Saturday, January 27, 2018

Gate - Thus the JSDF Fought There! Volume 10 Chapter 8

Translator: Nigel
Editor:Deus Ex Machina

Metmes and Meia were dumped into the corner of an abandoned storehouse, stunned from their rough treatment and because they had no idea what they had done to deserve it.
“What, what are you trying to do?” Metmes asked. But Ling and the others did not understand him.
Metmes turned a pleading look at Meia. “Diabo-denka says he’s afraid but he wants to know what’s going on. He said it, I’m just translating, so please don’t get angry,” Meia translated for Ling.
“Tell him this. We have come to the Special Region to collect the Jade Wall from his Highness.”
“...Nya? Jade Wall?”
“Tell him exactly what I just said.”
However, Meia had a hurt look on her face
Meia talked to JSDF personnel everyday while working at the PX, so she was considered very skilled in Japanese among the ALC. However, she did not know what a “Jade Wall” was. Immediately after that, Ling picked up on it as well. She could speak the Beijing dialect, Cantonese, some regional dialects, Japanese, English and many other languages. Ling had gone through a lot of hardship to learn those languages, so she deeply understood how Meia felt.
“The Jade Wall is a girl called Lelei.”
“Nya!? Lelei-san?”
“Yes, now hurry up and tell him!”
Meia translated for Ling. Metmes, who had been afraid all this time, finally understood the situation, and he nodded heavily in relief.
“Mm, you must be from China, then? We were worried because communications were cut off halfway.”
“That was our fault, and we wish to apologize for that. However, you violated our agreement, so we were forced to take such drastic action.”
“That could not be helped either. After all, there’s no guarantee that you would actually follow through with your end of the bargain. We had to take care of ourselves too. However, since you’ve come here, I trust his Highness will also go ahead with the deal. Where is the army?”
“Unfortunately, we did not bring an army with us.”
“His Highness should have made it clear that he was trading Lelei-san for the right to command an army.”
“Give Lelei-san to us first.”
Meia was confused by this exchange.  It was far beyond her ability to comprehend.
There was talk about an army, about handing over Lelei, and then there was how this man who ought to have been Diabo was talking like he was not Diabo. Filled with shock, Meia drifted away from her own job as a translator and asked her own questions.
“Hang on ~nya. We put Lelei-san in a box and sent her over to the other side because you said you were going to protect her ~nya! What’s going on ~nya!?”
Ling shook her head and replied:
“There was only a staff in the box. Alright, now tell him what I said.”
“How, how could this be ~nya!? What’s going on ~nya!?”
Meia looked to Metmes for answers, pleading with her eyes. Under the questioning gazes of both Ling and Meia, Metmes first answered Meia’s question.
“This has nothing to do with you. All this is part of his Highness’ grand schemes.”
“Of course it has something to do with me! I helped, didn’t I? I helped the prince-sama with his plan because I believed that would protect Lelei-san ~nya! But that’s not what they’re saying at all ~nya!”
Ling’s anger built as they spoke between themselves in a language she did not understand. She grabbed Meia by the hair and jerked her head over to face her.
“That’s enough out of you, you mouthy cat. I’m not here to talk to you. I’m here because I have business with the prince-sama over here. If you can’t carry out your job as a translator, I’ll break you and throw you away! After all, if you’re broken, we just need to get a new one!”
But Meia bore against the pain and glared at Ling.
“Who are you calling prince-sama ~nya?  Didn’t you notice this man’s been talking like it was none of his business since just now ~nya? I faithfully translated what he said ~nya.”
“What do you mean? In other words―”
“This man must be a double for Diabo-denka ~nya.”
“Say what!?”
Ling furiously tossed Meia aside, and this time she grabbed Metmes by the lapels.
“You dare lie to me!?”
However, Metmes had not expected to be treated harshly, so he cast her hand aside with all his strength. Ling’s companions looked around to see if anyone came, and they angrily said:
“Ling, what should we do? Shall we go back and get the other Diabo?”
“Our mission is to obtain the Jade Wall. We don’t need Diabo for that. Anyone will do as long as they can give up the Jade Wall’s location.”
Ling approached Metmes again. She slapped him across the face, then spoke in a threatening tone to the frightened man. “Hey, asshole. Where’s the Jade Wall? If you know, show us the way. Don’t play dumb. That’s because people who don’t know the Jade Wall’s location are all useless to us. We break useless things and throw them away. Do you understand? Break and throw!”
Alright, now tell him ― after being threatened by Ling. Meia nervously asked, “Where is she ~nya?”
Metmes understood that “break and throw” was related to “killing”, and she was trapped between loyalty and fear.
“I, I know. But I can’t tell you.”
However, that only served to incense Ling and the others.
“Maybe a bit of pain will loosen your tongue.”
Perhaps they felt that there was no need to restrain themselves because he was not the Prince himself, or perhaps it was because they were angry at having wasted their effort, but Metmes was beaten black and blue by the women.
Ling and the others had received unarmed combat training. They knew exactly which parts on the body would cause intense pain but not cause any lethal damage. Thus, the attendant of the Empire’s second prince became the demonstrator for what they had learned in the field of tormenting the human frame
“Alright, answer me… where is the Jade Wall? I’ll tell you this ahead of time; if you don’t know, I’ll ask his Highness directly.”
Metmes turned to Meia, who was in charge of translation, and spoke slowly and carefully so the pain of his broken molars and the cuts on the insides of his cheeks would not affect his words.
“I don’t think you can do that. There are too many eyes in the cantina; how will you capture his Highness? There’s no way you can do it, is there?”
“There’s no need to seize him. All we have to do is say that we’ve brought the army he wants, and the prince-sama will come over of his own accord. After all, he dearly desires that army.”
“His Highness won’t be fooled by these words. I trust you’re not going to say that the six of you are the army in question?”
“Then I’ll say we’re part of the army. He won’t mind talking to us if we tell him that the Japanese have heavily fortified the Gate and are deadlocked with the rest of us. Surely he’ll accept an explanation like that, no? Then once we get him somewhere deserted, we’ll be able to deal with him. I don’t think Diabo can hold out as long as you, can he?”
Upon hearing this, Metmes’ heart crumbled.
People would not be able to remain stubborn once they realised their effort was in vain. Perhaps Ling had sensed this, but she hmphed in triumph and continued:
“Now give us the location of the Jade Wall and save us some trouble.”
Metmes answered her.
But Meia kept Metmes from replying. If Metmes was telling the truth, then Lelei might end up being taken away by them ― that was what Meia said after giving Metmes Ling’s message.
“If you tell them where Lelei is, I’ll kill you ~nya.  If you don’t want that, then keep quiet ~nya.”
“No, you can’t. All we can do is tell them the truth. Otherwise, it’ll be his Highness who will suffer next time round. He’s a prince of the Empire. He mustn’t be treated that way. And I’m certain it won’t be you doing the translating next time. These women don’t give a damn about our lives. Same goes for you, you know? So please, tell them the truth.”
We’ll both be killed here if we don’t tell them the truth, Metmes warned her.
But Meia bit her lip hard, her tears flowing as she shook her head.
“I can’t let them have Lelei-san, even if I die ~nya. I wouldn’t have ended up like this if you hadn’t tricked me ~nya.”
“Why’s a mere demihuman like you talking so big? This is better than his Highness being tortured, no? Fine, now tell them what I said. Tell them I’ll guide them to what they want.”
But what Meia told them was, “This man doesn’t want to take you to Lelei-san ~nya.”
And so Ling slowly brutalized Metmes.
Metmes wailed in despair at this unexpected violence which had thoroughly crushed his pride. He had a pathetic, dumbfounded look on his face. Then, he turned to Ling, who was holding his collar, and nodded vigorously.
He was trying to show that he was truly willing to accede to their request, and Ling and the others successfully understood his message.
His words and his attitude did not match up. Clearly, one of them was in error. Sensing this, Ling punched Meia.
“Bitch, you lied to us!”
Ling released Metmes’ collar, and without support, he sank to the ground.
He was crucial for leading them to the Jade Wall. Everyone’s eyes went to Metmes. Meia seized the chance and jumped high up.
After leaping up, Meia backflipped through the air and landed on the warehouse rafters above them, on all fours like a cat. Then she ran off, like a pantheress.
Ling and the others were stunned by this display of a feline demihuman’s agility.
As a feline demihuman, she was born with athletic ability that human beings could never attain no matter how hard they trained. Her speed was like that of a ferocious carnivore. No, in truth, the feline demihumans’ ancestors were savage feline predators.
Meia ran along the eaves before dropping to the ground.
Ling and the others tossed their knives at her back. Almost all of them missed or were evaded. Only one knife hit her back. However, it was not a fatal wound. Meia fearlessly vanished from Ling’s sight.
“Dammit, that fucking cat! Does she want to tell everyone about us? Ling, what should we do? Should we give chase?”
The trail of scattered bloodstains which Meia had left led to the cantina. They would not be able to catch up with her now even if they gave chase.
Ling went through the list of actions they ought to be taking and chose the most appropriate one.
“No, there’s no time for that. Let’s go recover the Jade Wall.”

