Large splashes danced at the broad river with cloudy light brown water. Wave was spreading as though the river was being cut up from something heading upstream.
The cause was a black coated boat――Triana. Taking in water and then jetting it out, all the chain of process was moving with magic power in jet propulsion mechanism, so the driving force was shockingly silent when compared with normal engine that was using propeller mechanism.
「Nn~, it feels good desuu~」
Rabbit ears were energetically flapping *patapatapatapata-*. Shia’s whole body was showered by wind while she narrowed her eyes pleasantly.
The speed that couldn’t be obtained from the local old boats seemed to grant the rider with pleasant wind. Even Hajime who was similarly basking in the wind while holding the wheel nodded 「You’re right」 in a good mood.
「Hajime-san, Hajime-san, I also want to drive.」
「……Just sit obediently there.」
Shia was making her request with eyes that were sparkling with hope, but sadly Hajime whose eyes twitched for an instant rejected it. Shia’s cheeks puffed up roundly. It was easy to guess that she was appealing 「I’m dissatisfied desu!」 with that expression.
「I want to drive desuu!」
「Are you a spoiled brat. Even though you puffed up your cheek like that, if I say no then no.」
「Why!? Just what kind of problem is there with me driving!?」
‘Heh?’ Shia tilted her head in puzzlement. Her expression looked as though she had just heard an unknown word. It seemed that at the very least she was believing without a doubt that it was a word that was completely unrelated and inapplicable with her.
「Now see here……」
「Wha, what’s with that exasperated face?」
「I’ll tell you then if you don’t have awareness of it……sometimes there are people who will change completely when they are holding the wheel right? You are exactly that kind of type. Currently Schutaif feels like it’s mostly for Shia’s exclusive use but……」
「That’s right, if it’s vehicle running with magic power, I’m already riding Schutaif around regularly, so there is no problem at all!」
「Try saying how many times you have been chased by the police.」
Shia stared to the sky. Aa, today too the sky is really clear. For the sky to be this blue……
「Oi, what’s the matter rampaging rabbit. I’m telling you to say how many times you’ve been playing tag with a few dozen patrol cars.」
「……I don’t really understand what is it about I wonder――」
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「Far from obeying the word 『STOO~PP!』 of the police, you were yelling 『If you can catch me then try to damn catch me desuu!』 while driving recklessly. You were putting out speed more than 200 km/hour even though you were at public highway and won the race by a wide margin, now try saying who that person could possibly be.」
Shia’s rabbit ears were flopping limply as though to say “the rabbit ears feel painful”.
However, the reproachful eyes of Hajime-san didn’t stop from dealing additional blow. He divulged every evil committed by the rabbit who would rampage when she held the wheel!
「How many times you won against the bunches that looked like delinquents or biker gang while mocking them 『S-LO~OW! DESUU!』? Who is the one who secretly got called as 『the mysterious rampaging anegobig sis』?」
「……Tha, that’s a person who accidentally resembled me you know? It’s a different person.」
「You know, just in case Schutaif has the recognition obstruction function for its rider, and its number will automatically get rewritten periodically, the police must be unable to identify the criminal.」
By the way, among the polices this person was known as 『the rampaging girl with screw loose』. The high speed riot squad carried out improvement to their car in order to oppose Shia, while the squad members were levied with demonic training in order to raise their driving skill, and finally even the sortie of helicopter became a common thing, but because the criminal’s identity was still unknown they were all holding their head in frustration……
「Tha, that’s right. The criminal’s identity is unknown. In other words, it’s not me! Oh dear, in this world there is that kind of outrageous people isn’t it!」
Actually, Shia got into the hobby of driving other than her martial art hobby. She was enjoying rampaging at holiday or late at night. What was troubling, rather than driving in vast plain like at Tortus, she preferred to drive at maintained road like at the urban area of earth.
Perhaps she had self-awareness as a bad rabbit who was averting her eyes from Road Traffic Act in full power while merely pursuing speed. It seemed she was intending to keep a secret her hobby of driving recklessly and hid it from her family in her own way but……
Everything was seen through already. Hajime’s gaze stabbed at her with that meaning.
