Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Gakuen Kino Chapter Two Part Two

Part two of three.

"It's almost time for the cafeteria to open. The other students will get there first if you don't hurry." Said the man with the katana. He was holding in his right hand an intricately crafted pocket watch. It was open this time, so the complex clockwork within was clearly visible through the glass backing. Where there would normally be a 6 spun a tourbillon.

"You're right. I'll be going now, then." Said Kino, as she bowed to her senpai. And as soon as she turned around--

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrring!

It was the emergency alarm. The ringing echoed throughout the school building, and was perfectly audible even on the rooftop, thanks to the speakers installed there.

"The emergency alarm." Shizu frowned and prepared to draw.

Kino, surprised, froze on the spot.

"Maybe there's a fire?" she asked. Despite the frequent demonic invasions, not once had the emergency alarm sounded in any of those cases. No one really had the chance to activate it.

"Anyway, we should get out of here." Said Shizu, quick to react. On a side note, anyone who ignores alarm bells and warnings or blows them off in this day and age won't live to be very old.

"Right." Kino nodded. From what she could see from the edge of the rooftop, a good number of students had fled to the grounds and the central gardens. She couldn't tell if they were frightened of the demon or if they were just happy to get out of class early.

"Let's go." Shizu approached Kino from beside her and began to escort her to the metal doors.

Those very metal doors were blown out of the doorway and thrown onto the rooftop.

"Huh?"

"Hmph!"

The heavy doors came to a stop on the ground right in front of them.

"Stand back." Shizu said harshly. It was a monster--yes, a creature that could only be described as a monster. It was about a metre in height and humanoid in shape, but it was covered in fur and had clawed hands. It looked kind of like a cross between a monkey and a bear, drawn by a really talentless artist.

"A demon?" Kino asked Hermes under her breath.

"Kind of, but they're different."

"What do you mean?"

"They're not the kind of demons that were originally human."

Just as Kino was about to ask Hermes to elaborate, her question was answered. More than one monster was responsible for the unexpected flight of the metal doors.

"Huh?"

Identical monsters poured out of the stairwell, like navy-suited salarymen from a train in rush hour.

"These are the demon's underlings." Said Hermes.

"Then I can turn them to swiss cheese, right?"

"Yeah, but… you're planning to transform here? Besides, it'll be pretty dangerous for you to start shooting if you're not transformed."

"Ugh…" Kino fell silent. Shizu-senpai was also on the rooftop with her, and she couldn't let him find out that she was the hero that had been saving the school all this time. Those of you who've read chapter 1 would know that Kino had several pouches of firearms from her grandmother back home, but Kino couldn't just fire away without transforming first.

Shizu merely stood quietly, facing down the monsters--they had increased in number to about twenty.

"…"

"What do I do, Hermes? Shizu-senpai is in trouble!"

"Well, we could just wait until the monsters beat him halfway to death…"

"We can't do that!" Kino was a bit upset.

"Stay back. I'll be all right." Shizu was still very calm.

The monsters approached Shizu in a semicircular formation. One of them let out a sharp cry, and the others used that as the cue to simultaneously charge Shizu.

"Come…" Shizu muttered. His left thumb slightly pushed out the katana from the scabbard. The silver blade shone under the sunlight.

"Haah!"

With a single cry, Shizu drew with his right hand at supersonic speed. The blade flashed again and again as Shizu moved too fast to see with the human eye. Only the katana's graceful arcs betrayed his actions.

Within two seconds, Shizu stopped moving, katana back at the ready position.

The fourteen monsters in front of them instantly dissolved into particles and scattered to the winds.

"Wow!" Kino exclaimed.

"He's pretty good." Hermes admitted.

The monsters who had just lost their allies flinched. Shizu muttered, "Come at me… I will turn you into dust."

Shizu and the monsters stared each other down in stillness, with the alarm bells as background music.

The moment the alarm ceased, another monster let out a roar. Immediately afterwards, the remaining ten monsters--did not charge Shizu.

"Hmph!"

It was a feint. Only seven had attacked Shizu--the others sprinted fiercely and jumped over him, towards where Kino was standing.

"No you don't!" Shizu shouted, as he stepped towards the seven monsters approaching him and slashed. Four were chopped in half within 1.5 seconds, and the remaining three were cut down in one stroke as Shizu turned around in one smooth motion.

The three monsters that had jumped over Shizu charged Kino as soon as they hit the ground.

"Look out, Kino!"

"Argh, I don't care anymore. I'm just gonna shoot them." Kino, sweating, anxiously reached for the pouch with her right hand.

The monsters rushed at her in single file. Kino's fingers were two millimetres  away from opening one of the pouches when the number of monsters increased to four--no, never mind. It was Shizu, who had appeared from behind the monsters.

"Haaah!"

Sliceslicewhooshwhoosh
Two glints and two slices. The two monsters in front of Shizu turned to dust and vanished. However, the third monster was right in front of Kino, arm raised and claws ready for mauling.

