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Hidan No Aria - Volume 14 - Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

Chapter One:

-The Kowloon Monk .

-A Fighting Buddha .

-Son Goku .

That girl is well deserving of those magnificent titles of a war god .

「Alright Tohyama . Watch this . 」

Son said as she fixed her gaze on me .

「...I wasn't lying earlier . My Nyoibou can't be followed with the eye . 」

Her right eye shone crimson-!

The laser...!

Even though I'm in Hysteria Mode, an air of nervousness washed over me .

What should I do?

Son leveled her Nyoibou...against me .

The reality of the Nyoibou wasn't anything like the red staff from The Journey to the West . It was a sure-kill laser beam emitted from Son's eye-a directed energy weapon .

-Accelerated 30-fold, my mental processes groped for a solution . A laser is a weapon that requires aiming . With us in the Cadillac Deville, and Son in the Z8, we both sped along Hong Kong Island's Eastern Island Corridor at more than 100 KPH . Firing from a moving vehicle, accuracy drops dramatically .

I could manoeuvre... to dodge, but if she hit us...!

I thought about it but it was no good .

With her bare right foot on the steering wheel, her left on the windscreen, and Green Dragon Crescent Blade in her hand, Son was making adjustments to the cruise control-extremely subtle adjustments .

As the effect of Riko's oil slick diminished, the Z8 that slid and began to drift due to inertia recovered and resumed the chase .

In terms of mobility, the Cadillac and Z8 were as unlike as a tortoise and a swallow, and that laser is a gun that doesn't require a hand to pull the trigger . Mechanically speaking, she only has to be able to see her enemy in order to hit them .

Son with be able to hit me no matter how much I waggle the car .

Above her head Golden Ring Crown glimmered with an angelic halo of light that intensified-

In the middle of this chaotic car chase, I took out my butterfly knife from a small pocket...and at some point, I saw the mysterious scarlet light flash, but there was no time to think about that .

Then Riko who had the leeway to look around cried:「So that's the legendary laser, huh!?」, her voice rising at the end as she was slightly scorched by the beam .

Then with two blades and two guns-

「Kinji is my prey! I will not let you kill him!」

-*Bang!* *Bang!*

With a Walther P99 in either hand she fired, and amidst the ringing of the shots threw two dual edged tactical knives at Son .

「Hee Hee!」

Son only laughed- She took one bullet on the shoulder of her bulletproof uniform, blocked the other with the blade of her sword, and performed 2 half somersaults to dodge the knives- That was how she received and avoided the attack .

From the backseat Riko had fired four attacks, all of them with the same purpose .

-The eye, huh?

The right eye that had a laser she could fire towards Riko, the criminal .

This attack had the same intent to kill as when she attacked me . But Son looked rather pleased with that fact as she landed with her feet on the wheel and dashboard . Son had driven the car right up behind us .

「What an amazing woman! You remind me of Wang Yuanji​!1」

Son aimed her blade to cut Riko's wrists . With two clangs, both Riko's Walther P99's were flicked from her hands causing a gasp of surprise . Taken slightly aback, Riko's hands rustled inside her modified uniform, and she pushed out both her arms toward Son . From both arms there was a *Click!* .

Sleeve guns!

Rails were concealed in her long sleeves, and spring-action pushed two new Walthers into her hands . Without taking the time to reload, she instantly aimed and fired, catching Son off guard .

In rapid response Son avoided the first shot that flew past her right eye by tilting her head to the side-

「-!」

Riko's second shot was aimed not at the eye, but the carotid artery . After 5 successive attacks toward her eye, it was a sudden shift to her neck-Son had to move her head to the side .

「Kyaa!」

Shirayuki gave a small shriek as Son landed with a *Thump!* on the front of the Z8 .

「...」

But I realised it .

This is the end, isn't it?

「-Shirayuki, there are 13 bullets left . 」

I said as I drove with one hand on the wood steering wheel and with the other passed my Beretta to Shirayuki in the passenger seat .

Shirayuki didn't have a weapon . Back in the shop she had reclaimed Irokaneayame and her chain and sickle but abandoned her M60 when it ran out of bullets .

By nature, loaning your gun out for someone else to fire is not a good idea... but right now I won't quibble over best practices .

Just a little further!

As I ground my teeth-there was a *Bam!*

Son back-flipped over the windscreen and landed in the driver's seat of the Z8 .

Then with a *Pffft!* Kou spat a Walther bullet out of her mouth .

Kou had bitten Riko's second bullet .

