Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume25 High Booster
There was a city in the wilderness.
It seemed to be a city that had perished before its foundations were formed, and hence not a single bit of greenery was visible on the earth around her. The dry, cracked ground wasn't suited to the kind of vehicle she was riding.
Nina gave up on it, getting off her motorcycle.
"How is it?"
(There's no movement.)
The Psychokinesis flake sewn into the white fighting gear replied to Nina's question in a dry voice.
"How are the inspections of the interior?"
(The interference is very severe, so we can't get any useful information right now.)
"What about the surroundings?"
(Right. We noticed many traces of large moving objects, and they ought to have been left behind recently.)
"In that case, there's definitely someone preparing something inside."
(Yes, the teams are currently moving to the designated location. Commander, you......)
"I'm moving up."
Nina stopped the Psychokinesist from speaking and moved forward.
The city she could see in the distance was entangled with machinery that had gone out of control, and they had all withered. Extensive dry moss covered the decaying city like a canopy, as if to conceal this corpse.
But what if that veil wasn't just hiding the corpse of the city?
Nina muttered quietly.
A meeting several days ago was the reason she had come here.
It was sometimes referred to dramatically as 'The Night the Sky Fell'.
The world had started changing greatly since that night they had fought against that violent flame.
Some of the first changes that happened were the reduction of pollutants and the subsequent reduction in filth monsters.
Along with the stoppage of the autonomous moving cities (Regios).
The wilderness reclamation work headed by Karian Loss's Pioneering Group was affecting many cities and people. People quickly started leaving the moving cities.
At the same time, problems of territorial ownership occurred between people who lived on the unmoving earth and the moving cities that roamed the land, but those problems didn't stay for long and didn't become serious.
Because afterwards, the phenomenon known as the 'Budding' occurred, where the moving cities stopped.
It was confirmed at the beginning that the moving cities had stopped moving, but they didn't end up stopping completely. Organic machinery composed of dense plants rapidly proliferated as if out of control, and roots eroded the land of city and even spread to the surrounding area.
Not long afterwards, the cities became huge tree and regenerated the surrounding land. The various microorganisms and trees formed by plants penetrated deep into the ground, recreating the cycles of a natural world.
The people driven out of the cities by the Budding quickly adapted to their new environment thanks to the land's regeneration and the combined efforts of the Loss Pioneering Group and other pioneers.
And like that, humans returned to an unmoving ground.
Not long afterwards, the pioneering group formed a nation, and communication and transportation within the nation was gradually set up appropriately. Finally, a common calendar was produced.
Year fourteen of the New Earth calendar.
That was the current era.
The location where they had agreed to meet was a road called Euphter.
A landmark of the meeting place was a beautiful fountain statue. Nina tilted her head and looked confused in front of it. She checked the watch on her wrist and also checked the clock in the statue's arms.
The time was the same.
And the time of their meeting had already passed.
"She's usually very timely."
Nina looked at the road after murmuring this.
In the distance was a Regios, an expanding canopy of green.
Her chest throbbed when she gazed at the image of the moving city transformed into a mother tree.
The first to 'Bud' had been Ahasnahart. Nina had witnessed her determination first-hand.
The mother tree she saw over there wasn't Ahasnahart, but her determination had certainly become the foundations of the current era.
"We must change along with the times. That's true for all living things. It's just our form that is different from humans."
After leaving those words, the mother of the Electronic Fairies, Schneibel, had moved to become a mother tree.
"Speaking of which......"
Nina pulled her consciousness back to reality, as if to escape from her thoughts.
"She's not the kind of person to come late."
But the person Nina had planned on finding was a person she had been connected to in the past. She wanted to think about their friendship, but memories kept surfacing like bubbles.
Just when Nina was unsure how to deal with her feelings, reality called out to her.
She heard a quiet voice mixed in with the group of people.
It was the voice of a person.
A muffled wail.
The moment she heard that voice, Nina was no longer where she had been. The gust of wind that blew in that instant made the nearby pedestrians stop for a moment. But none of them were able to think of the fact that Nina had just been over there, so they continued walking.
Though the city center was clean, dirty blemishes became visible when you walked around the city. Maze-like alleys, tall buildings that seemed to be jostling with one another, smells that accumulated in the shadows...... Humans had had managed their limited land well before, but after being granted infinitely vast land, that mentality had crumbled right away. People were quick to look away from the problems they created and start something new somewhere else.
The vast land gave people the illusion that it was infinite. The momentous changes to society and the expansion into this land led the brain to keep pushing the idea of 'development' forward, and the phrase 'maintenance' was forgotten.
This place was another area that had forgotten about the maintenance work.
Crime occurred readily because it had become hard to see.
The woman who was being taken away in front of her was a victim of crime too.
Three men ran holding the woman. Something like a bag was over the woman's face. Those people had attacked her from behind and rapidly covered her eyes and mouth with the bag, and then put her over their backs. The way the woman looked made the scene from back then appear in her mind.
