Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Gakuen Kino Chapter Four Part Two

In this chapter: the conclusion of a story arc: Little Girls With Grenades, Not-so-Elite Military Forces, and Mysterious Nonhumans from Another World!

-----

Kino had come to a point at which she could finally defeat the beautifully dreaming demon in one shot.

"Should I just shoot it in the back?"

"Why not?"

Kino and Hermes were discussing the situation.

"Isn't it kinda underhanded?"

"Doesn't matter, does it?"

"I think I can get it in one hit. You think I should?"

"Why not?"

"I guess… then it'd be all over."

Watching the demon staggering away, a mere metre from her, Kino put her GP-100 back in her pouch, not having fired a single shot. She then drew Big Cannon from the holster on her belt. It was a weapon that could only be fired once per transformation, but any demon who was hit would regain human form.

"All right! At this rate, I'll finish in time for lunch! Food, food!" Kino said happily as she released the hammer.

She could shoot with one hand, but firmly held the gun in both hands, just in case.

"That was easy."

All Kino had to do now was put pressure on the thumb resting on the trigger!

At that moment--

CRASH!

A bulletproof window shattered, frame and all, before Kino's eyes. A white shadow jumped into the hall from the classroom.

"Hyah!"

The one standing in the hall as glass shards rained down upon him was a man dressed in white.

A white standing-collar uniform, and a fluttering white cape.

At his waist was a sword housed in a black scabbard. His handsome face was covered by a mask, and his head was decorated with a pair of white puppy ears and a bright red apple.

"…"

Kino was silent.

There is only one character in this novel who is so stupidly outrageous. One is more than enough.

"I see you may need my help!" said the pervert, getting to his feet as soon as he had landed and showing off his sparkling white teeth.

Across from him, the former sitting duck--the demon, had begun to flee, scared by the loud noise.

"When the maiden of justice finds herself in danger--a lone knight descends from the distant skies!" said the pervert, while appearing more like he was rescuing the demon.

"It has been a while, Mysterious Kino! Have you kind words of love for this familiar face?"








"GET OUT OF MY WAY!"






Kino's answer was immediate.

Screaming, she pulled out an M4 carbine with a 100-round magazine, turned off the safety in the blink of an eye, and fired away on automatic.

The hall was filled with the din of bullets as shell casings fell to the floor like waterfalls. The 5.56mm rounds fired from the M4 flew at Pervert Mask faster than the speed of sound. However--

"Your reaction troubles me, Mysterious Bishoujo Gun Fighter Rider Kino."

The pervert drew at the speed of light, and swung his katana at inhuman speed. Every last bullet was either blocked by the sword or a tomato from the man's pocket.

Click.

The number of round remaining dropped to zero. The bolt, having gone back and forth 99 times, stopped in place. A hundred shell casings littered the floor.

"Hah… hah…"

Kino breathed heavily, shoulders heaving in rage and fatigue.

"And I had missed you oh so much… Well, I suppose it may be a bit much to demand a mature, romantic reunion from a young lady like yourself." The pervert spoke like an old man, and wiped the tomatoes from his mask with a no-name brand handkerchief.

The demon had already rounded the corner and disappeared from the hallway.

"You… pervert… no, Samoyed Mask… you got a grudge against me or something?" Kino asked the pervert--Samoyed Mask--with a stony grin on her face. As a side note, a Samoyed is a breed of dog from Russia, known for its long, soft, white fur and a face that makes it look like it's always smiling. Riku is one.

Samoyed Mask cocked his head and replied, "Absolutely not."

"Then… you're just doing this for your sick amusement…?" Kino asked again. Samoyed Mask smiled even more broadly and responded.

"I do not partake amusement from this, Mysterious Kino. My only motive is pure, unadulterated love for you that drives me to strive to protect you, a warrior of justice. Even though you are completely flat-chested."

BANG!

Kino opened fire with a Sturm Ruger Blackhawk .44 Magnum Revolver, having drawn and shot with her left hand.

"You rotten bastard!" she screamed. Kino released the hammer and--BANG! She fired again.

"What colour is your blood supposed to be?!"(1)

(What could it be? Please pick from the five choices below.
A. Red
B. Rouge
C. Rosso
D. Tomato-coloured
E. All of the above. This question is worth 20 points.)

Samoyed Mask, holding a placard stating the above, dodged Kino's shots BANG! by moving his head. After all, BANG! accurate shots were easiest to dodge. It was BANG! partially Kino's fault, though, BANG!  for stubbornly continuing to aim at his forehead and nowhere else.

She had spent all six rounds, and was out of ammo.

"Hah… hah…"

That was a total waste of bullets, and all Kino got in return was more fatigue. She fell to her knees in exhaustion.

Samoyed Mask took the time to begin introducing himself to Kino.

