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Escape Chapter (I) is the 24th volume in the Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei Light Novel series.

Synopsis

Miyuki, and for the future of magicians, Tatsuya starts to take action――!

"Taurus Silver, a third-year from the National Magic University Affiliated First High School, is Shiba Tatsuya-san."

The video message from one of the Seven Sages Raymond Clark broadcast not only in Japan, it created great ripples around the world.

Thus, it can be said that the real "Project Dione" is a magician banishment plan. Tatsuya announces the use of a Stellar-furnace that was researched and used in the presented project "ESCAPES Plan".

In part because of Miyuki, for the future of magicians, it was Tatsuya who chosen this path.

At the same time, a confrontation occurs between Zhou Gongjin who should have died and Minoru. In addition, the Strategic-Class Magic of a Thirteen Apostle captures Tatsuya!? The greatest crisis is about to emerge for Tatsuya and Miyuki――.

Chapter 1

Spoiler
The video message announcing the identity of Taurus Silver to be Tatsuya, is widely received by both America and Japan.

In the academic field of magic, Taurus Silver is as widely known as Kichijouji Shinkurou who discovered the Cardinal Code; specifically the Cardinal Code for Weight-Type Magic. Whereas there is appreciation for Taurus Silver who realized Flying-Type Magic. Cardinal George is viewed to be the theoretical field and Taurus Silver being the technical field. In general, this is the view of Japan by the American Magic Association.

Not until now has the identity of Taurus Silver been revealed and also being that of a high school student like Kichijouji. This news has attracted the attention of those who ordinarily aren't interested in magic.

Raymond laughs sarcastically that the state of the masses in their reaction to the news is as expected on the net. Though he knows that a dark picture has been painted, he can't afford to enjoy it with his high school friends. The fact that Raymond is a Seven Sage, is a secret, and is only known by his father Edward Clark. He can't just boast to a friend.

As Raymond was getting up from his desk, security announced that his father had returned, and at that time he was thinking about having dinner with him.

Edward would only come home once or twice a week. Thus when there would be a reason for his return, Raymond would go to his fathers office. His mother divorced his father when he was ten years old.

As Raymond welcomes his father, Edward tells him that what he did was foolish. Raymond immediately apologized, he didn’t expect his father to be this mad. However, he didn’t stay mad for more than a second, and tells Raymond that his actions might be convenient if it produces results. Also, the way Raymond announced Tatsuya’s identity created a loophole for them to expose the privacy of a minor.

Raymond is glad that he was of help to his father. Edward then tells him that he plans to go to Japan and asks Raymond if he wants to join him.

◇ ◇ ◇

Tatsuya had watched the news from the "Seven Sage" at 7 o'clock in the morning.

It was only after contemplating silently for three hours that he decided to take action and called the Yotsuba Main House at 10 o'clock.

Maya apologizes for making him wait and says that the situation has become a big deal. Unlike before Maya would be the one to reach out to Tatsuya, but when she appeared on the visi-phone she spoke to him with a greeting and not as a person without feeling.

Tatsuya tells her that he thinks that they can't respond with just simply a passive response. She asks him if he wants to fight back. While lightly knitting his eyebrows, he tells her that he wanted to talk to her and that's why he called.

Maya didn't feel offended in the least, nor did her expression change. Tatsuya didn't show a hint of courtesy and moved on to the main topic.

Maya tells Tatsuya that though it's a little early that she'll have him picked up and that they'll talk over lunch. Though it doesn't matter to Tatsuya if they talk over the phone, or not.

◇ ◇ ◇

Hanabish Hyougo who came to pick up Tatsuya, guides him to the room where he will be having lunch with Maya. As Maya enters the room, Tatsuya stands and bows to her as she is seated with Hayama behind her. As they are served Maya starts off the conversation by asking Tatsuya if he knew about him. (She means Raymond)

[Illustration]

Tatsuya had sent in a report to Maya concerning his conversation with Raymond when he appeared before him and Miyuki during the Parasite incident. Tatsuya returns with a question, asking if Maya knew about the relationship between Raymond and Edward. Maya admits that she should have researched Hliðskjálf more thoroughly.

Maya then asks Tatsuya about what happened to the seal. Tatsuya says that the curse has been lifted, and when Maya hears the word “curse”, she had to ask him to clarify since she wasn’t expecting that answer. Tatsuya goes on to explain that he needed to release the seal in order to defeat this particular opponent. Maya isn’t convinced but isn’t angry either and asks whether or not he would have been able to defeat him without releasing the seal. Tatsuya tells Maya that since he won that his decision was correct.

Tatsuya moves the conversation on and asks Maya’s permission to make an announcement at a press conference at the FLT head office. Maya asks what for and he tells her that he will announce ESCAPES or “Extract both useful and harmful substances from the Coastal Area of the Pacific using Electricity generated by Stellar-generator”. Tatsuya explains that this will help protect the rights of magicians, but Maya warns him that this may stimulate the government in a negative way.

Maya agrees with Tatsuya’s plan but says she needs some time before he can move forward and says that it doesn’t have to do with the Branch Families. She says that there is a sponsor who is very close to the Yotsuba Family. Tatsuya says that it is Toudou Aoba and that he only knows the name. Maya is surprised but tells him that he must get approval from him before Maya can fully support him.

◇ ◇ ◇

After the meeting Tatsuya returned to Izu. Maya is in her private study along with Hayama, and she begins to discuss today’s meeting with Tatsuya.

They first discuss the release of Tatsuya’s seal without consent. Hayama admits that he see no problem with the seal being released, even if he did it without permission. He believes that now Tatsuya has been announced as Miyuki’s fiancée, he is tied down to the Yotsuba. Hayama asks Maya if she seriously thinks that Tatsuya’s magic will run amok at this given time.

With a complete release of Pledge, Tatsuya can fully demonstrate his magic at any given time, and it also makes it possible for him to use Material Burst freely. Originally the Yotsuba Family was afraid that if his emotions weren’t kept in check that Tatsuya could destroy the world in a fit of rage or sorrow. That was the original reason for the seal being placed on him.

This seal also took its toll on Miyuki since she had to use half of her magic power in order to maintain the seal, which in turn lowered the combat strength of the Yotsuba Family. Maya even says that as of right now Tatsuya’s skill at controlling magic is of the highest level in the Yotsuba Family, and possibly even the in the world.

Next they discuss that currently the only thing that will make Tatsuya lose control is if something were to happen to Miyuki. Maya says that protecting Miyuki must become their highest priority, and that due to Tatsuya’s power and actions that other opponents will be drawn to him. Hayama asks Maya if she thinks that people will come to assassinate Tatsuya, and she replies that there are already some forces already in an execution stage.

They don’t believe that Tatsuya can be killed and even call him immortal, but Miyuki isn’t. Due to their close proximity to each other she may become collateral damage. Tatsuya is peerless when it comes to a fight where he only needs to protect himself, but he isn’t the type of magician that can fight a tough opponent and protect another at the same time.

The fight with Katsuto wasn’t an easy victory for Tatsuya, he couldn’t neutralize his defenses with his normal Counter Magic. If Tatsuya didn’t have Baryon Lance he might not have won, this magic also puts a lot of strain on Tatsuya’s magic calculation area and it could expose a big gap in his defenses if used in concession.

In Tatsuya’s fight with Lina, he was hit by Heavy Metal Burst and it took some time to regenerate his arm. He also couldn’t completely counter Igor’s Tuman Bomba.

After thinking about what Hayama has to say Maya says that with the one exception, Tatsuya’s magic should go out of control and that it would be counter-productive to restrain his power again. Maya also says that the Tsukuba family must be frantic to figure out what happened to the seal as well.

They move their conversation on to ESCAPES, and Hayama admits that he was impressed. He explains that Edward Clark’s Project Dione was an ideal project and that it would be difficult to oppose joining if one is a responsible magician. Regardless of the hidden reasons, and regardless of whether it would fail or succeed, it is still a project that could help the fate of humanity.

Tatsuya’s project is another solution and is also a good way to counter Project Dione, even if it seems inferior. They also think that capitalists will prefer investing in a project that seems more realistic, and will turn into profits for them.

Hayama believes that compromising is something that won't be impossible to achieve. However, it would require Tatsuya to act not as an individual but as a representative of magicians who would have the right to govern themselves.

◇ ◇ ◇

After the reveal of Taurus Silver, the mass media has been all over First High School. They demanded to speak to Shiba Tatsuya but the school refused, which is normal considering that he is still a minor. Even so the media didn’t give up and continued to encroach on school property.

Miyuki, Honoka, Shizuku, Shiina, Minami, Kasumi and Izumi are looking out from the student council room. They are discussing their options for leaving the school premises, Shizuku suggests they call the police since the media has completely blocked the front gate. Miyuki disagrees and says that it will be up to the teacher’s discretion if they should be called. They have doubts about whether or not they can make it out without having to resort to their own power.

They need to use caution in how they act due to the potential risk of “Bad journalism” and decides they need to think of counter measures just in case.

◇ ◇ ◇

Needless to say, it isn’t only First High that has a massive media presence, a large number of reporters are outside of FLT’s main headquarters.

FLT responded to the mass media by saying they will hold a press conference in four days, on Friday at 10 A.M. and then kindly ask them to leave until that day comes. The press is reluctant to leave and complain about their freedom of press.

Inside FLT Shiba Tatsurou who is the largest shareholder of the company, is greeting a messenger from the Yotsuba Family who are the true owners, and it is Hanabishi Hyougo. After discussing the plans for the press conference Hyougo tries to walk out of the room but is stopped by Tatsurou.

Tatsurou asks what the Yotsuba Family plans to do “that child” (Tatsuya). Hyougo asks if he is talking about Tatsuya, and Tatsurou says that he knows that he isn’t technically apart of the Yotsuba and has no idea what Maya is planning.

Hyougo reminds him that Tatsuya is the fiancée of the next head of the Yotsuba Family and asks why he is concerned at all. Tatsurou shouts at him saying that he is the father of “that child”. Hyougo tells him that his role as a father ended when Tatsuya became the fiancée of Miyuki and wonders what his problem is. Tatsurou wasn’t sure what to say, so Hyougo continues to say that he didn’t even treat Tatsuya as his own child and that this situation should be favorable to him. Once again he reminds him that Tatsuya is the son of Maya and that Tatsurou never showed any parental love to Tatsuya. Hyougo says that this was the best outcome that Tatsurou could hope for (not being Tatsuya’s father), and Tatsurou couldn’t deny what he said and stayed silent.

◇ ◇ ◇

The media coverage let up a little bit by the time after school activities came to an end but there was still a considerable amount of them waiting at the front gate.

Kasumi suggests just breaking through the crowd, but of course Izumi tells her that she can’t do that. Miyuki arrives back at the student council room, and tells them that the principal will not be calling the police. They will have to deal with the reporters themselves and Miyuki isn’t confident that they will be treated kindly. There is likely to be many anti-magician fanatics in the crowd.

The student club activities president Igarashi enters the room, and informs Miyuki that all clubs have ended for the day and are waiting to leave. It is suggested that some of the male students lead the way to form a wall to get through all the reporters, but it is rejected by Miyuki. She decides to use her position as Student Council President to go on behalf of the students to talk to the press and convince them to leave and let them through.

Izumi raises her voice and says that it will be too dangerous for her, and Shizuku agrees with her. They tell her that she has a special relationship with Tatsuya as his fiancée and it will be difficult for the press to just ignore this fact. Shizuku is more talkative than usual, it shows just how serious she believes the situation to be and given her father’s company her opinion shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Miyuki suddenly froze and was concentrating on a vehicle approached the entrance to the school, and it wasn’t just Miyuki that knew who was in this vehicle. Miyuki suddenly tried to rush towards the gate but Minami prevented her from doing so, and when Miyuki returned to her senses she smiled at Minami. Miyuki and the rest of the student council were very surprised to see that Tatsuya had arrived here. He was wearing his school uniform and he headed towards Miyuki. The reporters all tried to ask if he was really Taurus Silver and Tatsuya’s answer was that he would address everything at the press conference at FLT.

The reporters blocked his way and Tatsuya said in a cold voice to open a path so that he could get through. Tatsuya tells them all that the press organizations all received complaints about them trying to interview students and that if they continued, they wouldn’t be allowed at the FLT press conference. Tatsuya also says that the press conference will be held in four days, and that it doesn’t infringe upon the “freedom of press”.

Suddenly a gunshot rings out and most of the reporters scream. Tatsuya with his back towards the reports holds out his fist in front of him, and when he opens his fist a bullet falls to the ground. The reporter directly behind Tatsuya noticed that he was wearing a black glove, and even if it was a bullet-proof glove it doesn’t mean you can just grab a bullet so easily.

[Illustration]

Tatsuya slowly headed towards the gunman, and the gunman fired more shots in Tatsuya’s direction. Tatsuya used Decomposition to slow down the momentum (vectors around the bullet) of the bullets to make it easier to catch. He did not try to apprehend the terrorist either even though he could have done so easily. The terrorist then tried to strike Tatsuya with his pistol but Tatsuya easily dodged that strike. The terrorist took out a combat knife next and attempted to stab Tatsuya in the stomach, but Tatsuya grabbed the terrorist’s hand before it could make contact and forced him to drop the knife.

By the time this was over the security guards finally showed up to apprehend the terrorist. The rude reporter from earlier was still on the ground and nearly fainted. The conversation among the press turned towards Tatsuya’s magic and there were wondering how he was able to stop the terrorists bullets with his hands, and some of them couldn’t even detect any magic being used at all. Miyuki’s first question to Tatsuya is when did he get a license to drive a four-wheeled vehicle. But if related to work/business a four-wheeled license can be obtained if the proper educational training is completed. With his position as Taurus Silver it was easy for him to obtain this license.

After Tatsuya puts Miyuki and Minami in the car, Miyuki begins to interrogate Tatsuya as to why he actually showed up at First High today. Tatsuya tries to play it off by saying that he figured the student council would have a hard time leaving the premises. Miyuki asks him “So, what is the real reason?” and once again Tatsuya tries to deny any real reason, but adds this time that he intended to show the media that he wasn’t afraid to show himself and that he was trying to reduce the burden on Miyuki’s shoulders. While she wasn’t completely convinced, Miyuki decided to let it go.

◇ ◇ ◇

As Tatsuya had speculated, the reporters who had surrounded First High slowly left, the threat of not being allowed at the Taurus Silver conference was effective.

After sending Miyuki home, Tatsuya returned to Izu. Tatsuya himself had not been keeping an eye of First High, there was someone else who informed him of the possible incident. And that person was waiting for Tatsuya at the villa in Izu, it was Hyougo.

Tatsuya thanks him for his hard work, and they begin to discuss what happened. Hyougo had warned Tatsuya that there was a terrorist that was going to make an appearance in front of First High when Miyuki was going to be leaving. However, instead of stopping the terrorist beforehand Tatsuya decided to use this situation to his advantage and Hyougo helped out as well.

Tatsuya wonders if he should have let himself get injured instead to make a greater impression on the media, but Hyougo says that the reaction from Miyuki after something like that would end up being counter-productive and Tatsuya agrees. This plan was to help out the magicians public image and to show the true colors of the anti-magician extremists.

◇ ◇ ◇

(Besides where Tatsuya is staying in Izu, the Yotsuba Family possesses another property. It's a small separate building that Miya owned and where she would stay and be watched over without being bothered. Among the Yotsuba, Miya was the only one with a special magic. Even while as a magician, she couldn't excessively use her magic. It was predicted that unexpected people would try to kidnap her for her special factor. The cabin was to prevent that. There had been three raids aimed at attempting to abduct Miya. They had all been repelled, and because of that the cabin wasn't difficult to build. Though after Miya's death, the cabin had been left alone and not cared for. Tatsuya had stayed in the cabin just the day before, but opportunities to use the cabin after so long had begun again.)

Yuuka had just been told that both the furniture and the fixtures had been checked and that there were no problems.

Yuuka was asked if she would start working soon after just having put down her luggage.

(That morning, Tatsuya had lunch with Maya where they talked about Edward and Raymond who go about using information as a weapon.)

Visiting the cabin and relaxing wasn't the purpose. She was ordered to fulfill her duty by the Head of the Yotsuba Family. The work that she was ordered to do was, to build a personal barrier to keep the mass media away. The type of specialty magic is Ancient Magic and originally not Modern Magic. However, the Tsukuba Family is particularly good at Mental Interference Magic among the Yotsuba. The conditions for the invocation of the magic is prolonged in duration and low in power even so that a Ancient user could create a boundless barrier.

