Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume16 Chapter1
Chapter 1: Adolescence and Strife
The sun of the spring season shone on the budding, tender leaves of the trees. Because the city moved according to where the filth monsters were, its seasons were irregular. However, the vegetation in the city, having undergone these extreme changes, were adaptable, and so this was what it looked like in spring.
The light was reflected back by the faint green tender leaves, making them appear gentler, exuding in Zuellni’s air a sign of life. And the delayed enrollment ceremony ended in this atmosphere. New students began to get used to their new lives here.
The competition grounds. A place for official Military Artists in Zuellni for training. It was a very spacious area for the platoons. It had artificially made hills and forests, and sometimes even quagmire that would trap one’s feet. If one were in a place filled with stone towers, then there would be a very intense aerial fight.
On that day was a special match. It wasn’t a platoon match for a selenium mine in the Military Arts Competition between cities. It was a match on a smaller scale. The platoons matches took place a bit later than usual this year. Still, this year, one would see the strength of the new students and the senior students.
The match today took place for new students to understand how it worked. This policy was permitted by the new Student President Samiraya Miruke and the new Head of the Military Arts subject Gorneo Luckens.
There were many new students in the spectator stand as they had the priority seats. Big screens were set up by audience outside the grounds. Besides, one could also view it from his monitor in his own room. Most of the displays showed entertainment programs. Other than those programs, live-feeds of the platoon matches were also very popular.
The platoons in today’s match were the 14th and the 17th platoons.
But the outcome of the match could be seen in about 10 minutes after the match began. And in this high-speed match, the 10 minutes could seem very long.
Under the rule, the match would stop once the captain of the team was down.
Dalshena, under the cover provided by Sharnid, had entered the central fight while Nina was closing in on Shin with her Kei. The one on one fight was about to begin.
“Here she comes,” Shin said, looking at the Dite in his hand. His weapon was an elegant sword, but the blade was bent in the middle. Originally, this was a weapon favorable for adaptable matches. Adding speed to the tip of the blade was its limit. As expected, its level of strength was a problem. If he were to use it against Nina’s metal whips, his weapon would lose on its strength. And knowing that, he had avoided using techniques that meant pitting his strength against hers, but he was stretching it.
“Both of us were of about the same strength till now, but suddenly the distance between us has widened.”
Nina belonged to the 14th platoon before she set up the 17th platoon.
“Well, anyway. I’m glad to see my juniors growing up. That’s the same for people who leave my side.”
“Besides, we’re just the decorations of this show.”
Nina turned around at his words. The match wouldn’t end if they didn’t win against the captain of the opposing team. Shin’s weapon was broken, but he himself still stood with no will of surrendering.
So the match hadn’t ended.
But Nina had stopped moving, and Shin too. Both of their gazes were fixed in the middle of the field where the stone towers stood.
“Haha, is this all right?” Claribel was extremely happy. The Kochouenshiken gave off a bright light, affected by her Kei. Wearing the extra combat clothes from the 14th platoon, she looked like a missionary of the night.
Layfon stood a bit further from her on the top of a stone tower. In his hand was the Sapphire Dite.
Layfon remained silent, confirming the wind coming into contact with his blade. Though feeling the slow, strong wind pressing down on him, he was still observing Claribel.
She looked very happy.
Of course. She came to Zuellni to fight him. It was without a doubt that she was happy about this match.
“You don’t feel like you’re letting down your guard like last time.”
Feeling like he was nailed.
Layfon didn’t give her a bitter smile as he continued to feel the wind on the blade. Claribel smiled at his attitude as she continued to raise the pressure of her Kei. She hadn’t made a move.
The wind howled behind her, raising as her Kei rose.
Claribel used Karen Kei, a type of Kei that used freedom as its principle. Layfon must not focus on his sole attention on her, so that he wouldn’t be surprised if there was a sudden attack from his back.
The wind. But he couldn’t feel the Kei from the wind. And so he could only watch. Was there another way?
