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Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei Vol 12 Chapter 1

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Introduction
It had been 97 years since the day that the supernatural power that
heralded the arrival of what is now known as modern magic was observed
by the USA at the time. It had been approximately 80 years since the
development of magical techniques turned to the development and human
modification of Magicians.
During this brief period of time, no, actually an even shorter time, since it
only took 50 years or so to create a stable production of powerful
Magicians – the “bloodlines” that belonged to “famous lineages of
Magicians”. Upon further consideration, this was a rather astounding fact -
In a mere half century, they had successfully developed the “race” known
as Magicians.
Of course, there were a host of reasons lurking in the background. In order
to bring about this possibility, more developed countries invested massive
scientific and economic resources and began a furious competition. Since
the start of the latter half of the previous century, energy depletion had
turned into a dreaded future that hung like a dark shadow in the hearts of
the people (in more-developed countries). Furthermore, after 2030 AD, the
Earth had noticeably cooled, which was then accompanied by the ensuing
food shortage. Caused by the infighting for food and resources, the Third
World War became a powerful impetus for the development of Magicians
– to the point that basic human rights, a core pillar of society, were
abandoned.
Even before the 20 chaotic years of war, the entire globe had already
somewhat publicly conducted “human modification” and “human breeding
projects”, all in the name of developing a race called Magicians. The fact
that magic could be inherited had already been acknowledged in the age
where magic was held to be a superpower, which only served to legitimize
the progress of magical development towards the creation of “superior
bloodlines”.
From the perspective of modifying the human species, developed countries
used science to trample human dignity.
The creation of artificial wombs first began in the more developed
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countries.
Among the less developed countries, individuals with the potential were
forced to mate – practically to the extent where nationally sanctioned rape
was allowed to occur. However, among the more developed countries,
cloning pre-fertilized zygotes and non-surgical methods to gather sperm –
“gene selection” – were used to obtain large amounts of reproductive
material to fertilize artificial wombs, hereby creating a more efficient
approach to the development of Magicians. Genetic modification actually
turned out to be the minority. Massive production of “test tube babies”
without genetic modification was the true face of the development of
Magicians in more developed countries.
Fortunately – that was one way of putting it, given the dissonance between
the advances in science and human nature – children born from cloned
embryos all died young for some unknown reason. The manner of their
birth negatively affected them all. Based on metrics gathered by more
developed countries, their average life expectancy was approximately 7
years. Infant mortality lowering the life expectancy was actually not the
primary reason. Their lives were really that short, given that the oldest
among them died at the age of 17. In addition, their deaths were not caused
by rapid aging, but a natural death at a young age. Lives born from natural
births failed to display this shortcoming, leading to suspicion that the
problem may lie in cellular mitosis.
Still, latent magical talent could be measured at the age of 3. Thanks to
their sacrifice, the correct method of matching embryos and zygotes was
discovered. This had a profound impact on the second and third
generations, to the point that genetic simulations could be used for
analysis. Thenceforth, a country only needed to use arranged interviews as
an excuse to pair marriage partners, intentionally prompting the families to
independently marry on their own.
Thus was born the families renowned in modern magic. In Japan, they
were represented by the Ten Master Clans.
The reason why Japan’s “famous lineages of Magicians” became the most
refined application in the world was because amongst the various cultural
backgrounds for the most developed countries, Japan had the easiest time
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accepting this sort of marriage relationship.
Isn’t it ironic that scientific advancements that were utterly inhumane were
ultimately at the mercy of cultural motivations? Or, should this be the
ultimate manifestation of the resilience of “humanity”? That detail will
likely be decided by history.
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Prologue
A small village sat in the narrow basin tucked between the mountains in
the old Yamanashi Prefecture that bordered the old Nagano Prefecture.
One with no name. One that was not displayed on the maps precisely
because it had no name. Despite calling it a “village”, this was not a
village officially planned by the government, nor was it a village that
naturally occurred thanks to the people congregating together before the
modern era. In truth, this was merely a village for people to live in.
Excluding the fact that there was no name, this was just an ordinary
village. Put another way, everything was present save for the name. There
was a town hall, police station, fire station, and both the water and
electricity were running. The roads were all paved correctly and there was
even a school. The only school in the village probably provided for both
elementary and middle school.
Thanks to the thick clouds in the grim February sky endlessly casting
down snow below, a layer of silvery white covered the entire village.
Maybe it was because all the villagers were indoors, but outside it was
incredibly quiet. There were very few people about and, excluding a group
of exactly ten people walking forward, the streets were entirely empty. The
lone exception, this group of ten, was currently headed towards the other
end of the village, where the village stood with its back facing the
mountain. They all wore white camouflage and carried packs of the same
color with rifles on over their shoulders.
From a classroom on the second floor, a young girl wearing a sailor
uniform watched this dangerous crowd approach. She rose from her seat
and approached the window while looking downwards at the fully armed
men. She was the only person in the classroom, though frankly, she was
the entire person on campus at this point. Today was not a weekend nor a
holiday or even an extended break. Maybe the other students knew that the
armed crowd was coming and fled for safety. Still, that failed to explain
why the young girl remained in the classroom. It was apparent that not
only the students but even the teachers had evacuated, so a single female
middle school student remaining behind was flat out beyond
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comprehension.
Dead ahead of the young girl’s gaze, the men unslung the rifles at the
school gates. They held their rifles at waist height and split to the left and
right along the wall. Three towards the left and three towards the right. Of
the four left in the middle, two of them hefted their rifles while the other
two set down their packs and removed some sort of item.
The young girl took out a thin, long object from the pocket in her skirt.
