And Hyouketsu goes back into part releases.
Current part: Part 9 at 5:04 AM PST on July 11, 2014 (COMPLETE)
With those first words from Ishtar, Yuragi widened her eyes in surprise.
……Sorry? For what?
Today was the second day of the conference. They were currently in the Governmental Sector’s waiting room and the assembly in the morning was also on time. The Priestess and General Affairs Bureau Chief were already on standby in the meeting room and the Cadet Guards serving as escorts were also ready in another room.
Everything was going perfectly according to schedule so there shouldn’t be anything to apologize for──
“You’re getting eye bags, you know?”
Ishtar smiled teasingly with a finger against her cheek.
“It seems like Ishtar made you stay up all night searching for something.”
“……Yeah, I thought I’d hidden it well.”
She had fairly heavy foundation around her eyes and the rims of her glasses were perfectly lined up with the darkened parts so it should’ve been hard to notice.
“Putting aside the bags and glasses, it’s really hard on you, Yuragi-chan. You said that your eyes were a little strange last night as well. That they were bloodshot.”
“Yes. So I looked for how to get to the hospital……it took some time to find a doctor that was open late into the night. That’s why it’s not Ishtar-san’s fault.”
“Fu─n, it’d be great if you get better quickly. You already know the way to the hospital?”
“Yes. I was thinking about going tomorrow when there’s no congestion. As planned.”
She put a fingertip to the powdered part of her face and nodded.
……It’s fine if I don’t stress when I talk with this person.
If you just took away the wheedling tone, it gave off the feeling of talking with a competent female secretary.
──It looks like I had you up all night investigating ‘Mikuva’s Crimson Eye‘?
──Yes, it takes a while to find the exact location.
──Do you already know the way?
──We can infiltrate late tomorrow night. As planned.
For ‘Mikuva’s Crimson Eye‘, she inquired about what she diagnosed as bloodshot eyes.
Furthermore, to remove any unnatural aspects, she initially made the corners of her eyes the subject and deftly dropped the keyword ‘red eyes‘ naturally. [T/N: She didn’t say the “keyword” directly in the Japanese either.]
……Quite the tactician.
……It’s becoming more and more clear that her innocent speech pattern is to give others a sense of childishness.
“Did Ymy-sama sleep well yesterday?”
“She woke up once─. She took a walk in the hallway to fix her mood but came back in about thirty minutes. She also got up on her own before Ishtar went to wake her so I think it’s fine?”
Resting her head on one hand propped up on the table, the Cadres Guard was gazing somewhere far into the distance.
“It was a pleasant miscalculation. To have regained your footing that much on your own, I’ve changed my opinion of you.”
“Ahh, nothing, it’s nothing, okay─? It’s just Ishtar talking to herself.”
Waving her hands, she didn’t say anything else.
In front of the meeting room, in the break room for escorts.
“Sheltis, I’ve been wondering for a while but……are those circles under your eyes?”
“Eh. Ah, that’s right.”
Having it gently pointed out by Kagura, Sheltis honestly nodded.
“Did something happen?”
“Well……I couldn’t sleep yesterday and pretty much ended up just doing practice swings with my swords? It’s not really anything major. My body’s not burnt out either.”
It was true that he had done practice swings.
──There’s no way I can sleep after seeing Ymy’s crying face.
She wouldn’t leave his mind even after she returned to her room so since he couldn’t sleep, he decided to just practice until morning.
“But it looks like there’s someone sound asleep over there.”
Sitting in a chair, arms crossed with a complicated expression and eyes closed ── at first glance it might have been someone thinking hard about something but it was just a man sleeping soundly.
“……It’s a big-shot, there’s a big-shot here.”
“Yes. Sheltis should learn from his example.”
Her usual calm expression completely red, the unit leader’s fist was shaking.
“Vaiellllllll, clench your teeth!”
“Ahhn? What’s thi……guhaaa!?”
Monica’s iron fist of anger plunged into Vaiel’s flank without deviation.
“You! Isn’t it unfair if you say to clench my teeth and go for my stomach!?”
“M-my hand just slipped! And you──”
In the break room whose rowdiness had just shot up.
“……I’ll go wash my face. The circles will disappear if I warm my eyes with warm water, right?”
“Take your time. It will be noisy here for a while anyway.”
Leaving a few words to Kagura who was tinkering with the machine pearl <Machina>, Sheltis left the room.
……Tonight, they would secretly assemble in Ymy’s room. It would be a business meeting with Yuragi.
Only a vague and lifeless sense of tension swirled within his heart.
Room 700, ‘Asterhythm‘.
“Departure is late tomorrow night. ……I’d like to pick a time at the latest possible moment so I’ll send you the exact time tomorrow at noon.
Yuragi’s voice echoed in the living room.
There were no wiretaps installed. She had denied that herself and was also keeping her voice down for the off-chance there were.
“The ones carrying it out are you and I.”
Feeling her gaze through the glasses, Sheltis expressed agreement.
“Ymy-sama as well, do we have your consent?”
“……I chose him. Since I heard there was a skilled Cadet Guard from the Cadet Guard Instructor, Yumelda.”
Ymy indifferently spun together the absolute minimum of words required.
“Monica has the role of an older sister that looks after everyone. In truth, the one pulling up the unit’s level is a single dual swords user. It’s a boy with a long history of training……if it’s just about battle ability, he alone could defeat the opposing unit in the final selections.”
The final selections for mission 16, ‘Expedition to the Governmental Sector‘.
Monica’s unit and Nash’s unit ── this was something from when Yumelda had brought the examiner, I’sa, along to make an advance report before the two units battled. Without the exchange at this time, it would still be unnatural for a priestess like Ymy to recommend a mere newcomer Cadet Guard like Sheltis.
……Usually she just orders me alone to do harsh training.
……All of this is thanks to Instructor Yumelda, huh.
He inwardly breathed a sigh of relief.
“He received a high appraisal from the Instructor, so I’m recommending him for the mission this time.”
“Understood. ──Then let’s continue. First, about the defense allotted to the meeting at noon, I’d like to continue it. It would be unnatural if the General Affairs Bureau Chief’s guard were to decrease in number and above all, we would lose everything if an emergency situation were to occur at that time. ……This next part is important.”
Yuragi’s fingers went into her breast pocket.
Without skipping a beat, she drew out a silver card key.
“When you entered the Governmental Sector’s governmental office building, I believe each of you received an authentication card.”
“……The one we were lent when we entered and had to return when we left yesterday and today, right?”
“Yes. These electronic card keys show when you ‘enter‘ and ‘leave‘ the lobby.”
Guards’ badges were also used as an electromagnetic card and those Guards could be traced to wherever they went as long as they were carrying it. It was basically a surveillance system like that.
“After the meeting, the three members of Monica-sama’s unit will take their card keys and pass the lobby to ‘leave‘ but Sheltis-sama will stay within the Governmental Sector’s office building.”
“……Huh, but wait. Won’t my card key be left like that?”
Only three of the escorts’ card keys would be returned. It would become suspicious if the one in charge of recovering them were to notice.
