Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume3 Chapter1

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Chapter 1: Proposal

"Fu......"

Leerin sat on a stool, holding a juice packet she had bought from the vending machine. The lounge of this high-class, two-story school was comfortable and soothing. Many students came up to the second floor during the day. Only one floor was needed to accommodate those who decided to stay after school. Since this wasn't the only lounge available, the student athletes who came over to buy drinks from the vending machine tended to move to a place closer to the gymnasium.

This place was quiet and close to the library. The senpais of the Language Club gathered regularly on the first floor, but by the time their voices drifted over to Leerin, they had become mere background noise.

"Fu......" Leerin sighed again, gazing off in the distance under the dim light, the edge of the paper cup on her lips. Warm, sweet chocolate dispersed in her mouth. The warmth slid down her throat into her chest.

"Ah......Geez, what's with me......" She watched the floorboards, her hands cupping the cup for warmth.

"......Should I go back like this?"

She didn't feel like bringing the books over from the library. Her space in the library was already filled with numerous books and report papers. If she went back to the library, she wouldn't be able to leave them alone. That was Leerin.

"The importance of news updates between cities and their consequences on the economy."

The professor had suddenly given Leerin this assignment, to be handed in a week later. Although there was still time to do it, the question was close to impossible for Leerin, who had only recently entered this school. All of the reference books were professional. If she wanted to understand them, she would have to have a large repertoire of professional vocabulary. She had been pulling books off to read just to understand the reference books, and in turn, had been pulling more books to understand the books that explained those reference books.

"......Guh, my basic knowledge isn't good enough. Besides, these numbers mean nothing if I can't understand them. Really......what should I do?"

And so she had spent two hours after class piling up books. This wasn't a problem with tepid enthusiasm. To escape the problem dogging her, she reached inside her breast pocket.

She touched something hard and took out a small box for letters. She cautiously took out a letter and spread it out.

"His handwriting's still ugly......"

Leerin's face relaxed automatically. She started to read the letter that she had already read numerous times.


How have you been lately? I'm still the same.

Ah, not entirely the same as usual. What you were worrying about has happened over here. A filth monster came close to Zuellni again. Zuellni wasn't aware of it, as the filth monster was in its molting phase. Fortunately, the city's drones discovered it and we managed to avoid the worst-case scenario. But......just like what you were afraid of, I chose to fight alone.

The fight was intense, just like the battles I had tired of in Grendan. As a Heaven's Blade successor, I had no time for anything besides fighting filth monsters outside the city. I was being extremely careful to avoid getting wounded, because if I did, I might have fallen to pollutants.

I knew about that danger, but I've never chosen to fight with anyone before.

No, even from the beginning I never considered it.

I forgot I no longer had the Heaven's Blade, and I did something foolish. In truth, it was dangerous. No, extremely dangerous.

I even knew my weapon wasn't reliable. Although I know what a Heaven's Blade is, when I was holding my weapon, I fought like before......Am I too arrogant? I couldn't help but be immersed in it, so your words cut straight to my core.

But, about that fight, it won't happen again.

I'll try not to fight alone again.

I no longer believe I cannot give up Military Arts. It's tiring, but I'll try to overcome it.

I haven't given up on finding a path besides Military Arts, except, right now, I can't lose Zuellni. This place is a new place, a fresh start for me, so I can't lose it. Perhaps this feeling can relieve some of my tiredness.

Leerin, it's because of you that I can accept Military Arts like this. I think I haven't entirely given up Military Arts because you're part of my past in Grendan. Perhaps this is a very fortunate thing.

You said that, in truth, I like Military Arts. I haven't yet had that feeling, but since you said so, it might be true. At least, the me now came from the me who spent ten years immersed in Military Arts, so that must be an important part of me. It's a blessing that I haven't lost it, and the Leerin who prevented me from losing it is also someone irreplaceable and important to me.

I also feel that it'll be very hard to communicate for six years through letters.

Why can't we break through this wall of distance?

I believe we can.

Hope everything works out for you!

Layfon Alseif.


