City Series:Volume4b Chapter 10
Chapter 10: Reconciliation Riot (Changing to a Round System)
Taeko faced a boy below the cherry trees alongside the inner moat.
He wore a three-piece suit with a white scarf dangling from his shoulders.
He was Ikemaru Takahiro.
He removed the black gloves on his hands.
“I saw a strange advertisement and came to take a peek at a Chancellor’s Officers party, but this commotion is what I find?”
“Yeah… Apparently, the superiority of the east and west is on the line.”
“I am not interested.” He threw the gloves away. “There are a few things I would like to discuss with Aoi-san, so could you let me through?”
“That ain’t happenin’. She’s fightin’ right now.”
Taeko smiled a little.
Takahiro did not bat an eye.
“I am not interested in a fight.”
“But if ya go over there, you’ll help that girl out, won’t ya?”
“Of course. That is my duty.”
“Then it’s my duty to stop ya here.”
“Even when we have nothing against each other?”
“Do ya need somethin’ against someone to fight them? I don’t.” She laughed quietly. “There are those I’ve gotta save, though. There’s a lotta those around me.”
With that, she lightly swung the Dragon Emperor’s fist.
The Dragon Emperor roared.
With that bestial cry, the shoulder armor panels opened to release steam.
And lightning surrounded the metal fist.
A deep thrum reverberated pleasantly across the wide space lined with cherry trees.
“You must have nerves of steel,” responded Takahiro.
“What makes ya say that?”
“That you actually want to fight me.” He lightly brushed up his hair. “My kotodama is most effective against objects without a will of their own. I am the greatest enemy of anyone with prosthetics.”
“And that’s why I can’t afford to run away.”
“This isn’t your usual method. Don’t you tend to join the stronger side?”
Taeko raised her fist and smiled a little before answering.
“I feel like doin’ some volunteer work.”
With that, she moved.
Taeko won the initiative.
She race toward Takahiro who seemed to simply stand there.
–Taeko – Savate Tech – Take – Sprint – Hit.
Her long-legged stride kicked up the dirt as she filled the gap between them in only a few steps.
She approached the enemy.
Takahiro’s hand moved just before she arrived.
His white left hand reached out and touched one of the cherry trees.
That one word surpassed all logic.
The tree flew.
This was nothing as simple as being knocked from the ground.
The thick tree with no leaves or flowers flew, roots and all.
The dirt was audibly torn up and the tree whistled through the wind.
It flew horizontally in from the right with even more force than gravitational acceleration.
It did not tilt at all and flew almost comically straight.
She could not avoid it.
Taeko’s Dragon Emperor was attached to her left shoulder, so it could not block an attack from the right.
She made a split second decision.
–Taeko – Boxing/Dodge Tech – Counter-Multi-Take – Intercept – Hit.
She slammed her right fist into the flying tree near the roots.
A dull sound mixed with the sound of breaking bone.
Her fist was smashed in a single blow.
Of course it was. The difference in mass was overwhelming.
But the impact ran through the tree.
And the hit near the roots caused it to rotate in midair as if pitching forward.
Taeko did not overlook that movement.
She briefly glanced at the tree falling toward her head.
–Taeko – Steel/Savate Tech – Multi-Take – Grab – Hit.
- –Taeko – Steel/Spear Tech – Multi-Take – Swing – Hit!
She held the Dragon Emperor’s palm overhead, grabbed the tree trunk, and then swung it like a club.
She easily swung the 7 meter cherry tree like it was a bat.
But Takahiro had already jumped backwards.
Taeko let go of the swinging tree.
The centrifugal force sent it flying into the inner moat.
The sound of splashing water rang coldly through the winter air.
She began running again.
She ran so fast her footsteps seemed to follow after her.
Her white breaths were scattered by her speed and they vanished into the reddish-brown light of the streetlights.
She ran below the cherry trees which had no leaves or flowers.
Meanwhile, Ikemaru kept his distance from her while pulling a few 10 yen coins from his suit pocket.
He lightly threw them.
They instantly transformed.
The white light of the coins’ paths flew toward Taeko in several curves.
They were targeting a point on the back of her neck.
It was the same motion as a beast rushing in to bite her.
She responded by thrusting the Dragon Emperor forward.
–Taeko – Shot Tech – Take – Prepare Sniping – Hit!
