Chapter 43:

043.1 – Human.

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

As far as my knowledge, and am concerned, the definition of being or not being human is not restricted to one. There is what it means to be an actual human with human emotions, there's also being technically a human but not being one in title. That, they are the Exiles. Lastly, there are some that are human in title, but with no humanity or humane emotions. Basically, if one is not human in conduct, then there is the probability that you are not one in a sense.Bookmark here

But at least, I believe that losing your humanity is not an eternal thing. One could consider me: an empty and emotionless person, as someone not human. However, I am a proof that I can come back to being one.Bookmark here

But this is not about taking back that old treasure. Rather, finding in yourself if you actually have that treasure, perhaps… like a ring that you hold dear for the rest of your life? Maybe a ring that binds you to a person?Bookmark here

Sorry, for I am getting distracted.Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

032219.Bookmark here

At the tenth hour of the day, an unmasked Ryota entered the hospital for a visit to her mother at an unusual time.Bookmark here

"Ryota? Why are you visiting at this time? How about school?"Bookmark here

"My head was spinning that it was hard for me to walk when I woke up. But I'm fine now as you can see.Bookmark here

How about you, then?"Bookmark here

"I'm also doing fine since I'm not on my own."Bookmark here

"I understand that, but the hospital is awfully quiet and empty today…"Bookmark here

"But really… are high school students really fond of skipping classes?"Bookmark here

"Hmm? What do you mean?"Bookmark here

"Just now, Ringo, your classmate left before you visited. But in any case, she's a wonderful girl. She always keeps me company for a few days now."Bookmark here

"Ringo…? W-Why… is she here?"Bookmark here

"What's with the reaction? Surely you know about this. But wait, she never mentioned anything about you knowing that she is visiting."Bookmark here

"Mom… she supposedly doesn't know about your condition. How come…Bookmark here

When you said she left, you mean just right before I came here?"Bookmark here

"Yes…?"Bookmark here

"I'll be right back, Mom!"Bookmark here

If that is truly the case—that they happen to miss each other, Ryota should have seen her walk by the hallway as they are simply walking the same path towards the hospital room. And yet, he did not see Rin, nor her shadow.Bookmark here

In desperation of still trying to find her, he climbed the stairs to the hospital's rooftop and found a young woman leaning on the safety railings.Bookmark here

She turned her head, revealing that it was Rin which hasn't yet left the hospital itself. She however pulled her head back and continued gazing at the view.Bookmark here

"We haven't even talked a lot in school, so it is probably a surprise to you that I know about your mother."Bookmark here

"The only one who should know about this is Gin."Bookmark here

"No, even the principal knows.Bookmark here

Gin indeed told me, but he doesn't have any bad intentions for telling me. In fact, I am doing this on my own."Bookmark here

"Why… Why are you doing this, Ringo?"Bookmark here

"There ought to be nothing wrong with visiting a classmate's mother in the hospital, right?"Bookmark here

Rin thought that Ryota will raise his voice on her, but it did not happen.Bookmark here

"Don't joke around…"Bookmark here

"Really, I don't have any ulterior motives. When I learned about that, I really just wanted to visit her and have idle chats with her. Your mom is very nice and caring.Bookmark here

And I'm not so preposterous to tell her that you are Teardrop."Bookmark here

"Tsk…"Bookmark here

"I can't see a point in lying if someone heard you two talking on the open grounds. But one of my reasons to do this is because you are Gin's friend. Even if you try to reject it, Gin is trying to pull you out of your situation.Bookmark here

Even I know… that you're beating the red light."Bookmark here

"Even you… Ringo? What do you understand… You don't even understand anything…"Bookmark here

Finally finding out that her words were just passing through from Ryota's ear to another, Rin's blood, in rare cases, began to heat up.Bookmark here

"Yes. I don't understand a thing. But I at least got to know that it hurts that time and time again there is a feeling and sense of guilt.Bookmark here

Part of loving Gin is not just trying to understand him, but also to feel his pain. You say that we don't understand, even when Gin felt what it was like to end someone's life? He himself knows that he is not to blame for doing that in his situation… but it was still his hands that got stained.Bookmark here

Then I'm going to ask you too. Do you understand how much it hurts to know that he thinks that it is still his fault for killing someone… so much that Gin wanted to kill himself? Do you understand how much it hurts me to know that all of that happened because of me? Even I know that I wasn't to be blamed… but there is still the feeling that it was my fault that it happened to him!!"Bookmark here

