Full Metal Panic! - Volume 4 - Chapter Pr

There was a red compact car parked in the back of the north school building.  
It was a model from four or five years ago, and of cheap design. It had a number of small scratches, and its tires were worn bald. Because of several days of rain, the hood and roof were dirty, giving the domestic car an even more seedy appearance.  
“That’s a car I’m not used to seeing,” said Kaname Chidori, looking down at the compact car from a window in the second floor corridor.  
“It is?” replied her classmate Kyouko Tokiwa, who was standing next to her.  
They had stopped on the way back to their classroom after returning a book to the library. It was lunchtime now. Normally, you could see the shapes of students playing ball in the back of the building, but not today. That was probably because second semester mid-term exams had started the day before. Many students now filled the classrooms, fighting with textbooks and notes.  
“It’s also parked in a strange place. See? There really aren’t any cars parked over there.”  
“I guess not.”  
“Anyway, we’d better hurry back to class. I have a test.”  
Kaname and Kyouko turned back towards the second year group four classroom without giving the car a second thought.  
Later, the two girls opened their textbooks, discussing the questions for next day’s midterm. The school bell chimed over the intercom.  
“Testing, testing... This is the assistant to the president of the student body.”  
The voice belonged to Sousuke Sagara, who was in the same class as Kaname and Kyouko. They looked around, but couldn’t see him in the classroom.  
“To the person who parked the red compact car in the back of the north building: Please contact me in the student meeting room immediately. I repeat: Would the person who parked the red compact car in the back of the north building please contact me in the student meeting room immediately. License plate number: Tama 50-”  
After carefully repeating the license plate number three times, he silenced the speaker. It was just like an announcement you would hear at a department store or some other place, calling out to the inconveniently parked customer.  
“Isn’t that the car we saw earlier?”  
“...what is Sagara doing?”  
“Who knows?”  
She didn’t really understand what was going on, but the announcement was probably being heard in the staff room and the principal’s office. As such, the owner of the car would probably get in touch with Sousuke right away.  
So there wasn’t really a problem.  
Thirty minutes later, Kaname and Kyouko were continuing their studying.  
“Now, what’s the meaning of ‘In spite of~’?” asked Kaname, pulling the question from the sentence structure of an English text.  
“Huh? I don’t know. Where did you get that from?”  
“Page 88.”  
“Where is it...? Ah, here, chapter ten. That won’t be on the test.”  
“What? Yes it will.”  
“No, it won’t. Ms. Kagurazaka didn’t say that it would be during class.”  
“What are you talking about? She said it would be in there.”  
“No she didn’t.”  
“Yes she did!”  
“Did not!”  
They continued back and forth in a heated debate, when finally the two decided to ask Eri Kagurazaka from the English department directly. They left the classroom and went towards the staff room. Opening the door with the warning sign of “Exam preparations in progress- Students are not to enter!” pasted on it, they called to Eri from outside of the staff room.  
“Excuse me, Ms. Kagurazaka!”  
“What is it?” she replied from behind them.  
They looked around to find Eri Kagurazaka standing there, holding a white plastic bag.  
“Oh, you left?”  
“Yes. I did a little shopping at the discount store in the shopping center,” she said, taking car wash and car wax out of the bag and showing it to them.  
“What’s that?”  
“I just got my license the other day, and today I drove the family car to work for the first time,” Eri replied genially. “I was thinking I might use the water spigot in the back of the building to wash the car later.” Somehow, she seemed to be separated from school after lunchtime began.  
“...Umm, did you hear the announcement earlier?”  
“Hm? What do you mean?”  
“Anyway, will you please tell Kaname that chapter ten won’t be on the exam?”  
“No, chapter ten won’t be on the exam.”  
“I knew it! See, told you!” said Kyouko in a cocky manner, as if she had just taken the head of an ogre.  
“Oh, I see. Sorry.”  
After Kaname had admitted defeat, she promptly walked off.  
“Gloat later, okay? I have other things to worry about right now.”  
