Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume16 Chapter4
Chapter 4: Hermits and Agitators
They were eyeing each other quietly.
The circular fighting grounds were covered with walls. It felt closed in here, and there was no audience stand. Instead, a few cameras were streaming the fights live. A few people were watching the situation through the recording.
There were only two Military Artists in the grounds. One was a Military Artist in his prime, wearing a beard. He held a huge sword, its tip stabbing the ground.
Opposite him was a younger Military Artist. On his waist was a katana that looked much more fragile than the huge sword. He was also ready.
How long had they held this pose?
Only the people watching the live-stream noticed the passing of time.
To this city, the strength of Military Artists was only needed to defend it. The residents didn't have to watch the fights.
(Can the city maintain its operations like this?) Karian couldn’t help but think.
It would be a great way for the city’s residents to relieve their boredom by watching the beautiful matches between Military Artists. In fact, many cities were doing this. Karian heard of this from other people in the Academy City.
But this city was different. It limited the number of people watching the fights, and few came to watch it. There also weren’t any posters or pictures showing off the Military Artists themselves.
“What do you think?” he said to the female beside him.
There were a few seats in this special viewing room. There were a few males and females watching the match other than Karian. He could tell they were quietly and intently watching the match, and that they were a bit tense too.
Since the female beside him was tense and that there didn’t seem to be an opening for a conversation, he turned naturally to the other female on the other side of him.
“I understand,” the female said curtly.
“Is that so? That’d be good if that’s the case.”
“But what’s the meaning of it?”
“The other side offered such a condition. I can’t not accept.”
“Is that so? Why not just hand over the data?”
“It can be fake if you just read the data and not look at the real thing.”
“If it’s just the degree of eyesight......”
The female cut off the conversation. Karian noticed it a bit later too.
There was movement. No. It was about to begin. Karian felt the change in the atmosphere. Since he was able to detect the change despite being a non-Military Artist, Military Artists themselves should have an even deeper understanding of the situation.
The people in the live-stream moved.
They jumped at high speed. The cameras swayed at the ripples made by their movements. Instantly, dust was thrown everywhere, and the scene plunged into silence.
“Has it begun?” the female said icily.
The picture came back to the screen.
Murmurs filled the room.
In it was a man kneeling on the ground with his sword broken into two, while the younger man had his katana against the man’s neck.
The young man looked at the camera.
“Well, just this kind of level.”
Karian read this from the movements of his lips.
It hadn’t been a day before Karian appeared in front of the roaming bus. The special color of the roaming bus seemed to be displaying it as private property to any bystanders, and Karian entered the bus as if he was an official of the city.
“Finally, we have three,” the woman sitting in one of the seats said to him. A woman with long hair and a firm attitude.
“Stania, please return to Saintberg if you’re dissatisfied.”
“That can’t be! Young master!”
“Besides, they’ve bodyguards. You’re hired by dad’s mercenary gang, so you belong over there. Shouldn’t you head back for another mission?”
“No. I’m coming.”
“Well, anyway, has anyone got a question on our destination?”
Stania was indecisive when Karian asked the important question.
Stania lowered her head shyly.
“Well, don’t be so cold. From the beginning she's been hanging 'young master, young master' from the side of her mouth because she can't calm down.”
“Wait up. I’m just telling the truth,” Haia smiled at the angry and red-faced Stania. Behind him, Myunfa was sniffing.
“No, I’m sorry. I must have been too harsh.”
“A response won’t be called for without that action. You do have your logic.”
“No, Young master, you don’t have to apologize for me. It’s all because of me. I didn’t understand your thinking, Young master……”
“Uh, I get it. Anyway, just calm down first.”
Stania was leaning close to the back of Karian's chair, as if she was about to attack him. Realizing that, she left, her face red. Looking at her, a sense of nostalgia welled up in Karian.
Her father. The mercenary gang Stania belonged to. That happened before Felli was born. It seemed that family hadn’t been dealing in information trade between cities before Karian's birth, but they had left their own city because of an important case, and had taken Stania with them.
Speaking of which, this family couldn’t live in any city, no matter what the reason was. Stania felt like an older sister to Karian in terms of age.
“Speaking of which, Haia, that Military Artist, is he good?”
“You’re lying. You just barely won.”
“That’s not the case at all.”
“Well, Stania has been doing her best.”
“Yes, Myunfa. Haia has tried his best to win the fight.”
“Myunfa. Stop saying redundant things.”
“Right. I’m sorry.”
After the driver received the order to leave, the roaming bus was lowered. When its wheels touched the ground, the bus began to head for another city.
“In this city exists people who make Haia acknowledge their strength. There should be other 'slumbering' Military Artists in other cities too. Then it’s not useless to show them these images.”
Right, that scene would one day again befall his own world. Karian understood. The being able to do that kind of thing had already come to the Academy City, come to the city Zuellni that Karian had left.
When that time came, could these people continue living on without knowing anything? Was it alright that this inevitable fate be given only to the group who were labeled resisters?
"When we see cracks in this fate, what will we do?"
So, he had taken action. Even one extra person would be good, one extra strength would be good, if it would let them see the world's crisis......
"Or, they will be unable to move because of despair."
The copied data was of the danger.
The thing that had covered Grendan.
Right now, Karian traveled, while delivering the records and images of his time in Zuellni to the cities. They were records of the world's crisis in front of their eyes.
The copied records were really too shocking, and even Haia had a moment where he could not understand what exactly he had seen.
If other people were too cowardly, and wouldn't be able to move, then Karian who was spreading these copied records would become the prophetic fate of mankind's defeat, the instigator who spread despair through the world.
"I hope things won't become like that."
Also for himself.
The roaming bus advanced. For the purpose of delivering terrifying records to another city, it advanced.
"Well, this is also for overcoming fate."
In the din of the bus setting forth, Karian closed his eyes.
A motorcycle was quickly moving through the wilderness.
"Our opponents won't give us any time for a breather at all!"
Layfon operated the motorcycle with one hand, and Nina stood up from the vehicle brandishing two iron whips, dealing with the uncountable rain of Kei spilling from the city devoid of people.
The enemies had not appeared till now. The external Kei did not take a straight path. Their enemies were in a hidden area, firing external Kei towards Layfon and the others in a curved path.
