Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume16 Chapter2

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Chapter 2: Truth and Reality[edit]

Though he was used to it, Layfon still felt tense at the temperature that arose from what he saw.

This was Harley's alchemy lab.

Harley had also moved like Layfon after the changing of the year. He had been diligently furnishing the lab, but it seemed to be unfinished. Harley had been using the limited waste he had for now to make all sorts of convenient things.

Not that he had been kicked out of his old lab. Though the year had changed, the people in charge of the lab hadn't, and the two alchemy students before Layfon were looking at the broken Sapphire Dite.

Either way, only the handle was left.

“But this is the first time it's been damaged like this.”

Harley's words weren't so tense as he was used to seeing the Sapphire Dite being damaged. But he was still speechless at the time just after the match when he first saw the extent of the damage.

“According to theory, it is a rare occurrence for a Dite to overload and explode, but that's become something normal recently. But this time really is the first.”

“Ha......” Layfon wasn't sure what to say.

“I feel that the substance of this Dite must have deteriorated in one split second. Truly, it can't stand your maximum amount of Kei, as well as if you're to release your Kei suddenly. But to be damaged to this extent......”

“............ Just what kind of Kei were you using?”

Kirik, who had been silent for some time, said. To Layfon, the discontented eyes of Kirik were causing the temperature of the room to rise.

CSR vol16 043.png

Layfon found Harley impressive, as he was able to ignore that gaze.

“Uh?”

“Your use of Kei. Has it changed? If not, the Dite shouldn't have been damaged like this.”

“Uh, yes. Well......”

How should he explain it?


She thought he was training on the street. He was training, but it wasn't platoon training. It was individual. But it was a bit different from that of a normal Military Artist. He would maintain his level of physical movement in platoon training. When he was training alone, he trained his Kei.

Back then, Nina had collapsed because of over-exhausting her Kei vein. Layfon had suggested that they should rest their Kei. Meanwhile, they trained to maximize their amount of Sakkei and increase the capacity of their Kei vein. This made up the basics of Kei training.

Most of the Military Artists trained their physical movements and Kei at the same time. This was normal.

One time, he suggested to include his type of training in the platoon training, but both Nina and Sharnid and the others didn't give it a very good evaluation. They concluded it didn't feel like the normal training they usually had.

“How should I say it. Once I poured as much Kei as I could into it, the Dite exploded. So I must let the Kei run as I pour it in......”

It was different from that training. Layfon......

Had lost his Heaven's Blade. He had naturally thought of that problem even when he was not a Military Artist in Zuellni. This problem couldn't just be solved by technicians like Harley. One must also consider how to solve it through the Military Artist himself. How a Military Artist's Kei was poured through the entire Dite would create different level of damages. It was the job of directing the insubstantial Kei through the Dite.

A normal Military Artist would do this type of training – pouring Kei through the Dite to learn to control the Kei. But Layfon couldn't pour all of his Kei in because of his different amount of Kei.

“What does that mean?” Harley showed a confused expression. Kirik was also frowning.

“So it wouldn't explode if you save the Kei in the Dite? So first let the Kei in the Dite out, wait a bit, then pour more in......”

“......Kirik, do you get him?”

“Like the use of hidden Kei in Karen Kei?”

“Yes yes, just like that.”

Hidden Kei was like a firework that could explode at any time once it touched fire. But the Kei that came out of it couldn't be changed. What Layfon said was similar but there was something different.

“But this is Sapphire, not like Ruby...... According to the way you did it, you were accumulating, piling up the ‘explosion' till it exploded, weren't you?”

“Well...... Yeah.”

“......How reckless.”

“Hahaha.”

Kirik was shocked. Even Layfon couldn't laugh about it.

“............I can't quite understand it in depth, but that's probably how Kei runs through the Dite.”

“Yeah.”

Kirik nodded.

“But that can't really explain this level of damage. Uh, but there aren't many similar examples previously. Ah, but that isn't the problem right now. Till now, the problem is to strengthen the raw materials, meaning we have to do more strengthening this time.”

“I'm sorry.”

“No, besides, it's easier to do it that way. It must be. I think.”

Harley said weakly, but he didn't look pessimistic. He was becoming more positive.

“Uh, Layfon, you still have to come for experiments. Is that OK?”

“Yes. Please look after me.”

“Then, we'll put the Sapphire Dite here for now. Is it fine to only use the Shim Adamantium Dite for now? I'll give you the Steel Threads when you need it.”

“Ok.”

Layfon answered clearly and left the lab.

“......”

Kirik shook his head.

“What is it?”

“No......that guy, he's changed?”

“He seems to have thought through something recently.”

“Thought through.”

Kirik thought about it. Layfon had shown them he was moving forward from the time when he started holding the katana. Though Layfon had had a happy and carefree appearance, Kirik had looked at him coldly. A normal person would just have been trapped inside the problem. In fact, Layfon had tripped over it. Under the usual attack of filth monsters, the nearness of Grendan, and the continuous unusual changes, Layfon's spirit had been trapped deeply.

In reality, Kirik had not seen the Layfon then. Kirik was an alchemy student and he had lots of things to do. Many Military Artists' Dites had broken because of that chaos. And so repairing Dites wasn't just the usual normal job of repairing a Dite. In the Academy City, everyone was doing all he could to help rebuild the city.