She finished reading......Although she had read it many times, she still read it closely. Reading it and losing herself in thought. Reading it in joy...And anger.

She was happy that he said she was important to him, but he was so slow that he didn't understand her real feelings. She was lost in thought because of his slowness and clumsiness, and then she became angry. Just how many more pieces of paper did she have to sacrifice until he would understand......

"Aah, really......"

She knew that by reading the letter, she'd forget about the report she needed to write...But it still made her feel tired.

(I'll just sleep here on the stool.)

"Haha......"

"?"

Someone was laughing.

"Hm?" Leerin turned around and saw a young man sitting on a chair against the wall behind her.

"Ah, excuse me."

Seeing how he had watched her while she was reading the letter, Leerin's face grew hot. She studied the young man.

A long mane of silver hair hung neatly down his back. His sleeves were short despite the cold weather. A harmless laugh, and his laugh wasn't tasteless.

But if he was laughing at her, then she wouldn't feel well disposed towards him.

"......Excuse me, who are you? You don't look like a student here."

His arms were muscular. Not like a student at all. A Military Artist. It wasn't strange to see Military Artists walking around. Some of the students were Military Artists, but this young man didn't look like a student here.

"Yes, you're right. I'm not a student here."

"Do you need something? There's the office......"

"No, I'm not here for the school."

"Huh?"

"I'm looking for you, Leerin Marfes."

"Huh?"

"Ah, let me make this clear. I'm not chatting you up."

"......Why are you pointing that out?"

"Well, for some reason, the girls always try to chat me up, so I'm just making sure. Just in case."

"You're too self-conscious."

True. Perhaps it was a girl's dream to be chatted up by this guy in this way. But not in this situation......To be mocked after she had read Layfon's letter. She would have seriously refused this man.

But he had made it clear, and that made his face more displeasing to her. Especially the point that he didn't mean it at all.

"I really didn't mean it. I really didn't mean it!"

"I don't want to listen to this."

For some reason, she felt nothing evil and malicious from him. On the contrary, he felt like a kid.

"Well, what do you want me for? I'm busy."

The report became her excuse. In principle, Military Artists were noble in character, but there were some who were criminals. Even if this young man wasn't a Military Artist, Leerin didn't feel like talking to a stranger who suddenly started talking to her.

"Oh, is it Professor Randeon keeping you busy? If so, you don't have to do it."

"Huh?"

"The Professor said anything's fine if you'll stay in this school. 'Leerin Marfes is a bright student. She can solve simple problems very quickly. Let's give her a harder assignment to do.' That was what the Professor said. If you're busy because of that, then it's okay not to attempt it."

"......What do you mean?"

Unable to express her astonishment, Leerin felt tired. She didn't know why the Professor wanted her to stay, but knowing the reason behind the difficult report......Somehow, it didn't feel like it reflected well on her.

"Even so, you should have talked to the office and let them contact me......" she said weakly.

"If possible, I wanted to meet you in secret......It's about Layfon."

"......Huh?"

Time seemed to stop.

"Yes. How should I put it? Actually, it's not that bad, but when it comes to Layfon, some people may get sensitive. So I wanted to keep this meeting between us."

"You......you are?"

"It may not be a happy topic for you, but, uh, well......Fate? It probably is that. It'd be great if you can think that way."

"......Ha."

She understood the situation even if he didn't repeat himself. She had no idea what motive he had to get close to her, but now she knew who he was.

The Professor probably listened to this man's request.

If it was this man's request......Then only the Queen could have that much power.

Under this light of understanding, the name of the young man surfaced.

"Then what do you want me......"

That was all she managed to say.

"Ah!"

And was suddenly pulled away. Her vision blurred. She couldn't make sense of what was happening. The scene of the dim lounge became a series of lines.

Leerin was pulled over in a very exaggerated way.

"Aah!"

She could only make out the young man's shadow in her blurred vision. She was flying through the air. Being pulled out of the lounge and moving upwards. She was being pulled forcefully, but she wasn't hurt at all. It felt as if some unknown power had lifted her into the air.

