Magisterus Bad Trip:Volume2 Epilogue
It was a bloody scene.
Hekireki Midori was just about the only one who had avoided injury.
The Magisteri Tselika and Meiki and even the legendary Dealers Kaname and Takamasa were soaked with blood. All of those injuries had come from the man named Bloody Dancer. And only because he wanted to enjoy the shooting game as much as possible.
“Ow… M-master, isn’t it about time you changed clothes to give yourself some Skills? Reduce Pain to halve the pain and Blood Down to limit the blood loss would be nice.”
“Are you forgetting that the Magisterus shares the Dealer’s Skills!? I’m suffering from a lot of needless pain right now!!” After shouting, Tselika pouted her lips like a small child and poked her index fingers together in front of her large chest. “And you were shot too, weren’t you? You Dealers don’t automatically recover after being killed like us Magisteri do. If you die, you Fall.”
“It’s okay, Tselika. I’m not going anywhere.”
Her timid behavior may have been similar to how people grew a lot meeker when they had a cold. Or maybe the presence of Takamasa, who had Fallen once already, had something to do with it.
Takamasa himself crouched down and checked on a different Magisterus’s condition.
Cindy was the Dark Elf Magisterus who had supposedly gone elsewhere after Kaname’s sister retired.
“She had a weird patch installed, but I removed it. Now she should be free. We only have to wait for her to recover from being Downed.”
He made it sound so simple.
He was relying on Zone, which eliminated all distractions from an objective of your choosing, and Manufacture, which made your finger movements much more precise, but those were the only Skills he was using. They only had a rarity of 3 or 4 and were findable enough if you knew where to look. The ability to predict what he had to investigate and the judgment of what needed to be removed to improve her condition had all come down to his brain.
This was Criminal AO, the legendary Dealer who had created all of the Over Tricks.
Unlike Suou Kaname who simply got into fights and earned money, this boy was second to none in using tools and had surpassed the expectations of the demons who ruled the game world.
There was no point in putting on an act here. If you did not understand something, it was best to come out and ask about it.
“I’ve never seen what happens to a Magisterus when their Dealer retires, but what do you mean by ‘free’? Is she not going to fly up to heaven or be drawn into the gates of hell?”
“Ayame-chan had a role forced onto her as the Innocent Administrator. She tried to retire, but her account data lived on in Money (Game) Master. If you think of our Magisteri as our digital bank accounts, then you can think of Cindy as an idle account that even Ayame had forgotten about. Here.”
Takamasa tossed something toward Kaname.
It was a metal shackle that had been around Cindy’s ankle.
“I imagine this originally belonged to his Undine. I don’t want to try it out since it would immediately send an alert to the system, but forcibly combining parts from different Magisteri may cause a strange bug or conflict. I can only guess about this, but it may be like installing more than one piece of security software on the same computer. I may not be one to talk after causing so much trouble with my Over Tricks, but I’m amazed using such a sloppy method didn’t get the attention of the Will of AIs.”
“No,” cut in Kaname.
He was not clever enough to analyze Bloody Dancer’s logic the way Takamasa was, but he could speak from what he had sensed while fighting the man.
This too was something you could not gain from preset Skills.
“He probably had the skill to survive without breaking a sweat even after getting their attention. Or maybe that berserker thought it was more fun that way. While everyone else is having a hard enough time on normal mode, he intentionally cranked things up to nightmare mode for himself.”
“Perhaps. He never did care about the Swiss Panic or our Called Game. He just wanted battles more thrilling than anything found in reality. There was no resentment or anger there. From the bottom of his heart, he really did just want to enjoy Money (Game) Master as a shooting game.”
Takamasa smiled bitterly at the exchange.
They seemed similar but were completely different. He could clearly see the difference between Suou Kaname and Bloody Dancer.
“But in Cindy’s case, he didn’t duplicate her commands or turn her into his puppet. He simply attached an accessory that sent him her coordinates and marked her as his property. He only needed old-fashioned violence to get her to obey. It works with humans and it works with more undefinable beings as well. Summer City might be big, but you can’t escape outside it.”
“He certainly was thorough in his own way.”
“He was. I imagine his Undine was the only person he ever provided anything other than violence, such as rubbing her head. He was a complete nightmare of a Dealer, but he didn’t try to take advantage of the system the way I do. He may have trampled all over logic with his two guns and two grenade launchers style, but he only ever relied on his own technique. He gathered up so much of my magic, but he never felt any desire to use it himself. That alone I can respect, even if my exasperation is stronger. …But his legend has ended now. The nightmare is over, Kaname.”