Just then, Diabo was delivering a speech to the townsfolk.
He used the verbal skills he had honed in the Senate to turn the people of Arnus Town into his supporters.
“Everyone, listen to me. I feel the Gate is an indispensable part of this town. That’s because we can’t hope to live like this once the Gate is gone. Recently, I too have taken residence in this town. It is truly a wonderful town. Everyone is full of life. Has anyone here ever lived in the Imperial Capital? It is a cruel place. The men bow and scrape as the whims of their superior dictate, and there is no pride in their hearts. The women are ugly beings that daub themselves in thick paints and tryst with men while speaking ill of their friends behind their backs. The slaves who work are always tired and weak. The security is terrible; the very beggars can be robbed on the streets. Even the Imperial Capital is in such a state; surely there is no need to look at the rest of the Empire. So why is it that you ladies and gentlemen can all bear smiling faces? Your faces glow. You enjoy life. And then I realized the reason for that. That is because you have hope for tomorrow, for the future. The foundation of that hope is the Gate. Therefore, we cannot abandon it, no matter the reason. That’s because abandoning the Gate will mean going back to your previous life of sadness and misery.”
The head chef shouted, “That’s right!” and everyone began paying closer attention to Diabo’s words.
“Surely people who are used to living well will not understand that. I will not lie to you ― previously, I was one of those people. I was chased and harried in the Imperial Capital, and at great length I managed to secrete myself into this town to preserve my life. I first stumbled upon it as I thought about how to protect this town. Yes, they don’t understand how important it is. Those who are satisfied will say that this was only for a while. But they do not know how much you have suffered and how much despair you have endured for the sake of that ‘while’! I can no longer watch in silence. See how the monsters rage now while the soldiers of Japan concern themselves solely with retreat. This must surely be Zorzal’s doing. Do not be mistaken. The Japanese army has defended this place so passionately until now, so there must surely be an equally compelling reason for this sudden retreat. I am sure they do not intend to desert you. But this is too fast! It cannot stand!”
Diabo’s speech seized the heart of the audience.
He sounded very rational, but in truth he was appealing to their emotions. He played on their pride and cleverly rationalized away their selfish desires.
“Therefore, I have been thinking. Now is the time for you to raise your voices. Now is the time for you to take action. You must shout, ‘Please wait, don’t close the Gate, no, don’t go’. This is not an act of betrayal or resistance. This is simply a plea to let them know how you feel. This is not intended to harm anyone, but to prevent them from making a mistake. This is essential to make those who do not intend to listen to us look us straight in the eye! Surely the gods will forgive such an act. Of course, we must consider the state of the world. Indeed, the Gate must close someday. But it is not this day! Yes, let us prepare for winter before meeting the snows!”
Diabo told everyone that they ought to delay the closure of the Gate.
During the harvest season of autumn, people would eat their fill, store up food, then wait out winter for the spring. Diabo used the basic metaphor of laying up stores for winter to tell the people of Arnus that they were uneasy because they were not sufficiently prepared.
“We hope that they will wait a little so we can prepare ourselves. Tell them that, ask them what is wrong with that. What harm will it do? None at all. Yes. We are in the right here. Someone has to stop them from making a mistake. If a master is about to make an error, then even a slave will say, ‘you’d better not do that’. That being the case, they will accept the word of freemen like yourselves. Is there anything wrong with what I am saying?”
The residents of Arnus were fascinated by the way this man had brilliantly expressed their thoughts about the present circumstances.
They all felt that he could speak for them and prevent the closure of the Gate.
“If everyone is willing to trust me, then I am willing to accept this burden. I will convey your will for you. So long as you support me from behind, I can negotiate with anyone, no matter who they are. How about it, will you place your trust in me?”
The workers asked Diabo:
“Can we really leave things to you?”
“Will they listen to our requests?”
“In the first place, will they even be willing to negotiate?”
Diabo wiped away everyone’s unease.
“Of course. That’s because I am backed by Diabo-denka. Diabo-denka is a prince of the Empire. That being the case, the Japanese government cannot possibly ignore that.”
Everyone said, “Yes” and nodded, looking like he had made up his mind. After that, thunderous applause filled the cantina, and Diabo had become the representative of the workers in Arnus Town. However:
“Hold on ~nya! That man’s lying ~nya!”
Meia limped into view, dripping blood, and her cries instantly quenched the fires of everyone’s ardor. The blood dripping from her body was like a bucket of cold water over the head, and several people rushed to her side.
“What, what happened to you, Meia!?”
Meia collapsed to her knees.The mercenaries pulled out the knife from her back and stopped her bleeding with practiced movements.
As they bound her wounds, Meia pointed at Diabo and shouted.
“Listen to me, everyone ~nya! That man’s a liar ~nya! He’s got an incredible scheme up his sleeve ~nya!”
“What nonsense are you talking?”
“Yes, We ought to trust Metmes.”
Diabo began to feel anxious, but he laughed off Meia’s statement in a tone that said, “why have you come here all of a sudden to spout such rubbish?”
“But he wants to hand Lelei to a country called China, in exchange for bringing another country’s army to this world ~nya! It’s because he wants power ~nya!”
“What’s China?”
“It’s a country on the other side of the Gate, separate from Japan ~nya. The person calling himself Diabo-denka was beaten badly by women from that country ~nya. They wanted him to hand over Lelei-san and so they tortured him ~nya. He couldn’t take it and said he would tell them where Lelei-san was ~nya.”
“What did you say!?”
Even Diabo could not feign ignorance of those words. He approached her and asked, “What happened, tell me in detail.”
But Meia smiled wickedly at him, and then she spoke loudly enough for everyone to hear.
“Why so worried ~nya? If I was making it all up, then you don’t need to be worried ~nya. You could have just ignored it ~nya.”
“But, Di-Diabo-denka’s been tortured, this… Panache, where’s his Highness?”

