Rainbow of the Horizon—Illuminating Our Darkened Path
Although I appeared out of nowhere as it is impossible to think that I came from the inside, he was not caught off his guard. He then stared at me for a while and spoke.
"To think that there is a non-human in the middle of all the students. How long have you been hiding yourself?"
"Who knows? Maybe you have seen an Exile already without its mask."
It seems that my being as Gin Sakato wasn't noticed as I'm behind this mask. Even if it was unnecessary, I removed the black elastic headband that I always put on my wrist, and my shoes are also very common with the other male students. Thus, I have no significant features to point out.
"I don't care about that. I'm on a tight schedule so I should make this fast…
I wonder what the Exiles can do without their shield?!"
Teardrop is right. The shield that he meant was our defensive clothing. All I have with me is my mask.
But I have to say that he deserve to be called an assassin as his moves are resembling Makoto and his agility. He proved himself to be quite nimble as he charges towards me with a combat knife.
"Combat knife… Don't make me recall of Horach. I've learned my lesson."
While he hasn't yet stopped, I also then pushed forward as though we were about to collide. But all that happened is that I passed by him as we both stopped.
"Seven… You have a whole lot of pockets, Teardrop."
With me are seven knives including the one he was holding in the count.
"How did you…"
"If you're here to kill someone, don't even try to continue anymore. Or…
Do you want me to remove those protective earpieces and watch your head explode?"
I was late to realize, but right now, the over amplification is still happening. He wouldn't be standing here in front of me unless he has an earpiece, unless he got those from somewhere.
He was finally moved and affected as he stepped back in surprise. It was however expected that it was not enough to slow him down. Barehanded, he once again charged.
Undoubtedly, his moves and attacks are not something to shrug about. If I wasn't as fast as I am right now, I would have been hit with his first strike. But even he was getting a little annoyed that he hasn’t landed a blow.
The eyes of the assassin were then set ablaze again just like how he looked like when I first saw him.
For crying out loud. The gaps on the floor of the rooftop is so small… yet my heel still got caught that made me lose balance.
He saw the very small opportunity and grabbed my right leg without me getting to resist. He's an assassin, what did he do? Well…
"Ack…! AAAGGHHH! Are you wearing metal plates on your knees?!"
"What are you talking about?"
His grip to my right leg was so strong. He then pulled it down towards his chest and kneed it upwards, opposite to the downward pull.
Heck, it hurts that I don't even want to stand again. And so, I asked that because the kick had the very same feeling when I got kicked on my arms with metal plates on foot. But to assume that he doesn't have them is surreal. He can actually pull off that power with just his sheer strength.
But in contrast to my expectations, I didn't hear a crack. I was so sure that the force penetrated through my muscles down to my bone. There is no doubt that a kick like that can easily and completely break my leg.
"How does it feel without your shield? Painful right?"
"Hah… Hah… Yeah… But I expected a lot more than that… Look, you didn't break the bone."
I shook my leg continuously and did low leaps with both feet and legs.
"H-How… I'm sure that it hit directly… How can you still stand?!"
"Even I ask that myself. But let me at least pay you back.
…like the wind!!!"
With my left leg on pivot, I made a stance and kicked the air like it slashed something invisible. The kick did not hit Teardrop, but it was the compressed gust that pushed him far enough to hit his back on the railings.
Finally, he was completely shaken.
"Good grief… Hah… Hah… Hah… Yeah… I really don't have time.
I don't have the time to kill those that he failed to eliminate.
Exile, get in my way again… I'll make sure to take my precious time in eliminating you. I'll be gunning for all your bones next.
And he jumped off from the building.
As I am getting down from the stairs, I noticed that the level of sound waves is gradually decreasing.
~ ~ ~
"Potato…! What took you so long?!"
"Why are you limping, Gin?!"
Jean and Rin showed their concern as they waited by the front gate.
"I'm doing fine," and I whispered, "I encountered Teardrop on the rooftop and hurt my leg. Anyway, the results of the head count?"
