Hidan no Aria:Volume5 Chapter1
 Pierce 1: The Man Beyond Space and Time
Shouting, I realized that Kana, cradled in my arms, was slowly losing strength.
The blood, flowing out of his left chest, showed no sign of stopping.
Aah, I won't accept it.
But, Kana was--shot through the heart!
Butei High's bullet proof uniform can block even a shot from a high-caliber rifle.
However, the bullet that Kana was shot with...I'm afraid that it was an anti-tank bullet.
It's definitely that kind of armor-piercing bullet, which in theory could be made, yet was was outlawed by International Law.
In a trembling, masculine voice--Apparently, Hysteria Mode had worn off--With a sharp gaze, Kana—no, Nii-san handed something to me, which had been hidden behind his back.
"This is, Aria's...!"
Silver-white and pitch-black M1911's, along with their magazines.
Nii-san had probably found where Patra had these hidden.
Taking them, I couldn't help but turn my head, looking at Aria, who was standing on the tip of the Annbelle, in a daze.
"Aria, get down! We're under attack! Do you want to get hit!?"
*Thump* Her butt hitting the deck, Aria...was still staring at Sherlock. However, because she was still in a state of such shock, it appeared as if she was seeing nothing but a blur.
I can't blame her. After all, the person who attacked Nii-san is the 'Perfect Person' that Aria respects from the bottom of her heart. Even keeping his photo by her side, no matter where she goes...Sherlock Holmes.
--Aria's great-grandfather himself!
The person in Inquesta textbooks, written as being born in 1854, Sherlock...was still alive.
Not only that, he was the leader of I-U.
Her heart and mind could not possibly keep up with all the events that had suddenly transpired.
I--slipped the guns into the holsters on the paralyzed Aria's legs, hiding behind the railing at the edge of the deck, staring out to see.
Making Aria's innocent mother taking the full weight of their charges, the outlaw group.
Something that even countries could not fight against, an organization of the elite.
And now, they had floated up in front of us.
--I see. No wonder no country was able to exterminate them.
Because I-U is something that's submerged inside the vast oceans...a nuclear submarine!
My mind flashed back to the plane-jacking incident from 4 months ago.
At that time, Flight ANA600, flying above Sagami Bay, was hit by an anti-air missile attack from an unknown location. That, too, must have been fired by I-U--out of the sea!
Suddenly, my gaze fell onto that.
But, it was already too late.
The two trails of water that I noticed inside the shallow waters--coming from the direction of I-U, which we were facing, they were heading straight for the Annbelle.
Aria had noticed them as well, and when she had emitted a noise that expressed her inability to understand--two explosions rang out in unison, and a reverberation stemming from the bottom of the Annbelle getting impacted, went through the whole ship.
Pillars of water shot out from the water and droplets of water hit the deck, as if we had entered a rainstorm.
Behind me, Shirayuki's voice reached my ears.
Turning my head, panicked, I saw Shirayuki grasping hold of Patra's golden coffin, which had fallen over from the previous impact, barely keeping her balance.
"I-I'm fine! Just now was...!?"
"I only saw it for a moment, but that was...I'm afraid that those were MK-60 torpedoes! I-U has attacked us!"
Shouting, still under the influence of Hysteria Mode, I confirmed the grievous situation.
The bottom of the Annbelle, having already been weakened by Patra, who had tried to sink it, completely cracked from the impact and detonation of the torpedoes, letting water rush in.
Barely floating on the surface of the ocean, the ship was visibly sinking, and not only that, there were raging fires on the lower parts of the deck, raising a thick screen of smoke.
Fatal flooding as well as shipboard fires--This won't do, we have to abandon ship!
Thinking back to the blueprints of the Annbelle that I had seen before, I,
"Shirayuki, on the stern of the ship, there are lifeboats! Get those down!"
-started issuing orders. Shirayuki immediately rushed to the aft end of the deck.
The next moment--*Clank!*
Patra had kicked the lid off, jumping out of the golden coffin that Shirayuki had just left.
And, turning a flip with her undergarments, which looked like a bikini, Patra started running, her hair in a mess.
Ignoring me, who was about to draw my gun, Patra flew over to Nii-san's side, with movements akin to that of an animal.
And she kicked at me with her bare feet, which had lost their gold sandals, pushing me aside.
"Kinichi, Aah, Kinichi...!"
Tears in her eyes, Patra laid her hands on Nii-san's wounded chest, and they emitted a blue light.
Seeing this scene, my instinct told me that the person who healed Aria's bullet wound, Patra--has healing techniques, after all.
However, that expression, full of exertion, told me that, having lost her pyramid as a magical source, she didn't know whether she could save Nii-san, who was near death.
--So, this isn't the time to take Patra back into custody.
The tip of the Annbelle was spewing out smoke, and I-U was heading towards us at full speed. From the bridge, sticking out of the back--
Sherlock Holmes strode onto the deck, seemingly going to walk the whole 300 meters of the nuclear submarine to come here.
(He...! Is coming...!)
I can only commit everything--huh.
I-U's leader, the hero of England from the past century, Sherlock Holmes.
The name I-U had come from the codename for submarines during the World War 60 years ago, the submarine itself had come from Russia, 30 years ago--
A submarine that had been stolen from the former Soviet Union. And, it was equipped with modern American MK-60s.
Sherlock Holmes, you're exactly like the books described. You're well deserving of that reputation.
You're the 'Man Who Has Walked This Whole World'--
No, the 'Man Beyond Space and Time'.
*Rumble*...In the wake of the deep noise, the Annbelle, seemingly having been hit by the I-U under the waterline, shuddered.
What are you doing, Sherlock Holmes?
Are you fighting us directly?
But, the Annbelle is burning up.
(How are you going to get through that wall of fire--?)
As I thought this, in front of my eyes, *Shhh*....Something white, riding atop the wind, swept past.
Under the illumination of the fire, its multiple facets sparkled, just like a gem, as it danced through the air.
Those small droplets, dividing and growing greater were--Diamond Dust.
The ice of the magic of the Diamond Dust Witch, Jeanne d'Arc was scattering around the fire, as if it was going to smother it.
At the same time that I had noticed this, the curtain of smoke and fire was pushed back by the ice.
And afterward, *Kira Kira*...His whole body, looking like it was covered with the ice particles in the midst of the light of the inferno, he...
The famous detective that all hailed as the best, and the strongest.
That body, clothed in old-fashioned English clothes, was tall. Roughly 180 centimeters. His age--I don't know why, but he looked like he was only in his early twenties.
His hair was neatly brushed into a barragan, his nose was tall, and his face was firm and handsome...however, he was even more imposing than the photos of him in textbooks, radiating an extremely powerful aura.
*Tap, Tap* His black leather shoes ringing out, he strode towards us. Behind him, the seawater, freezing, had, at some unknown point in time, created a gigantic block of ice that looked like a gigantic barge.
From that floating block of ice, a gold staircase, linking up with the Annbelle, crumbled back into gold sand...the gold sand and ice, mixing together, flew through the air, creating something like a background behind him.
Seeing this scene, the me in Hysteria Mode understood.
Like links of a chain clicking together, I understood everything about this man in one breath.
(...I see, that's how it is...)
