Owari no Chronicle:Volume6 Chapter 14

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Chapter 14: Choices from a Cry of Suffering[edit]

OnC v06 0061.png

Will you give a bitter cry?

Or will you cry out in suffering?

What is the difference between anger and weakness?


The metal and water fell to the ground in an instant.

A simple thing had occurred.

Eighteen metal water tanks had fallen inside the giant round cage created from water pipes.

As the final tank and the metal net remaining in the air fell, water burst through the gaps in the pipes making up the cage. The high pressure water included gravel and metal fragments.

It scraped at the walls of nearby buildings, broke through the windows, and produced a mist.

A single figure stood within the motion and sounds of the mist.

The large man wore a greengrocer’s apron and held metal pipes in his spread arms.

He was Aigaion.

The sound of water spraying from the cage surrounded him.

And he faced forward through the mist.

About five meters away, a single white line was visible stabbing vertically into the ground.

It was a spear over two meters long.

“That is the spear that destroyed the building earlier,” he muttered. “It must contain a Concept Core.”

He walked forward in order to take the weapon as a victory prize, but then he looked toward the metal cage where his enemies would be submerged.

That was almost too easy.

According to his visual records, the two of them had been together in the center of the cage just before all the metal fell.

The boy had been holding the girl from behind, but the additional concept Gyes had added meant it was actually the girl holding the boy.

Aigaion did not understand something about that fact.

“In Low-Gear, it is normally the male who attempts to protect the female.”

In all the Low-Gear stories he had seen on television and the like, that had almost always been how it had worked. The greengrocer’s owner’s youngest daughter had recently been watching the children’s tokusatsu show “Übermensch Liberator – Gewalt” which was a standard reverse political purge story on the surface, but it still followed that common theme at the core.

The owner would feed him dinner on Sundays every week and the youngest daughter always made him play the monster role.

Why did those two leave the standard pattern?

He quickly reached an answer. Based on their previous actions, he was able to make his decision almost immediately.

“Their brains must have malfunctioned.”

Humans were difficult to understand. While thinking he needed more data, Aigaion came to a stop.

A single spear was stabbing into the ground as water washed over the gravel.

He had no data on this weapon. He needed to acquire it and the large sword the girl had wielded in order to investigate them.

He stretched out his right arm to pull the spear out with his gravitational control, but then he heard a noise.

This sound was out of place amidst the quickly spraying and flowing water.

It was a footstep.

He heard a loud footstep of someone landing at some high place.

“…”

That single footstep was enough for him to determine the location and traits of the one who produced it.

They were about 15 meters to his front, about 8 meters high, around 50 kilograms, and a bit exhausted. He then used his sight to confirm the answer his hearing led him to.

Someone is standing on top of the broken water tanks?

There they were.

Beyond the mist, a figure stood atop the metal wreckage.

It was a girl.

Her white dress shirt and gray skirt whipped in the wind. She held a giant white sword that looked out of place in her slender arms.

Her shoulders rose and fell as she caught her breath and faced him.

She was completely unscathed.

Her eyebrows were raised and the intent to attack was plainly written there.

Aigaion withdrew the hand held toward the spear, prepared both hands for a fight, and asked a question.

“You weren’t crushed in the cage just now?”

His question was not answered verbally.

The girl silently answered with her actions.

“…”

She used her right hand to point her sword at him.

He noticed the white sword had changed form.

The blade’s cowling remained closed, but the rear thruster was open and the air shimmered above it.

She lightly raised the sword and spoke.

“That’s right.”

She looked over her shoulder at a student dormitory.

The window leading into the third floor hallway was missing its reinforced glass.

Seeing that, Aigaion understood what had happened.

“Did you use the sword’s thruster to fly to that window?”

In that case, he understood why the boy had grabbed her just before the attack arrived.

“Yeah. She used my body to soften the blow when we broke through the glass.”

His body had not made an appearance.

“It was enough of an impact to knock my body unconscious, so it must have hit Chisato’s mind pretty hard.” He smiled. “So I need to return the favor…using her body.”

