Mahouka vol 30

Chapter 1

Early Saturday morning, July 13th. More specifically, it is ten minutes to seven in the morning.

“Will you go to visit Honoka right after returning home?” – With a completely ordinary face and a completely ordinary voice, Tatsuya asked Miyuki, who was about to go to school.

“’Yes, as planned.”

In a different voice, but in exactly the same tone as usual, Miyuki answered, reincarnated by Lina’s Parade into a girl with light brown hair and light brown eyes.

Yesterday, July 12, Minami was taken out of the country by the efforts of Minoru, who secured the support of the Parasites from the American army. Tatsuya’s chase ended in failure.

But neither Tatsuya nor Miyuki became discouraged.

“Tatsuya, will you come too?”

Lina asked Tatsuya, who had exactly the same face as Miyuki, and they differed only in the color of her hair and eyes…. Lina took her face as the basis for changing the appearance of Miyuki, so if we exclude the difference in colors, they were indistinguishable as two drops of water.

Lina also knew that Tatsuya could not return Minami.

However, Lina did not seem to worry about Tatsuya.

And not because I thought that Tatsuya didn’t care about yesterday’s failure.

Lina knew perfectly well that both Tatsuya and Miyuki were seriously injured mentally. However… neither Tatsuya nor Miyuki surrendered.

This Lina also knew.

“Yes, I’m going. Lina, are you going to go too?”

“Of course. Honoka is my girlfriend.”

“… If Tatsuya and Miyuki behave as if nothing had happened, then I will also maintain my usual behavior,” thought Lina.

◊ ◊ ◊

Miyuki was forced to change her face with Lina’s magic in order to avoid talking to reporters.

This week, Monday, July 8, Ichijou Masaki, with the help of the new Strategic class magic “Ocean Blast”, stopped the advance of the NSU fleet in the Sea of ​​Japan.

By itself, this event went exactly as Tatsuya planned. However, Kichijouji Shinkurou’s speech to reporters attacking the new hero greatly violated Tatsuya’s plans.

Overly honest Kichijouji told reporters the name of Tatsuya as the co-developer of Ocean Blast. And “thanks” to this, now not only Tatsuya, but also Miyuki has become the target of aggressive attempts by journalists to get information.

Fortunately, neither Tatsuya nor Miyuki have ever been surrounded by reporters and photographers.

The school still does not know that Tatsuya and Miyuki moved to the building in Tofu. According to the records, they still live in their private home that’s owned by their father, Shiba Tatsurou, in Fuchu. As a result, the media is now mainly targeting that house.

Therefore, one could easily guess that reporters who could not get anything at home would decide to ambush them on the road from the station to the school. In fact, that’s the way it was. Anticipating this, Tatsuya asked Lina to change Miyuki’s appearance to another person.

Going to school with Lina, Miyuki left a little earlier, because the school needed some time to cancel the Parade. Removing magic in itself takes an instant, however, so that many students do not see the scene of a change in appearance, instead of the classroom, they first go into the school council room for a short while, where they canceled the transformation. That is why they came to school a little earlier than usual.

When Miyuki and Lina left, Tatsuya settled in the dining room. Despite the setbacks, he did not refuse to save Minami and the pursuit of Minoru. This morning, he should have gone to eliminate the consequences of his actions yesterday. But no matter what he began to do, he did not have time to finish the job.

“… Minami is heading east across the Pacific. The course remains unchanged…”

Sipping coffee brewed by a home automation system, he turned his “look” at Minami. He could easily track her Eidos.

“Minoru… noticed that I was” watching. “

Minoru was supposed to be next to Minami. Tatsuya decided to follow this “connection” and tried to read Eidos Minoru. But before he could focus, the “image” of Minoru disappeared from his “field of vision.”

“Kimon Tonko?”

Obviously, Tatsuya’s “line of sight” was set aside with the help of Kimon Tonko Minoru. It seems that Minoru perfectly mastered the East Asian continental ancient magic, “inherited” from the ghost of Zhou Gongjin.

At this, Tatsuya interrupted the observation. Attached to Eidos Minami, the mark still remained, and Minoru was not particularly interested in finding Minoru.

Continuing such careful observation, it is likely that the ship carrying the Minami will be able to stop. However, a careless attack can hurt Minami herself. Even if you try to destroy only the engine, the ship in the end may just sink, which is completely unacceptable.

“It is too early…”

Thinking that it was time to get ready for the exit, Tatsuya finished his coffee. He was going to a meeting of the Master Clans. Although no formal attire was required, at least some formal attire was required . Officially, he was still a high school student, so his school uniform was suitable for this, but he decided to change into a suit.

Having put the cup in the dishwasher (there was no need to press a button, since the sink started automatically when a sufficient amount of dirty dishes was reached), Tatsuya went to his room. His path ran past the living room.

And at that moment he was stopped by the sound of an incoming call on a videophone.

It was still only eight in the morning. The only reason for the call at such a time could only be an urgent matter. Or could this person call only at this time? If so, then it was impossible to remain indifferent.

Tatsuya went into the living room and pressed the call reception button.

Fujibayashi Kyouko in military uniform appeared on the wall display.

“Tatsuya-kun, good morning.” Sorry at such a time.

Fujibayashi spoke without hesitation from the videophone screen. This behavior indicated that she was not at all concerned about the fact that it was early morning.

– Good morning. Do you have an urgent matter? Tatsuya suddenly asked in a cold tone. He was not so inhospitable because his mood had deteriorated. This was a completely normal behavior for him.

“Not that this business was urgent…” mumbled Fujibayashi.

With a silent look at the camera, Tatsuya urged her to continue.

Fujibayashi’s eyes nervously ran from side to side, and she spoke without looking Tatsuya in the eye.

“… I want to apologize for my father.” Tatsuya-kun, could you give me some of your time?

“Do you mean you want to meet and talk face to face?”

– Yes.

At that moment, Fujibayashi finally looked Tatsuya in the eye with determination on her face.

“My father’s deed is a betrayal, for which you don’t apologize through the camera and monitor.

Fujibayashi Kyouko’s father, Fujibayashi Nagamasa yesterday fought with Tatsuya at the foot of Mount Fuji, in the Sea of ​​Aokigahara Trees. He stood in the way of Tatsuya to thwart his pursuit and let Kudou Minoru escape. On the eve of Nagamasa, he promised to cooperate with Tatsuya in the capture of Minoru, so his act can no doubt be called a betrayal.

– Not necessary.

Tatsuya’s response was still indifferent and cold.

– But…

“I accepted an apology right now.” Nothing more is needed.

The tone of Tatsuya’s voice seemed to say: “It is useless to object.”

However, Fujibayashi has already opened her mouth to continue. However, Tatsuya’s voice sounded before she could say anything.

“Instead, would you like to visit your father?” Do you know which hospital he is in?

Defeated by Tatsuya Fujibayashi Nagamasa, he was captured by Kuroba Mitsugu’s subordinates and taken to the Yotsuba family-run hospital in Kofu. Now he is undergoing treatment there with limited freedom of movement.

– Yep. I heard from my mother.

“He was badly wounded, but not so much that you were refused a meeting.”

This “restriction of freedom” of Nagamasa did not mean that the Yotsuba family would interfere with his communication with the outside world. Last night, his family was told the name, address and telephone number of the hospital where he was lying.

-… Okay, I get it.

“First talk to the culprit of my problems, and only then come back.” So Fujibayashi interpreted the words of Tatsuya.

– Once again, I sincerely apologize for this.

Tatsuya somehow understood that Fujibayashi misinterpreted his words, but did not correct her.

– Everything is fine. Bye, take care.

Having finished the conversation with words that can be called cynical, Tatsuya turned off the videophone.

◊ ◊ ◊

Lieutenant Colonel Kazama, who came to serve in his office as the commander of a separate magically equipped battalion of the 1-0-1 brigade, immediately left the office without even crouching. The reason for this was the message that he saw on the display of his desktop terminal.

And now he was standing in front of the table of the brigade commander 1-0-1, Lieutenant General Saeki.

– Yesterday, in the former Yamanashi Prefecture, in the vicinity of Mount Fuji and the lakes of Kawaguchi and Saiko, a person named Kudou Soushi appeared in a police investigation.

This was the first topic that Saeki raised right after the usual exchange of greetings.

A faint surprise appeared on Kazama’s face.

“This person has the same name as the second son of the Kudou family.”

– This is it.

The surprise on Kazama’s face became clearly distinguishable.

“But what did he do there?” The funeral of His Excellency Kudou is scheduled for tomorrow, so he should not have time for long trips.

As Kazama said, the funeral of Kudou Retsu, who was killed by Minoru (and officially died of an illness), will take place tomorrow on land belonging to the main house of the Kudou family. Undoubtedly, the ceremony will be attended by many guests in order to express their condolences. The family of the deceased should be busy with preparations not only today, but a few days before.

“Kudou Soushi seems to have joined the battle against Shiba Tatsuya to help Kudou Minoru escape.”

“Do you think the Kudou family is still connected to the Kudou Minoru?”

Kazama’s voice was already not just surprised, but shocked.

“This is only indirect evidence.”

Saeki was not particularly surprised at Kazama’s shocked state, and only answered him in an indifferent tone.

“But since Kudou Soushi was interrogated by the police, does this mean that Tatsuya has not erased him?”

– Naturally. His Mist dispersion is secret magic. Abuse it to eliminate interference with the return of the servant – is not permissible.

At this point, Saeki’s poker interface cracked. Her words meant the unilateral imposition of the point of view of the army. And this point of view did not coincide with Tatsuya’s priorities. However, Kazama did not begin to point out this to her now.

– I think that to some extent he understands this…

Saeki sighed.

“… The ball of fire that was observed last night in the Shonan area was caused by its Fog Dispersion.” There is no direct evidence for this, but my subordinates analyzed images from infrared cameras on a stratospheric platform, as a result of which such a conclusion was made.

– For the first time I hear about it.

This remark by Kazama expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that this information did not reach him. Tatsuya, as the “special officer of Ooguro Ryuuya,” is listed in a separate magically equipped battalion commanded by Kazama. It is reasonable that the information division of the division headquarters was responsible for the initial analysis, but Kazama believed that before making the final decision, he should ask his opinions as the battalion commander.

Saeki understood Kazama’s feelings. It was quite expected.

– Our team will not protect Shiba Tatsuya from the consequences of yesterday’s illegal actions.

But she ignored Kazama’s displeasure.

– His behavior has recently become completely unacceptable. If he thinks that he can do what he wants, because he is a magician of the Strategic class, then we should correct this error of his.

“In my opinion, Tatsuya has no such error in his thoughts…”

We now have a new Strategic class magician named Ichijou Masaki, and that means that Tatsuya “served his own”? Kazama did not say this out loud.

“By the way, if you say that Kudou Soushi helped Kudou Minoru escape, then that means… Kudou Minoru successfully escaped from the Tatsuya chase?”

“It seems that Kudou Minoru fled to the Pacific Ocean on a USNA Army transport ship, taking Sakurai Minami with him.”

“Does he have connections in the American army?”

“Obviously, the Parasites from the USNA Army helped him.”

The Japanese army managed to find out that the Parasites are building up their influence within the USNA army, making the Stars the center of their forces. This was information that was available only to a part of the intelligence department and a small number of people in the leadership, but Saeki was able to get it through personal routes.

– Okay.

Saeki had not yet spoken about this Kazama, but he was not surprised at this. Kazama’s reaction was unexpected for Saeki, but she did not ask him if he knew about it. Because she had a fear that then the conversation might turn to the question of her sources of information, which was undesirable.

“… Probably Shiba Tatsuya also knows how Kudou Minoru escaped.” And there is a possibility that he knows the place where he escaped.

“Tatsuya has that“ look. ” But what, in fact, is the problem?

“The transport ship that took Kudou Minoru aboard seems to be heading to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.”

– Northwest Hawaiian Islands… Are you worried that Tatsuya might go to Midway Island?

– Right.

Saeki answered in the affirmative, not even trying to get away from the answer.

– Lieutenant Colonel. A separate magically equipped battalion should in no way help Shiba Tatsuya with an attack on Midway.

– I see. I will also bring this to the attention of my subordinates.

Seeing that Kazama was sympathetic, Saeki breathed a sigh of relief.

From the behavior of Saeki, Kazama concluded that she might fear that he might want to take part in such recklessness as an attack on the base of the American army. It was extremely undesirable for Kazama to be considered such a person who puts personal gain above national interests.

“Is that all for you?”

That is why in his words appeared a note of causticity. At that moment, Kazama no longer hid his discomfort.

– No. There is one more thing.

There was no concern in Saeki’s voice about Kazama’s hurt feelings. But the tone of her voice seemed somehow too calm.

– A decision was made to release the Australian magicians captured in March, Jasmine Williams and James J. Johnson.

“Will they be extradited to Australia?”

– Yes.

Kazama did not ask about the reasons for his release. If this was the decision of the government, then he did not want to incur trouble by asking unnecessary questions. According to official records, there are no Japanese soldiers held captive in Australia. However, there may be secret agents held in custody as criminals, and not as prisoners of war. Kazama himself also had some relation to illegal operations, but in fact he did not want to be involved in business with people engaged in similar work.

“Lieutenant Colonel, I would like to entrust you with a mission to accompany these two.”

– To me?

But as soon as Saeki spoke about this, he immediately realized that the case of these two Australian agent magicians would concern him personally.

– This task will take only one day and will not become an obstacle in the management of the battalion.

“May I know the date and place?”

– Departure from our base on July 14 at 09:00. Transportation of these two to our base will be made today during the day.

– Tomorrow… And where do you want to accompany them? To Australia?

– To the island of Io. Extradition will be made there.

– That is, we just give them back?

“It will not be a prisoner of war exchange.” However…

Saeki paused and pulled a sealed letter from the table.

– Pass this on to the person in charge on the spot. Be sure to hand it in hand.

– Personally, let me clarify?

No name or address was written on the envelope. Therefore, the issue of Kazama was quite obvious.

Saeki’s answer turned out to be unusual.

– Lieutenant Colonel, you know this person well both by name and in person.

Currently, only Saeki and Kazama were present in this office of the brigade commander.

This meant that he was a man whose name could not be spoken aloud even here.

– I understand you.

Kazama did not dig deeper.

◊ ◊ ◊

It was already ten o’clock in the morning when Tatsuya took off from his house in a small helicopter, the pilot of which, of course, was Hyougo. His flight destination was the Bay Hills Yokohama Tower. Today, at 10 a.m., the Conference of the Master Clans of the emergency convocation will begin, which will be held in the online conference hall of the Kanto Magic Association. Tatsuya was called to the conference as a witness.

“Saegusa-senpai, good morning.”

Tatsuya spoke to Mayumi, who was standing at the entrance to the conference room.

– Good, Tatsuya-kun. You are early.

Mayumi smiled broadly and went to meet Tatsuya.

“Senpai, are you here as the representative of Saegusa-dono?”

– No, what are you. I am an assistant to Juumonji-kun.

– That’s what it is. Indeed, even Juumonji-senpai may not be able to focus on the conference if you need to manage the video conferencing system alone.

– Yes, assistance from outsiders is not prohibited.

For a moment, Mayumi’s face seemed to darken. It seems that she knew that she would be the subject of discussion at today’s meeting.

However, Mayumi quickly regained a friendly smile.

“Tatsuya-kun, would you like some tea over there?”

“But will the conference begin soon?”

“More than ten minutes.” – Mayumi said and dragged Tatsuya to a special place reserved for tea parties.

Tatsuya knew that she was a woman with her special outlook on tea drinking. He was worried that in just ten minutes he couldn’t make tea of ​​acceptable quality, but Mayumi was not so fanatical. She just got ice tea out of the refrigerator and set it in front of Tatsuya.

“Tatsuya-kun, I’m sorry I didn’t help you last time.”

Mayumi started the conversation with an apology right after she put the glass in front of Tatsuya. She did not put anything superfluous, like syrup, milk or lemon, on the table. The lack of frills was probably due to a lack of time.

-… Are you talking about last month? But that evening, as a result, Minoru’s attack was repelled. I, on the contrary, should thank you.

Mayumi talked about that evening in late June, when Minoru attacked the hospital where Minami was lying. As Tatsuya said, Minoru couldn’t kidnap Minami that evening.

“That time, the attack of Minoru-kun was repulsed by Juumonji-kun… But if we could then catch Minoru-kun…”

“I couldn’t catch Minoru either.”

The atmosphere at the tea table has become heavy and sticky.

-… By the way, have you been going to school lately? – Completely changing her tone, Mayumi asked Tatsuya, apparently in order to get rid of her gloomy mood.

– I go. Sometimes.

Tatsuya did not lie. Even if you look only at the current week, on Wednesday he came to introduce Lin to Director Momoyama. In addition, the school resumed work only on Thursday. Tatsuya decided that the answer “I don’t go to school at all”, on the contrary, would be a lie.

But contrary to Tatsuya’s thoughts, Mayumi frowned when she heard his answer.

“But I know that Tatsuya-kun is freed from visiting… And why it happened, I also know…”

Mayumi looked at Tatsuya with concern in her gaze.

“So the situation is not going as Tatsuya-kun wanted…?” After all, they didn’t tell you that you should not go to school at all? Maybe then you’d better go there as often as possible? You only have six months left to be a high school student…

From the words of Mayumi, Tatsuya realized that she was worried about him. But it was obvious that she was mistaken.

“I’m going to go to school as often as possible.”

And it was not an excuse; it was undoubtedly the true thoughts of Tatsuya. At the time when he first entered the First School, he probably did not like going there, but the present Tatsuya did not dislike school attendance. Rather, on the contrary, he already experienced some attachment to the First School. In addition to his personal preferences, Tatsuya was very curious about how Miyuki and Lina spend time together at school. For Miyuki, he simply (as usual) was worried, and concern for Lina was expressed by the thought “I hope she does not awaken something crazy.” But the current situation simply did not leave him time to attend school.

-… That is, it was an unnecessary concern?

It is unlikely that Mayumi understood so much from Tatsuya’s short answer. She probably sensed changes in his tone of voice and expression. The anxiety that caused her to frown, although it had not disappeared without a trace, was significantly reduced.

Three minutes before the meeting, Katsuto appeared. Such a parish was not considered a delay. Because the preliminary training was carried out by the staff of the Magic Association. An assistant was required only after the start of the conference.

Tatsuya and Mayumi entered the conference room after Katsuto.

The large display, divided into ten parts, was already attended by six people. Tatsuya with one slight bow greeted all of these people at the same time – heads of families from the Ten Master Clans. This behavior was not caused by the fact that he neglected the heads of other families. Neither Katsuto nor Mayumi also greeted each of them individually, but also only made one general bow (Mayumi gave a polite low bow, bent over in her belt).

Some time after Tatsuya, Katsuto and Mayumi entered, the head of the Yatsushiro family appeared on the display.

And at exactly ten o’clock the remaining three appeared on the display: Yotsuba Maya, Saegusa Koichi and Kudou Makoto.

– So, the time has come, and I declare the Conference of the Master Clans of the emergency convocation open.

Katsuto’s announcement did not contain formal welcome words.

– I would immediately like to clarify one question. – Suddenly in a harsh tone, Ichijou Gouki, the head of the Ichijou family, spoke. “Is it true that Kudou Soushi-dono helped Kudou Minoru escape?”

– I will answer myself. It’s true. – Without flinching in front of such an onslaught, Tatsuya answered. – Having turned into Kudou Minoru with the help of the Parade, Kudou Soushi-dono became a bait, and led me away. While I was chasing Soushi-dono, Minoru was retreating in the opposite direction.

– Kudou-dono. Are there any inaccuracies in Shiba-dono’s words? – Asked Makoto Futatsugi Mai, the head of the Futatsugi family.

The Kudou family is currently not a member of the Ten Master Clans. Now they are one and the “Eighteen Replacement Families”, which are designed to duplicate the roles of the Ten Master Clans. Kudou Makoto was invited to the conference not as a party to be notified of the situation, but as a party to be interrogated.

– At first glance, everything is so, but I would call the expression “turned” inaccurate. Soushi became a bait not voluntarily. – Without hesitation, Makoto answered Mai’s question.

“Do you mean that they manipulated him?”

“You mean that the Parasitic Minoru-kun controlled Soushi-dono as a puppet?”

Mutsuzuka Atsuko and Yatsushiro Raizou bombarded Makoto with questions one after another.

– Right. Soushi could not resist the magic of mental intervention merged with the Parasite Minoru.

If Soushi was present here, then he might have testified that they were not directly manipulated by magic. Soushi himself did not offer to help Minoru escape, but in fear of overwhelming power, he was forced to cooperate. However, pressure on Soushi was exerted not only by Minoru. It is true that Soushi was frightened by the power of Minoru, but it was Makoto who ordered him to become bait. Minoru did not use magic to manipulate Soushi’s thoughts.

“Can Minoru-kun use the magic of manipulating consciousness?” But in the data provided about him there was no such information.

– Probably, these are new abilities, studied after becoming a Parasite.

Makoto’s explanation was a deliberate lie. Minoru did not manipulate Soushi’s magic and did not study the magic of manipulating consciousness. However, in Makoto’s voice, answering Shippou Takumi’s question, as before, there was no noticeable excitement.

“So you insist that Minoru-kun was manipulating Soushi-dono?”

This question was asked by Saegusa Koichi.

– Right.

Makoto’s answer has not changed. Obviously, he was going to put all the blame on Minoru.

However, Koichi’s questions did not end there.

– And since when?

-…What?

Makoto first showed signs of excitement.

“When exactly did Soushi-dono come under the influence of Minoru-kun manipulation?” I heard that the car used as bait was not rented or stolen, but belonged to the Kudou family. When exactly did Soushi-dono come under the influence of the magic of manipulation of consciousness, and when exactly did he take this car for use?

– It…

“Kudou-dono, have you noticed Soushi-dono’s suspicious behavior?”

-… It is a shame to admit, but did not notice.

Makoto’s tone of voice changed from painful to modest. His confident attitude cracked.

“It’s pretty dangerous.”

Koichi said this not in a teasing, but rather serious tone.

– In what sense is it dangerous?

Ichijou Gouki wedged into the dialogue between Koichi and Makoto.

But Gouki, with his question, was not intended to help Makoto, who was in a quandary. He only heard that Koichi was talking about danger, and wanted to know what exactly was meant.

– Kudou-dono did not notice that a member of his family was strongly influenced by the Parasite.

Koichi spoke in a fervent tone, as if he were just waiting for Gouki’s question.

“Therefore, it is impossible to deny the likelihood that besides Soushi-dono, other people who fall under the control of the Parasite are hiding among other family members or among servants.

Koichi’s reasoning was rather strained. But it was impossible to deny them either. Unless Makoto refuses the claim that Minoru was manipulated by Soushi.

– Kudou-dono. I believe that the fears of Saegusa-dono cannot be ignored. What do you think?

Futatsugi Mai turned to Makoto, trying to maintain a neutral position.

-… Everything as he said. – Makoto was forced to admit Koichi’s words. “I will check everyone at home immediately.”

“But it is not known who is under the control of the Parasite?” Kudou-dono, can you do everything without help, alone?

“Saegusa-dono, are you offering help?”

Koichi did not respond to a question by Makoto, but by Gouki. If Gouki had not intervened, Makoto would have remained silent.

“I’ve been thinking about this issue for a long time, and over the past year my family has been looking for people who can use perception magic. I think it’s time to use their skills.

Koichi’s enthusiasm for recruiting magicians of perception magic was based on observing the very first Parasite incident last year. At least there was no lie in Koichi’s words regarding this point.

In addition, Koichi’s proposal was not based on good intentions.

“Then how about our family helping too?”

“No, there is no need.” We cannot ask for help from you, Yotsuba-dono, when you already have problems with Minoru-kun and the USNA.

Despite her surprise, Maya’s offer was immediately rejected. This clearly proved that, under the pretext of “investigation”, Koichi plans to get the results of the work of the former Ninth Laboratory.

– How about Kudou-dono and Saegusa-dono discuss this issue later directly with each other?

As if anticipating that sparks would begin to fly between Koichi and Maya, Katsuto intervened in the conversation.

– Really. Juumonji-dono is right.

Gouki supported Katsuto’s initiative.

– Good. Kudou-dono, give me some time after the conference?

– I’m not against.

When Makoto agreed to Koichi’s terms, the atmosphere between those present returned to normal.

– Shiba-dono. Or should I call you Yotsuba-dono?

Shippou Takumi decided to move on to the next question and therefore turned to Tatsuya.

– Use Shiba, please.

Tatsuya answered so not because of a rebellious sense of individuality, but in order to be able to distinguish him from Maya during his conversion.

“Then, Shiba-dono.” Were you the one who last night near the coast east of Hiratsuki staged a shootout with a group of magicians who hijacked a helicopter from journalists?

– I was attacked from this helicopter, and I counterattacked with magic and destroyed them.

Tatsuya answered, correcting Shippou Takumi’s wording a little.

– Yes, from the materials received it can be understood that the counterattack of Shiba-dono was self-defense.

Takumi responded to Tatsuya’s objection with agreement in his voice.

– You could understand who the opponents were?

“Maybe these were Kudou Minoru’s accomplices?”

Questions followed from Itsuwa Isami and Mutsuzuka Atsuko.

“That I could not understand.” They had an East Asian appearance, but they had such distinctive features that I would not call them Japanese.

In fact, Erika heard from Toyama (Tooyama) Tsukasa the assumption that the enemy is Illegal MAP. However, Tatsuya could not know this information at the time of the battle yesterday, so he held the position that he did not know the attackers.

– I found out the origin of those guys. – As if rejecting Tatsuya’s answer, Saegusa Koichi intervened.

“And who was it?”

Katsuto asked Koichi to continue.

– An illegal squad of killers from the USNA, unit Horsehead.

– Illegal MAP…? Muttered Mitsuya Gen in an understanding voice, hearing the name voiced by Saegusa Koichi.

– Saegusa-dono, Mitsuya-dono, what is Illegal MAP?

After Ichijou Gouki’s question, Saegusa Koichi and Mitsuya Gen’s eyes shifted to one side. They looked at the monitor to see the facial expressions of each other.

As a result of eye contact, Mitsuya Gen was selected to answer the question.

– This is a unit engaged in illegal work and killings, and reporting directly to the General Staff of the USNA Army. The unit consists of three squads, all of whose members are magicians with excellent fighting skills against humans. I heard that one of these units, the Horse Head, was conceived for sending to tasks in the Great Asian Alliance, therefore it consists of magicians of East Asian appearance.

– Do you mean that this is a certain elite detachment of the American army, designed for illegal work?

– You can understand that. – Mitsuya Gen answered the question of Ichijou Gouki.

“Yotsuba-dono, why did America plan to kill your son?” Gouki asked Maya in a caustic tone.

– Who knows? Maybe because Tatsuya rejected their request?

In Maya’s blatant manner of speaking, it was obvious that she did not even hide the fact that she was pretending to be out of business.

But Gouki did not care about Maya’s attitude.

“Are you talking about the requirement to participate in the Dion Project?” I don’t think the squad of killer magicians was sent just for this reason. Still, the rumor about your son is true, isn’t it?

Maya did not respond to Gouki’s provocation, but only barely noticeable smiled.

– What rumor? – Shippou Takumi asked.

– The rumor that the magician of the Strategic class who destroyed the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula, the user of the magic of the Strategic class that caused the so-called “Scorched Halloween” is the son of Yotsuba-dono, that is, Shiba-dono.

Formally, this statement by Gouki was Takumi’s answer, but in fact it was a matter of Maya and Tatsuya.

Maya, as usual, only smiled impassively.

Tatsuya had to answer.

“I don’t see the need to answer.”

From such an unceremonious answer, Tatsuya Gouki’s eyes widened and his face turned red.

– This issue was not included in the agenda of this conference. If this meeting was planned for this, then from now on I will refrain from discussing and will not bother you.

Tatsuya continued before Gouki managed to say something.

“Shiba-dono, you’re exaggerating.” Take it easy.

“Ichijou-dono, you should also refrain from making statements in which you try to find out the situation in other families.”

Mutsuzuka Atsuko and Yatsushiro Raizou hastened to become mediators in the dispute.

-… Really. This was an inappropriate topic.

– I apologize.

Gouki, though only in words, admitted that he was wrong, to which Tatsuya answered with a completely insincere apology.

The atmosphere in the conference room began to deteriorate. The heads of families displayed on the screen did not hide their decline in motivation. Or just didn’t want to hide it.

– If the armed forces that started the shooting were the Illegal MAP, then the riots that they organized were in no way connected with Minoru-dono or with Japanese criminal organizations. This time they were able to penetrate the country, taking advantage of a convenient moment during the retreat of the NSU fleet, so from that moment on, self-defense forces, in order not to shame their honor, will have to strengthen their vigilance.

Mitsuya Gen probably concluded that he couldn’t continue like this, so he decided to continue the discussion.

– Therefore, we do not need to participate in this matter. I believe that the issue that we should discuss now concerns the responsibility of Kudou-dono.

– Mitsuya-dono is right. Although, as a result, they lost the magic of Minoru-dono, but this did not happen without the help of the Parasite, whose existence aroused public alarm.

Saegusa Koichi spoke up, taking advantage of a convenient moment after Mitsui Gen’s speech.

– Yotsuba-dono. Did Kudou Minoru abduct a maid from your house? What decision would the Yotsuba family offer in this case?

Obviously, with this question posed, Koichi was trying to impose dirty work on Maya.

– Let me think… Tatsuya, what do you think?

Without removing a smile from her face, Maya simply threw this question Koichi to Tatsuya.

– I believe that we do not need to force them to take responsibility.

Tatsuya answered without hesitation.

“If Minoru was manipulated by the Kudou family, then they too can be considered victims of the Parasite.” It is also an unbiased fact that the Kudou family is the main victim in this matter, since Minoru killed the previous head of the family. I believe that from the point of view of humanity, it would be inappropriate to condemn the grieving family for complicity, preparing to hold the funeral of His Excellency Kudou tomorrow.

“Well said, Shiba-dono.”

Futatsugi Mai agreed with Tatsuya in a quick manner of speech unusual for her, praising him. Perhaps she was afraid that in this case the objections would not be relevant.

“As Shiba-dono said, Kudou Minoru is the criminal who killed the previous head of the Kudou family.” The Kudou family should not have been prepared to help such a person.

– From the point of view of common sense, it is. – Agreed Yatsushiro Raizou in a slightly ironic tone.

– I also support the view that there is no need to demand compensation from the Kudou family. Saegusa-dono, does this suit you?

“Since it suits Yotsuba-dono, I won’t mind.”

Glancing at Mitsuya Gen, Saegusa Koichi voiced his agreement with the humbled face.

In addition to Maya and Tatsuya, the opinion that the unity of the Ten Master Clans should not be destroyed was supported in their own words by Mai, Raizou, and Gen. Although the Kudou family was not one of the Ten Master Clans at the moment, it was recently among them, and it clearly stood apart from the other Eighteen Replacing Families. If you push the Kudou family beyond measure now, a system called the Ten Master Clans may weaken. This is precisely what they feared.

Koichi also did not want to violate the established order of the Japanese magical world with the Ten Master Clans at its top. Although he sought to lower the status of the Kudou family, which retained a strong influence, despite the fact that he left the Ten Master Clans, but general devastation was not part of his plans.

– That’s great. And also, Shiba-dono.

Mitsuya Gen did not stop even after forcing Saegusa Koichi to compromise.

– What?

– Yes, I agree that this place is not suitable to reveal your strength.

– Mitsuya-dono. This is already…

Katsuto tried to stop Gen. But he did not stop.

“However, Shiba-dono.” Now it’s no secret to anyone that you are the same magician of the Strategic class. Your actions and statements have caused uncontrollably arising suspicions and rumors among many military and politicians both in Japan and abroad. You should be a little more serious about the harsh reality in which these people, fearing a threat, may show an excessive reaction.

Gen’s comments were not based on malicious intent or hatred. Rather, on the contrary, he took care of Tatsuya’s present and future.

The Mitsuya family had military ties not only in Japan, but also abroad. They probably intercepted fragmentary information regarding secret plans to neutralize the “magician of the Strategic class Shiba Tatsuya.”

– I will take your advice into account. But even if you call it a well-known secret, I still can’t tell anything about myself.

Tatsuya seemed to understand that too. However, his position has not changed.

He had an agreement with self-defense forces, according to which he was forbidden to disclose that he was a user of the Matter Blast. In addition, he could not ignore the information received from Shiina through Miyuki.

The Mitsuya family informed the self-defense forces of Tatsuya’s plan to attack Midway Prison. Obviously, the information was transmitted to Saeki, closely associated with Tatsuya, precisely in order to prevent the implementation of this plan in practice. If you look from the appropriate point of view, Tatsuya could not help but think that this Gen’s speech also had the goal of tying him hand and foot.

◊ ◊ ◊

Today’s extraordinary meeting of the Master Clans left Tatsuya a bad aftertaste. It was fortunate that he was not blamed for the battle with Illegal MAP, but the fact that he was in fact exposed as a magician of the Strategic class was an unacceptable result for him, despite the fact that he was not guilty of this.

However, if you continue to be in a bad mood, then this will cause undue concern for Miyuki. Forcibly suppressing these feelings in himself, he went to the hospital where Honoka lies, which they, together with Miyuki and Lina, planned to visit after they returned from school.

– Hi, Honoka! How are you feeling?

When they entered the hospital ward, Lina spoke first with Honoka.

Tatsuya and Miyuki stood behind her with a delicate lack of expression on their faces.

In truth, Miyuki did not speak first because she felt that Honoka would be glad if Tatsuya spoke first. And Tatsuya, as if having read Miyuki’s thoughts, was the first to plan to ask Honoka about her well-being.

However…

Lina violated this program of action with her energy.

But she could not be blamed for this, because in advance they did not discuss who would do what. The result was a temporary lack of facial expression in Tatsuya and Miyuki.

Perhaps Tatsuya and Miyuki showed excessive caution.

Honoka answered Lina’s question with a clear voice, without showing a single drop of disappointment.

– All right. Although this is called “hospitalized,” I’m just here for a routine examination.

– I see. It’s good.

Having recovered to a normal state, Tatsuya wedged into the conversation.

“Tatsuya-san… I’m sorry to make you worry.”

Honoka was embarrassed, but didn’t even hide her smile. Although she did not think that Tatsuya would not worry about her, but when he so openly showed his concern, she could not suppress the joy in herself.

“Honoka, you shouldn’t apologize.” Rather, I should apologize. Sorry to drag you into this. And Erica, I also created problems.

In addition to the Tatsuya group, Honoka also came to visit Erica and Shizuku.

Tatsuya first bowed to Honoka, and then said an apology to Erica.

“What are you saying, Tatsuya-san!” You are not to blame!

– Right. Those villains are to blame. Fortunately, neither Honoka nor Mizuki were injured, so Tatsuya-kun does not need to take responsibility, right?

Honoka was energetic, and Erica, with a barely perceptible smile, shook his head from side to side.

– I am very glad that no one was hurt. And I’m not only about Honoka and Mizuki, but about Erica, Saijou-kun and Yoshida-kun too.

Miyuki’s words were from the bottom of their hearts, but were also designed to prevent Tatsuya from continuing to apologize.

– Right. Mizuki also missed school today, but this is due to precautions so that yesterday does not happen again. And as for Leo and Miki… in a sense, they are able to take care of themselves.

As Erica said, as a precaution, Mizuki stayed home today. But Leo and Mikihiko did not come, because they were too shy to come to the girl’s personal (not shared) hospital ward.

“I also think that Tatsuya-san’s guilt is not here, but…”

The remark of Shizuku, who was silent before, sounded a little different from the general flow of conversation.

Shizuku stared at Tatsuya. There was no smile on her face.

“I want Tatsuya-san to protect Honoka so that this never happens again.”

She had an absolutely serious tone, in which there was not a fraction of playfulness. Her face was absolutely serious.

– Uh !? Honoka screamed. Erica and Lina were also openly surprised.

For some reason, there was no surprise or anger on Miyuki’s face…. But there was no smile either.

“I think you know that I’m a man from the Yotsuba family of the Ten Master Clans.”

Tatsuya’s answer to Shizuku’s question sounded more like a “question” than a “statement”.

– Yeah.

Shizuku answered, not Honoka. Honoka herself only stared at Tatsuya, holding her breath.

– Previously, I assumed in my future separation from the Yotsuba family… Or even confrontation with her. But now I’m going to live like a magician in the Yotsuba family.

When Miyuki heard Tatsuya continue to speak, her face darkened for a moment.

“Being under my protection means for Honoka that she too will become a magician working for the Yotsuba family.” She will not be able to live a normal life. Including as a magician. However…

– And yet, I do not mind.

Harnessing her strength, Honoka issued an answer confirming the acceptance of what Tatsuya had said.

There was no shiver in her eyes aimed at Tatsuya.

But when she turned her eyes from Tatsuya to Miyuki, indecision appeared in her gaze.

“But then… Miyuki, does that suit you?”

Hearing Honoka, Miyuki looked away.

However, she immediately turned back and looked Honoka directly in the eye.

“Honestly… I don’t like this.” Because Honoka is an attractive girl. But at the same time with this feeling of rejection, I am glad that we can together be the support of Tatsuya-sama.

– Miyuki… Yeah, I’ll try.

Miyuki and Honoka smiled at each other. But the smiles of both were strained. Miyuki’s smile was clearly feigned, and Honoka’s smile lacked self-confidence. However, neither in their words, nor in their eyes was a lie.

“However… ” Miyuki said and turned to Tatsuya. Her smile, which she gave to Tatsuya, shone dazzlingly. “It is forbidden to change, Tatsuya-sama.”

“Now something like this could not be said,” Tatsuya moaned in his thoughts, not even changing his face.

– Now something like this could not be said…

And then suddenly Lina’s voice came.

As expected… The atmosphere was ruined.

However, there was no one here who did not understand that the cause of the damage to the atmosphere was precisely the defiant act of Miyuki.

-… Of course. Tatsuya answered, making his face as serious as he could.

Honoka’s face, meanwhile, had already begun to twitch from a constant smile.

– So greedy. Whispered Shizuku, standing to the side of Honoka.

(Colored Illustration)

◊ ◊ ◊

7 p.m. Lina had dinner again at the same table with Tatsuya and Miyuki. However, today she was not just waiting at the table, as usual, but was in the kitchen with Miyuki. Unfortunately, she still did not have the level to call it “cooking together.” Rather, it was only “Miyuki’s help.”

“… I didn’t expect Shizuku to talk about something like this…”

With great difficulty wielding chopsticks, Lina spoke to Tatsuya…. Miyuki in a rather Spartan manner did not allow Lina to use a knife and a fork instead of sticks.

– It really was unexpected.

Neither Tatsuya nor Miyuki asked what exactly Lina meant by the word “such.” To Shizuku’s “request” expressed by the words “I want Tatsuya-san to defend Honoka,” Tatsuya replied “I will take Honoka, Erica and the others” under my protection. And all this corresponded to the impression of Lina, which she voiced last night with the words “it looks like you were going to establish your kingdom.”

“But for you, Tatsuya, on the contrary, circumstances are preferable when the other side itself has asked for protection, isn’t it?”

– Yes…. But in fact, it would be better if the situation did not go so far that my defense would really be required.

Lina unexpectedly seriously took these words of Tatsuya, which he spoke more likely to himself.

“… Honoka is also a magician.” Therefore, for her, the probability of getting into a dangerous situation is already quite high, regardless of Onii-sama.

– B-right. People who seek out powerful magicians, and make them work for themselves against their will, are in the government, and in civil organizations, and in criminal gangs. Therefore, Honoka should be happy to be protected by Tatsuya.

Miyuki and Lina hurriedly spoke in a distracting manner. More precisely, only Lina was nervous and hasty. Miyuki’s words were more like convincing herself.

-…Yes you are right. In addition, in this case, this does not mean that I have to do something right now.

-…Right. Now it’s better to give priority to Minami-chan.

The chopsticks of all three froze. The air became heavier, as if preventing this time from escaping or evading an answer.

“… I don’t know if I should say this, but is it normal that you are not busy chasing after Minami?” Aren’t you going to give up?

