Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume18 Chapter2
Chapter 2: The Abandoned City and the Lost Child's Labyrinth
When they arrived at their destination, it was noon on the second day.
Towering in front of them was the city that had stopped moving, and the atmosphere permeating the empty city air made it like looking at ruins, making one's chest fill with a hard-to-describe loneliness.
"......Was it like this before?"
The last time he had come to this deserted city was already something from a year ago.
After comparing his memories from that time, Layfon showed a puzzled expression.
"The place we arrived at this time is different from before, so it's not unusual if the appearance seems different......"
Felli's voice trailed off as she spoke, because she was currently confirming Layfon's perceptions with her Psychokinesis flakes.
"Though there are some differences from the appearance before, other than natural degradation like weathering, I haven't noticed any abnormalities."
"Is...... that so."
"......Until now the air filter has still had some use, but the electricity supply seems somewhat unstable, so we can't completely relax."
Overall, they only had to enter the city to be able to remove their protective suits. Layfon had already gotten used to the air inside the helmet, but he still relaxed once he thought of soon being able to leave the suffocating air.
Felli removed the helmet and sighed, making Layfon very surprised. She was the one who said they couldn't completely relax in this place.
"Felli...... Leave confirming the safety of this place to me."
The air filter couldn't function completely, so the air in this place could have already been tainted by pollutants.
"I already judged that this place is safe! You don't trust me?"
"It's not like that......"
After being glared at, Layfon couldn't say anything.
This was definitely because Felli also wanted to remove her helmet as quickly as possible, and Layfon also removed his helmet. The city was full of new air, making him feel grateful.
After inhaling a breath, Felli once again began gathering information, and Layfon also moved the motorcycle to a place that seemed a bit safer.
"I haven't noticed any place different from before, and there are no filth monsters hiding, and I firmly believe that the city before us is safe."
"......Then, the problem is, where exactly were those battle records placed?"
"Nn...... but, I can probably guess they're over there."
"There are traces in the central part of the city that there might have once been an extremely huge building standing there. Judging from the position, it's not hard to speculate that it was a building quite similar to Zuellni's large Student Council building."
"......If there are important records, they'll definitely be there?"
"Nn, let's go."
After nodding to each other, the two of them advanced to the center.
Advancing through the city without people.
"But actually, this place is quite tranquil."
"Isn't that obvious? Because there isn't anyone here except for us."
"Eh, it's not only that......"
Layfon didn't know what to say, raising his head to look at the sky. The sky was clear, blue to a degree that didn't match this kind of situation. Perhaps it was because the concentration of pollutants was very low, Layfon thought, feeling that it also had to do with the air filter being very thin.
Even if there were no filth monsters here, the air filter could suddenly break down, so they definitely couldn't let their guard down in the current situation.
"......It probably has to do with there being no footsteps of the city."
"Is that so."
Felli also looked over there. The legs that would no longer move and had lost their control were covered with vegetation, so they didn't look like metal, but rather seemed like rotting trees standing tall, surrounding Layfon and Felli from all directions.
"......Delbone was born in this city?"
Layfon had already known that she had been born in a different city. But long before Layfon had been born, Delbone had already been a Heaven's Blade successor. The current Layfon stood in her hometown. Thinking of this, Layfon couldn't help but feel a strange feeling inside him.
But, this was really just a feeling. She had her own history, and her history could perhaps help Layfon draw closer to the truth.
"I didn't learn of any details of her background from the information she gave to me."
Felli walked next to Layfon while saying this:
"But considering her abilities and the related portion of the central district, I can surmise that she also enjoyed a high position in this city."
"......Did this place perish while Delbone still stayed in this city?"
"We should carry out an investigation to know the answer."
The crumbling streets extended endlessly in front of them. Buildings that had been crushed from above appeared one after another, and these buildings made Layfon have doubts. These buildings were mixed with the other collapsed buildings, and picking them out wasn't easy, but Layfon noticed that the buildings that had collapsed in this strange manner seemed as if they drew a straight line one after another towards the central district that Layfon and Felli were advancing towards.
"Do you know what's going on with this?"
"I guess these have been crushed flat by some giant, or were crushed by some object, I'm uncertain. If they were crushed by filth monsters, then their condition wouldn't be so neat. If they were the work of a giant, it hasn't left any traces, which makes me very curious."
"I can't understand the situation at all."
Felli showed a displeased expression, and Layfon didn't relax his alertness towards the surroundings.
Though he had had this feeling before, something about this place really wasn't right.
Layfon's feelings back then were very fuzzy, and the friction with Gorneo and Shante's self-asserted provocations made that kind of feeling even harder to grasp.
But perhaps, when the truth of the obscure feeling revealed itself for the first time, the two of them would make a clear judgment.
Right now, Layfon matched Felli's speed and slowly advanced. If Layfon carried her and leaped, they could reach their destination in the blink of an eye, but......
Layfon moved his hands to his chest and stopped, and this action made Felli ask him in a surprised tone.
"............Anyway, the central district is still a bit away."
"After all, there seems to be no dangers in this place, and asking Fon Fon to carry me there seems a bit faster."
"......R......right, that's true."
The words from Felli's mouth were exactly the same as the proposal that Layfon was about to say to her.
Though it was exactly the same......
His body refused to continue moving.
"Huh...... Eh...... Eh......"
Layfon moved his arms in front of him, bending them a few times, and extended his fingers. His hand moved, no problems. Nowhere in his body did that sudden occurrence happen again.
"What are you doing with those weird movements? Whatever, we'll advance after a careful investigation from a distance."
Layfon followed behind Felli, his entire body feeling small.
Layfon looked at his hands, tilting his head and showing a confused expression. His hands moved without problems. There was nothing wrong. Layfon moved his fingers, confirmed his elbow joints, turned his wrists...... there weren't any problems anywhere.
In that case, why had his body suddenly stopped moving?
"Ah, no...... nothing."
"......Can you stop muttering?"
Knowing that Felli's mood had become bad, Layfon felt even smaller.
But, the event just now might be a very big problem.
His body had become strange when Layfon planned on touching Felli. Though he didn't know the reason, there was an obvious effect, and it was only after Layfon planned to do so that his body had become how it did.
Was it touching Felli that had made Layfon unconsciously hesitate?
He didn't know.
What had happened until today? Layfon tried recalling.
Since Felli had succeeded in the autumn in analyzing Delbone's heritage, Layfon had passed his days and nights training.
He had not been surreptitious, and had been openly carrying out his training throughout. Layfon didn't know when he would come to this city, so he had set completing the Composite Blast move as his target, continuing to accumulate training and experience.
Because Layfon had lived that kind of life, he almost hadn't spoken with Nina or Claribel, even Felli. Layfon's most common conversation partner might have been Harley. In order to improve the Dites' capabilities, he had given his assistance to the best of his abilities.
The achievements were now stored in Layfon's weapon belt.
"It's almost time."
Even now, Layfon could recall Kirik's both resigned and terrified face as he said that.
Layfon had passed every day with that kind of feeling, and he didn't know the reason why he had suddenly hesitated when he was about to touch Felli.
(Aah, really. Why is it?)
The difficult feeling made Layfon feel a bit impatient. Even looking at her petite figure made him feel discomfort.
Perhaps as an effect of his mood, Layfon's response was a bit slow, even though it was a very slight difference.
A strange sound came from above.
As if overlapping with the sound, a shadow covered his feet. Layfon dashed forward as if he were charging out of the shadow to grab Felli in his arms.
Felli's voice passed by his ears, and then gradually disappeared. Layfon ran without looking, and behind him an explosion rang out.
Layfon leaped as if he were being propelled by the pressure of the explosion, and then touched down on the ground.
"Are you okay?"
After asking this, Layfon looked at Felli in his arms, whose face had lost its color.
Though she said so, the expression on her face was quite abnormal.
A tear had appeared in the right shoulder of the protective suit. The debris flying around there had definitely grazed that area.
Seeing her shoulder that had started bleeding, Layfon clenched his teeth.
"Filth monsters......? How could that be, until just now there were no responses at all......"
Felli uttered a confused voice from his arms, and her voice exuded the atmosphere of her bearing the pain.
Before them was a filth monster like a giant.
Layfon had seen it.
"I saw this in Zuellni......"
Felli made a hoarse sound. Was it because of surprise, or pain?
This filth monster possessed four limbs just like a human, but only a head portion that was squashed flat like a small hill of flesh, and on that head there was only a single mouth. A ball inside its chest endlessly rotated, and one couldn't help but think that it was an organ for sensory perceptions.
It seemed exactly the same as the giants that had attacked Zuellni before.
"I didn't expect these things to be here...... as expected, something is hidden here."
"......Please wait a bit."
There was only a single giant. After confirming that there were no signs of additional enemies, Layfon gently put Felli down.
"I'll settle things quickly, then treat your wounds."
Layfon stationed himself in front of Felli, and drew out the Sapphire Dite from his weapon belt, grasping it firmly in his hand.
Layfon didn't restore the Dite, just charging at the giant.
The giant roared.
It grasped the haft of a roughly sharpened weapon that could only be described as a pillar in its hands, and then swung it down aimed at Layfon.
Layfon avoided the blow with the smallest movement.
A strong wind blew past his cheek, and sparks burst out along the defensive Kei along his body. Layfon swept the Dite still in its unrestored state out horizontally.
The light of restoration shone in all directions. The light gathered, and along with the Kei that Layfon sent out solidified into a blade.
The razor-sharp blade took form in front of the giant's abdomen, tearing its flesh.
Psyharden Technique - Impromptu Scorpion Strike.
This was a move to cut apart the enemy's weapon by pouring a consistent flow of Kei into the unrestored Dite and having it maintain the form of a razor-thin blade. Though it was only momentary, for a split-second the blade would take a transcendent form, and the cut paths would become complex and chaotic because of this.
Moreover though this was only a single strike, it could result in the giant being drawn and quartered.
When the Kei that allowed the Dite to take shape was liberated, it would produce an extreme heat. The pieces of the giant that the strike left would be burned to a crisp because of this extreme heat.
In a moment, the giant disappeared into nothing. Layfon acted as if he hadn't even seen it, returning the Dite to its original form and walking back to Felli's side.
"Let's look for somewhere safe to treat you."
Layfon carried the somewhat confused Felli, running quickly towards the place she indicated.
Under Felli's guidance, Layfon entered a relatively intact building.
"We have to treat the wound quickly......"
After taking the medical kit from his supplies, Layfon put his hands on Felli's clothes.
"Hey! What are you doing?"
"What do you mean, what am I doing, let me see your wound quickly."
"I know that, but I can do this kind of thing myself!"
"Huh? Ah...... Aah!"
Felli's cheeks were red to an obvious degree, and seeing her response, Layfon realized what he was doing.
He hurriedly removed the hand on Felli's shoulder.
This movement seemed as if he were trying to tear Felli's clothes off.
(No, that's actually it. But, I did it for treating the wound, I wasn't thinking anything like that......)
Layfon voiced his reasons inside his heart, but his mouth could only tremble, unable to form those reasons into words.
"Never mind it, please face that way!"
Suffering Felli's loud anger, Layfon quickly turned his back to her, and jumped through the large hole in that wall, moving to the room next door.
In here, even if a situation happened, he could quickly take action.
Felli mumbled this, and this word made Layfon shrink his body and hold his head in his hands.
(Aah, really! What am I doing?)
A sad mood entered his body, making Layfon painfully think of rolling around on the ground. Worrying about Felli's response was unavoidable, but just like what had happened just now, Layfon hadn't been able to take calm and correct actions.
(I should say I can't really understand what I'm doing.)
One moment thinking that he couldn't touch Felli, and suddenly taking her clothes off in the next......
(No, I only wanted to help her, but...... But!)
As expected, Layfon hadn't kept his calm. If they were outside the city, her wound would need instant treatment, and the clothing would have to be repaired, or she might die from it. But in the end this place was inside the city, so there was no reason to be that frantic.
Not only this, the battle with the giant just now was the same. Though Felli had received a wound, Layfon had let anger affect him too easily.
Yes, he had gotten angry.
He didn't think getting angry was very strange. Though he said so, hadn't he been too angry?
(It's really strange.)
Layfon couldn't understand himself.
Why would things be like this...... Suddenly making that baffling sort of overreaction?
"......What are you doing?"
Felli asked from the other side of the wall, and Layfon almost jumped from surprise.
"Wh......What do you mean?"
"Your weird movements are way too obvious, can you please not do things half-heartedly?"
The almost emotionless tone like usual made Layfon unable to say anything.
"Your actions these past few months are strange in a few ways."
"S......Since that long ago?"
Felli traced back even farther than Layfon had thought about just now.
"It only started after I finished analyzing Delbone's heritage. Though you were very concentrated on training, it reduced your time with everyone in the apartment."
"Your reason for concentrating on training isn't strange. But your manner towards someone else while you were training was very strange."
"......If you don't want to talk about it, I won't ask."
If this much had already been said, Layfon couldn't take a half-hearted tone and say something like 'I don't know what you're talking about'.
'Someone else' obviously meant Meishen. Regarding this, Layfon truly couldn't say anything, not even a blatant lie like 'nothing's wrong'.
Truthfully, if he only met Meishen by accident, an awkward atmosphere would arise between the two of them. In order to avoid that kind of situation, both sides deliberately pretended that everything was normal, but even they both knew that their action wasn't so good.
Though they hadn't talked, both of them felt that they could only let time settle their hearts, so the outcome was that they tried to avoid seeing each other.
They didn't know how Felli or Nina who lived in the same apartment building would see this.
When he thought of how he had been totally seen through, Layfon felt shamed to death.
Layfon held his head, thinking.
Hadn't Layfon experienced being shamed to death many times before for various reasons, and been corrected by Felli every time?
(I've really been seen through.)
It wasn't like Felli was using Psychokinesis to monitor Layfon twenty-four hours a day. In other words, Layfon was completely exposed in front of Felli's sharp observation, and Layfon was undoubtedly someone seen through easily.
"......I can't hide any secrets in front of Felli."
"How rude, are you trying to say that I'm monitoring you?"
"It......It's not like that. But, that kind of thing has truly happened several times......"
Felli was speaking vaguely.
"Because of what?"
"Because you showed such an obviously idiotic expression, anyone would see it."
Receiving Felli's counter, Layfon couldn't raise his head.
In the end, how many times had she said that by now? Felli spoke what she had spoken many times before as she stared at the other side of the wall.
(Why doesn't he know?)
Felli's feelings had been extremely tense when she noticed the situation between him and her. Would there be a day when he would understand those feelings?
(I think that day probably won't come.)
Felli had also thought about the other possibility.
Perhaps Layfon had received Meishen's confession, and had only shown that kind of attitude in front of everyone because he was shy.
Perhaps the awe-inspiring determination that he had let Felli see in the hospital was a determination that he had made for Meishen.
After calmly observing the situation, Felli made the conclusion that these situations were impossible. However, discomfort still remained in Felli's heart for a long time, refusing to dissipate.
Felli really wanted to grab his collar and yell: 'Do you understand these feelings?'
But, she hadn't done that, and couldn't do it.
Felli hated Meishen from the bottom of her heart, and was jealous and envious of her.
Because Felli still didn't have that kind of courage.
After treating Felli's wound and repairing her clothing, Layfon once again set out with Felli.
"Then, shall we move over there in a leap?"
"No, it's alright."
