Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume1 Chapter4
Chapter 4: Platoon Match
It's been a while since I wrote my last letter. A lot's happened over here, so I'm a bit tired. It's because of the cleaning duties in the Central Mechanism Chamber and school life.
I still haven't received your letter. I wonder whether my letter arrived safely?
I'm finding it very difficult to look for my future goal.
In Grendan, I was fortunate to have ability and it didn't take me long to choose the path of the Katana. But now I feel that I need huge courage to determine my own future.
Every time I look at these people who strive forward for their goals, I think they have lots of courage, yet I feel stupid and ridiculous for thinking that. I know there's no need to admire them. It's enough to look at my own goal.
Haha, how weak I am. Uh, I know that too. I've come to Zuellni, but I still haven't found my goal.
My school life is smooth.
It'd be great if I could find what I want to do in these six years. I can't be too lazy about it, but there's no point panicking.
How're you over there? I'm sure you're doing fine.
May you have a happy future.
To my dear Leerin Marfes,
He wanted money.
He didn't really care for the reputation that came with the Heaven's Blade. He thought learning the katana was the fastest way to earn money, as his Master had praised his talent with the katana.
Lance Shelled Grendan. It was fortunate he was born in this city that prospered on Military Arts. He didn't know his parents, but he was thankful of them for giving him talent with the katana.
He had to use this power to make money.
He lived for fifteen years with that purpose alone.
The luckiest thing that happened was that he became a successor of the Heaven's Blade before he was 14.
But he was still troubled by money.
The air of commotion stretched out from the locker room to the narrow corridor.
Layfon walked silently in the corridor. He let out a light sigh and tried to relieve the illusive pressure that was bearing down on him from the air.
But he couldn't do it.
He thought he had let it all out, but the irritating feeling rushed back into his chest. He felt his stomach, the pressure refusing to go away.
"Are you all right?" Nina asked beside him.
"......I should ask you, senpai. You don't look well yourself."
"Don't talk nonsense. I'm very calm."
Despite her reply, it was clear that she didn't feel as calm. Her eyes were darting around, and her footsteps were less firm.
"Anyway, the 16th platoon is good at formations, but once a formation becomes shaky, there'll be an opening."
"You said that three times already."
Nina glared at him. He wasn't afraid of her getting mad. The light pink on the edge of her cheeks meant she was only covering up her embarrassment. Even so, he moved his gaze away from her.
"Listen. I'm sorry, but we can't rely much on Sharnid's support. I need him to move alone today. And Felli's progress in tracking enemies hasn't improved," she said with a sour expression.
Although they had been training since that day, Sharnid's long-distance shots failed to coordinate with the team's movement, and Felli's detection of enemies hadn't improved.
(Uh, of course.)
He didn't know what the deal was with Sharnid, but it was expected of Felli. She was determined not to work at her best so her brother would let her go.
(About that point, I'm the same.)
"This time we're on the offensive. As long as I don't fall, we won't lose. We'll respond depending on the situation today and win the match. Thank goodness my coordination with you has improved."
She thwacked a fist against Layfon's chest. It was a light strike, but he still coughed at the contact.
After platoon training, he always trained alone with Nina. Because of that, he could accurately read Nina's attack pattern, and she also seemed to understand how Layfon would react.
Nina mumbled as she looked at the map in her hand. This must be her strategic plan. She was thinking hard on how to win with the current strength of the team.
From dark bags under her blood-shot eyes, it was clear she was determined to win this match.
Yes, today, they had a platoon match.
Match. Just thinking of that word made his stomach hurt.
"I'm sorry. I need to go to the bathroom," Layfon apologized.
"Got it. I'll go ahead then," Nina said, still deeply absorbed in the map.
In the men's bathroom, Layfon splashed tap water onto his face. The coldness of the water cleared his head.
"Ugh, it's still not working."
The pain in his stomach hadn't subsided, and he could also feel the pressure in his chest.
"What's wrong? You don't look well." A voice floated over just as he was about to splash his face again. He didn't turn to address the owner of the voice, but he saw the other person's face in the mirror.
Felli would never have thought such a gentle smile could adorn Karian's face.
"......What do you want?"
"There's no need to be on guard. I'm here to give the new platoon some encouragement. I just saw you on the way here. You don't look well."
"I'm tense because it's almost time for the match."
