City Series:Volume3b Chapter 8
Act 8: Double Lee (9:13)
There was a half hour gap between the first gun blast and the second.
When Kouga heard the second blast on his motorcycle, he was passing through an abandoned shelter in the mountains of the New Territories.
He was in the process of escaping to the mainland.
The motorcycle came to a stop as its headlight cut through the darkness of the night.
He placed his feet on the road near the peak of the Hong Kong side of the mountain.
The ocean and Hong Kong were to his left and he looked that way through his sunglasses.
There was no light there.
“So I’ve abandoned my comrades and my family while I escape all on my own, huh?”
His tone was extremely light and he smiled bitterly.
“Still, I have a duty to escape.”
He looked to the rucksack on his back.
It contained some documents the General had given him.
Those documents were two old notebooks.
The old man had not said who had written them, but he had said they contained the whole truth of Hong Kong.
Oddly enough, both notebooks had the same title: “1971 – Notes of Certain Tuner”. The appearance and contents of the notebooks both seemed different, but the handwriting was the same.
“I don’t really get it, but I guess there’s some history to these things.”
Kouga nodded and recalled when he and the General had parted ways at the wharf two hours before.
The General and the others had managed to get a boat from the little assistance being supplied by the mainland and they had started for Hong Kong Island while fully equipped.
The General had told Kouga the following:
…Take these and go to London.
And he had not stopped there.
…It’s that city that created a link between Hong Kong and heaven. However this might end, they need to know everythin’. If you do that now and they react, it’ll save us the trouble of cleanin’ up afterwards.
“So it’s to make sure this isn’t all for nothing? The boss said the same thing.”
Rin had arrived at the Yard before the General and almost her entire body had been customized for combat.
Kouga had been surprised, but Rin had casually checked over her equipment like normal and urged him to escape Hong Kong. She had given a different reason from the General, but it had been reasonable enough.
…If you survive, we at least won’t suffer a total defeat.
He had nodded in agreement, ridden with her to the wharf, and said goodbye to everyone.
The Tank Force, Customs, Ninja, and Hounds remaining in Hong Kong had only numbered at twenty-one, but he had seen them off and waved goodbye.
The rain that had been falling then had since let up.
But it had taken him longer than normal to come this far.
And he had just heard the gun blast signaling the beginning of the fighting.
He kicked off the ground and twisted the accelerator without saying a word.
The wet road gave a smoothness to his speed and he soon caught a pleasant wind.
The great expanse of the sky appeared up ahead as he drove up the slope.
It was a cloudy sky, robbed of all light.
Below it, he saw the mountain’s peak.
Once he crossed it, he would never see Hong Kong again, but he did not slow down.
The motorcycle’s headlight extended toward the heavens for just a moment, but then the red tail light seemed to crawl along the earth before vanishing over the peak.
The Earth Burns had torn into the crust during the Sixth Divine Punishment War, so Hong Kong Island’s shape had changed.
The east and west sides of the island had become cliffs of exposed volcanic rock.
The rock faces curved a bit as they rose about two hundred meters from the ocean surface. The sea breeze that had normally blown across the island ran into those cliff faces, collided with the ocean, and burst into the sky.
The sound of the wind was surprisingly loud and it created a great roar.
Facing the windy rock face on the eastern end of the island was enough to have the blowing wind drown out all other noises.
It was a space cut off from the outside world.
Two figures stood at the top of the cliff.
One was a large man and the other was a slender woman.
They were Fei and Rin.
The two of them were injured.
Fei’s left arm had been severed partway down and the spear of light from an anti-demon round was skewered into his left shoulder.
Rin had fallen to her knees, but the only visual damage was the scorched black hair behind her neck.
Rin was fighting much more evenly than during their previous matchup.
Rin had run across Fei almost immediately after landing at Central’s port on the north end of Hong Kong Island.
The General and the others had been with her, but they had started fighting J-Gun Maldrick and Genius Elias.
Rin’s first job was to draw Fei away from the others and her second was to finish him off.
She had accomplished that first job.
This cliff was three kilometers from Central because they had run at full speed as they fought.
She had used up all of the firearms on her person and thrown them away.
She was now armed with a flat black combat knife.
Fei had tensed the fingers of his right hand and five close-combat Hard Nails had jutted three centimeters out from the fingertips of his hard white false arm.
From there, close-quarters combat had begun.
Rin glanced at the watch on her left wrist.
The bluish-white digital display of the men’s diving watch said it was 11:40 at night.
In twenty more minutes, Hong Kong would be returned to China.
She said something, but it was drowned out by the wind tearing into the cliff.
She closed her mouth and faced forward.
Fei was close enough to reach immediately at a run and he was more damaged, but he was also larger.
She was not yet fully accustomed to her Custom Body and the difference in body size also worked against her.
It was hard to say which one had the advantage at the moment.
Fei was the first to move in order to determine which one of them had the upper hand.
The first thing he did was walk.
Almost immediately, the walk turned into a run.
The spear of light was still stabbed into his left shoulder as he charged toward Rin.
