Unlimited Fafnir:Volume 10 Chapter 4
Chapter 4 - Successor of Genocide
—What am I doing?
Charlotte B. Lord thought to herself amidst pain that was tearing her body apart.
Unlike her father, she did not feel an obligation to "protect the world no matter what."
However, she still followed in her father's footsteps, choosing the path of the sovereign over mankind. This was the "meaning" of her survival with Mica.
She had instantly understood the true nature of the authority as soon as she inherited it. Born to unite the human race, this power must not be used except at a minimal level. Hence, she copied her father's method of ruling the human world.
Conferring super recovery powers and immunity to disease, preventing all manner of death except old age and severe injuries—Using this as the price, she made others obey her wishes within a feasible extent. By establishing this type of contract with the world's ruling class, she slowly conquered the world.
As much as possible, she refrained from invoking her authority to totally control other people's personalities and bodies unless absolutely necessary. To avoid backlash from humans, she also eschewed direct involvement in the world's operation.
She exercised unilateral authority and stood in the spotlight only once. That was the occasion when Midgard gained independence as an autonomous educational institute.
Why had she done so?
Most likely because she had felt a strong sense of empathy.
For these Type Dragon girls, Ds, whose lives were distorted by a power bestowed upon them without consent—
Then after much effort spent, Midgard, now set on a new path as an academy, became an irreplaceable home for her.
However, humans were very crafty creatures.
People tended to show openings when they gained things they held dear, things they wanted to protect. Never missing out on such weaknesses, humans would exploit them thoroughly.
It was not rare for them to use Midgard as leverage to make forceful demands. The current incident was simply one case that had developed into an extreme situation.
—In any case, what they wanted was to use me as a tool.
Amidst her hazy consciousness, Charlotte looked up at the high ceiling and laughed wryly.
For the sake of eternal peace and stability—While delivering what sounded like grand speeches of righteousness, rulers sought a world where they could persist as winners.
'We would be troubled if the weak did not remain weak and the poor did not remain poor. Otherwise, we could not stay as winners forever.'
Charlotte felt as though she heard their true thoughts.
However, it was true that the world was facing the risk of a war crisis. Left unchecked, it would cause many casualties. If humans were to use weapons that would cause drastic changes to the environment, they could very well walk a path of self-destruction.
To prevent what her father's efforts from becoming futile, she had no choice but to use her authority this way. More importantly, she was forced to accept when the other party threatened her using law proposals unfavorable to Ds and Midgard's various rights as bargaining chips.
Naturally, she could have overrode everything by invoking her authority.
However, when controlling a person, one would have to control others to prevent that first person's betrayal. This would lead to an endless cycle resulting in vast quantities of humans under her control.
Were she to use such a move, there would be no way to restrain her power.
Hence, Charlotte decided to respect the demands and decisions of humans.
However, this provoked NIFL and brought in the current incident.
Using her authority to clean up the mess, she had now lost control and was even getting her own side caught up under dominance as well.
In hindsight, the one who wanted to protect Midgard the most, Charlotte herself, was actually the one who exposed it to danger.
—Seriously, what am I doing?
Although she had definitely done something wrong, she did not know where exactly she had made a mistake.
And she could not think of a solution to rectify her error either.
Most likely, she had become powerless to change the current situation since a while ago. Hence, all she could do was entrust everything to someone other than herself.
Only one face surfaced in Charlotte's mind.
From the very instant when she first laid eyes on that young man, Charlotte had felt that they were "the same."
It was the face of the one who treated her as an equal, her most precious friend.
Don't come, don't come, don't come—Don't come over.
I recited at my left hand's dragon mark while moving forward.
Like during the battle against Sleipnir, I placed my faith in our bonds as kindred to transmit my thoughts—Hence, I persisted in crying out in my heart.
Right now, what I feared most was the girls appearing before my eyes.
The calamitous killing intent surging forth from the depths of my consciousness was thirsting for targets to vent at. No matter how much I valued the other person, the authority itself would probably bare its fangs the moment they came into sight.
Hence, to avoid seeing others, I kept my eyes shut while advancing.
Although I kept tripping over what might be debris, I still managed to pass through the damaged front gate to keep going smoothly.
According to the Academy map in my mind, I was currently at the road where I had passed through earlier. Even if I were to lose my direction, I could adjust my course by touch as long as I carefully confirmed the feeling underfoot.
Were things as I predicted? So far, I had not met a single person on my way here.
Immediately... I was going to reach the clock tower.
Near the entrance should be that person... who was probably a collapsed member of staff.
To avoid being aware of people, I kept my eyes tightly shut. Even if voices were to call out to me, my plan was to keep going while pretending not to hear.