Sherlock had used Nii-san's technique -- 'Invisible Bullet' to attack him. Not only that, but he also used Jeanne's Ice Magic, Patra's alchemy, and like Vlad Dracula, he was living for over a hundred years.
Vlad and Jeanne had said this already.
I-U is the gathering place of those geniuses who hold supernatural powers, where they copy them off each other.
Something that only geniuses can do, they shared their infinite abilities.
And the end result is, the materialization of the perfect form of all their abilities combined.
And this perfect form is definitely the strongest. Recognized as the strongest existence, he is beheld with fear.
Which is to say, their leader--Sherlock Holmes--!
"--I had already deduced that this would be our time of meeting."
The first sound that Sherlock uttered made me tense every cell in my body.
What is this aura.
This can only be called charisma.
Something that would make anybody in front of this man, bow down before him--
The difference in power was made clear with just those few words.
"--Excellent deductions allow me to know the near future. I call that 'Cognis'. In short, I knew everything about this beforehand. Therefore, Kana-kun...no, Tohyama Kinichi-kun. Even what you were hiding inside your chest--I was able to deduce."
Sherlock said something, as if he was answering a question to an exam, to Nii-san, who was about to die.
Not able to make a sound, yet still saying something, Nii-san--*Cough Cough* coughed up blood.
However, using the lip reading techniques I learned in Inquesta, he said "I see."
"Then, Tohyama Kinichi. You know about me, right? No, it isn't pride that makes me want you to understand me. After all, I myself, I've been portrayed by all those hated books and movies. But what is laughable is--that is all I can say to you. Because nobody could think that you can introduce me."
Used to not directly coming to the point, Sherlock paused--
"--Nice to meet you. I am Sherlock Holmes."
He introduced himself.
Yes, that's right. This is the real thing. He's not a fake. My instincts in Hysteria Mode were telling me this as well. They were telling me not to delude myself into thinking that he was somebody dressed up as the real thing, or even a robot.
Hearing Sherlock call her name, Aria, who was in a daze, started.
And, her gaze met with her blood relative--
In that moment, it felt as if a thousand, ten thousand words had been exchanged.
"The times are changing, but you're the same as ever. The hairstyle of those ladies in the Holmes bloodline, keep it well. That was the first thing I ordered your great-grandmother to do. Because, I had already deduced when you would appear."
Staring at Aria's twin tails, Sherlock--
-strode into our midst casually even though we were armed, like a teacher would do, facing his students.
Instinctively, I raised the barrel of my Beretta, pointing it towards him.
"--Be a little more prudent. Because, if you continue to play with sharp objects, then one day, you yourself will be cut."
Sherlock wasn't looking at me, but this was clearly--a warning.
With that sentence, my hand felt like it had been bound by something, and it stopped.
What is he?
Is this what a true--'Ancestor' is?
Is it because he isn't a descendant like us, but is the real thing?
"Aria-kun. You're very beautiful. And strong. You--hold the ability of becoming the most excellent lady of the Holmes bloodline. However, you were taken as a burden of the Holmes family, and were called a defect...the day that one's own ability isn't recognized by their own family must be every painful. I--have come to name you as my successor."
Completely at a loss for words, Aria murmured something softly.
This isn't resistance.
It was like confirming the reality that he had spoken to herself once again. That kind of weak voice.
"Come, Aria-kun. As long as you feel you can. Come, Aria-kun. Even if you feel you can't."
Sherlock flicked away the fabric of his coat, reaching out.
Whole body frozen, Aria's eyes, normally filled with the light of victory and triumph, were now showing a glimpse of weakness.
"Come, like this, we can save your mother."
This sentence made Aria, whose eyes were opened wide to begin with, stretch her eyes even wider.
That was evidently--different from the stunned appearance of just now.
Sherlock spoke, flashing a happy expression which conveyed "This reaction is just how I deduced it would be,"--
He swayed, with a movement as refined and hypnotic as ballroom dancing, embracing Aria to himself.
"--Hesitation will very easily fill those who make the wrong decision with endless regret."
Taking advantage of her indecision, *whoosh*, he swept her into his arms, princess-style.
Aria cried out, almost gasping, but--she did not resist.
Just, letting him hold her.
With a movement filled with pity, Sherlock stroked Aria's clothes, where her scar from being shot was--*whoosh*
He stood up, letting Aria, still in his arms, see the nuclear submarine directly in front.
"Let's go. That is your I-U."
In front of Sherlock, the inferno had already been quelled by the power of the Diamond Dust...
And the magnificent grandeur of I-U was once again visible.
Turning her head in his embrace, Aria had a strange expression. It was full of confusion and timidity.
But still, she did not resist.
She accepted Sherlock's words, accepted this sudden reversal.
"Aria-kun. You are all students. So, from now onwards, it is time to start 'studying'"
Saying this, Sherlock, as if jumping over a small brook, leaped off the head of the Annbelle.
For just a moment, the long coat spread wide open, just like a paper aeroplane, and he softly landed on the iceberg in front of I-U.
This distance that humans should not be able to jump, whether it be distance or height, with just one leap--
Just now, his coat moved unnaturally.
That is the same thing that allows Riko to control her hair, Ability...!
He also knows how to use that?
No, what is most important right now is--Aria.
Aria is going to be taken by him to I-U.
Before this, Patra had taken Aria as well, but this time, the implications were completely different. This time, the situation was far more dire.
When Sherlock had taken Aria into his arms, if she had wanted to escape, she could have. At least, she could have struggled in an attempt to escape.
However, Aria did no such thing.
She didn't run.
Receiving affirmation from Sherlock Holmes, the one figure she truly admired and respected, hearing that she was chosen as his successor, and...hearing that she could save her mother who had entered prison on false charges, Kanzaki Kanae...
These must have stripped her of any reason to resist.
Don't go over there.
I understand. I inherently understand.
He--Sherlock Holmes, is dangerous.
After Sherlock's binding on my hand had slowly faded away, I finally shouted out on the head of the Annbelle, which was just about to sink...because this shout made me realize the gravity of the situation I was in again, I grit my teeth.
My comrade, my partner, from in front of my eyes, widened like this, is being taken away from me.
--I will chase.
However, I have no way of jumping onto the iceberg from here, no way of getting onto I-U.
What do I do...!
Only able to scream, I roared once again.
A burning feeling permeated my body, starting from my core.
"This is--Hysteria Mode...? No. I should already be inside Hysteria Mode."
Different. There's something different. What I'm feeling right now, as compared to what I normally feel, is different...!
"...Sher...lock...you bastard. Did you think...that if you shot me through the heart, you would be able...to stop...my justice...?"
Hearing Nii-san's voice come from behind me, I turned my head.
I saw that he had ripped off his uniform, throwing it off, and now, standing there, completely clothed in bulletproof material, just like an assassin, Nii-san, was struggling, trying to stand up.
The blood oozing out of his chest had slowed, but not stopped.
"Do-don't stand up, Kinichi! Don't stand up! Your injury hasn't been healed yet!"
Patra held Nii-san tightly, trying to stop him.
"This is fine--don't heal me anymore."
Saying this, emphasizing each word, Nii-san opened the long hair reaching down his back--Whether it was because he wished to lighten himself, I did not know, but he let the blade of the scythe that was hidden in his hair, fall to the ground.
That, sharp gaze--
Didn't even allow me to suck in a breath.