She raised the sword and leaped toward Aigaion.

From the sound of her jump, he could tell she planned to charge forward.

“You’re heading straight toward me!?”

“Of course. This is round 3!”


As soon as he landed, Izumo ran.

He had wet gravel below his feet, a single enemy, and Kazami’s G-Sp2 between them.

There were a lot of elements to the battle, but the basic composition was simple. He only had to charge forward and smash the enemy with his sword.

He ran.

He found Kazami’s body to be light.

And he also found it moved immediately just as he had thought it would.

He had thought that from the moment he had first met her.

But back then, he had not known the language well and had only been able to be by her side.

She had often complained even though he could not understand what she said.

He had not understood the language, but he had understood that some kind of problem had occurred and she had been partially forced to quit something. When he had apologized for making her complain so much, she had said the following:

“I was trying to apologize first, but all I did was complain. That really wasn’t fair, was it?”

He had memorized the sounds and learned what it meant after he started living here.

He had also learned the meaning of the smile she had given then.

Even later, he had learned that she had been a part of some kind of athletic club, but there had been an accident leading to someone else getting injured and she had quit the club.

By the time he understood that, she had stopped complaining.

Did she stop complaining once I learned Japanese?

Or had she no longer had time to complain now that he was with her?

He did not know and he did not want to know. He may have gained her body, but he still did not understand her mind.

But I’ll never forget her expression or tone of voice when complaining back then!

Two years had passed since.

After her training at UCAT, she could move a lot more than back then. Even so, her ability to make light, detailed movements put a greater burden on her step reach and top speed.

I’m impressed she can keep up with a stamina-rich idiot like me.

He ran and swung his weapon using the body that normally ran alongside him. He found her breasts to be a bit in the way of his arms.

But their size was just right and everything else about her body was exactly the way he liked it too.

She’s such a wonderful girl. I should take her to a movie sometime soon.

As he ran, he did not feel the weight of the weapon. That proved V-Sw recognized him as its master. Since it could tell even with a different body, it meant V-Sw obeyed his mind.

I’ve learned a lot. This concept isn’t all that bad.

He moved forward and Aigaion approached.

Izumo attacked.

He chose a horizontal slash from the right shoulder.

As he held up the sword, a smile appeared on Aigaion’s face.

“Comparing your expression to my memories of the past, I have determined you are dangerous!”

With that comment, the automaton fell back, but Izumo continued after him.

“I won’t let you get away, greengrocer!”

With the press of a button on the grip, V-Sw’s thruster ignited.

It produced a roar and accelerated him forward.

After that powerful step, he launched a strike.

Aigaion’s back stepping could not overcome Izumo’s speed.

He was sure to hit, but Aigaion calmly reached an arm behind him.

“I do not need a thruster for additional acceleration! And if I evade once, it is over!”

His body was suddenly knocked backwards.

He had used his gravitational control.

Instead of drawing something else to him, he had drawn himself to a point behind him.

And in doing so, he evaded Izumo’s attack.

The centrifugal force of the missed swing caused him to rotate around.

“…!”

Meanwhile, Aigaion smiled and swung his right fist as he moved back.

At seven meters, his fist could not reach, but a fifty centimeter ball of shimmering appeared in front of his fist.

It was a mass of gathered gravity.

That bullet could bend light and it would contract anything it came into contact and tear it away.

The automaton bent his body in preparation to throw it and he shouted.

“Now what will you do!?”


Aigaion asked his question.

What will he do!?

If he threw the gathered gravity, his opponent could not avoid it while swinging around his sword, so he would die.

Killing was one job of a combat automaton.

But that would be boring.

He did not have many opportunities to fight.

If he was to savor this opportunity, he could not go all out and immediately kill his opponent.

But he had no intention of holding back.

This is difficult, he thought. He wanted to help out his enemy so he could enjoy this longer, but he could not do that and so he had to rely on his enemy.

