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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 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 and describes what occurred at the Ninth Institute, causing 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 can't 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 meet at Einbrise, along with Minami, and ask Tatsuya about the changes to the 9 Schools Competition. They discuss the dangers of the new events and the new militaristic nature of 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 Third High's side, but aren't too enthusiastic on that front as they know that First High has "that guy" (Tatsuya). 

Akane enters and give 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 of 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 there’s something behind his objectives. The Fujibayashi family also appear 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 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 an email has arrived with no sender, which confuses her because it’s impossible for an email to have no sender, meaning the sender has a high degree of technical skill. The email says that 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 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 military purposes and added a secret weapons test to the proceedings. The clan couldn’t criticise Kudou Retsu for his plan, but rather had every reason to energetically work towards ensuring 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 agreed 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 the GAU turn a blind eye to as it helps prevent internal strife, telling Makoto he has three political refugees fleeing the Great Asian Union and due to arrive the following week but has nowhere to place them afterwards and asks Makoto to take the three in. Makoto is suspicious s this could incur the wrath of the ‘Traditionalist’ faction, whom Zhou often cooperates with, which Zhou acknowledges but states his priority is finding a safe haven for the refugees. Makoto, now convinced 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 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 9SC 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 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 and 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 and Tatsuya tells her that she doesn't need advice, but if she holds back deliberately, he'll scold her. 

Nakura walks in and talk 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 cause them to 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 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. Next door, 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 visited Kudou Makoto’s domain at the promised time, regardless of the gag order from Makoto, Retsu came to know about the meeting an hour after it happened. ‘Kuki Mamoru’ (former head of the Kuki clan) informed him that Makoto has accepted the refugee and Zho might be planning to conceal his actions on Kudo’s and asked 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 was concerned that it would not be possible to test the true capability of the parasite doll, 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 went 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 went their separate way to start investigation while Miyuki and Minami stayed behind at the hotel.

Tatsuya used a rental bike he arranged beforehand to reach former Lab 9. Using his ‘eyes’ he observed the Lab in search of the mysterious weapon-P since he could not get inside and discovered female model robot which contained Parasites (like Pixie).

◇ ◇ ◇

At the same time Tatsuya discovered the Parasite doll Miyuki was visited by Kuroba Mitsugu and Kuroba Ayako. Mitsugu informed Miyuki that there was an experiment conducted in the nine-school competition, Miyuki asked if it was the experiment involving weapon-P, which is scheduled to take place in steeplychase cross-country which surprised Mitsugu. Miyuki informed him that Tatsuya is out at this moment to find out the identity of weapon-P. Ayako handed Miyuki the data card containing the true nature of weapon-P before they took their leave.

◇ ◇ ◇

While analyzing the parasite doll using Elemental sight Tatsuya received an emergency email without a transmission origin. The text was ‘Please get away from here immediately’. Immediately after conforming 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 got into the bike and left taking advantage of the thick mist of psions as a magical smokescreen that hindered pursuit from the former Lab 9.

◇ ◇ ◇

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


Chapter 5

Spoiler
At the venue for the 9 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, to which the others concur. 

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, but Shizuku hears that he is apparently ill.

Chapter 6

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

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

◇ ◇ ◇

It was an open secret that Miyuki was staying in Tatsuya’s room, because of that, he could not camp in his room like he did last year. The spot Tatsuya’s group chose for their talk was beside the CAD adjustment work vehicle. The work vehicle used by the technical staff of First High was a camper-van with an over-cab. Miyuki was enraged by the fact last year her beloved brother had to travel in a piece of junk, and even one year later this dissatisfaction had not subsided – rather, she had 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 had been unable to turn down the kindness of Shizuku’s father.