“Isn't that good?”

“True.”

But that time had passed. They had finished rebuilding the city. They had peacefully enrolled the new students and the new year had begun. And so Kirik could also continue his studies. At the same time, a new issue had appeared. It was worth doing.

“That guy could think of such a way once he's in the mind for it. But he doesn't seem to have completed it yet. It must have come from the accumulated training and thinking he did before. If that's not the case, then he's not a genius, he's a monster.”

“Well, yeah, that's possible.”

“But what causes him to be like he is now is something else.”

Yes. This time Layfon wasn't getting carried away. Had he calmed down after being beaten down? Or had he seen something else? The Katana that was barred from him was now unsealed. Kirik didn't know what he had gone through. Perhaps he now felt thankful for the burden that was lifted off him. Perhaps he had rebounded from the springboard.

But this time was different. It was surely different. He didn't look as excited as that time.

“...... Either way.”

Harley was already thinking about the electrical paths inside the Dite.

“The amusingly energetic guy really disgusts me,” Kirik said.

“You just said something awful.”

Kirik ignored him and concentrated on the problem before him. Personality had nothing to do with him. As long as the personality wasn't bad, there was nothing else to consider. He was happy that what he created had been wielded by the best person and that it had made the best result. And not only that, but he was stepping up the level. Was the thing surpassing the person or the person surpassing the thing? Right now, the person was winning. And one day, Kirik would surpass that.

Recently, he had really been having that kind of feeling.



“Ah.”

“Ah.”

He met Felli on the way back to the Training Complex.

“What's it?”

“Uh? No. Nothing much.”

Felli couldn't help but glare at him angrily, looking at his excited expression.

“Really?”

So suspicious.

Though he was confused, he somehow understood why she was angry.

He was wearing the Military Arts uniform.

Felli had told him that she was going to drop out of Military Arts when the new year began. At that time she sounded really serious. She wasn't lying. But now that she was in her third year she was still wearing the Military Arts uniform.

And she was still in the 17th platoon.

The Student Council hadn't interfered, but......

“Speaking of which, how is that going?” Layfon asked as they walked back to the Training Complex together.

“A strong opponent that makes me really angry.”

Felli's mind was full of Delbone's inheritance. It was sealed and so if Felli didn't unseal it, she would never know what was inside. And so she had given up changing to General Studies.

“And what has become of the Dite?”

“Well......” He told her what had happened.

“Anyway, they've to make a new one first.”

“Yeah.”

“So you still can't use your full strength, but in terms of capacity, you're handling the Dite better.”

“But...... can that really work?”

“And why do you think it can't work?”

Layfon couldn't quite answer her.


“But I'm sure it's working out,” Felli had said on that night.

“Uh?”

“If it had ended that way, there's no reason for abandoning you.”

“............”

As if she was digging at his wound. And she didn't stop.

“I'm sure it's not done yet.”

“............The captain......?”

Did she know? And she wasn't saying anything?

Nina had said in Grendan that it had something to do with her. She had suddenly vanished from Zuellni and then suddenly appeared. This was also connected to the mystery. And there was also Dixerio Maskane, the person opposing the Wolf Faces. The hope that the Electronic Fairies yearned for. The mystery that created this world and the royal families of Grendan. Even Nina herself couldn't understand so many things.

And in reality what was her connection with the Wolf Faces? Even Layfon and the others became involved in that fight, and Nina had felt terrified about it. Could she think of this world as another dimension? If that was the case, then during that fight at Grendan and Zuellni, every Military Artist in both cities had become involved in the fight between Nina and the Wolf Faces.

But things hadn't become as bad yet.

Nina hadn't said anything about it from that day on. She hadn't disappeared once again like the time when the filth monsters attacked Zuellni. What Layfon wanted when he entered the Academy, the peaceful days, had come.

Layfon felt from deep inside his heart that these peaceful days couldn't continue forever.

“I don't know.”

Felli shook her head.

“Even if she knows something, she wouldn't tell us.”

“......Yes.”

Nina was like that. When something happened, she wouldn't tell them immediately. Instead, she thought about it herself then tried to solve it herself.

“In that case............”

It wasn't possible to ask her when they had no evidence, asking her to open her heart to them.

“What should we do?” Felli cut through his haze and brought him back to the decision.

“Uh?”

“She's keeping her silence, so we can think Zuellni's is safe for now. And so about that vent and the fight, the central problem is still Grendan, not here.”

“......”

“It's safe here. If so, we don't have to do anything special.”

He knew even though she hadn't said it. This had something to do with Nina.

According to Felli, Leerin abandoned Layfon in order to not get him involved.

And that also proved that Zuellni was safe.

What Felli was asking was – is this OK?

“............Certainly, it's not good.”

He had no confidence in the words he forced out of his mouth.

“In here. It must...... not be good.”

But he couldn't say anything more after that.

He didn't know what to do. Should he return to Grendan? And what if Leerin rejected him again? The Queen was beside her. And why was she saying she was of the royal family? If so, next time, all of the Heaven's Blade successors might become his enemies. That must be it. And what was he to do then? Fight with all his strength? Or not through violence, but using other ways to convey his feelings? And what if he was still rejected?

If he had gone without thinking about this, then nothing was solved. But he had no other ideas.

Wasn't there something he could do?

