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‘—— Will, no longer believe anyone.’
That, was said by a long ago comic’s dark hero as he lowered his right hand gun, and pressed his wound with his left hand, which Haruyuki gloomily muttered in his brain.
Crouching at one side of the sofa set, he held a cup of red tea with both hands. It was high class looking Darjiling that Kuroyukihime hand brewed, but he had not recovered from his shock enough to enjoy its fragrant aroma.
‘—— Not believing anyone anymore might be a bit much, but at least I will doubt them. Suddenly appearing, and somehow calmly treated me as a real person were without exception Burst Linkers. Moreover, a veteran high level. Without doubt.’
With that decision, he took a glance at the other side of the sofa, and saw that Shinomiya Utai was pouring milk into her teacup with a serious face. Maybe she put in the proper amount, and placed the pitcher down after one nod, then carefully stirred with a spoon.
As he looked at that childish gesture, there was still something hard to understand. Utai was a same corporation’s Matsunogi school elementary branch fourth year student, born on year 37 month 9, so currently just 9 years and 9 months old. That was two more years younger than the Red King Niko.
The first generation Nega Nebulas, ceased to exist due to Kuroyukihime’s rebellion drama two and half years ago, so Utai should be only 7 years old at that time. If it was that, what age was she when she became a Burst Linker?
As Haruyuki sipped his red tea while at the mercy of many questions, Kuroyukihime who sat to his left side returned her teacup to the saucer, and lit the spark of conversation with somewhat unexpected words.
“...For sure, you did not wear the Neuro Linker yesterday either, so do you normally leave it off, Utai?”
To that question, as Utai drank milk tea with her right hand, she skillfully typed with just her left hand. The fearsome thing was, her speed did not drop by much.
[UI> Yea. If I wear it, I would very badly want to go to that world.]
“Then you should just go. You don’t have a rewarded head like me. Even if your name is on the matching list, there should be no troublesome guys coming to attack you one after another.”
[UI> Once or twice a month I go for solo duels in Setagaya neutral area. That is plenty. To wish for more than that, will not be allowed for me. Because substantially, part of the responsibility for destroying old Nega Nebulas, was mine.]
It was Haruyuki who leaked that sound of surprise.
He intently repeated looking at the chat window, but the words typed by Utai, no matter how he read them, could not mean anything else.
—— Destroyed Nega Nebulas.
Those words, were repeated by Kuroyukihime many times before.
The Black King, Black Lotus, during the seven Kings conference two and half years ago, took the head of the Red King, Red Rider who was advocating no fighting among level 9s, and forever became a wanted person. As a result, the first generation Nega Nebulas that she led was also destroyed without debate, which Haruyuki understood up to that point —— but.
When he looked to his side to seek an explanation, Kuroyukihime who was still in exercise clothes, was looking down at her teacup with sorrow filled eyes, and did not open her mouth. And then Utai also, with her left hand resting on top of the holo keyboard, continued to remain silent.
In the heavy silence, only the light coming in from north side window slowly grew thicker. It was soon midsummer, but when it was past afternoon 6:30, as expected the sky became slightly dim.
Leaving school time extension by student council members, should be limited to 7:00. He was worried about time, but he was interested in where these two people’s conversation was heading, so Haruyuki bit his lips. He could not wait for an explanation that would allow him to easily understand everything, but Haruyuki was originally an uninvited guest to this place. So he hesitated about showing a too forward attitude.
However fortunately, the two veteran Burst Linkers seemed to have reached a kind of understanding in silence. And Kuroyukihime to his side whispered with a small sigh.
“...Right now I still, as for speaking about first generation Nega Nebulas, consciously... or unconsciously avoiding it. As if the act of clinging to something that was lost, was something that I could not face the current hardworking members of Haruyuki-kun’s group with, I believed... more than anything, I do not have the courage to face my crime... —— However, Raker returned, and I met Uiui like this after two years. This moment, time to face the past has come... would this be the case...”