There were eight people there: Tatsuya, Miyuki, Honoka, Shizuku, Mikihiko, Mizuki, Minami, and Kent. Pixie (technically not a person) served as their waitress. Kent was Tatsuya’s assistant in this year’s 9SC, having won his position admirably. Erika and Leo were absent, Mizuki informed Erika said she had something to take care of, Kent informed Leo was ‘stopped’ by ‘Ernst Rozen’ the Japanese branch director of ‘Rozen’ and Leo was looking troubled, Leo suddenly appeared during their conversation and apologized for being late.

The tea party adjoined at 10pm, Mikihiko, Leo and Kent escorted Shizuku, Honoka and Mizuki back. Miyuki and Minami stayed behind. Tatsuya inquired if Pixie can detect anything, according to the intel from Kuroba, Parasite dolls were essentially the same as Pixie. They were likely attempted by the Kudou, who knew 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 informed she could not sense her brethren. Tatsuya believes they are kept dormant since Pixie could not sense them.

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

◇ ◇ ◇

August 6th, the second day of 9SC.

Miyuki was in a dim room sitting at the side of a bed, watching the sleeping face of her beloved brother. Tatsuya’s biological clock was very accurate. There was no need for an alarm. Furthermore, he would still react to any malice or ill-will when asleep or when someone get close to him. That boundary distance varied according to time and circumstances. Sometimes he wouldn’t wake up until close enough to breath on him; other times as soon as someone entered the room he would. Miyuki thought Tatsuya probably set the boundary himself before he went to sleep.

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

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

Conforming that Miyuki’s breathing had evened out, Tatsuya opened his eyes. He was awake from the moment Miyuki stretched out her arm towards him. However, he sensed she was in some strange mood, so he ascertained her condition while pretending to be asleep. Gently lifting Miyuki’s arm off his chest, Tatsuya slipped out of bed, roughly dressed without making sound and left the room after stroking Miyuki’s hair letting her sleep for a little longer.

◇ ◇ ◇

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

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

◇ ◇ ◇

Miyuki stormed through the preliminaries with a wide lead in [Ice Pillars Break] solo category, for [Row and Gunner] solo both boys and girls ended in fourth place and gained no points. Seventh High won both boys and girls, Third high got second in both boys and girls solo. However, Kichijouji was 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 was guiding him in CAD tuning protocols, However Kent was unexpectedly skilled and knowledgeable, and was turning into a capable help for Tatsuya. Just as his work appeared to be ending soon, he was visited by Masaki, after entrusting the remaining work to Kent, Tatsuya asked for a short break.

Tatsuya and Masaki were talking about the changes in this years NSC events, Masaki informed he heard Col.Sakai wants high school students to join JSDF, bypassing the Ministry of Defense in the process. Tatsuya was impressed by the information’s Masaki shared. During his conversation with Masaki, Tatsuya was getting more and more irritated but the situation he was trapped with and even considered “blowing up the course itself” using a self-made ‘Third Eye’.

Tatsuya knew Masaki’s conjectures were off, and he didn’t intend to drag Masaki into the Parasite Dolls matter. Tatsuya was indecisive about what to do and it made him finally realize he was wearing out, he decided 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 finals for Ice Pillars Break boy’s pair were carried out. Kirihara and Tomitsuka defeated Third High and was crowned champions of Shields Down men’s pair. Chiaki was overjoyed by Tomitsuka’s victory (she developed the activation sequence for the magic “Blast” that Tomitsuka used), and was clapping her hands with joy. She had a sour look due to Tatsuya sitting beside her, but it appeared even that was forgotten.

◇ ◇ ◇

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

During that night’s tea party, Tatsuya got telepathic communication from Pixie saying she detected her brethren and there was 16 of them, just as she finished reporting he lost signal from them. Tatsuya was stopped by Miyuki and asked him to forget about it. Miyuki said Kudou’s experiment has nothing to do with him and his priority is to protect her, he has no reason what so ever to worry about someone else’s business and if he refuses to comply, she would seal his ‘Eyes’ completely. Tatsuya finally understood his was in the wrong and apologized to Miyuki for worrying her.