"Hah."

Finally she was let down on the ground.

A guest had already arrived on the rooftop. A man with wild hair and a stubble of hair trying to be a beard was wearing a dirty-looking coat. He was surveying the world around him from his high vantage point, his gaze sharp and clear.

"What did you do that for?" Leerin said crossly.

The young man walked leisurely along the roof, looking at the man in the coat reprovingly. But the man in the coat ignored him and continued to study the scenery.

"You took too long. It was irritating me. Just how long did I have to wait? Until I married this girl?"

"If you want it, it can be as long as you want. Since it's you, you can complete Her Majesty's orders anywhere and anytime."

"Stop joking. From the day I was born, I had never heard Her Majesty give me an order."

"That's what you think, right, Lintence-san?"

"Isn't it the Queen's order to kill billions of filth monsters?"

"Aren't the Queen's orders for us to protect this city?"

"It never ends when it comes to talking with you."

"That's true." The man in the coat looked disappointed. The young man shrugged.

"......Well."

Leerin studied them closely, unable to determine whether the two people before her had a strained relationship or not.

(Just how did it turn out like this?)

"So, you're Lintence-sama and Savaris-sama? What do you want with me?" she asked the two Heaven's Blade successors – the pride of Grendan.



Fervent cheering dominated the battle arena.

Layfon felt those eyes looked similar to someone else's, someone he knew.

"There's another one behind you."

"I know."

Although Felli was slower than him, he wasn't frustrated about it......If it was Felli, she could have found the enemy even earlier, but that couldn't be helped. She hated her own ability.

The cheering from the audience drowned out Felli's voice.

Layfon could see a strong-looking man wearing the badge of the 5th platoon captain on his battle uniform. Meanwhile, the emcee's voice commented.

"Oh, oh! The audience is cheering Layfon on. He has already participated in a few matches; he's one of Zuellni's strongest attackers. In a match against the captain of the 5th platoon, Gorneo, how will he match up!?"

The opponent wore armor around his arms and legs. Judging by the color, the armor was made with red Dite alloy.

(For melee combat......No, not just that.)

With that thought, Layfon changed his green Dite into a sword.

"And now what, Gorneo? He can't protect the flag if he doesn't stop Layfon."

Layfon had charged straight in from the beginning of the match, ignoring the Psychokinesist of the 5th platoon. His target was the flag in the other team's base. Sitting on the defensive side, the 5th platoon would have lost the match if they failed to protect their flag. On the contrary, if the captain, Nina, of the offensive team fell, the 17th platoon would lose.

(Melee combat......Maybe......)

What Layfon was concerned about was the red Dite. He stopped and studied the strong-looking man, Gorneo. Gorneo had short silvery hair. His face and body were hard and solid. There was nothing cute at all about his serious and harsh looking face, eyes and nose. Eyes that might look like the eyes of a good man if he smiled, that sharp gaze was staring at Layfon. A huge fist pounded towards him.

Kei was gathered in that fist, surrounding it with red light. The armor on his arm had become something totally different.

"Karen Kei......?"

Layfon jumped back.

The huge fist hit the ground. The dancing rubble from that strike didn't just disperse into the air. Mixed with Kei, sand and soil particles attacked Layfon. At the same time as he leaped back, Layfon released the Kei from his blade through Whirl Kei. Blasts of wind struck down Gorneo's pieces of earth, causing them to explode.

CSR vol03 025.jpg


Within the sand-covered space, Layfon felt a stirring in his opponent's direction.

"Restoration!"

The key word revealed a red spear and a small body that closed in fast on Layfon's position.

(This is a red Dite too.)

He had already known about this other enemy from the beginning, waiting for her to attack. The problem was ...

(What kind of attack?)

Layfon was still in the air. It was impossible for him to change his posture, so he decided to settle this in one swift moment when he landed. Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald......The difference between them lay in the amount of black alloy in them. Black alloy made the Dite harder and sturdier, but it also decreased the conductive rate of Kei. Black alloy directly affected the function of the weapon.

