Monday, 3 September 2012

Gakuen Kino - Chapter 6 (Part 5)

It's been much too long, but here's the second-to-last update for Gakuen Kino volume 3. After this volume, I'll probably tackle a few Kino's Journey stories before moving on to volume 4.


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Chapter 6 - Part 5: Trust
~Faith~



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"All right! There's no one here!" Kino yelled, stepping onto the rooftop of the main building. She glanced at the gymnasium roof next to them, and also found nothing but rubble. She turned around and checked the rooftop of the new wing. She found no problems there.

She dragged Inid from the doors. Detective Wanwan came as a rear guard, pointing his Stechkins behind them and tightly shutting the door.

Detective Wanwan made use of the bolt that was installed onto the door as a precaution against demon attacks. The door was made to resist even explosions, so it would not break down so easily.

The trio made their way to the middle of the rooftop area. All they had to do now was wait for the demon here. Though it would probably try to create monsters as soon as it appeared, Kino was determined to not allow that to happen.

"Oh. It was a trap." Hermes muttered from Kino's belt.

"What?"

Kino tilted her head. At the same time--

"No!"

Detective Wanwan noticed it as well.

"What? What's wrong?" Kino asked. There were no demons, monsters, or Samoyed Mask here, as far as she could tell.

"Look at the concrete." Detective Wanwan replied. Kino looked down at the floor under her feet.

She soon understood what he meant. Countless thin scratch marks had been made all around the rooftop floor, circling it along the edges. The marks had probably been made by the demon's claws.

Kino's extraordinary eyesight was able to make out the black demon hairs in the grooves left by its claws.

"This doesn't even make sense! Doesn't hair get blown away by the wind?" Kino asked the obvious question.

A rather strong breeze was blowing on the rooftop. The presence of hair clinging to the claw marks didn't match up with the fact that the demon had just used this very wind and its own hair to its advantage not too long ago.

"Look carefully. The hairs are all slightly wet. It probably wet them with its saliva--sticky, as a canine's saliva tends to be. We've been caught in a trap." Detective Wanwan looked furious.

"Th, that demon came up with a plan like this? Is that even allowed?!" Pino-I mean, Kino was outraged.

And as though they had sensed the trio's presence, the hairs began to grow. They swelled and thickened, slowly growing limb-like forms and growing.

"This one is really using its head. What kind of a student could have turned into this demon? That distraction tactic it used before, and the way it hid its presence from us is on a totally different level from the ones you've fought so far." Hermes gasped, astonished.

Kino and the others had no way of knowing at this point, but this particular demon was not a student. He had come all this way to kidnap Inid--he was skilled enough to go around Akihabara with a submachine gun.

"Then we'll have to take them all out before they mature fully."

Detective Wanwan opened fire.

A single bullet made its way towards the growing monster.

"Hm." "Huh?"

Detective Wanwan and Kino watched, fixated, as the bullet bounced off mid-flight and disappeared into the air. Detective Wanwan fired several more shots, but each round was deflected as though it had been fired from an air gun.

"I see…" Detective Wanwan grimaced. Obviously, the monsters wouldn't mature this slowly if they were open to attack during their maturation stage.

"Damn it…" Kino tightened her grip on her MG3 and fell into thought.

Though she was reluctant to admit it, she had fallen into the demon's trap. What was the first thing she should do?

This time, Kino thought for herself. Three seconds later, she came to a decision.

"Looks like we'll have to shoot them all down, no matter what it takes."

Detective Wanwan nodded.

"I agree. The monsters are maturing this slowly because the demon is attempting to scare us into fleeing the rooftop. But I am certain that the demon will be lying in wait for us just down the stairs. It would be better for us to annihilate these monsters here than risk a shootout indoors."

With that, Detective Wanwan slipped the two Stechkins back into his sleeves. Although they were capable of automatic fire, handguns did not pack enough raw firepower. In exchange, from his sleeve dropped out an Ultimax 100 machine gun.

The Ultimax 100 is a light machine gun made in Singapore. It utilizes NATO cartridges, and weighs only five kilograms without the magazine. Another strong point about this gun is the fact that the recoil is weak in comparison to other firearms.

Guns like this are extremely useful for providing support, and are classified as SAWs--Squad Automatic Weapons.

Detective Wanwan's weapon was an Ultimax 100 Mark 3. A 100-round drum magazine was affixed to it. The bipod, the carrying handle, and the stock had been removed. As long as the stock isn't there, there shouldn't be any problems sliding the gun into his sleeves, right? Right?

Finally, attached to the end of the barrel was a combat knife-type blade. Detective Wanwan would use this weapon if the enemy had gotten too close.

Kino looked at Inid, standing beside her. Her profile, highlighted by her earmuffs, betrayed the look of anxiety, fear, and a certain other emotion.

The countless monsters continued to grow. They were at about twenty percent maturation. Kino and the others had no idea how much longer things would take, but there was doubt that they would be attacked the moment the monsters reached full size.

That was the only time Kino and Detective Wanwan's attacks would have a chance.

If it was just the two of them, trained fighters like Kino and Detective Wanwan might have been able to do something. They might even have considered jumping off the rooftop to escape. It would hurt, of course, so they really wouldn't want to do that, though.

But now, their priority was to protect Inid. In other words, they were at a disadvantage. Things could not have been worse.

"Hah! At least I won't be bored today!" Kino yelled, trying to talk big.

Suddenly--

"I see you may need my help! Again!"

A clear voice called out to them.

"Ugh!" [Oh!] "So you're here!"

Kino, Inid, and Detective Wanwan turned to the source of the voice.

A breeze.

A man in a white cape stood on the squarish structure, under the clear blue sky. It was the man who had slept clear through the demon's setting of the trap on the rooftop.

"When the maiden of jus-"

"Fire!"

Kino shot at him before he could even finish.

"Wait! Meanie! Eek."

With a flick of his cape, the man evaded the bullets and disappeared from sight.

