Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume10 A Day For You 02
 A Day For You 02
Against the surface of the air filter, the sandstorm continued to swirl.
On the opposite end of the sand and grit, the moon with its round and solemn countenance was suspended high in the sky.
With almost all of the shops' posters were taken down and the ground sparsely lit only by decorative lights, the area seemed to sink into darkness.
Within that, bathed in the moonlight, a voice appeared to resonate from the sky. Starting strong, but gradually weakening. With the ebbing of the howling, the sky over Zuellni stopped. There was nothing that could answer. The shadows in the place, motionless, the natural echoing of a sound could be heard.
Only buildings whose rooftops were cast in the shadow of the Department of the Outer Edge were nearby. In the vicinity, there were no housing facilities. What was there was the manufacturing district, in which warehouses stored produce. Crops which received a surface security checks here at some point would then be passed to the market above.
The remnants of the natural howling that could be heard, suddenly began to move.
From what looked to be underneath, the next moment, the shadow disappeared from that spot.
"A thief in the produce warehouse?"
After being called first thing in the morning, at those words Layfon tilted his head. Though of course, he knew what a thief was.
"More importantly, a burglary attempt......?"
In response, Formed had a troubled smile on his face. The place was Zuellni's only established City Police Station. While sipping tea served in the break-room of the building, Layfon looked at Naruki who stood next to Formed.
"It isn't as if there wasn't a thief, but......"
With something along the lines of hesitation in his words, Formed's speech wasn't clear. That face had the fatigue of having a sleepless night.
Zuellni was an academy city. Almost all of the people residing there were students. It wasn't as if there were any adults there, however they did not have much of an effect on the city's livelihood. While furthering their studies, upperclassmen also taught the underclassmen. Seniors conducted training and research. That was Zuellni's way.
Concurrently, there were also other cities. Foregoing changes in economics, a disparity of wealth would occur. There were also those who failed in business. Though they were not officially recognized, gambling houses also existed. If they were cheated, there would be those who would rush to the City Police.
Though only temporary, in the confusion caused by the loss of assets, it wasn't as if there was no one chasing after the thief.
But of course, as Zuellni was an academy city, the city's reason for existence was for the students. The city's economy was ultimately designed around the period after graduation. So that students don't lose their senses in another city, simulations of their futures were established as a major premise.
Therefore, relief measures were enacted.
The loss of assets, those receiving the adjudication of bankruptcy receive financial support from the student council. Of course this aid had to be repaid, and if they weren't, the certifications resulting from graduation would not be granted. While there were those who were held back due to not paying, they were few.
At any rate, those enrolled in Zuellni never faced starvation due to financial problems.
Hence......for the time being, it comes to reason that cases of theft where students are the culprits are rare.
Particularly, theft of comestibles was seldom heard of.
"Why break into the produce warehouse......"
Layfon went right to the problem.
Though Layfon hadn't even been at Zuellni for a year, he still had a sufficient understanding of it. Before enrolling, he investigated the scholarship system and came to understand them both.
"If it's about the robbery details, they're easy to understand."
While Formed had muttered that piece of information, he drank from his own tea.
Up until now, Layfon's classmate, Naruki, continued to stand motionlessly nearby.
"So, what was stolen?"
"......Nothing was stolen in this case. To be more accurate, it was an attempt."
As a military artist, it was as if Layfon became a necessary companion, and that was probably why he was called. There were military artists in the city police. Maybe it was due to Zuellni's academic traditions, in the Military Arts Department, those who were known as elites were also platoon members. Normally these individuals did not show interest in the typical activities of the city police.
However, there were times in Zuellni where research data would be targeted by people from other cities, and within those groups skilled military artists would be present. For those instances, there were people in platoons who would temporarily assist the city police.
Be it as it may, it a was short-term job unique to the Military Arts department.
Layfon, at his classmate Naruki's behest, found himself in that situation.
"What is it?"
For that reason he was called; however, it was just a burglary attempt.
Furthermore, for produce. Even if something was stolen, it wasn't as if they could make off with it on a roaming bus.
"Well, hold on."
Formed stopped the bewildered Layfon.
