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Ono left the room quite startled at what he just heard. He wondered if he just sided with the wrong people since the tables were immediately turned against him. He just remembered that on the day this kid transferred, he proclaimed himself a genius who would have attained a higher level of education if he hadn't chosen to follow his mother's instructions and go through school normally.

This blunder made him hold a grudge as he strode out of the room. He almost crashed into the two girls he was looking for because he was too embarrassed to remain and had to think about what he should say to be forgiven. He was looking forward to a promotion that his uncle has been setting up for him and this might have just ruined his chances.

"What was that about?" Maron asked one of the members of class.

"Ono-sensei was looking for both of you and tried to ask Kouzuki-san about it. He wanted to make trouble for Kouzuki-san because he didn't tell him anything but Kouzuki-kun refused to budge"

"Huh really? Why was he looking for us?"

"I don't know. He never really got the chance to say it but knowing Ono-sensei… he probably wants to convince you two to go to his class. He tried asking Aoki-san a few times when he found out that a person from S class was attending here"

The two of girls were a bit surprised. It didn't make sense that Kazuya would give up a chance to get rid of them. He acted like he didn't want anything to do with them so why did he give up such a chance?

"(Is Ka-kun… 'that'?)" Maron began to think of something she learned when she came to this country. It was a type of person that she never thought existed nor was there any concept of it in her home.

Kurumi on the other hand had another thing on her mind. She wrote down her thoughts on her notebook and ate the bread she bought with Maron as they both kept their attention towards Kazuya who was now thinking of ways to handle the situation.

-

Kouzuki Headquarters; CEO's office.

Kyouko has been looking at Mei who was busy working for almost 10 minutes now. She was waiting for her assistant to realize that it was already time for lunch but it seems that her busy assistant hasn't realized it nor gave any signs of noticing any time soon.

"Mei!" She finally lost her patience and decided to call her out after waiting for another minute.

"Hmm? Did you need me for something boss?" Mei glanced over to her boss who wasn't doing any work and her eyebrows twitched.

"What are you looking at me like that for? You're usually the first one to notice but you're starting to act weird again" Kyouko commented.

This wasn't the first time that she called her assistant out for this kind of behavior. They weren't especially busy with anything but there were times that her assistant would appear to be busy like this. She had suspicions that Mei was planning on doing something with her son again since their relationship has been especially weird lately.

They would sometimes go out and Mei would successfully use the excuse that she had already done her work in advance so Kyouko couldn't stop them. She didn't know what they were up to and her son would just tell her that they went out to have fun. This worked for the past two years since the two were successful in hosting Kyouko's surprise birthday party in a small restaurant that she had never been to before where the owner treated them like regulars.

"Oh right. I didn't pay attention to the time" Mei inwardly sighed. She had been too focused because Kazuno Tech was in a very critical time and they couldn't afford to mess up now. Kazuya already warned her about making Kyouko suspicious and she knew it herself but work had always been the perfect place where she could focus.

"You're not planning on taking Kazuya away again are you? You're always like this when you're planning to take him out for a day and don't tell me what you're doing or where you're going" Kyouko looked at her assistant suspiciously. She always looked forward to spending time with Kazuya on weekends but ever since Mei moved in, they would fight over spending time with him whenever the boy wasn't busy with his increasing number of activities.

"Hmm… maybe. I don't think I've done enough work to afford slacking off yet" Mei smiled mischievously. She was relieved to find out that hers and Kazuya's distractions over the years have been working.

"Hmm… I should give you more work then" Kyouko crossed her arms to start thinking. "We haven't really been making progress with our current plans of expansion so I think we should put that on hold and focus on attracting more partners" she seriously considered this which totally startled Mei who had bluffed.

"Do you really want to abandon our plans for entering the technological scene? We've put quite the amount of work in it" Mei wanted to convince her otherwise because with the way things were now, her getting more work would split her attention too much.

"I don't think we'll be making much progress now that Ringo Corp and Kurogane Conglomerate have announced their open collaboration and familial connections in the future. The Kuroganes haven't been showing it but they are still quite bitter about us getting the support of Stockton International" Kyouko sighed. She really couldn't believe that they were the ones feeling bitter about the incident two years ago. Her son was the one who almost died after all.

Kyouko had mentioned this before but Mei didn't think that she would be the one triggering her decision. She needed to think of something and she needed an idea fast.

"Oh right, I was thinking about something you said to me recently boss. You said that I piled up quite a lot of vacation days right? I'm thinking about taking it before I lose the chance of ever taking my piled-up vacation days" this was the best she could think of at the moment.

"WHAT!?" Kyouko was quite surprised at the sudden declaration. Mei was known to have never taken even a sick leave so this made Kyouko look at her suspiciously. "What are you up to? What do you mean by 'before you lose the chance'?"

"Well…" she cursed herself for saying something so careless. "I just thought that since you said that we haven't been really busy lately, I want to let Yumi-chan take the reigns without having me for support. This is going to test her capabilities since she won't have me to clean up her mistakes" both of them glanced towards Yumi who also didn't seem to have noticed the time.

The two have delegated some work to her so that she could get used to the amount of workload Mei had to deal with. Both of them wanted to test this talented girl who wanted to follow the same steps as her parents and work for the company.

"Is that really it? Why does it seem like you only thought of it now?" Kyouko still hadn't dropped her suspicions because this really was something that Mei wouldn't just say or do out of the blue.

"You're right" Mei admitted. "The issue with Yumi-chan and her work is just another reason" Mei changed her expression to a serious one.

