Merry Christmas Everyone!
Translated : Wing
Edited : Skat
Yuu Part 3
Dad and Mom, I’m sorry to tell you this.
But your beloved daughter is currently being hunted by an organization called the Special Environmental Preservation Bureau. I’m not kidding; I’m seriously being targeted by them. Yesterday I almost got killed!
And not only that.
Right now, I’m together with these two people, Anmoto Shiika, and Shirakashi Ubuki; they are both Mushitsuki. The (Mushi) that I thought only existed in rumors, actually are real. I’m planning on going to the Ouka City with them.
As for the reason… Well, even I don’t really understand it myself, but I feel like I have to go. Even though I really wanted to forget all about this, and come home right away. After I come home, I’m gonna take a shower first, before calling Chie and apologize for not replying yesterday evening; I also wanted to do my homework from cram school as well. In order to live a life free of uneasiness…
But I must go, in order to meet a person called (Kakkou) at Ouka City. After meeting him, I will then hand him the CD that I received from a guy called (Centi)… I know this is very dangerous, and that I might be putting my life on the line… But --- Oh that’s right, I haven’t contacted home since yesterday, you guys must have been worried right? But Ubuki-san said that it would be best to not get in contact with anyone. That’s why, I’m sorry. After I come home, you can yell at me as much as you want! If I'm able to come home safely that is…
Akamaki City, which was stormy the previous night, had a clear blue sky today.
High-rise buildings could be seen lined up across the streets, standing side by side next to the national highway. Because of the buildings' dense shadows, the alleys between them appeared to be darker than usual. Through the several inch gaps between the tall buildings, one could see the white clouds that were floating leisurely in the sky. In addition, the freezing cold air from yesterday had also become warmer—today was no doubt the best day to “Escape”.
However, Yuu still stood there dumbfounded.
Her body trembled violently from seeing the unbelievable scene in front of her, causing her to be rooted to the ground.
“Buy that one!”
Ubuki grabbed onto Yuu’s book bag, and shook it left and right.
The slender teenage girl was now wearing a sweater, and had a necklace hanging from her neck. The goggles and long coat that she wore yesterday evening, were now in Yuu's book bag. Although Yuu protested desperately, the textbooks and notebooks that were originally in the bag; were still discarded by Ubuki as she stated: "We don't need those."
“Yuu-tan, buy me crepes! I - want - it!~~”
In the direction where the noisy Ubuki was pointing, a cute and lovely pink mobile shop could be seen.
“Crepes! Yuu-tan, buy it!!!”
After seeing Ubuki, who was now swinging her arms and making a fuss, Yuu's expression twitched even harder.
This person, in reality, is someone who acts like this, huh—
Yesterday evening, due to the fact that she was almost scared to death by Ubuki’s scary expression, Yuu didn’t get to know her true character. But the next morning after sleeping over at the empty store for one night, she immediately had to change the impression she had for this person, Shirakashi Ubuki.
Turning to her side, Shiika also secretly peeked at the crepes store. Even though she would lower her head shyly whenever she met Yuu's eyes, her gaze never once shifted away from the pink mobile shop
This one here is also ---
Shiika wasn’t wearing the one piece clothing that she wore last night, but rather a hooded leather jacket. These clothes were bought by Yuu and Ubuki this morning in a clothing store where there weren’t many customers.
“…You two…Do you know what kind of situation we are in right now?...”
Yuu finally opened her mouth and said this:
“…The three of us are being targeted right know, you know that?! Who knows what might happen before we reach Ouka City, we can’t waste any money like this ---“
“Y-You’re right…We have to save the money…”
The words that Yuu just spoke didn't seem to have any effect on their behavior whatsoever. Even though Shiika agreed with her statement, she would still occasionally turn around and peek at the crepe store.
Looking at them, Yuu could not help but to state her true opinion:
“Are you guys really sixteen…?”
Shiika and Ubuki were both older than Yuu by 2 years. It wouldn't be strange to mistake someone with the stature and appearance of Ubuki, for a college student. A teenage girl like her, begging desperately and shamelessly in the middle of the street for stuff; it was...in a way... quite a rare scene.
“…Speaking of money, why am I the only that has money?!...”
The clothes that Shiika was wearing were all bought with Yuu's money. It seemed that mistaking the payment date for the tuition fee came in unexpectedly handy.
