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── Seventh Day, Sirius Dome.
Ayato and company safely broke through the third round and splendidly succeeded in advancing to the main battle.
“Phew…… Well, it’s going well so far.”
Julis, who returned to the waiting room, sat down on the sofa and contentedly said while showing a tired smile.
“Yes, our team’s condition is also good; I would like for it to continue like this.”
Claudia also had a somewhat relieved expression.
As of now, Galaxy showed no signs of doing anything; to the point that Claudia even thought that it might have been just her needless anxiety.
(Or…… was the interview after the first match not that effective……?)
At any rate, she should be glad that it was tranquil and peaceful.
“But…… as expected, the other major contenders have all won through without exception.”
Kirin anxiously frowned as she looked at the preliminaries’ tournament table projected in the s.p.a.ce window.
Because there were still preliminary matches remaining, the teams qualified for the main battle were not all decided yet; but favorites like the Silver Wings Knights Squadron and Team Yellow Dragon have already safely qualified for the main battle.
“No matter who we’ll confront, proper measures will be necessary, eh……”
With Team Lancelot as an exception, the prominent teams have won through their matches while hardly revealing their true ability, but even so it was possible to come up with some measures by matching individual data.
“Well, since we don’t know the team we’ll face, it’ll be better to have a meeting after tomorrow’s drawings end, right? I must attend to the drawing, so everyone, please have a good rest tomorrow.”
Like the , the eighth day, also regarded as the middle day, was a complete rest day and also the day when the drawings for the main battle were held.
Saya pulled Ayato’s sleeve.
“I want you to accompany me for some shopping on our way back today.”
“Shopping? I don’t really mind it, but…… what will you buy? From my experience, I think we’d better not go out too much to the town at this period.”
The congestion was amazing in the commercial area during the period of the .
Moreover, it was a harsh environment for Saya who had no sense of direction.
“……I want to finish my luxes tomorrow. But for that, the necessary parts are insufficient.”
Saya’s work seemed to be finally at the final stage. Lately, Ayato has been worried about her condition as she seemed to be steadily working to catch up even at the expense of her sleep; but it might be said to be a relief if a prospect was in sight.
“I see; in that case, it can’t be helped, I guess.”
“The location of the store is here.”
As Saya displayed a map with her portable terminal, Ayato first confirmed the rough position.
“Err, this is…… ah, it’s near the Redevelopment Area. If it’s this neighborhood, there won’t be many tourists; but instead, the public order doesn’t seem that good, so it’d be better to get it over with before it gets dark.”
“All right. Then, let’s go at once.”
When Saya happily nodded, she pushed Ayato from behind.
Julis and Kirin were looking at both of them with eyes as they seemed to want to say something, but before long they sighed as though to say that it couldn’t be helped.
“Both of you, please be careful on your way.”
While hearing the words of Claudia, who saw them off with her back, Ayato and Saya, who fixed their outfits, left the waiting room.
“Thank you for your patronage.”
While being seen off by the shopkeeper with a grim face, they left the junk shop.
It seemed to be a shop which mainly handled second-hand gun type luxes and their junk parts, especially regarding the latter, even when Ayato saw them, he didn’t even know what they were used for, but Saya gleefully looked at this and that around the shop.
“……Yup, I did some good shopping. Looks like I’ll somehow manage with these.”
Saya, who valuably held the parts she just bought, had an overjoyed face.
For note, both Ayato and Saya had put on a hat as a simple disguise. Normally aside, currently this is during the period of the after all. It was better to be careful.
“As expected, this shop has a good a.s.sortment of goods. It was worth having come here especially.”
“From your way of speaking, have you come here before?”
When Ayato casually asked so, Saya nodded.
“Yes, once last year in order to buy my father’s birthday present.”
“……Don’t tell me that you came here alone?”
Saya’s poor sense of direction was strong.
He didn’t think that she could arrive only by herself even if she had a map and a navigator.
“I had Kirin come with me at that time.”
“Oh, I see…… wait, if so, then you should have asked Kirin-chan today too, right……?”
Saya puffed up her cheeks to these words.
“You don’t understand a girl’s feelings as usual, Ayato.”
“In the first place, even though we haven’t gone out just the two of us since the time we were children.”
Now that she mentioned it, it might have been quite a long time since he went out shopping with Saya like this.
“I see…… but, somehow it doesn’t really feel like that.”
When he thought back upon the time when they were children, he spent almost every day with Saya. Though there was the fact that their houses were next to each other, this was because Saya’s poor sense of direction was prominent from that time and he was asked to do various things by Saya’s parents.
And in return, Ayato, who was forbidden from attending the dojo by his father, had Saya tag along with him for his fencing practice.
When he brought up such a topic, Saya nodded nostalgically.
“Oh, yes. Even though I said that I was more compatible with a gun, Ayato making me swing a sword recklessly was awful.”
“Hahaha…… but, I thought that I failed even if I do say so myself. After all, Saya’s winning rate has increased considerably since then.”
When Ayato taught her the basics of Amagiri Bright Dragon Style fencing so that she would helped him for/with his practice, Saya immediately absorbed it and on top of that, came to adapt it into her own style. She used close range combat as a.s.sistance for shooting, thus the density between offense and defense increased considerably.
Saya and Ayato had many bouts in one way or another, but Ayato was the one with the most wins back then. Thinking about it, it was from those days that the exchange of “wish tickets” became intense.
“Even though Saya should just have officially entered our dojo. Even in those days, you had skills of at least the elementary level; and if you had continued even now, you might have gone up to the hidden techniques──”
But then, Ayato noticed a strange presence.
A gaze from behind them ── however, it disappeared as soon as Ayato sensed it.
