Beginning of Tragedy 1
That day, an investigator of security bureau’s dangerous drug countermeasure section Vanessa Paradis was in bad mood. Usually she was someone with limited expression, but right now anyone who looked at her walking in the bureau corridor would immediately understand that her expression was sullen.
「You look really in a bad mood huh, Paradis.」
When Vanessa taken off her gaze toward the voice that suddenly addressed her, she saw a man with goatee around his early forty clad in sharp atmosphere there.
「Hughes-san. No, not really, I’m not in a bad mood……」
「Don’t lie. You carried secret investigation for half year, and just when it will be time soon, you got taken off the team. It can’t be helped even if you get bad mood. If it’s me then there is no doubt I’ll be in bad mood.」
Vanessa stuttered, feeling lost of what she should say and her gaze wandered.
Davy Hughes. He was a senior investigator in the same security bureau’s dangerous drug countermeasure section with Vanessa, a veteran senior who would soon reach his twentieth year in this career. He was also an eccentric that was fixated with his current post to the degree that he refused down the chair of section head regardless of his numerous achievements.
「Well, the one pulling you out was me though.」
Hearing Hughes exposing his own deed without looking the slightest bit sorry caused Vanessa to be truly wordless this time. She was also staring fixedly at him on the same time.
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Hughes made a wry smile at Vanessa who was at such state. He urged Vanessa to continue her walk toward the bureau chief office that was her destination before he started his explanation while walking at her side.
「Don’t glare at me like that. My team is in need of you really much right now. I got squad leader Ahmed to reassign you to me while enduring storm of sarcasm from him just so you know.」
「……If I remember correctly, Hughes-san became the leader of 【Berserk Case】investigation team right? Not even two days should have passed since the team’s formation……but, is there some development already?」
「Yeah. The situation is confusing in various aspects. From the beginning this case is something unrealistic, so it also can be said that it cannot be helped. There was a report right from the origin cause themselves. It’s likely that they will use the protection program but……the protection target is a girl that is still 16 years old.」
「I see. So an agent of the same gender is necessary then.」
「Right. I’ll let the chief tell you the detail. I’m also going there now. I’m sorry that I’m asking unreasonable things from you, but there is no female agent stronger than Paradis for protection duty, I’m relying on you.」
「If Hughes-san is evaluating me that high, then I’ll also won’t throw tantrum. Please take care of me.」
Hughes chuckled from Vanessa’s words while replying「Take care of me too」. Regardless of how veteran he was, but he wasn’t putting on air against Vanessa who still hadn’t graduated from newbie territory, perhaps this too was one of the reasons he was able to leave behind his numerous accomplishments. For a senior investigator leading a team, it was important how one treated their subordinate.
Vanessa’s mood that was falling to the bottom took a sudden climb with *gyuin!* sound from hearing the words that were highly evaluating her said by a respected veteran investigator. Unexpectedly this Vanessa was easy to handle.
Although Vanessa’s expression didn’t change at all from receiving the sharp glint of the gaze of national security bureau chief, Sharon Magdanese, but inside her heart she was tasting a nervousness as though she was made to do a tightrope walking,
Chief Magdanese was a woman with age that looked like she was in her sixty, but she had been entrusted with the seat of national security bureau chief far before Vanessa even entered the bureau. Her pressure and dominating aura that pushed those who faced her into crucible of nervousness didn’t seem to weaken throughout her age but even more polished instead.
「Agent Paradis, those are the current state of【Berserk Case】. You understand don’t you?」
It wasn’t “Do you understand?” but it was as though she was saying “You understand don’t you? Don’t you? I won’t let you say you don’t”, Vanessa responded back「Yes」while thinking that if she gave any other reply than that then she might get fired.
Hearing her reply, Chief Magdanese nodded with a single word「Good」really naturally, then her gaze moved to Hughes.
