Accel World:Volume 3 Chapter 6
However, two days passed without any noticeable changes to the situation.
Haruyuki was desperately trying to grasp the names, faces, and personalities of the students of 2nd year C class he was put in, so he did not have any extra time to think about the Noumi Seiji incident.
For Haruyuki who was uncomfortable dealing with other people from long before, and the only people who talked to him were bullies, he could not believe that Chiyuri soon became friendly with a few girls, and started eating lunch with them. Even Takumu who transferred into this school, had already mixed into the smart group, and during lunch break, while surrounded by somewhat difficult formula on the 3D display, talked about this and that.
Of course, if he ever said 'Let's eat lunch together' to those two, they would probably reject the invitations from their new friends, and eat lunch with Haruyuki. However, he absolutely did not want to depend on Chiyuri and Takumu like that.
Like he had in the accelerated world, he had to break his shell in the real world, and at least make new friends. Thinking like that, he desperately listened around trying to find male students with similar conversation topics, and hung around the local net, but everyone talked about sports, music, and fashion mostly, with him not able to hear even a single microsecond of conversation about games and anime.
—Well, I should try hard at it slowly. Even I have someone to eat lunch with. Furthermore, she's the school's most popular person.
Even though he encouraged himself with that, since that person is the student council vice president, she was extremely busy with the school field trip in a few days, and danced around different classes, so the continuing situation was that he could not even meet her in the net, much less during lunch time.
With that, the time when Haruyuki was finally able to speak to Kuroyukihime, was in the duel battlefield of the weekend «Territory Battle».
In front of Haruyuki's view, the jet black avatar «Black Lotus»'s right leg, trailing a bluish purple color shaft of light, kicked straight up.
With a *Bang* sound, the close range type enemy was cut apart from the waist to the shoulder in a straight line, and was blown away while spinning around, then hit a far away building and stopped moving.
Looking up at the team winning display floating in his view, he saw that today their battle win ratio was over 80% and while feeling at ease, he walked towards his legion master.
"Hey, good work, Silver Crow. Cyan Pile."
After Haruyuki, Cyan Pile's huge body appeared from the entrance of the fallen building nearby with a greeting, and then continued in a low voice.
"Sorry, I am on a break during club activities, so if you will excuse me. Master, in the field trip from tomorrow at Okinawa, have fun, and take care."
Watching Takumu leave with Burst Out command in a hurry after leaving those words, Kuroyukihime lightly laughed with 'fufu' sound.
"He became a proper kendo club member already. Did he immediately become a member of the regular lineup?"
"Ye...Yeah well. About that... Concerning that kendo club."
Haruyuki quickly glanced around, confirming that the enemy team of three, and the over ten members of the gallery had already disconnected, still continued in a low sound.
"There is still no proof, but... somehow, the new first year student that got in the regular lineup with Takumu, might be a Burst Linker..."
Haruyuki turned towards Black Lotus, who held up her two swords as if to cross her arms in front of her chest and narrowed her violet eyes to slits, and explained about the match the day before yesterday.
Even after the explanation was finished, Kuroyukihime continued to be silent for a few seconds. Eventually she glanced up, and whispered "That's still not close enough", as she leaned her elegant back on the nearby rubble, and Haruyuki also hesitantly sat near there.
"Noumi... Seiji huh. His brother Yuuichi's name, is not in my memory. Last year, and the year before, there was no Burst Linker amongst the upperclassmen. That's why even if that Yuuichi was Seiji's «parent», he had already lost Brain Burst when I entered Umesato middle school."
After chewing on Kuroyukihime's smoothly released words, Haruyuki mumbled "Yeah".
"That means... If Noumi Seiji is a Burst Linker, then his «parent» would be going to another school."
"That is rare, but it is not unheard of. Actually, it is the case for me. However before that... Is that for sure? About that first year student called Noumi «Accelerating» during matches."
"We have no proof. But... for other sports maybe, but this is kendo. For Taku who used «Physical Burst» command himself in kendo, I don't think he would be mistaken about that..."