Were things unfolding completely according to my wishes... Or were my companions actively "making this happen"? ...Although I had no idea, so far no one called out to stop me along my successful journey to the clock tower's entrance.
With my hand against a wall, I cautiously entered the clock tower. While taking are not to pass through the location of the collapsed staff, I moved along the wall and used my fingertips to search for the elevator button.
The elevator had apparently stayed on this floor after we used it. The doors opened immediately with a thunk.
I entered the elevator and leaned against the wall, waiting for the doors to shut themselves. When I heard the thunk sound again and determined that I was now in a sealed room, I finally opened my eyes and pressed the button for the top floor.
After that, I sat on the floor, panting.
I was almost at my limit in suppressing my killing intent. Physically, my body was also in quite a poor state.
Although the gun wounds from Major Loki were not critical, I had lost chunks of flesh from my arms and legs. Having soaked all the bleeding, my clothing became heavy. Pushing against the floor for support, my hand was stained red from blood.
The pain had almost reached saturation, stimulating my consciousness continuously. It would be far easier to move my body by wrapping myself in Ether Wind as earlier, but I did not know how to do it intentionally.
Perhaps it was like latent potential exploding at the scene of a fire, an ability usable after the limiters were subconsciously removed. However... Even if I solved this problem, all it would achieve was nothing more than moving my body.
To resolve the fundamental problem, I still needed other power.
Ding, with the sound of a lively tone, I reached the floor of my destination. I closed my eyes before the doors opened and used my weakened legs to stand up unsteadily.
Leaning against the wall while exiting the elevator, I searched for surrounding presences. The cold corridor was silent with no one apparently present.
Of my companions, three of them had remained on this floor... However, they were staying in the principal's private room even further in. They probably would not come out if they were there.
With my eyes closed, I continued to move forward. The sensation on my fingertips changed. This was the feeling of wood—The door to the principal's office.
I opened the door without knocking. There was no time to waste on idle chatter. The more talking, the more I would recognize the other person's existence and the higher the risk of Code Lost erupting.
Hence, if I had to convey what was necessary in less than a sentence...
After entering the room, I was greeted by an intense smell of blood.
Was the window open? I sensed a faint breeze. But in spite of that, the smell of blood did not dissipate. I approached the source of the scent, by "her" side.
What I heard was faint and painful panting. She was the only one in the room. Although I could not confirm with my eyes closed, my target should be sitting in her office chair as usual.
Right now, she was the only one I could count on.
More precisely, there was someone else who was able to carry out the same measures as her... But there was no way I could impose such a cruel task to that innocent and single-minded little girl.
This task—I could only hand over to my friend.
After taking a deep breath lightly, I voiced my wish.
However, our voices overlapped. She had spoken at virtually the same time.
After this curious coincidence, we were plunged into an awkward and painful silence. But if this continued, it would be impossible to resume the earlier subject. Neither did we have time to waste.
I carefully tried my best to suppress my awareness of her while speaking in the darkness.
"Right now, I can kill people indiscriminately just by imagining it. Suppressing my killing intent with everything I can is already reaching a limit. So... Control my mind and stop me completely from thinking."
While taking care not to direct my killing intent at her, I explained the situation.
This was the only method I could come up with to salvage the current situation. The girl who had succeeded Yggdrasil was also capable of controlling my thoughts, but she was surely unable to erase "me."
Hence, I requested the help of the girl who was my friend. However, a hoarse voice replied.
"Sorry... I'm almost at my limit too. Unable to control excessive blood, I'm currently starting to control people indiscriminately. Although it's a bit embarrassing... My plan was evidently too naive. By this point, all I can do is ask you to terminate my life."
Hearing that, I grew anxious. Although I had offered earlier to aid her if she were to fall into a dire situation, I actually never expected her control of her authority to develop to such a dangerous state.
She was definitely going to fine, that was what I was subconsciously hoping for.
"No... Wait a sec. Things will really be bad unless you control me. Worse comes to worst, this island... no, perhaps the entire human race will be destroyed—"
"The same applies in my case too. Using the bodies of the controlled, the blood will multiply on its own. At this rate, the entire human race's 'minds' will be wiped out."
With this exchange, I understood. Both of us were already standing at the very verge of destroying mankind.
"Is there no... other way? You can still hang in there a while, so just a bit longer... Umm, use willpower."
"...No. Things will only worsen at this rate. You too... If you can still endure, then do your best to endure for a while. You're not such a weakling of a man that you'll lose to your own authority. Make use of willpower. Willpower."
"If I could do that... I wouldn't need to ask you for this favor."
