Chapter 39:

039 – Prologue to a New Trouble

Rainbow of the Horizon—Illuminating Our Darkened Path | Our World

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.Bookmark here

But it will come just alongside the end of school which is less than a month to go.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Looking back from that, I guess the fourth years that I know don't have many problems with their paths.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"Now that it's on mind…Bookmark here

I haven't asked you what course you're taking, Anna."Bookmark here

"So you don't know yet, Nii? I'll be taking Accountancy since it will be added on the curriculum next year."Bookmark here

"Just like Dad, huh."Bookmark here

"Naru's taking Visual Arts," Nagi butted.Bookmark here

Then her little sister sulked, "I should be the one saying that!"Bookmark here

Ai-san caught on without us asking and told her chosen course.Bookmark here

"I'll be taking Visual Arts. I'm inspired with interior designs."Bookmark here

"Ehhh… I really thought you'd be taking Culinary, Ai-san."Bookmark here

"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."Bookmark here

"Tch. Ai-chan's talking about a guy again…"Bookmark here

"Just date Yuka Jean already!"Bookmark here

The other girls got a little bitter.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Although I don't really use it a lot which is why I only got to mention it.Bookmark here

*knocking*Bookmark here

"I'll get the door," and I stood up and received Hiro who is carrying bags containing grocery.Bookmark here

"Thanks for having me again."Bookmark here

"Boss? I didn't think I'll meet you here," Ai-san stood and bowed.Bookmark here

"I could say the same thing to you, Ai-san. And it's Hiroomi-san. I'm not your boss anymore.Bookmark here

I'm on lunch today, right, Gin? What's Yu doing anyway?"Bookmark here

I took the bags from him and walked towards the kitchen.Bookmark here

"Just go check her upstairs. I'll take this stuff out."Bookmark here

"S-Senpai…? What's going on?"Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

But Anna was there to the rescue.Bookmark here

"Yuna-nee is actually living here temporarily."Bookmark here

"Yuna-nee… Hiroomi-san's wife?! But why?"Bookmark here

"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."Bookmark here

"Little Sis… Using 'nee' and 'nee-chan' might confuse Ai-san."Bookmark here

In case some of you don't know, Anna actually began calling Rin as 'Nee-chan' ever since chapter 14 of NoFutsuu.Bookmark here

Hiro had already come down while we mind the topic at hand.Bookmark here

"She said she'll come down later. I'll start cooking then."Bookmark here

"Huh? I think it's still early."Bookmark here

"You didn't see the beef, Gin?"Bookmark here

"Oh. That will indeed take long. Take your time then, Hiro."Bookmark here

"And I'll be eating with you in the house okay, Nii?"Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

And then Ai-san and Naru followed respectively.Bookmark here

"I'll be eating at home today."Bookmark here

"Ane Shiro is stopping by later."Bookmark here

"You don't have to say that, Naru."Bookmark here

The beef was so tender.Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Truly, even the little things matter in this life.Bookmark here

"You sure you're not forgetting anything, Sis?"Bookmark here

"I don't think so. I'll need your help in putting my things in the car, though."Bookmark here

"Sure~"Bookmark here

"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."Bookmark here

"Will you be looking for a new job soon?"Bookmark here

"Hmm… I'll probably take a break for a few months."Bookmark here

"Is that so… but I have a suggestion if it's okay with you."Bookmark here

"Oh yeah? I'd like to hear that."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"You all ready, Sis?"Bookmark here

"Yeah."Bookmark here

"Huh?! You're already leaving, Sis?" Rin suddenly appeared on my back.Bookmark here

"Woah. Where did you come from?"Bookmark here

"I've already talked with Mom and Dad. They wished me well."Bookmark here

"At least let me give you a hug!" the little sister then embraced her and acted very doting.Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

