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Steeplechase Chapter is the 13th volume in the Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei Light Novel series.

Synopsis

In July 2096, the summer event of the year for the national magic high school competition, known as the "Nine Schools Competition" will be held. However, the rules for this "Nine Schools Competition" are different from the previous years.

One month before the "Nine Schools Competition", significant changes in the rules and events were made which forced each of the national magic high schools to be busy up until the day of the competition.

While Tatsuya is planning for the next "Nine Schools Competition", an anonymous message is delivered. The message contains information that a new plot will occur during the "Nine Schools Competition".

While the competition is happening, Tatsuya runs through the dark forests of Fuji, in order to oppose the conspiracy of betrayal.

The 2nd Year of the "Nine Schools Competition" has begun.

Magician Research and Development Institutes

Spoiler
Each laboratory consisting of the Ten institutes is listed. From their year of establishment to the location, each one lists the magic that was developed, and also revealing what families were involved in the research.

Chapter 0

Spoiler
It starts with a description of the purposes of the Numbered Institutes. It also describes what occurred at the Ninth Institute, which caused all Ancient Magic Users to strongly dislike all Magicians bearing the number 'nine' in their name.

Kudou Retsu and Kudou Makoto visit the Ninth Institute to view the progress of the 16 Para-Dolls they are currently creating in the hopes of using in the upcoming Steeplechase Event in the 9 Schools' Competition. 

Later, Retsu visits his grandson, Minoru, who has a weak constitution due to him being an Augmented Magician who might not survive to adulthood and being the son of Makoto and his sister. He was created for the purpose of being a living weapon but it wasn't possible due to his physical condition and despairs over being unable to display his might like other kids his age.

It is revealed that Minoru is Kyouko's half-brother and is Retsu's motivation for wanting to stop the use of Magicians as living weapons.

Chapter 1

Spoiler
Tatsuya leaves the Student Council early because he is too efficient at working and so everyone else become redundant when he is there. He heads towards the Mountaineering Club where he meets Leo and Minami and participates in their club training with permission from Chief Agata. 

Minami had joined both the Cooking and the Mountaineering Clubs to pass time so that she could leave with her mistress and Tatsuya, but tells everyone that she wants to improve her physical skills. 

The next day, when they enter the Student Council, they are met with the sight of a depressed Azusa and Isori who is attempting to comfort her. They had heard about the changes to the Nine Schools Competition, which is in a month. 3 new events had been added: Shield Down, Rower and Gunner, and Steeplechase Cross Country, with pair and solo categories. Tatsuya has heard of these and worries that they could cause a lot of dropouts due to accidents. 

As Isori comforts Azusa, Kanon enters and has a jealous fit over how close they are. 

Izumi is worried but seeing her beloved Onee-sama Miyuki allows her to meditate and start thinking on what to do. 

Later, the usual group meets at Einbrise, along with Minami, and asks Tatsuya about the changes to the Nine Schools Competition. They discuss the dangers of the new events and the new militaristic nature that can be seen from them. Tatsuya thinks that the Yokohama Incident had an effect on this. 

Meanwhile at Masaki's house, he and Kichijouji are depressed over the changes. They think that the odds are on the Third High's side, but they aren't too enthusiastic on that front as they know that First High has "that guy" (Tatsuya). 

Akane enters and gives drinks out after being berated for not knocking. She ignores this and shows off her outfit to Kichijouji, who compliments her. Masaki still thinks that he is a lolicon after his little sister.

Akane then tells him that it is unproductive for Masaki and George to be dating, and so he shouldn't have asked George to be his partner. The two quickly protest.

Chapter 2

Spoiler
Chapter 2

On 3rd July, Tuesday morning, Major General Saeki Hiromi summoned Major Kazama Harunobu. Saeki has several monikers such as [Silver Fox], and she’s known for her anti-Ten Master Clan criticism, though she doesn’t hate magicians. She’s a political rival of Kudou Retsu.

Back during the Great Indochina War, she first associated with Kazama. Kazama used guerrilla tactics, ignoring the JSDF high command’s plans. With Saeki’s help, he was successful. Kazama was shut out, while Saeki received praise.

Then four years ago, she made Kazama command the Independent Magic-Equipped Battalion.

The IMB wanted to create magic power independent of the Ten Master Clans, using Kazama’s unit.

In the office, Saeki and Kazama discuss the Nine School Competitions. Both agree that this year’s competition is a military training regimen, and that the JSDF want to check for magicians’ combat ability. Kudou and the Japan Magic Association didn’t object to this. Saeki puts the Independent Magic Battalion on standby for the games before bringing up Kudou again.

Apparently, Kudou decided to make the Steeplechase Cross-country, an already difficult training, even longer and harder. Saeki believes that there’s something behind his objectives. The Fujibayashi family also appears to be planning something, so Saeki orders Kazama to watch his aide Fujibayashi Kyouko.

As he leaves, Kazama thinks about Tatsuya, wondering if he should tell Tatsuya about the recent developments. He also thinks about his younger sister who will also be in the event.