– Of course, I do not intend to give up. – Without hesitation, Tatsuya answered Lina’s question.

There was no indecision in his words.

A sad expression disappeared from Miyuki’s face.

– I know the location. Now she… about 1,200 kilometers east of Tokyo. It moves underwater in the Pacific Ocean at a speed of 35 knots.

“Do you know so much !?”

From the last words, Tatsuya Lina widened her eyes.

Her sticks even fell out of her hand.

Miyuki looked at Lina sitting across from her with a disapproving look.

– Sorry. – Lina whispered, picked up the fallen sticks on the tablecloth and laid them on a ceramic stand for sticks.

After ascertaining that Lina was not too lazy to put her wands properly, Miyuki turned to Tatsuya and asked:

– Speaking under water, do you mean that she is in a submarine?

Needless to say, Miyuki herself, following the rules of etiquette, put her chopsticks on a stand right after she interrupted her meal.

“This is not known to me.” It can also be a fully submersible vessel…. More importantly, the food cools down. Let’s talk about food.

– Really.

“A fully submersible vessel?” And you know a lot…

Although Miyuki and Lina reacted differently, they both continued to eat after Tatsuya.

– Moving east of Tokyo… Maybe Hawaii? Or…

Although Lina tried to pretend that something had crossed her mind, it was obvious that she was giving her expectations as reality. She thought it a convenient coincidence that the ship with the Mines aboard was heading towards Midway Island.

Neither Tatsuya nor Miyuki accused her of such recklessness. They both understood that Benjamin Canopus, a prisoner in Midway Prison, was dear to Lina, and she worried about him about the same way they worried about Minami.

– Obviously, the destination is neither the main island of the Hawaiian archipelago, nor Oahu. They go either to Midway Island or to the atoll next to it…

Undoubtedly, this is precisely why Tatsuya led the conversation in the direction Lina desired.

– Lina, are there any American military bases in the northwest of the Hawaiian Islands?

Tatsuya heard from the Mitsuya family that an American military base is located on Pearl & Hermes Atoll. However, he decided to ask Lina this question, hinting that he could pay attention to Midway Prison.

“I heard that the Pearl & Hermes Atoll has a navy supply base.”

But, unfortunately, Lina was unexpectedly serious. She did not notice the hint of Tatsuya and only answered what was asked of her.

Miyuki stared at Lina with a frustrated look, trying to convey to her the thought, “No, no!”

And Tatsuya sitting next to her patiently continued to ask Lina questions.

“And what did you hear about her?”

– I did not check every local base among those that were not planned to be used. I’m not a fleet officer.

“So it’s not such a big base?”

– Probably. I think I would remember if it were an important base.

“Himself, perhaps, say…?”

Tatsuya was already starting to have a headache.

And Miyuki, moving away from this conversation, focused on food.

– So, this is a base that is remote from the mainland and about which it is not known how many military personnel there are? A suitable place to keep an abducted person there.

“… Tatsuya, do you think their destination is Pearl & Hermes base?” – timidly asked Tatsuya Lina.

Tatsuya no longer had the desire to continue doing bullshit tonight.

“And I’m not going to ignore the likelihood that a kidnapped person might be imprisoned on Midway Island.”

Lina breathed a sigh of relief.

Miyuki glanced briefly at Lina. This look said: “what a troublesome and care-taking child,” but Lina didn’t even notice that Miyuki looked at her.

Chapter 2

Sunday, July 14th. 9 a.m.

As planned, Lt. Col. Kazama flew to Iwo Island.

Kazama’s assistant, Senior Lieutenant Fujibayashi, went to Nara to attend the funeral of her grandfather, Kudou Retsu. Kazama’s escort today was Major Yanagi and several junior officers and soldiers of a separate magically equipped battalion.

Also with him were two more “fellow travelers” – Jasmine Williams and James J. Johnson, combat magicians from Australia. In the spring of this year, they were caught red-handed for attempting to commit sabotage in Okinawa, and until yesterday were imprisoned in a military prison (not in the one for prisoners of war, but in the one containing enemy soldiers who are not considered prisoners of war). Kazama’s task was to hand these two over to a representative of the Australian army, who would arrive on Iwo Island.

Jasmine Williams and James J. Johnson were informed that they were being released. They were both very surprised, but did not even think to suspect a trick. Therefore, they behaved obediently.

“I hope that today’s mission will end without incident,” thought Kazama, and once again ordered his subordinates on the plane to watch over them.

◊ ◊ ◊

Elsewhere, approximately 30 minutes after the departure of Kazama.

Tatsuya with Miyuki and Lina boarded a VTOL with Hyougo as the pilot.

***Their goal was to provide funds to chase the Mines. In particular, they wanted to check how progress is being made on the development of a four-seater aircraft that can fly to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.

Tatsuya has not yet decided whether he should fly directly to Midway Island and the Pearl & Hermes Atoll by aerocar. A full round-trip flight in an aerocar was, rather, an extreme measure. It seemed foolish to join the battle immediately after flying more than four thousand kilometers. Even the idea of ​​hijacking a warship of the USNA army seemed to Tatsuya more realistic.

Tatsuya flew to Miyakijima, considering a plan to which he might have to attract third parties.

◊ ◊ ◊

At the same time, an aircraft carrier approached the island of Iwo from the west. And this ship did not belong to the Australian army. It was an aircraft carrier in the British Navy.

About an hour before the aircraft carrier arrived on the island of Iwo, a small hyper-sonic transport aircraft came closer to the aircraft carrier. The plane also belonged to the British army. Approaching, the plane landed on the corner deck of the aircraft carrier.

◊ ◊ ◊

A plane was also approaching Miyakijima from the west. However, it was a domestic aircraft – a business jet flying from Fukuoka International Airport.

This small jet plane landed at the Miyakijima airport shortly before Tatsuya arrived.

◊ ◊ ◊

A vertical take-off plane with Tatsuya, Miyuki, and Lina on board arrived at Miyakijima at the beginning of the eleventh hour of the morning. Their arrival took place at the scheduled time, and the visit was announced in advance, so they did not have to wait for a car to meet them when they landed. However, the car that picked them up drove them to a different place instead of the planned one.

Instead of driving to the research buildings in the eastern part of the island, the car drove to the buildings along the west coast, which once housed the administrative staff of the magician prison.

They were brought to the former office of the head of the prison. In this room that was converted to the highest standard with a luxurious interior decoration, Yotsuba Maya, the head of the Yotsuba family, was waiting for them. She was sitting on the couch, and behind her, as usual, stood Hayama.

Miyuki involuntarily turned around and looked at Hyougo accompanying them. But he only shook his head barely noticeable with a look on his face saying “I didn’t know.” Obviously, he was also not informed that Maya would be coming to Miyakijima.

In any case, surprise here will not help. First, Tatsuya decided to greet Maya. Miyuki followed suit. Lina was at a loss what to do, but in the end she chose a silent bow.

Maya invited them to sit down, and Tatsuya sat on the right end of the three-seater sofa. It was a place directly opposite Maya, who was sitting to the left on one of two single sofas, standing in a row on the opposite side across the table. Near Tatsuya, in the middle of the sofa, sat Miyuki, and after her, on the opposite end of the sofa from Tatsuya, sat Lina.

“Sorry to be so sudden. A visit to the research lab will have to wait a bit.”

From these words, it was clear that Maya arrived at Miyakijima not by accident. After examining Tatsuya’s schedule, she chose the right moment.

Previously, this would mean showing the highest degree of vigilance. But the present Tatsuya was not particularly tense in such a situation. An enemy can become an ally, and an ally an enemy. The concept of “volatile relationships” doesn’t only occur in romantic relationships between a man and a woman. The enemy of yesterday, today will become a friend, and who today was a friend – tomorrow will become the enemy. Like Tatsuya had told Honoka at the hospital yesterday, the Yotsuba family, which he had previously considered his enemy, is no longer antagonistic towards him.

“No problem. So, can you tell us on what business you arrived?”

“Sure. Guests who came from far away were already waiting.”

“Oh?” Tatsuya thought when he heard the answer. From her words, she suggested that these were not her guests, but guests for him. It would be unnecessary to say that Tatsuya was not aware of any guests in advance.

“Yesterday I could not talk about them.”

From the following explanation of Maya, Tatsuya switched his attention to his thoughts. There was no point in guessing who these visitors were. In any case, he will soon meet with them. Judging in this way, Tatsuya went back to focusing on the conversation with Maya.

“But first, I want to clarify something else.”

“What exactly?”

“Tatsuya-san, perhaps I should not ask about this, but… What do you intend to do in the near future?”

It was a rather abstract question, but Tatsuya was not embarrassed.

“Going to get back Minami.”

“I see… Do you know where Minami-chan is now?”

“Yes. A transport ship with the kidnapped Minami on board is currently heading towards the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.“

“And how do you intend to get to this place?”

“I am still thinking about this issue.“

“I see… Tatsuya-san.“

Maya’s “passive” face has changed to that of the head of the family.

“Wait 2-3 days.“

“…Can you say why?“

Tatsuya asked about the reasons for this order from Maya.

“When there is news, no matter good or bad, I will certainly inform you of them without hiding anything.“

Maya did not answer Tatsuya’s question. But not only Tatsuya, but Miyuki and even Lina realized that she was up to something.

“I get it. I will follow your order.“

Tatsuya bowed to Maya, expressing his agreement.

◊ ◊ ◊

Tatsuya, along with Miyuki and Hyougo, went to a reception room located in the same building. Their guide was Tsutsumi Kotona. She was both the guard and bride of Shibata Katsushige, the heir to the title of head of the Shibata family, a side branch of the Yotsuba family.

Lina stayed in the (former) director’s office, as Maya told her, “we need to talk.” And when the conversation with Maya ends, Lina will again unite with the rest.

Kotona knocked on the front door. They answered from the other-side rather quickly.

“Katsushige-san. I brought Tatsuya-san and Miyuki-san.“

More specifically, Hyougo was still with Tatsuya and Miyuki. But Katsushige… more precisely, the guests were waiting only for Tatsuya. Miyuki, the heiress of the title of head of the Yotsuba family, could not be ignored, but the fact that Hyougo was not counted among those who arrived could not be called arrogance and indifference.

“Come over here.“

Katsushige got up and led Tatsuya and the others to the sofa. In front of the three-seater sofa, there was a woman with dark skin and specific features, presumably 40-45 years old. And behind her stood a tall and slender beautiful woman with cocoa-colored skin that looked 20–25 years old.

The woman, who looked older, Tatsuya knew in person.

“Dr. Asha Chandrasekhar…?”

She is the leading figure in her country in the field of magical engineering, and also a professor at Hyderabad University, located in the south of former Central India, and the center for the development of magic in the Indo-Persian Union. She is the developer of the strategic class magic “Agni God Downburst” (Agni Downburst).

“What is the VIP of the Indo-Persian Union doing here?”

Without showing his suspicions outwardly, Tatsuya went to Chandrasekhar. Miyuki walked up and stood next to him, and Hyougo behind Miyuki.

“Professor. This is Shiba Tatsuya, and next to him is Shiba Miyuki.“

First, Katsushige introduced Tatsuya and Miyuki to Dr. Chandrasekhar. And without any pause, looking at Tatsuya and Miyuki, he continued:

“Tatsuya-kun, Miyuki-san. This is a professor at Hyderabad University of the Indo-Persian Union, Asha Chandrasekhar.”

“I am honored to meet with you. My name is Shiba Tatsuya. I’ve already heard your famous name.”

“I am also glad to see you. My name is Asha Chandrasekhar.”

Chandrasekhar held out her hand. Tatsuya squeezed it carefully.

“My name is Shiba Miyuki. Nice to meet you.“

“I am pleased to meet you too. With such a beautiful heiress herself to the famous Yotsuba family.“

After ascertaining that Miyuki and Chandrasekhar also shook hands, Katsushige invited the three to sit down.

The woman standing behind Chandrasekhar did not budge. Even without explanation, it was clear that she was the guard of Chandrasekhar.

With one quick glance at her, Tatsuya could not determine who she was. But, Chandrasekhar herself revealed her identity.

Interrupting her sitting halfway, Chandrasekhar turned back. But Tatsuya and Miyuki did not sit down, politely waiting for the elders to sit down first.

“Her name is…“

Having said this, she returned her gaze to Tatsuya.

“Arya Krishna Shastri. She is my bodyguard and an unannounced strategic class magician. Just recently she learned “Agni Downburst” in March of this year.

Miyuki widened her eyes and held her breath.

“My name is Shiba Tatsuya.“

Without raising an eyebrow, Tatsuya introduced himself to Arya and bowed slightly.

Arya silently bowed to Tatsuya with the same light bow.

Grinning, Chandrasekhar sat on the sofa.

Following her, Tatsuya and Miyuki sat on the opposite sofa. Katsushige sat on a side chair, and Kotona stood behind him.

The conversation between Tatsuya and Chandrasekhar began.

◊ ◊ ◊

Behind Maya stood waiting for Khayam’s orders, and there was not a single ally behind Lina. For her, it was as if she alone and without help on the battlefield.

In addition, her opponent was a sorceress, known under the pseudonyms “Demon Lady of the Far East” and “Queen of the Night.” But Lina was also one of the strongest in the world, being a magician of the Strategic class. However, Maya was rumored to be a user of magic that “surpassed the magic of the Strategic Class in a one-on-one battle” and from which “it is impossible to defend oneself.” Now Lina already understood that Maya was not her enemy, but in this situation she simply could not help being nervous.

“Are you already used to living in Japan?” Now you are in a position slightly different from last winter, aren’t you?

Maya who spoke to her first made a friendly face.

– Everything is fine. Miyuki and Tatsuya treat me well.

Encouraging herself with the thoughts “don’t be afraid” and “do not be too alert”, Lina answered with a smile on her face.

“I am very grateful that you undertook to accompany Miyuki-san.”

– I am also very grateful that you helped me with shelter.

– I see…

From somewhere, Hayama took out a cup and a glass of tea, and set them on a low table. A cup is in front of Maya, and a glass of iced tea is in front of Lina.

– Chilled black tea will suit you?

– Yes thank you.

Lina immediately sucked on a straw. Without any secret intent. She just wanted to drink from intense stress.

In fact, ordinary black tea was not on Lina’s list of preferred drinks, but she could calmly drink iced tea prepared by Hayama without milk or syrup. Not because he was not bitter, but because now she did not care. In such conditions, on the contrary, it seemed even tasty.

And from a tasty drink, the tension subsided a little, and she relaxed.

Of course, this was Maya’s psychological device.

“I want you to continue to accompany Miyuki-san for as long as possible, but…”

Hearing the words of Maya, Lina did not sprinkle tea, but, on the contrary, swallowed.

Fortunately, tea did not enter the respiratory tract, so she did not start coughing. However, she needed to catch her breath before she could give an answer.

“I wonder what Shields-san is going to do in the future?” Will return to America? Or will he stay in Japan?

Suddenly, they made such a difficult choice. But despite the fact that for the first time someone had been pushing the question like that, this topic had long bothered her herself.

“… Last February, Tatsuya said that he would help me if I wanted to leave the Stars.”

Maya showed surprise by widening her eyes slightly. Partly she was pretending, but partly it was also a real surprise. Before this conversation, she had not heard about it.

– At that time, I replied that “I do not think I want to leave the Stars.” But now…

“You wanted to leave them?”

– I dont know. More precisely, I am confused and cannot make a decision.

As if in order to gather her thoughts, Lina lowered her eyes to her hands lying on her lap.

“I did not hate the States.” Even now, I still have patriotic feelings towards America. But does my homeland need me…

Lina remembered the day when she had to escape from the headquarters of the Stars, and her voice trembled.

– Such issues are not so easily resolved. You don’t have to rush to make a final decision.

Maya comforted Lina with a (outwardly) kind, love-filled face.

-…Thank you very much.

– If in the future Shields-san wants to naturalize in Japan, then I will quickly organize everything. Shields-san, would anyone mind you becoming a foster child in Japan?

– No… I almost never met my parents since joining the army.

“And you didn’t talk on the phone?”

– They didn’t communicate either by telephone or letters.

Lina was also a little unlucky with her family. As if considering her too high magical characteristics as something sinister, her relatives, both close and distant, preferred to stay at a distance from her even before she was taken into the army. And her too beautiful appearance also became one of the reasons that family ties were only decreasing.

But despite all this, when she was 10 years old, the army noticed her. Almost immediately after this, the army took her away, and from that moment on, her parents almost did not come to meet with her, which was a rather insensitive behavior for her parents. Although, perhaps, the army and the government had a hand in this without the knowledge of Lina.

… For example, for the reason that it was part of a policy of concealing the identity of a magician of the Strategic Class officially recognized by the state.

– That’s it… Sorry to touch on a sore subject.

Hearing Lina’s revelation, Maya suggested how difficult her relationship with her parents was. Therefore, her voice was filled with sympathy.

– Nothing. On this issue, everything is finally decided. Therefore, no one will oppose my adoption.

– Okay. As I said, you can contact us about this at any time.

– Good.

Lina bowed to Maya, not getting up from the couch.

◊ ◊ ◊

“Mr., what do you think of the current situation of magicians?” – Asked Chandrasekhar from Tatsuya.

In their conversation, such appearances were established: Tatsuya – “Mr.”, Miyuki – “Miss”, and Chandrasekhar – “Doctor”.

– More specifically, I mean the means of control of magicians by the government of each individual country.

Tatsuya thought for a moment and answered:

– If you look from the point of view of the government, do not these funds work as they should?

Precisely “as they should.” However, with the reservation that it is “from the point of view of the government.”

Chandrasekhar correctly understood Tatsuya’s train of thought.

– Okay. But the government of any country, even such as the NSU and the VAA, will always consider that control of the magicians is not enough.

– Probably.

Tatsuya agreed with the words of Chandrasekhar, nodding slightly.

“And from the point of view of magicians, this is something completely unacceptable.”

-…

Tatsuya refrained from commenting this time.

This did not bother Dr. Chandrasekhar, and she continued to develop her theory.

– In modern society, the human rights and freedoms of magicians are neglected. Even basic human rights, which must be sacred and inviolable even in a democratic society, are not recognized as magicians. Or they are easily limited and violated. The use of magicians for military purposes is the sphere of their application, which most clearly reflects this situation. For example, in countries where the call for military service as a whole has been canceled, for magicians conscription remains. Compared to non-magicians, magicians are treated with clear discrimination.

Tatsuya was surprised to hear the fiery speech of Chandrasekhar.

After all, she was a scientist who developed not only the “Impulse of God Agni”, but also many other magic for military use, which made magicians useful for the government. Chandrasekhar herself is also a magician, but her magical power is so weak that she is unsuitable as a combat unit. That is, she is not one of the magicians used by the government, but, on the contrary, she is a person from that same government that uses magicians. At least before that, everything was just that.

“On the other hand, citizens who are not magicians insist that magicians are“ dangerous creatures ”that have the power to kill ordinary people even without weapons, and therefore their freedom must be further limited.

“But only a small part of the anti-magicians behave this way, right?” – Involuntarily interrupted her Miyuki. Tatsuya was still silent.

Chandrasekhar’s face faded. Moreover, it seemed that on her face reflected not only despondency, but also suppressed anger.

– In Germany and France, on the initiative of the government, collars are being developed to neutralize the wearer with electroshock if signs of activation of magic are noticed. At the end of the development, a law is likely to be passed requiring all magicians to wear these collars. Many European countries, with the exception of Britain, will follow this example, and ultimately, this idea will spread throughout the world.

– Can not be! Is this not treatment like livestock !?

In a voice that almost turned to a cry, Miyuki was simultaneously angry and trembling.

– Right. Not even slaves, but cattle. But this idea continues to spread not only among radical anti-magicians, but already among ordinary citizens.

Chandrasekhar did not even try to console Miyuki.

“You can’t let them do something like that!”

“Yes, miss, you are absolutely right.” I think exactly the same…. In the past, I tried to provide magicians with a status in society, making them an indispensable fighting force for the state. But now I have changed my mind.

– Do you have any specific plan? – Asked Tatsuya from Chandrasekhar in a restrained tone.

“I believe that magicians have already reached the stage where they must independently defend their rights.” And it is necessary to unite no longer within the borders of their countries, but without regard to state borders.

“Doctor, you’re not one of those who consider magicians to be the ultimate race?”

– No. My opinion was formed solely as a result of the emotional rejection of the doctrine of the anti-magic movement. My intentions are not in enmity with citizens who are not magicians, but in organizing a moderate movement that protects the rights of magicians in a peaceful coexistence.

– Coexistence [併存]? Not coexistence [共存]?

[The difference is in the first character, as you see. In general, the Japanese have a dozen different words for the word “coexistence,” and all dictionaries simply write “coexistence” without giving any explanation. For the Japanese themselves, apparently, there are differences. I suppose that the first word means approximately “existence together, but contrary to something,” and the second simply means “existence together.”]

– Fear of civilian magicians has risen to such a level that it already causes mass hysteria among the people. Germany and France are good examples of this. And although I don’t want to say this, it’s the “Scorched Halloween” that happened two years ago that caused the current world situation. That was your Strategic class magic, mister.

Tatsuya did not deny the words of Chandrasekhar with any phrase, like “it was not me.”

– Very few people can maintain sound judgment, believing that the possibility of falling under a nuclear strike can be caused not by a government decision, but by the whim of just one person. Of course, I am sure that Mr. is not such an unreasonable person. However, there are many people who think otherwise. They not only do not want to know the character of Mr., they do not even want to know what he looks like. Not wanting to know either his origin or his name, they are simply afraid of Mr as a magician with catastrophic destructive power and as the personification of death itself and destruction.

There was no doubt that Chandrasekhar had some undeniable evidence that Tatsuya was a magician of the strategic class. Even if she did not know about the “Explosion of Matter”, but she clearly had some information about the use of magic, superior in power to strategic nuclear weapons. There was no longer any sense in interrupting her and stubbornly denying everything.

– And in such a situation it is difficult to hope for reasonable decisions. Therefore, you need to temporarily place magicians and non-magicians at a distance from each other.

“But there are not so many magicians.” magicians themselves will not be able to maintain modern social standards at the required level.

– magicians, that is, those who are able to use magic at a practical level, only 0.01% of the adult population. But those who have at least a slight compatibility with magic are 10 times more. If you look at these 0.1% of the world’s population in real numbers, you get a very small number. After the Third World population, the world population fell to three billion, but according to estimates for the last year, it has already exceeded five billion. It will be difficult to collect all people suitable for magic, but even if you collect only one hundredth of them, you will get 50,000 people.

“Even if you succeed in gathering people suitable for magic all over the world, it will be impossible to gather 50,000 people in one place.”

– An organization with 50,000 members and some economic power will have a voice that can influence the governments of different countries. The plant with Mr. Star’s Reactor is capable of serving as such an economic basis.

Now the purpose of Chandrasekhar was clear. She flew to distant Japan because she wanted to use the Tatsuya Star Reactor plant in the fight for the human rights of magicians and magic-fit people.

However, Tatsuya did not cause hostility. After all, his ESCAPES project – a project of a plant with a Star Reactor – was aimed precisely at freeing magicians from the fate of being weapons, making them economically important and irreplaceable engineers and manufacturers. In fact, the intentions of Chandrasekhar and Tatsuya coincided.

– What exactly do you want to do? Transform the International Magic Association into a magician human rights organization?

Chandrasekhar did not answer in the affirmative to Tatsuya’s question, slightly off topic.

– The International Magic Association has a very stable position as the organization needed as a deterrent against the use of nuclear weapons. To fight for the human rights of magicians, it would be better to establish a new NGO. Also, to designate people with aptitude for magic, in addition to words such as “magician,” “engineer of magic” [magic constructor] and “creator of magic”

[magicrafter]

, you need to enter some broader definition. For example, what about magian * as opposed to the word “civilian”?

[I didn’t figure out how to translate it. But since the characters speak exactly the English variants of words, then from now on I will also have English to show this “author’s style.”]

– Magian… By the way, magic, have you added the suffix “an”, which carries the meaning of “man”?

– Yes, because the word magician in people is usually associated with the image of some magician-illusionist.

– Okay. “Magian”. I think this is a good name.

“I also think that sounds beautiful.” But if you take this word into use, then what do we do with the word “magician”, which is now in use? It seems to me that people who simply have a suitability for magic and people who can use magic in practice, still need to be distinguished from each other by name.

Tatsuya and Chandrasekhar pondered the question identified by Miyuki.

– The Japanese word “magician” [魔法師] is an abbreviation for “capable of magic” [魔法 技能 師], so I think that you can leave him, but…

“… What about calling the magic constructor the word magist?” In the sense that it is a magian-technologist.

– Technologist… Does this mean a person professionally working in a specialty based on knowledge in his field?

– In this case, it is closer in meaning to the concept of “capable of magic” than to the concept of “person who builds magic” [magic constructor]. For us Japanese magicians, this is an easy-to-learn word.

All three nodded to each other with smiles. At that moment, about the same image of the future appeared in their minds.

Chandrasekhar’s face became serious, and she corrected her posture.

“Not today or tomorrow, of course, but within a few years I will be ready to create an international association of magians.” And you, Mr., I would like to ask for cooperation in the establishment of this association.

“If the situation allows, then I would like to join your association, doctor.”

“Then at the right time, I will contact you again.”

Chandrasekhar and Tatsuya held out each other’s hands.

This time, Tatsuya shook her hand a little harder than when meeting.

◊ ◊ ◊

Even when Chandrasekhar and Arya left the reception room, there was no sign of Lina’s appearance, so Tatsuya and Miyuki decided to return to the director’s former office.

“Ah, Miyuki. Have you finished your conversation?“

“Lina… What are you doing here?

On the table in front of Lina, many sweets were lined up. Maya, sitting opposite her, watched what was happening with a smile.

“I AM…? Yes, I’m trying delicious things.“

“Miyuki-san, do you know that there are a lot of different pleasures on this island? But since there is no longer a prison, now we need to improve this area. To begin with, I invited confectioners here.“

“…“

“I believe that the pleasure of eating is important to maintain morale.” Tatsuya replied in a neutral tone instead of Miyuki’s speechless voice.

Nodding agreement on her face, Maya got up from the couch.

“Miyuki-san, will you try?”

Maya gestured to Miyuki: “Sit here.”

Miyuki looked at Tatsuya, bewildered.

Seeing that he nodded slightly, Miyuki went to the place where Maya was sitting.

At the same time, Maya sat in a luxurious leather chair, standing at a table in the back of the room.

Leaning back and relaxing, Maya looked at Tatsuya.

As if answering this look, Tatsuya stood in front of the table.

“How was the conversation with Dr. Chandrasekhar?“

“It was pretty interesting. Oba-ue, do you know what we were talking about?“

“Of course, she previously told me.“

In other words, Maya has already agreed that Tatsuya will collaborate with Chandrasekhar’s plan.

Now it was possible to get a clearer promise from Maya to take on any obligations. But Tatsuya did not dare to ask for it. Because he did not want to pre-bind himself in the future with any activity entrusted in the form of orders.

“Understood.”

He answered only that.

Maya nodded generously and ordered Hayama to arrange a chair.

Tatsuya himself refrained from finding a place to sit, but he did not need to go anywhere to do this. The office chair on wheels rolled itself to a place in front of the table. It was not as luxurious as that of Maya, but it also looked solid and had leather-covered armrests and a high back.

At the direction of Maya, Tatsuya sat on this chair when it stopped.

“Tatsuya-san, about what happened the day before yesterday. It seems like you defeated Fujibayashi Nagamasa with some new magic?”

Like waiting for Tatsuya to sit comfortably, Maya asked this with interest on her face.

“Yes, I used a new magic to break through Fujibayashi Nagamasa’s magic.”

“I wonder what kind of magic it was?”

This minor correction of Tatsuya did not seem to bother Maya. All her attention was directed to the new magic of Tatsuya.

“In order for the pushion informational body to exist in this world and influence the phenomena in this world, it needs a psionic informational body, which will be an access point for it, a kind of conductor. It is like a support for existence in this world, or, to paraphrase it, it can be called a foundation supporting existence.”

Tatsuya felt the gaze directed at him, not only from the front, but also from behind, and from different sides. In addition to Maya, everyone was attentively listening to Tatsuya’s story: Miyuki, Lina, and even Hayama and Hyougo.

“And Tatsuya-san confirmed this theory?”

“Only indirectly, based on observations. But based on these observations, “Astral Dispersion” gave the expected effect, so we can make an unambiguous conclusion that these conclusions are not erroneous.“

“And this new magic is called Astral Dispersion…? Please continue.”

“When the phenomenon changes, information remains about this. Even reason is no exception to this rule. Even when the phenomenon was caused by reason, if it had an impact on this world, then there will be a record about this in the informational dimension.“

“… Do you mean that pure thoughts and emotions do not directly affect this world, therefore they leave no traces in the informational dimension, and the projections of spiritual bodies and interference in the minds of other people are recorded?”

“At least, the phenomena that can be reproduced by external systemic magic are accurately recorded in this “story”.“

“… Go on.“

“By reading the Eidos, the psionic informational body containing records of phenomena, we magicians recognize the very essence of these phenomena. At the time of using magic, this, although with some differences, is done by all magicians, even those who do not have an ESP like “Eye of Spirits” such as mine.“

“I see… When these “some differences” become absurdly large, then this is reflected in the result. But if we talk only about recognizing the essence of the phenomenon from the Eidos, then Tatsuya-san is right.“

Tatsuya bowed slightly and continued to explain.

“The East Asian continental ancient magic “Sekihei Hatidzin” turned out to be magic, for which the corpses are processed into magical containers containing the Psionic information bodies known as “ghosts”. Using the power of interference in the phenomenon that these “ghosts” possess, Kimon Tonko is supported at fixed points.“

“The power of interfering with the phenomenon… in ghosts?“

“The true form of the force of interference in the phenomenon is pushion waves. I discovered this during a battle with a hostile astral body over at Mount Takao. A “ghost” is, in fact, a pushion informational body, therefore it is possible to extract from it the force of interference in a phenomenon, gradually cutting pieces from it and using them as fuel.“

Lina also listened, so Tatsuya only said “a hostile astral body,” without giving the name Arcturus.

“This is very interesting.“

Maya was only interested in Tatsuya’s new discovery, and showed no interest in the enemy’s personality.

“It seems that Tatsuya-san has made many important discoveries related to magic and reason over the past few days.”

“Yes. Thank you.”

In response to Maya’s praise, Tatsuya made an even more courteous bow than the last time.

“Fujibayashi Nagamasa released these “ghosts” from their containers, and used them as a means of attack against me. After searching on the basis of information about the modification of the phenomenon caused by the external systemic magic used by him for this purpose, I discovered a psionic informational body that serves as a supporting basis for “ghosts”. After reading its structure, and expanding it, I made the existence of these “ghosts” (pushion information bodies) impossible in our world. This is Astral Dispersion.“

“That is… it’s magic that separates spiritual bodies from our world?”

“Yes.“

“So this magic doesn’t destroy the spiritual body itself, but destroys the “foundation” through which the spiritual body exists in our world and intervenes in it?”

“That’s correct.”

“Madam. “Impossible to exist in our world” from the point of view of our world is like death.“

At that moment, Hayama intervened in the conversation.

“If spiritual bodies separated from our world could come back, then our world would be filled with ghosts. I suppose Tatsuya-sama’s new magic can be called magic that kills spiritual bodies.“

“Kills ghosts. This is something revolutionary… Tatsuya-san. I don’t want to rush too much, but could you describe the new magic in a detailed report? Your discovery and invention will be an important asset of the Yotsuba family.”

The Yotsuba family is not only a clan of combat magicians, but also a clan of magic researchers. Seek and explore the possibilities of magic. And as a result, answer the question “what is the mind/soul?”. That was the purpose of this clan, which the other Master Clans did not know about.

“As you command.”

Tatsuya had a different goal, but he was also a researcher of magic. He did not mind leaving his magic in a document for magic research.

◊ ◊ ◊

11 a.m. The plane with Kazama, his subordinates, and also the soon to be freed Australian magicians landed on Iwo Island at the appointed time.

The other side to which the captives will be issued has already arrived.

“Is the ship not Australian? Is that… Royal Navy aircraft carrier, Gibraltar?”

With suspicion Kazama muttered to himself.

“There can be no mistake, this is Gibraltar from the British Navy.“

Kazama’s question was answered in almost a whisper by the foreman Tateoka, who was appointed temporary assistant to Kazama instead of senior lieutenant Fujibayashi, who had left today for the funeral of Kudou Retsu.

Britain was currently considered a allied country for Japan. The call of the Royal Navy vessel to the Japanese port was not a problem in itself.

“Contact headquarters. Ask if the Royal Navy is the other side to which the captives must be released.“

If they are the ones who need to surrender magicians captured as saboteurs, then this is another conversation. The escorted agents are Australians by nationality. Kazama did not hear that Britain would come to pick them up.

The answer from the headquarters of the 1-0-1 brigade came quickly.

“The answer is from the brigade headquarters. They say there is no mistake, pass them on.“

“Australia asked Britain to mediate the extradition…?“

This time, Kazama really spoke to himself. He was so bewildered that he unconsciously said his thoughts aloud.

Although the number of countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations has significantly decreased, but formally it still existed. Australia remained a member of the Commonwealth, and was in close allied relations with Britain. According to one popular theory, Australian army units are trained and formed with the help of secret knowledge obtained from Britain.

But even if this is true, then the arrival of the British Navy in order to pick up the agents of the Australian army, can not be considered an ordinary event. Despite membership in the Commonwealth and allied relations, Australia is an independent state. And Australia itself is much closer to Japan than Britain. Kazama could not think of a single reason why Australia would ask Britain to take the captured agents.

“Or does Australia have no part in this at all, and is… the business of Britain itself?”

He had a vague feeling that what he really had to give was the letter entrusted to him, not the captured agents. Kazama thought about this, remembering the envelope in his inner pocket.

Kazama’s confusion intensified at the time when he came face to face with the representative of the British side who arrived to pick up the prisoners. There was no room for misunderstanding in Saeki’s order. Give her letter to the representative of the host captive. Nevertheless, the doubt didn’t disappear from his head as to whether or not to give this person a letter, in which, probably, some important military information was written.

The British representative turned out to be William McLeod, officially recognized as their country’s Strategic class magician.

“What is one of the Thirteen Apostles doing here…?”

Not only Kazama, but anyone in his place would now think exactly the same. However, this was not a completely impossible development of events. Jasmine Williams, one of the released prisoners, was a user of the Ozone Circle, although in terms of scale her magic did not reach the Strategic class. And the one who developed this magic was none other than William McLeod.

Also, through interrogation, it was found that Jasmine is the so-called “improved magician”, that is, her genetic code was modified. It is highly likely that Britain provided the improvement technology. Australia’s science and engineering industries were not backward, but since the Third World War, a policy of actual isolation was chosen as a protective measure, which caused stagnation of the development of magic-related technologies that can be used for military purposes.

Therefore, even before coming here there were already speculations that there might be some kind of connection between William McLeod and Jasmine Williams. However, it was hard to believe that such an important person as one of the “Thirteen Apostles” would appear at the military base of another country with such minimal escort.

Yes, McLeod arrived, accompanied by an entire aircraft carrier. More precisely, he arrived on an aircraft carrier. But based on the name “aircraft carrier”, it is only a mobile air base with airplanes. An aircraft carrier moored in the port does not possess any military strength. The ship itself has no means of attack, and airborne fighters will be shot down before takeoff.

McLeod himself, as a magician of the Strategic class, although it has tremendous combat power, but his magic is the Ozone Circle. It turns oxygen in the specified area into ozone gas. If he uses the Ozone Circle in the current situation, this will affect his allies too.

Is there really something so valuable in Saeki’s letter that Britain is prepared to take the risk of “losing the Strategic Class magician” if something happens…? Struggling to break the seal and look at the letter, Kazama first handed over the captives to McLeod, after which he handed him the envelope entrusted to him by Saeki.

McLeod immediately, on the spot, without much enthusiasm opened the letter (he didn’t tear it off, but cut off the seal with a paper knife taken from his assistant), and while standing, he read the message written to him.

“Okay.” – said McLeod and handed the envelope and letter to Kazama.

“… Are you sure I can read this?”

“Yes. In order for us to have no misunderstanding.“

Kazama ordered his subordinates to move away. In response, McLeod ordered his guard and assistant to leave the premises altogether. Surprised by such a reaction, Kazama also ordered his subordinates to leave the room. When they stayed in the room only together, Kazama invited McLeod to sit on the sofa, after which he also sat down and unfolded the folded letter.

The English text, written by Saeki’s familiar handwriting, was not so long.

McLeod spoke after Kazama finished reading and looked up.

“Sending the NSU fleet south across the Sea of ​​Japan was an unexpected military decision for me.“

His first phrase at first glance seemed unrelated to the contents of the letter.

“I collaborated with the Dion Project to prevent the possibility of a Matter to Energy Explosion targeting the United Kingdom. I don’t need anything else. I was not going to take away the freedom and future of promising young people.“

From the context it was clear that by “promising youth,” McLeod means Tatsuya.

“I also evaluate his project of the Star Reactor plant as extremely significant. Attempts to prevent him may result in significant missed opportunities for a civilized society. Moreover, for us magicians, this can lead to negative consequences.“

From such an unexpectedly high assessment of McLeod, Kazama could not find the right words even to maintain a conversation.

“Assessment of the Star Reactor plant is nothing more than my personal impressions. However, regarding the dispatch of the NSU fleet south, I have the opposite opinion. Yes, I had a secret connection with Dr. Bezobrazov through the Dion Project, but a military invasion of Japan is unacceptable, even if it was only a simulation.“

“… Do you speak on behalf of the United Kingdom?“

“Yes. And from the Kingdom, and from the Commonwealth too.“

In response to a question from Kazama, McLeod openly admitted that the royal family’s intentions were behind his actions.

“As I said earlier, if we get guarantees that the Explosion of Matter will not be sent to the United Kingdom, then we will have no reason for enmity.“

Kazama remembered the sentence written in the letter he had just read.

Saeki invited McLeod to work together to implement the “Strategic Class magician Control Agreement.”

According to her draft of such an agreement, the revealed magicians of the Strategic class must be registered with the International Magic Association, and their country must take responsibility for controlling them.

By control obligations here is meant taking responsibility for their actions. However, they will not take responsibility for the consequences caused by the used magic of the Strategic class (especially the Explosion of Matter). If so, it will keep the magicians of the Strategic class in such a position that they will not be able to freely use magic.

Even if this agreement is concluded and enters into force in the form that Saeki intended, then for those magicians who have political power and privileges, or are representatives of the government or the leader of their country (such as McLeod, Bezobrazov, the magicians of the Strategic class of the USNA Eliot Miller and Roland Bart, Leonid Kondratenko from the NSU) – nothing will change for them. But for magicians like Carla Schmidt, who are far from politics, a catastrophic restriction of freedom is inevitable.

“… No, everything is Okay. The true goal is Tatsuya.”

Kazama quickly realized that the goal of his boss was to take Tatsuya from the Yotsuba family and make him her subordinate. Anyone in his place would also have come to that conclusion.

“Her Excellency will not be satisfied with the separation of Tatsuya from the Yotsuba family. She is going to take all freedom from Tatsuya.”

Saeki is a scorched military man. For her, national interests are always in the first place.

“This magic is too strong to respect personal rights.”

If we take as a basis only the logic of the military, then Kazama thought the same way. He had to admit this and that bitter feeling of hostility that came from the depths of his heart. He had this acute hostility towards himself, who had allowed such a train of thought.

“It will take some time, but I will do my best to have a conference to discuss the draft agreement.”

In the letter, Saeki asked McLeod to engage his personal as well as British international influence.

“Pass it on to Her Excellency Saeki.”

“I understand you.“

Kazama in his position could only bow in gratitude to the promised McLeod to cooperate.

◊ ◊ ◊

1:55 p.m. Five minutes later, the funeral ceremony of the elder of the magical world of Japan, Kudou Retsu, will begin in the large ceremonial hall of the city of Nara. The preparation was already completed, and all members of the family of the deceased were already seated in their places. Guest places were already almost all occupied.

A noise was heard from the entrance to the hall. The participants thought that the monk had arrived earlier than scheduled, and turned around… and so froze in that position.