Layfon didn't detect any pressure from Karian, the pressure he felt when he first met the Student President. But there was a certain dissatisfaction mixed up with the pain in Layfon's stomach. His gaze reflected in the mirror also looked worse.
"How could that be? This is child's play to you, Wolfstein."
"......It's meaningless no matter how many times you repeat that title. It doesn't belong to me anymore. I was expelled from Grendan and I don't have the Heaven Blade."
His disapproval of Karian......Could be because of Felli's words. He resisted Karian who even used his own sister to reach his goal.
"And why is that? Are you not satisfied with me waiving your school fees? Speaking of which, you're still cleaning in the Central Mechanism Chamber. Do you still need money? If so......"
"......That isn't the problem."
"Then what's the issue? Layfon Alseif. The Heaven's Blade Wielder Wolfstein I know cares more about money than reputation."
Karian didn't change his expression, but his words cut straight to the core. Layfon only collected himself at the huge noise that came from the floor tiles when he stomped on them.
Karian's reflection on the mirror maintained his smile.
"I don't know where you got that information from......but it's incomplete."
"Um, just what's going on? Can you explain to me what kind of a person Wolfstein is?"
"No. That's something you don't have to know."
"It's fine if you don't tell me. I just want you to perform well in the fight."
Karian ended the conversation one-sidedly and went out into the corridor.
Layfon watched his back, having no desire to chase after him.
"Yes, yes......" Karian suddenly halted his steps.
"I hope you can stop your naive thinking that playing around in the match can get you back into General Studies. I've said so already. I'll do anything for the survival of the city. As long as something is useful to me, I'll use it."
"Even if it's your sister?"
"Even if it's my sister. Well, I'm going now."
Karian moved out of Layfon's sight. He must be heading for the locker room of the 17th platoon. Layfon stayed rooted to the spot. He didn't want to see Karian again in the locker room.
He sat on the edge of the sink, lifted his head to watch the ceiling with his hand covering his wet face.
Letting out his emotion failed to alleviate the pain in his stomach.
Meishen looked at the basket resentfully on her knees.
"You can't help it. They said non-related personnel can't enter before the match," Mifi comforted her in the audience seat.
Meishen gazed at the basket regretfully. She got up early today just to make this bento.
"......Lay......ton lives alone. He might not have had breakfast."
"Perhaps, but we didn't ask him to come out. Just forget it," Mifi said, pretending not to have heard the pause between "Lay" and "ton".
(Layfon? Layfon-kun? Just which one is it? Hmm, with Meishen's personality, it probably is Layfon-kun......I don't think she'd want to call him just "Lay.")
Mifi thought so.
She knew Meishen greatly admired Layfon, that was why they became friends, but she never thought Meishen would have made him bento with her own two hands.
(Is there a chance? Layton seems pretty slow with this kind of thing.)
She looked at Meishen. Meishen was delicate and small. She was about the same height as Felli. Her face? It would be Felli's overwhelming win in that area. The two girls were of different types, but the girl in the 17th platoon was exactly like an exquisite doll. She gave off an illusive and dangerous allure from head to toe. Compared to her, Meishen definitely wasn't not cute, but she always had this about-to-cry look in between her eyebrows.
What about body build? Meishen had the advantage in this area. She was the most physically matured out of the three of them. Although her small stature didn't quite match, her body was so grown up that even Mifi herself felt inferior.
Even now, the surrounding males were boldly staring at the curve of her chest.
About chest size, the order went: Meishen, Mifi, and lastly Naruki. The order was reversed when it came to height.
(I'm always in the middle. It feels like I'm losing out.)
Meishen didn't let any boys get close to her because of her shyness, but at the same time, she was protected by many guys. Naruki's brave and bold personality also made it hard for anyone to get close, but everyone agreed she was beautiful.
(Only I'm not liked. I haven't received a love letter either.)
"What is it? Still sulking?" Naruki came back with some juice.
Naruki's short hair danced in the wind. She frowned at it. Both her hands were occupied with snacks and three paper cups of juice, so she couldn't smooth out her hair.
That pose suited her.
"It's unexpectedly crowded. I waited a long time in the queue......What's up?"
Mifi snatched up her own juice and snack, and lifted her gaze to watch the arena.
The uneven ground of the war field, dotted here and there with trees, was fenced in. Above was the camera of the Alchemy course, controlled by a Psychokinesist. It was currently being tested; The big screens facing the audience seats cycled through different areas of the field.
