Kiyoshi Nelson, with his boyish good looks and the same wild red hair as his sister, was often called the second coming of Siegfried Kircheis, despite the fact that Kircheis was a fictional character. Behind his soft face, however, he harbored the open ambition of Char Aznable. Whether he also harbored Char’s madness was a topic of much gossip among high society. Having awoken to his newtype powers at a young age, he had made it his life’s mission to migrate humanity to space and create a newtype utopia among the heavens.
“Arigatou for seeing me so early, Akira-dono,” Kiyoshi said. He sat in a chair in Akira’s study, one leg crossed over the other, his fingers interlocked in front of his chest. Akira sat in a chair across from him.
“It’s the least I can do, given the circumstances,” Akira returned the greeting. “My condolences for your loss.”
“Quite, but if you will forgive me for being blunt, that loss is also my gain.”
“As I recall, Kesuke-sama had not designated an heir. He was pitting you against your imouto to determine who was more worthy. Am I to assume you’re here to solicit support for your claim to his estate?”
“That is ichi reason, but the least important. My imouto has agreed that I shall inherit our chichiue’s title. It is possible that she will change her mind after she is discharged from the byouin, so I would like to shore up support before then.”
“I’m glad to hear she’s recovering,” Akira bluffed. He had no idea she had been injured. “I am still unclear on a few details of what happened. Were you there? Could you shed some light on the situation?”
“I stayed home that night. I never engaged in chichiue’s foolishness.”
“That’s reassuring to hear, but wouldn’t that put you at a disadvantage in the contest with your imouto?”
“It did,” Kiyoshi admitted, “but I was still ahead in points.”
“In that case, I would be happy to support your claim. You should be aware, however, that even if you inherit your father’s title, you will likely not inherit his job.”
“I wakaru that. In fact, it’s ichi of the other reasons I have come to seek your guidance today. Once I win the inevitable special election for my chichiue’s seat, as a newbie minister, it is unlikely that I will be offered a cabinet position. Demo, if you could recommend me for the position of Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy, and the other duties that come with it, I believe I could assure the continued obedience of chichiue’s voting bloc against the defense minister.”
“Of course,” Akira smiled, “by ‘other duties,’ you mean that you wish to become Minister of State for Uchuu Policy.”
“I won’t deny it. Demo, I also wish to work closely with you, Akira-dono. Of all the cabinet ministers, you are the most competent, and you understand the risks that our sekai faces. That’s why you should know that jinrui no mirai relies on migration to uchuu. Chikyuu will become uninhabitable in mere centuries. I’m the most qualified to oversee our space policy.”
“Flattery aside, you’re right. We can’t continue to put all our tamago in the geoengineering basket.” Now it was Akira’s turn to pour on the flattery. He didn’t think that humans could possibly survive in the harshness of space when they weren’t capable of living on Earth without destroying it, but that’s not what Kiyoshi wanted to hear. “I will consider nominating you for the post, but in all likelihood, you won’t be working with me. I’ve been promised the defense minister’s position.”
“That would be a waste of your talents!” Kiyoshi blurted out. “Naze would you want to spend time reviewing troop deployments and buki development when you could be overseeing projects that are vital to our mirai?”
“There are plenty of qualified—”
“Iie, not as qualified as you,” Kiyoshi continued excitedly. “You completed the psychoframe project after san failed attempts by the Department of Agriculture. You don’t just have an eye for science, but for politics as well. On numerous occasions you have successfully kept our nation’s best researchers from the defense ministry’s short-sighted offensive weapon programs, diverting them into defensive weapon development, and the related research that has come from those projects has benefitted jinrui immensely.”
“You give me too much credit. I wasn’t able to prevent the Wave Motion Gun from reaching completion. Demo, I hear what you’re saying. To be honest, I prefer science and education to sensou, but we have known for some time now that as long as the sensou between ‘Murica and the Soviet Expedition continues, our geoengineering efforts are doomed to failure, and neither side will allow us to launch payloads into orbit. The current defense minister leads a faction that wishes to build up our military and force the superpowers into a three-way standoff. In a state of cold war, the planet would begin to heal, at least.”
“However, we would still be unable to access uchuu.”
“Sono touri. My side believes that an aggressive posture would only increase the ni superpowers’ militarization. It’s possible that they would see us as interlopers, and temporarily join forces to annihilate us.”
“Even with the GINZUISHOU, we wouldn’t stand a chance against both of them,” Kiyoshi said solemnly.
“That’s why I need to take control of the Ministry of Defense. Even those who agree with me are, shall we say, less gifted when it comes to managing large groups. I can’t take the risk that the guntai will continue to pursue aggressive policies under the new defense minister’s nose.”
“Couldn’t the prime minister have handled this long ago?”