Three people entered the room. They came literally in the last minutes, but the uproar was not accusatory voices. It was only senseless sighs of admiration that rang out from different angles.

These were two women and one man. Both women were incomparable beauties. That lady, who was older, looked a maximum of 30 years. Those who immediately recognized her also knew her real age, and knew that she looked 15 years younger than her age. She shone with her charm and splendor.

The younger one was in her late teens and looked exactly her age. Although she could be called a girl by age, the attractiveness of an adult woman has already begun to manifest in her. Surrounding people tried to find words in their thoughts to describe its beauty. But could not find anything suitable. Elegance, grace, neatness, purity, splendor, extraterrestrial charm. None of them have come to terms with themselves. As a result, they were able to express their thoughts about her only as “she is beautiful.”

Behind these two was a young man… or even a teenager. Compared to these women and girls, he looked completely ordinary. At least in it there was no “highlight” that would attract attention. Nevertheless, his existence was not lost against the background of the charm of a woman and the beauty of a girl. And the people around did not see anything unnatural in this.

These three sat down in their seats. Thus, the spell that riveted the eyes of those around them was dispelled. Sighs turned into whispers.

-… Who is this beautiful girl? Is she really a living person…?

“… Don’t you know?” This is Shiba Miyuki-jo from the First School of Magic.

-… And the guy with her is Shiba Tatsuya. There can be no mistake.

-… The same Taurus Silver?

-… Yeah. So that lady with them is the mistress of the Yotsuba family…?

– What about?… And the truth. This is Yotsuba Maya-dono in person.

“So that she appears in such a crowded place… How many years ago was this the last time?”

Gossip continued until the host announced the entry of the monk responsible for the ceremony.

Four hours later, the monk left and the host announced the closing ceremony. There were a great many visitors who came to burn incense alone. Two weeks have passed since the death, so the funeral ceremony was different from the usual. The coffin was taken out in the presence of only the closest relatives, and the organization of the commemoration after the ceremony was undertaken by the family of Makoto’s wife, whose surname is Fujibayashi *. Incidentally, the Kyouko family with the surname Fujibayashi and the family of Makoto’s wife with the surname Fujibayashi * are very distant relatives. They have no direct relatives, even if tracked by the family tree at least until the last century.

[In fact, these two surnames are pronounced the same, but are spelled differently. For the Kyouko family, “fuji” is a word meaning a wisteria flower, and for Makoto’s wife, “fuji” is written in the same way as for Mount Fuji. I’ll write a “new” surname with an asterisk to distinguish it from the usual one.]

However, as could be seen at today’s funeral, the Fujibayashi * family clearly shied away from the Fujibayashi family. When the Fujibayashi family offered any help, they politely refused. Perhaps the circumstances surrounding the birth of Minoru (Minoru’s genetic mother is the younger sister of Makoto, who married a person from the Fujibayashi family), which cannot be disclosed, influenced the relationship between the two families.

If the events of the day before had not happened, then they might have helped today at least at the front desk.

But in the end, the Fujibayashi family had no responsibilities at this event. Fujibayashi Nagamasa, the head of the Fujibayashi family, helped escape to Minoru, the Kudou Retsu killer. Therefore, today everyone tried to completely avoid contact with representatives of this family.

Senior Lieutenant Fujibayashi Kyouko stood in full prostration in the corner of the hall used for the funeral dinner.

She had no errands.

She could not occupy herself with anything.

The heart was hurt harder than expected.

She felt the same pain yesterday, when she could not apologize.

… So Kyouko thought.

-… And yet, it’s good that we managed.

– Really. I was also a little worried.

– Actually, I did not plan to talk for so long. But Tatsuya-san’s story was very interesting.

-… Guilty.

Perhaps the reason for this was her psychological state.

– Sorry!

Kyouko unwittingly intervened in the conversation between the aunt, nephew, and niece.

– Ara? This is the daughter of the Fujibayashi family, isn’t she?

Yotsuba Maya responded with a smile to such an unbridled call * Kyouko.

[In the original there is Japanese “ano-oo-o” – the sound that the Japanese make to attract someone’s attention. I know that some translators leave it that way, but I already have many untranslatable Japanese exclamations, for example, all sorts of “ara” or “uh-uh”.]

– Yes, my name is Fujibayashi Kyouko. Thank you so much for your grandfather.

– I studied with Sensei. I would come to say goodbye, even if it was on the other side of the globe.

– Grandpa would be glad to hear that.

After Kyouko answered with a standard phrase, she finally overcame her indecision and asked Maya:

“… Can I take a little of your time?”

– Good.

Kyouko made a slightly surprised face because she did not expect Maya to agree so easily.

– Let’s change the situation. You also don’t like excessive attention?

-…Yes.

There were also various people who were somehow connected with the army and the Magic Association. Also, in addition to the head of the Yotsuba family, the heads of the Ichijou, Futatsugi and Saegusa families also came here. Other Master Clans also sent their representatives on behalf of the heads of families. From the Eighteen Replacement Families, there were either heads of families or their representatives here. Both Kyouko and Maya did not want other people to hear their conversation.

– Hayama-san.

– Yes Milady. – Hayama replied with a respectful tone, who suddenly appeared behind Maya.

Excitement appeared on Kyouko’s face. She could not understand when and where Hayama came from.

– I would like to calmly and without haste talk with this young lady. Can you tell me where we could retire with her?

– I will call a car. Please follow me.

– Good. Fujibayashi-san, it will suit you.

-… Yes, I do not mind.

Kyouko showed a hesitation for a moment, but she didn’t really want to stay here. Therefore, in the end, she agreed with Maya’s proposal.

“Tatsuya-san and Miyuki-san, you can return to Tokyo.”

“As you order.” – Maya Tatsuya answered.

Her word “may” sounded like just permission, but it was actually an order. Maya did not want Tatsuya and Miyuki to attend her conversation with Kyouko. Brother and sister understood this perfectly.

“Tatsuya-sama, Miyuki-sama.”

Hyougo now turned to Tatsuya and Miyuki, and Tatsuya appeared behind him from nowhere.

– Preparation for take-off is completed.

Holding on to Miyakim, they eventually got on two different vertical take-off planes and rushed to the funeral ceremony. One of these aircraft was the one on which Hyougo originally took them from the building in Töfu. That is, Maya had her own plane to return home, so Tatsuya and Miyuki did not need to wait modestly for her.

– I get it. – answered Tatsuya. – Haha-ue. In that case, goodbye.

Realizing that they were heard from all sides, he said goodbye to Maya with the “right” words.

– Both-bye, bye.

– Yes, take care of yourself.

After Maya said these two left.

Hayama’s words about calling a car did not have the standard meaning “rent a car” for this idiom. His words meant that “a personal car will be served.” Maya’s visit to Kudou Retsu’s funeral has been planned for a long time. It was a routine for the Yotsuba family to prepare a suitable vehicle in advance in case the head of the family needed to move somewhere.

Hayama sat in the front passenger seat, after which the driver, who was also a security guard, pulled the control lever. Behind them was followed by a car with four additional guards.

Instead of preparing a separate room, Hayama brought them to a small restaurant that Kyouko liked to visit. Without any particular wariness, Maya sat down at the table. Hayama stood behind Maya, and four guards stood in the corners of the room. Kyouko could not hide her tension from such a picture.

Nevertheless, while standing, she also could not conduct a conversation, and given that it was she who asked for this conversation, it was impolite to continue to stand, suspecting a catch. Kyouko was very nervous about the fact that she would have to turn her back on the fighters of the Yotsuba family, but still sat down at a table in a place opposite Maya.

After which she held her breath and bowed low to Maya.

– First, I would like to apologize. The day before yesterday, my father did something completely unforgivable.

Kyouko froze in that position.

“You mean that Fujibayashi Nagamasa-dono helped Kudou Minoru escape?”

“I’m talking about my father helping kidnap Sakurai Minami-san.” – Without raising her head, Kyouko answered Maya’s question.

– If you are talking about this, then you do not need to apologize. Nagamasa-dono probably had his own reasons for doing so. But as a result, your father was seriously injured and was hospitalized. Therefore, I believe that he has already received a sufficient amount of punishment.

– But…

But shouldn’t a loser suffer? Shouldn’t the criminal take the blame? Kyouko wanted to say that, but…

“Besides, our Minami was eventually taken away through no fault of your father.”

– Uh?

Because of this unexpected statement by Maya, Kyouko completely forgot the words prepared for the answer, after which she unconsciously raised her head.

Maya’s face frowned in frustration.

Kyouko did not expect the head of the Yotsuba family to make such a face, so she completely forgot about the apology, and involuntarily asked:

– What do you…?

Maya did not answer Kyouko’s unsaid question.

“Although your father was unable to prevent Tatsuya, the day before yesterday’s chase ended in failure.” Therefore, you no longer need to torment yourself with guilt.

Maya regained her smile in the blink of an eye and reassured Kyouko in a friendly tone.

The intervention of Yakumo was not noticed by either the army or the police. Neither sensor networks stretched across the streets, nor reconnaissance satellites, nor surveillance devices installed on the stratospheric platform recorded the battle between Yakumo and Tatsuya.

The skills of Yakumo, hiding not only himself, but also the enemy with whom he fought, were far beyond Kyouko’s imagination. Therefore, she did not even suspect that there were some other obstacles besides her father.

Therefore, Kyouko did not understand the meaning of Maya’s words. But when the injured party in the form of Maya says that “you are not to blame”, it will be strange if Kyouko continues to insist that “it is my father’s fault”.

-…Thanks for work.

So Kyouko took Maya’s words.

Finished with an apology, Kyouko did not want to detain Maya anymore. Having gulped down the chilled black tea remaining in the cup, she tried to get up from her seat. Of course, she did not forget to pay the bill.

But before she could say goodbye, Maya called the waiter and ordered some more tea and snacks.

– Fujibayashi Kyouko-san.

Kyouko could not get up when her name was called in a completely different tone than before.

– Yes?

The force seemed to leave her legs, and she again sat on a chair.

– I think such a valuable shot is worthy of a better application than now. – Maya said in a low voice, sitting in a completely relaxed and laid-back pose.

From the voice of Maya, Kyouko realized that she was talking about her.

– What are you speaking about?

But out loud she asked about the meaning of her words.

– Fujibayashi-san. Do not want to leave the army and move to us?

Instead of answering a question, Maya answered with an invitation.

“… You mean… should I become Yotsuba’s magician?”

Kyouko answered in a too formal tone.

– No, this is not coercion. We have no desire to quarrel with the forces of self-defense.

Maya smiled.

This smile was so charming that Kyouko involuntarily fell under her influence.

– Speaking about leaving the army, I do not mean that I demand that you leave there with a scandal. I say that if you yourself want to peacefully resign, we will gladly accept you as an employee in one of our companies, for example, in FLT.

Maya’s suggestion was much smarter than what Kyouko first thought.

Her tension eased slightly.

And in this relaxed mind, as if through the opening of a gap, Maya’s voice crept in.

“Changing the profession to a civilian magician is neither treason, nor a betrayal of the government.” In a suitable environment that allows you to fully reveal your potential, you, on the contrary, will be able to contribute to the development of society, using your abilities to the fullest.

– I… have not yet revealed my full potential?

– I believe that the magic and mind of Fujibayashi-san are able to cover a wider scope. Here… for example, have you ever thought about why you can interfere with magic in electronic information networks?

“… Electrical signals and electron flows are also physical phenomena, so it’s not strange that they can be affected by the magic of the release system, right?”

– Are you talking about exposure to electromagnetic waves or to electric current and voltage? But how can magic recognize the simple motion of electrons as meaningful information?

– It…

“Are you translating electron movements into machine language right in your head, and machine language into human?” And all this right during the use of magic?

-… That would be hard to do.

“But you can use magic to influence electronic information networks.” You can search for the necessary information with a speed and accuracy higher than that of the well-known Echelon III system. And you do this by using not the power of supercomputers for hacking, but only magic and a regular home information terminal. How do you do this?

Fujibayashi could not answer Maya’s question. It was natural for her that she could manage electronic information networks as she wished, but she never wondered why and how she could do something like that.

– Therefore, I believe that you underestimate yourself. You have a talent that can expand the capabilities of the whole world of magic, and you use your abilities only to collect and operate military information.

Maya’s words shocked Kyouko greatly. Initially, she planned to become a researcher of magic. She became a military only because of the death of her fiancé. Kyouko, a former military groom, died in Okinawa – at his very first place of service, where he was appointed immediately after joining the army. Kyouko decided to go to military service just after that.

Now even she herself does not know what kind of mental state prompted her to do this.

But after the words of Maya Kyouko noticed.

That she lacks motivation to continue in military service.

“I can ensure that in the future you freely use magic.”

-…

“Of course, I do not demand an immediate response.”

“… Please let me think a little.”

– Sure. Please take your time. Fujibayashi-san, some more tea?

– No. Sorry, it’s too late. I think I will go.

– Here is how? In this case, I will wait for a positive response.

Until the very end of the conversation, Kyouko did not say a single word that could be mistaken for refusing to invite Maya.

◊ ◊ ◊

Soon after Kyouko left, Maya also left the restaurant. After all, she came there only for a conversation with Kyouko. And since the interlocutor left, there is nothing more to do there. Maya and her escort team got into two cars and drove to the airfield, where their vertical takeoff plane was parked.

– Madam. As far as I know, you had no plans for recruiting Fujibayashi-sama. – Asked Hayama from Maya shortly after the car started. His words were not just a question, but more like a rebuke for an unplanned act.

– But you turned up such a convenient moment.

Maya realized that this was a rebuke, but she was not at all embarrassed.

“With all due respect, but were you serious with your invitation?” – Asked Hayama, slightly surprised.

“Of course, I was serious.”

Hayama sat in front and looked forward, so he could not see that the face of the responding Maya was completely serious. However, in her voice, Hayama still caught some bad intentions.

– It is dangerous to give the enemy the ability to collect and process information from Senior Lieutenant Fujibayashi. Especially recently, when Her Excellency Saeki began various activities.

– Based on a recent conversation, do you expect her to become a researcher of “information networks”?

– Yes, I hope so too. Everything on earth has its own Eidos, and it is located on a platform called the Idea… If you shed light on the principles of the information network connecting the various Eidos within the Idea, this can become an important key to understanding the very essence of magic.

– Totally agree with you.

– This is a rather complicated topic. If you take it seriously, you won’t have time for anything else, right?

– And this is an exclusively secondary goal?

– Right.

Not only Hayama, but anyone would have guessed that the main and secondary goals were mixed up in Maya’s story. Yes, and Maya herself should have understood this.

Therefore, Hayama did not question further. If the mistress is lying deliberately, and if it is beneficial, then the servant should not intervene.

Chapter 3

Today: July 15, 06:00.

The coral ship with Minoru and Minami arrived at the USNA base at Pearl and Hermes Atoll on board.

“It’s Pabled. Why can’t we get off the ship? What does all this mean?“

Minoru addressed Raymond in an apparently accusatory tone.

“Don’t blame me. We can’t go ashore either. They just said, “Until you get out of the ship. Supplies are being replenished.” And that’s it. The reasons were not explained.“

The voice of Raymond responding was kind of frail. It seems that this situation was also unexpected for him.

“What does Lieutenant Spica say?“

First Lieutenant Zoe Spica is a parasite. Minoru could mentally communicate with fellow parasites at any time, simply opening a “communication channel”. So there was no need to ask Raymond standing before him.

“The lieutenant doesn’t know either. She’s confused, or rather annoyed.“

Raymond did not point this out to him, but simply answered. Both Raymond and Minoru seemed to be much more alarmed than could be seen in their faces and behavior.

“The lieutenant requested negotiations with the headquarters of the Stars. According to Lieutenant Spica, if everything goes well, then the situation should improve within a couple of days, a maximum of a week.“

“Weeks? It’s quite a long time… Well, okay. Raymond, did you come to tell me about this so that I don’t start to rage?“

“I don’t think Minoru will do something so stupid. But this is just my opinion. Most of the local soldiers know nothing about you at all…“

“Okay. I will be careful that my behavior is not misunderstood.“

“Yeah… I’m sorry that it turned out so uncomfortable.“

Raymond stepped out and closed the door outside.

With a small gesture, Minoru locked the locked door. There was no gesture recognition system. The handle of the castle was shifted by the simplest magic of movement.

In the cabin, in addition to Minoru, there was also Minami. She did not say a word, but she also heard what Raymond said.

“Sorry. That’s how it all turned out.“

Minoru bowed and apologized to Minami, who had a clearly worried face.

“No.“

Minoru raised his head and saw Minami wave her head slightly.

“After all, this was not the fault of Minoru-sama.” Minami said with a restrained smile.

If she added anything else, Minoru would have taken it as criticism. Therefore, Minami said nothing more.

Minoru understood the significance of this smile by Minami and bit his lip in frustration.

◊ ◊ ◊

Tuesday, July 16, in the morning at the dinner table at the Shiba family’s house.

“The ship with Minami arrived at the base at Pearl & Hermes Atoll.” – Tatsuya informed Miyuki and Lina while listening to the news on TV.

“I see… ” Miyuki answered in a low voice. Time and place coincided with the expected, so there was nothing to be surprised at.

“And what will you do now?”

But Lina seemed to be far from calm. Still, she was worried about Canopus, a prisoner in Midway Prison.

Lina’s tone of voice was as if she wanted to rush Tatsuya. In some other case, Miyuki would likely blame Lina. But Miyuki knew why Lina was so depressed, so she only said “Lina…” in a low, reproaching voice.

Lina realized that her behavior was close to unacceptable.

“… I’m sorry.“ – She immediately apologized to Tatsuya.

“Don’t worry about that.” – Tatsuya answered Lina’s apology. Then he also answered her question: “At the moment, I expect Oba-ue to get in touch about a vehicle that can deliver to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.“

“That’s it…“

“My promise to go to the rescue has not changed. The same goes for Lina’s request.“

Lina embarrassed turned away.

“… Thanks.“ She said in a very quiet voice.

◊ ◊ ◊

The next day, July 17, during the lunch break.

During the afternoon chatter in the dining room, Miyuki suddenly became distracted and with an intrigued face pulled out a mobile terminal from her inner pocket.

In the first half of the century, in the so-called era of the heyday of mobile messenger applications, schoolchildren could not live without constant text communication. But now the picture of schoolchildren constantly chatting anywhere and anytime is a thing of the past. That is why the likelihood that the message arrived was meaningless and useless was very low.

“Miyuki-oneesama?”

However, there are even fewer messages that cause you to freeze from surprise. Suspiciously, Izumi turned to Miyuki, staring at the terminal screen.

Miyuki looked away from the terminal, looked at Izumi, and without any problems regained her natural expression.

“I apologize. Nothing happened.“

“… Listen, have you already decided on your summer vacation plans?”

Sitting with them for Eric’s company, she suddenly changed the subject.

Her energetic cheerful voice seemed to have ordered all friends and kohai “not to get into this business.”

◊ ◊ ◊

Miyuki and Lina also left home early today. This has continued unchanged from last Thursday. The school also insisted that they leave school as early as possible. But specifically today, their early departure was not associated with the fact that “they should not stay late,” but rather with the fact that they “should not be late.”

The message Miyuki received today at the lunch break read “be sure to return home today at 6:00 p.m.” And they sent him from the main house of the Yotsuba family. The message also contained: an order to arrive at a joint dinner at a hotel in downtown Tokyo, a warning to be ready for departure at 18:30, an order to take Lina with him, and a notification that Tatsuya had already been contacted.

“Welcome back.“

Tatsuya, who met them at home, was still in his everyday clothes. Miyuki saw nothing strange in this. It is in women changing clothes usually takes a lot of time. Miyuki and Tatsuya were no exception to this “rule.”

There was still an hour left before the scheduled meeting time.

“I’ll go get ready.” Miyuki told Tatsuya who met them at the entrance. “Lina, you hurry too.”

“Hey, wait a minute! I don’t have a dress and all that!“

“No problem, I’ll lend you one of mine. Our size is about the same.“

More precisely, Lina was 1 centimeter higher, and Miyuki had a slightly larger chest circumference. But these differences were easily leveled by heels and loose sleaves.

“Oh, that’s right! I understand!“

Lina was more concerned about the design problem, not the size, but she realized that it was no use trying to resist.

She humbly followed Miyuki.

Miyuki and Lina helped each other change and left Miyuki’s room at 18:25.

“Both of you are very fit.”

Dressed in a regular, not too strict black suit, Tatsuya gave a compliment to two girls.

“Thank you very much. Among my dresses there are not so many that suit Lina’s “color”… Or did I go a little too far with openness?“

Blushing a little, Miyuki gracefully swirled in place.

“No, nothing like that. I think it was a good choice, suitable for both black-haired Miyuki and blonde Lina.“

Miyuki and Lina chose short black dresses.

True, they were a little different in design. The hem of Lina’s dress was a little shorter, but Miyuki had a slightly deeper neckline.

But against the background of the beauty of these two, these differences were not noticeable. In the most modest words, it was a pair of incomparable beauties.

Miyuki smiled broadly, and Lina blushed slightly and shyly looked away from Tatsuya.

(Cover Illustration)

At that moment the doorbell rang.

The hands of the analog wall clock showed 6:29.

The large sedan, driven by Hyougo, drove Tatsuya, Miyuki and Lina to an underground car park in a mid-rise building in the city center. Both Tatsuya, Miyuki, and Lina looked like themselves, since Maya received an indication that “no camouflage is needed.”

Which, in fact, was confirmed when they got out of the car – there were no signs of media employees within sight. As Hyougo explained, the parking lot was designed so that the entrance gates would not open without a special invitation, in which the electronic key is integrated. In other words, the venue for today’s meeting was a club with a closed membership, which is not allowed outsiders.

Hyougo presented an invitation at the reception. The clerk, a middle-aged man in a three-piece suit, stepped out from the counter and led Tatsuya and the others into a separate room.

At first glance, this room might have seemed to have a window leading out, but it turned out to be a large high-resolution display that displayed a view of the city. Judging by the air circulation, air conditioning worked in the room. It seems that an entire air conditioning system was built in over the ceiling. Apparently, this room was completely isolated from the rest of the building.

They waited less than five minutes. The clerk brought Hayama, as well as two people of European appearance – an elderly man and a woman in a business suit. The woman also had Japanese facial features, so maybe she was of Japanese descent.

Before Hayama had time to introduce an elderly man, Lina broke out “A!” From her face one could understand that this person is quite famous in the USNA.

“Tatsuya-sama, Miyuki-sama.” – Hayama turned to Tatsuya and Miyuki, calling their names not in the usual, but in the reverse order.

“This gentleman is the USNA Senator from Virginia, His Excellency Wyatt Curtis.”

“My name is Wyatt Curtis.“

Curtis did not wait until Hayama introduced Tatsuya and Miyuki, took a step forward and extended his hand to Tatsuya.

“My name is Shiba Tatsuya. Pleased to meet you.”

Without waiting for the reaction of Hayama or Miyuki, Tatsuya shook his hand extended to him.

“And this is my bride, Shiba Miyuki.”

“My name is Shiba Miyuki. I am honored to meet you.“

“Mutually.“ – Curtis answered the bowed Miyuki and also bowed back. Judging by the greeting, his Japanese was pretty good, and he seemed to have some respect for the Japanese rules of conduct.

“Your Excellency Senator, my name is Angelina Kudou Shields. I am honored to meet you.“

“Major Angie Sirius from the Stars, then? Wyatt Curtis. Pleased to meet you.“

However, he answered Lina, even in English, but somehow arrogantly and arrogantly.

Lina was not surprised that he guessed her personality. And the secret of how he knew this, Curtis himself told, after they all sat down.

“I’m – uh… the younger brother of Major Benjamin Canopus’s grandmother from Stars. His real name is Loews. In Japanese it would be grandmother’s brother?”

He spoke the last sentence in a low voice to a woman of European appearance standing behind him.

She leaned over and whispered in his ear.

“Exactly, I’m his “cousin grandfather.““

“Sorry, senator.“

Lina turned to Curtis in Japanese.

“What?“

This time, Curtis also answered in Japanese.

“With all due respect, but if you are just a relative of Ben… Major Canopus, then you should not know that I am Sirius. So rumors that you have close ties in Langley – is that true?“

Mentioned by Lina, “Langley” is the popular name of the Central Intelligence Agency of the USNA. In the first half of the century, the CIA lost a significant part of its influence, however, during the Third World War, it again became the strongest intelligence organization in America.

“Hm… And you’re a pretty straightforward person, Major. This is usually considered a good character trait, but in some cases it can be harmful.“

Lina shuddered all over.

“I’m sorry if I offended you, senator.”

“No, nothing like that.” – Curtis said and looked from Lina to Tatsuya.

“As the major said, I have some influence in the CIA.”

“I already understood that your excellency has more opportunities than the senator.”

Curtis smiled contented as he heard Tatsuya answer.

“In that case, I think you will believe what I tell you now.” – He said as an introduction, after which he continued: “Shiba-dono. I can provide you with a convenient means to reach the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. In other words, a ship.”

Miyuki and Lina simultaneously rounded their eyes and covered their mouth with a hand.

“This is a rather generous offer.”

In contrast to them, Tatsuya answered in a dry tone and with an indifferent face. His attitude seemed to say: “this is what I expected.”

“Your Excellency. If it does not bother you, could you tell me what are your goals and motives?“

“I would like to ask for the release of Benjamin Loews, the Midway prison inmate. Organize an escape, to be more precise. Shiba-dono, if you fulfill this request, then I am ready to take on the settlement of the consequences of all that you have done in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.”

“Such conditions seem somehow too convenient for me…”

Having said this in a doubtful voice, Tatsuya showed Curtis that he wanted an explanation. By the way, he used the universal pronoun “I” [watashi] instead of the formal “I” [jibun], firstly, taking into account the fact that Curtis had little experience in Japanese. But it was also a reflection of the fact that the psychological distance between him and the forces of self-defense was gradually increasing.

“Do you think so?”

Tatsuya expressed his true feelings out loud, but Senator Curtis seemed to have a different opinion.

“Although I said that I will organize a ship that will deliver to the place, but our ship will not be able to participate in the attack against the military facility of our country.”

“By itself.”

“Of course, I promise full support in terms of supplies… However, I completely leave the capture of Midway Prison and Pearl & Hermes Base to you, Shiba-dono, and to people from the Yotsuba family.”

These words of Curtis confused Tatsuya. He spoke as if it was natural that the Yotsuba family would support Tatsuya. Yes, formally Tatsuya was made the son of the head of the Yotsuba family. If you know only superficial facts, then it will naturally be thought that the Yotsuba family will send reinforcements for him.

But Wyatt Curtis, in his own words and in the words of Lina, is a politician who has a strong influence on the external intelligence of the United States Army. Does he really not know that until recently, Tatsuya was treated coolly within the Yotsuba family?

“In a sense, I take all the risks of starting a war with the States.”

But now you should focus all your attention on this conversation. Hearing the continuation of Curtis’s words, Tatsuya sent to the far corner of consciousness all doubts arising in his head.

“The most responsible part is assigned to you, so it will be natural for me to undertake the preparation and elimination of the consequences.”

“I understood your train of thought, Excellency. But why do you need to go this far and arrange for Major Canopus to escape from prison? I heard from Miss Shields that Midway Prison is a place where nothing threatens prisoners. If this is the case, then instead of escaping from prison, which in the future may leave a stain on the reputation, would it not be better to strive for release by political means, although it will take more time?”

“Midway Prison is really a place where no one is harmed by the prisoners. On the contrary, we can say that the health of prisoners there is monitored at a level not comparable to regular prisons. What you said, Shiba-dono, is the logical and wise choice.”

“Do you mean that it is not a matter of logic?”

Curtis smiled broadly at Tatsuya’s comment.

“Exactly. You are pretty understanding for your young age. This is not a matter of logic. There is a problem in honor. You might think that this is some kind of nonsense, but when a tarnished honor silences you – this is tantamount to political defeat. Sending a relative to prison in itself is already a humiliation. And if at the same time the convict is also not guilty, then this is already like an insulting provocation, as if saying “we are not afraid of you.” Politicians should not ignore insults. Must not be allowed to look down upon oneself.”

“Does this mean that in connection with your political life, do you need Major Canopus to be released as soon as possible, and not in such a way, when he was sent to the prison itself?”

Hearing Tatsuya’s remark in the top ten, Curtis whispered, “Excellent!” [Excellent!].

“That’s right. As a politician, I cannot wait to be released at the end of the sentence. But this is not the only reason.”

Curtis paused and held out his hand to the glass on the table. But not because it was difficult for him to continue talking, but simply because he wanted to drink.

“Currently, the military circles of my country are contaminated with parasites.”

It seemed that Curtis’s voice became more serious.

“The distribution that began with the Stars… the reproduction of parasites has stopped so far, but their influence continues to grow day after day.“

Tatsuya was not surprised. Without the significant presence of the Parasites, an attack on Miyakijima and Minoru would not have helped with the escape from the country.

“The states are a democratic state. Both the army and the government are doing everything for the people. All evil spirits should not monopolize their places there. You can’t let them host there. It needs to be stopped.”

“Good. I understood you.”

Curtis talked in a fervent manner typical of the old people, to which Tatsuya answered him with a soothing tone of agreement.

“In addition to rescuing Major Canopus, you also want to destroy the Parasites who helped with the escape of Kudou Minoru.”

“Can you do it?” – Curtis asked hopefully.

“I think this will inevitably happen in the course of achieving my goal.”

Such an answer by Tatsuya did not mean any boasting of force. He just expressed his indirect consent.

“If we both achieve the results we want, then I would like to ask for a good relationship in the future.”

At first, Curtis said somehow vaguely,

“If this case ends as we both wish, then I promise that my faction will side with the Shiba-dono bride when she becomes the head of the Yotsuba family.”

But immediately after that he announced specific conditions.

Tatsuya could not help but be surprised at this proposal. This meant that the USNA Senator, and a powerful politician with a strong influence on the CIA, would become the patron of Miyuki.

“… Hayama-san.”

Tatsuya wanted to ask Hayama if Maya agreed to this.

“Madam in the know.”

But Hayama was ahead of him, answering earlier.

“… Your Excellency. I am ready to take on the task of saving Major Canopus.”

Tatsuya said in plain text, without introducing any ambiguity.

It also meant a complete rejection of the option “not to help Canopus,” but Tatsuya could not answer “no” to a proposal that would strengthen Miyuki’s position.

“Thank you very much.”

Curtis stood up and held out his right hand.

Tatsuya also stood up and shook Curtis’s hand.

“The ship is already prepared. Three days later, the destroyer will approach Miyakijima. I’ll send a detailed schedule later.”

Curtis Tatsuya promised during a handshake.

◊ ◊ ◊

Thursday, July 18th.

Upon arrival at the service, Kazama was first called into the office of the brigade commander.

“Lieutenant Colonel, do you know the USS Senator Wyatt Curtis?”

Having received such a question immediately after the greeting, Kazama thought for a few seconds.

“As far as I know, this is an influential politician, consisting of a conservative faction of hawks, who, according to rumors, is the “backroom director of the CIA.” And what’s up with that Senator Curtis?”

“Yesterday he visited Japan on an unofficial visit.”

“Unofficial? Did he come to discuss how to respond to the actions of the NSU?”

Kazama’s proposed course of events was also quite possible, but Saeki did not take it seriously. She continued to speak, ignoring Kazama’s words.

“It seems that the intelligence department was not able to track all the activities of Senator Curtis, however, presumably, last night he made contact with the Yotsuba family.”

“With Yotsuba?”

“A person allegedly from the immediate circle of the head of the Yotsuba family was spotted talking to a secretary-translator of Senator Curtis.”

“Presumably? That is, it is not confirmed?”

“It seems that some illegal jamming device was used, as it was not possible to take photographs.“

Although she said about the “illegal device,” covert photography is also illegal. The photographs obtained in this way cannot be used in the investigation against foreign political figures.

“However, according to the report of the monitoring agent of the intelligence department, it was almost certainly a certain Hayama Tadanori, close to Yotsuba Maya.”

“That Hayama who runs the servant in the main house of Yotsuba…?” Large figure.

“Just a servant of one of the Ten Master Clans. There is no need to exercise excessive vigilance.”

Saeki cut off in a cold tone. But a small amount of bluff was also visible in her tone.

Hayama at one time secretly helped in the very war that led to the collapse of Dahan and to the fact that Yotsuba was called the “Untouchables.” He could be called a kind of “rear officer” who helped the then head of the Yotsuba Genzou * family by preparing means for penetration and choosing effective targets for attack. Nicknamed the “Silver Fox” and being a skilled strategist, Saeki should not have been so dismissive of this man.

[For some reason, the name Genzou is written with a different symbol “gen”, before all the time it was different (including in the picture of the pedigree from volume 16). Either sealed, or xs…]

But Kazama did not say it out loud. He still had a sense of restraint in relation to a superior officer.

“If at such a time, Senator Curtis made contact with the Yotsuba family…”

Instead, Kazama outlined his findings from the information he had just heard.

“… then maybe he asked the Yotsuba family to destroy the Parasites that had invaded the American army? In exchange, he agreed to attack the Midway Prison and provided funds to chase Kudou Minoru.”

“… But why did Wyatt Curtis make such a deal?”

“They say that the senator is not only politically conservative, but also a religiously conservative politician. For a person with such beliefs, the very existence of Parasites is unacceptable.“

By his reasoning, Kazama guessed only part of Curtis’s motivation, but he guessed the content of the deal almost completely.

“Having arranged cleaning from Parasites with the help of internal troops, you will inevitably get the stigma of the instigator of internal strife. So he decided to entrust the “cleaning” to the Yotsuba family?“

“And this too, but in my opinion, this is simply the result of the calculation of military force. As you said, Your Excellency, if we try to destroy the Parasites on our own, then friendly fire cannot be avoided. You can’t just send a large number of troops, as this will entail a deterioration in reputation. And Tatsuya alone has power comparable to an entire army. If he does not need to worry about the round trip, then he alone will easily destroy one or two military bases in one go.“

“That is, the goal of Wyatt Curtis is to destroy the parasites gathered at the base in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands with the hands of Shiba Tatsuya?“

“I think something like that.”

“You cannot let Shiba Tatsuya do something like that.”

Saeki’s tone of voice was annoyed and a little pushy.

“… I am afraid that the intervention of the Japanese magician in the internal struggle for power in America may be mistakenly perceived by the USNA government as a message. And this is undesirable.“

It seems that Saeki herself felt that because of this understatement, she looks a little hysterical, so she added a little explanation.

But her true intention was a reluctance to give the Yotsuba family – civilians – to get strong ties in the American political world.

At least that’s what Kazama thought when he heard Saeki’s words.

Saeki did not know how Kazama took her words. At that moment, her mind was immersed deep in her thoughts.

“… Shiba Tatsuya…“

Without looking up, as if talking to herself, she named Tatsuya.

And at that moment when Kazama looked at her, she continued:

“… Call him as a special Ooguro officer.”

In ordinary peacetime, in areas outside of hostilities, the army has no right to call civilians to itself. However, so that Tatsuya could be a participant in the hostilities, he was given special soldier status. If you use this as an excuse, then you can call Tatsuya to a military court. Or you can just call, as a superior officer calls a subordinate.

“However, at the moment the situation does not correspond to the conditions provided for in the provision on special duties. You need a reason to call. What should I tell him?“

Kazama doubted that it was worth abusing the status of “special officer” in the current situation, when a specific threat from the NSU had already passed.

“Tell him that this will be an interrogation, necessary to remove suspicions of secret contacts with foreign forces.“

“… Okay.“

“Complete nonsense,” thought Kazama. But he did not object.

Chapter 4

July 18, 15:00 Japanese time and July 17 19:00 local time. The port of the Pearl & Hermes military base, located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, included a U.S. Navy transport ship.

This event in itself was not something special and deserving of special mention. There was nothing strange about the fact that a crowd of armed soldiers came ashore from this ship. Here, after all, there was a supply base for the Navy of the USNA. Of course, when landing on shore for rest, soldiers took personal weapons with them.

Unusual in this situation was that the faces of these soldiers were very tense, as if they were landing on enemy territory. Hiding their steps and breathing, they headed not to the main building of the base, but to another ship in the port.

Their goal was a fully submersible Coral transport vessel moored in the port. It was on this ship that Minoru and Minami climbed into the sea near Yokosuki. And remained there until now.

There were no windows in the Coral cabins. Unlike civilian passenger ships, the design of warships usually involves a small number of windows, because they are a weak point. And Coral can actually be considered a submarine, and its interior is completely isolated from the external environment. Therefore, Minami, sitting in the cabin allotted to her, did not even know that sunset would soon be outside.

Light and sound were blocked, but there was something that was still transmitted through this isolation. She caught the sixth sense that she was approaching a kind of “foul smelling atmosphere.”

She convinced herself that the “smell of gunpowder” at a military base is normal. But she still did not leave a bad feeling.

The doorbell rang faintly in the cabin. Minami walked quickly to the airtight door and unlocked it.

They pulled the door out of the corridor.

“May I come in?”

As expected, Minoru came.

– Yes, please.

Minami took a step back and invited Minoru to the cabin.

Minoru squeezed into Minami’s cabin through a slightly ajar door and locked it behind him.

“Something strange is happening outside.” A detachment of several dozen soldiers is sent towards this ship.

Minami nodded back. Minoru’s words reminded her of what she was just thinking, and her thoughts switched from “this cannot be” to “as I thought.”

– Raymond and Lieutenant Spica also do not understand the situation. I don’t think that the American military will send weapons at each other, but I think that it’s better for you and I to stick together.

Minami nodded once more, now with a much more intense face than before.

She did not think that it was wrong. On the contrary, she agreed with the idea that “it is better to stick together.”

During the attack on Miyakijima, on the Midway transport ship there was an attack squad consisting of more than 20 Parasites, and on the Coral, there were only three Parasites among the crew and passengers: Minoru, Raymond and Spica. The crew was selected by order from the Pentagon from the faction for a tough course towards Japan. It was ordered to support only one group of Parasites, showing a hostile attitude towards Japan.

But for military bureaucrats who have a physiological and religious hatred of the Parasites, there is no difference between the terms “cooperate with the Parasites” and “obey the Parasites.” And the Coral crew in this case is not “the same American soldiers”, but “minions of the demons devouring our Motherland”.

It’s impossible to even direct weapons at just “compatriots”, and you can already shoot at “demon minions” without hesitation. Moreover, this was an order from the commander. About this psychological state and such thoughts were now among the soldiers who were ordered to attack the Coral.

Coral was designed for underwater movement, but during mooring at a port, about a quarter of its hull protrudes above sea level. However, unlike conventional submarines, it had a large hatch for loading or unloading cargo. That is, there was no such inconvenience inherent in submarines when at the same time only one person can enter or leave.

More than 60 soldiers approached this cargo hatch, silently made a huge hole in it, and then surged into the ship.

Coral’s crew was shocked by this outrage.

The crew is about 120 people. This is almost double that of soldiers breaking on board. Although they had a numerical superiority, the attacking and defending sides were very different in terms of readiness. Coral’s crew were helpless in the face of a surprise attack and were killed one by one.

The principle of reproduction of parasites was unknown. Last winter, the Parasites were unable to increase the number of their counterparts, neither in America nor in Japan. However, this year, according to currently available data, more than 50 people became Parasites not as a result of an experiment with a micro black hole, but as a result of the so-called secondary infection – by coming into contact with existing Parasites.

Coral’s crew spent about three days in a closed environment with the Parasites. They were shot only because there were suspicions that they were “infected.” Since the principle of “infection” is unknown, it is likely that all crew members are converted to Parasites. The parasite cannot be “cured”, therefore, in order to prevent the spread of “infection”, “patients” should be “disposed of”…. Such were the arguments of one radical conservative faction from the Ministry of Defense of the USNA.

However, in the case when it is necessary to “get rid” of the entire crew completely, the least risk will be if the ship is sunk by explosives from the outside, and not storm it. The crew is not unarmed. Possible losses in the assault squad as a result of a counterattack cannot be ignored.

Such an opinion was expressed shortly before the start of this surprise attack. If it was possible to execute “divine justice” without any sacrifice, then you would not have to come up with something like that, and you would not have to choose the method of this “divine justice”.