"I am 'Samoyed Mask β, the Pristine Guardian Attempter'! Is your town in need of justice? Call now, and I will rush to your aid!"

The BGM this time was--youwantmetostopokayokayI'llstopitnow

"I didn't call you!" Kino yelled, head bowed. Of course, Samoyed Mask β would not be going around dressed like this in the first place if he cared about something so trivial.

"Now, Mysterious Kino. Let us protect justice together. There was once a quote from a film that said 'Half the world will be outraged if we protect justice'(2), but that does not matter! As long as the other half can truly smile, our battle--our sacrifice will surely not be in vain."

Samoyed Mask β was being surprisingly serious today. He was not himself. Maybe it was something he ate?

"And I hope this 'other half' will all be young women."

Never mind, it's him. Wait a sec, isn't that biologically impossible?

"You must work hard to make your dreams come true!"

Ain't gonna happen.

"No…"

Kino staggered to her feet, behind the teary-eyed Samoyed Mask β.

"I… want to get rid of that demon ASAP…"

"That is why this is no time for you to be sitting around here, Mysterious Kino! You must work hard in inverse proportion to your chest size."

"…"

TING. Some sort of seed appeared in Kino's mind.(3) She got the urge to fire every single weapon in her arsenal at Samoyed Mask β, but she barely managed to restrain herself.

"Dammit…" She swore instead of firing. Bullets had zero effect on this masked pervert.

"Damn… how do you dodge bullets like that?"

Samoyed Mask β immediately raised his pointer finger and replied.

"That is a good question! I shall answer--"

"And the answer is?!" Kino practically yelled.

Samoyed Mask β smiled refreshingly.

"It is because I can hear the breath of the wind."

"Wha-?"

"The winds created by bullets… if I can feel this wind, I can detect the bullet beforehand and dodge it. It is a simple task. Anyone can do it--in fact, it would be strange for anyone to not be able…"

"…"

Kino immediately regretted asking him for any coherent answers.

She then recalled that this was a painfully familiar situation, and remembered the phrase "Even a monkey can do little more than regret.".

"Now, let us destroy that demon together!"

Watching the energetic Samoyed Mask β, Kino quietly muttered, "So guns aren't the only answer…"

This wasn't the kind of thing that a normal schoolgirl would say, but let's put that aside for now.

"Anyway, my goal for this term is to get my hands on a powerful superweapon that can annihilate that pervert."

Kino steeled her resolve.

"I hope that works out." Hermes said, as if this was none of his business. Which was true, in a sense.

Putting resolutions aside, the demon was still on the loose.

"Got it? Don't bother me!" Kino said to Samoyed Mask β, and drew another firearm from her pouch. It was a Czech-made CZ 100 double action semi-automatic handgun. She loaded it and began walking the halls, following the demon, ignoring Samoyed Mask β.

"Then let us go!" Samoyed Mask β followed after Kino like a dog.

"…"

Veins began popping in Kino's forehead. She didn't turn around, however. Kino did her best to continue ignoring him. 'I can't play into his hands. I have to ignore him semipermanently. I decided to do that in chapter one, but why did I keep talking to him at all?!' Kino was feeling a great deal of regret.

Of course, Samoyed Mask β followed from behind, asking things like,

"Guess what? What do you think we should name our combination attack?"

or,

"Guess what? It's cheating to wear leggings under your skirt."

but Kino ignored him completely.

Every time, she longed to switch from the CZ 100 to Big Cannon, but Hermes would always hold her back.

But--

"Come to think of it… you know, on those hot summer nights when you don't cover your feet with your blanket? Do you not sometimes feel something suddenly pulling at your ankles?"

Kino reacted to this one. Getting goosebumps all over, she turned around and--

"Kyaaaa! What was that for?! Now I'll never be able to sleep with my feet out!"

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!

she wasted five rounds with her CZ 100. Five innocent tomatoes also lost their lives.

Suddenly--

"Perhaps you need my assistance?"

A mysterious voice spoke to the duo. Its source was soon revealed to be the young man in black, who was writing "Defeat Shizu" on the blackboard not too long ago.

"Oh! It's you!"

His face was familiar to Kino.

"Detective Wanwan!"

The young man called 'Detective Wanwan' nodded.

That's right. His name was Detective Wanwan.

He was a skilled young man who had mastered the Septuple-Gun Fist Style, a fearsome art founded by Prince Shotoku which involved dual-wielding a pair of guns at incredible speeds.

Of course, you wouldn't need any further explanation if you have already read the first book. And there's no reason for anyone who hasn't read it to have bought this one.

However, this young man's true identity was still a mystery that had yet to be revealed in the story. Who could he possibly be? Hey, you there! Stop laughing.

In Kino's mind, 'Detective Wanwan = A pretty useful guy'.

So she smiled and greeted him.

