I got onto the railbus, sat down alone in a seat toward the middle, and waited for it to depart.
There were no other riders, so if it left like this, I’d be alone until the last stop.
This railbus is a direct line to my destination, the Charming Forest. The ride time is an hour…
FUU: (I should have brought a book with me.)
DRIVER: “Thank you for waiting. We’ll be departing for the Charming Forest.”
Right when the door was about to close–
???: “Ahhh! Wait, wait! I’m getting on too!”
I turned my face toward the noisiness coming from the door where a man was rushing in at the last second.
DRIVER: “Hey! You’re gonna cause problems trying to board at the last second! You were just about to get shut in between the doors.”
???: “Sorry ‘bout that! I’ll be careful not to from now on, so forgive me! Oh, here’s my ticket.”
DRIVER: “Honestly… Anyway, take a seat.”
???: “Yeah, yeah~ Hm?”
After our eyes met, I hid my body in the seat in a panic and shifted my gaze to outside the window as if I had seen nothing at all.
FUU: (It was rude of me to stare like that. I’ll have to be more careful.)
???: “Hey, mind if I sit next to you?”
I turned toward the voice and standing there with a smile was the man who rushed in.
???: “I want to sit next to you.”
FUU: “…Um, there are plenty of empty seats other than right here.”
He grinned and spoke in an exaggerated manner.
???: “As I guy, I can’t possibly sit in some other seat after finding such a cute girl like you!”
???: “And we’ll be on this bus for an hour until we reach our destination, so don’t you think it would be more fun to talk until we get there?”
I was perplexed at how to deal with the strength of his insistence.
FUU: (Wh-what should I do? Spending an hour with some stranger is honestly pretty tough…)
While I was worrying over how to reply, the PA system started up.
DRIVER: “Hey, you! How long are you planning on just standing around!? We can’t leave until you’re sitting!”
???: “Ahh~ I thought there might be a reason we weren’t moving. Hahaha, sorry!”
I hoped he might run off, but he just stayed there, grinning, and waited for my answer.
Even though I was hesitant to say it, I didn’t have a choice… Or should I say, it was the only answer I had.
FUU: “Um, in any case, please sit down.”
???: “Great. Well then, no need for me to be shy. Don’t mind if I do~”
Then without any shyness as he had said, he placed my bag that I had sitting next to me into a seat across from me and brazenly lowered himself into the seat.
FUU: “R-right next to me!?”
I was surprised at his actions because I was certain he would just sit somewhere nearby.
I was at a loss for words when the railbus finally departed.
FUU: (…An hour under these circumstances. This is difficult. He’s really close…)
I became helplessly nervous because I wasn’t used to dealing with such assertive guys.
???: “Well then let’s start with some introductions! You first, go ahead!”
He gripped one of his hands as if he was holding a mic put it toward my mouth.
I was worried about what would be okay to tell him, but it would be awkward to refuse.
FUU: (…Oh well.)
I wondered how many times I’d be using that phrase during the next hour and started speaking into his special ‘mic’.
FUU: “I’m Fuu Sorano.”
???: “Hmmm~ Your breath is nice.”
Sensing danger, I immediately pulled my face away from his hand.
???: “Hahaha! You don’t have to be so cautious! Anyway, I’ll call you Fuu then.”
FUU: “Ah, haaah… Okay.”
I waited nervously for whatever he would ask me next…
???: “…You know, normally when you give someone your name you ask them for theirs in return, right?”
FUU: “Huh? O-ohhh… I’m sorry. I just had so much going on in my mind… I forgot.”
???: “Jeez, keep it together~ You got anxious so quickly just now!”
FUU: (I’ve been nothing but anxious right from the start, though…)
FUU: “Okay, um, your name then please.”
YUN: “Mm! …My name is Yun Kamiya! I’m a 20 year old who is so handsome it worries me! I want a cute girlfriend like you!”
I inadvertently diverted my gaze at the message included in his short introduction.
FUU: “…Oh, um, yeah, I’m the same age. I’m also 20.”
YUN: “Ah, we’re the same age! Hmmm~”
He suddenly struck a pose from his position in the seat as he thought of something.
YUN: “A man and woman of the same age meeting inside the bus on a coincidence. With just one destination, the two alone on the railbus..”
FUU: (…I had a vague feeling before, but this guy is strange.)
I thought he was done, but it appeared he was going to continue on with the theatrical statements…
YUN: “We’re bound together by the red string of fate. Now, Fuu – shall we follow the string of fate and form a profound relationship?”
He offered his hand to me, and I found my body pulling itself backwards even before I could be confused.
I was starting to get used to the way he spoke, just a little.
YUN: “Hehe, it’s okay. I’ll lead, my princess.”
FUU: “Sorry to rain on your parade, but I don’t think this is fate or a necessity; I think it’s just a regular coincidence.”
FUU: (I was finally able to calmly state my thoughts so that should-)
YUN: “Well, I’ll make it a necessity then.”
Then he strongly pulled my hand–
FUU: “Wh-what are you doing!? Let go!”
My calmness disappeared somewhere and I recoiled with all my might.
YUN: “I won’t let you go. I’m serious about you, after all.”
FUU: “I-I don’t even understand what that means! Kamiya, we’ve only just met!?”
YUN: “Ahhh, don’t call me Kamiya. I’d like you to just call me Yun.”
FUU: “I can’t refer to you so familiarly when we’ve only just met! Look, just hurry up and let go of-”
YUN: “Come on, you’re so stubborn. We’re the same age so it’s fine. I won’t let you go unless you call me that.”
His childish way of speaking was exhausting. Thanks to that, my nervousness thinned out and fatigue suddenly advanced on me.
FUU: “All right… Um, Yun, let go of my hand please.”
After he softened his expression–
YUN: “Thank you, my princess.”
Right as I was surprised that he kissed my hand–
A cry rose up from a seat further back.
YUN: “Hmm, having your cheeks flushed like that is really great, but that voice wasn’t cute at all, you know?”
FUU: “Th-that wasn’t me! I heard it coming from behind us! I mean- let me go!”
I resolutely shook off his hand and continued speaking.