“? What’s the matter?”
“No, it’s nothing. Let’s go.”
As he indirectly gave a signal with his eyes to Saya, who looked puzzled, while saying so, the intention seemed to have been transmitted with that alone.
As they walked for a while, though faint, they once again felt a presence from behind
“……Are we being aimed at?”
“There’s no doubt that we’re being tailed.”
“By any chance…… is it those guys that Enfield spoke of?”
Saya seemed to suspect whether Galaxy has set something.
In fact, it was no wonder to think like that as there was the Gustave Malraux incident in Lieseltania.
“Though I’m not sure…… I don’t think so.”
“This feeling, I’ve experienced it before as well.”
Several presences not particularly dangerous.
Ayato felt an atmosphere similar to the ones who tailed him and Sylvia during the School Festival.
“So, what do we do?”
Perhaps because this area was close to the Redevelopment Area, the figures of people were remarkably few compared to the center of the commercial area. Although there was pedestrian traffic to some extent, it seemed to be difficult to blend into the crowd of people and shake those presences off.
Last time, Sylvia and Ayato had parted in two different directions, but that was out of the question since there was Saya this time. Rather, getting separated from Saya would be troublesome.
In that case……
“Then, we should just make it clear.”
As Saya stopped while Ayato was at a loss, she turned back.
Then she took a deep breath and suddenly shouted out.
“──You guys over there! Come out!”
“H-Hold on, Saya!?”
No matter how you looked at it, it was too forceful.
Pa.s.serby stopped, wondering what happened and eyes gathered at them (Ayato and Saya).
“Oh c.r.a.p! We were found!”
Then, the group which hid behind a building and was watching the situation raised panicked voices and ran away into the back of the alley.
“……Ayato, we’re chasing after them!”
“Eh? C-Chase……? Ah, geez!”
He was certainly concerned about the other party’s ident.i.ty, but chasing after them here was too risky.
There was a possibility that it was some kind of trap and to begin with, currently it was the period of the . So, they could not afford to cause troubles.
Above all, it was just after they had finished a match today; and Ayato had released his seal once to go all out. Although they were able to settle the match itself without taking too much time, he could very much overdo it considering his spare energy.
That said, naturally Ayato too reluctantly ran after them as he could not leave Saya alone.
When he called out to Saya running in front, she turned her head only for a moment and shouted.
“Ayato……! Those guys are unexpectedly fast!”
If it was only leg strength, Saya seemed to be superior, but she couldn’t easily catch up with them probably because they were in an alley. Seeing as they were moving through the complex path without any hesitation at all, they were probably quite familiar with it.
(Which reminds me, something like this had also happened during last year’s ……)
Although, because that time he’d escaped with Priscilla, who had gotten entangled with hoodlums, it was totally the opposite from now, where he was on the chaser side.
Before he was aware, abandoned buildings stood in rows in the neighborhood and there was no longer any presence of people. They seemed to have completely entered the Redevelopment Area.
The fact, that, whenever they caught a glimpse of the back figures of the ones that they were chasing, they immediately disappeared again, repeated several times; and then they eventually came out of the alley and appeared on a relatively big path.
Saya, who moved in front, lowered her speed and Ayato caught up with her.
On a closer look, collapsed buildings blocked the path, resulting in a dead end.
Before it, a group of five people appearing to be girls stood there facing Ayato and Saya.
They (Ayato and Saya) didn’t know who they were as their faces were concealed with sungla.s.ses, but their uniforms and school badges ── if they were not camouflaged, that is ── were without doubt Queen Veil’s.
(Which means that their ident.i.ties are……)
At the center of the five-girls group, the girl appearing to be the leader fearlessly smiled──
“……We got lost.”
At these words, the remaining four girls sank down to the ground all at once.
“Aaah…… Thought so……”
“……looks like it.”
“Even though I thought it’d be all right with Miluše at the vanguard……”
“Geez, give us a break, leader……!”
Ayato did not really understand, but as expected he could not feel blood l.u.s.t from them.
At least, there did not seem to be a strong hostility.
“Errr, so who are you guys……?”
As Ayato asked so while being perplexed, after having looked at each other, the girls formed a circle and began some kind of discussion.
“What do we do……?”
“Now that it’s come to this……”
“We’ll be scolded by the board chairman again……”
“So, we might as well……”
Ayato and Saya waited five minutes while hearing bits of their conservation that leaked out.
Probably because they settled their talk, the girl seeming to be the leader took off her sungla.s.ses after clearing her throat unnaturally, and the other four girls followed it slightly later.
“……As I thought, it’s Team Rusalka, huh.”
Ayato sighed at the expected result.
Perhaps Saya also expected it, she snorted with a glum face.
“H-Huh, you aren’t that surprised……?”
The ponytail-haired girl who revealed her face ── Miluše blinked her eyes as she was surprised.
When speaking of a five-girl group from Queen Veil right in the midst of team battles, what would be a.s.sociated to that first was Rusalka. Besides, if the five girls’ statures were also almost similar to the data he knew, there was no meaning to it even if they disguised themselves to some extent. It was too obvious.
“……Which means, is it scouting after all?”
Saying so, Saying glared at them with reproachful eyes.
Although it wasn’t like scouting was prohibited in particular, but she hasn’t heard that much about partic.i.p.ants doing it themselves. It was basically the academy’s side which gathered information, because it would be troublesome if it came to a quarrel was something to happen.
However, Miluše shook her head with a puzzled face.
“Eh? Scouting? No, it isn’t that though……”
A strange atmosphere flowered between both parties.
“Aah! Leader, you idiot! Even though the other party misunderstood us, you should have just agreed with it!”
