Saturday, January 13, 2018

Gate - Thus the JSDF Fought There! Volume 9 Chapter 6

Translator: Nigel
Editor:Deus Ex Machina

Kuribayashi Nanami was in Ginza, which was filled with flying rocks and angry shouts. She ducked her head to dodge the water cannons and thrown stones and ducked into the shadow of an abandoned car, shouting “I can’t believe this!” for the nth time today.
She had gone into the chaos of Ginza with her cameraman to look for a scoop, and she was shouting furiously into her mic, but for some reason, this disturbance did not seem to exist on the terrestrial broadcast and satellite news.
“Hey, what’s this!? What’s going on!?”
Nanami barked at a staff member from the news agency through her phone.
However, the reply filled her with despair.
“Apparently the chief handed down an order telling us not to broadcast anything related to Ginza, not to touch it, and not make a stink. We said that we couldn’t just let this be and refused to let go, but…”
“Why the hell does the news exist if we don’t report on things like this when they happen before our eyes!?”
The riot police had their shields braced as they kept the rioters from spilling over their containment lines. The rioters saw this and they became cocky, pelting Ginza with rocks and firebombs.
“So everything I’ve done it pointless!? Then I’m going back!”
“It’s not like that, just take as much footage as you can. Even if we don’t release it now, we’ll air it sooner or later!”
“What’s the point if we don’t report this now!?”
Nanami jammed her phone back into her pocket, and at the same time she recalled Komurasaki’s words.
The news had never conveyed the whole of the truth in their broadcasts. After all, the act of reporting was to package and reformat the facts.
The thing called news was something that was edited for someone’s benefit. That said, it was something which was only done when necessary, because they only had a limited time to finish their newscasts. But now, this editing mechanism was being used for another purpose. More to the point, it was being used to delete news that was harmful to certain people.
Nanami turned to the pressman hiding behind a car with her, a familiar face from a different company.
“What’s the duty of a reporter!?”
“What do you mean, Nanami? Why are you asking that question now!?”
Komurasaki answered.
He was one of the media personnel who had rushed over after hearing about the Ginza disturbance.
“We might not be able to use the footage we’ve worked so hard to collect. Komurasaki, doesn’t that make you depressed?”
“I’m used to this sort of thing. If you want the pictures you take to be used, then just read the mood and take them!”
“But this is wrong!”
Nanami used the sound of her gritted teeth to hold back the unhappiness welling up within her.
“Oi, ah, film the foreigner being dragged away by that riot cop.”
Komurasaki told the cameraman to record a riot police officer taking a rioter away. Perhaps the riot cop was angry, because he was a little rough on the captive. This image was perfect for making viewers think that the police were using excessive force and of police brutality.
“Guh, then I’ll… Sunagawa-kun, film that.”
Nanami shouted, directing the cameraman to film an isolated riot cop being gang-beaten by a group of foreign rioters. If this was reported, it would leave an impression of the riot’s savagery in the audience’s hearts. In that way, people would think that it was natural for the riot police to step up and quell the violence.
“Alright, we’ll go get opinions from the foreigners in the Ginza Garrison.”
Komurasaki stood up in order to look for a more docile-seeming Caucasian man sitting on the ground, while Nanami went in the opposite direction.
“Let’s interview the tourists and shoppers who got wrapped up in this.”
To that, the cameraman replied:
“Nanami, that’s no good. None of that footage will be usable!”
“I believe that the media has an obligation to fulfil. There ought to be rules on what one reports! Since we know that we’re using public airwaves, we shouldn’t think that we can do anything for the sake of work, just to make a quick buck!”
However, Sunagawa the cameraman cooled Nanami back down.
“Nanami, your dislike for Komurasaki is making you biased! If you want to report the truth, then you need to cover both sides evenly!”
Nanami felt like she had been punched in the head.

After leaving the Prime Minister’s residence, Kanou rejected the car that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had sent over for him and said, “Natsume, a word with you, please,” before boarding the car of the Minister of Defense.
“What’s wrong? Not going back to Foreign Affairs?”
Natsume had a stiff look on his face, and his tone sounded like he was trying to chase Kanou away. However, Kanou simply moved behind Natsume and took a seat on the side.
“I have to hand it to them.”
“Well, don’t just hand it to them. What are we going to do next?”
“I didn’t expect Morita to be so cowardly.”
Unable to bear the pressure of his duties, Morita had begun talking about handing the management of the Gate over to the UNSC.
Of course, the Cabinet had united to stop him. Defense Minister Natsume was particularly forceful in his opposition.
“What’ll happen to our country’s well-being if the UNSC gains control of the Gate?”
“Well, we’ll at least get something out of it. And if the UNSC takes over, we won’t have to worry about what happens after that, so that’s a small plus.”
“Even if we wash our hands of the Special Region’s problems this way, what about the problems with China? Do you think China will just back down like that? Once they’ve seen how timid we are, they’ll probably send naval vessels to the Senkaku Islands or capture fishing boats, or worse, they might actually send men ashore! Do you think that’s a good thing!?”
“As if. But if we take direct action here, what about the Japanese businessmen being held hostage? They’ll say we left them to die. Our approval ratings have been low already; if we do that, we’ll be finished. We’ll be slaughtered at the polls.”
“Pull yourself together, Prime Minister! If that happens, then just condemn them for taking our people hostage! Why the hell do you have to go along with them!”
“Then how about the rare earth custom clearance procedures? All the companies are crying to us about the inflating yen. It’s the same with the Senkaku Islands, if a war breaks out, there’ll be a lot of casualties. It’s okay if we win, but what if we lose!?”
“Certainly, we might lose a lot of lives if there’s fighting. However, we need to let them know that they will pay a bloody price for every inch of soil they take from us. If not, how will Japan maintain her independence and dignity in the future? You could stand to learn from Finland in World War 2. The Soviets thought they could conquer them easily and attacked, but instead they lost millions of people. The Soviets won, but they knew not to look down on Finland. Therefore, that country never went through what the Baltic States did, and remained independent.”
“You may say that, but I can’t make such a decision.”
“The international community is just like grade school and middle school. Got it? The teachers as represented by the UN are incompetent idealists. Therefore, the classroom is ruled by power and numbers. What do you think happens to a kid who’s looked down on by others in a place like that? They’ll be bullied and taken advantage of by everyone around them and become a laughingstock as well. Nobody will help them either. If you don’t want to be bullied, then you have to bite anyone who sticks their hand out at you and make them think that messing with you is more trouble than it’s worth. A nation can’t get by with love and closeness alone. You need to instil fear into their hearts for the sake of the people and the nation’s interests!”
However ー Morita adjusted his crooked glasses and hmphed by way of response.
“I dislike such violent solutions, Bullying and the like can be resolved by discussion.”
“Spoken like a useless teacher with no personal experience of such matters. Do you think your preferences can defend the nation!?”
“We’ll need to ask for America’s help after all. We’ll turn the problem of the Gate and the administration of the Special Region to the UNSC. Similarly, we’ll ask them to make China back off. If we can include the Senkaku islands as a peacekeeping treaty item, they’ll surely be able to keep China in check.”
“Please don’t. Please, do not do this. Where can you find a nation that will help a country without the will to protect itself!?”
“Defense Minister Natsume. This is my opinion as Prime Minister. If you are opposed to it, then I must let you go. Is that acceptable?”
“Prime Minister, don’t be so hasty.”
While Natsume was still trying to persuade him, Morita had already solidified his position.
“I know about myself! This is a decision made after calmly considering Japan’s situation!”
After that, Kanou spoke up:
“Prime Minister Morita, I hope you will wait a little longer. Please consider that a last resort; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will also try to see if there’s something we can do. Therefore…”
“I understand. Yes, let’s wait until tomorrow, then. However, if there’s no solution, I’ll proceed with the course of action I outlined just now. Is that acceptable? That will be the decision of this Cabinet.”
Morita glared at Natsume as he added, “Got it?”

