The First To Notice The Change
The counterfeit bills circulated quietly, little by little, as planned.
I stood on top of the clock tower in John Smith mode, and while looking at the cityscape buzzing in the night due to the unprecedented economic boom, I anticipated the plans of the organizations hidden behind it.
“After all, everything is changing……”
And, I smile profoundly.
Who will be the first to figure out our ‘plan’?
For the all-knowing John Smith, this transient time is tedious.
While I was enjoying the night view while thinking about such things, I saw a carriage that quietly left the Royal capital.
And three black shadows, who concealed themselves while pursuing the carriage……
“Ah……The first to notice, as expected……”
I jump off the clock tower and chase after the shadows.
The silhouettes of the three are unfamiliar, but they’re wearing slime bodysuits, I guess. Naturally, they work for the Mitsugoshi Company. So, I move for my own purpose.
Oh, I recognized one.
You were safe after all, eh?
While No.664, chased the carriage which departed from hiding in the Royal capital at midnight, she looked back and glared at No.666.
“No.666, arbitrary decisions are absolutely, unconditionally, forbidden okay? I’m the squad leader, so follow my instructions.” [EN: For those who forgot, No.666 was the number given to Rose Oriana when she joined Shadow Garden]
“I’m telling you because you don’t understand, jeez. The last time, you wilfully charged in alone……the result turned out well, even so, why are you so impatient?”
“I am……It’s nothing.”
No.666 looks down and denies it briefly.
“If you’re like that, my hands are tied, jeez. If you don’t speak, I can’t understand what you are thinking.”
“No.664, let’s concentrate on the mission now.”
“Yeah, alright, alright, good grief. I’m advising the people who are willful for the sake of focusing on the mission.”
No.664 glanced at No.666, then looked away and sighed.
At the same time, she heard a yawn from behind.
“Hey, No.665, did you just yawn?”
No.664 turned her head back again and glared at No.665 this time.
“You did, you absolutely did, I heard it! You should also be focusing on the mission, jeez. I told you this mission is critical, didn’t I?”
Taking her eyes off No.665 who gave an absentminded reply, No.664 scowled at the carriage running ahead of them.
The mission this time is to find the source of the Great Trading Alliance’s counterfeit bills, which started circulating recently. This route the carriage is running on was one of several influx routes narrowed down as suspicious by Gamma of the Seven Shadows.
They were entrusted with the pursuit of this carriage.
This is a mission given directly by the Seven Shadows, so failure is not an option. She understood that she was fired up.
That’s why No.664 was concerned.
No.666 gets impatient. Her combat prowess is recognized by everyone, and she knows that this squad was rated highly due to her.
However, No.666’s impulsive decisions were becoming intolerable recently.
The reasons for her impatience are unclear, but at this rate, she will definitely make a mistake someday.
And there are mistakes in the world that you can never take back. In their missions, making even one mistake could lead to them losing their lives and so…
No.664 hoped that this mission too would end safely, and focused her attention.
However — that wish did not come true.
No.666 screamed abruptly.
Everyone reacted to the sound and jumped.
However, only No.666 made it in time.
No.664 and No.665 tripped over something and fell over.
When they had gotten up and taken defensive postures, their feet were already entangled by something that appeared to be thin strings.
“Looks like steel threads diffused with magical power……”
No.665 answered No.664. The two cut the threads with their slime swords and prepared for the enemy attack.
Turning her gaze to where the trap was laid, No.666 had already taken a sword and stared into the depth of the darkness.
There was no indication of a presence.
However, a man comes walking alone from the darkness of the night.
While his feet were making dull thuds while walking on the firm ground, he appeared.
It was a man in a suit with black, swept-back hair. His face was hidden behind an inorganic mask, and could not be seen.
The man was unarmed.
He carried not a single weapon.
However, if you look closely around him, you can see the threads that reflect the moonlight.
The threads were drifting freely in the air as if it were alive.
“Be careful, this guy is manipulating those steel threads.”
No.664 called out, as they confronted the steel thread user.
A man with an inorganic mask and many threads shining in the moonlight. This image was somehow fascinating.
“The first ones to notice the change–.”
The man said in an unreadable inorganic voice.
“I am John Smith. Beyond this — it’s still too early for you guys.”
And then, steel threads spread out under the night sky.