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Escape Chapter (II) is the 25th volume in the Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei Light Novel series.

Synopsis

Who is the power for ―― a savior, or the strongest enemy!?

Tatsuya and Miyuki are attacked by the Strategic-Class Magic of a Thirteen Apostle barely managing to survive. However, Minami, as with Honami who protected Tatsuya in a similar way faces certain death――.

Thus, in order to protect what is dear to him, Minoru seeks the forbidden power of the Parasites of his own volition.

Does his choice sway the future――!?

Tatsuya and Minoru, two non-standard magicians confront each other at last.

Thus, around the same time, the purpose of the STARS rebellion for the assassination of Lina breaks out!?

What is the future of magicians ―― the climax of the story, it goes on!!

Introduction

Spoiler
Early in the morning on Sunday, June 9th, 2097.

The exact time is at 5:06 AM.

The plateau area in the middle of the Izu Peninsula somewhat eastward was subjected to a massive magic explosion attack.

The magic attack “Tuman Bomba” presumed to be due to the Strategic-Class Magic of Igor Andrei Bezobrazzoff, the nationally authorized strategy class magician of the new Soviet Union. The magic attack caused half of the private villas to be destroyed, and fortunately, none had died. Although it wasn’t mentioned, eleven people were seriously injured.

The reason that the damage was relatively small compared to the scale of the explosion is because the houses are sparse and there are few customers in this offseason. Everyone injured was a person engaged in the management work of the villa.

Nonetheless, it is undeniable that the national land was exposed to unfair attacks, threatening the citizens' physical bodies and wealth.

On the same day, the Japanese government announced its intention to strictly protest against attackers who could not determine their identity towards the international community and requested handover of the perpetrators without specifying the partner country.

Although it had been a complete surprise attack, and it was a time zone just after dawn, it shook the army where it is at close range from the ground.

At the same time that image, which is firm evidence of an unfair preemptive strike, even though the Japanese military was aware of the surprise in advance and can make it a material for diplomatic negotiations. If they didn’t make a statement even after their own citizens were injured, it would invite suspicion that they abandoned the people.

Chapter 1

Spoiler
Miyuki stood there screaming as she looked at Minami, who had just collapsed and was now laying on the floor of the dining room. She was dominated by her panic, albeit very brief.

Despite still being trapped in panic, the condition of her body was solved.

"Minami-chan!"

She ran to the side of the collapsed Minami and fell down to both of her knees. Pixie is already sitting next to Minami with a finger on her wrist, checking her pulse. Miyuki sat down on the opposite of Pixie and held her hand in front of Minami's.

A slightly disappointing color faded and Minami's breath could be confirmed. However, Miyuki lost her complexion, touching her neck with her hands held over.

"Cold... the pulse is weak..., Onii-sama!"

With a sad expression, Miyuki looks up at Tatsuya.

Miyuki was petrified by Minami's figure because despite the circumstances differing, the outcome of the present situation was the same as Honami's. This was something she could never forget.

"Minami's condition, Pixie!"

Tatsuya didn’t hide his impatience. His tone when asking Pixie is unnecessarily rough.

"There is no trauma, but body temperature, blood pressure, and pulse rate are all at dangerous levels, master. There is a possibility of death if left this way."

It seemed to be because of Tatsuya's frustration. Tatsuya forbade Pixie from answering using telepathy without permission but currently, she answered by active telepathy instead of machine voice. However, he did not blame her for now.

It was not the case when such a problem is taken into consideration.

Tatsuya directed his left hand to Minami.

No CAD was being held.

[Illustration]

In the right hand, he was grasping the large revolver shape CAD "Trident" used for interception, but there was no time to grasp the CAD for "re-growth" on the left hand. There was no time to get storage for "reforming."

Tatsuya triggered "Regrowth" with his own power.

Eidos restoration magic "Regrowth" is a magic that retroacts the change history of Eidos, and arbitrarily states, in many cases by copying the Eidos without deterioration or damage and overwrites the current Eidos.

Events involve information. Events in which information is rewritten changes according to that information.

Rewrite the information and modify the phenomenon/event. This is modern "magic."

The event information "Eidos" has restorative power, and the rewritten false Eidos is rewritten to the original Eidos as time passes. So magic alterations will not be permanent.

However, "past Eidos" is certainly an information body that describes the event itself. If there is no contradiction in the information, Eidos will not be repaired. However, only the intrinsic change due to the passage of time is adjusted.

Objects that have been rewritten to the information of their own past by Eidos are now fixed to the present state with only a lapse of time without being affected externally from that point. The time is traced back to the time that the event has its own, and the world is overwritten and overwritten from that point in the past is solely for that event.

Tatsuya's" Regrowth" is not to change the "effect" of causation like normal magic, but to change the "effect” by changing the "cause."

The magic of its unique time going backwards, the world restricted renewal was directed to Minami.

──It reads Minami's body information and traces its change history.

He can’t find the cause of any weakness.

──Minami's physical body associated with the body is read and its changed history is traced back.

The cause of weakness has yet to be found.

Tatsuya gets deeper and accesses the information of the girl named Sakurai Minami.

──Read the structure of the imaginary information body connecting Minami's body and mind and trace its change history.

It was difficult for the former Tatsuya.

In the summer 5 years, this was something he couldn’t do for Honami.

It was probably impossible half a year ago and a month ago where he grew more than that summer.

Since it is the psion information body, access itself was possible.

However, although it is possible to read out the general information, it was difficult to completely read the structural information.

But for the current Tatsuya, it was now possible.

Tatsuya regained his true power by completely canceling the pledge. This change was not just limited to his use of Material Burst.

The correspondence area of Eidos restoration magic "Regrowth" was also expanded. It became possible to retroactively copy the structural information of the information body "imaginary body" directly linked to the mind, which his power did not reach until now.

But still, he could not find the root cause as to why Minami is debilitating.

The structure of the bodies is seen in many places.

Due to the locally missing information, there are holes in several places.

However, this is not the cause of weakness but the loophole that resulted from the decline of the repairability of the information body.

Even if this is repaired, it will not be a fundamental treatment unless the original repairability is restored.

However, if you leave corruption of the information body accompanying the mind, damage to the information body accompanying the body will occur repeatedly, resulting in more and more loss of the body.

The body informs the mind to order the body.

A broken body tells the body that information is broken.

From the mind, the body misunderstands that it is ordered to be broken.

As a result, the physical body can not exert the same level of performance as the broken state, despite not being physically broken.

Although it only serves as first aid, if you do not take measures as a temporary surge, it will lead to definitive deterioration.

Therefore, Tatsuya reconstructed Minami's information body by reorganizing it. He rewrites the image information body attached to the body and the structure of the information body connecting the body and the mind with the structure information before being attacked.

Overwritten past information is fixed to the present after automatic adjustment of taking time course into account.

"Body temperature, recovering to 35 degrees Celsius. Both blood pressure and heart rate are out of danger zone." Pixie has been communicating symptomatic improvement with telepathy.

However, there is no sign that Minami's consciousness will recover.

"Pixie, bring your futon here and let Minami go to sleep."

"Yes, master."

"Miyuki warms up Minami to the same temperature as Minami's normal current body temperature."

"Certainly!"

Pixie controls the home automation robot and starts to move, whereas Miyuki's magic interferes with the floor and air.

Tatsuya ran to the phone without confirming their results.

It is not the number 119.

The place he dialed was the Yotsuba's families main line.

"Tatsuya-sama, how have you been?"

Despite being in the early morning, Hayama got on the screen with clothes that had no clutter.

On Tatsuya's side, he is still in pajamas.

However, Tatsuya could not afford to care about it, and he did not want to blame Hayama.

"Please excuse myself for being like this."

Nevertheless, pretty soon, he gets into the main theme.

"The villa was attacked by long range magic, the magic that was used is probably Tuman Bomba."

Hayama's eyebrow jumped up. That was the only indication of his surprise.

"Did you receive any damage?"

Hayama asks in a voice that does not panic and conveys a sense of tension moderately.

"Neither myself or Miyuki received a single scratch, but Minami collapsed with symptoms presumed to be overheating of the magic calculation area. Although first aid has been completed, specialized treatment is needed."

Listening to the phrase "overheating of the magic calculation area," the complexion of Hayama changed slightly. Hayama got a glimpse of the upsurge in a very short time, but the "overheating of the magic calculation area" which is presumed to be the cause of death of the predecessor of the Yotsuba, where for the first time, it seems to be un-ignorable to the Yotsuba family.

"...I got it. We will arrange for hospitalization here. Please wait a while so I could send Hyogo to pick you up."

"We will be in your care."

Tatsuya hung up as he had fulfilled his purpose.

◇ ◇ ◇

Around the villa where Tatsuya is staying, a barrier is set for about one kilometer in radius. The mental interference magic field by the Yotsuba branch family; Tsukuba family.

Whether magicians or not, humans who are not resistant to mental interference magic will avoid themselves unconsciously. If there is a person who has penetrated into the interior beyond its psychological barriers, it also serves as an interpersonal sensor that conveys it to the one who casted it.

However, one special vehicle was parked within the boundary from the start of last night. A camouflaged patterned covert vehicle with variable suspension. Although it is a military vehicle of the Defense Army that anyone could tell at first sight, the magicians of the Tsukuba family do not notice its existence. Besides that, there were no citizens who had been running the public roads so far, but it caught the topic with SNS etc.

Four soldiers are riding in the armored car, which is lowered with variable suspension to the limit, almost touching the ground and had just endured the blast of Tuman Bomba.

"...There is no new reaction in the psion sensor. It seems that the attack by long range magic has ended."

One of them reported to the commander sitting in the front passenger seat.

"Is that so."

The leader in the passenger seat, Lieutenant Colonel Kazama who is the Commander of the National Defense Army 101st Brigade, Independent Magic-Equipped Battalion, doesn't look back to the subordinates selected from their battalion and responds back.

Apart from Kazama, he is not being lazy. It is not ridiculous to think when considering his position and class as the captain.

Kazama closes his eyelids halfway, putting his hands together behind his head he stretches his back, he hasn’t moved about for hours. It was not even when he drove an armored car, but it was constantly running. His upper body, from the dove to the top, kept perpendicular to the gravity of the earth as if the swing of the car was not transmitted only to the wind.

It was due to Kazama's technique that the armored car did not catch on by the barrier of the Tsukuba family.

Recognition inhibition magic, Tengu technique "Cloak of Invisibility."

To not be able to see although you could see.

To not be able to hear although you could hear.

A magic that interferes with the consciousness and makes you think "nothings there," rather than shielding or disturbing light or sound waves.

It is because of this magic that the barrier of the Tsukuba family cannot sense the intruders that are within it.

The reason why the existence of the armored car is not recognized is that the Tengu technique is greater than the barrier of the Tsukuba family.

It is because of this that Kazama cannot move at all. He can’t afford to do anything else while countering the barrier of the Tsukuba family. It is not easy to compete with the Yotsuba, even for someone of Kazama's calibre, who is also known as "Dai tengu."

"Withdraw."

"Roger. Finishing observation, preparing to withdraw."

In response to Kazama's short order, an officer in the driver's seat looks back and gives instructions. Each crew member takes out the medium in which data is recorded from the observation equipment that he/she is in charge of and stores it in the protective case. Two of the noncommissioned officers who put the equipment in the suspended state received the voice "ready for withdrawal" one after another.

"Lifting the vehicle frame."

Simultaneously with the officer's voice sitting in the driver's seat, the suspension lifts the armored car. The armored car that had been lowered to the ground suddenly switched to its off-road driving mode.

"Ready to depart."

An officer is seeking permission to move the armored car.

"Wait a moment."

Kazama did not give them permission to depart.

While still holding off on that order, he opens his eyes that were closed halfway.

It was just after that, the external microphone captured the sound of a motor approaching their armored car.

◇ ◇ ◇

Around the villa where Tatsuya is staying, there is a barrier to keep people away. In the hut that controls it, the operators of the Yotsuba branch: the Tsukuba family were replaced by taking their turn. It was the result of a simple rotation that Yuuka, the next-ranking owner of Tsukuba, stayed in the hut this day.

Nonetheless, the Tsukuba family did not admit any kind of urgency to this and so the task was given to their sole daughter. Yuuka, who was forcibly awakened by the intense magical shock-wave, jumped into the private guard room in her sleep-wear, wearing a gown and her pajamas.

"Report the damage situation!"

A young male practitioner looks at the next head's rough figure. As Yuuka's degree of appearance was zero, perhaps it is a kind of "love that comes once every hundred years."

"It seems that the ground part is nearly destroyed."

But he answered firmly to what he was asked.

The reason they are calm and talking is that both the bedroom and the guard's private room are built in the basement. This monitoring hut is not a villa's surveillance, but a hut to monitor those approaching the villa ------ the basement is the main body and the ground part was for camouflage.

"What is the cause?"

Yuuka was awakened by the magical wave and had an idea of what had happened but regardless, she asked anyways in consideration of other possibilities.

"It is an extremely powerful long range magic attack, and it is assumed that an explosion occurred in the sky, focusing on its shock-waves."

"Concentrated shock-waves! By magic?"

"No, it seems the explosion itself was controlled in order to produce such a result."

"Hmm..."

To be honest, Yuuka did not understand its mechanism well. However, she wanted to know the identity of the magic in this case as it was able to make both its power and control compatible.

"Is it Tuman Bomba?"

"Probably."

The male magician also had the same opinion.

"What about Tatsuya-san and Miyuki-san?"

"There is no damage to the villa and I think that they are safe."

Yuuka soothes her eyes briefly while hearing this response.

There was no discomfort in knowing that Tatsuya and Miyuki had no damage. She was caught up in the report that there was no damage to the villa.

"...The focal point of the shock wave was Tatsuya-san’s villa?"

"A powerful magic shield seems to have blocked the shock wave."

"...Chiho-san, what is your thought on this?"

Yuuka asked the female magician who was her newly appointed guardian.

"Minami-san fulfilled her duties."

Yuuka's new guardian, Chiho Okazaki, returned a clear answer without hesitation.

She is also one of the coordinated body from "Sakura" series. Sakurai Honami, Sakurai Minami made from a different fertilized egg in the roots, so to speak, the second generation of another lineage. Her age is eight years older than Minami and as a magician, it has the apparent appearance of "ordinary company employee" at first glance.

Chiho's magic also follows the adjustment policy of the "Sakura" series. It is an objective/heat shield protection shield. It is best to prevent solids and heat, but if it is a physical object or energy, it shall defend generically.

If the shock wave was scattered, it's Tatsuya's decomposition magic. If its reduced, it is thought to be due to Miyuki's vibration deceleration system magic. But if you took it with a magic shield, it is Minami's. ------------- Chiho's reason was rational, so it was logical.

"Is it even possible for you?"

Yuuka's question was unreserved, but Chiho did not seem to care.

"Probably it is possible, only..."

"Only what?"

She caught Chiho during those short period of time.

"Only that I do not have confidence that I will be able to fulfill my duties afterward. If I took it head-on against that kind of power, I would collapse because of overheating my magic calculation area.”

Yuuka's facial expression changes. Even among the Yotsuba, she is a specialist, a kind of doctor when it comes to the damage of magic calculation area due to overload/overheat. Even if the other party is an escort guardian, she cannot overlook the possibility of serious damage to her magic calculation area.

"I will be ready in five minutes."

"Do you need a hand?"

Chiho seeing Yuuka's condition, judged it to be difficult to finish dressing in five minutes,

"I’ll be fine."

Yuuka declined to be extra careful and returned to the bedroom.

Unlike Chiho who already had put on her pants suit neatly, she went to the garage so that she could get out at once.

Although the ground garage was completely destroyed by the blast, it was made to be extremely simple. Fortunately, it did not become a situation where the car was buried because of its design.

The appearance of the car is a commercial SUV, an off-road car with defensive power like the armored car.

Late as it may be, Yuuka confirmed the state of the barrier as she remembered it.

"Eh!"

"How was it done?"

As Chiho was trying to push the drive lever forward by pushing the start switch of the motor vehicle, Yuuka raised her voice unexpectedly. In turn, she stops the movement and asks the reason.

"Intruder...?"

"Did they get inside the barrier?"

Upon Chiho's cool tone, Yuuka became upset.

"Well, this is a formidable skill, I'm worried about Minami-chan, but I will give priority to this."

Chiho did not dispute Yuuka's judgment.

"We will make an emergency call to all members."

In return, everyone will get in touch indirectly.

"Yes, please. We will go ahead"

Yuuka understood Chiho's intention but did not follow that advice.

"OK."

Chiho did not resist Yuuka's order.

Yuuka points out the direction and they headed off-road. Whoever invaded the barrier, Chiho may be proud of being able to endure with her barrier magic until an ally arrives.

The intruder was at the ninety-degree position clockwise around the villa.

"Army armored car is it not?"

Looking at the sharp form of the camouflage pattern, Chiho asserts so. Yuuka was not familiar with the type of car as much as Chiho, but it was obvious to her that it's a special military vehicle.

"I will talk to them. Stop in front of them."

According to Yuuka 's instructions, Chiho stopped by the road in a position that is able to block the path of the armored car if needed.

"I think that it is better to wait until reinforcement comes."

"...Oh well."

Accepting Chiho's advice this time, Yuuka stayed in the car.

◇ ◇ ◇

Looking at the relatively small SUV that stopped near the front of the armored car, an officer in the driver's seat turned his eyes towards Kazama as a gesture to ask for further instructions.

Kazama unlocks the (open/close) switch on the door.

"Captain?"

"Everyone, wait in the car. I forbid any act of misleading our opponent even if there is hostile intention here."

Like stabbing a nail to his subordinates, Kazama exited from the armored car.

He faces the SUV that was placed in front of him. He kept in mind that in this simple operation, he should understand that their opponent could also see them.

Kazama didn't take any further action and waited for a reaction from the other car, but to no avail.

Kazama noticed the reason immediately. The place where he is now was relatively open. He chose such a topography for the purpose of recording the attack against the villa where Tatsuya resided, but there are still gazes that can block the line of sight from place to place.

People are gathering in their blind spots.

The total number of people is 11. Kazama senses that everyone is a high-level magician.

The doors of the SUV's driver's and passenger's seat opened simultaneously. It seems that they have waited for their reinforcements.

Kazama judged it to be so.

"I am Tsukuba Yuuka, the eldest daughter of the Tsukuba family who reveres the Yotsuba family as the head family."

A young woman came down from the front passenger seat addresses herself with a good voice that passes through to them. Despite being outdoors with wind blowing, there is no inconvenience in listening to one another from a distance exceeding five meters.

"National Defense Army 101st Brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Kazama of the Independent Magic-Equipped Battalion."

Kazama was not surprised that she was able to identify him.

It is not a mystery to him after she introduced her lineage.

"Indeed. I'm Lieutenant Colonel Kazama of the Defense Army."

Kazama responded while remaining stationary, standing next to the armored car.

He was under the impression that his opponent did not desire being in closer proximity with each other, so he stood his ground.

Contrary to his belief, Yuuka moved closer towards Kazama.

To which Kazama immediately reciprocates.

This wasn't solely just a means to show a friendly attitude towards the other party. He was also concerned that he might be seen as a coward if he makes a young woman in her early twenties walk to the side of the armored car where his subordinates rode.

The woman who came down from the driver's seat follows behind Yuuka. It seems to be her escort. Kazama guessed that due to her escort not standing before her, she must have confidence in her defense magic.

(That "Guardian." She might be skillful.)

About the Yotsuba's "Guardian's," Kazama has heard a bit about them from Tatsuya. The fact that the lady in the back who seems to be protecting her is a "Guardian" was presumed based on witnessing the atmosphere around her.

"Kazama, I'm not sure if you know this, but this is private property of the Yotsuba family."

During the brief instance when Kazama's consciousness was focused on the female guardian, Yuuka was closing the distance between them in order to talk normally.

"Strictly speaking, it belongs to a real estate company controlled by the Yotsuba family. But that doesn't matter now. What is the Defense Force doing on this private estate? And to bring such a thing here."

Yuuka is talking about the armored car.

She was wondering how Kazama would respond to the expected question. It was not supposed to be found, so he probably didn’t prepare an excuse.

It was unfortunate for Kazama that yesterday and today was Yuuka's turn in the rotation. Together with the other practitioners, his "Cloak of Invisibility" had never been seen.

But as a matter of fact, their intrusion has been found by Yuuka. It's not that Kazama is being conceited, but rather it's expected somewhere inside him he is taking this lightly. He carved his self-admonition inside the corner of his head.

"I am sorry, but I cannot answer about a military secret."

Eventually, Kazama could not make a good excuse and turned down his answer against civilians.

"Is the military aware beforehand of the attacks targeting civilians by foreign countries?"

However, Yuuka was surprised by this "military secret," and it wasn't a very admirable personality.

"That armored car... It's equipment for information gathering, is it not?"

Yuuka said that and looked back to Chiho.

"Yes, it seems to be specifically for reconnaissance."

The responses of Chiho were not assertive, but the tone was somehow more or less the same.

"Do not get me wrong, we have no hostile intention against the Yotsuba family."

Kazama didn't show a single fragment of disturbance on the surface and rephrased "Yotsuba family" as "civilians" towards Yuuka's words.

"Are you saying the Yotsuba family is not considered as civilians?"

Yuuka quickly pursues the part as to what Kazama is implying.

However, that reply is something that Kazama needs to adhere to.

"Regardless of its substantial form, you are not a complete civilian/non-combatant right."

"...A public servant is not a form that is considered important?"

There was a slight time lag in her response. It is proof that Yuuka could not deny Kazama's argument.