Nii-san, at some period of time--went into Hysteria Mode again...!?
How did he change? Losing the ability to be Kana, and in this kind of situation, where it would be impossible to be sexually excited by the opposite gender, how...did he change?
Nii-san, as if answering my unspoken question, brushed the blood of his lip, coming to stand next to me--
"Kinji, listen well. HSS--Hysteria Mode, because of maturity, or times of need, will evolve and form a derivative. The me as of right now, is in Hysteria Agonizante."
What...did you say?
Hysteria Mode's derivative...!?
"Another name is, near-death Hysteria Mode. Those men that receive near-fatal wounds, will, before they die, receive an enormous instinct to leave their young behind--this is the Hysteria Mode under the influence of that instinct."
I really didn't know...It appears that inside our Hysteria Mode, there still lies another hidden ability.
But--isn't that a Hysteria Mode that is used at the cost of one's life!?
"Nii-san, stop it...Do-don't fight like this!"
"Don't interrupt me, Kinji. This is a good opportunity. This ship is Japanese. Japanese laws apply on this boat. Just now, he committed the crime of kidnapping a minor--This is a rare opportunity in which we can arrest Sherlock in flagrante delicto."
"Kinji, remember this. One act of greatness overshadows a life of nothingness...!"
For the sake of the 'Justice' you believe in...
You want to use that already broken heart,
-using all that you have without reserve.
To fight him!?
"Kinji, listen to me. Hearing your shout from just now--I have confirmed it. The Hysteria Mode that you are in right now isn't normal."
What...did you say?
"The normal Hysteria Mode is Hysteria Normale. However, the you as of right now is slowly going into Hysteria Berserk--the Hysteria Mode when a woman is being taken away. Because, in front of your eyes...you saw another man take away a woman."
"Be careful...Hysteria Berserk accelerates, aggravates, and enhances the hate and jealousy that you feel for other men, a very dangerous mode. Sometimes it will spill over to women as well, sometimes you will even take all a woman has with force. Your battle prowess is 1.7 times that of Hysteria Normale, but your thoughts will be completely focused upon aggression--so this too, is a double-edged sword. That mode will appear in unpredictable situations--it's not impossible to control, but the first time will be very difficult...But Kinji, I'm very sorry, but I have no time to warn you anymore. When the hull still hasn't sunk till it's 1-meter above the waterline, jump--follow me...!"
Opening my eyes in continuous amazement, I--
-because of Nii-san's last sentence, my eyes widened even more.
A few years ago...I had continuously tormented Nii-san, trying to get him to let me 'fight together' with him.
However, Nii-san has never been my partner. Not even once.
And that is because, knowing the enormity of the distance between us, he thought I would be a burden.
So, last month, when he said that we should kill Aria together, Nii-san probably just wanted me to act as a lure.
But now, Nii-san said it clearly.
He clearly said--
"--By myself, I stand no chance against Sherlock. You by yourself cannot stand against him either. However, if it's us two brothers...us two brothers, both inside Hysteria Mode, we have a chance of victory!"
When two Butei are to be partners, they have to have mutual agreement.
This is something that is even written in Butei Law, a great regulation.
Right now, Nii-san is--showing his faith in me, asking for my will to prepare to do battle by his side.
--I want to answer him...!
I wish to respond to his faith. Because, this is the first time, and could be the last.
Making that decision, I felt my trembling body filled with a whole new power.
Annbelle will soon sink to a level where we can jump onto that iceberg.
"Exodus 14:21 --Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided."
And like the verse that Nii-san had recited, I-U split apart the waves, as if making one big road, as it appeared onto the ocean.
And now, Aria was being brought on by that road.
"...Let's go, Kinji! First, we save Aria!"
Never leaving his companions, Nii-san jumped on to the iceberg first.
"--After, we arrest Sherlock Holmes! Follow me!"
Nii-san yelled, using that superhuman strength to quickly leap across the surface of the ice.
Hearing Patra wail Nii-san's name, I--followed him, I jumped--
With all the power of Hysteria Mode rushing through my veins--!
Nii-san and I continued to sprint across the large block of ice leading to I-U.
Below our feet, the ice cracked and mixed together, as if we were stepping on snow.
At the far edge of my vision, I could see Sherlock's back, holding Aria while walking onto I-U.
It's so far. There was still a huge distance between us and them.
All around us was a storm of diamond dust, the iceberg below us froze even further, becoming a field of diamond dust.
The sound of gigantic icebergs scraping against each other rang out from under us.
What kind of--magic do you have, Sherlock Holmes...!
Just turning my eyes and holding my Beretta, I gritted my teeth, having already been covered with frost.
"--Don't be afraid, Kinji! This ice is nothing before us!"
Not allowing me to show any weakness, Nii-san shouted out.
"We have guns! Bullets, made completely of metal, able to pierce through our target at supersonic speeds of 300 meters a second--guns are the thing we humans have made, an instrument of battle with no equal. And on this planet, the only thing that allows guns to be exploited to their full extent, is Hysteria Mode!"
Shouting, Nii-san sped through the storm like a hurricane.
The blood oozing out of his chest and back continued to build up.
I severed my weakness, staying right behind him. We had already passed the point of no return.
Piercing through the diamond dust, as sharp as knives, I didn't care about the small wounds opening up on my face and fingers--only rushing forward!
We broke through the storm, racing across the iceberg--
Nii-san and I landed on I-U's black deck.
Carrying Aria, Sherlock was walking towards a structure that was sticking out of a deck, the bridge.
Nii-san shouted, and in front of him, right in front of the absolute core of his body, a flash.
10 meters behind Sherlock, the bullet burst into sparks, having been deflected.
That was -- 'Billiard Shot'
Sherlock is using the gun-techniques that belong to us brothers.
It didn't surprise me. Nii-san was part of I-U after all, it makes sense that Sherlock would master his techniques.
But, during the 'Billiard Shot' just now...I didn't see his gun at all.
Which means, 'Billiard Shot' and 'Invisible Bullet'--these techniques that require incredible amounts of concentration, were used at the exact same time. And, while his back was facing this way.
Amazing. He doesn't only have ability. Sherlock's gun-techniques...are beyond ours as well.
--But! I will not be scared. We are two. Don't look down on our Hysteria Mode--!
As brothers, we had a mutual comprehension that required no words.
I immediately understood what Nii-san ordered me to do.
Following the flash and gunshot, Nii-san's 2nd bullet flew towards Sherlock.
And at the moment, when it burst into sparks and was deflected from behind Sherlock--
(--How about this!)
The Beretta in my grip spat forth tongues of fire, deflecting that bullet back at Sherlock.
The bullet, flying through the air in an N pattern--
Exploded into the 3rd shower of sparks.
Ugh, it was deflected...now it's an M...!
Sherlock--only half turning, smiled at me, who was stunned.
And he raised the right hand, which was carrying Aria, *Shhhhhh* extending his index finger, which was shaking.
In my mind, something slid into place.
At around the same time, *Bang Bang Bang Bang!* In front of Nii-san, four flashes of light appeared continuously.
This time it's 4 continuous shots of 'Invisible Bullet'--!
Immediately slotting the 6 bullets he had thrown in the air beforehand into the revolver, he fired off another 6.
Added to that, he whipped out the other, hidden Colt Peacemaker, adding on another 6 shots.