Layfon knew that the opponents' offense were focused here, and had not flown to Felli and the others' retreat group.
"When we reach a position to jump out we'll get off. Our escape method is not going to be waiting their for help, but we're going to wait for this city to catch Zuellni, are there any problems?"
Layfon nodded to respond to Nina's query.
The motorcycle drove at full speed to the city without people.
Because of the great size of the city, even if it looked very close, it was actually quite a far distance away.
(They can accurately snipe their target even from this far away?)
Without great strength, this kind of thing definitely couldn't be done.
There was a Military Artist of great strength in this city that seemed not to be meant for human habitation. From his judgments, all of the attacks that had hit toward this area were from a single person.
This city existed to transport a single person.
Facing this situation for the first time, Layfon managed to conceal the confusion on his face. Other than continuously striking with his arms to deal with the violent external Kei, he could not resist thinking about the possibilities of the opponent who hid over there.
Did this have something to do with Nina?
Would he take advantage of the current situation to ask her?
If something were currently being carried out, Layfon wanted to know the answer. The current him strongly felt this way. He didn't want to always be kept in the dark. He didn't even have any way to decide. He didn't have the courage to leap out in a situation that he knew nothing of, and so Layfon wanted to know the truth.
At the finish of this long defensive battle that seemed endless, the motorcycle that Layfon and Nina were riding reached the legs of the empty city.
Coordinating with Nina's shout, Layfon leaped high. In order to grab the luggage that was placed in the vehicle, Layfon's leaping motion was slow by half a second, but the speed of his leap instantly caught up to Nina. The external Kei passed by the two, smashing the motorcycle into pieces. The two escaped the clutches of the jumping flames, and their feet fell in the outskirts of the empty city.
Originally Layfon had thought the attacks would hit like a storm.
However, in reality the external Kei offensive had stopped. In front of Layfon and Nina was just a flat, boundless space with machinery. This place didn't even have soil. This city didn't have any of the buildings that were the foundations of human life, and only had a great flat plain.
Layfon heard Nina's voice as he examined the surroundings. However, regardless of how he used internal Kei to strengthen his senses, he couldn't find the figure of an enemy.
"Has he hid himself with Sakkei?"
"Felli, can you use Psychokinesis to find the opponent?"
"Felli, what's wrong?"
The two called out simultaneously. But, the flakes connected to their helmets could only transmit short snippets of Felli's voice. Her voice was being interfered with, and they couldn't understand what she was saying. Soon after, even this garbled voice gradually weakened, and disappeared.
"Is her Psychokinesis being interfered with?"
"At this distance, Felli-senpai's Psychokinesis wouldn't cut off, unless they were attacked."
"You think that's the case?"
"No, at least the opponent hasn't sent any attacks from this city. But......"
"If there was an ambush hiding nearby...... right? Damn! But even if we know, we're already trapped here."
Layfon understood the meaning in Nina's words, and concentrated harder on observing the surroundings.
Catching their breath, their eyes intersected.
"Are they luring us in?"
"Who is it?"
Thinking that perhaps Nina knew the answer, Layfon put forth the question.
"I don't know."
However, Nina shook her head.
Her voice really didn't sound like she was lying.
Or, did he himself want to believe that she wasn't lying?
"Anyway, right now we can only do things within the scope of our abilities. Layfon, let's split up to search this city."
"Okay...... wait, captain. In this kind of place splitting up is dangerous, I think that it's better for us to move together."
"Is that so? That's true, let's go then."
Nina took strides and walked to the front, and Layfon followed carrying the luggage on his back.
Should he ask, or shouldn't he?
The two moved along the outskirts, first expanding their search from the outer city. In the circular city surface, no matter where they walked they could only see the machinery on the separated lower level, and even without strengthening their sight they could see the the other side of the outskirts.
In this kind of situation, where would their opponent hide?
"That's the only possibility."
In this situation one couldn't even object to it. Above the ground was empty, and if the other party weren't flying in the sky, then he could only be hiding underground.
However, if they wanted to find the entrance leading underground, they had to look from a high place or they wouldn't find it. In this situation, their opponent wouldn't have left an obvious entrance. Franky speaking, if they only used their eyes to search from above, it was like using a single board to cover a cave, and concealment would already be adequate.
Since they couldn't rely on Felli's Psychokinesis, they could only walk around finding the entrance to a passageway.
"Next up will be a protracted siege, waiting for the opponent to move."
"That's okay, I guess......"
Layfon's low mumble made Nina show a perplexed expression, and Layfon expressed his doubts to her:
"Have you been injured?"
"Ah......Ahah. A little, because my isolation suit was damaged."
"Let's treat it now."
"No, with this kind of small wound, internal Kei should be able to treat it......"
"It's best to truly treat it now while we have time to treat it."
"Wu, is that so? I guess."
Layfon immediately took a medical kit out of the luggage on his back. The putty had a positive effect in treating pollutants, but should have no way to completely eradicate the pollutants that had already entered the body.
"But, to take off my battle suit here is a bit......"
"It's not a problem, if there's a situation I will respond immediately."
Layfon pulled out the Sapphire Dite, restoring the steel threads. Layfon immediately spread out numerous steel threads to their limits in their surroundings, woven into a defensive formation.
"No, that's not what I meant."
"? Then what did you mean?"
"Uh, I was talking about the inside of the battle suit. Even if I have some pants and a T-shirt, um......"
Layfon didn't really understand, but Nina had already become flustered with her face red.
"It's like that, you should understand, right?"
"The isolation suit is very thin, and it seems to have broken because of the attacks just now......"
"That's why I'll use this period of time to fix Captain's isolation suit. I've attended a workshop, so I can do it if it's a simple repair."
"Wu, is that so. That's not bad, but, so, you know."
"......Captain, what exactly did you start saying just now?"
"I meant to say that even if there aren't people here, I still can't bare my skin out in the open!"
Nina shouted this, with her face red to the extent where it could get no redder. Layfon finally understood.
After understanding this situation, Layfon's face also reddened.
"H-hold on, there should be a tent in here."
Layfon found the tent from the luggage in a panic. He unfolded the fist-sized tent to unpack it, throwing it out. After some wild bouncing it became a tent for single-person use.
