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Chapter 1: Mock Battle / Classmate / Commission
After classes, it was time for mock battles at the training arena. This time, one group consisted of freshmen, particularly the two who had, upon beginning school, been immediately been drafted into “Selections”, a representative group directly under the command of the student council, and had also met the Savages head-on – Hayato Kisaragi and Emile Crossfode.
On the other hand, their opponents had already participated in ten mock battles in the past month, racking up ten wins in all – Fritz Granz and Latia Saint-Émilion.
This round was a battle everyone would be paying close attention to. It wasn’t just freshmen – upperclassmen had also come to the spectating area, their eyes fixed on the four standing in the center of the battle zone, already clad in their Variable Suits and wearing their Vital Rings.
“Suit up, we want to see what members of Selections can do.” Though Latia’s Hundred was of a relatively simpler make, she’d already finished activating hers. In her hands were armaments resembling brass knuckles, and on her feet were two whip-like weapons. Evidently her suit’s primary strength was close combat.
Fritz, who was standing near the wall, also had a standard-issue Hundred. In his right hand was a pulse rifle that had been upgraded into a long-ranged sniper weapon, able to fire extremely strong laser pulses. Reloading and aiming took time, and the rifle’s weight also affected mobility, which was why the armor he was in also seemed especially thick. Hayato was able to take this all in and understand each Hundred’s particular traits, thanks to a month of Slayer courses since he’d arrived on Little Garden, where he had learned all sorts of things about their world, Savages, and Hundreds.
“We’re looking forward to this. We haven’t had the chance to do any mock battles with members of Selections, so we wanted to see what your levels were at.”
“Absolutely,” said Latia, following on from Fritz. “Even if we won – no, even if we lost, we might be able to enter Selections as well, let alone have our own custom Hundreds made. We won’t go easy on you.” For these two, it seemed that this battle would be a test to see if they were able to enter Selections too.
“Gotcha,” Emile yelled as she threw her red Variable Stone above her. “We’ll pull out all our stops too then. Hundred, activate!”
The Variable stone shone with azure streams of light, and nanoparticles scattered into the air, smothering Emile’s body and forming into a multitude of floating objects. Hers was a Divine-type Hundred, one with the ability to create any weapon the user wanted, based on the user’s knowledge and power: the “Arms Shroud”.
“Hayato, activate your suit as well!”
Hayato, under Emile’s urging, gripped the red Variable Stone in his hand, and also yelled, “Hundred, activate!”
The Variable stone, too, scattered into infinitesimal particles in a red burst of light, and on his arm appeared an armor-like jet-black piece of armament; the massive blade that then came into his grip completed his Hundred, the “Flying Swallow”. It is worth noting that Hayato’s and Emile’s Hundreds, unlike Fritz’s and Latia’s, were custom-made models.
“Looks like we’re ready. Let’s begin.” Latia looked as if she couldn’t wait to start, bouncing up and down as if to warm herself up.
“Could I hear the rules first?” Emile asked.
Hayato was about to ask the same. Although he’d already dueled the president one-on-one a matter of days after he’d started school, this was his first time facing multiple people, and he was as yet unfamiliar with the rules.
“Mock battles are things we set up ourselves, so there aren’t really any rules, but… right, I guess the rules are the same as those for duels.”
Hayato offered his own question to the pair. “Are there multiple-person duels as well?”
“Yup, there can be battles consisting of three or more people per group. The main difference between those and one-on-one duels is that they’re usually best-of-three. One format counts a loss when someone on one team is unable to fight, and another format is a defensive battle involving flag capturing. But we probably shouldn’t try either of those this time.”
“So, in other words, I could choose either one of those two. Which one do you wanna try, Latia?”
“How about the knockout format, where an incapacitation means a loss? Seems like the default format for this kind of battle.”
Fritz seemed to agree. “I don’t mind, how about you two?” he asked Emile and Hayato.
“I’m okay with that. How about you, Hayato?”
“If you’re all set on that, I don’t have any problems with it, I guess…”
“What’s up? You don’t seem too keen.”
“I was just thinking, we’re really getting into this, aren’t we?”
“I mean, Latia’s already made clear that they’re going all out. Plus, with so many people watching, we’ve gotta treat this like a real duel, you know. To be honest, ever since the last skirmish, I haven’t had the chance to get my body moving, so I’m really hyped for this.”