The machine she held in her hand was very similar to the “tablets” that
existed a hundred years ago in an age where information terminals and
primary verbal communication devices were called “cellphones”. The
young girl pressed the power switch above the number pad, disabled the
standby phase, and began channeling psions into the small device.
The machine in the young girl’s hand was a terminal-shaped CAD. Ergo,
the young girl was a Magician.
She was watching the two people that stood in the back of the quartet, the
ones who had just finished aiming what looked to be RPG-equipped rifles
at the school. At that moment –
The young girl’s finger flew across the CAD and activated her magic.
The two men from the armed group brought out RPGs from their
backpacks. Rather than focusing on penetration, the short, stubby head was
meant to raise the ensuing damage from the shrapnel at the time of
explosion, thus limiting its range to within 200 meters. There was less than
1/5 of that distance from the school gates to the school buildings, which
was well within the ideal targeting range. However, the explosion never
impacted the classroom that the young lady was in.
Ten meters away from the window where the young girl was standing, the
RPG round exploded. The flames from the detonation seemed to lap
around an invisible wall as it mushroomed outward and the force of the
explosion rebounded towards the armed group. The metal fragments
within the RPG round rained over the kneeling men. Though the shrapnel
had basically lost all of its power and could not harm them, this was
sufficient to raise their hackles and wariness.
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The two men in the front dropped their packs and started loading grenades
onto their rifles. The men who fired the first shots were also reloading.
They were well aware that the earlier phenomenon was the result of magic.
The reason that the glass in the windows remained undamaged by the
grenades’ explosions was because a barrier had materialized, and had
properties which repelled heat, sound, and kinetic energy. Still, the men
also knew that a magical barrier would collapse if struck by attacks that
surpassed its capacity.
This time all four RPGs fired at the same time. Though there was plainly
no sign of verbal coordination, their synchronization remained perfect.
Even if one round was unable to penetrate the barrier, then shouldn’t the
impact and heat generated by all four rounds detonating together
overwhelm the barrier? That was the thought running through their minds.
Even if this experiment to nullify magic failed, the rebounding shrapnel
and force would not be able to harm them. That much had already been
proven.
The grenades once again detonated in midair. Much like the first time, the
flames from the detonation of all four rounds seemed to spread across a
transparent barrier. The only difference, however, lay in the location of that
barrier.
Rather than being erected 10 meters from the school building, this time the
barrier was erected approximately 5 meters away from the men. To be
precise, a fresh barrier was deployed the moment they squeezed the
trigger. From this close proximity, the explosive force and scattered
shrapnel reflected back onto the men. Though they wore goggles, anything
beneath the protective helmet was practically naked. The shrapnel had
already shredded their faces without giving them any time to raise their
hands to protect themselves. As a result, by the time they regained contact
with the ground from the force of the explosion, all four of them had long
since lost consciousness.
After verifying that the four targets were no longer moving, the young girl
turned and departed from the window. Just as she arrived at the middle of
the classroom, the door in the rear of the classroom was brutally shoved
open. The young girl’s fingers danced over the keypad as if on reflex, a
clear result of endless training. She activated her magic just an instant
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before the gun-bearing man took a step into the classroom. One foot in the
air, the man struck an invisible wall that caused him to lose his balance.
Less than one second later, the door in the forefront of the classroom also
opened, but was likewise unable to enter the classroom. As if both of them
were putting on a mummer’s show, next to the man who was trying to
shoulder his way through the invisible wall, a series of incredible
shattering sounds were heard from the glass that separated the classroom
from the hallway. Still, none of the shards of glass fell into the classroom
and instead shot towards the third man who was trying to shatter the class.
The barriers devised by the young girl not only protected the door, but
covered the entire length of the wall between the classroom and the
hallway, including the windows and doors.
Just as she let out a sigh of relief after stopping the forced entries, the
young girl noticed that the armed group she discovered contained 10
people. Among them, four had remained before her and the other six split
between the left and right. Thanks to the effects of their own weapons, the
four in the front had already been incapacitated while three others were
being held back by her magic in the hallway. So, where were the last
three?
A shrill shriek erupted from the window behind the young girl as it
shattered to the floor. Men had unfurled ropes from the ceiling, leapt off
from the wall and used their own bodies as a swinging hammer to crash
through the windows. The instant she turned around, the young girl was
already rolling for cover. Her skirt was rolled to a precarious height, but
this was not the time to worry about that. As she hit the ground, she spied
the men hefting their rifles after jumping in from the corner of her eye. The
roar of gunfire and the bullet holes that pierced through the blackboard and
the cabinets at the far end of the room proved her decision to be the correct
one.
The barrier deployed against the hallway vanished. Thanks to fresh
invaders drawing her attention, the Magic Sequence’s renewal had been
interrupted. The men performing the mummer’s farce rolled in first. One
came in through the back door while another jumped in through the
windows. Now, the young girl was completely surrounded by an armed
group of six men.
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If this was any ordinary female middle school student, her body would
already have been shaking in terror. At most, she might have been able to
get to her feet, use both hands to contain her shaking and mask her fear
while glaring defiantly back at the men, but that would be as far as that
narrative went. Yet, this young lass was no ordinary female middle school
student.
She got to her feet and sprinted for the back door. There, another man was
waiting with a gun in hand, but she completely ignored this man. Seeing
the young girl run straight in front of the gun barrel, the man was
completely caught off guard. By the time he recovered his wits, there was
barely two meters between the man and the young girl. This was too close
a range for rifles, but there was no time to switch weapons. Given that he
was against a female middle school student, the probability that the man
would lose in close quarters combat was practically zero. Still, the man
ultimately chose to fire with his weapon.