As the minister’s car left Nagata-cho behind, Natsume looked up towards a lighted window and sighed. Perhaps man was a creature which surpassed anger only to find hollow depression beyond it.
“Why did a man like that become our Prime Minister?”
“Well, in our nation, the people who finish their work without making waves are looked upon favorably by the bosses and are promoted to a high position, And the position of party leader is filled after considering everyone’s gains and drawbacks. That leaves people who want to settle problems amicably and duck responsibility. So the only people they can draw on aren’t suitable to be leaders.”
“Do you consider me a violent man?”
“I don’t think so. While one might think Morita’s solution places safety and the preservation of human life first, the result will make many more people suffer. If we showed right now that we are willing to shed blood to protect ourselves, we’d end up losing less people instead. In this world, it’s the half-baked and the peace-lovers who cause most of the tragedies, ironically enough. Even when the Nazis were overrunning Europe, the US and the UK simply sat back and watched. As a result, the war grew bigger and more people were killed. If they had stopped Hitler earlier, fewer lives would have been lost.”
“I think so too. Although, I also feel that saying ‘if we did X, then it would have been Y’ is a very dangerous way of thinking.”
“And now, our problem is China.”
“Mm. China’s already begun to challenge us with ‘unrestricted warfare’.”
“What’s that?”
It would seem this was the first time Kanou had heard of such a thing, and he requested an explanation.
“It’s a new conceptualization of warfare put forward by two colonels in the PLA, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, which states that every aspect of society should become a battlefield. According to them, war is not waged purely through military means, but by expanding the theater of battle to encompass every aspect of life. For instance, mounting media offensives, conducting economic warfare through currency speculation, monopolizing resources, making the enemy doubt the rightness of their actions through psychological warfare, computer virus attacks…”
“I see… very well done. However, can you really divide all these systems up and then wage war on them? You’d need to build your strategy on an assumption of coordinated action and then employ the various strategies that you’d need.”
“Yes. Also, since it’s based on Mao Zedong’s thinking, where one fights using the resources and weapons of the enemy, as the defenders we are forced to fight our comrades, who have been used by the enemy. We need to solve the problem where we’re forced to fight a war of attrition against our own people.”
“I have to hand it to them.”
Kanou looked to the air and sighed.
“Handing the Special Region to the UNSC is part of their plan, I’m sure. They’re trying to weaken us on multiple levels.”
“But Morita doesn’t understand that. He’s already decided to give up.”
Both Natsume and Kanou fell silent.
They looked out at the night-time scenery, and then Natsume quietly said:
“Kanou, do you think Miss Lelei is still in the Special Region?”
“Yes. I’ve got no basis for that, but in manga terms, it would be something like, ‘that’s what my soul (ghost) is whispering to me’.”
Saying so, Kanou pointed at his head with a confident look on his face.
“You recommended me that manga, didn’t you, Kanou? I read it. It was by Shirow Masamune, right?”
Perhaps he was embarrassed because someone else knew the origin of that line, but Kanou ducked his head like a child whose pranks had been discovered.
“Kanou-san. I can’t help you if you tell the Cabinet that sort of thing. Regretfully, I have no cards to play at times like these. But you’re not the same, are you?”
“Me? What cards would I have to play? I’m an upright politician, you know. Do you want me to take out an ad for a giant tractor or something?”
“No, no, not that far. Even if you don’t hire a legendary assassins, I’m sure you know someone who can handle the weighty task of  making contact with the Special Region Expeditionary Force and rescuing Lelei-san ー a personal friend, in fact.”
“If you’re talking about him, wouldn’t he fall under your purview, Minister of Defense? You can use the SFGp, right?”
“But the Prime Minister would find out. He might be an airhead, but I’m pretty sure he’s got an eye on my movements.”
Kanou went “tch” and acknowledged the truth of Natsume’s words.
“You’re probably right that he’d be willing to do it. And we can guarantee his safety as a bargaining chip. Alright, I understand. I’ll try and talk him into it. At the same time, you have to help me with the cleanup. At least go through the formalities of preparing so he won’t have a hard time after he’s done. It would be too much to push the responsibilities we have to bear onto him as well.”
“What should I do?”
“Start by writing an order to the Special Region Expeditionary Force. Put your chop as the Minister of Defense on it. It’s nothing much, it won’t defy the Cabinet’s will, so don’t worry. After all, Morita says he’s handing it over to the UNSC tomorrow, so going our own way until then should be fine.”
Kanou handed Natsume a piece of paper.
Natsume received the paper, then took out a fountain pen and began contemplating the paper’s contents.
“Just write ‘I permit you to do anything you can think of which is necessary to safeguard our nation’s interests’, that should do.”
“But what happens after that?”
“All will be well as long as we can topple Morita from the Prime Minister’s chair by tomorrow morning. Tonight, I’ll persuade the entire Cabinet to tender their resignations. Surely Morita won’t be able to handle all the ministerial positions at once. We’ll use that to force him to quit.”
It had been stated so succinctly that Natsume took several seconds to understand the meaning within those words.
If they ousted the Prime Minister at a time like this, he would be replaced by an interim leader. There was no good in becoming Prime Minister at a time like this.
“Wait, hang on a bit, the elections aren’t long off; are you planning to become the Prime Minister?”
Natsume’s face hardened, like he had witnessed a friend expressing his desire to kill himself.
“Better than letting him do it. If being chosen to lead the Cabinet is necessary for Japan to survive, then I’ll put all my effort into it. Isn’t that what it means to be a politician?”
“But think of all the hard work you’ve put in until now! Your political life will be over!”
“The men in uniform have already put their lives on the line. We need to match them in order to be fair. Personally, I don’t think a political career is worth as much as a human life.”
Kanou declared: “This is our battle, as politicians. I’m going all-in, Natsume,” and his eyes sparkled.