Hayato sighed. “Gotcha, I’ll give it my best too then.” He wondered if an unauthorized mock battle would make the President mad, but they were already knee-deep in it, so it was too late anyways.
I was thinking Emile had gotten a little more level-headed lately. Guess it’s just same old, same old for her… Emile had been pretty touchy ever since they’d started school. Though she’d said that it was so she could look a little manlier and prevent people from suspecting she might be a girl, Hayato personally thought that in general, Slayers tended to live on short fuses. Even Latia had a little of it in her.
In either case, thus were the rules of the mock battle laid down. The time limit was fifteen minutes – a knockout or a forfeit meant an instant loss. The match was to be umpired by a freshman who lived in the same dorm, Alphonse Lemoine. Although he had a portly figure and a gentle personality, which was quite unlike most Slayers, he owned a rare so-called Beastmaster-type Hundred that could turn stone into animal-like automatons, ready to fight at his command.
“Are you four ready?” The baritone voice of Alphonse, who stood in the center of the battle zone, reverberated across the training arena. He took in the nods of all four that signaled they were ready, and, having raised an arm to the ceiling, threw the arm down.
As the voice disappeared, a burst of Sense Energy exploded near Latia’s feet.
“Hayato! I’ve seen how strong your Hundred is from that fight with the Prez. I’m going in with a preemptive strike!”
Hayato managed to dodge the fist that had come flying in, but the danger had yet to subside. A powerful surge of light sped towards him, coming from the barrel of Fritz’s pulse rifle.
Latia’s first blow had turned out to be a feint. “Sorry, but here’s what I’m coming at you with!”
Hayato hurriedly threw his E-barrier up to block the laser, but was still thrown back by its sheer force.
“Hayato! You okay?!”
“Now’s not the time to be looking away!” Latia launched a kick in the direction of Emile, who was still looking at Hayato.
“…Hngh!” It was hasty, but Emile managed to bring up an arm to block the blow. She had her Arms Shroud intercept Latia’s flurry of punches and kicks, and dodged them with ease.
“You’re pretty fast, but—” Emile, who had been defending herself, abruptly went on the offensive. In a split second, two of Arms Shroud’s pieces moved behind Latia, and morphed into floating cannons, spitting twin laser bolts at her.
“Wha—” Latia, having not expected an attack from behind, took the hits squarely in the back, and sprawled onto the floor.
“God damn it… Didn’t expect that move…” She hadn’t put her E-barrier up in time, and may have had taken significant damage. Tears began to pool in the corners of her eyes, but without warning, she suddenly got up, and fiercely punched the ground.
The wind pressure spun the sand upwards, obscuring Emile’s vision, and preventing her from locking on her target, thus taking her cannons out of the fight. That would be Latia’s strategy for the time being.
“Let me pay you back with this move!”
Latia’s fist came flying out of the dust, but her punch landed on nothing.
Emile, who had turned away and scrambled about a meter away from her, had her hands pressed onto the ground. When the dust cleared, Hayato’s eyes fell on the silhouette of Emile, clutching a long spear.
“Isn’t your Hundred supposed to be Dragoon-type…?” Latia, who couldn’t hide her shock, had never seen Emile fight, and thus had never realized that her Hundred was able to shapeshift. In fact, it might be reasonable to think that no such Hundred even existed in the first place.
“My Hundred is custom-made. This should be enough to handle you, Latia.” Emile primed her spear and thrusted forward.
Latia jumped to avoid the attack – at least, that’s what appeared to have happened. Instead, her legs knotted themselves around the spear, and she used her leverage to lift Emile’s body upwards. Emile, who lost her balance, collapsed onto the floor.
“That hurts, damn it… as expected of a close-combat Hundred user, you sure are agile.”
“Hehe, I’m actually pretty good against spear users, you know.”
“Emile, you okay?” Hayato asked through the Vital Ring.
“Yup, just fell down is all.” Emile picked herself up and retrieved the fallen spear.
Latia, hands on hips, looked back at them, a big grin plastered on her face. “Well? You see how good we are yet?”
“I totally get it, but we’re still not gonna lose,” Emile muttered to Hayato over the Vital Ring. “I’m sure you know, but the long-ranged Hundred can’t fire while it’s recharging. You should go after Fritz when that happens.”