That which could be said to be a divine technique, a continuous 16-shot 'Invisible Bullet', sped towards Sherlock in unison.
But--*CLANK CLANK CLANK CLANK CLANK CLANK!*
All of them burst into sparks as they sped through the air.
It was completely blocked--even if it was a continuous 16-shot 'Invisible Bullet!'
My reflexes in Hysteria Mode stimulated my body into changing the magazine even before I had thought about it.
Using the Beretta, which had been set into full auto, I helped Nii-san to deflect the countless bullets hurtling through the air.
Not only 'Billiard Shot', but a few of them were also aimed at the enemy's muzzle flash--the location of the enemy's barrel, the new technique 'Mirror Shot', but all of our efforts were blocked by Sherlock's bullets.
--Billiard Shot, Billiard Shot, Mirror Shot, Billiard Shot--!
In the blink of an eye, in the air above I-U's deck, 32--64--increasing exponentially, over 100 bullets were deflected off each other, bursting into sparks in the 3-dimensional area.
If it were to have a name, it would be called 'Infinite Bulletstorm!'--!
The first time in history that a battle of 'Bullet Contact' has taken place.
Added to this, we were charging towards Sherlock, racing across the black, metal deck.
Continually closing in on an enemy position. Directly proportional to the number of bullets, continually increasing. The time that we had to notice and take care of each threat, had been compressed to a mere 0.01 seconds. One moment of carelessness would lead to death.
Within our sight, was a hurricane of bullets. And the eye of the storm, was us.
What kind of battle is this...! This is what it means to be on I-U--the place that we were standing, right now.
Hysteria Mode was exerting all it had, even Hysteria Berserk, which was above Hysteria Normale, was reaching its limit.
And Aria, her eyes wide open, was staring at this battle between the elite, the superhumans, in a daze--and it was her first time seeing Nii-san like this, battling like Ashura--
I'm sorry, Aria. I had never told you that he was my Nii-san.
But, the time for apologies comes later. The most important thing right now is--
(Getting to your side!)
As if having felt my feelings of complete abandonment, Sherlock jumped, performing a flip in the air. With just that one jump, he mounted the 7 meter tall bridge.
Spinning around, Sherlock turned Aria, in his arms, to face us.
If I shoot now, I'll hit--Aria!
Sherlock's next movements made me crease my eyebrows into a frown.
His hands, lightly supporting Aria, touched her ears.
And the tie of his suit, split open with a *RIIIP*. The buttons on his shirt all burst off.
That chest--as if it was a balloon, was...expanding...
The thing that Vlad Dracula used in Yokohama-- 'Wallachia's Magic Flute!'
The wail that Sherlock suddenly blasted forth blew away the clouds, even the ocean started to froth, as if it was boiling.
This impact is...what!?
That wail pulsed through all the organs in my body. My lungs exploded, my breathing stopped, and my intestines felt like they were about to spill out of my mouth.
Clasping my hands over my ears as if my life depended on it, I crouched, trying to endure that enormous attack.
His voice was vibrating. Trying to escape from the midst of this air pressure was completely impossible.
I could only hold my hands to my ears, close my eyes tight, grit my teeth, enduring it with all I had...!
His goal is to dispel our Hysteria Mode.
How could--we let you dispel it!
Hysteria Mode--is the one lifeline that gives us a chance to win this battle!
...Not long after, noticing that the enormous roar was getting weaker, I...in a panic, investigated my own blood flow.
My blood flow...great...it's fine! Hysteria Mode wasn't dispelled!
Sherlock's 'Wallachia's Magic Flute!'--was endured by me!
But, turning around...
I saw that Nii-san hadn't covered his ears.
Blood was leaking out of them, and his fingers, reaching out to Sherlock like a hook, were frozen in that crooked position.
Not able to take any defensive measures against Sherlock's sudden attack, Nii-san--his wound on the chest, which he had forbidden Patra form healing further, spurted out fresh blood once again.
Nii-san, Nii-san's final Hysteria Mode, was dispelled!
Nii-san dashed towards me,
"Kin...Kinji! ---Get away!"
-pushing me away, who was facing him, bewildered.
In the moment when I widened my eyes.
The place that my heart was just now, and the place that Nii-san's heart was right now--*Bch!*
-leaving behind a tail of blood in the air, pierced through it--
I used all the strength in my body to support Nii-san, who was about to fall down.
Nii-san predicted it.
He predicted that I, because of his injury, would get hit, and would die.
And, having been jerked out of Hysteria Mode, Nii-san gave up the possibility of using 'Billiard Shot' to defend--and he used his own body, sacrificed himself, just to protect me...!
Even though his heart had been pierced for the 2nd time, Nii-san still raised his Colt Peacemaker, pointing it towards the bridge--
But all trace of Sherlock had already disappeared.
"...Kinji...chase after him...! That bastard, do-don't let...him...run to a lifeboat...!"
Under the support of my shoulder, crimson-black blood started spurting out of his mouth as he gave me an order.
"Nii-san...! How do I...!"
Nii-san, as if trying to stop me from speaking--laughed.
"Hehe...having you worry about me...I will go back..."
Afterward, he took out two 9mm bullets that were hidden in his hair, handing them to me.
"In a battle that 'Billiard Shot' cannot be used, use this...!"
The black and white bullets that I had taken off the crescent shaped card were--
This was the first time I had seen them, but the engraving on top could not have been wrong. DAL (Detective Armed Lethal)--
Nicknamed, Butei bullets.
On each of these Butei bullets, there were various hidden special properties, enhanced bullets. Only professionals in the field of bullet-making could make them. They were expensive and rare, lethal weapons only circulated among the elite Butei.
"Kinji, go and--attack! We've already come this far...already this far...!"
*Cough Cough!* Spitting out blood, Nii-san clutched my sleeve.
"This is probably the first time I've asked something unreasonable of you...I order you to, only relying on one pistol and one knife, to fight this submarine...! Kinji--In life, there will be times where you have to do things that are completely outside the boundaries of reason...! Now, this is one of those times!"
Nii-san, half forceful, span me around, making me face I-U's bridge.
Because it seemed that, even with this, I was going to retreat, he encouraged me...
"--Don't you dare turn back!"
Using the ultimate secret technique of all those in the Tohyama bloodline, who were born hardheaded--he headbutted me, encouraging me.
"Kinji...Don't you dare turn back...! Go now...!"
Nii-san is--ordering me.
He's using an order...to leave this mission to me.
I--closed my eyes. I told myself not to turn back. I told myself to abide by Nii-san's order.
Afterward, I opened them again, staring angrily at I-U.
Go! Yes, for the sake of Nii-san's order.
"--If you die, I'll never acknowledge myself as your little brother again!"
Shouting as loud as I could, I heard Nii-san chuckle.
"Then, Kinji. You--forever, will be my little brother."
Climbing up the stairs on the side of the bridge, I jumped in the pressure valve. Holding the Beretta and rushing down the winding staircase, I...
-by what could be called an exterior hall, a huge hall resembling a theater, was stopped in my tracks.
What...is this place...
In this bottom level, the gigantic chandeliers, hanging down from what I feared was the top level, the deck, illuminated the floor, which was rock which had naturally formed from erosion.
And on the floor--towering over me were skeletal models of Tyrannosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and Plesiosaurus and other dinosaurs.