She stood up and kicked forward at the ground of volcanic rock. She made a shallow jump backwards so as not to give him an opening.
Fei’s nails stabbed into the space she had just vacated.
The jab using his elbow and forearm set the wind in motion.
As soon as Rin landed, she jumped forward.
At the same time, she kicked at the ground.
First to the right and then to the left.
Her position in the air shifted.
She made a quick and powerful feint.
By the time Fei lowered his hips in a combat stance, Rin had left his field of vision.
She was above him.
To maintain her momentum while leaping, she rotated her body once and used the centrifugal force to drop straight down.
She placed all of her weight on the knife she held in both hands as she launched her attack.
Fei was slow to react, but he was accurate.
His right arm caught the blade, so it dug into that false arm.
The sound of impact was crushed and the wind rising from the cliff sounded all the louder.
One of them shouted something.
In midair, Rin briefly stood on Fei’s arm as if she had no weight.
And she kicked off his arm to pull out the knife.
With an impact, she flew spinning back through the air.
She twisted her body to absorb the blow from Fei’s arm.
Fei was the first to move the next time.
He leaped forward as Rin landed and lowered down.
He thrust the Hard Nails out from the hand held in front of his chest.
His stance and strength were far more powerful than Rin’s.
It was a sharp attack.
Rin took a defensive stance against the mass of great pressure launched toward her.
Instead of fleeing or fearing, she simply took that light stance.
Some words were spoken.
In that instant, Fei’s right arm scattered.
The solid sound was somewhat audible through the wind.
Fei had been thrown off balance in midair and he fell onto his left knee.
Then he looked to his false right arm.
The arm had defended against the knife attack, but it had vanished starting halfway down the upper arm.
It now looked like glass shards.
The wind blew his arm behind him like a comet’s tail.
This was the power of Tuning.
As proof, a torn piece of paper was attached to the bit of the false arm that remained past his right shoulder.
It was a charm.
Rin had placed it there when making her knife attack and it had paid off here.
She stepped forward at a speed one could call slow.
She targeted Fei’s head as he stood up and tried to fall back.
She started to run and in a straight line this time.
She was fast, so she quickly covered the distance between them.
She charged toward his chest and raised the knife in her right hand, but just as she gathered strength, she froze in place in that stance.
Meanwhile, Fei had no means of defending and no weapons with which to fight.
But he moved his thick neck and revealed his intent to fight.
He twisted his head around to bite into the handle of the spear of light stabbed into his left shoulder.
He moved just like a beast attempting to escape a trap.
The spear of light was pulled from his shoulder and the rest was simple.
As he held the spear between his teeth, the blade swept horizontally toward Rin’s throat.
She had no way of avoiding the slash and the blow sent her flying through the air.
A crack-like line ran halfway through her neck.
Blood spurted out at about the same time as the spear left Fei’s mouth.
The Yard unit led by the General was caught in such a hard fight that they could not even approach Hong Kong Cave.
They were in Central’s wharf area on the northern end of Hong Kong Island.
Their opponents were the resurrected J-Gun Maldrick and the light-controlling Genius Elias.
The battle against them had split into two poles.
As soon as they had landed, Rin had spotted Fei and parted ways with them. The four tanks of the Tank Force had faced J-Gun while the remaining twenty people from the Customs, Ninja, and Hounds had faced Genius.
The enemy’s movements were accurate.
J-Gun’s role was to keep the Tank Force from focusing on Genius.
He would release his Live toward the Tank Force so they had to destroy it with their shells. If he saw an opening in their timing and destructive power, he intended to destroy the tanks.
And since she did not have to fear those powerful weapons, Genius worked to incapacitate all the others. The bullets of light launched from her sword could not be seen, much less dodged.
Ten minutes after the battle began, the treads to the General’s Grant had been damaged to the point that it could only move awkwardly in a circle.
The General opened the canopy of the unmoving Grant and poked his upper body out.
He grabbed the machinegun on top of the turret.
“This is insane… It’d be sad to call it what I expected, but it’d be more accurate to say it’s what I planned for.”
He looked around and found the entire wharf had become a battlefield.
And the winner had more or less already been decided.
In front of him, his two opponents stood in his way.
On his right, two light Scorpion tanks had been knocked on their sides and the injured were hiding behind them.
On his left, another Grant was stopped with the front of the tank torn open.
Behind him, the Yard members who could still fight waited to continue the battle.
They were all facing forward.
Drawn by their gazes, the General also faced forward.
About five meters ahead was the large central road surrounded by giant wharf warehouses.
J-Gun and Genius stood there.
One was the man known as Hong Kong’s greatest Buster and the other was a four-winged Nein Engel who could control light.
If not for the battle, the pairing would not have been all that strange.
The General gave a self-deprecating comment as he looked to them.
“So is it just hopeless for an old man to hope to beat you youngsters?”
His question crossed the five meter gap and Genius answered.
“It is currently 11:47. If you are admitting your defeat, then leave. You might just be able to survive.”
The General smiled bitterly.
“Don’t be stupid. If I ran on home without doing everythin’ I could, my wife’d laugh at me.”