[Is that all right? I think that man was just trying to say something…] Inid asked Kino, who had ceased fire.

Hearing Detective Wanwan's translation, Kino replied immediately.

"Ittsu ooru ohkei! No Puroburemu! Ai shii himu, ai jyasuto shuuto himu! (It's all okay! No problem! I see him, I just shoot him)." Kino said, the suspiciously situation-specific line of English coming to her lips without a moment's hesitation.

That was the way Kino lived.



"That was close… You almost hit me, you meanie! I'm soooooo mad! Listen to me when I'm talking~!" The man in the white cape, who had disappeared for the moment, returned with a cutesy line. Kino was not happy at all about this, but she stopped firing for now. She didn't want to waste any more bullets.

"…"

Detective Wanwan tightly clenched the Ultimax 100, shaking. It looked like he was pondering if he could defeat his adversary with this weapon, and formulating plans A through Z in his head.

Inid looked at the caped man, curious. The man spoke to her in fluent in English.

[Hey now! Don't look at me like that, Beautiful Blonde Girl! This is a misunderstanding! I am not here to confuse you, I assure you. How about an apple? It's full of fiber, which is excellent for your digestive system. Not only that, it also contains Vitamin C, which is essential for natural skin care, potassium, which helps your body to expel sodium, and it is chock-full of polyphenals that fight allergens.]

Inid's answer was immediate.

[Not right now, thank you. Um, who are you?]

[That is an excellent question! I am one of the three glorious warriors who defend this school alongside Mysterious Kino and Detective Wanwan! My honoured name is--Samoyed Mask ƒ(fortissimo), the Emphasizing Pursuer of Light and Darkness! Write it down so you don't forget, now! For your reference, I have known those two for a very long time.]

[Oh, so you too…]

Inid looked rather surprised.

[I'm glad you're all right. I can't bear to see an innocent maiden like yourself being injured, after all. 'Doesn't Mysterious Kino count as an innocent maiden', you might ask. I might be somewhat reluctant to answer that question honestly, but this is the truth. My apple shall only go to the greatest beauty! And are you entirely certain you have no need of an apple?]

Hearing Detective Wanwan's translation, Kino put her MG3 on the ground.

"…"

She then silently drew the Panzerfaust 3 from her pouch for the second time today.

"Maybe I should give your head a little ventilation."

How violent. She's raring to go!

Inid, who had heard this line of Japanese in the past, felt a shiver run down her spine.

For your reference, this Panzerfaust 3 was equipped with a tandem warhead, which was more powerful and accurate than the one she used earlier--not to mention that it exploded twice.

"Wait! Calm yourself, Mysterious Kino. I'm sure you understand that we have a job to take care of first."

"Hm? You really think there's something more important to me than throwing you into the depths of hell? Like getting compensation for all the grief you caused me? Then give me 10 million yen! Talk is cheap, you know!"

Detective Wanwan was translating Samoyed Mask ƒ and Kino's conversation for Inid. Meanwhile, the monsters continued to grow larger.

"Goodness! Demands like that practically disqualify you from being a warrior of justice. No, could any human being with a moral compass even say such a thing?" Samoyed Mask ƒ asked with a shrug.

"Getting that from you? I don't even know if I'm supposed to get angry or laugh." Kino answered honestly. She was itching to pull the trigger on her Panzerfaust 3.

"Mysterious Kino, our first order of action must be to prepare to take down these monsters that surround us. We still have a small window of time in which we can find out why the demon is after this girl and come up with countermeasures."

"Damn it…"

Samoyed Mask ƒ was being surprisingly rational. Kino pouted and pocketed her Panzerfaust 3.

"Hah! Whoosh!"

Samoyed Mask ƒ jumped from the structure and landed before the trio. Even though he didn't really have to say the onomatopoeia out loud.

[Allow me to ask, then, Miss Inid. I'm sure you must some idea as to why the demon is after you. It may be difficult for you to say, but I ask that you be honest and tell us everything. Including your measurements.] Samoyed Mask ƒ said.

Detective Wanwan gave Kino a translation. Kino kicked Samoyed Mask ƒ, sending him flying ten metres away. Sexual harassment is forbidden.

"Aaaaack!"

Samoyed Mask ƒ flew backwards. He came to a stop as his head smashed into one of the maturing monsters.

"…"

Kino silently awaited Inid's response.

"Ouch, that really hurt, you meanie!"

Samoyed Mask ƒ took the opportunity to walk back towards them.

Inid, who stood still with her head bowed, slowly started.

She soon raised her head.

[I know…]

Inid's tearful green eyes looked over at the three warriors.

[There's someone after my life.]



"Not here, huh? Heeeey!"

Chako-sensei was walking through the hallways in search of someone.

She wandered through the deserted new wing, opening the classroom doors one by one.

Was she all right? The school was a den of monsters. The demon could have set traps anywhere.

"Not in this wing. I guess I'll check over in the old building."

Chako-sensei strutted through the halls as though she was on a hike or on her way to a picnic.

She had no idea that the demon was watching her from behind, fangs bared.



"What do you mean, someone's after you?" Kino asked, shocked.

Detective Wanwan translated for her. Inid's shoulders drooped. She was nearly crying. The monsters around them had matured to over half of their full sizes.

[I'm sure you've heard that my father is the CEO of a large corporation. The company creates all kinds of products, including a new weapons system being developed for the US military. Of course, I don't know much about it myself…]

"Right. Keep going." Kino said.

[Yes… There's another faction that's after this new system. We have no idea if it's a foreign government, an international terrorist group, or a rival corporation in America. They first tried all sorts of things to coerce my father, but he refused to cooperate. So they moved on to threatening me. Every day we received threatening letters saying 'If you do not cooperate, you will never see your daughter again'.]

[Inhuman wretches!] Samoyed Mask ƒ declared indignantly.

'Speak for yourself!' Kino thought, but she kept the line to herself.

Inid continued.