--Behind them Minami, who had 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 won both matches of the finals in under one minute. Her victories were so decisive there were some worry that she might have traumatized her opponents; however, Miyuki did not seem worried over that.

◇ ◇ ◇

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

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

That was ‘Mock Teleportation’. The magic consisted 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 downgraded, then the magic allowed 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 ended with Fourth High defeating First High. The star of the show was Kuroba Fumiya who dominated the battlefield. Fumiya concealed Direct Pain into Phantom Blow and swiftly finished the tournament completely dominating Takuma and team.

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

◇ ◇ ◇

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

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

He wanted to make tomorrow’s event end safely.

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

That was what he was thinking during the conversation.

◇ ◇ ◇

On the observation lounge of the hotel, Tatsuya met up with Yakumo and Fujibayashi. Yakumo suggested to change the place for discussion, without magic to prevent eavesdropping or watching, they could not speak about it safely; the information was absolutely on that level. Fujibayashi took Yakumo and Tatsuya on a RV that was similar to the one Tstsuya was using as a work van. The parking lot was 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 began. Fujibayashi requested Tatsuya to remove the Parasite Dolls from the competition, she provided the equipment necessary and method to destroy the evidence after the mission is completed. Tatsuya agreed but told her since this was a personal request and not an official one, he will ask her to repay this favor in the future.

After the matter was settled, Yakumo escorted Fujibayashi out of the parking lot. As their shadow merged into the surrounding, Yakumo engaged 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 he is correct about the safety features.

Yakumo then calls out to Kazuma who was listening. Kazuma states he's not sure there was no need to deploy Tatsuya. Yakumo asks if there was a reason they want Tatsuya to run amok and Kazuma indirectly confirms it. Kazuma asks why Yakumo didn't stop them 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 wasn't here to pass judgement. Yakumo is strictly neutral and is only intervening due to 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 didn't know but Fujibayashi inform them it was Zhou Gongjin in Yokohama.

Business concluded Yakumo leaves, and Kazuma indicates 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 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 9:30am and Men’s at 2:00pm. Tatsuya was responsible for all the female students in year 2 as well as Mikihiko for a total of 6 individuals. He started working at 7:30am and finished Maintenance by 9:00am, Hattori and Isori occasionally asked him “You OK”, Thus no one suspected anything was amiss when Tatsuya wished to retire and rest without watching the women’s competition upon completing his duties.

At 9:20am while everyone’s attention was at the start line of the event, Tatsuya slipped from the hotel, rendezvoused with Pixie on route and went to the parking lot where he met Minami waiting for him under Miyuki’s order to assist Tatsuya. Within the car Fujibayashi provided, Tatsuya changed 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 left to deal with the Parasite dolls.

◇ ◇ ◇

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

The majority of the students proceeded cautiously with the detachment from Eighth High entering the forestry first, likely because Eighth High students who frequented outdoor training and proudly believed that “forests were their home territory”.

◇ ◇ ◇

Tatsuya pushed the Mobile Armor’s stealth capabilities to the maximum threshold and entered the Steeplechase arena the moment he heard the signal rounds go off.

The Parasite dolls were scattered across the latter half of the 4km long route in formation, Tatsuya thinks it is a trap and he was 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 took care of the Parasite dolls and eliminate any threat they could possibly pose towards Miyuki.

Tatsuya kept himself close to the ground using Flying-Type Magic and proceeded towards the closest parasite doll's to him.

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An intruder (Tatsuya) was 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 was informed of the intruder, Makoto ordered 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 was boiling with rage towards the Magician trying to hamper the experiment.

The chief developer ordered to capture the intruder and gave instructions to the Kudo forces temporally under his command to secure the assistant the doll’s have detected (Pixie).

