1. A life form that has surpassed the limits of known biology and has a lifespan either infinitely or immeasurably long.
2. A life form created from or by a human.
3. A life form that’s individual traits present a risk of spreading to or infecting unrelated people around it.
The conditions change depending on the environment and situation, but those are the fundamental definitions of an Archenemy.
The term Archenemy itself refers to Satan in a certain monotheistic religion and from there came to mean any sort of “demon lord” in general.
Synonymous terms are the undead, the living dead, and the immortal.
Vampires and zombies are the representative examples Archenemies in modern times.
It was a refreshing moonlit night after the city’s air pollution was swept away by an out-of-season storm.
I was holed up in my room, curled up on the floor, and pressing my back against the inside of the door.
I had a simple reason for this.
Knock knock! Knock kno-knock knock knock!! Knock knock knock knock!
“Satori-kuuun? Your big sister would like to speak with you. Specifically, we need to discuss what happened to the limited melon bread from Asamiya.”
“I know, right? They only make 20 a day and don’t take reservations, so it’s super rare. Onee-chan and I were arguing over who got it, but then it just up and vanished.”
Tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble tremble!!
I hadn’t known.
I really hadn’t known that was holding everything together here. All I did was trudge home through the rain and realize something smelled great when I set foot inside our house. And then that golden glittering prize was just sitting there! Of course I was gonna eat it!!
This was really bad. What was I going to do? My older sister Erika was a vampire and my little sister Ayumi was a zombie. They were known as the undead or Archenemies, which made them something like an RPG’s hidden boss. I was in real trouble if they were angry. They wouldn’t even need a fist to break through the plywood door; a karate chop would be enough to break right through! And then they’d drag me out!
While I trembled in fear, my smartphone buzzed in my pocket.
I pulled it out and checked the screen (to distract myself from reality) and saw Maxwell speaking through an SNS speech bubble.
However, Maxwell was not an international friend or a classmate with a cringe-worthy screenname.
This was the system management agent for the Maxwell disaster environment simulator.
“What is it, Maxwell? I’m kind of busy.”
“Sure. And that is why I am contacting you. I determined you needed this system’s assistance since you stepped in it and have no way out.”
“Y-you mean you’ll make full use of the simulator’s processing power to calculate out a way for me to survive Erika and Ayumi’s double punch!? That’s almost too good to be true!”
“No. I have calculated 8.6 trillion different scenarios and each and every one of them ends in failure.”
“So all I know is that I’m really and truly doomed! That’s a disaster environment simulator for you!!”
“However, I have detected a single unknown variable. It is a possibility of unknown impact, but it seems better than any of the options with a 100% chance of failure.”
“…In other words, there’s almost no chance of success this way either?”
“Sure. It is like the difference between a suspension bridge just about to snap and one that has already fallen.”
I mussed up my bangs with a hand while still leaning against the door.
I really had understood this wasn’t a problem that would solve itself with time. In fact, my sisters’ anger would only grow the longer I put it off. My best option was to immediately open the door and bow down in apology. But I was scared! If I prostrated myself before them, they might just crush my head underfoot!! I mean, my older sister was a vampire queen and an extreme S!! The defendant requests time for the lay judges to cool down!!
“I guess I just have to go for it. Okay, Maxwell! What exactly do I have to do?”
“Sure. Turn your smartphone’s voice input option on and lower your privacy protection settings to Level 2.”
“User, I am asking for permission to borrow your ‘voice’ to speak.”
On the other side of the door, they wouldn’t be able to tell if it was me or Maxwell speaking.
My palms were sweaty and fear clutched at my heart, so Maxwell could indeed be the better negotiator since he operated on strict numerical values.
“Okay, Maxwell. Let’s do that. …There…there…and done. Updating…and done.”
The smartphone replied with my exact voice.
So what was Maxell going to do? Anything was fine as long as it shattered this feeling like I was trapped in a cleaning locker which was then thrown in a big hole and had cement dumped on top. It was all riding on his performance!!
And then he spoke with my voice.