[I couldn't even go to school because it might put the other students in harm's way. So all this time I stayed in a deserted mountain compound with my personal guards.]

"'All this time'?" Kino asked.

[About two years now.]

"Two whole years?! Since you were thirteen?"

Inid nodded.

"No way! Those are the best years of your youth! And you never got to go to school, make friends, or eat delicious food outside?!" Kino asked, nostrils flaring in anger. That last point especially must have hit her hard.

"Unforgivable, in more ways than one." Detective Wanwan growled.

"I will cut them." Samoyed Mask ƒ declared, smiling.

The monsters were at 70% maturity. Only 30% left.

[It was hard sometimes, but it wasn't all bad.] Inid smiled, determination apparent in her teary eyes.

"Really?"

[I spent my spare time watching Japanese anime. My butler bought me DVDs. They were amazing. I'd never seen anything like them, and it was the first time I'd heard anyone speaking Japanese. There were so many different kinds of stories that I never got bored. Ordinary high school students being taken away to another world to do battle, being forced to fight battles in a robot made by your own father, detailed characterization of girls in everyday life, handsome guys playing sports, flirty high school students being stabbed to death…]

'Isn't there something off about that last one?' Kino wondered, but she kept the thought to herself.

[And magical girls transforming to fight evil! If I'd never watched anime, I would have always been a depressed and gloomy person.]

"That's why you came to Japan?" Hermes asked, first in Japanese, then again in English.

Inid, not really wondering where this voice came from, answered.

[That's right. Thanks to the FBI, we're very close to finding out who it was that was threatening my father. But that also meant that the other party might react even more strongly, the closer they are to capture. So I escaped even further to Japan, because it's a very safe country. Kuroshima-sensei recommended this school to me because it was reinforced to resist demon attacks. I finally got to attend school, and I had such a good time hanging out with the Take Action Now Club. These last few days were like a dream come true.]

"So those guys are planning to take you while you're here in Japan. And they're been looking for a chance to kidnap you all this time…" Kino deduced, remembering the incident in the Kamakura weapon store, and the way that they had rented all of Health Land for their trip.

"They came directly to the school because they couldn't wait any longer. That must mean-"

"They fell to the demonic temptation without realizing." Samoyed Mask ƒ concluded.

[Yes! It's all my fault… This demon wouldn't have appeared if not for me. Everyone is trying so hard to not become one of them, but now… I can't come to this school anymore. I can't let anyone get hurt…]

Was she down, or just looking down? Inid hid her face again.

"No, not at all! You know what? This is actually a good thing!" Kino said to her excitedly.

"Pardon?" Inid, hearing the translation, looked up in surprise.

"She is correct. This is just the opportunity we need." Surprisingly, even Detective Wanwan agreed.

Finally, Samoyed Mask ƒ drew his sword with a flourish and explained their plan.

"In other words, we will beat them to a pulp, then turn them over to the police! Your problems are as good as solved!"

[Huh?]

"That's it! We couldn't just take down those bastards if they were normal humans, but we're warriors of justice! There's nothing we can't do against a demon. We'll turn him back to normal, then tie him up! So, now that everything's clear, let's let things loose!" Kino grinned.

But, uh… wasn't the demon already running loose this whole time?

Inid looked up at the trio's smiles, incredulous.

[But everyone! We're still surrounded by all these monsters!]

The trio glanced at the beasts around them.

The monsters were now at about 80% maturation. From a bird's eye view, the building probably looked like it was surrounded by a dark border. Just like a funeral picture.

"Right. I guess there's a lot of them." Said Kino.

"I admit, we probably haven't yet faced anything of this level so far." Said Detective Wanwan.

"Well, I suppose it'll make for a decent challenge." Said Samoyed Mask ƒ.

[Please, everyone! Leave me and run! I have nothing to do with this school! With me gone--] Inid pleaded, sincerity clear in her voice.

"No, we can't do that." Kino interrupted her. "We're warriors of justice. There's no such thing as falling back or turning tail."

Detective Wanwan and Samoyed Mask ƒ, guarding Inid from either side, nodded.



"Circular defence!" Kino called, and the trio surrounded Inid at once.

That was some amazing movement. What are you people, Spartans?

And so, with the walls and the hundreds of 90% mature monsters around them--

"Take her if you can!" Kino shouted, MG3 in hand.

"I will defeat you all…" Detective Wanwan muttered, Ultimax 100s pointed at the monsters.

"Come any closer and I will cut you down! If you don't, I'll step in myself!" Samoyed Mask taunted with his katana.

"See? There's a reason we're pointing our guns and pulling the trigger at the demon…" The biggest eater out of the three masses of bloodlust (that would be Kino) said to Inid. Detective Wanwan quickly translated for her.

"We're not fighting for ourselves!" Kino continued, head held high, narrowly stopping herself from declaring that it was for delicious curry udon. "We're fighting to protect others!"

Yes, we know you're fighting to protect the cafeteria lunch ladies.

"Shut up! I'm having a moment here!"

Whoa! …

"That's why I'm going to protect you. You just sit back and relax. If you don't want to see us get hurt, just shut your eyes. You don't need to look at us even if we're nothing but mangled corpses after this battle. But-

"…"

"Even if it's just this once, have faith in us, okay?"

[Faith…] Inid muttered in English. Faith=trust. This was English Lesson #3, brought to you by Gakuen Kino.

Kino's one-man performance continued.

"We're violent punks who can handle weapons like firearms and swords better than anyone. We live for blood. We're evil bastards who don't deserve to exist in a peaceful world, but…"

[…]

"As long as we have people we need to protect, and as long as those people have faith in us, we can become radiant warriors of justice!"

By the time Kino had finished her rousing speech, the monsters were at the final stage of growth.

Hundreds of miniature wolfmen were swarming, as though they were trapped in the Odakyu subway line during rush hour. It was so crowded that some of the monsters couldn't even touch the floor. Splat. Oh, looks like some of them are finally getting squished to death.

