Chapter 193: Black and Blue – Disclosure
Much had happened after the dark-haired youth’s consciousness cut out.
Joanne White (AKA Roxanne Leblanc) had left the scene under the pretence of reporting the situation back to HQ. Her escort, the general, also accompanied her after having harshly scolded his devilish daughter for her recklessness.
As for the remaining officers, they were ordered to stand by while this whole mess was sorted out. After all, even though such an openly hostile attack against one of their branches was completely unheard of, the fact that they had tortured an innocent could not be overlooked, and so the entire branch was restricted from taking action so as to not cause any more trouble.
Of course, Joanne had issued Sakamoto Maria an additional order of ensuring the dark-haired youth’s safety. Thus, in accordance with such aims, the brown-haired inspector called for an ambulance, which had brought Junichi to the hospital room in which he currently lay.
Based on the pre-diagnosis, the wounds he received during the attack were practically zero. That being said, his body wasn’t in very good shape due to how roughly he had been treated during the interrogation, which is why the doctors had recommended that he remain bed-ridden for the next few days.
Of course, that didn’t mean he was in such a state that prevented visitors from seeing him. The reason why Maria didn’t visit Junichi despite wanting to stay, however, was because of the hostile glare that had been directed at her from a certain ponytail 〚Assassin〛.
-though, upon waking, the dark-haired youth had absolutely no clue that such events had occurred.
Upon seeing her upperclassman’s eyelids fluttering open, the unusually perturbed Rin dived into his chest. Her usual icy facade was nowhere to be seen, her excessive concern for his well-being clouded her judgement as her aloofness evaporated. As a result, large pearls of tears streaked down her cheeks as the girl desperately clung to Junichi’s shirt like a child.
Now, having just awoken, the dark-haired youth’s mind was not entirely present. That being said, even if he were fully conscious, he would have been just as perplexed as he was now, due in part to the fact that he couldn’t immediately recognise the ponytail that was quivering violently in his chest.
But then, it couldn’t be helped. After all, the ice cold 〚Assassin’s〛 current behaviour was far removed from her usual conduct to the point where it seemed like she was a completely different person.
Still, since there wasn’t any point in deliberating this matter much further, the boy called out to the distressed damsel, as though trying to ascertain whether she really was who he suspected her to be.
「Heya! I’m here too, y’know!」
The moment he called out to her, he could feel the petite maiden’s tense shoulders shudder, almost in a sign of relief. Yet, that was about the only change that Junichi could observe coming from the girl in his arms as another individual barged into their conversation.
Honestly, just from the tone of voice alone, the youth was instantly able to determine the identity of this mysterious intruder. Yet, he turned his gaze towards her anyway, causing his eyes to come into contact with a set of grey pupils and short cerulean hair which gave off a fresh impression.
Her slightly slanted eyes and obnoxiously cheerful countenance that knew not when to quit, coupled with her slim yet toned figure, was instantly recognisable by the dark-haired youth. So recognisable, in fact, that it caused him to involuntarily click his tongue in annoyance.
「Hey! What’s with that reaction!? Isn’t that a little too mean?!」
The annoyance—Miyazaki Sora—responded with a full force interjection, showing feigned dissatisfaction at the way she had been treated so callously by the dark-haired youth. Yet, Junichi didn’t seem like he was going to break this streak as he blatantly ignored her complaints and surveyed his surroundings.
In complete contrast to the interrogation room he was in before, his surroundings were extremely and utterly white. He was in a white bed surrounded by white walls with a white ceiling to match the white flooring. Even the sheets he was covered in threatened to bury him in white, which conversely caused his dark hair to stand out like a sore thumb.
And yet, because of the consistency of this white-ness, Junichi was somewhat able to pinpoint where exactly he was.
「This is a hospital.」
「Sure is. You remember what happened, right?」
In response to Sora’s prompting, the dark-haired youth’s visage clouded as he recalled the events that had occurred before he lost consciousness. The arrest, the interrogation, and 《Cross’s》 defection. It wasn’t certain which of these events troubled Junichi so, but he was greatly troubled nonetheless.
Especially when considering that the current situation was less than ideal, as, with the loss of his other self, Junichi no longer had the means of fighting on the stage of otherworldly beings.