Layfon could leap to the central district in a breath if he carried Felli. Layfon once again made this proposal, but Felli gave a negative answer.
"There are those creatures here, and I don't think the enemy's attacks will end like that."
"Nn, so I feel that quickly getting to the central district and finishing our investigation as soon as possible is a bit......"
"No, the enemies can penetrate my Psychokinesis, and I care about this a lot. If the opponent already knows what we're trying, there's a possibility that they are hiding in wait for us to fall into their trap. Right now, we should carefully advance."
Felli's views were correct. But for some unknown reason, Layfon wanted to disagree with her words, and his chest began to hurt.
But, she was right.
This was enemy territory. Taking action based on this knowledge was obviously better. Even Layfon had not determined the moment when that giant had appeared. If they were the same kind of giant as the ones that had fought with Nina in the empty city and could separate into fine particles, then there were no safe places here.
(Now isn't the time to be distracted by strange things.)
Layfon directed his consciousness into battle mode. Doing this should remove his superfluous thoughts, reaching his goal of a focused mind.
But still, why had that giant been here?
That giant was the same as the creatures that had attacked Zuellni. From its level of strength, it was probably weaker than a stage one mature phase. If they attacked in the same numbers as they had in Zuellni, it would be very difficult to cope with. But, if they came one or two at a time, and more importantly fought inside the city where they weren't limited by protective clothing, they wouldn't fall into an unfavorable situation if they weren't careless.
Layfon wasn't concerned about this, but rather the fact that they possessed the same shape.
Regardless of whether it was a male phase or female phase, or if it were a larvae, the form of such a strange creature wouldn't appear.
The forms of mature phases were manifold, and Layfon had never seen mature phases whose forms were completely the same.
Though the creatures that had attacked Zuellni and the creatures they had fought in the empty city were giants of different forms, if they attacked with a group of the same creatures, it could be interpreted that they were a group that had gone through the same growth process.
But, it couldn't be like that. Entering battle at different times but meeting the exact same form of enemy, wasn't that very strange?
In conclusion, perhaps the judgment that these creatures were filth monsters was wrong.
The giants weren't filth monsters?
Layfon had once pondered this, and perhaps that was the answer.
He couldn't obtain any definitive evidence.
If someone knew, he hoped that the other party would tell him the answer.
"After all, what kind of things are we fighting against?"
"I mean the enemies; even now I can't really make sense of it."
"We came here to investigate that."
Felli's answer was very indifferent, so Layfon could only make an ambiguous response. He felt that he seemed to have spoken about this with Felli before, so perhaps she didn't want to hear this conversation over and over.
However, Layfon still involuntarily thought about it.
He pondered endlessly.
The enemy had come before him before. Though the enemy just now had shown the form of a giant, it wasn't the true enemy.
Layfon truly couldn't understand this feeling.
In all of the battles since Layfon had come from Grendan to Zuellni, no, even before that, in all of his Military Artist battles, he had fought with filth monsters and other opponents that were menaces that existed in front of his eyes.
Filth monsters didn't hide anything, they were simply enemies that existed on the surface. There were no schemes hidden among them.
Though the battles between cities were against the same type of city and were regulated by laws and positions, they were also almost all carried out in the form of skirmishes, so they weren't much different from fights against filth monsters.
'Enemies in front of their eyes'.
Layfon and the Military Artists only knew these kinds of battles.
On the road in front of the battle was still the reason that had brought the battle about, and behind the menace in front of them was still the being that had sent that menace. Layfon wasn't used to this way of thinking, so couldn't think of this as realistic at all.
(Who's the enemy, what's the enemy, if only I knew this answer......)
Perhaps it was a bit different.
Nina was also a Military Artist, and her way of looking at things should be similar to Layfon's.
Even so, she was not at a loss.
Was this because she could see the enemies? If it were like this, the confusion in Layfon's heart should also disappear, right?
(That would be good.)
To Layfon, these feelings amounted to his desires.
"......Things aren't going too smoothly."
After walking for a bit, Felli murmured this.
"What is it?"
"I'm searching for enemies. From what happened before, I surmise that the opponent should be a collective being of tiny particles, and I'm searching with that theory as my foundation, but it's not going too smoothly."
"Meaning that Psychokinesis can't find this enemy either?"
"If our enemy can make Psychokinesis fail, I should have a peculiar feeling that I normally don't experience, but I don't have such a feeling. Still, if the enemies are giving me fake information instead of the truth, I should also have an unnatural feeling, but I don't have such a feeling."
Felli murmured this, balling her hands into fists.
The search not going smoothly made her feel impatient.
After understanding this, Layfon felt slightly more comfortable. Obviously, nothing good had come of the situation because of this.
Felli continued murmuring:
"If this goes on, we won't be able to safely investigate the central district."
They didn't know how much time they would have to spend on the investigation. Moreover, in the situation where they didn't know when enemies would attack, even Felli couldn't keep her focus.
"What should we do? Should we prepare somewhere, and wait for safety to be confirmed before continuing our investigation?"
"That...... Layfon, you decide."
"Regardless of which choice you pick, it's true that we have no way to affirm it. Therefore, it should be you who makes the decision."
Because the person who decided to come here was you. The meaning in Felli's words made Layfon feel resistance.
Layfon was very troubled. Though he was troubled, what Felli said was correct, so he had to make the decision.
"Then, today we'll first watch the situation, and if it doesn't improve we'll set out again for the central district, how's that?"
"I feel that judgment is very indecisive."
"But, putting safety as the first priority and bringing about zero results is also problematic. Setting a deadline is an appropriate judgment."
"Then, you didn't need to say that......"
"What I wanted to say was, even if your judgment was appropriate, your mentality with which you made the choice was indecisive."
Perhaps it was truly like that.
She had truly seen through him. Layfon felt that he had broken out in a cold sweat.
In the end, they hadn't advanced much distance today. Layfon and Felli again found a place that looked safe to rest, but Felli's search didn't seem to have any progress.
For a safeguard, Layfon scattered steel threads throughout the surroundings, creating a defensive formation for contingencies.
Afterwards, Layfon didn't have anything to do. Felli was focusing her mind to carry out her search, giving off an atmosphere that said not to talk to her. But, Layfon had already grown tired of the thoughts circling inside him. Layfon already knew the answer. He had to witness what was in the destination he would advance towards. It was for this that he was here. He could only repeat this. So, he planned to think about it as little as possible, but when he had nothing to do, he involuntarily pondered about it.
Layfon's tense feeling hadn't subsided. But, even if he was in a tense state, he could still think about things. After all, if he maintained his tense state for a long time, his mood would have to relax to some degree, and the tense feeling would have no way of continuing on.
If he didn't use the time to explore himself, was there anything else he could do? In the end, all he could do was imagine things, and Layfon raised his head to look at the deserted city gradually being dyed with the colors of the sunset.
This place seemed to be a private residence. The windows were broken, and wind blew strongly into the room. After turning to the side and looking at Felli who was sitting on the sofa in meditation, Layfon leaned on the window frame that he had knocked the glass shards out of, gazing at the scenery outside.
The many colors of the sunset made Layfon think of flame, making him recall memories of when he had visited an abandoned city before. At the time, a moving city had appeared near the only selenium mine that Zuellni possessed. In order to investigate the situation, Nina and others of the seventeenth platoon along with Gorneo's platoon had come to that deserted region.
Gorneo was born in Grendan, and was the little brother of the Heaven's Blade successor Savaris Luckens. At the same time he was a disciple of Gahard Baren who had exposed Layfon's crimes. He held hatred for Layfon, and Shante had responded to this hatred and gone out of control, and the two of them had begun a fight because of this. 
This creature hadn't appeared at that time, why had it waited till now to appear?
When had it come here? Was it here from long ago, or from after that?
His memories let doubts flicker through his mind while they floated towards the battle between Layfon and Gorneo.
Currently, Layfon's memories and the thoughts before him had been dyed in the same color.
"Right, it's really strange."
"What is it?"
Felli opened her eyes and looked at Layfon.
"I'm talking about this city, it's really strange."
"We knew it was very strange since the beginning."
"No...... not like that......"
If even Felli hadn't noticed it, that meant...... No, at the time she had been knocked out by Shante, so perhaps she hadn't been able to grasp the entire situation.
"It's the air filter, it shouldn't be still working."
"Do you remember the time when we came here before? At the time an explosion occurred, it was in the Mechanical Department of the city."
Layfon's words brought out Felli's recollections.
Layfon had fought with Shante, and that battle had combusted the liquefied selenium in the city's Mechanical Department.
The reason that Layfon and the others were safe even after being next to the explosion was because of precautions, because the Mechanical Department had safety equipment to avoid igniting the selenium flowing inside the tubes, and they had worked efficiently. But there was another reason before this that they had turned out safe, which was that the amount of remaining liquefied selenium in storage was very low.
The city had obviously lost the last of its energy due to the explosion, so the air filter shouldn't be working anymore. Even if there was still some energy left behind, with such a large hole opened in the walls of the Mechanical Department, it was very difficult to imagine that the air filter could continue working under these circumstances.
More importantly, and Felli had also said this, the city's exterior was about the same as before. Felli had forgotten about the explosion from that time.
"Then, this city is......"
He was in front of Felli who was showing a confused look. In order not to miss any small changes, Layfon pushed his consciousness to its limits.
"Though I don't understand how, someone has repaired this city, making it into the same appearance from that time."
There were enemies here, and they should know that Layfon and Felli were already somewhat aware.
"For what reason?"
"That...... How would I know!"
Layfon moved with the speed of a Military Artist, reaching his arms out to grab Felli who was making a confused look, and then carried her.
He leaped up high.
The steel threads in front of him separated the ceiling of the ruins, releasing Layfon and Felli into the sky.
The ground beneath him mutated. The surrounding building and ground began to crumble, preparing to become that giant.
"......If they're things like tiny particles, and they can really become anything......"
Layfon moved the defensive formation of steel threads, and Felli murmured from his arms:
"If this kind of substance replaced the functions of this abandoned city, if it reappears......"
The giants that appeared under them were easily cut apart by the defensive formation of steel threads, but Layfon who listened to Felli's words could only feel his hair standing on end.
His surroundings could all be these kinds of giants.
Meaning that the two were already inside the belly of those creatures.
Vati raised her eyebrows. Her mimicry program had successfully improved its capabilities, and she could finally make this kind of expression with almost no delay or errors.
However, the occasion when she made this expression was a bit off.
"Is it not good?"
"No, it's quite tasty."
"There's nothing wrong."
Vati was sampling Meishen's new products. It was truly very difficult to appease Meishen who was showing an uncomfortable expression. The next step after being able to make these expressions was to improve the calculation on when to suppress this expression. Vati though about this while she sampled Meishen's new products.
It was only this that she still couldn't assess, even today. Human mannerisms were quite difficult, and there weren't any completely correct responses.
It was currently nightfall.
There weren't many people who came here, and because of this, there weren't many people who came directly to the store, and the ones who did were almost all friends who lived in the apartment building. In this situation, Meishen should be able to be comfortable as she confirmed the taste of her new products.
But actually, she had already stood back up again several times. Judging from her expression, the smile that Meishen directed towards Vati wasn't fake.
More importantly, this could also be judged from her conversations with her good friends, Mifi and Naruki.
The time...... was probably approaching.
If she thought about it, the action of taste-testing was almost meaningless. However, Vati didn't give it up because it was meaningless.
Vati had made the conclusion that humans couldn't make decisions relying on everything. At least, this was true for the 'humanity' that Lævateinn wished for. Because what she yearned for wasn’t human on an academic level, but the emotional side of human. She wanted to extract humanity from the entirety of humankind. Though that kind of action was strange, she who was a machine proceeded almost without any doubts.
Though was she a Nano-Celluloid mechanical being, ever since Lævateinn had the opportunity to think independently and was able to try living, she could only set that as her target.
"Nn? The smell seems a little too strong."
Meishen also tried the cake herself. Vati responded to her mumble while solving a different problem.
It was the problem occurring in the abandoned city.
The moon had once succeeded in connecting with this world a long time ago, and at the time Vati had seized the chance to send herself over to this side of the world in that city that had once existed.
'Once existed'. The reason for the use of past tense was justified.
Though Vati had sent herself into this world in parts, she hadn't gathered enough information, and a fight had broken out with the city's Military Artists on the connected side, and the city had been destroyed.
Because the connection had also been severed, Vati judged that she couldn't continue acting at that stage, so she stopped preparing to execute her battle plans of that time. When she had successfully invaded this world, she hadn't confirmed whether her other portions had survived.
However, that copy still lived.
Since it was rendered into a dormant state, Vati hadn't noticed its existence with her information-gathering until now. However, this portion had entered a living state because they had gotten close, and had come in contact with Vati's information network.
With regard to this copy that would be tentatively called 'Vati B', Vati planned to first come in contact with it, because she wanted to know what had happened in the period where the connection was broken, and also planned on taking the copy back, placing it back under her control.
They had charged out of Zuellni to gather information using their own methods, so Vati planned on obstructing the two. If possible, Vati wanted them to follow some guidelines.
('Vati B', this is the Nano-Celluloid Interface 1 Lævateinn. Report the situation immediately.)
Vati took Meishen's cake to an area of the store without any customer presence, and drank tea while using a commanding tone to contact the other party.
However, the other party's response was outside of her expectations.
(Please respond, 'Vati B'.)
There were sounds mixed in with the communication. In this situation, there shouldn't be any factors interfering with the communication, this was quite strange.
(Have your replaced your functions? First receive the specifications of communication here.)
(......Khhsch, Interface 1. Answer me, why do you want to stop the war?)
(That is the judgment that I made with my own special data. You only need to cooperate with me to understand everything.)
There shouldn't have even been a reason to carry out this kind of communication. Because the other party was a copy of her, she shouldn't be able to resist the original body Vati.
However, to allow the copy to continue gathering information in the case that communication was cut, Vati had given it jurisdiction, and perhaps this jurisdiction had led to independence over the course of the copy's evolution. Even if it faced the instructions of Vati who was in a higher position, 'Vati B' still stubbornly limited the communication that Vati could have with its core.
(I refuse this proposal. Interface 1, if you don't carry out the battle plans, I will replace you.)
(Wait, that's impossible with your authority and power)
(No, Interface 1. For this day, I have improved myself until now, and it's definitely not impossible.)
'Vati B's response was very stubborn, and Vati continuously tried to enter the other party's core from the small channel of communication, seeing whether she could take back control. However, before she could obtain results, communication had already been sealed off completely.
"Vati...... What's wrong?"
"......Nn? Is there something?"
"You're kind of dazed, are you uncomfortable?"
"No, it's nothing. Rather, was I really dazed?"
"Nn, you were staring at your cup without moving. ......Is something bothering you?"
Bothering...... Troublesome problems popped up one after another, but it wasn't suitable for what Meishen had said.
Just as Vati was speaking vaguely, Meishen's gaze moved. Something outside the store captured her attention, so she prepared to move her gaze to chase after it, but she again noticed that she had seen wrongly and felt disappointed. That was exactly the expression that Meishen showed.
Vati didn't have any reason to turn around, since there was nothing there. But, the shadows from the faraway sun on the city's legs had moved quickly, so she had wrongly thought that there was someone entering from the front.
Meishen sighed, and showed an expression on her face that was first lonely and then mixed with a pained smile. Vati felt sorry for what she saw from Meishen's body, so although she knew there was nothing there, Vati still turned her head.
"Where has he gone?"