Across from Haruyuki who held his breath listening to those words, this time Utai’s hands flashed.
[UI> If you said crime, then I also have it. Looking away from each of our past, and continued to hide in the edge of accelerated world for a long time, what made I, Saa-chin, and Fuu-nee able to face ourselves once more, is without doubt because of new Nega Nebulas members’ hard work. Arita-san has the right to know what mistakes the former us made, and why we had to disappear from the front line.]
“Aa..., that’s right. Exactly as you said.”
Kuroyukihime who read words with cherry light, said that in a nod, and turned her body towards Haruyuki.
Inside the deep black eyes, the same wavering light from before when she talked about her past was there, but right now there was not only that. Right in middle of the iris, a small star shone resolutely.
Her voice that was released after a slight pause, had a mix of elegant echo that was enduring pain, and going to overcome it.
“...Haruyuki-kun. As you already know, in the past I pretended to accept the cease-fire agreement the first generation Red King, Red Rider claimed and took his head. Then went into a fight with other five Kings, after surviving to Burst Out, continued to be cut off from the Global Net for two years... I said that, but in truth once more, the next day after the fight with Kings, I dived into the Unlimited Neutral Field. In order to apologize to first generation Nega Nebulas members, and to give them a large portion of points that I have gathered.”
[UI> That kind of thing, there was no way we would accept.]
After Utai inserted words in, Kuroyukihime had a small wry smile.
“But, I did not have anything else to give. I took the risk of changing points to items at a «Shop», still you guys were angry when you heard it...”
[UI> Of course. Remembering it right now also upsets me a bit.]
“Sorry about that.”
With another laugh, Kuroyukihime continued after shrugging her shoulders.
“...However, the story did not end there. I confessed what I did, and announced my decision to retire after appointing the next leader, then Utai’s group of «Elements» gave an outrageous proposal in exchange.”
After Haruyuki whispered by parroting, Utai typed with a very slight red face.
[UI> At that time, four Burst Linkers that served as Nega Nebulas’ sub leaders, were somehow attached with that exaggerated nickname. The reason was, their avatar’s attribute were split into earth, water, fire and wind.]
“«Wind» is of course Sky Raker. What Uiui’s attribute is, I will leave it for your enjoyment later.”
Kuroyukihime who added that with a smile, and Utai’s face with just a slight grin, made Haruyuki looked at them from one to another.
Four sub leaders who took the nickname of «Elements». That would mean, he could probably take it to be an existence following the «Four Heavenly Kings» of ancient warring state feudal lords. It took some imagination, but this small build little girl, was a strong enough person to stand beside that Sky Raker. If she is this strong, and also lives in Suginami, why have Kuroyukihime not contacted her earlier, and invited her back to the legion? Even though there seem to be some kind of circumstance, but if she could at least help with territory war, they could defend much easier.
—— Haruyuki thought about those and other different kinds of small things, but Kuroyukihime changed her expression after a cough, so he also hurriedly sat upright. Calm sounds, flowed in the student council room at dusk.
“—— The proposal by the «Elements» to counter my retirement announcement, was also totally unexpected to me. They... about method to clear «Brain Burst», other than reaching level 10, might be another way, was what they said...”
Those words, also gave Haruyuki a huge shock.
Online duel fighting game, «Brain Burst»’s end point. That there was something other than the harsh condition imposed in «Reaching Level 10», which was something he believed without doubt till now.
Would there be other similarly difficult goal? For example, control all territory? No, that would be too unrealistic. Most of Burst Linkers are concentrated in central Tokyo, but battle area is spread throughout Japan.
Unable to expand his guess, Haruyuki sat on the edge of his seat and asking in an agitated sound.
“Wha... what is it!? That, other method for clearing!?”
“You should have seen it more than once, Haruyuki-kun.”
Kuroyukihime switching to a mysterious sound for that, made Haruyuki opened his eyes wide.
“Seen it... you said, what is it?”