I sighed and sat on the floor. I could no longer stand.
Next, I heard the chair sliding then footsteps approaching me. The irregular thud of steps gradually circled around to my back—
Accompanied by a faint sound of clothing friction, I felt a warm sensation against my back.
It was probably coming from her slender back.
"Me... too. I wouldn't have to ask you do this if there was another way."
Leaning back to back against me, she spoke in a weary voice.
"But—after knowing what favor you're asking, if I don't do my best... It'll be the end of humanity."
Since I did not have to worry about her entering my view, I opened my eyes and answered.
Just as I thought the window was open with the curtains swaying in the wind. However, the room was filled with a thick mist of blood that the wind could not disperse.
"In that case, I'll leave it to you to do your best."
"I hope you can muster your sense of duty as the principal."
"That's something... I don't have. All I harbor is my love for beautiful girls."
"...Man, you're totally unshakable."
I smiled wryly and looked up at the ceiling. The back of my head touched her hair lightly.
"Look at you, unreliable despite clearly being my friend."
"...That's the way friends are. No way they can be reliable."
"Says the guy who was still asking me for a favor just now."
After I laughed and answered calmly, she chuckled too.
"So... My friend."
"Since it's not going to work if any of us don't do our best... Wouldn't it be fair if we both work our hardest together?"
"...Me too, exactly what I'm thinking."
"Can you do it?"
"Until now... I thought I couldn't."
"What about now?"
"Incredibly, I feel driven to do my best now."
Rather than putting on a brave front, I was voicing my true feelings.
"What a coincidence... Me too. It feels a bit easier now."
"You too, Charl?"
I finally called her name but no change apparently came to her. Well, I suppose it was already like this ever since the conversation began.
However, if this mutual sensation was not simply a matter of feeling more at ease—
"Oh, I'm guessing it's the power of our friendship."
"I'm guessing not."
"...That's so cold of you. Couldn't you play along?"
Charlotte sulked but I shook my head.
"What I'm trying to say is that there might be some kind of concrete reason for this."
"Yeah... Even just by chatting like this, I'm sure Code Lost is already trying to affect you, Charl. Likewise, your authority is probably already trying to control me."
"Well, you have a point... I probably can't even control the blood mist here properly."
Charlotte spoke in self-deprecation.
"That's why, isn't it because of each other's authority that we're having an easier time now?"
"What do you mean?"
"Charl, the multiplying blood is like a part of you, right? My authority is killing them continuously... And your authority is controlling and suppressing my overflowing intent to kill. If you think of it that way, isn't that the reason why we're feeling more at ease? Proof that your control is being applied... Look, my wounds have healed by the time I noticed."
After I shared my opinion, I heard an emotional breath.
"Oh? So the authorities are resisting each other. In that case, if we can just wait for the problem to solve itself like this?"
"Well... I don't know what will happen. It's currently a state of balance because our powers are suppressing each other. If one of us goes over the limit and loses consciousness, it's all over."
"Hoo... It's not that easy after all."
Through my back, I felt her shrugging.
"However, this buys us time to find a solution. And right now—"
"While ye authorities are locked in a struggle, 'tis possible for us to carry out a dialogue."
Hearing the voice coming from the side, I looked over there in surprise.
The door at the back of the office, leading to the private room, had opened halfway without me noticing. A young girl, roughly two sizes smaller than Kili, was standing before the door.
With bated breath, I spoke the name of the girl—However, a purple-haired girl rushed out past her and ran over.
"—D-Don't come over!"
I frantically stopped Shion.
Hearing me yell loudly, Shion instantly halted with tears slowly appearing in her eyes. Seeing her like that, Vritra sighed.
"Know that she will cry if thou rejectest her thus. She has been crying nonstop ever since Jeanne Hortensia fell unconscious, 'twas no easy task to calm her down... Waste not mine efforts."
"Ye authorities are locked in a mutual struggle, yes? In that case, thou shouldst attempt to place thy murderous intent towards this young child under complete control."
After listening to Vritra, I turned my gaze back to Shion who looked like she was about to cry.
True... I could not direct killing intent at someone like her, I must not.
I took a deep breath to calm my emotions then smiled at Shion.
As I apologized and spread my arms for her, Shion happily rushed into my embrace.
Jeanne fainting must have unsettled her greatly. She wrapped her arms tightly around the back my neck.
In the end, to comfort Shion who was about to cry, I gently stroked her back.
With a weary expression, Vritra approached.
"—This stand-in of mine is equipped with excellent optical and auditory sensory capabilities. I heard everything ye said through the door and saw the battle outside through the window from beginning to end. Upon this foundation, I retract what I had said to thee previously. Mayhap thou art truly Neun."