◊ ◊ ◊

After hearing the news, people were in chaos. The student council suffered the most, having to pick athletes for the competition, and had to decide who to send to the new event. They’re all tired when they leave school.

Miyuki offers Tatsuya coffee and blushes when he thanks her. Tatsuya asks Miyuki to sit next to him and she happily agrees and complies. Minami is dismayed at this, and then notices that an email has arrived with no sender, which confuses her because it’s impossible for an email to have no sender, meaning that the sender has a high degree of technical skill. The email says that the Kudou clan will use the Steeplechase Cross-country to test a new weapon.

◊ ◊ ◊

There are people who wish to avoid trouble as much as possible, and others who try to cause trouble. One of the latter includes the Master of Zhou Gongjin. Jeido Hague, one of the ‘Seven Sages’, uses a corpse to talk to Zhou Gongjin. Jeido informs Zhou of the weapon, codenamed Weapon P, which appears to use the abilities of a parasite trapped inside an android. Zhou makes plans to insert a berserker spell into the weapon at the request of Jeido.

◊ ◊ ◊

Tatsuya visits Yakumo the next morning. He quickly defeats the ambush of students before following Yakumo inside. Tatsuya informs Yakumo of the new event and even Yakumo believes that the idea is crazy. They decide to investigate more and go to Nara, the former Lab 9.

◊ ◊ ◊

Back at school, they discuss the Nine School Competition athletes during lunch. After school, Tatsuya visits Erika in the kendo club, as Erika happens to be helping out at Sayaka’s request. Tatsuya was looking for Erika at the behest of the student council, as they believe Erika will be a good sparring partner for practice in the Shield Down event. Leo has also been recruited to help.

◊ ◊ ◊

The Kudou weren’t the centre of the conspiracy. They had just latched onto a military plot to use the Nine Schools Competition for their military purposes and added a secret weapon's test to the proceedings.

The clan couldn’t criticise Kudou Retsu for his plan, but rather had every reason to energetically work towards ensuring that the Parasite Doll test didn’t fail. Retsu himself was directing things at Lab 9 and would likely be there until the middle of the night had he not an appointment with a retired former subordinate from his military days.

While Retsu was at the meeting, Kudou Makoto is unexpectedly visited by Zhou Gongjin, someone one of the 9’s couldn’t ignore and so Makoto agrees to meet with him. After exchanging pleasantries, the two get down to business.

With Zhou, who is known to help such refugees escape to Japan, something that the GAU turn a blind eye to as it helps prevent internal strife, telling Makoto that he has three political refugees fleeing from the Great Asian Union. Due to their arrival the following week but has nowhere to place them afterwards, he asks Makoto to take the three in.

Makoto is suspicious that this could incur the wrath of the ‘Traditionalist’ faction, whom Zhou often cooperates with. To which Zhou acknowledges but states that his priority is finding a safe haven for the refugees.

Makoto, now convinced that this isn’t a trick by the Traditionalists, decides to take the three in but asks for some time to decide anyway to ensure Zhou doesn’t take him lightly. In response, Zhou hands Makoto an envelope with the details of the three refugees and agrees to meet again on Monday for the decision.

After Zhou leaves, Makoto orders a gag order on Zhou’s visit and inspects the data that he was given and decides the specialisations of the three to closely resemble the Parasite Doll research to be a coincidence but decides to use them anyway for the research, and will deal with them should the need arrive.

Chapter 3

Spoiler
First High has finally gotten over the shock of the 9 SC changes and is restarting the preparations and selections for the new representatives. 

Erika and Chikura Tomoko are practicing for the Shield Down while Tatsuya watches. In the men's ring, Sawaki and Leo are up against Kirihara and Tomitsuka. Erika beats Tomoko and Sawaki and Leo beat Kirihara and Tomitsuka, the chosen representatives. 

Next to him, Hattori, who seems to have undergone a 180-degree turn on his personality, where last year he had looked down upon the Course 2 students, is wondering why Tatsuya wouldn't allow Leo and Erika to be part of the team. As Tatsuya is serving as both tactical adviser and engineer for this 9SC, he was the most vehement in his refusal to allow the two to join the team. 

Minami, who is a member of the Freshman's Shield Down Pairs Competition, is brought over by Tatsuya and was asked to duel Erika, who is extremely enthusiastic. Tatsuya whispers some tactical advice into Minami's ear before they begin. Minami thoroughly trounces Erika. 

Hattori is so stunned at Minami's performance that he asks if she had just used the Juumonji's Phalanx. 

Tatsuya points out the weakness of Erika's technique, to her sulk, and suggests to Tomoko to use Minami's tactic to beat her opponent. 

He leaves for the Icicle Destruction area. 

Miyuki has set up the 24 icicles in record time, in order to save time and ensure that her beloved Onii-sama returns to her side as quickly as possible. 

Miyuki versus Kanon and Shizuku together. She ends up trouncing them five times over. 

Tatsuya explains that the two lost because they weren't working as a team. Miyuki interjects, looking for praise like a puppy, wanting to be petted. Tatsuya tells her that she doesn't need advice, but if she holds back deliberately, he'll scold her. 