"Isn't it about time? When is Layton's match?"
Meishen should know, but why was Mifi angry? Naruki didn't get it.
"There are four matches today and Layton's is the third. How is the unknown 17th platoon gonna react to the speed of the 16th platoon? Everyone's interested in that, but the odds on them aren't good. Layton's team falls way behind."
"People are gambling on this?"
Sharp light shot from Naruki's eyes. Gambling over a platoon match was illegal. In Naruki's harness was a Dite with the symbol of the City Police on it.
"I didn't place a bet."
"Besides, it's useless for you to stop it. It hasn't received official permission, but it's mutually acknowledged. As long as they don't make a mess, the City Police won't do anything about it," Mifi said.
Naruki grunted, looking around with outrage in her eyes.
"Really...... Why are all Military Artists obsessed? It's just entertainment."
"What nonsense! Military Arts is heaven's greatest gift to humanity. To dirty it through one's own desire......"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. What do you think of Layton's situation?" Mifi changed the subject.
Naruki thought for a moment.
"Well......" she said with a different feeling from before and touched her chin.
"I'm not sure how good his comrades are, but I think he's strong. Yes, that's what I think......"
"What is it?" Mifi said, noticing her hesitation.
"I've only trained with Internal-type Kei, but Layton's External-type Burst Kei isn't too bad. But I feel that...He himself isn't too keen on the match."
"......Layton, he wouldn't get hurt, would he?" Meishen said, a deep frown sitting between her eyebrows, as if she was about to cry.
Naruki smiled and shook her head. "They're using blunted weapons. We don't have to worry about him sustaining any injuries."
"Though, every year, the average number of people getting injured in Military Arts is around 300. It's three times more than other courses and it's mostly caused in training and matches."
Mifi's words made the tears fall from Meishen's eyes.
Naruki's fist connected with Mifi's head.
His stomach had stopped hurting, but now his brain felt dull and listless. Layfon wasn't keen on the match at all.
The team walked into the corridor, leaving the locker room for the match. Sunlight replaced the artificial light. The fervent atmosphere surrounded them.
"Ah!" Layfon voiced his annoyance at the unusual scene in the battlefield.
Numerous students sat in the audience section and a camera hovered in the air. One of the big screens showed the members of platoon 17.
Sharnid waved at the camera. Some students in the audience section shouted in shrill excitement. Sharnid's smile widened.
"This atmosphere suits me the best. I think I can perform three times better than usual!"
"I hope so," Nina said, coldly glancing at him, disapproving his flippant attitude. She then scanned the field.
"Except for the area we're now in, everything else is about the same as usual."
As Nina said, the terrain wasn't that different from usual.
"We can't be careless. The defense team might have set traps. Felli, search for the enemies and traps when the match begins. Can you handle both?"
"Who knows," Felli replied, supporting herself on her staff. Nina's expression turned harsh.
The atmosphere made Layfon feel weak on his shoulders.
The commentator for the match spoke through the loudspeaker, his voice full of energy. The match was about to begin. Layfon restored his Dite.
He held a greenish blue sword.
In the past, he held it because of money.
The light from the green Dite didn't have Kei in it. It was simply reflecting the ray of the sun. The beautiful and empty light weighed down on Layfon.
It was all because of his recklessness at the opening ceremony. He was hassled by the riot. Before he knew what was happening, he had suppressed the culprits of the riot.
Why did he do that? He regretted his action.
"Hmm? What is it?"
He spoke in a whisper, but Nina had heard it.
The siren signaling the beginning of the match drowned out his reply.
"Time to go," Nina said.
Layfon followed behind her.
Inside the Student President's room, Karian watched the screen. Both camps in the match had moved out after the siren sounded. Karian's gaze followed the attacker who was dragging his greenish blue sword behind and clumsily chasing after his captain.
"Is this the guy that the Student President admires?"
The owner of the voice was a Military Student, standing before the office desk. With an awe-inspiring countenance, the muscular man patted the beard on his chin, watching the screen.
"His movements are clumsy and his flow of Kei is really bad. Did he really suppress the riot in the opening ceremony?"
"The very same, Military Arts' Commander Vance."
Vance Hardy, Commander of Military Arts – the representative of the Military Arts course leaned on the office desk, watching the screen with incomprehension.
"Well then, he lacks enthusiasm. What a useless guy. This includes the one who transferred him into Military Arts."
