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Before something happens, there are several prior signs of it happening. It is important to take notice of these signs and take pre-emptive steps to deal with it.
Banda thought about this. “Meh-kun, were there any signs that you would be kidnapped and put in the container of a large truck?” he asked.
“I thought not.”
Meh-kun – Amemiya Mei, had been kidnapped along with her older brother Amemiya Hiroshi, the woman who was their babysitter as well as a male bodyguard.
Banda quickly reflected upon the events that had led up to this point.
First of all, the Amemiya couple had been absent since the day before.
The couple were the ‘Braver’ Amemiya Hiroto, the leader of the Bravers, and the ‘Angel’ Amemiya Narumi, his wife. It was their job to move out in response to incidents and natural disasters in order to capture criminals and rescue people.
But it was rare for both of them to be absent… especially the mother, Narumi.
Ever since the destruction of the Eighth Guidance, there hadn’t been any incidents that had required all of the Bravers to mobilize at once. Although the Bravers had substantially decreased in number, there were still more than eighty of them remaining.
And it wasn’t that the people of this world other than the Bravers… other than the reincarnated individuals, were all powerless. They used their advanced science and technology as well as magic in order to carry out criminal investigations and maintain the security of their nations; the world was about as peaceful as Earth.
More importantly, the Amemiya couple had done their best to have at least one of them with Mei at all times, since she was still young.
But due to some unfortunate coincidence, or because the criminals’ patience had finally paid off, both parents were out on a mission and only four people had been left at the Amemiya residence – Hiroshi, Mei, the babysitter woman and the bodyguard.
The four of them had decided to go shopping at the nearest large supermarket. The supermarket had a membership system, and it was supposed to have very good security.
But the moment they parked their car in the parking lot, the bodyguard had collapsed. The babysitter had immediately tried to escape with the children in the car, but she had collapsed in a similar fashion as well.
The criminals had ambushed them with state-of-the-art military active camouflage suits that functioned using light-attribute magic.
Mei and the others had then been abducted in a large truck that had been parked in a way that obstructed the view of the family’s car from security cameras.
Seemingly relaxing after having succeeded in their kidnapping, the criminals had removed their active camouflage suits and were talking amongst themselves.
“Phew. To think that these things make it more difficult to detect our Mana. The newest equipment really puts the Bravers to shame. It almost makes me want to ask for these as our payment.”
“These disposable things that become useless after an hour? It’s so hard to breathe in them, too. They’re just heavy pieces of junk now.”
The bodyguard and the babysitter had been knocked out with stun guns, and their hands and feet were bound now. Even Hiroshi’s were bound as well just in case. There were also collars that had been placed on their necks, which prevented them from using any magic. It seemed that the criminals hadn’t let down their guard completely.
But Hiroshi hadn’t been knocked unconscious.
“Y-you guys! Just you try doing something to me or Mei! Mom and Dad will never let you get away with it!” Hiroshi shouted at the criminals.
But it was clear to the criminals that Hiroshi was talking out of fear and anxiety. They laughed at the little boy’s futile attempts at resistance.
“The criminals… There are five of them here, but only four right now. And I suppose there’s one in the driver’s seat,” said Banda, pointing at the criminals and counting them.
“That one?” said Mei.
“Ah, that one doesn’t count.”
“That one isn’t a criminal anymore.”
Two of the criminals looked uneasily at Mei.
“What is that brat talking about?”
“Hell if I know. She’s a baby. She’s probably got some imaginary friend that only she can see.”
The criminals could not see Banda, who was made of spirit form.
They were unaware that they had actually guessed correctly, and Mei really did have a friend that only she could see.
“Stop laughing!” Hiroshi shouted at the criminals. “If Mom and Dad got a hold of you guys, they’d –”
“Then why don’t you try and do something about us yourself? You’re the son of your very strong papa and mama, aren’t you?” said a hot-headed-looking white man, the most muscular of the criminals, with a slight accent to his speech. “That collar inhibits magic, but it doesn’t stop the Bravers’ abilities. Your stupid old man would be able to break it off without a problem. Come on, why don’t you give it a try?”