FUU: “Y-you crossed over into my seat! Don’t sit next to me, go over there and-”
YUN: “Y-y-you heard it coming from the back… Weren’t you and I the only riders?”
Maybe he was scared; Yun’s body and voice were trembling.
FUU: (This doesn’t look like an act.)
YUN: “Of course it’s not a g-g-g-ghost! It’s the middle of the day, right!? I mean, ghosts don’t exist in this world!”
FUU: (…Don’t tell me.)
FUU: “You’re afraid of ghosts?”
YUN: “Hah! Of course not! Nothing scares me!”
His voice was considerably shaken in contrast to his words.
FUU: “In any case, it’s unpleasant to just leave it like this so let’s go investigate.”
I stood up and peeked toward the back-
???: “I-I-I’m sorry! I-I wasn’t trying to interrupt!”
YUN: “Eeeek! A p-person…?”
YUN: “Ahhh, I’m so glad you’re a person… I mean, I’m surprised there’s someone else on here. I hadn’t noticed at all.”
Yun was openly relieved upon finding out he was a person.
FUU: (…This railbus’ first stop is in Akatsuki. I was the first person to get on it after it arrived at the station…)
The question of when exactly he got on the bus came to mind.
???: “Ah, th-the truth is, I got on the bus the last time it made this trip a-and before I noticed it we were back in town…”
???: “Wh-what I mean is, the railbus had looped back while I was dozing off!”
FUU: “I see. So you just stayed on the same railbus.”
FUU: (So it’s no wonder I didn’t see him boarding. I guess that means the driver didn’t inspect the inside?)
YUN: “It’s an hour one way, so… You dozed off for more than two hours?”
???: “Th-that’s right. I woke up when y-you got on at the last second.”
The youth pointed at Yun as he spoke.
FUU: “Oh, around that time… He certainly was loud enough to catch your attention, really.”
YUN: “Hm? What? I feel like there was some bite to your words just now.”
FUU: “It’s just your imagination.”
???: “Um, and then, um, I’m sorry. I-I was trying to stay quiet to not interrupt the two of you.”
???: “When he… When he… k-k-k-kissed your hand, I-I was so surprised…”
The scene from before passed through mind as he mentioned it.
FUU: “I-is that so?”
FUU: (It’s pretty embarrassing that he saw that happen…)
YUN: “So. With. That. What’s your name, kid that likes peeping?”
The young man’s mood changed very suddenly at that.
I wasn’t the only one who was dumbfounded at his sudden transformation.
FUU: (He was so mild-mannered up until now… He seemed sheepish.)
YUN: “…So this you’re one of those guys that looks to be one way and acts another…”
FUU: “Uuum, anyway, can you tell us your name…?”
MICT: “Er- ah, r-right! I’m Mict Haruno.”
YUN: “Mict, okay, roger. So Mict, you can take the seat across from us.”
Speaking as if it was the natural thing to do, Yun put his bag from the seat by his feet and put my bag on his lap.
FUU: “Oh, you can just put mine down, too.”
YUN: “No, no, I can’t do that. Okay, I’ll put it here. There’s no one other than us in here.”
He moved the bags to a seat across the aisle from us upon saying that.
FUU: (He may act strange but he’s unexpectedly kind, too…)
I looked over at Haruno, who seemed to be gazing around in bewilderment.
FUU: “Oh, go ahead! It’s empty now so come over here.”
Haruno, who looked a bit worried, smiled gently when I spoke up to him.
MICT: “Oh… I-I’m so happy. Thank you, Kamiya, Sorano.”
YUN: “That’s so stiff~ Call her Fuu.”
FUU: “…I don’t mind if he does, but it’s not for you to say.”
YUN: “I’m just not good with that sort of stuffiness. Oh, you can just call me Yun.”
MICT: “…Okay, I’ll call you Yun. Yun and… Fuu.”
MICT: “And you can just call me Mict.”
YUN: “Okay! Well, I already did just call you Mict though. Oh, hand me your bag. I’ll put it in that seat over there.”
MICT: “Th-thank you very much.”
Haruno— Mict started walking over, a little flustered after handing Yun his luggage. Just then—
The driver suddenly hit the brakes.
Mict, who was standing in front of my seat, lost his balance and fell onto me.
FUU: “A-are you all right!?”
YUN: “Whoa! Nice! Acting all innocent.”
FUU: “Yun, don’t say weird things! Mict, are you okay?”
I asked for a response from Mict but he was completely still.
FUU: “? Mict?”
YUN: “Oh my. He’s completely frozen up.”
FUU: “Huh, frozen up?”
YUN: “Like on a computer. When there’s a hardware failure it stops moving.”
FUU: “I know that, but… What part of him is broken?”
YUN: “Isn’t it obvious? He’s out of order because his ability to reason has flown the coop. I wonder if we can reboot him?”
After putting down Mict’s luggage, Yun returned to his seat and prodded Mict’s face with his finger.
Mict came to his senses immediately after that.
YUN: “Ohh, you’re awake. Well, how did she feel?”
Mict held his head and ended up shaking like a leaf.
FUU: “C-calm down please!”
MICT: “I-I-I’m so sorry! Th-that was very rude of me to do to a girl-! How should I take responsibility for this…?”
I gently placed my hand on top of his in order to calm him down.
FUU: “I’m just fine. So please don’t worry about it. More importantly, you’re not hurt at all, are you?”
MICT: “Ah… I’m, uh, f-fine.”
FUU: “I see. That’s good.”
FUU: (I was glad to hear it, but he might hurt later because he took such a dynamic tumble…)
I placed my other hand on top of our already stacked hands, worrying over Mict…
MICT: “T-thanks for being so kind to me…”
MICT: “This is a first for me… I’m so happy… Hehe… Hehehe!”
YUN: “They’ve got a good mood going, yeesh! Dammit… I wish I would have fallen, too. Then I would have gotten to feel her and earn some favor…”
MICT: “…Yun, you’re gross. You really are a pervert…”
I unintentionally withdrew my hands upon feeling darkness coming from Mict.
YUN: “Whoa, whoa! Just how many skills does this gap boy have hidden, being able to mumble that like some dark sadist?”