Dispersed Kei......This required the highest level of skill in Kei manipulation. To a Military Artist of this type, no Dite could be better than a Ruby Dite.

Having analyzed what he was facing, Layfon couldn't face this move in an easy manner. He didn't have the leisure to wait for the enemy to strike first. Dispersed Kei was famous for its variety of offensive moves. Against this type of opponent, Layfon's correct response was to strike first and attempt to slow down the enemy's movements.

And in this one swift moment, he had decided on how to slow down his enemy.

Gorneo had to do something on the other side of the smoke screen.

It should be advantageous for Layfon to slide back further when he landed, aided by the remnants of the Kei he used for the Whirl Kei. This way, his opponent would miscalculate.

Layfon added a rotation to his basic sword move and swung the blade backwards against the existing flows of Kei to add momentum to his movement.

"Enkei Shoudansen!"

A loud, strong voice announced the name of the attack. Kei burst out from the spearhead in the form of bullets of fire. Heat pressed down on Layfon's head, and he gathered Internal Kei into his wrists as he brought the sword back to him. A huge amount of Kei spread around him. Layfon spun in the air like a top.

Combined Internal and External Kei Variant, Ryuusenkei (spinning dragon).

All around Layfon, Kei spun up into the clouds like a tornado.

"Aaah!"

That tornado dispersed the heat and the voice of his opponent. The enemy with the spear was blown away, but that small body turned in the air and landed on Gorneo's shoulders.

"Damn. I thought I'd be able to get him."

It was a small girl with red hair, carrying a red Dite on her back. She had an intimidating look about her.

"Looks like using a variety of Kei techniques won't work against that guy."

"I said so already! Speaking of which, how could you attack in that situation? You're too reckless."

"Anyway......About that guy......"

They looked for Layfon as the tornado gradually lost strength.

And they were astounded.

"What!"

"No way......"

They found a number of Layfon before them.

"An afterimage attack? And so many!?"

Behind them, on the tree branches, in the sky, in front, to their sides......The two members of the 5th platoon were entirely surrounded by Layfon's many images.

"A thousand......" Gorneo watched the Layfons around him, biting his lips and feeling a bit dizzy. This was a variation of Combined Internal and External Kei – The Thousand Killers.

In reality, there weren't a thousand, probably just about twenty or so.

With nowhere to escape to, Gorneo and his subordinate received Layfons' attacks, but the attacks all missed by a few inches. Even though the Dite had a safety lock on it, it would have been fatal to receive that many attacks at once. After receiving the merciful attacks, the two Military Artists fell on the ground.

At about the same time, the siren signaling the destruction of the flag rang out, but the cheers of the audience almost drowned it out. Layfon swung his blade to disperse the remnants of his Kei, and saw the girl with Gorneo......He remembered her name from the news: A member of the 5th platoon, Shante Leite.

"Uhhhhhh!" Shante groaned as she collected herself.

"Bastard," Gorneo got up slowly, watching Layfon.

His eyes looked like they were staring up from the bottom of a deep valley......Where had he seen it before?

(If I remember correctly, his name is......Gorneo......Luckens......)

Luckens......A name that rattled Layfon.

"My performance was perfect today too," Sharnid praised himself as he spun the two Dites in his hands.

"Yeah, I didn't expect it to go that smoothly. Nina's strategy was successful."

"Hey, hey. Don't forget that it was all on me, Harley."

"Of course," Harley shrugged and took Sharnid's Dites for maintenance.

"In truth, the captain's strategies have been pretty successful in the last two matches."

Sitting in a chair, Layfon listened to their conversation and looked at Nina.

"That was because of everyone's hard work," Nina smiled sourly. She didn't look satisfied.

First, Layfon acted as bait, followed by Nina. Sharnid sneaked through the enemy line, avoiding the Psychokinesist as he did so. When Layfon fought enemies, Nina drew out the rest of the enemy teammates to make an opening for Sharnid, who successfully moved into his firing position overlooking the flag.