“I already said Yuu-tan you’re my property, so of course your money is my money! Hurrrry up~ and buy me the crepe!”
Looking straight at the Ubuki who was now making a fuss on the floor, and Shiika who’s gaze began to drift to the customers that were stretching out their hand to hold the crepes, Yuu couldn’t even mutter a single word.
--- After a few minutes had passed.
“Hehe, Shiika-tan, let me have a bite of your choco-banana favor!”
“U-Uhm…Yuu-chan, do you also want a bite?”
Under the viaduct, Yuu unhappily turned her face away.
The three of them each found a place to sit under the shadow of a pile of waste wood planks.
In the end, Ubuki bought a strawberry-cream flavored crepe, and Shiika bought a choco-banana flavored one.
For the sake of saving money, Yuu didn't buy one for herself. Because one could never know what may happen ahead, one should not simply waste the scarce funding on hand without any consideration. To Yuu, who even tried her best to become admitted into an ordinary high school; something like this was common sense... even if she really wanted to eat one as well...
“Shiika-tan, you wanna have a bite of my strawberry-cream flavor? Ah, I’m not sharing any with the meanie!”
“Didn’t I buy it for you in the end?! Why are you still calling me a meanie!”
Yuu growled her complaints, and Ubuki immediately “Woosh” hid behind Shiika.
“How about easy-to-get-mad Yuu-tan then?”
Ubuki said while spitting her tongue like a kid.
Because of the overwhelming anger, Yuu’s clenching fists began to slightly tremble.
--- What the hell is up with her?!
Last night, when they just first met, Yuu was scared of Ubuki.
Even though she saved Yuu from (Kasuou)'s clutches, she threatened Yuu to relinquish the CD right after. Her expression at that time was completely different from the idiotic girl she was right now. Aside from being a Mushitsuki, that expression of her when she raised her brows was extremely scary as well.
But after just one night, it was as if she had completely changed into a different person. Although her appearance was still the same, her behavior and manner of speaking were just like that of a kindergartener. Yuu had never seen anyone like her before.
Shiika covered Ubuki, and apologized to Yuu.
Shiika was also someone quite strange. She had an extremely quiet and shy personality, and was very kind and gentle towards Yuu. Sometimes, however, she would stare into space, as if she were zoning-out; and give a very unreliable feeling. This morning, Yuu even saw Shiika trip twice in a row onto the floor, as she changed clothes.
“I’m not mad at you, Shiika-san…”
Evading pursuers from the SEPB, while traveling to the Ouka City.
She originally thought that this would be the start of a life-threatening, danger-filled getaway.
But, what’s up with this carefree atmosphere ---
The uneasiness within Yuu’s heart grew even stronger.
“I have always wanted to try crepes!”
Shiika took a bite of the crepes in her hands, and said with a smile filled with joy.
“Eh… You never ate crepes before?”
Shiika nodded affirmatively; it didn’t seem like she was lying.
But that sentence was still hard to believe, Shiika was already 16 years old. Theoretically speaking, she should've had a lot of opportunities to eat crepes.
“I didn’t know crepes had this much chocolate!”
“Shiika-tan, you didn’t notice the billboards? Because Valentine’s Day is coming, so they are having an extra-serving of chocolate event right now! This ribbon is also a gift!”
Shiika tilted her head, and gazed at the ribbon wrapped on the crepe’s wrapping paper.
“It’s Valentine’s Day! The day when a girl gives chocolate to the boy they like…Ehh? Don’t you know what Valentine’s Day is?”
Shiika displayed a spaced-out expression, but immediately nodded her head many times right after.
“Valentine’s Day…I see, so it’s almost Valentine’s Day huh…”
She acted as if she had just recalled something from long ago.
Yuu was becoming more puzzled about this girl.
What kind of life has she been living till now?
“Ah, let’s use this and give Shiika-tan a little “decoration”!”
Ubuki slowly untied the ribbon on her crepe's wrapping paper. While biting the crepe in her mouth, she deftly tied Shiika’s hair with the ribbon. Looking at Shiika whose hair was now tied into a ponytail ---
“Kyaa --- So cute!”
Ubuki’s mood suddenly became better.
Shiika’s cheeks blushed.
“The boy that I like huh…”
She then muttered that line.
After Yuu waited anxiously for a few minutes, she stared at the two that seemed satisfied from their enjoyment and finally opened her mouth:
“Satisfied? Let’s discuss our plan then!”