Nina took the initiative to circle around in front of them and called out to stop them.
Nina's sudden appearance made the men stop. Wails from under the bag reached her ears.
"Do you know who she is?"
A knife answered Nina's question.
Along with fast movements.
Judging by how all three of them took out knives, the men were clearly residents of the streets. Knives were definitely better than swords as a weapon in this kind of narrow alley.
Their movements were quite skilled, to approach her at high speed in this narrow alley without bumping into each other.
But Nina didn't even hold a Dite.
After confirming that the woman had been released, she stepped forward unarmed, slipping through the gaps between the men like water and dodging their attack. Then she caught the woman.
Nina took off the bag.
"Guah! Ack, ugh...... Huh, Nina?"
"Are you alright, Leu?"
"B......Barely...... Uh, what happened?"
"You were kidnapped."
Nina turned around after saying this to the wide-eyed Leu.
The three men were all unconscious on the ground.
"If you were five kilomels farther, even I probably wouldn't have heard your voice."
"Uh, I wouldn't walk that far alone either."
Nina's words put a stunned expression on Leu's face.
After that, Leu checked the men herself.
"Are they dead?"
"No, I just put them to sleep. What should we do? Police?"
"No, they don't know anything anyway."
Nina reached inside the pockets of one of the men, but there was nothing that could verify their identities.
"Don't worry about it. We're almost too late for our reservation, so let's go."
After fixing her messed-up hair with an expression of disgust, Leu looked at her watch and cried out again.
She wore a suit. There was no falsity in her words or actions - no expressions of weakness like trembling fingers.
"......You've become very strong, Leu."
"Don't look down on a negotiator."
Her back honestly looked very reliable as she bravely said that.
They made it to the place they had reserved.
This store of local Euphter cuisine was one that Leu had discovered, so it was very delicious.
"I said I was looking, but it's more like I'm having other people look. Well, it's basically gathering intelligence."
"Ah, I see."
"Right, how come you moved the Third to Nairomiro?"
"Ahh, that's a countermeasure against Searchers."
"What's your real purpose?"
"......It's the truth that there are Searchers."
Nina glanced around.
The store had prepared a booth for them. This area was deep inside the store, so their voices wouldn't leak outside. At least as long as there weren't any Psychokinesis flakes or listening devices.
Even if she listened intently, she couldn't hear any strange mechanical noises or the unique sound of Psychokinesis flakes.
No, as a wartime negotiator for the National Coalition, she wouldn't have made such a blunder.
"What a pain. I can understand why they want to station troops there beforehand, but that's why the other party's attitude became stubborn at such a strange time."
"There's no helping it. Humans were forced to hold their territorial wars and such for later."
"So you're admitting that those are unavoidable."
"Some people think it's just swapping out the Selenium mines we fought for during the city ear for territory. But I feel the same about keeping it from happening."
"In that case, I hope that you could move your troops to a less visible place. Waiting the National Coalition's Third Army commanded by High Booster over there is the same as an undisguised threat of mutual destruction."
"The other side was the one to miss the negotiation deadline."
"Well, whatever. Even with this, the ceasefire managed to achieve its goals."
"Honestly, that was great."
"Of course. If not, it would be impossible for me to eat with you so casually without bodyguards."
"You say that, but you're still pretty mad."
"Because I don't like the way it was ended. Stubbornly denying other opinions from start to finish can only lead to a short life. Nina, if it were you, you'd be able to say something to those higher-ups, right?"
"I don't want to see them."
Nina frowned at Leu's words.
"They're really talkative right now. If I as much as walk up to the higher-ups, there'll be gossip about it."
"Uwah, then do they think dispatching the Third Army until reconciliation occurs is all just Zuellni's show of force?"
"That's actually pretty much what they were working with."
"Ahh, how annoying!"
"Let's not keep talking about that, it ruins the mood."
They had finished eating the food during the talk. But perhaps their topic hadn't been conducive to the mood, so she hadn't been able to taste anything.
Leu seemed to be the same.
"Ahh, honestly, might as well order more."
Leu called the waiter over to get a menu. It seemed like she had given up.
Nina murmured with mixed feelings as she looked at Leu.
Leu showed a clearly detestful expression upon hearing this.
"What does that mean, are you insulting me?"
"No, that's not it......"
"It's a bit weird for a high-ranking Military Artist to mention something like age."
"My bad, my bad."
Nina knew she had misspoken, so she couldn't muster any opposition. She decided to surrender immediately.
"Don't be ridiculous, alright? How much work do you think it takes to maintain my figure and looks? It's just today that I can indulge myself. Ahh, those stupid geezers make me so mad, to think they would show an expression like 'what, it's you again'! I can't let those other female assistants steal the spotlight. It's so annoying...... Are young girls really that good?"
