Gate – Jietai Kare No Chi Nite, Kaku Tatakeri - Volume 2 - Chapter 15
In ’’Snow Country’’, by Kawabata Yasunari, there was a line which went:
’’After the long tunnel on the border is a country of snow.’’
It described how the darkness of a tunnel suddenly became a pure white snowscape, and what made it the most famous of all his works was how the author described the scene so vividly that a reader might feel they had been transported into the novel.
But if one wanted to apply that same turn of phrase to the experience of passing through the ’’Gate’’, it would be impossible.
Normally, anyone would be moved if they were walking down Ginza and suddenly saw a sprawling natural landscape before them.
However, there was now an asphalt road on both the Special Region and Ginza exits of the ’’Gate’’, and the ’’Gate’’ itself was surrounded by a concrete dome, so anyone emerging from either side of the gate would only see a featureless gray landscape.
In addition, the extensive security measures established around the ’’Gate’’ including fingerprints, palmprints, biometric and retina scans formed countless layers of barriers before entry, and these troublesome procedures killed any romance the trip might have had.
In addition, every vehicle that went in and out of the Special Region was subjected to a thorough disinfection before being allowed to proceed.
After leaving the concrete dome, one would see several freshly-constructed buildings, so new their paint had not yet had the chance to dry. Around these buildings would be the six-pointed star fort, enwrapping the entire site in a solid defensive fortification.
Outside the star fort, on the surroundings of Arnus Hill, the terrain was reshaped into something that could have come out of a field defensive tactics manual, with communications trenches and all sorts of obstacles, filled with an amount of chain link fences and concrete bunkers that might have been considered ’’paranoid’’. All of these denied entry to anyone who tried to approach.
There was a stretch of trees to the south of Arnus Hill.
This was the site of the Arnus Living Community, where Lelei and the other refugees from Coda Village lived. Although it was surrounded by forest, trees in the Special Region looked almost the same as those in Japan, so probably nobody but a trained botanist could tell the difference.
On the east of the hill, they were building a runway and hangars.
They had already set up a miniature airfield on one corner of the base, and inside one could see them assembling several F-4 Phantom jets.
Probably nobody would be moved any more after passing through the ’’Gate’’, given the extensive development of the surroundings.
In truth, passing through the Gate was less exciting than visiting a certain theme park based off an American mouse. They would probably be very disappointed.
Still, it was not as though the JSDF lacked a sense of fun or adventure, just that to a normal person, a theme park would be much more comfortable than a garrison base like this. To servicemen, who were already used to the sterile, boring environs of a military base, these were just everyday sights, but to civilians it would be like stepping into another world that felt wrong, in a sense.
One could say that now, there was no difference in the scenery on both sides of the ’’Gate’’.
Because of that, to Piña Co Lada, and Bozes Co Palesti, Arnus Hill itself was like another world to them.
Piña had made a request regarding the treaty violation she had asked to personally apologize to Col. Kengun and the other high-ranking officials in person. Itami approved, and he had agreed to take her with him.
That said, Itami did not have time to wait for Piña and her followers to slowly catch up with them on horseback. Therefore, Itami had added another condition: ’’Only you and one other follower are allowed to ride in the HMV with us’’. In truth, Itami was hoping that they would be discouraged and give up.
Piña's response was to assign Bozes and Panache to Italica's security, while Hamilton would liaise with and act as the representative for House Formal. She announced that ’’I will go myself’’ in a determined, confident manner.
However, they could not let their Princess walk alone into the enemy camp. Bozes and Panache were arguing over who would get to accompany her, and Piña finally selected Bozes to follow her. After hurriedly packing their things, they boarded Itami's HMV.
With the HMV's high speeds, they swiftly made it to Arnus.
The scenery there was no longer familiar to Piña and Bozes.
What had once been a bare hill was now a fortress.
A flight of three helicopters on a training mission greeted Piña, as they turned overhead while flying a nap-of-earth course. Their powerful engines created a mighty downwash that seemed like it was going to sweep the surface clean.
3rd Recon drove down the newly-built road among the flying sand and dust.
After passing the OPL (Outpost Picket Line), they entered the territory controlled by the JSDF.