FUU: “W-well now… Let’s just calm down and find a lighter topic to talk about…”
It was a first for me to spend time together like this with people I’ve only just met with no common ground.
It was bewildering at first, but before long I had grown accustomed to speaking with them…
I felt like I had fun by the time we reached the final stop.
It’s been 5 minutes since I got off the railbus.
I was looking at the map for the designated location of the Angel’s banquet while advancing toward it.
Because the time I spent with Yun and Mict was so fun, I felt a little lonely when we parted ways but… That was over in an instant.
YUN: “It feels like…something will pop out of this forest…”
My time with the two continued on into the Charming Forest after we got off the railbus.
FUU: “Excuse me, do you have a moment?”
YUN: “Oh, you finally turned around to look back at us!”
YUN: “Actually, there was something I wanted to ask you, too. I want to hold your hand while we walk, is that all right?”
Now that I’m used to his overboard way of speaking, I’ve become able to make decisions without even thinking first.
FUU: “Anyway, what I wanted to say is haven’t we all been going the same way ever since we got off the railbus?”
As if he was curious as well, Mict nodded along and politely opened his mouth to speak.
MICT: “I-I thought the same thing. …I’ve been thinking it this whole time, but could you two be…?”
YUN: “Hehehe…. That’s right! I passed the certification exam, and I’m a handsome new Angel!”
Had Yun known? He puffed out his chest with pride and struck a grandiose pose as he revealed his true identity.
FUU: “Yun, you knew?”
YUN: “It was more of a feeling than knowing. The only people that take that bus are those from the village close to the forest, right?”
YUN: “You and Mict obviously look like you’re from the city, so I thought maybe you’re going to the Angel-”
MICT: “Wh-wh-what was that just now–!?”
FUU: “…It didn’t sound like it was too far away from here.”
FUU: (Did a villager from nearby go into the forest and find something?)
It didn’t sound like they were in danger.
YUN: “That voice just now was a human, right, yeah, definitely a human.”
MICT: “…This is a forest…There’s a chance it could be not human… Like a terrifying animal or an undocumented creature or possibly-”
MICT: “Ouch! Ooo, th-that’s mean! Why’d you hit me all of a sudden, you violent perverted nerd!!”
YUN: “Urk- A 3 hit combo… W-well, I’ll let that statement go for now. More importantly, that voice really could have been from a gh-… it could be out here!!”
FUU: “Calm down you two. Anyway, let’s go toward that voice.”
FUU: “There might be someone in trouble after all.”
FUU: “Oh, or you can go ahead to the Angels Banquet without me. Well then.”
I changed directions and headed toward the voice.
YUN: “What! W-wait up!”
MICT: “I-I’m going too! I don’t want to be left alone with Violent Yun!”
YUN: “N-no, wait! Don’t leave me all alone!!”
I had been going toward the voice for several minutes—
Like I had thought, there was the silhouette of a person.
FUU: (Huh? What’s he doing on top of that giant mushroom?)
Anyway, I’ll get closer so I can speak to him.
I grasped the situation at hand quite clearly once I approached.
???: “Hmmm. Just a little bit more and I could pick it.”
FUU: “Hello. Um… Are you trying to pick the berries from that tree?”
I figured that was probably what he was doing, but I asked just in case.
His eyes sparkled as he answered.
Even with his arm outstretched he wasn’t within range to pick the fruit he was after. The position he was at was just a little too short.
???: “Hmmmm. What sort of method would be best… Oh! ♪ I’m sure you could pick them if I put you on my shoulders!”
FUU: “What!? I-I can’t just sit your shoulders when I’ve only just met you-!”
I want to help out someone who’s in trouble, but of course I’m opposed to sitting on his shoulders.
???: “Is that a no?”
He asked with such a dejected look on his face that I wasn’t sure how to answer.
MICT: “W-we finally caught up with you! Fuu, you run fast…!’
And I could see Yun a bit further behind him.
YUN: “You’re here, you’re here, you’re here! Don’t leave me again!”
Yun looked like he was on the verge of crying for some reason.
And while I was preoccupied with them—
???: “Oh, I just had a good idea! ♪ If I do that, then it should— there!”
When I turned to look at him, he was jumping from the mushroom toward the fruit he was after.
FUU: “Be careful!”
My worries ended up being needless anxiety as he landed splendidly.
???: “All right! ♪ Perfect, just perfect~★”
The height of his jump was great too, but his neat landing made me want to clap for him.
Yun, who had arrived at my side at some point, spoke up with a look of shock on his face.
YUN: “Don’t you think this guy seems like a kid from the wilds? I didn’t think you could jump that high.”
MICT: “H-he might be a resident of the village since he knew about this odd fruit.”
I was certain what Mict said was correct. He was surely well-acquainted with this forest.
FUU: (Hm? His finger is bleeding…)
He probably cut his finger when he picked the berries.
I immediately pulled a bandage from my bag and held it out to him.
FUU: “It looks like you hurt your finger. It’s bleeding, so take this.”
He alternated between looking at the bandage and me with a puzzled expression on his face…
???: “Kyahaha, thanks. ♪ And to show my thanks—”
He pulled one of the berries from the bunch and held it toward me.
???: “Oh, have you never seen these berries before? It doesn’t have any poison so you can relax. ♪”
???: “And you know, this fruit isn’t sold in the city! They’re super sweet and delicious! ★”
FUU: “Ha-haa… Is that so? More importantly this bandage-”
???: “Yeah, I’ll do that later. ★ After you’ve eaten this berry. Okay, say ahhh~”
???: “It’s not ‘ha’ it’s ‘ahhh’.”
FUU: (Is he going to do the same thing Mama used to do for me when I was little?)
???: “What’s this? Feeling shy? Kyahaha ♪ You cutie. ★”
???: “Your cheeks and ears are as red as this fruit.”
While I was staggered by the situation in front of me, Yun came in from the side-
The berry that he had held out toward me was stolen by Yun’s mouth.
FUU: (Phew… I’m saved thanks to Yun.)
I was truly thankful for Yun’s robbery.
???: “Why’d you eat it!? I was giving it to her!”
YUN: “Whoa, what is this it’s crazy good!! Here, Mict, you take one too!”