“Always existing in the center of accelerated world, however not a tiny bit of entry is allowed demonic palace... that severe majesticity.”
At that moment ——.
In his brain, the scene he saw just yesterday vividly floated up.
The «demonic city» stage in deep fog. In the distance from the sharply lined up city, were black towers standing to reach dark clouds. Even though it rejected everyone, it was a somehow inviting solid and lustrous silhouette.
“...Im, imperial palace...?”
To Haruyuki who murmured that with a shaking sound, Kuroyukihime and Utai lightly nod in silence. After blinking restlessly many times, he hurriedly retorted.
“Bu, but! Didn’t senpai say it yesterday! The imperial palace is, «Even in accelerated world, is a place that cannot be entered with any method», right!”
“But, I should have also said this. The no invasion kind of setting, is only limited to «Normal duel field».”
“Th, that... would mean, let’s see... if it is a place not in the normal duel field, then...”
After a swallowing sound from his throat, he fearfully continued.
“...If it is the higher rank «Unlimited neutral field», then entry method is available, is that right?”
The answer, did not return for a few seconds.
Kuroyukihime and Utai glanced at each other, and somehow their eyebrows lowered momentarily. However they soon raised their head, and nodded like earlier. This time, was answered through Utai’s chat tool.
[UI> At the very least, we confirmed what looked like a route. Unlimited field’s imperial palace... we call it «Emperor’s Castle», but that place does not have normal field’s Chiyoda area imperial palace, instead four castle gates exist.]
“...Those are... the emperor’s castle entrances...?”
“Umu. One at the castle’s east, west, south, and north side, with a height about 30 meters kind of huge gate standing there. Other than those, the castle wall’s top and bottom, are set with invisible walls as expected.”
Kuroyukihime’s words, made Haruyuki drew real world’s imperial palace plane view in his mind. To be sure, this side’s real thing should also, be set with east, west, south and north doors. A few of which even became name of underground railway stations. South side is «Sakurada door», and west side is «Hanzou door». He could not remember north and east side, but since accelerated world’s geography is based on real world, it should be natural to think that «Emperor’s castle» would have doors.
“...Those doors... are they openable...?”
As he inquired with excitement in his heart, Kuroyukihime crossed her arms and nodded.
“Doors that cannot be open will be same as walls. If a gate exists, then it would be more reasonable to think that it is openable. —— If you can reach it, and can push on the door, that is...”
[UI> That’s right, even if there is a door, you might not reach it. Since, four doors are all absolutely protected. By unlimited field’s seen as strongest of strongest, four super class Enemies.]
Feeling that he finally could see where this story was heading, Haruyuki took a sharp breath.
«Enemy», is a general name for monsters living in the unlimited neutral field. They are automatically controlled by a system similar to normal MMORPG, with most of them fiercely attacking Burst Linkers that have entered their reaction area. If you can defeat them, then you can gain Burst Points instead of experience points, but on top of lowest class Enemy being fearfully strong, the points you gain are also insignificant. If you think about seriously hunting Enemies, then you would have to make a party with many people, and camp in the unlimited field for a few days to over a week, and that struggle is not an easy task. Even for Haruyuki who does not dislike «Earning humble experience points», he did not feel like proactively wanting to join those.
After wetting his dry throat with some cool down red tea ——.
“Strongest... you said, how strong is that...?”
That question, made Kuroyukihime thought with ‘Uumu’.
“Nn... Honestly, it’s a feeling that cannot be explained... —— About that, Haruyuki-kun, for sure you once... that was when we were heading to Ikebukuro with the Red King, you saw an around twenty people party hunting an Enemy right?”
“Ye... yea. About a building in height, what an incredible one. That, is one of those «Super class enemy» that Shinomiya-san talked about?”
After Haruyuki timidly said that, the two veteran Linkers had wry smiles at the same time. Utai’s fingers flashed, and sakura color fonts flowed with light sound effects.