「That's the first time I've done that . I must thank you . I saw a picture of you doing it . And you are Mine Riko, Lupin the 4th? I thought as much of an I . U . drop-out . 」

I had done the same thing about 6 months previously-my technique: Bite . But... the effect it had on me was different, causing me to pass out for about a minute .

She didn't even swoon for a moment . She must be tougher than I am- and I realised it . Then an obvious change came over her .

...Her right eye...

The red light in her eye vanished, along with Golden Ring Crown around her head .

Perhaps charging and firing her laser requires conscious effort, and having her concentration broken for a moment cancelled it . In that case, it means-

Son isn't trying to reactivate it .

From a poke to the forehead to a nuclear missile, every kind of attack has preparatory protocols . If those are not met, the attack will fail .

No matter how deadly an insta-kill technique is, using it like an idiot will reveal all of its protocols and weakness, won't it? Not using it recklessly is prudent of this cute Fighting Buddha .

Behind me, addressing the one I had called 'cute':

「You know me- So don't call me 'the 4th', you pipsqueak!」

Riko snapped and turned the driver's wheel with a Kung-Fu palm heel strike, totally disregarding the fact that I was the one driving .

With a *Screech!*, the side of the Cadillac Deville collided with the Z8 . Hit by the Deville, the Z8 scraped the highway guardrail sending up a shower of sparks .

「-Don't call me that, shorty-Riko!」

Rebounding from the rail, the Z8's engine roared . With a high pitch squeal from the engine, the mass of the car accelerated and regained its speed as the side impacted our vehicle . Whining like a brat, even the Z8 seemed offended .

「I'm 147cm, you're not even 140!」

「I only need another 2cm!」

*Bam!* *Vrrrrooooom!*- *Bam!*

Riko and Son are knocking the cars together at speeds upward of 100 KPH .

Doesn't this mean... these two are pretty much the same?

Ultimately though, if you're going to be an idiot and ram another car it is an advantage to have a sturdy American model . Ours is 1 . 5 times as heavy .

Riko was cleverly antagonising our enemy so that she couldn't shoot her laser .

Taking advantage of the turn of battle in our favour, Shirayuki leaned forward-

「Kin-chan, please excuse me!」

*Bang!* *Bang!* *Bang!*

Shirayuki was firing the Beretta she held in both hands .

She had chosen a light machine gun because she was not very good with limited ammunition..., but with her earnest personality she took careful aim at Son .

Thanks to that, Son's movements were somewhat disrupted-

Using that opening, I drew my Desert Eagle .

「 You're going to use your regular . 50AE rounds?」

Shirayuki and Riko asked, and I nodded my head slightly as I pulled the trigger and fired . With a roar like a cannon, large bullet holes open up on the Z8's frame .

Even if I am in Hysteria Mode, my enemy is Son . Managing the enormous recoil of the gun while shooting one-handed and driving with the other makes accurate shooting impossible .

But my target is the Z8 . To take down a general you must first take down his horse .

「Kiii!」

Realising that I was targeting the Z8, Son quickly downshifted-

Putting the Z8 in cruise once more, Son brought it up next to the Deville and swatted back two DE bullets using Green Dragon Crescent Blade like a tennis racquet . Sparks flew from the metal blade as she spun it like propeller in one hand-

Her cut-off sailor suit snapping in the wind, she called:

「You are being quite difficult, Tohyama!」

-Her distance from the Deville grew rapidly as the driver-less Z8 swerved wildly as it kept pace . She should be drifting further from us, but no, she must be controlling it . She must be maintaining a safe distance .

As I reached that conclusion, Son turned to face me and my DE, striking out with her leg and deflecting the muzzle with her toes . Pointing it at Riko .

「Oi!」

Riko thrust my arm away from her, and I re-sighted on Son-

「Ahaha!」

With a delighted laugh, Son moved to stand one-legged on my gun arm . From there, her skirt flared as she spun like a top and hit me in the head with her tail . Furthermore, she aimed Green Dragon Crescent Blade at Riko's neck . She tried to lay flat and tangle the blade in her hair, but she was too late .

With a *Bang!*, Shirayuki fired at point-blank range with the Beretta, and Son danced away to avoid the bullet .

How long is this battle going to go on if we can't hit her at this range?

As I suspected, we are at a disadvantage in a close-range battle .

Even in Hysteria Mode, I was unable to knock Son out . If I had to guess whether I'd win or lose that fight, I'd have to say I'd lose . But if we separate I'll be hit by the laser .

What the heck should I do...!?

