Chrome Shelled Regios:Volume9 Chapter5
Chapter 5: Chaos
Vance was more frustrated and bitter than anyone when he saw the filth monsters appearing in this situation. This was the second Military Arts Competition and the chaos in the enemy city far exceeded his predictions. This was something for Zuellni to rejoice over. The first and second waves had already taken complete control of the battlefield. What they needed was to wait for Vance's defense team to defend against the enemies and obtain victory. However, Vance wasn't too focused on victory. After all, he was the Leader of the Military Arts course. As the chief commander of Zuellni's Military Artists, he had to grasp hold of the situation no matter what.
Filth monsters. The larvae had appeared on the outskirts of the city.
"Alchemy technicians, prepare to release the safety locks on the Dites. The team here and the cannon team are responsible for holding up the filth monsters. The rest of the teams, get your Dites' safety locks released and join the battle," he gave the orders through the flake and went to stand in front of the troops with a long staff in his hand.
"Listen up. Stop them. But don't be too reckless," he roared and jumped into the crowd of larvae.
The report on the invasion of the larvae had reached Karian.
"Who would have thought......... So unlucky," he said in a small voice as if he didn't want anyone to hear him. The rest of the Student Council members located in the underground conference room didn't have to hear what he just said.
"Switch on the city's defense system. If necessary, we have to use the cannon."
"But that's......" the head of the Business course objected. He couldn't ignore the consequence of using the cannon that would result in the city losing a large amount of its resources. It didn't matter that they used some of the resources now, but they needed to preserve the resources that could be used in the reproduction phase. For example, the metal and fuel used for every shot were all precious to the city. They were things that couldn't be recovered. Although the city could mine more resources in its route, it might sink into a period of a severe lack of resources.
"I understand you. But this is an emergency. It'd be too late if Military Artists became sacrifices."
"Isn't he here?"
No one needed to ask who "he" was but Karian shook his head.
"There's something else we need to be aware of," he then gave a detailed explanation.
What did it mean for the filth monsters to suddenly appear? Why did Zuellni and Falnir hold a Military Arts Competition in the vicinity of filth monsters? Was it simply because both sides hadn't noticed it? And was this the same as last time with a female filth monster giving birth underground? However, the report said there were only around 30 larvae. The number was far lower than before. According to a report from another Psychokinesist, a huge something laid beneath Zuellni's multi-legs. The larvae seemed to have come from that "something" which was broken. Looking at the damages on the multi-legs, it appeared that "something" had been tossed from a far distance to crash into Zuellni's multi-legs. If that was the case, could a normal female filth monster undertake a feat like this?
"I don't think so."
Felli's flake was currently heading for that direction. Everything suggested this attack wasn't as simple as it seemed.
"....... Meaning there might be an aged phase filth monster around?"
All members of the Student Council had accepted the knowledge of filth monsters they had heard from Layfon. An aged phase filth monster had given up its reproduction functions. Instead, it turned to evolving.
"I'm not sure. Anyway, the Military Artists are fighting the 30 or so larvae. So just in case, we'll have to use that insurance," Karian said and urged everyone to action.
One group rushed out of the conference room and the other group stayed behind to discuss further strategies.
"......... Really, I've already acted the villain once to ensure our victory in a Military Arts Competition, and then we have this. So annoying."
The last time was the Salinvan Guidance Mercenary Gang. This time was filth monsters. What next? He didn't want to think further, but he still fell into contemplation.
Unfortunately, his prediction had come true.
Zuellni and Falnir's Military Artists all witnessed the coming of the larvae.
Thanks to the connection between the teams and the speedy work of the Dite technicians, the safety lock releasing procedure had gone ahead smoothly. Zuellni was now in a counterattack mode. Although Layfon had taken care of most of the larvae, Zuellni's Military Artists had eliminated around 10 larvae when he returned from Falnir. It was fortunate that only a few Military Artists had sustained light injuries. This was the result of Vance's speedy reaction and everyone's daily training. And luckily, the larvae had gathered in one place. But this wasn't the time to rejoice over luck.
Everyone's gaze was now on the thing floating in the air. A black hole that slowly moved as it expanded. Psychokinesists voiced their warnings. A sound grew louder as the hole expanded. When he understood the meaning of that sound, Vance shouted, "Everyone, retreat!!"
Something as massive as a mountain had appeared. All Military Artists began retreating from the city's outskirts.
An intense and ear-piercing rumbling filled the space, shaking the entire city and making Military Artists' knees go weak. Pillars of earth rose up from outside the city to meet the sky. Soil particles fell through Zuellni's air shield.
A moaning of metal sounded behind the retreating Military Artists as the rain of soil hit them. The original form of that noise was finally confirmed. A large pillar on the outskirt of the city... one of the city's multi-legs broke before their eyes and fell onto the earth.
"Damn!" Vance burst out.
The rain of soil, not yet filtered by the air purification system, fell to make new wounds. It wasn't enough to cause death, but it was enough to lower the students' morale.
The rain of soil stopped after the pillar of soil disappeared.
Many more larvae appeared from where the multi-leg had fallen. Vance could deeply feel the impending crisis. Someone had thrown over the larvae. Because whatever huge thing that carried the larvae came from somewhere so far away, even Psychokinesists failed to detect it. Vance failed to imagine the power behind this. This attack would never end if they couldn't defeat the real enemy.
The number of new larvae was about the same as the first wave of larvae. Zuellni's attack power was enough for it. However, they couldn't predict the location of the third wave. If the third wave came from the side of the city, then Zuellni's attack power would have to spread out, and that would lower the speed of attacking. And if every time a toss of "something" managed to damage Zuellni...........
With staff in hand, he gave the order to attack. They must eliminate the larvae before them. But what next?
"ARR!" Vance shouted. As the chief commander, he couldn't show his weakness here.
Layfon pinched his nose. He remembered this feeling of pollutants burning his nose. Numerous larvae lay beneath him. He could defeat them in one swift moment if he used the steel threads, but Harley currently kept the Sapphire Dite. Thinking that he couldn't use it, he showed a bitter smile. Harley and Kirik were making adjustments on the Sapphire Dite, and that would take time. If Layfon returned now and asked someone to fetch the Sapphire Dite for him, he'd probably be granting that person relief.