In a 10-metre diameter circle in the middle of the monsters was an area where the floor was still clearly visible. In the middle of this clearing stood Kino and the others.

"So I guess that's a hundred monsters to a person. Although I wouldn't have any trouble taking care of them all myself."

"Please, I'd have no problems on my own. Why don't you two go take a nap while I finish them off?"

"Hah! Stand back while I give a performance of my excellent swordsmanship! Get some tea and cake ready for me while you're at it."

Inid had no idea what these people were saying, but she could tell that they were positively overflowing with confidence.

Faith. Faith. Faith.

The single word would not leave her head.

[…]

Clenching her hand over her chest, Inid made a decision. Determination set over her emerald-green eyes.

"Kino!"

"Whoa!"

Shocked at being called out very suddenly, Kino looked around. Inid was staring at her, hand over her right side.

Inid used what little Japanese she could remember in order to communicate to Kino.

"Not good! I don't have a gun!"

"Uh… wha?"

"You gonna make it out of this alive, punk?"

"Hey…"

"I do not wish to be a burden!"

"Um…"

"Sir, I would like to join in the defence!"

"Well…"

Kino could figure out what Inid was trying to say.

She wanted to join them in their fight. That she wanted to borrow a gun to use.

But.

"Uh…"

Kino was at a loss. Would it really be all right to hand a gun to a civilian like Inid?

To Kino in her transformed state, taking a bullet would be painful, but not fatal. And she knew that Detective Wanwan could evade anything like that with ease, and that she'd want to shoot at Samoyed Mask ƒ once things were over.

"But…"

What worried Kino the most was the possibility of Inid accidentally shooting her own arm or leg.

"…"

Seeing Kino so worried, Inid decided to encourage her.

"Believe in me, who believes in you!"

"Ugh… all right!"

Kino made her decision.

Like it or not, Kino decided to assume that an American like Inid must have been trained to some degree on the usage of firearms and reached into the pouch on her left side. From the tangle of weapons she drew out one firearm in particular.

"Wait, not this one."

Kino put the Murata rifle back into her pouch.

Prior to the deployment of the 1880(The thirteenth year of Meiji) Meiji Type 13 Murata Single-Shot Rifle, the Japanese military had relied on an expensive assortment of foreign-made firearms. Soon afterwards, the Murata became available for civilian purchase for affordable prices, making a name for itself as a sporting gun. Even now, it makes frequent appearances in works featuring hunters.

But this weapon had no place here on the battlefield, being more of a relic suited to a museum. After all, it was a single-shot rifle that could only hold one bullet at a time.

Why does Kino even have this ancient gun, anyway? Was it her grandmother's idea? Did she want Kino to take down a bear or something?

"Uh, let's see here… Which one should I get?" Kino wondered out loud, looking into her pouch. Oh! She's found one!

"A KRISS Super V submachine gun!"

Kino thrust her arm into the air. Ta-da! Enter the action lines and gradient background!

Today's secret weapon is the KRISS Super V submachine gun. V stands for Vector!

This state-of-the-art gun was announced and made available for sale very recently. A submachine gun that uses .45 caliber ACP rounds, it is about 40 centimetres long with the stock folded. A holo-sight is mounted on the top for ease of taking aim.

The most interesting feature of this gun is the fact that it fires with very little recoil.

.45 ACP rounds are used with M1911 pistols (also known as the Colt Government), and are rather strong for handguns. They fire with a great deal of recoil, and firing on automatic makes it extremely difficult to handle the gun because it goes wild.

However, the KRISS Super V has a slide mechanism underneath that helps to diffuse the force of the recoil enough to fire on automatic while still keeping aim on the enemy. That's why it looks weird enough to joke around about it actually being a nail gun someone stole from a carpenter. With a long magazine, it can hold up to thirty rounds.

Seeing the KRISS Super V, Inid nodded confidently. Before handing Inid the gun, however, Kino took out a handkerchief from her pocket.

Inid took her long blond hair in a bunch and tied it all up with the handkerchief into a convenient ponytail. She then took out and donned a pair of sunglasses. And then, and then-

[There!]

Rrrrip!

To everyone's shock, she tore the left side of her long skirt so that it would be easier for her to move around. Her pale thigh was exposed for fanservice's sake.

"Whoa!" Samoyed Mask ƒ broke formation to lie on the floor. He was probably planning to look up her skirt.

Kino stomped on him with all her might.

"Gah!"

[All right. Give me the gun. I'll fight alongside you!] Inid said with a smile, holding out a hand towards Kino.

"You can do it!"

Kino turned the gun around and handed the grip of the KRISS Super V to Inid.

Inid firmly gripped the weapon and looked over it, making sure to keep her index finger straight. She first unfolded the stock on the right side of the gun to check that it was locked.

Then, she pulled the lever on the left side to load the gun. She moved the selector from automatic to the 2-round burst option. This meant that each time she pulled the trigger, the gun would fire two rounds.

She undid the safety with her thumb and took aim at the monsters. Her finger wasn't yet hooked onto the trigger.

"You're pretty good. Looks like someone taught you a thing or two about guns." Kino said like an old man.

Approving of Inid's handling of the gun, Kino took out about thirty spare magazines shaped like long bricks of fudge and laid them out at Inid's feet.

Two people were better than one. Three were better than two, and four were better than three.

In battle, it is always better to have more allies than less. Our quartet was standing in a circle, covering one another's blind spots.

The only thing keeping that circle intact was a single word: Faith.

The monsters around them finally reached complete maturation.

"Do you worst, you monsters!"

"Maintain discipline!"

"Apologies, but I will cut you down!"

"You're surprisingly weak, bro!"

GROWR! The monsters howled, and the warriors of justice began their battle against the horde surrounding them.



"I request covering fire!" Samoyed Mask ƒ cried, leaping into the air further than any human possibly could. "Here I gooooooo!" He yelled in midair. His pristine white form hovered against the blue backdrop of the sky for a single moment. after all, his enemies wouldn't wait for him.