"The problem lies with the contents of the assailed warehouse."
"You know, don't you? Tomorrow is Van Allen's Day."
"No, you might say that I do know, however........."
It was apparently a day where one receives sweets from those of the opposite sex whom are reciprocating goodwill. Though it was originally the custom of another city, companies in the Business Department involved in confectioneries had learned of it and had campaigned since last year.
With just a gathering of those at an age most interested in love, Zuellni's students received Van Allen's Day with fervor and an advertising struggle had grown considerably since last year.
"So, what about it?"
"With the Business Departments' influence, the Manufacturing District had obtained several new species of produce and grew them for this day. The warehouse that was broken into contained one of those."
Even in saying that the ingredients for making sweets were targeted, the exact point was still unclear.
"Every raw ingredient contained in the warehouse was examined beforehand. Due to the wide variety, it took quite a while, but thankfully a knowledgeable person was there. The target was probably the Heartseer Fruit."
Formed nodded in response.
"A confectionery known as Rinka placed the production order, and so the arrangement was for the fruit to be delivered this morning. Rinka wanted to use it as their featured product."
"So then why?"
"Originally, Van Allen's Day's roots came from Forest City Erupa's customs. Eating food prepared from the Heartseer fruit is only permitted for married couples and quite possibly engaged couples. In short, presenting food made from the Heartseer Fruit in regards to the opposite sex has the same meaning as proposing. It seems that the Heartseer Fruit had died out in that city, and so when a person wanted to make something for that special someone, they defaulted to sweets......or so I've heard."
"That......is it. Why would it be that in Erupa, they would only allow married couples and quite possibly those soon to be married to eat food prepared from the Heartseer Fruit, do you get it?
"No, hearing that all of a sudden......"
"There appears to be a stimulant in the fruit. It's usage depends on the circumstance, but for that sort of thing, it's said to be really convenient."
He tried to conceal it in his voice, but he was grinning broadly. Next to him, Naruki's face had turned red.
While not quite getting what Formed had said, Layfon was also not crude. He let out a troubled sort of laughter.
"Of course, it needs to be prepared a certain way. It seems only alcohol and steeped honey are needed to remove the astringency out of the sweet fruit."
After Layfon became troubled at his reply, Formed returned to his former self.
"However, that's the effect it has on a normal person. On a Military Artist, it has a different use."
Formed grew tense.
"Arousing the fighting spirit, it causes an abnormal acceleration of Kei flow. Other than that, it induces oversensitivity of the nerves, sharpens the senses, etc...... Compared to that time with DG, it's by far a much more monstrous Kei accelerating drug."
"It can't be......"
Just recently, they were completely caught up in the case involving illegal Kei accelerating drug, DG. These kinds of things, one after another......Layfon looked at Formed with astonishment.
"Rinka's background up until now wasn't at all suspicious. Besides, it appears that to an extent that effect of the Heartseer Fruit was unknown. I don't know what the people interested in this product are thinking, but we can't leave such a dangerous item be. We prohibited its shipment, but the problem will soon be over its disposal. Layfon, until then, guard it."
So it seemed.
"So, I won't be here tomorrow."
After Formed's briefing ended, Layfon and Naruki rushed back to the first year building. Somehow, they managed to make it to the first class of the day, and now it was noon. While eating Meishen's hand-made lunch, Mifi had stopped listening. She spoke while Mifi had the straw for her milk still in her mouth.
"There are plans to transport something from the warehouse to the disposal facility tomorrow afternoon. The plan that is starting tonight, I will be stationed in the vicinity as a guard, so tomorrow I won't be able to come to school."
Naruki had replied.
"It's the long awaited Van Allen's Day too. Such a waste."
Mifi removed the straw from the empty milk carton and inserted it into a new one.
"You say it's a waste......I don't have anything so it has nothing to do with me."
After Layfon had said that, Mifi and Naruki simultaneously let out a sigh.
"No. Ah, is that so?
Looking as though something came to mind, Mifi started laughing with a "Nyahaha" and looked at Naruki.
"It's not that way for you, Nakki? A chance to be alone together with the section chief? Perhaps?"
