Stay informed of NEWEST chapters of Tokyo ESP Gaiden – London ESP with notification directly sent to your email.
A cold thing is being placed on my forehead. It feels comfortable.
Opening my eyelids weakly, I can see Levan, who is replacing an ice bag on my head.
“Minami! You’ve come to. Thank goodness…”
I do not understand what he looks so happy about. But, I get it after seeing my own condition. There is a mirror placed parallel to the bed, where I can see my own face covered with bandages and gauze. My hard-to-open eyes are swollen, and the same goes to parts of my skin. I look horrible. An IV is attached to my arm, hanging on one of the canopy pillars.
“How long… did I sleep?
“About two days, I think. Didn’t you fall from the top stairs of The View from the Shard to the bottom? I’m glad you’re still okay.”
I do not know anything about that, but it seems to be some explanation that Kozuki made for Levan.
I give him a vague nod, and I look up. I am still in Kozuki’s hideout…
My head is blank. It still hurts, too. And I am thirsty.
“I want some water.”
Levan gives me water from a pitcher. It seems that I have several cuts in my mouth, giving me crackling pains while I am drinking. I can taste iron in the water.
“Oh, so you’re awake.”
Kozuki enters the bedroom, and she makes a beeline to the IV.
Other than the cut and swell on her lips, I cannot see any other wounds on her. Clearly, she is in a better shape than me.
“Really, I’m so glad. I heard that you hit your head again and again, I’m so worried if…”
“Levan, sorry, can you leave me and Kozuki alone?”
A confused look floats on his expression. I repeat to him, “Go”, brushing him off. Levan leaves the room with slumped shoulders.
“Did you develop tinnitus? Or perhaps have you begun seeing illusions?”
“Whatever. What is ‘View from the Shard’?”
First things first, I ask her about the thing that intrigues me. Kozuki opens a tourist guidebook that is lying on the side table next to the bed for me to look at. On the page is a photograph of a glass-pyramid-like building.
“The View from the Shard is a skyscraper, approximately 310 meters tall. It has been settled that during your visit to the observation deck, you missed your step on the stairs and fell down until the first floor.”
“Where is the observation deck located at?”
“On the 72nd floor.”
“And I fell, down to the first floor?”
“What kind of bullshit is that.”
Kozuki finishes changing the IV, then she sits on the bed.
“The reality is the same either way. After all, you utterly ignored my warnings. You were even beaten in your own game.”
“Stop joking with me!”
I grab Kozuki’s arm with all my strength.
“The Ark has been stolen, by your grandmother!”
Kozuki probably knows everything. She looks ashamed, but at the same time she looks as if she has given up on me. I am getting even angrier from seeing that.
“Didn’t you say that you kept it in a safe place?! Because of you, I…!”
A dull pain runs through my head. I feel a throbbing pain, maybe because my blood is going to my head.
“See? It’s because you are getting too agitated. Here, a painkiller.”
I put the pill in my mouth, but the swellings prevent me from swallowing it. I refuse when Kozuki holds out the pitcher for me, but I am still unable to swallow it down.
“Don’t ignore me, here.”
I reluctantly drink the water. My mouth still hurts, but I have managed to swallow the pill.
“You’re right… what Grandmother did was not in my expectation.”
“She knows about our location, you know.”
“Yes, but we have our family rules. ‘We will never betray one of our own’, that one.”
“I’m not so sure about that, though.”
“I’ll say this to you!”
Kozuki jumps off the bed, making the spring in the bed sway in response.
“The one who beat all the rules into me is Grandmother. She would never break any of them on her own, without a doubt!”
Why is she sticking up for her grandmother when she has tricked us?
Everyone needs to survive. That is why rules and such never have any meanings. This girl should be the one who knows it better.
“But right now, she is our enemy.”
“Be it an enemy or anything, she will definitely uphold the rules. We have our family precepts after all.”
I do not even know her face. How can I trust her when I have only heard her voice? She is just a total stranger to me.
And Kozuki. When we had just arrived here, she already transferred the Ark to who knows where. Senseless. Maybe, is she an accomplice of that weapon seller? After all, she did contact the organization without telling me. I can never know everything she has been doing behind me.
I gaze at Kozuki’s face intently. What is she thinking, why didn’t we leave from this hideout?
“Why are you staring at me?”
Her eyebrows twitch.
“Listen. You better not anger me for your own sake. If you keep saying that you’re doubting me, I will insert air into the IV tube and let it fill the blood vessels in your brain.”
Kozuki might do it for real. I cannot start a fistfight because of my wounds. I entrust my body to the bed, and I close my eyes.
“I won’t say it anymore.”
Maybe the painkiller is working, I feel my head hurting less.
“Just rest well for the time being.”
