Tl Note: Peace preservation department => Security Department.
03-19: Fear of Death (3/3)
“…He came. The white mask.”
“…He came, did he? That monster.”
The student council and the security department had received the report of the Senba siblings.
Frire, who had gone to the security department, was currently talking with the student council president through a monitor.
After getting word that the robots weren’t running on photon energy, a specialized group meant to handle photonless issues have already been dispatched.
“It’s that mask who did in those terrorists. From what he last said, it seems he regrets not dealing with them more throughly…”
Though they didn’t quite understand what the terrorists meant by an evil god about to eat them, they figured that must’ve simply been how scary the masked figure was.
“If that’s the case, then he’s probably not an enemy… At the very least, I hope he’s not.
Because I don’t think I can win against him even fully armed. He did something like this in less than a second, after all.”
The mysterious masked figure shown in the recording might have been covered in a black haze, but the speed with which he moved still made Frire draw cold sweat.
She was a battle maniac. Yes. But there was still no point in fighting a battle that couldn’t be called a battle. That was how strong the masked figure was.
“Please don’t say something so scary. If the strongest in the academy thinks that, then what about us?”
What Frire was saying was essentially a declaration of defeat, and that caused the student council president to draw cold sweat himself.
After all, if she couldn’t win, then no one in the academy could.
In that case, apprehending the masked figure directly would become impossible.
“I’m not invincible, you know. I mean even today, I– Uh, never mind.
In any case, we have some unwanted visitors, so make sure to tighten the security.”
“Yeah. To be safe, I’ll prohibit the students from going to town tomorrow.
Please have the security department clean up the bombs by then.”
“Gotcha. I’ll let them know… Looks like we won’t be sleeping for a while.”
“So long as no one gets hurt, it won’t be that bad. Let’s do our best.”
After Frire nodded, she cut the transmission and went to get the security department moving.
“Sorry, I’ll need a full set of exoskeleton (armor) too.
I’ll be more useful out in the field than with command.”
As a cooperator from the academy, she had much authority in the security department.
As the people from the security department ran off to get equipment for her, Frire heaved a heavy sigh.
That was not a sigh meant for the trouble tonight. No.
Instead, it was because of a certain possibility that worried her.
“…It’s not you, right, Nakamura?”
Ironically, because she did not know that the boy was being monitored, she came closer to the truth than anyone else in the city.
The floating city of Kutoria that was usually always peaceful was currently busier than ever.
The members of the student council and the security department were running here and there, searching every nook and cranny for those robot bombs.
“…Only 2 left.”
Away from the desolate scope of the search, on the roof a building, was a black-clad figure hidden. He bended the winds to his will to find the bombs, then he would use the same winds to lure the search team to them.
Like that he skillfully led the search team without their knowing, and as he did, he pondered to himself.
“I screwed up… I thought for sure everything would turn out fine as long as I took care of them… And yet!
If only I’d just thought about it a little harder, then none of this would’ve had to happen!”
While on the boat to Kutoria, he happened to sniff the stench of gunpowder from someone.
He followed that person, and that led him to a group that proudly declared their plans to slaughter the citizens of the floating city.
He didn’t want his face to be seen, so he took on masquerade’s form and beat the terrorists black and blue, then he anonymously tipped the sailors about the weapons.
He thought that was enough to settle the issue.
“Even though I knew security was tight…
Even though I knew they brought that many weapons…
Why didn’t I think a little harder!? If so, if so, then things would have never gotten this far!”
Though his voice was modified to make it hard to tell the identity of the person using masquerade, the shaking in his voice could not be obscured.
That was because the shaking in his voice was beyond the powers of the mask.
“Almost being late because I rushed… Am I really that stupid?
At that distance, I could’ve just teleported.
What did I fly for? On top of that I even failed to control it… Uu!?”
Not only did he pick the wrong spell, he even messed up his control and fell.
Because of that he almost arrived late.
“*COUGH, COUGH, UU!?
Ha ha, I’m so stupid… I even forgot to strengthen my body…”
Coughing out a red liquid, the masked figured crouched down in pain.
Flying through the sky quickly put much strain on one’s body, so it was necessary to invoke a spell that mitigated those consequences or strengthened one’s body.
No matter how high his skill was, without making use of it, his endurance was literally just a D Rank.
Without applying what he knew, he wouldn’t even be able to exert 10% of his rank, much less 300%.
Because of his fear and panic, his strongest points were neutralized.
It was a beginner’s mistake that should’ve been impossible for him.
“Haa haa haa… Damn it all!
Just how much! Just how long! Am I supposed to be so messed up like this!? Tell me!!?”
He could not stop the emotions from welling up. He could not suppress them.
His body kept shaking by itself, and he was powerless to stop it… Because he failed again.
“I was about to let someone die again, you know!
Because I messed up, someone was about to get killed again! Youko was about to die!
Again, again, again! I’m always, so… Ack, gak, haa!?”
Having ran out of air, the masked figure was forced to suck in all the oxygen he could.
As flashbacks ran through his mind, his heart palpitated and his breath grew ragged.
He tried to stop his hand from shaking with his other shaking hand, and desperately he shook his head, then he yelled at himself.
“Haa, haa… AHH! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!!
It’s fine. I made it in time. This time I made it in time!
No one’s died. Everyone’s safe. So calm down!!”
That was an excuse. But he needed to say it to stop that scary dark something from coming out.
When that memory from before flashed through his mind, he suddenly got the urge to disgorge his stomach.
The hand clad in black seemed to dye in red as the masked figure leaked a cry.
But despite that he forcefully kept himself together as he ignored the cries from within.
“I don’t care if I’m a mess.
I don’t care if I want to puke.
I beg you, please don’t destroy anything.
…I’m fine. I can handle it myself.”
He ignored the cries screaming out from within as he forcefully kept his mind together.
The something that was trying to creep out suffered just as much as he did.
“Look, I’ll go back as soon as all the bombs have been disposed of.
Then I’ll go to sleep. When morning comes, I’ll be back to myself.
When school comes, Hina will be there, and I’m sure curled ringlets will scold me.
And then just like usual I’ll tease her and mess around.
I’m that sort of guy… Right, me?”
He laughed shoddily, as if he merely wished to be that sort of person.
In the end, the arrogance and playfulness that he showed to them was really nothing more than a way for him to balance his mental state.
So long as he created a strong personality and lived happily, he (he) could live himself (Shinichi).
Breaking from the pain or being swallowed up by his guilt was not permitted.
With that firm and stubborn – and yet at the same time – fragile will, the masked figure held the pendant by his chest.
He restrained himself as much as he could to avoid breaking that memento, a golden pendant in the shape of the crescent moon.
Then as he slowly inhaled and exhaled, he gradually calmed down.
He has been doing this every now and then to calm himself these past two years.
In the end, it was precisely this that began his habit of talking to himself.
He was always persuading himself like this, so talking to himself has already become a habit.
“…Ahh, I guess it really is hard.
Another otherworld… 8 years… Seriously, what do you want me to do?…”
That question wasn’t asked to anyone in particular.
With a face that looked like it was about to cry, the masked figure watched over the city until the bombs were disposed of.