「Senior Agent Hughes.」
「I will recognize the application of the protection program for Emily Grant and her relatives, as well as the people connected with the development of【H3-α4】headed by Professor Reginald Down. However, make Emily Grant as the prioritized protection target. You get it don’t you?」
「Roger. Are we going to head there right away? If possible, I want to have a briefing session beforehand with my team first.」
「……I don’t mind. It will be conspicuous if several agents of security bureau visited while the sun is still high. Do it late at night. I’ll let you know later about the time. If Kimberly is among the current bodyguards then I don’t think there will be any problem, but just in case, place some of our men among the university’s security and janitor.」
There was no worry of any complication with Hughes’s responsive reply. While Vanessa was staying quiet, Chief Magdanese and Hughes did two, three more exchanges, and in the end Chief Magdanese asked「Is there any question?」.
Vanessa who noticed that the gaze was directed to her gave a nod.
「Chief, in the case that we encountered someone that took that【H3-α4】and become the alias【Berserk】, what will be the method to deal with it and the order of priority?」
「Silence the target. I won’t question the method.」
It was an immediate answer. Vanessa who asked the question spontaneously lost for word. The chief telling her to silence the target without questioning her method meant that “it was okay to kill”.
「……Is there any method to save the people that is affected by the drug――」
「According to Doctor Emily Grant, currently there is no medicine that can return people who turned Berserk back to normal. It’s not like I don’t understand your feeling that want to apprehend this drug’s victim with the hope that someday a cure will be developed. However, that is the role of enforcement section, at the very least that’s not your job. I won’t let you say that you don’t understand you know?」
「Of course, chief. My apologies.」
Vanessa lightly lowered her head while feeling Hughes smiling wryly at her side before she asked one more question.
「Just now, there was the explanation that the culprit that leaked out the drug’s data is unclear, but how much the progress of the analysis about that currently?」
「Let’s see. Analyst Parker, explain.」
In respond to Vanessa’s question, Chief Magdanese addressed the man standing by beside her who looked like was still in his twenty. The slender young man was wearing glass and looked timid, and for some reason his eyebrows were constantly forming figure ‘八’ looking troubled, which further strengthened his timid impression.
Analyst Allen Parker who became the chief’s direct subordinate after his excellence was highly evaluated around three years ago, operated the note PC on his hand while starting to explain.
「To inform you first, currently we still haven’t obtain information to the degree that we can analyze. After all, it is only two day since the【Berserk Case】, and the notification from the university only came several hours ago so…… Currently rather than an analysis, please think of it as conjecture instead.」
Allen confirmed that Vanessa and Hughes had nodded and projected the content of the note PC he operated into a large display. There, the profiles of Emily, Professor Down, Hendricks and others that were obtained from who know where complete with their photo were projected.
From there, there was brief explanation of the background of Emily and others, and it was reported there that【H3-α4】――nicknamed【Berserk】(it was named so from the media’s naming of the previous incident as【Berserk Case】) was kept secret until the incident.
「Based on the present situation, it appeared that the highest possibility is that someone among Down laboratory leaked out the data. The motive is unknown. Grudge, craving for fame, destructive wish, stress venting, or possibly……playfulness, perhaps?」
Allen said something like that while winking, perhaps with joking intention. Vanessa’s intensely chilly gaze pierced into him. From behind the tundra gaze of Chief Magdanese stabbed him. It was only Hughes who sent Allen a praising face that said「You, are you a hero」as though he had changed his evaluation to Allen.
「Hn, hn, cough-. E, ee, next possibility, is the case where outside people, or perhaps an organization was involved with this. Those with the high possibility to be able to know about the existence of【Berserk】even if just a fragment of it, we included them and the people related to them――for example, friend, family, the staff of the laboratory, the shop they went to, scientific society, part-time workplace, et cetera~――into the list. And then we eliminated the unlikely possibility by investigation, next we added various conditions, like who wouldn’t be able to bring out the data without anyone knowing and produced the rough list of the suspects like this.」
The data on the display was switched with roughly ten enterprises, people, organizations, and so on. Each suspect’s display was also accompanied with their respective possible motive and also the conjecture of the method of stealing.
Vanessa came to a comprehension. Certainly this person was in the level that was worthy to be working directly at the side of Chief Magdanese. The person himself said things like「It’s not in the level of analysis」or「There is too little time」, but the average analyst would surely be unable to form a logical conjecture to this degree.