"Are you not able to accept that form?"

Kazama had a moderate smile while asking that question.

Yuuka got stuck in her answer.

"Putting that aside, I would like to know if the military anticipated the attack by Tuman Bomba."

This retort didn’t come from Yuuka.

Kazama quickly turns to the source of the voice that came from behind the shadow of a grooved tree. On his face, there were signs of agitation that could not be hidden.

"Tatsuya..."

"Tatsuya-san..."

At the same time, Kazama and Yuuka muttered his name.

◇ ◇ ◇

After using Regrowth and providing first aid to Minami, Tatsuya sensed something and stared in its direction. Miyuki asked what was wrong, in which Tatsuya tells her that Kazama is here. Miyuki was surprised and Tatsuya says that he must have been found out by Yuuka’s magic.

Tatsuya tells Miyuki that Maya has had the Tsukuba family use their magic to keep people away from this villa. Miyuki was surprised that Maya had taken this into consideration for Tatsuya’s sake. Tatsuya tells Miyuki that he is going to meet with the lieutenant colonel.

When Tatsuya reaches the place where Kazama is at, he is in the middle of a conversation with Yuuka. Kazama would normally have been able to pick up Tatsuya’s presence but since he was distracted with Yuuka, he didn’t notice. Tatsuya wonders if it’s because they are completely on guard when talking with each other, and there is no doubt that Kazama has accumulated some fatigue when deceiving the barrier of the Tsukuba family.

“Was the military aware beforehand of the potential attack on civilians by a foreign country?”

This line struck a chord with Tatsuya, that armored vehicle was specifically made for information gathering. This suspicion was something that Tatsuya couldn’t overlook. As the conversation reached a point where Yuuka was having trouble answering, Tatsuya decided to stop sitting on the sidelines.

"Putting that aside, I would like to know if the military anticipated the attack by Tuman Bomba."

Tatsuya decided to show himself and emerged from the shade of the trees.

"Tatsuya..."

"Tatsuya-san..."

Kazama and Yuuka muttered his name at the same time.

“Lieutenant Colonel Kazama, please answer my question.”

Tatsuya didn’t salute or waste his time greeting Kazama.

Kazama tells Tatsuya that he cannot answer his question. Tatsuya takes his answer as confirmation and continues to question Kazama. Tatsuya tells him that if they had known beforehand, he would have been prepared for the surprise attack by the New Soviet Union. Kazama asks if he is certain that the attack came from the New Soviet Union. Tatsuya says that if Kazama will answer his first question, then he will give more information to him.

While Kazama was pretty sure the attack came from Igor, he was not fully convinced and agrees to Tatsuya’s conditions. Tatsuya tells him that he read the information on the magician that cast Tuman Bomba, and Kazama asks him if he defeated Igor. Tatsuya tells him that he defeated the magicians but it wasn’t Igor. Instead, it was two female magicians. Kazama was surprised to hear this new information and was convinced that they were unrecognized Strategic-Class Magicians.

Tatsuya goes on to say that he doesn’t believe that Igor wasn’t completely uninvolved, but the two magicians were definitely located in the New Soviet Union. Kazama asks if the military vehicle was a train on the Siberian railroad.

For the Defense Forces, this information has great meaning. It is said that Tuman Bomba’s invocation seems to require a large-type CAD that occupies an entire vehicle. However, they didn’t have any evidence to support this theory. Besides when Tuman Bomba was used in the Soya Strait, no such train movement was observed. Because of that, the Defense Forces didn’t have enough information to prove that a special train was used or whether the magic used at that time was actually Tuman Bomba or another magic altogether.

According to Tatsuya’s testimony it was confirmed this time around that a specialized vehicle was used for Tuman Bomba. Tatsuya had expressed that the presumed to be “Tuman Bomba” was used and considering the distance and power it had, Kazama was certain that it was Tuman Bomba. Otherwise, it would mean that the New Soviet Union had another extremely long range and high power magic.

By confirming these facts provided by Tatsuya, he could prioritize monitoring certain targets and would be able have the appropriate resources allocated for observation.

“Lieutenant Colonel, it is now your turn.”

Tatsuya gave his report and now it was time for Kazama to answer his question.

“Did the Defense Army know that a surprise attack would occur at this place this morning?”

Kazama says that he didn’t know exactly when this surprise attack would happen, but Tatsuya questions this and asks that if he couldn’t predict the attack, then why was he here. Kazama couldn’t answer immediately because this would question the military’s ability to analyze information. Even though Tatsuya is connected to the Defense Army, Kazama couldn’t easily tell him what information he had.

Tatsuya guesses that Saeki obtained information about the whereabouts of Igor, and that it was highly likely that he was targeting this villa. Kazama didn’t respond, so Tatsuya could tell his guess was correct.

Tatsuya tells them that he is returning to the villa since there is an injured person over there. As Tatsuya was walking away, Yuuka asks him if it was Minami that was injured. Tatsuya confirms this and continues on to say that she isn’t physically injured but rather her magic calculation area overheated and as a result, she is currently unconscious.

Yuuka offers to bring her to the hospital but Tatsuya rejects her proposal, stating that the Yotsuba family has already requested a helicopter to come pick her up. Both Yuuka and Tatsuya depart without saying a word to Kazama. Until the very last, no words of concern for the injured come out of Kazama.

Chapter 2

Spoiler
The hospital where Minami was taken is near the Chofu apartment. This isn’t a coincidence, the Chofu apartment where Miyuki has moved to was carefully selected by the Yotsuba family. It included a nearby hospital in the case of any major incidents.

Tatsuya is returning to the Chofu apartment with Miyuki. They wanted to stay with Minami but the doctor was reluctant to let them stay.

Miyuki asks Tatsuya if Minami will be okay, and Tatsuya says that she isn’t in any danger of dying. Miyuki was relieved to hear this but Tatsuya didn’t exactly tell her the whole truth of the matter either. He mentions that he only applied first aid and that he couldn’t cure her completely, but since she is a second generation series she should have a higher resistance toward's magic use.

Tatsuya remembers that Miyuki also has a modified body. In general, modified bodies lack stability as organisms. It isn’t uncommon for some to suddenly debilitate and die without any cause. There is no conclusive theory about the cause, however, some hypotheses have been presented. Tatsuya believes that the most influential one is that the “magic of the modified body is being used with the spirit limiter disconnected” or the “Limiter Failure Theory."

According to this theory, the spirit of human beings is not made to be able to exercise magic originally. The magic calculation area is not unique to the magician, it is provided for the spirit of the general human being. However, since the exercise of magic causes a load exceeding the allowable limit to the human mind, usually one hundred percent operation is restricted by a limiter in the unconscious area of the mind. In other words, it is completely frozen.

In rare cases, there are magician’s whose spirit has strong durability against magic, and the limiters are set at ninety-nine or ninety-eight percent. There is an essential difference when it comes to usable capacity when compared to zero percent to one or two percent.

As with muscles, the output increases by using the magic calculation area. And similar to bones and tendons that increase as the body grows in order to support it, the spirit increases in durability against the excessive use of magic. This is what the theorist of the “Limiter Failure Theory” believe. They believe that the limiter release of the magic calculation area and the enhancement of magic output grow in parallel.

Normal magicians can use magic to further improve the natural durability against extended use of magic, which will increase the limiters durability. However, a modified magician that is artificially created doesn’t have the correctly functioning limiter. The magic calculation area which should grow alongside the spirit’s magic durability doesn’t develop at the same rate. The spirit will continue to be damaged whenever the magical load exceeds it’s durability, which spreads to the physical body and effects it in a negative way.

This magical endurance is said to be an inherited trait. Neo-Lamarckism, which asserts the inheritance of physical traits, as well as in the field of mental adaptation of magic, this is an observed phenomenon that “magic genes adapt” overtime. If this mentally spiritual Lamarckism is indeed a fact, then the “Second Generation” is born with the magical endurance of the “First Generation”, and the “Third Generation” would have an even stronger resistance to excessive magic use.

All of this is a hypothesis, and there is no guarantee of it being correct. However, the “Second Generation” Minami was said to have a much higher resistance than that of the “First Generation” Honami.

Miyuki’s sadness and guilt slowly started to fade, and Tatsuya was happy that she finally cheered up. It is an unpleasant fact for Tatsuya that Miyuki has a modified body, and he can’t help but feel uncomfortable. Maya had said that Miyuki has a modified body but that her limiter is functioning normally, or is her original magic endurance power high enough that the limiter is unnecessary in the first place?

Tatsuya has no way to ascertain the truth. Even now, with the seal released, his power cannot reach the spiritual realm. If what Maya had told him was a lie and Miyuki were to die...

This was something that Tatsuya didn’t want to imagine. If that were to happen, he wouldn’t be able to continue living. He had no confidence that he would be able to go on by himself.

◇ ◇ ◇

After the surprise attack, the Japanese government announced its intention to protest to the international community about an attack from an unknown country. However, the fact that the Izu Peninsula had been attacked from long range magic was known by the USNA in real time.

The USNA’s reconnaissance satellites detected a strong magical reaction in the Far East New Soviet territory at the same time that Izu was attacked. It was easy for them to put these two facts together to figure out what actually happened.

Lina would be informed of the events a few hours later.

Saturday June 8th, at the STARS headquarters in New Mexico, there was an information meeting being held. It was a report about the attack on Japan by the New Soviet Union.

“It is believed that the target of this attack was Tatsuya Shiba, the newly found strategic-class magician from Japan.”

“What is Tatsuya Shiba’s condition?”

This wasn’t asked by Lina, but by Canopus. Lina is still in shock and wasn’t in a state where she could ask questions.

“The details are unknown, but he seems to be in good health.”

Lina could hardly conceal her relief.

[Illustration]

Canopus is wary of a possible retaliation by Tatsuya, and Arcturus is discouraged because this means that the assassination mission will not be cancelled. In contrast to others, Vega, who had received the same mission, has a fearless smile.

Walker dismisses them and asks for Arcturus to remain. He also asks him to cast a sound insulation barrier before continuing. Walker, who isn’t a magician, can’t verify whether this is true or not but he believes him. Walker tells him that he plans to move forward with the micro black hole experiment.

Walker confirms that it will performed at the same place as last time, at the National Particle Acceleration Institute at Dallas. The date is set for next week and because Arcturus is the best user of Lunar Magic amongst STARS, it is believed that if a parasite appears, he will be able to deal with it. There will also be a back-up team in place in case something goes wrong.

Lunar Magic is what the USNA military calls mental interference magic. Arcturus has inherited the blood of Native Americans, and his grandmother was said be rather talented with this magic. Arcturus has very little experience using this magic in combat. “Sorcerers” is the USNA’s term for ancient magicians and many Native Americans fell into this group. Needless to say, he had experienced quite a bit of racial prejudice in the past.

The STARS involved in the experiment and the members of the Eleventh Unit are all talented in regards to Lunar Magic, in which they have proven themselves to the point where they are no longer discriminated against.

Walker confirms that Arcturus will be there to look out for the perpetrator as well as for defense against parasites. He also ensures that the Sixth Unit, or the ”Orion Team,” will be outside of the laboratory as well. The Sixth Unit is a specialized group of hunters, who are good at tracking magicians.

Arcturus asks if he needs to coordinate with Captain Rigel, the leader of the Sixth Unit. Walker says that it should be fine and that he doesn’t need to tell him about the experiment being held.

◇ ◇ ◇

The Japanese government announced that the villas in the Izu region were attacked using long range magic, and they didn’t specify a perpetrator. They also indirectly criticized the anti-magic movement, and say that by rejecting magicians they put their own lives in danger by lowering the defense capability against magic attacks by foreign countries. The target of the attack was also hidden from the public, and the fact that Minami became a victim. But complete concealment of this information was impossible.

Lieutenant Fujibayashi received a private phone call. This phone was an emergency line setup through the Kuduo clan with permission from military headquarters beforehand. The one calling was Kuduo Minoru, and Kyouko was surprised that he had called. The only ones to have ever used this line was her grandfather, uncle and aunt.

Minoru apologizes for calling while she is at work, but he wants to confirm something. He asks Kyouko if it was Tatsuya that was attacked by the long range magic. She was surprised by this and asks him how he knows about that, and unintentionally confirms this fact. Kyouko is wondering exactly how Minoru knew Tatsuya was in Izu, she thinks that maybe he heard it from Leo or from Mikihiko.

“I felt strong magic waves collide with each other to the East. But at the same time, I felt that one of them was Tatsuya-san...”

Kyouko was speechless when she heard this, if what he was saying was true than it could a sensory ability that exceeds Tatsuya’s Elemental Sight. Tatsuya’s Elemental Sight can “see” the details of whatever he looks at. However, Elemental Sight needs directionality/intentionality. If he doesn’t try to “see”, then he won’t regardless if something happens unexpectedly.

Passively sensing hostility towards Miyuki is something that Tatsuya has setup intentionally, but even with this he can’t perceive something before it happens.

However, if Minoru felt the magic waves of Tuman Bomba, it means that the magic invocation was randomly perceived at a distance of about 400 kilometers. It must be because Tuman Bomba is extremely powerful magic, but clearly when it comes to passive sensory abilities, Minoru much more adept than Tatsuya. At least Fujibayashi seems to think so.

(Minoru has awoken Elemental Sight...?)

“...Minoru... you, have such a perception ability...?”

Kyouko didn’t get an answer to that question.

“So, is Tatsuya-san safe!? Miyuki-san and Sakurai-san!?”

Kyouko says that Tatsuya and Miyuki are fine but that Minami is in the hospital due to overheating of the magic calculation area. Minoru asks if the Independent Magic Equipped Battalion provided treatment, since they were at the scene.

It was only known by the officers of the Independent Magic Equipped Battalion that they were on scene observing the attack, and this wasn’t reported to the government either. However, from what Minoru was saying it clearly wasn’t guesswork, he had as strong inclination that they were on site.

Kyouko has known that her “cousin” is an excellent magician when he’s healthy. He could even be one of the strongest in the world. But he shouldn’t have this ability that is close to clairvoyance.

(It is as if the devil who brings the forbidden wisdom is possessed by Minoru...)

Kyouko couldn’t help but think of these superstitions as mere delusions, her intuition couldn’t accept that.

(Perhaps the future has begun to change)

◇ ◇ ◇

Even after hearing everything from Kyouko, Minoru wasn’t particularly angry, he did feel some disappointment at the way the military is handling things. He is more worried about Minami right now.

The overheating of the magic calculation area due to magic overuse will damage the spirit. It’s a disease specific to magicians but a cure hasn’t been established yet. This disease especially affects magicians that have been genetically adjusted. According to the knowledge gained from Zhou Gongjin, his unstable constitution is also caused by the overload of the magic calculation area.

In the case of Minoru, the limiter that suppresses the magical power to a level that the body can endure is not working well, but even if an ordinary magician uses too much magic in battle, and if the operation level of the magic calculation area exceeds the allowable level, the limiter will break. The technique to restore it isn’t included in the knowledge gained by Zhou.

(Although it cannot be cured by “me”, it may be possible for the Yotsuba family...)

It was his desire rather than speculation, but this was all Minoru could think about to calm down his frustration with the situation.

Minoru decides to go visit Minami in the hospital, he wants to see her condition with his own eyes. He also wants to discuss with Tatsuya, the possible treatments that could help Minami. Even though tomorrow is a school day, his physical condition should be stable enough for him to travel. Minoru decides to take a leave of absence from High School for awhile.

◇ ◇ ◇

Minami wakes up, she isn’t comfortable and her body feels heavy. She is looking at the ceiling of a hospital, and notices that the sheets are similar to ones used in hospitals as well. There is also an infusion needle stuck in her arm.

(...That’s right! Miyuki-sama!)

Minami tried to raise her body but was unable to, her body is too weakened to do so. She heard a voice, but in her hazy state she couldn’t quite tell who it was. Soon enough she realized that it was Miyuki, both her and Tatsuya were in the room. When she could finally see clearly, she was amazed by Miyuki’s beauty all over again.

Tatsuya tells her not push herself, and Minami asks if both of them are okay. Tatsuya says yes, and that it was all thanks to Minami. She was overcome with joy to the point where her eyes started to water up, the feeling of relief that she fulfilled her duty along with the recognition is overwhelming for her.

Minami apologizes because she passed out after the attack, even though she is supposed to be Miyuki’s guardian, she feels like she failed in that aspect. Tatsuya reassures her that she fulfilled her duty, and that it was because of her magic that they withstood Tuman Bomba’s shock-waves. Tatsuya goes on to say two things to Minami, first is that he isn’t counting on her to just guard Miyuki.

“I only have very few trustworthy friends like, Leo, Erika, Mizuki, Mikihiko, Honoka, and Shizuku. I think that our high school classmates will not want to get involved in our circumstances, even if they can be trusted. The Yotsuba family is on my side for now, but I ever become an obstacle, they won’t hesitate to switch sides. Fumiya and Ayako are trustworthy individuals, but they don’t work just for themselves, although they are allies at the moment, there will be times where they can’t be relied on. Sensei and Lieutenant Colonel Kazama, we cannot rule of the possibility of them becoming enemies in the future.”

Tatsuya tells Minami that she is also one of the few people that he can trust, and that he would like her to not only support Miyuki as a guardian but also as a friend. At least until she finds a partner to spend the rest of her life with. Minami blushes when she hears that last time, it was unexpected for Tatsuya to bring up the possibility of marriage.

Miyuki adds that she is really happy that Minami is by her side, and that Minami needs to take her time to get better. Minami calmed down, she was happy with the fact that she is cherished by Tatsuya and Miyuki. Minami says that she will get better as soon as possible so that she can return to Miyuki’s side to serve her.

The doctors come in, so Tatsuya and Miyuki decide to leave. They tell Minami that they will be back tomorrow.

◇ ◇ ◇

Tatsuya returns to the Chofu apartment with Miyuki, he settles down in the living room and shows no sign of leaving. Miyuki asks him if he will be staying here tonight as she pours him a cup of coffee.

Tatsuya tells her that he plans to go to the villa in Izu tomorrow but that he will be going there to gather his belongings. Miyuki shows some joy and anticipation towards Tatsuya, but since Minami is in the hospital she is less ecstatic than usual. Miyuki wants to get his room ready immediately but Tatsuya stops her and tells her to rest, the shock of Minami’s situation is still apparent.

They both sit down on the couch and being to discuss Minami’s situation. Miyuki asks what Tatsuya plans to do with Minami, Tatsuya is a little confused at first but then realizes what she is asking. Tatsuya tells Miyuki that he can’t make the impossible happen for Minami. Miyuki asks if he thinks that Minami should be dismissed from her guardian duty.

“You cannot used magic until the damage to the magic calculation area is cured, I don’t know if it can be cured in the first place, this is like the “black box” for us magicians, both the structure and nature are unknown to us.”

“Well... It seems that the head of the Ichijou family has recovered smoothly, but this doesn’t mean that Minami will recover in the same way...”

“Even among the heads of the Ten Master Clans, the former head of the Juumonji family has lost the ability to use magic as a result of intentional magic calculation area overclocking. I am not optimistic about any treatments.”

Both Tatsuya and Miyuki have dark expressions that show concern. Tatsuya mentions that even if they recover this time, they are unlikely to be as lucky the next time it happens. Miyuki asks if it is impossible for Minami to be able to continue working as an ordinary magician, and Tatsuya says that she should be able to, however, she will unlikely be able to withstand future battles.

Tatsuya goes on to say that Minami should be able to live a peaceful life after this though, which cheers up Miyuki. While Tatsuya is saying it is possible for Minami to live a peaceful life, this is unlikely to happen for himself. Miyuki understand what Tatsuya is thinking but can’t think of anything to say. Even if Tatsuya wants to live a peaceful life, the current circumstances will never allow that to happen. Even if Tatsuya doesn’t intend to use it, and whether or not they are friends or enemies, his Strategic-Class Magic is something that cannot be ignored. This isn’t a predication, but a clear fact.

Chapter 3

Spoiler
June 10th, Monday.

Even with the extraordinary events that happened Miyuki went to school as usual. Tatsuya still being exempt from school decided to go back to the hospital to check up on Minami.

Minami is currently standing up but is attached to an auxiliary exoskeleton, which is a wearable assistance device for medical use. The doctor advised that those who are going to bedridden for a while use this device in order to return back to a normal lifestyle when they regain their strength and coordination.

Tatsuya is familiar with the device, the assistance system has fast feedback speed. It has similar functions to the military mobile suites that Tatsuya has used before.

Minami mentions that she still hasn’t regained feeling yet, so she doesn’t mind using it.

“Are you paralyzed...?”

Minami replies that “paralyzed” is a bit of an exaggeration, and that she just feels really sluggish. Tatsuya asks what the doctor said, and she replies that since neither her brain nor neural tissue was damaged, and that this would be temporary due to her weak condition. Tatsuya was somewhat relieved but he still had a worried look on his face.

Minami then asks Tatsuya a question.

“Why is Tatsuya-sama so concerned about me?”

Tatsuya seemed a bit confused about her questions, but immediately turned a bitter smile to Minami.

“It must indeed seem strange to see me, a man who lacks emotions, worrying about a stranger."

“No, it’s not like that!”

Minami quickly tried to correct Tatsuya’s misunderstanding. Tatsuya goes on to say that for her to think that isn’t wrong. Minami was ashamed of her rudeness but doesn’t intend to make any excuses. Tatsuya asks her how familiar she is with his condition, but he didn’t expect Minami to answer so he goes on to say that he can only have genuine feelings for Miyuki. And he tells her that it is accurate to say that he doesn’t have any strong emotions unless it involves her.