“Yes. That’s why, Sheltis-sama, please secretly hand me your card key when the meeting ends. I’ll pass through the gate with Sheltis-sama’s and my own card key. Like that, ‘you left the Governmental Sector according to the electronic surveillance system but are actually still in the Governmental Sector’ will become the situation.”
“Oh─, I get it. It’s something we can do because we have an insider like Yuragi-san. The procedure is simple but I don’t think the electronic surveillance system will discover it.”
“To tell the truth, this is something that Governmental Sector staff do. If it seems like one will be late to work or one wants to go back at a certain time no matter what, that person will entrust it to a friend.”
“After that is……a place to hide?”
Even if he stayed around in the Governmental Sector, there was a lapse of ten hours to the time of the operation. If he didn’t hide somewhere, it would be a pain if somebody found him.
“That’s right, I’ve concluded that you should be fine hiding in the men’s restroom. Hang up an ‘Out of Order‘ sign and hide inside, please.”
“……I have a bad feeling.”
In so saying, Yuragi made a mature smile and,
“This is also information. From my point of view, it would be easier if you were to hide in the women’s restroom.”
“Sheltis? The women’s restroom is the holy grounds of women. No matter the reason──”
“That’s no good, you know?”
“……I haven’t even said anything.”
Being glared at by machine crystal <Ilis> and Ymy, Sheltis sighed reluctantly.
“……I’ll wait patiently in the men’s restroom.”
“Then the plan is decided. After that is clothing. Until you reach your destination, you should be able to pass yourself off as ‘a colleague of Yuragi‘ so please choose something other than Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>’s formal wear. Do you have anything?”
When she asked that, he immediately thought of his usual black jacket.
“Umm, if it’s something that won’t be thought of as formal wear, then somewhat.”
“That will be fine. Please get changed while in the men’s restroom. I’ll hold onto your formal wear after you change.”
In other words, there were no preparations to be made beforehand.
It would be fine if he just waited until the end of tomorrow’s meeting.
“That’s all I have to say. Any questions?”
“Ah, just one. It’s not related to the mission but I felt like I had to ask.”
While looking around the living room.
“The Cadres Guard isn’t here but has this conversation already been relayed to her?”
“I will inform Ishtar-sama afterwards. She knows the contents of the mission but she has not been told that you are the one that shall be carrying it out. ……She should be waiting for me at the intersection outside this room.”
Audibility was not limited to this room. Her role was to divert anybody about to come close to the room.
“I see, then that’s all I had to ask.”
“Then I’ll be counting on you for tomorrow. That will be all for today.”
The female secretary closed her memo book.
With that as a signal, the Priestess in her vestments was the first to stand up.
“Umm……I don’t think I’ll get a chance other than now to say it, so I will.”
Her jade green eyes wavered with unease.
She gulped and then.
“Make sure you come back. Nobody will blame you even if you fail……so come back safely.”
Replying with his outstretched right hand, Sheltis left the Priestess’ room.
He passed the door and entered the hallway. Walking straight down the hallway with a thin carpet, he finally came upon the intersection that led to other guest rooms.
“Ah, are you fiiinished?”
In the middle of the intersection, a female Guard stood still with a metal spear in hand.
Her strangely colored clothing that was bound with belts in various places made her silhouette that stood out against the light seem even thinner ── no, it looked sharpened.
“Yes, it’s fine if you return to the room now. The Priestess-sama is also waiting.”
“Is that sooo? Ah─ that’s great! It feels meritless to be standing guard in a hallway with thi─s few people. Ishtar was so unoccupied, she felt like she’d fall asleep.”
Faa, she yawned loudly.
……It looks like I can safely avoid making unnecessary conversation.
With just a small greeting, he tried to pass by her.
“The only one I had to send back was Monica-san.”
He should have just ignored her and continued on.
He should’ve known that in his head but his feet had stopped and he’d turned around before he even realized.
“I think that was about thirty minutes ago? Monica-san looked pretty serious asking, have you seen a member of my unit, Sheltis? Well, thanks to that, Ishtar also realized ‘Ah─, so that’s who Ymy-sama chose‘.”
“I just told her the necessary part. There’s a special mission being given to him so he’s in the middle of a conversation in the Priestess’ room, is what I told her. Really, it was just the part that wouldn’t be a hindrance.”
A large smile.
There was just a tiny bit of thorniness to that expression.
“You covered for Monica and took on the job yourself. I didn’t say a〰ny such thing so don’t worry, okay? Monica-san wouldn’t be able to remain calm if I said that.”
What she just smoothly told him was something that couldn’t be conceived without knowing that he was better than Monica at stealthy activities.
……As I thought, has she realized my identity?
“Shall I reveal the source of the trick? I’sa-chan said it.”
Ishtar moved one step closer.
“A dual swords user who’s as cheeky as he is strong. That there’s a guy who’s not so strong he makes you want to run away, he’s so strong that he makes you not want to lose. If I’sa-chan goes that far in saying it, you have enough ability to cover for Monica-san and take her place. It’s natural to think like that, isn’t it?”
……What I’sa said to her as the basis.
……So does that mean she hasn’t discovered my identity yet?
“But you’re really silent. Are you nervous? Or are you thinking about something?”
She smiled with a finger against her lips.
“Well, it’s fine whichever it is. Ishtar doesn’t mind after all─. Ishtar doesn’t have any interest in it. Not in any of the other Guards or the Priestess-sama.”
“See ya─, I’ll leave Monica-san up to you.”
Waving her hand with a cheery expression, she left in a manner that looked full of openings at first glance.
……Not a single thing has changed since four years ago.
“Well then, boy, why don’t you try asking by force?”
Not a single thing had changed since that time.
She still hadn’t become a Sennenshi and she still had no interest in the Priestesses. She didn’t hold any interest in whether the Elite Guards around her became Sennenshi or even if they were to retire.
“Are you thinking about something?”
“……No, let’s go.”
It happened at the same time machine crystal <Ilis> agreed. As Sheltis was about to take the first step, the silhouette of a person appeared from a corner of the intersection.
It was a girl with her eyes wide-open, her sakura-colored hair fluttering.
“Ah, hey, Monica──”
“It’s fine if you don’t say it. Just listen……I’ll even want to stop thinking about hitting you.”
Her slender shoulders shook a little at a time.
She bit down on the edge of her lip and also breathed deeply to remain calm ── that painfully conveyed it to him directly.
“I heard about your mission from Cadres Guard Ishtar. I don’t have the right to ask what kind of mission it is but…………truthfully, I’m against it. I think it’s a given that you’d be chosen based on ability. But you’re my……important……important……”
He clearly heard her gulp.
“Member of……my unit, and I won’t let you go on a mission I don’t even know the reason for, even if it’s an order from the Cadres Guard. ……Because that’s how it is, right? If I can’t even be informed of what the mission entails, it’s the same as saying that it’s dangerous.”
Her intuition was correct. That’s why Ishtar didn’t beat around with half-baked lies and had no choice but to tell the truth.
“No, it’s not like my opposition means anything. Anything a Cadet Guard like me says would just be overruled……”
A lifeless smile appeared on the unit leader’s face.
“So come back safely, regardless of whether the mission succeeds or fails. That’s all I wanted to say as the unit’s leader. The scolding will come after that.”
“……Don’t worry. I’ll return in the early morning.”
