At that time, the New Yokohama Aeromonolith had been tilted at more than 45 degrees, but it was still a 1000m tower. When he had cut off the tip of the antenna rod to begin their freefall, they had to have been more than 200m up.
Settling things with Oniyuri was meaningless if the two of them simply plunged into the lava below.
He could not let it end here. He could not free her trapped soul if things did not continue on from here.
If he could not take care of his students, how could he call himself an instructor?
He sheathed his ninja sword, stretched out his arms and legs to reduce air resistance, and accelerated in the same way sky divers adjusted their speed. Sagami Oniyuri had been falling ahead of him, so he pulled her limp, unconscious body toward him.
He could ignore her weight since they were falling.
(But this is going to be hell once we decelerate and the weight hits me. This will go well past my back’s 10kg limit!!)
Salvation & Punishment was the only thing he had to rely on.
The tool wrapped around the scabbard was meant to function as a rope, but it was actually a sash-like decorative cloth. It was thin enough to see through to the other side, but it could still gather air.
By folding it back and forth on itself every few meters, he could turn it into a large parachute. It might look like a bunch of bananas since each individual parachute section would be long and narrow, but that did not matter as long as the total area was enough.
His body was suddenly pinned in place.
Oniyuri’s weight assaulted him all at once.
He had broken the rule he had been following all this time.
And he swiftly paid the price.
It felt like sparks were exploding at a point in his spine. His vision really did shatter and he nearly bit his tongue. All of his senses felt vague and unclear, but he still managed to hold tightly onto the girl in his arms. That alone he would not give in on.
They drifted below the broadcast tower leaning out over the city and he desperately tried to catch his breath while his vision refused to fully return.
He could not even focus on his earphone.
He would not let go of that girl no matter what.
He focused only on that while clenching his teeth.
Temporarily losing his vision ended up being painful indeed.
He misread when he would land and misjudged the timing at which he contacted the ground. Parachutes might look like they brought people gently and safely to the ground, but it was not uncommon for soldiers to break an ankle or knee after screwing up the landing.
Instead of the lava-covered road, he had landed on the roof of some multi-tenant building. The hard landing produced a devastating sound from his legs as the springs replacing the ligaments shattered. He had failed to absorb the shock properly. He could not even stand up anymore and the parachute made from the decorative cloth dragged him to the side as the night wind blew at it.
To the very end, he did not let go of Sagami Oniyuri’s warmth in his arms.
“Vio…Queen Violia.” He finally managed to touch his earphone and get out a scratchy voice while still collapsed on the roof. “Sugiyado Souha to Queen Violia. End radio silence. It’s all over.”
“I don’t know why, but your ninjas and even my John have been making a real fuss over the radio. What in the world happened out there?”
“Ow… I have one thing to ask you in the end here.”
“I’m willing to do anything as long as you stop calling this the end, Nii-sama.”
He heard some static.
He turned his head even though his vision had barely recovered and was still full of noise, but he did manage to see who was waiting there for him.
“John. I’ll admit this was a pure gamble, so I’m glad you were the first to get here.”
“What are you going to do now?” asked the man.
Sugiyado slowly exhaled before answering.
“I want you to look after Oniyuri for me. Her body is the same as it was after those experiments from years ago. She still has the Divine Decree devices needed for her psychic powers. Can you have those surgically removed back in the Kingdom? You only have to use X-rays or ultrasound or whatever to get an image of them, use a 3D printer to create a mockup, and replace them. I know I can’t count on the Shogunate to do this since they would never give up their successful specimen. But you’re different, right?”
“The parts you will surgically remove are some of the Shogunate’s biggest secrets. If you take away Oniyuri’s psychic powers, you will have eliminated the reason why Queen Violia was targeted back then. Not a bad deal. Right, John? And Your Majesty?”
“You idiot. You didn’t need a word beyond ‘look after her for me’,” spat out the man in a flight suit and leather jacket.
“Hey, are you sure you only want us to look after Oniyuri?” asked the queen on his earphone. “Two is no more difficult than one, so we could take you too.”
“That would be great.” He smiled while still collapsed on the roof. “But then I couldn’t end this properly. If no one is around to take the blame for all of this, someone else will be placed on the chopping block as a scapegoat. Most likely Guren and Suiren. This incident was all about our past, so I can’t let anything happen to those girls over this.”
