Chapter 60:


Red-Black Course

Later that night, when the entire academy was deep in its slumber, a single silhouette wandered the hallways. The figure was short and chubby, though one couldn’t deny that the black garb they wore helped them with blending in the surroundings despite their easily recognizable appearance.

Hidden behind the mask they wore was a communication earpiece. And said earpiece quietly rung as the hidden assailant continued to tread the hall:

“Is it really necessary for all of this? You know I can just turn off the surveillance using Master’s protocols, right?”

“No, it’s cooler this way,” answered Mike behind the suit. “And besides, it’s like Sensei taught: the higher the tech, the better going analog works.”

“… You just wanted an excuse to wear that dumb suit you made, didn’t you?”

“… Maybe.”

“Good lord Michael,” the boy could hear the sound of disappointment coming from the earpiece as if his mentor was speaking directly to him. “Can you be serious for once?”

“Look, if I spent all that time making this suit, then you know I’m gonna use the entire suit!” The boy argued.

“Hm? Isn’t it just a poorly-sewn hybrid between a ninja outfit and a superhero costume you saw in comics?”

“O-Of course not! Look!”

With a flustered look hidden behind his mask, Mike pressed the large button on his belt. Flashes of green lights in the form of root-like paths lit up beneath the suit, and with it, the boy sprinted. If another person was able to witness the scene, they wouldn’t have believed their eyes, as the boy’s seemingly unfit body was able to produce a running speed comparable to pro athletes, while his flexibility as he twisted and turned around the hallway would have put any gymnast to shame.

Making his way to the door, Mike put up a victory sign and let out a quiet laugh:

“See? It’s an enhanced suit I made with inspiration from Zain’s nanobots! With this, I have the physicality to do anything he does!”

“And all of that, when the mission is for stealth, matters how?”

“S-Shut up!”

True to the AI’s words, there was no reason for Mike to put on the suit in the first place, but the boy was too eager to let an opportunity pass like this. Zain had been carrying all the hard work ever since the two met, and now it was his turn.

The boy approached the student council office with care. As he gently turned the knob, a small clacking sound echoed through the hall.

“Locked…” exclaimed Mike, “well, not like I didn’t expect this.”

The boy took out his smartphone and scanned over the lock with its camera. Aoba’s locks and doors in the dorms used the holder’s biological features like fingerprints, but for publicly used rooms, such as classes and the student council office, the respective AISLE of the representative would be needed to unlock. However, since all the AISLEs were linked to one another, should the creator choose to, they could utilize this loophole to go anywhere they wanted.

Of course, this feature was utilized to its fullest by none other than S.T.’s best (and only) disciple. With only a single scan from his phone, the Master Protocol within his AISLE activated, and the lock opened without a hitch.

“Whoa… talk about the Student Council…” Mike couldn’t help but utter words of phrase as he was soon overwhelmed by the sheer number of tablets on the giant bookshelf, as well as the pile of tablets just lying around the president’s desk. “Though surely they need some optimization; why waste so much money on tablets when you can use just one with more space?”

“Well, not like it’s my problem,” giving himself a shrug, Mike continued to his main task. “24, give me a full scan.”

“Will do,” answered the AI, who flashed through the multitude of tablets with ease. From its red eye, holographic screens popped up one after another, almost to the point of lighting up the room entirely in their glow. Meanwhile, 24 kept on filtering out information that was useless one by one at a blistering speed, causing the screens to all flicker repeatedly.

All of the information in all the tablets would be worth thousands and thousands of terabytes, but the process was over incredibly quickly. So fast, that Mike didn’t even need to ask for the necessary documents – everything was presented to him in less than a minute.

However, as soon as Mike took a look at the documents, the smile that he was about to show to the AI froze in place.

“… Isn’t this too little?” The boy swiped over the single page of the document he received. On the page were some logs from the student council and staff’s activities.

“Nope, that’s just enough,” answered 24. “Check again to see what I took.”

As Mike glanced over the information one more time, he was still drawing a blind.

“I don’t get it.”

“Take a look at the students’ log.”

Following the advice, Mike turned his attention to the Student Council President, Yusei Kotaro’s activities. However, even with such a focus, the boy still could not figure out the solution.

“I don’t see what’s wrong? It only says here that he leaves…”

Only when he uttered those words out loud did he realize the anomaly in this piece of document. Aoba Academy was meant to be a completely secluded environment from the outside world, even if it’s located in the center of the bustling Shibuya area of Tokyo, Japan. And if it was supposed to be a secluded environment…

“… What the heck is he doing going outside the school almost every day? Is this even allowed?”

“It’s not,” replied 24. “But considering that he’s the President, he has all kinds of ways to take advantage of his positions. Not submitting his activity logs to the school’s database is one of them, for instance.”

“Then this is…”

“A clue, correct. Now, Michael, what’s your next move?”

“Well, obviously it’s tailing him, of course. But the hard part is…”

“You’re seriously thinking about how to do so?” 24 raised its lens. “What’s the suit you’re wearing for?”

“Suit?” It took a second for Mike to realize what the AI meant. “Oh, right, suit! Of course! … But I can’t do it right now!”

“Obviously,” another shake of the head from 24. “Just wait until tomorrow. And remember to put everything back together.”

The next day came as uneventful as the previous one. Only that this time, Lewis didn’t show up after the inevitable empty-handed Dimensional Science class was over.

“Your friend’s not coming today?” Zain asked.

“I don’t know,” Mike could only shrug, as he really didn’t have a clue why Lewis didn’t show up.

“Well, that’s that. Now, about that information.”

“Information? Oh, right… how about you first?”

“Well… I… don’t have anything,” the young man shook his head in disappointment. “I visited the Student Council yesterday for some orientation, but the guy had some business to attend to.”

Tough luck. If only he knew that was when Yusei would leave the school’s campus, thought Mike.

“Anyway, enough about me. Did you contact your teacher?”

“I’ve… been trying since yesterday, but nothing came up,” Mike quickly shifted his eyes before shaking his head as well, feigning the best disappointed look he could. “I think he’s on a business trip or something.”

It was partly the truth since that was indeed what his mentor told him. But of course, he couldn’t tell Zain about the fact that they actually made contact already and he was on another secret task.

“Unfortunate. Oh well, I think I’ll go back to my dorm for today,” Zain exclaimed with a bored look. “What about you?”

“I’ll… probably do the same,” answered Mike.

“Okay then. See you tomorrow.”

“Yeah, see you.”

Once Zain had left the premises, Mike turned his gaze towards the elevator to the top floor of the building opposite his, where the student council office lay.

“Let’s do this thing.”   

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