“How can I? They know we’re here.”
“If we wander about carelessly, it will become a moment for them to aim at us. Just be obedient now.”
She put the replaced IV on a tray and leave the room with it.
This hideout is like a house built on sand. With its foundation shaved by wind and waves, it will eventually crumble. Why does Kozuki choose to stay here? How did Black Fist obtain the Ark? What did Professor grant ESP to Popper for?
Every human is acting to destroy my foothold. I cannot trust anyone. I can never let my guard down.
If Kozuki does not want to, then I will search for another hideout on my own. I pick up the guidebook and take a look at the map. I confirm my current location on it, and I search for a suitable place to hide. But of course, the map in the guidebook does not describe any reclusive places.
I am not thinking straight, maybe because of the painkiller. And so, I fall back to sleep.
It is already midnight when I wake up. My swollen face has recovered quite a bit, but I can’t see anything in this total darkness. Kozuki is not here. Where did she go?
Nah, I do not even need to guess. She must be slithering around. Actually, I am relieved that she is away.
I am wide awake now. I feel like getting some night wind.
Wrapping myself in a coat, I take my spare sword and head towards the living room. I continue to the door, and I place my hand on the handle. No, there is no point for me to go through the hallway to get out. This is the enemy territory. Kozuki’s rules are useless, too. I dash outside of the apartment.
I am now in an open space at the complex. I do not see anyone.
Now, I am alone. I had always been since I was a child. But somewhere along the line, there was someone who appeared in my life.
When I murmured his name, I can feel warmth filling my chest. “He” has frizzy hair, long eyelashes like a girl, and is cheeky despite being the same age. He is… the only person whom I ever let my guard down for.
Kyoutarou had always been by my side.
A boy we found in Efrasia. A brother unrelated by blood. And my————
I first thought Professor took him from Efrasia to make him a companion, but I was wrong.
“Don’t mention anything to him. About what happened to that country, about ESP. I will tell him myself when the time comes.”
That was the first thing Professor said to me me when we ended up living together.
Getting up in the morning, facing each other at the dining table, but we both stayed silent. We went to the same middle school, but we never said anything to each other at school, either.
Sometimes, I would spot him doing nothing on the sports ground. It was a sudden change for him, coming to the peaceful Japan from Efrasia that was filled with hatred. It was impossible for him to fit in there, I thought.
But I never considered doing anything to help him adapt. After all, we had been abandoned by the world.
A housemate, but a stranger. That was my impression of him at that time.
But in time, our relationship began to change.
We started talking, although awkwardly. Every morning, we greeted each other with a ‘good morning’. And when we returned home, we would talk about events during the day, or about the books we read.
Since I cannot cook, my meals are mainly instant foods or takeouts. But Kyoutarou changed that. When I returned, the home would be filled with the aroma of foods being cooked.
“I’m not sure about the taste though.”
Said he, embarrassed. His cooking was not that exquisite, but it was still delicious. After eating dinner, we would sit next to each other on the sofa and talk about trifling things.
“You’ve grown taller.”
“Yes. It’d be better if you change your school pants.”
“I can still wear it. It’ll be a waste.”
“They already look bad on you.”
That was when I had my first tranquil days after my mother died. Every day became fun.
We talked about various things, but we never mentioned about Efrasia.
I believe that was not escapism nor a rebuff, but kindness.
Both of us bore similar wounds. While admitting the existence of those wounds, we never tried to probe into them. It was comfortable that way.
Kyoutarou became the sole person whom I let my guard down for, and I believe he regarded me similarly. Kyoutarou was a part of me, and I was a part of him, too. We would be able to survive as long as we were together, that was what I thought.
However, Kyoutarou is not here. I am no longer with Kyoutarou either. The one by his side is now Urushiba Rinka.
In order to stop me and Professor, he remained with Urushiba.
Why was he on that side? How did he get involved in the first place?
Kyoutarou, who had seen the scenes of hell in the civil war; I had wanted to keep him away from our battle. That was the reason I left him.
It was about one year after my life with Kyoutarou began, I killed people. I was assaulted, and I tried to protect myself. It was inevitable. That was when I became a murderer.
I did not return home. Instead, I went to Professor and told him about the incident.
“I will make the proper clean-ups. All you did was disposing of worthless <em>trashes</em>, so you have nothing to worry about.”
If only I could think like that, everything would have been much simpler.
“It’s still possible for you to return.”
My body shook when I heard his words.
“You are currently at a forked road. You can forget about ESP and about this whole revenge. You can go back and live normally with Kyoutarou like before.”
Kyoutarou. Yes… I have Kyoutarou. As long as he is there, he is the only one I need. But…… how can I forget……
“But if you can’t…”
Can I? About those days? My Father’s anguish, his sorrow for losing Mother, his anger towards those people who feigned ignorance.
