Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume4 Chapter6

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Chapter 6: The Insane Guardian

I planned to refuse them, so how did it turn out like this? Felli asked herself this question again and again.

She had met Haia when she left the Training Complex. Karian had showed up as well. She had planned to refuse Karian's request but her brother had talked her into helping Haia. Why? Felli would have looked terrible if she were asked that question, especially if Layfon asked it. But whether changes would come to her face would be another matter. However, Layfon didn't ask her. The relationship between Layfon and Haia was tense, ready to explode any moment. Layfon looked like he had something to say but couldn't say it. He probably didn't have the time to worry about Felli. Perhaps he couldn't do anything about it.

Yeah, but she was still a little bit angry.

What was Layfon worried about? She could tell just by looking at the way he fought, holding the Katana. His problem probably had nothing to do with Sharnid's entanglement with the 10th platoon. It had everything to do with the fact that he had to resolve this matter through his holding a Katana. Just what does he think about the Katana?

Layfon was a complicated person. His personality seemed simple and naive, but he carried a complicated past. In his past as a Heaven's Blade successor he had many different problems. Was she asking for too much, hoping for him to notice her more? But, she still wanted him to look at her. Only him. She wanted him to understand her as herself, not as a Psychokinesist, and she wanted to understand him at the same time. Her brother, Karian, had no interest in her other than her ability in Psychokinesis.

(Yes, because it's related to Layfon......)

So she agreed to help Haia. It wasn't because Haia was also from Grendan.

"That thing will bring misfortune to the strong."

Haia had explained to her about the thing she discovered, the thing that Layfon met with in the ruined city, clarifying for her what a Haikizoku was. He was clearly hiding something else, but Felli wasn't interested in what he didn't say. To her, "the strong" meant Layfon. No, anyone who knew Layfon would think like that, so she hoped for Haia to suppress the Haikizoku. If Haia planned to take it with him to Grendan, then take it, even though his decision didn't hold any consideration towards Zuellni. Felli didn't care about Karian's calculations either.

All Felli needed to do was contact Haia when she sensed the Haikizoku. She didn't know where she'd find it, but the Haikizoku was sensitive to the atmosphere of a fight. Haia said something about a racket during the platoon match. But who would have thought............


The match had ended. Nina didn't move an inch. Naruki had disabled the enemy Psychokinesist and Layfon had defeated the enemy captain. Sharnid and Dalshena were still fighting in a back and forth situation, but since Dinn had fallen, it was meaningless to continue the fight. The normal fight had already ended. The illegal drug scandal surrounding the 10th platoon would fade with Dinn's departure, and the 10th platoon would be disbanded.

"Can it be........."

Confusion shrouded Felli when the flakes conveyed to her an impossible reaction around Dinn. Confused, she reflexively sent out a signal to the flake beside Haia. She didn't do it consciously. At times when the Psychokinesist was filtering vast amounts of information, she'd act reflexively without her knowledge. For her to have done that, Layfon would......While thinking of that, she felt the reaction closing in on Layfon. It felt as if that reaction had fused with Dinn.

In that split second, sparks flew in Felli's head. After managing the information at extreme high speed, Felli made this conclusion. Haia really didn't say everything. "To bring misfortune to the strong" wasn't the entirety of the phrase. And by "strong", he didn't mean Military Arts skills...... He meant one's will of concentration. The will. Wasn't that a person's strongest thing? In that case, Layfon didn't have it. He could maintain absolute calm before filth monsters, but in today's match, he hadn't shown a clear direction in his action. It felt as if he didn't know why he was fighting today. Haia had said the Haikizoku would bring misfortune to Layfon – Felli didn't know in what form yet – or it was more accurate to say Haia himself also didn't know whether the Haikizoku would bring misfortune to Layfon or not?

Could it be...... That Haia was using this match as an experiment?

Haia infiltrated Zuellni through the illegal drug organization. Of course he knew Military Artists were taking advantage of the illegal trade. He might have known that Dinn was the one taking illegal drugs. Since this city belonged to the Academy City Alliance, people would do all they could to cover up the scandal. The City would need the strength comparable to a Military Artist who had taken drugs in order to cover up the scandal. Since Haia already knew Layfon was in Zuellni, it was possible that he did this deliberately to make Layfon enter the fray. To force Layfon to answer Karian's question, Haia had deliberately mentioned the Psyharden technique.

