He roared along.
Kamijou Touma raced through the concrete jungle of District 7.
He was not riding a normal car.
He was on an acrobike.
It was essentially a bicycle with electric assistance, but its top speed was over fifty kmh, its electronically-controlled suspension softened any impacts, and the giant disc-shaped gyros on either side of the front and back wheels gave it autonomous stability that kept it from falling over even when tilted to over seventy degrees. It was best known for being able to jump over two meters high using the suspension.
The pointy-haired boy violently pedaled the bike.
Something was approaching from behind.
It was closing in.
A great darkness had become a steel gale. It devoured any obstacles in the way. When a normal car drove into it from the side at an intersection, it knocked aside the car like a toy.
Normally, there would have been nothing anyone could do.
However, Kamijou Touma was an exception.
He sometimes used the road and sometimes took shortcuts by making large jumps to ride along the guardrail or sidewalk railing. He pumped out extreme speed without ever giving up. Tightrope walking with a bicycle may have seemed like a tricky stunt, but it was not all that difficult a cycle art using the acrobike’s exceedingly powerful gyro functionality.
A high-pitched alarm blared and a railway crossing gate lowered in front of him. A train was not going to rush by at tremendous speed. The slow freight train must have run into trouble because it was stopped, forming a long line blocking his way.
Kamijou’s way was blocked to the front and back.
However, he did not grab the brake lever. In fact, he placed more of his weight on the pedals. He truly produced his full speed. It looked like he was going to break through the railway crossing gate and collide with the container car, but that was not his plan.
He used another cycle art: sliding.
He swung the handlebars to the right just before reaching the railway crossing to turn the acrobike perpendicular to its direction of movement. He then tilted it as far to the left as possible and slipped below the railway crossing gate like a sliding baseball or soccer player. He then passed below the freight train’s high bottom and let the gyro recovery system right the acrobike again.
The dull sound of metal bending metal exploded behind him, but his battle was not over.
Without even giving him a break, several four-wheel drive vehicles approached from a different small road.
“Heh…eh heh heh. I-it’ll be like this, Kamijou-chan. Be sure to make the event as exciting as you-…”
“There’s no way I can do this!”
“W-wahh, wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!! Your attendance was already bad enough in the first term, but things are even worse now that it’s December and the second term. At this rate, no amount of working things out will save your chances of advancing to the next year, Kamijou-chan!!”
Thirty minutes had passed since Tsukuyomi Komoe, Kamijou Touma’s 135 cm homeroom teacher, had come crying to him.
Plenty of arguing had occurred in the intervening time.
Dirtied high schooler Kamijou Touma rested his elbow on the hallway windowsill and stared into the distance with a look of melancholy in his eyes.
The problem was how he was dressed.
First of all, the pointy-haired boy was not wearing his school uniform. However, he was not wearing his PE uniform either. He was of course not wearing a swimsuit, but surprisingly, that was the closest to the truth. It was 9 AM on December 3. Even if he had run away to snowy Denmark with the nearly-naked Othinus, this did not seem like a rational choice, but it was what he was wearing regardless.
He wore full-body flesh-colored tights.
The only other real clothing was a pair of white briefs.
Lastly, he wore a trench coat that looked right out of a Showa era comedy routine.
“Sigh… When I think about it, I’ve been through some crazy stuff.”
Kamijou Touma, the boy who had ended World War Three with a single fist and made an enemy of the entire world to protect a single girl, dandily muttered that comment while dressed like an absolute pervert.
Then again, this would likely have already broken him if he had not been through all of that.
He recalled what Komoe-sensei had told him.
“When you’ve skipped as much class as you have, Kamijou-chan, extra lessons during winter break aren’t enough! So your only option is to earn a whole bunch of points with an amazing performance as a criminal in our anti-crime orientation!! Um, you’ll still need extra lessons even with this, so don’t get your hopes up too much, okay?”
At any rate…
(I’m up against the entire student body, but it’s not like a game of tag where I lose if I’m caught. I just have to run around shouting for the allotted time, so this’ll be easy! And normal! I’ll show them the survival skills of normal high school boy Kamijou Touma!!)