“Yes, it’s the only option.”
Sugiyado Souha was unable to get up, so John crouched down and gently lifted Sagami Oniyuri from his arms. The man still had one arm in a sling, but he did not let any pain show on his face.
“Can I count on you?”
“Of course you can,” spat out John while turning around, but Sugiyado could not even watch him go.
The next footsteps were already approaching.
He heard two sets walking in perfect unison, so he slowly raised his hands.
He knew what he had to say.
“I threatened my students into doing what I wanted so I could restore my honor!! They were in a state of diminished capacity and cannot be held accountable for what they did!!”
“Do you honestly think anyone will buy that ridiculous excuse?”
“Whatever your reasons were, we all know you wanted to end this as quickly as possible and even risked your life to do so.”
He was glad to hear them say that.
But he could not agree. Oniyuri had escaped and the four primary criminals had not been captured. Meanwhile, the Shogunate had taken considerable damage. The only way to pacify the Shogunate was to hand them a ringleader who had been pulling all the strings behind the scenes of everything caused by Ouka’s group and by Oniyuri.
Someone had to be thrown in jail. Even before Oniyuri’s involvement, Sugiyado had known it could only end like this.
Kuhou Ouka, Hanasawa Bara, Nantou Hoozuki, and Shizukuma Asagao.
Shirazaya Guren and Shirazaya Suiren.
He had only ever been focused on protecting every last one of them and not letting any one of them die.
Guren’s throat trembled and Suiren restlessly toyed with her right earlobe.
“An unreasonable conclusion will only draw those girls to a new battlefield,” said one. “Just like that past mission led to the current fight.”
“Distortions will only lead to misfortune and tragedy,” said the other. “Even if that decision appears to be the cleverest one to you.”
“That’s fine,” he said.
He did not lower his arms while still lying limply on the roof. His legs had been shattered, but he did not use his hands to support his weight. He had already decided those hands would stay up until the twins with red and white extensions to their blonde hair had handcuffed him.
“They should understand now that even their seemingly flawless Elite Ninja skills can be defeated. And with me in prison, the techniques I used could be passed on to the Shogunate. And thus to the Shogunate spies like you. They won’t be able to put together another criminal plot so easily.”
“That is not what we meant.”
“We do not approve of what they did, but do you really think they will be satisfied with this result? We all know they won’t.”
“Of course they won’t,” he spat out. “After everything they did, how could they ever conveniently get off scot-free, without losing anything? I am on their side 100%, but not even I am going to spoil them that much. The thing they most wanted to protect will be taken from them and thrown in prison because of their actions. …And they should count themselves very lucky that is all they lose. That trauma should be enough to ensure they never again use their ninja techniques for their own personal desires.”
Shirazaya Guren and Suiren fell silent for a while. Their reluctance to accept this was written plainly on their faces. He could tell they really were good girls. But he was not budging on this. He would have his way here.
He smiled thinly with his legs shattered and his hands raised.
“Please. This will help you save face too. There is no other way to save everyone but me.”
“No one ever asked you to save them!!”
Come to think of it, that was true.
These twin sisters had not.
His four students had not.
Even Sagami Oniyuri had not.
They had all clenched their teeth, suppressed their tears, and fought against the cruel reality facing them.
They were all such strong girls. In a way, his half-assed meddling had condescendingly sullied their dignity and pride.
But there was no turning back now.
“Then I’ll have to ask it myself.”
This time – this one time – he would have his way no matter what.
“Guren, Suiren. Please help this frail and broken ninja. You’re the only people I can rely on in that hellhole we call the Shogunate.”
The blonde twins tried to say something, but no words came out. They squeezed the white cloth of their slitted skirts as their hesitation continued without end.
But in the end, they were indeed strong.
He heard a solid metallic sound. Guren, with the red extension to her blonde hair, had pulled a pair of handcuffs from her ninja outfit.
“On charges of inciting a largescale disturbance, providing false testimony, obstructing an official investigation, inciting a foreign threat by working with the Kingdom, hiding a crucial witness, and assisting her flight from the country…”
Her words faltered at that point. No, she had bit her adorable lip.
Suiren placed a hand on her shoulder, but Guren managed to get the words out of her trembling throat.
She renewed her resolve and finished her statement.
“You are under arrest.”
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