The purpose of the Kei flowing from the Kochouenshiken was to confuse him…. He knew it for sure, but this confidence was dangerous for him. He couldn’t be confused by what he saw. He changed his original thinking and stopped reading the wind on his blade.
Claribel stopped smiling. After understanding his action, a deeper smile appeared on her face.
“You really know how to fight.”
These were Layfon’s first words since the match began.
He felt like he was looking at a combination of Claribel’s smile and the Savaris from that time.
Claribel’s grandfather was Tigris, and her military arts master was Troyatte. She should also be acquainted with Savaris, but Layfon didn’t think those two had a deep relationship. He just felt that they were similar.
Perhaps those born of Grendan, wanting to fight, were all like that. But perhaps it might not have anything to do with the location. It could just be a simple smile that wanted a fight.
Probably the latter.
As a pretty girl, this smile appearing on Claribel’s face still made her cute. Conversely, the smile on Savaris’ face made the atmosphere tragic. But in terms of the threatening feeling created by it, Savaris’ was stronger.
Claribel didn’t reply in case of a deceiving act in the fight.
Her outflow of Kei remained steady. The flame proudly wove around the Kochouenshiken. He could read nothing else but that. She wondered what he was planning by stalling for time. She wanted to think deeper but gave up. She just needed to wait for his attack then react. She kept this stance, her tension reaching its limit. She focused on her target.
“Then…… here I go.”
But Layfon reacted before he heard the words. He leaped. Her words were deceit.
He already felt the change when she said “then”. The stone tower beneath him was breaking. If he were to listen to everything and then evade her, that would have been too late for him.
Explosion. The shards of the stone beside Claribel’s feet became Kei and flew. To stop the predictable paths of the Kei bullets from being read, she was spinning in circles as she closed in on him.
When he came within reach, the Kei bullets shot for their target, but Layfon didn’t cut through them with his Sapphire Dite. He also didn’t release his Kei to strike them down……… his foot touched the ground and he jumped, taking advantage of the split second before the Kei bullets exploded to change his direction.
Claribel’s voice came to him in the explosion. It felt different from her position. This was also Karen Kei. He didn’t hesitate, knowing it was a trick. He kept heading in the direction he was feeling.
Yes, rely on his senses.
Layfon shot forward, ignoring the sharp Kei bullets speeding for him, and brushed past the right side of Claribel before a stone tower.
Her expression twisted. At the same time, because of Layfon’s speed, the wind blew apart her figure.
Then came Layfon’s attack. The stone tower behind the illusion was cut into half. The upper part of it slid down, and behind it leaped Claribel.
“You saw through it!” her voice was full of joy.
But Layfon ignored the sound and the figure, kicking at the part of the stone tower that was sliding down and changed his own direction again.
Right underneath him.
“What are you doing…… Ah!”
The rocks released by this action surprised Claribel. Something flew in between her head and body.
A fragment of the stone tower. A fragment that was the size of a fist shot through her and her figure disappeared.
Then was Claribel’s real body standing at where he attacked?
Layfon was heading straight for the ground but he maintained his speed. The Military Artists on the stand moaned, some held their breath as they saw he was about to crash.
But not so.
Just as he was about to crash, his figure vanished. The wind of his downward movement brushed the ground a little, and the dust circling his figure earlier dissipated.
Even Claribel herself was surprised. She saw him disappearing from her hiding place.
Of course, she understood immediately. It was a misjudged movement.
Internal Kei variation – Fleeting Shadow. A Kei technique that made you judge incorrectly for a single moment. Because Layfon’s Kei was too strong, everyone thought he was still there descending.
Then where was he?
He had hidden himself. Claribel was the one ambushing him, but somehow she had lost her target and had become the target herself. She suppressed her feeling and increased her Sakkei as her gaze moved. She didn’t discover where he was hiding himself since he used Sakkei, but he was using Kei again, so he must be hiding somewhere near.
It wasn’t rational to go back in her conclusion. It was just that her body reacted quicker than her thoughts. She jumped out from her hiding place, the Kochouenshiken moving with the movement of her wrist.