“Oh, shut up!! I’m sitting in front of the monitor with my pants down and it’s at the most exciting part, so can’t you wait until this box of tissues is empty!?”
“Sure. The two behind the door have fallen silent. The unexpected attack has shut down their thought processes.”
I could tell my face was filling with bright red heat. I wanted to call this a false accusation, but I’d be in trouble if he brought up the folder I’d stuck in a hidden drive disguised as his BIOS space!
“More importantly, their thought processes will only remain shut down for around 30 seconds at the longest. If you do not act soon, they will recover.”
Opening the door to face my step-sisters was not an option now.
That meant the window!
I wanted to get as far away as possible. For more reasons than one!!
“By the way, the Class Rep next door should have her window open to view the moon on this clear night now that the storm has passed. That concludes my perfect simulation. Ehehn.”
“Sorry, forehead glasses Class Rep, but I’m dragging you into this!!”
I hopped to my feet, threw open the window, stepped back for a running start, and then leaped into the open sky. I wasn’t riding a bike with an alien in the basket, but I still flew in front of the moon and right through the open second story window next door.
The black-haired forehead glasses Class Rep was in her pajamas and looked utterly shocked.
“Nice one, Class Rep! That’s the normal reaction!!”
Just 30 seconds ago, I had been trapped with a vampire and zombie only a door away while a parallel processing computer stabbed me in the back. After that fantastical situation, the Class Rep’s normalcy soaked into the core of my being like the first taste of miso soup after returning from an overseas vacation.
Speaking of the Class Rep, she wore pastel-colored pajamas and she adjusted her glasses with a hand as if she could not believe what she was seeing.
“S-Satori-kun? Is it just me or have your own actions grown a little monstrous of late? You look like you should be wearing a cape and a butterfly mask and calling yourself a gentleman thief.”
“…Heh. Humans are changed by their environment.”
As she spoke, the Class Rep shut her thin curtains instead of the window.
And at the same exact moment, I heard a door burst open in the neighboring house – which now meant my own.
“O-Onii-chan is gone!? Fuguu!”
“I wonder what kinds of exciting things Satori-kun was watching. What if it was older girls or blonde big sister types? Kyah!”
They apparently couldn’t tell I was in the Class Rep’s room thanks to the shut curtain.
They seemed more interested in searching my room than for me, but that was fine as long as it bought me time. And there was nothing inside my room I didn’t want them to find. Nothing inside it.
“So what are you going to do now, Satori-kun?”
The Class Rep supposedly had no idea what was going on, and yet she asked that, rummaged through her closet, and pulled out some sneakers.
For some reason, she had chopsticks, a toothbrush, a simple change of clothes, and exercise shoes for me at her house. And yet I hadn’t slept over at her house since before we moved up to middle school.
Maybe it was a lingering remnant of when my parents were getting divorced. I had escaped to her place a lot back then.
But there shouldn’t have been any reason for her to worry about me now.
“Thanks, Class Rep. I had business outside anyway, so this really-…”
When I reached for the shoes in relief, the Pajama Class Rep pulled them away some reason.
“S-sorry. It’s not your fault, Satori-kun.”
She was muttering about something.
Just as I wondered why she was blushing, she confessed the reason.
“B-b-b-but I kind of wish you wouldn’t loudly proclaim to the entire neighborhood that you’re having an exciting time in front of the computer screen. Th-there are some wet tissues over there. Okay?”
It was all just too much.
But anyway, I borrowed the sneakers from the Class Rep and left through her house’s front door.
She came down to see me off and her skeptical voice followed me out.
“Where are you headed this late? The convenience store?”
“Yeah. More or less.”
I gave a dismissive wave and left.
Since the storm had just passed through, the area was damp but fresh. The air was cleaner than normal, so it may have been the perfect time for a night stroll.
Not that I was in the mood in the slightest.
I spoke to the smartphone in my hand.
“Let’s get started.”
Kukyou City was a strange place.
It was a picturesque sightseeing city surrounded by the sea and the mountains.
But it contained an abnormally high number of disasters, primarily lightning strikes and powerful winds, so it had taken advantage of that to become a disaster prevention city that made money off of disasters by inviting in multiple institutions researching disaster prevention and protection.