Zorzal’s Imperial Army had been fighting with the legitimate government’s army for half a day now, but both forces were still stalemated.
Shortly after the sun set, it became a night battle fought by the light of torches and the moon.
Since there was no decisive advantage to exploit on either side, both armies simply smashed into each other over and over again.
They pulled back their tired and wounded men, then committed fresh troops into the fray. They patiently continued this battle of attrition.
However, this was nothing but a dilemma for Pina’s outnumbered forces.
“Battlegroup Dozzel can’t hold on any longer!”
“Battlegroup Mason’s requesting a temporary withdrawal!”
The messenger horses brought these mournful notifications whenever they arrived
Pina desperately thought of how to keep the fraying lines from collapsing.
However, the faster the damage spread, the more difficult it would be to commit the reserves into the battle. That would make the troops at the frontline fatigue faster and which would result in them being crushed by emboldened enemy, which would further increase the damage to their lines, in a vicious cycle.
The command staff girls were bandaging Beefeater’s arms by torchlight. Perhaps Beefeater’s crude curse came from the fact that she could no longer bear to see Pina holding back her anger, and the girls tending to her wrinkled their brows.
“Beefeater-sama, that’s not very refined.”
“I know, I know, assuming I survive this battle, I’ll pay more attention to my conduct.”
She might be doing a man’s job, but people would doubt her character if she imitated a man’s crudities as well, the girls admonished. However, it was also a fact that such an outburst suited her nature surprisingly well.
“Bozes! I’m heading out again! That ought to improve things, so go consolidate our people in the meantime and send them out once more.”
Beefeater pulled out the lance she had stuck into the ground, then flicked it through the air to clear the dirt from its tip.
“Wait. This is your sixth time already!”
“Doesn’t matter if it’s my seventh or eighth time, if I can fight, then I have to fight. After all, I want to complain to my man, ‘I fought so hard, what took you so long?’”
Covered in battle damage, Beefeater turned back to regard her subordinate knights.
“Seems like nobody’s saying no even now.”
None of them were hurt. All of them nodded at their commander’s words. That was because they were all experienced warriors.
“Toy soldiers that you put on a shelf are worthless. I like the look on your faces, it puts me at ease. Let’s pep the men up! Show them that they’d better fight like hell if they want the girls to fall for them! Same goes for you lot, if you see a good man, don’t hesitate and take him for your own! After all, it’ll be too late for that once you’re dead! Scattering the petals of love is a woman’s way of doing things, isn’t it!?”
With that, Beefeater spurred her horse on with a cry of “Then let’s go!” and charged out in a flash.
The banner of the White Rose gleamed, and everyone watched as she faded into the night. Perhaps she had thought of something as she saw Beefeater leave, but Bozes turned around as well.
“I’m going too.”
“Bozes-sama! Your bodyー”
The attendants moved up as one to stop her, but Bozes shook her head.
“How can I tell my unborn child that I was waiting in the rear while everyone was fighting because I was worried about my body? The baby that Tomita and I made won’t be harmed by this much! ”
Bathed in Bozes’ majestic gaze, the command staff girls shrank away from her.
“Now then, the knights of the Yellow Rose will be sallying forth as well. With me!”
Even Bozes’ unit had deployed. They raised their swords as they charged into the chaotic battlefield.
The flowers around Pina were slowly dwindling in number.
Amidst this desolate sight, all Pina could do was array the Red Rose Knights behind her as she stared out at the battlefield.
Hamilton stood up in her saddle, her hands firmly grasping her reins, and she looked into the distance. However, there was nothing to be seen in the darkness of the night even if she squinted into the distance.
“They’re not here yet.”
“No! Don’t look into the distance, you should be looking straight ahead.”
Upon hearing that, Hamilton thudded down onto her saddle like the strength had left her body.
The horse took the force of her sudden impact. Hamilton gently caressed her horse’s face and whispered, “sorry I scared you” before tugging on her reins to bring her next to Pina.
“Hamilton… switch out with the second line troops so they can rest and eat. Tell them to stay in formation as they consume their rations.”
The messenger rider shouted, “Odd-numbered units are to rest! Lying down is permitted! Rations to be distributed forthwith!” as he rode from the frontline.
The soldiers on his side were seated in scattered clumps, several hundred meters behind the place where their comrades were bleeding and dying. After that, they were issued water and food, and the men stood, sat or lay down as they ate and drank, filling their bellies for the fighting to come.

“I have to hand it to Pina-denka. She’s a tough nut to crack. I didn’t expect her to fight this hard…”
As Zorzal’s commander, General Helm felt that Pina’s formation was very solid. He was not so much awed as speechless. He admitted that Pina was not simply a princess and the founder of a knight order, but a formidable foe that he ought to have accorded the appropriate respect.
Helm had taken various measures to shake the opposition.
He had led the charge with those demihumans that had ferocious pushing power to punch small holes in the battle line, then pretended to send his main forces into the gap to make his foe waver, and he had also conducted fake retreats to cause havoc in the enemy formation.
Even so, Pina’s defenses were still sturdy and immovable, perhaps even a little sluggish.
He saw how Dozzel and Mason’s units were pulling back and had concluded that this was the time to strike a decisive blow. Thus, he sounded a charge at the enemy’s headquarters, only to have his offensive crushed and scattered by a pincer maneuver from Beefeater’s and Bozes’ knights. He could not help but sigh about how he had let his people down.
In order to lighten the mood, Karasta said:
“Rather than be saddened for your men, you ought to praise her Highness for anticipating this development and smartly defeating it. To think she would even send out Bozes, her right-hand woman.”
It’s hard to believe she’s an Imperial Princess who spent all her time in the palace, Helm’s staff officers mused.
“What on earth happened to her Highness that made her grow like this?”
Naturally, it was the difficulties she had encountered which had made her grow. But to Helm and the others, who did not know what Pina had been through, it seemed as though Pina had become a different person overnight.
“We’ve had a hard time all this while. Nobody can match us in combat experience!”
“We have the advantage in numbers too. No need for petty tricks; if we keep fighting like this, we’re sure to win.”
Just as Mutra and Karasta had said, Pina’s losses would accumulate over time, and if they continued fighting, her fighting strength would reach zero first. That was why they had the luxury of complementing Pina’s growth.
However, Zorzal could not calm down after listening to the three generals’ words. He bit his nails and said:
“We’ll be in trouble if we’re too optimistic. After all, time is our enemy.”
The three generals bowed courteously to Zorzal, indicating that he need not worry.
“The reason why Pina-denka chose a disadvantageous field battle is plainly evident. She wants to use herself as bait to keep us here before reinforcements arrive.”
“As long as you know. This precious time was bought with the lives of our men, so don’t waste it. Same goes for you… Bouro.”
From where he was crouching in the shadows, Bouro said, “I’ve gathered the full strength of the Haryo for this attack. We shall soon be able to give you good news, your Highness,” as he scraped his head across the ground.