「You think the mass media didn’t sniff it out after you rampaged that much?」
A girl of unknown identity who although she didn’t steal anything, but she was running around at night on bike. No matter how much effort was spent to capture her, she would escape. And mysteriously, it was mysterious how that girl left no impression at all except that she was a “young girl”.
It wasn’t a complete removal of memory, so there was no way the mass media wouldn’t bit at it.
「Bu, but, there isn’t anything in the news or anything……」
「Because I dealt with it.」
She let out ‘guu’ sound. Shia’s gaze kept swimming around a lot. (Note: In Japan, there is a phrase of ‘cannot even make a guu sound’, which mean someone is so speechless they cannot say anything back)
Hajime-san was making a reproachful stare in the level of Yue while dealing the final blow.
「Before this, Myuu made a mess by doing dog fight with ASDFAir Self-Defense Force using toy aircraft.」
「When I asked her why did she do that, 『It’s unfair that only Shia-oneechan had fun nano! Even though Myuu cannot ride both Schutaif or Brieze! That’s why, Myuu played with JSDF officer using Tomcat-tan! Just like Shia-neechan! Just like Shia-neechan!』 she said――」
「I’m really deeply sorryyy! I’m the criminal desuu!」
Shia did dogeza posture on the deck of Triana’s bow. On her but, her rabbit tail was flapping *patapatapata-* from wind.
Hajime sighed and patted Shia’s head fluffily while saying.
「Because of that reason, not letting Shia holding the wheel while there are other people riding together is the decided matter of Nagumo family emergency family meeting that was held while you were in the middle of rampaging.」
「Tha, that kind of decision was made while I was becoming wind……」
Shia’s expression was becoming lost for words while this time she was sitting meekly on her seat. Thinking that she finally accepted it, Hajime too shrugged his shoulders and returned his concentration to the driving.
For a while, while enjoying the wind and the sound of water, Shia suddenly titled her head saying 「Eh?」.
「If everyone know, why didn’t anyone stop me?」
Shia didn’t know the chronology, but from Hajime’s spoke before, it felt like Shia’s driving hobby was known already from the start.
Then even though it would be fine if he just stopped her normally, why was he instead didn’t say anything and even went as far as quieting the mass media……
Thinking about it, just now too Hajime said to her 「he is riding together so he cannot leave the driving to her」, but he didn’t tell her to stop her habitual reckless driving.
Hajime’s answer toward that question was,
「You like it right? Running on bike.」
In other words, it was like that.
He didn’t stop her because it was something that Shia liked. Rather, he did all in his power so that Shia could have fun.
The recognition obstruction function that was installed in Schutaif was also a part of it. With Shia’s reflex, driving technique, and Schutaif’s excellent operability that was working together with direct operation of magic power, surely there wouldn’t be any incident even in the slightest chance, but twofold and threefold safety measures were still prepared ahead of time that covered even until the risk of indirect incident. The countermeasure against mass media was naturally also being done.
Shia’s expression turned into a look as though she had stuffed her cheeks full with delicious sweets that were extraordinarily sweet.
And then, like that she quietly stood up and wordlessly embraced Hajime’s back. She circled her hands around him from behind and hugged tightly. She put her chin on Hajime’s shoulder and rubbed her cheek on his side face.
「Oi oi, it’s getting hard to drive.」
「You can directly steer using magic power operation righttt~」
Her melting voice sounded as sweet as her expression. Hajime chuckled slightly and he fluffied Shia’s head from across his shoulder.
Travel date of just the two of them……the air became sweet anytime there was an opening.
If they were looked from the side, it wasn’t any inferior with Hajime & Yue at their Tortus period. If the classmates were here, surely everyone would harmoniously get the malady of vomiting out sugar.
But, at that time, some kind of large object from upstream was flowing near with strong momentum. Shia who noticed that while still embracing Hajime from behind raised her voice「Ah」.
「Hajime-san, a large driftwood is――」
‘Right there. It’s dangerous.’ The moment she was going to say that,
*Uin! Gakon-! Pashu! Chudon-!!!*
「Hm? What did you say?」
The large wood that was flowing in direct course to block the river became the prey of pencil missile!