Hiroshi made a frustrated noise, but had nothing to say back in response to the white man’s ridicule. He knew best that he didn’t have special abilities like his mother and father.
He worked hard, dreaming that there was a power within him that would awaken one day, but such a power had never shown itself.
The criminal looked at Hiroshi and laughed. “You can’t do anything after all, can you! You stupid, loud-mouthed brat! Nobody’s going to come and help you just because you’re crying!”
“I-I’m not crying!” Hiroshi said without thinking.
Banda extended his tongue towards Hiroshi as the white man opened his mouth to continue his rant.
But another white man interrupted him in a displeased tone. “Hey, give it a rest. We didn’t kidnap these guys so that we can watch you take your anger out on this kid.”
The second white man had a callous-looking face, and if the first could be described as a wild-looking gang member, the second had the air of a skilled assassin about him.
“What’s your problem… It’s not like I hit the kid. Or did it hurt your feelings? Am I supposed to listen and make you happy like you’re my babysitter?” the wild-looking man taunted.
“There’s another hour until Woo moves this container into the warehouse. I’m telling you that I’m not going to sit here in this tiny space listening to you and your monologue,” said the callous-looking man.
“You bastard, don’t you go acting like you’re the leader here.”
“Well, that’s what they’re saying… It’s been a while since I’ve used this foreign language, so I might have made some mistakes here and there,” said Banda with his tongue still extended as he translated the men’s conversation.
Partway through, the criminals had begun speaking the English-like language of Origin. Vandalieu, the source of Banda’s personality, had actually been more proficient in this foreign language than Japanese (or rather, the Japanese-like language of Origin).
Naturally, he was translating the conversation for Mei. Of course, she was just over a year and a half old, so there were more words she couldn’t understand than ones that she could, but it seemed that she had understood the gist of it.
“Onii-chan isn’t poop,” Mei said.
“No, he isn’t… I’ll do something about this, so you take a little nap,” said Banda, tearing a piece off the fur-cloak-like membrane that covered the outside of his body and placing it on top of Mei.
Banda then cast the ‘Deodorization’ and ‘Silence’ spells. With this, Mei would not be able to see, hear or even smell anything around her.
Meanwhile, the criminals were more focused on their argument with one another, and didn’t notice anything strange happening with Mei.
“I don’t mind killing you, and then we’ll just split the reward amongst us four and Woo,” the callous-looking man, the one who seemed to be the leader of the group, said threateningly.
“… You bastard!” said the other man, clicking his tongue and stepping back.
He pointed a finger at a pale-faced man who had been leaning against the wall of the container with his hands covering his ears.
“… What is it?” asked the man.
“Why are you getting all pale-faced just because you got hit once? If you’ve got so much free time, then hurry up and kill the bodyguard and the woman!”
“N-now? They’re still unconscious…”
“Are you stupid? You’re supposed to kill them while they’re still unconscious! If they wake up and put up a struggle, there’s a small chance that something might go wrong, right?! The woman who managed to hit you before she lost consciousness isn’t just an ordinary babysitter! She’s a professional guard, so don’t let your guard down and make sure to kill her properly!”
It seemed that the criminals had taken the bodyguard and the babysitter woman from the parking lot in order to buy as much time as possible before their crime was noticed. And in the end, they planned to kill them.
“… Alright,” said the pale man.
“Hey, don’t use your gun or your magic. If the container is broken, we might get stopped by the police.”
“Was that guy always like that? Isn’t there something different about him?” said one of the other men, nodding towards the pale man.
“Isn’t he just getting shaky because it’s his first big job?” said the callous-looking man.
“… Was he really that inexperienced?”
Ignoring this conversation, the man who had been ordered to kill the bodyguard and babysitter went to drag them towards the back of the container, where the criminals had discarded their active camouflage suits.
“Hey, why are you bothering moving them? You’re not planning to take some kind of revenge on them before you kill them, are you?” one of the men asked.