He looked at the outskirts of the city. A scenery of the wilderness that he was already used to seeing. Since Zuellni was so hot, it must have moved into the tropics. The third wave came straight after the second wave attack. It didn't cause direct damage to Zuellni, but as Vance had worried, another side of the outskirts was lacking in attack power.
While still counterattacking the second wave, Vance ordered the first unit, led by the 17th platoon, to take care of the third wave larvae.
"Seems we can rest a little bit."
"....... Seems so," Layfon nodded at the voice. He turned around and saw tiredness on Nina's face. Exhaustion was unavoidable since they had been participating in the Military Arts Competition, faced the sudden emergency and were now fighting filth monsters.
His nose still hurt.
This level of pollutants wouldn't bring him any life-threatening danger. Judging by how the outside scenery blurred and twisted, the density of the air filter had increased. No more pollutants would leak into the city. Vance's orders for other teams sounded from the flake. The first unit was ordered to wait at its location and defend its area. But the Military Artists' gazes were attracted to the figure outside the air shield. Falnir. When Zuellni was fighting against the second wave of filth monsters, Falnir had suddenly moved......... Fled. This meant Zuellni had become a target. Falnir had chosen to abandon Zuellni and escape.
"....... I can't blame them."
Complicated feelings filled Nina's voice. Yes, the people living in Falnir were not responsible. Just like the students in Zuellni, they drifted in a region in this wilderness and had to rely on their city alone to survive. The city's consciousness, the Electronic Fairy, had made the decision to leave. One couldn't judge an Electronic Fairy. It had only made the best decision to protect the people living in the city, and as such, Zuellni had been left behind. This wasn't a vile act. It shouldn't be.
Almost all Military Artists had witnessed the moment of Falnir's leaving. The sound of metal denoted the breaking up of the contact point, and at that moment, two shining things appeared. One was the figure of a young girl. The other was of a grown male. Many people hadn't seen these two figures before, but they all knew what they were. Zuellni and Falnir's Electronic Fairies. Falnir's aura was like a beast, courageous. On the contrary, Zuellni appeared innocent and naive with its long hair swaying behind her. But there wasn't a feeling of inferiority and superiority due to the difference in appearance.
Falnir's eyes were closed. Zuellni gave an imperceptible nod.
Light expanded from the two Electronic Fairies and clashed, vanishing the next moment. Next, Zuellni changed. A sudden intense light blinded her figure, and a teenage girl was revealed.
Then the two Electronic Fairies disappeared. Falnir moved away from Zuellni.
"What do you think?"
"How should I put it......" Layfon said, perplexed. He felt the two Electronic Fairies had said something during that time and had made a decision. The end result was Falnir's leaving. If that was the case, then what had happened? What was the meaning behind Zuellni's growth?
".........I think Falnir has given the victory to Zuellni."
"Uh?" he reacted, surprised at Nina's conclusion.
"I think some kind of relationship exists between Electronic Fairies. The two of them must be discussing, and they made a decision about who won and about the current situation. They might have compromised. That was why they showed themselves."
Yes. That explanation seemed plausible. The two of them appeared to have discussed something. Finally, Zuellni had accepted something. That probably was just it. In that case, why did Falnir give Zuellni the victory? Because Zuellni had the advantage at the time of the Military Arts Competition? Or was it guilt for abandoning its fellow Electronic Fairy? Layfon didn't understand. Besides, this wasn't the time to dwell on speculations.
The two of them looked at Zuellni's broken multi-leg. Either way, this had become a problem.
"Zuellni can't move?"
"It has lots of multi-legs. I think it can still move even though it's lost one......"
But one couldn't quite make that conclusion since Zuellni wasn't moving right now. Perhaps it was already having trouble maintaining its balance. Other areas of Zuellni might also have been damaged. Layfon looked at the sky.
"Still haven't found it?" He said to Felli's flake. Felli was currently searching for the location of the thing that was throwing the larvae over. Only she could spread out and control flakes both inside and outside the city. Karian had sent out probes too, but they hadn't found anything.
Two waves of larvae came from the same direction, so what Felli was searching for should be in that direction. If she discovered it, Layfon would immediately move. Only an aged phase filth monster could execute this feat. Probably a very ancient filth monster too.
"Still haven't found the target within 30 kilomels."
30 kilomels. It wasn't possible to cover that distance without a bike. There was the problem of the bike's speed and the endurance of the suit against pollutants. Compared to that, one should also consider the possibility of a long running fight and being unable to make it back because the city was too far away. But with a bike, one should have a higher chance of returning as the bike could carry food, and the Psychokinesist would also be with him. But thinking of how that filth monster could throw something so far from 30 kilomels away.........
His nose still hurt even though the pollutants were gone from the air. No. If this was caused by pollutants, he should have a nosebleed. Then what was it?
"Haven't you ever thought that the smell in the air changes before a battle?"
Layfon recalled that voice.
"I get excited whenever I feel that. Aah, a strong enemy is coming. I wonder how high of a level my body can reach this time."
Those lines felt surreal to him, but he could now understand some of that feeling. The tension one felt in the face of a strong enemy. In the past, he had never wanted to see how much strength he had. He only focused on the reward he would get after defeating his enemies. Of course, it wasn't a performance to increase one's power. An opening would make one weak, and weakness meant death. He couldn't make money if he died. That was his naive theory.
For some reason, he felt that if he now possessed the feeling he had during those fights, he might not be able to defeat this filth monster. But if it were that person, he probably wouldn't think like that. He would only want to fight his enemy.
In the past, Layfon only thought of how to earn rewards. Failure was possible, and his only choice was to flee if he did get trapped in that situation. This meant he had relied too much on Grendan. The current situation was different. If Layfon lost, no one in Zuellni could take his place. No, to say it correctly, this wasn't a problem of losing or not losing.........
(Over 30 kilomels.........)
He hoped that thing was somewhere close to 30 kilomels. 50 kilomels would take up a lot of time. And what should they do if it was over 100 kilomels? The bike would have to run not on a city's street, but on the arid land. The burden on the tires would destroy them. Besides, the longer Layfon was away, the more larvae would be thrown to Zuellni. What would the result be if 30 larvae were constantly thrown to Zuellni? The Military Artists would have more strength if not for the Military Arts Competition. Losing to the filth monster wasn't what made Layfon scared. He was scared that when he returned, Zuellni would already be destroyed.