Ryota was in awe, or rather, petrified to hear those words coming from a maiden that she never expected to know a piece of the reality of the world. Thus, he gradually stepped back.Bookmark here

"Then what did you feel when you killed those who tried to harm you and your mother when you were twelve? Did you not feel any guilt for doing that…? Don't tell me you're becoming like a cold-blooded killer just like your father?Bookmark here

If so…! What will you do now?! Are you going to stab me if you really have become one?"Bookmark here

Unable to process his emotions that suddenly turned to fear after hearing all of those, Ryota quickly ran back inside the hospital in dismay.Bookmark here

However, it was not Rin's intention to provoke Ryota. He knows to herself that she is not like Gin, and so she doesn't have the kind of mentality he has. Rin was caught up with her anger and said those things.Bookmark here

What was revolving in her mind was the thought that Ryota could only be thinking about himself, which was disguised by his reasons for his mother. Rin questioned Ryota's conviction as in his words earlier tells—"you don't even understand anything," it was as if he does not put others into consideration and selfishly voiced out the sufferings that he thinks that he is the only one in this world which is experiencing that.Bookmark here

However, she admits to herself that it was a naive approach of reality and calmed herself.Bookmark here

In the second half of the day, she attended school and the club.Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

‹Gin›Bookmark here

To the very end, Rin and I decided to also tell Nagi, Shiro and Jean about everything in a secure place.Bookmark here

"Well… it doesn't even surprise me that we will surely know those things at a later time." uttered Nagi.Bookmark here

"But to be honest, I do think that it was best if we just keep silent about it. Being targeted isn't very far-fetched… since I, the target is the one going to his radar."Bookmark here

Jean gave a hard slap on my back and said, "There's nothing we can do about that. All we can do is hope that you will come home again just like the time on the Square."Bookmark here

Then, a thought came to Shiro, "If you're telling me that he's Joseph Horach's son… it has been a year but you're still stuck with that family."Bookmark here

"Ahahahaha. I guess you're right.Bookmark here

Rin and I will be going home now." I then whispered, "There will be undercover police that will watch over you guys until you come home, just to be sure."Bookmark here

"Ahaha… I don't know what to think about that…"Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

Somehow the time flew fast as it is already the nineteenth hour, but I have a feeling that time will feel like staggering from this point forward.Bookmark here

"Potato… Are you sure he still doesn't know about you being that Exile?"Bookmark here

"I can't say for sure, but I'll get to see his looks again."Bookmark here

While I was wearing my "armor", Rin noticed something on my mask.Bookmark here

"Is it just me or your mask feel a bit flimsy?"Bookmark here

"Does it? But well, I'm always ready so I prepared a spare one."Bookmark here

"As if your masks will ever crack with a punch… You won't even get to use your spare, to be honest."Bookmark here

But aside from the mask talk, I'm actually not wearing the… let's just call it the 'anti-material fabric' or AMF? Anyways, I was talking about the usual AMF that the hundred Exiles used, but I won't be using that since what I am wearing is not a long suit but I guess something that looks like a blazer. It's just that the collar is that of a jacket which also covers my neck. It absorbs shock and the outfit is still all black.Bookmark here

"It's about time, so I should also be going too."Bookmark here

"You're going somewhere, Rin?"Bookmark here

"I haven't told you, but I'm actually visiting Ryota's mother for a few days now."Bookmark here

"Ehhh? I really didn't know. How is she?"Bookmark here

"She's getting better and more cheerful in my observation. Anyone would enjoy talking to her."Bookmark here

"Hmmm. I guess I'll also visit some time.Bookmark here

Well…! I guess we should go now and do our own things."Bookmark here

"Yep. This doesn't really do much… but can I ask, Gin?"Bookmark here

"You're already asking."Bookmark here

"Then, is it okay if I give you a kiss? I really wish for your safety, and for this," she nonchalantly asked me.Bookmark here

"Woah, Rin… I don't even think I can say that straight…"Bookmark here

"You know that I have a forehead-"Bookmark here

She wasn't even looking at me, and she still had that straight face. But I somehow got what she was thinking.Bookmark here

I then squatted very slightly and tilted my head a bit closer to her.Bookmark here

