Rainbow of the Horizon—Illuminating Our Darkened Path
I'm not the kind of person who gets sentimental when another school year is about to end. I'm sort of happy and all, but it's more like I agonize to that thought. The impending summer is always blazing hot.
But it will come just alongside the end of school which is less than a month to go.
Being a senior high school student that is being promoted to a second year doesn't have much stress as we are undergraduates. But the stress is found especially when you are a graduating fourth year in junior high school. You'll have to think more of your future as you have to decide what path you will take on the society and the reality.
Last year, Rin and I didn't have many problems in choosing our courses. Nagi and Shiro were also looking directly to what they wanted. Jean on the other hand was on a slump, but he eventually figured it out. Akira… well, he wasn't slacking off at all since he actually has an authority in school as the principal's secretary.
Looking back from that, I guess the fourth years that I know don't have many problems with their paths.
The only problem is that for some reason or another, Anna and her friends are somehow in my house. Thank goodness I'm with Nagi today working on TAC stuff.
"Now that it's on mind…
I haven't asked you what course you're taking, Anna."
"So you don't know yet, Nii? I'll be taking Accountancy since it will be added on the curriculum next year."
"Just like Dad, huh."
"Naru's taking Visual Arts," Nagi butted.
Then her little sister sulked, "I should be the one saying that!"
Ai-san caught on without us asking and told her chosen course.
"I'll be taking Visual Arts. I'm inspired with interior designs."
"Ehhh… I really thought you'd be taking Culinary, Ai-san."
"I don't really see myself as a cook, Nagi-senpai. But Jin is here to teach me so I don't think I need to take it."
"Tch. Ai-chan's talking about a guy again…"
"Just date Yuka Jean already!"
The other girls got a little bitter.
And this might be too late, but the term 'Yuka' means 'brother' or a guy older than you. It's like an honorific similar to how Japanese calls them 'onii-san.' For the females, I don't know the history of it but the term for it is 'Ane' which is also Japanese for 'sister', but it doesn't have more variations in our language.
Although I don't really use it a lot which is why I only got to mention it.
"I'll get the door," and I stood up and received Hiro who is carrying bags containing grocery.
"Thanks for having me again."
"Boss? I didn't think I'll meet you here," Ai-san stood and bowed.
"I could say the same thing to you, Ai-san. And it's Hiroomi-san. I'm not your boss anymore.
I'm on lunch today, right, Gin? What's Yu doing anyway?"
I took the bags from him and walked towards the kitchen.
"Just go check her upstairs. I'll take this stuff out."
"S-Senpai…? What's going on?"
So Ai-san doesn't know the situation and got surprised of Hiro casually roaming around my house. She had her susses but she hesitated on voicing them out.
But Anna was there to the rescue.
"Yuna-nee is actually living here temporarily."
"Yuna-nee… Hiroomi-san's wife?! But why?"
"You've heard about Nii getting really ill, right? Since we weren't available to check up on him 24/7, Yuna-nee along with Nee-chan moved here. But Nee-chan moved out earlier."
"Little Sis… Using 'nee' and 'nee-chan' might confuse Ai-san."
In case some of you don't know, Anna actually began calling Rin as 'Nee-chan' ever since chapter 14 of NoFutsuu.
Hiro had already come down while we mind the topic at hand.
"She said she'll come down later. I'll start cooking then."
"Huh? I think it's still early."
"You didn't see the beef, Gin?"
"Oh. That will indeed take long. Take your time then, Hiro."
"And I'll be eating with you in the house okay, Nii?"
I haven't said anything yet, let alone looked at Anna but she already went ahead and said it. She really knows that his big brother has a habit of inviting friends for meals. Way to go, imouto.
And then Ai-san and Naru followed respectively.
"I'll be eating at home today."
"Ane Shiro is stopping by later."
"You don't have to say that, Naru."
The beef was so tender.
▪ ▪ ▪
The remaining days of Sis living in my house was apparent to be not very long anymore as the day where she moves out finally came. Rin just greeted me on our windows and didn't come here. Thus, I was alone with Sis with our last breakfast together.
Being only the two of us face to face, we had the chance to converse much more than we did. I then realized why Rin was not here. How thoughtful of her to give me quality time with her/my sister before she leaves.