(Aa, why am I only realizing that now.)
This wasn't Grendan.
In Grendan, the Queen would ensure the city's safety even if all Heaven's Blades were sent outside. But Zuellni's strength wasn't as high. It didn't have a Queen. It didn't have Lintence, Savaris, Delbone, Cauntia, Reverse, Troyatte, Ruimei, Barmelin, Kanaris, or Tigris. Even though they weren't here now, Layfon still felt there were people there to take care of the defense behind him.
Leerin's figure appeared in his mind. If something happened to her when he was away... If she became food for the larvae........ That thought was enough to numb his limbs. He felt like his feet were glued to Zuellni as if they had taken root.
(Please, find it within 50 kilomels.)
But the report that came to him after a few hours failed to grant his wish.
"At 50 kilomels, and no target spotted."
During Felli's report, Layfon was fighting the 5th wave.
A positive report finally reached the office of the Student Council the next morning.
"Thanks for the work. You should go and rest."
"Then I'll take a rest."
Karian touched the flake in his breast pocket as a way of comforting his sister. But......The distance was a problem. 150 kilomels. He could not imagine the power behind that something that could throw a huge rock from 150 kilomels away. He didn't even have the strength to guess that power. He might glint some information if he asked students from the Alchemy and the General Studies courses, but he had no strength to hear those reports. A Military Artist who could defeat such a foe......
But Karian had felt the same uneasiness that Layfon was feeling. 150 kilomels. This was about the same distance as the last time when Layfon went to fight the aged phase filth monster. Taking the terrain into consideration, it'd take one day to reach the destination. No one could guarantee what the filth monster would do during that time. Perhaps it would do other things. Even filth monsters had things to take care of. So how long could Zuellni hold? They were now fighting against the 8th wave. Each wave had become slower than its predecessor. But they couldn't let their guard down.
The Military Artists were exhausted. Karian must make a decision.
They could shoot down the larvae group with the support of Psychokinesists, but that had its limit.
"Can I only leave it to him? But........."
An Electronic voice sounded, coming from the bottom of the building. The female receptionist sounded shaky, saying someone was here to see him. Karian immediately understood her reaction after hearing the name of the guest. He had seen him two times. Once during Zuellni's madness, and the other time during the match with Myath.
"What're you planning this time?"
"Nothing. We sell 'strength'. This should be essential under this situation," the electronic voice sounded as the door closed.
A person wearing a cold mask. No one could tell whether it was male or female. However, Karian remained calm despite the uniqueness of this person – Fermaus Foa, the Mercenary Gang's representative. Not the leader but the representative. Was it because he was a Psychokinesist?
Karian nodded. "I see. You only appear now to push up the price?"
"Not only that. There's the event in the past too. In truth, this side feels awkward visiting you."
"Uh, meaning.........you're willing to help to compensate for the earlier event?"
".........I never thought you would be one to hold a grudge."
"I don't forget people with bad personalities," he pushed away the hair from the side of his face. As he had not had any sleep, his hair had lost its shine. He had put aside his glasses too. His countenance right now was extremely exhausted, and the headache that came whenever it wanted urged him to stop thinking, but he kept at it.
He needed the Mercenary Gang, but what was their purpose?
"We can leave anytime, but then we can't reach our purpose," Fermaus said.
Karian wondered whether he said it to alleviate the atmosphere or that he had already guessed Karian's thought.
"This is the best time to obtain the Haikizoku. It's not interesting to be hated if we fail to retrieve it."
"......So you want to control the situation?"
"Yes. We're on the boundary of winning and losing. Let us reinforce you. Of course, we won't ask for money in return."
"The reward is the Haikizoku?"
"According to the situation, it might be the possessed Military Artist," Fermaus said without holding back.
"......So you want me to abandon Zuellni's student? Do you ask for this regardless of how I answer you?"
"You should know that the current situation is different."
True. They were reducing the number of larvae, but if they kept fighting like this, people might die. They already had 11 students heavily injured, and numerous students sustained light injuries. It was lucky that no one had died so far. But that was just a problem of timing. The possibility of death would rise if Layfon left Zuellni. This was why Fermaus chose this timing to show himself. Felli had said that he was an incredible Psychokinesist. He must have also discovered the thing throwing the larvae and so gave his suggestion to Karian based on his speculation? Or, had he hidden a flake in this room and eavesdropped on Karian's conversation with Felli? Either way, the other side held the upper hand. This masked person seemed to be saying "Here is the fighting power that you want".
"All right," he said, nodding slowly.
"Then the deal is sealed," Fermaus said. Karian watched him leave.
"Are you serious?" the reproachful voice came from the flake in his breast pocket. It appeared Felli hadn't been resting.
"Shouldn't you do something before I answer you?"
"I already searched the room. There's no hidden flake. He might have retrieved it already, or it might not be there in the first place."
As expected of brother and sister. Satisfaction filled him with his sister's action. He smiled.
"Don't try to cover it up."
"We do need their fighting strength."
"Yes, but. You don't think your brother will sacrifice people's lives?"
"......That is possible."
So his sister did harbor such great hate for him. Perhaps Layfon was one of that reasons. That must be it. But, never mind.
"Get Nina Antalk to monitor them."
He had heard from Nina of the events when she went missing. As long as the Haikizoku was here, Zuellni might go on a rampage. Hence, he had listened to Nina's explanation. However, Nina also had a stubborn side to her. That wasn't because she was dissatisfied with the Student Council. She had a mission. As such, not wanting to waste more time, he released her from the room. He wondered whether Fermaus knew that the Haikizoku was now in Nina. The Gang must also have something planned. Zuellni had calmed down with Nina's return. No one could deny that truth.
"We must protect her when the time comes......At least until Layfon returns," he said, even though he felt they wouldn't do well in resisting the Gang. At the same time, he cursed himself for having no choice but to make such a decision.
The Sapphire Dite shone at the cold key word. A Katana. The blade was now thicker to maintain its new form. It was more suitable to call it a Katana used to cut wood. Layfon swung the Katana to feel it, and restored it to the Dite form, putting it back into the weapon harness. Next was the Adamantium Dite. He restored it. A Katana. Not much different from before. The shape of it had changed according to the metal Dite – the Dite that Derek had given him.