"Rin, just admit it. You just wanted to do this."Bookmark here

"Well, a little."Bookmark here

Her nonchalance scares me sometimes.Bookmark here

Nonetheless, she kissed me on my right cheek. Just so you know, we know for a fact that no doki doki or kyun kyun happened.Bookmark here

"Let's do our best with this, Gin. Really… please be safe."Bookmark here

"I will. I will, Rin. Since I have a place to come home to.Bookmark here

And please take care of her mother for the time being."Bookmark here

Thus, we parted ways under the nigh full moon.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

With what I have heard both from Rin and Detective Artecus, this could most likely be Teardrop's last job as an assassin. From Rin's story, Ryota's mother does not know about her son's identity and only knew about quitting his current job in this day.Bookmark here

And from Juno, he arrested someone from the underworld and confirmed that Teardrop is indeed working there. It was rumored that he will never come back down below after this.Bookmark here

Considering that he has some history with me as my Exile persona, I am also a target. But it is not me this time as it is probably because I wasn't traced.Bookmark here

Nevertheless, the location of his target is in a construction site, without the need of leaving Ginga. There seems to be no one in the site and it was dark. If there is someone here, I should have already heard it. We have come rather early, and so we were on standby.Bookmark here

By we, I mean myself, Makoto on a mask, the detective and his personal aide. It was a rare circumstance that we had to lend the two officers an AMF. Aside from me, they are wearing the usual long suits.Bookmark here

A few minutes after, sound of the footsteps was heard. The mask with a white teardrop illuminated from the far streetlights and left open lights on the site. He was quietly looking around in the dark, but saw none.Bookmark here

Standing still, he took out a knife and tossed it up, spinning in the air. He repeatedly made the same actions while still looking around.Bookmark here

He tossed it up again, but not in an upright throw but in a projectile angle. As the knife reached the apex in the air, he immediately took out another knife and this time, he threw the knife towards the other one in the air with force.Bookmark here

"…!"Bookmark here

The second knife bounced away and to my surprise, it directed towards me precisely. Nearly being hit, I had to jump down from where I was and he found me.Bookmark here

"Don't get me wrong, Teardrop… I never intended to fight in the first place. Actually, I have no purpose to do that. I just don't want to hear the slow trickle again.Bookmark here

But then again… I can't see your face but I can feel your animosity."Bookmark here

In between his fingers came several knives that he pitched directly towards where I am. It was a total of eight knives that I had to evade in the dark. After getting up from crouching, I saw him gesture a pulling action from the air, but it was too late for me to notice that the knives are actually connected to strings.Bookmark here

The knives that passed through me came back from behind. If I was not wearing an AMF, I would have been slashed several times on my limbs. Before it came back to him, I managed to catch a knife and thankfully cut the strands amidst the invisibility.Bookmark here

But it was a decoy.Bookmark here

He disappeared from where he was and sneaked above me with two blades on both hands.Bookmark here

He had figured out a weakness from the defense system of Exiles. Our head is a weak point. I was not fast enough to block from above.Bookmark here

But suddenly, he had to dodge a speeding pole that nearly hit him.Bookmark here

"I owe you one, detective."Bookmark here

He whispered, "Makoto and my assistant is collecting the knives. I plan to disarm him.Bookmark here

But seriously, you should have prepared for that. Of all people, you were the one that almost got done in by that."Bookmark here

"At least, Teardrop learned the lesson. 'You should have gone for the head.'"Bookmark here

"Heh. Are you going to watch the movie next month?"Bookmark here

"You bet."Bookmark here

From the back of my collar, the fabric expanded and covered my head with a hood.Bookmark here

"I just haven't had a warm-up so I was a bit too slow.Bookmark here

Watch out!"Bookmark here

Dozens of knives flew up with another wave bouncing down to us. I then pushed Juno away from the knives and caught another one and snapped the string of it while parrying the many other blades. I tossed it to Juno and caught it without fail while he was down on his back.Bookmark here

"Now help me cut those."Bookmark here

I don't know what was going on in Ryota's head, but it looks like he already exposed his cards. But I would be lying if I said that I wasn't surprised. Back in the rooftop, his approach was very direct. Had he used that back then, my uniform would surely turn red.Bookmark here

Makoto then regrouped with the two of us, leaving Juno's aide to the collection alone.Bookmark here