“I take it your wife scares you.”
“No, not really. Do you not know who I am?”
Genius closed her eyes and smiled a little at that.
It could have been taken as a smile of bitterness, of self-deprecation, or of amusement.
“You’re a kind person. Are you telling me to accept the side of myself that hesitated to kill you?”
“Hah, you sure are self-centered. I have no intention of dyin’ just yet.”
“What are you talking about? Look, it’s already twelve till. We’ll be activating the dragon to devour the crust, so the complete destruction of the city will begin in less than five minutes.”
“I see. Then can I ask you one thing?”
“If you do activate the dragon, will it stay here on earth or will it ascend to heaven? Which would be the right answer?”
Genius did not answer his question, but she did reply to him.
“That question is meaningless. We will stop anyone who tries to get in our way like you are now.”
“I see, I see. …Sounds like this night’s gonna be bad for my health.”
“You sound confident. What are you plotting?”
“I’m not plottin’ anythin’. I’m just…how should I put it?”
“Puttin’ up a hopeless fight to buy some time.”
Genius frowned at that and J-Gun’s shoulders trembled a little.
Genius’s question did not reach J-Gun.
The man looked back over his shoulder.
There was nothing there, but he continued staring in that direction.
Genius turned back toward the General.
“…Is there something there!?”
“Yup.” The General smiled and nodded. “Our goal was only to land here.”
“It’s probably about time. None of the tanks are fully destroyed, no one’s died, and there’s not much fire for how many shells we were throwin’ around. …I guess you could say everythin’s ready now. Right!?”
His last question was directed at his comrades.
And at the same time, he laughed loudly.
Those in the other Grant and behind the toppled Scorpions laughed too.
Twenty-one voices laughed together.
They formed a chorus of laughter.
Genius could not hide her confusion.
“You mean…you didn’t come here to fight!?”
“There’s more than one way to fight. Havin’ a strategy’s what matters most.”
“Your boss is all alone right now, ain’t he? Since you were dealin’ with us here.”
“…You don’t mean!?”
“That ain’t all. We’ll show you some more tricks later. Like how to simultaneously activate the dragons of the four elements in this incomplete city!”
After the General’s shout, Genius grabbed J-Gun’s arm.
“J-Gun! We need to get back!”
He did not respond to her.
He simply stared behind them and his arm moved a little.
It was the right arm that held his Device.
He raised that sword Device high.
At that moment, the sound of steel rang out.
It came from the ground.
A change occurred before she could ask what was happening.
As J-Gun and Genius looked behind them, a twenty square meter area of the wharf’s concrete ground rose up.
With a great roar much like more and more ice breaking, the gray concrete ground stood up and started to fall over like the page of book turning.
After Genius’s scream, J-Gun launched his Live.
The scarlet Live contained a hostile Tempo.
It was a Live of destruction and it quickly tore through the risen concrete wall.
Another great roar rang out.
The large wall of concrete became a band of thousands of black and red Lives as it scattered.
Their view opened up and J-Gun and Genius saw a giant hole.
The hole was too deep to see the bottom and it was pitch black inside.
A man stood on the opposite end of that black hole.
It was Gunmal.
A large Device rested on his shoulder and he looked to J-Gun and Genius with a cigarette in his mouth.
“Oh, did I interrupt your date?”
“No, you idiot.”
Gunmal tilted his head at the shocked complaint and looked away from his brother and that brother’s lover.
His eyes found the General instead.
“You’re late, youngster.”
“If you’re doing well enough to complain, there’s nothing to worry about. I forced my way through from the catacombs in Kowloon, so I’m pretty exhausted.”
“I’ll buy you a sports drink later on, so take this seriously.”
“Take what seriously?”
“The fight between you and those two there.”
“Eh? What about you?”
Gunmal gave an exaggerated tilt of the head and the General frowned.
“Oh, what’s this? Are you losing, old man?”
“Do I need to run over there and show you what it means to lose?”
“I’m just kidding.”
Gunmal smiled bitterly and looked away.
He stared at Genius and J-Gun instead.
“Sorry. Akira’s gone to see her brother, so I’ll take you on instead.”
“Akira… You mean Double Lee’s sister?”
Gunmal nodded and Genius sighed.
“You really are stupid. Both you and that old man called…the General was it?”
“Double Lee’s sister will be killed.”
A faint harsh tone entered Gunmal’s voice and Genius shook her head.
“This is probably all going according to the future Double Lee chose. …You hadn’t noticed? The Tune Emblems used to complete our ceremonies have to be drawn with the blood of a high-level Nein Engel.”
She looked to the General.
“I will answer your previous question now.”
“I don’t know what would be ‘right’, but the Earth Serpent that ascends to heaven is what binds Hong Kong to heaven!”
Gunmal began to move when he heard that.
He raised his Device, Wild König, in his left hand.
With that shout, he launched his attack.
It had the Word Color of steel and was filled with his powerful Live.
Akira ran through the darkness.
The only light was the portable fluorescent one hanging from her shoulder.