Nakura walks in and talks about Zhou Gongjin, who is supposedly a refugee from the Great Asian Union. He has received a commission from the Kudou Clan. Apparently, Zhou wants to interfere with the Parasite Doll test at the 9SC by using Outer Systematic Magic to cause them to run amok and injure the students. 

Kouichi is not interested in getting involved since his daughters aren't the targets, to which Nakura is disgusted by. He isn't concerned about the Kudou, since even if Makoto is trapped, Retsu will escape. 

Tatsuya visits FLT to test the new thought controlled CAD. This test finishes before scheduled, allowing him to return home quickly. He is greeted by a sulky Miyuki, who he offers to take her to shopping. Minami decides to remain at home to avoid the sickeningly sweet atmosphere between the two. 

The two enter a clothes shop and are hurried next door by the clerk as the shop is full. In the next shop, Tatsuya walks into Kasumi and Izumi and sees Mayumi wearing swimwear. She screams in panic. 

Later, they have tea together and Kasumi accuses the two siblings of dating. She scolds them, saying that it is unproductive for two siblings to date as it is the responsibility of excellent Magicians to produce heirs. Tatsuya points out that it is even more unproductive for her to date her sisters.

Chapter 4

Spoiler
On Monday, Zhou Gongjin visits Kudou Makoto’s domain at the promised time, regardless of the gag order from Makoto. Retsu comes to know about the meeting an hour after it happened. ‘Kuki Mamoru’ (former head of the Kuki clan) informs him that Makoto has accepted the refugee and Zhou might be planning to conceal his actions on Kudou’s and asks what should be done about it.

Retsu instructs not to do anything since the Parasite dolls already have a limiter, preventing them from attacking non-military personal and from the beginning, it was impossible for the Parasite dolls to go out of control because of the loyalty spell.

Mamoru is concerned that it would not be possible to test the true capability of the parasite dolls, but Retsu informs him that someone under Kazama will move if he (Tatsuya) gets to know that the Nine School Competition is targeted since neither Kazama nor Saeki can stop him.

◇ ◇ ◇

On Monday night, July 21st, Tatsuya, Yakumo, Miyuki, and Minami travels to Nara on a linear train which Yakumo had arranged when he learned that Miyuki was coming with them (he previously arranged for a high-speed station wagon driven by a former pupil). After reaching Nara, Yakumo and Tatsuya go to their separate ways to start an investigation while Miyuki and Minami stay behind at the hotel.

Tatsuya uses a rental bike he arranged beforehand to reach the former Lab 9. Using his ‘eyes’, he observed the Lab in search of the mysterious weapon-P since he could not get inside. He also discovers that inside that lab, there is a female model robot that contains Parasites (like Pixie).

◇ ◇ ◇

At the same time that Tatsuya discovers that the Parasite doll, Miyuki is visited by Kuroba Mitsugu and Kuroba Ayako. Mitsugu informs Miyuki that there was an experiment conducted in the Nine School Competition. Miyuki asks if it was the experiment involving weapon-P, which is scheduled to take place in steeplechase cross-country, which surprises Mitsugu.

Miyuki also informs him that Tatsuya is out at this moment to find out the identity of weapon-P. Ayako hands Miyuki the data card containing the true nature of weapon-P before they take their leave.

◇ ◇ ◇

While analyzing the parasite doll using Elemental sight, Tatsuya receives an emergency email without a transmission origin. The text was "Please get away from here immediately". Immediately after confirming the identity of the person, who knew he was there and had a reason to warn him, he was under attack by magic.

After disabling the attack using Gram Demolition, he quickly gets into the bike and leaves, taking advantage of the thick mist of psions as a magical smokescreen that hinders pursuit from the former Lab 9.

◇ ◇ ◇

The next morning, while returning to Tokyo using the linear train after meeting up with Yakumo, Miyuki informs Tatsuya about the visit from the Kuroba and what she was told by them. The data she received from them was shared with Yakumo after it was requested by him. Yakumo also transmits the data he got from his own investigation to Tatsuya.


Chapter 5

Spoiler
At the venue for the Nine Schools Competition, Kasumi is glaring at the technicians' bus containing Pixie. She is wondering why "that guy" (Tatsuya) felt the need to have a pretty little girl robot serving him when he could have easily chosen a 3H with the face of an older woman. Izumi is telling her off (since if Miyuki overhears, she will be upset) and wonders why Kasumi hates him so much. Shizuku interrupts them. 

In the ballroom, Tatsuya is surrounded by Eimi, Shizuku, Miyuki, Subaru and Honoka (all of the second-year female players) plus Minami. He wonders why Miyuki looks so happy, to which he is told that she is happy once again that he gets to wear his own uniform to the event. The others concur to the statement. 

As he starts to feel uncomfortable, being the only guy surrounded by a group of attractive girls (that from the outside might look like a harem), he sees Ichijou Masaki, who is also surrounded by girls, and moves to talk with him. Kichijouji, Masaki, Tatsuya and Miyuki greet each other and discuss the changes to the 9SC this year. Tatsuya is impressed by their investigative skills and asks if the information is from the Ichijou Clan. He ends up goading Masaki into using his family's skills to investigate the reasons for the changes to the 9SC this year. 