Triana went right through on the river that was colored with flame blast and water pillar as though nothing had happened. A barrier that let wind passed but deflected rain was blocking the pouring down water. However, the heat wave was caressing Shia’s cheek.
Perhaps because of the surprise from the explosion that suddenly occurred, a crocodile put out its head from the river! It tried to run away to the river bank in panic! A lot of birds were flying up from the opposite bank!
The gatling reacted!
*Uin! Gakon-! Stand b~~~~y!*
「WAAAAAAAAAH, CROCODILE-SAN WATCH OO~~~UT DESU!」
Shia leaped at the gatling on the starboard and directed the muzzle up forcefully. At the same time, she took out a metal ball from treasure warehouse and used only her foot to kick it flying, directing the muzzle of the gatling at the ship’s port to different direction too.
Rain of bullets flew out to above and rear. Shia slightly didn’t make it in time and several shots attacked the crocodile-san and all the bird-san.
A bullet grazed *chuin!* the crocodile-san and it desperately escaped in a state that it felt like「NOOOOOOO-, CROCODILE KILLERRRR!」 such scream could be heard. While all the bird-san, with an act that might be from their instinct, they dispersed with movement so splendid that it felt like「BREAK! BREAK UP!」 could be heard. In addition they succeeded a super dodging from the bullets’ trajectory using beautiful barrel roll.
Shia spoke while grabbing hard on Hajime’s shoulders.
「Hajime-san, please switch place with me.」
「Why? Just what kind of problem is there with me driving?」
‘Heh?’ Hajime tilted his head in puzzlement. His expression looked as though he had just heard an unknown word. It seemed that at the very least he was believing without a doubt that it was a word that was completely unrelated and inapplicable with him.
Although the vector was different, Hajime too was a habitual offender of doing dangerous driving.
That’s dangerous driving just now! Nagumo family, assemble! An emergency family meeting is needed desu!
After that, they were advancing for around an hour while there was scramble for the wheel on the ship.
Hajime and Shia finally arrived at the riverside that was near the rumored ruin that was their destination. From here onward they would walk.
「Huff, huff, Hajime-san you blockhead! In the end you didn’t let me to hold the wheel even once!」
「Haa, haa, na, naturally. Shia’s driving is dangerous after all.」
Both of them mutually deployed fierce offense and defense with Triana’s steering wheel in the line which caused their breathing to somewhat rise. They got down on the bank. Shia was looking at Hajime storing Triana into the treasure warehouse while discharging objection with her rabbit ears looking disheveled.
「It’s Hajime-san who is driving dangerously with high killing power!」
「Where. Removing dangerous animal or a driftwood that we won’t get away unscathed if we collided with are rather an act that remove danger.」
「Does Hajime-san has the awareness that you are the most dangerous organism in earth? Or rather, just what is dangerous from the bird-san, try saying it.」
「……About the bird-san, honestly it’s not like I’m not thinking that I didn’t do anything bad. I’ll improve the gatling’s movement sensor later.」
That wasn’t it. In earth where it wasn’t like there was a monster, gatling――or rather, something that was functionally a sentry gun being installed in a boat, that act itself was dangerous.
「……That thing was attacking automatically. At least please make it something that is operated manually.」
「Removing Sentori-sensei, you said? How dare you say such rude thing.」 (Note: In Japan, sentry is read as sentori. Also, the sentori here is written with kanji of thousandsen, and birdtori, which is sentry gun’s nickname in Japan.)
Hajime who was running on romance couldn’t be stopped by anyone. If it wasn’t Yue’s ‘chuu chuu’ or Shia’s backdrop.
Shia let out a sigh, then she muttered 「This matter is put on hold. It’s family meeting when we go home desuu」. For the time being, she overlooked Hajime’s troubling hobby. After all, he also overlooked her hobby.
Both of them pulled themselves together and stepped inside the thick forest that was growing up densely.
They walked through trackless path. They were cutting down leaves and branches rapidly using large hatchet. They decided the direction where they should be heading using hand-written map and compass that they received from the village. They weren’t using the Compass or satellite picture.
It was an inconvenient and greatly troublesome method, but Shia who was waving around a hatchet and cutting open the path in front looked like she was really having fun. Her rabbit ears were moving really rhythmically from her agile movement avoiding the jutting out branches.