“… No, I just thought that it would be noisy if the children were to start crying,” said the pale man.
“Well, you’re right about that. God help us if they piss themselves.”
“H-hey, what are you doing to Mr. Hiyashi and Ms. Sakuma!” said Hiroshi, noticing that something was wrong. “The two of them… haven’t done… anything…”
But suddenly, his eyes closed and he fell fast asleep.
“W-what’s up with this kid? He just fell asleep,” said one of the criminals.
“Hey, make sure he’s alright. He might have had a seizure or something,” said another.
The truth was that Banda had injected Hiroshi with a fast-acting sleeping drug using his extended tongue. He had produced a small proboscis on the tip of his tongue, materialized it behind Hiroshi’s back where the men couldn’t see it, and injected the drug into Hiroshi’s finger. By the time Hiroshi registered the pricking sensation of the injection, he was already asleep.
After that, Banda placed a membrane that was invisible to the criminals over Hiroshi.
“Don’t worry about him. We were told that the smaller kid is the important one, right? That we can give up on the bigger kid if we need to,” said the group’s leader. “Hey, hurry up and take care of those two –”
But before he could finish giving out his orders, two gunshots rang out.
Two of the criminals, who had both been shot in the temple, collapsed with a thud.
“You bastard… What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” the wild-looking man shouted, raising his magical medium that was disguised as a wristwatch.
The group leader immediately raised his revolver as well.
“To think that my Artillery Skill would come in handy at a time like this…” the pale-faced man murmured to himself. “Ah, sorry. I’ve gone and used this gun. I mean, I’ve always wanted to try shooting a real automatic pistol, so I couldn’t help myself,” he said expressionlessly as he pointed his gun, with which he had killed two of his companions, towards the other two men.
Blood was dripping from his ears.
“You, that blood…!” the wild-looking man muttered.
“Well, there’s an explanation for this,” said the pale man.
When Mei and the others had been abducted at the parking lot, Banda had decided to see how things turned out, since there were security cameras where the abduction happened and the criminals seemed to have no intention of killing anyone at the time.
But just in case, he had embedded the Demon King’s sub-brain into the brain of the criminal who had conveniently been knocked down by the babysitter, taken over his body with the Demon King’s nerves and turned him into something that was no different from an infestation-type Demon King familiar.
The Demon King’s fragments weren’t visible to anyone, as they had been materialized inside the criminal’s body.
And now, after the kidnapping, the criminals had insulted Hiroshi. They had also attempted to kill Sakuma-san, who was a good babysitter to the children, and a bodyguard whose face Banda was familiar with.
On top of that, there were no security cameras here.
There was no more reason to hesitate in disposing of the criminals.
“You bastard, who hired you?! Are you working for the Bravers?!” the wild-looking man shouted angrily at the pale man, a companion with whom he had spent a considerable amount of time with.
He seemed to have the kind of personality that quickly converted anxiety and discontent into anger.
“No, that’s not really the case… By the way, the driver’s seat is behind you two, so I can’t use my gun or my magic. Could you please step to the side a little?” said Banda through the mouth of the pale-faced man.
The driver’s seat of the truck was behind the two remaining criminals, and an Asian man named Woo was behind the steering wheel. Banda was worried that if he fired, the bullets could pierce through the criminals’ bodies, through the container and through the back of the driver’s seat, killing or injuring Woo and causing an accident.
Of course, Banda was confident that he would be able to protect Mei and Hiroshi even if the truck were to do a barrel roll and explode in flames. It would be slightly more difficult if he took Hayashi and Sakuma into account, but even then, he was capable of doing it.
But making sure that any cars near or behind the truck wouldn’t get caught up in the crash would be difficult.
If it turned into a big accident, the cover-up that Banda was planning might not go very well, and if there were civilian casualties, it wouldn’t be good for Mei or Banda’s mental well-being. Thus, he wanted to avoid that if possible.
Naturally, the wild-looking man ignored Banda’s request.
“Stop messing around, you bastard! Mana, fill my fist with the fury of the earth!” he shouted, rushing in towards the man whose body Banda had taken over.
