“… A rather pathetic ending.”
Staring at the crying automaton, Bronson muttered under his breath.
Pulling out a pistol from his breast, he took aim at them.
In the automaton girl’s panic, she hadn’t noticed him. With her master in that condition, she wouldn’t be able to activate her steel wall-like defence, and even a bullet now would be able to do her in.
Once he stopped her, it would be his victory. Losing Lucifer was an unfortunate turn of events, but on the flipside Cherubim was still intact. D-works would still be able to take part in the competition.
Feeling that the whole situation was tedious, he pulled the trigger.
As he did so, a dagger embedded itself into his arm, throwing off his aim.
The sound of the gunshot rang out. However, the bullet missed its target.
The pain caused his hand to twitch, dropping the gun onto the floor.
He suddenly became aware of several presences that weren’t there before. Surprised, he looked around him, only to see several figures appearing one after another.
The black shadows stood neatly in a row. Next to windows, up on the roof, there were present everywhere.
All of them had black coats on. The coats were elegant, with gold embroidery on them. The hoods had been pulled low, so that their faces weren’t visible. They looked like they were from some religious organisation.
When did they arrive? Also, when did they surround this place?
“I apologise for the rather pathetic ending, Mister Bronson.”
While saying that, one of the black coats stepped forward.
She removed her hood. The face of a flesh-and-blood woman came into view.
The automaton girl was shocked, half rising to her feet.
Now that she mentioned it, he realised the woman did have the same face as the professor Kimberly from the academy.
“… That is some imitation you pulled off there. Who are you people?”
“We are the Crusaders. Nectar’s watchdogs— you understand now, don’t you?”
Even the ever calm Bronson couldn’t keep his cool hearing something like that. His eyes widened, and his mouth half-opened.
His eyes darted all over the place, looking for an escape route. Then he laughed grimly.
If these people were the real Nectar— there was no path or place to escape to.
“The association… would go out of their way just to sniff around the students at the academy?”
“Don’t say it like that, it’s just that this year’s Night Party has been thrown into disorder and— wait, this isn’t something I should be telling you.”
With a wry smile, the woman looked around her with strong emotions in her eyes.
“Oh boy. Some teacher visitation this has become.”
Meeting the gaze of the automaton girl, she could see a flash of nervousness running through her eyes. With a “Don’t worry” and a wave of the hand to keep her in check, she turned back to face Bronson again.
“The D in D-works stands for divine— such conceit, to think that you were doing the work of the gods themselves. You’ve been charged with performing taboo research, so we’re bringing you in.”
“… Taboo, you say?”
“It would be wiser for you to remain silent rather than play dumb. You look the sort who has a high endurance, and I have something special for people like you. How about we play a game where I pluck your fingernails out and hammer actual nails in?”
Her lips twisted into a sadistic grin as she spoke cheerfully.
“Well, in any case, the evidence is all here anyway. Modification of a human body, disassembly of human bodies into parts, illegal disposal of human bodies, and human experimentation. Oh, and you’re also under arrest for kidnapping and murder.”
Her eyes briefly hovered over the remains of Lucifer,
“… Hmph, this thing looks a significantly higher class than the one that follows Loki around. I guess even with this, you couldn’t stop her, huh?”
A sadistic grin etched itself onto her face.
“The passing of time sure can be cruel. The handsome youth once heralded as an angel becomes a middle-aged man, and one who used to control swords telekinetically now has to rely on machines. Having some lingering attachment to the Wiseman name, you actually called your creation Lucifer- thus revealing your true goal, you who were once called the Sword Angel.”
“… It isn’t lingering attachment. It’s an admonishment, a reminder to myself of the small regret I have.”
Bronson lost his air of resistance, vacantly looking up into the night sky.
“Right now, I’m just a little disappointed. I’m disappointed at my weakness back then. If I could have obtained the seat of the Wiseman, then this level of taboo research wouldn’t be enough to be called a sin.”
“I’m surprised. You really are an idiot.
“… What do you mean?”
“You’re right; the Wiseman is not bounded by the code of ethics all mages follow. However, the Wiseman is still under the jurisdiction of the law.”
The contempt in her voice was blatant as she talked to him like she was rebuking him.
“In human experimentation, the consent of the subject is necessary. You performed a crime of opportunity on young children who couldn’t understand— or obtained and gathered them through illegal means, and forced them to co-operate. Even if you were the Wiseman that would still constitute a cardinal sin. You obsessed over the illusion of progress, but in the end you are merely a fool who was dancing in circles in the palm of a god. Rather than the seat of the Wiseman, the gallows is a better fit for you.”
Bronson closed his eyes, and let out a deep sigh, like his lungs had been vacuumed out.
Finally, everything was over.
The puppeteers in the black coats soundlessly drew closer. Apprehending Bronson, they led him out of the hallway.
With Bronson gone, she turned back towards the fallen youths.
They already had begun to receive emergency treatment, but it was clear both were still on the verge of death. The automaton girl was still sobbing, doing her best to be as loud as possible.
“Really, you guys are such troublesome students.”
In contrast to her tone, the slight giggle and grin betrayed her true feelings.
Finally reaching the hallway, an out of breath Frey ran towards the two youths.