"What is the real reason then? I'm not going to allow this if you just plan on pestering my son" Kyouko crossed her arms. Kazuya was busy enough as it was with his school activities and his additional activities with his friends.

"No. I plan on researching and doing some work about the expansion we're talking about. I want to find a way to either get around the wall that our enemies have put in front of us or get us something to break through it" Mei didn't lie. Taking some time off would let her focus on Kazuno Technologies that would be what Ringo Corp was to the Kurogane Conglomerate at the moment.

"That's not even a vacation!" Kyouko retorted. She really thought that Mei would do something that didn't involve working so she felt appreciative and annoyed at the same time.

"I won't need to dress up and go here, I wouldn't need to wake up early either. That's quite an ideal vacation for me already. Besides, I get to focus on my own ideas and explore things that I may have missed while I'm here" Mei explained. "I might even get news about that mysterious company that Ringo Corp has their greedy eyes on.

"You mean Kazuno Tech? Heh" Kyouko let out a laugh. She found it funny when she first heard about Kazuno Tech since it held the last name of her assistant after all.

"Not that one. I was talking about the junk shop called Kyouko's 'old parts'" Mei laughed out loud because they indeed received a report that Ringo Corp was interested in buying the land of an old junk shop with the name.

"You!!"

-

Inside the Kuronuma Dojo, two old men were causing tension to fill the room and disturb the students. They knew this would happen the moment they recognized Shiroyuki Jirou who was not on good terms with the head of the dojo at all. They were like oil and water so they couldn't think of any reason why this person would suddenly call and say that he was coming over all of a sudden.

"Spill it. What does a busy and successful old racoon like you have to do with a humble old man like me?" Kuronuma Komori folded his arms arrogantly. He knew that Jirou wouldn't have gone to him if he had another choice.

Jirou actively working again wasn't a secret. There have been talks since people in their line of work were not strangers to each other so the graduates that were hired in the new security company knew that Jirou had started working on something again. This of course reached Komori's ears because some of the graduates from his dojo had inquired if he had a hand in it.

"I'll make it simple since I called a few of our other peers as well. I need capable people that can absolutely be trusted with secrets to work. The job is security as I'm sure you already know but the skills are secondary to the loyalty and dedication to the secrets that need to be kept" Jirou didn't beat around the bush. He didn't want Komori to have the advantage so he made it seem like he was in a hurry.

"Is that the proper way to ask someone for a favor?" Komori's eyebrows twitched. He didn't expect Jirou to have plans to go to some of their other acquaintances since both of them knew that their dojos were the best in the prefecture.

"It's more like I'm doing you a favor so why do I need to act differently? I came here to offer help to those students of yours who have yet to find suitable jobs for them because my students recommended them but since their master is treating me like this…" Jirou turned around and headed for the door.

Some of the instructors that already came close to their master looked on wishing that these two would just be honest with themselves. Their master was especially being stubborn so they stared at him and wished that their fellow graduates would be able to get a job from one of the most trusted people in their world.

"Hold your horses you sly old racoon! I didn't say that I wouldn't be recommending some of my students!" Komori felt a little defeated. He wouldn't have stopped Jirou if it were normal circumstances but it was his for his students after all.

"Stop wasting my time and speak" Jirou turned around arrogantly. He was secretly happy inside after finally having the upper hand against this old rival of his.

"As their master, I first want to know what they're getting themselves into before I recommend them. What exactly is the nature of the business that you need to elaborate about loyalty and trust?" The two of them moved to the next room where they were served tea and observed by the ones who were interested.

"As you know, I'm managing a small security company. I help capable people get jobs that would be good for them. Mind you, don't think I'm getting jobs like security guards for malls or something like that but a real security detail for companies like my son's or the parent company's.

I also work as a consultant for those companies that need advice in building security now and provide people trained in the systems and tactics in the company's guidelines. Loyalty is a must because some of the companies or individuals have sensitive secrets that need to be protected.

The parent company right now is in need of capable people because the employees are recently being stalked by a competing company. They have even tried bribing the employees to betray the parent company. So I need people that could protect the company as well as the employees.

So far, the contracts they signed are protecting the company for any leaks but you and I both know that human greed can never be underestimated. Even if they signed a contract with the devil, people who don't have enough principles can be bought. That is why I need trusted individuals that you can recommend that cannot be bought. They need to be able to keep the secrets they may learn even from you" Jirou continued explaining the details to make his rival understand and get the grasp of the situation.

He now understood why Jirou called it a 'small project'. Loyal people are rare nowadays. Although they may be ones that could guarantee themselves, each person has their own difficulties to consider. Even the Shiroyuki dojo's situation had changed because of Jirou's project. Those that Jirou had yet to completely trust to send to the company had to replace the instructors he sent so that they could prove themselves to be trustworthy first.

There were traps such as juicy gossip to test how tightly they shut their lips and those who passed could immediately be transferred to work for security details if they do so chose. They did have to sign a contract that Kazuya and Jirou collaborated with though.

"I see…" Komori massaged his head after reading the contents of the contract. This was indeed another barrier that would put off people who weren't confident if they could keep their mouths shut. Even though the employers could be lenient, if they do so discover a breach of some sort, the harsh penalties could be applied.

Komori thought that it would be a simple matter but now he had to ponder a bit. This was probably not as simple as it seemed. It was not that Shiroyuki Jirou wasn't trustworthy, it was just that he needed to think about whether he would want his students to risk themselves signing such a thing. All he could do for now was stall for time.

"Speaking of which, have you heard? Old Kou's heading back to gather us old friends together again"

-

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