His boxing-style footwork was sharp enough to take on a professional boxer.
But his movements were slower than the pulling of a trigger. Banda, controlling the pale-faced criminal’s body, fired at the wild-looking man’s face.
“‘Rock Knuckle!’” shouted the wild-looking man, deflecting the bullet with his fist.
It seemed that the incantation he had recited moments ago was an earth-attribute spell that made his fists as hard and heavy as boulders.
The wild-looking man roared as he unleashed a heavy body blow, immediately followed up by a left straight punch to the face. His fists, which were hard enough to deflect bullets, had been transformed into lethal weapons. The body of the criminal that Banda was controlling sustained catastrophic injuries, with several internal organs bursting and the bones of his face caving in.
However, the Demon King’s sub-brain and nerves continued to function. Banda raised the barrel of the gun and pointed it at the torso of the wild-looking man, who had let down his guard, thinking that his enemy was defeated. Fortunately, the man had moved in order to attack, so the driver’s seat was no longer behind him.
But before Banda could pull the trigger –
“‘Impact Bullet!’” shouted the group leader.
A bullet fired from his revolver struck the forehead of the man that Banda had taken control of. With tremendous force, it sent bone fragments and pieces of the man’s brain flying out of the back of his head. The Demon King’s sub-brain and nerves remained undamaged, but they had been sent flying out of the man’s body along with the pieces of his actual brain.
It seemed that the revolver also contained a magical medium, and the group leader’s fighting style was to use that to apply various enchantment effects to its bullets.
“… He’s dead. What the hell was wrong with him? I’ve never seen a guy continue to keep trying to move after taking my punches,” the wild-looking man muttered, not noticing the Demon King’s sub-brain among the dead criminal’s blood, flesh and bone fragments that were scattered across the floor.
“There’s no mistaking that it was strange, but now that he’s dead, he’s nothing more than a corpse. Check his belongings and his cell phone; he might have left some evidence,” said the group leader. “I’m going to go and… calm Woo down.”
It seemed that Woo had heard the gunshots; the group leader’s phone was ringing with what could be assumed to be texts from Woo.
“Okay,” said the wild-looking man. “I’m surprised these brats are still asleep. There were four gun… shots…?”
“Don’t worry about it, it’s just a bit of trouble. It’s taken care of,” the group leader said into his phone, talking to Woo, but he looked up, noticing that the wild-looking man had suddenly fallen silent mid-sentence.
And then he saw it as well.
Long, white hair. Four eyes. A tear-like mouth that extended all the way from ear to ear. Four black arms and six legs. A creature that was too grotesque to look like a living creature.
“… W-what the hell are you?” the group leader whispered.
“I am your enemy,” said Banda, who had materialized his entire body.
Surprisingly to the criminals, Banda’s voice sounded very articulate and intelligent for belonging to such a creature. They seemed to have expected to hear a beast-like howl or an ear-piercing shriek; they stared for a moment with their eyes wide open… and then they sprang into action.
“‘Flare Bullet!’” the group leader shouted.
Banda was glad that he had declared the simple truth that he was the criminals’ enemy; he was satisfied that things were going as he had planned. He put up no resistance as he was showered in the group leader’s bullets.
The bullets produced small explosions on impact. It was likely that they were designed to explode within their targets’ bodies, causing fatal wounds… but the bullets were being deflected by the Demon King’s exoskeleton. There wasn’t a single scratch on Banda.
“Hmm, hmm. I see,” Banda murmured. “Could you please tell me more about what kind of barrel that revolver has and what kind of bullets you’re using? With that information, I could more accurately determine my own –”
“Shut up! ‘Bolt Bullet!’ ‘Heavy Bullet!’” the group leader shouted, continuing to cast wind and earth-attribute and pull his revolver’s trigger, despite being shocked at the fact that his bullets were being deflected.
It seemed that he possessed an affinity for multiple attributes, but his talent itself for magic wasn’t particularly special. In other words, he was a jack of all trades, master of none. He was likely making up for that fact with the magical medium in his revolver.