Though the girl with the smallest stature ── Monica rebuked her, Miluše, who revealed a face a.s.suming a defiant att.i.tude, said as to shake it off.
“I-It’s fine! We might as well make it clear here right now; like that, even we’ll feel rather refreshed!”
As Miluše took a step forward as is, she thrust a finger at Ayato.
“Amagiri Ayato! Tell us what kind of relation you really have with Sylvia Lyyneheym!”
Ayato unintentionally shrank back to the unexpected question.
“Hohou…… I’m also interested.”
For some reason, even Saya turned her scornful eyes towards Ayato.
“N-No, even if you asked me what kind of relation we have…… In the first place, why do you girls care about that?”
“T-That’s, um…… W-We just feel like it!”
It was an extremely willful reason, but then he did not need to answer as well.
“Sorry, but I don’t intend to answer to something private.”
As he flatly refused as such, the girl with sharp eyes ──Tuulia stepped forward.
“What did you say? Since you can’t answer, then as expected it means that you’re really deceiving Sylvia, right?!”
“We have evidence, you know? You were on a date with Sylvia in the last school festival, right?”
“Right, right! Monica and the others cleeearly saw you with their own eyes you know?! You two were walking while flirting!”
Behind the two tall girls ── Päivi and Monica threw jeering at him while waving their arms.
Saya’s eyes were somewhat cold, too.
“Moreover, you’re on a date with this girl today?! You enemy of woman! Know shame!”
“Seducer! Lecher! s.e.x maniac!”
“Why do you only know such words……?”
Though he was insulted awfully, the seemingly timid girl who kept silent until now ── Mahulena b.u.t.ted in calmly.
“Um…… I’m really sorry.”
That Mahulena quickly bowed her head.
She seemed to be more reasonable.
“Um, you see, if I briefly explain…… Amagiri-san, um, there are a lot of women around you, right? So, we are all worried about whether Sylvia-san is being deceived by you…… I am very sorry that we asked something private, but I think that we will all feel relieved if you explain your relation with Sylvia-san.”
“Even if you ask me to explain”
Ayato scratched the back of his head wondering what he should do.
“I’m only lending my strength to Sylvie; we don’t really have that kind of relation……”
“What do you mean by lending your strength?”
“That’s…… I can’t tell you that.”
Sylvia looking for her master, Ursula Svento, was a private problem. Ayato could not afford to reveal it just to protect himself.
“We can’t consent with such an explanation!”
Sure enough, Miluše snarled at him, but then Saya stepped forward as if to cover for Ayato.
“……No, I’m fine with it.”
“In other words, this means that Ayato has thrust his neck into something troublesome again, huh.”
Saya turned only her neck to look back at Ayato and slightly smiled.
“Hahaha…… well, yes.”
“Yes, then it can’t be helped.”
Then when she looked in front again, she thrust her finger towards the members of Rusalka like Miluše did earlier.
“You girls are misunderstanding Ayato. So, stop with your false accusations.”
“Mmm! Why do you cover for him?! Even though you might’ve been played with, too!”
“Ayato is certainly dense, meddlesome and softhearted and thus he’s quite careless about the consequences of his actions…… but, he isn’t a person who will trick or deceive someone. I know that better than anyone else.”
“Gununuh……! How cheeky even though you’re small……!”
“……a childish appearance is much better than a childish behavior.”
Saya’s and Miluše’s gazes clashed with each other.
At that time, Ayato suddenly felt the surge of a strong prana.
Rusalka’s members greatly jumped back as they noticed it a moment earlier than Ayato had raised his voice.
Immediately after, a sword slash ran through the wreckage of buildings which blocked the path and it crumbled down with thunderous sound.
“Geez, how annoying……!”
A th.o.r.n.y voice that would have those, who heard it, being atrophied resounded from within the cloud of dust rising up densely.
“Hey, Medurone! It’s really fine here, right?!”
The one having appeared while stepping across the wreckage of abandoned buildings was, contrary to the violent tone, still a young girl.
She would be about the same age as Ayato and company. She had unkempt long hair, eyes like a glittering sharp razor and a large sword with a sinister shape was grasped in her hand.
(If I’m not mistaken, that’s……)
Ayato remembered the girl and the large sword.
If so, then she was without doubt the one who released that slash earlier.
“Good grief…… please, do not act so rashly, Roverika. What does it bring you to uselessly use your power in such a place?”
The one who appeared behind her was a girl with well-kept hair, contrary to the first girl, and wearing gla.s.ses. This girl was slightly older than the first one and she had wonderful proportions and a calm atmosphere.
“You’re noisy; I just want to go back quickly. In the first place, you’re the one to blame because you want to go to such a place.”
“You are quite rude for speaking of that place like that. That place is the memorable grounds where Riberio-sama once obtained his glory. So, it is natural for me to at least check it out with my own eyes, right?”
“As if there’s a meaning in mere ruins. How worthless.”
The unkempt-haired girl spat out so.
“Hey, you! What are you doing suddenly?! It’s dangerous!”
Tuulia raised a voice of protest towards the girl.
In fact, one wrong move and the members of Rusalka would have been caught in the collapse of the wreckage, so one could understand that she wanted to raise at least one complaint.
But when the girl frowned at her voice──
In the next moment, she shortened the distance to Tuulia and drove in a fist into her (Tuulia) abdomen.
Moreover, the girl mercilessly kicked Tuulia, who bent her body in a く shape as she couldn’t bear it, flying to the side.
“Trash has no right to complain to me. Do you want to die?”
