TLN: Apologies if your comments didn’t appear straight away. I’ve changed the settings so comments are auto-approved, but it doesn’t seem to be working.
Sorry if the chapter is a little messy explanation wise. I’m very tired at the moment so could only do a brief check to see if everything makes sense.
FYI this is almost the end of the first volume of the LN (if I was translating the LN), it’s about 96% of the way there.
Arc 1 – Changing Everyday
Chapter 14 – Behind the scenes…
After waiting for Momoi to change into her uniform—we left Saijo behind and began to walk home.
Momoi’s condition did not improve even after leaving the gymnasium, so I was walking hand in hand with her whilst pulling lightly.
Occasionally Momoi squeezed my hand tightly, but I didn’t say anything.
I decided to let her do what she wanted until she was satisfied.
Eventually Momoi stopped.
I also stop and look back at her.
She was looking at me with trembling eyes.
When I asked her that, she opened her mouth to speak.
「What do you mean?」(Kaito)
「Because…..you’re not the type of person to do this….」(Momoi)
I understand what she wants me to say.
Certainly, I’m not the type of person to do what I did to Saijo.
Well I don’t know if that’s exactly true.
Why—did I show up there?
Why—was I so well prepared?
It goes back a week.
「Onii-chan…..please help onee-chan….」(Sakura)
Sakura-chan came to my room in tears.
I led her into my room and let her sit on the bed.
It’s the first time I’ve seen her this way.
I wonder if she’s overwhelmed by everything that’s happening…
Sakura-chan slowly opens her mouth to answer me.
「Onee-chan has been acting strange….」(Sakura)
At Sakura-chan’s words, I think of how Momoi has been acting recently.
I don’t think there’s anything different, but…?
「I haven’t really noticed anything different. Are you sure it’s not in your head?」(Kaito)
「That’s not it! My sister hasn’t fought with you lately!」(Sakura)
That’s what’s strange!?
It’s not something else? Just that she hasn’t argued with me recently?
In truth, I don’t remember fighting with her these past few days. ….
Is it really that normal for Momoi to argue with me….?
「…..isn’t there anything else that has changed?」(Kaito)
I feel a little sad and ask Sakura-chan.
Besides we can’t prove she is acting different because of just that.
「Um…she sometimes forcibly makes herself laugh, although it’s rare, it made me wonder…it also seems like she hasn’t appeared at the student council these past few days….I’m sure she’s involved in something bad….」(Sakura)
Well….I don’t know if that’s true or not…
—–It’s useless even if I think about it.
Then why am I so relieved?
I don’t know if anything has happened to Momoi, but it’s strange for “that” serious Momoi not to attend the student council.
It’s possible that I’ve only noticed this because of Sakura-chan.
Sakura-chan has been with Momoi for a very long time, so she would notice a difference in behaviour compared to me.
Then what should I do?
If I ask Momoi, she probably won’t talk honestly.
Then should I get Sakura-chan to ask her?
—-no, if Sakura-chan could ask her then I’m sure she would have already heard about it from Momoi.
If she hasn’t asked her yet, it’s probably because she knows she won’t get an answer.
…………..is this the only way?
Uwaa….if it turns out to me nothing and she finds out….she’ll definiitely kill me….
—-with the help of Sakura-chan, I was able to hack Momoi’s smartphone to find out what she was involved in.
I couldn’t hide my surprise after reading the logs I extracted from Momoi’s smartphone.
No way, so Saijo-san was involved in this matter….
Moreover looking at the logs, it seems that Saijo-san is cornering Momoi little by little.
Perhaps she’s trying to block Momoi’s escape route.
….no, she had no escape route to begin with….
Saijo-san was cornering her step by step because she was wary, but Momoi already can’t go against her.
It seems she cherishes the image of an honour student.
Momoi may not have noticed, but she was taken as a hostage as soon as she was photographed as a shoplifter….
The only way to resolve the issue is to delete all videos and photos…
To do that we’ll need to get an app to delete all the data—that’s right!
I remembered a conversation between Saijo-san and Nishimura-san about how slow her smartphone was.
Her personality is one that does what she wants.
I obtained Nishimura-san’s contact information from Momoi’s smartphone.
The app that I had originally made to speed up PC’s, then modified for Sakura-chan to speed up her phone. I would use that against Nishimura-san.
Due to her personality, the app would definitely end up in Saijo-san’s hands.
However there’s not enough time for that.
The app works differently in both windows 7 and windows 10, even the different versions of android could cause issues.
So I’ll need to create an app for every version.
But…in terms of OS….I only have windows 10….
I can’t afford to fail….so it can’t be helped…
—I decided to gather people to act as my application testers online.
There was no criteria as the only problem would be if they had the app installed already on their device, so we recruited a considerable number of people.
…..I’ve lost a large amount of the savings I’ve saved up so far….
Even with the same OS, it’s necessary to have multiple testers, so it’s unavoidable to have so many testers.
Well, when I think that this is to help Sakura-chan, it makes me feel a little better.
I’m not doing this for Momoi!
….who am I making excuses for…?