"Thankfully, there are no casualties involving the students."
"Hahh… That's good to hear."
"Hey, I'll give you a foot," Nagi took my arm and gave me a shoulder to support on while my right leg still hurts.
"Gin…! Why did you just come out?!" Tenth came running towards me with Makoto still wearing his mask.
"Tenth, check the live scans now. The amplification already died down. Let's go in your office later, with Makoto."
"Alright. Better think of an excuse that you'll tell the nurse. Give me fifteen minutes to sort things out."
With a remote microphone that connects to the school-wide broadcast, Tenth spoke to the student body personally.
"Attention to all students of Blue Ink. This is Taketo Juushiro, speaking. The sound wave amplification already died down and I can confirm that it is safe to enter the school premises again.
I have to ask all of you to get all your things once you enter and leave immediately, as I am now suspending classes for today and tomorrow.
I will have to reiterate that the students' safety is our top priority. I ask all of you to immediately go home and don't wander around outdoors. That is all, and please act accordingly."
Fifteen minutes later…
"Hey, Gin. I'll give you a ride home just to ensure your and Ms. Ringo's safety."
It was only me, Tenth, Makoto, Rin and Akira that are present in the office. The whole school was so quiet that it's as if a strange occurrence didn't even happen. The whole school was very fine.
Tenth then started, "Well, I guess you have a lot of explaining to do, Gin."
"Then I'll gladly begin from the start.
The four of us—we were with Nagi and Shiro at that time when I noticed the amplification. I then rushed and made that broadcast.
I was supposed to help manage the students and go out of the school… but I saw someone on the rooftop, which was actually Teardrop.
I wasn't noticed, and hey… I've got souvenirs."
I took out all the seven knives with its covers that I had to hide all throughout my body.
Makoto reacted, "…! Those are high grade military knives! Did you get that from him?!"
"It seems that he's a knife man. Makoto, I of course have seen you on the move, and I can confirm that he's no joke of an assassin.
But aside from that, he got my leg."
"Yeah. I'm not very surprised that he got you."
"Hahaha. It's nice to hear that Rin isn't overestimating me much.
But I was more surprised with what happened to my leg when I got hit. It was kneed with pure strength and my leg muscles got seriously destroyed. But what's surprising is that the damage stopped after hitting the bone.
I felt my bones vibrating because it was a direct hit… but they didn't break."
"Could it be because of your Bone Regeneration?" Tenth inferred.
"Maybe? But my bones literally don't have any damage or are there signs that I regenerated. But I was sure that they took on the force of the ki-"
I was interrupted with a hypothesis coming from Rin.
"Gin…! Perhaps your bones got tougher after all of the damages in the past?"
"Oh… that may be the case. I'll look into that later.
But Makoto, I have some good and bad news for you."
"The good news is that I learned Teardrop's age range. But the bad news is that he's close to Makoto's age when he became an assassin."
"A-Another… child assassin…?!"
"How did you discover that, Potato?"
"He's naive. His insight is shallow to be called a veteran. He may have the skills, but he still lacks the wits.
Look here, how is he alive even with all the amplifications?"
"Precisely to what you're all thinking. He has protective earpieces too. It could have just come from other sources, but it's extremely unlikely since it looked exactly like our devices here in Blue Ink."
"Gin… are you implying that…"
"Yes, Akira. There is a high chance that a hitman is hiding between Blue Ink High students; just like how I, as an Exile is hiding between them."
I should have been more careful… It's not only Exiles that I encouraged to change their lives. There are also numerous humans that I encouraged. Of all the personnel of Blue Ink… five of them are former criminals that grew a new leaf.
One of them… died in the amplification nearly two years ago. And in the remaining four, one of them was a former member of a drug syndicate… which is probably that guy's target."
"What is it, Rin?"
As though the meeting was like a puzzle, Rin attempted to solve it piece by piece.
"Don't tell me…
Tenth, the personnel who died two years ago, what was his criminal record?"