“Then you have no other choice but to follow me in this path of carnage.”
Professor put out his tobacco and stood up, but I could not move. My past tangled around me like a chain, and the present with Kyoutarou weighed me down, binding me to my seat.
I could not make an answer. Why did Professor bring Kyoutarou with us? Why did Mother die? Why did Father think of something like revenge? I wondered about those questions.
Kyoutarou… Mom… What should I do?
“The first time I killed people was when I was fifteen.”
Kakunoshin who was standing still in one corner of the room suddenly spoke.
“The country where I was born in adopted a strict class system. I was from the lowest birth. I had both my parents, and a younger sister. I also had power, as well as a large build. No one could beat me in a fight. I was even powerful enough to silence the harassment from the upper classes.”
His tone was flat, without emotions. I kept silent as I listened to his story.
“As expected, someone from a higher status didn’t like that and decided to hammer me down. But, the one who received the brunt of it was my sister. She was still thirteen, yet she was raped for hours and hours. She was barely alive when I found her.”
“It’s a common story where I lived. My sister died in the end. She became crippled, and she took her own life not long after.”
I wondered what kind of expression he had under his helmet. Kakunoshin spoke indifferently to the end.
“You were close to getting your heart killed. If you didn’t kill them, it was your heart that would have died instead. I am not sure if this serves as a consolation, but I think it is good that you didn’t end up like my sister.”
A heart that was killed. I suddenly thought about Father before he became ‘The Professor’. Father’s heart must have been killed when Mother—his most precious—was snatched away from him, and trampled.
Then his wilted heart resurrected itself. With revenge as its dark fuel, his heart blazed forward.
“So the first persons you killed are…”
“Everyone who took part in raping my sister, I killed their families as well. Also, both my parents.”
“This is what they said to me, <em>’Calm down, it is not a big deal.'</em> I couldn’t forgive that. Those people were obviously the ones at fault, so why did we have to resign ourselves to it? I couldn’t forgive my parents for accepting such a situation. And at the same time, I hated them for gearing such a twisted world.”
“Is that the reason you joined hands with Professor?”
Kakunoshin nodded in agreement.
“Professor understood my pain. As a killing devil, I was being chased by society. But, he told me that I was needed. He said that what I did was not wrong.”
“But, the people you’ll kill next time will have nothing to do with all that.”
“The moment I found someone who truly understands me, it is worth making the whole world my enemy.”
Someone who truly understands me——that would be Kyoutarou. The time we passed together, I can feel strength welling up whenever I think back upon it.
I would do anything in order to protect him. And, he might accept the current me. Maybe he would understand what I did.
“Welcome home. You’re out late today.”
Like always, Kyoutarou greeted me with a smile on his face. He would always start laughing at a moment’s notice.
That was Kyoutarou, his real self that he regained after living in the peaceful Japan. He was cheerful by nature, and kind. He would never choose to kill a person.
He was the sole survivor whom we managed to rescue from that hell. Would I allow him to get involved in another war?
——No, I couldn’t do it.
I buried my face in his chest. His height had surpassed mine who knows when.
I could hear his heartbeat. It was proof that he was alive. Without a doubt, his heart was still pumping. I do not want it to ever stop.
I really wanted to take him with me. I wanted to be with him forever. But, I would end up hurting him. He would think that all the days we spent together were only for the sake of getting him involved.
I did not want that to happen. I did not want to taint our life together. I did not want Kyoutarou to forget about the time he had spent with me, either.
Still clinging to his chest, I desperately tried to keep myself from crying. I had to, but I could not stop my tears. I had known that it was wrong of me to cry, but my feelings towards Kyoutarou were gushing forth.
“I love you, Kyoutarou.”
If only I could say that, how relieved would I have been? Would I be saved? But, I could not permit myself. It was exactly because of my love for him that I could not allow myself to say it out. I had to suppress my feelings. I wanted to let Kyoutarou live free, bound by nothing. Yes, free.
I left home that night, without saying anything, without leaving anything; I decided to walk behind Professor, in the path of carnage.
However, my decision was for naught. Kyoutarou’s figure appeared on the opposite side. He, too, awakened his power. And of all things, he just had to become a teleporter just like me.
Kyoutarou and I have lost the ability to understand each other for eternity.
I am pondering within this gloomy darkness.
I wonder where things went wrong. Why am I here? Did everything happen purely on my own volition, or was it an unavoidable current that brought me to this place?
Thinking back, I feel everything is just a continuation. Instead of my volition, there is some working power at hand that has been forcing me to go through this ordeal. I chose the wrong path again and again, leading me to my current state.
“I have gone a long way… from Tokyo, and from Kyoutarou.”