With that said, someone here did. Someone who probably shouldn’t have had such an ability in the first place.
「Anyways, you stay here, Junichi-kun. I’ll do something about this, so-」
「-Sora. Since when did you have a ［Counterpart］?」
As Junichi threw out said comment towards the departing athlete’s back, Sora, for what seemed like the first time in her life, lost her composure as she sharply jerked her head back towards the youth. If she was drinking, then there was no doubt that she would have performed a magnificent spit take, though it was more than likely that the spray would end up drenching the boy who couldn’t move from his bed.
Now, at first, Sora thought she had misheard what her dark-haired friend had said. Yet, upon seeing those narrowed eyes focused upon her visage, said notion was quickly dismissed as her mind began to whirl.
(Junichi-kun knows about ［Counterparts］? How? Why? Does he know that attacker? Is that his ［Counterpart］? Or rather, how did he know that I have a contract with Dia-chi? Can he see her? But how?)
—-question after question started bouncing around in the blue devil’s head as she froze in place, her expression still distorted into one of shock and disbelief.
Yet, the one who spoke next would only serve to further compound the athlete’s confusion.
「E-Eh?! Miyazaki-senpai also-!?」
「Eh? R-Rin-chan, what do you mean by also?」
After the surprise from all sides had somehow managed to diffuse itself, the trio of black, blue, and navy began to sort through the misunderstandings. As each side had their own explanations to give, the talk lasted for an unusually long time.
During which, despite seemingly having recovered her composure, Rin did not make an effort to remove herself from the dark-haired youth by her own initiative. It was only when Junichi pointed it out did the ponytail girl shy away from his chest, though she instead remained at his side with no intention of moving.
Seeing her like this reminded Junichi of a certain hacker with liquorice hair, and how she had behaved in similar fashion back in the day. Still, as this was not the time nor the place to reminisce, the mercenary simply disregarded the situation as he exchanged information with Sora.
From his end, he informed the athlete about his current circumstances surrounding the otherworldly beings. Taking care not to mention anything about his mercenary life, the youth dictated his encounters with the 【Organisation】, as well as who the individual known as 《Cross》 was.
『I see…so that was 《Cross》.』
-was the reaction of Sora’s ［Counterpart］, 《Diamond》, upon being filled in on the situation together with her host. Her voice, although similar in quality to the bundle of energy that was Sora’s, possessed a composure that was quite unlike the mischievous devil’s usual facade.
It was because of this distinction that both Junichi and Rin were able to discern who was truly speaking, though it was a little jarring to the dark-haired youth when he considered that Sora’s intensity in her speech was a notch higher during the times when her bubbly persona was stripped away.
「Y’know that whacko, Dia-cchi?」
『It’s a little hard not to…』
The ［Counterpart］ trailed off, her hesitation not lost on the teenagers of black and blue. It was evident that there was some story hidden behind 《Diamond’s》 peculiar phrasing, though it was difficult to make out what it meant.
Perhaps Junichi, who had heard similar things from several other ［Counterparts］, was closer to uncovering why 《Cross》 possessed such infamy amongst his otherworldly cohort, though he made no attempts to contemplate the matter at the current time.
After all, he had other matters to worry about.
「Ah, we’re here.」
Sora spoke as she stopped in front of a door. After their clarification on each other’s stories, the trio had left Junichi’s room, traversing the hospital as they headed towards this specific location.
Of course, despite not being completely healed after his torturous ordeal, the dark-haired youth stubbornly refused to stay put, and so the two girls could only comply with his demands as they accompanied him—Rin sticking close in case he needed support while Sora acting as a guide towards their destination.
And said destination now laid before them: a hospital room that housed 2 patients whose names were displayed on the outside of the room.
Miyazawa Mana. Isayama Masaru.
Indeed. After having heard Sora’s story (particularly the details of how she barged into the police branch), the boy was informed of the entire situation. How she had received the phone call from Rin. How she contacted her father. How she came because she was worried.
How Mana and Masaru had been attacked by the dark-haired entity.
Upon immediately learning this, it was hard for Junichi to stay still. Even more so when he learned that they were actually in the same hospital as he was, and so he insisted on seeing them. Thus, faced with the unrelenting pressure of a worried brother, the two girls were left with no choice but to escort the injured youth to the room that housed his little sister.
