concern carried great weight on his part right now, so he
wasn’t awkwardly fl.u.s.tered.
“Shizuku? What are you doing!?”
Yet, even someone of the same gender who caught a glimpse of this,
Miyuki, was blushing – that’s how much she was fl.u.s.tered.
“Ah, Miyuki, good evening.”
“Stop with the greeting! At least put on a robe!”
“……It’s OK, right?”
She wore an expression of skepticism, but Shizuku obediently pulled on a
“Sorry for the late hour.”
Afterwards, she once again started the conversation anew after bowing her
“It’s not that late over here…… Wait, have you been drinking?”
Shizuku’s tone sounded tired but there was something strange, like an odd
lint in her voice.
Of course that would be, no matter how much Tatsuya wanted to finish the
comment, he opted to swallow his words. That was because he realized
that voicing that aloud had achieved nothing since the dawn of time.
“Never mind, what were you speaking of?”
Her cognitive powers seemed to have declined as well, but she wouldn’t
have called for no reason. Tatsuya determined that it was best to get the
information from her as quickly as possible.
“Hm, I think I should tell you sooner rather than later.”
Tell me what? Surely he should be praised for discerning the topic without
blatantly asking the question.
“Do you already know? Impressive.”
“Please praise me more.”
Hearing Shizuku use a plain tone to flirt, Tatsuya suddenly felt a strong
sense of powerlessness wash over him.
(……Who allowed Shizuku to drink?)
Shizuku was clearly inebriated. Given that, she appeared to have become
“No, you’re quite amazing, Shizuku. Then, what have you found out?”
It was not his intent to pressure the other side who was calling at a late
hour (from her end), but it was probably better for everyone involved to
end the call as soon as possible. Even if she was drunk, she wasn’t wasted
enough to lose her memory.
“The reason behind the vampire’s appearance.”
Still, this was a more central piece of the puzzle than he had expected.
Tatsuya and Miyuki both leaned forward.
“String…… That is, something string related to black hole experiments.”
“Huh? Black hole? Shizuku, what are you referring to?”
Immediately afterward, since there were a few unexpected and vague
terms being bandied about, there was an array of question marks dancing
over Miyuki’s head.
Exactly – over Miyuki’s head.
“I don’t know. I was planning on asking Tatsuya.”
“Using string theory as a foundation to create miniature black holes? You
are referring to the annihilation effect, correct?”
Tatsuya verified in a low, stiff voice.
“That’s it. You got it.”
Shizuku seemed to have missed the alteration in the tone (there was no
physical sign she picked up on that), but Miyuki timidly peeked at her
“So they did that……”
His voice was steady as usual, no, perhaps more calm than his usual tone.
Yet, that was because Tatsuya had suffered a serious shock, a detail that no
one else could understand save Miyuki.
“What is that?”
At this point, Miyuki really wanted to hang up. Using “It’s very late” as an
excuse, she planned on terminating the call because she didn’t want to sour
Tatsuya’s mood any worse than it was.
Unfortunately, before that could happen, Shizuku had already voiced a
“A detailed explanation would be too complex so I’ll be brief.”
Tatsuya also began his answer.
“It is an experiment designed to extract energy out of a miniature version
of an artificial black hole. Scientists believe that during evaporation
process of black hole creation matter will be transformed into thermal
energy. Their goal was to verify this.”
Her attempt to terminate the conversation a failure, Miyuki had no choice
but to listen to her brother’s explanation, but her heart was completely
frazzled by the term energy transformation. The warning they received
from their aunt rang once more in Miyuki’s mind.
“That’s string theory? That’s how they can extract energy from other
Of course, Shizuku was oblivious to Miyuki’s concerns and was simply
immersed in the back and forth as a drunk scholar.
“No, the process of extracting energy is in itself unrelated to other
dimensions. That’s because they have predicted the evaporation of the
miniature black hole that has nothing to do with its creation process. String
theory refers to the idea that this world is like the outer layer of another
world of a higher order. In terms of physical energy, only gravity can
permeate the dimensional barrier, so gravity allows most forms of energy
to leak into other dimensions. This theory also implies that our dimension
is only able to observe energy from higher dimensions at a much smaller
scale. However, the tiny distance at the atomic level will still initiate a
reaction with similar objects prior to leaking to another dimension and will
have a greater gravitational attraction than normal. Thus, based on string
theory, creation of a miniature black hole can be accomplished with
minimal energy. That is the theoretical background behind the experiment
to create an artificial black hole on a miniature scale using string theory.”
“……Miyuki, did you get that?”
“Alas, no. I don’t really understand it either.”
Seeing Shizuku shaking her head back and forth, Miyuki also smiled wryly
and shook her head.
“But Onii-sama, how does this topic relate to the vampires……?”
Afterward, Miyuki hesitantly ventured forth a question while glancing
upwards at her brother’s face at a close proximity.