"I was wrong! Honestly, I was wrong!"
Also, it seemed like she had made Leu think of something unrelated.
Nina could only apologize continuously as the food was being sent to them.
In the end, Nina took care of almost all of the food.
"Well, what do you think?"
The location hadn't changed. The food on the table had disappeared, and the two of them held glasses in their hands.
"The guys just now. Don't forget about them."
She wasn't drunk, but Leu asked this with a completely straight face. Nina felt stunned at this.
"After all, it's been the same feeling everywhere recently. Every faction is very strong, so I end up getting put through a lot of trouble as the one responsible for negotiations."
"Then was it retaliation by some faction?"
"......Hmm, that's very improbable. There's a different possibility that's more likely."
"What is it?"
"They planned on using me, Nina's good friend, as a hostage to make you and the Third Army retreat from Nairomiro."
"It's the Searchers. Do you know what those guys are like?"
"I got information that they were occupying an abandoned city."
"Do you know anything about that abandoned city?"
"No...... Do you have any clues?"
"I'm not sure either. But I said before that I didn't like the way negotiations ended this time, right?"
"Yeah, you did."
"Though the pressure from the Third Army also had an effect, it seems like one reason was to keep us from putting our focus on the abandoned city near Nairomiro."
"I feel like they were fighting more to occupy that abandoned city than to occupy Nairomiro. They were also making a fuss about the area during territory division negotiations...... though both sides were trying to hide their focus."
"How did it end up being resolved?"
"It was turned into a buffer region of the National Coalition, isn't that obvious?"
Leu put on a proud smile after she said that.
After leaving that information that Nina couldn't understand, her good friend took an escorted car back.
Nina felt like that look suited her very well.
Leu had negotiated several conflicts between nations so far, and she was respected by many for being able to maintain her calm.
At the same time, she was envied by many.
That was why she couldn't even spend a minute of her life without bodyguards.
"I really feel sorry for her."
If Nina had been attentive, she could have had the pleasure of walking alone on the road where she had protected Leu from the unfamiliar men in the brief period of time before their meeting.
Though Nina had never had such a considerate personality, she felt like her awareness of others had faded recently.
"I have to be careful."
After murmuring this, the Commander of the National Coalition's Third Army started walking without any guards by her side.
The information Leu had left her was in her mind.
As a negotiator, Leu knew detailed inside information about various nations. If she didn't even know, it would be impossible to dig up information with any political means.
(Commander, it's about time.)
It was a scheduled contact from a Psychokinesist of the command center.
"Yeah, I'm going back soon. Oh, one thing."
"Prepare means for international communication for me."
(Understood. How strong should the security be?)
"It doesn't need any, I'm just looking for someone."
Ignoring the confused voice, Nina vanished into the nighttime road.
After returning to the Third Army barracks, Nina got the necessary means for communication from the Psychokinesist group, then returned straight to her living quarters.
The person she had contacted just now was already standing in front of the room given to her.
"Fufufufu, I'm from E&E Pizza, thanks for your order."
Nina hadn't interacted much with her in Zuellni. In the end, she had just been a friend of Felli.
But after graduation, Nina would run into her once in a while, and their relationship had developed to the point where the two of them would now visit each other at a moment's notice.
"You're still the same as always."
Eri held a pizza box in front of the door. She had a youthfulness completely different from Leu's spirited youthfulness or Nina's vigorous youthfulness. It was as if time had stopped for her.
She seemed bewitching - that kind of description seemed very appropriate.
But Nina didn't spend any time asking about anything like that. She currently realized that was undoubtedly just a waste of time.
After inviting Eri into the room, Nina opened the pizza. After giving Eri a drink, Nina told her what Leu had said while holding the pizza.
"Nairomiro, huh? Uh, that's pretty far."
Eri said leisurely.
En - that was a means of movement by Electronic Fairies. It seemed like that kind of spatial leap that Nina had experienced before was different from Eri's methods.
Well, that was completely irrelevant.
The more you know, the more you feel like you know useless information - a good friend of her had said that.
"Well, what do you think about this?"
"Fufufu, well...... Can you get me a map?"
Eri tilted her head slightly and Nina pulled out a map for her.
"Nairomiro is here."
"Ehh...... Ah, we're here. Uh, and...... Ahh, it's Zuellni. Fufufufufu, how nostalgic."
"......Hmm, they're still staying independently autonomous as an Academy City over there."
"Nina-senpai, are you supporting them too?"
"I'm doing what I can."
"So, how about it?"
Eri repeated similar words as she looked back and forth across them and chatted about her memories.
But this wasn't because her focus was broken. Eri was judging exactly Nairomiro was based on the positions she remembered on the map. That was how she calculated distance, Nina had realized after many years of interacting with her.
So Nina stayed as patient as she could with Eri while making sure to keep her from straying too far from the topic.
"Ahh, I got it."
Then, Eri finally clapped her hands.