And the city had another face hidden deep underground.
A final testing ground for vampires and zombies.
Those undead and Archenemies were tested to see if they could get along with modern society.
And if they failed, they were executed and disposed of.
A massive network of underground tunnels spread like a spider web below the city and any Archenemy that caused problems was dragged into the darkness by men in black who appeared from the depths of the earth.
It did not matter what the reason was.
They could even be people like Erika or Ayumi who laughed, cried, and attended school like normal.
I had only learned of this by accident.
But now that I knew that those two girls who lived in my house could be taken away at any time, I couldn’t just sit idly by.
They weren’t the only Archenemies.
And there were other things just as important as those two and I could not let those things be trampled on.
“Maxwell, give me the simulation data.”
“Sure. I have completed the scenario concerning the destruction of the Japanese Branch of the Bright Cross Disaster Prevention Foundation operating in its underground facility.”
The Bright Cross.
That international organization was thought to be peaceful and was well-known enough to have donation boxes next to the registers at national convenience store chains.
I was picking a fight with them.
“I have calculated 3448 scenarios for their later reaction, but in none of them do they maintain any influence over Kukyou City. I can promise you they will be fully driven from the city.”
“So all I can do is drive them from the city? What about the Archenemies outside of Kukyou City?”
“That is too wide a range for my simulation abilities. Either input different parameters and repeat the calculation or physically expand my system.”
So that was all I could manage for the time being.
I of course couldn’t allow the Bright Cross’s tyranny to continue anywhere in the world, but if I was going to fight something on such a massive scale, I had to start by solidifying my footing here first.
That word seemed so vague and none of this felt remotely real as I wandered through the dark night.
“Maxwell? Where do I need to go?”
My smartphone’s map app opened and with a single location pinned on it.
…That’s pretty close by.
Just as I thought that and looked up from the screen, I happened to be passing by a convenience store that faintly lit up the regional city night.
Someone suddenly bowed toward me.
Who was it, you ask?
A girl a head shorter than me who had wavy blonde hair grown to shoulder length. She wore a baggy white sweater and a chocolate-colored miniskirt. I could see more of her brilliantly white legs than necessary. I wasn’t sure that was doing much to protect her. It felt like seeing a dumb soldier holding his shield in the complete wrong direction during a hail of arrows.
She seemed to have just left the convenience store. She used both hands to hold a single plastic bag containing whatever she had bought.
To put it simply, she reminded me of a small animal.
That impression may have been helped by how her baggy sweater covered her mouth a little and only her fingertips poked out of the sleeves. However, her blonde hair was not the forcibly bleached blonde of a delinquent girl. She was a half-Japanese girl with naturally blonde hair.
“Oh, you’re Itou Helen, right?”
When I used the name I had remembered, she bowed again.
She was an underclassman at school. She was popular among the 1st years and among the ruder upperclassmen who said they liked small girls.
I didn’t really know her, but I had helped her out when the guidance counselor was getting after her for having too short a skirt.
I don’t look like the type to do something so heroic? Needless to say, I only got dragged into it because I was nearby and the true criminals were a few of my mischievous male classmates.
So it was honestly strange I remembered her name and I didn’t feel like I had done anything for her.
I was like the boring merchant in the same party as a hero, a sage, and a magician. In fact, I was more like a villager or a corpse.
“Well, not that it matters. So is your house nearby? Just make sure you follow the main roads and walk below the cameras, okay?”
I tried to give her some upperclassman-y advice as I left.
No. I was just trying to use my position at school to escape since I couldn’t find anything to say.
In other words, I was a chicken who was afraid of this little girl.
I was afraid of failing to grasp the distance between us and making it awkward.
It was laughable that I thought I could fight an international foundation for my family.
“…chan.” Itou Helen said something quietly. “You have the same scent as my Onii-chan, so I can relax around you.”
I couldn’t say anything for sure since I didn’t know who exactly this “Onii-chan” was, but had something happened? She was in the 1st year, so had she gotten separated from her brother when moving up from middle school?