The monster, however, never got to swing down his claws. It stopped moving, courtesy of the katana impaled through its back. Behind it was Shizu, still in sword-throwing position.

When the last monster disappeared, the katana fell to the floor with a clang.

"…"

Kino's right hand was frozen still over her gun pouch.

"That was close," Hermes whispered.

"Are you unharmed?" asked Shizu. He walked over as if nothing had happened, picked up his katana, shook off the dust, and sheathed it.

"Huh? Oh, yeah. I'm fine." Kino replied. Shizu smiled warmly and expressed his relief.

"This was the beginning of Kino's first love. It was a faint yet bittersweet emotion." Hermes began to narrate something strange. Kino crushed him in her left hand ("Grk!") and turned to Shizu.

"How about you, senpai? Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, but things aren't looking so good. It seems yet another one of those 'demon incidents' has begun." Said Shizu, perfectly calm and not at all out of breath despite his acrobatic feat moments earlier. Kino winced, remembering the fact that a demon was still running loose.

"R…right. Senpai, you should--" Kino was about to tell him to evacuate. After all, she was a transforming hero--she wanted to transform immediately and get things over with before the Masked Pervert could get in her way.

However, she couldn't transform in front of Shizu-senpai. That's why she wanted to to leave.

As Kino struggled to properly phrase these thoughts,

"I have to go." Shizu spoke up first. 'Hell yeah!' Kino thought. Of course, she didn't say this out loud.

"But it would be dangerous to leave you here alone…"

'Never mind, just get out of here.' was the next thought on Kino's mind, but she didn't voice it.

"I'll be fine! You should go ahead, senpai!"

"But…"

"The rooftop's clear, right? I'll just go hide in the corner. There's probably--no, definitely someone downstairs who needs your help!" Kino began rambling her line of thought.

"I see…" Shizu nodded strongly, as if he somehow understood.

"Liar, liar, pants on fire--grk!" Kino crushed Hermes in her grip again.

As if on cue, they heard an explosion and the sound of something collapsing. Kino and Shizu turned around in surprise, and saw smoke billowing out of the sports club's office, past the central gardens. A huge, terrifying monster over 5 metres tall appeared, small pieces of debris on its head.

"! A demon…!" said Shizu. For the sake of narrative convenience, the small fluffy creatures will now be referred to as "monsters" and the big ones as "demons".

The demon let out a huge roar. It was a somewhat sorrowful voice. The windowpanes on the classrooms near the central gardens began shaking. The students who had evacuated into the central gardens scattered like insects.

"That's the demon you have to turn back to a human. Looks like they're getting bigger and bigger." Hermes whispered.

Kino was running out of patience--she wanted to transform. Shizu, however, did not budge.

He muttered things like, "So that's the creature that threatens the school's peace…" and "… then I shall become its protector…" and other such nonsense. Kino's honest feelings were, 'just go, already!'.

No matter how strong she became after transforming, Kino was sure that a normal person like Shizu would only get in the way. He might even get hit by a stray bullet. Pervert Mask's interference was annoying enough, but getting Shizu involved might end up making things worse. Kino got a little depressed.

"If you find yourself in danger, make sure you escape, all right?" said Shizu, as he finally disappeared from the rooftop.

Kino slowly shook her head and looked down at the school grounds. The demon was no longer in the central gardens. Judging from the occasional tremors in the school building, it was probably rampaging through the school, breathing fire or something.

"Okay, Kino. It's time for you to transform." said Hermes, finally allowed to speak at above-whisper level. Kino sighed heavily.

"What's wrong?" asked Hermes.

"I just remembered…" Kino had a very serious expression on her face.

"Remembered what?"

"I'm hungry…" Kino said wearily. Normally, she would have been eating her curry udon at the deserted cafeteria, if the curry udon was being served today (which it was). But now, the dormitory students who had all evacuated were taking advantage of the forced early dismissal to crowd the cafeteria and eat their lunches.

"Then just finish it off quickly."

"But I don't wanna…" Kino complained.

"If you don't turn that demon back, you won't get any lunch. If that thing happens to get to the cafeteria, you might end up eating nothing but convenience store food until summer break."

With Hermes' reminder, Kino resolved herself to protect the cafeteria from which she bought her meals (they were delicious).

"All right, Hermes! I'm transforming!"

"That's more like it!"

Kino drew her model gun from the holster. She released the hammer with her thumb and raised her right hand into the air. She stood with her feet apart, twisted her hips, leaned back slightly, and elegantly bent her left arm. She was the spitting image of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Nice. Hm? You don't know the movie because it's too old? Google it.

It was now time for the transformation phrase. Kino said in a confident voice,

"From my cold! Dead! Hands!"

This was the transformation catchphrase. Special thanks to Mr. Cha**ton He**on (occupation: actor) from the US for sending an email saying, "Please use this for Pretty Kino's transformation phrase!".

The hammer struck the firing pin. The moment the sound of the igniting primer rang out, a bright light enveloped Kino's body.