"How is it?" Harley asked anxiously. The exhaustion of working for days without sleep showed on his face.
"Good. Very good."
He restored it and put it into the weapon harness, feeling the weapon harness's added weight and the fight looming before him. 150 kilomels was too far away. No matter what, he must reach it before midnight.
(What should I do during that time?)
He had received Karian's instruction from the flake. Karian had told him that the Mercenary Gang would help, and that Fermaus was in charge of the Gang.
The Gang would do this even though they kidnapped Felli before. But Layfon held gratitude for the Gang's resolve. The Gang could take care of the larvae even without Haia. However, the enemy could control the number of larvae it threw and the direction it threw from. Nothing was guaranteed even with the Mercenary Gang's participation. But Layfon couldn't hope for more. He knew the situation was against them. The longer he dragged it, the worse the situation would become.
After thanking Harley and Kirik, he headed for the bottom of the city. He would take the bike and drive for the filth monster. He took the lift to the ground floor and put on his protective suit as he traversed the corridors.
Nina appeared underneath the city.
"Captain, don't you need a rest?"
"You need a rest more than me."
The team that the 17th platoon led was given time to rest. The short two hours were enough.
"Isn't it better to take a rest?" Nina said.
"I need rest before the battle, but that's only if the action hasn't been shifted ahead."
The filth monster hadn't moved for now. But who knew when it would take action?
"I see," she sighed.
"Compared to that, you should adjust the amount of Kei you use. Reduce the number of times you use external Kei in a long fight. That's different from Internal Kei, as it can't be recycled. Especially with you, the type who uses heavy weapons........."
"How can you still worry about others now?" she smiled bitterly.
"No, you're not wrong......It's just, I'm too unreliable."
He wanted to say "Not at all", but he swallowed it.
"Kongoukei and Raijin. I already learned these two moves, but I still can't support you......"
"But I can at least guarantee you that we'll protect Leerin. Please rest at ease."
Did she come here especially to tell him this? So that he could fight without worries. He wanted to say sorry, but he felt that wasn't what he should be saying now. The Katana was now in his weapon harness. Nina had done everything to persuade him to hold the Katana. What was he like to that Nina at that time? He wanted to apologize, but this wasn't the time to say sorry. He had already given it.
Nina's eyes widened then she smiled. She smiled as if she was relieved.
He was drawn to that smile of hers.
"Ah, no...... Nothing. I'll definitely win and come back."
"Don't be reckless."
"Yeah, I know."
Nina moved aside. He opened the door. A bike waited for him in the dim space.
"You must return," she said as the bike took him out. When he turned his head around, the door had already closed.
He had arrived later than he expected. It was deep into the night. He stopped the bike 10 kilomels from the target and hid himself to observe it.
This thing was like a monster with four legs. It had lost its wings to only move on the ground. With its abdomen on the ground, it kept a resting pose like a gigantic statue. But the part jutting from its back that looked like a gargantuan chimney didn't look like part of something living.
"......This shoots out the larva," Felli's voice came from the flake in his helmet.
"Can't tell whether it's male, but this aged phase monster can reproduce," Layfon said as he continued observing. He wanted to jump in and eliminate it now, but looking at its size, he didn't know where to begin.
"I just checked the ground. There's a huge hole there. I think there's a female filth monster there."
"Yes, I can't see it from here, but a tube-like thing is connecting its abdomen to the female's abdomen. That might explain how it sucks in the larvae."
And shot to Zuellni like bullets.
"In that case, I must first......" he took out the Adamantium Dite and the Sapphire Dite.
"Fon Fon? Shouldn't you wait till the morning? You should rest first......"
"I can take care of the larvae."
"But it might notice the light when you restore the Dites. You must remain calm when you move."
Sunlight could cover up the light of the Dite, but not during the night. If he did so, he'd start the battle. How tired was he right now? He hadn't slept for two nights, but he had just drank the dense nutrient liquid to replenish his strength, and his Internal Kei flow was in good condition. What about psychologically? He took a deep breath. No problem. It had calmed down. And his Kei vein? He did fight in the Military Arts Competition and against the larvae, but that level of fatigue was light. No problem.
He had the Adamantium Dite. Looking at this filth monster, it was at the level of gaining a name. That thought made him uneasy, but in this situation, he couldn't have any false hope. All he could do was attempt what he could do.
"I'm going in."
He restored the two Dites without waiting for her to finish. The filth monster reacted to the light. Its body shook. However, the skin of a filth monster just climbing out of slumber could not immediately regain its level of hardness. Layfon let the steel threads from his left hand run into the filth monster's abdomen to move through the tube into the ground. A bad feeling came from the steel threads.
The cannon on the filth monster's back swelled. Layfon tried cutting the tube with the steel threads but failed. The external Kei was deflected. Smoke rose from the abdomen. He jumped up to swing the heavy Adamantium Dite. His target was the mouth of the cannon.
The colossal thing jumped along with the massive pressure. The pressure prevented Layfon from landing on the mouth of the cannon. His Kei move was executed as he lost his balance.
Extermal Kei variation – Sendan.
The Kei cannon rebounded off the filth monster's body and failed to damage it.
He adjusted his body for the landing. During this time, the steel threads had killed off the female filth monster and the left behind larvae. But he had only killed some of the larvae. The rest were already in the cannon.
The filth monster stood up, leaving behind the useless tube. The sound of rock breaking came from the massive body. Layfon put the handles of the Dites together. The blade of the Katana pointed to the left of his waist. His left hand held its handle.
Psyharden technique – Flame Cut.
The move he executed earlier, Sendan, had given him an idea of how hard the outer skin of the filth monster was. Hence, he chose to use another technique against it. As long as he managed to cut out a part of the outer skin, he could concentrate on attacking that wound.
A filth monster's skin was softer once it emerged from its sleep. As tiny cracks ran through the outer skin when the filth monster stood up to spread its limbs, Layfon disappeared, leaving behind flying sand. He reappeared underneath the filth monster's abdomen.
External Kei exuded from the blade. Along with the Kei covering his left hand, the two Kei merged to become flame. Pressing those two powers together, he swung the Katana down.