"Hey! It's been a while. Kinda late today, aren't ya?"

Her attitude towards him was polar opposite to the way she had treated Samoyed Mask β earlier.

"Tch. Luckybastardluckybastard."

Samoyed Mask β kicked a pebble aside, sulking.

"I'm sorry I'm late. I had something to take care of, you see…" Detective Wanwan apologized quietly, with an expressionless face.

Kino replied with words like 'no, don't worry about it', and 'I didn't mean it like that', but Detective Wanwan could never tell her the truth that he was late because he had been so focused on writing "Defeat Shizu" on the blackboard.

That blackboard was currently whiter than the tundra in February. Detective Wanwan, not satisfied after having filled the board with "Defeat Shizu" in normal-sized letters, began filling up the gaps in the letters 'D', for instance, with tiny "Defeat Shizu"s. With a bloodcurdling expression, at that.

"All right! Now that all three of us are gathered here, we must charge! Charge at the demon!"

Smiling, Samoyed Mask β raised his katana into the air. Kino and Detective Wanwan followed the pervert for now. However--

Whisperwhisperwhisper?
Whisperwhistper. Whisperwhisperwhisper. Whisper?
Whisperwhisper. Whisperwhisperwhisper.

Kino and Detective Wanwan spoke quietly amongst themselves. Their conversation consisted entirely of ways in which they could get rid of Samoyed Mask β once they had sealed away the demon.

-----

Meanwhile, in a certain student's head--

"You have done well to make it this far, warriors!" said the Overlord, proudly sitting in his throne. He looked just like any fifty-year old man, but he carried himself like an Overlord. He wore a black cape and was wearing a helmet adorned with strange horns.

The story in this dream was nearing its climax. The party had finally arrived at the Overlord's Castle, having braved all kinds of peril and defeated many enemies. However, just as our hero bravely drew his sword and charged at the Overlord--

"Excellent job in guiding my pawns here, Bell." the Overlord said suddenly. And while our hero was still reeling in shock, Bell slipped away from the party and walked up to the Overlord's throne.

"It can't be… Bell, please tell me he's lying!"

He was astonished.

"I knew it!"

The knight's suspicions were confirmed.

"…"

And as Bell looked on sadly, the Overlord began explaining her true identity.

Just as anyone could tell from how she travelled through time and space, Bell was not human. No normal human in this world could do such a thing. She was a being created by the Overlord's great power. Da-dun! (sfx)

She only existed because the Overlord wished dearly for her existence. She would simply fade away should the Overlord be killed.

That was why Bell could never betray him. That was why she had completed her mission of bringing the hero and his party to the Overlord.

"But why would you want to bring me here?" He asked, and the Overlord replied with something resembling fondness.

"Hero from across time and space--does my face not look familiar to you?"

The hero fell into thought for a moment, and answered that the Overlord somewhat resembled his own father.

The Overlord grinned, and stood up from his throne. He swished his cape and revealed the shocking truth!

"That is only natural! After all, I am--"

"It can't be! You are my father?!"

"No."

Luke, he is not your father?

"I am… you!"

The Overlord's explanation went thus:

The hero and the Overlord were the same person. He had crossed time and space to come to this place. However, this was a very long time ago. Alone, he was persecuted in this place so far away from home.

The wise Queen's predecessor was a typical tyrant, and the world was, accordingly, a terrible place. 

Having his hopes broken and dreams destroyed, he strayed from the path of good. He trained himself in magic and eventually became Overlord. Welcome to the Dark Side.

"I am old now. My body is a wreck, twisted by the overuse of magics. You should have seen my last checkup results. And here I was, so close to taking over this world completely. That is why I chose and summoned another 'me', to take my place as Overlord."

"Me?!"

"That is correct. You can never trust anyone but yourself--therefore, you are the only one fit to succeed me!"

That was why he created Bell, the kind of girl that his younger self would follow after without question, as his guide to this world. All in order to make him the next Overlord.

"That 'Legendary Sword' multiplies your power. And as its master, you and Bell will succeed me and rule this world together!"

All of their hard work, and the slow but steady increase in the adventure's difficulty was for the ultimate purpose of training him.

Most protagonists in adventure stories don't die, but in this case, he was alive because he was the "hero". All of this was part of the Overlord's plot. The Queen and the other party members had assisted in this scheme without even knowing the truth.

"How… how could this be…?"

Having been betrayed by his beloved Bell, and having inadvertently betrayed his trusted party members, he--

-----

RAWWWWWWWWR!

The demon was crying out .

RAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWR!

The demon was crying out in the A/V room. It was breaking desks, smashing the projectors, and ripping the curtains as if in serious denial.

And the trio was watching all this from beside the door. Kino, Samoyed Mask β, and Detective Wanwan were quietly spying on it from the hallway.