The girl said in a cold voice oozing out like midwinter’s darkness to Tuulia, who was flung against the wall surface of a building. And then, she casually raised the large sword held in her right hand.
Miluše went in to stop it, but it was late.
The girl swung down her large sword, and just before its tip was about to pierce Tuulia’s chest.
“You’re really crazy, you know that……!”
Ayato, who removed his seal, broke in and blocked the wicked blade with .
In addition, when Saya, who deployed a hand gun type lux, turned its muzzle towards her, the girl took distance while clicking her tongue.
“Are all mercenary students that quick-tempered?”
When Ayato set up , the girl ── Roverika, who was Team h.e.l.lion’s means of offense, twisted her face in displeasure.
h.e.l.lion was a mercenary team which partic.i.p.ated in the from Le Wolfe Black Inst.i.tute. She was a member of HRMS, which was a major PMC of Le Wolfe Keiretsu and has already settled her partic.i.p.ation in the main battle as well. Because he checked their matches as they were one of the prominent teams, Ayato naturally remembered at least the members’ faces and names, too.
“That ogre lux…… ah, I see. If I’m not mistaken, you’re──”
“Seidoukan Academy’s Team Enfield’s Amagiri Ayato alias and Sasamiya Saya. The girls over there are Queen Veil Girl Academy’s Team Rusalka, right?”
The girl with gla.s.ses ── Medurone indifferently spun these words as she continued Roverika’s words.
Although both of them had the school badge of twin swords, the uniform that they wore was not Le Wolfe’s. Their white and red suits were the ceremonial clothes of HRMS.
“Perhaps you may not know it, but the partic.i.p.ants in the are prohibited from engaging in private fights in places without protective fields during the ’s period. Even only your act just now is enough to make you lose your partic.i.p.ation rights, you know?”
“Ha! So what? I don’t care about that. Rather, I’ll feel relieved with that!”
Roverika set up her large sword with both hands as she ignored Ayato’s warning.
── it was the ogre lux said to have been used by the current HRMS representative Riberio Pareto, who had once won the , in his active period.
“Even if it’s an order, I didn’t have any intention to go along with the play of such trashes from the beginning……!”
Flames of hatred and ill will flickered in Roverika’s eyes, and her right leg gradually shortened the distance.
Having held her back was a new silhouette which appeared from across the abandoned buildings.
He had a quite large build and wore the same clothes as Roverika and Medurone. He was probably even older than Medurone. If Ayato was not mistaken, he was Team h.e.l.lion’s leader.
There were again two silhouettes waiting behind him.
“Nevilleworth, don’t get in my way!”
“I can’t do that. If we were to be disqualified here, it’ll also cause trouble to Dirk-dono.”
“As if I care about such a pig!”
“……In other words, you mean that you’ll crush Riberio-sama’s reputation. Roverika, do you want our master to lose face?”
To the intimidating feeling put into these words, Roverika turned her face away with an irritated look.
“For some reason, you seem to have been irritated since you came to this town. No, is it since you’ve met Minerville and that girl called Wakamiya Minato……?”
“Hmph! It doesn’t really have anything to do with those trashes! I just──”
As Roverika awkwardly started to say so, Tuulia ran past Ayato’s side and raised her guitar-type ogre lux while gripping its neck. A Trident type light blade unfolded from the body part.
“You b.a.s.t.a.r.d, how dare you hit me!”
“Kuhahaha! What, seems like you’ve a little backbone!”
Roverika, who blocked her blow with , opened her eyes filled with evil intent wide and raised a joy-filled laughter.
“Everyone, get ready to support!”
When looking, the other members of Rusalka have already deployed their ogre luxes respectively and got ready for battle.
“H-Hold on, everyone! Haven’t you heard Amagiri-san’s words from earlier!? If we fight here, we might be disqualified, you know?!”
Only Mahulena desperately called for self-restraint, but the other members seemed to have turned a deaf ear to it.
“Shut up, Mahulena! Our comrade has been hit, so there’s no way we’ll overlook it!”
Miluše, with eyes burning with anger, set up a guitar-type ogre lux like Tuulia. Unlike Tuulia, her ogre lux unfolded a sword type light blade.
“……Ayato, those girls are crazy.”
Saya, who came until Ayato’s side while being cautious as she set up her gun, muttered as she was amazed from the bottom of her heart. It looked like it was quite serious since it made even Saya, who was also known for not knowing self-restraint, go as far as to say that.
“I agree, but I guess we can’t leave it as is……”
If one were to judge it objectively, because there are chances that fellow teams might clash and crush each others in the so the best option was to leave and profiting from their fight. That said, since Ayato has already been involved in this, it would be irresponsible for only them to run away here.
“Hey, don’t run away, Amagiri Ayato! You seem to be the toughest one!”
While lightly dealing with Tuulia, Roverika glared at Ayato.
No matter how he thought about it, it doesn’t look like she would obediently let them leave.
“Good grief, every last one of them……”
Meanwhile, as Nevilleworth sighed without almost changing his expression, the surrounding mana swirled with an intense force.
“! Don’t tell me he’s a ……!?”
At least, as far as they watched of his matches in the preliminaries, he should not have used something like an ability. If that is the case, he has hidden it quite well.
“Do your best to evade it well. I don’t want to be disqualified yet, you see?”
As Nevilleworth raised his right hand, a huge ma.s.s of rock was formed overhead of him. Its size would easily exceed 30 meters. Blocking the sun which was about to set, its shadow was enough to engulf everybody present at the place.
“Uwaaaaaaah! Wait a minute, wait a minute! Everyone, retreat, retreat!”
Though Miluše shouted so while panicking, Nevilleworth swung down his arm without minding it.