“I could more accurately determine my own defensive capabilities,” said Banda, finishing his sentence.
None of the bullets even managed to scratch Banda’s exoskeleton, let alone pierce it. Some of the bullets had hit his joints and face, but even those hadn’t damaged him at all.
“What the hell is your body made of…?!” the group leader muttered with cold sweat dripping off his face, finally out of bullets.
The sense of danger seemed to have brought the wild-looking man back to his senses. “Goddamn! Mana, fill my fists with the fury of the earth and the fighting spirit of iron!” he shouted, charging at Banda.
His fists came swinging with the sharp technique of a professional boxer. A restraining jab, a deep hook and a straight punch that looked for a gap in Banda’s defense. It was a spectacularly executed rush-down.
All of these blows were stopped by a single one of Banda’s four arms. Banda deflected the punches with the soft palm of his hand so that the wild-looking man’s fists wouldn’t be harmed.
“Your fists were like boulders before, but they’re like metal now… An enchantment spell that makes your fists as hard and heavy as iron or steel, is it? Hmm, this really might work even against an enemy whose defenses are capable of deflecting bullets,” Banda murmured.
A right punch, a left, another left, a third left, a feinted right into yet another left punch with a right straight punch follow-up the moment the left was blocked – Banda blocked all of these with the palm of a single hand and continued his observations with his other three arms folded.
“J… Jesus…!” the wild-looking man panted, continuing his punches but with a look of despair finally dawning upon his face.
“I’m sorry, but to me, you people are too weak,” said Banda.
Banda was a being that Vandalieu from Lambda had created by putting together pieces of his own soul; he was a branched clone of Vandalieu.
Thus, he possessed the same experiences, skills and physical capabilities that Vandalieu himself had possessed at the moment of their separation.
He possessed physical strength that made him capable of killing monsters with his bare hands. Bears, lions and even tyrannosaurus rexes looked adorable in comparison. He possessed such speed that he could toy with his enemies, and his stamina exceeded theirs.
And he was not only a master in magic, but in ‘Unarmed Fighting Technique’ as well.
For an ordinary person in Lambda, having a combat-related Skill at Level 5 would firmly put one into the realm of being a first-rate user of that Skill. Someone with a Level 10 Skill, in Origin, would be a superhuman… the kind of master that existed only in fiction, not in reality.
A superhuman-level master of unarmed combat, fighting with the physical strength of a monstrosity. That was what Banda was in Origin.
“I’m toying with you partially to measure my own strength, but let’s put that to an end now,” said Banda as he tightly grasped the wild-looking man’s fist.
The man screamed in agony. “M-MY ARM, MY AAAAARM!”
Banda easily crushed the man’s iron-like fist, and his claws sank into the man’s skin.
“W-wait! Do you not care about what happens to these brats?!” the group leader shouted.
He had reloaded his weapon, and was pointing it at Hiroshi.
It seemed that he intended to use the children as hostages. Considering that he was aiming at Hiroshi rather than Mei, whom his employers considered to be of more importance, it seemed that he had not completely lost his mind. But his face bore an expression of fear, the expression of a cornered animal.
Banda simply materialized the membrane covering Hiroshi and Mei, not even glancing in their direction.
The membranes that had been invisible up until now suddenly concealed the children, causing the criminals to gasp in shock.
“Those membranes are as solid as my exoskeleton. If you think that you can do anything to them, then please go ahead and try,” said Banda. “Ah, I don’t mind if you try touching them, either. Your hands will just end up damaged.”
Despair was now completely covering both men’s faces.
“Sh-shit… Why do those damned Bravers have a monster like this?! Damn it, I can’t avenge my older brother…!” the wild-looking man muttered.
“You’re not only motivated by money? You want revenge on Amemiya Hiroto? If your older brother was killed for some reason, then I can understand your feelings of hatred,” said Banda.