It was only a small thing like that.
“Maybe it’s because I have a little sister too.”
That was all I said.
And I had a big sister too.
Real conversations weren’t like in dramas. If you weren’t a good match, the conversation would trail off and create an awkward silence. It looked like the conversation was over, so I waved and started to leave.
“You have the same scent as my Onii-chan.”
But Itou Helen said something again.
No, the conversation had never ended for her. Had it only seemed awkward to me?
“So please…be careful. But that’s also…a somewhat dangerous scent.”
Her point of view was so skewed from mine that this hardly qualified as advice.
But her words did seem to stab into the center of my chest.
Especially as someone about to pick a fight with the Bright Cross.
What kind of person was Itou Helen’s Onii-chan?
To be honest, I was more interested in her.
“Sure. Let’s both be careful.”
And this time we really did part ways.
“Just to be sure, let’s make sure Itou Helen isn’t following me before I head to the coordinates. Give me a route.”
“Sure. This is a lot like an open world quest, user.”
“I know. And why am I trying to lose the girl I met on the roadside? That’s not the Amatsu Satori way.”
But I was worried over nothing.
Itou Helen did not follow me.
I felt embarrassed about my unneeded caution and Maxwell left a targeted comment.
“Reality is cruel. It would seem you have not met a video game heroine who becomes obsessed with you the second you meet her.”
“Well, I suppose this is honestly the real Amatsu Satori way. In fact, I’m kind of relieved for the confirmation that I’m standing in the real world here!!”
But it was true it would have been a problem had she followed me.
I called up the map app with its pinned location.
“Maxwell, so the location is in the old factory section of the Hirano Ward residential district?”
“Sure. That area has shrunk in size as the city becomes more of a commuter town. So after the owner on paper changed countless times, they ran off in the night, leaving the rights to the land ambiguous. In other words, the area is poorly managed and difficult to find accurate information on.”
“I can’t believe this. And I built a hidden fort there when I was a kid.”
That reminder of the fort under the bridge brought a prickling to a corner of my mind.
But this was no time to be searching for happy memories.
I had to make for the abandoned factory.
There were environmental standards for residential districts, so the factories had been in the way. History had its winners and losers and one half of that equation appeared as a crumbling moonlit silhouette.
Whether it was debt collectors or scrap metal collectors, the inside was almost entirely stripped of machinery, leaving a giant empty space.
I walked through the dark room with my smartphone’s backlight and finally found “that”.
It was something no one was able to carry out: a round door like to a bank vault.
These were officially known as tornado shelters installed for free in all the houses and offices of disaster-prone Kukyou City. But I had never seen one of them open.
And I had learned the truth through “a certain method”.
The tornado shelter cover story was a lie and the city was actually filled with tunnels used to abduct Archenemies.
They were everywhere and could get in from anywhere.
These doors were inside every home and office, so there was no shutting them out.
I glanced to a biometric scanning panel and spoke.
“Maxwell. How long until you’ve hacked the system?”
I heard a quiet beeping.
Then I heard the complex latch opening with a series of rumbling sounds.
A text bubble appeared on my smartphone.
“Sure. That job is already complete.”
Did this seem to be going too well for an amateur high school boy? It was the opposite. If I took one step outside of the optimal course determined by Maxwell’s simulations, I would die instantly. It was like losing your life if the needle skipped even slightly on the record. I could not even afford to stumble.
It started here.
The underground facility was vast. Things changed considerably depending on what entrance I used. I was a normal high school boy, but I had repeated the simulation over and over until even that high school boy could strike back at the Bright Cross. I could only continue with this. I would know the facility better than its owners at this point.
(The server, the bats, short circuits, the backup timing, hardware damage.)
I repeated a few terms in my mind.
Time to settle things with the Bright Cross.
…Or so I thought.
My thoughts ground to a halt.
I came across something unexpected.
However, it was not that I ran across a group wielding machineguns or was attacked by tamed Archenemies as soon as I opened the door.
That would have been better.
As a vector, this was 180 degrees in the opposite direction.
There was nothing.
There was no one.