Maybe it’s because of my lack of sleep, I feel like I’m going crazy…
—I was able to get Nishimura-san to use the app, and I kept getting the conversation logs of Saijo-san and the others by remote connection, so I was able to grasp the situation at all times.
However at the time I couldn’t find anything decisive to use against Saijo-san and the others.
The conversation logs alone could be wiped completely by the power of the Saijo Conglomerate.
That said, I’m not going to use Momoi’s photos as physical evidence.
If I do that, her pictures will be exposed to the eyes of many people, and above all, unless Saijo and her friends send the pictures, it is impossible to prove who took them.
There was one instance where they shared an image with each other, but that would likely be wiped as mentionied earlier.
So I kept gathering evidence so that they couldn’t escape.
Saijo-san….no Saijo gave me the evidence I needed, as expected. (TLN: He stops using honorifics when referring to her from now on)
But, because at the time my smartphone was hidden in the gymnasium, I was hiding in a place where I could hear the situation inside…
I was furious at the laughter from Saijo and other, who were talking happily with each other.
Originally I wasn’t going to reveal myself, as I was trying to get all the evidence before 6pm, but when I heard Momoi’s scream my anger reached it’s peak and I immediately left my hiding spot.
—that was the actions I took before and during the gymnasium incident.
But now that I think about it, I would have had to reveal myself earlier anyway.
If I had waited any longer, they could have taken a decisive photo of Momoi and potentially distributed it before the time turned to 6.
In this case it may have helped me because I was so angry I had forgotten about that.
—but I won’t tell Momoi these things.
So I’ll just say that the reason is because she asked for help–
「—you don’t need a reason to help family, stepsister」(Kaito)
—I smiled at her.
Momoi turned away from me and muttered with a red face.
「Y, you….is that really the thing you say to the hero who saved you….?」(Kaito)
「You think of yourself as a hero? That’s really gross….」(Momoi)
Yeah, I agree with you there, but why did you have to say it!
But it’s a little depressing.
She was giving me a cold look as usual.
Then, why is her face red and her eyes full of tears as she’s cursing me?
She’s probably still upset from what happened earlier, so I can’t complain.
….yeah, let’s not fight with her today…
Other than that, maybe I didn’t want to change Momoi’s expression because I found it cute….?
In the end I just thought it was pitiful to argue with a girl who had been cornered like she had.
…is that really the case?
「—hey, I want you to tell me one last thing…why were you so kind to Saijo-san in the end….?」(Momoi)
Whilst my thoughts were in conflict, Momoi asked me a question.
Her words seemed sharp, she still seems to be sulky about that.
….are you angry that I didn’t destroy the person who trapped you?
I was a little confused, but I decided to explain it to Momoi honestly.
It’s difficult with the current atmosphere, but I begin explaining it for the sake of the future Momoi.
「Why? Did you want me to end their lives to get back at them?」(Kaito)
「Th, that’s not it….」(Momoi)
「Then why ask that?」(Kaito)
To my words, Momoi’s gaze wanders as if its hard for her to say.
Since it’s unlikely she’ll provide an answer, I speak up first.
「If I leave them alone, you think they will get revenge…?」(Kaito)
Momoi nodded anxiously to my question.
I shake my head to Momoi.
「They won’t do that」(Kaito)
Momoi looked at me in surprise.
「Do you think Saijo is an idiot?」(Kaito)
She looks away from me.
I must have been right.
「Why do you think so? Is it because her test results are bad?」(Kaito)
「That’s wrong in the first place, I don’t think academic ability is a good measure of human intelligence」(Kaito)
「Why…? Isn’t it natural that academic ability leads to intelligence」(Momoi)
I sigh at Momoi who tilts her head.
She seemed to dislike my attitude.
Oh—are we going to argue?
However she quickly closed her mouth, as quickly as she opened it.
….really, it’s difficult….
….wait a moment, I…..
Maybe I was looking forward to arguing with Momoi….
I shook my head in a hurry to blow away those thoughts that passed through my mind and continued talking.
「I’ve been in the same class as Saijo since I was in first grade–she hasn’t listened to any of the lessons, so her test results are bad」(Kaito)
「Then isn’t she stupid…? She doesn’t even listen in class….」(Momoi)
「Do you really think so? Why do you think she doesn’t listen in class?」(Kaito)
「Isn’t that because it’s boring?」(Momoi)
「No, she just doesn’t need to」(Kaito)
To my words, Momoi shakes her head.
「Your grades have an impact on your future, so they are neccesary for everyone」(Momoi)
「No, she doesn’t need that. She already has her future set in stone. I’m sure she will enter a private university with the power of her household. Then she’ll succeed her parents business. That’s why lessons are unnecessary for her. That said, she doesn’t sleep during class when others do, do you know the reason why?」(Kaito)
「I, I don’t know! I’ve never been in the same class as her!」(Momoi)
「Well, that’s true…it’s because she was seriously reading books about etiquette, psychology, negotiation, leadership. She would always read these books whenever I sat next to her in lesson」(Kaito)
Momoi’s eyes opened wide to my words.
