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Full Metal Panic! - Volume 10 - Chapter 2


Chapter 2: On the Way to a Journey 
 
 
An electrical engineer named Mitchel Danpierre, a married person with a three year service in Renault, was attending an International Automobile Trade Fair in the expo center along Moscow River. He was accompanied is his wife on their honeymoon. They were completely disillusioned by the manner of reception of the Russians. Having trouble soothing the displeasure of his new wife, he was a man who thought of quickly getting back to his home country and enjoying the gourmet and wine of Paris. 
At that time, that was the appearance of Lemon. 
“fuah...” 
Sitting in one corner of the terminal in Sheremetyevo Airport, Lemon was having an unlucky day and was pulling his hair. 
“It’s such an unlucky day” the woman sitting beside him on the bench who appeared to be his wife, Wraith, said.  
Although they were unsociable words, the expression and gesture were sweet, gentle. She brushed gently the nape of Lemon’s neck, bringing her lips to Lemon’s ear. If it was to be seen by the surrounding travelers it would look like she was whispering words of love. 
She was a brunet in a dress with a calm Paisley design and was elegantly wearing a simple beige cardigan. She had a high nose, sharp chin, and deep grey eyes; no matter how you looked she did not look like an oriental person. It was because she spent about 10 or more minutes every morning for such a disguise. If she were to be serious, she could become any person that no one would recognize. 
With the pleasant tone of Lemon’s dear wife, this partner whispered. 
 “Well, this is an unlucky day. I haven’t slept in these five days. I pretend to be a tourist by day, and at night I infiltrate the libraries of Moscow” Lemon replied. 
“The one investigating the archives was me.” 
“I helped a little. But the Russian language is outside of my specialty.” 
They were investigating through the request of Mithril’s Teletha Testarossa, investigating the Russian Archives and Science articles. Roughly 18 years ago there were traces of experiments inside the Russian territory. In order to investigate documents not in electronic form, they had to travel to Moscow by foot. 
“In the first place this is my first time in Moscow. For you this is probably like your courtyard right?” 
“I lived her for a period” Wraith answered. 
“Studying abroad? Or Lumumba College?” 
“I have no obligation to answer.” 
“Ah, is that so?” 
Lemon had already vaguely observed that Wraith was a former agent of North Korea. It was already known that Lumumba College accepted students from third world communist countries. Under the pretext of studying abroad there were people who threw them into a “spy school” from another agency. That was well known to Lemon and the people of the intelligence network. 
Lemon still did not know the woman’s real name. Even his “Lemon” was an alias, so he had no reason to complain- out of interest he had asked her during the midst of their travels. She had said, “you have a Japanese friend, that is why I will not tell you”. He didn’t know the meaning of that, so he asked a question, but somehow her face turned red face and was displeased. 
She was beautiful without makeup, and had culture. And compared to the intellectual spy Lemon, her abilities were superior. She might have been a woman that he would like, but unfortunately in those five days of being a married couple there was not even a single chance for them to have personal interactions. 
There was a happy result. At the end of the troublesome two nights in the Science Academy, Wraith had discovered a name of a place in an entry of the targeted document.  They had made it known to the Tuatha de Danaan via satellite circuit. What was left was for them to get away. 
There was still time before their boarding time. Lemon stood up. 
“Where are you going?” 
“I’m a little hungry. I’m going to buy something. You?” 
“I don’t need anything. Do what you...no.” 
Wraith thought a little. 
“How about some chocolate, please. It would be good if it was Hershey’s.” 
“What’s that? You’re going to make bombs from chocolate?” 
“No. I want to eat some.” 
“Hohou. A spy of Mithril that hushes when crying does have a cute taste.” 
“Shut up. Just hurry.” 
Gently whispering the curses, she gave him a kiss on his cheek. They didn’t know how far they were going to play- no, all of it was just an act. Lemon shrugged his shoulders, and headed to a shop in the corner of the terminal. 
He got two pirozhki and a volvic, and bought some suitable chocolate. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Hershey’s. Paying with the left over rouble, the clerk, with an accent of a middle age girl, asked in 
English if “he has dollars”. In truth he had dollars but he said “no” and put out the rouble, with a conspicuous face. 
After the transaction and leaving the shop, a disaster occurred near the entrance of the terminal. There were a number of people in suits, asking questions from the airport’s official. That manner, that arrogant attitude, a glint of the eye ready to shoot— those were public safety officials. They were showing a picture to the officials and asking something. 
The official who saw the picture pointed to a corner of the lobby. The direction of the bench where Lemon was sitting a while ago. 
This is bad. 
That was what was felt immediately. As far as Lemon could recall, he didn’t remember committing any mistakes that would trace their lineage and merit the Russian authorities to pursue them. Even then, there was still no indication of that. But observing that state, the one they were searching for was- 
“It seems that they need something from us” Wraith muttered. She was standing right behind him, unnoticed.  
Making a surprised sound she grabbed Lemon by the back of the neck and hid behind the decorative plant just in the blind spot of the men at the entrance. She had noticed the existence of the public safety officials earlier than Lemon, and secretly moved to his location. 
“That’s how it is. I don’t know how they managed to sense us.” 
In the first place the only ones who knew about Lemon and her being there would be Teletha Testarossa and Gavin Hunter. 
“Well, what now?” 
“That’s right.... No matter how we go about, it seems it won’t change the fact that we will receive severe treatment. That-” 
“We run as far as we can run.” 
Gripping the Lemon’s hands, she walked to a staff door in the corner of the terminal. 
The door was locked. Hiding behind Lemon’s body, Wraith picked the lock. It was just a cylinder lock, and only took her five seconds. The guests and personnel didn’t even notice. 
“It’s open.” 
“Good job.” 
Wraith slid through the door first. After confirming that nobody in the terminal had notice them, Lemon followed. 
They proceeded with a short walk down the personnel passage. They went down stairs, hiding in the shadows of the maintenance tools and avoiding the personnel. Not remembering the broad sketch, they would resign themselves to where they could escape from the terminal building. 
“Do you have any knowledge?” Wraith whispered, hiding in the small storage. 
“About what?” 
“This situation. There was someone who leaked about us. It couldn’t possibly be Hunter.” 
“I wonder about that. I don’t think that Testarossa girl would make a blunder like this.” 
Before managing to speak Wraith grabbed his chest, and pointed a sharp object to his throat. It was a hidden reinforced plastic knife. 
“If that’s the case, I can’t think of a cause other than you.” 
“Hey hey.....” 
“Did you report to someone from DGSE? No, for you to be attached to DGSE in the first place is doubtful. In any case, I should kill you here and run away to safety.” 
“I see.” 
Lemon failed in expressing his composed smile. With the pain of a pointed object eating into his skin, it distorted his face. 
“Then, I guess it’s my end. There is no way for me to prove my innocence. There’s no lawyer or jury. And a decision of death penalty in one hearing, it’s the same enforcement. In the civilization of your native country, for someone like you who is recently married it must be an usual thing.” 
Wraith’s eyes expressed a silent anger. However, just then Lemon was much angrier. 
You stupid woman. Doubting your ally in a situation like this. Before you threaten a person, you should cooperate and think of a way to escape. And subsequently, having spent the past few days together, awake, are you really not concerned about me at all? She has no interest in this handsome, gentlemanly, intelligent and sexy me! 
This woman, could she be a lesbian? 
“It seems that you’re angry.” 
“Aah, I’m really angry. You so quickly want to perform the death penalty. Let me tell you one thing, I know your secret.” 
“What did you say?” 
“Yesterday, just to kill time, I searched the net for Korean female names. Being blessed as a linguistic genius that I am, I noticed it within an hour. Your real name. Your family name is probably ‘Kim’. In kanji it can be inscribed as ‘Gold’. You’re name ‘Yun’ probably has the meaning of beauty right? See I thought so. It shows on your face. It seems that it is inscribed as ‘ball’ in Kanji. ‘Yunhi’ which is ‘ball’ and ‘girl’, that’s your name, right? In other words, if you write your full name in Kanji, to a Japanese person it would bring inevitable laughter-” 
{TL note: Lemon was implying that Wraith’s name, when spoken in Japanese is “Kin Tama Hime”, which means “Testicle Princess”} 
“Stop it....” 