I don’t have any intention of being beaten by a mission or two like this.
To begin with, ‘Mikuva’s Crimson Eye‘ is just a means to an end. The goal is still to find the objective behind the Yuugenshu breeding water tank and to stop the person behind it, which is why we came as far as the Governmental Sector.
“Well then, let’s go back. Our paths are the same for a while anyway.”
Pushing on Monica who had an awkward expression, Sheltis started to walk again.
The third day of the conference.
“Jeez, now Monica has circles under her eyes?”
Same as yesterday, Kagura’s sigh pierced through the break room’s silence.
“……I tried to hide it though.”
“Just the area around your eyes is caked in foundation. It’s easy to understand that you’re hiding something around your eyes. Please practice using cosmetics a little……ah─ah, this is so thickly coated. Come on, stay still.”
Kagura took out powder from a travel-use cosmetics kit. While she was applying that to the area around Monica’s eyes, her hand stopped.
“Yesterday was Sheltis and today Monica has circles under her eyes? Surely you two aren’t having clandestine meetings every night, are you?”
“I was just thinking about escorting matters and couldn’t sleep.”
Monica closed her eyes with a glum face.
“Rather than that……I’m happy that you’re fixing my make-up, but I’d rather it be at a different place.”
“Nobody will come.”
“No, I mean here is……”
Her cheeks went red with embarrassment.
“……It really is kinda of embarrassing in front of guys.”
“It’s fine. Showing these kinds of openings every little while is also a technique.”
“It doesn’t matter what a woman with no appeal does.”
With that sentence from Vaiel who was reclining in a chair, both of the ladies’ eyebrows rose.
“Ah─ you said it! Then please look. Come on, Monica, stay still and we’ll show that blockhead my high-class techniques──”
“Y-you idiot, Kagura! Stop, don’t use my face as an experiment!”
The unit leader fratically stopped Kagura who pulled out strange small tools.
“It’s amazing, isn’t it.”
“She has strength.”
“Monica probably spent the entire night thinking about you. She’s a kind person; I understand why Ymy calls her senpai and is emotionally attached to her.”
“……I’ll do my best not to worry her.”
Looking up vacantly at the ceiling, Sheltis’ unfocused eyes wandered.
──It’s almost noon.
The meeting is scheduled to end at five in the evening. At the same time, I start with meeting up with Yuragi and handing her my card key. Then I slip away and hide myself.
……After five hours.
He had polished and replayed the same image in his head countless times. Even though what he had to do itself was simple, he couldn’t settle himself no matter how many times he repeated it.
Ten at night.
The Governmental Sector’s surveillance system obtained the number of people remaining in the office building by doing a simultaneous scan for all electronic card keys. Buildings with nobody left in them had their lights turned off. At the same time, areas with nobody in them had passages set in them so that non-staff members could not pass through.
……With this, the first issue is cleared.
Masking his breathing in a stall in the men’s bathroom, he had been doing deep breathing for several hours.
The area he was hiding had its lights turned off all at once. In other words, it served as proof that an outsider like Sheltis had been recognized by the surveillance system to have ‘left the building‘.
“It looks like Yuragi-san did her part.”
“……Now we just have to wait.”
He was biding time.
Whether one or many areas had their lights turned off, until infiltration became easy.
“……Ilis, I think it’s fine if we talk a little now.”
“In a low voice, sure. If we’re too loud and get found, all our hard work up until now will come to nothing.”
Restraining his voice to the limit, Sheltis continued on in what was pretty much talking to himself.
“……There was something I changed my mind about yesterday.”
“Are you nervous about the infiltration that’ll be happening right now or something?”
No ── Sheltis wordlessly shook his head at machine crystal <Ilis> who was shaking at his chest.
“See, I was glad that Ymy and I could come here together for this mission but……maybe I shouldn’t be happy with that kind of thing.”
“……Because your goal lies further ahead of that. Being together on a mission is a nice point of contact but it would be bad to be satisfied with that?”
“That’s what I think.”
The impetus was last night. When Ymy came to him with a request. He was happy that she’d come to consult him. Certainly, he had thought that the day before yesterday, but that was wrong.
“It really was wrong of me to make Ymy cry back then.”
Maybe if he wasn’t a Cadet Guard, but a Sennenshi.
Maybe if he was……not cursed with a mateki-ridden body, he should have been closer to her than anyone and comforted her before she had come to worry that much.
“You’re starting anew to become Ymy’s Sennenshi. Don’t forget your initial resolution.”
“Right……sorry, that’s all I wanted to say.”
The curtain of silence once again descended──
How much time has passed since then?
It’s easily close to ten hours since the meeting.
When the feeling of waiting ceased to be a feeling and his sense of time froze.
In the unlit men’s restroom, the sound of high heels that shouldn’t have been present rang out.
“It’s Yuragi. Sorry to keep you waiting.”
“……I’m a little tired; it’s the first time I’ve ever holed up at a toilet so long.”
He saw a woman he recognized through the open door.
“Everything’s an experience.”
Wearing a business smile, the secretary turned around.
“Our destination is building four, section 31, where we’ll sneak into the underground with an elevator on the eastern end. By the way, our current location is building two, section 61. It’s a long way from building two to building four……let’s get walking?”
“It’s fine even if it takes time, so please use a safe route.”
“Of course. I also wish to avoid the surveillance cameras to the best of my ability so please follow me exactly as if tracing my footsteps.”
Oozing resolve from behind her glasses, Yuragi started walking. Sheltis followed after her with his breathing suppressed.
Footsteps echoed in the corridor. Sometimes they would pass through large meeting halls and sometimes they would use the emergency stairs.
……It’s more complicated than a real labyrinth.
……Rather than the security system or security workers, this is the best defense system.
I should memorize the route as much as possible. Realizing just how naive that notion was, Sheltis inwardly clicked his tongue.
Yuragi, who was continuing on ahead wordlessly, came to a stop just before reaching the intersection.
“You’ve been peeking backwards since a little while, so are you wary of being followed?”
“No. You’re not the one catching my interest.”
The woman turned around with a rare bitter smile.
“Your footsteps are so quiet that it makes me uneasy……even though I came here with boots that have low sound output, I’ve only been able to hear my own footsteps for a while.”
“This is also part of an escort’s job. It would bother the protege if the escort’s footsteps were too loud, right?”
“Ah, that’s my line.”
“Because─, if Ilis doesn’t talk about something, it feels like she might die of boredom.”
“I’ll remember that. But please try to refrain from talking.”
She cleared away the wry smile on her face. Just when he thought she was going to start walking, she pulled out the card key in her breast pocket.
“There is a door just ahead of this intersection that serves as the connection to building four. It is a combination of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>’s Mechanical Bureau and Shinryoku Theory Bureau which analyzes the Priestesses’ shinryoku information……you could say this building itself is a research organization. The other buildings take precedence over it publicly but it likely trumps the other three buildings combined in terms of classified information.”
A steel mechanical door was illuminated by a green emergency light. It was massive and solemn. Without Yuragi’s explanation, it would give off the overwhelming pressure of the entrance to a jail.
──IC level check……’Second class‘──
──Unlocking the gate. Please enter within twenty seconds.──
In response to the card key that Yuragi held out, the door’s central portion lit up. Just like the sea splitting apart, the tightly shut mechanical door began opening to the sides.