Tatsuya says that Minami is like a sister to Miyuki, and that he recognizes that fact. His main reason for worrying about Minami is because of Miyuki. While this might be considered rude Minami is still honored that they care about her so much.

Tatsuya isn’t confident in explaining exactly how he feels about Minami, and she didn’t ask anything else concerning the subject.

Tatsuya tells her that he will be coming back with Miyuki later, and that she should rest and recover. Minami agrees with him, and gives him a slight bow before he leaves the room.

◇ ◇ ◇

In truth Miyuki wanted to take the day off school. She didn’t feel like she could concentrate on her studies with Minami still in the hospital. She wanted to stay by her side.

However, even if she was there she couldn’t help out with the treatment. It could even make her recovery time worse, if she unintentionally releases psion waves that could stimulate the magic calculation area, it could affect Minami in a negative way.

She wouldn’t intentionally release these psion waves, but even after the seal being release she isn’t confident that she has complete control over her magic. Compared to Tatsuya who can control himself perfectly. With these circumstances considered Miyuki went to First High School as usual.

As soon as she stepped into the classroom, Honoka and Shizuku rushed up to her and asked how she was doing.

“That announcement by the government yesterday, it was the same place where Tatsuya-san’s villa is!? Miyuki, you said you would staying overnight there!”

Honoka and Shizuku both noticed that it was Tatsuya who was the target of the long range magic.

“Yes... Tatsuya-sama and I are fine, but Minami-chan was hospitalized and is currently receiving treatment.”

Shizuku asks if Minami was injured, but Miyuki says that it wasn’t an injury but something similar. Overheating of the magic calculation area is limited to magicians, but it isn’t considered by the general public to be an injury or illness.

Shizuku asks how bad it is, and Miyuki says that she doesn’t know when Minami will be able to leave the hospital. They ask if they can come visit her, and Miyuki says it should be okay but will ask the doctors first.

◇ ◇ ◇

The sound of someone knocking at the door is heard by Minami. This hospital is located in the Yotsuba’s territory, but the hospital itself isn’t used exclusively for the Yotsuba. There was little possibility of a suspicious person being allowed to see her.

When she asks who it is, the person replies “Kuduo Minoru”. This was someone that Minami never expected to come visit her, although she tried to answer back calmly her mind was screaming “why is he here”. Minami’s mind started to race with questions, and she desperately wants to check her physical appearance before allowing him to enter. She asks him to wait a moment.

Minami raises her bed to a position where she is sitting up, and she activates the auxiliary exoskeleton to help support her body in this position. With the assistance of the exoskeleton she fixes her appearance and takes a look in the mirror to make sure her hair isn’t in disorder.

She tells Minoru he can enter, and Minami was taken aback by his appearance, it was almost as if the room was flooded with a bright light when he walked in. He asks her how she is feeling, and it took Minami a minute to finally stop staring and answered him. She then thought to herself how does Minoru know that I’m in the hospital, and how he knew which one.

Minami finally replies by saying that she isn’t in any pain, but that she is very weak, she should get better soon according to the doctors. Minoru smiled when he heard this, and Minami started to blush again, but his smile only lasted for a few seconds. He asks her if there is anything else wrong with her, like can she see clearly and can she hear clearly as well.

In reality Minami did have these symptoms, but she wonders if she should tell Minoru about them. She doesn’t know if she should make him worry any more than he is.

“It can’t be helped if you don’t want to tell me. It is natural to think so, but this is something important. Sakurai-san, I want you to answer honestly!”

[Illustration]

Minami couldn’t resist not telling Minoru. She tells him that she can barely feel anything, and Minoru confirms by asking if her sense of touch is getting dull. Minami couldn’t bear to look at him any longer, she faced away with a sense of shame due to her own helplessness. She says “yes” to Minoru’s question and asks him to call her Minami from now on.

Minoru had to think about this for a minute, not very often does he call a cute girl by their first name. The only exception was Miyuki, since she and Tatsuya shared the same last name. This is quite embarrassing for him. Minami embarrassingly says that if he doesn’t she will have to start calling him “Kuduo-sama”.

“Understood, Minami-san”

Minami goes on to explain that there is neither brain nor neurual tissue damage, so these affects are most likely temporary. Minoru doesn’t look convinced and this facial expression makes Minami anxious.

Minami was taught at the Yotsuba family manor about the instability of her modified body, she knows that at some point her “time” will be up. And it might even be her time right now, she knows that overloading the magic calculation area can sometimes lead to death.

She has no regrets though, she used all her power to protect Miyuki. It was something she was prepared for, even before it happened. As much as she tells herself that she is okay with what happened she is still afraid to die.

“Minami-san, umm, may I touch your hand...?”

“...Yes, go ahead?”

With the help of the exoskeleton Minami reaches out a hand to Minoru, and they both started blushing. In addition Minoru covered her hand with both of his, and after a minute Minoru released her hand. He tells her that her injury hasn’t started healing, and her magic calculation area is still damaged. She has no reason to doubt his words but it is still a hard fact to face.

“I will definitely find a cure, so don’t give up.”

Once again similar to how she felt when Tatsuya last visited, Minami is wondering why someone like Minoru cares so much about her.

“...Yes, thank you very much, Minoru-sama.”

◇ ◇ ◇

Tatsuya was packing up his things at the villa in Izu. Pixie was serving Tatsuya lunch, when Hyougo arrived. He informs Tatsuya that Minami had a visitor yesterday at the Chofu Aoba Medical Center, the hospital she is currently at.

Tatsuya asks for more information and Hyougo says that the person was able to visit Minami’s room. Tatsuya mentions that the people allowed to visit Minami was limited and was wondering just who it might be that could have persuaded the staff. And Hyougo mentions that it was the third son of the Kuduo family, Kuduo Minoru.

It didn’t take Tatsuya long to figure out how Minoru came to know about Minami’s situation. Fujibayashi was apart of the 101 Independent Magic Equipped Battalion that was observing the attack by the New Soviet Union. So Minoru most likely heard about it from her. Tatsuya is also unsure about how Minoru feels about Minami, while they became friends last year, it didn’t seem like they were particularly close.

Tatsuya asks if he is still at the hospital but Hyougo says that Minoru only stayed for twenty minutes before leaving. Tatsuya says he understands the situation and will contact Minoru, and he orders Pixie to bring up Minoru information on the terminal. They exchanged contact information last year so Tatsuya still knows how to contact him.

◇ ◇ ◇

When Tatsuya called Minoru, he was on a train heading back to Nara. Minoru didn’t pick up the phone call but not because he was ignoring Tatsuya, but because he was having a conversation in his mind.

Minoru isn’t talking to himself but talking with the “knowledge” which he absorbed when he took in Zhou’s ghost.

(It will be difficult to repair her magic calculation area)

(Why is it not possible to cure? Why is the Ichijou family head recovering smoothly?)

The cause of Gouki’s collapse wasn’t publically announced but it was known among the Ten Master Clans that it must due to overheating of the magic calculation area. The announcement from the Ichijou family just said that Gouki is recovering smoothly, and the Kuduo family was aware of this as well.

(The damage to Ichijou Gouki must not have been that serious)

Minoru wonders why Minami’s condition is so different, and Zhou says that she should recover physically, as long as she continues to rest. Minoru was relieved to hear this information.

(But, the damage to the physical body was caused by the damage to the magic calculation area right? Will the issue not reoccur if the original cause isn’t taken care of?)

(The possibility of recurrence will naturally be low, because unlike “me” she doesn’t have to worry about excessive magic power that her body can’t handle)

Having this information being pointed out by the “knowledge” (of Zhou), strikes a nerve for Minoru. It is evidence that he should be an excellent magician. But in his case, it is a shackle that keeps him bedridden most of the time. While Minoru was upset with this he feels that it is more important to cure Minami.

(Does that mean that physical complications will recur if you have an increase in psion activity)

When practicing magic, there is an increase in psion activity within the magician. The stronger the magic, the greater the activity. If the increased activity leads to impairments in the body, Minami would collapse after each use of high-leveled magic. Advanced magic would become practically useless to her now. The situation is slightly different for Minoru’s condition.

Minoru continues to think about his own helpless situation, but then turns his thoughts back to Minami.

(...If you cannot use magic, can you still live normally?)

(Unfortunately, I cannot say for certain. She has a genetically modified body. Most likely, both parents were modified magicians as well. Even if you don't try to use magic yourself, it's possible that the magic calculation area will overload and exceed the limits of the body.)

(Just like me)

Zhou repeats that his situation is different, Minoru has a very high recovery rate so that even when his body is weakened, he will recover. However, in Minami’s case she could lose her life.

(...But she was saved this time)

(Someone must have immediately repaired the spirit)

Minoru thinks that it was Tatsuya, he doesn’t know the magic abilities of Tatsuya. When he watched the monolith code match in Tatsuya’s first year, he should have been injured due to Masaki’s excessive magic attack. Remembering that encounter, he believes that Tatsuya must have an advanced self-healing ability. He must also be able to use it on others.

Minoru believes that the only treatment method for both him and Minami, is to fuse with a parasite.

(In order to save Minami, she must be given parasite)

◇ ◇ ◇

Tatsuya and Miyuki arrive back at the hospital to visit Minami again. Tatsuya asks her about Minoru’s visit.

“Did Minoru say that he will find a cure?”

“Yes, Tatsuya-sama”

When Tatsuya heard the part about Minoru holding her hand, he dismissed any impolite intentions that Minoru might have had, and genuinely thinks that Minoru is trying to help Minami recover. Miyuki asks if Minoru has knowledge about how to cure Minami.

The treatment of the magic calculation area is a challenging issue even for the Yotsuba family, who has been working on a cure for many years, and has yet to see any breakthroughs. Tatsuya mentions that during last years Thesis Competition, Minoru brought forth a theory involving mental interference magic and it most likely deals with gaining knowledge about the magic calculation area.

However, this research has been going on within the Yotsuba family since the establishment of the former Fourth Institute and still no cure has been found.

Tatsuya decides that they should stop speculating about Minoru, and what knowledge he might possess. He decides to accept Minoru’s goodwill.

Tatsuya turns to Minami and says that she should continue undergoing treatment from the doctors here. He also mentions that the Yotsuba family has made this research one of its top priorities, and that she should relax and wait for good news.

Minami says “yes” but there was some regret felt from her tone. She tells Tatsuya that if possible could he tell Minoru to not push himself so hard. Tatsuya asks her if she felt that Minoru seemed somewhat strange. Minami confirms and says that while he was worried about her, he seemed to be hiding some serious issues.

Whether it was Minami just being anxious, Tatsuya couldn’t tell. When he looks at Miyuki he can tell that she looks worried about Minoru’s situation. Tatsuya doesn’t know Minoru too well, he only spent a little bit of time with him during autumn of last. However, this latest behavior doesn’t match Minoru’s usual personality.

Chapter 4

Spoiler
June 11th, Tuesday morning. The students of First High School were restless, and the cause of this was that Miyuki wasn’t alone when she arrived at school today. Tatsuya had come to school today after a very long absence.

Tatsuya’s group of friends found him immediately and greeted him. Honoka asks him if he is going to be coming back to school, and Tatsuya says he will only be here for a day. Tatsuya walks with his friends and then splits up to go to the Magic Engineering Class.

He arrives at his classroom with Mizuki, Leo and Erika. Mizuki wonders how busy Tatsuya is with the Stellar Furnace project, and Tatsuya says that he is really busy with it, so he can only come to school occasionally. Mizuki shows a bit of a lonely, sad face, but quickly covers it up with a smile. She says that she’s happy to just to be able see him every once in a while. Erika quickly nods showing her agreement.

They ask Tatsuya about Minami, and he says that she will recover but that it will take some time. It wasn’t only them that wished for her recovery, but also Tatsuya. Tatsuya is concerned about how to deal the issue of how to escort Miyuki to school. He had let her go to school alone yesterday, and it would be very rare for anyone to harm Miyuki. Tatsuya can also protect her even if he isn’t close by.

However, there are some troubles that can’t be dealt with if nobody is by her side. Even for the Yotsuba family, it would be difficult to be able to send someone to watch over Miyuki at school. Tatsuya was thinking that he might have to at least escort Miyuki to and from school from now on.

◇ ◇ ◇

Tatsuya returned to First High, not because the disturbance related to Project Dione had calmed down. Rather due to the countermeasures made by Tatsuya the week before, the situation was heating up. Due to the attempted murder through use of a handgun, the event caused the mass media from being unable to be around First High. Since the identity of "Taurus Silver" has already been clarified, it can be said that there isn't a need for him to be interviewed and put himself at risk of being harmed.

The turmoil going on, there's a sense that its spreading around on a world scale away from Tatsuya's surroundings. Among the four superpowers, while the New Soviet Union supports the USNA's Project Dione, the Indo-Persian Federation is showing the attitude that they are practically siding with Project ESCAPES even though there hasn't been an official government announcement. In countries other than the four superpowers, Europe generally supports Project Dione. ESCAPES has support from West Asia to Southeast Asia, though Brazil and Australia haven't stated who they are siding with, and neither has the Great Asian Union stated their position.

The fact that both sides show no signs of competing with one another, its complicated matters. Both Project Dione and ESCAPES are consistent with the terms of using magic for peaceful use. Thus both of them can't beat the other. Judging just based off from published materials, implementation of Project Dione doesn't mean that ESCAPES can't also be promoted, and vice versa. It's only that the same magician can't participate in both projects at the same time.

By recognizing that both projects are compatible with one another, the propaganda unfolding between Tatsuya and Edward is progressing in Tatsuya's favor. This is due to the advantage that Tatsuya has more brains than Clark, but this ins't a fight with a referee with a "knock-out". Whether its now or later, cheating is worth it only for victory. Edward is lagging behind Tatsuya in the battle of theory, so he is relying on the power of the masses.

◇ ◇ ◇

At the same time classes were starting at First High, Major General Saeki was visiting the government building of the Ministry of Defense. After finishing her meeting there she returns to base, and summons Kazama to the command room.

“...I’m sorry... are you ordering me to convince Tatsuya to participate in Project Dione?”

“The section chief of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has no authority to order us.”

When Saeki was summoned to the Ministry of Defense, this was the subject of the meeting. Soldiers hate when there is disruptions to the chain of command and Saeki is no exception.

“Is it because Tatsuya is “Special Officer Ooguro Ryuuya” that this request came to you?”

“It seems to be that way”

Apparently not a lot of people know exactly what the “Special Officer” title signifies for Tatsuya. The current Defense Army does not recognize the title of “Special Officer”, it would be appropriate to call it "treatment given to those who belong to the regular army as a normal condition than a temporary occasion for those from a militia”. Since there isn’t a term corresponding to this condition it is simply called “Special Officer”.

Therefore, it is inevitable that people would misunderstand Tatsuya to be a regular soldier based on the sole meaning of “Special Officer”. Saeki who is constantly involved in military legislation could not be mistaken on this fact, and it isn’t surprising to her that the Ministry of Defense overlooked this.

They move on to discuss whether it would be possible to persuade Tatsuya in the first place. Kazama asks if the Ministry of Defense and Foreign Affairs have recognized that Tatsuya is the operator of Material Burst. Saeki says it doesn’t seem to be that way considering their request today.

Tatsuya is the greatest military asset that Japan possesses. A wild card that can change the military balance of the world on its own. Although it could be seen as a nuisance depending on who you ask. Nevertheless is would be insane to let your strongest military asset leave Japan to work on Project Dione.

“Better yet, how about announcing Tatsuya as the 14th “Apostle”.”

“...It’s not a bad idea”

“Your Excellency?”

Kazama had intended that as a joke, but Saeki considered that suggestion seriously.

“If the situation were to get any worse, it may be a matter worth considering. If he was revealed to be a Strategic-Class Magician, the bureaucrats would think twice before handing him over to the USNA.”

“That’s true...”

Saeki says that it will depend on how this situation develops in the future, she then asks Kazama if he would be able to persuade Tatsuya, and he says it would be impossible. Even if he could persuade Tatsuya to go the USNA, he could never recommend it.

Kazama goes on to say that their current relationship with Tatsuya isn’t good, and that they are at fault. The incident with the attack on Tatsuya’s villa did not help them at all. Saeki says that it was her decision and due to that mistake the chances of persuading Tatsuya are nearly impossible. Also if they tried to force it on him, it would ruin their relationship even more.

“Then do you think we can gain Shiba-kun’s favor by refusing the request by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?”

“Well... What do you think?”

Kazama says that no matter what we do Tatsuya will not participate inProject Dione, and that their interference in anyway would be unwelcomed. Kazama is suggesting that they do nothing for the time being. After thinking it over Saeki agrees, she says that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ request was unofficial, so there will be no harm if they ignore it.

Kazama leaves the commander’s office. He thinks that he should talk to Tatsuya about this, but then immediately rejected that idea. The speculation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Defense Force is meaningless for Tatsuya. It will not help repair their relationship. He also believes that if the idea of becoming the 14th “Apostle” does come about, then he will need to confirm Tatsuya’s intentions firmly.

Tatsuya has already obtained unfavorable worldwide recognition as “Taurus Silver”. Kazama has no doubt that Tatsuya would immediately reject becoming a recognized Strategic-Class Magician. Kazama can’t help but be concerned with this new estranged relationship with Tatsuya.

◇ ◇ ◇

What was going on between Tatsuya and Edward, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wasn't the only one getting involved. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Minister is struggling with the pressure being added on from the leader of the ruling party. Trade is an important jurisdictional field of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The USNA is the most important trading partner, and as a bureaucrat he is trying to keep trade friction as low as possible. Its not a joke to them by making one of their civilians go to the USNA, even though its true that they want Tatsuya to go quickly to America.

Though this morning, the Office of the Minister inquired about the legislative measures that are necessary for implementing the "Magic Stellar Furnace Energy Plant Project". This meant whether it should be set in concrete about the direction of not participating in the USNA's Project Dione.

Neither Project Dione nor ESCAPES are public works projects that the government had even decided on in the first place, that meant whether Japan participates or not. The New Soviet Union which is considered as the most cooperative, has also expressed cooperating through its academy and not the government. Not even the Japanese government has done anything, for things aren't at the stage where its difficult dealing with the USNA. Due to ESCAPES being conducted in Japan, it can be said that its the original role of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to examine its legal aspects. Though what the Office of the Minister inquired about was the pressure if it were considered "to support". The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry investigated why it all came to this. There was a petition at the Office of the Minister. It came from multiple large corporate groups that are a major source of funds for the ruling party. Though not all of the business world, there are a few businesses that are opposed to ESCAPES so as not to offend the USNA. Although the feeling of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, is that the project of a high school student has enough momentum to divide the business world.

◇ ◇ ◇

Tatsuya did not move from his classroom seat until the morning class was over. Since becoming a Third Year student, the technical curriculum related to magic has increased. However, the general education subjects didn’t get dropped completely. Tatsuya was intensively taking lectures at triple speed in general education due to his absence.

Unfortunately, it was not an amount that would end in half a day, but he also does not expect to get back all the delayed subject in a day either. Just as lunch break started, he got up to go for a meal.

"Tatsuya-san, are you going to have your meal------"

"Shiba-kun"

A young boy’s voice interrupts Mizuki as she was saying "...our meal."

The owner of that voice came from Tomitsuka.

“Mizuki, please go to the cafeteria first.”

After answering Mizuki, Tatsuya turns towards Tomitsuka.

"Tomitsuka, do you need something?"

"...I have something that I need to talk to you about."

After showing a slight hesitation, Tomitsuka answered Tatsuya with a tormented look.

"Is this going to be a long talk?"

In contrast to Tomitsuka, Tatsuya doesn’t seem to be very enthusiastic about this.

"Maybe"

"Is it not possible after school?"

Nevertheless, he still showed a willingness to listen.

"If possible, immediately,"

"But is this going to be a long talk?"

"That is... That's right"

Tomitsuka hesitated to say so.

"Why, are you acting all important. Isn't it okay to hear what he has to say."

A hysterical voice is heard from the side.

"Hirakawa-san...?"

Hirakawa Chiaki is staring at Tatsuya. Tomitsuka was the one who is more embarrassed rather than Tatsuya.

"Such a way of saying...! Tatsuya didn't say that he wouldn't listen right?!"

The one who refutes Chiaki was Mizuki, instead of going to the cafeteria, she stayed there to support Tatsuya.

An unexpected ring-side battle between a fellow classmates might occur, but Tatsuya's restrains her with a "Stop Mizuki", it was over before the anything took place.

"Mizuki. I'm sorry about this but I will listen to Tomitsuka's story for today's lunch break. Would you please let everyone know?"

"...I understand"

While Mizuki looks dissatisfied, she bows to Tatsuya and leaves the classroom.

"Tomitsuka, where do you want to talk?"

"Umm, let’s go to the rooftop then."

Tatsuya lightly raised his eyebrows because other students can still eavesdrop on the rooftop.

"Understood"

However, if Tomitsuka is okay with it, Tatsuya doesn’t care.

"Thank you, Hirakawa-san"

Tomitsuka says this to Chiaki in a quiet voice, who was clenching her fist, and then chased after Tatsuya's back which had already leave the classroom.

Contrary to Tatsuya's expectations, there was no one on the rooftop. Tokyo had its rainy season start last week, even today is a gloomy cloudy sky, where it looks like it was ready to rain at any time. It's obvious then as to why there are no students who want to spend their lunch on the rooftop.

There are benches on the rooftop but neither Tatsuya nor Tomitsuka sat down.

These two people face each other while standing.