"You deceived us," Felli burst out, her words sent to Haia through her flakes.

Haia laughed. "I didn't plan to. I just created a situation for it to make itself known," he dragged out his words. "Well then, as promised, I've got to go."

Felli sensed numerous reactions from the war field as Haia finished his words.



He never thought it'd appear at this moment. Someday, he'd have to confront this mysterious existence. That was the feeling Layfon had when he understood Haia's goal, but the Haikizoku had come just too quickly.

It had done something to Dinn.

".........What're you planning?"

Layfon stepped back from Dinn when the Houshintotsu was shattered. A huge amount of power surrounded Dinn and as Layfon had thought, this didn't come from the use of drugs.........Drugs could not increase the strength of a Kei vein like this. Obviously, it was the Haikizoku. Usually, a phenomenon of this sort would have paralyzed its owner, but Dinn's face became livelier than before.

The goat didn't answer Layfon. Its indifferent attitude felt the same as last time's, but the feeling was somewhat different. Strange.

(Haikizoku......That's your name.)

Layfon recalled what Haia had called it, but he himself didn't know this name. Haia said he'd take it back to Grendan. His promise to guard Zuellni as repayment meant the Haikizoku had enough value to make Haia make this trade. Layfon didn't understand it.

"Just what're you planning?" he asked again.

"........."

"!"

The goat remained silent. The one who moved was Dinn. The rope flew from the ground to strike Layfon. Layfon reacted despite the surprise attack. He'd have been in danger had Dinn attacked him by moving his fingers and wrist. That was how he made his moves before. But it was different this time. The Kei running through the rope controlled the weapon like muscles making complex moves. It was the same as Layfon's steel thread technique. That was why Layfon managed to react in time. Chills ran down his spine. Dinn's move obviously exceeded all the moves he had made before. There was no reason behind it. Dinn couldn't have been hiding his true strength or else he wouldn't resort to using illegal drugs.

"Layfon.........What's going on?" It was Naruki.

At her voice, Layfon changed his direction as he avoided the rope, and headed for Naruki.

"!"

The rope brushed past his face and tore through his skin. Disregarding the injury, he swept Naruki up with one arm, blocked the rope with the Katana and retreated.

"Wh, What are you......"

The suddenness of everything broke Naruki's composure, but she held her breath when she noticed the blood on his face.

"I'm not sure either......"

".........What's that thing?"

Naruki noticed the goat too. At least this denied Felli's worry about the thing being an illusion.

(As I thought, it's the Haikizoku.)

What Haia said, the twisted Electronic Fairy of the city.

(So it's done something to Dinn.)

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That goat must have done it. Huge horns extended from the goat's head. With eyes that looked like a human's, it stood behind Dinn.

(Is it controlling Dinn?)

Layfon put Naruki down. He defended against the rope as he observed Dinn and the goat. The huge amount of Kei spilling out from Dinn ran on the ground. Dinn was full of energy but no feelings showed in his eyes. His eyes were like the goat's. Obviously, the goat was manipulating him.

(Then.........)

Layfon decided to chop through the goat. The pressure on him back in the ruined city when he met the goat there wasn't with him today. He should be able to do it. Why? Was it because of the Katana? He planned to neither save Dinn nor kill him.

(Here I go.)

As he was about to move –

"That's my prey~"

The voice with words that dragged stopped Layfon's movement. Layfon sensed a presence at the time when he heard the voice. That person must have used Sakkei to mask his presence and moved close to Layfon under the cover of sand and dust.

"Haia!"

"The Haikizoku is ours. That's our promise~"

Numerous chains flew out as Dinn escaped into the sky. Haia leaped out of the cloud of sand and forced Dinn back to the ground. The chains bound Dinn tightly the moment he landed. The goat remained the same.

"What's going on?"

Layfon watched Haia and the people around him. Men he had not seen before held the chains that bound Dinn. They must be members of the Salinvan Guidance Mercenary Gang, Haia's subordinates. When did they infiltrate the war field......

No, they didn't have to infiltrate the field. Karian must have given them permission to use the dormitories. It wasn't difficult for experienced Military Artists to head over to the war field from the dormitories.

"What's going on? We're just capturing the Haikizoku."