"I see, I see, it means there's a gathering of Searchers."
"What? What did you figure out?"
"Fufufufufu, good news."
After she said this, Eri erased the normally-gloomy expression from her face, smiling cheerfully.
"Those people are coming back."
The next morning, Nina led a team to that abandoned city.
And now, Nina was here.
(The interference is too strong, so I can't interpret the situation in side at all. Commander, keep your distance for now.)
"I can't do that, since our time here is limited."
(In that case, please order the other teams to conduct reconnaissance. Commander, if anything happens to you......)
"Your missions are to keep the Searchers leaving the city from escaping, so you don't need to leave your initial positions."
As the conversation ended, Nina reached the legs of the abandoned city.
Nina deliberately approached slowly, but no hostile movements occurred up through that point.
But Nina confirmed with her own eyes what the Psychokinesists had noticed - traces of large moving objects.
Nina's nose also smelled the scent of living organisms.
That was the only thing she could confirm.
Nina leaped up to the top of the city. Of course, there was no sensation of an air filter. Even in the current era, where air filters were unnecessary, it felt very lonesome to not sense that slight resistance.
The outer area was swallowed up by withered vines. They fell apart easily as soon as she stepped on them.
Internal Kei variant - Levitation.
Nina counteracted her body weight with Kei of a special nature and advanced over the vines.
Judging by the structures under the vines, it seemed that this place had been a region that accommodated foreigners.
Nina noticed a sign near the entrance. Vines had hooked around it during the proliferation of organic machinery, so it had fallen down. Nina pulled the sign, which still hadn’t rusted, away from the vines.
"Sky Spider City Terachda...... is it?"
A name she hadn't heard of before.
But since it had turned into this, it had definitely already been abandoned before its 'Budding'.
What exactly had destroyed them? Was it filth monsters, or exhausted Selenium mines? Neither of them was a threat anymore.
Nina sped up her steps and advanced into the depths of the city.
"So, when will they act?"
She advanced with unguarded movements and without even drawing her Dite, provoking the opponents to act.
Just as Nina expected, the opponents finally acted.
The quiet air became disturbed.
A disturbance had appeared in the air. But the opponents hadn't shown up yet.
The vines beneath her feet had been thrown into a mess. It seemed like the opponents had no intentions of camouflaging the interior of the city.
But the opponents still hadn't shown themselves.
What were their plans?
Nina strode forward again.
With every step, the tension in the air became stronger. Was it because the opponents were thinking about how to keep her from continuing to approach?
Or was it because Nina was in the jaws of death, unwittingly stepping into her enemy's trap?
"Whichever it is......"
The situation would progress as long as she strode forward.
In that case, all she needed to do was advance.
Nina waited for the opponents with that mindset.
The situation changed with the next step Nina took.
The vines covering the ground below her feet floated up together.
No, that was wrong. It wasn't the vines that had moved.
The ground had twisted.
The abruptly-lowering ground left the vines in the air.
Along with Nina.
Nina was offsetting her weight with Kei to move on the vines, which was why she was able to descend to the ground instead of falling.
"Are they making their move? In that case, what's going to show up?"
Nina was speaking of the lowered ground.
As the disturbed vines withered and tangled together, a wriggling presence appeared in the depths of the dark hole.
Was this a trap to make Nina fall down? If that were the case, had the opponent believed they could kill Nina just by making her fall? That way of thinking surprised Nina. A trap of this level wouldn't even kill a normal Military Artist.
Also, the Searchers had already accumulated a great deal of battle experience against Military Artists. Even if their numbers had decreased, they probably wouldn't use such a simple trap.
Nina already sensed that presence close to her.
After all, the downward movement had stopped part of the way through. Judging by that, she could confirm that there was something hiding there.
The sound had vanished.
The earth that had been the cover crumbled and fell. Then, the sound of crashing that ought to have occurred afterwards vanished partway through.
Something that had made the sound disappear was hiding in the depths of that giant hole.
Would that thing whose first strike had failed continue hiding?
"Is it coming?"
A new quake shook the abandoned city.
Something was about to crawl out of the giant hole dug in the city.
Nina stopped the hand that was reaching for her Dite.
She thought of something.
"Fufufufufu, I'll give Nina-senpai a divination."
"What is it?"
Eri had said this when she was about to go back.
"Don't destroy the city too severely and you'll get good luck."
Eri hadn't ended up explaining what that meant.
Even if it had already become an abandoned city, Nina didn't plan on treating an autonomous moving city (Regios) and a former home of men too roughly.
That being said, considering Nina's current destructive power, she had to be careful with where she swung her iron whips.
After impatiently shouting this, Nina raised her head to look at the thing that appeared.
Black mist - a gaseous object that looked like this appeared from the giant hole.
However, even if such a thing existed, it was very strange for the large-scale crumbling noise to have completely vanished.
