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 – 04-47: The Story Until Departure (1/5)

“Ah, so basically, just an exam break won’t be enough time, so they decided to have a field trip too.”

While working on the job at hand, the boy in black school uniform(Shinichi) summarized their discussion so far.

“That’s putting it real blunt, but it’s true, so I can’t argue with it.”

The girl in tracksuit(Frire), who herself was doing the same work as the boy, could only wryly smile when he accurately pointed out the truth with those few words.

“Three or four days just wasn’t enough for us to cover every corner of the fields and the school. And either way, there’s no denying that the entire security system has been compromised and that information was leaked outside, and without knowing to whom and how much was leaked, we can’t use the facilities.”

After all, the spy infiltrated the school right from the start(8 years ago).

Upon finding that out, it was only natural to suspect that other tricks might have been left behind as well, so the head office of the school’s administration made the decision to replace all of the school’s systems.

The school receives plenty of operating funds from both worlds in various forms, so there was more than plenty to completely replace the security system of the school.

“And classes can’t be held while the system replacement is taking place.”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

It was one thing if they were merely holding an investigation, but a full system replacement was another story altogether.

They couldn’t publicize the actual reason, so instead of coming up with a half-baked reason why the systems had to be replaced, Garesto’s field trip, which didn’t disclose its schedule until just before the trip, was a convenient way to get the students out of the school peacefully.

“From the sounds of it, it seems you couldn’t figure out Aria Banslet’s collaborator in the end.”

Frire groaned when he pointed that out.

“…As insightful as ever, I see. Yeah, they completely outwitted us this time around. Though she remembers(・・・・・・) working with an insider, she couldn’t remember who it was(・・・・・・).”

“That’s usually the sort of stuff that would lead the interrogator to slam the desk.”

“The interrogator did do that, but… The shock she showed when she realized she couldn’t remember didn’t appear to be an act, so a thorough checkup was performed, and traces of an unknown mind skill having been used on her brain were found.”

“Someone was a step ahead of you, huh.”

Shinichi said unhappily with the clicking of his tongue, and Frire nodded.

A skill that erased a specific memory from an individual when certain conditions were met.

Based off the analysis of the traces left and the condition of Aria’s body, a friend of Frire’s speculates that such a skill might have been used.

“Apparently, it was a memory erasing skill of sort. Though from the structure of the program, the developer of the skill appears to be different from that other mind skill, but either way, they’ve both created some problematic skills.”

“I don’t know if it it’s because of their conscience that they didn’t design the skill to just outright cripple the target, or if it was merely because of their confidence in their own abilities, but regardless, they’re definitely no good.”

Shinichi didn’t specify exactly what he was referring to, but Frire could still understand what he meant.

After all, it was obvious that it was the collaborator inside the school that used that skill on Aria.

And no one knew who that collaborator was.

“I know right, it’s so depressing. They also put me in charge of the teachers leading the field trip. I’m glad that they trust me, but do they really think I can do any kind of secret investigative work!?”

Shinichi had to call out to her with a ‘hey’ when he saw her so pessimistic, but he actually agreed with her.

While Frire would certainly make for a great bodyguard, she stood out to much for secret investigations.

Not to mention that her abilities and personality didn’t fit such work.

“Don’t brag about that. But alright… I’ll help out too. Though I gotta say that the most suspicious ones are the ones left behind…”

“…Well, yeah. Most of the teachers of the Technology Class had to stay behind to replace the school’s systems, but you know, getting their help was actually the safest option we had.”

It wasn’t as though it was already decided that the collaborator would be someone from the technology class, but since their systems were compromised, it was only natural to doubt them.

Aria had also already infiltrated the school as an office staff that could move easily among the teaching staff, so it was hard to believe that she would want one of those teachers as a collaborator.

And no matter how suspicious the teachers of the technology class were, the risk of employing professionals from outside to fix their systems was simply too high.

The recent incident and the existence of Masquerade have brought even more attention to the school than normal, so nothing would be dumber than for the school to go out of their way to prepare a convenient path for people to infiltrate it.

Of course, given time they could bring in someone from outside after thorough investigation and surveillance, but there was no time, and they even had to get rid of the students after hastily deciding to have the field trip.

