I came back but the world is still a fantasy!? – School Field Trip Arc – Act 1: This Is What Happens When I Go on a Trip – 04-101: Defend the Concert! Prologue

──June 15.

On the day of the live performance, at a certain location, at a certain time, in a dimly lit room, a man operated a terminal built into a desk.

On the floating displays could be seen reports appearing one after another.

The way he processed them emotionlessly showed a meticulousness completely different from the impression given by his scarred and rugged appearance and well-trained physique.

Moreover, the volume of information pouring in should have normally been too much for just one person to handle, yet he easily handled everything by himself.

“Oh?”

When the rate of reports appearing finally settled down, the Englishman who had been working on something similar behind him murmured.

The stern-faced Oriental man, who had stopped his hands, moistened his throat with a lukewarm black coffee in a cup and said.

“What’s up, Venom? Did Masquerade do something again? Please don’t lose your temper again You’ve already wasted 2 minutes and 34 seconds cleaning up.”

He smiled cynically as he pointed that out.

Such an outrageous act was beyond Venom’s understanding. Although he did clean up after himself, he still ended up wasting time.

“Get over it, Six! More importantly, we got a report from the scout in the extended area. Take a look.”

As he said that, he sent the data and projected an outline diagram depicting an overview of the area around the live venue. On the projection could be seen light points surrounding the venue in a circular shape.

These light were divided into red and white, and upon expanding on the detailed information, Six made a puzzled face.

“Crimson’s unit, the Ladies, has been positioned in the outer forest?”

“…There’s really only one road to enter the venue, so most guests would use that. Who would go out of their way go through an undeveloped forest?”

“People with a terrible sense of direction or people like us.”

Although they did expect that there would be some kind of mechanism set there, they did not think that they would actually position the Ladies there.

“Those girls are good. With the training and equipment of the personnel we gathered, we’d have to force our way through with sheer numbers or rely on a large-scale attack with no concern for the commotion we’ll cause. From what I’ve heard, Fang once fought them without your leadership and lost despite having twice their numbers.”

“That’s only when they’re all gathered together. And there’s only about ten of them. Literally the few elite. Considering the size of the venue, they won’t have enough. Moreover, due to having to be dispersed, they won’t be able to form a defensive line.”

“They are positioned too far away from the venue. Perhaps that’s to avoid the attention of the guests, but I think it’s still unusually far. Because of that the area they have to cover is too big, and no matter how many sensors or cameras they use, it’ll end up full of holes.”

The white dot certainly surrounded the venue, but they were too far apart, so even though they’ve debugged the venue, they could still easily infiltrate.

“I was thinking they would surround the Songstress with the Ladies, then have Masquerade act as a sniper, but it’s actually the opposite. Her guards are sticking tightly to her again today. Six, as the leader of the operational unit, what do you think?”

“It could be a fake, but it’s definitely not Crimson’s plan. That woman is more solid. Although she occasionally uses clever strategies, the situation hasn’t deteriorated to that point, so this is probably Masquerade. It would be dangerous to think of it as a simple mistake or lack of manpower.”

“So it’s purposeful?”

Six became thoughtful then changed the displays to show another set of data over the initial outline diagram.

“…Look at this one.”

He added dots onto the wide open space between the hole-ridden circle and the venue. Venom looked at him, and he said.

“I sent 16 small underground reconnaissance drones to the venue, but they all vanished. The cause remains unknown even after analyzing the last data sent.”

Upon connecting the 16 points with lines, a sound of breath resounded.

“What do you think?”

“A circle within a circle… A second defense line?”

Inside the crude, hole-riddled large circle was another circle.

“A line that cannot be crossed from below. Guess they didn’t want to receive guests underground.”

Venom nodded.

“What about on ground or in the air?”

“We don’t know. Various reconnaissance drones have been sent to the first defense line too, but they all appear to have been stopped via hacking. We’re trying to figure out from a distance what happened, but all the trees and sensors set up keep getting in the way. The satellites also can’t display the area for some reason.”

Six shook his head with a sigh. It was both refreshing and irritating when he did it so blatantly.

“Who’s behind it? Nameless or Masquerade?”