"So, what is it that you want to talk about?"

The one who starts first was Tatsuya.

"...The other day my mother collapsed"

"It seems that Tomitsuka Hitsui, president of the Magic Association was admitted to the hospital. I heard about it from Miyuki. That was quite unfortunate."

Tomitsuka makes an angry look to Tatsuya who evaluated it like it was somebody else’s problem.

"But that is a matter between the President of the Magic Association and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I don’t see why you are complaining about that to me."

Tatsuya also took a look at Tomitsuka's expression, but he did not take into consideration about his personal feelings.

"The way you say that is wrong isn't it!"

Tatsuya's cruel manner of speaking has made Tomitsuka red with anger.

"Picking a fight with a younger girl, "that way of acting" is unnecessary too"

However, Tomitsuka flinches towards Tatsuya's severe manner of speaking.

For the first time since Tomitsuka came here, he finally noticed that a cold anger dwelled in Tatsuya's eyes.

"So Tomitsuka. I suppose your errand today is to get rid of the Magic Association President’s worry by sacrificing me?"

"I didn't say anything like sacrificing!"

"But you want to drive me away to the USNA?"

"Such a thing like driving someone away..."

Tatsuya voice which was full of spite, exceeded his expectation.

"I... that plan, I really thought that it can benefit magicians..."

"Tomitsuka. Do you not understand the true goal of Project Dione?"

This time it was Tatsuya voice which was filled with slight irritation.

Tatsuya intentionally lets Tomitsuka, who doesn't know about anything, hear about it, and cause him to forget his anger against Tatsuya's ruthless attitude and he starts to panic.

"True goal...?"

"The true goal of Project Dione is to expel magicians from the earth and confine them to Jupiter, the asteroid belt, and Venus."

"...What?"

"Magicians will be stationed on satellite orbits, but USNA, New Soviet Union, and British magician will be also be affected by this position. If I were to participate in Dione plan, I would not be able to come back for more than 10 years after being launched to Jupiter's satellite orbit. It's possible that my banishment will be for my entire life."

Rather than "expel to island" its "expel to space", Tatsuya's voice had a sarcastic tone, but it has yet to reach to Tomitsuka's consciousness.

"No way, something like that... Aren't you overthinking it too much Shiba-kun...?"

"I am not expecting you to swallow everything that I've said. Read the published material again by yourself. Our talk shall continue after that."

Tatsuya said so and turned his back to Tomitsuka.

There was no voice calling him back from behind.

Even if Tomitsuka himself decided that Project Dione was beneficial, and approached Tatsuya again, Tatsuya doesn't intend to agree with his persuasion.

I will not participate in Project Dione.

I will never go to space while leaving Miyuki back on earth,

I will never go anywhere while leaving Miyuki behind.

That is a decision that no one can change.

To put it simply, what Tatsuya did right now is stall for time.

However, it wasn't a lie that he wanted Tomitsuka to realize it himself regarding the evil intention lurking behind Project Dione.

Tomitsuka who disappointingly watched Tatsuya's back, and although Tatsuay is already out of sight, he remained stuck there for a while.

"...What was that all about?"

Tomitsuka stands alone and muttered, and that results in him feeling the falling raindrops.

"True goal? Expel to space? It's absolutely like a conspiracy theory isn't it?"

However, no matter how much he denies, Tatsuya's words are stuck in his heart and won’t go away.

The rain soon became a heavy downpour.

Tomitsuka doesn't mind getting wet by the rain, or maybe he doesn't even notice that he is standing still on the rooftop.

"I haven't heard anything like this. Nobody ever said such a thing."

To put it correctly, no one around him talks about it.

On the program that he watched and listen to, that kind of opinion never came out.

That's all.

No matter how much information is readily available, there is a limit to how much information one person can obtain by themselves.

In the end, it is one selves own thinking that shall be the foundation to rely on.

"It's true goal? That's just him overthinking it. Things like expelling to space, there is no way the public opinion can allow something like that."

Nonetheless, "my way of thinking", it isn't something that can be formed by myself alone. It should be formed under the influence of the information that has been presented.

In cases like Tatsuya and Tomitsuka, experiences, information gathering, and thoughts that have accumulated are far too different.

It is not superior or inferior, they are just too different from one another.

The conclusion that Tatsuya has come up with was unacceptable to the current Tomitsuka.

Probably Tomitsuka’s way of thinking is more normal.

The rejection he showed must have been shared by many people.

◇ ◇ ◇

Edward has been calling Igor countless times since his failed attack at Izu, but hasn't answered. Edward is on a call with William McCloud and neither one of them are able to reach Igor. Its morning in London for William and the middle of the night for Edward in Los Angeles, but Edward doesn't know if Igor is in Moscow or in the Far East.

Edward says that its unfortunate that Igor refuses to contact them. Thus, William says that there's no choice that Igor is a person on the east side that is hostile to them. That they are in bed with him though they have different dreams. Though from the beginning they knew it was impossible to try and control Igor who had decided to take action on his own.

Edward asks William if Igor hasn't given up on attacking again (Edward when addressing Igor no longer uses "Dr." when mentioning him). William agrees, and says that they should exercise force when intending to bury the mass energy conversion magic. Edward, while unintentionally stirring his hair roughly, he says that if William waits a little more... Thus prompting William to ask if there is a prospect of success. Where continuing on Edward says that he thinks there is a prospect, but guesses that its 50:50 since they don't know the full extent of Tatsuya's abilities. William agrees that it does depend on the magical power that Tatsuya has.

William asks Edward if even with Hliðskjálf, if he doesn't know about Tatsuya's power. He tells him that unfortunately that the nickname "Untouchable" doesn't seem to be for show. "Untouchable" is the nickname of the Yotsuba Family. Prior to Tatsuya being outed and regardless of him, as an opponent that needed to be buried, Edward was targeting the Yotsuba Family. When Maya had access to the Hliðskjálf terminal, Edward used this to collect information on the Yotsuba Family. However, Maya didn't dance to his tune. Even from her use of Hliðskjálf, Edward rarely knew about the abilities of Tatsuya and magicians of the Branch Houses.

William asks if that's so and feels disappointed while sighing. William had no intention of insulting Edward, but his pride was greatly hurt. William finishes the discussion by saying that there is no choice for them but to pray for Igor's success, and he apologizes to Edward for it being late; whereas Edward apologizes to him for it being early in the morning. Finally Edward tells him that its normal for him to wake up at this time and wishes Edward a good night. Though "Good night" was sent as an Auto-text, Edward didn't feel like sleeping at all.

Chapter 5

Spoiler
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, there were no major developments both domestic and foreign.

The conflict between Tatsuya and Edward seemed to have entered a lull.

However behind the scenes, Raymond's conspiracy was steadily progressing.


Saturday, June 15th. Outskirts of United States of North American Continent, Dallas, Texas.

A long linear accelerator with a total length of 30 kilometers is housed at the National Accelerator Laboratory. That morning, around the accelerator, preparations for the secret experiment were progressing. The contents were implemented, the micro black-hole formation-evaporation experiment based on the Extra-dimensional Theory. The same experiment was conducted in December of 2095, but the purpose at that time was to obtain clues to figuring out mass energy conversion magic. Although the purpose this time around, it wasn't for the observation of the energy produced from the evaporation of the micro black-hole. The formation of the micro black-hole itself didn't need to succeed. Today's secret experiment was to draw out the presumed agent that would enter the laboratory. Nonetheless for the scientists, it was a precious opportunity to have permission to restart the experiment. They didn't want to waste the chance, so they were enthusiastic even with a having short notice.

To deal with the agent, neither the Intelligence Staff nor the Counter-terrorism Unit were involved. It was the Magician Unit STARS under the command of the General Staff Office. If there really is an agent, they would be considered to have a high magic skill. This is also the reason STARS is involved, other units aren't involved, since the strategy was strongly proposed by STARS in the first place.

Arcturus asks Regulus if there are any abnormalities and Regulus reports that there are none since at the moment, there isn't anyone that would look like an agent.

In the security center where the entire laboratory is monitored, packed inside is Captain Alexander Arcturus of STARS Unit 3. The individual he is communicating with is First-Class, First-Lieutenant Jacob Regulus of Unit 3. Regulus is inside the control room of the accelerator, looking out for any suspicious movement of a possible agent.

Arcturus tells Regulus to continue observing. Meanwhile a Constellation-Class member asks Arcturus if the information about Japan being involved with the matter about First-Lieutenant Fomalhaut is credible along with him not believing that a Japanese agent could be so capable.

(Those in STARS are ranked in the order of First-Class Star, Second-Class Star, Constellation-Class, Planetary-Class, and Satellite-Class. This hierarchy is separate from the classes, and during an operation it is often that non-commissioned Constellation-Class members are under the command of a Planetary-Class.)

Arcturus responds with a stern gaze while saying that the Japanese military succeeded in developing autonomous weapons using parasites the year before (Arcturus decided to disclose information with low confidentiality to subordinate so as to prevent his morale from falling). He mentions that the timing coincides and that although, the basis for the claim isn't sound, there is a strong possibility that the Japanese military was involved with what happened to Fomalhaut. There is a misunderstanding behind his reasoning. The member apologizes for his doubting him on groundless claim.

(The autonomous weapons using parasites ── the concept of applying parasites is done though an original Shikigami technique. Although its possible to move the fuselage of an aircraft through the use of the Shikigami technique or an artificial spirit, the required magic skill can't be demonstrated, and the advantage of an aircraft controlled by use of an electronic brain can't be acquired. Due to this, such a thing wasn't recognized as being practical until a parasite is available. In other words, when correctly using a parasite as a weapon when its one step away from completion, at first a parasite doll isn't a thing that can be developed from a parasite.)

Not limited to this one thing, the "basis" provided to Regulus and reported to Arcturus and the base commander Walker were all added "circumstances" distorted by superficial facts. All so that they are made to believe in the "involvement of a Japanese agent" to restart the micro black-hole experiment.


Though a suspicious person had not yet been discovered, someone had already entered the laboratory. No, though even if someone wasn't discovered, the suspicious person wouldn't be recognized. It was only natural, especially since the intruding suspicious person who entered had an entrance pass issued by the National Science Agency.

Raymond acquired a provisional pass instead of a visitors pass by way of his father, and watched on in admiration at the accelerator while on the roof of the laboratory's administration building. Raymond was the one who sent the emails and invented the "involvement of Japanese operatives", thus prompting the experiment to be carried out. In order to form a combat force against Tatsuya, he thought of having the parasites called upon again. For that purpose he used Regulus' drive for revenge.

Regulus remains unconvinced that his friend Fomalhaut needed to be executed without any mercy, and gave into his anger. All by himself, he was dancing to Raymonds tune. Regulus is far more superior as a magician than Raymond; Arcturus is playing to the farce of a play he wrote.

Raymond can't come close to the magicians that belong to the elite group called STARS, but they are playing in a comedy on a stage he planned by himself. Though, there is a serious outcome that is to occur that can't be laughed at as a comedy. Raymond came to check everything out. He couldn't feel satisfied with just viewing through Hliðskjálf, directly. All just to satisfy his curiosity and sense of accomplishment.

All of the real officials, they are hanging around for the micro black-hole experiment which they thought they would never have the opportunity to do again. There wasn't anyone who accused Raymond while he leaned over the railings with his elbows doing nothing.


11 AM. The scheduled time for the experiment.

STARS isn't involved in the experiment itself. Regulus is in the control room, he won't leave, he can't leave. He doesn't intend to get involved in the experiment whether or not it succeeds or fails. He's too occupied thinking about Fomalhaut who was killed. It wasn't only the agent that suggested the experiment to call the Parasites. To capture the agent, locate their organization, and to crush it. These are his (Regulus') strong feelings.

As one of the scientists carrying out the experiment announces the start of the accelerator, Regulus keeps an eye out for any suspicious people. The linear accelerator starts to operate by use of an enormous amount of electricity used for it. A proton beam is injected into both ends of the accelerator, and it accelerates at the opposite ends on a collision course. The first experiment ends in an instant. Then go to conduct another again and again until the desired data is acquired, but today there isn't a second time after the first attempt.

There weren't any problems with the accelerator. It's because the experiment was successful on the first attempt that immediately after hearing the start of the experiment, Regulus' view from within the control room for the accelerator becomes covered by darkness. He suspected that there could have been a blackout. Only a moment after thinking about the reason, the next moment he feels a strong pain and a feeling of pressure.

"Something" started to erode "him". That it was being forced into him. It wasn't physical. He intuitively understood that it was not something invading into his body. For Regulus, this kind of pain was something completely different from the Mental-Interference attacks he received while training. If he were a women with experience, he might have thought that the pain resembles that of a women's first time being taken.

Regulus struggled to push back that "something" in order to escape from the bad feelings that were being pushed into him other than the pain. He doesn't have an aptitude for Mental-Interference Magic, he also doesn't know how to move when his mind is being used to manipulate his limbs. Instead of trying to counter the Mental-Interference-Type Magic, Non-Systematic Magic, where in the end he tries to use Release-Type Magic to shoot an electrical shock into himself. However, his countermeasure against the Mental-Interference-Type Magic and Non-Systematic Magic was ineffective against what was invading him. He tried to use lightning magic for his suicide, bit it didn't activate.

The erosion progressed. The "something" that was invading him, he couldn't feel its intentions. Though that "something" mixed itself with him. The eroding became an assimilation of him in time. The pain started to fade, the sense of pressure started to fade away as well.

──No way, is this a parasite!?──

Fear rapidly grew.

Regulus' ego screamed.

However it was like the last brilliance of a fading candle,

It got quiet, quickly.

Fear, also anger of a fictitious agent sank to the bottom of his consciousness.

His mind became calm.

(──I am called Jacob Regulus.)

(──I / we are called "parasites", by the humans of this world.)

Thus Regulus became parasite.


Arcturus is at the security center, where he clearly recognized that something was invading into his mind after the experiment.

Due to him being a user of Spirit Magic, he was able to not feel any pain or feelings of pressure like Regulus. He's good at using Movement-Type Magic and is proficient at using Ancient Magic to summon a spirit. When a spirit is summoned he can use Ancient Magic to exercise its power. To the senses of a modern person, it may be an image called magic that's an evil spirit that possesses him and utilizes his power. Arcturus was used to the feeling that "something" other than himself was living inside of him. That even if "something" invaded his mind, that he wouldn't be overwhelmed. Thus it meant he had the ability to cope with whatever could invade his mind. Arcturus made a miscalculation, it was that the invader ── the parasite didn't have an ego.

The "something" is a spiritual entity other than himself.

However, it itself had no desires.

Therefore, he couldn't distinguish it from himself.

It had no desires, there were just the one's from within himself.

As if water were seeping through a dry cloth, it bite into his heart.

Knowing that his skills couldn't impede what was invading, fear began to grow within Arcturus' heart.

He summoned a spirit and tried to drive out the "something".

However, the spirit did not respond to the Arcturus' summons.

The "inside" of Arcturus was full of the invader.

Something other than him bite into himself.

Something other than himself was mixing with himself.

In no time what was "erosion" changed into "assimilation".

Arcturus himself felt satisfied.

A true sense of unity that couldn't be obtained by summoning a spirit.

──This, a person and a holy spirit, this is true unity──

For the pure Arcturus, this was his last thought.

(──I am called Alexander Arcturus.)

(──I / we are called "parasites", by the humans of this world.)

Thus Arcturus became parasite.


While on the roof of the administration building, Raymond is staggering and complaining of pain he's feeling, saying that "it hurts" over and over again. The erosion of his mind was due to the pain from other than the "something". Raymond hasn't received any training to counter an attack from Mental-Interference-Type Magic, thus he is in unbearable pain. While filled with pain, he doesn't recognize the feeling of pressure felt from that "something" that's pushing inside. And yet, Raymond's strong ego strongly refused the existence of another other than himself that which was trying to erode his mind. Due to him resisting, the pain also intensified. He didn't know that he was resisting, and this couldn't stop.

After his incessant exclamations of pain, due to the constant pain, his mind breaks. The weakened resistance to his ego, it was fortunate for Raymond. His ego's resistance decreased and the rate of erosion increased. Raymond lose the ability to continue on, for he could no longer utter the word "hurting", and he just laid quietly on the floor. Raymond was like a corpse, his desires were gone.

The erosion progressed rapidly.

The assimilation progressed rapidly.

"Something" invaded him, because there was no resistance, Raymond's desires were pulled within.

Raymond's desires, they were dyed in the color of the "something".


Raymond had given up on himself, that he had no power to become the leading character.

However, in reality he wanted the leading role.

Raymond wanted to play an active part in making the romance of a heroic saga succeed.

To conquer the universe with magic. He though such a thing is very romantic.

Raymond, he thought to deny Shiba Tatsuya from obstructing his saga.

In order to make Shiba Tatsuya submit, it was impossible with just his power.

STARS' strongest magician, "Sirius" isn't an enemy with power.

Therefore, he asked for the power of the parasite.

If STARS' magicians asked for the power of the parasites, they would be able to make Shiba Tatsuya submit. ──Raymond thought such.

For that, the stage was prepared.

With the power of the parasites, Shiba Tatsuya could be defeated──


(──It's Raymond's / our wish.)

(──Raymond / we would like to defeat Shiba Tatsuya.)

(──I am called Raymond Clark.)

(──I / we are called "parasites", by the humans of this world.)

(──Raymond / we, will make Shiba Tatsuya submit.)

Inside of Raymond, his warped hope became a pledge.


Parasite were invited again to this world.

The parasites assimilated, Regulus, Arcturus, and Raymond, but not just these three people. Those of STARS' Unit 6 were waiting outside of the building, the three people of "Team Orion" were turned into parasites.

After the end of the experiment five people excluding Raymond, without remembering that they're human beings, they returned to the STARS base headquarters in New Mexico

Raymond had an emotionless expression, when he returned to his home in California.

◇ ◇ ◇

Sunday, June 16th.

Kuduo Minoru once again arrives at the warehouse that stores the parasites.

It is the middle of the night, no one from his family knows that he is here. They all think he is sleeping in his room.

The other day when no one was around he left the mansion to go visit Minami in the hospital. Only his grandfather was concerned about his whereabouts and Minoru lied about what he was doing. He feels bad for lying to his family, but he really wants to cure Minami.

Minoru doesn’t understand why he is willing to go this far. He may be aware of it but consciously chooses to ignore it. Perhaps it’s love at first sight, but Minoru is unsure himself.

Unlike last time, Minoru uses magic to enter the warehouse. The magic he used was “Electron Golden Silkworm” which he learned to use through Zhou’s “knowledge”. This was how Chen Xiangshan was able to enter the Kanto Branch of the Magic Association building, but this technique is even more refined since no alarms were sounded.

Minoru enters the warehouse and walks up to one of the sealed parasites. The frozen body he walks up to is a man from East Asia, and is one of the parasites that Tatsuya sealed at First High’s training forest. There are letters and patterns engraved in the skin, which seal the parasite in the body.

This is the source for the parasite dolls. By loosening the seal, a portion of the parasite is allowed to escape and then that partial parasite is trapped into another corpse or doll. Once the parasite enters the corpse or doll it is once again sealed inside its new body. This is how the Ninth Laboratory was producing parasite dolls and is the current research of their magic development team.

Now that the parasite production has been halted, the sealing technique must be re-casted every twelve hours by a member of the Kuduo family. The next scheduled time to reapply the seal is at 6 am, right now the current time is 4 am. Minoru picked this time to come here because the seal would be naturally weaker.

Minoru opens the coffin that the man was contained in. The man was dressed which relieved Minoru because he had no interest in seeing a naked frozen man.

Minoru places his right hand on the chest of the frozen man.

There is no pulse or heartbeat felt.

Minoru releases his psions into the frozen body.

After a few seconds, the psions begin to react.

The parasite that was dormant in the body has woken up.

Minoru gasped.

But he quickly tensed his body to overcome his hesitation.

Minoru decided to lift the seal on the corpse.

A “slime” made of light comes out of the body.

Minoru didn’t know how to describe this phenomenon, it was truly like a ghost, but wasn’t either.

The “slime” heads straight for Minoru.

Minoru didn’t try to avoid it.

Instead he opened his arms up inviting the “slime” in.

Minoru is wearing a summer sweater, that has strange patterns and letters on his chest.

The sweater is imbued with magical properties, that’s charged by Minoru himself.

The parasite is sucked into Minoru.

Minoru moans in pain.

He is sitting on the floor of the warehouse, he frowned at first because it didn’t feel like his own body/spirit.

Minoru starts to move certain body parts to make sure he’s in control.

Next he activates cooling magic, setting himself as the target.

He lowers his body temperature to a point just before causing a death-like state.

This is to help suppress the potential rejection of the parasite.

Minoru struggles to hold onto his consciousness.

Minoru is trying to rule over this parasite.

He is trying to overpower the parasite with his own will.

He only wants the power of the parasite, not the parasite itself.

(I will not lose to creatures without egos!)

Minoru carefully begins to use his slavery magic to take over the parasite.

(I will not be overcome by this feeling)

(If I’m overcome even a little bit, there is no point in continuing to be the same person!)

While fighting against the will of the parasite, Minoru had certain thoughts on his mind.

(If I stop being myself, how can I expect her to stay as herself!)

He decided to absorb the parasite in order to keep Minami from dying.

The “knowledge” of Zhou says that regardless he has become a different person now. Minoru didn’t succumb to this information by Zhou, because even if he has now become a parasite he still remains in control. And now that he has proven it, he has no doubt that it will work for Minami. He sacrificed his own body for the experiment, and in a way that gave his body the power of demons.