[UI> Enemy hunt by around twenty people are called «(Huge) Beast class» rank ones. Ones about ten times stronger than those are «Legend class», which is rarely met, and most people will die if they are not prepared to meet one.]
“Te, ten times... of that...!?”
Haruyuki moaned as his back shook. The Enemy he saw on Yamate street when they were on way to Ikebukuro, was something he could be sure would be instant death sentence if he met that one on one. Honestly, Haruyuki’s senses could not even imagine something like legend class kind of strength.
Smooth words released by Kuroyukihime next, were something that Haruyuki could not react to by shaking or anything.
“And then, the Enemies protecting four doors of emperor’s castle, make that legend class seem about as strong as a chiwawa. They are called «Super class», because you cannot even guess their status. They who are called the other name of «Four Gods», are no longer beasts as that name suggested, and should be recognized as real gods reigning over accelerated world kind of existence...”
Accelerated world’s —— gods.
Until now, Haruyuki had believed without doubt that the strongest ones in game space created by Brain Burst were «Pure color seven Kings». No matter how large size Enemy are said to be strong, he thought that Kings including Kuroyukihime and Niko would be able to fall them even one on one.
No, probably for «Beast class» and if situation allowed, up till «Legend class», could probably be won under prepared conditions. Certainly, the Blue King should have a nickname of «Legend Slayer». That meant, it was without doubt the proof of him solo killing a legend class once. And it was such an accomplishment that it became his honorific title.
However, right now Kuroyukihime’s sounds, he believed that it had a hint of fear mixed in it. Haruyuki’s sound sank, and fearfully asked.
“Umm... «King» and «God», which is strongest...?”
“King is just a human. On the other hand, «God» is an existence far beyond the range of human. If it is a serious head to head fight, even if you wrung all the power held in seven Kings, that would not even be equal to just one of the «Four Gods».”
“...Are you, serious? Then, that, that kind of monster... no, god class enemy protected doors, won’t be able to be broken through then...”
After he dumbfoundedly whispered, Utai nodded with her shoulder length ponytail swaying, and typed.
[UI> That’s right, it is tremendously difficult. That kind of difficulty, made us thought like this. Getting pass the «Four Gods» protection, opening doors and reach the center of «Emperor’s Castle», might be a second clear condition for Brain Burst, that.]
“Ah... I, I see...!”
Haruyuki involuntarily said out loud.
The already known «Rob all the points from five level 9 Burst Linkers other than yourself to become level 10» kind of condition is very difficult, however in a certain sense, could be said to be possible to achieve right now. If five people from the current seven Kings, decided to sacrifice themselves, and give their head to one King then it would be done. At that moment the first level level 10 Burst Linker will be born, and something will happen in the accelerated world.
However of course, that kind of thing is not realistically possible. Various Burst Linkers fight in order to strengthen themselves. Reaching level 9 after putting in a huge amount of time and passion, they would not be able to do something as readily throw that all away.
On the other hand, «Defeat the Four Gods protection and reach the center of Emperor’s Castle» kind of difficulty, is just a fighting power problem. For example if one large legion members are all «King» class veterans, it might be possible to break through. This is also unrealistic, but it does not require the spirit of self sacrifice.
That is, two conditions of «Level 10» and «Emperor’s Castle attack», their difficulty vector is different. The former strength of heart, and latter strength of fist is needed. Thinking on that contrast, when successful on reaching center of the Emperor’s castle, for sure something will happen in the world —— conceivably Brain Burst itself might be cleared, which might make you think like that. Sufficiently. Anyway, «Undefeatable castle existing in the center of world map» is set to be the final chapter stage for any kind of games since ancient times, right?
While tasting the heavy gamer gut feeling tingling stimulus, Haruyuki leaned out and lightly nod.
“Yea... possible, that is possible! If it is protected by that outrageous kind of monsters, the imperial palace... no, emperor’s castle, is the so called «Last dungeon»! If you enter it then for sure something incredible... incredible something...”
