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Chapter 161: A Glimpse to the Past, Countermeasures for the Future
「So you’re Sight, huh?」
A girl of about 16 years spoke, looking down at the dark-haired infant with narrowed eyes. Her silver hair, despite appearing wild and unhinged, was well-maintained as it swayed down to her waist in a ponytail that was displaced slightly to one side.
Her long legs were contained within a pair of black skinny jeans that rose till just below her waist-line, accompanied with a purple crop top which daringly exposed her belly. To protect her from the cold, a dark green jacket was worn over her sleeveless top, while the fur lining of the coat contributed even more to her wild appearance.
Furthermore, the silver chains that dangled at her hips, along with the thin, white stick that jutted out from her lips were the perfect accents which completed the girl’s edgy, punk-esque look.
Even though the child was told so in advance, he completely couldn’t believe that this individual who perfectly fitted the description of delinquent was actually an officer that served in the military.
「Huh? What’s with you? Can’t you even speak? Are you only good at gawking?」
Noticing the child’s silence, the delinquent officer narrowed her eyes once again, snarling as a complex light flitted across her pupils. Unable to help himself, the child continued to stare silently into the girl’s eyes, losing himself in their crimson red radiance.
Needless to say, the officer’s temper soured by the minute as her disapproval of the boy grew more and more. As to why this was, the child couldn’t even fathom to guess.
After all, he was only 7 years old. Even if he was more mature than most, the precocious boy still had plenty of room to grow.
It wasn’t until a certain someone from the side, a woman that both the officer and the boy only knew as Old Hag, walked up to the silver-haired delinquent, elbowing her in the ribs as she grabbed her head and brought it to her mouth.
At first, the officer struggled in the old hag’s grip. Yet, after a few whispers, the astute child could clearly see the delinquent’s expression distort. Her tense muscles suddenly relaxed and her brow was no longer furrowed, her features softening up significantly as an expression of awkwardness lingered in her eyes.
「S-Sorry, my bad. I have a bad habit of talking roughly, y’see.」
With a slight stammer, the silver-haired delinquent nodded her head, sighing lightly as her brows creased. Her hand extended to the back of her head, rubbing it with motions that can only be described as habitual in nature.
Even though her change in attitude was sudden, the officer’s meekness quickly disappeared, replaced by a look of curiosity as she peered into the boy’s emerald eyes.
「So I hear you’ve been trained by the old hag?」
The officer raised a brow, her expression becoming slightly fiercer as she couldn’t help herself from growing worked up. As for why, it may have had something to do with the boy’s pupils, dimmed by a sentiment closely resembling that of desolation.
Regardless of the reason, however, that didn’t stop the silver-haired girl from swaying to the side, her right leg instantly blurring with intimidating momentum. Her foot leapt from the earth, effortlessly ripping through the air as it tore a path towards the boy’s head.
And just as it was about to make contact, it was then and only then did the once unresponsive child spring into action.
Without any prior warning, the boy vanished, resulting in the girl’s foot losing its target as it passed through empty air. While the child’s movements could deceive the untrained eye, however, both the officer and the old hag saw the boy ducking under the swinging limb.
His actions had been seen through. Even though this was the case, the child’s last-second timing allowed him to successfully evade the incoming attack. But he did not stop there.
Seizing this chance, the boy did not run away but instead dived forward. Scurrying across the ground like a black leopard, the miniature figure pulled out a kitchen knife, brandishing its tip as he lunged at the officer’s chest.
The speed in which the child launched his offensive admittedly wasn’t fast. However, the absolute certainty in his decisions and the flawless execution of each motion was admirable for his infantile build.
Yet, even though it could be said that the boy had made the perfect choice he could in this situation, there was no denying that he was just a little child.
And as such, it was inevitable that his efforts would ultimately end in futility.
「Nice try. Unfortunately, you’re still wet behind the ears.」
The officer coldly spoke, a grey, L-shaped instrument appearing in her hand before who knows when. A light trail of smoke arose from the tip of the silver-plated apparatus, gleaming maliciously as it bore its sights upon the child.
Of course, the projectile fired from the weapon mercilessly penetrated through the air, homing in on the boy as it steadily approached and struck the knife’s handle. Due to the impact, the child staggered backwards, the knife twirling in the air several times before its blade cleanly stabbed into the soil.
After regaining himself, the juvenile stood stock still, his eyes unflinching as they continued to gaze at the muzzle aimed at his head. He did not cower, nor did he waver. He simply stood there, resolute and unmoving.
In the face of this solidarity, the officer was undoubtedly bewildered. However, upon closer inspection, she could see an unyielding spirit reflected in the child’s eyes, their original murkiness replaced with a rebellious lustre.
「Alright, old hag. I’ll take him in.」
The delinquent-esque girl spoke, a slight smirk forming on her rough, yet well-sculpted features. Although it wasn’t certain whether or not the fire in the child’s emerald eyes had affected her, it was apparent that something about the boy’s conduct had ignited a flame of her own.
And so, after receiving a nod from the old hag, the officer lowered her arm, holstering her pistol as she slowly approached the child. Then, the girl reached forward, pinching the boy’s nose before flashing him a toothy grin.