Hatred was an emotion. Sometimes, it could not be clearly explained through reason. Considering the fact that the older brother had been killed by Amemiya Hiroto, and considering the actions of the younger brother, it was almost certain that he had been a criminal, and a vicious one at that. Even so, Banda had no intention of denying the man’s hatred.
Even if it was allowed by the law, even if it was justice, it was still killing. No matter how much others tried to reason it away, it was up to this man as to whether he felt hatred or not.
“But with that said, it doesn’t change anything,” said Banda as he threw out a second arm in a hook punch that tore into the side of the man’s body.
He felt the light sensation of the man’s ribs snapping and a number of internal organs being crushed by his fist as the air was squeezed out of the man’s lungs.
“Just as you have your own motives, I have my own reasons for killing you. And I am overwhelmingly more powerful than you are,” Banda continued as he unleashed a body blow with a third arm.
He held back just enough so that his fist didn’t pierce through the man’s torso and emerge out the other side, but even so, more of the man’s internal organs were crushed.
The man coughed, spewing out blood.
“And I have a message for you. ‘Onii-chan isn’t poop.’”
With that, Banda’s fourth arm extended in a straight punch aimed at the man’s face. The man mustered the last of his strength to try and protect his head, but… Banda’s punch smashed through the man’s skull along with the hand that was in the way.
It looked and sounded like a hard-skinned, fleshy fruit being smashed to pieces. That noise echoed across the inside of the container.
Leaving the body of the man whose head, body and both hands had been completely destroyed, Banda faced the petrified group leader once more.
“… Alright. I won’t resist, so at least kill me quickly. Make it instant,” the man pleaded, throwing his revolver aside as Banda approached.
He got onto his knees, as if offering Banda his own head.
“If you’re going to kill yourself, I think shooting yourself with that revolver would have been easier, wouldn’t it? You still have bullets left, don’t you?” Banda asked.
“… I can’t commit suicide because of my religion,” the group leader replied, closing his eyes.
“You can’t for religious reasons, huh,” Banda sighed in exasperation.
Just what kind of religion allowed the kidnapping of an infant and the murdering of people, but forbade suicide?
The problem isn’t religion, but this man’s ethics, Banda thought.
All the same, he approached the man to decapitate him.
“Travel through empty space and return to my hand. ‘Apport!’” the man murmured.
In the next instant, he suddenly stood up and thrust his right hand towards Banda. It was holding the revolver that he had cast aside moments earlier, and its barrel was pointed directly into one of Banda’s four eyes.
A gunshot and an ominous-sounding explosion echoed inside the container.
The man’s surprise attack had succeeded spectacularly. But…
“W-what…?” he murmured.
He could not declare victory over Banda; his voice was instead filled with astonishment and utter despair.
“I was careless. To think that you would surrender, then use space-attribute magic to return your weapon to your hand and shoot me in the eye once I got closer,” said Banda.
His four eyes stared at the revolver that had been broken by the explosion and the face of the man, which was bleeding after being cut by the metal fragments that had been sent flying.
“It was a good choice to aim for my eye,” Banda continued. “It is indeed softer than the other parts of my body. But… my eye can’t be destroyed by something like your gun.”
His body was composed of fragments of the Demon King. Fragments of the Demon King were extremely difficult to damage with anything other than equipment made of Orichalcum, a legendary metal of another world that could only be created by the gods.
Banda’s eyeballs were no exception to that.
“You damn… monster,” the man whispered.
Perhaps a fragment of the gun had found its way into his brain; the man collapsed with a thud. Banda stood on his neck, crushing his vertebrae and finishing him off, then went to check on Woo, the last remaining member of this group of criminals, in the driver’s seat.
With this much noise coming from the container, he would certainly have noticed that something was wrong.
Banda undid his ‘Materialization’ and passed through the wall of the container towards the driver’s seat to see Woo with a panicked look on his face, continuing to drive with one hand and furiously tapping at his cell phone with the other. It seemed that he was trying to contact the group’s leader again to find out what had happened.
Banda simply watched Woo until he finally lost his patience with nobody answering his calls and stopped the truck in a place with nobody around.