“Well, kill me already. Why don’t you send me to hell like you said?” 
Wraith applied force in her arms. With her face flushed, the reason for it was not only anger. She wanted to stab the knife into his throat with vigor, but she reconsidered immediately, and made an unpleasant sigh. 
“How stupid. I quit.” 
“Then you should be like this from the start.” Lemon murmured with rough breath as he fixed his tousled shirt. 
Wraith took out her small note book with a sketch of the airport in it and scrutinizing for an escape plan. 
“If you go underground, there would be a pipeline that gives provision to fuel and sewage. If we go along that we can get out of the terminal building.” 
“That’s splendid. But is there no other way of saying it?” 
“What?” 
“‘Sorry’ or ‘Pardon’” 
“Shut up.” 
Telling him bluntly, Wraith hurried first. Running on the crude stairs used by personnel, they headed for the materials passage underground. It was a damp and humid place. The indications in the passageway and guide map were in Russian, which was difficult to read due to the long passage of years. 
“There.” 
Inside the slim passage, Wraith raced to the hatch. The hatch was locked with a chain and padlock. From the top floor, considerably far away, were several footsteps. The voice of an officer shouted “hurry (dawai), hurry (dawai)”. Those traces were the characteristics of men who had received training. There was also the sound of wild breaths- those were probably police dogs. 
It was only a matter of time before they found that place. 
“This is bad. They brought dogs.” 
“I know. ....It’s open.” 
The lock opened and the chains untied, the two of them opened the heavy hatch. For a woman to open the hatch alone would have been impossible. 
“See, you couldn’t have run away alone. It’s good that I’m alive, right?” 
“But it’s finished. I’m going to kill a sticky and persistent man.” 
“wha...” 
“It’s a joke. Let’s go.” 
Wraith hastily went down the hatch. Lemon followed after. Cutting the silver paper from the chocolate that was bought in the shop before, she put it in between the closed hatch. 
“What are you doing?” 
“Buying us some time.” 
When the pursuer found the hatch, they would notice that silver paper, and would be careful thinking that it was some kind of trap. 
“We’ll be caught up to if you’re slow. Hurry.” 
“I’m hurrying.” 
It was gloomy in the underground passage, the different sizes of pipes and cables occupied the majority of the space. They must not have had any good maintenance. There was water leaking from the pipes forming a haze, and the irritating odor of the jet fuel got in their noses. 
They walked for three minutes. Without a satisfactory field of vision Wraith’s back was steadily going far off. Guessing by the number of steps they had taken, they should have already moved 
500 meters. In their position, they had calculated that it was already outside the terminal building— 
“Let’s get outside.” 
With one directional decision by Wraith, they quickly went up some nearby stairs. She did not break a sweat. On the other hand, Lemon was already exhausted. Just like jogging, he thought it would be easy to cross the distance, but because of the extreme mental tension he was quickly out of breath. 
They went up a number of floors in a dancing path, and unlocked the locked door at the end. Coming out of the door, there was a small conk- 
It was a small room. There were machines used for guidance and disaster prevention supplies everywhere, and a number of colored cones. 
Getting out of the small room, in front of their eyes was the guidance path of the international flight. Blue guidance lights were blinking in the twilight. Just 100 meters ahead a giant passenger plane passed by with a tremendous roar. 
Behind them there was a fence to outside the airport. 
Lemon was overpowered by the intensity of the Jumbo plane, and Wraith pulled his arm. 
“What are you doing? Hurry!” 
Walking out in haste, they could see the jumbo plane on the far away guidance path suddenly braking. It was a quick stop ordered by the control tower. And then, from beyond, from the direction of the terminal building, a number of vehicles with turning lights could be seen. They planned to chase over to them. 
“Dammit.” 
They had been sniffed out after all. The stalling was considerably ineffective. 
They might be overdoing it already- there was an exit, but there might be no significance anymore, so they should stop. Even with her running forward, she already knew about it. 
The fence they were heading towards would be difficult to climb over. Even if she were to step over his shoulder, she might not be able to get away. Having that kind of appearance, he couldn’t do what he wanted to- suddenly Wraith turned to a halt. 
“What’s-” 
Before he spoke he noticed. Something was rising in the small bank of the fence in front of them. Since it was dark the bank was hidden and couldn’t be seen well. The shape of a single man appeared. 
Still young. A juvenile. 
His silver hair lingered in the night wind. He wore a red coat. It was a heavy, dark, blood-like red. 
The light of the guidance bulb illuminated the profile of the youth. He had slim and well featured contours and his slit eyes shone like they were wet. In an instant, Lemon had mistaken him for a woman. 
It seemed that Wraith recognize the opponent. With a voice close to a shivering, she muttered intermittently. 
“Leonard.....Testarossa....?” 
Why is it you? Why in a place like this? What is happening? 
Although that was what her heart was muttering, Lemon also understood just by picking up her hand. The youth was Leonard Testarossa. He was a leader of Amalgam whose life or death had been unknown. He was also the brother of Teletha Testarossa. 
“It’s been a long time. Ms. Agent of Mithril” Leonard said. 
 
 
 
With one step, and another step he appeared in front of them. With graceful features, he expressed a smile that looked like eating a man. No, that was a much more poisonous smile. He could see through just about anything- thrusting away everything in the world and looking on- 
“I also came to Moscow for some minor business. You were careful about that document. It’s because you were investigating something very interesting, and I incidentally heard the details. And then had the local public safety authorities look you up.” 
It was not a leak. They don’t know how he knew, but the one who had sniffed them out was that man. 
On his forehead was a large scar. 
Although it was elegantly under the curl of his forelock, the length of the wound stood out. It was like a sealed third eye. 
“Did you bring enough company?” 
“Un....I secretly brought them along, it was because you guys got away. I estimated it, so I anticipated you here.” 
“Move away from there.” Wraith said, Leonard only shook his shoulders and let out a single breath of “ha”. 
“What would you do if I don’t move? Will you come at me with that hidden knife of yours?” 
“.......” 
Wraith suddenly couldn’t move. Probably because, from experience, she knew she was no match for him. She whispered to Lemon. 
“What was that?” 
“I’ll make good your escape and let your comrades know.” 
The car that had already come out of the terminal building immediately drew close. They don’t know whether they were KGB or not, but they were brimming with spirit going over there to make arrests. 
They didn’t have a second’s delay. 
“Wait, I can’t possibly do that--” 
“Do it.” 
Saying it, Wraith charged forward. 
He didn’t knowing whether that desperate strategy was popular. In defiance of the barbed wire, it was unknown if a single person could climb over that high fence. And then, running away with a woman as a shield, as expected it was unknown if that was allowable. 
But there was no time to hesitate. 
Lemon smacked his lips and thrust forward, running towards the fence at full speed. In one hand, she took out the said knife, and drew it toward the enemy with a lethal thrust. 
“!” 
By no means was her attack weak. And of course it was neither magic nor sleight of hand. Leonard’s movement was quite small. The knife’s point was purposely strayed, in the next instant her body was vigorously rotated in the air. With only one hand raising the wrist, held lying face down, Wraith raised a muffled voice. 
“Don’t mind me, go!” she called, with Lemon continuing to run.  
The fence was right in front of him. He ran upwards. Suddenly the strength of his right leg fell out. There was a scorching pain running up his thigh, with the sound of a gunshot resounding in the neighborhood at the same time. 
Leonard, holding Wraith down, with his empty left hand took out a pistol and shot. He had accurately aimed at the running leg of Lemon. 
“.....!” 
Lemon fell down just like that, with his head colliding with the fence. He recklessly grabbed the wire mesh, somehow standing, but his right foot was not moving. He dropped like a log. 
“Lemon...uh!” 
Wraith let out an anguished voice and the joints of her arm twisted. 
“You guys, even now seem to misunderstand something.” Leonard said, whispering in Wraith’s ear. “You know about my sister right? Surely her head is so-so, but her athletics are completely weak that she doesn’t even know how to use a gun. Her image is…” 
“...let go....” 
