In the basement of a certain building in Kasumigaseki, a single woman strut her way towards a single room. Outward-curling hair and round eyes gave her an energetic impression, a woman who suited the description of cute rather than beautiful. When she wore a suit, she did give the look of a naïve newcomer to the working world of society.
Called by the Kantou Agency’s steering committee, who insisted they had to speak with the Sacred Assembly, Sister Clarica donned an office lady cosplay to sneak into the world
“Wassup. It’s the Sacred Assembly.”
As Clarica opened the thick soundproofed door without so much as a knock, she found a meeting room-like space filled with a few worn-out middle-aged to old men.
“Wha… a woman…?”
“The most I’ve seen that place’s sisters do is hand out leaflets on the streets… will she be any use?”
“That’s why I said we should call in Angel Saber from the states…”
“Oh shut it you Ameriphile!”
“Who’s the one that said a national agency would cause too great an impact on politics…!?”
One shot from Clarica’s beloved Mauser—a rather stiff smile on the girl’s face— and the meeting room approaching incoherency regained complete silence.
“Ahem. This is the Sacred Assembly. Have you accepted the word of the lord?”
With a complete change of hands, the men began lowering their heads, smiling with the sort of business smiles they used for political campaigns.
“H-hey, don’t just stand around, some tea… no, how about some wine! And call in some girls…”
“No, sir, this sister here is also a woman…”
“W-what? Oh right, how very right you are. Does anyone here know a good host club…!”
(… Rotten commoner filth…)
A mere gunshot put them in such chaos. Were these people really the greatest anti-demon organization of the far east… the Kantou Agency’s steering committee?
Of course, it was only deemed that holy knights were unnecessary in their territory back in the days when they had an agent called E0, or so she had heard from Bishop Ferriol.
(I guess this is what you can expect from a country’s anti-demon agency…)
She felt dirty just looking at it. One glance at the political backstage, and Clarica felt the necessity of the Lord’s descent.
However, as long as they find it in them to repent, no matter who they are, any human may find salvation.
“Ahem, may the lord oversee your plight.”
Leaning back in a leather seat with armrests, Clarica who had just eaten a five thousand yen first class meal, was now swiftly stuffing her cheeks with the dessert and fruit combination platter. Not bad at all.
“Ha. Ha. When the chance comes, I humbly beg you pass the message to Bishop Ferriol…”
Even if he put his hands together and showed off his bald head, it wasn’t too interesting to behold; given where she was, there was little she could do about it. It wasn’t like she could drink ale with her status as a sister.
(So this is why public relations is always so willing to go to Japan…)
The Japanese heart, the Japanese hospitality, some blessing this was.
Incidentally, Clarica’s affiliation was with the inquisition’s second division. Instead of the public relations department that coordinated activity between different nations, the reason Clarica had come was simply due to the fact this was the Kantou Agency, a third world organization.
“Gotta give the lord thank for the food on the table… well’n, it’s about time we get to business.”
“Yes, truth be told…”
Such and such, and so and so.
“And that is what happened.”
A coup d’etat was going to happen in a few hours, Clarica did get the general gist, for argument’s sake, but that wasn’t particularly warranting of surprise.
“Aaah… so what? In short, you didn’t train your dogs properly?”
Perish the thought. The middle-aged man who seemed to serve as a representative shook his head. A parliamentarian with some fat around his waist, the badge of some party on his chest.
“They are simply being deceived by the demons of Zephirum! We always put in an extraordinary effort to reward all our members to our utmost…”
The parliamentarian the others just seemed to call ‘sir’ attempted a desperate defense.
But what about it? Did he think that the ultra-extremist inquisition second division didn’t know the truth of the Kantou Agency? It was because they knew their sins that she was here right now.
It was perfectly fine if the Kantou Agency were to be crushed.
Clarica thought as she scoffed.
“… Well, we do take Zephirum demon matters into consideration.”
Right, a demon could just be exorcized after it had completely destroyed the agency from the inside. If they stationed a knight order in the subsequent vacancy, the world would be one step closer to proper order.
“That everything? Then I’ll just be on my way.”
“Y-you can’t! What about the coup d’etat? There’s no time…!”
“How bout you think about it logically, a few dozen people won’t overturn a country.”
While the men tried to cling onto her, the sister gave a grand laugh and left without a second word.