With her hand on her chest, Vritra stared intently at me.
"What are you talking about so suddenly...?"
"Thou used Hraesvelgr's authority earlier yet returned to normal despite the transformation. For one to be marked by another dragon yet undergo no alteration in appearance, 'tis an impossible phenomenon. Since 'tis impossible, chances are high that some authority is at work here. Immutability itself could be part of an ability."
Vritra seemed a bit displeased in tone. She pointed at my forehead.
"Be that as it may... What troubleth thee at present is an authority that was bestowed upon humanity to begin with. Thou art unable to suppress the authority by rejecting transformation. Even if thou art Neun, that power will still perform its duty."
This time, Vritra pointed at my forehead with subtle delight.
"...What the heck are you trying to say?"
I inquired of Vritra who had casually changed the subject. Next, she puffed out her chest as though to boast.
"Kukuku, in other words—'Tis thanks to me that thou shalt be saved hereafter, not because thou art Neun."
Vritra just said I'll be saved, right?
Did I hear correctly? I looked questioningly at her.
"Art thou not in possession of multiple vessels identical to thyself? 'Tis one right before thee. Since thou art unable to hold the authority, then give it away."
Saying that, Vritra looked at Shion who was hugging me tightly.
"You're telling me to give it to Shion—"
"Indeed—The core of my plan to multiply the counterdragons and the dragonification system I created is to allow more individuals to share an authority. Since forcible suppression is impossible, thou couldst pass on the authority."
Vritra nodded proudly.
This was an unexpected breakthrough. In the current situation, it was the only way to escape the crisis.
However... I was filled with doubt while in contact with this crying child's delicate body.
"Passing this pitch-black killing intent to Shion... No way. Even if it's shared between two people, half each, it might still distort personalities."
For a child whose psyche had yet to mature, this influence would be extremely pronounced. Perhaps even half the authority would still run amok.
"Hmm... Now is not the time for thee to speak such words."
Vritra pouted and glared disapprovingly at me.
She was very correct, but despite being correct—
"In that case, just have more people share the burden."
At this moment, a voice came from outside the window. A gust of strong wind caused the curtains to billow fiercely. The red mist of blood was blown and dispersed.
Standing behind the lifted curtain—on the wide balcony—were my companions.
"All of you..."
I gasped in surprise. Although I knew they should still be alive, it was a great relief to personally see them alright.
"Goodness gracious... We had to hide and wait simply because you said 'don't come over.' Yet clearly in spite of that, you did not summon us when you needed our help... Having exhausted our patience, we hurried over."
Her long blonde hair fluttering, Lisa stepped into the room gallantly.
"Nii-san, we fully understand the situation now. Since the authority cannot be held by a single person, please entrust this to us too."
Next, Mitsuki spoke decisively.
"Mononobe-kun, I've held a lot of the scrapped factor before, so don't worry about giving me a bigger share. Let me and you be responsible for the lion's share, then spread the rest of the authority across everyone else. Oh, except Shion, of course."
Ariella suggested while approaching me, then she placed her hand on Shion who was still hugging me.
"Umm, Ariella... Whether or not it can be controlled this precisely... Or rather, the method to share out an authority, I still have no idea how to do it..."
While I was worrying, Ren and Firill made thumbs-up gestures.
"Don't worry... Onii-chan, you'll surely succeed."
"Mononobe-kun, do your best."
"But... It's not just about Shion, this might have a bad effect on you girls too—"
Despite their encouragement, I still could not dispel the hesitation in my heart.
"Yuu, believe in Tia and everyone!"
"That's right, Mononobe! We are already 'the same' as you. You have to stop worrying and trust us!"
Tia and Iris insisted strongly. However, I noticed that one person was absent.
"Um, where's Kili?"
"Kili said she had something to do then ran off who knows where."
Tia answered my question then Iris added:
"But I'm sure Kili-chan feels the same as us!"
"...Rather, she would want to join in together."
Firill remarked quietly and everyone nodded in agreement.
Next, everyone looked at me as though seeking my answer.
Since they had all made themselves clear, I could no longer say anything pessimistic. I mustered my determination and looked at everyone in turn.
"I got it... Then please lend me your aid, everyone."
Iris' expression relaxed in relief.
Next, a voice spoke up behind me, timing at the end of our conversation.
"My friend—In that case, our duties are confirmed."
I turned to face her.
"Since your authority can be controlled, kill me—With that, everything will be resolved."
Charlotte spoke matter-of-factly and sighed in resignation. However, I could not accept her suggestion.