Black Lotus who lightly nodded, leaked out a sigh there as if she had a wry smile.
"However, with that you learn of the existence of the physical acceleration command. I won't tell you not to use it, but becoming a ball sports hero with that is prohibited by Nega Nebulas."
"I-I won't use it! Paying 5 points for just 3 seconds, then it would be way better to dive into the «Unlimited Neutral Field» with 10 points. ...Instead of that, the problem is with the reason why Noumi did not appear on the matching list."
"For sure, it's hard to believe."
With both eyes narrowed, Kuroyukihime whispered.
"After the «Backdoor Program» incident half year ago, similar type of inside trick should not have been able to be used after the patch. If Noumi is a Burst Linker, and he is connected to the Umesato middle school local net, then he must absolutely be recorded in the matching list. If he was not on the list, then that means Noumi was not connected to the local net."
"B-But, while inside school, a student not connected to the local net, is that even possible? Furthermore during class, and in a kendo match too!"
"...To be truthful, that is not possible..."
To Haruyuki's rebuttal, the black mirror goggles swung sideways.
"If the school local net base server was invaded, or... No, no matter what that is way too risky. If it was discovered, then even for middle school, he might be expelled. After all... with some kind of illegal program, he might be masking himself from other Burst Linkers..."
"That had happened before, right. I too, felt that is the most likely case... as well."
While lowering the silver helmeted head, Haruyuki answered quietly.
"However, even if that was the case, what would Noumi's goal be? If he really wanted to hide the fact that he is a Burst Linker, then using commands like «Physical Burst» would have the opposite effect. Actually due to that, we are already majorly suspicious of him. Even saying so, he should have complete grasp of our real information, but he had not used it to challenge us to «Duel». What does he really want to do?"
For Kuroyukihime's questions, of course Haruyuki could not answer them. After thinking for a bit, he said in an uncertain tone.
"...That, we have to find out why he does not appear on the list, and «Duel» him to ask about it, I think..."
"Well... Yeah. For Burst Linkers, nothing will start without duels. I want to begin the fight, but unfortunately from tomorrow on I will be away from Tokyo for a week... Hmm, maybe I should fake sickness and remain..."
"No, no way, don't do that!!"
Haruyuki hurried shouted, and shook both arms to push back Kuroyukihime's outrageous lines.
"Middle school field trip, isn't that once in a lifetime thing! Please go, we will deal with the Noumi incident somehow!!"
"Nn... is that so? But, don't be too unreasonable. That's right, have you decided what you would like for a gift?"
"Aa, that is... I will feel bad asking for something too bulky... so something like let me watch video or whatever that senpai takes..."
To be precise, video that has senpai in it.
To be more detailed, something like high definition video of senpai in a swimsuit.
Furthermore, add in the territory defense without the master reward, sent those through a 30cm direct connect cable.
Hearing the request that Haruyuki added a lot to inside his heart, Kuroyukihime tilted her head and said.
"What, are you fine with just that? Then, I will take lots and send them with email. Of all the Okinawa food that I eat during my vacation."
And then Kuroyukihime, on the next day, Sunday morning, boarded an airplane at Haneda with 120 Umesato middle school 3rd year students, and flew to the far southern part of the country.
Of course, it was still possible to contact her with voice call or full dive anytime, but thinking of a few thousand kilometers of physical distance between them made Haruyuki feel uneasy, and he continued to roll around on his bed as he tried to sleep again after waking up.
—Why am I not in the same school year as that person.
If that was the case, then he might have been able to see her swimsuit with his own flesh-and-blood eyes during the field trip, and they would graduate together, going to the same school... no, being able to go the same high school or not might be a problem...
While he was thinking of many round and about things, he noticed the icon lit in the center of his view about receiving a voice call message. After realizing that was from Takumu, Haruyuki jumped up, and tapped the icon with his fingertip.
"Haru, good morning. About the Noumi incident, sorry for the late report. I wanted to somehow get hold of that guy's Neuro Linker to check if the Brain Burst program is there or not, but did not get a chance... I finally managed to get only a picture, I've attached it. This morning I also have club practice, and if I find out anything I will contact you, see you."