Just when he thought that she liked running through the city, she also liked to go through a pathless forest. In the end, Shia could have fun with anything, in fact, she had fun with everything. It was the way of this gloriously simple rabbit.
「This place is really not bad at all isn’t it? The river is nearby, and from the presence it feels like there are a lot of living this here, plants that look edible are also abundant.」
Hajime reflexively laughed hearing that way of talking that sounded like a person searching for an apartment room confirming the site condition. Certainly, they were coming to search for a new base, so making such comment wasn’t mistaken but……her migration requirement that sounded like she was saying that the drag store was near, and there was also convenience store nearby, was actually really wild.
「Even after people frequently passed through here, but right now there is no sign of that at all. It just like the people in the village said, this must be a place that usually no one will go near. It’s not bad for Karm and others.」
「Looking from the map, as long as they don’t cross the river using boat, it will be necessary to take quite a far detour.」
In the middle of talking, Shia hopped. When Hajime looked below her in questioning gaze, several small flowers were blooming there. Hajime also avoided them so to not step on them.
「Hajime-san. Are we going the right way?」
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「Hm? Aa, it’s fine. It’s straight ahead of here.」
The hatchet’s movement stopped still. And then, Shia shifted the position slightly and cut through branches with a single stroke. She advanced forward. Looking closer, the branches that she were going to cut first had spider web laid out on them, a large spider was clinging quietly on it. For the moment Hajime too went through while avoiding the spider web so not to destroy it.
「Oops, it’s dangerous you know~」
Shia swung her hatchet. However, it was obvious from a glance that it wasn’t for cutting. She turned the hatchet so its flat surface was facing the direction of her swing. She swung it downward slowly in a scooping way, catching a snake that was rearing its head and gently threw it into the bush.
「You are a Hauria huh.」
「What are you saying?」
‘No, nothing’, Hajime shook his head with a wry smile.
Karm and others who were fussing about insects. The young boy Par who loved flower.
Everything was the story of distant past. If it was the current them, by the point of time a snake reared its head, it would surely get killed in a snap. With a fiercely glinting eyes and fearless smile tugged on their lips.
It was only Shia who was carrying a fragment of the “gentle forest bunny-sanHauria clan” that had became a phantasmal species right now. It could be said that she was a rare rabbit in another sense.
The one who caused that was Hajime himself, but he put that fact aside and stared warmly at the back figure of Shia who was advancing while paying attention to the forest’s fauna and flora.
Like that the two advanced deeper and deeper into the dense forest but after walking for nearly two hours, regardless of how it wouldn’t be strange even if the ruin would come into view anytime soon, but at the point of time where not even any hint or shadow of the ruin could be found, Hajime finally started spitting out whining.
「Say, Shia. Compass……」
「Just a little bit……」
「Geez-. Hajime-san you modern youngster! You are poisoned too much by the convenient tools! You cannot escape to the easy path just because of a bit of difficulty!」
「Shia-mama, please I’m begging you. I’m already tired here, mentally.」
「Who are you calling mama. Surely it’s just a little bit more. Let’s work hard without giving up until the end.」
Hajime said jokingly because Shia’s speech sounded like a mom, but it appeared that Shia-mama was the ally of a kid who did his best until the end.
The sun would set in just a few more hours, so he only tried saying that for a bit, Hajime thought with a wry smile. He lifted both his hands to show his surrender.
「Nn~, but certainly, I want to at least pinpoint the place within today. ……Yosh, let’s try look around a bit from above.」
She was trying to climb tree and found the location of the ruin from above the dense forest.
While Hajime was watching, Shia was……*gugu-* bending her knee. The next moment, *don-* the impact sound came at the same time Shia vanished. No, more precisely she jumped with so much force it caused her to seem to vanish.
「That’s like the main character of Mat○ix huh. However it’s in real life though.」
Jumping to the sky with a stepping force that caused the ground to undulate. The messiah-sama of a certain movie would fly to the beyond without pause like that, but Shia only came out to the sky above the forest before returning right away.
Softly she landed in a way that felt weightless. Most likely she was decreasing her weigh using gravity magic.