Give it your best shot, he thought. Give it your best shot, enemy.

With that thought, he threw the gathered gravity with all his strength.

“!”

His large right arm launched an overhand throw.

It was a powerful fastball.

The instant after he swung his right arm, he saw the sword-wielding girl suddenly begin an attack.

“…”

She suddenly reversed the direction of her rotation.

How did she reverse the direction of such a heavy sword?

He soon saw his answer.

The sword’s back thruster had closed and the front blade had opened.

A light that outdid even the previous thruster came from the blade.

That light created acceleration and the girl reversed her direction.

“That light… That really is a Concept Core weapon!”

“Shut up and take my attack!!”

This second acceleration was wholly unexpected, but it did not hit Aigaion.

The back of the sword struck the gathered gravity between them.

A sound like shattering glass filled the air and the cowling on the back of the sword broke. In exchange, the shimmering of the gravity broke and scattered.

The impact knocked the sword’s grip from the girl’s hand.

With a metallic noise, the weapon flew through the air.

Aigaion smiled as he heard that noise. First Hiba and now these two.

These enemies know how to put up a fight!!

And so he chose not to hold back.

They had both lost their weapons, but they moved forward at the exact same moment.


Izumo ran.

He held nothing in his hands, but he had a weapon. He spread his left hand as he ran.

“G-Sp2!”

That spear stood between him and Aigaion.

The automaton caught on as well, so he raised his hand and tried to take G-Sp2 for himself. Izumo initially thought he would grab it with his gravity technique.

But he can’t use that so soon after using it for that gathered gravity attack!

Trusting in that assumption, Izumo did not hesitate to move forward.

I can make it!

“Chisato would make it!”

With those words, he did indeed clear the distance.

He made it.

“!”

But he was still in his running stance. Just because he had G-Sp2 in his grasp did not mean he could use it against Aigaion in time, so he took a certain action.

“Don’t falter!”

He kicked the base of G-Sp2’s blade which was stabbed into the ground.

He succeeded in kicking the spear up.

“I will endure,” said the spear.

As G-Sp2 rotated upwards, he ran below it.

He caught the rotating shaft on his shoulder and grabbed the butt end as it rotated upwards. Once he secured the shaft on his shoulder, he only needed to swing it forwards.

He pulled the shaft down as if beating it down and he launched an attack.

With his shoulder as the fulcrum, the blade flew down from above.

And it arrived above Aigaion’s head as he approached from the front.

But Aigaion raised his hands and smiled.

“Protect me!”

Izumo saw two attacks. Two objects leaped up from the mist-covered ground.

They were water pipes.

“!”

The twin metal serpents intercepted G-Sp2 from below.

The spear knew Izumo, but it would not let him control it as he was not its master. Without the power of the Concept Core, it was nothing but a giant blade.

The pipes were knocked away, but they managed to deflect G-Sp2 into the air.

Kazami’s slender arms were knocked upwards by the impact.

He had lost his weapon again.

Meanwhile, Aigaion came to a forceful stop and let out a laugh.

But Izumo spoke in response to that laugh.

“Not so fast, automaton.”

He held up his hands and something fell into them.

It was a sword. After being knocked away earlier, V-Sw’s hilt fell into his hand.

“I’m back.”

Aigaion stopped moving and all expression vanished from his face.

“It can’t be…”

“I can’t put too much of a burden on Chisato’s slender fingers. I only momentarily let go of my weapon earlier!”

He held V-Sw tightly and swung it diagonally to the left.

Aigaion abandoned the water pipes and leaped backwards.

“…!”

He flew.

He launched himself with his gravitational control and instantly left V-Sw’s range.

He was approximately ten meters away while Izumo did not bother stopping the momentum of V-Sw’s slash and made a full rotation to the left like a top.

As he rotated, he saw Aigaion raise his fist. That fist was quickly wrapped in shimmering.

The automaton planned to end this with a projectile from ten meters away.

What a predictable guy.

Izumo smiled bitterly and spoke.

