In a room where the moonlight of the late fall illuminated, Claudia deeply sank her body in a sofa.
Her long, rich blond hair had softly become wet and her body which was covered only with a bathrobe had become slightly flushed. A space window for voice communication floated at her side and transmitted a perplexed voice.
“──I’m sorry, but no matter how much you insist, I can’t yield there.”
After Claudia spoke in a calm voice, the person in the other side of the space window repeated the same thing with an irritated tone.
“Yes… Of course, I’m aware of all this. I thank you for the advice.”
Claudia revealed a light smile and casually closed the space window.
And she slowly spat out a breath; lengthily, deeply as if trying to spit out all the dregs which she had in the bottom of her stomach.
Of course, there was no way that what had filled Claudia on the inside would disappear with such a thing.
There was one and only way to deal with it.
“I have finally come this far. What is left is…”
After Claudia spoke and stood up, she headed to the window.
While being flooded with the moonlight which poured down over the thin lace, she hugged her body with both hands.
“Fufufu, like this, there is no turning back.”
She laughed in self-derision and whispered as if to persuade herself.
Claudia’s wish which she held since that day.
The sole hope given to her within her nightmare which continued every night.
There would probably not be a single person who would understand it. Even if it was laughed at for being foolish or discarded at being worthless when she revealed it, she was sure that there was no one who would seriously scramble for it.
After all, even Claudia herself thought so.
But precisely because she had clung to that helpless, foolish and worthless wish, Claudia could exist here like this now.
Whether it was her position of Seidoukan Academy Student Council President, her fame of being ranked #2, her objective of winning the
, or in the first place, the fact that she had come to this Asterisk, all of these were merely preparations in order to arrive at her wish.
Even so, it would probably be difficult for Claudia to fulfill her wish. In terms of likelihood, it was fine even if there was one chance in ten thousand.
However, it was not zero.
“──Now, I will have you follow this dance, Ayato. After all, the main stage for me starts here.”
As she said as if savoring it, Claudia quietly closed her eyes.
– ψ –
“By the way, do you guys already have plans for winter break?”
In the school cafeteria, Julis asked that when everyone had finished their lunch.
Since the same members gathered at these seats every day recently, it almost became like reserved seats; but it was not really like they had made the arrangement beforehand.
The school cafeteria where congestion had finally settled was wrapped up in a leisurely atmosphere and perhaps because there was a fine weather, the figures of students who had fallen asleep could be seen.
“It’s still a matter for the future, so I have no plans in particular…”
Saya and Kirin, sitting side by side in front of Julis, tilted their heads to the side in thought.
It was October now.
They had finished the final exams last month and the short autumn break at the beginning of this month; the period following that had just begun. All the six academies of Asterisk had a semester system ── in other words, dividing one year into the first term and the final term, and acquiring credits in both ── and an entrance ceremony was also held in the final term. Therefore, recently in this academy, new student-like individuals could also be seen here and there.
“If possible, I want to relax this time…”
Saya said that and wearily put her face down on the desk.
“Haha, Saya had supplementary lessons all the time during the autumn break after all.”
Though Saya puffed her cheeks at Ayato’s words, she did not mean to argue.
“Well, on that point, there are no supplementary lessons in winter break, so relax.”
“Are you saying that to yourself, Yabuki?”
At Julis’s words, Eishiro sitting next to Ayato unnaturally averted his eyes.
There was only a considerable difference between Saya’s strong subjects and weak subjects, but for Eishiro, almost all the subjects had a failing mark or one close to it. He seemed to dislike study very much.
Among the members in this place, Julis was the highest ranking, and though not to the extent of Julis, Kirin also left some good results. Ayato was slightly above average.
Although there were not too many things which attention was paid to, the “academic ability” of each academy also influenced the overall results of the
. All the test results of the season became targets and highly regarded above all else were the results of the
’s participants. In other words, by restricting the act of attempting to raise the overall results by only letting students with excellent academic ability enroll, it was a measure to make them learn both the literary and military arts.
However, as a matter of fact, the points obtained by academic ability were not so numerous. Each academy was respectively ranked from the first to the sixth place and points were given with it, but even if the regulations placed utmost emphasis towards academic ability in the past, the points that the #1 ranked academy was able to obtain would not reach that of the people who advanced to the best four of the
And above all else, that was the biggest reason why the rank that had mostly remained unchanged in recent years did not attract attention.