- –Taeko – Steel/Shot/Lightning High Tech – Multi-Take – Snipe – Hit!
The light produced an explosive roar.
The sound produced glowing flares.
The tiger’s white lines struck the dragon’s bluish-white beams.
The explosion formed a wall between Taeko and Takahiro and below the trees.
–Taeko – Sight Tech – Take – Locate Enemy – Hit!
In the span of time known as an instant, Takahiro stepped back slightly.
Taeko did not overlook it.
But the explosion was in the way.
“I won’t die!!”
She chose to charge right through it.
The explosion had yet to fully expand, but she charged into the bright light.
And she sang.
Nobody takes the middle road
Nothing lives or dies
It all either falls into ruin or survives
Everyone, everyone, everyone
The azure light surrounding her body was the same as the Dragon Emperor’s Lightning High light.
It could cancel out the explosion.
So she did not hesitate to run through the clash between dragon and tiger.
They all burst out and something shot through her right leg.
–Taeko – Mind Tech – Take – Ignore Pain – Hit!
Pain could be ignored, so she ran forward.
As her ponytail danced behind her, the end was scorched by the heat.
A mere 3 steps seemed to last forever.
But she immediately broke out the other side.
She suddenly left the pure white space and found a more colorful scene.
She saw the cherry trees.
And she saw her enemy.
Ikemaru Takahiro stood before her while preparing to take a step back.
She did not let him escape.
What she did was simple.
–Taeko – Steel/Boxing Tech – Multi-Take – Dragon Emperor Strike – Hit!
Takahiro could not use Techs or a special Dance Combat style, so he had no way of avoiding it.
The metal fist flew in an overhand swing and its entire mass slammed into Takahiro’s chest.
It was a solid hit.
She heard the pleasant sounds of impact and breaking bones.
She fully extended the Dragon Emperor arm to push out with the maximum mass.
She heard even more breaking bones in Takahiro’s chest.
The sound escaping his mouth might have been an inhalation or an exhalation.
His glasses fell from his face.
The black-framed glasses audibly bounced off of the Dragon Emperor fist’s armor panel.
And just as they fell to the ground, his head hung down.
Taeko took a breath with the Dragon Emperor fist still extended.
As the white breath left her, all strength left Takahiro’s body.
The tall boy in a suit silently fell to his knees and collapsed forward.
Except his hand was extended as if to embrace the Dragon Emperor.
His words rang quietly.
Taeko pulled back in surprise.
But it was too late.
The change was instantaneous and the effects were everlasting.
Her left arm suddenly moved.
“…!? Dragon Emperor!?”
–Taeko – Steel Tech – Take – Control Dragon Emperor – Miss!
Her voice of doubt did not get through.
The steel fist thrust up toward the heavens and roared.
It was a high, high pitched sound much like a pheasant cry.
It was a beautiful voice.
It was the voice of a dragon seeking heaven.
And it summoned lightning.
The Dragon Emperor faced heaven and emitted a lightning attack.
The sound of exploding electricity shook the air.
It was thunder.
The metal arm waved wildly back and forth like a snake and scorched the surrounding air with its lightening.
The Dragon Emperor was deaf to Taeko’s shout.
It roared. It roared fiercely and showed off its power.
–Dragon Emperor – Steel Tech – Auto-Take – 7th Activation – Hit!
It ascended a stage from the 6th Activation.
–Taeko – Steel Tech – Take – Control Dragon Emperor – Miss!
If the Dragon Emperor let loose, it could easily blow away an entire city.
And it was trying to do just that now.
“…Dragon Emperor! Stoooop!”
Taeko yelled within the dancing light and noise.
–Taeko – Steel Tech – Take – Control Dragon Emperor – Miss!
It would not stop.
–Taeko – Sight Tech – Auto-Take – Spot – Hit!
Taeko saw something in the center of the destruction.
Ikemaru Takahiro slowly stood up after falling to his knees from the previous hit.
Meanwhile, Taeko had lost control of her weapon.
He smiled a little while holding his side.
A slight trail of blood fell from the corner of his mouth, but he ignored it.
His right hand slowly removed the scarf from his shoulders.
The rustling of the scarf sounded oddly loud within the deafening noise and light.
And he gently wrapped it around his right hand as he raised his voice.
“Hear me, oh dragon!”