At the time the message replay was finished, the attached file icon lit up.
After noticing the large data size, he wrinkled his eyebrow, but soon understood the reason after opening the file. What was displayed, was the kendo club's new 1st year all member group photo.
The Neuro Linker contains a camera inside, so it is technically possible to take a static picture or video anytime. However, that is also much easier to take hidden pictures than old cell phones.
So right now, without permission through the net from the person in view, there is a function to prevent field of view screenshot of other people. —Of course, using strange methods to go around that limitations like Kuroyukihime is another thing altogether.
For Haruyuki and Takumu, their Neuro Linker knowledge and tricks were not of that level, so obtaining Noumi's facial picture could only be possible with waiting for a chance like a commemorative photo session. Haruyuki moved his eyes through the photo that was fully displayed in his view, and from the tags that float up and disappear one after another, eventually found the name tag «1st year A class, Noumi Seiji».
Noumi's true face— could only be said to have the features of a boy with a lot of youth remaining.
Round cut hair with light brown color, hanging down in length from the forehead. The eyes and nose were cute like a girl's, but the smile that floated on the lips, had a wild flavor fitting for a proper kendo club member.
"Are you... a Burst Linker...?"
He whispered that, but of course Noumi in the still photo did not reply.
Haruyuki carved the features of the very mysterious first year student in his brain, cleared the photo, then got down from his bed. He was thinking of going to Shinjuku or Shibuya area in the afternoon for «Duels», but changed that plan, and changed into his uniform to go to school. If Takumu and Noumi are going to train in their club, something might happen.
In the kitchen, he put some ham and cheese in the stock up bread and ate it, left his mother that seem to be still sleeping a short message, then Haruyuki softly opened the door and went outside. Looking up at the bright blue sky above the high rise apartment made sparks twinkle in his view.
Going to school during days off, might be the first time since entering that school, after he thought about it.
He changed his shoes at the entrance, and glanced at the clock. His preparation and trip seem to have taken a lot of time, as it was already 12:15 pm noon. He was thinking of sending an email to check if Takumu was still here, but changed his mind after thinking that it was faster to go check directly.
The school on Sunday afternoon, was surprisingly quiet.
It was not that there was no one here. He could hear the sounds from soft baseball and track club in the grounds, and if he went to the cafeteria, he would find culture club students there.
But, the inside of the school building with lights turned off was dimly lit, and it was quiet all around, which gave Haruyuki a doubt that he was lost at a different place somewhere else.
Without really understanding why, he held his breath and walked in the first floor hallway, entering the sports building. He went pass beside the gym with basketball shoes scraping the floor sounds, and headed towards the martial arts arena—
That sharp psyche sound that entered his ears made him stop suddenly.
It was mixed in a few other people's sounds, but within the sounds that repeated with similar tempo, he accurately picked out Noumi's high and sharp sound that he heard from the other day.
Haruyuki became more stealthy, and left the hallway to go down to the gravel courtyard, then went forward a few meters towards the martial arts arena wall, and peeked into the window there.
It seemed like the whole club training had already ended, so there were only a few members remaining in the wide wooden floor arena. There all seemed to be first year students that must had been ordered by upperclassmen to remain training, as they swung their shinai while lined up. From Haruyuki's position, he could only see their backs, but near the right edge, one person with slender build and brown color mature style hair, was without a doubt Noumi Seiji.
Even looking with Haruyuki's eyes, he could see that compared to the other first years, Noumi's swings were overwhelmingly sharper, with actual ability behind it.
Haruyuki bit his lips and wondered why Noumi used acceleration ability to win matches when he had such degree of ability. Or did he have some sort of nonnegotiable circumstances? As Takumu's thought and conclusion?
At the time that Haruyuki leaked out a small breath, just Noumi suddenly stopped moving.
As Haruyuki shrunk his head while wondering if he had been found out for peeking, but it seemed that was not the case. While still with his back to Haruyuki, Noumi walked towards the wall, and started putting away his shinai.