The higher positions of first and second places which were St. Garrardsworth Academy and Allekant Academy, the medium positions of third and fourth places which were Seidoukan Academy and World Dragon Seventh Institute, and the lower positions of the fifth and sixth place which were Queen Veil Girl’s Academy and Le Wolfe Black Institute respectively assumed their fixed positions. At least for these past ten years there were no academies which jumped up or down in this ranking.
Even so, there was little difference in academic ability in each position; and for the sake of changing, even if only a little, the amount of points obtained between the third and fourth places, each academy could not also afford to ease up too much in educational guidance.
“So, is there something happening in the winter break?”
When Ayato got back on topic they had strayed from, Julis replied with a complicated expression while looking at the faces of all the members present.
“Actually… due to the matter of Flora the other day, my big brother began to say that he wants to invite you to the country by all means.”
“By country… you mean in Lieseltania?”
“Well, yes. He wants you to come together with me when I’ll return home.”
As Julis nodded, she looked around at each other’s faces.
“It’s ── a very great honor, but…”
“If it’s Julis’s big brother, then this means that it’s an invitation from the King of Lieseltania, right?”
It was no wonder that Kirin did not commit herself. Being suddenly invited by his Majesty the King was not something which happened so often in one’s life.
“No, you don’t need to be so nervous. I’ve also told him not to do something formal. It’s just so to give you his words of thanks”
“…For only that, you also make quite a difficult expression, Julis. Aren’t you actually eager about it?”
“Ugh…! N-No, it’s not really that…”
Julis faltered for a moment at Saya’s point, but she slightly shook her head and before long took a breath.
“My big brother… um, how to put it, he isn’t a bad person, but… he’s a little eccentric. I’m a little worried about whether or not he is plotting something bad again.”
Now that she mentioned it, whether it be about Flora’s maid outfits or about the question that he entrusted her with, it looked like Julis’s big brother was certainly quite a peculiar one.
“But, for having saved Flora, not only my brother, but the sisters of the orphanage have said that they want to directly thank you. For that reason, I’m also not reluctant to invite you guys to our country, but…”
When Julis spoke, she smiled wryly and shrugged her shoulders.
“Well, you guys also have your own circumstances, so I won’t force you.”
Having been told that, Ayato pondered.
In reality, he thought about returning to his home at least for the New Year’s Eve, but to be frank, the relation between Ayato and his father was not that good. This was because after his big sister disappeared, although it was not to the extent to be called serious, they often argued. Since it was his big sister who skillfully mediated his relationship with his father who was a taciturn person and Ayato did not know what he was thinking about, there was probably no helping it in a sense.
Just as a note, he got in touch with him when he won the
, but even that time, there was only a curt reply. Of course, he was thankful to his father and looked up to him as a master, but it was his real feelings to want to take some distance for now.
“Then since it’s a rare opportunity, I will accept the invitation.”
When Ayato raised his hand, Julis nodded somewhat happy.
“I see. I’m sure that Flora will be happy.”
Then, Kirin nervously raised her hand, too.
“Um, if it doesn’t bother you, can I also come?”
“Of course. But, Kirin… um, is it all right with you? Not going to see your father?”
Kirin’s father, in order to protect Kirin when she was young, had killed robbers, and was in penal servitude even now. Although various procedures were usually needed to go out of Asterisk, it was simplified during vacation and became nearly unnecessary. Kirin probably had only opportunities like this to go meet him.
“That’s… Actually, I went for a visit during autumn break, but he had scolded me saying that rather than being concerned about him, I should try harder in training.”
Although Kirin said that, she had a relieved expression.
“I also showed up to my home, but thanks to the help of the best disciples regarding the branch dojos of every place, there doesn’t seem to be any problem. The people of Galaxy are also supporting in the management aspect and my great-aunt who returned to the head family from the branch family also put things in order well.”
As expected, when it comes to a structure of the scale of the Toudou Style, there seemed to be difficulties in various ways.
Perhaps because Kirin also had things to think about herself, she declined the official rank battle for the reason “I will retrain once again”. Because she had passed the grace period given to the former top ranking people, the current Kirin was out of the list (non-ranked).
“Therefore, I’m all right.”
“I got it. So, what will you do, Saya?”
“…As expected, it’ll be bad if I don’t show up at home.”
Saya frowned in vexation.
“I’m reluctant to be the only one left out… But, the adjustment of the repaired lux will be done the fastest only if I personally go for it, but…”
’s semifinal ── in the fight against Ardi and Rimsi, most of the luxes Saya possessed had broken to the extent that they were unusable. Saya seemed to have sent them back immediately to her father, but it looked like the repairs were finally finished.