Leerin judged he could do nothing, and that was why she rejected him. This was the conclusion Layfon came to after some consideration. He had always thought he was an excellent Military Artist.

But whether it was Nina or Leerin. None of them had relied on him.

Didn't that mean he could do nothing?

“I think this can help.”

Felli said. She lifted her face to look at him and pointed at her head.

“The inheritance from Delbone is data. It may be battle experience or......”

“Memories?”

True. Delbone already had in her hand the battle data of all of Grendan when Layfon was still in that city. It was more appropriate to say she had been watching over the entire Grendan. The Queen also trusted her. Perhaps she might have held secrets to Grendan that no one else knew.

“Perhaps. But the seal is still intact, so this speculation isn't certain yet.”

Layfon didn't reply.

“But that's all we have now. Is there anything else?”

“......No.”

“Then this is all I can rely on,” she said and looked at him.

“Excuse......?”

“What should I do?”

“Uh?”

“According to my prediction, I need to use all of my strength to unseal the data. I can abandon Military Arts and transfer to General Studies, then find my future while trying to unseal this. I can graduate with this kind of vague attitude, but that will take a long time.”

“No way......”

“Decide.”

“Uh?”

“You decide.”

“Why, why me......”

He was completely overwhelmed under her crystal clear gaze.

“To tell the truth, if the captain is hiding something next time, I won't care what happens to her next.”

In Layfon's sister's home at Grendan, Nina had persuaded Felli and Sharnid. At that time, both Felli and Sharnid appeared calm, but in reality they were really angry. That was Layfon's conclusion. At that time Layfon wasn't calm at all as he hadn't had time to think about the thing happening between him and Leerin.

“Personally I'm curious about Grendan, but no one has asked for my help and so I'm not all that motivated. No one would say that is my own problem. I think so too. If I don't want to get involved, I can just ignore this.”

“.........”

“What about you?”

She threw the question at him.

“What will you do? You have a deeper connection to this problem than me. Only you have the motivation to make a move. If the captain rejects us, I can only help you. So what do you think?”

“I........”

He didn't know. But he knew this wouldn't cut it. To leave the issue because he didn't know anything would mean he was unable to move forward. He had experienced this already and so he didn't want to be like this again. Even though he didn't know anything, he must do something. Whether it looked silly, whether it was a failure.

He must find out.

A voice from deep inside his heart said – I want to do it.

“I........ want to know.”


He had said it. At that time, on that night, at that place.

And so Felli was still wearing the Military Arts uniform.

“What is it? You're suddenly silent.”

“Ah, no. I'm thinking...... it's still not good for senpai......” Layfon replied as he repeated thought of what happened that night.

“Ah?”

Felli stopped moving.

“What do you mean?”

“Ah, well........ a setback to your future just because of me.......”

“...........”

“Excuse me.”

Felli sighed softly.

“What's wrong........ Is there a problem with your head?” she asked.

“Uh?”

“Uh, like when you got hit during training.”

“Ah? No. I'm fine. The diagnosis I took at the clinic says so......”

“No, that's not it. If your head is hit you wouldn't be able to process information at high speed. Didn't the move you used earlier exhibit such speed? Water Mirror right?”

“Yes, that's that kind of a move.”

“That's why you've some problem with your brain. Normally a Military Artist's brain is more muscular than an average person's, but it shouldn't be able to sustain such a speed. The blood is suppressed on the back of the brain. Many of your brain cells should have died.”

“If that happened, I should be here. I'm not sure what's happening.”

“That's because you're usually using only one layer of the brain..... meaning if you're awaken, then you can do anything. So please be more diligent at awakening yourself. Please do it fast. Immediately. Now.”

“I'm sorry. Forgive me.”

He wasn't sure what was happening, but it was a fact that she was angry.

Felli sighed again.

“Then bend down.”

“Uh?”

“Hurry.”

“Yes.”

“More, and move ahead a bit.”

“Is this ok?”

“Uh, then don't move.”

He was standing, bending his back with his hands on the ground. There was no one else around them, but he didn't want to be like this for a long period of time.

It was really embarrassing.

“What are.......”

“Don't talk.”

He couldn't see her, but he knew from the flow of the air and the sound. Felli's hand went to his waist and took something. The Dite?

CSR vol16 065.png

“.............”

A soft voice. Did she restore it?

The shadow on the ground expanded. Something shining brightly just above his head. She really did restore the Dite.......

Tang.

A heavy blow to the back of his head. Stars flew in his vision.

“Um, ah......”

He couldn't speak. Pain conquered the back of his head. He rolled on the ground at the pain. This was way more than the usual kick she did to him. Intense pain ran in his head.

“What, what were you.......?”

He said but had already rolled three circles on the ground.

“...... How can you be so stupid.”

She regarded with him an icy gaze.

“I'm too stupid. Sorry.”

He used internal Kei to reduce the pain in the back of his head as he looked at him.

“Your apology still can't make me feel better. I move according to your decision. What about you? Do you feel that my judgment is wrong?”

“Um..........”

“Don't make me repeat this again. You're so annoying.”

“So, sorry.”

“Anyway, I'll try to unseal that data quickly. So please do the best of what you can do for now.”

He still had to wait for Harley to finish the Dite though. Meanwhile, he wanted to complete the move he used in the fight with Claribel. Speaking of which, if the quality of the Dite could increase, then that should complete his move........ probably.

