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After I put Kamogawa in a cab and he was taken home, I started walking alone on the dark snowy road.

I was alone now, and I needed to cool my hot head down.

I had to think about the future. I needed to know everything and clear my mind before I do that. I called that man on the cell phone.

It was late at night, but I was sure the call would go through.

“Tsukishiro, answer me. Why did Naoe give up his position to join Kijima?”

“That's a funny thing to ask considering you called me.”

“You know everything, don't you?”

“Naoe-sensei has always prided himself on being the best politician. But now he understands that Kijima-sensei is more than that.”


“Although the two of us have very different philosophies, we have more in common than you might think.”

“So... You think I'm gonna buy that?”

“Your involvement in the White Room isn’t something Kijima-sensei would appreciate.”

“What are you talking about? That guy has ANHS. We could even make the White Room his second maneuver.”

“ANHS is certainly one of his main operations. But at the same time, he was working on a similar new plan behind the scenes. In other words, his second maneuver was already in motion. It wouldn’t have been desirable for him to have that plan come out in front of the public.”

“...That's why Naoe cut me off, huh…?”

“I don't know at what stage he learned of this, but Kijima-sensei heard about the White Room... I can say that he had a discussion with Naoe-sensei and one of the quid pro quo for calling it off was that he was promised a position in the future.”

I didn't realize that Kijima was also thinking of a plan very similar to the White Room.

“That's not all. You were much more capable than Naoe-sensei had imagined. In the past few years, he relied on you a lot, but didn't you think you had a lot of unreasonable demands as well?”


“That's probably because he was afraid of you. Along the way, they came to expect your downfall rather than taking advantage of you. But you didn't fail. No, you never once failed. You managed to cover your tracks and kept a low profile. Naoe-sensei didn’t raise you to the top. He was expecting your son to be his right-hand man to support him when he becomes a powerful enough man to lead the country in the future. Naoe's eye to see through everything had made only one wrong calculation. Your limitless ambition—that much he didn't seem to understand.”

In ten years, even Naoe wouldn't be able to crush me.

So he took steps to prevent that from happening.

Was shutting down the White Room a gift for my son, or a bomb for me who might destroy him?

“Was my answer satisfactory to you?”

“Why were you so honest with me?”

“I wouldn't be talking to you if you were the one to be destroyed here. But my gut tells me otherwise. You will come back to the stage with more power. That's why I told you.”

“A wise decision. But of course, you're going to play nice no matter what happens, aren't you?”

“That's a foolish question.”

This guy wasn’t just on my side. He could be on anyone's side at any time.

If he found me incompetent, he'd cut me off instantaneously.

“You can sell my information to Naoe or anyone you want. In return, I’ll receive information from you. It's better for both of us if we can keep an eye on each other at all times.”

“I agree.”

“We're going to be friends for a long time, Tsukishiro.”

“I hope so. Ayanokouji-sensei.”

Saying this, Tsukishiro hung up the phone.

Yes, I wasn’t going to stop here.

I'm going to thoroughly prepare myself and build up my strength to protect my own life in the future.

And at the same time, I’ll build up my army in the White Room.[14]

(TL Note: A time skip occurs after this line)[14]


200 meters high, 50 floors above ground.

A banquet on the middle floor of one of the tallest and most prestigious hotels in Tokyo. I arrived a little before the scheduled time and was thinking in the elevator as it started to ascend.

It would cost about 3,000,000 yen for a three-hour private party, just to serve food to about 60 people.

It might sound like a small expense, but considering the bleak financial situation, it wasn’t cheap.

The parties were held every year since the facility began operations, and the scale of the parties has gradually increased.

We needed to raise more money than ever before.

Since Naoe had cut me off, the majority of the wealthy supporters turned their backs on me.

The fact that I was down to 60 supporters from the 200 I used to have was a testament to that.

I needed money. I needed to raise hundreds of millions of dollars.

All that was needed here today was one's own skill.

My eyes met my reflection in the huge elevator’s full-length glass wall.

I was getting very old.

Looking back, I could calmly reflect on my age.

It was a miracle that I had been able to keep the White Room running.

But I still had a long way to go.

It had been a while since I was ousted from politics, but the fire of my own ambitions hadn’t been extinguished but was burning brighter than ever.

I arrived at the floor I wanted to go to, got off the elevator, and went to the waiting room.

I lost my title as a politician, and now I was treated as an ex-politician.

Under normal circumstances, my coercive power would be greatly diminished.

However, my title as head of the White Room operations steadily increased my power.

Otherwise, those so-called wealthy people wouldn’t be here.

“Ayanokouji-sensei, it's about time.”


I had many thoughts on the matter, but the first priority was to solve the financial issue.

The larger the size of the White Room, the more it costs to maintain it.

In order to cover these costs, we needed to generate the money for the necessities, not money to be thrown away.

“Oh, sorry to keep you waiting.”

“You're getting restless. How many times do you have to go to the bathroom?”

Tabuchi returned to the waiting room, sat down on a chair, and started to move his left leg up and down in small steps.

“When are you going to get out of this habit of yours?”

“I'm sorry, but If I don’t get this chance… I'm worried.”

Surely, a shortfall in funds would put the White Room project on the brink of a major impasse.

It would be better if it was only a temporary pause, but it would be fatal to end our students’ education.

It would be like raising baby birds and then having them die of a disease.

“Listen, Tabuchi. We cannot turn our backs on the fact that there’s no way out. But that's why we have to take a strong step forward without looking back. Think about what happens after you fall.”

Tabuchi looked up at me as the speed of his shaking left foot slowed.

“You’re very strong, Ayanokouji-sensei.”

“Considering all I've been through, it doesn't matter… Naoe used me, the White Room Project was canceled, and I lost my title as a politician...”

And yet, I never stopped moving forward.

I was proud of the fact that I had been walking on the road of hell all my life—something I couldn’t reveal to others.

Aside from people like Naoe and Kijima, it had reached the point where it was no longer easy for a mere politician to gain an audience with me.

I may have lost my title as a politician, but there was no doubt that I had surpassed my former self.

I noticed that Tabuchi's legs had stopped shaking and his fists were clenched.

I had to show the people who believed in the White Room what I was capable of doing, I can’t let them regret it.

“Do you think you have a chance in today's battle?”

“Of course. Do you know what the easiest and most powerful weapon that anyone can use is?”

“...What? Is there such a thing?”

“Yes, there is. Of course, it's a risky double-edged sword. It's called lying.”

“A lie...?”

“Some people have risen through the political world using the strength of a lie. That's how powerful a lie can be.”

Of course, a lie was only meaningful if you used it well.

“We’ll make full use of this weapon. Tabuchi, this is the moment of truth in the White Room.”



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