"I won't be doing anything of the sort."
Exhaling, Naruki averted her gaze.
"Is that so?"
Hearing this for the first time, Layfon looked to Meishen. With the impression of "What do you think?" she tilted her head.
"Nakki likes men who are devoted to work, you know. Someone like the chief who goes back and forth between the research lab of the Cultivation Department and the City Police, is a just to her liking. Furthermore, capability is also important."
"As I was saying, you're wrong."
Though Naruki could be called obstinate, that face became faintly red. Layfon imagined them standing side by side: the short, but stout figure of Formed with the tall and slender physique of Naruki. They were polar opposites, or so he thought.
"The chief is just my esteemed superior. There's nothing more than that."
Glaring at Naruki, Mifi stuck her tongue out at her.
"Well, I must admit, all of this talk of Van Allen's Day's custom of gifting sweets originally has nothing to do with us, right? If not sweets, there's also the route of making someone else lunch, you know~?"
"Th, that's true!" Meishen said suddenly in a bright voice, nodding in ascent, to which Layfon was astonished. "I, I'm sorry......"
Turning towards an already shrinking Meishen, Naruki and Mifi both sighed.
At the end of training at the Military Training Facility, Layfon went to explain the circumstances to Nina. Concerning his job with the City Police, along with that personality, he wasn't sure if anything was going to happen.
It was their after training private session. Nina nodded, wiping away her sweat with a towel with the straw of her sports drink still in her mouth.
"If it's like that, that means you won't be coming to clean the mechanisms tonight?
Her lips parting from the straw, those words drawn from a harsh breath made Layfon realize what he had forgotten.
"I will convey the message. Don't worry."
"Think nothing of it, protecting the cities order is also the responsibility of a military artist."
In the Military Arts Department, the academic traditions of a crippled Zuellni, Nina was not awarded much benefit. Regardless of which city Military Artists receive favorable treatment, hence many are rich. Nina's residence is amongst those, however she faced down opposition from her parents and came to Zuellni. Without the assistance of her parents, she makes a living at her part time job cleaning the mechanisms to pay for her tuition and expenses, and that lifestyle did not implant any pride into her.
"Even so, breaking into the produce warehouse makes them a strange bunch, huh?"
Nina appears to have become interested in the subject.
"Although the most useful thing seems to be a hazardous fruit."
That something in the produce warehouse was targeted, Formed had said not to disclose anything.
Moreover the incident with the illegal wine the other day, it appeared as though Nina was dragged in.
That's why, concerning the impending danger of the Kei accelerating drug, it was something he was keeping silent about.
"Hmm......That thing seems to have slipped through manufacturing approval."
Uttering that, Nina simultaneously ended the conversation and training as well.
Upon washing away his sweat in the shower room of the Military Training Facility, Layfon headed towards the warehouse district that the produce warehouse was found in. The person who structured these insipid, rectangular warehouse left them with a cold atmosphere. Within the confines of the warehouse district, there were vehicles for personal use, which would then be used to transport cargo to the nearby trolley. Furthermore, there was also a freight service to transport packages to various places. Those personal-use vehicles were rarely left behind in their designated parking lot, meaning there was no one in sight. The warehouse district is said to be crowded with people in the early morning. At those times, the trams are running, transporting cargo. Standing next to a gate, Naruki held onto the number of the warehouse Formed had designated before hand.
Upon inquiring, Naruki shook her head.
"No sign of movement."
Upon saying that, the shutters making up the front door of the warehouse opened revealing a lit area. From there, Naruki led the way up a small staircase led up from the front entrance to what seemed to be a area designated as a guard's rest area. Formed and a group of others were already there.
"I'm glad you're here."
Looking overwhelmed, by a lack of time, Formed started and motioned for Layfon to approach the window.
"That is the aforementioned warehouse."
Upon looking at the place she was pointing at, not unlike the other warehouses, they were lined up. The tag "D17" was painted on the roof of the warehouse. The distinct difference was that the shutters in front were crushed flat.
"Provisions are the cities lifeline, and as such, that warehouse was built to be sturdy. That also includes the shutters. If an explosion occurred, it's condition would still be fine."