The second swing of the Katana opened the wound further apart. Body liquid spilled. Layfon didn't stop moving. A Whirl Kei jump took him to the tail end of the filth monster. The enemy bent down at the severe wound, causing the earth to groan intensely. Was it too hurt to move? Or did it want to crush him? Or that it just wanted to protect its wound......
It was too late to give the filth monster a third attack. Layfon defended against the filth monster's counterattacks as he pulled his distance apart from it. Holding the handle of the Adamantium Dite, he concentrated his strength on the Sapphire Dite. The steel threads were still underneath the enemy's abdomen. He wanted to cut open the enemy's body from its inside, but...
Trapped in the heavy muscles, the steel threads had failed to move. He only managed to pull them out by pouring external Kei into them. The filth monster leaped, wanting to crush him with its weight. The rebound of its leap kicked up a screen of dust. Layfon jumped away.
As he turned away in his jump, his gaze met that of the filth monster's. It was a monster, but its mouth didn't look that ferocious. It had eyes. Multiple eyes that seemed to be its only difference from a human being.
It opened its mouth. Sensing danger, Layfon jumped away again. A loud and shrill sound came from the place that his jump was taking him to.
The sharp things shooting from the filth monster's mouth stabbed the earth.
"Its teeth," Felli said.
The filth monster had shot a few of its numerous teeth in its mouth.
Who would have thought it had such tools along with its size....... Layfon kept moving, preventing himself from presenting a still target for the monster. His enemy moved to keep up with him and he in turn moved away. This prevented him from attacking it.
"What is it?"
"It's hard. It's huge, and it's hard to grab a good timing. Difficult," he replied as he ran. He attempted to ready an attacking pose with the steel threads while drawing a distance from the filth monster. However, it already took too much strength to cut open the outer skin. Not only that. The wound he made earlier had already healed.
"As expected. Amazing revival power," he said and landed in front of the filth monster.
"Fon......!" Felli's voice filled his helmet.
The sharp teeth flew for him. He stepped back to avoid the assault.
"About 500 meters is the shooting range."
"Fon Fon?" she said, confused.
He didn't reply. He ran, matching the filth monster that tried to close in on him. If he had wanted, he could draw it away, but he didn't do that. The certain speed that he maintained dictated the filth monster's direction.
Someone was watching this fight from far away.
"What's he doing?"
The man sitting on the bike replied to the flake. "Probably measuring its strength? It seems hard to end the fight quickly, so he must be planning and doing this to figure out his opponent's true strength."
"I see," Fermaus said. "Then aren't you going to take action? Aren't you planning to fight it?"
Savaris had done little in the past three months. Today's scene was what he had been waiting for, but he never thought this would happen so far away from Zuellni. What were they thinking?
"Don't worry, I'll obey the Queen's order.........They should also abide by the agreement."
"Well, that depends on the result. Compared to that, I'm more interested in what Layfon wants to do," he said in a relaxed manner.
What was this man planning? Fermaus couldn't tell. Even though Savaris had been in Zuellni for three months, Fermaus didn't see him much. It seemed Savaris had appeared before Gorneo several times, but he didn't live with his brother. Fermaus had tried trailing him, but Savaris had easily thrown him off his trail. In the end, he could only give up and wait for the other person to come.
But the Mercenary Gang was impatient. Because of Haia's actions, the Gang was almost disbanded. Now they wanted to return quickly to Grendan. Savaris' arrival was to them an urge, but he didn't say anything to them. It was as if he didn't care at all. However, he had suddenly appeared before him. The Gang's morale was low. Fermaus had already explained to the members about what had happened. If not for this filth monster's attack, he probably couldn't unite them.
(Because we relied too much on Haia in the past.)
Fermaus couldn't do this alone. Not because he was a Psychokinesist, but because he was firmly seen as a strategist by others. They had already accepted him as a strategist, and he himself was used to supporting the leader. It was hard for everyone to accept his changed role. Besides, Savaris was here to replace Haia, yet Savaris didn't care to contact them.........
(......I have to keep this home for him.)
Considering that Haia might return, Fermaus did all he could to keep this home together.
"......Never mind," Savaris said, submerged in heavy feelings.
"I originally wanted to see what Layfon was doing, but never mind. I'm tired of observing. It's been three months," he said and took the bike.
Trouble and annoyance in Fermaus's mind.
(Aa, that guy has never thought of us.)
Savaris just did whatever his personality wanted.
"Good," Layfon nodded. He had grasped hold of the filth monster's strength.
"Then what do you plan to do?" Felli asked. She had been observing him.
"I can't defeat it with a normal method," he said.
"The Dite isn't hard enough. If I don't use it well, it won't last."
It wasn't because the Dite was bad in its filtering function. Only a Heaven's Blade could sustain all of Layfon's Kei.
"Even if I have that, that doesn't mean I can fully suppress it. After all, the opponent can be given a name......"
"So, time to escape?"
Her suggestion was the safest option. The larvae he destroyed earlier were the last group, so the danger to Zuellni was gone. That was why he now had time to think through some strategies.
He put the filth monster at bay as he talked with Felli.
"No, if I do that, it'll probably head for Zuellni."
Though he wanted to drag out the time to weaken his opponent, the first to use up all the strength would probably be Layfon himself. The filth monster could ignore its wounds and let them heal, but with Layfon, he had nothing to defend against the pollutants if his suit was damaged. A long fight was not the best possible decision.
"I've a way. Can't guarantee though...... How's Zuellni?"
"......Who'd have thought you still have the time to worry about that."
"True......Sorry," he apologized. Yes, because he already decided to trust them.
"Stop thinking of other things. Just tell me what you're planning. If there's something I can do to help, I'll do it."
"Then please set the Psychokinesis mine in the place......" he noticed something.
A large flow of Kei suddenly appeared and a figure wearing the coat of the Mercenary Gang stood in the direct line of Layfon's gaze.
"Haia?" Layfon said and then rejected that thought. The color of the Kei was different. And......
No, Dites were equipped on his hands and feet. Hand to hand combat. And Layfon had seen him before......The man moved. He almost failed to capture this man's movement.
"Eh? No way......" he doubted his eyes.
It wasn't because the man's movement was too quick. The color of the Kei, the movement, and.........
One swing of the man's fist sent the filth monster flying.
Confused. But if it was that person, he would definitely do this. The man continued to rain down his fists on the side of the filth monster's abdomen. The enemy's outer scales fell like flakes. Layfon could tell how happy this person was. A fighting maniac.