This wasn't an ordinary gas.
The black gaseous body ignored the roaring wind and stopped in place, and a change came over it.
Countless holes opened in the gaseous body.
No, they weren't holes. They were eyes that were opening.
In addition, countless protruding teeth appeared all over the gaseous body. The sound of their clashing together made the surrounding air ominously shake.
"I've confirmed the Searchers."
Nina said this to the Psychokinesis flake, but there was no reply. It seemed that the Psychokinesis interference was still continuing.
"I hope they don't act too recklessly."
Starting a battle when the Psychokinesis communication network was broken made Nina worry that the teams' positions outside the city would become disorganized and that the surrounding net would crumble.
Though she was worried, Nina still had to deal with this thing right here.
Nina believed in the training of her teams and increased her Kei flow.
The countless eyes on the black gaseous body looked at Nina. The sound of the teeth became more intense, a sign of hostility.
"Isn't it about time to say what exactly your goals are?"
Nina tried asking jokingly.
Of course, the black mist couldn't tell her the answer.
Year nine of the New Earth Calendar.
During the creation of a new international society, a certain nation carried out an experiment.
The National Coalition was currently dealing with the aftermath of that experiment, but the start of it all was the contraption of a scholar who had made a nation into his puppet.
That scholar had been unable to forget the miracles shown by the Erdhart Gate, so he had used the funds of his puppet nation to carry out a plan.
That plan, which had been called the 'Severed Space Investigation Plan', had been a journey to realize the other side of this world.
The goal of that experiment was to reach the other side of the rift in the sky that appeared between night and day. Unfortunately, that experiment had succeeded. With its success, cracks appeared in the space and the Aurora field, which could be called the other side of the world, appeared.
However, it wasn't traces of the Erdhart Gate that appeared there.
In place of it were nightmare that named Searchers.
That scholar was the one to name the nightmares, but no one ever heard about the origins of the name.
The Searchers' goals were unclear to this day. They would sometimes appear randomly and attack humans, and sometimes they would gather in a place to scheme things like this.
Were they watching something in this world like their name implied, or was that name just a mistake that had become mainstream?
No matter what the answer was, this nightmare endangered humans.
"That's why I'll defeat you!"
The black mist started changing.
The Searcher separated into countless ribbon-shaped bodies that attacked Nina.
Nina retreated backwards while pouring Key into her hands and deciphering the movements of the ribbons.
The moment a ribbon lunged towards Nina, Nina would release the Kei gathered in her hands at where she was standing and then retreat back.
External Kei variant - Untouchable Beast King.
It was a dense Kei, unlike the thin Kei that covered Nina. The Kei compressed to its limits in her palms created gravity and drew in the surrounding objects towards it.
The ribbon-shaped mists that tried to bite Nina were all absorbed by the ball of concentrated Kei and slowly crushed inside it.
The Searcher continued approaching Nina, unconcerned that a part of it was being eliminated by the compressed sphere. Even if it was aware this was a trap, its attack patterns were very monotonous.
No, were they monotonous or not?
Or did it just think that it wouldn't matter whether they were monotonous or not?
This could be because the Searchers had already filled the entire abandoned city.
Nina changed her route without confirming the presence that came from behind her. She released the compressed spheres of Untouchable Beast King one by one on her path of retreat. The compressed spheres didn't maintain their gravity for very long. Even so, they ought to be accurately whittling away at her opponent, but her opponent looked unconcerned.
Maybe the Searchers didn't have an organism's nervous system for self-management.
"That's why it's easy for me to lay a trap."
Nina, who moved while floating as if gliding over the ground, suddenly stopped her horizontal movement.
Nina stopped her floating and leaped upwards.
Even if her movement methods were quite rapid, the Searcher still closely pursued Nina with its gaseous forms.
Her leap carried her past the vine-covered tall buildings and also passed the air filter that had once been there, continuing to bring Nina towards the sky.
The Searcher chased Nina.
From the center of the abandoned city, from the gaps between buildings, from every alley, from every window. They passed through the cracks in the ground, through the shattered glass, through the spaces between vines, and constantly rose from where Nina would land while blotting out the entirety of the Sky Spider City Terachda.
"They've all come out, huh."
Nina didn't fight with those tremendous numbers. Rather, she continuously spun the Kei she was keeping compressed.
She let the Kei spin.
Compressing it further.
External Kei Variant - Double Untouchable Beast King.
She pushed the two compressed spheres in her hands together.
The compressed spheres that were forced together changed, and the impact produced sent Nina flying.
On the other hand, the compressed spheres interfered with each other and unleased powerful gravity on the surroundings that couldn't be compared to that from earlier.
The powerful gravity caught all of the Searchers crawling out from the city, pulling them together towards the compressed spheres.
That was Nina's goal.
The black, gaseous forms of the Searchers were captured by the gravity from the compressed spheres and tangled together in the sky.'