Abandoning Kyouko, she walked away from the front of the staff room in big, heavy strides, heading towards the north building. Why, she wondered, was there a strange uneasiness? She went down to the first floor, left the school building through the emergency exit, and walked until she came to the spot where the car from earlier was parked-  
All that was left were the bits and pieces to which the unsightly car had been reduced.  
Its four tires were lying on the ground. The hood was resting up against the wall. The fake leather seats had been neatly arranged. Not to mention numerous nuts and bolts, engine parts... And the doors, as well, had been removed.  
“SOOUSUKEEEE!?” Kaname shouted, and Sousuke Sagara looked around. He was holding a grandiose detector, and had started to investigate one of the seats he had just dismantled.  
“Don’t approach, Chidori!” he yelled in a sharp voice, “I haven’t secured the area yet. My death alone will be sufficient.” And with a serious look and sweat running down his temples, he continued his work.  
“Y-you, just who do you think that car you’re tearing up belongs to?!”  
“Unknown. It’s a suspicious vehicle, which is why I’m investigating it.”  
“Wh... What are you talking about!?”  
“A car bomb,” Sousuke replied in dead earnest. “If plastic explosives are loaded up and concealed, a car such as this one can become a devastating weapon. In 1983, an Islamic Jihad Organization called “Hezbollah” used a truck loaded with explosives to carry out a kamikaze attack on a U.S. military base in Lebanon. Do you know what the death toll was from that?”  
“Like I would!”  
“241 people! 241 brave and valiant marines, all blown up in a split second. And there’s no guarantee anywhere that a tragedy of that proportion won’t happen to this school!”  
“It already has!!” she said, rushing headlong into Sousuke and knocking him down. He fell to the asphalt, dropping his detector and tools.  
“Chidori, what are you-”  
“This is Ms. Kagurazaka’s car! And just earlier she was excited that she was getting to wash it! But are you going to clean this up!?”  
“But the high-powered explosives-”  
“There aren’t any, are there!?”  
Her anger rising even more, she kicked him over again.  
“Put it back together! Now! This won’t just be a regular apology when she finds out. No, she’s got such a weak constitution she might faint in a second. That means we have a really big problem!!”  
“This is Ms. Kagurazaka’s car? Really?”  
“Why would I lie about something like that!?”  
With a severe look, he stared at the pile of parts that used to be a compact car.  
“This is a problem. I can’t reassemble it quickly.”  
“Then don’t take it apart in the first place!”  
Just as she knocked him down for a third time, an electronic sound came from Sousuke’s chest.  
Beep beep beep beep beep beep...  
He excitedly reached into his jacket and pulled out a cell phone. He pressed the “Call” button and answered, whispering in English.  
“This is Uruz 7... I see, but... 2 and 6? ...understood. I understand. Go to the field on Route 10...yes. Understood.”  
After talking for a while, he hung up the phone and quickly began to straighten up his tools.  
“Hey, what is it?”  
“Urgent business. I have to leave early.”  
“Again? ...hey, wait. What about the car!?”  
“If you think about priorities-”  
Sousuke looked down at the pile of parts in obvious distress.  
“As I thought, I have no choice but to leave the car as it is,” he said.  
“Please tell something to the teacher,” and with that, he grabbed his satchel and ran off.  
“Sousuke!? Hey! Are you out of your mind!? Besides... what about tomorrow’s midterms!? Aaah, dammit... he’s gone again. I swear...”  
She hurriedly saw Sousuke off, who had just abandoned the place like a criminal from the scene of the crime, and clicked her tongue.  
Another “job”, huh?  
How come that organization gets to order him around without any excuses?  
She frowned as the thought crossed her mind. Then, after examining the remnants of the compact car, she looked around the nearby vicinity.  
Th... this is a good time to run, isn’t it...?  
That’s right. No matter how much I might want to, it isn’t my duty to fix this mess. Anyway, it would be impossible.  
Dumbfounded by the trouble of making up an explanation for later, Kaname gave a “tsk” and ran away from the scene. She returned to the classroom. Around the time the bell chimed five o’clock, the sounds of a female teacher screaming and wailing came ringing from the distance.  
Kaname’s face fell on her desk and she plugged her ears.  
I’m so sorry, Ms. Kagurazaka. It’s all his fault.  

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