Once the light had faded (there wasn't enough time this time, so I'm going with the short version)--

"Transformation complete! Mysterious Bishoujo Gun Fighter Rider Kino!" Hermes announced. That's right--Kino was no longer Kino. Even though her sailor uniform, belt, pouches, and appearance was completely unchanged, Kino was now the beautiful warrior Kino! A defender of justice with superhuman senses and endurance. The model gun in her right hand had transformed into the anti-demon superweapon Big Cannon~ Shining Iron Demon Destroyer… kind of. It looked the same, but its powers had definitely changed.

"Let's go, Hermes!"

Kino would enter the battle in order to protect the cafeteria, her lunch, and specifically, her summer curry udon!

-----

Kino ran down the stairs in search of the demon.

The Big Cannon was a special weapon that could only be fired once every transformation, so Kino could only use it when she was absolutely sure she would not miss. She had placed it in the holster and was holding a gun from her pouch in her right hand--a P90.

The P90 was approximately 50 centimetres in length. It looked like a long, thin box, almost unlike a gun. It could fire about 50 continuous shots. At the end of the gun was a cylindrical silencer.

"Where are you…? I have to finish this quick and get my curry udon!"

Kino walked through the deserted halls. Her eyes were on fire--this was what they called 'the spirit of hunger'.

"'Show yourself…"

"Huh? That way… I can feel its presence! Walk straight that way!" Hermes finally said something helpful. Kino looked straight at where she was aiming her P90 and silently stalked the halls.

"Upstairs. Up! And to the right. A little more--in that classroom!"

"But this is…" Kino went silent. The third floor classroom she entered at Hermes' instruction was--

"This is my classroom."

It was Kino's classroom.

"It's definitely in there."

"…"

Kino took a deep breath and gripped the P90 tightly. Then--

BANG!

She did something that might have gotten her sent to the principal's office (or if she was unlucky, the police) if she wasn't already transformed. She had kicked down the classroom's sliding door.

The door flew across the classroom. The pane of glass in the door shattered. At the same time, Kino dashed into the classroom and aimed the gun at the demon--

"Huh?"

Kino stopped herself from pulling the trigger.

"Hey! What's going on?!" asked a confused Kino.

Inside the classroom was not a 5-metre tall demon, but a female classmate Kino saw every day. The girl, crouching on the floor, seemed to have been frozen in fear at seeing Kino violently burst into the classroom. Her wide eyes were staring directly at Kino.

"Huh? What are you doing here? Couldn't you evacuate in time?" Asked Kino, lowering her gun.

"I… I…" The terrified girl barely managed to speak, albeit in a trembling voice.

"Don't worry! The demon's not around right now, so you can get away! I'll get you out--"

The moment Kino took a step towards the girl, Hermes shouted, "No, Kino! She's the demon!"

Kino stopped in her tracks, momentarily confused.

The next thing she saw was a punch to her own stomach.

"Kyaaa!"

Kino, punched in the stomach, was sent flying into the back of the classroom. The chalkboard she hit split in two, and several chairs and desks were knocked over as she fell to the ground.

The girl who had sent Kino flying with her stick-thin arm stood up and sneered.

"Hah! Serves you right, Mysterious Kino!" She said, with the speaking style of a middle-aged man.

"Don't shorten it like that…" Kino mumbled, still lying on the floor.

Then--

"Hiyaa!"

She pushed off the desks and chairs piled over her, got to her feet, and immediately took aim at the girl--no, the demon in girl's appearance.

The demon sneered. She had the face of a girl, but the smile looked quite evil.

"So you think you can shoot me, Mysterious Bishoujo Gun Fighter Rider Kino? Could you dare to shoot down your own classmate?"

"Yup."

Kino's answer was immediate.

She pulled the trigger without hesitation or mercy. She pumped the demon full of lead on automatic.

Ratatatatat! The sounds of gunfire were accompanied by bullets flying at supersonic speed. This particular gun could shoot 50 rounds per second. The countless shell casings danced on the floor.

The demon desperately tried to dodge. Several shots found their mark in its leg.

"Ugh!" It screamed in pain. The bullets, however, did not stop, let alone slow. The demon threw itself into the hallway, shattering the glass window. Stray bullets had torn apart several desks and a chalkboard.

"We're going after her, Hermes! I'm gonna finish this quick!"

The moment Kino leapt to her feet to chase the demon, however--

"I see you may need my help!"

She heard the most unwelcome voice ever from behind her. It was a handsome, clear voice.

"…"

Kino decided that she was just hearing things. It took her 0.008 seconds to decide to pretend to have heard nothing. 'I didn't hear that. This is not happening," she thought, and refused to even glance in the direction of the voice. She decided to leave the classroom immediately.

"When the maiden of justice finds herself in danger--"

Kino did her best to ignore this, telling herself that this could not be happening.

"A lone knight descends from the distant skies!"

A breeze.