The large space they had just entered was called the FEBA (Forward Edge of the Battle Area), which was used as a training and practice area. At the same time, it was a boneyard for numerous wyvern corpses, as well as where the children of Coda Village's refugees went to work.
The first thing Piña saw was JSDF troops formed up into squads with a flagbearer at their head holding their unit flag high above himself. They were chanting some mysterious magic spell that she couldn't understand while running in the opposite direction of the convoy and swiftly passing by.
’’Model A Ford and a tank full of gas!’’
’’Hand full of pussy and a mouth full of ass!
’’Sound off!’’ ’’One, two!’’
’’Sound off!’’ ’’Three, four!’’
’’Sound off!’’ ’’One, two’’ (Two and a half beat pause) ’’THREE-FOUR!’’
...at least, that was what the arcane incantation sounded like to Piña's ears when the men ran past the convoy.
The speed of the vehicles left them far behind, but before Piña could turn to watch them, the skeletons of several buildings came up by the side of the road.
The JSDF had considered the possibility of street-to-street fighting during a theoretical invasion of the Imperial capital, so they had asked Master Kato to supply blueprints of an average residential building in the city.
They had turned these blueprints into mockups of Imperial buildings, which the soldiers used to practice their urban combat tactics.
Initially, Piña had no idea what these troopers were up to.
In the Special Region, the most common form of attack was having infantry or cavalry charge into close quarters with the enemy while shouting ’’Waaaaagh!’’ or some other bloodcurdling battlecry.
Once contact was made, it was every man for himself. They would strike down the enemy before them with blades, spears or shield bashes. Unlike the barbarian tribes on the frontier, the Imperial Army did not allow their legionaries to fight by themselves. Instead, their centurions would maintain order and rotate out the men on the front line of the formation to the rear as they got tired. Their enemy would fight until they got tired and then they would be cut down, but the Imperial Army would always have their freshest troops in the frontline, while their tired and wounded would recuperate in the rear.
This basic combat tactic remained the same whether they fought on open plains or dense city streets. The commander's job was to raise the men's fighting spirit, train their fighting skills, and lead them to victory over the enemy.
However, the JSDF were different. They did not use shields, nor did they form a dense testudo formation. They would spread out to sprint, halt and drop prone, all the while communicating with hand gestures. They were a closely-knit, well oiled machine that switched between stillness and motion with a fluid grace.
At the same time, they were raising metal staves in all directions. They looked like hedgehogs.
What on earth are they doing? Piña tilted her head as she thought, but could not find an answer.
’’They're all holding staves like Itami. Could it be that all the soldiers in the Jayesdeef are mages? If that's the case, is that the secret of their power?’’
Bozes answered Piña's question with a question of her own, ’’But mages are rare, since magic is a special ability. Then, does that mean the Jayesdeef can produce mages in large quantities?’’
Piña could imagine how those staves could strike down the enemy with beams of searing light. After that, she understood what the Jayesdeef were training for;their movements were calculated to conceal themselves and respond to the enemies' own movements, in order to find their foe and kill them in any environment or surroundings.
Even if they were ambushed from dark corners, even if they were fired on from high windows by snipers, even if they were flanked from both sides by Imperial cavalry, before enemy troops could close the distance to the Jayesdeef, they would be turned into Swiss cheese by their fire-staves.
’’No, these metal staves are not magic. In their language, they are weapons which are called 'guns', or ’’small arms'.’’
From the side, Lelei denied Bozes' answer.
’’The Jayesdeef uses these guns as the basis of their fighting ability. In order to make full use of their guns in combat, they have trained and developed their skills to this level.’’
’’They're weapons? That is to say, they're like our swords or bows?’’
’’Yes. The principle is simple too. They enchant a piece of lead with explosive magic, seal it within a metal tube, and then they let the lead fly free.’’
While inspecting the piles of wyvern corpses on the battlefield, she had found many huge holes in the bodies. A closer inspection of their shattered scales revealed lead chunks and other fragments. Working backward from there, Lelei had deduced the mechanism of firearms by careful analysis of what she had seen, heard and learned.
Piña's vision suddenly blurred as she heard this. ’’So it's not magic, but a weapon? So since humans can make these weapons, they can distribute them to all of their soldiers?’’
’’Exactly. They can arm every soldier with these guns.’’