Within Formal Manor, the battle maids were each having a hard time fighting against the enemy.
That was because their opponents’ numbers far exceeded the usual for such stealth operations.
Persia and the seven sentries with her were set over the main gate of the manor, and they were startled by the number of enemies that had showed up.
"Nya? Twenty men?"
If that was the full force the enemy had sent over, and if the battle would end once they were finished off, then there would be no problem. However, over five alarm whistles came from various parts of the manor, which showed that what they could see was only part of the enemy force.
If there were similar numbers in all those other locations, that would mean there were over 100 enemies attacking them.
“Well, that’s the Empire for you. To think they had so many spies…”
Mamina had to honestly congratulate the amount of force the enemy could bring to bear.
Although House Formal’s fortunes had risen recently, they did not have more than 50 battle maids who could fight like this.
Of course, the portions of the Count’s estate that had been allocated to the demihumans contained enough trained youths and reserve fighting strength to number a hundred people. However, that was the full manpower they could muster without consideration for sustainable fighting.
It would be committing the instructors and the students from the fighting academies into the fray, in addition to their mainline combat units. Once they were lost, they would not be able to replenish their fighting strength for a long time.
And of course, Zorzal had sent over a hundred people over.
The shadow battles they had fought until now had caused quite a lot of damage, and now they were being fought on such a large scale. The Haryo who fought Zorzal’s covert actions for him were a mysterious organization; perhaps they were a bigger group than expected.
Since the enemy had an overwhelming advantage in numbers, they would have to sell their lives dearly. Even if they could not hold out against the foe, they had to reduce the enemy numbers by as much as they could. The first part of that was turning this into a melee.
“Got it. Two for one, the usual allocation. So the three of us need to take out six of them, am I right?”
And in turn, they would probably all be killed. That was a very likely outcome.
“Kurata, sorry ~nya.”
She apologized to the man she had started seeing recently, who she would never see again.
If she had known things would be like this, then she ought to have started dating him much much much sooner and had a good time with him. She had thought that human males would never court a Catperson in earnest ー perhaps that timidity of hers had been a mistake.
The battle began.
Soon, both sides pressed close to each other, and countless throwing knives filled the air. They evaded the thrown blades and slashed at each other with daggers once they met the opposition.
Keen claws ran over her body, shredding her maid uniform and baring her flesh, but in exchange, she brought down an enemy. She turned to take on a second foe, but Persia saw her opponents slinking into the manor depths like they were fleeing battle.
The spear-armed sentry seemed to be having trouble dealing with just one of the enemy, and the others slipped past him.
The enemy had no intention of fighting. Instead, they rushed single-mindedly into the manor.

Persia whistled for help and handed the manor front to the sentries before she began tracking them. Eventually, the battle maids positioned within the manor house heard the whistling and ran over.
“Tracker squad with me ~nya! The rest of you tighten up the defense on the main door ~nya!”
Persia hunted down the gradually dwindling enemy numbers. There were only two young fighters left among the enemy. Surely they did not think that two people would be enough to defeat Persia and the others. In that case, they must be trying to delay them.
“This is bad ~nya.”
From what Persia and the others could see, the two people left to block them were two young female Beastmen.
They were probably 14 or 15? Were they canine or feline? It was hard to tell what race they were given their mixed heritage. They ran at Persia and the others with no regard for their own lives.
They attacked without reserve, as though what happened to them was not an issue.
“You idiots ~nya!”
Their blade skills were unrefined, and their blows lacked force. They were bold, which put the surrounding maids on the back foot, but someone like Persia could see through her enemies’ movements. She casually evaded the points of their weapons, hacked off their weapon arms, and stabbed their vitals with her own blade.
Even so, the young Beastwomen still came at Persia. Even if they could not beat her, they wanted to slow Persia down.
Persia shoved them aside, and this time they latched onto the hem of her maid uniform and refused to let go. They died with their teeth sunk into Persia’s clothes.
Persia clicked her tongue at the unexpected delay and pulled out her dirk.
She tore off the enemy, then cut off the large swathes of fabric that could no longer serve as clothing and cast it aside.
Persia set off against the enemy once more, the pads of her feline carnivore’s feet showing as she ran after the opposition.
However, Mamina called out a warning from where she was running behind Persia.
“Uwaaaahhh, Persia, that’s lewd, that’s really lewd!”
The contents of Persia’s skirt were practically exposed as she ran.
Persia wore a pair of lace stockings on her legs, as well as several dagger sheathes that were usually not visible. And of course, one could not leave out the almost fully-exposed area around the base of her slender tail.
“It, it can’t be helped ~nya!”
Embarrassed, Persia hurriedly pressed down the region of her skirt near her butt. As a result, that slightly slowed down her pursuit of the enemy.
However, Mamina spoke again:
“You’ll never hear the end of it if the Head Maid sees this.”
The Head Maid was the sort of person who would go “how unsightly” when she saw someone wiping their sweat. If she saw how Persia was dressed, she would probably nag Persia for a couple of days or more.
Even more embarrassed now, Persia pulled down the hem of her skirt more forcefully. But the cut-up fabric would not extend.
Perhaps she felt sorry Persia, but Mamina said:
“S-still, I think Kurata would be very happy to see this.”
Mamina mentioned the name of the human male that Persia had started seeing recently.
But Persia replied, “He won’t ~nya.”
Persia’s feline instincts told her that Kurata liked modest girls. After all, Kurata had approached Persia because he was enthralled by her long-skirted maid’s outfit.
“If he sees me like this, he’ll dislike me ~nya.”
As she realized this, Persia’s footsteps grew slower and slower.
And so, this was how the enemy managed to use young foes to delay the opposition.