Sharnid was using close-quarters gun combat, and the technique fitted beautifully with Nina's strategies.

While trying to reinforce the main attackers, Gorneo and Shante, the rest of the 5th platoon members had been a bit slow in their reaction. Sharnid had always fought long distance. Changing from that to a close range attack had given them unexpected results.

"Sharnid's hidden ability has given us good results so far......But that strategy must have been analyzed thoroughly in the last two matches. We still haven't fought the 1st platoon, Commander Vance's platoon. So I don't think we should let down our guard."

"Hey, hey, I've been waiting a long time for this feeling. Don't smother it with worry."

"But......"

"Let's just celebrate our victory today. If you got anything to consider, you can leave it till tomorrow."

Layfon could tell Nina wanted to say something, but she swallowed it because of Sharnid's words.

"Okay, let's do that then."

"Yeah, let's leave the terrible topic for now. Let's celebrate. The usual at Mule? I'll book a table. Let's meet up again at 6. Now, dismissed."

"Hey, don't just decide on your own," Nina said. Sharnid was already heading for the showers.

"Oh alright. Dismissed."

Looking at the Nina like that, Layfon smiled. Someone's gaze pricked his face, so he turned around.

Standing to the side was Felli, pouting.



The world was polluted.

When did that happen? Why? How did it happen?

Those questions were lost in antiquity. No records remained.

Pollution stopped the normal cycles of life and killed all the creatures. The earth turned red and arid. Wind and sand swallowed the bones of corpses. The plants that adapted and survived were filled with poison. A strange new ecosystem arose in this new world, giving birth to greedy and stubborn filth monsters. This was no longer a place for humans.

Regios.

Humanity's new earth. The only place where humans, rejected by nature, could live. A world drifting in this world, created by a long lost technique.

In these artificial worlds, people were born, and people died......

At the same time, they fought......



"Number 3! Mifi! I'm gonna sing!"

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Mifi grabbed a microphone and all of a sudden the shop was filled with loud cheers.

Zuellni had a number of streets lined with shops. The most prosperous street was the one with numerous stations for roaming buses, parking lots and facilities for people planning to go to other cities – Sarnaky.

Layfon and everyone else were inside a shop on Sarnaky Street called Mule. Inside Mule was a bar and a lot of empty space, with only a few tables and chairs. Usually, the bar was full of wines and beers, but today, the shelves were filled with empty bottles. On the counter were trays and trays of sumptuous dishes.

"Oh well. If it's something they like it'll be alright even if they aren't drunk."

Sitting at the bar, Sharnid placed a wine cup to his lips with dull eyes. This bar had no audio equipment. The members of the 17th platoon and their guests must have brought some along with them.

"Sharnid, aren't you gonna sing?"

"I'll pass. My singing isn't for everyone."

"Ah, really? Then when do you sing?"

"When I'm alone with someone."

"Hmm, would that someone be someone not here tonight?"

"You're harsh," Sharnid said to the hostess. Sitting next to Sharnid, Layfon was drinking juice and letting the rowdy atmosphere roll over him.

Along with Mifi's song, singing that didn't sound too bad echoed through the shop and the male students couldn't help but cheer. They were Sharnid's classmates, a male and female choir, reading from scores and chatting at the same time. Harley was also there with his friends. Another group was there, staying slightly distant from the other groups. A group of girls who looked serious and earnest. The atmosphere over there was a bit different. The girls were all chatting happily amongst themselves. In that group were Meishen and Naruki, and Nina was in the center of the group. Nina was talking to Naruki, who listened with a troubled expression on her face.

(What's she talking about?) Layfon thought, but he had no intention of walking over to find out. He had just escaped from Nina's friends and moved over to the bar. He didn't want to go back to that thick atmosphere again.

"It really is rowdy here."

Mifi's singing and the sound of the door opening drifted over to Layfon. Having already sensed the movement through his Military Artist ears, Layfon turned to watch the door.

"Formed-san?"

"Yo, how've you been, ace?"

Formed Garen. The City Police's Chief of Security walked over with a smile that didn't match the seriousness on his face.

