Prologue 1: An Observer
Everything begins with observation.
This was something that Akira Shinomiya, or Shino, always believed in. From just their sight alone, humans could comprehend most of their surroundings. The exact amount was debatable, but most would agree that it ranged from eighty to ninety percent of what they could see. Now, if there was a specific thing that they wanted to know more about, there was but one thing they needed to do…
Indeed, they needed to observe it.
It was said that a picture was worth a thousand words— a simple glance at anything would reveal more about it than pages of text. That did seem like a ridiculous ratio, but even the most conservative of thinkers would not disagree with such a fact.
With that being said, vision played a huge part in people’s lives. Of all the five senses, it was the one that could gather information the fastest.
And that’s why Shino kept on observing… through the vent of a girl’s room. He kept completely still as he peered through the cracks, staying so silent that even his breathing was muted.
The room almost looked like something out of a high-end hotel. The floor was sparkling clean, and a majestic looking bed with the pillars and all around it stood tall within the room. An intricately designed shelf was near, with stuffed animals and other accessories placed on top of it. Looking at the shelf, it was clear that the room had someone who regularly cleaned it. In order for things not to be accidentally disposed of, everything was placed on the shelf. It actually kind of looked like a birthday cake with decorations.
As Shino continued to peak into the room, a single girl hummed (albeit badly) as she walked into view. Her hair was dyed white and neatly tied into two pigtails. Her front bangs slightly covered her face, and her pupils were red. So red, in fact, that it was almost the color of blood, but at the same time, her eyes did look quite dignified. From the looks of it, she was about 145 cm in height and about seventeen to eighteen years old, so she was quite petite compared to other girls her age. Her slender arms and legs accompanied her small figure, and they too looked as fragile as ever.
But, as small physically as she may be, she was wearing the most prestigious uniform of all. Her uniform, completely white all around, indicated that she alone was responsible for the safety of the city. Alongside the uniform, an overcoat clung onto her shoulders with the help of some fancy shoulder straps.
The girl’s name was Tenkawa Maihime, the strongest fighter in this city. Indeed, she was the head of the city of defense, Kanagawa. Shino already knew that, however… she was a girl he had to kill.
Shino continued to stare, and Maihime continued to hum. Finally, she took off her overcoat, hung it up, and started to unbutton her uniform. Surely she came into this room to change as she continued to undress. First her jacket, then her necktie, and finally, her shirt…
Shino opened his eyes wider and wider, and stuffed his face through the cracks of the vent. It was only natural; there weren’t many opportunities to see Maihime’s naked body up close. That being said, it wasn’t like he was aroused by the sight. No, this was something slightly different.
“Biceps… below average. Forearms… below average. How can she have such strength with those arms?” whispered Shino, careful not to alert Maihime.
Maihime didn’t seem to notice at all. “Ah, I forgot,” she suddenly said as she walked to the closet. At this point, she was only in her bra and underwear.
Shino stared even harder than before. This time, she was staring at Maihime’s breasts and butt. Or rather, it would be more appropriate to say Maihime’s chest and quad muscles. He was studying their movements closely.
Maihime stuck her head into the closet and fidgeted around for a bit. She continued to hum as she took out some casual clothes and spread them out onto the bed. It was then that she finally started to unbutton her bra.
Shino leaned forward in anticipation. Too forward, though, as the metal fixtures in the vent gave through, and Shino suddenly found himself right in front of Maihime as he dropped down.
“Whaa???” shouted Maihime, bewildered. It was not an unexpected reaction. After all, someone did literally just drop down into her room.
But Shino calmly got himself up. It wasn’t like he was perfectly calm, though… he was shaking a little. The person right in front of him was the city’s strongest fighter, so one wrong move meant certain death. Despite that, there was no way he could show any weakness at all. He may have been flustered on the inside, but he breathed calmly as to not show any of it on the outside. He kept a straight expression, an expression so nonchalant that it was as if nothing had happened.
“W-What are you doing…?” said Maihime, still a bit shaken up. Her eyes suddenly got wide, and she tried covering herself up with her hands as she rushed to pick up the clothes she had laid down earlier. She was embarrassed, and her red face clearly showed it all.
“Wait. Calm down,” said Shino. His expression was as calm as ever as he motioned a ‘hold on’. “I got lost, and before I knew it, I ended up here. I wasn’t doing anything suspicious or anything…”
Maihime just stared back blankly with her wide open eyes. “Ah, so that’s it, huh?” she said after a short pause. She breathed a sigh of relief and loosened up.
“Honestly, try not to do that again, okay? It’s bad enough for other people to suddenly see you fall in, not to mention it’s pretty dangerous for you…”
“Sorry. I’ll be more careful next time.”
“…. Alright. Well, exit is that way.”
“Got it, thanks,” nodded Shino, slowly making his way to the door. However, just as he opened the door, he suddenly stood face to face with another girl.
“Woah!!” shouted the girl. She was wearing glasses, and it seemed like she was just about to knock on the door.
Shino once again kept a straight face and simply said, “Excuse me.” He slid out through the girl and walked out onto the hallway.
The girl stood there dazed for a few moments, but soon regained her composure. “Umm… that guy just now… was he….”
“Oh, yeah,” said Maihime. “He apparently was just someone who got lost and fell in here through those vents.”
The girl took another glance at Maihime. “Then… what are you even wearing?”
“This? I wanted to change outfits, you know… Actually, can you fix the vent thingy now? Seems like someone unscrewed this thing…”
“Well… Umm… I think that was probably….” the girl said hesitantly.
“Huh?” Maihime paused for a few moments, thinking. Then suddenly she frantically ruffled through her clothes, and with her face completely red, she took off running.
“W-Wait… Calm down!” shouted the girl, but there was no stopping Maihime. With a beast-like roar, Maihime caught up to Shino and smacked him right in the face.
The first thing Shino saw when he opened his eyes was an all too familiar room ceiling.
He then heard a voice.
“Oh? You’re awake?”
The voice sounded vaguely familiar as well, so Shino turned to see who it was— it was a girl with a ponytail. Her name was Rindou Hotaru, and similar to Shino, she too was an agent assigned to Kanagawa.
“Thank goodness. Seems like you can still think properly,” said Hotaru jokingly.
Shino slowly got up. His cheeks were wrapped up with ointment, but they were still hurting quite badly.
“That’s why I told you not to do stuff like that!” scolded Hotaru. “If you get too close too carelessly, it’s dangerous…”
From the start, Hotaru was completely against the idea of going near Maihime. What she said was completely reasonable… Or perhaps it was just common sense? In any case, Shino’s actions earlier certainly lacked such things.
“You could die just like that, you know?”
“Don’t say that… I got some good intel. We really do need to observe from up close. Plus…” Shino’s voice cut out.
Hotaru stared back with a blank face. “Plus?”
“As I thought, she’s really afraid of letting out her secrets,” said Shino as he pressed down on the gauze wrapped around his cheek. “And that attack… there’s no doubt she’s dangerous.”
“Y-Yeah…” replied Hotaru nervously. For some reason, sweat was dripping down her cheek.