Shinichi quietly watched Takeshi and Ein from behind until they disappeared completely from the cemetery grounds, then in the next moment…
Something inside him reached its limits, and he crumpled to his knees like a puppet whose strings have been cut.
But just before he could collapse completely and hit the ground, Youko caught him, though his body remained limp.
It was curious if he was merely relying on her for support, or he truly had no energy left to support himself, but regardless, his eyes seemed vacant.
“Ha, ha ha… So you wanted to pick a fight, huh… I couldn’t even imagine it. As expected of you…”
Shinichi laughed feebly as he thought back to the words of his childhood friend that was no longer here.
“I haven’t changed, huh. If you’re the one saying it, then that must be true. Ha ha, what the heck… So after everything that I went through, I still haven’t changed a bit?”
It was a ridiculous notion, yet the fact that Takeshi had outsmarted him was just too big to ignore.
It had been two years for Shinichi and 8 years for Takeshi.
He had faced countless heart-wrenching situations and dyed his hands in blood countless times.
Yet Takeshi had still been able to read him like the back of his hand and spectacularly sealed his movements, allowing his own escape.
That was proof that Shinichi was indeed the Nakamura Shinichi that Takeshi remembered.
“Come to think of it, Daigo also said that I hadn’t changed. I see… So I haven’t changed one bit, huh… What an unfeeling person, I must be.”
Shinichi laughed in self-deprecation as he casually looked up at the sky.
But that wasn’t the only problem.
“Watch out above, huh. Having your own satellite is just cheating. There’s no way I could have predicted that.”
He knew it wasn’t his place to say that, but he still wanted to complain.
Youko repeated the unfamiliar word to herself.
But she seemed to have heard of it from somewhere, and she looked up at the sky.
The overcast sky was as cloudy as ever, but her consciousness extended far beyond the stratosphere.
Yet despite how outstanding the abilities of the tenkorius were, Youko failed to find anything. In fact, even Shinichi wouldn’t be able to do so.
That’s why it sent chills down her back.
“They’re peeping at us from way up there, and I’m sure the capabilities of that satellite is much better than the ones I know of. Geniuses sure do some crazy things, huh.”
Shinichi chuckled and shook his head wearily.
Garesto’s technology might have been advanced technology from another world and utilized photons, but it was still technology several decades ahead of Earth’s.
Since such technology has already been partially revealed, it wasn’t difficult to imagine that existing technologies would be significantly enhanced.
The primary benefactor of that would of cures be the military, but such benefits wouldn’t be limited to just weapons.
Another area it would affect would be surveillance from the skies. If Shinichi were to believe what Takeshi had told him, then fortunately, there were only two troublesome geniuses that were watching them right now.
“…Damn. I can’t see myself winning at all.”
He closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them again. It was curious what kind of future he had seen, but regardless, Shinichi shrugged his shoulders helplessly while still supported by Youko.
She didn’t react to his words. If that’s what her master said, then that must be the case, and she accepted it without question.
Exploring the reasons behind it wasn’t a priority. For now, she just had to listen.
“Takeshi is a true genius. He has both knowledge and wisdom. He’s not like me, who has to rely on clever tricks and deception. His scheming abilities are on a whole ‘nother level. If it’s him, anyone can be involved in anything. Yet of all the things he could’ve come up with, he just has to pick a fight with me… Honestly, I would have preferred the end of the world to this.”
After all, were it that, then he could just put a stop to it.
But his objective right now was a serious fight with Shinichi.
From the way he was talking, he probably didn’t even care about victory or defeat.
To fight seriously, to go all out – that was all he wanted.
To that end, he would weave conspiracies and schemes to cause various incidents.
But Shinichi wasn’t like that. He couldn’t involve unrelated people, and he couldn’t forgive others for doing so either.
In a sense, he actually cared more about winning than Takeshi.
Be it as Masquerade or as Takeshi’s friend, he had to put an end to this fight as soon as possible.
He couldn’t rely on his own luck or whatever goodness was left in his childhood friend.
But if so, then was it not already a foregone conclusion?
Takeshi would cause an incident, and people would get caught up in it.
Saving all of them would surely be impossible, so someone was bound to be sacrificed.
All because Takeshi wanted to pick a fight with Shinichi.
All because he wanted to go all out.
Someone would become unable to go home.
“…Stop it. How could you burden me with something so heavy again? What are you telling me to do? You think too much of me.”
The best opportunity he had was lost just now.
Of course, there could be no other end for Takeshi than to eventually be caught by him because of the overwhelming difference in power.
No matter how clever and versatile Takeshi was, there was an insurmountable gap in power between he and Shinichi.
So his fate has already been sealed.
However, until then, how many people will have to be sacrificed for the sake of his wish?
How many could Shinichi save? How many could he protect?
How many of Takeshi’s schemes would have to occur before this game would come to an end?
“If you’re saying that I haven’t changed, then you must know that I’m just a failure. I’m just a brat… A good-for-nothing brat that just knows how to prank people…”
Did he really understand? But regardless, Shinichi spoke like that to a person that was no longer here.
Of course, Takeshi couldn’t respond to him either. The only response he could get was the silence of the cemetery and the wind.
Despite that, Shinichi felt as though the ‘plating’ that he had on him had peeled off.
“Ow, that seriously hurt. He really punched me, huh.”
In the black sedan departing from the cemetery, Takeshi could be seen seated in the rear seat, rubbing his cheek. That was the place that had been struck by his childhood friend. He muttered to himself, “oww, oww,” repeatedly, but Ein, who had been entrusted with driving, glanced at him through the rear view mirror and tilted his head in puzzlement.
“I don’t think that was a serious punch, though? If anything, I’d say he held back as much as he could.”
There were no visible bruises or red swelling on Takeshi’s face. And Ein was also from a race that excelled at detecting danger yet felt nothing when Shinichi punched Takeshi, so he couldn’t understand why his master was hurting from such a weak punch, but Takeshi just shook his head in response to the puzzled look of his servant.
“Nah, that was Shinichi’s full power. A punch that could be executed with such precision and effectives precisely because it lacked power… It might not look it, but it was really effective.”