“In that case, how about we first stop by at Sasamiya-san’s house?”
Suddenly being embraced as if being covered from behind, Ayato unintentionally raised his voice.
Of course, since there was only one person who could do something like this, Ayato called the name earlier than confirming who it was.
“You do this each and every time; don’t surprise me like this, Claudia…”
“Fufufu… I’m sorry, it was just by reflex.”
Just as he thought, the person ── Claudia slowly separated her body while putting her hand on her mouth.
Still, although his guard was down, she had perfectly taken his back this time, as well.
He knew that Claudia was a formidable lux user, but still the way she erased her presence was not ordinary.
“That’s quite sudden as usual, you… So, what do you mean by stopping at Saya’s home?”
As Julis asked so with a half amazed expression, Claudia raised her index finger with a smile as is.
“There are no airports in Lieseltania, so you’ll enter via Germany or Austria, right? Since Sasamiya-san’s family resides in Munich, I think that there won’t be any problem stopping by there.”
“…You’re well informed, eh.”
“Well, I’m the Student Council President after all.”
Though Saya said as she was slightly surprised, Claudia plainly answered.
“I see, it’s certainly possible like that, but… what will you do, Saya?”
After pondering for a while, Saya readily nodded.
“If that’s fine with everyone, then I have no objection.”
“Fufufu, then it’s decided. By the way──”
Claudia who clapped her hands turned her gaze to Julis.
“Am I also included in that invitation?”
“Since when were you listening to our conversation…? Well, whatever. Of course, I intend to tell you, too.”
“Oh, what a relief. I also don’t like being left out after all.”
“Which means that you also intend to come?”
With a surprised face, Julis looked back at Claudia.
“Naturally, it’s my intention.”
“No, as you have probably come several times to Lieseltania as well as the palace.”
“That’s true, but there is the meaning to be with everyone.”
Certainly, they had heard that Claudia was an acquaintance of Julis from before she (Julis) had come over to Asterisk. Judging from the fact that she was familiar with Flora, it was probably not just once or twice that she visited Lieseltania.
“Besides, since it’s a rare opportunity, I would also like to talk to everyone ── about next year, that is.”
At Claudia’s words, the air became tense just for an instant.
Now that the
and tests were over, the Asterisk’s topic of focus had already moved to the next
In other words, it was the team battle ──
which would be held in the next autumn.
First of all, since the members of the composition of the five members for the team battle was important above all else, the sounding out of those in the vicinity as early as possible, regardless of inside or outside of the academy, started.
Among them, since Julis who was the
’s victor declared aiming for a Grand Slam, her participation to the next
was almost confirmed, too. The attraction was gathered about what kind of members she would gather ── of course, also including the trend of her tag partner Ayato ── but there were rumors about whether she would plausibly enter the team of Claudia, the Student Council President. Furthermore, it was a well-known fact that Kirin and Saya were on familiar terms with Claudia, and their abilities were proved in the
. It was the majority’s expectation that Claudia might gather these four people.
In fact, Ayato already received her invitation ── but, just having asked indirectly, it looked like the invitation had not yet reached Julis and the others. Be that as it may, when Claudia invited Ayato, she said that she would invite Julis at least. Setting aside whether or not Julis would accept it, there was no mistaking that she was included in the plan for Claudia’s team.
“Oops, I’m quite interested in that conversation, Pres. I by all means want to inquire about it in detail.”
Getting into that topic at once was Eishiro.
As a member of the newspaper club, it would be information that he could not overlook.
“Fufufu, by the way Yabuki-kun, what will you do?”
Claudia evaded Eishiro’s question with a smile and turned it back on him by questioned him back.
“Is Yabuki-kun also included in the invitation, Julis?”
“Yes, that’s right. Lester is as well.”
“He~e, it’s a great honor that someone like me is invited. I haven’t done that much though.”
Eishiro played the fool while whistling, but according to what Saya and Kirin said, if Eishiro was not there, it was doubtful whether or not they would have safely rescued Flora. It could be said that he performed well enough to be invited.
“It’s regrettable, but I’ll have to decline. Although it has finally settled down, I’m still busy with a lot of works. It feels like I’ll have almost no rest, even in winter break.”
As gratitude for the matter of Flora, Eishiro was entrusted with the interview after the
. Ayato had not received that much coverage, but as for Julis, since it had been a complete state of shut-out until then, you might say that Eishiro’s newspaper club almost monopolized her. Therefore, the newspaper club and Eishiro had reached a state which one could only express with the words “swamped period”.