With a cacophonic whoosh, a powerful gale swept through the classroom from the windows. The windowpanes shook violently.

"…"

Kino, having missed her chance to run out of the classroom, lowered her gaze. She shut her eyes and shook her head over and over again, as if refusing to acknowledge that this was actually happening. As soon as she turned around, HE would be there.

"Kino, behind you…"

"I know, Hermes."

Kino opened her eyes. She prepared herself and turned around with a scowl on her face.

A man was floating in midair.

A lone man was floating in midair, just outside the balcony.

He wore a white school uniform. A pocket watch hung out from his pocket, and a katana with a black scabbard was secured to his side. A silken white cape fluttered loudly from his shoulders.

"Dammit."

Kino sighed heavily, looking at the floating man.

He was probably a tidy-looking young man, but his eyes were covered by a white mask. It was pristine white, covering from his nose to his forehead. He wore sunglasses over his eyes. Atop his slightly long black hair were a pair of fluffy dog ears, and a bright red apple sat on the top of his head. A dove flew past him. In slow motion, at that.

The man was definitely floating in midair. Kino spotted a thin wire that hung from above. There was a metal wheel attached to the end of the wire--the man was standing on it and holding the wire with his right hand.

"Wahahahahaha! Here I come! Hiya!"

The man leapt onto the balcony giddily, and waved at the helicopter with the wire and wheel that was causing the galestorm.

"Thank you, helicopter! I owe you one for this amazing entrance!"

"…" Kino glared at him silently.

"Whoa! Oh, my back."

The moment Samoyed Mask cleared the windowsill with a line more suited to an elderly man--

BANG!

Kino fired the P90 without hesitation. The bullet smashed the apple on Samoyed Mask's head.

"Oh! What a violent declaration of love, Mysterious Bishoujo Gun Fighter Rider Kino! You're embarrassing me."

The man nonchalantly opened his arms for an embrace.

"Shut up! Don't move an inch, you pervert! Even your name is annoying! You always get in my way and make everything worse! Do you have something against me, Samoyed Mask?!" Kino yelled, burning with rage. Samoyed Mask, however, merely tilted his head.

"Hm? What are you talking about?"

"What am I talking about?! You--" The moment Kino was about to berate him, however--

"I am not Samoyed Mask." He interrupted Kino.

"What?"

"Samoyed Mask--the man whose true name is Samoyed Mask, the Pure-White Knight of Justice--is no more…" The man muttered, raising his face slightly, looking into the distance--or perhaps the ceiling--and continued theatrically with lots of dramatic pauses.

"He has gone… to the great inbetween of the matryoshka."

No one would ever understand what this guy was talking about.

"Then who the hell are you supposed to be?!" It was an obvious question. The man grinned, showing off his pearly whites. Then he ostentatiously pulled back his cape with his left hand.

"That is a good question! I shall answer--I am 'The Missionary of the Blade, Love, and Truth, Samoyed Mask α'!"

Tada! Ta-tatata!

An upbeat song began to play. It was his entrance song, 'Oh, Our Missionary of the Blade, Love, and Truth, Samoyed Mask α, is Here to Protect Us All!'. The showy prelude, instrumentals played by guitar, piano, saxophone, and drums, rang out through the classroom. The vocals soon began.

'Oh~ have you seen? His refreshing grin~ His fluttering cape~ Symbolizes justice~'. He was the vocalist of the song. He was admittedly quite the singer.
'He is a hero~ A true hero~ A bright-white comet that defends the school~ (spoken) I can't let Mysterious Kino take all the glory!'

"…"

Kino had an extremely annoyed look on her face.

Ratatatat!

She wordlessly opened fire with her P90.The cassette player at Samoyed Mask α's feet turned to non-burnable trash. The song immediately stopped.

"Ack! That was not nice, Mysterious Kino! This was quite expensive… I worked halfway to death at a part-time job to earn enough money for one…" Samoyed Mask α crouched on the ground, as if on the verge of tears.

"Get serious!"

On one of the pieces of scattered plastic was a scribble that read, 'property of the music department'.

"What's with that 'blah-blah Samoyed Mask' name?! The only thing different is that pretentiously embarrassing letter you added!"

'Mysterious Bishoujo Gun Fighter Rider Kino's pretty embarrassing too,' Hermes thought, but he didn't voice the opinion. Even though he was the one who made up her name in the first place.

In any case, our childish heroes continued to bicker.

"It's definitely different! Don't forget, I am Samoyed Mask α!"

"You're still Samoyed Mask, you pervert!"

"No! Don't forget the α!"

"Who cares?"

"Alpha--!"

"Shut up. What's with the helicopter, anyway?"

"Oh, I asked them for a quick ride, but they refused. So I hijacked it."

"That's illegal!"

"Anything goes for Justice."

"Why do you always have to be like that?!"

"That is a good question! It is because…"

"Because…?"