After entering, Nina took off her battle suit. At the same time as the fighting suit and isolation suit underneath were taken off, Layfon put the medical kit in the tent.
This guy was still clueless as always.
After removing the battle suit over and isolation suit, the heat from her tired body dissipated outwards. In order to keep from impeding her body's movements, Nina had taken off everything leaving only a thin, elastic T-shirt and tight pants. She confirmed her entire body, with the areas with persistent pain being her right thigh and her back.
Nina looked at her right thigh, only seeing some black pollutant-like things, spraying the area of the small wound. The pollutants had entered her body from the wound, burning the skin. The pollutants didn't look like they were expanding, indicating that the first aid just now had really stopped the pollutants' invasion.
The pain was still there. The quality of her focus in an urgent situation and when she was being alert were completely different. Before arriving in the city, Nina had completely forgotten the pain of her wound, but after entering the city had gradually noticed the pain.
At that time, Layfon rapidly looked over Nina's wound. She feared that maybe noticing the pain would change her body's movements.
"Undoubtedly that kind of thing will happen for a short while."
She only then realized that that person was very slow, but also had a keen side.
But, his keen side was completely focused on combat.
He was a Military Artist more excellent than Nina. With things as they were, she didn't even need to say that kind of thing. Nina had received the help of the Haikizoku, and in her hands were Dites that could withstand strong Kei power. Even so, she still did not think she could beat Layfon. Perhaps she could top Layfon in an instant of destructive power.
Though, only this and nothing more.
Utilizing great amounts of Kei, experience, techniques, movements, tactics, Layfon was a hundred steps in front of Nina in everything.
Nina wanted Layfon's help. Though if he hadn't joined, then she could instantly obtain victory on that battlefield. However, to become strong, Nina needed Layfon's help, even Felli and Sharnid, and Dalshena as well. If she could say it, Nina wanted to let more people know the truth, and afterwards ask them to help her.
But, in the Academy City Zuellni she couldn't do this. Vati's monitoring was there, and if she wished, the nightmarish scene that happened in Grendan would reappear in the Academy City. At that time, the people in the Academy City wouldn't even have the power to resist.
But, what if it were here, what about in this place that was far from the Academy City?
It should be alright to tell Layfon the truth here, right?
If she wanted to tell Layfon everything, and ask him to help her, couldn't she only take advantage of right now? Even if she spoke the facts, even if she begged for help, perhaps she would still be powerless. The might of the enemies was far too great, even already making Nina and others feel deep despair before fighting. Even so, shouldn't she let him know about this, since it would be good to have even an extra person?
Perhaps it was the only opportunity.
"I've finished repairing your isolation suit, how is Captain doing?"
The voice came from outside the tent. Nina who was immersed in thoughts suddenly returned to reality, beginning to realize the pain of the wound. Her thigh had already been treated. Nina had looked at it, and probably other than one spot, her body didn't have any other wounds. She just need to apply some cream on it, then take some capsules of resisting agents, and it should be fine.
But, that place was......
"Sorry, Layfon. If I don't ask for your help, I can't reach that place myself."
"Huh, where is it?"
Even if she used a mirror, Nina still would have difficulty seeing the wound. But, she indeed felt pain from there. If she extended her hand she could touch that place, but Nina couldn't apply the medicine well to herself. That place didn't hurt like her thigh, so it was probably only a small wound. Even so, she couldn't just ignore this wound.
"Ah, okay. I understand."
Just as Layfon was about to stick his head into the tent entrance, Nina suddenly thought of something. The tight pants and T-shirt on her body had big splits at their seams, and Nina frantically turned her back to the entrance, shrinking her body.
"Uh, it's fine if I just spread it here?"
This tent was very small, and Layfon also took caution of the situation outside. He quickly confirmed the location of the wound, and extended a hand into the tent. Nina pushed the container filled with cream forward with a finger. Layfon scooped a big lump of cream with his fingers, and pressed his fingers against Nina's back. The cold feeling of the cream made Nina shiver involuntarily.
"Does it hurt?"
"No, no, I'm okay."
The moment his fingers touched her back, Nina's whole body felt a tense feeling that she didn't quite understand herself. She didn't know whether it was Layfon's problem, since it could be because of the pain of the wound. This was definitely because the wound was positioned on her back, so she couldn't see the the moment that the cream came in contact with the wound, so her reaction was stronger than usual.
It was definitely this, for sure.
But, because of this, why did the touch of the fingers applying cream make Nina so tense? She didn't really understand the reason. Was it because Layfon was a male? How could that be? When Nina received treatment in the hospital, she never paid any attention to the gender of her doctor.
In this situation, where a male was touching her bare skin with his hand, wasn't it the same as seeing the doctor?
She really didn't understand.
She just moved her lips, not uttering any sound. Even if Layfon heard it and asked, she wouldn't know how to respond.
The hand was quickly removed.
At the regret she felt that those fingers were no longer touching her back, Nina became even more confused. Nina cut off the many emotions moving inside her heart with that word.
"Then, let's move quickly. I feel like the atmosphere has become unsuitable."
Layfon's reply once again strongly pulled Nina back to reality.
"Let's go then."
Even though her reply was short, her tone was quite sharp. Nina extended her arm for the repaired battle suit and isolation suit.
The change in the atmosphere made Layfon hurriedly throw the battle suit repair kit into the luggage, and he extended his hand to touch the Shim Adamantium Dite.
While Layfon was repairing the battle suit, the steel threads had been spread out. If an enemy's body so much as touched a steel thread anywhere, Layfon would have felt the vibration of Kei emanating from that place. The steel threads had not changed.
However, the current atmosphere had changed.
Perhaps the person hiding in the shadows was currently taking action.
Layfon took notice of the tent behind him as he slowly got up. Just from seeing the long-distance shooting from before, he was able to understand that the enemy was quite a skillful Military Artist. The array of steel threads might have been bypassed by the opponent. Layfon was not careless, and cautiously confirmed his surroundings.
The voice that came from his back made Layfon's expression go rigid. At the same time as his eyes widened, his body moved along with them. Layfon turned to his back, extracting the Shim Adamantium Dite, restoring it, and slashing the blade at the form flitting above the tent.
