Once the door closed behind her, Alice turned to face Sam. They stared at each other for a few seconds, the tension in the room growing by the moment.

After a long minute of silence the white haired commander moved. Sam's body went stiff seeing her approach him, but defying his expectations she threw herself onto his chest as she hugged him tightly.

"... um… Alice?" Sam was confused for a moment, but when he heard what she said next he understood the reason behind her actions.

"You're safe." Alice spoke, nuzzling up against him. "I was so worried…"

"R-really now…"

Sam's nervousness grew a thousand golds seeing that she was now close enough to notice the strange odor coming from his body. Despite that he returned the hug, slowly patting her head.

Of course his trooper was quick to stand for attention and that didn't go unnoticed by the white haired beauty.

Alice glanced down before looking up at him with half lid eyes.

"Sam, you realize this isn't a good time, right? Someone just died." She said, heaving an exasperated sigh.

"It's just a reaction, don't let it bother you." Sam replied with a nervous smile.

"Also, when was the last time you bathed?"

Just when he was about to relax the question finally came up.

"I… have been really busy…" Sam replied. "I didn't get the chance…"

"I know the work father left you with is very important, however you shouldn't neglect taking care of yourself. It would be really bad if you collapse from exhaustion."

"... I… will make sure to be careful…"

There was a moment of silence as they hugged each other a little longer, Alice then let go of him and walked over to her desk.

"Can't believe something like this happened. And just when we were starting with the preparations to leave this place." She sighed, relaxing on the back of her chair.

"The problem is that this isn't the first time." Sam said, sitting at the edge of the sofa. "And it seems I'm the prime suspect in this case as well."

"Come to think of it, you said you and sergeant Clementine had some disagreements in the past." Alice said. "Mind if I ask what it was about?"

Sam let out a sigh. He really didn't want to talk about it, but in the end he decided to just do it.
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"He was trying get together with Shizuru but got rejected. You can guess the rest."

"Ooh… I think I understand." Alice nodded repeatedly. "You stole the woman he was after, I guess he would have a grudge because of that."

p "I didn't steal anything. Shizuru and I had something going on for a while at that point. It's his fault for not being able to read the mood."

Though he said that, Sam wasn't that good at catching hints as well. If the Asian girl didn't bring up the idea of dating he would've just cowered until she got tired of him.

"That aside, how are we going to solve this problem?" He asked. "There is a murderer in our lines. If we go back to the headquarters without finding out who it was they would really get away with it."

"I understand what you mean, but…" letting out a sigh, Alice held a hand to her forehead. "We have very little evidence. All we can do is interrogate the soldiers and try to lower down the number of suspects. It would be much easier if we had an idea of what the motive might be, but sadly…"

They knew very little to even make a guess. As his mind went through the things he heard so far, Sam decided to mention what Melissa had told him earlier.

"Apparently the victim was a big fan of Zero Three." He said. "Though I find it difficult to believe that has anything to do with his murder…"

"Zero Three, huh…" Alice mumbled in a low voice, her eyes cast down. "Speaking of the small one, you asked for permission to sit het out of the patrol the other day, right? And yesterday it was Nine. Is something going on?"

The question spilled cold water on Sam who had thought the difficult part had ended. His mind worked at top speed to come up with an excuse, but even though he had one at the ready, somehow he felt that his white haired lover wouldn't buy it.

"What are you talking about, Alice. Weren't you the one who asked me to keep an eye on those three?"


"Since I've been stuck in my lab the entire time I didn't get the chance to supervise them as you asked. That's why I had one of them stay behind so I could check a few things."

"I… see…" Alice seemed unconvinced at first, but then she let out a sigh as if dismissing the subject. "It must be quite difficult, having to deal with them all the time."

"Yeah, it really is…" Sam followed with a nod.

"So… did you find anything?" She asked. "I remember you being quiet paranoid about the way they were behaving recently."

"Nope…" Sam shook his head slowly. "I think what happened back then was just me reading too much into it. I barely interacted with them before so I shouldn't have rushed to conclusions."

As he has yet to decide how he would deal with the matter, Sam didn't want anyone to know about Zero Three gaining sentience. It's not that he didn't trust Alice, however the fewer those who knew the better it was for now.

It was difficult to imagine a scenario where humanity doesn't freakout at the prospect of one of their weapons obtaining individuality. The only solution would be for him to do as Wolf had told him and find a way to turn humans into Valkyries. Only then would Three have a chance at living a normal life.

"Well, am I right to assume that you intend to make the third one stay behind today?" Alice asked.

"That was the plan." Sam replied, doing his best to keep a poker face.
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"There won't be any need, then. I've decided that there is no point in continuing with such operations since we'll be abandoning the region in a few weeks. The Valkyries are to stay put until further notice."

"... understood…"

Sam wasn't expecting something like that so it came as quite the surprise.

"Also, from now on make sure to keep at least one of them by your side." She said. "They might not be able to hurt humans but at the very least they would be able to detect danger before it gets to you."

"Wait… hold on… are you asking me to make the three my bodyguards?" Sam asked, his eyes wide open.

"Of course." Alice replied with a smile. "I would do anything to keep you safe."

"... shouldn't I be the one saying that?" He said. "And wouldn't it make more sense for them to protect you, the base's commander?"

"You don't have to worry about me." Alice said. "I'm not the one who got attacked before."

"Even if you say that…"

"Besides, the administration building is as secure as your lab and the Valkyries' residence. I rarely leave my office so I'm sure I'll be fine."

Sam sighed once more. Something told him the murdered would definitely find a way no matter how secure they might think they are.

But that didn't really matter. Since he now has the permission he didn't have to worry about coming up with excuses. First he would continue where he had left with Five, after that he would move between her and Nine until he gets his fill of that sweet sweet Valkyrie vagina. He could even have threesomes with both of them. Surely that would be enough to satisfy the thirst he felt even after doing it with Nine all day long.

"Back to the main topic." Alice spoke interrupting his tain of thought. "Do you think the two crimes are related?"

"Huh?" Sam was stunned for a moment but he quickly regained his composure. "You mean that of sergeant Clementine and this one?"

"Yes. We know that the two victims are acquainted, however does that really mean the perpetrator is the same one as last time?"

Sam stopped to think about it for a moment, staring at the ceiling as he did.

"Now that you said it, we can't overlook that possibility."

They had made the assumption that the two crimes are related but they didn't have much evidence to support that.

"Well, we might learn something once we interrogate the third one." Sam said, referring to the third guy Melissa mentioned.

"I know I've already said it but… I honestly can't comprehend why someone would kill one of their comrades when the world is like this." Letting out a sigh, Alice got up from her chair and turned to stare out of the window behind her. "Hopefully we catch the criminal before it's time to move. I doubt I would be able to sleep well otherwise…"

Sam agreed with her on that point. Not that he cared about the victims or the morality of the matter. He just had a feeling that unless this mystery is solved one day it'll somehow blow up in his face.

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