The other five were much faster on the draw. By the time the man standing
in the backdoor of the classroom raised his rifle, the other five men had
already squeezed the trigger.
Five gunshots were heard, with another coming a beat behind them.
In the next instant, six screams of pain could be heard.
Incoherent screams of pain erupted from the men’s lips. Even if their
opponent was a Magician, the amount of firepower was plainly overkill for
a single young girl.
Nevertheless, the bullets were refracted by the physical object reflecting
barrier conjured by the young girl and instead shot towards the gunmen.
The guns held by the men were all high powered rifles used against
Magicians. In order to penetrate magic fields, these rifles fired penetrator
rounds with increased firepower. If struck full on by these high powered
bullets reflecting back, even Kevlar crafted from high quality carbon plates
would be useless. The men were sent flying by the impact of the bullets
and fell unconscious in the middle, dripping blood all the while. A little
lost, the young girl gazed down at them. She appeared to hesitate because
she was unsure of what action to take next.
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At this time, an old man’s voice came across the transmitter.
“Exercise complete. Rescue teams please recover the Advisory Squad.
Sakurai-san please report back to the mansion. Milady would like to speak
to you directly.”
Upon hearing the last few words, the young girl involuntarily straightened
her back. With an anxious and stiff voice, she replied back “Understood”
even though she knew the other side couldn’t hear her.
◊ ◊ ◊
At first glance, this village was no different than any other village. From
inside to out, there was an assortment of flat, blocky buildings made of
concrete and steel that had no windows. As buildings that covered air
bunkers below, all of these were mass produced during the time of the nonnuclear
World War III. Given that these buildings dotted the landscape all
over Japan, there was nothing surprising about seeing them here deep in
the mountain. –Still, that was only for appearance’s sake.
Yet, this village was not what it appeared to be. This village was a fully
equipped experimental lab. The most carefully guarded secret and
infamous “Magician Workshop of Death (Four)”, this was the 4th
Research and Development Lab for Magical Techniques. This location was
both a base and the main headquarters for Magicians’ modification and
elimination for the Yotsuba Family of the Ten Master Clans.
The largest mansion in the village was the residence of the Yotsuba
Family’s main house. Among the large buildings atop an expansive piece
of land, the greatest of them was reserved for the Yotsuba head of house,
Yotsuba Maya, as her living quarters.
Now, in a certain room within that main building, a young girl stood stiffly
with a nervous expression on her face before Maya.
The young girl’s name was Sakurai Minami, a 15 year old young girl who
was about to graduate from middle school and, at the same time, was the
second generation of the modified “Sakura” series. Born of parents
genetically engineered to grant them powerful magical abilities, she was
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also a Magician with strong magical powers. As a side note, neither of her
parents were among the living. After losing her parents, Minami lived with
the Yotsuba Family’s main house while serving as a maid, all the while
training to become a future guardian.
The “Sakura” series’ specialty was creating heat resistant barriers that
repelled physical objects. Though its functionality and variability were not
on par with the Juumonji Family’s “Phalanx”, judged solely on its utility
as a defensive mechanism, Minami was able to match the Juumonji
Family’s level even at the tender age of 15.
“Minami, first of all I want to thank for you a job well done. This
performance was more than enough to rate you a pass.”
“I am overwhelmed by your gracious praise. Thank you very much.”
Compared to Maya’s friendly words, Minami’s tone was clearly tense and
stilted. Not that she could be blamed for this, given that the woman sitting
across from Minami was not merely her mistress. Even among the Ten
Master Clans that dominated the upper echelons of Japanese Magicians,
the Yotsuba Family was a particularly powerful clan. Not only was she the
head of the Yotsuba Family, she was also feared as this generation’s
strongest Magician, the “Demon King of the Far East”.
“Ah, there’s no need to be humble. Don’t you think so too, Hayama?”
Hayama, who had hitherto stood both silent and motionless behind Maya,
spoke in a serious tone.
“Though points should be deducted for allowing the enemy to break
through the window, the exercise still concluded with the successful
incapacitation of all 10 targets. I believe this logically deserves a passing
grade.”
After hearing Hayama’s words, Minami’s eyes widened in shock. This was
not because she felt that the evaluation was overly harsh. As the head
butler who oversaw all the servants in the mansion, Hayama was scant
with his praise towards subordinates, yet here he was giving a “pass” to a
servant. To Minami’s knowledge, this was the first time this had occurred.
On top of that, she was the recipient of such praise, which only doubled
her astonishment.
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“Speaking of which, Minami-chan......”
“What is your will, milady?”
However, she didn’t have the leisure to remain surprised. There was no
way that the head of the Yotsuba Family would banter with a journeyman
like herself simply to congratulate her on the results of the exercise. That
much was clear without any deeper contemplation.
“You are about to graduate from middle school. Any thoughts on high
school?”
“……Haven’t decided.”
“Really, are you still worrying about that?”
Worry was hardly the right word, given that the decision to enter high
school was not something she could decide for herself. Minami was
indentured to the Yotsuba Family. Even if she said that “she wanted to
attend high school”, so long as Maya or Hayama declared that to be
“unnecessary”, the point was moot. “Haven’t decided” was akin to
“Haven’t received further orders”, so Minami herself had no cause to
worry.
“Then, Minami-chan, you will go to Tokyo.”
This order caused Minami to feel 30% comprehending and 70% surprised.
A year ago, Minami had heard that she would eventually be serving
Miyuki. Still, she assumed that was far off in the future and at least after
Miyuki returned to the main house. Though Miyuki’s house in Tokyo was
slightly larger than the average dwelling, it was still within the boundaries
of a typical residence. A full-time maid on staff would feel somewhat
unnatural. Furthermore, a child who had just graduated from middle school
would only deepen suspicion from others, Minami thought.