The walls were lined with enormous wooden shelves, reaching all the way up to the ceiling. Fearing that all this was for academic interest, I looked, and--the shelves were lined with the shells of giant clams, and shells of sea turtles.
Dugongs, dolphins, lions, tigers, wolves, and many other models of extinct animals that I had only ever seen in pictures.
Is this really the interior of a submarine?
Unbelievable. Just these decorations are probably worth 100, 200 billion.
It was exactly like a zoo, or a museum...No, this is a palace. An evil palace which roams the oceans.
Walking down the length of the hall, staying hidden by the fossils' feet, I frowned.
There were...no souls in sight. No members of I-U had come to do battle with me.
This is their stronghold.
But, this isn't the time to think about those things. If they aren't here, it's better for me.
I scanned the walls of the hall again--and I noticed that a door opened, all by itself.
--It was an invitation.
Where is Aria?
Charging down the winding staircase, I passed through a dark room filled with aquariums of coelacanths and multi-colored tropical fish. In front of that, was a garden, illuminated by a blinding sun lamp. Running past the corridor of peacocks, where many birds with vividly colored feathers were flying about, I arrived at another display. It was a huge warehouse that had gold, silver, and jewels, a compilation of all the minerals in the world.
Where, is Aria?
A long tapestry on the walls, stacked high with leather-bound books was a library. Filled with everything, from gold pianos to gramophones, a music room. Collecting weapons and armour from the Middle Ages, a small room.
Filled with bricks of gold and bank notes from countries all over the world, a treasury...I went through many, many different places.
But, each room, filled to the brim with astounding objects, gave me a feeling that I was just running in circles. Already having ran through all the rooms that I had found, I gasped for breath.
My breathing becoming more and more erratic, kneeling down in a room, which had a floor covered with soil, I--
With no way out, I scanned the hall, with no apparent exits.
Inside that vast, strange room.
The walls in front of me were covered in large oil paintings, and in each painting, there were--stone slabs, crosses, hexagrams, etc.
The leftmost portrait was a drawing of a fierce Japanese person in an old military uniform. On the top of it, I could see a title, which said 'Elite Squad Commander of Imperial Japanese Navy--First Generation I-U - Submarine Captain - Showa 19 years 8 months'. Directly right of it was a portrait of a German soldier with a 卍 badge.
The closer the portraits were to the right, the newer they were. Next was an African woman, a Chinese person in a wheelchair, an Arab with a gigantic beard, many different people.
This, I'm afraid it's...the graves of those that were captain of I-U.
As if confirming my thoughts, most to the right, about half-drawn--was Sherlock's portrait, hanging there.
--I see. I feel that I understand I-U's history now.
In the beginning, I-U was formed as a battle-group, raising the elite for the sake of defeating the enemy.
From the dates on the portraits, it was probably formed during 2nd World War. The first generation and 2nd generation captain were Japanese and German, respectively...which means, it was the joint-plan of the Axis powers. Jeanne had said that I-U uses German and Japanese as their main languages, probably as a reflection of its ancestors.
After the war, I-U used its own position as a submarine to escape its demise--and formed on its unique values, it became a secret organization. Using 'Professor' to substitute the commander, they sought to revamp the submarine, and now--it is within Sherlock's grasp--
This kind of... group, like that of war ghosts...!
(They took my nakama!)
I stood up again, pounding my feet into the floor, and behind Sherlock's painting...I heard something.
That sound made the me in Hysteria Mode think that it was hollow.
Striding towards the painting, I flipped open my butterfly knife--*Kch, Shiii...!" ripping open the canvas.
Snapping the tactical flashlight from my shoulder strap on, inside...I noticed a secret passageway, an escalator leading downwards.
I subconsciously understood.
I was approaching--Aria, and Sherlock...!
Going through that passageway, I arrived at...a classroom.
The whole marble floor was covered with latin engravings and statues, there were no chairs.
From the pictures on the pillars and the ceiling, this is--a Catholic Neo-Gothic styled classroom. Modern England should have new classrooms, but it appears that the captain, Sherlock, hesitated to change it, and just left it the way it was. Is this there some ceremony going to go on here? The white porcelain vases decorating the aisles and walls were filled with fresh flowers, giving this place a beautiful atmosphere. It makes this place feel like sacred ground.
Inside, the only light source...came from a complex stained glass window, standing there.
Aria was kneeling there, her back facing me.
Kneeling there as if she was confessing her sins, Aria heard my voice and span around, standing up.
I ran towards Aria, whose strawberry blonde twin tails were waving around.
And, my hands grabbed her small shoulders, pulling her towards me.
--What a relief. She's still safe.
"Why did you come, Kinji..."
"Do I really need to say it?"
Returning one sentence to Aria, who, because of the height difference, could only look up at me, I scanned the surroundings.
But, I didn't notice even one hint of Sherlock's presence.
"Sherlock...is he trying to pretend to be a gentleman? Leaving you alone in this kind of place. But, it's perfect that we managed to meet up. First let's temporarily retreat, and reco--"
From in front of me, who was talking. *Shh*
Aria took one step back.
"...What is it, Aria?"
From in front of me, who thought that I had heard wrong, Aria took another step back.
"Kinji, go back. Right now, you can still escape."
"Go back...what? What are you going to do?"
"I will stay here. After this...I'm going to stay here, living with my great-grandfather."
What...did you say?
You want to stay in I-U, living with Sherlock?
I approached her--
Aria, in response to my approach, stepped back even further.
"...You wouldn't understand. You, obviously wouldn't understand what I'm feeling right now..."
Finally, the light of refusal appeared in those camellia eyes--
"Because I, have never told you...about the situation in the Holmes family. Kinji, nobles...wish that each of its members can fulfill their duty as a member of the family. If that isn't the case, they aren't even allowed to exist. They will simply act as if such a person does not exist--"
Aria, completely different from usual, smiled a cold, chilling smile.
"And for those that couldn't reach the expected glory in the Holmes family, I am--the only one who hasn't fulfilled that level of power. So, I was called a defect--so, I was looked down upon, ignored by everyone other than mother. You must have had a vague sense of it, right? I...I was ignored by my the whole Holmes family! For my entire childhood!"
Hearing that sharp voice echoing through the classroom, I...
Thought back to the start of the first semester, when I had Riko investigate Aria, who was binding me.
"However, there seems to be some friction between Aria and the [H] family."
So, that was what was going on.
The defect of the Holmes family, Aria--
"But even though that was the case, I still had great-grandfather as a pillar, supporting my soul. The world may have only praised him for being a famous detective, but he was the predecessor to Butei. Therefore, wanting to achieve just half the glory and honor that my great-grandfather had--I became a Butei."
Backing up until she was about to touch the statue of Jesus, she placed her hands on the chest of her uniform.
As if she was expressing the thing that she kept inside her Butei Handbook--as if expressing the photo of Sherlock inside it.
"For me, my great-grandfather is a God. You could say that he is my one, true faith. And he, still living...appeared in front of me. DO you understand the feeling I have? My great-grandfather, acknowledged me! And he called me, who was cast down to the dregs of the Holmes family, his successor! You...can you understand what I'm feeling right now? --There's no way that you can!"