“Could be either, and honestly, it makes no difference to us.”

The other side hadn’t sent them a letter or anything, but it was clear what the message was.

Venom wore a grim expression.

“It’s an invitation.”

“If we go there in our exoskeleton, the sensors will likely be able to tell what’s there, but it’s probably a trap.”

“You still have to send our forces in though, right?”

“Yeah, though when you think about it, the holes in the first line are actually scary. If you try to break through without thinking and get caught between the first and second forces. Even if you manage to overcome them safely, there’s no guarantee there won’t be a third or fourth force, and in the end, there’s the venue where Masquerade himself is waiting.”

Moreover, that was only the threat on the surface. A solemn breath escaped Venom’s lips.

“The moment he cleaned up the area, what was supposed to be a simple assassination has already turned into an invasion. So that’s what you meant yesterday.”

“Yesterday?”

Six seemed puzzled for a moment, but he quickly understood. It was something he told Venom after being annoyed by his lack of self control.

“Right, just as I said, he has no intention of just protecting. From the start he was planning on welcoming us as guests, and this was nothing more the just the prearrangement, but it’s even worse than I expected. I can’t believe he managed so much in just one night.”

“His methods are straightforward, but he moves quick, and the strategy is cunning. Definitely an unpleasant type. However, it still feels strange. Considering the Mask’s investigative ability and combat power, it would make more sense to let Nameless protect the Songstress and then just attack with himself as a guerrilla force. That way he won’t have to listen to the song.”

Venom became thoughtful, and Six watched him. He was quite smart when he calmed down, but in the end, Six shook his head.

───Unfortunately, it’s already too late.

“Stop it. Trying to completely decipher the opponent’s intentions at this point is impossible. There are just too many possibilities. For example, maybe he’s just prioritizing the safety of the songstress, maybe he doesn’t fully trust Nameless, maybe he wants to draw us out so he can crush us once and for all, maybe he’s worried about a third party interfering, the list goes on.”

“…Your point?”

“All we need to do is to check what traps they’ve prepared for us.”

Six said with a meaningful smile, and Venom nodded. As the leader of the Snake’s operational unit, Six was a well-known figure even though their departments were different. He could sense Six’s intentions, and he didn’t think there was anything wrong with them.

“Oh, right. The team that was initially scheduled to infiltrate the venue has been disbanded.”

Originally, this assassination plan was also nothing more than a backup. They had obtained tickets and staff positions, but due to Mask’s antics yesterday, the risk of being exposed was now extremely high. With the staff almost completely replaced, it was no longer possible to easily infiltrate with the identity of the old staff. Moreover, entering from the outside in this situation would undoubtedly attract attention and would only result in them being eliminated instantly. With the infiltration squad no longer usable or worth it, they were disbanded.

“With an opponent like the Mask, there’s no such thing as too much preparation, but unfortunately, they’re already unusable.”

But of course, that was only in regards to their original use.

“As expected of the head of the Snake’s operational unit, you’re ruthless.”

Venom chuckled, but his demeanor was far from gentlemanly. It was curious if he understood himself just how malicious his expression was, but regardless, he nodded and went back to work on his terminal. It was an extremely straightforward job. He just had to sort the personnel and distinguish between those needed and those not. Even if they were currently unusable, those skilled in infiltration work remained valuable.

Of course, he wasn’t choosing the core members. Those selected for the first wave would undoubtedly become expendable. Venom was skilled in infiltration work, so there were many familiar faces among these people, yet he cruelly went through them, picking and discarding purely based on the numbers and the rarity of their abilities. But of course, there was no decent person here who would be concerned about such sensibilities.

“…Are there any changes to the orders of the other teams?”

Six became thoughtful before shaking his head.

“Let them release some personnel from the main force and prepare about three teams as a nominal reconnaissance unit. It won’t be easy to break through in just one or two attempts. Inform them that there won’t be any other changes to the original plan. They are not to move on their own accord under any circumstances. Everything will depend on the results of the expendable reconnaissance unit.”

“Understood, I’ll select and reorganize the personnel immediately.”

Watching his colleague nod deeply out of the corner of his eye, Six spoke to no one in particular.