"My shining white cape! The skies--the azure skies. Let us dance with a smile, with open arms! Passionately! Freely! Childhood dreams, respect, and battles. Common logic--now! Oh, an eternal Fantasia! My side, canned food--A chord for every little twitch! The dawn we watched together that day… now do you understand?"

"You call that an EXPLANATION?!"

"You truly lack understanding."

"I'll shoot your face off!" Kino yelled, as she reached for Big Cannon.

"Control yourself. Remember, you only get one shot." Hermes stopped her calmly.

"Argh! Dammit, you perv! You'd better watch your back!" Kino yelled at the masked man. She then vaguely recalled that this wasn't the time for such things.

"Argh, this is so annoying… Let's pretend nothing happened and finish off the demon right now, Hermes! At this rate I'll starve to death!"

"Yeah. Let's end things quickly."

The P90 was nearly out of ammo, so Kino put it back into the pouch and fished out a larger gun.

The gun was called an FN Minimi. It was a cute name, but it was a military-use machine gun 1 metre in length, with a crude-looking metal body and a large magazine attached to it. The gun weighed about 7 kilograms on its own, but it was light as a feather to the transformed Kino.

Kino came out into the hallway through the door she had kicked open. She aimed the Minimi at waist level and prepared to fire at any moment.

"Go straight ahead. I can sense its presence." Hermes instructed. Kino walked along the hall, towards the centre of the school building.

The sailor uniform(-clad Kino) and the machine gun walked the deserted halls. Samoyed Mask α followed after her.

"Stop following me!" Kino yelled, without even turning around.

"No. This time, it will be dangerous for you to go alone. You will need my help." answered Samoyed Mask α.

Just as an enraged Kino turned around to yell, "all you ever do is get in my way!"--

"!"

she felt a sudden sense of bloodlust.

Kino stopped trying to argue with Samoyed Mask α and looked straight ahead.

"…" a serious look graced Kino's face. A single drop of cold sweat slid down her cheek.

"Can you feel it…? It's nearby…" Samoyed Mask α also turned his gaze and placed his hand upon the hilt of the katana, prepared to draw.

The long hallway was at the central area of the school building. Kino and Samoyed Mask α were at the very centre of the hall. There was nothing but solid wall to Kino's left, and her right was similarly blocked off, with the exception of the A/V room door.

"It's coming from over there." said Hermes.

"Can you figure out the distance, Hermes?"

"I can approximate."

"Good enough." said Kino. Hermes answered immediately.

"Approximately--30 metres. It's coming our way."

Kino gripped the Minimi tightly and checked with her finger to make sure that the safety was off. Even Samoyed Mask α was surprisingly refraining from idiocy and calmly preparing himself.

"25." said Hermes.

'Do your worst.' Kino muttered under her breath.

"20… 18."

"Huh?" Kino was surprised. The hall was a dead end, and there were about 25 metres to the music room at the end of the hall. It was strange that the demon was still not visible.

"16!"

"Wait a sec, Hermes! I don't see it!"

"14!"

"Wha-?!" Kino was extremely confused. She turned around to look behind her just in case, but the hall was deserted.

"I got it!" yelled Samoyed Mask α. "What?" Kino asked him. At this point, she didn't care who gave her the answers, as long as she could figure out where the demon was.

"12!"

"Mysterious Kino! Your partner--"

"10!"

"What about him?"

"8!"

"Your partner has switched the unit of measurement from metres to kilometres."

"…"

"Or perhaps kilohertz?"

Kino immediately regretted putting even the slightest of her hopes on this idiot.

"6! 4! 2! And I'm still on metres!" Hermes announced. And then--

"1!"

The demon was finally at 1 metre. They should be practically next to one another. However, the hallway was empty save for Kino and Samoyed Mask α. So--

"Above us!" The masked man the first to notice. He drew at lightning speed, leapt into the air, stabbed the katana deep into the ceiling, and landed--poorly. This was because the ceiling collapsed over them. Samoyed Mask α, having lost his balance, was tossed to the end of the hallway.

"Huh…?"

Countless monsters spilled from the hole in the ceiling. They were the ones Kino had seen earlier on the rooftop.

"Below us!" Kino quickly stepped back and opened fire with the Minimi.
Ratatatatatatat!

The gunshots rang out sharply and rhythmically through the hall. The ammunition belt was practically sucked into the gun, and empty shells spewed out of the other end. The gun continuously blasted orange flashes of light.
The bullets, moving at speeds of 900 metres per second, systematically annihilated the monsters. The ones that came from the hole in the ceiling were turned to dust instantly. However--

"There's too many of them!" Kino shouted. There was no end to the flow of monsters--they just kept coming like water from a broken water tap. It looked like they didn't even care that their brethren were being killed right beside them. The ones that managed to use their fellow monsters at meatshields and make it into the hall filled the area and approached Kino.

"This isn't good…" Kino muttered, stepping back. She fired continuously, moving the gun to the left and the right, but she wasn't making a dent in their numbers. 

The Minimi would soon run out of ammo.