"What...? D-Do you really understand? Once your authority is shared out and weakened, the current stalemate will end. With that, there will be nothing left to keep me in check, you know? Nothing more can be done using spirit and determination."
Charlotte pleaded tensely but I shook my head.
"'Nothing more can be done' only applied to just now. Since the struggle between authorities can reduce stress... It must be possible to create conditions for you to keep hanging in there, Charl. So please, keep it up a bit longer."
After refuting Charlotte, I put down Shion and stood up.
"Can you go check on Jeanne? I'm worried about her collapsed in the room alone."
I made my request in a gentle tone of voice. Shion smiled and nodded.
After watching Shion run over to Charlotte's room, I extended my left hand towards Iris and the girls.
"Then let's try to share the authority first. Can everyone extend their hands here?"
Iris was the first to put her hand on top of mine. The rest followed.
Since thoughts could be transmitted from a distance, perhaps this sort of direct contact was actually pointless—Oh well, this was a matter of feeling.
Imagining Kili's hand, currently absent, stacked on top, I closed my eyes.
Vritra interjected at this moment.
"Originally, the transformation of the physical body is intimately linked to the authority. Hence, the sharing of the authority was achieved by remodeling the mate's body. However, thou retained thy outer appearance despite inheriting an authority. Consequently, 'tis likely that thy mates, who have transformed into the same kind, do not share thy authority."
"Then... What should I do?"
Keeping my eyes closed, I asked Vritra.
"Thou shouldst imagine a form for the power then consciously pass it to others. As members of the same kind sharing the same nature, intermingling ought to be easy."
Following her advice, I began to picture the killing intent that did not belong to me, restless in my heart.
Major Loki had said previously, Code Lost was the "lethal gold" that only killed humans.
What I imagined was a dragon embracing gold with a pair of massive wings. With our hearts connected, I passed the dragon's calamitous gold to the others.
First... I began with Ariella.
Reducing the gold weighing down within me, I handed my overflowing killing intent to Ariella.
This feeling was similar to pouring water into a container. Choosing the moment just as Ariella's container was about to fill up, I slowly passed the remainder to the others.
Next, I clearly felt less burdened. The voice of killing intent weighing down my thoughts gradually grew quieter.
With this, it was possible to—
When my authority had weakened to the point that it became controllable, I separated our hands.
"Eh... It's over already?"
A "that's all?" expression was hanging on Iris' face.
"It feels like nothing has changed..."
Head tilted, Mitsuki was looking at her hand.
"I didn't feel anything intense either."
Similarly, Lisa and the girls showed disappointment in their expressions. However, Ariella solemnly placed her hand on her chest.
"I feel... I've changed a lot—Or rather, it feels like going back to the way I was. Although I'm still afraid to pick up a weapon... But since I've become the same as you, Mononobe-kun, I don't dislike it either."
Ariella spoke shyly. I jumped in surprise.
It looked like Ariella and I were the only ones conscious of the authority. Since the amount passed onto the others was quite small, they had not felt any changes.
Such perfect control was beyond my imagination. Since I had intentionally excluded Shion, she was probably unaffected.
"Eh— ...Tia clearly am happy to become the same as Yuu too."
To comfort Tia who was showing displeasure, I stroked her head.
"Don't say that. This is fine. Also, I've got another favor to ask you and the other, Tia."
After saying that, I looked at Charlotte who was now suffering more than before.
One more thing—Once I rescued her, it would be the first time for me to escape the rails that Major Loki had laid.
"What do you... intend to do? I'm really... at my limit already."
Charlotte warned me hoarsely.
"Charl, the reason why you can't control your authority is because the blood has increased too much. In that case, you'll be able to regain control once we dispose of the blood covering the entire island, right?"
After hearing my reply of a question, Charlotte opened her eyes slightly.
"Well... It's true that will work... but... my blood will regenerate instantly to multiply. Even if the blood can be blown away instantly, judging from the total amount..."
"That's why I want to eliminate the blood completely. It's possible if we use Mitsuki's antimatter and my anti-dragon weapons."
"No... That's too much trouble—"
Charlotte showed a grim expression. At this moment, Tia forcefully raised her hand.
"Wait! Tia has a better idea for this!"
Lisa responded in confusion, prompting Tia to smile at her in return and thump her own chest in confidence.
"Tia will help out as Yggdrasil. Although Tia can make it personally now, using its power properly will definitely be hard—That's why husband should be the one to do it!"
Waves were breaking against the concrete pier. Looking past the damaged portion of Midgardsormr, one could see NIFL's fleet on the other side.
Dawn was approaching with a slight white glow on the horizon. Twinkling stars should be in the night sky, but were impossible to see from below due to the red mist of blood covering us.