’’If that's the case, then obviously the way they wage war would be different. No matter how many men with spears or swords we raised, their numbers would be useless in the face of an enemy who fought like this.’’
’’Yes. This is why the Imperial Army and the Coalition Army were defeated.’’
Out of the blue, a Type 96 armored personnel carrier roared up beside them. The rear hatch opened, disgorging a number of fully-armed and equipped men.
The soldiers who rushed out of the vehicle swiftly formed a neat firing line, their weapons pointed at imaginary opponents.
In this moment, Piña could vividly imagine cavalry and infantry being gunned down in their ranks, and she furrowed her brows in anxiety.
’’Too slow! Move your asses faster! Again!’’
In response to their commander's rebuke, the JSDF troopers got back onto the APC. After watching them train like this, Piña could not help but think ’’So there's a huge difference even from their basic fighting styles’’. Unlike the fear which had been deeply engraved into her soul in Italica, she was afraid because she could now understand her opponent, and it frightened her.
She turned to look inside the HMV, and she saw Itami, Kuwabara, Kurata and the others holding the non-magical weapons they called ’’guns’’. If they were weapons, even Piña or Bozes should be able to use them if they got their hands on one of them.
If they could fully understand these weapons and obtain them, then at least future battles would not be one-sided slaughters like what had happened previously. Piña understood the importance of this. Her aim now was to obtain these weapons and pass them on to the best craftsmen she could find, and force them to make more, at any cost.
As though reading Piña's thoughts, Lelei quietly chimed in from the side.
’’That would be pointless.’’
Lelei pointed outside, through another of the vehicle's windows.
On the open ground opposite them, something that looked like a cross between a crazed elephant and a block of metal was thundering toward them. It was a Type 74 Main Battle Tank.
’’When they say 'small arms', they mean that these weapons are small guns. So that means that there should be 'big guns' as well.’’
They looked at the Type 74 as it turned its turret, their eyes going to its 105mm rifled cannon.
’’Does, does that spit fire too?’’
Piña's thoughts were the same as Bozes' murmured words. She realized that this cannon was the so called ’’rod of iron’’ which the refugees of Coda Village told her about.
’’I have not seen it fire myself, but I do not doubt that it can do so.’’
No blacksmith in the Empire could make such a thing. And it was not just the Empire, but nobody on the continent could build things like that. It probably would not make a difference whether she searched among the underground world of the elves or among the master craftsmen of the dwarves. It was a monster from another world, and she could fully believe that it could defeat a Flame Dragon.
Iron pegasi. Iron elephants. What was this JSDF, this force that could produce these things in such great numbers?
Why did we even attack them in the first place?
In response to Piña's quiet mutterings, Lelei replied:
’’The Empire has trod on the griffin's tail.’’
’’You, you... don't talk like it doesn't concern you! The Empire is in a crisis for survival, how can you speak so easily about it?’’
Bozes angrily grabbed Lelei's shoulder, and in return she received an even more hateful answer.
’’I am of the Rurudo Clan. The Empire's well-being has nothing to do with me.’’
The Rurudo were a nomadic people. Although Lelei had settled down near Coda Village, she and her people had never had any particular opinion about the Empire.
Tuka, who had been listening but did not have a chance to cut in, rushed to raise her hand and say, ’’Yes, I'm an Elf!’’
Rory remained silent. She did not need to say anything, and simply smiled.
The Empire had made the Allied Kingdoms bend their knees and ruled over its citizens with force.
The Emperor did not expect his subjects to love, respect, or do anything but fear him.
The Empire's policy of conquest, suppression and rulership through violence had led to the present situation despite its dominance over them, it did not have the loyalty of its subjects.
It was only now that Piña realised the consequences of the Empire's actions.
Piña was brought to Arnus Hill, to a building with a plaque on the front that read ’’Special Region Expeditionary Force Command’’.
She parted ways with Itami and the others here.
Escorted by a uniformed female officer, Piña and Bozes were guided up a flight of steps and into the depths of the building.
Following that, they were brought to a waiting room for a short time.
The waiting room was unappealingly small and it had little in the way of decoration, but the high-backed chairs were very comfortable. The craftsmanship of the table also seemed very exquisite. It must have been the work of a renowned craftsman.