As always, the apartment complex is filled with a stinky smell. I know I cannot get used to this smell.
The smell of people clinging to something in order to live, huh. There is no way for me to understand that. I do not believe people would have more worth in life by clinging to something.
The ones living here seem to be detached from the world. But despite that, they are all frantically trying to follow its rotation.
What is the point keeping up with a world full of deception? I am sure the world is only letting them dream. They can turn filthy rich. They can stand on the winning side. That is the delusion it gives them. But, that is all it does, as they will never reach that place. They are just running around in circles.
Maybe I can change that. When Kozuki returns the Ark to me, I will scatter the glowing fish around this complex. The qualified will obtain ESP, and evolve into those with merits. They will become the true holders who can stop the world.
I laugh at myself for thinking such a stupid thing.
People with merits? Evolve? No one wants that. Living this miserable life in fear, there is no way someone like me has any merits.
From the start, I was wrong. Me who has no one but myself. I sought power, I spread fear, and I overturned the world. But, did my ‘will’ exist in all that?
I was only following Professor’s words when I thought, when I moved, when I killed. Displaying a face called hatred, brandishing the power of miracles, all while believing that it was right to throw all other emotions aside. I had killed my heart with my very own hands. I lament my current state, but I cannot even cry or shout, just like a doll.
That… is me.
Even so, I have to protect the Ark. That is the only thing left of me. I have no other meaning to live, other than having a doll’s duty to fulfil.
The night wind caresses my burning wounds. It is still a bit cold, but it has been comparably warmer than when I first arrived. It will turn April soon. ‘If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?’
But Spring will never come for me, not for eternity.
I walk around the apartment complex aimlessly. There are other people in twos and threes, but it was quiet.
I am walking in the direction where my feelings tell me to. I know I have no destination in mind, but I do not feel like returning to the room.
Somehow, I reach a public park near the apartment vicinity. The place is brightly lit, but there is not even a person in sight. The playground equipments on the withered lawn are filled with graffiti. One with a lion shape has been sprayed completely black, and it is currently scowling at the sky.
I try climbing up the athletic course. Reaching the top, I can see a slightly different view from when I was on the ground. The sceneries that were spreading above my line of sight before now lowers just a tad bit before me.
Maybe this is how espers view the world; a view slightly above the ground. Just this slight elevation makes them merry and feel as if they are better than others.
Urushiba Rinka said it at the National Diet Building.
‘We have someone we hate… We have someone to argue with… We have someone we can fall in love with! We espers are humans, too, aren’t we!’
Maybe she is right. She faced me as a human, and she won. It was not out of hatred or anger. She fought with the intent of saving people, believing in justice. She was naive, and her motive was absurd. However, she managed to accomplish it with her ‘will’.
“Minami, it’s really you.”
I look down and see Levan. He is standing there, carrying his sketchbook like always.
“What are you doing at such a time? Actually, what are you doing here?”
“I can see this park from my room.”
He points at the apartment.
“You’re sharp to know that it’s me.”
He laughs as if embarrassed, then he starts climbing up, as well.
“Won’t your dad be worried?”
“Dad is in a night shift, so he won’t be home ’til morning.”
Said Levan as he sits next to me.
“And how about you, Minami? Is it okay for you to be outside already?”
“I’m alright. I’m just taking a walk to get some wind.”
At that moment, the wind blows. I squint my eyes, and my hair is fluttering from it. It feels pleasant, as if it is gently soothing my burning wounds.
“Minami, you really have a pretty smile.”
What is he talking about? I glare at him, and he looks away in panic.
“I didn’t smile at all.”
“But… I know I saw it during the wind just now. You smiled a little.”
There is no way it is true. Even if it is, it must be an involuntary action then. I was not thinking of anything worth laughing. I try touching the edge of my mouth, but I can only feel it pursed in a straight line.
“You have some nerve to make fun of me.”
“O-of course not! I… really… thought so…”
He mutters as he blushes to his ears. He is acting weird.
“You’re smiling again.”
I immediately stiffen my expression, but Levan starts laughing this time.
“Enough. I’m going back.”
“Sorry, I’m sorry! Forgive me!”
“No, I won’t.”
Levan’s smile takes a complete turn, he looks like he is going to cry at a moment’s notice now. His facial expression changes so easily that he just might rival Kozuki. I think I was much calmer when I was at Levan’s age.
With my being silent, Levan’s expression keeps turning for the worse. Doesn’t it look like I’m bullying him right now?
“Alright, I’ll forgive you. Just stop making that kind of face.”
“Really. But the next time you say it again, I won’t care anymore.”
“Okay, got it. I’ll be careful.”
He nods with a serious face. This kid is weird, seriously.