“If the captain can tell us something this time, then everything will be simpler.”

“Yes, yes.”

Felli seemed to feel better and so they continued on to the Training Complex.



She had been careless. The area of her stomach felt heavy.

“Um........”

Exhaustion came with hunger. Nina sighed deeply. It was good that no one else was around. Only she was inside the special room of the 17th platoon in the Training Complex. The platoon training was finished. Everyone else had gone home.

She couldn't know what was happening outside. Perhaps the sun was already setting. The Training Complex was about to close. If she hadn't applied for the room, the security staff would ask her to leave.

And what now? She didn't have work tonight at the Mechanical Department. She could still train on her own. Should she go to the suburb of the Engineering Faulty where her old dormitory was to train? Or head back to the vicinity of her new home? She had found a spacious area near it that was suitable for training.

Today she had no choice to head back yet.

She had to train and had to become stronger. This thought was much more intense than in the past. She urged herself day by day. To be stronger. To become stronger.

This was no longer the naïve dream of a girl who was born a Military Artist. This wasn't also the burning mission of a Military Artist. To put it more accurately, this was the horror of someone being chased.

Slight sweat in her palm as she held the Metal Whips. She couldn't tell if this was from her training or from the sense of horror.

If she didn't become stronger......... stronger, stronger.........

As her brain kept swirling, her movement stopped.

In reality she was standing in the middle of training room, dazed and lost, holding the two Metal Whips that reached the floor.

No Kei was running. No burning morals. The overwhelmed air weaved around her as she thought deeper and deeper.

Dohdoh.

Someone was knocking on the door.

It was Claribel. Just like Nina, she showed an exhausted and bitter smile.

“You really are still here. Want to get a cup of tea with me?”

“Ah, good......”

Nina headed for Claribel and realized she was still holding the Metal Whips.

“..........If I asked you what you worries are now, I would really be ignoring the ways of the world.”

After that, they had tidied up the room of Dites and assorted things, then had gone to take a shower. If Claribel hadn't come to help, Nina would have taken more time tidying things up. After the shower came the closing time, and so the two of them were kicked out of the Training Complex.

They were at the resting area somewhere near the Training Complex, beside the vending machines. Military Artists gathered here most of the time. The vending machines sold both drinks and fast food.

But the two of them only chose some sports drinks and went to sit down on a long bench.

The sun was slowly setting. Crimson mixed with darkness, painting an error scene.

“Just what is it?” Claribel said softly. Nina wasn't surprised, because she was the same. Both of them had noticed the existence of that thing, and horror had infected them.

Claribel was part the royal families. She was the closest to the mysteries of this world. She had fought the Wolf Faces and had experienced something even more otherworldly than Nina.

That existence showed that the nightmarish battle in Grendan had ended as a loss.

“But what are they planning?”

That was Claribel's question. Nina couldn't reply. She wasn't comfortable with the cold sports drink. She should have chosen the hot drink and so began eyeing the vending machine.

They must defeat the person named Vati Len, the one who indifferently infiltrated Zuellni as a General Studies student.

“That is the same as the monster that attacked Grendan.....”

“Yes. They smell the same. Don't understand?”

“........”

She didn't reply. Not because she didn't understand, and not because she didn't want to admit it. Because she couldn't quite explain it. She felt that they were the same, but there was no evidence to explain why it was here.

But she felt that they were the same.

And the Haikizoku Melnisc inside her called that person – Lævateinn.

“Lævateinn,” Claribel said. Nina had talked about it with her on that night. On that night when she ran into the flustered Claribel. The two of them had talked and forgotten the time. They were shocked.

“If we were in Grendan there should be a way to investigate her. But in here we don't know anything. Can you move between cities through En?”

“No. And I don't know how.”

She only did it once. But that wasn't because of her will. It happened during the Haikizoku incident. She was moved to another Academy City to fight the Wolf Faces. She wasn't sure how to return.

“And even if we can do it we must borrow the Electronic Fairies' power right? Then perhaps it isn't possible right now.”

“We've become the enemy of the entire world. Can we do nothing......”

After meeting Vati, they had talked with Zuellni and Schneibel.

Zuellni didn't want to say anything, and for that Schneibel was furious, and announced that the Academy City Zuellni had become the enemy of the entire world.

She had said everything.

Nina had said it all, and she hadn't even told her platoon members about it.

Because Claribel's experience was like hers, and was on the same battlefield. With the blood of the royal family, Claribel understood that the world was moving and knew about the fight with the Wolf Faces, and instinctively felt their threat.

And so Nina had told her.

Anyway, Vati was a threat. If she tried something with Vati, the entire city would be destroyed. But things would have been easy if her strength was about the same as that monster that appeared in Grendan, or even surpassed it.

“........In reality, if I won against Layfon in that last fight, I was thinking of telling him everything.”

“?!”

Nina looked at her in surprise at the unexpected confession.

“Though his Dite is a problem, but I didn't anticipate his thinking. But now I can see it, so if I win on this basis, doesn't that mean I'll have grown? So with his help and that fight, I'll be growing more?”

“Uh..........”

“........... To take it a step more, winning or losing matters not. In fact, we need his help. Till now, he's the strongest in this city.”

“But.........”

If Vati found out about it.