"But isn't the Haikizoku that thing over there?" Layfon looked at the goat. The goat didn't move in the face of Haia and his subordinates.

"Even I can't capture that thing. No, even you, a Heaven's Blade successor can't do it either. Our dear Queen is the same."

"What do you mean?"

"But it's different with the host. Once we capture the host, the Haikizoku can only wait and let us take it. It's the same when the Haikizoku couldn't do anything to the filth monsters that attacked the city."

"......What's he saying?" Naruki asked. Layfon didn't know how to answer.

Haia didn't look at her. He continued, "It's fortunate that the Haikizoku came to the Academy City. In here are people with ideals but never enough strength to make them come true. They have the Haikizoku but they don't know how to use it. By itself, the Haikizoku would never have come to us."

"What are you going to do with him at Grendan?"

"This is unrelated to Layfon-kun. You can't even return to Grendan," he laughed smugly. Instead of blood rushing to his face like the time when he saw Haia in the conference room, Layfon kept his cool and waited for Haia to continue. This must be the feeling given to him by the Katana, but Layfon didn't know what to do.

"Never mind, I'll give you a hint. Why do you think Grendan's always in the danger zone? The answer is the same as that thing there."

"Why......?"

Grendan was always in the danger zone. Layfon already knew that fact. It was a natural fact to him who was born in Grendan. The existence of Heaven's Blade successors came from the need to survive in such an unusual place. That was natural. Layfon didn't find it strange before he arrived at Zuellni.

(The reason behind Grendan's survival there?)

He had never thought of it.

"Well then, we're taking it," Haia ended the conversation himself. Layfon didn't move.

Haia had said to Karian that he'd capture the Haikizoku and transport it back to Grendan. It was unclear whether Karian knew how Haia was planning to do that. So he planned to transport Dinn along with the Haikizoku. Did he obtain Karian's permission beforehand......... Layfon had no idea. If he had known, he could use this reason to counter-attack and prevent Haia from taking Dinn.

A presence came up behind the inert Layfon.

"Wait a minute," Nina called. "You can't take Dinn Dee."

"I won't listen to you. You're just a student."

"You guys......What will you do to Dinn after taking him to Grendan?"

"Say more," Haia smiled mockingly.

"Dinn did do something wrong, but it won't change the fact that we're classmates. I won't allow his fate to be handed over to you."

Looking at Dinn who was bound by chains, Nina didn't think Haia and the Mercenary Gang would take care of him through normal means. She raised her iron whips. "Let go of Dinn Dee."

".........An immature girl who is all talk. What a headache."

Haia was about the same age as Layfon and Nina, but his attitude sounded like an old uncle's.

"What if I don't let him go? Wanna fight? Fight with the real Military Artists here? We've 43 people in the dorm. Do you want to make an enemy of the Salinvan Guidance Mercenary Gang?"

The organization had fought numerous times with filth monsters and other Military Artists. Their number was way smaller than the population in Zuellni, but the difference in their skill was huge. What was more important was that the Military Artists in Zuellni weren't mentally prepared. A sudden attack would quickly put them at a disadvantage. This was the same for any Military Artist. And the students in the Military Arts course here lacked real fighting experience. They had no means of resisting the experienced mercenaries. Haia and his Gang just needed to leave Zuellni amidst the chaos. They had their own roaming bus and could leave anytime. Self-confidence in being unbeatable showed on Haia's face.

"Don't get ahead of yourself," Layfon said, putting the Dite back into the weapon harness.

"Did you say something? Former Heaven's Blade successor."

Layfon kept silent. Nina was beside him. Since Nina had declared her position, he had also made his decision.

"I'll be your opponent, against all 43 members of the Salinvan Guidance Mercenary Gang. That number should be enough to test my skill," he said, having chosen the words that suited a Heaven Blade's successor.

He didn't feel that relaxed in reality. Besides, fighting all 43 people would put him in a difficult fight.

"Allow me to see the weak skill nurtured outside Grendan."

Haia was still relaxed, but the people around him were different. They didn't utter a word, yet the entire atmosphere had changed.

"Layton........." Naruki swallowed. Nina's body had turned stiff. Hostility flooded at them.

(We've made them angry.)

This way, Layfon had reduced the possibility of getting Nina and Naruki involved.

(I'll reduce that possibility more......)