Seeing Aria, taken away by Sherlock, not resist, I had a vague, uneasy feeling...and now, from the looks of it, that feeling wasn't wrong.
I went "Tch" in my heart.
Sherlock Holmes--for Aria, is a God. Just like me, who used to view Nii-san as a God.
What Sherlock says, what he does, in the eyes of Aria, it is all good and righteous.
No matter what he says, she will obey, no matter what he has her do, she will accept. For her, Sherlock is that kind of absolute existence--
"Aria, calm down and think about this properly. The people that had Kanae-san carry those false charges is I-U. And Sherlock is I-U's leader."
Hearing her mother's name, Aria looked like she had been struck in the face--
But even with that, she still raised her eyebrows, glaring at me.
"Mother's situation...has been solved. Great-grandfather said that he will give I-U to me. With that, I can save mother. Here, I can collect all the evidence to free mother of her sentence. Why I-U hurt mother in the first place--for the reason of establishing the reason for that, I should stay here. There definitely was a deep, hidden reason behind it...!"
"Aria...aren't you putting the cart in front of the horse!? I-U are your enemies! And now, you want to become one of them--!?"
"Then, what do you want me to do!?"
Shouting loudly, baring her canines, Aria opened her hands wide, as if trying to express the whole of I-U.
"You, do you think that by yourself, you can bring I-U all the way to Tokyo? Ever since great-grandfather became the captain of this submarine, that's been impossible!"
"It's time to explain everything. You absolutely, cannot underestimate Sherlock Holmes. Great-grandfather, is not just a genius. He's strong, very strong! He's the strongest person in history--even if it's right now, even if you're in your other personality, there's no way you can stand against him. Kinji...you have to understand...there's no way you can do it!"
Seeing Aria, so stubborn--I, closed my eyes, slowly.
...Aahh, so this is how it is.
Sherlock is, for you, an absolute existence. Your mother's situation has been solved, here as well.
Since you trust in that so deeply, saying those kinds of things--
Then I have no need to hold back any words--
I will take what is in my heart, and pour it, pour it all out...!
"'No way, Tired, and Troublesome.'--Aria, the day I met you, that is what you said."
"You also said 'Those 3 points are the only things restricting the possibilities for humans. Don't ever say anything like that in front of me again.'"
"Listen well, Aria, since you're like this, I'm going to say this directly. These people, they're pirates! Your great-grandfather has lived too long, his mind is corrupted, that's why he became their leader!"
"...Don't you dare...insult great-grandfather...!"
As if I could not take it no longer, I closed my eyes.
Aah--this is the exact opposite of that time, Aria.
That time last month, when I was defending Kana, who had beat you half to death--arguing with you.
"As a Butei..., I will not forgive I-U, nor will I let it go free!"
"Now--there's no need for you to be a Butei any longer!"
Aria's widened camellia eyes and long eyelashes quivered as she roared out of rage and anger.
"Despite the fact that originally, you hated this job! Despite the fact that you said you wanted to give up being a Butei! Get out of here right now! Go and quit being a Butei right now! Before, you've seen the wound on my back, right!? That was from an assassination attempt! When I was 13 years old, I was suddenly hit by some unknown person! That was definitely done by some offender that hated everything Butei and the Holmes family stood for--at that time, the bullet sank so far in that even surgery couldn't get it out, even now, it is still embedded deep within my body! Butei are people that let their family and their children enter that kind of danger--the most dangerous job on this planet! That's why, Kinji, go back, don't be a Butei anymore...forget about me...For me, this is fine. For me, this is...!"
I just continued to gaze directly at the tears streaming down from her eyes--Aria.
"...As you said, I want to quit being a bloody Butei."
"It may not be my original intent--but right now, I am still a Butei. You and I, are both Butei. Not only that, we are partners. For a Butei, the mistake of a partner is one's own mistake. How can I watch as you surrender to the enemy, and even say 'this is fine'?"
If I was in the normal Hysteria Mode...I...
-would find it impossible to say these words, making Aria cry even more.
This...could be what Nii-san warned me about, the aggressive behaviour that the blood flow of Hysteria Berserk causes.
"--I no longer need any partners!"
Aria's seiyuu-like voice echoed throughout the classroom.
"You--obviously never wanted to be my partner! Now that things have come to this, what do you want! Insisting that I am your partner...!"
"The person who insisted was you. At that time, when you wanted me to be your partner."
I did not cower. The more I was refused and rejected, the more I became this way--
I understood, the blood flow of Hysteria Berserk was getting more and more powerful.
Facing Aria, a fierce emotion was bursting out of the dams of my heart.
"--as Butei, when we do maneuvers as partners, mutual agreement is required. But right now, we have no such thing. Therefore--I will gain your agreement. Even if it is by force."
"...Did you say...force? You want to use force...to do what to me?"
"Your partner is me. Not Sherlock. I will steal you back."
Seeming to be angry, her face turning red, Aria--
"...I...had a feeling that things would come to this."
Her eyebrows raised, her hands reached towards the short skirt of her uniform.
"...So, I'm going to try and talk you out of this. I don't want to hurt you."
"Ha--don't joke with me, Aria. In your heart, you believe that I have no chance of victory."
I laughed at Aria.
"Looks like in this part, you need some instruction--shortie. Before you start your education as an elite of I-U."
Pretending to yawn, I...
-tried to control my berserker blood, trying to reduce the amount gathered in my core.
For the sake of what happens next, I have to make sure that I don't hurt Aria too much--
And, that control...I felt it went well. Perhaps because it was the first time it had experienced this, but the berserker blood in my body didn't seem to be operating at full efficiency...
And now, I finally reduced it. By about half.
"--You know how to talk, you know...? Your insults against me, you can't take them back."
"I won't take them back."
If we were a boy and girl in a normal high school, our argument would be done right now.
But, the students in Butei High are different.
After this, there will still be a continuation.
"I'm going to make a hole in you. This time, I mean it."
"Don't look down on me. The person ending up with holes, will be you."
Aah, this is way too abnormal.
My own hands reaching for my Beretta, my heart pounded.
Butei High is so abnormal that it makes one dizzy.
In Butei High, the next step is drawing your guns.
But, what is between Aria and I is not an exception. I may have forgotten it recently, as we grew closer, but from the first time we met...this is the way we were.
After the bike-jacking incident with the 'Butei Killer', you charged me as an offender in the sports warehouse--suddenly attacking me.
That time, you were chasing me everywhere...and now, I will be the one to chase you.
"Fighting you, this is the 2nd time, right?"
Seeming as if she had been thinking the same thing, Aria stared at me.
"That day I ran, but today, that will not happen."
I returned her stare.
Butei Law article 1. Believe in your comrades and help each other--hmm?
But as I experienced infighting between partners, I understood for the first time--the real meaning of that, was full of irony.
Nakama cannot just stand there, listening to the other person's views.
When nakama walk down the wrong path, even if one has to use force, one has to stop them.
And at time, naturally, they will strike back.
"You draw first, Aria."
I will protect you.
And for the sake of protecting you, I will defeat you.
There is this method of protection as well.
"You go first."
"Ladies first. Draw your guns."
At the same time I said that--
Aria completely ignored her skirt flipping up, and with a speed that the eye could hardly follow, she fired!
Grasped inside those small hands were the two guns that I had given her on the Annbelle.
Those silver-white and pitch black M1911s.