His only conclusion. Layfon jumped to the ground.
He increased the density of Kei. Though he didn't know what just happened, this was the best timing to attack.
Internal Kei variation – Water Mirror.
His figure disappeared in the screen of dust that he himself had kicked up. The next moment, he reappeared on the other side of the filth monster, the other side of where Savaris was attacking. He and Savaris had perfectly sandwiched the opponent between them. Layfon attacked. As if knowing his thoughts, Savaris pushed the face of his palm into the filth monster.
Psyharden technique – Hamonnuki. External Kei variation – Gourikitetsupa Kouga.
Layfon's move peeled off the entire filth monster's outer skin to damage its internal cells. At the same time, Savaris' attack dealt a heavy blow to the opponent's internal structure. The filth monster groaned and moaned under the two severe attacks.
Layfon jumped away and kept his distance from the enemy. A part of the blade he was holding had turned red. Black smoke issued from the gap in the weapon. If he kept releasing his Kei, the Adamantium Dite might not last.
"Aa, as I thought. We couldn't fully suppress it," Savaris said in a relaxed manner, appearing beside him. The equipment on his hand had also changed color.
"Savaris-san, where's your Heaven's Blade?"
"I can't just take it outside anytime I like."
Layfon watched the sky. It was hard to gain powerful reinforcements, yet Savaris was limited in the same way as he was.
"Not at all. I'm quite happy. Don't you find this great to know how weak the outside Military Artists are? Ah, you've already experienced it."
Layfon watched him with a cold gaze.
"Are you after the Haikizoku?"
"Yes," he nodded without hiding anything. "But this seems more interesting now."
"Why did you......No, the person who delivered Leerin......"
"Yes, that was me," he admitted.
Strange. No matter how lucky she was, as a normal person, it wasn't possible for Leerin to traverse the battlefield of the Military Arts Competition. He had thought of her receiving help, yet he never thought it was a Heaven's Blade successor.
"Why is the Queen doing this to obtain the Haikizoku?"
"Uh, I can't answer you, especially now that you've left Grendan."
"It's got nothing to do with you," Savaris said. "Well, let's put that aside. We have to defeat this monster, right? I haven't fought with you since the battle against Behemoth. At that time we had the Heaven's Blades and Lintence. We were also on the outskirts of the city, so it was all right to sustain injuries. But now we don't have Lintence or the Heaven's Blades. And we're only wearing this kind of suit. Aaaa, so many disadvantages. I just want to dance."
"As you wish," Layfon restored the Adamantium Dite into its Dite form and returned it to the weapon harness. He had to let it cool down a bit before using it again. Instead, he restored the Shim Adamantium Dite.
"If I can't defeat it, then it matters not whether you're here or not."
"Oh? Well said."
Even so, Layfon was happy to have Savaris here. The filth monster had been rendered immobile by their simultaneous attacks. This was a good timing to give the Dites some rest.
"Since you don't plan to interfere, can you help with something?"
"Ohoh, seems like you've a plan. Sure."
Here they made their decision. The filth monster moved once more, opening its mouth to shoot out numerous sharp teeth. Layfon and Savaris split up as they leaped aside to avoid the attack.
If the enemies were only the larvae, then there was a way to solve this crisis. The tragic scream from her right halted Nina's steps.
"My hand......!" the man screamed and fainted. Nina pulled him over and let the medical team treat him. The rate of people getting injured had increased drastically in just a day of battle. Feeling the cruelty of reality, Nina changed her direction, attempting to deal a blow to the larva before her. The heavy hit of the iron weapon broke through the larva's hard shell to strike its body. The hand in the larvae's arm, which had been separated from its owner, had already been bitten into an unrecognizable state. Nina wanted to attack again but her feet slipped.
That one opening caused her movement to slow, and the larva took that chance. A massive mouth appeared right before Nina.
She stuck the iron whip into the mouth and executed an external burst type Kei move. The entire body of the larva shook and the larva stopped moving. Using the corpse as a shield, Nina used Kei again – Raijin. External burst type Kei executed with extreme high speed. The friction in the air created lightning and destroyed a number of larvae in one split second. Nina immediately leaped back and breathed in deeply.
"Sorry," Sharnid said. His bullet earlier had saved her life.
"We don't have time to drag it out with these guys," he said, sweat rolling down his face. He was looking at the direction ahead of her. The Kei cannon had played a hand in keeping the larvae at bay, but filth monsters were still approaching the city, and they weren't larvae.
They were matured forms of male filth monsters.
The things shot over at Zuellni earlier were massive egg-like rocks. Inside each rock hid around 20-40 larvae. There had been 15 waves of attacks since Felli reported that Layfon had made contact with the filth monster. However, that was just the number confirmed by Psychokinesists. In fact, nine battles had been fought altogether since the landing of the first wave. Felli had reported that the group of larvae they fought now was the last wave, making this the 10th battle. The rock of the 5th wave had been shot down and now lay immobile. But now it finally woke from its slumber, revealing not larvae but five male filth monsters. What changes had the inside of the "egg" underwent? Accelerated growth? Or that the larvae had consumed each other to give birth to the male filth monsters? No doubt this posed the greatest threat to the fighting Military Artists.
The liquid splashing from the vibrating wings of the filth monsters gave off a red shine under the sunlight. Dalshena had sustained an injury during the 8th battle and had left the field.
"She's got a broken leg, but that shouldn't have any lasting side effects."
Dalshena wasn't the only one. Naruki had fainted due to overworking her Kei vein. She used Karen Kei too many times when she still hadn't completely grasped hold of how it worked.
The air shield reflected dusk. The earlier shot of the Kei cannon had missed its target to draw an arc in the sky.
"Don't shoot another cannon," Nina said.
"Makes me think of that stingy Head of Business, hugging his head in regret," Sharnid smiled.
The fact that he could still joke in this situation eased Nina's heart. Forget the male filth monsters trying to invade the city. They must first destroy the larvae here. Having had her brief rest, Nina jumped back into the front line. Sharnid's accurate shots took his bullets through the cracks in the shield of the larvae to either kill them off or slow their movements. And Nina no longer held the fear she held when she first fought the filth monsters. She could now wield the iron whips to deal heavy internal damage and defend herself using Kongoukei.