With this new information he will make sure that Minami recovers successfully. If you need to just kill the spiritual form, certain measures might become a decisive factor. For example Miyuki’s “Cocytus” which was able to destroy a fusion of parasites.

But if you want the parasite to comply, this method will not work.

The opponent isn’t like a ghost that has lost its life like Zhou.

It is a living being that doesn’t possess a material form.

In order to tame it as part of yourself, you need to strengthen your heart so that you’re not overcome.

This blind determination drove Minoru to this point.

But this strong determination brought victory to him, even though it was reckless.

Follow me and be a part of me!

As dawn was approaching, the assimilation of the parasite was concluded.

(I am Kuduo Minoru)

(I can hear a voice trying to connect to me)

(It whispers “Become one”)

(But)

(I am myself)

(Not “us”)

Even if he was assimilated with the parasite, Minoru remained as “Kuduo Minoru”.

The cooling magic he applied to himself has started to wear off. The lingering frostbite was immediately healing, this was due to the healing regeneration power of the parasite. He also understood that an organ that hadn’t existed before is now located behind his forehead.

But, for the moment, this new organ hasn’t had an impact on the consciousness of Minoru.

Minoru begins to laugh, while lying on the floor of the warehouse.

[Illustration]

Chapter 6

Spoiler
Sunday evening, June 16th.

Just around the time when Miyuki was considering going back, a new visitor came to visit Minami in her hospital room.

"Yes, who is it?"

Miyuki responds to the knocking sound, she rises from the stool and stops Minami who felt obligated and headed for the door.

"It's Kudou Minoru"

"Minoru-kun?"

Miyuki stopped on the way and looked back at Minami.

Minami nodded with an embarrassed facial expression.

Miyuki's lips reflexively continued.

"Yes, I'm opening it right now,"

Miyuki opens the door.

Miyuki and Minoru face each other at a reachable distance.

Was it lucky or unlucky that there was not one person who saw this sight?

A girl with otherworldly beauty and a boy clad with an inhuman-like beauty.

If an artist was given the possibility to draw this exact moment on a canvas, he may have sold his soul.

A poet may die of despair for not having the right words to commemorate this scene.

"Minoru, did you come to visit Minami?"

"Yes, umm, can I come in?"

But for the people in question, this is just a daily routine.

"Here you are"

Miyuki did not lead Minoru, but made way for him.

Minoru brought light pink roses and the same color gerbera(daisy), arranged together with orange carnations. Miyuki thinks that it would be better for him to personally hand this over to Minami.

Sure enough, Minoru who handed out the arrangement had a pale redness on his cheeks and slightly diverted his eyes from Minami, and Minami who received the flowers turned red and looked embarrassed.

Miyuki was tempted to watch this forever, but as expected she reconsidered that it was bad to do so.

"Thank you, Minoru-kun. “Minami, where do you want to put it?"

Both Minoru and Minami's bodies tremble at the same time.

Miyuki somewhat struggled to endure not laughing.

"Oh, that, well then, over there..."

Miyuki received the flower arrangement from Minami's hand with a smile and put it on the side where she designated it.

"Ah, um, where is Tatsuya-san...?"

Minoru, who is unable to endure the uneasy feeling, suddenly changed the topic.

"Oh, Minoru-kun, do you have a business with Tatsuya-sama?"

Miyuki responded immediately. Was it because she felt sorry for Minoru or because Tatsuya's name was mentioned.

Maybe both.

"He was heading to the doctor's office a while ago, even now, I think that he is still there. Are you in a hurry?"

"No, it's not urgent, but there is something that I'd like to consult with him."

"Consult with me?"

The voice came from outside the door that was still open.

"Tatsuya-sama! Have you finished talking to the doctor?"

"Yes, more or less I learned what I needed to."

While answering Miyuki's question, Tatsuya closed the door. --------- The reason why Miyuki did not close the door wasn't due to her forgetting but rather it was on purpose because she thought it was not good to shut the door to the room with a man, despite there being two girls.

"Well then Minoru"

While saying that, Minoru turns toward Tatsuya and get’s straight to the point, knitting his eyebrows.

It seemed that it was not a conscious action, but his facial expression immediately returned back to the way it looked every day,

"What is it that you wanted to consult with me?"

He continued without interrupting his speech.

Minoru who was facing Minami did not immediately open his mouth.

No, he could not open it.

"... It is about Minami-san’s body"

Eventually, he bitterly squeezes out what he wants to say.

"Understood, let's change locations."

"Please wait!"

Tatsuya was apprehensive about Minoru's unusual state, but Minami herself disagreed with that decision.

"Tatsuya-sama, Minoru-sama. If this is about my body, please let me hear about it too."

"But ..."

Minoru expresses his reluctance to respond to Minami's complain.

"Please! I would like to know the truth!"

"...I understand, Minami-san."

But in the end, he abides by Minami's wish.

"Would it be better if I gave you my seat?"

“"No"”

The person whom Miyuki asked was Tatsuya, but Minoru and Minami both answered at the same time.

Minoru and Minami continually exchange glances and come to a compromise.

"...I think it's better if Miyuki hears about this too."

Minami responds by nodding silently towards Minoru.

During that dialogue, Tatsuya brings a stool from the corner of the room and gave it to Minoru.

"Let's sit down first"

Minoru who had a grateful facial expression sat down on the stool that was given to him by Tatsuya.

Miyuki returns to the bedside stool where Minoru was sitting, Tatsuya sits next to her, and Minoru sits at the end of the bed.

Minoru who was facing Tatsuya, Miyuki, and Minami opened his mouth with a hesitant look.

"... I do not know what the doctor said, but Minami-san’s "injury" is an injury that cannot be completely healed."

The expression that was given was not wrapped in a candy layer, maybe because Minoru might not be able to do so. (????)

It was Miyuki who seemed to be the most shocked by his words. She covers her mouth with both hands, her eyes are wide open and she looks to be petrified.

After hearing Minoru’s words, Minami did not show any signs of being shocked, at least on the surface.

And as for Tatsuya,

"You understand this, don’t you Tatsuya-san,"

He looks back at Minoru with calm eyes.

"No, it’s not that I don't understand, but I disagree with the opinion that full recovery is impossible. Apparently, what Minoru thinks is a "full recovery" and my definition of a "full recovery" seems to be different. Is Minoru saying that Minami's magic calculation area will never be restored completely?"

"Tatsuya-san’s way of thinking is that as long as the symptoms don’t worsen then she can fully recover, right."

"That’s not the case, but there is no point in arguing about the details. What is the problem that Minoru really wants to discuss?"

"...A modified body lacks stability as a living being."

"Is this about the problem of sudden death?"

"Yes, that's right. There shouldn't be any abnormality from a medical aspect, but one day, death could suddenly happen, as if a fire from a candle is blown out by a sudden gust of wind.”

Looking ahead in Tatsuya's line of sight, Minoru's eyes are dyed in dark colors.

"Both Minami-san and I are burdened by this destiny."

"Why..."

How do you know Minami has a modified body?

Miyuki murmured.

Minami kept staring at Minoru.

"The risk of sudden death is increased if the magic calculation area is damaged, is that what Minoru wants to say?"

"Yes, you know about this too, right Tatsuya-san"

"I was investigating the sudden deaths of modified magicians before because I had a family member who died the same way."

"Is that so?..."

Minoru wondered whether or not he should say his condolence’s here, but he did not know the circumstances, and even if he said it, he didn’t have the heart to express it that way. Thus gave up on saying so.

"Overheating in the magic calculation area jolts and destroys the information body attached to the body. Corruption of the information body is transmitted back to the entity. Normally, the activity in the magic calculation area is kept within the range that does not destroy itself, but this safety trigger does not work well for a modified body. This is my hypothesis that I consider being the most reasonable."

"I think that theory is correct, and overheating in the magic calculation area is always damaging that safety."

"Damaging the safety leads to overheating?"

"I do not know if overheating occurs as a result of the safety being damaged, or whether overheating destroys that safety."

Contrary to his speech, Minoru's face showed a lack of confidence accompanied by a reliable expression cannot be seen.

"However, the cause is not relevant at this time."

Minoru did not look away from Tatsuya and said that in one sentence.

"The safety is broken. That’s what matters."

As of now, what is the problem? The heart of the matter.

"Is it not?"

"It certainly is"

Tatsuya fully confirms Minoru's assertion.

"Minoru is worried that Minami will suddenly suffer serious damage from abnormal operation in the magic calculation area right?"

"That's right"

This time Minoru nods to Tatsuya's words.

"Minami-san’s current state is increasing the possibility that the tragedy of a modified body will become a reality. That is what I think."

"But didn't you say that there is no way to repair the magic calculation area, or is there another safety?"

Minoru didn’t answer immediately.

"...Minoru. Do you have another solution?"

Tatsuay further inquires.

Minoru looked down to escape Tatsuya's gaze.

"...Yeah."

Even with that short answer he couldn’t meet Tatsuya gaze.

"What is it?!"

"......"

"Minoru."

Tatsuya rises from the stool, taking a half step, and moving sideways.

He gets closer to the bed instead of leaving it.

He protects Miyuki and Minami behind him.

"You, what have you become?"

Minoru raised his face that was looking down before.

He looks up at Tatsuya and the corners of his lips rise.

Tatsuya did not forget that smile.

It closely resembled the smile of Zhou Gongjin whom he had seen in Kyoto.

"──Do you finally understand?"

Miyuki vigorously stands up.

Miyuki was familiar with the Psion wave which drifted out from the body of Minoru, together with its unearthly atmosphere.

"Parasite? Something like that, it cant be...!"

Minami is staring at Tatsuya's back while forgetting how to blink.

Tatsuya’s body obstructs Minami’s line of sight towards Minoru, therefore, he cannot be seen.

"Please do not worry"

Minoru stood up and smiled at Tatsuya and Miyuki.

With that smile, there is no longer a resemblance to Zhou Gongjin.

"I am a member of the Kudou family who made the parasite doll. Even among the Kudou family, I am the number two magician after my grandfather. I am acquainted with the way to rule over the parasites."

"I beg to differ."

Tatsuya denies Minoru's words.

Minoru does not understand and questions Tatsuya with his gaze.

"It's not number two. You are the number one from the Kudou family. It is the highest peak of the magician who bears the number "nine".

Tatsuya wears a difficult expression, answering with a poor tone and intonation without a grin.

"...I'm glad."

In contrast, Minoru gave a genuine smile.

"To be recognized by Tatsuya-san."

Even if it is a smile that draws out the soul of his opponent, Tatsuya does not move at all.

He did not let his guard down.

"Oh please. Don't be so alarmed."

If there is one who lacks in nervousness, it was on Minoru's side.

He is looking around with a puzzled look on his face.

"Even if I have become a parasite, I am who I am. I have not received any erosion against my ego. I do not want to attack humans and besides that, I have not suffer from desires that I never had before."

"But Kudou Minoru was a human being. Your current self is a parasite."

"That's... That's right."

Minoru looked slightly hurt hearing this.

"Still, I am myself. I am still Kudou Minoru. With proper knowledge and power to cope with it correctly, I will never lose myself, even if I merge with a parasite. I was able to prove that on my own."

With confidence and a look of strong reassurance on his face, Minoru says this to Tatsuya, Miyuki and Minami.

"There is no need to be afraid of becoming a parasite."

"Minoru. You’re ──"

Tatsuya murmured in a low voice that could still be clearly heard.

"Do you want Minami to become a parasite?"

Miyuki quickly took out her CAD from her handbag that she has been holding this entire time.

"The body of a parasite has high resistance to Psion waves"

Hesitation could be seen before Minoru answered. Perhaps it can be said that Minoru’s lack of change was the proof.

"By fusing with parasites, there is no need to worry that the body will be damaged even if the magic calculation area runs wildly. No, a parasite which is closer to magic than human magicians may not even need to worry about the magic calculation area running wildly."

"If that is the case, perhaps you should ask whether Minami is willing to do it."

Tatsuya will not move between Minoru and Minami.

The line of sight from these two people is blocked.

"However, I will have to selfishly impose myself here."

To be precise, Minami's master is Miyuki, but it was not a scene that needed such rigidity.

What you need is the basis for speaking up.

"It's rejected. I will not let Minami become a parasite,"

"Tatsuya-san?"

Minoru was seriously surprised.

Apparently, he seemed to believe that Tatsuya would not oppose his idea.

"But if we leave it as it is, Minami-san could suddenly die at any time!"

"If it is caused by overloading the magic calculation area, there is a way around it, even if she doesn't become a parasite."

"So it is impossible to repair the magic calculation area! If you can recover the function of the safety, I wouldn’t have made this proposal to begin with!"

"Even if you do not rely on safety, you do not have to worry about it running wild if you seal the magic calculation area from the outside."

Minoru opens his eyes widely.

He took one step, and two steps back, and finally regained his footing.

"Tatsuya-san, you... are you saying you’re going to take away Minami-san’s magic?"

That was something unbelievable to Minoru.

To take away magic from a magician. It is something that takes away the meaning of being a magician.

For Minoru who has lived in a place where he is judged only on being an excellent magician, to speak of this kind of outcome is unforgivable.

"I want Minami to live."

"For that reason, are you going to deny her being a magician!"

"Being a magician is not the only way to live among humanity. Minami can spend her life more peacefully as a normal girl."

"That is Tatsuya-san’s wish, isn't it! You don’t have the right to take magic away from Minami-san!"

[Illustration]

"I see, certainly, my wish is to take magic away from Minami. But Minoru, your wish will result in robbing Minami of "being a person". Do you understand that?"

"Let Minami-san choose if that's the case! It is her life. If Minami-san refuses to become a parasite, then I will give up too. Minami-san!"

Tatsuya continues to block Minoru's view of Minami as usual.

But Minoru still cried out to her, regardless.

"I do not want to let you die! I do not want your magic to be taken away from you! I beg you, please become the same as me!"

Minami's has a very intense look on her face.

She doesn’t intend to become a parasite.

Her determination will not allow her to throw away her humanity at once.

So, she decided to leave this to Tatsuya, regardless of whether or not she would cast away her magic.

But Minoru's word shook Minami's heart strongly.

"Like I said, Minoru"

However, Tatsuya decided to dispel any kind of confusion,

"Rejected"

Tatsuya cuts Minoru's words with a cold voice of steel.

"Tatsuya-san, please move aside! I want to talk to Minami-san!"

Finally, Minoru got drastic.

From Minoru to Tatsuya, magic is released.

That magic was simple movement magic. It was formed by Minoru with the intention of moving Tatsuya to the side, who has continually obstructed his way to Minami.

However, there is neither an accelerating process nor a decelerating process activated.

In an instant this high speed aggressive magic made everything clear.

Tatsuya's reaction was reflexive but precise.

He disassembles the magic sequence that attacked him with "Gram Dispersion".

"Minoru, what is the meaning of this."

"So annoying, move aside!"

Minoru relies on the fact he is an exceptional magician.

He cannot lose when it comes to magic skill, that is something that he is confident in and strongly feels in his heart.

By invalidating his magic, Minoru is furious.

He was pale.

He has never lost a magic battle with the exception of forfeit due to absences.

There is a lack of experience being shown here.

For Minoru who was giving up on everything because of how sickly his body was, the thought of being "If only I was healthy" is close to his deep conviction.

As long as I'm healthy, I cannot lose when it comes to magic.

Although it was only a single exchange, that thought has been overturned.

Even if an inexperienced boy who is 17 years old loses to me this year, there was plenty of room for sympathy.

If only he was an ordinary boy.

But Minoru is not "ordinary".

Even now, his "humanity" has begun to disappear.

Different from before a stronger, faster magic attacked Tatsuya.

Tatsuya also invalidated this magic with "Gram Dispersion" again, but unlike the first time, Tatsuya sees this as an enemy attack.

Tatsuya's consciousness switches to a magician without mercy.

Tatsuya who disassembled the magic, instantly shortens the distance in that interval.

He pushes his right palm towards his belly.

It is not a hit. Rather, the momentum is more suitable to be called "gentle".

In the next moment, Tatsuya's magic is released from his right hand.

A shootout at zero distance, its "acceleration" magic.

That magic does not affect only the part of the body that was touched by the palm, but it blows Minoru’s whole body back.

Actually, Minoru body danced through the air.

However, Tatsuya's didn’t receive any kind of feedback.

The body of Minoru, which should have hit the door, made contact without a sound and descended to the floor.

Minoru executes acceleration magic for himself using acceleration magic that Tatsuya invoked as a stepping stone, flying from the door, neutralizing inertia, eliminating the impact, and minimizes the distance between Tatsuya.

"Miyuki, Maximum Zone Interference output!"

"Yes!"

Tatsuya's instructions were conveyed before Minoru's feet reached the floor.

At the same time Minoru lands, Miyuki's Zone Interference covers the hospital room.

Minoru glances at Minami, unlocks the door and quickly pulled it open.

Miyuki's Zone Interference designates the interior of the patient room as it's range.

As soon as Tatsuya tried to close the distance between his opponent, Minoru went out into the hallway──outside the range of the interference magic.

The window panes that were dead-bolted broke and blew outside.

Minoru, who is eye-to-eye with Tatsuya, jumps out of the window that had just been broken.

Tatsuya did not misunderstand the meaning of Minoru's gaze.

"Miyuki, stay by Minami’s side and protect her."

"Onii-sama!"

"I’m accepting Minoru's challenge."

Minoru didn’t run away with his tail between his legs from Miyuki's Zone interference.

──Collateral damage may occur if he fights in the hospital room.

──He might injure Minami.

Minoru loathed that possibility and he thus invited Tatsuya out.

If Tatsuya were to stay here, he would withdraw at once.

But Minoru is obsessed with Minami. Despite the brief exchange, it was more than enough for Tatsuya to understand.

He does not know when he will go for Minami again.

Tatsuya's top priority is guarding Miyuki.

Besides, when it comes to men and women, he cannot be by Minami's side twenty-four hours a day.

The best choice is to neutralize and capture Minoru here.

Tatsuya followed Minoru as he jumped through the broken window and into the hospital courtyard.

The room is on the fourth floor above the ground.

Although it isn’t impossible to jump down using his own physical strength, it is preferable to not show any exploitable gap immediately after landing in front of Minoru. From the time he was a human, he had extraordinary abilities.

Tatsuya invoked a technique for inertia control from the magic library in his memory.

Activate inertia control magic with "Flash Cast."

Neutralize the inertia applied to himself only at the moment of landing.

In parallel with the use of inertia control with his Artificial Magic Calculation Area, he also invokes the magic "Gram Dispersion," a form of his Decomposition magic from his original magic operation area.

Minoru who had cast the Release-Type system magic "Spark" was invalidated.

"As expected, "Gram Dispersion." When I saw it a while ago, I thought it was just a misunderstanding. But to be able to bring such high difficulty magic that is said to only succeed in the laboratory into an actual battle.. As one would expect from the direct descendant of the Yotsuba, right?"

Minoru speaks in a suppressed tone. It seems like he has calmed down from his earlier exchange.

"You unilaterally use force for the sake of your obsession. Minoru, this is the behavior style of a parasite."

Upon receiving an unexpected remark, the calm expression Minoru had just regained became agitated again.

"The time when you were a human being should not have conducted this self-righteousness."

"This isn't self-righteousness! I am not wrong!"

Minoru strikes Tatsuya using Release-type system magic "Jintai Hakka."

This magic disables the magical defense of a human body and forcibly extracts electrons from molecules, constituting the cell and releases it out of the body. It is named "Jintai Hakka" because the discharge occurring on the skin exhibits an appearance like a spontaneous ignition of human body phenomenon. But in reality, it is a terrible magic that collapses cells at the molecular level by depriving the electrons used for intermolecular bonding.

Tatsuya decomposed the magic formula of "Jintai Hakka" directed at himself on the verge of activation.

Even with Tatsuya's decomposition magic, he was only able to stop it at the last minute.

What dreadful magic activation speed.

Originally Minoru’s speed was already outstanding, but fusing with a parasite improved his magic invocation speed even further.

Tatsuya intended to physiologically shake up Minoru with his words, but it ended up being counterproductive.

Minoru did not compromise the accuracy of his magic because of this emotional disturbance. Rather than being agitated, there are impressions that the magic calculation area is already active.

It is no longer possible to go easy on him.

At least for Tatsuya, he was unwilling to meet with Minoru seriously. Because when Minoru appeared in the hospital room, there was no hostile intent.

Tatsuya was keenly aware that he lacks communication skills.

However, if he can neutralize Minoru, he will not regret this decision.

Tatsuya released "Decomposition" at Minoru.

He doesn’t use a CAD. Using a CAD, he would not be able to keep up with Minoru's speed. If the pledge seal had not been completely lifted, he wouldn’t be able to stand against Minoru's speed.

Minoru's figure who should have received Tatsuya’s Decomposition magic vanished without leaving a trace.

Minoru's real form appeared to the right.

Sensory Systematic-type magic "Parade."

Tatsuya's decomposition was aimed at a phantom created by "Parade."

Tatsuya releases his magic.

The recognition that the phantom appeared to the right of the phantom is rewritten to the recognition of the body that exists to the left of the place where the phantom stood.

Tatsuya disassembled "Ghost Walker", a directional bearing deceiving magic.

(Minoru is not only fused together with a parasite)

The former Ninth Laboratory had the theme of incorporating Ancient magic techniques into contemporary magic.

The possibility that Ancient magic of the continent "Ghost Walker" was studied at the former Ninth Laboratory is not zero.

However, this "Ghost Walker" was not something that he had learned just by seeing the sequence type.