Just as they were starting to get bored of this room, a knocking came from the outside.
Piña and Bozes practically jumped out of their seats.
The man who entered looked like he had just reached middle age.
His black hair was streaked with gray, and he had a crewcut the way Kengun did. However, unlike Kengun, he had a warm smile on his face. He seemed gentle enough, but there was a hint of strength within that kindness.
Piña felt that his green uniform was too sparsely decorated, apart from the set of colored bars on his uniform's breast.
In truth, she found it hard to believe he was the general of an army. After all, in her experience, a high-ranking officer's chest, shoulders and entire body would be plastered with medals, jewels and other decorations. This austere look of his made him seem like a humble footsoldier.
However, since she had arrived here, Piña realized that this army despised meaningless ornamentation and instead valued actual competency. Therefore, she had no doubts about this man.
She immediately understood that the man before her might well be the highest-ranking officer of this otherworldly army, or at least, he was one of them.
Behind him, Kengun stood at attention behind the middle-aged man, whispering into his ear from time to time. Kengun seemed to be a relaxed person who was nevertheless devoted to his job.
There was another man behind Kengun. He had a sly smile on his face, and he had entered with the female JSDF officer. They all wore the same green uniform, though there were differences between them. From Piña's observations, she concluded that the mottled Jayesdeef green uniform must be some sort of camouflage used in combat, and it was different from the single-colored green uniform used for ceremonial purposes.
Finally, Lelei entered the room, standing beside the middle-aged man.
The middle-aged man smiled, and said something to Lelei.
Lelei nodded, and then translated his words to Piña and Bozes: ’’This is the General of the Jayesdeef, His Excellency General Hajama. Following that, Piña also introduced herself and Bozes to this General Hajama. Because Lelei did not fully understand Japanese, she used her native language to fill in the blanks.
’’This is the Imperial Princess Piña Co Lada. Forgive me, but I do not know how they address princesses in the country of Japan.’’
’’Over here, we address them as 'Your Highness'. Then, how do you address members of royalty in this world?’’
’’There are slight differences between men and women, but for ladies, 'francea' will do.’’
After listening to Lelei's advice, Hazama gestured to Piña to take a seat.
’’Please have a seat, francea and Miss Bozes.’’
After that, Hazama and his entourage sat down one by one, and they began speaking, while Lelei served as their translator.
’’I believe we signed a treaty earlier, but what happened to bring Your Highness here in person?’’
’’The truth is, due to carelessness on our part, a misunderstanding occurred. We deeply regret the events which followed, and we hope you will forgive us our trespasses.’’
’’I've already seen the report. Did some accident take place then?’’
’’Yes. I am ashamed that it happened.’’
’’Is that so? Although, we wish for your Highness to continue being an intermediary between us and the Empire. If the events that have caused you such grief require it, we can also reconsider the terms of the treaty.’’
The Japanese attitude to diplomacy was to respond flexibly to minor setbacks. However, this way of thinking was quite problematic for diplomats, in particular Piña, who represented Italica and House Formal. To her, denying the treaty was equivalent to the Jayesdeef attacking them. Therefore, she misinterpreted General Hazama's words as ’’If you don't obey the treaty, we will destroy you’’. The addition of ’’We wish for your Highness to continue being an intermediary between us and the Empire’’ made her feel even more uncomfortable.
’’No, no, actually ’’
The man with the sly smile, who had been sitting to one side all this time, suddenly cut in.
’’I've been briefed by Itami. May I ask why this lady would have cause to strike him?’’
Halfway through Lelei's translation, Piña and Bozes were already sweating bullets.
In the end, they still could not silence Itami. The two of them had tried to cut in at every possible opportunity, offering every lewd temptation they could muster, but ultimately, none of their attempts had worked. Then again, it would have been a miracle if Itami had actually allowed himself to fall victim to a crude seduction by a woman who beat him up one night and then smiled sweetly to him while saying ’’Come oooon~’’ the next morning.
’’I confess, I wanted to laugh when I saw that palmprint and those scratches. Itami even wanted to claim them as ’’injuries sustained in the line of duty’’, but no matter how you see it, they look like the wounds from a quarrel between a couple. Did he do anything distasteful to either of you?’’