At the same time, the rock, which stood still in the air, came down as if having lost its support.
“Kuhahahahaha! You’re the one who has gone too far the most……!”
Roverika’s happy laughter was drowned out by an earsplitting roaring sound and shock; Ayato couldn’t help but cover his face with his arms due to the violent raging wind.
“……They’re really insane, those people.”
After waiting for the dust, which was whirled up, to settle, Ayato put in the setup state and returned it to the holder on his waist.
Before his eyes, a large hole, which was probably on the size of one block, was opening its gaping mouth. Nevilleworth’s ability had destroyed the outer ground layer.
Although the Redevelopment Area’s ground became relatively brittle because periodical maintenance was not performed, it was not something which could be destroyed so easily. The power used to destroy it was unfathomable.
And when looking at the other side of the large hole, Team h.e.l.lion, including Nevilleworth, stood there as they observed Ayato’s side. There was quite a distance until the opposite side of the hole, and it was not something which even a could jump over.
The ability used was probably in order to have both sides separated like this, and there was no intent to attack. ──of course, still it was off-beat enough though.
After a short time, Team h.e.l.lion turned their backs and left to the opposite direction. But, only one person, Roverika remained alone and glared at Ayato’s direction, but before long, she caught up to the other members with reluctant steps as she gave up.
“Phew…… that’s a team I don’t want to confront if at all possible.”
He muttered so while wiping the sweat oozing down.
“Hey, everyone! Are you okay……!?”
As if responding to the call of Tuulia who was behind Ayato, short voices were raised from here and there.
The debris of the collapsed buildings were scattered around due to the shock just now, and the Redevelopment Area’s desolate scene was made more desolate.
“Well then, we shall go back soon, too…… huh? Saya?”
He looked around, but he could not see his childhood friend’s figure nearby.
Judging from Saya’s skills, it should not have been a situation that she could not evade.
Even so, when Ayato was about to sound out the surrounding with the state of “cognition” as he was worried, he received a call to his portable terminal.
『……Ayato, are you all right?』
“Yes, Saya, huh. Thanks G.o.d…… You too, are you all right? No, rather where are you now?”
As he opened the s.p.a.ce window, Saya’s face was projected…… but, the image was mixed with noises and awfully dark.
『I don’t know, but probably underground…… somewhere around here, I think.』
When he drew near the edge of the hole until the very limit and looked into it, it wasn’t so deep. It was about 20 meters or so.
When Ayato fell into the underground together with Kirin before, they arrived until the ballast area, which is Asterisk’s lowest part; this time, it seemed to have stopped at relatively superficial levels such as an underground pa.s.sage or drainage channel.
The rock created by Nevilleworth’s ability has already been disintegrated again into mana and nothing was left of it.
However, there were many holes which lead to underground pa.s.sages buried under the rubble. Moreover, the collapse seemed to continue even now.
“So, you’re locked up somewhere, huh…… This is quite troublesome.”
『……It isn’t like I can’t blow off debris of this degree with my lux.』
“No, if you carelessly destroy anything, we don’t know where it’ll collapse, so it’s dangerous.”
Even though they didn’t even know how deep she was, it would be better not to do anything careless.
『I see…… then, let’s think of another way. Oh, also though it isn’t very important, I have another thing to report.』
“Hmm? What is it?”
At the same time as Saya subtly frowned, Tuulia’s voice resounded from behind Ayato.
“Eeeeeh!? You’re locked up!?”
『…… Team Rusalka’s leader is next to me.』
When he looked behind him, a s.p.a.ce window was also opened in front of Rusalka’s members who formed a circle, and the face of Miluše, who seemed like she would burst into tears at any moment, was projected there.
“Then, there’s only the two of you there……?”
『Looks like it.』
As the other Rusalka members noticed it, they simultaneously turned their gazes towards Ayato.
“……This is getting more and more troublesome.”
As Ayato revealed a wry smile, he scratched the tip of his nose while pondering.
“……Anyway for now, rescuing both of you is the top priority.”
To Mahulena’s words, everyone nodded including Ayato.
Even thinking situation wise, because now was not the time to quarrel, Rusalka also consented to a temporary truce. Though, Ayato really had nothing against Rusalka from the start.
“Normally thinking, I think that we should contact the star guards and wait for rescue, but……?”
“Rejected, rejected! If you do that, they will find out that Monica and company fought here!”
Monica flatly rejected Ayato’s quite proper suggestion
Although she unnaturally puffed out her cheeks, her eyes seemed serious.
“……Well, it isn’t like we got ordinary people involved in it, so I don’t think that only one private fight will suddenly deprived us of qualification; but there’s no mistaking it that we’ll get severely scolded by the board chairman.”
Mahulena hung down her head with a sigh, but she immediately raised it and said as if having made up her mind.
“But even so, I agree with Amagiri-san’s suggestion. The safety of the two of them come first after all.”
“Eeeh, hold on, hold on, Mahulena!”
Monica pouted in displeasure.
“Jeez, Tuulia, say something.”
“……No, I also vote in favor of Amagiri’s opinion.”
But, Tuulia exhaled with a reluctant face.
“Eh, why, why?”
“It’s frustrating, but I owe a debt to Amagiri for having saved me earlier. I can’t be ungrateful.”
As she said so while slightly blus.h.i.+ng, she abruptly turned her face away after glaring at Ayato once.
“……Then, I also vote in favor.”
“Gununuh……! You are too coiled up when it come to distant things as usual, Päivi!”
Though Monica stamped her foot on the ground like a child, she crestfallenly dropped her shoulders after a short while as she gave up.
