Chapter 57:


Red-Black Course

Closing the door in front of him to ensure that no one would get in the way, Zain turned around towards the pile of tablets on Yusei’s desk.

“Override Mode,” the young man mumbled.

As the words left his mouth, the pendant on his neck shook wildly, distorting itself into pulses and pulses of waves before dissipating into a pile of floating, black dust. Without waiting for his second command, the pile of black dust then made its way to the tablets, covering the device in its entirety.

After a few seconds, the nanobots returned to Zain and once again assumed their pendant form, while the tablet had finished unlocking itself. The young man then glanced over all of the available files on the tablet, in search for at least some kind of clue that he could use.

“Let’s see now… Homework, club budget allocations, permit for installing school equipment…”

Zain looked and looked, but in the end, he couldn’t find any information that would benefit him. But a little setback like that wasn’t enough to make him back down – after all, there were easily hundreds of similar-looking tablets, all on the bookshelf. In that mountain of knowledge, the young man was confident that he could find at least something worthy of note.

There was only one thing that stood in his way, however, and it was time.

Acknowledging this, Zain went through the shelf full of tablets as quickly as he possibly could. The nanobots didn’t even have the time to retract and restart; once he let them out, they went through each of the tablets one by one at a blistering speed, so much that Zain’s nerves were nearly to the point of overload trying to keep up with the constant stream of information being fed to him. His eyes reddened and veins popped up on his head, but even after all the effort the young man spent, it was still not enough.

Not that he didn’t get the information he needed, but Zain could hear the sounds of footsteps coming in closer and closer.

Shit, he’s back so early! The young man thought. He had to drop the act nonetheless, but now, Zain was faced with two options: leave right now, and risk looking too suspicious for his own good, or sacrifice his face, stay and act like he was waiting for the president to return.

Of course, Zain wasn’t the type to care about his face too much. And so, it was easy to decide what choice he would make.

The door clacked open, and in came the Student Council President.

One could guess how surprised he was when the young man caught a glimpse of Zain still sitting by the couch, casually sipping another cup of warm milk.

“You’re… still here?” Yusei asked in shock but realized that he was being too rude with the question. Hiding his embarrassment with a feigned cough, the red-haired young man reiterated:

“Do you still have any questions left?”

“I have a lot, actually, but…” looking at his opposition’s attitude, Zain knew when not to push his boundaries any further. “It seems like you’re gonna be busy with more council work, I assume?”

“Yeah, unfortunately so,” nodded Yusei. “That scuffle just now skyrocketed of paperwork I have to do…”

“It’s okay,” Zain stood up and patted the student council president on the shoulder, trying to console the young man. “I’ll wait until another day. And hey, you’ve helped me a lot, so if there’s anything that you need and I can help, I’d love to.”

“Thank you, Zain. You’re a nice person.” Yusei gave out a nod of gratitude, before waving the young man goodbye. “I’ll see you another day.”

The door to the council office quickly shut, and Zain left the premises to return to his dorm room, finally ending a hard day at work.

At least, that was what it looked like to anyone that might have seen him around.

As soon as he returned to his room, Zain lightly tapped on his pendant and said:

“Bug Mode.”

The nanobots transformed yet again, but this time, it wasn’t any sort of flashy equipment or strange form like the ones shown before. Instead, the pendant now only crawled onto his face and turned into a simple one-eyed glass on his left side.

Zain pressed the button on the side of the device. Within the glass, an intense light flashed, before toning down to reveal a window frame – the same window frame of the student council office.

Zain didn’t just give up on his trip to the Student Council. When he patted Yusei on the back, the young man had cleverly hidden a portion of his nanobots, having formed it into a small bug-sized camera, in his hand, and stuck it onto Yusei without the latter ever noticing. Normally, there wouldn’t be a reason for Zain to do this, because a part of him believed that Yusei would have helped him nonetheless. However, there was also another part in Zain that urged him not to miss the chance he had, and considering his intuition going as far as when he was first brought into the prison, it wasn’t a surprise to see Zain following his instincts.

And now, he was reaping the fruits of his labor, though not by a large margin. Seeing that the bug could only see through its “eye” on the back, Zain decided to be a bit bolder with his approach.

Through his remote control, the bug silently left Yusei’s back and flew to the curtain hanging by the window. And with it, Zain had gained a full view of the office, along with it was Yusei’s scrolling through his tablet’s contents again.

“Zoom,” Zain mumbled, tapping on the controller to his temple.

To his disappointment, the content on the tablet remained unchanged – just as useless to him as everything else he had gotten. However, he didn’t have time to be disappointed just yet, for the door to the office opened again.

In came a small girl quite short in stature. Her starry dark blue eyes and wavy black hair were enough to catch the gaze of any other young man that she met, but for Zain, there was something else about this girl that caught his attention.

Why do I feel like she’s… No, probably just a similar person, the young man thought while switching up the bug to record sounds as well.

Soon, the girl’s voice – a mix of cheekiness and yet determined, but unmistakably familiar – sounded:

“Yu-nii! Why did you stop me back then? And helping that guy, even?”

“I told you to call me President while we’re at school, Mirai,” Yusei shook his head and let out a sigh, putting down his tablet to face the young girl. “And why did I help him? What would have happened if I hadn’t stepped in?”

“Well… that’s…”

“And what were you thinking, dragging even Hanabi into this? Sure, you might have been fine, but what if…”

“Wait…” As the words left his mouth, Yusei’s face paled as he just noticed the seeming danger in the situation. “Where’s Hanabi? Mirai…”

“I’m here, Young…”

“I told you, call me President,” Yusei interrupted the voice coming from outside. “Or Yusei is fine. Just not… that. Not in public.”

“… My apologies, President,” in came another girl. Though her red hair and blazing eyes hidden beneath a pair of glasses were much different, her dignified appearance once again reminded Zain of a certain someone he knew – someone that he shouldn’t be reminded of.

“Anyway, I told you, don’t move on your own!” Yusei then turned to the two girls and scolded them. “Do you want to reveal yourself to everyone?”

“I thought it would be okay as long as there was no witness… I’m sorry,” answered the girl called Hanabi, but the way she said it only sent Yusei to a cold sweat.

“Are you nuts?...” Yusei almost screamed, but, recognizing that they were still in school, lowered his voice by the last second and pulled out a remote. As the young man pressed the single button on the device, curtains from all over dropped down to block all windows, while from the walls, large cotton pads rose to soundproof the premises.

After ensuring that no one else (beside Zain, who was still listening in through the bug) could hear them, he continued:

“This is Aoba Academy! Where elite children of all influential figures, or one-in-a-lifetime talents gather! If just one of them disappeared for more than a day, do you know what kind of commotion it would bring?”


“And besides, I’m already making contact with him!” Yusei, now in the safety of the soundproof room, freely shouted. “A few more days, and we could have confronted him directly!”

The girls, hearing those words, could only bow their heads and bit their lips in regret. “I… I’m sorry…”

“Well, it looks like he hasn’t noticed yet, so we’re safe for now, but remember: no more acting on your own, got it?”

“Yes, President!” Gone were their hesitation, the two girls showed a steely expression, filled with unbreakable determination as they saluted their leader.

Little did they know, the entire conversation that they had did not escape the eyes of a young man. And though he did not understand some details of the conversation, there was one thing that Zain was certain.

Just like him targeting Yusei for his own gain, Yusei was doing the same to him. But what for, and why, those were still questions that needed answers.

When those thoughts ran across Zain’s mind, Yusei’s body also started to move.

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