「「That brat . 」」

Shouting in perfect sync, Son flew at Riko taking up a position for an Aru=Kata battle, her roundhouse knocking Riko into the backseat .

Falling, Riko pulled something from her chest . It was the blue rosary that she stole from Vlad at Koumeikan Mansion . It's glowing .

I just saw my butterfly knife do the same . It's as if they are united in the fight against Son .

「-Out of ammo!」

Shirayuki said, tossing the Beretta onto the seat .

As soon as Son was at zero range, smoothed her uniform and drew Irokaneyame .

As soon as Son saw that... She rested her foot on the Deville's steering wheel and turned it away .

「Hya!」

Pulling in Green Dragon Crescent Blade, she leapt back hugging her knees and turning countless times before finally settling in the driver's seat of the Z8 with a *Thump!* .

Do you... hate Irokaneyame that much?

Speaking of that, back when we fought in the shop she showed hatred for it . It wasn't merely dislike, but what could it be?

But...

Rudely reminded where I was, I was unable to dwell on it too deeply .

Running along the coastal highway, we are in North Point where I was lost yesterday and close to the place where I was helped . I owe those people a debt of gratitude for the food and lodging . There's absolutely no way I can drag those people into this . If we go a bit further, there's an exit ahead . After the exit, I'll shift over to another highway . After I made a sharp turn onto that highway, I'll...

「...A-an APC...!」

Shirayuki gasped, dumbstruck by the Saracen coming up the road from the other direction .

The girl in the rotating gun turret and the girl in the hatch in front of it-

They had the same black twin tails . The same face . Koko sisters .

So, they anticipated me, huh?

As soon as I began a manouvre to avoid them-

*Ratatatatata*!

The Koko fired the M1919 machine gun .

Because the two cars are so close, she can't hit us, but now I can't exit the highway . Side by side, we flew past the slow APC together-

I can escape down the other side's exit, but that would put me in North Point . There's absolutely no way I can drag civilians into this;I can't expose them to the APC's machine gun fire . So, I'll have to keep going on this multi-level highway . There's no other choice .

But the highway...

I realised it . I clicked my tongue at the 'Under Construction' sign as the Z8 dodged the cones blocking off the road . Our two cars ran side by side on the new high-speed road-

-where the road ran out .

The bridge-like section of the highway was still being built . In fact, it was the same raised highway that Kou and I had met under in the porridge shop . In other words, a dead end, and the Koko had the exit covered .

In front of me, I saw a ramp-like road facing Victoria Bay .

「Uhh...!」

「Whaa...!?」

Shirayuki and Riko looked worried .

Stealing a glance toward the Z8 next to us, I saw Son grinning back .

...So it's a chicken race, is it? I don't really care for things like this .

But if I slam on the brakes... Son will stop too;then it will turn into an unfavourable close quarters battle .

Shirayuki turned her head back, and checking my rear-view mirror, I saw the Saracen closing .

We're caught like mice in a trap .

What to do, what to do, Kinji?

In response to my own question,

「Kinji, faster!」

Riko the adrenaline junkie screamed .

... If I accelerate, there's a 100% chance we'll splash into the ocean .

In films, such a situation might merely end in a drowning, but hitting the water at over 100 KPH- it becomes harder than concrete . But I don't have an alternative . I'll trust Riko .

「Don't step on the brake until we get to the end of the road, floor the accelerator until then . 」

Grumbling, I opened the Cadillac's throttle wide . The Z8 responded to our increased speed with an increased whine of its engine .

「Teehee! This is fun! You guys are great!」

The Z8's 8-cylinder engine roared as Son kept pace with us . The end of the highway approaching, we both sped ahead instead .

This is crazy!

Bringing the Saracen to an astonished halt, the Koko sisters' jaws dropped as they watched .

Now...

We're...

Out of road...!

Even if I slammed on the brakes now, we wouldn't be able to stop . Son and the rest of us are going to fall, for sure .

Then Riko gently fluffed her beautiful blonde hair and-

「Hang on!」

She sat on top of the back of the seat between Shirayuki and I . Joyfully, Riko slipped her thighs down next to our faces- *Rustle!* *Rustle!*

*********************************

*********************************

Wearing cherry decorated socks under her red slip-on shoes, Riko slipped her feet beneath the seat belts . Then undoing the hidden metal clip that held the sailor suit closed in the rear,

「Kinji, now-hit the brakes!」

Riko yelled, and at the same time I stomped on the brake pedal, Riko pulled the ribbon of her uniform free .