"He was a leader of a big heist group here in Cotona."
"Tenth… you're really amazing to change people like them," Rin praised and continued. "Is it possible that he was also a target of assassination?"
"What do you mean?" of all the people, I was the one who asked.
"In hindsight, do you think that the Wave Amplification wasn't a phenomenon… but really man-made as hypothesized? The personnel died because he was caught in the waves which could be a plot to kill him… and now the technology to counter it was made. Coincidentally, or not, Teardrop appeared in the middle of the occurrence."
I was truly amazed that Rin deduced faster than I did.
"So you're saying that Wave Amplification was an artificial purpose for assassination which could be connected to Teardrop?"
"Potato, with this many factors, I'll just get a headache if I continue. Can I pass it to you?"
"Then let's see. There is the possibility of the incident being artificial, and then Teardrop appeared two years ago. He got a hold of the counter technology somehow perhaps here at Blue Ink to get a potential target which opens that he could be a student here.
Does this mean that he was somehow involved two years ago assuming that there is an artificial device that he implanted in the school since he can't personally make a move? And now that he can move because of the earpieces, he came to Blue Ink with the intent to do the killing since he knew that his target won't be affected."
"About his identity being a student, do you have clues?" asked Akira.
"I can't properly discern his voice since it was muffled with his mask. He's covered from top to bottom… have you seen a student with eyes full of rage?"
Immediately, Makoto spoke, "Yep. That guy sure is an amateur. If Gin saw his eyes like those, then he's really inexperienced. An assassin ought to close off his emotions when on the move. And he forgot to close the hole with the earpiece issue."
"One more thing, Makoto. We'll need assistance from Detective Juno with this.
He said that he has no time to kill those that 'he' failed to."
All of them caught on and so Tenth added, "Aside from Glen and the confrontation in the Square, Exiles haven't been a target of assassination. So what Gin is saying is that he could be involved with Horach."
"Tenth, I won't beat around the bush and let this issue last for many chapters so I'll say this now.
Teardrop may not be involved with HRCH as fellow killers, but emotionally related to him. I felt his anger… his wrath, rather. It was enough to put a chill on my spine. I felt the sense of grudge on his words.
I mentioned Juno to pull a request to investigate about Joseph Horach's family. You see, he might also be proficient with knives just like that guy.
Tenth, your opinion?"
"I'll leave this matter to Makoto, as I know his feelings about another young hitman. I'll be putting him in charge along with the help of Cotona PD while we think about the safety of my students.
Let's dismiss ourselves now."
~ ~ ~
I almost forgot that it is Wednesday today, and the Sakato family is the host. We decided to eat dinner in my yard. But it was still weird that Sis is not with us.
"My word… Take housed former criminals? Now I understand why Brother recommended him as the leader."
"And you know what, Uncle Shuu? Your daughter was an even greater help in our meeting than I was."
"Ohhh…! I'm proud to be her father!"
"I promise to keep her safe while this issue persists.
On the other hand, he might be related by blood with Horach."
"Ugh… that's scary. I'll have to warn Shiina, then."
"Thankfully, I wasn't that hurt. I can walk properly again."
"Son, from now on, use the defensive slacks you have."
"Pff… Dad! That's so weird to hear!
But Nii, what will you do if you were discovered to be wearing them?"
"Que sera, sera."
"What will Take do from this point forward?"
"Hmm… Now that the earpieces were proven to be useful, he will ask Exiles to do a thorough check if there are implanted devices of some sort. If it's underground, then they'll bring shovels.
I don't think he'll relocate from the school, but he will probably take the targets to our custody while we uncover the mystery of who among the students is Teardrop."
"He's fast as ever."
▪ ▪ ▪
Mykes Family Hospital—the hospital in Cerulean Street.
"I'm ••••• ••••••."
"Mr. ••••••, are you visiting Room 302 again?"
There is a man that regularly visits the said hospital, that most of the nurses and doctors already knew him.