The option to destroy the ship was rejected, as there was no certainty that this would kill the Parasites. Even if we talk about ordinary magicians, it is not known whether the sinking of the ship on which they are will kill them. And in the case of Parasites – demons – they may not be destroyed, even if they die.

Therefore, the assault squad was ordered to shoot everyone with “silver-crystal bullets.”

The name “silver-crystal bullets” did not mean that they were made of “silver crystal.” These bullets were made of a sharpened crystal core coated with pure 999 silver with the addition of a tiny fraction of nickel. It was an anti-demonic weapon used mainly by Protestant exorcists, who were active in the former USA.

Unlike Catholics, Protestants traditionally did not have magical combat organizations. However, the need for exorcists existed all over the world even before the era when the existence of magic was revealed. In the former United States, one Protestant organization took advantage of the poverty of the traditions of local exorcists and created a culture-optimized firearm with anti-demonic weapons.

Unfortunately, the attitude of the exorcists towards the Stars is not very friendly, because the Stars often take to themselves promising young magicians, on whom the organizations of exorcists have already laid their eyes. The supply was unable to get these bullets for Lina during the first Parasite incident. However, this time, for the sake of eradicating the Parasites that are eating away the Stars from within, the exorcist organizations agreed to cooperate with the conservative faction.

However, it was not yet known whether silver-crystal bullets were effective against Parasites.

The entire detachment defended three men in black robes walking in the tail. One of them was middle-aged, and the other two were young. Palatines hung on their neck with crosses embroidered on them, and in their left hands each of them held a large cross 60 centimeters high. These were the same “exorcists” – magicians of ancient magic, regular army priests and pastors.

They were not high-level exorcists and did not possess high magical attack power. But their task was not to kill the Parasites with magic. To fulfill the task entrusted to them, these three exorcists began to pray, raising the crosses in front of them.

Vibrations from the blow that struck a hole in the cargo hatch reached the Minami cabin.

Minoru rounded his eyes at first, but then immediately slightly covered them. Then he frowned, still remaining with his eyes half closed.

– Block…?

Opening his eyes, Minoru saw Minami watching him with a restless look.

Minoru was puzzled for a moment whether he should explain to Minami the current unusual situation they were in, and came to the conclusion that if you did not say anything, it would cause more concern.

“… A mental connection with Raymond and Lieutenant Spica does not work.”

– Blocked?

Minoru has not yet explained to Minami the details of the Parasite’s abilities. She did not know about the difference between telepathy and the mental connection of the Parasites, therefore, she was not particularly surprised that something interfered with the “common thoughts” of the Parasites. Her train of thought was that if the activation of magic could be impeded by “Hindrances,” then mental communication could also be interrupted by something.

However, the divided thoughts of Parasites and telepathy differ fundamentally. Each Parasite has an individual consciousness, but at the same time they all share one common consciousness. The mental communication of Parasites is like a dialogue with oneself, if you look at it from the point of view that all this happens inside one single consciousness. Even if somewhere between separate consciousnesses some kind of blocking mental waves are emitted, this should not interfere with communication between fellow parasites. This will become possible only if it is possible to intervene immediately in the entire consciousness shared by all Parasites. In a single consciousness, covering all representatives of the species “Parasite”.

If it turns out that it is still possible to do this, it will mean that it is also quite possible to interfere with the magical abilities of the Parasites themselves and reduce their strength.

“Minami-san, don’t leave me.”

Minoru stood in front of the door, closing Minami’s back.

Seeing that Minoru was unusually tense, Minami responded with a short “good.” Strong tension was also visible on her face.

No sound was heard from the other side through the completely soundproofed walls. Outside, only a depressing atmosphere was transmitted inside, from which tension gradually increased.

Minoru was not only guarding the door. He also tried to get in touch with Raymond and Spica, and at the same time he tried to “look” to find out what was going on. However, using Eyes of Spirits, he could only read vague information.

“A certain spell works here that impedes the mental processes of the Parasites… and indeed any non-human creatures…?”

This was probably the work of the magician of ancient magic, specializing in the expulsion of all non-human beings hostile to people, such as evil spirits and ghosts. In the current situation, when the mental connection does not work, only such an option came to his mind.

Magic and the “look” were not completely sealed. He was able to understand that there were murders outside, and was able to read information that three magicians prevented his magic.

“… Do you need to deal with them first?” – Asked himself Minoru. Even if they simply block magic, it means that they interfere with Minoru’s consciousness, in other words, into himself. This is an obvious act of aggression.

“You won’t take my life. But don’t worry, I won’t take yours either,” Minoru mentally told himself to Minoru and decided to strike back.

In a blurred field of vision, he aimed “sight” at the magicians of ancient magic, preventing him from using magic.

It didn’t turn out as smoothly as I wanted. To overcome the anti-demonic blocking spell, Minoru had to concentrate his mind as much as he had never done before. Because of this, his attention deviated from the surroundings. Distracted by a counterattack at a long distance, he did not notice what was happening very close by.

To attack, Minoru chose Spark magic. It was the simplest spell from the magic of the release system, which he knew best. Usually a small amount of air is ionized using this magic, however, Minoru has forcibly displaced electrons not from the air, but from the clothes of enemy magicians.

Created at zero distance, an electrical discharge spread across the skin of enemy magicians.

The success of neutralizing enemies with electric discharge was confirmed by Minoru by the disappearance of interference in his mind.

Having regained clarity of consciousness, Minoru looked around with “Eyes of Spirits” to find out what was happening around him.

“…!”

– Minoru-sama!

He realized this at about the same moment that Minami’s warning reached his ears.

The door of the cabin, which, in theory, was locked, swung open. It had a simple non-magnetic lock with a metal deadbolt. That is why this hermetic door was almost impossible to open from the outside. The assumption that the bolt was shifted by psychokinesis came to mind only later, when the situation was resolved.

And now, six gun barrels were looking at Minoru and Minami. Minoru activated Iskra with the power of thought. But this did not happen at the same time that Minoru recognized the soldiers. Even Parasites must follow a system called “magic” and cannot use it unknowingly. Constructing a sequence of magic is a process that occurs in the field of the subconscious, but the user must be aware of the magic that he is using. Parasites do not need not only CAD, but also activation sequences, but even they have time from recognition of the enemy to activation of magic is not zero.

After Minoru recognized the soldier with the weapon, it took him half a second to decide to use the Spark.

During this time, the soldiers have already managed to pull the trigger.

Bullets flew through ionized air.

Six soldiers fell to the floor, struck by electric shock.

And the bullets fired from six barrels…

They were stopped by an anti-object shield deployed by Minami.

There is an opinion that there is nothing easier and faster than thoughts, but a person’s reaction can sometimes be even faster than thinking. Exactly at the very moment when the enemies tried to enter the cabin, hardened by the rigorous training of the battle magician, Minami reflexively pressed the desired combination of buttons on the CAD and activated the barrier magic.

Bullets that lost kinetic energy fell to the floor.

Minami collapsed exhaustively to her knees.

– Minami-san! How are you!?

Instead of the Minami barrier, which lost its effectiveness, Minoru built a powerful anti-object, heat-resistant and electromagnetic-resistant shield. Even light did not penetrate inside this shield, so Minoru created a light source in the form of a weak plasma, which shone, but did not burn. Minoru dropped to one knee next to Minami and held her hand at the shoulder.

At first he reached out to shake her shoulder, but at the last moment he thought better of it.

Minami’s smile appeared on her face, distorted by pain.

– I’m fine.

Minami’s intermittent voice said that she, on the contrary, was far from okay.

“Everything… happened… too… suddenly.” I… just… didn’t… manage… to adjust… power.

– Enough! Say nothing more!

Minoru unconsciously hugged Minami with both hands.

His face was as pale as that of Minami.

Minoru once again remembered that using magic shortens Minami’s lifespan.

He abducted her precisely for this reason.

He did not want Minami to die, so he abandoned his humanity himself and suggested that Minami do the same.

And despite all this…

Due to his carelessness…

He admitted that Minami had to use magic.

Now he was not interested in the attacks of the newly arrived enemies, nor in Raymond’s mental connection. He rejected all this and hugged Minami tightly.

The battle ended after 20 minutes.

After Minoru neutralized the exorcists, this allowed Zoe Spica to demonstrate her true fighting abilities. And she, after all, belonged to the class of the First stellar magnitude – the highest in “Stars”, the strongest division of magicians in the USNA. She alone neutralized almost half of the assault squad.

When the fanatical commander was killed, the remaining half of the enemies lost their desire to continue the battle. The Coral crew also did not begin to avenge the dead comrades, and accepted the surrender of the enemy, so in the end the battle did not end with the total destruction of one of the parties.

However.

Minoru and Minami received help only an hour after the end of the battle.

-… to Minoru. How is your girlfriend?

– The pain has passed, and she is sleeping peacefully. The medicine she was given seems to work.

Immediately after the battle was over, the ban on disembarking the Coral crew on shore was lifted. Minoru was also allowed to get off the ship, and Minami was transferred to the medical center of the base. Minoru spent some time near Minami, and now sat on the pier and looked at the evening sea.

– I see…

Raymond said only that, and could not pick up the following words.

-… It’s my fault.

Minoru sat with his arms around his knees and his head bowed.

“I should not have allowed her to use magic…”

“No… it’s not your fault.” Who would have thought that at an American base, American soldiers would attack each other… this is impossible to predict.

“Lieutenant Spica has already apologized for this.” “We will do everything in our power to cure Minami-san, who suffered from the internal conflict of our country,” she said.

Minoru’s face showed a faint, self-deprecating smile.

– But I only know that there is only one way to cure her…

– So…!

Raymond raised his voice.

“In such a situation, it’s time to stop being so indecisive!” Minoru, you can do it!

Minoru raised his head and looked into the eyes of Raymond standing next to him.

Raymond involuntarily tensed, and his breath caught.

In Minoru’s eyes, he saw a feeling of helplessness bordering on despair.

– I will not force. Until she herself desires, she will not be the same as us.

– But after all… just you…!

– I promised. That I will not force. – Mumbled to Minoru in a voice like that of an old man who had lost the desire to continue living.

Raymond could only stand silently, not knowing what to answer.

◊ ◊ ◊

July 18, 20:55.

Leaving Miyuki at home, and Lina with her as a guard, Tatsuya alone visited the Kyūji Temple.

And he did not suddenly rush in there without an invitation. Tatsuya had already been there today at 10 a.m. and asked Yakumo to arrange a meeting with Toudou Aoba. The two fought seriously almost a week ago, but in the end they parted as if nothing had happened. At about noon, Yakumo called Tatsuya home and said that the meeting was scheduled for 9 pm today.

Apprentice Yakumo led Tatsuya to the far side room. He waited there for about five minutes. Exactly at 21:00 Yakumo brought Toudou Aoba, and he took the main place *.

[They say “at the head of the table”, but the Japanese are sitting on the floor, and the “main place” is about the same, only without a table…]

“I sincerely apologize for inviting you today.”

“Forget the greetings.” Yotsuba Tatsuya, raise your head.

Tatsuya obediently raised his head bowed. Despite the middle of summer, Toudou wore a high-quality suit similar to the one he had in their previous meeting.

“It seems like today you want to ask me for something.” Do not be shy, speak.

– Thank you, I will take advantage of your proposal and immediately get down to business. My question is also related to your Excellency’s obligation to be a deterrent. Could you arrange for me the possibility of using military force legally even if I leave the 1-0-1 brigade and lose the status of special officer?

Truly unashamed, Tatsuya immediately voiced his request to Toudou.

Toudou did not get angry, but, on the contrary, grinned with interest.

“And I thought the question would be about Wyatt Curtis’s request.”

“It seems to me that it would be better if the head of the family talks to you on this issue, and not me.”

– Hm…

Toudou was still looking at Tatsuya with a grin.

“Yes, she did consult me.” And with regards to the matter of requesting cooperation from Asha Chandrasekhar, too.

“So you are already in the know?” – Tatsuya countered Toudou’s provocation with an indifferent face.

– Good.

Toudou again did not consider Tatsuya’s behavior a problem.

– If your power cannot be used freely, then this will weaken state defense.

Toudou nodded and crossed his arms over his chest.

– My authority in the modern world does not manifest itself so openly. It will be difficult for me to officially grant such special privileges to one person. However…

Toudou removed his hands from his chest.

“… I can arrange that after something that has actually happened, you will not be accused of a crime.”

“May I ask you this?”

– You can.

Tatsuya bowed low, his forehead touching the tatami.

“But why are you at odds with Saeki?” Toudou asked in a teasing tone, looking down at Tatsuya’s back.

“Her Excellency Saeki does not seem to like the fact that our family harbors Angelina Kudou Shields.” – Rising, Tatsuya answered.

“Angie Sirius is hiding you, not the Yotsuba family.”

– I AM…

At that moment, Tatsuya again used the universal self instead of the formal one.

“… I think she will no longer be Angie Sirius.”

– Wow.

– Heh.

Not only Toudou, but even Yakumo, who was silent before that, gave a voice.

– Not “I hope”, but “I think”…? – Grinning, I asked Tatsuya Yakumo.

– Yes. It will be so regardless of my intentions.

– Ha ha. I hope it will be so.

Yakumo was still laughing, but Toudou had regained his serious face.

– After Kudou’s death, Saeki was left with an unpleasant emotional aftertaste. This probably also affected.

An expression flashed across Tatsuya’s face, showing that this was a surprise to him. He suggested that Saeki was only calculating in terms of diplomatic gain, but it seemed like digging a lot deeper in this case.

“However, breaking the relationship between you and Saeki will be beneficial for our country.” Your power should not be placed under the control of just one military officer.

Tatsuya did not know how to react to this, so he decided to just make a polite, light bow.

– I understand the situation.

It seems that Toudou did not care about the reaction of the interlocutor.

– As I said earlier, you can leave a question for me about your right to be a participant in the hostilities. And you will protect our country in the right way at the moment when you decide that you are the one who needs it.

“As you order.”

Tatsuya bowed his forehead to the floor again.

From above, Toudou’s words were heard again.

“You can accept Wyatt Curtis’s offer.” Politicians and bureaucrats will not like this, but the release of Benjamin Lowes from prison is well suited to demonstrate your strength to everyone. However, the complete destruction of Midway Prison is ruled out. Exceeding the dose of the drug turns it into a poison.

Obviously, Toudou kept in mind the need for military containment of the United States Army. Almost certainly, he was very unhappy with the attack on Miyakijima.

Thinking about this, Tatsuya, who continued to sit forehead on the floor, replied:

– I understood you.

“During the salvation of Sakurai Minami, you don’t have to think about the damage that you will inflict on the American army until it is very big.” The complete erasure of the Pearl & Hermes base from the face of the earth, nevertheless, will be unnecessary, but I do not mind the damage caused by the sinking of one or two aircraft carriers.

– I would like to finish everything as quietly and peacefully as possible.

“That will do too.” But I have one condition…. you can raise your head.

– What? Tatsuya said and straightened up slowly.

Toudou was not important, but immediately voiced his condition.

“Don’t bring Kudou Minoru back to the country.”

“Do you mean that you can not kill him?”

That evening, Tatsuya heard from Yakumo that Toudou and his “colleagues” are prone to allergic reactions to all inhuman evil spirits. Hearing about the “condition”, he expected that he would be required to destroy the Parasites.

– This is unnecessary. What is happening in America must be settled by the Americans.

– I understood you.

Tatsuya realized that for Toudou it was enough that demonic creatures simply did not exist in Japan.

Minoru’s abilities were also very valuable, but for Tatsuya, returning Minami was a higher priority. And he could not go against the conditions set by Toudou.

“I will also arrange for you to leave the country.” You don’t want to worry about any tedious accusations of secretly leaving the country?

-… Thank you.

Tatsuya did not expect Toudou to show such zeal for cooperation.

If he leaves the self-defense forces, then there really is a chance that he will be much more severely blamed for illegal actions that had previously been turned a blind eye. And his current business is primarily a secret exit from the country. But Tatsuya was ready for such an inevitable risk.

– Yakumo.

Toudou turned to Yakumo and turned to him.

“Tatsuya-kun, here you go.”

Yakumo moved closer to Tatsuya and took a flat dark blue bundle from his pocket.

Having received this bundle in his hands, Tatsuya with a glance asked Yakumo whether it could be opened.

– You can open and see. – said Toudou.

– Good.

Inside the bundle of dark blue silk was an official passport with a seal authorizing exit from the country.

The reason for leaving indicated in the passport was cooperation with the USNA in the field of technology. That is, Tatsuya allegedly temporarily went to the USNA as a technical specialist in magical engineering.

Tatsuya could not hide his surprise. Seeing his face, Toudou and Yakumo smiled with satisfaction.

“That was suggested by Yakumo.” You can take this as an apology for the fact that he recently interfered with you.

– Although I disturbed you not at my discretion… Well, that was, that was.

Regardless of the intervention and apology for him, regardless of the details of this act and its reasons, for Tatsuya it was definitely a useful thing.

Tatsuya politely bowed in gratitude for the help.

Chapter 5

Japanese time: July 19, noon. Local time: July 18, 4:00 p.m.

A small transport aircraft arrived at the Pearl & Hermes base. This base was built outside the atoll, on an artificial base and a floating pontoon mega platform, so the base itself did not have an airstrip. The role of the runway was performed by the aircraft carrier assigned to this base. Therefore, when the aircraft carrier was absent (was on a mission), the base could only accept aircraft capable of landing on water. This aircraft was also supposed to arrive yesterday, but due to the lack of an aircraft carrier, the schedule was shifted by one day.

This plane flew here from New Mexico, from the base of stars. Three days ago, the first Lieutenant Spica asked the Stars base to resolve the unusual situation that arose, namely, the Coral’s crew was forbidden to go ashore immediately after entering the port. Yesterday, while this request was still under consideration, a sudden attack occurred, committed by their own allies, the same American soldiers. After receiving a request for help from the first lieutenant of Spica, the commander of the base Walker immediately decided to send Major Kevin Antares and the first lieutenant Eliya * Sargas (both Parasites) from the eleventh detachment. However, the plane, which was supposed to deliver these two, could not leave, because the “runway” was absent at the base.

[Japanese transliteration is very harsh. This name has quite a few varieties (Ilya, Elia, (I) Elijah, Elijah), I just chose one of them, since it is completely impossible to understand which one the author intended.]

“Lieutenant Spica. Sorry, we’re late.”

First of all, he said Antares Spica, who came to meet him on the deck of the aircraft carrier. At the same time, base soldiers bypassed them at a great distance.

“No, I’m glad you arrived, sir.”

Spica understood that Antares also had unexpected obstacles, and did not blame him.

In addition, Spica herself was not one of the victims.

“By the way, regarding Commander Vega and Lieutenant Deneb…”

“The commander and lieutenant fell in battle.”

“… I see. Sorry.”

Antares was not particularly familiar with them, but the death of his colleagues is always shocking news. Even for parasites.

He spoke again only after about five seconds.

“So what is the situation?”

“Almost half of Coral’s team has been lost, but the remaining half have become better treated. Care for the wounded is also up to standard.”

Spica almost did not change her face at the moment when she talked about the fact that almost 60 people were victims of this incident. Did she have such a character initially, or did she lose humanity only after becoming a Parasite?

“Okay.“

Antares also did not show on his face emotions about the killed members of the Coral crew.

“Lieutenant Spica. I understand that the problems at this base have been resolved?“

At this moment, the first lieutenant Sargas joined the conversation.

“No, there are still unsolved problems.“

“Are you talking about the punishment for the surrendered assault squad?”

“This issue will be resolved in accordance with military legislation.“

“Then what are we talking about?“

Antares returned to the conversation, forcing Spike to give an answer.

“Here is our relative who is not connected to our network.“

“Do you mean that a relative refuses to share consciousness?“

Sargas did not hide his surprise…. Of course, he and Spica by “congeners” meant Parasites. And no misunderstanding between them arose.

“Is something like that possible?”

Sargas was also a Parasite, so he could not immediately believe that the “relative” could deliberately disconnect from the network of divided consciousness.

“…It is a fact. I don’t know why this behavior is possible.“

However, no matter how hard it was to believe it, it turned out to be true.

“And who is he?”

Asked Spica Antares with a stern expression.

“This is our relative of Japanese descent named Kudou Minoru. Raymond Clark took him to Coral. Now he is at this base.“

Spica’s voice was a little tense.

All Parasites are separate individuals. Possessing individual consciousnesses, they are also connected at a deep level of consciousness, that is, they share one whole consciousness. This is a feature of the species of living creatures called the Parasite.

It was not known what damage could entail the existence of an individual separated from this common connection. Parasites have only recently recognized themselves as a “species” and have a very short history. Or you could even say that they “have no history.” Before that, they had not encountered a Parasite capable of isolating itself from their “network”, so they simply could not ignore the study of this danger.

Spica felt this intuitively. Antares and Sargas now, too, only having listened to her, intuitively understood. That an individual who refuses to be included in their network of consciousness threatens their existence.

“… And where is he now?“

“His companion is unwell and he is now with her in the medical center.“

Spica answered the question of Antares. Although she had not communicated with Minoru since yesterday, she continuously monitored his activities.

“This companion is also our relative?“

“No. This girl is a man.“

“Kindred fled the country with a human girl…? He seems to have some kind of confusing situation of his own.“

“Raymond Clark must know the situation of Kudou Minoru.”

“I see… no, that can’t be put off.” One must get in touch with this Kudou Minoru.

Hearing Antares, Spica frowned.

“Kudou Minoru is able to isolate itself from our network at will. Convincing him will be a daunting task.“

“I understand. There is nothing to be done, you will have to use relatively crude methods. You knew this and patiently watched him while you were waiting for us.“

“Yes, major.“

When Antares and Sargas were still human, they specialized in the magic of psychic intervention. Having become Parasites, they have not lost their skills. On the contrary, their power of influence only increased.

Spica thought that these two would be able to overcome the mental barrier to Minoru with the magic of psychic intervention.

Antares and the silently nodding Sargas decided to do so.

◊ ◊ ◊

July 19, 13:00. Tatsuya arrived at the headquarters of the 1-0-1 brigade, located at the base of Kasumigaura. He was called there by phone.

At 9 a.m., Fujibayashi Kyouko called him. They only talked about the case, but Tatsuya was not overly cold in talking to her. He did not yet know what exactly Maya suggested Kyouko, but heard their conversation after the funeral of Kudou Retsu, where Maya offered to change the situation. Tatsuya suggested that some kind of agreement was discussed in their conversation about Fujibayashi Nagamasa’s interference in his pursuit.

However, the reason Tatsuya responded to Saeki’s challenge was different. He went to the brigade headquarters, believing that it was worth clarifying his position.

“Special officer, thank you for coming.”

Saeki who greeted him, clearly showing only the appearance of a smile, Tatsuya greeted not saluting, but with a slight bow-nod. He was in ordinary casual clothes and without a hat, so from the point of view of manners everything was in order. According to some (erroneous) tradition, earlier Tatsuya used the standard salute of honor for salutation. Seeing Tatsuya’s current greeting, standing next to Saeki Kazama felt the situation was awkward.

Saeki may also have noticed that Tatsuya’s behavior is different from what she used to be.

However, she wanted to immediately begin the planned interrogation.

“Your Excellency Saeki.” I’m giving up my status right now.

However, Tatsuya spoke first.

-…In what sense?

In response to a question, Saeki Tatsuya took an oblong envelope from the inside pocket of his summer jacket and laid it on the table.

It was signed as a “notice of resignation.”

– I AM…

Kazama experienced an even stronger sense of awkwardness and inappropriateness from what was used by Tatsuya’s universal ego than before. But he understood that this was not the time to worry.

“… not a real soldier, so notice may not be required.” However, this is my decision.

Saeki removed all expression from her face, looked at the envelope and said:

“I can’t accept that.”

– Your Excellency. This is not a “letter of resignation,” but a “notice of resignation.” Moreover, at the time I was awarded the rank of special officer, no agreement was reached on the duration of my service. I must be free to leave at any time.

– And so you think that society will accept your excuse of “this work has ceased to like me, so I’m leaving” !?

– If you refer to public opinion…

Responding unable to hide Saeki’s annoyance, Tatsuya made a completely serious face.

“… then is not compelling a minor to military service contrary to this very public opinion?”

-…

This tricky Tatsuya argument has definitely had an effect on Saeki.

“… Have you forgotten who you are?” You are a magician of the Strategic class. We cannot let you leave the army arbitrarily.

– Why?

– Why… Because the state should not leave unattended a destructive force comparable to strategic weapons. You’re kind of not stupid, and you can figure it out without additional dubbing.

Saeki no longer hid her annoyance.

And Tatsuya, in turn, stopped hiding his cold and indifferent face.

– It is not the state that wants to leave the magic of the Strategic Class unattended. And the government.

-…What’s the difference?

– The government is persistently striving to hold arms in its hands. And the state attaches great importance to the use of weapons in their interests.

“But it is the government that decides how weapons will be used in the interests of the state.”

– Usually it is. Tatsuya calmly agreed with Saeki’s argument…. However, he continued immediately.

– Decisions on the use of strategic weapons are made at least by politicians, not by the military.

Saeki’s face turned slightly red. And the reason was anger, not shame.

“You mean that I am a military dictator who disregards the opinions of civilians?”

– These were general considerations. And speaking generally, military force should not belong to just one person. magicians of the Strategic class, possessing a military force comparable to strategic weapons, are special people who do not fit into the general framework.

“… Do you mean that you are a person requiring special treatment?” Saeki asked in a mocking tone.

“Not much.” A specific one.

Tatsuya did not succumb to provocation. Yes, and could not – because his emotions were clearly limited. In this case, Tatsuya’s “curse” worked as his weapon.

– Guided by general criteria, you cannot follow in the right or wrong direction. General rules do not apply to such special people as magicians of the Strategic class. Even if I do not have masters, then my magic can still serve for the good of national defense. Conversely, if they restrict me, I will not always be able to use magic for the sake of the country…. Remember, for example, the fact that brainwashing impairs magical abilities.

Tatsuya spoke out the last sentence in an ironic tone.

“… When a Strategic-class magician uses his power, anyone but the government will be responsible for the consequences.” Shiba Tatsuya, you already struck with your magic of the Strategic class on the territory of another state. Breaking relations with self-defense forces, will you take sole responsibility for such massive destruction?

– At the time of October 31, 2095, I was considered a special officer and attacked the VAA fleet on the orders of self-defense forces. I think I should not tell your wise Excellency Lieutenant General Saeki that ignoring the chronology is sophistry.

Even without Tatsuya’s instructions, Saeki understood that this was a stupid excuse.

– I’m not talking about the past, but about the future!

The meaning of her words was not completely clear.

Saeki quickly realized that she had not said enough to understand her thoughts. Before Tatsuya pointed this out to her, she continued her refutation attempt, pronouncing the words with a tongue twister.

“You just said that you will use the magic of the Strategic Class for the sake of the state, even if you do not work for the government?” I mean, will you take sole responsibility for this?

“Your Excellency, this is the reverse order.” When it is required to use the magic of the Strategic Class for the sake of the state, it should be used only after the state… the government will make a firm promise to assume this responsibility. I am not good natured enough to take responsibility instead of the state.

Saeki pierced Tatsuya with her gaze for a while.

She simply looked at him, and did not try to refute his words.

If this dispute had a judge, then at that moment he must have declared Tatsuya’s victory.

– Our cooperation lasted almost five years. Thank you for watching me, all the best.

But Tatsuya did not come here to argue with Saeki. Honestly, this argument was just a waste of time for him. If Saeki humbly accepted the notice of resignation, then he would not have to deal with it.

Of course, Tatsuya did not think that Saeki would agree with a smile to his departure from the army.

“… Lieutenant Colonel Kazama, to detain special officer Ooguro.”

Saeki gave Kazama exactly the order that Tatsuya was expecting.

In general, Tatsuya thought Saeki would do this from the very beginning.

– Commander.

But it was not Kazama who was the first to respond to Saeki’s order.

Major Yanagi requested an order from his immediate commander, who had not yet undertaken anything.

“… Yanagi, go ahead.”

By order of Kazama, Major Yanagi and his subordinates (soldiers and junior officers) began to move.

This room was pretty small. It was impossible to use large-scale magic.

No, Tatsuya, of course, had the option to destroy this room and escape. But Yanagi and his subordinates, as members of a separate magically equipped battalion, could not ignore the possibility that the office of the commander-in-chief of the brigade in which their battalion was listed would suffer, and that the hostess of this cabinet, Lieutenant General Saeki, would be involved in the showdown. They were forced to attack Tatsuya only with the help of magic that controlled their bodies, and magic that caused damage upon contact.

There were four attackers, including the Yanagi. Kazama still has not budged.

The first blow was delivered by Yanagi.

Taking a step forward with his right foot, he lunged forward with his right hand.

It seems that this was not an ordinary fighting style, but the first attack from a series of strokes. This blow was aimed at the solar plexus. Tatsuya did not shy away from this and took the attack with the palm of his left hand.

But Yanagi’s right fist continued to press Tatsuya’s left arm.

His power was aimed precisely at Tatsuya’s center of gravity, and it could not be turned aside.

Tatsuya had to put much more effort into his left hand so that this blow would not reach his body.

During this fight between the right fist and the left palm, Tatsuya and Yanagi did not move.

The Yanagi subordinates took advantage of this and attacked left and right.

Tatsuya stepped back with the help of movement magic, maintaining a fighting stance.

Yanagi this time stepped forward with his left foot and lunged forward with his left hand.

This time it was a strike with the base of the palm. Tatsuya did not shy away from him either.

However, he did not block it, but accepted it with his torso.

Yanagi’s left palm entered Tatsuya’s right side. Yanagi frowned at the sensation conveyed to him from his palm.

It was a sensation of a broken rib.

This lunge with Yanagi’s palm ended in a fracture at Tatsuya.

Yanagi absolutely did not expect that everything would turn out so simple.

That is why the reaction of Yanagi is late.

The delay was negligible, just one instant. However, during this time interval of less than half a second, Tatsuya’s right hand reached Yanagi’s face.

It was a blow with the base of the palm, but with the movement of only the arm, without working the lower back.

Such a blow should not have sufficient strength and was usually used only to distract attention. However, Yanagi lost his balance from him and fell on one knee.

The reason for this was the movement magic activated by Instant Call.

Tatsuya magic set in motion his right hand, causing her to strike Yanagi.

It was a partial imitation of the magic of “Self-Puppet”, which specialized in Tomitsuka Hagane. Tatsuya could not imitate the Self-Puppet completely, but could reproduce it within the limits of one right hand.

At the very moment that Yanagi was thrown back, Tatsuya no longer had a turning point. Self-healing using magic of the same name.

Eliminating his damage, Tatsuya took a step forward to finish off Yanagi.

However, he was forced to interrupt the “persecution”.

Three subordinates of Yanagi from three different sides simultaneously attacked Tatsuya.

These were fighters from a platoon that had undergone special training in melee skills under the leadership of Major Yanagi. Even Tatsuya had poor prospects in a battle of three against one. Before he was completely surrounded, he took a big jump and landed in front of the door.

Now he stood at the front door of the commander’s office, albeit with his back to her.

– Do not let him run away! – Yanagi shouted to his subordinates, recovering from the damage, after which he got up and also rushed forward.

Saeki pressed something on the desktop console. Probably remotely locked the door.

The door looked like ordinary wood, but it was only outwardly. In fact, it was made of special steel plates glued with decorative wooden panels.

But Tatsuya did not even reach for the doorknob.

Instead, he moved toward the approaching Yanagi.

Yanagi’s right arm moved into Tatsuya’s chest.

Tatsuya’s right arm moved into Yanagi’s chest.

It was not like a mirror image, but as if a three-dimensional image was projected in a rotated form. From exactly the same position, they simultaneously carried out exactly the same blows.

A wave of vibration was released from the palm to the heart of the enemy. It was a melee technique using the magic of an oscillation system.

Yanagi won in power.

But there was no significant difference between the results of their strikes.

Both legs cringed.

Yanagi fell to his knees.

But Tatsuya only staggered and stood up straight again. The damage was nullified by the Recovery.

In order not to fall completely, Yanagi leaned on the floor with his left hand, and grabbed his chest with his right. His forehead covered with sweat. Tatsuya went right past him and his subordinates, frozen in place. He headed deep into the room.

To the table of Saeki.

But here Tatsuya’s review was blocked.

Kazama stood before him.

Tatsuya did not even understand when Kazama had time to move.

But Tatsuya did not stop, but continued to move forward.

And the moment Tatsuya approached Kazama…

Tatsuya’s body soared into the air.

And hit Saeki’s desk. Hitting the table not from above, but from the side, Tatsuya fell to the floor.

Kazama did not turn around.

Tatsuya turned to Kazama and stood as if nothing had happened.

-… Substitute yourself to damage the enemy and defeat?

In response to Kazama’s words…

“No, that could be called a draw.” However, I do have a tool that erases damage. The only difference is this.

Tatsuya spoke in a tone that sets out well-known facts.

If you look closely, you could see that Kazama’s legs were trembling slightly. He struggled to support directly his body, which had to fall for a long time.

At the time of the throw, Tatsuya sent a vibrational wave through the point of capture of his hand.

This vibrational magic was much more powerful than the one sent to Yanagi. Even the so-called Instant Call does not complete the activation instantly. When you spend extra time on this, it means that you don’t have it left to group and fall safely. But you can afford to do such things thanks to the ability of automatic self-healing.

Tatsuya turned and held out his hand toward Saeki.

Saeki instantly grabbed her hand on the handle of the drawer in which the gun lay.

Tatsuya’s hand reached the desktop console.

Saeki froze in surprise.

Unlocking the door lock, Tatsuya turned around.

– So, your victory over the master was not an accident? – Kazama spoke with Tatsuya heading for the door when he passed him.

– Then I lost. I’m still not able to defeat the master. – Answered Tatsuya passed Yanagi.

Yanagi did not move. More precisely, he could not move.

Tatsuya left the commander’s office.

As soon as he closed the door behind him, Kazama collapsed on one knee, and two subordinates rushed to him. The remaining subordinate hurried to Yanagi.

It took about two minutes after Tatsuya left.

Restoring his breath, Kazama rose.

“Take Major Yanagi to the clinic.”

– There is.

Yanagi obediently leaned on the shoulders of two subordinates, and they left the commander’s office.

“You are free too.”

– There is.

Kazama also released the remaining junior officer. Only two remained in the commander’s office – Saeki and Kazama.

“… Lieutenant Colonel, have you taken the matter lightly?”

Saeki rebuked Kazama in the form of a question.

– I did not give in.

Kazama did not deny that he was frivolous. Do not kill the enemy, do not destroy the building and interior items. Under such conditions, one cannot become “serious.” The same went for Yanagi, and Tatsuya too.

Kazama tried to capture Tatsuya, using all his powers within the limits of what is permitted by the same conditions as the enemy. And as a result, was defeated. For Kazama, to say aloud the excuse “I was not serious” was a shameful act. But the same can be said about the fact that he could not fulfill the order. Therefore, he no longer wanted to argue with a superior officer.

“… There is nothing to be done about the fact that he managed to leave.” We have no reason to get an arrest warrant. So from now on, it is necessary to strengthen monitoring of him in order to prevent at least a secret exit from the country.

Saeki already realized that trying to blame Kazama was nothing more than her personal nagging. She left this question unattended, and spoke of a more pressing matter.

– Thank you. By the way, Your Excellency, what will you do with this?

Kazama picked up and laid on the table a “resignation notice” that fell to the floor as a result of Tatsuya’s collision with the table.

Saeki took this envelope in her hand and silently threw it into the shredder standing next to the table.

– Are you sure?

– As he himself said, he is not a real officer. From the very beginning, he was not properly registered with the self-defense forces, so the notice of resignation in itself is something meaningless.

“That is, you will ignore Tatsuya’s refusal from the title?”

– No. Records created on a special basis about the “special officer Ooguro Ruue” will be deleted today.

Saeki’s decision was unexpected for Kazama. He again asked, “Are you sure?”, This time in order to confirm the intentions of the boss.

– Disloyal soldiers are bad for the army. If he says that he does not need the support of the army, then let him do what he wants.

Saeki’s words were not out of sympathy for Tatsuya. On the contrary, her voice, it seemed, at any moment could tremble with anger.

◊ ◊ ◊

American military base Pearl and Hermes, Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Local time: July 18, 20:00.

Minoru came to Minami’s clinic. The sun was already completely hidden behind the horizon, but the lighting in the room was turned off. In order not to interfere with Minami sleep.

She had not slept all this time since yesterday, but the time she spent without sleep was very small. Overheating of the zone of calculation of magic depletes more the mind than the body. She could not normally maintain a state of wakefulness due to a lack of “vitality of consciousness.”

At this base was a military doctor. But Minoru did not even hope for treatment from this doctor. Medicine will not help here. He knew that Minami’s disease could not be cured by modern medicine.

The zone for calculating magic, located in the subconscious area of ​​the “function” of the mind, responsible for the construction of magic, like other human abilities, has certain limitations within which it can work. Continuous processing of requests that go beyond these restrictions will harm not only this function of the mind called the zone of calculation of magic. This disorder of the mind will also be transmitted to the physical body, which in the end can even lead to death. To prevent this, there is a “safety valve” in the magic calculation area that stops processing beyond the limits of possibilities.

But sometimes the body has a need to demonstrate power that exceeds these strength limits. In such cases, the area for calculating magic can momentarily allow processing exceeding the limits. If at this moment the safety valve is so damaged that it becomes impossible to restore it, you can guess that if there is no limiter in the magic calculation zone, processing overload, or the so-called overheating, can easily happen. That was the true nature of the disease devouring Minami.

The area for calculating magic, located in the area of ​​the subconscious mind, was still a “black box” for both magicians and Parasites. At this stage in the development of knowledge of magic, it is impossible to restore this mechanism. The only way to prevent the magician from shortening his life from overheating the magic calculation area with a damaged fuse is to refuse to use magic.

But Minami eventually used magic. In addition, a powerful, that is, causing a strong load. Right in front of Minoru.

“If the human mind and body cannot stand the use of magic, then there is no choice but to become a non-human being, more suitable for magic…”

Minoru thought this was the only right choice. With all his intelligence, he could not come up with another solution.

“If it goes on like this, then Minami-san…”

“You have no choice but to turn Minami into a Parasite,” the voice whispered in Minoru’s head. And that was not the voice of the divided consciousness of the Parasites. It was the inner voice of Minoru himself, not wanting Minami to die.

But at the same time, another “I” was also sitting inside him, reproaching him for trying to break the promise Minami made. And there was also Minoru inside him, tormenting himself with the question of whether there really were any other ways.

He already had an answer. Any treatment is only a temporary measure. Now, even if the magic is sealed, it will not lead to an improvement in current symptoms.

There is no other final solution than to become a Parasite.

“She used magic through my fault.”

“If I were more attentive to what was happening around me, then Minami-san would not have to use magic.”

Minoru sat with his head hanging by the bed on which Minami was sleeping, and mentally lamented.

“What shall I do…” – Minoru prayed in despair, peering into the emptiness of the night darkness.

Minoru suddenly raised his head.

“This answer did not come from within me.”

The magician’s perception informed him of such a strangeness.

“Something Dark… This is not ordinary darkness.”

This darkness had some kind of altered nature.

It was not just a lack of light.

Despite the fact that the lighting in the room was turned off, for some seconds ago it was not completely dark here, as it is now.

The light from the corridor, penetrating through the ajar door, as well as the bed and Minami lying on it, were all slightly distinguishable.

And now nothing was visible at all.

Everything around Minoru was drowned in darkness.

No. He himself was obsessed with darkness.

“… The magic of blocking perception !?”

Minoru intuitively sensed that this darkness was a magical attack directed against him.

He tried to determine the identity of the enemy using the “Elemental Sight”.

But could not “see.” Not just could not know the identity of the enemy, but did not see anything. Even his magical vision was blocked by this darkness.

“Reaches even reason… No, on the contrary. Does this magic block the feelings of the enemy directly from the side of the mind?”