He pulled out a Dite. Not the Shim Adamantium Dite but the Sapphire Dite. The Dite that Haia had broken into pieces two days ago. It had returned to its exact form before it broke. Its feeling in his hand hadn't changed, but it felt just a tiny bit different as he was previously holding a Katana. It seemed as if his own arm had twisted. Necessary though. This was the other reason that turned him back to the Heaven's Blade successor.

The smiled disappeared from Haia's face as expected.

"You're very good at making light of others~" Haia said, provoked by Layfon facing him with a sword.

At his young age, Haia was already the leader of the Salinvan Guidance Mercenary Gang. His situation was kind of similar to Layfon's when Layfon became a Heaven's Blade successor at age 10. Standing in a position that didn't match his age, of course he had to fight against this insult and show his true strength. Otherwise his outrage wouldn't settle down. This was the arrogance of someone standing on a high place. He couldn't put Layfon's insult aside.

Layfon predicted Haia's reaction because he was once in the same situation. When he fought against the three senpai in the Military Arts course, he had retained a bad habit from Grendan. That habit was still here. He thought Haia was the same, and he had guessed right.

"Fine. If I defeat you here, maybe I'll get the Heaven's Blade when I return to Grendan." Haia pulled out his Dite and restored it into its Katana form.

"Stop it, Layton," Naruki groaned. "The Salinvan Guidance Mercenary Gang is an organization made of strong Military Artists. Stop it, you're too reckless." She thought Layfon would die.

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Ignoring Naruki, Layfon stepped closer and closer to Haia. The tip of the Sapphire Dite touched the ground as if he was writing on the dirt.

"Come."

Haia raised his Katana to above his shoulder.

"Layton......"

Nina grabbed Naruki's wrist and stopped her from stopping him.

"Leave it to Layfon."

"What did you say!?" Naruki's face had gone red with outrage.

"If it's Layfon, he'll be okay," Nina said.

"Layfon might be very strong, but he's up against the entire Mercenary Gang. How could he win?"

Naruki hadn't seen the strength of the Salinvan Guidance Mercenary Gang, but this organization had drifted between cities, gathering the best fighters from numerous battles. It wasn't something that a student Military Artist could fight against.

"It's okay. Believe in Layfon."

Layfon was Grendan's Heaven's Blade successor.........Naruki probably wouldn't understand even if Nina told her that title. The name "Heaven's Blade successor" was rarely heard outside of Grendan. Any city would give a title to its best Military Artist. Heaven's Blade successor was just one of those titles. Compared to that title, the name of the Salinvan Guidance Mercenary Gang made Naruki more worried. All Nina could do was stop Naruki from interfering, and wait for the result.

(But......)

This probably wouldn't stop the fight. Layfon was only buying them time. He had delicately provoked Haia and stopped the Gang's members from taking Dinn. Nina's current mission was to think of a way to save Dinn during this time.

(What should I do?)

The Gang's concentration was on Haia and Layfon, but their concentration on guarding Dinn hadn't slipped. Dinn couldn't move and the chains around him showed no signs of loosening.

The golden beast stood behind Dinn.

(That's the Haikizoku.)

The creature that Layfon witnessed in the ruined city, a creature of mystery. Haia and his organization appeared because of it. What did they plan to do after taking it back to Grendan.........Nina didn't know. They just needed to capture it and take it away, which was fine with Nina if not for Dinn.

"Felli," she said softly to the flake.

"What?"

"Did you contact the Student President?"

"I'll try."

Karian was the one who made the deal with Haia.

"Got it."

"I understand the situation," Karian's voice came through the flake.

"Did you predict the outcome?"

"He was unusually reluctant to provide information on the Haikizoku. He didn't reveal how he was going to capture it."

(How arrogant.)

Anger shot through Nina. She didn't make a noise. She must not attract the Gang's attention.

"I finally understand what they're planning," Karian said. "To cause a ruckus in an Academy City. It appears the Haikizoku has the value to make the Academy City Alliance an enemy of the Mercenary Gang. But I've also reserved a move. I said they could take it but I did not permit them taking Dinn."

"Then what do we do?"

This was the most urgent issue.

"The problem is Dinn. If we can peel away the Haikizoku from him, then everything's perfectly solved."

"But to do that, we must first understand why it chose Dinn......"