Just as he was walking on the hallway, he was recognized by Dr. Kagetora.
"Oh, Mr. ••••••. Visiting your mother again, I see?"
"Mom, good evening."
"Good evening too, •••••."
"How are you doing?"
"Feeling better than ever. I heard the news. You shouldn't stay here for long. Teardrop is wandering around at night.
Did you come here from work?"
"I can't… I can't tell her that I'm Teardrop…"
"I think we can get you discharged soon. It was thanks to Dr. Kagetora for treating your disease."
"Yes… It's all thanks to him that I'm finally better after several years. Let's thank him properly soon."
And Mom… Please don't ever visit that man whatever the reason is. I don't want you to get hurt anymore."
▪ ▪ ▪
Sometime after the scene in the hospital, the man dressed up as his persona as Teardrop. He was seen standing in front of his long-term clients.
"It seems that you failed the last work."
"There was an inside interference."
"Well, that's fine. I'm sure the school will be cautious. Let's set that aside completely.
But since you did well with shaking up that school, I'll let you pick your next target."
"I see… since the idiot from a year ago failed to do a very simple thing, I'll go for HRCH's head."
"Hahahaha… Good idea! Put an end to that lunatic then!"
▪ ▪ ▪
The system of Blue Ink changed for the moment after the amplification occurred again, but the days in school still continued in only 3-4 hours instead of 7.
There was still no news regarding the person under investigation. But apparently, there was no sighting of him around Cotona after my encounter with him.
But just like how an Exile like me is walking between the many students, Teardrop could also be in hiding among them. He is now aware that there is at least one student that is a faceless, and if he is indeed a student too, he would be wary of it.
Amidst of all that uproar, it was not publicized that Teardrop was found as the issue of the amplification is enough to bring fear to the people. Even if it was told to the public, it will just become a baseless rumor as we are hiding the knives.
However, the waves amplified again. It brought forth a bit of panic inside the S1VA room but Mato was quick to his instructions.
"Class, stay calm! You know the drill, immediately get out of the school and go to White Street!"
At this point, those that know about Teardrop already expected that this will happen again. But it holds the question as to why it happened again even without the presence of the target.
If it is true that he was behind all of this, he will make a move. But even if he will not, we will.
"Potato…! Hurry up would you?!"
"Sorry! My phone got stuck in my bag! Alright, let's go!"
Starting from Rin shouting at me, all became according to keika- to plan.
The students are already coming out of the school at a steady pace while we were on the back of the crowd as we intended to do. All of their attention was to quickly get out from the vicinity.
But as we hit the open area before the school gates, Rin suddenly shouted.
"W-Wait…! There's an Exile!"
Rin pointed out to the old tree which caught the attention of the students. It was not an act that she saw one, because there is truly an Exile behind the three with its mask and the school uniform of Blue Ink.
There could be no two identical Gin Sakato, as I am making my way out along with the other students. It really has been a while since I saw Akira wear a school uniform. However…
It was the time when I once again felt the rage and hostility somewhere… and it was very close to where I am.
Having a speed that surpasses human ability is actually not an easy feat as I am not a mutant nor was I hit by a lightning. Meaning, I started with a fast physical body but a slow brain when I first left the Void.
Others do think that when you're fast, you can see the world in slow motion. For me at first, I only saw a blur. But after I balanced out the speed of how my brain processes, I kept up and controlled it.
Just like how it is right now. I am exerting my brain cells to interpret the environment in slow motion. But even I am impressed…
"I might seriously be at Mach speed…"
Setting aside my amazement, I focused on the students as they barely move. But the animosity is still felt.
Ahh… those eyes.
I came back to normal speed.
"Did you get something, Gin?" Rin whispered.
"Letting out his emotions too easily… I've found my first potential suspect."
That ends 040!
Ending with a cliffhanger and coming back after skipping another release day, but it will continue on just with more to come!
And also, cover's updating as usual.
Thank you for reading!
041: Honest talks over a heater on the winter days.
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