Minoru was not at a loss. He had a lot of knowledge. Knowledge of the Kudou family, knowledge of Zhou Gongjin. Minoru knew both magic that blocked five senses and magic that prevented perception beyond the five senses. For example, his “Parade” was magic, deceiving both of them.

“It only obscures the“ eyes. ”And it doesn’t do any harm anymore.”

If the ability to search for the enemy is blocked, then this is not the end. Minoru decided to erect a barrier against the magic of psychic intervention and wait for the enemy to proceed.

I did not have to wait long.

A voice came from the darkness. It was not a simple loud physical voice tearing apart eardrums, but a furious voice forcibly penetrating directly into his consciousness.

This voice did not consist of clearly distinguishable words. It had neither Japanese nor English words, nor words from other languages.

It was just a “sound” conveying meaning directly.

“Hear…!“

And this voice conveyed such an appeal.

“Do not reject…!“

And such a call was still present in this voice.

But what should I hear? What should I not reject?

Minoru did not have magical compulsion from this voice, but a banal sense of curiosity.

When he voluntarily directed consciousness towards this voice, the meaning conveyed by him… more precisely, the “intentions” became more specific.

“Hear my voice! Hear our voice!“

My, ours. This voice belonged to one and several speakers at the same time.

This alone allowed Minoru to understand that the hosts of the voice were Parasites.

“Do not reject my consciousness! Do not reject our consciousness!“

Minoru “rejected” the assimilation of the plural consciousness of the Parasites using a magic barrier. Applying the magic developed by the Kudou family to subjugate parasite dolls, Minoru ordered the Parasite who lived inside him to “not enter” the collective consciousness.

This voice was trying to get Minoru to undo this magic.

“Two magic operators.”

In addition to the fact that they are trying to drag him into a collective consciousness, he determined from magical waves that more than one magician carries out an attack by magic of mental intervention. Enemies worked in pairs. The “Sight” was not available, but he was able to read the properties of the magic used by “touch”.

“This magic… it manipulates the mind like powerful hypnosis.”

Minoru made this conclusion by analyzing magic trying to manipulate his mind.

“One of them obscures the” eyes “, and the other inspires thoughts.”

Continuing to follow this touch, you can even counterattack.

“First, neutralize this” darkness “!”

However, for the future, he decided to teach the opponents a lesson, completely breaking their magic, and, thereby, showing the difference in strength.

The magic chosen by Minoru was the Parade. The original purpose of this magic was not to allow the enemy to catch you, but even when he was already trapped in the trap created by the enemy of “Darkness”, he did not hesitate to choose.

“If the enemy is not Tatsuya-san…!”

Minoru was sure that if the enemy was not Tatsuya, then with the help of the Parade he would easily hide from him, even if he had already fallen into the hands of this enemy.

And in his thoughts there was not a bit of complacency.

◊ ◊ ◊

“hmm?“

“Is he moving?“

In one of the rooms at the Pearl & Hermes base, the voices of two men sounded simultaneously.

The first voice belonged to Major Kevin Antares, and the second to First Lieutenant Eliya Sargas.

Major Antares is the commander of the eleventh detachment of the Stars, and the first lieutenant Sargas is a member of the same detachment, having the class of the First stellar magnitude. They were both magicians specializing in the magic of psychic intervention, and both were converted to Parasites as a result of “secondary infection.”

When they became Parasites, the magic they knew best about did not change. On the contrary, they showed a tendency to go even deeper into their specialization.

Antares was good at magic affecting many minds simultaneously, and Sargas was strong at magic that focuses on one target and makes a powerful attack on her mind.

The magic that plunged Minoru’s mind into “darkness” was created by Antares, and it was called “Nyx *”. This magic could be called the trump card of Antares. She intervened in the ability to perceive the mind, creating an area of ​​hallucinations that blocks visual and auditory information.

[The goddess of the night from Greek mythology. She is Nikta or Nyukta in other translation options. In Japanese transliteration and English spelling – “Nyx”.]

Opponents who fall into this area fall into a state where they “do not see, even when they are watching” and “do not hear, even when they are listening.” And its effect is not limited to the vision and hearing of the physical body. It covers all information recognized by the mind as visual and auditory. As a result, the magician also becomes unable to recognize information about Eidos, perceived visually, and information about psionic waves, perceived audibly. In other words, not only five senses, but also the sixth sense is “shrouded in darkness.”

Antares used this magic to seal Minoru’s remote aiming and prevent a counterattack from magic. This provided Sargas with a safe environment to destroy the mental barrier to Minoru. That was their strategy.

As they planned, no counterattack came from Minoru.

Minoru climbed so far with this girl and should not have left her so easily. However, now he left the corridor and quickly walked away. At least, that was the magical perception of Antares and Sargas.

It was hard to think that Minoru would abandon his companion.

The magic of the “Nyx” of Antares did not aim at one specific person. It was intended to affect many people at once, by targeting a specific area of ​​physical space. Minoru realized this and planned to counterattack the enemy magicians, leaving this area and thereby regaining the ability of remote magic aiming…. So Antares interpreted the current behavior of Minoru.

“Chasing the target.“

In order not to subject his subordinate to danger, Antares began to move the hallucination zone created by the Nyx magic after Minoru.

“Yes, commander.“

Sargas also began to chase the moving Minoru as a target for magic.

◊ ◊ ◊

After Minoru activated the Parade, the magical darkness disappeared and the darkness of the night returned.

The magic that created the darkness was not interrupted. The area of ​​influence of magic, depriving perception from the side of the mind, shifted away from Minoru. Minoru did not leave this place, but only moved information about his location. After all, the enemy pursued Minoru informationally, and therefore moved the coordinates of the aiming of magic.

The speed of this reaction indicated a high level of magic skill of enemies.

And this high skill, on the contrary, made them immediately fall for the Minoru trick. As he expected.

Minoru subsequently activated the magic of psychic intervention with psionic light moving through the physical space as an intermediary.

The magic was called Phobos. This is magic that sends psionic light into the enemy’s magical field of vision, painted in colors that evoke the image of fear itself. There is also magic called Deimos, which does not require an intermediary and sends fear directly, but it was not in Minoru’s repertoire yet.

The Phobos effect is not lethal. However, people affected by it, regardless of their mental stamina, will be subject to indescribable horror, and their mind will noticeably weaken. Even those who have trained to resist fear cannot escape the fear brought by Phobos. And no matter how you try to suppress this fear, it will continue to come from the depths of your mind.

After activating Phobos, Minoru realized that the magic of the “voice” that attacked his mental barrier before activating the “Parade” was interrupted. The “darkness” that had previously swallowed Minoru also disappeared. Both magic no longer had any effect on Minoru. But for him, now it only meant that the operators could no longer support the magic aimed at the dummy created by his Parade.

◊ ◊ ◊

“Major Antares !? What happened!? Lieutenant Sargas, although you answer what happened !?“

The first lieutenant Spica screamed in a panicky voice, looking at the two men writhing in agony, who fell to the floor with the chairs on which they were sitting. It seemed to her that an attack of convulsions suddenly attacked the two.

“It was now… Phobos?“

Moaned Antares, waking up first.

“… I agree with you, commander.”

Agreed with Antares Sargas, clutching his hand in a sore head.

“It was an attack by Kudou Minoru!”

Spica’s cry implied the question “how is this possible !?”. In order to apply magic to an adversary that you cannot see physically, it is necessary to fix the “image” of the target in the information dimension. And “Phobos”, in particular, is magic that achieves the result by directly irradiating the enemy with psion light. And here we are not even talking about “Deimos”, directly sending images. For a remote attack by Phobos, it is necessary to accurately determine the coordinates of the target through the information dimension. This was impossible to do in a state of difficulty obscured by the magic of the Nyx.

“Major Antares, Lieutenant Sargas… well, and Lieutenant Spica at the same time.”

At that moment, a mental voice so powerful (not loud) sounded in the minds of these three that it seemed as though a head would crack from it.

“Mr. Kudou. Did you want something? “

With a grimace, Spica answered him. She decided that it would be better if she answered Minoru, and not just Antares or Sargas who had just attacked him.

“I think Raymond hears, too, so I won’t repeat it. I do not intend to take control of you.“

Spica’s heart nearly jumped out of her chest. It happened exactly what she was afraid of and what Antares was afraid of. They could not gain access to Minoru consciousness. No access – so you can not intervene. However, Minoru had access to their consciousness. If Minoru wants to, he will be able to correct her consciousness, and so that she won’t even notice it.

This was “only possible theoretically,” but in fact it was not known whether in practice one Parasite could take control of other Parasites. However, Spica and other soldiers of the USNA army could not ignore the likelihood that they could fall under the control of the Japanese Minoru.

“So never try to get into my head again. I do not want to control anyone. And I don’t want anyone to control me.”

“… Got it. – Antares answered him. “We will never do that again.” We apologize for our deed.”

“Apologies are accepted. For my part, I also apologize for my rude behavior.“

At this Minoru interrupted his mental connection.

“Rude behavior…?” – Groaned Antares.

The bitterness of defeat was present in his voice, as well as on the face of Sargas who heard him.

Chapter 6

Saturday, July 20th. It was the last day of the first semester, but Tatsuya was not going to go to school today. However, this did not mean that he was going to indulge in laziness all morning.

6:30 a.m. Tatsuya had breakfast at the already familiar company of Miyuki, as well as Lina, who had recently begun her usual everyday life.

“Onii-sama, here you are.”

Despite the fact that Miyuki soon needed to go to school, she managed to make sure that Tatsuya finished breakfast with her own brewed coffee.

“Thanks.”

Tatsuya said, took the cup and immediately brought it to his lips.

“Pleasant taste. It’s sad that for some time I won’t be able to enjoy the coffee Miyuki made.“

Hearing the words of Tatsuya, Miyuki returned to her place with sadness dropped.

And Lina, in anticipation of Tatsuya’s next words, on the contrary, straightened up unconsciously.

“Today, as planned, I will go to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands from Miyakijima.”

Senator Wyatt Curtis promised that the destroyer would approach Miyakijima this afternoon. Since then, Tatsuya no longer communicated with Curtis, but if the schedule he sent was valid, then tonight he will head towards Midway Island and Pearl and Hermes Atoll.

“…Yes.“

There was a slight bitterness in Miyuki’s voice. But she was connected not with the sadness of separation, but with concern for Tatsuya.

“Lina. I trust Miyuki to you during my absence.“

If we talk about anxiety, then about Tatsuya could say the same thing.

“Yeah, rely on me. And in return, take care of Ben.“

Tatsuya entrusted Lina with Miyuki’s guard, and Lina asked Tatsuya to save Canopus. They have exchanged these promises many times. Now they have confirmed them one more time, because Tatsuya will leave for Miyakijima in the first half of the day, that is, before they return from school.

“I’ll take care. And about Major Canopus, and about Minami.“

“Yes… Thanks, Onii-sama.”

◊ ◊ ◊

Miyakijima, 2 p.m.

Tatsuya stood on a pier in the port, recently built on the northeast coast of the island, and looked at the sea. The USNA helicopter destroyer “Matthew C. Perry”, although not visible beyond the horizon, was supposed to anchor in adjacent waters in the direction Tatsuya was looking. Tatsuya heard about this from the members of the island’s defense detachment (and they, in turn, learned about it from the captain of the destroyer by radio), and therefore went to the pier.

Matthew C. Perry is the destroyer promised three days ago by Tatsuya Wyatt Curtis. Who knows if there was any secret intention that the ship sent was named after the admiral who headed the so-called Black Ships, which made Japan open to international relations in the mid-19th century.

Tatsuya did not stand on the pier to try to see a ship that could not be seen from here. To his right, a small ship was preparing to be dispatched. On it, he was going to go to the destroyer.

“Shiba-san, the preparation is complete.”

Tatsuya said the captain of this ship after a little more than five minutes of waiting under the rays of the summer sun. A small ship was not a pleasure boat 10-20 meters long, but a ship with a total length of 50 meters and a crew of 20 people, originally built as a patrol ship. The fact that in the presence of 20 crew members, the captain personally came up to report, reflected the status of Tatsuya on this island.

And the reason was not only that he was from a direct family line of the Yotsuba family and was the bridegroom of the next head of the family. And the fact that he was a key figure in a plant under construction on this island with a Star Reactor. In addition, people who were on the island during the attack of the Parasite squad at the beginning of the month also knew about his real abilities, which allowed him to easily deal with the main enemy forces. Not everyone respected him yet, but no one else could ignore him.

“It will be a dangerous journey, thank you in advance.”

Tatsuya turned to the captain and bowed with a nod.

“I agree. All crew members are instructed to remain vigilant as we approach.“

The captain saluted Tatsuya. However, he probably didn’t fully understand what Tatsuya called the “dangerous journey.” Most likely, he considered this a common danger arising from the approach of an unarmed ship with a warship of another country.

Tatsuya did not explain his thoughts in detail, but simply bowed again and boarded the Rakyomaru*.

[Literally “The Setting Sun.”]

With the help of Toudou prepared and received from Yakumo official passport Tatsuya went through all the necessary procedures for leaving the country. More specifically, all legal procedures were completed at the time of receipt of this passport. The reason for leaving was “sending Taurus Silver (aka Shiba Tatsuya) to the USNA for cooperation in the field of technology”. If Tatsuya would participate in the Dion Project, then perhaps he would follow the same formalities. Of course, his current trip was completely unrelated to the Dion Project. Therefore, it was understood that his trip was allegedly connected with the need to provide the USNA as a union state with technologies related to a thermonuclear reactor.

And the destroyer “Matthew C. Perry” was allegedly sent to guard an engineer delivering valuable technology. According to the directional plan, the small ship Tatsuya and the destroyer SSHA will sail in parallel courses to the east, and upon reaching the Japanese Depression Tatsuya will transfer to Matthew K. Perry.

Thanks to Toudou Aoba’s help, there were no problems with the documents when Tatsuya left the country. From a legal point of view, the content of these documents was a big problem, since both the purpose and destination were a lie, but this issue could be dealt with even after it was discovered. And at the moment, there is no evidence of an attempt to cheat.

By the way, within the powers of the coast guard patrol ships there is a right to conduct inspections in territorial waters. At first glance, there was nothing strange in the fact that from the patrol ship “Aguni” to “Rakyomaru” an order was issued to stop for inspection.

The destroyer “Matthew C. Perry” was anchored just outside the territorial waters off the coast of Miyajima. The coast guard ordered Rakyomaru to stop when he was already approaching the border of territorial waters. The Aguni patrol ship set off from the west across the Rakyomaru, heading for Matthew K. Perry.

Tatsuya watched the Aguni approach from the Rakyomaru deck.

“Shiba-san, staying on deck is dangerous.” You better get back to the cabin… – The captain who approached from behind spoke to Tatsuya. His concern was not only in words, but also in his voice.

The waves at sea were really high. It seems like it was because of a typhoon moving north to west of the Ogasawara Islands. It wasn’t so strong that it was hard to stand on its feet, but from the captain’s point of view, Tatsuya was a newcomer to the sea. So it was natural for the captain to worry about the possibility of any incident.

“Well, I understand you.“

There was no need to increase the psychological burden on the captain. Therefore, Tatsuya obediently followed his advice.

The cabin provided by Tatsuya was on the port side. A guard ship was sailing from the west across the Rakyomaru heading north. In other words, approaching from the port side. Therefore, from the window of the cabin one could observe the situation.

However, Tatsuya would not have had trouble observing, even if his cabin was on the starboard side. He continuously monitored Aguni information with his “sight” from the moment he discovered it while standing on deck.

Both with ordinary eyesight and with an “Elemental look”, Tatsuya saw that the patrol ship was heading toward the ram, not about to stop.

“… Too good for a simple coincidence. There was a leak from the main house about the location of my cabin?”

Without any fuss, Tatsuya thought.

The Aguni patrol ship was sent to crash exactly into Tatsuya’s cabin.

And he looked at it and did nothing.

The nose of the patrol ship stuck right into the left-side area of ​​the Rakyomaru where the Tatsuya cabin was located.

With the development of anti-ship missiles and high-speed torpedoes, there was no longer any sense in installing heavy armor on warships. Warships of this century are equipped with the necessary minimum of armor, and rely more on anti-aircraft artillery, intercepted by torpedoes, stealth and mobility.

However, coast guard ships are designed to confront not anti-ship warplanes, submarines or unmanned torpedo bombers, but fleets of illegal immigrants, spy ships and pirates armed with small arms. They do not run the risk of stumbling strongly, but instead run the risk of being criticized by international human rights organizations if they sink a ship with a preemptive strike.

In cases where it turns out that the adversary was disguised as a refugee spy vessel of a military organization, such criticism is itself a reputational risk. And often it also brings damage that cannot be ignored diplomatically. After all, you can’t start an attack until you get evidence that the opponents are not refugees.

Therefore, at some point, the coast guard ships went the opposite way from the warships – they began to be equipped with armor capable of withstanding both a preventive attack from machine guns or anti-personnel missile launchers, and a desperate blow from the hull of the pursued suspicious vessel. In other words, they were equipped with a hull capable of sinking other ships with their own blow. Of course, they were not equipped with such an archaic thing as a ram on the nose. Yes, and the style of work of modern border ships was to block the escape route of a suspicious ship, getting in his way and not allowing him to move on.

However, “Rakyomaru” has already stopped. The guard ship was not supposed to ram a stopped ship instead of blocking its escape path.

“Rakyomaru” initially also began to be built as a patrol ship, but at some stage of construction it was decided to reassign it to a civilian vessel, so the amount of installed armor was noticeably reduced. His hull was not able to withstand the collision with the sturdy armor of the patrol ship.

On the port side, starting from the place where the Aguni’s nose hit, a crack began to spread. The original site of damage was above the waterline, but now the crack has spread below it. It immediately became clear to everyone that “Rakyomaru” would inevitably sink. And not just drown. It seemed that it was only a matter of time, that the ship’s hull would break in half.

The USNA destroyer, waiting about 500-600 meters ahead, lifted the anchor. He was about to come in to save the Rakyomaru team. The ships of the maritime police also left Miyakijima one by one.

“Aguni”, which caused fatal damage to “Rakyomaru”, in turn, backed up to move away from “Rakyomaru”. The eight-meter “Aguni” was not only an armored vessel, but it was superior in size to the fifty-meter “Rakyomaru”. His internal structures were also made of thicker and stronger components. On a surface inspection on the Aguni, no visible damage was visible.

From the point of view of common sense, gaining some distance, “Aguni” also had to join the crew rescue.

But only if this collision would be an accident.

However, being the closest to people floating in life jackets, Aguni did not even try to save them. He did not start braking, even when the distance to the “Rakyomaru” exceeded 50 meters. On the contrary, the small-caliber ship’s gun “Aguni” was aimed at the “Rakyomaru”.

But this gun, although it was called small-caliber, but its caliber was somewhat larger than, for example, on fighter jets. Its destructive power was excessive for such a small civilian ship as the Rakyomaru. For those who have not yet managed to escape from a sinking ship, this action was like a control finishing shot.

Flames erupted…. That’s just not from the gun’s barrel, but from its foundation.

It simultaneously exploded loaded ammunition.

A young man leaned out of an approaching helicopter.

His clothes and hairstyle were disheveled in the wind. In order not to fall out, he held on to the top of the doorway with his left hand. And his right hand with something like a gun, he pulled forward.

This young man was called Tsutsumi Kanata. He was a representative of the second generation of improved Bard series magicians, as well as a guardian of Shibata Katsushige, the next head of the Shibata family, a side branch of the Yotsuba family.

Kanata pulled a CAD-shaped pistol trigger in his right hand. From a point thirty centimeters from the tip of the CAD (the place where the guns blew) the beam of quantized ultrasound extended towards the guard ship .

The magic of the “Phonon Maser” oscillation system. It was this magic that, using a shot of heating ultrasound, led to the ignition and explosion of ammunition.

The just released second Phonon Maser, from a helicopter flying up from the other side, destroyed the second gun.

The guard ship began to turn around. He refused to inflict the finishing off “Rakyomaru” blow and decided to run away.

Of course, the Yotsuba magicians flying up from Miyakijima should not have missed it.

A twin-screw transport helicopter approached the Aguni from the west and fighters landed from it. Stepping on the Aguni deck, the magicians of the Shibata family, a side branch of the Yotsuba family, began the assault on the ship’s interior.

However, this did not stop the flooding of Rakyomaru.

Rescue operations around the sinking ship were carried out by the efforts of the approaching ships of the maritime police and boats launched from the destroyer “Matthew C. Perry”.

◊ ◊ ◊

Tatsuya has recently become widely known as an engineer of magic. The news that he was the victim of maritime terrorists was covered by many media.

An investigation by the maritime police, conducted in collaboration with the Miyakijima defense squad, found that the Aguni patrol ship attacking the Rakyomaru was captured by radical anti-magic movement soldiers and officers of the Japanese Navy Self-Defense Forces. The news reported that the anti-magicians from the Aguni patrol ship confessed to trying to kill Tatsuya along with the entire Rakyomaru crew.

Tatsuya was pulled out of the water five minutes after flooding the Rakyomaru. All his clothes were covered in blood. He was immediately taken to the resuscitation and intensive care unit (ICU) of the Miyakijima hospital.

Upon learning of Tatsuya’s injury, Miyuki arrived at the hospital an hour after the incident. People were crying when they watched a video shot through the ICU window, which showed how Miyuki crashed to her knees in tears when she saw Tatsuya lying in a medical capsule.

It also caused a wave of attacks on the media, filming such a regrettable moment on a hidden camera and shamelessly showing it on the news.

◊ ◊ ◊

July 20, 9 p.m.

There was a secret object in the ground near Miyakijima, which could be called an “underground port”, through which you could go to sea, unnoticed by reconnaissance satellites and surveillance systems on a stratospheric platform.

Now at the water’s edge of this port stood Tatsuya, dressed in the “Liberated Costume”, without a single wound.

For those who knew the true abilities of Tatsuya, there was nothing surprising. “Restoration,” one of two magic given to him at birth, can nullify all damage. Both at home and at others. Both living beings and inanimate objects. She does not heal wounds. She literally rolls back time to the state before being injured and implements a state in which time from that moment passed without being injured.

This magic does not just create an “injury free” state. It implements the “current image” of the object with a reference point at any time within the last 24 hours. For example, you can do such a trick as returning to a condition that was in the middle of a long-term serious injury, and thereby get only a small part of the original injury.

Tatsuya was really seriously injured during a collision with a patrol ship. First, he rewrote his injuries to such an extent that they were non-fatal, and went into the water along with the ship. And then he completely rolled back all his injuries after receiving help at the hospital .。

“Onii-sama.“

“Tatsuya.“

Two girls approached Tatsuya and simultaneously turned. Miyuki and Lina. For today, Lina has changed the color of her skin to light brown, and the color of her hair and eyes to black, but now she has already returned to her true appearance.

“Miyuki, it was a great performance. Thanks to him, all suspicions will become unfounded, and no one will bother me.“

In the hospital lay a doll, which is an exact copy of Tatsuya. If you look at it from the outside of the ICU capsule, it will be impossible to distinguish it from the original. People who know about Tatsuya’s “Restoration” will doubt this truth, that he’s supposedly still in the hospital, but there are hardly any daredevils who want to invade the ICU ward, where they showed Miyuki sobbing.

“It was not a performance.“

In response to Tatsuya’s praise, Miyuki pouted and turned away. On the contrary, Lina was surprised at her unusual behavior, and not Tatsuya.

“I really was in shock. Although all this was planned, it was a big mistake to think that I could remain calm when I saw your bloody figure.“

By the time Miyuki arrived at the hospital, Tatsuya had already taken off his bloodied clothes, replacing them with a hospital gown and bandages. Miyuki was not supposed to see a “bloodied figure.”

However, Tatsuya was not so stupid as to point out this inaccuracy now.

“… I’m sorry.“

“I understand that this was an effective way to show injuries. And I realize that lying in a hospital is in many respects a convenient state of affairs for you. But still…“

“I understood. I will never use this method again.“

Seeing the tears appearing in Miyuki’s eyes, Tatsuya hastened to make such a promise.

Miyuki clung to Tatsuya, her face buried in his chest. Tatsuya did not resist this, but, on the contrary, acquired Miyuki.

Shyly turned away Lina after some time as if lost her patience and, without turning her head, asked:

“… hey. Are you okay?“

“Do not worry.”

Tatsuya answered, and Miyuki pulled away from his chest at the same time.

Miyuki’s face looked refreshing.

And Lina’s face, on the contrary, looked as if she was unbearable to look at it. Lina knew that both Tatsuya and Miyuki were absolutely honest with each other, but she still did not leave the feeling of deceitfulness of the performance of planned harmony she saw.

“… So you’re going?”

Therefore, her manner of speaking seemed so unfriendly. However, she came here to conduct Tatsuya not just for company with Miyuki.

“Yes, as planned.“

“I see… I think you don’t have to worry about you, but be careful anyway.”

In contrast to Lina’s words, her voice was filled with undisguised uneasiness.

“Onii-sama. I will look forward to your safe return.“

Following her, Miyuki spoke, putting all her feelings into her words.

“I promise that I will be back safe and sound so that you can meet me with a smile.”

Tatsuya swore an oath in response to Miyuki’s plea.

“…What about me?“

Complained ignored Lina.

“But you yourself said that you can’t worry about me?”

“But I’m not worried!” – objected reddened Lina grinning Tatsuya.

Tatsuya and Miyuki giggled at the same time.

Lina was unlikely to intentionally create a similar situation, but she managed to get rid of the bitterness of a temporary separation precisely thanks to her.

“Okay, I went.“

Tatsuya got into a large car, the construction of which was completed just the other day.

It was a car in the form of an “SUV” (SUV), which differed from the previous version not only in increased to four seats, but also in the presence of a large number of installed military equipment.

Sitting on the driver’s seat, Tatsuya launched this large car that looks like a low SUV. Accompanied by the views of Miyuki and Lina, the aerocar sailed about ten meters along the surface of the water, after which it began to slowly sink into the water.

◊ ◊ ◊

After passing under water about 50 kilometers to the east, an aircraft driven by Tatsuya surfaced. Then Tatsuya switched it to flying at low altitude.

A distinctive feature of this new type of aerocar was not its increased capacity and load capacity, but improved stealth efficiency. Thanks to the artificial Relic (also used in the Star Reactor), and more precisely, its function of storing magic sequences, this low-power but highly effective magic of hiding electromagnetic waves and isolating sound waves can be continuously activated for up to 12 hours in a row, regardless of the abilities of magicians who are on board.

She had a low output power because the required result was achieved even with a weak force of intervention in the phenomenon. And it also meant that such magic was harder to detect. The new car had characteristics that made it difficult to detect not only sound, light, heat, radio and magnetic waves, but also psionic sensors.

However, even this car was not omnipotent. The possibility of space flight and scuba diving were only additional functions, and remained the same as in the first model. Whatever the stealth of the car, the risk of being detected under water was lower than when flying through the air. But Tatsuya still switched the mode to flying at low altitude, because it was not clearly known what negative consequences a long stay under water would have on a car.

After about five minutes of flight, he arrived at the meeting point. There he saw this giant emerge from under the water. Secret pride of the United States Navy SSA, atomic submarine aircraft carrier Virginia. Secret because this submarine warship was equipped with a nuclear reactor prohibited by international agreements.

The upper part of the outer shell of the Virginia has moved apart, exposing the flight deck. Tatsuya put an aerocar on her.

The destroyer “Matthew C. Perry” was a distraction.

And the Wyatt Curtis promised means of reaching the Northwest Hawaiian Islands was this nuclear submarine aircraft carrier.

The sliding doors of the outer shell closed. Following the instructions from the deck crew, Tatsuya led the aircraft into the hangar. When the crew showed Tatsuya the OK sign, he stepped out of the car. Two people approached him.

“Tatsuya-kun, it looks like you managed to slip away without a problem.”

The person who spoke to Tatsuya was Shibata Katsushige, and his companion was Tsutsumi Kanata. After catching the terrorists who captured the Aguni patrol ship, they mingled with the crew of the USNA destroyer, which joined the rescue operation, and thus boarded the Matthew C. Perry. From there, they were transported to Virginia by a destroyer helicopter.

“Katsushige-san. With you I feel calmer here.“

“We couldn’t let you go alone on a foreign warship. And it is not a matter of whether we trust our allies or not, but that you are a valuable fighting force of the Yotsuba family.“

“I understand.“

The fact that Katsushige together with the combat magicians of the Shibata family will be aboard the USNA warship delivering Tatsuya to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands was originally planned. As Katsushige said, their presence here was to ensure that, in the worst-case scenario, Tatsuya did not fall into anyone’s hands except Yotsuba. The list of what should be prevented included even his voluntary escape abroad.

Tatsuya should not have fled to another country while Miyuki remained in Japan, but there were still people in the family who did not understand this. Katsushige was sent not to defend Tatsuya, but simply to silence those who were against this operation.

However, this did not mean that he could not be “reinforcement”. The task of Katsushige and his people was “to prevent Tatsuya from falling into the hands of someone outside Yotsuba.” If it suddenly happens that on the island of Midway or atoll Pearl & Hermes Tatsuya falls into the hands of the American army, then a detachment of magicians of the Shibata family led by Katsushige will go to his rescue.

Here, the fact that he was “not isolated” was of great importance.

“I will be glad to work with you during this operation.“

“Mutually.“

In response to Tatsuya’s bow, Katsushige also made a slight nod.

◊ ◊ ◊

A little later than 10 pm, Yotsuba’s main house.

Throwing a bathrobe over her nightwear, Maya listened to Hayama’s report in her private room.

“Tatsuya-sama safely met with Katsushige-sama.“

Hayama, even now, in mid-summer, dressed in an impeccably seated three-piece suit, informed Maya of information obtained through mental telepathic communication.

“I see. I wonder if you managed to fool the forces of self-defense with this trick.“

“I suppose this should prevent, at least, open interference.”

“If so, then this performance was worth it.“

Having taken a sip of black tea with aroma of brandy, muttered Maya, the organizer of today’s incident.

Planting anti-magicians on Aguni, ramming them on Rakyomaru – all this was ordered by Maya to the Yotsuba magicians specializing in manipulating consciousness. Both Tatsuya’s hospitalization, and reporters with a hidden camera filming the sobbing Miyuki – the whole “plot” of this farce was written by Maya.

“By the way, what did they do with the anti-magistrate soldiers from Aguni?“

“Self-defense forces demanded their extradition. The police are resisting as best they can, but after a few days the transfer will take place.“

“And then the soldiers who committed the attack, before they fall into the hands of military investigators, commit suicide in order to show everyone their determination.”

“That’s exactly what is planned.“

“I wonder if Her Excellency Saeki will intervene?”

“This scandal occurred in the Navy. And Her Excellency is in the army. So, even if she tries to get involved in this matter, the necessary bureaucratic procedures should take some time.“

“And yet, let’s speed up the schedule. So… To begin with, let the criminals quickly “part” with the police.“

“As you order. I will organize it.“

“Yes thank you.“

Smiling gracefully, Maya nodded to the courteous Hayama who bowed.

Chapter 7

Sunday, July 21st. Starting today, summer holidays begin at the First and other high schools at the National University of Magic.

Usually at this time, the president of the school board was very busy preparing for the Nine School Tournament, but this year the Tournament was canceled, so a gap appeared in Miyuki’s schedule.

However, this was not the reason that Miyuki remained on Miyakijima from yesterday on the pretext of caring for Tatsuya…. After all, Miyuki would have done exactly the same, even if the Tournament had not been canceled.

Including now, when the allegedly hospitalized Tatsuya was actually not in the hospital.

◊ ◊ ◊

8 am. Miyuki’s mobile terminal, which had already finished breakfast and arrived at the hospital where Tatsuya allegedly lies, received an incoming call.

Miyuki was now in the ORIT observation room. It was forbidden to enter the ICU itself by everyone except doctors and nurses. Visitors can either watch what is happening in the ICU through the window leading to the corridor, or observe the patient through the monitor installed in the observation room. Miyuki’s mobile terminal was able to receive an incoming call because a wireless repeater was installed in this surveillance room. The walls of the hospital were made of materials blocking electromagnetic waves, so if Miyuki were in the corridor from which you can watch the ICU through the window, the call would not have passed. Electromagnetic isolation would not allow the incoming and outgoing communication of the terminal to work.

“Yes, this is Shiba.“

“Miyuki…“

A woeful voice was heard from the speaker, which was painful to hear.

“Honoka? Are you calling about Tatsuya-sama?“

Worried about having to cheat Honoka and the rest of her friends, Miyuki consciously answered in a calm voice.

“Actually, I wanted to call yesterday, but… Miyuki, that would be inappropriate, right?”

“Did Shizuku say that?”

“Yeah…“

Miyuki nearly burst into tears, and it was not a public game.

“…Thanks. For your concern.“

“Yeah…. So, how is Tatsuya-san…?“

“I don’t know if it would be appropriate to say “fortunately”, but nothing threatens his life. He still cannot leave the ICU, but if everything goes smoothly, then he will be discharged in about a week.“

Honoka Miyuki answered the question with a prepared phrase reflecting the “official version”.

“I see. Thank God…“

Contrary to Honoka’s words, her voice remained worried.

“If you worry, then maybe you will come?“

Miyuki’s question was not the result of deep thought.

“Can i?“

“Sure.“

However, when Miyuki responded with the consent of the interrogator Honoka, the thoughts in her head took on a complete form.

In general, even letting someone in to the hospital was undesirable. Tatsuya’s hospitalization was fictitious, and he himself was no longer in the country. In the hospital lay his exact copy, a doll. If you allow “visiting the patient”, then just not letting visitors get closer to the bed with a doll. That is why the option with ICU was chosen. However, the more visitors there are, the higher the risk of revealing this secret.

However, if not one of the school close friends comes to visit him, it will look unnatural. In addition, Honoka, Shizuku, Erica and the rest are unlikely to do anything that puts Tatsuya in an unfavorable position. In this, Miyuki completely trusted them.

“I’m glad someone is worried about Tatsuya-sama. Honoka, are you coming alone? There is no hotel on this island in the usual sense of the word, so I will prepare you a place where you can spend the night.“

“Um, can I call you back a little later?“

“Good.“

“Then, around noon.”

“Yes I will wait.“

Honoka completed the call.

Immediately after this, Miyuki called Yotsuba’s main house, not from a mobile terminal, but from a landline telephone equipped with an encryption device.

Fortunately, she was quickly connected to Maya.

Without any thought, Maya immediately allowed Honoka and other friends to be accepted.

◊ ◊ ◊

The news that Tatsuya was hospitalized after meeting with sea terrorists has become a hot topic of discussion in the Master Clans. Not to such an extent, of course, in order to convene an extraordinary emergency Conference of the Master Clans again, but a rather decent number of telephone conversations between the heads of different families took place.

But among them there were also those who had enough of their own affairs.

For example, the Ichijou family.

“Rei-chan*, let’s go have breakfast.“

[For those who did not know or forgot: the Japanese have no L sound, and all these Liu Li Lei and others they pronounce Riu Ri Rei, etc. I used to write Lei-chan, but since the author came up with such a long explanation (hereinafter), let the “nicknames” be through R, and the real name through L.]

“Thanks, Akane. Coming soon.”

Said the completed morning routine in the restroom, Liu Li Lei, a Strategic-class magician who escaped from the VAA in response to a proposal from Ichijou Akane, the eldest daughter of the Ichijou family. Yesterday, she moved from the Komatsu base to the Ichijou family mansion.

This decision was made at a meeting of the head of the Ichijou family, Ichijou Gouki, with representatives of the army command. This meeting took place the previous Sunday during a memorial dinner held after the funeral of Kudou Retsu. The meeting was also attended by the head of the Futatsugi family, Futatsugi Mai.

This measure was mainly designed to reduce the burden on Ichijou Akane, who was sent together with her older brother to Komatsu base for permanent stay there as a guard Liu Li Lei. The situation at the base was not so bad, but in the end it was decided that keeping a high school student literally locked up at a military base was not the best solution.

The move took place yesterday afternoon, because Masaki had a closing ceremony in high school yesterday. At the private high school Akane attended, summer holidays began 10 days earlier due to unstable martial law, but in all high schools of magic, including the Third, the holidays began only today. Masaki had been absent from his school for a long time, so nothing had changed for him because of the start of the summer vacation. However, for adults who love formalities, this seemed like a “very convenient moment.”

The Ichijou family mansion was divided into two sections: one in the western style for the family, and the other in the Japanese style in the spirit of ancient samurai houses for the reception of guests. The room in which Liu Li Lei was settled was in the Japanese section. They, along with Akane, walked down the long corridor surrounding the house and came to the family dining room.

“Good morning everyone.“

“Good, Reira-chan.”

Liu Li Lei, who welcomed everyone according to etiquette, was answered by Ichijou Midori, the wife of the head of the family.

“Good, Reira-san.”

Following her, Masaki answered. Gouki was not at home this morning.

Incidentally, this nickname “Reira” was an abbreviation from the Japanese reading of the hieroglyphs of the name “Li Lei”, which sounded like “Ri Rei.” When used in names, such a reduction is quite acceptable by generally accepted norms. Akane’s “Rei-chan” used was an abbreviation for the real name “Li Lei,” but the version of “Reira” was proposed by Liu Li Lei herself, who said: “It’s hard to pronounce my real name, right?”

No one laughed at her explanation that “it was one of the pseudonyms for penetration missions,” but Masaki and the others were indeed at a loss what to call her. In the end, Midori and Masaki decided to call her “Reira.” Gouki, by the way, used the appeal of “Liu-dono”, and Ruri, the second daughter of the family, simply reduced the “Reira” and got the same option as her older sister: “Rei-chan.”

So Liu Li Lei safely began to live with the Ichijou family.

However, society was not so kind to magicians that this peaceful life could last a long time. This is especially true for those who have the strength of the Strategic Class.

The brunch at Ichijou’s family began at 8:30. And the head of the Gouki family was currently summoned to the Kanazawa base of the National Self-Defense Forces.

The base commander, Colonel Asano, personally met Gouki in a grateful manner. For the Kanazawa base, cooperation with the Ichijou family was very important, and the base commander had no desire to do something like this challenge in a strict demanding manner.

“Thank you for arriving so early in the morning.”

“No, I arrived earlier than planned.” Excuse me.

Gouki answered Asano’s words, bowing too. He was a tough man, but not rude. In addition, this cooperation was important not only for Colonel Asano.

Asano led Gouki to the reception room, which was decorated quite luxuriously for a military base. As soon as they sat down, the conversation was immediately started with the phrase “let’s get down to business.”

“The General Staff is dissatisfied with the move of Liu Li Lei to my house, or what?“

Until yesterday morning, the place where Liu Li Lei was under protection was the Komatsu air base. A week ago, Gouki met with senior officials of the joint higher military department, managing all the individual military departments: land, sea and air. And today he was called here by the General Staff of the ground forces.

Liu Li Lei was a foreign soldier seeking asylum, so the intervention of the Ministry of Justice or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could still be understood. The army had no need to touch on this issue. More precisely, the army was not in a position to have the right to intervene in this matter.

“I sincerely apologize. They didn’t tell us anything either, except that the topic would be to resolve the issue of the magician of the Strategic class.“

“Will self-defense forces command me to give them my son?”

“They didn’t say anything to me.” But to be honest, I would like your son to become an officer in the self-defense forces. And this is not only my opinion. However, this should never be forced. I think, besides me, many understand this.

“Okay…“

Gouki, although he could not hide his gloom, but it was clearly not very serious. He arrived at Kanazawa’s base an hour earlier than scheduled to find out in advance why he had been called today. But now, at best, he will know everything only at the last moment and will not be able to tune in advance on the desired topic. However, he did not expect that he could prepare sufficiently effective answers, so his disappointment was not so strong.

The topic of conversation between Gouki and the commander of the base Asano changed to Asano’s hobby – fishing.

9:35 a.m. Arriving at the Kanazawa base was not an officer from the General Staff, but the commander of the brigade 1-0-1, Lieutenant General Saeki.

Not only Gouki seemed suspicious. The Kanazawa base belonged to the 10th division. Many base soldiers, including Commander Asano, bowed their heads inquiringly, wondering “why the brigade commander 1-0-1?”, But the base commander was Colonel by rank, and Saeki was lieutenant general. No one would say a word if Saeki would say that she came as a representative of the headquarters. Colonel Asano returned to his office, and opposite Gouki, Saeki sat instead.