Whilst listening to Formed's explanation, Layfon surveyed the shutters. It seemed as though there was a deep, yet tiny depression in the shutters as though it were struck by a fist, and from there concentric circles radiated outward. No matter what way it was looked at, it was as though it were broken through blunt impact.
"It was a military artist, wasn't it, the one who did it?"
"Couldn't be anything else."
Formed nodded in assent.
Next to Formed who had a facial expression as if he had just acquired his resolve, Layfon continued to blankly observe. Strengthening his eyesight with Kei, Layfon could see the aftermath of the damage from his location in detail. He could clearly tell the damage was made from a blow with a fist.
(It's so small.)
The size of that hand bothered Layfon. Whether for an adult or a student, the hand was still on the small side. There was still the possibility that it was a male with a small build, but what clearly came to mind was the figure of a woman. Layfon shifted his focus to the ground in front of the shutters. If it were that blow, it wouldn't have been strange to leave a footprint behind. However, it seemed as though that wasn't the case. If that is the case, the strike was made by jumping from a distance.
(An agile blow from a short female Military Artist)
Upon arriving at that conclusion, Layfon looked elsewhere.
"However......" Formed let the problem slip. "It seems the culprit failed to break through the shutters. After that, the security alarm sounded causing the suspect to flee, however doesn't that seem quite foolish?"
Layfon also thought something along those lines.
"It feels like something came charging in at full speed, doesn't it?"
Naruki nodded in assent.
"It seems there wasn't anything remotely resembling a plan. To get impatient to that extent...... Something or other feels strange."
Taking a sidelong glance at the quarreling pair as he leaned against the sofa, and closing his eyes so he wouldn't notice them. The night is long. He could take a short rest, or so he thought.
The change occured later that night. At that time, Layfon was on top of the warehouse's roof. He sat on the roof with his legs stretched out and his eyes shut. While using Sakkei to hide his presence, Layfon extended the sensation in his hands in all directions, reading disturbances in the atmosphere. In the sky, the newly waxing crescent of the moon seemed to be drawn, shining, on the thick clouds before it.
Upon sensing a disturbance, Layfon opened his eyes. Even now, Layfon maintained Sakkei. Meanwhile, his dite remained in its weapon harness. If he were to restore it, the kei would undo his Sakkei. In order to not come out of this empty handed, he knew it would come to him. A presence…… From where he stood, Layfon looked in its direction. It came from the front of the warehouse.
Layfon stood, waiting to give the signal. Here and there, guards stood, hiding in wait with all equipment ready. While the night drew long, Layfon suppressed his presence and approached, jumping to the top of the nearest warehouse. For the time being, he suppressed his presence to the point where he couldn't even think of getting caught.
(If it's from here, then)
Even if the opponent were to flee, he would pursue. Without any feeling of haste, Layfon drew his dite from its holster. The City Police have yet to complete their preparations, after all. Until one reached the vicinity of the warehouse building, the ground sloped downward. From there, it was a straight path to the warehouse. There was no getting lost on the way to the warehouse.
At that time, if all of the hidden police officers in front of warehouse D17 in which Layfon was located were to stand up, there wouldn't be a single stretch of ground left uncovered. If the owner of the presence were to run through, they would spread out and cast it over the subject.
A net. It wasn't just an ordinary net. The weights at the end of the nets contained batteries that, once activated, would release an electrical current for ten minutes through the net that would render a body immobile for its duration. The ten-minute net spanned the entire roadway, and if the even a hint of an intruder would show itself, they would have him covered immediately. Meanwhile,
In response to a piercing shriek coming from the police hidden on the roof, Layfon rescinded his Sakkei and restored his dite. A sudden cross wind had caused the net fall and delayed preparations by an hour. That incident giving the short individual the opportunity to escape. Layfon allowed his Kei to rise throughout his body in order to intimidate the approaching presence. In that instance, that small body stopped moving straight forward and fled perpendicular to the front of the warehouse. Layfon chased behind, running along the roof's edge. The small attacker's figure was in his sights.
Fast……but not a speed he couldn't follow. If he enhanced his vision with Kei to make out the appearance of the target, he could ponder on how to apprehend the subject.