After Komakado contacted the hospital director and received permission from him, as well as Kurokawa, Tuka and the others were allowed to spend the night in Itami’s room. That said, Tuka and Itami sharing a bed was immoral and would never be allowed, so the bed was given to Tuka and Kuribayashi, while Itami and Tomita had to make do with mattresses from the storage shed.
“Ehhhhhh! Do I have to sleep on the el-tee’s bed…”
However, Kuribayashi was not happy with the bed, and so she complained.
Most ladies were quite sensitive to sleeping on a bed that a man had used before. Of course, the linens and mattress were clean; she was simply complaining in an exaggerated way about its previous occupant.
Although everyone else felt that Kuribayashi had nerves of steel, they all felt that she was being oversensitive.
“You don’t have a problem sleeping on the ground, what a weirdo.”
As she heard Itami sneak a dig in at her, Kuribayashi grumbled like an upset cat.
“I feel a different way compared to when we’re sleeping in the field!”
However, Kurokawa had an indignant look on her face as she addressed Kuribayashi.
“What kind of decadence is this? Are you saying you want  Tuka to sleep with the el-tee while you sleep with Tomita? Hospitals aren’t hostels you visit with your friends and neither are they hotels! I’ll give you a change of clothes, so make do.”
As Kurokawa complained, she changed the bedsheets. In an instant, the bed was neatly made, its corners as sharp as a ream of PPC copy paper.
Kuribayashi had already changed the pillowcase and hugged it to her massive chest. Tuka looked forward to the end of Kurokawa’s labors.
In the end, Kurokawa finished, so all that was left was to put down the pillow. Just then, Tuka cheered “Woohoo! I’m first!” and suddenly burrowed under the covers.
There was some fumbling under the sheets, and then her stockings and underwear and blouse flew out one after the other.
Kuribayashi backed away at this sudden development, but once she realized what was going on, she scolded Tuka:
“Wait, wait a minute, Tuka! What are you doing!?”
“Getting ready to sleep, of course!”
Only Tuka’s face was showing from under the covers, and she had a placid, bemused expression on her face as she replied. The lines of her neck and shoulders peeked out from under the covers, gleaming as though she had just been born.
“But, butbutbutbutbut, but! Why do you have to strip naked!?”
“Because I’m going to sleep, of course, isn’t that obvious!?”
Kuribayashi gathered up the clothing and underclothing which Tuka had tossed out so the men would not see.
“What, what, what do you mean by obvious!? It’s not obvious at all!”
However it would seem the elf maiden truly did not fathom the reason for that. She had a puzzled look on her face as she said, “But clearly you’d take off your clothes when you can sleep under covers.”
“I do that all the time… is something the matter?”
“The el-tee and Tomita and the MP are all here! You’re being too careless!”
Tuka tilted her head and asked, “What’s wrong with that?”
She did not seem to fathom why Kuribayashi was so worked up. Moreover, as she saw Kuribayashi about to go to bed without changing, she muttered, “it’s not like this is a nap, how weird.”
“Let’s leave that aside for now and go to sleep. I’m tired from being chased all day.”
Tuka grabbed Kuribayashi’s hand and pulled her into the bed.
“Hold, hold on, Tuka! ...Hang on a bit, eh, don’t tell me my virginity’s in danger!?”
“What are you saying? How could that subject come up when it’s just girls sharing a bed?”
“That’s because your hand ー ah, Tuka, don’t touch there!”
“Ohhhhhh, your boobs are huge, Shino! They’re too big for one hand and really bouncy!”
As the two of them kicked up a fuss, Tomita could not hide the look of vexation on his face.
“El, el-tee… what are the two of them doing?”
“Don’t imagine it. You won’t be able to sleep if you get turned on.”
“Still, shouldn’t we stop them?”
“It’ll be fine. It’s not as though anything will happen if we leave them. They’ll cool off by themselves. Tuka falls asleep easily.”
Just as Itami said, after Kuribayashi abandoned her resistance, the noisy bed immediately quieted down. That was because the Elf maiden had lain down and gone to sleep in short order.
“She, she really fell asleep.”
If one listened closely, one could even hear the sound of her breathing.
“Alright, let’s turn in.”
Itami pulled the covers over himself as well.
Kurokawa administered an icepack to Tomita’s bruises, and then said:
“Everyone, please behave. If I hear any commotion, I’ll sew your mouths up. I’ll also sew your eyelids shut so you can dream more easily. Anyone interested?”
“Eh, no, no need for that. Don’t worry about it.”
“Then please keep yourselves quiet. I want a silent night. I hope to be able to inform the morning shift of the peaceful night we had. If anyone disturbs me, well, that’ll be the cause for something interesting. Ah yes, how about 18G syringe therapy? I’m sure it’ll work wonders on shoulder pains, backaches, nerve pains and various other symptoms.”
Kurokawa gestured with her hands to show them the size of an 18G syringe. After verifying the look of fear in Itami and Tomita’s eyes, she strode away, her nurse’s shoes making noise as she walked over the vinyl flooring.
After that, the silence was like the kind one would find in the wake of a patrolling teacher during a class trip. There was the sound of clothes rustling and someone turning over in the dim room.
Kuribayashi’s whimper broke the silence.
“El-tee, Tuka…”
“She’s playful, right? It’s not just the rumors which say she’ll go after both men and women, she even said so from her own mouth. Well, that’s how it is. You’re just going to be her pillow, so don’t worry.”
“Alright. Please tell Kuro-chan she was just treating me as her bolster and not to worry. Still, how did you know all this, el-tee?”
“...Eh, there’s reasons for it.”
“Now that you mention it, you were sleeping with Tuka all that time she wasn’t right in the head. That’s how you knew about Tuka using people as hug pillows. And you’re not surprised by her habit of sleeping in the nude… don’t tell me…”
“It, it, it couldn’t be helped!”
“El-tee, don’t tell me… the two of you did it?”
“How could we? She was treating me as her father, how could I live with myself if our relationship ended up that way!”
“Really? At that time, you would have given in if Tuka had been more forceful, right? I have to hand it to you, being able to endure having a completely naked Tuka hugging you. You know, when I’m this close to her, Tuka really does look super pretty. Her skin’s smooth, without any bags or folds, her hair is sleek and shiny, and anyone would envy her proportions. And they all came together in a perfect combination… do you know what it was like for me just now? Tuka wasn’t just hugging me tightly, but she even locked her legs around me…”
So I couldn’t even turn over, Kuribayashi muttered.
“It was the same for me back then.”
“As I thought.”
After that, Tomita ー who had been listening quietly to the exchange all this time ー asked a question.
“Could you please tell me the secret of how you could bear with it in a situation like that…”
While hardly anyone abided by it any more, the personnel of the Special Region Expeditionary Force had still been ordered not to fraternize with the females of the Special Region. Tomita was the first to violate that order. One could say that Tomita represented all the men who would not be able to endure it.
Itami puffed himself up and replied:
“Well now. The desire to live up to the other person’s trust makes your will strong. While it is difficult to hold out until morning, if you succeed in doing so, you’ll gain self-confidence.”
“You say that, but surely you did something right, el-tee?”
“No, not at all.”
Things being what they were now, Itami felt that the situation back then had been handled well.
If he had done anything weird, it would have driven a wedge between himself and Tuka, and they would not have been able to maintain the trust between each other.
“While I think that’s worthy of praise, I can’t help but worry myself, El-tee, are you not interested in the female body?”
He’s an otaku after all, only 2D women turn him on, Kuribayashi jabbed.
“Let me put this out there first, I may be a divorcee, but I had a wife once! Plus, I’m actually experienced (combat-proven). I’m not a man who’s all talk.”
“What do you mean experienced? I’d laugh if your wife left you because you made her do all sorts of cosplay.”
“Hell no!”
“Then why didn’t you do anything to Tuka?”
“I feel that if both parties are in the mood, they’ll do stuff like that. But back then, Tuka wasn’t holding me because she was in the mood. It was a bit like how the man she loved didn’t like her, so she clung to another man out of loneliness. She wasn’t even asking for anything in exchange. That’s when I knew I couldn’t touch her. For all I knew, Tuka might have had a memory of ‘doing it with her dad’ or something.”
After that, Kuribayashi turned to face Itami.
“Isn’t it uncomfortable to have Tuka hug you in the nude? Don’t you think she’s very feminine?”
“How rude! She was super hot today and really feminine! I’ve been turned on ever since I saw her face!”
“Why, why are you saying perverted things like that so proudly!?”
“She’d be more moe if she wore lewder clothing like in cosplay.”
Tomita butted in halfway, and Itami replied that she was cute enough in daily life.
Kuribayashi summed up by saying she did not want to hear about such lewd topics any more.
“In any case! Please tell Tuka that sort of thing to her face. After all, she’s going to worry when she comes at you completely naked and you have those weird thoughts in your head.”
“She’s going to be worried?”
“Won’t she!? Of course she’s going to wonder why the man she likes doesn’t do anything to her when she bares herself to him. She’ll think, ‘why is this happening, what’s going on, am I not charming enough, don’t tell me he’s not interested in this sort of thing’, that’s how a girl’s heart works.”
“There’s no need to worry about that.”
“Girls pay a lot of attention to where men are looking, and whether or not they’re treated as girls…”
“I see.”
“In any case, please look at Tuka. It’s proabbly not be the same as before, but right now, Tuka’s very serious about you, el-tee.”
As Itami thought, why is Kuribayashi saying all this, he replied, “Yes, yes” over and over again.
However, the conversation did not end there… his cell phone vibrated.
Kuribayashi and Tomita quietly sat up and checked their phones. After verifying that it was not for them, they looked at Itami.
“Eh? Mine?”
“Ah, is that it… who could it be, seriously…”
He could not reach it from where he was lying on the ground, so Itami rose with an unhappy look on his face to take the phone from the headboards of his bed. However, when he saw the LCD display show the words “His Excellency Taro”, he went “Eh” and nearly fumbled the phone. Then he accepted the call and placed the phone to his ear.
“Hello, this is Itami. What’s up, why are you calling at a time like this? Mm, I was sleeping. But I’ve had enough sleep for a lifetime, so I’m fine. Mm. Uh, eh!? Can you say that again!? Eh, how could that be, are you kidding me? S-seriously? But how did that happen!? Understood. In any case, I’ll do it as fast as possible. Okay, okay.”
Itami stared at the phone for a while. Perhaps the call had ended.
After that, he pressed a few keys on the phone and brought it back up to his ear.
“Lieutenant Itami. Using phones in the ward is…”
Itami gestured to MP A to wait, and then he pressed the keys again.
Then he held the phone up to his ear, awaiting the other person’s response.
However, there was no conversation after 30 seconds, and so he closed his phone.
Itami turned to the MP who was staring at him and laughed, “heh heh heh”.
“What, what’s going on?”
Perhaps he was afraid, but MP A turned his shotgun on Itami.
“Hm~ ...what shall I do now.”
Itami tilted his head to look at the ceiling. There was a camera in his room. The red LED light indicating that it was on blinked.
“What’s happening?”
Even Kuribayashi was puzzled, and she asked Itami what was going on.
Itami fell silent for a while, and then he suddenly jerked his head back and shouted, “Oi, Tuka.”
“Ah, what is it?”
And then Tuka responded. She did not look like she was asleep; she raised her head immediately upon being called.
“Come over here for a bit.”
“Er, hang on… my clothes...”
Tuka reached for the blanket Kuribayashi handed her, but Itami grabbed her hand and pulled her over, then embraced her.
“This is fine. Besides, you’ll be taking them off anyway.”
“Eh? Ehhhhh!?”
Itami grunted as he lifted Tuka ー still swaddled in the blanket ー in a princess carry.
“Hang on, el-tee!?” Kuribayashi had a surprised look on her face and froze in the middle of a strange movement.
As Itami scooped her up, Tuka went “Uwaaahhh~”
“So you were pretending to be asleep after all, huh?”
“You, you knew!?”
“My ears have always been good. And I know that when you’re really sleeping, you don’t go huuu~ but sss~ sss~.”
“El-el-tee, what are you doing all of a sudden?”
“Lieutenant Itami. What on earth are you up to, sir!?”
Kuribayashi and Tomita called out to him, and MP A ー who essentially never moved from his position ー walked up in front of Itami with a pale face.
However, Itami paid the three of them no heed as he spoke to himself.
“If you were worried about what I thought, then why not ask me directly?”
“I, I was embarrassed. And, ah, I wanted to see how you felt about me, so I asked Shino.”
“Didn’t you know?”
“How would I know? I won’t know unless you tell me clearly!”
“Ah, what am I going to do with you. Then I’ll make you understand…”
Saying so, Itami dumped Tuka on the bed, and then got on top of her like he was trying to press her beneath him.
“Oi, what are you doing!?”
As the MP addressed him, Itami turned to face the man and finally answered:
“I’m thinking about whether I want to do anything lewd with Tuka… would you three mind stepping outside for a bit?”
“How could I do that!? My, my, my job is to keep an eye on you, sir.”
“You say that, but the truth is, you want to watch, right? I’m sure of it, you want to watch, just look at that lecherous expression on your face.”
“How rude! Please don’t do anything weird here, sir!”
“Well, that’s what he said… shall we stop, Tuka? Or do you not mind people watching?”
Itami studied Tuka’s face in the dim light. Tuka squirmed and evaded his gaze shyly, blushing red to the tips of her ears before quietly saying:
“I’ll do what you want, Youji…”
And then she buried her face in Itami’s neck.
“Then I’ll help myself.”
As they saw how serious the two of them looked, Kuribayashi and Tomita fled the ward like they had been ambushed by overwhelming numbers.
However, MP A froze in place and hesitated.
“No, I can’t. I have my duty… 2nd Lieutenant Itami, it’s not too late. Please reconsider!”
“No, I can’t. I might have a parasite inside me, so there’s no telling if I’ll survive until tomorrow. When I think about that, being seen or whatnot doesn’t matter any more.”
“But, but, but public indecency is a crime!”
“This ward is a private space, right? But you’re calling it public indecency… Don’t you think that’s a little unreasonable?”
“But, but, but, I’m here, you know? Also, Tuka-kun, are you really alright with this!?”
And then Tuka cheerfully replied:
“When the man a woman loves takes an interest in her, she’ll get aroused, right?”
The two of them began kissing passionately and they put on a show for MP A, as though to say “do you even want to see this” as their tongues met each other. Itami pushed Tuka to the bed and pinned her underneath him before fondling her pert, round breasts. Tuka looked at Itami in surprise for a moment, but then she smiled, and nodded to show her full approval.
Itami spoke quietly so the others would not hear.
“Here I come, Tuka.”
Itami reached a hand behind her back and put some strength into his fingertips, and Tuka looked like she was about to melt as she breathed, “come, then”. However, she turned away from the MP and said, “I can’t do it after all,” before looking pleadingly at MP A.
“I’m begging you. I don’t want people to see my first time. Please don’t look! Please!”
MP A’s boots clomped against the floor as he fled the room. The impact of Tuka saying, “please, it’s my first time” had triumphed over his sense of duty.
After Itami heard the door slam, he sighed deeply, still on top of Tuka.
“Haaaah. Let’s go, then. I used the same trick before, so I was a bit worried if it would work, but fortunately it all turned out for the best.”
“Mm. We’re alone together at last… come then.”
“Er, sorry… that’s not it. That’s not what I meant.”
“What do you mean, that’s not it!? What do you mean, that’s not what you meant!? And what did you mean by “I used the same trick before?” Did you do this with someone else!?”
“Nononono, that’s true, but not true at the same time. In any case, listen to me, Tuka. There’s problems with the Gate, and Taro-kakka called me…”
“Don’t try to change the subject. Who did you do it with!?”
“I’m saying, Lelei might have been kidnapped by someone.”
“What!? You did it with Lelei!”
And you just left me alone ー at some point, Tuka had begun pounding on Itami’s chest.
“That’s not it~! In any case, just calm down first! We need to get out of here, so please put your clothes on.”
Tuka glared at Itami, but soon she replied, “, got it,” and got dressed obediently.
Itami saw that she had no intention of covering up her fully nude body, and so he hurriedly blocked the ceiling camera with a towel.
”But don’t think it’s over! I’m going to have you explain everything to me!”
Itami replied, “I, I understand,” as Tuka pressed the issue.
For some reason, there seemed to be an aura of wrath spreading out from behind Tuka’s back.
“Things being what they are, can I count on help from the two… no, the three of you?”
Then, three heads leaned in through the window.
Kurokawa was on top, Tomita was on the middle and Kuribayashi was on the bottom. The three of them asked, “What should we do?” before looking at each other.
“I’m not too sure what’s going on, but if it’s for Lelei, I’m in,” Kuribayashi said.
“Same here,” Tomita replied.
“What am I going to do with you,” Kurokawa replied. “I’m in two, like the two below.”
“Who’s below?”
“The two of you, of course. Who else is there?”
She really is looking down on us, Tomita muttered as he looked up, but his voice was a bit louder than he had expected.

