Chapter 14

10:22 PM

Although she had wanted to move Aina somewhere more comfortable, Fumiko knew it would be dangerous to do so. If Aina regained consciousness and didn’t realize her fight with Élisabeth was over, she might accidentally attack whoever was nearby. And so, when Aina finally opened her eyes, she was still slumped against the pillar.

Nani happened?” Aina asked, blinking her eyes slowly.

“You got beat,” Fumiko said, walking over to her. “How do you feel?”

Without answering, Aina reached up to caress Fumiko’s cheek. Gently, she pulled Fumiko into a kiss. They were interrupted by a cough, reminding Fumiko that her father was in the room with them. She quickly tried to hide their kiss behind her sleeve, but hesitated to break it off. From where she was sitting, Aina should have been able to see Fumiko’s father, meaning she had initiated the kiss knowing they had an audience.

“Gomen, Ryuunosuke-sama,” Aina apologized after Fumiko pulled away, “I didn’t see you there. Could you give us some privacy?”

“Not in this room,” Ryuunosuke said. He was trying to sound firm, but defeat was obvious in his voice. “Not in front of Omoikane-sama.”

“Oh, didn’t you know?” Aina asked with a small smile on her face. “Omoikane-sama wanted us to get together. He worked behind the scenes to make it happen.”

“T—that’s an uso,” Ryuunosuke stammered. “Nee, Omoikane-sama?” He turned to look at the semi-transparent curtain behind which Omoikane sat, but the manmade kami only stared back at him in silence. “She’s my only daughter,” Ryuunosuke croaked. “How could you do this to me?”

“Come on,” Fumiko whispered, holding out her hand to help Aina up. “Let’s go somewhere we can talk in private.” They walked out of the room, leaving Ryuunosuke to make peace with his god.

“I still don’t wakatta,” Aina said as they walked between rooms, “how could Élisabeth-san beat me so easily?”

“I’ve been thinking about that, and do you remember my theory that you’re supposed to be an overpowered anime villain?” Fumiko ventured.

“I do,” Aina said. And then, a moment later, she grasped the implication behind Fumiko’s words. “You mean Élisabeth-san is the hero?” she laughed.

Ee, and she hit you with her heroic spirit.”

“That’s so absurd,” exclaimed Aina. “Élisabeth-san? Hontou?”

“It’s not like your personality really fits your intended role either,” Fumiko pointed out. “It’s just a theory, but to be safe, perhaps you should try to avoid her.” She stopped in front of a door and slid it open. “Do you want to… stay the night?”

“I don’t think Ryuunosuke-sama would approve,” Aina hesitated.

“He can deal with it. You came to save us, and even though you got beat, it’s because of you that Omoikane-sama was spared. He owes you.”

“I left the mansion without permission,” Aina said, but it was obvious she had no desire to leave.

“And you’ve been gone for hours,” Fumiko smiled. “A few more won’t make it any worse.”

Sept. 19th, U.C. 0053, 2:26 PM

Aina knocked on the door, and without waiting for an answer, slid it part way open and stuck her head inside. After making sure it was safe, she opened the door the rest of the way and escorted Nanami into the science lab. The young goshujin strolled over to one of the tables, sat down, and pulled out her smartphone.

“Get this over with quickly,” she commanded. “I have important business to attend to.”

Ignoring her, Aina closed the door and turned her attention to the science teacher. “You wanted to see me, Tanaka-sensei?”

“Aina-san,” the teacher sighed, “I’ll keep this brief. It’s nothing we haven’t been over before.” He picked a few sheets of paper off his desk and handed them to her. Glancing at them, Aina recognized the essay she had written the previous week. At the top of the first page, the science teacher had written “100” in red ink and circled it, but some sections of the essay were missing. The teacher had cut them from the page with a precision knife and incinerated them. “This is the fifth time, Aina-san,” he said, exasperated. “I’ve given you a lot of leeway because you’re a top student, but this needs to stop.”