"Just how much does he have?"Bookmark here

"Let's watch each other's backs but don't stick too close. He can tie us if we're in close proximity," I suggested.Bookmark here

Another wave of knives flew up. It's just… to say that over fifty of them is few is an understatement. The blades lined up in a circle that covers all the directions, surrounding us.Bookmark here

"No, seriously. Just how much knives does this guy have?!"Bookmark here

"Can you settle down, (Makoto)?!"Bookmark here

"For now, try and nab a knife for you to cut the strings while I try to block the knives."Bookmark here

A knife technique like that is actually very effective, just with the catch that you are going to make a huge mess. If he is going to use over fifty knives at first, then it will total up to more than a hundred for the second wave. It is not a waste of materials if he fully utilizes the use of strings, but there is a problem that he may or may not have foreseen.Bookmark here

After the knives rose to the apex, the omnidirectional barrage of knives rained down. With the AMF, I am least confident to say that there will most likely be no casualties on us. With that in mind, I tried to keep up, or overtake the speed of the falling knives. I shouldn't be, but I'm actually amazed with the scene of the knives in slow motion while parrying them one by one.Bookmark here

Regarding the problem that Ryota might not have seen, I'm not good at physics but I will try to explain. While I am blocking the knives, the velocity is interfered which could make it hard to control the back and forth one-directional movement. Moreover, the force is disturbed which will make it difficult to pull. And lastly, there is the possibility of the strings tangling up.Bookmark here

※ This is a work of fiction.Bookmark here

After coming back to real time, the other two caught on with what just happened. As if following a rhythm, they somehow gracefully cut the visible cords, leaving a pair of it that they then took grasp and pulled which got Ryota caught on the force.Bookmark here

I had to step really far back since I don't want anything to happen to him, although I really want to apologize for this. With my open palm, I strongly pushed the air and made a gust of wind, just like how I did before. It was not as strong as before, though. The proof is that Juno and Makoto weren't blown away by it, but Ryota was caught. Weird as it is, a weaker gust somehow nearly ripped his mask… or it may just be because he was hit on the head.Bookmark here

"Teardrop. I've heard that this is your final job, which then failed. I don't know where your original target is, but surely you are also targeting me.Bookmark here

But why? Why do you have to kill me? At this point… taking my life has no merit or gain anymore."Bookmark here

"I don't care… Just shut up for good!!!"Bookmark here

Fueled by baseless anger, he screamed down to his throat. He then took out something on his pocket. It was not visible since it was still very dark. But a single clicking sound passed through our ears.Bookmark here

And just like that…Bookmark here

BOOM————Bookmark here

A light suddenly shone behind us and a deafening sound of explosion came. We turned around, seeing the support and the foot of the crane flying out and about everywhere. In no time, the crane itself began to gravitate down.Bookmark here

"Good grief… If that falls it will also take down the houses near here."Bookmark here

"Aaaggghhh… This is a problem. Gin, Juno, what do we do nex-Bookmark here

Ack—!!"Bookmark here

Without notice, I kicked Makoto just below his rib cage and sent him away to the street.Bookmark here

"What's the big idea, Gin?!" Juno exclaimed angrily.Bookmark here

"I'll be honest, you will just be a burden if I see you guys get caught up with the destruction! I'm sorry but I have to do this…!"Bookmark here

"Guu…!"Bookmark here

After doing the same thing to Juno, I quickly ran towards his aide to grab his arm and threw him to where the other two are. The street where I sent them was far enough to the site if ever the crane fell down.Bookmark here

I was however too slow in taking them away. The crane was nearly going to hit the ground level in approximately 12 meters.Bookmark here

"Crap… I don't know how long before it falls down. Agh, screw it!"Bookmark here

I didn't even care on how fast I had to cover my distance to the falling crane. My heart thumped hard while my cold sweat poured down to my cheek. I was thinking… maybe I can't make it in time? If so, then the crane will fall to the roofs of the houses, leaving destruction as the flames engulf the area. It was hard to stay optimistic in even a split second. I was in panic as I ran… and I then became really scared of what could happen. But… it was more like I was scared of it happening.Bookmark here

(!)Bookmark here

"Ahh.Bookmark here

This feeling… it's just like the time with the C4…"Bookmark here

Bookmark here

A loud explosion-like sound echoed as the crane fell horizontal, leaving a tall cloud of dust.Bookmark here