“If we miss the opportunity today, we’ll end up giving time to Masquerade. If that happens, we don’t know what kind of interference we’ll face.”

This was an opponent who could take decisive and large-scale actions without adhering to the norms of the underworld. Six feared not only Mask’s formidable combat abilities but also the way he would bring about the impossible on an impossible scale with his sheer overwhelming violence.

Even the fact that he was able to block against their attempts to attack from beneath the ground was exceptional. Most people would have neglected that, and there were usually very few ways to deal against such an attack, yet he dealt with it just like that.

Masquerade was an opponent with the power to easily flip over the board. How could one ever hope to be prepared against him?

It would be madness to come up with any plan as long as he was out there targeting them. Of course, they could just hibernate and go into hiding until Mask left, but Six’s intuition told him that they were already being targeted.

“This is our only chance.”

It was curious if that was meant to be a threat to boost the morale of his peers, or a declaration of determination to hide his true aim, which was the eradication of Masquerade, but regardless, as he retrieved an internal device quietly while pretending to review the information of numerous soldiers gathered through his terminal, a nasty grin surfaced on his face. That device was encased in a small metal case. When he quietly unlocked it, what appeared was pen-type injector device covered in cushion. A silver liquid suspiciously dazzled inside.

─────────────────────────────

It was a clear day that day, as though the heavy rain the previous day did not happen, so staff and guest alike were elated, not knowing that there was danger lurking just behind the scene.

Monica Chantal’s outdoor live performance this time was also a nighttime event. The checks were meticulously conducted with managers taking the lead. Various sensors were used, and visual inspections, baggage checks, and personal identifications were conducted as thoroughly as possible. Since Shinichi had hired personnel skilled in such tasks, though troubles were not entirely absent, the entry process proceeded smoothly. In the process, several individuals who had nothing to do with the Snake but were attempting to enter the venue illegally were discovered. With how tight security was, the venue ended up packed with only the genuine attendees.

It was now ten minutes before the scheduled start time of the live performance. Monica, dressed in the first-stage costume, was waiting behind the scenes. The dress, predominantly white, harmonized well with her tan skin and looked truly dazzling. She appeared composed, as if she were accustomed to it, but it didn’t mean there was no tension. Wrapped in a sharpened atmosphere, she seemed like a master preparing to face a formidable opponent before a match.

The people around her refrained from unnecessary contact with her just before the performance. Even an amateur like Shinichi could understand that, and he deliberately kept his distance. Of course, it was also because if there was anything, he could quickly intervene to protect her anyway.

“…”

He silently stood there like a cheap ornament in the corner, and no one paid him any attention. However, he wasn’t actually completely silent.

“Confirmed multiple three-man teams outside the first line.”

“How many and where?”

He communicated silently with the others through telepathy. Although the tension surrounding him and the others just before the live performance was a bit different, they too handled it like a professional.

“I’ll link you the data, so you can see it in real-time, but just as you predicted, about three or four teams are headed for my subordinates. The positioning is almost the same. They appear to be a reconnaissance team with disposable personnel.”

“Nicely done.”

“Says the guy who predicted everything. I can’t believe that man called Six is really attacking a place like this.”

Judging from Six’s records in the incidents he was involved in and the movements of the Snake, it seemed that he possessed a bold yet rational mind. The fact that he seriously prepared for this situation surprised her. At least, if it were her, she would withdraw as soon as the Mask chose to protect her assassination target. The assassination of a person that was merely disadvantageous to the organization was not worth being openly hostile with the Mask.. However, he disagreed with her.

“I explained why, didn’t I?”

“But no evidence. While it’s true that that Songstress could prove to be a thorn to them, and no one knows how well you’ll do protecting someone, that doesn’t mean they should attack. You know what, forget about it, more importantly, you’re happy about the positioning, right?”

“Yeah, just follow the plan as we’ve discussed. The minor details you can decide on your own on-site.”

“You mean that whole ‘if the enemy suddenly appears in front of you, crush them before you’re surprised?’ I don’t know what you’re planning, but as their commander, I wish you’d explain more. Asking them not to let them get close to the second defense line even if they slip past them is ridiculous.”