Still safe from the gravity waves released form her Kei technique, Nina preemptively escaped from its effective region.
The place she went just happened to be the bottom of the big hole where the Searcher had hidden itself.
After landing, Nina restored two iron whips in her hands and gripped them firmly.
In that moment, Kei shot out from her entire body.
The light of Kei drove the darkness away from the deeply-dug hole, becoming a pillar of light and shooting towards the city.
The light of Kei only filled the city for a moment. The swelling light of Kei focused inside Nina's body, circulated, rotated, and transformed, and then flowed into her two iron whips.
The step she took crushed the rubble.
Electricity ran through the surrounding air and exploded with sparks.
The breath she exhaled was filled with electricity. Nina sprinted at lightning speed at the same time as she swung her iron whips.
Combined internal and external Kei variant - Raijin.
The two released strikes of lightning sped towards the compressed sphere.
Lightning ran from the ground to the sky, splitting open the black mist of the Searcher and burning them with its heat.
The iron whips she swung shattered the compressed sphere.
The sphere, which had still been effective, collapsed onto itself from the gravity released when Raijin destroyed it. The energy produced became a shockwave that tore open the sky.
The Searchers that had been pulled into the air by the compressed sphere had nowhere to escape.
An explosive sound drowned out everything, so no one heard the wail of the Searchers.
After escaping the black mist and the purple lightning that covered the sky, Nina once again stepped on the ground of the Sky Spider City.
A voice sounded from the Psychokinesis flake.
"You can get through now?"
(Commander! Are you safe?)
"Yeah, but I let some enemies get away. Tell the teams not to let them escape and to investigate whether there are still enemies lurking inside the city."
After cutting the communication, Nina returned her Dites to her weapon belt.
The smell of the battle's aftermath and the withered vines filled the area.
A different stench also rose up through the air stirred up by the battle. A putrid, dry stench filled the abandoned city, and judging by how it leaned more towards the cry side, she could infer that this abandoned city had spent a very long time like this.
"Don't destroy the city too severely and you'll get good luck."
Nina had listened to that proposal, but still didn't know what it meant. Nina herself hadn't destroyed anything, but what about the things the Searcher had destroyed? Nina started becoming restless when she thought of that.
She thought of the other thing Eri had said.
She said they would return.
She could understand why there were Searchers here if they were returning. Since the Searchers had also come from over there.
However, even so, why would they stay here? Did they have some kind of plan? Or were they just feeling the presence of the other side and gathering here like flies?
There were still many mysteries about the Searchers.
They still hadn't gotten any information about the people who had been on the other side - Airen, Saya, and Nelphilia.
"We'd be able to learn the truth if they were here."
But Nina couldn't just complain. Battles against the Searchers would still continue in the future. They couldn't discover the true identity of the Searchers just by sitting back and waiting for those people to take care of everything, since they didn't even know whether they were still alive.
That was why the plan was still going on.
The Severed Space Investigation Plan.
The scholar who had first thought of that plan had single-mindedly wanted to reach the other side of the world, but the National Coalition had stolen that plan from the scholar's hands in order to discover the truth of the Searchers.
However, they still hadn't gotten any results.
The travelers who had headed to the other side for the second repeat of the plan still hadn't returned.
"Will they really come back?"
Though Eri had said so, Nina was still unconvinced. She hoped to herself that it was the case.
But a resigned feeling that it would be impossible also hid in Nina's heart.
(Commander, the remaining enemies have been finished off. We've also inspected the abandoned city. There aren't any Searchers still there.)
(There's still the problem of our time limit here. It's about time to withdraw--)
Nina stopped the Psychokinesist's words.
"I'm going to wait here until I can't wait anymore. Things can't end like this."
"Prepare to withdraw."
Nina ignored the Psychokinesist's questioning tone and wandered the city on her own. She had no goal, she was just walking through the roads because she couldn't stand still and do nothing.
But nothing changed.
She was just mindlessly wandering through the tranquil abandoned city. Nina even started feeling like she was ridiculous for doing this.
No, was that all?
Nina had forgotten something.
Eri only talked about things she deemed important.
What had Leu said?
She had said the two nations fighting over Nairomiro had both been eyeing this abandoned city.
Why were they focused on this place? Leu said that they seemed to know that something would happen here.
Why were they still eyeing this abandoned city that had long since been abandoned and which had now become a nest of Searchers?
Why were the Searchers here?
Were the three of them all focused on the same thing?
Then, was something really going to happen here?
(Commander, time's almost up.)
"Yeah, I know."
Nina nodded at the Psychokinesist's words.
Even if there was the possibility, Nina couldn't ignore the promise between Nations and stay in this location.
(Actually, we received information that two nation's armies have invaded this buffer region.)
(They're still avoiding conflict right now.)
As expected, there was something here, but there was no time.
Just as Nina decided to withdraw despite her worries.
A change happened.