Both Ubuki and Shiika asked in unison.
--- T-These guys…!
Yuu was so pissed that even her shoulders were starting to tremble, and said with a low voice.
“Discuss how and what we need to do to get to Ouka City…!”
"Ah, why didn't you just say so? Instead of saying something like a 'plan' and such... I'll have you know, this isn't a game okay?
“Of course I know that!”
“You obviously didn’t understand! If we’re caught, we will be killed!”
Stared by Ubuki’s calm gaze, Yuu stuttered.
--- Who’s fault you think it is that we’re having this carefree atmosphere?!
Shiika tried to calm down the outraged Yuu.
“Both of you should calm down a bit, okay?”
“I am calm! It’s Yuu-tan that’s acting so high-strung!”
“Why does it turns out to be me?! It’s you that’s acting high-tension!”
Shiika was caught in the middle as Yuu stared at Ubuki. On the other hand, when Shiika wasn’t looking, Ubuki spit her tongue like a kid. This kind of childish act enraged Yuu even more.
W-What…?! What the hell is up with her?!
Acting all threatening for a moment, but then immediately acting all wayward while doing childish acts the next moment. Yuu’s heart was tortured by the uneasiness since yesterday; the thought of wanting to shout out "Who’s the one that doesn't want to escape huh?!” was filling up her mind.
But then due to Shiika’s pursuation, both Yuu and Ubuki finally calmed down. However, they refused to look at each other now.
“Well, Shiika-tan, I’m going to explain now okay?”
Feeling her existence being disregarded so blatantly, Yuu grew even more angry.
Ubuki picked up a stick, and started to draw lines on the sandy ground.
She drew out the outline of Akamaki City, the neighboring Higano City, and Ouka City that followed after them. The map of the cities were portrayed with unexpectedly detail.
“Fortunately, we destroyed (Kasuou)-tan’s goggles beforehand. Otherwise, our intention of going to Ouka City where (Kakkou) is situated might be discovered. As long as the Headquarters doesn’t know where we’re escaping to, they will most likely place their combat squad at fixed locations.”
After briefing the current situation, Ubuki added a few more different sized circles onto the map.
“As I have mentioned last night, flying method would be impossible, because of (Konoha)-tan.”
“Yeah, a figure that just recently joined SEPB and immediately became a Kashu level four ranked. Specialty is very good eyesight, as long as there are no obstacles, she can see beyond tens of kilometers away. Even if she is not around, there are still flying forces watching over the sky on their (Mushi). If we fly up, we will immediately suffer from their concentrated attack.”
“And here, here, and…here. These locations have strong members situated, we should definitely avoid them at all cost! Especially if we were to found out by (Kasuou)-tan over here, it will be a game over. If ranked purely from combat strength, she would not even lose to (Kakkou)!”
Remembering the horrors of last night, Yuu felt a chill running down her spine.
The monster of mist --- (Kasuou); Yuu was almost killed by her. Even without Ubuki reminding her, (Kasuou) was definitely someone that Yuu absolutely didn’t want to see again.
“This area would probably be dangerous as well, there are (Mushi) that are sensitive to smell and (Mushi) that have special searching abilities situated here. If we get too close, they will immediately notice and surround us. Vehicles are impractical as well; since they probably have wanted posters in the buses and cabs. There will also be personnel patrolling and checkpoints on the big road, so that’s out of the question as well.”
Circles were one after one drawn onto the map.
“Well, a no-rank weakling like me…has been thrown into various squads. Thanks to that, I’m fairly familiar with the Central Headquarters’ combat squad and inspector squad.”
Yuu and Shiika carefully gazed at the finished map.
“…Uhm, excuse me, I can’t see a route that we can go through…”
Yuu slowly raised her head, and Ubuki nodded her head naturally in response.
“Didn’t I tell you yesterday?”
Shiika was also looking at the finished map on the ground dazedly.
On the map that Ubuki had drawn, there was only one place that wasn’t being marked.
And that place was their current location, which was also the center of the Akamaki City.
“Ah, I’m sure you’d understand this even without me saying so, but it’d be meaningless for us to go to the police! Even though the police won’t actually look for us, they'd probably put up wanted notices everywhere. And also, we’re absolutely not allowed to move at night. SEPB’s existence is still a secret to the general public, that’s why those guys only act at night when it’s inconspicuous.”