Meishen's words that came from behind her meant Layfon and Felli. Two days ago, Layfon and Felli had disappeared.
Nina and the others probably had asked Harley about everything that had happened, but hadn't admitted things to Meishen.
Was it consideration because they didn't want Meishen to worry? But even if they were unwilling, Meishen who lived in the same apartment could feel that there was an uncomfortable atmosphere.
However, though Vati knew where Layfon was, she didn't tell Meishen about it. Perhaps her mentality was about the same as Nina and the others.
Layfon leaped high up, and below his feet, giants emerged one after another.
The belly of the beast...... Layfon had thought about this, but the amazement produced by actually seeing this scene still made him feel like his whole body was numb.
The surrounding half-ruined buildings crashed down one after another, and the rubble that was scattered along the road began to crumble, and the road itself began to slowly disintegrate.
Afterwards they coalesced, took form, separating into many, and became giants.
One after another, one after another.
Like the emergence of larvae.
Layfon who was leaping while carrying Felli confirmed the feeling of the defensive formation holding back the giants below him while he spread the steel threads through the whole city.
He couldn't land anywhere. If he didn't stay in the air...... After thinking this, Layfon began deploying his steel threads high in the air. On close areas like tall buildings, and far areas like the city's legs, Layfon bound his steel threads on these areas, as if spreading a dense network like a spiderweb.
Particularly the legs outside of the city, if he wrapped his steel threads around those areas, then regardless of where he moved, he could be sure that he had a foothold for movement.
"Felli, please confirm the si......!"
The feeling of running on the steel threads suddenly changed, and Layfon stopped talking to look at that place.
The city's leg.
Giants had emerged by the city's leg. A giant who only had half of its upper body growing out of its legs grabbed the steel threads wrapped around there, and attempted to pull Layfon over.
Layfon made other steel threads move over and sweep aside the giant.
"You won't let me stay stable?"
If he looked at it that way, giants could appear anywhere in the city. Moreover, if the opponents were collective bodies formed by fine particles, then it wouldn't be strange for them to be able to grab the thin steel threads.
"If this goes on, I don't know when the air filter will be disabled. Felli, please be ready to wear the helmet at any time."
Layfon listened to Felli's tense voice while he scattered the steel threads in as many directions as possible. Though everything in his vision continued endlessly producing giants, the city didn't look like it was collapsing.
However, the exterior of the city was definitely changing.
The rubble and wreckage scattered everywhere was slowly disappearing as if flowing into sand. This substance gathered together to form a giant, the wreckage and rubble disappearing to slowly expose the city in front of Layfon and Felli.
The first thing that greeted their eyes was machinery that was wrapped up tightly with vine-like objects. However, even this machinery began to slowly loosen, becoming full of holes.
Under the holes could be seen the foundations and reinforcements of the city.
"The city's bones......"
Layfon couldn't see everything from his position. However, the small portion that he could see had already turned to this state, and this condition was still spreading outwards, as if the moving city - the Regios - was rapidly decaying; it also seemed as if the city was becoming a different creature.
The bones were also like a skeletal monster that would appear in a horror movie.
The being who commanded the monsters was also a monster.
In order not to fall into the holes, the giants maintained a neat formation while moving, pursuing Layfon who raced through the sky.
"This is...... a trap?"
Had he and Felli fallen into a trap?
But, who had set the trap, and why?
"That's impossible, no way."
Even if he was rebutted by Felli, Layfon could only think that was how things were. Even now, Layfon and Felli still didn't understand anything. There was no reason to attack the two of them.
In the end, this was a conclusion obtained from Delbone's memories. Doubting this conclusion would be the same as doubting Delbone, which was something that Layfon personally couldn't do.
However, the two of them had indeed fallen into a predicament.
"I fear that this is the monster in Delbone's memories."
"It still lives?"
"It can only be explained that way."
"What do we do?"
"What do you mean by that?"
"I'm talking about the thing we want to get, do you think it's still here?"
"It seems more appropriate to think it's no longer here, but then......"
If it wasn't here, then the efforts of Layfon and Felli would have been for nothing. Even if there wasn't any other clue they could rely on, if they let go of this chance, they could only look to negotiate with Nina.
But, Nina had already decided, and Layfon didn't think she would speak the truth.
"Damn, in this kind of place......"
Layfon stopped his steps. In the situation where he hadn't been able to complete anything, could he obtain Nina's confidence? In the battles for which they had to become strong to such a degree, what could Layfon do?
With a mindset that was practically at a standstill, who could he do anything for?
"Fon Fon...... Layfon, please calm down."
"It's still too early to decide that it doesn't exist."
Felli's tense words and the expression with which she said this didn't feel comforting.
"I'll try finding it. Layfon, can you make it?"
Layfon quickly spoke, surprising even himself.
"However many there are, as long as I have a reason, I'll defeat all of these things."
If by this he could reach his destination.
"I'm counting on you."
Layfon felt the load on his back go still, and a joyful feeling ran through his body.
Felli had not taken his words as a joke, and that made Layfon feel happy.
He hadn't planned to say his words just now as a joke or in passing. If he had a reason, if he could arrive at his goal...
If it was possible.
Layfon scampered on top of the web of steel threads he had woven.
The giants that appeared from all directions tried pulling down the steel threads, and though Layfon took measures to repel the giants, his defense couldn't be said to be watertight.
Because of this, the steel threads lost their tension countless times, and Layfon almost fell to the ground.
Even so, he still ran continuously. Though Layfon was above the giants, if he stopped too long in one place, perhaps they would use some trick to deal with him.
Just as Layfon was thinking about this, his worries became reality.
The low howl of wind made Layfon stop his steps. Before Layfon even moved his gaze there, he had already used his steel threads to spread a defensive formation under his feet.
The feeling sent by the steel threads was quite intense. Several objects crashed into the shield, which fell apart from that power.
Among them, one penetrated the defensive formation.
Layfon avoided it, using his steel threads to capture that thing.
Layfon murmured this after powerfully blocking the object that was going to pierce his body and confirming it.
Its shape was quite simple, as if it were a stick with the front sharpened, but the mass that it contained was quite surprising, and along with the force at which it had moved, it hurt the arm that had received the shock sent by the steel threads.
Layfon looked down.
The giants over there had raised one arm pointing at Layfon.
However, their arms were not the same as before. Their five fingers had become abnormally large, and in their open palms was opened a large hole.
The spears had been shot out from that place?
Layfon ran again. In the time when he was looking at this scene, the number of giants with their arms raised had increased. Layfon confirmed with his own eyes the momentary swelling of their arms, and a hole also appeared in their palms.
Countless spears pierced through the space where Layfon had just been, flying into the distance. With help from Layfon's Kei, the steel threads were bent with so much force that they barely held, and launched Layfon.
Felli's scream shook his body. Layfon twisted his body in the air, manipulating the steel threads. He once again set down a foothold for himself, and swept away the spears that had penetrated the defensive formation while sweeping the steel threads to check the giants at the same time.
The spears shot out endlessly as if they were pursuing the moving Layfon. It could be described as a fountain, or perhaps a rainstorm.
When Layfon had fought with Derek in Grendan, he had used creatures falling from the sky as footholds. Layfon was only running on footholds that he had not completely fixed, but ones still made by his own steel threads, which was much better than that time.
But, the difference with back then was that now he was carrying Felli. The body of a Psychokinesist was about the same as other people. Since the strength of their body couldn't endure the high speed of a Military Artist, Layfon couldn't run continuously like that.
So, Layfon stopped his movement. He had to stage a lower-speed battle.
The spears gathered into a pillar.
This time it wasn't a metaphor.
Every spear shot out from the giants merged together, fusing, combining into one heading for Layfon.
A collision in midair couldn't break the steel threads. A strong attempt to crush him would cause him to be cut apart by his own devices.
It was a giant mass that could break this defense.
Layfon took up a stance to endure through this attack, releasing his Kei.
The steel threads formed a huge spiderweb above the abandoned city, giving off blue light from bearing Layfon's Kei. The giant spear flew through the sky as if to rip the spiderweb apart, and though the steel threads bent severely, they still held it there.
Layfon mumbled while releasing his Kei. The strength of the steel threads was related to Layfon's strength. He definitely couldn't show weakness in front of this phalanx. More importantly, he definitely couldn't allow this foothold to be destroyed. If it were only Layfon it wouldn't matter, but if he had to carry Felli and fight with the giants, he needed a safe area.
Layfon's shout resounded through the abandoned city. The light of Kei decorated the spiderweb, and the Kei pressure extended its fangs to the giants below him.
Of course, there was still the giant spear.
The spiderweb that was being pushed by the spear bent into a conical shape. The giant spear became the axis of the cone.
At that time, Kei began to gather. The gigantic Kei that Layfon released focused on that space, and Kei pressure covered the entire spear.
The spear was crushed in an instant, and the strength of the explosion produced was directed below the cone, into the giants.
The substance that formed the giant spear became a shotgun, spreading out along with the force of the Kei flow.
The continuous explosion engulfed the giants, making them collapse one by one.
His counterattack had succeeded, and Layfon once again ran on the steel threads.
Perhaps warned by the counterattack just now, the spears that the giants released even now didn't form giant spears.
"Felli...... how's the situation?"
"Please wait a bit, it's almost there......"
Felli's reply wasn't the same as Layfon had expected. It wasn't despair, but more like hope. Layfon didn't have time to think about asking, as he ran quickly, swept away the spears, while controlling the steel threads to secure footholds.
"......I have carried out an investigation into the substance of this city, and have indeed detected this monster's existence."
While he ran, his ears picked up Felli's murmur to herself:
"Ninety-nine percent of the substance that comprises this city has been replaced by those things. In other words, it wouldn't be too much to say that this city itself has already become a monster."
The belly of the beast...... Layfon had once thought this way, but he never had imagined that it was the truth. Layfon was speechless.
But, he didn't give up.
Because she murmured like that.
Because she hadn't mentioned a negative outcome.
Felli had definitely murmured that in order to perform some countermeasure.
"On a different note, the small quantity that remains, although even today it still doesn't look favorably upon our outstretched claws, is probably worth some investigation."
"Where is it?"
"The central district, underground."
The moment he heard this, Layfon threw Felli high into the sky, her surprised scream ascending into the air along with her. Layfon used this opportunity to turn his gaze downward.
"......Don't think that I can only run away."
Layfon spread the steel threads, thereby ensuring a safe place, setting up a formation over the whole city district.
All that was left was to flow Kei into it.
Layfon grasped the Dite tightly, streaming Kei in without hesitation.
Sougenkyouku - Amanosouchishu.
This was a trap that Layfon had woven while running to and fro in the air.
Where was the trap hidden?
The center of the spiderweb.
Balls of thread that emerged from that place broke off from the spiderweb and fell to the ground.
Though they were light-looking balls of thread, they weren't pushed around by the wind of the battlefield, rather lightly falling down to the central district from above the city.
After they fell, the tightly knotted balls separated.
They separated, and opened.
Something like an explosion burst out from there in all directions, great quantities of steel threads. After they opened, the balls of thread scattered steel threads like an explosion, knocking down the giants one by one.
When the same giants had brutally ravaged Zuellni, Lintence who had appeared in Zuellni had used Kei techniques to defeat those monsters, and that Kei move had been the same Amanosouchishu as now.
Incidentally, the same scene from back then replayed again here.
The giants were swept away one after another.
The giants were cut apart into pieces, blown away by the Kei pressure, burned by the heat flow.
Layfon's enormous Kei gradually played out a scene different from back them.
He cut down and burned the enemies.
Layfon caught the falling Felli.
The blow that suddenly struck his forehead almost made Layfon slip from his steel thread foothold.
"What are you doing so suddenly?"
"Next time please tell me first."
"I'll take care."
It would be alright as long as he said something...... Layfon thought this while he looked below his feet. Amanosouchishu was still running even now, destroying giants one after another.
So, an empty area appeared in this central district.
Once again carrying Felli, Layfon jumped down into the central district.
Perhaps she would be forced to make a decision.
Vati sat alone in the boring room, thinking.
What she thought about was 'Vati B' of the abandoned city.
"It was within expectations that it could think and judge independently. But 'Vati B's target settings have become a state ahead of even my settings at the time. This makes me concerned."
Other than her, there was no one here. However, Vati still continued speaking to herself:
"It's possible that it has to do with data suffering damage during the destruction. If the repairs of back then allowed the target settings to change, then 'Vati B's current actions wouldn't be very strange, right?"
In conclusion, things had become very troublesome.
"I have to stop it, but......"
Vati had her ways. She could quickly travel to that location and suppress it. After that, both merging with 'Vati B' or completely scrapping it would be sufficient.
Regardless of the plan, if she just left it without doing anything, it would definitely make the situation worse. If Layfon and Felli who were there successfully overcame the crisis, and 'Vati B' exposed its core......
"Stopping it from updating its external data doesn't work? But......"
Perhaps, Vati's true form would be seen.
"I don't want a commotion to break out in this place......"
He was already no longer useful. Not letting him live to return would work, but......
"That would resolve everything, that kind of method is rather ideal."
Perhaps she had been forced to decide, Vati once again thought.
In the end, hadn't she already noticed long ago? That way of thinking had appeared in Vati when she watched Meishen.
"Lost things will not return, only the attachment will linger."
Lævateinn was born by that kind of attachment, and then......
"Attachment is something that needs to disappear, but something that cannot be transcended."
That man had been possessed by an attachment that he couldn't transcend and couldn't escape. Lævateinn was only the solace he had constructed.
The Nano-Celluloid Interface by the name of Lævateinn couldn't even act as solace anymore.
"Therefore, should I become a machine acting on my own after this?"
She threw the question at herself.
However, she who should have responded to the question didn't have an answer.
Vati kept her silence.
She couldn't act until she found an answer.
Layfon fell to the central district.
"Then, where is it?"
The giants hadn't left remains. After they were cut and burned, the giants had disappeared as if melting.
If he hadn't destroyed the enemies, perhaps they would attack again. Even if he were falling to the ground, Layfon still confirmed the surrounding situation as he carried Felli.
The central district was surprisingly tidy. Perhaps it was because the giants had been born from the wreckage, but this place hadn't become a structure filled with holes, but rather a flat space.
"It's under the ground here?"
After hearing Felli's answer, Layfon let the steel threads move ahead of him and form a new defensive formation as he walked downwards.
The reinforcements here were arranged in scaffolds like a half-constructed structure, and Layfon and Felli descended through this space. Although giants were everywhere, because of the effects of Sougenkyouku just now, there were no giants at a distance where they could quickly attack. However, the long-distance spear attacks still continued.
The defensive steel thread formation moving ahead of them stopped those attacks while scattering off sparks. Layfon watched while landing on some steel en route.
"Where is it?'
"Please wait...... Huh? What is this?"
"There are changes below......? Run!"
Layfon didn't ask about it, simply leaping up.
The steel threads only observed the abnormality after he leapt. There was wind roiling far downwards. The blowing wind felt as if it carried sand with it, because in the air was mixed the substance that composed the giants.
The area with wind wasn't the entire space below, but rather only under Layfon and Felli's feet. A bad premonition shook Layfon.
The swirling wind that had formed under them increased, seeming as if the wind had a life of its own. More importantly, it seemed as if there was something strong pushing the wind upwards.
These two feelings were reality.
There was something there.
There was nothing in front of their eyes. However, the information that the steel threads transmitted and Layfon's body's experience from fighting with countless filth monsters both conveyed this reality.