The way he smiled while earnestly asking, ’’Did Itami do or say anything to provoke this violence?’’ made Piña think of him as a snake, with all the accompanying negative impressions.
He refused to drop the matter and kept asking questions like, ’’Why did you strike him?’’, ’’Was there a reason you had to strike him?’’ during any lull in the conversation. It was clingy and annoying, to say the least.
He did nothing wrong, yet he was assaulted for no reason. The words of this snake-like man, while not inherently judgmental, sounded like he was condemning them every time he spoke.
Piña could barely squeeze out a response, and in the end, Lelei said something to the man with the sly smile. Following which, the sly smile became a mocking smile, and he introduced himself.
’’I do apologize for not introducing myself. My name is Yanagida, and I am pleased to meet you.’’
To Piña, it sounded like ’’I'm Yanagida, remember it.’’
’’Well then~ looks like all that's left is dinner and going to bed.’’
They had already returned their unused rounds to the ammunition dump, while their rifles were signed back into the armory after the necessary maintenance (Kuribayashi's rifle was a write-off. It had taken irreparable damage when it had been used to block a sword strike, and the armory had signed off on it), and their vehicles were returned to the vehicle pool after cleaning the mud and sand off them. Sunset had come and gone by the time they finished these chores, and there was no time left to eat.
And then, he still had to write and submit reports, and tomorrow he would be going before the National Diet, and after that he still had to wait for further instructions... just the thought was enough to tire Itami out.
In any case, he'd worry about that later. Itami opened his desk and placed various documents into a folder before slotting it back into the depths of his table, but then he spotted a blinking light on the phone he left in there. It would seem he had received an e-mail.
Now who could that be from? While thinking that, he opened the messages and saw that they were from Risa and His Excellency Taro.
The two of them were Itami's otaku comrades. In Taro's case, he proudly used his real name, so those around him jokingly called him ’’His Excellency’’, a title that he sportingly accepted.
Risa seemed to have written something that resembled a report, and then plainly added at the end ’’Please lend me money ♡’’. After that there was a second, and then a third e-mail, which were accounts of tragedy that read like ’’Send reinforcements immediately!’’ and ’’I don't have water, food or gas!’’ However, there was only a day or two between the e-mails, so the situation could not have gotten as bad as she said.
This woman basically treated Itami with his stable income as a public servant as a credit card with no limit. She would impulse-buy figures or other expensive goods, which would then affect her ability to pay her living expenses. He felt that he could not leave her be, but at the same time he also felt that he was just enabling her.
Taro's e-mail, on the other hand, simply asked about how he had been lately, and if he was free for a meet up.
Although he had almost forgotten which season it was during his time in the Special Region, it was almost winter back on Earth. The year was coming to an end, and Itami was thinking that it was about time he started applying for leave to do things. It had been about half a year since the summer doujin event was cancelled, so the winter event would be more crowded than ever before.
If His Excellency Taro is asking to meet me, it's plainly obvious he doesn't want to squeeze in at the doujin market with others, but instead he wants me to buy his titles for him.
Although he had been summoned back to the homeland as a witness, Itami's first priority was to get the catalog for the market.
Just as he was thinking this, the lights-out signal went out, and the lights to his block were cut.
Ah, it's so late that even the cafeteria and canteen are closed by now.
Since there was nothing to be done, Itami took out several cans of food from his desk (combat ration type 1 chicken rice, preserved daikon, assorted vegetables) and opened them.
At this moment, there was a knocking from the door.
When Itami looked outside, he saw nobody there. For a moment he thought someone was pranking him, until he saw Lelei waiting in the darkened hallway.
’’It's pretty late, what's the matter with you?’’
Lelei was able to translate various documents into Japanese, so she had been temporarily employed as a ’’specialist’’ (she was paid for that, of course, albeit in yen). As a result, she could come and go freely within the base. In order to avoid being mistaken for an insomniac wanderer, she wore her ID pass hanging around her neck and came here while carrying her basket.
’’Itami, I'm tired. Send me back to the camp.’’
With that, she tossed her staff aside and sat down. Lelei was not the type to easily show her emotions and she was used to enduring hardship. For her to actually show weakness by saying ’’I'm tired’’ meant that she must have been exhausted. After all, interpreting for Hazama and Piña must have been very draining.