The wind blows again, stronger this time. Carrying dry leaves and sand to my face, this wind is not a pleasant one. Levan sneezes from the cold.
“Go back to your room. You’re gonna catch a cold.”
“What about you, Minami?
“I’m staying here for a bit longer.”
I do not feel like returning yet.
“Then, I’ll stay, too.”
Declares Levan as he plants himself firmly again to where he was sitting.
“It’s gonna be lonely since Dad won’t be home yet. Can’t I?”
Lonely, huh. I know that sentiment. Waiting in solitude until a parent returns home is painful. It feels as if I am abandoned in a place with no grounds to stand on.
But looking at Levan again, he is only wearing a coat over his pajamas. He is surely going to catch a cold if he stays here.
“Then, I’ll send you to your room. Bear with that.”
He pouts and glares at me, looking displeased. Although reluctantly, he then nods his head.
I intended to accompany him until the front door, but for some reason I am already inside the room.
Levan’s room is comparable to Kozuki’s, it is miserably messy. There is a worn-out sofa, a small table beside it, and a TV. Empty pizza boxes, consumed beer cans, juice, litters everywhere. I can see a stack of bills at the entranceway. I have heard about his family condition, but experiencing this firsthand still leaves me speechless.
“Ah, sorry. I’ll clean them up.”
Levan brings a garbage bag and starts putting the cans away. I will help. The place is covered with dusts and oil as a result of half-baked cleaning.
“Do you rarely clean the place?”
“No, but the room gets dirty after I clean it every time. We have no vacuum cleaner, and we don’t really have detergents.”
“I see… so your parent is that busy?”
“Yeah, he goes to work every day. He is tired, so he always goes to sleep right after he gets home. I’m sad, but it can’t be helped. It’s for our livelihood after all.”
The word slips from my mouth.
“Of course it’s for our meals. We can’t pay the rent either, if we don’t have money.”
He answers as if he finds my question strange. I know I need to restrain myself, but I cannot stop my mouth from moving.
“Why do you still think of living under this situation? And it’s not just you, everyone living in this apartment, too. Do you believe that you will become rich someday? Are you seeing a dream where you will reach happiness in the future? You may just end up living your whole life bound in this place only to die miserably.”
“Haha, you’ve got it wrong!”
Levan laughs as if he just heard a joke.
“I don’t know about the future, but every day is fun for me recently. I get to play together with Minami and Kozuki, and the delinquents have stopped bullying me. My father always looks tired, but he smiles a lot. I don’t know if we’ll get rich, but there are times when I feel happy.”
Happy? With this livelihood? I cannot understand.
“Maybe it is different from the kind of happiness that you’re thinking of, Minami.”
The child Levan suddenly looks mature in my eyes. It is simple to see that his happiness is being cut by their lack of money. Naturally, it is impossible to deny the feeling of happiness that comes after the riches. Thinking like a greedy person, I am ashamed of myself.
“Yup, this should do it.”
Most of the garbage has been collected. The room looks slightly better now.
“Ah, I’ll prepare something warm.”
Levan stands on tiptoe and rummages through a cupboard in the kitchen. I cannot bear looking at him, so have a look into the cupboard myself. The content is practically empty, save for several packs of instant soup and coffee.
“Can I take this coffee?”
“Sure, I want a cup, too.”
“You won’t be able to sleep then. It’s soup for you.”
I boil some water and make the coffee. My nasal sensory is tickled by its bittersweet aroma as I take a sip. It tastes awful, but not from a brewing mistake though. It is most likely because of the poor quality of the coffee itself. Still, it has been a long time. I can feel the bitterness clear my mind.
“Do you like coffee?”
“…Since my father often brewed it for me.”
“What kind of person is your dad, Minami?”
“He was an archaeologist.”
I talk to Levan about ‘father’ before he became Professor. I talk about what I saw in him as my father. Now that I think of it, this must be the first time I ever talk about my family to others.
“He was a good dad, then.”
I vaguely give him a nod. I wonder if he is right, though. A father who rarely returned home, leaving me behind while going from place to place; can I call him a good father? Ironically, it was when he turned into a terrorist that we could spend more time together. On the other hand, it was also the moment when I stopped being able to call him my father.
“Did he teach you karate that you used to beat those delinquents, too?”
“No, that was… something that I had to learn out of necessity.”
That was not a lie.
“Thank you very much for saving me back then.”
How many times does it make now? I have told him over and over that I never intended to save him. He was only looking at the chance outcome.
“That talk is supposed to be over.”
“But, it really made me glad.”
“I’m an outsider here, so there was no one that would help me. It was pretty much the same even before we arrived here… so I was really glad that time. You made me think that a hero really exists.”
A hero… I am not such a foolish existence.
“Actually, I remember. About the civil war.”