Shizuku sees her cousin, Naruse Harumi, who asks to introduce her kouhai to Tatsuya. Miyuki excuses her brother from his conversation and he greets Ayako and Fumiya as if they are complete strangers. The twins use the cover of wanting his guidance later on in technical skills, which they are lacking in, so as to set up the excuse for further encounters. 

Afterwards, Mikihiko passes Tatsuya a glass of water and asks about the first years he'd just met. Tatsuya scolds him for eavesdropping, to Mikihiko's embarrassment. He tells Tatsuya that he heard a rumor that the Kuroba are a particularly strong side branch of the Yotsuba Clan, and tells him to be careful. Tatsuya asks if he should stay away from them, but Mikihiko points out that since he attracts trouble like a magnet, that would be rather redundant. 

As Tatsuya is about to return with a sarcastic retort, the VIP addresses begin. Kudou Retsu does not appear, to the questioning of several students and guests. Shizuku hears that he is apparently ill.

Chapter 6

Spoiler
August 5th. The 2096 Nine School Competition is finally starting. Not only have the events changed this year, but various procedures have as well. Tatsuya is relieved to see that his schedule did not overlap and he has enough time to prepare.

The result of the first day were Eimi’s pair in first place, and the men’s [Rower and Gunner] team in third. The Shizuku-Kanon pair qualifies for the finals, with the men’s [Ice Pillars Break] team also comfortably making it through. First High is ahead of Third High by 20 points by the end of the first day, but nobody believes that the lead will last because of their lack of confidence in the next day’s solo events.

◇ ◇ ◇

It is an open secret that Miyuki is staying in Tatsuya’s room. Because of that, he could not camp in his room like he did last year.

The spot that Tatsuya’s group chooses for their talk is beside the CAD adjustment work vehicle. The work vehicle used by the technical staff of First High is a camper-van with an over-cab.

Miyuki is enraged by the fact that last year, her beloved brother had to travel in a piece of junk, and even one year later, this dissatisfaction has not subsided – rather, she has forcefully pushed through a decision to improve the conditions for the technical staff. Miyuki had intended for FLT (their father) to shoulder the bill, but in the end, she has been unable to turn down the kindness of Shizuku’s father.

There are eight people there: Tatsuya, Miyuki, Honoka, Shizuku, Mikihiko, Mizuki, Minami, and Kent. Pixie (technically not a person) serves as their waitress. Kent is Tatsuya’s assistant in this year’s 9SC, having won his position admirably.

Erika and Leo are absent. Mizuki informs Erika said she has something to take care of. Kent informs Leo is ‘stopped’ by ‘Ernst Rozen’, the Japanese branch director of ‘Rozen’. Leo is looking troubled. Leo suddenly appears during their conversation and apologizes for being late.

The tea party adjoins at 10pm. Mikihiko, Leo and Kent escorts Shizuku, Honoka and Mizuki back. Miyuki and Minami stays behind. Tatsuya inquires if Pixie can detect anything, according to the intel from Kuroba.

Parasite dolls are essentially the same as Pixie. They are likely attempted by the Kudou, who knows of Pixie, to duplicate her. Parasite can sense their fellow, not only those occupying humans, but also in mechanical host as proven by the incident in February. Pixie informs that she could not sense her brethren. Tatsuya believes that they are being kept dormant since Pixie could not sense them.

Tatsuya orders Pixie to lock up the vehicle and enter in a suspended state, before returning to the hotel with Miyuki and Minami.

◇ ◇ ◇

August 6th, the second day of 9SC.

Miyuki is in a dim room sitting at the side of a bed, watching the sleeping face of her beloved brother. Tatsuya’s biological clock is very accurate. There is no need for an alarm.

Furthermore, he would still react to any malice or ill-will when asleep or when someone gets close to him. That boundary distance varies according to time and circumstances. Sometimes, he wouldn’t wake up until close enough to breath on him; other times, as soon as someone enters the room, he would. Miyuki thinks that Tatsuya probably sets the boundary himself before he goes to sleep.

Miyuki is nothing but in a nightgown. As if in a fever, she reaches out to Tatsuya. Although it appeares to be a deliberate act, her consciousness is vague; the foremost thought once on her mind, ‘he might wake up’, no longer present.

Fortunately, Tatsuya did not open his eyes. His forehead is cool against her palm. Tatsuya’s body avoids useless metabolism and is cooler to begin with, while Miyuki’s temperature is higher due to lack of sleep. Miyuki’s thinking however had long since short-circuited. In order to make him warm, Miyuki gently snuggles up next to Tatsuya and goes to sleep.

Confirming that Miyuki’s breathing has evened out, Tatsuya opens his eyes. He is awake from the moment Miyuki stretches out her arm towards him. However, he sensed that she was in some strange mood, so he ascertains her condition while pretending to be asleep. Gently lifting Miyuki’s arm off his chest, Tatsuya slips out of bed, roughly dresses without making sound and leaves the room after stroking Miyuki’s hair, letting her sleep for a little longer.