“All yours, then.” Emile and Hayato split up. Fritz had taken another shot from his rifle again. The time to attack was upon them.
Hayato accelerated to dodge the shot, yet just when he’d thought it’d be a good chance to hit Fritz, a second shot came surging towards him.
Wait, why…?! Come to think of it, these two shots looked shorter when compared to the initial attack, as if they were normal bullets. Maybe the power of the first charged shot had been split into multiple parts, to allow for consecutive firing.
Fritz squeezed out a third and fourth shot towards the inbound Hayato. Hayato dodged left and right, then went straight for Fritz.
It’s not quite like the first fight, but this distance should do!
He raised his Flying Swallow and prepared to bring it down upon Fritz. Just then, Latia’s voice came.
“You’re not getting it all your way, Hayato!”
That voice sounded as if it had come from farther away than Fritz’s charged shots, so it should have been yelled at him from some distance. And yet… “Ow!”
A sharp pain throbbing on the back of Hayato’s head threw him forward. “Owww… the hell was that?!”
He got up and turned to look at Latia, who had something roaring away on her knuckles, and a tornado coiled around her waving right arm.
“How’d you like that? Close combat has its limits, so I learned this move – it makes tornadoes, just like this!”
With another wave of her right hand, Latia sent another vortex spinning towards Hayato. Hayato reasoned that, this being wind, which traveled in a straight line, he could simply move to the side. However, Fritz’s rifle’s sensor was tracking the position to which he was retreating.
Hayato spun away from the laser, but found himself with his back to the wall of the battle zone. Given the current situation, with Latia’s tornado and Fritz’s laser both hurtling towards him, the only way left was up.
And up was a dangerous place, as he’d learned from his fight with the President.
What do I do?
As he was struggling with himself, Latia summoned another tornado in her right hand, ready to unleash more vortices.
“Let me handle you with this!” This time it was Emile making the moves. “I’m not letting you at Hayato!”
“Hmph, looks like I’ve been caught out!”
“’Course you have!”
Latia, vortex in hand, shifted targets, and Emile, using her Sense Energy to leap high into the air, diving downwards with the point of her spear. Latia darted backwards, and the spear burrowed deeply into the ground. As Emile began to pull the spear out, Latia took the chance to jump up and launch a spinning kick.
“Hngh!” Emile tugged the spear free and used it as a shield to block the kick, and pressed forwards with her arm, pushing Latia away. Latia lost balance, but somersaulted backwards to maintain her footing.
Emile thrusted forwards a second time.
“What?!” It was impossible, even for Latia, to dodge a blow that came the moment she landed. She immediately went on the defensive, throwing up her E-barrier, and yet the spear still pierced through, knocking her onto the floor. Then, just like when she had fought Liddy Steinberg, Little Garden’s student council vice-president, she morphed the head of the spear into the barrel of a cannon.
“Let’s count this as your loss.”
“Like hell I’d let you!” Fritz yelled as he prepped another laser shot. The pulse rifle in his hand was stretched in Emile’s direction, ready to fire at a moment’s notice.
“Got it!” Hayato saw what Emile was doing, and sped towards Fritz. Then, he saw Fritz shifting his aim away from Emile. Though it was hurried, he managed to aim his barrel squarely towards Hayato.
So fast?! Hayato thought. Yet, the attack from Fritz didn’t come.
Could it be that it hasn’t finished recharging?
This was his chance.
Using Flying Swallow’s energy, he lifted the Hundred high above his head, and brought it crashing down. The force was strong enough to swat Fritz away, throwing him onto the ground.
“Wha…” Fritz had taken some of the blow with his rifle, yet he couldn’t counter with any ease at all – his features were contorted in agony, and his limbs shook with such pain that they looked as if they would drop at any moment.
“How’s that? I can hold my own with the E-barrier…”
“I’m not done yet!”
Hayato pushed down even harder, and Fritz was forced back. Maybe he could knock Fritz away if he kept at it… and yet, just as the thought crossed Hayato’s mind, a blinding light flashed into view.
Fritz aimed the energy-laden light at the chink in Hayato’s left-side armor.
“Sorry, Hayato. Mutually assured destruction.”
“You put a cannon there too?”