Behind Saeki, a female officer about 30 years old stood. It was the escort of Saeki from Kasumigaura base, captain Kido Otoha. Saeki did not bring Kazama with her today.

“Thank you very much for making this journey for the sake of our meeting.“

Saeki bowed. Gouki did not even nod in response.

“Because it’s better than if you suddenly broke into my house. So, in what case did you call me so urgently?“

“Circumstances such that I needed to personally meet with you arose.“

As they both said, Saeki first asked permission to visit the Ichijou family mansion. To which Gouki replied with a categorical refusal, and as a result, the meeting was scheduled at Kanazawa.

Saeki was not offended that Gouki did not even try to hide his bad mood. In fact, this was not a serious manifestation of emotions, but an attempt to impose a sense of duty through complaints of coercion to something excessive. But Saeki understood this and knew how to use it.

“So, what, nevertheless, is your business?”

But Gouki was only thinking about it, if only everything went fine. He no longer complained, and instead asked Saeki his last question again.

“I was told that the topic of discussion will be the solution of the question regarding the magician of the Strategic class.“

“Yes. To get started, take a look at this.“

Saeki said, and at the same time, Captain Kido handed Gouki a paper folder with documents.

“… The Strategic Class magicians Control Agreement? Could you explain?“

“Sure.“

Saeki immediately answered Gouki’s question, asked with doubt in her eyes.

“Since the beginning of this year, Strategic and other large-scale magic has been used everywhere, as if breaking through some kind of dam.“

Saeki listed the names of the magic and the places where they were used: Synchronous-Linear Synthesis, Thunder Tower, Active Air Mine, Fog Bomb.

“The concern of people over large-scale magic is growing all over the world. This can turn into mass hysteria and unrest.“

“And to stop this concern, do you want to place Strategic-class magicians under the control of the International Magic Association?”

“No, each country will be controlled exclusively. And the Magic Association will be given the right to conduct inspections of controls over the magicians of the Strategic class.“

“… But is it actually the same as it has been so far?”

“If you now ask a state to part with its magician of the Strategic class, then you will not receive consent. Therefore, you can’t leave everything as it is now. I believe that the anxiety of the masses will be significantly reduced if, instead of the current conditions, when only the state has control, a system will be introduced that gives international guarantees for state control.“

“I see… But why should Japan take the lead by proposing all this?”

Gouki asked Saeki this question, clearly pronouncing every word with a serious face and gaze.

“To avoid suspicion of Japan.“

“What other suspicions?”

“Suspicions of territorial ambitions.“

Saeki’s answer was unclear. Gouki’s face showed that he did not understand the point.

“In our country at the moment there are two foreign magicians of the Strategic class: Angie Sirius and Liu Li Lei.“

“Angie Sirius?“

From the behavior of the surprised Gouki, Saeki realized that he was not pretending. She came to the conclusion that the Master Clans did not share with each other information about the escape of Angie Sirius.

“Angie Sirius is harboring the Yotsuba family.”

“Hmm…“

Gouki showed deep wrinkles on his forehead. It seems that this willful behavior of the Yotsuba family caused Gouki at the same time feelings of discontent and danger. That was exactly the reaction Saeki needed.

“In addition to these two, the other day your son was approved as the official magician of the Strategic class. In addition, in October the year before last, it was our country for the first time in the world that used the magic of the Strategic Class in the war.“

“… “Scorched Halloween”?“

“Although then it was a necessary measure for the sake of national defense, it is also impossible to deny that as a result, it was we who were the first to remove the seal from using the magic of the Strategic Class. That is why our country should take the initiative in resolving the issue of control over the magic of the Strategic Class.“

“Okay.“

Gouki nodded exaggeratedly.

“And then what do you want from my family?”

He asked this, looking directly into Saeki’s eyes.

“I would like your son Ichijou Masaki-dono, as well as Liu Li Lei, who is under the auspices of the Ichijou family, to agree to obey the government’s decisions to use Strategic class magic.”

“The question is only in the use of magic of the Strategic class? Without joining the ranks of self-defense forces?“

“To enter the service or not, they must decide for themselves.“

“And that is true.“

Gouki nodded again.

“So all that we have just discussed will depend on the personal opinions of Masaki and Lui-dono.”

“Ah… no… but after all…“

Saeki thought that Gouki thus wanted to abruptly end their conversation.

But she was mistaken.

“Let’s call them here, and let them decide.”

“Right now?“

“Yes. You don’t mind waiting a bit?

“…Good. I agree.“

Saeki had no choice but to agree to this proposal imposed by Gouki.

The conversation continued after about 30 minutes.

Now, in front of Saeki, Masaki sat in a school uniform and Liu Li Lei in a summer dress. Liu Li Lei was not in the form of an army of the Great Asian Alliance at her own request. And she borrowed the summer dress, of course, from Akane.

Akane was not with them. If there was even a tiny chance that Liu Li Lei would commit sabotage based on Kanazawa, then Akane, as a user of Nervous Disorder, would still be sent as escort. But at least in the Ichijou family everyone (including Gouki, Masaki, and Midori) thought there was nothing to worry about.

In addition, if Liu Li Lei acts at least a little suspiciously, then Saeki’s bodyguard captain Kido will without hesitation get and use a gun.

Saeki had to try and tell the second time for Masaki and Liu Li Lei the same thing she had recently told Gouki.

“… I understand what you are trying to say, Excellency.”

After hearing the story Saeki, said Masaki on her silent call to express their views.

“I agree with your opinion that we should take some measures to reduce people’s anxiety about magicians. In addition, I did not intend to use Ocean Blast on my own, so I do not think that my freedom will be somehow limited if the permission of the government is required to use this magic.”

“So Masaki-san, do you agree with the control of the magicians of the Strategic class?”

“Yes. However, as far as my career is concerned, at the moment I am going to enter the University of Magic, so I would like to ask you to postpone the question whether I should enter the military service or not.“

“That is enough for me.”

Saeki nodded in satisfaction when she heard Masaki answer.

“What about you, Lieutenant Liu?”

With Masaki’s consent, Saeki’s current goal has been achieved. Saeki believed that Liu Li Lei would eventually return to the VAA, so there was no point in asking her opinion right now. Saeki asked this question Liu Li Lei just like that, “between things.”

“I agree with what Masaki-san said.”

“… Do you mean that you maintain control of the magicians of the Strategic class?”

Saeki asked again, because Liu Li Lei’s answer was rather unexpected.

“If Masaki-san says it’s necessary, then I’m also for that.”

Liu Li Lei’s response was again a complete surprise for Saeki.

Saeki involuntarily looked away from her companion and stared at Masaki.

Masaki was at a loss for dumbness. His cheeks twitched, and his eyes ran from side to side.

“… Just for reference, Lieutenant Liu, what will you do if Masaki-san advises you to obtain Japanese citizenship and enlist in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces?”

“I will do as Masaki-san says.”

There was a sudden loud laugh.

Patient before this with a tight smile, Gouki, finally, could no longer restrain himself.

“Gee, I did not expect that my stupid son is capable of this.”

“Father!“

Masaki, in a panic, tried to stare at Gouki.

Perhaps this helped, since the next words of Gouki were already said in a serious tone.

“As they themselves said, let’s wait with the issue of cooperation with the self-defense forces before graduating from the University of Magic. The right to inherit family leadership, if necessary, I will transfer to one of the daughters.“

Gouki got up.

“So, I think we answered all the questions that need to be answered.”

“Yes. Thank you for your positive answers.”

Said Saeki and also rose from her seat.

Masaki and Liu Li Lei also hastily stood up to keep up with the situation.

◊ ◊ ◊

… This conversation took place on the evening of July 19, the day before Liu Li Lei moved to the Ichijou family home.

Venue: Liu Li Lei’s room at Komatsu base.

In fact, it all started as plain girlish chatter between Liu Li Lei and Ichijou Akane. But then…

“Rei-chan, are you in love with Nii-san?”

“… This is a rather sudden question. Why did you even talk about something like that?“

“Well, probably because it bothers me like a little sister.”

“Akane, do you have a brother complex?”

“Nah, nothing like that. After all, I have plans for Shinkuro-kun.“

“Is Shinkuro-kun the same Kichijouji Shinkuro-kun known as Cardinal George? I thought that he would be a colder person, like all these scientists, but it turned out that he was pretty kind.“

“Yes!… No, no, stop, now not about me. Rei-chan, so you fell in love with Nii-san?“

“… Do I have to answer?“

“I want to know!“

“… I think I like him. Masaki-san is a kind person.“

“Kind? Rei-chan, you have a different view of things. Most of the women who fell in love with Nii-san explain this by saying that “he is handsome” or “he is strong.”

“I saw a lot of strong people. But Masaki-san is the first man who really was kind to me. Other men had only feigned smiles, behind which they hid the desire to use me for their own purposes.“

“Oh… Well, good or bad, but Nii-san is not a liar.”

“On the day when my country sent a stripping squad, I was very glad of the sensitivity of Masaki-san, who said kind words about Lin-jie…, that is, about Lieutenant Lin.“

“I see, that means that was the beginning. But you know, Rei-chan. Nii-san is rather stupid in such matters, so if you seriously intend to get it, then nothing will come of it if you do not go on the offensive yourself.“

“To get… Do you mean to become lovers? But isn’t that too… vulgar for a girl?“

“No! I’m completely different, Rei-chan! Your explanation would be suitable for the 20th century! And now it’s the end of the 21st!“

“Yes…“

“Too much to crave something is also not good. Because men like “shyness” and “femininity.” They are dreamers.“

“Um… Do you mean dreamers*?“

[The author constantly inserts English words into the speech of the characters. In this case, Akane said “dreamer,” and Liu Li Lei asked again in Japanese.]

“Yes, they are the most. In particular, Nii-san seems to prefer the obedient and fragile women of the typical Japanese type, “Yamato-nadeshiko.” “I will follow you in everything” approximately this approach should give a result.“

“… I get it. I’ll try. But Akane, does that really suit you?“

“What suits you?“

“I heard that Japanese girls do not like when someone falls in love with their older brothers, and they are trying in every possible way to interfere with this.“

“Where does such information come from!? Yes, and I already said! I have no brother complex!“

“Sorry.“

“Well, there are such girls too. But personally, I will support you, Rei-chan. I don’t want to see Nii-san kicking a horse*.

[Some old Japanese phraseological phrase. I didn’t find the exact value, but roughly that means a bad person (it all started with some kind of samurai who died from the fact that he was kicked by a horse).]

“A horse? Lays down?“

“But this is an absolutely impregnable height.” Almost impossible efforts will be required.“

“?“

“Therefore, Rei-chan, try your best!“

“Yes… No, that is, thank you, Akane. I will try to.“

Thus, behind this sudden “attack”, which took Masaki by surprise today, lurked this conversation between the two girls, which took place two days before…

◊ ◊ ◊

Saying goodbye to Ichijou Gouki, Masaki, and Liu Li Lei, Lieutenant General Saeki, accompanied by Captain Kido, left Kanazawa’s base. They boarded a helicopter, waiting for them at the helipad, and flew to Kasumigaura base.

When the base from which they flew out disappeared over the horizon, Saeki leaned back in her seat and took a deep breath.

“… Your Excellency, are you, nevertheless, unhappy with some point from the answers of the Ichijou family?”

Captive Kido spoke with indecisive tone to Saeki.

“No, I got even more than I expected.”

In contrast to this answer, Saeki’s face did not look pleased.

Seeing Captain Kido’s dubious face, Saeki sighed again.

“… Also from the Ten Master Clans, the same age… I thought they wouldn’t be much different.”

“Are you talking about the differences between Ichijou Masaki-kun and Shiba Tatsuya-kun? Indeed, compared to Shiba-kun, Ichijou-kun is more like a typical teenager and seems more immature.“

“Captain, you’re a little wrong.”

Saeki, in a strict tone, rejected the impressions expressed by Kido.

“… No, at first glance, it looks like that, but…“

It seemed to Saeki that her tone was stricter than she wanted, so she lowered her voice to soften it.

“Ichijou-kun is much more aware of what should be a priority for the state. Ichijou-kun is more mature in that he understands his responsibilities.“

“This is also reflected in the differences between the positions of the Ichijou and Yotsuba families, right?“

“Agree. Instead of looking at the Ten Master Clans as one group, we should evaluate them separately… No, maybe it would be better to say that we must crush each of them separately?“

“These are the basics of tactics.“

Seeing Kido’s serious face giving her joke, Saeki smiled slightly.

But there was absolutely no smile in her eyes.

◊ ◊ ◊

Fujibayashi Nagamasa, defeated by Tatsuya and captured by Kuroba Mitsugu’s subordinates, was admitted to a hospital in Kofu. This hospital was under the control of the Yotsuba family. Although his injuries were treated here, it could be said that he was actually imprisoned here.

His daughter Fujibayashi Kyouko visited his ward on July 21 at 11 a.m.

“Welcome, Lieutenant Fujibayashi.”

“… Tsukuba Yuuka-san, as far as I remember?“

Nagamasa had a separate personal chamber, but it turned out that at the moment he was not alone there. Yuuka knew that Kyouko would be arriving today, so she came to meet her in the room.

“I am honored that you know me. I would like to discuss something with you and your father… Do you mind?“

It was the usual polite request for permission, but the situation did not allow to refuse.

“Yeah I do not mind.“

Actually forced, Kyouko announced that she agreed.

This room was quite spacious, and on both sides of the bed were simple chairs for visitors, so two people could easily sit opposite each other for a conversation. Kyouko sat in the chair farthest from the entrance, and Yuuka sat in the chair closest to the entrance.

“So. For me, as an outsider, it will be rude for a long time to interfere with the conversation between father and daughter, so I will immediately inform you of the Yotsuba family’s demand.“

Kyouko tightened her whole body. In contrast to her, Nagamasa relaxed in a half-sitting position in his bed with a raised back.

“The Yotsuba family decided not to disclose the crimes of Kudou Makoto and his accomplices.”

Kyouko, stiff with tension, flinched sharply. It was obvious that one of Yuuka’s “accomplices” was Fujibayashi Nagamasa.

“But in return…“

Ignoring Kyouko’s reaction, Yuuka continued to voice the demand.

“… we would like Lieutenant Fujibayashi to witness the activities of Lieutenant General Saeki to help enemies.”

“Helping enemies… what are you talking about?“

With pale face said Kyouko to Yuuka.

Her face like that was tantamount to admitting that she “knew something.”

“Well. For example, the case when, knowing about the penetration of Lu Ganghu into the country, she ignored it.“

Kyouko caught her breath.

“You know about other cases, right?”

Perhaps Yuuka was bluffing. The Yotsuba family might not have been aware of the “other cases,” and in the Lu Ganghu case, they probably did not have evidence.

But Yuuka was so agile from the very beginning seized the initiative in the conversation that Kyouko couldn’t say it with confidence.

“… I would like to discuss this with family members.”

Kyouko planned to buy some time to gather her thoughts.

“We have already received the consent of the head of the Nagamasa-sama family and the eldest son Tetaro-sama.“

But Yuuka anticipated even that.

“… Please allow me to at least talk a little with my father.”

“I see. I’ll wait in the hallway. Call me when you are done.“

Yuuka left the ward, but her last words put such pressure as if she said “don’t take too long.”

Exactly the very moment the door closed, Kyouko exhaled deeply.

“Otou-sama.“

Kyouko stood up and turned to Nagamasa.

“Is it true that you agreed to a deal with the Yotsuba family?”

She stood and waited for the answer of the father.

“…It’s true.“

Nagamasa answered only after three seconds. There was no hesitation or guilt in his voice.

“…“

Kyouko did not know what to say for a while, choosing between complaints and reproaches.

“I understand that in a situation where you are a prisoner, you simply had no choice. However…“

The Yotsuba family demanded that Kyouko become a traitor. In a sense, disclosing the dishonesty of a superior officer may not be considered a betrayal of the state. But justice can be applied not only in the right way. Kyouko did not think that the Yotsuba family would use her “testimony” to achieve righteous goals.

“I would agree to the demands of the Yotsuba family, even if I were not a prisoner. The loser obeys the winner. This is our rule.”

“But then I will become a traitor!”

Kyouko’s words seemed pretty insensitive. She took it as if he didn’t care what position she was in.

“You are not only a soldier, but also a person from the Fujibayashi family.”

“You want to say that I have to leave the army!?”

“I will ask in response. Is Lieutenant General Saeki worthy of such complete fidelity that you are ready to become an accomplice to her fraud?“

“That…“

At this moment, it was not the faces of her superiors or colleagues that arose in Kyouko’s head. And the words of Yotsuba Maya about the fact that she “wastes herself and deserves a better application.”

She first felt (more precisely, realized) doubts about the fact that she should be a soldier at the moment when in February this year she heard a message about the death of Chiba Toshikazu, with whom she had a friendly relationship after a couple of conversations. As a chain reaction, this led her to a memory of how death parted her from her fiancé, and how she could not understand the reason why she entered military service.

However, at the same time, she had the feeling that she had doubts about her work much earlier.

“It all started to seem strange… last August.”

It all started with the fact that the plans to conduct an experiment with parasitic dolls at the Nine Schools Tournament were revealed, which forced Kudou Retsu this time to truly resign.

Her grandfather Kudou Retsu and Saeki were longtime rivals.

“After the plans of Oji-sama were revealed, Her Excellency Saeki seemed to have broken the chain…”

Was her self-control weakened by a victory over a long-standing rival? Kyouko experienced from personal experience that since then there have been many more orders for her, clearly beyond the responsibilities of the commander of one brigade. Many of Kyouko’s assignments were clearly illegal in the past, but over the past year she has experienced many times the feeling that now these assignments have begun to go beyond the bounds of illegality.

“Kyouko. Does Lieutenant General Saeki deserve your loyalty as boss? Is the 1-0-1 brigade a higher priority organization than the Fujibayashi family?“

“… Everything wrong should be corrected.“

Kyouko made such a compromise with her feelings.

“There are only two cases that I can testify to. But one of them is not helping enemies.“

This was the answer given by Kyouko to Yuuka.

Yuuka, seated in the same chair as before, nodded in satisfaction.

“The first case is a silence about the penetration of Lu Ganghu.“

“Yes. Kyouko nodded in response to Yuuka’s reminder.“

“And what is the second?“

Kyouko no longer wondered if Yuuka knew of other cases, or didn’t.

“The materials and funds for the development of parasitic dolls were provided to the Kudou family… Uncle Makoto… Her Excellency Saeki.”

“Are you talking about some other parasitic dolls besides those stored frozen in the former Ninth Laboratory?”

Yuuka did not show a single drop of surprise at hearing Kyouko’s confession.

Kyouko was never able to determine if Yuuka knew about this beforehand or not…. But she already did not care.

“I’m talking about body blanks for parasite dolls, released since September last year. Her Excellency was considering replacing infantry units with units of parasite dolls.“

“But the Ministry of Defense didn’t approve the development cost?“

“The army command also did not approve.“

“In other words, bribery is obvious.“

“Right. I did not think about finding out money routes, but if you study them in more detail, the names of military-related enterprises with which Her Excellency has close ties will come up.“

“Thank you for such details. We will study the sources of bribes.“

Kyouko nodded silently and expressionlessly at Yuuka’s words.

◊ ◊ ◊

“… So Shizuku, Erica, and Saijou-kun will come too?”

“Yeah…. Or not?“

“No problem. Total four people from tomorrow morning for a day, right?“

“Yeah, be kind.“

“Accepted. I will prepare everything.“

“Thanks. Well, then, see you tomorrow.“

“Yes I will wait.“

Now it was past two in the afternoon. Immediately after completing the conversation with Honoka, Miyuki opened the address book and extended her finger to the button of the communication device with the administration office to ask for four people to prepare accommodation places.

However, a moment before she touched the touch panel, the melody of an incoming voice call began to play.

The message “incoming call from Saegusa Mayumi-sama” appeared on the screen .

“Yes, this is Shiba.“

“Miyuki-san? This is Saegusa Mayumi.“

“They haven’t talked for a long time, senpai.”

“Yeah, a long time…. This time something absolutely terrible happened. Miyuki-san, are you okay?“

“Thank you very much for your concern. But, as they say, there is no silver lining. Tatsuya-sama’s life is not in danger, and after recovery there should be no complications or side effects.“

Mayumi was very careful choosing words. And Miyuki’s answer seemed very strong-willed to her. Their dialogue up to this point was a normal conversation between a kohai whose fiancé had an accident and a senpai who was worried about the two.

“What about Tatsuya-kun’s Restoration…?” This time it didn’t work?“

“The power of Tatsuya-sama is also magic, so he cannot use it without being conscious… I think Tatsuya-sama could not even imagine that he was attacked by a self-defense patrol ship.“

“That’s it. Unlike superpower, magic cannot be used unknowingly. You cannot build magic unless you make your subconscious mind work with your consciousness…“

“Yes.“

“And one more thing… Ummm… Miyuki-san, if you allow me, can I visit Tatsuya-kun?”

“But Tatsuya-sama is still not able to receive visitors…”

“Well, since it’s completely impossible, then so be it.”

“No… well, I get it. Do you mind if I consult with family members and call back?“

Mayumi, and without further explanation, understood that by the above-mentioned Miyuki “family” was meant Yotsuba.

A girl from the Saegusa family requested a visit to the groom of the next head of the Yotsuba family. Mayumi considered it natural that this should be asked for permission from the head of the family.

“Yes of course. I will wait.“

“I’ll try to call back as soon as possible.“

They both ended the conversation in a completely natural manner, without showing any awkwardness to each other’s words and tone.

Miyuki headed to the hospital telephone room, leaving Lina in the ICU observation room. The telephone room was divided into six separate sub-rooms – “telephone boxes”. Using an ID card, she entered one of these booths, equipped with a direct video link to Yotsuba’s main house.

This completely soundproofed little cubicle did not have chairs. There was a console near the entrance, and a 40-inch panel was hung on the opposite wall.

Miyuki entered three different ten-digit numbers on the console.

Maya herself appeared on the wall monitor immediately.

“Both myself, I apologize for the frequent calls.“

“Don’t worry about it. Is someone asking for a visit again?“

“Yes, I just got a call from Saegusa Mayumi-san.“

Miyuki was not at all surprised at such an exact conjecture. At present, the “visit to Tatsuya” was the first thing that came to mind when Miyuki called the main house, and even if the phone was tapped, there was nothing wrong with that.

“Saegusa’s family, then?”

But Maya, on the contrary, showed signs of surprise.

“This is hardly a personal visit… I wonder what their purpose is?“

Miyuki agreed with Maya that Mayumi’s request was most likely the intention of the head of the Saegusa family. But it was clear that Maya did not require Miyuki to answer this question.

“… Okay, good.“

As usual, Maya herself came to some sort of decision.

“Miyuki-san, you can agree to her request.”

“Are you sure you should invite Saegusa-senpai?”

“Yes. Miyuki-san, I charge you to deal with Mayumi-san.“

Maya did not set any conditions for the eldest daughter of the Saegusa family to enter the stage of this performance.

“I’m listening.“

For some reason, Miyuki was not surprised.

“How did everything go?”

Lina asked Miyuki, who returned to the observation room.

“I got consent. And without any special conditions.“

Lina was very surprised at Miyuki’s answer.

“Uh? But Mayumi, the Saegusa family are Yotsuba’s rivals?“

“We are not hostile to each other, but also not friendly.“

It seems that Lina’s concern only grew when she saw Miyuki’s impartial attitude towards this matter.

“This is normal? After all, it would be bad if, due to this leak, everyone finds out that Tatsuya’s hospitalization is a fake.“

“Everything will be OK.“

Miyuki said and smiled at Lina.

“Miyuki… You have some kind of creepy, unkind smile.”

“How rough.“

Lina’s face froze, but the voice of Miyuki’s reply was not particularly angry.

“Leaking information about fictitious hospitalization would really be a problem… But if it is senpai, then everything will be in order. If you politely ask, she will be silent.“

“… Yeah, okay. I’m sure it will be so.”

Lina muttered in a convincing tone, seeing that Miyuki’s smile had become even more piercing. Lina was clearly afraid to continue discussing this topic.

Ignoring Lina’s unnatural behavior, Miyuki called the administration office to ask for guest rooms for five people.

◊ ◊ ◊

Arriving on the way to the General Staff of the Army Command, Saeki eventually returned to Kasumigaura base at the beginning of the fifth hour of the day.

Entering the commander’s office, Saeki immediately called Kazama. Despite the fact that today was Sunday, Kazama appeared quite quickly.

“Lieutenant Colonel, do you know the news about Shiba Tatsuya ‘s hospitalization ?”

On the move, Saeki asked Kazama, who stood in front of the table.

“Of course, I am in the know.“

“And what do you think?”

Although the question was quite abstract, Kazama knew exactly what Saeki was asking.

“It is hard to believe that he is really seriously injured. Tatsuya has that self-healing ability.“

Saeki made a stern face and asked Kazama the following question.

“If hospitalization is false, then for what purpose is this done?“

“Perhaps the most likely cover is for an attack on Midway Prison. And perhaps he has already left the country.“

“The intelligence department also has doubts about this incident.“

“Did you go to the intelligence department?”

The buildings of the General Staff of the command and the army intelligence service were within walking distance of each other. Kazama decided that Saeki did not get this information by telephone, but by going straight there.

And at that moment, Kazama felt a certain uneasiness.

“ Your Excellency. Of course, I doubt it, but have you really told the intelligence department about Tatsuya’s “Restoration”?“

Tatsuya’s “Restoration” is a far greater secret than his “Decay”. This was agreed upon in a contract with Yotsuba.

This agreement was terminated at the very moment when Tatsuya refused the status of special officer. However, the obligation to maintain confidentiality remained even after the termination of the contract. Although these were not legal obligations, and there were no documents left, but precisely because it was the wrong side of the world living outside the law, trust was of great importance.

“… The intelligence department launched an investigation yesterday.”

Saeki did not answer Kazama’s question.

Kazama realized that it was useless to ask again, so he did not bother with further questions on this subject.

“Did you manage to successfully penetrate?“ – he asked instead.

“I heard that they sent a scout disguised as a reporter… But to be honest, the security there seems completely impregnable.“

“It is shameful, of course, that the army intelligence department can not surpass the civilian. But such is their opponent. Nothing to do about.“

Kazama criticized his colleagues as if it was none of his business.

Saeki’s face showed irritation.

“Lieutenant Colonel, we must not “do nothing.”

“But the real problem is that a forced investigation is impossible. If you look at the situation with an open mind, Tatsuya is a victim.“

“Does this incident itself seem to you unnatural? How could it have happened so by chance that the entire crew of the patrol ship would turn out to be anti-magicians?“

“And what if it was not an accident, but a planned attack of a fleet fraction that supports anti-magic movement? Or, for example, some kind of “faction against the Ten Master Clans”?“

Saeki fell silent.

Not only Kazama, but anyone would be clear, this did not convince her.

“Your Excellency… Sorry for being rude, but are you not too hostile to Tatsuya?”

“I am not hostile to him.”

Saeki’s denial was so harsh that it seemed like a kind of natural, reflex reaction.

Kazama decided not to argue any further.

“…I apologize.“

“… If you find out anything about Shiba Tatsuya’s activity, then report it immediately.”

Saeki did not say “forgive” in response to Kazama’s apology. And there was no reaction to that statement by Kazama, other than denial. It was clear that her last sentence was said solely in order to get rid of an uncomfortable topic.

“I understand you.“

“That’s all I wanted to talk about. You are free to go, lieutenant colonel.“

Hearing Kazama’s response, Saeki ordered him to leave as permission.

Chapter 8

July 22, 10:00.

One after another, two VTOL’s with deflected rotors landed at Miyakijima Airport.

Their simultaneous arrival was only an accident, and was not agreed in advance.

The first plane was the property of the Kitayama family, and it included Shizuku, Honoka, Eric and Leo.

The second belonged to the Saegusa family, and delivered Mayumi.

All five got into a nine-seater van, and they were taken to a hospital located in the eastern part of the island. To the hospital where Tatsuya was supposed to lie.

By the way, when four from the first plane met Mayumi in the airport terminal building, not only Honoka, Shizuku and Leo, but even Erica greeted her. When Mayumi was still in First School, Erica did not even try to hide her estrangement from her, but it seems that something has changed in her head over the past two years…. Perhaps this was due to the misfortune that overtook her older brother Toshikazu.

However, it could not be denied that an awkward atmosphere arose between the five… between the four and one. But it was only an age wall between people from one year of study and an older person. Among these four kohai’s, Honoka had the most contact with Mayumi. However, even she became a member of the school council only after Mayumi resigned as president. A Erica and Leo, although they fought with Mayumi during the Yokohama incident, but they did not contact her as much as their other classmates.

However, all their awkwardness disappeared without a trace as soon as they arrived at the hospital.

Miyuki and Lina met five guests in the ORIT observation room. Making sure the door was locked, Miyuki suddenly “dropped the bomb.”

“Thank you very much for coming to visit Tatsuya-sama. However, Tatsuya-sama is not at this hospital.“

“Uhh!?“

Honoka had the most over-emotional reaction. Others also showed surprise by issuing various variations of “E?”, “What?” etc.

“… Miyuki-san, what do you mean?”

Leo asked in a low voice, one of the first to move away from the shock.

“Tatsuya-sama was indeed involved in this incident, and was seriously injured. However, he fully recovered when he was brought to the hospital.”

“…That’s it!”

Eric shouted in a whisper, hitting her hand in hand.

“It’s that healing magic, Restoration, huh?” Which was with Tatsuya-kun.

On the day of the Yokohama incident, Miyuki revealed Mayumi, Honoka, Erica, and Leo the secret of “Restoration.” Shizuku was not with them then, but later, with the permission of Tatsuya himself, Honoka told her about this.

It seems that initially none of them, except Mayumi, even thought about the possibility that “Tatsuya healed his wounds,” but now everyone seemed convinced.

“… Miyuki guided us all with her crying look.”

Erica’s tease was most likely intended to hide her own embarrassment. But her words definitely reflected the emotions of everyone present. The appearance on the TV of Miyuki, sobbing, leaning against the window and wall separating the corridor and the ICU, had an effect on everyone, forcing him to abandon any doubt.

“Please don’t say such shameful things as if I were a liar.”

Protester Miyuki looked rather embarrassed rather than choking.

“Ah, yes, exactly.“

At this moment, Lina, present here, spoke, the appearance of which was changed. Her voice sounded like she was remembering something.

“There were no fake tears. It was very difficult to calm Miyuki upset, even though she had to know that the wounds were healed.“

Miyuki confusedly averted her eyes from the five staring at her.

“… Tatsuya-sama was lying on the ICU bed, completely bandaged. How can you keep calm by looking at this?“

“…That’s it.“

Unexpectedly, the first to accept Miyuki’s excuse was Leo.

“Sometimes it happens that the head knows that everything is in order, but the heart is still restless. This alone shows how deep Miyuki-san’s feelings for Tatsuya are.“

“… Wow, even Leo could figure it out.”

““Even me” is already too much!“

Erica inserted her tease as usual, and Leo snapped as usual.

Thus, the tense atmosphere was discharged.

“… And then where is Tatsuya-san now?”

“He left to do secret work.“

Miyuki did not give a concrete answer to Honoka’s question.

But Honoka did not specify. She did not lose interest, but simply restrained herself from poking her nose into her own business.

Mayumi turned out to be the one who “stuck his nose” in this place the deepest of all.

“So, such a large-scale performance is needed to cover up the absence of Tatsuya-kun? But are you sure you should have told me this? The eldest daughter of the Saegusa family?“

The families of Saegusa and Yotsuba are warring clans. This is no longer a secret not only for the Ten Master Clans, but also for any people who are at least a little familiar with the circumstances. Of course, Miyuki knew that too. She was chosen as the next head of the Yotsuba family.

“I do not want to continue the conflict with the Saegusa family.“

Miyuki’s response was based on her position as the next head of the family.

“Besides, I’m not going to be hostile towards you just because you are from the Saegusa  family. But in response I ask: Senpai, will you tell about the absence of Tatsuya-sama to someone from your family or even to someone outside the family?“

“I’m not going to do something like that.”

Mayumi answered the tone as if she was coaxing herself.

She lowered her eyes and paused.

“…Yes. I have no intention or motive to do anything unfavorable for Tatsuya-kun or Miyuki-san.“

After these words, Mayumi very quietly whispered: “I did not know that my cunning father had planned something like that.”

“Okay, Miyuki-san. Tatsuya-kun is now being treated inside the ICU. He is not yet able to talk, but nothing threatens his life. He just sleeps, and there is no fear that he will not wake up. It’ll do?“

“Thank you for understanding.“

Miyuki bowed to Mayumi.

Looking up, Miyuki turned to Erica, standing next to Mayumi.

“… We will do exactly the same.”

Answering Miyuki, Erica turned around and looked at the others, “isn’t it?”

Under her gaze, the other three — Honoka, Shizuku, and Leo — nodded at the same time.

“But why?“

“Do you mean why I revealed the truth to you?”

Miyuki asked Shizuku about the missing part of the question.

“The less people know the secret, the more secure it is.”

Shizuku expressed the meaning of her question with such a phrase.

“It is not always so.“

“In what sense?“

Miyuki shook her head in the negative, which Shizuku bowed her head inquiringly.

“When people are only refused, it strengthens their doubts and fuels the desire to get to the bottom of the truth. If it were possible to completely isolate the secret from the public, then no one would even know about it. I am not saying that it is impossible to keep secrets for a long time, but I think that it is rather difficult.“

“So you think a little leak is normal?”

“In no case. I will not allow Tatsuya-sama to interfere with either the government, the army, or the media.“

Miyuki did not raise her voice, but from her strong-willed tone, Shizuku slammed her eyes.

“It’s easier to make people believe a lie than keep secrets. That is my opinion.“

“Why do you think so?“

Not only Shizuku wanted to hear Miyuki’s explanation.

Mayumi, Honoka, Erica, Leo, and even Lina all looked at Miyuki with interest in their eyes.

“With Lina, I kind of discussed it yesterday,” Miyuki thought, but did not laugh at that.

“Well, in order to continue to keep a secret, you need to make all people believe that “something like that does not exist.” And if you make several people, or even several tens of people, believe in a lie, then it will begin to spread further on its own.“

“Miyuki… Yesterday I thought so… but you are an evil person.”

“Truth? I do not think that anywhere in the world there are people who do not resort to lies.“

Miyuki with a calm face protested to the surprised Lina.

Six people, including Lina, muttered in their minds: “This is not the point!”

“… In other words, Miyuki-san, do you want us to become these very “people who believed in lies?””

With an understanding face, Leo voiced the “right answer.”

“I do not ask you to actively spread the “lie.” But if they ask you, I would like you to answer that Tatsuya-sama is in the hospital.“

Miyuki’s answer was intended not only for Leo, but for everyone else.

“Of course I agree.”

Honoka was the first to respond. Following one after another, consenting responses from Erica, Leo, Shizuku and Mayumi followed.

◊ ◊ ◊

Due to the hype caused by yesterday’s reporting with a hidden camera, the entrance to the hospital where Tatsuya allegedly lies was closed to everyone except those who had anything to do with him. Any visits from this moment were organized only after prior authorization.

The media, as usual, tried to refer to “freedom of the press”, but this time public opinion was on the side of the hospital.

It seems that the influence of the “crying beauty” was too strong. Regardless of the truth (the report was organized by the Yotsuba family), everything looked like the television crew themselves had done it themselves.

But reporters are unlikely to give up so easily. For them, “freedom of the press” should be above all. Perhaps this will sound like an exaggeration, but the more they were limited, the more their spirit of struggle flared up…

In other words, neither the newspaper men nor the television people gave up. And several spies from various intelligence agencies got mixed up in this crowd of reporters and photographers.

A medium-sized cruise boat drifted off the coast of Miyajima . He belonged to one nationwide television network, but he had on board agents of the army intelligence service. No, it was not the capture of the television crew’s army by the army. The intelligence department was one of the subcontractors of the country’s largest television network. And it goes without saying that the representatives of the television network did not even know about it.

“How is it going?“

The team leader, who was silent until they moved away from the island, asked the members of the team who were also silent about the results.

“Useless. I have to admit that penetration will be extremely difficult.“

“Hackers have not achieved anything either.“

“It’s difficult to get in touch with the hospital staff , so the search for those who want to cooperate will take much longer.“

With each adverse report, the manager’s gloomy face became even more gloomy.

“This hospital has an extraordinary level of security. Other organizations did not seem to find any clues either.“

“Well, at least there’s some consolation.” – muttered the head in response to a report by a team member who oversees the activities of other intelligence agencies.

The head looked out the window. The evening sun was covered by clouds covering the entire western sky. There was still some time before sunset, but it was almost dark. The typhoon’s path deviated westward, that is, it only moved away from yesterday, but the waves only intensified.

“Now is only the second day. It is too early to raise the white flag.”

The manager said in a confident tone, staring at the faces of all the assembled team members.

“For now, let’s go back to the hotel on Miyakijima. But if the weather improves at night, then be prepared for shipping at night. Until then, everyone is free.“

“Understood.“

The members of the team answered the leader in unison.

Everyone stood up and went to their posts.

The cruise boat headed for Miyakijima, located 50 kilometers west.

◊ ◊ ◊

Toward evening, Mayumi, Honoka and the rest moved into guest rooms prepared in the eastern part of the island.

At the moment, only two remained in the hospital: Miyuki and Lina.

“The cruise boat of the army intelligence department departed towards Miyakijima.“

A report was sent to Miyuki’s mobile terminal from the Miyakijima Naval Police…. The police on this island were formally civil servants, but absolutely everything in this police station were magicians subordinate to the Yotsuba family.

“Okay. There is no need to touch them.“

“I understand you. We continue to observe.“

The call was interrupted so abruptly that it could be considered rude. Miyuki understood that this was not due to the fact that she was treated scornfully, but to prevent wiretapping, so she was not particularly offended.

“Miyuki, what did they say?”

Asked Miyuki Lina, who is with her for the company in the ORIT observation room. Lina did not seem to question the situation when adults ask for instructions from a girl of her age.

“It looks like the ground forces ship has sailed to a neighboring island.”

“The ground forces ship…? The Japanese military is so scary.“

“In Japan, there is also the Marine Corps. Only for some reason it belongs to the army.“

“So the marines are on this ship?”

“No, hardly. This is the work of people from the intelligence department, so I don’t think it is a marine ship.“

“Ara, the detrimental influence of sectionalism in Japan is exactly the same as in the States.“

“Agreed.“

Miyuki smiled at the amazed Lina…. But it was a bitter smile.

“I wonder if all the agents are now gone?”

Changing tone, asked Lina.

No. Miyuki shook her head, making a serious face.

“It seems that agents of the NSU are still working hard at sea.“

“Wow! What courageous guys. After all, soon a hurricane will come here.“

Miyuki involuntarily smiled at such a reaction of Lina, not seen behind her earlier in Japan.

“Not a hurricane, but a typhoon. In addition, according to the weather forecast, another two days are left before the typhoon approaches.“

Erased the smile from his face, straightened Miyuki Lin.

“The day after tomorrow is coming soon.”

Objected Lina, also making a serious face.

Miyuki meant that “the typhoon will not come tonight,” but the fact that the typhoon will come the day after tomorrow really was “very soon.”

“…Yeah.”

Miyuki agreed with a bitter smile on her face. Lina responded with a very proud face.

Chapter 9

The watch on the atomic submarine carrier Virginia was transferred to the local time of the destination.

And now this watch showed the time: exactly 17:00. Tatsuya left the cabin and headed for the bridge, accompanied by a guard / surveillance soldier assigned to it.

Nobody forbade him to enter the bridge.

“Tatsuya.“

On the contrary, the captain of the ship, Colonel Michael Curtis, turned to him extremely friendly.

He was the nephew of Wyatt Curtis and Tatsuya’s most influential assistant during this mission. But Captain Curtis liked Tatsuya even without it.

“We reach Midway Island in about an hour.“

“I see. Everything is on schedule.“

Tatsuya came to the bridge to confirm the start time of the operation, but the captain answered him before he even managed to ask.

