Unlimited Fafnir:Volume 10 Prologue
A few hours prior to Ariella's termination of her "everyday life"...
Having broken Midgardsormr's defense network, NIFL's inspection delegates landed successively on the shores of Midgard, the educational institution for people with the power of dark matter generation.
(—So that is the vanguard.)
Mica Stuart gazed at the approaching men in army uniforms while silently adjusting her breathing.
As the personal secretary of Midgard's chief administrator, Charlotte B. Lord, Mica handled the majority of day-to-day business on her behalf. Currently, Mica was hidden amidst lush tropical vegetation, concealing her presence.
Rustle, rustle, rustle—
Accompanied by rhythmic sounds of footsteps, dark shadows moved across the ground, sweeping past the trees that served as Mica's hiding place.
NIFL's landed troops were walking on a paved road less than one meter away from Mica. Every soldier was carrying automatic small arms while clad in black armored protectors. Visiting Midgard under the pretext of inspection, their equipment was definitely way overboard. Under the scorching sun, they must be feeling extremely hot.
(Oh well, in regards to dressing inappropriately for the season, I am in the same position.)
Recalling her own anachronistic maid uniform, Mica smiled wryly.
Designed to expose as little skin as possible, the maid uniform's sleeves were as long as the skirt. In the harsh outdoor heat, wearing it was honestly quite an ordeal.
Nevertheless, ever since she started serving Charlotte, Mica had never spent a single waking second of her life without wearing this maid uniform.
Her attire was determined by her position. Mica wore this outfit as a reminder of the "way of life" she had chosen.
As for the NIFL soldiers' combat gear, that too was due to the responsibilities of their job.
In other words, what was starting now was not an inspection but a war between Midgard and NIFL.
However, unlike NIFL, whose actions were justified by the name of inspection, Midgard did not have a righteous cause to resist them.
Hence, such a cause must be created first and foremost.
Mica recalled her mission, firmly engraved in her heart, while waiting for the formation of NIFL troops to pass by. However, she had no intention of allowing them to pass through just like that. The soldiers were advancing towards the school grounds and the girls dormitories, which would spell defeat on Midgard's side if they were to take control of either destination.
Mica exhaled deeply then slowly drew out the dagger from the scabbard at her waist.
This dagger's blade was already dyed red from blood. In truth, it had not harmed any victim. This blood was the linchpin for exerting dominance, conferred by the master.
Just a single person would be enough—She must drive this linchpin of dominance into one of them without alerting the others!
The instant a soldier at the end of the procession passed by, Mica rushed out of the dense foliage with a slash of the dagger.
The blade accurately struck a gap in his protector, leaving a shallow scratch on the soldier's skin.
Noticing the noise and pain, the soldier looked back swiftly and aimed his gun at Mica. With just a slight delay, the other soldiers turned around and raised their weapons together.
But within that instant of an opening, Mica had already hidden the dagger inside her sleeth. Only the soldier at the tail of the procession was aware that he had been scratched. However, Mica no longer needed to concern herself with that.
"My name is Mica Stuart. I am the personal secretary of Charlotte-sama, Midgard's chief administrator. I have received orders to lead the way for you during this inspection."
Before they could interrogate her, Mica introduced herself respectfully.
Mica could hear troubled feelings mixed among the noisy voices.
Amidst a tense silence, Mica slowly lifted her head as though giving time for the soldiers to awaken from their shock.
Hence, the soldiers, whose bodies were stiff from nervousness, gradually relaxed their expressions. Perhaps they felt relief after noticing that Mica was a "mature woman."
They were probably the most wary against users of dark matter who possessed powers transcending human common sense. The girls known as Ds would lose their powers during pregnancy or after the age of twenty or so. In other words, the fact that Mica was an adult stood as evidence that she was not a D.
"—Put your guns down."
A man, apparently the leader, issued the order. The NIFL soldiers all lowered their guns for now with the only exception being the soldier whom Mica had scratched with the dagger.
This was only natural. The master he obeyed was no longer the leader of this unit.
Through the blood flowing into him, he heard his master's voice faintly.
Midgard needed an excuse. An excuse allowing them to engage in self-defense.
And right now, such an excuse was nowhere to be found. Hence, they must create their own excuse.
Obeying the master's command, the soldier pulled the trigger.
The sound of heavy gunfire was produced consecutively. After confirming that several shots had pierced her body, Mica felt intense pain that seemed as though it would burn up her consciousness.
"What are you doing!?"