The very same room which lied on the other side of this door.
The sight that greeted the youth the moment that he entered the room was the agitated figure of a tall, brown-haired maiden who had jumped up in surprise upon seeing him. With her round, hazelnut eyes and beautiful yet homely visage covered by round spectacled, it was quickly apparent that this timid girl was none other than Junichi’s childhood friend: Hitomi Shiori.
And, while the youth was somewhat perplexed as to why the girl was here, he seemed to recall that she had been asked by the athlete to keep an eye on the incapacitated duo, just in case. Though, from what he could see, she had done more than simply sitting there while idly twiddling her thumbs.
Through his «Soul Scanning» trait, Junichi was able to see a thin stream of crimson red ［Soul Power］ flowing out from the girl, creating a river-like stream that forked towards the two beds placed in the room. Although it was mere conjecture at this point, the youth assumed that the girl was using a type of ［Support Arming］ to alleviate their pain, if not to heal it.
Considering the facts, it was entirely possible. Especially since 《Plus》 possessed the trait of «Augmentation», which could easily increase one’s strength or promote one’s natural healing. Yet, just because it was possible did not mean that it was without its difficulties.
Sustaining this type of healing for extended periods of time meant that Shiori constantly needed to output ［Soul Power］, AKA energy. No matter how sturdy someone was, keeping oneself steady whilst having their energy constantly drained was no simple task. The bags under the worried maiden’s eyes and her haggard visage were proof of this.
「I’m fine, Shiori. Thanks. For everything.」
The dark-haired youth spoke directly, his eyes flitting towards the beds as he expressed his gratitude to the girl who had already done so much for them in their time of need. As he acknowledged her efforts, however, a pink line streaked across the maiden’s fair cheeks, and even her face had become quite hot.
It was fair to say that, perhaps, Shiori felt that her efforts in persevering to ease her friends’ suffering were all worth it just for that moment, as embarrassment and joy seeped into her weary frame with wicked temptation. At the same time, however, the grim countenance on her beloved’s visage made it difficult for her to truly relish in this feeling, as his pained features seemed to constrict her throat.
「N-No, not at all.」
Nevertheless, Shiori suppressed both the smile that threatened to surface on her face and the aching in her heart as she responded to the boy, who was now approaching one of the beds.
And in this bed lay the unconscious figure of one jet black beauty.
Upon seeing his unmoving little sister wrapped in a hospital blanket before him, Junichi couldn’t help but clench his fist in angst. The sight of her slender frame, whose jade skin was a degree paler than usual, remained still and unmoving as she slept peacefully on the hospital bed.
Yet, her body was so tranquil that even her chest remained immobile, giving off the illusion that she wasn’t breathing. Of course, the dark-haired youth wasn’t so unobservant as to be taken in by said illusion, as his eyes were able to detect Mana’s chest rising and falling ever so slightly. That being said, the spectre of his little sister’s death wasn’t easy to ignore, as the boy placed two fingers against her wrist.
After taking her pulse and affirming that life still dwelled in the unconscious Mana, Junichi exhaled deeply, relaxing his tense nerves as he stepped away from her bedside and turned his focus towards the other incapacitated individual.
The boy spoke as he gazed at the motionless figure of the blonde-haired delinquent. Upon doing so, it was immediately evident that his situation was far worse than the jet black beauty. Despite her comatose-like state, Mana’s body did not appear to be injured in the least, with barely a single scratch on her delicate skin.
A result that was likely due to the painstaking efforts of the wounded 〚Lion〛.
Scorched flesh and lacerations were littered all over his frame, accompanied by patches of black and swollen skin. Some of his limbs were even wrapped in bandages, likely in order to give support to bones which had been fractured by his ordeal against the corrupted 《Cross》.
Needless to say, Isayama Masaru had put his very life on the line to protect his crush. Hence, his current injuries were actually wounds of pride and did not deserve to be pitied.
Yet, while he showed no sympathy for the delinquent, that didn’t mean he was capable of keeping his other emotions still, as frustration began to boil within his core.
Clicking his tongue, the dark-haired youth tore his eyes away from the two unconscious teenagers, turning to address the girls who had been watching him in silence up until now. His locks caused shadows to cascade over his visage, concealing his eyes as they were steeped in a veil of darkness.