There was a commotion among the security guards.
As the rows of LCD displays suddenly began displaying AV images, the duty personnel gulped and leaned forward.
The high-definition camera meant that it could produce a bright image even in the dimly-lit room, and they could see everything going on inside.
Sadly, it was a black and white image, but that simply evoked a voyeuristic thrill from these men.
“Hey, isn’t this girl the same age as a high-schooler?”
“That bastard, he’s doing illegal crap again!”
“Arrest him! Arrest him!” the men shouted. Someone even began heading towards Itami’s room. However, one calm voice said, “Never mind,” and settled everybody else down.
“Look at her ears. She’s an Elf, so her age definitely isn’t what it appears to be.”
As part of their self-reflection for wrongfully arresting Itami, they had to learn about Itami and his companions. In addition, Rory, Tuka and Lelei had testified before the National Diet before, and what they had said was a matter of public record, and could be obtained.
“That black goth loli is over 900 years. Then there’s that  Tuka girl, she’s 160 years old. Although, Lelei-san is 16, so if he tried anything with her, we could give him a hard time…”
“It’s true,” the men said as they broke into a commotion.
“So she’s over 100 years old? Seriously? Amazing, she’s still so beautiful!”
“Don’t judge her by human standards. That’s how her race is. In human terms, she’d be a tenth of that age or something.”
“That means she’d be 16… and underage!”
“Ah, I’m so jealous! I’d go to the Special Region too if it meant I could meet girls like this!”
The camera had been positioned to cover the entire room. As a result, the bed was in the background. However, the security personnel tried to zoom in on it.
However, just as everyone thought the action was about to begin, Itami realized that the camera was there and used a towel to cover it up.
The men cursed the black screen before them.
“D-dammit! It stopped at such a good place!”
As the MPs muttered about that sort of thing between themselves, MP A ー who was supposed to be standing watch over Itami’s room ー returned to the guard post amidst resounding footsteps.
A sank down on a chair and everyone looked at him. Some of their gazes held pity, but on the whole, they were judgmental. Most of them were jealous because “They’re enjoying themselves because you abandoned your duty and came back, no?”
“Hey, isn’t this bad?”
“She begged me. She said, ‘it’s my first time, so please go’, so I couldn’t stay.”
MP A’s voice was vaguely angry as he delivered his breathless reply. At this everyone’s eyes went wide.
“What! Her first time!?”
“And there might be a parasite in that man’s body. If it chewed its way out, we’d have to kill him as well, so when I thought about it, I could understand why she felt that way regardless of the time or place. Don’t you think so too?”
The MPs considered Itami’s situation from the perspective of the duty given to them.
According to the reports given to them, Itami might not be able to live until tomorrow. There would be no guarantees of “after I’m discharged” or “We’ll talk about this later “. In a very literal sense, every day might be his last. Once again, this was all the information they had.
“If they don’t know when they might part for the last time…”
Since it might be their last goodbye, then it could not be helped ー they would have to let him off, in a form of warrior’s compassion. The men discussed the topic.
“Still, this does violate the rules of service.”
An old officer with a neatly-groomed uniform stood at the door.
“I received a report that something funny was happening at the observation ward… it would seem things have become quite prickly.”
“Yes, but…”
“I understand However, this something else entirely. Even under these circumstances, he might end up pulling something strange.”
“Then should we go back to observe? Right now?”
The MPs grew tense. As they looked at the blank screen, everyone felt that entering their ward now would be terribly insensitive.
However, what their chief said put everyone at ease.
“Well, in that case, then two hours later… yes. You are scheduled for a regular check-in two hours later Therefore, you will “return to their ward immediately’. Do you understand?”
“Ah, yes.”
Although he had told him to go back immediately, he was only scheduled to report in two hours later, which was a very subtle way of phrasing his intentions. The MPs felt that he had handled the matter very well.
MP A exited the guard room as ordered, but he deliberately chose to take the long way back.
He pointlessly strode down the hallways, went in and out of doors, and wandered aimlessly back and forth. It would seem that he was trying to take a full two hours to reach Itami’s room.