He looked around, but could not find Metmes anywhere. Unease bound Diabo as he realized he had fallen into a trap.
“Metmes-san, you’re a servant, yet you didn’t notice your master going missing, isn’t that strange ~nya? How could a servant be so inattentive to his master’s movements ~nya?”
Meia looked over to Panache’s maids, who shook their heads and said it was impossible.
“Yes, yes that’s true. And he’s acting awfully big for someone who’s supposed to be a servant.”
“Oi oi oi, why does it feel like things are turning weird all of a sudden?”
Everyone began to grow suspicious, not knowing what was going on.
It’s not like that. Just listen to me.”
Although Diabo was flailing around for an excuse to use, the fact that he had gained so much trust so soon was also the same reason why that trust had vanished just as quickly. In this case, there was nothing he could say to keep the people from sinking into despair.
However, the head chef called out, “Wait a minute.”
“Everyone, hang on. Doesn’t that mean he’s been thinking sincerely about us? Also, the China women that Meia was talking about must have been Zorzal’s people. Meia, you’re the one who’s been fooled. You’re trying to fill us with doubt and damage Diabo-denka’s reputation.”
“Really ~nya? They spoke Japanese very well for being Zorzal’s people ~nya. I’ve been in this town a long time ~nya. The only place to learn Japanese on this side of the Gate is Arnus Town ~nya. But I’ve never seen those women before ~nya.”
“That, that may be true. But you can’t be sure, right?”
“Diabo-denka must have pretended to put Lelei-san into the box and then hidden her somewhere else ~nya.. And that wasn’t to protect her, but for the sake of a deal. The people from China got angry that you broke the deal and came here instead ~nya.. They say they’ve brought their army to the Gate in order to make the trade ~nya.”
“So the army’s here!?”
Diabo’s face lit up with delight as he asked Meia that question.
“Diabo-denka… if you don’t go now, they’ll take Lelei-san away ~nya. That means you won’t get your army ~nya, is that okay ~nya?”
Meia was taunting him. If he rushed out to keep Lelei from being taken away, that would prove he was lying. But he could not just watch this unfold silently. That was because Lelei was Diabo’s sole trump card.
Diabo’s aim was to trade Lelei for an army and then take the throne.
Of course, he did not think the Chinese would go along with it so easily. Taking the throne would probably be very difficult.
Exchanging her for the throne was nothing more than a childish fantasy. But if he could make good use of Lelei, he might be able to ride the waves out and preserve the status quo.
And so, he had decided his methods and strategy. He was also a gifted speaker. One could say that now was the time for Diabo to shine. However, if he lost Lelei now, then that possibility would be gone forever. That was more important than the support of Arnus’ residents.
“What’s with you ~nya?”
Meia studied Diabo’s face with a wicked gleam in her eye.
Diabo clicked his tongue loudly, and then said “Let’s go, Panache”, before running out of the cantina like he was trying to flee everyone’s eyes.
Everyone was shocked by what Diabo had done.
That was because it had neatly proven that Meia was telling the truth.
“But how!?”
“So he really took Lelei-san!?”
Lelei was an exceptional entity in the Empire, but her name was especially significant in Arnus. She was the founder of the ALC and also its leader. She was the mistress of all these people. She was also the one who would decide the path that the ALC took. While they may have opposed the matter of closing the Gate, Lelei was still something like the benefactor to these people. They would never allow her to be traded like some sort of gambling chip.
They had nearly been tricked by a man who would have done just that.
Everyone was shocked speechless. Their shock, their despair, their stunned silence… the sense of loss which filled them prevented them from doing anything.
“Metmes-san! Where are you going !?”
While everyone was unable to move, the only person who could give chase was the head chef.

“Does, does that mean you’re Diabo-sama?”
The head chef caught up to him and drew close. Diabo testily replied:
“Yes. I’m Diabo.”
“So the person with you was―?”
“He was my servant Metmes. I wasn’t lying to you. After all, Zorzal’s targeting me, so I just used a body double.”
“I see… but, weren’t you going to send Lelei-san to a safe place?”
“I wasn’t lying about that either. I just thought that it would be safer to keep her at hand rather than send her to China. Don’t they say that in order to fool the enemy, you need to fool your allies first?”
“Doesn’t that mean you were lying to us after all!?”
“Enough of that! That’s not important! We need to keep her from being taken away.”
However, a squad of mercenaries led by Yao blocked Diabo’s path. Standing at the head of several mercenaries in mismatched armor, the Dark Elf woman pointed the tip of her saber at Diabo.
“A moment please. You’re under suspicion of kidnapping.”
“Insolence! How dare you demihumans bar my way! I am the second prince of Emperor Molt of the Empire, and a member of the Imperial Senate!”
If they were in the Imperial Capital, perhaps that shout might have cowed a horde. But this was Arnus. No matter how much Diabo raised his voice, neither Yao nor the mercenaries showed the slightest hint of fear.
Yao continued pointing her sword at Diabo and asked:

“Oh, I know that. But what does that title of yours mean?”
“Dammit, you lowlife”
“Wait, wait a minute.”
Panache put her arms around Diabo, who was reaching for his dagger, and shouted.
“Your Highness, we should leave. And please, all of you, please stand down. Please, I’m begging you!”
Of course, Yao did not back off.
The mercenaries drew their swords as well, surrounding them on all sides. Faced with this silent pressure, Diabo doubled down on his stubbornness and made to draw his dagger, and so Panache ended up grappling with him in an attempt to stop him.
At Yao’s command the mercenaries finally reached out to seize Panache and Diabo.
Just then, a clear, resonant voice filled their ears, dispelling the tension in the air.
“Hold it right there! That prince-sama will lead us to Lelei even without the need for questioning. Won’t he?”
“Ro-Rory… Your Holiness…”
Now that Rory had showed up, Diabo hmphed in resignation, and his hand moved away from his dagger.
“So you’re Diabo, huh? If you know where Lelei is, I’d like you to show us the way…”
The spike of the halberd thunked into the ground. Diabo reared back as the gigantic gleaming edge of the axe blade loomed in front of him.
“Your, your Holiness… there’s a lot of good reasons for this…”
“Yes, I know. You want power, right? BY all means, good luck.”
“Eh…? So, you, you’ll forgive me?”
“It’s not a matter of forgiving you or not… I simply like men who struggle. As the prince of a country, you ought to be aiming for the throne. That’s only to be expected.”
“Th-thank you very much.”
Diabo had been filled with guilt and regret over what he had done, but Rory’s words had been like salvation to him, and he smiled. However, what Rory said next was chastisement, and Diabo hung his head once more.
“Still, as one aiming for the throne, you need to have class in whatever you do. Performing despicable acts only degrades yourself.”
“Yes, yes, of course. I will engrave that into my heart.”
“Now then, did you treat Lelei well?”
“Of, of course, while one could say that my treatment of that common (Rurudo) girl… no no, I mean, while we did not make that scholar renowned as a sage and also the heroine who slew the Flame Dragon as comfortable as we could have, We saw to it that she received treatment fitting her station. Although she was bound, I did not touch her. Instead it was Panache who gently and carefully locked her up, but we still, we still… we still put her in an appropriate place…”
“Then, where is she?”
“Er… ah, er… in a storeroom.”
“A storeroom… so that’s your definition of treatment fitting her station and an appropriate place?”
Rory scratched her cheek.
Ah, er...”
Not even Diabo could answer. However, they had to go and save her right away. Led by Diabo, everyone came to the storeroom where Lelei was being held.
“It’s here.”
There was a bed inside, of the kind used for kings and nobility, which proved that Diabo had treated Lelei as she deserved. But when they looked inside, all they saw was a bound and gagged Metmes whimpering and rolling around.