[UI> Conceivably, there might be a last boss more incredible than the four gods. In any case, two and half years ago, we Nega Nebulas members, proposed the same explanation right now to Saa-chin who announced retirement. If the first clear condition is cut off, challenge the second one, that. Against this, the blockhead Saa-chin...]
“Stopped it. Of course stopped it. Shouted at full power ‘No way’, ‘Won’t allow’, ‘Give up’.”
While smiling wryly, Kuroyukihime responded with that.
That expression was calm, and tone was also light. However very faint color of pain floated in her black eyes, and when he saw that, Haruyuki had a slight prediction for how this episode would end.
His previous excitement went away, and in exchange a cold tension settled on his heart, as Haruyuki waited quietly for continuing words.
“...However, not only the «Elements», every member of the first generation Nega Nebulas, were matching blockheads, so... not only did they refuse the master’s command, they went as far as saying to use «Judgement» on them all if I want to stop them. At length, I got real angry and sat down, then they left me there and started to slowly head towards the emperor’s castle, was how that ended.”
[UI> Naturally. At the same time that we are followers, we are also Saa-chin’s protectors.]
“Hey Uiui, at that time you just entered elementary branch! Really... each and everyone....”
The ending of those words, melted into space while shaking. Haruyuki could only silently watch Kuroyukihime’s white throat move, and tightly closed her eyes.
The inside of soon raised eyelids was faintly wet, however without tears falling, Kuroyukihime quietly continued her recollection.
“...Without any choice, I also headed towards the emperor’s castle with everyone. At that time, the field attribute was a rare «Aurora stage», so... on one side of the night sky, a beautiful aurora was wavering... From Suginami, that walk to emperor’s castle using Shinjuku street was... just like a midnight picnic...”
[UI> It was fun, right. For me, that time talking about everything with everyone in our legion while walking, is my most important memory even now. I got to ride on Graph-san’s shoulders... Aqua-san pushed Raker-san’s wheelchair... is just like it happened yesterday.]
“We reached the emperor’s castle so quickly, that it make us wanted to tour around Tokyo. No, someone like Graph really said that out loud... However of course that proposal was rejected, and in front of Hanzou door, we held our last council of war on top of Kojimachi hill.”
Her long eyebrows lowered, and her pupils wavered as if looking at a faraway place. From slightly open lips, quiet recollection was spun.
“—— Since the «Four Gods» has four body one unit relationship, it is necessary to fight them at the same time, so our legion was also divided into four squads to place at east, west, south and north. Before we split up, everyone was given Utai’s support buff so they were full of courage, and with highest morale and control, we united to challenged the emperor’s castle protectors...”
“—— An, and then... what happened...?”
No able to withstand the just one second of silence, Haruyuki inquired with a raspy sound.
Kuroyukihime sat upright, placed her hands on top of her lined up knees, and quietly said.
“About 120 seconds after attack started, the final person was killed. The first generation Nega Nebulas, did not cease to exist by unusual dissolution. At that very moment, it was destroyed by god’s hands.”
To be continued tomorrow, and speak with Takumu-kun and Chiyuri-kun also.
Haruyuki who relaxed after Kuroyukihime said that, drank all of his cold red tea.
Honestly, he still wanted to ask many things. What exactly was «Destroyed»? Those members, where are they right now and what are they doing? Why are they maintaining silence, and have not contacted Kuroyukihime? And then why one of those people, Shinomiya Utai, after two and half years appear in front of Haruyuki’s group?
However certainly, this conversation is a subject that current members Takumu and Chiyuri should also hear about. And then more than anything, the chic analog clock hanging on the wall, would point to the seven o’clock leaving school extension limit in a few minutes.
Quickly cleaning up the tea set, Kuroyukihime who picked up her school regulation bag beside the sofa said “Then, let’s go home” to the other two people, and started walking towards the door. That profile, Haruyuki believed that it did not seem any different from usual.