“This is section 1 and section 31 is further in.”
“Can I ask you one thing? I don’t think section 31 was on the map we received in the lobby.”
“It is as you surmised. I’ll explain as we walk.”
Just as her words indicated, she walked not too slowly and not too quickly.
“It’s a ‘stray section‘ that shouldn’t exist. There are many areas in this building called that by the staff that work here. On the map, it looks like there was simply a planning error resulting in a blank space or it’s just a garbage collection area……amongst them is a room that contains secrets of the highest confidentiality which regular staff can never come to know of.”
“And that’s section 31 in this building?”
“Yes. As for how many of them are in each building, probably only the elder of the senate knows everything. I don’t know anything except the count.”
They walked straight north and more north.
They mindlessly continued down the empty corridor devoid of sounds and people.
“It’s a little late but I must confess that it was unexpected.”
He thought about the implied meaning in her words a little and──
“That I came along and not Monica?”
“Yes. I thought it would be Monica-sama and bet a lunch on it……but it’s a pity. I lost to Ishtar-sama.”
“……Does that mean”
“Yes. Ishtar-sama bet that it would fall to you yesterday. She also added that Ymy-sama would select you herself. Pardon me, but are you an acquaintance of Ishtar-sama’s?”
“……I shouldn’t be.”
“Is that so……it’s nothing, I was just a little curious.”
A little childishness showed through in her smile.
However, that smile was also wiped away in an instant and she suddenly came to a stop ahead of him.
What stopped her was ── a giant door lit with emergency lights.
“It’s an emergency exit.”
“Would this kind of suspicious authentication device <reader> be on a normal emergency exit?”
Poking out on the side of the door was a box-shaped device.
“Please imagine a revolving door. Without a password, it’s just an ordinary emergency exit but only when authenticated with a special staff member’s authority, it will connect to the elevator within.”
──IC level check……’Second class‘──
──Unlocking the gate. Please enter within twenty seconds.──
From behind the door came the sound of a large motor. With a little rumbling underfoot, The sound of two things joining together roared out.
“Fuu. Now then, Sheltis-sama.”
Looking fixedly at her card key, she pushed it against his chest.
“Please take this.”
“……But this is Yuragi-san’s card key.”
“The elevator ahead of here is for a single person only. Furthermore, you must have a staff member’s authority to move it ── that is to say, you require the authority that my card key possesses.”
She bowed with a smile.
That lonesome gesture conveyed everything. She would only come this far.
“This is as far as I can guide you. Please make sure to return my card key, okay?”
He held fast to the card key given to him.
Turning his back on Yuragi who still had her head bowed deeply, Sheltis walked on.
──She was staring up at the night sky.
The night celestial sphere could be seen through the dome made of glass. She wasn’t looking at the stars or the moon and was just in the mood to aimlessly stare at the sky to put everything out of her mind.
……It should be right around now.
……Sheltis should be infiltrating the Governmental Sector around now.
“Ymy-sama is romanticist, huh─. Have you come to like this room?”
A voice that was casual and sweet no matter the place.
Coaxing? No, it’s like the kind a mother uses to placate a child……it’s that kind of voice.
“Ishtar-san, do you not like the starry sky?”
“Mm〰, I don’t hate it but I don’t think about wanting to look at it forever. I’d rather see I’sa-chan than stars and if I can’t have that, then I’d choose to train.”
Ishtar was holding a towel that was a little wet. Ymy thought she had gone to the bathroom but not even a few minutes had passed before she returned. Her clothes were the same formal wear as well.
……Come to think of it, it’s been the same for three days.
“You’re fast at taking a bath.”
“I always take a quick bath─. Ah, but I haven’t really taken a bath in a few days? I’ve just been wiping myself with a wet towel.”
That was the first she’d heard of that. She had thought she was at least taking a quick shower.
“……Are you also holding back on taking a bath?”
“Until we get back to Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>. We don’t know when an enemy might attack.”
“You haven’t been sleeping enough since we came here either.”
“Yes, that’s why I’m looking forward to going back home─. I want to roll around in bed.”
……She’ll go that far to guard me?
……Even though she’s not a Sennenshi, and even though she only came along specially for this regardless of her will.
“Is it strange? Well, if I had to say the truth, it can’t be helped that guarding’s a pain. Umm, that’s not specifically directed at Ymy-sama or anything, okay? I don’t want to act out the role of a Sennenshi. That’s why I remain as an Elite Guard.”
Rather than shocked, she was more surprised.
“In that case, you didn’t have to accept being my escort……”
If it was a mission on the level of guarding a Priestess, not even an Elite Guard could refuse. But they could be exempted if they had prior business and there was even more assuredness if they were to claim to be in bad condition. A Guard of Ishtar’s level should also know that.
“This time is special. Ishtar also has an ulterior motive.”
She rested a tuft of her hair in her palm.
“I have a goal. If I didn’t escort Ymy-sama like this, I wouldn’t have a chance to come to the Governmental Sector. Well, in reality, even if Ishtar comes to the Governmental Sector, the chances of her goal being conveniently accomplished are low.”
“It’s, a, secret. This is something Ishtar’s even keeping secret from I’sa-chan, so it’s also a secret to Ymy-sama. ……Ah, but there’s another reason that Ishtar’s doing a relatively firm job of guarding Ymy-sama.”
“I’m understanding this less and less.”
The inside of her head seemed to have become mixed up so Ymy made no efforts to hide a frown.
“Umm……so the truth is you didn’t want to guard a Priestess but Ishtar-san, you had an ulterior motive that motivated you to come here to the Governmental Sector? But the reason that you’re looking after me so well is……for a different reason?’
“That’s it─. If Ymy-sama goes to sleep obediently, then I guess I’ll talk about it?”
Shiver. With it pointed out so accurately, she took a step backwards without thinking.
“She was busy thinking about Sheltis who had headed to the Governmental Sector and couldn’t sleep. That took no small amount of mind reading. Really, this Elite Guard is discerning in everything.
“……I get it. I’ll do my best to sleep.”
That’s why I want to know. Why is someone who so openly states that guarding a Priestess is a pain guarding me so attentively like this?
“It’s for distinction.”
Unexpected words leaked out from the Cadres Guard’s lips.
“Are the Priestess-samas satisfied with the Guards in the tower right now?”
“Ishtar isn’t satisfied at all. I’sa-chan who just became a Regular Guard is out of the question. Everyone else is weak, too weak. I’ve thought the same thing for many years……but just a little, there were also kids amongst them that stood out. Like Holn-chan or Leon-kun.” [T/N: That’s ホルン which is pretty much how you say “horn”. Holn look more like a name though.]
The third Sennenshi, Mechanically Armored Soldier <Ex Machina> Holn Nova.
The fifth Sennenshi, Great Sword User Leon Nestrius Ohva.
The names she had just given had both already become Sennenshi.
“Ishtar knew one more that was better than or at least on par with those two. There was a disparity between his strength and emotions but it was a child that would have become a Sennenshi within a few years.”
Who would that be? Who is the Guard that could rival those two that she’s talking about?