A great roar rumbled in from the distance.
But two people were creating noises even louder than that continuous background music.
It was Osaka Chancellor Nanba Souichirou and Tokyo Vice Chancellor Aoi Hijiri.
They used similar yet different techniques as they alternated between attack and defense.
Souichirou primarily attacked with Kusanagi and his defense was based on dodging.
Hijiri also primarily attacked with Kusanagi, but her defense was based on the Shinkage Style.
They exchanged sword strikes again and again in the shimmering moonlight.
Souichirou’s Kusanagi sword pressure attack was deflected by Hijiri.
There was a solid sound.
Hijiri’s body was blown a bit away, but she took little damage.
The deflected Kusanagi strike smashed the central circle’s ground and tore into the wall.
When another Kusanagi strike came his way, Souichirou canceled it out with his own Kusanagi.
“This will never end,” he muttered while looking to Hijiri. “I suppose only a direct hit will do.”
They were about 15 meters apart.
They faced each other while ready to attack.
The mechanical sounds of Souichirou’s mobile shell sounded loudly as he raised the Device given to him by Senga.
Hijiri held her hexagonal rod low.
They were ready to attack.
They both breathed out at the same moment.
But Hijiri’s white breath came with words.
“I’ve waited a long time for this battle.”
“I would imagine so, heir to the branch family.” Souichirou nodded. “Is this the showdown between separate evolutions of the same Dance Combat style?”
“I’d say it’s a way to find an answer.”
“An answer to what?”
“Well.” Hijiri smiled a little. “To whether or not I should have been born.”
“I’m betting you aren’t aware who my mother was to that man. Or who I was.” She sighed. “I’m settling everything here in this city. I’ll prove my mother and I weren’t useless by defeating you and finding the cherry blossoms… That’s the ending I’m after!”
Souichirou said nothing.
But he did adjust the position of his Device.
And the two of them took another deep breath.
Then a second and a third.
Below the shimmering sky, their breathing synchronized.
They were using nearly identical Dance Combat styles and the same Rhythm.
Their breathing continued.
More rumbling arrived from the distance.
The smell of scorched air was mixed into the faint north wind.
Someone was fighting an intense battle somewhere.
But Souichirou and Hijiri remained motionless.
And their breathing continued as if to prove their stillness.
They continued in silence.
The blowing wind was the only movement.
It was a warm wind.
It was not a winter wind.
It was created by the fighting here at Osaka Castle.
And it was the heated wind that Osaka emitted into the chilly night.
It rose toward heaven.
Souichirou suddenly looked up.
There were dark clouds there.
But these were not the small clouds seen there before.
Clouds dark enough to begin raining at any time covered most of Osaka’s sky and ruled over the night.
They were dark and heavy clouds.
And they were about to swallow up the moon rather than the sky.
The shimmering moon was being swallowed by darkness.
The moonlight was slowly and silently lost.
The moon’s dark blue light fell into the darkness.
Before they could take another breath, the light was fully defeated by the darkness.
Similarly, the two facing each other below the darkness stopped breathing at the same moment.
They gathered their fighting spirit.
The first to move was Hijiri.
–Hijiri – Kusanagi/Sword Tech – Multi-Take – Kusanagi Strike – Hit!
“Ah,” said a feminine voice.
Pushed forward by that voice, a shimmering flew out as a prelude.
And that wavering heat was pursued by Kusanagi and its destructive noise.
But that was not all.
Hijiri too pursued it.
She ran out after Kusanagi.
Following the shockwave, she let the split air reform around her while she kicked off the gravel ground.
She ran with her hexagonal rod held down low again.
She intended to make an attack on the spot Souichirou dodged to.
But Souichirou did not dodge.
He lowered his hips and moved all at once.
–Souichirou – Kusanagi/Steel/Sword/Dodge Tech – Counter-Multi-Take – Kusanagi Interception – Hit!
“Ah,” said a masculine voice.
A shimmering raced out and collided with the approaching power.
With a solid sound, the air burst.
Instead of dodging the Kusanagi attack to the left or right, he crushed it with an attack of his own.
–Souichirou – Steel/Gym Tech – Multi-Take – Control Position – Hit.
He had built up too much power and started to pitch forward, so he supported himself with his lowered center of gravity.
The two Kusanagi attacks ruptured.