Karian shrugged and avoided eye contact.
"I can guarantee his true ability. No one in Zuellni can be his opponent if he's serious. This is only a gathering for a group of novices, an amateurish organization. To one who immersed himself in the professional world for so many years, this match is a child's game."
"We're betting our lives on this game."
"Yes, even if it's a game , the ideal we hold to keep the city alive is the same, but he doesn't seem to understand that."
"And there's also your sister."
"Have you a different opinion, Commander?"
"Of course. The two who lack enthusiasm and the Sharnid with real power but no cooperation. As the Military Arts Commander and the one who is responsible for the city's defense, I have a lot to complain about for giving Nina a platoon with so many issues. It makes more sense to put her in another platoon and nurture her that way."
"Wasn't she the one who refused that proposal?"
Vance shut his mouth.
"Two years ago, everyone had huge expectations for her. She was accepted into a platoon when she was only in first year. But she'd changed her mind since we failed in the Military Arts competition. She formed her own team because of that. She chose Sharnid herself. I gave her the other two, but I did it with the belief that she could use them well."
"I'm against her forming a platoon."
"Unfortunately, I have the final say."
"......Are you planning to destroy the future of an excellent student!?" Vance roared and struck the desk with his fist. The air vibrated. He was twice as muscular as Karian, but the Student President remained calm.
"Only if this city survives," Karian waved away the vibrating air. "Can you guarantee we'll win in the next competition?"
The gentle smiled disappeared. Karian challenged Vance with a gaze as sharp as the blade of a knife. The Commander lifted his thick eyebrows and accepted the challenge.
"There are no absolutes in war," Vance said.
"Yes, but I still want an absolute guarantee. We must win to guarantee the survival of this city. Humans can't live without the city. This cold world rejects us. I think you should know the meaning of losing a city?"
What was outside the city – The few plants that managed to survive on this polluted earth were poisonous. The only survivors were the filth monsters that had overcome the poison.
Unable to survive in this harsh world, humans could only live in an artificial world – in a mobile city.
"Of course I understand that. But this is an Academy. It's a place of learning. I won't abandon good students!"
"I'm nurturing them."
"You can obtain something by failing. Humans grow through failures. The greatest proof of maturity is what one obtains through enormous suffering. My sister and Layfon Alseif haven't yet understood this point, so I've thrown them over there."
"Meaning this platoon is full of abandoned students?"
"They haven't been abandoned. You can only make conclusions after the result."
"In the end, even you can't guarantee the result."
Karian nodded as if this was natural. "There's nothing absolute about people. If it exists, I'll become a mad believer."
He moved his gaze back to the screen.
The camera controlled by Psychokinesis was filming a certain area of the war field.
Layfon's desperate expression, his face stuck with sweat and dust, appeared on the screen.
"In this life and death situation, you'll be suspected. Have you truly given up? Or have you not?" Karian's murmuring turned Vance's gaze to the screen too.
The 17th platoon was losing.
A platoon must have at least four fighting members.
Yes, that was written in the Military Arts handbook. The 17th platoon had four people, so it fulfilled the minimal number. Harley wasn't in the count as he wasn't a fighter.
Then what about the maximum number?
The 16th platoon had five fighting members. This was already counted as a small platoon. Usually, a platoon had seven fighting members.
Preparing the fighting strength of the team was an absolute must to win and survive, but the 17th platoon lacked this.
The excuse of not having enough time made no difference in the field. The excuse of the losing team was just a dog's barking, not worth listening to. Besides, Nina had no intention of giving voice to it.
The 17th platoon lacked the strength of one more member.
He couldn't help but think that the result could be overturned.
Truly, that was what Layfon was thinking, even though he didn't plan to win.
How naive of him.
When the siren sounded, he and Nina rushed forward to the enemy base. They had to eliminate the entire enemy team to win, or make them lose their fighting capability and destroy the flag they were protecting. On the other hand, the defense team had to either defeat the captain of the enemy team or protect their flag within the time limit. The defense team could set traps in the field before the match, so they had the advantage if they were to just keep on the defensive side.
It was like this because the victory conditions in a real Military Arts competition were the defeat of the enemy's forces or the destruction of the city's Central Mechanism, which was represented by the flag.
"The other team will probably choose to defend. All they need to do is protect their flag until the time limit," Nina said in the locker room.