She was running down a passageway in the catacombs under Kowloon Walled City. She had passed through a sealed barrier with Gunmal and had remained with him until quite recently.
As soon as the slope of the passageway had gotten steeper, he had come to a sudden stop.
“Someone up above wants to be my dance partner.”
“Your partner…is probably even deeper down here. I can feel a tremor in the air.”
“You…won’t go with me?”
“I’ll dance with you later. You’ve gotta save the best for last, after all.”
“I might not win.”
“Weren’t you the one that said you had to stop your brother and draw out the Tune Emblem?”
“It’s true that my brother…needs my blood for his ritual.”
“You could always run away before Hong Kong is returned to China.”
She had shaken her head at that.
“That won’t answer any of my questions.”
“Is losing, getting killed, and allowing Hong Kong to be destroyed one of the possible answers?”
“You’re the one that said to protect and to hate are two sides of the same coin.”
“…You’re a stubborn one.”
He had rubbed her hair and she had felt an indescribably pale, warm-colored Live from his hand.
So she had simply nodded and resumed running.
She was still running now.
Her watch said it was eleven till midnight.
She ran and felt like the darkness was pressing in on her, but she was not afraid.
She was confident Gunmal and the others were behind her and she held Wild Königin even if she could not use it.
She ran until she was out of breath.
The downward-sloping passageway seemed to sap the strength from her legs with each step.
Even so, she kept herself moving forward.
A sudden change occurred.
The weight of the darkness filling the passageway vanished.
The wind had changed.
Even if she could not sense a change in the color of the darkness, she could tell she had left the passageway and entered a large space.
She had reached Hong Kong Cave.
With that silent comment, she picked up her pace that had slowed a little.
The fluorescent light fell from her shoulder and rolled along the ground, but she still ran. Several changes reached her with each step.
She felt a slight breeze.
Her surroundings grew a little brighter.
She found herself in a residential area.
The concrete floor became stone pavement.
She smelled water.
She smelled moss.
A large space appeared before her eyes.
The stone monument and spring she had seen long ago were still there.
And she saw someone on the water’s surface.
It was a six-winged Nein Engel.
Double Lee stood on the water.
He was facing Akira as if awaiting her arrival.
His small frown was not much different from the look of a young man accusing his lover of being late.
Akira fell silent and Double Lee remained silent as well.
Akira stopped running and Double Lee remained entirely motionless in midair.
The only sound was Akira trying to catch her breath.
Soon, the blade of Double Lee’s short sword Device glowed with a dark inner light.
Her eyes drawn by the light, Akira’s gaze stopped on the Device.
The damply glowing blade reflected the darkness in its smooth surface.
The darkness flowed along the blade, slid down the tip, and gathered there.
Finally, the gathered darkness fell as a droplet.
It was a drop of darkness.
When it touched the water below his feet, it burst.
A quiet splashing sound reached Akira.
And with that sound, Double Lee moved his stopped body.
He raised the short sword and pointed the blade tip directly toward Akira’s eyes.
Akira reacted by using both hands to raise her Device that looked too large for her.
There was strength in her gaze but no raw hostility for her brother.
Their gazes met in the air between them.
Akira’s gaze was painfully powerful and Double Lee’s was cold and emotionless. Instead of repelling each other or clashing with each other, those gazes simply crossed paths.
Neither one looked away from the other.
Akira opened her mouth to say something.
But no words came out.
Double Lee simply gave a small nod.
He then gathered strength in the hand holding the short sword and inhaled some air.
A moment later, he made his move to settle everything.
Fei stood alone in the noisy night.
There was not a hint of light in the vicinity and he was entirely surrounded by the roaring of the wind.
His right arm was slowly regenerating. It had only been Tuned into shards of glass, so it would naturally return to normal given enough time.
The dust-like shards that had scattered on the ground and in the wind started floating over toward him and gathering around where his right arm should be. Their temporary transformation ended and they began retaking their original form, so they burst out into the shape of the arm.
The process should have produced the quiet murmuring of his Live, but it was drowned out by the surrounding wind.
It took a few breaths before the arm returned to normal.
He remained silent.
The eyes behind his mirrorshades watched his arm regenerate.
Even the Custom Body lining of the arm had returned and the damage from the knife had vanished.
He looked to his feet where a large knife sat on the exposed rock of the ground.
He slowly picked it up in his right hand.
He frowned a little while staring at the blade.
He slowly looked around, but no one else stood there but him.
There was, however, another figure lying at his feet.
It was Rin.
She lay face-up and simply looked like she was asleep.
Her sunglasses had fallen away somewhere, revealing her peacefully closed eyelids.
Her face had gone pale. The blood that should have colored it had flowed out through the slash running halfway through her well-formed neck.
She had not customized her entire body.
That was the difference between her and Fei and that was why she had died.
She was no longer moving in the slightest.
Fei dropped the knife next to her.
The blade dropped first and it stabbed into the exposed volcanic rock instead of bouncing off.
It almost looked like a gravestone.
He then removed his mirrorshades and sat down next to her.
His face was as expressionless as ever.
