Ao no Kiseki Short Stories
Lloyd’s Chapter (Part 4)
Lloyd woke up to the three of them gathered in one spot in the warehouse with their hands tied behind their backs. Their mouths were gagged, so they had no way of talking to each other.
Lloyd tried to force his mouth open, but the pain it caused his jaw was too great. He thought about trying to escape, but quickly thought better of it.
“What should we do?”
It was the men in black who attacked them. One of the men, who was keeping an eye on Lloyd, Oscar, and Wendy, was talking to who seemed like the boss of the group.
The boss-like man said with a chilling coldness.
The other man started to object, but he fell silent at the boss’s glare. His clouded eyes almost made him look reptilian. The boss staggered toward the place where Lloyd and his friends were bound up. He squatted, then lowered his face directly in front of Lloyd’s.
“You kids picked the wrong playground today,” he said without a hint of emotion.
When this man looked at Lloyd, Oscar, and Wendy he didn’t see three innocent, young kids. He didn’t even see them as people. To him, they were nothing more than obstacles. And he was going to dispose of them, just like you would a cockroach that had invaded your apartment. A chill ran through Lloyd’s entire body.
At that moment, they heard a faint sound followed by a man screaming.
A man came sailing out of the darkness, landing directly in front of Lloyd. From his clothing, he appeared to be a colleague of the men in black.
The men immediately got low and held up their guns. Things were happening so fast Lloyd couldn’t keep up.
“–Stop right there!”
A large voice reverberated from one of the corners of the warehouse.
The figure of a man emerged from the darkness.
It was Guy. His big brother. But Lloyd had never seen him like this. He was glaring holes through the men in black, his ever-smiling mouth shut tight.
He had unsheathed his beloved tonfas and was holding them at the ready.
“For some reason your doorman didn’t wanna let me through,” he said, glancing at the man on the ground. It looked like Guy had knocked him out cold. Lloyd could hardly believe the intensity that was emanating from his brother.
As soon as the men in black realized that he had come alone, however, they began to sneer.
“Heh! What the hell kind of business does a police dog like you have here?”
“Are you a newbie or sumthin’? This area is our domain, and police don’t interfere here. We have an understanding.”
They sneered, breaking out in vulgar laughter.
“Ah, I’m afraid you have the wrong idea there, Revache underlings. That may have been true in the past, but…”
Their smiles vanished at Guy’s provoking tone.
“Those rules aren’t going to save you today. There’s been a new understanding.”
It was at that moment that it dawned on them. They had been sold out.
They were ruffians that Revache had been hiring to do their dirty work for years. However, there had recently been a change in Revache leadership, with a man named Marconi being appointed the new boss. Rather than using the likes of these men, Marconi preferred to recruit high-end talent from out of state.
The new underboss is said to be a former Jaeger. Try as these men might, they couldn’t compete with that. For that reason, they had been gathering guns, aiming to start some internal strife.
Through a joint operation Marconi’s faction and Guy were able to sniff out this plot. In order to get the police to cooperate though, Marconi needed to make a concession: no longer would members of Revache immediately be released upon arrest.
The men looked as if they had just seen a ghost. Guy, on the other hand, was grinning boldly.
“So it’s finally sunk in, huh? Now, if you’ll just cooperate as I apply these handcuffs…”
One of the men suddenly thrust his gun at Lloyd’s head.
“It seems you’ve forgotten we have a hostage, you rat.”
Having a gun shoved against his head should’ve hurt, but strangely Lloyd felt no pain at all.
It wasn’t fear that was causing him to forget his pain. It was because his brother was there.
Despite the desperate situation, Guy found the time to look Lloyd in the eyes as if to communicate, —Don’t worry, Lloyd. I’ll get you three out of this safely.
“ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?!” The man screamed, and cocked his gun. This all sounded to Lloyd as if was occurring in a faraway world.
“Shoot one of ‘em. Looks like this idiot’s gonna need some help understanding the stakes.”
A different man said, and the man pressing his gun to Lloyd’s head grabbed the trigger.
The deafening noise of gunfire rang in Lloyd’s ear, and he passed out from the shock.
The man who tried to shoot Lloyd screamed, and looked down at his gun.
The orbal gun was missing over half its length. A chunk of the barrel was simply gone.
Then a man holding a thin, curved sword appeared right in front of him. It was the man who had been surveilling Lloyd, Oscar, and Wendy earlier that day. From his katana, and the aura emanating from his body, it was abundantly clear he was no ordinary man.
Without lowering his katana, he transferred it from one hand to the other and faced the opposite direction.
“Second Form, Gale!”
After he muttered that, he swung his sword and forced the three men around him to drop their guns, then crouched and braced himself.
As the men were just standing there dumbfounded, Guy closed the distance and spun in the air.
Using centrifugal force, he slammed his tonfas into one man after the other, knocking them all down in an instant. He skillfully spun his tonfas in his hands, then shoved them back onto his belt.
“Nice work, partner.”
The man Guy called his partner grimaced a little.
“What were you thinking? You put a family member in serious danger with that trick you just pulled…”
“Because you’re here, I had full confidence it would work out just fine.”
The man shaking his head in disbelief was Guy’s partner and a member of the Crossbell Police Force’s special team, Arios MacLaine.
“It was careless.”
“Well, this situation called for desperate measures,” Guy said, crouching in front of the fainted Lloyd, Oscar, and Wendy. The sound of the gunshot didn’t just knock out Lloyd, but all three of them.