“Yes, yes, got it. It’s fine if you do as you like. Even though Monica was thinking for the sake of everyone in her own way, like this I’ll be the bad guy if I alone am against it.”
Her figure, when kicking a stone while sulking, really looked like a child’s
Though, according to data, Monica should be the oldest of the members of Rusalka.
『Um, that’s good and all, but……』
『……It seems kind of impossible to wait for rescue.』
However, Miluše and Saya, who were projected in the s.p.a.ce window, told so in meek voices.
“Eh? W-What do you mean by impossible?”
Mahulena couldn’t hide her uneasiness.
『Well, we’ve been hearing a disquieting sound since a little while ago……』
『……To put it bluntly, it doesn’t look like the ceiling will hold.』
“Do you mean that it’ll collapse again?”
As Ayato checked, Saya nodded.
『……Yes. But, the pa.s.sage continues deeper, so we can go there.』
The aspects of Asterisk’s underground block were different from area to area regarding depth. Though the subway network was very dense in the central section, it hardly went by in the residential area’s outer edge. There was at least a route which was connected to the central district’s terminals.
Conversely, while the underground pa.s.sages and the drainage channels were entangled complexly like a maze, they were stretched around in the whole underground of Asterisk.
But for security-related reasons, the present condition/situation is that the details about it are not made public. The underground block was under the jurisdiction of the Facilities Maintenance Division, and general communications were essentially cut there. The fact that Saya and Miluše were able to communicate like this was probably because they were near the large opened hole, and if they were to move in the depths, it would be difficult maintaining contact as is.
In other words, Saya and Miluše would wander around the maze-like underground pa.s.sages without being able to keep contact with Ayato and company as is.
“I’ll ask just in case, but what about Miluše-san’s sense of direction……?”
“Didn’t you see when we were running a while ago?”
This means that the two girls themselves with a poor sense of direction should be added into the present conditions.
A panicked voice was heard from the other side of the s.p.a.ce window.
When looking, Miluše had just dodged, by a hair’s breadth, falling rubble the size of a fist.
『Looks like it’s seriously bad. We’ll somehow manage on our side, so──』
As Saya said up to there, the s.p.a.ce window’s noise became more intense and it completely blackout before long.
Ayato and company, who were left, could only look at each other silently as is with faces filled with anxiety.
Although pale lights were lit at regular intervals in the underground pa.s.sage, it was hard to say that the amount of light was enough as the pa.s.sage itself was wide.
In the dim and sodden s.p.a.ce, only the footsteps of the two girls echoed.
“Hey, hold on! If I’m not mistaken…… you’re called Sasamiya, right? Y-You’re walking too fast……!”
As if hiding on Saya’s back, Miluše, who followed with nervous steps, protested so with a face about to cry.
“There isn’t really any need for me to wait for you.”
Saya flatly answered as such as she looked for an exit which connected to the surface while carefully keeping a watchful eye.
She’d heard that there were communication terminals for emergency use for those, who have lost their way into the underground block, but she could not yet find one of sorts.
“It’s not you, but Miluše! ……Well, that’s also a stage name though.”
“It doesn’t matter. You can follow me if you want, but I don’t want to hear any complaints.”
“No way……! I-I can’t stand such a place……!”
In fact, Miluše, who ran her eyes in all directions cowardly and busily, seemed to be quite frightened.
However, although it was left unsettled due to a sudden intruder, they were glaring at each other until just a little while ago. Though Saya didn’t intend to continue in this situation, it didn’t mean that she intended to get along well with Miluše.
“……I’ll tell you just one thing.”
As Saya stopped and look back, Miluše retreated half a step as she was daunted by her gaze.
“Ayato’s enemies are my enemies. If you want to do wrong to Ayato, I won’t show you any mercy.”
Then, Miluše retorted sullenly.
“Li-ke-I-said, Amagiri Ayato is……”
“I got it. If you say up to there, then I shall thoroughly tell you about Ayato’s splendor.”
As she began to walk again, Saya raised her index finger and began to talk.
“This was when I was around 7 years old. It was when we were training together with Haru-nee at the hill at the back of our homes. Because I’d been careless……”
“Um…… do I have to listen to it no matter what?”
“If you want, I don’t really mind you going ahead, you know?”
“After you please” when Saya urged her as such, Miluše fixedly stared at the darkness before her eyes, and then swallowed her saliva.
“……No, please let me listen to it by all means.”
As Saya coolly nodded, she once again began to talk fluently in order to enlighten Miluše about Ayato’s splendor.
And then, they probably walked for a full hour.
“──and when I saw Ayato’s brave figure rus.h.i.+ng there in the nick of time, he was like a knight on a white horse…… Hmm?”
“……Hmm? Is it over?”
When Saya suddenly interrupted her own story and stopped, Miluše asked in a voice without power with a tired face.
“……This place is different.”
Saya crouched down and pointed to the ground.
Some brand new footprints still remained alongside the wall.
“Footprints? But, why only here……?”
When Saya traced the ground with her finger, dust stained her finger.
But, it was only in this area where dust fell.
“Don’t tell me……”
When Saya stood up, she put her ear on the wall and struck it several times.
When she realized that there was eventually a strange reaction, a heavy sound resounded, a part of the wall slowly slid and a new path appeared there.
“A-A hidden door……? Why is there such a thing here……?”
Dust probably fell on this area when this was moved.
In that case, this hidden door must not have been used for quite a long time.
“And…… there was someone who opened it just recently.”
Saya muttered so to herself.
“Hey, hey! There’s something inside!”
When she turned her gaze to Miluše’s somewhat excited words, there was an inconspicuous darkish silver door at only about 5 meters deep ahead of the hidden door.