In front of the flames, Teardrop stood gasping while holding to his arm that got caught from the debris. Right as he stood, a metal shrapnel is still stuck on his left arm.Bookmark here

He slowly walked in the dark while pulling out his phone from his pocket and made a call after catching his breath.Bookmark here

"H-Hello, Mom…?"Bookmark here

"Oh, son? Are you finished with work?"Bookmark here

"…I think so."Bookmark here

"Hmm? Are going to visit here after you're done there?"Bookmark here

"Mom… There's something that I want to… that I have to tell you…"Bookmark here

"What is it?"Bookmark here

"I… I don't think I can ever show myself in front of you. Mom, I'm sorry… I'm sorry for not telling you… But my job is actually assassination…Bookmark here

Mom, I am actually Teardrop…"Bookmark here

A sound came from the line, like the phone suddenly fell off. A panicking voice of Rin was then suddenly heard.Bookmark here

"Mom?! Mom, what happened?! Are you still there?! Mom…!"Bookmark here

"M-Ma'am?! Ma'am, are you okay?! Hang in there…Bookmark here

Nurse! Doctor! A patient-"Bookmark here

*beep beep beep*Bookmark here

"N-No… Please don't… No… No…Bookmark here

…!"Bookmark here

His attention was immediately caught not just by the sound, but also by the sight. In front of the illuminated smoke, he could see the silhouette of the crane slowly bending upwards, as though forming an angle. And just beside the "vertex" was a man standing still who was wearing a cracked white mask.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

I was too scared, but even I did underestimate my own abilities. I took the hundred times of gravity too easily and disregarded it. I was surprised to see myself catch the crane itself on my hands, but I was more surprised to see myself under the crane when what I remembered last was still when I was a little far from here.Bookmark here

"Ahh. I closed my eyes…"Bookmark here

However, I noticed a crack from my mask.Bookmark here

"Hmm. Of course this would happen."Bookmark here

Most of the construction site was not damaged, and most of it is still engulfed in darkness, which made it easy to find an emphasis of light coming from a phone. I found myself standing on rubble after securing that the crane will not fall anymore. In the distance, I saw the other three running back to the site, while there is also the view of houses… that are still untouched.Bookmark here

"Safe…!!"Bookmark here

However, the noise already caught attention and residents from the neighborhood started coming out.Bookmark here

I jumped down from the mess, but when I was about to land, I saw Ryota charging forward with not a gaze of rage, but sadness and terror. He held a knife on his left hand, while his right only contained its fist. He followed with attacks that lost its quality, and seemed to be just out of desperation.Bookmark here

"Why… Just die already… Just disappear already!!"Bookmark here

None of his attacks connected, but his pained expression had become clear.Bookmark here

"So you're running out of time."Bookmark here

I dropped my arms and opened all of my guard. He saw it as an opportunity, and lifted his right fist that then collided to my face, breaking my mask.Bookmark here

I just remembered something…Bookmark here

"Rin may not be the kindest person in the world, but she was plenty kind anyway.Bookmark here

But I know to myself that I am not as kind as her."Bookmark here

The mask indeed broke. But it was not something that could make me shocked. Originally, the mask has the same properties as the AMF. Heck, it can even ricochet a bullet at point blank.Bookmark here

But… I'm only wearing an ordinary glass mask all this time. That is why Ryota easily broke it…Bookmark here

…while his will also breaks in agony.Bookmark here

In front of him, he saw not an Exile, but Gin Sakato. The moment my face caught his eyes, his strength dropped.Bookmark here

"You know… I was about to climb on the metal bars since you're scared of heights…" from an inside pocket, I took out a spare mask and wore it. This time, it was a real one.Bookmark here

Behind me came Juno and Makoto walking towards where Ryota and I are at, while I am looking at him as he slowly fell to his knees.Bookmark here

Even before seeing myself as Gin, he was already in pain. But more pain was inflicted after. It might have struck him that he himself did not follow his principle, as he himself told me that he considered me as a friend, and that he said that he would not kill me.Bookmark here

I am honest that this was not a very kind way of opening to him, but there was nothing that I can do if he did not have any intention to listen.Bookmark here

"I was the one that you encountered in the rooftop. The Exile you saw in our classroom was an Exile that I asked to disguise to look like me. But this time, I really am the Exile that you encountered, and encountered your father last year.Bookmark here