"I know why," Felli's light voice cut on.

"So what's going on?"

"Haia said it himself - In here are people with ideals but never enough strength to make them come true."

Haia said that when he was capturing Dinn.

"The core of a Haikizoku is something to do with the mind, right? Because it's a mad Electronic Fairy of a city, it must have wanted to protect the city."

"So it takes over Dinn......In order to protect the city?"

But then, why did it choose this timing to pick Dinn? Why Dinn?

"That might be because of Dinn being pushed to his limit? When defeated by Layfon, Dinn revealed his sense of mission to protect the city. He had the mission but his feeling for it could have intensified at that moment," Karian said in response to Felli's opinion.

"The Electronic Fairy of a city destroyed by filth monsters......I can understand how it might feel the same as Dinn."

"But isn't it impossible to take the Haikizoku away from Dinn right now?" Nina didn't think she lost to Dinn in terms of her sense of mission. But the fact of Dinn losing had connected him with the Haikizoku, and Nina had no way of putting herself in between them.

"In that case, we can only destroy his heart," Karian said coldly. "Since it's his stubborn heart of protecting the city that caused the Haikizoku to choose him, then we just need to remove his sense of conviction. In other words, make him let go of his mission."

"But how......"

"Can you leave it to me?" a new voice cut in.

"Sharnid?"

Sharnid and Dalshena were closing on Nina's location, being very cautious not to attract the Mercenary Gang's attention. Sharnid's voice came through the flake.

"Do you have a way?"

"You never know if we don't try." Sharnid shrugged. He was wounded.

Dust covered Dalshena's clothes but she didn't look injured. It seemed she had won the battle. She looked at Dinn. Dinn remained conscious but he hadn't done anything to resist the chains. Looking at the side of Dalshena's face, Nina felt a shock in her chest. Eyes like a mirror, exuding unbelievable light. Dinn was staring at the ground. Pain filled Dalshena's face.

"Can you do it?"

What they had to do was to completely uproot Dinn's purpose. This was the same as taking away his life for someone who looked at his mission as important as his own life. For these two people who truly knew Dinn, could they do it?

"We have to try, right?" Sharnid's bitter smile showed a bottomless hole.

Nina was also looking at Dalshena.

"I'll do it," Dalshena replied curtly.



Layfon and Haia watched each other, their bodies still. Ten steps separated them. Internal Kei could have helped them close that distance in an instant, but the two of them were still as statues.

One move would decide the outcome of the battle. Layfon planned it that way and Haia responded the same. If the present Layfon were dragged into a long fight, even if Layfon's skill was worse than Haia's, Layfon wouldn't have received too much damage. Haia was unable to accept that and responded by going with Layfon's decision.

The air seemed to have frozen between the two.

This feeling of pressure was essential to Layfon, both to buy time and to scare the members of the Mercenary Gang around him. Usual, high-speed fights between Military Artists were very intense. On the other hand, this fight allowed the observers to breathe. Layfon must buy some time for Nina and the others to find a way to save Dinn. And by entering this state, Haia had done exactly what he wanted.

(Next......)

Is to win.

The morale of the Mercenary Gang would rise if Layfon lost, and Dinn would be taken away. Besides, Layfon wanted to win. To win against a certain someone. This feeling had never once appeared to him when he fought countless matches as a Heaven's Blade successor. He just wanted to win, simply win against his opponent.

(Is this hatred?)

Layfon calmly analysed his own feeling. Haia had a bad character. He had thorns wrapped in his words.

".........Why did you hide your Katana?" Haia said as if he didn't care.

A battle without words.

The tip of Layfon's sword hung loosely down. He changed his fighting stance as he read the Kei flow of Haia's attack by looking at the change in his opponent's muscles. Haia changed his own attack path in response to the change that Layfon made. This cycle continued. And Haia asked a question as they read each other's attack path. The fact that Layfon could use the Psyharden technique without a hitch made him a thorn in Haia's eyes. Haia felt bitter at how Layfon could execute a move that he himself found difficult. That experience made him provoke Layfon with the name of Psyharden.

"The Katana is your true strength. Why did you give it up?"

"It's a repayment."

Layfon recalled the time when the technician asked him what form he wanted the Heaven's Blade to take. The technician had asked him "why?" too. Layfon had kept his silence during that time, but it was different this time.