Two people viewed those two boys from behind: Magisterus Tselika and Midori who lent the Magisterus her shoulder.
“Shouldn’t you be a part of that?” asked Midori.
“Oh, shut up.”
“Well, there’s plenty of time. You can take your time getting closer to him.”
Midori did understand how Tselika felt. That was the brother she thought she would never again see. But she could not immediately run up with tears in her eyes because they were not alone together. The complex barrier of adolescence got in her way.
But it would come later.
After she logged out and was alone in her room, she might press her face into her pillow and cry her eyes out. She was fairly certain of that, but she was fine with not letting her emotions out right now. After all, this was not the end. She would be able to see him every day from now on.
Just then, they heard thundering footsteps approaching from within the museum.
“Sounds like we should head outside,” said Kaname. “We’re inside a museum after hours and this was where the Magisteri were storing the Inheritance. The only reason the AI-controlled PMC and their endless reinforcements haven’t attacked us yet is because Bloody Dancer had slaughtered them all. But that bulwark is gone, so we need to get moving before we’re surrounded.”
“You’re right. Midori, you drive a motorcycle, right? If it still runs, then you should grab it now. As for Kaname’s coupe…”
“How did you get in here? Did you not see the impromptu modern art exhibit colored a nice mint green in the main lobby? Or was all the paint stripped away?”
“Then, I hate to ask this, Lilikiska-kun, but you have another job to do. Send your giant limousine to the front of the building, attach the rear winch to Kaname’s coupe, and drag it out. I want to avoid abandoning it on private property.”
“Okay, okay!! And don’t call it an impromptu modern art exhibit! Whatever form it takes, that’s my precious temple! I! Will! Look! After! It!!”
They were very busy all of a sudden.
The girls began leaving through the hallway or windows to make sure they did not encounter the PMC that was starting to get moving once more.
Meanwhile, Kaname and Takamasa exchanged a glance so the others would not notice.
Everyone else had already left.
No, they had made sure the girls would leave first.
They faced each other with a set distance between them.
It was just like a quick draw in a Western movie.
“Thanks for waiting until Midori had left, Kaname.”
“No, thank you.”
What did the world look like to him?
“And there is one issue we haven’t dealt with yet,” continued Takamasa.
Kaname had his own reasons for gathering the Inheritance. He wanted to stop the Will of the Magisteri from invading human society and “something higher than that”, and he wanted to keep the individual Magisterus named Tselika from being destroyed. He wanted to gather all of the human-made Inheritance and use it to reveal Money (Game) Master’s programming language. By managing his property, Tselika would become the queen who ruled the Magisteri. That was the best path to control the real and virtual worlds and saving everyone he knew.
But Takamasa had come here too.
The Inheritance originally belonged to him. He had to know its value. He had to have some vision of what it could do.
“Takamasa, I want to know your vision. What do you intend to do once you gather the Inheritance?”
“You still call them the Inheritance in front of the person who made them?”
“I’m asking how you’re going to fight back against this game made by demons beyond human understanding.”
“Fine, if you insist. My top priority is returning human society to us humans. As you can see, I’m not relying on a Magisterus. I do have a partner, but I can’t fully trust her since she’s connected to the Will. I do feel bad about doing this to her, though.”
“You don’t seem to be struggling with it quite as much as Bloody Dancer.”
“I must be a cold person deep down.” He readily admitted it. “I hope there’s a way to save them both, but if I have to choose one or the other, I’ll choose the humans over the Magisteri.”
“And if there is a way to do that?”
Kaname did not hesitate to respond.
Takamasa looked surprised, but he shook his head.
“That would be wonderful, but I can’t trust it. Kaname, if you’re serious about that, then your resolve is weak. That’s a product of compromise, isn’t it? Humans and AIs are fundamentally incompatible beings. Worse, the Magisteri are not actually AIs.”
“I don’t want to abandon Tselika.”
“No, you don’t,” bluntly stated Kaname.
The light in his eyes sharpened. This was not the look one gave during a reunion with an old friend.
“You abandoned your partner, so you can never understand.”
“Then are we at an impasse?”
Hekireki Takamasa slowly raised his hands.
But not as a sign of surrender. That hero’s skilled fingers contained a piece of his fully-customized Inheritance.
And Suou Kaname responded.
He slowly raised his own hands while focusing more intently than ever before on the Short Spear short-range sniper rifle forcibly stuck below his belt.
They were 5m apart.
They both took a step forward.
They were not within arm’s reach of each other, but they were close enough for even an amateur to hit with a gun.