◇ ◇ ◇

Azusa is worried about Miyuki’s strange behavior. From Azusa’s point of view, the distance between Tatsuya and Miyuki are further apart than usual, and Miyuki’s eyes are a bit red at the corners and are slightly directed downwards.

Miyuki would be playing in the preliminary for [Ice Pillars Break] solo category today. Miyuki’s strange behavior makes her feel a bit worried, but when enquired, she is shut out on asking anything more by Tatsuya’s forced tone.

◇ ◇ ◇

Miyuki storms through the preliminaries with a wide lead in [Ice Pillars Break] solo category. For [Row and Gunner] solo, both boys and girls end in fourth place and gain no points. Seventh High wins on both boys and girls. Third high gets second in both boys and girls solo.

However, Kichijouji is frustrated because of his loss in [Row and Gunner] solo, not because he was defeated easily, but because he lost in strategy.

With Kent as his assistant, Tatsuya is guiding him in CAD tuning protocols. However, Kent is unexpectedly skilled and knowledgeable, and he is turning into a capable help for Tatsuya. Just as his work appears to be ending soon, he is visited by Masaki. After entrusting the remaining work to Kent, Tatsuya asks for a short break.

Tatsuya and Masaki are talking about the changes in this year's NSC events. Masaki informs Tatsuya that he heard that Col. Sakai wants high school students to join JSDF, bypassing the Ministry of Defense in the process.

Tatsuya is impressed by the information’s Masaki shared. During his conversation with Masaki, Tatsuya was getting more and more irritated but the situation he is trapped with and even considers “blowing up the course itself” using a self-made ‘Third Eye’.

Tatsuya knows that Masaki’s conjectures are off, and he doesn’t intend to drag Masaki into the Parasite Dolls matter. Tatsuya is indecisive about what to do and it makes him finally realize that he is wearing out. He decides to drive out the matter from his mind and relax in a tea session with his younger sister and friends.

◇ ◇ ◇

Day 3 of NSC.

In the morning, the prelims and finals for Shield Down men’s pair, and the finals for Ice Pillars Break boy’s pair are carried out. Kirihara and Tomitsuka defeat Third High and they are crowned champions of Shields Down men’s pair. Chiaki is overjoyed by Tomitsuka’s victory (she developed the activation sequence for the magic “Blast” that Tomitsuka used), and is clapping her hands with joy. She has a sour look due to Tatsuya sitting beside her, but it appears that even that is forgotten.

◇ ◇ ◇

On the third day, First High takes third for men’s Ice Pillars Break, and first for the women’s. The men’s Shield Down pair takes first, but the women drop out in prelim which is against Third High, who ends up winning overall. But Third High is still in second place by the end of the third day of 9SC, with an even larger point gap of 100 points between First High and Third High, so even the pair who won were in a somber mood.

During that night’s tea party, Tatsuya gets telepathic communication from Pixie. She says that she has detected her brethren and there were 16 of them. Just as she finishes reporting, he loses signal from them.

Tatsuya is stopped by Miyuki and she asks him to forget about it. Miyuki says that Kudou’s experiment has nothing to do with him and his priority is to protect her. He has no reason whatsoever to worry about someone else’s business and if he refuses to comply, she would seal his ‘Eyes’ completely. Tatsuya finally understands that he is in the wrong and apologizes to Miyuki for worrying her.

--Behind them Minami, who has kept to the background during the one-man show, followed, keeping her head down to hide her twitching expression.

◇ ◇ ◇

Fourth day of 9SC.

In the girls' Ice Pillars Break solo, Miyuki wins both matches of the finals in under one minute. Her victories are so decisive that there are some that worry that she might have traumatized her opponents; however, Miyuki does not seem to worry over that.

◇ ◇ ◇

The finals of the newcomer’s Mirage Bat is dominated by Ayako, as Tatsuya and Miyuki expected. The newcomer’s Mirage Bat develops into a display of Ayako piling up her score alone. Their First High kouhai is putting up a good fight but she would probably only manage to take second place.

Tatsuya manages to prevent Izumi and Kazumi in taking part of Mirage Bat since he knew neither could win against Ayako. Ayako’s specialized magic is ‘Ultimate Scattering’, a convergent type magic that diffuses vapor, energy, etc., evenly to the point where they could barely be recognized anymore. The Ultimate Scattering spell has no direct relationship with Mirage Bat. However, Ayako had another magic, which is just as much specialty of hers as ‘Ultimate Scattering’.

That is ‘Mock Teleportation’. The magic consists of cloaking herself or perhaps a partner in a cocoon of air, quilling inertia, and moving instantly through a vacuum tube made of air.

The vacuum tube would be viewed as an obstacle in Mirage Bat, so she could not use it like that. However, if the sequence of Mock Teleportation were to be downgraded, then the magic allows her to jump faster than the eye could follow by continually creating gusts of air. Even the use of Flying magic could not compete with her speed.