"Let's retreat for now, Hermes!" Kino shouted, still firing away.

"Sounds good. What about the mask guy? He's knocked out somewhere over there, right?" Asked Hermes, concerned about Samoyed Mask α.

"I'll write his parents a letter. 'Your son died honourably in battle'." Kino answered nonchalantly.

The gunshots suddenly stopped. The machine gun in Kino's hand had gone silent--it was out of ammo. A machine gun without ammo is about as useful as air conditioning during a blackout.

Immediately, Kino put the Minimi back into the pouch. However, it wouldn't fit in properly, so Kino turned the pouch upside down and poured out its contents onto the floor. She changed the placements of the firearms to make sure they would all fit, and fanned the superheated Minimi and cooled it so it wouldn't be burn-inducingly hot. She barely managed to fit everything neatly back in the pouch, close the lid, and put the pouch back on her belt. All of this took her 0.005 seconds.

Kino turned around and ran for her life. She was quite skilled at running away. Kino took out a dozen hand grenades from one of the pouches, pulled the pins, and tossed them behind her as she ran.

"Fire in the hole!" Hermes shouted excitedly. Twelve explosions in total rocked the hallway. The monsters chasing Kino scattered.

"Goodbye, Mask of Justice. I won't let your sacrifice be in vain. Probably." Kino's eyes were filled with zero tears as she escaped. Not even an iota of a bit.

-----

"…"

The smoke from the explosions finally cleared. The walls, the ceiling, and the floor of the hallway was in ruins. A man in a white cape was lying face-down amidst the rubble. In his right hand was a broken katana.

"…"

The man was silent. He didn't even move--it was difficult to tell if he was even breathing.

The formerly pristine-white cape was tattered and stained with dust and smoke.

About two dozen monsters that had survived the explosions surrounded the man. It didn't look like they would even need to land the killing blow.

Goodbye, Samoyed Mask α. Your bravery in the face of battle will remain in the hearts of the readers for all eternity.

Farewell, Missionary of the Blade, Love, and Truth, Samoyed Mask α! Farewell!

"Hmm? I was waiting for Mysterious Kino to come running back to rescue me, guns ablaze, shouting, 'I can't leave you behind! I understand now--I love you!'… you mean that's not happening?"

Nope.

"That's a bit cruel, don't you think? We're partners! We've fought together all this time!"

All you did was get in the way.

"Bonnie and Clyde from the film of the same name and Gordon and Shughart from Black Hawk Down were all based on us."

Are you trying to get me sued? All four of them were real people.

"But-but-but-"

This is getting annoying. If you keep acting like a baby, I'll cut Samoyed Mask α from the book.

"I guess I have no choice…" the man in the white cape muttered, as he stood up. The monsters around him roared in surprise. They immediately attacked him simultaneously.

A belligerent smile graced the masked man's lips.

"Hmph. This is child's play."

Sliceslicewhooshwhoosh

The katana flashed, its movement betrayed only by the sound of it cutting through the wind.





Only 1 second after Samoyed Mask α had swung his sword--

There was nothing but piles of ash around him.

Samoyed Mask α lightly shook the pristine silver katana to shake off the blood and sheathed it--wait, wasn't it just broken?

"Do not concern yourself with such trivial matters." He sheathed the katana.

He then uncrumpled his pristine white cape--wait, wasn't it just stained and tattered?

"Do not concern yourself with such trivial matters." He uncrumpled his pristine white cape.

"Hmm… where could Mysterious Kino have gone?" Samoyed Mask α mumbled, as he sniffed the air.

"Sniff… sniff…"

Then, he turned in the direction Kino disappeared to.

"That way!"

What are you, a dog?

-----

 Kino and Hermes were in the fourth floor library. It was a space about three times the size of a normal classroom, with bookshelves that reached all the way up to the ceiling. Of course, it was deserted. Left behind on the desks were bags, books, pieces of paper with illustrations and stats, dice, pencils, and erasers.

"Looks like you've lost them for now." said Hermes.

Kino, who was sitting on the librarian's counter near the centre of the library with her legs swinging, sighed.

"Ohhh… I'm so tired. I'm hungry…"

The clock on the wall indicated that it was already halfway through lunch period.

"Things are a bit weird this time." said Hermes.

"It is, right?! Summoning all those monsters--that was really low."

"Yeah, that too. But…"

Kino looked up, surprised at Hermes' unusually serious tone.

"What is it?"

"So far, the demons we've seen were just students succumbing to the temptation through stuff like stress and rampaging without much mental faculty. They went around randomly causing destruction, or tried to commit suicide. They were running away from you because you were turning them back to normal.

"Sounds about right. So what about this time?"

"It's different. This one's working towards something specific."

"Like…?" asked Kino. Hermes hesitated uncharacteristically.

"Its goal…"

Kino, surprised, lifted Hermes up to eye-level.

"What's it trying to do?"

"Its goal is…"

"Its goal is you, Mysterious Gun Fighter Rider Kino."