“You must think I’m also like that. Then that would be unexpected. ....really unexpected.” 
Leonard put weight on the upper part of her body and a shivering sound reached Lemon’s ears. The joints of her shoulder was dislocated. 
“Ah...Aaaaah!!” 
The first time her girly like voice came out was caused by agony. She wanted to put her fist into that man, but her body would not listen. 
“What an unexpected voice. It’s sexy.” 
Saying that, Leonard gently chewed on her ear, slowly licking her cheek with his tongue. 
Then a dazzling brightness of headlights came over them. Security cars arrived and the footsteps of public safety people with submachine gun in hand could be heard. 
“What are you doing here?” The officer shouted in accented English. Not at Lemon, but towards the direction of Leonard. He replied to the officer in fluent Russian. 
“As you can see. I’m capturing them alive.” 
“I told you to leave everything here to me didn’t I? Stop doing as you wish, hand those two over. You also throw away your weapons.” 
“Hmm. Why is that?” 
“You are a suspect of injury and unlawful trespass. Come with us.” 
Not knowing what the details were, it seemed that their relationship with Leonard was not in friendship. 
“I see. A change of mind, huh? I could imagine who would suggest that.” 
“Restrain them! Kill them if they resists!” the officer ordered his subordinates in Russian.  
The ten closest people came out with weapons in hand. No matter how many shots they took, in front of that number of muzzles resistance was not possible. From the runway, two armored cars drew close. But Leonard did not lose his presence of mind. He shrugged his shoulders and sighed. 
“Really.” 
The distance between Leonard and the officer was about ten meters. In the middle of it there was a distorted, large quantity of blue and white phosphoresce scattering about. The AS, rendered invisible by the ECS, forced its way through them. 
It was a unit never before seen. 
Black armor. Acute angle form. A reassuring smart direction, a silhouette of a reverse triangle. It resembled those types called Codarls. That AS had a slight variation. It was not a simple weapon or industrial good, but something more demonic. 
“Y...you bastard....! Where did you....” 
Wraith was beginning to let go, Leonard drew out his right hand quickly. Similar to his movements, the black AS moved its right arm forward. 
“Enough. Disappear.” 
Like a conductor of an orchestra, he elegantly swung his protruded right hand downward. The black AS turned its right arm 
towards the men below it. Sliding the lower arm, exposing the internal cannon- 
Discharge. 
More than firing, it was close to an explosion. 
The car was also pulverized in a single blow of the high caliber cannon, and the impact on the ground spanned a few meters. In one second close to ten shots were fired. The officers did not even have time to scream, they were literally erased. 
“...........” 
The vehicles they were riding on were blown away, exploding, blazing. The flying small fragments of the concrete landed on Lemon. The echoing shots and explosions become strange in his ears. 
Like a voice laughing at someone from somewhere. 
The one laughing was Leonard. 
His silhouette was illuminated by the flaming explosions. His big shoulders shook and he was covering his face with a single hand. Although it was being endured, it was the laughing voice of a person who was getting nauseated. There was no particle of madness in his tone of voice. Like a laughter on an unseen play during baseball or soccer. Just then, he murdered ten men. 
The black AS turned its face, extending its hands to the ground. Glancing at the shuddering Lemon, Leonard jumped to the chest of the unit with dexterity, and sunk into the cockpit at the hatch located on the back of the head. 
The two vehicles attacked. The projecting cannons in the turrets were like unreliable peashooters. 
The AS fired. The armored vehicle split in half, sliding on the pavement, engulfed in flames. He continued to shoot at the other vehicle. It burned up in flames. 
“What a mess....” he finally said.  
Such a battle had unfolded in Moscow and even at the airport; that was not the state of sanity. 
“Lemon!” Wraith called.  
Protecting her unmovable right arm, she somehow managed to get up. The fence situated some distance away from them, had one side fallen. The fragments of the vehicle that was blown off struck the fence and fell down. 
With her free left arm, she was beckoning. Like she was saying, “Now, let’s get away using that hole”. 
He looked down at his own right leg. His pants were soaked in blood and attached to his thigh. His foot was numb and his ankle was in pain. He was thankful that the nerves were still connected, but to run away would be impossible. Maybe it was the fault of the bleeding, but he couldn’t keep his consciousness clear. 
Lemon shook his short neck, with just a gaze it told her, “I can’t. You get away”. For one to two seconds there was a hesitation in her facial expression, but she immediately reconsidered. Making a slight nod, she ran to the hole in the fence. 
Even thought there was pain each time she breathed, Wraith’s movements were nimble. She crossed the bank through the hole in the fence and her form disappeared in the middle of the darkness. 
Leonard’s black AS ran into the AS of the security- fighting with two blue-coated RK-92 Savages. Bringing up the transparent gravitational field he repelled the attacks of the Savages. It was that Lambda Driver. Previously, Lemon knew that Sousuke’s Laevatein had made use of it in Mexico. That was the first time that he had seen it that close. 
Counter fire. At once the two units were destroyed. 
The airport was a sea of fire. The building and passenger plane had received the flowing bullets, the destroyed vehicles were lying about, burning, and the faltering sound of an alarm resounded. 
The black AS turned its head and stepped to the fainted Lemon, grabbing him violently. 
“Uh.....” 
“One person is not enough. Where is she?” 
It was Leonard’s voice from the exterior speakers. The head sensors scanned the circumference of the airport. Even with hiding in the thicket, Wraith would be discovered with the infra-red sensor. 
However, it seems that there was no reaction. 
“Oh well. Let’s go.” 
Grabbing Lemon with one arm, the AS started to ascend. 
It flew to the skies, like a helicopter or something. There was no jet engine or lift fan. It was not even using the gravitational field as far as Lemon could tell. The unit silently rose to an altitude of 100 meters, accelerating at high speed towards the western direction. 
The wind was cold, the wound was hot. 
He didn’t know how Wraith had managed to elude Leonard’s eyes. 
With a dislocated shoulder, she couldn’t possibly get away. She might still be on the bank- 
Seems to be dead 
In the corner of Lemon’s dizzying consciousness, he thought of the profile of the girl whom he would never meet again. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
Sousuke was also accompanying the particular “investigation” that Tessa was talking about. The target place was ruins Far East in Russian Territory. 
The two Pave Mare transport helicopters mostly flew continuously for 40 hours. 
It was 40 hours. 
A long travel time was unavoidable. After taking off from the de Danaan in the Atlantic Ocean they would cross North America and cut across the Pacific Ocean via Alaska, flying to get to the Magadan in the Far East, traveling a semi-circle across the world. If it were a winged transport they would cut the travel distance by one third, but they had to travel by helicopter in order to transfer the two ASes as bodyguards- the Laevatein and an M9. 
The current Mithril had no convenience relay base or transport network. In the past, for the transport of ASes over that kind of long distance, they would disassemble and load them in a transport, and then reassemble them at a nearby secret location. That was how they did it. 
But that time was different. They were in a state of maintaining the detailed supply route. 
Even then, from Sousuke’s perspective, he thought that the long journey would be a good converter for Tessa. 
However even inside she would not stop working. She stared at the screen of her notebook PC, reading something, driving into something, instructing the AI of de Danaan far away, and having a serious discussion over the satellite circuit. 
She didn’t seem to sleep. 
The worried crew of the helicopter suggested that she take a rest, Tessa meekly obeyed and was covered with a blanket in her seat. But both her eyes were open, reflecting in the windows. In the deep darkness outside, she was staring absentmindedly. 
Sousuke really didn’t know what should be done. 
He tried talking to her a number of times. If he were to be worried about her health, she would smile and reply with “I’m fine”, if he asked something about work, she would politely answer the details. However, that was all. She would shake off any other topic. Gently looking his way, she would just say “is there anything else?” with an indirect expression. And Sousuke would say “....thanks”. 
Furthermore, Sousuke had nothing to talk to her about. 
The last supply point of the flight route, a cargo ship called Bernie Worell, was cruising along the Bering Sea in the Kamchatka Peninsula. 