But I owe her a lot for this. I hadn't felt it as I took it for granted, and it may just be the case for Sis. My 'family' really has grown to be a big one. I can't imagine myself having this mentality if this happened two years ago or earlier.
I was bound to be an empty person that will grow to be a selfish and thoughtless one. Having my life changed is truly a gift. I wouldn't be talking and laughing with Yuna if I did not change.
Truly, even the little things matter in this life.
"You sure you're not forgetting anything, Sis?"
"I don't think so. I'll need your help in putting my things in the car, though."
"Also, I'll be back maybe tomorrow or in a few days to clean the guest room and see if there are things that I don't need. If there's something you're interested in my things you can have them. Not like I'm going to need them since I've already resigned."
"Will you be looking for a new job soon?"
"Hmm… I'll probably take a break for a few months."
"Is that so… but I have a suggestion if it's okay with you."
"Oh yeah? I'd like to hear that."
And I whispered whatever suggestion I told her. She then pinched me on both of my cheeks with a rather sweet smile. I was astonished.
~ ~ ~
It wasn't long until her husband came to pick her up. All of her things were packed and placed in the car in no time.
"You all ready, Sis?"
"Huh?! You're already leaving, Sis?" Rin suddenly appeared on my back.
"Woah. Where did you come from?"
"I've already talked with Mom and Dad. They wished me well."
"At least let me give you a hug!" the little sister then embraced her and acted very doting.
Love you, Sis."
"Ufufu… I rarely see you like this, Ringo.
I'll let you borrow my gown if you'd like."
"As if our sizes are the same!"
Okay, Hiro… We're out of this conversation.
After releasing her little sister, she opened her arms and looked at me.
"Ahahaha. Of course, of course.
I'll definitely miss you, Sis. You two can come and visit from time to time to eat."
"Hmmm? You're not going to say that you love me, Gin?"
"Hahh… What a drag. Of course I love you too, Sis.
Well, shouldn't you be going now? Hiro will surely take some time getting your things out."
"Haha. If only I knew earlier that Yu has a lot of things with her…"
The two of us waved at the center of the street as the vehicle shrinks from our vision. And immediately, it became quiet.
"I have things to do so I'll be going back, Potato-
Are you sure you'll be okay?"
I smiled rather sweet and patted her head. Thus, I walked in back to my house, alone.
"Oh well. I guess I'll go work about Silver Apple.
**Hello? Yes, this is Sakato. I would like to request an initial assessment for the storyboards for episode 1. It seems that Akanami-san has matters she has to attend. I'll have her look at it as soon as possible. Yes. Thank you very much…"
▪ ▪ ▪
My word, this has become weird. My house suddenly became silent even just after waking up in the morning. Even before Sis moved out, I'm already aware that I will be living alone eventually. But although my mind had already adapted to that fact, there are habits that are certainly hard to set aside.
Like how I made too much for breakfast.
"We would like to warn the people of Cotona to be more careful when going outdoors as there are reports that a notorious killer that was past lurking in the Capital had made its way to the said province.
It is suspected that the killer is under the alias 'Teardrop'. He has no apparent appearance but many witnesses said that he is wearing a black face mask with a white teardrop on it. Again, please be careful when going out especially at night."
"Finally some news I'd be worried about…
Haku, try not to roam around much outside."
He gave a fist-paw bump.
"Look out for the house, then. I'll be going to school now."
~ ~ ~
While I was walking to school with Rin and Anna, I figured that I have to mention this to someone with the same experience and asked for assistance.
And the first thing I heard from a call was the sound of a bang.
"Hello, Makoto? Are you doing something?
Wait, I just heard gunfire."
"You're calling on my private comms, Gin."
"Oh? Is it not a good time?"
"It's alright. We're about to wrap up.
So? Why did you- Watch your back! …call?"
"I'll try not to make this long. A guy named Teardrop is currently in Cotona right now. The public might just know that he's a killer, but I think he's a hitman.
I figured that I need to tell you this."
"I see… Then I really have to tell Juno about this. If he is similar to how I was, then he is probably a night owl. Don't go out too much at night."
"Understood. I'll be careful when coming home from work. Bye, then."
As always, Rin has a knack of understanding the situation with only the incomplete conversations from my call.
"I heard that from the news earlier."
"Yeah, I promise that I won't go out at night, Nii."
"You better be, Anna."