General Hazama queried his men for information as they hurried back to his office.
“What’s going on in Arnus Town!?”
“There are many dead and wounded among the new refugees. We’ve got our hands full just saving people, and we can’t spare the men to deal with the monsters. The ALC’s mercenaries have mobilized to protect the townsfolk, but they can’t help on the new refugees’ side.”
“It can’t be helped. Cancel 5th Battle Group’s standby orders and have them help receive the wounded and dead. Open the medical facility and treat the injured as soon as possible. Gather the townsfolk into the garrison. Let everyone take shelter here. And then… when will the other combat groups report back?”
“The leading elements of the nearest combat group are still about three to four hours away. Bringing everyone back will probably take a day or so...”
His staff officers indicated that it would probably be impossible to recover all their men scattered throughout the Special Region within a day.
“In any case, continue negotiating with the protestors to buy time. Have communications with Ichigaya been restored yet?”
“No, all lines have been cut.”
“The building was designed to block radio waves, unfortunately.”
Hazama looked at the monitor which displayed the situation within the dome.
The self-proclaimed international NGO had brought large trucks inside the dome, with heavy steel rebar welded over its front bumper. Its front end was pointed like a siege ram, probably to increase its destructive power when striking the Gate. One could gauge their commitment to the cause when they said they wanted to wreck the Gate.
Hazama did not think that an international NGO which did this were ordinary civilians.
The man who called himself their leader, Liu, might have been a civilian or a bureaucrat, but he was surrounded by straight-backed men who held themselves like military personnel. In addition, his style of negotiation was not the forceful one-sided demands that freedom protestors frequently made, but a declaration of war cunningly made in the format of a negotiation.
They were probably agents from another country or something similar.
“If anything happens, do not hesitate to use force to eliminate them in order to recover our men. Prepare to execute the steps for White Rabbit. Also, make sure to leave behind medicine and rations.”
If they started wrecking the Gate now, it would be very hard for everyone to return.
Many of the Special Region Expeditionary Force’s personnel would be stranded in the Special Region. In that case, all they could do was survive on their remaining supplies until the next time they opened the Gate.
“How about revoking the retreat preparation order and exterminating Zorzal first? That way, our treaty with the Empire will take effect. Then we can defend Arnus with our remaining units.”
“No, that’s  the wrong way around Right now, we need to follow the manual.”
The emergency response manual had been drafted by the Cabinet, and they were effectively orders from the Prime Minister. Hazama was merely the commander of the expeditionary force, and violating those instructions was not a good thing. Granted, it was impossible to fully carry them out, and they had  to consider the men who were staying behind, but prioritizing military matters ahead of them was putting the cart before the horse.
“It’s about time.”
Hazama left the office once again and entered the dome, and then he walked in front of the Type 74 tank that stood at the heart of the Gate. The man who claimed to be the representative of the international NGO was waiting there. He stood in front of Hazama and began the negotiation that was more of a form of intimidation.
“Will you accept our demands now?”
The engines of the two big trucks revved in time with the words of the man from the NGO, like motorcycle gangsters gunning their engines to taunt their rivals into a game of chicken. However, Hazama said, “No,” without even thinking about it.
“Do what you please. We’re just here to stop any schemes you have in mind. But when the time comes, we might end up using firearms, so prepare yourselves.”
Hazama gave an order, and the Type 74 tank swivelled its turret to point at the trucks.
The ranks of JSDF troopers disengaged the safeties on their Type 64 rifles and levelled their bayonets at the members of the self-proclaimed NGO. However, their representative did not seem afraid.
He said, “You’d better not push it,” then laughed before continuing.
“Surely you can’t open fire on unarmed civilians like ourselves. Everyone knows you’re the good guys. And that is not meant to be praise. If you can’t harden your hearts and do cruel things when the situation calls for it, you won’t be able to protect your nation’s dignity or safety. A country must be feared rather than loved. But your country is not like that.”
“What are you trying to say? Are you looking down on us?”
“Precisely. Of course, I don’t think it’s your fault.”
Hazama could not respond. That was because it was the government which ought to decide how a country should live, not its uniformed personnel.
“Then I’ll repeat our demands. Please allow us to enter the Special Region. While the Japanese government may hand over the Gate and the administration of the Special Region to the United Nations, we may have to destroy the Gate depending on how the negotiations go. That would strand you in another world. If you hand the Gate over to us before that, you will not become drifters. I feel these are excellent terms. What do you think?”
“Not only are these terms not acceptable, they are very displeasing. Do you think we’ll give in to such threats? We will never allow you to enter the Special Region.”
“Then you won’t be able to come back to Japan. If that happens, it’ll be the fault of yourselves and the Japanese government, and not us.”
“We are prepared for that. We have never been in a position to accept your demands to begin with. If you want to negotiate, go speak with the government.”
“That is not true. As Sun Tzu said; ‘when the general is capable and the ruler does not impede him, he will be victorious’. You are a general of Japan, so you ought to have the authority to use your discretion. Hurry up and let us into the Special Region. Then we will not need to destroy the Gate.”
Something struck Hazama as off as he heard Liu’s words.
Even if they planned to enter the Special Region with arms in place of the JSDF, they would not be able to maintain the situation there for long. What was the aim of this negotiation? Doubts formed in his heart.
Hazama asked a question for confirmation.
“The government’s plan is to temporarily close the Gate. Even if you take our place, we will close it without hesitation. In that case, you will be the ones adrift in a strange world.”
“Of course, we will not let the Gate close. That’s because the General Assembly of the UN will make that decision.”
“I see. Which means you will send Green Berets from your country, no? But the Japanese government will certainly refuse. And it has already been made public that the Gate’s existence has caused unnatural phenomena in various countries around the world… do you think the disasters from those phenomena are not related to the Gate?”
“Many countries question those reports. We peaceful protesters are gathered here from the peoples of the major nations of the world for precisely that reason.”
“Peaceful protesters, don’t make me laugh. And you say that you’re from the major nations, but aren’t you all the only ones here? Where are the Caucasians?”
“I am in charge of negotiations here. The Caucasians are negotiating with the police outside the dome.
“And what national agency do you work for?
“We are an NGO. We are not acting for any particular nation’s benefit.”
“And you expect me to believe that?”
Their way of speaking and their organization all told him that they were a clandestine group working for the Chinese Communist Party.
There were various groups both inside and outside the country which took orders from the government and which the government managed. That was why there were Chinese groups which loudly proclaimed that “the Diaoyu Islands are Chinese territory!” in Europe and North America, and there were overseas Chinese who appeared to be obedient citizens right until something happened and they turned into spies and agents.
In recent years, there were reports that JSDF personnel were starting to marry abroad, and there were examples of spouses of workers in the defense industries actually being agents. They had originally come to Japan as agents, they lived very normally in Japan, but when they were suddenly placed in an environment where they could gather intelligence, they were ordered to begin spying and send data over, using their families within China as hostages.
Hazama felt that this man was pretending to represent the opinions of various countries, but his words only expressed the will of one nation.
“I see, so that’s how it is. I understand. Then I’ll repeat the final answer to your demands. We will fulfil the orders that the government gives us under any circumstances.”
“How brave. But the Japanese government won’t be as calm as you. Do you think they can bear losing you?”
“Thanks to you, our communications with the Japanese government have been severed. Thus we can only carry out the orders we were given before that.”
“Are you going to stubbornly enforce those orders?”
“Of course. That’s what they call civilian control of the military.”
Liu walked up to Hazama and said:
“Which means you’re all choosing to become drifters?”
“We are already prepared for that.”
Hazama shook him off, and the representative said:
“I thought you were going to say that you were going to return to Japan by force…”
“That is an option we are prepared for.”
“We’ll be very glad for that. That’s because you will surely reenact Tiananmen Square in 1964. The international community will surely criticize Japan for it. Using bayonets and tanks to crush peaceful protestors… well, it’ll make for good footage. Although our country has been censured for its human rights violations, we will be able to do the same to Japan now.”
The representative gestured to the man holding a handycam beside him.
“Our only way back to Japan is blocked by you, so our only option is to pass you by force. All we have to do is say so after the fact. It will be accepted as an emergency measure.”
If it is accepted. How do you think the Japanese media will report your actions? They’ll spin this as a massacre of protestors using unlawful force and criticize you for destroying the Gate.”
Upon hearing this, Hazama went, “Say what!?” and his face went pale.
“Your men have families too. They’ll be scorned by their neighbors, no?”
Hazama bit his lip.
That was because Hazama could not say that the Japanese media would not do such a thing.
The media insisted that the news existed in order to keep an eye on those in power and the movements of society, and to serve as whistleblowers. Of course, fulfilling their role as bystanders and reporting everything about and around themselves was beneficial to society. But recently, the media had begun deciding what was good and bad and then forcing their opinions onto the masses. Their reports began to blatantly overstep the bounds of mere criticism, and their content was becoming increasingly politicized and designed to manipulate the will of the citizens for their own convenience.
Their biased interviews with election candidates which ran counter to their opinions was a clear sign of this.
This was further supported by the way they attacked people not for how they would handle the Prime Minister’s power, but on mispronouncing kanji, how they spent their free time, and their personal character.
In other words, the media was not actually reporting news, but propagandizing to create an environment favorable to themselves. In addition, what was hard to believe was how their actions aligned with overseas factions who were opposed to Japan.
Liu was in charge of the battle to seize the Japanese media, and his voice dripped with pride at his accomplishments as he continued speaking to Hazama.
“I’ll say this first. We aren’t the ones who will hurt the families of your men. You are. Your actions will decide everything.
One could say that anyone with the ability to control the  massmedia could make any sorts of reports they wanted, and thus they had the ability to dictate the situation. Hazama knew that Japan could not oppose this, which vexed him. But at the same time, he fired back in the hopes of finding some line of counterattack.
“The truth will come out eventually. And the international community will also…”
“Righteousness and truth are all nonsense. Money can settle it all. For instance, when people who opposed the Chinese establshment received Nobel Peace Prizes, how many countries absented themselves from the ceremony? That just proves that nobody respects that so-called justice. There are few countries in the world to whom the term ‘just’ can be applied. It might be better to treat Japan as the exception to the rule.
After that, Hazama took a deep breath, and adjusted himself.
“I see… now I understand.”
“Ohh, you do?”
“Oh yes, I do. You’re pretending to negotiate, but you’re actually stalling for time.”
“We cannot possibly fulfil your demands. In other words, you want us to do nothing.”
“Indeed. However, it seems you’ve realized that a little too late.”
Liu sneered at Hazama, and then gestured behind the other man with his chin.
The women standing there had a bound Lelei as a hostage.
“Aren’t they the tourists we were protecting?”
“Oh yes. While it pains me to take advantage of your good nature, you should regard this as a lesson in how people who treat everyone kindly are nothing but fools.”
As Hazama’s men saw Lelei was a hostage, all they could do was watch from afar.
Yao’s mercenaries and Arnus’ townsfolk had caught up as well, but just like the JSDF personnel, they could only watch when they saw how they had a knife to Lelei’s throat.
“Let go of Lelei-san!”
As he glanced at the Arnus townsfolk who were bellowing and shouting from the corner of his eye, Liu made a proposal.
“Alright. Step aside and let them pass. In that case, we will not harm the hostage. I promise you that.”
“You must not let them pass no matter what! She’s their objective! They won’t harm her!”
Hazama ordered his men not to let them through and then looked back at Liu.
“I see… so all this was for her, is that it?”
“We do not just take one action to accomplish one goal. Strictly speaking, this was also one of our aims.”
Liu was all smiles.