Certainly, it was a searching method that was only using her own strength without any convenient tool at all. Hajime couldn’t fully accept it though.
「H~m. I cannot really see anything that look like building. Are we lost?」
「If the ruin is really in the map’s position, then our direction shouldn’t be mistaken. And it’s not like our sense of direction is led astray like in sea of trees, the compass is also moving normally.」
「In that case, this is a problem of distance then. The villager too, 『If I remember right, it’s around here I think』, he said it a bit vaguely like that.」
Shia groaned ‘mumumu’. For the time being, the two would keep advancing like this. However, they were doing that while Shia was frequently leaping with great jump above the dense forest and checked the surrounding.
A rabbit was hopping *pyon pyon* in a dense forest……
However, it was a consecutive jump of thirty meter class.
Even though the convenient tools were sealed. As expected Hajime was feeling like he couldn’t fully accept this.
Although, it seemed that method was effective. Not even fifteen minutes after that, Shia raised her voice 「Aaa!」
「Discovery! Hajime-san, I discovered iit!」
「Oo~, finally. It’s worth it going pyon pyon like that huh.」
According to Shia, surely the leaves and branches acted as obstruction so that she couldn’t see from above, but when she looked from the angle of 45 degree diagonally, there was an opening between the leaves and branches that was just right for her to be able to see a building. In other words, it was difficult to discover the place using things like satellite picture.
Both of them were heading toward the ruin with footsteps that felt somewhat excited.
The more they got nearer to the ruin, the trees became thick, and the density of the plants also increased. It was as though the nature itself was blocking any invasion.
Shia was cutting apart those plants with hatchet. The sword pressure, not, the hatchet pressure’s shockwave blew away the obstruction while they advanced, and finally that figure appeared.
「Oo. Indeed, it’s a ruin that makes us feel its many years.」
「The vegetation is dense, that might be why the area around here is gloomy. It feels a bit eerie. It feels like I can understand why the villagers fear it.」
Inside the gloomy dense forest, a ruin made from stone was standing quietly. Stones with size even bigger than human adult that were unknown from where and how they were brought here were piled up to form the structure. The cut section was surprisingly smooth, giving the impression that the stones were sticking perfectly to each other.
Although, weeds and roots were sticking out from between the stones, the whole building was covered crowdedly with vines, and the stones themselves were also looking cracked and weathered.
Grown tree broke through the building. It could be clearly seen how the passage of time affected even the stones.
The construction itself was extremely simple. The size was around a largish residence that could be found in countryside. It didn’t have two floors, but a one-story building. There was no door. A gaping wide hole was filled with spreading darkness that looked inviting.
After Hajime and Shia exchanged gaze, they nodded once to each other and stepped inside.
……Fifteen minutes later.
「There is really nothing at all!」
「Please give me back my thrill desuu!」
Inside the ruin, Hajime and Shia’s tsukkomi echoed.
In fact, the inside was so empty to the degree that it made them wanted to make tsukkomi about just what with the atmosphere of the ruin that looked like there would be really something.
「Well, this is after an investigation has been done here, even if there was something here it’s obviously had been taken away. But still, it should be a bit more, like……right?」
「I understand what Hajime-san want to say. Something that can make us imagine the livelihood of the people in the past, or like painting in the wall that will make brain ponder 『Mu? What is this picture expressing?』, or like trace of relief, something like those!」
「Yep yep, something like those!」
A beat later.
「Good grief, what a total let down.」
「Good grief, what a total let down desuu.」
Hajime and Shia’s shoulders dropped with their voice matching each other.
Surely, if the ruin had its own will, it would surely object「No, even if you told me that. Or rather, who the hell are you guys」 without a doubt.
Well, this was earth, there was no way there would be that many unexplored region that was filled with mystery and puzzle like in Tortus. Both of them quickly left from the ruin.
「Until the sun set, it will be one more hour I guess? What to do Shia. We finally find a building, I think it’s fine to stay here for today.」
「You’re right. But if we have one hour, we can explore the surrounding quite a lot you know? From the start, our objective is to search further back from the ruin, while the ruin is only as replacement boundary to repel people, how about going to take a look for a little?」
「Well, if it’s just searching the surrounding, starting from now isn’t too bad……」
Hajime made a little wry smile at Shia who was really active. And then, he followed behind Shia who was energetically stepping deeper into the forest behind the ruin.