It was only a giant empty space. All of the specialty equipment and even the lights had been removed, so I wouldn’t have been able to see my hand in front of my face without my smartphone’s backlight.
But there had to be something here.
The loathsome Bright Cross had to be here!
“No. I am unable to find an appropriate answer to your question. This situation was not in the simulation. I strongly recommend you suspend this task and withdraw.”
I ignored Maxwell’s suggestion and stepped into the long, long tunnel of that subterranean world. And I started running.
It was like being in a school at night.
There was no life there. There were no signs of anyone there.
This was definitely bad. It was entirely unexpected. More than a needle scratch, the entire record player had toppled over. And I could easily die if I set even one foot outside the simulation!
“User, I am having trouble maintaining a signal. I cannot guarantee a connection to your device.”
The thick disaster-resistant concrete worked against me. If the Bright Cross’s system had still been active, Maxwell could have secretly used it to boost the signal with their antennae.
If I lost Maxwell now, I was completely out of luck. It was possible I wouldn’t even be able to find my way back to the door I had come in through. And it was the only one open.
“What do you think happened? Do you think it’s ‘just’ that the Bright Cross is all gathered in one spot?”
“No. I can construct a few theories, but I cannot provide any objective proof for any of them.”
“But whatever the case, this is not normal. We can assume they had a reason forcing them to do this.”
Had an Archenemy like Erika or Ayumi gone berserk inside the facility?
Or had there been a confrontation and split between the armed humans of the Bright Cross?
But it didn’t seem like either of those.
There was no damage anywhere. There was no blood splattered anywhere and no scars on the walls or floor.
Everything that had been here had simply vanished.
It was almost like they had predicted one of those more violent fates and skipped town before it happened…
“Did they predict we would be coming here today at this time?”
“There is no evidence to suggest that. How that information would have leaked out is also unknown. But it is one of several possible theories.”
“But why!? If they knew, they could have just laid an ambush for me. Or they could have just attacked before I did anything. Using these abduction tunnels of theirs!”
“No. I have no information leading to a useful answer. But as this has happened, the Bright Cross likely decided this would benefit them or reduce their losses.”
It made no sense.
What was the Bright Cross thinking?
“There is nothing you can do here. This underground space covers all of Kukyou City, so it is unrealistic for you alone to investigate it all. Will you recruit more help or will you use drone robots instead? Either way, I suggest you prepare some kind of plan.”
I had to start all over again.
I had spent so much time putting together this scenario to destroy the Bright Cross, but it was entirely useless now.
There was one place I wanted to check out.
The cold storage room in the medical lab.
The Level 4 Archenemies should have been kept frozen there, but it was as empty as everything else.
Not only were there no Archenemies, but I saw no sign of freezing equipment or even a single screw or nail.
The boxy space was so empty it seemed to be saying there had never been anything there.
The Bright Cross was not here.
I could not save the Archenemies.
I had never even considered this awful possibility.
“…One more place.”
There may have been no reason for this one.
My motivation was mostly just sentimentality.
It was the center of that twisted subterranean world.
Level 4: The Colosseum.
There had never been anything in that vast circular space. Multiple unmanageable Archenemies had been tossed inside and made to kill each other there. And that was why the Bright Cross had had no way of erasing it.
That place alone looked just as it had when I saw it via “a certain method”.
So it really did exist…
“User, your smartphone’s battery has dropped below 50%. And the odds of escaping this underground area without the light and my support are below 2%.”
“Understood. Let’s get back.”
I didn’t want to die pointlessly there. I was just shocked to find there was no one to bring out with me.
In addition to the Bright Cross humans and the equipment they had carried out, there had to have been Archenemies trapped in here too.
And they had been treated just like the supplies and equipment…
“Damn, so I guess it’s back to the drawing board.”
“Whatever the reason, shouldn’t you be delighted that the Bright Cross has left Kukyou City?”
But I didn’t want to be someone who was satisfied with this incomplete ending.
I started for the surface under Maxwell’s guidance. They had probably carefully planned their escape, so I doubted I would find any kind of hint leading me to them in this subterranean world.