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

Tatsuya used Gram Dispersal to decompose the Eidos before the “meaning” transformed into “phenomenon”, this unexpected event caused 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 were not even able to touch the vehicle. The moment they consciously prepared to attack, the vehicle seemed to recognize the harbingers of their magic through the active psions and was enveloped within a powerful magic barrier. The strength and accuracy of the barrier prevented them from being successful on their mission even after they were forced to open fire. The security forces noticed the gunshots and closed in forcing the private militia to retreat.

The magic barrier was erected by Minami. The “Sakurai Series” were 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 was able to erect barriers with additional stability. While she was unable to perform the Juumonji Family’s high-class barrier magic such as “Phalanx”, as a single layer of defense, her magic barrier was equal to that of Katsuto’s own barrier. Her defensive barrier was proof against impact from tank shells or the heat from missiles, so mere bullets from handguns or automatic rifles stood no chance.

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

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Each contestant begins to increase their pace through the Steeplechase course as they get more used to the terrain and traps. Kanon got 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 was also suffused with the same befuddlement that ran rampant through the operating lab. The observation camera was currently showing a four-on-one battle. One of the dolls operated a metal ball and send it flying in for a direct hit on the Magician’s body while another doll send mercury pellets shooting out from 18 different positions which also penetrated the Armor. Yet in the next instant the Magician retaliated as if nothing happened.

“Mahesvara”

One of the members present murmured.

“What?”

Colonel Sakai posed 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 101’st 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 was highly important event for Magicians, but this was nothing more than academic entertainment for the JSDF. Even if the experiment went awry, at most there would only be four or five injuries among the students. Colonel Saeki did not believe that Saeki or Kazama were really concerned about the loss of life.

Unable to divine General Saeki’s true purpose, Colonel Sakai felt 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 asked Pixie to transmit the enemy conversation which Pixie acknowledges.

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The chief and the operators were confused and watched as Tatsuya overwhelmed the dolls and screamed in disbelief when he finally neutralized one of them making their skill coordination useless.

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

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

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Fumiya sensed the familiar psion waves from the “Sakurai series” he guessed the identity of the person who casted it after contacting and conforming it was Minami, he disabled the security forces by Minami’s request.

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By the time Tatsuya returned to the vehicle, he was struck speechless by the security guards lying haphazardly around the car. Making sure there was no one else present, Tatsuya climbed on board and stowed the Mobile Armor within the “coffin” as he was instructed, before pressing the self-destruct button. The evidence was 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 fell into traps allowing Miyuki to get first place effortlessly in the first ever Steeplechase event, Kanon managed to get second, Subaru eighth, Honoka and Shizuku combined to capture fifth and sixth.

Chapter 8

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

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

Fourth High stood out for winning the championship in Rookie’s Monolith Code and Mirage Bat. The lovely twins responsible for them, their dignifies manner so out-of-place for their appearances, gave credence to the rumors from before.

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Kudou Retsu was 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 was interrupted by sudden unexpected visit from Kazama and Saeki, Kazama shows the recording, which had the confession from Col. Sakai about the parasite doll experiment and cooperation with Kudou family in it. Saeki explained that she received the recording from Yotsuba on a condition that it will not be made public.

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

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August 16, 2096. Night.

Kuroba Mitsugu along with his forces as hunting for Zhou Gongjin at Chinatown in Yokohama. He got instructions to wait for Tatsuya to arrive before proceeding further but ignores it and went into combat. During his confrontation with Zhou, Mitsugu was taken by surprise by one of his attack and lost his arm, Zhou escaped during this moment.

After have gone to fetch Tatsuya, as soon as he saw Mitsugu’s figure, pushed his way through the wall of men black suits and ran up to him, Tatsuya used Restoration on Mitsugu to fix his lost arm, When Tatsuya asked what magic Zhou used to get Mitsugu in such state, in which he responds he do not know and only heard Zhou saying [Howling Celestial Hound].

Tatsuya did not ask where Zhou ran off to, but knew from hear on, they would have to locate him at all cost.

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