Final day of the newcomer’s tournament, Monolith Code finals ends with Fourth High defeating First High. The star of the show is Kuroba Fumiya who dominated the battlefield. Fumiya conceals Direct Pain into Phantom Blow and swiftly finishes the tournament, completely dominating Takuma and team.

The ninth day of the NCS. Finals of Mirage Bat main tournament is won by First High. The results are Honoka winning and Subaru in second place. In the overall rankings, First High is finally standing at the top.

◇ ◇ ◇

The First High students seat for dinner, radiating relief rather than joy. It is the 10th day of the NCS, and First High has widened its lead on Third High by 95 points. The reason for the lead is due to winning Monolith Code (main division). Mikihiko is praised by his teammates for his outstanding performance. They are happily celebrating the overall victory together with Tatsuya (he was Mikihiko’s engineer).

There is still a possibility of a huge reversal in the point spread with the next day’s Steeplechase Cross-country. However, Tatsuya doesn’t point that out. It would be correct to say that it is because he doesn’t care about the rankings, number of points or the overall victory.

He wants to make tomorrow’s event end safely.

No, he would crush anything that interferes with the tomorrow’s event publicly finishing it safely.

That was what he was thinking during the conversation.

◇ ◇ ◇

On the observation lounge of the hotel, Tatsuya meets up with Yakumo and Fujibayashi. Yakumo suggests that they should change the place for discussion, somewhere without magic to prevent eavesdropping or watching because they could not speak about it safely. The information is absolutely on that level.

Fujibayashi takes Yakumo and Tatsuya on a RV that was similar to the one Tstsuya was using as a work van. The parking lot is different from the one allotted for use by the NCS. It was a little apart from the other unoccupied parked cars in the lot.

After offering a seat for both Yakumo and Tatsuya, along with ice coffee, the discussion on the matter begins. Fujibayashi requests Tatsuya to remove the Parasite Dolls from the competition. She provides the necessary equipment and method to destroy the evidence after the mission is completed. Tatsuya agrees but tells her that since this is a personal request and not an official one, he will ask her to repay this favor in the future.

After the matter is settled, Yakumo escorts Fujibayashi out of the parking lot. As their shadow merge into the surrounding, Yakumo engages Fujibayashi in conversation. He asks her if Kazuma really gave the order and if the Parasite Dolls will really go out of control, given the spells have safeties built in to seal the parasites if they disobey. Fujibayashi confirms that he is correct about the safety features.

Yakumo then calls out to Kazuma, who was listening. Kazuma states that he's not sure that there is no need to deploy Tatsuya. Yakumo asks if there is a reason why they want Tatsuya to run amok and Kazuma indirectly confirms it.

Kazuma asks why Yakumo didn't stop them from deploying Tatsuya and Yakumo's answer is; "Because it would be unpleasant to stop him." Tatsuya being sent didn't particularly matter to Yakumo and he isn't here to pass judgement. Yakumo is strictly neutral and is only intervening due to the fear of the potential impact this situation could have on the world. As parasites fuse with the owners of 'strong pure thought', meaning the students desire to win in the competition would make then vulnerable if the parasites got loose. As such, Yakumo agrees letting Tatsuya deploy is the correct choice, and agrees to keep quiet in exchange for the name of the man who brought the mainland occultists into Japan. Kazuma doesn't know but Fujibayashi informs them that it was Zhou Gongjin in Yokohama.

Business concludes, Yakumo leaves, and Kazuma indicates that making a swift exit to avoid Tatsuya seeing them would be a good idea. As they leave, he asks if she was tricked by Kudou Retsu too. She states that she didn't confirm the information and wasn't in a position to report immediately.

Chapter 7

Spoiler
August 15th, the eleventh day of Nine School Competition and the day of Steeplechase event, Women’s at 9:30 am and Men’s at 2:00 pm. Tatsuya is responsible for all the female students in year 2, as well as Mikihiko, for a total of 6 individuals. He starts working at 7:30 am and finishes maintenance by 9:00am, Hattori and Isori occasionally asks him “You OK”, thus no one suspects anything that is amiss when Tatsuya wishes to retire and rest without watching the women’s competition upon completing his duties.

At 9:20 am, while everyone’s attention is at the starting line of the event, Tatsuya slips from the hotel, rendezvouses with Pixie on route and goes to the parking lot where he meets Minami waiting for him under Miyuki’s order to assist Tatsuya. Within the car that Fujibayashi provided, Tatsuya changes into Mobile Armor before acquiring the location of the ‘Parasite dolls’ from Pixie, after asking Minami to guard Pixie and the vehicle from outside interference he leaves to deal with the Parasite dolls.

◇ ◇ ◇

At 9:30am, 41 shots ring out together to announce the start of the Steeplechase event.

The majority of the students proceeds cautiously with the detachment from Eighth High entering the forestry first, likely because Eighth High students who frequently goes outdoor training and proudly believes that “forests are their home territory”.

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Tatsuya pushes the Mobile Armor’s stealth capabilities to the maximum threshold and enters the Steeplechase arena the moment he hears the signal rounds go off.