Their strategy for today was mostly decided by him. He told them what to do, but he didn’t say why or for what reason, only reassuring them by using his reputation as the Mask as guarantee.

“I trust you and your subordinates.”

“You sure talk big for someone who took advantage of the fact those kids were just figured out your true identity! You kept handing out instructions with that face of yours! Everyone’s faces were twitching the whole time!”

The briefing took place early this morning. Even though it would have been fine for him to wear a mask, he casually blended in while showing his real face, revealing that he knew that they knew, and in response, they just remained silent instead of asking questions. That was smart on their part, but beyond that was the trust they had for Myuhi. But of course, Shinichi had already calculated things after accidentally revealing himself.

“…More importantly, was that all the information on the ‘Snake’ and the ‘Silver Giant’?”

“Hmm…”

Myuhi groaned at the blatant change of topic, but it was a topic that couldn’t be avoided, and it wasn’t something she could handle flippantly either, as it was a transaction between Nameless and Mask.

“It’s not a lot, but I guarantee there’s no one else who has more information than us when it comes to the underworld.”

“It’s actually plenty for me to confirm my speculations, but that’s precisely why it’s troublesome. Anyway, if we can get past the attack today, it’ll be the end for the Snake.”

“So you did prepare something already. That’s why you created this bait of a formation so that you could crush their forces here and make it safer for the Songstress.”

“More or less.”

“Hehe… Still, I never expected that the search for a lost child would turn out to be a job to protect the Songstress escort and destroy the Snake. What a twist! I bet the enemy commander is that guy too. But if we’re to believe your sense of smell, this Silver Giant might get involved.”

However, her smile only lasted for so long before a faint unease peeked through, but that was only natural, after all, Shinichi had already obtained enough information to understand the situation. He purchased information on the Snake, Six, and the Silver Giant and borrowed Myuhi’s subordinates. The fact he was being so wary meant that Myuhi needed to take this seriously.

─────Six

He was the only member of ‘Snake’ whose face was known to the outside world. However, besides being of East Asian origin on Earth, his age, background, and Status were all unknown. Yet despite there being little information about him personally, he was highly regarded as a unit commander.

Although he had a tendency to be aggressive, he possessed calm judgment and daring military tactics. However, what caught Shinichi’s attention in the information about him was the two titles attached to him.

“Immortal Fang.”

What drew his interest was the origin of that name.

It was a simple story. The latter part, ‘Fang,’ came from the fact that the operational units in ‘Snake’ were referred to as ‘Fangs,’ while ‘Immortal’ was because he had survived multiple situations where he should have been dead.

Thus, ‘Immortal Fang.’ It was a simple yet eerie story. Whether it was a plane crashing and burning, a building collapsing due to the aftermath of military conflict, or deliberately detonating himself to avoid capture, he survived it all. Nameless had specific examples of each of the three incidents, but even if it was just one of those, the fact that he could survive unscathed each time hinted that it wasn’t just luck.

─────Silver Giant

Officially, it was a city legend circulating in Garesto for about six months. The content varied slightly, but generally, it was about a 20-meter giant that glowed silver and walked outside the dome at night, attacking those who caught its attention.

In Garesto, where there was a threat from raybeasts, the cities where people lived were all dome-shaped, and ordinary people rarely ventured outside. Therefore, stories of the dangers of going outside had existed as folktales for children since ancient times.

In the public’s eyes, it was just one of those stories, but the reality was different. Somehow, footage of actual incidents had leaked onto Garesto’s public network. The government manipulated information to prevent a panic, resulting in the legend being established.

The original footage was attached to the documents.

Whether due to data corruption or equipment malfunction, the footage was chaotic and mixed with interference and noise. However, it showed a huge humanoid figure glowing in silver in the complete darkness. The figure had a faceless, featureless body, glowing in silver and casually stepping on the surrounding trees. There was an eerie atmosphere about it that resembled those of horror movies.

Then the silver giant’s powerful arm swung at a speed that didn’t match its massive body, and the footage was dyed in silver before being cut off.