"Please don't call me that."

"Well, isn't that the truth? No one in Zuellni can defeat you. You've already become a legend. What do you think?" He sat down matter-of-factly beside Layfon and asked for a drink from the hostess. He reached out for the food.

At first he had called Layfon "Alseif-kun", but now he was already calling him "You guy". Against Formed's familiarity, Layfon could only shake his head lightly.

"I can't help with that title, but a lot of things have taught me that being strong alone can't do anything much."

"Um, it's as if you're talking about someone else. You aren't that old, but it feels like you're looking at someone from far away. Have you had some painful experiences?"

Formed Garen was also a fifth year student in Cultivation. In Zuellni, the youngest student was sixteen, so a fifth year student was around twenty years old......Perhaps Layfon felt some pity for Formed Garen. He doubted anyone would object if he said Formed was around thirty. He waited for the Chief to explain what he had come for.

"So do you need anything today? If it's Nak...... Naruki, she's over there," Layfon had almost called Naruki by her pet name. Good thing he caught himself so quickly.

"Ah, I came specifically to congratulate you, but it looks like I've been misunderstood. I feel so lonely," Formed smiled.

Layfon had once been asked by Naruki to apply as a temporary member of the City Police. It was a job dealing with events that might involve Military Artists, meaning only Military Artists were capable of doing it. Of course, there was danger involved. Layfon was asked to cooperate with the police and prevent the culprits from escaping.

"Relax, there's nothing you need to solve right now......But, if possible, I want to ask you a favor."

"Ha......"

Formed was looking at Layfon's drink.

"That's not wine? It might be a problem from my standpoint, but I think in this situation, it's all right to drink a little. But it doesn't feel like you want to drink. Anyway, don't be too harsh on yourself. Your captain is very serious and strict," Formed turned his gaze on Nina. Layfon looked over too.

Nina Antalk. A Military Artist who formed a platoon when she was only in third year, whereas all the other captains were fourth year or above. Her short, golden hair brightened up the dimness around her. The curves of her face seemed to accentuate her beauty.

"Not a bad looking person. It was tragic that we lost in the last Military Arts competition. You and the captain over there appearing in Zuellni probably is a good thing."

"Is it really that tragic?" Layfon asked.

All Regios needed pure selenium to function. Selenium, a mineral discovered only after the world was polluted. Low-level Selenium could be found anywhere, as much as one wanted. But a large amount of pure selenium was needed for a city to function, and that could only be found in a mine. The ever-changing paths of Regios revolved around selenium mines. This was assumed to be true, even though people didn't have maps of the world to check. They could just tell by the yearly re-supply at a selenium mine. And it was a certainty that a selenium mine would reach its limit one day, so......How many mines a city possessed symbolized a city's lifespan.

The fight between cities for selenium mines took place once every two years. The people living in the cities were the ones fighting in this war. A city's life and death was directly related to the people living in it, so they had to fight without holding back.

"Yeah, it was very tragic," Formed frowned, remembering the past.

A city would only fight against the same type of city. For example, Academy City Zuellni would only fight with other cities that specialized in education. In other cities, they might fight with blood, but for Academy Cities, the Alliance of Academy Cities had set down rules for the Military Arts competition, turning the war into a sport that wouldn't see anyone getting injured.

"It's hard for someone who's not an expert to explain......Anyway, they totally owned us. They predicted our every move, and they went through our openings whenever they wanted. That was the type of feeling I got."

"Was it because they had excellent Psychokinesists?"

Psychokinesist......Military Artists with a special type of Kei who could turn it into Psychokinesis and use it to gather and analyze a massive amount of information.

"Well, I don't really know much about the opposing force," Formed scanned the shop. "Speaking of which, the Psychokinesist of your team isn't here? The Student President's sister."

"She doesn't like this type of atmosphere," Layfon replied.

"I see."

Felli was a genius in Psychokinesis, but she hated her ability. Although her brother forced her into the platoon, she didn't plan to use her true strength.