, most of the interview of Ayato and Julis that had been reported throughout the world was from Eishiro. Originally, there were many times when Asterisk’s report system clubs were doing activities that largely exceeded the frame of students, but it could probably be said that the newspaper club this time completed a scoop rarely seen even in Asterisk’s history.
As a matter of fact, the ones having benefited the most from the
championship might have been Eishiro and his newspaper club.
This was because, aside from Julis, Ayato had not felt that much of the influence of the
victory. There were appearance requests in TV programs and ads, and things that ranged from fan letters and presents to threatening letters (threats) flooding in from throughout the world, but there were few of them which arrived to Ayato as he left the academy deal with them. Although he attracted attention even within the academy, if anything, he felt like the time when he became rank #1 was noisier; rather the students who directly accosted him after the
victory seemed to have decreased.
It was not also as if something changed in his life; and even what he ordered today was a 500 yen lunch set.
“But well, thanks to you, the club’s name became well known, we don’t have to worry about the activity funds hereafter for a while and we also have a new sponsor; really as expected of the
slap* Eishiro brought his hands together assuming a posture of prayer towards Julis.
“As for me, I think that you guys are more flexible, and it’s certainly more convenient in one way or another. But──”
There, Julis’s eyes tightly twitched upwards.
“If you’ve asked a strange question again this time, I’ll never have accepted coverage from you guys again in the future.”
“…Why do you mean by strange question?”
Saya asked to Eishiro who floated cold sweat.
“Ah, no, well it’s that. I thought about inquiring a little further in her relation with Amagiri, but…”
Having seen that Eishiro’s eyes were swimming unsteadily, she understood that it was probably not exactly as he stated.
“Oh, just that? In that case, you should just ask me. Come ask me any time.”
“Eh? No, I think that Sasamiya has already spilled out everything concerning that. There is nothing more I want to ask you now.”
Unlike Ayato and Julis, after Saya and Kirin received coverage ── in Saya’s case, it also became advertisement of her father’s luxes, and it was rightly so of course ── it was widely known that Saya and Ayato were childhood friends because Saya honestly answered anything she was asked.
“The thing about information is that the less people there are who know it, the higher is its value. If you still have Amagiri’s treasured materials left to say, that’s another story though.”
“Treasured materials… Yes, then when we were children, we took bath together…”
“Wah! Saya, wait a moment!”
Ayato hurriedly held down her mouth.
Julis’s and Kirin’s gazes were slightly scary.
──Then there, noise suddenly ran in the dining hall.
“Hmm…? I wonder what it is.”
As expected when these members gathered, there were also many people who would look at them surrounding at a distance, but this time all such students had turned their gazes towards the entrance.
The eyes of Eishiro who promptly reacted among all of them and stood up greatly opened wide, and his chin dropped.
As Ayato turned his gaze wondering what it was, two women were coming right their way.
“Ah, that’s right. Though I’m a bit late in saying it, but there is a visitor for Ayato. I came here to convey that.”
Claudia said that at this late hour and laughed.
Among the two women, one was a person whom he recognized.
It was Yatsuzaki Kyouko, in other words Ayato’s homeroom teacher. She was usually a teacher with a somewhat ferocious atmosphere, but now for some reason, she looked slightly tense. The nailed bat which she always carried was nowhere to be found.
The other woman standing beside her seemed to be a little younger than Kyouko. She was a beautiful person with dignified features and she garbed her well-balanced and firm body in a uniform of guard.
Ayato had a feeling that he recognized her face somewhere, but he could not recall.
But, her name which he heard from within the noise made Ayato unintentionally stand up from his chair.
“Guard Captain Helga Lindvall…!”
It was no wonder that Ayato could not immediately recall her face.
Helga Lindvall was certainly a celebrity whom there was nobody in Asterisk that did not know, but she rarely appeared in public after all. Judging only from the pictures Ayato had seen, she was a bewitching, beautiful woman with the figure of a teenage girl similar to students, and, at times, also had the figure of a little girl at a not so tender age.
Her nickname in her school days was
Holding the ability to manipulate time of her own surroundings, she was a person hailed as the strongest Strega in Asterisk’s history.
From the fact that she could control her body age, it was said that she changed her age depending on her mission, but it was also more than half a century that Helga won the
for her first time after all. In reality, it could easily be predicted that she had lived for three times as long as Kyouko.
“…Ah, Amagiri. The Guard Captain seems to have business with you. Sorry, but can I have a little of your time?”
As Kyouko who seemed somewhat uncomfortable said so, Helga quietly held out her right hand.