What we needed to do next would be best served by a wide-open space with good visibility. Hence, we left the clock and went to Midgard's harbor.
"Tia—I'm counting on you."
I took a deep breath and reached out to Tia. Standing behind, watching over us nervously were our companions.
"Don't worry, Yuu. Tia won't take anything from husband."
Smiling, Tia held my hand tightly. A flash of electricity exploded near the horns on her forehead.
Closing her red eyes, she spoke words like an incantation.
"Akashic Record—Connected. Searching for information regarding the second dragon, 'Ultimate Wisdom' Atlantis—Opening weaponry data. Anti-dragon weapon Marduk... Confirming unreleased data. Download... Start."
This was the connection to Yggdrasil that I had experienced a number of times so far.
However, it did not feel unpleasant or give me a headache this time. Currently, I did not feel the terror of having my memories eroded either.
Tia transmitted information while making sure not to increase the strain on my brain. The form of the impossible weapon, which I had created multiple times so far, was further approaching completion inside my mind.
While entrusting everything to Tia, I comprehended the outline of this new power.
Indeed, its scale was not something I could create on my own. However, as long as everyone did it together, it was possible.
The download of weapon data finished at last with Tia's announcement.
"How is it... Yuu? Can you use it?"
"Yeah, it's a bit big in scale, but there's no problem. Also, judging from the current situation, the bigger the better."
Looking at the red mist of blood covering Midgard, I smiled back at Tia.
"Wonderful! Then Tia will give Yuu dark matter next!"
"Then let us do the same together. Nii-san, all yours."
Mitsuki placed her hand on my shoulder.
"Mononobe, take my dark matter—Receive all of it!"
"The principal is at her limit. Failure is not an option."
"My prince won't fail. That's that."
"Mm, Onii-chan is reliable in key moments."
"Mononobe-kun, I believe in you."
Following Mitsuki, everyone touched me.
Using the massive amount of dark matter flowing into me, I transmuted matter according to the blueprints in my mind.
Through the almost complete data and what Tia had told me earlier, I understood Marduk's true form.
Marduk was what Atlantis, the ancestors of humans, had created as a counterweapon to oppose hostile entities from other worlds.
Hence, every piece of weaponry possessed enough power to rival world authorities along with special effects corresponding to respective threats.
Leviathan, controlling repulsive fields, Vritra, whose main body was located in a higher dimension, Hraesvelgr, which could not be attacked by physical means—using their own power, Atlantis created countermeasures to resist these lifeforms.
And right now, this crisis in front of us... could be opposed using this power!
"Hyperspace reversion rocket-assisted artillery—Abyss!"
Flowing out into the air like bubbles, dark matter traced out its outline.
What materialized was a breathtaking gigantic rectangular box. Although it did not feature a long barrel like previous weapons, the box held within itself a massive quantity of destructive weaponry.
This box was a launcher containing a large number of warheads—a missile pod.
I aimed this weapon, which was connected to my consciousness, at the red night sky.
Then I unleashed the power sealed in the box.
Bang bang bang bang bang bang—
The lids of destruction opened together, launching countless missiles into the sky.
Leaving white vapor trails, the missiles scattered in the sky and detonated simultaneously at coordinates I had preset in advance.
Countless "holes" opened up in the red sky.
Abyss was a disintegration weapon that forcibly created hyperspace that was not supposed to exist at the same spatial coordinates, thereby causing the world's corrective force to erase everything at those points together with the surroundings.
No matter how powerful the red blood mist's ability to regenerate and multiply, it was irrelevant in the face of complete eradication.
Piercing the sky with black spots with glowing outlines, countless holes began to implode successively.
Impossibly superimposed spaces were crushed by the world—disappearing together with the light.
Sucked into these holes of self-imploding space, the red mist of blood disappeared.
It was almost as though the world was ridding itself of foreign entities. Coming into view on the other side of the devoured and torn canopy of red was a deep blue.
In the sky that had turned clear, stars were twinkling delicately.
"The red is gone from the sky!"
Tia cried out happily and everyone exclaimed.
"The mist has entirely vanished as far as the eye can see!"
"The remainder is up to the principal."
Lisa and Firill commented. They were looking at the clock tower in the island's center.
"—Believe in Charl. It'll definitely be fine."
"Yes... That's right, Mononobe. Oh, but there's something I've been very curious about..."
For some reason, Iris was looking up at me shyly.
"What is it?"
I asked in response, prompting Iris to speak with determination.
"Umm... Mononobe, when did you start calling the principal Charl?"