My face immediately turns rigid. Without noticing me, Levan continues his story.
“Even now I still don’t understand why the civil war happened. People who had been getting along with each other suddenly aimed their weapons to each other. Dad and Mom ran away with all they had… and they kept running.”
The Efrasian Civil War. A bog of battlefield that caught soldiers, guerillas, civilians; everything in it. So he has not forgotten about it. Rather, it must have been impossible for him to.
The assailants, victims, bystanders; no matter the position, they are bound to be affected those bloody memories in some way. Those memories will always be haunting them close.
I could not see even a hint of the civil war from Levan’s face before. But right now, his face that I see from side is full of bitterness, as if he is trying to pluck a thorn that is etched deep inside him.
So he has only been wearing a mask, the mask of a child with no concerns of the world.
“One day, the general officer died. Then the war turned worse. We managed to escape somehow, but… Mom passed away. I didn’t even notice when it happened.”
I did not want to hear this. The one who killed that general was Professor; I was there. In order to retrieve the Ark and the tablet, and to avenge Mother, Professor killed him. As a result, the army went wild after losing their pillar of control. And the guerillas also intensified their attacks.
And so, Efrasia was erased from the map. It was swallowed by the large powers who came to intervene in the civil war. The ones responsible of taking his mother and country away from him, we are a part of them.
“Nothing good ever comes even after we reached England. I was bullied… there were lots of time where I felt like dying.”
What awaits those who managed to escape is not limited to salvation. Those who are saved are actually the rarer existence. As someone who keeps running away like me, I understand it.
“When Minami came to help me that time… you might deny it, but to me… I thought… that you really looked like Minerva.”
‘Minerva protects Pax from Mars’, the painting that we saw at the art museum. The gallant side profile of Minerva that was displayed at Pax’s back.
And why was he comparing me to Minerva at such a timing. His imagery was totally out of place. It really wretches me.
I am getting the urge to hurl this cup. I really want to leave this place right away.
“Isn’t it hurting you? Still remembering about your past like this?”
“Of course it is. But that’s why I’m drawing.”
“To forget about the past?”
“Hmm… I think it’s a bit different.”
“For what then?”
“I can’t really put it into words. To face each other… maybe? Maybe not. Sorry, I’m not really sure.”
Talking while laughing, Levan now looks his age. But at the same time, I think of him as a person who is far more mature than me. There is no cure for the wounds he bears. The war has cast a large shadow in his heart. But, he is preparing to overcome it, to receive it.
Then he met me. But for some reason, he follows me around and idolizes me. Calling me Minerva…
“You, do you like me?”
He stiffens. He blushes, even his ears are red.
Now I am the one to flounder from getting an unexpected response. Then I realize that I had picked the wrong words to say.
I had wanted to ask in a yearning-kind of way, but it seems that he took the question with the romantic definition instead.
Seeing his reaction, I can guess that he——
This silence is awkward. Levan drinks his soup in one go, and he opens his mouth as if making his resolve.
“About Minami‘s mysterious power… and Kozuki‘s, too. There are people with the same powers as you who… um… I saw in the news about the terrorism in Tokyo…”
Levan’s voice is trembling. He must have been minding himself to avoid this topic for these two weeks. Maybe it is also because I told him to not say anything about me to anyone. But, there is also a possibility of him thinking that I may leave for good if he ever crosses that line.
“Minami, are you one of them, too?”
“What are you gonna do after you know?”
“I don’t know… but I want to become Minami‘s strength.”
I try to cut him off, but Levan is not backing away.
“But I want to. Because I like you, Minami.”
He must have known; about the atrocities we committed as terrorists, about the blaze in the civil war, about the stern life from living on the run. So why…! Why is he still clinging to me!
“You can do nothing, and you don’t have the merit, either.”
I can tell that Levan is hurt from my words. He looks pained, and he keeps silent. Somehow my chest feels fuzzy. I thought of drinking the rest of the coffee, but I stop. I do not feel like drinking any more of this tasteless coffee.
“Thanks for the coffee.”
I leave the room without looking back. I can feel Levan gazing at me from my back. He must have been looking at me like this all this time.
I have enough self-loathing. I hurt Levan. I ruthlessly rip his heart to shreds, the one that he sustains by drawing in his sketchbook. I have hurt so many people, but currently it feels so painful for some reason. The me from before is overlapping, and it presses on my chest.
Good day to you.
It has been three days since our battle at the London Eye. The explosion at the Queen’s Theatre are being broadcast daily on the news. There is a possibility that a third country is involved in the terror attack, is what the greasy-nosed newscaster is reporting.
Speaking of the man who was sitting on the seat, Popper stated that he was from the revolutionary army of a poverty-stricken country. His splendidly boorish capability to shift the responsibility for causing the explosion truly earned my applause.