When she first fought...... she met Layfon and knew of his strength and past. She had fought the larvae after a setback. At present, she had definitely grown compared to the past. She truly felt it in this battle but she didn't feel happy about it. The enemies were still outside. Even so, Nina and the others had successfully eliminated all larvae in their designated area. Were they to fight the matured forms now?
The male filth monsters that were waiting for their chance outside the air shield were creating a huge negative setback for the Military Artists around them. Exhaustion swiftly turned to despair.
Next came the report that added frost to ice.
"A number of larvae have broken through the outskirt and destroyed the cannon. We can't use the cannon anymore."
Felli was concentrating in supporting Layfon. This was another Psychokinesist's voice.
"Wha!" Nina said in despair at the report.
"What is the current situation?"
Nina was horrified at one other thing even though it was bad they couldn't use the cannon.
"The filth monsters had broken through the third defensive line. Some people have gone chasing after them but they have yet to eliminate them......"
"Then we're heading over too!"
"Hey, don't be reckless! If you don't rest......"
Nina didn't listen to Sharnid's advice.
"I'm leaving this to you!" She left him the defensive job and headed for the inside of the city with part of the team.
Filth monsters entered a city to eat people. She didn't have to fathom what the larvae's destination was.
Nina knew the locations of the shelters even without the help of a Psychokinesist. She increased her pace as she drew the location of the third defensive line and the shelter around it in her head. She wasn't thinking of the Military Artists following her at all.
She had promised Layfon to protect Leerin. Of course this wasn't the only reason. She knew clearly that it was every Military Artist's job to protect the citizens. But now, all that filled her mind was Layfon's disappointed face when he returned.
Nina's speed was faster than others.
One only needed to turn the mechanism on the entrance to open the door. Right now, the door was tightly shut. Humans only needed to look at this sign to know it as an entrance, but the illiterate larvae were heading straight for this shelter. Perhaps they could sense the presence of numerous people. Perhaps they could smell them because of their keen sense of smell.
There were six larvae winging their way in.
Nina arrived earlier than them and she breathed, regulated her breathing on top of the shelter. She swung her iron whips and attacked one of the larvae.
Pain shot up her right arm. Did she twist her wrist? No. Her right arm was tired for having held the heavy weapon for a long time. The attack she dealt the filth monster just then had reached her nerves.
"The movement of your right hand is too simple."
Layfon's words flashed through her mind. She couldn't keep swinging this heavy weapon without considering the side effects of rebound, especially when it was a long fight......Layfon had reminded her of that.
Tolerating the pain, she gave the filth monster a fatal strike with her left iron whip.
Five more to go and her reinforcements had yet to arrive.
The remaining filth monsters rushed her immediately.
Combination of external and internal Kei: Kongoukei.
The Kei covering her entire body deflected two larvae. The other two filth monsters didn't have time to fold their wings before Nina's consecutive strikes hit them, killing them.
Three more to go.
The pain running up her right arm was intensifying, making it unable to move as she wanted. The rebounding Kei caused pain in her joints. She was using her left hand more to cover for her right, and that hand felt heavier than before too. Both of her arms felt heavy.
Without her knowing, she had sunk into pondering something that had nothing to do with the fight.
(When did he start calling me Captain?)
Layfon. At first, he called her senpai. Somehow, he had started calling her captain. Just when did it happen? She had only realized it now. But she felt lonely, being called captain.
(What do I want to be called?)
Captain, senpai, or Nina?
She was in a battle right now.
The three remaining larvae folded their wings and closed off their shells. Clothed in hard black shells, the three huge insects closed in on Nina, their multi-eyes shining, devoid of emotion.
Nina's arms felt so heavy. The fingers holding the iron whips shook. But only three more to go.
She was gathering Kei. She had to protect this place.
(Because I've promised Layfon.)
She didn't want to see his sad expression again.
Internal Kei variation – Raijin.
Lightning pierced the filth monsters. They exploded before they were sent flying away.
Nina could already grasp hold of the key of this move. This had become her ultimate move, the move taught by Layfon that she could show to Dixerio.
She tottered on her feet and collapsed onto the ground. She couldn't move. It was already a miracle that she was still holding the iron whips.
She had protected Leerin.
Completely exhausted, she felt for a split second that she had finished her mission. Yes, just a split second. She only saw some shadow when she looked at the sky, but she then understood what it was.
They were five black spots. Shadows then blocked off the sunlight to shade Nina's entire body.
Male filth monsters. The five male filth monsters hovering outside the city had finally broken through the air purification shield, and all five were in top condition. As for Zuellni, all of her Military Artists were exhausted for having fought the larvae.
(If this continues......)
Zuellni would be destroyed. Layfon would lose the place to return to. Leerin would die. Not only that, all other students here would die. What was the Mercenary Gang doing?
No......They had lost Haia. The Mercenary Gang's prime purpose was the Haikizoku. They weren't trustworthy. These words echoed in Nina's heart.
Is this......the real purpose? Did the Mercenary Gang deliberately allow Zuellni to face a crisis so all students sank into despair? So that the Haikizoku in Nina could awake?
Her voice was lost. She was surprised at her own condition. She couldn't even get up. Right now, her body kept shaking and her flesh refused to listen to her.
She couldn't lose here. The cannon was useless, but Zuellni still had Vance and Gorneo.
She couldn't do anything more. She had promised Layfon, but she was sleeping here. Just why did she want to be strong? She didn't think it was bad to let others do the work. She had kept training till now to make herself useful in battle. Even so..........
"This is your true personality," a sudden voice said. "Though that stubborn wall protects your usual heart, that is your real heart. It is the heart that seeks to protect the city, the heart that hides deep in the side of the hard shell."
The owner of the voice was next to her, but Nina couldn't turn her head. It was in her blind spot.
"Who... are you?"
"Do you want to cry?"
The words touched Nina's heart.
"It's your promise with the Electronic Fairy. Yes, the promise. You always live in promises. A promise between Military Artists, a promise you made in the childhood and even now, a promise with the person who can touch the most vulnerable part of your heart."
Who? Who's speaking?
"You also cannot live on your own. No need to hide that truth. You just need to give voice to your wish. Say you want power."
Stop this nonsense!