“Yes, I understand. In Grendan all of the Heaven's Blades would fight, including the honored Queen......... I really feel that we won just by a margin. There's no meaning to add Layfon in there. Besides, that person isn't good at lying. To live close to someone like that, it's impossible to live pretending we know nothing.”

Even Nina was the same.

She felt tense and suppressed every time she returned to the residence. What came was deep regret – how could she have neglected her friends? But Layfon was living there. And like the flow of the air, Felli, Harley, Claribel, Layfon's friends moved in one by one. Since this was the case, Nina couldn't just run away by herself. If anything happened, she must do her best to protect them.

“I must become stronger.”

“Yes, become stronger.”

And so that was their conclusion.

But she still felt painful. Despair assaulted her and she shivered every time she thought of Vati.

Despair.

Yes. There was no other feeling. In Grendan, the monster was big enough to cover the entire city. Nina felt scared before this extraordinary monster, but she didn't plan to escape. Still, when she stood in front of Vati, she could only feel despair.

Vati looked just like a girl, but she was much scarier than that monster in Grendan. Nina knew she couldn't win. Only Claribel could fight with that level of terror.

Nina might have thought of some excuses if Claribel wasn't here.

“What can I do? I can accompany you if we're training.”

“Well........ can you just be with me?”

“Sure. It's my pleasure.”

Then the two of them ran to the engineering area and started training.

They fought a few rounds and took a break. Nina's thoughts flowed to the old dormitory she lived in before.

No one was living there now. Leu had become the Vice President, and the dormitory head had become the Head of the Alchemy Department and so had left the dormitory because of her busy schedule. Nina and Claribel, who used to live there temporarily, had moved out with the others. Now no one lived there. It seemed the old dormitory head hadn't released the contract yet because she still had luggage there. But she wasn't living there, so the place must still be empty.

Many changes had appeared, and that was the same for the old dormitory, as well as for Naruki, who had left the 17th platoon. As a senpai, Nina was grateful for having done all she could to help Naruki grow, and so she didn't want to stop her from realizing her goal.

The world was in crisis. They couldn't just leave it. They must use everything they could.......... That thought had flowed through her, but she mustn't let it tie her down.

This was the Academy City.

People came here to chase their dream.

This was the Academy City. The Electronic Fairy Zuellni protected the students who came for their dreams. Nina liked that Zuellni.

And that was why she wanted to protect Naruki.

But what was Zuellni thinking now? She had no idea. Zuellni had used her power for Nina's Dite, but she had also accepted the enemy – Vati.

The people of this world survived through the city's movements that evaded filth monsters. No, making the filth monsters avoid the people. Seasons changed along with the changing route of a city. A city survived by relying on the selenium mines.

Humans survived according to the environment brought by the city.

And still the Academy City hadn't changed.

Humans couldn't resist the decision of the Electronic Fairies, the will of Regios. Electronic Fairies and Regios weren't made by the current humans, and so no one had been able to replicate and control them successfully.

Regios moved around to avoid having disaster befall the people. At the same time, people couldn't escape from the situation brought by the cities.

Zuellni, Electronic Fairy, what kind of a situation was she bringing to the Academy City?

“Time to head back?”

The night was nigh. Though it wasn't a cold season, their breath was white.

“Yes.”

Nina nodded.

“Ah – I didn't write anything down, but Layfon would have left dinner for us.”

They ate dinner together in the residence. “Because they all knew each other”. Layfon and Meishen were the main cooks. They had placed a notice board above the mail boxes, so they would cook according to the number of people written on it.

“I didn't write anything either. I'd be very thankful if he did leave something.”

“Yeah. I have no strength to make dinner. I don't have the strength to go back, have a shower and come back out.”

“.......... Then, shall we eat and then return?”

“Uh. I do anticipate Layfon's meal though.......”

“Can we trust him?”

She stood up.

Perhaps Felli, Harley and Layfon were still there if they returned now. Though it wasn't that they had just moved in, but they didn't seem to plan to put too many things in the house. Nina would breathe a sigh of relief as long as she saw them there.

(That's a big help.)

She would feel that her heart was saved as long as they were there. But if they knew what she was thinking.... Perhaps everything would then end.

“I wonder what's for dinner?”

“Let me make this clear, whether there's dinner is a question.”

“True.”

They smiled bitterly with a hand on their stomach and walked in the night of the Academy City.

(Even if that's the case.)

“Ahah, but I still wanted to win that last fight.”

“Isn't it good to have a bigger goal?”

(If I can protect everything, then that's fine too.)



“.................”

In the silent room, Vati sat alone on the sofa. Having considered that she might have visitors, she had furnished the room with the basic level of furniture needed. But it didn't seem those things had been used, and so the air of emptiness that was present in Layfon's room was also here. Vati was an existence different from humans, and so all she had here were really extremely basic. There was not even a tiny bit that suggested a person living here.

Right now, she was monitoring the two people who probably knew of her true identity.

Nina Antalk and Claribel Ronsmier.

After listening to their conversation and confirming that there wasn't anything she needed to take note of, she moved her concentration away from them.

What made up Vati's body were groups of mechanisms called nano-cells. Not only had they made up her body, they were even now collecting information in the Academy City and its vicinity.

Vati wasn't just keeping track of Nina and Claribel, but everyone else. And she was watching their interactions.