Magic has its own individuality. Even if the same magic is used to produce the same effect, subtle differences will appear in the process and will be unique to the different operator. The more complete the magic is, the more difficult it is to see the difference, depending on the relative power relationship between the viewer and object can be seen.

Tatsuya's "Eyes" clearly saw the individuality of Zhou Gongjin from "Ghost Walker" when used by Minoru.

(When did you capture the ghost of Zhou Gongjin?!)

While Tatsuya was talking to himself in his mind, magical discharge signs occurred in the air.

Release systematic-type magic "Cloudless Thunder".

The air is converted into plasma, and the electronic shower extracted from the plasma explodes towards the target.

The negatively charged attack, is an attack of two stages that exposes the target to a violent stream of positive ions which were left behind.

Minoru's "Cloudless Thunder" was released while Tatsuya disassembled "Parade" and "Ghost Walker". Tatsuya then moved to disassemble “Cloudless Thunder”, but it was much faster than expected.

Tatsuya selected the magic formula for “Douden Himaku” from his library.

Release systematic-type magic "Douden Himaku" is a defensive magic that reduces the electrical resistance to approximately zero on the surface of clothes and shoes. It is a defensive magic that makes an electric current of the lightning strike ground itself on the earth.

Using the magic sequence from his artificial magic calculation area. Tatsuya tried to activate the "Douden Himaku" with Flash Cast.

At the same time, however, Tatsuya is hit by a magic sequence to increase electric conductance. The magic itself has no magical power, but it conflicts with the "Douden Himaku" that "reduces electric resistance to approximately zero."

The electronic shower of "Cloudless Thunder" strikes Tatsuya who failed to invoke magic to defend himself.

Tatsuya deals with the pain as he rolls across the courtyard of the hospital.

This courtyard is made with natural turf. Below is the ground of the earth.

The charge which Tatsuya was hit with grounded into the earth, the charged ions were sucked into the ground.

Tatsuya supports himself with one knee on the ground.

Minoru stood there looking very surprised by this.

Even if one can endure the pain, the muscles struck by the electron shower should not be able to move freely.

That’s what Minoru thought.

This was Minoru's carelessness. However, it cannot be denied that he was bound by common sense.

Using this gap Tatsuya uses "Mist Dispersion" and it finally hits Minoru's body.

Blood spurted from Minoru's right ankle.

The strength of his left foot wasn’t able to support him, Minoru falls on his back.

Tatsuya also aims at the left foot, the right shoulder, and the left shoulder to completely stop Minoru's movement.

However, what fell down over there was a silhouette with no substance.

Sign of magic invocation occur just behind Tatsuya.

Tatsuya did not turn around and due to that spare time he erased "Cloudless Thunder" with "Gram Dispersion". His "eyes" were not focused only on the magic sequence of "Cloudless Thunder".

With a 360 degree view, Tatsuya was looking for the Minoru's entity regardless of the direction.

Tatsuya was able to destroy the "Hot Wind Blade" ──that flew from the right side low to the ground ──a variation of air bullets where blades produced by thin insulation compressing air fly towards the target.

Tatsuya's "Decomposition" rapidly expands the decompressed hot-wind blades. Since it was low to the ground, it caused a cloud of sand and dust, he wasn’t blinded but he had to narrow his eyes considering the wind was very strong.

With his eyelids half close, Tatsuya kicked the ground regardless.

Not to the right, nor to the left.

Slight impatience was shown in front of Tatsuya face when he turned to his left.

Is the impatience caused because he found it?

The sign of disturbance tells Tatsuya the precise position of Minoru.

Lightning magic that was creeping up at his feet, was extinguished just before realization.

Decelerating cage that restrains the body is decomposed immediately after activation.

The bombardment of air bullet and hot air blades by air compression vanishes because it's dispersed.

Minoru’s magic that attacks one after another, now has a lethal power.

All of it was neutralized, and Tatsuya found Minoru at the same time.

Tatsuya sticks out his right hand. His forefinger is extended and the other fingers are folded, it’s a form called “Ichinokande”.

[Illustration]

That finger penetrated the clothes worn by Minoru, penetrated through the skin, and Minoru's left arm, with a deep hole at its joint.

It is not the result of tempering his fingers with Karate or Kenpo. Tatsuya started it out from his fingertip which is where he invoked "Mist Dispersion".

Just by aiming it with the naked eye or magical eyesight, it is focused on Kudou's secret art "Parade".

So approaching him at close range, Tatsuya released "Decomposition" at zero distance.

In this way, even if all five senses are deceived not only to the sense of sight and hearing but also by touch, he can definitely damage his opponent's body if it hits.

Minoru screamed.

Minoru tried to use the parasite's “Spirit absorption ability”, but Tatsuya pulled out his finger before that.

Next, Tatsuya's left index finger aims at Minoru's right arm joint.

Minoru could not react in time and a hole was also thrust into his right shoulder.

Tatsuya pulls out his left hand from Minoru's body.

However, Tatsuya received an unexpected counterattack here.

Minoru’s left hand, which was supposed to not be functional, seized him.

A sudden feeling of exhaustion assaults Tatsuya.

Something was being sucked out of his left wrist.

It is not his Psions. It's something like his life energy.

It is the parasite's ability to absorb life energy.

It was only for an instant that it was absorbed. Tatsuya immediately twisted his arms reflexively to release himself from Minoru's restraint after being caught by his left wrist.

At the same time, Tatsuya swings down his right hand like a sword, cutting off Minoru's left hand from the spot near where he held his wrist.

Minoru catches his left hand using his right hand and jumps backward.

Although Minoru didn’t seem to have put too much effort into it, he jumped back five meters.

Minoru sticks the left hand to the open wound where it was cut.

This time it was Tatsuya's turn to open his eyes in surprise.

Minoru's left hand was connected in the blink of an eye.

Minoru looks at Tatsuya with a smile.

Whether he looked like this or turned himself into a demon, Minoru’s face has no signs of an evil distortion. "Is this the first time you’ve seen the parasite's healing and regeneration ability?"

Tatsuya remembered that there was one previous incident. A parasite infiltrated First High as an employee of Maximilian Device, unaware that she was one of Lina’s companions. Lina called her "Mia", she had her heart pierced by Erika's blade, but this parasite instantly cured her wound.

After looking closely, it wasn’t only the his wrist but also the right foot, left shoulder, the hole in the right shoulder is also healed. It is clear that Minoru has the same ability as that parasite called "Mia".

"... Is that so? There seem to be individual differences in the ability of parasites, too."

Meanwhile, Minoru confirms the fact that not all parasites have a high healing ability, after seeing Tatsuya’s subtle facial expression.

"The ability of parasites, are both different in terms of type and level. Minoru, even if you overcame the vulnerability of your physical body by absorbing a parasite, Minami will not necessarily be cured in the same way."

Minoru gasps.

Tatsuya did not miss that chance, but holds out his right hand that was clenched.

Upon the guidance of Yakumo, the anti-parasite non-systematic magic "Armor Piercing Psion Bullet"(Far Strike).

That magic original function is to dash through the air.

The flight of Psion bullets, originally there is no speed restriction.

Psion bullets that do not have mass and do not have physical conditions and are not bound by the speed of light.

However, "Armor Piercing Psion bullet" is not just a Psion bullet.

It is not just a solid Psion bullet.

"Armor Piercing Psion bullet" is a bullet that flies through the Information Dimension.

Originally, there is no concept of movement in the Information Dimension.

To solve the problem of “movement” in the Information Dimension, the positional change of the information itself is discontinuous and time is not required. It doesn’t even take a moment, because it just rewrites “where the information applies”.

"Armor Piercing Psion Bullet" introduces the concept of movement in the Information Dimension. This solid mass of Psions which is an information element is given the definition to "Continuously and exclusively move in the Information Dimension".

That's "Armor Piercing Psion Bullet".

As a result, its movement speed is determined by the operator, that is, the limit to recognize the movement is restricted by Tatsuya. It is within the limits of the speed you throw yourself. He is releasing the "Armor Piercing Psion bullet" with a sense of shooting it.

Even so, although the speed of the movement is much greater than 100 kilometers per hour, but still far from an equal match to bullets. It is also inferior to the speed of arrows. There will be a difference between individuals, but seeing and searching is not impossible.

Minoru jumped reflexively after seeing "Armor Piercing Psion bullet".

It is not a jump.

He fought "Armor Piercing Psion Bullet" with flying magic.

"Armor Piercing Psion Bullet" disappeared through the illusion of "Parade" left on "ground" in the information dimension.

The flying magic used by Minoru is not a modern magic technique developed by Tatsuya. It is a flying magic sequence from the Taoist Technique-type Ancient Magic system in which he takes a ride on the "cloud".

A magic that creates the chemical body of "clouds", gives it a function as a foothold, a floating function, a horizontal movement function to fly in the sky.

Tatsuya decomposes the clouds that Minoru is riding with his magic.

But Minoru did not come down.

This time he is floating by neutralizing the gravity with modern weight system magic. Flying magic was called one of the "Three Great Puzzles of Weight Systematic Magic" because it was difficult to realize free aerial mobility, but it is not difficult if it is just floating.

Minoru stretched his hands out with his palms facing the ground. Plasma bullets are shot out one after another from his palm.

Compressing air to the size of a golf ball, and ionize it. It is a simple magic to shoot towards the ground.

Tatsuya directs “Mist Dispersion” towards Minoru while preventing this attack by disrupting the generation of the plasma bullets.

However, his magic was stopped halfway through invocation.

Minoru did not maintain his floating state but was moving in the air with continuous jumps.

Instead of flying, he kicks and jumps on the footholds created in the air.

While leaving the illusion of "Parade" he created afterimages.

The problem was not only the difficulty of grasping the location of the main body.

Tatsuya wavered.

Minoru has that ability to heal and regenerate, even if he gets injured by Partial Decomposition.

In order to control Minoru, he will have to take away his consciousness.

However, Minoru did not stop even after his wrist was cut off.

Using "Mist Dispersion", can only neutralize him by killing him...

Tatsuya was hesitant to kill Minoru.

The attack directed by Minoru, even if it is fatal, cannot kill Tatsuya.

Tatsuya cannot even be killed by "Cloudless Thunder" or "Jintai Hakka". Much less, plasma bullets cannot stop his movements.

The magic that can truly be a threat to Tatsuya is the magic that attacks the spirit/mind which is beyond his "Regrowth", but Minoru is not trying to use mental interference magic so. Or perhaps it cannot be used, but anyway, the magic he uses now is not a real threat to Tatsuya.

And above all, Minoru does not direct his attacks towards Miyuki.

Minoru's motive is Minami's treatment.

In other words, it is judged that the hostility is only temporary.

Even if he turns into a parasite, it is highly likely that he will be of use in the future.

Is it okay to lose the precious military power of Kudou Minoru, here and now?

This dilemma made his point dull.

(However, it is not clear in this state)

If all of his body is decomposed, the healing regeneration capacity will not be effective either.

Even if you do not turn the whole body into dust, the parasite will just leave the body after the heart is gone.

Decompose the heart, then if you can blow away the parasite using "Gram Demolition" within the reviving time, he may be able to return Minoru back to normal by using "Regrowth" to restore his heart afterward.

(----------Let's do it)

Minoru's attack stops when Tatsuya strengthen his determination to break from the deadlock situation.

"Tatsuya-san, do you really think we can settle things at this rate?"

Minoru said exactly the same thing that Tatsuya was thinking.

"Apparently to me, it seems that I cannot break through Tatsuya's defense unless I attempt to kill you.”

And it was the same as Tatsuya that he could not make a decision to give a fatal injury. Minoru says so.

"It seems so."

Tatsuya's makes an agreeable response, while Minoru floats in the air and smiles with a nod.

"Tatsuya-san, I think that it is the best way for Minami to regain a "healthy" body is to become a parasite."

"I do not think so."

"Is that so. It seems our opinions will continue to run parallel."

Minoru turned his eyes to the broken glass window. Beyond there is Minami's hospital room.

"But I've conveyed my ideas to Minami."

Minoru returns his eyes to Tatsuya.

“So as far as I am concerned, I am content with that.”

Minoru's body begins to rise.

At his feet, the clouds of chemicals have reformed.

Minoru flew away on the cloud.

"...Did he go?"

When the "Clouds" carrying Minoru disappeared, Tatsuya leaked out a sigh and a small murmur.

This is not the end.

Nothing has been cleared up yet.

Minoru will come again.

But it’s a good thing that it’s over for today.

Tatsuya thought so.

◇ ◇ ◇

Tatsuya returns to the hospital room and says that Minoru has left. Minami didn’t ask for a detailed report on what happened. Tatsuya reported to the hospital about the attack on Minami and requests for tighter security before he makes his way back home with Miyuki.

Back at their apartment Miyuki brings Tatsuya some coffee. Pixie is not there as she is stationed at First High on Tatsuya’s order. Miyuki asks Tatsuya if he is okay after the fight and he says that it was difficult, but he is alright.

Miyuki asks if Minoru has become a really tough opponent after becoming a parasite. Tatsuya confirms this and says that his magic invocation speed has increased, in addition to the fact that he has acquired high level regenerative powers. He continues by explaining that he has the power of the parasite that they encountered with Lina at First High, the one that didn’t die after being stabbed by Erika.

Tatsuya also tells her that this isn’t the part that is worrying him.

“Minoru possesses Elemental Sight. I had suspected it for a long time but after today, I am convinced.”

Minoru invalidated Tatsuya’s magic that he tried to invoke with Flash Cast. Tatsuya recognized that this was the result of someone being able to read his magic formula and that this wasn’t just a coincidence.

Miyuki was shocked by this but picked up on another part of Tatsuya’s statement. Tatsuya had said that Minoru possesses the knowledge and power of another person, and he tells Miyuki that it was Zhou Gongjin. Tatsuya tells her that he has absorbed the “ghost” of Zhou.

Miyuki asks if there was such a magic that the Kuduo family is capable of using. Tatsuya says that there isn’t any magic that is used against “ghosts,” but elaborates that the Kuduo family was able to create parasite dolls. He concludes that Minoru used a similar magic to absorb Zhou and Tatsuya tells her that the “Ghost Walker” spell Minoru used was the same as Zhou’s.

Tatsuya says that he will have to come up with a specific plan to deal with Minoru. He will also inform Kuduo Retsu of the situation and will have to request help from the Kuduo family. Miyuki could tell that Tatsuya was worried about this situation and that this was the reason for his melancholy mood.

◇ ◇ ◇

Maya might seize information related to Minoru, and Tatsuya's concern ended up being unnecessary.

Monday, June 17th.

It is the next day after Tatsuya and Minoru caused an unfortunate clash at Chofu's hospital.

Tatsuya was called to the Kanto Branch of the Magic Association.

Today's agenda, its not about being persuaded to get involved in Project Dione.

He was asked to attend as an observer at the provisional master clans conference. No, as a witness, its a much more realistic way to call it.

Tatsuya and Katsuto were the only people who were in the conference room of the Yokohama Bay Hills Tower where the Magic Association of Kanto Branch was located. Katsuto treated Tatsuya as an official of the Yotsuba family and treated him in a businesslike manner.

Katsuto did not have the attitude of announcing the battle that was held last Sunday last month. However, his behavior was as if nothing had happened, was probably proof that Katsuto had not yet digested it.

However, Tatsuya had a mutual attitude as well.

There are ten people on the screen of the Kanto Branch. There are also ten regular members of the Master Clans Conference.

Katsuto who is in the conference room wasn't included in the video displayed here.

It's the same for Tatsuya.

Nine of people from the Ten Master Clans, together with one more person. The last person was Kudou Retsu.

The conference immediately entered the main subject, with a minimal ceremonial greeting.

"──It's not that I don't trust you, but I want to ask you again."

Ichijou Gouki, who just returned from his sickbed, made remarks with a vigorous voice whom didn't even look like he'd been sick.

The question was given to Tatsuya.

"Is it true that Minoru-dono of the Kudou Family became parasite?"

"He said so in person. When I confronted him, he had become one with a parasite."

The ten people on the screen reacted again in three ways: a person who expresses surprises, a person who doesn't show any emotion, and those show their sadness.

"...Minoru-dono aim is a magician under the Yotsuba family, Sakurai Minami-jou?"

This question belongs to Mitsuya Gen who was surprised.

"I also heard that clearly from his mouth."

"That... is there any special relationship between Minoru-dono and Sakurai Minami-jou?"

Tatsuya answered "I do not know" to Takumi Shippou's question. In fact, he could guess it but he didn't hear it from those two people. Probably Minami would have given the same answer as Tatsuya even if she was asked directly. How she thinks of Minoru, as of now there is no doubt Minami would be in a state of embarrassment.

"Minoru-dono's motive, let's put that aside for a moment."

There, Saegusa Kouichi spoke.

"The problem is that Minoru-dono changed into a parasite and is targeting a magician of the Yotsuba Family. What I'm worried about is where the parasite that Minoru-dono has possessed came from."

"Certainly. Even if parasites invaded Japan again, if there was a source in the country, there is a crisis that the damage could expand if it was left alone."

Itsuwa Isami agreed with Kouichi.

"...That is."

"Last time."

Kudou Retsu tries to answer while having bitterness in his voice. By snatching the answer, Tatsuya covered by talking.

"When the parasites invaded, I sealed two parasites with the help of my friend, because at that point in time, the means to ultimately destroy the parasites was unknown, yet those that were sealed were taken by someone. I'm sorry, but I'm guessing that is probably where the source came from."

"You don't know who took them?"

"Unknown."

Tatsuya isn't frightened by Kouichi's question, for he fought with a single word.

"Did you not investigate?"

"Tokyo is not a territory of the Yotsuba Family"

Kouichi nods to Tatsuya's clear answer.

"At that time, parasites were dealt with in collaboration with Mayumi-jou of the Saegusa Family, the Juumonji Family, and Erika-jou of the Chiba Family. We also shared information on the sealed parasites that were robbed."

"I certainly have heard about it."

As Katsuto testified as a party, Kouichi gave up his pursuit any further. If Mayumi had heard it, it would be the responsibility of the Saegusa Family.

"I have one in hand."

Here, an unexpected line of words jumped out from Maya.

"Because Tatsuya was in a battle with the rest of the parasites, I arranged for the collection, however, I could only secure one."

"...Did you not tell this to Tatsuya?"

Futatsugi Mai asks with a seemingly mocking tone.

"Because I want Tatsuya to concentrate on his studies."

Maya did not seem to have answered, all of them knew it was a lie but only murmured it.

"We received the report from Tatsuya and confirmed it just in case, but there was no abnormality in the parasite that was kept by our family."

Thus insisting on her innocence.

"Then, is there a high possibility that the remaining one is the source of this infection?"

"It is dangerous to hurry to a conclusion. Regarding sources of infection, the information that we have is still too little."

Yatsushiro Raizo put a stop to Mutsuzuka Atsuko's question in advance.

"I think the concerns of Saegusa-dono and Itsuwa-dono are reasonable, but shouldn't we prioritize dealing with the known problems now?"

"I agree. I believe that is the correct way."

Raizo points that out, Atsuko nods.

"I understand the problem, that is, the treatment of Minoru."

"...I'm sorry for the grandson, but if he turns out to be a parasite, I can't leave things be."

"That's right."

Kudou Retsu nodded with an expression that showed he was trying to suppress his emotions. His son Kudou Makoto, doesn't have such a resolute attitude.

Minoru's father, the Head of the Kudou Family is Makoto who is instead of participating in the conference, he is ostensibly saying that the reason is that Makoto is busy dealing with matters within the Kudou Family. However, the truth is probably because Makoto judged it was difficult to talk regarding this matter.

"It is confirmed that the parasite that lost their host will fly away in a search of a new host."

Tatsuya called out their attention.

All of the participants should know this fact, but there were a majority of faces that showed expressions of reminding themselves again.

"Well, is it necessary to mobilize magicians who can attack a mental body?"

Towards Gouki's words,

"Is it not safer to disable Minoru-dono without killing?"

Takumi makes a strong objection.

"I agree with that opinion."

The former supported Takumi's opinion.

"Does Tatsuya know the method for sealing?"

Isami asks him from the screen.

"I will offer the know-how."

Before Tatsuya could answer, Retsu had offerd.

"Sensei will?"

"Excuse me, where did Sensei learn to seal the parasites?"

From the side of Isami's reflexive question, Gouki asks Retsu. Doubt remains in Gouki's eyes. It was understood through the screen.

"From a teacher of course. The procedure that our family uses for sealing parasites, it was originally taught by Sensei."

Maya puts a bit of water in her mouth.

Gouki's eyesight was easy to understand and his sharpness was reduced.

"The countermeasure when capturing Minoru-dono is a measure that will be explained by Sensei, but the measure to bring to that..."

Mai tried to amend this worn out mood.

"Minoru-dono's aim is Sakurai Minami-jou. Is it okay to think like this?"

"I think that the final goal for him is Minami from our family."

Tatsuya returned an affirmative to Mai's question, with a strong implication.

"Well, it's effective to put a net in the vicinity of Minami-jou in Tokyo's hospital."

Kouichi boldly presented a plan to make Minami a decoy.

"Well, that's fine. We will arrange the protection of Minami."

Instead of protesting against it, Maya returned an answer that revealed a clear smile. By listening "There is no need to borrow the power of the Saegusa Family regarding an escort" it was overbearing to hear.

Kouichi frowned to this.

"Yotsuba-dono, I want to give a hand with security, from our family."

Whether Katsuto was reading the atmosphere or not, he gave an incomprehensible offer.

"If you like, it'll be outside of the hospital."