“Kuh… what’s with her attitude!?”
“Should we probe out the Imperial Household…!?”
“But if you do that, in the end, they’ll hound us to take responsibility! We’ll be taken in by those bloody imperials. We’ll be eaten up by Divine Spirit Division’s Nata Souichirou, and that’ll be the end of it!”
“Those blasted agents… to dare to bite the hand that picked up and raised them!”
Voices of resentment.
Nothing but meaningless wasted time flew by.
As the penguin said, Makoto was able to reunite with Suzuran on the eighth basement floor. They were already nearing the way down to the ninth.
“It’s true, I tell you! The penguin really did spread its wings and go bwoosh! Bwoosh I say! It slid! It tore those monsters apart…!”
Her uniform in tatters, Suzuran shed tears as she stressed that fact. IT was so heartbreaking to watch Makoto took off her glasses, using her handkerchief to suppress the heating corners of her eyes.
“Hasebe… is this dungeon letting off some strange radio waves or something?”
“Don’t ask me…”
“Why won’t you believe me!?”
Who would ever believe it tore up monsters even Shouki feared? There’s no way such a cute penguin would ever do something so violent.
“Hey, Ripple-Rapple!? You saw it, right!? It was a demon lord’s vassal, right!?”
“Yeah, yeah, Suzuran. I’ll take you to a nice psychiatrist. Even so, everyone’s acting a little strange.”
Shouki who was as if he saw a dream, and now Suzuran and Takase… ever since he met that penguin, he was making an even grimmer face than before.
Ripple-Rapple expressionlessly said as she descended the stairs.
“Hey, Iori Takase.”
“Mn? What is it, girly?”
“Who is that kid, anyway?”
On Makoto’s question, Shouki and Suzurn joined in, the four of them looking at that small back.
“… Who knows. That’s the one thing I’ve really got no clue about.”
“The way you put it, it sounds like you know at least a little about the other stuff.”
“Hmm… why would I volunteer information to an enemy organization?”
Takase unpleasantly spat out the words before walking after Ripple-Rapple.
After a while walking down the ninth floor. The passage with no diverging paths once again spread into a wide open space.
“… this voice is…”
As Takase raised his face, Makoto once again sent him a dubious look.
“What, are you hearing something again…”
(!? .. I can hear it to…?)
When she looked to the side, Suzuran was holding her ears with a terrified expression. Even so, the voice was as clear as ever. No, it wasn’t the eardrums, the thoughts were resonating somewhere far deeper.
“Be careful! I sense some outrageous ma… gic…”
Glaring at the spacious room in front of him, Shouki pulled his sword… only to forget how to take a stance, dazing out right where he stood.
Gryphon, Cyclops, Sleipnir, Wyvern, Basilisk, Kraken, Unicorn—
Legendary existences that were said to have perished with the demon lord, the sort that could even be called divine beasts… the highest class, a flock of S-Rank monsters. This was their den.
“Wait… this is no joke, this…!”
In the center. Smack dab where the monsters prostrated themselves, surrounded by beasts, a woman with long hair in a maid uniform airily floated. She happily slept.
God is SlEEpinG… mUst KEEP quIET…
when wiLL She wake…
Is it yEt. is iT YET…
“What are they… saying…?”
The rustling voices that incessantly flowed into her brain imparted Makoto with a bleak dread, she held her mouth at the nausea. No, perhaps she was being struck by the immense magic they let off.
“And what is that woman…”
“That is… Meeko.”
Within the party of pale corpse-like face, Ripple-Rapple calmly answered. Shouki gulped down his saliva before speaking.
“… You’ve got to be kidding me… like hell I’m going over there…”
Sensing the crisis ahead of anyone, Suzuran tried to retreat only for her knees to completely give out on her. The monsters turned one after another. Their prostrate bulk lifting up one after the next. Each and every one bigger than the stone golem. With height, with breadth, with length, Each carried more than enough intensity for a human to instinctively perceive peril.
HUmANS tO slaUGHter…
At the wave of monsters slowly skulking as if to cast pressure, Takase cried out.
“That’s bad! They’re seriously coming!”
And Shouki was the hero after all. When he was supposed to know he wouldn’t be a match, his feet took a step forward to hold them back.