He asked her something, but there was no response and she did not move.
The dead did not move.
But that definition was suddenly overturned.
Rin’s body jumped up and turned toward Fei with abnormal speed.
Her bloody body forcefully embraced him.
For a brief moment, Fei saw two small mole-like holes on her neck, slightly above the wound from his fatal attack.
Fei knew what those holes were: the marks left from a vampire’s fangs.
That female detective’s subordinate had been an immortal young man.
She embraced him and her hand held the knife he had stabbed into the ground a moment earlier.
And she gave a shout.
“Word Accel! Oh, you Lives with an Octave of 12,000!”
Her shout was loud enough to overpower the blowing wind.
The thick knife was a Device and it faithfully amplified Rin’s Live.
It began as a quiet sound. It was a monosyllabic sound of motion. It had a warm orange Word Color and an accurate three-beat Tempo.
Rin stabbed her blade into Fei.
The Device plunged into the back of his neck to reach the device controlling his modified Brain Bios.
The blade tip tore into the device which had caused him to lose his memories and emotions.
At the same time, he wrapped his right arm around Rin and stood up.
His right hand was stabbed into her back.
The Hard Nails of that hand were entering her body through her back.
To defeat a vampire, one had to tear out their heart.
Fei was doing that now.
Rin’s mouth opened wide and she shouted something.
The roaring wind swallowed it up, so who could say if it had been her Live or a scream.
But a moment later, something else escaped her mouth: blood.
She coughed up a fist-sized clump of blood which stained Fei’s shoulder.
Strength immediately left her and her entire body trembled a little in his arm.
The Device fell from her hand.
Her upper body fell limply toward Fei and there was no strength in her eyes.
Fei’s right hand was buried in her back up to the wrist.
His hand was trembling slightly.
One or the other of them muttered something and Fei pulled out his hand.
Rin collapsed to the ground.
Even as her body doubled over, she could still move.
She held a hand to the hole in her back and looked up in front of her.
Fei stood there.
He was looking up into the sky while holding the inner corners of his eyes with the hand he had used to skewer her.
He lowered his hand as a look of resignation and confusion filled Rin’s face.
He went limp and stopped moving while still staring up into the sky.
Rin briefly saw tears on his face.
But that was an illusion.
The blood on his hand had simply dripped down his cheeks.
Regardless, he had stopped moving.
He silently stared up into the sky, so she lowered her head in his place.
She spoke some words that were drowned out by the wind.
Her lips moved again and again to repeat the same words.
There was no light in the vicinity.
The only sound was the blowing of the wind.
The only two people there had stopped moving.
Genius realized Gunmal’s fighting style was different from before.
He was releasing his own Live to Bust.
And instead of using the Over Up that J-Gun used, he used a more unique method. It was the same method he had shown her at the very end of their last fight.
It was a pure shout.
He would raise his voice in a way much like his Live and use that to Bust.
The attacks were heavy and sharp and they had the same destructive power as J-Gun’s full power strikes.
…I can see why J-Gun praised him.
She smiled bitterly when she remembered that.
“Who am I even jealous of?”
She released her light.
A spear of light flew in a straight line, but Gunmal’s Wild König struck it head-on and it burst.
Gunmal could not possibly move faster than light, so the light had to be moving just as he expected it to.
The Lives of the space around him were working for him.
That was made possible by his shouts and he could freely control those Lives so long as the reverberation of those shouts lingered around him. This was not like the Over Up, which was a contract that immediately came to an end.
Seeing him reminded Genius what Double Lee had said before.
…Do you know the difference between normal people and those known as talented or prodigies?
She now knew the answer.
…There is no difference.
The talented and prodigies needed some kind of method or standard. In Tuning and Busting, that would be the Over Up or Wind Up.
But Gunmal was not bound by such things. He did not use an established Up and produced great power fighting only by the definitions of Busting.
J-Gun, on the other hand, used the Over Up to produce his power.
They both used the best method for themselves.
Currently, their fight shook the wharf.
The battle had moved to the edge of the wharf and into the tourist beach that was perfect for walking.
Genius watched as J-Gun launched a horizontal slash.
He sent out his Live which had a crimson Word Color and sounded like a low rumble.
It flew toward Gunmal as a giant scythe of light.
Meanwhile, Gunmal received the Live attack head-on.
He instantly swung Wild König down from above.
The steel-colored pressure struck the ground while also splitting the scythe.
The broken scythe burst and sliced through the thick streetlights of the tourist road behind him.
The sound of slicing metal was followed by the streetlights hitting the ground and breaking.
After one, two, three, four such sounds, Gunmal made his move.
“You’re not the ones I really want to dance with!”
His shout immediately became his Live.
His eyes were directed toward J-Gun in front of him and Genius further back.
He had just swung down Wild König, so he used his entire body to swing it back up and let out a monosyllabic roar.
The emitted Live had a heavy metal Word Color and a Tempo that rumbled in the earth.
This was not a slash or strike like before.
It was a powerful blast.
A pillar of light two hundred meters long and fifty meters wide shot out toward Genius and J-Gun.