It was dusk by the time she arrived at the cabin, thus it was completely dark by the time the barrier laying was completed.

(Even if one can use magic, it doesn't mean that they can see in the dark. Night vision is another skill in magic.)

Yuuka is surprised in being told that there is a suspicious person a distance away, whom she herself hadn't noticed. The person wore binoculars from their neck, and was wearing a navy blue shirt and pants that could be confused by in darkness.

From where they were viewing, Yuuka could tell that they were looking at Tatsuya. Yuuka's subordinates were aware of the man now when the influence of the barrier was complete.

(The barrier completed by Yuuka interferes with those who are trying to look at the residence Tatsuya is staying in. The principle is the same as the Ghost Walker magic used by Zhou Gongjin and Chen Xianshan where the eyes can see the person, but one's consciousness could not. Now for someone who had been looking just before the barrier had been completed would feel that the person had disappeared.)

Yuuka tells her subordinate to capture and not inflict any big injuries or to kill the person.

Tatsuya appears to the side asking Yuuka why she hadn't noticed him. Yuuka turned to his direction. She hadn't not noticed him, but viewed him being nearby didn't warrant any harm or that just thinking about the reason would be troublesome.

(The place where Tatsuya was hiding was within the premises. The area is widely used by the Yotsuba Family, though to be precise the Yotsuba Family secretly controls the real-estate company that owns the private estate.)

Yuuka is talking to herself is trying to not impose troublesome things onto him.

(Tatsuya is not only aware of the suspicious person, but also their existence.)

Yuuka thinks that there is no need for her to get involved into handling such matters. She exhales while sighing about the face of her cute distant relative.

◇ ◇ ◇

Yuuka tells Maya that the construction of the barrier has been completed without delay.

(Yuuka who had finished the interrogation of a suspicious person, went to report to Maya.)

Yuuka tells Maya during the report that since a suspicious person was watching Tatsuya, that she decided to catch the person and interrogate them.

Maya asks Yuuka who the person was and she tells her that it was someone from the Tomita Family.

Maya ponders about the Tomita Family which is one of the Hundred Families before commenting that they have an exclusive position within the Magic Association.

Yuuka agrees that it is indeed the Magic Association who are watching Tatsuya.

(When Maya nods with a faint smile, Yuuka feels a chill go down her spine while maintaining a subtle expression.)

Yuuka tells Maya that the person from the Tomita Family never had any intention of harming Tatsuya and that the Magic Association thought that Tatsuya would be going somewhere.

Yuuka asks her what she should do with the person and Maya tells her to let them go and that there is no need to process their memory.

Yuuka asks if she's sure and Maya responds that the Yotsuba Family will never forsake one of their own. Continuing on with her hoping that the Magic Association will remember that.

(Yuuka remembers and feels disgusted about the circumstances that Tatsuya has had to deal with up from the battle with Juumonji Katsuto, before then the confrontation with Katsushige and the Tsutsumi siblings during the Yotsuba Succession; which are just two situations of substantial oppositions where he's had to deal with including the plot by the Army Intelligence Department.)

Maya asks if that's all and Yuuka tells her that its all that she had to mention about the mission, but has something unrelated to talk about.

(Among the four candidates before who were to be the next Head of the Yotsuba Family, Yuuka is the best at responding to questions and answering back immediately.)

Yuuka tells Maya that her mother, Touka cares about the fact that the seal used to seal Tatsuya has disappeared.

Maya tells Yuuka to be careful with her words.

(Yuuka knows not to overstep her bounds with Maya. Noting that her mother has pride in her magical skills. Though that Touka as a magician is particularly prominent in that aspect.)

Maya asks Yuuka if her mother has a problem. Though instead of arguing, Yuuka asks Maya what her true meaning of her words.

Yuuka asks if Pledge was dispelled. Going on to say that it isn't a problem, but wonders if there was another way around it.

Maya tells her that there was no choice and in return her answer pierced through Yuuka.

Yuuka says that she knew that it could be dispelled in theory, but had expected that Tatsuya wouldn't do so unless Miyuki were exposed to danger.

Maya agrees with her statement.

(The Pledge System, it was predicted that cancelling the magic itself would cause great harm to Miyuki who keeps the Magic Sequence. It was unexpected that Tatsuya would take the risk.)

Yuuka tells Maya that at this point that Pledge can't be used on Tatsuya anymore.

(Pledge places a heavy burden not only on those who use it, but the person who maintains the Magic Sequence. Not just in a case where there is a recoil from Pledge being dispelled; in a situation where Pledge acts, it keeps the magician from losing control of their magical skills on a daily basis. Tatsuya can now use magic that would have before reduced the magical skills of Miyuki.)

Maya tells Yuuka that, regardless if she can or can't escape from reality, what can she do. (Maya's words are a bitter criticism to Yuuka and her mother Touka about how not just in theory that Pledge was dispelled.)

Yuuka agrees with Maya.

(Yuuka responded as such not because of the difference in hierarchy between the two, but was convinced with Maya's words of not being able to escape from reality.)

Chapter 2

Spoiler
Katsushige works as a staff member in Ministry of Defense, while his combat ability is high, his work requires him to formulate how the battle flow goes. The conflicts in South America, Central and East Asia, and Western Pacific has all died down.

Since there's no apparent threat in Far East, all staff members could come home from office earlier. This time Katsushige went to a hotel to meet someone. There he met Kuroba Mitsugu, Mitsugu wanted to talk about Tatsuya. Katsushige was there as a substitute for Shibata family head. Mitsugu asked for Katsushige's opinion about press conference that will reveal Taurus Silver’s identity. Katsushige replied that it was an inevitable course of action, and that Edward forcibly brought this about. Mitsugu expressed his opinion that Tatsuya should stay hidden in the shadows of the Yotsuba, and that he shouldn't be in spotlight. Mitsugu reasoned that if Tatsuya didn't go to First High, he wouldn't have been exposed to public, even though as Miyuki’s guardian he “had” to go.

Mitsugu also says that after the Yokohama incident, Maya ordered Tatsuya to stay at the Yotsuba mansion, but he refused and continued to go to First High. Katsushige says that without Tatsuya’s intervention in the Yokohama incident, that Japan would be suffering much more than it is right now. And Mitsugu questions that fact and says that Japan could have easily have won without Tatsuya’s Material Burst. Mitsugu also says that he understands that his magic is an indispensable weapon that will be needed in the future and that they shouldn’t hand him over to the USNA.

Katsushige once again asks a branch family head why they all fear Tatsuya so much. Mitsugu says that one person shouldn’t have the ability to destroy the world, and that it could make Tatsuya a sole being that could dictate the world. Katsushige disagrees with Mitsugu and tells him to be realistic about the situation, and leaves shortly after.

◇ ◇ ◇

It was around this time that the president of the Magic Association Kyoto Branch Tomitsuka Hitsui was going through a lot of stress. Before her eyes was a written request from Edward Clarke from the USNA to meet with Tatsuya who is Taurus Silver. She begins to talk to herself, asking what they want her to do about this. She knows that she has to arrange the interview and that it would be best for Tatsuya to attend but she doesn’t have the authority to force him to go.

She turns her attention to this Saturday’s event, the press conference called by Taurus Silver, and she has a bad feeling about it. She wonders what he is going to talk about, and once again places her head on her desk and says to herself.

“Why did this have to happen when I’m the president...”

◇ ◇ ◇

It was late at night when a phone call came in for Tatsuya. To Tatsuya’s surprise Maya decided to call him directly, this phone call was prearranged but Tatsuya didn’t expect that Maya would be making the call.

Tatsuya asks her if she received permission for Tatsuya to meet with Aoba, Maya says that she did, and that he will be meeting Aoba tomorrow evening. Tatsuya asks where the meeting will be at.

“Kyuuchouji Temple. It seems that Kokonoe Yakumo will be present”

Tatsuya couldn’t hide his surprise and it caused Maya to start laughing. She apologized and said that it was surprising to see his reaction. Tatsuya says that he is indeed surprised to know that his “Master” is going to be involved. Maya tells him that Aoba and Yakumo have known each other for a very long time. Tatsuya secretly expressed his deep disbelief and strong suspicion.

Tatsuya thinks back to how he came to meet Yakumo and his current situation, he was introduced to Yakumo through Kazama, and not by the Yotsuba family. The Yotsuba family and the Independent Magic Equipped Battalion have a close relationship and the Independent Magic Equipped Battalion has an adverse relationship with the Ten Master Clans.

Tatsuya and Yakumo don’t have the typical Master-Student relationship. He was brought to Yakumo for magic martial arts training, and Yakumo isn’t allowed to teach him any new magic techniques. However, Tatsuya is allowed to ask questions and be given guidance, but he doesn’t always get an answer or the training he desires. But he has learned many things from Yakumo, especially “Far Strike”, which was created as a countermeasure against the Parasites.

With this new information Tatsuya couldn’t help but begin to suspect his relationship with Yakumo, and how much trust he could place in him. Maya bids Tatsuya goodnight and reminds him that the meeting will be tomorrow evening at Kyuuchouji Temple.

Chapter 3

Spoiler
The people’s interest in Taurus Silver and his new identity as Shiba Tatsuya was still the main topic of everyone in the magic community. Magicians however are still in the vast minority, and for those without magic, you will find them relying on magicians from time to time when it comes to engineering, executives, politicians, military services and civil servants. But in recent years the anti-magician movement has been on the up-rise even though most of these people have indirectly receiving benefits due to the magic community.

Magic is not an essential factor for modern social life, at least in an environment where you can live peacefully. Even if one high school student who has been claimed to be Taurus Silver is going to propose a future that goes against the normal way of things, to most people this is just another story.

At 6:45pm Tatsuya arrived at Yakumo’s temple and started to head up the long stairway to the top. Tatsuya isn’t accompanied by anyone, it was one of the conditions given from Aoba. Shortly after starting his ascent Tatsuya observed his surroundings to make sure he wasn’t followed or was being watched by any surveillance equipment.

The reason for Tatsuya’s early arrival is due to the fact that he clearly understands what is going to happen before he speaks with Aoba. Even if this meeting is supposed to be between Tatsuya and Aoba, Tatsuya realizes that once Yakumo is involved he will be subjected to some sort of prank or training practice before meeting with Aoba.

Unfortunately Tatsuya’s guess proved to be right, and halfway up the steps Tatsuya is exposed to an illusion. Tatsuya realizes that this is Ancient Magic. With his sight Tatsuya can see that reality and the illusion are overlapping. Spiritual Interference Magic which works on the information body through the use of pushions. Tatsuya is not fit for Spirit Magic, but if he can view the magical invocation before it’s completed he can defend himself by interfering with the technique or canceling it out altogether. If Tatsuya didn’t have these abilities he would have become a prisoner to the illusion.

Knowing Yakumo he was never expecting this illusion to stop Tatsuya and so he will be planning his next attack, just then from both the left and right a burst of air is launched at Tatsuya, but it isn’t a vacuum blade, but magic that is supporting some crushed stone in the shape of a plate. Tatsuya immediately decomposes these attacks. Next comes an arrow from out of the dark, Tatsuya couldn’t hear the bowstring so he figures that the sound must have been erased using magic or that it is a bow that was made to not make a sound when drew. As he was pondering this a large number of arrows are heading towards Tatsuya and he begins to decompose them. While getting rid of the arrows he realizes that some of the attacks are illusions that interfere with the information dimension, it is similar to the magic “Parade” that Lina is good at.

Tatsuya finally has caught a hold of Yakumo’s position for the first time since this fight began. Tatsuya begins a close range melee fight with him, but Yakumo has the high ground and that advantage is not good for Tatsuya. Tatsuya decides to leap over Yakumo but by doing so he leaves his back exposed, and just before Yakumo could hit him, Tatsuya flash casts move-type magic to move sixty centimeters ahead of Yakumo’s strike.

With Yakumo missing his strike, Tatsuya turns around to counter attack with his hand at Yakumo’s neck, and Yakumo’s hand at Tatsuya’s side. They both stopped just before coming into contact with each other.

[Illustration]

Tatsuya tells Yakumo that this was quite the rough welcome, and Yakumo says that it’s almost time and that they should go. Tatsuya checks the time and it shows 6:50pm, climbing half way up the stairs and the fight only took 5 minutes. Tatsuya follows behind Yakumo as he leads the way up the stairs.

◇ ◇ ◇

Yakumo leads Tatsuya to one of the main rooms at the shrine where Toudou Aoba is waiting. Aoba’s head is shaved and he is wearing a high end business suit, he still seems well built for his age but the signs of old age have crept up on him. In his youth Aoba must have had a very well built physique. He has a very intimidating face and a piercing gaze, his left eye is white and clouded.

Tatsuya is immediately drawn by that eye, he recognizes it from one of his visits here just after the New Year, where he saw this man leave after having a meeting with Yakumo.

Tatsuya lowers his head as he begins the conversation.

"May I introduce myself if permitted?"

Normally Tatsuya would wait for Yakumo to make the introductions, but Tatsuya was caught up by the pace of Aoba just due to his gaze.

"Permitted."

Aoba has an old fashioned way about himself and speaks in a way that shows his authority.

"I'm Shiba Tatsuya, it's my honor to meet you."

"I'm Toudou Aoba. I've been looking forward to meet you too, Yotsuba Tatsuya."

Tatsuya still kept his head down.

"Raise your head. I permit you to talk directly."

Tatsuya lifted his head and faced him directly while locking his gaze on Aoba's eyes. Tatsuya took the meaning literally but Aoba starts the conversation.

"I've heard from Maya that there is something you wish to explain to me."

"Yes."

Tatsuya didn’t use any traditional phrases like "With your permission" or "If you're willing to hear me out". He instinctively knew that Toudo wasn't a person who was fond of such empty formalities.

"Let me hear it."

Ultimately, Toudou immediately wanted him to get to the main reason.

"To put it simply, it is a construction plan for an energy production facility that uses magic."

Tatsuya started with that line, and begins to explains his ESCAPES project.

Toudou didn't interrupt or ask any questions, he listened to what Tatsuya had to say and waited for him to finish.

"I understand."

Aoba says this after Tatsuya’s explanation. Tatsuya is also planning to use this as a counter-measure for this “Information War” being waged with Edward Clark.

"Then, am I permitted to go out before the mass media?"

"I give you permission. I'll also reach out to my acquaintance to support your plan."

"Thank you very much."

With that said, Tatsuya felt the need to be more cautious than happy.

He was having doubts due to how easy Aoba agreed.

There is no way this will come without strings attached. What kind of terms will he give me? Tatsuya feared the potential unreasonable demands.

"By the way, there is something I want to ask you."

"What is that?"

Tatsuya responded without changing his expression. He figured Toudou wanted to attach some conditions to this and was ready for that.

Regardless Toudou realized the disturbance within Tatsuya but didn't capitalize on that.

"From your explanation earlier, you aren't seeking the cooperation from any government agencies."

"Yes."

To be exact, as long they weren't hindering the project, Tatsuya didn’t see the need to involve government agencies at all. He didn't need any governmental authorities, but he didn't bother to correct Toudou.

"It isn’t limited to energy plants. Your ability, its power is incomparable. It's not something that any individual has. Essentially, it’s only the government who should have that kind of power."

Tatsuya didn't refute it. He himself thought that it’s as Toudou says.

Even so, Tatsuya didn't think of discarding his ability.

"With that power, what are you going to do? What do you desire?"

"A comfortable daily life."

Tatsuya didn't even hesitate in his answer.

Hearing that answer, Toudou expressed displeasure with his brow.

"So your saying that you are using that power only for yourself. Are you not interested in keeping peace for the public or country's existence?"

“One can’t life a comfortable life without peace. For this country's existence to remain, maintaining social order is indispensable for that."

"So you’re implying that, you're not against and if needed you will lend your power to the nation."

"I don't intent to say something so selfish like that... But when there's necessity whether for defending the country or public peace keeping, it's like you say."

"Then, that's good. Yotsuba Tatsuya."

While still face-to-face with each other, Toudou called Tatsuya as “Yotsuba Tatsuya”. From Toudo's expression, Tatsuya knew Toudou was doing that intentionally.

"What I want from you is still the same. I want your power to be used as a deterrent for this country."

Hearing this, Tatsuya was confused.

Just what does he mean by “deterrent”? Is he implying the need to publicly state the Strategic-Class M "Material Burst" user? But then it wouldn’t be "still the same" as Aoba said before.

"--So I need to admit publicly that I'm a Strategic-Class Magician, is that what you mean?"