On the outside it looked like a container ship registered with Liberia, but scattered here and there were the previous essential base members of Merida Island, obtaining with difficulty a disguised supply ship. If the containers were withdrawn, five large helicopters could land at the same time. 
The two Pave Mares, who flew all the way from the Atlantic Ocean, landed. The pilot said they would “make inspections before refueling” since after that there would be around 2000 kilometers of round trip flight. While invading Russian territory they had to always keep the ECS on. It was also reasonable for the prudence of the pilots. 
It would take at least an hour for them to check the helicopter, so Sousuke decided to go outside and do light exercises. If he were to cover the three sides of the 300 meter length container ship it would be a little jogging. Among the ship’s members that he passed by, mixed in were faces he recognized as those from his time on Merida Island. Every time he met them he would stop and chat. 
Eventually he stopped on the side of the ship. Leaning on the rail near the pontoon bridge, he stared at the sea. 
It was early morning. That area of ocean was usually rough, but that day’s waves were strangely calm. The light of the rising sun on the east horizon let out a dazzling shine on the reflecting waves. The cold of the refreshing sea breeze was comforting. 
“The checking will still take some time” Kurz finally came and said.  
He had been riding on the other Pave Mare. The M9 loaded over there was his unit. That time only two units were on their mission; Mao and Clouseau were in another place carrying out another mission. 
“I don’t know ‘some time’. How many minutes?” 
“Dunno? Some time is some time. Hey- nice view.” 
Kurz let out a sound of admiration of the scenery from the deck. Looking at that profile, Sousuke remembered a physical discomfort. Something, face being slick....strangely existing... 
“What. Staring like that…” 
“No...” 
Speaking of which, it had also been unnatural before their departure. There were many things being discussed about the ASes for Mao and Clouseau, but Mao and Kurz hadn’t been speaking to each other. Like an atmosphere of suddenly being distantly cold. 
“Did you have a quarrel?” 
“With who?” 
“With Mao.” 
“uh....” 
That was another strange reply. Why would Kurz make his words short? He looked over, looked down, and looked at the bridge behind him. 
“Why do you think that?” 
“You seem to have a different mood than usual.” 
Clouseau particularly did not notice. Even the others. But Sousuke was sensitive to the slightest change of atmosphere between the two. 
“Well, it’s not strange that you’ve noticed....” 
“So what happened?” 
“N-no. It’s not like we quarreled. What’s with the worried face? Stop it, it’s really nothing.” 
“Then that’s good.” 
It wasn’t that he didn’t want to know anymore, but if the person himself didn’t want to say it, Sousuke wouldn’t question him. However, Kurz changed his mind. Since he was grumbling to himself, he somehow decided to say it himself. 
“Un. I guess, it’s not. I’ll only tell you.” 
“Huh?” 
With an attending face, Kurz brought down a meek face. 
“Hey Sousuke. You’re a genius at not being able to read the atmosphere.” 
“Is that so?” 
“That’s right. That is why, if ever, for whatever reason, this secret is leaked out, it would be risky. I’m going to face that risk and speak my mind. Why you say, because we are the strongest trio. No, strongest would be too much, anyway a good trio. That’s why I can’t hide anything from you. First you have to understand this.” 
“I don’t quite comprehend, but I understand.” 
“‘I don’t quite comprehend’ is not necessary.” 
“I understand.” 
“Alright. Don’t tell this to anymore. Absolutely.” 
“I understand.” 
Moment by moment Sousuke nodded. It seemed to be an important matter, and he was becoming tense by hearing it. Did Mao have some kind of sickness? 
Were her relatives mass murdered? Did she witness an extremely rare UMA (Unidentified Mysterious Animal) during a mission? 
“....well, actually...” 
He cleared his throat with an “ahem”. Kurz was moving his fingers restlessly. It was such a great secret. Sousuke was also tensed to his shoulders. 
“That-, well. Actually....” 
“Actually?” 
“Actually...the day before...that, I slept with Mao.” 
“Is that so? Then?” 
Sousuke bent forward, with Kurz knitting his brow. 
“Then..... that’s it.” 
“Huh?” 
“Aren’t you surprised?” 
“About what?” 
“No, I mean I slept with her. That’s what I’m talking about.” 
This time Sousuke knit his brow. 
“I really don’t get it. What about sleeping with her?” 
“Slept. This is bad isn’t it...?” 
“While on a mission, you mean both of you dozed off?” 
“No, I’m not talking about that kind of sleep. Ah-, that’s right.... you don’t understand. You’re....you’re....” 
Kurz hung his head with both hands scratching his blond hair, grumbling about something. Mixed with German, Japanese and English, what he was saying was not understandable. 
“Whatever it is, explain it so I could understand easily.” 
In Sousuke’s manner of speaking, Kurz finally shouted in despair. 
“It’s SEX, SEX!” 
That voice echoed to the vicinity, then immediately the form of Tessa appeared coming out from the pontoon bridge nearby, mostly at the same time. 
“...........” 
Tessa stood still, frozen with her eyes round. Kurz and Sousuke were also stiff. It looked like she had borrowed the shower onboard. She was in a loose field uniform and a bath towel was hanging from her head. 
“Ah....well....” 
Kurz’s eyes were swimming in the air, finding words. As expected, Sousuke, who finally understood the meaning, was in confusion at the appearance of Tessa. He was not saying anything and a cold sweat was pouring down his back. 
“A, um... I seem to be interrupting.” 
Tessa was embarrassed and turned around. 
“No, your mistaken, Tessa.” 
“That’s right, Captain. We were talking about how many pounds of explosives it would require to sink this ship-” 
“You shut up.” 
“In other words we’re talking about Semtex. Plastic Explosives.” 
“That’s right, Semtex, Semtex....that’s what you heard right!” 
With the exchanges of Sousuke and Kurz behind her, Tessa hurriedly headed back and returned to the pontoon bridge. Did it damage the mood or dumbfound them, or was it both? Anyhow it was an awkward instant. 
“Aah~....” 
Kurz hung his head, heartbroken. 
“Don’t worry, Kurz. She won’t tell that to Mao.” 
“That’s not the problem. I’m just thinking of the severe punishment.” 
“It can’t be help if you regret that past. Let’s go back to what we were talking about.” 
Then, with a tired face, Kurz waved his hand. 
“You understand now? That kind of relationship.” 
“Is that so?” 
“...you’re not really surprised.” 
“No, I’m surprised.” 
He observed the sullen face of Sousuke narrowly and rudely. 
“Doesn’t look like it.” 
“When talking about these things, I don’t know what kind of expression I should show.” 
“You’re the same as usual....” 
“Um” 
“A lot has happened with Kaname, I thought I had progressed a little.” 
“...........” 
Remembering the face of Kaname, he suddenly felt a tightening in his chest. 
He had not been able to gather any news relating to her. He thought about leaving his friends and trying to search for her alone, but he didn’t know where to begin. At that time he shouldn’t be thinking of unnecessary things, to fight Amalgam with his colleagues would be the best. Kalinin was with the enemy right in front of them. In the same direction, there was no mistake that she was also there. 
“This is really sudden.” 
“No problem. Then, when will the ceremony be?” 
“Ha?” 
“The wedding ceremony. Committing such adultery you should be able to take responsibility, right? Since Mao has a high salary, 100 heads of cheep might not be enough.” 
“You’re thinking too much....” 
“You’re not going to get married?” 
“Nope....I really don’t know. Well, I also don’t seem to feel like playing around. Also the day before we departed-, I was summoned after the briefing.....” 
“Fm” 
Sousuke also remembered that. When the briefing was over and dismissed, Mao called Kurz with a cold voice. Like “Your report still has imperfections” or “Are you still not yet finished with the ammunition expenditure”. With a serious appearance she started a drawn out lecture complaining about the issue. Sousuke and the others thought “he’s going to get scolded again”. Not minding it, they had got out of the room. 
“....if there’s no one around, she would say ‘be careful’, wrapping her arms around my neck and kissing me. It was such a rush. Then, secretly by the storage next door, we do it. She says that we can’t do it in a place like that, but there was great excitement in a situation like that.” 
“.......” 