Samoyed Mask α was the one who answered Kino's question. He had just quietly slid open the library door and entered.

"Oh. you're alive. What's this about me being the demon's target?" Kino asked, with an unusually serious expression on her face.

Samoyed Mask α shut the door tightly and walked over to Kino silently. He then leaned against a desk in the young adult literature section, in front of the counter, and crossed his arms.

"Simply put… it holds a grudge." said Samoyed Mask α.

"…"

For a moment, Kino went silent. Then she spoke up.

"Y-you mean someone in my class hates me enough to kill me?"

"That is correct." Samoyed Mask α answered seriously, as if he was a completely different person from before.

"No way…"

Da-Dun! (sound effect representing psychological shock)

Kino was terribly shaken. Certainly, she had stupefied others through her love of eating, but to be harboured a grudge against--this was unthinkable by her standards.

Kino dejectedly turned her gaze to the library carpet.

"If you need a heart-to-heart, I'm here to listen." said Samoyed Mask α in a soft voice.

Kino did not look up.

"Maybe she shouldn't talk?" asked Hermes.

"It's for her own sake."

"I guess…"

Several seconds passed by in silence. Posted on the wall was a notice saying, 'Quiet in the library'.

"Even still…" Kino finally spoke. She raised her face. She didn't appear happy by any stretch of the word, but her eyes shone with stern determination. "Even still, I'm going to fight, win, and seal away that demon. Because if I don't…"

"If you don't…?" Samoyed Mask α asked optimistically. Kino's reply was full of energy.

"If I don't defeat that demon, I won't be able to eat my curry udon!"
Samoyed Mask α's lips curled into a satisfied smile. His sparkling white teeth glinted in the light.

"I expected no less from my partner, Mysterious Gun Fighter Rider Kino!"
Kino also smirked. "Nah, we're not partners." she didn't forget to refute the masked man's claim.

"All right. 'Those who don't work don't get to eat!' Let's do this!"

"Yes, the real battle begins now. Let us remember our previous fight and figure out a more effective battle strategy."

"Yeah!" Kino leapt off the counter and looked back upon the fight so far. She went over it over and over again.

"YOU'RE the one who messed it all up!" Kino yelled, as she kicked the man standing before her.

"It's not very courteous to blame others." said Samoyed Mask α as he dodged with a laugh. The desk that Kino's kick landed on was heavily dented. About two hundred books fell from one of the shelves.

A loud explosion sounded, as if swallowing the sound of the falling books.

"Hmph!"

"It's here!"

They both reacted at once, turning their sights to the hole in the left end of the ceiling. Samoyed Mask α prepared to draw, and Kino took out a shotgun from her pouch--a pump-action Winchester M189 trench gun. She loaded the cartridge and got into firing position, like Benedict or the man in black from a certain light novel.(1) Well, it's the same gun, for starters.

Once again, fur-covered monsters swarmed into the library from the hole in the ceiling.

"There'll be no end to this if we fight them head-on. It will be easier for us to strategically retreat and defeat the demon that's behind all this." said Samoyed Mask α.

"Agreed. For once." said Kino.

"All right, then. We will escape via the balcony on the right side of the library." the moment Samoyed Mask α said this, however, the right ceiling of the library broke with a crash. Unsurprisingly, monsters swarmed out from there as well.

"Huh?" "Huh?" Kino and Samoyed Mask said at once. They were surrounded.

There was nowhere to run. The monsters slowly made their way to the counter.

"This is… what do we do now?"

"This is…. trouble." Samoyed Mask α answered.

"Yeah."

"When the maiden of justice finds herself in danger…"

"That guy in the mask is going to help, right?" Kino found herself actually expecting something from the man standing beside her.

"SOMEBODY PLEASE SAVE US!" Samoyed Mask α screamed at the top of his lungs. Kino scolded herself for putting the tiniest bit of trust in him.

But this was definitely a dangerous situation. Things weren't looking too good for Kino.

She looked around. Countless monsters surrounded her in all directions. The only one who might have been able to help had proven himself to be a useless waste of space.

If she were to push Samoyed Mask α into the mass of monsters and use him as a stepping stone to launch herself towards the door, 8 metres away, Kino might have a chance to escape.

"It's a good a plan as any…" she muttered.

The monsters drew nearer. Kino and Samoyed Mask α stepped back and found themselves standing with their backs to the counter.

"Aha!" Samoyed Mask α cried, as if he had just had an epiphany. His gaze was fixed upon some dice and papers scattered on one of the desks. He took a deep breath and shouted--

"T-! R-! P-! G-!"

Samoyed Mask α was the kind of man who would never lose his unbelievable sense of humour even in times of peril.

"You idiot! Don't scare me like that!" Kino smacked Samoyed Mask α with her palm. "You do that again, and I'll shoot your ear off!"

"I'm sorry."

Even as the two continued to banter, the number of monsters had increased and closed in. The library was full of them--it was 80% monster and 20% floor. At this point, they couldn't see the carpet.