"I can get it… in one shot, from this distance. I'll just slowly sneak into the classroom, and BANG!"

Kino said quietly, making sure the demon wouldn't hear.

"In that case, I will provide support fire to make sure the demon does not produce any monsters." said Detective Wanwan, in a reliably quiet voice. He held in each hand a Desert Eagle .50 AE, known for the destructive quality of each individual shot.

"What about me?" asked Samoyed Mask β.

'Go away.', and 'Go to Hell.' were Kino and Detective Wanwan's honest opinions, but they weren't childish enough to say these things in the current situation.

"Hmm… How about you watch our backs from the hallway?"

"That sounds like the right course of action. We'll trust you with this task."

These were very mature responses. Of course, adults are all liars.

Now that they had decided on a course of action, it was time to begin preparations. Kino checked the Big Cannon, and Detective Wanwan confirmed that the Desert Eagle's safety was off. The bored Samoyed Mask β, who had nothing but a katana--

"Ta-da! It's a dove!"

quietly practiced magic tricks.

It was finally time for the final battle.

The people in the demon's head were also in the middle of their final battle. The party attacked the Overlord (and Bell).

"Oh no… what am I supposed to do…?" He cradled his head.

And the demon stopped as if in correspondence. It was a great opening for Kino and the others.

"All right! Let's go on the count of five! Got it?"

"I'm ready."

Five seconds until Kino and Detective Wanwan would unleash a combination attack.

Gulp. Kino swallowed.

Detective Wanwan took a deep breath.

2, 3, 4, 5-

"Charge!"

Was it Samoyed Mask β who counted '5'? It was way too fast. Hurrying in a situation like this could only bring about disaster. And that wasn't even the biggest problem.

"You idiot!"

"What're you doing?!"

BANG! Samoyed Mask β completely ignored the plan, jumped over the heads of the surprised Kino and Detective Wanwan, and loudly kicked down the door. He leapt into the A/V room.

Of course, the demon turned around, surprised by the noise. The planned sneak attack fell into oblivion.

Samoyed Mask β drew his katana in the middle of the classroom. Teeth sparkling, he shouted clearly--

"I am the Warrior of Justice who fights to defend this school, the nobly-named Samoyed Mask β, the Pristine Guardian Attempter! Now, let us fight like men!"

"What are you doing, challenging him to a duel?" Kino slapped her forehead.

"…"

Detective Wanwan was dumbstruck by this act of idiocy. Meanwhile, the demon reacted immediately and tore out some of its mane, tossing it around the room. Soon the A/V room filled up with monsters.

"Come at me!"

Samoyed Mask β tapped his left hand lightly with his right hand, which was holding the katana. In an instant, a katana appeared in his left hand as well. This would be the first time he's showcased his dual-wielding. Magic is a wonderful thing.

RAAAAWWR!

"Haaaaaah!

Swishwhooshclangclangwhoosh!

Monsters charged at Samoyed Mask β from every direction. Samoyed Mask β, meanwhile, went on his invincible dual-wielding rampage. Monsters quickly went down and turned to ash, but the demon continued to create more of them. It seemed like this would turn into a battle of attrition.

"Now, Mysterious one! While I hold them off--you must finish it!" said Samoyed Mask β, almost being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers. However--

"What kind of movies do you like, Detective Wanwan?"

"Well… Actually, I'm quite fond of low-key romantic comedies."

"Really? That's surprising."

Kino and Detective Wanwan were having a lighthearted conversation, leaning against the wall that separated the hallway from the A/V room. It seemed they had given up on going inside.

"Mysterious Flat Chest! Perverted Peeping Sunglasses! Now! You must defeat the demon! I cannot last much longer!"

They could hear the sound of katanas swinging through the air, the demon's cries, and this voice from the A/V room.

"Me? These days I've been watching nothing but airplane-related movies. I happened to rent this old movie called 'Beagles - The Soldier Who Crossed Time and Space'(4), and it was pretty good."

"Oh, I've seen that one on TV back in Belgium. It's the one with the ordinary New Yorker being sent back in time to World War I and becoming a pilot, correct? It was an unusual concept, but I enjoyed it as well."

"Yeah, I really like those biplanes. I wanna try piloting one someday."

"That sounds wonderful. Should the opportunity present itself, please allow me to ride with you."

"You want a ride? Great! But I can't guarantee your safety."

"Hahaha! What a scary thought."

Kino and Detective Wanwan ignored Samoyed Mask β completely.

"Damn! Whoa! What the-! Tch. Ack!"

Samoyed Mask β's voice was becoming more and more desperate.

"Sounds like he's just about finished."

"Yes. Any minute now…"

Kino and Detective Wanwan's voices were becoming more and more terrifying.

"Gyaah! Ouch! Dammit! Oh… Gak…"

Samoyed Mask β was in trouble.

