Though the Sister couldn’t help but feel that something beyond their blood relations was at work, at the same time, her cheeks slackened.
“But if that’s the case, then…” Shinichi said.
While the parents watched Shinichi, he seemed to have come up with an idea as he peered into his foster.
Everyone’s attention naturally focused on him when his words trailed.
For a moment, his expression distorted, but that quickly dispersed, and in the next moment, an entirely different expression appeared in its place.
“Looks like I’m going to be in your debt again, huh.”
How could such a face be described? If put into words, it could be said to be a “natural smile.” One without any forced tension or any insincere emotions, yet it carried a slightly troubled expression, and at the same time, there was something in it that radiated a sense of joy. It was a face that was just happy to be of help to someone who relied on them.
Monica found herself gulping when she saw that face.
It’s the same, she thought.
It wasn’t like the family reunion she’d seen just now. That was a smile that Monica could recognize precisely because she found a family in this place even though she was without one.
That was the smile of a person that was genuinely thinking of someone precious to them. The face of someone who wanted to do their best for another person. It was just like the face of the parent that raised her, a face that she admired.
“─────I have something I want,” Shinichi said.
“…Huh?” Monica said.
“Your concert tomorrow. Send a ticket of it to a certain girl, to a fan who’s been able to find courage since 8 years ago thanks to your songs.”
He had a very calm and warm look on him as he said, “I’ll be satisfied with that.”
Monica knew that he didn’t make that expression for her, but she found it hard to take her eyes away from him regardless.
She was mesmerized. After all, it was the expression that people like her adored the most.
“A face like that is cheating,” Myuhi said.
『I hope one day, Tomoe can be counted among his family too.』Shouko said.
“Sigh, this child really is a handful,” the Sister said.
Monica was completely oblivious to the reaction of the three while she looked on blankly at the boy.
A look back at the time before the fight in the living room beside the chapel.
It was a surprise for the members of that organization to find that Shinichi recognized them, while Myuhi, who explained their existence to him, was surprised to learn that he didn’t know about them.
Myuhi had known of a series of other mysterious assassination incidents, so with the threat that attacked the chapel and the sniper targeting Monica, she was able to put two and two together to guess that the Snake might have been behind this one too.
That’s why Myuhi sent a message to Shinichi while they were hiding in the living room, fully presuming that he naturally knew about them.
However, it eventually became clear through their conversation that Shinichi knew nothing about them.
Though her face was covered by the exoskeleton, and there was no way to see her face, her shock was genuinely conveyed through her words.
The person who had shaken the underworld to its core turned out to be completely unaware of the organization that was treated like a legend within the underworld. He didn’t even know their name. It was so bizarre.
That’s why Myuhi had to give him an explanation on the spot.
It might sound absurd, given how there were indeed members of the Snake in that living room, but it turned out to really be just luck.
However, Myuhi was used to coincidences piling up when Shinichi was around, so she just chalked it up to that.
As the reports would have it, the Snake was an ancient secret society that was so ancient that not even the denizens of the underworld knew when they were founded.
In comparison, Nameless was less than a decade old and has merely rapidly grown in recent years.
A criminal organization that has gained fame in both the underworld and on the surface could only be one that has existed for several centuries already, yet the ‘Snake’ remained shrouded in mystery to the point that their purpose and identity remained unclear. The denizens of the underworld even doubted their existence.
The history of Garesto even has it rumored that the Snake is involved in all the major events, assassinations, and disappearance of important figures.
It goes as far as to claim that the higher up one was in the government and military of Garesto, the more they would know about them.
Regardless, information on them remained limited. While they undeniably engaged in various criminal activities, the motives behind them, the financial and technological resources enabling such actions, and the organizational strength remained a mystery.
Furthermore, they did not actively seek to bring their existence to light, yet they also did not make any concerted effort to erase traces of their activities.
If one persistently investigated them with skepticism, at most, one might catch a glimpse of their tail.
『The perfect circumstances to create an aura of mystery and fear. 』
That’s what the Mask said, but Myuhi thought that that might not actually be the case.
On one hand was an organization whose presence was vaguely perceptible though the full extent and scale of their power was shrouded in mystery, while on the other hand, there was a person that operated so bombastically, yet their true identity remained shrouded in mystery.
An organization that revealed their tail, or an individual that remained shrouded in mystery despite always taking the main stage.
─In the end, which of the two was more troublesome?
Myuhi’s head ached as she pondered that, but eventually, she decided to just continue explaining.
It is believed that the ‘Snake’ intentionally projected a trace of their existence and influence to serve as a form of restraint, as well as a kind of advertisement to influential and powerful figures.
A known organization was more likely to attract people, resources, and funds after all. As opposed to one that operated in complete secrecy.
Moreover, various negotiations, both legal and illegal, would likely proceed more smoothly too.
Myuhi has also come across people that have been affected by their actions. They didn’t seem to care what organization the person came from, and their purpose also remained a mystery.
Yet Garesto’s investigative and intelligence agencies have only managed to catch a wind of their Tail, or at most, their Fang, which eliminated those who came too close.
Furthermore, even the names of these departments were known only through the sacrifices of numerous investigators, intelligence agents, and co-opted lower-level members.
The core ‘Head’ of the organization has remained elusive all these years,, and not even the denizens of the underworld knew more.
Typically, such organizations would have lateral or vertical connections, but the ‘Snake’ operated independently, with rumors suggesting that they might be secretly manipulating all organizations without anyone knowing.
While such a notion might seem like a tall tale, those familiar with the inner workings of the underworld considered it a plausible scenario.
The ‘Snake’ possessed something that made such a tall tale believable.
『A mysterious secret society, huh. That’s straight out of a manga. 』
『It’s no laughing matter. Besides, the real weird part starts from here.』
The mysterious secret society, Snake, possessed peculiarities that went even further.
It was an incident that unfolded over the past few decades, during the preparations for the interaction between the two worlds.
While the governments of each world were conducting secret negotiations, the ‘Snake’ on Earth and the ‘Snake’ in Garesto, both existing on their respective world, joined hands during that period.
『It marked the first-ever interworld organization merge in the history of Garesto and Earth.』
Of course, this was entirely unofficial and was not something that would ever become public.
However, government officials and individuals from investigative agencies on both sides of Earth and Garesto were reportedly astonished.
Not only because a secret society, akin to the ones they were dealing with in their own worlds, existed in the counterpart world, but also because they couldn’t fathom why an organization with the same name, methods, and structure existed across worlds.
Even if both worlds had developed civilizations with life forms possessing identical physical, intellectual, and spiritual attributes, the occurrence of such a coincidence was hard to believe.
Assuming such a happenstance, the perplexity arose from questioning how, even at the stage of highly confidential negotiations, secretive organizations on both sides could easily collaborate. Furthermore, the mystery extended to why information of their merge would be able to leak.