The stone tower she was hiding in earlier collapsed in an instant. Sparks flew off the red Kochouenshiken blade as she received numerous cut paths. Layfon was right beside her. The green cut path of the Sapphire Dite brushed past her eyebrow. So very exciting. She was able to react in time because Sakkei allowed her to react faster than normal. Otherwise, she would have lost already.
Was it luck or her own strength? Claribel shivered, standing on this delicate boundary. She eliminated her Sakkei and released all of her Kei.
And Layfon reacted.
Suddenly, the whole field shook as the released Kei clashed.
At this time, Claribel thought fast. Where was Layfon hiding before? She herself was discovered because she was surprised by his technique Fleeting Shadow.
It was a strong illusion, so strong that not only her, but the audience were also deceived. She could tell from the sound coming from the stand. Even the Military Artists watching from afar fell for it. And Layfon had taken advantage of it. It was hard to wrap her mind around this precise skill.
But he maintained that while being able to appear right behind her? Was he luring her out using the technique? And so he found where she was at that split second when her Kei ebbed.
Could that be the case?
(My battle reactions aren’t as sharp as his.)
This was the conclusion.
Karen Kei’s strong point was illusion. Claribel had learned the Kei skill but was still slower than Layfon. Or could it be that she hadn’t had the chance to show off her skill.
But Layfon did it. He had accurately grasped hold of the strengths and weaknesses of his techniques and used them accordingly. And so in order to confuse his opponent, he had used it.
“Then it’s close combat this time,” Claribel declared. No more illusions, but a real attack. She pressed down her body and threw herself into his embrace, swinging Kochouenshiken upward.
Layfon leaned back and evaded it. The Kei running up the blade destroyed its surroundings, and Layfon used his own Kei to reflect it. The two types of Kei clashed and threw off sparks.
The flaming sky turned one’s vision orange, but calm observation could see Layfon backing away as he reacted to her attacks.
They exchanged cut paths, the Kei from their body clashing against each other. The more Layfon’s Kei refused Claribel’s, the more Claribel’s Kei closed in on him. The two fighters’ fight was also like their Kei, the distance between them not shortening as they ran in the field.
The attacking side, Claribel, made an impatient noise. She hadn’t managed to shorten the gap by even one step, and Layfon was backing off while matching her speed, and she was unable to break apart his Kei. Besides, in his right hand……. He was holding his katana naturally. Claribel pressed on more.
In reality she was the attacker, but mentally, she was the one being pursued.
Silently, Layfon focused on evading. He wasn’t holding anything back.
In terms of technique, he felt that hers and his were about the same. Her unyielding spirit was indeed taking a toll on his mentality, but she didn’t notice that because of her growing impatience.
Same as the fight with Haia, Layfon felt that the only difference was in their Kei. Everything else was about the same, including their mentality. Layfon fully knew well his own weaknesses. One shouldn’t involve one’s emotions in a fight. What mattered in a fight was the means, not the purpose. But what made a good fight was to make the fight itself a purpose. Claribel was like that. Though he wasn’t sure if that was her essence, it looked like it at this moment. Claribel came to Zuellni in order to fight him.
Did she like fighting?
She had the same smile on her when he reunited with her in Grendan.
“Why do you look like that?”
Anger burned in her eyes. The red of Kochouenshiken deepened. Using the time when her Kei changed, she pulled open the distance.
“You…… You’re underestimating me!”
External Kei Karen Kei – Red Ripples.
As she shouted, red filled his vision. It wasn’t just enveloping Layfon. The red exploded with Kochouenshiken as its center…………… accurately speaking, red buried the entire stone tower field, then it bounded for Layfon like an unsteady monster heading for its prey.
Not that Claribel’s Kei could do all that instantly. In order to confuse him, she had used the Karen Kei net hiding in the field. She hoped by using this hidden Kei, she could reach his level or even overcome him.