And when Pervert Mask finds himself in danger--

"Looks like I'll be much better off now… I hope it's sunny tomorrow, too."

The heroine does nothing but worry about the weather!

"…"

Of course, there was no way Detective Wanwan would go in to help, either. He had wanted to land the killing blow himself, but beggars can't be choosers. He must be thinking, 'This is an acceptable conclusion' right about now.

"Whoa!"

Looks like Samoyed Mask β was finished. The sound of steel cutting air vanished. They could now hear the sound of an apple being crushed. The end was nigh.

"…"

Kino soundlessly readied Big Cannon.

"…"

Detective Wanwan, equally silent, readied his grip on the Desert Eagles.

"…"

And the girl soundlessly walked right by them.

"Huh?"

"Hm?"

The girl? Kino and Detective Wanwan looked at each other, unable to believe their eyes.

She was real. They definitely saw her--a little girl passing under their lines of sight and travelling from left to right.

The astonished duo looked to their right.

They thought she might have been a ghost, but she was definitely corporeal. She was a mysterious girl with white hair. She wore grey shorts that showed off her stick-thin legs and a brown shirt with a circular cut.

The girl stopped in front of the closed A/V room door and reached for the handle with her tiny hands.

"Wait! Don't go inside!"

Kino hurriedly tried to stop her.

"Please! It's dangerous to go in right now!"

Detective Wanwan was equally desperate. This girl was definitely no student. She must surely be a child living in the area, having wandered in by accident.

However--

"…"

The girl stared at them wordlessly. And she spoke for the first time, looking at them with her emerald-green eyes. It was a surprisingly long sentence.

"I can't just abandon him. After all, he'd choose to die rather than abandon me."

"?"

"?"

Neither Kino nor Detective Wanwan understood what she meant. Only Hermes reacted ("Ohhh.'), muttering quietly.

This was so sudden that the duo was frozen for about three seconds.

"Oh!"

"Look out!"

The moment they were shocked back into reality--

BOOM!

The A/V room exploded.

"Whoa!"

"Grk…!"

Kino and Detective Wanwan were caught in the force of the blast. The walls cracked but held, but the door was not so lucky. Black and grey smoke spilled out into the hallways, and was sucked into the ventilation shaft.

"What just happened…?"

"This scent… Those were Mk 2 grenades!"

Kino and Detective Wanwan stood at the doorway, preparing to fire.

And what greeted them was--

The sight of the ruined A/V room.

The sight of the floor, caked with several centimetres of ashes that used to be monsters.

The sight of the ceilings and walls, over five broken katanas and a lot of shrapnel sticking out of them.

The sight of the demon's hind leg as it escaped through the window.

"…"

And the sight of--

"Ohhh…"

Samoyed Mask β, eyes spinning, chicks circling his head, and the unharmed girl, holding him upright by his collar.

There was a pile of grenade pins at her feet. It collapsed with a clatter.

"…"

"…"

Kino and Detective Wanwan were at a loss for words, but they were sure of one thing--this girl had destroyed all the monsters and rescued Samoyed Mask β.

"Who in the world… is that girl…?"

Cold sweat ran down Kino's face.

"Oh…! Why can't I remember…? She seems so familiar…" Detective Wanwan muttered.

The girl ignored them both and let go of Samoyed Mask β's collar, dropping him to the ground.

Samoyed Mask β slid to the floor, scattering ashes all over the floor. The girl grabbed his collar again and lifted his head.

Then--

"Open your eyes."

She began slapping his face back and forth.

smacksmacksmacksmacksmacksmacksmacksmacksmack-

Her hand moved at the speed of light. The sounds melded together because of her sheer speed. The friction between her hand and the air set her hand on fire.

smacksmacksmacksmacksmack!

About when the girl had landed 200 slaps in two seconds--

"Oh…"

Samoyed Mask β came to. The girl's hand went still.

"Oh… I'm saved…"

Samoyed Mask β lightly shook his head. His mask obscured his eyes, but it seemed they were open now.

"Much thanks, Mysterious Ki-"

The one standing before him was a little girl who was decidedly not Kino. Samoyed Mask β stopped in the middle of speaking.

"Oh? You're…"

He looked at the girl. Then--

"AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

He screamed at an inhumanly high frequency, sharply enough to shatter the bulletproof windows.

Both Kino and Detective Wanwan were shocked by the scream. They ducked and covered their ears.

After finishing his scream, cold sweat began running down Samoyed Mask β's face. His ever-present smile was replaced by the chattering of his teeth.

"You okay?" the girl asked Samoyed Mask β. Her face was expressionless, but there was something resembling fondness in her tone of voice. Upon hearing it, however, Samoyed Mask β screamed again.

"NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

This time, he crawled backwards into a corner of the A/V room, kicking up ashes. And to everyone's genuine shock, this calm man burst into tears.