Kino and Detective Wanwan also opened fire. They assaulted the monsters with a storm of bullets, not allowing them to pass.

Each time Kino turned her gun in one direction, the monsters before her scattered at once, leaving the monsters further back to squirm in to fill the gap a moment later. It was almost like watching a wave lick away at the shoreline.

My goodness! Look at that white blur diving into that wave! It's Samoyed Mask ƒ!

"Haaah!"

It was a point-blank attack. With a katana in each hand (don't ask where he got the second one), Samoyed Mask ƒ spun around in place like a top, cutting down every monster in his immediate vicinity. Wouldn't his eyes go all swirly if he does that?

Samoyed Mask ƒ's form had been completely engulfed by the dark wave of monsters, but it was easy to tell where he was attacking because that was the only place where the wave was weaker and ashes were being scattered around. Amazing!

"My turn!"

Kino focused her gun on a stronger part of the wave, weakening the strength of the monsters' assault.

Detective Wanwan could not be any more himself as he cooly calculated the distance between himself and the monsters, firing the Ultimax 100 in short bursts and shooting them down starting with the ones closest to him even by a margin of a single centimetre.

[…]

There was cold sweat running down Inid's cheek, but she fired the KRISS Super V from Kino's side to all the monster she could aim at. At this range, she couldn't miss if she wanted to.

Gunfire rang out like a series of explosions.

Click. Oh no! Kino's MG3 was out of ammo.

"Re-loading!" Kino called out without missing a beat. She was alerting the others that she needed time to reload.

[Got it!]

Inid reacted first. She turned the barrel of her gun in the direction Kino had been firing into, shooting over and over again into the wave of monsters clawing at them.

"Done! Thanks!"

Kino took five seconds to replace her magazine and barrel before she was ready to fire again. This time, Inid stepped back to reload.

It was a perfect display of teamwork. Humans really are social creatures.

Oh? It looks like Detective Wanwan was having a bit of trouble.

"Tch."

Though his eyes were covered by sunglasses, anxiety flashed by his face.

"Wahahahaha! Allow me to be of assistance!"

With a sleazy burst of laughter, the white form of Samoyed Mask ƒ flew overhead. After striking down a large number of monsters, he landed before Detective Wanwan's eyes. He began to cut down monsters so quickly that it almost looked like he had eight arms.

"Tch!"

He really was putting up a magnificent fight. Having been forced to rely on assistance in his weakness, Detective Wanwan bitterly reloaded.

"…"

Once he was finished, Detective Wanwan had the option of shooting down Samoyed Mask ƒ while he was still occupied by the monsters.

But that was a choice far beyond the realms of possibility. At this point in time, not even his Plan Z entailed such a thing.

"Hmph. Faith, is it?"

Detective Wanwan fired--not at Samoyed Mask ƒ, but at the monster that was about to sneak up on Samoyed Mask ƒ from behind.

Noticing this, Samoyed Mask ƒ grinned, his teeth sparking brilliantly.

"Nice support! Remind me to give you a pat on the head later!"

"No thank you!" Detective Wanwan cried painfully. And he returned to providing Samoyed Mask ƒ with support fire.



-----



Meanwhile, on the school grounds.

"Looks like Mysterious Kino's at it again."

"She's louder than usual today."

The students were looking up at the rooftop, the source of all the commotion. They could just make out the forms of the squirming monsters, but they could not see our four heroes. All they could tell was the fact that the gunshots were loud enough to be a bother to anyone in the area.

Even during the last demon attack, residents at a local apartment complained to the school:

[Do you know how hard it was to get my baby to fall asleep? And then you had to go around firing so loudly!]

[I was in the middle of drowning in my feelings watching a drama. Thank you for completely ruining the moment!]

[Great-grandpappy suddenly put a pot over his head and started fighting!]

Looks like they'll be getting more of those complaints this time.

"Maybe it's been so long since a demon appeared that she wants to blow off some stress?"

"But that's still overdoing it. We're the ones who have to clean up after her."

"Seriously. Who'd believe we picked up enough shells to fill up buckets?"

"I'm worried we'll end up getting lead poisoning or something."

"Wow… I wish I could fire a real gun, too…"

"You say something, gun freak?"

"No, never mind…"



-----



The whole shebang had taken less than two minutes. The battle on the rooftop came to an abrupt end.

Kino struck several monsters with her gun, Samoyed Mask ƒ spun one last time, and Detective Wanwan reached out to either side to stab a pair of monsters with the combat knives on his guns, all at the same time.

The countless monsters were no more.

"What's your status?" Kino asked, readying her MG3. Having just fired bullets like no tomorrow, the gun was steaming hot. The barrel was glowing a faint red. The steam hissing from the end of the barrel dissipated into the wind.

"All clear here." Detective Wanwan reported from behind Kino's back, holding his also-smoking Ultimax 100s.

"Where are the rest of them?" Samoyed Mask ƒ asked, holding a pair of perfectly undamaged katanas.

"I'm a bit shook up, but I'll be peachy keen in no time!"

Inid answered in Japanese. She was reloading a new magazine onto her KRISS Super V with one knee on the ground.

The hundreds upon hundreds of monsters had all turned to ash. The mountain of dust lying atop the concrete roof soon eroded away, carried by the winds. Looks like all the laundry hanging in the area will be taking heavy damage today.

With three gunners firing off hundreds of rounds, the area around our heroes was covered by shell casings. It was blinding enough that one false step onto the casings would send your face smacking into the floor.

Kino put the MG3 back into her pouch and smiled at Inid, who was getting back on her feet.

"We did it!"

Detective Wanwan gave her the English translation. Inid nodded.

[Huh…?]

Then, without warning, she powerlessly plunked down onto the floor. The KRISS Super V fell out of her hands and landed on the floor with a clack.

"Oh no! Are you hurt?"