Sousuke mysteriously thought. From before, why did he feel a killing intent for his partner....? It was a feeling different from jealousy. Whatever it was called, it was close to a feeling like if he was hungry and somebody was eating extravagant cuisine to their relish. 
Aah. This is what they call “irritated”. 
“But-, the words ‘I love you’ were never said. It was not said no matter what. Do you know what this means?” 
“It means that there is no love, right?” 
“Hey…” 
“In the first place, I’m the wrong person to talk to.” 
“....Well, that’s right. But I don’t have any other person to talk to. And Mao said absolutely not to tell this to anyone.” 
“You told me.” 
“You’re different. Mao also acknowledges you.” 
“Why only me?” 
“I told you before right? We are partners. Among the team-” 
“There is nothing to hide.” 
“That’s right.” 
Kurz popped his back, grabbing the back of his head shaking left to right. Without a strange or bad mood. 
Then, from beyond there was a sound of a rotor. Looking on, one helicopter was coming from the Southeast skies. It was an old UH-46. The tandem rotor of the transport helicopter slowly descended, dropping electric cables on the deck, and it landed beside the Pave Mares. 
Alighting together with the cargo from the container was someone recognizable. A small wide man with glasses. It was Gavin Hunter of the Intelligence Department. 
Hunter, recognizing the appearance of Sousuke, shouted with a big voice that would not lose to the exploding sound of the Turbo Shaft Engine. 
“Looks like we made it in time. There are presents for you from a pretty girl.” 
“Present?” 
“The ‘fairy’s feather’. It’s completed.” 
The crew of the helicopter all worked together and the unit that Hunter transported, the “fairy’s feather”, was installed on the shoulder of the Laevatein. They hurriedly connected it. Hunter, the one responsible for the manufacturing, was making technical exchanges with the sailors and crew, always coming and going between the deck and pontoon bridge. 
In that interval Hunter stood around and talked to Sousuke. The topic of conversation was not the aforementioned unit, but about Kalinin. 
“It’s certain that he shot me.” 
Revisiting his encounter, Hunter told the truth. 
“I was near death. But, I still don’t know if he had intended to kill me.” 
“If he were serious he would have shot you in the head?” 
“That’s right. But, it may be alright for him either way. Either for me to live, or to die.” 
“..........” 
He knew of the relationship between Sousuke and Kalinin. Hunter changed the topic. 
“Anyway, how is the Laevatein?” 
“Not bad.” 
Saying it, he added the memory of his reason for surviving. 
“I thank you.” 
Hunter laughed. 
“It seems you remembered your courtesy, boy. If you want gratitude, you should thank her.” 
He pointed at the girl. In the direction of the heliport, beside the electrical unit, she was talking with Tessa. Somebody he had never seen before. She was wearing an orange work suit with an olive flight jacket on top, with slightly reddish blonde hair flapping in the sea breeze. 
“She’s the noted doctor of Al. Do you remember Matt Shade?” 
“Aah” 
That man from April last year, before he had even met Chidori Kaname, was the Intelligence Department agent who was injured in Siberia. Although he had managed to take the girl out of the Research Facility of the KGB, he had died right before Sousuke rushed to the scene in an M9. 
“It’s the girl from that time. She’s recovered.” 
Sousuke lightly hit his chest, Hunter returned to his work. 
That time....? 
He didn’t recognize her immediately. The girl in his memory was more worn out, and not able to talk to people like that. With the influence of drugs it was dubious that she was able to walk with her own strength. 
The girl was talking with Tessa. Although it was like a casual conversation, there was something strange about those two. There was no hesitation in both of them like a first meeting would have. It felt like they had known each other from the past, that kind of atmosphere. Sousuke had seen it before. 
He immediately knew. Like the atmosphere between Kaname and Tessa. 
Tessa noticed the direction of his gaze first. Continuing on, the girl turned her head. Tessa made a small gesture with her hand, beckoning. Sousuke made a small run towards the both of them. 
“You called.” 
He informed with a posture standing at attention. Tessa said “relax” with a bitter smile. Sousuke took a relaxed posture, and Tessa introduced her. 
“This is Miss Sarah Miller. Miss Miller, this is… ” 
“I know.” 
The girl who was introduced as Miller smiled. 
“Mr. Sagara Sousuke. I was told about you before. Way before.” 
“....aah” 
Although the memory remained, the conversation from that time felt like it was from a previous life. It was only one and a half years ago, he had this strong feeling that there was a complete change into another person. 
Not Miller. 
Himself. 
Leaving the awkward start of conversation between Sousuke and Sarah, Tessa headed to the pontoon bridge, confirming a number of items with Hunter who was waiting. 
“I heard from Miss Miller about the performance of the ‘fairy’s feather’. Though there is no guarantee that all of it will work. It’s the usual. Also, there is no opportunity to use it this time.” 
“I don’t know. There is some bad news.” 
With only those words and tone, she could guess what Hunter was trying to say. 
“The explosion incident in the airport in Moscow?” 
“Yes. The presence of Mr. Lemon and Wraith was confirmed. Although 30 hours have already passed, there’s still been no communication from them.” 
“Is that so...” 
“The place that you will be going, there is a high sense of danger.” 
It was understood that Hunter was implying to “suspend it”. But she had no intention of backing out. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
The transport helicopter that carried Sousuke and the others took off from the cargo ship Bernie Worell and headed east in the Bering Sea. Although it was daytime, in order to activate the ECS, the scenery from the windows were dyed a purplish-sepia color. 
Because of the stupidity that had happened onboard, it was even more difficult to talk with Tessa. 
To bring up that matter then would be stupid, to say it- no, to be bothered by it in the first place was not the problem. 
“Can I have a moment?” 
He was startled by Tessa’s voice. The girl who was suddenly beside him without being noticed was peeking there from her seat. 
“Yes, Captain.” 
Even then he still refrained from calling her “Tessa”. More than the problem of affinity, it was an uncomfortable feeling. Having practiced in calling her by rank, it would be crazy to change that mood. 
“When are you going to get on the AS?” 
“30 minutes before descent.” 
“Then its way before that, right? Can I sit here?” 
“Please.” 
Taking away the books and documents from the next seat, he threw them in a suitable bag. After Tessa gave her gratitude, she sat down beside Sousuke. He knew that she was a short girl, but somehow she looked smaller than before. 
Sousuke waited for her to speak. 
For one minute, she was quiet and stared at the back of the seat in front of her. What exactly was she thinking? He could try to guess, but he couldn’t think of anything. 
“Are the injuries alright now?” 
“Huh?” 
“About you. In the city called Namsak, you got badly injured.” 
“Ah...yes. No problem.” 
“Is that so? That’s good.” 
With that Tessa sank into silence again. Perhaps, she did not know what should be said. Unable to bear the awkward silence, he started talking. 
“Captain. I apologize for what happened.” 
“About what?” 
“On the container ship, with Kurz...” 
Then her head made a small shake. 
“Aah. About that. Please don’t worry. When I first got on the de Danaan, knowing that there is somebody beside me, I spoke with a loud voice with people around. It was a modest harassment. But, it was something from the long past.” 
“Ha....” 
“But Sagara-san also talks about those things…” 
“You’re mistaken. That Kurz on his own-” 
“I know. It’s about Melissa, right?” 
Looking at a surprised Sousuke, Tessa raised a reserved smile. Even though she wanted to give a bigger expression, she thought that she did not have the qualifications to do so. 
“I heard it from her. She told only me. How I am to Melissa, must be the same as how you are to Weber-san” 
“I see.” 
“But even then, it was unexpected. Those two.” 
“Yes. I was also surprised.” 
“Well, I don’t really know how they got together. But Melissa seems to worry about it. The age difference, and not being unfaithful.” 
“Is that so?” 
Sousuke, mobilizing his power of imagination, was thinking about the image of those two “getting together”. But he couldn’t think of anything positive. 
“But, it might be unreasonable to have them in the same team” Sousuke said. 
Tessa, nodding, seemed to also have that expectation. 
“Can I hear your reason?” 
“I don’t mind valuing your comrades. But you cannot go too far. If necessary in a point number of seconds, it is Mao’s job to make the decision to abandon Kurz or me. I do not know how it will cloud that judgment.” 