-*Flap!* *Flap!* *Flap!* *Flap!*

Her frilly uniform instantly coming apart became a para-glider . Pulling the break cord as inertia continued forward, Riko was jolted backward, falling into the rear seat .

The para-glider caught the air rushing past the car, and with a *Whoosh!* it spread out behind .

With an ear-splitting squeal of the brakes as we decelerated rapidly, the Z8 shot forward, and I saw Shirayuki toss something toward the Z8 . From the sudden braking manouvre, all the car's airbags deployed .

S-so that was the plan...!?

Riko used both the wheel brakes and the chute . In short, she deployed the parachute behind the car, slowing us with the air drag .

In application, the method is very efficient and is used by drag racers, space shuttles, and even fighter jets . Thanks to the fact that the car's brakes were employed as well, the substantial braking distance required was shortened-

With the front wheels sticking over the edge of the highway... the car slowed to a halt, and we came to a stop .

「Son...!」

Pushing aside the airbags, I lifted my head .

「...Y-you did it, somehow . Thank you, Kin-chan . 」

Within the passenger side side air bag, Shirayuki gave a wry laugh . Turning her smile sideways, I saw Shirayuki's secondary weapon, the sickle thrust into the car door . At the other end of the long chain that reached down past the edge of the road there was a steel ball...

Looking down from the precariously perched car, Son held on to the metal counterweight at the end of the chain .

「...Hmph!」

As our eyes me, Son angrily turned her face the opposite way .

The Z8 continued to fall onto the concrete tetrapod wave breakers, the front half underwater, as the back half blazed . If Son had fallen as well, her life would have been in danger .

As Shirayuki exited the Cadillac keeping her knees together in a dignified manner, I said:

「Amazing, Shirayuki! Even though whether Son can be considered human or not is unclear... you still found a way to avoid breaking Butei Law!」

Her long black hair was dreadfully ruffled by the rush of wind, so I smoothed it down as I stroked her head .

「Yes...I'm very happy to have been of service... to you...」

What's this? I smiled back at her absent-minded slip of calling me by a pronoun instead of nickname .

「What about Riko? What about Riko~? She was amazing wasn't she~?」

Riko suddenly appeared on my left . Wearing her honey-coloured underwear .

「Haaa!」

Using her three-fingered spear hand (a Karate technique where you stab at both your opponent's eyes with the fingers of your hand extended as if you are symbolising the number three), Shirayuki thrust at Riko who danced away lightly only to cling to me . Then she began to purr . As per usual, Riko pushed things even father and began rubbing up against me .

「Oh, thanks to you we're saved! You're a true genius . 」

I said to Riko as I stroked her head with my left hand .

「Hmmmm? You have such a gentle touch! Riko could just melt...」

Moaning, Riko looked up to me with moist eyes .

「Gentle, am I? If that is the case, it is because of who it is . If my hands were gentle... wasn't it because it was you?」

I said .

「Mmmmmm... . 」

Losing all strength, a contented sigh escaped her lips... At the same moment, I rested a finger on the back of Shirayuki's uniform .

「Hyaa!」

Completely oblivious to the seductive words I had spoken, Shirayuki's heart beat a faster rhythm, and I used my finger to trace out the message『Shirayuki is the best』 . Each of my arms wrapped about their waists, I looked back and forth between them-

Shirayuki's grinning expression said『Yes, right!』, Riko looked like a cat with catnip, and they both looked happy and contented . I can't let this go too far . If they were to fight, it would be a problem . Thinking that, I looked toward the edge of the highway...

「When I caught a bullet in my teeth it made them a bit loose . You should take care of them . 」

With a grunt, Son heaved herself up using her arms, legs, and tail .

「... I don't like talking about loose teeth, but I thought that, as my opponent, you should know . It must be due the violent impact, do you think?」

I gave this warning to Son... and seemingly having accepted that she had lost the fight, she came to her feet in one push . Arms crossed in front of her non-existent chest, she said:

「Don't get carried away . You and I are even . 」

Son scowled at me . Across from her, Shirayuki and Riko glared daggers back .

Understanding Son's denial, I merely replied:

「Ah, I understand . 」

In my fights with Son, the first time on the Kagataka Family Mansion roof, my stupid little brother attacked, and we ran away in defeat . I had merely evened the score . To decide things, we need another fight .

「What now then? Do you want to settle this now? I'm more than ready, but I don't think the Koko will let me finish it . 」

If I looked over my shoulder to where Son had gestured, I'd see the APC parked a slight distance away on the highway .