Unfortunately, the encounter was by a squad patrolling outside the dome. Initially mistaking it for a massive raybeast, they tried to defeat it before it approached the city. However, before they could assume an attacking position, the giant noticed them, and they received a blow from the powerful arm mentioned earlier. Several squad members hit directly were swallowed up, leaving only their equipment behind. In the aftermath, half of the squad was incapacitated due to the shockwaves, causing confusion in the command structure. Although they fought back, none of Garesto’s attacks or skills were effective. Before they could decide to retreat, the giant charged at them at a speed comparable to a fighter jet, and most of the squad couldn’t evade and were swallowed in silver light.

This information was based on the testimony of the surviving squad members, who had managed to barely escape after a desperate attempt.

Naturally, the military sent a rescue team when communication with the squad was lost. However, by the time they arrived, the tragedy had already ended, and there was no sign of the silver giant or any traces of its movement.

But during the search for survivors and the giant itself, they were astonished.

That place, which had been a gentle hill in a forested area until just the day before, was now a sunken sandy expanse of about 3,000 square meters. The outside appeared unchanged, as if nothing unusual had happened, leaving an eerie impression on the military personnel.

Investigations and research were ongoing, but the true identity and purpose of the ‘Silver Giant,’ as well as the cause of the partial desertification, remained unknown.

On one hand was the commander of ‘Snake,’ who, despite having some opaque aspects and an incomprehensible immortality, was a realistic threat due to understandable abilities, while on the other hand was a completely unknown and incomprehensible creature of silver light, possessing an attack method whose nature and effects were unclear.

And they had just witnessed something with the same color and radiance yesterday.

There was no one here who couldn’t connect ‘Snake’ and the ‘Silver Giant’ at this point. If it were only one of them, they might have avoided hostility. But due to the existence of the outlier, Masquerade, even a minor conflict would likely escalate. Everyone remained calm because they were confident in the fact that, even in a small number, they could handle a fight as long as they had Masquerade. However, it was just a small sense of security. She probably understood that the most. That’s why Shinichi said.

“Hey.”

“Hmm?”

“An order from your employer. Yesterday, I was spoiled by you, so this time, I’ll spoil you.”

He spoke bluntly, but the words themselves were gentle. Myuhi didn’t understand right away and made a dumbfounded expression, leading Shinichi to tilt his head, until realization dawned on her and her face broke out into an amused smile.

“Hehe, you just love to talk in such a roundabout way, don’t you?”

“Huh?”

Shinichi tilted his head and pondered on her words, while Myuhi’s heart further loosened, and the smile on her grew deeper.

“So I’m going to be spoiled by you today, am I? Well, alright, let’s do that.”

Myuhi muttered in an expression of joy that was as though she received the sweetest thing in the world. It was so out of the blue that Shinichi was caught off guard and couldn’t even tease her.

“…Telepathy is convenient, but it seems like it’ll probably be misused.”

She hadn’t meant to reveal her true feelings, but as it turns out, one could accidentally reveal one’s thoughts during telepathy, and the sweetness of the emotions she conveyed made Shinichi’s cheeks loosen.

He could just imagine his childhood friend looking at him mockingly, but he pushed such thoughts aside and just silently appreciated this aspect of her. It wasn’t his fault. It was only natural to be drawn to cute, but this pleasant period could only last for so long, for while this conversation was taking place within their consciousness, it was really happening in real time.

“Ah, the live is starting, so the attack will probably start soon.”

Myuhi too changed gears as soon as she realized that it was starting. It was precisely for this professionalism of hers that he chose her to be his partner.

“It’ll probably start when her song begins. Leave the outside to me and don’t push yourself. We’ve already prepared for the possibility of being overwhelmed by numbers.”

Even if the two threats she worried about emerged, Shinichi believed that the chances of a direct confrontation with them were low.

“But we do need to work hard enough to draw them out, right?”

One downside to having Masquerade as an ally was that there was a chance that the enemy would be so scared that they went “berserk,” so it was important for Myuhi and her soldiers to fight at just the right level without making them crazy.

『────』

『────』

Within their telepathy, they looked at each other. Myuhi might have spoken casually, but the burden on her and her team was substantial, nonetheless, she smiled confidently, and after a moment of hesitation, he too smiled.