"Me and Layfon will act as bait. During that time, Sharnid is to snipe the flag. It's an old-fashioned but realistic plan."
"Layfon, the first problem we'll face is getting through the traps as fast as we can. The 16th platoon can't easily detect Sharnid's Kei, but we'll have to attract the Psychokinesist's attention with our speed. Our mission is to confuse the other team."
That was why the two of them were running on the uneven ground and heading straight for the front line of the opposing team. They moved at their highest speed while running through bushes and staying alert for traps.
Something felt wrong.
"Layfon, be careful," Nina said from behind. She felt it too.
There weren't any traps.
On the ground could be simple traps like pits, nets, conductive wires......and bundles of grass to trip one's feet......They didn't find any mines controlled by Psychokinesis. Except for the changes made to the terrain for the match, nothing else looked different.
On Nina's gesture, Layfon stopped running and hid inside the shadow of the bush.
"Felli, have you found the enemy's position?"
"Two reactions in the enemy camp, and three at the front. None of the targets are moving," Felli answered lightly through the transmitter. The opponents didn't plan to hide any of their moves.
"They plan to receive our attack without reducing our strength through traps? Are we being underestimated?" Nina mumbled.
Another voice came through the transmitter. "This is Sharnid. I'm in position. There's something blocking my target, but this is the best position I could find. If there's a better opening, I guarantee my shot will hit."
So he planned to hit the obstacle before sniping the flag. But with that much time wasted, both the Psychokinesist and people who could use External-type Burst Kei might discover Sharnid's position. He'd become the target of the enemy's sniper.
"Wait a minute. Just stay there and wait for your order."
"Roger. I'll shoot if a chance presents itself."
"I'm counting on you."
Nina's gaze threw out a question at Layfon.
(What do we do?)
He knew they could only keep on moving. The 16th platoon couldn't be unaware of the two of them. Even so, three members of the enemy team hadn't made a move, meaning they planned to receive attacks head-on.
And if the 17th platoon didn't take any action, the enemies would remain where they were till the time ran out. They would win.
There was only one thing left to do.
Fight the enemy. In a 2 vs 5 fight, the 17th platoon was at a disadvantage.
"Geez," Layfon complained in a low voice. Although the situation was as predicted, this was exactly what the other team had planned.
(What do we do next?)
Layfon's gaze reflected his question, and Nina wordlessly nodded. Now they had to rush the front line, just as they had agreed. He didn't understand why she was full of confidence. Her voice came through his transmitter.
"We'll follow the original plan. We'll draw the attackers into the front section of the field. Aim for the ground when we get there and use the smoke to confuse the enemy."
"Just don't get in my line of sight!" Sharnid said.
Felli asked for Sharnid's position, and Nina gave Layfon an order.
"Draw the enemy to the west."
The two of them signaled through eye contact. Layfon emerged from the bush, followed closely by Nina. As he ran, he extended his Kei to his blade. The Kei flowed like blood. This was a Kei vein. It connected Layfon's palm to the sword so the blade became a part of his body. The blade gave off a clear, blue light that was unlike that of the sun's. Layfon could feel the murky feeling from the blade.
Because he could feel the blade as if it had grown a nervous system overnight, he experienced the unnatural, numb and irritating feeling......a novice might be satisfied at this stage, but not Layfon. He needed it to be more intense. The colour of his Kei could be more vivid, more exciting.
The color of Kei on his blade looked so unsightly!
He clamped down his teeth to suppress his desire. He knew his best Kei wasn't of this level. But what would it do to use his best Kei here? What did he want to do? Nothing. He couldn't use his full power because he didn't know what he wanted to do.
What he was searching for wasn't the gem-like color of his Kei.
The shrill voice came not from the transmitter. He realized his consciousness had drifted off. He gazed back at the scene before him, but his heart was not in it.
When he collected himself, he was in a sea of dust.
In the moment they emerged from the bushes, their enemies had also arrived with high speed. And that speed had filled the air with dust and soil particles, blocking out the sun and dimming the surrounding area.
Layfon stopped running. He looked around, sensing Nina behind him.
"Look closely at the flow of the air!" Nina's order came through his transmitter.
He was irritated.
How could she give him such a basic method of searching?
Gritting his teeth, he watched the dust whirls before him.
Three dust whirls.
He slashed out with the sword, the pressure extending to his wrists. There were two pressures, canceling each other. One pressure flowed through Layfon's body, causing him to kneel on the ground.