That was when he heard hurried footsteps coming from the stairway. The anti-crime orientation had already begun and it seemed the others were already chasing down one of the “criminals”. Kamijou somewhat cautiously looked over because he did not want to get caught up in it himself, but it was a familiar face that ran into the hallway.
“N-nyah! Kami-yan, it’s dangerous here! Hurry and…hm!?”
Aogami Pierce arrived after him.
This created the miraculous sight of the idiot trio gathered together in matching skin-colored tights, white briefs, and trench coats.
However, Aogami Pierce took it a step further with a pair of panties over his head.
Before he could finish his first word, it looked like his neck bent in a sideways “V”.
It of course could not have actually done that. It should not have been able to, but that was how it replayed in Kamijou’s mind no matter how many times he tried to make sense of it.
In reality, Aogami Pierce’s neck had been tightly grasped by the U-shaped sasumata that flew in from the stairway. He was then sent flying to the opposite wall. As he struggled (Or convulsed? No, it couldn’t be.), more and more sasumatas flew in to pin his arms, legs, and torso to the wall.
What was that?
What in the world was it!?
A sasumata was a restraining tool shaped a lot like a medieval man catcher. It looked like a mop pole with a U-shaped piece of metal at the end and it was meant to safely hold the criminal’s body in place, so it was certainly not meant to be thrown like an assassin’s decapitation tool.
“G-gyhhh… I-I wonder if it’s true what they say about it feeling a lot better if you do it while being strangl- gogyhh!?”
Just as Aogami’s suffering began to transform into ecstasy, he received the finishing blow and went limp.
Kamijou cried out in his white briefs.
“Wh-what happened, Aogami!? And we were only given briefs, not panties!! Where did those come from!?”
“Don’t be stupid, Kami-yan! This is no time to worry about the dead, nyah!”
The grim reaper appeared with a sound as methodical as the ticking of a clock. Long black hair was parted wide, a mysterious steam-like aura left the mouth, and red light came from the eyes. As the coup de grace, the vicious fiend used only two arms to hold as many sasumatas as a bug had legs. Now, who was it?
“Fukiyose-san!? C’mon, this isn’t the time for you to finally reveal your hidden power! Besides, wasn’t your power the ability to do this with that to make it do that thing!?”
“The crime of making a pure maiden cry is a weighty one, you perverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrts!!”
“To ho ho. As always, this old woman wasn’t willing to hear us out.”
“Oh, is that what’s going on here? Why did Aogami have to go too far and get us caught in the crossfire!?”
They showed no sign of trying to save their crucified classmate.
Tsuchimikado was entirely focused on running down the hallway, but Kamjiou, man among men in white briefs, had a different idea.
He did not hesitate to lean right out the open window.
He ignored the rush of sasumatas assaulting Tsuchimikado (who was supposedly one of the greatest onmyouji experts and a spy in Academy City for multiple sides) and made a miraculous escape from the third floor window and onto the drain spout running vertically along the wall. There was a good reason that Kamijou Touma had made it to Part 42 of “What if your school’s students were replaced by aliens one by one?” and “What if you took over your school to create a kid’s kingdom?” in just the second term. (It was probably his fault that the amount of alcohol Komoe-sensei consumed had secretly gone up.) He hesitated over whether to escape up or down, but going down scared him because it would require checking how high up he was. For the time being, he kept his eyes on the sky with the safe fourth floor as his goal.
“Huh? It won’t open.”
He shook the window with his feet on the edge of the windowsill.
It was locked.
“Oh, no! It really won’t open!! And if I stay here for too long, the Fukiyose army is going to fire up at my ass from below!!”
Misaka Mikoto let out another white breath as she walked through District 7.
It was just past nine in the morning. If they had known this lady of Tokiwadai Middle School was wandering around the streets on a school day morning, her elegant foreign language teacher probably would have fainted and the monstrous dorm supervisor probably would have ripped off her coat to let her muscles swell out, but things were different just this once.
She held the following printout:
Fire precautions! The anti-crime orientation is coming up. This winter in District 7, the boundaries between schools will be lifted for some group roleplaying meant to raise anti-crime awareness.