Yun helped himself to the berries, tearing one off and handing it to Mict.
MICT: “Wh-wh-what!? Is it really all right for you to help yourself to them like that!?”
While they were enjoying the strange berries, I removed the bandage from its package and took the guy’s injured hand.
FUU: “Stay still for just a little bit, please.”
I stuck the bandage on his finger.
FUU: “Okay, that’s good. Make sure you disinfect it when you go home.”
???: “Ahhh… You’re like an angel. ★A beautiful, kind girl like an angel. ♪”
FUU: “What, no I’m not…”
MICT: “Hearing ‘angel’ reminded me! If we don’t hurry up we’ll be late to the banquet!”
YUN & MICT: “What!?”
???: “Lalalalala~a. ♪”
He hummed while skipping along toward the meeting place for the banquet.
FUU: “W-wait please! Are you going to the Angels Banquet?”
He stopped skipping and turned upon hearing my voice.
TCHICAI: “Yeah! I’m Tchicai Kanou. ♪ Call me by my first name, not my last name. ★That’s nonnegotiable!! Oh and I hope you’ll speak with me casually.”
Everyone stared in blank amazement at his introduction.
Thus, we headed toward the Angel banquet location along with Tchicai.
We walked for 30 minutes.
Then we arrived at our intended location.
Above a ladder was a strange looking disk shaped building that didn’t match the forest.
After feeling reassured that we arrived safely, I went toward the ladder to enter the building but—
There was a blue haired man mumbling complaints while emitting a murderous vibe.
MICT: “Whoa, he’s grumbling something… Scary…”
YUN: “Hey, you are too, Mict! You’re mumbling quite enough!”
???: “Are you all participants in the banquet as well?”
FUU: “Yes! So you are, too?”
???: “That’s right…”
TCHICAI: “Nicely met, fifth Angel~ ♪ We’ll leave the introductions for after we’re up there! ‘Cause I wanna hurry up and sit down to eat some snacks. ★”
Tchicai was already going up the ladder as soon as he said that.
The others followed him. Yun scrambled to go first and then Mict disappeared up at the top.
FUU: “Um, please go on ahead. I’ll go up last.”
???: “I’m fine going after. You go up first?”
FUU: “Umm, I’m wearing a skirt so I’d like you to go first if possible.”
I hadn’t thought it would turn out like this. I deeply regretted coming here in a skirt.
FUU: (I’m wearing shorts underneath but still…)
He sighed and spoke like he was astonished.
FUU: “…I’m sorry.”
FUU: “Anyway, that’s the situation so please go up first.”
His expression clouded at that. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but he looks a little pale.
FUU: (Why is that? Oh, maybe he’s–)
FUU: “Are you not feeling well?”
FUU: “Well, you look pale right now so… That’s why you don’t have the confidence to go up the ladder, right?”
???: “That’s not it.”
FUU: “Really? Why then?”
???: “Forget it. I’ll go up first.”
I was relieved by his words and stepped back to wait.
But no matter how much time went on…
‘I can do it. It’s okay. I can do this.’
‘This isn’t a ladder, it’s just some fence.’
So on and so forth, he continued to do nothing but chant ambiguous words to himself and hadn’t gone up at all.
FUU: “Um… Are you sure you’re not feeling ill?”
He turned and glowered at me as I spoke up from behind him.
FUU: (I don’t think I said anything irritating…)
Then he finally put his foot on to the first rung.
Then slowly to the second, then on to the third…
When he got to the fourth rung—
FUU: “Ugh… A-are you okay?!”
FUU: “You really weren’t feeling well. Your arms and legs are shaking… If you’re shaking this much now-”
???: “D-did I fall…?”
FUU: “Oh… Yes, but I mean, you were only on the third or fourth rung so you weren’t very high up.”
???: “I see…”
I couldn’t see his face so I couldn’t know for certain, but I could feel that he was in a daze from his voice.
FUU: “I’m sorry… I should have caught you more securely than I did. Are you hurt?”
???: “Should have caught me? Ah!”
He immediately stood up after speaking.
I was relieved that he didn’t appear to be hurting at all.
FUU: (Mict, Tchicai, and this guy in front of me, all of them… Today is a day for lots of people falling down, I guess.)
While I was thinking that, the guy held his hand out toward me.
FUU: (This is… it seems like he’s going to help me up, right?)
I placed my hand on his timidly outstretched one and he forcefully pulled me up.
FUU: “Thank you.”
???: “I’m the one that needs to say thanks… So, thanks.”
I realized he really wasn’t feeling well upon seeing his face flushed.
FUU: “Shall I ask someone up there to help you up?”
???: “It doesn’t matter. And what does that mean? Do you think I’m bad with heights? You’re wrong then.”
FUU: “Oh, no, that’s not what I— ”
I heard the sound of footsteps behind me before I was done speaking.
A tall man saying ‘honestly’ appeared in front of us.
???: “This is the worst. I had a feeling I’d be on the same team as you, Idzu, when I saw the word Akatsuki.”
???: “Isn’t that something to be happy about? I hope we’ll continue to get along, Rayla.”
I couldn’t follow their conversation.
I mildly spoke up, not knowing how to enter the conversation, and the two shifted their gazes to me.
???: “Anyway, we’ll go up. I’m sorry for asking when you’re in that outfit, but can you go up first? I’ll carry Rayla up.”
???: “Don’t talk about people like they’re baggage!”
It seems that the blue haired guy is named Rayla.
FUU: (Good, then Rayla will be able to go up now. This isn’t the time for me get all bashful.)
FUU: “Understood. Well, I’ll go first-”
I could hear a conversation behind me as I went up the ladder.
RAYLA: “Idzu, turn around.”
RAYLA: “It’s way too late to have that sort of response at that age. Being naïve in your thirties is just gross.”
???: “Sh-shut up! If you’re going to be so cheeky then I’ll give you a taste of fear on our way up.”
Their conversation gradually got further away and I finally arrived at the top.
RAYLA: “Just how are you planning on getting me up there with that rope?”
???: “I know you have a fear of heights so I’ll just tie you up like this-”
???: “Tie you up nice and tight- Ha!”