As such, it made more sense to just use the people they had available even if they were suspicious.

And since they knew that there was a spy somewhere, all they had to do was to make sure to keep an eye on the suspects.

“I did some investigating on my end too, but I couldn’t find anyone suspicious with evidence. Either they’ve already been dealt with or they’re hiding somewhere even I can’t predict, either way, it’s a huge problem. There are a few names that are plenty suspicious ability-wise and motive-wise, though…”

“That’s Teacher Shirota and… My brother, right? She’s the number one suspect because of her abilities and her poor reputation, so – and since she herself asked to go – the school administrators decided to send her along on the field trip… Do be careful.”

“Seriously?”

The scientist, Natsumi Shirota, who was usually just barely able to keep a lid on her madness, knew who it was that was most interested in her and her assistant teacher, so even if they weren’t people that they wished to take along, it was too worrying to leave them behind.

After all, her existence itself was a grey exceedingly close to black.

“Well, I guess it’s much better than leaving that teacher behind and having her help out with the system replacement anyhow.”

Shinichi’s face showed that he detested the idea from the bottom of his heart, but he knew that it was much better to have her somewhere they can keep an eye on her.

As he said that and came to terms with the decisions of the school administration, in the end, Frire never said anything to refute the suspicions on her older brother.

As such, the most Shinichi could do for her in that regard was to avoid directly talking about him as much as possible.

Frire was bothered that her older brother was among the suspects.

She wanted to believe in his innocence, but given his circumstances and state of mind, there was more than enough motive for him to have done it.

Moreover, Frank himself possessed extraordinary skills as a technician.

But it was precisely because Frire knew that that her mood was heavy and her expression and aura, dark.

“…Well, anyhow, be sure to bring some souvenirs when we go back.”

Frire was so down that Shinichi could feel that gloomy aura despite having their backs to each other, so he forcefully changed the topic.

Frire knew that he was being considerate, so she honestly responded and shook her head.

“No, there’s another teacher in charge of stuff like that, so…”

She had been tasked to monitor the teachers, so someone else was tasked with those courtesy stuff, but as far as Shinichi was concerned, that was a poor excuse and a passive attitude.

“Look, you fool! I’m telling you to buy souvenirs as the younger sister for your older brother!”

Perhaps that’s the reason why – for a moment – Shinichi doubted if she was really trying to better her relationship with her older brother and ended up yelling that.

“Woah!? D-Don’t yell so suddenly! I thought I’d mess up for a moment. In the first place, there’s no telling if he’ll even accept it even if I did buy him some, given the situation and all…”

Although she’s continued to greet him, his responses so far couldn’t be said to be positive.

In that regard, it was curious if her actually being able to do something as elementary as greet him should be lamented or praised, but thinking about it just gave Shinichi a headache.

“In that case, just buy a souvenir for all the teachers left behind. If you give a gift under the pretense of thanking the technology class teachers, no one will suspect you, and if you ask them to share it among themselves, no one would bluntly refuse you either. You could then take advantage of that to give your brother a present just for him…”

“Oh, so there was a method like that!”

Frire exclaimed in a voice so impressed that she would have likely clapped her hands if they weren’t so busy, but Shinichi just sighed.

‘Is this woman really nearly 10 years my senior?’ he thought to himself.

“You know, Teacher(・・) Frire, you really should have been embarrassed instead the moment you had to take advice from some snotty kid with stranger anxiety.”

“Uu.”

When he intentionally emphasized the term, Teacher, Frire’s self-esteem as an adult was torn to shreds.

She never had much to begin with, so whatever little she had quickly crumbled.

〈Either way, you two────I don’t believe this is exactly the kind of conversation to be having while defusing some bombs.(・・・・・)

“Kyu, Kyu kyu kyu.”

Perhaps to divert the attention of her discouraged master or perhaps as a roundabout way of telling them to focus on the job at hand, Shirayuki spoke through Frire’s terminal.

Meanwhile, Youko just happily chirped about while nested on Shinichi’s head.

If translated, they would likely mean, ‘it’s good that you get along so well, Master.’

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