When Saya and Miluše exchanged gazes with each other, they carefully approached with neither of them nodding.
“This…… isn’t it by any chance an elevator?”
Miluše said while joy showed through her voice.
It certainly looked like a plain elevator at first glance.
If that’s the case, perhaps they might be able to go out to the surface like this.
“But…… it’s suspicious no matter how you think about it.”
“Well…… that’s true, but”
Miluše did a complete change and knitted her eyebrows as she said so in a low voice.
……It looked like it, and as she immediately pulled herself together, she suddenly pressed a b.u.t.ton at the side of the door with her finger.
Then the door opened with a dull sound and a 2 m2 cozy s.p.a.ce appeared.
“Look, look, it’s an elevator after all!”
“……I don’t know whether you’re cowardly or bold.”
“I’m afraid of ghosts! And even when thinking, I don’t know what I don’t know; so nothing will start if we don’t act.”
Although it was careless behavior, there was some truth in her saying.
Even if they wandered about the underground pa.s.sage like this, they didn’t know whether they’ll really find an exit.
“There’s only one b.u.t.ton inside as well, huh…… what do we do? Should I try pressing it?”
“……In for a penny, in for a pound. You should do as you would like.”
Saya also got into the elevator and prepared herself for the worst.
“All right, then here I press.”
When Miluše pressed the b.u.t.ton, the door closed and the elevator began to move with creaking fanning anxiety.
Then, they immediately realized.
“Is this by any chance going down?”
“……It’s going down.”
They had no willpower to talk any further than that.
As they both silently stood stock still for quite a long time whether because the elevator’s speed wasn’t that fast, or because it went down until a very deep place, or because it was merely a problem of their bodies’ sense of time, the elevator finally stopped and the door opened.
Immediately after, Saya and Miluše simultaneously became speechless.
This was because what spread out there was a s.p.a.ce so wide that one could hardly think this was the underground.
A field like a stage before any repair/upgrade spread before their eyes. The difference it had from a standard stage would be its hexagonal form and also the fact that pillars stood at its corners. The ceiling was surprisingly high and the six pillars inlaid with a pale light source stood towering over the surrounding as if piercing it.
The elevator went along the interior of a pillar, and Saya and Miluše set their feet from there to the field while being dumbfounded.
But, the elevator’s door closed as soon as they got off it.
When they thought “oh c.r.a.p!”, it was already too late; the door had completely closed showing no signs of opening again.
In the first place, even something like a b.u.t.ton could not be found around.
“Uwawawah……! W-What do we do……?”
Miluše was clearly fl.u.s.tered, but Saya kept silent and slowly looked around as to survey/explore.
When she looked around once again, the field was quite desolated and the pillars were about to collapse as well. Debris of various sizes were scattered here and there and from the scene and stagnant atmosphere, it could be inferred that this was a place which was abandoned long ago.
“Don’t tell me this place is……”
When raising one’s gaze, an audience seating-like s.p.a.ce was provided at a height that overlooked the field, and that turned Saya’s hunch into conviction.
While thinking back upon a story she heard from Ayato, Saya advanced to the center of the field.
── it was an illegal armed battle tournament said to have once been held somewhere in Asterisk. A so-called shadow where battles without rules that could be called as similar to killing each other unfolded.
And it was said that Ayato’s big sister, Amagiri Haruka fought there ── and was defeated.
Saya advanced as if being guided by something and found something which was under the debris where she ran her eyes by chance.
──Gla.s.ses with broken lens and a bent frame.
After having fixedly stared at it, Saya picked it up, dusted if off and, after wrapping it carefully in a handkerchief, put it inside her pocket.
“H-Hey, don’t leave me alone, I’m scared…… oh, what’s wrong?”
To the question of Miluše who ran after her, Saya slightly shook her head and answered.
“……It’s nothing. More importantly, we must look for an exit.”
Then, after who knows how much time has pa.s.sed.
“Ah jeez, I’m tiredー.”
It was Miluše who gave up first.
As she sat down on nearby debris, she complained so while stretching out both her hands loosely.
“There’s nothing like an exit anywhere……!”
It was certainly as Miluše had said, they searched until every nook and corner of this field, but they did not find anything that looked like an exit. This field was shaped like a thumbtack and it was supported by pillars as if floating from the bottom of the cylinder pit. A gap whose bottom could not be seen lay between the audiences seat, and it seemed like it wasn’t possible to jump over it.
“……It’s no use even if you shout. Let’s wait for help.”
Saya said so, and also sat so as to lean on the debris.
She reached the same conclusion as Miluše. That is, there is nothing that could be done in this situation.
“Haa…… At any rate, why did it turn out like this?”
“It’s originally you guys’ fault because you came to cause trouble for Ayato.”
“Like I said, that was……!”
“Very well. Let’s continue the story from a little while ago. This time, I’ll tell you about the story of when I got lost in town during summer vacation. It became night and it also began to rain, so I, who could do nothing but only walking around……”
“Wah, sorry, sorry! I got it already! I understand enough how good a guy Amagiri is, so please!”
“Then, it’s good.”
When Saya said so, Miluše grandly sighed.
“Sigh…… while saying such a thing, I suddenly became hungry…… ah, that’s right!”
As Miluše’s expression suddenly brightened, she rummaged around inside her uniform’s pocket.
“Ta-dah! I was going to take the cookies given to me that I wasn’t able to eat back home today! I’m great!”
What she took out in high spirits were two packages of bought cookies.
“……I see, I see. That’s great.”
When Saya ignored her as it didn’t matter to her, after Miluše fixedly stared at the cookies for a while.
Saying so, she threw one package of cookies over to Saya.
“……Why do you give me this?”