The blade was blocked by a pillar.
No, the thing that blocked it was a rough, club-like object.
In that area was a man with a huge body, a domineering warrior exuding burning anger.
No, that wasn't right. He only looked like this. It was a false image created by the strong Kei being radiated by the opponent. The fear in his heart was minimal, and Layfon's eyes captured the truth.
Actually, there was a man standing in the space between Layfon and the tent. He was a man with a slender body.
The opponent was an old man. His hair was combed to the rear, and his beard was trimmed very precisely. On his body he wore plain leaf-colored clothing that didn't match the machinery.
The weapons in his hands were iron whips, slightly thinner than Nina's iron whips.
He relaxedly blocked Layfon's blade.
"This place is this old man's battleground. This old man can exist everywhere, but also doesn't exist anywhere."
The old man said this.
"Youngster, let me rest."
When he heard these words, Layfon had already charged forward. Nina was in the tent behind the old man, and Layfon's mind didn't have any ideas of retreat. He drew the Shim Adamantium Dite, at the same time releasing the steel threads to stab. Countless steel threads took the form of a thrusting rain, which should have run through the old man's body.
However, Layfon didn't get the feeling of hitting his opponent.
The steel threads all missed the old man, missed the old man and continued rushing past the tent behind him, most of them sticking into machinery and producing explosons.
Layfon hadn't expected this, the old man's Kei flow had pushed away the steel threads' thrusts.
This was the only possibility.
"What a skillful youngster. But, you're not bold enough when you attack."
When the sound reached his ears, the old man had already moved. The blade that Layfon had struck out with again cut upwards. However, his body had not put any power into the blow. Layfon spread the steel threads out for an all-encompassing attack, but it was already too late.
The old man who once again received his blade was in front of him.
In his left hand was another iron whip that he was free to hit with.
He struck out.
It was too late to use his sword to defend. Layfon changed the path of the steel threads, making them form a wall between him and the iron whip.
His roar dominated the world. A Kei sound technique - Sound of War attacked his entire body. The old man's momentum pushed back Layfon's battle instincts. The wall of steel threads was shattered, and the iron whip dropped on Layfon's shoulder.
Half of his body lost feeling. In the next moment, Layfon's vision began to turn, rising, and then falling.
Long before understanding his situation, Layfon's consciousness had already been blown away by the attack.
Something had happened. But, when Nina saw it was already too late. She was putting on her battle suit, and when she heard the sound and rushed out, everything had already ended. With a nearby sound like a string of explosions, Layfon's body was half airborne.
Afterwards, standing in front of Nina was the back figure of an old man with thin iron whips in his hands.
She remembered that back.
It was very unexpected that she could think of this back in the midst of confusion.
However, Nina had relied on this back, no, actually it should have been the iron whips in the other party's hand and his standing posture that made her think of his identity.
Being able to think of who the other person was, and that this other party was an existence from her own memories, made Nina feel even more surprised.
"It's been a long time, Nina."
The old man turned around. Behind him, Layfon had fallen in an area far away. Nina thought of helping him, but the atmosphere emanating from her great-grandfather didn't allow Nina to leave her position.
Repeatedly using artificial hibernation, long ago becoming the dragon of the Antalk family, the elder Military Artist whom Nina revered the most stood in front of her.
Gildred Antalk was here.
Nina couldn't understand why he would appear here. Her great-grandfather should only appear in urgent situations to protect Schneibel, or would only emerge from artificial hibernation for periodic health checkups, so that Nina had only seen him two or three times.
Even so, at a glance, her great-grandfather definitely didn't give off a strong impression. Her great-grandfather wasn't large and muscular like her parents, at first glance looking like an elderly recluse that was difficult to get along with, but his strength surpassed her parents'. The scene of all the Antalk family Military Artists rushing at him, but her great-grandfather deflecting them all, was still vividly imprinted in her memories.
"Great-grandfather is Schneibel's patron saint."
She remembered her parents saying this.
Why would this kind of great-grandfather stand in this place?
"Do you think this old man wouldn't know of the things that happened between Schneibel and Zuellni?"
Her great-grandfather had relations with the Electronic Fairy Schneibel. They knew the same information, and made preparations for the same goals. Was that how things were?
"That's right, so this old man has come, to destroy what should be destroyed. Afterwards, I will save my poor great-granddaughter from Zuellni's trickery."
"Zuellni wouldn't do that kind of thing!"
"If that were so, why would she want to remain silent?"
"What reasons did she have to remain silent? To protect hostages? That's right. For an Electronic Fairy, protecting the people in the face of a threat is the correct way of doing things. Though, are things really like that? If it was only to protect hostages, why didn't she spread warnings through En? The dice of fate have already been tossed, and a nightmare has fallen on Grendan. We already have no way to avoid the struggle under the moon. The cause and effect forged from the beginning of creation will be settled today. Chaos is disturbing this great earth. In this kind of situation there will certainly be people who will die, certainly people who get wounded, and certainly people who are destroyed. Powerful sides will clash against each other, and it is impossible to reconcile. Until one of them perishes, this battlefield will continue on. The upcoming moment will be determined. However, why does Zuellni remain silent? Could it be that you know the answer?"
Nina couldn't respond.
It was because she also held doubts towards Zuellni. It wasn't like Zuellni couldn't talk. However, even if Nina had already understood Vati's true colors, and knew the things that had happened between Zuellni and Schneibel, Zuellni still didn't want to tell Nina anything. Zuellni acting this way felt very unnatural to Nina, and made her feel uncertain.
"Zuellni gave me this."
Nina restored the Dites in her hands.
They were things formed by the conglomeration of the Electronic Fairy's power. Because Nina had been possessed by the Haikizoku, ordinary Dites could not bear her full Kei output. Because she was like this, Zuellni had formed these weapons.
"During that impasse, in that kind of situation where she might have to save herself, she trusted me, and gave me these weapons. Betting on what Zuellni has done for me, I definitely will not betray her."
"Hmm, so that's how it is, that reply indeed has our family's style."
Gildred's expression relaxed for a moment.