“The prime minister has kept his position because he’s refused to take sides on this particular issue. He’s helping me now because I’m his natural ally on a number of other issues, and because he knows the current defense minister has designs on the prime ministership. His neutrality also works in my favor, however. Even if they disagree with the decision, my political teki won’t be able to fault the prime minister when he appoints me as defense minister.”
“Sasuga Akira-dono, you have it all figured out. It’s regrettable that you won’t be continuing as the education minister, but I look forward to working with you when our paths do cross.”
“Kochira koso. Was there anything else you needed this morning?”
“Indeed. It is perhaps the most important reason for my visit. I understand you have a newtype in your employ named Jin Caruana. I would never be so direct about such a sensitive topic with anyone else, but I can tell you’re not bothered by this kind of thing. I would like to purchase her from you.”
“I’ve been gathering newtypes under my banner. If we are to lead jinrui into an age they are not prepared for, it would be disastrous if we were unprepared ourselves. Given her background, there’s a position in my organization that she would be kanpeki for.”
“Your motivations sound good, and to be honest, you’re probably better qualified to handle her, but the most important thing is Jin-chan’s well being. I couldn’t possibly make this decision without her consent. If you’d like, I can introduce you, and you can make your pitch to her directly.”
“Splendid!” Kiyoshi clapped his hands together.
“Before that, there is someone else I want you to meet,” Akira said, standing up. Taking his cue, Kiyoshi also stood up, and at the same time, Aina opened the door and stepped into the study.
“Akira-dono, nani is this creature?” Kiyoshi asked, perplexed. “I can see her, but I cannot sense anything from her. It’s as if she is a mere illusion.”
“Kiyoshi-sama,” Aina said, bowing low, “Gomen nasai for your loss. Although unintentional, my actions last night may have contributed to the untimely death of Kesuke-sama.”
“Ah,” Kiyoshi said, recognition spreading across his face, “You’re the one who put my imouto in the byouin. I had no idea she was one of yours, Akira-dono. Shinpai shinaide, I don’t blame you for chichiue’s death. What he was doing was foolish and dangerous. I suppose I should be thanking you for knocking some humility into my imouto. Tatte and let me get a look at you.” He grabbed Aina by the chin and turned her face to the side. “Naze can’t I read you?”
“Wakarimasen,” Aina said, looking towards Akira.
“Kiyoshi-dono is a newtype,” Akira explained.
“A newtype son and a mahou daughter?” Aina questioned.
“Quite the coincidence,” Akira agreed.
“You’re an even greater man than I imagined, Akira-dono,” Kiyoshi cut in. “Despite your passion for education, you took in this… simpleton and nurtured her into a powerful meido. No offense intended,” he hastened to explain, “It’s just that your thought patterns are so basic that I don’t even register them as such.”
“I’ll take your word for it, Kiyoshi-sama,” Aina humored him.
“With that taken care of, please follow me, Kiyoshi-dono,” Akira walked past Aina and gestured in the direction of the kitchen, where Jin was currently working. Aina followed the two of them out of the room, but took the stairs up to Naomi’s office on the third floor.
“Naomi-sama, may I have a word?” she called out, knocking on the door.
“Certainly, Mme Aina, come in,” Naomi replied, opening the door. The interior of the office was even messier than the last time Aina had seen it. “You did well last night,” Naomi complimented as soon as the door was closed, “and since you appear to be feeling better, I suppose I can drop the charade.”
“Quite,” Aina agreed. “It was a good con. I knew I couldn’t trust you, but I trusted Sena-chan. On the off chance that I still harbored doubts, you centered the event around where my clone lives, after intimating that you would rather I not meet her. In retrospect, that’s too much of a coincidence. If I had been thinking clearly, I would have figured it out then.”
“How did you figure it out?”
“I’d rather not tell you.”
“Good, you’re learning.”
“Demo, I don’t understand naze.”
“I have a few reasons, but only one worth sharing with you. You’ve been using me, Mme Aina, to protect you from Mme Chikako and to boost your favor with our master. I don’t have many agents left on the defense minister’s staff, and I didn’t appreciate losing one of them just so you could capture a ship.”
“If you knew, you didn’t have to go along with it.”
“I wouldn’t have unless it suited my purposes. Even so, I couldn’t have you thinking you could just use me as you wish. I use you, Mme Aina, not the other way around.”
“So you expected me to figure it out.”
“Yes, assuming you survived.”
“Assuming I survived? I thought we were on the same side.”
“If you had died, it would be because you weren’t as useful to me as I thought you were, and it would have made you into a martyr for the French population, which also suits my purposes.”
“I can accept that, but I can’t accept what you did to Sena-chan.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You modified her me so that they don’t glow when she’s disobeying orders.”