I had to do this since you were starting to become like Horach. If the crane that you bombed really fell, it would cost the lives of innocents."Bookmark here

As I was talking, his phone rang with the number of his mother.Bookmark here

"Hello, Mom?! Are you okay?!"Bookmark here

"Ryota, is this you?! You need to come here quickly! Your mother is still unconscious!"Bookmark here

"What?! What really happened?! Hello? Hello?!"Bookmark here

The called ended.Bookmark here

"Was that Rin on the line?Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Please calm down, Ryota. I asked for an overview of your mother's condition from Doctor Kagetora. He said that he successfully eliminated all the virus in her constitution. Perhaps you finally told her about Teardrop, and may be in state of shock.Bookmark here

I will accompany you to the hospital once all of this is over. But please… hear me out for a bit.Bookmark here

There is a simple reason as to why I came here. I wanted to save you from this hell. I have already felt it, even if once. I was five years old… I was out of my mind when I killed someone. Repeatedly, people have said that it wasn't my fault, but how can I accept that when I myself saw what I did? That is why… I wanted to save you from what became of me and your father—a monster.Bookmark here

And the other reason for me to save you is because of a foreseen possibility. You should know. The underworld is a very dangerous… place…"Bookmark here

Right in front of my face, a bomb fell from above. In the nick of time while it was still on the height of my head, I kicked away Ryota before the bomb exploded. I managed to distance myself by at least a meter, and the bomb exploded.Bookmark here

However, the AMF is truly serving its good purpose. The least that the impact did was blow me slightly and stopped just beside Juno and Makoto.Bookmark here

"Oi, Gin… You took that impact directly. You okay there?" asked Juno.Bookmark here

"Not a dent."Bookmark here

"Juno, Gin… This is it. People from underworld finally surfaced…"Bookmark here

From everywhere, people armed with heavy artillery suddenly popped out. To my count, there are at least thirteen.Bookmark here

"Makoto… I hope that you didn't forget the spare mask I had to make for us."Bookmark here

"I should be asking you that. But I do."Bookmark here

"Better change then. And lend me a spare long suit."Bookmark here

"Huh? For what?"Bookmark here

"Just hurry up!"Bookmark here

Bookmark here

"Oi… kid. Do you really think your client will really just let you go like that? Of course not."Bookmark here

"Look at you now! Like a bird that got his wings wounded… now you can't fly! Hahahahaha…!!"Bookmark here

In no time, the underworlders surrounded Ryota who Gin sent flying. When the bandits pointed the noses of their firearms…Bookmark here

Ryota had accepted his pending death.Bookmark here

"Mom… I'm sorry… But this is where it will all end…"Bookmark here

In a split second that the gunfire had begun, Gin suddenly appeared in front of Ryota, holding a long suit upwards, making the bullets bounce up.Bookmark here

"Thank goodness even those bandits weren't hit."Bookmark here

In his vision what he saw as I turned around was a jet black mask that reflected the fright on his face. I then placed the long suit on Ryota's shoulders and took his arm to my shoulder.Bookmark here

"Hang in there, Ryota. This will be a little shaky but keep up with it."Bookmark here

In another split second, my vision was directed towards the underworlders before, and now in a different spot after, not just with my sight, but with my feet.Bookmark here

"We have to run for it!"Bookmark here

"You and (Makoto) can go ahead! I'll take care of these guys!Bookmark here

And I'll be sure to return the long suits!"Bookmark here

As per an authority's instruction, we fled from the area and ran with Ryota.Bookmark here

"What in the world was that, Gin?! You weren't moving like that earlier!"Bookmark here

"That… I finally did it after trying to figure it out. YEAH…!"Bookmark here

Actually, I have already done it two times. The first was just before Ryota got shot, and the second was when we had to escape being surrounded.Bookmark here

What I did was grasping the earth and kicking it while imagining a flicker. I have finally executed a Step that I learned from the ninja from that time in Kyoto, and it worked well.Bookmark here

No, not two times… I'm just realizing that I did it to get under the crane. But my eyes were closed. I was still astonished, however. Literally in one blink, I changed positions but my range was still not very far. But I figured that if I repeatedly did it right…Bookmark here

"Sorry, Makoto. But I really have to go ahead of you. I'll be going to the hospital now!"Bookmark here