「……I see. Thank you very much for the easy to understand explanation, analyst Parker.」
「Ahaha. I said it before that this isn’t in the level of analysis or anything. Please don’t have something like strange preconception okay? But, if you are giving me thanks, then please, by any means don’t be so unfamiliar and call me “Allen”――」
「Hughes-san. Looking from this, even if the protection program is applied to them, there is no way we can let them stay together isn’t it?」
「……Yeah, you’re right. There is enough possibility of an inside job, and it’s unthinkable that the culprit is sane seeing they released Berserk in the middle of city. At the very least Doctor Grant has to be placed separately from the other. But in that case, I’m worried that the girl’s mental state would be increasingly burdened. Paradis, I’m really relying on you here.」
「Please leave it to me.」
Analyst Allen’s face was twitching from being ignored as though nothing happened. Hughes made a sidelong glance at him with a thought「What a guy……」, his gaze was as though he was looking at a hero as expected. Chief Magdanese was covering her eyes.
Chief Magdanese glared at Allen at the side, then she asked whether Hughes or Vanessa had other question, to which the two shook their head and she commanded them to leave. After lightly bowing their head, the two exited the office, Chief Magdanese saw them off before turning her gaze to Allen who was plainly feeling down.
「Haa, just why I am having no luck with woman like this? Just what is not good from me? I think my face isn’t that bad, and I’m always paying attention to being humorous and friendly, yet――chief, is it okay for me to focus myself in analyzing the method to be a bit popular among women?」
「……It’s fine. You don’t even need to come anymore tomorrow.」
「Eh!? Why is the talk suddenly about firing me!?」
As I thought, perhaps I’m mistaken with the personnel selection――Chief Magdanese was recalling the thought that she had been thinking about all this time since three years ago while restraining her feeling that was wanting to fill Allen who was vehemently objecting「No way……chief. If you take even my paying job from me, then how will I become popular!?」with lead bullet. She then gave her command.
「Stop joking around with that much. You get it don’t you?」
「No, I’m not joking here……no, nothing at all. I totally understood.」
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When Allen was about to object, he was pierced by the serious eye glint of Chief Magdanese which made him to tensely salute in panic. Chief Magdanese sighed seeing Allen who was like that.
A heavy atmosphere was hanging in the air inside a room of Percival University’s research building. Emily was looking down with pale face while her eyes were shaking, Professor Down was holding the girl’s hand tightly in kind consideration, at their opposite side was Lizzie who was patting Emily’s head.
In this place right now, other than Hendricks, Dennis, and Rod, there were also the remaining members of Down Laboratory whose name were Hessica Cubit, Sam Redman, and Milo Yenny.
Jessica was a female student with relatively light attitude who recently poured her energy into fashion rather than research, but her normally light atmosphere now quietened down and her expression looked grim.
Even Sam who was often told「You are absolutely more suited to be a martial artist rather than researcher」by Dennis and Rod with his muscular body that was taller than 190 cm, and also Milo who was a black person and came from America as transfer student, normally they were youth with bright atmosphere, but now their expression was turning grave.
Inside that heavy air that was catching them into quagmire, a light voice that couldn’t read the mood or perhaps it dared to ignore it entirely instead was resounding.
「Well, that’s how it is. Missy, you just focus yourself in the research for the antidote alone without worrying about anything. You can look forward for a flawless facility and security there.」
The owner of the voice was an investigator of national security bureau’s dangerous drugs countermeasure section――Kimberly Warren.
At the afternoon, he and Hughes came here after receiving the report from Professor Down and questioned everyone about the situation. After that Kimberly remained here in order to guard Emily and others while Hughes finished his report and preparation to lead a team back here.
And then, while Kimberly made arrangements with the dispatched undercover agents and waited for the decision of the concrete planning from here on, finally a communication came from Hughes just now.
According to the communication, the adoption of the protection program was recognized and the team would wait for late night before coming to pick them up. Regarding the protection program, in consideration of the possibility that there was someone among Down classroom aiming for Emily’s research, Emily would be protected at another place that had an environment that could be used for research, where she would be asked to endeavor at researching the antidote there. The communication also mentioned that until the antidote was completed, don’t mention the members of Down classroom, even her parents wouldn’t be able to meet her.