Tatsuya glanced downward towards his sister and flicked his eyes over to
Shizuku’s image before talking about a series of seemingly unconnected
“Energy is not required if the phenomenon alteration was done by magic.
Nor is there any sign of physical energy being supplied. Everyone also
believes that there is no ethereal energy within this physical realm that can
be converted into physical energy. Nevertheless, Move-Type and
Acceleration Magic have clearly altered energy values before and after
magic invocation. Based on this, magic is not bound by the conservation of
energy. Through magic, we can plainly see this law being circ.u.mvented.”
“I recall that this is known as one of the greatest paradoxes within modern
“That was the proposition, though the consensus is that the proposition
itself was imperfect.”
Tatsuya darted a quick glance at Shizuku’s expression over the monitor.
Her speech was rather peculiar – almost as if she was stuttering.
Regardless, there was no sign that she was going to fall asleep any time
soon. Given how the light of curiosity danced across her eyes, there was
little chance she would accept an excuse like “Let’s talk about it next
time”. Inebriated individuals were a little stubborn like that. After
considering this, Tatsuya elected to continue.
“You are correct, Shizuku. Superficially, this appears to subvert the law of
conservation of energy. In the first place, the law of conservation of energy
is a deduced law, so it is impossible for physical phenomena to run counter
So long as magic brings about a physical reaction, then at least restricted
within those conditions, the law of conservation of energy should still be
observed. While there may be short periods of time during psion activation
where the law seems to be circ.u.mvented, energy conversation is still
observed when taking the entire process into account post fact. Thus, when
magic brings about a physical phenomenon, then within that event, the law
of conservation of energy should still apply. Of course, the law of
conversation of energy refers to the concept of energy remaining constant
within a closed system. If there’s a record of fluctuating energy levels, then
that must mean there is an observation error or that the system is not a
“Magic has observed that this world is not a closed system…… That
certainly brings to mind string theory from our earlier conversation.”
“I see! So the energy needed for magic is supplied by an alternate
“Recently, we’ve seen a growing number of magic researchers supporting
that theory. I too subscribe to this line of thinking. Working under the
a.s.sumption that string theory is true, then we should consider what it
means if gravity is the only force that can pa.s.s between alternate
dimensions. What I am about to say has no theoretical basis and
approaches pure speculation……”
Miyuki and Shizuku wordlessly watched Tatsuya’s contemplative look.
“It is a possibility that gravity that acts in the alternate dimension is what
supports the dimensional barrier. Under the a.s.sumption that magic breaks
through this barrier, energy might be removed from the alternate
dimension. While it is true that magic is a phenomenon that does not
require energy, that does not guarantee that no energy is involved
whatsoever. Even within observable parameters, there is a tendency for
magic to fail when the total magic output is zero.”
Mystified, Miyuki and Shizuku kept their eyes locked on Tatsuya as he
“Most likely, the Magic Sequence reverses the insufficient energy needed
for phenomena alteration and extracts that insufficient energy from the
alternate dimension. In regard to the physical energy supply that cannot be
observed, then if we a.s.sume that the energy from the alternate dimension
has ethereal qualities, or more simply magical energy, then the law of
conservation of physical energy is observed after the Magic Sequence is
Although they did not completely understand what Tatsuya was saying, the
two young ladies perked up their ears because they felt that his words were
of vital importance to Magicians.
“The other side of the dimensional barrier contains a dimension filled with
magical energy and, in order to prevent this energy from leaking to the
physical dimension, gravity supports the dimensional barrier and prevents
any leakage. However, magic can penetrate this barrier in order to make up
for the deficiency in energy by drawing from magic energy. – My belief is
that this is the system that solves the major paradox to modern magic. On
the other hand, based on the miniature artificial black hole developed
through calculations in string theory, gravity acting on the dimensional
barrier would be wasted by the creation of the black hole. In that case, the
dimensional barrier fluctuates the instant the black hole materializes.”
“The dimensional barrier fluctuates…… What happens then?”
“Magical energy that is beyond the control of Magic Sequences may seep
Divided by the image, Miyuki and Shizuku shared a glance. The high
definition camera and monitor displayed the terror that reflected in their
“Energy spontaneously structures itself and forms an information body. If
not, the universe would have already turned into h.o.m.ogenous nothingness.
Magical energy from an alternate dimension should follow a similar
pattern. The moment the dimensional barrier weakens, the possibility that
magical energy from an alternate dimension invading this world in the
form of information bodies is not zero. At least, that is my perspective.”
On the other side of the monitor, Shizuku’s body was shaking slightly.
On this side, Miyuki latched onto Tatsuya’s arm as if she never wanted to
◊ ◊ ◊
Mikihiko finally showed up in cla.s.s after the second period was over.
“Is it done?”
He wasn’t late.
Today, he was also being cared for in the infirmary.
“Tatsuya…… I hate you.”
Initially, the tone was out of concern, but what came afterwards was a