Incidentally, it was a promise to address her that way when we were alone, but without thinking, I used it in front of others.
"Oh, actually... I am very curious too."
After Firill nodded, Lisa also looked at me while scratching her cheek.
"Me too... I wanted to ask as soon as I heard it."
"Nii-san, although I intended to discuss it properly with you alone later... Now that the issue has been raised, please explain here and now."
Mitsuki urged me to explain in a business-like manner.
"Well, it's just as friends—"
I explained in a panic but at that moment, a strange sound was heard.
A high-pitched ringing was coming from somewhere.
Ren clutched my shirt from the side and pointed at the sea.
Following her indicated direction, I saw a blinding light on the other side of Midgardsormr's damaged partitions.
"The ship's prow... is glowing?"
Ariella narrowed her eyes and murmured in surprise.
Just as she described, the light was coming from one of the battleships in the fleet. From the prow of the biggest battleship.
"That ship... Somehow, it feels similar."
Tia said in a troubled voice.
"Similar to what?"
When Iris asked for an explanation, Tia replied stiffly.
"A weapon from Atlantis... Marduk..."
I felt an intense chill together with surprise.
'Wanting to actualize the meaning of my birth... What's wrong with that?'
Delivered with resolve prepared to forsake his own life, Major Loki's words flashed through my mind.
Judging from the battleship's size and location, it was probably their flagship. But Major Loki was already dead while the others were under Charlotte's control. There should be no one to operate the battleship.
Come to think of it, it was probably a preset command executed by autonomous machinery.
As for why he did this... As a precaution in case all his other plans failed.
"Major Loki—How deeply did you think about the worst-case scenario?"
I gritted my teeth and recounted the bitter thoughts in my heart.
Developments still remained under his control despite having unfolded to this point.
I had succeeded in restraining Code Lost and putting the situation under control without killing Charlotte, yet still I could not escape his control.
"Yuu, if it's a weapon similar to Marduk, that part is the main cannon!"
Tia warned anxiously.
Main cannon—and that type of thing was aimed at Midgard. I did not know its firepower, but if handled poorly, Midgard could very well be obliterated.
The other side's objective was probably to destroy evidence by erasing Midgard and exterminating the Ds. My spine trembled at how obsessed Major Loki was with leaving behind the achievements of a "hero," even when all his plans failed.
"I'll deploy a repulsive field to deflect the trajectory! So everyone, give me your dark matter again—"
"No good! Main cannon is Babel, relying on a repulsive field won't stop it!"
Tia interrupted me and cried out.
I remembered. Marduk's main cannon, Babel, had been the decisive weapon in defeating Leviathan. An imperfect repulsive field was not going to hold.
"T-Then we have to destroy it before it fires!"
Saying that, Iris summoned her fictional armament, but Lisa reached out to stop her.
"Hold on! There must be many people still on the battleship!"
Iris went pale and stopped.
What to do—
I racked my brain furiously to think. If I borrowed the girls' aid to generate a large amount of Ether Wind, it might be possible to protect ourselves with an outer layer that blocked physical interference. However, it would not be possible to defend everyone on the island.
"Tia will stop it! Tia can hack it once Tia goes near!"
Deploying her fictional armament wings, Tia took flight.
But at that moment, the bizarre noise grew more high-pitched and the light on the ship grew stronger and stronger.
"It's coming...! There's no time!"
"Our only choice is to block it head on!"
Ariella declared sharply and walked to the front of us.
"Lend your dark matter to me, everyone! I will deploy the biggest shield possible!"
Ren immediately nodded and hugged Ariella's waist. I hastily placed my hand on Ariella's shoulder while Iris and the rest of the girls pressed their hands against Ariella's body.
"Tia will hurry to the ship while we're blocking it!"
Tia nodded and flew into the sky.
At that moment, a beam of light was released from the ship. This was a terrifying light filled with darkness inside. It was extremely similar to the energy beam accompanying the supergravitional zone produced by Babel.
"Deploy shield—Seras Athena!"
The shield appearing over the sea blocked the scene of despair.
Expanding radially, the shield's form was reminiscent of a crystalline snowflake.
Accompanied by rumbling, the shockwave split the sea surface in two.
Blocking the battleship's attack, the gigantic shield glowed at the edges.
But after a few seconds, deep cracks appeared in the shield.
Ariella raised her right arm, the one equipped with her fictional armament, and made a pained sound.
"Sorry—I'm probably not helping much."
With the smallest generating capacity, I could only pass on a small amount of dark matter. Regretful of that, I apologized to Ariella but she shook her head lightly.
"It's fine... Mononobe-kun, you've already given me plenty of power. Last time... I quizzed you... on why my fictional armament was defensive gear, right?"