If you’re playing a criminal, please surprise everyone.
If you’re playing a police officer, please capture the criminals.
If you’re playing a hostage, please run away from the criminals.
Everyone will be given a stamp each time they fulfill their role. Aim to conquer your stamp card! A fantastical hidden school lunch menu awaits you!!
(This doesn’t have anything to do with fire precautions.)
It may have started as a small event concerning arson countermeasures and had later grown into an orientation for crime in general that had no hint of the original event left.
At any rate, Mikoto had been assigned a police officer role.
Then again, the road here had not been an easy one.
After all, the area she was walking through was near that pointy-haired boy’s school.
(Shokuhou Misaki put up a quite a fight.)
The memory of it brought a tingle to her spine. The game of paper sumo wrestling had truly come down to the wire. Yokozuna Shokuhou had hidden some cardboard in her origami figure and stuck some pieces of eraser on its feet to increase its weight, so Mikoto would have been helpless had she not used a metal clip to let her freely move her origami doll around via magnetism.
It might have seemed like those high-class ladies were playing dirty, but they had been fighting over a single prize.
(The rights to the area with that idiot’s high school.)
Misaka Mikoto clenched her fist as she relished the flavor of victory once more.
Plus, she had an actual goal in mind, unlike that honey-colored succubus. She had a reason worth distancing both Shokuhou and Shirai Kuroko.
(How was all that stuff at Tokyo Bay resolved?)
She had worked alongside him at Tokyo Bay, exchanged blows with him in the snow of Denmark, and somehow found herself pushing him onward, but why had that Othinus person ended up on his side, why had he ended up running away from Mikoto and the others without telling them anything, and why had he ended up giving Othinus an emotional embrace on TV? She had never received an explanation for any of that.
She might not have cared that much if she had only seen it on an LCD screen from the other side of the world. He and Othinus had likely gone through something only they understood and had reconciled their differences. Everyone else was only seeing the highlight reel. She might have been able to accept that.
But Mikoto herself had been a part of it.
At the very least, she had been until they stepped onto Sargasso in Tokyo Bay.
She had been in a position to make any decision she wanted as one of the central players.
Yet in the very end, she found she understood nothing.
That filled her chest with noise. Not even she could explain just what emotion it was, but something with a sharp point to it was poking at the surface of her heart.
(Neither of us had the time for a long talk then.)
She thought to herself in silence.
(But now that it’s all over, I at least have the right to hear just what happened from beginning to end, don’t I? In fact, it is over, isn’t it?)
One day had led into another and Christmas time was fast approaching, but she had no real guarantee of that. In her relief and excitement when returning to Academy City, she had almost completely forgotten, but once the heat faded and she could think rationally, she found she could not relax with things the way they were.
She had to deal with this first.
There was one thing she was most worried about.
(He seemed really cornered back in Denmark.)
It had gone beyond simply being pursued by so many people and being physically and mentally exhausted. She had heard that boy complain. She had seen his weak side that he must have normally kept hidden because he was forced into the category of “older boy”, “high schooler”, or “upperclassman”.
This time, Mikoto intended to hear everything.
She had no reason to hold back on that.
But if she did this, his weak side would be the problem. That boy would want to avoid showing off the softest side of his heart with a lot of extra people around.
That was why Mikoto had needed to keep the #5 and anyone else away.
(It’s possible the answer won’t be enough to give me relief.)
Her preparations were complete.
(It’s possible my view of that idiot will change the instant I learn the answer.)
She had no guarantee that she would be okay with this, but she could only continue down the path she considered right.
(But I stood near the center of that commotion, so I still need to learn the answer. That’s why I’ve made up my mind. No matter how filthy, pathetic, or hopeless a thing you’re holding inside, I’m prepared to accept it. I swear I won’t selfishly hurt you after I was the one to ask.)
She focused her mind and raised her head.
She gathered strength in her gut.
She had thought about a lot, but the situation changed entirely once she arrived at a certain high school.
Her mistake was wondering if there was a small back entrance for faculty because she was too embarrassed to casually cut across the large schoolyard and enter the main entrance.
