Full Metal Panic!

 
 
 

Full Metal Panic! Chapter 2


Of course, Sousuke tailed her, keeping an eye on the situation from
the opposite corner of the shop. Sousuke looked around nervously
while pretending to read a three-day-old copy of Tokyo Sports.
Sousuke didn't like the look of the man sitting at the counter
behind Kaname-mid‘twenties, medium build, eyes hidden beneath
a plain gray beret. The man had a black attaché case at his feet, and
he incessantly checked his wristwatch.
What’s in the case? wondered Sousuke.
It reminded him of one he had seen in a catalog of antiterrorist
equipment. If his memory was correct, that particular
model had a built-in submachine gun, which could be fired at the
flip of a switch.
After polishing off his hamburger, the man stood up with his
tray in hand.
Here we go . . . Sousuke readied himself for action.
But the man simply deposited his hamburger wrapper in the
trash, placed his tray on top of the garbage can, and left.
So I was wrong. Unless…
Sousuke looked and saw the man’s case sitting on the ground,
where he’d left it. What if. . . Dammit!
It was not unheard of for terrorists to blow up a whole crowd
of people to get at a particular target. But wasn’t Kaname supposed
to be a kidnapping target? Maybe the situation changed. At any
rate, Sousuke didn’t have time to think about it.
He dashed through the cramped eatery, upsetting tables and
shoving diners. He grabbed the briefcase, which was certainly
heavy enough to be a bomb.
However, this action didn’t go unnoticed. "Sa-Sagara-kun?"
said Kaname in disbelief.
“Get down!"
Shoving away more customers, Sousuke charged out of the
hamburger joint with the mysterious case.
Now, where can I get rid of this thing?
Sousuke surveyed the surrounding area-during the evening,
the shopping district was positively crammed with people. He
spotted a parking lot across the street-perhaps there would be fewer
people there.
“Move!” yelled Sousuke as he bolted out into the street,
angering drivers literally left and right.
Honk! Honk!
Sousuke turned just in time to see a truck squealing to a halt.
It couldn’t stop in time, and it sent Sousuke flying. He crashed
into a bicycle stand on the side of the road.
Failure . . . not an option. . .
Standing up as quickly as his woozy head would permit,
Sousuke was in the process of trying to relearn how to walk when
the suspicious man from the burger place approached him.
“Hey man, are you okay?" inquired the man, relieving
Sousuke of the attaché case. He popped it open. "Oh, thanks. I
don’t know what I would have done if I had lost my manuscript.”
The man slapped Sousuke on the back and left.
A small group of people, including the truck driver, Kaname,
her friends, and some other passersby, stood staring at Sousuke.
Some were worried, some confused, some amazed, but all seemed
to be expecting some kind of explanation.
“What on Earth are you doing, Sagara-kun?” wondered
Kyouko.
“I thought it was a bomb,” Sousuke said meekly before
collapsing on the pavement.

"At this rate, you'll be dead by the end of the week!" Kurz
laughed as he wrapped a bandage around Sousuke's head. "You're
probably more dangerous than any terrorists! Try to relax a
little."
"I'm trying," said Sousuke.
That evening's hamburger-hut fiasco was just the icing on the
cake of four days' worth of misguided efforts with catastrophic
(and injurious) results.
No matter how hard he tried, Sousuke could not stop
himself from overreacting—acting violently, crashing around,
destroying public property, disturbing class—and Kagurazaka Eri
and Kaname never let him forget it.
He never ran out of energy or fresh bruises.
Even in the harshest combat conditions, Sousuke hadn't
ever taken so much abuse in such a short period of time. He
fell down stairs, crashed through windows, crumpled beneath
a falling pile of books in the library, and chafed his chest
while tackling a plaster art model, among other things.
My rhythm is totally off, he realized, unsure how to
correct the problem. How ironic that he was able to survive so
many years of intense combat only to be undone by high
school!
"You can't keep up this pace," decided Kurz. "Tomorrow,
we'll switch. Mao and I will keep watch outside the school."
"What if the enemy comes inside the school?"
"I doubt that will happen. I wonder whether Kaname's
really a target even."
"Wishful thinking is dangerous." Sousuke couldn't help but
frown at Kurz's easygoing attitude. "You always must take every
possibility into account—
"If you want to get hit by a truck," interrupted Kurz. "Have you
ever heard the expression 'tilting at windmills'?"
The look on Sousuke's face indicated that he had not.
"Hm. It's like a sumo fighting against his own loincloth."
"Loincloth?"
"You don't know that one? Are you even Japanese?" Kurz
finished wrapping the bandage and returned to the window.
"There's one thing I don't understand."
"About loincloths?"
Kurz rolled his eyes.
"About Kaname. She seems so . . . normal. I mean, she's
pretty but not, like, jaw-dropping hot. And her personal history
is very commonplace—compared to ours, at least."
"You might be right."
If Sousuke learned nothing else from this mission, he'd at
least discovered the startling difference between others his age
and him.
"So, why is she a KGB target? It's just like that girl we
picked up last week. She was just a normal high school student
before they snagged her, too. What the hell could they possibly
stand to gain by taking and drugging these girls?"
"All I have is the same information you do," said Sousuke.
"Yeah, there must be something more to this than the
lieutenant commander's telling us."

When are you going to get moving?" demanded the KGB colonel. Three days had
passed already since his meeting with Gauron.
"Soon, very soon," answered Gauron through the other end of phone.
The colonel could hear bustling in the background. Gauron—a terrorist of
unknown origins-was calling from the Soviet embassy in Tokyo. According to
official embassy reports, Gauron barely left the building and rarely spoke to
anyone.
I'm making the arrangements now. We have to make
sure everything’s in place before we move in on the target."
“Arrangements? What kind of arrangements do you need
to make?”
“Don't be so impatient.”
“What?”
"There's no way Mithril's just going to let us waltz right
in and grab her."
"You mean they're protecting Taidoree Kanumu?" The
colonel still struggled to pronounce her name.
Chuckling, Gauron said, "It seems so. If I'm not careful,
I'll be noticed."
"I don't care!" spouted the colonel. "Kill anyone who
gets in your way if you have to!"
"I'm afraid that's impossible."
"Why?”
"They have an AS in ECS invisible mode that's keeping
tabs on her."
"And no one has noticed? That's impossible. That kind of
equipment—"
"I told you," Gauron interrupted antagonistically, "their
equipment is ten years ahead of the rest of the world's. They
probably have some of their best personnel on this mission, too. If
we run in there like a bunch of amateurs, they'll embarrass us all."
The colonel stuttered.
"Don't worry, I've got a plan," Gauron stated and hung up. "You
just worry about keeping yourself out of the labor camps."