"I've already betrayed them but I still don't want to lose anything. Do you find it strange?"

What Layfon planned to do back then was the same as betrayal in the eyes of his adopted father. Even Layfon, raised by such an adopted father, thought what he was about to do was dirty. But without any way out, he still chose to enter the underground matches. It wasn't a problem of good versus evil. There was the difference between Layfon and his adapted father, so he thought he had betrayed him.

"You're a naive-thinking moron."

Haia cared nothing for Layfon's words.

"How can you not use your best technique in a battle? You only say that because you look down on your opponent."

Layfon didn't think so. He shook his head. "I'm doing this out of my own decision. This is what conviction is like."

Dinn raised his head. He was resolved to protect the city, but because of his lack of power, he took the illegal drug. He was the same as Haia on a certain level. But Dinn didn't allow Dalshena to touch the drugs even though the 10th platoon would have become more powerful. He was at an impasse. Still, he had made his decision, and it was a decision made naturally in his consciousness.

"People who fight without a purpose will never understand," Layfon said.

"......Yeah right," Haia replied and didn't say anything else.

Layfon tossed away other thoughts to concentrate on the sword. The two of them imagined the battle in the air that seemed to have frozen. Once they moved, that was the time when the outcome would be decided in one split second.

Layfon remained with the disadvantage, but he couldn't allow Haia to see the possibility of a victory. If he failed in that, he'd have trouble suppressing the Mercenary Gang's morale. The members of the Mercenary Gang had drifted from many cities, but most of them were born in Grendan. They understood the meaning behind the title of Heaven's Blade successor. It was natural for Layfon to win. If Haia won instead, then the advantage would be on Haia's team.

In truth, Haia wasn't an easy opponent. It was possible for Haia to become a Heaven's Blade successor. And who knew what the outcome would be when Layfon was using a sword?

He cautiously calculated all kinds of attacks and their results. Haia continued to change the responses of his Kei.

(Not that easy to find an opening.)

The chance appeared before him as the thought flashed past his mind. Two presences, rushing to Dinn. It was just one swift moment but Haia's gaze did flit over to Dinn's side.

As if to cut through the stir of the Mercenary Gang, Layfon moved out. Haia also moved, almost at the same time.

In terms of timing, this speed could make up for Haia's miss. But......

When the two of them were close enough to feel each other's breath, they swung with their weapons. Haia's Katana swung down. Layfon's sword swung up. Sparks flashed as the two rushed past each other and exchanged their previous positions.

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Layfon lowered his sword slowly. Blood spurted from the cut on his right cheek. Looking at his expression, the Mercenary Gang members kept completely still, whereas Haia groaned. "Damn......"

Layfon's sword was faster than Haia's Katana. The upward slash of the sword had changed the path of Haia's Katana, and the Katana shattered the moment when the two weapons clashed. External type Kei – Rot. Haia had used this move when he fought Layfon for the first time. The shattered pieces of the Katana had scattered everywhere, and one piece had brushed past Layfon's cheek.

Layfon's sword had destroyed the Katana to strike Haia. Haia had then toppled.

"Damn......"

He was still conscious. The safety setting on Layfon's sword was unlocked. He didn't really slash Haia, even so, he had broken several ribs and injured his opponent's internal organs.

Haia vomited blood and fainted. Layfon kept the rest of the Mercenary Gang members at bay with his aura.



Sharnid watched Dalshena's back. Her only purpose was to convey a message to Dinn. He thought Dinn's method was wrong. The captain recruited him into the 10th platoon to make his mission come true. He had inherited her feelings, Dalshena, who cried because she couldn't do anything to protect her beloved city. Sharnid didn't know when Dinn had added this burden of protecting Zuellni onto his own shoulders. Did Dalshena know? .........No. She probably didn't. She didn't even know how Dinn really felt. Just when did this start? At the time when Sharnid was still in the 10th platoon? Or after he left? Dinn was very reserved and traditional. Perhaps he took on Dalshena's thinking as his own without being conscious of it. He took it on to the extent that he'd allowed the Haikizoku to possess him. But the time had come for someone to stop him. Now that he had deviated from his path, someone must bring him back.

Moving at high speed, Sharnid suddenly sensed something cold at his back.