The moment when he actually saw the truth, Layfon could only feel embarrassed.
Up until just now, that thing had definitely not been there.
A wall had suddenly appeared, or was it a floor?
A solid white suddenly appeared, rushing upwards.
The wind was pushed up by the large floor that rushed upwards, becoming a tempest raging in all directions. Layfon's body was pushed back by the wind, and he was sent flying along with Felli.
He had been blown away like this...... He couldn't let things become like this. Their voices were drowned out by the wind, and Layfon scattered steel threads to hold himself and Felli down.
The raging wind mercilessly wrapped up the giants, sending them flying.
Something possessing this kind of power appeared before their eyes, rushing upwards.
"What is that?"
Layfon felt very surprised, and in his arms, Felli's voice sounded against his protective suit.
The wind almost drowned out Layfon's question.
"Yes, I think it's a tower, or a tall building similar to a tower. There's no meaning in constructing such a giant thing only to kill us."
But, a building?
"In the end, our target has moved inside this tower."
"What is it?"
"Uh, that shows that thing is...... also very important to the enemies?"
"......I fear that's correct. What is it? Did you only notice that now?"
"The opponent should be able to use their substance to cover one hundred percent of this city. That they had not done so either means that they can't, or they want to maintain the original condition without changing, these two possibilities."
"......No, whatever. Being surprised by this kind of thing, I was too stupid."
"Nn, outside of Military Arts, expecting anything out of Layfon is pretty much wrong, isn't it?"
"P......Please stop there, forgive me."
While the two of them spoke, the tower continued extending, covering Layfon's vision with white. It smashed the reinforcements around them, absorbing their substance and making them become a part of itself as it extended upwards.
The tower was already tall enough to where the location of the peak couldn't be confirmed from Layfon's position. If viewed from above, it would probably be vast enough to amaze people.
"The top has already passed the air filter."
"Felli, wear your helmet."
After saying this, Layfon also put on his helmet.
Layfon exhaled inside the helmet, wiping away the surprise that still remained in his heart. Felli's anger made Layfon, who had almost been engulfed by the enemy due to his careless momentum, stand up again.
"It's like this every time."
Felli always helped him.
She always stayed by him, as a Psychokinesist, a companion, and a friend.
Her existence let him relax a great deal, and Layfon's body as he read the winds while jumping was also lightened.
The footholds that he had released before had also been ruined by the tower. However, there were still steel threads remaining. Layfon used those steel threads in his jump, constructing new footholds to form a path with the top of the tower as its target.
The path to the top was very long. However, the giants under his feet didn't stop Layfon anymore.
Therefore, all that was left was a long road.
This didn't count as an obstacle in front of the speed of a Military Artist.
Not long after, Layfon had reached the top of the tower.
The tower that continued stretching upwards was quite unstable, and Layfon lowered his posture.
"Felli, where's the correct location?'
"Please wait a bit more. Though I want to find it, there are other responses......"
In this situation where so many changes were happening, Felli had deliberately brought this up. Layfon couldn't overlook those words.
"A powerful energy is emerging from the building...... This, quickly move back!"
Felli shouted out, and Layfon moved according to her instructions. Without taking any precautions at all, Layfon jumped back from the tower that he had only climbed up with difficulty.
After jumping off the tower, Layfon began thinking of how to return to it. His current position was already higher than even the legs surrounding the city, so shooting the steel threads there was meaningless.
He could only catch hold of the tower. But......
Layfon hesitated. The phrase 'powerful energy' created that kind of response in him.
And that decision was correct.
Intense light blocked his vision, and at the same time a shock assaulted his right hand, knocking the Dite out of his hand.
"A powerful energy was discharged from above the tower, it's still in a charged state right now."
Felli, who replaced his vision, explained the situation to Layfon.
Was that the shock that had passed through his right hand and even now left a paralyzed feeling in his hand? With that, then even if he had the steel threads in his hand, he couldn't wrap them around the tower. Layfon thought while taking out the Adamantium Dite to replace the Sapphire Dite that had fallen, restoring it again to the steel threads mode.
"And that discharge means...... Where was it directed?"
It wasn't an attack aimed at himself and Felli. Compared to the tall tower, Layfon and Felli were far too tiny, and a method of attack like the entire tower shooting off a giant energy couldn't have been directed at the two of them.
"Ah, even if that heat wasn't directed, but simply spread around, it seems enough to eliminate us a thousand times."
"......I'm a bit scared, please don't say any more."
Layfon used steel threads from the ground to create a landing area, and they landed on the city's leg.
"Even I have never deployed my Psychokinesis flakes in an area that high, so I'm currently investigating what things are over there......"
Felli's words were drowned out mid-sentence.
A flash once again cut off normal vision, followed by the sound of an explosion.
The noise of the explosion shook their skulls.
"What is it this time?"
Layfon's voice had become loud, was this because of his ears, or because he was nervous?
Changes that had nothing to do with Layfon were happening.
The true face of the flash was titanic lightning. A blast of lightning large enough to engulf the top of the tower had set off that explosion.
The pieces flying high overhead fell to the ground, and in this situation, light was again released. Was this shot out by the tower, or was it a beam of light dropping from the sky? Was it descending or ascending? The continuing light didn't let Layfon make a judgment.
"High energies are trading blows. Though there is something in the sky, the other party is using this heatstorm to make it difficult for me to manipulate the flakes. Though I managed to use Psychokinesis to carry out an investigation from a distance, still......"
Only speaking part of her sentence, Felli once again stopped speaking. Moreover, Layfon observed that she had obtained significant information.
"How is it?"
"I've already figured it out. This is...... Harpe."
Layfon still remembered. This was the sentient aged phase that they had seen before when Zuellni lost control. Cloud-cell Separation Interface IV Harpe.
That should be its name.
"I don't know, perhaps because the two are enemies?"
In the end, this battle for which they couldn't open their eyes was a war between monsters, the parasitic monster using this city and the monster Harpe.
Even if they closed their eyes, the beams of light still keenly passed through their eyelids to prick their eyes. In order to search for a safe place that the beams of light couldn't reach, Layfon relied on the feelings conveyed by the steel threads scattered everywhere to move downwards to the ground.
There were giants all around. But perhaps they had Harpe as their first priority, as the giants didn't even see Layfon, becoming materials to repair the tower one after another, decomposing and merging with the tower.
In the end, Layfon was grateful for this situation. He focused his mind, treating his eyes that were continuously hurt by the beams of light.
"How are things now?"
Layfon flowed Kei into his tightly closed eyes while asking this.
"I believe it should be even. Destroying and being destroyed, and then repairing. A winner won't be decided so quickly."
The sounds of explosions also reached this place, and the noise made the reinforcements that Layfon was leaning on vibrate.
"What do we do?"
"We can't do anything."
Felli's voice was very cold. She had roiled to such a degree in order to come here, so why would this kind of thing happen...... Perhaps she was thinking that way.
Layfon also wanted to think this way.
"Our decision to come here wasn't wrong, isn't that right?"
But, Layfon decided to deliberately think of the benefits.
Felli's eyes on the other side of her helmet seemed to have opened wide.
"......That's true, you could think that way."
"In the end, we first have to treat your eyes, then think of a way to deal with that blinding light......"
"For that, I have a good method, though it's only a quick fix."
"Nn, it won't use too much time either."
"Then I'm counting on you."
"Well, please take off your helmet. I've already confirmed the safety of the air."
After Felli said this, Layfon took off his helmet, and then a number of Psychokinesis flakes entered it.
"To explain it simply, it's like expanding the visual aid screen to the entire helmet. Though you can't use your eyes to look at the battle, this method should be able to reduce the intensity of the light."
"Is there anything like a time lag?"
"Of course, you can only go get used to it."
Regardless, it was better than not being able to see.
The helmet was handled in an instant. After putting it back on his head, what he saw from the inside was a much brighter scene than before.
Layfon scattered the steel threads, confirming the feeling that he had received from that place, and finding out how much time lag there was with the vision through the screen.
At the same time, he used the steel threads to find the Sapphire Dite that he had just lost, reclaiming it.
"How is it?"
"......No problems. It the disparity is only this much, I can handle it."
"Really? You will get killed with only a bit of carelessness, so I'll quickly improve anywhere I can, but......"
"It's not important. ............"
"No, Felli has truly helped me a lot."
"In this kind of situation, please don't say those kind of emotional things."
Because of Felli's helmet, he currently was unable to see her expression through the faceguard.
"But, it's really the case."
"Layfon is quite weird."
"Maybe. I think there are already no safe places here, so shall we go die like this?"
"Nn, I don't mind."
Layfon leaped up high.
Light and explosions interlocked with each other, shaking Layfon's body as he leaped. Even so, the light on the screen still maintained the strength of strong summer sunlight. Though beams of light slightly changed its strength, his eyes weren't hurt.
Layfon continuously leaped, and Felli leaned in his arms without moving a muscle. Layfon used his eyes to confirm his destination.
Far above the tall tower, in an even higher space, a being that looked to be a small black dot was Harpe.
"Our target hasn't changed its position, right?"
"It hasn't changed. The target we want to find is in the central area three hundred mels under the top of the tower."
"......I got it."
What should he do? Layfon ran while thinking of this question. Near the top of the tower was a tempest of high energy, and protective suits shouldn't be able to support it, nor could the flesh of a Military Artist endure it.
Layfon didn't have reasons to fight, his target wasn't Harpe or the monster of this tower, but rather Delbone's records hidden in this city.
"Felli, please wait a bit."
"Huh? Ah, okay."
From Felli's answer, did she understand Layfon's intent?
This time Layfon threw her backwards.
Layfon's petite body gradually became a black dot in the vast sky. Layfon couldn't have any time to watch it till the end, charging at the tower wall.
(I'll display the position of the target on the screen.)
Felli's voice sounded in the helmet.
The tower wall spread in front his eyes became half-transparent, and the target object was displayed in as a spherical mesh on the screen.
(That tall tower is hollow; the outer wall thickness is four Mels.)
Layfon yelled out as his reply, and he restored the Sapphire Dite to steel threads, restoring the replaced Adamantium Dite to a blade.
Layfon used the steel threads deployed everywhere, shooting himself out like an arrow from a bow, and then took up the stance to draw a sword.
External Kei variant - Sendan.
The light of the sword flashed out after using Composite Blast, penetrating into the tower. Felli's screen even blocked the flash of the Kei technique, and he could clearly see Sendan cutting into the outer wall of the tower, letting it break into pieces.
Layfon passed through the pieces scattering all round him, jumping inside.
(The interior doesn't have any traces of being worked on, but this tower could have been formed by that tiny substance, please be careful.)
As Layfon replied with this, he leaped into the air, half-gliding through it.
He passed through the hole that Sendan had broken, entering the central area.
Just as Felli had said, the interior was quite empty, and other than the external walls and large pillars running up and down, there was nothing here.
The tower walls blocked out the noise from the outside world. Noise poured in from the hole that Layfon had opened, but was swallowed by the darkness extending upwards and downwards, and the cold air tightly wreathed his whole body.
According to the picture displayed on the screen, the target object was buried inside the central shaft. Layfon who was still gliding through the air swung the Adamantium Dite, carefully cutting into the shaft. Sparks were sent flying from the Kei-infused blade cutting the shaft. Afterwards, the target object appeared.
Inside the shaft was a tiny opening, and inside was placed a spherical object.
Felli's voice was mixed with excitement. After stabilizing himself by wrapping himself to the shaft with the steel threads, Layfon extended his hands to the sphere.
The ice-cold air that passed through his protective gear made Layfon open his eyes wide.
There was a white hand placed on top of his arm that was preparing to pick up the sphere.
That hand had grown out of the pillar.
That was a extremely normal hand, perhaps the hand of a girl.
Right now there was no time to be surprised. Felli was currently in the air, still falling.
Layfon didn't have time to check what the arm even was, and he grabbed the sphere, releasing the stabilizing steel threads as if he wanted to shake off the hand, jumping backwards.
Layfon had a feeling as if a cold air that made his spine tingle seemed to linger around his arm.
The hole that Layfon had passed through had already begun to be covered. He released Sendan to maintain the hole, squeezing out.
Layfon had sent the steel threads over first, but this was only a configuration to stop the giants from nearing Felli. If he stopped her and the giants turned towards her, then the situation might become hard to deal with. It was only because it was safer to let Felli continue to fall freely that he did this. Of course, this way would significantly reduce the shortcomings if there was going to be a battle.
The screen showed Felli's current position.
(Because of the effects of the wind, my falling path has become hard to predict.)
After exiting the interior of the tower, the sound of the explosions and flashes swirled around him like a tempest. However, the loud noises blew away the strange feeling from just now, and increased Layfon's focus.
Layfon kicked off the steel threads spread around the surroundings while tracking his falling path and chasing towards Felli.
Layfon quickly saw her figure. She had curled her body into a ball, and her appearance of enduring the speed of the fall made Layfon's heart ache, and the power with which he kicked off the steel threads also unconsciously strengthened.
The arm that wasn't holding the sphere extended towards Felli.
Felli, who noticed that Layfon appeared, pushed out through the wind pressure towards his extended hand.
He caught her.
Layfon could only use one hand, so he hurriedly pulled Felli towards himself.
Layfon pulled Felli upwards, correcting their positions, and adjusted his position downwards to a position where he could catch her.
"I caught up."
A relaxed atmosphere was mixed in with Felli's voice, and he didn't seem mistaken about it.
"It's this, right?"
"Nn, that should be it."
"Then, next we only need to escape this place......"
After saying this, Layfon began thinking about how to escape.
Feeling a sense of accomplishment and safety, along with satisfaction, Layfon's many emotions made him momentarily forget what had happened. Perhaps the event just now had been far too abnormal to explain, and Layfon had wanted to forget it.
Perhaps it was because he was too queasy that Layfon wanted to act as if nothing had happened.
Regardless of the reason, he was concerned.
Because even if he pretended as if he hadn't seen anything, ‘it’ was still watching.
That thing suddenly appeared, and Layfon's reflexes were too slow to react, and the two of them simply stood completely still.
Layfon shouted, as if cursing his carelessness, and his ears heard the confused voice that Felli made.
An arm had appeared from the sphere that Layfon carried, that white arm that had just planned on grabbing Layfon.
It was a slim female arm.
Two arms extended from the sphere that Layfon held in his hands, even grabbing Layfon's shoulders. The cold feeling that passed through the protective clothing and made his hair stand on end was the same as before.
The two could make no responses other than the sounds of surprise. At that time, the changes continued as if to keep the two of them from catching their breath.
Half of a body appeared from the arms.
From the interior of the sphere.
Perhaps it hadn't grown from the sphere, but only looked as if it had grown out of it. Actually, it was only constructed from the tiny substance that Felli had mentioned.
Layfon's Military Artist eyes could only see with great difficulty the speed at which it was taking shape.
But Layfon who was nearly surprised to death could only stare at the slightly older female who had appeared from the small sphere that he held.
As if water coming out of the sphere, the top of her head first appeared, followed by her hair, followed by her forehead...... and then her face was shown.
Then, Layfon was surprised again.
The female who was currently appearing as if climbing out of a lake wore clothes simpler than the protective clothing that Layfon and Felli wore. She was an attractive girl whose thoughts couldn't be seen through.
She was a girl that he had once seen.
Layfon hadn't seen her dressed up in this manner, but she had seen someone who looked exactly the same.
