“…Seriously, every single day, it’s just one troublesome thing after another.”
“Yeah, but you did well.”
Shinichi started grumbling. He’s already been found out anyway, so he might as well allow himself to be spoiled. Myuhi was more than happy to play along, not realizing that her words were genuinely filled with affection.
“Every single one of these clowns are so stupid. They don’t even know what they’re messing with. Do they think everything will somehow work out if they just attack? Fools. I don’t care anymore. Let them destroy themselves if they want to so badly. I’ll just laugh at them after they’ve lost everything.”
Complaints poured out of Shinichi one after another, and Myuhi just nodded to them all with a gentle look in her eyes. None of that was a lie, but…
“Fu fu… Icchi, you’re such a liar.”
Myuhi knew for sure that he couldn’t do that, as he was the kind of person that couldn’t remain indifferent to his surroundings to the point that he would even risk his life for others.
“I’m sure you’re just thinking of how to protect the Songstress tomorrow during her concert anyway.”
She looked at the door that had been left ajar, then turned back to Shinichi. Already, he could not afford the excuse of ignorance.
“In fact, I’m sure you’re thinking even further ahead. After all, there’s no way they would give up just because they failed.”
“See! I knew it!”
He squirmed from within her breasts without saying a word, but that in itself was no different from saying yes. Really, it was adorable how awkwardly honest he was.
“Honestly, that song is toxic to you too. Did you like her song that much?”
“…There’s that too, but there’s more to it.”
“Those kids will cry if something happens to her.”
──Sigh, that’s why this guy is so…
That’s why Shinichi was going to protect her, and Shinichi said that as though nothing could be more obvious. Myuhi found that so admirable that she actually became exasperated.
“Someone you’re meeting today for the first time, above all, someone who can sing a song that will kill you, yet you’re going to protect her?”
There was a hint of reproach in her voice. Shinichi seemed to notice it too, but for some reason, he responded in a happy tone.
“I know it’s weird, but I thought it was beautiful.”
Just because he thought it was beautiful, because it was valuable, he was going to protect it. And he said that with a voice full of satisfaction.
It was at this point that Myuhi finally understood. Shinichi was happy to have just been able to find that. That’s why he couldn’t stand anyone trying to harm it. For such an act was tantamount to ruining his fun. In that sense, he was just like a sulking child or an outraged villain. The fact that he knew about that part of him but showed no effort to change cemented that.
“Even though you’re so lacking in confidence, you hold absolute confidence in your own sense of values, huh. I don’t know if I should call you arrogant or selfish for that. Though, it’s really just that part of you that’s self-centered. Sigh, what a troublesome guy,”
Myuhi said, and Shinichi laughed.
“By all means, please call me a timid megalomaniac.”
“…That’s uchibenkei  in Japan, right?”
“All of the world is within me!”
“Stop it, seriously.”
Shinichi seemed all for it, and as the two bantered, they shared a laugh. Myuhi thought that this really was how Shinichi ought to be.
“Fu fu… It can’t be helped, so let me help you. I’m really expensive, though.”
“I know. I’ll pay you properly. Thank you, you’re a lifesaver… So let me rely on you for a bit.”
“Sure, go ahead.”
Just like that, Shinichi released his consciousness and concentrated on his internal recovery. He wasn’t really asleep, but his body relaxed, and those arms that were embracing her dropped. Meanwhile, his head rested on her completely as though he was asking her to support him.
As a result, they were closer than ever, and the shade of red on Myuhi grew even deeper. She was so embarrassed that she tried to forget about it and glanced at the door, shaking her head at the presence that was getting further and further away.
“…Now then, what to do?”
While continuing to stroke his defenseless head, Myuhi muttered to herself. She had heard everything that Shinichi wanted to say, and she could just enjoy his reactions later, so right now…
“He’s counting on me, so I’ll need to make sure to do a good job keeping watch.”
Myuhi touched her foster while embracing Shinichi and deployed all sorts of sensors, barrier, and she even instructed her subordinates to be on alert. That was clearly too much defense for a single person, but Myuhi failed to notice that. Time passed for the two as they continued to embrace each other.
It wouldn’t be until later that Myuhi would come to realize how excessive she’d been at this moment, as well as how the thought of pranging him didn’t even cross her mind. Shinichi entrusting himself to her had made her just that happy, and the realization of that brought her no end of agony. Alas, that was a story for another time.
Somewhere in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, some ways away from the lively station was a medium-sized mixed-use building in a district with a decent amount of pedestrian traffic. The top floor – the fourth floor – was leased by a certain accounting office, an office reputed for its efficient work and diligent and capable individuals, but of course, that was only the official story.
Inside, the employees were going about their respective tasks as usual. There was no noticeable change, and they worked diligently, occasionally engaging in small talk, but in truth, some few minutes ago, a group of fewer than ten people, all dressed in fatigues, had suddenly entered and occupied their locker room, yet the employees just acted as usual.
“All of you, discard all your equipment here, including the translation devices and anything without backups. If possible, change all your clothes as well. Once you’re done, we’ll leave this place and proceed to the next. Hurry.”
A rugged man with a scar on his face ignored the hustle and bustle of the employees as he gave orders to all those present. Despite the bitter look on them, his subordinates responded without so much as a protest. They opened their lockers, placed their devices inside, then took something that had been attached to the interior top of the locker.
At first glance, it seemed there was nothing in their hands, but in the next moment, the space distorted and Garesto-made devices materialized. They efficiently changed out of their fatigues into the seemingly ordinary suits that were hung inside.
Their efficiency was almost military in their coordination, and they all appeared as though they were part of the same army. Well, all except for one individual.
“What are you panicking for, Rokudo (Sixth Path)?”
Though not wholly confrontational, an English-looking man in his forties with a seemingly good-natured face stood there displeased.
“I understand I’ve just barely been spared of being disposed, but shouldn’t we contact the main office from here and seek further instructions?”
“Nick Busujima, though our responsibilities might differ, you should follow my lead for now. I suspect that these devices have been infected with a malicious virus. Considering where we’re headed, we ought to get rid of them here even if it’s just a possibility.”
The conversation, while not exactly casual, would be difficult to understand accurately without knowing the circumstances. The choice of words and the use of pseudonyms took into account the fact that they were in a poorly soundproofed cheap building.
“A virus? Don’t tell me it was planted by him? I appreciate your skill in avoiding a catastrophic collapse, and I’m thankful for that. But even so, I find it hard to believe he could have done something like that in that situation…”
“Even though we were led on?”
“Everything had gone according to his plan. didn’t you see that last move? He clearly could have given chase if he wanted to. If he did, who knows how many of us would’ve been able to survive? Yet he allowed us to escape, and on top of that, they’re moving in a way that suits us. It’s only natural to be cautious.”
Rokudo, AKA Six, matter-of-factly said that they’ve been allowed to escape. For a brief moment, even the subordinates who were preparing froze, but they quickly returned to their tasks when Six glanced at them. The only one still motionless was the man named Busujima, AKA Venom, who seemed utterly astonished.
“How does that profit him, though?”
“It could to be to monitor us, to demonstrate his strength, to put pressure on the main office, to discover our bases… It could be anything. But I bet the main goal is to gain an advantage in the next negotiation. At the very least, our face and tactics have already been exposed, and some of us have been caught too. I bet they’re all ready and just waiting to make their move.”
 – someone who is strong or brave only when dealing with those within their own group or in familiar surroundings but becomes weak or timid when faced with challenges from the outside or in unfamiliar situations