A vacuum exploded and created a scratch on Souichirou’s face.
Cracks ran through the chest of his mobile shell.
But that was all.
His opponent was right in front of him, so he did not hesitate to move.
A direct hit from Kusanagi was his only way to win.
He did not attack from above.
Nor from below.
Not even from the left or right.
He attacked from straight ahead.
It was a jab.
This attack would end the battle.
He jumped straight toward Hijiri as she charged in with her weapon held low.
He stomped his foot forcefully onto the ground.
–Souichirou – Steel/Kusanagi/Savate/Gym/Sword Tech – Multi-Take – Kusanagi Jab – Hit!
He made the jab with the Device containing Kusanagi’s power.
He shouted the single syllable with incredible power.
He aimed for the center of Hijiri’s chest, leaving her with nowhere to dodge.
Even if she deflected it by hand, the blade would stab into her chest or shoulder.
“That’s not gonna work!” yelled Hijiri.
There was no surprise on her face.
She used her fingers to toss up the hexagonal rod in her right hand.
And she clapped her hands toward the approaching blade.
It happened in an instant.
The two palms wielding the power of the Shinkage Style clasped Souichirou’s Device from either side.
She used the Shirahadori.
The technique was known as the Mutodori in the Kage Style.
It was very typical of the Shinkage Style that focused on defense.
While crushed between the two palms, Kusanagi roared and created a vacuum around itself.
Hijiri’s hands and clothing tore and blood flowed out.
But she received no serious wounds.
Souichirou’s blade stopped about 2 cm into her chest, but not even that would be a decisive blow.
“…Mh,” groaned Souichirou as he pulled the Device back and jumped backwards.
Hijiri moved forward to pursue.
Her right hand already held the hexagonal rod she had tossed into the air before.
The boy retreated and the girl moved forward.
She attacked right away.
“Ah,” she said while making an attack from below.
Souichirou raised his Device.
It was too late.
–Souichirou – Steel/Kusanagi/Sword/Dodge Tech – Counter-Multi-Take – Intercept – Miss!
A shimmering raced forward.
Hijiri’s Kusanagi struck Souichirou and his Device.
With a roar, the boy said to be Osaka’s strongest was blown away.
Nakamura moved in the wind of that elevated location.
He had flames in his hands and fire in his kicking feet.
His movements were calm and gentle, but their power could only be described as ferocious.
Those flames consumed even the air as they continued to burn.
He could see his opponent.
The Killing Holder in the red blazer stood below the black sky.
He wordlessly ran toward her.
His running feet pounded on the waves of roof tiles. The flames surrounding his hands burned through the surrounding air and produced wind.
He was about 5 meters from Yuuki.
She wordlessly raised her staff.
Light raced from the end of the staff.
Nakamura felt pressure overhead and looked up.
There was a mass of ice there.
The mass was around 5 meters across, so being crushed by it would be fatal.
But even if he was surprised, he did not panic.
Still standing, he swung up his right leg.
Without leaning over, he brought his knee up and extended his foot overhead.
His toes flew with the sharpness of a blade and fire resided in them.
His toes stabbed into the falling ice.
A clear sound immediately followed.
And the ice instantly turned to ashes.
This was the power of the Flame High.
But its power was far greater than before.
The fire did not spread; it immediately turned the target to ashes.
The ether forming the ice turned to ashes and scattered in the wind.
Nothing at all remained.
This was powerful.
Nakamura used that power and gently spun his body while lowering his leg.
A spinning backhand blow turned three water spears to ashes as they flew toward him.
“It’s no use.”
He turned toward Yuuki who held her staff.
And with those words, he smiled thinly and moved further forward.
Yuuki moved back.
Yuuki jumped back.
“You aren’t getting away!”
As soon as he shouted that, there were two Yuukis in front of him.
He was surprised.
But even so, he launched two kicks.
One to the right and one to the left.
The rapid kicks were wrapped in fire, split the air, and turned the two Yuukis to ashes.
But they both felt the same.
They were not people.
As soon as the kicks touched them, they crumbled as easily as mud.
The ashes scattered.
Two Yuuki-shaped clumps of ashes danced in the wind.
And then he turned behind him.
He saw someone who should not have been there: Takada.
The girl stood there with a small smile on her face.
Nakamura realized it was a fake just like the two Yuukis.