Though, that expression truly lasted for only a moment. The wrinkles that floated on his cheeks disappeared, putting on a severe face. The pressure released from his entire body pushed Nina. The two feet that struggled to support Nina's body dug two shallow marks in the ground.
"Then, with an iron will, a will that crushes steel, I will forcefully take you back to Schneibel."
"I won't let you succeed!"
Nina yelled, reclaiming her momentum with a roar.
She understood that her current status was not enough to fight her Grandfather's Kei.
So, Nina let out a breath, waking the Haikizoku hiding within her body.
The golden goat awoke.
The golden light surrounded Nina, bursting out from her in all directions. Strength entered her Kei vein, its beating became stronger and faster, and the rapid rise of pressure in her body made her feel giddy.
Gildred pointed his iron whips that were thinner than Nina's at the ground, gazing at her change.
"Well, so that's how it was......"
The old man's eyebrows furrowed seriously, continuing to stare at Nina.
However he looked, what he saw didn't resemble Nina, but rather was the Haikizoku inside her.
"This is your strength? Since this is the case, we no longer need to speak. Display your ambition and the strength of your will in front of me, show it to me!"
Nina yelled to reply.
She ran quickly.
Nina injected her will, her Kei, and her strength into her iron whip, letting the energy flow. In order to make her great-grandfather understand, a strike to make him return to Schneibel, with evidence that she would accomplish her goal, with the strength of her trust in Zuellni......
"I'll show it all to you!"
Combined Internal and External Kei variant - Raijin.
Her speed took the form of lightning, as she raised the iron whip high. The distance between the two was covered in an instant, and the shockwave followed from behind.
Nina poured all of her energy into the iron whip, striking towards Gildred.
The lightning covered every corner of her vision.
A force transmitted up the iron whip and through her arm, then out through the back. The objective of the strike was that feeling.
"......Is that your limit?"
She couldn't fully reach that feeling of the iron whip, and a verbal blow entered Nina's ears.
Gildred stood in front of her. He crossed his iron whips blocking Nina's Raijin, standing there, without even a speck of dust staining his clothing.
The old man's face was stern, and looked sharply at Nina.
"You should have already seen Grendan's Heaven's Blades. You should know that the power you have is not unique to yourself. Even if it is a special power, you should know that it's only of this level after all. Even so, if you still insist on walking this path of thorns......"
The pressure increased. The Kei flow that Gildred released increased. Nina's stance meant for using Raijin endured the push of this pressure. To push back the old man's strength, she let Kei run through her body, and roared at Melnisc in her consciousness.
However, Nina was pushed back inch by inch.
Gildred stood in his original location without moving a step.
Gildred mumbled this.
Nina did not instantly understand what this word indicated.
But in the end he was telling her the answer.
The Kei flow increased explosively once more, and this time Nina was unable to stop it and was blown backwards.
In the moment that she was sent flying, Nina saw that scene.
"How can this be......"
She thought this in her heart, but also felt that it was extremely reasonable. The origin of Electronic Fairies, Schneibel. The mother of all the Electronic Fairies, Schneibel. The empty city carrying her great-grandfather.
The Senou City's patron saint.
He was this kind of person.
Even if his Kei color had become golden, it still wasn't surprising.
Even if he had been possessed by a Haikizoku, it still shouldn't be that unusual of a circumstance.
The machinery next to her great-grandfather's foot vibrated, then collapsed. Its substance had collapsed just from the pressure of his Kei.
"Come, I will let you experience what is a full consciousness, and the strength of sacrifice and determination."
Gildred lifted his iron whips. When she heard the roaring sound in the air, Nina leaped high up. At that moment, her great-grandfather's figure had already moved to Nina's position. He attacked with his iron whips. The iron whips whose strike reached the ground spread forth ripples, which collapsed a moment later.
Gildred should have been standing next to the collapsed machinery, but his figure had already disappeared. Nina who was halfway in the air intuitively changed the direction of her body, raising her iron whips to assume a stance.
Gildred was there. Iron whips gnawed at each other, and the shockwaves produced spread over Nina's entire body. Her body was paralyzed, and she fell out of the air.
Gildred who used only iron whips like Nina hurtled towards the ground with her. As the two of them fell, they used their iron whips to trade strikes. The shockwaves produced by the iron whips colliding against each other randomly changed the path of their fall.
The mutually pestering iron whips were regulated by Gildred's Kei flow. This was a Kei technique that Nina did not know. Since she had lost to her opponent in Kei ability, Nina could not use her strength to free her weapons. She could only feel anxious premonitions about her back's continuous approach to the ground as she traded blows with Gildred.
The exchange of blows was only brandishing the iron whips at full power, and she didn't have any skills to speak of. Strike out with the iron whip, the iron whips would collide, and then at the same time bounce back. There was a gap in the simple level of strength, and there was also a gap in the speed at which the flying iron whips were pulled back. When a gap appeared, she would lose the opportunity to strike her opponent's weapon with all her power, and afterwards in their competition of strength she would fall downwards even more.
During that fall, exactly how many times did those two trade blows? Nina had lost count long ago. Even so, that she could still compete with her great-grandfather could only be said to be her great-grandfather's mercy.
Nina felt impatient at herself who could only let out depressed cries, as her back hit the ground. There was the bursting of machinery. The strength that held the iron whips together disappeared, and the figure of Gildred leaping backwards seemed fuzzy. The impact sent through her back made Nina lose consciousness for a moment, and if she had not used Kongoukei in time, she would definitely have fainted.
Under the strength produced by this impact, Nina's body didn't even bounce back, and she was pressed into the smashed machinery.
"With only that kind of level you want to become the enemy of the world? Don't make me laugh."
Her great-grandfather's words echoed through the pain of Kongoukei.
Why had she become like this? The pain of her body shook her determination, spawning cowardice, bringing doubts.
She had been named the enemy of the world by her hometown's Electronic Fairy Schneibel, and her respected and loved great-grandfather had also come here. Fighting, getting wounded...... why had she become like this?
"The one that we want to defeat is obviously the same enemy......"
Nina shouted at the bottom of the pit formed by the machinery.
"What skillful words."