“Preparation does not take much time. How about a conversation over a cup of coffee?“

As Captain Curtis said, preparing for a sortie should not take more than thirty minutes.

“Yes, with pleasure.“

Tatsuya had no reason to refuse.

The captain broke into a smile, called his senior assistant and informed him that he would leave the bridge for a short while.

As a result, Captain Curtis led Tatsuya to the captain’s cabin.

The captain’s cabin of Virginia was so spacious that you won’t even think that you were inside a submarine. Before the war, Virginia itself was an ordinary giant atomic carrier. Her internal space was of appropriate size.

They sat at a table opposite each other, and the captain personally made coffee for himself and Tatsuya. Although the coffee was brewed automatically, its taste was excellent. It was an automatic coffee processor with AI. Probably, the opinion that brewed coffee automatically loses in taste to brewed by hand is a prejudice.

“Tatsuya, the time is almost here.”

“Yes. I don’t even know how to thank you and the senator.“

“I understand that you wanted to give priority to Pearl and Hermes, but…”

The tone of Captain Curtis was a little apologetic. He was clearly a sincere and kind person.

“… We have already agreed on everything at the very beginning.“

“Don’t worry about anything,” Tatsuya meant.

“Really. That was the deal. Therefore, you do not need to belittle your abilities.”

Said the captain and smiled broadly.

From this sincere smile, even Tatsuya slightly raised the corners of his lips.

“In addition, I can see at close range the combat abilities of the developer of flight magic. I’m so excited.“

The captain’s eyes were filled with passion bordering on lust.

“Flying infantry and flying military equipment is a revolution in military technology. With the presence of flight magic, even the methods of warfare themselves began to change. The presence of magicians in the war will only grow. At the same time, the thinking of commanding officers is also fundamentally changing. And I have the honor to be on the scene of these changes. For me, as for the military, this is endless grace.“

“What I’m trying to do is my personal battle. I did not think that it would be useful to someone from a tactical point of view.“

“No, we are here to change our awareness of what is happening. “Battle” is a group affair. The strength of an individual cannot be compared with the strength of a group of people. This principle has not changed, even when magic was used in battle. “Warriors, standing thousands of people” existed only in fiction. Even the most prominent soldiers had limited mobility.“

Captain Curtis realized that he was overexcited, and broke off to take a sip of coffee.

“Even the cavalry could not instantly move from one edge of the battlefield to another. Using motorcycles doesn’t help much either. Although many other devices have been developed that increase the maneuverability of the infantry, but being bound by the restriction of movement on the ground, in the end, all these tools were only a substitute for horses. The magic of flight has broken through this limitation.“

“But even with flight magic, you won’t be able to move instantly.”

“In comparison with conventional means of transportation, this can be called one instant.“

This was Tatsuya’s real opinion, not his modesty. However, Curtis insisted that it was a “fallacy.”

“Everything in the world is relative. Nothing ends in an instant. The mobility of flying infantry is “instantaneous” in the sense that it exceeds the response speed of ground units. A powerful unit suddenly appears right in front of you and turns the situation on the battlefield. For front-line commanders, there is no more terrible nightmare. And if this, moreover, is a single soldier, then ordinary common sense cannot be applied to him at all. Because it’s like a war against Superman. In this case, all prepared measures become useless and you need to come up with new ones from scratch.“

Captain Curtis grinned, this time with an insidious grin.

“Therefore, I look forward to your battle. After all, it will serve as a model for developing response tactics.“

◊ ◊ ◊

Even after the atomic submarine aircraft carrier arrived at the design point and stood in standby mode, Tatsuya did not advance for some time. But it was conceived.

Tatsuya started July 22 at 19:30 local time. An aircraft driven by Tatsuya flew into the dark post-sunset sky.

Midway Island is not one island, but a formation from Sand Island, Eastern Island and many very small islands. So perhaps it’s better to call it the Midway Archipelago.

Midway Prison is a large facility on the eastern half of Sand Island. Tatsuya saw this object with the naked eye 10 minutes after departure.

There was no anti-aircraft fire.

“The stealth system seems to be demonstrating its design effectiveness.”

The main improvement of the new aircraft was the stealth function. It was implemented on the basis of an artificial Relic, also used in the Star Reactor. The relic retained a sequence of magic that prevented detection / recognition, and allowed to deploy advanced stealth magic around the car body, regardless of the driver’s magic skills.

The continuous operation time at this stage of development is about half a day. When the total operating time is 12 hours, for further use it will take 12 hours of downtime. However, the time limit is reset if there is a pause of 12 hours or more before the time limit is reached. For this mission, this was enough.

Tatsuya landed an aerocar on the northwest coast of Sand Island. And from there, he headed towards the prison buildings through the “Liberated Costume”. The liberated suit was also equipped with a stealth function, but not as good as in the new model of the aircraft, where the artificial Relic was used. When Tatsuya tried to fly over a high fence encircling the prison, a piercing alarm sounded suddenly.

The turret mounted on the roof of the prison began to turn.

Tatsuya heard from the Mitsuya family that only the Fleming launchers and the personal armament of the soldiers were only available from Midway Prison. However, now something else was turning, aiming directly at Tatsuya…

“Pulse laser gun!”

It was an anti-aircraft laser gun, going far beyond the use of anti-infantry.

Tatsuya did not have time to think that he might have been deceived.

He activated his magic exactly at the same moment when he recognized the type of weapon.

A moment before the pulsed laser gun fixed Tatsuya with her target, the outline of the turret disappeared, scattering in flashes of lightning.

Tatsuya’s decomposition magic “Mist Dispersion” has decomposed the barrel of the gun and the pedestal on which it was mounted to the level of chemical elements.

And lightning flashes were caused by the fact that the electric current supplied to the gun for charging the laser lost the conductor through which it moved and randomly scattered through the gas from the metal elements.

“It was dangerous…”

The bulletproof function of the Exempted Costume saves only from physical bullets, and does not have heat resistance sufficient to withstand a high-energy laser. There was a risk that at a certain speed of aiming and shooting, you can get into an endless cycle of shooting through the body and its “Recovery”.

The endless loop of damage and self-healing for Tatsuya, able to repair any damage, is the situation he should be most wary of. If you continue to use “Recovery” without stopping, then sooner or later the zone for calculating magic will no longer be able to withstand continuous activation, and will overheat. Or it won’t be able to activate Recovery at all. He will withstand dozens of times, but if the bill goes hundreds of times in a short period of time, then the probability of activation failure immediately rises. This was one of the few ways to overcome Tatsuya’s invulnerability.

The sense of danger made Tatsuya’s perception aggravate.

Information about all anti-aircraft and anti-personnel weapons mounted on the roof and walls of the entire complex was instantly and simultaneously displayed in its “field of vision”.

“Mist Dispersion – Activation.”

He activated the previous “Mist Dispersion” reflexively only with his own efforts.

And this time, he relied on the help of a CAD built-in suit to “lay out” 12 turrets at the same time. They also included anti-aircraft installations, for which Tatsuya was now in the blind spot, as well as automatic gun crews installed inside buildings.

All interception weapons installed at Midway Prison, including Fleming’s anti-ship launchers, disappeared without a trace in five consecutive activations of decomposition magic.

Hovering in the sky above Midway Prison, which had been deprived of its weapons, Tatsuya began to “look” for the building containing Canopus.

“Information” by Benjamin Canopus Tatsuya got in February this year, when he prevented him from grabbing Gu Jie. As expected, while there was half of the Pacific Ocean between them, Tatsuya could not determine the location of the person he had contacted only once. But now, knowing what to look for on this island, on a specific territory, Tatsuya easily discovered it.

On this territory, about 1×1 km in size, there were ten strong-looking (from an unassuming point of view) buildings.

“Five buildings among them are prison blocks. One building is the administration office, two buildings are living quarters for personnel and soldiers, one building is an armory, and another is a training center.”

Information about the person sought – Canopus – was found in the very center of this entire territory. The right place was on the third floor of a three-story building, at its southern end.

Tatsuya once again looked at information about the internal structure of the aforementioned building.

At a short distance from Canopus there were ten armed soldiers. These were prison guards. It was not clear whether they had gathered in one place to protect Canopus, or to prevent his escape?

Canopus was the only prisoner on his floor. On the first and second floors there were eight prisoners. Of course, they were all male magicians.

“It goes without saying that my invasion is already known. If you go from the roof, they will probably meet me.”

There was also an option to outwit them and break in from the first floor. But now every second counted. And his mission was not only here. His real goal, in general, was the Pearl & Hermes base.

Tatsuya decided to attack from above, according to the expectations of the guards.

Weapons of muzzle looked at Tatsuya coming down from heaven. This short-barreled weapon resembled a PDW (Personal Self-Defense Weapon).

For soldiers guarding the building, preferring ease of use instead of power was a smart choice. In addition, when the enemy is Tatsuya, even in high power there is no point.

The weapon fell to pieces and fell on the roof of the building even before at least someone had time to shoot.

Caught in an unexpected situation, the two soldiers froze for a moment, but soon quickly reached for a waist holster.

But faster than they could do it, Tatsuya pulled a pistol-shaped CAD from his belt and aimed at them.

Silver Horn custom modification “Trident”.

At the same time as Tatsuya pulled his trigger, through holes appeared in the joints of the arms and legs of the two soldiers.

The soldiers made muffled screams, and fell in different directions – one on the back, the other face down.

He used Trident instead of the built-in CAD suit because he knew about surveillance cameras.

The wounds that neutralized the soldiers looked like traces of passing through invisible bullets.

In order to create the impression that this invader with a hidden face and dressed in a completely black suit is using just such magic, Tatsuya decided to use CAD in the form of a pistol, which can be easily connected with these “invisible bullets”.

Taking one of the pistols from an unconscious soldier, Tatsuya went through the door leading down the stairs.

There was no ambush on the way from the roof to the third floor.

But he did not even have time to take one step down from the roof, as a certain sixth sense (not the “Elemental look”) – an intuitive sense of danger – made him sit down and put his left hand in front of his face.

The field for modifying the phenomenon, unfolded around his palm, spread out a bullet that flew in from the wall opposite.

It looked as if a bullet ricocheted off this wall, but there was no bounce sound.

But Tatsuya was not surprised and not puzzled. Along with the decomposition of the bullet, he considered the properties of magic activated by the enemy.

This bullet was wrapped in a power reflective field the size of this bullet. It was magic, endowing the properties of bouncing, like a rubber ball, but it reacted only to certain substances. In this case, the installed condition for the rebound was assigned to drywall, which here covered the walls and ceiling.

A bullet flew right at the side of Tatsuya crouching on one knee with a sharp sound. Next, without any pause, the next bullet crashed one step lower than he stood. Apparently, when aiming, they relied to some extent on chance. Was the first shot then, which hit exactly the target, also an accident?

The fourth bullet did not arrive.

Tatsuya did not shoot back.

From below, one could hear the surprised screams and sounds of falling onto the floor of PDW falling apart.

Of course, this happened because of Tatsuya.

Confirming audibly the temporary neutralization of the enemies, Tatsuya ran down the stairs.

Enemy soldiers during this time managed to snatch pistols. Obviously, the local soldiers were quite well trained, as they did not remain stunned to stand in a stupor after an unforeseen situation. However, by the current moment they still did not have time to aim.

Tatsuya pulled the Trident trigger.

Holes appeared in the limbs of three first-row soldiers trying to shoot. Modern medicine can heal such wounds (cut nerves), but for this it is necessary to undergo treatment in a hospital. A simple first aid will not help restore limb mobility. Moreover, from the monstrous pain caused by the decomposition of nerves, the victims of this attack lose consciousness. And even if someone manages to avoid the loss of creation, then usually no one is able to maintain clarity of thinking.

As if not paying attention to the comrades who had lost their combat readiness, two soldiers from the second row sent cylinders to Tatsuya, reminiscent of large flashlights.

Tatsuya recognized these psionic waves with which he was irradiated from these “flashlights.”

“Psionic wave noise preventing readout of an activation sequence exiting CAD?”

He not only felt, but understood this.

“An anti-magician device that mimics the nature of Antinit. But the effectiveness is lower than that of a real Antinit.”

Tatsuya erased psionic noise by activating decomposition magic without using CAD.

Almost immediately after that, he pulled the trigger of the Trident.

Blood poured from the extremities of not only the two soldiers who aimed “Activation Silencers” at Tatsuya, but also from the extremities of the remaining three soldiers of the defense detachment.

Before Tatsuya, no one else was left standing. As a precaution, he scanned the bodies of all members of the defense detachment with a “look” and, using decomposition magic, made all their weapons and explosives unusable.

After that, Tatsuya magic carved a lock on the door of Canopus’s cell.

The Trident, which was in his right hand, he holstered back. In his left hand, he continued to hold a previously selected pistol.

Tatsuya opened the door to the cell, but did not go inside, but remained standing still.

About ten seconds passed.

From the far corner, located in a blind spot when viewing from the entrance, a tall figure emerged and stood in front of Tatsuya.

This man’s chin was smoothly shaved, and his brown hair was neatly combed. There were no signs of exhaustion in the light brown eyes. In it was not noticeable that “fray”, which is usually associated in people with the word “prisoner”.

– Major Benjamin Canopus, as I understand it?

Tatsuya knew who this man was. It was just necessary to somehow start a conversation.

– Right. And you?

“I came at the request of Senator Wyatt Curtis.”

– Grand?

Tatsuya was momentarily confused by an incomprehensible replica of Canopus, but in the end he decided to interpret this word as an abbreviation for granduncle (cousin). This may have been a respectful treatment used by the family, but Tatsuya had enough understanding that it refers to Wyatt Curtis.

“I was asked to tell you this.”

Tatsuya handed Canopus the ring handed over to him by the captain of the Virginia.

Canopus looked for a few seconds at the emblem engraved on the signet of the ring, after which he put it on the little finger of his left hand.

– And really.

Canopus nodded slightly. The ring seemed to be enough to prove whose messenger Tatsuya was.

“I was asked to make your jailbreak.”

– Okay.

Canopus did not ask about the reasons and the identity of Tatsuya. Tatsuya decided that Canopus apparently could not go against Wyatt Curtis’s directions.

Although Canopus did not refuse, he remained in place and asked:

“If this does not hurt, then could we also take my subordinates who were captured with me?”

– Accepted. Do you know where they are?

“I know.” I will hold.

– Good. Here, take it.

Nodding in response to Canopus’ offer, Tatsuya handed him a hand-picked pistol on the roof.

-… I’m sure?

– This will not replace you with a full-fledged weapon device, but will come down as a temporary weapon of self-defense.

Canopus preferred weapons devices combining CAD and swords in the form of Japanese katanas. After Tatsuya’s words, he frowned slightly because of a sense of caution that Tatsuya might know his fighting style.

– Thanks.

But in the end, Canopus answered only this, and followed to the stairs.

Canopus led Tatsuya to another prison building, located 200 meters from the previous one.

They were not attacked along the way. Canopus made an extremely surprised face when he saw that the stationary turrets were point wiped out, but Tatsuya who was walking behind him did not see this.

The building was about the same size as the one in which Canopus was contained, but there were much more cameras. Apparently, the previous building was intended for senior officers, and this building – for prisoners with a lower status.

Canopus moved along the corridor, from time to time gesturing about the found signs of someone’s presence. So they got to the stairs and went up to the second floor. In the end, they stopped in front of a door located approximately in the middle of the corridor of the second floor.

– Here.

Silently nodding back to Canopus, Tatsuya pulled out a brass knuckles knife.

During a wave, a decomposition magic field was formed on the cutting edge.

The knife cut through the door lock without any resistance.

– Molecular divider? No…

Without responding to Canopus’s murmur, Tatsuya threw open the door to a room more like a guardhouse than a prison.

Walking past Tatsuya holding the door, Canopus cautiously entered the cell.

– Commander!

– Ralph.

But Canopus’s tension eased when he heard a voice coming from the back of the room.

A slender young man with short-cut red hair hurriedly ran to Canopus. It was Ralph Algol, the second lieutenant from the first detachment of the Stars, who was directly subordinate to Canopus.

Canopus slowly followed toward the young man.

When there was only one step between them, Canopus stopped and held out his hand for a handshake.

But the young man suddenly pushed off the floor and rushed past Canopus.

He tried to attack Tatsuya with a knife in his hand.

However, immediately after the figure, looking like Ralph Algol, began its rapid advance, a psionic stream rushed into it.

The face of the young man has changed.

The physique and hair color remained the same, but he now had the face of another person.

– Gram demolition !?

Canopus’s voice was pleased loud for a whisper.

The effect of “Interrupting the spell”, released by Tatsuya, was not limited to removing masking magic from a person who turned out to be not a young man, but a middle-aged man. The gait and posture of this man also became somewhat insecure.

Tatsuya lunged with his knife in the direction of a man who had lost the ability to control his body normally due to psionic flow.

He hit this man in the case, but not with a knife blade, but with a titanium alloy brass knuckle embedded in the handle. Having received a blow into the solar plexus, the man rolled his eyes and collapsed to the floor.

– Looks like this is a member of the Coal Sack squad…

Canopus turned the fallen man over and frowned, recognizing him.

Tatsuya heard him, but did not ask for an explanation of what the “Coal Sack” was.

The situation did not allow this.

Through the remaining open door, something the size of a fist flew into the chamber.

– Grenade !?

The cry of Canopus described in a word what Tatsuya saw.

Canopus knocked over the table and lay down behind it.

And Tatsuya just threw the grenade away with magic. The lack of magic power activated by the artificial zone for calculating magic using the Instant Call, in this situation was more than compensated by the excessive activation speed.

But the enemy was also strong. The grenade thrown away by Tatsuya, flying through the doorway, bounced back inside the cell. And she did not bounce off the door, because it was open. The fact was that in the doorway an anti-object barrier was deployed.

Tatsuya activated flight magic.

Explosion power is inversely proportional to the cube of distance. Before the explosion, they usually lie on the floor to avoid direct contact with fragments, but if we take into account the distance to the epicenter of the explosion in the current situation, then the distance from the grenade falling to the floor to the ceiling was greater than the distance that would be if it lay on floor.

In addition, the process of forming an air cocoon, reducing air resistance during flight, was built into the flight magic spell. This cocoon was strong enough to withstand a headwind relative wind at a speed of several hundred kilometers per hour. Therefore, one could expect that he would serve as a shield against a relatively weak explosion of a hand grenade.

However, Tatsuya’s quick wits in this case were not particularly useful.

The grenade exploded. The blast wave was not so strong.

Instead of breaking into fragments, thick black smoke began to dissipate in all directions.

“Smoke grenade.”

Tatsuya abruptly canceled the magic of flying and jumped to the floor. If the enemy’s goal was to block his field of vision, then remaining at the ceiling, he was an easy target.

The results of the smoke analysis were displayed on the screen integrated in the visor of the helmet.

… non-lethal…

… There are no paralytic components…

… There are no tear components…

… there is little damage to the respiratory system and the cornea…

“In other words, it’s just a smoke screen to block the view.”

Tatsuya felt the disappearance of the anti-object shield that blocked the doorway.

The field of view displayed on the visor of the helmet automatically switched to infrared mode. However, the silhouettes of people trying to get into the camera were not visible.

But Tatsuya’s “look” at the same time caught the “image” of a person approaching quickly and soundlessly.

The silhouette, reproduced according to information, wore a stealth suit, equalizing the emitted infrared rays with the temperature of the outside air. And to ensure visibility, ultrasound was used. This man seemed to be a particularly advanced master, since he did not wear special glasses for visualizing ultrasound. Just like a batman.

But in any case, since this person sent a weapon at us, you just need to counterattack. Tatsuya repelled an enemy knuckle in his right hand with a blade, after which he grabbed the enemy by the forehead with his left hand. And he activated vibrational magic, which sent a wave of vibrations through the palm of his left hand.

This wave of vibrations was produced by an artificial zone for calculating magic, unable to deliver high power. In other words, an injury will not be fatal.

But there was enough strength to cause a concussion.

The “bat-man” had his legs buckled, and he collapsed to the floor. Given that he received a blow to the head, such a drop looked strange, but Tatsuya did not even pay attention to it.

First of all, because he did not have time for this.

Following the fallen man, the next enemy was approaching. More precisely, not even one or two. There were eight of them in total.

“Is that already above my limit?”

Until now, Tatsuya fought so as not to kill the soldiers of the defense detachment. The work entrusted to him was the rescue of Canopus and the destruction of the Parasites. He was not asked to kill the American soldiers who were not infected with Parasites. Although there was no ban on killing, Tatsuya did not want to produce unnecessary discontent.

However, this was not a priority over mission accomplishment.

Outside, a cannon shell flew into the chamber. It was an iron core, similar to a shot put competition. However, it flew to Tatsuya in a direct trajectory, and not in an arc, as in competitions. Its speed exceeded 200 km / h. There were no signs of magic working during the flight. It seems that the shell was accelerated by magic only at the time of the shot.

Also, describing the arc, something flat, reminiscent of a card, was approaching it. At first glance, it was just a piece of plastic, but the edges of this card were covered with high-strength resin, sharpened to perfect sharpness. Here, too, the work of magic was not visible. Probably, at the moment of throwing this card, its speed, angle and rotation were set by magic so that the trajectory of free movement intersected with the given target.

Both of these attacks were designed to make it difficult to detect with magic.

Tatsuya “laid out” the core and the card, and shot into the hearts of all eight attackers.

Sensing the intent of the murder that came from the floor in front of him, he threw a knife in that direction .

It was a “batman” who, despite a concussion, tried to shoot Tatsuya with a spring-loaded dart. A knife cut through his throat, causing a mortal wound.

The very first loser – the red-haired man – did not move. It seems that the battle has come to an end.

Causing a faint airflow, Tatsuya blew out a smoke screen into the corridor, which by that moment was still in the cell.

– Completely destroyed charcoal bag, not even giving them a normal attack… – With undisguised surprise in his voice murmured Canopus, has risen over the tumbled down the table.

“The charcoal bag is the name of the team of these guys?” – asked Tatsuya at Canopus, just to keep the conversation going.

– Yes. Squad Charcoal bag from Illegal MAP. One of the best squads for illegal killings in the States…

Canopus looked at Tatsuya not with admiration, but with wariness in his eyes.

“Shouldn’t the killers attack suddenly?”

Tatsuya meant that you should not be afraid of killers attacking directly in the forehead. But this was not a manifestation of modesty or, conversely, complacency. This again was only an attempt to keep the conversation going.

– Better tell me, the Coal Sack detachment has only ten people?

This is the only thing that Tatsuya has asked now. Simply put, he wondered if there were still enemies.

– Yep. It also concludes another Illegal MAP unit called the Cone Nebula, but their specialization is seduction. It is unlikely that they will be sent in the current situation.

– Accepted.

Tatsuya scanned the camera with an “Elemental look.” He did this to make sure there were no other traps or ambushes, but he discovered something else.

– Major. Under the bed is someone bound. This, incidentally, is not your ally?

Canopus rushed to the bed and peered under it.

– Ralph!

He pulled a red-haired youth from under the bed – Ralph Algol. But he showed no signs of awakening, even when Canopus tried to shake him. Perhaps he was pumped up with some kind of drug.

Canopus untied Algol and put it on his left shoulder so that the upper half of his body hung down from behind, and he clasped the legs hanging in front of him with his left hand.

– It seems that nothing threatens his life, but wouldn’t it be better to leave him here?

– No, take it with you.

Canopus did not listen to Tatsuya’s advice.

But Tatsuya did not particularly insist on his words. He did not try to convince Canopus.

“The subordinate you wanted to pick up, only one?” “Tatsuya asked instead.”

– Sorry. There is one more.

– Good. Let’s hurry.

Canopus nodded in response to Tatsuya and ran with Algol on his shoulder.

The second lieutenant, Ariana Lee Shaulu, stationed in the female sector of the prison, they saved without any noticeable resistance. Unlike the second lieutenant Algol, the second lieutenant Shaul was not connected or unconscious.

Tatsuya suspected it was a trap. But was there a trap or not, in which case his actions would be the same.

– Let’s steal the car. Is there anything in mind?

It was necessary to somehow get to the place where the aerocar was parked. It was possible to take off with a “load” of three passengers, but mobility was greatly reduced. It was unclear whether Canopus and Shaula would be able to protect themselves from shelling without CAD, and Algol still hasn’t woken up. Therefore, I would like to avoid the departure using the flight function of the Exempted Costume.

– In front of the arms depot is a general purpose vehicle. – Shaula answered the question of Tatsuya. “I saw him from my camera window.” Here.

Anticipating the question “how do you know this,” Shaula tried to lead Tatsuya and Canopus behind her.

– Wait. Point out the direction behind me.

But Tatsuya stopped her, overtook, and closed his back.

Shaula’s face showed that she was confused. She could not understand why, at the first meeting, he had completely opened before her, turning his back.

She looked puzzled at Canopus. But Canopus only shook his head and did not answer.

Canopus guessed the true identity of Tatsuya. Information about Tatsuya was imprinted in his memory in the form of a person who constantly showed vigilance of the highest category. Therefore, he was even worse than Shaula, understood why Tatsuya now shows such a lack of vigilance…. However, in the case of Tatsuya, this meant only that he could “see” including behind him.

As expected, there were soldiers in front of the armory.

About fifty people. Amount equivalent to one platoon. Too much for ordinary security. Obviously, they were waiting for Tatsuya and those whom he led. Judging by what he “saw,” among them were even quite powerful magicians.

They were on the other side of the building and were not visible with physical vision. However, not only Tatsuya saw them, but they also noticed Tatsuya’s group. The entire platoon of soldiers simultaneously sent the gun barrels forward.

The weapon of each of them was not a simple rifle, but a weapon device. The unfolding sequence of activation belonged to the magic of a movement system called “Bend trajectory.” This magic once bends the trajectory of a flying object. In other words, bends it. The main scope of application is shooting at enemies hiding behind shelters.

Tatsuya pulled out the Trident and pulled the trigger.

Bullets fired from weapons devices simultaneously with the activation of Tatsuya’s magic.

Bullets flew straight without describing the arc. This was the result of Tatsuya’s “Dispelling Spell” activated by aiming at the “sequence of bend trajectory magic activated in an area that lies within 100 meters in front of me.”

These weapons devices did not allow automatic firing. Even if CAD provided a certain level of automation, the processing speed of the magicians using it did not allow us to keep up with this pace. All fired bullets flew straight, in other words, fell into the void. The soldiers began to withdraw the following activation sequence.

But Tatsuya’s next magic activated faster.

Blood poured from the joints of the right foot of half of the fifty soldiers, and with a slight time lag the same thing happened with the remaining half. The resulting damage caused everyone to lose their balance. And a moment later the same thing happened with their left feet, and as a result, everyone simultaneously fell to the ground.

After that, in addition to everything, he made holes in their hands, which completely deprived the entire platoon of the defense detachment from combat readiness. Previously, Tatsuya was already forced to abandon non-fatal attacks once, but now he did not do the same, because he rethought the fact that the destruction of a whole platoon could have undesirable consequences.

Since the opponents were magicians, there remained the risk of a counterattack, even if they could not move their limbs. But if this happens, then Tatsuya was ready to become serious again. But not in the sense that he was ready to take a hit on himself, but in the sense that in that case he was ready to kill.

After making sure that the guards were temporarily neutralized, Tatsuya ran around the corner of the building.

Canopus and Shaula followed him with tense faces. To two officers from the Star elite, Tatsuya’s fighting power seemed unimaginable.

– Molecular divider… spear? – muttered Shaula. Obviously, she confused the magic of Tatsuya’s partial decomposition with the “Molecular Spear Divider” used by the first lieutenant Zoe Spika from the fourth unit of the Stars. The effects of these magic were indeed quite similar.

Under the dark evening sky, when even in the west there were no signs of the sun, Tatsuya and three of his companions ran to the car. Canopus sat in the driver’s seat. Behind him, sat Shaula, and still not awake Algol, was seated next to her.

Tatsuya took his weapons from several nearby soldiers and stood next to the front passenger seat door.

Canopus looked at Tatsuya with suspicion, trying to look at him to urgently take his place, but he took out the Trident and sent him to the armory.

“… The absence of people is confirmed.”

There was no one inside the warehouse.

“… Getting information about the material of the object.”

In the case of disassembling weapons or military equipment for parts, first you need to get information about the mechanical structure of the target object. The more complex and larger the object, the more this information.

When using “Restore”, in addition to information about the structure of an object, information about the materials that make up this object is also needed.

However, in the case of “Mist scattering”, decomposing an object to the level of chemical elements, processing is possible even with the presence of only information about the materials that make up the object. Regardless of the size and mechanical complexity of the object. In the case of the “decomposition” of a large-scale object, Tatsuya will have less load when decomposing an object into chemical elements than when disassembling it into spare parts.

Tatsuya activated Mist Dispersion, choosing as a single target the entire arms depot and all the weapons stored in it.

The contours of a three-story building without windows floated…

And the next moment the building disappeared, as if it were an illusion.

The remains of the arms depot showered in the form of dust swirling in the wind.

Seeing an approaching cloud of dust, Shaula hastily closed the window next to her place.

Tatsuya quickly got into the passenger seat and said to Canopus, who was frozen with round eyes,

– Go.

In front of the gate leading out of the prison territory, they were waiting for about the same number of soldiers as there was in front of the arms depot.

But Tatsuya’s reaction this time was different.

He slowly pulled out a grenade “confiscated” from the soldiers in front of the arms depot.

– Hey, what are you doing ?!

Ignoring the nervous Canopus, Tatsuya opened the window and pulled the pin out of the grenade. The handling of this type of weapon was exactly the same as 100 years ago.

The grenade thrown with the right hand was accelerated by magic and flew straight towards the line of soldiers who stood in the way.

The enemy magician tried to influence the trajectory of the grenade, but Tatsuya easily “laid out” the sequence of the magic of the “Circulation of the vector”, which they tried to stop the grenade.

An important principle when using magic is the rule that one and the same object or phenomenon cannot be simultaneously affected by several magic. If you violate this rule, then in most cases the required force of intervention in the phenomenon will increase, increasing the load on the magician. In addition to this, only one type of magic will work successfully. In the worst case, all attempts to apply magic to this object will fail.

This principle is strictly respected in organized combat groups such as the regular army. Therefore, in this case, only one magician tried to stop the approach of a grenade.

And his magic was neutralized. Although such an unexpected development of events caused him confusion, but he was prepared enough to try again to stop the grenade with the same magic.

But this one extra time was the last.

The second “Vector Inversion” was neutralized by Tatsuya, and the grenade reached the area above the heads of the soldiers.

But the matter did not end with one grenade.

Tatsuya picked up four grenades in front of the arms depot. And he threw all four pieces one after another at the soldiers who stood in a line opposite the gate to block the escape path.

Grenades successfully exploded three meters above the heads of the guards.

Shards rained down on the soldiers from above.

To protect themselves from splinters, they crouched, raising their hands above their heads.

The field of view of the soldiers shifted from the car carrying Tatsuya and the others.

When they looked up at the sound of the horn, the car that had just seemed small due to range was already right in front of them.

The guards, lined up in a row, reflexively jumped out of the way of a traveling car.

This line was built from about a quarter of the soldiers gathered at the gates.

The remaining three quarters brought down a hail of bullets on the car.

However, this stolen car, although it was a general purpose vehicle, was actually an armored military vehicle. In addition, of the fired bullets, only about 10% reached the target. In other words, the shooting of the guards did not cause significant damage that could stop the vehicle.

The car, driven by Canopus, drove through an iron gate dusted with Tatsuya, and thus left the prison.

After escaping from Midway Prison territory, they were not pursued by either ground equipment or helicopters. Of course, the American army did not overlook the invasion and jailbreak. It’s just that at the moment they were recovering from losses and were regrouping.

– Stop here.

Seeing the car, Tatsuya asked Canopus to stop the car.

Taking the place of the driver of the car, he left the door open and shouted to Canopus and Shaula:

– Get in.

These two were not frozen in confusion. Canopus pulled Algol from the back seat, shouldered on his shoulder and ran to the Aerocar.

Shaula climbed into the back seat of the car and helped put Algol inside.

– Doors can not be closed.

Nodding in response to Tatsuya’s advice, Canopus darted around an SUV-like vehicle and sat in the front passenger seat.

Tatsuya pressed the button and all four doors closed simultaneously.

– What it is? Amphibian car? – Canopus asked unknowingly, examining the interior of the car. Its windows were unopened, and in the place where ordinary cars had a trunk, equipment of unknown purpose was installed.

– No. – Tatsuya answered and activated the magic of flight. – This is a flying car.

Canopus swallowed, and Shaula screamed softly. With such background noise, Tatsuya sharply raised the car into the air.

◊ ◊ ◊

“A notification about the return came from Mr. Shiba’s aerocar.“

After the words of the signalman on the bridge, there was a noise of whispering.

“Thirty minutes after departure… that is, it took 20 minutes directly to work? Is Midway Prison Damage Known?”

Asked the intelligence officer of the captain of the atomic submarine aircraft carrier Virginia, Colonel Michael Curtis.

“Anti-ship, anti-aircraft and anti-personnel gun crews completely destroyed. The weapons warehouse also completely disappeared…“

The scouts reacted so quickly because Captain Curtis had previously ordered information to be collected at Midway Prison.

“Are the prison buildings themselves intact?”

The captain asked the intelligence officer in a slightly surprised tone.

“No serious damage was noticed.“

“This is a surprisingly good result…”

Captain Curtis thought so at first, but quickly changed his mind.

“Such limited damage can be construed as evidence that the attacker could afford it.”

“Midway is not only a military prison, but also a supply base, going as an addition to Pearl and Hermes.”

“In just 20 minutes, and given that he restrained – this is a complete defeat…”

“… Tatsuya. If you weren’t a guest of Uncle, and we would have to fight with you, then all the power of Virginia would not overcome you, and we would eventually go to the bottom.”

“I would prefer to continue to have a good relationship with you.”

“Prepare for a quick ascent. Prepare the take-off deck for the arrival of the Aerocar. And report this to Mr. Shibata.“

Captain Curtis hid his concern in the depths of his heart, and gave crew members orders to play a part in this mission.

About seven minutes have passed since the return signal was sent. In the sky above the sea around the surfaced Virginia, an aerocar silhouette appeared.

A giant Virginia hull emerged from the dark night sea. The aerocar did not circle around, but simply hovered in the sky during a flight over this atomic aircraft carrier.

The outer shell of the Virginia parted, exposing the take-off deck.

The aerocar descended vertically and landed silently on the take-off deck.

Crew members ran to him.

Canopus was the first to leave the aircraft through the door of the front passenger seat, and after him, Shaula through the rear right door.

Canopus pulled unconscious Algol out of the car. The running crew members helped him and laid Algol on a stretcher.

Only after that did Tatsuya leave the aircraft.

“For starters, congratulations on the successful completion of the first phase of the mission.”

I turned to Tatsuya Katsushige, who came out from behind the back of the team members who had already started refueling (charging ultra-high capacitors) of the Aerocar.

“Thank you.”

Raising the visor of the helmet, Tatsuya answered Katsushige’s congratulation.

“You’re going to leave again soon, right?”

Leave the report to the main house to me.

“Thanks.“

Tatsuya bowed slightly in response to Katsushige’s suggestion.

“If possible, could you please convey the message about the salvation of Major Canopus to Miyakijima?”

Raising his head, he asked Katsushige.

“Unfortunately this is not possible. There is currently no person on Miyakijima capable of receiving telepathic messages.“

During this operation, all communication with the main house was carried out using the special abilities of telepaths. There were only a few subordinates in the Yotsuba family with telepathic abilities that allowed them to communicate at such a great distance, and all of them were directly subordinate to the head of the family. In this case, one of such valuable employees was temporarily handed over to the main house by Katsushige.

“Okay.“

“In the message that will be sent to the main house, I will add a request to transfer this to Miyakijima.”

Tatsuya’s request was not feasible, but in return Katsushige promised to remind the main house to let Miyuki and Lina know the news.

Charging the car was pretty fast. Less than ten minutes after the landing, Tatsuya again lifted the car into the air.

A telepathic communication session with the main house took place immediately after its departure.

The news of the rescue of Canopus was immediately transmitted by the main house to Miyakijima.

◊ ◊ ◊

Immediately after receiving reports of the attack on Midway, a bustle began at Pearl & Hermes Base in preparation for sending soldiers.

The original target was a counteroffensive against enemies who attacked Midway Base.

However, in a subsequent report it was said that the attackers had abducted Major Canopus and the second lieutenants Algol and Shaula, after which they fled in a small-sized aircraft. Therefore, the goal of sending sent fighters and destroyers with anti-aircraft and anti-submarine weapons changed to chase offenders.

While all the soldiers of the base (both sent and remaining) were very busy with preparations, Raymond (civilian) visited Minoru, who is in a separate room of the medical center allocated for Minami.

“Was it Tatsuya who attacked Midway?”

Although this topic (preparation for the operation) was not very suitable for a friendly conversation, Raymond clearly showed unhealthy interest in this.

“Most likely.“

Minoru answered him.

“Only Tatsuya-san knows how to hide traces of magic perfectly.”

“You mean, besides you?”

“My abilities are just the art of deception. I can’t hide as skillfully as Tatsuya-san does.“

Minoru with a serious face shook his head in response to Raymond’s joke.

“I see.“

With an upset face, Raymond answered.

“Come on do not talk about it.“

However, he quickly regained his usual cheerful face. The current situation was rather chaotic, but it developed clearly the way the Seven Wise Men liked Raymond S. Clark.

“It seems that Major Antares and Lieutenant Sargas were also sent to intercept on the Chevalier destroyer…. Or how is it? Shawarmier?“

Minoru, it seemed, was not at all interested in which name was correct, but Raymond could not leave this question open, so he took out a mobile terminal and sent a search request.

“Yeah, all the same, “Chevalier”. And along with it, Shangri-La will leave the port. It seems that he is going to send more than ten deck fighter class “Eagle Owl” [Horned Owl].“

“Truth!?“

Shangri-La is an aircraft carrier assigned to the port of Pearl & Hermes Base. It is he who is the “runway” of this base. The Eagle Owls, code-named F-141, is the main strike force of the Shangri-La aircraft carrier. These are multi-purpose combat aircraft with superior stealth system effectiveness.

In total, there were 60 “Eagle Owls” at Shangri-La. This means that more than one sixth of them will be sent. Therefore, Minoru’s surprise was natural.

“That alone says that Tatsuya was considered dangerous.”

In my opinion, this is a reasonable decision.

Minoru did not argue with these words of Raymond. Minoru fought with Tatsuya only in one-on-one magic battles. But it was thanks to a direct encounter with him that he realized that the true value of Tatsuya manifests itself at a tactical level and higher. Just what happened on the island of Midway was direct evidence of this. Tatsuya was a threat that could destroy a military base even without using the magic of the Strategic Class. Therefore, the reaction of the USNA army should not be considered an exaggeration.

“I don’t think that this base will be able to delay Tatsuya… Oh, it seems that Chevalier and Shangri-La left the port. Major Antares and Lieutenant Sargas move away.“

The port was not visible from the window of the first-aid post, so Raymond, apparently, sensed this through a channel connecting the Parasites.

“Minoru, in my opinion, is the time.”

Raymond’s phrase was unsaid.

“For what?“

Although he asked Minoru, he somehow understood what Raymond wanted to say.

“If Tatsuya gets here, this time you will not be able to escape. Aren’t you going to fight him again? So now is your chance. Now only Lieutenant Spica is left at this base.“

Raymond was telling the truth.

On this surface base – an artificial island – he can’t hide. No matter where he hides, he cannot escape from Tatsuya’s “sight”. Both the Parade and Kimon Tonko have their limitations, and will not be particularly useful in this situation. If he was going to continue to run away, there was no choice but to go to sea.

“…It’s useless.“

But Minoru shook his head helplessly.

“Minami-san can’t move now.”

Minami is still recovering from the damage caused by the excessive use of magic that occurred the other day. The fact that she spends most of the day in a dream is the protective function of the body, which calms the violence of the zone, calculating magic by suppressing conscious activity and, thereby, reducing the stimulation of the subconscious region. If any irritating factor begins to act on it from outside, then consciousness will forcefully wake up, which is highly likely to serve as a trigger for overheating of the zone for calculating magic.