Meeting Haruyuki in last Autumn, throwing away her dummy avatar cover and returning to the accelerated world, at that time she was afraid to even face her past memories. In fact, when the Yellow King thrust that video replay at her in the battlefield, she lost her fighting spirit and became unable to move due to even triggering «Zero File condition».
That meant, even for Kuroyukihime who has absolute fighting ability, she has to continually battle daily with her weakness.
‘—— I also, don’t have the time to be anxious.’
Standing up, as he followed after Kuroyukihime towards the door, Haruyuki renewed his resolve in his heart.
As a member of newborn Nega Nebulas, he has to become much much stronger. He had to force out the «Disaster Armor» parasitic somewhere on his duel avatar in a few days instead of a week, and join the Saturday territory battle with his chest held high. He had not heard what kind of thing the «Purification Operation» that Kuroyukihime thought up was, but he will show them that he can endure any kind of special training or penance he was commanded to do.
Haruyuki privately held his right fist strongly, at that time ——.
Words that proved Kuroyukihime also did not have peace of mind somewhere, flowed from the chat window that was still displayed in his view.
[UI> Asking just in case, is Saa-chin planning to leave school in that outfit?]
As he wondered ‘What?’, he looked at Kuroyukihime diagonally in front of him. On the other side of long hair flowing down her back, was glossy quick dry material T-shirt. Lower half of her body was in tight fit half pants, and slickly extended slim legs. Haruyuki had completely forgotten, that during the long conversation, Kuroyukihime was still wearing exercise clothes that she changed into for cleaning purpose.
“U, uwa, oh no. Please wait a minute.”
Kuroyukihime released a rare panic sound and turned around. She went between the round eyed Haruyuki, and somewhat amazed Utai, reaching the front of lockers at southwest corner, then ——.
She dropped her bag on the floor, held the T-shirt’s hem with both hands, and undressed her top in one motion without any hesitation.
At the moment pure white back, and black lace underwear strap burned his retina.
Was that mysterious sound leaking out, a huge mistake, or a small correct answer? Anyway, at the moment Kuroyukihime heard that, she hurriedly turned around once more, and quickly covered her chest with both arms on seeing Haruyuki standing rigid there. While seeing her face getting redder and redder, Haruyuki earnestly thought.
‘—— I am glad this is the real world. If this is accelerated world, then my head would have gone poof from the highest class mind power attack.’
Right after, the black T-shirt that came flying with a woosh scored a direct hit on Haruyuki’s face, and all of his view blacked out along with an incredibly nice scent.
Following after Kuroyukihime who quickly changed clothes after chasing Haruyuki from the student council room, and Utai who had an amazed face from the happenings, they left school gate, recording normal leaving school log at dangerously close time of 20 seconds to 7.
Without even time for a relaxing breath, a sharp sound fell from the top of his head.
“Haruyuki-kun, it’s already dark, so you escort Utai! Tomorrow depending on when caretaker committee activity ends, gather in the student council room! You can tell Takumu-kun and Chiyuri-kun about that! That’s all! Then, goodbye!”
Kuroyukihime who quickly spoke those commands and farewell, turned around, and headed away from the school gate towards Asagaya. After the ‘Clop clop’ loafer sound went away, and watching swaying black hair melt into darkness, Haruyuki finally blew out the air remaining in his chest.
“...I, it wasn’t really my fault...”
After his mumble, Utai beside him lightly moved both hand fingers.
[UI> Saa-chin is a ditz in hiding from before.]
“...Un, I somehow knew...”
After one nod, he lightly shook his head left and right, and reorganized his thought. It was a monday after school with too many things that happened, but it was still not mission complete. By Kuroyukihime’s command, he still had the task of escorting Utai home remaining.
With a quick glance to the sky, he could see that evening colors had mostly gone away, with city center street lights dimly lighting up bottom of clouds. Even with various roads covered by social camera web surveillance, an elementary fourth year student walking alone at this hour is certainly dangerous. No, before that ——.