It was hard to speak, so she groaned and shook her head. The way she looked at Itami was like a puppy that had been abandoned by the roadside.
’’Ah~ but I can't drive now, why don't you just sleep here? There's a lot of room here anyway.’’
The camp where she lived was a pretty long distance away from here.
Besides, if he wanted to leave the base at night, he would have to do so in full gear. In addition, he could not move around alone. Therefore, he would have to wake up someone from 3rd Recon to accompany him. Then he would have to request and fill out more forms and book a vehicle and it would be a pain in the ass. That being the case, it would be better to find Lelei a bed so she could sleep here.
Lelei seemed to have trusted everything to Itami, given the way she nodded and murmured before closing her eyes and drifting off to sleep.
Then, time to set the bed.
Every serviceman in the JSDF had a bed that consisted of one mattress, one pillow, five towels (one was for decoration), one pillow case, two bedsheets and one blanket (the abovementioned did not apply when new bed provisions were available).
Since the materials provided were limited, the sleeping arrangements one could produce with them were also limited.
First, he laid down three dust covers. Since a dust cover was roughly half the size of a bed, he had to layer the three towels over each other.
On top of that, he spread two bedsheets. He laid one piece on one side of the pillow and the other at the foot of the bed, then he carefully folded each one under the mattress in a hospital fold, so that the sleeper could tuck themselves into one or both sides and feel like they were wrapped up.
After that, he laid the last two dust covers on the pillow side and the foot of the bed, folding them into another set of hospital corners, with all the care of wrapping a present. Then he laid the pillow down as well as the bedsheet, tucking it in under the mattress. With that, the bed was made.
He laid another blanket over this warm little nest.
After making the bed, Itami lifted Lelei in his arms and laid her down.
Her hair was pure white, and her clear skin was as flawless as porcelain.
People might have mistaken her for a life-size doll. Since Itami had no interest in that sort of thing, he covered her up with the blanket, but at this moment he felt that he could empathize with those people who liked looking at young girls.
As he thought that, Itami frantically shook his head while thinking, ’’No, no! Anyway, it'd be laughable for someone my age to be turned on by a girl like that.’’ He tried to rationalize it away with his psychological defences, but during the year Itami had graduated from high school, there had been a girl in his class who had been pregnant and gave birth to a baby. Thinking about it now, it did not seem impossible.
Lelei said she was 15, but she seemed less developed and curvy compared to a Japanese girl of 15. Lelei did not just look younger than her age, but she seemed more delicate too. Still, when it came to being older than they looked, there were two prime examples right here.
Suddenly, his vision blurred as he was looking at Lelei.
If this went on, he would fall asleep soon.
No, no, if I fell asleep here, somebody will see it and get the wrong idea. I need to get back to my room to sleep, he thought.
Not long ago, Kurata was teasing him by asking, ’’Say, Lieutenant, do you like DFC?’’
Granted, Itami knew he wasn't very good around carnivorous, mature women, but it was ridiculous to have that interpreted into a taste for flat chests. If pressed, Itami would say that breast size was irrelevant, only the shape of the body.
In other words, he did not dare lay a finger on Lelei. Furthermore, waiting unnecessarily beside a sleeping girl would invite unwelcome gossip from people. He had to get out of here right now.
However, it was around this time that his body suddenly started feeling heavy.
After spending all night in combat, being taken prisoner halfway back to base, being marched all the way back to Italica and yet another night without rest, the accumulated fatigue was too much for Itami to resist.
And so, Itami passed out.
In the end, against all of his wishes, Itami ended up falling asleep on Lelei's tummy.
The next day, 11 AM, in front of the concrete dome.
Today's sunshine was exceptionally bright. Itami was standing still, a blank expression on his face.
He was wearing a Type 91 winter jacket, which made sense for Japan's weather, but considering the climate was still warm on this side of the gate, it felt too hot. Because of that, he was only wearing the jacket and had his sleeves rolled up.
Passing officers might have frowned on his poor personal grooming, but after noticing his winter clothing, their expressions turned to wry grins which made him uncomfortable.
The summer uniform was fine on this side of the gate, but anyone going back to Japan, which was in the middle of winter, would have to dress appropriately. The discrepancy in seasons was funny in its own way.