Yet, even though this curtain obscured much of his features, all of the girls present were able to discern the severity of his expression. After all, his grim countenance was portrayed through the piercing red glow of his right eye which shone ominously like a twinkling star.
And with such an eerie appearance, the mercenary of blood and iron spoke the following words.
「We’re gonna kill him.」
At this chilling statement, the surroundings became steeped in strained silence as the atmosphere was dominated by a suffocating lull. Shiori, Sora, and Rin—all three girls found themselves unable to speak in the face of this inexplicable pressure, which caused their voices to become lodged in their parched throats.
A reaction that displayed just how potent the blood and iron mercenary’s murderous intent was as it bore down on the trio.
「W-Wait, Junichi-kun?! Shiori’s here, you know?」
The first one to shake off the intimidation from the boy’s lethal aura was Sora, who recovered from her shock as she quickly issued a warning to the youth. After all, as Junichi was talking about the life and death of an otherworldly entity, the athlete immediately realised that this was not a conversation that unrelated parties should be involved in.
Naturally, Sora also found herself furrowing her brow, likely because she was irked at the fact that the boy speaking of such matters in the bespectacled maiden’s presence would get her wrapped up in supernatural affairs. Yet, in response to such concerns, the dark-haired youth simply stated the following in a nonchalant, matter-of-fact manner.
「I know. She’s got a ［Counterpart］ too.」
It was unsure who had allowed that choked gasp to escape their lips. Yet, regardless of who did, it was very clear that both girls of brown and blue were rather shaken by the sudden news as they looked at each other with wide eyes.
Of course, even though Shiori had been in possession of a ［Counterpart］ for quite some time, Junichi wouldn’t have thought to disclose such matters to her at the outset. It was only because the bespectacled 〚Tactician〛 had become his ally that he allowed her to be privy to this information.
And even now, the dark-haired youth was still internally debating whether or not he should really involve the timid maiden in the current episode. Yet, considering the circumstances as they were, he would eventually require Shiori to perform some duties for him, and so it was better to have her obtain a full understanding of the situation anyway.
「Either way, nothing changes. I already warned him once. As long as he doesn’t get in my way, I’ll turn a blind eye towards his actions. However, if he becomes my enemy, then I will show him no mercy.」
Junichi declared, muttering through narrowed eyes whose ominous glow illuminated the white room with shades of red and green. The room’s clean white insides were swallowed up by a torrent of light that was emitted by his twin jewels, one a piercing red while the other a subtle green.
The boy’s luminescence was constantly reflected by the room’s white interior, bouncing from the roof to the walls to the tiles as they dyed the entire space in his colours. Yet, the two lights were unable to keep from interacting and clashing with each other, the cold red a sign of death while the warm green symbolised life.
The two colours seemed to represent the boy’s inner state itself, one side wanting to kill the enemy that had inflicted such injuries upon the two teenagers before him while the other desired to find a way for him to survive. A rather peculiar, though not entirely unfamiliar dilemma as Junichi once faced a similar choice during Shiori’s case.
This time, however, it could be said that Junichi’s inner turmoil was rather bizarre. After all, while he was rather intimately involved with the bespectacled maiden with brown hair and had a vested interest in her safety, 《Cross》 was an entirely different matter.
They were strangers, who had a simple working agreement and had only been acquainted for one month. The dark-haired entity’s life should have meant nothing to the mercenary. In fact, it should have been worth less than nothing, as the ［Counterpart’s］ act of harming Mana should have turned him into an enemy, and so the red light sought death.
And yet, there was another part of the boy that wanted to try and save the corrupted entity with all he could. Perhaps out of compassion and pity for the being, or out of keen calculations that weighed the benefits and risks of spending such effort for the sake of his other self, and so the green light sought life.
These two sides continued to vie for dominance, unrelenting in their struggles as the colours warped the spectrum, twisting into an ominous by-product that could only be described as sinister.
Yet, unlike the indecisive conclusion that seemed to result from the corrupted background, the mercenary of blood and iron had made his resolve, coldly uttering the following three words amidst this menacing aura that seemed to represent both the despair of life and the hope of death itself.
「He’s gotta die.」