There was just one more thing. That sudden squall that rendered the net useless was not something natural.
(One more person, where is he hiding?)
Surely even now, he is probably hiding with his presence suppressed nearby. Scanning the area while running, he a feeling that the target was in the immediate vicinity, but exactly where he could not pinpoint.
(Somehow, they aimed for that opportunity)
If they aimed for it, now what? Layfon ran while pondering, expanding his his field of vision while following the target.
Running at full speed, the fleeing presence didn't appear as though it would change direction.
(If things proceeds at this rate……)
The Warehouse district was appeared to be constructed adjoined to the Manufacturing district. For a split second, his field of vision shifted forward.
(He chose a quiet area……?)
Just as he was thinking that, he approached closer to the target from behind. This left Layfon perturbed.
It seemed about ready to begin.
Hostile intent from behind, in addition the raider fled from right out from underfoot. As much as he would like to, he wouldn't be able to handle both parties.
(What should I do?)
In that moment of hesitation, a new presence had appeared from a different direction.
He didn't think it was an ally. Layfon swung his sword towards his front. A burst of kei shot from the tip of the blade and upon meeting something, exploded. The new presence had shot their own external kei burst. The explosion scattered through the air. Layfon, as if part of it, flew. Their aim was that rear presence.
The approaching enemy would be easier to capture. That's what he thought, but……
Dashing forward in midst of repositioning himself in mid air, Layfon sensed the rear presence retreating.
"Like I'd let you escape!"
While Layfon readjusted his balance, the presence threw something in his direction. Layfon fired a burst of kei in its direction, intercepting the object.
Halting his charge, Layfon prepared himself for the impending attack under the effect of the lingering afterimage.
But it never came.
The unknown presence had used the situation to flee.
"They got me……"
All three of the unknown presences have left without a trace, leaving them crestfallen.
That night, after debriefing, Layfon parted with Formed's group, but didn't immediately head home. Tearing his glance away from the dejected appearance of Naruki and company, he turned in the direction of the dorms and started walking. With the moon, almost completely engulfed in clouds, the path was lit with only the street lamps. Layfon, walking silently, was able to make out a shadow in the orange light of a street lamp.
"I couldn't have imagined that he could spot me from there."
The surprised figure raised its voice
"I didn't think you'd be able to notice me from here. I'm not being conceited."
The large frame with light shining down, appearing as though not stirring an inch, responded.
"What is going on? That was……"
"Don't say it."
Due to the large frame, Gorneo's physique was disproportional to his attractive face.
"You don't have anything to do with it. ……Is what I'd like to say, but I can't."
Gorneo's words were clearly filled with repugnance.
"Then, as I thought"
"That's right, that was Shante."
On top of warehouse D17, Layfon reliably confirmed the appearance of the raider with his enhanced sight. A figure with red hair fluttering as though from a bonfire, there was no mistaking it.
"I don't know either."
Gorneo regretfully shook his head.
"Beginning a few days ago, she hasn't been going back to her room. My search ended here, good grief……"
In this state of affairs, it appeared as though he wasn't able to capture Shante.
"So from the rear, that was?"
So that new presence on Shante's path was Gorneo. Layfon realized what that Kei technique that attacked him was.
So then, who was the presence that approached from behind……
"About that. That wasn't my opener."
With the involvement of the fifth platoons members, Gorneo would have just declared it. Trusting him, Layfon nodded.
"But I thought those movements looked familiar though."
There was another thing.
Above all else, even if Layfon were able to catch Shante, the presence behind was moving to interfere.
Understanding that the person before him was Gorneo, the figure that took him by surprise seemed only there to serve as a distraction, meanwhile Layfon noticed that the figure was not persistent about the action and fled just as easily.
Moreover, there was the issue of the flashbomb used. The item that used light and sound to disorient the party, He couldn't see a general studies student or even an ordinary Military Arts Students capable of causing this much damage.
In the case of platoon members, even if they could apply to set up a platoon match with the intention of using it as a trap, they would not be able deceive the management nor would they be able to carry out the plan outside of the fields.