"No… I don't like pain… no… please… stay away…"

Clutching his head in his little corner, Samoyed Mask β wept like a child who was scared by a barking dog.

"…"

"…"

Kino and Detective Wanwan looked at Samoyed Mask β as though they had just discovered an afro-haired whale doing a handstand on a subway platform.

The dumbstruck Kino muttered, "What is this…? What am I seeing right now…? Why is he acting like that…?"

"I can't quite recall, but it seems he must have been heavily traumatized in the past."

The moment Detective Wanwan spoke--

"…"

The girl looked up, straight at him.

"Huh?"

She immediately flung herself at him, and in an instant was on his back. She mercilessly rubbed her chin and cheeks on his head.

"Eeek! Aaaahhhh! Stop it!"

Detective Wanwan ran around like a rodeo horse, but the girl stuck to him like a demon and would not let go.

"Who is that girl…? What in the world is she…?" Kino muttered, unconsciously stepping back.

"Ti…"

Kino suddenly heard a man's voice from near her feet. It was Samoyed Mask β, who had been crying just now.

"You know her?"

Samoyed Mask β looked up at Kino with his tear-streaked face. He sniffled and nodded.

"Ti…

Nicknamed 'Grenade Girl'.

From 'There are no Kind Explosives', from Minmei Publishing Company." Samoyed Mask β answered Kino by briefly quoting.

"That's it? All you've told me are her name and the fact that she uses grenades." Kino replied, incredulous.

"Stop it! Somebody help me!"

She glanced at the girl perched atop Detective Wanwan, who was still desperately struggling.

"You two know each other?"

"I don't know… but--"

"But?"

"When I look at that girl, my stomach starts hurting… my side aches… like I've been stabbed by a knife. Oh, I don't want to die… The waves are getting distant now… I don't like pain… I don't like-"

Samoyed Mask β was never able to finish his sentence. He clutched his head again and began trembling. Psychological trauma is a scary thing. (5)

"Hey, can you name all the nutrients contained in pineapples?"

"I don't know…" Samoyed Mask β answered immediately, head bowed.

It was strange that this nutrition freak wouldn't talk about bromelain, which dissipates proteins and helps in digesting meat products (but it's not too good with heat, so don't go for the canned kind), and potassium, which helps prevent high blood pressure. Looks like he was completely out of it.

"…"

Kino fell into thought. For Kino, it was thinking time.

"!"

She got an idea.

-----

"Bell! Everyone! Stop it!"

At the Overlord's Castle, the heartbreaking final battle was coming to an end.

The Overlord had used his magic to create powerful minions to torment the meddlesome party members.

"My god… What can I do…?"

His indecision reached its climax as he watched Bell attack their teammates.

Would he betray his friends and succeed as Overlord?

Or, since it was partially his responsibility, would he defeat the Overlord and save this world?

If he chose the latter, however, his beloved Bell would vanish, fade away forever.

"What's wrong? Why do you hesitate? You only have one choice--take over this world and live happily with Bell. That is what Bell wants, as well. Come with your enchanted blade. I will gladly hand you this throne. This is your destiny!"

The Overlord began to goad him. The party had been reduced to moaning on the ground in pain. There was no way he could win. Besides, this wasn't even his own world--maybe this was for the best.

The moment his heart began leaning towards the Dark Side, however--

"Oh!"

He saw it. And came to a realization.

"Bell…"

Bell, who was attacking their friends, had a sorrowful look on her face. Bell, always smiling brightly during their adventures, looked like she was on the verge of tears.

And with that tearful face, she was about to impale the knight, who fought to the end, with a longsword.

"Oh… I see now." He mumbled.

Whoosh! The enchanted blade was unsheathed from its metal scabbard.

The knight, bracing for death, saw the legendary sword, and the boy from another world easily blocking Bell's attack.

"You…"

"Ah…"

Why you…"

Said the knight, Bell, and the Overlord respectively.

"I make my own future!" he shouted, as he parried Bell's sword and caught her from falling to the ground with his left arm. Then--

"I'll protect this world… and you."

He kissed her lightly on the forehead.

"Oh…"

The beautiful girl, who had not too long ago been overwhelmed by grief, began shedding tears from her multicoloured eyes. With a bright smile on her face.

"You… You fool!" The Overlord screeched.

"I… I will choose my future for myself! I'm going to walk my own path! I don't believe in destiny!" He yelled, as he leapt up the steps to the Overlord's throne.

The Overlord's minions attacked him at once.

"Out of my way!"

He climbed the steps, cutting down the minions with his sword. However, there were too many of them. One of the minions he didn't manage to finish off grabbed him by the ankles.

"Damn!"

In front of him, another minion raised its club. He was in trouble.

"AAAHHHH!"