“Ah... Shinomiya-san. It’s already past 7, is your curfew or whatever okay?”
After his inquiry, Utai’s fingers moved with no change at all in her expression.
[UI> No problem. I am a Burst Linker also, you know?]
Understanding the meaning of those words after a few seconds, Haruyuki involuntarily pinched his mouth.
Almost all Burst Linkers, has one scar in common. It was the words of Haruyuki’s «Master», Sky Raker. That scar was, when they were babies, they were given the Neuro Linker in exchange of parent’s hands. Children who were raised that way, just coming home late would they be yelled at, was what Utai wanted to ask.
The answer to that, was even returning home after 9, there would not be any adult at home to do the yelling, which Haruyuki knew very well.
“...I see. But, well, it’s better to go home quickly. Since we worked that hard cleaning, we will be hungry.”
At the moment he said that, from Haruyuki’s own digestive system, a somewhat loud low frequency rumble was released. After Utai had a small grin, she nodded with her tied up hair swaying.
[UI> That seem to be true. I will go home by myself, so Arita-san also please return home. Well then, have a good day.]
After a bow, as Utai turned around with white skirt hem flying and walked south, Haruyuki hurriedly chased after.
“No, I will escort you! It’s already dark, and if I return home like this, tomorrow Kuroyukihime-senpai will be really mad...”
After his said that with a quick mumble, Utai tilted her head slightly while walking and answered.
[UI> That might also be true. Well then, excuse me but please go with me till Oomiya.]
And then with a slight adjustment of her course to the left, she lined up at Haruyuki’s side.
That, was indeed a indescribably strange walk.
Haruyuki was an only child so naturally he did not have a younger brother or sister, and his mother alienated her relatives, so he had almost no memory of playing with younger kids. If he really had to give an example, his cousin Saitou Tomoko-chan should be living in the neighboring Nakano ward, which he met five or six years ago at his mother’s family home.
No ——, for younger friend, then he could said to have Niko who faked being that Tomoko-chan and barged into his home. However she is the Red King that controlled big legion «Prominence». It is very hard to think of her as a small kid. On the other hand, if he really treated her like that, he would be one shot with her main cannon and become charred.
So like this, walking beside Shinomiya Utai wearing a leather satchel and with a sports bag hanging down her right hand, like an older brother kind of experience, was something very refreshing for Haruyuki.
“Ah, ba, bag, I will hold it.”
After moving over 100 meters, he finally noticed that and said it, then Utai handed it to him after a bow of thanks. He accept it, and with exaggerated motions switch it to his left hand.
‘—— Is protecting someone, feel like this?’
While adjusting his strides to walk over simple and elegant residential street path lit by LED street lights, Haruyuki thought like that in a daze.
He had not even imagined it till now, but eventually in far distant future, the time to use his Brain Burst program copy and install rights would come. That meant, as a «Parent» Burst Linker, pick someone to be his «Child». That is to protect and raise a know nothing level 1 chick.
‘—— If, for example, one in a million chance, that opponent is like Shinomiya Utai walking beside me, a younger weak girl. No, move my imagination a step forward, if Utai is my «Child». Would I be able to behave like a proper «Parent»? Sometimes strict, and yet gentle, would I be able to protect and guide Utai?’
‘—— I can do it. I should be able to do it. Since I can properly say “Hold your bag”. I am matching walking speed perfectly. Ah, it would be nice if we are really «Parent child».’
With that and many airy imaginations, no, fantasies going around his head, Haruyuki completely forgot the important fact he was told a few tens of minutes ago.
What reminded him of that carelessness, was Utai who was walking beside him silently, suddenly moved both hands, and reservedly typed few sentences.
[UI> My home is close to there. Therefore, with this chance, I have a little request for Arita-san.]
As Haruyuki blinked and read those words, he nodded while still having pseudo parental feelings.
“Su, sure, ask anything!”
[UI> On top of being escorted, to cause you trouble again and again...]
“It’s fine, okay. Don’t hold back!”