Love you, Sis."Bookmark here

"Ufufu… I rarely see you like this, Ringo.Bookmark here

I'll let you borrow my gown if you'd like."Bookmark here

"As if our sizes are the same!"Bookmark here

Okay, Hiro… We're out of this conversation.Bookmark here

After releasing her little sister, she opened her arms and looked at me.Bookmark here

"Ahahaha. Of course, of course.Bookmark here

I'll definitely miss you, Sis. You two can come and visit from time to time to eat."Bookmark here

"Hmmm? You're not going to say that you love me, Gin?"Bookmark here

"Hahh… What a drag. Of course I love you too, Sis.Bookmark here

Well, shouldn't you be going now? Hiro will surely take some time getting your things out."Bookmark here

"Haha. If only I knew earlier that Yu has a lot of things with her…"Bookmark here

The two of us waved at the center of the street as the vehicle shrinks from our vision. And immediately, it became quiet.Bookmark here

"I have things to do so I'll be going back, Potato-Bookmark here

Are you sure you'll be okay?"Bookmark here

"…"Bookmark here

I smiled rather sweet and patted her head. Thus, I walked in back to my house, alone.Bookmark here

"Oh well. I guess I'll go work about Silver Apple.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

**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…"Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Like how I made too much for breakfast.Bookmark here

"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.Bookmark here

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."Bookmark here

"Finally some news I'd be worried about…Bookmark here

Haku, try not to roam around much outside."Bookmark here

He gave a fist-paw bump.Bookmark here

"Look out for the house, then. I'll be going to school now."Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

And the first thing I heard from a call was the sound of a bang.Bookmark here

"Hello, Makoto? Are you doing something?Bookmark here

Wait, I just heard gunfire."Bookmark here

"You're calling on my private comms, Gin."Bookmark here

"Oh? Is it not a good time?"Bookmark here

"It's alright. We're about to wrap up.Bookmark here

So? Why did you- Watch your back! …call?"Bookmark here

"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.Bookmark here

I figured that I need to tell you this."Bookmark here

"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."Bookmark here

"Understood. I'll be careful when coming home from work. Bye, then."Bookmark here

*beep*Bookmark here

As always, Rin has a knack of understanding the situation with only the incomplete conversations from my call.Bookmark here

"I heard that from the news earlier."Bookmark here

"Yeah, I promise that I won't go out at night, Nii."Bookmark here

"You better be, Anna."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

This time, I am in a group of four with Yui, Riku, and Poru.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"This is out of nowhere… but have you heard of the news earlier?" Riku started while he tried to make it a concealed conversation.Bookmark here

Yui replied with the same way.Bookmark here

"I saw it too… but I don't understand why it's a big deal."Bookmark here

"I was browsing in social media earlier and that's pretty much what I saw everywhere."Bookmark here

"Ehhh. Gin, using social media doesn't really suit you."Bookmark here

"You say that, Yui. But you're always the first to recognize my posts in TAC."Bookmark here

"That's because your posts are so plain."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

"Hey, Poru. You didn't close the faucet properly again!"Bookmark here

I noticed and heard the sound of water slowly dropping, just like how it was when Sean did the same thing.Bookmark here

And there are actually sinks in our classroom.Bookmark here

Mato suddenly spoke in front.Bookmark here

"Hey~ I'm going to grab a bite with Ryota and Dom. Gin, Nagi, wanna join us?"Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"I'll be out, Mato-sen. I have work today."Bookmark here

"Heh. Otsukare, 19 year-old."Bookmark here

"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."Bookmark here

Bookmark here

"Hello, who is this?"Bookmark here

"It's the first time I will be talking to you, Gin. This is me, Marco Lugis."Bookmark here

"Ohhh…? Marco? It's nice to be talking to you. I haven't seen you at all, are you back in the base now?"Bookmark here

"Not yet, but in a few days I will. I'm currently in Maranello."Bookmark here

"Oh, wow. Buy me a Ferrari."Bookmark here

"Life is hard."Bookmark here

"Why did you call me, by the way?"Bookmark here

"I'm currently uploading a software in the cloud to you, and it will get through Tenth and the entire school.Bookmark here