“I only just introduced myself to Hiba!”

He would introduce himself here too.

“I’m Izumo Kaku, heir of the Izumo family! My current height, weight, and other measurements are just the way I like them! I’m currently repeating my time as a student and my current hobby is…”

He spun. The moment he faced forward again, he hit the switch on V-Sw as he swung it.

“…winning prizes at the batting center!”

He targeted what fell right in front of him: G-Sp2.

After being knocked into the air, the long spear was falling and rotating, so he targeted the bottom end.

As he swung, he kept the blade’s cowling closed and fully opened the rear thruster.

As soon as G-Sp2 was parallel to the ground, he struck the bottom.

“Clang!”

A metallic sound much like Izumo’s spoken sound effect filled the air as G-Sp2 was launched in a straight line.

Aigaion tried to use the gravity around his fist to defend.

“…!”

But he did not make it in time.

The spear that contained a dragon struck him in the chest.

“Out of the park with you!”

Izumo slowly rotated and looked back over his shoulder. He saw the large automaton knocked backwards and the gathered gravity scatter from around his hand.

An explosion filled with mist and dirt created a great noise.

And then the white spear flew up into the air once more.

Izumo raised his right hand, grabbed the falling spear, fell to his knees, and let out a heavy sigh.

A troubled smile covered his face.

“How does Chisato get by with this body?”


Several sounds travelled south to north along the deserted road crossing in front of the school.

The sounds were those of clashing swords and they were produced by a giant red god of war and a giant silver god of war.

They were being controlled by the two female figures who almost seemed to be dancing at their respective machine’s feet.

The red god of war’s controller wore red and the silver one’s controller wore white.

The one in red, Gyes, controlled six swords with her fingers as she moved forward and attacked.

Many different gusts of wind raged about her and metallic noises burst out again and again. Each time, she moved a bit further forward, but her mind urged her on.

Hurry.

She had three reasons.

One of those was the operation time of her god of war.

This god of war is a part of me.

It was meant to be sealed in a concept space. If she grew too exhausted or her artificial consciousness fell into disarray, the opened concept space would grow unstable and the god of war would disappear.

She had to keep this quick. Her experience told her a few more minutes was her limit.

Her second reason to hurry was Mikage who floated in the air behind her. Gyes could sense her gradually coming to and it would be troublesome if she awoke.

We must obtain her.

She was Rhea’s daughter and one of the two 3rd-Gear humans who remained. No matter what Apollo thought as the other survivor, Mikage was absolutely necessary to preserve 3rd-Gear’s bloodline.

And the final reason to hurry stood before her.

That silver god of war had once belonged to Rhea. She had not seen it since Rhea had escaped to Low-Gear sixty years before, but it now wielded swords before her.

Some parts of it were different from her memories. Most notably, the torso had been completely replaced.

Lord Zeus said he had sliced it in two.

Rhea was not inside it.

“But that is why I cannot allow this!”

Gyes thrust her right palm forward.

The three right arms of the red god of war simultaneously attacked the silver god of war. One arm swung down from above, one thrust in at middle height, and one performed a diagonal slash from below.

Sibyl leaped backwards, rotated around, and swung her right hand down.

The silver god of war moved in response. It turned to the side to avoid the attack from above, used the tip of a sword to deflect the central thrust outwards, and knocked away the diagonal slash from below by swinging down the guard of the other sword.

The sets of metallic noises and sparks scattered and they all vanished into empty air.

Sibyl tried to land, but Gyes used that moment to move forward.

Before the girl could reach the ground, Gyes used her gravitational control to throw herself right in front of her.

“…!”

Gyes could not eliminate the inertial pressure, but she could cut out certain functionality to ignore it.

And she did exactly that.

She linked the movements of her legs, hips, and arms and swung her hands from behind her.

She used her gravitational control to launch the six swords in her suit toward Sibyl’s landing position.

She thrust one each to the ankle, thigh, waist, gut, and chest and she swept one horizontally toward the neck.