Gildred who was overlooking that place refuted Nina's shouts:
"If we had to unite in order to win, then that would have to become the core of our determination. Because the doctrines we pursue or our viewpoints are different, if we integrate our determination, we will be able to achieve our goals in the end. But, Zuellni has not shown this kind of determination. She is unwilling to join Schneibel's rope. Therefore, she is an impurity who will cut the rope, a filthy existence who will soil the rope. What Schneibel has carved out, what all of the Electronic Fairies hope for, the Blade of Destiny that this old man would not hesitate to abandon his life to create, is clouded because of her existence, so we must defeat her, that reason is not strange at all!"
"You think you're the center of the world while only knowing pieces of the truth? Do you think that the only kind and honest existences in the world are the ones that you protect yourself? That something with a childish appearance cannot be evil? Will you start crying, now that you cannot accomplish your goals through force?"
Gildred's speech spilled towards Nina. His Kei pressure had also elevated along with his denouncement.
He was angry, her great-grandfather was angry. Nina's immature words had made him feel anger, and his Kei also carried forth his passionate emotions.
"You, do you understand the significance of the words that you say?"
The iron whips were raised high.
They were coming. Nina took a stance, preparing Kongoukei.
"I will correct your immature way of thinking!"
The iron whip attacked. The arriving blow made Nina close her eyes. She put her iron whips across her chest. Would she really be able to block this strike? Nina didn't have the confidence. Perhaps this time her body would penetrate the machinery, and would continue falling down to the underground facility. At that time, would this city still be unharmed? Though, this kind of worry was only superfluous, because Nina might already be dead at that time.
However, the angry hammer did not come to Nina's body.
Alarmed, Nina...... opened her eyes. Perhaps this was just a false alarm to distract her? Nina thought the possibility that she was being teased was next to nothing. Was her great-grandfather one to perform this kind of mischief? Having not been with her great-grandfather in a long time, she didn't know the answer.
She raised her head.
Gildred was not looking at Nina.
His eyes were looking outside of the city, a low sound coming from his throat.
"............So it's come."
She heard the old man mumbling this.
Meishen and Vati's morning started very early, because they needed to bake the cakes for today before school.
Vati made the dough for sponge cake in a special big bowl, while shifting her sight to the automatic eggbeater. However, her order of actions had not become arbitrary. She removed the finger on the switch of the eggbeater, and after Meishen's trusted winning dough was poured into a mold, prepared to begin baking the cake.
However, her eyes still looked at a different place.
"How amazing, Vati's hands are so skillful."
Vati looked at a different place as she appeared to be making cakes, making Meishen widen her eyes in surprise.
"Nnn~ it's okay if I haven't lost. But...... is something bothering you?"
That was a lie.
However, she couldn't explain the situation. Outside the Academy City, 372 Kilomels away, there were two people who knew Vati's real identity, who were swayed to push their powers to the limit in order to defeat Vati.
Nina was in battle to protect a secret, to keep her opponent from drawing close to the Academy City.
When the object being protected was very large, the damage that could be tolerated would become large. Even if the people in the Academy City didn't know the truth, Vati's true face had long since been transmitted over the Electronic Fairies' network.
To protect the world, even if they sacrificed this Academy City, was this also an acceptable damage tolerance?
"......Things can't be like that."
"Sorry, I was talking to myself."
"Really? If there's anything bothering you feel free to talk about it, I hope I can help you."
After thanking Meishen, Vati adopted an appearance of working seriously. She had already entered the most suitable mode of operation to make cakes, so she wouldn't fail even if she averted her gaze. However, she couldn't let Meishen hold those unnecessary emotions.
Vati opened the oven, putting the cake in the mold inside, while sending out necessary instructions.
Her instructions served their purpose in a place 372 Kilomels away.
Gildred saw that being. He felt slightly surprised. The area that the Senou City operated in was rather peaceful, so to Gildred who lived in that kind of area, it was his first time seeing this type of threat. Even so, Gildred's surprise was still slight and nothing more.
"I see, this is the legendary aged phase?"
The old man's anger towards Nina dispersed, and he looked at that being full of spirit.
That thing was climbing on top of the city's leg. That thing with a giant eye as big as Gildred.
That thing's outer skin showed a luster like a carefully polished rock, reflecting the sunlight.
It was a giant, a giant that looked like it was wearing heavy clothing.
It was climbing on the city's leg, climbing above the outlying area. It really was too large, dragging its incredibly heavy body upright to stand up. The ground shook, the city shook, his changing of his heavy balance made everything in the city cry out.
"......What do you plan to do to this old man's Armadune?"
The sound of tearing metal from the sky made Gildred mumble this.
Gildred moved his body rapidly, arriving in front of the giant.
"Release your dirty hands, you worthless creature!"
Gildred struck with his iron whips in a line, harshly beating the giant's armored nose. It couldn't be told whether it was flesh or iron that produced a heavy sound that rippled through the air, and the giant's body tilted upwards, falling down.
Gildred landed in the outlying area, overlooking the giant that had fallen by the city's leg.
"Did you get close while Armadune had not yet appeared? In that case, you're also a minion?"
The fallen giant shook the wilderness, trying to rise.
Gildred snorted with an uninterested face.
He seemed to be thinking as he covered his mouth with his hand.
From the gaps between his fingers, one could see that his lips were slightly curved in a smile.
It was a fierce smile.
"Alright. Since it's like this, this old man will let you witness the strength that has been honed to hunt you, and to defeat your determination."
The old man once again raised his iron whips.
He so intoned, calling three names. Who were the names that were called, and what kind of existences were they?
The answer was quickly revealed.
By Gildred's side jumped out several radiances. They were immediately absorbed by the golden light released by the old man, and afterwards merged into one, followed by an increase in power.
"Armadune, strengthen the battlefield."
The light moved, forming fluctuations under the old man's feet, and was absorbed into the ground. Sounds came from behind him, the sounds of the machinery beginning self-repair. Behind him, came the sound of Nina hustling to leave the pit. Perhaps it was the rapidly squirming machinery that made her feel uncomfortable, she prepared to prop up her collapsed companion.
"Wouldn't it be fine if you just stayed in your position?"
He felt the air with his back while mumbling. He had already used the city's Electronic Fairy Armadune's battlefield strengthening to promote the machinery's strength. In this city without refugees, the safest place was amidst the machinery.