Before long the sun had completely set. Hajime and Shia doubled back to the ruin with hurried pace while thinking that they had spent a bit too much time for the search.
Suddenly, Shia’s rabbit ears twitched around in reaction.
「What’s up Shia?」
「Uu~n. There are people. At where the ruin is.」
「At this kind of time? I wonder if it’s the local people coming for test of courage here?」
It was just an inch from complete darkness if there was no light. The moonlight also didn’t reach inside this dense forest. That was about the only possibility that Hajime thought was possible.
But, that prediction of Hajime was immediately proved wrong.
「No, I think that’s not it. It feels like there are totally a lot.」
「Is it a large number of people? About how many?」
「I don’t know clearly but……thirty? No, it’s more than forty.」
「That’s a lot! Seriously!」
As expected even Hajime’s eyes opened wide in surprise.
「What to do, Hajime-san?」
「In any case, we won’t understand the situation from here. Besides, I’m also curious why a lot of people is visiting that empty ruin in this kind of time. Let’s approach without getting found out by those guys and confirm what they are doing.」
Shia nodded at Hajime’s suggestion and the two approached the ruin while erasing their presence.
The more they got near, even Hajime became able to sense the presence of a lot of people. In addition, when they came until a few dozen meter away from the ruin, they understood from the gaps of the branches and leaves that the area around the ruin was illuminated brightly as though it was afternoon.
Hajime and Shia looked at each other’s face and without pause they soundlessly leaped on a thick tree branch where they could look over the whole ruin.
「Oi oi, seriously? Where this investigation team came from?」
「After this long? When it’s already been investigated?」
Ahead of their gaze, there were several large tents set up in front of the ruin. Great number of large lighting illuminated the surrounding, furthermore equipments of unknown function were set up here and there.
「I don’t really know the detail, but everything looks like of nice quality. They are obviously aren’t from around here.」
「Foreigner……perhaps, they are from USA. There are a lot of them. The Americans are around twenty people, and the locals……perhaps around thirty, including the presence inside the building?」
「Seems so. ……Oi, Shia. Can you see the logo on those tents and machineries?」
「Ee~rr, yes yes, I can see it you know? It’s a picture like an arrow stabbing on a treasure box with opened lid?」
「Aah. That huh, I remember seeing it somewhere.」
Most likely it was a logo of a company that manufactured or possessed machinery and so on. Hajime seemed to know about the logo. Shia asked him 「Where did you see it?」.
Hajime’s expression was really complicated while saying 「Was that a flag, god damn it」, he then opened his mouth to answer.
「At the restaurant in Puhang.」
「That’s, could it be……」
Yes, Hajime saw the logo when the guy who seemed to be the bodyguard of that sham actor too off his jacket. There was the same logo at the inner part of that jacket.
As expected, from the tent that was conspicuously larger than the other, a familiar man came out while fiddling with a tablet.
「Look, that guy. It’s Will Turner.」
「That’s not it. It’s Helmut-san.」
It was Wilford-san.
By no means that person was the quasi-main character of a certain pirate movie, or an evil dragon of a sky world.
That Wilford watched the table while thinking about something. Sometimes he gave instruction ot the local people.
The figure of that “highly strung” Brandon could be seen. He was giving instruction to his fellow Americans that looked like researchers who seemed to be his underlings.
There were also muscular men around a bit distance away from the tents and ruin, although from where the two were standing they couldn’t see anything that looked exactly like gun, but the men were running their sharp gaze at the surrounding forest.
「Those guys, so this is their destination.」
「As expected it was a flag isn’t it? As expected of Hajime-san.」
「You’re noisy. At any rate, these bunches, just what in the world they are doing at this empty ruin that had been investigated――」
‘Already’, the word that Hajime was going to say was stopped midway.
By the scream that sounded like the yell of death throe resounding from inside the ruin.
The place suddenly became noisy.
A local man rushed out from inside the ruin.
He screamed while rolling around on the ground, and before long he stopped moving. The hand pressing on his face lost strength and fell limply on the ground.
The face of the expired man was melting tragically.
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