It was an instantaneous attack, but it was blocked by something unexpected: a wall.

“!?”

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It took her a moment to realize the white wall between her and Sibyl was the white sword of the other god of war.

The giant sword stood up from the ground, but Gyes continued with all her attacks unchanged.

Metallic noises rang out and her swords broke, one after another.

The first, second, and third simply broke, but the fourth put a crack in the wall. She instantly altered the speed of the fifth and sixth and sent the decapitating horizontal slash on ahead.

Ultimately, the god of war’s sword broke.

Gyes launched her final attack while surrounded by the high-pitched sound of shattering metal.

The strike was meant to skewer Sibyl’s chest and it would reach her past the shattered wall.

“Go!”

The tip of the blade overcame the wind and pierced through while knocking away fragments of the large sword.

Gyes felt the feedback of a hit, but she saw Sibyl leaping further back through the airborne metal fragments.

What?

An instant later, she understood. Sibyl had kicked the belly of the blade Gyes stabbed forward.

“Are you planning to use the god of war’s sword as footing!?”

Nevertheless, Gyes’s blade reached Sibyl’s chest. It stabbed into the chest of her armor and her own movement tore the cloth.

This revealed the skin from her neck down to her chest.

“So you’re human.”

Sibyl had known about 3rd-Gear and was fighting them, so Gyes had thought she might be an automaton.

But this is all the more reason for you to die!

Gyes pulled back her sword and moved forward. Her opponent’s god of war had only one sword, so this was the time to attack.

As soon as she moved forward, her target took a certain action.

She turned to the side and pointed at Gyes with her right hand.

Gyes wondered what this was about as she watched the silver god of war take the same action. But the god of war threw the sword in its right hand.

Gyes instantly decided to have her god of war deflect the flying blade outwards.

This created an opening.

The silver god of war took advantage of that opening, but not with a sword attack.

It performed a tackle.

“!”

Gyes was unsure how to react to this unexpected attack, but she started by hurriedly pulling the red god of war back.

“Such a crude method of fighting! This will damage yours as well!”

The answer was accompanied by a troubled smile.

“Testament. I am in charge of maintenance, so I can only think of methods that will provide me a reason to work.”

As if to give its agreement, the silver god of war unhesitatingly stepped forward to collide with the red one.

They grappled.

For an instant, the silver god of war bounced in midair.

As it had leaned forward as if preparing to leap, a powerful horizontal impact had reached it.

“…”

It was suddenly slammed into the ground.

The fall was accompanied by the sounds of heavy metal being destroyed and it was caused by a large hole piercing from the god of war’s back to the ground.

Wind burst in every direction from the hole. It was a hot wind with a scorched odor.

Was this…?

As soon as she realized it was a sniper shot, Gyes looked up into the sky.

“You made it, Cottus!”


Sibyl looked up toward the heavens.

A large form was visible in the center of the blue sky.

It resembled a god of war, it was blue, and it was overall modeled after the human body. It had several rectangular objects on its back and waist that were likely cannons.

The silver god of war had been torn into by this blue giant.

Sibyl weakly lowered her shoulders and lowered her vision toward her enemy.

Past the wind, Gyes and the red god of war were falling back.

They were moving toward the point where that giant machine was descending. It was the Hecatoncheire named Cottus.

“A giant god of war…”

“Yes. He is an automaton that uses a god of war frame. Unlike a person, he can fight without being bound by time or physiological actions. However, Cottus is the only model that Lord Cronus completed.”

“Introduction unnecessary,” said the rapidly descending figure. “Requesting rapid retrieval. Hoping for immediate withdrawal.”

“Right,” said Gyes with a nod.

She gave a light wave of the hand and the red god of war seemed to fold in on itself. First the arms were swallowed up by thin air. The legs, torso, and head did the same.

Sibyl bit her lip and looked to Mikage floating behind Gyes.

“Wait!”

“You have lost, defiler of Lady Rhea’s possession.”

Gyes returned her last remaining sword to her suit and raised her other hand.