“The reason Ishtar is properly guarding Ymy-sama is in deference to that child with a little bit of a feeling of atonement. Because I pushed something troublesome onto him.”
The person that she had pushed something troublesome onto. Is her guarding me sincerely connected with atonement to that person?
……That would mean.
……With that manner of speaking, the one that comes to mind is───
“Ishtar-san, what are you thinking?”
“You’ll come to understand. You’ll also come to know Ishtar’s goal when the time comes.”
She turned around.
Her side profile was coldly sharpened to the point that Ymy’s spine froze up.
The Holy Hall.
It was a giant room and corridor.
If you looked, the stone floor to the point that you could see each individual strand of hair reflected in it. There were numerous large lights on the ceiling that filled the room with a blinding amount of light.
“……Now then, what’s gonna come out?”
“What would you do if it was a cute girl?”
“No way. On the contrary, if someone like that came out here, it would actually be weird……ah, but maybe.”
“So a girl really would be good?”
“If it’s one that I can talk to.”
Biting his lips shut, he leered at the light-filled passage ahead.
Examining the surroundings for presences, he continued on step by step.
“Hey, Sheltis, what do you mean by talk to? With somebody from the Governmental Sector? Having come this far?”
“……There’s what we talked about Yuragi-san just before. About Ymy.”
That Ymy relied on herself and entrusted the ‘Mikuva’s Crimson Eye‘ to him.
“When we reach Mikuva’s Crimson Eye, the mystery from that time we went with Leon to the floating archipelago <Lagoon> will be solved too, right?”
“Most likely. The outline of the Governmental Sector’s plans as well.”
“Can we investigate things outside of the Governmental Sector too?”
“What do you mean?”
“……No, sorry. I just wanted to try asking.”
Within his swirl of thoughts, there was one suspicion that was continued to be lodged and wouldn’t flow.
“Last night, I thought about something while talking with Ymy. How to put it……is this really the work of the Governmental Sector?”
With him assuming the position of Ymy’s consultant, he felt a calm that wasn’t there until then and was able to sort out the information related to this case.
The floating archipelago <Lagoon> that lay on the boundary of the areas under the Governmental Sector’s surveillance. The research facility and Yuugenshu that were there.
“I also understand that it’s clear that the Governmental Sector is suspicious. I think the chances of that are still over ninety percent.”
“What about the remaining ten percent?”
“……I don’t know. But I wonder what it is. Maybe it’s the Governmental Sector’s attitude. For the meeting, why did they have the confidence to call us all the way here to their territory?”
The Governmental Sector had confidence. That might be the confidence that even with the conference, they could manage to hide it or maybe there was some other plan.
……It’s just that if that’s true.
The identity of that golden spellcaster, Maha, might become more of a mystery.
“In response to your earlier question, if you specify the time and place, it is possible to search the ‘Crimson Eye‘. I think the chances of it displaying nothing are high though.”
“I got it, thanks.”
At any rate, just continue on. If he didn’t find the all-important item, then all the hard work to arrive here would come to nothing. ……Above all else, he would have failed Ymy.
“Since there are no other paths to take. Whether it’s a trap or anything else, we have to keep going.”
The ten metre-wide hall stretched on endlessly.
Along the sides of the corridor were countless stone pillars with arches at the top that supported the ceiling. The design was highly reminiscent of a temple or something similar.
……This large size is curious.
There might be several hundred metres in a straight line. He had snuck in quite deep since separating from Yuragi at the elevator but it was just like having a giant underground cave.
“Ilis, it’s a little late to ask but are there any security devices?”
“Not as far as I saw. It’s an area known only to a handful of Governmental Sector insiders so there might not be any so as to not leave behind visual data.”
“I see, well that makes sense.”
It was a place called the Holy Hall. To protect their secrets, they couldn’t set any security devices precisely because this place was so important. It was difficult to get here but after reaching the Holy Hall, all they had to do was proceed.
It had been several minutes of walking while surveying the surroundings.
Before his eyes, a solemn and shiny door crafted with brass and silver could be seen.
“It doesn’t seem to require anything like a key.”
“Roger. It looks like a regular door that opens to the sides so I can open it…………”
His breathing caught before he decided that in his mind.
A heavy pressure that overwhelmed others just by being there. It was somebody with an absolute existence that he’d felt only a few times even in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
……It’s the same one as that time.
On the first day of the conference, the presence that had enveloped the entire of the Governmental Sector’s office building.
“Ilis, construct the swords.”
He ordered machine crystal <Ilis> to construct the dual swords and did nothing but stare ahead. Towards the direction that he could most feel the crushing pressure from.
“An intruder……hasn’t it been a long time?”
The large figure of a person appeared from the stone pillar ahead and to the right without a sound.
No, that wasn’t the figure of a person ── it was a fully metallic mace longer than an adult. The cylindrical handle was thicker than a grown man’s arm and the cylindrical pommel atop it was such that it was debatable whether Sheltis could wrap his arms around it. He couldn’t imagine how much it weighed altogether.
“Surely there’s no way you don’t know of the treasure that lies ahead of here? If so……”
A defective product way too large for a person to use.
He was carrying that easily with one hand.
“From here on is the inviolable, absolute Holy Hall. As the ‘number one‘ of the secret military force ‘Heaven’s Wheel‘ tasked with guarding the Holy Hall, Zeadoll, I shall eliminate you ── overcome me with your magnificent skills.”
He was a large man that towered over Sheltis.
The gray longcoat worn over a thin black overshirt could not hide the man’s muscles which could be seen swelling within.
His scorched-earth-colored hair was cut short and bristled up and his grey eyes forcefully conveyed his gallantry.
……He’s the Holy Hall’s guardian.
He could feel the cold sweat traveling down his cheek.
The secret military force ‘Heaven’s Wheel‘, an executive unit of the Governmental Sector’s. ……I knew they’d have a secret military unit like this. It was something I had a vague image of. In case Golden <Maha> was part of the Governmental Sector, I made the resolution to fight with whatever unit he would belong to.
……Maybe I should be happy that Maha’s not here?
It was easy to imagine his battle form. Without technique, schemes or traps, he would just use the premieval method of pulverizing his opponent with his own power. Moreover, Sheltis was also bad at planning.
Now then, what to do.
First, he would ascertain Zeadoll’s movements and then move to counterattack──
But the guardian made no indications of attacking whatsoever. On the contrary, he was casting a questioning look over with expectant eyes.
“…………It’s your move.”
“State your name.”
He swung his extremely heavy mace around and lined it up with Sheltis’ line of sight.
“Although I have named myself, it would be lacking in manners. Name yourself.”
“You idiot, why did you say your real name?”
His voice came out without thinking in response to Ilis’ reprimand. If that man knew the names of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>’s Guards, then he would know his goal and his background. However──
“I see, so Sheltis. For having the ability to infiltrate up to this Holy Hall, first allow me to praise you admirably.”
……Did he ask for my name just to say that?”
“Furthermore, you have seen through my strength and naturally readied your swords. That is also praiseworthy.”
“……Haa, why thanks.”
Zeadoll’s bellow shook the atmosphere throughout the entirety of the Holy Hall.