The one sent flying into the air was not him, but the minion. The knight, charging in with a battle cry, had cut it down. The other party members joined the fray, despite their wounds.

"Everyone!"

"Go! Sometimes you really get on my nerves, but… I'll leave defeating 'you' to you!" The knight told him from behind.

"Thanks."

He charged.

"Why you little-!"

The Overlord chained magic spells against him, but he blocked them all with his sword and stepped towards the throne.

"Prepare yourself!"

He screamed for the last time.

Was he speaking to the Overlord, or himself?

The sword cleaved the Overlord in two.

"Oh…"

The Overlord's body, split down the centre, turned to mist. It faded into the air.

"I was actually… a strong person…"

These were the evil Overlord's--

"Good work…"

final words.

-----

As the Overlord died, his magic began fading and his minions also vanished. Silence came upon the Overlord's castle.

And a girl fell to the ground.

It was Bell. The party rushed to her side.

"Bell!"

The one running down the steps was not the Overlord, but him. Oh! He was in such a hurry that he tripped down the stairs.

He gently held Bell in his arms. At this point, however, her breathing was very faint. They tried casting healing magic on her, but they were all repelled. It seemed these magics had no effect on nonhumans.

"I'll use my magic!"

He prayed to tie Bell's existence to this world. He prayed as hard as he could. However, his magic was not enough. It was actually quite lacking. Who am I kidding? It wasn't nearly enough.

It seemed there was no way to save Bell. She was fading away.

"Thank you… but my fate... is to vanish with the Overlord…" Bell began fading into green particles of light.

"I don't believe… in destiny…"

He suddenly did the unthinkable. With the sword, the legendary blade that could take over the world with its own power--

"Haaah!"

He pierced Bell's chest with the sword.

As the party watched in shock, the blade sunk deep into Bell's chest.

It soon disappeared all the way to the hilt.

-----

Click.

Mysterious Bishoujo Gun Fighter Rider Kino quietly moved her thumb.

She then silently raised Big Cannon~Shining Iron Demon Destroyer. Her target was the demon, soundlessly standing in the junior high division second-year classroom on the first floor.

It was somewhat melancholy, like a monkey listening to music with headphones.

Neither Samoyed Mask β nor Detective Wanwan were behind Kino.

"Hurry." Hermes urged quietly.

Kino put pressure on her pointer finger.

It was a little after noon.

Three seconds until the end of fourth period.

-----

There was a small promontory in this land that had been restored to peace.

It was a beautiful place, with green grass fluttering in the wind. There was a wonderful view of the ocean. And there it was--

"The Overlord Rests Here"

A tombstone, inscriptions written in Japanese, facing the sea.

Clasping his hands in front of the grave was the hero of this world.

Beside him was Bell, and standing behind them was the rest of the party, bandaged and no longer armed.

"You're leaving us…?" Bell asked as he finished a long prayer of repose.

He nodded quietly and told her that he would have to leave. Back to his home.

Bell pleaded with him to take her with him, to let her stay with him forever, but he shook his head.

"I can't bring along someone from this world, Bell. Please, be happy with everyone else."

He then kissed her softly.

The sound of bells rang across the skies.

Fourth period was about to end.

"Goodbye, Bell. Don't cry. You look so much prettier when you're smiling, so please--I promise I won't cry, either. Goodbye."

His adventure, as well, was coming to a close.

"Farewell… my hero… But… I promise… we'll meet again someday… someday…"

The moment Bell said this with a smile--

-----

Kino pulled the trigger.

BANG!

Big Cannon released a single shot.

-----

He faded away.

He disappeared into green particles of light, and Bell would gaze at him forever.

The girl's blue hair fluttered in the wind as she stood alone on the promontory.

"The Overlord's Grave"

She would stand in front of that grave for eternity.

-----

Listening to the bell signalling the end of fourth period, and watching the demon shrinking back into the form of a male student--

"Oh… why… why…"

Kino mumbled softly.

"Huh? What's wrong?" Hermes asked from her belt. Kino holstered Big Cannon, and trembled as she clenched her fist.

"It's so easy when nobody's getting in my way! I'm talking about sealing demons!"

The bell was nearing its end. Samoyed Mask β, meanwhile--

"It hurts… it hurts…"

was curled up in the A/V room in tears.

"…"

Standing in front of him and staring was a little girl named Ti. A little while ago, Kino had asked this of her:

"Watch over this person so he doesn't get in trouble, okay? Can you do it?"

"Yeah, I can."

Ti had been watching him the entire time since the conversation.

Detective Wanwan, whose sleekly tied hair was ruined by Ti's face rubbing against it, had fled as soon as Ti released him. He did not return.

Just as planned.

"Well, all you have to do is shoot it with Big Cannon. It's a breeze with your skills, Kino." Hermes said. Kino looked up at the sky.