Mikage was drawn toward that hand.

“I suppose I should say farewell,” said Gyes.

Just as Cottus was about to land, he looked up with the green lights in his face that resembled eyes.

“Danger detected.”

“Danger? What could possibly…?”

Gyes’s question was cut off by someone.

It was Hiba.

His motorcycle cut right next to her.

By the time Sibyl gave a quick “ah”, he had already completed his action.

He raised his left arm and tore Mikage from the air.

“Cottus!”

Before Gyes even finished her shout, a light came from the west.

The horizontal beam of white light struck Cottus as he tried to swing a fist down at Hiba. A shallow piece of facial armor was torn off and he shook.

Two figures stood to the west at the end of the side road leading to the city street.

One was Shinjou in her summer uniform and the other was Sayama who held a long cannon on his shoulder.

“I am glad we made it in time!” shouted Shinjou. “Go, Hiba boy!”

While holding Mikage atop the stopped motorcycle, Hiba nodded.

With her in his arms, he let out a cry.

“Mikage-san!”

Sibyl saw Mikage’s eyes open in response to his voice and nod when she saw his red eyes.

Sibyl then heard Hiba speak because she could not.

“Susamikado!”

Sibyl gulped as she watched a metal torso frame appear behind the two of them as they got off the motorcycle. The moving parts and organ devices were summoned and the summoned arms, head, legs, and four wings were bolted into place.

While the metallic noises of the bolts filled the air, Mikage was enveloped by the black torso and Hiba was swallowed up as the stomach armor was attached.

A four-winged black god of war came together.

“Susamikado is complete!”


Hiba felt there was a pleasure and pain to gaining the god of war’s body.

His vision moved higher and he gained an awareness of the sides and back that he could not usually see.

He rose up toward Cottus who was the greatest threat.

His tall vision moved as he began moving at high speed. Each step covered just under four meters and Susamikado smashed the asphalt as it ran.

He went all out from the very first step.

“…!”

The movement felt wonderful. His widened vision and the warmth that enveloped him felt especially good.

His body had already combined with the god of war. He did not know the exact process by which he was broken down inside the metal, but he knew one thing.

The same thing happens to Mikage-san.

His own body was not actually there, but he did feel something warm wrapped around him.

He thought it felt like having Mikage embracing him from behind.

While enveloped by that sensation, he made full use of his new body.

His feet dug into the asphalt and his vision was trained directly on Cottus.

A moment later, Cottus fired on him.

Bullets flew toward him.

They were bullets of light. Those masses of great heat and pressure were thirty centimeters across and four of them approached while trailing a comet-like tail.

His reflexes were not enough to evade.

However, he heard Mikage’s voice emitted by his own body, by the god of war’s voice device.

“Ryuuji-kun.”

She could only produce that quiet voice when she had become Susamikado. She had not yet evolved the ability to speak and Hiba believed she had gained this voice specifically for combat.

But it was the only time he could hear her natural voice.

“You can dodge this,” she continued.

A sensation arrived alongside the voice.

The machine’s perception speed matched with his own mental speed.

This provided him with ultra-fast perception backed by the predictive speed of the machine.

“…”

It rushed in at him.

In an instant, a massive amount of information struck his body like music.

He loudly heard the warmth of the sunlight. The earth received and reflected it, the wind produced long breath-like music, and the trees and other plants sang the pulse-like noise of their various lives.

There were people there. The girl controlling the silver god of war was nearby, Sayama and Shinjou were more distant, and Izumo and Kazami were there as well. All of their music was slightly sped up and the tone color contained a pale heat. It was the tone color of expectation.

On the other hand, the automatons played a calmer and cooler tone. The female one named Gyes was nearby, Aigaion was approaching and his tone was in disarray due to injury, and Cottus was directly ahead.

The bullets…

Hiba perceived even those as music.

A powerful tone resembling a whistle approached from the front. This tone was slightly out of sync with the whole. It was the tone of destruction.