His face twisted when he saw her.
His eyebrows rose and he tightly clenched his teeth.
Sweat poured from him in an instant.
His teeth creaked.
His voice escaped his mouth…no, the depths of his throat.
The yell was accompanied by a kick.
With a scorching sound, Takada instantly produced a spray of water, fell apart, and turned to ashes.
The white ashes flew into Osaka’s night air.
But Nakamura would not allow that.
He kicked again at the ashes in the wind.
He burned even the ashes to fully eliminate them.
“Don’t you screw with me!” he shouted.
He looked up.
Yuuki stood at the very top of the roof.
Nakamura pointed and roared at her.
“Don’t you dare!!”
Yuuki tilted her head a little.
“Why…did you kick that Water Mirror?”
“Because it was a fake! Why else would I!?”
Yuuki fell silent and looked down for a moment.
A Dog God stood about a meter away.
She looked at the Dog God and spoke quietly.
“You aren’t like Shoui-kun.”
Was she referring to Hizaka Shoui?
Nakamura knew that name.
He knew everything about the relationship between Takada and the boy named Hizaka Shoui.
And so he snapped.
He raised a wordless cry.
His flames burned brighter.
And he ran as if pushed on by that heat.
Yuuki responded by moving incredibly calmly. She made an attack.
An icicle suddenly appeared from below in front of Nakamura.
The sharpened tip made it a transparent spear.
But it was no match for his flames.
He used his hips to make a forward kick that shattered the ice and turned it into ashes.
Shattering and scorching sounds joined together.
Nakamura looked up.
Yuuki was there.
She was on the peak of the roof.
He could continue forward.
He could reach her.
If he threw a kick, he could reach Yuuki from this distance.
There was no emotion at all on the Yuuki standing there.
Nakamura immediately moved his body.
He leaped toward the opposite end of the roof where they had been fighting before.
He aimed for the edge of the roof.
His enemy was there.
“I know what you’re thinking!”
An Energy Gunner who primarily used long-range attacks needed distance between herself and her opponent.
So the nearby Yuuki was a decoy and the distant one was the real one.
His feet sounded twice on the roof tiles and he ran in front of Yuuki.
The enemy faced him with the Dog God on her shoulder and a slight look of surprise on her face.
He did not hold back.
His kick raced out.
Toes that could break through a sheet of steel slammed into Yuuki’s gut.
Her body immediately splashed outward and turned to ashes.
It was water.
Not a person.
Yuuki and the Dog God on her shoulder both turned to clear water droplets before becoming ashes.
He stopped his foot and turned around.
The Yuuki he had thought was a decoy stood on the peak of the roof.
She had moved.
This was not a counterfeit made from water Lives.
“But the look on her face…!?”
It had been a Killing Holder’s lack of expression.
Before he could figure that out, Yuuki looked up into the sky.
The next Tech she used was one Nakamura knew quite well.
–Yuuki – Steel Tech – Take – Suzaku Ver. 40 Link – Hit!
A moment later, light race toward them both from a point in the sky.
“A Word Particle Cannon!?” he shouted.
But he had the power of a Harmonist.
If he could react, he could ignore any Tech.
He jumped as white light swallowed up his vision.
He jumped toward a corner of the roof.
He leaped to a position that would just barely avoid a direct hit from the Word Particle Cannon.
And as he did, he kept his eyes on Yuuki.
He watched her to make sure he did not fall for a decoy like before.
But he noticed something odd.
There was no ether light wrapped around her giant staff.
His quickly found his answer.
A giant mass of ice was floating in the white-dyed sky.
At around 50 meters, it was far larger than the previous ones.
It was horribly cubic and had perfectly flat sides.
It floated in the darkness of the night and slowly descended between Nakamura and the light of the Word Particle Cannon.
What did that mean?
He instantly realized what.
“Oh, no!” he shouted.
But it was too late.
The light of the Word Particle Cannon directly collided with the giant mass of ice.
The ice shattered.
The light dispersed and weakened.
Even so, the Word Particle light continued downwards under its own power.
And the ice had bent it like a prism.
The Word Particle Cannon’s light was forcibly redirected.
And it was headed straight toward Nakamura.
He could not dodge it.
His body was still in the air and it was too much of a surprise attack to use his power as a Harmonist.
The light scored a spectacular direct hit.
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