"Hey Noumi, you haven't finished the number of swings."
While continuing to practice swinging, one first year student said that. With no reply to that, Noumi picked up his sports bag, and walked towards the arena exit as if he had already finished training. The club member that voiced the warning clicked his tongue, and the person beside him called out "It's different for Regular-sama".
Even hearing the blatant sarcasm, Noumi did not change his walking pace. If he left the arena while wearing his uniform, then Noumi would turn towards the side that Haruyuki was hiding at, so he hurried left the window side and went to hide behind a plant nearby.
Noumi did not seem to notice Haruyuki, walked towards the hallway and went straight ahead, then he disappeared behind the stairs heading below the gym. Underground, was an even more out of the way location for Haruyuki in the school, which was a heated pool.
Does he want to go swimming now?, amazed, Haruyuki had that thought, but soon canceled that speculation. There should be shower rooms beside the pool. After sweating plenty from training, he might be going there before changing out of kendo uniform.
Haruyuki took a sharp breath.
From look of the situation, the remaining first years should be continuing to practice swinging for a while. And in the surroundings, he could not see any other sports club students. That means Noumi Seiji, for a few minutes, would be completely alone.
Is this a chance? Why was Noumi able to refuse to be shown on the matching list, and why did he ignore other Brust Linkers going to the same school, isn't this a golden opportunity to ask him those?
Of course, he might feign ignorance. But for Noumi, he had already used «Physical Burst» command in front of Haruyuki and Takumu that he should have known were Burst Linkers. It seemed like he was purposely showing it to Takumu during a match. That, if he thought about it, was like an urge for contact— wasn't it?
Even though he still had doubts, Haruyuki chased after Noumi while checking the surroundings.
Right after entering the gym, the stairs going down were set against the side of the wall, and Haruyuki sneaked down it. Umesato middle school's swimming class is an elective course, and Haruyuki had no incentive to select that, so this is without hyperbole the first time he went down those stairs.
After taking a peek ahead of the left turn corner, he could no longer see Noumi's shape in the short corridor. On the left wall, he could see divided entrances for the shower plus changing rooms. He glanced at the ceiling to check, but the familiar black dome social camera did not exist. From this passage to the interior of the shower room, is beyond camera range.
After hesitating behind the cleaning equipment left at the corner for ten more seconds, Haruyuki made his decision and headed towards the shower room.
Looking on the wall at the entrances, he could see the relatively fresh markings, left side pink for female use, and right side blue for male use were indicated. After checking the direction of the steps, of course he went to the right side, and after a few steps he listened for sounds. Of course, if there were other students inside other than Noumi, then he would have to sadly retreat, but he could not hear any sounds of talking. He noticed that his palms had became wet with sweat, and wiped them on his pants.
—There's no particular need to be scared.
I am also a male student of this school. Then no one could blame me for going ahead. Just that, I want to ask about Noumi's intentions with only the two of us.
After whipping himself once more, Haruyuki stiffly walked ahead, and succeeded in invading the shower room.
The space was a lot wider than his expectations, with lockers lined up on the right wall. A long table was set in the center, and above it was left a school regulation sports bag. Many shower booths were set at the left wall in a line.The booths use smoke colored plastic panels to obscure view, and from one booth deep inside, he could hear water sound and see steam coming out of it. Other than that, no one else was there.
Haruyuki gave out a small sigh. While he was having a lot of doubts, Noumi had entered a booth. Truly, he did not have the guts to assault someone during a shower.
I should probably leave, while thinking that, he tried to back away— at that time.
On top of the long table, inside the half open sports bag, something flashed with reflection of light.
He could only see a part of it, but it had smooth curves, without a doubt was a Neuro Linker.
Normally, for security conscious people, they would put this device that could said to be another brain at a place out of sight. Maybe wearing it during showering, or at least put it in a locked locker. But, inside school, and furthermore was careless while alone, went without the turning of the mechanical key on a locker.
If this was the case, then the Neuro Linker might not even be powered off? If it was powered off, then starting it would require brain check, so nothing much could be done, but while it was left on standby state, if he connect to that, then he could directly search the memory area.