At a glance, I understood the situation perfectly . We were outside the effective range of handguns, while within that of the M1919 machine gun . Our eyes and theirs having met each other's eyes, the four of them piled out of the APC...

For some reason, they struck a unique pose on the roadway .

*Pow!* *Pow!* *Pow!* *Pow!*

Facing us, they each took up a Chinese Martial Art stance .

「One, two, three, Four Symbol Team Formation!」

Why did you shout that at the same time? What was that...?

It was cute though .

「Was that gymnastics?」

Seeing my puzzled expression, Son turned and spoke .

「Not exactly...They're the Azure Dragon, White Tiger, Vermillion Bird, and Black Tortoise, respectively2 . 」

Son pointed at each of the Koko in turn .

...?

...Ahhh, now that you say it, they do like they are imitating some kind of serpent, cat, bird, and turtle .

「Wh-why?」

「They're threatening you . Scary, right?」

After Son's smug explanation, Shirayuki, Riko, and I all looked back at them...

Watching them wobble slightly as they strove to maintain the difficult gymnastic-like posture, lacking any kind of stealth, and we made the appropriate movements to indicate:『It's scary』 .

Satisfied with that, they grinned like cats and dispersed, each quickly entered the armoured vehicle through different hatches .

「...」

After a brief moment of silence, I turned back to Son to ask about the Koko .

「Now what? Are we going to fight? I want a breather, but I get the feeling that there are two S-Rank Butei that won't let me . 」

I said, parroting Son's earlier words as we returned to the previous topic .

「...?」

Son looked questioningly at the chest of her sailor suit...

A bright red dot floated there .

A laser sight from a sniper rifle .

After making sure Son had seen it, the dot vanished .

That has to be Reki . So...

「Those are armour piercing bullets . 」

-*Whoom!* Whoooom!*-

With the intermittent sound of jet propulsion, Aria appeared from beneath the raised highway in her YHS/01 hover skirt . Her pink twintails fluttering softly, she landed a short distance from Son... eyes blazing .

First, she looked at me and the flowers I held in my hands, then the Saracen . Isn't that order strange?

Just in case, I sent a message to Aria as I was fighting, but...I wonder if not contacting her would have been better, as I begin to consider my personal safety .

Aria had followed us in our car chase . She had carried Reki in her arms, and after letting her down somewhere amidst the buildings, had flown out over the ocean-but wouldn't it have been better for a high school age flower to wear spats as she flies through the sky? I thought so all the way back on the first day we met after Riko had sabotaged my bicycle .

「First, I'll use an exploding bullet underneath the APC to flip it over . Next, I'll open a wind hole in the three of you . I'll leave Son Goku to you, Reki . 」

Combat loading her Governments with Butei bullets, Aria entered Total Executioner mode .

With a forced laugh, I caught the sulking Son's eye and gave her a silent warning .

It's strange for Reki to use a laser sight . That must mean there is some kind of message .

Reki usually shoots her opponents without warning . When we fought Patra at Daiba and the enemy was also a sniper, she aimed between the eyes .

it was a warning to surrender...『If a person is shot in the heart, it is rare, but they may reflexively counterattack』, Reki's explanation of the consequences of aiming off-target came to mind . But the laser had still been in the middle of Son's chest . Reki told me the reason when she explained her actions in the fight with G3 . In other words, she was saying 『we should do with Son what we did with G3』 .

What are you going to do, Son?

You might be fast enough to dodge or stop a bullet with your teeth, but that was when your opponent had a handgun . Reki is a sniper . Besides the countless number of buildings in Hong Kong, there are countless numbers of windows from which she can draw a bead on you . Wouldn't it be correct to say that say that you now know she could kill you?

I had seen Reki snipe G3 from ultra-long range where she had to compensate for the distance between firing and impact . If a laser sight was visible, however, it was obvious that there was practically no distance between the sniper and the target .

It went without saying that her Nagoya Girl's Butei High uniform could handle Aria's bullets... but Reki's are armour piercing . Lat month the government ban on them was lifted .

(If I were Son...)

Unsurprisingly...

...*Sparkle!*...*Sparkle!*...

「-This is what you wanted to see? Alright then, watch this!」

Golden particles swirled above Son's head .

Golden Ring Crown . She plans to use her laser .

She turned her shining red eye toward Aria . Meanwhile, as if in response to Aria's appearance, 2 of the Koko appeared from the Saracen-

Using the one as a tripod, the other placed a single barreled weapon atop her . It was a Chinese Military Type 85 rocket launcher-a surface-to-surface rocket launcher with a maximum speed of 372 metres per second . How can you let something like that get out, Chinese Military?