After successfully chasing away Itami’s shadow in the form of MP A, Itami and Tuka hid in a dumpster that he had asked Kurokawa to prepare. Then they added several folded layers of blankets on top of their heads before closing the lid over them.
This was how he asked Kurokawa to get Tuka and himself out of the Infectious Diseases block.
“What am I going to do with you. This is the only time I’m going to do this, you know.”
MP B, standing watch at the entrance to the block, called out to Kurokawa as he saw her approach.
“Cleaning at this time?”
“There’s no day or night when it comes to the patients. Especially when there’s filthy things to dispose. You need to take care of it right away.”
The emphasis on “filthy” meant that MP B did not try to pry into the matter. And so, Tomita and Kuribayashi walked past him.
“Ah, thanks for your hard work.”
“Where are you two going at this time?”
“Ahaha~ well, we saw something we shouldn’t have seen, so we were planning to go kill some time at a family restaurant.”
Neither Tomita nor Kuribayashi were under observation, so they had not been forbidden from leaving. It was just that MP B felt that it was a little late to be doing so. However, he could understand how they felt, and he looked on them sympathetically as they left.
Elsewhere, Itami and the others took the lift to the roof of the hospital.
“This is all I can do, the rest is up to you, el-tee. I don’t know what happened to Lelei, but I’ll be expecting an explanation and payment for this, so prepare yourself.
“I, I understand.”
The hospital was equipped for a fire with fire hoods and rappelling gear… including rope, belaying devices and the like. Itami’s plan was to escape the hospital with that equipment.
He took the crane arm out of the storage cabinet and secured the rope on it around Tuka’s waist. He stood on it as well, and lowered the two of them from the roof’s edge.
The two of them slowly descended with a creaking sound.
But for some reason, MP A appeared at the place where Itami was about to touch down.
“Oh no!”
The man with the shotgun in hand was probably walking around outside the building to kill time.
The emergency rappelling rope could not be stopped halfway. If this kept up, the two of them would land in front of the MP.
“Dammit, why did he have to show up at a place like this?”
A was caring for the two of them in his own way by killing his time in a place like this. However, to Itami and Tuka right now, he was nothing but an annoyance. And still, gravity continued pulling them mercilessly downwards.
MP A sensed something and turned around.
He swivelled his shotgun towards the source of the sound without any hesitation, looking carefully to see what had made it.
“...What the heck, it’s a cat.”
He saw a stray cat in front of him. It was a tabby tomcat.
These stray cats were half-raised on the leftovers of the hospital. The surroundings were hygienic and it was close by, and while this was not exactly a good thing, both the patients and staff were very compassionate and fed them, so they were unwilling to leave.
The cat looked suspiciously at the deadly weapon pointed its way, and went “myaaa”.
Man and beast stared each other down in silence, and tension filled the surrounding air.
A suddenly went “Bang! Kachunk! Bang! Kachunk! Bang! Kachunk!” as he pretended to fire his shotgun and rack the slide in a mock firefight with the cat.
The curious cat seemed puzzled by this surprise development. It hesitated for a moment, and its face froze up.
“Regular rounds don’t work!? Then I’ll have to use my final weapon. Loading cadmium flechette shells!”
Saying so, A pretended to reload. He seemed to be having fun with this.
Perhaps the cat felt that it could no longer humor this person, but it turned and hurriedly left.
A continued pointing his shotgun at the cat and went “Bang! Kachunk! Bang! Kachunk! Bang! Kachunk!” while occasionally jerking the muzzle back up to imitate the recoil of shooting.
Perhaps he was at ease because nobody had seen him, but A sighed in relief. “Hmph, I’ll let you off for now,” and puffed his chest up.
It was all Tuka and Itami could do not to burst out laughing as they saw A fooling around like this. They clung to the window frame of the Mental Health block and managed to avoid falling onto A’s head, but as long as A was messing around below them, all they could do was cling to the frame and not let go.
On the other side of the window, within the ward… an insomniac patient stared at the golden-haired Elf outside his window.
Was he entranced by her, or was his face frozen in a dream-like stupor? Or perhaps he could not tell dreams apart from reality.
At the end of his vision, Tuka winked to him and raised her index finger before kissing its back, telling him to keep quiet.
The patient seemed to have gotten the message. He obediently nodded to show he understood before lying down on the bed.
Incidentally, this patient ー who had been admitted because he was screaming about how “I’m afraid that the sky is falling” ー told the others, “I saw an Elf. She kissed me and said it would be alright and that she would protect me, so I should go rest at ease.” Shortly after that, he returned to society and lived a confident life.
“What should we do? Why’s he in a place like this?”
Once again, A was killing time for the sake of Itami and Tuka.
However, the way he was threatening a cat with a shotgun and squatting behind a flowerbed seemed… well, imposing? Or was it dignified? Rather, it seemed cruel in more ways than one. At the same time, it brought an indescribable feeling to mind, or perhaps that was what the people who saw that afterwards would think.
“This is kind of troublesome.”
“I’m getting tired.”
Holding tightly to the window frame was quite draining, given their position and their arm-strength.
“What should we do?”
“Do you have a plan?”
“Mhm~ Let me try something.”
Tuka swirled her index finger and whispered quietly to the spirits. Then she went “Ei~” and pointed at MP A.
After that, a gust of wind knocked off A’s uniform cap.
The cap rolled over the ground to the other side of the building, and A broke into a run to retrieve it.
Itami and Tuka kicked off the window frame and landed on the ground. He quickly undid the safety belt around Tuka, and then pulled her by the hand while running in the opposite direction from which A had gone.