Tatsuya didn't waste any time thinking about it and wanted to confirm with Toudou directly about what he meant.

"It is unnecessary as of now. But there may come a time when it is a necessity."

"Then, would it be similar to repelling another military invasion? Just like in the fall two years ago?"

"Deterrence is the ability to prevent any actual invasion itself before the thought of invasion is even considered. If the invasion happens, that's simply military power, not deterrence."

But this too, apparently wasn’t what Toudou wanted.

"Did you really not know?"

"Shamefully."

It wasn't like Tatsuya didn't understand all of what Toudo said, but Tatsuya chose to have Toudou explain it clearly himself.

“For you, it's not something difficult to understand. Restraining other countries through fear."

I see, Tatsuya understood this in his heart. It was almost the same answer that he had deduced.

Apparently Toudou wants Tatsuya to play the role of a Demon-King. However, it is not the Demon King in an RPG that is killed by a hero. It's more like a transcendental being who can cause disasters/maladies by simply being touched.

"Your Excellency has said that there is a need for a deterrent, but in order to instill fear, isn't it necessary to display power befitting of that?"

"If displaying that power is necessary, then usage can't be avoided. Leave that decision to the others."

To achieve that, it seemed they would need to take advantage of the situation with whatever means possible.

Tatsuya recently has thought that deterrence was a necessary evil.

Magicians’ role in the military field would be changed to public achievement.

If a country’s magician strength is lacking,smaller countries might not be able to compete with the military might of a larger country. Unfortunately it isn’t easy to forecast the future and the major powers around the world may enter another era of war.

If this happens, magicians will be once again turned into weapons, and the progress made for magicians to be freed of this will be lost.

In order to avoid such a future, it may become inevitable for Tatsuya to become a deterrent in order to protect the future of magicians. Tatsuya was thinking this before answering Toudou.

If he functions as that deterrent, Toudou will not only support his ESCAPES plan, but he will indirectly support the first step of his plan to release magicians from their fate as weapons. Tatsuya has no reason refuse.

"As you wish."

Tatsuya replied as such, clearly expressing that he accepted the terms.

"May I speak?"

Yakumo who didn't say anything until now finally spoke.

"What you will get out of this is loneliness."

"That doesn’t matter."

There is only one person that matters to Tatsuya. As long that person stood by his side, he wouldn't feel lonely. Tatsuya's heart was created that way. And also, that one person --Miyuki, wouldn't leave his side, he knew that. Not even death could tear them apart. He wouldn't let it.

The loneliness of others couldn’t make Tatsuya hesitate. Yakumo’s warning wasn’t a concern for Tatsuya.

"This meeting is concluded."

It seemed Yakumo had some other things to say but Toudou decided to wrap things up.

"Your Excellency. What precisely should I do first?"

Tatsuya didn’t intend to continue the conversation with Yakumo. Tatsuya understood the worries of Yakumo but it was more important to avoid an argument that would leave a bad taste in his present company.

"I'm not intending to give you any orders. So think about your choices, and decide necessarily what you should do."

It may have sounded like Toudou was giving Tatsuya free reign to do whatever he wanted. But, he is subtlety telling him that he will support him as long as his efforts are beneficial for both parties involved. If there are any inconveniences Tatsuya will have to take responsibility himself.

"Understood."

"Hmm, well I'll talk to someone I know. This has been a fruitful meeting."

"So, may I excuse myself from here?"

"Permitted.”

Tatsuya rises and bows once again, while keeping his face down he turns around and leaves the room.

◇ ◇ ◇

After Yakumo lead Tatsuya out of the room, he came back to talk to Aoba.

Yakumo sets a cup of tea in front of Aoba, and Yakumo starts off the conversation. Being a sponsor of the Yotsuba family, Toudou Aoba is in a position where he has detailed information on Tatsuya. Aoba says that “It is broken beyond expectation”, which Yakumo found funny and then asks him if he is disappointed. Aoba continues to say that because he's broken, not necessarily useless, and he made a comparison about a gun that has broken safety lock but can still fire bullet.

Aoba's eyes make contact with Yakumo’s, and his white cloudy eye is directed towards Yakumo’s soul. Yakumo says that Aoba’s eye strength wasn’t able to see into Tatsuya. Aoba comes from a very old line of magicians. It can be said that he is from the oldest family of spiritual medium users, and his eye can see into the soul of another. However, Yakumo knows that Aoba didn’t choose to be a usual practitioner, and therefore can’t fully control this power.

Yakumo says that he couldn’t see into the heart of Tatsuya and that the Yotsuba created something very interesting. Aoba says that even though it turned out as a coincidence, he ended being the ultimate one.

Aoba then asks Yakumo if he could beat Tatsuya with his own strength. Yakumo’s expression turned serious, and says that he has a 60 percent chance of winning and a 70 percent chance if he takes Tatsuya by surprise and lands the first blow. Aoba is surprised that Tatsuya even has a 30 percent chance to beat him, Yakumo continues to say that it isn’t surprising for a student to surpass their master eventually.

Yakumo asks Aoba how the tea was this time, and he says it that it was lousy. Aoba gets up to leave and says that he will come again, and tells him that he will see him out. Aoba says there is no need and leaves.

◇ ◇ ◇

Shortly after Tatsuya arrived back in Izu, it was close to 10 P.M. Tatsuya went straight to the video phone to make a call to Maya, he was expecting for Hayama or his assistant to answer the call but it was Maya herself.

Tatsuya tells her that he is back from the meeting with Aoba and Yakumo. Maya asks how the meeting went and Tatsuya tells her that he was given permission for the plan, and Maya followed up by asking what Aoba asked in return.

Apparently Maya knew that there were going to be conditions attached in order to gain the support of Aoba from the beginning, although Tatsuya would have liked to hear that from Maya before the meeting he moved on.

“I was asked to act as a deterrent against foreign countries.”

Maya immediately interpreted that to mean that Tatsuya would need to reveal himself as a Strategic-Class Magician, Tatsuya thought it was funny that she made the same misunderstanding as himself. Maya says that once he does this his freedom will be taken away, and Tatsuya tells her that he doesn’t need to reveal that identity right now.

Maya is thinking along the same lines of Tatsuya throughout this conversation, in the back of Tatsuya’s mind he is conscious of their similar thought process and wonders if they are similar or if it’s just a reasonable thought process.

Tatsuya goes on to say that now that he has permission he will move on and hold the press conference. Maya seemed very relieved that Aoba would help comply with Tatsuya’s plan, he figures that it had been weighing heavily on her mind for the past couple days.

Maya asks Tatsuya if he remembers their discussion in mid-April about the new construction going on the Yotsuba controlled Miyaki-shima Island. She suggests that this become the new site for his project, and Tatsuya doesn’t give an immediate answer. Tatsuya’s worry is that the Yotsuba won’t be able to manage this new facility by themselves and asks Maya if she will allow external collaborators. Maya says that if they keep the scale of this project low, it would be possible with just the Yotsuba affiliate companies, but if they look into the future they should bring in external collaborators from the start.

Tatsuya agrees, he remembers the size of the island, and that if this new facility is built on Miyaki-shima Island it won’t cause any commotion as well as make it harder for others to interfere.

Tatsuya and Maya say goodnight to each other, and Tatsuya thinks to himself that he needs to prioritize the promotion of the project.

◇ ◇ ◇

The general manager of the Hokuzan Group, Kitayama Ushio (also known as Kitakata Ushio) has a strong influence not only in the business world but also in the political world. He is a very busy person and is often called to various business and government meetings, but the person who reached out to him for a meeting is someone that he can’t ignore. Ushio cancelled all his plans for the rest of the day to meet this individual at a restaurant in Tokyo.

Toudou Aoba. A person who’s name is known only to a few, and rarely ever seen in the spotlight. But for the select few that have come into contact with him are aware of his power and the influence he holds.

Fortunately Ushio has never crossed paths in terms of competition with Aoba. The founder of a start-up company that was a direct competitor of Ushio lost all of his property and business when he neglected to recognize the power Aoba held. Aoba even went as far as to have the person imprisoned. Ushio says that he is honored to meet with Aoba, and he responds by saying that he’s sorry for calling him on such short notice.

Toudou Aoba is in his 60’s and Ushio is in his early 50’s. It isn’t strange that Ushio is showing him respect considering his age alone, but it’s not often Ushio shows this kind of attitude. The restaurant that Aoba picked today is a very high end restaurant known for its discretion and privacy.

Ushio asks for the reason for this meeting, and Aoba says that he wants him to help a young man with his project. This isn’t a rare request for Ushio but for Aoba to bring it him is the interesting part. Ushio asks what kind of project and why it has Aoba’s attention. Aoba tells him that he knows the person involved in the project and that it is Shiba Tatsuya.

Ushio was surprised but only for a second, he then asks if this is related to the invention of Taurus Silver that uses the Stellar Furnace. Aoba explains that Tatsuya is trying to release magicians from their role as weapons by starting up an energy production facility. Ushio immediately accepts the proposal.

Aoba asks him why he doesn’t need to think about it, and Ushio says that his wife and daughter are magicians and doesn’t wish for them to be used as weapons in the future. He continues to explain that if a war does break out that both of them will be called to the battlefield, and he fears this day. Aoba also asks him about Project Dione and why he doesn’t support the plan from the USNA.

Ushio says that Project Dione will expel magicians into space. Ushio doesn’t know if this is a conspiracy by Edward Clark but it isn’t a plan that he can accept. He also says that Shiba Tatsuya’s plan will not only help with energy production which is indispensable, it will also help raise the social status of magicians. From Ushio’s perspective if an energy production system centered around the Stellar Furnace spreads globally, other countries might lose their military power and capability. And Japan will have the trump card of Material Burst. Ushio doesn't have an issue with a loss to their military strength, he isn't a politician and believes that the loss in military strength can be supplemented.

Ushio asks for more details concerning Tatsuya’s project, but Aoba tells him that he should talk to Tatsuya himself. And when Kitayama asks Aoba about what kind of stance the Japanese government will take on Tatsuya's project, Aoba says.

"I won't let the Japanese Government interfere".

Chapter 4

Spoiler
Friday, May 31st, 2097.

Since early in the morning media correspondents have flooded to the FLT Headquarters. Needless to say they are here for the press conference that is going to be held by Taurus Silver. Even traditional major newspapers that do not usually show interest in the magic industry have come out in large numbers.

As the clock turns to 10 A.M., the venue door opens and out comes Tatsuya along with Ushiyama. Tatsuya stands in front of the podium along with Ushiyama and behind them is a large screen that displays “Stellar Furnace Energy Plant Project”.

“I am Shiba Tatsuya and I’m in charge of Taurus Silver’s software development.”

“I am Ushiyama Kinji and I’m in charge of Taurus Silver’s hardware development.”

There was an instant reaction from the crowd, they were confused and a person immediately says that Taurus Silver is supposed to be the name of one researcher. Ushiyama tells them that it’s the name of the development team that consisted of Tatsuya and himself. A female reporter asks why they decided to cheat the people, and he responds that they never meant to mislead the people, and that it isn’t uncommon to file a patent under the name of a group as well as to keep the personal information of the member private.

The reporter says that Taurus Silver was being evaluated as a genius engineer who has advanced CAD software ahead by 10 years in just one year, and that FLT never denied this. Tatsuya says that they never confirmed this rumor either, and Ushiyama adds on that information was kept private because Tatsuya is underage and it was the same reason that they refused all interviews up until now.

Another reporter asks if the video from the person claiming to be a “Sage” is true. Tatsuya says that since Taurus Silver is a team of two members that the claim made in the video was false. Another reporter asks if the TV published a false report, and Tatsuya says that the new information they have published today clearly differs from the video message broadcasted so it’s obviously false.

The reporters started to get worked up again and Tatsuya loudly declares that the Taurus Silver team is going to be dissolved. Immediately a reporter asks if Tatsuya is going to stop developing CAD software, but Tatsuya tells him that Ushiyama will continue with CAD development while he will be moving onto another project.

Tatsuya points to the screen behind him and says that he will be working of the Stellar Furnace Energy Plant Project. He explains that this a gravity control magic nuclear fusion reactor, which is a new business to widely supply energy for households and industrial use as well. The crowd begins to make a fuss again and Tatsuya waits for them to quiet down before continuing.

Tatsuya continues to explain that this plant is to be built on a remote island or near the sea. With the electricity generated by the Stellar Furnace reactor, hydrogen is produced from the sea water and transported to the mainland. In the process of hydrogen production, harmful substances in the sea are removed at the same time, he says he also wants to help with purification of the marine environment.

A simple animation is shown on the screen to show how the plant will work, and an explanation is played while the animation is shown, but it isn’t Tatsuya’s voice.

[Illustration]

A reporter asks about the concerns of nuclear fusion being an issue. Tatsuya says that it’s natural for people to be concerned about its stability so they will build the plants at a distance far away from the city. He continues to explain that it will require a substantial number of magicians in order to operate the fusion reactor.

A reporter asks if he is planning to have magicians migrate to an island plant or an ocean base, another reporter asks if he is planning to make a magician independent country. Tatsuya says that due to the nature of the plant, it can’t be operated with magicians alone, and the staff will also need to include more engineers than magic engineers.

They move on to Project Dione, and how Tatsuya will respond to the USNA National Science Bureau. Tatsuya says that Taurus Silver has been dissolved, so there is no way to respond. Tatsuya also says that Edward Clark didn’t ask him to participate, and the reporter says that it’s clear that Edward Clark said he was Taurus Silver. Tatsuya just says “Really?”, this fact was never supposed to be exposed to the public so Tatsuya doesn’t answer “Yes” or “No” and the reporter falls silent.

Tatsuya says that even if he gets invited to Project Dione, that he will not accept the invitation since he will be working on this new Stellar Furnace project. Tatsuya ends the press conference there.

◇ ◇ ◇

After watching press conference of ESCAPES project, Minoru felt admiration and aspiration toward Tatsuya. Admired him because of his strength against the pressure, aspired because he used that pressure to counter. Minoru felt anguish about his physical condition, while he felt he wasn’t weaker than Tatsuya in term of magic or theory. He admitted Tatsuya was strong but he evaluated himself without bias.

He remembered the time of Thesis Competition last year, when he didn't get sick, he even triumphed against Isori of 1st High and Kichijouji of 3rd High and won against them. While lying on his bed on his side, he remembered his adventure with Tatsuya.

He felt that very day, as if everything started for him. He then fell asleep. In that sleep he dreamed about being in car, while the car caught fire, he jumped out from that car. In that dream, he saw himself at other side, on Uji bridge. He immediately understood that he played the role of Zhou Gongjin in his dream. In that dream, he saw many scenes that Zhou experienced but unknown to him. Like when he was attacked by some girl with bob hair style (Fumiya), at her strike Zhou incurred damage which was also felt by Minoru. Then in another scene, there was Masaki behind Tatsuya, Rupture was used to blow Zhou legs, but this time he didn't feel the damage.

Lastly, he said "I won't be destroyed. Even if I die, I still exist!". With that last line uttered, he became a ghost. Minoru experienced the end of Zhou Gongjin, he felt pity for him.

But the dream didn't end that time. Zhou consciousness continued, his consciousness went upstream of the river. The ghost came closer to Minoru, at some point in the dream, Minoru is already back in himself.

"Become one with me!"

The bridge disappeared, Minoru stood in the air above the river. Minoru understood this wasn't from 7 months ago but is the present. He remembers this whole incident and was waiting for this to happen.

"Become mine!"

Zhou’s hands reach towards Minoru, precisely his hands sink to Minoru's chest. Strangely enough, Minoru didn't panic and stayed calm. Because he knew what happened and he knew what he should do. Him being the strongest of Kudou wasn't self-justified. At age 16, he already mastered all the magic of the Kudou clan have so he knew what to do.

"Go away, ghost" He rejected Zhou with Mental Interference Magic. In this dream world, his magic was still working because it's not physical. His magic blew Zhou away from him. Zhou's body doesn’t have his hand because his hand was already stuck on Minoru’s body.

"Give your body!"

"Even I know this is a weak body, but no way will I give it to you."

Minoru activated his magic, attacking Zhou’s meta-body.

"Hand it to me..."

"...How pitiful Zhou Gongjin. Let's end this."

He used magic which was used on the Parasite Doll and applied Loyalty spell.

"Obey me ghost, become my sustenance"

The loyalty condition applied was complete loyalty. In other word, with that spell, Minoru absorbed the ghost.

"Thanks. I offer you gratitude for giving me this knowledge."