"......It'll be fine to watch from here."
However, the old man said this.
It was fine just to let her see and understand the difference in strength. Though if she surrendered from only this, then she couldn't be counted as a member of the Antalk family. However, it was possible that perhaps she would change her thinking.
Facing this fate, that kind of identity didn't suit an Academy City.
"Come to the battlefield of this old man."
Gildred jumped. No, he dropped.
He almost fearlessly passed through the air shield, moving from the outskirts to besides the giant's foot. He had not restored his iron whips, and they were held in the old man's weapon belt by his waist.
Pollutants burned Gildred. Even if he were exposed to the loathed blaze, the old man's expression had no change.
The giant who had climbed back up raised its fist, and then struck out with power.
The giant's fist had power and size as well as speed, and it was more than enough to say that it wanted to squash Gildred's body like a bug.
However, Gildred was not squashed.
Gildred stood nearby facing its giant body. He touched down, bringing his arm back and raising his fist to confront his power.
The conflict broke out.
Explosions were produced in the air as the giant mass roared. It was only reasonable that the outcome of the conflict could only bring the old man an unbearably cruel death.
But Gildred was the patron saint of the Senou City. He manipulated the empty city Armadune, and had called forth three Electronic Fairies.
The golden light surrounding his body overturned the unreasonable gap in size.
In front of his extended fist was the giant fist covering his own figure. Seeing this giant fist, Gildred's heart was still confident. The fist stopped. The giant had poured all of its power into the fist, but Gildred's fist had not been pushed back.
Gildred opened his fist, grabbing the giant's clenched finger.
"I'm quite sorry to make you leave. If you really wanted to climb that much, then this old man will entertain you on the battlefield."
Gripping its finger, he poured power into it...... Then, the giant who was being held began to rotate. An incredible scene unfolded, the strange scene of this giant being whirled by an old man only as big as his fingertip.
However, this scene was what happened in reality. The old man whirled the giant, and the fierce wind produced by this motion howled as if to shake the ground. Then, the old man threw the giant.
The giant rose while producing a loud sound of its mass hurtling through the air, and then fell. Gildred chased the giant, following the parabolic path of the giant.
"Why don't you drop here for me."
He descended towards the giant's abdomen with a kick.
The giant's path of descent changed, and produced a cloud of dust in the middle of the city.
"Come, let this old man properly confirm how firm you are."
Gildred once again restored his Dites, raising the two iron whips and taking a stance.
"After all, I've already become this old, but still haven't run into an aged phase. You've only existed in name, and I've become a real elderly man, so you should pay your respects to the elderly."
Gildred brought out a bold smile, raising the iron whips in his hands high. The giant reached out his arm to try to grab the old man from his movements, and no effects could be seen to be produced from its being thrown just now.
However, it had no way to change the bulky body that it brought.
The iron whips struck forth a step faster.
Golden ripples spread in all directions. The giant's hand stopped moving, and its whole body shook. Vibrations from the blow covered the giant, and spread to the entire city, shaking the air.
Just like Vati, the giant was composed of very small nanomachines. The blow and the vibration had smashed them, and from the blow the surroundings and throughout the giant's body became sand and sprayed out. The nanomachines turned into white smoke, covering the giant's figure.
The next blow scattered the white smoke, and once again produced white smoke enveloping Gildred. The giant's movements were blocked by the vibrations produced by the blows of the two iron whips, and it could not use any skills.
Gildred's attacks still continued. His breathing had not become disordered, and his attack power almost had not declined. Though the city still shook, it did not receive any effects from Gildred's strong destructive force, so it seemed that the Electronic Fairy Armadune's battlefield strengthening had been effective.
However, Nina didn't understand it.
"......What is this?"
Standing on the shaking machinery, Nina carried Layfon on her shoulder as she viewed this scene.
It was an incredible scene.
No, if only the old man's strength were considered, Grendan's Heaven's Blade successors could also possibly do this. Perhaps they could perform even stronger skills. After all, Nina had experienced the force of their Kei with her own body, and seen their frightening techniques with her own eyes.
What surprised Nina was not that Gildred could do this. No, Nina obviously felt surprised at that, but the thing in her vision made her feel more surprised.
It was the Electronic Fairy.
Even though she was separated far away, Nina had heard Gildred calling three names. She had not let go of her focus as Gildred moved and acted on the battlefield, and Nina had not missed hearing the intonations of her great-grandfather. She had only heard those names, perhaps she still did not know what meaning those actions stood for. However, she understood everything just from seeing the phenomenon that happened afterwards.
The strengthening golden light that was released from Gildred's entire body, the things that had appeared as if they were heat illusion were Electronic Fairies.
"Melnisc, that really is......"
(They are not Haikizoku.)
"What did you say?"
The response sent from the Haikizoku inside her body made Nina take a puzzled voice.
(Those are not things produced from the hatred of losing their city, but are beings that voluntarily became that way.)
(Haikizokus are Electronic Fairies who want to become cities, changed from their anger and hatred at losing everything. However, those Electronic Fairies do not want to become cities, they have wanted to become blades for the world since the beginning, so they have lent their power to Military Artists.)
(Isn't there such an existence inside your body?)
When Melnisc said this, Nina thought of that event. No, she had not forgotten that event, but she had not thought that it had become that kind of being.
When Nina was still in Schneibel, she had witnessed a kidnapping of an Electronic Fairy. Nina's sense of justice had made her chase the culprit. But in the end, she suffered severe wounds. 
When no one had come to save her, the kidnapped Electronic Fairy had saved Nina.
It was a small Electronic Fairy who had not even been given a name.
Nina had felt that it was a very sorrowful thing. Fighting from then on, Nina had begun thinking of the meaning that Military Artists stood for, because she decided to leave the hometown she had been born in.
Afterwards, she had met Zuellni.
(Your Kei vein has almost been restructured by electromagnetic bonds produced by Electronic Fairies. That is where the Electronic Fairy is.)
"............What does that mean?"
(It means that Electronic Fairies have made your body into a residence. As long as the Electronic Fairy continues to grow, your body's Kei vein will follow and grow alongside. For ordinary Military Artists, Kei veins shouldn't be something that can grow like that.)