「Congrats, Sight. You’re now in the military. I’ll be your commander. The name’s—–」
Saito Junichi clicked his tongue, rubbing the back of his head as he stared at the moon in the sky. The silver sheen coming from the natural satellite illuminated his body, wrapped in the black fabric of his mercenary outfit as it rested on the railing of the hotel room’s balcony.
After having the talk between siblings, Junichi continued to live out his life as normal, only waiting until Mana had gone to sleep before sneaking out of his apartment. The reason for his departure was very simple: he was here to meet someone.
A certain someone whom he was very well acquainted with—a person who he needed to consult about an urgent matter. That’s why he had snuck out, not even telling his partner Cocoa of his plans as he faded into the night.
As he loitered at the arranged meeting place, Junichi couldn’t help but find his mind wandering, sifting through memories of old as though he was an old man joyfully reminiscing about his life’s highlights.
Perhaps this recollection was spurred on by his earlier conversation with Mana, the topic of his enlistment into the military triggering some nostalgia within the youth.
Yet, even as he reflected on the first time that he had met her, the boy couldn’t help but feel a bitter expression creep upon his features.
In less than an instant, Junichi’s body abruptly jerked, his arm blurring as it moved with an indescribable sharpness. Responding mercilessly towards the voice that suddenly emerged from the darkness, a flash of silver unknowingly appeared in his left hand, the dastardly device’s barrel poised and pointed at the unsuspecting intruder.
At the same time, his right pupil instantly erupted with crimson light, causing the pistol in his hand to be soaked in its bloody hue. At the same time, the glow illuminated the dimly lit surroundings, exposing the figure that was once shrouded in darkness.
Yet, as the succulent outlines of the intruder’s body became increasingly more clear, Junichi promptly retracted his killing intent, a light of recognition appearing within his narrowed irises.
「W-Wait! Wait! It’s me!」
The figure revealed under the crimson light was feminine, possessing a conspicuously attractive physique that would make even a model jealous. Draped over this body was a long, white coat, similar to that of a lab coat worn by doctors while the woman’s dusty brown hair was tied up into a ponytail by a peculiar pink scrunchie.
Needless to say, the identity of the girl with voluptuous curves was Roxanne Leblanc in disguise. Her signature trademarks, namely her undeniably shapely figure and her unique scrunchie, allowed Junichi to see through her deception quite early.
Spooked by the youth’s sudden offensive, Roxanne hastily backed away whilst waving her open palms above her head in a gesture of peace. Her ample bosom shook due to her excessive motions, though she hadn’t the liberty to mind this in her fluster.
「…good. You made it.」
Junichi murmured, his eyes scanning the woman with a steely gaze, his current lackadaisical appearance making it seem as though his earlier ferocity were but an illusion. Yet, Roxanne wouldn’t fool herself into thinking as such, her back that was still drenched in cold sweat serving as a reminding of the momentary danger she had faced.
Nevertheless, she, like the youth, was also a professional. A denizen of the darkness, who had weathered countless storms within the ruthless underworld of slaughter.
「How unusual. Usually, you would have detected me from a mile away.」
Roxanne asked, her attitude already having undergone a stark transformation. Although intimidated at first, Roxanne swiftly adapted to the situation, removing her scrunchie before shaking her head a few times. Being released from its confinement, her hair swayed in the air, its brown hue quickly regaining its former platinum blonde as it brushed off the colouring agent she used.
Although undoubtedly influenced by the change in her hair colour, this time it was her who gave off the impression that her earlier self was a mirage, the once panicked countenance being replaced with a steady, yet amiable demeanour.
However, even though Junichi took notice of the woman’s charm, he was not taken in by her wiles, his gaze instead returning upwards as he continued to stare at the soft luminescence of the majestic, silver moon.
「I was just……reminiscing.」
Noticing the subtle complexity mingling within the young man’s features, Roxanne didn’t dare to pry further, only returning a somewhat half-baked expression of affirmation as she, along with Junichi, sank into silence.
After a while, Junichi shifted in his seat, causing his unkempt locks to fall over his eyes like a curtain. And, while his hair did not completely block his vision, the wispy shadows caused by the disorderly strands were more than sufficient enough to obscure his eyes from the surroundings.
Even more silence passed. It was uncertain whether or not the youth was continuing to reminisce, as he simply remained motionless. And, with his countenance eclipsed in darkness, Roxanne found it incredibly difficult to read him.
As such, after much delay, she finally broke the silence by speaking the following words.
「……say, Jun. Don’t blame Cocoa too much, ok? I’m the one to blame.」
The busty blonde uttered, swallowing her hesitation as she sent an apologetic gaze towards the stoic individual. Although the boy hadn’t mentioned the purpose of this meeting, she gathered from his current behaviour, as well as the recent turn of events, that it had something to do with the high-risk stunts that her family had pulled lately.
The very same stunts that she was mostly responsible for.
「She’s really an earnest child, you know? She really admires you as well.」
Roxanne started, describing her little sister’s temperament to the youth in hopes to diffuse the blame for this incident on to her. Naturally, if the aforementioned girl with liquorice hair were here in person, she would have immediately stopped Roxanne from speaking right now due to also feeling partially responsible.