“Gomen,” Aina said without sounding sorry at all, “I’m not doing it on purpose. I can’t avoid disclosing classified information if I don’t know that it’s classified. Perhaps if you could provide me a list of topics that are off limits…”

“You know I can’t do that,” Mr. Tanaka said. “You need a class B license or higher to view that list.”

“If I already know things that only a class B license holder should, then surely sharing that list with me would only make me less likely to improperly divulge classified information.”

“That you possess classified knowledge without a license is your crime,” Mr. Tanaka countered. “Giving that list to you would make me a criminal. Besides, if you just stick to the topics covered in class, we won’t need to have this discussion again.”

“Demo, that’s so limiting,” Aina complained, “and I really don’t see the mondai. You’re the only one who reads these essays, and I’m not writing anything you don’t already know.”

“Actually,” Mr. Tanaka said quietly, “sometimes you are. Sometimes you write things I don’t want to know, things that could get me targeted by government agents if they knew I knew them.”

Tatoeba?” Aina pressed. “I’m smart enough not to write down anything too dangerous.”

“Tatoeba, ichi of your papers described uranium enrichment,” said Mr. Tanaka.

“That’s what you’re worried will get you targeted?” Aina laughed. “That’s not even classified information in ‘Murica or the Expedition. There’s a big difference between knowing how uranium is enriched in theory and having the ability to do so.”

“Demo, in a country with Minovsky reactors, there’s only one use for enriched uranium, and that’s as a buki,” Mr. Tanaka said. “One of the few buki so abhorrent that we have banned its production. This goes beyond class B knowledge.”

“I still don’t see the mondai,” Aina said. “Surely that information is covered by a class C license. Even if you didn’t know it, you’re allowed to.”

“Nani makes you so sure that’s covered by class C licenses?” Mr. Tanaka asked.

“Because I have a good idea of what’s covered by the class D license,” Aina answered, sending shudders down Mr. Tanaka’s spine. He didn’t know what the class D physics license covered, but he was sure he didn’t want to know.

“I only hold a class B license,” he admitted. “In the past, teachers at this school have held class C licenses, but when they changed the rules to require class C holders and above to have military protection, that made it harder for them to work anywhere except in a national laboratory.”

“Difficult, but not muri,” Aina said.

“I’m not going to apply for a class C license just for one troublesome student,” Mr. Tanaka snapped. “I don’t want to deal with all the lifestyle changes that entails. Look, Aina-san, I haven’t reported you to the authorities because admitting I’ve been read classified information exposes me to scrutiny as well, but if you keep doing this—”

“Please, don’t make empty threats,” Aina interrupted. “I was taught by Akira-sama. I enjoy goshujin immunity. You’ll only be turning in yourself.” Mr. Tanaka scowled at her, but said nothing, allowing her to continue. “Demo, it’s not like I want to make things difficult for you, Tanaka-sensei. I’ll try to stick to the material covered in class, but I can’t guarantee I’ll be kanpeki. If you feel I’ve put you in a dangerous position, I can ask Nanami-sama to extend goshujin immunity to you.”

“Would you really agree to that, Nanami-sama?” Mr. Tanaka asked.

“Sure, if it will get us out of here,” Nanami answered. “This is taking too long.”

“Immunity can be taken away as easily as it is given,” Mr. Tanaka pointed out.

“Take it or leave it,” Aina said, walking back over to the door. “I’d take it if I were you. Let’s go, Namami-sama.”

Akira-ojisan was a tamagohead, but he wasn’t an accomplished physicist,” Nanami said once they were back in the hallway. “How did you really learn all that stuff?” As she talked, she looked straight ahead. Ever since Aina had forced her to kill her own mother, Nanami had been unable to look Aina in the face. Whether it was due to fear, embarrassment, or a combination of the two, Aina didn’t know, but she found she actually preferred it this way. Nanami had even stopped propositioning her, but aside from those two changes, their relationship, at least outwardly, remained the same.

“A good meido doesn’t reveal her intelligence sources,” Aina answered, “even to her goshujin.”

“I could order you,” Nanami threatened.

“You could,” Aina conceded.