She watched the laughter in the prosperous streets, the conflict in the playground, the sadness in the park. She noticed the smile on the single bed, the uneasy shivering, the expression of one with his hands balled into fists. She took note of the interweaving emotions of millions of people, the feelings that came from their interaction, the expressions of people brushing shoulders.

She was watching the people here.

Only two of them realized Vati's true identity, and also the Electronic Fairies who sustained the human population. But that wasn't a big problem. The Electronic Fairy inside Nina also judged that a chance of winning against her was very low, so it hadn't made a move. Besides, there was also one person of interest – Claribel Ronsmier. Compared to the ancestors who had had their bodies altered for fights, she was a closer existence than them. That may have explained why Claribel realized Vati was something different, because her ancestors had a connection with Vati.

“..............”

She looked at the sky. Her gaze wasn't directed at the window as the curtain there had blocked out the outside scenery.

Her gaze was the gaze of the nanomachines outside her residence.

The sky that shone with the light of the moon.

Vati was looking at the moon.

“Airen.”

It was the name of the moon. He was the ancestor of this world, and the final fortress that defended it.

“Airen Garfield.”

She was calling his name. When the strange changes happened in the original world, the changes gave rise to the Zero Territory. Airen's sister was swallowed, and so he had joined the plan like an experimental animal. And that man had discovered that existence, the Saya who bore a striking resemblance to his sister.

Because that man was the lucky survivor, his reality of being human was ended.

Vati was born after that incident, but her creator had a deep connection to Airen. And that connection was related to the appearance of Vati in human form.

So.........

“....................”

Not thinking of the past anymore, she observed the moon again. She couldn't tell from here of any changes on the moon. But in reality, the moon was in disarray.

After Durindana had descended to Grendan, Vati had taken the opportunity to move in. The seal placed on the moon, giving the moon its role, had already come apart. Nay, it wouldn't have been an exaggeration to say it crumbled. Because it couldn't abandon its host, Kalivan had stayed on that side.

After that, this world was being destroyed, and things that vanished from this side ended up in the old world. If that were only the case, disruption wouldn't be a bad recourse either.

But.........

“................”

Vati didn't do that. She had put down her mission as Nano-Celluloid Interface 1 Lævateinn, and was instead living in the Academy City Zuellni as a student. If she was asked why, she would reply with silence or with “sometimes I want to know too” as a response.

Apart from that she would make no reply. She didn't think Kalivan and Durindana would understand even if she told them the reason.

Those who sustained their master Ignasis and were multiplying - the souls who should have dissolved in this world but were being active in the Zero Territory......... Of course these Wolf Faces wouldn't understand her either.

That was why she had to eliminate the Wolf Faces. Their mission had ended. They weren't needed anymore. Besides, since they didn't understand Vati's purpose, they might bring her trouble.

“What you understand, I don't,” she said to the moon.

The first time Vati saw him was when he was the bodyguard of that violent organization. He was carrying out his investigation in the guise of a bodyguard. He infiltrated the Zero Territory and became a different human being, and he was the enemy of the organization that Vati's master belonged to. A strange human being........ to Vati, who was made to counter him, Airen shouldn't have been difficult opponent.

But he had made the first move. And so Vati was in a desperate situation. It was ridiculous that she needed help.

That connection she had with him stayed with her until the old world collapsed.

And that connection was still here, even now.

“You've made me doubt. If the world you protect can't show me the answer, then I won't acknowledge you.”

She was talking to the moon. Of course, there wouldn't be an answer. And Vati's words couldn't be able to reach the moon.

The words of the moon shouldn't be able to reach her either. Vati couldn't return to that world until she destroyed this world.

“................”

She knew there wouldn't be a response even if she spoke, but she still did so. She quickly checked her body. There was nothing unusual.

But she didn't know why she said those words out loud, and she didn't know why the moon might confirm her thinking.

She hadn't spoken aloud for a long time before she came to the Academy City. Was she naturally wanting to experience it again? She made such a choice but she wanted to lean on the reason behind it. This was incomprehensible.

Her ability to simulate a real human being was rising continuously. She concluded and moved her gaze.

On the counter was a cake inside a wrapped container.

Meishen's cake. She was making one to two new cakes every week as a challenge. If she made a cake, she would share it with everyone living here. Almost all of the people here ate in Layfon's or Meishen's room. Even though Vati was invited, she declined the offer.

It would be troublesome if she ended up breaking that delicate balance between her and Nina and Claribel. She wouldn't meet with them unless she really had to.

It would be inconvenient to explain herself when there were too many people around.

And so Meishen had brought Vati's share over here.

Vati looked at the cake.

It seemed the cake was covered with cream, and it was decorated with fruit, like a traditional cake. Vati stood up with the sofa and took up the fork. She started eating the cake at the counter.

There was no need for dinner. Her energy came from the aurora atoms that were suffused with the pollutants. The nanomachines spreading outside the city provided her with energy. But she could simulate eating. It would be a waste if she didn't eat it. Sometimes she wanted to just throw it away, but considering that she might be found out, and that her relationship with Meishen might worsen because of it, she decided to eat the cake.

The fork delivered the cake to her mouth. The cake hiding inside the cream had in it different types of fruit. It was the usual way to make a cake, but the choice of fruit and their combination was different. Vati analyzed the ingredients in the cake that was in her mouth. What was that ingredient that she almost missed? In fact, if she reported to Meishen that there were no herbs in it, Meishen would have been very surprised.