“Makoto, take Suzuran and get back! Hurry!”
Just as she was told, Makoto held Suzuran up from behind.
“Get a grip! Aren’t you a demon lord!?”
“Ee… aah… c… cccandidate…!”
No matter how Makoto tried to raise her, with her knees clattering together, there was little to be done.
(So I… don’t even have the power to do this…!)
And the monsters weren’t inclined to be sympathetic to such circumstance. If that’s how it was going to be, she should have removed Takase’s handcuffs.
One had finally entered his range. Shouki prepared to slash at it.
“… That is not good. Stop it at once.”
She gently opened her eyes. Quietly as if to admonish a child, A voice filled with heart. The monsters’ movements twitched to a complete stop.
nEVEr maKe HeR AnGry. gO Home…
The monsters’ forms faded away like some terrible illusion. The open space became nothing but emptiness, the head-churning unpleasant voices ceased, and an area so oppressing had cleared up in an instant.
Noticing Suuran’s voice, the woman’s expression bloomed softly like a sunflower as she fluffily floated over.
“Oh my. Suzuran, it’s been a while… buy why are you all in a place like this? Even Taki.”
His hands still locked d own, Takase skillfully used only the bending of his body to get Meeko with a front-rolling kick. With the inertia she had been given, Meeko fell to the floor and rolled along it a while.
“Shut up, Meeko! Just how much humiliation do you think I’ve been through thanks to that note you left behi… nwah!?”
As Takase pathetically made an unsightly ruckus, Shouki gave him a good smack to the back of the head. As he collapsed down, Shouki mounted him and put him into a choke hold.
“Iori!! What do you think you’re doing to Ms. Meeko…!?”
“That’s right! You really are too terrible, master!”
Her knees healed, Suzuran joined in on the ring of condemnation.
“Unhand me, damn brat! This is my company’s problem…!”
“What is it this time, you rotten little girl!!?”
With Makoto’s words bringing his disgrace to its peak, Iori screamed with such force it looked like the vein on his forehead would burst.
“Little Makoto here really wants a Meeko☆.”
“Oy… Makoto. You really need to learn some integrity…”
“I think so too…”
Pulling back from that one, Shouki and Suzuran lost their tensions.
“And who might you be?”
Rising up, Meeko asked with a gentle smile. Beautiful, kind, at the impression she gave off, Makoto ended up overlapping her with the portrait of her late mother.
“Hahah… now this is really something.”
Turning to whoever had cut off her words, Makoto caught sight of an armed Kikuhito, standing with his machine gun at the ready.
“Well look who it is… you followed us?”
“So this is… designation number one. Even S-Rank monsters listen to her… you really got in contact with her, as expected of the director.”
“Hah? Designation number one, you don’t mean…”
The Kantou Agency’s absolute higher priority for elimination. It was in the database as E0’s final target. Following Kikuhito’s passionate, fearful eyes, at the end… “What can I do for you…?” the demon called Meeko simply smiled.
“… Sorry, but I’ll be taking your owner.”
The gunshots rang out. The bangs and flashes continued a while, on and on, for what seemed like forever, they carved up the stillness.
Makoto swallowed her breath at Takase’s voice. By that point, his shirt was already dyeing the color of fresh blood.
His chest quite literally torn open by the gunfire, Takase vomited a great pool of blood, his shirt finished its transformation to a reddish black, his eyes lost their focus as he lost all his strength. Just as gravity ordained it, he collapsed onto the stone floor.
The voice of Meeko whose eyes had widened, stupefied. Suzuran’s late scream. Upon hearing that, Shouki turned his sword towards Kikuhito, his face ghastly in rage. Gazing over the situation, Ripple-Rapple desolately muttered.
“Almost instant death.”
Sensing the smell of Takase’s shed blood, Makoto pushed up her glasses.
“Hey, you… what are you doing?”
“… I’m sorry, director. I’m upholding my side of the bargain.”
Kikuhito’s cold eyes spoke out that this was just the mission.
“I was only keeping watch over you because Belronde told me to.”
“Yeah, I already knew that.”
As Makoto took it quite indifferently, Kikuhito blinked his eyes.
“… From when?”
Makoto could brag she could conduct herself far more easily than any of the geezers on the steering committee. Diet member, minister, she didn’t have any titles she needed to protect; she was just the director. No matter how stupid the demon Belronde might be, there was no possible way he would leave someone like her to her own devices.