“This Holy Hall is absolute holy territory with me here. Not a single intruder has permitted to date. That’s why, Sheltis ── overcome me with your magnificent skills. If you take even one step past this border, I will stay silent and overlook you.”
“……Is that okay?”
“I swear on my honor. I have never deceived an enemy within my lifetime.”
Looking at his eyes, it was clear that he was not lying.
This man had the full intention of allowing him to go to ‘Mikuva’s Crimson Eye‘ if he acknowledged his loss. That was because he knew that the adversity of not being allowed to lose would cause further growth for himself.
……Sheesh, his calculations are completely messed up.
……It’s the type I’m worst with.
Feeling the man’s intimidating air, Sheltis let out an honest wry smile.
“This is troubling……it would’ve been a lot easier with some crafty type. It’s unexpected that someone like you would be in the Governmental Sector.”
“Fumu. But your eyes don’t seem to be saying that?”
“There is no deceit within those eyes. Judging from your dignity and conviction, you came to the Holy Hall prepared for a confrontation with me, did you not? The way you act says so.”
They were words that shook the air.
Wordlessly taking them on ── the corners of Sheltis’ lips raised. It wasn’t the wry smile from before but the childlike smile that he showed to those he knew in Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
……Despite saying how hard it is.
“I’m not good with those kinds of stances.”
“Is that so?”
“Jeez……like this, Maha would’ve been better. Enough that I wish he’d switch with you.”
But there was no reaction to Maha’s name.
……Is it a principal of not speaking to allies? It would be a given with this man’s personality.
“Fumu. Then let’s start.”
The instant he prepared his swords again.
A storm and rumble in the ground shook the sanctuary at the same time.
A heavy pressure seemed to be weighing on the back of his head. A chill down his spine stiffened him up to his fingertips.
He crouched low enough to skim the ground. An instant after that. With the force of a cannonball, the silver mace stormed through the area directly above his head. That force passed by Sheltis and went towards the stone pillar behind him without stopping.
The towering stone pillar had been reduced to countless fragments by a single hit from the mace. And it was done as easily as putting a spoon into pudding.
“An admirable reaction.”
The treasure guardian pulled out the mace planted into the stone pillar. Just a moment ago, he should’ve been ten metres ahead but now he was standing leisurely ten metres to the rear.
Looking at the rubble of the stone pillar, the destructive power made him gulp.
……So this is why there are no surveillance cameras.
He already had the unrestrained large-scale destruction force and bizarre mobility to be called a weapon. Even if someone tried to take a picture of him obliterating the enemy, the dust that would show up on the camera would make it completely meaningless.
By the time that voice reached him, the guardian wasn’t at that place anymore.
Stomp ── a gale stirred up at his feet and Zeadoll’s giant body had already moved to right in front of him. A normal person would have undoubtedly gotten the mistaken impression that he had warped.
Machine crystal <Ilis> let out a warning.
……I can’t stop it with the dual swords.
It was like stopping a cannonball with a knife. It wouldn’t even deflect.
The mace was swung down with a roar. He calculated the path it would take and shifted over by half a step, moving in towards Zeadoll.
The guardian’s eyes widened slightly.
The center of the swirling gust that the mace had stirred up ── it could even be called the eye of the hurricane, the place closest to Zeadoll was a safe zone. Only the dual blades made unilateral sense.
Phew. Breathing out, he gathered strength into the grip on his two swords without a break.
The target is the tip of the chin.
It would deliver a shock to the spine if struck horizontally with the tip of the sword and paralyze the brain’s nervous system control. It was a strike that would cause a person to faint no matter what.
Matching with the mace’s downswing, he swung his sword up to counter. Perfect timing, it can’t be dodged. With that assuredness, he would strike the tip of the chin with the back of his sword. At the same time──
With a dull sound, the dual swords forged with Hyouketsu crystals was deflected.
It wasn’t the sensation of a human body. The chin’s bone? No, that’s not it; it was heavier and more solid, a tough metal. Like a giant lump of steel or an even greater impact.
“There are no openings in my Sanctuary Arts.”
With spear-like vigor, Zeadoll swung down his left elbow.
The strike that should’ve defeated him had been meaningless. The momentary opening that surprise caused wasn’t overlooked and he felt the guardian’s counterattack sink into his flank.
He barely defended with his left elbow.
Crunch. His face distorting from the impact he felt from his bones, he still looked up. The guardian closed the gap with flowing movements and swung the mace sideways in succession.
Pressing on his numb left elbow with his right hand, he jumped up.
Watching the cylinder at the end of the mace, Sheltis stepped on the back of the cylinder. Landing sideways on the curved cylinder, he then flew up tracing a triangle until just about grazing the ceiling.
……Did he say Sanctuary Arts?
……As long as I don’t know how he did that defense earlier, I’ll have to start with getting rid of his attack options.
He would cut that mace with his swords.
When Zeadoll stopped moving after a miss, he would focus on the thinnest part of that mace. Accelerating through free fall, he swung the sword in his right hand with all his might──
“I’ll take it.”
Seeing that, Zeadoll’s smile deepened.
Would he pull back the mace or swing it up? It wasn’t either of those two options that Sheltis expected ── the treasure guardian swung up his own bare hand.
“His own arm!?”
His sword’s momentum wouldn’t stop. The blade of Hyouketsu crystals would cleave that trained right arm. That bloody image flitted through the back of his mind.
A sound without literary equivalent echoed through the Holy Hall.
Just like a crystal handbell would make, it was a cold and high-pitched sound.
He descended silently with his dual blades in hand and this time Sheltis was truly without words. There was no issue with the swords’ blades. Not a single……not one drop of the blood that should have been clinging to it was there.
The swords that he’d swung down with all his strength had been completely stopped by the point of the man’s elbow.
Staring at the torn part of his coat near his elbow, Zeadoll put a finger to it. His brown arm was showing from the gap in the coat’s fibres. It was just slightly but something red was oozing.
“You broke through my defense with a small sword like that……?”
He furrowed his brows at the unexpected words.
This was the second time. The feeling transmitted through his swords was solid and it was not a defense that could be pulled off using the hardness of muscle or bone. Something more firm……diamond? No, stronger than that. Something close to the solidity of Hyouketsu crystals.
And then there were the words he used to describe his arts.
“Manifesting the properties of shinryoku in a tangible form is of the Worship line of spells.”
“……The same style as Monica, huh.”
Monica applied a coating of silvery-white crystals infused with shinryoku to her crossed rods <Rosario> and used that to fight.
This man was likely of that type. The difference was ── as opposed to Monica who manifested it as silvery-white, he hadn’t manifested the shinryoku as a special material.
“Then is it a conceptual materialization?”
“Hoh, so you know of my Sanctuary Arts.”
With an affirmation made with admiration, Zeadoll narrowed his eyes to needles.
Imagining and manifesting the shinryoku was the same as with Monica. The difference was in how it was done. Instead of imagining something concrete, this man was likely manifesting shinryoku with a vague concept like ‘something hard and firm that’s also colorless and transparent‘.
“……It’s the first time I’ve seen something like it aside from the Hyouketsu Kyoukai; so it really exists.”
“I would think so. It’s an extremely high-level technique.”
The primary example of conceptual materialization was actually the Hyouketsu Kyoukai created by the five Priestesses.