That's right, in January this year, that «Red King» Scarlet Rain connected to Haruyuki's mother's Neuro Linker, and left a fake email with this exact same method.
Of course, this is not allowed by moral or school rules. If the teachers found out that he secretly connected to another student's Neuro Linker, then being reprimanded would be the least of it.
However— even for the social camera net that usually do surveillance on the country's people, it did not cover the school toilet and shower room. And then, without video evidence, it is the school policy to ignore violation of school rules. Just like how Haruyuki was totally ignored while he was thoroughly beaten up and threatened by his classmates while outside of camera view range. Also, with direct connection to peek at the physical memory, not only could he find out whether Noumi was a Burst Linker, there is a high possibility that he could find the truth of why he did not appear on the matching list.
—Then, with about two seconds of thinking, Haruyuki made his decision.
While listening to the continuing echo of water sound in the shower booth, he held his breath and went near the bag, pulling it open slightly. Inside, on top of a neatly folded jersey, was a pale purple Neuro Linker. The indicator light blinked light blue, showing it was in standby mode.
He quickly connected the plug pulled from his pocket to his own Neuro Linker, then caught the other plug that was swinging in the air, and held it towards inside of the bag—
This color. Purplish satin silver. As familiar as his own Neuro Linker, was not Noumi's.
While his thoughts stopped, Haruyuki froze while holding the plug, and in his ear came the creaking sound shower faucet being turned. The sound of water cut off.
In front of his face that was raised in a daze, the swing type panel door opened with a creak.
With a large towel from head to shoulders, Kurashima Chiyuri who came out, collided with Haruyuki's view, and four eyes opened wide.
This time, his frozen thought processes exploded with a boom, and for Haruyuki —what little saving grace for him in this situation— the focus of his eyes did not have the leisure to move downwards, and just continued to stare at Chiyuri's face. It was the same for the other party, who had frozen while in the posture of drying her hair.
Eventually Haruyuki regained enough control to somehow move his mouth, and whispered in a sound that was almost not a voice.
"Chiyu... you, why in the boy's..."
At the same time, Chiyuri also blinked once and said.
"Haru. What are you doing in the girl's shower?"
And then, at that moment Haruyuki finally noticed that the basic color of the space surrounding them was not blue, but pink instead. The slip resistant floor, the slick wall and ceiling, and also the table in front of him, were all greyish pink colored.
...But, that is, there's no way!!
Haruyuki opened his eyes wide as he screamed inside his chest.
For sure, I went into the passage with the male marking. That display was not a wall panel, but a direct marking on the wall, so someone switching them as a prank was not possible. Or was it forcefully painted over with some kind of paint? No, there was not enough time for such large scale effort.
While Haruyuki was turning his thinking gears at full speed on various things, Chiyuri finally seem to have realized her current appearance.
As she glanced down at her body, her eyes became round, and the skin up to her ears became blood red. She covered as much of herself as she could with both hands, and raised her head again, taking a deep breath—
The loudest scream or burst of anger was going to be released, but right before that.
From the outside passage, the sounds of a few female students chatting as they approached were heard.
Instantly, Haruyuki belatedly realized that this situation could not be explained with just a mistake or a joke.
This, is a truly dangerous situation. If it was exposed to the school authorities, there would be suspension, or expulsion, no, before that— this incident might even involve the police.
Chiyuri might have arrived at that realization at the same time, and from her beet red face, all the blood left it at once. As the two looked at each other with tense faces, the female students' sounds were getting louder and louder.
Suddenly Chiyuri's extended right hand caught Haruyuki's necktie that was on his chest, and pushed him with the power of peremptory force into the shower booth she used a moment earlier. Chiyuri also entered inside, pushing Haruyuki against the wall with her back, and put her towel on top of the smoke colored door.
She took hold of the shower nozzle, set the touch panel temperature control all the way to the max of 60 degrees C, and turned the faucet fully open. The spray of water that come out fiercely hit the right side wall. With the bursting hot water, the booth was soon covered with pure white steam.