“Ten minutes until Ginza airspace. Please get ready!”
After hearing the pilot’s command, Itami prepared himself.
He checked his safety harness over and over again for problems. SUch excessive cocnern showed his unease and the fear he was hiding.
Itami and Tomita each hugged Tuka and Kuribayashi, then they opened the helicopter doors and stood on the skids.
For some reason, the city at night looked like the stars over their heads, and for a moment he even felt that he was floating in space.
“I, I’m scaaaaaaared! And coooooooold!”
The chill wind from outside made Itami shiver.
Kuribayashi looked annoyedly at him as he squealed. Itami’s voice was flaring up her own fear and unease.
“El, el-tee, aren’t you supposed to be a veteran jumper!?”
Kuribayashi rebuked Itami for not being what he promised.
She went on to say, “If you’re so experienced, then you ought to act like it and not scare the newbies!”
“Dumb~ass, do you think someone without fear would make a good paratrooper? You’re more careful because you’re afraid, aren’t you?”
Then, Tuka suddenly giggled from her place on Itami’s knee. She could tell he was trembling and putting on a brave front because they were so close together.
“Nothing, you’re just reassuring, is all.”
That seemed to trigger Kuribayashi’s memories, because she shouted:
“That, that’s it! I forgot something important! El-tee, Tomita’s raised a death flag!”
“Say what!?”
“He said he was going to marry Bozes after the war was over.”
“What the hell, why didn’t you tell me earlier!?” Itami shouted. “This is bad, this is really bad! We’re going to be doing some risky business after this, what should we do now!?”
“Exactly! Why do I have to do it with a guy who has a death flag hanging over him!?”
Kuribayashi shivered and said, “Now I’m part of this too.”
Just then, Kawai the pilot turned back and shouted, “Please jump!”
“El-tee! We jump on three!”
After hearing Tomita’s voice, Itami replied, “Wait!”
Kuribayashi shouted too. “Noooo! I don’t want this! I don’t want to go skydiving or whatnot after raising that flag!”
But Tuka said, “Don’t worry, Shino! I’ll get rid of that flag for you,” and then she winked at Tomita as he looked at her.
“One, exit!”
“I’ll marry Youji after this war is over!”
As she shouted that, Tuka jumped out into the sky, pulling Itami with her, and by the time he realised it, he was in mid-air.
“Hey, Tuka! What did you just say!? Uwaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”
Itami assumed a diving position as he screamed, and he threw out the drogue to slow his descent.
Shortly after, Tomita jumped out in pursuit of the two of them.
Tomita put his arm under Kuribayashi’s neck, lightly raising her chin, and they turned in mid-air several times as they flew through Tokyo’s night sky.