Kino worriedly crouched at Inid's side. But Inid shook her head.

[I only just realized that I was scared. Haha… My legs feel like jelly… My father taught me to use a gun, but I never would have thought… that I'd end up really having to use one in a fight. Ahaha…]

"…"

Kino beamed.

"You did really well!"



-----



"All right then! Let's go fight back against that demon!" Kino yelled.

Samoyed Mask ƒ sheathed his sword and spoke. "The building will likely be completely booby-trapped. One step inside, and we'll be surrounded by monsters again. Would you still take that risk?"

"That's a stupid question. We're warriors of justice, slayers of demons! I'm a Gun Fighter Rider! There's no getting off of this bike I'm on!" Kino answered, taking out from her pouch an Auto Assault-12, also known as the AA12. At first glance this gun looks like something straight out of a toddler's scribbling, complete with overly large barrel, but this is actually an honest-to-goodness shotgun.

Just like the Saiga-12K, this gun can fire 12-gauge slugs on automatic. and with a gigantic drum magazine, it's capable of a brutal 20-round assault. The internal spring mechanism reduces the powerful recoil often created by 12-gauge slugs, so it's possible to fire on automatic while keeping a steady aim on your target.

More terrifying, however, is the special state-of-the-art ammunition called the FRAG-12, which is often presented in a set with the AA12.

To put it simply, it is a miniature grenade. Normally, shotguns fire lead spheres, but the FRAG-12 also explodes on contact. Obviously, one should never underestimate the difference between the impact of being hit by a tiny lead ball and the impact of a lead ball exploding on contact.

Who knows where Kino's grandmother could have gotten her hands on such a weapon?

"We'll fight fire with fire!" Kino declared courageously.

"Allow me to provide support." Detective Wanwan answered without missing a beat.

If they were going to be fighting indoors, shorter guns would be easier to handle. A pair of Heckler&Koch UMP45 submachine guns slid out of Detective Wanwan's sleeves. He was using .45 caliber ACP rounds for extra impact. The stock was folded, making the gun about 45 centimetres long.

"Then I-"

As Samoyed Mask ƒ began--

'Never mind, just go home already!'

'I'd like nothing more than to destroy you on the spot now!'

The above thoughts flashed through Kino and Detective Wanwan's heads, but they both remained silent. After all, some extra firepower couldn't do them harm.

"I shall protect Inid while the two of you are fighting. Or more specifically, I will protect her in my embrace! After all, unlike a certain somebody, she has a beautiful figure and sexy legs."

Ratatatatatatatatatat! Clangclangclangclangclangclangclangtomatotomatotomatotomato!

Inid watched the heated exchange for some time.

[Are you actually not on good terms?] She asked.

"As you can see."

[Well, yes.]

[We're just playing around.]

Kino, Detective Wanwan, and Samoyed Mask ƒ answered.

Inid looked confused for a moment, but her uncertainty soon gave way to a look of seriousness.

[Um… everyone! Thank you. Thank you for fighting for my sake.]

"That's not it." Kino said.

[Huh?]

Kino handed something to Inid.

"Oh!"

It was the KRISS Super V, the gun Inid had been using up until just now. And a messenger bag jammed full of extra ammunition.

Kino grinned.

"Ui uiru (We will)…" She said confidently. "Faito tugezaa (fight together)."

"!"

Inid firmly took hold of the KRISS Super V.

"Thank you." She said in perfect Japanese, the kind where you couldn't tell which anime the line had come from. The sincerity in her voice was clear as crystal.



"Time for our counterattack! Show yourself, demon!"

BANG!

Kino kicked down the rooftop door, which had been strong enough to hold back even the demon. Why didn't she just open it?

Kino led the way, AA12 armed and at the ready. After her was Detective Wanwan, ready to provide support fire, Inid being protected by the others, and Samoyed Mask ƒ at the flank.

Oh no! Several monsters jumped out of hiding from the ceiling of the stairwell and attacked our heroes!

Ratatatatatatatat!

Detective Wanwan shot them down before they could even touch the floor.

They exited the stairwell into the long fourth-floor hallway. They had scarcely taken a few steps when the lockers opened up and five or so monsters snuck up on them from behind.

"Hah! Take this!"

But before they could do any harm, Samoyed Mask ƒ's katana cut them to pieces.

Was that a signal of some sort? The classroom doors slid open and hordes of monsters spilled out into the hallway.

"Do your worst! Haaaah!"

Kino repeatedly fired 12-gauge FRAG-12 rounds into the horde. They exploded on contact, scattering shrapnel everywhere and destroying multiple monsters with a single shot.

Detective Wanwan and Inid also opened fire. Their desperate battle in the narrow hallway had begun.

Monsters also swarmed towards them from behind.

"No entry beyond this point! You'd better try someplace else!" Samoyed Mask ƒ spun again.

Whoosh! He sliced and diced and slashed and cut. Samoyed Mask ƒ defended the hallway all by himself. Never underestimate the power of a sword in an enclosed location.

As the battle went on,

"Hm. Something strikes me as strange."

Samoyed Mask ƒ said, rather seriously for who he was.

"What?" Kino asked, firing away and not even looking back at him.

"Why is it that the demon refuses to show itself?" Samoyed Mask ƒ answered.

Detective Wanwan, firing both UMP45s, agreed.

"Of course… it's sent in so many monsters to attack us, so logically now would be the perfect chance for it to strike."

Kino nodded. It would be very difficult for them if such a powerful demon were to join the fray at this point. Maybe that was the very purpose of this trap.

"Do you think, perhaps, that the demon was also faced with something it didn't expect?"

"Maybe, but don't let your guard down."

"You too!"

Inid watched the trio banter and fight with such light hearts.

[…]

'Friends are wonderful.' Inid thought.



"You guys just about done? Where to next?"

After the battle in the hallway, Kino was replacing the large drum magazine on her AA12.

BOOM. BANG! BOOM! BOOM!

