“Them young ‘uns are as lively as ever, always so innocent, playing around so wastefully.”
A group of youths passed him by. A petite girl was pushing another girl, and the two boys following from behind had wry smiles on them.
He quietly remarked on that. It was a casual remark that should have been harmless, yet there was something off-putting about the tone of his voice.
However, no one actually heard him, so there was no one to notice that oddity.
The man was over 180cm tall, but while he was not overly muscular, he had a physique that had obviously been trained.
He was in the latter half of his thirties, and if the color of his hair and eyes were to be believed, then he should be an Asian Earthling.
As he covered half of his grim scarred face with a store-bought character mask, he joined the flow of people heading for the exit and slowly made his way.
Along the way, he distanced himself and took out his portable terminal to place it by his ear.
Apparently, someone was calling him from somewhere.
“It’s me… Yeah, we failed… Hey, don’t yell at my ears now.”
The person on the other end of the call seemed to be yelling at the man as he had to pull the terminal away from his ear.
The person he was speaking too seemed unhappy, but the man was all smiles the whole time.
“Well, that’s unfortunate. I had fun watching, though. More than half had already been taken down before we realized what was happening. We didn’t even have time to plant new ones before
The man wryly smiled and pulled the phone away from his ear again as though he were used to this.
“…Well, don’t say that. It would have been dumber if we bit the bait. We should have attacked instead? I could have sworn you told me not to make a move no matter what. In the first place, that was a warning meant for those that didn’t bite the bait. I heard it loud and clear you know… ‘If you still want to continue, I’ll crush you’.”
Though the man’s voice never changed and his jesting tone remained, he did not fail to notice the true meaning behind those actions, and the person on the other end of the call fell silent.
“…We lost completely this time. It’s our complete defeat. Even now the air is so tense, though normal people couldn’t possibly understand that. He’s still there, watching, from somewhere. Only fools would make a move in a situation like this, they’ll just instantly be crushed under that cat’s feet… Ku ku.”
Despite that the man refused any demands to act.
It was hard to notice because of his mask, but the eyes he looked at his surroundings with only grew sharper.
Though he said he wouldn’t do anything, he was more alert than ever.
He knew instinctively that he had to be that alert.
But of course, it was another story if the person he was speaking to would be able to understand that.
“In the first place, this was originally a plan in case the… Huh? Ah, hey wait a moment, wait… Damn it, youths these days are just too short tempered, right?”
The man said to a direction void of people, a direction wherein the only thing that could be found was an advertisement poster of today’s parade.
With no one here, the man could laugh and spend a moment of soliloquy.
“You got lucky, you know. But next time, there won’t be
As a faint smile appeared on the man, he ripped out the Songstress’ poster without any hesitation as though to declare that those words would hold true. And for a moment, through the man’s fluttering sleeves, the head of an eerie snake tattoo revealed itself.
“───Yes, yes, I understand. I’ll return directly to the hotel, so please don’t worry and go ahead.”
After the woman said that to the foster by her ears, she quietly placed the foster on the table.
She wore a pair of black-rimmed glasses and her black hair flowed behind her in a braid. Her appearance suggested she was Japanese, but she didn’t seem to care about the person sitting in front of her as she drank from her cup.
This woman, who was made to tag along on the field trip, was none other than Natsumi Shirota.
“Dealing with them normally is exhausting as expected…”
She was there at a corner of a common family restaurant, but perhaps due to the time, or the location, or perhaps, simply because the store was unpopular, there were barely any customers around. The place seemed deserted, in fact, but that was convenient for them.
The suited man seated in front of her knitted his brows unhappily.
With his well-kept blond hair and blue eyes, it was clear that he wasn’t Japanese.
The adoption of Garestonian translators have made the Japanese much less averse to foreigners, and with the presence of Garestonians as well, their presence has become far less conspicuous.
“Ms. Shirota, if we could continue our discussion…”
“Huh? Oh, what we’re we talking about again? Umm… Oreha Sushimeshi-san?” (Lit. I am Sushi Rice.)
That’s why they thought it would be possible to make contact with her, but they also said it would be difficult to have a conversation.
Now that he was meeting her in person, it was much worse than he’d heard, and he couldn’t help but make a bitter expression.
“…It’s Alan Smithee. Can’t you even remember what I told you just a moment ago?”
“Is that so? Well, it is a
He reintroduced himself with irritation, but Natsumi just snorted with a blank face, as though to say that a pseudonym as common as that wasn’t worth remembrance.
She didn’t even bother to hide her lack of interest.
“…I’d heard that the Japanese were a polite people.”
“Oh? Well, in the first place, it is a mistake to seek a normal and exemplary attitude from me. Because I am already doing all I can just to endure and sit here and hear you out.”
‘So hurry up and state your business,’ she implied, and the man searched his chest pocket with a sigh.
That was less because he’d given up and more because he feared her leaving.
In fact, that was an excellent decision on his part, as it was already fortunate for them that she was even bothering to hear them out despite her lack of interest.
Though with this being his first time contacting her, it was doubtful that he actually understood that much.
“My superiors have two things they want analyzed. The compensation will be information on that boy you’re so obsessed with. And we’ll make it so that you can do whatever you want to him and remain
After laying out everything, he placed a memory card on the table, as though to say that she should take a look at it if she wanted the specifics, but Natsumi’s expression remained unaffected.
She even yawned as she gave her thoughts on their offer.
“W-Why? I think these conditions are exceptional. And didn’t you submit your application countless times to be able to use the facilities of that lab?”
“You’re not popular with women, are you? The timing is all wrong.”
She would’ve jumped at this offer if he were just a bit earlier, but now, it couldn’t stimulate interest in the slightest.
She wanted to prioritize her desire to deeply investigate Nakamura Shinichi.
Given the power of his organization, the information regarding the boy that they could provide would certainly not be for naught, but they wouldn’t be able to provide much either.
After all, with the little ‘power’ they possessed, it was all too easy for the boy to make them disappear.
That was also the reason why she found the boy so interesting and why she had no intention of revealing the truth about him.
He was her test subject, hers, and it would not do for anyone else to lay their hands on him.
“Just the permission to use the lab won’t do since I can’t even leave Kutoria save for special cases..”
That’s why she just spoke about her circumstances that weren’t actually all that relevant.
Her accompanying the field trip was one such special case.
She was a gray too close to black for comfort, so the school had to temporary drive her away to prevent her from being involved in the school’s new equipment.
Natsumi herself did not want to out, so she jumped at this opportunity when it presented itself.
Of course, there was also the expectation that perhaps that ever wary boy might let his guard down, but as expected, he was a difficult opponent.
She was able to observe him to some extent before Nyazdaland, but as soon as they got there, she completely lost track of him.
Once he was lost in the crowd, it was impossible to find him regardless which artificial system she relied on.
The desire to study him urged her to keep looking, but she knew she’d just be dragging the matter tortuously, so she gave up and left Nyazdaland, only to unfortunately end up being caught by this man.
Because of that she believed she made the wrong choice, yet she still chose to humor him purely so she could kill time.