In such a situation, the only person who just coincidentally managed to escape, Kikuhito just happened to instigate all her following actions. Makoto had more than enough reason to suspect him.
It was true stupidity… but in the end, perhaps this was the best plan a demon who only cared about power could come up with.
“You’re free to watch me if you want. I’m asking why you’re taking away my pieces.”
“… That’s a simple one. If I convinced you Iori Takase was E0, you would eventually come into contact with designation number one. And taking designation one back with me is my objective. To accomplish that, the head of the Iori House is an obstruction.”
“Hey, Makoto…! What does that mean!? You’d better explain this time…!”
Gripping his sword with no hesitation, Shouki listened in from the side, but Kikuhito’s gunpoint was pointed directly at Makoto.
“I might as well add on that the part about Iori Takase being E0 is…”
“You’re going to say it was a complete lie, aren’t you.”
What Belronde wanted was designation number one, nothing more… meaning a demon of the strongest category the assembly could ordain. An Outer.
“You knew? Shoulda seen that coming. The mission to eliminate designation one… was mostly because of the antagonism between the imperial house and the agency.”
The monster bloodlines the imperial house kept with them, the four godslaying houses. But once the house they served was cut off from government after the war, the government had to establish its own anti-demon force, the Kantou Agency.
Ever since the war, what protected the country of Japan from dark forces were the imperial house’s godslayers, and the ministry of finance’s Kantou Agency. In contrast to the godslayers’ centuries of experience, the agency that had finally kicked off in the forties was far, far behind.
“In order for the Kantou Agency to stand at the top of this country’s third world, designation number one was a sprout that needed to be dug out… I’m sure that’s why she was placed first on the priority list. And there’s no reason anyone of the Iori House that keeps designation one should be E0.”
“… So you just pretended to be tricked, eh. You’re one nasty woman, you are. You pretended to go after E0 while you were after the woman, just like me.”
Lightly shaking his head, Kikuhito walked towards her, his gun still trained.
“We knew about it. No matter how young you are, we knew just how superior you were to the inept steering committee… but you were too late.”
“Then Kikuhito, let me ask. Between me and Belronde, who would you say is superior?”
“We can’t forgive this country. And Belronde has the power to smash it a new one. The dragoon your old man made… that’s the real deal. There are only a few dozen of us, but if we’ve got him, we can even flip over the world.”
And Kikuhito walked right past Makoto, as she grit her teeth. He reached down and grabbed Meeko, who was resting Takase’s head on her lap. Without touching Takase, Meeko’s outstretched hand scratched the air.
“This woman is one of the Myriad Series… they say she’s the strongest, most brutal first demon lord’s vassal. If you managed to obtain her, I’m sure you’d be able to beat Belronde, but… Sorry director. I’m taking her.”
“The Myriad Series!? … The first demon lord’s vassal!?”
To Shouki’s question, Kikuhito snorted.
“So don’t you think you should start grinding some more, Mr. Hero?”
Spewing cynicism, Kikuhito produced a small gemstone from his pocket. Upon seeing it glimmer, Ripple-Rapple raced over to him.
“Take him to… the Doctor…”
After she had said that, space rumbled, and Kikuhito, a dazed out Meeko, and finally, Ripple Rapple who was pointing in some direction, the three of them disappeared.
“Hasebe-senpai, hurry! Master is…!”
Returning to her senses, Suzuran changed face and screamed.
“Ripple-Rapple said almost instant death! He’s probably still a little alive!”
She says some outrageous things with a cute face, Makoto thought. Even so, at her voice, Shouki disregarded the blood dripping onto his uniform as he shouldered Takase and turned back on the path they came.
“What is it, Makoto! I think he’s better off dead too, but…!”
The hero also said some amazing things with a straight face.
“Hasebe, this is the ninth floor.”
Makoto walked in the direction Ripple-Rapple pointed out before vanishing. After investigating a wall of stacked stone blocks for a bit, she spotted an ingeniously camouflaged switch.
“Look at that. No matter how sadistic the game is, there’s usually an elevator or warp zone around this level.”
The wall opened with a ding. Upon seeing that, Suzuran and Shouki stared blankly.
“Which means… Ripple-Rapple… knew…?”