The sudden sound of explosions and the sensation of the building being shaken reached her.

[W, what was that? An earthquake?] Inid asked worriedly, but Kino was far from scared. In fact, she welcomed the new turn of events.

"This must be her!"

Meanwhile, Detective Wanwan paled in fear.

"Those were Mk 2 grenades… Damn! It's her!"

Samoyed Mask ƒ, of course--

"I wanna go home! NOOOOOO! I wanna leave!"

Samoyed Mask ƒ suddenly began whining. The face underneath the mask was greener than an under-ripe tomato.

"Gotta man up, now." Kino said, grabbing Samoyed Mask ƒ by the back of his collar.

"No! I have a tummyache! I wanna go home!"

Kino ignored Samoyed Mask ƒ's cries as she dragged him towards the sound of the explosions.

"We just have to get to those explosions, and we'll find the demon! Come on!"



Dragging along Samoyed Mask ƒ and gently chucking him down the stairs whenever necessary, they arrived at a certain classroom on the second floor, where the sound of the explosions was coming from. They had encountered a grand total of zero monsters or demons on their way.

"I knew it."

"So it was her."

Guarding Inid, Kino and Detective Wanwan opened the door a crack to take a peek, with Samoyed Mask ƒ still firmly grasped by the collar. His feet were tied together with rope.

And there they saw--

GUUUUOOOOOH!

The demon, standing on all fours, and--

"…"

A lone girl facing it down.

[Hm?]

Inid's eyes widened at the sight.

The girl was about twelve years of age. She had short white hair and emerald-green eyes much like those of Inid's. Her eyes, staring at the demon, were the epitome of disinterest.

She was wearing a pair of grey shorts that showed off her stick-thin legs, a brown long-sleeved shirt had a round neck, and a bag hanging from one of her shoulders, dangling down all the way to her hips.

The classroom interior was nothing less than a mess.

The walls were filled with holes and were nearly in ruins. Desks and chairs lay scattered in pieces over the floor. The windows were cracked and hazy, the only thing keeping them intact being the fact that they were made of bulletproof glass.

GUUUUOOOOOH! The demon cried from a corner of the classroom. It charged towards the little girl on all fours, scattering debris everywhere.

"…"

The girl said nothing, instead reaching both hands into the bag hanging over hips.

[Look out!] Inid screamed softly. At the same time, the girl took several objects from the bag and lobbed them at the demon.

The objects hurling towards the demon were grenades. Six dull pineapple-shaped Mk 2 grenades, to be precise. By the time they were in the air, all six had lost their safety pins and their levers were engaged.

The grenades exploded on either side of the demon, which was now a mere two metres before the girl.

B-B-B-B-B-BOOOOOOM! A powerful noise and shockwave headed for Kino and the others in slow motion.

"Take cover!"

Kino quickly shut the classroom door.

Shrapnel danced in the classroom for some time. Some of the pieces rapped against the bulletproof windows. Several seconds passed before Kino opened the door a crack.

What they saw then was--

GUUUUOOOO! GRAAAARGH!

The demon, writhing on the floor in the middle of the smoke-filled classroom.

"…"

And the little girl, standing exactly where she had been before, saying absolutely nothing.

[My gosh… Who is that girl? How could she still be fine after that explosion?] Inid asked an understandable question. Kino was the one to answer her.

"Her name is Ti. She's a mysterious girl who uses grenades to help us… or actually, to help me. Although I don't know how she can be standing after all that."

The moment it occurred to Kino that she was curious to know--

"The 'Chain Blast Technique'." Samoyed Mask ƒ answered quietly.

"Huh? You know how she did that?"

Samoyed Mask ƒ, still pale with fright, spoke in a half-whisper.

"The Chain Blast Technique…

It is a martial art that allows one to use explosives even in enclosed spaced. The user must calculate the location of each and every explosion as they set off multiple explosives. The shrapnel and the force of the explosions collide against each other and create a safe zone. A bubble, if you will. As long as the user makes absolutely certain to remain in this bubble, they will be protected from harm. That is why it is, in theory, possible to use explosives in close combat even at point blank range. It is the ultimate explosive technique, but one so dangerous that it does not allow for even a single micron or a hundredth of a second's worth of error. I would not recommend this technique to amateurs.

From Minmei publishing company's [Sixty-Four Explosive Techniques--From Fireworks to Nukes]."

"…"

Kino was at a loss for words. She understood the technique in theory, but it shouldn't logically be possible for a human being.

"Huh… Uh. There's some pretty weird people in the world, huh?"

Trying to convince herself that the world was still sane, Kino once again peeked into the classroom.

The demon was still on the floor in pain.

Guoooh…

Ti looked down at it quietly, likely not planning to drop a grenade down its throat to put it out of its misery.

"What shall we do? To be frank, I'm not very comfortable around her…" Detective Wanwan confessed.

"Me neither…" Samoyed Mask ƒ sniffed from behind them, his feet still bound.

"Yeah. I know." Kino agreed.

"What are you going to do?" Hermes asked. "We're okay for now since Ti is fighting that demon, but it's strong. If you rush into things and it gets away, you're going to have another big headache on your hands."

"I know, Hermes. All the failures I experienced today helped me learn my lesson--I shouldn't just charge in mindlessly if I want to defeat this one."

"So you have a plan?"

"You bet I do! There."

Kino grabbed Samoyed Mask ƒ by the collar and braced herself.

"All right, you go first!"

She slammed the door open and tossed Samoyed Mask ƒ into the classroom. Straight at the demon.

[Huh?]

A white cape fluttered by Inid's line of sight.

"AAAAAHHHHH!"

With a scream, Samoyed Mask ƒ flew in a graceful arc and landed on the demon's belly.

GUOHH!

"Ack!"

The demon and Samoyed Mask ƒ cried out at once. Their eyes met for a single moment.

"Hello there!"

GUOHHH!

SMACK! The enraged demon punched Samoyed Mask ƒ with its right paw.