I switched my Beretta into 2-burst, and used 'Billiard Shot' to respond.
Governments' .45ACP bullets...when it comes to stopping power, they win my 9mm Parabellum bullets.
And because of that, taking that into account, using the gun-breaking 'Mirror Shot' to finish it in one moment, was impossible.
So the first thing I used was 'Billiard Shot', defending myself.
Through the petals dancing through the air, Aria charged.
Mid-ranged gunfights involve keeping on the other side of the enemy's gun hand, taking advantage of that weak spot. And Aria, completely used to both hands, followed that basic rule, circling towards my right.
*Bang!* Aria, doing a cartwheel, started firing at me in that upside down position.
I leaped, dodging those bullets, and hit the floor, going into a roll, and trying to counterattack, I pointed my gun towards her-
Having hit the ground, Aria started firing as she slid, her legs acting as an emergency brake. Face up, she continued to slide backwards, firing at me all the while.
Aria, attacking and dodging at the same time, was improvising on the spot, there were no patterns to her movements.
I had no idea of where she was going to attack from next.
A difficult battle--and the worst.
But...I noticed something about Aria, who was running through the petals flying through the air with a dance-like movement.
I noticed something I could use to predict her movements.
Those long twin-tails were like those ribbons used by new-age gymnasts, curving in an arc, following Aria's movements.
Counting on that, I grasped hold of Aria's method of movement.
Just now I heard Sherlock say that that was the hairstyle that he instructed his descendants to keep. That old man, why would he specifically instruct the use of such a hairstyle, which is so disadvantageous in battle...his own amusement?
Facing Aria, who was circling the classroom while attacking, I was slowly getting used to her movements, and the accuracy of my counterattacks were increasing as well. Aria's expression also had something in it which conveyed "It was exposed?"
And finally, my bullets started to whistle by Aria's M1911s.
I've seen through your movements, Aria.
I'm sorry, Hysteria Mode has no competitor. Victory--is only a matter of time.
Back facing the stained glass, Aria stopped running around and just stood there, exchanging bullets with me.
Lifting herself off the floor with that beautiful hand, she spun around, dodging my bullets, which broke part of the stained glass.
But even with that, I continued to chase Aria's movements, which were focused on defense, the barrel of my gun continuously flashing.
*Bang! Bang!* Another portion of the stained glass window was broken.
Afterward, taking cover behind the marble altar, Aria...paused.
"--It's a shame, Kinji."
Hearing this anime-like voice...
I finally noticed.
Around me, everything had become red--scarlet.
The color of the lights had changed. When?
(The stained glass window--)
Ha. I returned to reality, looking towards the stained glass window.
And I saw that except for the red part, everything had been broken. And, by my own bullets too.
Aria's defensive movements just now were all aimed towards creating this result. She was luring my attacks.
--This isn't good--
In the moment I went "Tch"
Aria rushed out of the shadow of the altar. Again, from the right.
But, I was unable to catch her movement completely. Normally, Aria's hair was very obvious, but in this scarlet light, that hair had become camouflage.
It's not that I can't see her at all, but definitely not as clear as just now.
Added to this, Aria, who had been running in a curve motion all along--suddenly made an L-shaped turn--this time, rushing towards me.
As expected of an S-rank Butei. Not only do you create favorable conditions for yourself during battle, confusing my senses, but you also force me into the zero-distance combat that you're so adept at.
No time to admire her, I, as well as Aria--
*Bang! Bang Bang!*
In the distance, whittled down to zero, we both fired at each other.
Aru=Kata is a combat technique for marksmen. Using bulletproof material as a premise, this combat technique combines striking and firing from point blank range.
Spinning around simultaneously and dodging the first blow, just like a dance of death, we--
-both closed in to a distance where we could interrupt each others' attacks.
Aria's elbow knocked my arm aside, just as the edge of my palm pushed aside her hand, pushing the line of fire off each other. Even knocked away, the muzzle flashes continued, almost as if we were fighting with swords of light.
Facing somebody wielding two guns and only having one of my own, I--
I was being suppressed, despite the fact that I was in Hysteria Mode.
My left hand had flicked open the butterfly knife, increasing the area of defense, but in the end, I couldn't use it for the purpose that it was made for.
At that very moment, kicking off the floor with one leg and performing a flip, Aria kicked towards my jaw.
My torso jerked backwards, and the leather band on the tip of her shoes brushed past the tip of my nose.
One of Aria's hands, still carrying the gun, hit the floor, and spinning on it, she performed a double roundhouse kick, aimed at my head.
"Kinji! Why are you such an idiot!"
Immediately after, she leaped up just as she contacted the floor, her small shoulder put pressure on me, who was stumbling, specifically, my right shoulder, and using that as a push-off point--*whoosh*
Her legs, like a pendulum, flipped sideways, and she landed behind me.
And along with her came a gunpowder-stained, Gardenia-like scent.
Aria's fragrance, for the first time--made my heart erupt into an inexplicable fear.
This graceful movement in battle, it's an amazingly 3-dimensional technique.
Having had my back grasped hold of, I span around, only to see Aria's arms horizontally crossed--
-aiming at me.
Those fingers, even now, are pulling the trigger.
(--I won't make it--!)
Hysteria Mode's reflexes made me understand that instinctively.
I have enough time to raise my pistol and point it towards her--but as for pulling the trigger, that one moment is too much.
What do I do?
If I take those high-caliber bullets face on, there's no way I'll be able to continue with the battle.
But, I won't allow that. Right now, in this moment, give up on firing--
-and do something!
This sound came from two places between us.
No, she couldn't fire.
-had put the barrel of my Beretta directly onto the barrel of her silver-white M1911.
And the barrel of the pitch-black M1911 was sealed by my knife.
No matter which one she fires from--Aria's guns would self-destruct. Well, the same goes for me.
Since this is what it had come to, neither of us could move.
If this had to be put into Shogi or chess terms, the situation would be that of 'Threefold Repetition'--neither of us could make another move.
Even if this goes on for a thousand days.
Which means, a draw.
Making sure that my reaction would be faster, even if only by a little bit, I pointed the heavy Beretta in my right hand towards the left, and I moved the lighter butterfly knife to the right, where it would need slightly more movement, yet saving movement of my Beretta.
My two wrists, crossed--along with Aria's arms, also crossed, drew an XX shape in the air with our 4 arms--still, unmoving.
"Why...why are you such an idiot, Kinji?"
Aria raised her eyes, staring at me.
"Your bullets--why were you only aiming for my guns..!"
Facing the girl who was making an expression which seemed to convey that she was insulted, Aria, I chuckled.
That's right--It wasn't easy to control the berserker blood, but the me in Hysteria Mode...still has no way of taking action against girls.
I may be able to fight like this, if it is for a girl's own good, but--I still found it impossible to harm them. Even if I would be the one to get hurt.
I, in the end, am this kind of man.
That's why the next thing I did--
I--took my fingers off the Beretta's trigger.
Watching my forefinger leave the trigger, Aria frowned.
Putting the Beretta down, the butterfly knife in my left hand...was also released.
That barrel of the M1911, as black as hell, once again, pointed at me.
"I don't care what happens to me anymore. If you can fire, then fire. You can shoot me in the head if you like, you can fire where you want."
I...*Click, clatter* let my weapons drop to the ground.