Maa, students don’t usually read those books.
When I mentioned there were multiple reasons why I was scared of Saijo, this was one of them.
「She’s actually smart, she has a firm grasp of the extent of her power and knows how to get people to follow her. Hey Momoi, why do you think she did such a roundabout thing to corner you? Why did she make you out as a shoplifter to force you to do what she wanted? Haven’t you wondered why the final orders she gave you were so different?」(Kaito)
Momoi had a dark expression for a moment at my words, perhaps remembering some unpleasant memories.
Then she shakes her head.
Does she not get it…?
「At first, she ordered you to do easy tasks so that you would listen to what she said. If she had increased the difficulty of the orders too quickly, it would be easy to have them rejected. However if she started from the easy stage, she could use the shoplifting to leverage you to obey her orders. Then gradually increase the difficulty. This way you will always weigh the orders against the risk and obey them. This is because humans have a habit of escaping to what they find comfortable. It’s better to obey obediently that do something against it. In fact, when you were ordered to do stuff, you decided to obey the orders and then regretted it after」(Kaito)
(TLN: Basically, the shoplifting incident was used as leverage to get her to take a H pose, then they increased the difficulty to cat-girl cosplay and used the H-pose as leverage, then they did swimsuit posing with the cat-girl cosplay as leverage. Each stage was designed to force her to do more and more outrageous things)
「By moving up the stages steadily, but the time you reach the final stage, your heart will be weakened considerably from fear and it will be instilled in your mind that you can’t go against her. However the plan ended prematurely due to your resistance」(Kaito)
「Eh…what do you mean? I didn’t do anything did I?」(Momoi)
「Even though she was being careful with each stage, there was a chance you wouldn’t obey her orders. Well the degree of what you can accept depends on the strength of the person. Saijo is a person who feels very strongly about you, so she definitely knew you would resist. That’s why she kept increasing the steps quickly」(Kaito)
Momoi was surprised at my words.
She probably didn’t realize that.
「What did she say when you resisted today? If you didn’t listen to what she said, she would reach out to Sakura-chan?」(Kaito)
「She said…she would make Sakura do something similar to me…」(Momoi)
「Right? She intended to shift her aim to Sakura-chan when you stopped listening to what she said. She intended to weaken your heart as much as she could, then use Sakura-chan to force you to listen to her. However she miscalculated because you kept listening to her orders anyway….your heart was too weak」(Kaito)
My words connected the dots in Momoi’s mind.
She must regret it.
She was easily made to do what they wanted…
She could only listen obediently…
To be honest, I also thought it was unlikely that Momoi would obediently listen to Saijo.
I thought she was a strong girl.
But–she continued to obey.
At the very least, she’s not as strong as I and Saijo originally thought.
However , I’m somewhat glad that Momoi’s heart was rather weak in this case.
「You may be upset, but….Sakura-chan is safe because you didn’t resist, so don’t worry too much」(Kaito)
「Well, she looks like a blonde gal, but she has a cautious personality. She also understands that I won’t crush them as long as they don’t put their hands on Momoi and others, so I’m not going to do anything」(Kaito)
When I said that, Momoi looked in my eyes.
「But….it wasn’t anything to laugh about…besides Kabedon and Agokui…」(Momoi) (TLN: Kabedon is where a man slams his hand besides girls face pushing her against a wall. Agokui is where the man lifts the girl’s head using her chin)
When she says that, Momoi’s cheeks swelled as if she was angry.
What the hell is she saying?
Are her words referring to the last things I did…..?
….you’re saying that, you, who are you…..?
It feels like I’m dealing with Sakura-chan….
「I did that to Saijo to arouse her fear, just like Saijo did to Momoi. I wanted her to despair. But I couldn’t drive her into a corner, so smiled and approached her. She wouldn’t believe the words of an angry man」(Kaito)
「But why drive her so far….? Do you like her….?」(Momoi)
Why is that what you think of!?
What kind of thought process do you have to think that I like her!?
「You know the saying “a cornered rat will bite a cat”. If I cornered her more than necessary, she would definitely drag you down with her. If I had provided judgement, all the students would know what they made you do. So I couldn’t do that」(Kaito)
「Won’t she notice this…? if she notices, she might do something else….」(Momoi)
Saying that, Momoi looked frightened.
It seems that the incident has become a trauma.
「Do you think she noticed?」(Kaito)
Momoi looked at me in surprise.
Her complexion was dyed in despair.
「Don’t worry, she won’t do anything. Even if though I say that, I can’t judge her right now. But if Momoi and Sakura are actually harmed, even if I have to announce what happened, I would still crush them. So Saijo won’t do anything, I acted out in a certain way to bring this entire case to an end」(Kaito)
「Really? She won’t do anything….?」(Momoi)
….isn’t her fear gone yet…?
But she doesn’t need to worry anymore.
「Are you worried?」(Kaito)
「No, I know you’re worried. Because of everything that has happened. However–」(Kaito)
I put my hand on Momoi’s head–
「If she does something, I’ll protect you」(Kaito)
As I say that, I smile whilst stroking Momoi’s head.