"That's fine."

"By all means."

Leaving Kouichi outside of the matter, the conversation between Maya and Katsuto was coherent.

"What shall the rest of us do?"

"The final aim of Minoru-dono is believed to be Sakurai Minami-jou, but there is also a good chance of him returning back to the Kudou Family."

Takumi responded to the issue raised by Atsuko.

Minoru has concealed his whereabouts since yesterday. He has not returned back to the Kudou Family, but it cannot be said that he will not return. Takumi pointed that out.

"Obviously, I will catch him if he shows up. I will not harbor him."

"I am not really worried about such a thing."

Responding to Retsu's words in a likable tone was Mai.

"Minoru was anxious about the aspects relating to his health, originally he was an extremely excellent magician. I can't predict how much of Minoru's power has transformed after becoming a parasite. If it's okay, I think I will put people out in my place."

Thus Mai offered to dispatch reinforcements to Retsu.

"If its necessary, I will as well."

Thus Gouki takes advantage as well.

"I am grateful. Well then Futatsugi-dono, may I ask for your help? I would also appreciate if Ichijou-dono could lend a helping hand with reinforcements."

"Certainly."

"I understand."

Retsu lowered his head on the screen, followed by Mai and Gouki.

"The Yotsuba Family shall guard Sakurai Minami. The Saegusa Family shall proceed to capture Minoru-dono. The Juumonji Family shall guard outside the hospital of Sakurai Minami-jou. The Futatsugi Family shall send reinforcements as one of the reinforcements, and the Ichijou Family as the second reinforcement to the Kudou Family. Is it okay for each house to remain on alert?"

A voice of approval is given one after another to Katsuto's words.

The Ten Master Clans policy was decided.

◇ ◇ ◇

The cleanup of the conference room was handled by the Magic Association. Tatsuya leaves with Katsuto and they head towards the elevator. The two didn’t walk side by side as Tatsuya walks diagonally behind Katsuto. They don’t speak to each other and just walk in silence.

The fight that they had was over a month ago and both parties don’t show any hostility towards each other. Although soon enough, their silence would be broken by a woman hiding in their blind spot just before the elevator.

“Juumonji-kun, Tatsuya-kun, has the meeting come to an end?”

“Saegusa... Why are you here?”

It was Saegusa Mayumi, it seems that she had come to learn about the conclusion of the meeting. She says that she was anxious to hear the results of the meeting. Katsuto looked annoyed but Tatsuya tells her that the meeting is over. She then asks what conclusion the Ten Master Clans came to. Katsuto was about to tell her to “ask her father” but he knew that this excuse wouldn’t work on her.

Katsuto says they can’t talk about it here and Mayumi says that they can use one of the common rooms. The Kanto Branch of the Magic Association has many private rooms, which Mayumi uses quite often. Mayumi tells Tatsuya to join them as well and surely enough, Tatsuya comes to the same conclusion as Katsuto. They both know Mayumi’s personality and that she will not take no for an answer.

Tatsuya still has plenty of time before he needs to go pick up Miyuki from school, so he agrees to Mayumi’s proposal.

After entering the room, Mayumi makes tea for all three of them. She asks Tatsuya if tea is okay but doesn’t ask Katsuto. Tatsuya assumes that Katsuto has been through this kind of situation a few times before. Tatsuya tries the tea and was surprised at how good it is, Mayumi seemed to be able to tell by looking at his face and sat down with a satisfied expression. After everyone sits down and relaxes, Katsuto asks Mayumi what she would like to know.

“Everything.”

Katsuto asks if she knows what the theme of the meeting was, and she says that it was about Minoru becoming a parasite. Tatsuya asks her if she knows the true meaning behind their plan, especially since she knows Minoru pretty well. Mayumi says that she understands as she was also a part of the Parasite Task Force during her final year at First High.

Tatsuya says that with the knowledge she has now, she must understand what they plan to do. Mayumi says that they must be planning to capture Minoru and to seal the parasite. She then asks how they plan to capture him.

Katsuto says that they will be lying in wait to ambush Minoru when he comes back for Minami. Mayumi asks if Katsuto came up with this plan, but he says that it was her father that presented the idea. Mayumi then asks if Minami is the one that Kasumi is classmates with and Tatsuya confirms it. Mayumi asks Tatsuya if he is okay with using Minami as bait and he says that despite their intentions, Minoru will without a doubt be coming back for Minami.

Katsuto says that the Yotsuba family is in charge of security inside the hospital and that the Juumonji family is in charge of security outside of the hospital. In addition, he also says that he would never make light of Sakurai’s security.

Mayumi sums up the situation by saying that the two will shake hands and that they will work together to settle this matter. After hearing this from Mayumi, Katsuto frowns while Tatsuya just thinks to himself that Mayumi is a good-natured person after all.

“Not only in this case, but the Juumonji family and the Yotsuba family are in a cooperative relationship as members of the Ten Master Clans. You shouldn’t drag out this temporary antagonism.”

“”Yes……””

They both reply but unlike before, Mayumi is genuinely smiling.

Chapter 7

Spoiler
Outskirts of United States of North American Continent, Roswell, New Mexico.


The base headquarters of STARS is located here.

STARS is divided into twelve units, and each unit often receives instructions and acts independently. Originally, Lina, who is the Head-Captain, needs to be aware of all the duties each unit is engaged in. But in reality, it's a fact that there are many duties of which the content is not reported to Lina. The previous Sirius had complete control of STARS, but Lina has not reached that level. Or rather, far from it. She feels like an ornament as the Head-Captain when gone after by malicious gossip, but its not said without grounds.

After Lina took a shower in her room and changed into her pajamas, she was talking to herself while in bed; saying that all of the units are present today, but last weekend Units 3 and 6 had gone somewhere and she didn't know since she wasn't informed. That Saturday morning, Arcturus and Regulus of Unit 3 and Unit 6 were missing and in a panic, Lina asked Canopus where they went. He has a better grasp of the actions of each unit and at times he seems like the Head-Captain, but he too doesn't know where they had gone. Though this brought comfort to Lina that she isn't the only one being kept out of the loop, even while holding the position of Head-Captain, her not being informed hasn't changed. Though this kind of source of stress is pushed to a corner of her heart, this night it sticks to her and doesn't leave. All to the extent that even when she doesn't think about it, it doesn't stop playing in her head.

Lina: ──Where did Unit 3 and 6 go, what are they doing?

Lina: ──Why wasn't she been told about the reason for the dispatch?

Lina: ──After all, is the Head-Captain just an ornament that can use Strategic-Class Magic?

Lina: "...That's why, i'm just a 17-year-old girl. There's no jumping head in. I wasn't that good in the first place. I haven't received an education on commanding troops. I'm not tall. I have a baby face."

She warns herself that self-pity is unhealthy, but she can't stop herself.

My solitary life, it won't end.

Lina rolled around, then got inside the blanket, and turned off the lights in the room with a voice command. Even though there wasn't anyone to listen to her, she complained for the sake of it. In addition, she got tired of wallowing in self-pity.

[Illustration]

That night, Lina had a nostalgic dream.

The fact is, if you only look on the surface, it isn't a very good memory. A memory of the infiltration of First High, a memory where Parasites were killed one after another, in the mountains.

Finding a parasite, killing one by piercing it through the back of the neck with Movement-Type Magic, another attacking her and shooting it with a plasma bullet. Finding a parasite, shooting it with magic, and killing it with the magic.

The dream continues to loop.

Defeating the attacking parasites was like a zombie shooting game. While slaughtering a parasite, Lina turns her neck.

──When will Tatsuya and Miyuki appear?

The time when Lina fought against the Parasites alongside Tatsuya. Lina didn't forget. It was unforgettable. Though she was unwilling to accept the help, she had the feeling that they are friends who fought together on equal standing. He should have been an "enemy," but in fact, he was a "companion". She felt that she looked down on Tatsuya instead of viewing him as an equal. Though, Tatsuya and Miyuki never thought of her as a "little girl" nor did they treat her as someone special because of her being a "Thirteen Apostle". It was natural that she was treated as a "girl" since they are of the same age. Since Tatsuya's Strategic-Class Magic is more powerful than Heavy Metal Burst, she felt that there's no reason for there to be a reason to be treated specially. The feeling that she is treated fairly makes her happy since the sentiment hasn't faded. While in Japan, she wasn't able to admit such feelings.

However, back in the environment where she's only surrounded by "older subordinates", she comes to obediently accept the reality as time passes. ──Actually if Tatsuya were in front of her, she would feel that way again.

Miyuki isn't nearby.

Tatsuya isn't nearby.

In an attempt to distract herself, Lina kept repelling the Parasites while remembering her feelings of loneliness.

◇ ◇ ◇

The Parasites can't invade Lina's mind. They contemplate if Lina has an aptitude for magic for the Mind System (Lunar Magic), but then say that she shouldn't. The Parasites wonder why they can't invade her. When they try, they are pushed back, rejected and repelled.

In the darkness of the night, there is a rumbling of sound like that of bees heard from a beehive, though it's not a sound that can be heard by one's ear. It's the exchanging and sharing of mind bodies ── a conversation of the voices of Parasites.

The Parasites talk, saying that assimilating with Lina (the Head-Captain) is difficult, that its impossible, that she's dangerous and thus that she'll be their enemy and should be eliminated. Thus, the buzz of the voices became one voice.

◇ ◇ ◇

Tuesday, June 18th. The time, it wasn't even 5 in the morning yet.

No matter how much one is a soldiers, it was the time for sleeping unless one were on a mission. Lina awakes at dawn unintentionally asking herself if her dream is the cause for getting up so early. She remembers her dream, and though she couldn't say that it was a good dream, it relieved her of any stress and she felt better than she was before she slept.

Lina originally doesn't get up out of bed. Her recent habits are for her to forcibly push a button to have bitter tasting coffee made from home automation to forcibly wake her up. Though there wasn't a need for her to do so today.

Since its June, the average temperature during the day in this season is more than 80 °F (27 °C), but during dawn its almost 60 °F (16 °C). She felt that things were good enough to go on a walk. Thus Lina moved about to do so.


Nonetheless, Lina being the young girl she is. There are plenty of things for her to do before leaving her room. Since she wasn't on a mission, she had no excuse to ease up. The sky started to whiten around the time she got dressed and went outside.

Still, there were only a few people moving about the base. It's not like there were "none at all" since there are still soldiers that are needed and maintenance personnel to be awake, to perform their duties. Sometimes when others would see them, they would be told "thank you for your hard work" from time to time. Lina had gone around the base to the training grounds where she turned around to the inside and outside of the base walking forward to the fence that separates the two.

This was her former home country. The hands of armed insurgents claiming separation and independence, they hadn't reached this far. Disparate from a conflict zone, there was no need to worry about a sniper while standing near the fence ── at least that's how it was supposed to be. Murderous intent came without a sound. By sheer coincidence, Lina had unintentionally avoided an invisible sniper. A high-energy laser burned the fence from the inside and through an illusion of Lina. When Lina independently trains, she uses "Parade." If not for the fact she had used one yard away from herself, the sniper would have successfully hit their mark, killing Lina instantly.

While exclaiming if a rebellion were occurring, she had moved away by using Movement Magic as interpersonal missiles were approaching. Simultaneously, Lina was also using a barrier magic to prevent feeling any heat and keeping debris from hitting her. While following the snipers ray, she turned her eyes to the roof of a warehouse.

From a distance of over 100 meters away, a figure of a man holding a rifle in prone position on top of the warehouse can be seen. Even with some dim light, one wouldn't be able to tell with the naked eye. However, Lina knows that the man in question is a member of STARS. Despite confirming her initial expectations, Lina was still surprised as she finds Regulus as the source of the attack.

STARS Unit 3, First-Class Star, First-Lieutenant Jacob Regulus. Nickname Jack.

The specialty magic Regulus was proficient in, a high-energy infrared laser bullet "Laser Sniping," was released by an armed device resembling a rifle. Right now, the attack directed at Lina was exactly "Laser Sniping." Lina exclaims, calling out Regulus' name. She asks why he is attacking her and is left without a response.

("Laser Sniping" has no sound, although it is a suitable magic for a sniper that doesn't leave behind a bullet when used, there is a disadvantage. It requires a second of time before firing. Rather that there's time needed for magic activation, the time needed is amplified by light.)

"Mirror Shield" reflects the light bullets from the "Laser Sniping." Due to its nature, Lina was able to repel the attack with her shield after sensing the activation of a magic.

("Mirror Shield" reflects all the electromagnetic waves coming from the other side of the shield.)

When "Mirror Shield" was released, Regulus could no longer be seen on the roof of the warehouse. Lina raised her magic detection to the highest level and ran towards the warehouse. Flying objects with magic were caught by her detection. She noticed that it's "Dancing Blades," a magic shared among the combat magicians of STARS, and took shelter from the attack at the warehouse. The magician responsible for using Dancing Blades was Alec ── Captain Alexander Arcturus. Lina's magical senses told her such.

Lina released her "Territory Interference." Rather than having it expand around herself, the four flying knives hit her event interference that overlapped with it.

The knives that approached her went around in a circular swirl, dropping to the ground and losing control. Lina yells at him, asking if he's joining the rebellion or... (If he's doing this because of a grudge against her). She couldn't utter those last words. Despite being alone, clearly speaking about any allegations is hard, especially for her who is only seventeen years of age. She understands that because of the position she's in, there is bound to be jealousy. However, she always meant to be friends with others in STARS. Vega and Deneb of Unit 4 are constantly disgusted, as Lina is convinced that the two seriously dislike her. Though at the moment, she didn't have the time to worry. "Dancing Blades" was approaching her. This time it wasn't just four or even one. It was a much larger amount. This attack, the "Tomahawk," couldn't disable her territory interference.

(Arcturus is a hybrid of Caucasian, African American, and Native American, where he is a quarter Native American, but in terms of magic he inherited it in his blood.)

In Ancient Magic, it is possible to magically strengthen a weapon by focusing one's "senses" into it. Although such a technique isn't accepted as magic by others, it's widely seen worldwide. It's a technique that uses the magic of the Native Americans. Arcturus uses a one-handed axe that's strengthened by this technique, making it a trump card against combat magicians. It's also used as a weapon in melee combat, where fighting with it is exclusively done with Movement-Type Magic, with Arcturus wielding eighteen of them. His Tomahawk attack wouldn't be able to destroy Lina's territory interference. Lina knew this and dodged by moving horizontally. She moved nearly 22-meters, as if she slid from the air to the ground. Upon landing, she simultaneously redeployed "Mirror Shield" and started running.

She ran into a warehouse that contained a special vehicle. Even if she entered the special vehicle, it didn't have heavy armor and it wasn't a tank. By the use of magic, there was a self-propelled vehicle that can float in the sky, or a wagon car that can transform into a riding suit with a reinforced exoskeleton. The warehouse stores experimental weapons that have been neglected due to them being impractical. Today, Lina would be testing the long-distance self-propelled vehicles flight functions. The door was opened by a maintenance worker who then tells Lina (Major Sirius) to get away from the warehouse. When she ran into the warehouse, Lina was wearing the illusion of "Angie Sirius." She muttered to herself that she was glad to be wearing field-wear clothing for training that she bought following Sylvia's advice. Lina had no time to check whether or not the maintenance worker had run away or if there was anyone else in the warehouse in the first place. She poked her head outside of the warehouse and sharpened her senses whereas to not overlook anything while carefully searching for the possibility of a sniper being outside.

On the surface, Lina seemed calm when responding to the incident. In reality, her mind was far from it. When she left her room, she accidentally brought along her information terminal that's for private use. It is also used by non-commissioned officers but having done so was inevitable. Due to the time being outside of normal operations and with the current situation, she couldn't possibly make contact with base headquarters. There was a phone on the wall, but she couldn't afford to use it to contact base headquarters for help in case there was a future development. Lina focused her attention outside of the warehouse, despite having no clue on Arcturus's whereabouts. Besides, the enemy may not be just Regulus and Arcturus. A wall of the warehouse endured an explosion, though carious fragments came down upon Lina. Lina moved passed where the explosion was and its aftermath while using "Mirror Shield" to see the appearance of the person in question.

(The person in question is a women named Leila. She is from Unit 4, a First-Class Star. Second-Lieutenant Leila Deneb. A tall, glamorous women of Northern European decent. She glared at Lina with hatred.)

Deneb calls Lina a traitor, brandishing a knife in one hand and a pistol with a suppressor in the other hand. This is her favored fighting style. Deneb immediately appears in front of Lina using Movement-type magic and Lina is able defend herself with a magic shield.

“I’m not playing dumb! When did I betray anyone?!”

Deneb says that even though she is the commander of STARS, she was the one who sold out the Sixth Unit to Japan. In confusion, Lina asks what has happened with the Sixth Unit but at the moment, Deneb was suddenly behind her and fired her pistol again. Lina was able to block the attack with her shields due to the power of her magic event interference. However, Lina was hit with another follow up attack that launched her, along with her shield, up into the air.

Lina was hit with a gravity inversion spell and was sent up towards the ceiling. She was sent flying upwards, with a speed that is 10 times to that of free fall acceleration. Lina immediately neutralized the inertia and began to fall back down to the ground. This time, she was hit with the same spell but was forced towards the ground. Lina uses a deceleration spell to allow herself to return to the ground without further damage while enduring all the pain.

While she was falling, a number of air bullets were sent her way. They weren’t strong enough to cause any life threatening injuries, so she was able to withstand it. The newest attacker was Fourth Unit Captain Charlotte Vega. During this last attack, Lina’s “Parade” was dispelled and she returns to her blonde haired, blue eyed self. Vega was proud of herself when she saw that Lina had changed back.

Vega also tells Lina that she is a traitor, and Lina is still demanding an explanation. Deneb was about to attack again but Vega stopped her. She then tells Lina that she is accused of helping a Japanese operative carry out the Micro-Black Hole Experiment, with the purpose of turning her fellow STARS members into parasites. In addition, Vega says that she betrayed the Sixth Unit by using them as experiments and is colluding with the Japanese Strategic Class Magician, Shiba Tatsuya.

Lina has a strong reaction when they mention Tatsuya’s name, and she couldn’t help but feel disappointed that she let her emotions show. To Vega and Deneb, it's a classical case of a honey trap. Vega goes on to mention that Orlando Rigel, Ian Bellatrix and Samuel Alnilam were all possessed by parasites thanks to her (these are some of the members of the Sixth Unit).

[Illustration]

The two say that they will kill the traitor and just as Lina was recovering from the shock after learning about the Sixth Unit becoming parasites, she is attacked from behind. From outside the hangar, a Tomahawk missile coming towards her but is cut down by Molecular Divide which stretches over 50 meters.

“Captain! Are you alright?!”

Upon his arrival, Benjamin Canopus strikes down the missile. Vega asks if he is joining sides with the traitor as well, to which he tells Vega that they have been deceived by the parasites and that Lina isn’t a traitor. During his attempt to calm the situation down, another long ranged high-energy laser attack is en-route and is once again cut down by Molecular Divider.

An experimental military vehicle comes rushing through the hangar and heads towards Lina and Vega. They both jump out of the way and Lina is told to get in the vehicle. As soon as Lina gets in, Lieutenant Ralph Hardy Mirfak tells her that they’re leaving. Lina is surprised that she is the only one escaping with Hardy but is quickly informed that it’s on Canopus’s order.

This vehicle is shaped like a pickup truck that can shift its driving mechanism from right to left and that it also doesn’t require any foot petals so that it can be driven in any seat position.

A heavy crash is heard, which is caused by Deneb who used Movement-magic to get aboard the vehicle. However, a man that had been hiding in the luggage rack jumps out and tackles her to the ground. It was Lieutenant Ralph Algol who forced Deneb off the vehicle. Hardy says they need to leave this to Canopus and Algol and he drives her across the base, heading towards Albuquerque.

As they drive, Lina asks Hardy exactly what is going on. He explains that there is a mutiny being led by Arcturus, Regulus and other third parties. He also mentions that Vega, Spica, Deneb, Rigel, Bellatrix, and Alnilam are part of this insurrection.

Some of those members were part of the Sixth Unit, so Lina asks about whether or not they’re actually parasites. Hardy says that it is presumed to be true and continues on to say that two members of the Third Unit and two members of the Eleventh Unit have also been possessed. Lina couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

Hardy also mentions that Lieutenant Shaula in the Eleventh Unit was the one to bring them the information. She was able to notice the irregularities in their mental states and reported to Canopus.

The Eleventh Unit squad members are all good at Mental Interference Magic, but Second-Lieutenant Shaula is the best in the unit. She was able to detect the parasites and avoided being possessed. While she was reporting this information to Canopus, Hardy and Algol, Major Antares (the captain of the Eleventh Unit who is possessed as well) used his “Hypnos Garden.” But they were saved by Shaula’s “Lunar Eclipse” and didn’t fall to the effects of the magic.

Major Antares used “Hypnos Garden,” which is an extraneous magic that makes people within a certain area fall asleep. The efficiency of the magic depends on a few factors, the number of people targeted and the mental activity of the target(s). The more people that are targeted, the weaker the magic becomes, in addition to their mental activity. If someone is in the middle of a battle, they wouldn’t fall asleep. But for someone that is resting or already sleeping, it is a very effective way to put them to sleep and/or keep them from waking up.

On the other hand, Shaula’s “Lunar Eclipse” is a kind of shield magic that disables what is called “Lunar Magic” in the USNA, by hiding targets from mental attacks. She escaped the assimilation of the parasites due to the reflective properties of “Lunar Eclipse.”