"The battle just now was a draw. It looks like it doesn't matter if I use words or force, I can't take you back. Therefore, I have nothing else I can do. Since you are to become an outlaw, it means that the former Butei, Kanzaki H. Aria...has disappeared."
This...could be called gentle.
"And, Butei Charter article 1. 'Believe in your comrades and help each other.' Unable to help you, I have betrayed the Butei Charter. Which means, I am not fit to be a Butei. The partnership that we have, has been completely annihilated. Just now."
This...was the order that Hysteria Mode was giving me, the ability to throw everything away for the sake of one girl...an absurd gentleness.
But--this is fine.
"Fire, Aria. After all, I have nowhere to run. As opposed to being killed by those outlaws, I'd rather die under your guns."
"I-I won't kill you...that's right...you can stay here, with me..."
"Don't say anymore, Aria. I won't become a companion of outlaws. I don't wish to throw away that which each generation of my line has been titled with, 'Ally of Justice'."
This is fine, Aria.
"This is fine, Aria. If we continue to pull each other down a road we don't wish to go, there will be no end to it. Therefore, one of us must disappear. And I--no matter what, no matter the circumstances, cannot fire at you. Even though...why that is so, I cannot tell you."
Hearing my words, which were meant to hide the existence of Hysteria Mode--
As if understanding something, Aria's face...*Gah*...blushed.
"So, fire. Send me from this Earth, then you can do whatever you want. However...think of it often. Think of the Butei that was willing to give everything up, willing to give his own life, to bring you back. And, go back. Leave the world of outlaws, go back to your normal days--go back to Butei High."
Aria's face, as if each of my sentences, filled with passion, with my soul, were cutting into her heart, her face twisted into one of pain.
And--*Shh*...those camellia eyes, once again, brimmed with tears.
Don't do it, Aria.
Don't let me...see you like this.
It will definitely waver my determination.
Hearing my shout, Aria--
-the barrel in her hand, *Pa*, trembled.
In those big eyes--tears, tears of heartbreak, were overflowing--
"Why...why do you...want me to do something that I can't do...!"
And those two guns swept off my body, clutched to her own flat chest.
"I, can't, point my guns at my great-grandfather...!"
*Drip Drip* Tears flowing endlessly, Aria, just like a small child, shook her head left and right.
"But, making me...making me point my guns towards my partner, I can't do it, I can't do it...!"
With her blood-relative on one side, and her partner on the other, she really doesn't know what to do...is that it?
She looked up at the ceiling, and although she had tried to endure it for so long...
Finally, she slumped into it, crying.
She slumped into what she had been pointing her guns at just a moment ago, my chest.
I, held her tightly to myself.
Just like that...I embraced her.
Slowly, that trembling, small back, calmed down.
"...Aria. Let me say something to you, plainly."
I said to those twin-tails. *Whoosh* Aria's crying face looked up.
"I--was ordered by Kana to 'kill' you."
"For the sake of destroying I-U. Just now you saw as well, right? The other personality of Kana's split personality...actually, he's my Nii-san. Nii-san is the only family I have. At that time, I also cried, stuck between my partners and relatives. Just like you right now."
Reaching my finger out, tracing it up the trails of tears on Aria's cheeks, I continued,
"In my heart, Nii-san is a God as well. Because he is so full of justice, so strong. There was also a period of despair where I felt that I would never catch up to Nii-san, that I was useless. But--there was a path I could take. I took that path, and in the middle of it, I pointed my gun at Nii-san...and now, here I am. I am here, --by your side."
The last sentence was unnecessary, right...
It must have been Hysteria Mode acting up, making me say it.
But, it appears that that sentence had a huge effect on Aria.
"...I, over Kana..."
*Gah*...Her face reddened.
It might be that she's very good at blushing, or maybe it was because she was in the midst of my embrace--but not only were her ears and neck red, but even her hands, on my chest, were tinged with pink.
Doesn't that mean that her whole body, even her fingertips, were reddened?
"...Kinji...over your relatives, over your own flesh and blood...yo-you chose...me...?"
Until just now, still filled with an air of refusal, that air disappeared from Aria's cheeks...
And slowly...it returned to that cute Aria.
I said, my eyes darting away, and Aria shook her head left and right, violently.
Afterward, full of unease, she raised her head, gazing at me.
Be-being stared at by this beautiful, almost doll-like, girl from contact distance, I-I will be embarrassed too, you know.
"But, you won't trust me anymore. Because I...betrayed you. I pointed...my guns at you."
"...That's what you do normally."
Extremely embarrassed, I cracked a joke, and Aria...
She fell silent, but, those eyes, still covered with a layer of tears, looked at me weakly.
What is it...yo-you...what is it you want to say.
These organisms called women, in these kinds of times, they're amazingly unfair.
"I...um...will always trust you. I've said it before, right? 'As long as I live, I will trust you.'"
Repeating those words which I had said before, in the heat of the moment--
Aria, *Shh*...tightly clasped her left breast.
I thought that I could hear her heartbeat, as she was blushing so much that she was glowing and radiating heat like a stove.
Actually, *Thump Thump*, I really can hear it.
Was it really so moving?
Ah, wrong, it's my own heartbeat. Why can I hear it? That's seriously messed up.
"An...and, if we throw away the credits we earned as partners, it'll be bad."
Nearly breaking the embarrassment limit, I grasped Aria's slender shoulders with my hands, putting a little bit of distance between us.
"What's left is...do you, trust yourself? At least, the you of just now, had no trust in yourself. That's why--I stopped you."
"Listen well, Aria. Your mother--Kanae-san, we will definitely save her. But, the path you took just now was completely wrong. Kanae-san would not want you to do that either."
I thought that it was a little unfair to bring up her mother again, but I need to make sure the final blow hits home.
Thinking that way, I said--
-a sentence that actually did, finish Aria off.
Because I understood. The inspiring look of facing her destiny had once again returned to her cute face.
"Just now you said that you would be able to solve it like this, but that's wrong. You just chose the easy way out. --Don't, run away. Just now I said, there is nowhere to run. In front of us, there is only one path. It is the arrest of Sherlock Holmes, as well as I-U. That is the way of Butei."
"But...Kinji. I...drawing my guns...against my great-grandfather is..."
"Don't worry, Aria. I've experienced this with Kana, so I understand how you feel. Therefore, just do things that won't require you to point your gun at Sherlock."
If the enemy is someone she respects that much, it's impossible that she would be able to fight him normally.
"--Capturing him without hurting him, I've already thought of how to do so. However...I need your assistance. Therefore, even if it's just a little. Can you help me?"
Speaking words of confirmation, I, in my heart, lied to myself that this was something that Hysteria Mode had made me say--
-Continuing to chase her.
"I need you."
*Wha...* Forming your mouth into that kind of expression, you look like you've been enchanted.
And for a few seconds, remaining at a loss--
Her whole body froze up--*Ko ku ri*
Softly, perhaps stiffly...but she...
 Translator's Notes and References
- Lethal weapon written in katakana, certain kill weapon in kanji.
- August of 1944.
- The equivalent term for threefold-repetition in Japanese is 千日手. Lit. Hand of one thousand days. It means that no matter what you do, the situation can be forced back to the same thing. The 千日 (One thousand days) part is what Kinji is referencing.