But they had hid this giant facility from 800,000 people. They had to have spread their roots to the administration, the police, the construction companies that worked underground, the public utilities, the gas company, and the subway.
They had to have left their scent somewhere.
My next step would be figuring out where that was.
With that in mind, I returned to the entrance in the abandoned factory.
And then it arrived.
The heavy bursting sound shook my stomach more than my eardrums and a vortex of light split through the night sky.
Even in my confusion, I quickly realized it was gunpowder exploding.
I briefly thought someone had thrown a bomb at me. The Bright Cross would probably go that far.
But I was wrong.
“Sure. According to the administrative records, Katou Fireworks Production submitted a request for a test firing and their request was approved. But this is too large for a test firing. That was likely a cover story.”
Countless fireworks continued to fly up and create colorful rings of sparks in the sky.
Each one created hundreds of thousands of lights and some might have reached the millions.
But what were these fireworks celebrating?
My pulse was pounding and unease filled my chest.
“What is it, Maxwell?”
“I have received some interesting information via a Full Seg broadcast. It is a national broadcast.”
I didn’t want to watch it.
But I was afraid to throw this out.
Was this what it felt like to be a patient with an ominous shadow on the X-ray?
I breathed in and out.
And I spoke.
“Play it on the screen, Maxwell.”
The smartphone screen immediately switched to a TV broadcast. A young woman’s high-pitched voice came from a national key station.
“Archenemy vs. Archenemy! The Colosseum is finally beginning! This new form of gambling has the full approval of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare!! Getting a head start on the rest of the country, its home ground of Kukyou City is having one hell of a celebration!!”
Did she say Colosseum???
Isn’t that a terrible scandal sealed away in the darkness below Kukyou City? Isn’t that what the giant Bright Cross organization was working so hard to hide!?
What the hell is this?
Why is a sexy host boldly announcing it to the entire country in a brightly-lit studio!?
“This is Karen-chan, your host in the bright bunny costume. We were having trouble getting an official casino off the ground, so it ended up as this kind of gambling system instead. Looks like Japan’s creative spirit hasn’t been snuffed out quite yet! We’re brimming with the power to create new things and systems! Let’s get ahead of the world with an explosion of innovation! And that means this Colosseum as a new form of entertainment!!”
I was dumbfounded by what I heard from the long-haired host who wore a bunny costume that sparkled with the blue of a rainforest butterfly.
This was probably how American families had felt when they saw the news that funny-smelling dried plants had been legalized just because the prisons were running out of space.
In short: What the hell is wrong with you!!!???
“Maxwell, is this for real? Has the Bright Cross really gone public with their insane Colosseum!?”
“Sure. I checked the administrative system since they mentioned the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare and this has been officially approved. In addition to the politicians worried about negative opinion polls concerning the idea of publicly run casinos due to the benefits given to bureaucrats in the similar horse racing and lottery systems, a medical group like the Bright Cross would have already had a large pipeline set up with the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. It would not have been difficult to set this up.”
“We’re talking about televised public executions! Can they really get away with that? How can they!?”
The blue bunny girl on the screen seemed to answer my obvious question.
“Okay, okay. We ensure you that the money from the votes you cast for a winner – that is, the gambling tickets you purchase – will all be used to cover our management expenses. And the biggest of those is this! Every Archenemy that takes part will receive a substantial reward for every match they win. The first win nets them 10 million and each consecutive win doubles in value! Of course, they’re free to step down if they feel continuing would be too dangerous. They must fight fiercely and manage their funds wisely! We are rooting that these Archenemies will end up with a comfortable life!!”
…So that’s how they’re presenting it.
Even if an Archenemy collapsed after multiple battles, it would be the greedy contestant’s responsibility, not the management’s. And they had announced the prize money would come from the people who had bet on the loser. This would only increase people’s hate for the undead fighting in front of the cameras.
And the Archenemies wouldn’t actually be given the option to step down.
If every last one of them kept fighting unto death, the management would never have to pay a single yen in prize money. And so they would force the Archenemies to do exactly that.