Having to evade this many enemies, and arrive at Ouka City within 3 days ---
Yuu finally understood the recklessness in this matter that she’s was trying to overcome.
A heavy atmosphere suddenly enveloped the three teenage girls.
Shiika raised her head to look at Ubuki.
“There is no way to get past it?”
Ubuki, who was being gazed by Shiika, scratched her head. She used the tip of the stick, and drew a meandering line across the map.
“We can only avoid strong combatants, and move forward with caution. Although this route would take up some time, it’s our only possible path if we want to arrive at the Ouka City within 3 days. Ah, that’s right; we have to set up a rendezvous point……”
“It’s a place where we can meet up in case we got separated! Uhm… Do you know the bridge that connects to the Higano City? It’s right here.”
Ubuki drew a X mark on the map.
“If we flew right under the bridge, I think we should be able to secretly sneak into the Higano City.”
Ubuki closely looked at Yuu and Shiika’s face.
“If we really got separated, you definitely have to go there to meet up, got that? Both of you were saved by me, you mustn't flee halfway!”
Yuu didn’t respond, she only reached her hand into her pocket to feel the hard sensation of the CD.
Shiika also had the same expression, as if she was pondering about something, and looked back at Ubuki.
“…Okay, this should be enough.”
Ubuki squinted her eyes.
Suddenly, Yuu asked Ubuki a question:
“SEPB… The Special Environmental Preservation Bureau, what exactly is this organization? I already know that (Mushi) have existed up till now, but just what in the world are those people…?”
Ubuki and Shiika gazed at Yuu.
“I at least want to know exactly what kind of people are targeting me.”
“Do you really want to know?”
“W-What do you mean by that?
“Nothing --- Well…”
Ubuki raised her head, and started explaining with her unique manner of speaking:
“The SEPB's full name is the Special Environmental Preservation Bureau. Although it presents itself as an investigative agency on the surface, it is in actuality, an organization that deploys Mushitsuki to catch and/or eliminate other Mushitsuki. They kill the (Mushi) of the Mushitsuki they capture which turns them into Fallen, and afterwards accommodate them at the isolation facilities. Only the Mushitsuki that are useful are hired directly as SEPB's members. SEPB has several branch divisions in many areas; and this city, Akamaki City, is the Central Headquarters' home ground. The East Central Division, that (Kakkou) belongs to, is located at the Ouka City a city away from here. Each branch division has its own combat squad, inspector squad, experimental squad, Intel squad, and another special squad with normal citizens mixed along with Mushitsuki. In addition, I was originally a part of the Airborne Division of the combat squad! It’s different from the monitor squad’s personnel that often gets deploy to other places; we only mobilize to engage in battle when there’s an order.”
“That’s right, (Kasuou)-tan and I were in the same squad! And actually…She and I both go to the same school as well! Did you know the Horusu Seijyou Gakuen? At school, that (Kasuou)-tan is actually---“
“Eeeh?! Isn’t Horusu Seijyou Gakuen that super expensive private school?! Wow, Ubuki-san goes to school there? Y-You are…rich after all eh?...I really couldn't tell…”
“Of course not, our tuitions and living expenses are covered by the SEPB. I’m not the type that likes to stick around a place for too long. There seemed to be a lot of things that happened at that school a few years ago, hence we were sent to check on the aftermath of the incidents.”
Ubuki smiled brightly as she squeezed Yuu’s neck and choked her; it seemed like she was not happy with Yuu’s last sentence.
“A-And…are there…a lot of Mushitsuki working elsewhere?”
Yuu who escaped from Ubuki’s grip continued to question:
“Mhm…Not just Mushitsuki, the SEPB’s supporters also help under the table!”
“I had no idea…”
“Of course you wouldn’t! If normal civilians were to know any of this, the SPEB definitely won’t let them off the hook that easily. If they're lucky, it could be just a contract, stating that they would definitely not expose the information. If you're unlucky, then it’s just one knife across the neck; death sentence~”
“Eeh?! B-But…I just…heard everything…”
“That’s why I asked you earlier, are you really sure!”
“N-No one would understand if you were to say it like that! W-What should I do…I-I…”
“As long as Yuu-tan you doesn't tell anyone about this, I think it’ll be fine…Probably…”
After confirming the escape route, the three of them hurriedly left from the shadow of viaduct.
Cutting into shortcut, they entered the crowded residential area.