“Can you still keep that expression after this!!” she shouted, her shout transforming into a red beast’s roar, sweeping towards Layfon.
Layfon didn’t back off anymore, anxiety rolling off him. He readied his Sapphire Dite.
Psyharden Technique – Flame Cut.
“I know this technique!” Claribel shouted, a mad howl.
“Can you cut this Kei? Just you? Using that katana?!”
Silence. He kept his pose.
“Can you do that without a Heaven’s Blade?”
He was still silent. He just held tightly to the handle of the blade, transferring the feel of it to his left hand. Karen Kei. Though the heat of the Kei was before him, its speed continued to rise.
He felt the heat in the sole of his boots. It was creeping towards him on the ground. Though its speed was slower, Layfon needed to concentrate to counter what was before him. Any opening on his part would mean receiving an attack.
Besides, he had nowhere to run to.
Pressed down by Claribel’s soundless aura, the red ripples were within his finger’s reach. The Kei he kept holding in shattered, cutting the world into another scene.
The sound coming from inside him.
Karen Kei. It gave off this vibrating sound as its density rose. This pure voice was created from the soul of its creator.
That was the sound of the Kei running on the Sapphire Dite.
As the density rose, so too was the vibrating speed.
The vibration was interfered with as the density rose.
This was the warning sign of the Sapphire Dite, warning that it was possible to reach a world beyond the reach of physics.
That was the wailing of metal.
Layfon opened his eyes after hearing it. His consciousness came back to the fight, reorganizing the pictures into reality.
His face and hair were burnt. Smoke filled his vision. His body was like carbon. This wasn’t a safe fight in an Academy City anymore. He was fighting for his life here.
He held the handle of the blade.
He felt the Kei moving regularly and stubbornly in his right hand. In his left he felt the Kei running in the blade. It was the moaning of a chain suppressing the power from running in a certain direction.
Let it go.
His blade moved.
The blade slid down, its Kei resisting the Kei in his right hand and that released the Kei altogether, creating sparks, creating flame. But this was just the ripples. Everything was in the blade that was about to release its Kei.
To cut what? What could it cut? This wasn’t just dependent on the sharpness of the blade. Layfon also had to think about his target, where and when to release it, and whether the cut path would work.
Facing the heat, facing her discomfort, he painted the cut path.
The flame of the Karen Kei was annihilated, but the flash of blue didn’t disappear. It cut the Karen Kei into two.
But this wasn’t enough. This cut wasn’t enough. The flame remained around her. Her fangs appeared before him once more. Just cutting the flame into two was meaningless.
But Layfon had no way to move. He didn’t release the other two blades. Maintaining his guard and tension, he remained still as he looked for the traces of his blue wound.
The flame that was cut into two swayed, but not just in one direction. Judging from the whole picture, it should be attacking Layfon from all sides.
But that was what he wanted. The scene opposite him before the two flames. It was what he wanted.
He flipped his blade around.
Heaven’s Blade technique – Hazy Garret.
Trying to overcome the limit of physics, the Sapphire Dite wailed. And before the blade was the scene of the cut flame.
The unseen cut paths that were everything didn’t just cut off the flame. They were also cutting off the Kei Claribel had laid out, hidden in the forest of stone towers, as well as the Kei connected to the Kochouenshiken.
The hidden Kei wasn’t released all at once. And this Kei technique wasn’t released like an explosion. One could understand by looking at the changes happening now. A change meant an existence that was being controlled. It wasn’t a phenomenon of a destruction explosion. It was a power that was directed.
Layfon’s invisible cut paths had cut off them, destroying the control of the red waves.
Claribel wailed. A ringing sound from the Kochouenshiken and the blade itself shattered.
The heat controlling the red waves dissipated. The top corners of Hazy Garret cut apart the flame heading for Layfon. The remnants of flame were strong, flinging past the shield of Kei enveloping him.
The Sapphire Dite in his hand had lost its original color and had turned pure black, breaking apart like soil.
