The long-term Social Democratic Party Committee Chairman Matoba lived in a manor in a residential area a ten-minute walk from Ikegami Honmonji. The modern, reinforced concrete building behind the vine-covered gateposts stood in stark contrast to the traditional Japanese-style buildings around it.
While Shimazaki visited Ota, a tall man carrying a slim suitcase stepped out of a black Cedric parked near the gates. The man was in excellent shape, but his behavior was somewhat agitated and anxious. Stepping into the alleyway and slipping behind Matoba's manor, he opened the lid of the suitcase.
The suitcase was actually a notebook computer. Typing uncertainly on the keyboard, a droplet-like crystal blurred the liquid-crystal display of the machine. Presently the crystal changed into a milky-white liquid, which spilled to the ground by the man's feet and took on the form of Set’s minion, the Apep. Raising its slender head, the Apep took a quick look around before silently disappearing into the concrete mansion.
Matoba was taking a nap on the sofabed in the study next to his office. The heavy black bags under his eyes betrayed his exhaustion from his nonstop efforts to bring his party together and block the National Secrets Protection Act from being passed. Taking advantage of the fact that the world stage was becoming a war of information, the restrictions in the act clearly indicated that the Liberal Party was veering further and further to the right. As the Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, that was hard for Matoba to allow.
A quiet breeze blew into the room through the air conditioner that Matoba had left on. Not even disturbing the sound of that breeze, the snake slipped into the room through the slit under the door. It raised its head, fixating on its prey. Its small red eyes looked over the snoring, sleeping form of Matoba. Wiggling its body rapidly, the white snake slithered across the floor, effortlessly climbed up the sofabed and dove into the V-neck of Matoba's exposed undershirt, clearly by his unfastened tie.
Without any hesitation, the pale serpent bit into the exaggeratedly expanding and contracting fat stomach before it. Like a sharp drill, the slender body of the snake tunneled into Matoba's gut. As if he felt no pain whatsoever, Matoba slept on peacefully.
A minute or so later, Matoba suddenly twisted up from the sofabed as if a wave of high-voltage electricity was running through him. His body started to spasm wildly. However, it appeared that the Apep had gained full control of his nervous system; he soon started snoring again and fell into a deep sleep. Strangely enough, the wound on his stomach had sealed, as if cured by some sort of magic. Only moments later, the light sound of a Cedric driving away could be heard from the front of Matoba's manor.
The next morning, Ota, who had been sleeping like a rock in his office, was shaken awake by a messenger.
"Is it time for today's plenary session already?" As Ota's sleepy eyes searched for his glasses, the messenger's excited voice interrupted.
"Chairman Matoba of the Social Democratic Party declared his support for the National Secrets Protection Act in a press conference this morning. Congratulations, Chief Secretary. Now the law is as good as passed."
As if he had not completely awakened from a dream, Ota shook his head furiously.