While doing everything she could to maintain the shield, Ariella asked in fragmented speech.
"Yeah—But my answer was totally wrong..."
The correct answer was because she must not wield a weapon in any shape or form. Aware of her own talent in murder, she had deliberately avoided giving herself a weapon to kill people easily.
"At the time, Mononobe-kun, you said... I did it... to protect Ren and the others. It was definitely way off... but... this answer is... very admirable. I want it to be true. That's why—"
Ariella's fictional armament was gradually disappearing. She was probably pouring all of her dark matter into the shield.
"I have to protect everyone. The people I must protect are behind the shield. I will block it no matter what comes!!"
Dark matter appeared at the shield's cracks, repairing the damage.
Despite cracking, shearing and shattering damage, the continuously repairing shield persisted in blocking the shot while lingering on the verge of collapse.
"Onee-chan, do your best!!"
Ren cried out as hard as she could. Large beads of sweat were appearing on her forehead. Right now, what sustained the shield was probably the dark matter from Ren's generating capacity that far exceeded the average.
Squeezing every last drop from her massive capacity to generate dark matter, she passed all of it to Ariella.
"Do your best, Ariella!"
Seeing Ren working hard, I continued to output my minuscule dark matter and encouraged Ariella.
Ariella nodded firmly and continued to block the light of destruction with the giant shield.
The instant a critical noise sounded, the moment of termination arrived.
Ariella's shield had not been penetrated. The light illuminating the shield's outline instantly vanished.
Ariella cried out in surprise then lost balance and fell over.
Ren cried out frantically. At the same time, I caught and supported Ariella.
"Don't worry... I'm just, a bit dizzy."
Ariella smiled wryly and looked at the shield collapsing on the sea surface.
"Tia-chan made it!"
Looking out at the battleship afar, Iris observed energetically.
The glowing horizon was turning red while the stars were gradually disappearing.
"...What a long night it was."
Mitsuki's voice was filled with fatigue as she sat down on the ground. It looked like she still had a fever. Sure enough, she had been pushing herself the whole time.
"Yeah, really long..."
After I concurred, the portable terminal in my shirt pocket vibrated. An incoming call.
I pressed the button to pick up and held the terminal to my ear, only to hear the voice of my cheerful "friend"—
"Why... am I still alive?"
Lying on the ground, Loki Jotunheim stared blankly into the dawn sky.
"Naturally, that's because I healed you."
Surprisingly, the answer instantly came from beside his ear.
Shifting his gaze, he saw a young woman looking down at him.
"...Kili Surtr Muspelheim—"
Loki recited her name in surprise.
"You're so lucky. Since the damage to the internal organs was on the light side, it was within my power to heal others using biogenic transmutation, you know? Oh well, there might be after effects and rejection reactions afterwards, but whatever."
She shrugged lightly while speaking coldly.
"Why...? Was it to make the authority's transfer... incomplete...?"
Loki asked "why?" in a different sense than earlier.
Rather than wanting to know the cause of his survival, he wanted to know why the decision had been made to keep him alive.
"Wrong. It's to prevent you from being etched into Yuu's heart."
Kili answered enviously. She sighed deeply.
"If you died, Yuu will never forget you. Perhaps you might become the most important thing in his heart. This is something I absolutely forbid."
After saying that, Kili turned around.
Watching her recede into the distance, Loki muttered quietly.
But after a while, he began to laugh.
Had he died, what would have happened afterwards? Obliterated together with Midgard at dawn? Although an incomplete replica of a weapon from a lost civilization, it was capable of firing one shot on the level of the original.
But right now, he was alive under the dawn sky. In other words, all his plans had ended in failure. To think he, supposed to be dead, had survived because of a certain person's excessively self-centered reason. This was completely out of left field.
"How inane—This humanlike ending."
His lips twisted in a grin, Loki muttered. With difficulty, he forced this body, barely clinging onto life, to sit up.
Now that he had survived, all he could do was apply himself to his work and given responsibilities.
The thought of having to deal with a defeat's troublesome aftermath felt exceptionally depressing. Be that as it may, even though this was the worst-case scenario, he had still achieved his minimum objective.
Gray had discovered the critical point of her ability to control her authority—Through this incident, rulers trying to exploit her would probably realize their own folly.
The demands made upon her were going to be withdrawn and with that, the dream of achieving absolute world peace would vanish.
"Well, but this bit of accomplishment isn't enough for a 'hero'..."
Despite the intense self-mockery and sarcasm in his remark, Loki's face was showing delight.
|Back to Chapter 3||Return to Main Page||Forward to Epilogue|