Layfon couldn't do anything about it.

To Layfon, born in Grendan and given the title of Heaven's Blade successor, he hadn't used his true strength in the platoon matches. It wasn't because there wasn't a need to use his true strength, and not because he would be invincible if he displayed his true strength. Layfon came to Zuellni in the first place in order to give up Military Arts but he had become a platoon member and was working hard for the next Military Arts competition. The fact that he ended up fighting again was surprising to him.

"Do all Military Artists in Grendan have to have strength like yours?" Formed asked.

"......Not really. What is it?"

"Ah, nothing. Besides you, the captain of the 5th platoon also came from Grendan, and both of you are platoon members. I don't know any Military Artists from other cities, perhaps it's just my prejudice. From an outsider's perspective, Grendan's a place of monsters."

"Uh-huh......" Layfon nodded without putting meaning into it, and asked. "Was Gorneo Luckens born in Grendan?"

"Yeah, seems so. What? Do you know him?"

"No, I don't know him directly, but the name Luckens sounds familiar."

"Oh, then he was probably born into a pretty good house."

Layfon smiled.

"I don't know why he came here, but to him and I, we have a certain confidence in our own skills. Before coming to Zuellni, we fought many battles. Of course, there were opponents like monsters."

Layfon found it hard to say he was also a monster.

"Then I'm fine," Formed smiled, but something shone in the depths of his eyes. Perhaps he had understood something, or perhaps nothing at all. He was a student but also a person who had handled all sorts of things in the city. Nothing could escape his eyes – a person's language, expression......On the contrary, Formed's eyes seemed to be a trap, tempting people to make a mistake. It looked like Layfon couldn't relax after all.

"Ah, chief."

Naruki and Meishen came over.

"Oh."

"Did something happen?"

Looking at Naruki, who was all keen and ready, Formed sighed. "Am I someone who would neglect my work? I'm still a student."

"You aren't too convincing," Not knowing what Formed was keeping from her, Naruki relaxed her shoulders, discontent.

"Aren't you the workaholic?"

"I'm not up to Chief's level yet, but I'll catch up soon."

"Never mind. Don't waste your precious school life."

"It's my right to choose."

Looking at the silly conversation between a superior and his subordinate, Layfon and Meishen exchanged a glance and smiled.

"......Is it about time to go?"

"About time. Need me to take you back?"

"It's okay. Nakki's here."

"Ah......it really is ok."

"Right."

Both Naruki and Layfon were in Military Arts, and they both worked for the City Police. Meishen was safer with Naruki than with any man.

Mifi wasn't around. Layfon checked and saw her still reading music sheets.

"She can't stop once she's started singing."

"I'll take her back then," Layfon said.

Naruki returned to the conversation. "Well then, we'll go back first. Layton, thanks for tomorrow."

"Oh, yeah. Is it really alright? If you really can't, we can change the date."

"Don't worry. I'm pretty accurate at the timing of being a light bulb."

"Nakki!" Meishen said as she pulled the smiling Naruki out of the shop.

"What's going on tomorrow?"

"We're hanging out."

"Oh."

"Originally the four of us were going together, but Naruki and Mifi said something sudden has come up and they can't go. We wanted to change the date, but in the end, we still decided on tomorrow."

"Is that girl beside Naruki going to go?"

"Yes, I'm going to thank her for the bento she made."

"......I feel that I'm wasting my precious school life because of work, but you're wasting it in another way."

"......Ha?"

Formed slowly shook his head and said nothing.



She held the heavy staff Dite in a place devoid of people.

(I still can't control it completely.)

Not long ago......She trained here after the fight with the Phase 1 filth monster and after Nina had fainted.

Nina hadn't wanted anyone to see her.

It was the same with Felli. She didn't want anyone to know. Standing on the outskirts of the city, Felli gazed at the faraway command tower. There wasn't any wind today. Without wild dancing sand, the nighttime scenery around the command tower was clear and unhampered. Felli thoroughly understood the inconvenience of being unable to pierce this darkness.

The world was clearer and more vivid.