"Alright, see you!Bookmark here

So fast!"Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

Meanwhile on the construction site, it was beyond help to recover all of Teardrop's weapons. The bandits were confused that Teardrop suddenly vanished with what they thought to be Exiles, but two people with black masks instead of white.Bookmark here

"Detective, backup is on their way," Juno's aide oriented him.Bookmark here

"That's good, then. How many do you have of that?"Bookmark here

"I think… I have three."Bookmark here

"I have seven. That's more than enough."Bookmark here

"Wait, detective?! What are you going to do with them?!"Bookmark here

"Alright. Let's split five and five. Make sure you don't miss."Bookmark here

"W-W-What?!"Bookmark here

After taking a deep breath, Juno let out a loud scream.Bookmark here

"This is Cotona PD! You are all under arrest!"Bookmark here

Thereafter, the detective and his assistant released ten stun grenades, as the bandits originally grouped in one when they were about to shoot Ryota. In a matter of three seconds, the smoke cleared leaving the armed ones falling flat to the ground.Bookmark here

"I think we overdid it, detective…"Bookmark here

"Well… At least the Exiles won't scold me since we didn't really injure them."Bookmark here

The echoing sirens then became louder, and the armed policemen finally made their entrance.Bookmark here

"Detective Artecus, how's the situation?"Bookmark here

"We're about to clean up. I'll have my detailed statement with the president because I took the liberty and permitted the Exiles to have Teardrop."Bookmark here

"Hahh… Please stop making more problems, detective…Bookmark here

By the way, I saw something hanging on the metal bars. Have you seen that already?"Bookmark here

On the supporting bars, a subtle red light continued to dangle in the dark. It was not long until something fell… and a beeping sound was heard.Bookmark here

"I-I think that's a bomb…" Juno's aide stepped back upon seeing what had fallen. He however tripped on something on the floor, which looked like a gas bomb.Bookmark here

It was released, leaving Juno and the other policemen affected with a vertiginous feeling.Bookmark here

The detective attempted to distance himself along with his men away from the site and shouted while swaying around.Bookmark here

"B-Bail out…! This place is about to go down!"Bookmark here

It was a race of time, but the police managed to get away from the area. Thankfully enough, the site itself is still far from the residential areas, thought Juno.Bookmark here

Starting from below the skeleton of the building to the top, bombs exploded one by one demolishing the whole place.Bookmark here

The bent crane however survived.Bookmark here

~ ~ ~Bookmark here

"Doc, what's Ms. Miharu's condition?!"Bookmark here

"Thank goodness it wasn't anything serious. Say, Ms. Ringo, what made her come to a state of shock?"Bookmark here

"That's…"Bookmark here

"Anyway, you can enter the room now."Bookmark here

The tension in the hospital room has finally disappeared. There were still nurses inside, but Miharu was sleeping on the hospital bed. Doctor Kagetora then instructed the nurses to leave while he remained watching over the patient.Bookmark here

Fifteen second later…Bookmark here

The people appeared out of nowhere in the room. Gin and Ryota landed badly on the floor while the former rolled over and hit his back on the wall. He was careful enough to remove his mask in time before being seen.Bookmark here

"Gin?! H-Hey, are you alright?!"Bookmark here

"Ah… Hi, Rin… Hah… Hah… Hah… This has been… Hah… The most exhausted I have been…!"Bookmark here

"And my back hit a wall for the second time in my life, for crying out loud!"Bookmark here

"What happened to your face?"Bookmark here

"Ahh… Life is hard. I got punched by that guy that broke my mask."Bookmark here

"Wait, your mask broke?!"Bookmark here

"The one that you called flimsy was actually just ordinary glass… I got cut by the shards. Well, I'm in a hospital so there's no problem with that.Bookmark here

Anyway… we should be worrying about Ryota."Bookmark here

Ryota regained his consciousness and found himself in a hospital room. His whole body jerked up and suddenly found her unconscious mother.Bookmark here

"Mom…?! A-Are… Is she okay?!"Bookmark here

"She just collapsed from shock, Mr. Mizuno. This has nothing relating to her illness. She's fully cured from it."Bookmark here

"Heh. He's not one of the best doctors of this country for nothing."Bookmark here

From her slumber, Miharu finally awakened and opened her eyes with his son bawling out over her.Bookmark here

"I'm sorry…! I'm sorry for everything…! I was wrong with everything… I was just selfish!!"Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