◇ ◇ ◇

Tatsuya thanks Ushiyama for his help with the conference. Tatsuya didn’t want to stay at the headquarters for too long, he didn’t want to run into his father.

In the underground parking lot, it wasn’t his father that stopped Tatsuya it was a women from the Magic Association. Tatsuya asks if this is going to be a time consuming conversation, he has no bad feelings towards the Magic Association but since he wanted to leave this place quickly he pressed the situation.

The young woman that they sent seemed un-experienced, it was probably intentional in order to help persuade Tatsuya (by sending an innocent girl). But this is counter-productive since Tatsuya isn’t swayed but such things, also this women is clearly frightened by his gaze which shows she is un-experienced with men as well. Tatsuya continues to make his way to his car and sits in the front seat, he allows her to sit in the passenger seat and begins to drive.

The Magic Association’s request is a meeting with Edward Clark, who is coming to Japan tomorrow. She asks if he could come to the meeting tomorrow afternoon, Tatsuya who feels like he has no choice says he will come to the meeting. Tatsuya realizes that this problem won’t go away if he refuses, and decides to face this issue. The woman was happy with the result, and Tatsuya pulls the car over in order to kick her out.

◇ ◇ ◇

Tatsuya headed for First High, along the way he changed into his school uniform. After arriving he went straight to the principal’s office, he notifies the staff that he wishes to meet with the principal. Normally this would take quite a bit of time to process and arrange but since they know of Tatsuya’s situation he is taken to see Momoyama immediately.

Momoyama gets right into the conversation and asks if Tatsuya declined participating in Project Dione because of today’s announcement, and Tatsuya answers yes.

“Stellar Furnace Energy Plant Project... Isn’t there a shorter nickname for it?”

“Extracting underwater resources in the Pacific coastal region by the Stellar Furnace reactor and the plan to remove hazardous substances in the sea” in consideration of that, informally it is, "Extract both useful and harmful Substances from the Coastal Area of the Pacific using Electricity generated by Stellar-generator, in short it’s the “ESCAPES” project.”

“ESCAPES is a name that can’t be officially used.”

Momoyama quickly realized why the nickname ESCAPES can’t be used. Tatsuya confirms this and says this is the reason for the Stellar Furnace Energy Plant Project name. Momoyama asks how realistic is his plan, and Tatsuya says it’s already headed towards realization, but it isn’t perfect for escaping from Project Dione. Momoyama agrees.

Tatsuya says that since he is not accepting to participate in Project Dione that his condition for class exemption is over and he will be returning, but Momoyama cuts him off and tell him that the exemption doesn’t change. He once again guarantees his graduation and that he will be allowed into Magic University, so he should focus on his ESCAPES project.

Momoyama believes that Project Dione is meaningful, but that he can accept his decision if he is working towards helping magicians in his own way. ESCAPES is a way to present a peaceful way of life for magicians and the raise in social standing is no way inferior to Project Dione. Tatsuya thanks him, and Momoyama says “Good luck” as he walks out.

◇ ◇ ◇

Tatsuya left the principal’s office, he was planning to return to Izu but instead decided to go to the student council room. He hasn’t been away from school for that long, so he wasn’t feeling particularly nostalgic and sat down at his normal terminal.

“O..Onii-sama, no, Tatsuya-sama.”

“Tatsuya-san.”

It wasn’t just Miyuki, but Honoka, Shizuku, Izumi, Kasumi, and Minami who entered the student council room. Tatsuya says that it has been awhile, the last time they all saw him was last Monday. Miyuki asks if Tatsuya came to school to report about the press conference. Tatsuya was surprised that she knew and she says that she watched the press conference. Tatsuya tells them that he spoke with the principal about declining Project Dione and says that his exemption from school will continue.

Not everyone here had seen the press conference, it was held during the middle of class, so some of the more serious students couldn’t watch it live. The girls gathered here at the student council room to watch a recording of the conference. Tatsuya decided to leave and headed towards the library, he told Miyuki to come get him when it’s time to go home.

He didn’t want to watch himself on TV, he thought it would be very embarrassing and left the student council room.

◇ ◇ ◇

After school, Tatsuya met up with his friends at the school cafeteria. It isn’t only Miyuki and the girls from the student council, but Erika, Leo, Mizuki and Mikihiko have also joined.

The amount of gazes aimed at this group was completely abnormal today, but that is to be expected given the news. The recording of Tatsuya’s press conference is still being played on the TVs in the cafeteria.

His friends all greet him and begin to ask questions about the Stellar Furnace Energy Plant Project, and they also ask if there is a nickname for it yet. Tatsuya tells them that it’s ESCAPES and spells it out for them.

“Extract both useful and harmful Substance from the Stellar-generator, Extract (E), Substances (S), Coastal Area (C) and (A), Pacific's (P), Electricity (E), Stellar's (S) “ESCAPES “.

“Escape from what?”

“From military use.”

Leo’s expression immediately changed, he was specifically developed as a weapon. He understands that Tatsuya means for magicians to escape from the fate of being weapons. It wasn’t only Leo, but Minami also had a reaction change. Tatsuya didn’t try to hide his intentions from his friends, he realizes that they are understanding.

Erika brightens up the mood, and moves the conversation along to when this project is going to start. Tatsuya says that the project is already underway. They ask him about school as well, and Tatsuya says that he is exempt from attending school, but that he plans on coming back when things calm down. Honoka was very relieved to hear this and visibly shows it, which invites everyone to start laughing.

Shizuku tells Tatsuya that her father would like to meet with him, and tells him that it’s probably about the project. Tatsuya decides to meet over at Shizuku’s house on Sunday in the afternoon.

◇ ◇ ◇

In the end Tatsuya didn’t end up going back to Izu, and returned to their new place in Chofu. He has to meet Edward Clark at the Kanto branch of the Magic Association tomorrow, and also has to meet with Shizuku’s father, so Izu would have been inconvenient.

This is the first time for Tatsuya to stay the night in the Chofu building. Miyuki was rather excited about this, way more than Tatsuya was. Minami excuses herself for the night and says goodbye to them. The top floor of the building is entirely for Tatsuya and Miyuki, and the building is similar to a general apartment, so it has its own entrance.

As soon as Minami left, Miyuki switched back to calling Tatsuya “Onii-sama”. This is still the most comfortable way for her to address him. Miyuki tells Tatsuya to go take a bath before her.

After Tatsuya finished rinsing himself off, he felt the presence of a person behind the door, he isn’t particularly nervous because he knew who it was. Miyuki calls out to him and Tatsuya asks her what’s wrong, and Miyuki asks if she can wash his back. Tatsuya didn’t understand what Miyuki meant.

(Wash your back?)

(Who?)

(Whose?)

It was very rare for Tatsuya to be confused to the point where he was internally rambling. Miyuki opened the door to the bathroom, she had taken his silence as permission to enter. Tatsuya greatly regrets not answering, and not locking the door. Tatsuya could hear her footsteps coming closer and fortunately he had a towel close to him, and he quickly covered the lower part of his body. Miyuki excuses herself and begins to wash his back, for a brief second Tatsuya could feel her chest touch his back.

[Illustration]

Tatsuya asks Miyuki why she is acting like this so suddenly, and she asks if this is an inconvenience for him. Tatsuya replies that it isn’t, but actually it is an inconvenience, however he knows better than to say that now. Judging from her happy voice, Tatsuya’s judgement was correct. He then tells her that she doesn’t need to do this, but Miyuki says that she wants to spend as much time with him while he is here since she hasn’t been able to see him in awhile.

They both get into the bathtub and sit back to back against each other. The bathtub is big enough to allow them both to do this without any discomfort. Miyuki asks Tatsuya how long he is going to be staying here, and Tatsuya says that he will go back to Izu Sunday night. She then asks him when he will be able to return to First High School, and Tatsuya says that he isn’t sure how the USNA and New Soviet Union are going to respond so he can’t go back just yet.

Miyuki was disappointed when she heard this, Tatsuya could tell that she wanted him to come back soon. Miyuki than asks if she can come see him in Izu, and Tatsuya says that she can as long as it doesn’t affect her studies. Miyuki comments on how Tatsuya is like a parental guardian, and Tatsuya says that as her brother it’s natural to act like that, even as a fiancée it won’t change. Tatsuya’s poor joke causes Miyuki to callously laugh.

“Well, Onii-sama is the only one I can rely on.”

“Leave it to me.”

[Colored Illustration]

In the words of Miyuki, there is a bitter side to it because she can’t rely on her father for anything. Miyuki then asks if she can join him at Shizuku’s house on Sunday, and Tatsuya says that she can come. Tatsuya says that it will be important to have Miyuki with him in order to properly thank one of the first sponsors that will help his project begin.

Miyuki is leaning against Tatsuya’s back even more now, and Tatsuya asks if she is okay. Tatsuya is beginning to get worried that the heat is starting to get to Miyuki and suggests that they get out. However, neither of them want to get out first, and Tatsuya does not want to help Miyuki out of the tub in this situation. Even if he called for Minami it still meant that he would be leaving first, and he is worried that Miyuki would sink into the water if he didn’t continue to support her. After what seemed to be a long time he finally came up with a solution and pulled the cork on the tub to let all the water out. Fortunately on this day, neither Tatsuya or Miyuki caught a cold.

Chapter 5

Spoiler
Edward Clark’s visit to Japan was welcomed by many reporters, both Edward and Raymond eventually escaped from the airport and headed to the US Embassy. Afterwards they headed by helicopter to Yokohama Bay Hills Tower where the Kanto Branch of the Magic Association.

Tatsuya arrived at the Kanto branch five minutes in advance of the meeting, and he was soon introduced to Edward Clark and the two exchanged greetings. Tatsuya was surprised by Edward’s fluent Japanese, Edward is wearing a nice suit. He has the standard body shape and is about 180cms tall, and gives off a researcher/technician type vibe.

Tatsuya sits back down without hesitation, and Edward begins the conversation by saying that he was impressed with the press conference that Tatsuya held yesterday. Tatsuya says that it isn’t as special as his Project Dione, and that Edward’s project is a big project that he probably won’t be able to achieve even if he spent his lifetime trying. Tatsuya’s dialogue is hard to understand but he is clearly showing his opposition to it already, and while he doesn’t openly say that Project Dione is a plan to isolate magicians from society, it is implied in his statement. Whether or not Edward understood that isn’t clear from his expression, and the witnesses from the Magic Association clearly don’t understand.

Edward confirms Tatsuya’s plan about his Stellar Furnace Energy Plant Project, and Tatsuya adds on that he will be utilizing seawater in order to complete the project. Edward says that Tatsuya’s project is meaningful for the future of Japan, but that his Project Dione will benefit all of mankind and he would like the technological expertise of Taurus Silver to participate. Tatsuya replies that if he saw the conference yesterday that he isn’t Taurus Silver and adds that he should need to tell him that.

Tatsuya’s line contained a bit of irony since he knows about Hliðskjálf, he was told about it by Raymond during the Parasite Incident. Edward says that the fame of Taurus Silver derived from his phenomenal achievements in CAD software. Tatsuya denies this and says that even the best software can’t work with the right hardware to compliment it.

“Hardware is simply a box without the software.”

“However, it is actually the hardware that does the work.”

Raymond tried to jump into the conversation but Tatsuya had an immediate answer for him. Edward notices that Tatsuya doesn’t mind leading the conversation into another direction, so he asks Tatsuya.

“Since Taurus Silver was dissolved yesterday, I will give up on asking them to participate. Instead Mister Shiba, I’d like to ask you here and now, will you participate in Project Dione”?

Tatsuya immediately rejects his proposition, saying that he is already in charge of the Stellar Furnace Energy Plant, and tells him to give up.

◇ ◇ ◇

In the end Edward was not able to beat Tatsuya in the argument, he knew Tatsuya wouldn’t be easily persuaded but it was a miscalculation on his part that he wasn’t able to take advantage of Tatsuya. Edward admits to Raymond that he underestimated Tatsuya, and Raymond asks what he’s going to do next. They are currently in a hotel room at the USNA embassy, there are quite a few bodyguards protecting them, but this isn’t anything unusual considering Edward’s importance to the USNA.

As they discuss their options, Raymond mentions that assassination should be a last resort, while this isn’t a normal conversation between a parent and their child, Edward and Raymond often have conversations like this. For Edward the whole purpose of Project Dione is to eliminate Shiba Tatsuya, the Strategic-Class Magic Material Burst is something that can’t be ignored. They decide to continue trying to sway the public opinion against him for now.

They discuss Igor of the New Soviet Union next and say that this method will not work for him considering Tatsuya rejected Project Dione. Raymond suggests checking up on his using Hliðskjálf but Edward says that there is a rumor going around that the New Soviet Union has built a reverse detection system to counter Echelon III, while it is unlikely they will be detected they don’t want to risk upsetting their relationship with Igor.

Raymond asks if it’s okay for him to go out tomorrow, and when Edward asks where he plans to go, Raymond says he is going to visit his friend Shizuku from the Kitayama family. Edward was silent for a second, he was calculating the merits and demerits for deepening their relationship with the general manager of the Hokuzan group. Edward decides that it is okay and gives his son permission to go.

◇ ◇ ◇

The meeting between Tatsuya and Ushio ended in a relaxed atmosphere. Even though Ushio was helping out after the request by Aoba, he wasn’t forced to do it. Ushio also wanted to help raise magicians social status. At this stage they couldn’t talk about construction and operation costs yet, but Tatsuya provided additional information that wasn’t included in the press conference. Ushio was satisfied, and he learned that in addition to the production of hydrogen, the plant will also help with extraction of lithium, cobalt and uranium. Quite a few companies were researching into the collection of resources from seawater, so it was something to consider.

Miyuki asks Ushio if they could visit Shizuku, Ushio says that Shizuku should be happy to see them. A servant comes in to tell them that Shizuku is currently entertaining a guest from her overseas exchange student program. Ushio mentions that he was reluctant to entertain this guest but it wasn’t someone he could easily refuse either. Miyuki asks who it is and he says that the boys name is Raymond Clark.

Miyuki greets Shizuku as they enter the tea room where she is having a drink with Raymond. Raymond was surprised by the appearance of Tatsuya and Miyuki. Raymond mentions that he wish he could have talked with Tatsuya a bit longer after their earlier meeting.

Raymond asks Tatsuya if there is a nickname for his Stellar Furnace Energy Plant Project, and Tatsuya says that he could find out if he looked into it (hinting that he could find out with Hliðskjálf). Raymond says that he wasn’t able to watch the press conference, and Tatsuya tells him that the nickname is ESCAPES. Raymond asks if he is seriously going to carry out this plan, and Tatsuya sighs while saying that quite a few people have asked him that already. Raymond says that Project Dione was originally announced before Tatsuya’s project. Tatsuya asks if they are seriously planning to terraform Venus and says that it would take quite a bit of time for this project to be realized, they also have no reasonable transportation yet.

Raymond says that this is a problem for the world, and that if they come together to work on this single issue it could promote unity. Tatsuya replies by saying that even if the world is forced to come together, then war will only change into civil war. Raymond says that Tatsuya has no dreams, and he replies that he only has dreams that can be granted. Tatsuya says that he is a romantic and that Project Dione is a selfish whim of his that has a low chance of succeeding, and asks why must he must be involved in it. Raymond couldn’t answer him, so Tatsuya continues to say that going into space using the power of magic is Raymond’s dream, and Tatsuya has no intention of stopping him but doesn’t see the reason why he must cooperate with it either.

Raymond says that they should talk more realistically and says that his ESCAPES project doesn’t solve the issue of the Earth’s limited capacity to sustain life. Tatsuya doesn’t deny this, and Raymond says that while the space development is much more difficult it will help humans proper in the future. Tatsuya asks why space development is going to be the solution to population growth, and Raymond says that the obvious solution is to look for and develop other areas to be suitable for human life. Tatsuya says that the universe is a finite space, and that there is even more limited space that can be remodeled to suit human life.

Tired of this argument Tatsuya says that his current purpose to complete his Stellar Furnace Energy Plant Project, and says that they should work on their own goals and aim for space development if that is what they want. Raymond couldn’t refute this and tells Shizuku that he is going to leave.

“...Tatsuya. We will, never let you escape.”

“I will never be caught by you.”

Raymond says goodbye to Shizuku and then leaves.

◇ ◇ ◇

There is an awkward atmosphere in the room after Raymond leaves, Shizuku turned on the TV in order to try and help change the mood. But it turned out to be counterproductive.