But there was a question that Vati couldn't answer.

“Is it good?”

The question that she was given after finishing the cake made her speechless. She swallowed “I can't answer it” and pretended the cake was delicious.

In fact, she couldn't say “I can't answer it”. That was why she had been analyzing the ingredients of the cake and trying to discern that elusive taste. She didn't want to act differently from a normal part timer and have to look for another job.

Vati judged that she had no time to observe other targets, so she would observe Meishen Trinden.

“.............”

Silently eating the cake. Finishing the analysis. If she had all the ingredients, she should be able to make the cake herself.

“Is it good?”

But looking at Meishen's smiling face as she asked the question, Vati couldn't give voice to her true feelings.



Whoa, she thought.

She was in the school in Grendan. After returning from Zuellni, Leerin had taken up her studies again and was now strolling in the courtyard.

In this place were special departments for education and senior researchers, so the land was spacious. There were lawns, benches and a small-scale sports ground here. There was also a library and other indoor facilities, so the students didn't have to worry about having nothing to do.

It was lunch. Leerin detached herself from the crowd of students rushing to the canteen, and came to the courtyard. There was nothing in her hands. It was lunchtime, but she was relaxing here. This wasn't like her, and so she was exposed.

The "whoa" was for that reason.

“What are you doing?”

Before she heard the question, she saw the two figures crouching on the lawn.

“Ah”

Of the two, one wore an awkward expression after looking in her direction. With a figure of a dead branch, she was a woman who exuded an inexplicable intensity.

“Rever, hey Rever.”

The girl seemed to be in a fluster as she called out at the person who had his back to Leerin.

The person being called was just the opposite of that girl. He was shorter and fat. With the back bent as he looked at the ground, he looked as cute as a huge animal.

“Keep going! Keep going!” he said in a small voice, ignoring her call.

Leerin heard him and looked down.

There seemed to be something. She looked closer and saw a piece of food debris on the grass. He must have dropped it. And surrounding that food debris was.....

“Ants?”

Leerin said. The taller girl standing beside her had a difficult expression on her face, which was quite rare to see. To Leerin, this girl could have everything she wanted whenever she wanted, and so to have that expression on her wasn't usual.

“Rever, he never notices anything around him once he's concentrating on something.”

She looked embarrassed, but she took pride in him. Leerin could tell from the way she called him.

The ants were busy taking the piece apart and carrying the parts back to their nest. The army of ants stretched out from the nest, crowding around the food debris and then lining back to the nest. The delivery process was organized like a machine.

“Keep going! Keep going!”

Reverse stared at the ants, supporting them with his back bent. This was high level team work, but Leerin didn't understand why he was so passionate about it.

She didn't know if the girl beside her understood him either, but her expression was hard to discern. She didn't seem to hate it. Rather, she was smiling as she watched him.

“...............Well, all that aside.”

Leerin's mood turned better.

“Okay, please stop there for now.”

She rapped the ground with her knuckle.

"Y, Yes"

Seemingly shocked by the sound, he....... Reverse jumped straight up, and not just him, Cauntia stood up too.

“It's lunch time, so let's eat together?”

“Ah.... Is it already that late?” Reverse looked back, not wanting to go.

“Yes, it's that late.”

Eldein was standing behind Leerin with a nervous look, carrying a large basket. No one knew when he got here. He didn't seem to know what to do before the two Heaven's Blade successors.

“Then let's find a place........” she said and noticed Reverse was still looking at the ants.

“..............”

Cauntia saw where Leerin was looking, and watched her. Her eyes were a bit teary.

“Haa............” Leerin turned her gaze to the sky. Today's sky was blue and fresh.

“Eldein, can you go to the canteen and buy a picnic blanket?”

“Ah, right..........” Eldein nodded.......

“Ah, I've got it~”

Synola appeared from behind Eldein, smiling and waving the picnic blanket.

“Eh? Ah........... Y, your maje~!” Eldein was speechless.

“Yes~ I'm the innocent girl Synola Alsheyra from the senior research institute.”

“You're still playing that role.”

“Of course. I'm still properly enrolled, you know?”

“Then suit yourself. Eldein, let's spread the blanket here and have lunch.”

“Ah, y, yes!”

Not knowing what to do, Eldein took the blanket from the person who insisted she was Synola Alsheyra and spread it on the grass. The five people sat down with the basket in the middle.

“Any rate. Are you still doing things like making your own lunch now?” Alsheyra asked as she ate. Leerin knew Alsheyra would come, and since the three Military Artists could eat a lot, she had packed such a large basket, but that was the limit.

“Yeah. I don't want to change my habit. Besides, I like to cook.”

“Well, it's fine since I like Lee-chan's cooking.”

“Then please don't complain.”

Leerin gave the lunch to Eldein who didn't dare touch it in front of the Queen and the two Heaven's Blade successors.

“...........? The stupid couple over there.”

“What now?”

“Oh, yes.”

Crouching alone, Reverse was staring at the ants as he nibbled at his sandwich. Cauntia was watching him with a smile. The two of them looked back at Alsheyra.

“Have you been guarding properly?”

“We are.”

“We're monitoring the movements of any Military Artists who are within 10 kilomels of Her Majesty.”

“Any movement?”

“Nope.”

“None at all.”