“That’s right. If Melissa heard it she will be outraged.” 
“It’s not that I doubt her capabilities or impartiality. It’s just, if it were me-” 
Saying that much, Sousuke noticed. 
If it were an ordinary person it would have already been known long beforehand, for him it was at that time that he finally understood. 
Tessa herself once carried a complication with him. 
Getting close to Tessa because of her good will, in the end he could not cross that line. It was not because of his own cowardice that he did not return the words. Having noticed this obvious thing himself, he was utterly amazed. 
And then, knowing the difficulty in Tessa’s position, Sousuke suddenly thought. 
It would be good if there won’t be that much difficult thinking. 
Forgetting that it was his own problem, that’s how he felt. She was not strict. 
At the same time, that thinking also applied to himself. Even for Kurz and Mao, wasn’t it a difficult way of thinking? It 
was certain what he said himself- there was no difference in the capabilities of the team. If he were to be slow in making the decision by a point few seconds, there might be disastrous consequences. But, how do you say that? In the helicopter they were flying in right then, there was a point something percent ratio that a breakdown would occur and they would crash. 
If you were to enumerate an insignificant sound argument, that itself was insignificant- 
“What’s the matter?” 
Not noticing his meager progress, Tessa made a mysterious face. 
“No. What will be, will be.” 
“Huh?” 
Sousuke made a little exaggerated shrug of his shoulders. 
“We can’t take charge on how we will get sick. We should continue to cooperate like always, if something bad happens then we should think about it then.” 
“Sagara-san, that’s different from what you said before.” 
“Yes. I changed my mind.” 
“How strange...” 
“Is that so?” 
“Random words like ‘what will be, will be’, were something that you never used before.” 
“I see.” 
Saying that, it may be so. 
“What’s the appropriate issue?” 
“There might be a possibility of being dead. Please think more seriously.” 
“Hm...” 
He looked at Tessa’s eyes without any reserve. Aside from a little bewilderment, he could see nothing besides deep weariness and irritation. He felt pity about that. 
“I’m always serious. Even then, even now.” 
“Is that so?” 
“The issue is about you. You think to change the world. Exerting effort in elaborate thinking, making the impossible possible. Continuing to think seriously.” 
Tessa’s brow crumpled. 
“What do you want to say?” 
“I’m not making fun of you. Practically, you are a superior person of prodigy. What an average person like me cannot do no matter how hard I try can be easily done by you. With a stronger will than anyone. The situation is still harsh, but you will probably win.” 
“Of course that is my intention. That is why even now I’m-” 
“Exerting effort, planning, adding adjustments, fighting. That I already know.” Interrupting her words, Sousuke patiently continued, “It’s good to challenge fate. But no one can control fate. Can you control the weather or make an earthquake?” 
“If necessary I can think of it. If you can freely use the data and statistics, you can acquire its closest approximation effectively.” 
“That’s the problem.” 
“What about that isn’t good?” 
“You are not a god. You’re an imperfect and weak human. It’s natural to feel the responsibility of the lives of your subordinates, but to even control the fate of your subordinates, that is a misunderstanding. I’ve returned alive from a number of places I thought I’d die, I might die tomorrow tripping on a paved road. I’m telling you stop worrying about things like that.” 
“I don’t understand.” 
He grabbed her sleeves with the full force of his fingers. 
“No, you already knew. Whoever dies, you take the responsibility. Taking the punishment yourself. And then, vowing to take revenge on the enemy, you’re so obsessed with destroying the enemy that you are burning yourself out.” 
“That’s right. But, what do you do at the grave?” 
It was a difficult question that couldn’t be answered. 
It was the same for him. He blamed himself for many things. 
But Sousuke thought of an extreme lie. Hesitating, wondering if he should be saying it or not, he tried to answer back with an extreme reply. 
“Let’s stop this already.” 
“Eh?” 
“Disband Mithril. Sell off the de Danaan somewhere, and send everyone to a comfortable daily life using that money. It’s not like Amalgam would destroy the world. Ignore the conspiracies and have fun.” 
Tessa made a stunned face. 
“What about Kaname-san?” 
“It’s enough. I’m sorry for Chidori, but forget her. Then I’m going to request to date you. And then we could head to Guam, it would be alright for the loudness of Lt. Colonel Courtney and the others.” 
“SAGARA-SAN...” 
At the reprimand of Tessa, with a red face of anger, Sousuke calmly reacted. 
“It’s a joke” 
“Obviously!” 
“Wasn’t it interesting?” 
“Ee. Completely” 
“Is that so? It’s a hard thing, saying that joke.” 
Being the first recipient of the first joke of his life, it ended in a misfire. 
“Strange person.” 
“So to speak. But- the first bit, we should do it.” 
“Huh?” 
“If we finished what we have to do, that submarine and the ASes should be sold. And then everyone should enjoy life. I’m going back to school with Chidori to study. And then I’ll become an ordinary man. A man that does not need weapons.” 
Tessa was surprised, but Sousuke was even more surprised having those words coming out of his own mouth. 
“An ordinary....” 
“You, too, may someday become like that. A woman that does not need weapons.” 
“.........” 
“Even for the dead comrades, that is what they would wish for.” 
Tessa no longer refuted. Staring at her fingers situated just above her knees, she muttered without strength. 
“....that may be.” 
“Eeh” 
Making a deep sigh, she sunk into her seat. 
“Sagara-san. You’ve changed.” 
“Everyone does. Even you’re not unchanging.” 
Tessa did not answer. She lowered the tip of her cap, moving it to cover her eyes. 
“I’m somewhat tired. It’s Sagara-san’s fault” 
“Sorry.” 
 
From under the flight jacket placed on her knees, she took out her hand and held Sousuke’s hand. Although it was unseen from their surroundings, he was startled.  
 
 
 
The slender fingers gave a smooth and pleasant sensation. 
“I understand. But I forgive you,” Tessa whispered. “With only this. Only this is alright....” 
With that she fell silent. 
He waited for three minutes, but there was no reaction. Calling on her, she was already soundly asleep. 
“a man that does not need weapons” huh... 
Remembering his own words, Sousuke felt depressed. 
It would be good if that were to be true- but it was probably, impossible. He had already killed so many people. In the end, what he had told Tessa might have been just blind hope that he told himself. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
Oh well, it seems that you’re still alive. 
Lemon made a sigh of relief, looking absentmindedly at the fluorescent bulb on the short ceiling. It was unpleasantly cold. He was sleeping on a stretcher. Water dripped nearby. There was a feeling of tight bandages on his leg. He could see a somber white wall and a rack full of medical devices. 
It was a narrow room- no, it was inside of an ambulance. 
Along with the clatter and tremor, it was not bad. They were probably running along a paved road. 
In the corner of his vision he saw a person move. An unknown man. Noticing that Lemon had woken up, he brought his masked face nearer. 
“Does it hurt?” the man asked.  
It was with an apathetic voice, like looking at a patient. Lemon remembered the dentist attending him during the time when he was a student. “I’m shaving of the tartar, Jan. It’s painful 
but please bear it.” “Gari, gari, buchi! Doctor, I’m not Jan but Paul.” 
“I hate dentists....Aah!” 
Lemon shrieked when his injury was pressed. It was the gunshot wound that Leonard Testarossa made. He started to remember his own work as the pain passed through. The man checked his blood pressure and pulse, and pushed down the bottom eyelids of his right eye with a thumb, flashing a light. 
“Can you say your name?” 
“Where is this place?” 
“Say your name” 
“Say it or not. Where is this place?” 
“Hmph” 
The man lightly beat Lemon’s cheek, and then his field of vision disappeared.  There was the sound of the slide door opening and closing. It seemed that there was no one else inside the car. It was strange. Wasn’t the ambulance running? When the man left, nothing happened. 
Several minutes, no hours, passed. His muddy consciousness getting clearer, Lemon finally understood. 
He was inside a transport. 
He could hear the sound of the Turboprop engine. The ambulance must have been inside the storage room. After a few dozen minutes there was a big jolt and an impact that supported his interpretation. The inside of the car cluttered left and right, and the tremor went silent. That kind of state didn’t seem to have a good runway. 