[UI> Thank you very much. Then, I will accept the kindness of your words.]
“U, Un, wh... what is it?”
[UI> Please let me see your true strength. Before following Saa-chin’s plan, I want to see for myself if the «Silver Crow» is truly someone worthy of being Nega Nebulas’ spearhead.]
In front of Haruyuki who froze with that unnatural position and expression, Utai took off the satchel from her shoulders, opened the flap and place her hand in, then soon withdrew it.
What the small hand held, was similar small scale, as if having an unglazed texture, a matted off white —— Neuro Linker.
As he watched her left hand lift up her ponytail, and put the quantum device on her delicate neck, Haruyuki finally remembered the fact that he had completely forgotten.
Shinomiya Utai, was a first generation Nega Nebulas member, furthermore a core member being labeled as «Elements», which would be a corner of four heavenly kings, so was same rank as that Sky Raker, that was, far from being a level 1 chick, was probably a far far stronger high ranker than Haruyuki ——.
Pulling the still frozen Haruyuki’s shirt around his waist area, Utai guided him to a bench placed at regular intervals along the path. After Haruyuki sat down half on automatic, she again searched her satchel, then took out something.
That, was a white vinyl covered, direct connect use XSB cable.
While handing one plug to Haruyuki, Utai skillfully typed with just her left hand.
[UI> One on one fight with me? Or make a tag group, for two on two against other teams?]
That, was Haruyuki’s instant reply in 0.5 seconds.
The walking path bench that Haruyuki and Utai sat on, is the real world residence area at Suginami ward, Oomiya Itchome, and then it existed as «Suginami second battle area» kind of area in the accelerated world.
With east being Shinjuku area, and southeast being Shibuya area kind of «Duel places» as neighbors, both could be said to be tending towards low population places. However since afternoon 6 to 8 is the most popular duel time period in a day, and there were many large dive cafes along Seven Ring road nearby, there should be at least 20 people registered in the matching list.
Haruyuki who direct connected to Utai with a 1.5 meter long XSB cable, after Wired Connection warning showed up and disappeared, straighten his back and held his hands on his knees as he stared. The five years younger little girl, as if with no change in expression, was manipulating her virtual desktop with relaxed movements. She probably started up her BB console, and set Haruyuki —— «Silver Crow» as tag partner.
[UI> Well then, I will pick a suitable duel opponent tag team. I will just be on support for the opening part, so Arita-san please fight as you see fit. If you finished preparation, I will start.]
“Ye, yes, go ahead!”
After he replied with his dried mouth, Haruyuki gazed at Utai’s glossy lips. Of course that was not an act of harassment, it was so that he could match Utai’s acceleration command timing.
However, right after. Haruyuki arrived at a question that he had not thought about till now.
Shinomiya Utai, had the mobility type aphasia illness. She could not speak with flesh voice. In that situation, how is she going to convey her command to the Brain Burst program?
The answer, was something very simple.
Utai suddenly closed her eyes, and craved a narrow valley between her eyebrows. Her slightly opened lips, shook as if in convulsions. Inside that, clenched together teeth squeaked. One and two drops of sweat floated up on her forehead.
It was brute force. The sound that would not come out, is forced out by whipping the body.
‘Stop it’, kind of shout words were desperately swallowed by Haruyuki. Since Utai was a high enough ranker to be part of what is called four heavenly kings of old Nega Nebulas, she should have experienced uncountable number of duels to reach that point. All of those could not be just «Wait to be challenged». That meant this little girl, had repeated so many times that could not be counted this tremendously painful looking act.
It probably took less than five seconds, but the result of this struggle that felt many times longer, was that Utai’s lips opened about 2 cm. Continuing, it narrowed, and opened sidewise again. Finally another small sharp point.
Bu, rst, Lin, k.
It was almost soundless, but for sure those syllables were carved by Utai’s real mouth. At the same time Haruyuki also, with unusually awkward movements, whispered those same words.
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