“If I didn’t do that, I’d have no way of beating you. I had to hide it as a last resort.”
A smile tugged at the corner of Fritz’s mouth as he fired two laser beams from his left hand.
The world in front of Hayato went white.
His heart thumped loudly.
He’d already encountered this condition twice before. Once during the fight with the President, once during the fight with the Trenta Savages. Both times, he’d felt as if his life were in danger, and his Variant abilities had been triggered. This… was exactly like those times.
His body began to heat up, and his consciousness started to float away. Hayato hung on, gritting his teeth as he forced himself to stay awake.
No problem. I can carry on!
He’d controlled the condition once. He’d been doing control training with Emile after school for the past month. Hayato had heard that this was key to keeping his Variant abilities in check.
Now was time to test the results of that training.
“Uooooooohh!!” Hayato roared as his armor began to transform. Not only was he able to stay conscious, he could feel a well of power pouring out from deep inside his body.
The armor spread to cover his entire body, and the Flying Swallow in his hand doubled in size. With a lateral flick of the weapon, Fritz was sent flying into the wall of the arena. The armor disengaged from Fritz’s body upon impact, and he crumpled onto the floor. A red Variable Stone fell with him – that was Fritz’s Hundred, which a moment ago had still been the thick armor-plate coating his body, and the huge rifle in the grip of his hand.
“Fritz, are you okay?!” Latia, seeing the state he was in, rushed over to his side worriedly.
“I’m okay… what about you though? Even if I’m out, the contest still isn’t over…” Fritz lifted a trembling hand and stuck out his thumb, smiling at her. But it was obvious to see he was forcing it, and that wounded her deeply.
“Don’t be stupid.” Latia raised both her arms. “We surrender.”
Alphonse ran over from the refereeing podium, waving his arms in the air.
“That’s your lot! It’s Hayato Kisaragi’s and Emile Crossfode’s win!”
Hayato breathed a sigh of relief and shook off his armor, heading to where Latia was propping up Fritz with her shoulder.
“I’m sorry, once I get into that state, I just can’t control my own power…” Hayato felt he needed to apologize. After all, it seemed like overkill for just a mock battle.
“It’s all good, we told you to come at us with all you had anyway. Plus, you only went into that full-body armor because you were pushed to your limit, weren’t you?”
“That’s exactly it.”
Fritz reached for Hayato’s extended hand, but his body simply was in too much pain, and his lower body gave way.
“Don’t overdo it, I’ll take you to the infirmary.”
“Sorry about that,” Fritz smiled in reply.
“Don’t be sorry, we’re partners. Least I could do.”
“Need any help?” Emile asked as she watched Latia attempt to hold the wobbling Fritz up.
“I’m good on my own. Though that loss really blows. I guess we’re still far from getting into Selections, huh…”
“I wouldn’t say that, actually.”
“…You really think so?”
“Yeah, if you had custom-made Hundreds, you would be even stronger. Seems like we can’t let our guard down, can we?”
“I feel more confident now that you’ve said that.” Hayato’s words brought a sanguine smile to Latia’s face.
The two of them saw Latia and Fritz away from the training arena and towards the infirmary.
“I guess we should get changed, too.”
Just as Hayato had nodded his agreement, two girls suddenly approached him.
“Good work out there!”
It was the two girls who had almost been expelled from Little Garden by the President. The long-haired one was a Liberian-born girl from the Empire of Yamato, Noa Sheldon, and the short-haired one was from the Empire of China, Liu Xiumei. Ever since that incident, the two had been on speaking terms with Hayato.
“Congrats on winning that fight,” Noa said.
“You took Granz-san’s shot, are you okay?” Xuemei added.
“Yeah, I’m fine… As you can see, I’m not hurt.”
“That’s great! As expected of you, Kisaragi-san.”
The two of them looked at each other and nodded.
“Actually, we had something we wanted to ask of you, Kisaragi-san…”
“We’re able to successfully activate our Hundreds, but we still aren’t able to funnel energy into it,” Xuemei said.
Noa added, “I’m a Chevalier-type that wields rapiers, and Liu’s a Phalanx-type spear user. Like you, Kisaragi-san, we’re close-combat types.”
“So, we were wondering if you could teach us a few techniques, Kisaragi-san, since you’re a similar type to us… please?”