Every time there was a corner, it was always Yuu that came out to take a look first; poking her head out from the wall, and check if there were any signs of people around. If there were signs of people, they would take another way to go.
The three of them cautiously advanced following Ubuki’s suggested route.
Turning around, they could see the viaduct where they were eating their crepes at. Although it felt like a long time had passed, it didn’t seem like they made much progress.
--- If we follow this pace, can we really get out of Akamaki City by today?
The uneasiness within Yuu expanded bigger and bigger. But if they were to rush, there would a chance that they might be found out by the enemies; that would be the worst scenario. The anxiousness and uneasiness within her grew stronger as time passed by.
At the end of the road, they could hear the sound of cars passing by and crowd’s footsteps.
The national road was right around the corner.
In order to follow the scheduled escape route, it seemed like they have to pass the large crossroad ahead.
Yuu hid in the narrow alley, and observed the situation of the crossroad.
“Yuu-tan is so professional! Could it be that you have been targeted quite a few times already?”
“Hell no! It’s because, Ubuki-san, you and Shiika-san lack awareness to being with!”
Yuu’s scolding caused Ubuki to look displeased.
“I have already carefully observed the places where the combatants might be hiding. It’s Yuu-tan you that’s rushing ahead.”
"Setting aside getting to Ouka City for now, if we don't hurry... with our current speed, we might even have difficulty escaping Akamaki City!"
Even now, as she walked on the streets, Yuu could feel her heart being tightly squeezed by nervousness; always worrying within her heart --- did anyone find them yet? Or was (Kasuou) still after them?
This kind of uneasiness was what Yuu hated the most in this world. She would be become restless, and couldn’t calm down unless she did something.
If she ever felt uneasy about exams, she always had the option to study and calm herself down, right now she couldn't do something like that.
The wind suddenly blew.
It was a breeze with a mix of car exhaust... a type of wind which one could feel anywhere in the city.
“And also, Why are Ubuki-san you always ---“
Speaking it halfway, Yuu suddenly noticed that Shiika was gazing at the sky. Ubuki also turned to look at Shiika.
Shiika was unaware that the two of them were arguing; she gazed at the sky dazedly, while holding up her hands and standing still.
Shiika came back to her senses, and looked at them.
“Because the wind felt really good…So…”
Upon hearing that line from Shiika, Yuu frowned.
The freezing breeze of February, aside from its coldness, was the same as other wind that could be just felt anywhere; there wasn’t anything new or unique about it.
However, Shiika seemed like she was happy to be able to feel this kind of wind; as if she hadn't felt it for a long time already.
For some reason, the Shiika who was smiling weakly seemed so fragile like an illusion, and gave an impression as if she would vanish away any second.
“I hate this kind of wind the most……”
Ubuki spoke with a cold tone:
“Wet and filled with odor, not to mention the air is also dirty…City wind will always be the same no matter where you go…Just makes me want to puke from smelling it.”
“Is there somewhere else that’s different?”
Shiika asked innocently.
Ubuki reached her hand toward the necklace on her chest, and held tightly onto the golden ring which hung on it.
“The hometown that I was born at was completely different than here…A very beautiful island that’s always surrounded by wind that smells like the sea.”
“You were not born in Akamaki City?”
Ubuki narrowed her eyes and smiled weakly; it was their first time seeing her with that kind of expression.
“Nope…I was born on an island called Aoharima Island……”
“An island huh…It’d be nice if I can go there and see~ since the only place I knew was Ouka City.”
Shiika’s inadvertent words, for some reason, caused Ubuki’s expression to be filled with loneliness the next second.
“…That Island…is not there anymore…”
Ubuki turned her head around, and ignored Shiika’s questioning.
Both Yuu and Shiika stayed in silence.
After a while, Shiika opened her mouth first and said:
“Why didn’t you ask me as well, Ubuki?”
Shiika gazed straight at Ubuki who turned around with a stiffened expression.
“Up until yesterday, every one that I met would always ask me… those that came to see me secretly, and those that were brought into the facilities, they would ask --- What do you need to do in order to awaken from the Fallen status? How come Ubuki, you didn’t ask me anything…”
“Do you know how?”
“Either way, I’m not interested in it!”
“Don’t you want to become… normal again? To be free again?”
“To be free? If I were to obtain that freedom, then there would really be nothing left of me!”
Ubuki laughed self-deprecatingly:
“I’m neither smart nor strong. If I were no longer a Mushitsuki, then I’ll become an empty shell…Even the meaning of my existence will disappear as well.”