The wind rushed up at them at speeds of over 200 km/h, and the air flowed past their outstretched arms and between their fingers.
Itami reached toward his waist in order to immediately deploy his parachute. He pulled hard, and felt the parachute open up behind his back, and a mighty impact rocked his body.
However, Itami immediately felt something was wrong. The wind was rushing too quickly over his skin. Perhaps he had decelerated, but this was not the speed he ought to be experiencing if his parachute had fully opened.
“We’re not slowing down!?”
A problem with night jumping was that it was very difficult to tell if one’s parachute had opened. While one could check with nightvision equipment, Itami did not have the presence of mind for that, and instead he reflexively chose to jettison it.
After shedding his main parachute, he began freefalling again.
Itami hugged Tuka from behind as he tumbled backward through the air.
“Guwaaaaaaargh! Why is a one-in-a-thousand chance like this cropping up nownow!? Is it because of the death flag!? Is this what a death flag is!?”
Itami shouted, but the ferocious wind kept him from hearing his own voice.
The reason why he did not feel his guts being pressed up into his body like when he was riding a rollercoaster was probably because he was not seated. Or perhaps it was because air pressure supported his entire body.
All around him, he could see the sea of stars in the night above and the lights of the city spreading across the land.
This isn’t falling, but flying ― for a moment he had the mistaken impression that this was the case.
Itami could no longer trust his senses, so he looked at his wrist-mounted altimeter. The needle seemed to be turning as fast as the second hand on a watch.
“Oh crap!”
He had to pull the ripcord on his reserve chute right away.
However, he needed to take a stable descent position before doing so.
If he opened the parachute now, he would probably be tangled up with the risers. That was certain death.
“9000, 8000, 7000…”
Their speed was such that they were falling 1000 feet per five seconds.
His ears hurt every few seconds which passed. He swallowed to equalize the pressure, but right after that, his ears would ache again. Therefore, he had to balance himself.
“This could be bad!”
If this went on, the AAD (automatic activation device) would trigger.
Itam hurriedly opened his arms and bent his knees so he looked like he was drawing a bow.
His belly was thrust out, so he looked like a prawn. And then, he frantically opened his arms and raised his forehead. The world began to spin in an instant.
“5000, 4000!”
Itami forcefully yanked the ripcord.
He immediately felt the reserve chute at his back flap and flutter as it was dragged out, and right after that there was a click and a feeling of full-body suspension through the safety straps fastened around him.
He looked up and saw that the ropes from his shoulders and the rectangular ram-air parachute above him filled the heavens.
Their descent had slowed. There was no unnatural turning. It would seem the parachute had successfully deployed.
“Yahoooooooo! This is it! This is it!”
Suddenly, Tuka’s joyous cries filled the air.
“Are you trying to kill yourself, Tuka!? It’s all because you raised that death flag! Skydiving’s really dangerous, you know! In the first place, why did you even say that!?”
“Aw, it’s embarrassing, I won’t say it again! Besides, we’re not dead, what’s wrong with that?”
“Honestly, our altitude now is…”
He looked at his wrist altimeter and found that the needle was hovering around 3000 feet.
A chill ran down his back when he thought about how they would have gone splat if he ahd been just ten seconds later. After that, he asked Tuka what she really meant, and at the same time Itami pulled on one of the parachute’s steering toggles.
The centrifugal force felt like they were being swung around on a gigantic swing, and they began to turn slowly.
Since Itami was not confident in his ability to steer precisely, he shouted to Tuka, “I’ll leave guidance to you.”
Tuka had been squealing in delight until just now, but she replied, “Leave it to me, it’s a piece of cake!” and then she began to incant in a language Itami did not understand. It sounded like singing.
And then, a wind that had come out of nowhere steered Itami and the others toward the dome that covered the Gate in the heart of Ginza.
When they drifted to the right, the wind blew from the right, and when they leaned too far from the left it would come from the left.
He took off his goggles and put his night vision gear to his eyes. He could see the chaotic scene of the riot police spraying their water cannons and the international NGO protestors throwing rocks at them.
It would seem nobody had noticed Itami and the others descending through the sky overhead.
“You see that round roof? We need to land on top of that. There’s an emergency exit there.”
“It’s a very delicate maneuver, can you do it?” he asked, but there was no reply
“Oi~ Can you hear me~”
Tuka seemed lost in controlling the wind and walking through the sky. With both hands full with his night-vision gear, he gently nibbled her long elven ear. Tuka went “Kya~” and shrank down.
“What, whatwhatwhat, what are you doing!?”
“We need to land on top of that round thing. I’m counting on you.”
“Of, of course, leave it to me.”
Saying so, the Elven elementalist erected her index finger and waggled it around, stirring up the air.
Unlike round parachutes, ram-air parachutes were designed so they could move forward as they descended. Therefore, they could change their course. With this technology, they could freely select their landing destination. However, when they landed, they would not just be going down, but forward as well. Therefore, they would brake with devices called flares. However, the problem was that such brakes would only work on the parachute, and not on Itami and the others, dangling below the parachute.
Itami pulled hard on the toggles on both sides in order to slow them down.
However, that was wasted effort.
Tuka had gone to great effort to control the wind direction, and so when the parachute slowed down, it ended up stranding them in a very high place.
In the end, Itami and Tuka swung back and forth on momentum, like they were on a swing, as they moved toward the big building in front of them.
Because the parachute slowed their descent, they ended up colliding with the ground… the roof of the dome halfway during a swing.
“Abbbaaaaahhhhh, koff, koff, ugeh!”
Itami landed on his ass with Tuka in his arms.
Tuka immediately worried that her weight had made that impact dangerous to Itami, but she could not move because of the safety harness.
“O wind!”
Tuka called to the wind in panic. Therefore, they were buoyed up by the parachute once more, and the two of them saw they were about to slide down the other side of the dome.
Itami hurriedly ejected the backup parachute and reached for a jutting out portion of the outer wall..
“Look out!”
It would seem they had successfully stopped their slide down.
The cast-off parachute was blown away by the wind, and draped over the wall of a nearby department store.
Just then, Itami felt his heart pounding as he realized his lifespan had been drastically cut short.
“So this is the power of a so-called death flag… If I hadn’t acted quickly, I’d have died… Tuka, are you alright?”
Tuka gasped, “I thought I was going to die~” as she looked at Itami’s arm ― which was supporting their combined body weight ― as though it were glowing.
“My lifespan’s shrunk thanks to you!”
Itami exerted his strength and hoisted himself up with his arms alone.
“If I could share my lifespan, I’d give you 500 years.”
 Don’t be silly.”
 ”I’m not kidding, I really want you to live for another 500 years.”
“  That’s crazy talk. If there really were such a way, it would shock the entire world.”
As they bantered with each other, the two of them climbed to the top of the dome, where he cut himself loose from Tuka. Thus freed, the two of them swiftly began to work.
“Tuka, take the rope out of the bag.”
“What are you going to do with it?”
“We’re going to used it to sneak inside.”
He took out the shotgun that Kanou’s secretary had given him and loaded it with two shells. He fastened the rope Tuka handed him to a carabiner and hooked it to a metal bar on the hatchway, and then tied it to the figure-8 fastener of the parachute harness.
He opened the hatch in the ceiling and looked inside.
There were many people surrounding the Gate. Behind them were two trucks revving their engines. It was so loud it sounded like a skyscraper being demolished.
“What’s happening?”
“Something bad.”
Itami’s face  blanched as he looked up and behind Tuka.
The Tomita and Kuribayashi team swooped down towards the roof of the dome.
“What, what the hell are you doing, you idiots!?”
Itami bellowed at them, but it was clearly Itami’s fault. That was because there was only a narrow space near the top that they could aim for if they wanted to land on the dome. When one considered the fact that the other two had not yet landed, they should have made space and waited for them to arrive.
Itami thought, Crap, we’re going to crash! and so he pushed Tuka down. At the same time, Kuribayashi glided feet first into Itami’s crotch, sending him flying into the hatch in the dome’s roof.

“Now, please let them pass!”
Liu demanded that Hazama let Ling and the others ― who were being blocked off by JSDF personnel ― go past. But Hazama immediately denied him.
“I refuse. We will not negotiate with criminals.”
“We have a hostage. What happens if you lose her? Then you’ll really be unable to open the Gate. You’ve been able to take a hardline stance all this while because you have her, right?”
Hazama was depressed by the fact that this secret, which was something which only the highest-ranking officers knew, had been so easily divulged.
“I see. So this bg production was aimed at seizing her.”
“I told you, this was just one of our aims.”
“But even so, you can’t harm her. She cannot be used as a hostage.”
“You really think so?”
“Of course. You’re planning to ask her help, but what happens if you get her angry?”
“Indeed. But we do not value her for her appearance. A finger, a hand, a foot; we won’t mind cutting them off at all.”
“If you do that, then she’ll never listen to you!”
”Certainly, she won’t. Not in the short-term, at least. But the human will is something which can be broken by their surroundings. After all, we can use drugs too.”
“What are you saying? You’re going to brainwash her?”
“It’s just to show that there are many methods at our disposal. Even an Emperor can be made to say that he’s a good communist. There’s always a way to deal with the so-called human spirit.”
In these negotiations, the more ruthless side had an advantage.
When choosing one’s methods, the side that empathized with the suffering of others would be at a disadvantage.
“Sniper in position.”
The staff officer then said, “Take aim at that woman,” but Hazama said, “Wait.”
There was more than one person here who was going to harm Lelei. If they could not neutralize everyone at once, then there was no point in doing this.
“Now then, what will you do? I’ll get this out of the way first, I have no intent of letting you buy time.”
On Liu’s command, Ling moved her knife to Lelei’s heart.
Hazama could only tell his subordinates, “make a path.”
And so Ling and the others leisurely walked through the Gate and returned to their fellows. As they were showered by arrogant jeering, the JSDF troops could only suppress the anger welling up from their bellies and grit their teeth.
“So how does it feel, are you mad!?”
Perhaps it was to savor her superior position, but Ling Fanghua held Lelei close to herself while pressing her knife to her breast, then turned back. Lelei’s eyes were covered, her mouth was gagged, her limbs were bound, and there was no telling if she was still conscious, only that she looked utterly exhausted, like a doll. Ling tapped Lelei’s cheek with the back of her knife, as if to show that she held the power of life and death over the girl and the JSDF personnel.
One of the JSDF personnel rushed over in anger, but his comrades immediately shouted, “Wait!” “Bear with it!” and held him down.
Seeing this, Ling had a look of unrivalled joy on her face as she laughed smugly.
“Ahahahahahaha! How is it, you really are mad, aren’t you? Ah~ this feels great.”
Liu grinned in victory, and he signalled to the truck drivers behind him.
A terrifying roar filled the dome. Their engines revved, and the echoes within the dome made everyone clutch their ears.
“Don’t tell me, you―turen”
“Oh yes. You’re going to be drifters.”
At Liu’s direction, the two big trucks each rushed toward the corners of the Gate’s pillars. That was where they were weaker.
“Look out!”
The personnel in the Gate hurriedly backed off.
There was the sound of metal twisting, and the trucks hit the outer frame of the Gate. Part of the frame buckled under the impact, and it shook violently.
“Fall back, fall back!”
In order to evade the concrete and other debris falling on their heads, Hazama’s men fled the vicinity of the Gate. All they could do was watch helplessly as the enemy did whatever they wanted and tremble in utter humiliation.
As Liu saw how the Gate remained in shape despite the tremendous impact, he looked back to Major Wu.
“It looks surprisingly intact. I thought we’d destroy it in one go.”
“I think hitting it another couple of times ought to bring it down.”
The drivers stepped on the gas and the truck engines roared even more loudly as the trucks reversed away from the Gate.
There was the sound of the Gate’s frame twisting and tearing as the right side barrier broke apart, and fragments fell to the ground. The part of the Gate frame where the trucks had hit it was heavily twisted, scattering concrete and stones all over.
After backing up enough to accelerate, the drivers switched gears.
The staff officers saw this and they shouted to Hazama.
“General! We can only stop them by force! Please order us to open fire!”
“No, we can’t! Our country will be in deep trouble if they report that we opened fire on civilians!”
“Surely those people aren’t ordinary civilians, are they!?”
“It’s not what we think, it’s what others see! There’s a lot of people out there trying to make us out to be people who’ll kill civilians! Bear with it, all of you!”
Unable to quell their anger, the servicemen pointed their weapons at the trucks, but the officers stopped them. Seeing this, Liu signalled the trucks forward again.
As though they were trying to see who could accelerate faster, the trucks crashed heavily into the Gate once more.
The tremendous blow sent concrete chunks and rocks falling from the Gate’s outer frame.
“What a shame. Again!”
The trucks reversed once more. The voice that said, “Vehicle reversing, please be careful” sounded like a death knell to everyone.
However, a voice said, “What the hell are you doing!?” signalling the arrival of a third party.