Edward Clark is giving an interview on TV, he is making the same arguments as Raymond did just now. For the sake of humanity, all resources should be pulled into space development. He says that the Stellar Furnace is a wonderful invention, but that it should be used on the satellites of Jupiter. It will be difficult to replenish fuel and without a stable source of solar power the Stellar Furnace could be a great invention to help with his Project Dione.

He says that ocean development can be replaced with other technologies that don’t use magic. If they use offshore solar power generators and geothermal power generators it could accomplish the necessary power to run the plant that Tatsuya is trying to build.

Miyuki mentions that their stories are too similar and asks if it’s because they are family. Shizuku was surprised to hear this, and asks if they are actually father and son. Tatsuya says that it has never been confirmed publicly but that there is no mistake. Shizuku never met Raymond’s family when she was in the USNA, but just like any family it isn’t uncommon for this to happen depending on the individuals involved.

Edward ends the interview by saying that he would like Tatsuya to participate in this project in order to give a future to humanity. Tatsuya seeing through to his true intention could only think how ridiculous this all is.

Chapter 6

Spoiler
As of 2097, almost half of Japan’s Magician Research and Development Institutes have been shut down. Nevertheless some of the officially closed institutes turned into independent research facilities, the 9th Institute run by the Kudou family is such a facility. This place was used to study the parasites and helped implement them into mechanical dolls.

Although the Parasite Doll research was halted due to practicality issues, its performance was evaluated to be usable for real combat. The Parasite Dolls are currently in a dormant state and stored at the former Ninth Laboratory.

Sunday June 2nd, 2097.

An individual was approaching the former 9th Laboratory, the emergency lighting revealed the person to be Minoru. He easily opened the door to the warehouse, he didn’t need to force his way in because he was allowed access to the facility through a key card. Minoru makes his way to a room where the parasites are stored. The Kudou family which has been bred to have a hybrid combination of ancient and modern magic, are suitable for spirit-interference magic and they can perceive spiritual waves.

Minoru could immediately tell that the parasite in front of him was in a dormant state. He questions whether or not if he were to “consume” a parasite if it would help make his body healthy. Zhou answers him in his mind and tells him that he would be okay physically but mentally the parasite could take control.

The loyalty spell that Minoru used on Zhou allowed him to absorb his ghost, but it only makes Zhou “comply” it doesn’t mean that they have “united”. In other words Zhou is a second conscious for Minoru, like a spiritual AI assistant. Zhou mentions that according to the information from the USNA military, certain things are added to brain when a parasite is born in order for communication, and strong feelings or desires play a big part in how the process of absorbing a parasite works.

Minoru knows that he can’t overcome the faults of his body alone, which is why he came to the 9th Laboratory tonight. While he feels that the answer lies with the parasites, he doubts whether he is ready to control one.

[Illustration]

Minoru turns around and leaves the room, Zhou didn’t make any comments and Minoru didn’t ask whether or not he made the right decision.

◇ ◇ ◇

After his appearance on television Edward returned home with his son. He arrived back in Los Angeles and from there went to the National Science Bureau. Edward technically doesn’t have a “boss” and doesn’t have to report to anyone. The bureau chief doesn’t even know what Edward is doing a majority of the time.

The room that Edward enters is his own private study, and it was originally a measure to keep Echelon III’s secrets from his own colleagues. But now this room is being used primarily to advance countermeasures against Japan’s Strategic-Class Magic.

Edward heads to the videophone in the room and calls Igor. After greetings they discuss the fact that Tatsuya has refused to participate in Project Dione, and Igor says that he was watching the press conference in real time. Edward realizes that there was no way Igor wouldn’t be interested in the conference held by Tatsuya but it was surprising to him that he watched it live. Edward guesses that Igor has already started advancing his own countermeasures. Igor teases Edward by saying that the Stellar Furnace Energy Plant Project is fascinating and that he would like to offer a joint research proposal, but then says he was kidding when Edward showed a painful look on his face.

Igor continues to say that there is no hiding the fact that Tatsuya’s project is fascinating and that it will be hard to expel him into space at this point. Edward says that his Project Dione hasn’t been dismissed yet, he plans to use his influence to make sure the Japanese government won’t build this plant. He also asks for Igor to continue his support for Edward and his project.

Igor says that he has his own plan to neutralize this Strategic-Class Magician, and Edward immediately objects. Igor tells him that he will just keep watching for now and will act accordingly with his own discretion, Edward felt some relief towards this statement.

If Igor failed in his attempt to assassinate Tatsuya it could cause him a lot of problems. However, this is no problem with the plan if he succeeds, the USNA would very much appreciate it if Igor killed Tatsuya. But if he fails it would turn suspicion towards Edward. Igor may be confident that he will not leave any trace behind but his Strategic-Class Magic is known to the world, it wouldn’t take much for Tatsuya to turn eyes towards Edward.

Igor was the first person to openly support Edward for Project Dione, and if he is caught trying to kill Tatsuya then Edward would be indirectly involved. Igor says that if it is impossible to drag Tatsuya into Project Dione, then Japan will have made it choice, and he will use whatever means it takes to resolve the threat of the mass to energy conversion magician. In other words he will use Tuman Bomba to solve this issue.

Igor tells Edward that he must go now, and hangs up. Edward prepares to make another call, and is clearly frustrated.

◇ ◇ ◇

The officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited the Magic Association of Kyoto this afternoon, they have come to speak with Tomitsuka Hitsui, the president of the Magic Association. The officials tell Hitsui that she must put pressure on the Yotsuba family, and she says it’s impossible. The Magic Association doesn’t have the authority to command a magician without good reason. Hitsui isn’t trying to make excuses, the Magic Association is a mutually beneficial organization that works alongside magicians, they do not control them.

They try to tell Hitsui that the Magic Association does have a strong influence though and that they can deal out punishments to magicians. Hitsui says that only occurs when it is necessary to prevent the use of nuclear weapons, and they have no influence to interfere with an economy based project of a magician. Hitsui adds that even if she were to assemble strong magicians to put pressure on the Yotsuba, they wouldn’t fear such a tactic. The Foreign Affairs members say that the Yotsuba family isn’t the only strong family within the Ten Master Clans. Hitsui asks if they want to incite internal conflict within the Ten Master Clans in order to achieve their goal.

They tell Hitsui that her implication isn’t exactly correct, they don’t want the magicians to fight amongst each other. The Ten Master Clans are supposed to be self-governing and they have their own set of checks and balances to keep one family from becoming too powerful to control. Hitsui again reminds them that she doesn’t have the authority to manage the Ten Master Clans.

Hitsui begins to feel pain in her stomach after saying this. The Foreign Affairs members finally leave but not after saying that they feel the Magic Association can be more influential in this case when the magician community is at stake. Hitsui sits down, she feels nauseous and the pain in her stomach has dramatically increased.

◇ ◇ ◇

It is a request from the USNA government that the Japanese government begin to obstruct the ESCAPES plan. At this point in time the Japanese government didn’t see any merit in extracting underwater resources. It is an idea that has failed in the past, so the government feels skeptical about it. However, the response from the business world is different.

Kitayama Ushio is meeting with another businessman, and he tells Ushio that he has heard of his involvement in Tatsuya’s project. The man who called a meeting with Ushio is a rival businessman who goes by Muromachi, like Ushio this is a business name and not his real name. (He calls Ushio by Kitakata as well)

Ushio says that he has heard of this news rather quickly, and while Muromachi is part of a group that is inferior to the Hokuzan Group, it is still considered a substantially large group as well. Muromachi asks how Ushio found out about the project before everyone else, and Ushio responds by saying that he heard from various sources. Finally Ushio says that his daughter is classmates with Miyuki, Tatsuya’s fiancée, and he asks Muromachi if he will be supportive. Ushio guesses that Aoba has deliberately leaked out rumors of the situation in order to allow more support to come Tatsuya’s way.

Muromachi asks if Ushio could introduce him to Tatsuya. Ushio weighs the pros and cons and believes that it would be beneficial to have more investors involved in the project. He tells Muromachi that he doesn’t see an issue but he must talk with Tatsuya first.

◇ ◇ ◇

Lina was told to come to the command center after training today, and lately she has shown an irritated expression ever since returning from her latest mission. The last time she was called by Commander Walker she had to escort Edward Clark and was shown some of the darker sides of the USNA military. The whole situation had made Lina depressed, but it’s not like she can just stop taking orders, that would mean both rebellion and desertion.

Along the way she ran into Canopus, when she asks if he was called by Walker as well he says yes. Lina has a bad feeling, whenever this situation occurs it is either a very important mission that requires both of them or a mission that requires Canopus to take command of STARS because Lina isn’t allowed to participate.

Both Lina and Canopus announce their arrival and walk in to find both Walker and Balance waiting for them. Lina is surprised to see Balance there, but quickly regains her composure. Walker tells them that he wants their opinion on a certain matter. Both Lina and Canopus are surprised by this, as subordinates they aren’t usually asked to give opinions on potential missions.

Walker says that they already have a good idea who caused “Scorched Halloween” and that magician’s name is Shiba Tatsuya. Both Canopus and Lina confirm this at the same time. Walker continues to say that Tatsuya is refusing to work on Project Dione at the request of the National Science Bureau. He continues to say that he is planning to start his Stellar Furnace Energy Plant Project, which if completed could hurt the USNA’s resource industry.

Oil, coal and nuclear companies have suffered major damage as energy sources shifted from fossil fuels to solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels. But by surviving in places that didn’t have the optimal conditions for these new energy companies, they had managed to stay relevant for now. And with the development of magic that can suppress nuclear fission and cuts off radiation, people’s sense of repulsion against nuclear power is declining.

Walker says that even if you ignore the circumstances involving their industry, Tatsuya is an individual that should be neutralized with Project Dione. He also says that the chief staff headquarters have come to the decision that they might have to destroy this new energy plant and/or assassinate Tatsuya in order to eliminate this potential threat to their economy and country.

Lina thinks that this is terrible. She doesn’t know all the details but Tatsuya is trying to build an energy plant for both magician and civilian use. Lina starts to wonder when the STARS turned into a mafia group.

Walker asks for Lina’s opinion, and she says that she is against this idea. Lina says that while the mass to energy conversion magic is certainly a threat, Tatsuya is a magician that is a part of their alliance and has shown no hostility towards their country.

Canopus agrees with Lina, the assassination of a Strategic-Class Magician of an allied nation would look really bad for the USNA. He also says that while the energy industry may temporarily suffer a blow, but if inexpensive hydrogen became the main supply it would benefit the lives of the citizens. He believes that they should force Tatsuya to provide the knowledge to make their own energy plants using the same technology.

When asked if this would be better than assassination, Canopus once again says that it will work out to be a positive, and also adds that while the military is bound to interfere with this plan because it will negatively affect their strength, it is a necessary risk to benefit the citizens and the country.

Balance gives her own opinion as well, she says that Lina’s individual issues aren’t anything worth considering but Canopus’s ideas hold merit. She also says that it is much harder to sabotage an entire facility without being caught than it is to assassinate an individual. Walker says that he agrees with their opinions and will move to suspend the strategy given by headquarters. Lina was very relieved to hear this conclusion.

◇ ◇ ◇

After the meeting with Walker, Balance asked Lina to join her in a separate room. She asks how Lina has been doing lately, and Lina says that there hasn’t been any problems lately. (But Balance could tell she was lying)

Balance says that she doesn’t know what kind of decision headquarters is going to come up with, and Lina might be asked to participate. Lina says that she will fulfill her duties if asked.

Balance says that the Ministry of Defense also has another opinion on this matter, and Lina asks if it has to do with Tatsuya. Balance says that they should use a confrontational attitude instead of actual confrontation, which is along the lines of what Canopus was proposing. Lina asks if she means that they should make Japan provide the information on the Stellar Furnace reactor. Balance says yes to help the economy, but also adds that they should propose a shared force to act as a deterrent against others. Lina was confused when Balance said “deterrent”.

“One of the participants in this deterrent force would be you Major Sirius.”

Lina is still confused and tries to laugh it off but Balance says that if the satellite sighting system that was used in the situation for Scorched Halloween were acquired, which she thinks is more advanced than that of the USNA. Lina with Heavy Metal Burst and Tatsuya with Material Burst can control the power around the world, thus ending the need for large-scale actions.

“Tatsuya and I cooperate...?”

Balance says that they never intended to use her magic only for national defense.

Heavy Metal Burst can't produce enough power unless there is enough heavy metal that exists in a certain mass, and the effect is limited under geographical conditions where undulation is severe. Although, Heavy Metal Burst has a greater degree of freedom than Leviathan which can't demonstrate its true value unless it’s used on terrain with plentiful water such as an ocean, wide lake, or a big river. Though in terms of being influenced by geographical conditions, it is inferior to Ozone Circle and Agni-Downburst, but when conditions such as power and activations speed are introduced, Heavy Metal Burst is the equivalent of a Strategic Ballistic Missile.

Balance says that it shouldn’t be so surprising, between the New Soviet Union and Japan, it is the obvious choice to cooperate with Japan since there is already an alliance. She also warns Lina to not let her emotions take control in this special matter or else she will be suspected. It appears that Balance had called Lina here in order to inform her of a possible teaming up with Tatsuya, by telling her beforehand it should help her prepare mentally. Balance is afraid that Lina might show a reaction that headquarters might not deem favorable if she is surprised with this news.

◇ ◇ ◇

After Balance, Lina and Canopus left Walkers room, he called two more STARS members, Third Unit Captain Alexander Arcturus and Fourth Unit Captain Charlotte Vega. Their units are a lower rank than Lina’s and Canopus’s, while they are okay with Canopus being above them Vega has an inferiority complex when it comes to Lina. A girl 10 years younger than her and is a much higher rank than herself, and it was well known within STARS that she hostile towards Lina. Arcturus isn’t hostile towards her but isn’t really close to her either.

Alfred Fomalhaut, who was killed by Lina, was returned to the USNA last year, and Arcturus was really close to him. He was convinced that Fomalhaut who was involved in the parasite incident had to be dealt with properly. However, he believed that Fomalhaut should have been given a fair trial at military court, and that Lina immediately passing judgement on him was wrong.

Walker tells them that he is going to give them a mission that can’t be shared with Sirius. Arcturus thought it wasn’t right but would obey his orders, and Vega was excited. Walker is aware of how these two feel about Lina and it was one of the reasons he called on them for this mission. He tells them that their mission is to obstruct the construction of the energy plant planned by the Japanese Strategic-Class Magician Shiba Tatsuya, and if he needs to be assassinated in order to stop the project than that will be acceptable as well.

They question Walker about whether or not they should just assassinate Tatsuya, but he says that interfering with the energy plant project is the primary objective, and to assassinate if they can’t accomplish their primary objective. Walker wants them to make sure that Tatsuya will have to participate in Project Dione.

Arcturus isn’t very thrilled about the mission but agrees, while Vega was filled with motivation. Her information network has hinted to the fact that Lina seems to be favoring Tatsuya, and she feels that it is unacceptable for an USNA soldier to be close to a man that could become their greatest enemy. Vega will make Lina come to her senses by striking down Tatsuya herself, and also show that she is superior.

◇ ◇ ◇

After the death of his friend Fomalhaut, Jacob Regulus couldn’t help but question what is happening within STARS and what exactly happened to his friend. Jacob Regulus is a 1st Lieutenant in the Third Unit under the command of Arcturus. Even now he is investigating into the truth of the matter.

The information is kept a secret from most people considering it was STARS members that were possessed by parasites. The psychological resistance to a supernatural existence is difficult even for magicians, and the results from autopsies show that organs that shouldn’t exist in humans are found in the brain after being possessed by parasites.

While it is true that his friend was possessed by the parasite, just how had Fomalhaut come in contact with it? Fomalhaut was supposed to be on his own mission and he had seen him before that mission and he couldn’t see that anything was wrong. Just how, when and where did this all happen is what Regulus is asking himself. Scientists are working on figuring out this aspect, but right now the only conclusion has been that the micro black hole experiment is the cause, but there is a debate over how that mechanism works. Regulus wants to know who called the parasite and made it possess Fomalhaut.

He thinks it could have been a deliberate attempt as a terrorist attack against the USNA, because strong magicians can exercise fighting power comparable to a whole squadron. If his friend was used in such a way, he could never overlook that, but even after looking into the situation for over a year he hadn’t come up with any decisive conclusions.

Just then he receives an encrypted email, he is surprised that it was able to pass through the USNA’s security. He opens up the email to see that the unknown sender is saying that the micro black hole experiment is the work of an agent from Japan. In the email it points out six key points.