"...Don't say a word, stay still!"
Right after hearing Chiyuri's whisper, in the shower room on the other side of one panel, he felt the presence of at least three girls entering.
"Ah gee, all sticky with sweat!"
"Yeah, I want to wear summer uniform already."
"I should at least change the Linker pad to mesh."
Probably, they were track and field club members like Chiyuri. With the voices, sounds of zippers being pulled down continued.
However Haruyuki of course did not have the room to imagine the outside scene, as he pressed his face against the wall, closed his eyes tight, and continued to stay quiet.
With about 90% of his brain taken over by panic, the remain 10% continued to think of the reason why it had become like this.
No matter what, he could not have mistaken the male and female use shower room markings. And since it was impossible to physically change the markings. Then, there was only one trick left.
Electronic markings in his view.
Overwriting his view with the Neuro Linker. With some kind of preset, to change the shower room markings from male to female, and female to male kind of fake picture was filled in with a program that was put in him. With that realization, he arrived, too late, at the thought of the markings that he saw a few minutes ago, the color tones were relatively fresh in the dim hallway. It was like it was giving off its own light.
It was still a mystery where and when that program got into his Neuro Linker, but the person who sent it was probably that guy.
Everything was Noumi's trap. That guy knew that Haruyuki was peeking at the kendo arena. Then he was lead to the shower room, where he invaded the female side due to reading the markings wrong, and therefore was plunged into this dangerous area. To fully remove Haruyuki, that is the Burst Linker «Silver Crow» from this Umesato middle school.
A fearfully vivid, ruthless, and relentless method.
Just like, the time that Kuroyukihime removed a student named Araya, or even beyond that.
"Ah, Chii? Are you still in there?"
Sudden, right on the other side of the swing door, a girl's voice called out.
Chiyuri's reply that was right beside his ear, Haruyuki listen while cowering in fear.
"Yeah, I was also covered with sweat."
"Isn't that right, since it's before the district qualifications, the teacher is over enthusiastic."
With a T-shirt, white shirt, and a blazer on top while in the high temperature steam, Haruyuki's whole body was already covered with sweat, so he could not feel the heat at all. Instead, his teeth were almost chattering due to the cold on his skin.
If right now, the female student playfully opened the partition, then not only Haruyuki, Chiyuri would also be in trouble. Even though she was the first peeking victim, she would also be punished the same as Haruyuki.
"Hey Chii, isn't the water too hot? There is way too much steam."
"Ah, it feels better when hot. It also promotes blood flow."
"Oh no, don't talk like my grandma."
She and the other students laughed with "Ahahaha". Chiyuri also laughed, but passing through her back that was in close contact with him, he could feel her muscular body tremble slightly.
...Sorry. Sorry. Forgive me. I was an idiot. If I didn't try something like fishing for the Neuro Linker in the bag, then something like this wouldn't have happened!
While screaming that in his heart, he ground his inner teeth to the limit— at that time.
A *creak* kind of door swing sound, made Haruyuki's body jerked in surprise.
However that was, the sound of a girl entering the booth beside. Then two more door open and close sounds came after, and shower water sounds all started.
A few seconds later, he felt that Chiyuri's body leave him momentarily to check outside.
She soon returned, and after turning towards Haruyuki's face, said with only her lips moving.
—Right now, get out!
Haruyuki held his breath, and nodded without even able to say thanks to Chiyuri's quick wit, then unsteadily stepped out of the booth.
He only glared at the exit, and desperately moved his tense body in a half bent posture one step, two step forward. If he fell here— or some other girls came in....
That kind of thinking almost made him faint, but miraculously his feet did not tangle, and Haruyuki succeeded in escaping from the shower room. After a short run past the U-shaped bend, he reached the separation area between the boy's and girl's sides, then leaned his lost strength back on the wall.
Strength left his legs, and he was going to sit down like that, but the sudden eruption of anger prevented that.
After that shout in his mouth, he lifted his head, and charged towards the actual male shower room on the opposite side of the hallway.