Takamasa had hit Bloody Dancer with a simplified, T-shaped submachinegun known as #Fuse.err. It could detonate any tank or pipe with a single shot as long as it was ignitable. If the conditions were right, it could even bring down a tank or warship. However, there was no guarantee he would actually use that here. Inheritance abilities did not stack, but they could apparently be swapped out on the fly.
They were surrounded by the world-changing Inheritance, scattered around them like a mountain of treasure.
But the two friends glared directly at each other without looking at any of those other weapons.
“To be honest, I never thought of my magic as the final trump card against the Magisteri.”
“Kaname, it’s that Lion’s Nose of yours. That alone can’t be reproduced using Skills from equipment. Or by my magic that is really just an extension of that. You want to use my cheat-code-like magic to cause errors that let you analyze the programming language? C’mon, you’ve got something much more dangerous right there.”
“The Zodiac Children. That is what I call people with traits like yours. Out of the 7 billion humans out there, a mere 12 can escape the AI society’s rule. Think of it like the game of chess where we already know humans are no match for computers, yet there are a few individuals who can overturn that assumption and win for no explainable reason. Combine that with my magic, and I can achieve my plan. …This is your final chance. Would you like to join me? Your way provides a chance, but my way provides a sure thing.”
“I had a feeling, my hero. I loved that kind side to you.”
The thundering footsteps approached beyond a certain line.
The AI-controlled troops barging in acted as a cue for both of them.
The Zodiac Child and the Over Trick user.
They stood at opposite sides of the world, but they both acted as a trump card against this threat.
Their right hands reached for their hips and then deafening gunshots rang out.
On one side was Takamasa’s T-shaped submachinegun, #Fuse.err.
The sound of Kaname’s suppressed .45 caliber rounds were drowned out by the larger gun.
“You’re pretty good, Kaname.”
Criminal AO, Hekireki Takamasa, was still smiling.
Something audibly collapsed behind him. It was the AI-controlled PMC troops protecting the Inheritance storage facility. Three of them now had dark red holes punched clean through their heads.
Kaname had not bothered to look back either.
The gas pipe on the wall there must have ruptured because he heard the blast from just barely outside the danger zone. The blast had of course taken out the PMC troops.
“So are you. I thought you left the actual shooting to me? Did you train somewhere, or were you always this good?”
“Are you still underestimating me? Is a piece of my magic not worth a reaction from your precious Lion’s Nose?”
“I won’t shoot you, Takamasa.”
His gun was aimed directly at the other boy, but he forced out his voice like the words tasted bitter in his mouth.
His opponent would not stop fighting.
This may have been the same pain that Bloody Dancer had felt.
“I don’t want to see Midori cry again. Same with my sister and Tselika. If I let you die, that’s what I’ll see. And it would be the greatest failure in my life.”
Those words brought a slight change over his friend.
He looked taken aback.
That T-shaped submachinegun could ignite and detonate flammable and explosive objects.
It did not matter how thick the outer shell was and how secure the safety measures were.
But while aiming that manifestation of the explosive side of shooting games, the hero gave a troubled smile.
“You do know you’re only delaying the inevitable, don’t you? We both need my magic in the end. Even if we part ways here, we will eventually clash again.”
“Come one, don’t bite your lip. You’re making me look like the bad guy here! You’re not bullying some weak kid here, Kaname. No one will hold it against you if you come at with everything you’ve got. But…”
He seemed to hesitate a little, but there was no time for that. The museum was far too busy. They had spent a long time in off-limits private property and they had directly killed some of the PMC guards. The AIs would work harder to kill them now.
“But taking care of this comes first, And while we’re out, how about a game, Kaname?”
“A race to leave the building first? Or who can gather attention from the largest number of soldiers and survive?”
“No, let’s keep it simple: who can kill the most.”
Kaname did a double take on his friend’s face.
Even if the PMC soldiers did not use special Skills, their base parameters were ridiculous. And they had infinite reinforcements. When up against them, the idea was to escape safely, not fight them.
“Bloody Dancer could do it. Defeating a PMC isn’t beyond human capabilities.”
Takamasa simply shrugged.
For some reason, something felt odd about the tingling in Kaname’s nose. That was his Lion’s Nose, but what was this? Was there no limit to the pain he could feel there? If he let this boy keep going, would he really surpass even Bloody Dancer!?
Then the hero flipped a coin.
He did so casually.
“Now, I hope you’re ready.”
“This is no more than a silly game, but that allows the simple score to show us the clear difference between the two of us.”
A moment later, the coin hit the floor and his Lion’s Nose felt like it exploded.
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