•Micro black hole experiment was started by a Japanese private magician organization.

•The organization knew that “something” spiritual would be called out through this experiment.

•The organization was looking for a country to execute this experiment outside of Japan.

•At that time, the USNA military scientists who were searching for answers about the mass to energy conversion magic, were taken advantage of.

•The organization was seeking further experimental data. Once you start the micro black hole experiment, an agent from the organization will come to observe.

•Fomalhaut was exposed to this experiment suddenly, and was possessed. If you have a strong will and hold on to a strong purpose, high level magicians can resist being possessed by the parasite.

Regulus has a hard time believing the contents, it’s just too convenient to be given this information right now. However, he does believe the part about an agent inciting the micro black hole experiment. With the scientists still trying to understand exactly what happened, as well as the fact that the majority of people that believed that the mass to energy conversion magic could be solved from this experiment was in the minority.

Whether the external forces are from a Japanese private magician organization or the Ten Master Clans, it doesn’t matter to Regulus, he will continue his investigation. He knows that he shouldn’t get influenced by this unknown sender but since there is a lull in his investigation, it wouldn’t hurt to at least look into this new information. If the experiment is to be tried again, he can check into whether or not it is the source of the parasites, and it would give credit to the unknown sender. There is a risk that a victim could become possessed by the parasite, but if there’s enough personnel on standby it will be possible to capture and get rid of the parasite.

(There is no reason not to try it)

Regulus concluded, and he doesn’t even consider the slightest possibility that he could be possessed by a parasite.

◇ ◇ ◇

Regulus went directly to Arcturus to propose the micro black hole experiment, right after he finished talking to Colonel Walker. Regulus confessed everything he had learned and showed the necessity to run this experiment again.

If it would have been any other day Arcturus would have just dismissed Regulus. But he was mentally out of place due to the mission assigned from Walker. He was strangely attracted to the possibility of exposing a Japanese agent. If they can prove this, it will bring a big a huge bargaining chip for their negotiations with Japan, and they will be able to neutralize their Strategic-Class Magic Material Burst, without needing to assassinate anyone. Such a perfect scenario was branded in Arcturus’s mind.

Arcturus immediately went back to Colonel Walker’s command room with Regulus, and they convinced him to cooperate in this operation. Even Walker might have wanted to sabotage the mission that staff headquarters had in mind. They negotiated with staff headquarters next and it was concluded that they would re-open the micro black hole experiment and contact them at a later date when it was ready.

Chapter 7

Spoiler
After school on Wednesday, Tomitsuka visited the student council room, which was a very rare occurrence. He asks if Tatsuya will be coming back to school, but that since he isn’t here it doesn’t look like it. Miyuki doesn’t bother to look in his direction because this is a very irritable subject for her.

Tatsuya isn’t attending school in order to observe how everyone is going to react to the press conference. For him to return will depend on how the world reacts, so a schedule can’t be set. Miyuki asks if he would like to know where Tatsuya is right now, but it’s obvious she is angry. Tomitsuka was disappointed with her answer, and Miyuki asks what he wants with Tatsuya. Tomitsuka tells them that his mother collapsed yesterday, and everyone was surprised to hear this. He continues to say that while she did collapse, her life isn’t in danger and that it’s an acute gastric ulcer. She is already out of the hospital but she has to rest for at least a month.

Miyuki offers her sympathies and Tomitsuka is grateful. Izumi confirms that his mother is the president of the Magic Association. When they ask about what caused the ulcer, he says that it was due to stress, and they ask if he’s blaming that on Tatsuya. Tomitsuka says he doesn’t blame Tatsuya directly, and says that the Japanese government has been severely condemning his mother lately about this issue with Tatsuya. He says that he wants to persuade Tatsuya to withdraw from his Energy Plant Project and to join Project Dione. Honoka raises her voice, and it wasn’t only her but both Izumi and Shiina both turn cold eyes towards Tomitsuka.

Tomitsuka is asked if its okay for him act like and wonders if it would be better to keep this a secret, but he says this is supposed to be off the record (about his mother’s condition) but he doesn’t mind complicating the situation if it’s for his family. He also says that he isn’t going to try and persuade Tatsuya by using his mother as an excuse. Izumi asks what he would ask of Tatsuya if he doesn’t hold a grudge against him. Tomitsuka says that he honestly thinks that Tatsuya should participate in Project Dione. He believes that it is beneficial for the future of humanity, and should be considered a great honor. He had planned to stay silent about the whole thing, but now that his family is involved, he can’t stay silent.

Tomitsuka says that he will persuade Tatsuya, and Miyuki says that she can’t tell him where Tatsuya is. When he asks why Miyuki says that she can’t cooperate with him and he yells back at her that this is something that his pride can’t allow. During all this it is surprising that Miyuki hasn’t become upset enough to release her magic uncontrollably but since the seal was removed, Miyuki can control her magic power.

Tomitsuka asks to challenge Miyuki to a duel, and if he wins she must tell him where Tatsuya is at. Miyuki accepts the challenge but Minami interrupts her.

“Miyuki-sama please wait.”

“Minami-chan!?”

Miyuki’s voice was mixed with both surprise and reprimand. Minami called her “Miyuki-sama” and not as “president”. The people in the room know that Miyuki is the next head of the Yotsuba family, and they now recognize that Minami isn’t a cousin but is in some position that serves the Yotsuba family. Although no one is going to directly ask this, they could tell it was such a relationship.

“I have been ordered by Tatsuya-sama to protect Miyuki-sama. Tatsuya-sama trusted me to keep Miyuki-sama from engaging in any kind of unnecessary fighting.”

Miyuki didn’t say anything to Minami, once Tatsuya’s intentions are brought out she has no reason to argue. They ask Tomitsuka if he is okay with this arrangement.

Disputes between fellow students, the involved parties can exercise their true power to settle a matter.

Naturally, the procedure of simulated combat has also been set and you must obtain permission from the student council president and the chairperson of the Public Moral Committee. It is a measure to prevent simulated combat from being used for unilateral violence when there is a disparity in ability.

"...I thought that there wouldn’t be a duel against the Student Council this year."

Mikihiko from the Public Moral Committee complains while Izumi came to apply for the approval of the simulated combat.

Since the student council president is the related party this time, Izumi, who is the vice chairwoman is the one who requested for the simulated battle.

"It's not a duel but a match, Yoshida-senpai."

After making a minor correction to Mikihiko’s statement, Izumi handed out a permit issued by the student council together with its written form.

"Hand to hand combat? Is that okay? Tomitsuka-kun and Sakurai-san, do you think that is appropriate for a match between a man and a women?"

Normally, a melee combat form isn’t issued unless it’s a battle between boys. This is especially true in the case of male and female simulated combat because issues of sexual harassment might occur.

"Using a mock knife and making sure to stop before it hits the opponent rule. Sakurai-san seems to be confident."

Izumi's explanation did not make any sense to Mikihiko. Even if it says the match is settled just before a mock knife hits the opponent, it still remains that punching and kicking is permitted.

"...I will serve as the referee"

Tomitsuka, who had been waiting at the third practice room after changing to club activities uniform, looked to the appearance of Minami who entered, following by Miyuki.

"Are you really going to participate in this match wearing that!?"

Minami answered with a spirited tone to Tomitsuka who shouted unexpectedly.

"It should not violate the rules".

"That is true... but that..."

Tomitsuka is wearing the Martial Magic Arts match uniform. The upper part is a long sleeve shirt without button with a cushion in the elbow part, loose beltless trousers whose cushion enters the knee part and only the part of the ankle is tightened. On his feet are soft shoes that were designed for martial arts sports.

Minami, on the other hand, was in a short-sleeved shirt and short spats gym clothes. There is a weapon belt on her right thigh together with the mock knife, but other than that, it’s the appearance of an athlete where the arms and legs are exposed.

"Are you worried about injuries?"

Tomitsuka was speechless towards Minami who just spoke to him.

"If you receive an attack by Tomitsuka-senpai, there is no doubt that it could become swollen severely, and the probability of a bone fracture is not small,"

"... if that's the case"

Tomituka is trying to say, I want you to focus more on defense.

"Tomitsuka-senpai. That's how a mock battle is."

But Minami's line was much quicker.

"Even with the rules of close combat prohibition, the danger of injury does not change so much."

In a rare occurrence, Minami is quite talkative today.

"If Tomitsuka-senpai doesn’t mind being injured by the girls, he would lose his match today."

Minami intentionally took a short pause.

"Only at your own convenience"

And lets loose a condemning accusation to Tomitsuka.

Tomitsuka can’t object to Minami's accusation.

"...Tomitsuka-kun, do you want to stop the match?"

Mikihiko responded to Tomitsuka who stood still.

"Even if you win or lose this game, you will only have a poor aftertaste result for you, so it's better to stop now and you will not regret it."

Mikihiko intended to give a helping hand to Tomitsuka.

"Yoshida-kun, signal the start of the game."

But Mikihiko's consideration has made Tomitsuka stubborn. Currently, for Tomitsuka, it was absolutely necessary to find out where is Tatsuya's is.

When Tomitsuka heard the word "regret" that Mikihiko just spoke, he thought that "I do not want to withdraw here and regret it later, even if I injure a girl and end up regretting it."

"...I understand, both sides understand the rules? It's a rule to stop just before making contact. You will have to follow the judgment of the referee."

Tomituka and Minami both nod at the same time.

Unfortunately for Mikihiko, neither Tomitsuka nor Minami showed any signs of backing down.

"Well then, start!"

Simultaneously with Mikihiko's signal, Tomitsuka and Minami invoke their magic.

Closing the distance at once, throwing enemy off balance using oscillation magic, and winning without injuring. Tomitsuka's strategy was hindered because of shield that appeared in front of him.

Tomitsuka cannot hide his surprise of her magical activation speed, although he witnessed her power and capabilities both in the Stellar Furnace experiment and the Nine School Competition last year. In just a moment after the start signal of the match, a barrier to hinder his approach was already completed.

Surprised, but without panicking, Tomitsuka pushed into that transparent wall.

His disadvantage that his psions cannot be projected away from his body remains unchanged. For some of the magic that was able to attack the enemies from far apart, it only affects the influence of the magic that was invoked nearby into the continuous space, so a magic can be set on a remote place.

At the same time, however, the characteristics of wearing high-density psion armor and invalidating other magic by touching have not changed either.

No, the invalidation magic skill which should also be called "contact type Gram Demolition" was strengthened as much as the control has been improved.

Tomitsuka’s body hits Minami's magic shield from his shoulder.

The resistance felt less than one second.

Tomitsuka realized that the invisible wall has crumbled down.

He tries to drive his palm into Minami.

But Minami went to his side for a short time just after Tomitsuka was conscious of the magic barriers.

The installation location of the magic shield can be specified as either relative coordinates or absolute coordinates.

In a true sense, when setting a barrier with absolute coordinates, it will be put at a tremendous speed in the rotation and revolution of the earth, so even if it is said to be absolute coordinates, in most cases it is a relative position designation based on the coordinates on the earth, but it is expressed as the absolute coordinates on the person's intention. However, it is safe to express it as absolute coordinates based on the person's intention sense.

Additionally, the technology which deals true damage by specifying absolute coordinates and hitting the opponent to catch up against the wall is considered as extremely advanced aggression magic.

Right now, Minami has developed barriers with "absolute coordinates" in a general sense.

To the contrary, Tomitsuka acted in a prejudice that "there is an enemy beyond this barrier."

Because of that, he will lose sight of Minami just after breaking the wall barrier.

Minami released a compressed air bullet which can be said as basic technology of aggression magic from Tomitsuka side. The modified “Sakurai” series has a high aptitude for magic barriers, and the second generation Minami is particular talented.

However, Minami, just like Tatsuya and Tomitsuka, excels in one particular magic. Besides that, compressed air bullet "in a compressed state" conceptually has a side which is compatible with her barrier magic, so it is an easy magic for Minami to use. It is synonymous with "magic" which can "give great power". Perhaps because the degree of threat was high, his intuition might pay off.

Tomitsuka was driven by a strong sense of crisis and made a magical barrier of armor type.

Tomitsuka can only do magic on objects or areas with a close physical contact.

However, at the distance of zero meters in the contact state, "Range Zero", it demonstrates unrivaled strength. That is the magician called Tomitsuka Hagane.

Also different from hardening magic, the magic barrier invoked in a form of overlapping with his clothing receives a mini compressed air bullet. The armor produced by Tomitsuka cut off both the impact that the mass of air crashed and the blast caused by the compression being released.

Tomitsuka continues, and activates his move type magic. The magic to move oneself is the foundation of his personal skill "Self-marionette". Just before Minami who was preparing the next offensive magic, Tomitsuka arrived faster than flying due to this skill. As soon as Tomitsuka grasped the feel of the floor beneath his feet, Tomituka pulled his right hand to the right side. He is in a stance where his right leg steps forward and was about to thrust his palm heel.

But Tomitsuka 's arms and legs stopped moving due to the unexpected scene that appeared in his eyes.

Suddenly, Minami presses against the floor, and begins to retreat back. It appeared to Minami, that Tomitsuka suddenly appeared and ignored the spatial gap.

Minami was able to escape Tomitsuka's attack due to the reflexes cultivated in the fighting training of the Yotsuba Family. At the same time Tomitsuka was making his first move towards Minami, she had already begun to head backwards and kicked the floor vigorously.

It's like an action movie where the enemy backflips in front of you, and thus Tomitsuka attack ended up in failure. No, the delay in the Tomitsuka movement is not the surprise of the backflip itself, isn't it because his eye was drawn to the color of skin from the lifted shirt?

At least Minami felt Tomitsuka's eyes were directed towards her who took her distance.

Rather than memorizing the unpleasant feeling, Minami thought that she was saved.

It was a gap that could lead to the end of the simulated battle, as she had misread Tomisuka’s timing.

There is no way you can miss seeing the satisfactory belly button.

(If the opponent was Tatsuya, this would have ended now)

Even though I pushed my palm to the floor and thrust back by back-flipping, he could not find the next attack posture immediately after landing.

[Illustration]

It would have been hopeless if this was Tatsuya's time to attack. And if it was Tatsuya, he will not interrupt to attack as soon as he saw the skin of a woman.

Minami jumped further and redeployed the magic barriers.

Tomitsuka recovered from his rigidity and approaches Minami with quick agility.

Destruction of barriers.

Until that, it's the last time it's done.

However, Minami did not turn to his side this time but went back to the backside.

The moment the shield is destroyed, she builds the next shield. Tatsuya's decomposition magic, if it is a Gram Demolition, the magic destruction will only take a moment. The magic expression exposed to the information dimension cannot resist Gram Demolition which decomposes the Psion information body.

However, Gram Demolition is a technique to blow away the magic expression stuck to Eidos with the Psion pressure. In accordance with the strength of the magic sequence stuck in the Eidos, a time lag occurs until it becomes effective.

The area magic that fixes the magic expression in a place without anything is usually fragile against Gram Demolition. But "Minami's barrier magic is never considered as "normal ". The objective barrier of the "Sakura" series is so that it can withstand huge momentum. Minami also inherits its magical characteristics.

That is, Minami's magic barriers can resist Gram Demolition for a short time. Even though it will eventually break through, it also means that you can earn time to prepare for your next magic. Minami's barriers objective is to prevent Tomitsuka's advancement.

The objective barrier is destroyed immediately, but it takes about one second.

At that time, after shifted slightly backward, Minami has finished making the next barrier.

It was a pseudo phalanx.

It does not mean that Minami does not feel pressure from the broken shield.

Fatigue caused by activating magic is surely accumulated. But she keeps coming in contact with Psion's armor worn by Tomitsuka at the same time and creates a magic barrier and retreats little by little.

Because Tomitsuka is capable of destroying the shield in a short time, he will not move sideways but will progress frankly. Little by little, little by little, almost stopped playing in the same condition. That is not Tomitsuka’s original style. It is his taste to make full use of footwork and attack by hand. Tomitsuka has nothing to do with the fighting way of stamping and pushing like four scrum wags, rugby malls, scrums, even though we have to stop their feet.

Minami is retreating on the diagonal line of the exercise room. Minami knew the corner of the room was getting close by the distance to the left and right walls.

Minami did not miss the fact that while face-to-face with the eyes of Tomitsuka, they were directed behind herself for a moment.

She was cornered.

That was how Tomitsuka thinks and Minami seems to understand that.

With two more steps, she will be in a corner. She cannot go down to the way back.