She knew. Countless stars dangled in the sky, in the darkness opposite the command tower. They shone and sparkled beautifully beyond the reach of the city's artificial light. The pale moonlight shined down, as if to look through the polluted earth.

Felli knew there was another life form besides filth monsters in this world. Microscopic creatures that weren't categorized as animal or insect. She knew those sad little creatures lived in the depths of the earth, their power of life not losing out to that of the filth monsters. She knew of that point of grandness.

Knew. Filth monsters howled under this moonlight that seemed to come from a dream or perhaps, from reality. Sad and lonely conquerors.

Felli understood this world better than anyone else.

"Ah......" She breathed in the silent air.

She relaxed, and bathed in the light that ran down her long hair to illuminate her surroundings. The light emitted from her hair suppressed the darkness and enveloped her.

Psychokinesis.

A huge amount of Psychokinesis exuded from her body, conducted through her hair. Felli was a genius in Psychokinesis. Even Psychokinesists born without training in the special power but born with their hair emitting light could not be like Felli. It was the same with Psychokinesists schooled and familiar with their ability. The power of Psychokinesis couldn't be increased through training.

The Kei of Psychokinesis flew into her Dite. Felli did not need a keyword to restore her weapon, a translucent staff made of flakes.

The flakes scattered, leaving nothing in Felli's hand. The flakes were connected to Felli through the power of Psychokinesis. They became her eyes, mouth and ears. These flakes increased the communication range of a Psychokinesist. Felli sent the flakes out to feel the existence of the world. She filtered out the burns of pollution, going back to the time when humanity and earth existed in harmony. She experienced the pale world of night, imagining a picture dotted with the jewels of the stars.

It was a Psychokinesist's privilege to feel the world outside the city. Anyone else would have to wear an environmental suit to walk outside the city. If they went out naked, their lungs would rot in five minutes. Their skin would burn. They had no way of touching this world, because the world rejected them. Even so, there were people who still had to get out. Those who fought.

"I don't understand," Felli murmured.

Through her innate feeling and the feeling she acquired through maturity, something else felt peculiar. Perhaps.... Something wasn't right. This feeling was similar to the one she had when she met him.

Layfon Alseif.

A feeling of hating one's own ability, but being admired by others......His past was different from Felli's, and for that past, he planned to abandon Military Arts. Layfon's past was more strained and distressing. He had experienced more hurt and pain than Felli. He was different from her, who was born to be a Psychokinesist.

No. If it was about ability, then his ability had forced him to choose the path of a Military Artist. Layfon used his ability as a tool for survival. People wanting Felli to become like that were all around her.

Both Layfon and Felli attempted to head for a path other than the paths they were already treading, and both had experienced setbacks. And their experiences were different. Layfon had experienced a setback, whereas Felli chose to have a setback.

(Could I be wrong?)

(No.)

Layfon came to Zuellni for a road besides Military Arts. What prevented him from chasing his dream were Zuellni's current situation and Felli's brother, who knew of Layfon's past – Karian.

At first, Layfon hated it. He should have hated the platoon match...... But he didn't look like that now. He didn't look keen in the matches, but he didn't give up fighting.

(He really is indecisive.)

He hadn't given up on finding a path outside Military Arts, but he didn't ignore what he was capable of doing.

And people thought he was zealous.

(A helplessly good-natured person.)

But perhaps, the road Layfon picked was right.

(Or......)

Or...... feeling something murky weighing on her, she shook her head and called back the flakes. She came here to clear her mind. Wasn't it meaningless to consider so much......

"?"

Something was out there in the darkness. She had almost missed it because of the mountains. It wasn't possible to discover it through the reflection of light. She probed with ultrasound and electromagnetic waves. The flakes approached the source of the disturbance. It wasn't far. Judging by the city's speed, that thing was two days or so from Zuellni. If she let the flakes head for that thing's location, daylight would arrive. The flakes hovered a short distance from it and began their investigation.

Looking at the numbers surfacing in her consciousness, Felli swallowed.

"This is......"


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