"Covert military artists from other cities. If you think about it, it's somehow appropriate."
Gorneo came to that conclusion. Of Grendan's military families, the fame of the Luckens household having turned out two Heaven's Blade, couldn't possibly be hidden. With Grendan's history along with his origins in the Luckens family, under the appearance of city camaraderie an unspoken feud was brewing, one beyond Layfon's understanding.
"And about Shante's objective?"
"That I don't know. Her upbringing was unique, however she's still an orphan. If she does have an objective, I can't fathom what it could be."
"It's the Sea of Forests City Erupa."
After hearing that, Layfon went on to tell Gorneo of the thing at the warehouse.
"Heartseer fruit……I've never heard of it, but there should be a reason why Shante's so persistent about it. I can't think of her being interested in the Kei Accelerating Drug's properties, though. There must be some sort of connection."
"It's a habit, so is that it?"
"Since she was raised by beasts for a short while or so I heard, the heartseer fruit may have attracted a part of her instincts. However, with just that, it was able to seize her attention.
"It would probably be better to leave further investigation to the City Police."
"However if we do that, I'm sure that Shante would be pinned as the culprit. After keeping it under wraps, we couldn't bring it up now."
If word had gotten out that Shante was involved in the warehouse raid, forcing her to drop out wouldn't be the only consequence. Shante is the main force of the fifth platoon. One of Gorneo's principle duties was the development of his team, so the fifth platoon may be dissolved as a result.
"No matter how you look at it, this will get out sooner or later. More importantly, I think it would be a good idea for us to look for any tools she used. Formed is a reasonable and hardworking person. Rather than keeping it a secret, it would be better to collaborate."
"……You bastard, why do you go through so much just to trouble me?"
Layfon and Gorneo have a history between them. When he was still in Grendan, Layfon was responsible for seriously injuring Gorneo's senior beyond recovery. That caused Layfon to leave Grendan, with Gorneo, who was already in Zuellni at the time, found out soon after.
Having injured his senior beyond recovery, Gorneo held a grudge against Layfon.
Thus, having this conversation exemplified the gravity of Gorneo's predicament.
Gazing at him with what seemed to be a doubtful gaze, Layfon only replied with a bitter smile.
"I think our commanding officer wouldn't want the 5th platoon disbanded."
"……That's, the current you?"
After muttering that reply, Gorneo let out a sigh and proceeded to nod in assent.
Van Allen's Day. The appointed day had come.
That morning, while Layfon had just finished preparing and set out, in addition to Naruki, Meishen and company also were there.
"Morning. What's wrong?"
The reason why he didn't come to class already became the subject of conversation. Generally speaking with the other two here, Layfon merely kept his head bowed keeping Naruki's circumstance in mind.
"Here, I brought refreshments."
With that said, she held out a basket.
"It's lunchtime, so go ahead and eat."
With Mifi grinning broadly from behind, Meishen's face was bright red, while Layfon gratefully received it.
After Meishen returned to Mifi's side of whom was hanging her head in shame, Layfon inquired about something he had just remembered.
"Do you know about a shop by the name of Rinka?"
Having been asked, Meishen, looking as though she were searching her memory, opened her eyes.
"I think it's probably a confectionary shop, but……"
It was a shop that ordered the production of the Heartseer fruit, but the full details were unknown. They ordered it for the coming of Van Allen's day, therefore there seems to be no mistake the shop's purpose of making sweets from what Meishen told him. He guessed that Naruki had checked the address and so forth.
Suddenly, Mifi clapped her hands together.
"Ah, I remember now. When Nakki wasn't around, we went to that shop. It wasn't there around the time of the entrance ceremony."
Having just remembered, Meishen nodded in assent many times over.
"What kind of shop was it?"
"It looked like a cafe that only served cake and tea. But……"
"So-mehow, it seemed like they had no motivation."
"That's right. The cakes seemed like they were made because they had to, and in spite of that the tea wasn't even very good. It was an ordinary shop. There didn't seem to be any regulars, and it felt like they had a lot of free time."
"There weren't any other customers, and it felt really hard to stay."
In response to the nodding pair, Layfon and Naruki's eyes met.