As Xuemei and Noa leaned closer to Hayato, imploring him, a set of heavy footsteps walked by. It was Alphonse, who’d just been refereeing their battle.
“Hey, Hayato, if you’re giving them training, help me out too.”
Pattering behind Alphonse as it came to a stop at his heel was what looked like an android dog. In reality, that was his Beastmaster-type Hundred… though it didn’t look too fit for battle at the moment.
“I really don’t get this Hundred at all…” Even so, his ability to coach Noa on her Chevalier-type and Liu on her Phalanx-type was something else entirely.
Even if I can use a Hundred, I’m still not at the point where I can start coaching…
Also starting in the same month were operating courses for their Hundreds. Here, Warslan-affiliated instructors, Slayers or Selections members would teach Hundred operation methods, as well as practical uses for them in battle. For Slayer students, this was the subject that mattered, as well as the one they looked forward to the most. In fact, amongst the freshmen, only twenty percent of them could perfectly operate a Hundred on their first try, and another thirty percent could only activate their weapons; the remaining fifty percent were simply stuck with being unable to grasp the core basics of the Hundred. The two girls in front of Hayato were part of that fifty percent. Which, of course, was why they had come to Hayato Kisaragi, the most outstanding, high-affinity freshman in history, the one who had activated his Hundred and his E-barrier with swift ease, who had fought the President to a stalemate, who had been accepted into Selections and had exterminated a Trenta Savage.
Yet, Hayato had no idea how he would go about coaching them. Emile’s methods definitely wouldn’t work on them.
Rather than her teaching me, I feel like it was more her just telling me to give everything a go and see how it went…
In the one month that had passed, Hayato could already feel the difference between him and the other freshmen. Something these two girls couldn’t grasp in half a month, he had already managed to understand in ten minutes. It still wasn’t clear whether this was merely Hayato’s talent, or a fortunate consequence of his Variant abilities.
Hmm, what should I do…?
He looked to Emile in frustration, only to find her also surrounded by female classmates, asking for her help as well. Some of them had become fans of Emile following the previous battle, and some of them were Hundred enthusiasts; regardless, they peppered her with questions.
Their eyes met.
“Hayato,” Emile called. “Let’s teach everyone here how to use Hundreds.”
“I apologize for interrupting your parade, but that won’t be possible.”
Emile’s suggestion had whipped everyone up into a frenzy, but a voice from the training ground immediately followed, and a girl, dressed in a special blue uniform, made her way towards Hayato at the center of the battle zone. It was an upperclassman with short hair and half-rimmed red glasses – one of Little Garden’s student council vice-presidents, Erica Candle.
“Hayato Kisaragi, Claire-sama is looking for you. Please follow me to the student council room.”
“She wishes to speak to you about a Selections mission.”
This was the first time he’d been called like that since joining Selections.
“Only Hayato?” Emile grumbled. Her attitude seemed to suggest that she should tag along too, since she was also a member of Selections.
Erica cut her off. “She only wants to see Hayato. Let me take you to the student council room. Please follow me.” It seemed as if current events or pleas for postponement wouldn’t dissuade her.
“Sorry, it’s all you now.” Hayato left the training to Emile, stripped down his Variable Suit in the changing room, put on his uniform, and followed Erica to the student council room.
“Claire-sama, I’ve brought Hayato Kisaragi.”
Erica knocked on the door labeled with the student council sign, and Claire’s voice echoed from within.
Hayato stepped in together with Erica.
“Seems like you were causing a scene.”
The wide chamber was completely matted with red carpet, furnished with an ornate desk and chair. Sat on the chair was a girl donning a special red uniform: the student council president, “Queen” Claire Harvey, whose eyes were fixed on Hayato.
“Um, I’m… sorry about that.” He instantly realized that this was all due to his mock battle with Latia and the others.
“If we had had to set out now, your Sense Energy would have been insufficient, and would have posed a problem. Although you are a freshman, you are also a member of Selections, and if you do not take care to consider this and avoid any unnecessary combat, that would trouble me greatly.”
“Huh, coming from you, Claire-sama…” pipped a voice coming from a young boy standing behind Claire, tablet in hand. From the uniform, it seemed as if he was a middle-year student. The boy in question turned out to be Claire’s aide, Chris Steinbelt.