"Gah!"

Samoyed Mask ƒ spun as he flew towards the back of the classroom, into the wall from which the blackboard had fallen. He slid to the ground with a plop.

"Eek."

And looking straight into his face was--

"Are you okay?"

Ti.

Samoyed Mask ƒ's eyes opened.

"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!"

An inhuman scream escaped Samoyed Mask ƒ's lips.

Guohh…

The scream was enough to bother the demon and its sensitive ears.

Kino's brilliant plan had worked. She could kill two birds with one stone by preventing Samoyed Mask ƒ from getting in the way and using his screaming as a weapon at the same time.

The scream had shattered the bulletproof windows, sending glass shards flying like diamond dust.

"Detective Wanwan! Support fire!" Kino ordered, pointing at the demon.

"Understood!"

Detective Wanwan leapt into the classroom and began firing his UMP45s on automatic.

Kino also took up the AA12 from the floor and charged into the classroom, keeping a close eye on Inid behind her.

"TAKE THIS!"

BANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANG! She fired the 12-gauge rounds at the demon.

BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM! The grenades exploded upon touching the demon, knocking it backwards. The extraordinary force of the impact backed the demon against the blackboard.

After firing twenty rounds in a matter of seconds, Kino tossed aside the AA12 and drew Big Cannon from its holster.

She took aim at the demon and stood up against Inid.

"Come on! We'll get this one together!"

She was speaking in English, but Inid seemed to have understood.

[Yeah!]

Inid slowly reached out her left hand.

Kino's right hand and Inid's left hand were both clutching Big Cannon.

"Hey, I've got a ton of things I wanna ask you once you turn human again, but first I'm going to bring you back. After all, that's my mission."

With that, Kino nodded to Inid.

[Okay!] Inid nodded. Kino turned back towards the demon.

The moment she fired at the demon, Kino tossed off a certain line.

"Eliminate the target!"

As they took aim at the demon, Inid cried out one of her favourite lines.

"Fire!"

They pulled the trigger together.

BAAAAAAAAAAAANG!

The sound of Big Cannon firing rang out through the classroom.

And the bullet they fired together…



-----



"Whoa!"

When the bespectacled man opened his eyes, he was sitting in front of the school's main entrance, tied up with rope with his four friends.

He realized that he wasn't wearing any clothes, and that his friends were all covered in bruises and were unconscious. Rolling around them were several Glock G18Cs.

"Hey! What they hell just happened?! Dammit! We're supposed to be professionals here!"

It was you, you idiot.

"Argh! Damn!"

The man desperately struggled to free himself. Just then, he heard the sound of a car approaching.

Coming to a halt before them was a medium-sized truck, its sides marked with the logo of a moving company. The truck was stopped between them and the school building, presumably to prevent students from seeing them on their way back into class. And disembarking from the truck were multiple soldiers.

They wore black combat uniforms and helmets with bulletproof shields. Under their helmets they wore black masks. Holstered at their sides were Smith&Wesson M5906 automatic handguns.

"What the…"

As the man and his groggy allies looked on in confusion, one of the soldiers pronounced gravely:

"You are all under arrest for unlawful possession of firearms."

"The hell are you people?!"

"If you don't know, best keep it that way." The soldier said, and ordered his men to bring the bound men onto the truck. Soldiers also went into the fake electrical service truck the men had brought to the school.

"Leave! We have no business with you!" The bespectacled man yelled. The soldier looked down at him.

"What? You do know who we are." (1)



The moving truck and the fake electrical service truck drove into the distance.

Watching them from the rooftop, Kino muttered to herself anxiously.

"Can we really leave it to them?"

The men who had just arrived were KAERE, government agents who had spectacularly failed to be of any help the last time they appeared.

"So they're still in operation after all…"

That's right.

"I'm sure things will be all right. The Japanese police will cooperate with the FBI and find the ones responsible." Detective Wanwan said in both English and Japanese.

"…"

Ti had been clinging to his head ever since the battle ended, but he was doing his best to ignore her, knowing that resistance was futile.

One annoying thing about Ti was the fact that, whenever Detective Wanwan showed even a hint of hostility towards the weakened Samoyed Mask ƒ, Ti would notice instantly and begin her cheek-rubbing attack. She was like the Monkey King's headband in human form.

"Sniffle…"

Samoyed Mask ƒ was sitting on the floor beside them, hugging his knees to his chest. The face under the mask was in tears. His hands were clutched over his abdomen.

[Everyone…]

Once the truck had left, Inid took off her sunglasses and looked at her four friends. She took off her earmuffs and handkerchief hair tie. Her long blonde hair fluttered in the wind.

[Thank you for everything.]

"It was no problem." Kino laughed.

"This is my duty." Detective Wanwan answered cooly, Ti still clinging to his head.

"…" Ti said silently.

"You're quite welcome… I suppose it's time for me to depart." Samoyed Mask ƒ said, still seated. He then stood up, and left ahead of the others via the staircase. Staggering, of course.

"Allow me to take my leave as well. Hah!"

With Ti still perched atop his head, Detective Wanwan leapt into the air and disappeared behind the gymnasium.

Students were returning to the school building from the grounds. Sixth period was now over, and that meant the end of classes. They could see students returning home with bags in hand, and others going off for extracurricular activities one last time before exams.

"I'll be going now too. That was fun! Classes are over for today, so go home and get some rest! And remember to come back tomorrow!" Kino said. Since Detective Wanwan had already left, Hermes translated for her,

With that,

"Hyah!"

Kino lightly leapt off the railings and down four floors onto the ground, her short black hair and uniform flapping in the wind.

"…"

Inid watched her in stunned silence, then raised her head and looked up at the clear blue skies.

[I had fun too. See you tomorrow.]






(1) The imperative form of 'leave' in Japanese is, of course, kaere. The KAERE agent mistook the bespectacled man's order for saying the name of their team.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for this chapter! :)

    ReplyDelete