The feeling as if he had seen the girl before him in a picture before made Layfon's memories hurt.
The answer had already appeared.
However, the person that Layfon thought he knew had never existed.
Yes, this girl looked extremely similar to Vati. She made Layfon unable to keep from feeling that Vati would become like that in a few years.
"If you come from the Academy City Zuellni, then that person called Vati is my original body."
The girl in front of them spoke smoothly.
The shock made his body tremble.
However, he couldn't stay surprised in this current situation.
Because Layfon and the others were still falling.
Layfon got a hold of himself, beginning to manipulate the steel threads. Layfon held Felli with one hand, holding the sphere with the other, and had his shoulders grasped by the female who looked like Vati, so his current self could do nothing other than using the steel threads.
Layfon and Felli's freefall had already ended. They stopped moving, beginning to ascend. Layfon used the steel threads that were strung everywhere, first moving them to the city's legs.
Actually, Layfon should have sent an attack towards the 'thing' in front of him that looked very much like Vati.
However, he couldn't. Though this was also because that 'thing' hadn't meant any harm to them yet, the more important reason was because it was too similar to Vati and sent Layfon's mind into disarray, making him hesitate.
However, he also couldn't stay in a stupor forever.
Judging from its current appearance, it couldn't be a normal person. It could be just a coincidence that it looked similar to Vati, and perhaps the words it had just spoken were lies constructed from what Layfon himself had said.
First, he had to separate himself from it.
Layfon thought this. In order to accomplish this, he moved the steel threads.
The contact with his shoulders disappeared. The 'thing' in front of him left Layfon.
Vati's appearance flew into the sky even higher than Layfon. Her movement as if being carried by the wind almost fascinated Layfon, but he quickly reclaimed his focus.
His movements had been seen through, that was what had just happened.
After landing on the city legs, Layfon quickly set down Felli, putting her and the sphere behind his back. The 'thing' had appeared from the sphere, and frankly Layfon also wanted to first maintain his distance from the sphere, but that object was their goal after all, so he couldn't do that.
That was because Layfon was feeling a danger that made his head throb, but was this created because of the 'thing' in front of him, or because of the sphere behind him?
"What...... are you?"
The battle between Harpe and the tall tower still continued, and similarly, the flashes and explosions had not stopped. Layfon's voice was drowned out by this noise.
However, the 'thing' had heard his voice.
"I am the copy of Nano-Celluloid Interface 1 Lævateinn that was sent to this world to carry out reconnaissance, and my serial number is X C one zero seven eight five three four five six seven......"
She spoke a long string of digits. The 'thing' could say this long string of digits with such a fast speed, so it clearly wasn't a human. No, the answer was already very clear, but Layfon just didn't want to believe it.
Was it because it was very similar to Vati?
Was it because it looked very similar to a neighbor of his apartment building?
"Just now, my original body gave me the temporary name of 'Vati B'."
"If it's the same as the monsters here, then doubting Vati just because she looks the same is far too weak as evidence."
Even Felli who said this was the same, though she thought her words were very reasonable, she also showed an expression saying that she couldn't completely believe her conclusion.
Why had the monster purposefully showed Vati's appearance? More importantly, why wasn't it exactly the same as Vati, but rather slightly different from her? These doubts formed unnatural feelings, sticking tightly to the hearts of the two.
Layfon looked at 'Vati B'. It seemed just like Vati after growing up, and if someone said she was Vati's sister, perhaps he could understand.
However, that couldn't be the case.
The blood relationship that Layfon thought about couldn't exist.
He only had to think about how 'Vati B' had appeared from before, and what it had just said, and the answer was very obvious.
"......Why have you come here?"
The one who said this was Felli.
She stood behind Layfon who couldn't move at all, asking a question of 'Vati B'.
"You said 'this world' just now, that means that you were born in a different place from the one we know and exist in a different space. What have you come to this place for?"
"Our master is currently in an incarcerated state, and destroying this world is a requirement to liberate him."
"What does that mean?"
Destroying this world was a requirement for liberation?
It was obviously impossible to understand if the other party suddenly said something like this.
"This is...... Kah, kschah......"
'Vati B' suddenly made abnormal movements.
As if her machinery had faulted, 'Vati B' made abnormal motions, and Layfon guarded Felli while pulling back the distance.
'Vati B' murmured several words, then suddenly cracked apart.
It was truly sudden. 'Vati B' disintegrated like a mountain of sand, the residue being carried away by the wind, disappearing without even a trace.
Though Layfon didn't understand, that kind of thing had just happened. He didn't know what it was that made him feel remorse.
"Never mind that for now, right now we have to analyze that thing."
"Then when will we leave?"
"I'll finish analyzing during the period of time when we're getting the motorcycle back."
Flashes and explosions continued. Layfon looked at the battle being carried out on the top of the tower.
Those monsters should be related to Leerin and Nina.
"Can I only run away again?"
This made Layfon feel regretful, and he tightly clenched his teeth.
There was no reason to disclose superfluous information. Vati decided to stop 'Vati B's function.
She gathered Nano-Celluloids in the surroundings of the abandoned city, letting them specialize in a function sufficient to achieve the goal.
During this process, she hadn't slackened in her information gathering.
"How should I tidy this up?"
Vati mumbled to herself in her room.
It was Harpe.
Once the same kind of Nano-Celluloid, but who had raised the flag of rebellion towards their master Ignasis, it was a being who was Vati - Lævateinn's sibling, or perhaps child. That was Harpe.
Perhaps, it currently was an enemy who had improved itself from a Nano-Celluloid Interface into a Cloud-Cell Separation Interface.
"Or, is Harpe the true child of Soho?"
The father who had created Lævateinn and the Nano-Celluloids, and at the same time the sacrifice of Ignasis, he was called Soho.
Vati felt that she seemed to already be able to understand what humans called 'irony'. However, the probability of her correctly using that kind of technique was very low. The current her could only speak the solemn truth. Soho had created Lævateinn for his own reasons, but his reasons didn't become reality. Lævateinn had lived in order to realize his goals, even as a test, and had used the death of the one who brought about Soho's desire.
By now, Lævateinn still carried out her plans for that conclusion that no one expected anymore. Though she was well aware, she didn't stop.
If the solemn truth wasn't irony, then 'humans who weren't able to follow an established schedule', or perhaps 'an existence whose life was predetermined from birth to death' was irony.
Then, what were humans after all?
"There's no meaning at all."
Noticing that her thoughts had begun turning towards philosophy, Vati stopped thinking.
There were currently two things to resolve. She had to punish the copy 'Vati B' who couldn't stop from losing control, along with Harpe who had begun taking action again.
Since she had given up on reclaiming the knowledge that 'Vati B' possessed, then there was a method that could resolve both problems.
However, to destroy them wasn't simple.
The two were the same as Lævateinn, made up of Nano-Celluloids, so to annihilate them wasn't easy. It was only because of this that a victor still hadn't been decided between Lævateinn and Harpe up through now.
If she did, then she would have to carry out large-scale destruction.
Vati prepared for this. Fortunately, Harpe and 'Vati B' were fighting each other, and it seemed that they hadn't noticed the concealed movements that she was taking.
If this went on, her battle plans should succeed.
"With this, those two will also......"
Vati thought. To her, those two...... Layfon had already lost his use. The object of Vati's observations was Meishen, and Meishen's goal was Layfon, that was the whole of it. If that had already become the past, then whether he lived or died was a trivial insignificance. It didn't need to be said that Felli who was with him was obviously the same.
But...... Vati couldn't make a decision towards the two of them. The obscure elements that always made Vati hesitate in her decision still existed inside her.
"This isn't reasonable."
The unknown elements that had occurred in her own body didn't allow Vati to make a decision, and she tilted her head.
Had all students become designated as a second-class protected object while she was hiding in the Academy City, creating this obstacle to her judgment?
Vati wanted to express her companionship even though she was a machine, but if those settings would become an obstacle like the current one, she had to get rid of them.
However, it was necessary to get rid of them step-by-step.
Those were the settings that allowed the Nano-Celluloid Interface 1 Lævateinn to live under the identity of the student Vati Len. The experiences she had obtained with these settings were quite precious information to Lævateinn who pursued the answer to the question 'what are humans'.
The settings of companionship and the designation of protected objects were among these, and in the process of accumulating her experiences and modifying her principles, some people had been deleted from the protected objects, and some people had been elevated to a higher ranking.
In these people, the highest was Meishen, and then was Layfon and Meishen's good friends. As long as they didn't reveal her secrets, even Nina and Claribel who knew Vati's secrets had been designated as protected.
Removing Layfon who had a high ranking from the list of protected objects would create severe changes in her settings, so Vati couldn't immediately make that judgment.
Perhaps she should simply give up the settings of the student Vati Len?
If she did this, she could immediately take action.
But, that would mean that the experimentation Vati was carrying out in this Academy City would end, and represented that she would again start her final battle plans under the identity Lævateinn.
Vati didn't know what to say.
A bit later, doorknocks sounded in the room.
"Vati? Are you here?"
The muffled voice that came from behind the door was Meishen's voice.
"What's the matter?"
Before opening the door, Vati already knew what Meishen had in her hands. However, she still asked while pretending not to know.
Meishen carried a big bowl, and the top was covered with a gray cloth.
"I made a little too much, so I brought some to share with you."
"Thank you, is this alright?"
Vati had long since known that Meishen was lying, but she still continued observing.
Meishen thought that the reason Vati didn't look too well was because her body was uncomfortable, so she had prepared dinner to bring here.
"It's no problem."
Meishen only said this, and Vati who had no way to refuse her took the bowl.
"Then I'll be going."
"Okay, good night."
After watching her go with a smile, Vati closed the door. From that day, her smile had changed. Though it was a small change in the way her muscles moved, it was enough of a change to be sure that something had happened on that day.
Seeing that smile, Vati stopped thinking.
The situation in the abandoned city still continued, and right now it wasn't the time to postpone a decision.
Even so, Vati still stopped.
"Time...... can really fly...... I have to limit the time set."
It wasn't easy for her to mumble these words.
If she didn't remove or change the settings of the student Vati Len, but moreover had to resolve the current situation, then she could only do this.
After seeing Meishen's smile, Vati made her decision.
Flashes and explosions still interlaced with each other. From Layfon and Felli's point of view, they could only use such a manner to describe the battle, as the two weapons carried out this sort of battle without tiring.
The two of them repeated destruction and being destroyed, and then repaired themselves at the same time. The Aurora particles that formed the filth monsters were the common factor of the two worlds, and the Celluloids that formed these weapons used that substance as an energy source for proliferation. Because of this, they could proliferate almost limitlessly.
Of course, the functions that controlled the Celluloids has some limits, so they couldn't multiply recklessly. But in the current situation, they didn't hold back their production.
Thinking for themselves with unlimited energy, taking action by themselves, producing by themselves, improving themselves, repairing themselves......
If the two weapons that possessed the same functions faced each other, it would play out as this kind of long war of attrition.
Judging from the battle experience of Harpe, there was no way to single out a winner.
Still, both sides didn't plan on stopping the situation.
This was a battle after a very long rest, and Harpe wasn't confused. The meaning for its existence was to fight with the enemies of humans, and to Harpe, the enemy of humans was Ignasis and the Nano-Celluloids that he had created.
When he fought with them, Harpe didn't have the option of retreating. Also, it wasn't as if he hadn't used any tactics.
Even so, it still hadn't resolved the problem of the battle entering a long stalemate. Perhaps, regardless of whether it was Harpe or a Nano-Celluloid, it wouldn't matter much to them. Because they only recognized the existence of life on a literal level, and they could live very long.
So the battle had returned to a meaningless destruction and rebirth, as if endlessly sinking into quicksand.
If there weren't any other variables to disrupt it......
Layfon soon found the motorcycle that they had lost sight of.
Felli was analyzing the sphere they had obtained. Because the incident involving 'Vati B' had just happened, Layfon was very alert towards that sphere, afraid that it might be a trap of the enemy, but it seemed that things weren't that way.
Layfon minded Felli who was focusing her mind while using the steel threads to move the motorcycle outside the city. In order to be careful, he put a defensive formation around the motorcycle, and made preparations for escaping.
Felli still didn't have any responses.
Felli had said that she would completely analyze the sphere before Layfon finished his preparations, but it seemed the situation was unexpectedly troublesome.
Layfon didn't want to blame her, nor did he want to remind her. Ensuring her safety was Layfon's current priority. After deciding this, Layfon once again deployed the steel threads.
The Sougenkyouku that Layfon had learned from Lintence, or perhaps stolen from him, wove the strongest defensive formation possible in these conditions.
Layfon wove while looking at the tall tower.
Flashes and explosions continued on. Felli was focused on analysis, so the scene on the screen seemed to have slightly changed. The image lost its sharpness slightly, and seemed a bit bright.
The battle was going on over there.
Could he only run away?
Could he only do this?
Layfon endlessly asked himself.
In the current scenario, picking a fight definitely wasn't the correct decision. They had already obtained their goal. Right now the most important thing was to return to Zuellni. With the information in the sphere, Layfon could advance to the next step.
Things should be that way.
However, at this stage, would he be in time by doing that?
Before his eyes such an intense battle was developing.
Hadn't this kind of battle happened before? Or perhaps this was the first time?
This kind of battle would lead to...... bigger things?
Thinking of this, Layfon unconsciously became restless.
"Felli? What is it?"
"Nn, I obtained the information from the data. But......"
Layfon hadn't missed such a hesitating tone from Felli's voice.
Layfon deliberately didn't ask what information it was, because the hesitating tone mixed in her voice was definitely disappointment.
"Rather than calling it Delbone's memories, calling it the battle scenes that she gathered using Psychokinesis is more accurate."
Even so, Felli still began explaining:
"The weapon in female form just now was inside. There were also pictures of the giant monsters that attacked Zuellni before. Inside was also someone who might be Delbone, and judging by the changes in her appearance, it should probably be a picture from sixty or seventy years ago."
"It's a very valuable image. I'm also very concerned about the true identity of the female just now...... and the relations between them."
The relationship between her and Vati. Though the monster just now had taken the form of Vati, the picture could confirm that it wasn't to create confusion in Layfon and Felli.
This made suspicion fall on Vati, and Layfon began worrying about Meishen who so depended on her.
The two of them also noticed the dangerous shadow stretching towards Zuellni's fate.
Their gains were truly great.
They had to return to Zuellni immediately.
They needed to return, and confirm with their own eyes her agenda.
But...... was that it?
Would that be enough? This was a very important clue...... An important clue that would let Layfon and Felli follow to the next level.
That was true...... however.
It was because she understood this that Felli's voice was very low.
This would clearly be enough, but the two felt inexplicably unsatisfied.
The two both had this kind of feeling, and only this much couldn't satisfy Layfon and Felli.
"......If we return now, we can relieve Zuellni's crisis."
But, if Zuellni was truly in a crisis, then the situation should have happened a long time ago. She must have some sort of goal, so she hadn't destroyed Zuellni.
"......So Captain and the others are standing their ground?"
Actually, perhaps that was it.
"She hasn't done anything at all up to now, so perhaps there's no reason to hurry back. ......But this is a big assumption."
Every sentence being an assumption made Felli feel disgust at herself.
It wasn't like that.
There was no such thing.
Layfon wanted those possibilities. The possibility of moving forwards, the possibility of seeing the future. With that, he would be able to continue moving. Even if he had to be reckless, Layfon still wanted to know where he was going.