“‘Poison,’” Banda murmured, putting Woo to sleep with a poison created through death-attribute magic the moment the truck stopped, before Woo could get out of the driver’s seat.
Banda then returned inside the container to check that Mei, Hiroshi, the bodyguard and the babysitter were unharmed.
“Everyone is unharmed and the truck has stopped safely on a road without many cars. Ah, I’m so glad everything turned out well. In terms of me retaining my humanity as well,” he sighed in relief.
Banda’s main body was Mei. However, his personality was completely separate from hers. Thus, he didn’t need food or sleep, and his form was very different from that of a human.
And he was powerful, just as he had demonstrated to the criminals. Although the criminals had used the cheap tactic of active camouflage suits, they had managed to abduct two trained professional guards while keeping them alive. And yet Banda had killed five out of those six criminals, and captured the last alive.
There would be no turning back if Banda were to become conceited with his power and began to look down on the people of this world. There would be no turning back if he were to take lives for no reason without feeling any guilt, or commit mass murders and large acts of terrorism without any deep thought beyond telling himself that it was for Mei’s sake.
In the end, none of that would be beneficial for Mei. Banda becoming a monster for her sake alone would only end up hurting her as well.
“And… no matter how powerful my defensive abilities are in this world, I’m powerless against Amemiya Hiroto, who can ignore them. Cheat-like abilities really are cheating,” Banda complained to himself as he began his cover-up operation using the blood of the criminals scattered all around the inside of the container.
“Mmm, Banda,” said Mei’s groggy voice.
“Ah, you’ve woken up,” said Banda, undoing the ‘Silence’ spell on her. “Just wait a little longer, okay?”
He produced the Demon King’s fur on his fingertip and used it as a brush to draw a skull with an octagon around it on the wall of the container.
“The Eighth Guidance’s mark that I saw on TV the other day was something like this, wasn’t it? … If I ever manage to make contact with Legion again, I need to apologize for using it without their permission,” Banda murmured.
The cover-up operation that he had thought of was to make the whole incident look like the doing of the Eighth Guidance, who were supposed to have been destroyed.
All of the Eighth Guidance’s members had died in battle against the Bravers, but the only ones who knew that were the Eighth Guidance themselves and the reincarnated individuals who had already been reincarnated in Lambda.
Some of the Eighth Guidance’s members’ corpses didn’t exist, and although they were considered to be dead, their status was unknown, strictly speaking.
For example, there was Shade who had possessed ‘Oracle’ Endou Kouya’s body and killed himself along with Kouya. And then there was Baba Yaga, who had blown herself up along with the ‘Mage Masher’ Minami Asagi.
There were other members whose only discovered remains were pieces of flesh, and there was also Ghost, whose existence hadn’t even been known to the Bravers until the final battle.
Thus, if Banda were to leave this mark, the authorities who saw it might be misled to believe that this incident was the doing of the Eighth Guidance’s surviving members or unknown members who had not been present during the final battle.
“I’ve managed to produce an internal conflict within the group, so they might think Shade managed to transfer himself to one of the corpses… although they would probably question why the Eighth Guidance would save Meh-kun,” Banda murmured to himself.
But as long as the authorities believed that there were other criminals involved, that was enough for Banda.
And the Amemiya couple might feel danger and strengthen the security around their children.
There was someone out there who had hired criminals to kidnap the children, so the current security setup was insufficient.
“Well, I’ve captured one of the criminals alive, so I’ll let the authorities do their best to investigate the person who hired them,” Banda told himself.
He would try asking the spirits of the dead criminals, but… he didn’t possess the ability to charm the dead, so he didn’t know whether he could successfully threaten them into talking.
He couldn’t break their souls, since it was possible that Rodcorte would take notice of him if he did that.
And even if he managed to make them talk, his range of movement was limited to within fifty meters of Mei. It would be difficult to go after the mastermind.
Having finished his cover-up operation, Banda looked around for the criminal group’s leader’s cell phone, wanting to report the presence of a suspicious truck to the police so that it would be found.