RAYLA: “Urk! It’s t-too, tight…”
???: “You’ll fall down if you untie it, so just bear with it for a little bit.”
???: “I’m going to grab the end of this rope and go up first.”
???: “And then once I’m up, I’ll have the others up there pull the rope and lift you up. Yeah, it’s a perfect plan.”
RAYLA: “N-no way! Stop! I mean, I’m seriously suffocating here-!”
???: “Okay then. See you up top, Rayla.”
RAYLA: “No, wait!”
The inside of the building was rather fresh; it was designed and structured in a way I had never seen before.
???: “Good. All according to plan so far. Hey, you guys. Gather up.”
Everyone’s attention went to him as he spoke up.
TCHICAI: “Woo~ ★ It’s finally about to start. ♪ How exciting, how exciting~!”
FUU: “Oh… But what about that guy from earlier, Rayla?”
No matter where I looked, I didn’t see him anywhere.
The man pointed down the ladder.
As we all peered down, we saw him tied up with a rope or something, swaying like a caterpillar…
???: “You’re all going to pull him up now. All right, everyone hold on to the rope.”
YUN: “Whaaat, this is super annoying. Why do we have to do this?”
???: “That’s… I hadn’t thought that far yet. Ah… It’s uh… right, that.”
After looking like something just occurred to him, the man coughed.
???: “This is a test to show me your strength as new Angels, as I’ll be in a position to supervise all of you.”
FUU: (Wait, supervise? So that means this guy is the team leader??)
FUU: (I mean, he’s saying this is a test, but Rayla just wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t climb up…)
While I was questioning it in my head, the others were filled with determination…
YUN: “Seriously! I didn’t know there were going to be more tests! All right, I’ll show you my superhuman strength!”
MICT: “I already passed the certification exam so it’d be awful to fail here… I’ve got to give it my all!”
TCHICAI: “I have a position that doesn’t require strength, but it looks fun so I’ll put my energy into it~♪”
FUU: (So it’s for Rayla who isn’t feeling well and also a test for everyone… Forget it, I’m confusing myself.)
They ignored me as I was lost in thought and started working on pulling him up.
They were successful in pulling him up, but the person who was raised was…
His body trembled; he foamed at the mouth and eventually lost consciousness.
???: “This is bad… Him passing out was beyond what I predicted.”
FUU: “This is terrible!”
I was the only one who rushed to Rayla’s side. Everyone else’s minds seemed to be preoccupied with the test more than him.
TCHICAI: “Hey hey! So how was our strength!? Did we pass??”
???: “What? O-oh, you passed! Welcome to the Angels Banquet!”
MICT: “Thank goodness! So now we’re all Angels of Akatsuki!”
FUU: “Everyone!! Please help me get this rope untied for now!!”
A new face suddenly peeked in from the ladder-
The man noticed Rayla passed out on the floor in the middle of his speech and his eyes went wide.
???: “Wh-wh-whaaat!? What’s going on!? What’s a person doing passed out at the banquet location!? What is this!? Was he startled or something!?”
I looked after mouth-foaming Rayla while the others explained the situation to him.
Then after Rayla woke up—
All seven of us gathered around the round table and faced each other.
???: “…I’m sorry. I’ll apologize as much as you want later but let’s get started for now.”
Rayla unexpectedly turned his face away and went silent.
The man looked around at everyone after seeing that and declared the start.
???: “Allow me to formally welcome you to the Angels banquet. All of you here other than me are new Angels assigned to Akatsuki.”
FUU: (I had thought that might the case. So we’re all new Angels…)
Angels are based out of a building called the ‘Angel Tower’ and there is one team of Angels per city.
We’re the Angels of Akatsuki Town. We’ll live together at the Angel Tower in Akatsuki and carry out our duties there.
I heard at Angel School that there is always a veteran Angel wherever you get stationed.
FUU: “Um, there is one thing I was curious about. Are those of us here the only Akatsuki Angels?”
???: “No, there’s also one more, a worn out old man, but he didn’t come here today.”
FUU: “I see. Thank you.”
FUU: (What does he mean by ‘worn out’ I wonder…)
In any case, he continued talking with my agreement.
???: “This is a gathering to deepen the bonds between us comrades in fate from here on out… The Angels Banquet.”
???: “The actual content of the banquet is up to each leader, but…”
???: “For the Akatsuki team, we’ll be staying here together for one night and two days to strengthen our friendships… That’s what’s been decided by the leader, me.”
FUU: (So this guy really is the leader.)
It seemed that everyone had already expected as much so there wasn’t any particular shock. The conversation continued to progress.
???: “We’ll begin by having everyone do a simple introduction. So we’ll start with me-”
IDZUKI: “I use a whip as my weapon. That’s about it for me.”
Mict’s eyes lit up and sparkled as he looked at Nanase.
TCHICAI: “Question~★ About what should we call you, can I call you ‘Nana’? Or is that not okay ‘cause you’re the leader??”
RAYLA: “I like to keep my private and work life separate, so I’ll call you Nana. It’s fine, right?”
IDZUKI: “Just because I’m the leader doesn’t mean you need to be formal with me but… Nana, huh? Well, it’s sort of child-like, but call me whatever you’d like.”
FUU: (I thought this before too, but Rayla and Nana must have been acquainted before this. But what about Mict just now…?)
Since it was quite clear it didn’t bother him, I thought about whether I should call him Nana as the next person introduced themselves.
FUU: “So you’re a Butler. If I recall correctly, that means you’ll be doing things like escorting targets and the like.”
Nachi nodded in response to my words.
FUU: (Other than that, he’ll look after everyone and… sometimes go to support with investigations.)
NACHI: “I’ll do everything I possibly can, so please rely on me everyone!”
Nachi spoke with a smile and lowered himself back down. This time Yun, who was sitting next to him, stood up.
YUN: “I’m Yun Kamiya! My position is Soldier and my weapon is a bow gun!”
There was something out of place with Yun’s mood.
Even though it was just for a short moment, the guy I had thought to be bright and social seemed like an entirely different person.
Yun immediately returned to his usual appearance and continued talking.
YUN: “My hobby is shopping! Oh, don’t copy me just because I have good sense, all right?”