A nearby building split open.
Even Nina, the high-ranking Military Artist High Booster who had fought hundreds of battles, couldn't help but be surprised at the scene of a tall building suddenly becoming two halves.
In other words, there had been no signs at all that this was going to happen.
No, more accurately, there hadn't been anything that a Military Artist could detect with her senses.
It wasn't a rift cut open in the physical dimension.
"Are they coming?"
It wasn't the building that split, but rather space itself.
"An abnormal situation has occurred. All teams prepare for battle. But there's no need to force yourselves, withdraw at your own judgment."
Nina was also very concerned that the two armies that had infiltrated the buffer region would do something.
No response. Was the communication broken?
As Nina was about to pull away to observe the rift, she noticed something else.
The rift wasn't only in front of her.
There were also rifts in other areas.
Rifts had appeared in every corner of the city. Colors seeped from them into the darkness and then slowly vanished.
What was happening?
Would the Searchers appear again?
In some sense, that way of thinking was accurate.
The difference was their shape.
Something appeared from the first rift she had noticed.
It was so huge that Nina didn't know what it was at first.
It was a hand.
A giant hand peeked over from the other side of the rift.
The hand was black. That pure-black hand pushed open the rift and showed the face it belonged to.
Occupying the other side was a darkness that would be prominent even in the dead of night. Perhaps that was its entire body.
A giant eyeball occupied half of the space on its head.
The rift continued being pulled open to its limits, and the giant body was dragged to the world on this side.
The giant's body was almost the same as a human's. It had two hands and two feet, along with a torso to support them. The different part was that the giant only had one eyeball, and its size.
Its contour swayed gently, as if it were stretching.
"As I thought, a Searcher."
Nina concluded after seeing that figure.
This darkness was probably a thicker form of the thing that had formed the gaseous bodies from before.
Would that kind of thing turn into this if it solidified while hiding in a city? No, Nina felt like it wouldn't turn into this.
In that case, did it mean that this single-eyed giant appearing before her was even stronger than the one before?
Many such things were appearing here.
Giants jumped out from the other rifts in addition to the one in front of her.
This itself wasn't unusual.
"Honestly, how did things become this way?"
That was why Nina murmured this.
It had been the same when Ahasnahart's determination had sent the Electronic Fairies into turmoil.
It had been the same during the commotion from the alchemist ghost the research team had dug up.
It had been the same during the assassination attempt on Karian during the development of the nations, and it had been the same afterwards when the National Coalition had been established.
Almost every trouble involving Nina had been more or less the same.
Enemies would suddenly appear and show powerful fighting strength.
Nina would fight, fight, and keep fighting with these beings, which was why she had become who she was now.
"Why won't this world ever have peaceful days?"
Nina murmured gripingly as she restored her iron whips again.
Eri had made a request to destroy the abandoned city as little as possible. But with this, it seemed like she wouldn't be able to keep that promise.
"Will such a large-scale space abnormality be limited to within the abandoned city?"
Maybe the teams positioned outside the city were also in danger.
"I guess I can't keep waiting?"
Maybe she had also been looking forward to the reunion at long last.
"I have to withdraw."
After Nina decided this, a one-eyed giant attacked as if to interrupt her.
Countless fangs sprouted from that hand, extending out and becoming spears.
The shooting spears wiped out the surrounding buildings as they attacked Nina.
It looked like they wanted to block Nina's path of retreat.
The spears that looked as thick as Nina's body smashed the structures as they approached. Nina jumped to avoid the spears' attacks, but afterwards a large amount of debris became a wave that fell on top of her.
Nina dug a hole in the wave of rubble with external Kei and escaped danger through it.
But after getting through that crisis, another crisis appeared on the other side.
Nina hadn't escaped the giants' surround.
The spears shot towards her from behind, being pulled back. Nina parried the debris that was still showering through the air as she avoided them and changed to levitation for movement.
Nina rose up. This was also to confirm the overall situation.
"What's going on?"
After reaching a certain altitude, the sensation of being caught by something viscous assaulted Nina. The speed at which she ascended with levitation clearly slowed.
Something was covering the sky of the abandoned city.
"You don't want to let me run, huh?"
But she hadn't thought the opponents would have those methods.
"I can't underestimate them. I thought they were just annoyances."
It seemed that she would be unable to escape by brute force. Nina immediately changed her line of thought and descended to the ground.
Since she couldn't run, all she could do was fight her way out.
After Nina decided this, she started to unleash her Kei. Just then--
A Kei flow came from someone other than her.
It was a strange feeling as if it were far away but also very close. Though its nature was different from the Keis of the teams outside the city, Nina had recollections of it.
Nina looked around and then noticed it.
It was a rift.
The thundering waves of Kei were spilling from its depths, engulfing the surrounding giants.
It was coming. A phenomenon occurred at the same time as her body felt this.
External Kei variant - Omnidirectional Resounding Sword.