The transport stopped. The sound of the hydraulic device opening and closing came from the rear of the unit. The engine of the ambulance started. The car was moving outside. After moving 
a little it stopped, the door opened. A strong white light gushed in; the piercing cold of the wind was blowing. 
“.....” 
Two men stepped in. Someone from the outside was shouting “wait a minute”. It was the voice of a girl. Young. 
“Are you going to abandon him!?” the girl asked.  
Wasn’t that a Japanese accent? An accent that was similar to that of Wraith or Sousuke. 
“On this cold mountain? You’re not going to kill him! I’m not kidding!” 
“But, we were ordered to let you ride this car.....” 
The man, who was taking care of Lemon earlier, answered with an insolent attitude. 
“I don’t need a nurse. Didn’t I say with only sleeping? My temperature went down!” 
“Telling us this suddenly would be trouble. If we were not to do as we’re told-” 
“Is there trouble?” 
A new voice. He heard footsteps trampling on the snow. He knew that voice. It was Leonard Testarossa. 
“Ah.....” 
The voice of the girl with authority was suddenly concealed. 
“It’s been a long time. Unexpectedly you seem to be doing well.” 
“Ah...you too, aren’t you doing fine being fatally injured.” 
“It’s because of you. It’s clearer now. In so sorry to have pulled you out like that after you just recovered....!” 
There was the sound of a slap, a small scream, and the sound of the girl on her knees in the snow. 
“W...what...” 
The girl had an appearance of not hiding her shock. Not because she was treated that way, but was surprise at Leonard’s violent handling. 
“It’s a greeting of change of plans. My strong patience is already lost. I’m already bored with my gentle face. So- this is important, and time is already running out.” 
“I...is that your true nature? You’re strange.” 
“Fine whatever. From now on we will....hey, close that.” 
After Leonard said that, one of the men banged the door shut. He was grateful the piercing cold wind was cut off, but he could no longer hear their conversation. With the obstruction of the engine sound and the bulky doors, he could only barely manage to hear the muffled voice. 
Leonard said something. She strongly protested. 
Leonard raised his voice. The girl mustered her courage, and somehow asserted her position. 
And then between them, a long gloomy exchange continued. Whether it was related to his fate, Lemon could vaguely discern.  He had not even seen her face yet. Who could that girl be? In the end, where was that place? 
Where would they be going from there? 
While he was repeating the questions without any answers, the door of the ambulance suddenly opened. The men stepped in and rudely grabbed his stretcher. Would they be taking him out like that? He was not even wearing many clothes. 
“Wait....” 
But that was the only resistance. The men were moving the stretcher back inside the ambulance. They fixed it onto the metal bed and went out of the car. After the nurse and a large built bodyguard-like man had entered, another girl went inside. 
The girl was the one disputing with Leonard and his subordinates. 
She was a beautiful oriental girl. 
She wore dark jeans and a red jacket. She had glossy black hair that reached her waist, and elegant eyebrows, like they were drawn by an impressionist painter. Looking at her smooth curves, he thought that the numerical value of the contour could be attributed to the Fields Medal. 
Unfortunately the color of her face was not good. It must be because she had just recently recovered, as was mentioned in the previous conversation. On top of that, her right cheek was red from the slap she had received. Essentially her big charming eyes were bloodshot; there were traces of tears in the corners of her eyes. 
The girl was sat down beside where Lemon was sleeping, and was repeatedly scrubbing the sleeves of her jacket over her mouth. Rubbing with strong force, she was not worried about her lips getting cut. 
“First let’s get the temperature-” 
“I don’t need your help.” 
Sweeping away the nurse’s hand, she settled on top of the seat. The ambulance started running again, and inside the car was a heavy silence. 
“Um....” 
Lemon raised a nervous voice. The girl did not respond. 
“Hello, young lady.” 
“Are you talking to me?” 
Finally realizing the existence of Lemon, the girl replied. 
“That’s my intention” 
“What do you want?” 
“Well....I really don’t know the circumstances, but I think you are the benefactor of my life?” 
“Not really. Before getting on to the other airplane they were going to throw you out into the snow, I only asked them to stop. I don’t know what kind of person you are, but it seems that they are finished with your interrogation.” 
So that’s how it is, Lemon comprehended. 
His consciousness was not clear since he woke up; it was because they had used truth serum. Without him knowing, they must have heard the necessary things. If they used the latest truth serum, no matter how strong your will was, resistance was futile. 
His own secret code or hidden house, even escape routes... Lemon was praying that Hunter and the others would hastily abandon them. No, they would be alright; the problem was the ruins that were investigated in Moscow. Although he didn’t remember anything, there was no mistake that he said those things himself. They might be heading to those ruins. 
Then, the ones in danger were Tessa and the others- without expressing his sense of impending crisis, Lemon told the girl. 
“In other words, you are the benefactor of my life. Thank you very much.” 
“That was just self satisfaction. I don’t even know you.” 
Bluntly saying, the girl turned away. 
“Then let’s get to know each other now. Michael Lemon. Nice to meet you.” 
He took out his left hand from under the blanket, seeking a hand shake. After Lemon introduced himself, the male nurse, who was looking, snorted. The girl sighed and gripped his blood-dried hand. 
“Yes yes, nice to meet you. Satisfied?” 
“I somehow understand. You’re Chidori Kaname, right?” 
“Eh?” 
The girl’s eyes turned round, and she took a long hard look at Lemon again. 
“You don’t need to hide it. I’m a friend of Sousuke.” 
Lemon heard about the girl, Chidori Kaname, from Sousuke. Although he hadn’t seen a photo, he knew her age and characteristics. He even knew about her being kidnapped by Leonard. Naturally he could guess. 
After hearing Sousuke’s name, she was again surprised. 
“You know Sousuke? He’s-” 
After saying that, Chidori Kaname remembered the existence of the observing men sitting nearby and shut her mouth. 
“Don’t mind us. We’re still in the palm of your hands.” 
Laughing sarcastically, the men made no reaction. 
“...is he alright?” 
“Aah, he’s lively. He’s going wild together with Al. He will definitely get you back.” 
Then, she could no longer bear it. Both her hands covered her face. With a little incomprehensible voice, she muttered some Japanese. “...YOKATTA (thank goodness)” could be heard. Lemon didn’t understand the meaning, but he could guess what that word was. 
That’s right, this girl- 
Raising her covered face, the shoulder of the girl trembled. Looking at her figure, Lemon could feel an unspoken pain. 
She must be a good girl. Also beautiful. 
Naturally energetic, cheerful, courageous, and empowering those who were around her. And also she loved Sousuke. 
Nami was like that. 
Isn’t this too harsh, Sousuke? 
No, don’t, don’t.... 
Inside his heart he felt the impulse of “this girl is also wounded”, Lemon blushed himself. 
That girl was not bad. That girl has no responsibility. Many things had happened after meeting Sousuke, it would be better to stop those words- 
After rethinking, he said with an overdoing cheerful voice, “I’m kinda jealous. Being loved like that.” 
“....un” 
Wiping the tears with her fingers, she lightly smiled. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
From the open circuit of the wireless radio of one of his subordinates, Kaname’s conversation was passed directly to him. They should have already known about that, they did not regret being overheard. 
His head hurt. 
With the carefree drama unfolding inside the car, he was not bored. He took off his ear phone, and hummed outside his mood. 
The Real Me by The Who. 
Can you see the real me preacher? Can you see the real me, doctor? Can you see the real me, mother? 
His head hurt. 
They were in the Tyva Republic, which was south of Siberia. The distance from Moscow was about 4000 kilometers. After transferring to a transport, he had come from Sri Lanka and joined up with Chidori Kaname. From then on, they headed towards the East. He thought of a troublesome Christmas present from 18 years ago. A thrown away wrapping paper. That person would also come. 
It couldn’t be helped that his head hurt. 
Essential information had already been taken from that man called Michael Lemon. Essential? 
Not necessarily essential. Reconfirming what was already known, that was just information to make sure that the progress went smoothly. What were they investigating in Moscow? In other words, pointing out what his sister had noticed. 