Genius had no way to protect herself, but J-Gun took action.
He stood in front of her, prepared his Device at his waist, and shouted a different Live from before.
A moment later, an intense blast of light raced from J-Gun’s Device.
The white blast was made from pure solidified light.
It was the same as the light Genius fired.
…He’s using my Live!?
The Live of anyone who used Tuning or Busting was affected by the Live of anyone they had a relationship with.
She had seen something similar when fighting Akira and Gunmal before.
But unlike then, the Live that J-Gun was firing now was strongly mixed with his own Live.
He used the double attack power of light and destruction to intercept Gunmal’s Live.
The pure white light collided with the steel-colored light.
The produced sound was powerful, high, and clear. It sounded both like a metallic sound and like an electronic sound.
Afterwards, their Lives burst and scattered through the air.
The dense mist of light spread out before Genius’s eyes and briefly robbed her of her vision.
She closed her eyes for just a moment.
When she reopened them, the enemy stood in the blind spot right next to J-Gun.
In the light, Gunmal held his Device at the ready.
…When did he get there!?
Her surprise produced a reflexive shout.
J-Gun faithfully responded to her voice.
Without turning her way, he made an accurate strike with his Device.
An even deeper crimson Live gouged into the gap in the light.
His attack scored a direct hit and the color red scattered.
Gunmal wobbled with his Device at the ready.
And his body burst.
He was not cut or broken. His entire body fell apart as if a thread had unraveled.
The scattering Lives were the blue, refreshing Lives of the gently blowing wind. These were not the Lives of a person.
Genius’s eyes widened and she heard a voice from the opposite direction.
“Sorry! I kind of plagiarized that method!”
Before she realized it was Gunmal’s voice, she noticed something different about J-Gun.
A giant blade was stabbed into his back.
Gunmal’s Device grew from J-Gun’s back at an odd angle.
Without speaking a word, J-Gun’s knees gave out and his body bent forward a little.
Gunmal came into view beyond him.
“I don’t believe it…”
Genius took a step back and Gunmal responded without smiling.
“Just like my brother could use your power, I can use a little of Akira’s power.”
Genius was dumbfounded, but Gunmal frowned.
He looked to J-Gun who had been skewered by Wild König.
As Gunmal spoke that word, J-Gun moved.
His head was still lowered, but his legs trembled as he tried to stand up.
Gunmal frowned a little.
“Stop it, J-Gun.”
He could not stop his brother from moving.
J-Gun took a deep breath that was meaningless for a dead body and raised his Device once more.
“Please stop this already, J-Gun!” shouted Gunmal.
But J-Gun gently spread his arms and legs with Wild König still stabbed into him. His stance almost seemed meant to hide Genius from Gunmal.
The Device in his right hand was gently lifted overhead.
Gunmal’s expression crumbled and he opened his mouth to give a shout.
But in that instant, someone stopped the brothers.
It was Genius.
She embraced J-Gun from behind and that was enough to stop him.
The stillness brought silence and they all simply stood there for a moment.
It was a blank moment.
J-Gun was the first to move afterwards.
He slowly stepped back with Genius still leaning against his back.
He took one, two, and three steps before Wild König fell from his slender body.
As if that had been a trigger, he slowly collapsed backwards.
Genius crouched down to support him.
She rested his upturned head on her shoulder.
She gave a silent cry and he turned his head to look at her.
And he spoke one quiet word.
That truly was his final moment.
Immediately afterwards, his Live broke down, leaving only his clothes behind.
Genius sat on the ground embracing the remaining clothes.
J-Gun’s Device made a dry clank as it hit the concrete ground.
“What just happened?” she asked. “Why would he apologize to me!?”
To bring back the dead via necromancy, one needed a condition based on something the dead regretted during life.
Genius realized what condition Double Lee had presented to J-Gun’s soul.
“You don’t mean…!?”
Double Lee looked to Akira.
He stared at her.
He turned his powerful gaze her way and nodded.
Then he gave a slight smile.
Two simple words escaped his opened lips.
A moment later, he took action.
The tip of his raised Device drew an upwards-facing arc to point downwards.
As darkness flowed down the blade, it stabbed into Double Lee’s own body.
Akira heard it plunge into his flesh.
She gave a voice of surprise more than a scream.
At the same time, her brother’s body collapsed backwards.
His six-wings bent deeply as if to support his collapsing body.
Needless to say, that was not enough to stop him.
His body fell toward the water.
Blood seeped out from where the short sword had stabbed him.
He spoke quietly with his eyes closed and his hands around the hilt.
“Word Accel. Oh, you Lives with an Octave of 120,000,000.”
Just as he finished his Over Up, he landed in the water.
The soft sound of the splash almost sounded like flapping wings.
Akira ran over to the spring and reached out a hand toward him as he started sinking. Her well-formed hand plunged into the water to touch her brother’s wings, but she could not quite reach.
He sank further down with his wings pointed down.
His blood flowed out into the water, but it did not dissolve. Instead, it formed a pattern on the spring’s wide surface.
It created a Tune Emblem.