“Why didn’t she start with that…!”
Yep, yep, Makoto sympathized with them completely.
“I feel the same way…!”
She gripped her fist.
“It’s fine! That person might even be able to bring back a corpse!”
Returning to ground level, Suzuran gave a strong command. Yet Makoto got an acute sense she didn’t want to get anywhere near this room.
“Heeheeh! Heeh! They really got you this time, Iori…! Now where does it hurt…!?”
In his unfashionable black-rimmed glasses, only one side was filled with a thick lens like the bottom of a bottle. Scraggly hair he must have forgotten to look after. A slender man in a shabby lab coat ignited Shouki’s survival instinct.
“If you’re a doctor, shouldn’t you be able to tell!? In the first place, I doubt he can even feel pain anymore…!”
“Hmm? Mmmmmn!? Y-you’re!? Are you not the drilling hero from that time!?”
“Eh…? Hasebe, you’re into that…”
“Wrong!! Wait, into what!?”
Shouki lost his state of mind.
“Heeheeheeh! Y-y-you are!? You really do need a drill, don’t you!? Isn’t that right! Heroes and drills are one and the same!”
“Like hell they are! Just fix Iori up…!”
“I won’t take any of your time! I-i-i-Iori can wait, and wait and wait!! Now, now, let’s operate on you, top priority! What can I do for you!? Do you want lasers!? Do you want beams!? I increased the output of that rocket punch, you see…!”
Ignoring Iori who lay on the bed like a corpse… rather, wasn’t he already a corpse at this point… the doctor began fumbling through his desk drawer.
“I’m begging you, just listen to me!”
“W-w-what!? Heeeeeh! You want all of them, is that what you want!? What a greedy little boy! I think I’m in love!!”
When the doctor pulled a lever on the wall, the robo claw grabber toy-like device that descended from the ceiling restrained Shouki from all sides.
“Whoah!? L-let me go! Makoto, save me! Oy!? Hey, where are you going?”
“… What should we do, Suzuran?”
“I half-saw it all coming, but didn’t have any countermeasures.”
Then there was nothing to be done.
A resigned Makoto slouched against the wall and the two shared a sigh.
‘Let go… stop…!’
‘’Heeheeeh heeeh!! With this legendary drill I completely yesterday, you’ll ascend to the true hero…!’
They could still hear this and that through the door. At the very least, the ruckus made it hard to believe Takase was being treated.
“Hey, Suzuran. It was yesterday, but it’s legendary…? Is that how it works?”
“… Sure, why not. I’m not the one equipping it.”
The two sighed again in front of the door.
“Heeeeh! W-wait! No matter how strange you end up looking, as long as I implant this hotty circuit…!”
‘Just get to fixing Iori!!’
With an evasive roll, Shouki nimbly leapt his way out of the operation room.
“Oh my. Is your surgery over, Hasebe?”
“Hasebe-senpai are you a hotty now?”
“One. Of. These. Days…!”
Ignoring the grating sound coming from Shouki’s molars.
‘… Hmmmm!? Heeeh!? I-Iori! What the hell man, you’re heart’s not beating! Wow, I never knew you could do that!’
The sighs increased to three.
“… So in the end, did Iori Takase die?”
“When I was carrying him, he still had a slight breath…”
“But, umm. The doctor said something about his pulse…”
Suzuran’s words brought a silence. The three of them trudged down the long hallway. Night had come down. When Makoto checked her watch, the short hand was about to approach seven.
(Around five hours left…)
“That aside, Makoto. You’re going to explain what’s going on. Aren’t you?”
It was time… this was probably as far as she could play it off.
“Who is that Belronde he was talking about? Why did your subordinate run off with Ms. Meeko?”
“Belronde is the name of one of Zephirum’s executives.”
As Makoto cut herself off, Shouki and Suzuran gulped and stared.
“The Kantou Agency, see, it was taken over by that Demon Belronde. But… if I told you about this, Hasebe, I thought the Sacred Assembly would never let the agency live it down. Considering how I as the director was unable to prevent such a state of affairs… you get it. So… I kept quiet, I’m sorry…”
“What’s this… that’s why you said it was your problem…”
Makoto raised her face at his voice. The hero gave a tired, yet carefree smile.