“The strange thing is?”

Towards Alsheyra's question, the pair looked as though they couldn't say it.

“Ah, because I already knew,” Leerin said as she filled their bowls.

“Well, since they've been exposed, there's no point keeping it secret.”

The pairs eyes met in response to Alsheyra's wry smile.

“You two stand out too much,” Leerin said, smiling.

“That's so weird, even though we've been using Sakkei. No one's looked this way since morning.”

“I've been staring though.”

“I, I didn't notice you.”

Eldein was disappointed.

“That's normal,” Cauntia said coldly. She was known for her cold attitude towards all boys except Reverse. Leerin knew of this recently. It was impossible for Eldein not to know, but it still hurt to hear it right from her.

“Um, so there are people with suspicious movements.”

“Meaning they are already spying on Her Majesty.”

“Hmm, I wonder if they plan to be forceful.”

What they would force, she did not say. Alsheyra read between the lines and understood time and place.

“On that note, does that even hold any meaning?” Cauntia said, shocked.

Alsheyra smiled wryly.

“Well, to your average citizen, as long as there's nothing suspicious, it doesn't matter who the king is.”

“It matters not to us either. If the king is of no use, isn't it enough to have him just sit in the seat?”

Cauntia's way of saying it was a bit extreme, but this was Grendan – a city that came across more filth monsters than others. And so Military Artists were valued more in here. Military Artists were recognized by their strength. Right now, the Queen Alsheyra Almonise was a Military Artist stronger than all the Heaven's Blade successors. But the next Queen wasn't the same. If that were the case, then the next Queen wouldn't have a say in the battle plans. A king without fighting strength couldn't go against the words of the Heaven's Blade successors.

But then there were precedents in the history of Grendan.

Conversely, even though the king had fighting strength, if he lacked the ability to govern, the ministers would end up holding the political power.

The King needed to possess the best ability in Grendan. If he didn't have it, he would only become a puppet. He would be in a cruel situation where everyone would try to control him.

“But then it may be charming for the one sitting on the throne.”

Alsheyra, the current holder of the throne, smiled painfully.

This all came about from the person Alsheyra named as her successor – Leerin.

Leerin was the child of Eutnohl. This was already acknowledged, and Alsheyra had used her authority to give the throne to Leerin, who was the successor to it.

The Ronsmier royal family was against this decision. In the battle last year, the Heaven's Blade successor, head of the Ronsmier family, Tigris, died. What made the matter worse was that the hope of the Ronsmier, Claribel, had left for the Academy City Zuellni. This was why the Ronsmier family was in a dispute about the decision of the inheritor to the throne. In the end, the Military Artists following the royal families met in Rivanes' home, which was a family of distinguished Military Artists, and decided Terios, who had had great achievements, should be the successor.

The first to protest was the Ronsmier family.

The conclusion was simple. There was no need to give the throne to a successor who was not a Military Artist.

“But there is no rule that says the successor to the throne must be a Military Artist.”

“None of that really matters. Since it's a family problem, the people of that family should solve it among themselves.”

“You're quite right.”

“That aside, Terios, was it? Just what kind of guy is he?”

“Ah, I'm not sure. He seems to be the son of one of Old Tig's many children. That man had a lot children, yeah, he could probably be my uncle. Have you seen him before?” Alsheyra said.

“Um, yes I have.”

Not knowing whether the atmosphere was too tense so that no one noticed him, Eldein put his hand up.

"I once was out with him on Filth Monster suppression."

“What's he like?”

“Quite carefree and he has strength. He also thinks about others, a man with a certain reputation.”

“He seems to meet your standards.”

“Yeah.”

“Tia, keep this discussion on track.”

“Yes.”

Reverse was still thinking about the ants. It seemed to Leerin that these two showed little interest in the topic. It was hard to believe. She could tell even Cauntia just threw out the name Terios to get the conversation going.

“Rather saying the problem lies with Terios, it's more to do with the Rivanes family. They don't like to put aside tradition.”

Was that all?

Leerin disagreed with what Alsheyra said. Since Alsheyra was the Queen, she had ways to make Leerin the successor. She could do it with force. It should be simple for her. But of course, that would cause huge problems. That would hurt Grendan deeply. It was understandable when the Queen was worried, but there were other points Leerin didn't understand.

The older group that Alsheyra mentioned. As followers of the royal families, though they didn't directly interfere with the battles against the filth monsters and the political atmosphere of Grendan, they were quite active in the back. It was difficult to just push them aside. But was it that simple that they were against Alsheyra's choice because Leerin wasn't a Military Artist? Because this went against tradition?

Even the followers of the royal families comprehended the danger from the last battle. Was that why they needed a stronger successor?

But even so she was just worrying. She knew there was no other successor aside from her. This didn't come from confidence and arrogance. This was the truth.

Wasn't that why Alsheyra named her the successor to the throne?

Then why let it go?

The movement of assassinating Leerin?

“............!”

Before she could say anything, Leerin stopped herself. She had forgotten what she wanted to say, but what she saw before her was worrying.

“What is it?”

Alsheyra, Reverse and Cauntia didn't notice it, not to mention Eldein. Was it her imagination? She felt the gaze watching her, yet all she saw were the school buildings and trees, and the blurry legs of Grendan from far away. What was happening even further away from Grendan?

This was what her right eye, covered, felt.


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