“Nice to meet you, Amagiri-kun. I’m Helga Lindvall.”
“T-Thank you, nice to meet you.”
As he confusedly took her hands, it was nearly overwhelmed by her prana at the moment when he touched it. It was a keen-edged prana to the extent that he had never felt so far.
“I want to talk a little with you. ── Yatsuzaki, could you lend me a private room somewhere?”
“Ah, yes. Enfield, let them use one guidance room.”
“I got it. Errr… Aside from the N°7 and 8 being busy now, they may use whichever other room they want.”
Claudia who took out her portable terminal quickly checked and answered.
“Yatsuzaki, I can handle it from here alone. When I heard you became a teacher, I was surprised; but I’m relieved that you seem to be doing well as such.”
Helga said that while revealing a small smile on her mouth and patted Kyouko’s head.
“Haha, Thank you for that…”
“Then, shall we go, Amagiri-kun?”
“Eh? Ah, w-wait…”
Helga briskly went ahead as is.
When Ayato looked towards Kyouko, her eyes were telling “go!” with a frightful look.
– ψ –
When Ayato followed behind Helga after leaving from the dining room, Kyouko weakly sat down on a chair while greatly exhaling.
“Fufufu, to think that the
would be that spoilt in front of the Guard Captain.”
To Claudia’s words, Kyouko glared at her with half-opened eyes.
“However, on what kind of business does that Helga Lindvall have with Ayato…?”
“I wonder; I just was just unluckily caught, so I don’t know the reason. You should ask Enfield.”
As Julis who was said so turned her gaze, Claudia shook her head.
“She seemed to want to report some things to the person himself, but I don’t know the details, either.”
If the garrison moved by something related to Ayato, what came to mind foremost would be the matter of Flora’s kidnapping. They heard from Madiath Mesa, the management committee chairman of the
that Helga also had a strong interest in it.
But then, she should also discuss it not with Ayato alone, but also Julis.
The fact that it was not so meant…
“Sensei, what kind of relation do you have with the Guard Captain?”
Saya asked Kyouko that.
Kyouko answered it with a sullen voice, but she curtly responded while scratching her head.
“Long ago, she took care of me in various ways, you know? In various ways.”
“Ah, I’ve heard that Kyouko-chan was quite the mischievous kid in her school days. So it isn’t strange even if a lot of things happened between her and the garrison.”
“Who are you calling Kyouko-chan? I’ll kill you, Yabuki.”
As her bad look gradually became worse, as expected even Eishiro began to sweat and wave both hands.
“I-It’s a joke, I apologize, sorry.”
“…As expected even Sensei can’t win against Helga Lindvall?”
At the time when Kyouko was once a student of Le Wolfe, she was a person who was the leader of the team which won the
. Le Wolfe was assumed to be the weakest academy in the
victory was the only one that it had ever won until this very day.
“Are you idiot? It’ll be obviously an instant kill.”
But when Kyouko plainly said so at Julis’s question, she flutteringly waved her hand as to say that it would not even count as a match.
“But, Kyouko-ch── Sensei’s ability is specialized to counter an ability user, right? You could hold on for a little while…”
“Haa… you guys don’t understand, huh.”
Kyouko rested her cheek on her hand and looked at Eishiro with an amazed expression.
“Well, the opportunity for the person herself to stand out has also decreased recently, so it’s no wonder that you guys don’t know anything. That person’s strength is an overwhelming close combat ability which was cultivated purely by training for many years. It isn’t the level the likes of me could hope to match.”
“Guard Captain Lindvall is certainly strong, but from our perspective, Yatsuzaki-sensei is a great guide whom we should ask to be taught by. Besides, Sensei should only have the experience that is expected of herself, right?”
Kyouko chuckled at Claudia’s words.
“What, do you want me to train you again?”
“Yes, by all means.”
In contrast, Claudia revealed a calm smile.
“Ah speaking of which, there were rumors that President’s team received Sensei’s secret training for the last
“It isn’t really secret. I may look like this, but I’m a teacher of Asterisk, so if you request it, I’ll teach you any time. If you can keep with it, that is.”
With a threatening smile which gave chill, Kyouko looked at Eishiro.
The teachers of Asterisk were greatly classified in two categories. One was the category of those who, aside from being in charge of a subject, could perform a guidance training of battle techniques like Kyouko. The other was composed of only those purely in charge of lesson.
Of course, it was apparent that the former was more of benefit, but it was also a fact that there were not enough teachers in every academy.