—However. In the pale bluish grey colored space, there was no one there. There was no sign of the shower booths being used. Probably, at the time of Haruyuki's intrusion into the girl's side, Noumi had already left.
With that groan, Haruyuki hit the wall behind him with a *bang*.
About two hours later, in his apartment's 22nd floor's Kurashima house, in Chiyuri's room.
Haruyuki pushed his forehead directly onto the floor.
"Excuse me, sorry, my bad, really sorry!!"
Not sure how many times the words of apology, that he kept repeating.
The owner of the room, while sitting on the edge of the bed in her school uniform with arms crossed, continued to release intense killing intent. After letting in Haruyuki, who came visiting to apologize, she had not said anything, but that was even more fearful.
What he had done, was really too true to be funny level of atrocity, he had fully realized that— or supposed to. However, the true size of the shock on Chiyuri was something a male like Haruyuki could not fully share or understand.
Anyhow, her stark naked body, was seen at a very close distance of at most one meter.
Needless to say, this is already a bigger crime than last year's Takumu putting a virus in Chiyuri's Neuro Linker. It was different than going into the bath at the same time when they were young. Yes, everything was different. The collarbone that clearly stood out, the line of the greater pectoral muscle that connected her shoulder and chest, and the unexpectedly voluminous pure white—
"...You are remembering it, right."
That sudden low sound echo, made Haruyuki jumped about 1cm up while in his kneeling position.
"No, I haven't remembered, didn't remember!"
"You're lying, your ears are all red. Let me warn you, if you use that for something weird, then till your memory is gone, in that... what was it, oh yeah, «Unlimited Neutral Field», I will make you dive there. About 100 years worth."
Haruyuki jumped again with that.
"I-I won't use it, I won't!"
—To tell the truth, if Haruyuki was forced to use «Unlimited Burst» command here, and he was monitored for 1 hour like that, then over 40 days would have passed inside. The picture stored inside his brain would have been mostly distorted without a doubt.
However, over that time he would be chased around by other Burst Linkers or «Enemy», and other than loss of memory, he would have succumb to exhaustion, so Haruyuki desperately shook his head.
"Forgot it, super forgot it!"
"...Well, what kind of penance I want from Haru, I will think about that deeply later. That, I will put it on hold for now."
With a snorting sound from her nose, she threw something fluffy at Haruyuki's head. When he glanced up, he saw that it was a large doll cushion.
"You can stop kneeling, just sit."
With a nod, he picked up the cushion. He thought it was an elephant, but the nose was short, and there were three pairs making six legs.
"It's a waterbear. The strongest living thing on earth... Hey, instead of that! The reason why you sneaked into the girl's shower was a virus's fault, and the person who put it there was some kid named Noumi, that talk... Is it true?"
Haruyuki hurriedly sat properly on top of the strange living thing, and kept nodding.
"Wi-Without a doubt. For sure I went into the male marked side shower. No matter what kind of goofy alien I am, I would not have mistaken pink and blue markings."
"But, when did he put that in you? You did not even talk to Noumi right?"
He slowly nodded.
Actually, the route the virus was put into him was all a mystery. It would be contact with his Neuro Linker in the one week between the school entrance ceremony and today, but Haruyuki himself could not think of any chance for that.
If he was able to examine the virus itself, then he might be able to find the time that it was put there, but no matter how much he checked the physical memory, he could not discover any strange program. After looking at the Neuro Linker activity log, he found out that right after he entered the female shower room, a trace was left of an unknown file automatically erased. Since he did not remember doing that himself, then probably, the virus was activated and reached it's goal— that meant after filling Haruyuki's view with those markings, it was set to self destruct.
Chiyuri's thick eyebrows wrinkled, and she tilted her head.
"If he could do that, then why did he not totally destroy Haru's Neuro Linker OS, or erase the «Brain Burst» program? If his goal is to stop you from «duels», then wouldn't that be more effective?"