Nina kept silent.
She was directing her attack at another whirl.
"Whirl Kei (Senkei)......" he murmured, then rolled away from his current position to confirm the situation.
Three figures separated Layfon and Nina.
This was an Internal-type Kei technique. It could strengthen the legs tremendously and made high speed movement possible. These three must have gone through special training in Whirl Kei.
After confirming their positions, the enemies had used their attack to confuse their vision, then executed a speedy attack with Whirl Kei. Their execution was flawless. They must have had special training in it.
They didn't need to set up traps at all. The simultaneous attack of the Whirl Kei was the biggest trap.
That strategy had also given Layfon's team a chance. He and Nina had completely attracted the enemy's attention. Next, they only needed to make an opening for Sharnid......
And he realized his foolishness.
Three people separated him and Nina. Once Nina fell, they would have lost.
Layfon couldn't get up because of the numbness in his knees. The pressure of the high speed attack remained in his body, preventing him from using his strength.
As he was trying to get up, one of the opponents rushed to him again with a high-speed Whirl Kei attack. Dust filled the air. A presence that Layfon couldn't see with his eyes was closing in. He blocked the attack with his sword. The instability of his legs caused him to fly through the air and he fell, rolling on the ground.
The pressure of the attack ran through his body. Sparks exploded in his vision. He had almost hit his head on the ground. Even so, he still had to get back up. He saw Nina defending from a Whirl Kei attack with her iron whips.
Rooted tightly on the spot, she held tight to her two irons whips, receiving the high speed strikes.
Compared to attacking, she was probably better at defense. She watched her two opponents calmly, and used her External-type Burst Kei to minimize the force of the strikes.
Which was completely different from the clumsy-looking Layfon, rolling on the ground like a fool. In Nina's eyes was an indomitable light. The two iron whips spoke true of her determination.
That pose was like a firm iron fortress.
He had no time to be fascinated by the scene.
Again, he blocked an attack with his sword, and fell tumbling on the dusty ground.
"This is annoying!" Layfon's attacker said. Layfon couldn't see his opponent's expression through the dust screen, but he understood the enemy was frustrated that Layfon could block the speedy attacks despite his clumsiness.
Another strike. Layfon once again tumbled across the earth. He was worse than a rolling stone. All he heard was the vibration deep in his ears. He couldn't hear any external noise properly. His head had been hit numerous times and his consciousness began to dim.
(Why am I doing this?)
He staggered to his feet and was still considering this question as he once again received another attack, only to fall rolling on the ground.
(It doesn't matter if we lose, right?)
This wasn't a fight to determine the fate of the city. This was just a school activity. It shouldn't matter if they lost. The Academy City wouldn't lose its Electronic Fairy because of it.
Even so, why was he letting the enemy attack him? For what purpose was he sustaining all these injuries? He couldn't comprehend what he was doing.
(It shouldn't matter if we lose?)
He confirmed once more.
(Yes. It doesn't matter.)
It was all right to throw away his sword. It was all right to stay still and not get up. It was unnecessary to make himself more tired and muddy. He had a break today, but he had to clean the Central Mechanism Chamber tomorrow. It wouldn't do to waste his strength here. He might even fall ill.
It wasn't good to damage his physical condition, otherwise he couldn't make any money. He was an orphan without anyone to rely on, so he needed money. No one would send him an allowance. He could only rely on the scholarship. Sure, his school fees were waived, but if the Student President changed his mind, all the privileges would disappear. To save up for his future, he must make money.
Money, money, money......
All of a sudden, he subconsciously looked at the sword held tightly in his hand. Light still emitted from the green Dite.
(It was always money on my lips in the past.)
He didn't hate himself. In truth, money was necessary.
(Wasn't there something else?)
Only that he was more desperate in the past. Not for himself, but for the running of the orphanage. The Head of the orphanage, his adopted father, the person who first saw the potential of katana skill in Layfon, his Master, viewed money as trash. To put it in a worse light, he had no concept of money. So they were always troubled with finances. When Layfon found out he had the talent for the katana, he had decided to use this ability to earn money. For that purpose, he was determined to obtain a Heaven's Blade and become the best fighter in Grendan. In Layfon's heart, he didn't hold any simple and innocent admiration for the strong. He was only realistically following the rules of the world and from there, chose his path.