Ryota… No… You are not like him… You're never like your father…"Bookmark here

Bookmark here

"Doc, Rin. Let's leave those two alone for the time being."Bookmark here

"Ah- yeah. Let me treat those wounds too."Bookmark here

The three of us then relocated to his office after Kagetora had taken a look on Ryota's condition.Bookmark here

"How did you and Mr. Mizuno got this wounded, 027? He was bleeding on his arm from a deep wound."Bookmark here

"That…Bookmark here

When things went 'Boom!' and 'Kablam!' a metal shrapnel got on his arm. When I was on the way here, I think the shrapnel flew off. He probably lost a bit of blood."Bookmark here

My stupid explanation was intentional.Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

What in the world really happened, 027?!"Bookmark here

"Hmm… You may honestly not understand if I try to tell you so let's just leave it like that."Bookmark here

Suddenly, the television of his office caught our attention.Bookmark here

"Breaking news. A huge explosion just happened in a construction site in Ginga, Cotona a few minutes ago. We'll be transferring to the reporter who is currently on the area. Hugo?”Bookmark here

"Yes, Mike. I'm currently with Detective Juno Artecus with his statement regarding the situation."Bookmark here

"Good evening to everyone who is watching. My team was actually having an encounter with thirteen bandits that came from the so-called 'Underworld.' We managed to immobilize them, but what we believed to be bombs that they planted exploded which they got caught into."Bookmark here

"Another question, detective. How did the crane bent, or folded like that?"Bookmark here

"The crane fell due to a prior explosion but I actually do not know how it bent like that. We had to distance ourselves or we would have gotten caught with the impact.Bookmark here

I did not see how the crane bent, but if it fell flat, it would take down the houses. We are very thankful that it did not."Bookmark here

"Then thank you, detective."Bookmark here

He was omitting, but was telling the truth.Bookmark here

"You did that, didn't you, Potato? Was it heavy?"Bookmark here

"A bit. But it's a good thing that I didn't need a leverage to bend it. I honestly didn't believe that I carried it."Bookmark here

"Seriously, 027! What did you do?!"Bookmark here

Dr. Kagetora was ignored.Bookmark here

"And what's you with earlier?! How did you appear like that?" Rin exclaimed.Bookmark here

I whispered, "I did a Step. The one that the ninja thought me."Bookmark here

"You seriously did it?! Wow…Bookmark here

Bookmark here

How did you suddenly perform that? Was that because of the kiss?" Rin snickered.Bookmark here

"Hahh… I don't even know anymore."Bookmark here

Finally, Rishou Kagetora realized that 027 is not the 027 that he knew before.Bookmark here

"Do you want to join me, Potato? I'll go visit Ryota.Bookmark here

I have something to say to him."Bookmark here

"You heard him, Doc. We'll visit him."Bookmark here

"Let me come with-"Bookmark here

The tone of Rin's voice was angry, and she was smiling scarily.Bookmark here

"Doc, it's better if you don't see this."Bookmark here

"…! A-Alright…?"Bookmark here

Inside the room, Rin and Ryota were standing face to face while he can't even see Rin directly. His face was painted with guilt.Bookmark here

But I have witnessed a rare event. The first time it happened, I didn't know how it looked like since it was from my perspective. But seeing this now made my skin crawl endlessly.Bookmark here

No, what happened to me was not as strong as this… How did Rin knock Ryota down with a slap?!Bookmark here

Jokes aside, Ryota maintained the pained expression and sorry eyes. Still, he wasn't able to see us on our eyes.Bookmark here

"Gin nearly died last year… but I did not abandon him just to satisfy my selfishness."Bookmark here

"…Bookmark here

I understand now, Ringo… I am very sorry…"Bookmark here

"Rin, what just… happened…?"Bookmark here

"I just gave him what he deserved."Bookmark here

"Eh?"Bookmark here

Eh?Bookmark here

Rin?Bookmark here

Rin-san?!Bookmark here


Chapter Message:Bookmark here

You've finished the first part of 043!Bookmark here

It's another long one, but it is a parallel to chapter 31 of NoFutsuu. At least it did the manuscript didn't go as far as 30 pages.Bookmark here

Thank you for reading!Bookmark here

NextBookmark here

043.2: Why yes, I'm proud that my sister is graduating.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.