Indeed, Nina had heard of that kind of thing. Kei vein growth in Military Artists would cause symptoms like disease.
"Then, I have only become strong by your blessings?"
This came as somewhat of a blow to Nina. The thing regarding Melnisc was something that Nina had decided herself. As for the other Electronic Fairy, Nina felt very sorrowful, not wanting it to have died in vain, but she had not thought that it was so connected with her own body.
Regardless of whether it was in the past or the present, Nina had always striven and struggled to become strong. If the outcome wasn't even from her own efforts, and only came from the growth of the Electronic Fairy in her body, then what was the meaning of everything she had paid after all?
(You could say that. But, that you can control me is because you have a strong heart, and isn't that also the reason why that nameless compatriot dedicated itself to you? Even so, your strength right now is your own strength. The problem is not the nature of your strength, but how you use your possessions.)
"......Is it possible that I'm being comforted right now?"
(Do you have the strength to make jokes?)
Melnisc's words allowed Nina's mood to calm down. The important question was not whether the things inside Gildred's body were Haikizoku or not.
Rather it was if they were Electronic Fairies born in Schneibel, and whether Electronic Fairies also had that kind of use.
Nina didn't understand at all. Was this because Nina's age had not reached the point where she could understand this, or was it because her strength was not sufficient?
However, there was only a small group of people who knew of this, and even her parents did not know. Was it only people with status similar to Gildred who knew this?
Moreover her great-grandfather knew about Vati, that meant Schneibel and Gildred contacted each other.
"Therefore...... it was Schneibel who let those Electronic Fairies do that?"
Electronic Fairies would turn themselves into strength, and dedicate themselves to Military Artists?
In order to reach the goal of the Electronic Fairies.
In other words, Electronic Fairies, or perhaps Schneibel, had this degree of consciousness.
The entire world's Electronic Fairies, were they all really dedicating themselves for this battle?
Was it only Zuellni who attempted to defy this trend?
Was it to protect the inhabitants of the Academy City?
Nina didn't feel that Zuellni was wrong. But, she also didn't think Schneibel was wrong. One was protecting her own city, one was protecting the world, but the problem was the proportions were different. If the world was destroyed, the Academy City would also be destroyed. Still, it couldn't be said that the Academy City could perish for the world...... Nina couldn't give voice to those words. Nina could never give up on Zuellni.
There was only one enemy - Vati Len. No, she was named Lævateinn and was the bane of the world.
Just one person, nothing more. However, that enemy was far too powerful, and could not be dealt with.
It was the same as the situation in front of her eyes. Gildred seemed to be in a dominant position, but she feared that perhaps that were not so.
On the other hand, why had that aged phase giant chosen this opportunity to suddenly appear in this place after all?
Had the city that was carrying her great-grandfather not noticed it? Had Felli's Psychokinesis been unable to notice that giant creature?
That was impossible. Nina dared to assert that, because she trusted the abilities of the Electronic Fairies, and trusted Felli's abilities.
Then, the one who sent this giant here was Vati. Moreover, Vati could clearly witness what happened here.
That meant she couldn't divulge her information.
Nina couldn't say anything to Layfon.
If she said it, perhaps Vati would begin moving, and perhaps the Academy City would perish.
"......All things considered, I should first put Layfon in a safe place."
Even though Nina was worried about the unconscious Layfon, she didn't feel that the enemies were only that giant. If Vati was monitoring this place, if she assessed her great-grandfather's strength here, then it wouldn't be surprising if other enemies appeared.
Nina looked around her. However, the wide area that was covered with machinery was only a boundless plain, and there wasn't even an emergency shelter. No, if the battle became intense, the level of a shelter wouldn't even be safe.
What should she do...... Just as Nina thought this, her foot experienced a shock.
This shock didn't come from Gildred's battle.
"What is that?"
As Nina examined the situation, the ground nearby quickly changed. The tubes that constituted the nearby machinery started to wriggle, and a tunnel appeared there.
As Nina probed into the tunnel, it became even wider and deeper.
"You want me to use this place to protect Layfon?"
She asked this of the Electronic Fairy who was not here.
However, a feeling naturally emerged in Nina, as if the Electronic Fairy of this city were saying to her, 'you hide in here too'.
"Can I entrust Layfon to you?"
Even if she were only being oversuspicious, Nina still shook her head, and spoke a request. The other party didn't have any voice to reply with. However, Nina could feel that the sigh-like atmosphere inside the tunnel became stronger than before.
This produced a sort of feeling in Nina like when she communicated with Zuellni.
No, perhaps it was really the case. Even if she couldn't see the figure of the other party, Nina at this moment was talking with the Electronic Fairy of this city.
That she was able to communicate with this Electronic Fairy, as well as that event she saw involving Schneibel, didn't they have something to do with the Electronic Fairy housed inside her body?
That moment, Nina almost thought of that event badly, and so began self-reflection. Because of the assistance of that Electronic Fairy, Nina had been saved, was able to meet Zuellni, and Layfon, and everyone in the seventeenth platoon, and many, many other people.
If she thought of that event as a bad thing, then every event would be just as bad. Hadn't Melnisc said that kind of thing to her?
"I have a request."
Nina gazed into the tunnel that had appeared there, while saying:
"I cannot hide here. But, Layfon has only been caught up in this battle. Right now I cannot let him realize the truth. So, please."
The atmosphere quieted down.
The lack of a response made Nina feel uncomfortable. Just as she pondered whether to put Layfon in the tunnel, just as she was about to leave, she saw some activity in the interior of the tunnel.
In order to spread open the tunnel, several tubes were crawling towards Nina.
Nina felt that that kind of slow movement was like saying 'Give him here' in a rude tone.
"Th...... thank you."
A scene that she was not used to made Nina feel confused, but she felt very happy in her heart. The Electronic Fairy understood her way of thinking. She carefully and warily passed Layfon over. Unexpectedly, the tubes firmly received Layfon, and carried him into the depths of the tunnel.
During the carrying process, other tubes began sealing the tunnel.
Layfon was gradually obscured by tubes. Apologizing to him, Nina headed towards the battle.
Translator's Notes and References
- See Volume 11 To Conquer the Phalanx!