And now, he only needed to make money for himself. Enough money to keep on living. This was in itself difficult, but he didn't have to be as desperate as before.
(Don't I have something more important?)
He contemplated while rolling on the ground, his brain almost empty from sustaining repeated hits.
For example, the opposite sex.
He was disappointed that this was the first thing that came to mind. But because of this thought, the face of his childhood friend, Leerin, surfaced. And lastly was the feeling of their lips touching.
(But what can I do for Leerin?)
Nothing. He wanted her to see him finding his purpose in this city – A Layfon who had succeeded in something other than the katana. But this felt different from what he wanted to do for Leerin. A gap forever separated people in different mobile cities, then perhaps, in his heart, he failed to look at Leerin as someone other than his childhood friend.
The touch of her lips made him realize she was female, but he still failed to look at her as someone of the opposite sex.
(We're like siblings, even though we aren't related by blood.)
It was a feeling nurtured through living in the same orphanage. That couldn't be helped.
Then who? As he thought of that, only Nina was in his line of sight. She stood in the Military Arts world that Layfon had given up. He envied her bright and dazzling form.
And he remembered three other students. One of them was in Military Arts, but they were all striving for what they wanted to do. He was jealous of that bright form.
Felli's experience was similar to his. A girl who believed she had no other choice but to follow the footsteps of her inborn ability. Although the road she had gone through to arrive here was different from his, he could understand her feeling on Naruki and her friends. They were too dazzling.
(Ahah, what a mess.)
What could he do for them? Nothing?
He thought, rolling again on the ground. His opponent continued to prattle off his reproofs under his breath. Things like "Hurry up and fall." "This is so annoying." "I don't have time for this."
What could he do? What did he want to do?
He couldn't think up an answer.
Not even an answer as tiny as the tip of his finger nail.
He finally looked around him. He hadn't been counting, so he wasn't sure how many times he had been falling and climbing back to his feet. The dead end of his thoughts forced him back into the present.
"......Senpai?" he muttered, toppling onto the ground from another attack.
The sight he then saw in that one single moment was vividly carved into his mind.
She was kneeling on one knee.
No matter how good she was at defense, there had to be a limit. The accumulated injuries had taken away the strength in her legs.
She had become less responsive. The Kei receiving the high-speed attack was losing its strength. The light of her Kei flow in the iron whips had lost its vitality.
Senpai will fall.
Senpai will fall.
The platoon will fail.
The team will be disbanded.
Senpai will never get back her spirit.
Such naive thoughts surfaced one after another in Layfon's head.
(This won't do.)
And till now, the thought of losing had already disappeared. Layfon picked himself up.
"You're so annoying!" His opponent howled and closed in for another high-speed attack.
Layfon jumped aside. He already knew the position of his opponent. Since the movement was based on Whirl Kei, what came next was just a straight path to Layfon. Once Layfon timed the moment of his enemy's move, determining his opponent's position wouldn't be a problem at all.
The important point was how to judge the timing.
Forgetting about the man who just sped past him, Layfon raised his sword.
"That's a bit far."
Because he'd been rolling on the ground, he now stood a fair bit of a distance from Nina. Even if he ran over now, he wouldn't make it in time.
"In that case......"
He slashed out with his sword. He wasn't even thinking of the Kei flowing through his blade. This was a natural movement for him. Changing the quality of the Kei on his Dite, the Kei shot out of his blade on the momentum of its slashing movement.
It wasn't the same as shooting out Kei. He focused his Kei on one point only.
This was one of the moves of the External-type Burst Kei – Needle Kei (Shin Kei).
Kei sharp as needles struck one of the members of the 16th platoon and sent him sailing through the air.
While the other attacker was spacing out at his suddenly flying comrade, Layfon extended his Kei to his feet.
An Internal-type Kei -- Whirl Kei.
As he headed for Nina, he used his sword to send another attacker flying.
He stopped behind Nina and searched around for more enemies. The two people he had sent flying through the air had not returned to the field. He couldn't feel any hostile Kei. Those two must have fainted.
Layfon didn't understand Nina's surprise. What was so surprising about that?
Just when he was confused over this, the siren rang.
"The flag's been destroyed! The 17th platoon wins!"
The commentator shouted excitedly. The audience roared in commotion.
"Hahaha! Did you see? I destroyed the flag with two shots, as promised," Sharnid's excited voice came through the transmitter.
But it sounded far away to Layfon.