Of course it became a topic around the five of us in breaks. But we were all just tied to what the information from the news was revealed. We do not know anything deeper than what we know.
In class, the four of us unusually decided to disperse and group with other people as it was always the same scene when we are doing still life.
This time, I am in a group of four with Yui, Riku, and Poru.
I would say that it is weird that I'm getting along with my other classmates, unlike the time when I was a douchebag pretending to be friends with the other Children. And speaking of Yui, she is thankfully not feeling awkward, granted that I rejected her. Though, I do not know if she still has feelings for me.
"This is out of nowhere… but have you heard of the news earlier?" Riku started while he tried to make it a concealed conversation.
Yui replied with the same way.
"I saw it too… but I don't understand why it's a big deal."
"I was browsing in social media earlier and that's pretty much what I saw everywhere."
"Ehhh. Gin, using social media doesn't really suit you."
"You say that, Yui. But you're always the first to recognize my posts in TAC."
"That's because your posts are so plain."
It was mentioned in the first day of school that smartphones are being forcefully 'hacked' so that social media consumption won't happen in between classes. But breaks are an exemption as the system automatically disables in a certain time.
It was made by Marco Lugis, of course. I haven't him seen at all, though. He was highlighted in chapter 29 of NoFutsuu if you wish to know him. But I wonder which part of the Earth is he at right now.
While I got over that thought, I came back to the earlier topic. Having seen the news pop up everywhere about him, he might just be a scary identity in the Capital.
"Hey, Poru. You didn't close the faucet properly again!"
I noticed and heard the sound of water slowly dropping, just like how it was when Sean did the same thing.
And there are actually sinks in our classroom.
Mato suddenly spoke in front.
"Hey~ I'm going to grab a bite with Ryota and Dom. Gin, Nagi, wanna join us?"
Nagi immediately agreed from the other group, and just as much as I'd want to, I'm in charge of the kitchen until Hiro comes back.
"I'll be out, Mato-sen. I have work today."
"Heh. Otsukare, 19 year-old."
"Yeah, yeah. I'm old." My phone then vibrated from my pocket. "I have a call, Mato-sen so I'll be stepping out for a bit."
"Hello, who is this?"
"It's the first time I will be talking to you, Gin. This is me, Marco Lugis."
"Ohhh…? Marco? It's nice to be talking to you. I haven't seen you at all, are you back in the base now?"
"Not yet, but in a few days I will. I'm currently in Maranello."
"Oh, wow. Buy me a Ferrari."
"Life is hard."
"Why did you call me, by the way?"
"I'm currently uploading a software in the cloud to you, and it will get through Tenth and the entire school.
Basically, I'm getting unusual signatures from Blue Ink."
"What in the world… You can still monitor the school even there in Italy?!"
But the signatures I am detecting are not new for me. When I was still in Orio, my province-wide scanners detected this nearly two years ago."
With the notification coming in to my phone, I took my earphones and went through the software that Marco sent.
The interface showed a visual representation of waves… or soundwaves in the current location. It also showed a history of scans from the past, which represented normality. However, the live scan waves marginally increased from the normal.
Yep. This one is weird. Have you notified Tenth about this?"
"Yes. Just now.
I'm sure that you won't feel it since you have the counter devices right now. But still, be careful in the school."
"I have a question, Marco. You have traveled around the world, right?"
"Can I confirm from you that the Wave Amplification almost two years ago didn't happen in any other countries?"
"It's only in our country."
I really thought that the mystery of this incident has been solved already. But the truth says the otherwise.
"Alright. Thank you for the heads up. I might need to borrow your 'hacking' system to let the students monitor the school too."
"I agree to that. I'll send you the code so it can be modified.
Wait, can you program, Gin?"
"That's not it. It's just that your own scripting and program is easy to read.
Well, see you soon."
After coming back inside the classroom from my call, I noticed that the only remaining time for school is an hour. In a few minutes after coming back from sketching, a broadcasting announcement started.
"Mr. Gin Sakato, please proceed to the principal's office immediately."
"You heard the call, Mato-sen."
As I expected, Tenth called me to discuss about the readings that Marco had shared. The changes in the sound waves were very small, but it was enough to give us a scare.