Basically, I'm getting unusual signatures from Blue Ink."Bookmark here

"What in the world… You can still monitor the school even there in Italy?!"Bookmark here

"Pretty much.Bookmark here

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."Bookmark here

With the notification coming in to my phone, I took my earphones and went through the software that Marco sent.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"…!Bookmark here

Yep. This one is weird. Have you notified Tenth about this?"Bookmark here

"Yes. Just now.Bookmark here

I'm sure that you won't feel it since you have the counter devices right now. But still, be careful in the school."Bookmark here

"I have a question, Marco. You have traveled around the world, right?"Bookmark here

"That's right."Bookmark here

"Can I confirm from you that the Wave Amplification almost two years ago didn't happen in any other countries?"Bookmark here

"It's only in our country."Bookmark here

I really thought that the mystery of this incident has been solved already. But the truth says the otherwise.Bookmark here

"Alright. Thank you for the heads up. I might need to borrow your 'hacking' system to let the students monitor the school too."Bookmark here

"I agree to that. I'll send you the code so it can be modified.Bookmark here

Wait, can you program, Gin?"Bookmark here

"That's not it. It's just that your own scripting and program is easy to read.Bookmark here

Well, see you soon."Bookmark here

"Likewise."Bookmark here

*beep*Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"Mr. Gin Sakato, please proceed to the principal's office immediately."Bookmark here

"You heard the call, Mato-sen."Bookmark here

"Go ahead."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"Uhh… This may sound random, but do you have usable sinks in the store?"Bookmark here

"Yes, we have."Bookmark here

"I seem to be hearing a trickle. Maybe the faucet was left open or there's a leak?"Bookmark here

"Oh? I'll check on it later. Your total is 127 Laxes.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Thank you very much."Bookmark here

"Thank you too."Bookmark here

I safely got to come home.Bookmark here

But in the next day…Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

"Last night, a corpse was found around the Sector 527 in Ginga, Cotona. It was found near an art store in the said location.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

The corpse was identified as a notorious drug pusher in the area."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

I got to pass by the scene, but it was already cleared out.Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Thankfully, no signs of increase from the previous records were seen.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Without hesitation, I went towards the fellow Exile which greatly surprised not only my friends but the students around the area.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

The Exile then identified that he was Makoto.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

The faked conversation looked like nonsense as it was short, but it held a lot of significance.Bookmark here

"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.Bookmark here

Five hours later…Bookmark here

"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?"Bookmark here

Shiro answered with incomplete certainty, "Was it Yuuga?"Bookmark here

"Potato. We have classes in S1CA in twenty minutes."Bookmark here

"Got it, Rin."Bookmark here

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…Bookmark here

…only to find that the sound waves are amplifying fast.Bookmark here

"You three…! Get out of the school right now!"Bookmark here

"What's up with those waves?!"Bookmark here

"Argh, Nagi! Just do as what Gin says!"Bookmark here

"Potato! Go follow immediately after you're done with what you need to do!"Bookmark here

"I'll be fine, just instruct the students you will see to get away!"Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"Attention, all students of Blue Ink High School. Please leave the vicinity of the school immediately and go to White Street.Bookmark here

The scanners are identifying rapid increase in the level of sound in the entire school.Bookmark here

Again, please calmly vacate the school premises immediately. The counter earpiece will protect you from the waves."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

I shuffled and changed my hair, and took out a white handkerchief from my pocket.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

There were eyes from a high place that seem to be looking for something in the middle of the students.Bookmark here

"Tsk… I can't find the target from here. The admins really are fast to notice."Bookmark here

"Oho… I wonder who it was."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Indeed… Teardrop.Bookmark here

To be continued.

Chapter Message:
Bookmark here

That wraps up 039!Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Thanks for reading!Bookmark here

NextBookmark here

040: The naivety of the young.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.