Chapter 10:

This isn’t training ( part 2: Emergency message)

The Dusk of Revenge

   The first task in today’s mission ended in two hours as expected. The dome covering the Setagaya ward was completely secured and no explosive material was found in the vicinity. As for the dome covering the Ōta ward, the Metropolitan Police's bomb-disposal unit took the responsibility of securing it. At 9 a.m., we were able to conclude that there was no explosive material implanted anywhere near the domes…

For the next hour and a half, we were on standby, waiting for any information that could lead us to their whereabouts or the exact location where they are going to attack. Meanwhile, It looks like Ai and Asahi were having quite fun. Maybe it was my mistake for leaving Ai next to him…

When Asahi ended the call with the commander, and leader during the time we were on standby, I was able to hear the conversation that happened in the guest’s room between him and Ai thanks to my permanent connection with her.

The moment he ended the call with the commander, he turned his face toward my badge, which I remember leaving it on another desk next to him. And laughed.

“…Why are you laughing?” Ai asked. “For someone who kept crying for two hours straight because he tried desperately to compete with me, you are quite happy.”

“… Do I look like that?” He replied.

“…Not that it matters to me, but yes!”

Asahi sighed and then responded: “…I was laughing at myself about how I wasn’t able to win even a single time!”

Ai laughed at his answer and then added: “…Maybe you should try a little harder next time?!”

“…You don’t hold back your punches!”

“…And why would I do that?”

A smile suddenly appeared on his face as he answered: “…For the simple reason, which is being alone here with me…”

“…I don’t like where this conversation is going…”

“…If you think you’re trapped here with me…” He laughed, then continued talking: “Well, you’re correct!!”

Ai’s arrogant tone disappeared immediately after he said those words. As an intelligent system, she excels in support and assisting with information and analysis, but she’s utterly useless when it comes to any physical assistance. Especially when the one standing before her is a human that has zero machines inside his body. From the beginning, Ai wasn’t built to be a weapon. Those facts were obvious even to her. So, she knew that she was the one on the losing side at that time.

Asahi smiled as Ai asked him repeatedly what he meant by those words with a terrified tone. Slowly the terrified tone turned into crying.

“… Master! Where are you!!” She mumbled in a crying voice. “… Master! Where are you??” I tried my best not to laugh at the funny situation I was listening to. I know that Asahi won’t try anything funny with her even if wasn’t listening. I am sure that he was just enjoying the conversation with her.

The moment she started crying he panicked. I think he wasn’t expecting that reaction. He never knew that she was acting childishly. I was only hearing the situation but even so, I was able to confirm that he jumped off his chair.

I was about to intervene when he said in a panicked voice: “… Come on don’t cry… I was joking… Sorry…” He stood for a moment as he looked through his computer and then said with a relieved voice: “… How about this?” he sent a folder to Ai as he continued speaking: “… Consider this as my apology gift. Stop crying now… Please! If Shinji knows what happened here, I won't know what will happen to me…”

She opened the folder to verify its content, then she suddenly stopped emitting any type of sound. As for him, who saw that she calmed down, he sat on his chair once again and started to look for enemies since he wasted his time in that conversation.

Shortly after he returned to doing his job, he received a call from the commander asking him about any changes in the current situation to which he replied: “… No sir! I wasn’t able to find any details that can lead us to their location.”

The commander sighed and then answered: “…This situation doesn’t look good!”

“…What do you mean, sir? Isn’t it good news not to find any trace of the enemies? With all the efforts every technical support in each squad is doing, I think that this only means one thing…”

“…The enemy isn’t in either of the areas we are covering now…” He explained

“…The Red Claws Are going to strike today in this area. Not finding them means that there is a possibility they’ve changed their target.”

“Let’s hope they didn’t change their plan… For the time being I will continue searching for any detail.”

“Inform me once you get any results. We’re left with only 45 minutes… We have to find them as soon as possible.”

As soon as he ended the call with Mr Kazama, Asahi turned to my badge once again and said: “… This is going to be your fault, Ai. If we don’t find any details now. We are going to put everyone at serious risk.” Ai ignored him and didn’t emit any voice. To her silence, he got curious so he asked: “… Could it be that you are still angry at me?”

“Hmph!!” She uttered. “…Don't blame me. It's your fault. Hmph!”

“…You’re angry!!” He waited for her answer but in vain, so he asked: “You’re not going to talk? At least you’re going to help, are you? At this rate, if we don’t find any detail now then we are going to be obliged to search the whole area of Tokyo. That won’t be an easy task.”

It is true, searching all of Tokyo to find any trace of them won’t be easy. It is like trying to find a needle in a haystack…

I returned to the tent where the commander was staying and looked through the maps of the capital.