Her mistress swiftly answered the questions churning in her head.
“Go and attend First High.”
Was First High referring to the National Magic University Affiliated First
High? That was the only question in Minami’s mind. Since she had been
ordered to “head for Tokyo and attend First High”, no further explanations
were necessary.
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Since registration was now done online, there was no need to worry about
the registration deadline. Still, the problem was First High boasted the
most difficult entrance examination among the schools. Without any
formal tutoring to prepare for the exam, would she be able to pass? This
caused Minami to feel deeply uneasy.
“You do not have to worry on account of the exam.”
Were they going to use their connections to get her through? In truth, that
was what Minami was hoping for.
“There’s still 3 weeks until the exam. All the necessary information will be
directly written into your brain.”
However, that line of thinking was overly naïve. There was indeed such a
device in this village that utilized brainwashing as a technique to directly
carve necessary knowledge into a person’s mind with or without their
consent. Yet, that device seriously depleted a person’s strength. She would
likely be bedridden for a week after the exam.
“Do your best. You will be granted a period of time to rest after the exam.
Likewise, from tomorrow onward, you are relieved of your duties as a
maid.”
As if sensing Minami’s unease, Maya made this gentle yet merciless
declaration – “you have no choice”.
“Minami-chan.”
“Present, milady.”
Up until now, Maya’s expression had been smiling, but now she was
absolutely serious. Following her mistress’s example, Minami tightened
her expression.
“Go to Miyuki’s side. Starting in the spring, Miyuki will be your mistress.”
“Understood.”
This was a mission that was originally assigned to her ahead of time. A
steely determination lurking in the midst of her anxiety, Minami accepted
Maya’s orders.
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Chapter 1
Thursday, April 5th, 2096 AD. Today was the day before the opening
ceremony of a new school year for the National Magic University
Affiliated First High and three days before new student orientation.
In the house of the Shiba siblings, Tatsuya stood before a giant mirror that
reflected his entire body with a discomfited expression on his face.
By his side, his sister Miyuki wore a dazzling smile like a flower in full
bloom. Actually, before such a brilliant smile, even the cherry blossoms
may wilt into buds out of shame. That radiant smile was enough to cause
people to deem it “magical”. Miyuki drew so much attention that even the
existence of the newcomer standing beside her seemed to diminish. She
was the new maid/bodyguard/houseguest sent by Yotsuba Maya to the
siblings and would become their underclassman at First High in three days,
Sakurai Minami.
With hopeful eyes that fairly shone, Miyuki smiled widely as she watched
her brother in front of the mirror. On the cabinet next to the mirror,
Tatsuya’s new uniform jacket hung there after being delivered by mail last
night.
“Onii-sama, please hurry and don your new uniform so I can see. Or do
you wish for Miyuki to be anxious……?”
Ignoring her would probably throw Miyuki into a sulk right now. For the
sake of his sister’s mental health, Tatsuya felt that there was a need to set
aside his personal unhappy mood for the moment.
Currently, he was already wearing the uniform pants and full vest, so the
only thing left was for him to put on the coat. Tatsuya could only
helplessly pick up the sleeve of the suit.
Minami stepped forward as if to assist Tatsuya with the sleeves, but was
immediately blocked when Miyuki moved at the same instant. Without
feeling put out, Minami returned to her original position.
His sister pressed a hand to the coat while Tatsuya turned around. Miyuki
helped Tatsuya into the sleeves of the long suit before working from her
brother’s back to the shoulders, fixing the contours.
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Next to Tatsuya, who had once again turned to face the mirror, Miyuki
drank in his figure with a hand laid against her dazed face as warm gasps
of air exhaled from her mouth.
The style and colors were exactly the same as the school uniform for male
students at First High. However, there were three particular details that
were different from before.
On Tatsuya’s new school uniform, an emblem of eight petals forming a
gear was embroidered over the left chest and over both shoulders. A new
design, the emblem was the exact same size as the eight petal flower on
the Course 1 student uniforms and also sewn at the ends of both sleeves.
“Onii-sama, this fits you perfectly……”
Though Tatsuya himself still felt a little out of sorts with the new uniform,
this new design was absolutely integral for allowing Miyuki to vent the
aggravation of watching her older brother spend the entire previous year
without an emblem to his chest.
That gear was the symbol of the new Magic Engineering Department
established this year. In the previous year, Tatsuya had accumulated
accomplishments that were undeniable to both within and without. If his
“substitute” status was maintained, the school believed that would have a
detrimental effect on the student’s image. In the end, the new Magic
Engineering Department was established, or Magitech for short.
Of course, the school system wasn’t being changed for Tatsuya alone.
Setting aside the reason behind all this for the moment, there was no way
the newly created classes could only accept one student.
In regards to this, a fundamental adjustment was made to First High’s class
structure.
The number of new students accepted into Course 1 and 2 remained
unchanged at 100 students each.
What changed was the procedure involved when these students advanced
to Year 2. The new Year 2 students had the option to choose between the
original Magic Study or Magic Engineering classes. Students who chose to
continue with the original would still be divided into 4 classes of Course 1
students and 3 classes of Course 2 students. On the other hand, students
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who volunteered for the Magic Engineering Department and passed the
examination in March would join the newly established Magic
Engineering class with an emphasis on magic engineering in the
curriculum.
In the name of devising a new experimental class, First High accepted new
faculty dispatched from the university. Though they only began with one
class, if the results were positive, the plan was to grant new students who
had just enrolled the same option of choosing between the normal Magic
Study or Magic Engineering.