As it was drawn, his body slowly came apart. He was making his own body a part of the Earth Serpent.
As soon as she shouted to him, his blood completed the Tune Emblem on the spring’s surface.
The ground shook vertically just once.
Akira nearly lost her balance, but she used Wild Königin to support herself. Then, she looked to the Tune Emblem drawn on the water.
It was large enough to fill the entire spring and a single blade was sticking down from the center.
It was Double Lee’s Device.
That Device was made by Hong Kong’s greatest Buster and it had floated up to act as the Baton.
That meant two things.
First, the Tune Emblem had been activated.
Second, her brother’s body had been Tuned and had sunk to the depths of the earth.
She wordlessly gasped for breath.
She was sweating.
She spoke to herself and wiped the sweat from her brow.
A moment later, an intense pulse-like shaking rose from underground.
The Earth Serpent was waking.
She checked her watch to find it was 11:53.
With seven minutes left, Hong Kong would be utterly destroyed.
Hong Kong shook.
Unlike during the Sixth Divine Punishment War, this shaking could not be mistaken for an earthquake. It was a vertical shaking that felt like something was directly striking the underside of the ground.
Gunmal and Genius had both run back to the wharf. There, Gunmal stabbed Wild König into the wharf’s shaking ground.
The General and his men only questioned his action for a moment.
They soon realized just what was going on.
The shaking vanished from that corner of the wharf and the General gave a light whistle.
“Did you change the crust here to your likin’ before the Earth Serpent could get to it?”
“It’s only for the area within twenty meters of me, but I completely remade it. This area should be a safe zone.”
The General nodded as a great roar surrounded them.
At the same time, the ground outside the twenty meter range Gunmal had mentioned began peeling up and flying toward the sky.
“Here it comes!” someone shouted.
They all turned toward Hong Kong Cave.
Beyond the curtain of stones falling upwards, they saw something unbelievable.
The one kilometer entrance to Hong Kong Cave had opened up on Hong Kong Island’s mountain peak.
A massive pure-white dragon’s head was sticking out from the hole.
It was enormous.
Using the hole as a reference, its neck had to be easily more than three hundred meters across.
“That’s ten times the size of the previous dragon!”
That estimation was no exaggeration.
The dragon was so large it did not seem real.
It was pure white and glowing because it was filled with the power of Yang.
The Earth Serpent raised its head like a snake and tried to leave the hole.
Everyone at the wharf subconsciously put up their defenses, but the dragon paid them no heed.
The rumbling of breaking stone sounded as it extended skywards and its front legs finally left the hole.
Based on the diameter of its neck, the distance from the shoulders of its front legs to its face was approximately 1.5 kilometers.
Its head scattered the small dark clouds floating below the rain clouds.
In all, it was over ten kilometers long.
Its pure-white serpentine body illuminated the typhoon’s dark clouds like a glowing tube rotating in the night sky.
The dragon opened its great maw toward the heavens hidden by the clouds.
After a brief delay, a roar rang out.
It was more a physical blow than a sound.
The massive wall of air shook its body, raced through the air as a wave, and slammed into those standing on the ground.
Affected by that impact, the stones taken up from the ground all turned to Lives.
The Earth Serpent raised its head, dragged its body further along, and fell down toward Hong Kong as if to receive those Lives.
Its fall took it toward the Wan Chai district left of Gunmal and the others in Central.
They heard the wind.
The great dragon was pushing out the surrounding air as it fell.
The General’s voice shouted over that wind.
“Hey! Is that…Akira!?”
Gunmal looked up on reflex and did indeed see it.
A certain color floated at one point high in the sky near the falling dragon’s head.
A slight golden-white flower stood out against the pure white of the dragon.
It was Akira’s wings.
She was wobbling and falling after being knocked away by the dragon’s movement.
“…!? What are you doing, Akira!?”
Gunmal gave a yell as he pulled Wild König from the ground.
Akira did not know what had happened to her.
As soon as she had stabbed Wild Königin into the ground to bear with the shaking, she and the stone-pavement had been carried into the sky.
While hanging down from Wild Königin’s hilt, she had been carried to the edge of a pure-white glowing cliff, but then she heard a great roar.
Just as she thought her inner ears had been destroyed, she and Wild Königin were thrown out into the empty air at 1.5 kilometers above the ground.
That was when she had realized what had looked like a pure-white wall had been part of the Earth Serpent.
But that was all.
She could see the typhoon’s storm clouds in the night sky.
She could move her body, but the previous noise had left her without a sense of direction or even a sense of up and down.
She could not read the wind and the position and direction of her center of gravity felt vague, like the core of her body was asleep.
She fell backwards.
“A Nein Engel isn’t supposed to die from a fall.”
A voice seemed to answer that comment.
It was Gunmal’s voice.
She expressed her confusion and the voice continued.
…Why are you falling!? Aren’t you supposed to do something about that Earth Serpent!?
His voice came from Wild Königin in her right hand.
Wild König and Wild Königin were resonating and he was using that to send his Live to her.
…C’mon, you activate your own dragons! We need to start with the Earth Burns of wood, earth, and water!