While catching it quickly, Saya fixedly stared at Miluše.
Miluše should have no obligation to share this with Saya.
“Well, of course I intended to eat it all alone at first.”
Certainly, if anything Miluše probably had such a character.
“But, I suddenly thought. Such guys often appeared in movies, but isn’t it quite uncool? So, I found it detestable.”
It was very simple, that’s why it was a reason which surprised Saya.
“I got it. I’ll gratefully accept it.”
Saying so, Saya bowed her head.
Both of them ate up the cookies in no time, and then time where they did nothing flowed as such. Before long, Miluše, who rested her chin on her hands as she was bored, asked Saya in a casual tone.
“However you, when it comes to Amagiri, you really get worked up, eh. Is he so important to you?”
“Does that mean…… um, that you l-like him……?”
“……Well, you may say that.”
“In that case, why don’t you properly grab hold of him?”
Although blus.h.i.+ng slightly bashfully, Miluše further asked.
Has nothing to do with you.
As she was about to continue as such, Saya changed her mind.
“──Because I don’t want to tie down Ayato.”
Even she didn’t really know the reason, but she said so before she knew it.
“? I don’t really understand.”
Miluše folded both her arms around the back of her head with a wondering face.
“As for me, when there’s something that I want, I will do anything to get it no matter what though.”
“……Then, what is it that you want?”
“Of course, it’s obviously the seat of the world’s number one!”
As Miluše stood up from the debris, she strongly clenched her fists.
“The world’s number one?”
Saya c.o.c.ked her head in puzzlement as she didn’t know what Miluše was talking about.
“I finally came so far! Then after I surpa.s.s that Sylvia, I’ll be the top then! What you call the summit!”
“Ah…… music, huh.”
After hearing the name of Sylvia, Saya finally understood.
But at the same time, a different question came to mind.
“But…… then why did you attack him verbally for the sake of Sylvia Lyyneheym?”
“Uh…… li-like I said, that’s……”
Miluše openly hesitated to speak and turned her gaze away, but after a while, she said with a serious face.
“……For us, Sylvia is a person we long for after all. I think it’s probably so for not only us, but also for almost all the students of Queen Veil.”
Miluše’s voice was calmer than it has been until now; Saya did not interrupt her and urged her to go on with only her gaze.
“Until three years ago, we were completely newcomers without any reputation at all, but Sylvia was already called the world diva at that time…… that’s why we’ll surpa.s.s her one day. I thought that for that purpose, I’ll do anything and I think so even now, too. That’s true.”
Miluše took a breath once there and then turned her gaze above.
“But, if Sylvia is really being deceived by some bad guy, isn’t it pitiable for her? It’s also true that I thought so.”
“……You’re contradicting yourself.”
Or perhaps should one say that she was too honest with her feelings then and there.
“Well, you’re right, but it’s fine, isn’t it? At that time, we’ll do what we want to do with all our power. Of course on top of that, I’ll also obtain everything I want. And then, there won’t be any problem!”
Miluše declared so as she returned to her usual tone at the end.
“After all, if I were to hold back my feelings, I’d definitely regret it one day.”
Saya opened her eyes wide to these words as she was startled.
Before she realized it herself, she extended her hand on the thing she’d put into her inside pocket.
“That’s right. Come on, it’s often said, right? That rather than doing nothing and then regretting, it’s better to do it before regretting it.”
Miluše refres.h.i.+ngly smiled while showing her teeth.
Saya answered to that with a wry smile.
“……In that case, do your best to the utmost in order to surpa.s.s Sylvia Lyyneheym.”
“That doesn’t go quite that smoothly, you know? Be it music or ranking, it’d be fine only if we could be above her in at least one of these two though……”
Miluše crestfallenly dropped her shoulders.
Saya, who was looking at such a Miluše, lightly sighed and said with an amazed expression.
“In my opinion, you guys are fighting in the same arena as Sylvia Lyyneheym. If you really want to win no matter what, it’s not like I don’t have any ideas.”
“Eh? R-Really? What, what? What should we do?”
Saya pushed aside Miluše, who held onto both her shoulders to the extent of firmly clutching them, and cleared her throat.
“……Achievements from the .”
“Sylvia Lyyneheym hasn’t won a yet.”
“Well, there was a monster in the in which she had taken part in after all.”
Needless to say that she was talking about the .
“Right. As long as Sylvia Lyyneheym is fixated on the , the chance for that is slim. And on that point, there’s a possibility for you guys.”
“! I see, if we win the , then……!”
Miluše’s face suddenly brightened.
“But…… this time will be impossible for you guys. So do your best for the next one and thereafter.”
“Mmm! How do you know that it’ll be impossible?”
“Because we’ll win the this time.”
When Saya said so directly, Miluše’s expression changed completely from her smile and she raised her eyes.
“Wha! Y-You, too, should do your best for next time! It’ll be we who will win this time!”
“……That’s not gonna happen.”
When the two girls glared at each other and their gazes began to give off sparks, at that time.
“Good grief…… to think that you girls really came here.”
A voice mixed with a sigh suddenly resounded from behind.
When they hurriedly turned around, a woman with dignified looks was coming out of the elevator of the pillar there.
“Guard Captain…… Helga Lindvall”
Saya and Miluše were flabbergasted.
Further behind Helga, there were also the faces of Ayato and the Rusalka members.
They all rushed over to the two girls with smiles of relief and delight.
“It’s good that both of you were safe.”
Helga also revealed a faint smile at that scene, but her voice and countenance immediately changed to a severe one.
“However, this place is originally off-limits ── no, a place where you can’t access. I will have you tell me in detail how you got in here.”
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