Furthermore, as a side effect of the Magitech class’s establishment, Course
2 students were granted access to this class to supplement the deficiency of
Course 1 students transferring into that department. This was done based
on the practical skills ranking among the Course 2 students. Among
Tatsuya’s friends, Mikihiko would be transferred to Course 1 at the start of
this year.
Regardless of how they tried to embellish the truth, the fact that the Magic
Engineering Department was created because of Tatsuya was blatantly
obvious to those who were aware of the details.
Hence there was a reason, and it was therefore natural, for Miyuki to be
overjoyed with her brother’s “dashing figure”.
Maybe because she was satisfied after her brother struck a series of poses,
Miyuki finally relented and let Tatsuya off the hook. Though he got the
impression that he was being treated like a dress up doll, Tatsuya consoled
himself with the words “Miyuki is a girl after all”. (Speaking of which,
Minami’s new student fashion show had been performed three days ago.)
“Onii-sama, Minami-chan, come have tea.”
Miyuki delightedly proposed to her housemates as she seemed to bounce
off to the kitchen. Even the scene of Minami’s seemingly gloomy look at
her retreating back was now within the norm. In Tatsuya’s eyes, maybe
because of her age – perhaps her youth would be a better way of putting it
– and the fact that she had been firmly imbued with a sense of diligent
professionalism, Minami was very proud of her duties as a maid (a
somewhat rude way of looking at it). For Minami, stealing her task of
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preparing the tea was something that impacted the meaning of her
existence. However, when it came to the importance of “taking care of
Tatsuya”, Miyuki would second that to no one. Which is why during the
first 5 days after Minami came to this house, the two of them were
outwardly pleasant towards one another, but were actually engaged in a
furious tug of war. If Tatsuya was someone with a weak constitution, he
would surely have succumbed to an ulcer. Fortunately (?), his physical
flesh as well as his nerves and innards were as strong as steel.
With both sides putting their raison d'etre on the line, the result of this
quiet war ended in a dubious compromise between Miyuki and Minami.
First, Minami was responsible for cleaning and washing clothes.
Second, Minami was responsible for cleaning up after meals and tea.
Third, when Tatsuya was present, Miyuki would prepare meals. Minami
could do so if Tatsuya was not around.
Fourth, when Tatsuya was present, Miyuki would prepare tea. Minami
could do so if Tatsuya was not around.
Fifth, Tatsuya’s wardrobe was Miyuki’s domain. Minami would assist with
Miyuki’s clothes and garb.
The reason this was dubious was because even now, whenever Miyuki or
Minami detected that the other side had left an opening, they would
immediately seize the opportunity. Still, in Tatsuya’s eyes, the two of them
seemed to be on a relatively friendly footing.
On the surface, Tatsuya and Minami’s relationship appeared to be cordial.
–Then again, a soon to be 17-year old youth and a 15-year old girl
becoming the best of friends in two weeks was probably a problem in and
of its own right. Tatsuya thought as if all this did not affect him in the
slightest.
Though this didn’t constitute estrangement, it was true that Tatsuya was of
the mind to keep Minami at a distance. Regardless of the slightly
downward drooping eyes at the corner, the dark brown, wavy hairstyle,
willowy brows, or the dimples that appeared on the sides of her face when
she smiled – Minami was too similar to Honami.
Sakurai Honami. The woman who served as his dead mother’s guardian.
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Four years ago, she had died at Okinawa while protecting Tatsuya.
Like Honami, Minami was born from an unfertilized egg that came from
the same “mother” and had also undergone genetic modification before
applying sperm from the same “father” to “manufacture” a genetically
modified human being whose magical genes had been strengthened – a
modified body. Though they weren’t “twins”, they were close enough to be
“sisters”. The family tree would list her as a cousin, so it was only natural
for Minami’s facial structure to be similar to Honami.
Of course, that extent of the theory was known to Tatsuya. Still, that sort of
comprehension was insufficient to explain anything or comfort anyone.
The thing that created the estrangement (or something akin to that) was not
her appearance, but that her appearance triggered Tatsuya’s memories of
the dead.
To the siblings, Honami was someone who was practically family. Upon
further contemplation, she was a girl who might have been an older sister.
Whenever she was reminded of her, Miyuki was always filled with
melancholy and gloomy remembrance. However, Tatsuya’s recollection
contained more bitter regret than Miyuki. For Tatsuya, even the reminder
that she was practically family only compounded the bitter aftertaste. It
wasn’t something he couldn’t swallow, but he still couldn’t help but frown
at the bitterness of it all.
--Too powerless—
The struggles Tatsuya bore towards the regret involving Honami could be
summed up in that one phrase.
The cause of Honami’s death was physical weakening. If Tatsuya had not
met the Great Asian Alliance’s fleet attacking Okinawa, then at least she
wouldn’t have died there. The undeniable truth of the matter was that in
order to protect Tatsuya, Honami had forced herself to use large scale
magic that burned through all of her remaining life force.
However, Tatsuya didn’t regret the decision he made at the time. He didn’t
believe that choosing to meet the enemy assault was the incorrect decision.
Although his actions at the time were not the product of careful planning
and were the result of impetuousness, there was a much higher probability
of the situation worsening if he had not chosen to annihilate the Great
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Asian Alliance fleet. This was not just Tatsuya’s opinion, but the consensus
of the research labs in the University of Defense after running multiple
simulations.
His regret came from the fact that Honami’s power was even necessary.
Currently, Tatsuya did not need to employ any extra effort when wielding
Material Burst. Now that he had learned to set up “Decomposition” as an
area of effect magic, Tatsuya no longer needed to rely on Honami’s power
to intercept the shots fired from the enemy fleet.
He was just that powerless at that time.
Triggered by Minami’s appearance, Tatsuya was reminded of his
powerless self.