Liu had an annoyed look on his face as he looked back. Wu ordered his men to block the interlopers trying to get in from outside the dome.
However, Liu could not simply overlook them either, because the third parties had weapons, which they held high as they rushed into the dome.
Unlike the JSDF personnel, who would hesitate when cameras were raised, the newcomers clearly did not care if they faced innocent civilians or whatnot, and so Liu’s men hesitated.
“Director Liu. Your actions were not covered in the pre-mission briefing.”
The masked men all held guns. Only their representative showed their face.
They were probably a coalition of American, English and French operatives.
“Jenkins. You’re the ones making trouble for us by taking this unplanned action. I should be in charge of this place. You’re causing me a lot of problems by barging in here.”
“We’d like to respect the division of duties too, but your actions have surpassed the threshold we can permit. Our aim should be to apply pressure to force the Japanese government to give in. Why have you taken direct action like this?”
“Because the JSDF refused to agree to our requests. We simply went a little overboard in showing our determination.”
“At a glance, it’s clear that you’ve gone too far. The fact is, if the Gate is destroyed, there’s no point in negotiation, no?”
“That is also a valid negotiation tactic. What’s this, you started by by saying you didn’t want to sour relations with Japan and so you pushed the dirty work to us, but now you’re complaining about our methods?”
“Don’t play dumb. Your full-court press strategy’s to obtain that Jade Wall girl, isn’t it?
That put a dent in Liu’s soaring spirits, but he immediately pulled himself together and stepped forward.
“You’re the ones trying to steal her from us!”
“What, you noticed?”
“The strange thing was how America, the world’s policemen, would yield command authority to us. Of course we smelled a rat.”
“Ah, what’s going on? Does anybody know?”
Hazama’s staff officers asked around for an answer, and so Hazama sighed and told them.
“In short, the Americans sensed China’s aims and pretended to be tricked. They were planning to wait until China got her and then snatch her.”
Liu nodded to show he was correct.
“Just so. At the same time, we too knew that America had realized from the beginning.”
Liu took out a hidden handgun and pointed it at Jenkins.
Wu and the others took that as the cue to draw their hidden weapons. The operatives pointed their weapons at each other, and a tense silence filled the interior of the dome.
But right after that...
Someone fell from above and behind Ling, who was holding Lelei, soaring over the heads of the JSDF soldiers on the Special Region side of the Gate.

Let us briefly go back in time to around 23:00.
It was nighttime in Akasaka, and the black Benz reflected the brilliant neon lights as it wove through the cars and stopped in front of a high-class hotel.
The face of the person in the back seat was unclear due to the tinted windows of the vehicle, but Komakado, who was looking down on them from inside the hotel, knew that was his target.
Beside him, the agent operating the camera which had been set up to gather photographic evidence pressed the shutter.
The hotel valet opened the car door, and a distinguished-looking man of about 70 and a girl of about 15 in a dress stepped out of the car. Their closeness felt unnatural, and they did not look like a grandfather walking with his daughter.
“Dammit, that girl’s Turen Huna!”
The cameraman shouted all of a sudden, and everyone looked at him.
“Turen… who?”
“Turen Huna. She’s an East Asian superstar. And she’s only 16!”
The man immediately recited a list of facts about her, from her most recent dramass to her favorite foods, without consulting a fact sheet.
“Don’t tell me… you’re a fan?”
“I’m Member Number 0003 of her fan club.”
The agent pulled out his member card like he was flashing his police ID. Komakado did not know if he should comfort him or be shocked, but he pitied him, in a way.
“You know, if that Huna girl really is a star like you say, then I wonder how come someone like you could get such a low number like 0003.”
“Eh? Of course it’s because I was the first to notice her charm. It felt like lightning in the moment I saw her…”
Member 0003 narrated the tale of the wondrous moment when he first saw her and the beauty of her voice.
“But… How did you learn about her? From her home country?”
“Which means that before you knew, there were only two other fans?”
“Eh? No! How could that be… but, er, eh?”
“You were tricked by TV advertising.”
Komakado told him he had never heard of the name Huna before.
“I’m sure she’s been heavily promoted because the stations have the copyright to her songs. And so, fans like you are tricked because you mistakenly think she’s a star.”
“Otherwise, why would a star be involved in the idol sex industry?”
Member 0003’s face froze, like he had heard an announcement that the world was coming to an end. It was pitiful, but Komakado had nothing to say to him.
The other agents looked at Member 0003 with pitying looks on their faces.
“Ch-chief. Everyone’s in place… what should we do?”
“Have we obtained the warrant?
“Yes, it’ll be here right away. But is this really alright? Director Hidaki is a close friend of Prime Minister Morita’s, we might end up facing pressure too.”
“You don’t need to worry about Nagata-cho. There’s a big operation going on tonight.”
“Do you know about it?”
“It’s a secret. Alright, just wait for the time to come.”
Under Komakado’s instructions, his men relaxed and went to get coffee play with their phones or watch TV. But then Member 0003, who had hung his head like he had been broken, suddenly jumped up and shouted:
“I can’t forgive Turen or the idol sex industry! I’m going in right away!”
“Quick, stop that idiot now!”
The agents all went up to retrain Member 0003. It would seem he was very skilled in hand to hand combat, so even half a dozen people had a hard time subduing him. After they bore him to the ground, the immobilized Member 0003 wept piteously.
“Stop crying! What a pain!”
“But, but I…”
“Yes, yes, I know. I’ll let you question him.”
“Guuuh, you bastard. I’ll make you spit it out, I’ll make you tell me all about it. I’ll make you tell me everything you did with Huna-chan! I’ll reveal the true face of the organization behind the idol sex industry!”
In the grip of his negative emotions, the agent began muttering to himself like he was chanting a curse. Komakado could not bear to look any more. He turned away and mumbling, “that’s how it is, that’s how it is,” before sitting down on his chair and reaching for the cigarettes in his breast pocket.
The smoke from the cigarette curled up to the ceiling, floating there like mist.
Finally, when the hand on his watch neared two in the morning, there was a knock on the door.
The person who entered was one of his men. He entered briskly, and produced a brown envelope from his bag when he spotted Komakado.
“That’s the arrest warrant, and that’s the room key. At 2:00am, you are to arrest all twelve tourists recorded on the group’s namelist at once.”
Komakado verified the contents of the letter and smiled.
“Good. Then let’s go execute the warrant. However, the suspects are all big shots. Everyone, be careful when you do things.”
The formally dressed men gathered and strode swiftly down the carpeted hallways.
The sight of them was quite bizarre, and the other guests backed away from them with surprised looks on their faces. Komakado walked leisurely at their head, holding his cane.
The men stood in front of the door, surrounding it.
On Komakado’s command, one of the agents inserted the keycard.
“It’s time.”
Komakado nodded, and the door opened without any resistance.
The policemen of the Public Security Bureau poured into the room like a flood.
One of Komakado’s men held a camera. His flash went off over and over again as he took pictures for evidence.
“You, you lot! Who are you!?
Komakado took out his arrest warrant, and informed the man that he was under arrest.
“Director Hidaki, you’re under arrest on suspicion of violating the Child Welfare Act. By the way, the girl here is 16 or so… looks like we caught you in the act.”
The flash went off several times as they took pictures of the scene on the bed. There was a naked old man lying face up and a young girl shaking her waist on top of him.
There was a bottle of mineral water and erectile dysfunction pills on the bedside table. There was also traces of white powder and a straw.
However, the girl’s hips were still moving even now.
She did not seem to be paying attention to what was happening around her. She stared into space with vacant eyes. Most likely she had been drugged with something.
Komakado smiled wickedly and looked on the girl like he was licking her with his eyes.
“What’s this? She’s just a brat, but she’s certainly a very good woman. This clearly isn’t her first time doing this...:”
With that, he smiled to Hidaki like the Grim Reaper himself.
“It seems you’re quite skilled at making good memories as head of a television station, aren’t you? But it seems you’ve gone a little too far. Word to the wise, our questioning is going to be quite rigorous. Especially this lad over here. He’s a big fan of this girl, and he’s hopping mad. He’ll tie you up tight, and it won’t be like the detective dramas your station likes airing so much…”
“I, I want my lawyer.”
At great length, Hidaki finally managed to spit those words out.
“That is your privilege, of course, and we will respect that. However, before your lawyer arrives, your personal safety will be in the hands of Public Security. Get that into your head.”
“You, you, you’re from Public Security? I’m very close to Morita. The likes of you…”
“When you address Prime Minister Morita, you’ll soon have to add ‘former’ in front of that.”
“What, what did you say?”
“In any case, we’re going to have a good long chat about a certain country. We’ll tie you up nice and tight until you squeal. Of course, for transparency, you do know we’ll have to put everything on film, no? We’ll have you face the camera and tell it everything. All the things which make the court audience blush to hear.”
He called over a female agent to drape a towel over the girl and take her to another room.
After that. Hidaki was not permitted to dress himself. Instead he put on a bathrobe and had handcuffs around his wrists and a rope around his waist before he was led out through the hotel’s back door,
Komakado announced that their work here was done.
“Alright, ladies and gentlemen. It’s time to flush out the maggots nesting in our nation! It’s payback time!”