“So you only need to escape, Minoru. As long as you stay alive, you will always have a chance to get your girlfriend back.“

Minoru slammed his eyes in surprise.

Raymond’s behavior this time was not as cynical as usual when he looked at everything around him as an interesting show. It seemed to Minoru that for some reason, Raymond was sincerely worried about him and Minami.

“No… after all, it’s impossible.”

But Minoru did not agree with Raymond’s proposal.

He felt that if he parted with Minami now, he would never be able to even get close to her again. Both Tatsuya and Miyuki are not so condescending opponents. They will no longer give him a chance to take advantage of.

And above all, he absolutely did not want to part with Minami.

But not because he wanted to cure her. And not because he wanted to take responsibility for the deterioration of her condition. In truth, he was simply attached to her.

“Minoru…“

Raymond no longer said anything that could pass as coercion to escape. Whether he changed himself, or it was a temporary whim, but it seems that he sincerely worried about Minoru.

“…Good. So I’ll go with you.“

“What!? No, that will not do!“

Raymond’s words shocked Minoru.

“Raymond. By the way, it is you yourself who have to run! If Tatsuya-san catches you, then the Dion Project will be considered a Parasite conspiracy!“

There was no direct connection between the Parasites and the Dion Project. However, Tatsuya was able to easily distort the truth in order to destroy the conspiracies directed at him. Minoru felt a certain sense of fear from Tatsuya, confirming that he was able to do something like that.

“If something like this happens, then it will be a problem not only of yours and your father. This could escalate into a question of confidence in America, which, in turn, will disrupt the world order!“

Minoru has always been driven by personal feelings. For this reason, he did not regret that he had gone astray… that he had ceased to be a man. But he did not want to create problems for society.

“Well, good. So it will be interesting too.“

Raymond had an innocent smile on his face. Such a face meant that he perfectly understood what he had said to Minoru.

“Raymond!“

“I’m not a human being either. I don’t care what will happen to the human world. The truth is that the Dion project was actually a conspiracy at the national level. So, if America is subjected to international criticism, then it’s right.“

“But…“

“Minoru.”

After breaking an objection to Minoru, Raymond grinned.

“Instead of observing the affairs of states and the world as a whole, I would like more to see what future awaits you.“

Minoru’s eyes widened when he heard these unexpected words from Raymond.

“You two… how could I put it better… so romantic. You want to watch more than any pair of films. In truth, I’m even envious.“

“…“

“So I want to know how your story ends. And I want this story to have a happy ending.“

Raymond smiled shyly.

“To Minoru, in order to eventually come to a happy ending, you must now run away.”

“Raymond…“

Raymond, who organized the second coming of the Parasites into this world by skillfully manipulating false information.

And Minoru, casting aside his humanity, killing his beloved grandfather, and causing a lot of unrest.

Despite such a backstory of these two, an atmosphere of kindness and understanding has now developed between them.

… However, in this world there is not only kindness.

“That would be problematic.“

Minoru and Raymond spun around at that voice and the sound of a door swinging open.

They were so carried away by the conversation that their attention did not notice anything but themselves.

Therefore, they had the imprudence not to notice the approach of their relative.

Turning around, they saw Zoe Spica, pointing forward with the index finger of her right hand.

Blood sprinkled.

“Minoru!“

The “Molecular Divider Spear” pierced Minoru’s chest at the very moment the door opened.

“The wound is non-fatal.”

“What do you…!?“

Spica looked coldly at Raymond, who had faltered.

“To be silent.“

“…!“

“We must not allow damage to the States. You three should leave this place immediately.“

“Why…?“

Minoru asked in a sick voice, holding onto his chest and bending over.

“Kudou Minoru. Raymond Clark If the Japanese get evidence that our army has harbored you – the Parasites, then this will become an unfavorable diplomatic compromising evidence against the States.“

“… Minami-san still needs a break. And this happened to her because of your battle.“

“If you had not come here, this would not have happened at all.”

Spica rejected Minoru’s protest. Then she signaled to the soldiers waiting behind her.

Four soldiers burst into the room of the first-aid post. They aimed their weapons at Minoru, Raymond, and Minami.

“We will not kill you if you obediently follow us.”

“… We will leave, but we will do it ourselves.”

Minoru straightened up. His voice was no longer painful, and there was no trace of a wound on the chest with which he had removed his hand.

“You…!?“

Noticing the disappearance of the wound, Spica in a hurry tried to activate magic.

However, she was unable to do anything else.

She couldn’t even scream.

Spica’s body burst into flames.

The bodies bursting into the room of the soldiers also ignited.

The magic of the “Burning the body” release system.

It neutralizes the magical protection of the human body, forcibly extracts electrons from the molecules of the cells of the body, and releases them from the body. It is called “Burning the body,” because an electric discharge passing through the skin looks like a phenomenon of spontaneous combustion of the human body. However, in fact, this is terrible magic, destroying cells at the molecular level, depriving them of the electrons used in inter-molecular bonds.

Minoru’s magic activation speed was higher than Spica’s activation speed and the speed at which well-trained soldiers would pull the trigger.

The fire did not spread throughout the room. He didn’t hurt either Minami’s bed or Minami herself.

Minoru skillfully controlled the electrical discharge created by his “Burning the Body”.

Spica and four soldiers disappeared from this world in just a few moments.

From the “ashes” got out “parasite”. The true body of the “parasite” that lived in Spica.

Minoru easily caught it and placed it inside himself.

“… Raymond.“

Minoru spoke to Raymond in a voice without emotion.

“Y-yes?“

“Apparently, I too can no longer stay here. Let’s run away together.“

“…Good.”

Raymond answered with such a face, as if he had just comprehended what had happened.

“Can you wait a bit in the hallway?”

“…Okay.”

Said Raymond, and left the room.

Closing the door, Raymond turned anxiously, and before the door closed, he managed to see Minoru, with a sad face standing next to Minami’s bed.

This evening, at Pearl & Hermes Base, there were many fiery flashes that resembled fireworks.

The number of these outbreaks was equal to the number of human lives.

Minoru and Raymond left the Pearl & Hermes base on the Coral transport ship, fearfully subjugating the survivors from the base.

◊ ◊ ◊

Major Antares and the first lieutenant Sargas, who went to sea on the Chevalier destroyer, learned about the death of the first lieutenant Spica in almost real time.

“Commander…“

“Useless. Yes and pointless.“

Antares answered the unsaid question of Sargas.

Sargas did not argue with this decision. He himself knew that it was useless and pointless, and therefore did not agree on the rest of the phrase “let’s get back?”.

The attacker on Midway also could not be ignored. And at stake was not only the honor of the army. The combat magician, who alone stormed Midway by storm, even by his already demonstrated abilities, can be considered a threat that must be dealt with immediately. And if we assume that this is the same magician of the Strategic class that caused “Scorched Halloween”, then he should be dealt with all the more. In such a situation, the language did not turn to say that you need to cancel the operation and return to the Pearl & Hermes base.

Plus, Spike’s first lieutenant is already dead. The true body that dwelt in it was supposed to escape and soon itself would follow them. So the Parasites are arranged. And now they can’t do anything.

… If they knew that Spica was not the only victim, then they would immediately ask the captain to turn around and move back. They would undoubtedly have tried to stop the catastrophe that had struck Pearl & Hermes Base.

However, neither Antares nor Sargas had the same “vision” as Tatsuya or Minoru. Perhaps they would have noticed the death-spreading magic of Minoru if they concentrated their magical perceptions in the direction behind them, but all their attention was directed west – towards Midway.

But the disaster awaited them not only from behind.

◊ ◊ ◊

About 8 minutes after re-sending from Virginia.

Tatsuya collided with the enemy about 100 kilometers west of the Pearl and Hermes Atoll.

Fighters merging with darkness flew by. If these were ordinary aircraft, then the distance over which they flew would be considered abnormal rapprochement.

They were not displayed on the Aerocar radar. It looks like the adversary also had an excellent stealth system.

Masking the electromagnetic waves of the car also worked with visible light, but it did not provide perfect transparency. From the point of view of an outside observer, the car was visible as flying in a kind of smokescreen, depending on the weather and light. For example, in the current clear night sky it should have been seen as a kind of foggy cloud of ultramarine color. If the pilots were sufficiently big-eyed, then with such a rapprochement, they should have noticed something.

Tatsuya turned on a radio transmitter borrowed from Virginia. It recorded the frequencies used by the American Navy. Tatsuya found the frequency at which the pilots spoke to each other.

“UFO?”

From the speaker phrases with the word “UFO” were heard. Tatsuya inclined his head mentally, but then realized that it was a question of an aerocar driven by him. Shrouded in fog and not emitting heat waves (more precisely, it emitted infrared rays, but their frequency coincided with the frequency of the temperature of the air), the aerocar could really be called a UFO – an Unidentified Flying Object.

However, this was not the case when one could blithely admire. If the aircraft of the American army associated the car with the expression “UFO”, then this meant only one thing – it was discovered.

On the dashboard monitor, several windows with different data were displayed. One of these windows displayed the results of the reconciliation of fighters.

“F-141 Eagle Owl?”

Although in terms of generalized characteristics they are inferior to the “Crowned Hawk” [Crowned Hawk], which is currently the main combat force of the Air Force of America, but as devices that combine stealth and good characteristics for operation at low speeds, they were preferred as aircraft fighter aircraft carriers .

“In that case, with a high probability there is an aircraft carrier nearby.”

In his heart, he wanted to ignore the aircraft carrier and just save Minami. But taking into account the difference in speed between the aircraft and airborne fighters, he came to the conclusion that we need to get rid of this interference now. In maneuverability, the aerocar was not inferior to fighters, but it could not accelerate above the speed of sound. Therefore, it is easy to catch up when moving in a straight line.

“I would not want to cause serious damage to the American army, but…”

Without thinking about the likelihood that he could be shot down, Tatsuya turned on the onboard CAD, which is completely separate from the flight device.

He completed the capture of the target with the help of his “sight”. Two “Owls” approached the aerocar from different directions, as if trying to “take in ticks.”

Tatsuya sharply drove the car vertically down.

After the image of the aircraft pierced machine gun bursts.

Tatsuya became a little easier after the fact that the opponents shot him first…. But what he was going to do, this did not change.

In addition to the two planes flying over him now, he “saw” eight more “Eagle Owls” approaching on two from four different sides. He, in principle, could bring them all down at the same time, but he preferred to do it consistently.

Tatsuya activated Mist Dispersion on two Owls.

Fighters (excluding the pilot and the ejection seat) turned to dust and disappeared, becoming a foggy cloud.

Tatsuya feared that the ejection mechanism might not work properly and the parachutes would not open, however, it seemed that his fears were in vain. He saw the pilots smoothly descend into the night sea by parachute. And at the current time of the year in this latitude, one could not fear for their lives.

One of the recently approached Filinov launched a rocket on an aerocar. The car was not supposed to be detected either by thermal, by electric, or by magnetic trail.

“Radio-controlled rocket? Reckless behavior when their comrades are down in the sea,” thought Tatsuya.

He laid out simultaneously this rocket and all the remaining eight fighters.

From the radio came the cries of the devil. Listening to the selective swearing of downed pilots, Tatsuya set off toward the Pearl and Hermes Atoll in search of the aircraft carrier and the accompanying warships.

◊ ◊ ◊

Major Antares and First Lieutenant Sargas were summoned to the combat information post of the destroyer.

“It seems like… an aircraft driven by the magic of flight.”

Sargas answered in a rather confident tone to the question of the captain, the commander of the operation, not from the bridge, but from this BIP. The monitor has just finished playing a short video sent from one of the Shangri-La fighters.

“Lieutenant. Is something like that already applied in practice?“

“As far as I know, this is not yet applied by our army in practice.“

“What do you think, Major Antares?”

The captain looked from Sargas to Antares.

“I have nothing to add, captain.”

“In that case, is this UFO from Japan?”

“I agree.“

The magic of flight was invented by the Japanese company FLT. In this case, it is quite reasonable to consider that this unidentified aircraft using magic of flight is a kind of Japanese experimental prototype.

“But why did the Japanese army attack the US-owned base…?”

– The enemy is not necessarily related to the Japanese army. – objected Antares in response to the mutter of the captain. – The inventor of flight magic is Taurus Silver… Shiba Tatsuya. He is one of the central figures of the same “Yotsuba”. I think, with a high probability, this may be the apparatus of the original development of the Yotsuba.

“All sent F-141s stopped responding.“

In the oppressive silence that followed, the voice of the AI ​​assistant was heard, responsible for observing the sky.

“Radars still do not record enemy aircraft.“

“Increase the sensitivity of observation in the range of visible light!“

The captain in an irritated voice gave the order to the AI.

All sensors have already tried to detect UFOs with maximum sensitivity. The captain’s order meant exceeding the maximum permissible load on the observation equipment in the visible light range. But the warning didn’t come back, like “there is a risk of sensors burning.” Still, military AI was trained to obey orders.

“… UFO detected. Distance 2 nautical miles.“

“What!?“

Distance 2 nautical miles. Approximately 3.7 kilometers. Immediately after the captain’s scream, the piercing howl of a siren sounded.

The screen displays the damage status. All guns located from the bow to the center of the ship were destroyed. And automatic guns, and anti-aircraft laser guns, and anti-aircraft / anti-submarine rocket launchers.

“Display the image from the front deck!“

The cameras did not seem to be affected, as a large window appeared on the main screen with a view from the center towards the bow of the ship.

There was no visible fire engulfing the guns and launchers.

The automatic and laser guns simply disappeared without a trace, and the rocket launchers disappeared as if they were uprooted.

“What is it…“

As if interrupting the captain, the siren sounded again.

“The ship has completely lost its ability to engage in air defense.“

The voice of the onboard AI responsible for counting the damage sounded.

A report on the screen reported that all stationary guns mounted on the deck and sides of the ship were lost.

“Impossible… In an instant, completely neutralize the whole ship…!?“

At the moment, they have only torpedoes left from armament. So the scream of the captain was not an exaggeration.

And as if responding to his cry, the image of the deck disappeared from the screen.

“What happened!?“

“Signs of destruction of optical surveillance equipment are recorded.“

There was an impartial voice of the onboard AI.

AI is just a program. The emotions of his voice are programmed so as not to undermine the psychological state of the crew. But in this situation, such a calm tone, on the contrary, only got on the nerves of the captain.

“Someone! Get on deck and report on the situation!“

Such an order made it clear that the captain was crazy.

“Captain, we can go.“

Antares responded to the order.

“… May I ask you this?”

The captain asked Antares in a slightly calmed tone.

“Yes, sir.“

Antares and Sargas saluted the captain with a gesture accepted from the sailors.

◊ ◊ ◊

The first ship Tatsuya discovered was the Chevalier destroyer. At first he wanted to flood him with one attack.

But this ship is most likely followed by an aircraft carrier and its escort ships. If you spend time on each of them, then the likelihood that Minami will be taken away again will only increase.

Minami’s information was still marked with a marker, so there was no fear of losing sight of it, even if they escaped again. However, through the informational dimension, Tatsuya already knew that Minami’s health condition had worsened. True, recently, when he checked her condition before re-departing from Virginia, it suddenly for some reason improved. But vigilance still could not be weakened. Because the condition can worsen if she is dragged by force with her. It was necessary to hurry.

However, Tatsuya changed his plans. Instead of sinking the ship, he neutralized all the ways in which this ship could harm his aerocar.

He landed the Aerocar on a deck on which there were no guns or launchers, and left it.

Two figures approached Tatsuya standing under the night sky.

“I was waiting for you, Parasites.”

The reason Tatsuya changed his plans was the Parasites “seen” by him on this destroyer. If he sank the destroyer, then their discovery would take extra time. And that was undesirable.

Tatsuya’s words made clear his purpose – the destruction of the Parasites.

Antares suddenly and without warning released magic.

When a person becomes a Parasite, then he has a decrease in the variety of magic used, but this is offset by a sharp jump in the speed of activation of the magic that he has left.

The “Nyx” of Antares was activated earlier than Tatsuya’s counter-magic, covering it with a thick layer of the field of psychic intervention that impedes magical perception.

However, the next moment…

The darkness of the Nyx shattered itself to pieces.

“…How!?“

Antares’s voice read a complaint about the absurdity of what was happening.

When the magical perception is blocked, it is impossible to “see” neither the sequence of activation, nor the sequence of magic. If you cannot “discover” the magic that you need to resist, then you cannot aim with counter-magic.

“Nyx. Pretty problematic magic.”

Tatsuya did not answer Antares’s question. But mentally, he acknowledged that Antares’s magic was quite dangerous.

“Even if I don’t see the goal visually, then I can” decompose “it, if I know what I’m dealing with.”

The activated Nyx really interfered with the formation of visual images. But the processes that were carried out before the activation of Nyx could be “seen.” Tatsuya can get current “information” from “information” seen in the past. And he can decompose this information with “Gram Dispersion”.

If you try to seal Tatsuya’s powers with Nyx, you shouldn’t even let him suspect the activation of magic. In other words, the “Nyx” will work on Tatsuya only if for him it will be a complete surprise.

The destruction of Antares’s magic served as this incentive, or it was planned so, but Sargas just now launched a magical attack in Tatsuya.

And again, Sargas’ magic attacked Tatsuya’s mind faster than he could neutralize it.

It was a pack of wolves that looked like shadows, with no details. More precisely, these were not wolves, but coyotes.

Countless all-black coyotes turned their fangs to Tatsuya’s heart.

It was the Ikel magic, classified as the magic of psychic intervention in which Sargas was strong.

In Greek mythology, the children of the night goddess Nyx were called Onyrs, the deities that control dreams. The name of this magic is “Ikel” – it was another (real) name of the so-called “Phobetor”, one of such deities, which takes the images of animals in dreams. This magic damages the mind of the enemy with the help of animal illusions. An illusion in which nightmare fangs bite the victim’s heart leads to a weakening of the opponent’s mind.

But unfortunately for Sargas, Ikel was waiting for the same end as the Nyx.

In terms of speed of completion of magic, Sargas was ahead of Tatsuya. But before Sargas’ Ikel effect worked, this magic was neutralized by Tatsuya’s Dispel Spell erasure.

Tatsuya pulled the “Trident” out of his holster with his right hand.

Antares and Sargas, not giving up, continued to try to attack Tatsuya with the magic of mental intervention, but Tatsuya neutralized each of these attacks by decomposing their sequences of magic.

Tatsuya continued to activate Spell Dispel using the built-in CAD costume.

“It’s impossible!“

“How!?“

There were lamentations and anger in the voices of the Parasites. What was happening caused a mess in their heads, and as a result a small gap formed in their ongoing magical attacks.

Tatsuya did not miss this moment, and pulled the “Trident” trigger.

“”Mist dispersion, activation.”

The bodies of Antares and Sargas trembled and began to blur.

The sea breeze picked up the remnants of their bodies and scattered across the sky and the surface of the sea.

All that remains of them is two “Parasites.”

The true bodies of the “demons” that turn people into Parasites.

“Recognition of the structure supporting pushion information bodies.”

The true body of the Parasite is a Pushion informational body wrapped in a psionic cocoon. Or is it better to call jelly not a cocoon?

The psionic mass itself, which protects the “core” (the Pushion informational body), is formless, and besides it there is another psionic informational body – a kind of supporting support that ensures the existence of the Pushionic informational body in this world.

This psionic informational body, which has become a supporting pillar, must first be found among all this formless mass of psions.

Having set the search condition as the “Pushion informational body exists in this world” as a search condition, Tatsuya indirectly considered the desired structure.

“The magic of decomposition of a structure supporting Psionic informational bodies, “Astral Dispersion,” activation.”

Destruction of the support necessary for the existence in this world of the pushion information body – the Parasite.

Having lost the “foundation of existence”, the Pushion informational bodies leave this world.

Expelled from this world.

Two Parasites disappeared, leaving for “another world.”

◊ ◊ ◊

Destroying the Parasites, Tatsuya no longer took any action against the destroyer Chevalier.

Not wanting to waste extra time, he lost all interest in him.

Climbing into the car, he took off from the deck of the Chevalier.

On the way, he found an aircraft carrier and two escort ships, but he was going to ignore them.

But unfortunately, the enemy was not going to let him through just like that.

Mobile rocket launchers on the decks of escort destroyers aimed at the aerocar. The direction of their aiming was slightly shifted, as the radars were useless. Short-range laser guns were not used, probably for the same reason.

If you just fly by at full speed, you can avoid attacks from destroyers. Although it could not accelerate above the speed of sound, aiming in the visible light range over a high-speed flying object would still be extremely problematic.

However, new fighter aircraft were preparing to take off from the aircraft carrier. And this time, obviously more than the last 10 pieces. If this again turns into an air battle, then we can safely say that the probability of the end of this collision in a short time is extremely small.

Performing various erratic (left, right, up, down) maneuvers, Tatsuya directed his “look” at the escort destroyer, which was going in front of the aircraft carrier. These movements, by the way, really created the impression that this is a real “alien ship”, which is usually meant when they say “UFO”.

“The name of the ship is Mila Davis.”

“No parasites on board detected.”

“ABC weapons* on board not found.”

[Special abbreviation for weapons that fall under all kinds of prohibitions. A (atomic), B (biological), C (chemical).]

To begin with, he was convinced that drowning would not cause any problems.

“The goal is Mila Davis.”

The target was the entire ship called Mila Davis. Instead of recognizing the destroyer as a set of separate parts, he recognized the entire ship as a whole, using the name of the ship as a key.

“Obtaining information on the materials forming “Milu Davis.”

He did not read the structure of the object associated with this name, but information about its materials, or rather information about the chemical elements that form these materials.

“”Mist Dispersion”- activation.”

Tatsuya activated Fog Dispersion, aiming him only at the general concept of the Mila Davis ship, that is, at the ship’s hull, its internal equipment, and the fuel it uses.

The magic that breaks down substances at the level of chemical elements has been activated.

The shape of the destroyer blurred and swam.

And his majestic image disappeared, turning into dust and smoke.

Only crew members who fell into the sea remained.

Having fallen into the sea with strong splashes, they hastily surfaced one by one. There was no longer any difference in rank between them. And the senior and junior officers, and the captain, and sailors – all in desperation looked around with faces expressing a complete misunderstanding of what had happened.

Tatsuya turned on the transmitter, taken on a Virginia nuclear submarine carrier.

“Says the UFO pilot.“

Tatsuya involuntarily grinned at such a “title.” However, these were serious negotiations. If the enemy thinks he’s fooling them, then he won’t be able to crank everything as smoothly as he wanted.

“We do not want to continue military operations.”

Having made the most serious voice, Tatsuya said into the microphone of the transmitter.

“Connected aircraft carrier Navy USNA “Shangri-La.”“

They answered him. Although it was known in advance that this transmitter should provide communication, it was relieved when it was actually confirmed in practice. Even Tatsuya was embarrassed by the realization that his “solo performance” could go unanswered, unnoticed.

“UFO pilot. Sound your requirements.“

“My aircraft is currently heading toward Pearl & Hermes Base.” I am not going to cause damage to the base until I myself am attacked. My enemies are Parasites.“

“…So, what is next?“

This was probably a question from the captain of the aircraft carrier. Tatsuya decided that this man was apparently aware of the Parasites.

“Focus on saving the friendly soldiers who have fallen in the water. Pilots of aircraft sent earlier are also now in the water. I repeat, for my part there is no longer any intention to attack. I promise not to interfere with the rescue operation.“

“Accepted.“

The captain of the aircraft carrier quickly agreed.

“Thank you for giving us the opportunity to focus on the rescue operation.”

“Thank you for understanding.“

“… If you destroy the Parasites, then I will only be glad. True, this is just my personal opinion…“

“… Was it worth saying now something like that?“

This communication channel has not been encrypted. Both the crew of the aircraft carrier and the crew of the second destroyer could easily hear this conversation.

“I do not care. The fleet will not bow to these non-human monsters.“

“I see.“

This captain, one way or another, turned out to be Tatsuya’s liking. If not for this situation, he would want to meet him face to face.

“Then, all the best.“

However, Tatsuya was now a terrorist who attacked the regular army. His voice was changed by the function built into the suit, as it was undesirable for anyone to hear his real voice.

“May God’s blessing be with you.”

Tatsuya abruptly said goodbye in a rude manner, and the captain answered him with words that made it difficult to understand whether he said this seriously, or with sarcasm.

◊ ◊ ◊

Avoiding the battle with the aircraft carrier, Tatsuya secured for himself now an unhindered path to the base of Pearl and Hermes.

As the Mitsuya family told him, he saw a semi-floating artificial island. Based on its shape and size, it could be concluded that a floating pontoon mega-platform, originally intended for a surface airport, was converted into this base.

“But how is this to be understood…?”

Circling in the sky above the base, Tatsuya bowed his head inquiringly.

At first he thought that he hadn’t been attacked from the base because he received a warning from the captain of the Shangri-La aircraft carrier. But when Tatsuya approached the base, a sense of the incorrectness of what was happening began to arise in him.

… There were no signs of people at the base.

Even having fallen to the distance of a normal view, he did not find human figures.

“There is only one person at the base – Minami…?”

The search for “Elemental glance” yielded a shocking result.

Of the people there was only one Minami. There were no signs of parasites.

“Do they use some kind of advanced cover-up magic…?”

Tatsuya suspected the existence of magic unknown to him, capable of completely hiding the target from his “Elemental Sight”.

He thought that Minoru had created concealment magic that completely hid even traces of the use of magic, or that the Stars had a user of such magic.

However, his intuition denied this. Tatsuya could not explain what this opinion was based on, but he came to the conclusion that now no one used magic on this base except him. Apart from Minami, this base really was completely deserted.

“The captain of the aircraft carrier clearly did not know that such an unusual situation was at this base.”

Despite the fact that the conversation with him took place on the radio, one could find out about such an abnormal situation by a nervous or excited voice. But Tatsuya did not feel anything like that in his voice.

“… Anyone here would be baffled.”

If you land and see for yourself, you may be able to understand what is happening there. Or happened.

“And even if nothing is clear, then you can just pick up Minami and get out of there.”

Tatsuya came to this decision when he was already making the third round around the base.

Landing at the Pearl & Hermes base, Tatsuya stepped out of the car.

Standing on the surface of an artificial island, he discovered traces of magic that he did not notice from the air.

“About 30… no, 40 minutes ago?”

In dozens, not, probably, even in more than a hundred different places at this base were the remains of a raging powerful magic.

“These traces… there can be no mistake. This is” Burning the body “to Minoru.”

This residual “smell” of magic, drifting in the air of the base, did not differ from the same “Burning the body” of Minoru, with which he once attacked Tatsuya himself. This is deadly magic that destroys the human body at the molecular level by forcing the extraction of electrons from the cells that make up this body. The fact that this magic was used more than a hundred times meant that Minoru had committed the massacre of more than a hundred people.

“Minoru… what happened?”

He did not think that the Parasite swallowed the mind of Minoru. But not because he “didn’t want to believe it,” but only because he praised Minoru for his strength. Including the power of his mind.

And given Minami’s obsession with him, it was very strange that he left her alone.

“Anyway… you need to get to Minami first.”

When Tatsuya landed an aerocar, he did it just near the building where the medical center was located. Of course, this was not an accident. He entered this deserted building to pick up Minami and take her back home.

Minami was found in a room on the third floor of this three-story building.

She was not in hospital clothes, but in a simple shirt with short sleeves and in trousers up to her ankles. Obviously, it was clothing intended for female soldiers of the American army.

“Minami.“

Sitting on the bed and looking out the window, Minami got up and looked back at Tatsuya’s voice.

“Tatsuya-sama…“

From Minami’s scattered face, it was clear that her consciousness was only half awakened. When she saw Tatsuya, a smile and tears appeared on her face at the same time.

“I AM…“

A stream of tears flowed from her left eye.

“Minoru-sama left me.”

“Did Minoru say anything?”

“No. This happened while I was sleeping…“

Minami’s voice was becoming intermittent.

Tears accumulated in the right eye also “broke through the dam” and ran down the stream.

Minoru obviously had a reason. And the reason is compelling, irresistible.

There may have been some major altercation between Minoru and the American army. The traces of the massacre at this base may be the result of a serious conflict between Minoru and the US Army.

But Tatsuya did not voice this assumption.

And he did not ask whether she wanted to follow Minoru.

“Minami, come back.“

He told Minami just that.

“Tatsuya-sama…!“

Minami buried Tatsuya in the chest.

Clinging to him, she sobbed like a child.

Tatsuya gently stroked Minami’s head and patted him on the back, as if soothing the youngest sister. It was these movements that he applied to Miyuki when they were still quite children.

“Ready?”

Tatsuya asked, a sidelong glance at the shrunken in the front passenger seat Minami.

“Yes.”

Securely fastened with a four-point belt, answered Minami. Her eyes were still downcast, and her cheeks were still reddish. It seemed that she was very ashamed of the fact that she was sobbing, clinging to Tatsuya…. In addition to the cheeks, the forehead was also slightly red, but for another reason – she knocked on the hard breastplate of the Liberated Costume with it.

Tatsuya directed his sight forward and poured the psions into the device for flying an aerocar.

“Come back. In our common house.“

“…Yes.“

This time, Minami nodded confidently in response to Tatsuya’s words.

The aerocar smoothly came off the surface.

Gradually increasing speed, he moved away from the base.

Minami looked around and looked at Pearl & Hermes Base from the passenger seat window.

And when she turned forward again, a previously noticeable shade of suffering completely disappeared from her eyes.

◊ ◊ ◊

Aiming directly at Miyakijima, Tatsuya headed a little south of the route he arrived here.

Flying past Virginia, he told them on the radio that he intended to fly straight home on his own.

Captain Curtis responded by congratulating on the successful completion of the mission, and Shibata Katsushige said only one word: “Accepted.”

About three hours have passed since the departure from the Pearl & Hermes base.

“Tatsuya-sama, um… is everything all right?”

Minami suddenly spoke to Tatsuya in an excited voice.

Tatsuya quickly realized the meaning of this question: “Is it normal to use magic continuously for so long?”

“Even after 10 hours there will be no problems. By the way, we will arrive in four hours.“

Honestly answered Tatsuya. This answer was rather amazed by Minami than delighted.

“Minami, how are you? Does it hurt somewhere?“

In response, Tatsuya asked about Minami’s well-being.

“No, everything is okay. Sorry for disturbing.“

“But it looks like you were in the Pearl & Hermes base hospital…?”

He did not tell Minami that he had been following her “information” for a long time. Tatsuya “sees” directly the information itself, and these are not images or sounds. In other words, he did not “spy” on her like a voyeur, however, if Minami finds out about this, she will certainly be ashamed, regardless of any explanation. At least that was the logic that prompted him.

So Tatsuya pretended not to know that Minami was in critical condition 5 days ago.

“…Yes. But now everything is in order.“

Minami probably dodged the answer because she wanted to hide that she had fainted.

However, Minami’s voice lacked confidence.

Tatsuya’s “Glance” confirmed that her condition was stable. At least, the overheating of the magic calculation zone has definitely come to naught.

“Did Minoru do something? But there are no signs of parasitization…”

He, of course, was glad to see Minami improve, but something was wrong here.

Moreover, this happened immediately after breaking up with Minoru, so that a causal relationship was clearly traceable.

“I see. It’s good.“

Out loud, Tatsuya answered only that.

◊ ◊ ◊

USNA reconnaissance satellites detected a haze-like shadow heading west across the Pacific Ocean.

At first, the USNA space forces personnel controlling the reconnaissance satellites thought that this shadow was just noise in the image from the surveillance camera. However, the movement of this object, flying from the Pearl and Hermes atoll in the direction of Japan, was clearly artificial, so it was considered an aircraft with an advanced stealth system, and this was reported to the General Staff in the form of information requiring urgent action.

An aircraft that could not be identified by reconnaissance satellites posed a serious threat to national security. There was nothing strange in the fact that the General Staff issued a decree to order fighter aircraft hiding in Japanese territorial waters to capture or bring down this aircraft.

However, at the stage when this decision had to be transferred to the headquarters of the Navy, there was a certain “delay”. Departing from the principles of civilian control, the National Security Council did not miss this decree because of the risk of a war with Japan, an allied state. As a result, this decision was returned to the General Staff.

The General Staff tried to defend its position, arguing that the goal would be missed if not to respond immediately. Their position was that the threat of national defense should not be neglected.

Perhaps, from a military point of view, this was reasonable and correct. But in the end, they could not convince the politicians. The tragedy that happened on Midway Island and the Pearl & Hermes base has not yet been reported to the General Staff. Perhaps for this reason, they did not have enough materials to convince others to agree with them.

No one in the entire federal army or the Department of Defense knew that Senator Wyatt Curtis was behind this intervention.

◊ ◊ ◊

July 24, just after midnight.

Touching the Kii Peninsula slightly, the typhoon accelerated and at the moment headed east. This meant that he was going straight to Miyakijima.

“Miyuki… are you going to go to bed?”

Lina asked Miyuki, who was standing by the window and looking out of the room in a residential building in the western part of the island.

Mayumi, Honoka and the rest stayed only for one night and returned yesterday to the main Japanese island. And only Miyuki with Lina remained on Miyakijima.

“No. According to the message from the main house, Onii-sama should be back soon.“

There was a beaming smile on Miyuki’s face. It even seemed to Lina that Miyuki radiates joy not only with her face, but with her whole body.

“In such a storm?“

This “aura of happiness” seemed to cover Lina, as her voice read simply doubt, not amazement.

“Just because there is such a storm.”

“Ah… here it is, of course.“

Lina quickly realized what Miyuki meant.

“He will return, hiding in the typhoon clouds.“

“Exactly.“

Miyuki confirmed that Lina’s guess is correct. By the way, Lina was able to stop saying “hurricane”, but instead of “typhoon” [in Japanese] she said “typhoon”. It seemed like it was incurable.

There was heavy rain outside. The main part of the typhoon has not yet reached here, however, the night sky was densely covered with rain clouds moving east. Infrared cameras on reconnaissance satellites and stratospheric platforms were useless. The car did not emit any electromagnetic waves, except for visible light, so it was not possible to detect it.

And in this darkness, Miyuki saw a “light.”

“Onii-sama!“

“Uh?“

Hearing Miyuki’s scream, Lina narrowed her eyes doubtfully.

But she saw nothing but raindrops glistening from the light from the window.

Lina wanted to ask Miyuki: “Where?”.

But before she could ask this, Miyuki turned around and headed for the exit.

“Hey! Wait, Miyuki!“

“Faster, Lina, keep up!“

Not listening to Lina’s call to wait, Miyuki put on her shoes and left the room.

“Oh, okay!“

Lina was Miyuki’s “acting bodyguard.” She followed Miyuki, trying to maintain her composure.

Miyuki, of course, did not run out in the rain.

She was waiting for Lina at the elevator.

Miyuki leaned the ID card against the reader and opened the panel, located just below the floor buttons.

Under it was hidden another button, signed as “B”.

Miyuki pressed the button without hesitation.

The elevator that smoothly went down brought them to a wagon set on rails, a bit like a public transport electric booth.

Miyuki and Lina got into this four-seater car.

“Are we at the airport?“

“Yes, please.”

Miyuki answered Lina’s question. Hearing the answer, Lina pressed one of the buttons on the dashboard.

This button was signed by “Airport”.

Using this metro, designed exclusively for important people, they got right to the airport terminal building.

It was already after midnight, but unlike ordinary civilian airports, the staff of this airport still worked.

Miyuki thought it was natural that everyone was waiting for Tatsuya to return.

“Miyuki-sama. Welcome.“

“Thanks for your work.“

Answering a courteously bowed employee, Miyuki headed for the door leading to the runway.

Lina followed her.

The double entry doors swung open inward.

“We have returned.“

“Welcome back, Onii-sama.”

Miyuki greeted Tatsuya with a very low bow, holding her helmet from the Freed suit under her arm.

Lina’s eyes were not directed to this ceremony, which she had already seen several times, but to the girl standing behind Tatsuya.

Lina fled to Japan after Minami was hospitalized.

And when she came to Japan last winter, Minami was not yet assigned to Miyuki.

So this was their first meeting.

First, Lina wanted to ask Tatsuya to introduce them.

But when she saw how Minami looked at Miyuki, Lina decided to keep silent.

Tatsuya turned to Minami.

Minami hesitantly took a step forward.

“Welcome back, Minami-chan.”

Miyuki was the first to speak.

– Miyuki-sama, I…

“I’m not going to demand an apology.” Understand this, Minami-chan.

From these words, Minami trembled with her whole body.

“So… I still have no forgiveness?”

“From the very beginning, I had no reason to forgive you.” So what is customary to say when they return?

“Can I… can I come back?”

“I already said that.” “Welcome back”.

Miyuki smiled and spread her arms to the sides.

– So be it, I repeat again. Minami-chan, “Welcome back.”

Minami stopped trembling.

She ran briskly towards Miyuki, fell to her knees in front of her and grabbed her legs wrapped in a skirt.

– Excuse me! Miyuki-sama, please forgive me, please, ah…!

Crying to tears with streams, Minami continued in a teary voice and continued to apologize mixed with sobs.

– Oh… I already said that there is no need to apologize?

Looking at Minami with a smile filled with love on her face, Miyuki gently stroked her head.

Although Miyuki smiled, tears glittered in her eyes.

(End of Rescue Arc)

Afterword

You read the 30th volume of the series “Good student in the school of magic”. Did you like it?

In this 30th volume, several new supporting characters appeared at once. But don’t worry. Even if you do not remember their names, it will not cause you any inconvenience with reading the series to the end. It will be enough for you to remember that Tatsuya and Miyuki got strong allies in America, and that the world famous Indian scientist suggested organizing the autonomy of the “race of magicians.”

I think readers will remember that at the very end of the story of the Yokohama Riots arch, it was mentioned that “it was the day the story of the glory and tribulations of the magician race began”. The terms “magian” and “magist”, as well as the path to becoming a global autonomy of the “magian” are nothing more than the same “story of glory and adversity” mentioned in the Yokohama Riots arch. After 23 volumes (excluding SS), a return to this hidden in words hint took place. And unfortunately, in “The Non-Traveling Student at the School of Magic” you will not be able to fully unfold this hidden storyline. After all, this issue will not have time to be resolved before Tatsuya and Miyuki graduate from high school.

And now we move on to some behind-the-scenes moments in writing this story.

It goes without saying that all the names of ships and aircraft mentioned in this volume are “completely fictitious and have nothing to do with the real ones.” “Shangri-La” is another matter (it’s okay, he didn’t sink, right?), But I just couldn’t give it another name. I apologize if any historical parallels coincided.

For those who are more or less familiar with the English language, it was clear that Horned Owl is an eagle owl. Owls (owls) are also birds of prey, so they are suitable for the names of fighters.

F141 is a play on words from “one for one” (1×1). This phrase carries the meaning of “one plane – one goal of destruction.” This means that he will not lose in a one-on-one air battle. I hope that in the real future there will also be no such model number.

Crowned Hawk is short for Crowned Hawk Eagle. This is the largest bird of prey in Africa, the crowned eagle. Please do not pay attention to the fact that the American army uses the name of a bird that is not common on the American continent.

I think many expected (hoped?) That this time the confrontation between Tatsuya and Minoru would end. However, as I once mentioned, Minoru is the “final boss.” “Final” means its storyline will hold out until the final volume. As to whether attention will be paid to him in the next volume, it is not yet decided.

… But even though I called him the “final boss,” many probably have the feeling that it wasn’t Minoru who got in the way of Tatsuya, but, on the contrary, Tatsuya became an obstacle for Minoru.

Further, it is planned to break off from the main series on one volume and release the third volume of the Shiba Tatsuya Assassination Plan. And after it is planned to release the next volume of the main series, which will be called “The Future”.

And as a small preview of the Future Arch: the issue with Bezobrazov will be finally resolved in it. Besides Bezobrazov, other magicians of the Strategic class will also act as enemies. The world will face the crisis of the Fourth World War and the First Magical War, which will flare up around Japan. Do not miss.

I’ll meet you again in the next, 31st volume of the “Non-Traveling Student at the School of Magic”.

(Satou Tsutomu)

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