“Onii-sama?”
“Ah, I’m on my way.”
Tatsuya fell into a reverie for less than 3 seconds.
He replied back to Miyuki’s call and began walking forward.
Immediately behind him, it seemed perfectly natural for Minami to wait
for Tatsuya to make the first move.
Since there were literally only the siblings in the house, the sudden
addition of another housemate required purchasing quite a few
replacement items. The dining table was one such item. The table was one
size larger than before and the surface design was now composed of glass
that was able to withstand high temperatures. That said, the table was
actually sturdier now and was proof against breakage unless a two-handed
hammer was used against it. Considering its moisture resistance and ease
of cleaning, practicality was also a plus. –In comparison, the price was
also significantly higher. Tatsuya took a seat at the table while Miyuki sat
across from him, with Minami sitting to Miyuki’s side.
For some reason, Miyuki still wore an apron. By her side, Minami
remained silent though she also wore an apron. Sitting across from two
young girls both wearing aprons was certainly an interesting scene,
Tatsuya thought.
However, though they were both wearing aprons, the style differed
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drastically between the two.
Minami wore a full body, long-sleeved frock with a high collar. The thick,
sturdy apron practically covered every inch of her body from the front and
was clearly designed with practicality first in mind. Even though this
wasn’t the “official” European maid uniform from the 19th century, this
plainly evoked that impression.
Compared with that, Miyuki wore a mini-gown which daringly revealed
the thighs even though it was still early spring. The apron was also the type
with thin straps – how many aprons did she have squirreled away – and
left the curves from the chest to the collarbone on full display. Naturally,
everything below the edge of the apron that was 10 cm above the knees
was also uncovered. Through the surface of the transparent glass table, the
depths of her thighs could be seen along her knees that were side by side.
Was this little sister of his tempting – teasing him?
Stop, he lost if he started paying heed.
Thankfully, once he made up his mind, he was truly able to put it from his
mind. In this regard, he should express thanks to his mother and aunt,
Tatsuya thought. –Though perhaps Miyuki bore the opposite opinion.
Still, both sides kept their cards close to their chest as the siblings both
raised their coffee mugs and sampled the snacks.
“—There’s only 3 days until student orientation. Minami-chan, are you
looking forward to it?”
This was something that had never happened before while the two of them
were living alone. Once ignored by Tatsuya, Miyuki feigned obliviousness
and changed the topic to Minami.
“Indeed, Miyuki Onee-sama. I am looking forward to it.”
To the other side, it was possible that Minami failed to pick up on Miyuki’s
thoughts or maybe she had no other recourse even if she noticed. At any
rate, Minami replied back in a frank manner.
“I’ll have to arrive at school ahead of time that day with Miyuki. Minami,
do you mind?”
“That’s no problem, Tatsuya Onii-sama. Please allow me to accompany
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you.”
As a side note, “Miyuki Onee-sama” and “Tatsuya Onii-sama” were terms
that Tatsuya had proposed and Miyuki had given the order to use.
The inherent characteristic of modern public transportation, the train cabin,
would usually prevent strangers from sharing the cabin. Nor was there any
way to share one halfway through the journey. People who wished to
board the same train cabin would either have to live under the same roof or
be neighbors, and at the very least needed to rendezvous at the train
station.
On the other hand, based on the demands of her role as a bodyguard,
Minami could only choose to board the ride that Miyuki took to school.
Yet, riding along in the same cabin with a complete stranger would surely
be jarring and bring about unnecessary suspicion.
To that end, the excuse they came up with was “Minami is a cousin from
the siblings' mother's side”. That itself was entailed in instructions from the
Yotsuba Family’s main house and the siblings' census information had
been counterfeited in the first place. There would be nothing out of the
ordinary even if a cousin with no blood relationship suddenly appeared out
of nowhere.
The problem was Minami's choice of words, such as “Miyuki-sama” and
“Tatsuya-sama”.
In the current age, besides an exclusive minority, there were practically no
female high school students who referred to upperclassmen who were
older than themselves by one year with “~sama”. That minority typically
belonged to the upper echelons of society, servants working for wealthier
families, or girls who belonged in a serving caste to a powerful family.
From the perspective of Magicians, this was a phrase only found in the Ten
Master Clans or families of similar stature. Although phrases like “Oniisama”
and “Onee-sama” were already outrageous enough, they were
relatively normal when compared to “~sama”.
Miyuki and Tatsuya actually hoped that she would refer to them as
“Miyuki” and “Tatsuya”, but Minami adamantly refused. Minami even
recoiled from referring to them as “Onee-san” and “Onii-san”. Still, she
understood the necessity of concealing their identity, and finally
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compromised with “Miyuki Onee-sama” and “Tatsuya Onii-sama”.
The siblings who had previously lived alone now had to welcome an
unexpected addition to their midst, and seemed to be getting along quite
well so far.
During afternoon tea, the subject naturally turned to the student orientation
3 days down the road.
“This year’s student representative is a boy…… It’s been 4 years, hasn’t
it?”
“Five years, Onii-sama. The Student Council President before Saegusasenpai
was also a girl.”
The topic of the siblings' conversation was regarding this year's new
student representative, who also happened to have the top score on the
entrance examination. Just as the two said, it had been a long time since
First High saw a male student as the new student representative.
“Since Saegusa-senpai's sisters also applied, I thought that this year's
representative would be a girl for sure.”
“Indeed…… Furthermore, if Minami-chan were a little more serious
during the entrance examination, then she would be the new student
representative.”
“No, that’s hardly the case……”
Hearing Miyuki’s words with a hint of teasing, Minami wore a stiff
expression as she shook her head. The main house had ordered her to
remain inconspicuous, so it was true that she held back on Magic Power.