“Quiet, Chris. E-even though we in the student council were mistaken previously, it was still the fault of that rabid dog, Emile Crossfode.”
“Whatever his intent was, let’s put that on ice for the moment. We have serious things to be discussing here.”
“I-I suppose so.” Upon hearing Chris’ words, Claire cleared her throat and started over. “Let us get into the main topic. Next week, this ship will be stopping at the Zwei Islands. You are aware of that, I presume?”
“Ah, yes…” Thanks to Little Garden’s Slayers, the Zwei Islands had been saved from the clutches of the Savages. The Zwei Islands government had made contact through the Warslan Corporation with the command of Little Garden – in other words, the student council – and had wished to offer their gratitude. The student council had responded in kind, and had decided to pay a visit to the governor of the Zwei Islands, and so Little Garden was now due to make a stop at Westland, the western unit of the Zwei Islands.
The Slayer students had been talking about this, too. The ship would be anchored for four days in total, and citizens could come and go as they pleased. Since the days happened to be Friday, a holiday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, which was also a holiday, this effectively meant a four-day long weekend. People had already been talking about where to go at breakfast that morning – after all, the freshmen had been there for a month, so they could finally have a breath of fresh air somewhere other than Little Garden. Although the standard of living here wasn’t bad, nor was it boring in any sense, going somewhere else was still something to be cheerful about. The whole ship was thus filled with a vacation-like air.
“On the last day of the long weekend, Monday, Sakura Kirishima is having a concert on the Zwei Islands.”
“Sakura Kirishima’s the pop star who held a concert during the last battle on the Zwei Islands, right?” Erica chipped in.
“The event was held up that time, so it seems as if it’s happening again.” According to Erica, Sakura Kirishima’s concert had been interrupted by the attack, but they still hadn’t managed to refund the concertgoers. When a reporter had asked Sakura what she would do about that, she had replied, “I’d like to hold an outdoor concert to console them, and pray for the rebuilding of the Zwei Islands.” Sakura Kirishima’s idea was as follows: people who had tickets for the previous concert would be allowed to go in first, and Zwei Islands’ citizens would be able to attend free of charge. Of course, refunds would be given to those who couldn’t attend this event, and all ticket sale proceeds would be donated towards rebuilding the Zwei Islands – a charity concert, according to Sakura Kirishima.
Little Garden’s activities and holidays all followed the calendar of the United States of Liberia, and Monday was Liberia’s Remembrance Day. Mourning the infantry and Slayers who had been killed in action against Savages, as well as the fact that it too was a holiday on the Zwei Islands, was the reason why Sakura had decided to hold it on that day.
“So, we at Little Garden have been tasked with security for the duration of the event. But another troubling issue has surfaced.”
“Another troubling issue?”
“For some reason, the guest, Sakura Kirishima, has requested that you, Hayato Kisaragi, become her personal escort – in other words, her bodyguard.”
“Requested? But why me?”
“We’ve put forward an inquiry, but have yet to receive a clear response on that.”
“Hayato-sama’s personal information has not been disclosed, and yet somehow they’ve managed to obtain it. If I were to hazard a guess, it would be that she and Hayato-sama are both from the Empire of Yamato. But you wouldn’t happen to know her, would you?” Chris asked.
“Right, I don’t know her at all,” Hayato responded. He had no memory of her. In fact, he had no idea she existed until now.
“If so, then perhaps since Hayato-sama’s performance in the last battle was so outstanding, and his compatibility tests during his entering this school were so high, word somehow managed to filter through. Another reason could be that there still are Savages left on the Zwei Islands.”
“Savages? What do you mean?”
“Allow me to explain,” Claire said to Hayato as she took over from Chris. “Actually, during the last battle, the number of Savages that fell from space amounted to seven.”
“Of course, Warslan’s space fleet and the Francois Republic’s army took down four of the seven before they landed.” Which meant that, in the last battle, Hayato and the rest had faced the remaining three.
“And yet, of the four intercepted Savages, only one husk was found – meaning that the other three might still be lurking somewhere,” Erica concluded.
Claire added, more tersely, “Although their landing sites are situated in the sea and are thus hard to track, we cannot afford to drop our guard. Which is why Little Garden was asked to handle security.”