Once she arrived in the courtyard, she saw something.
A reckless pervert was peeping into a fourth-floor window while clinging to the wall like a frog.
The blowing wind allowed glimpses of white briefs inside the coat and she recognized the pointy-hair of Kamijou Touma.
Mikoto’s mind went entirely blank.
It seemed fate was cruelly made.
One of them was playing a police officer and the other was playing a criminal.
Tokiwadai’s ace made full use of her mind and even tried falsifying memories to somehow force this into a Romeo and Juliet narrative, but it proved hopeless.
That was when anger took over.
“I may have said I’d accept any answer, but that only goes so farrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!”
She jumped straight past using a lightning spear or iron sand sword.
An arcade coin flew through the air right off the bat.
In that instant, there was no way for Kamijou to avoid having his butt pierced at three times the speed of sound, but an upperclassman girl full of mature charm rescued him at the last second.
She unlocked the window from the inside, pulled Kamijou Touma in as he clung to the very edge of the windowsill, and brought him to a nearby empty classroom.
She had shoulder-length black hair and a winter sailor uniform that showed off her midriff because it was too small (in the chest).
She was Kumokawa Seria-senpai.
“Sigh. I don’t know what’s going on, but things are really noisy today. This is making it impossible to get a midday nap. …No, given the time, I guess it’s more of a morning nap.”
“Ohhhhhhhhhhh! Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, senpaaaai!!”
“What!? Why are you crying like a monster that was finally treated like a human being after having everyone throw stones at him!?”
Kamijou just about leapt into that chest overflowing with motherhood, but this girl had seriously saved his life back there. Based on how the school was still shaking from further blasts, that was no joke. He did not want to bother her, so he gathered the strength of his heart to restrain himself.
However, Kumokawa Seria had secretly tensed her shoulders and elbows in preparation, so she pouted her lips when nothing happened.
“(Hm. Sometimes being a gentleman can come full circle and be cruel.)”
She gave up on her welcoming pose, crossed her arms to lift her ample chest from below, and spoke entirely casually.
“Well, if you’re on the run, you can relax here for a while. This is my secret base.”
At first glance, the empty classroom only seemed to contain roughly piled-up desks and chairs, but looking around the room from the blackboard end showed a space filled with sunny window side spots. It also contained a small cooler full of chocolate snacks, convenience store cake, and bottles of drinks. Manga magazines and a small bath TV were also scattered about. A blanket was laid out on the floor and it was covered by a super thin and warm monster of a blanket. The advertisements he had seen on TV said it was made from some kind of material used on trips to space.
Kumokawa pointed here and there while sitting in her usual spot.
“You can grab whatever you want that’s lying around.”
“Hmm. I think I’ll pass.”
He was actually incredibly interested in the snow viewing Mont Blanc that was only sold in the winter, but something in petite bourgeois Kamijou stopped him from eating snacks at school. Even after passing through hundreds of billions of hells, confronting an actual god, and chatting with the US president, some things simply did not go away.
“Ugh. The bath TV’s showing a special on the acrobike.”
“I hear you backed out. How boring.”
“Were you the one pushing for that!? I read through all the documents, but there’s no way I can do that! Cycle arts? Doing that in the streets is a good way of breaking some bones!!”
Kumokawa seductively lay on the blanket, reached for the weekly manga magazine she had been reading, and surreptitiously hid it below the monster of a blanket. She instead forcibly opened a women’s fashion magazine to show off her upperclassman aura.
“By the way, senpai, what role were you given?”
“A hostage, I think. I didn’t really care, so I don’t remember.”
“Heh heh. Looks like you just upped your score, boy. You have a hostage now.”
Kumokawa gave a bewitching smile that seemed to have some hidden meaning, but Kamijou could not decide whether improving his score as the criminal was a good thing or not when the role had essentially been forced onto him as a type of punishment. This scared him because one wrong step would lead to being held back.
As he wondered about that, he heard multiple sets of footsteps racing down the hallway and Kumokawa’s eyebrows twitched as she lay in the sun by the window.