There was no longer any worth to the information of the man called Lemon. Which was why he had ordered to have him thrown out. But, being obedient to Chidori Kaname, he made use of that man’s life. 
The life of a complete stranger… how long did that girl plan to accompany him? Leonard remembered the taste of the sensation of her lips from a long time ago, and chuckled. What was she thinking with serious eyes, expecting to understand his sincerity, he could not believe it even then. How far would be gentlemanly? It was unexpectedly impossible. Then someday- No, that was absurd. It was enough. It was like that from the start. 
Aah, that’s right. 
That was the first time in his life that he hit a woman. He had been pushed to kill a resisting woman, but hitting one like that was a first time. 
Long ago, having lived one time in a poor section of Austin, he had seen prostitutes who were standing in the road. They were definitely following a pimp. The previous him had looked at those pimps. To do hanky panky with the clients, the prostitutes, who were resisting with dirty words, were beaten by the men. They would discipline the prostitutes with rough treatment, and then gently say “sorry for beating you, I love you, Baby”. 
He truly thought that it was an absurd process, but it had turned smoothly, that world. A world with only rubbish, base 
emotions, and impulse. A world that did not need intelligence. Wasn’t Chidori no different? Expecting that itself was absurd. 
She was the same. She was an animal after all. 
It was not because of disappointment. After recovering from the wound he had been enlightened on that night. He began to understand many things. Then even for himself, it would be alright to be associated with their style. In any case their world could not continue that long. To act without restraint, what inconvenience had it caused him? 
His headache would not go away no matter what. 
It was strange. He felt like he had forgotten something, and he could not remember it no matter what. He once had it, now he no longer had it. 
No need to worry, someone in his head said. No matter what you can remember, it’s already useless, it’s only excess baggage. A plane that does not plan to land wouldn’t need legs, right? 
You are already flying away. 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
After Wraith had gotten away with her life from the carnage at the airport, it was impossible for her to repair her dislocated shoulder on her own. Having no method of contacting Hunter, she was on the verge of losing consciousness with the pain and fever. 
In the end, she managed to get to an apartment five kilometers away from the airport and hid in a nearby garage, then fainted. For how many hours, she herself did not know. Probably, when she fainted the resident saw her and reported her to the 
authorities. When she woke up a number of policemen came into the garage, pointing their guns at her. 
She did not have the spare energy to resist and run away. 
She was taken into the custody of the local authorities. After understanding the extent of her injuries she was transferred to a nearby hospital for observation. 
With rough medical treatment her shoulder was realigned and she was prescribed unknown pain killers and sedatives. While she was completely exhausted in the hospital room a uniformed officer finally came. 
It was not the KGB that were chasing them at the airport, but the military intelligence department- an officer of the GRU. 
Would she be handed over to Leonard, or would she be executed? In any case she was already resigning herself for the end. The GRU officer spoke something unexpected. 
“I thought you were an excellent student. But it seems my expectations were different.” 
It was someone that she knew. He was around his 40’s with deep gray eyes, a bald head, and an impressive hook nose. From long ago, he was one of the instructors while she “studied abroad” in Moscow, a time when she was still a girl who believed in the justice of her fatherland. 
“Captain Kirilenko....” Wraith muttered. 
He pointed his finger to the insignia on his uniform. 
“I’m a Lt. Colonel now, Yunhi. If I had arrived three minutes later, you would have been inside the car of the KGB (Chekist) by now.” 
 
♦ ♦ ♦ 
 
Two kilometer before the objective point, in the mountain range from 800 meters altitude, Kurz’s M9 made the first descent. 
He operated the ECS and secured his sniping position, confirming that there were no threats in the surrounding. Nimbly following Kurz unit was Gebo 4, a Pave Mare transport helicopter. While flying about the objective point it scanned for the existence of danger with its sensors. In that moment Kurz continued to be a lookout if, by some chance, there was an enemy ambush 
After five minutes, Gebo 4 and Kurz informed that there were “no enemy sightings”. 
“That’s fine. Then let us head out as well” Tessa informed the pilot with the onboard phone.  
It had also reached the ears of Sousuke. Another Pave Mare, Gebo 6, was where Sousuke’s Laevatein and Tessa were riding. It leapt over the short mountain district. The image in the optic sensor of the helicopter was also transmitted into the cockpit of the Laevatein. 
It was a desolate scene. Like the end of the world. 
The ground was orange colored. The trees and shrubs had grown, but were being covered by the height of the grass. At that time it was barely autumn. That area would be trapped in deep snow soon. Practically, that neighborhood was visited by a fierce cold for the whole year. 
At the moment the local time was 16:32. In the mountain range to the west the red sun was sinking. No man made things could be seen in that direction. There were only the traces of road and power lines. 
In the ravine, a town could be seen. 
A town area which was constructed in the basin with a radius of three kilometer. 
A line of residential areas were built around the flat roof residence, in that direction a short building was sparsely built. There was a plaza in the center of the town, and a large bronze statue could be seen. When the helicopter got near, they knew it was a statue of Lenin. 
The name of that city was Yamsk 11. 
It was one of the “secret cities” constructed in the Russian Territory. Mainly for the sake of researching nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and other highly classified information, the research members and their families had migrated into that city. The name of that city did not exist on any map. Even the name Yamsk 11 was for convenience, it was a postal code for the administration of the neighboring major cities. The security was rigorous, it was forbidden to go in and out without permission. 
But the city at that time seemed to be in no need of security. It had been abandoned a long time ago, a town in ruin. 
No people could be seen. Dark red rust and ruins of rusted automobiles were left here and there in the road. Grass was growing in the cracks of the asphalt and collapsed road signs had moss growing on them. The dwelling places were also in terrible condition. If you looked closer the majority of them were broken. 
The walls had fallen in decay. Roofs opened with big holes. A house had been tossed like a press. Cracking from the weight of the winter snow, it was left there as is. 
Built in secrecy, abandoned in secrecy, that town was forgotten. 
In the database of Mithril, the name of that town did not exist. Just the other day Tessa had managed to get her hands on information about the town by the efforts of Lemon. 
Far from the enemy, that place didn’t seem to have been approached by normal humans for ten years. And it may have been meaningless to search for threats. 
“Damn, this is an eerie place” the pilot of Gebo 6 said. “In the neighborhood near the countryside of Nevada where I lived as a kid, there were ruins that felt like this. The 5000 residents, it was said that they all disappeared in one night. It was rumored that in one night all of the residents were murdered. With some sort of experiment by the military, the residents were attacked. All the adults laughed at it like a ghost story, but even those who transferred from that place to our town didn’t know anything.” 
“Ooh, scary scary,” Kurz laughed on the wireless radio. 
“...well the truth is, the only car factory in that town was shut down, and nobody lived there anymore.” 
“What, how boring.” 
With the exchanges of Kurz and the others, Sousuke fell to a strange sensation. 
A déjà vu. Such a landscape… it was like he had seen it before. No- on the contrary, even the conversation of Kurz and the others, he felt like he had heard it before. What was that sensation? Later, Tessa would surely say something- 
<It is a strange sensation.> 
It seemed like he was mistaken. The one who spoke was not Tessa but Al. 
<In front of me, I feel like I have been here before.> 
“What’s that?” Sousuke said, being surprised at Al having the same sensation as he did. 
<The coordinates, and the geography does not correspond the previous operational data, but I have a feeling of “I have seen this before”.> 
“But it’s surely strange. I also felt like I’ve been here before” Kurz said. 
“Me too. I wonder if it was shown on the news?” the pilot of Gebo 4 said.  
Not only that, the other crews also in succession complained that “I also have that feeling”. 
“This might be the absentmindedness of the head due to the long travel, please brace yourself. We will now get close to the plant of the town.” Tessa said that just as the voices started to drift into anxiety. 
“Could you tell us about this already, Tessa? What’s in these ruins? In the first place-” 
“I’m sorry, but I still can’t say” 
Interrupting Kurz’s complaint, she instructed them again. 
“We’re now going to land on those ruins. I’m going to go in, Sagara-san you be my escort. Leave the Laevatein behind.” 
 


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