The capacity had overcome its limit, and it didn’t even create an explosion that should have happened. Having lost the strength of its substance, it returned to dust.
Feeling empty of the lightness in his left hand, Layfon took a step forward.
The waves that had lost their controller caused the hidden Kei to transform into Karen Kei. This was a natural result of what should have waited to be slowly ignited.
And so came the explosion.
As expected, it expanded.
Layfon ran. He picked up Kochouenshiken and Claribel, who was lying on the ground, and increased his speed.
Psyharden technique – Reflecting Water Ferry.
He moved with extreme speed with Claribel under his arm, escaping from the forest of stone towers.
What followed was the sound of a huge detonation. A whirlwind of heat spiraled to the sky. Flecks of red dotted the blue sky. With his back to the scene, Layfon looked down at Claribel.
“It’s turned into something troublesome.”
Claribel’s cold voice continued after the explosion had died down.
And so the match ended.
“Ah, I’ve really learnt something,” Mifi breathed out the air she swallowed after watching the match.
Right now Mifi was watching the monitor in a restaurant, eating cakes and drinking tea. The rising steam from the porcelain cup was no more. As if having thought of something, she cut the cake with her fork, drank, and turned around.
At the counter was Meishen, who also breathed out and nodded with her hand on her chest.
Pieces of cake were placed in the glass container. From the basics to things Meishen owned, everything was so rich. These things sparkled like gems.
Mifi swiftly changed her gaze to look at her childhood friend, who was also cupping the tea cup that was no longer steaming.
“Is that all right? To really give up?”
Naruki put down the cup and smiled bitterly.
“I don’t have the confidence to be in a fight like that.”
“Ahh, not all fights are like that. Besides, Layfon and that girl are special.”
“Special? That’s true, but……”
“Yeah. I know I don’t yet have the strength to be in a platoon. Besides, I still want to be a policewoman.”
“Even the police force needs strong Military Artists.”
“……… So to speak.”
Naruki’s gaze moved away, and Mifi couldn’t keep on talking about the same topic. She puffed out her cheeks. Anyway, Naruki had replied her, half-heartedly.
No, perhaps not so. She just didn’t know how to explain it well.
Many students from the Military Arts had changed since that day. Not only so. Mifi felt that the atmosphere of the entire Military Arts faculty had changed. Of course Mifi wasn’t the only one to notice this. Her other childhood friend, Meishen, anxiously watching them, must also feel the same.
Something must have happened on that day?
For those ordinary people waiting in the shelter could not comprehend their experience.
It felt lonely and sad.
“But that isn’t so bad,” Mifi said, turning her gaze out the window. The door opened with the soft ring of the bell.
“I’ve finished delivering.”
Meishen replied with a smile.
The person coming in was a female student wearing an apron over her Zuellni uniform. The color of her hair ribbon was the same as last year’s Mifi’s…. meaning she was a first year. And she was also the only part timer in Meishen’s shop.
Students’ lives had also changed along with the passing of an academic year. Just like the change of classrooms and textbooks, people had also changed, and some students had moved to other places to live.
Layfon had taken the chance of being the unlucky one who had to leave his dormitory, along with other people – Nina, Felli, Claribel, Harley and Meishen, to move to an area slightly further away from the center of the Academy City, closer to the cargo district.
Meishen had renovated a part of the first floor of the apartment, opening her own shop to sell cakes. But this building was at the far end of the city. There were no customers. She had signed a contract with another shop so her cakes would be delivered to them. But she had opened a small eating area here, and that had become a resting place for others who lived in the same apartment.
And the part timer was Vati Len, who also lived in the same apartment.
“Even so, you don’t have to choose this place. I think there are other places that are more convenient.”
“I’m not used to living in a crowded place,” Vati calmly answered Mifi’s question. She was a girl without any emotions. No. Mifi could detect some very subtle expression changes. She wasn’t the same as Felli whose expression also remained the same.