The Parasite dolls are scattered across the latter half of the 4km long route in formation. Tatsuya thinks it is a trap and he is dancing in someone else’s tune. He proceeds nevertheless since his objective would not change and will be acceptable for him as long as he takes care of the Parasite dolls and eliminates any threat they could possibly pose towards Miyuki.

Tatsuya keeps himself close to the ground using Flying-Type Magic and proceeds towards the closest parasite doll to him.

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An intruder (Tatsuya) is detected by soldiers observing the experiment. Colonel Sakai, leader of the 'hawks' and in charge of the parasite experiment, gave out the order to obstruct the ‘Magician’ but not to kill him. Kudo Makoto is informed of the intruder. He orders his chief developer to switch the target of the parasite to the intruder and use any means necessary to stop him as long as it does not endanger human life. He is boiling with rage towards the Magician trying to hamper the experiment.

The chief developer orders to capture the intruder and gives instructions to the Kudo forces temporarily under his command to secure the assistant that the dolls have detected (Pixie).

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Tatsuya makes contact with the first group of Parasite dolls, he identifies them as ‘Female combat servitors’. Combat servitors are designed to be combat weaponry to replace infantry. Tatsuya concludes that the parasite dolls are using ‘telekinesis’, which has overwhelming speed but less versatility, accuracy and stability.

Tatsuya uses Gram Dispersal to decompose the Eidos before the “meaning” transforms into “phenomenon”. This unexpected event causes the ‘entity’ inhibiting the doll and the operator’s reaction to falter which left an opening for Tatsuya to disable and neutralize the parasite within the ‘doll’.

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Kudou Family’s private militia that was dispatched to bring Minami and Pixie are not even able to touch the vehicle. The moment they consciously prepare to attack, the vehicle seems to recognize the harbingers of their magic through the active psions and is enveloped within a powerful magic barrier. The strength and accuracy of the barrier prevent them from being successful on their mission, even after they are forced to open fire. The security forces notice the gunshots and close in, forcing the private militia to retreat.

The magic barrier was erected by Minami. The “Sakurai Series” are genetically engineered to emphasize defensive barriers with reverse kinetic properties. As a member of the second generation, she inherited the outstanding capabilities of the first generation and is able to erect barriers with additional stability. While she is unable to perform the Juumonji Family’s high-class barrier magic such as “Phalanx”, as a single layer of defense, her magic barrier is equal to that of Katsuto’s own barrier. Her defensive barrier is proof against impact from tank shells or the heat from missiles, so mere bullets from handguns or automatic rifles stand no chance.

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After conforming that the Parasite has entered hibernation using his “eyes”, he contacts Pixie to get location for the next Parasite. After providing the information, Pixie adds “Master, please be careful”, making him almost chuckle. He thinks that Pixie is becoming more ‘lifelike’ and believes that the parasites might be the key in understanding “spirits”.

◇ ◇ ◇

Each contestant begins to increase their pace through the Steeplechase course as they get more used to the terrain and traps. Kanon gets tangled in an unexpected trap carelessly and yelled in frustration due to the high difficulty and militaristic nature of the course.

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The chief of development for Parasite dolls howls in anguish due to his ‘proud creations’ being taken down one after another easily. The developers wonders if the ‘Magician” is an actual vampire due to his ability to take blow normal humans could not and continue fighting as if nothing happened.

The conference room reserved for high-ranking officers within the general headquarters building is also suffused with the same befuddlement that ran rampant through the operating lab. The observation camera is currently showing a four-on-one battle. One of the dolls operated a metal ball and sends it flying in for a direct hit on the Magician’s body while another doll sends mercury pellets, shooting out from 18 different positions which also penetrated the Armor. Yet in the next instant, the Magician retaliates as if nothing happened.

“Mahesvara”

One of the members present murmurs.

“What?”

Colonel Sakai poses the question.

“Colonel, during the last year’s disturbance at Yokohama and the defense of Okinawa four years ago, do you know of the combat Magician who was called “Mahesvara” by the enemy?”

“…..Now that you mentioned it, I have heard of this person. Annihilating mobile weaponry in one blow, able to recover from any enemy attack without any lasting effect….. Could it be him?”

“Based on the situation, “Mahesvara” is a magician who is connected with Major Kazama.”

“Major Harunobu Kazama from the 101st Independent Magic-Equipped Battalion…..”

Equipped with Mobile Armor developed by the 101st Battalion and Magician whose durability was such that man considered him immortal. The details were aligned.

“Why has such a monster appeared at high school tournament……?”

The Nine School Competition is a highly important event for Magicians, but this is nothing more than academic entertainment for the JSDF. Even if the experiment goes awry, at most there would only be four or five injuries among the students. Colonel Saeki does not believe that Saeki or Kazama were really concerned about the loss of life.

Unable to divine General Saeki’s true purpose, Colonel Sakai feels a chill crawl up his spine in warning.