「Agent Warren. Is it possible for even just one person, whether it’s me or someone among the students to accompany Emily?」
Professor Down argued vehemently at Kimberly who looked like he wasn’t mindful at all about Emily’s state. However, Kimberly was making an expression as though he was facing an unreasonable kid while saying「Haa?」and curtly rejected the request.
「I’m troubled here if you are saying stupid question like that, professor. In this situation where the culprit is unclear, even all of you are included among the suspects, you should understand that right? There is no way the missy――the doctor can be left together with you.」
「Then, at least, her parents can――」
「Please spare me from your begging. This is the decision from above, it’s not something I can do anything about.」
Kimberly scowled feeling that it was really troublesome and looked away while cutting off Professor Down’s words.
「Why-. Emily’s parents is not related with this! Then――」
「Teacher, it’s okay. I’ll be okay! I’ll finish right away if it’s just making something like the antidote!」
Emily stopped Professor Down who stood up with a menacing face looking as though he would grip Kimberly’s collar. Emily puffed up her chest while chuckling「Fufufu」to show that she was okay just like she said, but looking from the viewpoint of Down classroom’s members who had accompanied her like family until now, it was obvious that she was forcing herself.
The lonely time when Emily first enrolled into university became a little trauma for her. That little girl in an environment where not only she didn’t have any acquaintance, on the contrary everyone around her were all far older than her, caused her to be cornered.
That was why, if she was told that in this kind of urgent situation she would be separated not only from her father substitute and her older siblings substitute, but she would also be unable to contact her parents, then even if she understood that it was only for a limited time until she managed to make the antidote, she couldn’t help but feel the great tightening in her heart.
「Well, no matter how much you protest here, the decision stands. Just resign yourself and make the antidote right away. You are genius right? Then you will be able to meet them again before long.」
「Someone like you is……the person with you before, Hughes-san wasn’t it? Don’t you think you should learn a bit from your superior?」
Professor Down shook his head while sighing hearing the careless remark of Kimberly who irresponsibly made light of Emily’s brave bluffing. Kimberly grinned broadly in amusement to that and only shrugged at the fierce glare of the professor.
However, as expected when he was glared not just by Professor Down but also by Hendricks and others, he seemed to feel uncomfortable and lifted both his hands as though he was surrendering before exiting the room right away.
「Perhaps the investigator’s quality of the country’s organization has been really falling these days.」
Professor Down whispered while sighing.
「But, teacher. Wasn’t Hughes-san who came with that person looked like a sincere person? He said that he will also assign a female agent for me.」
「But still, Emily. Agent Warren said it right? It’s “the decision from above”. The one that decided so that Emily is alone is that agent Hughes. Or perhaps it’s a person even more above you know?」
The expression of Emily who bluffed by saying「It’s okay!」slightly clouded from anxiety as expected from the words of Professor Down.
Even Hendricks, Lizzie, and others were also making dark expression. Amidst them, Professor Down closed his eyes in worry before he moved his gaze to Emily with a determined expression.
「Emily. I have a really bad premonition. No matter how I think about it, it’s strange that they are trying to separate you from even your parents. By any chance, perhaps the security bureau has some other objective, something more than merely protecting Emily to have you create the antidote.」
「Teacher…… But, we have already reported to them……」
Finally Emily’s bluffing expression fell off and she displayed a face where anxiety was mixed with bewilderment. Professor Down spoke more words to her.
「We can just deny that. Even so, if they still try to take away Emily alone even after that, then that will proof for sure that they have no good thinking in their mind.」
Professor Down then cut off his words, he crossed his arms and closed his eyes, after falling silent for while, he opened his mouth slowly.
「…………Emily, I have an acquaintance that have a research facility.」
「Yes. He also has a high social position, and he is reliable too. He should be able to give us shelter while lending us research facility until we finished making the antidote. What do you think? Though as expected, it’s impossible for everyone to go, but if it’s there then it’s possible for me and your parents to come along. Besides, you will also be able to contact Hendricks and others. That’s why, before we are separated from each other, before you are isolated alone, won’t you evacuate there for the present?」
Emily stared without moving at Professor Down who made an unexpected proposal with a serious expression. Hendricks and others were also sending shocked gaze at Professor Down.
