Early afternoon, Taiyou Castle, in the living terrace.
Aoba and Suzune were alone together, readying the preparations for the welcome party.
They were doing things like making hanging banners, cutting origami and making chain-like decorations.
As if they had barely started, it seemed that there would be quite a bit of time before completion.
The two of them were chatting while proceeding preparations.
「Come to think of it, what was the name of this?」
「You mean this？」
「Mhm, this loop? Or is it a chain? I’m just wondering what it’s name is」
「Hmm, what could it be? I don’t know either, come to think of it」
As the two of them were connecting loop and loop, Aoba asked that, and Suzune tilted her head.
「Koto-chan Kaza-chan, do you guys know the name of those ring-like things used for parties that connect together? Oh okay, thanks」
After muttering as if to herself, Suzune answered Aoba.
「Koto-chan and Kaza-chan say they don’t know either」
「Yeah? Maybe it’d be best to look it up on the internet」
「Mhm. Let’s check it out later」
「But wow, that’s convenient. The telepathy between you three」
Aoba referred to it as convenient.
Using that term without ill intent was a kind expression, which Aoba used unconsciously, and Suzune took it as it ought to be taken.
Even though they were rivals in a sense, they weren’t enemies.
Which was why they naturally spoke that way.
「Mhm, it’s super convenient！」
「Cause you’re triplets. Can you do anything else？」
「This is the same sort of thing, but if we can at least see each other, just by thinking it――we can communicate via our minds」
「Like eye contact？」
「I think it transmits things more vividly than that」
「That’s amazing, is there any sort of restriction？」
「Mm, we can do it as long as we’re awake」
Suzune tilted her head, looking up at the ceiling and making a pensive face.
「I don’t think there is. A bit earlier, Kaza-chan was in a place where radio waves couldn’t reach, but despite that it still transmitted like normal」
「That’s definitely amazing, as well as useful」
「Although because of that, no one thought we could speak until we were about five」
「What do you mean？」
「Cause we were always together and there was no need to talk」
Suzune explained cheerfully.
「You didn’t speak？」
「Yes, we were always together……I wonder what it was like then? Our feelings and the like were conveyed properly, so there was no need to talk」
「What about your voices？」
「I don’t think we even let out a sound. Though it’s vague to recall」
「Then……I guess you were all quiet children」
「Yes, if I think about it, probably to the point where it was sickening」
Suzune said while laughing.
She herself said that it was sickening, without exaggeration.
There was a peaceful and very friendly atmosphere between the two.
Suzune, who was born as the third of three sisters who all wanted to be loved by the same man.
Aoba, who had three mothers and was raised in an environment where polygamous relationships were normal.
The “two” of them understood each other the most in the Natsuno House and were female friends growing ever closer.
Suzune suddenly changed her expression.
Her face looked surprised, panicked.
「Just now, I heard from Koto-chan……it seems that Youran got hurt」
「Yes, she cut her hand with a kitchen knife……Ah-, again」
Unlike the panicking Suzune, Aoba was more on the calm side……if anything, she was composed enough to smile wryly. She was used to this.
She knew that Kotone and Youran had gone to learn cuisine, so it was expected to cut one’s fingers a bit over cooking. That was why she had that expression.
「Doesn’t seem like she’s ever cooked after all」
「It seems that way……Ah but Koto-chan says she’s getting better at a ridiculous pace」
Aoba opened her eyes wide.
「I’d expect as much. Impressive as always」
「You expected this？」
「Mhm, I expected it」
Aoba nodded. She spread out the paper loops she had made, checking the length.
「Cause she’s suuuper similar to Natsuno-kun. She’s smart, nimble, and it feels like she gets good at whatever she does」
「Ah, I think so too. What is it now?……Mhm, thanks Kaza-chan」
As if telepathy had begun again all of a sudden, Suzune gave her thanks for something.
「What’d Kaza-chan say？」
It was like she had suddenly begun talking to herself, but Aoba knew.
Her reaction showed that she was used to the irregular actions of the three sisters.
「Not crafty, but someone who really has a good head on them, she said」
「Mhm, she’s intelligent alright. I think so too. And she has amaaazing common sense from the ground up. Strangely enough, it’s like she not only understands, but “knows” that she understands」
「In the opposite sense, Kohaku-san’s well-versed in knowledge and whatnot, but maybe is a bit of an odd person」
「She’ll get angry if you say that」
「……To the contrary, wouldn’t she be happy about that? If I said it like that」
「……That might be true, yeah」
Suzune nodded after briefly hesitating.
She seemed to be slightly hesistant about wording it that way, but she agreed in the end.
The image of Kohaku came into their heads simultaneously, and they agreed about that.
Afterward, there was a time when they silently worked on things.
As they were doing that, this time Suzune broke the ice.
「Taiyou-san is fighting right now, right?」
「Mhm, as a way of buying time for us to prepare」
「Hera-chan’s fighting with him, right?」
「Well yeah, it’d be unnatural at this point for her to not be with Taiyou when he challenges」
Aoba answered, still moving her hands.
Hera was one of the trump cards Taiyou had against Shirokiyami.
Only those who kissed Taiyou could see her and touch her.
However, no matter what they might try, no human could hurt Hera other than Taiyou.
That essentially meant that Hera could one-sidedly attack Shirokiyami, but Shirokiyami could not counterattack.
Even if she were able to shoot her out of the atmosphere, Hera could not take damage.
Making use of that phenomenon, Taiyou had been tag-teaming with Hera as of recent when challenging Shirokiyami.
He was challenging Shirokiyami with her as his trump card, his joker.
Right now he was vying for time, but also, in order to not let her catch on, he was fighting with Hera as usual.
「We also……would like to fight together, you know…」
「Together? You mean with Natsuno-kun？」
「That……would be difficult though」
「Ah, but not necessarily impossible」
「Earlier, there was something like that in an anime that Kohaku-san and Hera-chan saw. There were heroines singing songs to assist a man riding on a fighter aircraft」
「Yeah, songs. And then the man just got reeeally strong. You might not be able to actually fight, but I think you could assist」
「But, with merely assisting……」
「It might work」
Aoba made another wink, grinning.
It was an impish, mischievous smile.
「But aren’t we normally of use to Natsuno-kun? With『Idol』」
「Hera-chan says that it’s the same wherever we are, but I think it might be different. Being closer versus farther away」
「I think so. When I was first introduced to her, he was by my side, but……I feel like Natsuno-kun was extreeemely fired up」
「Let’s try it next time. Let’s all get together and cheer on Natsuno-kun」
「Mhm, let us try」
In the living terrace of Taiyou Castle, the two females proceeding preparations while smiling at each other.
Hirose Bridge, riverbed.
Taiyou was sprawled in the shape of the kanji 大, staring up at the sky.
（I wonder how much more time I have to save……）
His body hurt all over, and blood was flowing “drip drip” from where he was cut.
His heart felt like it would break.