At the same time Minami barrier which was destroyed, it fell a step sharply rather than one foot.

Without building the next barrier.

The body of Tomitsuka who was tilting the body forward for the next barrier destruction flows.

The disadvantages of Contact-type Gram Demolition, are that it can’t invalidate magic without touching it directly. That was why Tomitsuka was careless as the barriers were destroyed.

Minami instantly activated the magic he was preparing.

Downward Whirlwind.

It is merely a magic that merely creates descending air current centered on herself, and there was almost no killing power.

However, Tomitsuka, who had been approaching Minami until one more distance, was further caught up in the air current and lost his position.

Minami wraps around Tomitsuka's back and grabs his mock knife and throws it.

Tomitsuka’s face is red, it is unlikely that he was just flustered for no reason. With the thin gym uniform shirt, the "soft sensation" he feels, it is an appropriate response for someone his age.

But fortunately for Tomitsuka, Minami did not notice him blushing. Minami hooked his leg from the inside, crushing Tomitsuka's body from the front.

Tomitsuka tried to throw down Minami by twisting his body, but Minami who skillfully shifts her weight hangs onto Tomitsuka’s body and thus throws him to the ground.

Minami caught at the back of Tomitsuka, pulled out the mock knife from the thigh belt and pressed it against the throat of Tomitsuka.

"The match is settled! Sakurai's victory!"

Mikihiko declared the end of the mock battle.

If the knife was genuine, Tomitsuka surely would be wounded by Minami.

Winning or losing was apparent to everyone's eyes.

◇ ◇ ◇

By the time finished cleaning up the simulated battle, closing time was approaching. Miyuki and others ended the student council activity and gathered at the usual coffee shop joined by Erika and Leo.

"Hey, Sakurai-san, you were so strong."

"No, I just got lucky today..."

Minami shyly denies Kasumi's word.

Everyone's attention was focused on the previous mock battle.

"I guess there will always be luck though, but without true strength, you won't be able to win against Tomitsuka-kun."

Erika's face which shows that she wasn't surprised, inserted a word at her side.

"Erika, did you know about Sakurai’s true power?"

Leo asked because he was also a member of the same mountaineering club and Minami 's physical ability was already well known to him. However, according to a set phrase "don't judge based on appearance", the impression that people got from Minami is usually "a gently girl" and because her muscles aren’t obtrusive, her superb motor functions also cannot be seen. If anything, it's better to say that she shows the figure of a girl who doesn’t regularly exercise.

That's why Erika's attitude, which had known Minami's strength from a long time ago, was a little strange to Leo.

"You have to train hard to understand, but if you look closely you might be able to do it as well."

"Is that so..." Was Leo impressed by Erika, by Minami? Perhaps, both.

"But I heard that you are not good at PE Class?"

Izumi did not have any ulterior motive and asked Minami a simple question.

"That, I am bad at ball games..."

Was she really that bad, Minami seemed a bit embarrassed. Izumi, who is also not good at physical education ―― It’s not that we can’t do it, it’s that we’re psychologically “bad” at it ―― Izumi doesn’t question it any further.

"But I think what Sakurai wants to say is that it wasn't just the result of ability."

Mikihiko tried to change topic direction due to the uncomfortable atmosphere.

"It also seem's very hard for Tomitsuka."

"Because the opponent was a girl?"

Mikihiko nods "yes" to Shizuku's question.

"Probably because there was a melee battle type rule."

"Isn't it more of a relief for a battle that just consists only magic?"

Saburou who does not know about Tomitsuka doubted Mikihiko's words.

Shiina swiftly dismisses by saying "because of Tomitsuka's-senpai magical characteristics, he cannot do that".

As Shiina explains "Range-Zero" meaning to Saburou, Honoka criticized Tomitsuka by saying, "if that's the case, it would have been better to stop".

"Actually you are relieved right?"

Shizuku muttered by telling a bad joke, but if she could tell a bad joke which is much serious.

"Which reminds me, Tomitsuka-kun was able to look at Minami-chan's belly button..."

"Honoka, details"

Before Minami could stop Honoka, Shizuku poured oil into the fire.

"Minami was in a gym suit."

"Bold."

"So Minami did a backflip to avoid Tomitsuka-kun's attack."

"Wow."

"The edge of the shirt fluttered at that time, so the stomach area was exposed quite openly. Of course, it was concealed after that, but Tomitsuka-kun froze for an instant. It's because Minami-san's belly area could be seen."

"Guilty"

After hearing the story Shizuku decided to say that without hesitation.

"It seems that even when Minami-chan slipped around his back, he also had a red face..."

"Really!?"

Minami screamed to Honoka 's additional testimony.

"Yeah... perhaps... I think your chest touched him."

"...Eh"

Minami hides her face with both her hands and looks down.

Leo and Mikihiko also blushed a little and turned their face quickly.

"Hmmm... don't tell me the gym suit was for that purpose?"

Erika has no mercy for her shy junior.

"Minami wanted Tomitsuka to stop the mock battle."

Instead of Minami who is not able to give an answer, Miyuki spoke her idea.

"Originally, Tomitsuka applied for a match against me."

"It wouldn’t have been much of a match then."

Erika’s "thinking pose" cut through the statement that was just given.

It is not only merely a matter of difference in ability.

Apart from Tomitsuka who cannot fight from a distance, Miyuki can continuously use magic from a distance would be a terrible enemy for him. If the no melee combat rule that is normally adopted in a simulated battle between opposite sexes was to be upheld, it would be a completely one sided battle.

"Tomitsuka was obviously in a state of losing his cool judgment,"

"So that why Minami stretched out her body in order to cool his head."

Erika nodded with a convincing face.

"As I recall back, I still haven't heard as to why did Tomitsuka want a mock battle?"

At this moment, Mikihiko realized that he did not know the reason for the mock battle.

"Tomitsuka-senpai wanted to know Shiba-senpai whereabouts."

Izumi answered that question because she thought that it shouldn't come from Miyuki.

"Tatsuya's whereabouts?"

Mikihiko was not the only one who had a question mark above him.

"Tomitsuka-senpai’s mother seems to have been hospitalized due to hard work"

"Tomitsuka's mother... she is the Chairman of the Magic Association, right?"

"Yes, as expected from Yoshida-senpai, you are well informed."

Even if Mikihiko was praised by Izumi, he wasn't embarrassed.

His consciousness was concentrating on the continuation of the story.

"Hitsui-sama --- Tomitsuka-senpai's mother's name, Hitsui-sama seems to have been heavily pressured by the government to persuade Shiba-senpai."

"Do you mean persuading to join Project Dione?"

"Yes, it seems that she has an acute gastric ulcer due to that stress... and will be hospitalized for about a month."

"...But, it wasn't Tatsuya fault right?"

Leo enters the conversation from the other side.

"I think so, too."

Izumi nodded. There was no objection to the judgment of Leo and Izumi at this time.

"Tomitsuka-senpai also said that, but his real intention... he thinks that it was Shiba-senpai responsibility. He would like to convince Shiba-senpai to participate in the USNA space development program and wanted to know Shiba-senpai’s residence for that reason."

"For the sake of his mother... I guess he needed to do something."

Mizuki mutters in a sympathetic tone.

"Now that I recall back, Tomitsuka-kun... He seemed very depressed after the match."

Honoka, who had condemned Tomitsuka's bad attitude, also held some sympathy for his situation.

"But to blame Tatsuya-kun, it's clearly an unjustified resentment."

Erika cut off the sentiment.

"Tatsuya has already declared what he is going to do from now, and I think that it is wrong to create confusion from the other side."

Leo denied Tomitsuka's behavior from another angle.

"But, I think that people who say something similar to Tomitsuka-senpai will still be there. There will be people who think Shiba-senpai is wrong and think they are right."

Kasumi has no attachment to Tatsuya. So, from a comfortable third-party perspective, she can make a good conjecture.

Neither Miyuki, Erika nor anyone could deny that prediction.

Chapter 8

Spoiler
There was a big change in the situation surrounding Tatsuya on this Thursday.

In the Indo-Persian Federation, at the Magical Research Center in the former South India. Asha Chandrasekhar, a leader in the field of magical engineering at Hyderabad University. She is the developer of the Strategic-Class Magic Agni-Downburst. The Indo-Persian Federation didn't take a position for or against Project Dione until her press conference. Rather than it being an official government announcement, she as a scientist took the position to support ESCAPES and not Dione. This surprised other countries. They want to support the construction of an energy plant not for the private sector but to be made a national project.

Tatsuya’s ESCAPES project has gathered the attention of the world.

◇ ◇ ◇

The day after the press conference by Asha Chandrasekhar, the USNA succeeded in getting an interview with Ali Shaheen, one of the 13 Apostles. The broadcast wasn’t aired live in North America and Western Europe, but the recording was played on their TV networks during the day.

“So, does the Turkish government think that the USNA shouldn’t force other nations to participate in their own space development plans?”

Shaheen says that it’s not the government’s view, but that it is his opinion and that the use of magic for peaceful purposes should be decided by the individual and not forced upon them. He is clearly showing an opposition toward Project Dione.

Shaheen mentions that the ground breaking Stellar Furnace project was announced in Japan, and the reporter confirms that he is talking about the same project mentioned by Asha Chandrasekhar. He confirms this and says that this project will solve one of the Three Great Puzzles of Weight Systematic Magic as well as lead to a peaceful use of magic that will help out humanity. He continues to say that Project Dione is a wonderful project as well, but that they should refrain limiting other potential possibilities.

The press conference and interview had quite the influence on the American and European people.

◇ ◇ ◇

Two of the New Soviet Union’s nationally recognized Strategic-Class Magicans are have a videophone conversation, it is Igor Bezobrazzoff and Leonid Kondrachenko.

Leonid says that this “boy” (Ali Shaheen) is trying to prevent Japan and the USNA from getting any closer to each other. Ali Shaheen is 30 years old and Kondrachenko is over the age of 70. Leonid guesses that Shaheen is trying to destroy the USNA’s plan by showing a negative impression of Project Dione. Igor asks if there is a possibility that Shaheen is being used by Japan, and Leonid clearly says that there is nothing that suggests that.

Leonid says that if someone had come in contact with Shaheen he would have known, and says that Shaheen came up with this himself. Igor says that the timing seems to be too convenient and Leonid tells him that ever since the announcement of Project Dione, they have probably been waiting for their chance to interfere. The New Soviet Union and the USNA working together is something that they fear.

Leonid asks Igor what he plans to do since Edward Clark is no longer a reliable ally. Igor says that he agrees that Edward is no longer a benefit to them, and says that he will be leaving for Vladivostok with “Igrok”. Leonid was surprised, and Igor says that they can no longer ignore that Strategic-Class Magic since they don’t know when it will be turned against them. Leonid wishes him good luck since he knows exactly what he plans to do.

◇ ◇ ◇

On Saturday, it started to rain around noon. However, Miyuki was in a great mood. Her destination after school was Izu, where Tatsuya has been staying. She had received permission to come visit and stay with Tatsuya.

Minami has been on edge for awhile, every time she left the their place she always had a bad feeling. Her tension as of late had become counterproductive, especially when on an escort mission. But since this time Tatsuya was waiting at the end of this trip, the safety of Miyuki was absolutely certain, so she doesn’t need to worry so much. No matter how much she told herself that, her worries didn’t go away.

They arrived in Izu in the evening, and the weather had become worse. It was completely dark and foggy, the visibility was less than 10 meters, but with the automated driving system Hyougo didn’t have any issues with the drive.

Tatsuya was waiting for them as they arrived, thanked Hyougo for bringing Miyuki and also thanked Minami for her hard work. Tatsuya stole the march on both Hyougo and Minami by helping Miyuki out of the car with an umbrella ready. Tatsuya then asked Minami and Miyuki to both go into the house ahead of him while he talked to Hyougo.

Tatsuya asks Hyougo if he has heard of any kind of movements lately, and he replies that there is nothing going on in Japan. Tatsuya picked up on the phrasing and asked if there are movements in other countries. Hyougo mentions the press conference from Asha Chandrasekhar and the interview with Shaheen, and Tatsuya says that he watched them both. Hyougo then mentions that there hasn’t been any responses or communications from the USNA or the New Soviet Union. Tatsuya asks if that is unnatural, and Hyougo confirms his speculation.

Hyougo warns him to be wary for the time being, and that he will continue to collect information. Hanabishi Hyougo was in the private military company in Britain, where he trained for quite some time. While he was there he built up his own information network, and this has become quite important to Tatsuya now that he has become estranged from the Independent Magic Equipped Battalion.

Tatsuya thanks him and Hyougo gets back in the car and leaves.

◇ ◇ ◇

When Tatsuya enters the house, hot coffee is already placed on the table. Much to the dissatisfaction of Minami it was Pixie who served the beverages. After finishing their drinks the girls left to change out of their clothes, and Minami stuck close to Miyuki to satisfy herself in her guardian duties.

After they return Tatsuya asks them to recount the story about what happened at the student council room, along with the mock battle. As Miyuki was telling him about what happened he could tell that Miyuki was irritated with the whole situation, she mentions that Tomitsuka asked when Tatsuya would return to school. Once again Miyuki is calling Tatsuya “Onii-sama” when in private, and Tatsuya doesn’t mind what she calls him. He also didn’t find it surprising that Tomitsuka suddenly reached out to find him, but he was interested in the reason.

Miyuki tells him that Tomitsuka wanted to persuade Tatsuya, and when asked why Miyuki tells him that Tomitsuka wanted to persuade him to participate in the Dione Project. This was something that Tatsuya couldn’t understand right away since he knew him pretty well from class, but after Miyuki finished the story he understood his reasoning.

Tatsuya also apologizes to Minami for having to go through the mock battle because of him. Tatsuya also cares about Minami and genuinely feels bad that she had to go through that for him. Minami apologizes as well, she responded rather quickly, and couldn’t hide the fact that she was confused why Tatsuya was worried about her as well. Miyuki was watching this development with a smile on her face but that smile scared Minami.

◇ ◇ ◇

As soon as Igor reached Vladivostok, he is informed by an Intelligence Staff member about Tatsuya's recent activities. The information being that Tatsuya is staying at a villa in Izu with his fiancé. Igor thinks that such a remote location is convenient. Though he has heard that Tatsuya's cousin (Miyuki) is a powerful magician, he has confidence in his own magic. Especially since he is bringing along his external terminal "Igrok", which amplifies his magic power.

Igor was born through artificial insemination, thus known as a "test-tube baby". He wasn't genetically modified and is the most successful example of an individual born from countless fertilized eggs. Thus he was chosen as the New Soviet Union's officially recognized Strategic-Class Magician, Igor Andreivitch Bezobrazzoff. The fertilized egg that became the basis for him was biochemically copied, resulting in clones (called his "sisters") being created and them being expected to possess the power of a Strategic-Class Magician. In fact, seven of clones mastered the Strategic-Class Magic Tuman Bomba. However, the clones named "Andreevna" don't have healthy bodies and are made to stay within a sterile room due to their constitutions. Unfortunately their power is greatly inferior to Igor's, and thus during real combat in terms of range and speed, they aren't capable enough.

Though they aren't powerful enough on their own, they are useful in supplementing Igor's power. Though the clones are of the opposite gender, they are from the same fertilized egg and thus it isn't difficult for him to synchronize his Magic Calculation Area with them. As the main body, Igor's mind isn't subjected to being eroded, instead the Andreevna are deprived of their ego's; becoming bio-machines. Igor is the "Conductor" who plays, controlling the magic, meanwhile the clones are the "Players" who activate the magic. Therefore the role given to the seven "Andreevna" clones, is being forced to live.

Every time Igor uses them, with the use of Igrok, their minds are broken. He has no hesitation doing so. Though it may be his own destiny, he is the victor of being the fittest to survive the daunting competition. Though he was created, Igor couldn't choose any other path in life than being one of the leading scientists of the New Soviet Union. Even now, things remain unchanged and he has no choice but to use Igrok.

Igor instructs staff official to make the final adjustments to the large scale CAD being towed by the military train on the New Siberian Railroad.

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The nationally recognized Strategic-Class Magicians "Thirteen Apostles", are individuals who greatly influence the military balance of the world, and international relations. Igor of the New Soviet Union, who would ordinarily find it difficult to make any appearances, due to his cooperating in Project Dione, he has brought himself special attention among the Thirteen Apostles. In addition, the death of Liu Yunde was announced and because of the announcement, Liu Li Lei replaced him as a member of the Thirteen Apostles.