Immediately, we planned preventive measures together with Akira even if the possibility of the incident occurring again is still uncertain. What I did not know is that Tenth has been preparing for this after that time, and he is yet to decide if he will completely suspend the classes or relocate the students to an alternative Blue Ink, in the event that the waves amplifies again.
~ ~ ~
Walking in the night has become silent, but not yet dangerous. After work, I came to the nearest art store from Giotto's and bought ink for my printer.
But just as I was paying in the cashier, I once again heard continuous and slow sound of dropping water. And some sound which may just be fighting cats.
"Uhh… This may sound random, but do you have usable sinks in the store?"
"Yes, we have."
"I seem to be hearing a trickle. Maybe the faucet was left open or there's a leak?"
"Oh? I'll check on it later. Your total is 127 Laxes.
Thank you very much."
"Thank you too."
I safely got to come home.
But in the next day…
▪ ▪ ▪
"Last night, a corpse was found around the Sector 527 in Ginga, Cotona. It was found near an art store in the said location.
A witness of the corpse told that he heard the sound of dripping and thought that his water line had a leak. He then found a dead man in which the sound of dripping was actually blood.
The corpse was identified as a notorious drug pusher in the area."
I immediately went to the art store and asked the same cashier if he also saw the scene. Thankfully, he did not, as I think that this is Teardrop's doing.
I got to pass by the scene, but it was already cleared out.
▪ ▪ ▪
A few days later, the priority of safety increased. Every student is required to be checked by the security if they have their earpieces on.
Thankfully, no signs of increase from the previous records were seen.
But then, an individual has been catching attention because of the mask that is identified to be an Exile. One problem that we Exiles encounter with our masks is the difficulty to identify each other.
Without hesitation, I went towards the fellow Exile which greatly surprised not only my friends but the students around the area.
Hiro in his wedding made his identity clear even with 'humans' hearing it. If he can, perhaps I can gradually do it too. And besides, we wished for our identities to be hidden with the oath together with the president. But we are not bound by a rule that we cannot reveal ourselves if we decide to.
The Exile then identified that he was Makoto.
We began conversing with making it look like we're strangers. I then led him to the admin's office but I didn't accompany him.
The faked conversation looked like nonsense as it was short, but it held a lot of significance.
"Teardrop's trademark is making his victim's blood drop loudly to be heard by the ears. It's what he does in the Capital," is what he said.
Five hours later…
"Really… Mato-sen is just taking advantage of the ink here." I grumbled. "Who was the one that bought the ink in the cartridge right now?"
Shiro answered with incomplete certainty, "Was it Yuuga?"
"Potato. We have classes in S1CA in twenty minutes."
"Got it, Rin."
I was found together with Nagi, Rin and Shiro in the Art Room while we were printing handouts. Out of curiosity, I checked the live wave record from the PC…
…only to find that the sound waves are amplifying fast.
"You three…! Get out of the school right now!"
"What's up with those waves?!"
"Argh, Nagi! Just do as what Gin says!"
"Potato! Go follow immediately after you're done with what you need to do!"
"I'll be fine, just instruct the students you will see to get away!"
I then rushed to the broadcasting room to see if I can still do a school-wide broadcast with the interference of the sound waves. There was thankfully an alarm I can sound.
"Attention, all students of Blue Ink High School. Please leave the vicinity of the school immediately and go to White Street.
The scanners are identifying rapid increase in the level of sound in the entire school.
Again, please calmly vacate the school premises immediately. The counter earpiece will protect you from the waves."
I literally did not waste a second and went to the school grounds without concealing my speed to manage the students that are coming out from the buildings.
But I don't know if my eyes were playing with me, but I saw a person on the rooftop of the new building just now.
I shuffled and changed my hair, and took out a white handkerchief from my pocket.
~ ~ ~
There were eyes from a high place that seem to be looking for something in the middle of the students.
"Tsk… I can't find the target from here. The admins really are fast to notice."
"Oho… I wonder who it was."
As I immediately jumped to the rooftop with a faceless identity, I saw a guy wearing all-black from top to bottom. He turned around and saw beyond his hood are fierce eyes and nose mask with a white teardrop on it.
To be continued.
That wraps up 039!
Finally filling one of the holes that NoFutsuu left! It really felt like the wave amplification I introduced in chapter 2 of the prequel had some interesting potential, and I aim to give it the light of the day.
Thanks for reading!
040: The naivety of the young.
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