Gunmal’s Live answered.
…Remember the Tuning you wanted to use! You’ve done enough of the basics now, haven’t you!? Let Hong Kong ring in your own way! Or have you still not realized how much I’ve been pushing you around!?
“Y-you idiot! Why would you say something like that now!?”
…Shut up. I’ll prepare the elements of wood, earth, and water. Fire can come later! I’m busy, so I need to hang up.
“Hang up…? Hey! This isn’t a cellphone!”
There was no response.
Akira gave a voiceless shout and glanced behind her.
She was only five hundred meters from the ground.
…At this rate, I really will die.
That was when she noticed something odd on the ground.
She saw intense destruction.
The city shook in every direction around Central.
She could not see Lives at the moment, but she could see that.
The Bust strikes continued for more than two kilometers with a width of at least five hundred meters.
There were a total of ten and they all occurred in an instant.
The steel-colored barrage created a great roar and something like a pale mist covered Hong Kong Island and the edge of the Kowloon Peninsula.
…So that’s what Busting looks like when you can’t see Lives.
But those attacks did not bring absolute destruction. They simply disturbed the Lives.
If they were not Tuned soon, they would return to normal.
“Honestly, you’re rushing me too much!”
As soon as she shouted down at him, she heard a roar from the Earth Serpent.
Her eyes widened as the Earth Serpent looked down at her with the heavens behind it.
Its giant face was growing even larger.
…It’s charging toward me!?
Once she saw its fangs, she remembered when the red dragon had chased her.
She remembered the damage and injury to her wings, the brief meeting with the boy, and the people’s screams covering the city.
In an instantaneous chain reaction, it all resurrected in her memories.
…I can’t let that happen again!
She raised Wild Königin and sharpened her mind.
She linked all of her body’s senses directly to her heart.
The floating feeling of falling, the sound of the splitting air, and the sensation of Wild Königin in her hands all flashed through her mind and overcame her fear of the Earth Serpent.
She Tuned the Live of fear and opened her eyes.
A sudden change reached her.
She could now see and hear the Lives of the wind.
She reflexively spread her wings wide and flapped them.
Her wings and feathers groaned under the strain of her rapid fall, but that only lasted an instant.
Instead of falling, she flew forward as if she had been kicked.
She took a course out from under the descending Earth Serpent and recalled what she needed to do.
Gunmal had told her what that was.
…How did I want to Tune long ago?
She had not wanted to use the Wind Up that she had used ever since her mother had taught it to her.
She soon found the answer.
She had told Gunmal about it in the graveyard before the dragons had flown.
“This is how I used to want to Tune, isn’t it?”
She breathed in.
After a moment of silence, she opened her mouth and produced a song.
It was the Flight Song.
She placed her Live on that song and sang.
It was not a forced method like the Over Up and it was not a summoning like the Wind Up. She simply sang the Flight Song so the surrounding Lives could hear.
Then, she swung Wild Königin.
She sent out the Messages for three Earth Burns.
She had closed her eyes, so she did not know if Wild Königin’s blade had sent out her Live.
She did not know what had happened, but her feet landed on the concrete ground of the wharf.
She opened her eyes and flapped her wings.
Her forward-moving force had negated the downward force of her fall.
She ran, she raced, and she accelerated.
She extended her wings at a sharp angle to catch the wind.
She saw some blue Lives.
They were the Lives of the wind.
She adjusted the angle of her wings to catch the front of that current.
Wings produced more lift the more powerfully they resisted the wind.
She kicked off the ground and floated up.
Her final two footsteps sounded much louder.
Finally, she flew up into the night sky.
Akira looked around after flying into the night sky.
The Lives that Gunmal had disturbed had already vanished.
Wild Königin was not emitting any kind of Live in her hand.
…Did it not work?
As she muttered those words in her heart, she heard the dragon’s roar from behind.
It was approaching from where she had been thrown out into the sky.
It was chasing after her.
As if to confirm her worries, the dragon roared again.
It was even closer now.
She needed to run away.
To check how far away it was, she flapped her wings and looked over her shoulder, but she saw something strange there.
It was a dragon, but it was not the Earth Serpent.
It was a green Earth Burn that was much skinnier and smaller than the Earth Serpent.
The wood element Earth Serpent was following her.
She was so confused she forgot to flap her wings and she fell below the wood element Earth Burn.
Her eyes were fixed on the Earth Burn behind her, so she ended up looking overhead by the time the green dragon flew by there.
That brought another dragon into view.
A blue dragon was flying through the heavens.
But that was not all.
As she fell, something appeared below her and supported her.
“It can’t be…”
She hesitantly looked down and found a great expanse of brown stone pavement.
Needless to say, it was not actually stone pavement.
She was seeing a dragon’s scales.
She was on the earth element Earth Burn’s back.
She gasped and turned in a different direction.
She looked to the Wan Chai district of eastern Hong Kong Island.
A pure-white Earth Serpent waited there.
It raised its head and stared down at the three dragons that were not even a tenth its size.
The battle had reached a new stage.
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