“… Don’t you feel that our maps these days are funny?'' The commander continued talking as he took a few steps toward the meeting table “… If you look at all the maps we’re using today, you’ll only find an infinity of circles. 50 years ago, maybe, no one would’ve thought that one day we would be obliged to abandon some of the territories where we used to live to stay in circular areas covered with spheric shaped crystal domes…”

I looked at the current maps we were using and said: “…Even with those crystal cages on top of our heads, we’re still suffering…”

I stopped talking as I noticed a huge difference in the maps between the ones used these days and the old versions. I took the two versions and put them on top of each other then smiled.

The commander who saw the whole situation asked me: “… Did you find something?”

“If it’s possible sir, can you order us to move to the Meguro ward? Exactly to the vacant area in the south of the dome covering the Meguro ward.”

He looked at me with wide-opened eyes and then asked: “…Did you find something?”

“…I am sure about it but… The terrorists maybe now there. Since the domes have a spherical shape, it was impossible to cover all the areas in the world. If we used another shape, a cube for example we would’ve been able to do so but that would have taken more time, money, and effort for maintenance. The spheric shape was the best to reduce wind resistance from all directions…

“…I already know that.” He interrupted me: “…Explain why you want to go to south Meguro.”

“…By comparing the map we’re using today and the map we used in the past I noticed that we abandoned the area that was once a part of Setagaya Ward and the Ōta Ward which is located in south Meguro.”

He scratched his chin as he kept thinking for a second then asked: “You mean since we didn’t find them inside the domes then they are going to attack from outside?”

“…That’s correct sir! Those areas are still part of the wards in paperwork although they aren’t covered.”

“…Even if what you’re saying is correct, I can’t give such an unreasonable order.” He continued talking as he went to sit in his chair. “Abandoning this area and going to a deserted area to verify the presence of the enemy is a reckless move. If the enemies attack while we are not here, then that will mean a disaster.”

I stood up, and covered my right ear with my hand as I talked to Ai: “… Do you hear me, Ai? Can you check the abandoned area in south Meguro?”

“Sadly, all I can do is check the cameras' footage to collect data.” She answered. “…Since the area you’re talking about was abandoned for many years now, the security system in it isn’t functioning. I can’t help there.”

“What about Asahi?

“…He had just received a call from the commander when you started talking to me. He’s now explaining that it would take about an hour to find out whether they are there or not.”

“…So, by the time he finds out it would be too late…” I turned to the commander who had just finished his conversation with Asahi.

“…Both Ai and Asahi said that they can’t help immediately in this situation.” I walked toward him and then asked: “Send me to the area so I can check it quickly!”

“No, not you. If I am going to send anyone there, then it’s going to be Rin. If she finds the enemy there, which is unlikely to happen, she won’t engage them until we arrive.”

“But… If she finds the enemy there, she won’t stand a chance against them all alone.” I looked at the tired expression that was all over his face… He got bored of all this search, yet he couldn’t give reckless orders as he said. If I was the leader, I think that I would’ve done the same thing. That’s what we call the leader’s obligation.

“…You think they are more likely to attack here?” I asked.

He sighed as he waved his index in the air in a circular way: “That’s what everyone here is thinking. I am just making sure that there is no one there.”

“So, basically, you’re trying to keep her away from the battlefield as much as possible?”

“…If she wasn’t acting strangely in the last two weeks I would’ve believed in her talent.” He replied as he glared at me.

Since the conversation started to get a bit intense, I decided to end things there… I returned to my chair to prepare the order files as I said: “I shall go call Rin! But I think you’re making a big mistake here.”

Two minutes later, Rin came to the tent. We explained the situation to her and the details of the task she was about to do. As she was leaving the camp, I reminded her once more to not engage the enemy if she finds them. After all, this isn’t training. Mistakes aren’t acceptable.

I returned to my position, and I hadn’t to wait long before Ai notified me that Asahi received a call from Rin in which she said that the enemies were indeed in the abandoned area and that they were preparing to launch the attack.

The commander ordered him to inform the other squads that we found the enemy and share with them the location. Minutes after that, the leaders of the other squads arrived at the commander's tent where they started a quick meeting to change the plan since we were able to intercept them before they launched their attack.

I didn’t expect the mission to go smoothly like this. I kind of felt happy that my idea was correct… All we have to do now is ambush them with all the special forces members we have here and that will be the end for the Red Claws. I was excited to start the counterattack. For me, it was my perfect chance to avenge all the ones who died and disappeared in the attack that happened 6 years ago.

“… Master! This is bad!”

Ai started talking suddenly. A second later, I heard Asahi saying repeatedly: “… This shouldn’t have happened!” I changed the settings quickly so Asahi could hear me through the badge and asked him immediately: “… What happened?!”

“…Were you listening to me the whole time?” He asked in a surprised tone.

“…This isn’t the time for that. Tell me what is happening!” I repeated.

“Rin sent an emergency message in which she said [Someone told them I am here!]”

C’est JK
Haru Yumera