The Koko took aim at me, Shirayuki, and Riko .

We might be at a greater range, but this is a multiple line of fire scenario . A situation has developed where multiple weapons are pointed at each other, and movement is difficult . It reminded me of the fight with the Kagataka yakuza .

(With Son as the third party... will people start firing...?)

My stomach clenched-

「...?」

The Hong Kong citizenry was looking out from windows and trees they had climbed, and a large number of them...one by one, snapped to a respectful posture . On their knees, they hurriedly prostrated themselves .

Then with a *Clip!* *Clop!* *Clip!* *Clop!*-

The out of place sound of horse hooves was heard .

Ascending the highway at a gallop...

Uhhhh... . is this... some kind of illusion?

「A-a horse?」

My neighbor Shirayuki asked . My eyes have to be tricking me . It's a white horse .

Seated atop the white horse was an individual who wore the brightly embroidered clothing of a Han Dynasty civil official of the Imperial Court...

-Seigen Shokatsu, Rampan's ambassador .

「...Tch! What a lame entrance . 」

Son tutted, as the white horse slowed from a gallop to a walk- jaunting past the Koko and coming to a stop between the Saracen and the Deville .

The thin bodied man-though he seemed even thinner than before- bowed toward us with a smile on his face, before turning his horse to face the Koko . Then, maintaining a thin smile under her round glasses:

「It is time for this game of tag to be over, Koko . 」

He said in an angry voice, pointing a colourful war fan at them .

Does this... smiling face mean that you are angry?

His incredibly narrow expression is hard to read, it must be some kind of poker face, right?

「He isn't carrying any weapons . He only has a horse . 」

I heard Riko say at a volume I could just make out . She had made the same comparison that I did and had passed her judgement along .

Shokatsu had come as an unarmed horseman . If that's the case... then there's something we don't know . He must be hiding some kind of power . We might as well give up on taking him hostage now .

With that in mind, Shokatsu turned and bowed everyone... they must all be members of Rampan . Amazing!

Then...

「...」

Looking like children caught in some mischief, the Koko exited the armoured car . It seems that Shokatsu holds some rank within Rampan .

Even Aria, reading the mood relaxed her guns, pointing the muzzles into the air, and Son deactivated her laser . In the dispute between Rampan and Baskerville- we have been granted a respite . For the time being, at least .

「You and your sisters were not assigned a fighting role . The rules of Far East Warfare will not be broken, and decision of Rampan will be respected . Taking Son on your own accord and challenging Baskerville is a grave offense . Do you wish me to report this officially to Shanghai Headquarters?」

Then, with a sigh, he continued .

「Your rank will fall again, and how much will it cost to raise it? Well, that all depends on my report...」

He shook his head from side to side .

Scolded the, Koko,

「Idiooot!」「Tattletale!」「Eunuch bachelor!」「Fathead!」

Unanimously reviled Shokatsu, kicking the Saracen . Although violently angry... they did not defy Shokatsu . They merely ranted and made excuses .

Back at OZONE in the ICC building Riko had told me about this...

Rampan is an organisation with rank and structured with a hierarchy . Status within the organisation can be bought with contributions to the monetarily fixated cooperative .

Back when they tried to hijack the bullet train, the Koko had been after Japanese Treasury gold . When Aria and I had been kidnapped to China, it seems that we were pawns in the plans for the heist .

In that kind of organisation, it seems that in terms of authority- Shokatsu is the Koko's superior . Judging by appearances, that disparity of rank is the reason for the Koko's sour expressions .

Zhuge Liang defeated Cao Cao the Battle of Red Cliffs... and it seems that even today their descendant, Shokatsu, still manages to get the better of the Koko . 3

Such cannot be said for Baskerville's leadership...It seems that even within Rampan, the reign of authority is not absolute . That must be due to the vast number of people involved . Even to an outsider, the situation is awkward . Kou/Son is caught in the middle of the two factions' squabbles-the War Hawks, Koko and the Dove, Shokatsu .

「Son . That is enough . It is time for you to rest . 」

From inside his robes, Shokatsu... Extracted an Egyptian style key .

Seeing what it was, Son

「Tch! It's just like the Koko said . You're a coward who runs away . 」

Unmindful of the length of her skirt, Son plopped down on the ground, sitting cross-legged, with a *Thump!*

...Amazing...!