“Well, unfortunately in the last
, our team has been defeated early.”
“Ah, I think that it couldn’t be helped! After all, your opponent at the time was the first team of the Silvery Wings Knights!”
Exactly as Kirin said, in the last
, Claudia’s team clashed against St. Garrardsworth Academy’s team and was defeated. Julis also watched that game, but honestly speaking, it was undeniable that there was a considerable difference in ability. Although Claudia was the only one who struggled hard, the stronghold of the victorious team was not so brittle that it could be destroyed by her alone. Even if they were to fight hundred times with the same members, Garrardsworth would probably win all the hundred times.
In fact, all Claudia’s teammates at that time had already graduated.
“Well, whatever. You can come any time after having completed your team’s preparation. I’ll look after you.”
As Kyouko said so, she left while shrugging her shoulders.
“──By the way, Julis.”
Claudia who saw off Kyouko’s back suddenly turned to Julis.
“W-What is it?”
“About your Aspera Spina, I’ve heard that it couldn’t be repaired in the end.”
“Yes, well it can’t be helped.”
Julis’s lux was seriously damaged during the fierce battle of the
finals. She immediately asked the equipment department for a repair, but she received a communication the other day saying that it was impossible after all. Although Julis herself had half given up, as expected it was painful to part with the partner which she had fought together with for a long time.
Because the adjustment of a lux ── and moreover, in the case of the ones used by
like Julis ── took time, one had to apply for another lux as soon as possible; and for Julis, the procedure was advancing now.
“In that case, it’ll be helped if you can serve as the monitor of the new model lux, but… What do you think?”
“New model lux, you say?”
“Are you talking that one which was advancing in the cooperation with Allekant?”
Saya snapped strongly.
“Yes, that’s right. They have finally completed the prototype model, and it is currently under final examination, but… because it’s considerably difficult to handle, we have trouble with the selection of a suitable monitor.”
“I don’t mind it, but why me?”
“The ability to gauge space is indispensable. And as far as I know, the one who excels the most in it in this Seidoukan is you.”
Since Julis herself also took pride in that area, she could only nod.
“You aren’t the only chosen monitor, so it isn’t something to get so worked up about; what do you say?”
Basically, it was best to get accustomed to using any weapon. If it was a thin sword type lux like Aspera Spina, even if it took time for adjustment, she might be able to handle it in the same way (as Aspera Spina).
(But then, there won’t be any growth, huh…)
They were able to win the
because Ayato’s power was great. Of course, there were also matches that they could not have won if Julis was not there, but the difference in power with Ayato was still obvious.
Julis pondered for a while and reached a conclusion before long.
“Understood. I’ll take part in it.”
– ψ –
Although Ayato had also been accustomed to attracting attention since the
championship, he had never attracted so much of the public’s gazes within the academy.
However, Helga was walking without even showing signs of caring at all about the noise of the students gazing from a distance.
“──I saw the
, but you seem very promising. The final in particular was splendid. If you polish your prana’s control technique, you’ll grow further.”
“Eh? Ah, thank you very much.”
Although he was surprised to be spoken to suddenly, he frankly expressed his thanks.
“In the recent years, Asterisk’s public order has become relatively stable, but even so the Star Hunter Guards are always short-handed. It’ll save me if a young power like you decides to join us.”
In response to Ayato who was at a loss of how he should answer, Helga knitted her brows together just a little.
“…Ah, sorry. I don’t seem to be that very good at a chatting. Because you were a little tense, I intended to make you relax, but…”
That was slightly difficult with the conversation just now.
At least, her self-evaluation of not being good at chatting seemed to have been proven correct.
“…Well, it’s here, huh.”
When they arrived at a guidance room of the high school building before long, Helga released the lock with experienced hands.
The guidance room had an extremely simple structure and there was nothing other than chairs and a desk. When Ayato, urged by Helga, sat down on the chair opposite to her, Helga cut to the chase at once.
“I think you’ve already guessed, but the talk is about your big sister ── Amagiri Haruka.”
Since he expected that, Ayato calmly nodded.
“For starters, I shall explain from the reason why we, the Star Hunter Guards, received the cooperation from Seidoukan Academy about Amagiri Haruka’s investigation. That is because there is testimony that Amagiri Haruka participated before in the
which is an illegal event, and it is known to no one but us who have been in charge of the investigation. Do you know about the
“I’ve briefly heard about it. That it’s a dangerous armed tournament where one can lose his life.”
“Yes, it is. And to participate to the
, there was a condition that one has to be a student of Asterisk, like in the legal
He thought for an instant about what he was meaning, but he immediately remembered a story which he heard from Claudia before.