Shiika showed a sorrowful expression. Upon seeing this, Ubuki narrowed her eyes.
“I don’t like that expression of yours Shiika-tan…Could you please not show it next time?”
Shiika bit her lips. Although she wanted to say something, she could only hang her head low and kept them to herself.
Within Yuu, an unspeakable uneasiness had also expanded.
Ubuki who always behaved and fussed like a child, yet would suddenly change, and show scary expressions; and Shiika who would feel moved by trivial matters, and behave out of the norm...
Are all Mushitsuki strange like these two? Are they all this hard to understand?
--- Under this kind of situation with no slightest motivation at all, would they really reach Ouka City?
Yuu held tightly onto the CD within her pocket.
“Let’s stop the chatting for now! We will move when the next green light comes! Absolutely no running or stopping, or doing any other things that make you stand out, got that?!”
Ubuki leaned her body outward from the alley, and surveyed the crossroad’s situation.
Yuu hurriedly pulled Ubuki’s sweater.
“L-Let’s… try another route! If we were to go through this many people, there’s a chance that we might be found out…!”
“W-What…do you mean why?! Isn’t it obviously dangerous? We should be able to find a safer route---“
“Why are you even saying that now? To us, there’s no place that’s safe to begin with, we have already put our lives on the line.”
Ubuki smiled weakly as she said that. Recalling that map of horror, Yuu felt her stomach twitching in pain.
Shiika nodded her head with a strange expression, while Yuu was still standing there dazedly.
“Yuu-tan, if you say anything like that next time, I’m going to punish you, got that?”
Ubuki nodded her hand against Yuu’s head as Yuu’s breathing became faster.
Ubuki and Shiika were both aware of the terror of the Special Environmental Preservation Bureau. As for Yuu, she was only starting to have a taste of this fear.
After pedestrian traffic light changed to green, a large number of passersby began to move and disperse.
The three of them walked out from the alley, and mixed into the crowd.
The sound of cars beeping, the clamor of the passersby, and the music that was played by the traffic light— all didn’t flow into Yuu’s ears. The only thing she could hear was the sound of her heart beating violently.
Yuu lowered her head and followed Ubuki and Shiika’s steps, tailing right behind them.
However just then, she suddenly felt a gaze looking at her, hence she turned her head to the side.
At the center of the crossroad among the crossing crowds, a petite figure stood all alone.
The figure was a girl which appeared to be in the fifth or sixth grade of elementary school. Perhaps she was in love of heart shaped patterns? She had a heart-shaped hairclip in the front of her short hair, on the necklace were four heart-shaped small accessories, she also wore a sweater with a heart-shaped picture. Other than her being cute and childish, her tidy appearance gave a strong impression.
The girl was looking at the three of them, but immediately she shifted her gaze indifferently and left in the opposite direction.
Shiika walked closer to Yuu who had subconsciously stopped walking. Yuu came back to her senses and looked ahead; Ubuki was staring at her direction.
Shiika held Yuu’s hand, and crossed the road.
The three of them hurriedly walked into the alleys between the buildings without stopping.
After walking through consecutive corners, they arrived at the alleys of residential area.
It didn't seem like they were found out. Even after walking for a while, there still hadn't been any sign of abnormality.
"Were you not listening at all when I said you can't stop walking?"
The Ubuki that was walking in the front suddenly turned around with a disappointed expression.
Yuu originally wanted to tell them about the strange girl that she just saw, but immediately threw that idea out of her mind. That girl was not wearing a white-colored coat after all, and beside, Yuu didn't think that kind of small girl could be their enemy. If she were to speak her thoughts, Ubuki would probably say Yuu worried too much, again.
"Shiika-tan, if Yuu-tan had any of this ever again, we're gonna leave her behind! Just your clumsiness alone was enough to make me worry."
"T-This has nothing to do with Shiika-san."
"Both of you just have to listen to my orders! If it weren't for me, both Shiika-tan and Yuu-tan would've been found out already."
Ubuki turned around, and walked forward.
As if she herself was being mocked at, Yuu whispered weakly:
"That's not true... I'm also..."
"Ahaha! What nonsense is this kid talking about? You're obviously nothing but a burden."
Yuu suddenly stopped.
"Bur--den, bur--den. From today onward, your nickname will be burden-tan!"