He controlled the situation using only words . I guess that someone in such a high position is able to do that... fleetingly mention money to deal with the situation . He managed to silence the Koko, then deal with their ally, Son, in an adept manner . Then, as a clincher, her withdrew the key .

I'm guessing from its appearance, that's『Patra's Key』 . It's smaller than I imagined it would be .

「-Kinji Tohyama . 」

Shokatsu called my name softly . Descending from his horse, he held his hands pressed together in front of his chest, like one respectfully greeting a god . Yes, every action the very picture of a villain .

「Kou informed me of your peace proposal . In principal, I am of the same mind . Direct confrontation with Baskerville would be far too costly . 」

Not knowing about my plan, Aria stared bewildered by Shokatsu remark .

「Besides which, there is your cordial relations with the residents of North Point . I too have no wish to see them involved in this matter . Such is the doctrine of Far East Warfare . 」

Shokatsu's already thin eyes narrowed ever further as he deepened his unfailing smile .

Hi friendly manner... isn't bad . But I know this kind of person can strike with a smile on their face . Sayonaki is a good example . I didn't miss the implication about holding the civilians hostage .

「If you heard it from Kou, then you know that if negotiations break down- there would have to be some kind of decisive battle . I'm sure that you already know, but I owe a debt to the people of North Point . In any case, we have to change our location . 」

I truly didn't want to cause anyone in North Point trouble-but there was another reason . With each passing moment, the flow of blood to my core lessened . I'm coming up on my time limit, and my ability to keep fighting is rapidly decreasing .

「But of course . Merely standing around talking has the poor makings of a negotiation . 」

Shokatsu nodded deeply .

「Therefore, we wish to invite all of Baskerville to our Hong Kong Headquarters-Rampan Castle . We knew of your arrival in Hong Kong far in advance, and so preparation to so preparation to receive you as most honoured guests are being arranged . 」

「... Isn't is it a bit strange for us to be whisked away to our enemy's base?」

「If you do not enter the tiger's den, you cannot obtain the tiger's cub, Tohyama-san . I would also offer my humblest apologies for the Koko's many indiscretions . 」

「Yaaay! Rampan Castle! Let's go, Ki-kun!」

Having visited Rampan Castle in her days at I . U . , Riko shouted her enthusiasm in her golden underwear .

「Riko loooooves it! Rampan Castle! Rampan Castle! Banzaaaaai! Ban-meow!」

I was still in Hysteria Mode, so I understood... Riko was doing this on purpose . We had no idea where their base was, and this was a chance to be taken there .

「By all means, please come . You will allow me this honour, will you not?」

「You like your jokes, don't you? Are you planning to use me like your ancestor used Liu Bei?」

The enemy's base...

But if we fail to reach an agreement, there's no guessing what might happen .

I can't trust Shokatsu immediately, but he is definitely trying to negotiate . Besides, with all of Baskerville together, if things go wrong, we should be able to escape .

Also... There's the fact that he rode into this conflict by himself and unarmed . Make no mistake, he has some kind of ace up his sleeve . It would be wise to avoid provoking him . So...

「Alright . We'll go . Is everyone fine with that?」

When I said that, Riko flew to hug me joyfully, while on my other side, Shirayuki nodded her assent as she embraced me .

Meanwhile, Aria twirled her handguns and placed them snugly in the leg holsters underneath her skirt in a way that indicated no objection . Then taking large strides...

「Fine by me, Kinji . By the way, it must be nice riiiiight!? Holding a flower in each hand!?」

*Bam!* *Ba-Bam!*

She kicked me, and standing on my solar plexus, delivered another two-step kick...!

I would have been knocked off of the highway by the force of her kick but for Riko and Shirayuki holding on to me .

「What have you done to Kin-chan!? Men like big breasts!」

「That's right! You shouldn't snap on other people just because you don't have any, Aria!」

「Huuuh! What I was thinking had nothing to do with brea-aaaaahhhh!」

The last was Aria, whose voice became strained as Shirayuki and Riko grabbed her, tag-teaming, and struck her in the throat .

*Ka-Boom!*

That's a pretty dangerous angle where the back of her head could hit the road . Looking on Koko and Son's expressions said:『Uh... Is it normal for Baskerville to have these kinds of serious fights?』

It is . I'm really sorry about this .

「My! It will be a distinct honour to host the Crouching Dragon and Phoenix Chick at once . 」

Shokatsu only grinned as he ignored the squabble...