Yun faced everyone and winked as he spoke but…
Our eyes met thanks to everyone other than me simultaneously averting their gaze away from Yun.
To be totally honest, the clothes he was wearing have the worst designs. But we weren’t close enough for me to say that.
FUU: “Ahh… Yeah, great sense of style.”
FUU: “I-I wouldn’t go that far!”
YUN: “Hey hey! I don’t really want to, but I’ll let ‘creepy’ pass. However, I won’t overlook you saying my sense of style is bad!”
NACHI: “Huh…? Wouldn’t being told you’re creepy normally be the more painful part…?”
MICT: “Yeah, b-but Yun has been strange ever since I first met him on the railbus…”
Nana stopped everyone from making a fuss and designated Rayla as the next person.
RAYLA: “Rayla Konomi. My position is Soldier and my weapon is poisoned needles. I hate formalities so don’t use honorifics with me. That’s all.”
YUN: “Huh, wait up! Since you’re already doing it you might as well say what you like or your hobbies!”
RAYLA: “This is a self-introduction, right? So isn’t it best to just say only what you want to tell others?”
RAYLA: “Or are you saying that I should expose my own personal information to some people I don’t really know upon meeting them for the first time?”
RAYLA: “Or should I say, isn’t it strange for you to be so naive to think that I’d tell you everything if you said you wanted to know?”
RAYLA: “Don’t tell me that because you announced your hobby you’re saying I should match you?”
RAYLA: “There’s no way I should match you when you just chattered on of your own accord, right? Don’t try to force me to do the same thing.”
The room was silent. Not only was there no asking him questions, but a minute passed without anyone speaking at all.
Eventually Nana sighed and designated Mict as next.
MICT: “I-I’m Mict Haruno. My position is Soldier and my weapon is string. …P-pleased to meet you…”
Students who elect to take the Soldier Course at Angel School first choose their weapon.
You select one weapon from those included in the textbook and refine your skill in said weapon.
It is possible to change your selection part way through, but I selected kunai which seemed suited to me from the beginning to practice with.
FUU: (How many days did I spend agonizing over whether to choose kunai or string before the weapon selection…)
YUN: “Bondage play is fun and all but you sure have abnormal hobbies, Mict.”
RAYLA: “You. That remark is seriously creepy. Why did someone like you get certified as an Angel? Does the Heavens Institution just have poor judgement?”
IDZUKI: “…Everyone has a different personality. I believe that he’ll demonstrate his strength as an Angel through his missions.”
As if cued by Idzuki’s words, Mict’s mood suddenly changed…
MICT: “The ordinary me is really who I am, but I’m also capable of behaving like the Angel that I am. …I absolutely won’t lose my composure.”
MICT: “So you can feel reassured about that.”
Everyone blinked in surprise at his sudden change in tone and mood.
TCHICAI: “Wow! I thought you were a different person for a second there. ★ Mic is amazing~♪”
MICT: “A-amazing, I mean… He-hehe!”
NACHI: “He’s laughing now, but should I think of this as the normal Mict?”
FUU: “I-I think so…”
Next was Tchicai.
Analyst is a position that emphasizes research.
I’d heard that they only learn the simplest of martial arts.
Therefore, it’s a Soldier’s job to make sure an Analyst doesn’t come in harm’s way during a mission.
TCHICAI: “And, and! I love snacks! I especially love sweets. ♪”
MICT: “You love sweets and your name is Kanou… Are you connected with that mega corporation, Kanou Confectionery?”
RAYLA: “Wouldn’t that be too simple? Kanou is a common last name and there are… well, some guys who like sweets, I guess.”
TCHICAI: “Oh, call me ‘Tchicai’! That’s absolute, okay, absolute. ★ I’ll punish you if you violate that. ♪”
NACHI: “Tchicai, right? Roger!”
While everyone else was talking, I thought about something that I was curious about since I was an Angel School student.
That something was one of the Analyst’s jobs – researching Star.
FUU: “Nana, Tchicai’s duty is to research Star that’s been confiscated, right?”
FUU: “And do Soldiers help or…?”
Nana spoke bluntly.
IDZUKI: “Absolutely not. Moreover, no one other than Analysts are granted permission to examine Star.”
IDZUKI: “So Tchicai, don’t have everyone else help you with your examinations. I mean, if it’s a small amount it’s okay but…”
TCHICAI: “Yeah, I know~★ …There’s tastings and stuff, too.”
FUU: (Tastings…? What could that mean?)
I was curious but more than that I was relieved to hear we wouldn’t be helping.
Even though I want to recover Star, I don’t really want to stare at it or touch it very much.
My reasoning is mixed, but the biggest reason is probably because it makes my chest hurt…
IDZUKI: “I believe you all already know, but Analysts don’t fight.”
IDZUKI: “So unless there’s a particular reason, Tchicai shouldn’t come into contact with the targets. Think of him as the brains of this team.”
Everyone nodded their heads at that and focused their gaze on the final person – me.
I was a little nervous at being observed. After taking a deep breath and calming my heart, I slowly stood up.
FUU: “I’m Fuu Sorano. My position is Soldier and my weapon is the kunai. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
As soon as I stopped speaking, Yun enthusiastically raised his hand.
YUN: “Yes yes yes!! Do you have a boyfriend!?”
I let out an idiotic sound at being asked a completely unexpected question.
RAYLA: “Is that related to work? I mean, this is sexual harassment.”
YUN: “You don’t get it, huh? Listen, Rayla. This is a very important question!”
YUN: “There’s a certain way to treat girls who have boyfriends, right! If you get it wrong it’s inevitable that you’ll end up in a tough spot!”
YUN: “W-who cares about that! More importantly: do you have one or not? Which is it!?”
FUU: “I-I don’t.”
MICT: “……She doesn’t have one. Hehe. Hehehe…”
Nana told us to keep the personal questions for later during the actual dinner, which closed the curtain on self-introductions. Next up was—
IDZUKI: “We’re now going to review the regulations that manage the organization established by the Heavens – the Star Code.”
IDZUKI: “I believe you’ve studied the necessary and essential information for Angels at school, but we’ll just etch it into your minds once more.”