“You know, I recently found out there’s a room in the mansion full of paper books,” Nanami said casually. “Some of them look old, but they’re in good condition. I’m sure there are collectors out there who would pay a lot for them. Since I’m not yet drawing a salary, I want you to look into selling them off.”

“I can look into it, but many, if not most, of those books can only be sold to other goshujin,” Aina said. “They contain information that has been completely banned in this country.”

“Information like how to enrich uranium?” Nanami asked.

“Perhaps,” Aina said. “The advantage of paper books is that they’re not subject to electronic control. From what I understand, Akira-sama ended up with such a large collection because the other goshujin didn’t see their value. He bought the books from them on the cheap, so I doubt you’ll be able to make much money by selling them back.”

Nanami was about to respond, but she was cut off by the sound of footsteps pounding down the hallway. Five students wearing masks over their eyes rounded the corner, and when they saw Aina, they struck random poses. The masks did them little good. They were all from goshujin families, and their fame made them easily recognizable, but even if they weren’t, Aina was very familiar with them. They pulled this on her nearly every day.

Yorokobe, shoujo!” they shouted in unison. “Teki-bu wa kitaaaaaaaa!” With that, they all charged down the hallway towards Aina.

Making sure to be very gentle with the future goshujin, Aina swung her arm in an exaggerated arc, sending out a wave of spiritual energy. When it collided with them, they threw themselves backwards in exaggerated motions, falling to the ground.

Kisama, we’ll get you next time,” their leader swore as Aina and Nanami walked past him. They had almost passed the entire group when one of them pushed himself along the floor, directly in Aina’s path. She glared down at him, daring him to try something, but he just lay on the floor, looking up at her. From his position, Aina could tell he wasn’t looking up their skirts, so she stepped to the left to walk around him, but when she did, he scooted to put himself in her path.

“He wants you to step on him,” Nanami explained, still not looking at Aina, but with a smile on her face.

“I can tell,” Aina said, trying not to let her disgust show. She was trying to decide if it was worth it to kick him over towards the wall, or if he would like that too much. “I really would rather not.”

“Aww, you should humor the poor guy,” Nanami ordered. “I insist.”

After taking a deep breath, Aina slowly, gently, lowered her foot onto the guy’s chest.

Itai!” he cried out, though he sounded like he was enjoying the experience. “I’m being crushed under the weight of seigi!”

“Seigi?” Aina scoffed, lifting her foot back up. “You’ve got the wrong shoujo.” She wanted to get out of this situation as quickly as possible. The way the teki-bu member under her foot was writhing and gyrating was sickening.

“That’s not true,” the leader of the teki-bu said, standing up behind her. “You defeated Naomi, the betrayer. You helped quell the mahou shoujo uprising. There is no greater yuusha in the machi than you.”

“Naomi-sama defended this machi from the Soviets,” Aina said, without turning to face him, “and Élisabeth-san was fighting for what she believed was seigi. Both of them were trying to save the common people from the tyranny of the goshujin. You only think they were evil because you were aligned against them.”

“So you’re saying it was evil to stop them?” The teki-bu leader asked. “That you’re the real villain?”

“I’m saying that labels like good and evil are reductive. I merely sided with one force against another. Seigi was not one of my motivations.”

“Ohh, moral relativism,” the teki-bu leader exclaimed. “That’s ii. That’s very ii. Spoken like a true villain! Perhaps we’ve been mistaken in attacking you this entire time. Aina-dono, would you do us the honor of joining the teki-bu?”

“Let’s go, goshujin-sama,” Aina said, ignoring him. “Your kuruma is waiting.”

“That was cruel of you,” Nanami commented as soon as they were seated in the car. “Without you to antagonize, nani is the teki-bu going to do?”

“Hopefully disband,” Aina replied. Then she realized the car was not taking the planned route back to the mansion. “Nanami-sama, I don’t mean to alarm you, but the kuruma is on the wrong route. Hold on to me, I’ll jump—”

“No need for that,” Nanami interrupted. “We’re heading to the prime minister’s. Didn’t I say I had important business to attend to?”

“Nani kind of business?”

“We’re going to put down a small rebellion.”