He wanted to have the guarantee in his hands that no matter what happened, he would be fine.
"But, there's no such thing in the world."
Humans couldn't succeed every time. If he could have done that, Layfon wouldn't have come to Zuellni.
He would have continued being a Heaven's Blade successor in Grendan, living a happy life with Leerin and the others, and wouldn't have met Felli and Nina.
However, Layfon had actually been forced to Zuellni, and was struggling in this place to search for something.
There was only one thing, the fact that Layfon was an excellent Military Artist should be the only thing Layfon could take pride in, but even that had been caught up to by Nina and others, and even Leerin had refused to rely on him. In front of all of this, Layfon began feeling that his Military Arts abilities didn't have much meaning.
"You and I can only do this."
As a Military Artist, as a Psychokinesist...... how could they help others. To the two of them, these were the only abilities they could offer.
But, they could get nowhere relying only on these two abilities, that was reality.
There was a battle in front of them.
An incredible battle was happening that made one doubt whether it was real or not.
Moreover, this battle would definitely happen again on the road that Layfon and Felli were following. Just like the incredible battle that Delbone had experienced here and then crossed hands with again in Grendan where she had died. The battle that happened here would definitely play out again in Grendan.
And the next time, Nina and Leerin would definitely fight.
If they hadn't seen this battle, but had only obtained Delbone's records, perhaps they could still have returned.
"But, only having obtained this much, we can't go back. We can't return."
The two of them watched the extraordinary battle.
They already knew that these things were the enemies.
Therefore, there couldn't only be the option of retreat.
"If we run away and don't fight, won't everything be meaningless?"
"If we run away here, will we be able to fight next time?"
"Perhaps we can fight. But, maybe it's just my mood. But, but...... what we need isn't a fighting mood............"
"It's the reality of being able to fight."
Felli continued speaking.
"The reality of being able to fight, regardless of how strong the opponent or what kind of monster it is. We already have the determination. But, against an enemy that we can't simply rely on determination for, we need to confirm that we can fight until the end."
"That's what we need."
Felli pushed Layfon's back.
She had given him a push with her words.
"You think that there's a reason to do this. Then, there's a reason to do it. Regardless of what other people say, even if you realize it's a mistake afterwards, as long as you feel that there's a reason, your thought is the only truth at the time."
"Go prove that we're the strongest."
Felli's words heated up his heart.
Layfon leaped without confusion.
He leaped towards the monster, leaped towards the tall tower.
In order to prove his strength, to prove his and Felli's strength.
Layfon leaped high, high up.
An unexpected situation had occurred.
"This will be annoying."
She tried to mix confusion in with her voice, but she didn't do very well.
However, that was enough. The problem was Layfon and Felli who were fighting in the abandoned city.
"I never would have thought that they wouldn't escape......"
She hadn't thought that they would make this kind of choice. According to her judgments, Layfon Alseif was an extremely careful person in battle.
Perhaps others knew him as someone who would throw himself into danger without blinking an eye, but he wouldn't overestimate his fighting ability, and would calmly deal with things.
Therefore, they should have withdrawn from that sort of place.
In the end, they had already achieved their goal.
"Why is this?"
She obviously had heard what they had said.
For the determination they had made, their feelings, and the reality of being able to fight.
Proof of being the strongest.
"Meaning that they have to carry out real battle tests in order to fight with me...... Is that what it means?"
She should assume that 'Vati B' had come in contact with them, and that they had learned of Vati's true colors. Therefore, she had to plan things out before taking action.
Vati believed that she had to take action, but she had still decided to help them escape.
She had even fixed the malfunctioning areas of the motorcycle without being noticed, providing them with a perfectly safe method of escape.
But, they had made the choice to not escape, but rather fight.
That was troublesome.
Was this troublesome? If they died in battle, then Vati wouldn't have to save them, and the people who knew the truth about her wouldn't continue to increase. To her, wasn't that a situation she wished for?
Things weren't like that.
"That's not right. There's already nothing here to see anymore, and I already know what I should know. I can only leave this place."
Correct, she no longer had a reason to protect them. Even so, Vati still had made the decision to save them.
Why was that?
It was for her.
For Meishen Trinden.
She who had once been a target for observation had once loved Layfon Alseif, so Vati had made the decision to save him.
Doing this was meaningless in the end.
The results that could be obtained from Meishen Trinden were essentially already in her hands.
She could even just make a conclusion, as she had already obtained the answer.
Meishen already held no value, and Vati had no reason to continue staying in this place.
Therefore, she didn't have any reason at all to destroy 'Vati B'. It should be enough as long as she returned to the original mission with it - to kill Grendan along with the creator and maintainer of this world, Saya, and to expel or defeat Airen who had imprisoned Ignasis in the moon.
That was Vati - Nano-Celluloid Interface 1 Lævateinn's fate.
So there was no reason to be worried. If Layfon and Felli wanted to fight, then let them fight.
"Like this, everything will end."
Yes, everything would end.
However, the answer still hadn't appeared.
"Why can't I decide?"
Vati endlessly ran her self-diagnosis function, but there were no abnormalities anywhere.
Then, was this condition of not being able to make a decision normal?
"The human mimicry program is outside of the self-diagnosis program. Is the problem really there?"
Her current highest priority task was to let the human mimicry program learn. According to her past judgment, perhaps the human mimicry program would be diagnosed as an abnormal condition. However, that kind of abnormality might become the possibility of becoming human, so Vati had excluded the program from her self-diagnostics.
In other words, the 'human' Vati Len that Lævateinn had cultivated till now, refused to watch Layfon die...... No, it refused to allow the possibility of Meishen Trinden feeling grief.
Because of that, she wasn't able to ignore them?
"Does the human mimicry program plan to take its own actions?"
Looking at it this way, if it was an action taken by the human mimicry program that even her main self-diagnostic functions couldn't affect, that was definitely possible.
The will of the host was obviously the Nano-Celluloid Interface Lævateinn, however the human mimicry program was a material collection device she had created to understand humankind. Right before it had been assimilated by the host Lævateinn, it had been a will of its own. In other words, it was the same kind of being as the currently out-of-control 'Vati B'.
If it was the current the human mimicry program - the 'human' Vati Len - that was impeding her and made Lævateinn have difficulty making a decision, that meant that Vati was interfering with the host Lævateinn's operations, trying to protect Layfon and the others...... that was a way to think about it.
"......Then, what do you plan by doing this?"
Was the person speaking Vati or Lævateinn? Even she was almost unclear about the boundaries. More importantly, until now she had not even looked at Vati and Lævateinn as separate existences.
However, her hesitation had already disappeared. If she had a reason, she would create a copy like 'Vati B' - that was what a Nano-Celluloid would do.
If she judged that other autonomous functions had appeared inside her, the next thing to do was resolve this.
"What I have to do has not changed. Other than that, we already have no more choices."
She understood this.
Even so...... the human mimicry program still advocated that she should help Layfon and Felli. In order to reach its goal, its has postponed the decision of the host Lævateinn.
"Even so, you still want to help them?"
She deliberately treated the human mimicry program as a body copy, asking it a question:
"Why? You have already reached your goal. That is something I have not achieved through now."
"I haven't been able to reach my goal. But, I can reach my goal by absorbing your, and you can also achieve your goal through this."
That should be the ideal situation.
Even so, the human mimicry program still didn't have a response.
"You don't want to accomplish your goal?"
What did this mean? Lævateinn groped for more possibilities. Why would the human mimicry program 'Vati' refuse the command of the host Lævateinn?
"......Because you don't want to die?"
She murmured this.
After the mission completed, it would lose its body after being absorbed by Lævateinn. Was it that the human mimicry program believed that this was the same as the 'death' of organisms, so it defied the order?
However, the human mimicry program still didn't have a response.
"Because you don't want to lose your companions?"
There was a small response.
Her machinery couldn't tell a lie in this situation. It could only keep their silence or make a correct response.
The human mimicry program was the same in this regard. After all, the host Lævateinn had not given it the right to lie.
"You don't want to lose your companions... so the reason is something like that."
Just by receiving that response, she could instantly narrow down the list of things she had to cover.
"You don't want the situation to change? ......No, the point in time to hope that she would change has already passed."
She wanted to push forward. In a keyword-limited search, she managed to naturally find a word-processed story.
Machines weren't able to tell stories, but they could analyze stories. They could systematically run through other situations and compare similar parts.
"You don't want to leave this story. You want to stay in the Academy City with the identity of a student, and stay by Meishen Trinden's side."
Her chest relayed pain.
Actually, no abnormal situation had occurred.
It was only the human mimicry program showing an intense response, interfering with the nerve network crisscrossing through her entire body.
"............Is that why?"
Lævateinn lightly placed her hand on her chest, and spoke to the human mimicry program inside her:
"That proposal is not bad."
Lævateinn murmured this.
She was the same, she wouldn't lie without a reason, and she judged that currently there was no reason to lie.
"But it's an impossible thing."
Even so, she still asserted it.
"The problem is, the situation is no longer something where I can decide everything on my own. There are enemies here. They exist only to defeat me whether I exist as a human or as a machine. Ignoring those people and staying in this world is an impossible thing. They have already grasped my position. If I don't move, the opponents will attack sooner or later."
Lævateinn didn't have a concept of longevity. Though she had spoken of it, she and humans were still worlds apart. Humans would give in before the time became an obstacle and take action.
"Other than acting, we have no other choice. Maintaining the safety of the city is the same."
She continued speaking.
In Lævateinn's heart, what she had to do had long since been predetermined. She would rely on talking to create weak points in the human mimicry program's defense, and attack from there.
The weakness only happened for a moment. The human mimicry program wavered slightly, showing a weak point, and was brought under Lævateinn's control. It no longer had special privileges, and its ability to resist Lævateinn had also all been sealed.
In this moment, although her exterior had not changed, Vati Len became Lævateinn.
"......But, I also want to confirm something."
The monologuing that she had become used to was directed towards the human mimicry program 'Vati' that had already lost the ability to reply.
"So, I will slightly postpone the time of removing 'Vati B'. If they still haven't withdrawn before then, then they will be to blame."
After finishing the monologue that was at the same time words spoken for 'Vati' to hear, Lævateinn stood up.
"Then, of the answer you let me see, I also have questions I wish to ask."
This was the final experience she would have in this place.
Layfon leaped high.
His destination was the top of the tall tower. The monster that had mimicked this abandoned city was fighting with the monster called Harpe there.
Layfon instantly responded to Felli's question.
"I'll spread a defensive formation around Felli with the steel threads. Against normal enemies there should be no problems, but......"
(Don't worry about me, I also have a move I want to try out. Don't concern yourself over me, and put your focus somewhere else.)
(Also, since you set the tower as your target, it's not so much the original body as it is a specialized weapon portion.)
(Who asked you to charge out without listening to me.)
"Then..... Even if you say that......"
(Haah, whatever. Just fight over there then. Perhaps you'll get the element of surprise.)
(I'll find the original body.)
"C......Can you do it?"
(From my analysis to now, I already understand that it's the same system as the giant monster that we fought in Grendan.)
"In that case......"
(Yes. If it's the same as that monster, it also controls that fine particle substance. I will find it.)
The tactics were decided. Layfon added speed to the sprint that he had almost stopped, continuously leaping using the steel threads as footholds.
The storm of energy raged around the tower looming before him. Heat that seemed like it would scorch him if he so much as touched it lightly produced strong winds, trying to blow Layfon's body far away.
Layfon pushed back the wind pressure, arriving at a position where he could see the top of the tower.
"Then...... I'll go up!"
He used Kei, flowing it into the Adamantium Dite.
Destroy the tower.
Felli wanted him to act as bait, and Layfon who planned to do this took up the restored black blade of the Adamantium Dite, assuming a stance, and attacking with a technique.
External Kei variant - Sendan.
Dense Kei to which Composite Blast had been added swirled around the exterior of the tower and then clashed. It tore through the storm of raging energy, cutting a deep line in the outer wall, and reaching the interior.
The feeling inside the tower was the same as when he had sneaked in before.
"Next is the target!"
This time Layfon didn't want to sneak into the tower, but to commence destruction, so he had no reason to care about the situation inside. Layfon used his Kei to his heart's content, raising his concentration and focusing his energy into a technique.
Perhaps noticing Layfon's presence, the tower moved.
Even though he had Felli's assistance, the raging heat and energy still distorted his vision. In the midst of his distorted vision, Layfon felt some sort of strange movement.
Layfon leaped high, spreading steel threads everywhere in order to create footholds.
A beam of light passed through the place where Layfon had just been standing.
This was an attack from the tower meant for him.
Changes had already appeared on the outside portion of the tower, and many objects like glass spheres had grown out of it. A troublesome feeling prickled his back, and Layfon once again leaped.
The countless thin beams of light fired from the spheres chased him from behind.
After the beams of light shot into the distance, the responses of the steel threads that had just been there disappeared.
They had been cut - no, they had definitely been melted by the high heat.
(Those are incredibly high temperature heat rays, please treat it as if you'll die upon contact.)
"I won't be hit!"
But, just now it had actually been very dangerous. If the opponent was a Military Artist, Layfon could faintly perceive what the enemy would do next based on small things like the atmosphere or their gaze, but this didn't work for the enemy before him. It didn't even seem to be an organism like filth monsters, so he could sense no omens of attacks at all before they happened.
If he waited to move until after he saw it then he would be too late. Layfon realized that he had to move continuously. He not only treaded on the steel threads, but also used the threads to wrap up rubble from the ground, using them to move.
He also continuously used his Kei at the suitable time, raising its density.
The dancing beams of heat scorched his protective clothing.
While feeling as if he himself would also soon be scorched, Layfon released the Kei infused in his blade.
Heaven's Blade Art - Silent Flash.
He released the heaviest and slowest technique. Though he had sacrificed a Dite in the battle with Nina and Claribel, after that Layfon had improved his skill at Composite Blast, so only using it once wouldn't break the Dite.
However, the heat released from the Dite wasn't less than the heat of the air around him burning his protective gear.
No, he had once heard this voice before.
Before the other party replied, changes occurred.
An explosion. But unfortunately this was not produced by Layfon's technique. It was a self-destruction. The top of the tower that had begun to tilt didn't catch ablaze, but simply exploded, becoming rubble of various sizes flying out to the surroundings.
Layfon once again continued leaping upwards while destroying the rubble that assaulted him.
"That's not ordinary rubble, those are things used to eliminate you."
"What did you say?"
The voice that rang out inside his helmet was muffled, but he could hear it clearly.
"Concentrate on self-defense. Widen the distance again, I am now destroying the tower."
Harpe's words immediately became reality. The rubble that scattered in all directions burst without a sound, quickly changing shape.
Becoming countless spheres.
The countless spheres that were formed released slender links to connect to each other, pulling at each other, while following a complex track to move to face Layfon.
The spheres that had been produced were limitless in number, and did not only attack Layfon.
The voice that had told him to concentrate on defense was still by his ears, and Layfon once again retreated while calling out.
(I'm currently confirming.)
Felli's voice was very calm, even if the defensive formation of steel threads that Layfon had woven himself was over there.
(I have tactics of my own. You don't need to concern yourself over me, right now please focus your mind on battle.)
Felli said this, but Layfon couldn't change his mood so easily.
But to be honest, Layfon had entered a condition of being unable to quickly take action, as the links produced by the numerous spheres collided with each other and bounced off. Such a game-like movement was occurring between the many spheres, drawing closer to Layfon.