"No matter what, viruses cannot destroy system files. The most it could do is use functions for pranks. And also, for the Brain Burst program itself, once a person becomes a Burst Linker, he could download it from anyone else. Without that, upgrading the Linker would not be possible. Of course, you would have to put the core card in the new Linker..."
After that rebuttal, Haruyuki also wrinkled his face.
"No, but... to tell the truth, if he could use high level skill of replacing sight and sound, then instead of prank level, he could have used more wild methods... For example, like replacing the road crossing red signal with blue signal, and full sensory masking of the racing cars, then he could even kill me...?"
After that involuntary shout, Chiyuri held her mouth with her hand to prevent her mother that should be in the living room from noticing, and once again said.
"Kill, hey you, what are you saying!? Th-That's not game talk."
Here, Haruyuki could only weakly smile and shook his head.
"Brain Burst is a game but not a game. For guys like Noumi who use «Acceleration» for status in the real world, they will do anything to protect their power. Think about it, if it was not you who came out of the shower booth there, and it was some other girl, then now I..."
"...Would be in the police station, right."
With a belated shiver on her back, Chiyuri whispered.
"But... Then, from now on, that Noumi guy would set more traps for us like that? Not only Haru... Ta-kun, Kuroyuki-senpai, and me also would be targeted...?"
"No, I won't let him behave like that."
Trying to sweep away Chiyuri's unease, Haruyuki interrupted with unaccustomed tone.
"After understanding that guy's attitude, we will no longer just wait and see. Maybe tomorrow, Taku and I will go after that guy. Though it's not my choice... if necessary, even with forced direct connection, we will expose the secret of why he did not appear on the matching list."
However, Chiyuri still looked depressed as she bit her lips, and her face lowered.
"I... somehow, don't like it. I feel something is wrong. It's just a game... but Haru, Ta-kun, and Noumi also, don't seem to be having fun at all."
"Th-That's not true."
He hurriedly shook his head, but at the same time thought that it was not unreasonable for her to think like that.
Since Chiyuri is a rare avatar, that is «Recovery Type», she had not even once experienced the normal «Duel». That field's width and detail, the battle's excitement and the exhilaration of winning, he wanted a lot to show her that quickly, but that would have to wait till Kuroyukihime returned to Tokyo one week later.
"At-At least for me, I changed after meeting Brain Burst... I also had a heart to heart talk with Taku, and I feel that my slavishness parameter had gone down a little..."
After hearing those non-connecting words, Chiyuri quickly blinked, then showed a smile with deep meaning.
"...Well, that might be true. If it was Haru from before, after seeing me naked, you would have surely ran away for a month without even apologizing to me."
At the end of those words, that problematic picture again reappeared inside his brain, so to hide his heated face, Haruyuki again kneeled down.
"Excuse me, sorry, my bad, really sorry!!"
"Stop that already!"
Again another cushion came flying, hitting his head.
Continuing after that, what a returned sharp tongue, Chiyuri announced in a low tone.
"Also, let me warn you. That shower room incident, if you tell Ta-kun, then this time for sure I will blow you away. I will also tell Kuroyuki-senpai afterward."
Haruyuki suddenly froze.
To be truthful, he did not plan to leak this to Kuroyukihime, but he thought about reporting this to Takumu after this apology.
"Of course, what were you thinking of?!!"
While getting hit with the third cushion on his head, Haruyuki thought, So it's matter of course.... But, if it's like that, how would he explain Noumi's attack? No, he should only report that he had been mislead to the female shower room, then he would not have to say anything about running into Chiyuri there.
While feeling somewhat shameful for keeping a secret from his best friend and comrade, Haruyuki took a deep breath, and shook that away.
Right now is not the time to drag that shower room incident out.
That, was a declaration of war from Noumi. In the war that was going to begin, they would need all of their concentration. And then if possible, he would like to have this problem solved before Kuroyukihime returned from Okinawa. He would not want to expose that level 9 person to danger.
While listening to himself saying that, Haruyuki left the Kurashima house, and returned to his home two floors above.
However, Haruyuki was mistaken. He did not see that he was already in a situation with no way to turn around.
Before he realized that, the war had already begun, and it also ended.