"Ubuki...Stop saying it like that..."
"I-I'm not...a burden..."
Yuu's hoarse voice caused Ubuki to stop moving once again. She turned around, and mocked:
"Ooho...I should make myself clear then! Yuu-tan you're nothing more than baggage that we decided to take along! Take ~ along, you got that? If it weren't for the fact that Shiika-tan needed to go to Ouka City, I would've said bye-bye to you long ago. Even if you are here, you aren't helping at all!"
"I-I have money...on me...This morning's crepes were ---"
"Those were your parent's money, weren't they? And besides, if it was just money, there's other way of obtaining it. If needed to, I can just get it from passerby."
"Y-You can't do things like that...Ubuki."
"If you were to do things like that, you will immediately be found out. Can’t you even understand that kind of common sense?!"
Yuu subconsciously raised her voice. This caused the smile to disappear from Ubuki's expression.
"Of course I know that...It seems like Yuu-tan is the type I hate the most! You're obviously so weak that you can't do anything on your own, yet you still think that you can do everything."
The words Ubuki said hadn't the slightest bit of tolerance in them. Yuu felt her cheeks getting hotter and hotter.
Yesterday night, Yuu's friend had also said the similar things.
"Why do I have to be spoken to like this, from you?! Ubuki-san is also the type I hate the most! I can never understand what is going on in your head—"
"Huhhh, I have no reason to stand here and take that from you either! Fine, I'm tired of being with Yuu-tan. That CD can't possibly have anything important in it anyway; were going to leave you here like this... Ah, I'm going to take back the goggles and coat, so hand over your book bag!"
"Both of you, stop!...If you keep quarreling like this, we will never be able reach Ouka City."
"It's all this midget's fault. Just being a burden was not enough, she even got in our way, what an eyesore!"
"Eyesore......?! I'm not an eyesore! I would rather get saved by someone stronger!"
When her book bag was snatched away by Ubuki, Yuu subconsciously shouted that line.
Ubuki suddenly stopped moving, holding Yuu's book bag in her hands, and widened her eyes.
Ubuki's shoulders trembled nonstop.
"I also...wanted to be stronger...If I were stronger, then...I would be able to take revenge against…that woman."
Yuu noticed that Ubuki was mumbling something to herself, before suddenly turning to face the two of them with a raging expression.
"Even if Shiika-tan and Yuu-tan were to die, I wouldn't mind at all! As long as you guys can be of use, I don't care if the two of you were to die!"
Both Yuu and Shiika were so stunned that they couldn't speak a word.
"I've finally managed to obtain it! After waiting for 3 freaking years, I can finally take revenge against that woman now! I'm going to take revenge for (Sensei) and everyone else ---!"
"A brat's quarrel...is so annoying that I can't even stand it..."
A high-pitched voice suddenly came from above.
Unexpectedly, the first one to react among the three was Shiika. She pushed both Yuu and Ubuki away.
The place where they were just at, was carved hollow by a black shadow. As if an explosion had occurred, cements pieces were blown into pieces.
Shiika covered Yuu with her body, to shield her from the flying debris.
Yuu and Shiika raised their head to look above at the same time, and gasped.
A cloud of black mist hovered on the ceiling of a short building. Amidst the mist, a teenage girl wearing a white-colored coat could be seen.
Yuu was lifted up by Shiika.
The black shadow that carved the ground, was a giant claw formed by a part of the mist. The impact was so strong that even the wall of the housing next to it crumbled.
Shiika shifted her gaze at the sky, and became dumbfounded.
Towards the blue sky through the gaps of building, many black dots could be seen appearing in the distance.
Those are (Mushi), they must be (Kasuou)'s comrades!
--- But why...? Why is (Kasuou) here?
Yuu's feet were frozen still from fears.
According to Ubuki, (Kasuou) should be situated at the opposite direction of Higano City in Akamaki city. That was why they chose this route in the first place, in order avoid her.
Shiika and Yuu were separated from Ubuki by the crack that the claw made. Ubuki threw away the book bag, and equipped her goggles and long coat.
"...What a coincidence, (Kasuou)-tan. Shouldn't (Kasuou)-tan be situated elsewhere?"
"We've already seen through the plan that you cooked up with that empty brain of yours. You guys probably thought that you could get away by going through the areas where there weren't any strong members on guard, right?"
Ubuki expression instantly turned livid, however she immediately turned to face Shiika with a smile.