At the Prime Minister’s Residence, Morita faced his visitors in the middle of the night.
It was ridiculous to visit someone else about a matter like this. But before Morita could go to bed, the entire Cabinet had told him there was something important, so he could not refuse it.
He told his secretary to ’have them wait in the lounge’ and chose to entertain his guests.
“What’s everyone doing here at this time?”
That said, Morita was not properly dressed, with only a cardigan over his pajamas. Facing him was Kanou in immaculate attire, representing the Cabinet, and he said:
“I do apologize for coming at this hour… but the matter is pressing.”
“Well, I am the Prime Minister. If it’s important, then it can’t be helped. What’s happened now?”
“In truth, we would like you to step down from your position as Prime Minister.”
Kanou went straight for that declaration without any preamble. Morita wondered if he had misheard things, and he adjusted his glasses before saying:
“What. what did you just say?”
Kanou had no intention of repeating himself. Instead, he said, “Read this” and handed a letter of resignation to him. It also included the letters of resignation for all the cabinet ministers besides Morita and Cabinet Secretary Kogure.
Morita thumped the table.
“We feel your judgement about the Gate is in error. We will not allow you to hand jurisdiction of the Gate to the Permanent Members of the UNSC.”
“But if all of you want to resign, then I’ll simply appoint new ministers.”
“That assumes you can find someone willing to do the job. I hope you understand why we have all gathered here.”
Morita’s strategy was to balance the parties, and so he had appointed various members from the various conservative parties to his Cabinet. The fact that they were all here implied that all their parties were aware of this.
“Who, whoever becomes Prime Minister won’t have much of a term. He’ll just be an interim manager until the general elections. Who do you think is going to do that job?”
“I will. That’s because it’s better than letting you mess this country up.”
“Then what do you expect me to do!?”
“Believe in your men. Who the hell do you think you are, conceding the matter of the Gate and abandoning those people in the field who worked so hard!? Miss Lelei’s protection included, all you needed to do was trust in the people on the scene and wait. But you couldn’t do that. And now, thanks to you, we’re going to hand our country’s safety over to other nations!”
“But, but, what other way is there… who do you think is going to take the blame if something goes wrong!?”
“That is why I’m going to free you from that responsibility. Just leave it all to me…”
“No. I am the Prime Minister. I am the Prime Minister!”
Morita rose and picked up his phone to call the leader of his party.
It was late at night, yet the person he was calling answered after only a few rings. Clearly, he had been waiting for this call. However, Morita was so desperate that her did not realize how strange that was.
“Ah, Takatsu-san. This is bad. Kanou, Kanou wants me to resign from my Prime Minister’s position…”
“Morita-kun. You are not suitable to be the Prime Minister of this nation.”
“Don’t worry. Just vacate the Prime Minister’s seat. It’ll look neater if you do so if your own accord.”
“But, how, how about the elections?”
“If anyone who does it is going to lose, then let Kanou do it for a while. Your decisions will imperil the nation and I cannot support them.”
Morita hung up, and he dialled another number with trembling hands.
“Chief Executive Iwahara!”
“We have already decided to support Kanou. My apologies, but nobody in this nation will support you, former Prime Minister.”
“Ah, ahhhhhh…”
Morita dropped the phone and grabbed his head.

“Eh? What did you say? Our chief got arrested!? No way!”
After the power was cut, Ginza was plunged into darkness. Nanami dragged her cameraman all over the place, interviewing the members of the international NGO there, and then her colleague suddenly informed her of that.
“Child prostitution!? That’s super bad, isn’t it? There’s no way to excuse that kind of suspicion.”
Things like tax loopholes could still be argued in court.
One could mobilize an army of lawyers, pay off witnesses, and apply courtroom pressure to get people to reverse testimonies for unimportant cases. However, prostitution, and being caught in flagrante delicto with a minor to boot, was the sort of thing that could not be covered up. If they tried to use legal tricks anyway, it was very likely they would be criticized for trying to inflict psychological damage on a minor, which would essentially be social death.
“And the girl is Turen Huna? Wah, she’s 16, this is terrible!”
“It’s not just the Chief either, it seems the name of the journalism department’s head appeared on that prostitution racket’s namelist, so he was taken in for questioning just now.”
“Eh, the Chief of journalism too!?”
“It seems they’re not just going after the financial sector, but it involves the incumbent and opposition parties too. They’re saying that the country is even searching the homes of powerful politicians! Public Safety is all over the place!”
That report stunned all the press staff present.
This might end up in a change in leadership for the television station. In that case, there might be a complete change in the prevailing direction of their department. These people had always had to stay wary of their superiors’ moods, but now they did not know what was going on, they stopped thinking.
However, Nanami grinned.
“This is a chance! Let’s put everything we’ve seen in Ginza into the news! Permission? Whose permission do we need? What right does someone who’s been arrested have to give such permission? All we can do now is let the people decide!”
“But nobody’ll see it now, it’s three in the morning.”
“Doesn’t matter! The important thing is that it has to be shown on television! The people who watch late-night anime will see it! And if we play it once, it’ll make it into the morning news! People will see it when they have their tea in the morning!”
Nanami spoke lightly of something that would anger the people who recorded late night anime.
“You’d better take responsibility for this.”
“Just say I forced you to do it! And if anyone complains, just whisper ‘the chief was arrested, and he sang like a canary, shouldn’t you be running now’!?”
Nanami turned to face the cameraman.
“Sunagawa-kun, we’re in this together! If anything bad happens, then my apologies. I can’t pay you much, but I’ll try and meet your requests as best I can, so please forgive me!
“No need to promise that, Nanami! Besides, I’m just a lowly reporter too. So how about letting me make a lewd tape of you!?
The cameraman brought his lens closer, like he wanted to lick Nanami’s arms and legs with it.
“Oi! Don’t tell me you’re going back on your word!?”
Nanami lightly knocked on the lens. The camera hit the cameraman in the face, and he wailed “gwaaaargh” before falling flat on his ass.
“Alright, let’s go, stand up! Take in everything around us, all 360 degrees! Broadcast what’s really happening in Japan! Add nothing and take nothing away, and pass no judgements! Send everything you see and hear! Don’t judge the morality of whatever you see. We’re here to collect footage. Let the audience debate about it! This is my way of journalism!”
Nanami shouted, “Let’s go!” and rushed in, trailing the cameraman behind her.

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