「I know it’s strange coming from me who was the one that suggested to report to the security bureau. But it seems that the government cannot be trusted at all. There is no way I can entrust Emily who is already like my important daughter to that kind of place. To say nothing of how you will be alone there……」
Emily’s gaze wandered around in hesitation. She could be together with everyone――that plan rang really nicely in her ears, it was a tempting proposal for her……however, it was unthinkable for her that the security bureau would overlook them in this abnormal situation where a drug could change human into a berserker and it was urgent for its antidote to be developed, furthermore it was themselves who reported about it.
Naturally, there was a possibility that she would cause much trouble for Professor Down who said he would shelter her, and also his acquaintance that would be the one actually sheltering her. Perhaps all of their social status and prestige could be destroyed because of that.
However, Professor Down who seemed to guess that thinking of Emily grasped the trembling hand of Emily tightly, and then he sent her a gentle gaze just like when he reached out to her the first time.
「Emily, you don’t need to worry needlessly. You are a first class researcher, but at the same time you are also still a sixteen years old child. It’s mistaken for a good child like you to shoulder everything in this kind of emergency. That’s why, it’s okay for you to depend on others. No, rather I beg you as someone that is like family to you. Please, I want you to depend on me.」
Emily looked down to hide her expression. It wasn’t because she was hesitating, but because if she didn’t look down then her welling up emotion would become flowing drops of tear.
「Emily, let’s depend on teacher’s kindness here. Even we are also unable to let Emily be alone in this current situation.」
「That’s right…… If it’s Emily, then surely you will be able to make the antidote right away. That’s why, let’s agree with teacher’s proposal okay?」
Starting from Hendricks and Lizzie, the other members also raised voice of agreement with Professor Down’s proposal.
Everyone of them was worried for Emily without exception, they were wracking their brains to look for the best possible future for Emily.
She was really blessed. Emily was thinking that from the bottom of her heart while taking a deep breath, then she nodded while firmly looking at Professor Down.
「Great, it’s decided then. Everyone, please cooperate with me. Even if we talk to agent Warren about this, he would only stop us. Then, let’s ask for his approval only after it’s done. I and Emily will head to my acquaintance’s place ahead, so can you all distract agent Warren’s attention for us?」
「Got it. This is for Emily. We will do it somehow.」
After Hendricks nodded strongly, the other members also nodded with resolve in their face.
「Hahah, who’d ever thought that a time will come where we will think about outrageous thing like outwitting the security bureau agents in active duty like this. Isn’t this like in a movie?」
「Rod. Don’t get too optimistic. After all you are the one with the highest possibility of making mistake here.」
「What did you say-, Dennis! Ain’t you the one who is always getting cold feet at critical time and caused blunder?」
「It’s the cliché that normally the guy who is spouting big words is actually the one getting cold feet. Rod, that refers to you.」
「Okay, I rea~lly get it that you are picking fight with me. Let’s get outside Dennis. I’ll make that glasses get sticky all over with my finger’s sweat.」
「Bring it on. I’ll perfectly stitch your slovenly chest so that you won’t be able to expose it for the second time.」
A small giggle echoed inside the room that had its atmosphere lightened up with Dennis and Rod’s usual swearing. When Dennis and Rod turned their gaze there even while their hands were still grasping each other’s collar, they found the figure of Emily who leaked out that chuckle from being unable to endure the scene.
Lured by that, Hendricks, Lizzie, Jessica, Sam, Milo, and the Professor Down began to laugh.
Emily made an amazing smile while tears were gathering on the corner of her eyes. With a really lovely smile that was like blooming flower she said……
「Thank you, Dennis-oniichan, Rod-onii-chan.」
Dennis and Rod who were given the greatest present with the designation that was seldom used for them, they silently tidied up their clothes and made a fake cough. And then they sat back quietly with their face dyed red until their ears.
「Now then, with the return of Dennis, Rod, and Emily’s smiling face, let’s focus on the detail of how we will outwit the security bureau.」
Professor Down’s command, as usual it instantly made the students renewed their focus. For the sake of their cute little sister’s future, they talked their opinion to each other with an expression that was even more serious than usual when they were at research or lecture.
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