"You can't possibly forget about Shiika-tan right? Even if it's (Kasuou)-tan you, do you think you can win against her?"
The overwhelming fear that was almost crushing Yuu alive, from within, suddenly backed down a bit.
That's right, as long as we have Shiika-san, even (Kasuou) can't...
Shiika stared (Kasuou) with a nervous expression.
"(Karasu), you are really an idiot!"
(Kasuou) laughed while gazing at Shiika.
"I've already heard from (Kabuto)! (Fuyuhotaru) can't control her power right?! During the recapture mission on Christmas, even though it was her own (Mushi), she desperately tried to stop it from attacking (MinMin) and other members."
Shiika's expression was shaken.
"Even if she were to use her power here, who you think would die first eh? At least I wouldn't get killed that easily!"
Upon hearing that, Shiika turned around to look at Yuu. Yuu was stunned.
"(Karasu), do you understand now? She has the 360 degree all range destruction type ability just like (Ladybird)! But unlike (Ladybird), she doesn't have the stamina and combat experience to place herself into effective positions! Her own existence is just like a nuke. Can't you see that "Use with Caution" warning written on her cheeks?"
Ubuki widened her eyes and looked at Yuu.
--- I-It's...my fault?...
Ubuki then shifted her gazed away from the freezing still Yuu, and faced (Kasuou) with a wry smile.
"Using cute words such as “cheeks”... (Kasuou)-tan you still haven’t gotten over your old habits huh?"
"Just thinking about the fact that I won't have to see that face of yours anymore, makes me feel joy from the bottom of my heart!"
"Shiika-tan, can you please go ahead first?"
A raven dragonfly flew onto Ubuki's shoulder. Its form then began to change, releasing tentacles towards Ubuki's entire body. The long coat became two pairs of wings as the goggles changed into a pair of compound eyes. Black patterns then appeared on Ubuki's cheeks.
"Take that little one along with you as well!"
"Oi oi, did you think I would say "See ya~" and let you go just like this?!"
"Why won't you just let them go? Honor-student (Kasuou)-tan?"
"…What exactly are you thinking, (Karasu)? If (Fuyuhotaru) runs away, you won't get anything good out of it either."
"Hurry up and go, Shiika-tan! If this continues, more reinforcement may come!"
Yuu noticed sweat begin to drip down Ubuki's cheeks as she faced (Karasu). Although she maintained a smile on the exterior, Yuu knew that Ubuki was already overwhelmed by (Kasuou)'s presence.
"We can't be caught here...!"
Shiika bit her lips.
"Let's go, Yuu-chan!"
Shiika grabbed Yuu's hand, and turned her back facing Ubuki.
"But, Ubuki-san she---"
"Didn't I say I won't let you get away!"
"Why won't you just let them go?!"
Ubuki instantly accelerated, and used her body to knock away the claw that formed above Shiika and Yuu.
The claw that was deviated from its original track, narrowly missed Shiika and stabbed into the ground.
The cement road was immediately cracked open, and the fissures on the ground extended toward both Shiika and Yuu's feet.
Shiika grabbed onto Yuu's hand at the nick of time, preventing her from falling into the fissures.
Due to the strong impact, the surrounding buildings were also affected by the destruction. Yuu instantly became dumbfounded after seeing (Kasuou)'s astonishing strength.
Just then, more black-mist was released from (Kasuou). A part of the mist rapidly expended and flew straight at Yuu and Shiika. The mist then condensed into giant claw in the midair.
However Ubuki, whose wings vibrated in high speed, cut in between the two.
"Completely ignoring me? (Kasuou)-tan is really heartless huh!"
Two tentacles appeared from behind Ubuki's back, grabbed onto a fragment of a wood plank nearby and threw it at (Kasuou).
The wood plank was effortlessly reflected by the shield of mist as a furious expression appeared onto (Kasuou)'s face.
"Weaklings should just go and die!"
Giant claws appeared one after another in the midair; Ubuki continued to narrowly dodge them.
Pulled by Shiika, Yuu began to run as well.
"…You guys have to wait for me okay?..."
Amidst the sound of destruction, Yuu seemed to have heard the hoarse whisper of Ubuki that was almost inaudible.
Thank you for reading~
Feel free to leave comments for any questions or feedback~
And so, Merry Christmas once again~
Artist : ~ 冬の流萤 ~
Have a happy holiday!