──His big sister’s data were erased, and nobody remembered his sister.
“In other words, though my sister was given only a school register, she didn’t attend school…?”
“We are also thinking that. But, this is quite an exceptional handling for a contender of the
. After all, most of the contenders seemed to have been regular students.”
Did this mean that his big sister was a special case?
“However… Even Claudia wondered it, but is it really possible to erase the data of such a student who is given an ogre lux in the academy?”
As he asked so, Helga twitchily moved her eyebrows.
“Currently, we still don’t know who the sponsor of the
was but we have a probable guess concerning the aim of that said person.”
“And that is…?”
“Just as a note, it’s a confidential matter, so I want to avoid disclosing it; but, well, it should be fine. In part, it’s already a well-known fact. ──Does the name Danilo Bertoni ring a bell to you?”
Ayato shook his head.
“It’s the management committee chairman of the previous
“Well, it’s no wonder even if you don’t know. After all, unlike the current management committee chairman Madiath Mesa, he hardly came out in public. But, even if his name doesn’t ring a bell, you know at least how he met his last moments, right?”
“It was by accident… right?”
Even Ayato who had no interest in the
remembered about the accident which became large-scale news. A submerged car was discovered in the harbor block of Asterisk, the management committee chairman’s corpse was found inside ── the news should be certainly that.
“That’s right. Danilo’s influence at that time was tremendous. Operating the students’ data was probably an easy task for him. It isn’t public knowledge, but I can mention as many of his other reckless actions as you want that he did out of self-interest. The
is also one of them.”
Helga took a pause as she took a small breath there.
“But, the person himself, having died, left behind only indirect proof and none were definitive. The Integrated Enterprise Foundation probably either disposed of or concealed it. There was even pressure on the investigation and it was suspended. But as expected, it was impossible to cover everything and Danilo’s bad reputation seems to have been leaked here and there.”
“Is there something bothering you?”
To Ayato who was lost in thought, Helga took a stab at arousing his interest.
“──Mr. Danilo was an executive of the Integrated Enterprise Foundation, right?”
“Yes. After all, the Steering Committee is an organization which is composed of each executive class of the Integrated Enterprise Foundation. Danilo was a member of Solneige.”
“Then, didn’t he also receive the mind adjustment program?”
From the story that he heard from Claudia before, the executives of the Integrated Enterprise Foundation were only humans whose self-interest was removed by the mind adjustment program. If so, then the fact itself that Danilo did things for self-interest should be an impossible story.
“Hou, you’re well-informed. The knowledge isn’t that public though.”
Helga nodded in admiration.
“That’s right. The executives of the Integrated Enterprise Foundation which prevent failures caused by the human factor thoroughly carry out more accurate and fair judgments and, above all, all of the executives are required to receive the mind adjustment program in order to create the common ideal of the Integrated Enterprise Foundation. Danilo also received it… but actually, that program’s adjustment level varies depending on the post and position. It’s to the extent that most of one’s humanity is lost the higher ranking executive he becomes, but the adjustment is relatively loose when it comes to a post where a creative judgment is required. That’s exactly the case for the ones related to the
“Although the current management committee chairman Madiath Mesa is a member of Galaxy in name only, he’s an exception (oddball) who achieved entering the Steering Committee through his wish from his victory in the
. There is also the possibility that he hasn’t received the adjustment itself.”
He had heard about these circumstances.
“In other words, Danilo Bertoni’s self-interest was so strong that the adjustment program had no effect?”
“You can also think about it like that, but… Well, I’ve said this much, so it should be fine to reveal it. Actually, we’ve assumed another possibility regarding Danilo’s reckless actions ──Whether or not the ability user of mind operation system was involved in it.”
There were extremely few
able to interfere in the consciousness and thought of others. They were even rarer than the healing ability users.
And their management was the strictest, yet thorough even among the ability users. It was probably natural when considering the threat they posed.
“But, this is only a possibility. Even I’ve encountered some people, but the ability of mind operation system isn’t so omnipotent in society that you think. It’s because the ability user must constantly interfere with the target and a
will immediately see through it by the movement of his mana. In addition, there is also the weakness that they are a lot less effective against an opponent from the
It has been said that, since the movement of mana was controlled with prana, the effect of an ability which directly acts on a target and not restricted to only mind operation is weaker on a
who also possessed prana.
“There is no way that counter-measures wouldn’t be taken within the Steering Committee; so if Danilo had received some sort of mind operation, it would have immediately been detected.”