As he did so, he noticed that Hiroshi, whom he had made unconscious, was crying.
“… He must have been very frustrated.”
This incident would potentially become a large scar on Hiroshi’s young mind. It was too optimistic to think that he would recover, spring back from this painful experience and use it to develop as a person.
He would likely need something to lean on in order to get back onto his feet. If the Amemiya couple could provide that to him, then it wasn’t Banda’s place to do anything. But if this were to have a lasting effect…
“If the time comes, maybe I’ll try teaching him no-attribute magic. I’m sure it would be helpful for him to become able to use ‘Healing Power Enhancement’ and ‘Strengthen Physical Ability.’”
No-attribute magic was undiscovered in this world, but it fell far short of the cheat-like abilities of his parents that had created his complex. Still, it would probably become something for him to lean on.
“Banda, Nii-chan, bacam friends?” Mei asked.
“We might ‘bacam’ friends,” said Banda, matching her mispronunciation. “But first, I’ll try talking to him without showing myself to him… It would be easier if I could appear in his dreams.”
Finally finding a cell phone, Banda looked for buttons to press… and found himself quite confused as to how to use it for a while, as it was a smartphone.
The kidnapping of Amemiya Mei had failed. Despite hearing this report, the ‘Avalon’ Rikudou Hijiri wasn’t disappointed.
“Everything is as planned,” he said.
The kidnapping’s failure had been planned all along. Or to be more precise, the kidnapping was supposed to succeed, but information regarding the criminals would be leaked to the authorities before the situation progressed to the point of no return, and Mei and Hiroshi would be recovered safely. The criminals would be arrested or shot, and the ‘client’ would be later discovered as a corpse. The true mastermind would remain unknown.
The objective of this plan was to make the Amemiya couple strongly perceive a notion that their children were being targeted. And since they trusted Hijiri, he would suggest to them that a member of the Bravers should be with them at all times, and he would start coming into frequent contact with Mei.
In other words, he would create a situation where Mei was in the palm of his hand.
“Amemiya Mei… That child is an important sample to my research into the death attribute. Full-scale research will have to wait until she turns three years old, when the Mana in her body stabilizes and scans can detect her attribute affinities, but there’s no harm in setting up this environment now,” Hijiri said.
“I understand that, but… things happened differently from how we planned it,” said the ‘Shaman’ Moriya Kousuke, another reincarnated individual who was one of Hijiri’s subordinates, as he handed Hijiri a copy of a report of the incident. “Before we could leak the information about the criminal group to the investigating authorities, the police were alerted to the presence of a suspicious truck. When the police investigated the truck, they found the four kidnapped victims and the criminal group responsible. The four victims are all alive, and five of the six criminals are dead. And although this has been kept secret from the media… the mark of the Eighth Guidance was found drawn on the wall of the container.”
“What did you say?” Hijiri uttered in surprise as he looked down at the report.
The report was filled with nothing but bizarre details.
As the one who was pulling the strings of Murakami’s group of defectors, he knew that all members of the Eighth Guidance were dead. Comparing what he knew with the documents regarding the members who had escaped from research facilities, there was no mistake in this fact.
It was difficult to imagine that there were multiple exceptions like Ghost, but…
“… It’s impossible for a mere copycat to go as far as to do this. The ‘Undead’ and the Eighth Guidance have clearly demonstrated that death-attribute Mana contamination occurs when certain conditions are fulfilled. In the same way, the Eighth Guidance may have contaminated someone else with the death attribute. I thought that if this had occurred, then the only possible person it could have happened to is Amemiya Mei, but it seems that we must be cautious,” said Hijiri. “But it does not change the fact that most things are going as planned. We will guard Amemiya Mei and investigate this fake ‘Eighth Guidance.’ Their objectives, their abilities, where they are, everything.”
“Yes. Please leave it to me,” said Kousuke.
Kousuke immediately began an investigation into the fake ‘Eighth Guidance,’ but he failed to find any leads whatsoever.
Because the one he was looking for was always with Mei.