“That’s not like you at all. It’s far easier when you’re your usual selfish self, dragging me around… if you say you want to take back the Kantou Agency, I’ll help out however I can. Of course, this is a secret from the assembly.”
“Hasebe… but if you do that…”
He laughed to put her at ease. Albeit his smile was a bitter one this time.
“It’s fine, sure, I might get a bit of a lecture but… the Kantou Agency is a just organization that protects Japan from monsters. Am I wrong?”
“Makoto-senpai… if there’s anything I can do, just say it! Battle might be a bit impossible… but I know how to drive a car, and I can run!”
And how was that supposed to help? She probably knew that herself, and yet Suzuran was still trying to cheer her up with all her might. Makoto removed her glasses and held the corners of her eyes.
“Thank you… there’s something else I should tell you.”
Shouki gave a theatrical shrug of his shoulders. What could be worse than this?
“Yeah, yeah, when we’ve come this far, they say. Now out with it, I won’t be angry.”
“That Belronde guy’s going to launch a coup d’etat in five hours☆”
A little silence before,
While Makoto thought she had stuck out her tongue as cutesy as possible,
“This is no time for tehes, Makoto! Why didn’t you say that sooner!?”
When he’s the one who said he wouldn’t be angry.
“Five hours… so sudden… is that true!?”
Suzuran opened her phone to check the time.
“Probably is. It’s Zephirum after all, and Belronde’s a dragoon.”
“Dragoon… wait, what’s that?”
“Ah, Hasebe, you don’t know about them? Well, that’s right, the technology is far too absurd. By transplanting a dragon’s makeup into a human, you imbue them with a dragon’s powers.”
This fantasy stuff again… Suzuran dejectedly muttered, but Shouki opened his mouth with an unnatural sense of crisis.
“A breath of flames can melt stone, their scales are harder than any armor… you’re saying a human can use the strongest monster, a dragon’s powers?”
“That they can. At the moment, it looks like the Demon Belronde is the only one, but… if the procedure is complete, all that’s left is to repeat it.”
Right, if the power was imparted to agents, Belronde’s absolute superiority to them would wane. For the time being, it was appropriate to think it was just Belronde alone.
Even so, Kikuhito showed so much confidence. Enough power to overturn this small island country even with just one of them.
“Oh, also, I guess that means Zephirum will pretty much get its hands on an army of dragons.”
“Again… why did you keep quiet about something so big for so long!? Like I can stay put! I’ve got to get in touch with Bishop Ferriol… wait, that’ll jeopardize the Kantou Agency, won’t it…”
In his anguish, Shouki stared intently at the floor.
“Right. Rather… The Sacred Assembly probably won’t come even if you call them. If the Kantou Agency disappears in this ruckus, then Japan will be at their doorstep begging for an order of knights. I doubt the assembly will move up until the coup d’etat begins.”
“I see… that’s why you need sacred treasures… or E0, a select few elites.”
There, Suzuran posed an extremely inevitable question.
“But is he really that strong? That E0 person?”
“… Right. You heard it from Kikuhito, didn’t you? Designation number one… if I tell you he was sent to kill that demon called Meeko, do you get the picture?”
It was likely because they had just seen the state of the ninth floor. Shouki and Suzuran turned pale, going momentarily silent.
“And… he has amnesia and his true identity’s Iori? Isn’t that the idiotic part? You said it yourself, there’s no way a godslayer would join an enemy organization. Isn’t that right?”
Was it true? Was it really true? She had considerable evidence to the contrary. With what Suzuran had said, Makoto herself was pretty much convinced.
“Hey, Suzuran, you mention…”
Makoto was about to say when behind the two of them. At the end of the corridor, she spotted the very same girl she was about to bring up, barely holding back a vulgar smile from her face. The fact she managed to keep covered up from Kikuhito. And the fact Makoto herself was so hazy about. But in this situation, she was certain.
“No, it’s nothing… it’s just there’s one more. One more thing I really have to say.”
The distant girl in a maid uniform caught sight of them and started walking. Curly hair, her right eye hidden by a bandana, a young girl who carried a sword at her hip.
She had chased after designation number one with E0 and gone off the radar… the results of Makoto’s own father’s research, the summit of the E-Type Induit Chasseurs.
Call Sign: Shirai Saho.
Highest rank achieved: Sergeant.