That’s an unpleasant tone color!

He could see their ballistic paths.

A moment later, his heightened perception left. His information processing ability had been overwhelmed and the limiter had kicked in before he drowned in it all.

But he was already moving forward.

“!”

Susamikado’s foot smashed the asphalt and its entire body flew forward as if pursuing the tone color seen before.

Hiba moved toward the center of the attack.

As he charged forward, a song escaped his lips.

“Jesus, Lord, with your birth.”

As if chasing the song, Susamikado slipped past the flying light.

It ducked low and moved forward.

It stepped, spun, tilted its body forward, scraped across the asphalt, and ran.

One bullet grazed its shoulder, but that had been expected. If Susamikado had not avoided that one, the next one would have hit it in the gut.

And the rest won’t hit!

Hiba stepped forward to prove his words right. He stretched out his knees and practically threw himself forward.

He made it through.

“Shows the grace of His holy might.”

The blue machine lay before him, so he prepared his right fist.

Cottus raised one of the cannons on his waist and fired at close range, but Hiba instantly slipped below it and threw a right uppercut as he stood back up.

The strike dug deep into Cottus’s stomach armor.

“!!”

The heavy sound of metal filled the air and Cottus’s heavy body floated up a bit.

But Hiba did not let up.

He went on to send his left fist into Cottus’s side to bring up his chest armor.

“!”

He then rotated to bring his right leg up and into Cottus’s chest.

The three-strike combo bent and broke Cottus’s chest armor and knocked him backwards.

Hiba began to continue forward. He knew this was his chance, so he felt something similar to impatience. He wanted to defeat one of the Hecatoncheires and to bring an end to as much of this painful fight as possible.

I have to act now!

But something stopped Susamikado’s movements.

It was another sound, but this one was a voice and a distinctly human one at that.

“…Kh.”

Mikage used his mouth to let out a groan of pain.


Hiba reacted to Mikage’s groan of pain.

He distinctly felt his currently nonexistent heart skip a beat and he stopped his advance. His foot smashed the ground below and he took a defensive position.

“Mikage-san!?”

“It hurts…”

It took a breath before he understood what she meant.

He recalled the damage to the chest armor and wing from the other night’s battle.

And he recalled that Mikage had taken on all those injuries in his place.

He did not even feel any pain because she took it all on herself. But if he moved now, it would hurt her. It was only natural.

“…”

Now I’ve done it, he thought. Why didn’t I realize?

He was so close to her now and they shared the same body.

So why was I thinking about nothing but fighting?

He stopped moving altogether.

He saw Cottus take a defensive stance after falling back.

Aigaion had caught up, so he and Gyes stood on Cottus’s shoulders.

All three of them were exhausted or damaged in some way.

Now was the perfect time to pursue.

“Ryuuji-kun…”

The pain-filled voice coming from his mouth kept Hiba from acting.

Another voice spoke up as if reprimanding him.

It was Shinjou’s voice.

“What is it, Hiba boy!? You are the one stopping our negotiations, so why are you choosing not to fight!?”

Sayama and Shinjou came running up along the side road and Shinjou was shouting toward him from behind Cottus.

But Hiba could not move. He could only determine Mikage’s state from her voice, but it was enough to bind him.

He felt like he was directly touching her wounds.

He simply could not move.

Wasn’t I supposed to be protecting her?

“I’m sorry.”

As if speaking the words in his heart for him, Mikage’s voice escaped his mouth.

He clenched his fists and faced Cottus and the two automatons.

“…”

He remained silent.

There was nothing he could say. If he did anything more, it would only increase her pain.

He could no longer choose to attack. That was his choice now.

He motionlessly looked toward those who controlled the battlefield now. Shinjou ran from the western road to the city road and Sayama followed while carrying a long white cannon.

Gyes brushed up her hair on Cottus’s shoulder and she spoke.

“I assume you are from Team Leviathan. What do you plan to do now?”

“Well,” said Shinjou. “We wish to mediate for you.”


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