“Oh, honestly. They must have heard all the commotion Misaka was making by firing everywhere. And why is she even at our school anyway?”
“How about we choose our words more carefully?”
“Oh, no. It isn’t Fukiyose, is it!? She’s scary!!”
“If you’re worried, then keep quiet and hide. Get in here.”
Kumokawa shoved Kamijou under the monster of a blanket covering her legs. This was of course an upperclassman kind of thing that not just anyone could do, but…
“M-mgh! Senpai, um, there’s something…shoved against my face!”
“But, something’s…what is this? It’s hard? Senpai? Eh? Why? Ehh? And these corners… Please tell me this isn’t true. Are girls not as soft as I’d been led to believe? This can’t be true!!”
(Tch! It’s that manga magazine I shoved in there earlier!!)
Kumokawa ground her teeth at the fact that Kamijou had at least not seen what it was, but she could not turn back time.
Fortunately, the footsteps in the hallway did not reach the empty classroom. The hallway itself had likely become a scene of unthinkable horrors, so the individual’s focus had turned to the attacker down on the ground level.
After making absolutely sure the footsteps had left, Kamijou crawled out of his upperclassman’s blanket.
He felt like he had unlocked quite a few achievements in life’s trophy system over the past few minutes, but all he had actually felt was something with hard corners and the sweet aroma of chocolate. He could get all of that on his own at a nearby convenience store.
“Pwah. Is Fukiyose gone? You really saved me.”
“The orientation isn’t limited to our school, right? If you’re really worried for your life, it would probably be best to evacuate the school grounds until the heat dies down.”
“Y-you’re right. Okay! Thanks a bunch, senpai! I’ll be going now!!”
“Eh? No, wait. I was suggesting I could wander around with you!!”
He thought she had said something more, but he left Kumokawa Seria’s secret base as quickly as he could. Staying too long could reveal that base to the others and he doubted she wanted that.
He poked his head out the door, observed the hallway (which was almost falling apart thanks to the Railgun blasts), and first made sure no one was there.
Kamijou, the warrior in skin-colored full-body tights and white briefs, made his way down the hallway with the speed of a cockroach, descended the stairs, and made his way to the first floor entrance.
“I-I’m glad to see you know how to play the role of the pervert.”
“Huh? Senpai? Why are you here?”
He turned around by the shoe lockers and Kumokawa Seria cleared her throat.
“You can head outside if you want, but there will be ‘police officers’ out on the streets, too. Do you know how you’ll escape and what you’ll use for transportation?”
“Yeah, no worries there. There’s that new bicycle…um, the acrobike? Y’know, that electrically assisted monster. Komoe-sensei got a little carried away and ordered one for us, so I can borrow that.”
“(Now, I’m getting pissed off. He never thinks anything through, so why is he so prepared now of all times!?)”
Kamijou tilted his head and shoved a hand inside his shoe locker.
He felt something unexpected inside.
Whatever it was fluttered weightlessly through the air and he grabbed it before it reached the floor.
It was an envelope.
It was an elegant greenish-brown envelope that seemed to be made of high-quality Japanese paper. It also had cherry blossom decorations here and there.
After looking at the front, looking at the back, flipping it over again and again, and otherwise inspecting it, White Briefs Kamijou completed his appraisal with a tight expression.
“It’s a love letter!?”
Kumokawa Seria’s face instantly went pale.
Misaka Mikoto similarly tensed up while pressed against the wall near the entrance after being chased around by the other students.
But Kamijou Touma noticed neither girl’s reaction.
With the letter in hand, he began to wander toward some place where he could be alone, but he remembered the anti-crime orientation was still underway, hesitantly moved back and forth, and finally tore open the envelope’s seal where he was because he could not resist any longer.
He checked its contents.
The letter was also on high-quality Japanese paper. It was beautiful paper that would probably have been transparent when held up to the light. Slender handwriting covered the paper, but high school boy Kamijou had trouble reading it. Still, he made full use of his inadequate brain to read just the parts he could make out.
For a while, he had trouble grasping the situation, but understanding finally arrived. It sank in like melting ice.
He held the letter overhead in both hands and began spinning around in crazed joy.