On the other hand, there was not a report whatsoever of our fighting at the London Eye. With Thames River flows in between, the headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, is located directly to the opposite of the London Eye. Considering their non-existent reaction after that extravagant show, it appears that our opponent has considerable influence with the government.
That battle, regrettably, resulted in our loss. It is irrefutable to call it a horrible, tragic defeat. We even lost the Ark; it never rains but it pours. Soon after the incident, I had an incoming mail from Grandmother, saying ‘I have received the Ark’ with a picture attached.
I have not the slightest idea about the reason behind Grandmother’s actions.
I was raised at Grandmother’s side, unlike my sister who grew up like how a stray dog would. Sister was thrown out of the house to live alone off the streets. I had undergone the same experience as well, though half of the time was spent living with Grandmother instead. I do not know why Grandmother provides me with a special treatment. I suppose it stems from her great expectation towards my future.
Still, if I was to be judged by the ‘rules’ of Black Fist, I was considered an exception among exceptions. That decision might have been an overprotective conduct.
I believe the matter about the gangsters was an extension of said protection. However, if what I believe is wrong…
Immediately after the London Eye, I investigated various things about the man who proclaimed himself as Popper.
First, he is nothing but a part of a weapon smuggling organization called Long Guo(Dragon Country). Its leader is Don Hoikoro, and the organization is based in Hong Kong. I have heard rumors of it being a preeminent organization in the whole world which deals with every country as its clients. And apart from weapons, it also deals in any products through the Black Market, including works of art. Naturally, our family always utilizes the black market whenever we need to sell our loots. And so, there is no doubt that Grandmother possesses a way of contact with them.
Popper himself is not a man of good repute. Well, I suppose it is too much to ask for a reputable person in the underworld.
Real name unknown, but it is speculated that he came from the Republic of Rhodesia, South Africa. The country has now dissolved into Zimbabwe and Zambia.
He enters the underworld in his teens, and he becomes an executive of Long Guo in his twenties. He has been continuing his work for over ten years since, which is an interesting fact in this case. If he truly had the capability to obtain his current position at such a young age, it would have been logical for him to reach the upper echelons, perhaps as inner staff or treasurer. This, however, shows the nature of his character.
His alias, Popper, must have been granted to him because of his habit to ‘pop’ in anger. Befitting his name, he shall cast his fury indiscriminately, and he has no qualms about putting his partner in business to death. As it appears, he possesses a somewhat troublesome disposition as a businessman.
On the other hand, a man of his kind would not be satisfied with his current standings. Perhaps, he is planning to obtain the Ark to promote his status within the organization.
Now, why did Grandmother offer the Ark to such a fellow?
I have lost my means to retrieve the Ark, for ‘its whereabouts is currently unknown to me’. In addition, my ability requires me to visit the transfer destination once in advance, and to have touched the object in question.
As a matter of fact, I have attempted several times to transfer the wooden box that is holding the Ark; they all ended up in failure.
It is very likely that Grandmother is aware of all my hideouts. In fact, this hideout of mine is a place with the best escape routes of all. Although, Minami is now having some kind of suspicion towards me. I provide her with a more detailed explanation before she acts without thinking.
I knock on the bedroom door, but there is no answer. Is she still sleeping?
“I’m coming in.”
I look at the bed, but it is vacant. So I try closing the door before opening it again, but Minami is not there. I turn over the sheets, look under the bed and above the canopy, yet Minami is nowhere to be found.
“…Where is she going at such times?!”
I cannot believe this! How could she go about without giving me a notice! Why does she have to be such an idiot! And what for am I looking after her!
I have been assisting her thoroughly, yet she repays all of it with enmity? Truly an ill-behaved child!
I need to search for her, but I wonder where she is likely to go. She has not been here for long, so she must not be too far. Is it Trafalgar Square? Or somewhere we went to, perhaps Bond Street?
Then the sound of a door opening comes from the entranceway. It is Minami! Clenching my fist in anger, I walk to the living room to welcome her.
“Where were you?”
“It doesn’t matter… does it.”
This is the first time I ever heard her voice this glum. She tosses her sword to the sofa and returns to the bedroom. Oh, you are not getting away so simply.
“I believe there is something that you have to say to me.”
“It’s not that, you idiot woman! What are you thinking, going outside at such times!”
“Just to get some wind.”
“That’s the matter. Have you forgotten that we sought by the police?”
“We’re wanted for a long time now. The problem should be the fact that we were walking around like tourists.”
“The situation has changed!”
“You told me this place is safe.”
Ah… I guess I did… this woman is really irritating!
“Is that all? Then I’m going to sleep. Wake me up if anything happens.”