Whatever the concrete image used was a private matter of the Priestesses’ but the manifestation of ‘Hyouketsu crystals‘ into the world was also an application of conceptual materialization.
“Casters that apply this to battle are exceedingly rare so I’ve only seen two others in the past myself. To begin with, it’s not a spell that can be used by just anybody.”
In Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, only somebody on the level of the Priestesses could use it and none of the Guards could. So to speak, while it was a technique that was forgotten, it was still being passed down here in the Governmental Sector.
“A secret art passed down to the protector of the sanctuary.”
“Indeed. However, the successive generations of guardians were too dependent on this ability and neglected to train. ……You understand what that means, do you not?”
He held the mace that exceeded his own body weight with one hand. Holding its tip in his direction, the current generation’s guardian declared as if in song.
“That technique’s just an extra?”
Jumping lightly from that spot, he flew over the rubble underfoot.
“I would say so. No matter how much you factor in the conceptual materialization, it’s still an unusual amount of endurance. It can’t be explained away with just the spell so there’s no other way but for his body to have been forged to the limit to begin with.”
This man’s strength was not in the Sanctuary Arts.
He was a seeker of strength.
He was not haughty about his exceptional body, had no shred of self-conceit, instead spending each day training to conceive this result. Even if the Sanctuary Arts had not been passed onto this man, he would have discovered a substitute for it on his own.
Before machine crystal <Ilis>’ warning, Sheltis had already jumped directly to the side. Instantaneously reacting, Zeadoll read his route and kicked up rubble.
He blew back the countless fragments of rubble with his swords. A single fragment became ten and ten became twenty. He launched an attack on Zeadoll with the might of a machine gun. In front of the barrage of boulders, the guardian calmly picked up speed and came charging.
In the face of this man’s defense, pebbles wouldn’t even cause him to stop.
……Now then, this is bad.
There was something he’d understood during this small confrontation.
“Receive my strike with brilliance.”
With the mace roaring before him, he withdrew his swords and went into dodging. Even if he were to weave his way directly underneath the mace and draw close to Zeadoll, a half-baked counterattack wouldn’t cause any damage.
……It’s just like fire and water.
……The compatibility between this guy and me is just too bad.
“The Yuugenshu’s natural enemy is you and your natural enemy is this type. The dual blades style’s merits can’t show through and only its demerits are exposed.”
……I know that.
The merits of dual blades were its attack speed and flowing consecutive strikes. However, its range and power were inferior to great swords, axes and spears. Mounting an attack that would surpass this man’s defense was difficult.
“On top of that……your mateki is repelling against the shinryoku of his Sanctuary Arts. Because the swords are infused with mateki, their cutting edge is a little dulled against a shinryoku barrier.”
“It’s just the worst in every possible way.”
For example, the Sennenshi Leon would be able to oppose it with the great sword’s destructive force.
If it was Ran who had physical strength and reflexes far above the average person, she could dive into a full-out pure martial arts battle with this man.
Or I’sa and Jin with their puppetry and dual guns, respectively, could launch a unilateral assault on this kind of enemy from afar. Of course, in that case, that was with the prerequisite difficult condition of having the destructive force to overcome the Sanctuary Arts’ defense.
“I see, such great skill.”
“You sure can speak!”
The mace struck from above downwards, from the right to the left and diagonally. Those all pierced through Sheltis’ afterimages and smashed the stone pillars behind them.
……There’s no meaning in repeated slashes.
……A stamina battle isn’t a good idea either and I don’t have the time to leisurely battle in the first place.
He was keeping Yuragi waiting aboveground.
It was better if he just ignored the fight and did as Zeadoll suggested. It would be his win if he just slipped past this man’s mace and broke into the Holy Hall to make it to ‘Mikuva’s Crimson Eye‘.
Should I keep dodging and wait for this man to become impatient?
“You’re waiting for a chance. That’s what your expression says.”
The protector with a brusque expression raised the corners of his mouth.
“I told you that my Sanctuary Arts have no openings.”
The mace he swung up stopped while facing the ceiling. Coming into contact with the light raining down from above, the mace’s outline shined dark grey ── that brilliance slowly grew stronger.
“My name is the ‘number one‘ Zeadoll, or in other words, the one who has been entrusted with the weapon which surpasses a thousand bows. The secret brought about now is, in other words”
He could see the space around the mace distorting like a mirage.
Light and air were swirling around like a whirlwind.
“Strengthening the mace with the Sanctuary Arts? Sheltis, dodge it!”
Everything happened at the same time.
Zeadoll shot out the mace at the same time Sheltis turned around.
“It becomes the sole peerless holy bullet.”
There was no wind or sound, only the overpowering waves of mechanical energy.
It pierced through several of the stone pillars standing in a row behind Sheltis and also destroyed the wall behind them. The grand destruction that shook the Holy Hall birthed gales and an explosion of noise and it seemed like just those two shockwaves would blow him away.
“……What ridiculous power.”
Looking peripherally at the giant hole in the Holy Hall’s wall, Sheltis muttered that, dumbfounded.
“How rude of you to dodge it; you should stop it head-on.”
He decisively shook his head.
……But what’s this feeling?
He couldn’t really find the words to describe it but there was something chilling or uncomfortable, some eerie thing that was hard to say ── that thing that he had felt during the fight with Maha couldn’t be felt even after fighting this much.
This man was undoubtedly strong. But this couldn’t be compared to Maha. In other words, he couldn’t imagine this man as an ally of Maha’s.
……Then there are Zeadoll’s words from just before. It almost sounded like something.
“Fumu, well then.”
It was a voice to stop the guardian who was pulling out the mace lodged in the rubble.
“There’s something I want to ask you. You’ve been calling yourself the ‘number one‘ for a while now.”
The guardian puffed out his chest as if to say, how good of you to ask.
“We of ‘Heaven’s Wheel‘ are a secret military organization stationed at the various centers of the Governmental Sector. We are permitted to use military force regardless of the place and we are named after the weapons entrusted to us.”
“By the weapons entrusted to you……so you mean that you’re the ‘number one‘ not because you defend this place alone but because you use a single mace?”
“Yes. The ‘number seven‘ and ‘number nine‘ also have a fitting amount of weapons to complement their names──……”
His words paused there.
It looks like he finally realized that he’d been lured into revealing secret information.
“I said too much; any further words are useless.”
“……Well, that’s fine. What I wanted to ask was something different.”
He only wanted to know one thing.
The Governmental Sector had bestowed those nicknames based on numbers. But Maha who had attacked Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> was ‘Golden‘. His nickname was a color. That meant──
“So there wouldn’t happen to be anybody called ‘Golden‘ amongst your allies……right?”
“There are none.”
That reply was filled with complete confidence.
“The Governmental Sector’s secret military organization consists of only the ‘Heaven’s Wheel‘ comprised of the three of us. Moreover, we command an absolute place of pride so we are entrusted with centers of importance such as this Holy Hall.”
“Which means you aren’t deployed outside of the Governmental Sector either.”
“Impossible. Our mission is “absolute holy territory”, or in other words, only the elimination of intruders.”
……So that’s how it is.
Finally, finally the tangled mess had come undone. A light had pierced into the darkness-steeped confusion and he’d come to see yet another truth hidden behind it.