"I know--I know who my real enemy is…"

-----

"It's over." Ti said suddenly in the A/V room. The bell signalling the end of fourth period had just finished.

"I'm going back now." she said, as she slowly left the classroom, telling Samoyed Mask β that they would meet again. And as soon as she shut the door behind her--

Samoyed Mask β fell sideways onto the floor. Lying on the ash-covered floor, looking up at the shrapnel-laden ceiling, he muttered,

"That was close…"

Samoyed Mask β slowly reached for his mask with his left hand in this deserted A/V room. He then took off his mask.

As you all know, the face under the mask belonged to Shizu-senpai. He sighed and mumbled with a melancholy look.

"If it weren't for this mask, I wouldn't be alive…"

I think your logic's a bit flawed there.

-----

"Mysterious Bishoujo Gun Fighter Kino has magnificently returned the demon to human form. All students may proceed to lunch. Fifth period will take place in classrooms that have finished cleaning up."

A peaceful broadcast came over the school's PA system. They were in the clear. Thank you, Mysterious Kino.

The students returned to safe classrooms in order to have lunch. As a side note, KAERE, the Anti-Demon Corps, had turned tail and run ages ago. All they left were tire tracks.

This lively lunch period, Kino went alone to the cafeteria and had hashed beef with rice. As she ate, a white-haired classmate of hers came and sat opposite her at the table, carrying a bowl of tempura udon.

"…"

Kino spared him a glance and ignored him.

"What kind of movies do you like, Kino?"

"I don't really watch movies."

Kino, having finished her meal, stood up in order to put her cutlery away.

Watching her was Inuyama--

"Hmph…"

who was smiling meaningfully.

And as soon as he raised his chopsticks--

"Found you!"

He heard a woman's voice from above him.

"It can't be…"

"Let's eat together!"

It was Kuroshima Chako-sensei. She was holding a platter with today's lunch (ham cutlet combo).

Leaning against his back, Chako-sensei put her chin on his head and placed her platter in front of the udon.

"Thanks for the meal!"

And surprisingly, she put sauce on the ham cutlet and began eating it in the same position.

Inuyama, hands trembling hard enough to break his chopsticks, spoke.

"… Kuroshima-sensei… I have something to ask…"

"What is it? You want one? Here, say ahhh…"

"No, that's not it!"

"Don't be shy! We're comrades!"

"What in the world-"

Inuyama ate the ham cutlet piece that was being held in front of him. At that moment--

"This feeling! I feel like… I know… before…"

Inuyama felt like he was surrounded by stars. Countless memories flashed in his head and disappeared in an instant. However, they were too foggy for him to make any sense of.

"What's wrong?"

"I can't remember! What happened…? What happened to me in the past…?!"

Inuyama was in anguish.

"You're still young."

Chako-sensei muttered, as she gracefully snatched and ate the fried shrimp from Inuyama's udon.

"Hm. Tastes pretty good."

-----

One last thing.

The young man who awoke in the nurse's office quietly began shedding tears.

He soundlessly shed enough tears to drench the pillow.

-----

And during his remaining four-and-a-half years of student life, he never again turned into a demon.

And he was never reunited with the blue-haired girl named Bell.

But he never forgot his hour of adventures that day.

He reminisced about it many, many times. He typed up detailed records on his computer.

He eventually went to college. He even got a job.

And he would occasionally look back at his writings and fondly recall that day's adventure.

One day, he organized it all into a story.

"Who Will Bell the Hero?"

He titled it thus, and sent it in to a newcomers' writing contest--

He won first place--

He got his story published, and received the adoration of many readers.

On the cover of the novel was a picture of a blue-haired girl with a radiant smile.

In the foreword was written the following:

"I'm so happy to see you again, Bell!"


(1) A line from Fist of the North Star. It's basically Kino asking if Samoyed Mask β is even human.
(2) Direct translation, as I can't figure out what this is supposed to be referencing.
(3) A reference to SEED Mode from Gundam SEED.
(4) Another direct translation. I'm not even sure if this is an actual movie or not.
(5) About Ti (continued) (spoilers for Kino's Journey volume 8!): At the end of volume 8 of Kino's Journey, Ti stabs Shizu in the stomach because he was about to leave her behind. Kino manages to diffuse the situation, and Ti joins Shizu and Riku on their travels. Also, Kuroshima-sensei's first name, Chako, is written with the characters for "Tea" and "Child"--"Tea" being a homophone for Ti's name.

3 comments:

  1. "Luke, he is not your father?"
    I love all these references.

    And you are a wonderful person for translating this. Let me spaz over you. fbrvunikk

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello. About paragraph 4: there is an old British movie "Biggles" (1986), later released in the US as "Biggles: Adventures in Time" (1988).

    ReplyDelete