To put it accurately, she probably wasn’t good at speaking and laughing. Mifi was at first uncomfortable, wondering if she was really suitable for the job. Either way, even the shop owner, Meishen, also had a social phobia. She managed to sign the contract with the shop that she worked part time at last year, so basically she hadn’t opened up any new market. Even so, Vati the part timer who delivered cakes was the face of the shop.
“You’re a beauty. What a waste.”
“Is that so?”
Vati cocked her head, not understanding.
Anyway, Mifi hadn’t heard of any complaints from Meishen, so perhaps it was all right.
“It seems smooth.”
“Ok. Let’s go buy something for the celebrating and regretful parties.”
“Ah, I’ve almost forgotten.”
Naruki clapped her hands. Mifi had also remembered why she was here. It was natural for the 17th platoon to be here, and Claribel from the 14th platoon also lived here. Claribel had a good relationship with Meishen and the gang. Regardless of which side lost the match, they had decided to prepare a party for them.
There was no cake on Naruki’s plate. The cup was also empty. Mifi finished her cake in a hurry and drained her cup.
“Then Vati-san, please look after the shop.”
“Yes, I understand. And manager, please just call me Vati.”
“Ah, yes. I’m sorry.”
“It’s all right.”
“Uh, then I’m counting on you, Vati.”
Meishen took off her apron and leave with her friends, leaving behind Vati Len Nano-Celluloid Interface 1 Lævateinn.
On the other side of the huge glass window, the three girls were heading for the tram station. According to their speed, they would arrive in 12 minutes and 13 seconds. There was no anticipated danger. The tram arrived at exactly the right time, and it would take it 5 minutes and 7 seconds to arrive at the shops. Based on her experience, it would take them another one hour to the location where they could resupply, which just matched the timetable of the tram. She speculated that they would return after 2 hours, 5 minutes and 5 seconds.
She had finished all the deliveries today. There was a 12% possibility of having new customers other than the residents living in this apartment. The students working in the cargo district hadn’t dropped by much since the opening of the shop, and those few familiar customers didn’t come everyday.
Vati washed the utensils the girls had used and started cleaning the shop. She would use this time to calculate the day’s income and expenses. The original plan was that the cakes delivered to the shop would be the basic income, and so unless the shop suddenly cancelled the contract or that there was some problem with food storage, the number wouldn’t go to red. The income was enough to cover the rent, electricity and gas fees, as well as other assorted expenses.
Not having to work in a rush and not having to worry because of work to be able to obtain such a result felt very fulfilling.
“Meishen Trinden,” Vati said.
Vati cleaned thoroughly, so thoroughly that there was no single flaw in the shop. It took her about 30 minutes to finish and so she had time to wait. She stood behind the counter, considering about that 12% of possibility and waited for her customers.
This was undoubtedly a waste of time, but Vati didn’t feel painful. She just waited quietly for the passage of time.
This was a feeling she hadn’t had before.
It was a feeling Vati didn’t have in her world. To explain further, she had had it before, but she couldn’t feel it at the time after that, but because she had lost it once, she could feel it now.
Could she, such an existence, feel this? Not that Vati hadn’t doubted, but she couldn’t deny it in reality.
Speaking of which, what did it feel like for time to pass? Was she feeling this because she was acting upon the schedule she made? Or that a dimension with substance to it could feel the passage of time? Looking at it from another possible angle, the explanation of course belonged to the former.
On that side, time did not exist. If that was taken into account, quantifying time could not occur. Because of that physical gap between the two worlds, Durindana was created to guard that space, and Lævateinn existed to infiltrate the system, all of which was occurring in the timeless world. Perception of time in that world was merely a self-contained construct.
However in the world now, time is flowing. Just about everything is changing. Within the mechanism of that change, Lævateinn was to become Vati Len.
No, something, only one thing felt the flow of time.
For that reason, Lævateinn became Vati Len.
“She should be able to let me see it?”
The unfinished dialogue flowed from her mouth after a long while. Vati’s gaze turned upward.
She could see from the window that Meishen and the girls were coming back with bags under their arms.