2. The Small Pilot
—Early the next morning
“….. I don’t agree with this.”
Waiting by the ticket gate of the station for the first train was a man with clouded glasses.
The name of that man with muddied eyes is Kuriyama Rintaro, his friends called him Krillin. He himself had just learned of that fact yesterday.
He had been considering taking a vacation around the New Year and going on a trip, thus he had bought a handbag just last month. It was now crammed with his favorite daily necessities.
He thought that thinking of it as his departure being moved up and now being long term might make him feel better. Obviously, that wasn’t what happened. Rintaro’s heart was in the middle of a furious blizzard just like the skies of Abashiri.
Today, starting from that moment on, for the entire day, not only would his heart be made to tremble within the train, his body would also be under the Abashiri sky.
Aah, so it’s finally time to say goodbye to this complicated route map and packed timetable?
… how lonely.
As Rintaro was recalling his revenge of sealing up the lockers other the members with carpentry glue, someone called out to him.
“Ah, you’re right there. I’ve been searching for you, ssu.”
The first thing he saw was a blue hooded parka with a fang pattern. Standing there was a girl who had her head completely covered by the hoody. Peeking through her flaxen hair were large eyes like small, waning moons. She had a friendly smile just like a puppy waving its tail.
She was two heads shorter than Rintaro.
Rintaro couldn’t help but look around, but there weren’t any adults who seemed to be her guardian. However, no matter how he looked at the mackerel girl before his eyes, she came off as a middle school student, or rather, an elementary school student.
There was no doubt she was related to hero business since she called out to him, but she was still quite young.
“Right, follow me, ssu.”
With those words, the blue parka girl started walking with small and quick steps without waiting for Rintaro’s reply. Rintaro, while carrying his heavy bag, walks after the girl who was guiding him.
“I didn’t hear someone was coming to pick me up.”
“Oh yeah? That’s weird, ssu. Well, no worries, ssu.”
To think that an important message didn’t get to him. Is the Hero Headquarters’ ability to transmit information that low, or was Rintaro loathed that much?
Rintaro dropped the line of thought once the two bleak possibilities crossed his mind.
“Samecchi is Samejima Saya1, ssu. Call me Samecchi, ssu.”
“I am Kuriyama, Kuriyama Rintaro.”
“Wow, that abbreviates to Krillin (Kuririn), ssune.”
“Don’t call me by that name again.”
The two get into an arranged car while having that back and forth.
“I request you bring us to the secret base, ssu.”
The car headed towards the Tokyo. Unintentionally, Rintaro felt relieved.
Judging from her word use and young age, Samecchi was probably a member affiliated to another hero team based in Tokyo.
Heroes often owned numerous special vehicles due to their professional duties. If he were to borrow an aircraft, then Abashiri could be reached in a single flight, a flight that didn’t need any transfers.
It was nothing to get emotional over, but it was better than rocking back and forth inside a train for 15 hours.
“Kuriyama-san just keep looking outside, ssune.”
“Is that so? Well, I suppose this is the last time I get to see this… It’s saddening.”
“Oooh, that’s a little cool, ssu. Hard-boiled, ssu.”
Rather than hard-boiled, I’m heart-broken.
The car soon pulled into the underground parking lot of the tallest building in Tokyo. Within the sparkling elevator hall of polished marble, not a speck of dust could be seen. When Rintaro, who was in casual clothing, and Samecchi, who was in her parka, stood beside each other, a strange sense of unease came over him.
“Are you feeling overwhelmed, ssuka?”
“It’s to the extent that I can feel the gap between our organizations. About how much was this painting?”
Taking the high-speed elevator, they went underground. According to Samecchi, it would take around 1 minute to reach the 60th floor from the surface. 3 minutes had passed since they started to descend.
Just when he was wondering if they were being taken to the bottom of hell, the elevator’s heavy doors finally opened.
They walked through a long, dark corridor and came to a space so large, Rintaro couldn’t believe it was underground.
The room’s dark undertone was a stylistic choice, not because there weren’t enough lights. Also, candlesticks burning with blue flames lined the area while the ceiling was constructed so high, it couldn’t be seen.
Rather than being a secret base for heroes, it came off more like a temple for dark esoteric teachings.
“Samecchi has returned, ssu!”
“Kuu kuu kuu… fuhahahaha… Haaa haa haa haa haa haa haa haa!!”
Laughter echoed from the deepest part of the temple. There, sitting in a disproportionately large chair was a man nearing old age.
The commander of the hero team, and a frightfully impactful man.
So to speak, he was like an evil general.
The aged man glanced at Rintaro with his polished sword-like sharp eyes and raised the corners of his mouth.
And then he flipped aside his mantle—
“You did well to arrive, I am Dragius the 3rd! I am the leader of the secret society Ark Dominion!”
Rintaro finally realized his mistake.
Correct, that place was—
“Welcome to Ark Dominion, ‘the organization of mysterious beings, by mysterious beings, for mysterious beings,’ suu!”
The girl laughed as she made a broad smile. Her mouth was lined with sharp fangs.