「What's... 'Crouching Dragon and Phoenix Chick'?」

「It refers to a dragon at rest and a young Firebird . It's the name the Hong Kong Police is using to distinguish you and Aria-san . 」

A sleepy dragon and cheeping phoenix...

There might be no particular reason behind it .

「We've been marked by the Hong Kong Police?」

「That is correct . We have many friends within the department . 」

That would explain why the Koko can ride around in Hong Kong Police armoured cars so openly . It is a huge organisation with over 1 million members, after all .

「You are currently on the Hong Kong Butei list of 'persons of some interest' . More commonly, you are known as Enable and Quadler . You are actually ranked equal to Son in terms of fighting strength... I will long remember this place as the one where I met such famous celebrities . 」

As I listened the words from Shokatsu that I didn't want to hear...

Her composure restored, Aria said:

「How about that rating, Kinji? Being classed by the world as a dangerous character who fights non-humans? Tell me how do you like that?」

She spoke as if we were continuing our huge fight in OZONE .

Yes . Not only Japan( because of me), the United Kingdom (due to Aria), and the United States (due to G3), but now I've attracted attention in Hong Kong . I can't laugh at Ranbyou anymore .

Shokatsu stepped closer to me as I wallowed in my misery .

「...If I may, I would like to ask a question . 」

Smiling in amusement for some reason, Shokatsu peered at my face . He looked at me with intense interest, like someone might stare at an entertainer from Japan .

「To start, who the hell are you?」

What a way for him to ask the rudest question .

「-I'm a senior high school student . My grades are slightly below average, and I attend a violent school . 」

I adjusted the collar of my blazer, as I answered .

At least that was what I want to be . Honestly...

(END)

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1 . Wang Yuanji (217-268) was the wife of Sima Zhao, a regent of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China . She became the empress dowager during the reign of her son Sima Yan, who ended the Wei regime and founded the Jin dynasty . -Wikipedia

2 . This is a reference to 'The Four Symbols' of Chinese Cosmogony and the four primary constellations representing the four mythological beasts said to rule over the cardinal direction of the sky . Link .

3 . Reference to a famous battle of the Three Kingdoms era . Zhuge Liang was a strategist that helped Liu Bei, one of the leaders of the Three Kingdoms manage to convince Sun Quan (another state leader) to join forces with him against the third leader, Cao Cao's growing power . He did so despite the fact that their combined forces were still outnumbered by Cao Cao, and the allies' subsequent victory gave them control of the Yangtze river valley region and a tactical position for defence that helped secure Liu Bei's Shu Han dynasty, and Sun Quan's Eastern Wu .

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Translator's Notes:

Okay, technically the in-text reference are TL Notes, but I felt that this chapter needed a bit more to cover the slightly spoiler-y note revealing Shokatsu's appearance . I also wanted to make a few points but didn't want to handle them in-text and break up the flow of reading too much .

In the chapter title and text, the single word given as 'Crouching Dragon/Phoenix Chick' is a four kanji compound (Yojijukugo) that combine to mean something like 'diamond in the rough'-a person with inherent talent, but lacks the position/opportunity to exploit it . If I had to give a direct translation, I'd go with 'undiscovered genius' . It was first coined to apply to Shokatsu's ancient ancestor, Zhuge Liang, and is thus very apropos . It is one word, but I chose to split the meaning of the kanji into two for reasons of the dialogue making sense . If I had gone with 'undiscovered genius(es)', then Kinji's confusion and Shokatsu's explanation would make no sense, IMO . The problems of a translating to language without kanji...

Also, I wanted to ask what you thought of the use of the word 'Quadler', clearly given in English script . Obviously Kinji is 'Enable', so Aria must be 'Quadler' . Could it be that we have had the moniker for those who wield two guns and two swords wrong this entire time? Could it be 'Quadler'-not 'Quadra'! And so the Fandom may be shaken to its core! Leave your opinions below or in the Discord channel .

I've also been reconsidering my spelling convention of the Koko sisters' name . Their historical ancestor's name is 'Cao Cao', and all the other characters share the same spelling as their ancestors . Opinions?

Finally, I'll ask you opinion on how you like this prose format for addressing TL-related topics . Should I continue it? There are always complicated issues that arise due to cultural differences, and are sometimes hard to address in the in-text notes without breaking up the reading flow-a point that has been brought up by quite a few . I'd still be keeping the shorter in-text notes, and the new feature would just be an extra place to share my thoughts or explain a bit of cultural background . It would be a blog-only feature, and not carry over into the final chapters or PDFs . A bit of an extra if you're interested . I'll post a link to a poll below to gauge interest .



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