As Helga said that, she suddenly loosened her expression.
“Currently, we’re in the midst of reconsidering, once again, the traces of reckless actions that Danilo has done and areas surrounding them. If new information regarding the
emerges, it may become a clue to look for your big sister. I can’t say to expect good news, but I think I’ll report them at least.”
“Thank you very much.”
Ayato frankly bowed his head.
But, there was also a part that he did not fully understand.
“But… Is it only for that that you expressly came to here?”
Then, a light smile appeared on Helga’s mouth.
“Though I’ll say it like this, I’m grateful to you. Thanks to you, although it is limited, I can once again investigate the Danilo-related matters. The bigwigs of the Integrated Enterprise Foundation seem to feel uncomfortable, but the fact that it was approved by a portion of them means that even if something was disclosed, they judge that they will no longer suffer that serious of a blow from the past events.”
“…Your face is saying that you won’t let things go as they want.”
When Ayato said that, Helga looked at him with slightly surprised eyes.
“Hmm… I see. You have an interesting way of speaking. Now I understand why she took a liking to you.”
As he wondering what she was talking about, Helga slightly knitted her brows.
“No, never mind… will be irresponsible for me to say it, huh… Let’s see, do you know
“It’s World Dragon Student Council President, right?”
“She seems to have taken a liking to you. I think you will probably meet in the near future, but don’t go against her. She’s fundamentally different from us.”
As expected, he didn’t really understand.
“For your own good, let me warn you; it’s fine even if you don’t understand now. But, I think it’s best for you not to get involved with
as much as possible. Though they are different from each other, each of them is a different kind of existence from us.”
There was a serious ring in her words.
“Oh, there is another report for you.”
When Helga changed the topic as she said so, she took out her portable terminal and opened a space window.
Projected there was a skinny man with stone-like pupils.
“Black Cat Institute Gold Eye N°7. His name is Werner. We’re pretty sure that it is this man who kidnapped Flora Klemm.”
“! Which means that you have evidence that it is connected to Le Wolfe?”
With one hand, Helga stopped Ayato who half-rose to his feet.
“No, not yet… or rather, we won’t probably find any evidence. Dirk Eberwein is not that naïve a man after all. It will be a different story if we can step into the academy, but it will be impossible to reach that man with the evidence we have now.”
Though Helga’s tone was calm, a slight degree of frustration could be felt in it.
“Dirk Eberwein’s strategy isn’t such a clever thing. The most troublesome point of that man is his stance. He proceeds not in the way where he’ll win, but rather in the way where his enemy will lose. He reaps profit mostly by ensnaring others. That’s precisely why it’s difficult to see through it.”
“What we found were traces that this man ── Werner was attacked by someone. The same blood as the one that was left in the kidnapping site was found in the underground block that he would have probably used for escape.”
“Yes. It was probably someone of an Espionage Organization, too. But, we don’t know which academy’s organization it was. If it was a subordinate of Seidoukan, then Werner would be the firm evidence that shows the involvement with Le Wolfe. He couldn’t afford to kill him, and if he were to hold him in custody, it would have been known long ago.”
“What about the possibility of Le Wolfe having failed to silence him?”
But, Helga shook her head.
“It isn’t possible. They, who are called
, are valuable assets even for the Integrated Enterprise Foundation. Ignoring the fact that he was caught afterwards, there is no need to eliminate him who succeeded in escaping well. In fact, Dirk Eberwein who lost a
has received blame from the Integrated Enterprise Foundation. He will probably have to lay low for a while ──In other words, you may consider that an organization from an academy besides Seidoukan and Le Wolfe is involved in this incident”
It looked like Flora’s matter was quite deep-rooted.
It did not seem that it could be solved in a very short time.
“We are still investigating this matter. Please, tell that to Riessfeld-kun, too.”
As Helga said that, she slowly stood up.
When he observed her once more, each of her casual gesture, while being natural to the extent that he was surprised, was impeccable.
“…Don’t make eyes that look like those of a student of Asterisk.”
Looking at such Ayato, Helga said as if reminiscing.
“You’ve good eyes with a sincere and strong will. But, owners of such eyes often tend to be easy to deceive. Be careful.”
“──Well then, if there is some more progress, I’ll come to report it.”
After saying only that, Helga went out of the guidance room leaving Ayato.
“Easy to deceive, huh…”
Ayato muttered that while smiling wryly, and scratched his cheek as he was troubled.
Jump up↑ meaning that Julis had always declined coverage and interview until then