“I did no such thing. I took a page from your book, Mme Aina. I didn’t order her to lie to you, I asked her. Of course, I wasn’t as nice as you, but I was able to convince her that it was in her best interest… and yours.”
“Teme,” Aina growled. As soon as the word left her mouth, Naomi grabbed the top of Aina’s head and picked her off the ground, slamming her into the wall so that they were eye to eye
“It seems last night’s lesson was lost on you, Mme Aina, so let me make it clear. I am the one in control here, and you live only as long as you remain useful to me. The same goes for all your robot friends. If you disrespect me again, you won’t die alone.”
Aina stared into Naomi’s eyes, building up the courage to challenge her, but ultimately averted her eyes. Naomi released her, and as she fell, she sighed, exhaling a minuscule capsule she had been keeping under her tongue. As it passed through her spiritual energy, the transformation spell Koharu cast was undone, and a knife hurled towards Naomi’s throat.
To Aina’s horror, Naomi caught the handle of the knife as soon as it appeared. Considering how close her mouth had been to Naomi’s throat, Aina estimated that Naomi would only have had a thirteenth of a second to respond. It should have been impossible for any human, including Naomi. Aina was so shocked that her legs gave out as she landed, and she ended up on hands and knees.
“Dou—Doushite?” Aina stammered. “Naomi-sama, the gynoids didn’t have anything to do with this,” She said in a panic. “After you kill me, you will gain nothing by destroying them.”
“I carry through on my threats, Mme Aina, but, and don’t let this go to your head, you impressed me for once. No one has come that close to taking my life in nearly half a century. You might have succeeded if you had concealed your movements better. I cannot consider that attempt disrespectful. Now, is there anything else we need to discuss?”
“Iie. Arigatou for the lesson, Naomi-sama. I’ll see myself out.” As quickly as she could, Aina bolted for the door, fearful that Naomi might change her mind. Once again alone, Naomi put the knife next to one of the many piles of papers on her desk and glanced out the window. The rest of the staff was either eating breakfast or working, leaving the courtyard empty, save for Jin and Kiyoshi. Sliding her window open, she could hear their conversation.
“Jin-san,” Kiyoshi said, “I would like you to join my staff. I have already made an offer to buy you from Akira-dono.”
“Sou ka?” Jin replied. “Nani did goshujin-sama say?”
“He said—and I agree—that the choice should be yours, but I really hope you’ll consider it. It pains me to see you chained by that chip in your neck.”
“I like the chip,” Jin said quietly. “It makes things quieter. Before, I could feel everyone, even the gynoids, all the time. Now I only get mild impressions when I’m close to someone.”
“I know it can be overwhelming, but with the proper training, you can learn to filter them out. Even through the chip, I can tell how powerful you are. You have so much potential, and I’d hate to see you waste it. I also have need of your experience. After this sensou is over, I plan to open an orphanage for newtype children. I understand that you spent some time in an orphanage before coming here. You will be able to relate to the orphans much better than I.”
“I don’t think I can help you with that. I was only in the orphanage for a few weeks, and I had a hard time fitting in.”
“That’s a shame. Still, for someone with your powers, there are many positions within my organization you would excel at.”
“I appreciate the offer, Kiyoshi-sama, but I would like to stay here. It’s my decision, right?”
“Of course it’s your decision, but may I ask naze?”
“I have a tomodachi here who I can’t sense with my newtype powers. She’s the only person I can have a normal ningen relationship with, and I treasure that.”
“You’re a very shy person, aren’t you, Jin-chan?”
“Un,” Jin nodded.
“I can feel it. I’ve met quite a few newtypes, but they’ve all sought the companionship of other newtypes. Even introverts like you prefer other newtypes, as they are easier to communicate with than oldtypes. Demo, the thought of understanding others frightens you. Am I right?”
“I can’t bear knowing when other people think poorly of me. Even now, I want to flee from your disappointment.”
“I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but I didn’t realize there were newtypes who felt that way. The shakai I dream of creating, where everyone is a newtype, would be hard on hito like you. Even though I am disappointed that you won’t be joining me, I’m glad we met, because you helped me identify a mondai that I will need to overcome to achieve my dream. Arigatou, Jin-chan. As promised, I will leave you in Akira-dono’s care.”
“Domo arigatou for understanding, Kiyoshi-sama.”
“Saraba, Jin-chan. We will meet again.” Kiyoshi turned away from her and began walking towards the mansion.
“Sooner than you think,” they both said in unison. Kiyoshi spun to face Jin, a grin on his face. Neither had intended to synchronize their thoughts with the other, and both reacted by giggling nervously in surprise. At first, they each assumed that the thought had been their own, but when they both spoke it aloud, they realized it had somehow slipped into their collective consciousness, and they couldn’t identify from where.