"Danger levels increasing." said Hermes. He was right.

Samoyed Mask spoke up. "Mysterious rest omitted Kino. Leave this place to me and go--I shall fall today to secure your future. I would gladly accept this end." they were honourable words shining with heroism.

"That's what I've actually been thinking for a bit now. But… it's gonna be pretty hard at this point…" Kino's answer was merciless.

The monsters were less than 3 metres away from them now. Cold sweat ran down their backs. Would this be the end of Gakuen Kino? It's only been two chapters. Kino, Samoyed Mask α, and the author, had just begun to worry. But suddenly--!

BANG!

It was the sound of the heavy library door being kicked down. Kino and Samoyed Mask looked up.

The door flew into several of the monsters and turned them into pancakes. A lone man stood before the doorway.

He was dressed in black. Black boots, black pants, black trenchcoat, black gloves--he was clad in black from head to toe. The sunglasses that obscured his slightly lowered face were also black.

His hair, however, was white. It was pristine, like the colour of freshly fallen snow. His long white hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail.

He wasn't very tall. He could probably get away with being called a student at this very school.

"…"

The man stood at the doorway empty-handed, feet apart, arms down at his sides, and still as a sculpture.

"Hey, it's dangerous here." warned Kino. Monsters were everywhere--did this guy come here, knowing that?

"That man… that coat… It can't be!" exclaimed Samoyed Mask α. At the same time, one of the monsters let out a howl. As if on cue, the other monsters charged at the young man at the door.

Oh, it's all over for him. The poor young man who had come to the library to read a book after eating lunch would surely be torn to shreds. The moment Kino thought all this, however--

Whoosh! Swoosh!

The man merely swung his arms downward. A black mass appeared from each of his coat sleeves. They were guns--a pair of identical guns emerged from the sleeves and found themselves in his grip. All this happened in an instant, almost like magic.

"Those are Uzis."

Just as Kino said, the guns were Uzis--a type of Israeli submachine guns. The metal collapsing stock had been removed. It was about 50 centimetres in length. It was about 30 centimetres in height because of the magazine sticking out of the bottom. If you thought, "Wait a sec, how did guns that big fit in his sleeves?" please don't think about it too hard.

The man with the Uzis and the power of 40 9mm bullets slowly raised his head. He had a youthful face. The white hair, the slim face, and the pitch-black sunglasses faced Kino and Samoyed Mask α.

The moment the monsters finally made to strike the young man, he made his move.

He crossed his arms in front of his face at supersonic speed. It looked kind of like he was trying to cover his face, but that wasn't it. He was aiming to the left with the gun in his right hand, and aiming to the right with the one in his left.

Ratatatatatat!

The two guns fired at once--the monsters disintegrated before the shells scattered to the floor.

The young man spread his arms wide. He moved so quickly that it looked as if his arms had teleported instantaneously from their prior position. He pulled the trigger again. The gun in his right hand took down the monsters above him and the gun in his left fed bullets to monsters behind him on his right. Monsters were turning to ash in spades.

The ensuing battle looked eerily like a well-choreographed, robotic dance. The boy instantly shot down monsters approaching from all 360 degrees--even those coming from above--without taking a single step. He took them down systematically, starting with the ones nearest to him. The moments when he aimed squarely at each monster and pulled the trigger were the only times his movements were clearly visible. The afterimage of his arms, the guns, and the ensuing gunsmoke gave the boy a vague resemblance to the senjukannon(2).

"…"

Kino was dumbstruck by the sight.

"Namuabitabutsu, kanzeonbosatsu(3)." Samoyed Mask α chanted the Buddhist sutra.

The young man continued to shoot down the hordes of monsters.

Oh, wait! The Uzi in his right hand had run out of ammo. In an instant, the young man released the magazine catch, dropping the empty magazine onto the carpet. He bent his right arm 90 degrees towards the floor, and another magazine fell from his sleeve and was loaded onto the gun. He had 40 additional shots he could make. The young man fired away with his right and reloaded the gun in his left hand. He left himself no openings--the young man just kept firing.

After the battle, it came to light that all of this took only four seconds.

The gunfire ceased and the Uzis disappeared back into his sleeves. By the time the young man had returned to his initial senjukannon-like pose, the library was clear of monsters.

The last shell dropped onto a desk with a high-pitched ting.

(1) Reference to another one of Sigsawa Keiichi's light novel series, Allison.
(2) Senjukannon seems to be a benevolent thousand-armed Buddhist deity.
(3) Namuabitabutsu, kanzeonbosatsu is a common Buddhist sutra.

2 comments:

  1. I have a question.

    I'm curious about the John Travolta part and the mr. Cha**on o.o did mr Sigsawa really wrote that?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yep! It's in the Korean text, so I'm pretty sure it's also in the Japanese. I nearly fell out of my chair when I read those parts for the first time. Sigsawa surprisingly knows a lot about western culture. o_O

    ReplyDelete