"Shena!" he called and leaped to a side. The spot he was in before exploded from Kei. The weapon was an arrow formed with Kei. Myunfa had shot that arrow but Sharnid didn't know of it.

Long distance attack. Where did it come from? He searched with his gaze. Dalshena had ignored the attack and kept running. Sharnid restored his Dite. Sniper rifle of Lithium alloy. Same as the past, Sharnid and Dinn were to eliminate anyone who sought to obstruct Dalshena's path.

He had grasped hold of the shooter's location after two more attacks. Information came now from Felli's flake. Internal Kei increased his vision, and he saw Myunfa preparing for her third shot. Myunfa didn't see him.

He stopped moving. The next target was.........

"Shena!" he pulled the trigger as he shouted.

Myunfa let loose her arrow at the same time.

"Ku......"

He heard a moaning voice. He stood up without confirming the result. He and Dinn had been protecting Dalshena till now. If Sharnid failed, then Dinn would take over. The reverse was true as well. But only Sharnid was guarding Dalshena's back at present.

".........Right."

He wouldn't make it. He'd put his own body onto the path of the shot. Sharnid was happy to get to guard Dalshena's back. He and Dinn used to eliminate anything unrelated to the flag, clearing the path for Dalshena. That was when Sharnid had confused his actions with love, confusing it with the oath. Both Sharnid and Dinn regarded Dalshena as the most important person to them. Sharnid couldn't even force out a laugh in the face of Dalshena, who was powerless against Dinn's unusual actions.

What would she do if she had evidence of Dinn's illegal dealing? .........She had been investigating and Sharnid found it laughable in how he tracked her every night because he was worried about her. Even though he no longer was part of the 10th platoon. But this was exactly why......Same as Dinn refusing to let Dalshena touch the illegal drug, Sharnid's mission was to prevent her from suffering any more harm.

"I have to make it!" He shouted, running slower than he wished he could.

And someone suddenly appeared before him.

"Nina!"

Nina stood directly in the path of the arrow, blocking it from Dalshena. The Kei arrow hit Nina's chest and exploded. Sharnid swallowed......And let out a breath.

Internal type Kei – Kongoukei.

The dust screen cleared to reveal Nina.

(That's right.)

Felli reported the defeat of Myunfa. Sharnid sat down on the ground and watched Dalshena's back, all strength leaving him. His work was done.

(I belong to a new place now.)

The 17th platoon...... was where Sharnid belonged. No matter what, he had chosen this new place himself.

(It's not the same as before anymore.)


The presence of the goat overwhelmed Dalshena. The way it stood with its huge horns and the long hair covering its body paralyzed her. It exuded an exotic sense of dignity. Dalshena would have knelt down before it if not for Dinn.

Dinn had become like this because of the goat. Dalshena stared at the Electronic Fairy as she half-knelt in front of Dinn.

"Dinn," she called. His pair of eyes, smooth as mirrors, showed no sign of comprehension. Dalshena swallowed. The Kei spilling from Dinn made her want to vomit. Something else was different. Illegal drugs? No, it wasn't.

"Dinn," she called again. He lifted his head to look at her, the only area of his body that he could move. His eyes remained emotionless, except he had reacted to her voice. Her voice.

"Dinn........."

She must convey this message. To save Dinn, and to end everything.

"Dinn.........We're finished."

Dinn didn't react to her words. His dry pupils reflected her image.

"We don't need to continue fighting anymore. There are people here stronger than us. There are people here who think the same as us. Leave it to them. We're not breaking our oath."

Memories surfaced in Dalshena's mind: the time when the three of them first met, the time when they stayed awake through the entire night to come up with strategies, the time when they entered the 10th platoon, the time when they won their first platoon match and had a fashion show. What happy times they were. She thought those times would continue forever......

"You've done enough. It's all right now."

Dinn's lips trembled. Tears rolled down in his eyes.

"Dinn......" she called again. "I loved you."

The three of them fought for the city. The oath of that day had sealed Dalshena's feelings. The current Dinn's feelings, focused on the already graduated senpai, had broken that day's oath. Dalshena had stubbornly buried her feelings in the deepest corner of her heart when Sharnid left the platoon, and now, they were released.

"I loved you. And, goodbye," she said with trembling lips.

Tears fell from Dinn's eyes.


The goat behind Dinn disappeared.


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