For the most part, everyone everywhere should have a sense of time, but he did not know how it was for people in the Special Region. After all, they did not have clocks, so they might not have the habit of being on time as well.
So I'll wait then, Itami thought as he wiped the sweat from his brow. Eventually, the people he was waiting for finally arrived.
’’Kuribayashi~ Tomita~ you guys took too long!’’
’’Sorry, Lieutenant, we were delayed because we were taking care of things.’’
In contrast to the uniformed Itami, Kuribayashi and Tomita were in civilian clothes.
’’It's so hot out, why're you wearing so much?’’
That had been Tuka, speaking in a soft voice. Lelei gave Itami a long and intense look, while that black-clad Gothic Lolita had followed them, of course.
Rory's huge halberd was wrapped in canvas, but she didn't seem happy with the procedure, so she kept pouting and making little noises of protest.
’’It can't be helped, if you carry that big thing through the ’’Gate’’, you'll violate the Firearms and Blades Regulation Act and the Weapon Possession Act among other laws, and the police will arrest you immediately. They've been really strict on this lately, and it's no laughing matter. In truth, they wanted you to leave it behind before going over.’’
’’And how could I leave behind this proof of Emroy's will?’’
’’That's why I said, you need to bear with this for a bit.’’
For Rory, she had no other choice if she wanted to go to the other side of the ’’Gate’’.
Itami, the commander in charge during the battle with the Flame Dragon, was not the only one being summoned by the Diet. Several other witnesses from the affected refugees had been called too.
Among these ’’affected refugees’’, the presence of Lelei was essential, because she could translate for both sides. Although her services were in high demand recently, almost to the point of abuse, all they could do was ask her to bear with it. General Hazama had even told her in person that after the meeting with the Diet, as compensation for her hard work, he would arrange for her to have fun and relax in Japan before coming back.
Tuka would be coming along because she would be living proof that the Special Region contained other sentient species besides Humans. Her mere existence would answer many questions and to the media, it would have great persuasive power.
As for Rory... well, she looked human enough, and resembled a child. With that black priest's garb on top of that, what if she were mistaken for a cosplaying girl brought along to make up the numbers?
Although demigods were feared and respected in this world's legends (not including the countless stories of luckless others being killed off), it would be troubling if she wanted to demonstrate her ’’divine power’’ in the diet. As a result, Itami was in a dilemma over how to handle her.
But the main reason they had brought her along was because she said, ’’How could you leave me out of something so fun?’’
In addition, Kuribayashi and Tomita were there as their guards.
’’All right~ that should be it. Then, let's move out.’’
Just as Itami said this, a car drove up in front of Itami and stopped there.
Yanagida got out of the passenger seat and raised a hand in greeting.
’’Sorry, sorry, the procedures took a bit more time than anticipated.’’
What was this guy up too? Just as Itami was starting to get annoyed by looking at him, Yanagida opened the rear door of the vehicle, and invited the two people within to alight.
’’Her Imperial Highness Piña Co Lada and her Excellency the Marchioness Bozes Co Palesti. These two will be accompanying you secretly to Japan. Please take care of them.’’
Piña and Bozes got out of the car and lined up in front of Itami.
’’Oi, Yanagida, we never talked about this.’’
’’Ah? Didn't I tell you before? Then it shouldn't be too late to explain to you now, right? I've made the arrangements with Ichigaya Park (a hotel run by the Defense Ministry), and the hotel at Izu is settled too. Go enjoy your three day vacation.’’
’’You... don't you remember how Her Imperial Highness and friend saw to me?’’
’’Oh? The mistake from earlier? Well, just laugh it off, why don't you?’’
’’Well, it doesn't matter, don't worry about it. In any case, Her Imperial Highness will be an important intermediary between our government and theirs, so it was only natural that she requested to come to our country to learn more about it.’’
’’If that's the case, then why is she coming with me?’’
’’Well, you just happen to be headed home, right? Besides, we don't have anyone else who can translate while going sightseeing at the same time.’’
With that, Yanagida drew close to Itami and spoke softly to him while sliding a white envelope into Itami's pocket.
’’Courtesy of General Hazama. Use it to show the girls a good time.’’