“And if a contestant dies during the match, their body is given to the winner. Hm? I wonder what this special rule is for? Well, there will be tons of werewolves and vampires here. Whether it’s eating them or controlling them, I’m sure they have some use for it!”
They had even gone the extra mile.
Not only did this increase everyone’s hatred for the Archenemies being captured and forced to fight, but it also gave an excuse that rid people of any questions about what happened to them afterwards.
“The examples might be foreign, but there is precedent for combat tournaments that require contestants to sign away any liability if they die! We can’t let them outdo us! Look at boxing and professional wrestling bound by all their compliance rules! You can’t make anything unique with that! So let’s make a tournament with the highest of risks and the highest of returns!! Karen-chan here will be rooting for you!! Doom doom doom too too too!!”
This was insane.
Not only was this was being broadcast, but it was a national thing. A hundred million people were watching this and possibly even the entire world thanks to online streaming. Why didn’t anyone stop it? Why didn’t anyone stand up!?
A small box at the bottom of the screen displayed random messages sent to the official SNS account.
And they said:
“Ohhhh! I haven’t been this excited in forever!!”
“So an age of casinos is finally upon us.”
“We need to feel angry and depressed. But it’s amusing, so I’m still watching without getting involved. lol.”
There was no guarantee all of them were being honest.
People’s personalities often changed between a face-to-face conversation and on a faceless message board. And Maxwell had said politicians were supporting this after worryingly negative opinion polls about the possibility of publicly run casinos, so it was possible all of the positive opinions were from hired shills.
It was disgusting. It was utterly repugnant. I couldn’t accept that people were watching this fight to death in front of their dinner tables just because it was placed in a nice wrapper. And any sense of rejection melted away as they sided with the majority and as they laughed and angrily yelled at the victimized undead without feeling any guilt. That malice made me sick to the stomach.
I could barely stay standing, like I was anemic. My vision would have grown dark if I hadn’t stayed focused.
But the world didn’t care.
Karen spoke from the screen with a smile on her face.
“Itou Helen the witch vs. Kuroyama Hinoki the mermaid! Would you look at that! This is looking spectacular from the very first match!”
Those words were the last straw.
I recalled the small animal of a girl with wavy shoulder-length blonde hair who I had just recently met at the convenience store. That harmless underclassman had cowered down just from the guidance counselor getting after her for her skirt.
She was…an Archenemy?
And she had fallen into the Bright Cross’s hands!?
I had only just seen her.
If I had done something then, this wouldn’t have happened. No, why had she even spoken to me when we barely knew each other? Had she noticed the gazes targeting her? She had said I reminded her of her “Onii-chan”. Had that been a weird illusion brought on by her desire for someone to protect her?
Whether it had been intentional or not, she had sent out an SOS.
And I had rejected it.
So was it my fault this had happened?
“The match begins today at 10 o’clock. It’s an exclusive live broadcast! Whether you prefer a national broadcast, a satellite channel, or a video streaming site, just check out this station’s channel there! Ticket sales end 10 minutes in advance! Now, now! Get excited and take part. The Colosseum hopes you will find much excitement, happiness, and riches☆”
This is your confirmation paperwork.
Yes, yes. Just like always.
Now, please come in.
It would help if you went underground and entered using the parking lot’s industrial elevator.
Ha ha. Is that so? I thought you would be in a frenzy getting everything working under the new system, but it’s all moving surprisingly smoothly.
So what method are we using to replace the tunnels? What is Laplace saying?
Oh? A tour bus?
That’s pretty roundabout. A refrigerated truck for transporting fish would be more direct. You’re right. The bus might indeed be more convenient when you need to be able to stop wherever you want. My apologies. And with all the personnel you need to transport on a “job”, I suppose a tour bus would be best since the soldiers can ride up top while the “cargo” is held down below. I see.
Yes, I’m sorry.
I didn’t mean to delay you. Please keep up the good work.
I’m here at the scene. Yes, Itou Helen was just delivered.
A witch and a mermaid. That should make a decent initial impact. And it honestly wouldn’t be very pretty to have two filthy guys fighting each other.
Now we can safely restart the Colosseum.