“Show me what it means to be Nameless’ Spear.”

“Of course!”

“I’ll spoil you as much as you want.”

“Fue!?”

Shinichi brought that part up again just before they closed the call, causing panic to surface on Myuhi, as well as a hint of expectation in her reddening face. Shinichi’s cheeks also loosened.

Despite his somewhat mischievous expression, he quickly composed himself and shifted his focus entirely to Monica on stage.

“…………”

“…………”

Their eyes met, and though neither of them said anything, she definitely smiled fearlessly.

The songstress stood on the battlefield as a singer, while her guardian stood on the battlefield as her defender.

She might still be afraid, but she stood tall with her pride as a singer and her trust in them.

Monica stood there with composure. With her dignified appearance, combined with the dress, she looked just like a “princess.” Even the crescent moon swaying at her neckline appeared divine.

With a serious nod, Shinichi sent her off with confidence. With unwavering steps, the songstress ascended the stage, bathed in the spotlight as she presented herself to the thousands of spectators.

“──────!!!”

Seismic cheers erupted like an earthquake in the air. She raised her hand to calm the crowd, and intense sounds began to flow from the speakers.

The audience seemed to recognize the song from that, and the venue’s voltage rose even higher. The heavenly voice that surpassed everything captivated the people.

“Ah──!”

Contrary to his involuntarily captivated heart, Shinichi clicked his tongue as his body swayed.

“Darn it, what a troublesome body. Everything is a mess.”

Shinichi understandably complained while suppressing the discomfort. Whether it was a headache, a shaky body, or the distorted vision, the moment he realized that he could deal with all the symptoms as long as he understood enough, he knew he would somehow be able to manage.

He had already verified during the rehearsal how much of a handicap fighting under her song would be, so although his body was in poor condition, it was fine as long as he could move the way he wanted.

Anyone who heard that would probably call him stupid, but it didn’t matter. As he confirmed that there were no gazes on him, he disappeared via teleportation, and in the next moment, he appeared on top of the large monitor on stage as Masquerade; however, even if some recording equipment were to be directed at him, there was no way to see through the darkness that completely concealed his figure.

He wouldn’t be a part of the show, but this was the best place to oversee the entire venue. It was limited only to what he could see, however. That was a huge area to cover in and of itself, but the fact that someone like him, who could normally see over 1,000km if he were to focus, would have his senses limited to such an extent was undoubtedly because of the song. He would just have to rely on modern tools to compensate.

“Huh? Ah, darn it, Hina noticed.”

It was a bit late, but he finally realized what felt off. This wasn’t the first time he and Myuhi would be working together, but it was the first time they were sharing combat information. He had initially planned to just silently watch, but Myuhi noticed him and chose to help him.

“Really, why do these curious busybodies always gather around me? At this rate, I’ll never be able to repay all their good will.”

Shinichi happily complained but nonetheless kept a watchful eye on the venue as he went through the information delivered to him. Nothing was amiss in the venue itself, but battles were already taking place.

“So, it came to this, after all. This won’t be pleasant.”

Suddenly, his voice became flat. It was completely void of temperature, interest, concern, hostility, sympathy, or pity. Not even the color of his fighting spirit dyed it. That was the sort of emotionless state he was in as he, alone, looked up at the distant sky with indifferent eyes.


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9 responses to “I came back but the world is still a fantasy!? – School Field Trip Arc – Act 1: This Is What Happens When I Go on a Trip – 04-101: Defend the Concert! Prologue”

  1. Magnawell Baskus Lardo Kurtzvald Avatar

    Thanks for the Chapter

  2.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    Thanks a lot

  3.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    Thanks for the chapter

  4.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    thanks

    1. WrongerMonk10 Avatar
      WrongerMonk10

      Thanks for the chapter!

  5.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    Thanls for Chap And READY FIGHT

  6. WrongerMonk10 Avatar
    WrongerMonk10

    Thanks for the chapter!

  7.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    Thanks for the chapter. Really glad you decide to comtinue it.

  8. Raghnall Mordecai Avatar
    Raghnall Mordecai

    Thanks for the chapter.

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