This was a move where the user filled an area with Kei and then condensed it into a blade.
The Kei that engulfed the giants was the sword that this Kei had become.
A huge sword as large as these giants.
The sword pierced through the giants' torsos. They were sent flying in strange postures.
"Your Kei power is as crazy as always."
Nina felt stunned at the crude way they were sent flying as she looked at the ones who jumped out from the rift.
They appeared riding a beast wrapped in green flame.
Nina called out.
After hearing her voice, Layfon and Felli approached.
"Captain, how's the situation right now?"
"I want to ask you that."
"Uh, Layfon. It's about time to stop calling her Captain."
"Ahh, that's true."
The laid-back conversation put a wry smile on Nina's face.
"You're still the same as always."
Their external appearances were the same, and the conversation was too.
"Is that the way you should treat your saviors?"
"No, I didn't mean that."
Perhaps feeling displeased with Nina's way of talking, Felli spoke sarcastically:
"As for us, I just kind of turned into an immortal superpowered beautiful girl, but don't be jealous of me. After all, I've been beautiful since birth, so it's just a slight improvement. Well, it would be troublesome if you treated me as the same type as Eri. After all, that girl's completely different from me."
"Uh, I got it, my mistake."
Nina deeply felt like she shouldn't talk about this kind of topic.
"Then do you know anything about this situation?"
"Uh, we pretty much know the true identity of the Searchers."
"But we kind of fell into a trap."
Just like always, a dull, troubled smile hung on Layfon's face as he said this.
"What do you mean, trap?"
"Captain, you know, right? The spatial dimensions in this city has been sealed."
Felli's calm voice lowered the temperature around them:
"Even if Layfon and the Captain have become strong enough to make people question reality, you aren't strong enough to break through a world's walls with physical power. Of course, I'm the same."
"By the way Felli, you just called Captain Captain."
"......What's wrong with that?'
Layfon quickly surrendered as she glared at him.
"Speaking of which, it was also Captain's fault. Why'd she have to be regarded as the captain."
"It's my fault now!?"
And even Nina was affected.
"So, what do you mean when you say the spatial dimensions were sealed?"
Nina desperately tried to change the topic.
"I mean exactly that."
"Uh, so what exactly is......"
"If you're in the same world, you can use the Electronic Fairy En to jump around, but currently there's no one who has constructed a way to jump between different worlds. Even if we used En, we would need an Electronic Fairy or assistance from one. So humans have yet to find any techniques for jumping between space. In other words, when I say I mean exactly that, the Severed Space Exploration Plan needed to condense seven hundred million gigajoules of energy into the space of one cubic centimel, so unless you can realize that kind of outrageous destructive energy, you won't be able to break through space. Incidentally, as for about how much seven hundred million gigajoules of compressed energy is......"
In the end, it became Nina's mistake again.
"I got it, I was wrong. Then how can we escape this place?"
Felli asserted without hesitation.
"Then what do we do?"
"Wait for rescue."
"We can do almost nothing here, so we can only wait for rescue."
"Eh, it's not too bad to be the side waiting for rescue once in a while, right?"
"No, but that......"
"Speaking of which, you're getting old too, so it's about time to think about how to develop your juniors."
"I don't want you to talk about my age!"
Nina shouted at the two who hadn't change at all since that day.
"Also, Layfon, why aren't you saying anything?"
"It's about time to think of how to deal with these giants, right?"
As Layfon said this, a giant stood up behind him. Of course, the same thing happened behind Nina and Felli.
In other words, they were surrounded.
"......If we're waiting for people to come save us, there should be people coming to deal with these guys too, right?"
"How's that possible? Even rescuers wouldn't come that quickly."
Felli spoke unconcernedly, which made Nina scratch at her hair.
"What's this abandoned city called?"
"Huh? I think it was called the Sky Spider City Terachda."
Layfon spoke vaguely as he looked around as if to look for something outside of the battle.
"I feel a very nostalgic feeling, although I can't remember anything about it at all."
Nina didn't really understand what Layfon was saying. But from his face, Nina realized that this was what Eri's divination had been about.
Was there some kind of meaning here?
"Well, let's drive them out quickly to keep from destroying this city any further."
"After that we can just lay back and wait for rescue. Yatisha will find some way to manage our lives until then."
"Oh, so you're Yatisha!"
Nina looked at the beast Layfon and Felli were riding with wide eyes.
Though she felt sorry for the attacking giants, Nina didn't have any reason to fear them.
"Though it's only the three of us, the Seventeenth Platoon has assembled. What's there to be scared of?"
Their two happy faces touched Nina's heart.
No matter how the enemies changed their appearance, all her fear and confusion vanished when her friends were with her.
Nina deeply believed this fact. It made her feel very happy as she ran forth.
Translator's Notes and References
- One kilomel is approximately one kilometer.
- I have no recollection of what this is.