“So, I was basically chosen because they wanted someone who could protect Sakura Kirishima if a Savage showed up?”
“That’s the most likely reason,” Erica replied. “Plus, LiZA has cleared you for the job. The company has strongly requested that Little Garden’s Slayers and Selections take care of security for the concert, not just for returning to the island or for the concert’s meet-and-greet. So,” Claire continued, “having said that, Hayato Kisaragi, I hope you’ll accept this mission.”
“What if I refuse?”
“You’re a member of Selections, but you’re a student, first and foremost. It may be inconvenient, but we will simply have to convince the company to ask the guest to name someone else. We will not force you.”
“Is that right…”
“Yes. Can you do it, Hayato Kisaragi?”
Hayato considered his choice carefully. This was the first time he’d been given an actual mission since he’d joined Selections. Though this made him somewhat uneasy, the fact that he’d been named personally made him want to give it a proper go. Besides, it wasn’t as if he had to go and fight Savages, and if LiZA, the core of Little Garden, had given him the green light, then he couldn’t afford to look weak.
“…I can. Please let me take this job.”
“An excellent answer. Don’t just work hard at it, make sure there are no mistakes. Or that would be troubling.” Claire smiled at Hayato’s willingness. She seemed quite pleased.
“Then I will contact you with further details over the next few days. It might spoil your holiday, but we will offer you compensation. Unless you would like something else? If you have something else in mind, I will take it into consideration.”
“Then could I ask for something, President? Although I’m not sure if it would be possible.”
“…What would that be?”
“Well, for Sakura Kirishima’s concert…”
After Hayato left the student council room, he sent a message to Emile, telling her he would be going straight to the clinic, and left the school gates alone. He had something urgent to tell his sister Karen, who was still hospitalized.
“Eh? Can I really go and see Sakura-san’s concert?!”
After Hayato told Karen the news, she practically leapt out of her sheets. Hayato’s face was now so close to his sister’s, it was as if they were lovers, and he couldn’t help but pull away a little.
“I’ve already gotten the nurse, Miharu-san’s, permission, and I’ve asked the President to help leave us VIP seats for the concert.” Since the stadium, the venue for the old concert, had been destroyed, this concert would be held on a simple stage at the original location, meaning that instead of seats being installed, the entire event would be standing-only. Normally, this meant that Karen, who couldn’t stand for prolonged periods of time, would be unable to go. Which was exactly why, though Hayato knew it was an unreasonable request, he asked if Claire could arrange a location for wheelchair users to enjoy the show.
“I understand. We’ll see what we can do for your sister. Chris, could you help me contact Sakura Kirishima’s manager?” Soon, Chris was on the phone with Sakura Kirishima’s agency, and they actually managed to help Hayato prepare a space for wheelchair users to see the stage.
“Thank you, Nii-san. Ever since I came to Little Garden, it’s been one good thing after another.”
Karen giggled as she hugged Hayato’s neck. “The golden drill… I mean, the President is such a nice person.”
Hearing that, Hayato remembered how Karen still had a grudge on the President for sending him into the hospital, and smiled bitterly.
“By the way, you’re obviously coming with me to see Sakura-san’s concert, right, Nii-san? We should prepare for that then. Let me think, Sakura-san’s most popular song is…”
“Sorry, I can’t go,” Hayato said to Karen, who had just reached for the tablet next to the bed, and was about to play Sakura Kirishima’s music.
“Huh? How come? I thought I’d be able to go with you, Nii-san…” Karen’s eyes fell.
Quietly, Hayato told her about the first mission he would take since he joined Selections.
“Ehhhh, you’re becoming Sakura-san’s bodyguard?!”
“Oi, you’re too loud! What if people outside heard that?”
“Sorry, I was just so surprised… Please give me a few moments to calm down.”
Karen took in several deep breaths, and, still appearing flustered, leaned towards Hayato and said, “By personal escort, you mean you’ll be next to Sakura-san, and you’ll be able to talk to her, right?”
“That should be it…” Otherwise he wouldn’t be able to fulfill the role of personal escort, or rather, the role of bodyguard.
Karen’s eyes gleamed upon hearing Hayato’s answer. “Then, I’d like you to do something, Nii-san…”
And a week after that finally came the first day of the long weekend – the day of Hayato Kisaragi’s first Selections mission.