I hear a string going snap inside me. This time I need to stay in an upfront manner.
“What’s with your manner of speaking?”
Even a Minami would notice my bad humor.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean the way you talk. What kind of noblewoman are you trying to be?”
“I’m talking like I always do.”
“‘Wake me up if anything happens’? I am not your servant!”
To my increasing voice, Minami clicks her tongue. I pick up a gun with my ESP on reflex. It is the Beretta that I stole in Turkey. I will open up a new wind hole in her body with this one.
“Put that gun away, Kozuki.”
“Would you stop ordering me like that?”
“Listen to me, then. We can stop here.”
“How far are you intending to look down upon me? When you’re but an idiot.”
The expression on her eyes has changed. It appears that Minami is getting angry.
“Don’t get cocky now, you lowly thief…! Without your ESP, you are nothing but a thief.”
“Says the terrorist who can hush a crying child. Ah, should it be an ex-terrorist? Would you remind me of your current hobby? A postman transporting a box? Perhaps a nanny who’s tending children around this block?”
“I’m trying to stay alive for Professor’s sake!”
“You’re a little girl who can’t do nothing without your Professor. This isn’t your place to speak with self-importance! In London, you’re just a bumpkin who can’t even tell left from right!”
To my words, she makes a face as if saying ‘you’ve finally shown your colors’.
“I knew it. You’re saying that it’s easy for you to trick me because you know the land better.”
“Haah?! I didn’t say that!”
“Stop lying. You, and your grandmother… both of you are working together with that Popper, right? Just keep sneaking around, you brown rats.”
I cock the Beretta’s hammer at her uncalled-for remarks. I can no longer tolerate her.
“That thing won’t kill me.”
“It’s quite all right. I’ll beat you up enough until you can no longer move before I start shooting.”
Says Minami as she steps one of her feet forward. Why is this girl so…!
This is really stupid. This is not the time for us to be fighting. Minami remains in the same pose, but she has a bewildered expression on her face.
“Shooting a person in her despair will not make me feel any better.”
“What did you say?”
“Ever since we arrived here… no. You have become such starting from the time we left Tokyo. You keep saying that you need to protect the Ark, but you always try to throw your life away at every chance you have…… If you despise it that much, you can always run away for once.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You hate having to bring that thing (the Ark) around with you, aren’t I right?”
Her countenance changes. My goodness, did this child only realize about it now?
“Always moping, then getting angry, it is tiring just to stay with you.”
“You’re wrong… I have to… protect the Ark… but Professor… is gone…”
Always with her petty excuses. This is really vexing me out!
“How long are you going to feel down in the dumps just because Urushiba Rinka stole your man!”
Minami completely loses her expression at those words when I realize.
(This is bad. I’ve said too much.)
As mist envelops her body, I receive a kick at my back. Then she drops her knee to where I fall, but I roll over to evade. I aim my Beretta at her, but she disappears into a mist again when I shoot.
This time I feel an impact in my flank, followed with a barrage of punches.
“H-hey! Can’t you at least rebut my words?”
Minami, however, says nothing while she continues with her beating me. Of course, I am not so kind to endure a one-sided fight. I prepare a counter, and I give her abody blow; in addition, a right straight while she still flinches. She crashes into the wall shelf and my tableware scatters to the floor as a result. Aw… that pottery is from the Victorian Era.
However, I do not have the leisure to be worried about that because Minami is making a lunge at me. The result after everything ends is like opening a cauldron of hell. Sparks and smoke is rising from my liquid crystal TV. My sofa is riddled with bullet holes, and the walls, too, are damaged from having been pierced with a knife or a similar thing.
By the time the two of us stopped moving from weariness, we have turned the whole room upside down, downside up, and turned it over again.
“You still… want to continue?”
Minami still with her heaving shoulders is scowling at me.
“How about you….. say something to me…!”
“[Fire DETectED. PLEase evaCUAte. Fire DETectED. PLEase evaCUAte.]”
What answers me is instead the fire alarm that is reacting to the smoke spewing from the TV. Its beeping is irritatingly resounding through the place.
Just… what am I doing here…? Glaring at each other with this stupid blockhead… this is pathetic.
“Do you hate, staying with me already?”
Minami does not answer. Silence means affirmation.
“All right, then…!”
I head to the changing room to retrieve my coat. Then I walk towards the front door and hold the door handle.
“I’m leaving, you hear me!”
But there is no response from the living room. I wait for a short while, but Minami does not even show up.
I said a single word in resign before finally leaving the room.
They can all die for all I care! They who only see themselves in sorrow without caring how others feel; these people can never be cured unless they die.
To be Continued in Chapter 4
Enter your email address that you used to register. We'll send you an email with detailed steps to reset your password.
Already a member? Log In