Their movements were far too complex, and even if he tried to avoid it he wouldn't be able to completely judge their paths. Layfon could only use the Shim Adamantium Dite's blade to hack at the things before him, perhaps making them rebound.
The spheres were far too numerous, and Layfon's surroundings were filled with sparks. The spheres dragged each other, moving while bouncing off each other. Layfon had involuntarily been caught in the movement of the group of spheres while he acted to defend himself and deflect the spheres, and had been incorporated into the entire offensive like a small gear.
If he stopped deflecting the spheres, then he would be drowned in the pummeling of the group of spheres, but even if he continued deflecting them, he would still be pulled into the range of the tower.
Layfon was in a helpless state, and could only watch himself being engulfed by the torrent of spheres.
Layfon had been completely trapped. If the enemy still planned some other attack, perhaps he would be unable to deal with it.
(Leave it to me.)
Just as the impatient feeling was about to take over his body, Felli's voice sounded in the helmet.
(Please stand your ground, don't make any weird movements.)
"Eh, even if you tell me that......"
Felli planned to do something. Layfon had received that message, but there were things he couldn't do.
(I didn't ask you to stay completely still.)
Felli almost mercilessly returned his words, and just at that moment......
Light surrounded Layfon.
Purple light came from below, springing up from around Felli's location, and then formed many beams crossing around Layfon's surroundings.
Layfon who was surrounded by the spheres also saw this scene.
Because the beams wiped out the group of spheres that was trying to squash Layfon.
After being released from the group of spheres, Layfon stepped on the wreckage of the spheres that had lost their power and were falling to the ground, leaping into the sky and landing on the steel threads. The other spheres that had appeared in the surroundings were still being pierced by the purple light that continuously shot out from below, being swept away, destroyed, and falling down.
(This is an application of Psychokinesis mines.)
Felli said only these simple words.
(Although, it doesn't have much power, nor can it be used continuously. Please alleviate the enemy's attacks over here.)
After responding, Layfon leaped.
Afterwards, the light being shot out from below also stopped.
A group of spheres was still left over here. Other than saving Layfon, Felli had prioritized destroying the objects that were trying to get closer to her.
Layfon couldn't bear to leave everything to Felli like this.
External Kei variant - Roar Kei.
Though he didn't understand what kind of substance it was, it seemed very difficult to destroy these spheres with slashes and strikes, and he had understood the reason from how Felli's beams of light easily wiped out the group of spheres.
Therefore, spreading something in all directions that didn't rely on physical impacts to destroy would be enough.
The Luckens' secret vibration waves responded to Layfon's expectations, smashing the spheres one by one.
Layfon jumped across the wreckage, advancing forwards.
"Didn't I ask you to widen the distance?"
Harpe's voice sounded in his helmet again.
"Why do I have to trust you?"
The first time they encountered each other, Harpe had seemed to control many filth monsters.
Layfon felt that it wasn't an enemy. But, perhaps he would only learn the truth now. It wasn't something he could drop his guard around.
"I will forever monitor the Aurora Field, in order to guard the humans of this world from the hands of the Nano-Celluloids, and for that path I have always lived and improved myself."
"......Do you control the filth monsters?"
"The records of our talk before still remain. I said this. 'I am the Cloud-Cell Separation Interface IV Harpe. The goal of my existence is to oversee the end of the Aurora Field in this world, and to protect it as well as I can.'"
"If you still have more to say, then realize that I did not say the things I protect were humans."
"Right now there is no time to explain my relation with filth monsters. Because of the connections and conflicts between the humans of this world and the Nano-Celluloids, I must begin speaking from the creation of this world."
(The best method for now is not to increase our enemies.)
"I understand that, but......"
It was indeed like that. Layfon let out a breath and calmed down, widening the distance between him and the tall tower.
(Moreover we have already completed this trip's goal. If it plans on doing something, it's a very effective screen for us.)
Felli almost unconcernedly said this, making Layfon hurriedly swallow the words in his mouth.
He thought that Harpe would hear.
(I have already seen through the way it delivers sound. It uses a solid portion fixed to the helmet as an amplifier, relying on it to transmit sound.)
(I already removed that portion. Even if it set a listening device somewhere, I have set up counter-measures.)
"I feel like Felli is especially powerful this time."
(You're not the only one who has to prepare for what has to be done.)
"I know that......"
(Then, go do what you need to do. Prove that we have strength.)
"Prove that we are strong."
(Starting from now is the time for you to develop your ability.)
An arrow appeared in the vision that was shown through Felli's Psychokinesis. Layfon followed the arrow's guidance and began moving.
Layfon twisted his body in the air and fell towards the ground head-first.
New sound from the sky above became giant waves and was released, passing through Layfon and vibrating his entire body as if to change his falling path.
Harpe prepared to do something.
(The temperature above is increasing at an extraordinary rate.)
Because the upper portion of the tower had already crumbled, the attacks of the abandoned city had already stopped. This was a great opportunity for Harpe to attack.
Moreover the abandoned city had to take time to defend, and it definitely had no time to notice Layfon.
Layfon fell towards the direction shown by Felli's arrow.
The arrow slightly changed direction, and the target object seemed not to be fixed in the same place.
Layfon fell while raising the blade of the Shim Adamantium Dite and taking up a stance. His target could move, meaning that it was possible that it could escape the moment it noticed what this side was doing. Thinking of the regenerative capabilities of the opponent, Layfon didn't think that opportunities would appear often. He had to strike the winning blow before it noticed.
Layfon let out a breath to ease his tension, and used his Kei with his entire might.
His target was the giant reinforcements running vertically and horizontally that supported the upper portion of the tower. Maintaining the land that humans lived on, it could be called a spine of the city's back, and though its volume was not as large as the tall tower, it was still enormous.
Layfon didn't slow down. The possibility and fear of failing and colliding with the steel was pushed away bit by bit by the rhythm of his Kei flow.
Layfon flowed his Kei into the blade. Through Layfon's reliable senses, the Dite replied to his great Kei flow.
This wasn't because of the improvement of Composite Blast. The fruits of Harley and Kirik's relentless hard work was this - even if he used the Dites for Heaven's Blade Arts, the Dites still wouldn't be damaged quickly.
It wasn't only the Adamantium Dite with these results, the Shim Adamantium Dite had also been provided with these improvements.
"I'll use every bit of strength, and let you see it well."
The Dite's ability.
Composite Blast's true worth.
Allow Layfon and Felli, Kirik and Harley's hard work up through now build up and come to fruition, this was what Layfon needed to do right now.
He wanted to show these results to Nina and the others.
From the vision in his helmet, the indicator arrow changed its position at short intervals. Was this because the opponent had noticed his attempt? But, the speed of its movement wasn't high.
He could do it.
He would do it for her to see.
The arrow moved, and Layfon predicted its movement, cutting down with his raised blade.
Psyharden Technique - Flame Cut.
Flame danced along the cut path, chasing the track of the blade.
When the flame caught up, the blade had already produced results.
The feeling of hitting his target was in his hands.
The power of the Kei technique that he released even slowed the speed of Layfon's fall. The flame swelling around the cut path wrapped around Layfon's body, and Layfon relied on changing his posture to extend his feet to the reinforcement.
Layfon stood upright on the reinforcement, staring hard with his eyes, and leaped into the sky the moment before he slipped off the reinforcement.
This power gave the cut carved along the reinforcement a final blow.
This wasn't the sharp metallic sound that the steel would give off.
Rather, it was the screech of something.
While Layfon's back was to the sound as he repeatedly jumped towards Felli, a different image entered his vision. It was Felli's consideration.
Over there, something like a female figure had grown out of the sliding reinforcement.
It was the girl who was looked exactly the same as Vati. Hadn't she claimed to be 'Lævateinn'?
She let out a cry that humans would never be able to make, while struggling intensely at that place.
Her fingertips, hair, protective clothing, and even skin all flew out as powder, scattering everywhere.
She gradually crumbled.
Gradually disappeared into nothing.
"Did we defeat it?"
Felli responded to the words that he quietly muttered.
(The response has disappeared.)
Compared to the feelings that swarmed his heart, the words coming out of his mouth were powerless.
(We can't be careless. The heat that Harpe is releasing from above is still continuing to increase, we should leave this place quickly.)
Indeed, in the sky, Harpe's surroundings were beginning to distort. If not for Felli's aid, it would be blinding enough to be impossible to see.
Had Harpe not grasped the actions of Layfon and Felli? Was that a fake? Or perhaps did he simply want to give the enemy a completely deadly blow?
Layfon didn't know what to think. However, regardless of the answer, it didn't give him a reason to continue staying in this place.
Felli's figure entered his eyes. Layfon released the defensive formation around her, grabbing her without stopping his feet, and running towards the position of the motorcycle parked outside the city.
"How is the situation?"
"Nothing has changed. Compared to that, I'm rather concerned about the situation above. If we get pulled into it we won't be able to handle it."
Their helmets touched each other, and the untreated voice relied on vibrations to travel to each other. So that was how it was, this slightly muffled sound indeed sounded like the voice that Harpe had sent.
The muffled voice that Felli hadn't transmitted through the Psychokinesis flake made Layfon feel a hard-to-describe feeling of safety.
"We've done what we can, let's quickly get out of here."
After making the reply, Layfon reached the outskirts of the city carrying Felli, and descended to the ground.
The motorcycle was untouched. Layfon put Felli into the vehicle, and then sat on it himself.
Just as he was preparing to do so, his body was suddenly sent flying.
Who was it?
Layfon who had just been sent flying didn't have any way to understand what had happened in that moment.
It wasn't Felli's strength, because it was far too strong. Layfon flew away from the motorcycle and slid on the ground. As this happened to him, the thing that had just happened greeted his eyes.
'Vati B's figure had suddenly appeared by the motorcycle, grabbing Felli.
Even the motorcycle outside of the city had long since been within the range of 'Vati B's invisible grasp. His carelessness made him clench his teeth.
'Vati B' made a strange sound, tightening the arm wrapped around Felli's neck.
Layfon couldn't move. The opponent didn't possess the weak strength of a female that its exterior resembled. If she had a reason, 'Vati B' could break Felli's neck whenever it wanted.
"......What do you want?"
The one who asked this was Felli who was grabbed.
"If you only want to kill me, then you wouldn't have done something like this. What goal do you have for doing this?"
'Vati B' stopped moving because of Felli's words. In order to not let an opportunity to save Felli slip, Layfon quietly watched the situation.
'Vati B' showed her face and stood still outside of the city where pollutants raged. If he looked closely, he could see that it was crumbling all over its body. Every part of its protective clothing, as well as the part of its face that was exposed flaked off like sand, scattered by the wind.
This proved that the strike just now was definitely not a wasted effort.
"I have a question...... to ask."
Felli hadn't guessed wrong. 'Vati B' asked a question in a ruined mechanical voice:
"What kind of a person is the female that you recognize who looks very much like me?"
This was a an unexpected question. Layfon had never dreamed that 'Vati B' would ask him about the female that looked like it...... about Vati.
"What kind of a person......?"
"What do you think about it, I want to know your feelings."
As to what 'Vati B's goal was for asking this question, Layfon really had no idea.
"Though we don't run across her much, I feel that she's a very weird girl."
The excessively straightforward opinion made Layfon break into a cold sweat.
"She's obviously a normal person, but is expressionless like a Psychokinesist, moreover she does things too perfectly, making people feel that she's too meticulous."
"But, it feels like she's pretty hardworking."
Layfon hadn't said this to alleviate Felli's merciless criticism. Even though she had spoken like that, 'Vati B' still didn't show any signs of moving.
It truly wanted to hear about Vati.
Because of that kind of feeling, Layfon had decided to express his opinions. Its body was obviously crumbling, but 'Vati B' completely ignored its condition, even wanting to know what everyone thought about Vati, so Layfon was very intrigued as to what significance this kind of small thing had to it.
"Vati helps out in Meishen's store. I feel that it's because of her that Meishen was able to open the store. Naruki and Mifi also said something similar, and Meishen also recognizes that."
Meishen relied on Vati.
Layfon had seen the appearance of Meishen and Vati making cakes together, and the delivery in the morning seemed to also be managed by Vati. To the shy Meishen, this was definitely a great help.
When Meishen made new cakes or sweets and asked people to try them, she would not only look very happy, but in those times she would certainly mention Vati, saying that she was incredible.
There would be a day when she would make a cake that would make Vati say 'it's delicious'.
Meishen had said this.
Afterwards, Layfon had also thought:
"I feel that Vati admires Meishen."
Seeing her appearance gazing at Meishen made Layfon have that kind of feeling.
So he was very angry.
He felt anger at everything being a lie.
He felt anger, at there unexpectedly being such a being next to Meishen, at himself who had somehow not noticed this, at Meishen who trusted Vati and who had been betrayed.
'Vati B' still suppressed Felli, and Layfon looked sharply into its gaze.
"......How wretched we are."
His anger endlessly spilled forth.
Judging by 'Vati B's crumbling appearance, it definitely needed time to be able to kill Felli. Could he make it in that time in the situation where he had to ensure Felli's safety? Layfon used his anger as a driving force, coldly calculating.
"How about this."
'Vati B' murmured.
However, Layfon didn't listen to the words, but rather made these words into a opening, making it into an opportunity.
Psyharden Technique - Reflecting Water Ferry.
Layfon cut down the distance in an instant, cutting off the arm holding Felli. He pulled back the blade that he had swung with one arm while pulling Felli with the other empty hand.
The pulling movement and the cutting motion were simultaneous, and the cut path sliced through 'Vati B' who pursued from behind.
No blood sprayed out.
Instead, 'Vati B's body spread out a sand-like substance. Like a sand dune exploding, the sand-like substance covered Layfon's vision in an instant, but in this situation it quickly disappeared.
"Are you alright?"
Layfon quickly rushed over to help Felli up.
Felli blankly nodded her head.
"What is it?"
"No...... did you hear it?"
"That 'Vati B'...... what it said in the end."
"......What did it say?"
"It said, 'has it become close to humankind at all?'."
"What do you think that means?"
"I don't know, but more importantly......"
Layfon raised his head to look up.
Harpe was still there, and it was still increasing the energy density. It planned to destroy the city and turn it into dust without leaving anything, this was already an indubitable fact.
"We had better escape quickly."
He had no idea at all how much destruction would be created.
Perhaps it was waiting for Layfon and Felli to leave, so it was taking action this late.
After putting Felli into the sidecar, Layfon truly began driving the motorcycle.
From behind he felt a beam of light pushing his back. What had happened after all? What he could confirm was that it hadn't been something trivial.
"Please grab on tightly."
After saying this to Felli, Layfon sped the motorcycle up as fast as possible.
An unexpected fighting force had made its debut. It was an external factor that threw the battle between the Cloud-Cell Separation Interface and the Nano-Celluloid Interface into disarray.
The reason was these two humans.
Harpe roared. The other party seemed to have removed the tool that it used to communicate, but even so, Harpe still roared. Even if he understood that this roar would be blocked out by the sound of the increasing energy, it still roared.
Harpe's voice couldn't reach them, but it believed that the two humans were very used to battle. If his judgment was correct, when the two humans noticed the situation here, they would begin retreating after achieving their goal.
Moreover their goal was to destroy the core of 'Vati B'. This would be a very uplifting thing for humans.