The atmosphere changed in an instant from lively to tense at Nana’s statement.
FUU: (Of course I remember, I mean-)
The Star Code contains the regulations for Angels that we recited from memory more than enough times every day at Angel School.
No one complained about reviewing the Star Code because we all understood its importance.
So we recited the Star Code in order starting with Yun.
YUN: “Star Code, Article 1: Those who consume Star, ‘Stardust’, will be welcomed to the Heavenly Skies.”
MICT: “Star Code, Article 2: Those who sell Star, dealers, will be taken into custody to the Netherworld or dispatched.”
RAYLA: “Star Code, Article 3: In the event a person is both a Stardust and a dealer, regard them as a dealer.”
TCHICAI: “Star Code, Article 4: In the event a dealer is under 15 years old, you must take them into custody.”
FUU: “Star Code, Article 5: Those called to a Judgment of the Heavens must prioritize the trial over their work duties.”
Nana added on an explanation to Article 5 of the Star Code I had just said.
IDZUKI: “I’m sure you know, but Judgments of the Heavens are trials to determine the punishments for Stardust and dealers.”
IDZUKI: “It isn’t the place to decide whether they are innocent or guilty; it’s where they decide whether they get the death penalty or imprisonment.”
IDZUKI: “They decide principally based on statements from the Angel responsible for their capture and investigation documents. Keep that in mind.”
IDZUKI: “And moving on from that… Star Code, Article 6: Former dealers must be taken into custody.”
IDZUKI: “Lastly, Nachi.”
NACHI: “Yessir! Star Code, Article 7: Butlers are prohibited from possessing weapons.”
NACHI: “They take care of other Angels, support missions, and deal with the disposition of corpses.”
IDZUKI: “All right. Finally, something from me: those who violate the Star Code will be punished by the Heavens. Bear that in mind.”
Punishment from the Heavens. No one knows what that punishment is and our teachers didn’t tell us.
But there was one thing I did know: the contents of the nondisclosure agreement we were handed before entering Angel School.
If for any reason you drop out of Angel School or resign from being an Angel, all of your memories concerning the organization will be erased.
In other words, once you’ve enrolled in Angel School, any action other than becoming an Angel will result in erasure of your memories.
Maybe this was why Rina was opposed to me becoming an Angel. I’m only here because I managed to persuade her somehow…
IDZUKI: “Now I’ll tell you rules that weren’t given to those studying at Angel School but only those who have become Angels.”
FUU: (So there’s something like this, too…)
TCHICAI: “So should we think of this as being different from the Star Code??”
IDZUKI: “Yes. The Star Code has regulations in regards to Star but these ‘Divine Bonds’ I’m about to tell you are rules concerning Angels.”
FUU: (I’m curious about these rules, but what makes them different from the Star Code?)
IDZUKI: “First, Divine Bonds, Article 1: When on duty, you must wear the uniform supplied by the Heavens.”
IDZUKI: “We’ve already arranged to have uniforms sent to each of your homes after this.”
It was noted in our school books that there were uniforms.
I saw them when the active duty Angels wore them to the lecture held once a year and also when I was a child…
FUU: (Oh, but…)
FUU: “Um, what about when we do undercover operations?”
IDZUKI: “Ah, I forgot to mention that. Regard that situation as an exception.”
FUU: “I see… Thank you.”
TCHICAI: “Hey hey, can we alter our uniforms?”
IDZUKI: “Yes. It’s permissible if it’s to make it easier to move around or some other justifiable reason.”
TCHICAI: “Yaay ★ I’ll do my best then~ ♪”
MICT: “I’m so happy we get to alter them! Hehehe!”
FUU: (Alter it, huh? I’ve never worn it before so I don’t know, but it won’t be necessary if it’s easy to move around in.)
IDZUKI: “Next. Divine Bonds, Article 2: Only take out your weapon when in front of a target. Otherwise, keep your weapon concealed.”
IDZUKI: “This is so we don’t cause the general populace to panic.”
RAYLA: “Isn’t that just the Heavens being concerned about being in the public eye?”
I’d heard the phrase that Rayla just said in school a number of times. It’s something all the students gossiped about.
They say the Heavens Institution suppresses all information.
It’s understandable that there are rumors. After all, incidents concerning Star aren’t featured on TV or in the newspaper.
IDZUKI: “No, it’s to keep the public from being exposed to danger.”
IDZUKI: “There’s also one more matter that goes along with this…”
IDZUKI: “Divine Bonds, Article 3: Direct contact missions are only to be conducted at night. Furthermore, refrain from making any loud noises.”
IDZUKI: “In order to not get the general populace caught in the middle of things, it’s best to carry out missions at night when there’s no human presence.”
MICT: “…carry them out quickly without making a sound.”
The words Mict told to himself were ones anyone who has taken the Soldier Course has heard enough to make their ears bleed.
It is such an essential item that they go as far to say you can’t pass the certification exam if you’re unable to do so.
I failed my certification exam once because of it and had to repeat a year of school.
YUN: “There are a lot of bow gun models you can’t use because the firing sound has to be suppressed. It really is too bad~”
IDZUKI: “Can’t help it. If you make any loud sounds it will make it harder for you to do your job.”
IDZUKI: “All right, let’s move on to the next one. Divine Bonds, Article 4: Angels will live together in the Angel Tower.”
FUU: “Oh, I heard about that at school.”
FUU: “It’s so we can respond to emergencies is about all I heard though, so I don’t know the details really.”
IDZUKI: “No, that’s it. And… Well, to increase our unity is another reason.”
Nana then distributed a printout of a general daily schedule.
0600: Gather; Morning Assembly
1600: Information Meeting; Disband
Free time can be spent at your own discretion.
However, this can change drastically depending on the mission.
For example, if a direct contact mission (infiltration) is conducted at night, the following day’s operational hours will be shifted to support it.
Possible day work: research duties, report writing, or other paperwork
Work that occurs at night: direct contact missions (infiltration)
Additionally, the address you’ll send your baggage to—
It continued to describe more about the move. But more important than moving-
FUU: “This is a tough schedule…”
NACHI: “I’m here so that doesn’t happen! You can all leave your health management to me!”
Nachi tightly balled up his hands as he spoke.