“See, I didn’t deny that it was a place of research. That was a geological research location that became unusable so it was removed from the territorial airspace map after it was abandoned.”
“On the contrary, you’ve come here with a demand……recently, Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>’s airships have been freely entering the floating archipelago <Lagoon> under the jurisdiction of the Governmental Sector without permission. We would like to hear an explanation for this.”
Ymy said that last night while crying when she visited him.
The Governmental Sector had acknowledged the existence of the research area hidden on the flying archipelago <Lagoon> but on the other hand, they were raising suspicions of territorial intrusion by Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> was the same. They hadn’t directly written any formal documents regarding it but they were currently in the midst of searching for the Governmental Sector organization that ‘Golden Maha‘ belonged to.
──Each of the organizations is accusing each other and asserting without knowing about each other.
One of them or both of them might be lying.
……But I can’t understand it no matter what.
……I can’t get the impression that this man is lying.
If so, then maybe, what if both Tenketsu Palace and the Governmental Sector’s assertions were right……?
It was a doubt that had stuck in his mind ever since he’d set foot in this Holy Hall.
“Zeadoll, I was wrong.”
“You mean about your decision to infiltrate this Holy Hall?”
“No, this was planned. We were set up. We of Tenketsu Palace and you guys of the Governmental Sector.”
He shook his head decisively.
“It’s not Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> or the Governmental Sector, there’s a third organization that we don’t know of here.”
With that hypothesis, everything could be solved.
“……What are you saying?”
“There are guys that secretly used the research area you abandoned for a different purpose. They even cleverly prepared an airship that resembles Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>’s.”
Neither he nor Ymy believed or doubted the words of the Governmental Sector. What if the airship that had been coming and going from the floating archipelago <Lagoon> was only an airship disguised as one of Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>’s?
The Governmental Sector doubted Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia> as well held suspicions about the Governmental Sector as the owners of the floating archipelago <Lagoon>.
That’s right, everything was going as somebody had planned.
“This conference is the same. At this rate, it would end with a breakdown of negotiations and the suspicions of each side having multiplied. If it goes as they planned.”
“But that’s wrong. Their one miscalculation was that we would meet here.”
A person from each organization came into contact outside of the conference.
They didn’t manage to foresee that they would talk like this at the height of battle either.
“If I didn’t meet with someone like you from a secret military unit, I wouldn’t have gotten information like this. I wouldn’t have known about ‘Heaven’s Wheel‘ or that Maha isn’t here in the Governmental Sector.”
“……However, what about it?”
There was no wavering in Zeadoll’s expression.
“It is the same regardless of my opponent. I simply eliminate those who infiltrate this Holy Hall. Nothing changes for you in that respect, does it?”
He suppressed the wry smile within him. Even if it was for learning the truth, the one who had arbitrarily intruded had been him. For Zeadoll, there was no other opponent to deal with.
“In that case,”
“That’s why I’ll run away.”
Confusion settled on that steel expression for the first time. Seeing that momentary wavering, Sheltis swung his left sword close to the ground.
The grit on the ground was stirred up and became a thick mist hanging over the Holy Hall.
Silence answered the angry voice behind him.
Within zero visibility, Sheltis ran soundlessly towards the elevator.
Tenketsu Palace <Sophia>, floor 288.
Starlight shone into the dim hall. On the completely silent Priestess’ private floor, a small girl was walking nonchalantly.
“He─y, Meimel, get up─. It’s some urgent document.”
She pressed the doorbell many times with that request. But there was no response.
……It’s three in the morning so she’s probably still sleeping snugly.
She half-resolved herself. Ran clenched her fist to try knocking this time──
“Whaat’s uup, Ran, there’s still thirty minutes until the early morning training, you knoow?”
The door opened slightly and a Priestess that was rubbing her sleepy-looking eyes slowly showed her face.
Her hair was disheveled and her voice was slower than usual and lacking in majesty.
Her clothes had frills and lace and underneath that was a somewhat see-through negligee which made for a radical appearance.
“……Never show that appearance to anyone other than me. The Priestesses’ dignity will be spoiled.”
“It’s fi─ne, it’s fi─ne. So whaat is iit? An emergency contact for me?”
She looked over the document with her sleepy eyes.
With her half-downcast gaze, she read the documents without a word──
Her jade green eyes suddenly widened and her glossy lips cursed up into a crescent.
“So what was it?”
“It’s from Ymy. It’s long and encrypted so I’ll relay it for you……umm, ‘Help, Meimel! The conference with the Governmental Sector is going nowhere and I’m completely stressed out! At this rate, it doesn’t look like Yuugenshu is going to become a topic at all either! Also, I had my childhood friend, Sheltis, sneak into the central division of the Governmental Sector. I just received his report upon his return……and it looks like there was an unexpected outcome which is causing a great panic!?‘. It’s should be roughly like that.”
“……There’s a problem with how the encryption was decrypted.”
She should be thankful that it had been relayed so smoothly but there was another reason for why it was hard to accept.
“It’s a superlative translation, you know? So here’s the rest of it……’My childhood friend says that there’s a high chance that the Governmental Sector who we thought was our enemy isn’t actually our enemy. There’s another organization other than the Governmental Sector and we need to consider that they’re maneuvering in secret, he says. I didn’t believe it at first but Ilis is saying the same thing……but then, what should I do here!?‘. Okay, that’s the end.”
What are your thoughts on this?
Meimel looked over with those kinds of eyes, causing Ran to frown and scratch her head.
“So……as far as we’ve heard, they even snuck into the dangerous places in the Governmental Sector?”
“It appears so. Our spy should be with them so the possibility does exist.”
“But isn’t that kind of bold either way? Ymy also resolved herself well. I didn’t think she had the personality.”
“There’s no way she would.”
“……What do you mean?”
She asked without thinking.
“That’s, why. There’s no way she would issue such a reckless order. It was a suggestion I gave to the Cadres Guard. ‘If the conference comes to a halt, use your judgment to give Ymy a push. Even if it’s a little forceful, as long as the flow changes.‘”
“Ahh, so it was Ishtar who went. That innocence faker is skilled─”
The Priestess who was boring a hole in the letter with her gaze smiled.
“Ran, please send a digital document to Ymy under my name. An official document.”
An official document?
That would mean the contents would be completely transparent. Even a terminal at the Governmental Sector would be able to examine it.
“It’s fine, it’s fine like that. The goal is to clearly convey it to the Governmental Sector under the pretense of sending it to Ymy.”
Having seen through that, Meimel whispered at a lower volume.
“……Well, I thought that kind of stuff had a chance of being possible.”
It was during the conversation that morning when Ymy departed for the Governmental Sector.
“Ymy, try to keep this at heart? We have no idea if the place you’re about to go is dangerous or not.”
“……The Governmental Sector?”
“No, not that.”
“Mm, what’s up, Meimel? You just went silent. Thinking about what to write??”
“Yes. Now what should I do about it, I wonder?”
Brushing her messy hair with her hand, Meimel suddenly wiped the smile from her lips.
“The contents will be one sentence. ‘Today ── take care for the last day of the conference.‘ Well then, I’ll be entrusting it to you?”