Lina asks what they are going to do now as Hardy gets an email notification. After decrypting the message, he hands it over to Lina to read. It is from Colonel Balance. She informs Lina that she is to go to Japan where she will be protected by the Yotsuba family. Lina questions why Balance would do such a thing, and Hardy says that the safest thing to do is to get Lina out of the States since she is a Strategic Class Magician. If she were to be possessed or brainwashed, she could be used to bolster their own military capabilities, greatly affecting the USNA.

This reminds Lina of the military aircraft carrier the “Enterprise,” where magicians were being used as a power source for the ship.

Indeed, losing “Heavy Metal Burst” in the current situation would spell disaster. She also recognizes that she could be used or brainwashed for her military might.

Another notification comes through from Balance, which says that she is sending Lina to Japan for the purpose of a “secret inspection.” This is within Balance’s power to issue this kind of order as it is part of Balance’s job to inspect certain departments to crack down on illegal military personnel.

Lina is told to go to Albuquerque Airport. As they drive there, Hardy is casting a counter-detecting shield magic to keep the Sixth Unit (Orion Team), which is known for their superb tracking, off of them. This way, they shouldn’t be able to follow them.

◇ ◇ ◇

Lina arrives safely in Japan in the afternoon on June 19th local Japan time. She immediately calls the number that Colonel Balance provided and was protected by the Kuroba Family at the behest of Maya.

At the same time, at the STARS Headquarters base, it was decided that Canopus, Algol, and Shaula would be sent to a military prison for magicians on Midway Island as the result of a summary trial. In addition, Mirfak didn't return to the base. Instead, he fled in the direction of the west coast.

Chapter 8

Spoiler
While the disturbance of the STARS rebellion was going on in the USNA, in the New Soviet Union, repairs to the large-type CAD "Argan" dedicated to the use of Bezobrazzoff was progressing at a fast pace.

Igor asks the work manager how progress with the repairs is proceeding, surprising him because he had thought of Igor as an aristocratic scholar who rarely gets involved owing to the smell of oil. He tells Igor that the repair should be completed within the day and that a test can be conducted the next day. The work manager is more nervous than necessary because of Igor's position as a high-leveled government official and someone of great importance, such as a military general. Igor has never hidden his power from the general public and from engineers who don't even have a position. He's never shown an arrogant attitude. Though its not because of his personality, he just isn't interested in others in general. Igor is told that the soonest time possible should be by early morning, and so not only the work manager, but all of the engineers leave the maintenance factory, including Igor.

It's unusual for Igor to go to the maintenance factory but because the strategy that involved the use of Argan was rushed in the first place, he remembers strong humiliation against Tatsuya. He had absolute confidence in the surprise attack against him, using Tuman Bomba and being successful.

Though even with "Igrok" (the use of the biological amplifiers; Andreevna sisters) who are exclusive for the use of Tuman Bomba, the assassination failed. Thus resulting in the loss of Igrok and Argan being disabled. Without the use of Igrok, Igor would have been caught.

Until that point, Igor had never failed a mission as a Strategic-Class Magician. Even during the small-scale fierce battle with the USNA conducted over the Bering Straight, he was able to kill the former STARS Head-Captain William Sirius with Tuman Bomba. To be frank, he failed this mission and was defeated. Igor is hoping to resume his strategy as soon as possible to remove the humiliation that he is feeling.

◇ ◇ ◇

Thursday, June 20th.

It has been raining in Tokyo since morning. The area around Hachioji where First High is, the streets are wet with the rain still gradually continuing on. It couldn't be avoided that its the rainy season, but compared to other students, Tatsuya has been on alert since morning.

Although its the rainy season, this year there wouldn't be a lot of rain in Tokyo compared to other years. During the first half of the month it had been raining a lot, but during the second half it had been raining pretty much since the morning; though not as much as it does when it rains intermittently during the dry season. Tatsuya doesn't like it. Rather, he welcomes it when it doesn't rain. Originally, he doesn't like the rain, but it couldn't be helped during this time of the year. Though because of his mood, he felt like returning to Tokyo from Izu.

It was raining the day Tatsuya was targeted at Izu. The ideal weather conditions for Tuman Bomba is weather without any wind and little rain.

Today there is almost no rain and Tatsuya had been guessing that Igor would try again today because he's sure he hasn't given up. Tatsuya is convinced of this and that 11 days ago, those that he killed weren't related to Igor. The user of Tuman Bomba isn't necessarily Igor and The New Soviet Union could be creating spares of him (basically, Tatsuya thinks the New Soviet Union is cloning him).

When one thinks about the nationally recognized Strategic-Class Magicians, the "Thirteen Apostles", the users of Leviathan are two people from the USNA, the users of Ozone Circle have a person each from the United Kingdom and Germany, and the users of Agni-Downburst are from the Indo-Persian Federation and Thailand. It isn't uncommon for Strategic-Class Magic's to be shared. Rather than having magic of great and destructive power, if you are a magician within the same country, there are those with the aptitude who try to acquire it.

However, Tatsuya is getting closer to the fact that Igor was involved in the activation of Tuman Bomba. His basis for this is off the physical information he obtained when he decomposed the two magicians from Izu. The make-up of their bodies was the same, including the genes. There is a possibility of them being identical twins, although Tatsuya presumes that they're clones. The Information Bodies, when defined, are unnatural and that there was more than just a natural distortion than those who have adjusted bodies. Tatsuya hypothesizes that Igor himself is the one who controls Tuman Bomba and the two female magicians were only the tools. Raymond Clark also knows that Tatsuya is the user of Material Burst and that the information saying so would have surely been communicated to the New Soviet Union.

The New Soviet Union has decided to eliminate Tatsuya, the user of the Strategic-Class Magic Material Burst, and to completely remove the existence of his Strategic-Class Magic. Tatsuya concludes that the attack on the villa was the result of this. This was also communicated to Miyuki.

Tatsuya ordered Pixie to connect to a system so that she could maintain maximum vigilance in order to warn him as soon as an attack is detected. Tatsuya, who lay wait with anticipation, sensed an attack three minutes before the end of his last class while those in Class 3-E were in the middle of a lecture using their terminals.

◇ ◇ ◇

Igor sat down in the operators seat of the large-type CAD "Argan," which had undergone a small-scale renovation earlier that afternoon. Before noon local Japan time, and in Primorsky Krai, New Soviet Union the standard time was one hour ahead. During lunch time Igor wasn't focused on eating, instead, he was thinking solely on implementing his strategy. Reflecting off of his previous failures, "Argan" was improved in order to prevent "Igrok" from being damaged or decomposed, all by the use of the Inter-molecular Bonding Force Neutralization Magic. Igor believes it will work because he thinks he understands Tatsuya's Decomposition Magic.

The train on the New Siberian Railroad that's connected to the Argan isn't in the suburbs of Vladivostok, but is out in the northern outskirts of Ussuriysk. He made sure to be careful as to not be attacked based off previous geographical data.

Igor brought twice as many of the Igrok as last time (the clones), thus having five bodies available for use this time around. He took the initiative to introduce all of the remaining Igrok into this strategy. Two were connected externally as computing units, one as a "firewall" which acts as a decoy and in case of an emergency, he has two as spares.

Even when Igor went up against the USNA's STARS, he didn't have to go about things like this. What happened before, the evidence of his last disgrace is something he needs to rid himself of by accomplishing this mission. He was scared of Tatsuya's attack and ran away after rolling off of the train car equipped with the large-type CAD "Argan".

He was so scared of Tatsuya's attack that he ran away from the train car equipped with the large-type CAD "Argan". The memory of it makes Igor's pride suffer. He must try to wash away his humiliation without fail or else he would gradually go insane if left neglected. These are his true feelings. Thus the only way for him to forget this shame was to take out Tatsuya. He has a firm conviction of this in his mind.

Igor opens up the data that arrived to him via the Intelligence Department on his console and it informed him that Tatsuya is currently at First High. Frankly, he couldn't understand how Tatsuya, someone who is planning on building a nuclear fusion reactor plant, would learn anything from High School and that its nothing but a waste of his time. Moving on from his education, the interior of First High is a nuisance to him because its a reinforced building with solid concrete, which makes it hard to destroy with shock-waves. The concrete is of high strength because it was developed during World War III to be stronger than those from the previous era. However, the current building in which Tatsuya lives was photographed by a satellite and its appearance was even stronger than First High. So, Igor decided to attack the school building, even if Igor were to just have the glass break, those within would suffer fatal wounds when he uses Tuman Bomba. Igor recalled this plan among his previously thought up strategies.

He operated the Igrok (player) and played the song of destruction and massacre as the Dirizhor (conductor), but instead of swinging the conductor's baton, he operated a console's switch.

◇ ◇ ◇

(Master, I detected signs of magic invocation. Invocation point is 200 meters above First High.)

A warning was sent by Pixie through active telepathy.

At that time, Tatsuya had already clearly perceived the invocation of "Chain Cast" that invokes duplicate magic sequences with time difference.

He stood up and pulled out a CAD in the shape of a large handgun from his bosom.

Right now, he was still in the middle of class.

Surprised at what's happening, his classmates were astir. Without looking at them, Tatsuya looked up to the ceiling, pointing the CAD Silver Horn Custom "Trident" directly above.

There was no delay in his movement.

The moment the aim was fixed, he pulled the trigger of "Trident".

◇ ◇ ◇

A grating alarm sounded from the interior of the large-type CAD "Argan."

A warning message was being displayed on the console, stating that the Igrok for invocation was erased in the middle of building the magic sequence in a fraction of a second (0.X seconds).

Magicians build magic sequences. Even if the construction of the magic operation area is completed, the magic will not be activated unless it is fixed to the target coordinates. If the magician itself is killed during that moment of projecting or fixing a magic sequence, the magic will scatter before it takes place.

"Replace with the spare 'Igrok'. Hurry."

Bezobrazzoff ordered the workers outside from inside "Argan."

This time, he couldn't afford to escape.

As he waited for the replacement work to complete, the eerie shadow of death by vanishing flesh frightened him.

◇ ◇ ◇

It was difficult to obstruct the invocation of "Tuman Bomba."

To be more precise, it was difficult to invalidate "Tuman Bomba" with "Gram Dispersion" due to "Chain Cast."

This was what Tatsuya concluded after confronting it twice.

The magic sequences built by "Chain Cast" differ a little from each other. The difference increases the further the coordinates are separated. Even if he tried to dismantle them by grouping, he couldn't erase everything at once.

Even if he tried to respond with "Gram Dispersion" on rapid fire, in the middle of it "Tuman Bomba" would activate and expose him to a powerful explosion.

Then, the only way was to shut down the source of the magic invocation.

That was Tatsuya's strategy.

In the last battle, he had acquired the know-how to trace the origin of the invocation of "Tuman Bomba." The moment "Chain Cast" starts, tracing the path of the magic, decomposing the caster with triple decomposition magic "Trident".

"Chain Cast" was a technique where it extensively copies and fixes magic sequences and then simultaneously activates them. Decomposing an individual with "Trident" was faster than the required steps to construct a magic sequence over a wide area. When the target is two individuals, the added time is within the margin of error.

It wasn't a gamble. Based on a clear chance for victory, it was a counterattack by means of defense.

◇ ◇ ◇

"Igrok, replacement complete."

Without responding to the worker's report, Bezobrazzoff stared at satellite image on the console. Since the previous "Tuman Bomba" ended in failure before activation, the target atmospheric conditions remain unchanged. There was rainfall under the heavy clouds and barely any wind. Attacking again immediately was possible.

In the previous battle, after erasing two "Igrok," the second wave of the magic that neutralizes inter-molecular bonding power did not come.

The result of simulating that phenomenon was that it took more than five minutes to activate, even with the computing power of the "Argan". It was presumed to be that complex of a magic.

With nothing but a portable CAD in hand, there was no way to cast it in rapid-fire. Even if that was possible, it would take more than 10 minutes. Bezobrazzoff was calculating this way.

In that case, the second shot of "Tuman Bomba" would be activated first. Just in case, he modified the settings of one "Igrok" at a time so that a third shot would be possible. In order for Bezobrazzoff to take Shiba Tatsuya out, he made "Argan" insert a put together activation sequence into his own magic calculation area.

◇ ◇ ◇

(Verify the firing point of "Tuman Bomba.")

Tatsuya consciously reproduced the projection path of "Tuman Bomba" above First High using the "memory" of "Trident" that he used to counterattack with as the origin.

(Change the target to the CAD the operator is connected to.)

During magic invocation, there is a close relationship between the magician and CAD. In terms of information, when the CAD and magician becomes one together, the magician becomes a part of the system called "magic." It's the same even in the case of a large-type CAD that imposes magic on the magician.

Tatsuya puts "Argan," in his sight.

(Tactical target, complete destruction of cargo vehicle type CAD.)

Inside of the CAD where Tatsuya was "seeing," the construction process of magic sequences was starting.

However, the activation sequence was only in the reading stage. It seemed to be a considerably complex activation sequence, where even if a second passed the reading stage would not be completed.

By nature, Tatsuya's Decomposition magic would need the same or possibly more preparation. However, Tatsuya's magic calculation area specializes in "Decomposition" and "Regrowth." Decomposition and Regrowth's subsystems are prepared in advance, so it was possible to activate extremely complicated magic by inputting additional data there.

Therefore, the complex processing of "decomposition of substances into the elemental level" and "decomposition of information bodies into the Psion level" were able to be performed in a very short time.

("Gram Dispersion" "Mist Dispersion", Activate.)

Disassemble the event interference force covering the surroundings of the large-type CAD and break down "Argan" to the elemental level.

Being able to invoke two kinds of magic across a distance of over 1,000 kilometers in the blink of an eye consecutively was possible because the system used for his "Decomposition" Magic was provided for in his mind, but at the expense of other magic ability.

Decomposition of information bodies magic and decomposition of substances magic were consecutively activated.

◇ ◇ ◇

Bezobrazzoff initially thought an earthquake occurred.

The scene in front of his eyes was like seeing doubles.

However, his body was not feeling any shaking.

He could not withstand any more hallucination.

The feeling of falling. It was not a hallucination.

Suddenly the chair he was sitting on, it lost its ability to support his weight.

It was not just the chair. The console, the floor and the walls all became vague.

The floor gave way.

The ceiling fell.

The walls crumbled.

Everything turned into sand. Into dust.

Hitting hard against the ground, Bezobrazzoff groaned.

A pain that made him unable to get up immediately.

Damage was not just limited to the body. It was not just external pain.

His head hurt badly.

He couldn't think about anything.

He didn't notice that the headache was due to the shock of forcibly severing the connection with the CAD.

Even so, the sand that covered his head made him irritated.

He struggled to raise his upper body and brushed off the sand on his face. The current Bezobrazzoff did not have the strength to realize that the sand was remnants of "Argan."

Before his eyes, the landscape of Ussuriisk stretched out. Once thrown outside, he finally understood after looking at the scenery.

In the middle of a violent headache, Bezobrazzoff sat down.

The hearts of the three "Igrok" stopped due to the shock of forcibly severing the connection to the CAD.

Bezobrazzoff could not hear that turmoil.

Chapter 9

Spoiler
The attempted magic attack on First High is reliably observed. Among the High Schools affiliated with the National Magic University, First High is the best equipped. As far as things are when magic is concerned, it meets the need for equipment used to observe the schools surroundings, which is comparable to that of the National Defense Forces main bases. Analysis of the observation machine at First High shows that a magic was used to generate oxygen and hydrogen gas that would have exploded when activated, originating from the Primorsky Krai region of the New Soviet Union based off the objective data. The data was passed on to the government via the National Magic University.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted the New Soviet Union, where they strongly condemn the attempted act of aggression, that they are urging the international community to put sanctions on the New Soviet Union.

Toudou Aoba had the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry speak out. After basing the truth off the data, it is announced that the unexpected attack was caused by the New Soviet Union's "Apostle" Bezobrazzoff. Afterwards, serious doubts were raised about the peaceful nature of Project Dione that is co-sponsored by Bezobrazzoff.

◇ ◇ ◇

Saturday, June 22nd.

Tatsuya and Miyuki are having breakfast while watching the news regarding a press conference made by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry the day before.

Miyuki asks Tatsuya if he had calculated things to this extent. Tatsuya shakes his head and smiles as he tells her that it was a coincidence that he was able to intercept Tuman Bomba at school and that the chances of such an occurrence were slim. As Tatsuya continues on to say that Minami's hospitalization was also not included in his initial calculation, he pushes this regret into his consciousness in an attempt to hide it from Miyuki. He finishes by telling her that not even he can exactly calculate something such as what happened.

Miyuki mentions how the public opinion regarding Project Dione has changed so much, where in Japan there can be an expected headwind against it. Originally, Project Dione is the product of a conspiracy. Tatsuya didn't admit that there were no feelings of guilt at crushing the plot to expel him to space by manipulating public opinion, where as he then used public opinion himself.

Miyuki asks him with how things are now, if Project ESCAPES will continue on. He tells her that it was never meant to counter Project Dione and that he had no choice but to reveal it. His real intention was to have more time to prepare. But once things start, there is no stopping. Miyuki feels that even if Tatsuya would want to plot world conquest, she would also feel the same. Although Tatsuya's true aim is for the peaceful use of magic.

Miyuki finishes the conversation by asking Tatsuya if Maya has recommended that he visit's Miyaki Island at least once. Tatsuya feels that Maya has been too hasty with scheduling the moving of the research facility to the island and all the while, promoting Project ESCAPES. Miyuki thinks that surely Maya is doing this to benefit the Yotsuba Family while Tatsuya wishes if only that were true.

Tatsuya finishes his food and Miyuki goes to get him some coffee even though she still has food on her plate.

◇ ◇ ◇

Tatsuya and Miyuki had been talking about Miyaki Island since breakfast, due to the fact that the flow of the conversation went in that direction. Although, Tatsuya couldn't help but remember a conversation he had about guests coming before dinner.

"Hi!"


Lina waves her hand at Tatsuya and Miyuki as she greets them.


"Lina!?"

Miyuki replies with astonishment.

"Tatsuya-san, Miyuki-oneesama, sorry for coming at such late hour."

"No, it doesn't matter as you came before dinner."

After replying to Ayako, Tatsuya shifted his consciousness towards Lina.

"Anyways, don't just stand on the porch, come in."

"Yes, Lina and Ayako-chan, come in."

After Tatsuya, Miyuki invited the two inside.

Ayako was the last one in after following Tatsuya's back, closing the door behind her with a grim look on her face.

Miyuki asks what's bothering Lina.

"A rebellion in STARS and my escape from USNA."

"Lina, it was a big deal."

Ayako explains the circumstances. It comes out to being an incredible story, where both Tatsuya and Miyuki accept it as the truth and not some made-up plot because there's no reason for Ayako to lie to them.

Ayako addresses Lina as "Shields-san" before correcting herself and saying "Major Sirius." She tells her that even though she is being protected by the Kuroba Family, Maya thinks that Lina should hide and live on Miyaki Island.

"Is the environment in Miyaki Island good enough for Major Sirius? Can she live there?"

"I've heard that there's no problem there. However, even if it's good enough for us, it may be insufficient for Major Sirius."

Lina then protests in a low voice and says that she doesn't need anything luxurious. Ayako ignores her, saying that she should be taken to see the island in advance. Miyuki replies and asks if Maya has agreed to this arrangement.

(Lina is feeling as if she's invisible and being bullied, all the while Tatsuya watches and says nothing while having a small smile.)

"Yes, and I'll leave the role of guiding the Major to Tatsuya-san."

"To Tatsuya-sama?"

Miyuki is wide-eyed in wonder when she mentions Tatsuya. Tatsuya is convinced and nods in agreement.

"If considering that Lina's escape is a camouflage and that the real purpose is to cause sabotage within the Yotsuba Family, Lina must be securely restrained. Though I guess I'm qualified to be her guide since I'm also a Strategic-Class Magician."

Tatsuya replies in a tone as if testing the waters.

"I wouldn't do that!"

Lina stood up.

"I know."

This time Tatsuya did not ignore her protest.

Ayako: "Our Head, Yotsuba Maya, hasn't thought about such things. She doesn't pose a threat to inside of the Yotsuba Family."

"Oh, ah... that kind of thing."

(Lina struggled with the organization of things. Though with Tatsuya's explanation, she seems to be convinced.)

"Ayako, what's your schedule today?"

"Actually, I'd like to stay here tonight, but i was ordered to bring Tatsuya-san's answer right away."

"I'm worried about using the phone, so could you inform Maya that I've accepted her orders."

"Yes, I will."


As soon as Ayako starts to lead the way, Tatsuya says that it's already late and that he'll go to the island tomorrow. He also says that he will be bringing Miyuki along and asks for Butler Hanabishi to be told to strengthen the protection around Minami. Ayako accepts his proposal.

"Miyuki, I'm sorry, but could you prepare Lina's bedroom?"

"Okay."

"Well, wait a minute."

"Then Tatsuya-san, Miyuki-oneesama, I'll excuse myself today."

"Yeah, let's make time to talk more slowly next time."

"Please!"

Answered Ayako.

After hearing Tatsuya's proposal, a smile could be seen on Ayako's face, covering it in its entirety.

Miyuki also smiled, but it was from the position of being a fiancée.

"Ayako-chan, thank you for bringing Lina."

Miyuki says this to Ayako in the hallway after leaving the living room with her.

The front door closes.

"Lina, why don't you tell me more?"

When Miyuki returned, Tatsuya pushes his unilateral demand onto Lina.

"I'll ask you again. Did you really see those parasites again?"

Lina nods her head in affirmation.

[Illustration]

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