On the contrary, I’m worried that it will be very tough on him to take care of all of us by himself.
IDZUKI: “It may not be any consolation, but the Angel Tower has the latest facilities and individual rooms so the Angels can live there pleasantly.”
IDZUKI: “Well, you won’t be uncomfortable. Anyway, I’ll explain more about the Angel Tower during the tour on your first day.”
IDZUKI: “On to the last one. Divine Bonds, Article 5: Despite each all of these being pacts, they do not need to be followed absolutely.”
FUU: (I see. So because these are just pacts and not laws there’s no legal force behind it.)
I felt relieved at hearing that. I didn’t have any intentions of violating them, but I feel restricted when there are a lot of regulations.
It seemed it wasn’t just me who felt that way, but the others too…
YUN: “So it’s fine for us to shoot off loud weapons then! I wanted the latest model bow gun~”
TCHICAI: “Having a mobilization uniform makes working difficult so that’s a relief~★”
MICT: “Having missions at night just makes determining where to aim more difficult than during the day. I don’t like it…”
RAYLA: “But most importantly, not having a punishment for breaking them is nice. It’s way different from the Star Code, isn’t it?”
FUU: “You’re right. I’m glad there aren’t any punishments.”
NACHI: “But isn’t that a bit too lenient? That makes the existence of these Divine Bonds so weak.”
Nana’s mood suddenly changed at our exchange of opinions.
Nana smiled, the corners of his mouth upturned. Was it just my imagination that I could see a shadow creep in…?
It seems it wasn’t my imagination. The scene froze in an instant at that indication.
IDZUKI: “If you violate them intentionally, you’ll be punished by the Archangel, me. What sort of punishment depends on however I’m feeling…”
IDZUKI: “Let me just say, I’ve been told all your personal information from your schools. If you don’t mind what happens… Just do whatever you’d like.”
IDZUKI: “But if you want your work to go smoothly, don’t violate them. Think well before you act.”
After saying that, he smiled brilliantly.
IDZUKI: “Well, we’re all on the same team. Let’s all be friends!”
The persuasiveness of his final words was ruined by what he had said prior.
IDZUKI: “I didn’t threaten you, though? I only spoke the truth. Anyway, that’s it for the Divine Bonds explanation.”
IDZUKI: “What I’m going to tell you now are my own words. Take them however you’d like.”
Nana looked around at everyone with a serious expression on his face before slowly beginning to speak.
IDZUKI: “Our job as Angels is to crackdown on incidents involving Star. We are not executioners sent to dispatch those involved with Star.”
Angels are an organization that kills people involved with Star – I’ve heard that the public gossips about that.
Dispatching – killing – is permitted but we also take them into custody and bring people who’ve turned into Stardust to a place called the Heavenly Skies for rehabilitation.
So that’s why I want to shout at them ‘you’re wrong’, but it’s unauthorized to disclose the Star Code.
IDZUKI: “We’re permitted to dispatch dealers only… But whether you take them in or dispatch them is up to the judgment of the responsible Angel.”
IDZUKI: “That judgment is an important thing; it controls a person’s life. Don’t take their lives lightly just because they’re criminals.”
IDZUKI: “Make a good effort to get to know your target from the investigation phase. Don’t forget that your judgment has a great influence on their life.”
IDZUKI: “That’s it from me. Well then, shall we move on to preparing for the dinner banquet?”
Everyone was looking forward to dinner and happily left the room right away.
But I couldn’t leave with the words Nana had said still remaining in my mind…
FUU: (An executioner… I don’t want to become like that, so I’ll keep what he said in mind.)
I suddenly realized something after committing that to memory.
FUU: (That reminds me… There were rumors at school that Gods existed. Was that really true, I wonder?)
Right as I thought to ask Nana, he walked off toward the kitchen with Nachi.
FUU: (Well, it’s just gossip. It’s nothing important so who cares.)
A lively dinner began below the building with the evening sun as a spotlight.
Rayla, possibly still not feeling well, refused saying he didn’t want to, but Nana forcefully brought him down and made him participate.
The food we ate while enjoying nature was a barbeque all prepared by Nachi.
For someone like me who up until now did nothing but study and practice, eating a meal outside and mingling with everyone was very refreshing.
YUN: “By the way, I’ve been curious about this the whole time, but we were taught in school that ‘it’s standard to mobilize in pairs of two during missions’, right?”
FUU: (Oh, now that he mentions it…)
When the team is advancing through a mission, it’s standard for them to split into groups of two and deal with investigations or infiltrations. That’s what we learned.
FUU: (We paired off for practice plenty of times…)
IDZUKI: “I’m planning on deciding that once we meet up again at the Angel Tower. I was concerned about how to do it…”
FUU: (No matter how it’s decided, I’m fine with being paired with anyone…)
FUU: (Oh but… I guess there’s a chance someone might say they don’t want to pair up with me because I’m a woman. Everyone other than me is a man after all.)
I felt a twinge of uneasiness as Yun approached me…
YUN: “Attention everyone! I, Yun Kamiya, will be paired with Fuu Sorano!”
I was happy that there were two people who picked me.
MICT: “…M-me too… I’d…”
RAYLA: “I don’t really care, but what are all your reasons for wanting to pair up with her? All I’m getting from you is ulterior motives.”
Mict turned red and then pale as he muttered.
IDZUKI: “Hey, don’t keep the conversation going while ignoring the person at hand’s intentions. She might have someone she’d like to pair with, right?”
FUU: “Uh- Oh, I…”
Everyone’s gaze settled on me.
FUU: (It feels like this won’t end if I don’t answer…)
My line of sight wandered as I wondered what to do and Nachi smiled nicely at me.
NACHI: “If there isn’t anyone you can just say so~ After all, we’ve only just met today.”
TCHICAI: “Hmm… I guess that’s true? Being told that all of a sudden would be troubling, huh ★It’s just my intuition that I want to be paired with you.”
TCHICAI: “That’s only me though. I think you should just answer with whatever you’re thinking♪”
After taking a large breath—
FUU: “By pure intuition… Or rather, if I had to say by the impression I felt today-”
> I can’t decide now (appears after completing all other routes)