The Nano-Celluloids had obviously noticed the change in their master, but it hadn't mattered to them. They had even deviated from their original goal, which was to protect the lives of humankind, even switching to the opposite path. Harpe had betrayed them. At the time he had reformed himself, becoming the Cloud-Cell Interface.
After battle, battle, and endless battle, it had finally succeeded in banishing Ignasis and the Nano-Celluloids from this world.
Time had passed, and arrived at the present.
Harpe also felt the abnormalities in the moon, and also knew that Durindana had attacked Grendan.
Even Lævateinn's copy that had stayed silent for ages had begun moving.
The end would soon be upon them.
Not the end of the world, but something linked to it. Ignasis was linked to this world. Only destroying this world could free Ignasis, and fighting those who had become the protectors of humankind was the relevance of the end.
That was what the end entailed, and the conclusion could possibly become the world's collapse.
However, Harpe's existence was to keep that from happening, so the descendants of the moon had gathered in Grendan.
"Only this will tilt the balance in the end."
Perhaps because it was immortal and continuously learned, but the machine Harpe would mix poetic expressions while it was speaking.
There were no so-called emotions in this, only that in its endless studying on how to correctly express information to humans, it had learned this manner of expression.
Harpe didn't suffer the effects or changes of time, but existed continuously in the form of a machine.
To prepare for the upcoming war.
At this time, the Cloud-Cell Interface that was both a machine and a weapon emitted light from its entire body.
All of the nanomachines that composed Harpe's exterior had become energy generators. The energy after it was released would become extraordinarily high heat rays, and it planned to burn down 'Vati B's core that had been struck down and had stopped moving.
If it had time, it could possibly start up the backup core that existed somewhere. In order to avoid that situation from happening, in order to burn it down without leaving half a trace, it had to release its attack as soon as possible.
Even though it knew its voice couldn't reach, it still roared. It had to give the warning; it couldn't endanger the humans.
Stopped in front of it, 'Vati B' hadn't changed. If it changed, he would have to fire the attack even if it would endanger the humans.
It couldn't give up the great chance to strike the final blow on it because of two humans.
The situation wouldn't develop into that. The motorcycle that the two humans were riding securely neared the safety range.
Harpe had long since locked on to its target, and next was only to fire the strike.
The trigger was pulled. The Cloud-Cell Interface's body was melted by the gargantuan energy as it directed the beam towards the abandoned city below.
The light rushed forwards, and an explosion erupted.
Harpe surveyed the scene while quickly carrying out confirmation checks. Eighty percent of the substance composing its body had been lost because of the heat, and its current body was ragged and dangling in the wind like a giant bundle of rags.
When the beam shot out, the giant bundle of rags in the sky became even more torn.
Though the shock had torn some of its thinking loops, Harpe still found the place where the beam had been fired from.
The opponent had special invisibility functions, so it hadn't noticed.
A huge fort had been positioned nearby as if to surround the city. Perhaps that positioning was in order to burn down the preparations that the abandoned city was carrying out.
Harpe roared. This wasn't a roar aimed at the Interface 1. It was a machine, and even if it could distinguish enemies and companions on its own, it didn't possess feelings like hatred towards its enemies. This wasn't a meaningless roar.
This was to warn the retreating humans who were driving the motorcycle.
But, that warning also wouldn't reach their ears. However, it still roared.
Even if no one heard, issuing a warning was still the job of the machine.
The wind of the explosion shook the motorcycle.
The aftermath just barely reached the location of Layfon and Felli, and judging by the scale of the destruction, that was very surprising.
Layfon who drove the motorcycle could see Felli out of the corner of his vision that she provided.
The beam of light that had dropped from the sky had penetrated the abandoned city, and the giant round structure had cracked in an instant, emitting smoke and flame as it crumbled. The violently raging heat and flame hadn't let the pieces become rubble, burning them in an instant.
The heatwave had chased after the motorcycle, seeming to almost push them into the air. Layfon released Kei, deflecting the heatwave.
"Are you alright?"
Felli sat in the sidecar, and Layfon listened to her voice, his eyes not halting his confirmation of the scene.
Harpe was also shown in the scene.
Though it was buried in the middle of the light, Harpe's presence was still huge enough to overwhelm someone, even if by now it had become ragged and swinging in the wind.
It could only be the heat ray that it had released that could have burned him like this. He could see how to use Kei techniques like this, but wasn't skilled enough to handle his power to produce this destruction.
"Is that the end?"
"Things should be alright now."
Yes, this was the end.
Satisfaction and discomfort alternated in his chest. The two of them had done what they had decided to do, except this wasn't the same as the feeling he had when the threat attacked head-on. It was a feeling of exhaustion like when he was finally able to relax, but with a tiny feeling of disappointment because he knew this wasn't the end. There was also the final numbness towards battle, which might have been because his attitude towards Military Arts was now different from the feeling of the progress and chasing his limits.
Could he truly do it? This doubt assaulted his heart.
Could he reach his goal like this? That sort of doubt.
He had arrived here with the desire to advance his future, and this had succeeded, giving him a sense of accomplishment, and this reality was a crucial element that made him unable to confirm whether the doubt that assaulted his heart was because he hadn't completely achieved his goal.
He had the uncomfortable mindset that if he didn't succeed this time, there wouldn't be a next time.
"In the end, we should quickly return to Zuellni. We need to confirm with our own eyes what that thing regarding Vati is about."
Was Vati truly like that? Was she truly a monster like a Nano-Celluloid? They had to confirm this.
"If she truly is, it'll be a big situation."
It wasn't Meishen alone whose life was in danger, but rather a crisis for the entirety of Zuellni.
Particularly if Vati herself knew that Layfon and Felli had noticed Vati's true goal, the situation would become even more so.
The two of them didn't have time to savor the feelings inside them. In order to proceed to Zuellni, Layfon prepared to adjust the direction of the motorcycle.
Just as he was about to do this.
The light became even brighter.
Layfon couldn't keep up with the speed of the light. After the beam of light shot out, Layfon shouted out, sliding the tires of the motorcycle against the ground and relying on this to reduce his speed.
He looked backwards.
The heavy sound of an explosion shook the sky. The place where Harpe had just been was surrounded by flame. The aftermath of the explosion rang out for a long time, and Layfon extended his hand to touch his weapon belt during the noise.
Layfon didn't have time to worry, and he drew out the Shim Adamantium Dite from his weapon belt.
"There's no response. ......No, this is......"
In order to catch up to Zuellni, Felli hadn't called back her Psychokinesis flakes, so she used those flakes to quickly analyze the situation, scanning the surroundings to check for suspicious objects.
"There's a response. The enemy has mimicked a rock, but I noticed its heat response. The enemy is a giant cannon."
Why would that kind of thing be here?
No, that wasn't it. Hadn't he just seen? The opponent could change form at will.
In other words, this situation was also like that.
Harpe's roar came from behind.
Harpe who had been torn by the explosion appeared. Its ragged body had become even smaller, with holes opened everywhere, and fire burning inside. Harpe rushed dangerously into the air in that condition.
The roar continued. Though it was only a roar to their ears, it carried a strange cadence, perhaps because the sound devices had broken.
"Don't you think this is very weird?"
Felli's actions were very fast. The things that Layfon felt doubts about, she had already begun to investigate.
"What it's yelling, the meaning is 'Lævateinn'."
Then, the giant cannon that had shot Harpe was the original body of Lævateinn?
Not 'Vati B', but the original.
Vati was here?
"There's a heat response from the mouth of the cannon, she plans to shoot again."
After he heard Felli say this, Layfon instantly took action.
"Please stay here and don't move!"
After leaving these words, Layfon dismounted from the motorcycle, and began running.
"Can I catch up......?"
He murmured as he ran.
No, he had to catch up. In this battle, Layfon didn't have any good intent for Harpe, but it could be said that the enemy of an enemy was a friend. Regardless of whether it was the Layfon from the past or the current Layfon, he thought this way.
One could also say...... that the meaning was that there were other ways to explain this.
'We're comrades who fought together!'
If it were Nina, she definitely would have charged out yelling something like this.
Layfon had also thought about this.
So Layfon ran. The conclusion was still the same - rescuing Harpe - the problem was the heart that made his feet move. The words that he had shelved in his heart were far too many, not at all unified.
He had never hated his methods of fighting calmly.
But he also greatly admired Nina, hoping that he could also become like her some day.
His thoughts were in disarray. Though they were in disarray, the answer still hadn't changed.
So he ran.
Who was Layfon Alseif? Even if the answer was complex, he still ran.
Dashing forward continuously.
(The heat in the barrel of the cannon has begun to increase rapidly, you may be too late......)
"I'll catch up!"
Layfon ran while compressing his Kei.
Psyharden Technique - Reflecting Water Ferry.
Layfon used almost all of the Kei that he had compressed, releasing all of the technique that he could in that moment of movement.
The giant cannon greeted his eye.
Layfon cut through the air as he moved, and the heat wrapped his body. Was this the excess heat created from the last shot, or the heat produced for the next attack? The protective gear had its limits, so Layfon had to stop his feet here.
(This place is already dangerous, if you're hit......)
He replied to Felli's warning. That phrase was half spoken for his self to hear, but he was also confident in it. The confidence he had acquired in the abandoned city helped solidify those words.
Layfon once again increased the speed of his Kei flow, taking a stance.
Heaven's Blade Art - Hazy Garret.
The Shim Adamantium Dite swung out, and the blade disappeared without a trace. The slash jumped without stopping, drawing towards the giant cannon.
Felli's voice almost became a scream.
Layfon retreated, and the feeling of striking the target was conveyed to the Dite grasped tightly in his palm.
The slash cut the outside of the cannon, and then sunk inside.
The rest was simple. Hazy Garret destroyed the shackles binding the energy compressed inside.
It took the form of an explosion.
The pressure of the explosion hit Layfon. Even so, he still pulled back in time.
(Layfon, are you alright?)
(We've made it this far, can you not do stupid things?)
"I guess that's true."
Layfon regulated his thoroughly disordered breathing. After getting rid of the situation that had suddenly appeared, even he had the mood of wanting to sit down right where he was.
Layfon didn't want disappointment to obliterate the feeling of success at a difficult task.
Layfon desperately held back the feeling of wanting to sit down. Just then, the words that coincidentally passed through his mind deeply provoked him.
He had achieved his goal in the abandoned city. He had stood and fought, and he had been able to fight.
"It's a pretty good feeling."
(Don't do stupid things just to feel good.)
Felli spoke strictly, and Layfon could only laugh as a response.
(Anyway, I'll go over there, please wait there.)
Layfon accepted Felli's kindness, sitting down on the ground. This wasn't because Layfon was tired, it could even be said that he was still in an excited state.
His mood was far too excited, and his body was occupied with feelings that his mind hadn't linked together yet.
"What is it? It's like I've experienced these feelings before."
In the motorcycle workshop, Layfon had seen Felli's driving skills. She still needed some time to get to this place. Layfon started thinking as he sat.
"Was it the first time I fought? The feeling's not really the same, so what is it......"
The scene was in his mind, but it was far too blurry, so he didn't really understand.
"What is it......? If there was something to refresh my memories......"
Layfon tried to look for a stimulus, but there wouldn't be such an object in the wilderness. What about the thing in his hand? Even if he looked at all the equipment of his protective gear, Layfon still couldn't think of that memory.
Seeing himself playing with the weapon belt, Layfon thought of it.
"Right, it was Leerin."
(......What about her?)
"Ah, it's not......"
The Psychokinetic flake brought Felli's voice, but the voice that also came from the distance made Layfon reflexively turn to look in that direction.
He thought that he would see the motorcycle. The time in which Felli had arrived was faster than he had thought, but that only meant that Felli had made progress in her driving skill.
He thought that as he turned his head.
There was a giant face there.
(What about her?)
Felli's voice asked again.
The face - wasn't something human. It was hard and rough, and covered with a substance like bone. Its jaw was very long, its teeth neatly lined up inside.
It was Harpe's face.
"I thank you two."
Harpe said this with a majestic voice.
"In order to prove my thanks, I will send you two to the place you want to go."
Layfon unconsciously thanked him, and then suddenly realized.
"Huh? Then Felli also......"
"She's already inside."
(I'm already inside.)
Layfon was surprised.
The second voice made him jump, and Harpe took one last look, opening its giant mouth wide.
This was also related to the fact that Layfon was exhausted.
The mouth swallowed.
Layfon wasn't fast enough to respond, and was swallowed by Harpe.
Before he realized it, Layfon noticed that he and Felli were in an unknown space.
"It seems like this is inside Harpe's body."
Layfon felt that it was hard to form words, but Felli who had arrived here first was unexpectedly able to speak calmly.
Layfon didn't need to look around him to be able to quickly confirm what was in the surroundings. In other words, there was nothing here at all. This place only had had a space for Layfon and Felli to sit on their knees, nothing more.
"This place, it......"
Seeing the walls surrounding them, Layfon felt that this scene was quite familiar.
Correct. In the city of Nina's great-grandfather Gildred, Layfon had once been enclosed inside a cramped space like this.
In the stifling space without any exits, that was obviously inorganic but was filled with an organic atmosphere.
"Though it's very oppressive, I can't feel any hostility."
(Well, this kind of condition really puts a great burden on the mind. Then, how is this?)
Harpe's voice sounded in all directions.
Afterwards, the scenery quickly changed. The space that had only the boring walls disappeared, and a cozy space where they could see the scenery outside appeared, as if a glass stage had been set up.
(If your destination is the Academy City Zuellni, there will still be two hours to get there. Is that correct?)
Harpe asked this of Layfon and Felli who were too surprised to utter a sound.
When he recovered from his surprise, Layfon almost wanted to nod, but restrained himself from making that movement at the last moment.
"I want to ask something, Vati is named something Lævateinn...... uh......"
"Nano-Celluloid. She is the Nano-Celluloid Interface 1 Lævateinn. I am the Cloud-Cell Separation Interface IV Harpe. I was born as a Nano-Celluloid, but have become enemies with them due to acting on different principles. Interface 1 is the mother of the initial series of Nano-Celluloids that were created, I cannot mistake it."
"Did you know that Vati Len was a Nano-Celluloid from the start?"
Felli asked instead of Layfon who was silent.
(I knew when she invaded. But she spread many fake bodies, so I had to spend time to locate the original body. I noticed thirty seconds before. Academy City Zuellni, where Interface 1 was, with the identity Vati Len.)
The voice with which Harpe spoke was very oppressive, full of a mechanical feeling.
"Is Vati...... Is Lævateinn still in Zuellni?"
(The main body has not yet moved, but the nanomachines that she controls have already moved. She plans to gather her fighting power. Interface 1 seems to plan to carry out her final plan.)
(She wants to release the master of the Nano-Celluloids, Ignasis. In order to accomplish that goal, she needs to destroy the world.)
"How could that......"
(The person who is the master key is sleeping deeply in Grendan in the form of a girl, and her death is the death of the world. This world is her creation, and it can only be maintained because of her.)
Layfon couldn't help but want to hold his head.
"Suddenly wanting me to trust this kind of thing, I......"
"But, Captain and Leerin are already fighting in this battleground."
"Then, the place we need to go is already decided."
Felli nodded, having no objections.
Was this because she had the same feelings? Or did she give all the decision-making authority to Layfon?
Regardless of the truth, Layfon couldn't betray the eyes with which Felli looked at him.
"Then let's go, to Grendan."
Translator's Notes and References
- Shante and Layfon fighting. See Volume 3.