Shortly after leaving the hospital, Itami met with Kuribayashi and Tomita again.
They squeezed into the rental car they had hired, and Itami told the driver about a certain riverside golf course between Saitama and Tokyo Prefecture.
“So, what’s going on?”
Tuka and the other indicated that it was about time for him to explain himself. While the fact that they had helped him without asking questions showed how much they trusted him, it had only pushed the questioning back, not excused it entirely.
Itami thought about the order in which he should begin explanation, and decided to start with the conclusion.
“According to Taro-kakka, Prime Minister Morita saw Lelei’s staff in the possession of the Chinese ambassador.
“What does that mean?”
“There’s a few possibilities. Maybe they just stole the staff. Maybe they made a fake staff…”
“In that case, there’d be no need to escape the hospital in such a hurry.”
“You’re right. But the final possibility is that Lelei’s been captured.”
Tuka groaned quietly.
However, Kuribayashi stated the question which came naturally.
“But el-tee, Lelei was still there when we left Arnus. How did they take her away to China!?”
“His Excellency was quite focused on that too. Our communications with the Special Region have been severed, so we can’t verify the truth. Therefore, we need to operate under assumption of the worst-case scenario. Thus, I need to go back to Arnus.”
“But if Lelei was brought back to China, how can we save her?”
“If that’s really the case, then it’s outside the range of what I can do by myself. But His Excellency thinks she wasn’t taken to China. There’s a high chance Lelei’s still in the Special Region.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Otherwise, there’s no way to explain why they took such drastic action.”

Volume 9 End

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