Even so, Tatsuya believed that if she truly tried her best during the exam,
there was a high probability that she could have taken the top spot, but
Minami’s passivity seemed to render her unable to treat this subject lightly.
Just as they were about to descend into an awkward silence, Tatsuya
decided to change the subject.
“I believe his name is Shippou Takuma. By Shippou, I don’t suppose it
would refer to that “Shippou”?”
Miyuki wasn’t intentionally putting Minami in a hard spot. She
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immediately followed her brother’s example.
“Exactly, he is the eldest scion of the “Shippou” Family from the 18
Families.”
A map of the authorities among magical families floated into Tatsuya’s
head and crossed with Miyuki’s memories of the files gleaned from the
Student Council records to reach a consensus.
“Never thought that Saegusa and Shippou would be in the same year. I
wonder if this was a coincidence or predestined fate…… Hopefully they
won’t do anything to cause trouble.”
As if getting a foreboding premonition, Tatsuya slightly crinkled his
eyebrows.
“I do wonder if they were to create a ruckus, would that help us keep our
identities secret?”
“That may also be true.”
What Miyuki was referring to was that the disturbance caused by the
friction between the eldest son of the Shippou Family and the Saegusa
twins might help draw the school’s attention, which would then take away
anyone snooping around regarding Minami’s link to the siblings, or at the
very least decrease it somewhat.
These words worked well in theory, but Tatsuya could feel a headache
coming on when he thought about who had to take care of the ensuing
chaos.
“Speaking of which, in regards to the family party tonight……”
The cups and tray were all empty, so it was about time to clean up. Just as
Minami was about to stand, Tatsuya raised a hand to stop her before
suddenly changing the subject.
“I believe that Minami should still attend.”
Tatsuya and Miyuki had been invited to the Kitayama (Shizuku’s family)
family gathering this evening. Originally, Minami was not supposed to
stay on guard at the house, but follow them to the Kitayama mansion and
stay on station in the servants’ waiting area, but now that plan was subject
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to change, Tatsuya elaborated.
“If that’s an order, I will obey.”
Minami’s reply was precisely how a servant should respond. However, her
lacking expression seemed to intentionally convey: “I’m really not
interested”. While Minami was an introverted young girl, that did not
mean she was completely without facial expression, thus when compared
to individuals who intentionally revealed exaggerated expressions like
Mayumi or Erika, she was actually an easier person to read. –Of course,
that required Tatsuya’s level of observation skills.
Forcing other people into obedience was not Tatsuya’s nature, nor did he
take delight in ordering her to do things that she disliked. “Since this is an
order, I will obey” was not an answer that he wanted. If that’s how the
other side viewed it, he was more inclined to say “then forget it”, but once
he remembered his earlier words, he ultimately opted against saying that
aloud.
“In that case, sorry for putting this on you this time.”
Since he felt the need to put on this show to help increase the
persuasiveness of the lie that she was a cousin from their mother’s side, he
was not going to back down even though he heard something he disliked.
“Then let’s hurry and pick a dress. I will help Minami-chan, and we’re
almost out of time.”
Miyuki clapped her hands together and said this to help break the tension,
though she was also probably taking into account her brother’s
unexpressed feelings.
And definitely not because she wanted to see Minami’s wavering
expression. Probably.
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Chapter 2
Despite being called a “family gathering”, this was still sponsored by the
financial giant Kitagata Ushio – “Kitagata Ushio” was the industry name
Shizuku’s father used – thus the party was fairly bustling with activity and
excitement.
Still, no one had the impression that the event was chaotic or unorganized,
in spite of the extravagant number of people present.
“A grand area as expected……”
Maybe only the Kitayama mansion was wide enough to serve as the
gathering area and prompt that undisguised admiration from Tatsuya.
Still, his sentiment was not echoed by his compatriots. Miyuki merely
smiled as she went along with her brother’s words. To the side, Minami
still wore a befuddled expression. In this regard, Tatsuya had more
opportunities in the military and at the research labs to interact with
“plebeians”, so when compared with the heir (candidate) to the Yotsuba
Family, Miyuki, and the servant who had more or less grown up in the
Yotsuba Family main house, Minami – what appealed to Tatsuya’s feelings
was different than what impacted his sisters based on their varying
backgrounds.
The purpose of today’s festivities was to congratulate Shizuku on her
return to the country after her short study abroad session in the USNA as
well as her advancement to Year 2.
Though she had already returned 2 weeks ago, the reason why this party
was delayed so long was because she was preoccupied with greeting
everyone.
While Shizuku was one of the finest students at the National Magic
University Affiliated First High and a budding Magician of talent in her
own right, her identity also entailed being a daughter of a major financial
giant. From society’s perspective, her position as the daughter of the CEO
came first. Her future as an aspiring Magician (in the end) belonged to her
alone, whereas her position as the CEO’s daughter carried the
responsibilities towards family, employees, stockholders, and clients.
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Owing to these layered reasons, her personal (?) party was pushed back
until the day before the new semester began.
The Kitayama Family of five people consisted of her parents, a
grandmother, Shizuku, and her younger brother. Still, Shizuku’s father also
had an additional 5 brothers and sisters (this sort of family size was hardly
odd given that they were wealthy even among the wealthy), and given that
Shizuku’s father married late, most of her relatives were older than her.
More than half of them had already married and had arrived with their
family members in tow, while the single ones brought their fiancé or
engaged partners. Hence this family party boasted such enormous
attendance. ……At least, that was how Shizuku’s mother explained it to
Tatsuya.
“Ushio-kun’s family is an old industrial family that has lasted from the
previous century to this age. A lot of people can’t be simply dismissed so
easily.”