For Japan, Igor is a Strategic-Class Magician of a Non-allied power that border them. He poses a direct threat, especially with the presumed attack made by him back in April by use of Tuman Bomba offshore of Sado Island and the La Pérouse Strait.

On Saturday night of June 8th, Major General Saeki who oversees the National Defense Army’s 101st Brigade received some urgent news from a private source in the staff division outside of the Army’s normal information network.

Igor has apparently boarded a private train and it is headed to the Far East. In order to activate Tuman Bomba, Saeki has received information that it usues a large CAD which occupies a whole vehicle. According to this information, Igor can load this CAD on a private train and use it while moving about in the New Soviet Union. If this new information is correct, it means that the range of Tuman Bomba doesn’t come close Material Burst, which can be used anywhere in the world.

Basically, the physical distance isn’t an issue for magic, however in order to achieve that kind of “distance” there is a need for deep understanding and strong confidence in the person’s magic. If Igor is inferior to Tatsuya in this aspect then that means it might be necessary for him to approach his target to use Tuman Bomba.

This new move by Igor indicates that he plans to target Japan. Saeki runs through a list of targets in her head, and ultimately believes that the target is going to be Tatsuya. Saeki wonders if she should warn him, but decides after a minute that she is just going to observe the situation. She then picks up the phone to call Kazama and tells him to come to commander’s room immediately.

――If it's Kazama, he should be able to observe what happens while understanding "him".

――If it goes smoothly, you can find "him" and Igor, both of the capture points. (Basically she plans to use Tatsuya as bait)

Saeki decided to play the abacus in that way.

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Tatsuya is spending time with Miyuki today, since she came out to visit him. He is listening to her stories, not out of a sense of duty, he also wanted to spend time with her as well. It may be possible that this is due to the mental reconfiguration that his mother placed upon him. Tatsuya is okay with everything that has happened to him. His heart didn’t receive any kind of operation. If he had all of his emotions he might be jealous of his perfect sister, and might have come to hate her. Tatsuya is conscious of the fact that he would probably have an inferiority complex.

Tatsuya is content with the way things turned out and with his feeling towards his sister, but there are limits. Today they took separate baths, and Miyuki made a request afterwards, which was that she wanted to sleep together with Tatsuya. He couldn’t agree to that but decided to compromise when Miyuki started to pout. He would bring in a Japanese-style futon so that they could sleep together in the same room but on separate beds. Miyuki was happy with this and Tatsuya internally sighed saying that it couldn’t be helped

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Igor encloses both Anna Andreevna and Veronica Andreevna into two “Igroks”, the large CAD connecting to it is called “Argan”, with these two in the aseptic capsules, Igor sits in the operator’s seat.

Argan is merely a common name, and the actual meaning is “organ”. One government official who saw this CAD that occupies an entire vehicle said it looks just like a “pipe organ” and the name stuck and was adopted. Igor is considered the “conductor” and the sisters are the “players”. The “players” are stuck inside the capsules and the “conductor” closes them in while sitting in a luxurious chair.

Igrok actually has seven capsules in total, but there has never been a need to use them all at the same time. If you need to activate Tuman Bomba, Igor can accomplish that himself. Igrok is a subsidiary and safety device, and for this scale of operation two people were more than enough.

Igor looks over the information about the target from the Information Network of the New Soviet Army. The local weather is light rain, there is no wind, this is optimal conditions for the use of Tuman Bomba. The current time is 6am, local time in Japan is 5am, the target must still be sleeping. Igor prepares for magic invocation as he moves into a sleep-like posture.

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Last month, two Japanese futons were laid out side by side in a Japanese style room after the ritual to remove pledge was performed. Now again two mattresses were pushed together, and sleeping there was Tatsuya and his sister Miyuki. Both the young man and woman are engaged to each other.

However, there isn’t anything going on or signs that would suggest it. The two people slept separately from each other, with only signs of them turning over while sleeping. Miyuki is lying down sideways, looking in the direction of Tatsuya with a happy look on her face, and Tatsuya is quietly sleeping on his back.

Dawn is approaching, Tatsuya who is the early bird won’t wake up for another 30 minutes. Neither Tatsuya or Miyuki show any signs of waking up early either.

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A large computer CAD “Argan” converts the positional data of the target obtained from the observation device into a format that works for a CAD. At the same time, the start-up data necessary for building the magic formula is created by the large computer that Igor is operating.

Igor designates all the conditions into the console of the computer, instead of specifying the magic formula in his mind and then builds the invocation formula based on it. By doing so, he is building a very complex magic formula that is impossible for normal magicians.

This CAD uses the same equipment-type computer that is located in the Far East Headquarters of the New Soviet Scientific Academy. The performance of the CAD at the academy is much higher, however it doesn’t have a system designed to use Igrok. Igor brought Argan because he decided that the assistance of Igrok was necessary for this operation.

Igrok forces whomever is in to sleep by using electric stimuli, but can still extract the psions from the Andreevna sisters. The naked women in their late teens are immersed in a physiological saline that adjusts to the same temperature as their current body temperature. They wear respiratory masks since they aren’t conscious, and the capsules aren’t transparent. But if you could see their faces it would reflect the sight of someone in agony, but neither Igor or his staff would raise an eyebrow if they saw them suffering.

Igor sends psions in the main part of Argan, and it starts up immediately. Igor and the Andreevna sisters read the activation sequence simultaneously. Igor consciously forces the two Igrok’s regardless of their consciousness, and Argan adjusts the activation speed of all three of them so that the magic output timings are matched.

These three people including Igor, automatically start up the magic activation sequence which will activate the strategic class magic Tuman Bomba.

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Tatsuya senses malicious intent headed towards himself and Miyuki. He quickly rose from his sleep and accesses the situation.

(Decomposition of water ―― formation and recombination of oxyhydrogen gas)

Tatsuya reads the nature of the magic just after waking up.

(Tuman Bomba)

The rain continued to come down, but it was turning into fog. This process was rapidly dividing the raindrops and turning into fog, and the next step was the vaporizing of the fog into water vapor. Next the water vapor is decomposed into hydrogen and oxygen, and then finally it combines and ignites the hydrogen and oxygen. Tatsuya had now recognized the true nature of Tuman Bomba.

Tatsuya pulls out his CAD Silver Horn Custom Trident, after his previous experience against Igor, he had some countermeasures in preparation of this. Tatsuya decomposes the water blocking the ignition reaction within a 50 meter radius around them. Tatsuya was able to stop Tuman Bomba this way, but the enemy’s attack hadn’t ended yet. Tuman Bomba began to copy itself, the so called “Chain Cast”.

“Please leave it to me!”

The voice of Miyuki reached Tatsuya’s ears and she activated her magic. She activated “Freeze Flame” which is speed type and oscillation type wide area magic that can freeze even fire. It is a conceptual magic that prevents anything from burning.

“Onii-sama, now!”

“Understood.”

Using the time that Miyuki bought, Tatsuya directs his “Eyes” towards the Tuman Bomba caster. The enemy’s attack isn’t over yet, Tuman Bomba is setup in the sky just outside of Miyuki’s range.

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Even if Tuman Bomba first attempt was prevented, Igor wasn’t upset. Tatsuya wasn’t the only person who learned from their first encounter. At the time, Igor who presumed that the enemy that stopped him was the strategic class magician that used the mass to energy conversion magic, and prepared countermeasures in case he went up against the same opponent. When inputting his calculations into Argan, he had accounted for this type of situation and was prepared ahead of time.

It was unexpected that the enemy used magic that prevented anything from burning, but it can’t stop it when the phenomenon has already occurred so he aims just outside the range of Freeze Flame. Igor patiently waits for the moment his victory is confirmed.

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Tatsuya sensed that more dense fog was being produced in the sky above Miyuki’s magic, it was forming into a reverse funnel-like mass, and her Freeze Flame couldn’t reach it. The shape of this funnel is to produce the Munroe Effect. Tatsuya tries to break up the structure, but even with his decomposition magic activation speed, it would be too late. The fog mass is broken down into hydrogen and oxygen, the oxyhydrogen gas is getting ready to ignite, and due to the Munroe Effect the shock-waves are going to be concentrated on a single point. The funnel is pointed directly at Tatsuya, so he turns around and hugs Miyuki to protect her from the shock-wave that is about to reach them.

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(Victory!)

The last wave of his consecutive attacks hit its target. Igor confirms his victory, since he has his enemy in checkmate and there doesn’t seem to be any problems. The cloud covered sky is opening up as a side effect of this last magic attack. Igor doesn’t have a low-orbiting reconnaissance satellite this time, but he is making use of another satellite that is further away. When he is accessing the observation data of this satellite using the command function installed in the CAD Argan.

“What?!”

In the video display, it shows that the targets are still alive. It was supposed to be impossible for the wooden building to have not taken damage, but it is clearly still there.

(Defensive shield magic…..? Was it enough to stop the last shock wave?)

Igor had not overlooked the possibility of his targets using defensive shield magic. Even if Tatsuya and his fiancée setup a shield, he had calculated that it wouldn’t be able to stand the shockwave. Igor was confident in his accessment.

This variant of Tuman Bomba is what Igor used during the conflict with the USNA over the Bering Strait, during “The Arctic hidden war”. It was this same magic that had buried William Sirius, the former captain of STARS.

(No way, did Juumonji join in on the defense!?)

Igor knew of the existence of the Juumonji and their strong barrier magic. He also recognizes Katsuto as a formidable opponent who has the possibility to withstand his Tuman Bomba.

(No, there was no such information)

Igor began to think he was delusional, but remembered the need for caution in order to move in the right direction from here on. The information department couldn’t have missed this. Igor begins to question every little bit of the information provided to him, looking for answers, and due to his hesitation he lost valuable time to secure his victory.

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Minami is usually awake pretty early in the morning. As a maid, it should go without saying that she should be awake before Miyuki. Nonetheless, at 5 am in the morning she is still asleep.

It was Pixie who woke up Minami with a telepathic communication.

“Get up! Protect your master!”

A shock-wave had just erupted and was blocked, after analyzing the situation and why Pixie had telepathically communicated with her, Minami reached for her CAD. In order to fulfill her mission as a guardian, her CAD is powered on at all times.

As the third shockwave was getting ready to detonate, Minami activates her barrier magic as quickly as possible without defining the specific coordinates. It is a dome-like barrier that covered over the roof. Immediately after the shield is formed the shock-wave hit the shield. Tatsuya’s decomposition magic wouldn’t make it in time, and Miyuki’s magic was out of range.

Minami’s barrier was set to protect against every physical attack, but its ambiguous definition puts a large burden on her magic calculation area. It would have been much easier on her if the definitions were limited to defense against certain objects. Moreover, the shock-wave which struck her barrier was powerful enough to break it. The barrier put up by Minami is similar to the Phalanx of Katsuto, but in order to maintain these barriers is extremely difficult for her.

The defense-type Phalanx has the variables to activate another barrier as soon as one is destroyed, along with the fact that it is a multi-layered barrier, and is the specialty of the Juumonji family. On the other hand the barriers of the “Sakura” series, is a two-stage technique of creating barriers to take on physical attacks and she has to use continuous magic power to maintain the barriers she creates and to make duplicates if necessary.

If it is the same kind of magic, there is no harm caused by duplication. For example, fortification magic, which Leo is good at, does not require a higher event interference power for the next fortification magic.

This is the principal that Minami applies when deploying her barriers, she continues to apply the same barrier magic over and over to prevent the shield from being broken. However, since the barrier she is using is convoluted it is putting an excessive burden on her magic calculation area.

(Don’t lose!)

(I can’t lose!)

(I will protect Miyuki-sama!)

(Illustration)

From an objective standpoint, there isn’t a reason for Minami to defend Miyuki. Unlike Tatsuya she isn’t bound by kinship love. Sakurai Honami who was related to her showed great affection for Miyuki and her family, even though both of them were commanded by the Yotsuba family to be their guardians. Minami has only lived together with Miyuki for little over a year.

Still, Minami endured the pain as her magic calculation area started to overheat, and she maintained the barriers. Minami has thoughts about what the meaning of a magician is and why she continues to protect them. She can’t find a reason nor does she feel that she needs on.

Minami became a shield for Miyuki, confronting the strategic class magic Tuman Bomba. The magic of Igor Bezzobrazov which produces oxyhydrogen gas, and when ignited sends out powerful shock-waves.

The shock-wave disappears, and even though it seems to have taken a very long time, relatively it had only been a few moments. But it was long enough for Minami to reach her limits, as Minami cancels her barrier magic she loses consciousness and falls to the floor. Overheating of the magic calculation area due to excessive use of magic, it was for this exact reason that Sakurai Honami had lost her life.

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In the arms of Tatsuya, Miyuki is surprised, she was aware that the invocation of Tuman Bomba and the shock-wave attack. Her Freeze Flame wouldn’t have been able to defend against it and Tatsuya who was working on a counter attack didn’t have time to stop it either.

Miyuki didn’t think for a second that she would die, and Tatsuya would be cured of any injuries no matter how severe. She had prepared herself for some pain because there would be no way for her to be completely shielded, but that pain never occurred.

“Miyuki, Deceleration Zone! Radius 30 meters!

The effect of “Freeze Flame” had already expired, so she had no trouble activating her next magic. Magic that slows down motions and vibrations of objects within a certain area. “Deceleration Zone” when casted by Miyuki can also go as far as to a molecular level and can stop the motion of gasses. The expansion rate due to the explosion, that is, the rise in the random movement speed of air molecules is also suppressed, the shock-wave attenuates and loses its destructive power.

Tatsuya and Miyuki were both wrong, the counter for Tuman Bomba isn’t “Freeze Flame” but “Deceleration Zone”.

“Pixie, take care of Minami!”

Tatsuya didn’t confirm whether or not Miyuki had activated her magic, his trust in Miyuki is absolute, so he called out to Pixie.

“Certainly, my master.”

Tatsuya’s top priority right now is to not allow any further attacks. Using his Elemental Sight, Tatsuya closes in on the source of the magic.

(Is it not Bezzobrazzoff?)

Tatsuya reads the Eidos of two young women. It is severely distorted and frail (weak constitution), perhaps almost broken modified magicians. Igor had showed up at the press conference to participate in the Dione Project, and was shown to be a man in his late forties. But there is no guarantee that it was actually him, but he should be a Russian male. There was no way to mistake that for a woman in her twenties, Tatsuya confirms this with his Elemental Sight. There is also no evidence that magic similar to Lina’s “Parade” is being used to disguise the Eidos.

(Is it an unrecognized strategic class magician of the New Soviet Union?)

There are a rumored thirty to forty strategic class magicians that haven’t been nationally recognized. Tatsuya himself is an unrecognized strategic class magician. No matter who they are, it is clear that they are the source of Tuman Bomba.

Tatsuya activates his triple decomposition magic “Trident”, it has the same name as his favorite CAD. It eliminates the event interference that is covering the magicians, the information strengthening that protects their body, and then decomposes the body down into constituent elements. From a distance beyond a thousand kilometers, the magic to extinguish human life was activated.

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On the console of the large CAD Argan, the warning light blinks violently. An alarm sounds at the seat of the “conductor” seat where Igor sits. After confirming the contents of the warning Igor is shocked, and at the same time he put his hand to his chest and thought to himself that he was saved.

The two capsules that held Anna and Veronica burst, and the two women disappeared as the capsule was filled with bubbles. The increased pressure due to the vaporization of the human body exceeded the durability of the capsules, causing the excess pressure to burst and damage the Argan. Igor was able to escape, but repairs of the Argan were going to be necessary and couldn’t be used again at this time.

Igor was afraid of this ultra-long range magic attack, that caused those two bodies to disappear. Igrok was an external terminal that helps assist Igor with the magic invocation of Tuman Bomba and also served as a firewall to protect him. Igor was essentially using these two women to activate Tuman Bomba.

Igor was relieved that he had used the Argan this time around, because if he hadn’t, he might have been the one to be erased. He quickly left the train, and walked a distance away from the railroad and gazed back at the train cars that held this large CAD.

There was no further attack, and Igor felt no humiliation. However, he was relieved that he had survived.

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Tatsuya observed the situation and confirmed that the large CAD was damaged and that the two women had been killed.

“Miyuki, that’s good enough.”

“Yes, umm, Minami-chan….”

Miyuki had realized it as well, that in order to protect them from the shock-wave, it had been the defensive magic of Minami.

“Come with me.”

Tatsuya leads Miyuki to the room where Minami had collapsed. Upon seeing Minami collapsed on the floor Miyuki screams.

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