“You’ll have to raise Shizuku to be less of an idiot than these three.”
Arios’s expression shifted slightly at the mention of the daughter he loves so much. “…She’s only three-years-old.”
“Exactly, she’s already three! It won’t be long before she’s running around all over the place like a chicken with its head cut off. You need to keep a watchful eye on her.”
“You’re probably right,” Arios muttered, suddenly in serious thought. Guy saw that and chuckled. Lately toying with Arios like this has been one of his favorite pastimes.
“Man… to think they actually managed to find this place using that map…” Guy said, and gently ruffled Lloyd’s hair.
When Lloyd woke, he was staring up at a ceiling he didn’t recognize. His brain was still hazy, and he couldn’t work out where he was.
“—! Wendy! Oscar!”
Lloyd jumped to his feet, suddenly remembering everything that happened. This obviously wasn’t the warehouse. It looked like some kind of drawing room, slightly worn out but nicely decorated. It seemed as if he had been laid down to sleep on a sofa.
“hrmm…. Where…are we…?”
Lloyd had woken up Oscar and Wendy when he jumped to his feet, but their minds didn’t appear to be operating as clearly as Lloyd’s yet.
The next moment the door opened.
“Oh hey, you pipsqueaks finally woke up!”
It was Guy. He had brought with him a tray carrying some cups of orange juice. Handling the tray rather casually, he set it down on the table in front of the sofa.
Lloyd started to ask about what happened, but Guy cut him off by handing him a glass of orange juice.
“This is a reception room at the Crossbell Police Department’s headquarters. I got permission to use this room. We’ve arrested those guys in black clothing, so there’s nothing to worry about.”
The men Guy and Arios arrested had been escorted to prison. This case led to the arrest of multiple members of the troublesome Revache and the suppression of firearms, both big wins for the often ridiculed Crossbell Police Department. This event also further added to the rising fame of Guy, Arios, and Sergei’s team. Guy, however, didn’t bring up any of that. He had a more important matter to discuss.
“…Now, whose idea was this ‘treasure hunt’ of yours?”
Despite his nonchalant tone, Lloyd, Oscar, and Wendy all shuddered. It was their fault that all this happened. He’s sure to be extremely mad at them.
Oscar looked like he wanted to run. Wendy looked like she could burst out crying at any moment. As for Lloyd, he appeared as if he had given up on something.
“It was my idea.”
Lloyd dejectedly raised his hand. Wendy immediately objected.
“N-no, that’s wrong! I’m the one who found the bullet! So…”
“It was my fault then! …I’m the one who, you know, said we should go into that warehouse, and…”
Wendy and Oscar both tapered off at the end. Watching them carefully, Guy asked his next question.
“Alright, it was all of your idea. Then… who was the leader?”
The three of them exchanged a look. This time Lloyd nodded confidently.
“It was me.”
This time Lloyd looked Guy directly in the eyes as he spoke. It was unclear who suggested the idea first, but it was clear who the leader was. No matter how the events unfurled, it was always Lloyd who made the important decisions. Of that Lloyd had no doubt.
“Is that so,” Guy muttered, and stood up.
Then he slapped Lloyd.
This was even more of a shock than the gunshot from earlier. Before Lloyd fully processed what had happened, he was on the floor. His cheek seared with pain where Guy had slapped him.
Oscar saw Lloyd on the ground and flinched. Tears started flowing from Wendy’s eyes. Guy faced Lloyd and yelled with a booming voice that surely carried outside the room.
“IF YOU THINK YOURSELF TO BE A LEADER, THE SAFETY OF YOUR COMRADES NEEDS TO BE YOUR FIRST PRIORITY! ANYONE WHO PUTS THE LIVES OF THEIR COMRADES IN DANGER, IS NOT FIT TO BE A LEADER!!!”
Lloyd’s cheek hurt, but Guy’s words cut much deeper.
The truth is that somewhere, he understood it from the start. He knew that bullet was only going to lead to trouble. He had fooled himself into thinking he could do something about it. But that bullet was only ever going to lead to someone getting hurt or dying. Even if it wasn’t loaded into a gun.
There were a number of points where they should’ve turned back. Before they entered the warehouse. Before Wendy and Oscar opened the lid of that crate. But it wasn’t until after they got caught that he fully realized that.
He wanted to one-up Guy, he wanted to be praised for cracking this case, and he wanted to finally receive some recognition of his own. But in the end, he wasn’t even capable of protecting his friends.
I’m weak, thought Lloyd.
Being forced to confront that truth, Lloyd felt like his heart was going to break.
Guy took a step toward Lloyd. Lloyd expected his brother to hit him again. But he was okay with that. Actually, he wanted it. In order to help Lloyd fully understand his own weakness, he didn’t want Guy to hold back.
As Lloyd shut his eyes to brace himself for the incoming hit, he was instead enveloped by a soft embrace.
Guy was hugging Lloyd.
“…Don’t worry me like that, Lloyd. …If you died, Mom and Dad, I… I wouldn’t know what to say to them…” Guy said, and sniffled.
Guy’s body felt warm.
Forgetting his frustration over his weakness, Lloyd began flooding tears.
“Guy… Sorry… I’m so sorry…”
Crying into Guy’s chest, Lloyd apologized repeatedly.
Guy patted Lloyd on the back, and then brought in Wendy and Oscar.
“I was scared… I was so scaaaared!”
Hugging the sobbing children with all his might, Guy cracked a smile. No one saw it other than Aidios herself, but there was a little spark in his eyes.