She wanted to shout but she couldn't. Her body failed to move.
"Let me give it to you. The power that can pierce through a forest of spears. Awake from your body."
The hand of that voice appeared in Nina's sight. The hand was holding something. A something filled with complicated curved lines fill her sight.
Then she didn't see anything else.
A mask had appeared on Nina's face.
Leerin lifted her head without realizing it.
She seemed to hear something.
"What is it?" Meishen asked. She looked paled.
It must be her imagination.
Leerin and the others were in one of the underground shelters. She was leaning against the wall. Because she had nothing to do, she was looking at the ceiling, spacing out. Bags for emergency use lay by her feet and piled on top of them were neatly folded blankets. The air-conditioner continued to work but it was useless. The vast, sealed space was filled with the body odors of many people.
The booklet on living in a shelter said to stay in the middle of the shelter, but Leerin had chosen the location near the wall. Mifi and the others agreed with her after knowing why she did it. But Meishen was still hesitant as she was cautious in her approach with things. However, even Meishen didn't say much after living in here for three days. She looked at the people in the middle of the shelter with sympathy.
This shelter contained close to 1000 people.
Toilets. Showers. The passages connecting to other facilities were all located by the wall. It was natural for Leerin to choose this place as she had plenty of experience living in a shelter. However, it was different for others. Not that the people staying in the middle of the shelters were any better, they were just naively afraid of living in a shelter. On the other hand, Leerin was used to it. She herself must be stranger than anyone else.
"Speaking of which, this time it's so long," Mifi said, less careful than her usual self.
Everyone must be very tired. Perhaps they were used to danger now, many more people came to walk in the corridors, and as such, more arguments ensued.
Right now, it was happening somewhere too.
The commotion quieted down quickly. The City Police was taking those people away to another place.
Mifi saw someone familiar among the City Police and waved.
"How's it? Your spirit still up?" Formed asked.
"Hoho, I'm a bit tired," Mifi smiled bitterly.
"How's the situation above the ground?"
"Uh? Going all right. But it takes time to resist successive waves of enemies."
"Ah~" Mifi lay down on the blanket. At the same time, Meishen fell.
"Mei?" Leerin said, finding it strange.
If it was Meishen, she wouldn't do something like that.
Mifi found it strange that Meishen was not responding. She looked at her face. Blood had drained from Meishen's face and she was panting heavily.
The two girls quickly sent her to the clinic.
It appeared she had come down with a fever due to over-exhaustion. The doctor said it was caused by extreme tension. A few people who were diagnosed with the same thing lay on the beds around Meishen.
As she had to look after Meishen, the burden was becoming heavier for Mifi.
(Because Naruki's not here.)
The three of them were always together. This separation was weakening them. Leerin thought of this as she told Mifi she'd leave and get some food. Mifi nodded tiredly.
Leerin walked out of the clinic and took in a deep breath. Even she herself was about to collapse. Was it because this wasn't Grendan? Because there weren't any Heaven's Blade successors? But Layfon was here. She never once doubted his strength. She could be so calm because of this belief. But what else was she thinking? Was it because her strength hadn't recovered since she fainted the last time?
Leerin pondered as she headed for the canteen.
Suddenly, she halted her steps. She stopped, not knowing why.
A path branched off before her. It didn't connect to the toilet, the shower or the canteen. This path led to the outside. For some reason, Leerin had entered this path. At present, the entrance was blocked with numerous heavy metal walls.
But she kept walking in that direction.
No one else was on the path. No one would risk it as filth monsters were still outside.
Leerin stopped after walking a while. Thick walls blocked her way.
"What am I doing?" she said.
She had no idea, but she felt there must be a reason behind her action.
All of a sudden, she covered her face with a hand and knelt down on the floor. Her right eye hurt. This wasn't the usual pain. The pain was such that she couldn't even make a noise. It felt as if the nerves in her right eyeball had been cut, and the pain was now individualized, as if her right eye didn't belong to her anymore. And tears kept leaking from the eye.
The pain prevented her from opening her right eye.
That was what she thought, but she did see the metal wall before her. Even though her hand was covering her eye.........
Her mind was blank. This wasn't even connected to the pain anymore. Who knew when, but the figure of a woman had appeared before the wall. That figure was blurry......Why so blurry? Because Leerin only saw this woman with her right eye.
Black clothes and black hair. The woman appeared before her as if attending a funeral.
Her right eye kept crying tears. Was it too painful? Or because it was suppressing an intense emotion? But, she didn't know.
This woman did not turn back. She just faced the wall.
What was on the other side?
So slow. No, she hadn't taken any actions. He knew clearly the filth monsters were attacking, but Dixerio hesitated in front of so many enemies. No matter the consequences of his action, it'd affect many people. What kind of influence would it be? Maybe that was the Wolf Faces' true aim?
It'd have been good if she knew nothing. But he couldn't say that now.
The mask danced in the air. Her hands held two iron whips.
But there remained some difference between her mask and those of the Wolf Faces. The shape was the same, even the pattern was the same.
But something was different.
Using the building as a foothold, Nina jumped. The green light that seeped from the mask to envelop her entire body was something that the Wolf Faces didn't have. This was the proof of a Haikizoku.
"Damn, it's awakened."
Dixerio didn't know how Nina became possessed, but the truth was here before him.
Had she walked the same doomed road as him?
"I won't let you guys win!"
Dixerio jumped and killed the final filth monster with his weapon. Nina's iron whips had already eliminated the other four. Corpses filled the land of Zuellni.
Dixerio stood on the head of the filth monster that fell from the sky. On its back stood Nina. The two of them faced each other.
"Hey, you still conscious?"
Nina didn't reply.
"Give me the mask. You'll feel more relaxed that way."
Still no reply.
"Damn, already swallowed up?"
She was the same as him back then......
Nina crossed the iron whips before her. How was she viewing Dixerio? As an enemy? A strange creature?
"Well then, guess I'll have to take it by force. It's good to take what I want with my power."
Dixerio readied his metal whip on his shoulder. His other arm was stretched in front of his face. When that arm was removed from his vision...
"And that is the essence of the city of Strong Desire – Velzenheim"
The same mask appeared on Dixerio's face.
The corpse of the filth monster touched the ground.
At the same time, the two Military Artists jumped to cut two green traces in the air.