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The Kudou family’s private militia were scattered by the security forces, but now they (the security force) were demanding Minami to disable the barrier and answer why the vehicle was under attack. (Given the events of the previous year, another unidentified organization had infiltrated the JSDF’s base and even open fired. Though the group they wanted to arrest and detain were the one who had open fired, their reaction to question why the other group was fired upon was also logical progression.)

Minami wished Tatsuya would return quickly to solve this matter.

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Fifteen minutes after the race began each school were not congregating together to challenge the course and had split into three groups racing for the finish. The leader from First High’s detachment were Kanon, Subaru, and Miyuki. During the race they spotted the female combat servitor that Tatsuya defeated. They wondered if it was leftover from a previous exercise. Miyuki kept silent of its true identity.

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Tatsuya is fighting the parasites {explanation about how utilizing full backup of Restoration could block the pain and why he does not use it if possible is given}. After defeating the Parasite, he locates the last four Parasites and moves towards them.

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The report of only having four Parasite dolls left made the developers bite down their lips hard enough to draw blood, but believes the last four parasites will not be taken down easily like the previous 12, as they have better coordination and skill balance.

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Tatsuya made contact with the last parasite doll's but is having a hard time during the battel, he believes that they have better degree of coordination with each other but nevertheless continues to fight and tries to analyses the new fighting style the Parasite dolls were using and find a way to defeat them.

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Within the Kudou operating lab, the chief of the Parasite doll development project was highly energized by the outcome, cheers could be heard all around him due to the new development. The chief developer yells to cut the Magician down.

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Tatsuya suddenly gets assistance from Pixie through telepathy which dramatically changed the situation of the battle. Pixie was able to intercept the conversation between the parasites and give instructions to Tatsuya. Tatsuya asks Pixie to transmit the enemy conversation, which Pixie acknowledges.

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The chief and the operators are confused and watched as Tatsuya overwhelms the dolls and scream in disbelief when he finally neutralizes one of them, making their skill coordination useless.

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Pixie continues to give instructions to Tatsuya, but by now, Tatsuya is able to predict enemy actions without any instruction and finally manages to neutralize all the Parasite dolls.

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Minami gets a call on her portable terminal from Kuroba Fumiya. Fumiya conforms if it is Minami who is in the vehicle, which is surrounded by security forces and that she is not acting as a decoy. Minami asks Fumiya to help with the security forces which he accepts. After about five minutes, Minami is informed that it is safe to disable her barrier.

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Fumiya senses the familiar psion waves from the “Sakurai series”. He guesses the identity of the person who casted it after contacting and conforming it was Minami. He disables the security forces by Minami’s request.

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By the time Tatsuya returns to the vehicle, he is struck speechless by the security guards lying haphazardly around the car. Making sure that there was no one else present, Tatsuya climbs on board and stows the Mobile Armor within the “coffin” as he was instructed, before pressing the self-destruct button. The evidence is destroyed without anyone laying around getting injured.

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With a very short distance to reach the finish line, Kanon and Subaru carelessly fall into traps allowing Miyuki to get first place effortlessly in the first ever Steeplechase event. Kanon manages to get second, Subaru gets eighth, Honoka and Shizuku combined to capture fifth and sixth.

Chapter 8

Spoiler
Col. Sakai’s hurriedly leaves the command because of the possibility of them becoming the targets of the flying Magician. They are captured at the parking lot by Kuroba Mitsugu.

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The steeplechase cross country concludes with Miyuki taking the girl’s crown and Masaki taking the boy’s crown. The overall crown goes to First High.

Fourth High stands out for winning the championship in Rookie’s Monolith Code and Mirage Bat. The lovely twins were the ones responsible for these awards. Their dignified manner so out-of-place for their appearances, gave credence to the rumors from before.

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Kudou Retsu is in a private gathering with the former heads of house Kuki and Kuzumi, together with all the family from “Ninth”, still following them. The private gathering is interrupted by the sudden unexpected visit from Kazama and Saeki.

Kazama shows the recording, which has the confession from Col. Sakai about the parasite doll experiment and cooperation with the Kudou family in it. Saeki explains that she received the recording from the Yotsuba on a condition that it will not be made public.

Saeki asks Retsu to leave the magicians right to the one who are active in duty, and will do what it takes to make sure nothing will happen, which Retsu fears to become reality. Retsu accepts, somehow seemingly happy.

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August 16, 2096. Night.

Kuroba Mitsugu, along with his forces, is hunting for Zhou Gongjin at Chinatown in Yokohama. He gets instructions to wait for Tatsuya to arrive before proceeding further but ignores it and goes into combat. During his confrontation with Zhou, Mitsugu is taken by surprise by one of his attacks and loses his arm, Zhou escapes during this moment.

After have gone to fetch Tatsuya, as soon as he sees Mitsugu’s figure, pushes his way through the wall of men black suits and runs to him. Tatsuya uses Restoration on Mitsugu to fix his lost arm. When Tatsuya asks what magic Zhou used to get Mitsugu in such state. He responds that he does not know and has only heard Zhou saying [Howling Celestial Hound].

Tatsuya does not ask where Zhou ran off to, but knows that from here on, they would have to locate him at all cost.

Gallery

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