Nevertheless, as Cocoa was not present, the busty blonde’s argument was met without resistance nor dispute as she continued on.
「That’s why I tried to support her. But I didn’t think things would turn out like-」
「Enough. I get it.」
Interrupting Roxanne from making her justification was a voice with a peculiar gravitas. The owner of said voice, Junichi, shifted his posture, allowing his emerald eyes to peek out from underneath his messy fringe.
It was clear to see that something was amiss, as the boy’s brow was slightly furrowed while an incredulous look flashed across his face. Yet, despite her usual attentiveness, Roxanne failed to realise this, most likely because she was single-mindedly trying to dissolve the blame that Cocoa had received from her own folly.
「I said enough. That’s not why I called you here.」
「Eh? It’s not?」
Junichi spoke up once more, dismissing Roxanne’s interjection as he immediately clarified the situation.
Indeed. At first, the busty blonde had thought that the matter of Junichi’s current precarious situation was what spurred this meeting. And, while she wasn’t entirely wrong, believing that the crux of the conversation tonight was about her repeated offences against him was a complete misunderstanding on her part.
After all, even though their previous offences had put him in quite a difficult spot, Junichi understood that focusing on the blame right now wouldn’t change anything. Besides, compared to what may come in the future, this matter was just a drop in the ocean.
Thus, what he really convened this private meeting for was to discuss the future. To prevent the absolute, worst case scenario.
「We’ve got a problem. A big one.」
「………an officer? Certainly, that can only be bad news.」
「I know. That’s why I decided to call you.」
After hearing the complete summary of the youth’s encounter with the so-called officer, Roxanne’s countenance grew a shade darker as she brought her hand to her finely-shaped chin. Even though her expression was calm, inwardly she was greatly alarmed by this news.
But then again, this was only natural. The very fact that he was visited by the authorities implied that they knew where Junichi lived, as well as insinuating that he had aroused their suspicion. Perhaps, if they possessed the evidence that they so desperately lacked, then the dark-haired youth would be behind bars by now.
And it was precisely because both mercenaries realised this that the atmosphere around them became a degree heavier.
「I get the gist. I’ll start making some preparations of my own.」
Without having to say anymore, Roxanne’s sharp mind quickly churned, understanding the implications of this information within seconds. As such, she didn’t even need the boy’s prompt to understand the purpose behind his request to meet.
Obviously, what he wanted to do was warn her of the incoming threat, while at the same time enlisting her help to set up some arrangements so that they were ready when things turned ugly.
Aside from her ability to masquerade as anyone, Roxanne Leblanc had an astounding number of connections in 【Sekai City】, both on the surface and in the shadows. And, while it was a far cry from having complete ownership of the city, It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a single word from her would greatly influence its landscape.
The being said, even though her influence was vast, it was, in the end, just influence. With regards to her information network, there was but one person who she couldn’t compare to. Someone who had been distinctly excluded from this meeting.
「But Jun, you know that this sort of thing is intelligence work, right? Why not get Cocoa involved?」
Indeed. Cocoa Valentine, as a hacker, possessed access to an almost infinite amount of data via the internet. Through painstakingly infecting computers one by one with her custom-made virus, she had an overwhelmingly large web of information at her fingertips.
It needn’t be said that she was an almost indispensable member of the mercenary group when it came to information gathering and espionage on a large scale, much less a small one. As such, it stood to reason that having her take part in this gathering was a given.
–and yet, there was a single reason as to why Junichi chose against involving her.
「Simple. Because she’s already compromised.」
Exactly. When Cocoa got herself employed by Ando Naoki, it was quickly exposed to the public that she and Junichi were acquainted. As such, it wouldn’t be strange for that inspector to have obtained the same information.
And if they were suspicious of Junichi, it wouldn’t be strange for them to start looking into Cocoa either. Of course, it was likely that their investigation into her wouldn’t be too comprehensive. That said, having her start making moves as a mercenary would undoubtedly make the police wary.
「………that really was a bad move, wasn’t it?」
Roxanne spoke, ruefully. After all, it was at her suggestion that Cocoa try out for a job at 【Phoenix Gakuen】, resulting in their current predicament. Really, even though she had the best of intentions, the busty blonde’s actions had really caused too much mayhem.
Perhaps—just maybe this meeting was a way of Junichi to get her to take responsibility for this mess? Or maybe he was giving her a chance to redeem herself by lending him aid to protect his future?
Either way, Roxanne had no way of discerning which as the youth simply ruffled his hair before a deep sigh escape from his mouth.
「What’s done is done. The only thing we can do now is play it by ear.」
The youth muttered, his lips curling into a wry smile as he turned to the bodacious blonde. Although mistakes were made, the past was the past. Nothing could be done to erase history already told.
Which is why Junichi would work his damnedest to ensure that a future where he would be convicted would never come. It was to this end that the duo began to lay their plans, their figures obscured by the dead of the night.
As to what form their schemes would take in the future was a detail that only they would know.
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