While cautiously playing along with the lady’s words, Tatsuya had lost
count of the number of times he had sighed mentally. For some
unfathomable purpose as to why she zeroed in on him, Lady Kitayama,
once famous throughout the magical world for her Oscillation-Type Magic
as the A-ranked Magician, Kitayama Benio, or Naruse Benio prior to her
marriage, seized upon him as her conversation partner the moment Tatsuya
exchanged greetings with Shizuku. Speaking of which, Miyuki and
Minami had already fled to the sides of Shizuku and Honoka.
“Even so, it’s still hard to put on a welcoming face to someone who was
shameless enough to drag a stranger in here. Even with the company at
stake, Ushio-kun shouldn’t pamper his family so much.”
Tatsuya mentally concurred. –Shizuku’s mother appeared to be someone
with a forked tongue.
Of course, someone who always employed a forked tongue would not be
able to survive in the real world regardless of her status as the CEO’s wife
(the virtual world was another story altogether), so she probably selected
the proper time and place as well as the appropriate conversation partner.
However, as to why that conversation partner happened to be he whom she
most likely met for the first time currently remained beyond Tatsuya’s
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grasp no matter how he wracked his brain.
This was not the first time Tatsuya encountered Benio. When Shizuku was
sending along the information she gathered from America, he and Miyuki
had met Benio that day, but that was only for an instant. He didn’t recall
doing anything that would prompt her to strike up a conversation with him.
(However, “Ushio-kun”, eh…… Is it really OK to use that name with all
of these people of standing here?)
Starting to get a little fed up with Benio’s complaints, Tatsuya mentally
retorted while indulging in a little escapism from reality.
Tatsuya knew the ages of Shizuku’s parents. Naturally, there was no need
to go into detail regarding Shizuku’s father and since her mother was quite
famous in the modern era, gathering their Personal Data didn’t require too
much effort (that being said, with the heavy security surrounding Personal
Data in this day and age, a typical individual would be unable to do this).
Adding a “-kun” appellation to her husband’s name was not because Lady
Kitayama was older. Unlike Ushio, who appeared younger than his age,
Benio’s age and appearance were of an accord, so their appearances put
them roughly at the same age while in reality, Ushio was older than Benio
by 9 years.
(Must be love, then.)
There were qualms to even imagine applying the words “pampered” or
“spoiled” to a friend’s relatives.
Maybe she was satisfied with venting all of her internal displeasure, and
the ugly glint in Benio’s eyes faded. However, in return, she leveled a
calculating gaze at Tatsuya. This time it wasn’t directed towards a
“stranger” who had been brought by a relative as a guest, but towards
Tatsuya instead.
Though his face was relaxed, Tatsuya felt just as out of place as anyone
else would. While he hoped to rendezvous with Miyuki’s group as soon as
possible, Benio didn’t seem ready to let him go.
“Speaking of which......”
Benio spoke up even before Tatsuya could excuse himself. Though he was
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holding back because she was the mother of one of his peers, this was still
a contemptible mistake on Tatsuya’s part. –Not that this was anything
profound, but Tatsuya just was out of sorts.
“So, are you Honoka’s crush?”
Despite this coming out of nowhere, Tatsuya immediately picked up on the
context. Hindsight was 20/20, but if he could have predicted this then he
could have prepared a suitable response.
“Setting aside that term for the moment, I am indeed that person.”
To be honest, the name “crush” was something Tatsuya had to resist
answering “that’s true”. Though this was just pointless sophistry at this
point, it was not something Tatsuya could so easily concede.
“So you aren’t easily flustered. How dependable.”
Somehow, this twisted point appeared to be Benio giving him high marks.
Otherwise, he was receiving high marks because he wasn’t muddling
through the issue. The smile Benio wore towards Tatsuya turned from
summarily polite to something a little friendlier.
“But why didn’t you accept?”
Friendlier, but still with an element of teasing.
“Though she’s not on par with your sister, isn’t Honoka-chan still
adorable?”
She must have an interest in watching small animals scurry around in a
cage while feeling kinship to them. After successfully passing the first test,
Tatsuya’s eyes took on a glint that hoped she was wasting her time.
“I do think she’s cute. Not just her features but her personality as well.”
Tatsuya’s attitude was more or less just playing along for show. Without
being aware of what he was looking for, he was carefully scrutinizing
Benio for the purpose behind these words without letting a single detail
slip by.
“Aha…… If that’s how it is, then this becomes even more confusing.
Plainly, facial appearance, body and personality are all excellent, but you
still rejected her confession.”
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Tatsuya failed to recall that he mentioned Honoka’s body, but this must be
what a slip of the tongue was like. Tatsuya planned on ignoring her
regardless of what she said, but that appeared to be unnecessary.
Even faster than him, Benio dropped an explosive declaration.
“Also, Honoka-chan already helped you. She will serve you faithfully.”
If this wasn’t an explosive declaration then nothing else could qualify.
Even for teasing on her daughter’s peers, this was going too far. From one
Magician to another, this was neither proper nor prudent.
An ordinary magic high school student would be completely unable to
understand what Benio was referring to.
If they could understand the meaning behind her words, then the natural
sensibilities that came along with a 16 to 17 year-old young man should
have been unable to hide his exhilaration.
However, Tatsuya only gazed back at Benio’s face with nary an expression
on his face.
Benio’s smile failed to crumble, as expected of the wife of a major
financier.
“……I see. So you are able to put on such an expression even knowing
that.”
However, she appeared to be unable to hide the slight stiffness in her
voice.
“I didn’t plan on feigning obliviousness.”
Tatsuya’s vo

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