The other soldiers reacted in alarm and subdued him, thus halting the sound of gunfire. However, he began to bite his comrades' arms in an apparent state of insanity.
Watching them, Mica applied pressure to her bleeding abdomen while speaking to the NIFL soldiers.
"NIFL's hostile action... confirmed. Midgard shall invoke right to self-defense... From this point onwards, Midgard shall switch to defense. We have recorded evidence... Do not even think about denial of responsibility."
Mica motioned with gaze towards the security cameras installed on the road's outdoor lighting.
Although achieved through forcible means, NIFL's culpability was now an accomplished fact. With this, NIFL could no longer unilaterally claim the side of justice.
"No, what just happened was—"
One of the soldiers tried to argue but his eyes lost focus when a berserk comrade bit him.
The bitten soldiers slowly turned their heads towards their other teammates.
"What the hell is going on...?"
Swallowed by this bizarre atmosphere, they raised their guns partially on instinct.
However, these men in extremely abnormal states attacked their teammates instead, showing no fear in the face of guns.
Screams and gunshots reverberated.
Mica took her eyes off the tragic scene of carnage. Dragging her body that was starting to repair itself autonomously, she departed.
There was no going back now. Her heart was occupied by mild regret and worry for her master.
'I will use this authority to protect the world. However—I do not know if humanity can be saved.'
Past words said by her previous master, Leonardo B. Lord, seemed to ring in Mica's ears.
Currently, Charlotte must be making the same expression as Mica's former master had in the past. Amidst the intense pain that was disrupting her consciousness, Mica was filled with sad certainty.
"Major Loki, members of the landing contingent have started slaughtering one another—"
"Due to the first contingent opening fire and causing casualties, Midgard has issued an official protest to us, declaring the invocation of their right to self-defense—"
"Multiple barriers have been confirmed, deployed by Ds to surround the school grounds at Midgard's center as well as the dormitories. Breaking through with infantry firepower will be a challenge!"
Loki Jotunheim frowned slightly in response to the succession of displeasing reports.
Communication officers staying on the Naglfar's bridge were turning livid due to the unexpected situation, their voices growing shrill. Signs of fear were appearing on their faces.
Surely they must find the phenomenon of soldiers suddenly engaging in mutual slaughter quite incomprehensible. However, Loki already expected this.
(—Gray's authority huh?)
Charlotte B. Lord was definitely the reason why the soldiers had gone berserk.
It was common knowledge among the ruling class that she was virtually immortal and wielded powers capable of interfering with the human mind and body.
A number of people in the ruling class had "contracted" with Charlotte. By accepting Charlotte's dominance, they would receive her protection and become immune to disease.
Although death from old age or mortal wounds resulting from major loss of body parts could not be prevented, a "life in good health" was probably more valuable than anything for the rich and powerful.
Becoming Gray's servants on their own volition, these people lurked in governments, financial groups and businesses in various countries, taking action as extensions of her limbs whenever necessary. The berserk soldiers were most likely in a similar state.
However, the soldiers were supposed to be purged of traitors. Within organizations, NIFL was the only one that had successfully eliminated all servants of Gray.
Hence, this was probably an attack initiated by her. It would be easy to prove which side instigated hostilities first. Naturally, securing victory was a minimum prior condition.
"Deploy unmanned weapons. Leave the ground invasion and suppression of berserk soldiers to them. Order intact teams to advance towards Midgard's core from underground."
Loki read from the monitors on the bridge while calmly issuing orders.
This level of resistance was within expectation. He had already prepared countermeasures.
It would be impossible for ordinary forces to breach areas where Ds could use their powers on a large scale. However, chances of victory were very much in NIFL's favor for close-quarters combat in cramped underground environments. Ds were unused to combat against humans. Besides, virtually none of them were capable of murder.
Hence, Midgard would fall eventually as long as they invaded from underground. As for the barriers above ground, it would be possible to breach them using heavy weaponry.
(Gray is thinking that stalling for time would be enough—Too foolish and naive a notion.)
Glancing at a monitor that showed a timer for when the operation had started, Loki steepled his fingers together.
Even though the organization had been purged of Gray's servants, NIFL was still under the command of Asgard, which remained under her influence. Hence, she still held the reins of power.
It was only a matter of time before the order for an imposed inspection would be rescinded. Be that as it may, Gray and Midgard's fates were already sealed. Rather, it would be better to say that the outcome they were facing was going to be more tragic the more they resisted.
"—I have already killed you all. Destiny is set in stone."
Loki muttered quietly while gazing sharply at Midgard's image on a monitor.
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